Author: Guy Love

Undergraduate Philosophy student at Virginia Tech, passing time with too many movies.

Top Ten Films of 2010 (In No Order)

A Serbian Film
This is the most disturbing movie anyone will ever see, or at least I hope so. It sets a new bar in the torture sub-genre of horror that Saw created several years ago. I’m confident in saying that this is the only movie that has ever made me genuinely sick to my stomach. That said, what it does, it does well. This is a very niche genre, so not much praise will ever be given to movies like this, but it does its job very well. I feel a bit queasy writing this right now.

Black Swan
Good performances from both Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. It reinvigorated the story of Swan Lake and was twisted in its own way.

A great thriller out of China. I saw this a long time ago, so I can’t say too much about it now, but it is good.

The Fighter
I debated between this and The King’s Speech, but I like the story in The Fighter more, it’s a bit darker and a bit more real to me. There’s more struggle, and there were strong performances all around.

Blue Valentine
A nice heartbreaker with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. I’ve been a fan of Gosling ever since I saw United States of Leland a few years ago. He’s definitely an underrated actor. The two of them work well together, and the sexual tension in this movie is very real.

127 Hours
Being an outdoor-enthusiast of sorts (trail-running) This movie felt close to me. Certain scenes of hallucination of drinks were all too real, and Franco gave a great performance in a tough role (not too many actors can engage the camera for an hour without any cast around them)

I Love You, Philip Morris
This got buried somehow, but both Carrey and McGregor gave strong performances, but quirky movies like this seem to get shafted by Awards shows. This is an extraordinary story that is shocking to be true.

Secret of Kells (2009/2010)
Technically a 2009 film, this didn’t make it stateside until 2010, so I feel I should include it. The story is good, and the visuals are phenomenal, who says you need 3D for a visual masterpiece?

The Ghost Writer
Ewan McGregor was great in this, with a good cast surrounding him. A subtle thriller, the ending was well executed and not overplayed.

Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole
This might seem out of place, but this movie has the best (3D) animation of any movie to date. It set the bar pretty high and is far more visually pleasing than any Pixar movie.

Special mention:
The King’s Speech
Get Low (a great character piece and Robert Duvall was perfect)

The Death Of Two Swans

Swan Lake is story so overdone in ballet that it has all but lost its effectiveness as a story, which is unfortunate as the story is quite good. It tells of a young princess (the white swan/swan queen) who falls in love with a prince, but is turned into a swan and only love can break the spell. Then enters the black swan, her evil twin sister, who steals the prince from her. This is all a straightforward fairy tale so far. However, Swan Lake is true to life rather than fairy-tale, as the black swan is successful in stealing her sister’s love, and so the swan queen kills herself in the final act. It is a quite powerful tale, and understandably overdone in exactly the same way. Darren Aronofsky, however, does not exactly follow the norm.

Anyone who has seen a true Aronofsky film (Pi, Requiem For A Dream) knows to expect a certain level of discordant insanity. However, in those two films, both early works, a certain level of finish is lacking from the final product, like a fine piece of silk with a slight stain leftover from before it was dyed. Aronofsky is older now, and having built a reputation, has garnered the ability to use more talented, or at least well known, names to fill the roles in his movies. Thus enters Natalie Portman. Sometime criticized as being playing to the Academy a bit much, no one can honestly refute her talent, regardless of role choice. She’s done enough contrasting roles to etch herself into film history, going back as far as Leon: The Professional. In Black Swan, she, in an Oscar-worthy performance, truly embodied both the roles of the White and Black Swans, eventually killing herself just to reach perfection, showing that one cannot reach perfection without selfless sacrifice. Fearing for both her life on the stage and her true life, she becomes consumed with the idea that Lily (Mila Kunis) is trying to strip her of everything she has worked for.

Aronofsky has a certain uncanny ability to take scenes that might otherwise be perverse and turn them into impressive expressions. He uses a striking combination of the senses to produce a near perfect effect. He’s demonstrated this in each of his movies, with for example, in Requiem For A Dream, the mother’s insanity and hospitalization coupled with her son’s loss of his arm from heroin addiction and his girlfriend’s self-destruction from heroin addiction. In Black Swan, he plays on the latent sexuality and seduction from the original Swan Lake, pushing it into the forefront with an extended sequence of Nina, the swan queen, (Natalie Portman) attempting to find her inner Black Swan through “self-gratification”, ultimately leading up to her embracement of her inner lust through Lily, the black swan, in an intensely erotic scene between the two in Nina’s bedroom the night before their first stage rehearsal.

In this film, Aronofsky too the raw power of his older work and combined it with finesse, fitting for a tale about the exact same struggle. I’m weary to give this an A+, but I really want to, so I’ll just let it straddle the line.


The Social Network AKA Mark Zuckerberg Is An Asshole

This movie is two hours of Mark Zuckerberg being an asshole.  The viewer should be able to feel some sort of compassion for the protagonist of a film, and character flaws, such as his “assholery” should represent some deep-seeded flaw or conflict that the character is trying to make up for.  That is, if such a relatable inner conflict exists.

Mark Zuckerberg steals the idea from facebook from a couple other students, who row crew, in an attempt to make himself feel better about his recent break-up, during which, his (ex)girlfriend stated she “had a thing” for guys who row crew.  He convinces his best friend to join him in his venture, mainly because he needs money.  He turns around by, supposedly, falsely planting a story in The Crimson (Harvard newspaper) about his roommate abusing an animal.  He does this out of jealousy from his friends’ acceptance into a Final Club, which at the beginning of the film, is shown to be Zuckerberg’s one wish in college.

A horribly undeveloped subplot of the movie is Zuckerberg’s failed relationship with a Boston University girl.  This is never fully developed, and it left me with a sense of unease.  Right after his break-up, in a drunken fit, Zuckerberg blogs many terrible things about the girl, knowing full well she would read them.  Then when facebook starts taking off like wildfire, he makes sure there is a story in the Boston University newspaper, a final “fuck you” to the girl he loved, as if to say, “look how good I am without you.”

Zuckerberg made his money from being good and being an asshole.  I usually appreciate people who do what they have to do in order to succeed, but Zuckerberg seriously overdid it.

All that being said: great script, great actors, great director, but there just wasn’t a movie worthy story here.  I have a lot of respect for Jesse Eisenberg (See: The Education of Charlie Banks, The Squid and the Whale) and David Fincher (Fight Club), so it’s a shame for both of them to have their names attached to this.

C+ (and that is being generous)

The Guy Who Regretted Being Creepy

There are so many great detective novels and so few movie adaptations, that I’m glad to see one this good. The Girl With Dragon Tattoo (Men Who Hate Women in the original Swedish) tells the story of a blacklisted journalist(Michael Nyqvist) and a young gothic hacker(Noomi Rapace) attempting to solve a 40-year-old murder of the daughter of one of the wealthy Vanger brothers. As the story unravels you find that the Lisbeth, Noomi Rapace’s character, has great justification for her interest in the case and utter loathing of men. I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline, but there is one powerful scene worth mentioning. Lisbeth is under custody of a guardian due to violent tendencies when she was younger. Her new guardian is a creep who forces her first to give him a blowjob in exchange for access to her bank accounts (he, being her guardian, controls her money). Later, she goes to his apartment armed with a hidden camera and catches him on tape beating her, strapping her to a bed and brutally raping her. As payback, she comes back, ties him up, shoves a dildo up his ass, and leaves the recording of his rape playing on the television in the room. Needless to say, she gained unlimited access to her funds.  This girl is one bad motherfucker, in the best since of the phrase, and she is reason enough to watch this movie. It may just be that I don’t pay much attention to Swedish film, but this girl really hasn’t done anything notable before this, and she is one of the most impressive female protagonists I’ve seen in quite some time. It will be interesting to see Carrie Mulligan play her in the American version of the film. She’s actually perfect for the role physically, but I’m not sure she can play such a strong female role since her awkwardness is what made her so adorable in An Education. I’m looking forward to watching the next two in this series over the next couple days.

I plan to write a more all-encompassing review of the whole trilogy once I’ve seen the other two movies, so for now, I apologize for not including much of the plot in this.


Forget Me

I got a text from a friend of mine asking to go see Remember Me about an hour later.  I’d heard mixed reviews and figured it might as well be worth a watch.  I went into the movie expecting Robert Pattinson to fall madly in love with a girl and look at her from the corner of his eye for two hours, and I was pleasantly surprised that his inability to look directly at people worked well with his character, a 22-year-old college student who only audits his classes with no plans of graduating.  He has no ideas what to do with his life.  Discovering his older brother after he committed suicide causes Pattinson’s character into gambit against his father and caused him to refuse to make any decisions concerning his future.  He meets his young female companion through a bet to get back at her father, a cop who had beat the shit out Pattinson the night before.  The two fall in love however.  This story is told time and time again, but it worked well in the context.  The girl’s father is bitter and overprotective of his daughter as his wife/her mother was shot in cold blood before her eyes when she was eleven.

The movie plays out as one would expect; Pattinson and the father get into an argument, Pattinson confesses his lie to the girl. She gets upset and leaves, but later forgives him.  The movie nearly comes full circle when Pattinson’s father, played by Pierce Brosnan, begins to pay more attention to family matters after a rather traumatic incident with his young daughter.  Because of the incident, Pattinson has to meet with lawyers in his father’s office.

This is where the movie turns to utter shit, rendering it unwatchable.  This is the first movie I’ve almost walked out of, ever.  The movie takes place throughout 2001, and this is unimportant for most of the movie.  At the end however, the camera zooms out from Pattinson looking out of the window of his father’s office to show him in the World Trade Center.  The date “September 11, 2001” appears at the bottom of the screen.  At this point the entire theater groans in unison.  The movie ends showing reactions from all the characters to the towers falling, knowing Pattinson is inside, and Pattinson reads a letter to his deceased brother.

I have no problem with the use of tragedy in movies, but it had not place here.  It was in terrible taste and added nothing to the movie other than forcing cheap tears from the audience.  Pattinson needed to die at the end, there is no way around that.  It was needed for the movie to come full-circle.  A more fitting way for this to have occurred would have been for him to have been shot on the subway however.  It would have stayed within the plot, rather than adding in a real occurrence to force emotion downt he throats of the audience.


yes, F-

Do you get turned on easily?

It’s a pretty well known fact that Michael Cera really only has one role. That being said, he epitomizes this role in Youth In Revolt. arts-youth-revolt-584 Boy is virgin. Boy is awkward. Girl is sexy. Boy meets girl. Boy goes through hardships and competes with other boy.  Boy loses girl. Boy repents. Boy gets girl.   It’s a familiar plot sequence, but Michael Cera does it well.  This movie is pretty humorous, and a few scenes will send you into uncontrollable fits of laughter. Giving away a little of the film, the sequence where Michael Cera is on magic mushrooms reading a book about sexual positions is one of the best drug sequences I’ve seen in a while.  It’s worth a watch if you’re a fan, but if you’re snowed in like most of the country, just watch one of his other films and it’ll be about the same.


Damn it Watson!

I walked into the theater on Christmas Day expecting a blockbuster hit, not a stellar movie.  Mr. Holmes and the Doctor havesherlock-holmes-posterthoroughly silenced my fears.  Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes provides a well-balanced mixture of action and plot, with a few momentary slow-motion glimpses into Holmes’ thoughts.  In several fight scenes, one sees first-hand Holmes’ famous deductive reasoning in what is almost a “How-to” for concise ass-kicking.

I have heard frustrations from a couple die-hard fans of the books about the decision to make Doc Watson into more of an action-inclined character as opposed to his previous meek self.  His past life provided a counter-balance to Holmes’ madness, and this is missing in the new Watson.  Instead, he complements Holmes, providing a calm mind as well as a swift helping hand in battle.  Their school-girl banter shown several throughout the film is reminiscent of the television show Gilmore Girls.  This is however, not a bad thing.  This banter provides a quick reprise from the much darker storyline.

*********Spoiler below*********

Die-hard fans of the detective will be pleased to know that Moriarty does make an appearance in the film, and the film ends with an introduction to Holmes’ next adventure, and the next film: the pursuit of Moriarty.