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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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26. Board Game: Murder Mystery Party: Intrigue At Sparkling Water [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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A Soldier's Story (1984)

At first I was afraid this would be a cheap retread of In the Heat of the Night, but it was quite a different story. Like most of the mysteries I enjoy, it concentrates less on the bland idea of "who did it" and instead is more interested in motivation. Adolph Caesar's performance was superb and his character, a black man at once self-loathing and bent on improvement, is among the best put to film.

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27. Board Game: Evolutions [Average Rating:4.17 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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Altered States (1980)


Interesting blend of science fiction, horror, and philosophy. You don't hear about that mixture too often! Entertaining and stimulating, although Ken Russel's visual touches are a bit too much at times. Still, this proves he was a talented director who mostly wasted his abilities.


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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 Fall (2006)

At first it might seem like a cross between The Princess Bride and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, since it is a tall fantasy tale told at a bedside. However, this is a unique film that stands on it own by showing how fantasy and reality effect each other and do not exist in a bubble. It also shows the limits of storytelling as a means of healing, a theme rarely explored in films such as this. My only gripe is that it drags a bit in the middle and the stop-motion scene seemed out of place.

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29. Board Game: Love it or Hate it [Average Rating:4.30 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 Shop Around the Corner (1940)

This was a romantic comedy I actually enjoyed. One reason was the acting from the entire cast. They made the supporting characters distinct and entertaining. Ultimately though, I'm a Jimmy Stewart fan, and he was on top of his game here.

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30. Board Game: How to Host a Murder: The Watersdown Affair [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:6018]
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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Cassandra's Dream (2007)

Woody Allen's morality yarns about murder, such as Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point, always interest me. Part of the reason is because each deals with a different variable that affects action, such as luck in Match Point. In this case it is not just the nature of morality but how the family helps and hurts in this situation. Also the film is well acted and directed, but it did drag a bit in some parts.


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31. Board Game: Immortals of Change [Average Rating:7.00 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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Orlando (1993)

Beautiful and thoughtful film, in which the movement from one period to another is shown through speech and visual style. I'd give it a perfect rating but the ending was sloppy. The theme of gender in this film is very Simone de Beauvoir, as opposed to the recent trend in biological explanations for gender differences. I think biology is being overplayed, which is yet another reason why I liked this film. Oh, and Swinton heads a perfect cast.

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32. Board Game: Battle of the Bands [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:7222]
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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Heavy Metal in Baghdad (2007)

Absorbing documentary about Iraq's only heavy metal band, Acrassicauda, and their struggles in the post-Saddam world. Never gets preachy and never losses focus on the band. However, it really brings home the tragedy of the war in way that goes beyond statistics and America's tendency to weight the war's losses strictly in American terms.

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33. Board Game: Hollywood Players [Average Rating:4.60 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 Player (1992)

Robert Altman's comeback film is one of those multi-layered works that could have been a confusing mess, but instead clicks. On one level you have a mystery thriller, but on another is an examination of the way in which Hollywood operates and what the film business entails. This critique of Hollywood is made stronger by Altman's long career in television and film and his ability to criticize his characters but withhold annoying moral judgments. There are all sorts of film tricks to delight the movie lover. Probably holds the record for most cameos.

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34. Board Game: Strong Stuff! [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:4323]
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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Bigger, Stronger, Faster (2008)

One of those film's that exposes the high level of bullshit in America, in this case steroids, which the filmmaker shows as relatively harmless in of themselves. The real danger is the society that created them and the fact that Americans are obsessed with winning and losing, as if the two are black and white in terms of results. It also shows the ways in which technology and genetics are changing the nature of sports and that the future of sports might be scientific augmentation spurned by the competitive, winner take all culture of America. Chris Bell uses the Michael Moore style, but never goes over the top in the way that sometimes makes Moore annoying.

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35. Board Game: Doll House Game [Average Rating:0.00 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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Coraline (2009)

This film proves that stop-motion is far from dead. The film sometimes feels like an exhibition of stop motion techniques, but all of the show and glam does not obscure the inherent and growing creepiness of the story. The villain was fascinating, an example of selfishness and license disguised as love.

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36. Board Game: An Evening of Murder: Resort to Murder [Average Rating:7.00 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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In Cold Blood (1967)

Superbly shot and scored film that was stylistically ahead of its time. Some scenes are muddled, and like the book the film does drag, but overall this is another triumph from Richard Brooks, one of Hollywood's best and most underrated directors.

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37. Board Game: Heavy Metal L-Gaim [Average Rating:6.00 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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Heavy Metal (1981)

An over the top animated film featuring science fiction stories, usually with fantasy, noir, and horror elements throw in. Not every story works, but I dug it in all its unabashed pulp, including violence, nudity, and WWII pilots who become zombies. The story segment featuring Den, voiced by the great John Candy, was my favorite.

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38. Board Game: When Darkness Comes: The Most Dangerous Game [Average Rating:6.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.08 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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13 Tzameti (2005)

Started very slow; in fact I almost gave up, but I was glad I didn't because this film packs a wallop. The cinematography is appropriately bleak, and the situation is disturbing enough. With the actors playing it straight and the director maintaining a mood of hopelessness, this film comes together.

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39. Board Game: Big Bully [Average Rating:2.00 Unranked]
 
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
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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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My Bodyguard (1980)

I liked this film, partially because I found it funny, but also because it has genuine heart. Mostly the sappy scenes work because of the actors. Ruth Gordon, Joan Cusack, and Matt Dillon are effective in each of their roles, even though each role is almost a walking stereotype. However, it is Adam Baldwin, as the loner turned bodyguard, who holds this film together.

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40. Board Game: Jupiter [Average Rating:6.08 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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2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)

Not the classic that the original is but very good. The ideas might not be as grand, but in terms of visuals it is almost the equal of the original. Actually it greatly surpasses 2001 in the acting and excitement department, not that was a difficult achievement. In the end 2001[i/] is a hard act to follow, but [i]2010 does it by being different from the original, but also expanding upon the plot and themes of Kubrick's masterpiece.

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41. Board Game: Iron Man Battling Card Game [Average Rating:6.05 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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Iron Man (2008)

Very good action film, that unlike too many of its contemporaries, knows when to not take itself seriously. It has humor, good action sequences, nice dramatic touches, a veteran cast, and some great details like his suit icing up. Best part was the jet fighters; worst was Jeff Bridges in a miscast role.

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42. Board Game: Dark Eden [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:6531]
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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Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

A visual feast, this is an entertaining and original sequel, which is itself a rarity. All that holds it back is some goofy moments and the fact that, outside of the awesome Thunderdome battle, the action scenes were better in the first two movies. This film does have a kind of poetry that was understandably absent in the other films, and this is one of the reasons I consider it a worthy successor.

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43. Board Game: Murder at the Juice Joint [Average Rating:0.00 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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Juice (1992)

It might look like another black gangster film of the 1990s. What set this one apart is the excellent acting and tight cinematography. If anything is holding this film back, it is the loose editing. The ending is one of the most powerful I've ever seen.

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44. Board Game: Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:531]
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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Erik the Viking (1989)

This film was such a flop both commercially and critically that I was expecting utter crap. Instead I found this movie to be an excellent member of a sub-genre I enjoy: the comedy epic. It even managed to be a bit thoughtful at times. I loved some of the historical jokes, particularly those involving early Christianity.

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45. Board Game: Chase [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:2455]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
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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 Sugarland Express (1974)

Spielberg's stab at 1970s drama is a good effort even if it is a bit too long. Acting is strong throughout, there are some good laughs at the beginning, and John Williams provides an atypical but effective musical score. The last shot is one of those simple but beautiful images that directors as of late have forgotten how to do. Taking the point of view of the police as well as the criminals kept this from being overly derivative.

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46. Board Game: Irish Checkers [Average Rating:0.00 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 Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006)

A war movie about an idealistic youth in the midst of the Irish war for independence and the civil war that followed. Very well made and aided by fine acting and direction that doesn't get flashy and pretentious, but in essence lets the story tell itself. It also illustrates that once you start killing, you'll keep killing to validate your earlier acts of violence.

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47. Board Game: I-Spy [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:0.00 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?
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The Lives of Others (2006)

Well made film in which the characters are developed and drive the action in ways that are realistic and interesting. I didn't get into the film as deeply as some people I know, but I understand why it is highly regarded. Nothing was flawed in this film.

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48. Board Game: French Chatter [Average Rating:3.00 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?
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Shoot the Piano Player (1960)

A good example of the French New Wave. Amusing and tight in its plotting, but also an excellent character study. While better films have been made, few have seemed as complete as this one; not a shot was wasted.

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49. Board Game: Think: Cocktail [Average Rating:6.50 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?
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Arthur (1981)

Why would I like a romantic comedy like this? Maybe because it avoided several of the cliches, like women choosing pathetic poor men. Here the male is genuinely lovable, but certainly a pathetic rich boy. I like romantic situations involving strange people. They are closer to my heart and infinitely more entertaining.

As a drinker, I found Roger Ebert's thoughts on this film enlightening:
"You might be tempted to think that Arthur would be a bore, because it is about a drunk who is always trying to tell you stories. You would be right if ARTHUR were a party and you were attending it. But Arthur is a movie. And so its drunk, unlike real drunks, is more entertaining, more witty, more human, and more poignant than you are. He embodies, in fact, all the wonderful human qualities that drunks fondly, mistakenly believe the booze brings out in them."

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50. Board Game: Avalon [Average Rating:5.08 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
Avalon (1990)

The opening scene is superb then the film gets dull and cliché. I was going to turn it off and then a turning point came and it took off. This is a film about why American families, once large and supportive, became instead separate entities only loosely allied. Levinson contends that the 1950s, by introducing Television, suburbs, and immediate gratification, spurned this decline and that the cost of such material rewards was a collapse in family. I cannot disagree with him and the final scene in the nursing home caps it all off. The melancholy I felt was because of both the characters and the world we have, for better and worse, lost.

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