Friday, April 6, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

I hate when it's only my dislike or apathy toward a genre that keeps me from enjoying a perfectly acceptable movie. And here it has happened. I didn't *hate* this movie, but... it's a spy movie. Which means that as clever or interesting or well-acted as it may be, it's never going to capture my attention the way it should. I struggled to pay attention all the way through, even with my beloved Benedict Cumberbatch's fairly prominent role. I'm always a little disappointed to run into these genre biases, but there's not much I can do about them. Maybe if I watch enough movies, some of these genres will click into place. In the meantime, this gets a middle-of-the-road rating from me. 2.5 stars.

Best Part: It was nice to see Benedict. And Colin Firth. I feel like I haven't seen him in anything in awhile, and I do so like him.
Worst Part: Well, the worst part of the movie-watching experience was right around when I realized I wasn't going to like this movie, but not because of the movie itself. Heh.
Flickchart: #809, below The Circus and above Quiz Show.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Carnage (2011)

I read the original play and liked it, but I felt that it was one of those that had to be *seen*. And I was right. This is a superb cast bringing to light all the viciousness and the hostilities of the characters. It's brutal and fascinating and illuminating. Roman Polanski and the original playwright, Yasmina Reza, worked together on the screenplay, and it is wonderful. Great adaptation. 4 stars.

Best Part: The acting is incredible. I particularly liked the two men - Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly create fascinating characters.
Worst Part: Some of the "let's go back into the room and continue this" excuses seemed extremely thin. I know it was trying to up the tension, but it just seemed silly sometimes.
Flickchart: #361, below Murder By Death and above The Artist.

A Dangerous Method (2011)

This movie started out so well - so fascinating. However, by the end it had become a sentimental relational drama instead of the intriguing psychological drama it was at first. I'm not saying it should have been cold or distant or not discussed the characters' emotions - but I was interested in the scientific advances they were trying to make, not just the question "Will they or won't they have sex?" Disappointing. 3 stars.

Best Part: I was really impressed with Keira Knightley, which is good, because I usually hate her. That was a very pleasant surprise.
Worst Part: The entire last half of the film.
Flickchart: #695, below Moneyball and above Music Within.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

There are a few shining moments in this movie, but overall it suffers from all the typical symptoms of the "quirky indie movie." The characters are all a little too cute, the dialogue a little too snappy, the situations a little too eccentric. Setting the movie in the mental illness ward of a hospital just means it feels a little uncomfortable to see these tropes applied to people who aren't just "quirky," they have genuine issues that they need medical help to get through. However, there are a few *really* nice moments that redeem the movie and let me know that it could have been great. 3 stars.

Best Part: Zach Galifianakis does kind of a beautiful job here. I like his comedic work, but I really hope he does some more semi-dramatic work. He always has this air of... oblivious desperation, and it translates really well into his portrayal of an extremely depressed man here.
Worst Part: The sneaking out sequences were very jarring for me. I kept thinking, "But... but they shouldn't be able to do that. It's not cute, it's kind of disturbing. What if other people did that? People who really shouldn't be sneaking out?"
Flickchart: #411, below The Graduate and above Borstal Boy. Way too high. I think I need to rerank some of the other movies in the 400s and 500s. For example, Borstal Boy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Departed (2006)

I don't like crime movies, as a rule, but I'm always surprised to find I rather like Scorsese's. He's just a good director who knows how to tell a good story, and he focuses on the characters and their dilemmas and morality rather than just showing us a grim series of plot events. The characters are certainly what drew me into this movie, and although I wasn't nearly as blown away by it as a lot of other people were (it's currently rated #22 on Flickchart's global rankings - not even close on mine) I did enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would. Solid. 3.5 stars.

Best Part: DiCaprio and Damon do a great job with their characters and their double identities.
Worst Part: I didn't find the ending particularly satisfying. Not sure what I was hoping for, but that wasn't really it.
Flickchart: #551, below Mars Attacks! and above Manhattan Murder Mystery.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Breaking the Waves (1996)

I've never seen anything by Lars von Trier before, but this one makes me want to go out and hunt down all his others. Emily Watson is incredible in this beautiful but tragic tale of someone willing to go to any lengths for love. That sounds like an IMDb summary for a terrible chick flick tearjerker, but this is a much more complex, difficult movie than that plot synopsis seems to indicate. Unfortunately, I'm realizing as I try to write this review that it's one of those movies that I have trouble articulating my feelings about. This movie is heartbreaking and beautiful and awful and definitely deserves the high rating it's getting, even if I can't exactly tell you why. I'm just going to leave this terrible vague review there, since I doubt I'm going to be able to articulate any better than that any time soon. 4.5 stars

Best Part: Emily Watson. She's amazing in this role. Such a clear character.
Worst Part: I may have to come back to you on this one. Because at the moment I can only remember all the things I love about it, and I can't think of anything on the other side.
Flickchart: #208, below The Sunshine Boys and above American Splendor.