Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 31, 2009

Child's Play 3 (1991)
AKA: Chucky Terrorizes Military School. Seriously, why do I do this to myself? Why do I watch these movies when I know they're going to be crap? Chucky comes back to life, Chucky kills people, Andy saves the day, Chucky dies. Again. The end.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

March 30, 2009

Free Willy (1993)
I can't judge this movie objectively because I absolutely adored it as a child. I mean, come on - you've got a troubled orphaned boy, a gentle captive whale, and a race against time and evil corporate money-grubbers. What's not to love? Plus, who could forget that Michael Jackson song that was everywhere for that entire year?
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Oh also - I saw Watchmen again (which doesn't count since I've written about it once in here already) and I thought I'd let you know that, despite what the credits say, Alessandro Juliani definitely is not in it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

March 29, 2009

Antonia's Line (1995)
The best thing about this movie is that it's touching by being simple and down-to-earth - a portrait of how mothers and daughters relate to each other and the important people around them. Therefore, my only complaint is the one thing that makes the movie not simple - in the beginning, Antonia's daughter Danielle sees statues come to life and interact with her. It brings her into her own little fantasy world that makes sense later when she becomes an artist. However, the movie breaks the 15-minute rule and doesn't keep this up past the beginning. Other than that, it was a great story, though very dark at times.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 28, 2009

Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009)
Not only is the voice cast in this movie fantastic, it manages to reference most of the greatest classic alien and/or monster movies from the past 80 years or so. The animation is pretty standard for CG (and I did not see this in 3D, which apparently is where the visual attraction lies) but the story is very enjoyable, especially for someone like me who spent the whole time totally amused by all the allusions, including Godzilla, Mothra, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Independence Day. The plot, like the animation, is pretty standard, but kids will definitely enjoy it.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27, 2009

Chasing Liberty (2004)
And continuing my love affair with Matthew Goode's voice, here is the better of the two movies focused around a fictional President's daughter to be released in 2004. The other (First Daughter) was mildly entertaining, made tolerable only by the appearance of Marc Blucas (Riley Finn from Buffy) as the boyfriend, but this one was considerably more enjoyable. However, to be fair, most of that might be because of Matthew Goode. He's much better looking with dark hair than the dyed blonde that he had in Watchmen. Also, Mandy Moore is far better than Katie Holmes as the President's daughter searching for her freedom. Finally, this movie proves what NCIS has been teaching audiences for seven seasons: you don't screw with Mark Harmon.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

March 26, 2009

Imagine Me and You (2006)
Did I mention that when I get stuck on something, it takes a while for it to get out of my system? A few weeks ago, it was foreign films. Right now, it's Matthew Goode movies. He's just so adorable! Anyway, this movie was pretty good - even Piper Perabo's British accent was decent - but the ending bothered me. It's all wrapped up too nicely, plus the main character's decision goes against everything she's been saying throughout the entire movie. However, there are great co-starring turns by Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) and Ben Miles from Coupling.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 25, 2009

The Lookout (2007)
Matthew Goode's voice is amazing. A lot of times an accent can affect how a voice can sound (think Sendhil Ramamurthy in Heroes - so hot - compared to when he has no accent at all) but Goode sounds hot no matter what accent he's using - his natural British one, an American one, or even that quasi-German one in Watchmen. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also pretty good in this movie as a 20-something man trying to put himself back together after suffering a life-altering head injury in a car crash. He gets roped into helping Goode and his buddies pull off a bank heist but not all goes according to plan. Really, I could listen to Goode talk forever.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 24, 2009

Moonstruck (1987)
It's a strange notion to me that Cher would ever win an Oscar for anything, but her performance in this was very good. Also, it's hysterical to watch Nicolas Cage when he was so young. As for the movie itself, I feel like it might be one of those that gets better with repeat viewings. Maybe someday I'll watch it again, but for right now, this rom com is only okay.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23, 2008

Elegy (2008)
40 seconds. I got this one because, again, Alessandro Juliani was in it and he was in it for a grand total of 40 seconds. I'm sure you are all familiar with my thoughts on Juliani - I discovered him on Battlestar Galactica (may it rest in peace *sniff*) as Leiutenent Gaeta and he was one of my favorite characters (until the end of season four of course and even then I still liked him a little). There were several things listed for him on IMDB, but they're all like this - bit parts. When will someone discover him like I did? He even sings in Battlestar! As for the rest of the movie, they lost me in the very beginning when they called Myles Standish a Puritan. The Pilgrims were not Puritans. Do your homework, people. Plus, I hate Penelope Cruz.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 22, 2009

Over Her Dead Body (2008)
Honestly, I can't think of anything to say about this movie. Ordinarily, that would make me think that the movie was bad or forgettable, but it wasn't, really. It was sort of cute and enjoyable. Jason Biggs was adorable as the gay caterer. Plus, Paul Rudd is always adorable.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

March 21, 2009

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956)
This is the Americanized version of Japan's Gojira, including the insertion of American actor Raymond Burr into the story as a journalist there for Godzilla's rampage through Tokyo. It loses a lot of the anti-nuclear sentiments present in the original, but I think that it still stands up as a pretty solid monster movie. Also, this is the film that gave birth to the LEGEN(waitforit)DARY bad dubbing. The actors' mouths clearly say one word, but the vocal track goes on for a whole sentence.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

March 20, 2009

Soapdish (1991)
This is the movie that shows how working on a soap opera is even more fun than watching one! It's a Robert Downey Jr. movie (and next up is Chaplin!) and he plays the sleazy producer who is trying to write off the main character in order to shack up with one of the actresses. So much fun to watch, especially for me since I worked on a soap opera. Good times all around!
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19, 2009

Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Tim Burton is wonderfully twisted, isn't he? His version of the story of the Headless Horseman is creepy and visually amazing. Johnny Depp's Ichabod Crane manages to be a coward (he jumps up onto his bed at the sight of a spider) and a hero, using brains instead of force. Christopher Walken has a great cameo as the spirit of the Horseman - a sadistic soldier who files his teeth down to points. Also look for co-starring turns from actors from some of the biggest fantasy franchises in the last 20 years (including Christopher Lee from Lord of the Rings, Michael Gough from Batman, Ian McDiarmid from Star Wars, and Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson, and Richard Griffiths from Harry Potter).
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

March 18, 2009

Air America (1990)
Finally, here we are at the end of Robert Downey Jr.'s horrible 80s phase. Air America is an unimpressive movie (commercial pilots are conscripted by the government and unwillingly contribute to the drug trade in Laos during the Vietnam War) but at least by this point, RDJ was starting to get hot. I'm uncomfortable with any movie he appeared in that involves drugs, given his real life trouble, but his performance here was pretty good. The movie's supposed to be a comedy, but it dances pretty close to the line of serious drama.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 17, 2009

Together (2000)
Yay for Swedish free love! A woman leaves her abusive husband and takes her very suburban kids to live in her brother's hippie collective. There's couple switching, sexual experimentation, and innocent young love. A weird movie, definitely different than anything I've seen before, but interesting. Also, everyone lives happily ever after in the end and that always makes you feel good.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16, 2009

A Secret (2007)
Just after World War II, a French Jewish boy discovers that there is a dark and tragic secret in his family history. The story is told between the present, where Francois (Mathieu Amalric) searches for his wayward father on the streets of Paris, and two sets of flashbacks: Francois as a child watching his parents live out the seemingly perfect love and before his parents were married, when the two of them were living decidedly different lives. I'm not going to give anything away, but the movie's not about what the secret is so much as about how it affects the lives of the characters. Apparently, this is based on a true story. I really like Mathieu Amalric, whether he's playing the Bond bad guy in Quantum of Solace or here where he's the less-favored son.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

March 15, 2009

The Land Before Time (1988)
#44 on my Top 100 List
Here's the movie that started it all. This was the first film I ever saw in the theaters (at age 4) and that was when I fell in love with movies. There are so many things to say. It's the story of Littlefoot, Cera, Spike, Ducky, and Petrie - 5 young dinosaurs trying to survive after getting separated from their families by an earthquake. Along the way, they must avoid the Sharptooth and try to find the mythical Great Valley. Spoiler: The death of Littlefoot's mother rivals the death of Bambi's mother in terms of heartwrenching, especially the scene where Littlefoot chases his own shadow, mistaking it for her. My only complaint is that Littlefoot changes color between purple and orange for some reason. Please, for the love of God, ignore every single wretched sequel that's been made and just watch the original.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

March 14, 2009

Balto (1995)
I get that Balto was a real sled dog and he really did carry diphtheria medicine to an Alaskan town, but this movie is sort of ridiculous. For one thing, Balto is drawn like the Tramp from Lady and the Tramp, but the Tramp is a much better character. Second, I understand that a sled trip like that can be deadly, but characters can only be in Sudden Imminent Danger so many times before the effect wears off. The movie does, however, include a sweet E.T. reference.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 13, 2009

Blade II (2002)
Half-human, half-vampire Blade returns in this sequel to face off against more supernatural bad guys. Teamed up with other vampires in order to defeat a new kind of vampire hybrid, Blade somehow seems to forget that those vampires on his side still want him dead. Guess how that turns out. Whistler returns miraculously from the dead, but remember that this is based on a Marvel series and no one stays dead in the Marvel universe for long. The first Blade was fun, but this one is way too silly and campy to be enjoyable.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Friday, March 13, 2009

March 12, 2009

P.S. I Love You (2007)
Gerard Butler is adorable with his red hair and Irish accent, but seriously? Hillary Swank (who I hate to begin with) mopes around the screen for two hours, completely dependent on letters left behind by her dead husband (Butler) and thinks that they're teaching her how to live her life. They're not. They're teaching her how to desperately cling to the past. He's dead, honey. Let it go. I watched the movie because James Marsters was in it (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) but even he couldn't save it.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009

Behind the Sun (2001)
A young Brazilian man is caught up in the blood feud between his family and his neighbors and is forced to forfeit his life for his family's honor. A traveling circus performer and his little brother's adoration complicate things. Starring Rodrigo Santoro (from Love Actually, who taught us all that when you have a gorgeous naked Brazilian man in your bedroom, you don't kick him out, Laura Linney!), the movie takes place in the harsh desert of northern Brazil and includes beautiful shots of the surrounding landscape. Begins with a murder, ends with a murder, but it's what happens in between that's important.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

March 10, 2009

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
So much more fun than the first one! The first Terminator is a great movie, but this one is funny too. The T-101 vs. the T-1000 is a great matchup (much like the Sixes and Sharons and Leobens vs. Cavill?), but even funnier is the idea of a tech support line for when something goes wrong (thank you, Kat!). This is the one with all the moments that people think of when they think of the Terminator.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 9, 2009

Cruel Intentions (1999)
Before there was Gossip Girl or the Clique novels, there was Kathryn Merteuil and Sebastian Valmont - step-siblings who lord over and play with the lives of all the students at Manhattan's Manchester Prep. Sebastian bets that he can seduce Annette, a virgin who has made public her decision to wait until love. Between his quest and Kathryn's scheming destruction of a rival, teenage plotting has never been so delightfully evil. Sarah Michelle Gellar may be Buffy forever in my head, but her Kathryn is about as far away from the blond Slayer as you can get. It's a little sad now to see Ryan Phillipe (Sebastian) and Reese Witherspoon (Annette) in the movie where they met. Based on the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Monday, March 9, 2009

March 8, 2009

Traitor (2008)
During most of this movie, I thought it was another one of those run-of-the-mill terrorist espionage thrillers that were so popular in the last couple years. As the plot unfolded, though, I found that it actually does have some substance. I love Guy Pearce and Don Cheadle so that made the movie enjoyable at least, but it's similar to Showtime's phenomenal mini-series Sleeper Cell and of the two, I would recommend Sleeper Cell.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 7, 2009

Bambi (1942)
#98 on my Top 100 List
If this movie was made today, it would have been immediately shanghaied by anti-hunting activist groups and proclaimed as a wonderful showcase for their cause. While Man is clearly the bad guy (and all the more scary because you never ever see a single human or any part of one), I don't think that the original intent was to make an anti-hunting film. It's one of Disney's finest, with stunning watercolor backgrounds and animation (still unmatched by any inferior CGI animation) and an interesting use of music in that when action needs to be accented, it's accented with orchestral music instead of sound effects. Disney Studios brought real deer in for the animators to study and it shows in the characters' movements. Also, this film includes one of the most heartbreaking deaths in film history.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 6, 2009

Meet the Robinsons (2007)
Not Disney's finest effort. I wanted to see this because the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the trailer looked hysterical and it was - for the five minutes it was onscreen. The rest of the plot - an orphan boy ends up being whisked away into the future in order to save the present - is not captivating or really all that interesting. Most of the movie is spent meeting the quirky characters, then not doing anything with them.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bonus Midnight Movie

*I couldn't decide if movies that I see in theaters at midnight should count for the day before or the day after, so I decided to make them bonus entries. I don't see many midnight movies, but when I do, I'll include them*

So here was the movie of the unfilmable book. I was one of the few of us who hadn't read the graphic novel before seeing the movie. Most of the reviews that I had read said that where the movie tries to defeat comic book conventions, it only succeeds in falling victim to them. For a lot of the movie, I agreed with that, but the end does turn all the conventions upside down. Jeffrey Dean Morgan's performance as the Comedian is dark and twisted and sociopathic (like he's supposed to be) and it was the most striking to me simply because it was so different from what I'd seen him in before. Billy Crudup also was amazing, since his entire performance was motion-captured to become a fully naked, glowing blue man with white eyes. The chosen music was a great addition, from the original Leonard Cohen version of "Hallelujah" to selections from Phillip Glass's score from Koyaanisqatsi to "All Along the Watchtower" (that's the true secret of Watchmen - they're all Cylons).
I'm putting the Alessandro Juliani label on this entry because he's SUPPOSED to be in the movie - he's even in the credits - but I couldn't find him. I have to go back and see it again to look for him.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March 5, 2009

Clueless (1995)
#85 on my Top 100 List
One of the defining teen movies of a generation and one of the most quotable movies of the 90s. I love this film. It doesn't hurt that it's a modern version of Jane Austen's Emma. I noticed the famous fountain (you know - "Oh my God, I love Josh!") when I lived in Los Angeles (it's on the corner of Wilsher and Santa Monica boulevards) and it became something of a famous landmark. You'd think that a film like this would feel dated, but it has somehow managed to withstand the test of time to remain one of the most enjoyable comedies around. Look for a young Breckin Meyer as the school stoner who steals Brittany Murphy's heart and Paul Rudd as Cher's adorable ex-step-brother.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

March 4, 2009

Wild Reeds (1994)
This French film about the sexual awakening of French schoolboys focuses on four main characters: Serge, Henri, Francois, and Maite. There are love triangles mixed up with political unrest and questions about the validity of France's war in Algeria. My only complaint is that the shifting focus between the four characters is sometimes jumpy or sudden.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March 3, 2009

We Own The Night (2007)
This movie tries to be a gangster movie for the beginning, a twisted family drama for the middle, and a police drama by the end. It doesn't succeed with any of them. Joaquin Phoenix gives a decent performance, but it's difficult to focus on his acting when his other antics have been so widely reported lately. Overall: meh.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Monday, March 2, 2009

March 2, 2009

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
#86 on my Top 100 List
I like this film much better than the first Chronicles of Narnia. The movie is darker, both in theme and visuals, the tone is more adult, and the characters are more developed. Though I miss James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus (who wouldn't miss James McAvoy?), I think that the Telmarines and new Narnian characters work better in the story. There are several clear similarities to Lord of the Rings (trees show up at the Battle of the How just as they do at the Battle of Helms Deep; the river is used as a weapon against the bad guys just like it is in Rivendell against the Ringwraiths), but that makes sense, as JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis were good friends and writing around the same time. The final scene in Narnia is hearbreaking, especially with Regina Spektor's song "The Call" in the background.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

*This is probably a good time to mention my policy regarding movies based on books: I never read the book first. With the exceptions of Harry Potter and Twilight, where I saw the first movie (or first two in Harry Potter's case) and then read all of the books, I have found that if I read the book first, I can't judge the movie without comparing it. If I see the movie first, I can appreciate both as individual entities.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March 1, 2009

Blade (1998)
I really love Marvel movies. I love the characters in the Marvel universe in general. Blade is an interesting character, since in the beginning, he showed up as a guest star in other comics instead of having his own stories. Wesley Snipes plays him very well, never blinking and hardly ever saying a word. This makes him very creepy but also hints that there is something not quite right lurking under the surface (the fact that he's half-vampire and battles with his own thirst for human blood if he doesn't get his serum in time). A solid Marvel adaptation.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

February 28, 2009

Juno (2007)
#70 on my Top 100 List
I love that this movie is only an hour and a half long. It could have been two hours or more and preached about the dangers of teen pregnancy, but it doesn't. Juno is a capable girl who deals with a life-changing situation and makes difficult choices (which she acknowledges as things "way beyond my maturity level"). Ellen Page and Michael Cera are very sweet and believable as the best friends/lovers and it's amusing to see Michael Cera in the same movie with Jason Bateman (Arrested Development's George Michael Bluth and Michael Bluth).
My Netflix rating: 5 stars