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Film Club of the Air: Best and Worst of 2010

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Our Film Club critics will weigh in on the best and worst movies of 2010 and explain the big stories from the year in film.

Our Film Club critics will weigh in on the best and worst movies of 2010 and explain the big stories from the year in film.

Beth Accomando is the KPBS film critic and author of the blog Cinema Junkie.

Scott Marks is the author of the film blog Emulsion Compulsion.

Anders Wright is the film critic for San Diego CityBeat.

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, you're listening to These Days in San Diego. Every year, the movies bring us at least one breakout performance or ensemble tour de force. Each year an unlikely film with not much of a budget winds up on many best of lists, and other just go bust. And there always seems to be a film that just about everyone agrees is fabulous, and others that are worth fighting over. On this edition of the KPBS film club of the air, we assess the movies of 2010, the great ones, the almost grit, and a few of the awful. Plus we'll talk about the trends in movies coming up this year. I'd like to welcome my bests, Beth Accomando is KPBS film critic, author of the bog, Cinema Junkie. Good morning, Beth.

ACCOMANDO: Good morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Scott Marks, author of the film blog, emulsioncompulsion.com. Scott, good morning.

MARKS: Happy new year, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Happy new year. And Anders Wright, film critic for San Diego City Beat. Hello.

WRIGHT: Nice to see you Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: We'd like our listeners to join this film club of the air. What is your best movie of the year and why? Did you disagree with critics and love a movie that got panned, or did you hate something that got praised? Give us a call with your questions and comment at 1-888-895-5727, that's 1-888-895-KPBS. Well, before we get to the lists, I want to see -- hear a round table about whether or not this was a good year in movies, what do you think, Anders?

WRIGHT: You know, I would have to say it was a fairly lack luster year in movies. In general, it's exactly what you said, there are two or three or four movies that really sort of stand out as being something very special and very different. And I don't think we really saw those this year. The movies that really kind of stood out from the rest of the pack as being something unusual. It seemed as though the things people were really talking about were sequels or animated films or remakes. And it just didn't feel like there was a lot that was fresh going on.

CAVANAUGH: And Beth?

ACCOMANDO: I just didn't feel like there were as many films to get really excited about.

WRIGHT: Yeah, yeah.

ACCOMANDO: And there were a lot more films piling up at my bottom list than at the top of my list. So it just like it wasn't an exciting year. It's fun when you go to films and just right away, you know this is a film that's so great, and I love it, and it's a film that you really feel it's gonna stand the test of time and will be on your ten best list years from now. But I didn't feel that wildly excited about as many films as I would have liked. And again, the bottom list was just growing and growing.

CAVANAUGH: Now, I know Scott that you don't think this was a very good year in movies.

MARKS: It's not that. I saw a lot of good movie this is year. It's just the highs weren't high enough, and the lows were really rock bottom. I mean, the quality of the bad films that came out this year is actually astonishing. I mean, jaw dropping just how ignorant and cine-illiterate some of these films are. So, I take three our four films away from this year that are masterpieces, but that's not really -- I saw close 300 hundred.

CAVANAUGH: Why do you think made it sort of a lackluster year?

MARKS: That's a really hard -- I mean, one, I still think that we're slaves to nine-year-old children. I don't think we're dona be done with that for a long time to come. We still have nor X men, we still have the green hornet, they're still gonna be producing this comic book garbage. And you know something, if they made intelligent comic book films, I wouldn't be having this discussion. If everything was like Gremlins or something like that, or Superman 2. These are great movies, I think that's a problem. And I also think the whole on demand and NetFlix and things like that. Home theaters are killing the movie industry.

CAVANAUGH: Really.

WRIGHT: I don't know if I totally agree with that. I think that really what it is, it's exactly that, the bad movies are just getting worse and worse. And there aren't that many good movies of I feel like frequently you'd go see a movie that you knew wasn't gonna be that good, and it was so terrifically bad, and so often you see these big Hollywood productions that just feel like products, more than anything else. There's no creativity there, it's sort of, like, how can we lower the quality to appeal to the most people as possible? And luckily, for most of us, some of those movies tanked too. So hopefully they've learned something.

CAVANAUGH: Now one of the other trends, to go back to what you were saying, Scott, big home theatre systems and the availability of web streaming, really starting to hurt the box office. Box office numbers were done for this year.

ACCOMANDO: But I don't think hurting the box office necessarily means that you're getting worse films coming out. I think the home streaming and the on demand can actually in the long run open it up to a lot more independent film makers and people who are making films on smaller budgets and getting those films to an audience in a way that they couldn't get in a regular theatre. So I think that the potential for some much more interesting films of greater diversity is out there with the on demand and NetFlix and the streaming.

MARKS: But there's also the thing, why should we leave our house? We can see the same film that opens on a Friday in our living room, we'll have forty people over, we'll charge them a buck a piece. And it don't cost anything.

WRIGHT: But there are some movies that are never gonna make it to the theatre. Distribution models just don't work like that. And the only place that you're gonna see these movies is on NetFlix.

MARKS: And do you really think that the people who are the average American film goer are gonna want to find these small independent films on net --

ACCOMANDO: But it does allow people who want the chance to find them, to find them, and the film makers who want the chance to make them to make them. I think different films appeal to different kinds of audiences, and different films merit different kinds of viewing. There are some films I like to watch on my little portable DVD player because it feels like that's a perfectly fine way to watch it. And there's other films that I like to see in my living room with my friends because we can drink, and we can make fun of the movie and have a good time. And there are other films where I feel like, you know what? This merits seeing it on a big screen.

WRIGHT: And I really also feel that the box office situation doesn't take one thing into account, is that 2009 had Avatar.

ACCOMANDO: And Avatar spilled into this year, this year's box office.

WRIGHT: It's that thing where it made so much money that it actually -- it's almost unfair to sort of compare the two.

MARKS: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: We are talking about the movies of 2010, we're gonna be hearing the best lists from all of our film club critics, and taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Right now Carlos is on the line from La Jolla. Good morning, Carlos, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Morning, how are you doing? Thanks for taking my call, I appreciate it. Of.

MARKS: Love your movie, Carlos.

NEW SPEAKER: I wanted to call in and comment on inception, and I thought it was a spectacular film. And interestingly enough, a lot of the people I talked to didn't like it at all. They had a lot of negative things to say about it. Which I thought was very surprising. Because I thought it was very well directed, I thought it was a very ambitious story. For how much they wanted to get on screen, I think they did it very well. And I just thought it was a great movie.

WRIGHT: I agree with you, Carlos. I thought it was really good too. But at the same time in some ways, it almost feels like it was too complex for a lot of people. Do you have a sense of why you think people didn't like it? I think a lot of people came out of there not really having a sense what everything was, and some people got frustrated with that.

NEW SPEAKER: Yeah, I mean of course it was an interesting -- the arc of the story line was interesting, essentially, like, the first half of the film was like a rapid fire [CHECK AUDIO] of information. They just hit the audience hard with information, constantly scene after scene after scene. And that was kind of hard -- I mean, I love films I watch a lot of films so I was able to pick up on it and maintain it, a lot of people got turned off by how much info they were throwing at the audience. But what was key, there was a tipping point in the film where immediately all that information was, you know, gave you the understanding for the second half of the film, which 234 my opinion was one of the most ambitious themes in Sci-fi. If you didn't see the first half of that film, and all that complicating in, you just wouldn't understand what was going on in the dream to dream to dream scene that they did.

CAVANAUGH: Carlos, thank you for the call. I want to move on from this. And I really appreciate your phone call. Thank you. Talk about big movies for the big screen that really should be seen in a movie theatre, this was one of them, right?

MARKS: All movies should be seen in a movie theatre. All movies. If a film is made theatrically. These commercials where they say watch movies on your iPhone, I want to kill these people. Of these people are idiots. They really, really are. Make manifold chicken in your car too when you're driving.

WRIGHT: I think the thing about Inception is that people really -- when you look at all of the big movies of the year, the thing about Inception is that it is the one sort of big original property, it isn't a remake, it isn't a low brow comedy, and it did really well at the box office too, and it looks great.

ACCOMANDO: Well, then, for me, I liked inception, it's not on my ten best list, and it really didn't come close to getting on that. But he mentioned ambition, and ambitious a couple of times, and I think that's both to its credit and to its detriment. On the one hand, I like it because it does try to do because it does try to do something very ambitious, and it does try to challenge you and it does try to be complex in a lot of ways that these big Hollywood blockbuster films aren't. But on the other hand, I feel that it didn't really quite attain all of its ambitions, and so it fell short for me on a number of things and I still have a problem with Leonardo DiCaprio, he didn't compel me in the way I think that character did. But there are elements in that film I loved, I mean, I loved Cillian Murphy's character. To me, in a certain, odd sort of way, that was sort of the heart of the story on a certain level.

WRIGHT: And Thomas hardy really broke out of this that movie too. He's gonna be a big star now.

CAVANAUGH: I just want to touch on one more trend, and that is the reemergence of 3D, how this is just mushrooming. I mean, movies that weren't originally supposed to be in 3D are sort of transformed into 3D before they hit the theaters and I'm wondering if you like this trend, if you see it continuing through the next year.

WRIGHT: Mushrooming is a good word for it. Because it's kind of like a fungus, sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. There's no doubt that 3D is gonna continue on. Because it allows the studios and the movie theatre chains to make more money because they can charge more for tickets. What we've seen -- one of the movies that made more money than anything else this year was the clash of the titans remake. First of all it was a terrible movie. And second of all, the 3D transition [CHECK AUDIO] but people ate it up, people loved it. So I don't think there's any way we're not going to see it. Once in a while, though, you do see a film where you feel like the 3D is kind of an artful part of the process itself. And one of the places we've seen that more than any place else, is animated films. But of course it's not every single time either.

CAVANAUGH: Listening to you, Scott, sometimes in films, the 3D has made it work for you.

MARKS: Yeah. I think every film should be shot in 3D. This is the way we see things in life. This is just natural to me. But the problem is that they're cutting off a third of the audience, because a third of the audience can't watch 3D. If they put the glasses on, there's something in their eyes that cannot register the 3D effect.

CAVANAUGH: I didn't know that.

MARKS: Yeah, this is what I've read. Who knows? You know, Google it. I think 3D is terrific. I just don't think that people know how to use it yet. They're not using it as a narrative tool. They're using it as throwing stuff in our face. Which is a lot of fun sometimes. But you're right. Films like Alice in wonder land and tangled, I think that these films are made by 3D.

CAVANAUGH: I want to take a call before we take a break. Lilly is calling us from San Diego, by the way, we are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. If you'd like to join the discussion about the best and worst movies of 2010. Lilly good morning, thanks for calling.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, hi, how can we help you?

NEW SPEAKER: Well, I just wanted to make a comment. We were talking earlier about instant streaming from NetFlix, and I wanted to make the comment that I've seen several movies through instant streaming because they were available that I never would have picked up from a block buster or probably even seen on television. I think that there are a lot of people out there who have seen movies that they never would have chosen before and have been really happy about it.

CAVANAUGH: Well, thanks for the call, lilly, and that goes to your point, Beth of the.

ACCOMANDO: Well, I think it's great. You have a lot of opportunity to see films and you have an opportunity to try films. If you see something streaming on NetFlix and you go, I'm kind of interested, I'm not sure. Will you can watch a half-hour of it and turn it off if you don't like it. Of and you can sample films and possibly find something that you never would have thought you'd like.

WRIGHT: The other thing that happened, and I think it was either August or September, NetFlix signed a really big deal with three of the six big studios that did not at that time have. And so its catalog for instant screaming exploded exponentially, and that's really turned a lot of people on. . But I think it's exactly that. If you start watching something and you don't like it, you can stop watching it.

ACCOMANDO: And you haven't paid specifically for that, you don't feel like, oh, I'm gone waste my money by leaving early or walking out on if.

CAVANAUGH: Exactly, exactly. Of I want to take a short break, and below we return, the reading of the lists will commence. And we'll continue to take your calls about the best and worst movies of 2010. Our number here is 1-888-895-5727. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, you're listening to These Days on KPBS. And this is the KPBS film chub of the air, we're talking about the best and worst movies of 2010. My guests, Beth Accomando, KPBS film critic, Scott marks, the author of the film blog, emulsioncompulsion.com, and Anders Wright of San Diego City beat. We're also opening up the phone lines to hear what you think about the movies of 2010, your best movies, your worst movies, and what gets you out of the house to go to the movies these days? Give us a call with your questions and your comments. 1-888-895-5727 is the number to call. Kiara is calling us from San Diego, welcome, Kiara, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hello, thank you for taking the call.

CAVANAUGH: You're welcome.

NEW SPEAKER: The worst movie I saw in 2010 was the Human Centipede. Critics loved it, I absolutely hated that movie. It was a waste of my time. And I wanted my money back.

CAVANAUGH: Did you walk out of the theatre?

WRIGHT: It screened exactly one time in San Diego, too.

MARKS: What did you expect from a film called the human centipede? Honest to God.

WRIGHT: Can I just ask a question? Why did you hate it?

NEW SPEAKER: I hated it because it was just -- it was like they didn't put any thought into it. It was like, hey, put it together --

MARKS: Where have you seen a film that told that story? Never. And we can't even go into what the story is on the air. Where have you seen a film that told that story?

NEW SPEAKER: Saw all of them?

ACCOMANDO: There's a sequel coming out.

CAVANAUGH: Hey, Kiara, save your money. The sequel to human centipede. Thank you very, very much for the phone call. Okay, now it's time to read the list of let me start with you, Anders. Your best movies of 2010.

WRIGHT: Well, I'd like to be clear too. The list that I put together too, it's not the movies that I might consider the greatest films of the year. These are my favorite films of the year. The movies that I enjoyed the most. There may be movies that are quote unquote better or artistically viable. But these are the ones that for me made the most defense. And I'd like it say that this list is alphabetical.

MARKS: Coward.

WRIGHT: Number one, A Film Unfinished, documentary. Number two, Another Year, that's Mike Lee's new movie that comes out here in a couple of weeks. Number three, Carlos, number four, Easy A, number five, Exit Through the Gift Shop, number 6, 4 Lions, number 7, Andine, number 8, the Red Riding Trilogy, number 9, the Social Network, and number ten, Winter's Bone.

MARKS: I have one question. If that's an alphabetical list, how does a film called Unfinished come in before Another Year? But that's just me.

ACCOMANDO: He's alphabetizing by As.

MARKS: Ah, ha! And you alphabetized by Thes too.

WRIGHT: No, no. You --

MARKS: Unfinished starts with F!

CAVANAUGH: We have no grammatical arguments on the film club, okay?

MARKS: That's for sure.

CAVANAUGH: Beth, tell us your list.

ACCOMANDO: Sure. 44-Inch Chest, Machete, I Am Love, Andine, Kickass, Red Riding Trilogy, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Terribly Happy, Winter's Bone, and Scott Pilgrim Versus the World.

CAVANAUGH: I hear some synergy between yours and Anders' list. SO let's hear Scott.

MARKS: So much for synergy. Number ten, Shutter Island, number nine, I Am Love, eight, Exit Through the Gift Shop, 7 -- why do i -- Persian Cats. What's the beginning of that? -

ACCOMANDO: No one knows --

MARKS: No one knows about them, including me. Six, Andine, five Vine, four, The Tillman Story, three, A Film Unfinished, two, Dog Tooth, and one, Wild Grass.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you, thank you. Lots of -- I think there are some real similarities between these. One of them is the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. You had it on all your lists first of all, both, remind us what this documentary is about.

ACCOMANDO: Sure, it's a documentary. It's about -- well, let's see, how to best describe this? It's about a film maker who decides to kind of accidentally make a film about a lot of these street artists, he has a camera, he starts filming them. The artist that seems to escape him or evade him at first is Banksy, who's known for doing a lot of guerilla art around the world, actually. And at a certain point, Banksy sort of takes over the making of the film. And it's a documentary superficially about this kind of street art, but really it's about art itself, and the art world, and how we determine what is art, and how much you pay for it. And to me, the really fascinating thing about this film, 'cause this is it a year where we have had a lot of mock documentary and faux documentaries, and fiction films pretending to be documentaries, what I think is great about this film is that it works either as a real documentary exactly what it says it's about, about, or it works as a fake documentary in which a stunt was staged. Of [CHECK AUDIO].

CAVANAUGH: That was a criticism from amount of people.

ACCOMANDO: A lot of people are claiming it shouldn't even be up and running for documentary.

WRIGHT: Here's the thing. The film maker who ostensibly tried to make the documentary about Banksy was tying to make the definitive street art documentary. Now, whether or not all that is true, I don't think it really matters because essentially what Banksy has done is created the definitive street art documentary within this framework that is entertaining and funny and insightful, and always 2 or 3 steps ahead of the viewer.

ACCOMANDO: Well, actually, there was an art exhibit down at the museum of contemporary art down in San Diego, and I believe it was Banksy piece where it was an art auction, and there was a framed piece of art that said something like, you know, it's you stupid morons for buying this piece of work or something.

WRIGHT: Signed Banksy.

ACCOMANDO: Signed Banksy. So I think that's what Exit Through the Gift Shop sort of it. And it's a piece that is poking fun at the art world and is -- I think it's pulling a prank on them, and at the same time being a real documentary because there's a lot of material in there that's genuine. Some of these people creating their art and what they have to go through to do it, and how they peat it, and documenting what some of these pieces are.

CAVANAUGH: It's an interesting premise, but why did it end up on your best list for 2010 Scott judge.

MARKS: You know, I know you're gonna ask later on, what's the funniest film you saw this year, this is it. Actually, the fighter is the funniest year I saw this year, but for all the wrong reasons. [CHECK AUDIO] this film is funny, and it stands for everything I hate. This is against the whole dumpster art, the whole comic book artist kind of stuff, I think he laid these people bare, and that's why I find this interesting.

CAVANAUGH: Interesting. [CHECK AUDIO] good morning, Laura, welcome to These Days. Of.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning, thanks for taking my call.

CAVANAUGH: You're welcome.

NEW SPEAKER: So I just think that 2010 did not impress me from Hollywood. But the documentaries were fabulous. I thought [CHECK AUDIO] was something to talk about for weeks to come. And I think waiting for super man issue my friends and I still talk about. The lottery was the same way. To really dealt with the issues of our economy, the prolonged war, so what my friends and I were talking about over coffee was not Hollywood and the starlets and the stars, but television the real issues that were brought forthwith the documentaries.

CAVANAUGH: That's real interesting. Thank you, Laura. And does that keep a trend that started last year going? Because I know we were talking a lot about documentaries in 2009.

WRIGHT: Part of this comes to what we were talking about earlier. Part of it is it's become consumerably list to make documentaries now. [CHECK AUDIO] Charles Fergusson's movie about the economic collapse and specifically who is to blame. That was a terrific film also.

ACCOMANDO: And wasteland was good also. God, there were quite a few.

CAVANAUGH: Getting back to your lists, another similarity that you have is really sort of surprising to me, because this is a movie I've, like, tried not to see. It's Neal Jordan's film, Andine.

ACCOMANDO: Why would you try not to see it?

WRIGHT: Because it looks like a mermaid movie.

ACCOMANDO: It is.

MARKS: If you can make it through splash, you can make it through this.

CAVANAUGH: I've seen part of slash.

WRIGHT: The thing about an dine, is it takes all of those things that it [CHECK AUDIO] so well, and it's so wonderfully true and Ernest about them, honestly it takes those cliches and flips them -- there are more things in this [CHECK AUDIO].

MARKS: I see a sick kid in a movie, and it's like I'm reaching for the arm rest to get up and get out of here. He pulled it awe 678 I can't believe.

ACCOMANDO: The thing that Neal Jordan does so well, he also did films like Mona Lisa. [CHECK AUDIO] with this very gritty sense of the real world. So his fairy tales, however much they become real fairy tales have this very grounded sensibility to them. So they don't come across as sappy or sentimental or cliche because you do have this contrast.

MARKS: But this is a romantic film, Beth. How did this crack your top ten? You hate romantic films.

ACCOMANDO: I hate romantic comedies.

WRIGHT: Well, it's a small -- and I have to say, it does star Colin Farrell, and to me, that would be like, another, thing Colin Farrell, [CHECK AUDIO] and pulls out a beautiful woman.

MARKS: Yeah, now you're selling it.

WRIGHT: And to me, it's when the film starts, when this happens, you're trying to think of any way that this could have happened because there's no way she could possibly be a mermaid, and by the time, it's done.

MARKS: Who cares? Yeah.

WRIGHT: Yeah, in fact you're just sort of hoping she is.

MARKS: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: And you are notoriously against romantic movies Beth.

ACCOMANDO: Contemporary romantic comedies, I have. [CHECK AUDIO] Juan car we movies and he's the most deliciously romantic film maker, I think ever. But it has to reach a certain level of passion -- you don't have to agree.

MARKS: Frank Borzage to me, the guy made a film called history is made at night. That is the most romantic title in the history of cinema. And of course it's not available on DVD so I'll save my breath.

CAVANAUGH: Let's take a call. We're taking your calls. Join conversation about the best and worst movies 2010. 1-888-895-5727. Matt's calling us from San Diego. Good morning, Matt, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hey, good morning thanks for having me.

CAVANAUGH: You're welcome.

NEW SPEAKER: Okay, so I gotta tell you, I'm a 23-year-old college student so take whatever I say with a grain of the sa. I'm probably not very intelligent.

ACCOMANDO: No, but you are the target audience for most movies.

NEW SPEAKER: No, I just wanted to say, it's -- 234 my opinion, it seems like there's really been a dumbing down, and I think you can even say an infantilization, and of the general culture, and just two tops I've heard from the show, it take look what works and what doesn't in the sense of Avatar, huge, over the top, with the 3D, gigantic, made thine, trillion billion dollars, that was the shock value. That kind of childlike appeal, and you take Inception which made money but had the common criticism that it was just too complex. And I think that kind of -- both of those films in different ways point to how our culture is not really capable and doesn't want to take in these more complex films and everything just becomes this ugly pastiche at this point of junk.

CAVANAUGH: A pastiche of junk, all right, Matt.

MARKS: Well put.

ACCOMANDO: But you know what? Here's the thing, films that, appeal to the mainstream audience are going to be by nature simpler and different from art house films or films that are more complicated, because a lot of people want to go to the movies for entertainment. But I think what part of the problem is, if you look back a few decades, the big blockbuster Hollywood films, a film like the godfather, I mean the godfather is a well made film. It's also a mainstream film. It's also a film that appeals to a wide audience.

MARKS: It's also almost 40 years old. This is before star wars and Spielberg came in and changed the playing field.

ACCOMANDO: But star wars I think is a very better film than avatar.

WRIGHT: I think in many way, it's the culture of, you upon, of going to the movies. People -- there's less a question of we're going to see something challenging and more a question of we're going to be entertained, we want to get out of our lives.

MARKS: Why can't you do both?

WRIGHT: I'm not talking about the films. I'm talking about the audiences. My point is this, for me, at this point, if you've got kids and you're gonna get a sitter, you're gonna buy tickets, you're gonna buy popcorn, you might have dinner you're looking at, like, 60, 70, $80 evening.

ACCOMANDO: Oh, way more than that.

WRIGHT: Or that's why when people are going to movies, they're seeing things like iron man two, which they know is something that's going to be entertain and something they're not going to have this think about very much.

MARKS: The problems with all these films is, Kickass, Iron man 2, hello, they don't entertain, they fail miserably --

ACCOMANDO: For you.

MARKS: Who else am I talking about? They fail at the most -- well, the audiences didn't turn out for Kickass. That was a huge flop. And I really expected that film to kick ass.

WRIGHT: Kick ass is one thing, a rated R action movie. Iron man two is quite another. PG 13, Marvel property. They're two different things, two different audiences.

CAVANAUGH: We have one more caller on this subject. Good morning, John, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning, thanks for taking my call. I want to ask the panel why inception wasn't on anybody's best of list.

MARKS: All right, I'll give you my reason right now. How do you sit there, the way they handled backstory in that film is just astonishingly bad. I mean when you have the little Juneau character starting the job for the first day, and she's Charley Chan's number one son and you can explain everything to her and the audience simultaneously, how is this cutting edge in I don't hour how good the special effects are, this is not cutting edge film making. Christopher Nolan also has zero sense of humor. This guy wouldn't know a joke if it came up and kicked him in the butt. And two, everything is just pretentious. And so hallowed. We just sit and worship this, he is a genius. [CHECK AUDIO] all this guy does is tap dance for the last 20 minutes to try to pull the thread it is together, and it ain't working for me. And I don't care how good the special effects are. [CHECK AUDIO].

WRIGHT: John, for me, if I'd have a top ten or top 16 list, it probably would have been on there.

CAVANAUGH: Okay.

ACCOMANDO: And for me, I just it strove for more than it achieved. . And I liked a lot of Christopher Nolan's other films better. So I just disappointed by it.

CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you, John for that phone call. This is the call I thought we were gonna have. Vaughn is calling us from the road.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi I was just wondering if any of our guests considered heart attack BO and show time productions because they do a lot of phenomenal good work, and one in particular I was touched with in 2010 was Temple Graden, the story, true story of a woman growing up with --

WRIGHT: Autism.

NEW SPEAKER: Autism. And it was compelling, that you feel, moving, and inspirational. I don't know, do you guys ever consider those pieces?

WRIGHT: We generally, when we're pulling these sorts of lists together, we're generally only talking about theatrical releases. It's more like things that could, would, should be possibly eligible for Oscars. I saw the Temple granted movie maybe just ten days ago, and I agree with you, it's really good. And Claire dans who plays Temple Granden, is terrific. And she's a really fascinating woman.

CAVANAUGH: Any HBO show time movie compare with anything you can see in the moves.

MARKS: Board walk empire. And I don't even think boardwalk empire was really that great.

WRIGHT: For me, it's less about the original movies than the series they make. Serialized writing has gotten really good again. And what HBO and Showtime and Starz do sometimes is create these lodge running series where they can really gone out characters and do things that movies can't do like that. Scott and I were talking about the Wire earlier, HBO's brilliant, brilliant cops and robbers show. You know, but if you're gonna sit down and watch the entire five seasons of the wire, it's gonna take you 65 hours. Those characters should be better developed --

MARKS: Here's something that I see as a trend that's really bothering me. [CHECK AUDIO] we saw screening of true grit at ultra star Hazard place, you know the home of pure digital cinema, it's out of focus, the image looked terrible, it's all washed out. This movie looked better on my television set. And I think everybody is making films now for television because that's where people are gonna be seeing the majority of the movies. This is wrong, this is backwards projection. I'm not against digital projection, but by God, get it right.

ACCOMANDO: But we had I am love, you're saying that's a film for television?

MARKS: No, I'm -- what? No.

ACCOMANDO: You're saying everything looks like it's being shot for television.

MARKS: I'm sorry. I am Love, and Wild Grass, and a couple other did not look like that. I'm talking about the major studio releases.

CAVANAUGH: He's talking about a trend that you're identifying here. I want to talk more specifically about some of the movies on your lists, but we have to take a short break, when we return we'll continue our conversation about the best and worst movies of 2010. Continue to take your calls at 1-888-895-5727.

Welcome back, I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. It is the KPBS film club of the air, best and worst show for the movies of 2010. My guests, Beth Accomando, Scott marks, Anders Wright, as the critics and you, as the audience, calling in at 1-888-895-5727. Now just minutes ago August of our guests told us the best movies, their top ten list of best movies for 2010. And I just want to single out just a couple of movies that you've picked and you don't share on your list. And one of those, Beth, is the 44-inch chest.

ACCOMANDO: Yes, I love that film. And when I saw it, I think it came out in March, I just like it's probably gonna top my list. It's got a brilliant ensemble cast which includes [CHECK AUDIO] it's well written, and what I really liked about it, I like films that seem to be one thing and turn out to be another. And the hangers of this film had done sexy beast before, which was this violent gangster film, and there's certain superficial elements of this that also appear to be this kind of violent British gangster film. It's this man whose wife has had an affair, they kip the guy, they bring him to this room, [CHECK AUDIO] but it really turns out to be this tale about forgiveness and redemption and love. And I just liked the way it turned, like the way the actors -- it was a perfect ensemble for me. Of they clicked just like a well oiled mechanism. And in hearing John hurt and Ian McShane stream obscenities was just delightful. I just loved the film. And again, I liked it because it seems to be one thing and turns out to be another.

CAVANAUGH: And Scott, I know it made sort of your honorable mention.

MARKS: The problem with the film is, this is like the king's speech for me, great acting, a great script, and the direction is just middling, although I like what they're saying in this film a lot more than the king's speech. I could listen to John hurt swear all day.

CAVANAUGH: And you certainly hear a lot of it.

MARKS: And a tribute to Samson and Delilah in the middle of it.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Anders, you have a teenaged comedy on your list. Easy A.

WRIGHT: I loved it, and I'll tell you, I actually didn't see it when it was first screened for press. And Scott.

MARKS: I prodded you.

WRIGHT: And I finally did. And it's terrific. There are so few comedies that are actually any good at all out there. And this one is funny, it's sweet. Again it does have a wonderful ensemble, and Emma stone really breaks out -- and essentially it's a modern day retelling of the scarlet letter, where everyone in the school starts to think that she's sleeping around, and she sort of embracing that, and it sort of mushrooms, it snow ball, it explodes, ask it just made me feel like I did when I was watching movies like that when was a teenager. I just adored it.

CAVANAUGH: I wonder, though, is it actually a funny movie or is it just the performances are so engaging?

WRIGHT: I think it's --

MARKS: It's hilarious.

WRIGHT: [CHECK AUDIO] is sort of her inspirational teacher of he's hysterical funny and he's got a very small part. It also does the right thing in not taking the smaller roles and throwing them away. Of every character, even the ones with 2 or 3 lines is a real character, a real individual in this, like, slightly off kilter world, Malcolm McDowel is the principal. The hard line principal. But it has a lot of heart, and those things don't usually come together that isn't sappy and sudsy and off putting for me.

CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering as you are making up your top ten lists of movies of the year, do you ever feel sort of a pressure to put in a really accessible light come? Because I know you deal so much --

MARKS: [CHECK AUDIO] if you don't know what that is.

CAVANAUGH: I do. It's a documentary, yes, I know.

WRIGHT: I don't. To me, it's less about creating a well rounded list than it is about the individual films. Personally, when I do it, I sort of look at everything I've seen in the course of the year. You know, I pick out the ones that I think I want to think about, and then I keep whittling it down.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

ACCOMANDO: For me, the biggest problem of putting a list together is it's so comparing apples and oranges, there are films that I can watch ten times and I love them. And there's other ones that I watch once and I love them, and I don't feel like I want to watch them again. Or a comedy or a [CHECK AUDIO].

MARKS: I film unfinished is like one of my top ten films of that year. Of I don't have to see that film again. I got it the first time.

ACCOMANDO: Yeah. Of.

MARKS: That's not a film I'm gonna pull out and be, like, let's watch a film about the holocaust tonight. We'll pop a few beers.

CAVANAUGH: [CHECK AUDIO] Nazi footage of life in Poland during the occupation.

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, I don't feel obligated to put something lighter or more mainstream. It's just my taste. I have diverse taste in films and sometimes I like films that are really popular and silly and stupid.

CAVANAUGH: Well, here -- well, here's a film that one would expect to be on a film critic's top ten list. And that is the film by French director.

MARKS: I get this.

CAVANAUGH: René, it's called Wild Grass. Tell our listeners about this film.

MARKS: This is a guy who's in his 80s and he's making a film that's fresher than anything I've seen by a 20-year-old come out this year. And it's a very entertaining film. But not in the sense that I think most people would look for entertainment. You know something? I reviewed this one already on the air, and the one I want to talk about is because people can go and see this now, it's called dog tooth. [CHECK AUDIO] this is number two, I had to make room for this. I watched this screen Christmas day. What a Christmas film this is. And I was blown away, this is one of the most disturbing films I've ever seen, and it's also a film where I'm laughing while I'm retching.

CAVANAUGH: What is it about.

MARKS: It's about a family -- I don't know if it's science fiction, I don't know if it's set just down the street of us, about a mother and father who shall remain nameless, who have kids and they just don't want their kids to grow up and leave the house. And that entails bringing prostitutes in to service the children, that entails not letting them know the lyrics to frank Sinatra songs, [CHECK AUDIO] and the kids are believing it, because they're not allowed to leave the house. They don't give you all information you need in this film. In fact the film makers purposely withhold information. This thing blew me away. And you have to see this film with an audience just to hear, ah, oh, going on in the film. It's playing now at the gas lamp, it's not rated. And there is objectionable -- I think this film is going to offend a lot of people. Which might be one of the reasons I like it because I think film should shake people up. Inception, films like that, they don't shake me up, they don't make me think. I don't walk out of there feeling any sense of accomplishment. [CHECK AUDIO] I made a friend today. And I can't think of the direct are's name. He's a Greek guy, and I can't pronounce his name. But I just want to see everything that this guy's done.

CAVANAUGH: What you're saying about this, seeing this in an atmosphere with other people in the movies brings me to the idea of what's happening at several movie theatre complexes in San Diego. There's changes at Redding gas lamp, there's gonna be changes at AMC La Jolla. Talk to me about that, Beth.

ACCOMANDO: Well, AMC La Jolla is going to try the dinner and a movie approach. I don't know exactly how it's going to pan out.

MARKS: Fork and dine.

CAVANAUGH: Fork and dine.

ACCOMANDO: I don't know how it's gonna pan out in terms of what it actually feels like to -- is it gonna be tables? Is it gonna be cabaret theatre? I don't know.

MARKS: I think they're talking about more just --

ACCOMANDO: Just offering more food?

MARKS: No, they're gonna have more comfortable chairs with TV tables and they will bring more food. TV tables! This is a movie theatre. They're turning movie theaters into your living room. This is the problem. This to me is the enemy will. Film is nutritious enough. You don't need a crappy plate of spaghetti in front of you while you're watching a movie. Of if they brought good food in, it would be great. AMC La Jolla, let the little Japanese restaurant that's right at its foot, [CHECK AUDIO].

WRIGHT: Are they gonna cut down on the number of theatres? Will it be the same number of screens.

MARKS: I don't think so.

ACCOMANDO: I think got gonna cut down on the number of seats per screen.

MARKS: They have to cut down on the number of theaters because where are you gonna put the kitchen? [CHECK AUDIO] I'm hoping they're gonna keep -- you have to because not everybody is gonna -- if they're fighting about paying an extra three bucks for 3D, you think people are gonna be happy paying an extra $15 for an over priced burger?

CAVANAUGH: And Redding gas lamp is gonna be turning some of its screens to art.

MARKS: They have been, yeah.

WRIGHT: Redding gas lamp has really had one of the most interesting selection of independent and art [CHECK AUDIO] brought in 12 or 15 really interesting little movies, including doing tooth, which Scott just mentioned, and I recall Carlos still there. Of.

MARKS: Carlos is there. Yeah.

WRIGHT: This is a terrific five-hour movie about Carlos the jackal, the terrorist from the '70s and entities. I mean, go, sit, enjoy.

ACCOMANDO: They're also doing their 12 days of Christmas, which is 12 films related to Christmas, things as different as die hard and a classic Christmas. [CHECK AUDIO] so it's not just bringing in new dependent films and documentaries and foreign films.

WRIGHT: They did a Hitchcock series in October.

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, in October. So in a sense they're going back to what the Ken cinema used to be doing -- I don't know how long ago that was where it was more like a repertoire theatre, where you could have a different film each night or just have a film that was playing for a single night. And that could be a lot of fun. I went for die hard, and it had a pretty big crowd, considering it was pouring rain. [CHECK AUDIO].

MARKS: You have 15 screens. I never understood. Turn one of them into a revival screen. Turn a couple of them into showing art and -- you know, something different. Instead of just taking one theatre and having inception on nine screens.

ACCOMANDO: But this is probably gonna upset you. One of the reasons they can do is, and one of the reasons they're willing to do it is because it's cheaper to rent them. [CHECK AUDIO].

CAVANAUGH: We are quickly running out of time. And I don't want to heave this discussion, because I said best and worst.

MARKS: Un-Eon.

ACCOMANDO: Sex and the city two. Oh, my God.

MARKS: Would you even go see it? You don't have to have your face pushed in garbage to know how it smells.

CAVANAUGH: Why is that the worst movie of the year.

ACCOMANDO: It was offensive. It was really offensive. I hate films -- you know, I much prefer James bond films for their depiction of women than these films which masquerade as being feminist or pretending that they're giving us women who are empowering in some stupid way. But ultimately all these women want are the same things that they criticize these other films for stereotyping of it was just offensive.

MARKS: Yet you like the girl with the dragon tattoo. That was what I -- thought of that film.

ACCOMANDO: No, how can you put the girl with the dragon tattoo and sex in the city two in the same sentence?

MARKS: You're right, there isn't a graphic titillating rape in sex and the city two. You're right.

WRIGHT: It's essentially, like sex and the city two goes to Dubai. And the way they treat the Middle East and just so --

ACCOMANDO: Oh, it's horrible. Like if you give a woman in the Middle East, you take off her Burka, and you give her Christian Dior clothes or a Gucci bag or whatever, that she's gonna be happier. You know, completely ignoring the human rights issues.

CAVANAUGH: And was sex and the city two your worst?

MARKS: I didn't even see it.

CAVANAUGH: What was the worst movie you say?

MARKS: To me, to say Sex and the City was the worst movie is too easy.

CAVANAUGH: Scott, it's now or never.

MARKS: Into the Void. Absolute garbage. Just mental masturbation for two and a half hours, and there's a three-hour cut of this thing floating around out there.

CAVANAUGH: Beth Accomando, Scott Marks, Anders Wright. Thank you so much. And thank you to everyone who called in. You know, you can comment online, KPBS.org/thesedays. You've been listening to the KPBS film club of the air on These Days here on KPBS.

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