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July 6, 2009
Everybody loves top ten lists and come December there will be a slew of top ten
movies of the year lists. The movie year is now just half over so I thought I'd get a
jump on the competition and give my take on the five best and worst of 2009.
These may or may not end up in my overall ten best and worst for the year as the
film industry tends to save their "Oscar bait" till November and December. Also we
judges often have short memories and tend to have the latest releases on our
minds. So here they are in alphabetical order my choices for the best and worst.

The Best Movies for the first half of 2009

The Hangover

Star Trek

Synechdoche New York



The Worst Movies for the first half of 2009


Land of the Lost

Observe and Report

Revolutionary Road

Year One
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Top 5 best and worst films of 2009  (so far)
by Roland Hansen
"Hangover" is sick, twisted and funny. This is a
movie where you WANT to stick around for the
credits. The beauty is that you are totally set up
for it, and you don't mind one bit. That final
sequence ties the movie together in an awesome
fashion and you wont have to walk out (Thank
you Heather).
Zachary Quinto has inherited Nimoy’s knack for
infusing his matter-of-fact pronouncements with
almost subliminal dry wit, and while there’s really
no replacing Shatner, Chris Pine is surprisingly
adept at evoking the bravado and bluster of Kirk
without devolving into parody. He fills Kirk’s
space boots with a brashness that easily matches
the size of el capitan’s ego. As unlikely as it once
seemed, it looks like the ol’ Enterprise has a few
more light-years left in it after all. When a familiar
face tells young Kirk: "I have been and always
shall be your friend." You may even find yourself
getting a little choked up. Star Trek fans will love
it. Everyone else will mearly think it's a great
action sci-fi flick.
Synecdoche is utterly brilliant! Masterpiece is the
kind of title happily bestowed upon rare
experiences such as this. "Synecdoche, New
York" will not likely find a big audience, as most
people will either not want to work at
understanding it or won't like what it has to
say. But if you're willing to go into it with an open
mind, you might just find yourself amazed.

This movie is not for your average viewer. It is
thought provoking, emotional, and incredibly
difficult to comprehend. I can really only
recommend this one to serious movie aficionados.
"Taken" is almost the perfect action film. There's
exciting car chases, ample gunplay,  knife fight,
hand to hand combat with torture, blood, and
pain. All this with a body count that would make
John Rambo proud. Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) is
like Jason Bourne on steriods. There's nothing
lofty in the intentions of "Taken." The aspiration
here was to make a simple, straight-ahead action
thriller. Period. But if you think that's easy, think
of all the lousy action thrillers that come out in
the  course of a year. The level of skill that went
into "Taken" is masterly
Pixar has done it again! Life's adventures aren't
just "out there." They're here, too, wherever life
is lived and love is shared. And it's not photos or
mementos that matter, it's the memories of
those adventures that keep us warm when we're
old. "Up" is a wonderfully touching, openly dark,
and surprisingly surreal adventure story. To call
the picture 'sentimental' would be an
understatement, as it is often an ode to
sentimentality. It uses wordless montage and the
power of silence every bit as effectively as
"Wall-E" and it's often just as action-packed as
"The Incredibles". It is a beautiful story, gloriously
told with rich and vivid characters, eye-popping
visual splendor and acknowledges the complete
despairs and utter joys of life in one fell swoop.
The film takes far too long to really get going,
with needless scenes showing various people
discovering that they have gone blind and then
the final act drags on for what seemed like an
eternity. Ultimately, everything is just too
obvious for me to be impressed and not wait for
the next typical scene to happen. Everyone
starts to go blind, people don't understand,
chaos ensues, more people are infected, they're
quarantined and treated poorly, madness breaks
out within the quarantined, etc. In the end, I was
reminded of "Children of Men", another film which
had great promise but ultimately disappointed. At
least that movie started out good. However,
"Blindness" just meandered around, and did so
for a long, long time.
There is exactly one funny bit in "Land of the  
Lost," and it stands out because it comes at the
very beginning and the very end. The jokes come
not from the film’s ridiculous premise or even
from the outlandish situations Will Ferrell is thrust
into. Most of those are played seriously. The film
only attempts to be funny whenever whatever
CGI action moment it’s just put us through is
over with and Ferrell stands around to engage in
semi-improvisational speeches designed to make
himself look like an ass. Land of the Lost isn’t the
butt of the joke, Will Ferrell is.
The trailers make it look like a movie you've seen
a thousand times before, most recently under the
title “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”  - bumbling mall cop
outsmarts the police and solves a crime in order
to win the love of his lady. Trust me when I say
that almost none of the story plays out quite
that way. While teddy bear Kevin James' Paul
Blart is a lovable loser - Seth Rogen's Ronnie
Barhhardt is a psychotic delusional loser. While
there are a number of laugh out loud moments
overall the film just isn't funny enough to
overcome the creepiness and utter worthlessness
of most of the characters. While I am sure a lot
of people are going to love this movie I'm just
not one of them. It was OK but I came away from
the theater feeling dirty, I needed to shower so
as not to get infected.
Life sucks and then you move to the suburbs, or
maybe it's the other way around. In one word
'BORINGGGG!".  "Revolutionary Road" wants to
be an aching, melancholy drama that reveals
bitter truths along the way, and that is certainly a
fine ambition. Unfortunately, Mendes has made a
film that often just leaves you feeling indifferent.
Despite some good qualities, this type of material
has resulted in better movies several times before
(Married life). "Revolutionary Road" is overly
melodramatic and will bore you to tears. See the
afore mentioned "Married Life" if your interested
in 1950's suburban ennui but by all means avoid
this film. You'd be better off just turning it off
after the first sex scene. There's nothing much
worth watching after that.
Making a solid summer comedy starring Jack
Black, Michael Cera, David Cross and Hank Azaria
should be so easy, a caveman could do it.
Despite the presence of those reliable actors and
the highly advanced skills of comic veterans
Harold Ramis and Judd Apatow behind the
scenes, "Year One" manages to be a dud. "Year
One" in a nut shell is nothing short of toilet
humor. The flick uses piss and poop as well as
crude sexual innuendo rather than any real
humor. The effect is more vomit inducing that
funny. The movie takes gross and unexpected
turns in every direction. From licking poop, to
sacrificing sons, to burning virgins for rainfall,
there is no explanation for any of it.

To quote Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily
News "the one person who'll be happy after
walking out may be Will Ferrell, since 'Land of the
Lost' is no longer the only turkey around."