The Notebook (2004)

I hate the goddamn Photoshopped version where Gosling's beard is removed.

I hate the goddamn Photoshopped version where Gosling’s beard is removed.

Directed by: Nick Cassavettes (I’d have to say his best movie is either this one or She’s So Lovely, but I haven’t seen the latter film in over a decade so that would require a re-watch)

Written by: Jeremy Leven and Jan Sardi adapted Nicholas Sparks’ novel to the screen

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Joan Allen, Sam Shepard, Kevin Connolly, David Thornton and James Marsden

What it’s about: a man reads from a book to attempt to revive a woman’s memory

What I liked: First of all, the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams is off-the-charts explosive.  I mean, explosive in a good way.  You truly get the sense that these characters loved each other passionately.  The story is fairly by-the-numbers, and without Gosling and McAdams starring, it would probably have been a forgettable film, no matter what director Nick Cassavettes did.  The movie looks gorgeous, and the acting throughout is decent.  The characters feel real, in particular the poor James Marsden character, who reacts in a fairly realistic manner to life-changing news.  Plus, he’s charming!

What I disliked: Well, with any romantic drama (romama? dramantic?) there is an inherent quantity of cheesiness, and that is not absent throughout the entire movie.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Certainly.  No, wait.  Some people will think it is just a “chick flick” (a designation I detest), and they will be pre-disposed to hate it, no matter how good it is.  I’d recommend it to people that like good movies.

Rating: 4 / 5

As soon as I saw this scene, I knew that someone would have made a gif out of it.

As soon as I saw this scene, I knew that someone would have made a gif out of it.

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

I’ve spent the last two days trying to write up a review for this movie, when all I can think about to say is that it is a slightly better movie than the one that came before it, The Bourne Identity.  It was directed by Paul Greengrass, a man who loves handheld camerawork, and that gives it just a bit more immediacy than the previous one.  The car chase scene in Supremacy is a bit better than the one in Bourne Identity, almost to a Ronin level.  The supporting cast is a bit better this time, or are at least used in a better fashion than they were in the first Bourne movie.  I don’t have much else to say about it, because all the old feelings I had about the Bourne movies I addressed in my Bourne Identity review yesterday.

4 / 5

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

I wrote up a review for this movie, way back in 2005, but the only thing worth salvaging from it is that I coined the term “zomedy” to explain exactly what genre Shaun of the Dead belongs to.  A romantic comedy featuring zombies is a zomedy.  Back in 2004 when Shaun first came out, it was relatively unexplored territory in film.  Sure, there were dozens of zombie movies, but they were all pretty much interchangeable, maybe?  I don’t know, it wasn’t a genre I tended to explore, and to this day, I still don’t really get involved with it.  Sure, I love “The Walking Dead”, the 28 Days movies (minus the Sandra Bullock one), and other assorted post-apocalyptic survival movies, but I never really felt like much was to be gained by exploring that particular genre.

However, if you didn’t already know by now, Shaun of the Dead is not entirely of that genre.  There is so much more to the film than it just being a zombie movie, but without it being a zombie movie well that wouldn’t make any sense at all, would it?  What would the of the Dead part refer to?  That title kinda pigeonholed director and co-writer Edgar Wright and co-writer and star Simon Pegg into the zombie movie genre.  Didn’t really think that through, did you mates?  Okay, look, clearly I’m just making things up right now.  I’ve mentioned before how difficult it is sometimes to write a review about a movie that you love, because all you want to do is type “AWESOME!!! RAD U GUISE SOOO GOOD!” and by now, Shaun is eight years old so if you didn’t know that already you’re either 1) not my audience 2) just came out of a coma or 3) somehow didn’t listen to anyone telling you how great of a movie it was for EIGHT YEARS.

What Wright accomplishes with Shaun is nothing short of extraordinary.  There’s no way that a zombie movie should be so balls-out funny and real as this movie is.  And Feelings, there are so many Feelings throughout the film, genuine real human emotions that people like you and maybe me feel.  The gore is plentiful and appropriate and jaw-dropping, the acting is far better than you should expect out of a zombie movie, and I will put it kilometres ahead of what some people call “real movies” on the enjoyability scale.  LOOK AT ME, JUST MAKING WORDS UP.

Anyways, watch this movie if you haven’t seen it before.  If you have, you know it’s a 5.

5 / 5

The Polar Express (2004)

Okay, hopefully this is the last Robert Zemeckis directed horrifying motion capture picture film that I have to ever watch in my entire life.  Unless of course, he adapts it to making ACTUAL horror movies which would be of a long ago lost brilliance that Zemeckis used to have.  I mean, if you want people to be scared or creeped out anyways, using motion capture would easily push it in that direction right off the bat.  I AM A GODDAMN GENIUS.

Anyways, this movie is based off of the children’s book of the same title, which I somehow never came into contact with in my entire life.  It centres around the unnamed Hero Boy (voiced by Daryl Sabara) and his disbelief of Santa Claus.  Shocking, I know, how could someone dare question the belief in something that they have no physical proof exists.  I’ll try to keep my anti-religious agenda out of the rest of this review.  Anyways, HB gets on The Polar Express which just magically stops outside his house on Christmas Eve.  Then a freakish Tom Hanks motion capture animated conductor hops out and invites HB to get on the train.  TERRIFYING.

A bunch of Christmas things happen, and I assure you, I’m not dead inside, but the motion capture animation was at the best of times mildly unsettling, and at the worst stomach churningly awful, so therefore I cannot recommend this as a worthwhile Christmas or any kind of movie.  Watch The Ref or Bad Santa or Die Hard or Lethal Weapon or Gremlins instead.  Hell, watch Elf.

1.5 / 5

Surviving Christmas (2004)

Back in 2004, Ben Affleck’s star was starting to wane, and movies like Surviving Christmas are one of the most glaring reasons why.  It might have the world record for shortest time between theatrical release and home release, were it not for Steven Soderbergh’s weird experiments.  Released in theatres October 2004, it came out on DVD two months later after failing horribly at the box office.  It was directed by Shrek 4‘s Mike Mitchell (and looking at his filmography, it’s almost uniformly terrible except for a bunch of “Greg the Bunny” episodes, but I may be biased), and “written” by four people.  Written is in quotation marks because apparently, there was never a finalized script and most of the shit that’s onscreen is improvised.

Improvising with BFleck, James Gandolfini and Christina Applegate is a lot different than when Catherine O’Hara improvises with the Christopher Guest troop though.  Actually, Applegate is one of the more decent performers in the movie, apparently one of the only sane characters in the whole story.  Basically, the story goes like this: Drew Latham (BFleck) is a rich asshole who doesn’t enjoy spending time with his family or something, so on the advice of his ex-girlfriend’s (Jennifer Morrison) – who isn’t really his ex – therapist (Stephen Root), he goes back to his childhood home to burn a list of grievances he has with his family.  Then he pays the family that currently lives there (O’Hara, Gandolfini, Josh Zuckerman) to pretend to be his family to make him feel better for the holidays.  It’s pretty much insane, and not in an entertaining way.

Then other things happen!  I have no idea who would find this movie funny, unless you’re approaching it from a car crash perspective, then it’s probably hilarious.  I might enjoy watching it whilst getting hammered and commentating on it MST3K-style.  That’s a different audience though, and there are much better dysfunctional family Christmas movies than this one.  Seriously, The Ref might be my favourite Christmas movie of all time (I’m thinking about doing a list) and it is balls to the wall dysfunctional but with a point and heart and I don’t know where Surviving Christmas went wrong (everywhere), but do not subject yourself to it at Christmas or any other time of the year.

It’s like getting a present from your crazy aunt who still thinks you’re into Transformers or Hot Wheels or that you like cars as anything more than a mode of transportation.  It’s the thought that counts, sure, but if the thought is crazy, do you really want someone thinking about it?

1 / 5

Primer (2004)

I don’t even know where to begin when explaining Primer to someone that has never seen or heard of it.  It was filmed on a tiny $7,000 budget, but it certainly doesn’t look like it.  All of the scenes and camerawork and well everything involved in the movie, looks genuinely authentic and low tech.  None of the actors involved are “name” actors, and none of them have gone on to any degree of massive success.

The entire movie was the brainchild of Shane Carruth, who wrote, directed, produced, acted and provided the score for the film.  Carruth used his knowledge of mathematics and engineer experience to craft a movie that doesn’t care if you know what the hell the characters are talking about.  No shortcuts are taken with the jargon, it’s all technobabble.  For the first bit of the movie you’ll be sitting there wondering what vague thing they’re talking about.

Primer is about time travel, in a sense, but also about human conditions, relationships, etc.  I always enjoy time travel movies, because I get to nitpick about how “right” or “wrong” they got it in terms of my understanding of time travel (which is impossible, sadly).  Primer – to my knowledge – gets it right, though I’d be lying through my blog-writing fingers if I said I knew for sure exactly what the hell was going on.  Even the smartest people in the world could watch the film, and still require at least one re-watch to fully understand what went on.  Not a movie for everyone, but I certainly was spellbound.

4.5 / 5