Sunday, December 27, 2009


My year-end (as opposed to rear-end) countdown of the best movies from this past year. Of course, I haven't seen EVERY flick that came out in 2009, and neither have you. And neither has anyone else who reviews movies for fun or profit. But of those I was compelled to see, these are the ones that didn't disappoint. Technically speaking, some of these films were actually released in the waning days of 2008--but like many other moviegoers, I didn't catch them until the new year had arrived--so for that reason, I hereby declare: CLOSE ENOUGH !

Opinions on movies--like opinions on anything--are subjective to each of us, based upon personal tastes, which are based to a large extent on our individual life experience. Still, if you want to argue with me because you think I've made a glaring omission--or went ga-ga for something that really sucked--feel free to do so. But just keep in mind that... YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT !

You can read the full reviews of each of these movies if you care to dig back into the archives of Timmy's Noodle. And so, with no further doo-doo...

Dark comedy starring Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin. As funny as a movie about cleaning up after suicides can be. The best films are the ones that make you alternately (or simultaneously) laugh and cry. Sunshine Cleaning gets the job done.

Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley. Struggle for survival on the Beijing to Moscow train in this engaging, relatively overlooked mystery/thriller. Intriguing plot twists and majestic aerial cinematography. Mesmerizing.

Christian Bale, Moon Bloodgood, Sam Worthington. Sci-fi action/adventure. A thrill ride of immense creative genius--if there were ever a prudent reason for strapping moviegoers into their seats, this is it. HANG ON !

Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey. She's an obese, 16 year old Harlem native who is pregnant with her second child by her own father. Gritty, gut-wrenching drama which tells the story of how the human spirit will fight to survive, despite overwhelming odds against it.

Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow are kindred space cases in this quirky romantic drama. An engrossing character study of some of the growing functional dysfunctional in our society of the 21st century.

Expected another run-of-the-mill romantic comedy from Sandra Bullock, (with Ryan Reynolds as her leading man) but got a real surprise. This is a beautiful film, not only cinematically, but in spirit as well. And it's genuinely funny.

Sci-fi drama starring Sharito Copley and cat food gobbling aliens! You never thought you'd care so much about them until you realize they symbolize all of the oppressed people of the world. Belongs with the epic tales of how fate sometimes turns ordinary men into heroes.

Tripped out coming of age docudrama based on the memoirs of Eliot Tiber, who was instrumental in bringing the Woodstock festival to fruition. Ubiquitous pot smoking, mud sliding, some great music of the era, and an engaging behind the scenes story to be told. And naked hippies...YAY !

A self-obsessed man (Philip Seymour Hoffman) builds a replica of New York City inside a gigantic warehouse in Manhattan, populates it with a multitude of actors, and creates an ongoing and all-consuming performance piece about his own life. Reality and magic realism intertwine. With Samantha Morton. Brilliant.

And (drum roll please) Timmy's FAVORITE film of 2009...

Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin. A funny, clever, inventive piece of film making that shows just because the drooling, snarling, disgusting un-dead are lurking behind every public crapper stall door--it doesn't mean a zombie flick can't also be poignant and life-affirming as well. With a deliciously off the wall surprise cameo by one of the biggest superstars of comedy.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) escapes into a fantasy world where she leads a glamorous life. The fantasy helps her deal with the harsh reality of her existence. She's an obese, 16 year-old Harlem native--pregnant with her second child by her own father. And she lives with Mary, (Mo'Nique) the mother from hell. In Precious, the mother-daughter scenes are gut-wrenching and difficult to watch. Precious suffers physical and emotional abuse at the hands of "dear old mom," a being with no shred of human warmth, compassion, or conscience. Her only motivation in life is to manipulate the system and keep her welfare checks coming. That she is portrayed so convincingly in this light is a testament to the acting talent of comedian Mo'Nique, playing against type. If she doesn't get an Oscar nomination for her performance, you can slap my ass and call me Nancy.

Though she's basically illiterate, Precious has an aptitude for math--and so her Junior High principal is able to get her placed into an alternative school where, despite strong resistance from mom--who just wants her to "get her ass" down to the welfare office--she has an opportunity to develop the potential that has heretofore remained hidden. But there will be more devastating news and more challenges ahead for Precious, as she struggles to escape the bonds of despair and degradation she was born into.

Precious is poised to receive multiple Academy Award nominations, both for individual presentations and, most likely, for Best Picture as well. Strong performances are turned in from from Gabourey Sidibe--who had no previous acting experience; Paula Patton as Ms. Rain, the teacher who takes Precious under her wing; and Mariah Carey, as a welfare case officer. Carey's appearance is toned down to the point where you may not recognize her at first. I didn't.
Personally, I'd love to see Patton get some recognition for this, as her sincerity shines through in every moment she's on screen. There's also a nice ensemble cast of insolent, trash-talking teenage chicks who play off of Precious at her new school. All this and Lenny Kravitz as a male nurse !

Produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, and directed by Lee Daniels, Precious is the story of how the human spirit will fight to survive despite overwhelming odds against it. Not to be missed.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Retiree Frank Goode (Robert DeNiro) never set his sights any higher than being a husband and father to his four kids, and working at his factory job coating telephone wire in PVC. Mile upon endless mile of phone wire. In Everybody's Fine, the wire is a metaphor for communication--which is somewhat lacking with his four adult children after the demise of their mother. She was always the one the kids--strung out across the country--seemed to confide in whenever they would call home.

Frank was an overbearing dad, especially with his artist son, David. "Make me proud," Frank would say. And perhaps because of their father's expectations, the other three kids--advertising exec Amy (Kate Beckinsale) ; musician Robert (Sam Rockwell) ; and dancer Rosie, (Drew Barrymore) have embellished their accomplishments. None of them are quite what they've made themselves out to be. When dad plans a big family reunion at his Connecticut home--and each of the kids cancels with some lame excuse--he sets out on a cross-country journey to visit each of them, unannounced, in an effort to re-establish some family spirit. But Rosie, Robert, and Amy are harboring a terrible secret about David that they've conspired to keep from dear old dad at all costs...for as long as they can anyway.

Everybody's Fine is a wholly ADULT film, (I don't mean sex, ya pervert) a character study of an American phenomenon: The lonely senior citizen whose life once revolved around his or her family. But families grow up...and grow apart. And I see it in the supermarket--the old man so starved for connection to someone or something that he strikes up conversations with strangers just to tell them about his "kids."

And it's heartbreaking.

Everybody's Fine is also about acceptance. Where's the line between trying to provide a guiding hand for your offspring and just accepting them for who they are? But most importantly, perhaps, it's a film about what it takes to bring a family together again in this modern era. It's a tale of surprising depth--it will sneak up on you--and may even cause you to do some soul-searching of your own.

Best seen NOW before the holiday season (like life) has passed us by.


Thursday, December 10, 2009


We cannot pretend in our minds to NOT be doing something that we're ACTUALLY doing, and then dismiss it as just "acting." Acting is living out one's fantasies without having to take responsibility for it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

SPREAD-- Rated: R (Now playing at home where absentmindedly spooning soup into your nose while watching a movie is not considered bad manners)

LAX--where dreamers with visions of making it big are constantly arriving, and just as many disillusioned dreamers are leaving on the same day. In Spread, Ashton Kutcher plays Nikki, a self-absorbed young hustler, who dreams of being a kept man--which he manages to do when he sweeps successful lawyer Samantha (Anne Heche) off her feet at one of those nightclubs where the beautiful, vacuous people go to play.

Samantha has a nice "spread," a swanky villa overlooking the City of Angels, where Nikki can luxuriate in style--and all he has to do to earn his keep is to satisfy the older Samantha's physical needs. But when Sam is away, the bad boy will play--throwing parties and pretending it's his digs, and demonstrating his bedroom talents to assorted beautiful, vacuous chicks. Until one day, Nikki is smitten by a young waitress...and why? Because she doesn't give in to him right away, and just like most guys, he wants want he can't have. But lo and behold, Heather (the intriguing Margarita Levieva) is a player in her own right--hustling wealthy, cigar smoking dudes and cruising around in their flashy cars.

What will come of a romance
Between two hustlers of a feather
One named Nikki
And the other named Heather?

To anyone who tries to live an honest, hard working life, Spread is a seamy tale filled with not the most likable characters. You'd think that L.A. is rife with nothing but shallow, materialistic, amoral people. Hmmm...don't know where anyone would get THAT idea!

But there are things to recommend Spread for viewing: Anne Heche pushing the envelope and doing uninhibited, soft-core porn sex scenes, for one. Let's see...when I think of another reason, I'll let you know. Oh yeah, it has the quirkiest closing scene you're ever likely to see on film. Let's just say it will remind you that you've got to kiss a lot of frogs to find you're prince or princess--and even at that, some of us end up with rats.