by D.W. Lundberg

Saturday, February 20, 2010





Send-ups. Satire. Slapstick. A Comedy's primary goal is to make you laugh - to provide you a cathartic, emotional release from everyday life. Characters and situations are often exaggerated for comedic effect. Popular trends of 2000-2009 included spoofs (the Scary Movies, Meet The Spartans), expletive-heavy sex comedies (The 40-Year Old Virgin, Superbad), and Will Ferrell. Of course, what actually qualifies as "comedy" depends on you, the viewer - because what's funny to one person may not be quite so funny to someone else. Whatever your personal taste, it all comes down to one rule: If it doesn't make you laugh, or the humor doesn't at least reveal a few recognizable truths about life, then it fails as Comedy.

The Top Five:

5. Ocean's Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001)

One of the decade's great entertainments – and a testament to the virtues of star power. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, Elliot Gould, Carl Reiner – it's almost too much for one movie to handle. Yet director Steven Soderbergh manages to juggle multiple character threads without ever losing his audience, so that we know exactly who's doing what, and where they're doing it. What's more, he remembers that movies, at their core, are supposed to be fun. Ted Griffin's script is a treasure trove of snappy dialogue exchanges, and the actors have such an easy rapport you get the sense they really enjoy each other's company – the spark is palpable. Critics blasted Soderbergh and Co. for relying too much on style, not enough on substance. To which I say: What's the problem with that? When a movie's as effortless and enjoyable as this, that's substance enough.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010





Bullets. Chases. Unadulterated escapism. A film typically defined by fast editing, booming stereo soundtrack, and the characters' insistence on resolving their conflicts via gun battles, fist fights, sword fights, and the like. The Action/ Adventure films of 2000-2009 (for better or worse) saw the return of Indiana Jones after a 19-year hiatus, introduced us to new action heroes like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Vin Diesel, ushered in the martial arts film as mainstream cinema, and even dared to ask, "Are you not entertained?" The most satisfying Action films provide the expected thrills (and then some) without insulting the audience's intelligence.

The Top Five: 
5. Banlieue 13 (District 13) (Pierre Morel, 2004)

No other film this decade featured more exciting stunt work. This canny French import showcased the art of parkour (dictionary-defined as an "athletic activity in which the participant seeks to move quickly and fluidly through an area... by surmounting obstacles such as walls and railings and leaping across open spaces"), and it blew a lot of people's minds. Stuntmen-turned- movie-stars Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle leap across rooftops, scale walls, defy gravity – and all without the aid of wires or CGI. Yes, the acting's hokey. And the plot's a virtual rip-off of Escape From New York and 48 HRS., to just about every buddy flick ever made. But if the genre's sole purpose is to get your pulse racing, to wow you with physical action, then this movie's fluid and eye-popping action sequences are hard to beat. They truly are one of a kind.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


So it's been well over a month now since the nation's top critics unleashed their "Best Films Of The Decade" lists on the unsuspecting public. In newspapers, magazines, on the Internet - everyone got their chance to comment on the films that "spoke" to them above all others, the ones that mattered most, from 2000-2009. (Was anyone else aware this decade was unofficially called "The Noughties?" As in, "The 80s," "The 90s," and now "The Noughties?" Me neither. Apparently it's got something to do with other English-speaking countries referring to "zeros" as "noughts." Thanks, Wikipedia.)

I realize these lists might not have caught your attention as much as they did mine. For all the griping and growling I do about critics and how they just don't "get it," it's funny I'm still an avid reader of such things. Maybe it's because I just love reading about movies in any shape or form. Maybe it's just that I love having something to complain about.