Despite my best efforts, I didn't quite manage to see all of the films released in 2008 that I wanted to before the beginning of 2009. As the year progresses, I'm making an effort from time to time to quickly note the titles I've been catching up with. Here's a list of What I've Been Watching lately.
Total number of movies released in 2008 that I have seen as of the writing of this post: 93
Body Of Lies
If you know me you'll be aware that I don't hold Ridley Scott on too high a pedestal. True, Alien is one of my favorite films, but aside from that and Black Hawk Down, I've found his catalog of films to be rather bland. The same goes for Body of Lies. I'm a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio and I enjoy Russell Crowe, but this film just kind of stagnated on the screen. It wasn't really boring or confusing, but it didn't leave any real impression on me. It was just middle of the road.
I had no idea what Seven Pounds was about when I sat down to watch it because the trailers were so ambiguous, which made it kind of exciting. Unfortunately, the twist (if you want to call it that) becomes apparent rather quickly. This didn't necessarily hurt the film, but it took the wind out of it's sails a bit. Will Smith and Rosario Dawson are both great and the direction is really good. This isn't a film that I'm dying to watch again right away, but it was certainly better than I expected it to be.
Sukiyaki Western Django
This movie is an interesting mix of American, Italian, and Asian cultures. It is a spaghetti western starring (nearly) all Asian actors who spend the entire film poorly speaking English. The mixture of modern and antiquated styles and sensibilities almost serves to make the film timeless. Seeing Quentin Tarantino ham it up as an egg-chomping gunfighter was kind of entertaining, and spotting all of the obvious nods to old Westerns (namely Django) was fun, but in the end I felt a bit disappointed. All in all, it made for an interesting experiment in the art of genre-bending, but while sometimes interesting, Sukiyaki Western Django was just too all over the place to be truly satisfying.
Now that I've seen this film, I no longer wonder how the Academy decided to give their Best Actor award to Sean Penn rather than Mickey Rourke last year. I haven't watched a whole lot of Gus Van Sant's movies, but this is by far the best example of his work that I've seen. Milk is just a damn fine film. It told an inspiring story and had no hang-ups in doing so. The inserted stock footage from the 70's fit into place perfectly, the music was solid, James Franco was great, as were Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, and everyone else...I can't think of anything bad to say about it. This movie really feels like an instant classic.
I had written this movie off as a second rate Superbad when in reality I ended up enjoying it just as much as said 2007 comedy. Rating movies can be really hard sometimes. In this same post I gave Milk a five star rating and now I appear to be giving Sex Drive the same distinction. All I can say is that I'm giving this film such a good score for the same reason that I'd give American Pie a perfect rating: they both make me laugh way more than most movies. Sex Drive is a teen sex romp road trip movie which may not seem all that special (and probably isn't), but I had a blast watching it. James Marsden was hilarious in this movie. I sincerely think it's the best performance I've seen from him. Josh Zuckerman and Clark Duke are both funny and likable and Amanda Crew is extremely cute. This is really going nowhere. No amount of explanation is probably going to justify why I liked this movie so much, but there you go. Oh yeah, and Seth Green was probably funnier in this movie than I've ever seen him before, too. Good stuff.
To read about the rest of the movies released in 2008 which I've seen, check out the following posts:
What I've Been Watching In 2008: A Year In Review(s)
Movies I Mised in 2008: Part 1