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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top 5 Films of the Summer-Joshua Handler

5. X-Men: First Class- What could have been yet another superhero reboot/origins story turned out to be a well-made, acted, and written production that is the best superhero film since The Dark Knight.  Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Kick-Ass) directed this film which could be a reason why it succeeded.  His films are always original with a twisted sense of humor.  His originality shows here as he creates a very original and entertaining origins story out of a half-dead franchise that wasn't great to start out with.  He creates a retro feel that really suits the film well.  The real standout of this film is Michael Fassbender as Magneto.  He puts emotion into Magneto making you feel for him and he creates a three-dimensional character.  You really feel for him.  Overall, see this film.  It is funny, action-packed, and truly delightful.

4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes- Like X-Men: First Class, ROTPOTA is another excellent reboot/origins story.  The most fascinating part about it is that it has very little action and a lot of story which is something many films nowadays lack.  Andy Serkis gives an amazing performance as Caesar, the lead ape.  This film was extremely entertaining and has some great action paired with a good story.

3. The Devil's Double- Many people probably have not heard of or seen The Devil's Double, but it is one of the most fascinating (although not completely true to history) films of the summer.  It tells the story of Latif Yahia, a man forced to be the bodyguard of Sadaam Hussein's sadistic eldest son, Uday.  The movie has a fairly conventional narrative and a few missteps towards the end, but that is completely made up for by lead actor Dominic Cooper who gives an astonishing double performance as both Latif and Uday.  Cooper, best known for his roles in Mamma Mia! and the stage production of The History Boys shows that he has the talent to be a leading man and star.  He plays Latif, a mild-mannered man next to Uday, a vile murdering rapist and for a while in the film I forgot that I was watching one actor, not two.  Overall, see this film because of Cooper and for the fact that it is quite entertaining.  But, be warned, it is one of the most sadistic and graphically violent films I've seen in theaters in quite some time.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2- What can I say?  This film is truly marvelous.  From the excellent cast who really show their acting chops to the production design, this film is a hands-down winner.  I won't say much more, so just see it if you haven't.  It is masterful.

1. Tabloid- Errol Morris' (The Fog of War, The Thin Blue Line) new documentary about Joyce McKinney and her scandal in the 1970's is truly astonishing.  It be the least well-known film on this list, but it is certainly the best.  It is told entirely through interviews which may sound boring, but isn't.  Not seeing much but faces makes your imagination work which makes the story even more outrageous than it already is.  I don't want to tell you too much so as not to give it away, but I can tell you that my mouth was on the floor by the time the 85-ish minutes were up.  I had to reattach my jaw after the lights went up.  I couldn't believe what I had just heard/seen.  This film does not have anything deep to say like many documentaries do, but it doesn't need to.  This film shows that documentaries don't have to have a message or be boring.  It shows that you can have fun while watching them.  SEE THIS FILM!!!  It is my current favorite of 2011.

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