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Category Archives: Monthly Report

Monthly Report: January + February 2014

Downfall (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004)
A movie about the last days of Hitler’s life, as well as the people around him at the time, is a good idea, and this one is blessed by some strong performances, particularly from Bruno Ganz and Ulrich Matthes (playing Hitler and Goebbels respectively.) Unfortunately, this movie is still very much a drag to sit through, despite a couple of effective scenes towards the end. Not the best way to start the movie year of 2014.
2/5

Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus (Sebastián Silva, 2013)
It’s nice to see Michael Cera show off his range and break away from his old “awkward teen” schtick, even if it takes playing an insufferable jackass to do so. This turned out to be a peculiar film, featuring elements of road movies and drug trips, filtered through an indie sensibility. I may have dozed off a bit towards the end, but weirdly enough, I honestly believe that made the movie better. Not in a snarky “because I didn’t have to watch it” kind of way, but like it actually enhanced it somehow. I don’t know. I liked this film. It had some charm.
3/5

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The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg, 2012)
A harrowing story that isn’t afraid to ask hard questions. Mads Mikkelsen is excellent in the lead as a man accused of child molesting, but the rest of the cast provide ample support. Even better than Vinterberg’s great 90s effort The Celebration, and the first outstanding movie I’ve seen this year.
5/5

Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)
With a peculiar premise like this – a guy falls in love with his computer operating system – it really is to the film’s credit how deftly it makes me buy it all. It’s an earnest film that touches on great thoughts and ideas, and it’s presented remarkably well; everything from the cinematography to the intriguing near-future production design to the acting is impressive. Something is nagging at me and keeping me from giving it the top score, though. I’m not sure what it is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it might disappear with time. I get the feeling this movie is going to stick with me for a while.
4/5

Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve, 2013)
Dark thriller that reminded me of both The Silence of the Lambs and Seven as I watched it. Strong performances, beautifully shot, and with a totally engrossing story.
4/5

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Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen, 2013)
The story is just kind of there, doing enough to keep the movie going but not being anything particularly noteworthy. This is a film where the acting is the highlight. Cate Blanchett puts in a wonderfully realized turn as a woman in breakdown mode. It’s a real powerhouse performance. Supporting players Sally Hawkins, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay and others are also memorable. Fun characters, but Woody Allen can do better than this.
3/5

12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
Excellent performances that serve the heartfelt – if familiar – story perfectly well. There’s also quite a bit of cool soundwork going on here, and the final scene probably ranks among the year’s finest. 12 Years a Slave is not quite the kind of spellbinding film that McQueen’s previous movie Shame was, as here he settles for more conventional storytelling, but perhaps proving himself as a highly competent storyteller is the right way for him to go at this point.
4/5

Computer Chess (Andrew Bujalski, 2013)
Plays kind of like a Pi by way of Christopher Guest, only neither interesting nor funny. This is a movie about nothing.
1/5

Total # of new films seen: 8
Average score: 3.3 / 5
Best film of the months: The Hunt
Worst film of the months: Computer Chess

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Posted by on 28 February, 2014 in Monthly Report

 

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Monthly Report: December 2013

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

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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

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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

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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

 
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Posted by on 2 January, 2014 in Monthly Report

 

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Monthly Report: October + November 2013

Another month or two, another bunch of movies seen. October was a bit middling with few real highlights, but November picked up in a big way. November 11 in particular was a great day, with two 5/5 movies seen, something I don’t think has ever happened before. Good times.

Fright Night (Craig Gillespie, 2011)
A solid horror movie, albeit one with few surprises along the way. What I really liked about it was how the characters and their reactions felt largely believable. They filled standard parts for a horror film, but they did in such a way that they didn’t come off as mere archetypes. That was cool, and a spark of just the kind of thing I’d expect from the director of Lars and the Real Girl.
3/5

Room 237 (Rodney Ascher, 2012)
I wouldn’t take any of the theories on Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining presented in this documentary as anything resembling facts, but it’s nonetheless quite fun to listen to people talk about something they’re passionate about and have devoted a lot of time to. It’s all fairly well executed and presented, but it does get a bit samey at times. Perhaps a shorter run time would have been a nice idea.
3/5

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God Bless America (Bobcat Goldthwait, 2011)
As subtle as a bowling ball, and roughly as sharp, but at its best, it’s a really funny black comedy; at its worst, it’s Goldthwait soap-boxing in the guise of 10 minutes long montages of TV parodies. It’s a good movie, but hardly a step forward from his previous film World’s Greatest Dad.
3/5

Good Bye Lenin! (Wolfgang Becker, 2003)
A sweet story combined with an interesting look at East Germany at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. While the basic premise of a lie that needs to be upheld is far from rare, the setting and earnestness makes it work here. A fun and fairly touching watch.
4/5

Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh, 2012)
The acting is the strong point of the film, with Channing Tatum doing everything right in the lead and Matthew McConaughey putting in a supporting turn that’s charisma all the way through. The story is fine, but you’d expect a Soderbergh movie about male strippers to either have more to say, or at least put a fresher spin on things. There’s a lot of angles that could be explored here, and it feels like there’s plenty of missed opportunities. Not the director’s bravest effort.
3/5

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984)
Very 80s-y. Freddy is more goofy than anything, and the ending is awful, but it does have its moments. Although not many.
2/5

The Eye (David Moreau & Xavier Palud, 2008)
Jessica Alba sees something scary and freaks out. Repeat a thousand times. Roll credits. Weak horror movie with a story that moves at a snail’s pace.
2/5

Avalon (Axel Petersén, 2011)
Kind of dry, like many Swedish films tend to be. Johannes Brost puts in a strong lead performance, and really shines when his character is stricken by guilt. Those scenes are the highlight of the film. The rest, I could take or leave. The ending is pretty but weak.
2/5

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Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh, 2013)
Twisty, tense and entertaining thriller that keeps you on your toes throughout. The antidepressant element of the plot helped introduce some welcome ambiguity to the proceedings, and Rooney Mara puts in a performance at least as good as the one in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Just a damn solid film.
4/5

The Innkeepers (Ti West, 2011)
Perhaps not so much a slow-burner as a late-starter, The Innkeepers lulls you into first thinking it’ll be one certain kind of horror film, only to carefully flip your expectations upside down – or at least 90°. By the end of it, the tension and atmosphere had me clutching my pillow tightly. Great pacing, wonderful execution, and a very compelling set of lead characters. Best horror film I’ve seen in quite some time.
4/5

Win Win (Tom McCarthy, 2011)
There’s little particularly new or noteworthy about the story and characters in this film, but fine execution goes a long way and makes this a solid and enjoyable watch regardless. With a lesser cast, this could have turned out really weak.
3/5

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011)
While there’s a lot to like about this film, the best reason to see it is to witness Elizabeth Olsen‘s terrific performance in the leading role. There’s a lot of tricky emotions at play for her character, and she nails it all. The rest of the movie can’t really hope to match it fully, but that says more about Olsen than anything else. It’s a fascinating character study, as much about paranoia as about cult life, and while the ending really caught me off guard, it did so in a way that made me reevaluate what the film was really trying to say. And that’s fine. As is the movie.
4/5

The Guard (John Michael McDonagh, 2011)
Brendan Gleeson is in fine form here, playing a somewhat grumpy policeman. He and Don Cheadle have plenty of fun interactions with one another, rising above your usual “buddy cop” routines. The plot itself might be somewhat familiar, but that’s not what you should be here for; the Irishness of both the humor and the tone is what makes the film stand out.
4/5

We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
The opening scene had me immediately enthralled. 10 minutes in, I had found 10 or so things about this film I really loved. And then it just kept on going at that same high level. A horrific tale to be sure, but it’s impossible to tear one’s eyes from the screen. A top-notch performance by Tilda Swinton, and Ramsay’s directing is flawless. Had I seen this when I was first getting into movies some years ago, it would have blown my damn mind. Even watching it now, it still does.
5/5

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Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, 2013)
I wasn’t all that enamored by Cuarón’s much-beloved previous film Children of Men, finding it visually impressive but sterile to a fault in terms of story and characters. I was thus a bit wary of Gravity, in spite of all the praise it has been receiving. Well, Gravity is good. It’s really good. Great, in fact. The visuals are certainly the highlight here too, but they’re combined with solid characters (Sandra Bullock has probably never been better), thematic food-for-thoughts, and more suspense and excitement than you can shake a stick at. Wonderful.
5/5

Headhunters (Morten Tyldum, 2011)
Cool Norwegian thriller that ramps up and transforms as it moves along. Some of the more comedic parts feel a bit out of place, but that’s about the only major gripe I have with the film. Everything else is pulled off really well, which makes for a captivating ride.
4/5

Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012)
Exhilarating action scenes, solid plot and characters, interesting theme of old vs new, expert pacing, and visually stunning. That last thing is almost done to a fault, as there were times when the flashy cinematography took me out of the moment. Overall, however, this is a very fine action film, one of my favorite Bond movies, and another winner from Sam Mendes.
4/5

Six Degrees of Separation (Fred Schepisi, 1993)
Six Degrees of Separation somewhat fails to get its point across, and the transition from stage to screen is not a particularly smooth one. Whether Will Smith is just ill-suited for this kind of theater material or whether it was just too early in his career for him to tackle it, I’m not sure. He’s not bad, but his part is one that ought to sparkle, and it doesn’t here. The cast is fine for the most part, though the acting is lacking in “oomph” until Stockard Channing‘s big emotional scene towards the end.
2/5

Total # of new films seen: 18
Average score: 3.4 / 5
Best film of the months: We Need to Talk About Kevin
Worst film of the months: The Eye

 
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Posted by on 1 December, 2013 in Monthly Report

 

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Monthly Report: August + September 2013

August was a busy month with work, so there was little time for movies, hence the lack of an August report. Here’s another double-monther to compensate.

Trance (Danny Boyle, 2013)
Cool and twisty thriller, presented with all the flash and flair we’ve come to expect from Mr. Boyle. In fact, this might be my favorite film of his since Trainspotting. Maybe. Okay, probably not. But it’s up there with Sunshine.
4/5

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (Julien Nitzberg, 2009)
A freak show kind of documentary with little intent other than to show off one train wreck of a redneck family. It’s lazy, mean, and a bit too long for its own good, but I won’t deny that it’s reasonably amusing for the most part.
3/5

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World War Z (Marc Forster, 2013)
Started out as a War of the Worlds-ish family survival action movie, only to settle into more familiar zombie flick territory as it went along. Most of it works just fine; there’s nothing extraordinary about anything going on, but nothing offensively bad either. I’m not sure the film needed both the Korea and Israel sections, as it felt like they were just trying to cram as much of the world into the film as possible. The characters just went along from one location to the next without much flow to the story. Overall though, I was fairly entertained.
3/5

Butter (Jim Field Smith, 2011)
Clunky story that tries to meld feel-good comedy with an underscore of political satire to limited success. Hugh Jackman earns a few snickers, but other than that, there’s not a whole lot of laughter on offer in this one.
2/5

Flirting with Disaster (David O. Russell, 1996)
The rare comedy where all the characters are funny in their own ways. Plenty of laughs to be had here.
4/5

Shotgun Stories (Jeff Nichols, 2007)
So restrained it becomes nothing at all. The ending was handled nicely, but for the most part, this was quite the yawner, and very much a disappointment when compared to Take Shelter.
2/5

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Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, 2013)
To say that I have been looking forward to this one would be an understatement. My initial reaction is that it’s a very good film, but the shift in tone from Before Sunrise and Before Sunset threw me for a loop, and I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, the new more bitter taste feels like a realistic evolution of the relationship between Jesse and Celine. On the other hand, I’m not sure that’s what I would have really wanted to see – though since when has “it should be more feel-good” been valid criticism? A film is what it is, and should probably be judged as such. I could see myself coming around to this one after some more time to process it. It does have the same qualities as the two previous films in the series, in that the fine writing and the wonderful acting from Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke makes it a joy to listen to these characters talk for 100-ish minutes.
4/5

Nick of Time (John Badham, 1995)
Sometimes, you look at the cast list of a film and are immediately intrigued. Johnny Depp and Christopher Walken is one such combination of actors that easily sparks my interest. Unfortunately, Sleepy Hollow this ain’t. As great actors as the two are, they can’t lift this one above the level of run-of-the-mill thriller.
2/5

Total # of new films seen: 8
Average score: 3.0 / 5
Best film of the months: Trance
Worst film of the months: Shotgun Stories

 
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Posted by on 3 October, 2013 in Monthly Report

 

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Monthly Report: July 2013

Another month, another bunch of movies seen. Quality over quantity this time; I may not have watched all that much, but most of what I saw I really liked.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky, 2012)
Oh, I loved this one. Among the best coming-of-age movies I’ve ever seen. I felt for all the characters, I loved the music, and I was impressed by how the story was presented to me. This is the great movie that 500 Days of Summer and Submarine were really close to being. Terrific stuff, and the best film I’ve seen in months.
5/5

Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002)
I dug how this felt like it could have actually been from the 1950s, the time period in which it is set. Impressive. Julianne Moore‘s performance is also a strong point, as she comes off as utterly convincing in a transformative way. The film overall is decent, although the story tries to do a bit too much and doesn’t sufficiently flesh out all of its subplots.
3/5

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It’s a Disaster (Todd Berger, 2012)
Funny film about eight people who meet up for couples brunch, only to find themselves in unusual circumstances and unable to leave the house. Similar premise have been done once or twice before – there are some resemblances to both Carnage and Right at Your Door, for instance – but Berger and co still make it feel fresh enough as they put their own spin on things, often of the more outright comedic kind. The last quarter or so of the film does drag a little, unfortunately, and the ending is more cute than narratively satisfying. Still, this one’s worth checking out if the idea sounds intriguing to you.
3/5

Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton, 2011)
Nice and touching movie, helped along to great degree by the trio of fully realized characters. The writing and performances ensured that I fully bought them at all times. I may not have liked all of them all the time, but that’s fine. Everyone’s flawed. This is a good film.
4/5

The Collector (Marcus Dunstan, 2009)
Oh, hey, a good horror movie. I didn’t know they still made those. This one features a stylized and stylish look, audio that slowly but surely envelopes you and pulls you into its atmosphere, and a neat focus on traps unlike what we’re familiar with from the Saw franchise – which Dunstan has also worked on. A film that went beyond my expectations.
4/5

Animal House (John Landis, 1978)
A professor in this film (Donald Sutherland) at one point says this about Milton while discussing Paradise Lost: “He’s a little bit long-winded, he doesn’t translate very well into our generation, and his jokes are terrible.” I could say the same about this film.
2/5

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Moneyball (Bennett Miller, 2011)
Compelling stuff, even to someone like me who knows nothing about baseball. Equal parts character study and sports drama, with the latter being where the movie really shines. The actors do a good job, but it’s the willingness of Miller to do things in slightly offbeat ways to better serve the story that really makes the movie take off.
4/5

The Purge (James DeMonaco, 2013)
An interesting premise that unfortunately gives way to a standard home invasion horror flick. The few moments where it lingers on the implications of a nation-wide “everything goes” night are the best parts of the film, but that’s not enough to bring this one up to a passing grade. Main problem: repetitiveness.
2/5

Drive Angry (Patrick Lussier, 2011)
Compared to many other Nicolas Cage action films these days, this one is almost bursting with a sense of identity, thanks to its B-movie tone. There’s some fun to be had here to be sure, mostly thanks to the characters. Cage and William Fichtner play off each other well, and really ought to do more movies together. I also liked Amber Heard‘s feisty performance, even if nothing her character did made much sense. Drive Angry is a pretty dumb film, but it mostly accomplishes what it sets out to do.
3/5

Total # of new films seen: 9
Average score: 3.3 / 5
Best film of the months: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Worst film of the months: The Purge

 
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Posted by on 1 August, 2013 in Monthly Report

 

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Monthly Report: May + June 2013

I didn’t do a Monthly Report last month. The reason why is that the number of new movies I saw in May was a less-than-impressive 1, and making a blog post on just that seemed silly. Fortunately, June proved a bit more fruitful. My movie interest is perking up again, it would seem. It’s just a shame that these two months didn’t have more really great films to offer than they did, but what can you do.

Breakdown (Jonathan Mostow, 1997)
Solid thriller, albeit with no real stand-out quality. Nothing worth going out of your way to check out.
3/5

Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg, 2012)
Zzzzzzzzz…
1/5

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End of Watch (David Ayer, 2012)
The story is barely there. Just two cops doing their thing, presented partially found footage style that adds little to the proceedings. What makes the movie work is the convincing performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, as well as the many brief yet poignant insights into what it’s like to be a police. The movie manages to take familiar situations and tropes and show them in a way that make the implications of them really sink in for the first time. If that makes sense. This one’s worth checking out.
4/5

Kung Fu Dunk (Yen-ping Chu, 2008)
I was hoping for something similar to Shaolin Soccer. This one kind of was, only not as good. One problem was that the martial arts stuff felt shoehorned in and not played to full comedic effect. Even worse was the way too mushy and overly long ending. The early goings of the film did offer some giggles, but not enough to outweigh the bad.
2/5

Descent (Talia Lugacy, 2007)
Not to be confused with spelunking horror film The Descent. This is one of those movies that’s more interesting to think about afterwards than it is to actually watch. In its effort to keep the effects of rape “real”, it internalizes everything to too high a degree. The result is a viewing experience that keeps the viewer at too much of a distance. There are some interesting directorial choices here, and Rosario Dawson‘s performance is a strong one – that her character’s motives are kept somewhat in the dark seems to be the director’s choice – but once you realize what the movie is going for, you realize that it’s not enough to sustain its running time.
2/5

For a Good Time, Call… (Jamie Travis, 2012)
Not all chick flicks are bad. This one kind of is though, or at the very least “meh.” It’s generally a bad sign that when the end credits start rolling, you realize that nothing has really happened. Nothing has changed, there has been no real character growth, and there have been no laughs either – although some of the cameos are smirk-worthy. This film is also proof that dirty language alone is not enough to spice up a film.
2/5

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Incendies (Denis Villeneuve, 2010)
A movie very much about its story. It’s full of intrigue and is told well – dual timelines can be tricky, but are pulled off without a hitch here – and I found myself more and more hooked as it went along. Sprinkled in are scenes of stark emotions and shocking violence, almost like interpunctuation. Check this one out if you’re in the mood for a tale with plenty of unexpected turns.
4/5

Hit and Run (David Palmer & Dax Shepard, 2012)
I really liked the dialogue here. The conversations and arguements, particularly the ones between Shepard and Kristen Bell – fiances in real life – had a way of drifting from the personal to the general that I dug like hell. Like, they’d start talking about who’s right, then it becomes about what’s right, then they take themselves out of it completely and try to see everything from the outside looking in. It’s hard to describe properly, but it stood out to me as something movies rarely do. The fact that it’s the same kind of conversations I often end up in myself might have something to do with my fondness for it here. Anyway, the rest of the film was cool too, with a story that hasn’t been done to death and fun characters. Could have done with tighter action scenes, perhaps.
4/5

The Dictator (Larry Charles, 2012)
Nowhere near as good as Borat or Bruno. Felt more like an excuse for Sacha Baron Cohen to try out a new accent for 80 minutes. I did like the helicopter scene and the climax, though.
2/5

A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard, 2001)
I’m not convinced the movie need to go on for as long as it did; the ending did drag a bit. Overall, though, this was a fascinating story, helped along by two great performances by Russell Crowe (never better) and Jennifer Connelly.
4/5

Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 2010)
This was fine. The acting is decent enough – I was particularly impressed by Andrew Garfield – and the story is a cool and unique one. I would highly recommend reading the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro instead, though. That one is superb.
3/5

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Kiss Me (Alexandra-Therese Keining, 2011)
Not as good as that other Swedish movie about lesbians, but still fairly decent. As much of an infidelity drama as a gay romance, this one struggles a bit with an occasionally flat story – remove the homosexuality and marvel at how humdrum the whole thing would seem – but the two leads (Ruth Vega Fernandez and Liv Mjönes) have good enough chemistry and put in strong enough performances to carry the film to a passing grade.
3/5

eXistenZ (David Cronenberg, 1999)
I don’t get it.
2/5

Carnage (Roman Polanski, 2011)
Just four talented actors doing what they do best, with Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly in particular providing stand-out turns. The end felt a bit abrupt, but then it always seemed to be headed that way, so it’s not a huge drawback.
4/5

Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh, 2012)
Cool and clever film through which I was never sure what was going to happen next. Strong cast too. After In Bruges and this one, McDonagh is certainly a director to keep a close eye on.
4/5

The Campaign (Jay Roach, 2012)
Not the most subtle of satires I’ve seen, to say the least. There are some funny scenes here and there, but a lot of the humor just feels forced and hamfisted. I’m a fan of both Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, but neither manages to do much with what they’re given here. The ending is really damn weak, too.
2/5

Total # of new films seen: 16
Average score: 2.9 / 5
Best film of the months: Seven Psychopaths
Worst film of the months: Cosmopolis

 
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Posted by on 1 July, 2013 in Monthly Report

 

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Monthly Report: April 2013

I didn’t end up seeing many movies this month. I get into these slumps once a year or so where I just don’t feel like checking much stuff out. Maybe it’s some way for me to recharge my internal movie battery or something. I’ll probably snap out of it within the next month or two.

For those keeping track, I broke one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 this month by failing to watch a Swedish film. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. I’ll try to make up for it later in the year.

Bachelorette (Leslye Headland, 2012)
Yeah, it seems unlikely that this would have been made if not for the success of (the superior) Bridesmaids. That doesn’t mean that Bachelorette isn’t pretty damn funny in its own right, though. I much enjoyed Kirsten Dunst as the alpha bitch. I liked how Rebel Wilson‘s character was treated as a human being rather than someone to laugh at – I prefer how she’s handled here to Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, for comparison – and both Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan nail their respective characters. I had a lot of fun with this one.
4/5

Better Off Dead (Savage Steve Holland, 1985)
Wacky absurd humor proves an ill fit for this formulaic high school rom-com plot. I did get a kick out of the kid riding around on his bike trying to get his two dollars from John Cusack, but the rest of the film was a bit of a dud.
2/5

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Bully (Lee Hirsch, 2011)
This documentary packs a heavy emotional punch. I found myself getting angry during parts of this one: angry at the bullies, and angry at the teachers who fail to do anything. The film presents its stories in a compelling way, switching between various persons with their own experiences with bullying, and it’s shot in a nice and varied way. I would have liked a bit more depth to it all, though. Why not try to find out what makes some kids into bullies, or show what effects being bullied can have on someone when they reach adulthood. Still, this is a very affecting film, and one that avoids usual pitfalls of the genre. See it.
4/5

Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)
It was cool to look at, and the multi-faceted performance by Denis Lavant is impressive, but as a whole, this film did little for me. I like my movies a bit more accessible.
2/5

Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen, 2007)
What I liked most about this Woody Allen murder-drama was all the little ironies that kept popping up. It’s a very well-written movie with characters acting in ways that make sense, even though the situations may be extreme. Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor are both competent co-leads, but it’s Tom Wilkinson who really shines in a supporting role.
4/5

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Whale Rider (Niki Caro, 2002)
Simple but sweet story about tradition and progressiveness, aided by its exotic setting and moving performances. Young Keisha Castle-Hughes in the lead is the obvious stand-out, surpassing most actors her age and delivering quite the money scene at around the 2/3 mark of the film.
3/5

Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
My first Marx Brothers film. As with my other sampling of old comedies, this one took quite a while before it enveloped me in its groove. I did end up liking it though, largely thanks to Groucho and his motormouth. I’m not sure if I’ll watch more of them or not, though. I’m more intrigued by Chaplin.
3/5

Dredd (Pete Travis, 2012)
There are some obvious similarities to The Raid here, especially that the two films share the same premise of a small group tackling a towering apartment building filled with criminals. But whereas The Raid focused on martial arts, Dredd opts for a more old school American action vibe. It works on its own merits, and it does enough things differently to hold up nicely even next to the superior The Raid. That said, I get the feeling that more could have been done with the Judge Dredd character. I don’t know for sure, as I haven’t read the comics or seen the Stallone flick, but there seemed like there was unexplored territory here.
4/5

Total # of new films seen: 8
Average score: 3.3 / 5
Best film of the month: Bachelorette
Worst film of the month: Holy Motors

 
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Posted by on 2 May, 2013 in Monthly Report

 

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