Monday, December 31, 2012

Farwell to 2012

I leave you to close 2012 with a little song about life, The Garden.  Great solo.

"The Garden"


In this one of many possible worlds, all for the best or some bizarre test?
It is what it is and whatever, Time is still the infinite jest.

The arrow flies when you dream, the hours tick away, the cells tick away.

The Watchmaker keeps to His schemes; the hours tick away, they tick away.

The measure of a Life is a measure of love and respect: so hard to earn so easily burned.

In the fullness of Time, a garden to nurture and protect.

In the rise and the set of the sun 'til the stars go spinning 'round the night.
Oh, it is what it is, and forever; each moment a memory in flight.

The arrow flies while you breathe, the hours tick away, the cells tick away.

The Watchmaker has Time up His sleeve; the hours tick away, they tick away.

The measure of a Life is a measure of love and respect: so hard to earn so easily burned.

In the fullness of Time, a garden to nurture and protect.
(It's a measure of a Life)

The treasure of a Life is a measure of love and respect, the way you live, the gifts that you give.

In the fullness of time, it's the only return that you expect.

The future disappears into memory, with only a moment between.
Forever dwells in that moment, Hope is what remains to be seen.

End of Line

  So this is it, the end of the year, or at least what approximations most humans mark as the end of a solar orbit cycle.  U2 always said it best when they sang, "Nothing changes on New Year's Day" (though the rest of the song seems to be of the "love" variety and doesn't really mean much just so it can rhyme).

  Had a good year?  Well, some did, I recon.  I had a rather interesting one myself with no major tragedies nor victories and a few close scrapes.  I refuse to make a revisited list or a "best of 2012" list because I, for one, don't need that.  I know some people do, particularly the shallow, empty kind who really like pop-music but are over age 16.  There's a few "adults" where I work that really really like "Call Me Maybe".  They have no real hobbies.  Sad.  Void music for void folks.  Ah, void people making void kids to a void world of.. void.  The Void Generation (tm).

  Well, it's not all doom and gloom.  There's a few sparkles of hope scattered here and there with people I meet.  People with interesting opinions that are willing to consider others'.  People who know how to use the apostrophe correctly.  People who didn't vote for the DoD to be crushed and make me unemployed and make Adam Ant's song, "This is the USSA" come true.  Shrug.  There's always Australia.  Lex Luthor thought that one out early-on.

  The movie The Hobbit was rather good with some Silmarillion in there for taste.  It was nice to have a Doctor Who actor as "Radagast".

  I think I've carefully maintained my alignment as "Neutral Good", though I'm sure I've slipped here or there once in a while.

  Hope you liked the last few posts of "Best Movies of the Decade" series.  Rather a lot more work than I'd have liked to have produced.  I'll have to think twice before undertaking that one again.  The last bunch got a few grumbles here and there, but I knew this because it was close to home for those who can't remember much so it's all they cling to.  I really can't imagine living in a fog like most humans.  I have usually sharp memory except when it comes to actor's names.  I can remember their character names but the actual actor?  I trip it up from time to time.  Ah well.

  Next year seems to offer a great selection of movies, from the second part of The Hobbit to Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 and others.  Though most know me as a huge Star Trek fan, the next film seems from what I've seen to be a bit too.. "kaboom".  Star Trek has always been a game of chess where Star Wars more of a checkers game.  Still, Disney has Star Wars now and that should prove to be something.  Seems they got their 3rd wind lately.  Tr3n looks also to be promising (aka Tron 3).

  Cheers to you all, and see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Zombies Hate Brains

 Hi, my name is Mike Cronis, and I'm an expert.

  So I'd say I'm pretty much an expert on Zombie-Lore.  I know origins from Haiti as the nzumbe, the zonbi, the resurrection-technique of Voudu (voodoo) and its requirements for success et. al. (ie. don't use a pigeon when it calls for a chicken) for the purpose of work detail or other, less savory reasons.  I'm violently familiar with George Romero's works, as well as other pop-culture pulp-fiction recent junk, such as the kiddish Walking Dead series geared for the pre-teenage mind.   I know how to stop them via disintegration, burning, decapitation.  I know how to distract them via bright lights ala City of the Dead.  I know they have retained some initial memories ala Day of the Dead.  I know they can learn things. 

  I know of real accounts of undead zombie resurrection by way of In Search Of from the 1970's when I watched it when it was prime-time TV.  I know of the AD&D zombie culture, such as the ollam-onga variant, the ju-ju more-intelligent variant from the Monster Manual II, all the creature-variants and zombie-lords, the yellow-musk-creeper zombie from The Fiend Folio (I had the 1st edition in 1981 personally).  I literally could go on for hours and hours.

  I know that typically in media, the same formula time and time again.  For some reason, people love the same stuff like little kids.  It goes like this: 
  • World gets a zombie infection, and structure breaks-down
  • Group of survivors form over time, but eventually kill/fight each other pointlessly.
  • Loved character gets bit and has to be put-down (boo-hoo),
  • Walking-zombies are often considered nonthreatening at a distance until it's too late.
  • Zombies take-over despite efforts, one person may escape (pointlessly by now).
  • Sometimes government military show up and save everyone (alternate ending versions).

  Yawn.  Same-old, same-old.  Still, one truth seems to be amazingly, falsely popular amongst zombie-fans that my wife Becky brings-up, and that's zombies don't actually eat brains.  When have you ever seen this?  I have not in any zombie media.  Not ever. 

  Zombies will bite-into people, eat their entrails, gnash at limbs and infect others, but you never see a zombie actually pull-off someone's head and actually eats the brain-pan nor go for it right-away?  Indeed, perhaps for sake of shock-factor, directors, (even G.Romero is guilty of this) show entrails, guts, sinew, etc. being gnashed and chewed but not actual brains.  You think if they wanted brains so much, they'd go right for that, no?

  Upon more consideration, I suspect zombies (like those who watch Robin Meade on CNN whom actually tells of no news whatsoever and is just Miss Ohio eye-candy with passive-aggressive behaviour against her counterpart Jennifer Wethoven) are actually just saying "brains" as if they're indicating that their brains are affected by something and they can't control themselves, but somehow know their brains are ailing.  Indeed, it seems to be that they're asking for help, rather than indicating a desire for cerebral-cortex-consumption.  It's as if they're saying in shorthand (as they seemingly can't complete a full-sentence) "Hey, my brain is messed-up!  You gotta help me!  Something's totally wrong here, and I seem to want to gnash at body-parts now!"

  If we only listened.  Poor devils.  Well-done, Becky.  Well-done.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Top 10 Best Movies of the 2000s

  So here we are, at the end of it, the end of a list of top 10 movies from 1930 to 2000.  There were so many to choose, and some decades had gobs.  Surely, I've missed a few of yours, but consider instead a few you haven't thought about or deemed worthy enough for a view, as these lists aren't to satisfy your ego and low self-esteem as a validation, but to enlighten and broaden your scope of American cinematography.  The list was not written in any order.  Number 2 was not better than, say, number 9 in any of these lists.  They're arbitrarily written.
  Of course, this list is American in nature, and sometimes lacking.  Great foreign films from France, Japan, Australia, England, Canada, and of course the mega biggie, India, all have some fantastic offerings and I recommend you broaden your horizons even further to enjoy those (and yeah, you have to read subtitles sometimes, but you'll be amazed at how good foreign films really are.)  I cheated a little here and there on the lists, adding on occasion a semi-foreign film here or there.  Indeed, this list has two, but please consider that such representations have been so embraced by American culture that I could not ignore it.

  So America was enraptured with the concept of the Year 2000.  So much in fact it was almost trademarked.  Several products came out in the late 1950s that were "Model 2000" versions to suggest futurism.
   Throughout several writings, be it science fiction to predictions by Popular Science magazine and beyond, the official "Future" was the impossible year of "2000" (though some movies thought 1997 was a more dramatic future such as Thundar the Barbarian, and Escape from New York to name a few, oddly, 1997 was more an edgy, futuristic time in cinema than 2000 which had quickly become cliche in comic books and animation). 
Bugs Bunny with Elmer Fudd in the year 2000 in the cartoon short, The Old Grey Hare (1944)
  So what happened in 2000?  Well, not a lot.  All of us who "remembered the future" as a promise of flying cars and teleportation and personal space travel to Mars never happened, and heck, I'm a bit peeved at the whole failings of it all.  Grr.  Where's my food re-hydrator from Back to the Future II at, or my HoverBoard by Mattel?  Where's my "Pontiac Firebird II" with the bubble window that drives itself?  Well, Google Inc. seems to have got close to that, though only 1/100th as cool, a "Toyota Prius" that drives itself.  Blah.  Talk about plain vanilla boring-city.
General Motors Firebird II drove itself in 1956 as the "Car of the Future"  Only 3 were made.
  The Y2K bug was pretty significant and caused quite a concern at Cheyenne Mountain AFS and Soviet (er.. Russian) representatives came over to make sure we weren't gonna start World War III ala the film War Games with a computer glitch.  Ironically, their systems had some glitches.  We could have eliminated them pretty easily at that point.  Just sayin'.  The "Y2K Bug" was an issue with computers that were often programmed in the language COBOL and some other archaic computer languages that were hard-coded to only handle 2-digit year nomenclature.  When 99 rolled over to 00 all sorts of shenanigans could occur, such as bank accounts suddenly having a balance of $4 trillion due to interest accrued and the like.  Since the scare was pretty pop-culture enough, it was handled by most countries and organizations pretty early-on (which is good) though some car companies here in Colorado Springs, CO were warning folks that their cars couldn't handle the Y2K bug and that their cars needed to be replaced or the ECU reprogrammed else they wouldn't run.  This is utter bullshite but several hundred folks made bad-bargains in December of 1999 here in-town.  As PT Barnum states, "A sucker born every minute." or.. as my dad always said, "Ignorance is expensive."  I like my dad's line better. 
  A lot of DoomsDay'ers wanted the world to end on 2000 as well, but, like everything, it didn't.  Some folks committed suicide just before to hitch a ride on some non-existent comet by drinking blue Kool-Aid and, well, I don't think it worked out that well for them.  Hydrogen Cyanide is nasty stuff.  Ah well.
   2000 came and went without a hitch.  The year itself was pretty mellow, and it was kinda cool to put 2000 on your checks instead of 1999, and on the 1st of January, Prince's song, "1999" was pretty popular a hit and made it back to the top-40 in the US even though it was recorded in 1982 (re-released in 1998 just in case to make enough $$$).  I remember discussing the song in the late '80s with a few folks if they were gonna play it in 1999 or not, or if anyone would remember it.  Yeah, I guess Prince did.  Bet he bought a lot of nice pancakes with that dough.  Pancakes.
Prince, milking his 1982 song, 1999, cleverly.
    I remember reading in 1997 the quatrains of Nostradamus and how he had mentioned a man in a blue turban was to destroy the "New City" followed by a decade of "terror" on July of 1999, and the strike from the sky would be called, "Wormwood". 
In the year 1999 and seven months
The great King of Terror will come from the sky,
He will revive the concept of Genghis Khan's scorched-earth.
Before and after, Mars, the God of War reigns happily.

The Western kings shall carry out Divine Justice. 
Persia shall be devastated.
Mercy to no one.
(yep, Nostradamus nailed it again, except for the date)
  Well, I kept a bright eye open for any kind of devastation in 1999 and none was to be found, though in September of 2001 some terrorists crashed into the World Trade Centers in New York and The Pentagon in Washington DC as well as a failed attempt crashing in Pennsylvania.  The French concept of a "blue turban" suggests a holy man wearing a turban or an Arab with a "holy" cause.  Yep.  Dead-on right, just off by two months and two years. 
World Trade Center buildings shamelessly destroyed by Arab-hijacked commercial aircraft on September 11, 2001.
  I was working at Cheyenne Mountain at the time in the USAF and they sent us home of all things.  I remember being pretty pissed-off that terrorists killed civilians, though I accepted the attack on The Pentagon as a military target to some degree (though civilians died on that plane as well).  Really just ugly business by Khalid Mohammed, though several people thought it was Osama Bin Laden who merely approved of the whole deal.  Any Arabs in America suddenly were victims of hate-crimes like the Japanese and German-Americans during World War II (well, not that bad, we didn't have concentration camps for 'em this time). 
Actual orchestrator of the 9/11 Attacks, Khalid Mohammed, currently captured and detained at Guantanamo Bay
  Boarding airplanes for travel suddenly became a grueling affair, often having to remove shoes and get a thorough pat-down-grope and X-Ray everything.  Several items were now prohibited while boarding planes, such as fluids greater than 1oz, etc.  Just a pain in the butt henceforth!  Still, it's been of some use to us.  Several dozen terrorists have been stopped this way since then, such as the infamous "underwear bomber" and "shoe bomber" incidents that were caught before devastation struck, which is good.  I hate seeing innocents killed for no reason.  How is that a religion to kill innocents?  I don't get it.
Rebuilding from the World Trade Center Towers attack on 9/11 now 10 years later
  Terrorism became a big deal for the US and we had "Terrorism Levels" in different colors on the news, and Homeland Security Division was formed for all-out Red Dawn possibilities.  Folks were buying duct-tape to keep out the gas-attacks through their windows and gas masks.  All of this is pretty much useless from my knowledge of USAF training as you don't have to breathe the stuff to be affected, depending on what it is.  This is to say nothing of radiation.  That's a horse of another color.  Still, companies enjoyed selling Chinese junk to the unintelligent, useless face-masks and fragile and useless emergency kits.  Quite a market for it.  Myabe the DoomsDay'ers were right after all?
  Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and several hundred were left homeless, particularly the poor with no flood-insurance.  The government came in a few days later and gave them housing, free food, money cards, etc.  Still, the hand-outs weren't enough for the socialist-minded poor, demanding more and more (and getting it, to include a decade of tax-breaks, etc.) like hungry mouths of abandoned baby birds, "gimme gimme gimme".  During the flooding, local police looted Louisiana which is quite a contrast to the 9/11 Attacks of New York.  Regionally, this area didn't show much by way of honor compared to the North East, but I'm sure there were a few acts of heroism somewhere, though not televised or mentioned.  Rather a disgusting display of human nature by the inhabitants and those leaders there voted-in (and amazingly re-elected).  Villains re-electing villains.  Go figure.
Hurricane Katrina as seen from space in 2005
  America's first mulatto President gets elected in 2008 and everyone gets all excited with the declaration of, "We won!" with the daft expecting not to ever have to pay for rent or gasoline again (again with these free hand-outs folks?)  Guess they all got surprised when that didn't happen.  It seems as if the African-Americans had found their "Moses" to give them a bunch of free, un-earned stuff and, well, guess what?  Nothing in Life is free, and if it is, you don't want it, because free comes at a price later-on.  Read 1001 Arabian Nights and see what Djin do to folks.  You know, genies?  Yep.  Or read Jacob's The Monkey's Paw.  NOT the savior of the poor, friends.  The savior is yourself within.
  Fashion is almost non-existent in the 2000s.  Pretty much "comfortable" is in, though "hoodies" (aka hooded sweatshirts) were a bit popular.  Jeans and a T-shirt took way from the '90s dirty homeless look.  Sneakers took over from nice shoes, and the necktie is about dead.  Some wore baseball caps for a while, sometimes at a 45-degree turn but soon ridiculed by the middle of the decade.   Women wore androgynous clothes as well of the same degree.  No one wears suits or skirts or nylons except at weddings, interviews, and funerals as formal attire.
Typical male fashion of the 2000 era, this time with khaki pants instead of jeans (an acceptable option)
Typical female wearing jeans and a T-shirt with sneakers.  Standard non-fashion of the 2000's.  Note large, American-Indian-inspired "dream-catcher" ear-rings (out of fashion at this point, and stupid to wear on your head btw).
  Music is generally Rap and R&B in the form of barbershop-quartet-style boy-band singing during this decade will little variation on the radio and is uninteresting and generic-sounding computer-derived tunes with few actual musicians, just programmed stuff off a keyboard and people swearing to a drum-machine to try to sound edgy and cool.  A lot of the songs are malignantly narcissistic.  Rock and folk music go underground and hide from all except the avid looking for it.
Nelly.. yawn.
  Cars move way for the SUV "Sport Utility Vehicle" or "Big fat cow" of a mini-van thinly disguised as something else, getting bad gas mileage, bad handling, bad stopping power, and bad acceleration.  Despite this, Americans love it, possibly because you "sit up high" in them.  SUVs handle notoriously poorly in snow and ice and due to their weight, are very slow from a stoplight.  Some buy them because they seem safe, but ironically they are far more dangerous than smaller compact cars. 
2002 Dodge Durango, a popular SUV
  The MP3 file format takes off and iTunes by Apple Computing (which nearly went bankrupt) makes the iPod MP3 player and oddly becomes the digital audio player of choice despite its low-quality and worst-possible earbud headphones.  Perhaps the style and marketing helped?  Who knows.  There were better players on the market with higher fidelity and much cheaper, such as the Sansa Clip+ and other offerings with better frequency response but people chose the iPod and later the iPhone for ease-of-use and Apple is brought back from the ashes despite low-quality-everything at exhorbant prices 100 times what it should cost for that level of technology at the time.
  Cellphone technology integrated low-quality touch-screens and extra memory to accommodate extremely slow internet browsing mobily and 8-bit games called "Smart Phones".  Low-quality cameras with plastic lenses were integrated onto the phones at a cost of $3 but users are charged $300 or more plus ridiculous coverage fees, yet Americans can't get enough of the cheap toys.  Ironically, audio quality of an actual phone call did not improve since the mid-1990's.  Apple Computers suckers everyone into buying their iPhones which cost them $20 to make for hundreds of dollars each as they save on older technology methods and hardware.
  America is in love with "low-fi" of it all with relish without realizing it..  Bad phones, bad audio, bad vehicles, and bad clothes.  America wants the worst of everything at the highest prices possible, and the Market complies with their needs and satisfies them all.
  Cinema also takes a turn for the worst with low-quality script-writing, though there's a few accidental gems out there.  Here, I list 10:

Top 10 Best Movies of the 2000s


A lot of movies in the 2000s are quite pretentious and pretend to be good when, honestly, they really weren't. Such examples are,

Movies that stunk:

The Fountain (2006),
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000),
Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003),
The Matrix Reloaded and Revolution (2003),
Gladiator (2000),
Gangs of New York (2002),
Avatar (2009),
anything by Q.Tarantino,
Pan's Labyrinth (2006),
Watchmen (2009),
Spiderman 2 (2004),
The Last Samurai [Shogun (1980) ripoff] (2003),
The Bourne anything (2002-2007),
Transformers anything (2007-2009),
Star Trek (2009),
Space Cowboys (2000),
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000),
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2000),
Mission Impossible II thru infinity (2000-2010).

  The list goes on and on. Some of these movies had huge production costs and grandiose orchestration or clever cinematography, or honestly did rather well in the theaters by way of hype from the director's credibility or promise of an awesome Ben-Hur type experience. Pure junk.

Sadly, this decade has lost a lot of its touch. There's not a lot of good music or movies in the last decade. It's a bit ADHD now, due to Big Government regulation on force-feeding people bovine-growth-hormone-infected milk and beef, and genetically altered and estrogen-enriched chicken. All these chemicals have created super-giants in people. In the 1970s, very few people were over 6 feet on Earth, now it's pretty common, thanks to the poisons we ingest. Also, though not necessarily a bad thing, body hair is very minimal due to the estrogen intake in almost all meat for mass-production-value from farms in America. So now we have a bunch of balding, hairless, effeminate dudes who cry and wear make-up. Nice.
Honorable mention:
  • Lord of War (2005),
  • Sunshine (2007),
  • Apocalypto (2006),
  • Enemy at the Gates (2001),
  • Gone Baby Gone (2007),
  • Shaun of the Dead (2004),
  • Children of Men (2006),
  • The Hangover (2009),
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004),
  • Sin City (2005).


1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

  It's easy to put this trilogy.  Epic and spanning like movies of old with decent acting and a pretty good plot based on the books by JRR Tolkien getting a nod to nerd-cred.  The movie is broken-up (rightly so) into three parts of the six original books (nerd points +1 for me) of the three novels, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.  These books are known to all nerdy Mcnerd-nerds such as myself.  I read them when I was 13 and they're the basis of a lot of medieval things, like elves not being of the Santa variety but bow-wielding, 5-foot bad-asses with forest-lore, dwarves being of the mining, axe-wielding variety with Scotish accents, the concept of "Hobbits" et al.  Even the different spelling of elfs and dwarfs to elves and dwarves is because of this series.  Actually all of this came from these very books!  They had a huge cultural impact when they came out and gained insane popularity through the mid-'60s into the mid-'80s and beyond. 

  Ralph Bakshi took an animated hack at it back in 1978 using the concept of "Rotoscoping" which was quite popular an animation technique at the time.  Disney also used this style on their early films.  Unfortunately, people were on-the-fence about it.  Some loved it, some hated it, most found it as inspired work, regardless.  Personally, I adored it for it's genius and more accurate telling, but kids are impatient these days and expect to be wowed and amazed constantly.  I'm a sucker for good animation and admire the work it took to do it, spitting Walt Disney in the face about it.  Honestly, I'm amazed any of 'em sat through this trilogy of 2001-2003, but I guess if they had to sit through anything, it'd be this.

    Filmed in New Zealand, the scenery is grandiose and sprawling, giving great sense of scope and individual smallness, adding to the theme of a small demi-human trying to destroy a "ring of power" by chucking it into a volcano which is ironically very close to where the main antagonist lives.

  The books in their entirety are not played-out utterly.  I guess we'll save that for some made-for-TV PBS British deal.  Only the Brits with PBS could make a more accurate version of the stories, and dry it out to utter blandness with some $3 special-effects added-in and a $2 synthesized soundtrack because they spent all the budget on overdone actors full-of-themselves like Sir Thomas Baker ala Dr.Who (JellyBaby anyone?)

  The CGI is actually acceptable (for a change, this decade has a lot of unbelievable bulk of it).  The soundtrack is a bit epic-ish and not over-wrought, and, again, the acting is decent.  I list all three in the trilogy because, well, you can't just watch one of 'em.  You gotta sorta watch 'em in order, like the Godfather trilogy.  Watching just, say, Godfather II by itself is.. awkward.

  It's a long watch, friends, but it doesn't disappoint.  It drags at times, just like the books, and there's plenty of proper-nouns of places you'll never see and people you'll never meet (just, again, like in the books) but if you have the patients, it's worth the wait, and you're spared the anti-climactical book ending in Hobbitown.

What did he say?!

2. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

  I know I had said much earlier that I'd only do movies from Hollywood, but what's this?  I'm doing a movie from.. Bollywood?  Yeah, but here's why:  It had such a huge impact in the US I had to put it, and rightly so!  Yeah, I avoided Snatch (2000).  I didn't even give it honorable mention?  Why?  Because British-based psudo-gangster movies are cheesy, especially once the novelty wore off after the first few.  By the time Snatch came out, the genre was already dead, and most of the fans didn't realize guns are illegal in jolly old Britain (thanks, in part, by Lord British).

  So this movie is from India.  One thing to note is the Caste-system there, which is a social stratification of self-deprivement.  If you're born poor, it's your place to stay poor.  America is just about the opposite of that, but it's an intriguing and constrictive universe there, taking up a third of the Earth's population (America takes-up about a 20th).

  A young boy finds himself on a semi-popular worldwide TV show So You Want To Be a Millionaire which had different country versions and ran popularly in the 2000's.  Here in America it stared Regis Philban based on an early show, Win Ben Stein's Money.  It's basically a quiz show with 4 possible answers given.  Just like the The $64,000 Question TV show of the 1950's.  As the game continues, the questions become more difficult.  The individual can call it quits and take the currently won money and leave, or continue on.  If the contestant gets an answer wrong, all the money is lost and the game ends.  The contestant also has three "life-lines" where he can either phone an acquaintance for a suggestion, ask the audience, or eliminate two wrong answers from the list.

  The boy knows the answers based on his real-life events and the film breaks into each event as the questions are asked from his past life.  Obviously the audience is none-too-pleased about a poverty-stricken boy doing so well, as it's not within his caste to do so, and the tension builds, as does the bigotry.

  A bit of an "independent" film, and a bit of a love story, it succeeds on all levels.  It is visually gripping and tense, and as Americans, we root for the underdog.  A little Hindu and India background make the watcher appreciate the film a lot more.  Definitely worth the time spent.

3. The Dark Knight (2008)

  Once in a while, an amazing film shows up on our plates and it's so unexpectedly serendipitous that despite all my syntactical sugar I can't express the perfection so I'm forced to make up a word, "Scrumtralescent!"

  When audiences were told the Batman franchise was getting a "Joker" reboot, people groaned.  Jack Nicholson did a fine-enough job in the 1989 eponymous film, how could the gay cowboy from Brokeback Mountain (2005) be a better Joker?  Oh, he did, and how.
  A fine superhero film of DC Comics fame, and the best in the series (unarguably) depicting a balance of two powers, one lawful-good, one chaotic-evil with a neutral party, "Two Face" as the balance-of-power tips and both try to sway the central character all along the battlefield of a small city of Gotham.

  The action is well-balanced and it's gosh-darn interesting to watch a paladin-like good versus a demonic evil go at-it with diametrically-opposed yet passionate ideals in the same way Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) did.  Everyone's acting is decent, the soundtrack is good, and the special-effects are believable enough.  Watching Heath Ledger as The Joker is a delight and you can tell he really had a fun time with it, expertly, grittier than anyone expected.
  Even if you're not a fan of superhero films, this one's worth the watch.

4. The Aviator (2004)

  What gives?  The Aviator?  Really?  Well, yeah.  I'm not much of a fan of DiCaprio (except for the indie film, What's Eating Gilbert Grape? of which just about anyone can play a convincing retarded guy I guess, like the film Radio or .. well.. many others).  Amazingly, this depiction of him playing as Howard Hughes and his dealing with airplane construction and development for the modern man and highlighting his germophobia simultaneously actually works.

  Soundtrack is great, and the maniacal and mentally twirled goings-on behind closed-doors make it intriguing.  Nay-sayers make him an underdog.  There's a certain amount of danger in airplanes as well, like crash landing and the like that make for a bad day.  There's a focus on the legal battles as well and a good amount of courtroom drama ensues.  Rather a "sleeper" of a film, it didn't catch too much attention due to more action-y films of the same year, as people tend to loathe a history piece, but try this one and I bet you can't stop watching it.


5. O'Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)

  Amazingly, this movie didn't stink.  I thought it would, but somehow everything lines-up right.  Supposedly based on Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey, three escaped convicts have misadventures eventually ending up to become an "Olde Tyme" country band.  Along the way, the men encounter the trappings of life of the 1930's in Mississippi.
  George Clooney stars with Turturro and Nelson and they all combine to add a natural albeit situational comedic wit against the backdrop unintentionally in the same way Fargo did by way of candor.

  The movie is chock-full of ancient country hits such as Big Rock Candy Mountain (a bit of a hobo anthem), You Are My Sunshine, and Keep on the Sunny Side.  The soundtrack is epic in that sense, pleasant enough with no scream-o hardcore Cookie-Monster Tomfoolery and harks to a time when music was nonthreatening lest we forget that. 

  Enough action and pace keep the viewer entertained throughout without being overwrought like an ADHD-infused JJ Abrams pulp-flick; instead it soothes and gives one a sense of well-being at the end, if even that the whole movie is near pointless and comes full-circle, but then again, a metaphor for Life itself.

6. The Wrestler (2008)

  I've been a fan of Mickey Rourke ever since he played the thug in Sin City (2005).  It's amazing to see such a bruiser have such a depth of character in acting.  The film focuses on the darker side of "Professional Wrestling" and its trappings and expectations, primarily on Mikey's character, Robin "The Ram" Ramzinski as a past-his-prime pro-wrestler with no end-game.  "The Ram" never did exceptionally well enough to move out of a trailer park in Jersey and as the fans move-on he cannot.  His body betrays him over time and age and he falls in love with a stripper played expertly by Marisa Tormei who's body also betrays her by age.  Both are unwanted in society but that's all they have to give.

  This movie is a nod to the darker 1970's flicks of leafless trees and cold despair.  Metaphors abound in this film.  It'd be a dumb bunny to not pick out a few easily.  Dare I say this film is .. brilliant?  Well, if it came out in 1974, it'd be par for the course, but we've strayed from good storytelling and imagery these days for explosions and shaky-cameras.  Shame, really. 

  If you don't have the guts to watch a '70s film, then watch this one.  It's only 6 years old now, and still decent enough!  I urge you not to watch the other sports drama film, Million Dollar Baby though, that stunk to high heaven, well the second half of it, anyway.

  This film was so good, several "Professional Wrestlers" were moved to tears due to it's cold accuracy, but you don't need to be Rowdy Roddy Piper to have a sniffle here or there, friends.  Consider yourself part of the Club.

7. Cast Away (2000)
   Who hasn't recently remembered the line in triumph, "I have made fire!!!"  Mr. Hanks has come a long way from Joe vs. The Volcano and Big.  FedEx manager's plane crash-lands in the ocean and he's stranded for several years on an uninhabited island.

  Tom's character battles internal demons and psychosis as well as as struggle for the average person's survival as a snapshot of society today.  He's fairly intelligent as many of us and allows the numb bunch to realize how much we take for granted the simple things in life.  This may not amount much to a prior BoyScout or wilderness expert but to the fat-cats that live in southern California, it's shocking.

  Very similar to the novel, Robinson Crusoe, you are emotionally involved with very little dialogue to spoon-feed you.  I found the story interesting enough and with enough drama to keep me engaged.  I think you'll enjoy it, because on a primal level, it speaks to us all.

Tom finds a Wilson's soccer ball, his bloodied hand made a face when he threw it, so it becomes his mascot, "Wilson"

8. Downfall (2004)

  I know, I know, I wasn't supposed to put a foreign film in there, but there comes a time when such a film is so extraordinary and so jaw-droppingly good you have no choice but to break the rules.  Downfall is a story about Adolph Hitler's last days in the Reich during World War II.  It doesn't end well, as History dictates, nor does it paint a pretty picture of him (sorry Skinheads). 

  Still, it's a brilliant, brilliant piece.  This drama is one of the best I've ever seen in all my life.  I can't even begin to describe how good it is.  Guess what?  It's not in English, nor is there any dubbed versions of it.  Nope, you have to read the subtitles!  Ha!  Those who don't enjoy that prospect aren't smart enough to value this film so go back to your "Explosions is a plot" world where the more shaky the camera is the better action it is universe and sulk.  We adults are going to enjoy the Cinema!

  Everything is stunning in this film.  There are no dead spots.  Everything is hyper-tense and the acting is top-notch.  So impacting was this film, that the final defeat speech to Hitler's men is often parodied due to its sincere intensity.  You'll recognize it if you troll on YouTube for any amount of time.  Parodies are a form of flattery to some extent as I've mentioned before, though vulgar and kiddish.  This movie is the Real Deal.  It's what drama is all about.  Learn and enjoy, you film buffs!  This is what acting used to be in films of yesterdays gone by.


9. Serenity (2005)
  I would be betraying my senses if I didn't include Joss Whedon's (director of The Avengers) finale sci-fi masterpiece Serenity.  One of very few "Cowboy Westerns" fusion sci-fi with a hint of Steampunk added for flavor is the final chapter of his one season series Firefly which has an astounding fan-base in the same way Star Wars and Star Trek also have, though to a lesser-degree, I'd rank this series of sci-fi in popularity as third, followed, perhaps by Stargate SG-1.

  Fox Television Studios refused to aire the series in-order in 2002 and ratings suffered for it and, like all good shows, Fox cancelled it without giving it a chance.  Now, rabid cult-fans still dress-up, buy props and trinkets and speak the show's lingo like it was only yesterday.  The series had a lot of heart and quirky-good acting with matter-of-fact dialogue unusual to television, uncontrived and delivered cleverly. 

  Special effects in 2002 were top-notch, the film 3 years later used the same effects on a larger scale and they work well without distracting.  The TV series remake, Battlestar Galactica borrowed from the same production studios to get fighter-ship battle sequences more cool-looking as if you're looking at it from a ground-perspective with binoculars.

  Honestly, I don't recommend this film unless you've sat down and watched via Netflix or BluRay or what-have-you the original 14 episodes which you could devour in a day or so as this film is the culmination of all 14 to make an actual fifteenth special episode to tie things up, otherwise it won't make a lot of sense, though I've heard some folks watched this one first and still liked it.

10. 3:10 To Yuma (2007)

  A remake from a 1957 Western film of the same name, a small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who's awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma, Arizona. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher to free him.

  This is a bona-fide Western film without any John Wayne Disney-esque cheese-factor.  It's gritty in the vein of earlier Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns but a tad more polished and less, "Italian".  If you liked The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, then you'll probably like this one as well, though I must warn you there's no "Tuco Ramirez" for some comic relief.  Nope.  Just shootin' n' dyin'.

  The "3:10" part feels like it might be a biblical reference, but it ain't, it's the time the train shows up for the outlaw's court transfer.  The movie isn't anything symbolic, it just is what it is, so enjoy it.

Well, that's it!  Just in time for Christmas I gather.  World didn't end due to the Mayan Prophecy, which is nice.  The end of a long 3-month journey of best films.  I might work on other things, like top 10 animated films of each decade or some such nonsense for you to argue against and roll your eyes at, but as Rush says, "A list is just that, a list.  One that someone made.  It has no validity, even by sake of argument, it's just.. a list."  (they said this on not being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for 10 years or so, ironically, they got inducted this year, to which they politely accepted as is Canadian tradition).

Hope you enjoyed it all.  There's no 11th for 2000s.  Sorry, the decade was lacking in substance.  Rather a boring, uninteresting one in my opinion, though I noticed things are picking up a bit from 2010 onward, if not in film then in style and fashion at least.  Poverty hasn't inspired the masses yet to be creative.  It's hard to say which way things will go from here.  Each decade had it's own defining moments but the 2000s are so blah...  Hm.  We'll see... We'll see...