Monday, August 30, 2010

110. August 29, 2010 - The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

This is a solid adaptation of a classic novel that someday I swear I am going to read. I've been fascinated by the story since I was little (either since I read the Great Illustrated Classics edition or since I saw the Wishbone episode - I don't remember which) and even though this is quite a different ending than the book, I still like it. It has adventure and epic swordfights (that can lead to crop circles!) and, of course, the core revenge story. Guy Pearce is such a slimy bad guy - he's delightful. Richard Harris is also great in his bit part as a fellow inmate in the French prison, though that voice of his always makes me think of Dumbledore.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Sunday, August 29, 2010

109. August 28, 2010 - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

This movie is like Juno and Kill Bill's messed-up love child turned into a video game. Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who - fun fact - was the original Jessica Bennett on Passions) make an unbelievable couple at first, but the idea grows on you. The movie very easily could have fallen flat as nothing but a hipster movie aimed at graphic novel fanboys, but Edgar Wright takes it and makes it funny and delightful for a much wider audience. The visual effects aren't too over the top and the tongue-in-cheek banter with the audience that occurs outside the story makes for a very fun time.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Saturday, August 28, 2010

108. August 27/28, 2010 - My Stepmother is an Alien (1988)

Given my love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I just had to watch this movie eventually, since it features Willow and Oz (Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green) as a preteen couple. It's actually a decent movie too, other than the fact that Dan Aykroyd more or less recycles his bumbling scientist character from Ghostbusters four years previous. Also, the amount that his daughter knows about his sex life is disturbing. Kim Basinger isn't bad either, though her adjustment to playing human is annoying rather than funny.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

107. August 24, 2010 - The Women (2008)

So, this is supposed to be a film about female empowerment and the importance of friends, but it ends up being a two-hour long Hallmark card rife with cliches and contrived plotlines. There is nothing wrong with the performances - in fact, Bette Midler steals the whole film in her five or ten minutes onscreen and Cloris Leachman is great - but the movie never comes together. And really, throwing a banana on a NYC street? But a friend of mine is in it!
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

106. August 15, 2010 - Drag Me to Hell (2009)

On the surface, this looks like a cheesy, gore-filled slasher film. It's not. It's actually well-written, though the characters don't necessarily avoid all of the horror movie traps that they should. It is not without gore, and in fact there are some serious cringe-worthy moments that pop up out of nowhere. While it might be a little cliche to include a gypsy curse that haunts a main character (Angel, anyone?), it manages to put a nice spin on it. The ending is fabulous. I love that they went there.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

105. August 14, 2010 - Lake Placid (1999)

I will say it again - this is a great bad movie. The story is ridiculous, the writing is terrible, there are no fact checkers at all (Aroostook County is not a mile from the ocean, guys), and the special effects are laughable. Still. There's something about a giant crocodile living off moose and bears that happen to wander into his lake that's just fun. Also - Betty White!

My original entry, which was over a year ago, is here.

104. August 10, 2010 - The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Sorry I've been absent for so long - I'm driving from New England to Los Angeles, and this is the first time I've had the chance to sit down with my computer! This is another of those movies that teeters on the edge between drama and comedy and suffers a little bit for it. The performances were all amazing as advertised, but some of the storylines feel out of place or extraneous (especially the whole Jules/Paul thing). Also, who names their kid Laser? Really? Still, the performances were moving and the main story is good.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

103. August 6/9, 2010 - Alaska (1996)

I feel like I would have really liked this movie had I seen it when it first came out (and I was 12). It's a very family-friendly film complete with relateable leads (I do love Thora Birch from both American Beauty and Hocus Pocus), menacing bad guys (poachers), and adorable animals (a polar bear cub). Very solid family movie, just not one to be watched in your 20s without that nostalgic kick.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

102. August 9, 2010 - Inception (2010)

I feel like maybe I shouldn't write this entry on the same day as seeing the movie, because I'm not sure that I've totally processed it yet. Strictly from a writing standpoint, I can't even imagine how it must have been to try to keep the multiple layers of story going (up to four levels of dreamstates at some points, each with their own timelines and plots going on simultaneously). I do think that the characters and the audience's ability to sympathize with them suffer a bit for the sake of the concept that the story is based on, but it's still an engaging film. I'm still not sure how I interpret the ending, or even how I want to interpret it. Both options contribute to the story, just taking it in very different directions. And oh, how Leo still looks like he's 12!
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

101. August 7, 2010 - The Other Guys (2010)

If you go into this movie expecting fine cinema, then you are going to be disappointed (which I feel is probably true on 90% of movies out there). Just accept it for what it is - it's a lowbrow comedy full of cheap gags that, despite your better judgment, actually make you laugh. The supporting cast far outshines Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg (who really should just be shirtless all the time like he was in Date Night), especially Steve Coogan and Michael Keaton. Steve Coogan seems to be pretty spectacular in everything he does, doesn't he?
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Friday, August 6, 2010

100. August 3, 2010 - Wag the Dog (1997)

The timing of the release of this film was so perfect. The world was fascinated and disgusted by the Clinton/Lewinski scandal and some barely noticed when he started bombing Iraq - and then comes this movie about a president who is accused to improper behavior with a young girl (the two are even caught by a photographer in a hilarious homage to that shot of Clinton hugging Lewinski) and his team of spin doctors who create a fictional war with Albania to take the public's mind off it. I feel like it was completely underappreciated when it was released. I'm not a huge fan of Barry Levinson (though he was the subject of several questions at trivia the other night) but this movie is great.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

99. August 1, 2010 - Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

Somehow, I have made it 26 years old without having seen this movie until now. Once I got past the very odd speech pattern that Bill and Ted both have (and that took me awhile), I really enjoyed this. The special effects are definitely 80s bad, but those kinds of things are forgivable in stuff like this. No one is watching this film for the special effects. The roundabout timeline that the time traveling phone booth provides works in a quirky and goofy way and watching the historical figures trying to navigate the "real world" (as real as a mall in the 80s was) is pretty funny. If anyone gave a presentation like that in a class I was teaching, they would certainly get an A.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars