Films of 2011

I saw 7 films on the silver screen in 2011.

1. The Adventures of Tintin - Secret of the Unicorn
Call it inappropriate nationalism, disproportionate patriotism or preposterous fanboyism ... and you're probably right. It's probably even a combination of
all three. But as a lifelong reader and admirer of the works of Georges "Herg้" R้mi, I was just so happy to see Tintin (Kuifje, in Dutch) on the big screen. Proud, too - even though I can't claim to have contributed anything to the final product (apart from asking Christopher Lloyd whether or not he was willing to portray the absent-minded Professor Calculus, a role he was born to play).
As an unexpected bonus, the movie was envisioned and directed by my favourite director Steven Spielberg. The Adventures of Tintin is not a perfect movie - some liberties taken can be off-putting, especially compared to the original comics - but it's still a little miracle. 'Our' Tintin, brought to the big screen with grace and elegance by one of the biggest talents Hollywood has to offer. Hurrah!

2. Super 8
J.J. Abrams' intentional homage to films made in the 80's, with a terrific kiddie cast, memorable music and a few scares. Full review here.

3. Puss in Boots
In a nutshell: the break-out character from Shrek 2 in his origin story. Not terribly deep, but engaging, funny and sometimes very sweet. The audience "awwwwww"-ed at least two times during the movie. Good voice cast too.

4. Captain America - The First Avenger
Chris Evans - the funniest ex from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - in his first starring role as the eponymous Captain America. I knew nothing about the character, for I had never read the comics or seen the previous iterations. Still, a very entertaining movie. Not unmissable, but you won't regret seeing it. And special mention to the more-gorgeous-than-allowed Hayley Atwell.

5. Love and Other Drugs
Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in a romantic dramedy about dealing with disease. Tears may ensue.

6. Portable Life
Fleur Boonman's first outing is a road movie involving a young girl Sea searching for a medallion. Added star power courtesy of the ever great Ruther Hauer. The end result is a bizarre, yet intriguing movie. What was Boonman trying to say? A director's commentary is a definite must. And deleted scenes, for yours truly was an extra during concert footage that didn't make the final cut.

7. Burke and Hare
John Landis return to conventional moviemaking is a funny period piece starring Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg. Not on a par with The Blues Brothers, but then again, what is?

Purchases in random order


No HD DVDs in 2011. How sad.


This Is It
Michael Jackson giving his all, before ending it all. Bargain at €6.49 on Full review here.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World + UK version
The second best film from 2010 is still extremely funny and thumbs up-worthy. Gets better with each viewing. For some perverse reason, the Belgian Blu lacked several of the essential special features, which forced me to also buy the UK-version. Which, in return, had no Dutch subtitles - a significant detail that makes it impossible to let non-English savvy friends and family enjoy the movie. Full review here.

Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy
Bought in order to prepare for the (then) upcoming fourth movie. The first one remains legendary thanks to numerous quotable lines, the second one is so-so, the third one is the turd one. But does include the best cameo ever. In all, a mediocre release - with non-high definition special features and promised-on-the-package-but-missing-on-the-disc audio commentaries. What's up with that?!

AC/DC - Live at River Plate
A recording of AC/DC's triumphant 'Black Ice' tour, of which I saw the Antwerp show. Nice souvenir, but why no subtitles?

Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis
France's all-time national box office champ (and just behind Titanic in its overall box office rankings) is one hell of a funny flick. English subtitles, too, so there's really no excuse to not discover this gem.

Toy Story 3
Pixar's stunning trilogy capper that will move you to tears. How many good "third" movies can you name? The Godfather Part III, Return of the Jedi, Back to the Future Part III? Rest assured: Toy Story 3 takes home the gold. Full review here.

a-ha - The Farewell Tour - Ending on a High Note
My favourite pop band during their very last performance in their home country. Most of the hits, with perfect sound and picture. No subtitles, though, and The Bandstand should have been included.

Tron/Tron Legacy
UK-only two-pack, bought especially for the first movie. Tron is definitely dated, but it sure is a cute film that beat the odds and became a beloved cult classic. It must have been mindblowing to witness the special effects back in 1982.

Not quite convincing drama about a professor, his wife and one young girl. Amanda Seyfried is extremely attractive. Check those eyes!

Final Move - Demon Games
Arne Keustermans' stunning, independently produced and self-financed (it cost more than El Mariachi!) short film, featuring the cream of the crop of Lint, Belgium. The audio commentary is hosted by yours truly, a dream come true for sure.

Star Wars - The Complete Saga
More George Lucas tinkering and tampering with the classics, but boy, they do look and sound spectacular in high definition.

Gnomeo & Juliet/Tinkerbell & de Grote Reddingsoperatie
Two birthday presents (thanks, Lauren & Clea!) that remain unseen as of today. Hence, no opinion.

The Goonies 25th Collector's Edition
Another year, another copy of The Goonies. Physical goodies are nice, but why no new, actual disc-based video content? A new documentary is readily & easily available, courtesy of the guys behind What about more deleted scenes? A technical audio commentary? Sigh, one can dream.

The Blues Brothers
One of my favourite movies, hurrah. But. One giant but. Where's the extended cut? I'm not content with 'just' the theatrical edition, for I'm used to the longer (and better) version. Guess what: Universal (yes, the same guys behind Scott Pilgrim) decided to screw the Belgians again. The UK-Blu includes both flavours of the movie. That's just pathetic.

One of Spielberg's most underrated classics, and one that will never grow old (ironic, considering its subject matter). Immensely quotable ("Rufio! Rufio!", "There you are, Peter!", "I do not believe in faeries!", "I lost my marbles!", "Hook! Hook! Give us the Hook!", "Gooooood mornin', Neverland!", "Don't try to stop me, Smee!" etcetera) and accompagnied by John Williams' masterpiece of a soundtrack. You Are The Pan may just be his career highlight. A at €8.99.

Ben-Hur 50th Anniversary Edition
The quintessential Hollywood classic was a Warner Bros. gamble that paid of handsomely. Cleaned-up to perfection thanks to an expensive restoration (one that shows!), this is one perfect demonstation of the power of Blu-ray. The beautiful package includes Charlton Heston's set diary and a behind-the-scenes book. Highly recommended.

Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy
Hmm, this may have been a bad investment, because I only wanted the first movie. I could, however, not resist the included Tyrannosaurus Rex statue. All things considered, not worth its steep €84.49 asking price. Darn. Full review of the first movie here.

True Grit
A birthday present courtesy of the lovely Marianne De Voecht, True Grit is a remake of the western starring John Wayne (which I have never seen). Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon do a bang-up job, Josh Brolin is sadly underused and the real revelation is the young Hailee Steinfeld who definitely has a bright future ahead of her. True Grit is not a masterpiece, but it's a very good movie nonetheless.

The Big Lebowski
Jeff Bridges' career-defining role as 'The Dude', enhanced by a myriad of superb performances by John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro and Sam Elliott amongst others. It gets funnier with each viewing.

Stand By Me
Stand By Me, a Christmas present from my aunt Vera, is a moving and quasi perfect film that should have been bought a very long time ago. First discovered during the DVD-era, but never actually acquired. The Blu-ray has one new extra, a video commentary with director Rob Reiner and stars Corey Feldman and Will Wheaton. River Phoenix' absence was to be expected but where's Jerry O' Connell? It's no secret that he's ashamed of his pudgy looks back then, but can't he give his thoughts 25 years after the matter? Come on, get over it, dude. You even married Rebecca Romijn - a fact that the three participants jokingly acknowledge!

The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan's game-changing masterpiece. Just try to make a better comicbook-influenced movie, other directors! Great bargain at €7.50 (in combination with another Blu-ray). Full review here.

Christopher Nolan's other acclaimed motion picture (or, actually, just one of several). Two for €15, can't go wrong there. Inception remains unseen as of today, so no opinion.

3D Blu-ray
3D Blu-rays cost between €23.99 and €29.99 in Belgium. Why!? You'd expect them to be packaged with a solid gold toilet seat.

Bought without any prior knowledge or information, this turned out to be immensely likeable, funny, heartwarming and just plain good. Without a doubt Disney's classiest non-Pixar, all digital affair. But how in the world did this cost $260 million to make!?

Tron Legacy
Strange. Considered "entertaining and fun, but not good" during my original review, I updated that opinion to "good, but not excellent" for my films of 2010 rundown, only to now regard it as an excellent movie after seeing it again (and again) on Blu-ray. Sure, the story is still 'meh', but the music, the visuals, the quips and the atmosphere ensure that I can't get enough of Tron Legacy. Bring on the sequel!

Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger's Tide
Mediocre at best, but saved - yet again - by Keith Richards' hilarious cameo.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Hurrah, a cheap 3D Blu-ray! This present from Sony came bundled with a new Blu-ray player for a friend of mine. Remains unseen as of today, so no opinion.

Cars 2
Yes, it's Pixar's worst to date. But it's not a bad movie. Critics were just waiting to bash the Californian guys. Give them a break, their track record remains amazing.

This Christmas present from my aunt Erna remains unseen as of today, hence no opinion. Lovely tagline: "Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost". Noted Belgian film critic Pim Verhulst called Pina one of the best documentaries of all time. Don't doubt his judgement.


Before Sunrise
Lovely, talkative romance between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (France's cinematic treasure). The sequel is rumoured to be even better.

The Simpsons Season 8
Bargain of the year at just €5 in Gotham Video, Paris. Give these guys a visit, for they have a lot of excellent deals.
As for the content, Season 8 stands as the last of the truly great bunch of Simpsons episodes. Highlights aplenty, including The Springfield Files ("Get him back to Seaworld!"), You Only Move Twice ("Bart's lawyer is here!"), Brother From Another Series (Krusty The Klown's Prison Special), Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment ("To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!") etcetera. Solid DVD gold.


Sony proudly presents: 'The Making of Hook'
A short behind the scenes look without dialogue. Something you'd expect on the Blu-ray. Take note, Sony. Title cards are included in three different languages and the packaging clearly states it's "promotional, not for sale". Which leads me to believe this was produced for video stores or theater chains, as a means to "proudly present" the movie. A fun collectible for a major Hook-fan.

The Land Before Time
My favourite animated movie on my favourite vintage format, thanks to Marianne De Voecht. The first in a series of 12 remains the best.

Disney's LaserDisc box sets were always an expensive joy, filled with exclusive on-disc content and/or physical goodies. Tron doesn't offer a real Light Cycle, but does bury the viewer in behind the scenes information.

Beauty and the Beast Workprint
Eager LaserDisc enthusiasts had to fork out for this special "work-in-progress" version, whereas it was later included as an extra (free) viewing option on the DVD and the Blu-ray. A notorious 'rotting' disc, my copy remains - fingers crossed - speckless as of today.

Absurdly cheap LaserDiscs
(all €0.50 in Gotham Video, Paris)

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Francis Ford Coppola's opulent and spectacular extravaganza. Bashed by some pretentious critics, but loved by real lovers of cinema.

The American President
A refreshing and genuinely funny romantic comedy.
I'll take this anytime over more famous examples.

Mrs. Doubtfire
As a child, you laugh at the antics and the prosthetics. As an adult, you notice the bittersweet relationship truths - while you still laugh at the antics and the prosthetics. Great movie.

My Girl
The subject of one of the very first posts on this site, yet I still haven't taken the time to see the ending.

Free Willy
Yet another childhood favourite. Who didn't want to have his own killer whale he could play "jump over the pier" with?

Jerry Maguire
I'm not familiar with American Football (or with football, for that matter), yet I've always found Jerry Maguire to be a strangely inspirational movie. Then it strikes you that the sport is just used as a metaphor for life, and our universal struggles. Featuring one of Tom Cruise's most excellent turns. His haters need to see this again.

Although I already owned the American CAV with beautiful cover art, this Japanese CLV-version is no slouch either.

Excellent Randy Newman music, nicely balanced humour and a hilarious John Travolta (extra sugar on sweet cornflakes!) turn this potentionally one-note movie ("angel comes to earth") into a great one.

The Saint
Val Kilmer was ridiculed when he turned down Batman and Robin to star in The Saint. After seeing both movies, all I can say is: "Kilmer was right". He's a great actor when he isn't phoning it in.


The Dark Knight
No subtitles, no special features, no IMAX-aspect ratio - but the movie can't be brought down. Full review here.


Pink Floyd's The Wall
Unseen as of today, so no opinion.

Rented or borrowed

One of Peter De Voecht's guilty pleasures. What a hilarious (though thoroughly racist/sexist/stupid/...) offering. The song "Scotty Doesn't Know" will echo in your head for days.

Bad Santa
Peter De Voecht (the legendary PhD as of 21 December 2012) brought this for one of his patented movie nights. Rancid and foul, though funny.

Iris Perkisas - Linkeroever's best kept secret - lent me this classic of silent cinema. It's even better than I expected.

Shadow of the Vampire
The fictional retelling of the making behind the above Nosferatu. Willem Dafoe is amazing as Max Schreck.

Lionheart/Wrong Bet
Peter De Voecht (there's a pattern) is a big Jean-Claude Van Damme fan. As such, he had the bright idea to see Lionheart, known as Wrong Bet in some parts of the world. I had never seen a JCVD movie. Enjoyable it was.

Groundhog Day
My nephew Grigore Ionita hosted the so-called Grigore's Moving Picture Show on 21 June 2011. Groundhog Day, which he showed, turned out to be a major treat. Wow. A must buy.

Dear Zachary
During the second Grigore's Moving Picture Show on 10 July 2011, the master of ceremonies presented two flicks: The Room, Tommy Wiseau's "so-very-bad-it's-good" movie, and Dear Zachary, one of the most heartbreaking and emotional documentaries I have ever seen. Tears aplenty. Tissues filled. Throats and lumps. Recommended, if you can stomach it.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
How could I ignore The Rocky Horror Picture Show for so long? Iris Perkisas introduced me to this 1975 cult classic and I'm glad she did. Negative adjectives are in short supply. The 'shadow cast' midnight screening phenomenon is something else entirely (be prepared to meet a lot of weird fans). Although it originated in New York, the Parisian version turned out to be better. Could be just a case of the New York cast having an off-day.

This is the most successful Dutch-language Belgian movie, domestic-wise. Over 1.1 million people saw it on the silver screen, which accounts to roughly 10% of the entire population (and more than 16% of the actual population that could check it out, since the French-speaking part of Belgium hardly got a chance to see it, for not a lot of Walloon cinemas received a dubbed copy). Loft tells the story of 5 men who rent a room (the titular loft) in order to commit adultery. Director Erik Van Looy is currently finetuning his American remake, in cinemas in early 2013. Recommended.

Julian De Backer, 18 January 2013