Sunday, July 31, 2011

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

VHS on 7/30/11
Well, this is two and a half hours of my life that I will never get back. I absolutely refuse to call this a thriller, despite what Netflix and IMDB might say, because nothing. happens. At all. The words that sprang to mind halfway through this film were "long visual poem." That's not a good sign. I will say that the special effects are pretty awesome, given that it was 1968, and the music is iconic of course, but that is it. What was that acid trip daydream sequence at the end? Was HAL supposed to be menacing? I'm glad I watched it, because now I never have to watch it again.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 64

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Life During Wartime (2009)

Netflix DVD on 7/30/11
This is another of those films that doesn't know if it's a drama or a comedy - it tries to be both and fails to be either. I read about it in one of EW's movie previews (Holiday maybe?) and thought it sounded interesting based on the cast, especially Allison Janney. I really need to stop doing that - they almost never turn out to be good films. I'm not sure why this was getting talked about at Oscar time, except maybe the performances. They are all very solid - the only reason at all to watch this.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 63

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bad Teacher (2011)

Westbrook Cinemagic with Ben on 7/27/11
This movie is funny simply because it doesn't try too hard to be something it isn't. It's stupid funny - not at all realistic obviously. I can assure you that if any teacher I ever worked with tried that crap, they would be fired so fast their heads would spin. That goes for Cameron Diaz's character and her arch-rival teacher. Justin Timberlake continues to impress me as an actor (really, who say that coming from "Bye Bye Bye"??) and Jason Segel is always a good time.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 62

The Other Conquest (1998)

Netflix DVD on 7/27/11
I'm nearly positive that I read about this in Variety a couple years ago and that's how I heard about it - I certainly wasn't getting Variety in 1998. I didn't even know what Variety was in 1998. So I'm not sure why they were listing it recently. In any case, it's not at all what I expected when I heard it was about the fall of the Aztec empire. The film follows an Aztec princess and a warrior who may or may not be her half-brother (though I really hope he isn't, because they start sleeping together halfway through the film) and their forced "conversion" to Christianity. Of course neither does, and violence ensues. It's not badly made - it just doesn't capitalize on the more interesting parts of history.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 61

Miral (2010)

Netflix DVD on 7/26/11
This was getting a lot of Oscar buzz for a while, and even though it was a decent film that should have had an engaging story, it just didn't hold my attention. Willem Dafoe felt oddly out of place and the story is divided over two timelines that are not blended well. Miral is not nearly well-developed enough as a character and the tension in the plot requires one to have more knowledge of Middle Eastern politics and history than the average person does I think.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 60

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Beginners (2011)

The Nick on 7/24/11
I think it's possible that I put too much stock in a movie's cast. Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, and Melanie Laurent (Shoshanna from Inglorious Basterds) should come together to make a great film, right? Not so much. The storyline is a convoluted mix of three different time periods, two of which are really only distinguishable by which character has custody of the dog. The film should be about the relationship between a father and son, but that gets lost in the son's self-sabotaging attempts at a relationship and the father's determination to ignore the fact that he's dying of cancer. A great opportunity wasted.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 59

Captain America (2011)

Westbrook Cinemagic with Anna, Kat and Sadie on 7/22/11
I love Marvel! Have I mentioned that lately? Their movies just keep getting better and better since they started retaining their own rights and producing the projects themselves. Captain America is one of the more boring superheroes, morally perfect and without the problems like Iron Man's alcoholism or the X-Mens' elitism (sort of like Marvel's version of Superman), but the movie is definitely not. Hugo Weaving (bless him, he will always be Elrond first to me) makes a great Red Skull. And make sure you stick through to the end of the credits!
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 58

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Illusionist (2010)

Netflix DVD on 7/21/11
This is just as weird as The Triplets of Belleville, but without the charming whimsy. There is nothing at all wrong with the animation (you know I'm a sucker for hand-drawn), but what little spoken language there is seems not to be any language known to man. Triplets of Belleville had enough visual story to make up for that, but this one just doesn't. Disappointing. The rating is based on the quality of the animation and that's it.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 57

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

The Nick with Emica on 7/19/11
New Top 100 list to be coming soon! This is a beautiful, fitting end to a very moving and well-made film series. Though the Battle of Hogwarts was drastically reduced in scale (as seems to have been the case with every big battle in these films), I understand why David Yates chose to do that. You can do so much on the page that would be nearly impossible to translate realistically - it's better to take the pieces that really work and emphasize them. Neville still gets his awesome moment with the snake, Mrs. Weasley still takes on Bellatrix, and the scene in the Great Hall with all of the bodies is even more moving on screen. I may have cried for half of the film.
My Netflix rating: 5 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 56