Sunday, February 27, 2011

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Netflix DVD with Lauren on 2/27/11
This is really interesting, considering that the main character of the film is still a huge mystery. No one knows what Banksy looks like or sounds like, and though he appears on the film, he's in complete shadow and speaks through a vocoder. The film itself is really interesting, mostly because I've never given much thought to graffiti as an artform. It's short, but there's a nicely-wrapped mystery in those 80 minutes. Happy Oscar Day everyone!
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 9

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Romantics (2010)

Netflix DVD on 2/22/11
This has the same vibe as The Big Chill, the only difference being that these characters are 10 years younger. The acting is pretty lackluster but I think that's the fault of the story - no one really seems to have much to do. There's a lot of carousing in the ocean and walking along the lawn. Not a lot of action. Dianna Argon holds her own in a cast of pretty big names, but she doesn't have much to do. The characters are too superficial to be sympathetic and the ending is far too ambiguous.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 8

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Barney's Version (2010)

Cinemagic Grand on 2/22/11
In writing, it's fun to play with the idea of an unreliable narrator. Writing is intimate enough with the characters that, if done well, an unreliable or biased narrator can make a story even more interesting. In film, it doesn't work quite as well. The audience does not get nearly as close to the characters as a reader would. That means that halfway through the film, there has to be a reveal that the POV character cannot be trusted, which more often than not comes off as a betrayal to the audience. Not endearing at all. The Informant! was terrible with that, as is this film. Of course, I probably should have expected that, given the film's title. This is truly what Barney would say about his life. It's just not how I want to watch a film. Also it's a tease to mention a murder in the first ten minutes and then not do anything with it until an hour and fifteen minutes later.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 7

Blue Valentine (2010)

Saco Cinemagic with Sheila on 2/21/11
This film is absolutely brutal to watch. Neither Ryan Gosling nor Michelle Williams are my favorite actors, but they both have such raw hopelessness in this film that it's hard not to be heartbroken as they fall apart. The flashback scenes don't feel out of place or jarring within the story. It doesn't hold any punches, showing domestic abuse, abortion procedures, fairly graphic sex (there's a reason this was originally rated NC-17) and occasionally violence. I'm glad that I saw it, but I never need to see it again. Also, who thought a spinning bed was a good idea?
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 6

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Am Love (2010)

Netflix DVD over 2/19/11 and 2/20/11
Drama abounds! A wealthy Italian family has secrets all over the place, between secret lesbian affairs abroad, extra-marital affairs with much younger men, and a mother-in-law who seems to be everywhere for no apparent reason. It's never made clear who's sleeping with who (except for Tilda Swinton and the chef) and let's be honest - Tilda Swinton is just weird. I can never get past how odd she is. And there is nothing effective enough about this movie to compensate for that.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 5

Thursday, February 17, 2011

No Strings Attached (2011)

Cinemagic Grand with Emica on 2/16/11
This is a pretty traditional romantic comedy, but it's cute and endearing because of the two leads. Ashton Kutcher seems to have finally shed his goofy man/boy persona and carries this role very well. And Natalie Portman is wonderful, of course. The movie is centered around the question of, can two best friends have sex just for sex and go back to being best friends after the sex is gone? Unfortunately from a writing standpoint, the question is negated over the course of the story and never really gets answered. And honestly, I don't know the answer either.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 4

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Wolfman (2010)

Netflix DVD over 2/13/11 and 2/15/11
Well, if you people feel that it's absolutely necessary to remake the classic Universal monster movies, at least with this one you avoided the CGI Werewolf Trap. (For examples of the CGI Werewolf Trap, see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or New Moon.) While I am against remaking these films (I'm pretending that the impending remake of Creature From the Black Lagoon is an elaborate lie), the design of the werewolf in this film is nearly identical to the original Lon Chaney, Jr. design. He looks like a man who's sprouted wolf hair and fangs - not some bad amalgamation of human and canine. Honestly, this movie was much better than I was expecting. Geraldine Chaplin is great as the Gypsy woman (I'm surprised she's still alive). I doubt, though, that Emily Blunt could run through the woods like that in that dress - stays are killer.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 3

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Movie Night with Adam, Anna, Mike, Kat and Sadie on 2/13/11
The blend of animation and live action isn't perfect, but for 1988, it's pretty darn good. This has a Dick Tracy feel - a highly-stylized version of the 1950s private detective era complete with authentic fashion design alongside magical streetcars that go everywhere in the LA basin. Loved the mention of the Brooklyn Dodgers (who, in 1958, became the Los Angeles Dodgers and broke the hearts of most of their fanbase). I also loved the early appearance of Dumbo and the brooms from Fantasia (listen closely - the saxophonist is playing "Sorcerer's Apprentice"). Disney was one of the contributing production companies, though they're uncredited, hence the appearance of several famous characters. As for the titular character, Roger's incredibly annoying, but tolerable. Christopher Lloyd is delightfully evil.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 2

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Country Strong (2010)

Cinemagic Grand with Susan on 2/9/11
This was a lot heavier than I was expecting. The trailers and promo campaign make it out to be a story of redemption, but it's clear pretty early on that it's a story of attempted redemption that doesn't quite succeed. Gwyneth Paltrow is fantastic and I was surprised that I didn't hate Leighton Meester. She successfully avoided the All About Eve vibe. A good movie, well worth seeing, but will not leave you in a good mood.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 1

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another Year Down!

199 movies in one year! That's what, a little over one every two days? Too bad I wasn't paying more attention - I could have made it an even 200.

My friend Jeb from high school had a theory that if I watched a new movie every day for 60 years, I could see every movie ever made. I think for the NEXT year (February 7, 2011 - February 6, 2012) I'm only going to blog about movies that I see for the first time. So here we go - let's see how many new movies I watch in a year!

Enjoy :-)


199. February 6, 2011 - Mystic River (2003)

This is a very powerful movie that, in a less epic year, would have been a shoo-in for Best Picture. It had the misfortune of being up against Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, which was really all three Lord of the Rings films being honored, but it held its own. I find the score very haunting, especially because it's used so sparingly. It's also disorienting every time I see the Tobin Bridge in the background of a shot, since it's opposite the way I usually look at the Tobin. I love Brian Helgeland, since he's the one who wrote LA Confidential, and now that I'm actually reading Mystic River, I appreciate him even more. It's a very faithful but not stifling adaptation. The only bad thing I can say, I think, is how bad Laura Linney's Boston accent is. If you can't fake an accent, don't even try.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

198. February 5/6, 2011 - Dogtooth (2010)

Um, creepy. That's the only way I can describe this. Creepy and confusing. It's a family drama about two sisters and a brother who live entirely isolated on their family's ranch/compound and make up twisted competitions like who can hold their hand under scalding water the longest. From there it devolves into a creepy incest story where the two girls perform oral sex on each other and the older sister is pimped out by her father to satisfy her brother's sexual needs. She then knocks out her own tooth (they aren't ready to leave home until their "dogtooth" falls out, hence the title) and runs away. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film...why?
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

197. February 5, 2011 - Easy A (2010)

I have a feeling that this movie is going to be a lot like Clueless - I can watch it over and over and it will still be funny. C'mon - dancing around the room to "Pocketful of Sunshine"? I also like that it's self-aware - it's paying homage to John Hughes movies, though Olive admits that John Hughes unfortunately did not direct her life. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are fantastic.

Original entry here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

196. February 2, 2011 - Salt (2010)

This one faithfully follows the International Espionage Thriller Formula: assassination plots, Russian spies, shady pasts, double agents, triple agents, magical disappearing accents, and unresolved open-for-sequels ending. Angelina Jolie doesn't really sell me as a CIA agent, and I'm pretty sure that dying her hair black doesn't disguise her nearly as well as she thinks it does, but it's a decent thriller. Lots of chases and jumping from impossibly high surfaces.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

195. February 2, 2011 - All About Steve (2009)

Not only is this painful to watch, but it also makes it look like any single, shy woman is one half-step away from being a crazy, desperate stalker. Sandra Bullock, why? I know Bradley Cooper's hot, but really, it was one date (including the most awkward quasi-sex scene I've ever seen and yes, that includes Ben and Brynn from Big Love and James McAvoy and Kerry Condon from The Last Station) and it didn't go so well. Even in the end, when she becomes the accidental hero (of course), she's still not likeable. Or sympathetic. In a romantic comedy, the audience has to at least not hate the female lead. Otherwise, the movie falls flat, just like this.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

194. January 31, 2011 - Rabbit Hole (2010)

This reminded me of 21 Grams, just less soul-crushing. In fact, by the end it's sort of hopeful in a weird way. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart are impressive in the way they portray parents dealing with the death of their child in very different ways. I felt that all the stuff with the extended family (overbearing mother and pregnant sister) was unnecessary and cluttering, but Dianne Wiest was believable as the borderline alcoholic mother who can't deal with the death of her own son, let alone her grandson. Nicole Kidman is solid, but no one is going to win Best Actress over Natalie Portman for Black Swan.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars