Ok then, here we are with another batch of movies to look at. I wonder what 2004 will serve us up…..hmmmm let’s see shall we?.
The film is not without it’s issues and it never really fulfills it’s promise as an excellent twilight zone style concept but there’s still a lot to like from this Tsurata Norio horror. Main star Hiroshi Mikami overacts his way through it with some hilarious facial expressions but the story, particularly the first half is such a great premise with a man reading newspaper articles from the future that come true shortly after. He reads of his daughter’s death just before she is hit by a car. It’s interesting stuff
Takashi Miike’s take on the real life Edo period samurai Izo Okada is nuts and places him in different time periods but may actually be his spirit and…..to be honest a lot of nonsense goes on in this movie but boy is it fun to watch. Beat Takeshi turns up at one point and Bob Sapp is in it for a bit…..man this movie is insane.
33. Some Kind Of Monster
Me and my pal have so many personal jokes about this movie. It’s so goofy but utterly compelling at the same time. I have an odd relationship with Metallica in the sense that they have some great music (a whole load of duds too) but the characters in the band are often so ridiculous and idiotic at times that I can’t stop watching. The documentary comes at a pivotal time in their history with long term bassist Jason Newstead leaving the band and the other members questioning their direction. Former Suicidal Tendencies bassist Robert Trujillo comes in an injects a youthful energy to the band that springboards them back into a functioning and massively popular band again. Outside of that main narrative we have a hack Hollywood shrink making the viewer cringe and a genuinely interesting meeting between Lars Ulrich and ex member Dave Mustaine about their long term rivalry.
Best Bit- Dave and Lars
32. The Eye 2
The sequel to the Pang brothers brilliant and breathtaking sleeper hit The Eye doesn’t come close to the quality but it’s a nerve shredding horror in it’s own right. It’s a creepy tale about the effects of a failed suicide when pregnant and the spirit world trying to possess babies as they are born. It’s heavy stuff with some haunting imagery.
Best Bit- Ultrasound
A Japanese horror movie in which a run down hospital where an understaffed night shift administer the wrong drug to a patient who dies. This sets off a series of catastrophic events within the hospital that ends with a bunch of deaths and bizarre goings on. Masayuki Ochiai creates an unsettling atmosphere and some disturbing visuals.
30. Fahrenheit 9/11
Michael Moore’s follow up to Bowling For Columbine is a scathing attack on George W. Bush’s first term as president of America. At times funny, other times shocking, damning, revealing and always entertaining it will no doubt raise your temperature thinking of the things the world’s leaders get up to and get away with.
29.Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
The third Harry Potter movie is when the balance between the darker sides of the fantasy story and the whimsical nature of the first two movies met in a satisfactory way. Very entertaining and thrilling at times with well fleshed out characters, great set designs and an over all eye popping style that drags you into the world. I’m by absolutely no means a hardcore fan of the franchise but having seen all of them at me ex’s request I found this one to be a very well made movie.
Best Bit-Dementor attack
28. Man On Fire
A crime thriller revenge story directed by the late Tony Scott and starring Denzel Washington as an ex CIA agent turned bodyguard employed to look after the young daughter of a wealthy businessman. When she is kidnapped he goes on a rampage to track her down and wipe out anyone in his way. It’s thrilling stuff and surprisingly emotional for an action flick.
Best Bit-Arse bomb
27. One Missed Call
Takashi Miike moved into full on J-Horror territory with this strangely formulaic (for him) about people receiving strange phonecalls from themselves as they die in the future. It stars ……swoon…..Ko Shibasaki in the main role and although it’s considered a classic in the genre and it is a great concept I did expect more when I first watched it back in the day but it’s still a great watch.
Best Bit- Exorcism
26. Godzilla: Final Wars
It’s always interesting when a director who is established in different genre takes on Godzilla and the kaiju movies like here where Ruyhei Kitamura of Versus and The Midnight Meat Train fame takes the helm. He brings his unique style to The King Of Monsters and as it’s the 50th anniversary film it has loads of series cameos and Easter eggs for fans to salivate over. The English dubbing is absolutely hilarious though, so ridiculous. It would be the last Godzilla movie before the 2014 Hollywood reboot.
Best Bit-Rodan attacks New York
25. The Grudge
In a refreshingly unique turn for Hollywood when remaking Asian movies for a western audience who doesn’t like to read subtitles the original director Takashi Shimizu was brought on board to helm it. What we get is a decidedly less creepy and more flashy version of the classic original from a couple of years previous that manages to be one of the Asian horror remakes of the time that wasn’t a complete disaster. Some cool set pieces and the likeable Sarah Michelle Gellar in the lead role.
Best Bit-Staircase haunting
This little underrated gem is a South Korean horror movie directed by Kong Su-Chang and sees a Korean troop during the Vietnam war discover that their numbers don’t add up and there is a member of their squad that shouldn’t exist. It shows some of the teething problems of a burgeoning force in the movie world and I’m convinced they weren’t sure how to end it but I really recommend this one for fans of horror. There are some excellent scenes and the overall premise is fantastic.
Best Bit-One extra man
Jamie Foxx received rave reviews for his portrayal of the blind musician Ray Charles and rightfully so Performance aside the script suffers from a lot of dull scenes and pacing problems but it’s carried by the performance. Charles was an interesting and inspiring man and his story plays out like many talented artists with substance abuse, trappings of fame and fluxuating popularity which the film captures.
Best Bit-Drugs taking their toll
22. Three… Extremes
The lost art of the horror anthology, such a brilliant way to expose people to artists and storytellers in a genre that generally supports each other. Mick Garris brought the Masters Of Horror and Fear Itself back in the mid 00s and is trying again this year which is great. Anyway this movie took three Asian directors and each of them made a short horror movie. We have the juggernaut Takashi Miike from Japan, Fruit Chan from Hong Kong and the South Korean megastar Park Chan-Wook in this all star horror extravaganza.
21. The Punisher
This, the second Punisher movie took a bit of a pasting when it came but over the last few years it’s started to get more of a fair shake and it’s developed more of a following. Mainly based on the Garth Ennis storyline “Welcome Back Frank” it’s tone is a little confused with some of the violence being played for laughs and other times going for dark broody intensity but it has heart.
Best Bit- The Russian
20. Kill Bill: Volume 2
The Kill Bill films are best viewed together as was intended originally by Quentin Tarantino. Everything I said about the Kill Bill 1 applies here but the first one is a little more interesting and visually impressive. That’s not to say this one isn’t fun because it sure as hell is and has some excellent action scenes.
Best Bit-Pai Mai’s lesson
19. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
It took me a long time and several friends urging me to give this film a fair shake. Maybe it was a young me being a contrarian but the hype around it and the pretentious name at a time where I’d watched several pretentious as f##k movies made me shy away from it. It was silly of me as it’s a really beautiful flick and Michael Gondry brings Charlie Kaufman’s script to life in a tragic and emotional way. Carrey and Winslet are excellent in their roles
Best Bit- Ending
18. Dead Man’s Shoes
A grotty British psychological thriller from Shane Meadows that stars Paddy ConsIdine as a soldier who comes home to exact revenge on the bullies who tormented his mentally challenged little brother years before. Brutally bleak and nihilistic and with a cracking performance from Considine as we follow him on his disturbing revenge adventure….reventure?.
Best Bit- The reveal
A star studded drama that won all kinds of awards for it’s portrayal of every day racism, most notably the three Academy awards it received. There’s been a real backlash against it over the years as many feel it didn’t deserve all the props it got. I thought that at the time to be honest but then again I’ve never really cared what wins Oscars and all that. It’s a powerful movie with some great performances including on out of type powerhouse turn from Sandra Bullock but yea….it’s just a good movie, not earth shattering.
Best Bit-Invisible cloak
16. Shrek 2
More wacky fairy tale adventures from the loveable ogre and his pals. Genuine laughs, plenty of emotional moments and loads of memorable characters and lines. Used to love watching the Shrek movies with my nephew.This one introduces Antonio Banderas as the adorable Puss in Boots.
Best Bit-Meeting Puss
15. Million Dollar Baby
More award fodder from everyone’s favourite chair debater Clint Eastwood. Hilary Swank is great as boxer who works under the tutelage of a troubled and underrated boxing coach who tries to get her into the professional ranks. It’s an epic sports drama and one that works well as Swank is very easy to like and cheers for. All sorts of melodrama ensues too….you’ll probably cry.
Best Bit-Final fight
14. Mean Girls
I’m so glad we got this out of Lohan before she went so far off the rails she couldn’t even see the rails anymore. The great Tina Fey wrote this hilarious high school comedy with Mark Waters directing. It has a cast of beautiful young Hollywood all being bitchy to each other and learning things along the way…..always the case but it’s so funny it parodies the cliches and you’re too busy laughing to care about the plot’s familiarity. Endlessly quotable and deserves repeated viewing.
Best Bit-4 Way phone call
13. House Of Flying Daggers
Hong Kong cinema became obsessed with these epic martial arts romance movies for a few years. In the same style as the likes of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon this movie sees the stunning Zhang Ziyi and Andy Lau (also a handsome man) in some of the most lush and beautiful scenes ever commuted to film with utterly gorgeous scenery and sweeping shots. It’s more focused on the romance aspect than other movies in the genre (known as wuxia) and the martial arts are used as an accompaniment.
Best Bit- Bamboo field
12 (Tied). Steamboy
Katsuhiro Otomo made his name on the back of a cyberpunk masterpiece in Akira and this time he turns his attention to another sci fi sub genre in steampunk and creates another all time classic. At the time of release it was the most expensive Japanese movie ever made which never really translates to the screen despite the beauty and inventiveness on show. It’s a charming alternate 19th century sci fi adventure.
Best Bit-Steam castle
12 (Tied). Brotherhood
I remember when I was living with my dad I was trying to get him into Asian cinema, usually with ….meh….results but he loves war movies so I gave this a go with him. He absolutely loved it and we talked about it for days afterwards so it has a special place in my heart. During the Korean civil war, two brothers are forcefully signed up to fight for the south. After one of them believes the other was killed by his own men he ends up defecting to the north. It turns out they are still both alive and end up face to face on the battle field against each other. It’s an incredibly emotional story with some excellent battle scenes.
Best Bit- Face to face
11. Kung Fu Hustle
Another insane madcap martial arts movie from Stephen Chow in which he beats the ever loving shit out of about a million gangsters in increasingly hilarious and outlandish ways. Chow brought in a lot of his childhood cinema heroes into the movie much like Tarantino does, I love that kind of thing. It’s like Jackie Chan’s martial arts comedy but turned up waaaaay goofier in a deliberate attempt to take away any realism. Like a live action Saturday morning cartoon.
Best Bit-Out of the crowd
10. Team America: World Police
Trey Parker and Matt Stone chronicled the painstaking process that this feature length puppetry movie was and how they went to work every day regretting the fact they started it. Their relief must have been rewarding as it became popular and was a success. It’s uproariously funny with lines that are still quoted today and it’s a vicious attack on famous rich celebrities telling Joe public how to live their lives as well as more obviously an attack on America’s foreign policy.
Best Bit-Hans Blix
Yes yo can poke more holes than Swiss cheese in the plot nowadays but when Saw first came out it was a cultural phenomenon and this little indie flick from two Australian writers went on to span a huge franchise. The movie really kicked horror back into the mainstream with a bunch of torture porn clones getting big budgets to pump out the same old thing over and over. Director James Wan would go on to become a master of mainstream horror and still holds a high position in the business today. This really gave horror a shot in the arm…..or a needle to the eye….or something equally gross.
Best Bit- Reveal
8.Dawn Of The Dead
See I don’t hate Zack Snyder!. I put this on my lis of top zombie movies because it’s a movie that plays into Snyder’s strong points. George A. Romero’s dead trilogy was brilliant but hardly plot heavy so it gave Snyder a chance to update it with stylized violence and well shot set pieces, he’s a master of that. Fun, bloody gore filled zombie japes.
7. Hotel Rwanda
When you base your movie on a real life genocide then you’re not trying to give the viewers a good time and boy……this is not a good time. It does what it sets out to do though as it’s shocking, brutal, emotionally draining and leaves you with a nihilistic feeling of utter hopelessness. Don Cheadle brilliantly plays a man desperate to save as many lives as possible up against extraordinary odds. Brutal stuff.
6. Anchorman:The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
Bang in the middle of Ferrell mania came one of his most revered movies. Everything just seemed to click for this one. The cast were all great (David Koechner aside) and all bring something fun to the table. The dialogue and delivery is so utterly charmingly goofy and you can tell the cast are having a blast which really translates to the viewer. Another movie that’s endlessly quotable and watchable.
Best Bit-News fight
5. Howl’s Moving Castle
It’s Studio Ghibli time again and this one is loosely based on a novel by British author Diana Wynne Jones and directed by the man himself Hayao Miyazaki. It’s a beautiful fantasy movie about magic and curses and sees a young woman turned into ….an old woman by a witch. She meets Howl and gets mixed up in his adventures. Miyazaki has said the film’s strong anti war themes are a direct relation to Iraq war with a strong focus on feminism as well like a lot of Ghibli’s movies. Joe Hisaishi composes the music….so it’s gold.
Best Bit-Meeting Howl
Now this is how you do a Gothic comic book movie filled with a tonne of heart. Ron Pearlman is perfect as Hellboy, the Dark Horse comics poster boy with a wonderful blend of badarse monster fighting with pathos driven character development. Guillermo Del Toro wrote and directed the movie and he’s a huge fan of the character….it shows as the love and respect he shows the source material shines through. Woefully under appreciated when discussing great comic book movies. The emotional heart of the movie and the protagonist’s relationships are a real highlight.
Best Bit-Lamenting his looks
3. Shaun Of The Dead
Another one that placed on my top zombie movies list. This British romzomcom from the team that brought you the brilliant tv series Spaced. Filled with great character chemistry, laugh out loud moments and genuinely good homages to the zombie movie genre it’s an all time classic that will be discussed in the annuls of zombie fandom for many years to come.
Best Bit-Back garden
2. The Incredibles
Pixar’s ode to the superhero actually ends up being one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. Heavily leaning on the Fantastic 4 family dynamic which is where most of the laughs come from with everyday relatable relationships mixed in with superpowers. It’s hilarious which is obviously great but the real charm comes from the love the family shows each and how beautiful written the characters are. It was written and directed by the absolutely brilliant Brad Bird of Simpsons, Iron Giant, King Of The Hill (and much more)fame.
Best Bit-Dinner table
1. Spider-Man 2
Until last year’s “Homecoming” this was by far my favourite Spider-Man movie ever, now I’m more conflicted. Sam Raimi’s second film in his Spidey trilogy is a warm and emotional superhero movie that, like the first one, draws heavily from the 60s/70s era of the comics. There are so many awesome scenes in this one from the heart racing action scenes to the emotional moments with Aunt May and the tragic villain Dr Octopus. Raimi created a family hero movie that bucked the trend of being dark for the sake of it which is great because Spidey is a character that shines.
Best Bit-Train scene
We’re about half way there so come back next time for 2005. What are your thughts on this list? I’m sure you’ll disagree with some and agree with others so let me know @swing_kinker cheers x