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The Best Films I saw in 2009
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Last year I did a geeklist of films I saw and enjoyed in 2008. It was a fun list, and while not one of my most popular, and self-indulgent too boot, I liked the comments and it was a joy to write it and hunt for images online.

This list contains fewer pre-1980 films then the last list, in part because I've already seen most of the films from the 1970s. It is my favorite period in American film. As for films from before 1960, I binged on them in 2008, but not so much in 2009. Also a few of the these were films I gave a second chance and enjoyed more this time around, or childhood/teenage films that left an impression and I wanted to look at again. Most of them held up, but the ones that did not, such as Enemy Mine, are of course not on this list.

The 2008 List:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/38190/the-best-films-i-saw...
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1. Board Game: Empire of the Sun [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:714]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Empire of the Sun (1987)

A beautiful film, perfect in nearly everyway. The theme of innocence lost is so common it is almost banal. What makes this different is that the boy is not quite so innocent. He begins the film as a spirited lad, but also a jerk. The film is in many ways about how that spirit changes, aganist the background of a world in a violent transition. This isn't my favorite Spielberg movie, but I think this requiem to childhood, filled with joy and sadness, is certainly among the best of all his films.

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2. Board Game: Road Warrior [Average Rating:4.23 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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The Road Warrior (1981)

Hadn't seen it since high school, and after watching Mad Max and liking it, I thought it would be good to give this another go. While better than Mad Max, the first film made this one better by showing a civilization in decay, and thus making the transition to The Road Warrior all the more visceral. The story of Mad Max also gives more resonance to the redemption of Max in this story. The actions scenes are incredible and the set design is original. Max is the epitome of the 1980s action hero, with his nonchalant attitude and pithy remarks.

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3. Board Game: Wrestling Superstars Game [Average Rating:4.73 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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The Wrestler (2008)

I was a bit afraid that this would be like some bad comeback sports movie, but the hype is real. It is exactly the kind of film I love, featuring great characters and gritty realism but with enough humor to keep it real. Mickey Rourke is so good that I forgot it was him and believed their was a Randy "The Ram" out there. It may not be for everyone, since it is essentially a throwback to 1970s character dramas, a style that has dissipated over the years. In a lot of ways this film is the anti-Rocky in terms of plot and themes, but it is basically filmed in the same way and both Rocky and Randy come to the same conclusion: it is better to give your all to what you love. Difference is what Rocky loves is his salvation, while Randy is essentially damned.

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4. Board Game: Disney Pixar WALL-E Treasure Race Game [Average Rating:2.00 Unranked]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Wall-E (2008)

I was captivated from beginning to end. Just as The Secret of NIMH represents the ultimate in classical animation, so this is the apogee of CGI animation. In the future other films might look better, but I doubt they'll have this film's superior mix of adventure, theme, and emotion.

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5. Board Game: Who Can Beat Nixon? [Average Rating:4.38 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Frost/Nixon (2008)

So far this is Ron Howard's magnum opus, an exploration of two distinct personalities that meet in a subtle conflict of words. It is in every way a superbly done film. My only gripe is the ending theme of Nixon losing the interviews and becoming somewhat irrelevant. In our own age of scandal on par with Watergate, but without the diplomatic brilliance of Nixon, I think he is more relevant than ever. By admitting what he had done was wrong, Nixon won a great morale victory that the recent crooks will never be able to achieve. That alone makes me very sad. Watch Oliver Stone's Nixon and then dive into this film. The two compliment each other quite well.

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6. Board Game: Battle Royale [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Battle Royale (1999)

This could have been just a silly action/snuff film, and certainly many of those films, such as Story of Ricky, work well enough, but the director took the higher road and it mostly worked. Beyond the entertainment and great characters scenes, this film was also a sharp critique on the rat race of postmodern life, where we essentially compete aganist our peers for a better paycheck, only here it is survival, one of my favorite themes in art.

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7. Board Game: Hoity Toity [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:891]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Metropolitan (1990)

Well formed, deliberate, and kindly critical of the main characters while sympathizing with them. This is a film about a dying way of life, and as such there is sadness and attraction to it although I'd never fit into this world nor would I want to. But I can sit back and see what we have lost and gained in exchange for a more free and open set of social values. Whit Stillman is to film what Fitzgerald was to literature. The dry wit and and attention to social minor details predates Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, and it is no surprise they are both fans of the erudite, informed, and articulate film that is Metropolitan.

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8. Board Game: Cut and Run [Average Rating:5.40 Overall Rank:9134]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Casino Royale (2006)

The Bond idea has always intrigued me, but I find the films so boring because he wins effortlessly. I gave this a shot because I heard good things and it seemed like it might make the Bond thing interesting for once. Everything I despise about Bond films was absent. No ridiculous villains, no perfect hero, and no easy ways out. Everything has an effect; in the old days Bond could blow up a building and hear nothing from his superiors. Now the rules are different. Daniel Craig gets beat up in every way possible, making him more like Indiana Jones, who also wins with both his wits and physical skills. He also has deep flaws and he is without a doubt a brutal man, as any agent who does what Bond does would be. Also, we finally get espionage scenes in Africa. I've been waiting for that for a long time. In conclusion, this is one of the best action films ever made and Craig is by far the best Bond. Yes, I find Connery a bore, but Moore and Brosnan were worse. It is worth noting that, outside of one film with Dalton, this is the only serious attempt to make the Bond of the books into a celluloid character. Or so I have read.

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9. Board Game: Dinner Games: Til Death Do Us Part [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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The Dinner Game (1998)

French comedy that I found nearly flawless in acting, pacing, and most importantly comedic timing, the most elusive of comedic virtues. I love watching a situation get worse and worse until catharsis is reached.

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10. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Disco Inferno / Soul Train [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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The Last Days of Disco (1998)

This is a film about post-college confusion, and it might be the most erudite film on the subject. In the contradictory world of disco and 1979 New York the characters, fresh out of college, struggle to define their relationships, goals, and themselves but rarely in a heavy handed manner. As disco dies so does confusion and the film ends with personal revelations, but avoids being ridiculously maudlin. I hope Stillman makes a thematic sequel, because this is a squeal of sorts to Metropolitan. However, unlike the earlier film, this one could have used a tighter plot.

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11. Board Game: Street Illegal [Average Rating:5.74 Overall Rank:5504]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Gran Torino (2008)

Eastwood gives one of the finest performances of his life, playing a character at once admirable and frustrating, and surprisingly funny. In the end it is about cultures mixing and learning from each other, even as they reject one another. This is further proof that in this decade the premier director has been Clint Eastwood. Even the recent films of his that I wasn't wowed by, such as Flags of Our Fathers and Million Dollar Baby, still had good aspects and were worth at least one viewing.

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12. Board Game: Battle of Britain [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Hope and Glory (1987)

Story of a British family during the early days of World War II. This film feels alive because it effortlessly moves between humor, sadness, and wonder. The dogfight over London is a great scene that had me hopping out of my seat.

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13. Board Game: Emperor of China [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:6916]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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The Last Emperor (1987)

A sweeping dramatic epic about Puyi, a man imprisoned within the webs of others and never really free. In fact, when he does seek freedom he commonly gets defeated because of his optimism and inexperience. While at times stilted and drawn out, the sweep of history and the depth of the characters make it a great achievement for Bertolucci.

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14. Board Game: Odd Bodz [Average Rating:4.30 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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The Odd Couple (1968)

Two men, who have driven off their wives, try to live together and of course it fails! Mathau and Lemmon are superb in scenes both dramatic and comedic. Chemistry like this is rare and should be thoroughly enjoyed.

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15. Board Game: Drug Attack [Average Rating:1.50 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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The French Connection (1971)

It was hard to get into at first because the exposition is shaky and you need to pay close attention, but once it gets going it doesn't let up. Loved the unflattering and unromantic portrayal of the police; in this and many other regards the film is like a prologue to The Wire. Gene Hackman is the definition of relentless. However, it is not a perfect movie by any means and the weakest part was the abrupt ending. This and Dirty Harry were the progenitors of latter cop vs. criminal movies, and in many ways neither has been surpassed.

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16. Board Game: Weird New Jersey: Weird U.S. Booster Pack [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Garden State (2004)

At first I was wary that this would be another quirky film with strumming guitars and bored white kids. Yes, those elements are present but I've never seen a film get at the suburban malaise with this much poignancy and depth. Don't know if many will ever heed the message of the film, but the fact that films with a carpe deim message appeal best to suburban white kids says a lot about just how dull the existence is. What Braff avoided were preachy platitudes and sophomoric images and humor of the sort used by Lynch and Solondz when they enter this territory.

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17. Board Game: Rock! [Average Rating:4.73 Overall Rank:10274]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones (2003)

"Out of America's sewers and drains comes punk rock" or so a magazine trumpeted back in the 1970s. Excellent documentary that doesn't shy away from controversy and contradictions, like Johnny saying Tommy wasn't that important to the band's sound and then later on saying that Tommy was important for the band's sound. That fact alone captures the contradictions that fueled one of the weirdest bands in history.

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18. Board Game: Love, Sex and Romance Trivia Card Set [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Well made and unusual Woody Allen film that, without cornball scenes and sappy writing, shows the fleeting nature of love. Unlike other travel films, including Whit Stillman's Barcelona, the characters were not dramatically changed by their experiences, although their experiences will obviously stay with them.

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19. Board Game: The White Unicorn [Average Rating:4.73 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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The Last Unicorn (1982)

Not perfect, but it has more depth and daring than other children films, because a genuine sense of sadness pervades over this film. It also has a great voice acting cast: Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin, and Tammy Grimes, but the best is offered by Christopher Lee as King Haggard. I am happy to say that this is a film I grew up which has stood the test of time.

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20. Board Game: Rain or Shine [Average Rating:6.25 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
mbmbmbmbmb
Shine (1996)

Superb performances abound but what surprised me was the pacing, which never dragged but never rushed itself, and the excellent visuals. Usually character driven films are plagued with slow pacing and mediocre cinematography. Geoffrey Rush was very good, but Armin Mueller-Stahl's complicated character, stole the show, and one could feel his presence even when he was absent.

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21. Board Game: Serial Killer: The Board Game [Average Rating:3.75 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
mbmbmbmbmb
Mr. Brooks (2007)

I took a chance on this and I was pleasantly surprised. Well made film, with good writing and superb acting from Dane Cook and the always great William Hurt. This is Costner's finest performance, since expressive emotion is not one of his acting fortes. The only thing that didn't work for me was the hangman subplot. It seemed tacked on, but probably worked better in the screenplay.

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22. Board Game: Lynch Mob [Average Rating:6.46 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
mbmbmbmbmb
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

A very simple story that is essentially a morality play set in the old west. However, the film is superbly done, particularly the acting. Henry Fonda, as always, is excellent in this film, but the supporting cast rarely misses a beat. It is a treat to see how each of the characters play and feed off of each other.

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23. Board Game: New Orleans in a Box [Average Rating:5.64 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
mbmbmbmbmb
Trouble the Water (2008)

Documentary of a family's experiences right before, during, after Katrina. Flawed in that is sometimes aimless, but it remains powerful when it is on target, with intense moments of heartbreak, bleakness, and inspiration. Strongest part is when the family's house is flooded and they must take to the water. Of course being there during Katrina makes this film all the more meaningful for me.

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24. Board Game: Incredible Hulk Smash-Up Action Game [Average Rating:4.72 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
mbmbmbmbmb
The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The acting made it believable while the brisk pace kept this interesting, and without the sin of an over-wrought plot, I didn't feel like I was being overwhelmed. Add that to some great action scenes and you have a winner. Liv Tyler sucked as usual, but William Hurt did a great job as the general after the Hulk, which is too often a throwaway role. Edward Norton and Tim Roth were perfect as well. Also the pop culture references to the TV show were very good and appropriate, unlike other instances of pathetic referential humor.

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25. Board Game: Mafia [Average Rating:5.38 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
mbmbmbmbmb
Donnie Brasco (1997)

A very good dramatic film. While many of the facts of the real story were changed, this is still probably the most unromantic mob movie ever made, right down to the way Pacino kills that guy in the basement; his manner is as easy as a man putting away the groceries. Depp and Pacino turn in some of their best performances because the characters they play are not like their usual recent fare. Depp plays a professional and Pacino is a rundown and rather pathetic, if dangerous, old man.

Admin Edit - Removed link to image on a site known to contain malware.
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