Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011 Part 1: The Best Of (So Far)

(REEL RHINO NOTE: There is far too little feedback on these posts…do one of two things for me PLEASE…in the comments section, post your top 3 films of 2011 OR post your #1 favorite movie of the year so far. Thanks!!)

So I got called into work yesterday, keeping me from two things:

1) Enjoying a nice family Saturday evening .
2) Seeing a movie.

Since I didn’t get to anything yesterday, Larry Crown stands as the last flick I have reviewed…that is unacceptable Rhino!

I do plan on seeing Horrible Bosses today and The Zookeeper at some point. Yes, Zookeeper has been getting raked over the coals, but I am a sucker for Kevin James in anything and since I am quite easy to entertain, I think I will like it. Paul Blart: Mall Cop is an exceptionally fun and family friendly movie. Not that I intentionally shoot for family friendly, but I think that they pulled off a great movie without getting remotely dirty, and that is something to be applauded.

Given that we are at the halfway point through the year, I have decided to offer my humble vision of the best of 2011 (so far). I will give you my top 5 and some honorable mentions and I will drop in some of my original reviews from the site. I give you:

2011: The Cinema World According to Reel Rhino
So this list is basically just my five and four and a half horn reviews. I hope this might help guide your rentals as these find their way to On-Demand and home video options, and for two of them, at least, a chance to see them in the theater when they are released later this year.  The "briefs" are excerpts from the reviews for each of these films...enjoy and LET ME KNOW YOUR TOP PICKS SO FAR!

“I absolutely loved this movie! It was made with the highest of production values and the city of New York is a palpable character in this film. Matt Damon is stellar (as always) and Emily Blunt is clearly established as one of Hollywood's finest young actresses. Don't agree with me? Go see this movie. Yes, it is high concept and it is full of rich characters with roots in the oldest of human literature. It is based on the short story "Adjustment Team" by a legend in Science Fiction, Phillip K. Dick. I have heard complaints that this is more a romance than a sci-fi, but I disagree. There is such thing as a romantic sci-fi…it is this film.”

“Win Win is an indie drama built around the spine of a sports film, loaded with comedic wit. I have never been a huge fan of Greco-Roman wrestling. Of course there was Vision Quest in the 1980's, but otherwise, when it came to wrestling, I was always more of a WWF guy. As far as the wrestling goes in this film, you will want more. The hunger that you have for a stronger ending to the wrestling story will be satiated by the resolution of the drama.”

“I’d like to say J.J. is a wunderkind director, but he’s been in the biz for over 20 years. In the 1980’s Abrams helped Steven Spielberg repair home movies he had made as a kid. That’s a pretty good break for a young wannabe filmmaker and this was just the first of Abrams/Spielberg interactions that would ultimately lead to this project. While Abrams calls Spielberg the Grandfather of Super 8; Spielberg maintains that Abrams could have travelled this road on his own. Super 8 is something of a Goonies meets E.T. alien adventure film, that is surrounded by all the mystery that both directors love.  Well Super 8 is loaded with mystery. For starters, the mystery of who the hell are these kid actors? If they were to remake the Goonies, I would vote these folks in. Elle Fanning is charming and a chip off the old family block and she is the only recognizable face in that crowd of younglings. Super 8 is pure adventure from start to finish.

Will Ferrell shines in an uncharacteristic dramatic role.  “This film is darker than I would have expected. There is less comedy and more drama than I would have expected. Folks, this is a great film. I would call it feel good, but only for the catharsis that you experience alongside Nick as he fights off his demons. Through Nick, we learn about life from his sequence of tragedy of errors, but never really to the point that we pity him, but instead mostly where we actually will root for him to succeed.”

“Hanna is not a perfect movie, but it is cool as can be. It may have released through an American studio, but with Wright at the helm and with the exotic locales, this flick has European sensibilities and I mean that as the greatest of compliment. The tone is darker and the overall look is more gritty than say SALT, by comparison, another spy thriller that I felt came off as very commercial. I will say that this film was greatly fueled by the COMPELLING original score from The Chemical Brothers. Yes, the Block Rockin' Beats, Chemical Brothers. It is just enough retro with lots of rockin' to fuel this jet forward in a big way. Single-handed, this score upped Hanna a full notch in my book.”
The Way Back (4.5 of 5 Horns) – A group of prisoners from a Siberian gulag escape and walk 4000 miles to freedom, travelling all the way to India, completely on foot….compelling AND TRUE. Peter Wier is one of the all-time great directors and the cast includes Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, Saoirse Ronan, and another great Colin Farrell role…see also, In Bruges. Seriously, see In Bruges ASAP…a truly great film with a wonderful performance b y Farrell…Oscar nominated as well for In Bruges.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (5 of 5 Horns) – Maybe it was just Bieber-Fever, but I was enthralled by the life story of this young man. While it is filled with a variety of catchy tween-pop tunes, this movie is more documentary than musical and it delivers a wholly enjoyable tale.  We (myself included) get so down on the likes of Bieber, N'Sync, BSB, NKOTB, Miley Cyrus, etc., that we can often lose sight of the forest for the know, I never could figure that idiom out, but I do love saying it!

Cedar Rapids (4.5 of 5 Horns) – Ed Helms can carry a film, but having John C. Reilly, Sigourney Weaver, and Anne Heche along for the ride doesn’t hurt. This film is funny and sweet, but wholly an adult comedy.

Barney’s Version (4.5 of 5 Horns) – A well-made film weaving a well-told story. Paul Giamatti shines as the titular Barney and the air of mystery wrapped in something of a love story is both touching and edge-of-your-seat mysterious.

Battle: Los Angeles (4.5 of 5 Horns) – Vivid, action-packed, and for fleeting moments, touching. This movie would have been a fine summer blockbuster release. Aaron Eckhart is always entertaining.

Rango (4.5 of 5 Horns) – The anti-animation-animation, this movie is a spaghetti western for adults, presented as a kids film with Nickelodeon Studios release and all. An extremely unique film that was the vision of Wolfgang Peterson, a director who has brought you more films than you might imagine: Air Force One, Troy, Outbreak, Enemy Mine, and The Neverending Story, for a few highlights. Rango is bizarre, but a super-duper awesome bizarre.

These two films are yet to receive a wide theatrical release, but when they do, run…don’t walk, to the nearest theater and see them.

Red State (5 of 5 Horns) – Kevin Smith delivers in this thriller that is wholly mislabeled as a horror film. Yes, some of the characters are horrific, but this satirical look at the cult of the Westboro Baptist Church is both entertaining and well made. John Goodman and Michael Parks embody the term, Tour de Force. Coming to a theater near you, October 2011.

Attack The Block (4.5 of 5 Horns) – Joe Wright has created a unique film that fits snugly in the canon of Edgar Wright-like flicks (Wright is a producer on this), while existing on its own merit with a cast that resembles a cadre of hard core British Goonies. This played as a /Filmcast sponsored preview in cities across the US, and it will hopefully get a Fall 2011 release.

Also, there have been a number of movies I haven’t seen this year, that would be good to take in for the widespread critical acclaim they have garnered: (1) Meek’s Cutoff and (2) Tree of Life.

That’s all for now, folks…till later, take care!

Reel Rhino


  1. My top picks thus far..

    1.) the conspirator
    2.) transformers- the special affects make this movie great
    3.) just go with it- comedy wise a very funny movie, so I thought so. Adam sandler and Jennifer aniston seemed to work well together. Brooklyn decker enough said.
    4.) 127 hours- this movie did not come to where i live until this year

    Not so top

    1.) sucker punch- this movie looked cool from the previews, but that was about as good as it going to get
    2.) the hangover2- wait two years for a sequel and it just did not make it
    3. ) Hanna- after seeing a different movie, a guy talking to friend outside of the theater said he was disappointed. Found to movie to be slow most of the way and really not worth the price. Previews showed most of the action. Expected an intense spy film with action and twist, but instead got prepped for a nap by the end.

    The complete waste of money....
    1.) your highness
    2.) take me home tonight
    3.) scream 4
    I wish I could get my money back for these

  2. Limitless
    Lincoln lawyer

  3. Well, to be honest, I don't think I have seen a movie in the theater this year! However, I will say that the movie I am most looking forward to seeing is Transformers. Can't wait to see that one!