Friday, June 25, 2010

82. June 25, 2010 - Marty (1955)

Another Best Picture winner that I hadn't seen! It starts out well - the characters are nicely established and the conflict is not overstated or blatant - but as the story goes along, it devolves. Marty seems to regress in his character arc, not move forward along it, and comes dangerously close to "Matt Saracen doesn't leave Dillon because he feels guilty about Grandma" syndrome. Not until the last 60 seconds of the film does he win any kind of respect or warm feelings from the audience. The side plotline about the aunt also seems superfluous.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

81. June 23/24, 2010 - The Ugly Truth (2009)

I watched this even though I had heard that it was really bad and, happily, it was not as wretched as advertised. Katherine Heigl managed not to annoy me to the point of shutting it off (and actually made me laugh once or twice) and though Gerard Butler was sadly sans accent, he's still nice to look at. Their characters hate each other and hate to love each other and that's not really plausible the way that the story is set up, but my main argument is that, given that this is from the writing team that brought us Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You, it should have been so much better.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

80. June 21/22, 2010 - Downhill (1927)

I find silent films a little tedious, but normally I can make it through. This film is another of Hitchcock's incredible hard-to-find early offerings and though I found it to watch for free on the Internet Archive, the version they have includes no music. Truly silent. I'll admit, it was awfully hard to get through. I'm waiting for Hitchcock to hit his genre stride, which he hinted at with the dark material in The Lodger, but so far these are kind of fluff pieces. It's a sob story about a man whose life falls apart after he falsely takes the blame for a waitress's sudden pregnancy - mildly interesting to see how something like that (that seems like a manageable occurrence today) can totally destroy his life, but nothing other than that. The Netflix rating is hypothetical, since this film isn't available on DVD.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

79. June 21, 2010 - Valentine's Day (2010)

Love Actually this is definitely not, though I think that it's trying to be. The set-up is similar, with multiple characters and storylines, none of which really constitute an over-arcing plot of any kind but all of which revolve around the same theme. Love Actually used the Christmas season as a backdrop for the stories, but this movie uses Valentine's Day as the theme around which the stories center. But about two thirds of the way through, it seems that all of the stories are going downhill fast and that doesn't leave viewers with any sort of satisfaction in the film. Plus, the characters and the stories are not nearly as well-written as those in Love Actually. They're clunkier and the dialogue hovers dangerously close to on-the-nose. I will say, though, that some pieces of the end are touching.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Monday, June 21, 2010

78. June 20, 2010 - Year One (2009)

Well, I am very glad that I saw this movie because let me tell you - my Western Civ class sure left some stuff out! Apparently, cavemen were alive at the same time as Adam and Eve and were instrumental in Abel's murder. Also, Cain left his homeland to go join up with Roman slavers. And the people of Sodom sacrificed virgins to some dog-headed fire god. I'm so glad that I am up on my ancient history now! Seriously, Jack Black went from the genius of Tropic Thunder to this crap?
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Friday, June 18, 2010

77. June 17, 2010 - The Stepfather (2009)

Right off the bat this movie is ridiculous. The titular stepfather shaves his beard, takes out colored contacts and voila! No one will ever recognize him! It's like magic! When he finally moves in with his new family, only the oldest son suspects that he's an ax-murderer, who of course is just back from military school because of behavior problems, so no one believes his concerns, not even his girlfriend. Honestly, one would think that might put a strain on the relationship. Evil deeds ensue, but no one aside from a few tiny side characters actually die, thus sort of negating the thriller part of this thriller.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

76. June 16/17, 2010 - When in Rome (2010)

Kristen Bell is a good actress, so I'm not quite sure what she's doing here. She pulls five coins from a magical love fountain in Rome, only to make the five men who threw them there (Josh Duhamel, Dax Shepherd, Jon Heder, Will Arnett and Danny DeVito in one of his most miscast roles) fall in love with her. You would think that Jon Heder, Will Arnett and Dax Shepherd would at least be funny, but sadly that is not the case. In the end, everyone comes together to Learn Something Important About Life (except Dax Shepherd, who fits neatly into the movie stereotype that all male models are morons) and everyone lives happily ever after. Please.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

75. June 13/14, 2010 - Into the Arms of Strangers (2000)

As documentaries go, I found this to be pretty uninspired, creatively speaking. Anyone can film interviews and insert archival footage and photographs in between. The focus of the film is the Kindertransport - a program that sent Jewish children away from Nazi Germany to live with foster families in Allied nations and the stories themselves are moving, especially the woman who made it onto the transport train only to have her father pull her off and end up in a concentration camp. But boring filmmaking detracts from the overall power.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Saturday, June 12, 2010

74. June 11/12, 2010 - The Lodger (1927)

I've decided that I'm going to watch all of Alfred Hitchcock's films in chronological order. His first film, The Pleasure Garden, is nearly impossible to find on Region 1 DVD, but I found a website that condensed it down to 1,000 frames. If you watch them on slideshow, it's almost like watching the movie and since I had no other option, that had to do. His second film, The Mountain Eagle, has no surviving prints anywhere, so that one was out too. This, his third film, was really the one to make him famous. The story is inspired by the murders of Jack the Ripper, featuring a mysterious masked serial killer who kills blonde women in the fog of London nights. Though the surviving prints are grainy, dark and difficult to watch, it's definitely worth trying for Hitchcock fans!
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

73. June 7/11, 2010 - Leap Year (2010)

Yes, again. This is the first movie to appear in my blog three times. It's becoming one of my go-to warm and fuzzy movies, like Sweet Home Alabama or Enchanted. Laugh if you want, but many girls have a closeted love for adorable predictable love stories! Though I'm thinking that I should avoid repeating movies more than twice in the future, since I can't think of much else to say.

Here are links to entry #1 and entry #2.

Friday, June 11, 2010

72. June 8/9, 2010 - Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)

Most reviews of this movie were terrible and I don't remember exactly why I put it on my Netflix queue. It was not in fact terrible - just boring. It follows the formula like any good rom-com should, but the good ones throw in unique twists on the formula that make the movie memorable. There is nothing memorable here. Plus, I never for a minute buy Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant as a couple. No chemistry.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Monday, June 7, 2010

71. June 5, 2010 - Shrek Forever After (2010)

They should have let this series end on a good note with Shrek the Third. This latest installment drags and drags, beginning with our supposedly-happy ogre hating his new married-with-children life and making an ill-fated wish to Rumpelstiltskin that leads to his having never been born. Chaos ensues. The audience is left with a muddy alternate universe story that doesn't entertain. Instead, you just can't wait for things to return to the way they were, which of course, means the end of the movie.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Saturday, June 5, 2010

70. June 4, 2010 - Mean Girls (2004)

This movie is fantastic and hilarious, not because of Lindsey Lohan, but rather in spite of her. The reason that it works so well is that it was written (adapted from a non-fiction work on cliques and teenage girls) by Tina Fey, who is brilliant. She also co-stars in the film, along with a handful of other SNL alumni (the funniest of which is Amy Poehler as the ultimate plastic surgery mom). This may have been considered Lohan's breakout film, but if you look at the way her career has gone as compared to that of co-stars Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried, I think it's safe to say that this was the launch of several people. Plus, McAdams and Seyfried became stars despite playing a very unlikeable villain and one of the dumbest characters ever onscreen respectively.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Thursday, June 3, 2010

69. June 2/3, 2010 - Water (2005)

This is a fantastic film illustrating the oppression of widows in India during the height of Gandhi's popularity. Chuyia is seven when her husband dies, leaving her a widow forced to live in an ashram with dozens of older widows. The film is deceptive, at first seeming to be Chuyia's story, but quickly becoming a tragic love story between the widow Kulyani and one of Gandhi's followers, Narayan. It's deeply moving and teasing in the middle, hinting at an idyllic future for the two of them plus Chuyia, but that soon falls apart. There are some questions - most obvious of which being why is Kulyani allowed to have long hair while the other widows shave their heads - but the story doesn't suffer for them. I highly recommend it.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars