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Farewell Thee Well 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Aye, ’tis that time ‘o the year again for talking about everything we experienced throughout said year (although I don’t know if anyone else is planning on doing one of these posts or not).  Well, not everything I experienced; just what I remembered to put on my list of ‘stuff to talk about in the year-end post.’  Remember, this isn’t necessarily stuff that came out this year, just stuff I saw or read or listened to that I haven’t written about yet (although a lot of it is 2008-y).  It’s actually mostly movies.  So do you want to know what I thought about a bunch of movies?  Huh?  Do you?



Much better than I was expecting.  Maybe because it was directed by Doug Liman, who knows what he’s doing (although what’s up with this directing O.C. episodes?); maybe it’s because Hayden Christensen has finally done enough to make us forget about AOTC (I wouldn’t have thought it possible at one time, but . . .); or maybe it’s because of the English guy who reminds me of the Scottish guy from Wanted.  Oh, speaking of Wanted . . .



Could this have been any worse?  Yes, but not by much.  So utterly and ridiculously stupid.  Jesus.  I mean, movies like this are sometimes tolerable if they have good action sequences, but even the action sequences were incredibly silly and pretentious.  What the hell were Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman — Morgan Freeman! — doing in this movie?  Make it go away.  The above pic was about the only good part of the movie.  And it wasn’t even that good.  Oh well.

Charlie Wilson’s War


Fantastically written (you know I love Aaron Sorkin), but will forever be tainted by this.   Apparently they knew ahead of time but did it anyway.  Although now the blurb on this particular subject has been removed from the Wikipedia page.  So now who knows?

The Bourne Trilogy


Remember, it’s things that I saw this year, and this year is when I saw these three movies, all of them, for the first time.  See, I knew all along it would be a trilogy, so I decided not to see them in theatres, to keep them for a time when I would need them; a typhoon day this summer gave me the perfect opportunity to rent the three and spend six or whatever hours camped out in front of the TV.  They were all right, pretty much what I was expecting.  The second one was indeed the best, as everyone says.  I like how they tied the end of the second one in with the third one.  Joan Allen was pretty good.  Amnesia storylines are a little bit silly, but here it’s all right.   That’s all, really.

Fatal Move

The worst Hong Kong gangster/action movie I’ve ever seen, though admittedly I haven’t seen all that many.  I watched it with a group of ten or so people in HK, and after it was over there was a moment of collective silence before everyone, almost in unison, started pontificating on how awful it was.  Poor, overwrought acting; silly story; cheap special effects, etc.  See it only if you want to laugh and shake your head.

The Dark Knight


Well, not much more can be said about it, so I’ll say the only thing which may be different from what most people are saying: I don’t think it was better than Batman Begins.  I think they are on par with each other, mostly because I think Begins is underrated.  And yes, Ledger deserves the Oscar.



After the first five minutes I wanted to put my fist through the TV, grab Ellen Page’s scrawny little neck and throttle her to death; by the end of it that feeling had subsided, and I have to say that I liked it, but just barely.  Because it just tries waaaaaaaaaaaaay too hard.  Way, way, way too hard.  The character of Juno is written so consciously precocious that she becomes stupidly pretentious.  The only thing that saves it is the juxtaposition between Juno and the various adults in the film; they’re all types, but the actors are so good they’re able to make the characters feel somewhat real, and at least you have something to bounce Juno’s personality off of.  If everyone in the movie went on like she did I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish watching it.



This movie was recommended by both Beal and Tanya in this post, so I when I saw it at the video store I thought I’d give it a try.  And it’s only an ‘enh.’  Yes, I like the way it unfolded, in that immersional storytelling style, but my problem with it is, well, everything else.  I don’t normally care or pay attention to the budget of a film, but here it actually seems to have detrimentally affected the whole movie; either that or Mamet purposely made it look cheap for some reason, perhaps wanting to capture a sort of ‘stage-play’ look on film.  Whatever the reason, it doesn’t work; it looks so ‘staged’ that it was actually unbelievable.  I wasn’t able to ‘suspend my disbelief.’  The scenes in the shipping crate looked exactly like a cheap stage-set; and, I’m sorry, you can’t film something in suburban Los Angeles and pretend it’s Dubai.  Dubai, from my understanding, does not have narrow, cracked asphalt streets, brown, dead grass and wooden electrical poles.  Maybe you think that’s being picky but it just made me roll my eyes and again took me right out of the world of the film.  Also, Kristen’s Bell’s character was pretty stupid.

Oh — and the whole thing was just an obvious rip-off of the Season 4 ending of The West Wing.

Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder

Funny, but not as funny as I hoped it would be.  Jack Black’s character was one-track, unfunny, and basically pointless, and the scenes between Downey Jr. and Brandon Jackson were obvious and not all that interesting attempts at inter-ethnic humour.  Another enh.

Okay, enough with the movies.  Let’s get to music.  Only two albums I think worth mentioning here:

Portishead — 3

Machine Gun

When a great band releases a new album eleven years after their previous one, one is obviously excited about it, but, I had basically gotten sick of listening to Dummy and Portishead by this point (even though I still recognize their goodness), so I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the new one.  But it’s damn good, and it makes me happy because now I can listen to Portishead again without resorting to those first two albums.

I forget where I read it and I’m too lazy to try and find it again, but one of the band members said in an interview that they didn’t want to just fall back on what had worked in the past — that they forced themselves to use instruments and arrangements that they hadn’t used before.  This not only gives 3 a fresh sound, but takes them in a bit of a different direction, which was necessary as everyone’s kind of moved on from that mid-90’s ‘trip-hop’ sound anyway.  So thank you to Portishead for starting up again; now that you have, keep going.

M83 — Saturdays=Youth

So unabashedly sentimental you can’t help but love it, and carries on perfectly from what was begun in Before the Dawn Heals Us.  This is probably the best ’80s album not to come out in the ’80s.  He — Anthony Gonzalez — is pulling from many different influences here; stuff like Kate Bush, The Culture Club, New Order, and even cheesier stuff.  It’s a great hodge-podge of old and new sounds, and it’s pretty much the only thing I’ve been listening to for the last couple of weeks.  There are so many great songs I’m not even sure which one to post, so heck, why not a lot of them?

You, Appearing

Kim & Jesse (edited version)

We Own the Sky

Couleurs (my favourite — don’t mind the visual, just listen to the song)

The National


Yes, I’m including the CBC’s nightly newscast in here.  There’s both a live and archived stream of it every night on (well, late morning for me).  I watched it every day while the whole Parliamentary crisis thing was going on.  Is it geeky to say that I enjoy listening to Canadian political experts pontificate on questions being posed to them by Peter Mansbridge?  I don’t care.

That’s it.  Anything else of note got its own post.

So long, year.  You were neat.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, December 23, 2008 4:58 pm

    I’m glad you finally saw the Bourne movies. They are indeed fantastic. I hated Jumper (and it’s interesting to note that while Doug Liman started the Bourne franchise, and his first filim is solid, the second and third are much better with Paul Greengrass at the helm).

    I also liked Charlie Wilson’s War, although I was waiting for the irony to kick in, and it never really did.

  2. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, December 23, 2008 9:18 pm

    Which irony, specifically?

  3. Sunday, January 4, 2009 7:18 pm

    Step-by-step, where I so desire:

    Didn’t want to see Jumper, but it looks like I’m going to in the semi-near future, so I’ll report back then. But I’ll say that Doug Lyman isn’t a draw for me anymore — Swingers and Go were both solid, and the first Bourne was good (but to be one-upped by the sequel director? So much so that he’s the guy Damon insists be aboard if they make any more? Ouch), but Mr. & Mrs. Smith was bland enough to eliminate any interest I may have in him doing big-budget stuff.

    Wanted — Yeah, so stupid, but enjoyable enough. Its little moments of Fight Club-esque bile were nice, would’ve been nice to see them incorporated into the whole movie. Some fun to be had in the ridiculous excesses of the action scenes. But yeah, stupid. A psychic loom? Yeah? (Oh, and Morgan Freeman does whatever shit they’ll pay him for, so it’s not a surprise at all that he’d be in this. And Angelina Jolie doesn’t actually make good movies. “Acceptable” is her ceiling.)

    Charlie Wilson’s War was good. And much more like Rambo III than I had realized.

    I loved Juno because, while it does “try hard” (what an odd criticism — by contrast, Epic Movie is then good because it clearly was made with no effort whatsoever?), it does so consistently and cleverly and it compliments the feelings of the characters. And I think pretty much everyone in the movie did go on like she did, but none of them got as much screen time, so it’s not as noticeable.

    So, how does the real possibility of a fourth Bourne film rub you, then?

    The Robert Downey Jr. fake trailer at the beginning of Tropic Thunder was GOLD. The rest, a sort of mercury/nickel alloy.

    And finally, there are some kinds of Anime that I like. I suspect that whatever those two pictures came from ain’t one of those kinds.

  4. James17930 permalink
    Monday, January 5, 2009 12:33 pm

    Yeah, I don’t know what they’re from. I was just going for a theme.

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