Wednesday, December 28, 2011

They Were Expendable (1945)

I never quite know what to do with movies like this. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with it, but I didn't find myself interested in the story even once and find myself, just moments after finishing it, struggling to remember the main events of the movie. I have to work extra hard to be interested in war movies... and John Wayne... and this movie definitely didn't make it easy for me. I feel bad assigning a star rating to it because I have a feeling it's probably much better than I felt it was, but, man, did I fight to get into this. No "Best Part/Worst Part" here because I can honestly remember so little of it. A movie I forget immediately after it ends just doesn't work for me. 1 star?

FlickChart: #1504, below New In Town and above Hidalgo.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Withnail & I (1987)

I feel like I should have liked this movie. I like British movies as a rule and British comedies almost all the time. Somehow, however, I never connected with this. I felt like it was a bunch of jokes I couldn't get and a bunch of characters I couldn't understand doing things I couldn't get interested in. I might have to try and rewatch it someday, because I really don't want to believe that a movie I should have liked so much could have... bored me as much as it did. 2 stars.

Best Part: The scenes where the two of them were panicking about something were usually pretty entertaining.
Worst Part: The fact that as I try to remember a moment I particularly disliked about it, I can't actually remember most of the movie.
FlickChart: #774, below Throw Momma From the Train and above Fun With Dick and Jane. I wish this movie rhymed with them, too.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winnie the Pooh (2011)

There are very few words to describe this movie that aren't things like "adorable." This movie is very clearly made for children, as it should be, and it is appealing to older audiences like myself mostly for nostalgic reasons. The characters are all there exactly as they should be, the plot is a combination of several of Milne's original stories (which are delightful), the songs are cute. Combining all the stories into one movie makes it feel a little bit unfinished, but this is a great choice for a kids' movie. So much better than most of the nonsense churned out for them these days. 3.5 stars.

Best Part: I loved the characters interacting with the book, like in the original movies. So much nostalgia.
Worst Part: The scene where Pooh and Piglet try to get the beehive accidentally made Pooh seem a little like a bully, forcing his much smaller friend to do all the hard parts. I just felt bad for Piglet.
FlickChart: #620, below Zodiac and above Harry and the Hendersons.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Beginners (2011)

Wow, the trailers for this movie lie. They make it seem like the central focus is Christopher Plummer's character coming out of the closet, when clearly this film's protagonist is Ewan McGregor's character Oliver. It's a gentler movie than the trailers imply, and a more thematically united film, and a much better one. The different stories are told in snapshots (both literally and figuratively). A moment here, a moment there, some moments repeated later in the film, yet none of it feels disjointed. It all feels connected and it is all somehow very beautiful.

I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts about this. Maybe someday I'll have pieced them together in my mind and can come back and add onto this review with coherent thoughts. For now, let's just give it 4 stars and leave it.

Best Part: I thoroughly enjoy how serious Oliver looks all the time, but then he makes very silly comments. I enjoy when people do that in real life, and I enjoy it in movies.
Worst Part: I don't know exactly where or how it happened, but there was a chunk in the middle where the film just quietly lost my interest. It came back at the end, but that's why this film hovered in the 400s of Flickchart instead of the 300s.
FlickChart: #406, below Rabbit Hole and above Guys and Dolls.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Slipper and the Rose (1976)

Overall, this is a cute little retelling of Cinderella, with likable songs by the Sherman Brothers and some fantastic dance numbers. However, it runs into the same problem many adaptations of Cinderella do: Cinderella herself is a boring character. She goes along with what she is told to do and seldom seems to have any thoughts not actually put into her head. Some adaptations make Cinderella an extremely kind character who is loyal and loving to her stepfamily because thinking ill of anyone is impossible. Some make her feisty and independent but set up a clear reason why she has to stay in her abusive home. Unfortunately, The Slipper and the Rose goes neither way, so Cinderella remains a bland character. I rooted for the Prince, but Cinderella barely even registered on my radar.

Now, all that to say... this isn't at all a bad movie. Like I said, the songs are fun, and all the characters except for Cinderella herself are interesting to watch (the Fairy Godmother especially has some fun new character aspects in this version). It's a cute story but doesn't delve far enough beyond fairy tale archetypes to flesh out the characters I wanted them to. 3 stars.

Best Part: I really enjoyed the unexpectedly cheerful song in the family crypt.
Worst Part: It really was what I said up there. Every time Cinderella showed up, it was tough to stay interested, although some of her songs were very pretty.
FlickChart: #605, above Who Framed Roger Rabbit and below Father of the Bride.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

This is a sweet, charming romantic comedy. At first I thought it would just be a feel good movie without any actual laughs, but as it kept going, I found myself chuckling a few times. There's nothing overly special about it, but the characters are entertaining, the jokes funny, and it just left me with an overall satisfied feeling at the end. I'm sure that as time goes by this movie will kind of fade away into obscurity, but for right now I can definitely say I enjoyed this flick. 3.5 stars.

Best Part: The phone conversation between Steve Carell and Julianne Moore when she's asking him for house help was absolutely adorable.
Worst Part: The whole movie does, unfortunately, send the "no never actually means no" message. The subplot of the kid and the babysitter disturbs me mostly because of that (and also I'm not entirely sure of the ages involved, which puts it in kind of an icky place).
FlickChart: #423, above Death to Smoochy and below The Terminal.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homicide (1991)

It takes me awhile to get into David Mamet. I've seen several of his films and always feel like I should like them and then somehow don't, with the exception of Glengarry Glen Ross (but that one I only liked after struggling through the play a couple times before it finally clicked). I felt like I came closer on this one than on many of his others, but something still didn't quite click for me. I kept almost liking it, but then the ending was far too abrupt for me - maybe that was part of the point, but it just didn't quite work for me. 2.5 stars.

Best Part: Joe Mantegna's character was definitely interesting to watch. When I was drawn into the movie, it was because of him.
Worst Part: Mamet's dialogue can sound either incredibly natural or incredibly stilted... and there are far too many moments in here where it sounds stilted.
FlickChart: #1037, below Hans Christian Andersen and above Maurice, which is all goofed up, because it was way better than Maurice, so something's off.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Mel Brooks is very hit-or-miss for me. The Producers is one of my all-time favorite comedies, Spaceballs is one of my all-time most hated, and I was only okay with Young Frankenstein, so I didn't know how I'd feel about this one. However, it was pretty solid. The premise was interesting, the jokes worked for me most of the time, and even though I didn't laugh out loud often, I was definitely entertained. Is it my #6 comedy of all-time like the AFI thinks it should be? No, but it was a fun one. 4 stars.

Best Part: Although I'm about to say the ending's the worst part, I did dissolve into crazy giggles during the food fight when the Hitler actor is standing on the counter madly saluting.
Worst Part: The ending got very meta and self-aware, which rubs me the wrong way. It almost worked, but not quite, and I still found myself irritated.
FlickChart: #351, below Easy A and above Philadelphia.

Monday, December 12, 2011

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

I admit, it wasn't like I was a big G.I. Joe fan to begin with. It wasn't ever really part of my childhood. But there have been movies that I enjoyed even though I didn't know the franchise/series/characters. This is not one of them. These are the thinnest characters I have possibly ever seen in any movie ever, a pretty awkwardly strung together plot, and then just a lot of explosions, which doesn't really make up for the rest of it. With a large group of people, this could be a fun movie to mock as you watch it, but watching it on my own wasn't even remotely entertaining. 1 star.

Best Part: Hey, Christopher Eccleston! I do love him.
Worst Part: The redheaded chick solemnly intoning that she doesn't believe in attraction because it's just an emotion. I laughed out loud. Is she Sheldon Cooper's sister? Nobody says that kind of stuff.
FlickChart: #1231, right below Duane Hopwood (which should be higher up on the list) and right above Bitter Moon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beautiful Boy (2010)

Sometimes there's a movie that just punches me in the gut. It reaches in and twists me up on such a deeply emotional level that I have great difficulty communicating about it afterward. The Angels in America miniseries was the last thing that did that for me, although that was a much more positive ending and message. There's so much pain in this movie, so many heartwrenching moments, and there aren't any answers. There's no resolution. There can't be, for something like this. All our two main characters can do is desperately cling to whatever they can get a hold of and hope to make it through each passing moment (Michael Sheen and Maria Bello give amazing, amazing performances here).

My initial plan for the evening involved moving on to another movie after this, but it somehow seems... wrong to watch anything else immediately after this. 4.5 stars (possibly moving up to 5 after it settles in my mind).

Best Part: It's impossible for me to choose, so I'm going to go with that early scene with the police talking to the parents - that was the moment that sold me on the movie.
Worst Part: I can't think of one right now. I genuinely can't.
FlickChart: #93, below The Lives of Others and above Stand By Me.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Scarface (1983)

This movie has some good moments. Tony Montana's a fairly interesting character, and there are a few really interesting images (the iconic one of him sitting behind the pile of cocaine on his desk is indeed a great one) but for the most part, it just didn't work for me. The overall story feels aimless, and the cheesy music, dramatic close-ups, and slow motion at heightened moments were just silly and took away all sense of actual emotional conflict. It kept yanking me out of any investment I had in the story. 2.5 stars.

Best Part: Probably the famous final scene. I did like that.
Worst Part: The "oh, here comes a dramatic moment" gimmicks.
FlickChart: #921, above Holiday and below Paycheck.