(90) Days of Summer.
We knew it might get LOUD, and it did.
As has been the case since the 1970s, the 2009 summer movie season was heavy on the big noisy blockbusters and light on Oscar contenders—-but that doesn’t mean some of those mega-budget movies weren’t entertaining, nor does it mean there was a paucity of smart, entertaining quality films at the multiplex. A season that included such treasures as “Up,” “(500) Days of Summer,” Meryl Streep’s amazing performance in “Julie and Julia,” the brilliant work by Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds” and Jeremy Renner’s stunning turn in “The Hurt Locker” cannot be categorized as “The Summer of Suck,” as one blogger recently put it.
Then again, there was no shortage of crappy sequels, underwhelming action films, lame-o comedies and a “Terminator” movie that made absolutely no sense but at least gave us one of the most memorable off-camera rants in movie history. “Oh GOOD for you!”
Some of the highs and lows of the moviegoing summer of 2009:
Best movies of the season:
1. “(500) Days of Summer”
2. “Inglourious Basterds”
4. “The Hurt Locker”
5. “District 9”
Honorable mention: “Public Enemies,” “Julie and Julia,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “The Hangover,” “Funny People,” “Star Trek.”
Worst movies of the season (with #1 being the worst):
1. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”
2. “G.I. Joe: the Rise of Cobra”
3. “Land of the Lost”
4. “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”
5. “The Ugly Truth”
Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”
Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”
Meryl Streep in “Julie and Julia”
Sharlto Copley in “District 9”
Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “(500) Days of Summer”
Alison Lohman in “Drag Me to Hell”
Best movies you probably didn’t see:
“The Hurt Locker”
“In the Loop”
Best musical number:
I particularly enjoyed the footwork from the guy who plays Turtle on “Entourage.”
Most disappointing movie:
For me it was probably “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” because I was such a fan of the novel. But what worked so well on the printed page came across as confusing, occasionally creepy and sometimes unintentionally funny on the screen. It’s not a terrible film; it’s just mushy and convoluted. Rachel McAdams was lovely and winning and there were a few genuinely effective romantic moments, but Eric Bana was a bit stiff as the object of her undying devotion. An ending that should have left audiences drowning tears was telegraphed so many times it had little impact upon arrival.
Most effective and weirdly anachronistic song choice:
David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” was originally used to such great effect in the eerie erotic thriller from the early 1980s
And now it shows up in “Inglourious Basterds” as a scene-setter for the climactic showdown in the movie theater, and you’re thinking “Where the hell did THAT come from?” And yet, somehow it works perfectly. That Tarantino is one wacky-ass filmmaker. (A good source tells me Tarantino would love to do a show on satellite radio in which he just plays music from his private collection. Something tells me it stretches far beyond the music of the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.)
“(500) Days of Summer,” an eclectic and carefully chosen of songs that augment the story without shouting, “Check out the Indie Hipster Music!” The soundtrack includes selections from everyone from Simon & Garfunkel and Hall & Oates to The Temper Trap and Regina Spektor. There’s also “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” from the Smiths. How appropriate that the song would show up in a smart and funny and touching film around the same time the movie world was mourning John Hughes. In “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the Dream Academy does an instrumental cover of “Please…” that plays during the beautiful Art Institute sequence…
R.I.P.: John Hughes.