Posts Tagged ‘50/50


Best of 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the top grossing film of 2011. Did it make Red Band Project' s top films of 2011?

It took a while, but we can just about close the book on 2011 with our own ‘Best of’ list for last year. I figure, if the Academy can wait till tonight to give out their awards for last year, why not the Red Band Project as well? Also, the extra time gave me the opportunity to catch up with a few more 2011 films in theaters and on DVD. So without further ado, here are my top films of 2011 . . .


You take the director and star behind the hugely successful Pirates franchise and throw in one of the most powerful effects houses in the world, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), and you could have the makings of a pretty unique film. All of these traits are evident in the finished product–Rango, a quirky animated Western comedy. The animation alone is reason enough to watch the film as the animation style employed by ILM is probably like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s so hyper-realistic that things look and almost feel as if they’re real. Then you have Johnny Depp providing the voice for probably one of his most memorable and quirky characters ever in Rango, an eccentric chameleon who stumbles into becoming sheriff. It’s a fun story with lively characters and great animation.


With urban violence in Chicago at an all time high, a group of mediators called Ceasefire is stepping in to help curb violence before it starts. These ‘violence interrupters’ put themselves in harm’s way to diffuse situations by talking to both parties to try and calm them down. Just how are they able to reach these individuals? It’s because members of Ceasefire are former gang members and criminals who know what it’s like on the other side of the law. The film is a powerful look at the members of Ceasefire, the daily struggles they go through, the families and people that they work with, and an up close and personal look at why inner city violence escalates so quickly. The film showcases some pretty powerful and authentic moments and doesn’t shy away from the fact that not everything the group does works out. If you have the time, check out The Interruptors for yourself, for free, over at the PBS website.


This was probably one of the most fun movies of the summer if not the year. Leading into last summer I was really worried about Captain America due to the problems inherent in a character that’s not of this time. In the end it was a good move for the creators to set the film during WWII–the original era that Cap is from. The superhero period piece stayed true to the character and was a great way to provide his backstory. While we did a bunch of Avengers porn at the end, overall the story focused on Steve Rogers and how he became Captain America–a story portrayed really well in the film.


You really have to hand it to this film for trying something bold as not having dialogue and mainly relying on the audience to ‘feel’ our characters’ performances. As Wall•E proved a few years ago, you don’t have to say anything to let people know how you feel–we can pick it up from the way a character moves and looks. Beyond the Hollywood nostalgia for the good ole days, what The Artist does so well is focus on the basics: have your actors give us a good performance to tell a story.


What I love about Hugo is that it’s a story about magic. The magic of imagination, the magic of cinema, and the magic of storytelling. Martin Scorsese crafts a wonderful tale about Hugo Cabret, an orphaned boy trying to unlock the secret of a mechanical automaton. Through this process Hugo encounters a lot of different people and ends up discovering a secret that the automaton has been hiding. The film is pure magic with it being shot really well and makes the best use of 3D since Avatar.

#4 50/50

Out of all the movies I saw last year, I really wish more people had gotten a chance to see 50/50. It’s definitely not an easy sell as it deals with the subject of what a person goes through when they find out that they have cancer, but it’s definitely worth catching up with if you have the chance. Joseph Gordon Levitt, Seth Rogen, Bryce Dallas Howard anchor a supurb cast in a well written story that will have you laughing and crying before the end.

#3 The Descendants

What else can I say that hasn’t already been said? From top to bottom I thought Alexander Payne put together a really great film. From Clooney’s performance to those of all the supporting characters to the way situations are dealt with to theportrayal of Hawaii, The Descendants has it all.

#2 Drive

From the opening sequence of the film, this movie had me. Ryan Gosling’s Driver is just so cool that it made me want to go drive around with a toothpick in my mouth after I saw the film. With just a few looks and not much else you can feel what his character is going through or know what he would say even though he doesn’t say anything. You also have Carey Mulligan providing a pretty solid performance as Driver’s love interest and the chemistry between them is so great that you get a sense of electricity between them even though they may just be riding together in a car or just talking with one another in the hall. Director Nicolas Winding Refn really puts together a great film with some nice visuals and a solid soundtrack.

#1 Attack the Block

This movie was the most fun I had at the theaters last year and ironically, at the time I saw it I was the only one in the theater when I saw it. What happens when an alien invasion occurs in south London and a street gang of teens are the only ones around? They kick ass and save the day that’s what. The simplest way I can describe the film is that it’s Aliens meets Goonies as you have a group of kids on an adventure to stay alive and battle these aliens who have descended on their home. The creature effects aren’t the greatest, but that doesn’t matter since the storytelling and characters more than make up for that. The whole time you’re rooting for the gang to win even though you’re not sure who is going to live and who is going to die. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. I promise you, you’ll have a lot of fun.

Looking forward to in 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: I know, I know, this is obviously the most anticipated movie of the year. It’s just one guy, but yes, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises easily beats out the Marvel team-up of The Avengers as the movie event of the year. So much has already come out from trailers to a ton of set photos to the prologue itself that I can’t wait for July.

The Raid: After Dark Knight, this is easily my second most anticipated film of the year. Why? Because the movie looks like it’s going to be an action packed thrill of a ride. I’ve been tracking this film since it debuted last year on the festival circuit and briefly discussed it when it played at Sundance last month. Thankfully I hear that it’s coming to Consolidated Theatres Kahala next month so I we won’t have to wait long to see this one.

Prometheus: Every time I see the trailer I can’t help but get a little more excited for this film. Initially I wasn’t, but there’s just so many good components to this film that I can’t help but get excited. I’ve always been a sci-fi guy so I’m always down for a space thriller, but you throw in great actors (Michael Fassbender & Charlize Theron to name a few) and the director of Alien; count me in!

Discoveries: Of course there’s still a bunch of stuff that I’m looking forward to seeing; the big Marvel team up of The Avengers and then there’s Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit in December, but I’m also looking forward to the surprises that nobody really knows about yet. The ones we won’t discover until they come out in the theater. Hopefully they’ll be just as many this year as there were last year.


Best of 2011 from other local bloggers . . .

To put us all to shame, HIFF’s programming director Anderson Le gives us the top 10 films of 2011 that we all missed out on. [YOMYOMF – Part 1] [YOMYOMF – Part 2]

The good folks over at the Popspotting podcast give us the ‘Best of 2011’ not just for movies but for everything popculturey. [Popspotting]

Here’s their favorite films from 2011 from the book and film themed blog [I Adore Books and Film]

Nonstop’s movie guru Myong Choi lists his Fab Five Films of 2011. [Nonstop Honolulu]

And finally, the Star-Advertiser’s movie reviewer Burl Burlingame gives us his top 10. [Honolulu Pulse]


Review: 50/50

-Summit Entertainment

So, we generally don’t usually do reviews here at the Red Band Project. However, every once and a while (usually a few times a year) there’s a movie that we just want to make sure everyone knows about that we think would be worth your time to go and see. This weekend that movie would be 50/50. It may not be the most well known Hollywood movie coming out this weekend (and it may not even take the weekend), but it’s definitely one that we recommend you see.

The setup . . . young Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) one day discovers that he has a rare cancer and his odds of living aren’t the greatest. Truth be told he only has 50/50 chance of surviving (hence the film’s title). The movie then takes us through Adam’s struggles with this newfound knowledge and how he deals with it as it relates to his best friend (Seth Rogen), current girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), and his shrink (Anna Kendrick). I don’t want to say too much more than that, but you get the idea; cancer, changed outlook on life, ‘what do you do now’ scenario.

-Summit Entertainment

Perhaps the greatest asset of the film is its phenomenal cast anchored by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL). He really dials in an authentic performance as Adam and you really see him struggle to cope with his diagnosis and treatment. Meanwhile you have Seth Rogen playing Seth Rogen, but with a somewhat (and I use this next term loosely) subdued performance. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still playing the same old guy he is in every movie, but each scene he’s in he holds just enough back to not be annoying and to be the right amount of funny. Bryce Dallas Howard follows up her performance from The Help with another role where you love to hate her as Adam’s “sort of” free spirited girlfriend. Then you have Anna Kendrick who has a solid performance in the same vein as her role from Up in the Air. She plays Adam’s still-in-school psychiatrist who tries to help him through this difficult time, but finds herself a little green and potentially not ready for this challenge.

Usually dramatic comedies (or is it comedic drama?) usually have a hard time striking the right balance between the two. 50/50 though walks right up to that line and walks the tightrope pretty darn well. Many times in the film you’ll find yourself laughing in one scene, then a few minutes later having it tear at your heartstrings. Again, I don’t want to give anything away but there is a scene where it gets dusty in the room. Everything that the characters make you feel seems really genuine and authentic with JGL definitely turning in a fine performance.

In summary, 50/50 is a really great film that you definitely won’t waste your time or your money on. I really hope that JGL gets some kind of Oscar nomination come next year for his performance in this film, but I think that’s highly doubtful (though I think it would be deserved). I’m definitely putting this in my Top 10 films of this year. With such high praise, how can you go wrong?

50/50 opens in a theater near you this Friday, September 30.


50/50 is a somewhat autobiographical account of its screenwriter Will Reiser’s struggle with cancer. Check out this really great story on him from the Los Angeles Times The Big Picture blog.

Review – I Adore Books & Music Blog

Review – NotInWater Tumblr


Most Anticipated Fall Movies 2011

Just got through listening to the most recent Filmspotting podcast (#363) and the guys listed their Top 5 Most Anticipated Fall Movies.  It got me thinking about what I’m most interested in seeing in the next two months. Though I’m not one for “Top 5” lists, I thought it would be fun to think about and list some of the stuff I’m looking forward to. Taking Adam and Matty’s lead I’m going to limit this list to films coming out from this weekend to the weekend before Thanksgiving (9/16 – 11/18). Here they are in order of release date:

DRIVE (September 16) :: I heard a lot of good buzz about this movie coming out of Comic Con where they had a special screening of the film. Trying to find out a little bit more about the movie I stumbled upon this clip which immediately got me hooked into wanting to see this film. I actually prefer the clip to the trailer as you get a really great feel for the movie without all the details of the trailer which gives you almost everything. The basic plotline is that Ryan Gosling is a getaway car drive and in the clip I’ve linked to, seems to be a pretty knowledgable and cunning one. The only diolauge you hear is from the police scanner in the car, everyone else is silent and you can feel the tension from everyone. The film won best director at the Cannes Film Festival in May so it definitely has a lot going for it.

MONEYBALL (September 23) :: There are a bunch of different reasons why I want to see Moneyball. Probably the first being that Steven Soderbergh was attached to direct Brad Pitt in this baseball story about managing the Oakland A’s. However, Soderbergh eventually dropped out and then I didn’t really hear anything for a while until the trailer for the film came out this summer. Once I saw the trailer though, the film still looked pretty intriguing to me. For whatever reason baseball always seems to lend itself to making better sports movies than other sports do. Off the top of my head I can’t name any bad baseball movies. In any case Moneyball is being strongly compared to The Social Network, Sony Pictures other Oscar contender from last year that was released around the same time.

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (limited release October 21)
LIKE CRAZY (limited release October 28)
It wouldn’t be a Filmspotting type list if I didn’t have a tie on here somewhere. Both M4 and Like Crazy received a ton of praise and buzz coming out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival . I basically only know the storyline of each of the movies (see links above for trailers & plot synopsis), but from everything I’ve read, the performances in both these films are worth seeing on that alone. I’m hopeful that we’ll eventually get them here at Kahala or something so that I can check them out.

TOWER HEIST (November 4) :: People can say what they will about director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour/s, X-Men Last Stand), but from the trailer alone this movie looks like a fun ride with an all star cast. Ratner brought back Eddie Murphy for Tower Heist and he’s that confident in his star that he pushed for him to be next year’s Oscar host. How can anyone say no to this movie?

IMMORTALS (November 11) :: Again, this is another case of me falling in love with a movie just by watching the trailer. If you made a sequel for 300 and mashed it up with Clash of the Titans, I’m pretty sure you’d get Immortals. I was a big fan of 300 even before it was released and ever since then similar movies have never quite looked as good. I’m hoping that’ll change with Immortals. I have no idea what the story is about, but the visuals alone look amazing and you’ve got future Superman Henry Cavill in it as well.

Honorable Mentions

I’ve got a few honorable mentions here that I wanted to share as well:

CONTAGION (in theaters) :: It didn’t fit into the release window that this list was limited to so I stuck this pick here. A commercial Steven Soderbergh (Oceans 11, 12, 13, Che, Out of Sight) joint with a large ensemble cast battle the worldwide spread of a deadly disease/virus. It’s a solid film that shot and put together really well. Definitely worth checking out.

50/50 (September 30) :: I had to cheat and put 50/50 in my honorable mentions since I already saw it and wanted to have more to talk about above. I’m already putting 50/50 in my list of top films of this year. The mix of humor and drama is great and you definitely will laugh and cry (or at least get choked up a little bit). When it comes out later this month I encourage you to check it out.

THE IDES OF MARCH (October 7) :: This is George Clooney’s 4th feature film that he’s directing and it’s got a solid cast along with him which includes Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright in a film about electoral politics and drama. I think it’s worth checking out for the cast alone.

SHAME (no release date set) :: Coming into the fall festival/awards season Shame has been one of the most talked about films of the year due to its graphic depictions of sex and male nudity. However, film critics everywhere seem to be talking about the film and going ga-ga over it and it definitely has me intrigued. One of the challenges that people seem to agree on is that if released in the US, the film would most likely receive an NC-17 rating from the MPAA–a big enough hurdle for both distributor and theater exhibitors. The film was just picked up by Fox Searchlight Pictures at the Toronto so no date has been set for release. We’ll see if it makes it way to Hawaii late this year or early next year.

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