Movies from other years that I watched this year

500 Days of Summer – Like When Harry Met Sally, this was a very entertaining movie about a kind of relationship that’s very real, and I remember it often.

A Serious Man – A triumph of setting. Whether you like black comedy or not, 1960s Jewish America is fascinating.

Avatar – It was about as 3-star as a movie can get but a common cultural experience for the global bourgeois.

Crank: High Voltage – Bumped into this on a hotel TV. It was creative, hyperactive, and entertaining. Deliberately offensive, too, but a byproduct of its energy.

Don – I watched this 1978 Amitabh Bachchan action blockbuster on a Kingfisher flight. Here’s one of the song and dance numbers! It was cool, and I recommend everyone watch some of Bachchan’s acting.

The Goonies – Just classic. I’m amazed I never saw this on a school bus, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult on a plane.

The Hangover – Great writing! Those were the first words out of your mouth after this one, too, right? Plus we don’t have to make any more Vegas films…besides the sequel, I guess.

I Love You, Man – A festival of bad slang and another entertaining Judd Apatow film. It’s great to see Karen from The Office find a guy who really appreciates her.

In Bruges – Totally film-school. You can tell the people who made it loved The Third Man.

The Lost Boys – We watched this in memorial of Corey Haim. Vampire Jack Bauer and Vampire Hunter Corey Feldman made this movie fun. It also had the verve to save its best joke for the last line.

Nanny McPhee – It was interesting to watch this from a teacher’s perspective. Children need discipline, but they also need attention and encouragement.

Paper Heart – The top piece of Trivia on Michael Cera’s IMDB profile is that he broke up with girlfriend Charlyne Yi after three years of dating. Did you know the relationship of these two intentionally awkward people was memorialized in a movie?

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea – To be honest with you, I thought the love story between 5-year olds was a little weird, but the marine aesthetic was very original.

The Puppetmaster (戲夢人生) – There wasn’t as much traditional Chinese puppetry as I expected because the focus is on life under Japanese occupation for the ordinary people of Taiwan. The purpose of the movie is understanding more than entertainment, but if you’re interested, you’ll be satisfied.

Red Cliff (赤壁) – The biggest-budget movie in Chinese history, an international blockbuster, and an excellent introduction to Romance of the Three Kingdoms and classical Chinese culture. I watched this movie with my parents and used it to explain everything from the zither to tea ceremonies.

Slumdog Millionaire – I watched this on my flight to India. “Paper Planes” was stuck in my head the rest of the trip. My friend once said “giving Slumdog Millionare Best Picture is like giving P.F. Chang’s Best Chinese Restaurant,” but Holly/Bollywoodness aside, the greatest quality of this movie was capturing the pace and the color of India. We’re living in the drab half of the world.

Summer Palace (頤和園)– This film about young Chinese was banned in the PRC for showing two things: the Tiananmen Square protests and a lot of sex. It’s a long film about an unhappy woman that still has its own flawed beauty.

Twilight – I liked it much better than the book because there was so much less catty internal monologue, and the blue filter was all that was needed to set the mood. Too bad they couldn’t print the text for the books in navy blue, too.

Up – There are a million things to like about this wonderful movie, and you’ve heard them all before, so I’ll just praise the dogs’ dialogue once more. That is verisimilitude, my friends.

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