Saturday, January 29, 2011

The King's Speech (2010)

Colin Firth is on a roll. Last year, he moved me to tears with A Single Man, and this year he's done it again. Although Geoffrey Rush's character is also good, it is Firth who is the heart and soul of this movie. We're rooting for him every step of the way. The final 15 minutes of this movie had me on the edge of my seat - I kept holding my breath, hoping he would make it through. It's a bit slow in the middle, but everything around it is so beautifully put together that it all evens out to make this one of my favorites of 2010. 4 stars.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Wild Bunch (1969)

I don't get it. I just don't. I tried to understand this movie, but it's just another one of those classics I'm supposed to appreciate and just can't find the appeal in. It's a long meandering story with disjointed flashbacks that just couldn't keep my attention. 1 star.

A Hard Day's Night (1964)

I am only a casual Beatles fan. As such, I thought this was pleasantly entertaining, but nothing special. Many of the jokes slipped by me (or else they weren't jokes when I thought they were) and although I did chuckle a couple of times, it was never hilarious laughter. The musical performances are also pleasantly entertaining. This whole thing is just very pleasant, and that's all that can be said for it. 3 stars.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

21 Up (1977)

Seeing these people at 7, then at 14, and now again at 21, what's interesting to me is how *few* of them have actually deviated from the plans they laid out for themselves in the earlier installments. The standout is Neil Hughes, who cut a decidedly new path when he left school because he felt he needed to "get away." I found myself extremely interested in how these people were going to progress over the next 7 years. 3.5 stars.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Social Network (2010)

David Fincher has redeemed himself after the disappointing Benjamin Button. With sharp dialogue by Aaron Sorkin and some absolutely phenomenal performances by Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, and Andrew Garfield, it kept me interested from beginning to end (not to mention sparking multiple conversations about how the Internet has changed relationships). I love movies about nerdy people without friends doing stuff they're good at. 4.5 stars.

Seven Up! (1964)

A fascinating beginning to the Up documentary series, where all the children in question are seven years old. The varied backgrounds show up in very interesting ways - one child asks what a university is, while others rattle off their entire education plan. It's a short film, just over 30 minutes, which made me wish there had been a bit more time for me to sort out which kid was which so I could connect them in the later documentaries. Well worth the watch, though. Can't wait to continue the series. 3.5 stars.

7 Plus Seven (1970)

Not as interesting as its predecessor, simply because of the age of the children. Not that 14-year-olds aren't interesting, but they are old enough to be self-conscious about what they say (and therefore filter it) but not quite old enough to figure out how to state their opinions clearly. However, it's still a fascinating watch. I particularly liked how the filmmaker tied in so much of the original footage - I would have had a horrible time remembering who was who otherwise. 3 stars.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Despite some of the most visually stunning moments EVER on screen (in particular her dance/fight sequence at the beginning and the finale in the snow), the story jumped between serious spy story, epic romance, and some sort of fantastic fable. It just doesn't bode well for the movie if I giggled when a main character died and then laughed even harder when they came back to life. I would watch it again, but only in the original language with subtitles off so I can just enjoy the visuals without being distracted by the story. 3 stars.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Brilliantly written, terrifying play about a couple's very dark, twisted marriage. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are unbelievably good in this adaptation of Edward Albee's play. Every moment is interesting. 4.5 stars.

Modern Times (1936)

Touted as one of Chaplin's finest films, it was not one of my personal favorites. It's more plot-heavy than gag-heavy, although there are some wonderful moments (such as his being unable to get near the impatient restaurant customer because out of nowhere, it seems everyone in the world has come to the restaurant to dance). It also is far less about "modern times" than the title would have you assume, and feels like a series of vignettes that just happen to be entertaining rather than a coherently themed story. Not bad, but I prefer The Circus and The Gold Rush. 3 stars.