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Archive for May, 2010

Neglected Gems: Lila Says

In 2004, a wonderful movie about sexual awakening came out of France. Lila Says tells the story of Chimo, a teenager in an Arabic neighborhood of Marseilles who falls in love with Lila, a new girl on the block. Lila plays seductive, entrancing Chimo with peeks up her skirt and sordid tales of past sexual conquests, but their fledgling affair remains innocent… until a more aggressive friend of Chimo’s falls in love with Lila, too.

Adapted from an anonymous French novella that caused a controversy in the country, the plot sounds straightforward, but Lila Says offers a lot of surprises, including interesting camera work by writer-director Ziad Doueiri in his second outing. The film picked up a handful of awards, and has been highly rated at Criticker by nearly everyone who’s seen it.

But that’s not nearly enough people! Summer is just beginning, and that’s the perfect time to watch a great, under-appreciated film about a summertime romance.

Available at Amazon: Lila Says

Search Enhancements: Collections & Auto-Complete

Earlier this week, we introduced a couple new little enhancements to Criticker’s Search functionality: Collections & Auto-Complete

Collections have become one of the most popular and important parts of Criticker, since we introduced them in December, 2008. There are currently over 1500 public collections, where users have gathered everything from Rober Ebert’s Most Hated Films to movies based on video games. There’s always been a search function on the main Collections page, but now we’ve added it to the main search bar and results, as well.

Auto-Complete is something we’ve been wanting to work on for awhile. Especially useful when you’re searching for films with strange or foreign spellings, Criticker will now help complete your search after you’ve typed the first few letters.

Let us know what you think in the comments! And our continuing thanks to go out to all of you who make suggestions on improving Criticker.

The Ten Worst Animated Films EVER – Redo

At #1 and #3, Pokemon rules the list of Worst Animated Films of All Time. This can’t be a surprise; even calling Pokemon 2000 and Pokemon the First Movie “films” is insulting, since they’re little more than advertisements for a card game. But a lot of people watched them… shame be upon them.

This is the first time in the “Top 10” blog feature that we’ve looked at the worst of a genre. Any surprises, or surprising omissions?

Note: This is our second version of this list. We originally included some films that had animated CGI characters, but couldn’t really be considered “animation”. Two Garfield films finished 1st and 2nd that list, which amused us enough to let them slide through. But while they’re terrible, terrible movies, it was ultimately incorrect to label them as animation.

#1. Pokemon: The Movie 2000 (2000) – 2.49
Ash Ketchum must put his skill to the test when he attempts to save the world from destruction. The Greedy Pokemon collector Lawrence III throws the universe into chaos after disrupting the balance of nature by capturing one of the Pokemon birds that rule the elements of fire, lightning and ice. Will Ash have what it takes to save the world?

YtadelThe high point of the movie is when they say the word “sex.” In Pokémon! Other than that, it does nothing to elevate itself above Saturday morning cartoon level, which is fine for 21 minutes but not a feature.

Find Pokemon 2000 at Amazon


#2. Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1992) – 2.61

The popular cartoon cat and mouse are thrown into a disappointing feature film. The story has the twosome trying to help an orphan girl who is being berated and exploited by a greedy guardian.


When a group of scientists are offered funding into genetic research if they agree to try and clone the greatest ever Pokemon, Mew, the end result is success and Mewtwo is born. However Mewtwo is bitter about his purpose in life and kills his masters. In order to become the greatest he throws open a challenge to the world to battle him and his Pokemon. Ash and his friends are one of the few groups of trainers who pass the first test and prepare for battle. However they soon find out about further cloning and Mew 2’s ultimate plan for the earth.


#4. Home on the Range (2004) – 2.70

When a greedy outlaw named Alameda Slim (Quaid) schemes to take possession of the "Patch of Heaven" dairy farm, three determined cows (Barr, Dench, Tilly), a karate-kicking stallion named Buck (Gooding Jr.), and a colorful corral of critters join forces to save the farm in a wild quest full of high-spirited adventure. (Disney)


Davey Stone, a 33-year old party animal, finds himself in trouble with the law after his wild ways go too far. In keeping with the holiday spirit, the judge gives Davey one last chance at redemption – spend the holiday performing community service as the assistant referee for the youth basketball league or go to jail.


#6. Barnyard (2006) – 3.01

A hilarious look at what really happens in a barnyard when the farmer's back is turned. (Paramount)


#7. Heavy Metal 2000 (2000) – 3.10

Upon discovery of a shard of what could be the Loc-Nar, a miner named Tyler who becomes possessed by an insatiable hunger for power and a thirst for immortality. On his way to the planet of youth, Tyler wipes out most of a space colony and kidnaps a sexy woman. His big mistake is that he doesn’t kill the woman’s sister, Julie, who then sets out on a mission of rescue and revenge.


#8. The Rugrats Movie (1998) – 3.13

Tommy faces responsiblity when Dil, his new baby brother is born. As with all newborns, the child becomes a bane to Tommy and the rest of his gang. Even Phil and Lil don’t like them. So they decide to return Dil to where he came from, the hospital. But they get lost along the way, really lost, and get into even more trouble with a circus. Can they find their way home and can Tommy and Dil just get along?


#9. Cool World (1992) – 3.16

A comic strip vamp seeks to seduce her cartoonist creator in order to cross over into the real world.


#10. The Return of Jafar (1994) – 3.31

Jafar comes for revenge on Aladdin, using a foolish thief and Iago's trechery to find away back into power.

100 Years of Special Effects in 5 Minutes

Feeling down on humanity? Massive oil spills, terrorism, never-ending wars, religious strife… nowadays, it’s easy to be a bit depressed about ourselves. But this look back on a century’s worth of FX is really a pick-me-up. It won’t solve the BP oil slick in the gulf, but it’s proof of humanity’s enduring ingenuity. We’re always getting better!

Film Database

DVD Report – May 25th

The Road, Hollywood’s latest Cormac McCarthy adaptation, was neither as beloved nor as successful as No Country for Old Men, but that doesn’t make it a bad film. The novel, which won 2007’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction, recounts a journey undertaken by a man and his son across a post-apocalyptic nightmare world. The bleak landscape and gritty characterizations are keenly brought to life on-screen by director John Hillcoat, in his first big Hollywood feature. Definitely worth a look.

The RoadAverage Tier 6.43
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind and water. It is cold enough to crack stones, and, when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the warmer south, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. The Road @ Amazon

Dear JohnAverage Tier 3.31
While on leave, a U.S. soldier (Channing Tatum) falls for a Southern college student (Amanda Seyfried) whose conservative ideals and heartfelt principles are at once attractive and unfamiliar. But their love is put on hold when the 9/11 terrorist attacks prompt John to reenlist. Now, handwritten letters are the only thing holding the pair together. Lasse Hallstrom directs this modern romance based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. Dear John @ Amazon

Babysitter WantedAverage Tier 4.47
Small college town, girl gets a babysitting job on a rural farm, she is terrorized throughout the night. Babysitter Wanted @ Amazon

Tell-TaleAverage Tier 3.00
A man’s newly transplanted heart leads him on a dangerous journey to find out who murdered its donor. Tell-Tale @ Amazon

DamageAverage Tier 2.57
An ex-con battles it out in the cage to pay for the operation that would save the daughter of his victim. Along the way he finds fatherly love, and friendship, in the most unlikely of places. Damage @ Amazon

Cannes Wraps Up – Uncle Boonmee Rules

Surprising most everyone, Cannes’ Palme d’Or went to Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. A quiet, spiritual reflection on the life of a dying man, Uncle Boonmee’s innovative story-telling and use of fantasy elements impressed Tim Burton, who was the festival’s top judge. Here’s the trailer, which … well, I don’t know. It’s pretty?

I suppose artful meditations on death are allowed to be boring. Anyway, Thailand can use the good news right now.

Other awards:
Grand Prix (Runner-Up): Of Gods and Men (France)
Best Actress: Juliette Binoche for Certified Copy
Best Actor: Javier Bardem for Biutiful, and Elio Germano for La Nostra Vita
Best Director: Mathieu Amalric for On Tour
Screenplay: Poetry (South Korea)

Collection Watch: Existential Films

Existentialism. A “philosophical attitude … that stresses the individual’s unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her choices”. Championed as a philosophy in the postwar years by Jean-Paul Sartre, existentialism was seized upon by a generation of film makers, who strove to capture the essence of the human experience on screen. Themes such as mortality, solitude and anxiety are the hallmarks of existentialist films, as troubled characters search for the meaning behind our presence on Earth.

The loneliness and mystery of existence got you down? Get violent.

Frederic_g54 has created a collection of existential films, and defines them as “Philosophical films that deal with human existence and speak to the human condition, films where characters face an existential crisis, ultimately making you reflect upon your own life.” Though it currently numbers just 43 films, it’s one of the more popular collections at Criticker. The collection is public, so if you know other movies which could be added, don’t hesitate!

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