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Monday, November 8, 2010

Top 50 Movies of the Past Decade (2000 - 2009)

Top 50 Movies of the Past Decade (2000 - 2009)

Towards the beginning of the year I started compiling a list of my favorite movies of the past of course took until November to get it posted. So here it is....a list of my favorite movies from the 00 decade.

50) Team America World Police (2004)
(The South Park creators are crude and immature, but also genius social critics)
49) Sexy Beast (2000)
 (Ben Kingsly as a foul-mouthed British mobster, directed by Jonathan Glazer of Radiohead music video fame)
48) Star Trek (2009)
(If you would have told me years ago, Star Trek would have been #1 at the box office, would have thought you were nuts)
47) Catch me if you can(2002)
(Simple and light-hearted, but superbly acted and directed)
46) Black Hawk Down  (2001)
(Intense modern war-fare)
45) Snatch (2000)
(Foul-mouthed British mobsters, (without Ben Kingsley), fun and stylish, Guy Richie's best)

44) Igby Goes Down (2002)
(An over-looked dark comedy, about a mis-guided youth dealing with his dysfunctional family)
43) In Bruges (2008)
(Colin Farrell in a movie where I didn't hate him. A hilarious performance from Ralph Fiennes, in an ultimately pretty dramatic film)
42) Gegen Die Wand (Head On) (2004)
(A German movie about 2 suicidal Turkish immigrants meeting in a psych-ward and going through with a sham wedding. I've never seen a character get more shafted by a woman...a super psycho woman)
41) Big Fish (2003)
(An emotional and brilliantly directed movie from Tim Burton, about a son trying to truly know his dying father, one of Tim Burton's finest)
40) The Prestige (2006)
 (Christopher Nolan makes this list, with almost all of his movies. I think he's an amazing director, and The Prestige is a compelling film about an escalating competition between to Victorian-era magicians)
39) The Proposition (2005)
(A gritty and haunting western, set in Australia, starring Guy Pearce, directed by John Hillcoat, and written, oddly enough by creepster musician Nick Cave)

38) Shaun of the Dead (2004)
(British humor and zombies...excellent)
37) Casino Royal (2006)
(A solid re-vamping of the Bond series. Daniel Craig's breathed new life into a dying franchise)
36) O Brother Where Art Thou (2000)
(I was not a fan of this movie the first time, but upon further viewings it grew on my as a brilliant mythologizing of Americana) 

35) The Hurt Locker (2009)
(A truly taut thriller, about the insanely dangerous job of bomb-technicians in Iraq. I don't believe it was best-picture worthy, but it was a very solid film)
34)Let the Right One in (2008)
(An original take on the vampire film from Sweden. About a strange friendship of an introvert boy and an ageless child vampire. Remade recently for American audience as "Let Me In")
33) District 9 (2009)
(A truly original alien movie, with incredible special effects, and some pretty awesome action)

32) Downfall (2004)
(A powerful German film about the last days of Adolf Hitler...not a pop-corn movie, but an incredible performance by Bruno Ganz as Hitler)
31) Pans Labyrinth (2006)
(An incredible visual feast by Guillermo Del Toro about a girl escaping into a growingly complex fantasy to deal with the horrors of war all around her)

30) 13 Tzameti (2005)
(A dark-disturbing French film, about a naive young man who gets drawn into an under-world where the rich bet on mass games of Russian roulette...yeah, its intense)
29) Dead Man's Shoes (2004)
(A British film about a man returning to his home town, to hunt down the hooligans that have tormented his mentally handicapped younger brother. This movie will stick with you)

28) Broken Flowers (2005)
(Jim Jarmusch's quirky movie about a man (Bill Murray) who receives an anonymous letter from a former lover, advising him he has a son. What ensues is a dry and haunting comedy about him trying to track down who sent the letter, and who is his son)
27) Gangs of New York (2002)
(An under-appreciated violent epic. Not his best by any means, but Scorsese's style shines)
26) Ammores Perros (2000)
(Mexican film, roughly translating from a saying 'love's a bitch'; following multiple stories, all tied together by...dogs. Sounds strange I know, but a very excellent film)

25) 28 Days Later (2002)
(Changed the zombie film by introducing 'fast zombies'...freaky)
24) Batman Begins (2005)
(Christopher Nolan expertly re-booted the dying Batman franchise, setting the film into real-world realm of believability)
23) A Prophet (2009)
(A french prison film. One of the best film's I've seen this year, was up for best foreign film)

22) The Bourne Identity (2002)
(A great action franchise was started in 2002, in the style that the dying Bond franchise should have been in)
21) Amelie (2001)
(French film about an imaginative French woman, trying to find love...yes sounds very girly, but the visuals of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet are so much fun to watch)

20) Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands (2004)
(A brutally raw Danish crime film. The 2nd in the series is by far the strongest, and stars extremely underrated actor Mads Mikkelsen (Villian from Casino Royal) in an incredible performance. The ending will make you happy, and sad, and unsure all at the same time)

19) About Schmidt (2002)
(I believe this is one of Jack Nicholson's best performances, and an extremely under-rated movie about a retired man who sets out to do something with his life)
18) Mulholland Drive (2001)
(Every time I've seen this film, I've gotten more out of it. David Lynch's surreal take on Hollywood delusion)
17) Borat (2006)
(I laughed for almost every second of this movie. Will go down as one of the funniest comedies ever made)
16) Road to Perdition (2002)
(I may have used the word 'under-rated' one too many times on this list, but I truly think this is one of the most underrated movies of the decade. Tom Hanks as an Irish-Mafia hitman, directed by Sam Mendes)
15) Oldboy (2003)
(Korean film about a man who is locked in a hotel room for years by unseen captors, and then suddenly released. The films follows him tracking down his captors and trying to figure out why he was imprisoned...and features one of the most twisted endings in recent memory)
14) Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)
(Ang Lee's epic featuring flying acrobatic sword-fights)

13) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
(Jim Carey, and Kate Winslet fall in and out of love, and have their minds erased of the whole experience, only to repeat the same 'mistakes'. Visually interesting and poetic in its own way)
12) Minority Report (2002)
(Spielberg's epic about a future dystopia where crimes are non-existent due to the help of psychics. Incredibly exciting and suspenseful)
11) Children of Men (2006)
(Set in the near future, where inexplicably woman are no longer able to have babies...and hell breaks loose. Tautly directed by Alfonso Cuaron, just barely missing my top 10.

10) Inglorious Basterds (2009)
One of two Tarantino movies in the top 10. I've only seen this movie once, in the theater, but am dying to watch it again. Christopher Waltz and Brad Pitt steal almost every scene they're in. The movie is not as action packed as it appears in trailers, but the movie is filled with some awesome dialogue and extremely memorable scenes. (The Shootout in the basement of the bar) The movie is also a real treat if you're a film nerd, as it taps into a tone of film theory ideas. For example the ending shows Nazi's watching a hyper-violent movie laughing at American's being killed...and then 20 minutes later we all laugh at History being re-written in an over the top fashion. It says so much about the power of films. It shows Nazi's being killed, literally by film. 

9) The Lives of Others (2006)
If you have no seen this movie, do yourself a favor and rent it. Set in East Berlin during the cold war, in essentially a real life 1984 where the government spies on your every move. A writer works in secrecy to create a politically motivated article condemning the government. Little does he know a government agent listens to his every word. The movie is painfully suspenseful, and sticks with you long after its over. 

8) The Lord of the Rings (Series)
What can be said about these movies. Peter Jackson did an amazing job bringing to life the beloved book series. I have not actually read them, but I understand there are pages upon pages of descriptions of the setting, which Jackson created faithfully. Exciting and dramatic, and definetly one of the best series of the decade.

7) There will be blood (2007)
I truly did not know what to think when I went into the theater to watch this movie. What I think now, after seeing the film twice, is that it is a modern "Citizen Kane" (Modern, in that it was made after CK, not that it takes place after it). The  movie is owned by the comanding performance by Daniel Day Lewis. And yes...'blood' is in the title, and yes, the movie is about oil, but no... it is not a metaphor for Bush and/or Iraq, and you sound retarded.

6) Kill Bill (Part 1, Part 2)
People that don't like Tarantino...simply put, are jealous. The man is creepy and weird looking, and probably a complete asshole, but nobody can doubt his love of movies, and nowhere is it more evident than in the campy thrill ride, Kill Bill. I will watch these movies anytime they're on. I remember a period my sophomore year of college, when the film had just hit the premium cable channels, that I watched it in a drunken stupor, spilling ramen noodles all over myself, at 2:30 am, like 8 weekends in a row. Each time thinking...god this movie is awesome!

5) Memento (2000)
Ok, so the movie goes backward...its not the most insane concept to be done in film, but to my 16 year old brain, cultivating a love of cinema..this movie blew my mind, and almost single handedly made me decide to study film in college...(which is exactly why I now work for Wells Fargo) The movie, directed by The Dark Knight's Christopher Nolan, was apparently based  off a short story by his brother. It is such a dense movie, and certainly takes more than one viewing to totally appreciate but it's so well executed that it takes a spot in my top movies of the decade.   

4) The Departed (2006)
The Departed took the very best elements from the original Hong Kong film (Infernal Affairs) and put it in the hands of Martin Scorsese. Throw in an all-star cast, and what you get is by far and away one of the best films of the decade. Gritty crime films are what Scorsese does best, and this is no exception. I have never seen an audience, jump, scream, and then go dead silent as they did at 'that' scene towards the end. If you have not seen The Departed...go do so, now. 

3) City of God (2002)
If you have not seen City of God, you need to. It's one of the most unforgetable films I have ever seen. From the opening sequence, a chicken minutes before slaughter, surrounded by the insturments of his demise, breaks free, a microcosim for the theme of the movie itself. ( (Don't watch the whole movie on youtube) The movie is near perfectly directed, stylish, and poignant. Some of the finest directors in cinema today are from Latin America.

2) The Dark Knight (2008)
I was always annoyed by comic book movies because I felt they were so disconnected from reality. I understand that sounds a little goofy since they are indeed comic books. I just felt like I couldn't suspend my disbelief throughout so many of them, and had always hoped a superhero movie could be set in a reasonable reality. Batman Begins paved the way for what I really think is a masterpiece. This movie was scary good. I haven't been as giddy and excited during a film as I was when  this movie was released...which is why I saw it 3 times in theaters. Of course Heath ledgers portrayal of the Joker will go down as one of the greatest villians in film history. I remember my dad, a huge Jack Nicholson fan, said before seeing The Dark Knight "nobody will top Nicholson in that role" After seeing the movie with my dad...he admitted he was wrong.


1) No Country for Old Men (2007)
When I first saw this movie I loved it, and knew it was something special, although I don't think I really "got it". It's during a 2nd view of this film where you really see why the Coens won and very much deserved best director last year. The way in which they bring to the screen the dark, desperate story by Cormac McCarthy is remarkable. The film's tension-filled cat and mouse game between Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem is a ploy to bring to light the personal spiritual struggle of Tommy Lee Jones' character. He mentions throughout the movie both a profound admiration for the past (repeatadly mentioning that he is a long line of lawmen) as well as a disdain for what has been lost from that time period to now. For the sake of simplicity; violence represents 'spirituality' in many of McCarthy's stories. Tommy Lee Jone's character is always 2 steps behind a vicious serial killing assasin, constantly seeing the effects of Bardem's characters 'work' but never being personally effected. The Coen's do an amazing job of showing the desperation of Jone's character
examining the signs of a phantom killer, one which he will never see, or personally know the brutality of. Throughout the movie Jone's character recalls the ways in which his anscestors 'died by the gun' so to speak, with a sense of jealousy. In an extremely powerful scene Jone's character visits the scene of a crime, where the killer is hiding. You believe Jone's character is almost hoping to be ambushed and attacked, just to feel something real.
The movie is brilliant from start to finish, and the best film of the decade.

Agree, disagree? Something major I forgot let me know!

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Surgery

So this Wednesday we will head back to Iowa City, but this time won't be quite as exciting as the proposal. I will have my first surgery, which will lengthen my left heel cord. The second surgery will be in December, and do the same for my right.

Basically my heel cords are too short for the rest of my leg. While attempting to stand flat on the ground in a normal posture, my heels are raised off the ground. Obviously this creates discomfort, and throws off my balance, etc..

The first surgery was originally scheduled for I was originally expecting to be watching Monday Night Football, while in a pain pill stupor, but due to scheduling conflicts with the anesthesiologist, the surgery was pushed back to Wednesday.

I've never had a real surgery, so I am a bit nervous, but I think the overall benefit of the surgery will be worth it.

...I will provide all the fun details during the recovery. I have the rest of the week off, and will update during the week.

Hopefully won't look this nerdy :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Engagement Story Part II: The Proposal

He Said: After a few top secret meetings at Iowa Diamond, I had decided upon the ring. I was originally thinking of proposing on our anniversary, but felt it was too obvious, and I had always wanted to propose to Christy in Iowa City...but how to get her there? As luck would have it, I had a medical appointment in Iowa City scheduled for August 19th, which she planned on accompanying me to, and I knew she would not see a proposal coming.

She Said: Well I had been anticipating a proposal for awhile. I went with Bob to Iowa Diamond on a couple different occasions back in 2009 and picked out a band that I really loved. I told him I wanted him to decide on the stone but I would really like anything round. Every time a special evening or day would come up I would think 'I wonder if this is it?!' After many times of hyping myself up and it not happening I tried to stop thinking about so not to ruin any moment by thinking this was it. Bob has been working a lot of overtime this summer so I assumed a ring was what he was working towards. But I started thinking the proposal wouldn't happen till next year sometime.
A great place to ring shop!

He Said: I had left the ring at my parents house for safe-keeping, or in case Christy stumbled across it, in what would have surely been a crappy hiding spot on my end. I had lunch with my mom the day before, on the 18th, where she brought me the ring, since I'd be leaving in the morning. I had the ring with me, for a half a day at work (where it didn't leave my sight). My co-workers (the female ones anyway) Oooo'd and ahhhh'd and let me know I had done a good job. I then had the nerve racking job, of keeping this ring on me the entire night and next day.

She Said: I actually picked Bob up that day from work. He had told me he was going to have lunch with his mom that day, which I thought was a bit out of the ordinary. But his sister Janet had just had her second baby that week and family was in town, so I didn't question it too much. So when I picked him up that night from work I really didn't notice anything in his pockets or out of the ordinary.

August 19, 2008

He Said: The next day at my appointment required some x-rays on my ankles, and I thought there was a good chance I'd have to take off my pants at some point during the day...which was sort of a constant fear considering there was nowhere else to keep the ring, than inside my left cargo pocket. When the time came for the x-rays I went into a changing room to change into those awesome over-sized hospital shorts, and contemplate what the hell to do with this ring?! I considered hiding it, in some random cupboard in the changing room, but that only brought with it, crazy fears of it not being there when I get back. So with a lump in my throat I thew my clothes in the provided plastic bag, folding my pants as tight as I could and burring them under my shoes and socks. I just prayed Christy wouldn't open the bag and rummage through my clothes for any reason. It's not like I could have said "Hey...don't look in my pants pockets..."

She Said: The appointment was really long, more waiting time than anything. Close to two hours in the waiting room and then in the exam room. I was talking a mile a minute- for some reason I was extra talkative that day. Bob was pretty quiet but I figured he was nervous about the appointment and if they would recommend surgery. While we were waiting in the exam room, I joked to Bob "Are you going to take me to Spo-Co and propose?" He laughed it off since this was our inside joke. I had no idea what was coming that day.

He Said: So after leaving the appointment, we got some food at one of our favorite places Wig and Pen. Christy then went to talk to her advisers about her thesis....and I sat and sweated. I had it in my head to propose in front of The Old Capitol, and was thinking of the best way to make this happen. I had thought the appointment would go much faster than it did, I figured I would have proposed by 2 or 3 in the afternoon, it was now rolling past 5, and Christy's mom was texting me that she was dying from suspense.
The Wig and Pen in Coralville, Iowa

The 'Bridge, where Christy spent most of her college time.

She Said: Bob seemed more relaxed by time we had gotten food. So this really made me think that the doctor appointment was why he had been so distracted that week and that morning. I had to run a few errands around campus and then ran into a couple people in my department building. Bob was driving around waiting for me and I felt really bad for making him wait after I had been gone for awhile and was trying to hurry.

The Old Cap at Night!
He Said: After her meeting, I picked up Christy at Trowbridge and found a parking spot right in front of The Old was game time. I always thought it was stupid when you see on shows or movies, when guys seem nervous about proposing. I always thought it'd be a breeze, I mean its the person you want to spend your life with...why would you be nervous? But walking with her up to that building, my thoughts were all over the map, and I was sweating like a pig.
We sat down in the shadow of The Old Capitol, on the steps and reminisced about our college days. I wanted to surprise her, so I didn't want to start some obvious speech, and give it when the coast was clear (aka no freshman tour groups walking by) I stood up and faced Christy...

She Said: The first weekend we started dating we had taken a picture in front of The Old Capitol on the Pentacrest and I was totally for taking another one. We walked over and were trying to do it ourselves when someone walked by and offered to take one for us.

August 30, 2008
August 19. 2010

It was pretty humid out that day but I really wanted to walk around campus/downtown so we walked over to sit on the stairs of The Old Capitol. We took some funny pictures and retold a few old stories.

Old Cap Stairs, we were sitting just to the right of the hand rail.

Moccasin Day!

Hanging out.

Does Bob look nervous?

The view of Iowa City from where we were sitting.

Then Bob stood up and sort of looked like he was going to say something important. I took a picture of him because I thought this was kind of unusual.

What's he doing?
He started talking and for a split second my brain turned to 'he's going to propose!' then I told myself 'no, no don't ruin this moment, maybe he planned something cool for us to do in Iowa City since we haven't been here in so long.' The following is how Bob proposed:

Bob: So I emailed your manager a few weeks ago....
Me: What?! Why?!
Bob: Well originally we were only going to take half a day off today, (We ended up having to take the whole day off because his doctor appointment was pushed back from 8am to 12pm.) so I  emailed him to ask if you could have the whole day off.... (this is when 'he's going to propose!' thought crossed my mind then I quickly dismissed it.)
Me: Ok....why?
Bob: Because I thought you would want the rest of the day off after I ask you to marry me.
Me: WHAT?!?!

Bob proceeded to get down on one knee on The Old Capitol steps and ask me that all too important question "Will you marry me?" As he did he pulled a black box out of his pocket and showed me the gorgeous ring. I on the other hand was laughing, screaming, crying and kept saying "Oh my goodness!" I could barely even think straight! Bob started laughing and teared up a little and I finally managed to reboot my brain into forming the word "Yes."

The Ring!
Crying/Still in shock.
The Happy Couple!

After he put the ring on my hand he took pictures of me crying of course, the ring and me calling people. Almost everyone in our families already knew and even some of our friends. Amazingly NO one had given the big surprise away. Kudos family and friends! About the time that we were taking some more pictures a freshman tour group came walking by and they started looking over at us in curiosity. Maybe it was my half crying, half giggling that was still coming out!

He Said: I knew we had to incorporate Sports Column somehow with our engagement, so we walked through downtown, and had ourselves a bottle of cheap champagne in the bar where I had blown her off, over 3 years previously, which seemed perfect :)

Champagne and Ring Photoshoot :)

The spot where we 'met' three years ago.

Inside the dark but comfy Deadwood, sitting in the booth where we first hung out.
She Said: He told me he called Sports Column earlier and asked if they had champagne and that there is a bottle waiting for us. It seemed like a perfect place to celebrate, the place where we met, but only one of us actually remembers. We met up with my friend Lee from grad school and had some champagne and caught up with him. The waitress was so excited. she bought the bottle of champagne for us! Later we also went over to The Deadwood and had a drink with my friend Landon who used to cut my hair when I lived in Iowa City.

Before we left Iowa City we went back to The Old Capitol and took a few more night shots together. When we finally made it back to West Des Moines that night we stopped over at Bob's parents house so they could finally see the ring on my finger, since they were hiding the ring the whole time.

Night at the Old Capitol before we left town.
Night Vision

It was a great day. I originally was so happy with how Bob's doctor appointment went (more on that in a later post), I had no idea the day could get any better. Bob pulled off the perfect engagement. The Old Capitol was the best place in Iowa City to propose. It was actually closed for most of our Undergrad experience. So neither of us spent a whole lot of time hanging out on the steps in between classes as most people do. With every place you live there are good and bad memories, but this was a neutral fresh place. It embodies so much of what we love about Iowa City and heck its part
Your Hand in Mine Aug 19, 2010
of the University of Iowa's logo. Now it will definitely stand out as a very memorable place in Iowa City for us.

So Average People fans, we've been engaged now for a little over two weeks. For the first few days the shock of actually being engaged kept hitting me every time I looked at my ring. I think we are both still trying to get used to calling each other 'Fiance' now. A lot of wedding ideas have been spiraling through our brains since then. I will definitely be keeping you all up to date, but I don't want to overload this blog with too much wedding craze :). We are planning to get married in 2012, so we've got plenty of time!