Friday, February 27, 2009

February 27, 2009

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
#31 on my Top 100 List
Who would have thought that a movie based on a Disneyland ride would be so enjoyable or so successful? (Remember I'm only talking about the first one here.) Johnny Depp is great as the slightly inept but totally enthusiastic pirate Jack Sparrow and while Orlando Bloom is totally overshadowed, his performance isn't bad. Together they go up against the evil Captain Barbossa to break an ancient curse and get back the Governor's daughter. There are sea battles, sword fights, and pirate romance. What more could you want?
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

February 26, 2009

Ju Dou (1990)
Aside from the twisted, quasi-incestuous love story (more on that in a minute), the most memorable thing about this film is its amazing use of color. Every shot includes something bright and beautiful, whether it is waving grass or the huge roles of dyed silk hanging out to dry. The love story between Tianquing and his beautiful young aunt Ju Dou is creepy at first (and, let's face it, sort of stays that way) but it's clear that they love each other and they aren't blood related. Besides, she was being beaten by Tianquing's brutal uncle, so okay. The end of the movie is tragic, but really, how else could it have turned out?
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 25, 2009

True Believer (1989)
Remember when I said that I was trying to watch all of Robert Downey, Jr.'s movies? This one almost marks the end of his 80s period (I consider the end to be his amazing work in Chaplin, but I've still got a few to go). I won't be sad to see that period end. While he was alright in this film, the movie overall was lacking the fire that a good courtroom drama should have. It was less about the innocent man sent to prison for murder and more about the supposed redemption of James Woods' defense attorney character.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

February 24, 2009

Iron Man (2008)
#17 on my Top 100 List
Oh Robert Downey Jr., why have you been hiding those biceps all this time? Iron Man marks the culmination of one of the best and most explosive comebacks in recent show biz history. RDJ plays billionaire playboy-turned-superhero Tony Stark as someone who you really shouldn't like but you do anyway. There are lots of explosions and superpower visual effects as per usual in this genre, but there are certain character flaws in Tony that make it clear this is no kid's movie. His propensity for sleeping with women then having his assistant kick them out the next morning, for instance. Robert Downey Jr. can pick up a hammer any time he wants to, in my book. Can't wait till the sequel hits theaters in 2010.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February 23, 2009

East of Eden (1955)
When I first saw Rebel Without a Cause, I didn't really see what the big deal was about James Dean. Now I can definitely say that he had the Tortured Outcast Teenager act down pat. I did enjoy this more than Rebel Without a Cause. My only complaint was that the Cal and Aron as Cain and Abel metaphor was far more heavy-handed than elegant, though that fault lies more with Steinbeck's original story than with the film. I respect James Dean's talent for the roles that he had the opportunity to play and it leaves me wondering what kind of actor he would have grown into had he been given the chance.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Sunday, February 22, 2009

February 22, 2009

Panic Room (2002)
I absolutely LOVE David Fincher's films. Zodiac, Fight Club, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button are all on my top 100 list. While I like this one less than those mentioned above, it's still a tight and tense thriller, confining all of the action to one house and closing the audience into the titular panic room with Jodie Foster and a very young Kristen Stewart (Twilight's Bella Swan). Normally thrillers don't keep me on the edge of my seat (I've seen way too many), but this one certainly did.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Make sure you watch the Oscars tonight!!

February 21, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
#79 on my Top 100 List
This is the second time I've seen this film and I like it more and more. One of the most impressive things to me is how closely they matched the actors who play Jamal, Salim, and Latika at the three stages of their lives. Dev Patel should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor and look for Slumdog Millionaire to win Best Picture later tonight!
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Saturday, February 21, 2009

February 20, 2009

Don Juan DeMarco (1995)
Johnny Depp plays the greatest lover of all time. Explain how that's bad. His Spanish accent is actually relative convincing too, which is more than I can say for his Irish/Scottish hybrid from Chocolat. Marlon Brando is alright as his psychiatrist, but Johnny's the real star here.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Thursday, February 19, 2009

February 19, 2009

Ned Kelly (2003)
I think what this movie was trying to do was use the true story of the Kelly Gang to highlight the subplot of the Irish plight in Australia. It didn't really work. Heath Ledger gives a good performance as Ned Kelly, but it's most hidden by the heinous beard that someone in the makeup department thought (incorrectly) looked good. Geoffrey Rush is sadly underused as the police officer chasing the gang. The titles at the end that detail what happened to the real Ned Kelly, however, ring sadly true, as he was hanged at the age of 25 - just three years younger than Ledger was when he passed away.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February 18, 2009

Coraline (2009)
#82 on my Top 100 List
Made by the same team that brought us The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline is creepy and magical and slightly uplifting in a twisted way. It echoes of Pan's Labyrinth meets Alice in Wonderland, but heroine Coraline Jones is definitely a stronger female character than Ofelia or Alice. She takes on her enemies in the Other World with heart and smarts. Also, I'll never look at buttons the same way again.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February 17, 2009

The Terminator (1984)
Though this movie could be better, especially in the SFX department, it paved the way for the sequel and made the idea of a post-apocalyptic future ruled by robots both terrifying and cool (Battlestar Galactica anyone?). See Arnold Schwarzenegger before he was the CA governor and also watch for scenes that have birthed homages in Army of Darkness and last year's Twilight. Try your best to ignore the plastic prosthetics glued to poor Arnold's face.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Monday, February 16, 2009

February 16, 2009

Gone With the Wind (1939)
#5 on my Top 100 List
Again, there are so many good things I could say. Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable were perfectly cast as Scarlett and Rhett and though it's nearly four hours long, I still find myself missing parts that were omitted from the book. I know a lot of people write it off as melodrama and that may be, but it's melodrama at it's finest. Bring it on.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

February 15, 2009

Robin Hood (1973)
#35 on my Top 100 List
There are so many good things I can say about this movie. I love the story of Robin Hood anyway, but Disney's version is heartwarming moreso than any of the others. The song "Not in Nottingham" gets me every time. Phil Harris (the voice of Little John as well as Baloo in The Jungle Book and O'Malley in The Aristocats) is one of my all-time favorite Disney voices. Also, listen for the voice of Piglet as a poor church mouse.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February 14, 2009

The Producers (2005)
Generally speaking, I don't like remakes (the few exceptions being the 1999 version of The Mummy and the George Clooney version of Ocean's Eleven). Usually, they got it right the first time around. That being said, this film doesn't really feel like a remake, so much as a movie that was based on a play...that happened to be based on another movie. Matthew Broderick's character's neuroses really irritated me, but Will Farrell and Peter Bart as the neo-Nazi playright and the flamboyant director's assistant are hysterical.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Saturday, February 14, 2009

February 13, 2009

Anastasia (1956)
There are plenty of stories based on the legend of the missing Romanov princess Anastasia, but this film version is based on a true life hoax that placed Anna Anderson (Ingrid Bergman) in Russia's mind as the princess. It's pretty good - sort of like a My Fair Lady approach to the story, complete with extensive training for Anna in order for her to be a convincing princess. Plus, I think co-star Yul Brynner is really hot.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12, 2009

Chaos Theory (2007)
I watched this movie because Alessandro Juliani (Battlestar Galactica's Felix Gaeta) was in it (despite recent events on BSG, I am still a fan of his). Overall, it was alright, but Ryan Reynolds never sold me on his performance as an efficiency expert whose life is spinning out of control. Plus, Juliani was only in it for maybe 5 minutes.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February 11, 2009

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
This documentary about the MPAA is fascinating and hysterical. Director Kirby Dick hires a private investigator to discover just who it is who decides on movie ratings, while discussing history and prejudices of the MPAA in the process. It reminded me of Jorge Furtado's Ilha das Flores (Isle of Flowers), a short documentary ultimately about mistreatment of Brazilian poor. Much darker subject, but the same tongue-in-cheek humor.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

*Note about the ratings*
For fictional films, I only give 5 stars to movies on my Top 100 list. (By the way, if something's on that list, I'll note that). 4 stars means that I really enjoyed it; 3 means so-so; 2 means I didn't like it at all, and 1 star is reserved for those movies that I absolutely loathe.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February 10, 2009

Frozen River (2008)
A poor single mother decides to earn money by smuggling illegal immigrants into the US by way of a Mohawk reservation. Surprisingly, this does not work out well for her. This was the last of the Academy-Award nominated films that I needed to see (not counting docs and foreign films) and while nominated actress Melissa Leo was good, I think that she pales in comparison to the other four nominees (Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, and Kate Winslet). It's definitely not a feel-good movie, especially when the economy is as it is.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Monday, February 9, 2009

February 9, 2009

The Lion King (1994)
I'm a purist when it comes to animation - I prefer hand-drawn over CGI. This animated feature from Disney offers a complex story (an animal-starring kid's version of Shakespeare's Hamlet) and is stunning to look at. It experiments with using traditional camera work through animation, including dissolves, slow-motion, racking focus, and zooming in and out. Watch for allusions to the Nazi party by way of the evil hyenas and listen for the fantastic vocal work of Jeremy Irons as Scar and James Earl Jones as Mufasa.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Sunday, February 8, 2009

February 8, 2009

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn face off in this comedy where the funniest thing is the fact that it's an entire movie about adults playing dodgeball. The humor doesn't require a whole lot of thought, but the movie's very funny and enjoyable, especially the cameos from Jason Bateman and Hank Azaria and a co-starring turn by Firefly's Alan Tudyk. Make sure to watch through the end of the credits for a hysterical (and slightly terrifying) stinger.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Saturday, February 7, 2009

February 7, 2009

1969 (1988)
Starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Kiefer Sutherland as best friends who try to escape the draft, 1969 tries to take on all of the 1960s and really doesn't accomplish much. Downey's great and believable as the wilder of the two who flunks out of college and tries to come up with any way to avoid being drafted, but Sutherland is miscast as the do-gooder who just wants everyone to get along. Bruce Dern and Winona Ryder co-star as Sutherland's conservative father and Downey's younger sister respectively.
I'm trying to watch all of Robert Downey, Jr.'s films, so expect to see more starring him in the future.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars


A few years ago, I read this book: A Year at the Movies. It was written by one of the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 who decided to see if he could watch one movie every day for a year. He traveled around the world, trying to find obscure movies and movie theaters. I've been thinking about it and I've decided to set the same challenge for myself: can I watch a movie every day for an entire year?

Well, we're going to see. I'm going to try my best to watch at least one movie every day starting today and going through February 6, 2010. And where's the fun in that without people watching my progress and cheering me on? I intend to list and write a little about each movie I watch from now until next year.

Here are the rules:

1. Only one movie counts per day. If I watch more than one, like say seeing six movies in a theater in one day (I haven't forgotten about that challenge, Chris!), only the first one counts.
2. Short films and documentaries that never got theatrical release (TV specials or more or less anything you'd watch in school) don't count.
3. I have to watch the entire movie - starting one but not finishing it doesn't count either.
4. Originally, I said that I might repeat movies. I've changed my mind - repeating movies doesn't count either. I should be able to find 365 different movies to watch.
5. Days are counted from when I wake up in the morning to when I go to bed at night. This usually means that the day doesn't start until very late morning and ends sometime around 2 am (provided it's not a work night). I'm too much of a night owl to officially end the day at midnight.

Here we go. Wish me luck!