Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30, 2009

The Outsiders (1983)
Leave it to Hollywood to make a movie about Greasers using the Brat Pack. Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise don't usually make you think about tough hoods who go around fighting all the time, but somehow the entire cast works. This adaptation stays very true to the book it's based on, right down to specific lines. Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, and Matt Dillon stand out as the stars. I really like the common theme of not being able to hold onto innocence, in the book and the movie, by the use of the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay."
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009

Troy (2004)
There are actually a few things that I like about this movie. First of all, Eric Bana, Brad Pitt, and Orlando Bloom in skimpy clothing is never bad (and as an added bonus, Orlando gets to wield a bow and arrow again). The changes that are made to the accepted legend are mostly done to improve characterization and to help the story stand on its own as opposed to being part of a larger story like The Iliad is. Andromache and her son are certainly spared the horror of their original fate. Paris is not quite the shallow, cowardly moron that he often is made out to be. Plus, there's a great reference to The Aeneid if you're paying attention. Yes, things have been changed - yes, it's too long - and yes, parts are totally ridiculous. But overall, it's kind of enjoyable. And Brian Cox is brilliant when he's playing villains, isn't he?
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28, 2009

The Celluloid Closet (1995)
Looking at the gay subtext of films going all the way back to the silent era, this documentary had limited theatrical run (so it still counts!). It's interesting to see where they find hidden meanings and signs. The Ben-Hur story is, I think, the most interesting and definitely one of the funniest. There are plenty of film clips to back up the points. I wish it had been made later to incorporate films from 1996 - on, but it's still a pretty in-depth look at the last 90 years or so.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 27, 2009

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
This movie ushered in the resurgence of period epics that led to Braveheart and sword-and-sandal films like Gladiator. Based on James Fenimore Cooper's novel, it's intense, moving, sometimes bloody, and sometimes tragic. This was Daniel Day-Lewis's first film after his reportedly amazing work in My Left Foot (haven't seen it yet) and he does not disappoint. The execution scene (that involves fire and occurs late in the movie, so I won't spoil who it is that is executed) is hard to watch, incredibly powerful, and chokes me up every time.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

May 26, 2009

Last Chance Harvey (2008)
This movie is about just what it's title says - Harvey's last chance to get things right in every aspect of his life. He's on his last leg at his job, he has one last chance to form (or rescue I guess) a relationship with his daughter, and he has pretty much given up on love. For the first half of the movie, it's really depressing, but as things start to go well for Harvey, the audience starts feeling slightly better. I really wish Netflix could give half stars, because this really is more of a 3 1/2 rating, but oh well.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 25, 2009

American Splendor (2003)
Not a bad film, though it's really weird. Half fictionalized biopic and half documentary about the author of the comic series American Splendor, both styles work, just not really in conjunction with each other. Paul Giamatti was well-cast as Harvey Pekar, which is especially important when he's being seen alongside the real Pekar.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Monday, May 25, 2009

May 24, 2009

Chaplin (1992)
#64 on my Top 100 List
This was the first thing I saw Robert Downey Jr. in and even then I recognized his talent and potential. I'm so glad that he's returned to form with Iron Man, The Soloist, and Tropic Thunder. I have very high hopes for Sherlock Holmes this Christmas. His Best Actor nomination was well-deserved for his dead-on portrayal of Charlie Chaplin, plus the rest of the cast is pretty good too. Geraldine Chaplin, Charlie's daughter, is one of the best, playing her own grandmother Hannah, who had to be institutionalized and was declared insane.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 23, 2009

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)
So...yesterday was my brother's wedding. And it was beautiful. The reception was a blast - the food was good, the music was good, and it was all around a great day to celebrate him and his wonderful wife. But I still had to fit in a movie, so after the reception was over and I had changed out of my bridesmaid's dress, my best friend and I headed out to see this, since if we had stayed home to watch a movie, we both would have been asleep by the midpoint. It's a great movie, totally fun and funny and a nice ending to a great day. Honestly, I also think it's funnier than the first Museum.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Friday, May 22, 2009

May 22, 2009

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
I feel the need to justify this one to everyone - when my brother and I were little, we watched monster movies a lot. I've seen Godzilla fight nearly every monster out there, including Mothra, King Kong, and the Japanese ripoff of the Greek mythology monster Hydra. This one, where he fights a robot version of himself from outer space, is my favorite. It's just as ridiculous as it sounds and I love it.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

May 21, 2009

Terminator Salvation (2009)
In this latest installment of the Terminator series, there are a lot of chase scenes and things that blow up. That's about it. They try to explore the idea of what makes someone human and the sometimes thin line between human and machine, but the reboot of Battlestar Galactica examined those issues years ago and frankly did it better. It's a fun movie if you don't take it too seriously.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

May 20, 2009

Hercules (1997)
Since I just finished reading the spectacular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, I've been in a Greek mythology mood, so I decided to add this one to the Netflix queue. It sanitizes and "Disney-fies" the original story more than most Disney movies (gone are Hera damning Hercules for being the illegitimate son of her husband, as well as Hercules flying into a fit of insanity and killing his wife and children), but it's cute and entertaining and the singing, narrating Muses are fabulous.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 19, 2009

Fanboys (2008)
This is a mildly amusing story about a group of friends trying to break into Skywalker Ranch and steal a print of Episode I six months before it comes out so that their dying friend can see it. Completely unintentionally, I actually watched this on the 10-year anniversary of the day that Episode I was released. What's actually funny about it is watching for cameos from several Star Wars alums and other filmmakers.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

May 18, 2009

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
#12 on my Top 100 List
What I love most about this movie is that you can interpret it however you want. You could see it as a fantasy movie about a little girl who discovers a magical world that she didn't know she was a part of, or you could see it as an intense drama about a little girl who creates a fantasy world to retreat to when the real world becomes too much to handle. I prefer to think of it as the former - that Ofelia really is Princess Moanna and must complete Pan's tasks in order to go back home. Make no mistake, it's a disturbing movie, but it's also one of the best.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 17, 2009

The Little Mermaid (1989)
#7 on my Top 100 List
Here we are, my 100th day of movies! (I know there are 102 entries, but the first one is just the introduction and the Watchmen entry is a bonus midnight one.) So far it's been extraordinarily fun, though tough sometimes to make sure I get a whole movie in a day (like last Friday night when I got home late from seeing Star Trek again and still had to watch another movie because Star Trek couldn't count twice). I figured I should pick something special to mark 100 days, so I chose this: my favorite Disney movie of all time. I think that The Little Mermaid was the beginning of Disney's second Golden Age - it includes amazing songs and music, a proactive heroine, a handsome prince, and an ending that manages to unite two utterly different worlds. I could watch it over and over again.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May 16, 2009

Monsoon Wedding (2001)
The mainstream success of Slumdog Millionaire should have, by all rights, brought attention to lesser known Indian films, but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be happening. This beautiful film about a traditional Indian wedding and the family drama that accompanies it is colorful and touching, creating characters that the audience deeply cares about by the end (even if you're not entirely sure how everyone is related to each other). It blends secondary plotlines together a la Love Actually, though this one has a storyline that everything revolves around while Love Actually is more about vignettes based on the same theme. Half of the dialogue is subtitled and half isn't, but that's not really distracting.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

May 15, 2009

Pathfinder (2007)
Like The New World, this movie is told with hardly any dialogue. It doesn't really work. The vast majority of the film takes place at night, so if you have any glare on the television at all, you can't see most of what's going on. Only the male and female leads are well-established; the Viking warrior villains all blend together in an unending stream of faceless masked bad guys. Karl Urban is hot as the hero, but that's about it.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 14, 2009

Rush Hour 3 (2007)
Detectives Carter and Lee come back together for a third adventure, which is not quite as exciting as the first two. Jackie Chan keeps up okay, but Chris Tucker doesn't seem to be up to making another action movie. I do appreciate the addition of Ambassador Han and Soo-Yung, the characters from the first movie. Some of the movie's gags are funny, some aren't.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 13, 2009

Spy Kids (2001)
Silk Spectre and Zorro have kids! This movie is pretty amusing and fun, though towards the end, it definitely panders to the children half of the audience. I've seen the third one in the series, but it's interesting to watch the first one now and see how mini-spies Carmen and Juni get their start. And I do love watching Antonio Banderas.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 12, 2009

Mansfield Park (1999)
English country estates do get a reputation, don't they? From Brideshead to Manderley and Wuthering Heights to Satis House, it seems that not much good ever happens when you go away to the old family manor for a visit. Mansfield Park's secrets are not nearly as dark as Manderley's or Wuthering Heights', but it's not all fun and games even if it does all revolve around love. The movie itself is pretty - bright and colorful - but it doesn't really take enough time to get deep into the characters.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 11, 2009

The Mummy (1999)
#41 on my Top 100 List
Normally, I am against remakes. If something worked the first time, why mess with it? But this movie, a remake of the Universal monster movie starring Boris Karloff, is just fun. There are convincing but not over-used special effects, impressive ancient sets, and witty one-liners delivered by actors with good comedic timing. I'm a sucker for anything Ancient Egypt related and I just love this movie. Followed by one awesome sequel and one not-so-great one.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 10, 2009

Spice World (1997)
Since I grew up in the 90s, I figured I should probably see this. I rightfully had no expectations - the movie has no plot and even so, it makes no sense. It's really just a glorified series of music videos with some traveling thrown in between. Alan Cumming, Richard E. Grant, Hugh Laurie, Roger Moore, why?
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

May 9, 2009

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
The funniest thing about the first Madagascar was the side characters - the lemurs, the penguins, and the monkeys. Unfortunately, they were not used quite enough to make the movie anything more than a cute kid's vehicle for Ben Stiller. The second one uses those characters even less and when they do appear, they aren't funny. Also, love between a hippo and a giraffe? That's just disturbing.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

May 8, 2009

Savage Grace (2007)
I have seen some pretty strange and twisted movies in my time, but this one surpasses nearly all of them. It's apparently based on a true crime story about the murder of a wealthy socialite who is murdered by her son, but I'm trying to force myself to believe that the part where mother and son are in a sexual relationship is made up for dramatic effect.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Friday, May 8, 2009

May 7, 2009

Star Trek (2009)
#92 on my Top 100 List
Before this movie, I had never seen any version of Star Trek either in film or TV and was going into it knowing nothing. So far, it's my favorite movie of 2009, second only to Coraline (and not by very much). It's similar to Iron Man in that it's a great kick-start to the summer - it's fun, it's fast-paced, hot men abound, and it doesn't leave you with a crushing feeling of depression when you leave (I'm looking at you, The Dark Knight). The entire crew of the Enterprise was perfectly cast, from adorable Anton Yelchin as Chekov to Zachary Quinto as Spock, although when the character gets mad, Quinto seems to slip back into Sylar-mode. It's okay, I love him anyway. Bring on the sequels!
My Netflix rating: 5 stars