Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)


IMDb plot summary: A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Caine.

I'm torn here. There are parts of this that are really super duper fun -- it's silly, the gadgets are super fun, Colin Firth is delightfully dry, Samuel L. Jackson is delightfully ridiculous -- but it's also ramping up some really unpleasant stuff. Like I'm not a huge fan of not one, but two, horrifying mass murder scenes filmed like exciting action sequences and set to rock anthems. That's a bit much, even for me. I'm not a huge fan of so obviously granting our hero a random woman as a reward at the end. I'm not a huge fan of how the Kingsmen make such a big deal about not taking a life but they want to recruit someone who'd be 100% willing to shoot an innocent dog, no questions asked (does this not seem like the exact kind of person you wouldn't want?). It's kind of like going on an awesome date with a cool, funny, good-looking person who every so often just kicks you in the shins. After a couple of kicks you start thinking, "Hmm. Maybe this date isn't going so well after all." I think I can ignore the shin-kicking enough to remember our time together fondly, but not enough to want to get together again.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Kingsman: The Secret Service > Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
Kingsman: The Secret Service < Say Anything...
Kingsman: The Secret Service > Men in Black
Kingsman: The Secret Service > Source Code
Kingsman: The Secret Service < Watchmen
Kingsman: The Secret Service > Blazing Saddles
Kingsman: The Secret Service < An Education
Kingsman: The Secret Service < Army of Darkness
Kingsman: The Secret Service < Queen of Katwe
Kingsman: The Secret Service < 2012
Kingsman: The Secret Service > The Nice Guys

Final spot: #818 out of 2763. That seems a bit high, but we'll let it sit for now.

Monkey Business (1952)


IMDb plot summary: A chemist finds his personal and professional life turned upside down when one of his chimpanzees finds the fountain of youth.
Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn, and Marilyn Monroe.

A silly 1950s comedy with Cary Grant was a good bet for me as far as a movie I'd probably enjoy. Unfortunately, the primary joke of the movie doesn't work very well for me. I think I counted two chuckles and a lot of impatient looking at the clock. I do think they did an excellent job of making both leads refreshingly even-tempered and reasonable as their normal selves, so it was clear when they were *not* being that. In a lesser movie, there'd have been a lot more of them blowing up at each other after the "episodes" ended for things they did during them. Overall the concept is just an excuse for the leads to run around acting silly, and the brand of silliness they're going for here isn't bad in and of itself, but it just doesn't work for me. (Plus, there's a *really* uncomfortable way-too-long segment full of Native American stereotypes that made me squirmy. It would have been easier to factor that out if I'd liked the rest of the movie more.)

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Monkey Business < Another Thin Man
Monkey Business > The English Patient
Monkey Business < Lilo & Stitch
Monkey Business < The Forest
Monkey Business > Bedtime Story
Monkey Business > Before I Fall
Monkey Business > Young Mr. Lincoln
Monkey Business > The Visitor
Monkey Business < A Man Called Peter

Flickchart crapped out on me at this point, but it's in a pretty accurate spot: #1910 out of 2762.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Song of the Sea (2014)


IMDb plot summary: Ben, a young Irish boy, and his little sister Saoirse, a girl who can turn into a seal, go on an adventure to free the fairies and save the spirit world.
Directed by Tomm Moore. Starring David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, and Lisa Hannigan.

This is so lovely. In more than one way it reminded me of a Studio Ghibli film, with its strong and relatable child protagonists and its immersion in cultural myths (though these myths are Celtic, not Japanese). The animation is really stunning, and even if I hadn't liked the story as much as I did this would be worth watching just to look at it. Such a beautiful movie.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Song of the Sea > Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
Song of the Sea > The Front
Song of the Sea < I've Loved You So Long
Song of the Sea < Nativity!
Song of the Sea > Rock of Ages (why is this still so high on my chart?)
Song of the Sea < Center Stage
Song of the Sea > Super 8
Song of the Sea > The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
Song of the Sea < The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Song of the Sea > Gone Girl
Song of the Sea < The Cranes are Flying
Final spot: #567 out of 2761.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Lovely & Amazing (2001)


IMDb plot summary: Self-esteem and insecurity are at the heart of this comedy about the relationship between a mother and her three confused daughters.
Directed by Nicole Holofcener. Starring Catherine Keener, Emily Mortimer, Brenda Blethyn, and Raven Goodwin.

You ever watch one of those movies that move you deeply but you didn't realize it until the end of the movie when suddenly you were crying for no known reason? I'm still not sure I can actually verbalize the sum of this movie's parts, but all its parts are incredible. Each scene just seems astonishingly... true. It helps that such incredible actors are cast. (Can we all just agree the world would be a better place if Catherine Keener was in every movie?) As the story went on I was struggling to put together each (marvelous) individual scene into its place in the narrative as a whole, but in the end I'm not even sure that matters as much as it usually would for me, because each piece of it is so good. This is one that's going to stay with me for awhile and that I expect to revisit in the future.

(Note: I just actually looked the movie up and it's by Nicole Holofcener WHICH MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. I watched her film Walking and Talking as well recently and was similarly struck by the natural truthfulness of every moment. Obviously I need to see everything this woman has written.)

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Lovely & Amazing > Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
Lovely & Amazing > The Front
Lovely & Amazing < I've Loved You So Long
Lovely & Amazing > Robin Hood (1973)
Lovely & Amazing < Jaws
Lovely & Amazing > The Shape of Water
Lovely & Amazing > The Great Gatsby (2013)
Lovely & Amazing < The Joy Luck Club
Lovely & Amazing < The Virgin Spring
Lovely & Amazing < Philomena
Lovely & Amazing > The Wolf of Wall Street

Final spot: #450 out of 2760.

Monday, April 9, 2018

A Quiet Place (2018)


IMDb plot summary: A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.
Directed by John Krasinski. Starring Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe.

This was really pretty incredible. So perfectly put together from beginning to end. It builds the tension well and develops the characters impressively with so little dialogue. I also loved how it was a great mix of horror movie and post-apocalyptic movie and family drama. There are layers to this!

4.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
A Quiet Place > Dead Man Walking
A Quiet Place > Quartet
A Quiet Place > Glengarry Glen Ross
A Quiet Place > Some Like It Hot
A Quiet Place < Back to the Future Part II
A Quiet Place < Rope
A Quiet Place > Strangers on a Train
A Quiet Place < 127 Hours
A Quiet Place < Sleuth
A Quiet Place < Dial M for Murder
A Quiet Place > Speed
Final spot: #148 out of 2759. That is... higher than I expected. But I think it deserves it.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Castle in the Sky (1986)


IMDb plot summary: A young boy and a girl with a magic crystal must race against pirates and foreign agents in a search for a legendary floating castle.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Starring Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman, and Mark Hamill.

This is in the higher echelon of Miyazaki films, for me. It's got some of his best world and character design (the robots!). Just an excellent movie all around.

4.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Castle in the Sky > Dead Man Walking
Castle in the Sky > Baby Driver
Castle in the Sky > Garden State
Castle in the Sky < The Birdcage
Castle in the Sky < Once
Castle in the Sky < The Wizard of Oz
Castle in the Sky > Field of Dreams
Castle in the Sky < Broadway Danny Rose
Castle in the Sky > Grease
Castle in the Sky > High Noon

Final spot: #314 out of 2758.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Jackie Brown (1997)


IMDb plot summary: A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life.
Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, and Bridget Fonda.

Dang, Tarantino makes cool-looking movies. I've been trying the past couple weeks to watch more mindfully for visual elements in film, and this was just... so many screenshots. The poster makes it look so much more boring.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Jackie Brown > The Lost Weekend
Jackie Brown > Sweet Smell of Success
Jackie Brown < Garden State
Jackie Brown < Kiss Me, Stupid!
Jackie Brown < Doctor Strange
Jackie Brown < Upside Down
Jackie Brown > The Departed
Jackie Brown < Marty
Jackie Brown > Serendipity
Jackie Brown < Cannibal!: The Musical

Final spot: #660 out of 2757.