Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Albert Nobbs (2011)

IMDb plot summary: Albert Nobbs struggles to survive in late 19th century Ireland, where women aren't encouraged to be independent. Posing as a man, so she can work as a butler in Dublin's most posh hotel, Albert meets a handsome painter and looks to escape the lie she has been living.
Directed by Rodrigo Garcia. Starring Glen Close, Mia Wasikowska, and Janet McTeer.

While there are a couple of moments here that are interesting, and Glenn Close does an amazing job playing her character, the movie is seriously hampered by a pretty awful script. The acting is good and the story is compelling, but the script tells it in the clumsiest way possible. There is a huge amount of potential just thrown away. Disappointing.

1.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1485 out of 2158, below JFK and above About Last Night...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (2006)

IMDb plot summary: A girl who thinks she is a combat cyborg checks into a mental hospital, where she encounters other psychotics. Eventually, she falls for a man who thinks he can steal people's souls.
Directed by Chan-wook Park. Starring Su-jeong Lim, Rain, Hie-jin Choi, and Yong-nyeo Lee.

(Vague spoilers ahead.)

Wow. Well, this movie is NOTHING if not fascinating. The characters are interesting, the story compelling, and the visuals are gorgeous and unique. However, I was really unsatisfied with the way it ended. After a really great hour and a half, the final 15-20 minutes just... didn't work at all for me. To the point where it almost undid everything I enjoyed about the rest of the movie. Maybe a rewatch someday would change my opinions if I knew what to expect, but right now it's left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It gets a medium high rating, though, because I loved most of it so much.

3 stars.

Flickchart: #812 out of 2157, below Lyle the Kindly Viking and above The Man Who Wasn't There.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cool Runnings (1993)

IMDb plot summary: Based on the true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team trying to make it to the winter Olympics.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub. Starring Leon, John Candy, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis, and Malik Yoba.

It's hard to actively dislike this movie -- it's so cheerful and inoffensive -- but at the same time there's not really anything for me to love, either. It's VERY, very Disneyfied. Predictable, cute, sentimental, with no real twists or unique takes on the genre or the characters. Given the interesting story they had to work with, I was definitely hoping for something more, so it's disappointing but not terrible.

2.5 stars.

Flickchart: #900 out of 2156, below Unbreakable and above Cinema Paradiso.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Quigley Down Under (1990)

IMDb plot summary: Sharpshooter Matt Quigley is hired from Montana by an Australian rancher paying a very high price. But when Quigley arrives Down Under, all is not as it seems.
Directed by Simon Wincer. Starring Tom Selleck, Laura San Giacomo, and Alan Rickman.

Every time someone assigns me a western in this movie challenge, I try and try and try to go into it with an open mind. But this one didn't make the cut for me. Alan Rickman is a rather interesting villain, but I just don't like the heroes at all. Quigley's defining characteristic appears to be "not racist," and while Cora's back story is interesting, I find her unfortunately annoying about 90% of the time. My friends had a lot of love for this movie, so I was hoping I'd get into it, but nope, it just didn't work for me.

1.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1490 out of 2155, below Sharknado and above The Hiding Place.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Joy Luck Club (1993)

IMDb plot summary: The life histories of four Asian women and their daughters reflect and guide each other.
Directed by Wayne Wang. Starring Ming-Na Wen, Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Tom, and Rosalind Chao.

I'm a bit of a sucker for stories where there are multiple characters with multiple plotlines. Big ensemble casts draw me in, and this is a very, very well-done one. Each one of the stories is interesting, and the mother-daughter interactions are fascinating to watch. It's one of thos movies that is just very EASY to watch, because everything is so well-crafted that I don't ever find myself drawn out of the story with awkward dialogue or clumsy acting. I can just sit back, watch, and enjoy. Good stuff.

4 stars.

Flickchart: #367 out of 2154, below Blue Jasmine and above Gravity.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Oscar (1991)

IMDb plot summary: Angelo "Snaps" Provolone made his dying father a promise on his deathbed: he would leave the world of crime and become an honest businessman, despite being faced with numerous problems.
Directed by John Landis. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Vincent Spano, Marisa Tomei, and Ornella Muti.

I would never have expected a comedy starring Sylvester Stallone to be enjoyable (he's far from a favorite actor), but I was very pleasantly surprised. It's an old-fashioned farce full of mistaken identities, people hiding in every room, couples falling in love at the drop of a hat, and ridiculously high stakes, and while it's not uproarious laughter the whole time, it's definitely a pleasant watch.

3.5 stars.

Flickchart: #553 out of 2153, below Zoolander and above The Cat Returns.

Paint Your Wagon (1969)

IMDb plot summary: Two unlikely prospector partners share the same wife in a California gold rush mining town.
Directed by Joshua Logan. Starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, and Jean Seberg.

Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe have written two musicals I love (My Fair Lady and Camelot) and two musicals I loathe (Brigadoon and Gigi) so I had absolutely zero idea where this would fall. And it's... somewhere in the middle. There are a few good songs, a few boring ones, Clint Eastwood's a decent singer, Lee Marvin's an awful one.

Where this movie REALLY fails, though, is the plot, which meanders all over the place, continually setting up one thing as the story's central drama only to knock it down immediately and move on to the next. The final 10-15 minutes are solid, though, with both an enjoyably funny comedic ending and a more sentimental dramatic one. If most of the stuff in the middle had been pared down, it might have worked better. As it was, it's long and wandering and its strengths don't make up for its flaws.

1.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1418 out of 2152, entertainingly sandwiched between Superman Returns and Superman II.

The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)

IMDb plot summary: A successful but constantly-feuding husband and wife musical comedy team threatens to break up when the wife entertains an offer to become a serious actress.
Directed by Charles Walters. Starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Oscar Levant, and Jacques Fran├žois.

The dance scenes are the joy of this movie. Whenever the dancing happens, it's wonderful and gorgeous and fun. Everything in between is... a little sketchy. It takes a long time for the show's basic premise to get going, and I was a little annoyed with the fact that the husband never seemed to realize that he maybe shouldn't treat his wife like a child. Their banter was centered just a little too realistically for me to accept it as entertaining. There are a few good laughs though, and at least three or four REALLY good musical numbers, so it's definitely worth a watch, especially for fans of Astaire and Rogers.

2.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1082 out of 2151, below Death at a Funeral and above Vantage Point.

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

IMDb plot summary: During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy.
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Starring Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack, and Stanley Ridges.

Although there's nothing really wrong with this movie, I had some trouble getting into it. I did laugh some, and I thought the premise was a lot of fun, but it just never gelled with me the way I hoped it would. I'm not exactly sure why. Don't get me wrong, though -- it's solid, and it's interesting, and I'd happily recommend it. I just don't know if I personally would watch it again.

2.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1088 out of 2150, below Last Holiday and above Coraline.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009)

IMDb plot summary: The California coast is terrorized by two enormous prehistoric sea creatures as they battle each other for supremacy of the sea.
Directed by Ace Hannah (whose real name, IMDb informs me, is apparently Jack Perez). Starring Deborah Gibson, Lorenzo Lamas, and Vic Chao.

The so-bad-it's-good movie HAS to be really, really bad to turn back into good, and, unfortunately, most of this one was just blah. There were a few great over-the-top moments (the scene where the shark flies out of the water to eat the plane was truly, truly hilarious) but the rest didn't live up to the potential at all. If you want to watch a silly shark movie, Sharknado is definitely the way to go.

1.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1539 out of 2149, below Dinner for Schmucks and above Unknown.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Spanglish (2004)

IMDb plot summary: A woman and her daughter emigrate from Mexico for a better life in America, where they start working for a family where the patriarch is a newly celebrated chef with an insecure wife.
Directed by James L. Brooks. Starring Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni, Paz Vega, and Cloris Leachman.

You know what was good about this movie? Pretty much everything that wasn't Adam Sandler. I just can't warm to the guy, and I can't buy him as a nice person. I admit this is entirely a personal bias, and I don't really know where it comes from (since it's apparently not restricted to his comedies), but even when he was being nice in this movie I still kind of wanted to punch him in the face.

It's really a shame, because this is a fascinating script with some great acting from everyone else and some REALLY interesting characters. Tea Leoni in particular drew my attention as a seriously, seriously flawed woman with deep-seated depression and anxiety which led to her horribly screwing up a LOT of relationships. (I also really liked both the daughters -- scripted and acted beautifully.) I just wish anyone else but Sandler had been cast in his role so I could enjoy the movie more. As it was, I think it's a mostly great movie and I liked EVERY part of it where Sandler wasn't around. So I'm going to give it a low 4 stars and try to pretend he wasn't in it.

4 stars.

Flickchart: #533 out of 2148, below A Clockwork Orange and above Mean Girls.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Waitress (2007)

IMDb plot summary: Jenna is a pregnant, unhappily married waitress in the deep south. She meets a newcomer to her town and falls into an unlikely relationship as a last attempt at happiness.
Directed by Adrienne Shelly. Starring Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto, and Cheryl Hines.

(Very vague spoilers ahead about how it ends.)

I found this extremely, extremely charming. Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion are both very likable, and Jeremy Sisto is very unlikable (something I would have thought I could never say after seeing him in Suburgatory). The humor is very human and very real -- something a lot of rom coms strive for but fail to achieve. What I think I liked best about this, though, is that it didn't go at all the way I expected at the end, but it managed to keep the tone all the way through, and when it finished, I felt it was a thoroughly satisfying watch. This was a good one.

4 stars.

Flickchart: #451 out of 2147, below Contagion and above The Dictator.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Revengers Tragedy (2002)

IMDb plot summary: This modernised adaptation of Thomas Middleton's celebrated play from 1607 tells the story of a man whose wife is murdered on their wedding day and his desire to exact revenge on the murderer.
Directed by Alex Cox. Starring Christopher Eccleston, Eddie Izzard, Derek Jacobi, and Carla Henry.

There were parts of this movie I REALLY loved. The score is intriguing and dramatic and I love it, and there are some really striking visuals. The problem is that when I watched it, the sound mixing was WAY distracting. The score frequently was too loud for the dialogue. I'm not sure if that was a problem with the specific copy I watched, or if it was just mixed like that, but between that, the fairly thick accents, and the archaic language, I frequently had trouble actually hearing and understanding what the characters were saying. As a result, it was really tough to follow the story. There were enough entertaining visuals that I mostly enjoyed it anyway, but I may have to read the play, get familiar with the general story outline, and then come back and rewatch this again some day.

2.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1091 out of 2146, below Spellbound (1945) and above The Fourth Kind.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

About Last Night... (1986)

IMDb plot summary: A man and woman meet and try to have a romantic affair, despite their personal problems and the interference of their disapproving friends.
Directed by Edward Zwick. Starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi, and Elizabeth Perkins.

This was based on a play by David Mamet that I've never read, and now I very much want to read it for comparison, because I'm often impressed by Mamet but was unimpressed with this. The opening almost-monologue was well-written and smart (I wouldn't be surprised if that came almost directly from the play -- it SOUNDS like Mamet), but the rest was uninspired, uninteresting, and never really worked for me. I did find the ending very interesting and pleasant, and if I had cared about the characters much at all at that point, I think I'd really like that. Unfortunately, I didn't. Not my favorite.

1.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1474 out of 2145, below JFK and above Waltz With Bashir.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Love's Labour's Lost (2000)

IMDb plot summary: An update of the classic Shakespeare story, director Kenneth Branagh shot this movie like a classic 30s musical. Love's Labour's Lost tells the story of four best friends who swear off love.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh. Starring Kenneth Branagh, Alessandro Nivola, Alicia Silverstone and Natasha McElhone.

I LOVE what this movie was trying to do. Absolutely love it. But most of the time, unfortunately, it doesn't work. Subpar singing makes a lot of the songs very difficult to listen to, and the acting choices are confusing and awkward. Alicia Silverstone may be playing the most obnoxious heroine I've ever seen in a Shakespeare movie. That's not to say there aren't some good moments -- Adrian Lester's "I've Got a Crush On You" is charming and entertaining, and I was extremely moved by the cast's rendition of "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Swap out about half the cast for more talented musical performers, and this could have been a favorite. And I REALLY wanted to love it. As it was, though, it had far too many awkward, uncomfortable performances for me to really say I enjoyed it.

2 stars.

Flickchart: #1265 out of 2144, below The Secret War of Harry Frigg and above A Christmas Carol (2004).

My Name Is Bruce (2007)

IMDb plot summary: B Movie Legend Bruce Campbell is mistaken for his character Ash from the Evil Dead trilogy and forced to fight a real monster in a small town in Oregon.
Directed by Bruce Campbell. Starring Bruce Campbell, Grace Thorsen, and Taylor Sharpe.

Well, this was super duper fun. I had no idea what it was about when I sat down to watch it, so it was a fun surprise when I realized where the story was going. It's even more entertaining knowing that Bruce Campbell himself directed this. The runtime is short enough that I didn't have time to get bored with the story's gimmick, and Bruce Campbell clearly has great fun hamming it up as an awful version of himself. I'm not crazy about how rushed the romance was -- even in a movie this ridiculous, it didn't work -- but other than that, this was a really solid, really fun watch.

4 stars.

Flickchart: #498 out of 2143, below Quartet and above Reservoir Dogs.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cannibal! The Musical (1993)

IMDb plot summary: The sole survivor of an ill-fated mining expedition tells how his taste for gold was replaced by that of human flesh.
Directed by Trey Parker. Starring Trey Parker, Toddy Walters, Jason McHugh and Matt Stone.

I've never seen South Park, but I'm a huge fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's work on The Book of Mormon, so it's not a huge surprise that I liked this fairly well. The last 20 minutes or so are pretty light on jokes and not terribly interesting, but the first hour and a half mostly makes up for that, as there were a LOT of moments where I laughed out loud. It's got a lot of entertaining musical parodies -- I especially love the recurring theme that is this movie's version of "Oh What a Beautiful Morning." This movie is definitely not going to appeal to everyone, but I enjoyed it.

3.5 stars.

Flickchart: #537 out of 2142, below Lethal Weapon and above Bandits.