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My Best of 2011: The Adjustment Bureau & True Romance

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

The Adjustment Bureau is number nine. Check out my original review here.

I think this is probably the first truly surprising choice of my own personal countdown. After all, the film debuted to generally positive reviews, but hardly the most exceptional critical feedback. It wasn’t loved and it wasn’t hated, but it was fairly quickly forgotten. I suspect that I will be one of very few people to include the title in my end-of-year best-of list. Still, I loved The Adjustment Bureau. And I think that’s strangely appropriate, because I’d argue that The Adjustment Bureau is perhaps the purest cinematic love story that we’ve seen in quite some time.

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Grand Larson-y: Nick Swardson and Being Critical of Comedies…

This type of thing happens every once in a while, to the point where it’s almost not really news at all. Kevin Smith took to twitter to lambast critics of his (admittedly) disappointing Cop Out, and studios have a habit of releasing potentially divisive films around critics (look at how they sold G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). Nick Swardson, who has only come to my attention of late with a solid supporting role in the perfectly adequate but unexceptional 30 Minutes or Less, has taken to lashing out at the critics who didn’t respond especially favourably to Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star. He suggests:

I knew the critics were going to bury us. It was a softball. They were waiting, waiting to hate that movie. It’s kind of funny that they get their rocks off on reviews like that. They review The King’s Speech, then they review Bucky Larson.


It’s a lot of work and a lot of reviewers aren’t going into that movie to like it. They don’t want to like it. None of those reviewers was psyched to see Bucky Larson and laugh. They go in with the mentality, fuck these guys for making another movie. They go in there to kind of headhunt. It makes me laugh because it’s just so embarrassing. It makes them look like such morons. You can’t review Avatar then review Bucky Larson. Comedy is so subjective, you know what I mean? To sit there and technically pick it apart is so stupid. We’ve never made movies for critics, so we could give a f***.

There’s obviously more than a hint of bitterness (the last line is very much “well, we don’t care what they think!”), but does Swardson have a point about the difficulty of reviewing comedies?

Bucky bites back...

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Red State Red Band Trailer

Kevin Smith’s latest film, Red State, seems like a break out of the director’s comfort zone. While the director has tackled the idea of organised religion before (in the superb Dogma), his latest effort seems like something decidedly more serious. Being entirely honest, I’m always eager to see an established director attempt something that we’d never expect from them, and Smith’s cast (John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Kevin Pollack) is populated with enough skilled (and underrated) performers that it looks to be well worth a chance. If nothing else, the exploration of extremist religious groups in the United States always makes for a juicy viewing experience, even if Smith might not be going for a lot nuance. It looks like a mish-mash of a whole host of subgenres – from the hints at awkward teen comedy at the start to a sinister horror thriller through to an all-out action adventure. It seems like a lot for the director to handle, but the cocktail is intriguing enough to grab my attention.

Non-Review Review: Fletch

Fletch has endured as something of a cult hit, offering Chevy Chase perhaps the defining role of his career and striking a chord with modern comedy talents like Bill Lawrence and Kevin Smith interested in bringing the character to modern audiences. I have to admit, after seeing the original film featuring Chevy Chase as the fast-witted quick-talking investigative journalist, that I can certainly see what the appeal of Irwin M. Fletcher.

He's got a nose for this sort of thing...

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Non-Review Review: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

Jay and Silent Bob is a movie that runs hot and cold from scene to scene. More a collection of random jokes set against an ever-shifting premise than a fleshed-out over-arching story, the film frequently fluctuates between brilliantly and subversively hilarious, and just a little bit awkward. While the randomness of Kevin Smith’s original Clerks was a large part of the appeal, the mish-mash approach doesn’t work so well this time around. Part of it is, perhaps, that this movie does clearly have a plot (a roadtrip to Hollywood), but I think it might also be a question of the characters involved.

While Jay and Silent Bob work well in supporting roles, it seems perhaps a bit much to ask them to carry their own movie. It’s a criticism Smith seems to accept, even including it in the movie itself. “Bluntman and Chronic and their stupid alter egos Jay and Silent Bob only work in small doses, if at all,” an anonymous on-line “militant movie buff” writes about a fictious movie to star characters modelled on the pair. “They don’t deserve their own movie.”

Well, at least he’s self-aware.

The latest in the Jay and Silent Bob cycle?

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Kevin Smith’s Superman Lives! Script

March is Superman month here at the m0vie blog, what with the release of the animated adaptation of Grant Morrison’s superb All-Star Superman. We’ll be reviewing a Superman-related book/story arc every Wednesday this month, so check on back – and we might have a surprise or two along the way. I figured that, today, I’d take a look at Superman-related movies.

But Superman was one that I was kind of intrigued by, because of my love for comic books and because I read the script they were working from at that time and hated it. Batman is about angst; Superman is about hope. That was the thing that bothered me about Greg Poirier’s draft: they were trying to give Superman angst. They had Clark Kent going to a psychiatrist at one point. Superman’s angst is not that he doesn’t want to be Superman. If he has any, it’s that he can’t do it all; he can’t do enough and save everyone. It’s not enough to make him want to quit being Superman; it’s enough to make the guy stay up at night so he’s out doing shit constantly.

– Kevin Smith on the script he was handed

I figured, with all this talk about Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot, I might as well take a look at some of the other productions that have brought the Man of Steel to the big screen in recent years. Superman never had quite the box office traction of Batman, and so never really went through that many big-screen iterations – while there’s a notable change in aesthetic between the Batman films of Burton, Schumacher and Nolan, Superman’s movies have been fairly consistent. I took a look at Superman Returns earlier today, but I thought I might take a look at Kevin Smith’s unproduced script for an earlier iteration of that particular film, Superman Lives!

Now, before you read my thoughts on the script, you should really watch the below clip, where Kevin Smith talks about writing Superman, and the various difficulties and demands that he faced.

Note: You can check out the script yourself, here.

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Non-Review Review: Preludio

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Preludio was an interesting second feature for Mexican director Eduardo Lucatero. After his debut with Corazón Marchito in 2007 – a relatively large-scale production for Mexican cinema – it seems strange for the director to move back to a film so minimalist. Preludio is a movie with one scene, two leads, five other actors (and not all of them are speaking roles), one set and one take. It sound like it has the making of an art house disaster, and yet the director manages to make it work.

Smoking buddies...

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