Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ranking (from Worst to Best) Every Movie Released in 2011 That I Personally Saw, With One Comment Each

*** All based on my personal preferences, but I do like to think I have a founding for most of them. Feel free to discuss your picks for best/worst in the comments or wherever!

The year of 2011 is at its close, and quite a diversity of films were bestowed upon us by the studios this year. I found that I saw quite a number of the "major" ones that were released in 2011, but not all of them of course. I also wanted to see a lot more of them but never had the chance. What with all these lists floating around the internet these days stating the "top tens" and "worst tens" of the year, I decided to rank every film I say released in 2011, from worst to best. It's all based on my personal tastes, and obviously some will feel differently.

I've also decided to make one-ish comment for each of them, just so you know where I'm coming from (though I do know that I can come off as a little pretentious sometimes). Okay, are we ready?
Let's start with the worst and work our way to the best:

38. The Green Lantern - Ryan Reynolds' abs are not enough to sustain my interest anymore.
37. Just Go With It - I'm pretty sure Nicole Kidman paid the studio not to put her in any advertising for this film, so nobody would know she was in it.
36. Priest - At least it wasn't as bad as Legion, but still pretty nonsensical.
35. Bad Teacher - Cameron Diaz sure works her body hard, but too bad her character is just so unlikable.
34. Arthur - Man-children that refuse to grow up really start to get on my nerves after a while, and I heartbreakingly can't even say that the presence of Dame Helen Mirren saved this one's skin.
33. The Change-Up - When your film starts off with jokes about babies pooping, you can't expect much.
32. Something Borrowed - These two women are absolute monsters and I can't stand their self-pitying.
31. No Strings Attached - I mean both the stars are charming enough but there is just something about each of them that still remains unlikable to me.
30. The Mechanic - I've seen worse films starring Jason Statham, but it was more or less what I expected in the end.
29. Limitless - I wanted to like this movie much more than I did; it seemed kind of silly when it all boiled down to it.
28. Rio - I don't know, it was a little campy, even for a child's movie with nothing that really stood out.
27. Fast Five - Absolutely ridiculous and with so many factual inaccuracies, but more enjoyable than some of its previous installments.
26. Waiting For Forever - I didn't really know what to expect, and while I liked the performances of Tom Sturridge and Richard Jenkins (as always) it was just a little too melodramatic.
25. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - This franchise has little to offer us anymore, but at least it didn't have such a convoluted plot like the last one, and featured an actual hottie via Penelope Cruz.
24. The Green Hornet - I know, it's kind of silly, but I like that is wasn't trying to be so serious in terms of glorifying "superheroes".
23. Water for Elephants - For once Robert Pattinson wasn't looking so constipated, and Christoph Waltz is charmingly creepy once again.
22. Gnomeo and Juliet - Just adorable and how could you not like something featuring all that Elton John?
21. Thor - Weirdly outlandish and way more on the "fantasy" end than I expected, but I love my mythology, and Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston won me over.
20. Horrible Bosses - I think it was the squeaky voice of Charlie Day and my constant love of Kevin Spacey that made me think this one was so hilarious.
19. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never - I watched it for fun and kind of as a joke but ended up being surprised by how talented Justin Bieber actually is.
18. The Conspirator - Solid performances all around, and an interesting subject, but it kind of felt like a generic, old-timey procedural.
17. Paul - Nick Frost and Simon Pegg are hilarious when they are together, if maybe a little childish.
16. Crazy, Stupid, Love. - A solid cast and adorable story, just needed a couple less rom-com cliches.
15. Fright Night - Maybe it's my love of David Tennant that made me biased about this one, but I was actually really tense during the whole thing, despite it not being that scary.
14. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - The chemistry between Sherlock and Watson is undeniable, plus Guy Ritchie seems very clever.
13. X-Men: First Class - The above mentioned chemistry is only beaten by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender together in this movie.
12. Midnight in Paris - Some might say that Woody Allen has lost his touch, but I say this was just a light, fun trip, with the ever-natural Owen Wilson.
11. Jane Eyre - They really hit the heart of the eerie, gothic feel of Jane Eyre this time, especially with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender (again).
10. Rango - There were references to Singin' In the Rain and In the Heat of the Night in this children's movie: how could I not like it?
9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - The only thing that I didn't like was a little too much fragmenting of scenes, other than that, it is really engrossing and dark.
8. Friends With Benefits - I didn't have high hopes from the premise, but Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake knocked it out of the park with their banter.
7. Bridesmaids - Just hilarious, in the most awkward kind of way, but most importantly shows that women can in fact be funny.
6. Hanna - Great use of scenery and sound mixing, as well as the fact that Saoirse Ronan is a strong force to be reckoned with.
5. Drive - I didn't expect it to be so intense, but I must say I like being surprised.

(***The best movies of the year, in my opinion, whose rankings are essentially interchangeable with one another):
4. 50/50 - It's not insensitive about such a serious topic, but it's also not melodramatic about it, which I loved.
3. The Artist - I can't say that this movie is for everyone, but it was just such a feel-good time and extremely clever in its editing and presentation.
2. The Muppets - What kind of a sick person doesn't like the Muppets, Jason Segel, or the musical stylings of Bret McKenzie?
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 - Maybe it's because I grew up with these characters and this was the true end of it all, but I must say that this movie was incredibly done and came such a long way since the first installment 10 years ago.

And there you have it! What about you, did you have any different favorites or least favorites? Anything you were dying to see but never had a chance to (see my list below)? What are you looking forward to in 2012?

Films I Have Yet to See from 2011 But Want To:
Attack the Block
The Guard
** Shame
*** Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy
We Need to Talk About Kevin
** The Skin I Live In
*** Beginners
The Help
Margin Call
Like Crazy
Martha Marcy May Marlene
The Descendants
The Iron Lady
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Talking Sexuality, 4: Labeling – “There Be Madness Yet No Method In It”

*** Everyone has the right to his or her own opinions. Mine may differ from yours and I accept that, and if you would like to discuss your own, feel free to sound off in the comments! But please, be respectful. I am not here to offend anyone or try to sway you to see things my way. I am just expressing my beliefs and am open to having a conversation regarding any others that may be presented to me.

[I know I use a lot of examples from fictional sources (film, television, etc), but that is because I do not want to use real life examples. I do not directly know a lot of people that deal with these subjects daily, and would therefore only have access to real life stories through word of mouth. I would rather not make assumptions about someone else’s life when I can't possibly know anything about it…]

When talking about a person’s sexuality, one usually has to define themselves in one of the following terms: Straight, Gay, or Bisexual. What do I call this? A label of course, much like the stereotypical labels put on children and adolescents in school, which can sometimes then come to define them. It’s a common human idea to want to classify someone, whether that be based on nationality, gender, race, or (nowadays especially), sexuality. I, however, see a few problems in this whole idea of “labeling” sexuality, the first being that these classifications are very strict and leave no room for fluidity of definition. Are we to assume that all people fit perfectly into these categories or is there more to it than being one of three (or however many)?

Just like any other means of classifying people, there will always be exceptions, and this widespread belief that there are only three means in which people can identify their sexuality makes me believe that some people will be left feeling alienated. What if these definitions of hetero-geny and homogeny are not enough? What if people don’t feel like they belong to any such grouping definitively? Also, can a person belong to one group and then change later? It almost seems as though once society has established your one label, you can never break free from that, even though it’s a know fact that people grow, change, and don’t always fit into a perfect ideological prototype.

In its past season (5), the British television series “Skins” skimmed the surface of examining an issue such as this through the character of Frankie. Frankie is a female, and yet purposefully makes herself to be androgynous, and doesn’t necessarily want to associate with either gender. When asked by her friends if is she is a lesbian, she says no. A bisexual? Same response. Frankie just says that she is “into people”, because to her, that is an acceptable explanation. Why should such a young person have to tie down to one label? She doesn’t feel as though she fits into any of these categories, and so chooses not to associate with any of them.

In modern day, however, one might say that this “into people” attitude is related to the idea of pan sexuality. Did anyone even know that that was a defined sexuality as well? Although this is yet another classification for people, it is maybe more appropriate for many, as it allows for a lot more deviance from the usual classifications of sexuality.

These deviations may also stem from a greater acceptance of “alternate” sexualities as time goes on and societies progress. Yet, there is still a large belief of many people that bisexualism and pan sexuality does not in fact exist; this idea is somewhere along the lines of “you are either gay, or straight, and bisexualism is just a way for gay men who don’t want to outright come-out to bridge themselves into their homosexual identity.”

I think that that kind of ideology is dealing with far too many assumptions about a person to be really valid. In fact, studies have been conducted to show that it is in fact possible for people –men, at least—to be sexually attracted to members of both sexes. Why then, is the idea that a person can be interested in both sexes still considered to be an unrealistic sexual orientation, as well as taboo when compared to both heterosexuality and homosexuality? Is it because that implies a higher level of promiscuity (they want to have sex with everyone!)?

[I know I shouldn’t make assumptions as I’ve already said, but do you think there is also more of an acceptance for men to think women are bisexual, but not other men? I know the homoeroticism of females is popular to men, but if these women performing homoerotic acts are also interested in men, there is a greater chance the men can still score them, right? Maybe I’m a little off base here. I’ll talk more about genders and homoeroticism another time…]

But where does this need to label people come from in the first place? I simply believe that it is a societal construction used by certain groups, or “types,” of people to make them feel more comfortable. What I mean by that is, some people want to know exactly what the orientation of a person is, so they know how to act around them, treat them, or even so they know what their chances are when it comes to a romantic relationship with them. Also, it may also be a way for those who have homophobic tendencies to categorize people, in order to know who they do and do not want to be around, out of fear or ideology.

In essence, it seems as though the purpose of labeling is not for the sake of the people being labeled, but for the outsider. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I think people should be able to identify themselves with whatever they are comfortable with, not with what others want to see them as. For example, on the series “Glee”, the character Santana recently came out as a lesbian, however she has only really showed interest in one girl. Maybe besides her best friend Brittany, she doesn’t love girls, but also is interested in guys after being so sexually active with them in the past. One might be tempted to refer to Santana as a bisexual because of these factors, when really, she wants to be identified as a lesbian, because this is who she believes she is, and this is the title that she is comfortable in having. It should be the person in question deciding what they want to be identified with, if anything.

When it comes down to it, labeling a person based on their sexuality is not necessary in the first place. Sure it might be a comfort for some, but for others is can become a source of torment, or something that causes them more confusion than self-realization. People can change, and people can weave in between categories on any type of classification system. What you consider yourself one day may not be the same the next, yet the stigma of a certain classification may stick with you beyond your personal growth.

In the end, identity should be a personal choice, not imposed upon someone. Society in general also needs to open its eyes wider to see that there are always exceptions, because rigidity doesn’t always cut it.

P.S: I will always include the image of Jack Harkness wherever I can when talking about sexuality. He has become my symbol for pan sexuality, an idea that I think encompasses more people than we realize.