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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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My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 1998

You know the drill by now. These are my 10 favorite movies of 1998, going by release year listed on IMDB.

Honorable mentions: Dark City, The Interview, Rushmore, Run Lola Run, There’s Something About Mary

10 – FOLLOWING (Christopher Nolan)

“You take it away to show them what they had.”

Before there were the multi-million dollar blockbusters like The Dark Knight and Inception, there was Following. Nolan’s first film was made on a budget of $6000, shot in black & white and with no bells and whistles. The story thus becomes the focal point, and it’s a good one indeed. Telling the non-chronological tale of a writer (Jeremy Theobald) who after following people on the streets eventually finds himself led into a world of crime, this neo-noir is filled with twists, turns and intrigue. Not quite a masterpiece or anything, but definitely well worth checking out to see where the seeds for Memento were planted.

9 – THE CELEBRATION (FESTEN, Thomas Vinterberg)

“Here’s to the man who killed my sister. To a murderer.”

The Celebration is perhaps most significant for being the first (and, alongside Lars Von Trier‘s The Idiots, arguably the most well-known) movie of the Dogme 95 movement, a philosophy that emphasises realism throughout the whole film production and was started in reaction to big costly Hollywood fare. However, it’s also a captivating film in its own right, showing the dark secrets hidden away beneath the facades of a wealthy family. It’s a fitting subject matter for the style, which all leads to some chillingly stark scenes and moments. A powerful film.

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Posted by on 29 March, 2012 in Lists, Top 10 of a year

 

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Better late than never: My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2010

Most critics and bloggers put together their Best Of The Year lists at the end of the year. That doesn’t work for me. Many films take a long time before they arrive here in Sweden, a problem hardly alleviated by American studios scheduling a lot of quality stuff for awards season at the tail-end of the year. So by the time the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, I’ve never seen all the films I feel I need to in order to make a list that has any chance of meaning anything.

But by now I feel like I’ve caught up on a lot of my personal must-sees of last year, so the time to make my own list is at hand. That’s not to say I’ve seen all there is to see. I’m particularly underwatched in non-English language films still, not to mention documentaries which people were saying had a banner year in 2010. But the great thing about lists is that they’re never set in stone. This list only reflects my feelings today, and might well look radically different one year from now.

There isn’t a ton of surprises on this list of mine, which I’m okay with. So far I’ve mostly focused on seeing the films people are talking a lot about. As time goes on, I will hear about and track down the smaller films, the forgotten gems, the new cult classics. The further removed you are from a year and the more you see, the more eclectic your list is bound to become. Time changes everything.

So here are my ten favorite movies of 2010 (note: listed as 2010 on IMDB), a particularly strong year of cinema in my opinion. Many films were hard to leave off, but that’s the way it is. No honorable mentions, no consolation prizes, no mercy. Just ten films that I love.

10 – GREENBERG (Noah Baumbach)

“There’s a confidence in you guys that’s horrifying. You’re all ADD and carpal tunnel. You wouldn’t know Agoraphobia if it bit you in the ass, and it makes you mean.”

Some people can’t stand the quirky characters Noah Baumbach comes up with. I can’t get enough of them. In Greenberg, we’re treated to two stand-out examples. One is the titular Robert Greenberg (Ben Stiller), a man angry at the world and obsessed with his own misery. It’s arguably Stiller’s most nuanced and impressive performance, in some ways his own Punch-Drunk Love. The other is Florence (Greta Gerwig), a woman whose life is in turmoil yet she still can’t help but bend over backwards to help people. Gerwig is even better than her co-star. A grimly funny film, true to life if not the one we live.

9 – THE SOCIAL NETWORK (David Fincher)

“Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”

David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin play loose with the truth as they tell the tale of how Facebook came to be. Those wanting the real story ought to look elsewhere. The rest of us can enjoy the quick razor-sharp dialogue, the impressive performance by Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the Trent Reznor-penned score and a fascinating tale of how in the pursuit of connecting people, two friends can drift farther apart than ever.

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Posted by on 13 September, 2011 in Lists, Top 10 of a year

 

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