Tuesday, July 27, 2010

98. July 26, 2010 - Winter's Bone (2010)

This is a very dark story. The main character, a 17-year-old girl named Ree, has to care for her two young siblings as well as her catatonic mother as the government tries to take away her tiny shack and her extended family tries to kill her. It's shot in a bluish hue, even during day scenes, which makes the whole story feel hopeless and a little bit stifling. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as Ree and the film blends the poverty of Where the Red Fern Grows (hey, they both take place in the Ozarks, okay?) with the despair of last year's Frozen River. Not a happy film, but a very good one.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Saturday, July 24, 2010

97. July 23/24, 2010 - A Single Man (2009)

This is such a beautiful film. When a director comes from another medium, sometimes the results are iffy. For instance, Julian Schnabel was a painter before he made The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Pretty, yes. Interesting enough story to sit through two hours, no. Tom Ford is a fashion designer, yet here he was able to use translate his sense of aesthetics into flowing camera work and creative use of color and haunting images that last well beyond the end of the movie. The fact that Matthew Goode and Colin Firth are attractive (yes, even with horn-rimmed glasses for the latter) only enhances the overall look.

My first entry, back during awards season, is here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

96. July 22/23, 2010 - The Burning Plain (2008)

This is a very confusing movie. Though, of course, I shouldn't be surprised, since it was written and directed by the same guy who wrote Babel - one of the most convoluted and confusing movies of the last few years. He plays with time and story structure the same way here - there are four different stories going on, which sort of overlap time-wise, but it's not at all clear how they relate to each other or even what the hell they have to do with each other until half-way through. I get wanting to play with conventional linear story-telling, but if the audience doesn't know what's going on at all, they won't care.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

95. July 19, 2010 - Clueless (1995)

I will never, ever get tired of this movie. When I got home from Despicable Me last night, I was all set to watch one of the TV shows that I'd borrowed (Gilmore Girls or The Wire, depending on my mood), but then EW.com informed me that it was the 15th anniversary of the day that this movie was released. Of course I had to watch it. I love how dated it is, I love how it makes me want to live in Los Angeles again (one more month!) and most of all, I love the Clueless Fountain. Plus, I watched a 10-minute montage on YouTube last week of the 100 best movie insults and guess what was missing? That's right - "You're a virgin who can't drive." Travesty.

Here are links to my first and second entries for this.

Monday, July 19, 2010

94. July 19, 2010 - Despicable Me (2010)

Though not as good or touching as Toy Story 3, this is still an amusing and solid animated summer movie. The voice cast is great - Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Dame Julie Andrews, and Will Arnett standing out the most - and the character design of the three kids is adorable. There are great allusions to The Godfather, Apollo 13 and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to keep adults paying attention (ha - the Barbie head in the bed!) and a nice tongue-in-cheek jab at Lehmen Brothers. Fun for an hour and a half on a hot day.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Saturday, July 17, 2010

93. July 12/15, 2010 - RV (2006)

I'm still blaming all these bad movies that got to the top of my queue on the mono. Plus, I've been pretty lax about keeping track of what I have coming next. Anyway, I saw this come in the mail, let it sit on my desk for a week, and finally decided that I needed to watch it or just send it back. It turned out to not be as wretched as I was expecting, though it's certainly not fine cinema either. I laughed once or twice. That's about it. Everyone remember when Robin Williams made good movies?
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Monday, July 12, 2010

92. July 11/12, 2010 - A Man For All Seasons (1966)

I am totally striking out with the Best Picture winners from the 1960s. I can't stand The Sound of Music, it took me months to finally get through Oliver!, I was disappointed by Midnight Cowboy, and I can't stand to get more than 10 minutes into West Side Story (which is now the only one of the decade that I have yet to see). This movie, unfortunately, is boring. King Henry VIII wants to divorce Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn (we all know how THAT turns out) and everyone is fighting over it. It's a sin, it's not a sin, it's treason, sign this oath, throw him in the tower, blah blah blah. Sounds like it should be exciting, though. Too bad it's not.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

91. July 10, 2010 - Eclipse (2010)

I am a good friend, which means I will watch this a third time with someone who hasn't seen it. It's interesting, actually, because I notice new things each time. For instance, I have finished the book again since I saw this the first two times, and most of the cringeworthy dialogue in the film is actually word for word from the text. It's also incredibly obvious that the film's composer was Howard Shore - parts of the score sound identical to Lord of the Rings. I continue to be very impressed with Dakota Fanning as a vampire and Catalina Sandino Moreno as Maria is fantastic. I wish we could have seen more of her. Usually I don't like recasts, but Bryce Dallas Howard is actually closer to how Victoria is described in the book, so I guess I can't complain all that much.

First and second entries are here and here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

90. July 8/9, 2010 - Team America: World Police (2004)

First and foremost, this movie entirely features marionettes. With all of the puppetry done by hand. It almost doesn't matter how good or bad the film is - I was sold then and there. Of course, I also discovered that the movie is pretty hysterical. I honestly don't think that the goal was to deliver a political message one way or the other. It's just supposed to be funny and make some well-aimed jabs at certain people or institutions along the way. The Matt Damon doll made it into my paper on how those with special needs are represented in our popular culture, too. The unrated version doesn't include anything extra except a few disturbing additions to the puppet sex scene. Yes - two anatomically-INcorrect marionettes do in fact go at it. For a long time. You have been warned.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Saturday, July 10, 2010

89. July 8, 2010 - Toy Story 3 (2010)

I think that a lot of movies for children rely on emotional manipulation to make themselves more relatable to the adults who inevitably have to accompany their kids. This one doesn't need to do that, which I think is a sign of a great film. This is, by far, my favorite of the Toy Story's. It brings to the front the issue and sad reality that things don't last forever - except things molded in plastic. Andy, the child at the forefront of the first two films, is no longer a child and is going off to college. What, then, is to happen to his childhood toys? Prepare to cry - anyone who has ever had to leave any part of their life behind will be able to relate. Critics were right who said that this is the best movie of the summer so far.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

88. July 7, 2010 - Toy Story 2 (1999)

I should start by reminding you all that despite my best efforts, I just don't really like Toy Story the first. I also don't like stories that rely on their characters being in Sudden Imminent Danger to drive the plot. BUT, I really liked this movie somehow. Maybe it was because it flipped the Woody/Buzz relationship from the first one and made it Buzz who was looking out for his friend. Or maybe it was because of the character of Jessie, whose memories of her former owner (set to the Best Song nominee "When She Loved Me") makes me cry. Regardless, I felt that I needed to see this before I saw Toy Story 3, which has been getting the best reviews of anything this summer.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

87. July 5, 2010 - Signs (2002)

I hold firm in my theory that this is M. Night Shamylan's last good film. Though I haven't seen The Last Airbender yet, early reviews have not been encouraging. What happened to him? The Village had real potential until he pulled the trigger on the twist WAY too early - a whole hour of Bryce Dallas Howard running blind through the woods isn't interesting. But here, excepting of course the terrible ending, the story is good. He should be allowed to write stories, just not scripts (though Joaquin Phoenix is funny as he runs around his house shouting "I'm gonna beat your ass, bitch!").

My first thoughts on this one are here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

86. June 30, 2010 - Eclipse (2010)

Just like Iron Man 2, I went at midnight and again the next day. Different people each time, though. I think this might be my favorite of the books, mostly because I really love the other Cullens way more than Bella, Edward and Jacob. Here we get to hear why Rosalie is so bitter, we get to see Jasper's life story (complete with Catalina Sandino Moreno as his maker Maria), and we get to see all the Cullens get badass in the newborn fight. I find the six of them to be far more interesting characters than the main trio.

The first entry is right before this one.

85. June 29, 2010 - Eclipse (2010)

I tried to watch New Moon too, but I ran out of time. Oh well. The midnight showings of these movies really are fun spectacles. The crowd cheers when the lights go down. They cheer when the title comes up. They cheer (a lot) when Jacob shows up for the first time without a shirt on. And they clap when it's over. This was definitely be most well-made Twilight movie so far and I'll say that the fight scene was actually really cool (which is good, since this is really the only fight scene in the whole series. The anticlimactic end of Breaking Dawn doesn't count). I was disappointed in Melissa Rosenberg, though, for her cop-out use of voiceover. In the first film, the voiceover served as Bella's inner monologue - it was clear that she was talking to herself. In this, it seems like she's talking to the audience to make sure that all vital information gets relayed and nobody misses anything. Sloppy writing.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

84. June 28, 2010 - Twilight (2008)

Yeah, yeah, I know. It's not a great movie and they're certainly not great books, but I can't help really liking it. That being said, this is in no way an accurate or even flattering representation of teenage love. The important thing to remember with these books/movies is that they're fantasy. Everything about them is heightened and dramatized for effect and to fit in with the genre. Bella and Edward stare at each other smolderingly but that's because they are ultimate star-crossed lovers. Buffy and Angel used to stare at each other that way too, but you never saw teenage fangirls proclaiming that they wanted to be just like them. Don't aspire to be like Bella Swan - just enjoy the movie.

My original entry is here.

83. June 27/28, 2010 - The Boys Are Back (2009)

Clive Owen is very pretty, but this movie is boring. He plays the struggling single father to two sons as an odd blend of sensitive and completely uncaring. The younger boy, Artie, is not adorable in his oddness - he's annoying. The older boy, Harry, has no character arc other than throwing plates around the kitchen and crying for no discernible reason. When a crowd of unruly teenagers show up to take over the house for a party, how exactly do they get in? Do they break down the doors? Smash the windows? It's never clear, but the implication is that they do so against Harry's will. Since the house appears to be intact, I assume he let them in. Not so much against his will then, is it?
My Netflix rating: 2 stars