Summer wrap-up ’08

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by Peter Labuza, MNDialog • August 22, 2008 • Now that summer has wrapped (sorry, Death Race), let’s look back at some of the best, worst, and weirdest things that cinema has brought us.

Movie Most In Need of a Drinking Game: The Happening; M. Night Shaymalan’s latest thrill ride was more of a joke ride. This terribly hilarious film has plenty of opportunities. Shots can be taken during: a) someone says the word “happening” b) a shot of trees blowing in the air c) Mark Whalberg looks panicked d) Zooey Deschanel looks like she wants out of this film. Also, if you make it to the final scene, you take a bullet into your head.

Arts Orbit is a multisource blog about the local arts scene, featuring both original contributions by Daily Planet writers and entries reprinted from partner blogs and online publications.

Best Excuse to Skip the Megaplex: Man on Wire; It’s a heist film. It’s a documentary. It’s a philosophical journey; But in the end, it is an astonishing portrait of an event. Philipe Petit has no explanation for why he had to hang a wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center, yet his amazing accomplishment is something that needs to be seen in this thrilling documentary. James Marsh forms his film like a classic heist flick, yet comes to something greater than that.

Best Edge Gripper: 18-Wheeler Flip, The Dark Knight; If Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman sequel had one flaw, it was that the best action sequence was actually in the middle of the film. But one moment had the entire audience in applause, each time I saw it. When that semi flips on La Salle street, supposedly defeating the Joker, its an epic showstopper. Nolan uses minimal CGI, no cuts, and no music. It’s an image that simply stands for itself.

Most Ridiculous Moment That Had You Laughing Ridiculously Hard: Tom Cruise dancing in Tropic Thunder; When Tom Cruise first shows on screen in Ben Stiller’s disappointing parody of Hollywood, you got to question why he is fat, bald, and swearing. But when he starts dancing to Flo Rida and T-Pain’s dance joint “Low” along with Bill Hader on the prospect that he will become an epic billionaire, one can’t help but laugh. It’s a moment that makes you question everything that is going on, but its still hilarious.

“That Guy” Award: Danny McBride; Audiences got a double dose of originally indie star Danny McBride in both Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder, and he hit it right out of the park. From his explanation of his aerodynamic-ness in Pineapple to his explosion orgy in Tropic, this man was literally on fire, and had everyone asking, who is that guy? Welcome Mr. McBride, to the A-list.

Good Movie in Bad Timing: Reprise; This Norwegian foreign flick, which echoes the films of Godard and Truffaut, was a moving portrait of two men and the opposite lives they take. Powerful? Yes. Well Made? Yes. Great Summer Programming? Nowhere near. Its too bad this film got stuck with a poor summer release, because it could have been huge come Oscar season.

Worst Use of CGI: Climax of The Incredible Hulk; I almost went with those stupid chipmunks at the beginning of Indiana Jones 4, but the last 30 minutes of The Incredible Hulk were simply boring. When will someone understand that watching two CGI characters fight is simply not that entertaining?

The Official George Lucas’s Latest Reason to Die: The Clone Wars; Can you say trainwreck? The Clone Wars essentially takes the moments of the prequels that were entertaining and thrilling, and throws them out the door. This film is a CGI kid fest that in no way, shape, or form lives up to the Star Wars name.

Most Boppin’ Soundtrack: The Wackness; Biz Markie? Nas? Biggie Smalls? Jonathan Levine’s indie story of a drug dealer in NYC might have been poorly crafted, but he knows the must of the 90s. This film takes all the best of 90s rap and hip-hop. You will be instantly boppin’ in nostalgia glory.

Best Performance in a Movie, NOT by Heath Ledger: The Cast of Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Of course Heath Ledger nailed an amazing, terrifying performance out in The Dark Knight, but not nearly enough has been said about the great members of Woody Allen’s latest comedy. In this strange tragicomedy Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and even Scarlett Jonhanson turn out terrific performances that raise the Woody Allen bar once again.

Best Film of the Summer: WALL-E; Sure, on the surface, WALL-E is a kids’ story about two robots, but under the surface, Andrew Stanton’s deeply complex science fiction story is much more. Stanton, using a sparse amount of dialogue, becomes a true visual storyteller. It’s a film that’s part 2001, part City Lights, and all amazing. Don’t be surprised if this comes up at the end of the year, or even stays on the top spot.