Tag Archives: Edgar Wright

Celluloid Zombie’s Ten Best Movies of 2010

I’m making a list and checking it twice. Yep, it’s that time again, when you can look back on another year of celluloid output and try and decide which movies were your favourites. Pointless, perhaps, because to truly compile an accurate Top Ten you’d have to have seen every movie made this year. Which I obviously didn’t. I need to sleep and leave the flat from time to time, after all.

So, to give this post an accurate title, here are my Top Ten Movies of 2010 that I’ve Actually Seen. All films are considered according to UK release dates. Enjoy!

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10. The Town

Ben Affleck continues to impress from behind the camera with this, his second movie. A tale of a group of bank robbers in Boston’s Charlestown, The Town is grounded with great performances, particularly from Jeremy Renner. And while it lacks the emotional punch of Affleck’s debut, Gone Baby Gone, he still produces a gripping tale of friendship, betrayal and the desire to leave it all behind.

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9. The Last Exorcism

Slated by many on release, The Last Exorcism proved to be one of the year’s most divisive movies. Those expecting a hand-held, mockumentary version of The Exorcist were disappointed when it turned out to be something a little more complex. What really makes the movie stand out, however, are the two exceptional central performances from relative unknowns Patrick Fabian and Ashley Bell.

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8. Winter’s Bone

Hardly the most cheerful viewing, but Debra Granik’s second movie has a warm heart at the core of its bleak atmosphere. Jennifer Lawrence, onscreen for every minute of the movie, is remarkable as the 17-year-old Ree, holding her family together while searching for her drug-dealing father amid the broken lives of a small community in the Ozarks, Missouri.

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7. Four Lions

Television satirist Chris Morris turns to the big screen for his tale of a group of incredibly inept British Jihadists, planning a suicide attack on the London Marathon and bickering incessantly amongst themselves. Morris spent three years researching the project and produces a funny and cutting comedy which proves that sometimes mockery is the best response.

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6. Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright took on his first Hollywood gig with this adaptation of the comic books. Michael Cera is the titular ‘hero’, battling the seven Evil Exes of his new girlfriend. Wright injects the movie with the same hip energy he brought to TV show Spaced. Decide for yourself how much of the action takes place in reality or just in the fevered imagination of Pilgrim.

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5. Toy Story 3

Pixar does it again, rounding off their Toy Story saga after 15 years with this funny, bittersweet third instalment. Choosing the perfect story to end on, we see what happens to toys when their owners grow up and they are forced to retire. Features one of the year’s best villains in Lotso Huggin’ Bear and a great turn from Timothy Dalton as Mr Pricklepants. Inspired, whether you saw it in 3D or not.

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4. The Social Network

Who would have thought that a movie about the creation of Facebook could be so entertaining? I’ll never doubt David Fincher’s choices again. The director paces the story expertly, cutting between the origins of the site and the resulting legal challenges for credit, and the young cast are superb. You may want to give Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker a slap after seeing this.

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3. Kick-Ass

Another comic book adaptation from another British director. Matthew Vaughn brings an anarchic energy to the story of naive teenager Dave Lizewski’s adventures as a costumed vigilante. Aaron Johnson is engaging as Lizewski/Kick-Ass, but it is the father and daughter combo of Nicholas Cage’s Big Daddy and Chloë Moretz’s Hit Girl that really make this memorable. Pure genius.

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2. Inception

The Dark Knight was always going to be a tough act to follow, but Christopher Nolan couldn’t have done a better job than this imaginative, layered and visually stunning piece of cinema. Dreams within dreams, folding environments, trains rushing down main streets and another impressive performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. So, was he dreaming at the end or not?

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1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Niels Arden Oplev’s adaptation of the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy is quite simply one of the best thrillers to have come along in years. Made in Sweden under the title of the book, Men Who Hate Women, the movie was renamed for international release. Noomi Rapace gives the performance of the year as the haunted, complex anti-heroine Lisbeth Salander.

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And the worst…

The Expendables

Promised much but delivered nothing. The Expendables brought together all the big names of action movies from the last 30 years and embarrassed them. And us. Two hours spent watching them play bingo in a retirement home would have been more entertaining. One of the worst screenplays in living memory, with awful dialogue, crappy action scenes and Jason bloody Statham. Unbelievably shite.

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Top Ten: Movie Title Sequences

Sometimes they are mini-movies in themselves, sometimes they are scene-setting primers for what is to come, and sometimes they are actually the best thing about the movie. Either way, the title sequence is an overlooked art form. Hitchcock would often bring in established artists, like Saul Bass, to create his titles, such importance he placed on them. They are the doorway into the movie, a taste of what is to come. They run, tragically ignored while the audience settles down, stops rustling the damn tubs of popcorn and chatting and generally getting up my nose…

Sorry, wrong blog.

Anyway, for your consideration, my top ten title sequences. Enjoy.

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10. Shaun of the Dead

A short one, this, but the opener for Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead is a little work of genius. It gives us an amusing perspective of everyday life in Britain, before most of the population are transformed into shambling zombies. The question it postulates is very simple; what’s the difference? The fact that Simon Pegg’s Shaun later nips to the Newsagent without noticing the walking dead around him, and you totally believe it, just reinforces the gag.


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9. Vertigo

Most people choose North by Northwest as their favourite Hitchcock title sequence, and while that one is certainly highly influential (see David Fincher’s Panic Room opener) I’ve always preferred Vertigo. Saul Bass created what could be the signature title sequence for all Hitchcock’s movies. The fixation on a woman’s frightened features, turning blood red as the title appears, mixed with Bernard Herrmann’s spooky score, tell you all you need to know about the big man’s favourite pastime; basically, torturing beautiful blondes. Naughty Alfred. The spirals signify James Stewart’s fear of heights, his uncontrollable compulsions, and are also reflected in the hair of Kim Novak.

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8. Contact

Not, strictly speaking, a title sequence at all, but still one of the most effective openers to a movie. Robert Zemeckis’ underrated adaptation of the novel by Carl Sagan immediately shares with us Ellie Arroway’s (Jodie Foster) awe at the expanse of the universe, and the unimaginable possibilities of what may exist out there. For me at least, the sequence truly inspires a sense of wonder, but also a feeling of the crushing loneliness and isolation of our tiny little planet. Is anyone out there listening? Brilliant.


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7. Alien

Ridley Scott ditches Jerry Goldsmith’s original score, keeps it simple, and it works a charm. This is the dark side of Contact’s sequence, in that it perfectly encapsulates the despair, foreboding and the unknown dangers of deep space. The skeletal score, nothing more than a series of strange noises and a random tune, does indeed seem alien. This is a frightening place, very far from home and you feel it. Rarely has a title sequence so perfectly suited its title.

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6. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Steven Spielberg had long wanted to shoot a Busby Berkely style showstopper, and with his second Indiana Jones movie he got the chance. Set on the stage of Club Obi-Wan (one of the series’ many in-jokes), Kate Capshaw’s small scale rendition of Anything Goes, in Cantonese, soon escalates into a massive, glittering dance routine. Yes, it’s a little ridiculous that the tiny stage can suddenly accommodate this huge production, but this is a director indulging himself a little. If Spielberg (all praise his name) wants to give his future wife a huge entrance (snigger), who are we to deny him?

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5. Zombieland

Zombies again, this time from the other side of the pond. It’s ridiculous, it’s gruesome, it’s fun! Yay! Ruben Fleischer’s Metallica backed title sequence couldn’t set you up better for the insanity to follow. The madness of zombie attacks, in ultra slow-motion, is somehow inherently funny and Fleischer milks it for all it’s worth. Add to this the movie’s continuing interaction between the real world and the words onscreen, and you have a good old, undead chuckle fest.

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4. Ed Wood

Tim Burton’s celebration of Hollywood’s worst ever director, Edward D. Wood Jr., had the perfect opening sequence. This is such an affectionate homage to the tacky, B-movie ethics of its subject, that there’s no doubt the man himself would have adored it. Howard Shore’s Theremin laced score is absolutely spot on, and the construction of a miniature Hollywood for the final tracking shot is breathtaking. Burton at his best.


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3. Watchmen

Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the graphic novel opens with this master class in condensing an entire back-story into a short sequence. Giving us the story of this alternative universe’s superheroes, right up until the main movie’s 1980′s setting, we see a history of the 20th century as it may have been with the addition of masked vigilantes and a superhuman. Bob Dylan’s classic folk song makes the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful, slow-motion scene-setting, and every frame looks like it was ripped straight from the pages of a comic book.

Note: Finding an online version of this credit sequence is like finding the Lost Ark of the Covenant. I did have one but it was removed. Seek it out!
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2. Lord of War

Andrew Niccol’s study of a morally conflicted arms dealer (Nicholas Cage) was a fairly average movie, but what it did boast was this outstanding title sequence. Almost a mini-movie in itself, the POV journey of a single bullet from production to ultimate use is original, telling and ends with a depressing suddenness. The CGI already looks a little dated now, but that in no way detracts from the scene’s effectiveness. Very clever opening sequence.


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1. Seven

So many subsequent thrillers have imitated Seven’s dark, twisted title sequence that the power it held at the time may seem somewhat diminished. However, David Fincher’s opener to his second movie is still the Daddy of all title sequences. Unnerving, sinister and bleak, this left you in no doubt as to what you had in store. Part of its genius is that many aspects of what you are seeing are not revealed in their meaning until the second viewing, when you realise who it is you are watching. Coupled with a totally stripped down version of Nine Inch Nails’ Closer, this is the mind of a lunatic at work and play. Chilling.


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