Saturday, February 27, 2010

14. February 26, 2010 - Shutter Island (2010)

I don't remember why they delayed this from October to February (something to do with funding an Oscar campaign maybe) but regardless of the reason, I think this is a very solid film. Leonardo DiCaprio, though I still think he looks like he's 12 years old, gives a very good performance as the US Marshall assigned to investigate a missing patient from a high-security mental hospital. There's a twist (which, admittedly I saw coming, though I never used to even try - Lauren, that's your fault!) but it's not one that feels far-fetched. The production design is beautiful and the writing is very good. In the scheme of movies adapted from Dennis Lehane novels - not as good as Mystic River, but better than Gone Baby Gone.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Thursday, February 25, 2010

13. February 25, 2010 - Dead Snow (2009)

Though this starts out with a pretty awesome zombie attack set to "In the Hall of the Mountain King," from there it moves into a typical plot involving a group of stupid teenagers renting an isolated mountain cabin. They're the characters that everyone hates - the ones that have audiences yelling at their televisions about how you're never supposed to go anywhere alone or say, "I'll be right back" in a horror movie. The way this movie was advertised was as the Nazi zombie movie. Nazi zombies? That seems morbidly awesome. However, what it's actually about is zombies who happen to be dressed in Nazi uniforms. It's such a cool idea that sadly doesn't play out nearly as well as it could have. Also, the actors playing the zombies don't (for lack of a better phrase) "play zombie." They just seem like ordinary, albeit violent and homicidal, guys who happen to be in zombie makeup.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

12. February 24, 2010 - Moon (2009)

This movie is creepy and totally fascinating. Sam Rockwell is an employee of an energy company that, in the near future, mines a new element from the surface of the moon. He's all alone on his moon base for three years, with no one but a Kevin Spacey-voiced robot for company. Needless to say, he starts going crazy. Or does he? It's not so much the answer that's fascinating - it's the way they go about showing you. They don't wait to pull the twist until the end - instead, it's in the middle and poor Sam Rockwell is left to figure out what the hell he's supposed to do now. I was afraid that it would be boring since it's just one actor and a robot, but it's definitely not.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Monday, February 22, 2010

11. February 21/22, 2010 - Il Divo (2009)

This movie is probably really interesting if you know a lot about late-20th century Italian history. Or, for starters, if you at least know who Giulio Andreotti was. I went in totally ignorant and as a result, this movie made very little sense. It got nominated for a Best Makeup award, which I assume is for the lead actor's look (who looks like the real Andreotti? See, again, would be better if I knew anything about this guy). It's a confusing mess of names and political intrigue, skipping around through time and introducing characters only to kill them off moments later.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Saturday, February 20, 2010

10. February 19/20, 2010 - Paris 36 (2009)

This is a lot like Moulin Rouge, if you took out the music and the dancing and the bright colors and Ewan McGregor - you know, everything fun. Three friends try to save their theater in wartime Paris, but get embroiled in mob dealings and Communist politics. It should be fun, but it's just not. Usually I am all for subtitles - it's a hundred times better than dubbing unless you're talking about Godzilla - but this is the kind of movie that would probably have been better if I could have been doing a couple of other things while watching it.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

9. February 19, 2010 - Crazy Heart (2009)

The major problem with this movie is not that it rips practically everything off from The Wrestler (right down to an unnecessary plot about an estranged angry child) but it is that it takes about half the movie before you can sympathize with the character. He's a messed-up alcoholic who runs off stage in the middle of a show to throw up in a garbage can - oh, but look! He met a nice girl and that made him want to turn his life around. I will say that Jeff Bridges' performance was very good and T-Bone Burnett's song "The Weary Kind" is actually pretty touching and very appropriate for the movie. Colin Farrell showing up halfway through the movie was nice, but that's about all I can say.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

8. February 17, 2010 - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

I really love this series! Just as good the second time around, which surprised me a little bit, since I've reread the book since I saw this on Sunday. I really am okay with the things that got cut or changed, with that one exception of the pact not to have children made by Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. That's important! I also noticed this time around that when they're in the Underworld version of LA, the Hollywood sign spells out "Hell."

My original entry is here.

7. February 17, 2010 - Food, Inc. (2009)

This is one of those movies that, knowing myself, I knew I should never have watched. However, I do try to see everything that gets nominated for an Oscar - even documentaries and foreign films (and occasionally atrocious films that sneak in like Norbit) - so I added this to my Netflix queue and forgot about it until it came in the mail yesterday. Super Size Me was horrifying, but I already don't eat that kind of food, so the effect is different - this movie talks about all food. I know that all documentaries are biased and that that has to be taken into consideration when watching them, but this one was definitely very powerful in its message.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

6. February 16, 2010 - Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005)

It's been snowing all day and last week I went on a little DVD buying spree, so today felt like a pretty good movie day. Laura Henderson was a saucy, daring woman and I can think of absolutely no one more well-suited to play her than Dame Judi Dench. Ever since she became M in GoldenEye, she's shown that she can play any and every role thrown at her. Though I could have lived without seeing Bob Hoskins naked, this true story of a theater in WWII-era London that made headlines by having its actresses naked onstage is funny and moving, especially when the Windmill Theater becomes a haven for Londoners during the Blitz. Definitely worth watching - besides, in what other movie are you going to hear the line "We must have British nipples"?
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

5. February 16, 2010 - Air Force One (1997)

Harrison Ford has shown that he can play a space pirate, an ass-kicking archeology professor, and now a seriously bad-ass President of the United States. When radical Soviet nationalists take over his airplane with his family and senior staff aboard, President Harrison doesn't run or panic - he eludes his own Secret Service trying to get him to safety and proceeds to sabotage the terrorists while hiding in the baggage compartment of the plane. Not as perfect as President Bartlett (The West Wing), not as publically heroic as President Whitmore (Independence Day), but President Harrison is up there with fictional American Presidents. Hell, I'd vote for Han Solo any day!
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

4. February 14, 2010 - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

A lot of people might mistakenly think that this is nothing but a rip-off of Harry Potter, but they're very wrong. There are definite similarities and Rick Riordan may have been influenced by the wizard novels when he wrote the Olympians series (but really, at this point, who isn't?), but this world has its own clear mythology (ha, see what I did there?) and epic battle to fight. The movie version is different than the first book, but for the most part, the changes did not bother me. I understand making the characters older than 12 (especially if they plan to adapt all five books - less trouble with aging actors) and though I missed the scenes at the St. Louis Arch and the mattress shop with Procrustes, the Hydra scene is fun. I didn't like that they cut the pact made by Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades not to have any more children - that is a major plot point of the series. Sean Bean and Kevin McKidd were perfect as Zeus and Poseidon, as was Steve Coogan as an 80s metal version of Hades. Poor LA, though, sentenced to serve doubly as the entrance to and the fiery pit of the Underworld.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Sunday, February 14, 2010

3. February 13, 2010 - Enigma (2001)

Jeremy Northam, as adorable as he is in Gosford Park, is utterly creepy in this movie. He plays his part of a secretive British government agent trying to find a mole in a WWII codebreaker unit perfectly - complete with his hat cocked devil-may-care to one side. Kate Winslet's performance is good, but more impressive is how the costume department managed to make her look frumpy and mousy. I don't know much about the Enigma code machine or the codebreakers, other than that if the Allies hadn't broken the code, victory would have been a lot less certain, but this is a fascinating movie. I have no idea how realistic it is, though. Also fascinating is the inclusion of the Katyn massacre in Poland - another thing that I know little about, but definitely plan to look up!
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Saturday, February 13, 2010

2. February 11/12, 2010 - In the Loop (2009)

I didn't really love this movie. The humor is too dry for me, plus I am definitely not a fan of the stark, almost minimalist style that it's shot in. It's not quite documentary-style, since there is no hand-held camera work, but it's done with very little traditional lighting, no musical score, and very little interaction between the camera and the characters (no close-ups or things like that). Not the way I want to watch a movie. I want to be immersed in the story, not reminded that I'm outside. That all being said, I do think that the writing is fantastic. The story is tight and the dialogue is fast and sharp.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Friday, February 12, 2010

1. February 11, 2010 - I Love You, Man (2009)

I think that this is the kind of movie that gets better and funnier the more you watch it. I was not overly impressed the first time, but this time around it was much more enjoyable. I still love that Lou Ferrigno is a major character and though he's great in this kind of buddy movie, Paul Rudd will forever be Josh from Clueless to me. Also this time, this movie made me want so badly to live in LA again!

Check out my original entry here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

And that's it! But what's next?

Wow. I can't believe it's been an entire year! 365 days of movies, plus 3 special midnight showings (Watchmen, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and New Moon), hasn't felt at all like a long time. Thanks to all of you who supported me - I loved writing in here knowing that there were people who were waiting to read it.

But what now? I certainly don't intend on letting this blog disappear, so I'm setting a new challenge for myself. Before this past year, I watched a lot of movies on my own, but I have no idea how many I typically would watch in a year. So, from February 7, 2010 to February 6, 2011, I plan on counting how many movies I actually watch. And of course, I'll share my thoughts here for all of you to share!

New rules:
1. Repeats count. Since this is just for curiosity's sake and not really a challenge, I figure that doesn't hurt. I also won't put labels on the entries for repeats (except for "repeat"). Plus I've been itching to watch Iron Man again!
2. I can take more than one day to watch a movie. I'll note it if I start one day and finish on another.
3. TV movies count this time around. Same goes for anything that was direct-to-DVD. TV miniseries, TV specials, and short films, however, still don't.
4. Multiple movies in one day all count. Some days are just lazy movie days!

Thanks again for all of your support!


February 6, 2010

L.A. Confidential (1997)
#1 on my Top 100 List
I've been saving the best for last! This, like Chinatown, is a neo-noir - taking the elements of traditional Film Noir, it spins them with color and the brightness of 90s cinema. Everything here is perfectly done. The writers took James Ellroy's epic novel and pared it down to a manageable length while retaining the important events (Bloody Christmas, the Nite Owl killings, the assassinations of Mickey Cohen's henchment) and the intense focus on character. Three cops with vastly different backgrounds and philosophies on their job are forced through intrigue and circumstance to work together to bring down LA's organized crime. The writing is fantastic, the production design of post-war Los Angeles blows my mind (plus there is the fact that it's about LA, which is my favorite city), and everyone in the film (from first-billed Kevin Spacey on down) is fantastic. I love that I still see and understand new things every time I watch this, though by now I must have seen it ten times or more. I love that there is such attention to detail. I loved, when I lived in Los Angeles, finding places that appear in the movie like the Frolic Room or the Formosa that are still there. And I love when Bud White cocks that shotgun one-handed.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Friday, February 5, 2010

February 5, 2010

Platoon (1986)
#18 on my Top 100 List
As far as Vietnam War movies go, this is not the hardest to watch, but it's definitely up there. The village scene alone is brutal - it doesn't shy away from showing some of the more horrific things that soldiers were capable of during that conflict. This might also be the one and only time that Willem Dafoe doesn't look at all creepy. There are bit parts by Forest Whitaker and Johnny Depp, an impressive starring turn by Charlie Sheen and a seriously-disturbing performance by Tom Berenger as the sadistic Sgt. Barnes. Oliver Stone does a very good job of making Vietnam seem a lot like hell, especially during firefights, through a lot of confusing camera work and a lot of rainy shoots. The audience, just like the soldiers, never knows where the next shot is coming from.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

*Just one more day to go!*

February 4, 2010

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
#21 on my Top 100 List
On the surface, the premise of this movie sounds absolutely ridiculous - a short squashy alien is stranded on Earth and recruits a little boy to help him return home. But under Steven Spielberg, that story of ET and Elliot has become one of the most endearing and moving stories of all time. The scene of the two of them biking through the air and crossing the moon has become one of the most iconic scenes in all of film history. It seems awfully far-fetched that ET could make an intergalactic transmitter out of an umbrella, a record player and a saw blade, but Spielberg makes me believe. The man with the keys is appropriately sinister (though the scene where the astronauts break into Elliot's house is really strange) and the end is heartbreaking.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Thursday, February 4, 2010

February 3, 2010

Titanic (1997)
#25 on my Top 100 List
I am not going to comment on the box office war between this and Avatar except for one statement: this movie was made 13 years ago and if you want to talk box office totals, then it is not fair to do so without inflating the ticket prices from 1997 to 2010 prices. Plus, I would rather watch Kate and Leo (who are adorable, especially knowing that they're still best friends) than 10-foot tall blue aliens any day. I have a special place in my heart for this movie, because this is what made me want to become a filmmaker. It was big and explosive and moving, it was a technical wonder (they built a 40-foot model of a ship just to blow it apart in a giant tank of water!), and the love story between Jack and Rose is one that will be remembered for a very long time. The costuming is fantastic, especially Rose's myriad gowns, and I have yet to find even a tiny difference between the art direction on the film and pictures of the real Titanic. The sunset kiss on the bow that fades into the ghostly undersea ruins gives me chills and even though I have seen this probably a dozen times, I still cry when the band plays on and at the very end when Rose returns to the grand staircase. And though I feel bad every time, I can't help but laugh at the propeller guy.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 2, 2010

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2009)
Happy Oscar Nominations day! (Also Groundhog Day and Lost-premiere day, but I care far less about those two than the nominations. Though Lost was fantastic.) This movie is a total mind-frak. Every scene inside the Imaginarium (which is some sort of magic contraption where your fantasies come to life) looks like if the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" had been made into a film. The most amazing thing to me was the fact that they made Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell (three very attractive guys who don't really look that much alike) all look creepily like Heath Ledger (who, of course, died during filming and needed stand-ins for the movie to be finished). There are a couple of unnecessary sideplots, but this movie is all about the visuals, the magic, and Heath.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Monday, February 1, 2010

February 1, 2010

Schindler's List (1993)
#100 on my Top 100 List
In a lot of ways, this is one of the hardest movies to watch. At the same time, though, the end makes it one of the most moving. Oskar Schindler is kind of a smug bastard throughout the whole film, but his humanity becomes more and more obvious as his workers become more than just workers to him. I greatly respect black and white films when they're well-done - this one uses it to emphasize the bleakness of the subject, Good Night, and Good Luck. uses it for ambiance, and Ed Wood uses it to mirror the ridiculousness of the man it profiles. None of the gut-wrenching scenes in this movie are gratuitous. Seeing the Nazis repossessing the personal effects of the Warsaw Jews, even photographs, is a wake-up call at the beginning, while seeing ash from the furnaces over the city just like snow illustrates how commonplace the horrible events became. Ralph Fiennes is chilling as the villain (no wonder he plays such a good Voldemort) and though I'm not sure what I think she was meant to represent, I would be remiss not to mention the little girl in the red dress. Interpret her how you will.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

January 31, 2010

Independence Day (1996)
#43 on my Top 100 List
Roland Emmerich started out so promising! There is some great destruction going on in this movie, though you all know how much it pains me to see LA destroyed, even if it isn't real. It's also odd and a little difficult to see shots of the Twin Towers in Manhattan just before the alien spaceship takes out the city. Bill Pullman's President Whitmore is one of the great fictional presidents, even if he's not quite as good as The West Wing's President Bartlett or Battlestar Galactica's President Roslin (who, coincidentally, here plays the First Lady). This also somehow doesn't come across as an unrealistic alien story. Seeing mankind banding together across the globe to take out the alien threat is moving, especially after President Whitmore's motivational speech. Judd Hirsch and Harry Connick, Jr. are notable in supporting roles and Jeff Goldblum gives a great homage to his Jurassic Park character by recycling one of Ian Malcolm's one-liners. And every time I see Adam Baldwin with a gun, I can't help but wonder if he calls it Vera.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars