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I Saw Some Stuff In 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Taking James’s cue, and because I haven’t had time to write anything for the Culturatti since the summer (!), I thought I’d offer up my own futile list of stuff what I liked in 2008.


Iron Man

Solid, fun entertainment. Not sure why it’s making so many Best Of… lists, but what do I know?

The Dark Knight

Michael Keaton is still my Bruce Wayne. Christian Bale is all grimacing and moody angst, but that being said, The Dark Knight is an exciting ride, and yeah, Heath Ledger interprets the Joker masterfully. My only beef with the movie is that it’s on the longish side, but I think a repeat viewing is certainly in order.

Baby's first escape from crazy plant creature

Parenting 101: Baby's first escape from crazy plant creature

Hellboy II

I was surprised by the first Hellboy (in that it was actually good), so I had fairly high expectations for the sequel, and I wasn’t disappointed. Del Toro, much like Christopher Nolan, or Jon Favreau, treats his subject matter with respect, and knows how to develop character and story.

No Country for Old Men/There Will Be Blood

Yeah, yeah, both of these are from last year, but I didn’t get around to seeing them until 2008. No Country is a classic Coen brothers outing, and I concur with the praise lavished upon it. There Will Be Blood, however, is a masterpiece. I’ve heard griping about Daniel Day Lewis’ performance being over the top and too ‘actorly’, but that’s a crap argument, and one borne out more of jealousy than anything else. He’s amazing to watch. Heck, the whole film is amazing to watch, so watch it already.

The Picture of the Recreation of the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Picture of the Recreation of the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Of all the films I saw from last year, this is by far my favourite. And from what I can gather, this one is very close to the actual history, and that’s very important to me as a movie-watcher, and history-reader. It’s a beautifully shot (by Roger Deakins, who also filmed No Country for Old Men), evocative vision of the ‘Wild West’. Brad Pitt is good, Casey Affleck is great, and the supporting players are all spot on. I’ve read many reviews that complain that it is too ‘talky’ or an exercise in style over substance. It is clearly a literary film, but that just makes it all the more satisfying from my point of view.

Miserable Disappointments: Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.


Just what is the Doctor/Donna

Just who is the Doctor/Donna?

Doctor Who Series 4

Another strong season from the folks who rescued Doctor Who. Although this season includes the worst episode of the revival, it also boasts some of the best, including Steven Moffat’s two-parter Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, and Russell T. Davies’ Midnight and Turn Left. Gareth Robert’s riff on Agatha Christie was also quite delightful (Harvey Walbanger!!??) Catherine Tate’s Donna has turned out to be a great companion, and Tennant’s performance as the Doctor continues to be a joy to behold. Too bad he’s leaving after four specials next year. BUT, Mr. Moffat will be taking over script-editing from Russell T., so I’m as excited as I could possibly be. Moffat apparently turned down writing a film script for Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg to take on the job of showrunner for Doctor Who. How totally awesome is that?

Heroes, Season 1

Not a bad little show. The first season peaked about three-quarters of the way through with a great flashback episode about Claire’s Dad and Christopher Eccleston being all Christopher Ecclestony. I’ve heard bad things about Season 2, but that 3 picks up a bit. We’ll see.

I hear they're going to name a city after you. No, not Adams, that tall fellow taking the oath of office.

I hear they're going to name a city after him. No, not Adams, that tall fellow taking the oath of office.

John Adams

I know this one has received accolades galore, so my own two cents won’t count for much of anything, but surely this is one of the finest American shows ever made. I’ve read the David McCullough biography of Adams that this is based on, and for the most part, John Adams is recreated with an incredible eye for historical accuracy – teeth and accents, warts and all. Paul Giamatti may be the finest American actor working today. Years from now when they play retrospectives on his life and work, they will say that John Adams was the role he was born to play. What I also like about this production is that it isn’t dripping with patriotism; Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, among others, are portrayed as they really were – not selfless heroes of the Revolution, but real people with good intentions, but with their fair share of flaws and prejudices.

Other Stuff


Ricky Gervais’s Blog

It seems everything this man touches is gold (okay, except Night at the Museum, but that was hardly his fault). His personal blog is full of fun stuff: pictures, occasional video clips, rants against tabloid reporters writing about what he ate a restaurant, and poking fun at his little bald-headed friend Karl.

What the hell kind of inter-species breeding is going on in that thar backyard

What the hell kind of inter-species breeding is going on in that thar backyard?


Most kid’s cartoons are crap, especially new ones. But this one ain’t bad. I’m not recommending it for adults, or even kids over the age of 5, but the little ones sure do like it, and the computer graphics are great compared to most. Music is catchy. Very, soul-destroyingly catchy. If you’re looking for another toddler adventure show, you should check out The Wonder Pets. A lovable hamster, duckling, and turtle save various animals from certain doom. Series highlights include: Save the Gorilla (the Wonder Pets travel to space in order to save a baby gorilla) or Save the Caterpillar (the Wonder Pets must convince an inch worm that the caterpillar isn’t sick, he’s just changing his shape. Although I must say, this one is pretty unrealistic, as no butterfly is gonna want to be friends with no inch worm, no-sir-ree)

CBC’s The Debaters

CBC is finally making good use of Canada’s comedian talent. One host and two comedians square off on issues ranging from country music to whether Santa represents a positive role-model for kids. The best part is most of it is improvised. At last, Canada has an equivalent to the BBC’s great radio show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

H.G. Wells

I decided to finally read some Wells. The results were generally positive. The Time Machine seems a bit quaint, but some interesting ideas. The Island of Dr. Moreau is actually a pretty silly story, and I don’t recommend it. The Invisible Man took me by surprise (…) and wasn’t what I was expecting at all, but was pretty neat. War of the Worlds is quite good – a story to which we, by whom I mean fans of sci-fi, owe an awful lot. In the recent Spielberg flick, I had always thought that the name bestowed on the alien crafts, the Tripods, was created for the film as a gimmicky joke, but the name actually comes from Wells’ original story.

Hmmm, what new sub-genre of science-fiction shall I create today??

Hmmm, what new sub-genre of science-fiction shall I create today??

That is all. Now back to renovating my house. I expect to be caught up on movies from 2006 half-way through next year.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, December 23, 2008 10:04 pm


    Dude, you’re killing me — killing me — with this pasting from Word. Plain text! Plain text!


    I couldn’t believe how good Hellboy 1 was as well, but I have to say I pretty much hated HB:II. It was just way too campy and stupid (that scene where him and the Fish-guy get drunk and start singing? Oh god).


    Would you believe that my local DVD shop has still to get No Country and Blood and Jesse James? Would you? Well, you’d better, ’cause it’s true. But then they somehow get The Ten. Which for some reason I saw, and wish I hadn’t.

  2. SarahP permalink
    Wednesday, December 24, 2008 1:21 pm

    Re: The Backyardigans

    Linny, the hampster, is NOT a hampster. Linny is a guinea pig. Don’t believe me? Look here…

  3. SarahP permalink
    Wednesday, December 24, 2008 1:22 pm

    Re: The Backyardigans = Re: The Wonder Pets

  4. James17930 permalink
    Friday, December 26, 2008 11:43 am

    I agree that Iron Man probably shouldn’t be on any 10 Best lists, though it was solid and enjoyable.

  5. Sunday, January 4, 2009 7:36 pm

    I was very let down by Hellboy 1, which I went into with serious expectation, so going into 2 with mere hope, I came out very pleased. Other than a few scenes (l’il Hellboy is fucking terrible), I found it to be very nice. Great imagination, and the Ron Perlman done did me right.

    Solid agreement on the trifecta of long acronyms (longcronyms) NCFOM, TWBB, TAOJJBTCRF, though I’d put NCFOM at the top, TAOJJBTCRF second, and then TWBB, FWIW.

    And how did Indy 4 go from this to a “miserable disappointment”? Were my arguments that persuasive?

  6. Sunday, January 11, 2009 11:35 pm

    Also: which Doctor Who episode is “the worst episode of the revival”? I’ve seen ’em all now, and I can’t recall any being so bad as to warrant singling out in such a manner.

  7. Monday, January 12, 2009 4:51 pm

    I don’t think my review is by any means glowing, in fact, I’d say it was mostly negative, so calling it a miserable disappointment isn’t too much of a stretch. And yeah, my opinion of it has probably even further dinished over the last 8 months.

    As for the Who. I thought The Doctor’s Daughter was pretty bad. It had some okay moments, but overall, it didn’t work. The pacing was off, and the conclusion of the plot tried to make up for a very disjointed story, but ended up not being very satisfying.

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