Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Color Me Kubrick (2005)

Color Me Kubrick advertises itself as a comedy, but there are very few laughs to be found here. It's a wonderful premise and John Malkovich is fantastic in it, but the overall movie falls very flat. Oddly, the central plotline of trying to bring Conway down isn't enough to carry the movie and it ends up relying on the vignettes, which would be more interesting if it wasn't largely the same story over and over with not enough variation. Disappointing. 2.5 stars.

Caddyshack (1980)

A slightly uneven, but mostly entertaining comedy. Bill Murray and Chevy Chase particularly develop very funny characters, and although a little Rodney Dangerfield goes an extremely long way, he kind of fades out the second half of the movie and so becomes much less annoying. I kept changing my mind on whether I thought actually seeing the gopher worked or not, but Bill Murray's character more than made up for that weird part of the plotline. Nicely done. 4 stars.

Evil (2003)

A film that manages to be both brutal yet (oddly) inspiring. Erik is an extremely likeable main character, and watching his desperate attempt to fix things the right way is heartwrenching. The supporting cast members are all excellent, too, particularly Henrik Lundstrom as his roommate Pierre. Captivating. 4.5 stars.

Monday, May 30, 2011

In the Bedroom (2001)

A brilliantly acted, brilliantly written drama about loss. It reminds me somewhat of Mystic River, but holds together better. It is quiet and very contained but all fits together perfectly. 4.5 stars.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

White Nights (1985)

This movie has a fun really entertaining scenes (the duo dance scene was absolutely marvelous) but overall, it doesn't know what it wants to be - a thriller, a political drama, an inspirational dance movie... It jumps all over the place and doesn't ever really land anywhere for long. 2.5 stars.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

sex, lies, and videotape (1989)

A really interesting little drama. Very well-acted and well-scripted. I found myself intrigued as to where it was going to head next. It doesn't necessarily go the way I expected it to, but it was a fascinating watch. One of the few movies I've watched recently where I didn't find myself constantly watching how much time was left. 4 stars.

Lolita (1997)

I haven't read the original novel, but I have seen Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of the same story. Presented with both film versions, it's difficult for me to choose which one I preferred. Kubrick's was darkly comic, playing up Humbert's paranoia and the constant struggle of choosing a teen or pre-teen as a lover. Lyne's version strips away all the comedy and presents it instead as a tragedy - the scene where he cries and begs Lo to tell him who she is cheating on him with is such a sad, pathetic moment.

I think the melodrama wears thin in the middle of this one where Kubrick's didn't, although I prefer the ending of this one. All in all, a very good remake - certainly stands up to its predecessor. 4 stars.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005)

Despite a whole lot of awkward dubbing, this manages to be a pretty entertaining homage to Hitchcock, both with overt references and quieter ones. I'm not very familiar with Argento's work, but I enjoyed this. A satisfying little thriller. 3 stars.

Morvern Callar (2002)

This drama wanders around and around and ends in a stunningly tragic final act, but takes far too long getting there. It lost my interest long before the payoff. I remain unimpressed with Samantha Morton. 1.5 stars.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Tourist (2010)

(Mild spoilers ahead.) I went into this film with very low expectations. I'd heard rather terrible things about it. Turns out, though, I had a ridiculously good time watching it. Yes, the final plot twist makes no sense. Yes, it moves at an unexpectedly leisurely pace for a thriller. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps it's actually because I *don't* like action movies that I was able to get into this one, but it's just a very fun ride, nonsensical or not. It is obviously nowhere near the quality of the director's previous film, The Lives of Others, but neither is The Tourist anything terrible. It's just fun and silly and thoroughly enjoyable. 3.5 stars.

Tangled (2010)

Although it has a few flaws (the moment where she realizes she's the lost princess is rather ridiculous, and there are some rather annoying cliches that never get fixed) it is overall a very worthy addition to the Disney Princess canon. Certainly more entertaining than the mediocre Princess and the Frog. Wonderful voice acting as well - Donna Murphy plays a wonderful villain, Zachary Levi is charming as Flynn, and Mandy Moore's dainty little girl sound works well for the character she's been given. Nicely done, Disney. 3.5 stars.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Eyes Without a Face (1960)

A sufficiently creepy (if bizarre) horror movie from the 1960s. It's reminiscent of a dark art film rather than typical horror, especially toward the end. Disturbing without being tasteless - nicely done. 3.5 stars.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blood Waters of Dr. Z (1971)

Some bad movies are entertaining... some are just unbelievably boring. This is one of the boring ones. Even the barrage of jokes from MST3K can't help this one. 0.5 stars.

Wilde (1997)

Stephen Fry is perfectly cast as Oscar Wilde (there really is no one else I could imagine playing this role so well) but aside from that, this biopic falls a bit flat. It focuses almost entirely on the playwright's sexuality, without ever really exploring, for example, how he felt about his art. As such, the character is only drawn in reference to his relationships with others, and is never fleshed out as his own person. Acceptable, but disappointing. 3 stars.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Detective (1954)

An enjoyable detective story that has an interesting character at the center of it. At first I wasn't impressed by Alec Guinness as Father Brown, but he grew on me and by the end of the film I thought he was very well-cast. I admit I haven't read Chesterton's original stories, and while this doesn't inspire me to read all of them, I'm mildly interested in checking one or two out to see how well the film fits. 3 stars.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987)

I appreciate the understated nature of this movie, but found it difficult to connect with for the first hour or so because of it. Once I got into the movie I liked it a lot, but it took a long time to get me there. The final scenes are wonderful - very moving in a quiet way. 3 stars.

Devil (2010)

There's nothing very special about this movie. I'm a big fan of Shyamalan's (I even enjoyed The Happening - probably the most unpopular movie opinion I've ever held) but this was set up as a generic horror movie and then failed to be scary, instead being an extremely heavy-handed message on forgiveness. Not worth it. 1.5 stars.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Megamind (2010)

A funny, original children's film with very few missteps. Certainly a better option than Despicable Me, the other animated supervillain movie of the summer. While Despicable Me was basically just the age-old "tough guy has his heart warmed by some kids, isn't that sweet" story with a supervillain in the tough guy role, Megamind tells its own story where the superhero/supervillain powers are essential to it. The voice acting is good, the dialogue is witty, the jokes are unexpected. Very solid. 4 stars.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Water for Elephants (2011)

A solid little movie drama based on a solid little book drama. The atmosphere is consistent and a very interesting one. Robert Pattinson is surprisingly good in a legitimate romantic lead role, and Christoph Waltz is splendid as the sleazy ringmaster. 3 stars.

Dear Frankie (2004)

I watched this with not very high expectations, waiting to hate this movie, and that never happened, which was a pleasant surprise. However, it never really took off either. Gerard Butler has zero charm or charisma, so it was a little weird to me to see their group instantly bonding with him over so short a time. Jack McElhone as Frankie was good - much less irritating than most child actors - and Emily Mortimer is nearly always a likeable actress. But it just never went anywhere after the first hour of build-up. 2.5 stars.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'night, Mother (1986)

I was a fan of the original play and this is a marvelous film adaptation. Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft are both wonderful in their roles. The script follows the original pretty closely, so the dialogue is well-done. With a premise that toes the line between tragic and very darkly comic, it would be easy to lose the overarching story to either melodrama or unintentional humor. However, this film does neither. It's a moving, heartbreaking story. Very good adaptation of one of my favorite plays. 4 stars.

Beauty and the Beast (1946)

Although I like a lot of things about this adaptation, I found the relationship between the Beast and Belle herself to be extremely rushed, and I ended up not really being invested in it. The characters of the scheming brother and sisters were wonderful, though, and I loved seeing that back story. The set and effects and costuming were all beautiful, lending itself to a very fairy tale-like atmosphere. If you're looking for a generic fairy tale story without deep character development for the leads, this is one of those done gorgeously. If you're picky about characterization in stories like I am, you may be less enthralled. 3 stars.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Something's Gotta Give (2003)

There's a movie here somewhere, buried under piles and piles of awkward cliches, stilted dialogue, and surprisingly dreadful acting. (When your most charming, best-acted character is played by Keanu Reeves, you might want to rethink your movie.) It is neither funny, romantic, nor dramatic, the ending is abrupt and absolutely unsatisfying, and all the characters are unbelievably awkward. I hoped to like this movie in spite of itself, but that possibility was off in the distance about 30 minutes in, and getting further away every minute. 0.5 stars.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lord of the Flies (1963)

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this adaptation, but it's an extremely effective one. It's cold and ruthless and all the child actors hit exactly the right notes (something that's unbelievably difficult for young actors to do). The final scene could have been overwrought and melodramatic, but instead of opts for subtlety and is significantly stronger for it. An excellent movie version of an excellent book. 4 stars.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)

I'm a Woody Allen fangirl, and as such I really *enjoy* all his films. However, more and more these days they're simply long meanderings through people's lives without any point to them. Don't get me wrong, I like meandering through Allen's character's minds. But it's not terribly substantial. 3 stars.

The Virgin Spring (1960)

An extremely moving, tragic story of a family's response to their daughter's death. Not at all what I expected it to be. It moves somewhat slowly but is completely mesmerizing. This is the first Ingmar Bergman film I've seen, and it certainly makes me want to find more. 4 stars.

Friday, May 13, 2011

No Country for Old Men (2007)

I found myself more drawn to the technical elements than the story than anything else, especially toward the end when the story apparently doesn't really matter anymore anyway. That being said, some of those tech elements are wonderful. In particular I loved the shot when Anton is sitting in the hotel and you see the blood slowly flowing toward his boots. That's just a really nice shot. I was also fascinated to realized that what made Anton's appearance so scary was not necessarily Javier Bardem's face - he usually just looks like your average tough/rugged guy - but it was his funky hair that somehow made him look like the creepiest person alive. For someone who's more into what a film looks like than I am and less into the story being told, this would probably be a much more entertaining movie. 2.5 stars.

The Lost Skeleton Returns Again (2009)

Not nearly as entertaining as the first one, but it still makes me laugh. Some wonderful callbacks to the original film ("Sounds in the jungle?") and all the same entertaining characters. If you like the original, definitely worth watching, but if you're choosing between the two, this one is the lesser. 3.5 stars.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Waiting... (2005)

This movie had a good moment or two throughout, but for the most part it was just too uncomfortable to enjoy. It certainly made me want to never go to a restaurant again, much less work in one. I find Ryan Reynolds unbelievably obnoxious when he plays these types of characters. Justin Long's character was the only really worth rooting for. Iffy at best. 2 stars.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Name of the Rose (1986)

This had been on my "to-watch" list for a long time, and currently I'm not entirely sure why I was so eager to see it. It was fine, but it functioned better as a murder mystery than as the mysterious, supernaturally surreal story it occasionally tried to tell. There's nothing at all special about this movie and I suspect I'll have forgotten much of it in the next month. 2.5 stars.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Inside Man (2006)

The opening moments of this movie are great, but then it becomes rather predictable, and in the end the only character I was invested in was Clive Owen. I'm not much for detective/crime movies anyway, and this one never took off and convinced me to keep watching. I have a feeling I was supposed to like it...but I didn't. 1.5 stars.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rabbit Hole (2010)

This is a capable, but not great, production of David Lindsay-Abaire's wonderful play. It's all a bit too melodramatic, but Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman, for the most part, hold onto their roles. Miles Teller especially stands out for me - he's the only member of the cast who doesn't once overdramatize what he does or says. 4 stars.