Tuesday, February 7, 2012

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Yep, I think my blogging time is done for the moment. Three different experiments in three years gets tiring! But I've definitely had fun. This has made me look at movies much like how I used to. I've enjoyed sharing my critical eye and making this into an exercise in brevity.

I'm certainly not abandoning the blog completely, though! I'll be back every once and awhile, if some movie (or TV episode or book - I'm being limiting this time) catches my eye more than most and I feel like writing about it. Definitely be sure to expect something around the time The Hunger Games and The Avengers come out!

Until then, watch some movies for me :-)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)

Netflix Streaming over 2/4/12 and 2/5/12
This movie is boring. I'm sorry, but it's true. I have heard that the book is pretty awesome, and I fully intend to read it, but framing action around a courtroom drama that lacks on the drama is not a great way to set up your story. I think that the backstory - the love between Ishmael and Hatsue when they were children and young adults, plus the sequences in the internment camps - is far more interesting. I wanted more of that, instead of James Cromwell in an awful, bushy beard and Max Von Sydow bickering back and forth in the courtroom.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 135

Friday, February 3, 2012

Drive (2011)

Netflix DVD on 2/2/12
Considering all the buzz that surrounded this movie when it was out, it was pretty disappointing. It is definitely bloody and very graphic (shotgun blasts at point blank range to the head, for example) and there's some shock value there, but other than that, it's a little meh. Ryan Gosling is great and Albert Brooks too, but for me, the standout was Bryan Cranston as the garage owner/mentor. Carey Mulligan was barely in the film at all, despite what trailers suggested, and I'm not totally sold on Ryan Gosling's character making the jump so easily from getaway driver to hit man.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 134

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Shame (2011)

The Nick with Lauren on 2/1/12
Again with the no plot! Michael Fassbender (mmm, mmm) is convincing in his incredibly subtle performance as a sex addict, and Carey Mulligan is disturbing as his falling-apart sister, but nothing happens! The characters end up in the same place they started out in. The plot is really only a situation. There is a lot of nudity. I find it interesting that male full frontal nudity nearly always gets an NC-17 rating, while female nudity shows up in PG-13. I know that I'm not the first person to point this out, but everyone just needs to relax about the full frontal.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 133

Happythankyoumoreplease (2011)

Netflix Streaming over 1/31/12 and 2/1/12
This must be the week of movies with no plot. Nothing happens here either! I should have known better, since it was written and directed by someone who has (at least to my knowledge) never written or directed before. Josh Radnor, you're great on How I Met Your Mother. This character seems like it's just him recycling Ted, just plus an orphan and a bald best friend. The biggest difference is that none of these characters are sympathetic.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 132

The Iron Lady (2011)

The Nick with Lauren on 1/31/12
So. Boring. There is not much going on in this movie at all. I'm sure that Margaret Thatcher's life was interesting and riveting and all that (to someone) but the only interesting or riveting thing about this film was Meryl Streep's performance and her makeup. She totally embodies Thatcher in everything from her weird gait to the gap in her teeth. Perfection. That being said, I think that Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn is just a touch closer to perfection for me. And, for the love of God, will someone please make a biopic someday that isn't framed?
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 131

Friday, January 27, 2012

Which Way Home (2009)

Netflix Streaming on 1/26/12
I was expecting this to be a different story than it is. It's not about the US Border Patrol or about the influx of illegal immigrants into the United States - it's actually about the journey of illegal immigrants from Central American going through Mexico on their journey to get here. And, it focuses entirely on children traveling alone. It's heartbreaking to see parents telling the stories of their children who died of exposure while trying to get to America. It's short and mostly subtitled, but worth watching.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 130

Real Steel (2011)

Netflix DVD on 1/26/12
Welcome to Rockem Sockem Robots: The Movie! Anyone who tries to claim that this is anything different is lying. Though, if you go into it expecting Rockem Sockem Robots, this is a fantastically fun film. Hugh Jackman is the star, but he really isn't - the kid is. And the robot, Atom. This well deserves its nomination for Visual Effects - the robots seem absolutely like they are on set with the actors. And the fight scenes are pretty spectacular. I also really like the end - it's not quite fair, or what you expect. Sometimes it's nice to see a little deviation from formula.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 129

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Friends with Benefits (2011)

Netflix DVD on 1/20/11
This is just like No Strings Attached, but better written and more entertaining. Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake totally sell me on best friends who try being lovers, and I find this one more realistic than NSA. It gets messy. The lines get blurred. And people end up getting hurt. But in the end, it's happy and things turn out okay. This is a successful rom com definitely, and it leaves you feeling cheered about the state of the world. Love the flash mobs too. And above all, it doesn't take itself overly seriously.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 128

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Guard (2011)

Netflix DVD on 1/5/12
This is trying to be Snatch and failing. None of the characters are likeable or relateable, the plot is muddled, and the writing doesn't do the film any extra favors. This got nominated for a Golden Globe (for acting - Brendan Gleeson maybe?). Otherwise, I would never have watched it. Lauren was right when she said she had heard it was awful.
My Netflix rating: 2 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 127

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

The Nick with Ben on 1/5/12
You all know how much love Swedish cinema, and how much I enjoyed the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This is a very worthy American adaptation of the novel as well. It's tight and tense and stressful to watch, but it's in such a good, gripping way that you almost enjoy how much it keeps your nerves on edge. Rooney Mara totally sold me as Lisbeth Salander, even though I hadn't been convinced from the production stills. I still wonder why exactly they bleached her eyebrows, though. And I don't understand at all why they chose to change the ending - there's nothing wrong with it, but there's nothing wrong with the way the book ended either.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 126

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sarah's Key (2011)

Netflix DVD on 1/4/11
The book that this is based on is always advertised as a tragic mystery, almost like noir. If the movie is anything similar, it's not that at all. Tragic, yes. It's about the roundup of Jews in France in 1942, so obviously it's tragic. But there really isn't a whole lot of mystery or intrigue going on at all. I felt that the framed story (all the parts with Kristin Scott Thomas) was entirely unnecessary, and that the true heart of the story was with young Sarah. The child actress playing Sarah was brilliant. Other than that, there isn't too much going on here.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 125

War Horse (2011)

The Nick with Lauren on 1/4/11
If this movie had been an hour and twenty minutes, it might have had a chance to be decent. But two hours plus is torture. It follows a horse Joey (which is a really stupid name for a horse if you ask me - it sounded ridiculous whenever anyone said it) who is sold to the British army at the onset of World War I, despite the desperate love of his trainer/owner Albert. Albert swears to find him again, much in the way that loved ones parting on the deck of the Titanic probably sounded. Then the story follows Joey and his many owners, most of whom end up dead, until a climactic race through No Man's Land. That's actually the one touching scene in the whole film. And I will say that it's interesting to see a movie about WWI, since there aren't many, but this is just so cheesy and lame in most places that it's not worth it.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 124

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Descendants (2011)

The Nick with Lauren on 1/3/12
So, this is the critical darling of the year. I was not overly thrilled. It's not a bad film by any means - it's exceptionally filmed - but it's just not wowing me. Actually, I haven't really seen anything yet this awards season that wowed me, except Arthur Christmas. George Clooney is fine, the girl from Secret Life of American Teenager is really effective, and the writing is pretty solid until the end (that meanders and wanders and just doesn't get to the end fast enough), but somehow the elements just didn't all come together for me. I think perhaps if the pacing was tightened up just a bit or if some of the extraneous plot elements were streamlined, it would have been a much more enjoyable film. Best Picture? Maybe, but I'm not convinced that it deserves it.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 123

My Week with Marilyn (2011)

The Nick with Lauren on 1/2/12
I had heard really mixed reviews about this film, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. I have no feelings on Marilyn Monroe either way, though from what I've seen, she was an atrocious actress, and this movie really made me feel sad for her. Michelle Williams plays her perfectly, from the breathy voice to the little girl lost glazed look in her eye to the completely believable naivete that she carried with her. My only complaint is that Kenneth Branaugh looks nothing like Sir Laurence Olivier, and the woman they found to play Vivien Leigh looks even less appropriate.
My Netflix rating: 4 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 122

Sunday, January 1, 2012

West Side Story (1961)

Netflix DVD on 1/1/12
Happy New Year! Watching this brings my total of Best Picture winners that I haven't seen down to 10. I have been resistant to this movie for a very long time, since I watched the beginning a long time ago and was so disgusted by the singing, dancing street gangs that I turned it off. Turns out, this is not as painful as I thought. I don't like movie musicals - the theatricality of them doesn't work on screen for me - but I have seen far worse. This is the street gang version of Romeo and Juliet of course, and it's at least interesting to see how they translate some of the aspects of the play.
My Netflix rating: 3 stars

New Movies in Year Three: 121