Wednesday, June 29, 2011

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

Netflix DVD on 6/28/11
I feel like this film should come with a warning - it's very graphic. I was not at all prepared to see a back alley abortion being performed on-camera in a hotel room OR to see everything wrapped in a bloody towel after. It's minimalist, as a lot of European cinema tends to be, and the story is very powerful. Other than seeing far more than I was prepared for, I found it very moving.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 55

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Living Goddess (2007)

Netflix DVD on 6/28/11
First of all, I'm surprised there was never any backlash about the handful of goats and cows they sacrifice onscreen by very graphically chopping their heads off (I understand that it's a part of religious/cultural ritual, but you know how extremist groups jump on anything and everything that they can...) This story is really frakked up. They seclude these young girls because they think that they are reincarnates of a Hindu goddess and spoil her to the point where she believes that she is entitled to things like her parents and siblings bowing before her and kissing her feet. This practice goes back thousands of years, apparently. And then, once the girl gets her period, she's not a goddess anymore. It's an odd religious blend, as the girl says, since she's a Buddhist who is the reincarnate of a Hindu goddess. The story is fascinating and disturbing at the same time.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 54

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

Movie Night with Adam, Justin, Kat, Mike, Anna and Sadie on 6/26/11
The best thing, by and large, about this film is the number of cameos and bit parts. You never know who's going to show up in the next scene! The plot of the movie is totally ridiculous, but in an awesome way that leaves you laughing but not rolling your eyes (for the most part). It's smart in that it's not too long, so the gags don't get old, and there is a little thread of continuity from the other Kevin Smith movies. It's not necessary to have watched the others first, though. Good times all around.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 53

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ajami (2009)

Netflix DVD over 6/24/11 and 6/25/11
I watched this because it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film a year or two ago - it's technically well-made, but it relies on a convoluted non-linear storyline that never becomes completely clear. It is never established how the characters know each other, nor how their stories are connected or any character's motives. It is supposed to combine characters of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths in the Ajami district, but if that's the goal, it does not put nearly enough emphasis on it.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 52

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Most Dangerous Man in America (2009)

Netflix DVD over 6/20/11 and 6/21/11
This documentary does not do a good job in expressing just how big a deal it was when the Pentagon Papers were released. In today's world, when people share the most inane thoughts that pass through their head (there's a great line about that in Easy A) and in the age of things like WikiLeaks, the impact gets lost in translation somewhere. However, as a film, this is a well-made documentary. It's not too long, the story has a flow, and it's a nice balance of historical footage and interviews. I find the stuff relating to the Vietnam War far more interesting than Daniel Ellsburg and why he did what he did.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 51

The Hangover Part II (2011)

Westbrook Cinemagic on 6/20/11
This was funny, for sure, but I'm not entirely convinced that it needed to be made. A lot of the jokes are the same as the first time around, only amplified. There is a slightly convoluted sideplot involving INTERPOL. Bangkok is a great locale and certainly has a reputation, but I didn't think it was any more or less believable as all this happening in Vegas. The structure of the story the first time around was unique and totally different - there were huge, important portions of the plot that neither the characters nor the audience knew. It doesn't have the same impact the second time around.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 50

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bridesmaids (2011)

Saco Cinemagic with Dad, Jack and Shannon on 6/19/11
I've been resistant to seeing this since it came out, but my dad wanted something funny for Father's Day, so I finally went. It's not what I expected. It's funny and actually moving in some places, but the main character drove me crazy. She allows herself to be so pathetic and sabotages herself at every turn. Though I find problems with Maya Rudolph's character too, I probably would have been just as frustrated with her as she was. Melissa McCarthy was totally the standout, probably because it's such a drastically different character from what she's done in the past.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 49

Friday, June 17, 2011

Super 8 (2011)

Westbrook Cinemagic with Kat, Anna, Adam, Chris and Justin on 6/17/11
I went into this with no expectations, and I have to say that it was a lot of fun! The dialogue is very well-written - feels totally realistic for 12-year-old boys. It's tongue-in-cheek funny and the visual effects are more than up to par. I'm not a huge fan of the camera flares that show up periodically throughout the movie, even if they are intentional - when there is no visible light source, it doesn't make sense. Elle Fanning has grown into a great actress and Kyle Chandler is kick-ass as the deputy sheriff. Why doesn't Coach Taylor ever whip soldiers with the butt of a rifle?
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 48

Another Year (2010)

Netflix DVD on 6/16/11
This was nominated for Original Screenplay last year, and I'm not sure I get why. The dialogue is pretty quick and sharp, sure, but the overall story is wandering and a little aimless. The storyline about Mary falling in love with a boy that she's known since he was 10 years old is too Mary Kay Letourneau to be poignant and she comes off as a flat character. If she has any characterization at all, it is solely desperation. Not enough to make a rounded character.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 47

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Centurion (2010)

Netflix DVD on 6/14/11
This is more like the King Arthur (the Clive Owen version) period of Rome rather than the HBO period of Rome. Characters run together in a haze of names that end in "ius" and one of the two recognizable actors is killed halfway through. Honestly, I think I would rather just watch HBO's Rome instead. Michael Fassbender is awesome, but not enough to pull this whole convoluted film.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 46

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Borrowed DVD on 6/14/11
First of all, I love that George A. Romero uses bright red paint for blood instead of something more realistic. It gives this whole thing an air of tongue-in-cheek suspension of disbelief that I think it needs to be successful. It's also interesting that in zombie movies, main characters take WAY more time to turn into zombies than bit characters. Roger here (the slightly dorky blond one) takes half an hour of screen time to turn into a zombie. Others seem to turn immediately. Though I think that zombie movies have come a long, long way since, this is a worthy start (or second - Night of the Living Dead is technically first) to a fun, gory genre.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 45

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

Movie Night with Adam, Justin, Mike, Kat, Anna and Sadie on 6/12/11
Okay, so movie night was a little overshadowed this week by the fantastic performance of Avenue Q that I saw at the Ogunquit Playhouse! I was especially impressed with how much the puppeteers both blended in to the background AND contributed their facial expressions to their puppet counterparts. Yesterday apparently was comedy day (since, in between the theater and movie night, I also fit in rewatching Easy A) - this film could have easily been way over the top and vulgar but it holds itself back pretty nicely. They're pretty lax with traditional rules about time travel and not changing anything, but all in all, a fun time.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 44

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Green Hornet (2011)

Netflix DVD over 6/10/11 and 6/11/11
Chistophe Waltz, Edward James Olmos, and James Franco are all in this - how did I miss it? Turns out to be an okay slip-up, though. It's nothing special. I know that the Green Hornet isn't a comic book superhero, but it doesn't mean that a filmmaker can afford to skimp on the story. None of the characters are all that engaging, except for Kato the sidekick, who unfortunately gets relegated most of the time to being a sidekick. The villain doesn't do all that much and the final shootout feels like too little too late.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 43

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Biutiful (2010)

Netflix DVD over 6/8/11 and 6/9/11
I should probably start off with saying that I really don't like Javier Bardem. I've never seen him in anything where he really wowed me (even No Country For Old Men, but that may be more because I couldn't stand that whole movie). He's decent here, and the movie is okay, but there's not much that's memorable. The plot is muddled, which I expected since it's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and what parts are clear are just sad. It's dark and depressing, though not in a moving or affecting way. It just leaves you feeling blah.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 42

Saturday, June 4, 2011

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Westbrook Cinemagic with Chris, Adam, Anna, Kat, Justin and Sadie on 6/3/11
#61 on my Top 100 List
This is officially my favorite X-Men movie. They didn't mess too much with canon stuff, and what they did was okay. I think Charles Xavier and Raven Darkholme as foster brother and sister is kind of a sweet story, plus having Xavier lose his ability to walk from the Shadow King would have been way too campy for a live action film (good call, Kat). Michael Fassbender was absolutely perfect as Magneto - I think that he, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, and January Jones as White Queen were the best casting choices. White Queen is still coolest when she's evil. And look for two awesome and hysterical cameos!
My Netflix rating:
5 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 41

The Last House on the Left (1972)

Netflix DVD on 6/2/11
I had to watch this for one of my seminars at my upcoming MFA residency, and I know that for its time it was probably very graphic and disturbing, but in the (unfortunate) age of torture porn, this no longer holds up. The production value is low even for the 70s and the shock value isn't there for modern audiences. It's also usually described as being a revenge story, where the parents of a victimized girl attack her attackers, but that portion of the story takes place very shortly at the end. It's interesting only to see the progression of the genre.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 40