Sunday, June 29, 2008

My 2008 Movie Odyssey - Part VI

Oh boy, I'm really behind on getting these out. I have about 15 more reviews to still release, plus another 15 or so to write. Must... get... cracking...

D-War (2007)
Where do I start with a movie like this? The story is silly, the screenplay is laughable, the acting is almost entirely wooden, none of the characters act believably, half the scenes end abruptly without any sort of reasonable conclusion, and to top it all off, it’s a story that is about Korean mythology with reincarnated Koreans, that takes place solely in modern day Los Angeles, with only one (minor) character who is Asian of any kind. But wait, there’s more! Not only is Los Angeles being attacked by two dueling dragons, there is also an ancient Korean overlord (who looks as un-Korean as anyone can look) whose sole purpose is to look menacing as a Sauron wannabe while he makes the blade of his sword appear magically from its hilt. He also commands hoards of undead soldiers that appear inexplicably out of nowhere and headquarters in a castle (wha?) that is another complete ripoff of Lord of the Rings. Of all the films I’ve seen from 2007, this one would make the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, and I fully expect to see a Rifftrax available for it very soon.

Silent Running (1972)
It is an interesting look at one man’s obsession, and the lengths he will go to to keep the things he finds most valuable from being destroyed. I liked the interplay between our hero and his robot pals, and the film has an interesting look. On the other hand, it suffers from 1970's minimalist story syndrome, and many of the decisions our hero makes don’t follow logically from the story.

The Dirty Dozen (1967)
The film tells the rousing story of a group of misfit soldiers who elect to go on a suicide mission during WWII in lieu of serving out their prison sentences. While we don’t get a full look at each member of the titular dozen, the film does a wonderful job juggling its large cast in a way that we still get to know most of the twelve. Lee Marvin lights up the screen in every scene, and watching the film makes me want to check out more of his extensive work. The film has a lot in common with The Great Escape: a war movie that feels like a comedy until the third act when the tension ratchets up several notches, leading to a sobering ending that still does not seem out of place.

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Once I was able to get over Freddie Highmore’s sporadically successful attempt at an American accent, I was drawn into a world where magical beings live just beyond our perceptions. The film has a wonderful visual flair to it, and the creatures get enough screen time to keep me from feeling cheated out of some good otherworldliness, but not so much that it felt like one giant CG lovefest. My biggest complaint is that in the end, when all the interpersonal family conflict is being resolved, it is done through heavy-handed, unnatural dialog, bordering on preachy. Remember, when it comes to movies: show, don’t tell.

Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
I saw a high school production of the musical back in eight grade, and was interested to revisit the story. The movie started pretty well, with a couple imaginatively produced musical numbers (especially one involving lots of phone calls) but as the story progressed, there was less and less to distinguish it from other musicals of the time, and the Elvis Presley parody got old by the end.

Coming up next: A hodgepodge of films that have very little in common.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reactions to AFI's 10 Top 10

Well, it was an enjoyable evening watching the broadcast counting down ten top 10 lists, with several cries of both joy and dismay from all parties. So without further ado, my conscientious readers, here are my thoughts on the AFI 10 Top 10.

Will Be #1: 6 for 10 (2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) over Star Wars (1977) upsets me, but I am quite pleased Annie Hall (1977) did not take #1.)
Should Be#1: 4 for 10 (I enjoy being a contrarian, what can I say?)
Should But Won't: 10 for 10 (I guess I'm good at predicting what films won't be included.)
Will But Shouldn't: 6 or 8 for 10 (I said Field of Dreams (1989) would make the sports list, but it made the fantasy list, and I said Adam's Rib (1949) would make the courtroom drama list, but it made the romantic comedy list.)

As I predicted, only one non-Disney/Pixar film made the cut, though I am a little surprised that Shrek (2001) ended up being the the lone renegade. I thought The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) would have squeaked in, if only to represent stop-motion animation. And I am VERY happy that Happy Feet (2006) did not make it. This is also one of only two top 10 lists for which I've seen all ten films.
Film that Scored Way Too High: Bambi (1942) at #3 - An overrated story with a bland main character, the message of which is, "Humans are evil." The Fox and the Hound (1981) would have been a much better bad hunter choice.
Most Glaring Omission: Sleeping Beauty (1959) - It is the first Disney film to have a more stylized look, makes wonderful use of Tchaikovsky's music, and has one of the most frightening villains of all time. I had this one pegged to make the top 5.

I am pretty disappointed in this list. There are way too many films (6) on the list that are minimalist fantasy. Two of them the fantasy elements can almost be explained away - Harvey (1950, he's crazy, Harvey doesn't exist) and Miracle on 34th Street (1947, he's delusioned, there is no Santa Claus) - and for two of them, the fantasy elements are merely storytelling gimmicks - Big (1988, a boy wakes up in a man's body) and Groundhog Day (1993, a man lives the same day over and over). Not to belittle any of these films (except Miracle on 34th Street) but none of them contain the amount of wonder that The Dark Crystal (1982), Edward Scissorhands (1990) or The Princess Bride (1987) have. It was cool to see a silent film - The Thief of Bagdad (1924) - make the list. Now I really have to watch it.
Film that Scored Way Too High: Miracle on 34th Street (1947) at #5 - Let's perpetuate the lie that once a year a man breaks into your house, leaving goodies, stealing only baked goods and dairy products, but only if you maintain certain unspecified behavioral patterns.
Most Glaring Omission: Jason and the Argonauts (1963) - There are so many films that I wanted to make the list but didn't, it was hard to pick just one, but I go with Jason because I thought for sure at least one spot would go to Ray Harryhausen, and the scene where Jason fights an army of skeletons is downright cool.

The list pretty much fell out how I thought it would, though I thought there would be at least one film without a downer ending (Some Like it Hot (1959) would have been the choice here). I'm also surprised that Once Upon a Time in America (1984) failed to take a spot on the list.
Film that Scored Way Too High: The Godfather Part II (1974) - It's too long, and comes up woefully short of the original.
Most Glaring Omission: Touch of Evil (1958) - Sometimes it surprises me how little love Orson Welles seems to get from AFI.

Science Fiction
This list turned out pretty much the way I expected. We have a couple 80's joyrides - E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Back to the Future (1985) - a couple intelligent 50's films - Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), a 90's effects extravaganza - Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) - and of course the mainstays of Star Wars (1977), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Blade Runner (1982). Also, if you discount A Clockwork Orange (1970), which I refuse to see, I have seen all the films in this list.
Film that Scored Way Too High: 2001: A Space Odyssey at #1 - Number 1 over Star Wars?! Are you kidding me!? (As you can tell, I am mildly irked at the ordering at the top of the list.)
Most Glaring Omission: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) - Spielberg's surprisingly realistic tale of a visit from benevolent aliens is too unique to be left off this list.

Well, as I feared there were too many revisionist westerns on the list. The biggest surprise for me was seeing Blazing Saddles (1974) fail to make the list. I thought for sure we would get it as the lone comedy (though I am told that Cat Ballou (1965) is a comedy). The list did give me three films to see that I haven't yet.
Film that Scored Way Too High: Unforgiven (1992) at #4 - What is the anti-western doing in the top 5?
Most Glaring Omission: The Magnificent Seven (1960) - This is the ultimate western, has a rousing score by Elmer Bernstein, and is so often imitated, it has almost become cliche.

We get feel-good movies across the board, except for number one. I guess that's why Raging Bull (1980) took the top spot over Rocky (1976), since it's unique in that the main character is unlikeable and fails to triumph over adversity. Other than that, a pretty straightforward list all around.
Film that Scored Way Too High: Caddyshack (1980) at #7 - Happy Gilmore (1996) would have been a better choice for a golf movie, and I hate Adam Sandler.
Most Glaring Omission: The Freshman (1925) - It is one of the sweetest movies I have seen, but Harold Lloyd gets even less love from AFI than Buster Keaton.

We get four Hitchcock movies: Vertigo (1958), Rear Window (1954), North by Northwest (1959), and Dial M for Murder (1954). Unfortunately, neither of the two films on the nominees list that wish they were Hitchcock films - Charade (1963) and Gaslight (1944) - made the list. This is the other list for which I have seen all ten films.
Film that Scored Way Too High: Blue Velvet (1986) at #8 - There isn't much of a mystery here, and the plot centers on Dennis Hopper being mean to everyone, and being a generally unpleasant person.
Most Glaring Omission: The Thin Man (1934) - This would be both the only comedy on the list and the only one featuring a "I suppose you're wondering why I called you all here" scene. Also, the chemistry between William Powell and Myrna Loy is exquisite.

Romantic Comedy
I know I am biased, but I think only two films from the 30's (with one of them being City Lights (1931), a silent film) is a travesty. Where are The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), or My Man Godfrey (1936)? While I am pleased to see a (mostly) silent film take number one, I don't know if City Lights really counts as a romantic comedy. Sure it has romance and comedy, but the comedy is not derived from the romantic pickles the lovers find themselves in; instead the scenes of romance are almost entirely laugh-free.
Film that Scored Way Too High: Adam's Rib (1949) at #7 - The romance aspects in this film are a little weak in my opinion, and the film would have been better served to be on the courtroom drama list. If they were going to go with a Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn film, Woman of the Year (1942) would have been a much better choice.
Most Glaring Omission: Bringing Up Baby (1938) - Sure it may be a little light on the romance, but it more than makes up for it in the comedy aspects.

Courtroom Drama
Having seen so few of the nominees, I was surprised to see that I have seen seven of the top 10. The pick that took me completely by surprise was A Cry in the Dark (1988), mostly because I had never even heard of it. I'm also surprised Inherit the Wind (1960) did not make the list. I haven't seen it, but I thought the AFI would surely go for a film that honors the pioneers who brought the gospel of evolution into our schools. This list is the one I was least invested in, and most ambivalent towards the outcome.
Film that Scored Way Too High: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) at #1 - Only because 12 Angry Men (1957) should have been number one.
Most Glaring Omission: A funny one - The seven films I did see on the list were all pretty dour, and the three I did not see looked even more so.

There were not many surprises here; pretty much all the major players got some representation. The biggest surprise for me was that David Lean only got one film on the list - Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - when I thought Doctor Zhivago (1965) and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) were shoe-ins to be included. I was also pleasantly surprised to see The Ten Commandments (1956) make the list.
Film that Scored Way Too High: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) at #7 - Sure it is an important film in the history of cinema, but it has aged poorly, and is very preachy by today's standards.
Most Glaring Omission: Intolerance (1916) - D. W. Griffith wrote the book on epic filmmaking with this movie, with the Babylon storyline featuring some of the most lavish sets ever made for a film. It's inclusion would have also added to the ranks of the already too underrepresented silent films.

Even though they made lots of mistakes in compiling these lists, I can't complain too much, because when all is said and done, I now have 16 (not counting A Clockwork Orange) films to seek out.

You can see all 10 Top 10 lists at Also, you can find them other places by googling "AFI 10 Top 10."

Monday, June 16, 2008

AFI's 10 Top 10

Tomorrow the American Film Institute will unveil its latest top 100 list. Last year they did the top 100 American films of all time, and previously they've done the top 100 comedies, romances, thrills and chills, and songs. So what could be left after all these lists? Well there are several genres that deserve mention but do not have enough films to warrant a top 100 list of their own. So this year the AFI is taking ten of these genres and compiling 10 Top 10 lists. So without further ado, I give you, my cataloged readers, my thoughts on each list along with the film I think will come in at number one, the one I think should be number one, a film that I think should make the list but won't, and one film that I think shouldn't make the list but will.

Looking at the list of nominees, is is pretty much a roll call of all the Disney and Pixar films. In fact, only 16 of the 50 nominees are not Disney, Pixar, or Touchstone. And I think the final 10 will reflect this as well. I predict only one film in the top ten will be from a non-Disney (or Disney connected) studio, with An American Tale (1986) and The Secret of Nimh (1982) being the most likely candidates. I have also managed to see all but 4 of the 50 nominees, making this list the one I am most qualified to have an opinion on.
Will Be #1: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) - It's the first full-length animated feature, has many iconic characters and songs, and the animation is still top-notch.
Should Be #1: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) - See above.
Should But Won't: The Incredibles (2004) - It has surprisingly mature themes, yet is still accessible to kids, but as great as their films are, I don't see Pixar scoring more than two spots on the list, and those spots are most likely going to Toy Story (1995) and Finding Nemo (2003).
Will But Shouldn't: The Lion King (1994) - An underwhelming rip-off of Bambi (1942, which wasn't that great either), it made too much money at the box office to not be included.

Courtroom Drama
These are really more like Legal Dramas as several of the nominees spend very little time in the courtroom, but have lawyers as main characters (The Client (1994) and The Pelican Brief (1993) for instance). I have only seen 16 of the nominated films, so I am interested in seeing how this list turns out.
Will Be #1: 12 Angry Men (1957) - It is the ultimate courtroom film, with all but the last scene taking place within the confines of the courtroom. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) might unseat it as Mockingbird is widely considered the better film, but the courtroom aspects of the film are a much smaller part of the story.
Should Be #1: 12 Angry Men (1957) - Over 90% of the film takes place in just one room, and yet it is completely engaging and never dull.
Should But Won't: There are no candidates that really stand out to me.
Will But Shouldn't: Adam's Rib (1949) - AFI will get a kick out of putting a comedy on this otherwise very serious list, but the battle of the sexes themes turn me off.

Biblical films abound on the list of nominees, with seven telling the story of Jesus in some form or fashion: Ben-Hur (1926 & 1959), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Intolerance (1916), The King of Kings (1927), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and The Passion of the Christ (2004). While I think the second Ben-Hur and Intolerance will make the final cut, the list will be heavily slanted towards more military fare.
Will Be #1: Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - A sweeping story combined with a larger-than-life protagonist and camera work that can only be fully appreciated in 70mm make Lawrence the epic that all others are judged by. Gone With the Wind (1939) runs a close second.
Should Be #1: Ben-Hur (1959) - The chariot race at the end is one of the greatest action pieces ever committed to film, and it features one of the best portrayals of Jesus as well.
Should But Won't: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) - It handles both action-packed sea battles and intimate character drama with equal excellence.
Will But Shouldn't: Doctor Zhivago (1965) - Hey, let's celebrate an extramarital affair and put an annoying film score behind it!

This has my favorite list of nominees, with several of my favorite films of all time on it. I have also seen 36 of the films on the list, and of those 36, only 4 get a "thumbs down" from me. It also has a very wide range of films on it, from the epic, immersive The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), to the almost entirely effects-free It's a Wonderful Life (1946), from the bright and happy Mary Poppins (1964) to the dark and twisted Brazil (1985).
Will Be #1: The Wizard of Oz (1939) - It creates the world of Oz in radiant Technicolor, contains several immediately recognizable songs and quotes, and has embedded itself into American society more than any other film in history.
Should Be #1: The Wizard of Oz (1939) - Even though Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite film on the list, I have to vote for Oz for the above reasons.
Should But Won't: Mary Poppins (1964) - I don't see the AFI picking a happy Disney kids' musical, even considering its many memorable songs and eye-popping effects. (I'm going out on a limb and optimistically saying that The Princess Bride (1987) will make the list.)
Will But Shouldn't: Ghost (1990) - This film is so dumb, I don't see how anybody likes it, yet it cleaned house at the box office.

The gangster genre has been woefully underrepresented in my film watching history, so I am definitely looking forward to seeing what makes the list so I have a better guide on what to check out.
Will Be #1: The Godfather (1972) - The question here is not "Will The Godfather come in at number one?" but "Will Godfather I and II go numbers one and two?"
Should Be #1: The Godfather (1972) - Mention the phrase "mob boss," and I think most people will get an image in their heads of either Al Capone or of Marlon Brando stroking a cat.
Should But Won't: Oscar (1991) - Normally the words "Sylvester Stallone" and "comedy" are not included in the same sentence, but this comedy about a mobster who tries to go straight is a riot.
Will But Shouldn't: The Godfather Part II (1974) - It is dark and depressing, and borrows far too much from the first Godfather. Besides, with only ten films making the final cut, how about a little variety?

With 9 Hitchcock films on the list of nominees, I wouldn't be terribly upset if the final 10 included all 9 Hitchcocks and either The Thin Man (1934) or Charade (1963). Of course that's not going to happen, but I can dream, can't I? I do expect both Vertigo (1958) and Rear Window (1954) to make the list, and North by Northwest (1959) could squeak in as well.
Will Be #1: Vertigo (1958) - Critics drool (and rightfully so) over Hitchcock's dark tale of obsession and intrigue, full of twists and turns. The Maltese Falcon (1941), the ultimate film noir, will run a close second and could edge out Vertigo for the top spot.
Should Be #1: Vertigo (1958) - Few movies have sucked me in as well as Vertigo did on my first viewing.
Should But Won't: Memento (2001) - Thought this film should get plenty of consideration, there are too many Hitchcock and film noir movies on the nominee list for it to crack the top 10.
Will But Shouldn't: Chinatown (1974) - It is one of the best crafted screenplays ever written, but the film is so nihilistic that I can't stand it.

Romantic Comedy
AFI did both a romance list and a comedies list with many films overlapping between the lists, so this category seems a little redundant. A live-action children's film top 10 list would have been interesting (with The Wizard of Oz (1939) and E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) coming in at numbers one and two) but they didn't ask me. I'm hoping the list is filled with screwball comedies from the 30's and 40's, as those are some of my favorite films.
Will Be #1: Annie Hall (1977) - Critics inexplicably can't get enough of neurotic Woody Allen and space cadet Diane Keaton.
Should Be #1: The Philadelphia Story (1940) - Great comedy, good romance, and the greatest 3 star billing of all time with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. It edges out Bringing Up Baby (1938) for me, because while Baby has more laughs, Story does the romance better, and it's more essential to the plot.
Should But Won't: Our Hospitality (1923) - This is probably Buster Keaton's best romance, so it gets my vote over The General (1927). Tragically, Keaton is completely absent from the list of 50 nominees. Also missing is the equally valid The Princess Bride (1987).
Will But Shouldn't: Annie Hall (1977) - Two people who love each other but are unable to make adjustments for the other person. Sounds more like a tragedy than a comedy to me.

Science Fiction
I have seen 40 of the 50 nominees, making it my second most watched list after animation. It will be interesting to see how the more high art films dealing with ideas and philosophies like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) balance out with the ones more interested in giving the audience a good time like Jurassic Park (1993).
Will Be #1: Star Wars (1977) - It introduced the world to a fully realized universe that audiences had never seen before, made huge strides in the business of movie special effects, became the template for the Summer blockbuster, and is still the second-highest grossing film in America. And it's highly entertaining.
Should Be #1: Star Wars (1977) - See above.
Should But Won't: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - It didn't even make the short list! It is one of the best sequels of all time (that might make an interesting top 10 list as well) and takes all the fun of the first Star Wars and adds more serious and darker elements to it.
Will But Shouldn't: 2001: A Space Odyssey - Monkeys jump around, playing with bones. Then a space ship docks and there is a long conversation about something. Then a computer kills a crew member and is then killed by the final crew member. Then there is an acid trip. Then the credits roll. How is this a great film!?

An underdog comes out of nowhere, makes a big splash, all of which leads up to a final competition. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Will Be #1: Rocky (1976) - No other movie follows the above formula more iconically than Rocky, and a best picture Oscar doesn't hurt, either. I also expect Raging Bull (1980) to take the number 2 spot. This does not make me happy, as I don't care for boxing, or boxing movies, at all.
Should Be #1: Hoosiers (1986) - After attending a small school in rural Indiana, I have a certain affinity for this film. Rudy (1993), another Indiana film, scores high for me as well.
Should But Won't: The Sandlot (1993) - This love letter to baseball that features a bunch of kids playing baseball simply for the fun of it did not even make the short list. Grr!
Will But Shouldn't: Field of Dreams (1989) - It was a tossup for me between this one and Raging Bull, but Field wins out simply because it is so dumb. What scares me is that Field of Dreams might be the only baseball movie to make the list.

I have only seen 17 of the nominated films, making this my second-least seen category. I have not seen very many westerns at all, so I am really excited to see what westerns AFI will recommend to me. I just hope they don't go overboard with the revisionist westerns, filling the top 10 with Unforgiven (1992) and its thematic cousins.
Will Be #1: The Searchers (1956) - A classic journey tale with Monument Valley as the backdrop. It also inspired many of today's filmmakers, most notably George Lucas, who watched it constantly while making Star Wars (1977). If the voters are more in the mood for a smaller, more personal film, High Noon (1952) could take over the top spot.
Should Be #1: Stagecoach (1939) - This is a wonderful ensemble piece with heroes and villains taking various shapes and sizes. The Magnificent Seven (1960) comes in at a close second for me since it best follows the conventions of a western.
Should But Won't: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) - I don't know why this one failed to make the list of nominees: it has an American cast and was at least partially made by an American film company. It has more atmosphere and style in five minutes than most westerns have over their entire running time.
Will But Shouldn't: The Searchers (1956) - None of the characters are particularly compelling, the passage of time is conveyed only through dialog, and, while I am not one to be overly sensitive of racial attitudes in film, I found John Ford's treatment of the American Indians to be overly broad and degrading.

All ten lists of 50 nominees are available for download at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My 2008 Movie Odyssey - Part V

The Sugarland Express (1974)
The Sugarland Express represented the final film from Steven Spielberg I hadn’t seen yet, so watching it gave me the sense of finality that I’ve now managed to see all of Spielberg’s films, but it was also bittersweet in that there are now no more films of his for me to watch (other than new ones, and I’m definitely looking forward to Indiana Jones 4 this summer). The film was surprisingly funny, and the chase across Texas, with a continually increasing number of police cars involved, is a sight to behold.
(Yes, I wrote this a couple months ago.)

March of the Penguins (2005)
I’m sure the Antarctic vistas would be much more spectacular when blown up to I-Max proportions, but watching it on my small screen at home, all I got out of it was a fun, entertaining, and informative documentary that never quite rises above the rest of the nature documentary crowd.

Michael Clayton (2007)
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this legal thriller that has very much in common with standard John Grisham fare. George Clooney puts in an excellent performance as a lawyer whose job it is to clean up his colleagues’ legal messes. The cause of this particular mess is Tom Wilkinson, a defense attorney who, after going off his medications, starts saying things he shouldn’t be saying, and is a wonderful performance as well. The ending took me by surprise, and yet was completely believable given the characters and motivations.

La Vie en rose (2007)
I watched this film knowing nothing about French singer Edith Piaf, and one the film was over, all I knew was she had a big voice, liked to drink, and loved a married boxer. The story is annoyingly told out of chronological order, so there is no sense of when anything is happening and what has already happened. People pop in and out of Edith’s life with no explanation as to where they went or how they came back. Just when things start to get interesting, the film jumps to a completely different time period with no common thread to tie the scenes together. It is as if the editor misread the slates, and when they said "Day 1" he thought they meant "Scene 1," so edited the film in the order in which it was shot. And to make matters worse, half the film is woefully underlit. Granted, I watched the film on my computer screen which is already dark, but when half the scenes are at night (for no apparent reason) or in dimly lit interiors, the fault is not solely in my computer hardware.

Atonement (2007)
After watching the trailer for this film, I got the idea that 13 year old Briony makes up an indicting story about her adult sister and a young man as an act of revenge for him not returning her affections, and this untrue tale messes up everyone’s life. This made me think it was about a group of unhappy people making each others’ lives miserable, which made me not want to see it. So when I actually did see it (mostly so I could round out all five of the best picture Oscar nominees) I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Instead of being a story about anger and spiteful actions, it tells how Briony witnesses a series of events that she misunderstands, which lead to a fateful accusation that is actually believable, given her limited information and understanding. This added innocence to the story which made it much more palpable for me to watch. The story is excellently told, always making the audience ask "What’s going to happen next?" The score is a lot of fun as well, cleverly using the sound of typewriters as percussion instruments; very fitting since Briony is a writer. I have mixed feelings about the ending. In regards to the young lovers played by Keira Knightly and James McAvoy, I felt as if the filmmakers were trying to have their cake and eat it too, giving them both a tragic and a happy ending. On the other hand it provides a wonderful conclusion for Briony.

Coming up next: candidates for both my top and bottom 10 of the year.