Sunday, May 30, 2010

68. May 29, 2010 - Sherlock Holmes (2009)

This is just as good watching it a second time and almost as effective when watched on DVD as in the theaters (since, let's be honest, nothing is as effective as seeing a great action movie on a giant screen). I am still solidly behind the casting of Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson and I'm excited that they have announced a release date for the sequel (December 16, 2011). My favorite scene is still that Holmes takes the time at the end to break down his enemy's "mystical" plans, showing that while this version of Holmes sometimes strips down and boxes to release stress, he's still a logistical genius. Mark Strong's Lord Blackwood never stood a chance.

My first thoughts on this one are here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

67. May 29, 2010 - Pocahontas (1995)

Okay, I know that as far as Disney movies falsifying history goes, this one is one of the worst offenders. I can't help it - I like it anyway. The veracity of the story that Pocahontas truly did throw herself over John Smith as he was about to be executed has been argued endlessly for hundreds of years and will probably never be settled one way or the other. I tend to think that it's been at least exaggerated over the centuries, since most of those outrageous stories have been. Either way, this is definitely part of the Disney second golden age that started with The Little Mermaid - the animation is beautiful and the songs are catchy and touching (the Academy agrees with me on that point). Plus David Ogden Stiers is the voice of the villain and I adore him as a voice.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

66. May 29, 2010 - Adaptation (2002)

This is a truly weird movie. I should expect nothing less from Charlie Kaufman, but he still manages to surprise me with how far out there he goes. Normally, there isn't much of a story about a writer's process - all the great movies that have that as a plot point (Barton Fink, The Shining, Secret Window, etc.) have other elements to fill in the boring parts. Writers, after all, spend a lot of time staring at a blank computer screen. This movie actually takes the paralyzing nature of writer's block and applies it to the story. There's other stuff, of course, like affairs, poaching and drug use, and the ever-present danger of being mauled in the swamp by an alligator (also, the mysterious twin brother?) but the story is actually about the story. When the script is finished, the audience feels as much relief as the writer.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Friday, May 28, 2010

65. May 28, 2010 - The Baby Sitter's Club (1995)

There had to be a reason that I put this on my Netflix queue, right? I'm blaming the mono for letting it get to the top without my realizing. I probably watched this when it first came out - I will admit that I adored these books as a child - but I doubt I liked it then either. The casting is bad, the acting is worse, the story is weak and there is no way that a parent would let their 13-year-old daughter date a 17-year old in the mid-90s. I don't care if he is Swedish and has an accent. Let this movie die a quiet death.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Thursday, May 27, 2010

64. May 27, 2010 - Top Gun (1986)

The great thing about film is that regardless of how strung out or physically far-gone or crazy an actor becomes, you always have the work that they did when they were at the prime. Tom Cruise has real range in this. He's a cocky playboy, he's a serious daredevil fighter pilot, he's a man in love, he's a heartbroken friend - and he's believable as all of them. Meg Ryan makes a great guest appearance and Val Kilmer is suitably hateable as a rival pilot. Blink and you'll miss Adrian Pasdar from Heroes in a tiny role as a fellow pilot.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

63. May 25/27, 2010 - Empire Records (1995)

I think this is another movie that I missed by watching too late in life. I do appreciate the hijinks that ensue over the course of one out of the ordinary day at a small independent record store (I have had several jobs where my co-workers and I had spectacular days similar to, though not as outrageous as, the one in the movie) and I think that the movie has funny moments. That being said, my go-to teen movies on the 90s are always going to be Clueless and Can't Hardly Wait. Also, I have never seen any workplace where the employees' area was as nice as that.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

62. May 24/25, 2010 - Dan in Real Life (2007)

Well, I've been diagnosed with mono, so I think I'll probably be watching a lot of movies in the next week or so, but the entries may be a little slower coming. It's hard to get up the energy to write them. Anyway, this movie was okay - entertaining, but also really sad in some spots. And honestly, I am all for creating realistic characters, but very realistic teenage girl characters are not endearing - they're annoying. Or, at least these two are. Seriously, "You're a murderer of love"?? And whining and moping for two days because you weren't allowed to drive on the highway? Shut up, girls.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Sunday, May 23, 2010

61. May 22, 2010 - Vertigo (1958)

This is one of Hitchcock's most well-known films and also has one of the strangest plots. It all makes sense in the end, but to get there, the audience has to sort through disturbed dead relatives, mistaken identities, possible possessions and obsessions. Kim Novak is great as the disturbed wife and the stranger who looks like her, though if she's supposed to be the great-granddaughter of someone named Carlotta Valdez, they have wanted to go with someone not so platinum blonde. I really love the vertigo camera trick that makes the alley or the bottom of the stairwell look like it just dropped another fifty feet. Poor Jimmy Stewart - that would freak anyone out!
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Monday, May 17, 2010

60. May 10/16, 2010 - Gattaca (1997)

First of all, I love the title of this film. I think that it's clever to find a string in the human genome that forms something close to a word and then name the company after it. Most of the plot is based on the idea that Ethan Hawke and Jude Law look enough alike to pass for the same person, which I don't totally buy, but the lengths at which they go to sell the deception are pretty cool to watch. Though it was made nearly 15 years ago, the slightly-futuristic feel is still intact - it doesn't feel dated. And is that the same beach that was made so famous 50 years ago by From Here to Eternity?
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Thursday, May 13, 2010

59. May 12, 2010 - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

It's not quite fair to say that I like all Swedish cinema, since I have not seen much. All of the Swedish movies I have seen, though, I have really liked. This movie was filmed beautifully and doesn't shy at all away from the dark nature of the book on which it's based. There are several scenes (both rape scenes and the graphic glimpses of the cold case murders especially) that would need to be sanitized and drastically edited to be included in a Hollywood film. David Fincher is set to direct the American version of this, and while I love him and most of his work, I'm not sure that a story that needs to be this dark and gritty will get its due justice as a mainstream film. Hopefully I'm wrong! The performances in this were flawless, especially Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. I eagerly look forward to the American release of the second two films in this trilogy, set to be released in the US this fall.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

58. May 5/12, 2010 - Mrs. Harris (2005)

The most interesting thing about this movie is the number of people who show up for bit parts or cameos. Lisa Edelstein, Chloe Sevigny, Cristine Rose, Mary McDonnell, Ellen Burstyn and Cloris Leachman all show up at some point or another, but their presence is the only thing that makes this worth watching. It's hobbled together from pieces in three different narrative forms, but flashbacks, documentary-style interviews and melodrama do not mix well. The story is choppy and confusing, with none of the suspense and intrigue that it could have had.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

57. May 10, 2010 - Leap Year (2010)

Some movies just make you happy. Love Actually certainly is one, as is Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You and even 50 First Dates. This movie definitely has ups and downs but the final scene on the bluffs is heartwarming and so incredibly cute. Of course, it helps that it stars Matthew Goode (whom you know I love) and Amy Adams (who is adorable). I also like that it doesn't completely follow the rom-com formula. Audiences are thrown a tiny curveball. Ireland's beautiful green hillside as a backdrop certainly doesn't hurt the movie's charm either.

My first entry about this one is here.

56. May 8, 2010 - Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

Remember back when no one knew who Colin Firth was except for a handful of Jane Austen fans who saw him in Pride and Prejudice as done by the BBC? He shines in this, more than holding his own against Hugh Grant as the delightful jackass Daniel Cleaver and Renee Zellweger, who was nominated for an Oscar for her turn as the titular role. Bridget Jones is a heroine that most women can relate to - she's not perfect. She sleeps with the wrong man, she has things about herself that she doesn't like, and she doesn't hold back from showing audiences her most mundane daily decisions. Particularly funny is the her pre-date dilemma - sexy underwear or unsexy underwear that will more likely lead to them being seen anyway? This book was in some ways the birth of chick-lit, but never does it feel trite or mindlessly fluffy like many of its followers.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Saturday, May 8, 2010

55. May 4/8, 2010 - The Great Dictator (1940)

Wow. Charlie Chaplin was gutsy to release this movie right at the height of Hitler's power in Europe. As a story, there isn't really much special or new. That's not what makes this film memorable. It was Chaplin's first real sound film, his most popular film with audiences (even though now his best work is usually considered something like Modern Times or The Gold Rush), and come on - he made fun of Hitler! In a major film! Like I said - gutsy.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

54. May 7, 2010 - Iron Man 2 (2010)

Yes, again. Just as good the second time around, though I'm not sure that I made it clear enough in my first entry how truly badass and awesome War Machine is. The scene in the weird inside park where he and Iron Man fight off the Hammer Drones back to back is seriously kick-ass. And okay, I'll admit it, Scarlett Johansson is also awesome as Black Widow. I was really wary of it when they cast her, but that scene in Hammer's headquarters is great. I'm glad that they brought back the visual effect used in the first Iron Man where they show the interior of the Iron Man helmet with the displays superimposed over Tony's face. Here they expand it to show Rhodey in his suit and Whiplash in his as well. Something about that is really effective for me.

It seems a little ridiculous, since it was literally the last entry, but here's a link to it anyway.

Friday, May 7, 2010

53. May 6, 2010 - Iron Man 2 (2010)

This entry might be a little spoilerish. You have been warned!

I suppose this was technically the 7th, since it was a midnight showing. This one definitely has a different feel than the first - it is loud and over-the-top and holds nothing back, much like Tony Stark now does since the whole world knows his secret and the device that keeps him alive is also slowly killing him. You'd have issues too, if that was pressing on your mind all the time. Mickey Rourke is absolutely perfect as bad-guy Whiplash and I suppose Sam Rockwell is perfect as Justin Hammer, since usually I like him and I really wanted to punch Hammer in the face every second he was onscreen. I agree with the one review I read that the birthday party scene was unnecessary, though the ensuing scuffle between Iron Man and War Machine is awesome. War Machine in general is awesome - I really appreciate the subtle differences in his suit compared to Tony's. Also, the banter between them mid-battle is pretty hilarious. Terrance Howard may have been a good Rhodey, but Don Cheadle is a fantastic War Machine. Stay tuned, of course, for the stinger after the credits. It's important.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

52. May 6, 2010 - Iron Man (2008)

My local movie theater was kind enough to show this movie on the big screen last night prior to the midnight screening of Iron Man 2, and I can't pass that sort of thing up. This movie is still as fabulous as ever, with Robert Downey, Jr. perfect as Tony Stark (that hammering scene!) and now Academy Award-winner Jeff Bridges creepy and sinister as Iron Monger. While I liked Terrance Howard as Rhodey, I always thought that he would be a little too soft to play War Machine. How did the second fare when viewed right after the first? Check out my next entry to find out!

My original love for this movie can be found here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

51. May 4/5, 2010 - Ghost Rig (2001)

So, this movie had a budget of, like, five dollars, right? That's the only way anyone could have approved of production quality so low. I was heartened to see that at least Jamie Bamber made this before Battlestar Galactica - if he had made it after, what a sad statement that would have been. It's about a bunch of people (activists, according to the Netflix description - what exactly were they activists for?) who board an abandoned oil rig, only to have an invisible demon possess each one for awhile, kill him, then jump ahead to the next one. I'm pretty sure there was an Angel episode like that. The Angel episode was better.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Monday, May 3, 2010

50. May 3, 2010 - The Aristocats (1970)

Disney movies are great in that, for the most part, I can watch them over and over again. They make me smile more when I'm happy or cheer me up when I'm down. This was before being a "Disney voice" was a big thing, yet Eva Gabor and Scatman Crothers both voice important characters here. The scene where the kittens wake up abandoned by a stream in the French countryside is more disturbing than normal for Disney, but then Phil Harris-voiced Thomas O'Malley shows up and makes it all better. The film's jazzy song "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat" will get stuck in your head for days.

My first review is here.

49. May 2/3, 2010 - Soldier's Girl (2003)

This is a really moving and upsetting story. It's fairly graphic, both sexually and violently, for a made-for-TV movie, but it was aired by Showtime (and they show Dexter, so I suppose this was tame for them). The story drags in the middle - it seems that it was intended to establish the strained relationship between Barry and the rest of his infantry unit, but the heart of the story is the relationship between Barry and Callie. The tension within the unit is obvious. You don't need to spend so much time on it. The scene with Callie in her living room towards the end is heartbreaking.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Sunday, May 2, 2010

48. April 29/May 1, 2010 - Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

I meant not to spread movies out over two days that fall in different months, because I don't really like the way it looks in the entry title, but oh well. This is really the only non-comedic role that I've seen Will Farrell in, and despite the popular opinion that he carries this film, I wasn't too impressed. Granted, I don't think that movies like Talladega Nights are very good, but at least in those kinds of roles, he has life in him. Here he plays Harold Crick like a zombie - even when he learns that his imaginary narrator is going to kill him off, he doesn't do much more than blink and say, "Oh no." Give us a reaction, Will! The supporting cast is okay, though Queen Latifah's character feels unnecessary and Emma Thompson takes the disturbed writer character a little far. Tony Hale's brief appearance is great, though I find it hard to think of him as anyone other than Buster Bluth.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars