The End.

Exactly!Everything that has a beginning has an ending.

As it has been written, and promised, and prophesied, so it is, and so it has come to pass: This is the last post for Counterforce. I’m going to try to avoid any melodramatics or perceived grief or anything like that because I’ve sure done enough with it in the past, and hey, it’s just a fucking blog on the internet, right?

But I’ll miss it. And I’ll miss you, and doing blog shit with the people I did blog shit with here.

The end is not near, its here.

I think Counterforce was fun, but flawed. I don’t think it ever reached its potential, and I think it’s safe to say that the blame for that lays entirely with me. So, to that I would say: Sorry, everybody.

But also thanks. There were some good times and fun things to read/look at. Thanks, Benjamin Light. Thanks, Peanut St. Cosmo. Thanks, Occam Razor. Thanks, August Bravo. And thanks, Maria, whom we stuck with the name Lollipop Gomez. I hope you guys had some fun too.

Anyway. It’s the end, but not totally. Benjamin Light do two podcasts which are very much in the spirit of Counterforce, and which you’ve probably heard of on here before: Time Travel Murder Mystery and Greedo Shot First.

Listen to our fucking podcasts! Plz.

Right now TTMM is on a brief hiatus, and could return as early as next week, though it will certainly be back sometime in the next few weeks. Greedo Shot First just posted its latest episode today, in which we rewatch one of our favorite movies ever, The Empire Strikes Back, so go check it out in iTunes.

The corridor of lights

And we’ll follow that next week or the week after with an episode about rewatching Return Of The Jedi.

It’s kind of sad that I won’t be able to plug our podcasts here anymore. Or talk about any of the other things I had planned to ramble on about it, but… oh well. Tomorrow, like today, is another day in a brand new year. I’m sure there’ll be more opportunities. And other spaces, other places.

We’ll meet again. Don’t know how, don’t know when…

One last thing and then I’ll shut up for, well, a while (at least here): I’m going to go rewatch the last episode of Lost right after I hit “Post” on this post. I feel like our love for that show so strongly informed this blog and we bounced back and forth between it so much. I don’t mind telling you that the day we did our post on the last episode of the show, that was the day we got the most hits ever on this blog. So I guess a lot of people’s hearts were either filled or burst along with the passing of the last truly great television show too. It just feels right to go watch that after this, at least to me.

Oh well.

Thanks again. For everything. I’m glad the blog is over, because it mattered to me, and I’m glad to start something else. Hopefully we’ll see you there at the beginning of that.

-Marco Sparks

VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

Strong Motion.

Benjamin Light: I now have two real credit cards, so I won’t have to use my debit card everywhere. I feel like such an adult now.

Kitty Ravenhart: I nearly never use my credit card. It may not change your behavior as much as you think.

Peanut St. Cosmo: Yes, it definitely does make you feel like an adult. But its so easy to get carried away spending when you don’t keep track like you do with a debit card. Be careful with those things.

Benjamin: Oh, I plan on using my CC everywhere I would normally use my debit card, then I’ll just pay it off every month. My intention isn’t to be able to spend money I don’t have, just to use a CC with fraud protection instead of putting my own bank account at risk.

Marco Sparks: You need to start saying “I’m gonna charge that shit!” everywhere. Like an adult.

Kitty: It’s true. That is what adults do. I mean, I don’t personally, because I’m not an adult, but I’ve seen it done.

Benjamin: Yeah, I suppose I’ve just read too many articles about card skimmers and online sites getting hacked.

Peanut: I’d pay good money to be somewhere with Benjie as he says, “I’m gonna charge that shit.” Preferably somewhere really *classy* like Sizzler.

Benjamin: heheheh

Marco: People charge the shit out of things at Sizzler.

Peanut: I fucking hope so!

Marco: When your boyfriend Jonathan Franzen goes to Sizzler he tells them to “Charge that shit!”

Peanut: Oh fuck me, I hope so! I’d have a whole lot more respect for him!!

Marco: I had such a great response to this but I don’t think I’ll post it. It’s a bit dirty, and you have to love before you can be relentless, or suicidal. The punchline involves Franzen not fucking Peanut at Sizzler, but letting her sit at his booth with him while his girlfriend gets up to get another plate of shrimp. Yada yada yada, if someone plays their cards right: fingerbang.

Editor’s note: By “fingerbang” what Marco Sparks clearly meant was: fingerblast. Obviously.

Peanut: Whoa, what? I get fingerbanged by Franzen? I don’t know what to say about that… Does he leave his glasses on?

Marco: Well… Of course he does. When you “charge that shit” they give you a receipt and all, but there’s tiny print on it. Hard to read. Also, he has trouble reading the directions on all his pill bottles. These days those glasses are practically glued to his face. And don’t worry cause he washes his hands like 13 times a day.

Kitty: If she’s in a Sizzler at all do you think she cares that the fingers in her vagina have been washed?

Benjamin: This has gone to such a wonderful place.

Kitty: Wait, is the wonderful place Sizzler or Peanut’s vagina?

Marco: People will be asking that same question long after we’re all gone, Kitty.

And… You’re forgetting that he’s a famous author. You don’t snub Oprah and get your face on the cover of Time magazine AND THEN go fingerbang girls with nasty, dirty fingernails. Ick. No. He’s not a member of the goon squad!

Peanut: Oh yes, I care about those fingers, Kitty! Thank god, you can’t let anyone who washes their hands less than 10x a day go sticking their fingers in your pikachu. I mean if you had one, you know? Oh Franzen, I’ll help you read all your little pill bottles! And defrost your weed you keep in the freezer!!! :)

Marco: This…

Benjamin: He looks like he has seen things that cannot be unseen.

Marco: Just be thankful you can’t see his hands.

Peanut: They were under a table @ Sizzlers!

…while he was podcasting. And hopefully alone!!

Kitty: I’m going to borrow the pikachu euphemism sometime.

Marco: Right now Jonathan Franzen’s girlfriend is folding her arms over her chest and looking at you and your pikachu with a very, very disapproving look, Peanut.

Also, I feel like Cormac McCarthy also eats at the Sizzler, but J-Fran pretends not to see him whenever they nearly bump elbows over by the ice cream machine.

As if dudes aren’t confused enough. Now our girlfriends will come into the bedroom at night and say, “Wanna play some Pokemon?” and we just won’t get it. Ugh. What the fuck else is new?

Peanut: It’s because I have better hair than her, Marco. Oh yes. Take pikachu, I use your mood status: stabby, all the time!

Benjamin: Really? I think “Pokemon” is pretty obvious.

Speaking of mood statuses, I had occasion to be looking at myspace earlier today. I miss all my old over-sharing blogs and current mood settings. :D

Marco: Jonathan Franzen’s girlfriend does have bad hair, you’re right. It’s like she works at a fucking Wal-Mart or something.

Kitty: That would explain the dinners at Sizzler.

Peanut: Who is this chick? I’ll challenge her to a dance off or something? Yes, myspace blogs and oversharing were pretty great :)

from here.

Benjamin: Maybe you guys could have a home perm-off.

Peanut: Benjie, my hair is too awesome for home perms.

Marco: But not too awesome for dance offs or getting fingerbanged in a booth in the middle of a Sizzler’s. We read you loud and clear.

Kitty: That does pigeon-hole you in a very narrow range of awesome.

Marco: Very narrow.

Peanut: Who doesn’t love a good dance off? No lying now…we grew up in the era of a post-Britney/Justin world and their dance off that followed.

Benjamin: You might have, I’m older.

Peanut: Barely. Dick.

Bejamin: ={

Marco: Would Billy Zane be judging this dance off?

Peanut: No Billy Zane, but maybe Paula’s available?? If I had a steady pill supply for her anyway. No, I don’t watch those dancey idol talent shows.

Marco: They play them on the TVs at Sizzler. You’ll be fine.

You Were My 90s!

That’s right kids, it’s time for another round of CounterForce at the Movies. The Scream 4 edition!

Benjamin Light: A mild anecdote. On the first day of my film directing class in college, we all had to go around the room and say what movie made us want to go to film school. This was an upper-division course, so mostly juniors and seniors were present. By which I mean that a large part of the students’ capacity to enjoy film had already been destroyed by academia. Most people had some fairly pretentious answers designed to make themselves look deep and intellectual. The Graduate, The Godfather, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Breathless, or a Gus Van Sant film or some foreign bullshit, etc. I said Scream, because it was a clever, entertaining movie, and I wanted to make clever, entertaining movies. It was like the whole class hated me after that.

Marco Sparks: A beautiful story. So, yeah, we’re going to try and discuss Scream 4 here, which is just another entry in some bullshit horror movie series, and yet… It should be so much more. As you said, the original was an important movie. It was smart and clever and entertaining, and it was something else, something that we didn’t realize til later, but it was so fucking 90s. 90s in a good way. Not like, you know, Reality Bites (Editor’s note: fuck that movie). The original Scream was born in an era where you could do something and also comment on it at the same time. You could do something and reference other things at the same time. And you could do it all cohesively and creatively and it could actually work. Of course now, things are a little too post-post-post modern for the old ways to still work, right?

And the thing that Scream did and commented and referenced and reinvented back then was the horror movie genre, which, like metal, was completely dead by that point in the 90s, and desperate for a rebirth of some kind. Especially the “slasher” subgenre. Funny now, somewhere more than ten and less twenty years later, and I’m thinking about Scream‘s lessons and comments on horror movie series and how bad their sequels typically were. And ironically – fill out your 90s buzzword bingo card starting here – we’re using Scream 4 as the catalyst for this conversation.

Benjamin Light: One more note for context: the modern “teen” movie was partially created by Scream. There was a good long time where they just didn’t make movies for teens. “Clueless” was the prototype of the genre, and then Scream took it to the next level.

To make this even more surreal, I saw Scream 4 with an old friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in years. In Hot Tub Time Machine, Darryl from The Office has that line about Rob Cordry’s character “he’s our asshole.” This friend I saw Scream 4 with was Our Asshole, back in the day. Marco’s and mine. The kind of guy who drove a shitty chevy nova way too fast, fingerbanged your ex-girlfriend’s little sister and wore t-shirts that said Nine Inch Dick in the style of a NIN logo. Now, he’s a fucking housecat, totally neutered and body-snatched. I wondered, walking to the theater, if this was a harbinger of things to come.

My interest in Scream 4 was mainly in how a thoroughly 90s movie franchise was going to come off in this late era of irony without wit. Would it still be 90s to the core, or would it “update” itself to this new, lame decade of pop culture? Afterwards, I think Marco and I both agree that the answer to this was, sadly, “both.”
Marco Sparks: It’s funny that you mention that guy, “Our Asshole,” because the movie (and the series) and him have some frighteningly strong similarities. They’re both works of fiction and at one time they became so real, so amazing. They were strong, clever, passionate, funny, wild, rude, crude, full of attitude, and dripping with verve. Something your parents were uncomfortable to be around but something exciting, something you clung to and enjoyed strongly.It’s about 15 years and three movies later and… My God. Benjie told me the story of our friend, “Our Asshole,” and I felt like crying hearing it. It’s hard to explain just what happened to our friend. He’s married to a “nice” girl – “nice” being in quotations because it needs to be, rather than me saying anything frighteningly honest about her – and has gone fully domestic. But this girl, it’s not like she married our friend and he mellowed over the years. It’s like she’s married to a neutered housecat. Our friend, the Stepford Husband. The guy who used to think that Nic Cage and Bruce Campbell belonged in every movie and who now doesn’t understand what’s funny or interesting about Nic Cage’s recent adventures in New Orleans. I could go on about our friend a little too much here, I think. But like Scream 4, there seems to be no purpose to him anymore. Someone took up the brand and watered it down, then threw the water out. There’s no joy, no passion, no reason for existence.
That might be a little too harsh of a criticism of the movie, but not our friend, because if I was a movie studio executive and you presented this movie to me in script form, I would’ve said, “Hey, this is a great first draft, guys. Can’t wait to see what future drafts bring out of it!”
Benjamin Light: At this point, I think it needs be mentioned that Ehren Kruger can go fuck himself. For the record, Marco and I are of the stance that Scream 1 was better, but Scream 2 was more fun, and we’ve tried to block the Ehren Kruger-written Scream 3 from our memories. What an abortion.
Supposedly Ehren Kruger took a pass at this script, so I’m willing to throw a little benefit of the doubt Kevin Williamson’s way for this. The triple opening — Stab within a Stab within a Scream movie — was a good idea, and almost executed well enough. But it just wasn’t quite there, not quite clever enough. And as a result, I spent most of the rest of the movie wondering in the back of my mind what the Stab 5 with time travel movie would be like.
This didn’t occur to me until later, but I think the main problem here is the movie is trying to be all things to all audiences. People who liked the original Scream would have been fine with a Grosse Point Blank-style look at our characters 10 years later to see how they, and in turn, we have changed. Instead, we get the barest cursory glance at Sidney “reinventing herself as someone other than a victim” and Dewey and Gail having meta marital problems. there’s no time to go deeper, because we have to get introduced to a shitload more characters in the target teen demograph. None of whom really registered at all.
Hayden Panawhatever felt like she was acting in a different movie, Emma Roberts was just there, the geeks were, emphatically, NO RANDY, and the rest were forgettable fodder. There’s no Stu here. No Tatum.
Marco Sparks: Courtney Cox was amazing being herself in this movie (or what I want her to be like in real life, as far as my Courtney Cox fan fiction is concerned, I guess), and interestingly enough, the only character who really felt like themselves, unchanged, stuck in that time capsule of cinema, was Dewey. Wonderfully, I should add.
But you have to wonder: Did David Arquette and Courtney Cox’s marriage implode behind the scenes of this film just to make this shit all that much more META and SELF REFERENTIAL? Cause that would be serious devotion to the craft.
I thought that something interesting might be afoot with the multiple openings to the film, but it just didn’t feel thought out enough. It didn’t feel effortlessly fun enough. Scream was never just mindless fun. There was always something somewhat cerebral about the scary movie games played within it. And Benjie’s right: Scream was good, and Scream 2 was a hell of a lot more fucking fun. But something those movies displayed that’s been lacking in the second two movies in the series were smart set pieces. There’s a kind of seduction game being played with the audience when you’re presented with that set up… a character with a phone alone in a house and you just know that there’s a killer (or two) surrounding them, ready to strike. That dance wasn’t present here.
That said, Scream 4 was a hell of a lot better than Scream 3. Wes Craven seemed to be more with it and there were one or two interesting ideas in Scream 3 (and double that in Scream 4) that just never panned out or just weren’t dealt with at all beyond their introduction. Scream 3 became just another shitty horror movie, the kind that the first two movies would have gladly skewered. Scream 4 at least realized that there was atonement that needed to be made, even if it was shrugging, not sure how to achieve it, as if it’s mere presence alone would trigger the light of 90s nostalgia within us and all would be forgiven.
Benjamin Light: I read or heard somewhere that good writers should avoid using adverbs. To get annoyingly specific on Scream 4: We’ve seen the “scary phone calls in a house” scene done better before. You might remember the film, it’s called Scream. Also, we’ve seen the “stuck in a car that won’t start with the killer hiding outside” scene done better too. See also: Scream (1996, Dimension Films.) The fun thing about these scenes is that it puts you, the viewer, into the mindset of the victim. We know the rules of this game and we must think, ok, what would I do in this situation? And we scream at the screen “no, don’t open the door!” and “ooh, that’s really smart–wait, fuck!” And it’s all very fun and satisfying to watch a film that screams back at you; that plays with your own expectations.
Scream 4 briefly has a little fun in the opening, and when establishing soooo many characters who could be suspects, who could have motives, that you can almost hear Kevin Williamson laughing at you and daring you to guess who the killer is. But, like meeting someone you used to know several years later, the magic just isn’t there. Emma Roberts beating herself up to look like she’s been attacked might be more visually bracing, but nothing will top Billy and Stu stabbing each other in Scream 1. You had just never seen anything like that in a movie before. And like everything else in Scream 4, Emma fucking her shit up is just a lot of More, Now, Again. It’s an old idea, newly executed with more gore, or more twists, or more often. There weren’t that many killings in Scream 1, but all of them were very clever. Here, not so much.
Williamson must know this, as he meta-references reboots and remakes incessantly. And there is definitely some finger-wagging at the end about celeb-reality culture, but it ends up feeling more whiny than anything else, even though I basically agree with him. You can complain all you want about not getting work unless it’s a sequel to your old hit, Kevin, but you still had a chance to take us somewhere new in the genre and you honked it.
Marco Sparks: I feel like if the series had wanted to do something shocking, to have really kicked us off right for a new film, a new decade, a new trilogy, then they probably would’ve killed Neve Campbelle’s Sidney Prescott either right away in this movie or at the end. They probably would’ve let Emma Robert’s niece of the Sidney character indeed get away with the murders at the end. That’s something you would’ve never seen before. And what a message so fitting to this era: Ha ha! Fuck you! In this day and age, the bad guy/girl wins!
But no such luck. Like Benjie said, the introduction to our old favorites and to the new kids is so shallow, so devoid of meat, that you can’t tell for half the movie who the potential killer could be because you just don’t give a fuck. And that annoys me because, honestly, one of the reasons I like slasher films is because they add in that whodunnit quality. It lets the audience interact with the film more and feel like the detective and keep their mind working, constantly turning over clues in their head. But in so many films, Scream 4 included, I’m afraid, the real killer was ultimately bad writing.
It’s funny that Commander Light and I had a lot of the same thoughts on who the killer could be through the film. First choice: Marley Shelton’s (who seems like she hasn’t had an acting job since the 90s, minus an appearance in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse) deputy who went to high school with the gang back in the day and cooks lemon squares for her boss. That is until that weird scene on the stairwell in Sidney’s aunt’s house. That red herring was a little too red. And then fifteen minutes later we both just knew it would be Emma Roberts’ character, probably for a variety of reasons. The biggest for me? That skinny awkward little girl just kept disappearing for no reason at all. Like a killer would. And, as I believe Benjamin Light pointed out to me earlier: The killer always has something to do with Sidney’s family.
If Neve Campbell comes back for a Scream 5 – and I see no reason why she wouldn’t at this point – I really hope that they just do something so ridiculously cartoonish with her character. I can’t see her being tied down to reality anymore, not after having gone through this scenario four times now. It was interesting when she gained a sense of strength and confidence in her safety in the world at the end of Scream 3, so much so that she didn’t have to worry about living behind fake names and locked doors (in fact, she felt comfortable to leave doors open to things like potential sequels), and somewhat interesting about her wanting to rewrite her role in this film, but honestly, where could one go with this character next? Seven people have gone to elaborate means of trying to kill her across four movies now. Unless they have her in a mental hospital in the opening of the next film then I really hope they give her a jet pack and a laser gun. Or let her do some time traveling, like they did in Stab 5.
Back to the killers in this film momentarily: I didn’t see the reveal of Rory Culkin coming just because his character was so badly concocted and so badly delivered in the acting that I just didn’t care, even though I was curious the whole time if they’d resurrect the possible multiple killers angle.
Benjamin Light: They tipped their hand on the two killers a little early. In the scene where Sidney’s aunt President Roslin dies, you see that there must be more than one.
Allison Brie, Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell are all fine actresses who for some reason get short shrifted for boring Emma Roberts and Hayden Panattieerreereeerie (who seems to think she’s in a 40s noir movie). I’m not even going to mention Rory Culkin or the other gay geek, because, as I said before, they are NO RANDY. I felt like I knew Sidney less after this movie than I did after Scream 2. But like Marco said, David Arquette was perfect as Dewey. Would it have been so bad to target your fanbase instead of a demograph and actually make the film about the franchise characters we all know and love?
from here.
Are we taking this too seriously? Probably. Maybe. But like one teen starlet says to another in Scream 4, “You were my 90s!” And it’s true. Marco and I were the perfect teen age for Scream when it dropped. We would probably not be as good of friends as we are if Scream never existed. Our first screenplay was our own attempt to make a Scream-style movie that played with the audience. Imagine my disappointment when I went off to film school to discover that college is not like Randy’s film class in Scream 2 at all. Ah well.
I suppose we wanted Scream 4 to mean something the way Scream 1 did, and it just didn’t get there. But hey, I’ll say this for it, I felt more happy nostalgia to see Dewey than I did seeing our old friend, our old asshole, that new stranger. Seriously. We missed you, Dewey.
Marco Sparks: Yeah, exactly. Dewey was a welcome sight, the one part of this movie that didn’t let you down, even if he spent the whole movie just getting calls that something was going down somewhere else and then driving there off screen. Like Commander Light said, we may be taking this too seriously, partially because the movie takes itself a bit seriously, and partially because I guess we foolishly did want this to mean something to us, to possibly make a comment that would be interesting and important to our lives now as it did back then. Somewhere in those intentions, we became just another part of the body count.
Alison Brie was so great in her role, really lighting up the screen with her presence. Her death scene was the exact opposite of compelling but it was certainly nice to see her character there for the brief time that she was on screen.
Man, you had to feel bad for Anthony Anderson and Adam Brody in this movie. TV stars always get it the worst.
I was reading something a moment ago from Wes Craven talking about after Kevin Williamson left the production of Scream 4 (to go back to The Vampire Diaries) and Ehren Kruger came on, the screenplay, and thus the film, was no longer in Craven’s control. So much became dictated by the studio, which is always good, targeting those demographics rather than worry about story. And yet, you wonder how much of the clutter in the story here could be blamed on Kruger/the Weinsteins and Williamson himself.
Remember how much sense Randy’s rules made in the first Scream and Scream 2. No such luck here. Maybe it’s partly the fault of this current climate we live in, but the new “rules” given here made no sense beyond bullshit plot contrivances. The whole film was like that, like watching the last remaining members of the 90s realizing there decade was over and firing a time capsule into the future, only it landed five years ago and we’re only just seeing it now. The killers are going to videotape themselves committing the crimes? Didn’t we already see that in a movie starring Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett?
At least the film acknowledged the new technologies not present during the 90s. Characters text here. They have flip cameras. You can get an app on your cell phone that does the Ghostface voice! That’s awesome. But somewhere in all of this, as the film “crawls further up its own asshole,” as The Onion’s AV Club actually very accurately put it, you really get the sense that Kevin Williamson/The Voice Of the 90s really hates this twitter age we live in.
Benjamin Light: Williamson may be on to something. Too bad he missed the mark. But seriously Kevin, all will be forgiven if Scream 5 has time travel. Especially if you can time travel back to Scream 2 and bring back Timothy Olyphant.
Marco Sparks: You’ll notice that we’re certainly avoiding a lot of the deeper things that come along with the horror genre. The psychosexual imagery, the phallic weapon, the twisted male gaze and perception of the Final Girl… Instead we’re talking about the 90s and bitching about things like the lack of Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” being used in this film.
I guess that to a certain extent we are, like most children of the 1990s, still stuck there. I don’t know what percentage of us that is, that we left behind there in those halcyon days of acid washed jeans and Color Me Badd and things that were about “nothing” and still contained so much meaning for us, but we’re there, and we’re looking forward at this future and kind of left curious and wondering and fascinated by this strange new world we’re wandering about. That’s not to say that we don’t look back with equal curiosity on the goofy weirdness of the 90s, especially the fashion choices, but perhaps that’s why Scream 4 was such a big deal to us.
It was the return of old friends and beyond that… maybe we were hoping to find a bridge of some sort between back then and now, if you will?
But it’s just a movie and not much of a bridge. As a film on its own, Scream 4 is fine, not great, and not terrible, and very much the fourth entry in a slasher film series that will be twenty years old before you know it. And though it’s hard not to, you can’t go backwards, can’t ever go home again. You can only deal with know and try your best to prepare yourself for the future. Sometimes that just means dreaming of sequels that feature time travel.

The MPDG vs. the Amazing Girl, Heroes vs. BSG, and Kirsten Dunst vs. Kate Hudson.

You just know you want to read this. You just know it.

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The 100 Greatest Moments of Lost, part 5: “I’m sick of lying!!”

We know your LOST BONERS must be huge by this point. Only a little while until the premier. Why don’t we knock out the Top 10 in the meantime, eh?

The 100 Greatest Moments of Lost!

PART FIVE

10. Marco: The “LA X” Premier. Can you feel it? I mean, can you fucking feel it as it gets closer? That beating you hear, those loud insane drums, that’s your heartbeat. That’s the sound of your blood rushing through your body, to your brain, to your genitals, getting you ready as the circles closes tighter and we get near tonight’s premiere episode. I could make it even more surreal for you there, but let’s just say that we’re taking a chance here and saying that THE SHEER EXCITEMENT alone for tonight’s episode, “LA X,” especially after watching that new promo, is in the top ten greatest moments of this show.

9.  Benjamin: The pan over to the plane crash in the Pilot episode.

I don’t want sound like a broken record here, but Lost’s first episode is the best television pilot ever made, and it’s not even close. Who wasn’t floored when the camera panned around some bushes on the beach to show us the carnage of a motherfucking plane crash?

The shot, on just a technical level is superb. Then you throw in the excellent sound editing, the way the noises slowly resolve into screams, and the creepy music.

And the clever camera trickery that at one moment gives us an idyllic beach and the next chaos just around the corner. I don’t think anybody who watched this first 10 minutes of this show changed the channel.

8. Marco: The giant FOUR-TOED FOOT STATUE.

Let me just quote Sayid for a moment here: “I don’t know what’s more disquieting, the fact that the rest of the statue is missing, or that it has four toes…” Exactly. I’m glad that they gave us a lot of glimpses of rest of the statue in season 5, especially in the finale (for the longest time we were like, “OMG, is it Tawaret or Sobek?” Ancient Egyptian God intrigue!)(Team Tawaret won. Go fertility!), and wonderfully, it only confuses us more. But ever since the introduction of this massive mysterious beauty in the season 2 finale, “Live Together, Die Alone,” from the biggest minds to the most infinitesimal, there’s no way you couldn’t have been just a little captivated by this tease.

7. Marco: Eko meets the Monster. From one thing that’s kept audience enthralled for years now to the mother of all mysterious goings on on the Island of Lost: The motherfucking Smoke Monster. In particular, the scene in which it was revealed to us in all it’s bizarre, gorgeous glory there in “The 23rd Psalm,” when it comes screaming out of the jungle to confront Mr. Eko, who merely turns and faces it down, and he doesn’t have the sonic fence that Juliet had in “Left Behind.”

There, as Charlie watches from a tree, Mr. Eko stares into the eye of the black foggy beast, and it seems to stare right back into him, with flashes from his life off the Island appearing in little electrical surges through it’s wisps. And if I just take it there for a moment, this moment alone, with all it’s possible implications that one couldn’t even begin to fully grasp at, gave me a boner.

…and further ignited my hatred of Charlie. I can understand his climbing up into a tree to hide, that makes sense. He’s no Mr. Eko, that’s for damn sure (even though Charlie did have a weird crush on Eko throughout season 2), but what kills me is after the Monster apparently judged Eko okay and left him there in peace (for the time being), how does someone like Charlie not go running back to camp and scream, “OMG, guys, guess what I just saw out there in the jungle? THE MOTHERFUCKER MONSTER is what, and you know what? IT’S MADE OF A NANOTECH-like SWARM OF INTELLIGENT BLACK SMOKE!!!”

Benjamin: Not to defend Charlie, but let’s be honest, if he dude had run back to camp, the rest of the castaways would have been all “yeah, sure, black smoke. Fucking tweaker. Go play some more shitty guitar and stroke it to the pregnant chick, limey.”

Marco: Side query: Do you think that the man in black/the dark man/Jacob’s nemesis/Esau (too many Stephen King references there, sorry) is actually the smoke monster when he’s not taking on the guise of deceased human forms like Locke, Christian, Eko’s brother, Yemi, or Alex? If so, go back and watch the scene between Jacob and his nemesis at the beginning of “The Incident,” and when Jacob asks him if he’s hungry, the man in black merely says, “No thanks, I just ate.”

6: Benjamin: Desmond asks for Penny’s phone number. “I won’t call you, for eight years!” Maybe it’s my own fantasies of disappearing from the world for while, but the wrap up to “The Constant” gets me every single time.

How would you react if an ex demanded your phone number, promising not to call for 8 years and giving you an exact time to expect the phone to ring?

And then, 8 years later after being missing for years, he calls? I love this whole sequence. “Eight years from now, I need to call you. And… I can’t call you if I don’t have your number.”

Des and Penny, who are kind of the heart of the show, finally get their reunion. “I’ll find you!” Penny gasps, crying. If you didn’t get a little misty during this scene then you’re a fucking robot.

5. Benjamin: Jack and Locke’s argument in “Orientation.” “Why do you find it so hard to believe?” “Why do you find it so easy?” “It’s never BEEN EASY!” Three lines of dialog that distill Jack and Locke to their base ideologies.

Our two tortured heroes were perhaps never so honest with each other. If Lost were  movie, this would be its Oscar reel. And I think it gives necessary weight to Locke’s conviction: he’s not just a blind follower, he’s gone through quite a lot to arrive at this moment, but he needs someone else to share it with him.

4. Marco: Locke screams and bangs on the hatch in “Deus Ex Machina” after Boonie dies, and then… the light comes on. The thing about characters like Jack and Locke, the men of science and faith, respectively, isn’t just so much their belief systems, but their failings. Jack represents our very base, very human failings and insecurities. His suffering is so tragic and real, and not unlike the things we can all go through. And Locke, well, Locke is no stranger to similar failings, but he’s also a man looking for answers, for a place in the larger context of the world and what it all means.

And when you begin to scream out big questions to the universe of that nature, you’re bound to be let down, in a much bigger way. You’re going to fall from such a larger height, only in this case, it wasn’t just John’s hopes that took a tumble, it was also Boone, “the sacrifice the Island demanded,” Locke later reasoned. And there, when Locke was at another in a long series of moments of crushing defeat, screaming and banging on the door to the impregnable hatch, essentially asking the universe why he was nothing in it’s eyes, a light from inside comes on. And John Locke, at his very lowest there, is bathed in this new light…

3. Benjamin: Jack’s “Live Together, Die Alone” speech in “White Rabbit.” He wasn’t always the greatest leader. Ok, he usually wasn’t one, but for this shining moment, Jack really was the leader and hero of the castaways. Bonus points for a speech that doesn’t just have to apply to plane crash survivors on an island. If there’s a message in Lost, it’s in this scene.

2. Marco: “Not Penny’s Boat,” from near the end of “Through The Looking Glass.”

So vague, and yet, so heavy with potential meaning are these three words written on Charlie’s hand that he shows to Desmond as the room he’s in fills up with water and he drowns.

Just like Locke can find the light to continue on when he’s literally at his lowest, covered in another man’s blood, these two guys in a thirty year old DHARMA station underwater can find victory snatched away from them at the last possible moment, when they were at their highest. And Desmond can’t really fully know what Charlie meant by that or what he saw/heard to make him convey this message, but he knows what that moment isn’t: the happy ending they were hoping for. Perhaps you can’t cheat fate. Whatever happens, happens. The universe will always course correct, right?

Benjamin: This is my favorite scene in the series. Who would have guessed that a sodding tool like Charlie would go out with the most epic and moving death scene of all. Love the message on his hand, love the understanding that comes between Desmond and Charlie. Crossing himself while he drowns is a beautiful grace note to end the scene.

and here we go. The greatest moment in the history of Lost…

1: Benjamin: Jack’s flashforward revealed in his meeting with Kate at the airport.

This was the moment that forever changed the show. It was an excellent show before this scene, and a legendary one after it. “I’m sick of lying. We made a mistake… We were not supposed to leave,” Jack pleads to Kate.

The twist isn’t just neat on a plot level, it’s devastating on an emotional one. We learn that they did make it off the Island, but rather than triumph, somehow it’s all gone terribly wrong. It didn’t just feel like a glimpse into our characters’ futures, it felt like a warning about our own. What awaits our heroes isn’t rescue but tragedy. Narratively, it’s genius, and the kind of story-telling structure they’ll be teaching in writing classes in 20 years.

After this flashforward, we not only had the excitement of the events on the Island, we got a peeks into the future at lives torn asunder, and on top of every other mystery in the show, the question of how did it all go so wrong to end up like it did at the airport, a drugged up Jack, completely bottomed-out, screaming “We have to go back, Kate! WE HAVE TO GO BACK!!!”

Counterforce at the movies: Best of the decade.

Or…

TEN! TEN! YEAARRSS!”

50 films we won’t forget:

by Benjamin Light and Marco Sparks

In no particular order…

Let me repeat that, since there’s always some asshole who doesn’t read it the first time and whines about movie x over movie z: these are in no particular order.

◊ ◊ ◊

High Fidelity

Benjamin: A movie about guys who love making top 5 lists, in a big top 50 list. How meta. The opening lines sum it up:

What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

◊ ◊ ◊

The Departed

Benjamin: My favorite thing about this film is the way it’s edited together almost as one long montage rather than a simple scene-to-scene cut. Mark Wahlberg is stunningly good. He and the other young actors were so good that Jack Nicholson actually got kind of ignored by the critics. Which is amazing. My favorite lines: “Just fucking kill me.” “I am killing you.”

Marco: Great film, great direction, great acting, just something fantastic and raw. I feel like a more talented person than I could make a serious gender studies write up with this movie because you literally have every kind of man in it.

◊ ◊ ◊

Children Of Men

Benjamin: Makes the list for the two tracking shots alone. Managed to capture the post 9/11 zeitgeist without pandering to it.

Y’know that ringing in your ears? That ‘eeeeeeeeee’? That’s the sound of the ear cells dying, like their swan song. Once it’s gone you’ll never hear that frequency again. Enjoy it while it lasts.

◊ ◊ ◊

Donnie Darko

Benjamin: Richard Kelly did everything he could to make me want to strike this from the list, but the original theatrical cut still works. Just because the hot topic kids jumped all over this and the director re-cut it in the most obvious and hackish way possible doesn’t make my old first run DVD any less good. And as a bonus, it’s got Maggie Gyllenhaal before she hit menopause.

◊ ◊ ◊

Once

Benjamin: I’ll be honest, I tried watching this once (sic) for five minutes and found I would need subtitles to continue. Marco?

Marco: The sum is more than the whole and it’s a slow build up, but before you know it, you’re immersed in the gradual easy attraction of this busker and the immigrant and their mutual love of music. Their real life story is a bit weirder, but not scandalous, and hey, whatever. Life is weirder, and this movie feels more realistic as if you there in the grime and poverty and creative joy with them.

◊ ◊ ◊

Cache

Marco: What you take out of life is about how you perceive it and even scarier than that, the the thing we never ask ourselves is: What do others see when they see us. Haneke, who’s no stranger to strong, controversial filmmaking, gives us a very raw, paranoid movie here about a French couple who start receiving video tapes of themselves. There’s much you could say about this film and I feel it’s one that people will come back to more and more in the years to come. It feels like the kind of cinema I’d like to see Hitchcock making if he was alive today.

◊ ◊ ◊

Traffic

Benjamin: I think we all remember the same thing from this film: the Erika Christiansen “gettin fucked” POV cam. Also, it nicely exposed the general pop to the harsh realities of the war on drugs. Then we all watched for a whole decade while the reality got worse.

◊ ◊ ◊

Mulholland Drive

Marco: This is a film you watch once, enjoy it or not, but after that, it’s no longer a film. It lives inside you, hovering just over you, out of the corner of your eye, always just out of sight. It’ll influence your dreams and always feel like the cold fingers of a dead man crawling up your spine for a gentle caress. And it’s beautiful and perfect, too.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Prestige

Benjamin: The Plot, the Turn, and the Prestige. It’s hard not to like the clockwork structure of this film. Plus, it has Tesla in it, and Tesla invented half the new technology in the 2000s.

Marco: I think it was actually Benjamin Light who saw this before me and convinced me to see it (not that I needed much convincing). “How was it?” I asked. “Not bad at all,” he said. “It’s got magicians trying to fuck each other over and a mad scientist and-” “I’m sold,” I said. Easily one of the strongest, smartest movies of the decade. And secretly one of the most fun.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Dark Knight

Marco: “Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

Benjamin: Probably the most important film of the decade. No, seriously. The Dark Knight took the soul of America to the brink of post-9/11 despair, and then pulled us back a few feet and let us stare out into the abyss. Anarchy has never seemed so terrifyingly seductive. There’s a reason this film made shitloads of money, and it’s got nothing to do with bat-arrangs and secret identities. This was America’s acceptance stage.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Others

Benjamin: My favorite horror film of the decade, and so much more worthy of praise than the Sixth Sense.

Marco: We’ve talked about how few filmmakers can really produce actual, real dread in their movies, the kind you can feel floating around in your blood with you, or a that constant presence out of the corner of your eye. This had that, plus that feeling of gripping your knees or fingernails digging into your armrests and your teeth grinding. And I’d hate to ever review based on its twist, but this movie’s? Perfect.

◊ ◊ ◊

There Will Be Blood

Marco: The perfect horror movie to precede a recession.

Benjamin: Perhaps the only way to show the sociopathic urges of unchecked capitalism is to embody it in a man.

You’re not my son. You’re just a little piece of competition.

◊ ◊ ◊

Lost In Translation

Marco: Too often are own lives drift towards being half asleep, confused, and having a shoegaze soundtrack. Bill Murray and ScarJo do this one easily, with charm and grace. Some movies need helicopter chases and explosions and lots of shouting to be something, and then there’s movies like this: It starts with a plane landing and ends with a plane taking off and in between it’s just two people.

Benjamin: Just like honey. Watched this at 3am drinking zima. Hit me like a cement truck and I knew I wasn’t a kid anymore. I would go so far as to throw the adjective ‘timeless’ at this film.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Royal Tenenbaums

Benjamin: A nice little gift to Salinger fans. It can’t be easy to pastiche the aesthetic of J.D. while still maintaining your own style, but Wes Anderson did it.

◊ ◊ ◊

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Benjamin: True story: I once set up my roommate with a girl I used to live with in college. They broke up half a year later. The day they broke up, me and the girl and a few other guys went to see this film. I asked the girl: are you sure you feel like seeing this? And she said no, it’s ok, I’m fine. So we saw it, then went to IHOP afterwards for some dinner. A couple minutes after we sit down in our booth, the girl just totally breaks down, completely devastated. That’s the kind of film this is.

◊ ◊ ◊

Before Sunset

Benjamin: As much as I dislike Richard Linklater, I really do like this film and its predecessor. Would these movies be 10 times better with a different male lead actor? I think so.

Marco: Yeah, I think you can see so very much of Ethan Hawke’s own personal story within the film, especially when his character talks about his off screen wife. But that’s art. There’s something wonderful about the world of Jesse and Celine, something that’s perfect to watch as they reconnect and get past themselves to each other. I wouldn’t mind a return visit to their world.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Hurt Locker

Marco: One of the most tense movies that I’ve seen in a while, and one of the most effortlessly strong ones as well. Kathryn Bigelow knows how to make intellectually muscular movies that don’t shy away from action in the slightest. Compare this to Peter Berg’s The Kingdom for poof that Bigelow shouldn’t wait another 8 years to make another movie and that Berg should.

◊ ◊ ◊

WALL-E

Benjamin: Only Pixar could make a CGI movie about robots with more heart and soul than nearly every live-action film of the year. Wall-E and E-va’s “dance” through space was the work of true artists. Also, E-va always reminds me of Peanut St. Cosmo.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Lives Of Others

Marco: I wonder now if this movie would make a good double bill with Cache… Hmm. Regardless, this is an interesting movie, so very quiet but heavy, about how Big Brother really is watching you. They know everything about you, all of your plots, your secret desires, and soon your privacy will become theirs.

◊ ◊ ◊

V For Vendetta

Benjamin: In retrospect, it’s amazing this movie ever got made during the Bush years, even if it is set in England. The whole film is just a complete rebuke of post 9/11 America.

How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

◊ ◊ ◊

Synechdoche, New York

Marco: One of the most depressing movies I have ever seen. Charlie Kaufman tackles life and getting old and dealing with your mistakes through an abstract eye, bulky with dream logic, but you can’t help but embody the Phillip Seymour Hoffman character’s sadness. And through the characters, your own. This one stuck with me for a while and, honestly, I think I’m glad it’s so misunderstood and underrated. It feels like my pain and I’m glad I can hold onto it just a little bit longer, just for me.

◊ ◊ ◊

Let The Right One In

Benjamin: It seems like you can never go wrong with a snowy setting, cinematically speaking. This film reminded me in some ways of “The Shining.” Mostly in how there are long stretches of antiseptic dread between moments of shocking gore. and I always appreciate a film that portrays children as the soulless sociopaths that they are.

Marco: Seriously. And this film is just gorgeous, and slick as any Hollywood remake could hope to be (but more on that later). There’s warmth in the cold here, nuance in the horror, and amazingly, I find myself still debating aspects of the ending with people.

◊ ◊ ◊

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Benjamin: There were a ton of Crouching Tiger knock-offs after Ang Lee’s film won the Foreign Film Oscar, but none could touch the real thing. There is a fierceness to Zhang Ziyi’s performance that takes what was already an excellent adventure drama to the next level. And it wasn’t the wire-work and martial arts that made this film special, it was the way Lee used them to tell a somewhat timeless story.

◊ ◊ ◊

Munich

Benjamin: The scene that always stuck with me from this film was the hit on the female assassin. Her sadness in  knowing she’s about to die, that nothing she can say or do will save her. And then, after being shot, walking all the way to her chair to sit down before taking a breath and bleeding out. When Spielberg wants to, nobody puts a more haunting portrayal of realistic violence on the screen than him. And he might be the only man alive with the clout and stature to make this film without getting savaged on all sides.

◊ ◊ ◊

Brick

Marco: This film should not work nearly as well as it does, but it does. A lot of wild elements combine wonderfully, glued in by strong vision and good actors. Every time I watch this, I find myself intoxicated by the language.

Benjamin: Joseph Gordon-Levitt goes from being the kid from 3rd Rock to the next great hope of American acting. Film Noir in High School; perhaps a precursor to Veronica Mars. Gordon-Levitt’s nervy performance makes eyeglass cases and library research seem totally bad-ass. And the noir dialog is killer.

Brendan Frye: All right, you got me. I’m a scout for the Gophers. Been watching your game for a month, but that story right there just clenched it. You got heart kid. How soon can you be in Minneapolis?

Brad Bramish: Yeah?

Brendan Frye: Cold winters, but they got a great transit system.

Brad Bramish: Yeah?

Brendan Frye: Yeah.

Brad Bramish: Oh, yeah?

Brendan Frye: There’s a thesaurus in the library. Yeah is under “Y”. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

◊ ◊ ◊

Serenity

Benjamin: A movie that should have been about 5 times more popular than it was. There’s really not much not to like. Just an excellent, original sci-fi adventure film with engaging characters, fun action scenes and an intelligent message at its core. “I’m a leaf on the wind.” Poor Wash.

◊ ◊ ◊

Gosford Park

Benjamin: A “classic British murder mystery” that’s much more concerned with the crumbling traditions of Class in England. The dry English wit is razor sharp without ever calling attention to itself.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Ring

Benjamin: The first, and perhaps only, successful American translation of the J-Horror movement. I thought the atmosphere and all the cold blue hues of the pacific northwest really made the movie. Like “The Others,” this film was genuinely creepy and unnerving to watch. A taut little thriller of slowly-building dread.

◊ ◊ ◊

(500) Days Of Summer

Marco: A mature look at an immature ideal of love. This is a slick film, ideal viewing for anyone who’s ever been in love, thought they were in love, washed out of a relationship that still keeps them guessing, or just likes well produced, well acted movies. There’s an awesome top ten list of films for romantics out there and this is on it.

Benjamin: I’ve already reviewed this elsewhere, so I’ll just say that I really liked this film and look forward to the director’s next project.

Marco: Which may or may not be a reboot of the Spiderman franchise? Benjie and I have suggesting Joseph Gordon-Levitt as worthy of taking of Heath Ledger’s Joker mantle for a while now, but JGL as Peter Parker? I’d more than buy that.

◊ ◊ ◊

In The Mood For Love

Marco: One of the most visually beautiful and emotionally resonant movies I’ve ever been lucky enough to see. Calls back to an era of filmmaking that is not only romantic and sweeping, but in which characters had integrity.

◊ ◊ ◊

Bad Santa

Benjamin: Would I like this movie less if I hadn’t seen it opening day in a crowded theater half-full of middle-aged patrons who had no idea what it was actually about? Maybe, but this was one of my most enjoyable movie-going experiences ever. “I’m really sorry Grandma, I didn’t know it was going to be like this.” The scene where everyone is punching each other in the balls made us all laugh way too hard.

Marco: This movie will ensure that “you don’t shit right for a week.” But only the “January 2003 Pasadena test screening cut.”

◊ ◊ ◊

Mean Girls

Benjamin: Yay Tina Fey! Once upon a time, speaking Fey’s dialog, Lindsay Lohan looked like she was going to be the can’t miss superstar actress of her generation. There’s kind of an amazing collection of young talent in this quirky little film about Girls. Who would have predicted that Lizzy Caplan would grow up to be the hottest of them all? I once made a comment that 10 Things I Hate About You was the last honest teen movie, but then Mean Girls came along and gave the decade at least one shining example of the genre.

◊ ◊ ◊

Pirates of the Caribbean

Benjamin: Forget the over-stuffed, unessential, paycheck-cashing sequels. Before parts two and three made a muddle of everything, the first Pirates movie was shockingly entertaining. Due in no small part, I think, to Geoffrey Rush’s bravado performance. When he actually yells “ARRRRGGGHHH!!” at Keira Knightly, it’s so genuine that you can’t help but smile. “Bring me that Horizon.”

Sidebar — Gore Verbinski is on this list twice for two entirely different movies. Isn’t it about time a studio let him make a vanity project instead of just throwing franchises at him?

◊ ◊ ◊

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Benjamin: A lot of people didn’t like the “happy” ending to this movie when it came out. Never mind how bleak the ending really is. Gigalo Joe: “I am. …I was.”

Marco: This movie and Munich are really the most mature movies that Spielberg has ever made and, to me, they’re perfect. Do they have flaws here and there? Yeah, sure. But they’re perfect because of them, speaking to my nerdy, pulpy heart.

◊ ◊ ◊

Memento

Benjamin: Memento came out right at the start of the decade when there was a little quicksilver running in the veins of so many promising young directors. A tight, clockwork little story that turns the simple tactic of a reverse edit into a brilliant exposition on memory and identity.

◊ ◊ ◊

Closer

Benjamin: Peanut loves this movie. It’s hard to top Clive Owen growling, “Because I’m a fucking caveman!” followed by “Like you, but sweeter.”

Marco: “Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist, WRAPPED IN BLOOD! Go fuck yourself! You writer! You liar!”

Benjamin: Fuck yeah!

◊ ◊ ◊

X2: X-Men United

Benjamin: A thoroughly enjoyable comic book film that works on many levels. Finally a film that didn’t seem afraid of its characters’ super-powers.

Marco: Bryan Singer was on to something here, definitely, the idea that a comic book or genre movie can be fun and true to it’s source material, though not a slave to it, but more importantly, can treat it seriously, let it be complicated, and very human. And then Christopher Nolan took those notions and dragged them into the gritty real world.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

Benjamin: Saw this with Peanut and August on Christmas day. Thought it was “just decent” at the time and I like it more every time I’ve watched it since. “I wonder if it remembers me?” is a fantastic line, but I think my favorite moment in this movie is right after Steve meets Ned the first time. He makes some small talk and then excuses himself and runs to the bow of the ship to have a minor freak out. Such a true to life moment.

Marco: “OK, man.”

◊ ◊ ◊

I Heart Huckabees

Benjamin: Jude Law plays an American Asshole disturbingly well. The Mayo Story is one of those painful, can’t look away, show-stoppers.

Marco: The kind of smart, “quirky” cinema that I feel like mainstream audiences should have more exposure to. Also, “how am I not myself?”

◊ ◊ ◊

The Fountain

Benjamin: The “present day” search for cancer cure parts stick with me the most.

Marco: There’s something so beautiful about the tragedy in this movie, and I think the splintered storytelling reflects that, how in these situations where life seems to be ripping apart in front of us, we’re stuck in the past, we’re stuck in the present, and we’re dreaming of a future where we’re not so damn helpless. I don’t think this movie has it all figured out, kind of like life, and I like to hear people’s theories about, espeically since this isn’t for everyone. As for me, the future stuff? Clearly that’s the last chapter of the book, right?

◊ ◊ ◊

Juno

Benjamin: Ellen Page FTW! It’s hard to fully put into words why I enjoyed this movie so much, but thought “Knocked Up” was shit. Diablo Cody’s script is over-written, but Jason Reitman managed to breath tons of humanity into a relatively standard story-line. I suppose it works because it’s ultimately not a story about pregnancy, but a story about growing up.

◊ ◊ ◊

Sideways

Benjamin: A depressing, yet hopeful little story about coming to terms with having your dreams crushed.

◊ ◊ ◊

The Incredibles

Benjamin: Pixar does comic book meta-jokes and puts most other comic-to-film adaptations to shame.

◊ ◊ ◊

Cloverfield

Marco: Again, another movie that shouldn’t work nearly as well as it did (for me, anyway). This is part innovative monster flick, and, to me, part new way of exposing the mass audience to an arthouse flick. The new wave turned into a monster crushing the happy little lives of a bunch of well to do twentysomethings in New York. And all of it dripping out of the magic mystery box that is J. J. Abram’s brain.

Benjamin: A brisk, fun little monster movie that never runs out of clever ways to exploit it’s first-person POV format. After a decade of almost all remakes, sequels or adaptations, it was nice to see something new and creative on the screen.

◊ ◊ ◊

Inside Man

Benjamin: Warner Bros.’ formula of star actors and high concepts works perfectly here. Spike Lee shows us with this and the 25th hour that he works better when he’s only got one foot on the soapbox. This is the kind of taught little thriller that you can recommend to nearly anyone. And if they don’t like it, they must have no taste at all.

Marco: People who tell me that they didn’t get this movie make me laugh a little. Everyone brings their A game to this sleek beast, and there’s enough fascinating stuff going on here to fill up at least a season or two of quality television.

◊ ◊ ◊

Star Trek

Benjamin: An all-around enjoyable movie that stands out for an excellent opening sequence and the fact that it was surrounded by total dogshit competition in the summer of 09.

Marco: You may definitely have to turn your brain off for parts of it, but it won’t disappoint in that regard, though I feel like it’s almost like watching the cast of Cloverfield (you could make the argument that every J.J. Abrams joint, aside from Lost, features “the cast of Cloverfield” in form or shape) taking on Romulans, time and space, copious amounts of lens flares, and one of the oldest American sci fi franchises out there. You’re right, Commander Light, last year really was the year of time travel.

◊ ◊ ◊

American Psycho

Benjamin: Makes the list for its first half; act 3 gets a little shaggy. But meeting Patrick Bateman and seeing him go about his lifestyle is required viewing.

Marco: I feel like there’s a whole generation who watched this film and realized that there was really something sick out there in the world, and that if you were to take a step or two back from it and appreciate it for what it was worth, the sickness was also hilarious. The beginning of Christian Bale’s understanding and assault on the satire and attire of the young, rich, professional American male.

◊ ◊ ◊

Atonement

Benjamin: It’s Ian McEwan, but it reminded me in a lot of ways of a Margaret Atwood story. For people who like to write, the ending may hit you harder than others.

Marco: Writers love to fall back on the idea of a writer character, someone to massage out all of your flaws and let you hide from your sins in a perfect world of your own devising, and I love that aspect of this, amongst many other things. Words and stories can damn us or save us, and I love that the sounds of a typewriter are even used as percussion and soundtrack here.

◊ ◊ ◊

Brokeback Mountain

Benjamin: An Asian guy makes an American film about gay cowboys. And it works, seriously. I think Ang Lee was successful because he told a story about characters who happened to be gay instead of camping it up and trying to force the audience into a queer viewing experience like some hack film school grad would try to do.

◊ ◊ ◊

Star Wars: Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith

Benjamin: Fuck the haters, I’d still rather watch the final duel set-pieces in this than the action scenes in any other big-budget effects movie made this decade.

And the honorable mentions:

Half Nelson

Quantum Of Solace

The Contender

Primer

Morvern Callar

Wet Hot American Summer

28 Weeks Later

Up in the Air

Eastern Promises

Mission Impossible 3

Gangs of New York

Up

The 25th Hour

Syriana

Hard Candy

Idiocracy

Michael Clayton

Ghost World

No Country For Old Men

The past ten years have been an interesting one in film. We’ve had to sit through a lot of really stupid shit, but with it has come some truly excellent cinema. Most likely a lot of the trends we’ve hated will continue in the next ten years, but let’s hope they’re tempered with the same level of quality we’ve seen here.

Baby, I’d be lost without you.

Counterforce would like to wish you a happy Valentine’s Day.

Or a happy Single Awareness Day. Or a happy Hallmark card, candy, and flowers and edible undies and sex toys day. Whatever your style is there, really.

Whether it’s just you alone with some music or stranded on a desert island with someone special…

We hope you have a very lovely and incredible day.

Just know that you’ll be in our thoughts. And we do mean sexually.