Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Of tomatoes fresh, rotten and simply rancid

It's days like this that, even though I would still love to get paid to simply watch movies, I have to give thanks that that dream has yet to materialize.

As a service to movie-renters everywhere, Rotten Tomatoes has released a list of the 25 best-reviewed movies from the first half of 2007, and much more importantly, the 10 worst-reviewed.

It's little surprise to me that Brad Bird's simply sublime "Ratatouille" ends up at No. 1, but there were some others that caught me off guard. I had no idea that "Hot Fuzz," which seems to me an acquired taste at best (though definitely one for me), and David Fincher's fantastic "Zodiac," with all the griping about its length, both managed to work their way into the Top 10. As an aside, two movies I recently had the pleasure of watching on an airplane, "Breach" and the simply charming "Starter for 10," also made the Top 25.

As for the Bottom 10, I had three thoughts. First, thank God I haven't had the misfortune of seeing any of these! Second, how in the world does poor Lauren Graham end up starring in the worst-reviewed movie (so far) of the year? (and is it really that much worse than "Norbit"?) And third, that I guess we should be thankful that even the worst movie of the year (so far) still managed to get 17.7 percent good reviews.

Anyways, I just love lists, so here are the Top 25 and Worst 10, followed by their percentages of good reviews. Please feel free to sound off on any that you think got particularly dissed or received too much love.

Best-Reviewed Movies

1. "Ratatouille" - 85.9
2. "Away From Her" - 84
3. "Once" - 83.2
4. "Knocked Up" - 83
5. "Hot Fuzz" 82.1
6. "Sicko" - 81.7
7. "The Host" - 81.6
8. "Zodiac" - 80.8
9. "Waitress" - 79.1
10. "The Lookout" - 78.5
11. "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" - 77
12. "The Italian" - 76.7
13. "The Hoax" - 76.4
14. "Red Road" - 76.3
15. "Breach" - 75.9
16. "Bridge to Terabithia" - 75.7
17. "The Namesake" - 75.7
18. "After the Wedding" - 75.2
19. "Grindhouse" - 75.2
20. "An Unreasonable Man" - 75.1
21. "God Grew Tired of Us" - 74.9
22. "Starter for 10" - 73.9
23. "Into Great Silence" - 73.7
24. "Live Free or Die Hard" - 73.4
25. "Paris Je T'aime" - 73.4

Worst-Reviewed Movies

1. "Because I Said So" - 17.7
2. "The Number 23" - 18.6
3. "Premonition" - 19.9
4. "The Reaping" - 21
5. "Norbit" - 22.9
6. "Perfect Stranger" - 23.1
7. "Happily N'Ever After" - 25.1
8. "Are We Done Yet? " - 25.2
9. "Code Name: The Cleaner" - 25.8
10. "Hannibal Rising" - 27

Maybe you can quit that day job after all ...

If it weren't for Rotten Tomatoes, this almost certainly would have been my lead item of the day.

Sadly, it seems that even seemingly bionic Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba is susceptible to aging, and at 68 has announced his retirement from action films. On the upside, if you've ever wanted to learn how to kick royal ass, here's your golden opportunity.

It seems the great Mr. Chiba, unwilling to let his tremendous talents just follow him to the grave, will open his own action-acting school in Japan.

So, what drove the seemingly inexhaustible Mr. Chiba to his limit? He said it came while filming a period drama for pubcaster NHK in July. Required to wear a heavy suit of armor for his role of warlord Itagaki Nobukata, Chiba suffered an asthma attack. "Itagaki died (in the drama) -- now I want to bury 'Shinichi Chiba' as well," he told reporters.

Next month he will start taking applications for a Japanese branch of his LA-based acting school, Thousand Leaves Hollywood. He also plans to join with Hong Kong action legend Jackie Chan to launch schools for future action stars in Beijing and Shanghai.

Sounds like they're launching their own little army, which, given the state our world is in today, can only be a good thing. In my overactive mind at least, sign me up!

Welcome back, Ms. Polley

Even if she directs and stars in movies that are simply too good to ever play in my little corner of the world, I'm always happy when I hear that my favorite Canuck, Sarah Polley, is getting back to acting.

For her latest return, she's set to star with Jared Leto in "Mr. Nobody," a romantic drama from writer-director Jaco Van Dormael that sounds like quite the mind trip.

Set in the not-so-distant future, the story follows Nemo Nobody (Leto) who, at 120 years old, is the last mortal surrounded by happy immortals as he relives his real and imaginary years of marriage.

This sounds like it will straddle that fine line between interesting and awful, and for Sarah's, sake I'm pulling for the latter.

Two nuggets of YouTube goodness

This first clip has been making the rounds for a few days now, but I still couldn't pass it up. Not only do you get a glimpse of Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes' upcoming "I'm Not There," but you also get David Cross (huzzah!) as Allen Ginsberg. This flick is just gonna be incredible.

Next comes a trailer which, if it weren't for the rather remarkable cast, I'd be inclined to simply ignore. Called "The Good Night," it features the great Martin Freeman of the UK "Office," extremely funny man Simon Pegg and simply irresistible Penelope Cruz. The awfully hokey premise: Freeman is a very unhappy man who starts to have dreams about Ms. Cruz (as I've been known to do from time to time myself.) This being a movie, of course, she turns out to be an actual woman, they meet, and shazaam. Like I said, this could be truly awful, but I just couldn't pass up a cast this good. And now, I simply have to go vote, drop off my car to get its window fixed and then go to work. Peace out.


jeremy said...

God I hope my expectations for I'm Not There are too high . . .
Oh, and you almost gave me a heart attack--I thought you were going to say that Sonny Chiba died.
And, finally, we're having a month long Jacques Tati festival, here in Seattle, in honor of what would have been his 100th bday.
Do yourself a favor and go rent a Mr. Hulot movie (preferably Mr. Hulot's Holiday).

Reel Fanatic said...

I will definitely do that, Jeremy ... You would think, after all he's put his body through, that Sonny would have died long ago, but thankfully it isn't so

renee said...

I posted my own "best so far" list last week - I'm happy to see that for the most part, my picks are similar to the critics. I haven't seen "Away from her" yet, and I didn't put Ratatouille in my Top Five (in part because I hadn't seen it yet, but I still wouldn't now that I have - sorry, I know you loved it. It's definitely Top Ten). So, anyway, just because you like lists too, here's mine:

1. Once
2. Sicko
3. Knocked Up
4. Hot Fuzz
5. Waitress

Reel Fanatic said...

Because I live out in the hinterlands, Renee, I've only managed to see the last three on your list, but they would be in my top five too ... Waitress was simply a thoroughly charming little movie

Mercurie said...

I'm not surprised that Ratatouille is the best reviewed movie of the year, but I am definitely surprised that Norbit wasn't the worst. I can't believe that there are four movies that are worse!

I'm sad to see that Sonny Chiba is retiring from action films, although I certainly don't want him endangering his health. Too bad I don't have the money to go to Japan to enroll in his school...

Mr. Nobody could certainly go either way, but I have faith in Sarah Polley. I don't think I've ever seen any movie she has acted that has actually been bad. She seems to have a gift for finding good scripts that many actors lack.

Divinity said...

I haven't done so bad, then. 4 out of the top 5 although it looks like only 8 out of the top 25.
I've liked Sarah Polley since her starring turn in the series "Road to Avonlea" and, despite some adolescent shenanigans which have been kept a national secret it seems, I have to admit that she has always picked interesting, worthy productions to take part in. If you haven't seen it yet, she and Lynne Redgrave are amazing in the TV movie "White Lies". Don't know if it's available but the love scene may be the most chillingly staged that I've ever seen.

Maya said...

Cate Blanchett in drag. That's fabulous. I love Todd Haynes.

tg said...

hey I love your blog.You have a real passion for movies.

I was wondering if you might be intrested in posting some of your movie thoughts, reviews, musings, on our site nltd.info

If your intrested AT ALL, please send me an email to kastle.grayskull@gmail.com

thanks, hopefully I'll hear from you...

Reel Fanatic said...

I've rarely been giving suggestions that I couldn't find on Netflix, so I'll definitely have to look for that one, Divinity, especially with the promise of a "chilling" love scene! ... Thanks for the heads up

Sachin G. said...

Hey Keith,

Wanted to say that you were a big reason for me changing my anticipation about Ratatouille. I am glad I finally saw that film :)


Reel Fanatic said...

I'm glad I could convince you, Sachin .. I have to say, I think Ratatouille stands up as my favorite movie of 2007 thus far

Sachin G. said...

Honestly, I am really glad you convinced me :) Have a look at my comment of it on my website. I was very very impressed.