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365 Days of Cinema II (2011 movie-a-day project)

May 14, 2012

Every entry from my 2011 film-a-day project. This is not by popular demand at all. It’s for me, in order to have all the entries in one place.

Day 1 – The Weather Underground (2002) – A documentary about the radical domestic terrorist group. This helps me understand why the adults in my 1960s youth were so terrified of this group. If they were around now, many people would be crazy furious. I lived through this stuff, and it’s even hard for me to believe it happened. (3 stars)

Day 2 – Hounddog (2007) – I’d stayed away from this controversial Dakota Fanning film. (The then 12-year-old actress plays a 9-year-old who is raped onscreen. Not graphically, but still disturbing.) The film isn’t worth the fuss. But the overriding theme I get from it – in the ultimate redemptive power of music – rings strong and true for me. (2 stars)

Day 3 – Our Man In Havana (1959) – A surprising comedy/drama that’s quietly and alternately ludicrous and tragic. Alec Guiness plays a British expatriate in pre-Castro Cuba who agrees to become a spy for the English. Guiness manufactures agents he’s recruited and plans they’ve uncovered. Hilarious, until the truth catches up with him. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 4 – Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010) A year in the life documentary that paints Rivers as a talented and sympathetic figure. It doesn’t make her any easier to figure out, however. (3 stars out of four)

Day 5 – Carriers (2009) – Ho hum. Another plague flick. Nothing to recommend it, not even Piper Perabo, whom I like in just about everything. Just when I thought one of these idiots was going to get killed off, they survived. What a disappointment. Avoid this one like … well, the plague. (0 stars out of four.)

Day 6 – True Grit (2010) – Fine acting performances and enough touches to make it feel like a Coen brothers movie. I laughed a lot more than I expected to. Jeff Bridges is a national treasure. (3 stars out of four)

Day 7 – House (1977) – In this Japanese horror film – inspired by, of all things, “Jaws” – a girl is eaten by a piano, another literally vanishes in a pile of futons, an ottoman pukes 100 gallons of red paint and there’s a pretty music video at the end. It’s almost like a parody of a Japanese horror movie. I laughed some, anyway. (2 stars out of four.)

Day 8 – Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) – A fascinating look at street art, underground artist Banksy, and by extension the world of art appreciation and understanding and how hype plays into much of what is considered good, bad or just plain confusing. I alternately wanted to applaud and slap a lot of the people in this film. (3 stars out of four.)

Day 9 – Timer (2009) – Hollywood is good for about one romantic comedy a year, and this isn’t it. So even a clever concept – living with a timer on your wrist that goes off when you meet your soul mate – and the presence of Emma Caulfield isn’t enough to make this tolerable. (1 star out of four.)

Day 10 – S&Man (2006) – Read the title as “Sandman,” apparently the title of a series of underground horror films. This documentary is probably not as terrifying as it thinks it would like to be. It doesn’t give away as many secrets as some might like, but it’s difficult to not be taken with the performers’ pleasant off-screen personas. (2 1/2 stars out of four)

Day 11 – Black Dynamite (2009) – I didn’t regard this as much a spoof or parody of blaxsplotation films as a version of “Down With Love” – a funny movie that appreciates its source material, but still works as a film within the genre. If you’ve seen “Shaft” or “Superfly” or anything by Melvin Van Peebles, you will recognize and love this. (3 stars out of four.)

Day 12 – Shutter Island (2010) – Interesting descent into madness matched by the film’s style at the start (odd and mismatched jump cuts, distant acting, too loud music). Probably 30 minutes longer than it needs to be, but at least it’s intelligent. (2 1/2 stars out of four.)

Day 13 – This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006) – I don’t agree with some of the investigative methodology, but the way the MPAA treats some filmmakers is criminal, too. Trying to guess how to censor yourself is @#$! hard. (2 1/2 stars out of four.)

Day 14 – The Education of Charlie Banks (2007) – This twisted tale of misdeeds and ratting someone out could have been much more than it was. It keeps you guessing enough to wonder if it’s going to go in the unpredictable direction it often hints at, but turns tail at the end. Too bad. (2 stars out of four.)

Day 15 – Open Window (2006) – This tale of the aftermath of a sexual assault (starring Robin Tunney) turns engrossing and meaningful. But it does so too late. The pace of the entire first act and too much of the second is dreadful. And the “happy” ending is unforgivable. (1 star)

Day 16 – The Killing (1956) – Stanley Kubrick does film noir. A standard story (shades of the original “Ocean’s 11”) about a robbery at a racetrack, with some classy directing touches. Never boring. (3 stars.)

Day 17 – MirrorMask (2005) – As visually stimulating as it is trippy and haunting. One of those films that doesn’t spend much time explaining itself. Are our imaginations nimble enough to follow along? Mine was, mostly. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 18 – The Crimson Kimono (1959) – Director Samuel Fuller takes on racism between a couple of police pals. As usual with Fuller, the female characters are the most interesting. Good, but not among his best. (2 1/2 out of four stars.)

Day 19 – I Am Comic (2010) – Framed by the comeback of 1980s-90s comedian Ritch Shydner, this documentary gives you an inside look at working standup comedians. It’s a loosely organized film of stories hilarious and tragic. To see a couple of comedians who passed last year – Robert Schimmel and Greg Giraldo – makes this additionally poignant. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 20 – Panic in the Streets (1950) – This just shows that disaster movies with a ridiculous ‘personal’ story at their core didn’t originate in the 1970s or 2000s. The plague hits New Orleans. With a boring script and a budget of a dollar. (1 star.)

Day 21 – Somewhere (2010) – Another excellent effort from director Sofia Coppola, who has mastered telling stories about distant people unsuccessfully trying to emotionally connect. Action? Not much. Intensity? Plenty. (3 stars.)

Day 22 – Women’s Prison (1955) Not even as fun as the title hints. True MST3K fodder, with men under pressure tugging at collars, women prisoners with immaculate hairstyles, hostages, gas, padded rooms … (1 star.)

Day 23 – Penance (2009) – A combination of two tired genres, torture horror and handheld (“Blair Witch”) nonsense, redeemed only by a bravura performance by lead Marieh Delfino. (1 star.)

Day 24 – Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010) – Even though I hate Geddy Lee’s voice, I’m still fascinated by the band’s longevity. This may be the most remarkably unremarkable musical story ever told. No ego, just three guys. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 25 – Human Highway (1982) – Essentially a Neil Young home movie, maybe about a post-nuclear world. Largely improvised, and way too psychedelically “arty” in the third act. Great music (by Young and Devo), though. (1 1/2 stars.)

Day 26 – A Closed Book (2010) – Tom Conti and Daryl Hannah in essentially a two-person play about a blinded writer, his new assistant, and what they hide. Hannah gets better and better. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 27 – Over-Exposed (1956) A true pot-boiler about a female photographer working her way into New York society and getting over her head with gangsters. Cleo Moore is great in the lead role. (2 stars.)

Day 28 – Solitary Man (2009) – Michael Douglas is a 60-year-old weasel who’s messed up too much and it’s finally all catching up to him. Great acting performances all around. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 29 -The Secret to a Happy Ending (2009) – This documentary about the band The Drive-By Truckers is oddly passionless and too often aimless. I really wanted to like this one. (1 1/2 stars.)

Day 30 – The King’s Speech (2010) – Entertaining and (yes) funny film that could result in Oscars for both its male leads. Not great, but not stuffy, and better than I expected. (3 stars.)

Day 31 – Black Swan (2010) – One of the best scary films I’ve seen in years, with dancing and insanity. If you have any idea what’s supposed to be real here and what’s not (in context), you’re way ahead of me. (3 stars.)

Day 32 – Private Parts (1972) – Paul Bartel’s first film as director, this horror farce is long on mood and light on everything else, like a lot of early 1970s low-budget pieces. Not bad, but not good either. But one amazing movie reference joke. (1 1/2 stars.)

Day 33 – After the Thin Man (1936) – It’s always unnerving to see how deliberately paced (with set pieces) movies used to be. And how funny 75-year-old jokes still are. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 34 – Billy Mundae (2010) – An alleged relationship comedy that starts with the title character losing his testicles. Oh yeah, it gets funnier. Somebody must think. (1 star.)

Day 35 – a/k/a Tommy Chong (2008) – A documentary about the drug paraphernalia conviction of comedian Tommy Chong. Who’s surprised that it was a sentence for his career? Some folks need a humor transplant. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 36 – The Evil Dead (1981) – Well, now I see what all the fuss is about. Every time I thought ‘This can’t go any more over the top,’ it did. And then came the chainsaw. This film earned its cult. (3 stars.)

Day 37 – The Mechanic (2011) – I do not believe in guilty pleasures, and will not apologize for liking Jason Statham movies. This remake is the same as most of his action films. You already know whether you’ll like it. I do. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 38 – Sweet Smell of Success (1957) – You couldn’t slice the sleaze in this brilliance with a chainsaw. Tony Curtis is a weasely press agent, Burt Lancaster is a powerful gossip columnist, and the cutting lines come every 30 seconds or so. Amazing. (4 stars.)

Day 39 – Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made (1994) – Director Jim Jarmusch (wearing an array of Ramones t-shirts) accompanies Sam Fuller on a return to the Amazon, where he’d contemplated filming decades earlier. Oddly amusing. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 40 – The Good Night (2007) – A terrible approaching-midlife-crisis film that features Bad Gwyneth Paltrow. (Good Gwyneth exists. Not here.) Laughable lucid dreaming discussion, and an awful, awful ending. (1 1/2 stars.)

Day 41 – Cold Souls (2009) – An ‘Eternal Sunshine’ wannabe about “soul extraction” that’s not as funny or dark as it attempts. Paul Giamatti – playing ‘himself’ (shades of “Being John Malkovich”) – is, as always, pitch-perfect. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 42 – Who Is Harry Nilsson? (2006) – A documentary about the singer-songwriter who appeared poised to dominate the 1970s, but wound up cheated, physically wrecked and financially and artistically bankrupt. Upbeat nevertheless, believe it or not. (3 stars.)

Day 43 – The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) – Kirk Douglas is the bad, and Lana Turner and a couple of guys are the beautiful. A true soap opera-ish Hollywood tale. Probably better on broadcast TV, with commercials. (2 stars.)

Day 44 – Emmanuelle 7 (1993) – I had a crazy crush on Sylvia Kristel in the late 1970s. The 1980s weren’t good to either of us. And the Emmanuelle series unbelievably turned even sillier. (1 star.)

Day 45 – The Naked City (1948) – Filmed in New York, this story about a murder investigation was revolutionary in its time, and still looks and feels pretty good today. Even if it’s a bit over-written. Well-directed. (3 stars.)

Day 46 – The Other Guys (2010) – I’m stunned at how much I laughed out loud at this Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg cop parody. More than a laugh a minute, literally. (3 stars.)

Day 47 – The Tillman Story (2010) – Military tragedy squared or cubed. This is the kind of story that used to take years to uncover. Terribly sad, and terribly important. (3 stars.)

Day 48 – The Horse’s Mouth (1958) – A British comedy with Alec Guinness as an eccentric artist. Not much of a comedy, but Guinness, as always, is great. Yeah, he’s messing with his voice. (2 stars.)

Day 49 – Now You Know (2002) – This low-budget effort from Jeff Anderson – part of the Kevin Smith stable – shows Smith’s advice of “just do it” works better if you have Smith’s skill for dialog. Rashida Jones, early in her career, is resplendent. (1 1/2 stars.)

Day 50 – The Fifth Patient (2007) – Thriller about a man who wakes up in an African hospital unaware of his identity. Very little charisma or intrigue, regardless of how many artificial twists it throws. (1 1/2 stars.)

Day 51 – The Social Network (2010) – Director David Fincher does a great job of making a story of talking pictures feel like it has some action. Great acting performances. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 52 – Winter’s Bone (2010) – Wow, what a great performance by Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence. One of the better in a year of fantastic female performances. The movie is pretty much what you’d expect, but she makes it worth watching. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 53 – Greenberg (2010) – (Serious) Ben Stiller is an unlikeable and lost New Yorker in L.A. Lead actress Greta Gerwig is a revelation, but find her in something else. Almost everyone in this miserable movie about miserable people and their miserable lives needs to be slapped. (1 1/2 stars.)

Day 54 – I Think We’re Alone Now (2010) – A documentary about two intense Tiffany fans. While it’s kind to its subjects, it’s also a much closer look at the potential fragile state of human minds than I really feel comfortable viewing. (3 stars.)

Day 55 – Chinese Coffee (2000) – Al Pacino and Jerry Orbach are friends who talk and argue for the majority of the time here. I’ll watch Pacino read the phone book, but really, this is just OK. (2 stars.)

Day 56 – Dead Alive (1992) – Director Peter Jackson’s early zombie bloodfest effort shows signs of what was to come (“The Frighteners”), but is a little too low-budget and gore-driven for my taste. Where’s the love? Where’s the passion and compassion? Where’s the acceptable acting? (1 1/2 stars.)

Day 57 – The Fighter (2010) – I am completely weary of films set and accented in Bahwstun, but this is still great top to bottom, from Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale to watching Amy Adams high jump and bust faces. (3 stars.)

Day 58 – Unknown (2011) – I’ll enjoy Liam Neeson in just about anything. Sadly, this is just “Taken” with amnesia, or Bourne with a biotech degree. It could have been so much more. (2 stars.)

Day 59 – Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes (2008) – A leisurely paced documentary about the real “Prairie Home Companion” radio show, and a nice look at its creator. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 60 – Still Bill (2009) – Bill Withers was huge in the music world in the early 1970s, then just left to “do something else.” This tracks him before, during and since in a fascinating look at a fascinating person who’s his own man. (3 1/2 stars.)

Day 61 – Underworld USA (1961) – Another Samuel Fuller film. Not as dark as some of his other films, this organized crime drama falls into cliches sometimes, including a full dive in the last five minutes. But like all Fuller films, it moves at a steady pace and looks great. (2 stars.)

Day 62 – Night Train (2009) – What starts out as a standard mystery on a train story goes completely wacky in the third act, in neither a great nor awful way. Probably Leelee Sobieski’s best performance ever, if that means anything to you. It does to me. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 63 – Another Thin Man (1939) – Nick and Nora Charles add a baby and a few guffaws, but the series is starting to show a few frayed edges with this third entry. And friends tell me they turn weaker. Still, William Powell is a stitch. (2 stars.)

Day 64 – The Dinner Game (1998) – The French film on which “Dinner For Schmucks” was based. This is essentially a one-room play, but it’s much funnier. Terrific twists, and nothing close to the Americanized version, so even if you’ve seen that, this will amuse you. (3 stars.)

Day 65 – Videocracy (2009) – A convoluted and scattershot Italian documentary about reality, celebrity and media in that country. Little context is offered, and I never really got past the guy with the Mussolini hymns on his cell phone (1 1/2 stars.)

Day 66 – Somebody to Love (1996) Rosie Perez plus Steve Buscemi plus Harvey Keitel – and Sam Fuller as apparently a car-crashing ghost – should add up to a lost treasure. But someone forgot to add a story along the way. I really like Perez, and this has nice characters, but … (1 1/2 stars.)

Day 67 – Conversations With Other Women (2006) – Talking pictures, made more interesting by the performances (Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Eckhart) and a continual split screen, sometimes showing scenes from the past. Made more interesting, but not real interesting. (2 stars.)

Day 68 – Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison (2010) – The worst. I’d read about how awful this alleged documentary was, but didn’t think it could be as bad as it is. It’s worse. Watch “Help!” instead. (0 stars.)

Day 69 – Death at a Funeral (2010) – While these ensemble-type pieces normally make me wince at the cliches and conveniences of character and story, this one made me smile, mainly Chris Rock and (surprisingly) Martin Lawrence. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 70 – Eat the Document (1966) – A pirated version of a documentary of Bob Dylan’s 1966 British tour. Essentially a amateur version of “Don’t Look Back.” Still, I like Dylan a lot, and despite the choppy nature, this is interesting, even without context. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 71 – The Rite (2011) – Some possession films bring new ideas to the table. This one is decidedly ordinary, despite the presence of Anthony Hopkins and a whole bunch of frogs. (2 stars)

Day 72 – The Adjustment Bureau (2011) – A nice metaphysical love story that gives us some answers about why things work they do – because of The Plan. Two likable leads in Matt Damon and Emily Blunt as well. (3 stars.)

Day 73 – Until the Light Takes Us (2008) – A documentary about the Norwegian 1990s death metal scene and the violence within it. What’s unnerving is how calm and rational those interviewed seem, even as they talk about church burnings and murders. The fire footage and imagery is unbelievable. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 74 – Battle: Los Angeles (2011) – Not an alien invasion flick as much as a standard war movie with a dedicated Marine going after redemption and a standard cast of melting pot Americans. Not as special effects-laden as you might imagine. Not as entertaining, either. (2 stars.)

Day 75 – Cromwell (1970) – The class of British actors (Richard Harris, Alec Guiness, Robert Morley – what, no Peter O’Toole?) recreate the country’s 17th century civil war and brief subsequent abolition of its monarchy. Well done. (3 stars.)

Day 76 – The Page Turner (2007) – Revenge is served ice cold in this French film about a young girl whose piano career is destroyed by a thoughtless act. Sometimes true domestic terror is more interesting than graphic horror. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 77 – Harlan Ellison: Dreams with Sharp Teeth (2008) – A documentary on one of the great writers of his generation. Ellison comes off as angry, hilarious and brilliant, which syncs with his persona. He tells his story well. (3 stars)

Day 78 – The Last House on the Left (1972) – Still edgy now, so imagine this 39 years ago. A low-budget torture/terror flick, amateurish, but you can’t look away. (3 stars)

Day 79 – Shock Corridor (1963) – A numbing Samuel Fuller flick about a reporter committing himself to an asylum to solve a murder. Horribly cliched in some spots, but Constance Towers is brilliant as always, and this film may be Fuller’s best. (3 stars)

Day 80 – Paul (2011) – A combination of “Men In Black,” chase films, and foul-mouthed teen comedy, this never really clicks on all three, but has it moments. It features an especially fun batch of supporting players, though, and one brilliant joke. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 81 – The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998) – I thought I knew this guy’s story, but I wasn’t even close. The first great American Jewish athlete, Greenberg’s baseball career is recounted fondly via contemporary interviews with him, fellow players, and with an annoying amount of stock footage. (3 stars)

Day 82 – The Third Man (1949) – A nice mystery with a talented cast and perhaps more shots filmed in darkness than any movie before or since. Great shots, and clearly a classic film, but I found myself oddly disengaged. (2 1/2 stars out of four)

Day 83 – Jesus Christ Vampire Slayer (2001) – Nothing could live up to the title, of course. At least there are some clever jokes (and a song) hidden in this poorly dubbed grindhouse wannabe, which looks like it was filmed on Super8 stock. Disappointing, given what it could have been. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 84 – Serenity (2005) – Joss Whedon gets brutal with science fiction – don’t get too attached to anything that’s going on, because it will change – in a finely crafted film. I don’t feel like I missed anything by not seeing any of the “Firefly” TV show, although I imagine it might have helped. (3 stars)

Day 85 – Pervert! (2005) – An homage to Russ Meyer’s busty vixen films from the 1960s. Hilarious in all the right places with R-rated claymation, all moronic and fun. Tails off in the third act. No pun intended. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 86 – Paranoid Park (2007) – Teen skateboard-related accidental killing is investigated. Slowly. I keep trying with Gus Van Zant’s deliberately paced, quiet and supposedly intense films. I’ve liked exactly one – “To Die For.” That remains the case. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 87 – The Man in the White Suit (1951) – Alec Guiness invents a fabric that upends the British garment industry. Neither as funny or as dramatic as it wants to be, but Joan Greenwood is as fun to watch (and hear) as Guiness is restrained here. (2 stars)

Day 88 – Four Lions (2010) – A comedy about radical yet incompetent Muslims in England is a bold idea. And there are a handful of good jokes here, but not enough to pull off a full-length comedy. The uncomfortable tone change in the last 20 minutes doesn’t help. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 89 – Niagra (1953) – Technicolor noir with Marilyn Monroe and the Falls. Monroe is a classic vamp conspiring to murder her man and Jean Peters rises above the material with her performance. (2 1/2 stars.)

Day 90 – Red Riding Hood (2011) – I came for Amanda Seyfried and stayed for Gary Oldman, who chews more scenery in five minutes here than Al Pacino can in a day. Still, way less than it could have been. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 91 – Night and the City (1950) – Richard Widmark is a small-time promoter who finds a way to take over wrestling in England. Of course, tragedy ensues. Gene Tierney and an especially desperate Widmark make this noir worthwhile. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 92 – Moog (2004) – Dreadfully disjointed and dull documentary about the creator of the synthesizer that bears his name. Not even rock stars Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman can rescue it. (1 star)

Day 93 – Sucker Punch (2011) – A noble failure. A visual delight with a story not as disjointed as I’d feared. It’s still too much live-video-game for my taste, and the third act’s violence is numbing. (2 stars)

Day 94 – Limitless (2011) – It takes someone with Bradley Cooper’s personality to carry something like this, an improbable mix of science fiction and fantasy and action. A clever idea, with the most annoying credit sequence of the year so far. (3 stars)

Day 95 – Dirty Pretty Things (2002) – A look at the dark side of the underground world of a pair of illegal immigrants in London. Fine performances (especially Audrey Tautou), and a surprise at every turn. Not always a good surprise, either. (3 stars)

Day 96 – The Snake Pit (1948) – Olivia de Havilland is incredible in this tale of mental illness and its treatment in the middle of the 20th century. Some of the situations are over the top and the solutions simplistic, but the film has harrowing moments nevertheless. (3 stars)

Day 97 – 11 Harrowhouse (1974) – Charles Grodin is a small time diamond merchant who sets up a huge and improbable heist. John Geilgud, James Mason and Candice Bergen are along for the ride in this slight and unspectacular effort. (2 stars)

Day 98 – WWE: The Rise & Fall of WCW (2009) – How did the a group that produced some of the 1990s’ top-rated cable programming go to waste? This gives you some clues, walking the thin line between truth and pro wrestling fiction. Even if you’re not a fan, a fascinating look behind the scenes. (3 stars)

Day 99 – The Seventh Seal (1957) – There’s more humanity than I expected in this legendary Swedish film framed by the conceit of a man playing chess with Death in an attempt to stave off his demise. Stunning images that stick with you for a long time, and even some humor. (3 stars)

Day 100 – Source Code (2011) – Science fiction that’s clever and stays true to itself without cheating is rare and wonderful. This isn’t just the action piece it’s being sold as. It’s thoughtful and touching and intelligent, and gives its audience some credit. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 101 – Opera (1987) – This Italian terror film is a cross between the truly scary and the truly bizarre. Lots of ropes and knives and ravens, and lots of Verdi’s “Macbeth” opera. Great direction by Dario Argento. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 102 – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) – The world of director Terry Gilliam is a strange, wonderful, visually fascinating place that doesn’t play with the same rules the rest of us do. The trick is finding your way in. I sadly couldn’t with this, and I wanted to. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 103 – The Joneses (2010) – Both a parody and indictment of consumerism and the concept of the perfect family. “Sleath marketers” – a pretend family – move in to a community and wreak havoc with others (keeping up with the Joneses) and themselves. Demi Moore can actually act sometimes. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 104 – The Rage (2007) – I watched this because I like scream queen Erin Brown (Misty Mundae), who stays clothed here. It’s a horror/zombie/nature’s revenge flick with enough handheld camera action, screaming and weak acting to give you a migraine. Nice anamatomic birds, though. (1 star)

Day 105 – Le Samourai (1967) – An influential French film about a methodical loner hitman who completes a job and has to elude police and his employers. So much of a template that even John Woo admits to its influence on him. Lyrical. (3 stars)

Day 106 – Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) – Richard Widmark and a truly against-type Marilyn Monroe as a disturbed woman improperly entrusted with a young girl. Filmed on maybe three sets. Monroe shows she had skills as well as being a sex bomb. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 107 – Casino Jack and the United States of Money (2010) – This documentary look at convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff does nothing to quiet my cynicism about our political process. Essentially everyone is out to fill their pockets. No one comes off as a hero. You couldn’t get away with making this stuff up. (3 stars)

Day 108 – A Man For All Seasons (1966) – It’s easy to see why this won the Oscar for best picture and Paul Scofield (as tragic hero Thomas More, silent protester of Henry VIII’s bullying of the church) won best actor. Moved impressively from stage to screen, with amazing performances. (4 stars)

Day 109 – Cop Out (2010) How did a cast this talented make a movie this awful? The reviews were bad, and the movie is worse. The best acting is done by someone who speaks only Spanish. Thousands of blank cartridges wasted, a couple of jokes thrown away. Ugh. (1/2 star.)

Day 110 – The Lodger (2009) – A predictable, by-numbers police drama about chasing a Jack the Ripper copycat. Dull as dirt, except for an improbable role and performance by Hope Davis as a damaged and potentially damaging landlady. An utterly ridiculous ending, however. (1 stars)

Day 111 – Never Forever (2007) – A woman deals with tragedy, expectations and her husband’s infertility in the only way she deems capable. Vera Fermiga is, as usual, amazing and bold and brave. She carries the film with her eyes. And a marvelous ending. (3 stars)

Day 112 – American Raspberry (1977) – Barely a smile in this episodic sketch flick, done in the style of “Kentucky Fried Movie” and “The Groove Tube.” Those 1970s films were just as spotty, but funnier. Not even a very young Harry Shearer can rescue this. (1/2 star)

Day 113 – Best Laid Plans (1999) – Josh Brolin and a pre-Oscar Reese Witherspoon star in this modern noir with a predictable and unexciting series of twists and turns that doesn’t even seem to delight in its own existence. Too Bad. Good cast. Could have been a contender. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 114 – Sisters (1973) – A trippy horror/terror/mystery film starring Margot Kidder as a French Canadian model and Jennifer Salt as a reporter trying to solve a murder. The third act goes completely wacko, and serves as a template for much of director Brian DePalma’s work in the ensuing decade. (3 stars)

Day 115 – Vampyres (1974) – Sometimes there’s a reason you’re excluded from the cult of a specific film. 25 years ago, maybe lesbian vampires would have made up for pointless shots of nothing and tension phonied up by music. Not so much for me today, though. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 116 – Salt (2010) – Angelina Jolie as a sleeper agent in this action thriller that truly provides some action thrills. The plot twists grow increasingly ridiculous in the third act, and there are clearly ulterior motives with the ending. Still, more fun that most. (3 stars)

Day 117 – Descent (2007) – Rosario Dawson is an assault victim who strives to rebuild her life, taking a number of missteps on the way. Dawson has a powerful monologue at the end, but the way-too-deliberate pace takes away any impact that film might have. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 118 – Dario Argento: An Eye For Horror (2000) – A decade-old retrospective documentary about the Italian terror/horror director who influenced John Carpenter and worked with George Romero. His early years, unknown to me, and the ongoing family issues are fascinating. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 119 – Fame (2009) – A pale remake of the 1980 film which (improbably) remains gritter and more believable. There’s talent in the young cast, but their stories turn more and more soap opera-ish by the time we get to senior year. Disappointing. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 120 – Frontier(s) (2007) – This French frightfest goes through many genres and never settles on one. We get chases, damsel in distress, splatter, torture – none done particularly well. Deceptive trailer, and a first act that seems beamed in from another movie. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 121 – Scream 4 (2011) – Awww, isn’t that cute? You get 90 minutes of a scrambling, silly story and some gore, and an attempt to rescue it in the final 15 minutes. AND about a dozen spots where it could end before it finally does. Pass on this and go back to the original. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 122 – Hop (2011) – If this had twice as much heart as it does, it wouldn’t have half the heart of ‘Despicable Me,” which the same team put out last year. A sad waste of seamless interaction between animation and live actors, and of Hank Azaria’s voice work. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 123 – Obscene (2007) – An eye-opening documentary about book publisher and film distributor Barney Rosset, a Chicago native who fought obscenity battles on many fronts. Henry Miller, Malcolm X, Allan Ginsberg, Samuel Beckett and more all figure in this incredible tale. (3 stars)

Day 124 – Sleep My Love (1948) – Don Ameche schemes to convince his wife of her insanity so he can gather her money and marry his mistress. Predictable, but stylized and well-acted under Douglas Sirk’s direction. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 125 – Horsey (1997) – Poorly written, atrociously acted and horribly directed about boring young adults who fit every miserable cliche imaginable – straight, gay, dramatic, passive, addicts, selfish, immature. The worst. (0 stars)

Day 126 – A Touch of Flesh (aka You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie!) (1960) – A true potboiler, complete with odd acting and bad match-cuts. A classic second film from a double feature about how a rich man’s daughter’s pregnancy sets off a frenzy in a small southern town. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 127 – All Good Things (2010) – A murder mystery wrapped around a tragic love story that makes pretty clear where it stands on the case on which it’s based. Excellent acting from Kirsten Dunst and Ryan Goslin, but a standard story. (2 stars)

Day 128 – The Midnight Meat Train (2008) – Some stylized gore, some flickering lights, some predictable horror beats and a whole ton of WTF moments in this splatter flick. I will have my revenge on those who recommended this to me. (1 star)

Day 129 – Easy A (2010) – I resisted, because of the “Mean Girls” comparisons. But yeah, this one’s better and funnier and works on multiple levels. This is more than a laugh a minute. Incredibly well-crafted. Wish I’d seen it sooner. (4 stars)

Day 130 – Rio (2011) – Fairly predictable macaw-out-of-water tale. But it looks great, has a couple of decent pieces of music and the voices are well-cast. Kids will love the color, and parents won’t despise the experience. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 131 – The Night of the Hunter (1955) – Robert Mitchum as a sinister minister in search of some hidden stolen cash. Fantastically composed shots, and Mitchum is wonderful. Unfortunately, the movie grinds to a halt in his absence. As a result, the third act withers and dies. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 132 – Scott Walker 30 Century Man (2006) – A documentary about the singer/composer who’s been known as the voice of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.” He’s spent years working on the music in his head, which even fans described as “not songs anymore.” A fascinating look at the driven, committed only to art. (3 stars)

Day 133 – Three Blind Mice (2003) – This computer/murder/police procedural could be put on a loop and you could walk in at any point and it would still be incomprehensible and boring. Cliches (angry cop supervisor, beeping computers, surveillance cameras) abound, and they’re all dull. (1/2 star)

Day 134 – The Independent (2001) – Jerry Stiller stars in this mockumentary about a B- (or C-) film producer/director. You’ll recognize a lot of faces in the cameos from the film “clips” included. An amusing if predictable effort. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 135 – When You’re Strange (2009) – A by-the-numbers documentary about the history of The Doors and Jim Morrison. There’s little new here if you’re at all familiar with the well-known tale, but some of the vintage footage may surprise even long-time fans. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 136 – Something Borrowed (2011) – I’m still waiting for Kate Hudson to make a movie as good as “Almost Famous,” and I don’t think it’s going to happen. I avoid rom-coms for a reason, and not even the cute Ashley Williams-John Krasinski subplots rescue this. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 137 – Triangle (2009) – I don’t want to give away anything about this trippy flick. I went into it with just good recommendations, and others should too. All I can really say is it’s an intelligent, thought-provoking brain-teaser, and it may require multiple viewings. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 138 – The Lady Eve (1941) – Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck shine in this clever romantic comedy that truly is romantic and comic. Even the throwaway secondary characters get laugh lines in this fast-paced Preston Sturges film. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 139 – Stagecoach (1939) – A template for much of what was to follow in John Wayne films and Westerns in general. To my surprise, it looks great, and is not nearly as cliched as I was expecting, even after seeing recreations and parodies. (3 stars)

Day 140 – Breast Picture (2010) – A porn director attempts to make a legitimate film on the side while making an adult movie. This was done earlier and better with Leelee Sobieski and Denise Richards in “Finding Bliss.” And believe it or not, no nudity, even with an ex-porn star as leading lady. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 141 – The Art of the Steal (2009) – An even-handed documentary about the battle for The Barnes Foundation, a fantastic and valuable art collection housed in a small Philadelphia suburb. This is a thriller with more twists and turns than a “National Treasure” film. (3 stars)

Day 142 – The Expendables (2010) – I stayed away from this gathering of action heroes because I feared the film would resemble some of writer/director Sylvster Stallone’s miserable efforts. Pleasantly surprised, I’m actually interested in next year’s sequel, which apparently returns everyone. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 143 – I Wake Up Screaming (1941) – An early earliest American film noir is rife with many of the cliches of the genre, before they were cliches. Betty Grable and Carole Landis are sisters, and look as fantastic as you might expect. Confusing use of “Over the Rainbow” as a recurrent musical theme. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 144 – Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie (1995) – Disappointly bland documentary about the history of the United States’ atomic, hydrogen and nuclear weapons. It boasts previously classified footage, but that’s canceled out by ominous and portentous music and bland talking head presentations. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 145 – Manderlay (2005) – The sequel to “Dogville” and the second of director Lars von Trier’s anti-U.S. triolgy isn’t quite as shocking as the first, but the message comes through clearly. The bare-bones staging remains stunningly effective, and again I couldn’t turn my head away even as I was annoyed (and worse) with what I was seeing. (3 stars)

Day 146 – Sacred Flesh (2000) – Pretentious and boring effort masked as either a European art film or a sexploitation film without any sense of fun. When you feel embarrassed for the actresses and want them to put their clothes back on, something’s seriously wrong. (0 stars)

Day 147 – How to Murder Your Wife (1965) – Jack Lemmon is a confirmed bachelor who marries a Miss Universe competitor and wants out. Not one of Lemmon’s better comedies. Virna Lisi is memorable the sexy European bombshell. (2 stars)

Day 148 – The Tourist (2010) – You’d think it would be impossible to make a romance-action film with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie and have it be neither romantic nor thrilling. In this case, you’d be wrong, and waste two hours besides. (1 star)

Day 149 – Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides (2011) – More somber than I’d expect from “Pirates,” and a more discernible plot than the last one. The mermaid subplot is surprising and amusing. Penelope Cruz, regrettably, is neither. And not enough smart-aleck Captain Jack. (2 stars)

Day 150 – The Hangover Part II (2011) – More of the same, as expected, except with a monkey. If you loved the first one, this will make you happy. Still not enough Chow, but early word is right – the photos with the credits are unbelievable and the best part of the film. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 151 – Bridesmaids (2011) – I figure I’m alone, but this strikes me as more “About Schmidt” than a female “Hangover.” There’s more tragedy and sadness than laughs. Co-writer Kristen Wiig gives herself a completely unlikable character, and not even a miraculously predictable final 15 minutes can save it. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 152 – The Wicker Man (1973) – The original, remade in 2006. This version is as scary (particularly psychologically) as the Nicolas Cage version is silly. Amazing performances by Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, and probably the best Britt Ekland ever was. (4 stars)

Day 153 – Stone (2010) – Had anyone suggested a film starring Edward Norton and Robert DeNiro would have me aching for a fast-forward button, I’d have argued intensely. And my intense arguing would have been more dramatic than anything either of them did in this paycheck vehicle. (1 star)

Day 154 – Day for Night (1973) – This French movie was the first look many got at what it’s really like behind the scenes of a film. Plenty of movies have been devoted to this topic, but this one – with romantic entanglements, a boozy actress, improvising to make the best of bad situations – is among the best. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 155 – The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) – Richard Burton (one of his seven Academy Award nominations) and Claire Bloom shine in this intellectual Cold War spy story. Intense, but largely a story told by talking heads sitting in rooms. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 156 – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) – The comic book-meets-video game world here is a little out of my realm, but the movie looks cool and there’s enough wit in the script to appeal to most, even those of us who are really weary of Michael Cena. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 157 – By Love Possessed (1961) – What “Peyton Place” hath wrought. (This also stars Lana Turner.) Predictable soap opera about lawyers and ne’er-do-wells (sometimes the same people) in a point-and-shoot flick. Features a cute young Yvonne “Batgirl” Craig. (1 star)

Day 158 – Visioneers (2008) – Zach Galifianakis stars in a tale of a dystopia where citizens are literally exploding. The very definition of a dark comedy for two acts, it turns brutal (and unfortunately starts to lag when it should be its most powerful) in the final half-hour. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 159 – Daydream Nation (2010) – An interesting slice of life about an alienated teen girl in new surroundings and how she handles herself and a select few others. Kat Dennings has to carry the film and shines in that capacity. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 160 – Jack Goes Boating (2010) – A quiet, deliberately paced film about a couple of shy lower-class people played by Amy Ryan and director Philip Seymour Hoffman. The film is fine, if unremarkable. The acting is, as you might suspect, spectacular. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 161 – Spin (2007) – Six people’s lives intersect, and they realize their missteps and misadventures the following day. Part funny, part dramatic and plenty clever from a filmmaking point of view. Better than I expected it would be. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 162 – Super 8 (2011) – I love being surprised by a movie, and while this felt like some time-honored films of the past (“E.T.,” “The Goonies”), it was at the same time new and fresh. Mark my words: One of the Fanning sisters will win an Oscar within the next 10 years. And so will director J.J. Abrams. (3 stars)

Day 163 – Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) – Alec Guinness plays eight roles, led by a man who avenges his mother being cast out by her well-to-do family by killing all the members of that family (played by him). A dark comedy that’s not filled with guffaws but with smirks. (3 stars)

Day 164 – Cannibal! The Musical (1993) – A pre-“South Park” independent film (yes, a musical) from the controversial TV show’s co-creator, Trey Parker. Lots of indie missteps, but lots of signs of what was to come from Parker as well. And the guy writes a solid song. (2 stars)

Day 165 – X-Men: First Class (2011) I understand it’s a comic book movie, but boy, this is about as subtle as a mallet to the forehead. (Tolerance! Be yourself!) That said, this is action-packed and even establishing the characters is done quickly and in the flow of the story. Good fun. (3 stars)

Day 166 – Teenage Catgirls in Heat (1997) – The people who work on Troma films seem to be having so much fun making movies, I feel like a terrible curmudgeon for disliking them. But they’re awkward, shot poorly and nonsensical. I don’t care if that’s the point. It’s bad. (0 stars)

Day 167 – Winter of Frozen Dreams (2008) – An apparently true story of a college dropout who turns to blackmail, prostitution and murder. The real story has to be more interesting and involving than this dull and faux-ominous snoozer. (1 star)

Day 168 – The Masque of the Red Death (1964) – Truly magnificent early 1960s horror starring Vincent Price as the evil devil-worshiping Prospero and directed by Roger Corman, who was probably working with the largest budget he ever had. (3 stars)

Day 169 – Naked Ambition: An R Rated Look at an X Rated Industry (2009) – The story behind a coffee table book of portraits of adult entertainment stars, and other looks at the accoutrements and fringe players of the adult industry. Without judgment. And without a real focus or point of view, unfortunately. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 170 – Destry Rides Again (1939) – Jimmy Stewart is a Wild West deputy who declines to carry guns. A fast-aced wry comedy from Hollywood’s greatest year, and you can see how Madeline Kahn Xeroxed her “Blazing Saddles” character from Marlene Dietrich. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 171 – 60 Spins Around the Sun (2003) – Fascinating documentary about comedian/activist Randy Credico. Amazing stuff on what he did, including his disastrous “Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” debut. I don’t know how I missed this guy, but I’m sorry I did. (3 stars)

Day 172 – Abduction (2009) – Not quite terror, not quite horror, not quite exploitation or torture porn and definitely low-budget, this tale about a town that harvests bodies and parts never really coalesces. The most curious use of close-ups this side of Bunuel. (1 star)

Day 173 – Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story (2004) – A mockumentary about the return to paintball of a champion after a 10-year suspension. Pretty basic and predictable and not as funny as it should be, except for a transcendent film debut by Ed Helms. (2 stars)

Day 174 – Pirate Radio (2009) – The story of British pirate radio ships in the mid 1960s. It doesn’t matter how accurate the story is – the movie (and the real story) is about the love of music, and the irrepressible spirit that true passion provides. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 175 – Damaged Goods (1961) – A cautionary teen tale about the terrors of strange women and VD (the original title of the film). Nothing happens in the first 40 minutes. Nothing. Bonus points for stock footage of Hamms beer being poured. The third act includes a 15-minute 1960s vintage U.S. government STD film. (1 star)

Day 176 – The Killer Inside Me (2010) – Casey Affleck is a psychotic deputy in a film that aspires to be more, but actually is just stylized torture porn with a nice 1950s dressing and a set designer who wasted some good work. No character insight, nothing to say, just some graphic physical violence. (1 star)

Day 177 – Andrei Rublev (1966) – It’s regarded as one of the greatest films made. I don’t know if it was the subject matter (a 15th century Russian painter), the foreign language or the 3 1/2-hour length, but I couldn’t get myself to care. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 178 – The Hole (2001) – A standard but cleverly constructed terror tale about four British students locked in a bunker. The time-twisting tale stars Thora Birch (from her “Ghost World” era), and is more chilling than you’d think at the start. (3 stars)

Day 179 – The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009) – I avoided this because I expected silly and predictable. Silly it is, but funny as well. It even overcomes my active dislike of Jeremy Piven. Hits the predictable notes, but does it with some delightfully foul comedy. (3 stars)

Day 180 – Let’s Make It Legal (1951) – Claudette Colbert is the sexiest grandmother in the history of film in this story of a divorced woman being courted while her ex-husband is still around. Some odd relationships in this unclassifiable film. Marilyn Monroe has a bit part. (2 stars)

Day 181 – The Big Steal (1949) – Robert Mitchum is on the run in Mexico from William Bendix, and they both classically massacre the Spanish language in this noir flick. Funnier than most noir, and Jane Greer is pretty irresistible. (3 stars)

Day 182 – Blast-Off Girls (1967) – A hilarious exploitation film about a 1960s bar band (that does a rockin’ version of “Goodnight Ladies”) and their route to the top. Features plenty of loose women, an evil manager with a walking cane, and a cameo by Col. Sanders. Yes, THAT Col. Sanders. I wish the music business was really like this. (2 stars)

Day 183 – The Searchers (1956) Wow. I’ve never been a fan of Westerns, but if I’d seen this 40 years ago, I might feel differently. I understand why it’s considered the greatest of its genre. John Wayne is amazing, the cinematography is breathtaking, and the story is solid. What a great film. (4 stars)

Day 184 – Bad Teacher (2011) – Calling this my favorite comedy of the year indicates more that I’ve found this year’s comedies weak. That said, Cameron Diaz is wicked fun, and Lucy Punch steals the show. Filthy, foul-mouthed, immoral and amusing. Great car wash scene, too. (3 stars)

Day 185 – The Hard Road (1970) – Where do I keep finding these films? An anti-drug, anti-sex tale that should have been well outdated by the time of its release, with bizarre cautionary VD photos cut in. The segment with the junkie splattered with fake blood heaved into solitary confinement is a nice touch. Exploitation films should be fun. This one is not. (1/2 star)

Day 186 – Cars 2 (2011) – I wasn’t a fan of the first one, so my dislike here is no surprise. What is a surprise is how this feels like a distillation of three or four drafts, and is pretty much incoherent. It’s a spy movie. Really. Looks great, though. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 187 – When Stand Up Stood Out (2003) – A documentary looking back at the 1970s-80s comedy scene in Boston and how it launched careers (Steven Wright, Paula Poundstone, Denis Leary, Bob Goldthwait) and broke hearts of some talented people. Well-constructed, well-told and well-done. (3 stars)

Day 188 – Rubber (2010) – An absurdist combination of comedy and horror and the odd. The story follows a tire – yes, a tire – which discovers it has telekinetic powers. Some wry comments about movies and audiences. Pretty goofy and brave film, and one I’ll remember. (3 stars)

Day 189 – Dark Corners (2006) – Oh no! Thora Birch is having nightmares, and they’re invading reality! But which reality is real? This is the kind of film that thinks bad lighting and loud minor-key music makes up for the lack of thought in the script. (1 star)

Day 190 – (untitled) (2009) – Some clever swipes at modern art (the title is even a good art joke) and at modern music. There are good performances, but the ideas are better than the story, and make the movie worth seeing. Who cares about the people? Not me. (3 stars)

Day 191 – Satan in High Heels (1962) – A stripper goes on the run, becomes a nightclub singer and makes trouble for herself in this above-average exploitation flick. Clever dialogue, and Grayson Hall and especially Meg Myles stand out. (3 stars)

Day 192 – The Host (2006) – A South Korean monster flick about a sea creature that comes ashore and eats or absconds people. Nice special effects, but there’s not much here to make me understand how this was a huge hit in its country of origin. (2 stars)

Day 193 – The Awful Truth (1937) – Quick-paced and quick-witted film starring Irene Dunn and Cart Grant as a divorcing couple who really still love one another. They play games with one another as a comedy of manners plays out. Great dialogue. It’s 75 years old and still makes me laugh out loud. (3 stars)

Day 194 – Severance (2006) – A team building exercise in Hungary turns ugly for an international business group. The first half is fairly boring and silly, then it turns chilling, with a couple of truly unexpected moments. Funnier than you might expect as well. (2 stars)

Day 195 – Forgotten Silver (1996) – A fake documentary about an undiscovered New Zealand film pioneer. Apparently it passed as the real deal in New Zealand, and it makes little sense to an American, despite the presence of Sam Neill, Leonard Maltin and director Peter Jackson. (0 stars)

Day 196 – Fragile (2005) – Yawn. Strange supernatural stuff goes on at a soon-to-be-abandoned children’s hospital in England. Calista Flockhart tries to get to the bottom of it. We as an audience suffer eyestrain because of bad lighting and try to stay awake. (1 star)

Day 197 – The Missing Person (2009) – Modern-day noir. A story that would have annoyed me had I been aware of it ahead of time turned surprisingly effective. Excellent acting performances, especially by Michael Shannon, Margaret Colin, and an underused Amy Ryan. (3 stars)

Day 198 – Suburbia Confidential (1966) – Had Cinemax (Skinemax) existed 45 years ago, it would have been a beeline for this sexplotation flick. Due to the mores of the time, it’s framed with quasi-medical explanations for “perversions” we see these days on prime time television. Lots of loud panting and mediocre jazz music. (2 stars)

Day 199 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) – The series ends in style with an action-packed war movie, where the special effects don’t overwhelm the work and filmmakers actually improve on J.K. Rowling’s weak writing in the series’ book conclusion. I’ll miss these characters. (3 stars)

Day 200 – Larry Crowne (2011) – Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts star in a story RIPPED FROM TODAY’S HEADLINES. Hanks is subtle as a manager who loses his job and returns to college. Nothing earth-shattering, but certainly pleasant enough adult diversion amidst the summer explosions. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 201 – Salome’s Last Dance (1988) – Ken Russell directs the play-within-a-play about a performance of the banned play “Salome” at a late-19th century British brothel. Imogene Millais-Scott, in one of her few performances, is amazing. (3 stars)

Day 202 – Horrible Bosses (2011) – I know people think it’s funny because I hear them laughing. I don’t get it. My first laugh came 50 minutes in, and was a throwaway gag. Kevin Spacey is great. The rest is basically useless to me. (1 star)

Day 203 – Who’s the Caboose? (1997) – Sarah Silverman stars in a fake documentary (not really a mockumentary) about an actress chasing sitcom success in Los Angeles. Features dozens of faces far more familiar now than they were at the time, but nothing much else exciting. (2 stars)

Day 204 – The New Girlfriend (1999) – An escalating revenge story about theft, deceit, rape and tragedy. Nothing remarkable, nothing horrible – decidedly average, despite thinking it’s going for more. (2 stars)

Day 205 – The Iron Giant (1999) – Director Brad Bird’s version of the story of the giant iron manchild who comes from space and touches a young boy’s life. A nice Cold War tale with just the right feel, and some great voice acting. (3 stars)

Day 206 – My Name Is Bruce (2007) – Being intimately familiar with Bruce Campbell may make this funnier, but it stands up fine even if you just have a passing acquaintance. If you have any knowledge of film, there are plenty of chuckles here, mostly at star Campbell’s expense. (3 stars)

Day 207 – Office Love-In (1966) – In an office none of us would recognize, three women go through every co-worker (and members of co-workers’ families) that they can find. Nothing seen below the waist, as befits the time. The extended soundtrack confusion on the version I saw made it more entertaining. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 208 – Beat the Devil (1953) – A comic noir directed by John Huston starring the usual suspects – Bogart, Lorre and Robert Morley (sitting in for Sydney Greenstreet). I howled a lot. Bogart didn’t like it. He wasn’t always right. “The captain is sober!” (3 stars)

Day 209 – Twelve (2010) – Pretty teenage people shot in a pretty way, but everything is vapid. Even an interesting way of introducing characters’ back stories is abandoned 20 minutes in. That’s an indication you should abandon ship as well. (1 star)

Day 210 – The Last Airbender (2010) – It’s hard for me to believe that given a universe this rich with lore and given martial arts fighting this spectacular, a film could be so dull and pointless. It’s unfortunate. It could have been a contender. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 211 – The Color Purple (1985) – Amazing acting performances, especially from Whoopi Goldberg and Orpah Winfrey, made even more amazing given the quarter-century since it was made. This movie hit me more deeply than I expected. Jobbed at the Oscars, where it won nothing. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 212 -Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Lookit the ‘sploshuns!! Fun to watch, but oddly uninvolving take on the origins of the comic book hero. Not as ridiculous as I’d feared, but I don’t share others’ enthusiasm for it. That said, superb ending. (2 stars)

Day 213 – Coffin Rock (2010) – What starts as a domestic drama with a childless couple bickering turns into a substandard stalker horror flick after a one-night stand the woman regrets. Nothing much to say for it, except it’s not completely awful. (1 star)

Day 214 – Suddenly (1954) – Frank Sinatra as a post-World War II presidential assassin in a tale that precedes “The Manchurian Candidate” by a few years. Essentially a one-room drama with a lot of long shots. The later film is the better of the two. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 215 – The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009) – A stunning slice of recent American history. The early focus on Ellsburg’s history is dull, but things pick up as he starts Xeroxing copies of the stunning secret Southeast Asia policy report, and newspapers battle to print the story. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 216 – The Defilers (1965) – A pair of thrillseekers kidnap a young girl to be their sex slave, “just for kicks, baby, kicks.” All the women get naked, and the last couple of minutes must be seen to be believed. The last time I was this ashamed of my laughter was after “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.” (1 star)

Day 217 – Cowboys and Aliens (2011) – And Indians. Other than that, the title tells you everything you need to know. Indiana Jones and James Bond play cowboy. If you think you have to see this, you should. Just don’t expect anything earth-shattering, except for the volume of the sound effects. (2 stars)

Day 218 – Killers (2010) – Ashton Kucher doesn’t tell newfound love Katherine Heigl he’s a spy. A plan to take him out of action is launched, and wackiness ensues. I can count the combined number of films the stars have done that I’ve enjoyed on one finger, and this isn’t it. (1 star)

Day 210 – Blessed (2004) – Satan’s spawn is implanted in an unsuspecting (and pre-“Hangover”) Heather Graham. This film goes to show you shouldn’t necessarily watch a film just because you like its lead actress and no matter how pretty she is. Putrid and insultingly dull. (1 star)

Day 220 – Scum of the Earth (1963) – A girl is blackmailed into posing nude after modeling to (of course) raise her tuition money to attend Princeton. This is awful acting, even for a drive-in movie. And it appears to utilize all of four sets. (0 stars)

Day 221 – The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) – Frank Sinatra stars as a recovering heroin addict in this groundbreaking film. My problem is, like Elizabeth Taylor, I was exposed to Sinatra’s later work first, and am still learning to appreciate their skills and magnetism. (3 stars)

Day 222 – Friends With Benefits (2011) – It’s only the charm of stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake that makes this rise above the predictable romantic comedy it’s pretending to not be. Great running music joke, though, and hilarious cameos. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 223 – Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – Great job. When you know how a film ends and it still surprises you throughout, excellent work has been done. True to the canon, and makes you empathetic with CGI creations. Here’s hoping they continue as intelligently as they’ve begun. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 224 – The Resident (2011) – Hillary Swank is great in whatever she does. But that doesn’t make this creepy stalker guy flick anything other than a stalker movie, and a mediocre one at that. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 225 – The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) – A version of Jekyll and Hyde that focuses as much on the spouse as the doctor. This Hammer film is surprisingly racy, given its release date. Fantastically busy studio sets. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 226 – Leaves of Grass (2009) – Edward Norton plays identical twins (of course he does) with radically different lives. They come back together for some laughs and some tragedy in a mess of a film with some great acting from Norton. (2 stars)

Day 227 – Every Day (2010) – Liev Schreiber and Helen Hunt are a conflicted couple with plenty of issues in this slice of life. Easy to empathize with, but difficult to enjoy. More a series of vignettes than a complete story. (2 stars)

Day 228 – Dominick Dunne: After the Party (2008) – A documentary about the writer/friend to the stars. There are a few previously hidden facts, but nothing that really gives any clue about how or why the man operates the way he does. (2 stars)

Day 229 – Nothing Sacred (1937) – Carole Lombard, misdiagnosed with radium poisoning, becomes the roast of New York in her final days. Hilarity allegedly ensues, only it doesn’t. Lombard is great to look at in the first Technicolor screwball comedy, only it’s not real screwball until last 10 minutes or so. (2 stars)

Day 230 – Angel Angel Down We Go (1969) – Heavy, maaan. A Jim Morrison-esque singer and his trippy followers ingratiate themselves to a rich family and expose it to the most cliched of 1960s counterculture, maaan. (Also known as “Cult of the Damned.”) Amusingly silly. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 231 – Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) – More serious than the romantic comedy it’s marketed as being. A solid film until it flies off the rails in the final 10 minutes or so. Emma Stone pretty much explodes off the screen in the second act. Worthwhile. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 232 – The Help (2011) – Oscar bait. Octavia Spencer and especially Viola Davis shine in this Civil Rights-era drama. To its credit, the film doesn’t flinch much, although it stays within PG-13 parameters. Maybe a little longer than it needs to be, but it’s never ponderous. (3 stars)

Day 233 – Scream of Fear (1961) – An intense, well-acted Hammer film involving a wheelchair-bound prodigal daughter and intrigue as she returns home. It relies on twists in the story, not creatures or scary music, to provide its jolts. Well-acted, well-shot and timeless. (3 stars)

Day 234 – Tangled (2010) – A few laughs, a couple of good songs, and eyes on the lead character straight out of a Margaret Keane painting. Not as ponderous as some Disney films, not as transcendent as others. A really bitchy “mother” to boot. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 235 – Withnail and I (1987) – A British black comedy about a pair of out-of-work actors that’s a little more quiet than I’d like. Fantastic acting performances. But nothing that will give you a solid hint about why it’s regarded as a cult classic overseas. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 236 – Double Dare (2005) – This documentary about a pair of stunt women – for “Xena” and “Wonder Woman” – is like watching home movies of people you barely know and don’t care about. There’s nothing here that makes these undoubtedly fascinating people watchable for these 80 minutes. Disappointing. (1 star)

Day 237 – Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010) – This biography of singer/songwriter Ian Dury is probably far too British for most Americans. (It is for me, and I love British music and film.) Worthwhile because of star Andy Serkis, and to see what it was like to grow up with polio. (2 stars)

Day 238 – Isle of the Dead (1945) – The Balkan War, a Greek goddess, a large spooky abandoned stone house, and the plague. All this is missing is space aliens. The positive? The actors sell its outrageousness well. (2 stars)

Day 239 – Fright Night (2011) – A fine vampire tale as Colin Farrell, in fine scare as the big bad guy, leads an excellent cast. By why call it “Fright Night”? The only similarity is the vampire living next door, and a white dress near the end. This has far less humor, and is much more frightening. (3 stars)

Day 240 – Hobo With a Shotgun (2011) – Wildly violent, over-the-top and hilarious revenge/exploitation Aficionados will smile, laugh, scream and wince. Haters will wonder the point. Not every film needs to be like this, but I’m glad for the ones this good. (3 stars)

Day 241 – The Conspirator (2011) – An effective albeit dry piece of history. Mary Surratt’s execution as part of the conspiracy that killed Lincoln and attempted to wipe out his Cabinet changed history. But this re-telling of the facts adds personality to everyone but its title subject. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 242 – Rango (2011) – You won’t see many animated films that look better than this. The story is kind of a sci-fi/western/”Chinatown” mashup with some hilarious nods to “Star Wars” in an amazing action sequence. Great voice work, too, especially by “The Spirit of the West.” (3 stars)

Day 243 – The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story (2009) – The astonishing story behind the brothers who wrote hundreds of songs you know, including nine Oscar nominations and the entirety of “Mary Poppins.” (We’ll ignore “It’s a Small World.”) It’s up front about the brothers’ flaws as well as their genius. Superb. (3 stars)

Day 244 – Fade to Black (2006) – This fictionalized version of Orson Welles’ post-World War II experiences in Italy is a little too in love with its own intrigue. Nevertheless, I sincerely hope Welles was exactly the kind of person as portrayed here by Danny Huston. (2 stars)

Day 245 – The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) – This is a classic example of a film that makes me laugh, but it’s impossible to explain to others what I find funny. You’ll either love the surrealism of people arriving for meals but never eating, or find it pretentious. Which is kind of the point. (3 stars)

Day 246 – The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964) – Except for the “character” named in the title, a fun and well-done film. By the time the zombie-fied mummy shows, though, shuffling through its series of killings, the film turns sub-standard. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 247 – Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust (2004) – A documentary tracing Hollywood’s history of handling Nazis and the Holocaust. Told straight-forward and honestly, without hysteria or haranguing. As a result, extremely effective. (3 stars)

Day 248 – The Gorgon (1964) – A creature turns all who gaze upon it into stone. So slow-paced, I sometimes couldn’t tell which actors had been so affected. Great facial hair on the guys, though. (1 star)

Day 249 – Unholy (2007) – A disjointed mess with Nazis and time travel and murder and suicides and invisibility and really annoying violins on the musical score. Adrienne Barbeau deserves better, and so do you. This is a movie that should come with a decoder ring. (1 star)

Day 250 – Dead End (1937) – The origins of the Dead End Kids/East Side Kids/Bowery Boys is more serious than their comedies, a true slice of life with rich meeting poor in New York City. Where did the street urchin cliches start? Right here. (3 stars)

Day 251 – The Beguiled (1971) – Civil War soldier Clint Eastwood is taken in at a girls boarding school. He charms each in their own way and acrimony ensues. Intense acting from a good cast. (3 stars)

Day 252 – Ayn Rand: In Her Own Words (2011) – Exactly as the title says. A documentary/biography of the writer/philosopher. I learned a fair amount that I didn’t know, thanks to vintage clips and photos. Rand’s accent may put some viewers off, but it really just takes a little time to get used to. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 253 – River of No Return (1954) – Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe ride the rapids in pursuit of Mitchum’s stolen horse. A miracle of rear-screen projection, with Monroe singing more songs here than she does in most of her musicals. The leads, of course, are terribly charismatic. (2 stars)

Day 254 – The Slammin’ Salmon (2009) – My appreciation for the Broken Lizard comedy troupe means I’ll like this more than most. But this is a solid and almost believable story (as opposed to the hilarious but plot-fractured “Beerfest,” for example). And who knew Michael Clarke Duncan had comedy chops? (3 stars)

Day 255 – The Glory Stompers (1968) – Dennis Hopper is at his early Hopper-est in this low-budget biker flick. Hopper and mates (including Casey Kasem!) beat up a rival biker, leave him for dead and kidnap his old lady. Riding, PG-13 partying and confusing out-of-context shots of extras ensue. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 256 – The King and Four Queens (1956) – Con man Clark Gable, a crafty old woman and her four daughters-n-law (three of them widowed) play cat and mouse with hidden gold. Gable walks though this like he was in on the joke from the time the script was conceived. Fun stuff. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 257 – Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune (2010) – A documentary about the tragic tale of the damaged folk singer whose name is probably better known than any of his songs. Many from the 1960s Greenwich Village scene and his family members check in to tell a sad story. (3 stars)

Day 258 – Lovelife (1996) – 30somethings do the couple mix-and-match thing. More dramatic than most rom-coms with similar plots. Saffron Burrows shines amidst a solid cast. It disappointingly has a predictable ending. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 259 – Speaking of Bunuel (2000) – A documentary of actors and friends talking about the legendary director. His travels from Spain to France to the U.S. to Mexico are tracked, but this is more a series of anecdotes intercut with pieces from his films. Not a launching point, but fun for those familiar with his work. (3 stars)

Day 260 – Kill the Scream Queen (2004) – Since watching the film “S&Man,” I’ve wanted to see a complete film by director Bill Zebub. Now I have. Torture porn at its most base and bad. 75 minutes, and feels twice as long. The only reason it doesn’t get negative stars is because it does exactly what it sets out to do. (0 stars)

Day 261 – The Devil’s Double (2011) – The story of the man forced to be Uday Hussein’s body double. He sees the ugliest of the Iraqi power structure, but has to stay quiet to stay alive. Well done, and relatively neutral, relatively speaking. (3 stars)

Day 262 – Apollo 18 (2011) – Oh, why why why did I wander in on this? It’s exactly as horrible as I suspected. Even some of the other “found footage” films look legitimate. This doesn’t pull you in at any point. It looks cool, but who would believe it? (1 star)

Day 263 – The Trip (2010) – Two British comedians, playing fictionalized versions of themselves, tour a series of British restaurants. Along the wait, they bait one another and try to one-up their celebrity impressions, especially Michael Caine. Funny, but better if you know Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon better than I do. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 264 – Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) – What a steaming pile of garbage. A couple of TV reporters chase a Pulitzer by conspiring to uncover corruption in a district attorney’s office. This would have been ridiculous even 70 or 80 years ago, when people actually believed the “one man against the system” kinds of films. The star is for Amber Tamblyn. (1 star)

Day 265 – Who’s Got the Action? (1962) – A “wacky” gambling comedy of errors and deceit. Dean Martin, at his best, walks through it like he’s in another movie. So he’s hilarious, and the rest is watchable in a sit-com kind of way. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 266 – Barenaked in America (1999) – A documentary about the Canadian band Barenaked Ladies, catching them at their peak when they topped the U.S. charts with “One Week.” A combination historical document (great vintage commercials) and concert film, it makes the departure of founding member Steven Page even more sad. (3 stars)

Day 267 – To Be Or Not To Be (1942) – Disappointing that it took me so long to see this after being introduced to it via Mel Brooks’ inferior 1983 remake. Carole Lombard is beautiful (in her final film), but it lags when star Jack Benny is absent from the screen, and shines when he is present. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 268 – The Debt (2011) – A tragic tale about a group of Nazi hunters, the lie they lived and its unraveling. Finely crafted, well-constructing and acted excellently. But I can’t join the crowd praising it highly. It seems to lack a bit of heart for my taste. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 269 – Contagion (2011) – An all-too-real and understandable look at a pandemic. An edge-of-the-seat thriller from director Steven Soderbergh, who’s never made an uninteresting film. This is the best film starring a virus this year. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 270 – Trumbo (2007) – Superb. A documentary with a twist. In addition to vintage clips, actors read letters written by screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood Ten, jailed for contempt of Congress during the Communist witch hunt of the 1950s. Gives you a true flavor of the man through his own words, and is never dry or dull. Excellent. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 271 – Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) – This successor to the American-International beach movies has the expected babes in bikinis (fembots, 30 years before “Austin Powers”), bad jokes and horrible rear screen projection. Good fun, and exactly what I’d expect. (2 stars)

Day 272 – The Cry of the Owl (2009) – Kind of a crime thriller, kind of a mental illness drama, kind of confusing. One of those films where you feel like scenes are missing, or you wonder if it was just edited poorly. I watched it for Julia Stiles. And it wasn’t worth it. (1 star)

Day 273 – El Dorado (1967) – John Wayne and a hilarious Robert Mitchum in a by-the-numbers Western. Plenty of laughs – Wayne earns his share as well – and music straight out of the “Batman” TV series. (2 stars)

Day 274 – The Killer Elite (2011) – This hits all the notes it’s supposed to, but never coalesces, Jason Statham is always electrifying to watch, but this movie doesn’t come together in even the most basic and acceptable action film fashion. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 275 – Moneyball (2011) – As much a tale of the struggles of one man (Billy Beane) against a century-old system as a baseball movie. Somehow, numbers and management is made cinematically fascinating. Among Brad Pitt’s best performances (which says a lot), and the best new film I’ve seen this year. (4 stars)

Day 276 – Drive (2011) – Almost an art house action film. Quiet, deliberate, and a stunningly violent third act. Not something everyone is going to love, but well-shot and well-directed, and the actors underplay almost everything, which works. (3 stars)

Day 277 – Everything Must Go (2011) – Will Ferrell is Subtle Will (think “Stranger Than Fiction”) as a middle-aged man whose life is collapsing. It’s an unlikely story, but with Ferrell strong at its center, it never slips into ridiculousness. It could. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 278 – Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963) – A bunch of recognizable faces, led by Dean Martin and Carol Burnett (her film debut), in this waste of time. It’s an attempt at a bedroom farce that pulls off neither the bedroom nor the farce. Jill St. John is fun. Martin isn’t, unfortunately. (1 star)

Day 279 – Bottle Shock (2008) – The other side of “Sideways,” a wine story told from the point of view of the northern California vineyard owners as they developed their reputation. Torn between the true history and some character development and some odd soundtrack choices (Doobie Brothers, Foghat), an uneven effort. (2 stars)

Day 280 – In a Lonely Place (1950) – Humphrey Bogart had great comic ability, which wasn’t always used. It is here, but his mood-swing-y screenwriter is a tad too intense to make this mystery of sorts anything more than confusing. Its mood changes like Bogart’s. (2 stars)

Day 281 – The Perfect Witness (2007) – Improbably, a documentary filmmaker is co-opted into a devil’s bargain of assisting a serial killer. The acting performances are impressive, especially by leads Wes Bentley and Mark Borkowski. But they’re wasted in a lousy story. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 282 – Career (1959) – A soap opera about an actor who struggles and trades his love, family and self-respect for success. And if all that isn’t enough (and it ought to be), there’s some Communism witch hunt stuff grafted on in the third act. A waste of a decent amount of talent, including Dean Martin and especially Shirley MacLaine. (1 star of a scale of four)

Day 283 – TRON: Legacy (2010) – Unlike the original, this isn’t a commercial for a video game. It’s not the expected action film either. Its more a ponderance on the nature of being. Far more New Age than you’d ever expect of something from the 21st century. Jeff Bridges as always, is fantastic. (3 stars)

Day 284 – The Perfect Host (2010) – Enough twists and turns to delight anyone paying attention as David Hyde Pierce welcomes injured criminal Clayne Crawford into his apartment. An odd series of events ensues, and if you ever have an idea what’s really going on, you’re way ahead of me. Pierce is fantastic. Lots of laughs, too. (3 stars)

Day 285 – Las Vegas Lady (1975) – An interminable Vegas caper flick. Too little plot, but plenty of cleavage, provided by Lynne Moody and Stella Stevens. If only the story had been developed as well as they were. (1 star)

Day 286 – The Peacekillers (1971) – Motorcyclists versus hippes, while the “law” hopes the long hairs all kill one another off. This one includes the neat trick of a woman on horseback outrunning four guys on motorcycles. The chases are deathly dull, and the characters are all ciphers. (1/2 star)

Day 287 – The Bed Sitting Room (1969) – Almost the aftermath of “Dr. Strangelove” Three years after the brief World War III, a handful of British survivors absurdly attempt to carry on. A series of comic pieces, featuring England’s greatest 1960s comic actors, results. Not for everyone, but a must if you enjoy British humor. (3 stars)

Day 288 – The Last Exorcism (2010) – While I’m not a fan of the genre, this is probably my favorite so far of the found footage faux documentaries. A phony exorcist is showing his tricks to a film team, but happens upon a real possession. It’s understated enough, its actors are talented, and it’s neither interminably dull between scares nor a non-stop screamfest. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 289 – Bobby Fischer Against the World (2011) – A documentary about the great American chess champion. A troubled genius, the film divides neatly and quickly between his youth, his ascendance and his tragic final years. Excellent, even if you have no idea who Fischer is. (3 stars)

Day 290 – The L.A. Riot Spectacular (2005) – A satire about the 1992 Los Angeles riots. It’s not nearly as tasteless or awkward as you might think, but it’s not as clever as it thinks it is, either. Snoop Dogg’s appearances are the highlight amidst a number of familiar character actor faces. (2 stars)

Day 291 – Middle Men (2009) – Kind of a “The Social Network” about the online porn industry. A documentary-crime-lowlife story that alternates in tone and style at an alarming rate. Luke Wilson is a solid but uncharismatic center, and Laura Ramsey shines. Competent, but less involving than it should be. (2 stars)

Day 292 – Sabotage (1936) – A Hitchcock film, ripped from today’s headlines! Terrorists go on the offensive and are chased by Scotland Yard. Features classic example of the director’s “show the audience a ticking bomb” trick. Probably 10 years ahead of its time. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 293 – Following (1999) – The debut from “The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan shows he had his eye and style from the very beginning. A noir tale of stolen identity and petty theft that takes a turn, the story’s twist is explained brilliantly, and it’s told without flash or frenzy. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 294 – The Bravados (1958) – Gregory Peck plays the brooding silent cowboy with revenge on his mind. A couple of surprisingly raw and realistic scenes and a nice twist aside, standard horse opera stuff. (2 stars)

Day 295 – Run! Bitch Run! (2009) – Whoa. A revenge flick straight out of the 1970s. Plenty of sex and violence and foul language. What makes this one a cut above in victim-turned-vengeance queen Cheryl Lyone, who could give Uma Thurman’s “Kill Bill” Bride a run for her money. (2 stars)

Day 296 – The Three Musketeers (2011) – The problem is, I start to feel like I’ve seen all of these before. Swordplay, cleavage, a complex and improbable historic scheme, and an uncomfortable number of post-modern jokes. You already know whether you’ll like this, and I knew too. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 297 – Red State (2011) – More ambitious than director Kevin Smith’s recent efforts, this defies definition by genre. Alternately scary, political and accusatory, it has some good performances (John Goodman), but isn’t as much of a cause for reflection as it feels like it ought to be. (2 stars)

Day 298 – George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) – Martin Scorsese’s film picks up in the second half, after a 90-minute Beatles primer that seems to feature everyone except the subject. Harrison’s spirituality emerges as part of a more well-rounded individual – his battles and demons aren’t ignored – and more important, his humor comes through. (3 stars)

Day 299 – Telstar: The Joe Meek Story (2008) – Biopic of the innovative yet tragic British music producer. Con O’Neill does a star turn as Meek, who recorded 1960s hits (many of which Baby Boomers will recognize) in an Islington apartment in England. Imagine Joe Pesci portraying Phil Spector. Hey, that’s an idea … (3 1/2 stars)

Day 300 – Girls Gone Psycho (2006) – In an attempt to cover up a sex tape, a society girl commits murder and involves her friends. The bodies pile up. The jokes attempt to. Neither exploitative with nudity or violence, and the few jokes aren’t enough to offset the bad acting. (1 star)

Day 301 – That Funny Feeling (1965) – Mistaken identities and locations and comical deception in this templated 1960s rich man-meets-poor girl flick. Sandra Dee and dozens of character actors are featured. Dee borders on sexy a couple of times. (2 stars)

Day 302 – Zenith (2010) – This dystopian tale split between two time periods seems well thought out. But it never connected with me. I feel like I must have missed something, but I don’t really care either. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 303 – Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) – I keep trying these single-camera found video films, and they don’t do a thing for me. Obviously they appeal to someone, but I don’t discern a plot, and when the supernatural incidents are unexplained and random, it’s like reading just the first word on every page of a book. What’s the point? (1/2 star)

Day 304 – Puss in Boots (2011) – The backstory of the best character in the “Shrek” series. Clever and fun, even if it has a few too many egg jokes. (Humpty Dumpty is Puss’ childhood friend.) Unlike a lot of children’s films, this one actually has solid plot structure. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 305 – What’s Your Number? (2011) – What a waste of Anna Farris. I couldn’t imagine any film – even a standard romantic comedy – with Farris that did not include a single laugh. From the typically foolish concept to the dopey execution, an entirely bad time. (1 star)

Day 306 – Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) – A documentary about the fall of the attorney general and governor of New York. One of those pieces that will leave you shaking you head about our leaders, government and what behaviors we find acceptable and otherwise. (2 stars)

Day 307 – The Rum Diary (2011) – Johnny Depp is too subdued here, and too old to play the part of a journalist in late 1950s Puerto Rico. Languidly paced. Giovanni Ribisi is, as always, a stitch, although the movie isn’t the comedy as which it’s being marketed. I really wanted to like this more. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 308 – Indyfans and the Quest for Fortune and Glory (2008) – It’s impossible to imagine a more boring documentary about a more potentially fun subject. Supposedly about Indiana Jones fans, this looks like a weekend small-town television story put together by interns. Bad interns. (1/2 star)

Day 309 – Winnebago Man (2009) – Catching up with the star of the legendary viral videos of the featuring a man cursing while working on a sales promotional film for Winnebago. Director Ben Steinbauer would have done better to just let Jack Rebney talk rather than trying to find out what makes him tick. The early detour detailing some viral videos belongs in another movie. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 310 – A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (2011) – Near-perfect. Another film you already know whether you want to see. I’m a fan, and this is the best of the three. Crude, sexist, racist, silly and hilarious, as it should be. Steer well clear if you’re troubled by images of violence (3D bullets!!), underage drinking and sex, or (especially) a toddler exposed to a variety of drugs. You might hate it. It’s my favorite comedy of 2011. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 311 – Woman Times Seven (1967) – Shirley MacLaine plays seven different characters in this group of vignettes about weddings. Nothing spec-tacular, but proves again that MacLaine can act, and even a dozen years after her film debut, she was still a babe. (2 stars)

Day 312 – Captains (2011) – A documentary in which William Shatner interviews the other captains from the “Star Trek” franchise. Not so much a “Trek” film as a look at the rigors and rewards of acting, and the real people who are the stars. Shatner has become a superb if eccentric conversationalist. (3 stars)

Day 313 – The Plot to Kill Nixon (2004) – This rarely heard story of a 1974 assassination-by-plane attempt on President Nixon (covered up at the time) feels like it comes from another world. Tapes assassin Samuel Byck sent to “respected figures” frame re-creations of some chilling action. Far better than the Sean Penn film about the subject. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 314 – Nude for Satan (1974) – You have a title that great and end up with this plotless and acting-free bit of garbage? Come on. I’m hitting about 15 percent on my exploitation flicks in this project. The average is right, but still disappointing. Bonus points here for a sex scene where the performers and not the camera are wrapped in gauze. (1 star)

Day 315 – Point Blank (1967) – Lee Marvin is a wronged con bent on revenge and apparently ready to kill the entire Bay Area underworld to get it. Lots of steely-eyed looks into the camera, and lots of flashbacks. Great cast, but unspectacular. (2 stars)

Day 316 – Nerdcore Rising (2008) – The best thing about a good documentary is learning about something about which you knew nothing. When I started playing this documentary about the nerd rock music genre, I thought it was a mockumentary, It’s apparently a real sub-genre, and the music is catchy, and the featured performer here and his fans are entertaining. (3 stars)

Day 317 – A Little Help (2011) – Jenna Fischer is a suddenly widowed mother who finds her lies big and small catching up to her and her awkward son. More drama than comedy, it’s a good quiet little film. Character actors on parade here. Fischer is underrated as an actress. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 318 – One-Eyed Monster (2008) – An idiotic porn-horror hybrid with one joke. Given the title and that well-endowed Ron Jeremy stars, you can guess what the one joke is. Gets a star for featuring “Buffy” co-star Amber Benson making goo-goo eyes at Jeremy. (1 star)

Day 319 – In Time (2011) – This could have been a new version of “Blade Runner,” or a sci-fi “Bonnie and Clyde.” Instead, it frustratingly burns some excellent ideas, and doesn’t pull off the execution of the concept. Lots of watching people run, too. This is OK, but could have been much better. (2 stars)

Day 320 – Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) – How? How can a film with Dean Martin playing a smarmy version of himself be so dull? How can a film with Kim Novak practically oozing off the screen be so cold? The lamest of the lame. (1 star)

Day 321 – Being Michael Madsen (2007) – The titular actor hires a documentary crew to turn the tables on a tabloid journalist in this largely scripted mockumentary. This is most notable for how Madsen’s sister Virginia comes off as a great deadpan comic. Interesting, for what it is, and it could have been much worse. Other mockumentaries have been worse. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 322 – Melancholia (2011) – Not as intense or sarcastic as other efforts by director Lars von Trier, despite its big picture end-of-the-world premise. Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg deliver spectacular performances even as you wonder what the heck is and will happen. If anything. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 323 – Tower Heist (2011) – An entertaining if wildly improbable caper film with Regular Ben Stiller (as opposed to “Wacky” Ben) leading a group of misfits, including Eddie Murphy. Well-constructed if slight, but a decent way to spend a cloudy or cold afternoon. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 324 – Amazons of Rome (1961) – Well, no amazons here in a poorly dubbed sand-and-sandals epic. The budget went somewhere besides actors, as you see the same faces on both sides of battles. A couple of decent battle scenes, and a deathy dull story in between. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 325 – Control (2007) – An effective biography of Ian Curtis, the doomed singer of influential 1970s British band Joy Division. The black-and-white photography frames this dark story in fantastic fashion, and Sam Riley brings Curtis to three-dimension life. Great use of the band’s music as well. (3 stars)

Day 326 – You’re Gonna Miss Me (2005) – This documentary about LSD/schizophrenic/electroshock burnout musician Roky Erickson is a sad portrait of a dysfunctional family unsuccessful in dealing with mental illness. While Erickson’s music is a key part of the story, the real story is about the people. So his brother and mother become key players in the tragedy. Very human. (3 stars)

Day 327 – Howl (2010) – The story of Allen Ginsberg and his remarkable titular poem, centering on its obscenity trial. A sort-of-biography, it’s experi-mental in attempting to give visuals to Ginsberg’s words. That gimmick is more successful than I expected, but the film never fully rises to the level of its ambitions, despite some great performances. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 328 – Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011) – Great documentary about the talk show host’s live tour when he was put into television limbo after NBC jobbed him in favor of the awful Jay Leno. A look at the intensity and insecurity behind the talent. Even non-fans should find this eye-opening. (3 stars)

Day 329 – Lady Vengeance (2005) – The conclusion of Korean director Chan Wook Park’s revenge trilogy (“Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” [2002] and “Oldboy” [2003]) is, like the other two, a brilliant stylized, brutal and intense tale of betrayal and violence and death and people. Not mainstream by any means, but incredibly rewarding. All three. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 330 – Punching the Clown (2009) – Comedian Henry Phillips stars in a bizarre story about a comic singer-songwriter (just like Phillips) who gets his break, and through a series of misunderstandings, ends up considered a “Nazi songwriter.” One of the few examples of successful awkward (early “Office”-like) comedy in film. (3 stars)

Day 331 – Brutal Massacre: A Comedy (2007) – A low-budget movie about the making of a low-budget movie. It’s got a mockumentary look and feel, but is clearly more scripted. It works as both a comedy and kind of a drama. Not wonderful, but not bad. (2 stars)

Day 332 – The Muppets (2011) – A disappointment for a number of reasons, but mostly because it’s more melancholy than humorous. The film can’t decide if it’s targeting nostalgic adults or a new audience of youngsters. Apart from the lame “new” character, the first Muppet doesn’t appear until about a half-hour into the film. An opportunity missed. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 333 – The People vs. George Lucas (2010) – 90 minutes of the very definition of love-hate relationships. It focuses on George Lucas and “Star Wars,” and fans debate the good and ill of Lucas’ six films and its ancillaries. Even-handed. It’s wonderful to see the passion and well-thought arguments, but better to see clips from dozens of fan films inspired by Lucas’ creations. (3 1/2 stars)

Day 334 – Ultrachrist (2003) – Jesus returns to earth, and decides to dress as a superhero to relate to young people. This is an odd, everything-tossed-in indie effort. I appreciate that it doesn’t try to be too outrageous, and it’s layered enough to be entertaining, even with the bizarre appearances of Hitler, Dracula and Richard Nixon, and a kind of country hoedown song at the end. (2 stars)

Day 335 – Girl 27 (2007) – A documentary about a 65-year-old little-known rape of an MGM movie extra. An important story, with plenty of real emotion. But there’s also plenty of movie clips for the 1930s, and plenty of slow-motion film footage padding out the length. This would have been better as an hour-long special on a cable crime channel. (2 stars)

Day 336 – Take Me Home Tonight (2011) – A late 1980s version of “American Graffiti.” It’s less comic, has more attempts at drama, takes a couple of odd and improbable turns and its cast is all right but not nearly as solid or likely to be as iconic. Topher Grace just doesn’t have it as a leading man, though. (2 stars)

Day 337 – Fired! (2006) – Annabelle Gurwitch turns getting fired from a Woody Allen play into a documentary about people inside and outside show business losing their jobs. Funny and introspective, and while it’s short (71 minutes), its rapid-fire pace makes it seem even shorter, which is a good thing. (3 stars)

Day 338 – Bad Girls From Mars (1991) – A low-budget spoof about murders behind the scenes on a low-budget movie. Plenty of nudity (including a wrestling scene), a semblance of a plot, and far more clever and funny than it has any right to be. It’s in on its own joke. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 339 – Gregory’s Two Girls (1999) – A disappointing sequel to the charming 1981 romantic comedy “Gregory’s Girl.” Here, Gregory is a teacher in his late 30s balancing a colleague and a student and attempting to expose a friend’s nefarious dealings … oh, never mind. It’s a mess. But John Gordon Sinclair remains a riot. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 340 – Embedded: Live (2005) – A film of a theatrical production featuring a series of satirical war-based vignettes, written by and starring Tim Robbins. Funnier and less polemic than I expected. Most people already know how they’ll feel about this just by knowing Robbins is involved. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 341 – Yes, Madam (1985) – A hilarious and templated Asian crime and martial arts film, significant as Michelle Yeoh’s debut. American martial arts queen Cynthia Rothrock shows up a third of the way through to add blondness and more badly dubbed Cantonese. Fantastically funny early wire work in the special effects. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 342 – Kisses and Caroms (2006) – A “Clerks” copy/tribute set in a billiards store, with some great references to Kevin Smith films. A low-budget effort with a little drama, a lot of comedy, a bit of nudity – all more than you’d bargain for just looking at the title. A pleasant surprise. (3 stars)

Day 343 – Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001) – The best thing about Elvira is she’s always in on the joke, as she is in this spoof of Hammer films and of her own image. Nothing earth-shaking, but a handful of giggles and cleavage, and an actual story to boot. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 344 – Rabbit Hole (2010) – Heart-wrenching story about married couple Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart trying to overcome the loss of their young son, killed in a car accident. the leads make the film worthwhile. Eckhart is moving into that “he’s always good” territory. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 345 – The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968) – A musical comedy about a 1920s New York burlesque house. Britt Ekland is the female attraction, but she’s an Amish dancer with no idea of what burlesque is, and remains relatively chaste. Fantastically filmed. Jason Robards shines in a rare comic role, which has some depth. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 346 – The Swinger (1966) – Ann-Margret wiggles and jiggles and shows us what mainstream movie companies laughingly thought was risque in the mid-1960s. Lots of thievery from the “Batman” TV series, Tthe star sure is beautiful, and she’s the only reason to watch. But that’s a good reason. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 347 – The Ninth Configuration (1980) – Stacy Keach is a Marine psychiatrist sent to a reserve for mentally damaged military men. It starts with the comic surrealism of “M*A*S*H” and turns philosophical and serious (with a bit of an action thrown in). One of the last of the dissatisfied films of the 1970s. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 348 – Scarlet Street (1945) – Edward G. Robinson is tender in this tale of a mild-mannered cashier/painter. The conniving and gorgeous Joan Bennett gets her hooks in him, and it’s off to the noir. The leads are alternately fantastic and hilarious, and sometimes both. An unbelievable amount of dame slapping too. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 349 – It Burns When I Laugh (2003) – A weak scripted film about following a pair of struggling comedians on the road and looking behind the scenes of the comedy world. Not as funny or as poignant or as pointed as it needs to be to hold our attention. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 350 – The Man Who Knew Too Much (1935) – This early Alfred Hitchcock/Peter Lorre collaboration (which Hitchcock remade later) is a fantastic low-budget thriller. It’s not classic Hitchcock – he was still building his style – but it’s a better story and film than it has any right to be. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 351 – Born to Ride (2010) – In case I needed proof that just because a movie has an actor I really really like (Theresa Russell here) doesn’t mean the actor does a good job in the film, or that the film is worth watching. This muddled mess involves a couple of bikers and a blackmail plot against a Congressman and a trip to Sturgis and … oh, never mind. You’ll never watch it, nor should you. (1/2 star)

Day 352 – The Pig Keeper’s Daughter (1972) – A pre-Skinemax sexploitation movie. Typically weak humor, out-of-sync soundtrack, music choices that are headache-inducing and baffling, and miserable acting. Once in a while, you come across a quality nugget in a batch of these films. This isn’t one. Russ Meyer would be proud of the figures of the females, however. (1 star)

Day 353 – I Need That Record (2008) – Hate. I should empathize with every point made by a documentary bemoaning the death of independent record stores. Instead, this is 80 minutes of independent artists who have success whining about the corporatization of music. According to this, music turned mediocre in 1978, or 1984, or 1998. Or something. (1/2 star)

Day 354 – Margin Call (2011) – A superb cast shines in this quality film about the 2007-08 financial meltdown and speculation about how it might have begun at one overextended investment bank. Kevin Spacey is great, and Paul Bettany and Zachary Quinto hold their own. Impressive, given that it’s essentially people in rooms talking about numbers we never see. (3 stars)

Day 355 – The Last Mogul: Life and Times of Lew Wasserman (2005) – A documentary about one of Hollywood’s quiet power brokers. More a “what he did” rather than “how he did it,” this gives you a look at where the power came from rather than the vision behind some of the revolutionary things he did. (2 stars)

Day 356 – Chump Change (2004) – A subtly hilarious film about a Milwaukee man’s misadventures in Hollywood and his return home to find himself. There are scenes here that have more laughs than some huge-release comedies I’ve suffered through. Tim Matheson and Traci Lords (yeah, THAT Traci Lords) are fantastic. (3 stars)

Day 357 – The Pixar Story (2007) – The improbable tale of one of the most artistically and financially accomplished film companies ever. Even if you know the story, seeing the huge principals (specifically Jobs and Lucas) tell their versions of the story is fantastic. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 358 – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) – These keep getting better, improbably. We know our principals will make it all the way through, but the adventures are now gripping (and “realistic.” in an action film sense) enough for us to wonder a bit. High stakes, solid action pieces. (2 1/2 stars)

Day 359 – Best Worst Movie (2009) – A documentary about the stars and makers of “Troll 2” 17 years down the line from the film’s release. It goes back and forth between laughing with its principals, and making them objects of pity. Interestingly, the documentary was made by a cast member. (3 stars)

Day 360 – The American Snitch (1983) – A newspaper reporter is forced to work for a tabloid, and turns it to “real” journalism. A comedy that starts out ludicrous and fades and turns into a serious conspiracy subplot that dominates the movie at the end and is equally ludicrous and unfunny. The celebrity lookalikes (billed as such) earn a chuckle. (1 star)

Day 361 – Magic Trip (2011) – A meandering pastiche of essentially home movies from the early 1960s cross-America trip by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Interesting, but it doesn’t give you as much of a sense of the depth of meaning and purpose behind the journey. Nevertheless, a vital view of a changing America. (2 stars)

Day 362 – The Naked Truth (1958) – Before the film industry knew what to do with Peter Sellers, it put him in piffle like this farce. He puts on fake facial hair and accents and services a weak plot about a blackmailing magazine publisher. He and his films were far more entertaining later. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 363 – The Wave (2008) – A teacher instructs high schoolers on dictatorships, turning his class into one. He’s a bit too successful, and mayhem ensues. And he must extinguish the fire. Takes a stunning third-act turn, and should be seen by more people. (3 stars)

Day 364 – One, Two, Three (1961) – James Cagney is a Coca-Cola executive in Germany. It’s a comedy, but if you’re thrown by Cagney’s timing (like I was), the comedy is all wrong. The script must read like a riot, because there are plenty of funny lines. But this tale of worlds twisted against one another doesn’t fly. (1 1/2 stars)

Day 365 – Damn! Is The Price Of Fame Too Damn High? (2011) – A look behind the scenes of populist New York political candidate Jimmy McMillan. The film starts and stops at revealing whether McMillan is a master manipulator or an unaware eccentric, and whether he’s a joke, or genuinely believes his schtick. (2 stars)

For the year (with percentage of total films seen):

4 stars (6) (1.6 percent)

3 1/2 stars (16) (4.1 percent)

3 stars (94) (25.8 percent)

2 1/2 stars (86) (23.6 percent)

2 stars (58) (15.9 percent)

1 1/2 stars (44) (12.1 percent)

1 star (44) (12.1 percent)

1/2 star (9) (2.5 percent)

0 stars (8) (2.2 percent)

Films seen, by decade/year of release (with percentage of total films seen):

2011 (65) (17.8 percent)

2010 (52) (14.2 percent)

2000-2009 (116) (31.8 percent)

1990-1999 (21) (5.8 percent)

1980-1989 (12) (3.3 percent)

1970-1979 (18) (2.8 percent)

1960-1969 (33) (9.0 percent)

1950-1959 (26) (7.1 percent)

1940-1949 (11) (3.0 percent)

1930-1939 (9) (2.5 percent)

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