Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan has done it again. The guy just can't make a less-than-awesome movie. Inception has an intelligent plot, interesting characters, great acting, some phenomenal action sequences (I particularly liked the one where Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character fights the guy in the hotel, as the room spins madly around them). I was glued to the screen the entire time. Very, very well done. One of my favorites of the year. 4.5 stars.

Logan's Run (1976)

Roger Ebert's review hit the nail on the head for this movie, when he said it "delivers a certain amount of fun, once it stops taking itself seriously." The movie is utter nonsense, incredibly cheesy, and bizarrely acted, but it's somehow extremely entertaining, and not even necessarily in a "so bad it's good" kind of way. It's just pure silly. 3 stars.

The Dinner Game (1998)

I had high hopes for this movie. After seeing Dinner For Schmucks, which wasn't too bad, I figured the French original would be ten times better. But it somehow left me a little cold. I never really laughed or cared much about the characters. Not a bad movie, and I'd definitely recommend it to people who haven't already seen the other, because the premise is still good. But this was a disappointing movie for me. 3 stars.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Other Side of Sunday (1996)

A very natural, very nicely done coming-of-age story about a girl in a very religious family. It's both a bit sacred and a bit blasphemous. Its emotional grip wasn't especially compelling, but it was a well done movie. 3 stars.

Roberta (1935)

By far not the best of the films Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers did together. In fact, they're hardly in this one, delegated to background characters while far less interesting or appealing ones take the main stage. Altogether, a very forgettable musical. 2.5 stars.

Top Hat (1935)

A mildly entertaining musical, but not nearly enough dance numbers for the stars. The plot is fluffy and enjoyable, but occasionally clouded by an attempt at melodrama. 3 stars.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

The cast of characters is silly, but once you allow yourself to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the B-movie quality of it, it's actually kind of an enjoyable film. Far too much attempt at plot and not enough attempt at scares, though. Vincent Price is thoroughly entertaining (as he always is in this kind of film). 2 stars.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Extremities (1986)

Based on a play, this is a compelling story with two distinct halves to it. The acting is not all that great, although Farrah Fawcett holds her own, but the dialogue is sharp and the story believable. I'd be interested in seeing a stage adaptation of it to see if a change in acting would push this from merely "pretty good" to "very good." 3.5 stars.

Dinner For Schmucks (2010)

Although it has moments where it relies too heavily on crude sexual humor, overall this movie is somehow charming and sweet. Steve Carell is impossibly awkward but somehow very likeable, and Paul Rudd is believable as the man torn between sympathy for and disgust with Carell. The highlight of the entire movie for me, however, was the appearance of Chris O'Dowd (from my favorite Brit sitcom, The IT Crowd) as the blind swordsman. Not a bad movie, but not a great one. 3 stars.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Killing of Sister George (1968)

I can understand this movie being culturally significant, but it just isn't a very good story. The set up is a good one, but each character behaves bizarrely, and I'm never sure whether they're trying to show us that these characters are bizarre and broken, or whether they're trying to make some kind of "all lesbians have this funky powerplay thing going on." The ending didn't make the least bit of sense, either. Definitely not worth watching. 1.5 stars.

Date Night (2010)

Tina Fey and Steve Carell are thoroughly entertaining in this movie. I laughed out loud several times. It's nothing that will stick with me for years afterward, but it's a very enjoyable Friday night chick flick. 3.5 stars.

David Copperfield (1935)

Though Freddie Bartholomew is a surprisingly compelling young actor, the movie as a whole is like the book: long, sprawling, feeling more like an aimless documentary of someone's life rather than any kind of cohesive story. 1.5 stars.

The Full Monty (1997)

An extremely entertaining British comedy that handles the idea of male stripping far more elegantly than you'd expect. Rather than being a tasteless sex comedy, it's just your average story of some guys who are looking to reclaim their roles as men. I laughed out loud more than once, and the final scene held a note of triumph that made the entire movie feel very redemptive as a whole. 4 stars.

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (2004)

What IS the purpose of this movie? Nothing about it is redemptive, nor does it inspire any kind of action to prevent these kinds of things from happening. It's one of those films that seem to have come about when someone said, "How many horrible things can we have happen to a young boy?" Nothing worth seeing in this but 2 hours of unnecessary misery. 0.5 stars.

Wedding Crashers (2005)

Surprisingly heartwarming, but disappointingly not-that-funny. Those who enjoy an abundance of sex-related jokes are more likely to enjoy this than I did. I found some of it to be over the top. There were enough entertaining moments to keep me going, but I wouldn't watch it again. 2.5 stars.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

I can't think of enough good things to say about this movie. I loved every minute of it. The second time I went to see it in theaters, I commented to the friend I was with that right from the beginning, I just couldn't stop smiling. It's a fast-paced, entertaining underdog story filled with video game references, sudden music interludes, and tiny jokes that fly by you the first time you watch it but pop out at you the more you see it. I'm going to go ahead and rate this five stars, something I haven't done since seeing Moulin Rouge. 5 stars.

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

There's nothing wrong with this movie, but its worth for me hinges on a few particularly interesting scenes, not the overall arc of the story. Much more likely to be enjoyed by film enthusiasts (partly because of the subject matter and partly because, oh em gee, it has subtitles and stuff). 3 stars.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

David Mamet's dialogue is unbelievably sharp in this adaptation of his play, and the performances are absolutely perfect. They speak every line as if it were the most natural thing to say in the world. Jack Lemmon in particular is absolutely amazing as the man desperate to make a sale no matter what. Excellent drama. 4 stars.

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

Although it does have a few entertaining moments ("The dough must have fallen in the tool chest"), overall this is not Keaton's best film. It drags and waits far too long between jokes. Buster Keaton's mostly-plotless shorts are usually a more entertaining watch than his longer films. 2.5 stars.

Convict 13 (1920)

A thoroughly entertaining short set inside a prison, with some great laugh-out-loud moments. 3 stars.

Daydreams (1922)

One of Buster Keaton's least plot-driven shorts, but also one of his funniest. Even the oddly morbid ending made me laugh out loud. Not sure why this one remains so unknown, it's very funny. 3.5 stars.

Forgiving Dr. Mengele (2006)

An extremely interesting documentary about a survivor of the Mengele twin experiments in Auschwitz, who decides she needs to forgive Dr. Mengele and the rest of the Nazis, as an act of self-healing (releasing herself from their hold on her through bitterness). Understandably, she meets with a lot of resistance as she tries to teach other people that they too need to forgive. The movie does a wonderful job of showing the ways people reacted to her message, both good and bad. I'm not usually one for documentaries, but this one kept my attention from the beginning to the end. Fascinating story, and I'm glad it was told. 4 stars.