Quick paragraphs of the movies I’ve seen up until today this year in theaters (not including Creation (full review coming) and No Impact Man (view on On Demand)).  Note: all but Youth in Revolt are 2009 releases.

1. A Single Man – starring Colin Firth as a closeted homosexual in 1962.  The movie follows a day of his life, eight months after he lost his partner to a car accident that he still can’t get over.  The movie itself meanders a lot, focusing on random, specific details of the main character, but Firth is subtly brilliant in the role, and Julianne Moore as his life long friend is also a treat.  Solid directorial debut from Tom Ford: B.

2. Sherlock Holmes – Guy Ritchie directed film starring Robert Downey Jr. and Holmes and Jude Law as his trusty side kick Watson.  Definitely a Ritchie film (between the punchy dialogue, the adventurous action sequences and the occasional dull side trips along the way), but exciting and well made, and demands more than one viewing to follow all of the little pieces that set up the grand finale.  Downey makes Holmes his own: B.

3. Broken Embraces – a Spanish neo-noir about a blind screenwriter/director who recounts a tale of intrigue, lust, love, and power, and how he ended up becoming blind in the first place.  Beautifully shot, and Penelope Cruz almost seems eternally young.  The latest from director Aldomovar: B+.

4. The Lovely Bones – based off the best selling novel, a young girl gets killed, sent to the in between world, and discovers a new life there while her parents grieve back on earth and the killer (masterfully portrayed by Stanley Tucci) plots his next kill.  This sounds good (and, in fact, is perfectly decent for the first 30 minutes or so), but goes completely off the rails once Suzie dies, and only goes down hill from there, with a climax so completely absurd you have to watch it to believe it.  Not good at all: C-

5. Youth in Revolt – Michael Cera as a high school teen (how many times now?) who falls in love but, in order to get back with the girl, needs to do bad.  Enter Francois Dillinger, his rule breaking alter ego.  Highly amusing at times, and it’s a pleasure to see Cera demolish his usual typecasting: B.

6. The Young Victoria – a biopic about the early reign of Queen Victoria, the long serving monarch in British history.  Emily Blunt is quite good as the young queen, who ends up both too brash and in over her head once she settles in as queen.  Good performances all around, with some excellent costume designs: A-.

7. A Town Called Panic – a madcap animated adventure, starring Cowboy, Indian, and Horse as themselves in one hilarious misadventure after another.  The movie has an episodic flow to it as it goes from one disastrous occurrence to the next, but the movie keeps getting sillier as it goes along, and some of the jokes and sight gags are laugh out loud funny.  A treat: B+

8. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – a strange little film, with Christopher Plummer as the eponymous Doctor Parnassus, and also having Heath Ledger in his final role.  Great support from Depp, Law, and Farrell as well.  I don’t get Gilliam though.  The movie is fine for what it is, at least when it’s set in reality, but once it goes off world, anything goes, and nothing makes sense.  At least the visuals are nice, which is what you’re really paying for anyway, right? B-

9. The White Ribbon – Michael Haneke’s latest complexity, set in a German town the year before the Great War broke out, with many strange occurrences happening.  Easily one of the best shot films in recent memory (the black and white conversion from color, the 30-60 second average single shot, the landscape, etc.), but also one of the most mind numbing as well.  A thriller/whodunnit of sorts, with everything and nothing happening all at once.  This will require more than one viewing to try and unlock whatever mystery is in there.  As a movie itself, brilliant.  Anything else after that?  Who knows: B+

10. The Blind Side – the surprise box office hit of 2009 (yes, it really is, at least to me), with Sandra Bullock as a… what is she exactly?  Anyway, Sandra Bullock is quite good and well deserving of the praise she’s receiving as a woman who adopts a homeless and lost giant of the teenager, gets him back on his feet, and learns a thing or two in the process about life.  Your typical inspirational movie, but a well done inspirational movie.  Good enough to see and feel good about: B.

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