Nerdy Heartbeat

Movies, Reviews, News, Insanity

Nerdy Heartbeat’s Guide to What You Should Watch On Valentine’s Day February 13, 2010

Oh Valentine’s Day. The most disgustingly obnoxious/commercial holiday ever conceived by the big businesses of America. But enough about the drama regarding how American love has morphed into mass consumerism and socially histrionic tendencies it’s here, it always will be and complaining won’t do anything. Whether you like it or not, tomorrow you WILL snuggle up with your significant other (or a significant other), go to dinner, exchange gifts and probably watch a movie or two. I’m here to talk about the latter. I know. The average chick flick sucks. Looking at films like Leap Year, the most recent of “romantic” catastrophes, chances are these films are mindless escapism for delusional depressed women who want to forget how pathetic their lives are: that as long as someone falls in love within their grasps they can fall asleep without having to blast Taylor Swift while crying themselves to sleep. ANYWAY… I’m here to help you. To make sure you don’t watch one of those films because, shockingly enough, for every 3 horrible rom-coms, there’s 1 that is so damn good, it will make you forget about all that mediocrity. So when that special person wants to watch a cute date movie, you can recommend one of these, pop it in and not have to deal with all the cliched ridicule that plagues the genre. Additionally, the following list consists of films that you would both enjoy

My Best Friend’s Wedding

Julia Roberts is always gorgeous. Plain and simple. But her charm is only one of the reasons people love this movie. In short, Julia Roberts falls for her best friend (who’s a guy), best friend proposes to Cameron Diaz, hilarity and/or chaos ensues. The premise may not be super original but the dialog is sharp, the ending isn’t the Hollywood type but conversely, it doesn’t delve into self-loathing tragedy. Rupert Everett, as Julia’s gay friend, is fantastically hilarious and the “I Say A Little Prayer for You” scene is especially noteworthy. Plus, it’s nice to remember a time long ago when you didn’t find Cameron Diaz incredibly irritating.

Any Judd Apatow Rom-Com (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall)

Let’s face it. Judd Apatow is funny as hell. But underneath all of the absurd sex-ridden conversations and endless dick jokes, these films are romantic-comedies with as much heart as they have raunch. 40 Year Old Virgin starts off as a tale of a man’s lack of sexual experience and the awkwardness that comes with it, but it progresses into a simple but charming “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back, boy and girl live happily ever after” story. Forgetting Sarah Marshall deals with the evolution of a relationship, the good and the bad of a person and how some relationships do end but it only leads to finding someone new and better. Even if you dislike sexual humor you can’t help but appreciate the wit within the dialog. I’d put Knocked Up on the list but it’s frankly a bit too cynical at times for a V-Day setting.

Any Disney Movie

Okay not any Disney movie but you know what I mean: the one’s that are essentially love stories (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Lion King, Aristocats, Snow White, Hercules… yeah you get the idea). And I get it, some of you may think you’re too old for these kinds of films but even if your “too mature” for the story, you can’t help but marvel at the animation and music. Plus, recommending a film like this for a date may show off your playful side. I know. It sounds ridiculous but these films are adorable and you’d be straight up lying if you said these movies didn’t brighten your day.

(500) Days of Summer

You all know I love this movie. So I don’t need to explain it anymore. Seriously fools, go watch it.

Moulin Rouge!

A musical about love? It sounds like something that would completely destroy your masculinity. But no how much of a woman you may feel like while watching it, you won’t care. The visuals are so phenomenal that’s it’s basically an orgy for the eyes. Additionally, there’s some Nirvana and Beatles covers in here: both of them are pretty manly bands right? And if that doesn’t help just keep telling yourself it’s a movie about prostitutes. Come to think of it, any other musical would work just as well too… unless you’re not into that kinda thing.

When Harry Met Sally

Every other rom-com after this movie sucks, to an extent. This is the mother of them all, it’s responsible for all the Hollywood boy meets girl stories that came out within the past two decades. And it’s still really really good to this day. See it. No seriously. That’s all I have to say. I mean come on if you’re a fan of the rom-com genre you have to respect your elders. And you can’t get more classic than this.

Annie Hall

Speaking of classics… watch Annie Hall while your at it. Next to It’s A Wonderful Life, this is my all time favorite movie. A tale about love and all the insanity that comes after it. Woody Allen knows how to express the quirkiness of human interaction regarding love and sex. See it.

Honorable Mentions:

Zack and Miri Make  A Porno

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Juno

Can’t Hardly Wait

Garden State

Pretty Woman

Paper Heart

Jerry Maguire


 

Favorite Movies of the Decade January 21, 2010

Okay so I just did the best films of 2009. Phew. Done with the end of the year lists. Oh wait. It’s the ending of the decade too…

Since there’s too many to list: this isn’t going to be a top 10 or 20 or whatever. Instead I’m just going to reminisce on the films these past 10 years that made a profound of impact on me.

Requiem For A Dream (2000)


No other movie has moved me as powerfully as this one but it was far from an easy trip. If you’ve talked to anyone about this film you would know that it is one of the most brutally intense, disturbing and depressing American films ever released. It’s one of those films you have to watch but might be to rough to watch again.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)


There’s quirky, then there’s The Royal Tenenbaums: with a charmingly off-beat humorist style that’s so intriguing, using the word quirky is an insult. Many believe that without this film, there’d be no Arrested Development, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno or Modern Family. Not to mention, the cast is fantastic. The more you watch it. The more you discover that this movie helped reinvent the dysfunctional family genre.

Moulin Rouge (2001)


First time I heard of this film, I thought it looked horrible. Then I saw it. And I was wrong. Damn wrong. I mean, yeah the beginning is a slight step above a trip on E but it’s the over-the-top, ridiculousness of it that makes it so appealing. But what made me adore this jukebox romantic comedy/tragedy musical was how the movie quickly jolted from absolutely hilarious to completely tragic. You know what’s going to happen from the beginning but even with that in mind the film puts you in a false sense of security that a happy ending will actually occur until the disaster hits you right in the stomach. Even if a love story is too feminine or cliched for you, even the biggest elitist can’t help but love the chaotically brilliant art style and music that mashes every pop song imaginable (one moments mixes together Labelle, Nirvana and Fatboy Slim). From an artistic standpoint, this is one of the most arrestingly fantastic films of the early decade.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)


I think it’s pretty obvious this was going to make the list. Sure Star Wars will always be considered THE holy trilogy in my book however The Lord of the Rings were a landmark franchise in the early 2000s. Additionally, it was a massive form of escapism that, in a post-9/11 America, was desperately needed. It was epic, it was beautiful and it helped put “nerd”-related mediums in the mainstream. In the 80s and 90s, Role Playing Games were considered either social suicide or the work of Satan. Now in 2010, half of the country’s population plays World of Warcraft. Would this have happened had LOTR never hit the screens? Possibly but one has to wonder. These movies blew my post-middle school mind. The battle at Helm’s Deep, the terror of the Ringwraiths and Orcs, the sheer hilarity at Gollum arguing with himself were just some of the highlights that made me love this trilogy. And sure, the ending of part three may have been a little long (and slightly homoerotic) but even a die hard Star Wars fanboy can’t argue that the “other” trilogy made a major impact in the 2000s.

Love, Actually (2003)


Probably my favorite romantic comedy not just of this decade, but ever. This christmas epic not only boasts a fantastic cast but also strips down the term of love to its essential elements. It’s not only love of husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend but also the love between best friends and family. The score is chillingly good, all of the side-stories are interesting and don’t just resort to one-dimensional characterization and, not to mention, it gives you that special kind of holiday spirit no film has done this momentously since It’s A Wonderful Life. That says a lot.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (2003-2004)


This ultra-bloody tribute to the samurai film pretty much made my freshman year. Over-the-top, violent and tons of kick-ass fun. The blood-soaked fights, perfect one-liners (“Wiggle your big toe” “I’ll collect your f–king head”) blew my post-puberty mind. Stylishly fantastic and classic Quarintino.

Garden State (2004)


I saw this film over the summer it came out and loved the hell out of it. It established everything I was feeling at the time. After all, I was in high school: angsty, confused, rebellious and desperately needed to pretentiously listen to indie rock. Garden State offered all of that, with a fantastic soundtrack to boot. It would also be one of the first films to introduce me to the indie film. Before Garden State, my favorite films were The Matrix, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. In other words, big budget flicks in the sci-fi and fantasy genre. Garden State ignited my love affair with Fox Searchlight, a studio that would put out fantastic film after fantastic film.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)


Yet another example of my falling in love with indie cinema. Eternal Sunshine takes a love story and blends it with science fiction, surrealism and post-modern storytelling. It’s inventive presentation, storytelling and directing style made it one of the most original films of the decade. Perhaps even the Pulp Fiction of the 00s?

March of the Penguins (2005)


I love penguins. Plain and simple. So much that when I was a kid, I adored the mediocre (compared to Don Bluth’s other works) animated film The Pebble and the Penguin soley because it had penguins. Well this documentary combined two of my favorite things: penguins AND Morgan Freeman’s voice. Honestly, you can’t for anything more. Well that and the visuals are gorgeous as hell.

The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)


I can’t even count how many times I’ve watched this movie yet even still I find new moments that make me burst into laughter. This is easily one of my favorite comedies and began my belief that Judd Apatow is a comedic God.

Children Of Men (2006)


Amazing direction mixed with flawless storytelling of a dystopian world. To be honest, no words can truly describe how much I adore this film. It’s as brutal as it is beautiful.

The Fountain (2006)


An absolute feast for both the eyes and the ears with beautiful imagery utilizing macro photography instead of computer generated imagery and one of the most relentlessly perfect scores I have ever heard in my lifetime. It’s a tale of love, loss and the fight of mortality that is truly one for the ages.

Once (2007)


A simple tale of how every personal encounter can inspire and push someone to their potential. It’s simple but what makes this film is the music. And it’s fantastic: giving off an Irish singer-songwriter vibe akin to Damien Rice. When this film came out, I was absolutely obsessed with Damien Rice and when with film came out, I was in love. Very few irish films make it big in America and when Once broke out, I was super stoked. Once showed moviegoers that a musical can be realistic and dramatic without any camp. Hopefully, Hollywood will learn from the film’s success and continue this trend. Fox Searchlight does it yet again.

There Will Be Blood (2007)


I’ll give you three reasons why I love the hell out of this film. This… and this… annnnnddddddd this… . No but in all seriousness, Daniel Day Lewis’ performance in There Will Be Blood is easily one of the best of the decade (and Paul Dano’s performance isn’t too far from top either). The cinematography and eerily magnificent score by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood only further propels the brilliance of this film. This movie single-handedly helped reach Paul T. Anderson (one of my favorite directors) to filmmaker superstardom.

Wall-E (2008)


I always knew animation wasn’t just kid stuff, but this film made me not only believe it, but openly advocate that idea. Thanks to Wall-E, I am now a huge fan of animation and a devoted Pixar fanboy.  If it wasn’t for this film, I wouldn’t have explored the world of underground animation from the cult favorite Fantastic Planet to the phenomenal works of Ralph Bakshi. Wall-E truly is a work of art and a visual masterpiece with some unbelievably imaginative sound design. Very few films this decade won my heart as much as this one. See it.

The Dark Knight (2008)


We all know why this is on the list. It’s the ideal superhero film and one that all other will aspire too. A monumental cinematic achievement.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)


Ah yes. Another Fox Searchlight pick. And third times the charm. Stylishly directed with my second favorite score ever (first obviously The Fountain), Slumdog combines Bollywood flair with American fall film grittiness in a “best of both worlds” kind of hybrid. I, along with many others, discovered the beauty of Indian cinema thanks to this gem. All this plus, the idea of telling the life of young man’s trials and tribulations through a game show is something uniquely appealing. It may be emotionally rough at times but in the end, it truly is a tale of the triumph of love and the human spirit. And in times like this, it’s something we all need pretty darn bad. So… all together now: JAI HO!

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

District 9 (2009)

Up (2009)

I’ve discussed these two films in full in my 2009 recap. You all know how much I adore these movies but if you want to hear what I have to say about them: click here.



 

Nerdy Heartbeat 2009 Recap – Best Movie Scene of 2009 January 3, 2010

Yes, this is what goes on through every guy’s mind after getting laid.

 

Nerdy Heartbeat 2009 Recap: The Best Movies of 2009 January 2, 2010

Holy crap 2009. It’s over and for the most part it was a pretty chaotic and insane year (not in a good way). Between the economy continuing plummeting down, Auto-tune plummeting up and Fox News hypocritically and ironically going jihad on Obama after 8 years of whining how bashing a president is anti-American, it was hard to escape from the real world. Good thing movies are still one of the best forms of escapism that doesn’t involve dying of overdose. 2009 was an amazing year for movies both of quality and from a commercial standpoint. The yearly gross is at the highest its ever been (so far at 10.5 BILLION) and with Avatar invading the box office it will only get even higher. The ticket sales were high too at about 1460 million tickets sold this year, the highest its been since 2004. It’s clear that the recession isn’t hurting the film industry at all, in fact it’s helping it. Also as far as quality movies were fantastic with a variety of different genres for something for everyone, not to mention a vast array of original films which is rare in a world of remakes and adaptations. It was a hard list to make; there were so many great films this year, the top 5 itself are easily some of my favorite films this decade.

10. Adventureland


Greg Molotta’s first film since Superbad may not be the Apatow-esque sex-romp everyone expected. In fact, it’s better. Adventureland deals with the post-college troubles that come when one has to deal with the real world in a truly powerful coming-of-age story. A perfect portrayal of all the ups and downs of growing up; not to mention proves to America that Kristen Stewart can acutally act.

9. The Princess and the Frog


The Disney films that we all grew up with are considered classics. Why? Because they kept them simple: renowned folklore reinvented as animated musicals for Western audiences. But after Mulan and experimenting with science fiction (resulting in a few decent but commercially disappointing efforts), Disney plummeted into mediocrity. For the entire decade, Disney had to hold on to Pixar and live-action hits to dear life to stay afloat. But in 2009, Disney decided to go back to their roots with The Princess and the Frog. At the core, it has the same premise of your average Disney Princess movie but beneath that is a great world and story they weave around the simple premise. It’s propelled even further with entertaining characters and jaw-dropping yet nostalgic 2D animation. The music is no Alan Menken but it’s still catchy and fun. It also reminds us how accessible Disney movies are; the film has plenty of humor, visual flare, charm and nods to 1920s New Orleans culture that even a group of full grown adults can enjoy it just as much kids. The Disney magic is back.

8. Zombieland

A 90 minute commercial for Twinkies? Probably but this is one of the most entertaining movies of the year and one of 2009’s best comedies and easily 2009’s best horror film. This year was great to horror with fantastic original horror films left and right, (Drag Me to Hell, Orphan, Paranormal Activity) it was really good that companies aren’t just using horror to cash in on mediocre remakes. Zombieland takes the traditional zombie apocalypse and turns its trademarks on its head with a hilariously engrossing story, dialog and characters. The last 10 or so minutes where the gang fight their way through an amusement park is one of the best fight scenes in a horror movie in a very long time. Sony should stick with this idea; it has strong potential of being a horror classic and can help revive the zombie movie in America.

7. Fantastic Mr. Fox


One of my favorite stories as a kid comes to life with witty Wes Anderson flair. Gorgeous visuals, sharp writing and great voice acting from an impressive ensemble cast make this shine above the rest of the animated films this year in what is ultimately, Ocean’s 11 meets The Royal Tenenbaums with animals. It’s a phenomenal work but a damn shame that this didn’t do as well as many hoped while G-Force and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel were enormously popular. Guess America prefers rodents making fart jokes and singing pop songs. That being said if you’re a fan of animation (particularly anything unconventional outside of the typical CGI affair) or just a huge fan of Wes Anderson’s work, you absolutely need to see this.

6. A Single Man

Visually and aesthetically, this is easily the year’s most phenomenal. Unconventional editing mashed with experimentations with color schemes and brilliant fashion design makes this an artistic gold mine. But underneath all the visual flair is a tragic tale of a man recovering from a lost love and dealing with depression. It is simply a cinematic marvel. That and I’m a sucker for Julianne Moore and Ginnifer Goodwin.

5. The Road

After the masterpiece that was Children of Men, I wasn’t sure if the post-apocalyptic thriller could get any better. Then when I scoffed through films like Babylon A.D., I was convinced that the genre was dead. When I first of The Road, I didn’t know what to think expect that it was just another fall thriller. Then after watching the first 10 or so minutes I knew this was going to be anything but run-of-the-mill. Viggo Mortensen has always been a cinematic badass but this film solidified him as a brilliant actor. The supporting cast, including Robert Duvall and Charlize Theron are pretty fantastic as well. The cinematography is visually staggering and the overall feel of the film is as intense as an post-apocalyptic world can be. Unlike other films this year like 2012 or Zombieland, there’s no over-the-top explosions, hard boiled action, humor or hope. This is the real deal. It’s gritty, bleak and simply tragic. However, the film still makes you feel for these characters despite the fact that hope is slim. It’s an aggressively marvelous tale about the struggle and tenacity of the human spirit and proves that movies about the end of the world can still send shivers down your spine.

4. Up in the Air

George Clooney is cool as f–k. You probably don’t want to admit it but even if you hate him (for whatever reason) you can’t help but realize that you desperately want to be him. Up in the Air proves that as Clooney plays as suave but severely flawed man who gets paid by firing people, lives in airports, believes marriage is a joke and emotionally distances himself from everyone. You don’t want to like him but alas you can’t help but root for the smug bastard. Add this with a fantastic script, brilliant supporting roles from Vera Farminga and Anna Kendrick (aka the “other girl” in the Twilight movies) and a twist that will make M. Night green with envy and you have something that’s very very special. Easily one of the year’s best offerings.

3. Up


Pixar, much like a famed balloon house in their summer hit Up, is flying high as one of the most prolific film companies right now. After the magnificent visual feast that was Wall-E, some (including me) believed Pixar couldn’t get any better. Boy were we wrong. The first 10 minutes of Up were more oscar-worthy than any of the scenes currently nominated for the Golden Globe for best picture and the rest of the movie has dozen of scenes that will either make burst into laughter, bring tears to your eye or give you chills. It’s a storytelling marvel, plain and simple. Arguably one of the best animated films this past decade.

2. District 9


We live in a world where a blockbuster must be based on a comic book/toy line/TV show/book. Then District 9 came along and proved that as long as the world and story is convincing enough and if you’ve got a great marketing campaign, a film can succeed despite of all of the things going against it (unknown cast, heavy R rating, film technique that’s hit/miss with audience, TriStar not releasing a hit since the late 90s). But the fact that it’s an original work or the genius marketing or how it was able to live up to all the hype is why this is so high on the list. Very few sci-films (at least in this day and age) were able to juxtapose sci-fi based mythology with real world social problems so flawlessly without preaching to the audience. The way to narrative unraveled underneath a magnificent yet terrifying setting was masterful. Combine this with visual effects that rival films with a $100+ budget, fantastic acting, an engrossing documentary style and brutally intense action and you have one of the best popcorn flicks in a long time. Not bad for a first-time director. Let’s just hope that with this movie, (as well as Avatar) film companies learned that you don’t need to remake/adapt a previous work to guarantee a hit.

1. (500) Days of Summer


The romantic comedy genre got its share of beatings over the past decade. Sure it got a few bones thrown to it in the shape of Love Actually, Eternal Sunshine and Garden State, but for the most part, romantic comedies were mediocre cliched romps. Especially this year where the romantic comedy went from mediocre (The Proposal) to bad (The Ugly Truth) to horrible (Bride Wars) to All About Steve. It seemed like the genre had its final nail in the coffin. Until this movie came along. However, while it’s a romantic boy meets girl story the film said it right in the beginning: “This is not a love story”. It’s a tale about fate and destiny; how it can shatter and rise again when you least expect it. It’s a story about how what one wants and what one gets can collide like a brutal car crash. It’s about how love, like everything else, is a cycle that grows, blossoms, withers, dies and becomes born again. All of these themes and the way the film presents them is what truly makes it a stand-out film. That and how often do you see a rom-com from a guys point of view? And how often are said guys not the stereotypical womanizer archetype? (500) Days truly is a relatable, realistic love story that feels real which ironically is rare in the genre. Which begs the question: between this, Slumdog, Wrestler, Juno, Little Miss Sunshine and Garden State, does Fox Searchlight EVER release something that isn’t brilliant?

Honorable Mentions:

Avatar

Paper Heart

Funny People

Whatever Works

Star Trek

The Hangover

Watchmen

Where the Wild Things Are

Orphan

 

Best Films of 2009 (so far and from what I’ve seen) August 21, 2009

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