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49- Restrepo [7.5]

A year with one platoon in the deadliest valley in Afghanistan.

Restrepo is an incredibly intimate portrayal of the Afghan war that, regardless of your thoughts on the subject, will likely move you in some fashion. Going into the film, I had no idea what I was in for. How all of this footage was shot is beyond me. In one scene, a soldier speaks of the psychological damage he and the members of his platoons have suffered, and how there aren’t sufficient studies done yet to help them. The looks on their faces are enough to fill you with dread.

48- The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie [7.0]

An upper-class sextet sits down to dinner but never eats, their attempts continually thwarted by a vaudevillian mixture of events both actual and imagined.

Do you know those dreams you have in which you attempt to speak but can’t get out a word? For the rich folks in Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, their re-occurring nightmare is having society’s lower classes and issues get in the way of their cherished dinner parties. No stone is left unturned in Bourgeoisie, as everything from Vietnam to an odd bishop gets touched on. Though Buñuel is doing biting, humorous satire here, I found the surreal film to be occasionally bleak, especially with the lack of score. The nightmare he portrays is that of a class which freely dabbles in hypocrisy while never learning anything of consequence, nor having to deal with any sort of consequences.

47- The Nines [2.0]

A troubled actor, a television show runner, and an acclaimed videogame designer find their lives intertwining in mysterious and unsettling ways.

Movies that are intended to be interpreted and deal with “big ideas” are quite tricky to discuss. While it’s certainly preferable to see someone with a vision create something original as oppose to a retread on any number of genres and films, at what expense does it come?

Inception divided people but was largely well received because, despite an overuse of exposition, there was an abundance of tangible information that was given to the audience to make sense of all the fantastical sequences. David Lynch has made a career out of puzzling viewers and has been successful and found a niche audience from it. On the other hand, take Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales, a hugely ambitious failure that has yet to attain the cult status it was predicted to gain.

The Nines did not work for me on virtually any level. I have no objection to admitting that I was l largely confused at times. Is there a larger meaning, some theme throughout that pulls everything together? Perhaps, but I didn’t find it. Even worse, I wasn’t entertained in the slightest. Intertwining stories can work (see Go), but often are lazy messes (see Crash–no, don’t actually see that film). The Nines also lacks a single sympathetic character, and that’s a problem for a movie like this. Of course, someone else may interpret that otherwise.

46- Ip Man [5.5]

A semi-biographical account of Yip Man, the first martial arts master to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun.

Featuring dazzling fight sequences, the semi-biographical Ip Man becomes a bit too over the top to be taken seriously. With shades of Seven Samurai, the high energy martial arts battles are much more interesting to watch than all of the conventional genre and well-worn territory scenes that pad out the film’s runtime. Donnie Yen performs well as the titular character, the very man who would go on to mentor Bruce Lee.

45- L’illusionniste [7.0]

The Illusionist is one of a dying breed of stage entertainers. He is forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theatres, at garden parties and in bars and cafés. Then, while performing in a village pub off the west coast of Scotland, he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl, who will change his life forever.

L’illusionniste is the type of silent film that requires you to pay close attention to the relationships and actions in order to make sense of it. Utilizing a controversial fifty-year-old screenplay by filmmaker Jacques Tati, L’illusionniste is another entertaining foray into hand-drawn animation by Sylvain Chomet. The director of The Triplets of Belleville adds his quirky vision to a story of an illusionist whose art form is on its last leg as rock’n’roll begins to grow in popularity with the masses.

44- Limitless [4.5]

An aspiring author Eddie Morra is suffering from chronic writer’s block, but his life changes instantly when an old friend introduces him to NZT, a revolutionary new pharmaceutical that allows him to tap his full potential. With every synapse crackling, Eddie can recall everything he has ever read, seen or heard, learn any language in a day, comprehend complex equations and beguile anyone he meets as long as he keeps taking the untested drug.

Narration is somewhat looked down upon in screenwriting. Like most forms of writing, the rule of “show, don’t tell” is fairly important in a screenplay. The narration in Limitless is one of the bigger abusers of the device I’ve seen, as no insight whatsoever is given from it. Furthermore, just because a film has a sci-fi bend doesn’t mean the audience needs their hand held throughout the runtime, especially when the material is as straightforward as it is here.

With the exception of one scene in which he elevates the material, Robert de Niro mostly sleepwalks through Limitless. Though the premise is intriguing, you’d likely have a longer discussion on Bradley Cooper’s wig from the first act than the content of the film.

43- Micmacs [8.0]

A man and his friends come up with an intricate and original plan to destroy two big weapons manufacturers.

There is no one with a visual style like Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The director of Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children, and Amélie makes films that are a treat for the eyes, and Micmacs is no exception. Couple that with an absurdly clever script, Micmacs is the kind of fantasy revenge story that will have you smiling throughout the movie. The cast of oddities with their own individual special talents are a delight to watch, and so long as you can tolerate a bit of silliness, you’ll find yourself having a great time with Micmacs.