Sunday, January 03, 2010


What DVDs did you watch last year? Ann's "2009 in DVDs" and Stan's"DVDs of 2009" (joint-post) offers their picks below:

Ann and Stan: Movies. In a sucking economy. That means for most people, you 'go to the movies' on the couch with a DVD rental or purchase. We use Redbox, Netflix, various independent rental stores and, in a pinch, Blockbuster -- though, on the last one, mainly to buy used DVDs cheap.

The two best DVD releases of 2009 are an action-adventure and a romantic comedy. We'll start with the action-adventure.

Terminator Salvation is a great film once you get past Christian Bale. His well reported tantrums on the set apparently left him too drained to work up emotions when the cameras were rolling. We actually can't think of a worse actor than Bale but McG's film is a pleasure ride.

Sam Worthington is amazing as a machine with human tissues who doesn't know he's a machine. In fact, he's got more emotions than the mechanical Bale and you might wish they'd flipped the roles. It could have used more of Moon Bloodgood who plays Blair and is amazing throughout but probably owns the scene at the end involving the big sacrifice.

To really appreciate it, you should watch it a few times so you can grasp just how much Worthington delivers in every scene. McG delivers as well but could have used a Drew Barrymore in the lead role because Bale really misfires as John Connor. (McG directed Drew in the Charlie's Angeles films.)

Like the action-adventure film, the romantic comedy manages to rip at your heart.


That's Sandra Bullock and 2009 was her year. She gave amazing performances but don't think that The Proposal was a lesser performance than her big football drama just because it was comedy. The Proposal was an amazing comedy with an amazing performance from Bullock.

And we think Ryan Reynolds may be the first co-star she's had chemistry with since Keanu Reeves. (Hugh Grant is entertaining but always self-amused. If she had chemistry with Benjamin Bratt, who could tell? The shock from that body scarring, self-mutliation the actor apparently does in real life -- revealed when he's in a shirtless scene -- pretty much nullifies any chemistry.)

This is a movie that has you laughing, that has you rooting and that really touches you. It's the biggest film so far of Sandra's career and if you don't understand why, it's only because you haven't seen it. And credit to Anne Fletcher who directed this wonderful comedy.

Meanwhile Nine just opened and is already being pulled. We didn't even know Nicole Kidman was in Nine until after we heard it was being pulled. We might have seen it just for Nicole. We'll see it on DVD but that goes to the biggest problem of 2009, bad advertising. They don't seem to know how to hook you with trailers. We had no idea, until we saw it on DVD, that we'd like Terminator Salvation. The trailer was a bunch of nonsense.

But, like most, we see movies in the bad economy via DVD rentals and one of the best things about Netflix (we're plugging but we're not getting anything for it -- not even a free rental!!!!) is that if it's on DVD, Netflix tends to have it. So you're not limited to this month's releases. You're not limited at all. So you can delve into film past and see the classics and also see the audience pleasers because, sometimes, the films that are 'good for you' aren't the most entertaining.

To round out our ten, here are eight films we enjoyed seeing on DVD this year.

1) Mildred Pierce. Joan Crawford won the Oscar for this one and deserved it. Amazing performance and amazing film.

2) Boy Did I Get A Wrong Number. A Bob Hope caper film with strong support from a hilarious Phyllis Diller whose best scene may be her washing or 'washing' the dishes.

3) A Place In The Sun. Elizabeth Taylor is still a beautiful woman and we honestly assumed she was always the best looking person in any of her films. Then we saw this. She's still beautiful but Montgomery Clift manages to outshine her. (In looks. In acting, she holds her own and remains one of the most underrated actresses.)

4) These Old Broads. We love Elizabeth Taylor. And we go through Netflix to find films featuring her. Ann: "I called Stan and asked, 'What's These Old Broads? Cedric and I are thinking of renting it." Stan: "And I had no idea either." It's a TV movie co-written by Carrie Fisher that we both missed in 2001. Jonathan Silverman delivers his best performance we've ever seen. He plays Shirley MacLaine's son and she's just magnificent. She's an actress teaming up with two former co-stars: Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins. Joan frequently steals the show. Debbie's given the thankless role of straight woman for most of the film (she and Joan do a great job singing "Get Happy" in a club) but she gets one really strong scene with a woman who stole her husband. Playing that part is Elizabeth Taylor. Carrie Fisher is the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. And Eddie Fisher left Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor (who left Eddie Fisher for Richard Burton). So that scene has a huge subtext. As wonderful as all the women are (Debbie's best moment other than her scene with Elizabeth is the sequence where Joan Collins' lover dies and they have to deal with the corpse), Elizabeth Taylor is just delightful as the three actresses' long time agent. She's got this hilarious voice and she's just wonderful and you wonder why more character roles aren't given to her. This is a woman who won not one but two Oscars.

5) Thoroughly Modern Millie. This film stars Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing. We love it. We love Millie (Andrews) and we love Miss Dorothy (Mary). We love the daring and the comedy and the way Judith pops up early in the film but we're not sure everyone catches that. It's a funny film. Is it a great one? If you measure great by pleasure provided, we'd say yes.

6) Ocean's 11. The original. Proving how much stronger the earlier version was. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Angie Dickinson and Shirley MacLaine are among the stars in this film. And it's got a ton more tension than the remake. If you enjoyed Clooney's film, see the original. It's like watching a high school production of Grease (Clooney) and then seeing the actual film (the original).

7) Dark Victory. Betty recommended this Bette Davis film to us early in the year. We'd seen many Bette Davis films and always enjoyed them but we'd never seen this one. Bette plays a wealthy socialite who has everything you could ever want and learns she's dying. It's a tear jerker and they really don't make those anymore. This is an amazing film.

8) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Amazing comedic film starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell as two best friends. Famous for Marilyn's performance of "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" (which Russell also performs when she pretends to be Marilyn). If there's anything more wonderful than watching the film, it's picturing a remake. We like to picture Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in the roles of the gold digger and her best friend and would love to see Ben sing "Ain't There Anyone Here For Love?"
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