RSS

Monthly Report: December 2013

02 Jan

One last Monthly Report to fill out the last bit of 2013. A solid group of movies of different types, with both some strong showings and some disappointments. As usual.

I’m hoping to get my annual year end awards post up within the next few days, so if you’re waiting for that one, just hold on for a little bit longer.

Happy new year, by the way!

Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2012)
Few people can make movies that are as great to just listen to as Baumbach does. Frances Ha is no exception. More grounded and “real” than his usual collections of strange characters, this is a fun look into the life of a woman struggling to fit into her own idea of life. Greta Gerwig is great in the lead, while the script is smart and oddly touching.
4/5

One Last Thing (Alex Steyermark, 2005)
A teenager with cancer tries to get a date with a supermodel he fancies before he dies. This is a frustrating movie. The tone set by the awful poster is not indicative of what the film tries to be. The beginning is promising, as I found myself thinking “Oh, this is one of those movies that’ll be smarter than what it looks like at first glance.” It isn’t, though it certainly tries to be. It’s just kind of poorly put together. The actors do decent enough work – I particularly enjoyed Cynthia Nixon‘s turn as the mother – but there’s not enough time for the characters to get fleshed out enough for what the story tries to pull off with them. The film takes narrative shortcuts, skipping scenes that, while not crucial to understand what’s going on, are necessary from an emotional standpoint. There’s too much half-baked focus on religion and spirituality, and the climax just felt messed up to me. I wanted to like this film, but there’s too much getting in the way.
2/5

hero_EB20110331REVIEWS110339996AR

Trust (David Schwimmer, 2010)
I wonder why this didn’t garner more Oscar attention for its actors, as it’s exactly the kind of “big” acting AMPAS usually loves. Just the wrong time and place, I suppose. The main trio (Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, and Liana Liberato) are all great, and the film has its emotional priorities straight. An interesting look at both how a young girl copes with sexual assault, and how her parents react. Strong movie.
4/5

Miss Representation (Jennifer Siebel Newsom & Kimberlee Acquaro, 2011)
This is a documentary everyone ought to watch. It’s not perfect by any means – tons of talking heads, some repetition, more of a light-shiner than a solution-finder – but the subject of female representation in media is a vital one that more people need to get into. And this is a good movie, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been thinking and reading about things like this for a while now, and this film still had a good deal of new insight in store for me.
4/5

Ghostbusters II (Ivan Reitman, 1989)
Strictly speaking not a new watch, as I have seen it one a great many years ago. I didn’t remember much of anything about it though, so whatever. It’s easy to come down hard on this one due to the existance of the original Ghostbusters. The first one is indeed superior in every imaginable way, mostly thanks to sharper dialogue and that whole “originality” thing. The sequel doesn’t bring much new stuff to the table, but it does have its moments, and Bill Murray as Peter Venkman remains a very fun character. It makes the passing grade – if not by a huge margin – but there’s no reason to watch it when you could be watching the 1984 movie.
3/5

(A)sexual (Angela Tucker, 2011)
Solid doc on asexuality, a subject which I knew very little about before seeing this film, learned a lot about through seeing it, but was left with a lot of questions afterwards. The movie is short, clocking in at 75 minutes, and I feel like they could have gone deeper without sacrificing pacing. Some of the stuff that was included felt a bit fuzzy too, like the whole “multiple quasi-romantic relationships” thing. Still, a movie that lets me learn new stuff, and does so in a well put-together manner, deserves credit.
3/5

Cary-in-His-Girl-Friday-cary-grant-4267465-1024-768

His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
The rapid fire dialogue took some getting used to, but this turned out to be a really funny movie with a bit of an edge to it. I wouldn’t mind watching more stuff like this.
4/5

Our Idiot Brother (Jesse Peretz, 2011)
Obvious but harmless.
3/5

Inseparable (Dayyan Eng, 2011)
Chinese movie in which a guy attempts suicide, only to get interrupted by a strange dude (played by Kevin Spacey, intriguingly enough) who tries to get his life back on track. Naturally, this involves becoming a superhero. There’s a bit more to this story that what first meets the eye, but while it’s all handled fairly well, there’s little here that hasn’t been done before in films like Defendor, Special and Kick-Ass. The addition of Spacey to the otherwise largely Chinese cast is ultimately more of a distraction than anything, even though he of course puts in a fine performance.
3/5

Sightseers (Ben Wheatley, 2012)
Wheatley’s follow-up to the intriguingly baffling Kill List offers a similar sense of bizarre and Britishness, but blends it with some down-to-earth comedy. The thick mood is still present too, offering a sense of things just being really off. It’s the stand-out quality of the film, but the acting is nothing to scoff at either. Wheatley makes films like few others.
4/5

Paradise: Love (Ulrich Seidl, 2012)
Middle age woman goes on vacation to Kenya hoping to find a man, at least for a night or two. The subject matter is of course uncomfortable, so this is not what you’d call an enjoyabe viewing experience. The film does get its points across though, and the acting is solid. Very European.
3/5

upstream_color

Upstream Color (Shane Carruth, 2013)
The man who brought Primer to the world returns with an equally confusing but far less entertaining film. I have no idea what this one was even about, and I couldn’t wait for the credits to start rolling. The sound was good though, I’ll give it that.
1/5

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Peter Jackson, 2013)
It looks good, and there are enough cool action scenes to bring the score up to a passing grade. You pretty much know what you’re getting yourself into with a film like this. But man, this trilogy is really starting to run out of steam. Stretching out the relatively modest-length novel to three movies was worrisome enough, but then they have to stretch out each individual installment too just to make it “epic”, and it’s beginning to show some tearing. There is quite a bit of padding, many scenes just run way too long, and the flow of the story is bumpy indeed. At this rate, I’m not even sure I’ll be going to see the closing chapter next year. Also, fuck Legolas.
3/5

Total # of new films seen: 13
Average score: 3.2 / 5
Best film of the month: Frances Ha
Worst film of the month: Upstream Color

 
4 Comments

Posted by on 2 January, 2014 in Monthly Report

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “Monthly Report: December 2013

  1. Nostra

    3 January, 2014 at 11:38

    I can understand why people like Frances Ha, but it wasn’t a movie for me. Have not seen One Last Thing, but it seems like a good idea to skip that one :) Never heard of Trust, but that one seems worth checking out. Miss Representation was a very good documentary, only issue I had is why they kept showing imagery of women in a way they were making a point against, their point was made clear early on already. Ghostbusters II is entertaining, but like you say not better than the original. You did not like Upstream Color? It is in my top 10 movies of 2013, and I can imagine it taking a while to connect with it or understand what is going on. It’s something I really liked abou tit. Planning to watch The Hobbit this weekend, looking forward to it.

     
    • Emil

      3 January, 2014 at 12:48

      I didn’t find Miss Representation excessive in that regard. No harm done, I say.

      Upstream Color is one of those love-it-or-hate-it kind of movies, it seems. I’ve seen strong opinions in both directions on it. It really failed to grab my attention.

       
  2. Matt

    6 January, 2014 at 00:01

    Just discovered your site today and I’m already enjoying your writing. But I’ll admit, I’m really curious to hear your elaborated take on Upstream Color. Based on your other ratings and reviews, I find myself agreeing with you most of the time, but UC is without a doubt one of the best films I’ve seen in the past decade. Not even kidding. I wouldn’t look to it for pure entertainment but instead for a more cerebral, stimulating cinematic experience — even more abstract than Primer, I would say. Did you enjoy Carruth’s previous works? Just curious.

    Anyways, sorry for the rant. Keep up the great work. You’ve found yourself a new reader!

    Cheers,
    Matt

     
    • Emil

      6 January, 2014 at 01:15

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog, Matt! It’s always cool to find new readers.

      Upstream Color, ultimately, is not my kind of movie. As a more purely sensory experience, it does have some things going for it – as I said, I did like the sound work, for instance – but to me, it never came together to serve a purpose for me. I couldn’t find any real sense or purpose to what happened on the screen, and in the end, the film just left me feeling empty. My ratings are very subjective. It seems to be a very divisive film from what I’ve gathered, with plenty of people in both the love and hate camps. I sadly found myself in the latter.

      I did like Carruth’s Primer. I found it impossible to fully keep up with all its time travel logic, but I admired its take-no-prisoner approach to its science, and I was definitely invested in the story it told. I think I have it at a 3/5 or 4/5. Been meaning to revisit it for quite some time, too.

      Thanks for commenting, and for the kind words!

       

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers

%d bloggers like this: