Sunday, January 31, 2010

Up in the Air

UP IN THE AIR (Jason Reitman, 2009)

In UP IN THE AIR George Clooney's Ryan Bingham is one of the guys companies call in when they're going to fire many employees but don't want to handle the delicate process internally. Ryan's job is to transition people from their stable existences to uncertain futures, which he promises them is an opportunity to springboard to better times. Is that true? Does he mean it? It doesn't matter. His purpose is to break the news, not to break their falls after he's left town.

Although his employer is based out of Omaha, Ryan's home is flying the friendly skies and sleeping in whatever nice hotel his expense report provides for. The single, perpetually traveling Ryan has virtually no commitments, and that's how he likes it.

When ambitious up-and-comer Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) convinces Ryan's boss that they could be more efficient and save enormous amounts of money by conducting firings remotely over webcam chats, Ryan finds his way of life threatened. He is charged with showing Natalie how things work in the field but with the understanding that this is the last time he'll be hitting the road.

With THANK YOU FOR SMOKING and JUNO, writer-director Jason Reitman demonstrated an ability to craft solid films anchored by compelling performances. Reitman isn't a director who relies on flashy technique. Rather, he's a skilled storyteller with a knack for entertaining. He's done it again with UP IN THE AIR, his best film to date.

The film has been lauded for being very of the moment in its treatment of massive corporate layoffs, but where it truly shines--and what will give it more staying power through the years--is how it details the importance of a personal touch. Dismissal by internet teleconference or a relationship break-up via text message may be more efficient and easier on those severing ties, but such methods deny the humanity of those being cut off.

Clooney's character may be delivering harsh news and telling a beautiful lie about what awaits on the other side of losing a job, but simply being in the same room and treating each person as an individual, even when following a template, gives them dignity.

UP IN THE AIR features a heartbreaking scene in which Natalie tests the technology to can a man sitting in the next room. The difference in empathy provided in a serious face-to-face encounter versus this chilly axing is palpable. While this may appear to be a fine line of etiquette that society is still defining, it's one that merits genuine consideration.

In retrospect it's somewhat astonishing how appealing Clooney is as an unlikable character in UP IN THE AIR. Ryan Bingham values a life unattached to any people or place and selfishly guards what he withdraws from others so effortlessly. Before this lone wolf awakens to the reality of the life he has built and becomes more sympathetic, Clooney turns on the old Hollywood charm that makes the character so effective and him one of the most persuasive actors currently working.

Although Kendrick's character looks to implement the cold technological solution, she serves as the film's conscience. Full of unbridled energy and youthful naїveté, Kendrick's performance unlocks the central question of how to live. As Clooney's lover and female reflection, Vera Farmiga brings a sense of accepted resignation to the choices she's made. Despite the sad heart beating underneath UP IN THE AIR, it's a funny and ultimately warm film.

Grade: B+

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Messenger

THE MESSENGER (Oren Moverman, 2009)

In THE MESSENGER Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) returns home from Iraq as a wounded but recovering war hero. To complete his remaining service time Will is assigned to the casualty notification team and placed under the command of Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson). Together they are the bearers of bad news that must be delivered in a timely manner to killed soldiers' next of kin.

Tony approaches the work as a high risk military mission. Park up the street so as not to tip off those they're visiting. Do not go off script. Do not touch or console the next of kin. Get in, deliver the message, get out. The casualty assistance team is for dealing with the family members in a personal manner, not them.

Three years sober and thrice divorced, Tony is a hardened man performing a hard job. Will also has his share of emotional injuries that keep him up at night, most notably his frustration with former girlfriend Kelly (Jena Malone). Although she may travel to welcome him home with a conjugal visit, she mostly seems to be moving on with someone else.

Will shows he may be willing to get on with his life when he takes an interest in Olivia (Samantha Morton), a mother who has an unusual reaction to being told her husband is dead, but such a relationship is fraught with complications, not the least of which comes from Tony's sharp disapproval.

THE MESSENGER opens promisingly as we observe two emotionally damaged men do the delicate work that no one wants to do, least of all those soldiers who have served in combat and survived. Their mere presence reminds the next of kin that their loved ones were not as fortunate. Family members try to keep Will and Tony from even saying the words, as though what happened isn't real or true unless verbalized. These painful scenes are not new to war movies, but THE MESSENGER sees them from the unconsidered perspective of those giving, rather than receiving, the news.

Foster and Harrelson are uniformly good at conveying the torment these Army men have internalized and accept as their crosses to bear. Harrelson virtually manages to clench his entire body, even when he's supposedly letting down his guard. Foster burns with a quiet intensity that makes the intention of his actions all the more inscrutable.

THE MESSENGER examines the challenges of being on the casualty notification team, especially now as they must race against the instant spread of information, but eventually it stops seeing the men and just the job. THE MESSENGER grinds to a stop when it becomes clear that Oren Moverman, who directed and co-wrote the screenplay, isn't leading the plot anywhere but toward a pat message about the price of war on the military and unenlisted.

Instead of telling one or both of these characters' stories or illuminating their crises, THE MESSENGER falls into a repetitive pattern of witnessing aggrieved reactions to the awful news and the messengers' struggles to cope. Casualty statistics don't account for the scars war leaves on everyone touched by it, yet THE MESSENGER'S clipped insight that war is hell is just the sort of line straight from the manual that the film strenuously cautions against.

Grade: C+

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Book of Eli

THE BOOK OF ELI (Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes, 2010)

In the futuristic parable THE BOOK OF ELI Denzel Washington's title character appears to be one of the last righteous men remaining thirty-one years after the apocalypse. Food and water are scarce. Small luxuries, such as wetnaps and shampoo, have high trade value. This lone wanderer travels under what seems to be divine protection as he continues across the desolate landscape on a long, slow journey west.

Among Eli's few possessions is a latched, leather-bound Bible that he wraps in a cloth and is willing to guard at all costs. To his knowledge, he may possess the last copy of the Good Book and is looking to deliver it to those he deems worthy.

Eli's path leads him into the town ruled by Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who has his men ceaselessly searching for a Bible. Carnegie wishes to use the religious text as a weapon for controlling the town's population and taking over other communities. When he learns that Eli may have a Bible, he stops at nothing to obtain it.

Drawing upon the tradition of post-apocalyptic films, directors Albert and Allen Hughes don't deliver much in the way of novelty or surprises in THE BOOK OF ELI. The brothers use familiar cinematic language to strive for and achieve a mytho-poetic vision of a future in desperate need of a savior. Conjuring images of the Wild West via the Old Testament, the directors and cinematographer Don Burgess find stark beauty in the American wasteland's dusty, bleached landscape and blown out sky.

Remarkably little happens in THE BOOK OF ELI, but the Hughes brothers inflate and sustain the tone so that the confrontation feels like nothing less than the battle for humanity's salvation is at stake. Armed with charisma, Washington gives Eli the purpose and certainty of a prophet. It's the kind of resolute performance expected of the charismatic star, and he does not disappoint. Despite an unimposing stature, Oldman's oily antagonist derives power and intimidation through his capacity for wicked intelligence.

As a testament to the importance of the written word in its lowercase and uppercase meanings, THE BOOK OF ELI makes for an odd but compelling action film in defense of literacy and Christian faith. Both can be distorted and employed for nefarious reasons, but when utilized properly, they have the ability to inspire and elevate.

Grade: B

(Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Worst Films of 2009

Bad films? I've seen a few. Out of everything I saw in 2009, the following list represents the films that lie at or below approximately the fifth percentile. Tread carefully.

1. NEXT DAY AIR (Benny Boom, 2009)

Benny Boom's extraordinarily tedious crime comedy NEXT DAY AIR doesn't even reach the benchmark of a cut-rate Guy Ritchie movie. There's not much to this story of improperly delivered drugs and the violent, supposedly hilarious hijinks that result. The shifts between stoner comedy and blood-spattered action are difficult to reconcile, particularly in the grim finale.

2. MISS MARCH (Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore, 2009)

It isn't news that movies are often generated as product rather than art, but even by the lowest of standards MISS MARCH is a pathetic example of a film as corporate brand extender. In the sex comedy a high school square on the verge of losing his virginity awakens years later from a coma to find his former classmate and dream girl is a Playboy centerfold. MISS MARCH is a comedic dead zone, which is bad enough. Worse yet, it exists as little more than a feature-length pitch for Playboy's brand of softcore erotica and lifestyle aspirations.

3. SURVEILLANCE (Jennifer Lynch, 2008)

Even if there were no blood connection between SURVEILLANCE writer-director Jennifer Lynch and her father David Lynch, the film would play like a pale imitation of her parent's work. The comparisons are hard to avoid when the younger Lynch evokes the same hyperreal atmosphere and tone, uses similar stylistic flourishes in sound design and visual strategies, and casts actors familiar from her father's films. Although SURVEILLANCE is gory and transgressive, which would presumably maintain marginal levels of interest, it's boring to a fault.

4. OLD DOGS (Walt Becker, 2009)

The old dogs of the title may refer to the not quite senior citizen leads, but it's a more apt description of the shopworn and laughless jokes occupying this woofer of a comedy. The threadbare screenplay is stitched together from the worst and most clichéd ideas to emerge from--and should be discarded during--a brainstorming session. OLD DOGS' embarrassingly broad performances, including but not limited to Robin Williams and John Travolta, contain more ham than a grocery's meat department at Easter. It's one thing to make an attempt and not succeed, but OLD DOGS doesn't muster genuine enthusiasm to give its best shot. OLD DOGS needed to be put down before a frame was shot, especially when letting it linger on and become this product is thoroughly humiliating for everyone involved.

5. Horror schlock: THE COLLECTOR (Marcus Dunstan, 2009), THE FINAL DESTINATION (David R. Ellis, 2009), FRIDAY THE 13TH (Marcus Nispel, 2009), HALLOWEEN II (Rob Zombie, 2009)

Deficiencies in storytelling and formulaic execution plague any number of horror films, especially the seemingly endless stream of sequels and franchise reboots. The first FRIDAY THE 13TH is not a masterwork by any stretch of the imagination, but the 2009 edition completely lacks one thing the 1980 film had going for it: the element of surprise. This version tries to drum up scares through cranked up noises on the soundtrack but rarely utilizes the hockey-masked killer's presence in such unexpected ways. HALLOWEEN II continues Rob Zombie's defiling of a franchise already with its share of low points. THE FINAL DESTINATION is essentially scraps and rehashes of the first three films with the waning novelty of 3-D. Although THE COLLECTOR isn't based on preexisting films, its paucity of plot--the entirety is practically all first act--hardly qualifies it for being called original. Perhaps the biggest problem with all of these horror films is a simple one: they aren't scary.

6. AMELIA (Mira Nair, 2009)

AMELIA fails on almost every level, but at least star Hilary Swank resembles Amelia Earhart. OK, the production design is nice too. An unflattering portrait of the famous aviator intended as tribute, AMELIA is a prime example of the biographical film as a wiki movie and all the negative connotations that brings. The superficial journey skips through history as a series of bullet points. Although the film takes a potentially interesting angle on Earhart as something of a public relations creation, it winds up getting bogged down in a romance whose complexity is also underdeveloped. Of all the films among my worsts of the year, this is the biggest missed opportunity, especially since AMELIA has the seeds of being a far more fascinating film than it is.

7. ALL ABOUT STEVE (Phil Traill, 2009)

Sandra Bullock's tireless, stalker-like behavior as the main character in ALL ABOUT STEVE suggests that it ought to be a horror film rather than the dreadfully unfunny romantic comedy and anti-mass media screed it is. The inability of Bullock's Mary to decode social cues and her ceaseless cheer are intended as cute quirks, as though she's an innocent venturing into the world for the first time. Bullock plays Mary as a sweet savant with no concept of how demented she is. Twinkly tics and all, Bullock's performance is an irritating one, to say the least. It's as if Poppy, the optimistic main character of HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, wandered into this movie and lost all self-awareness.

8. I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER (Chris Columbus, 2009)

I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER hopes to combine the sweet underpinnings of '80s John Hughes comedies and SUPERBAD'S zany and provocative ways, but the resulting mess is a film with unlikable characters in a go-nowhere storyline. The ugly and unfunny teen romp leaves me wondering if anyone involved with the production ever was or has ever known adolescents. I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER plays like a hysterical response to lurid news reports of sexting and the like than an emotionally genuine portrayal of teenage hopes and fears.

9. NEW IN TOWN (Jonas Elmer, 2009)

Ditzy city slicker Renée Zellweger gets a tedious education in small town virtues in NEW IN TOWN. Hollywood (and politicians) favor the traditional depiction of tiny communities as pristine oases of enlightenment even if the tired idea is not necessarily true. The hoary trope is doubly worse in its employment in NEW IN TOWN. The doltish portrayal of the folksy Minnesota population, who represent the bootstrapping Midwest in general, would be insulting if the brainless romantic comedy weren't so dopey.

10. DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION (James Wong, 2009)

The shoddy DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION is no different or bigger than the sort of junk kids plop down to watch on TV after school. This live action version of the manga/anime DRAGONBALL universe is too bland and convoluted for new viewers to recognize what all the fuss is about and, I suspect, too simplified and disrespectful of the source material for the fan base. The basic story is as old as time, so this sturdy construct needs compelling heroes and villains to distinguish itself from others of this ilk. The characters don't evolve but merely complete tasks on a to-do list. The cheap effects and bargain backlot action wouldn't have wowed anyone twenty years ago, let alone today, proving that going from animation to live action isn't an advancement for DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION.

Monday, January 11, 2010

8th annual Central Ohio Film Critics Association awards

Spreading the news:
Up in the Air soars to top prize, Basterds claim four in 8th annual Central Ohio Film Critics Association awards

(Columbus, January 7, 2010) Jason Reitman's Up in the Air was named Best Film in the Central Ohio Film Critics Association’s 8th annual awards, which recognize excellence in the film industry for 2009. The film also won three other awards, including Best Director (Reitman), Best Adapted Screenplay (Reitman and Sheldon Turner), and Best Actor (George Clooney). Clooney was also honored as Actor of the Year for his exemplary work in Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Men Who Stare at Goats, and Up in the Air.

Inglourious Basterds, which finished fifth on the Best Film list, was also awarded four prizes: Best Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz), Best Ensemble, Best Original Screenplay (Quentin Tarantino), and Best Cinematography (Robert Richardson).

Up in the Air and Inglourious Basterds’ four wins match No Country for Old Men’s tally in 2007 for the most awards given to an individual film in the eight years the Columbus-area critics organization has been in existence.

Other films winning multiple awards include Up and An Education. Best Film runner-up Up received awards for Best Score (Michael Giacchino) and Best Animated Film. An Education’s lead performer Carey Mulligan won Best Actress and Breakthrough Film Artist for the coming-of-age film, which placed third on the Best Films List.

Other individual winners include Best Supporting Actress Mo’Nique in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.

Other honored films include: Anvil! The Story of Anvil for Best Documentary; Waltz with Bashir (Valz Im Bashir) for Best Foreign Language Film; and Goodbye Solo for Best Overlooked Film.

Founded in 2002, the Central Ohio Film Critics Association is comprised of film critics based in Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding areas. Its membership consists of more than 20 print, radio, television, and new media critics. COFCA's official website at contains links to member reviews and past award winners.

Winners were announced at a private party on January 7.

Complete list of awards:

Best Films
1. Up in the Air
2. Up
3. An Education
4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
5. Inglourious Basterds
6. The Hurt Locker
7. In the Loop
8. (500) Days of Summer
9. A Serious Man
10. A Single Man

Best Director
-Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
-Runner-up: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Best Actor
-George Clooney, Up in the Air
-Runner-up: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Best Actress
-Carey Mulligan, An Education
-Runner-up: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Antichrist

Best Supporting Actor
-Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
-Runner-up: Peter Capaldi, In the Loop

Best Supporting Actress
-Mo’Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
-Runner-up: Mélanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds

Best Ensemble
-Inglourious Basterds
-Runner-up: Up in the Air

Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work)
-George Clooney, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Men Who Stare at Goats, and Up in the Air
-Runner-up: Woody Harrelson, The Messenger and Zombieland

Breakthrough Film Artist
-Carey Mulligan, An Education (for acting)
-Runner-up: Neill Blomkamp, District 9 (for directing and screenwriting)

Best Cinematography
-Robert Richardson, Inglourious Basterds
-Runner-up: Anthony Dod Mantle, Antichrist

Best Adapted Screenplay
-Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
-Runner-up: Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, Fantastic Mr. Fox

Best Original Screenplay
-Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
-Runner-up: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, Up

Best Score
-Michael Giacchino, Up
-Runner-up: Carter Burwell and Karen O., Where the Wild Things Are

Best Documentary
-Anvil! The Story of Anvil
-Runner-up: The Cove

Best Foreign Language Film
-Waltz with Bashir (Vals Im Bashir)
-Runner-up: Summer Hours (L’heure d’été)

Best Animated Film
-Runner-up: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Best Overlooked Film
-Goodbye Solo
-Runner-up: Moon

COFCA offers its congratulations to the winners.

Previous Best Film winners:

2002: Punch-Drunk Love
2003: Lost in Translation
2004: Million Dollar Baby
2005: A History of Violence
2006: Children of Men
2007: No Country for Old Men
2008: WALL•E

Friday, January 08, 2010

Leap Year

LEAP YEAR (Anand Tucker, 2010)

Amy Adams tries to get the ultimate commitment from her longtime boyfriend in the romantic comedy LEAP YEAR. As hyper-organized Anna Brady, Adams gets her hopes up that her cardiologist boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) will finally propose, but rather than getting an engagement ring, the tiny box he gives her contains just earrings.

Soon after Jeremy departs for a work conference in Dublin, Ireland. Luckily for Anna, the Irish have a tradition that reverses commonly accepted gender roles. On February 29, women can ask the men they love to marry them. There's even precedent for a woman in her own family to propose to a man in such a fashion.

Impetuously Anna takes off for the Emerald Isle with plans to ask Jeremy to be her husband, but the weather interferes with reaching her destination. Anna only gets to the small town of Dingle. There she meets Declan (Matthew Goode), a young, grouchy inn owner who agrees to drive her to Dublin for a princely sum. While neither intend for the arrangement to lead to anything beyond a business agreement, their bumpy Irish adventure draws them closer than either expects.

Although LEAP YEAR is contrived like mad, its mechanisms for putting love in motion are a little less artificially manufactured than what comes as standard equipment in most romantic comedies. The characters are bound in outlandish circumstances, but at least writers Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont attempt to make the set-ups seem organic according to movie logic. Nevertheless, the screenwriters paint themselves into a corner and concoct a badly flubbed ending that brings matters to a conventionally satisfactory conclusion but wholly unbelievable one.

Yet the charming performances of and chemistry between Adams and Goode help LEAP YEAR overcome all the forced narrative devices and blarney about whimsical Irish townsfolk and their customs. Adams exudes pluck and cheerful sincerity, and it's often funny to see her enthusiasm rub against the scruffy Goode's negative outlook. The tension between the characters is well-earned, and the understanding and affection that grows between them seems like a natural, if quick, offshoot of their time together.

For all their squabbling, there's a mutual respect underlining this relationship borne from necessity. Plus, as far as romantic comedies are concerned, if two people can disagree with the kind of electricity surging between Adams and Goode, they're destined for each other. LEAP YEAR is not constructed from the finest materials, but its two appealing lead actors make the most with what they're given to provide a sweet, breezy escape.

Grade: B-

Friday, January 01, 2010

2010 Film List

Ye olde blog has seen quite a bit of erosion due to the need for the transition and expansion of text written for television to the web. A new year marks a time for starting over, so perhaps the regular updating of my 2010 film list will pave the way for more attention given to this site.

This year I am going to experiment with film evaluations on the 100 point scale. Grades will remain my official ratings. The numerical values will just be additional flavoring. (The numerically ranked list can be found here.)

Last update: March 18, 2010

2010 Releases

1. Leap Year (Anand Tucker, 2010) B-/60, (1/5/10, 35mm)

2. Youth in Revolt (Miguel Arteta, 2009) B-/61, (1/8/10, 35mm)

3. Daybreakers (Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig, 2009) B/66, (1/9/10, 35mm)

4. The Book of Eli (Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes, 2010) B/68, (1/14/10, 35mm)

5. The Spy Next Door (Brian Levant, 2010) D+/38, (1/15/10, 35mm)

6. Extraordinary Measures (Tom Vaughan, 2010) C-/45, (1/19/10, 35mm)

7. Legion (Scott Stewart, 2010) D/28, (1/23/10, 35mm)

8. Tooth Fairy (Michael Lembeck, 2010) C-/42, (1/24/10, 35mm)

9. When in Rome (Mark Steven Johnson, 2010) B-/63 (previously B-/60), (1/29/10, 35mm), (2/7/10, 35mm)

10. Edge of Darkness (Martin Campbell, 2010) C/49, (1/30/10, 35mm)

11. From Paris with Love (Pierre Morel, 2010) C/47, (2/5/10, 35mm)

12. Dear John (Lasse Hallstrom, 2010) C+/59, (2/5/10, 35mm)

13. Valentine's Day (Garry Marshall, 2010) D+/36, (2/12/10, 35mm)

14. The Wolfman (Joe Johnston, 2010) C-/45 (2/12/10, 35mm)

15. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (Chris Columbus, 2010) C+/58, (2/13/10, 35mm)

16. The Oscar Nominated Shorts 2010 - Animated (Various, 2010) B+/76, (2/19/10, projected DVD)

17. Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese, 2010) B+/78, (2/19/10, 35mm)

18. The Crazies (Breck Eisner, 2010) C+/59, (2/26/10, 35mm)

19. Frozen (Adam Green, 2010) C/50, (2/27/10, 35mm)

20. Cop Out (Kevin Smith, 2010) C-/41, (2/27/10, 35mm)

21. Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton, 2010) C/49, (3/2/10, 35mm 3-D)

22. Brooklyn's Finest (Antoine Fuqua, 2009) C/46, (3/5/10, 35mm)

23. Green Zone (Paul Greengrass, 2010) B-/63, (3/12/10, 35mm)

24. The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski, 2010) B+/74, (3/12/10, 35mm)

25. Remember Me (Allen Coulter, 2010) D+/34, (3/13/10, 35mm)

26. She's Out of My League (Jim Field Smith, 2010) B-/61, (3/14/10, 35mm)

Older Films

1. The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh, 2009) B/69, (1/1/10, DVD)

2. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009) A/90 (previously B+), (1/1/10, Blu-ray) (2nd viewing)

3. Police, Adjective (Politist, adj.) (Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009) B-/65, (1/2/10, DVD)

4. Still Walking (Aruitemo aruitemo) (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2008) A/93, (1/3/10, Netflix stream), (2/5/10, 35mm)

5. The Young Victoria (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2009) C/46, (1/3/10, DVD)

6. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Terry Gilliam, 2009) C+/58, (1/8/10, 35mm)

7. The Horse Boy (Michel O. Scott, 2009) B-/60, (1/8/10, 35mm)

8. 3 Idiots (Rajkumar Hirani, 2009), B/66, (1/10/10, 35mm)

9. My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (Werner Herzog, 2009) B+/73, (1/15/10, 35mm)

10. Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos) (Pedro Almodóvar, 2009) B/66, (1/15/10, 35mm)

11. The Messenger (Oren Moverman, 2009) C+/56, (1/18/10, DVD)

12. Séraphine (Martin Provost, 2008) B-/63, (1/22/10, 35mm)

13. Red Cliff (Chi bi) (U.S. cut) (John Woo, 2008) B-/61, (1/22/10, 35mm)

14. The Maid (La nana) (Sébastian Silva, 2009) C/48, (1/29/10, 35mm)

15. Crazy Heart (Scott Cooper, 2009) B/68, (2/1/10, DVD)

16. Big Fan (Robert Siegel, 2009) B-/62, (2/1/10, DVD) (2nd viewing)

17. A Town Called Panic (Panic au village) (Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, 2009) B/71, (2/12/10, 35mm)

18. The Sun (Solntse) (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2005) B+/74, (2/12/10, 35mm)

19. Homicide (David Mamet, 1991) B+/75, (2/18/10, DVD)

20. Ricky (François Ozon, 2009) B-/60, (2/26/10, 35mm)

21. Strongman (Zachary Levy, 2009) B-/60, (2/28/10, DVD)

22. The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith, 2009) B+/73, (3/5/10, 35mm)

23. Face/Off (John Woo, 1997) B/70 (previously A-), (3/5/10, Blu-ray)

24. The Last Station (Michael Hoffman, 2009) C-/42, (3/6/10, 35mm)

25. Plastic Bag (Ramin Bahrani, 2009) (short film) A/90, (3/10/10, streaming video)

26. The Thief of Baghdad (Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, and Tim Whelan, 1940) B+/76, (3/13/10, DVD)