Sunday, March 29, 2015

In & Out (1997)

IMDb plot summary: A midwestern teacher questions his sexuality after a former student makes a comment about him at the Academy Awards.
Directed by Frank Oz. Starring Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Tom Selleck, and Matt Dillon.

I'm... a little torn on this one. While as always I freaking love Kevin Kline, and there are a couple good really laugh-out-loud moments in this movie, it touches on a pet peeve of mine: that gay people will always act a certain way, and if someone acts like that, well, then, they must be gay. The movie uses those stereotypes in a way that never quite gets below the surface, and while parts of it are really entertaining, a lot of it makes me squirm a little. Still, the movie has its heart in the right place and Kline is really delightful, and I thoroughly enjoyed the silly-but-heartfelt place the story landed at the end. So... it's fun, but doesn't sit quite right for me.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
In & Out > Arthur Christmas
In & Out < Argo
In & Out < Munich
In & Out > Aliens
In & Out < The Kid (2000)
In & Out > Like Crazy
In & Out > Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
In & Out < Crimes and Misdemeanors
In & Out < High School Musical 3: Senior Year
In & Out > The Dresser
In & Out > Cabaret
Final spot: #966 out of 2344.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mystic Pizza (1988)

IMDb plot summary: Three teenage girls come of age while working at a pizza parlor in the Connecticut town of Mystic.
Directed by Donald Petrie. Starring Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts, Lili Taylor, and Vincent D'Onofrio.

This is a well-intentioned but pretty sloppy little flick, and Julia Roberts is really not good in it at all. The other two actresses make the most of some juicy moments (Lili Taylor's post-breakup monologue is actually really moving) but Roberts is just awkward and uncomfortable throughout. The stories are all pretty scattered and resolve really abruptly, with endings that are more happy than realistic, despite the fact that the first hour and a half of the movie was attempting to be a serious coming-of-age drama. If I was more into serious dramas as guilty pleasures, I'd be more likely to enjoy this, but as it is, it didn't really do anything for me.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Mystic Pizza < Arthur Christmas
Mystic Pizza > 30 Minutes or Less
Mystic Pizza > MASH
Mystic Pizza < The Kids Are All Right
Mystic Pizza < My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
Mystic Pizza < The Imitation Game
Mystic Pizza < The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Mystic Pizza > The Jerk
Mystic Pizza > Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Mystic Pizza > Total Recall (1990)
Mystic Pizza < Trading Places
Final spot: #1448 out of 2343.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

IMDb plot summary: Singers Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw travel to Paris, pursued by a private detective hired by the disapproving father of Lorelei's fiancé to keep an eye on her, as well as a rich, enamored old man and many other doting admirers.
Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn and Elliott Reid.

A classic musical I'd somehow never gotten around to seeing, this is really a delightfully silly little flick. Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe are both excellent (and seeing Russell impersonate Monroe toward the end is one of the film's highlights). There aren't all that many songs, but they make good use of the musical numbers they have, and the plot is entertaining, with plenty of witty dialogue. It's a fun, fluffy comedy, and I'm glad I got to see it before it went off of Netflix.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes > Hysteria
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes > The Artist
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes < Another Woman
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes < Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes > Good Will Hunting
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes < Take This Waltz
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes > The Dictator
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes < Solaris (2002)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes > The Producers (2005)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes > Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes > Rock of Ages
Final spot: #484 out of 2341.

The Man with One Red Shoe (1985)

IMDb plot summary: A man picked randomly out of a crowd is made the target of CIA survelliance and pursuit.
Directed by Stan Dragoti. Starring Tom Hanks, Dabney Coleman, Lori Singer, and Charles Durning.

Well, let's start off with the good things about this movie. Tom Hanks is always pretty likable, and the premise is a lot of fun. There are some great scenes in the middle where they interpret everything he does as some sort of coded message, and I found that chunk of movie pretty entertaining.

It kind of devolves after that, though. Maddy is a really uninteresting female character, their chemistry is far from believable, and when the second half of the movie focuses mostly on their romance and the big chase scene at the end, it's not all that fun, and I was just kind of waiting for it to be over. Hanks himself is apparently not a fan of this one, and I can see why. It's OK, but the best parts by far are in the middle.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Man With One Red Shoe < Arthur Christmas
The Man With One Red Shoe > My Favorite Wife
The Man With One Red Shoe > The High and the Mighty
The Man With One Red Shoe > The Kids Are All Right
The Man With One Red Shoe < Ted
The Man With One Red Shoe < Glory
The Man With One Red Shoe > Zero Dark Thirty
The Man With One Red Shoe > Con Air
The Man With One Red Shoe < Swing Kids
The Man With One Red Shoe > Milk
Final spot: #1285 out of 2340.

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Strangers Click (2011)

Plot summary: Director Robert Kenner explores the world of online dating through the stories of five individuals who went looking for love on the Internet.
Directed by Robert Kenner.

This little hour-long TV documentary about Internet relationships is surprisingly interesting. It's nicely varied, and as someone who has formed plenty of friendships online (though no romances) I really liked seeing stories like the Second Life couple who found a way to have a solid friendship and relationship online since they can't be together in real life any time soon. It's a little amateur in its production, but it's a pretty entertaining little flick, and definitely hits on something that I think still has a bad reputation despite the fact that so many people meet online these days.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
When Strangers Click > Hysteria
When Strangers Click < Argo
When Strangers Click < Munich
When Strangers Click < Aliens
When Strangers Click > Born Yesterday
When Strangers Click < Inland Empire
When Strangers Click < Cypher
When Strangers Click > Skyfall
When Strangers Click < Captains Courageous
When Strangers Click > From Russia With Love
Final spot: #1083 out of 2339.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Light in Her Eyes (2011)

IMDb plot summary: Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded a Qur'an school for girls in Damascus, Syria when she was just 17 years old. In a world rarely seen, The Light In Her Eyes tells the story of a leader who challenges the women of her community to live according to Islam, without giving up their dreams. Shot right before the uprising in Syria erupted, the film is an exclusive look at a social movement thriving in a country controlled by a repressive regime.
Directed by Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix.

I am always fascinated by stories of people who strive to be progressive while also wanting to remain true to the traditions of their faith. That's a story that's not told about Muslims nearly enough. There's a bit of an assumption among too many Americans that the only non-radical Muslims lives in western countries, and seeing this story is a beautiful counterpoint to that. Houda is not abandoning her faith by encouraging girls and young women to become educated, she is simply determined to find out and teach what the Quran itself says, rather than just blindly following the non-Scriptural traditions held to by other Muslims. It's fascinating and important to see the overall positive response toward her and her school taking a step forward for Muslim women. Really interesting.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Light In Her Eyes > Arthur Christmas
The Light In Her Eyes < Argo
The Light In Her Eyes > Munich
The Light In Her Eyes > The Mummy (1932)
The Light In Her Eyes > Source Code
The Light In Her Eyes < Oscar
The Light In Her Eyes > Before Sunset
The Light In Her Eyes < The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Light In Her Eyes < I Heart Huckabees
The Light In Her Eyes > Frankenweenie
The Light In Her Eyes > My Date With Drew

Final spot: #635 out of 2342.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Porco Rosso (1992)

IMDb plot summary: The adventures of "Porco Rosso", a veteran WW1 pilot in 1930s Italy, who has been cursed to look like an anthropomorphic pig.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Starring (in the English dub) Michael Keaton, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Cary Elwes, and Susan Egan.

One of my favorite things about Miyazaki is his ability to blend emotional depth with adventurous goofiness. That's done excellently here. We have a cast of enjoyable characters, a pretty light plot, and then some just stunningly beautiful and touching scenes like the ending and the ghost pilots. (The ghost pilots may be the most beautiful thing I've seen in any Ghibli flick.) It also has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments with its slightly zany sense of humor. This isn't my favorite Miyazaki, but it's pretty delightful, and well worth a watch.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Porco Rosso > Hysteria
Porco Rosso < Argo
Porco Rosso > Munich
Porco Rosso > The Mummy (1932)
Porco Rosso > Happy Feet
Porco Rosso > Were the World Mine
Porco Rosso < Atonement
Porco Rosso < Don't Drink the Water
Porco Rosso < Top Secret!
Porco Rosso < Down With Love
Porco Rosso < Army of Darkness
Porco Rosso > Zoolander
Final spot: #619 out of 2338.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)

IMDb plot summary: Two dense, inseparable friends hit the road for their 10-year high school reunion and concoct an elaborate lie about their lives in order to impress their classmates.
Directed by David Mirkin. Starring Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow, Janeane Garofalo, and Julia Campbell.

I thought this was going to be pretty stupid, but I figured I could watch it before it went off Netflix. And while it could definitely be called stupid, it's a delightful, goofy kind of stupid. It reminded me of a girlier, less sci-fi/fantasy version of Bill & Ted. Romy and Michele are delightful, likable characters, and the humor is the sort of light-hearted mildly absurd goofiness that I really enjoy. I started the movie late at night, figuring it'd be fine to watch part of and then sleep, but I ended up watching the whole thing because I was having such a good time. There is noooo substance here, but it checks off all the boxes for an awesome feel-good movie.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion > Last Action Hero
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion > The Artist
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion < Into the Woods (2014)
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion < Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion > The Sessions
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion > The Basketball Diaries
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion < Mr. Brooks
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion > Match Point
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion > Hard Candy
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion > Hawking
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion < Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Final spot: #458 out of 2337.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

No eres tú, soy yo (2010)

IMDb plot summary: Javier is crushed after his new bride leaves him. When his psychiatrist has no answers, he turns to the arms of his ex-girlfriends.
Directed by Alejandro Springall. Starring Eugenio Derbez, Martina García, Alejandra Barros, and Juan Ríos.

(Mild spoilers.)

This is a cute little movie, mostly thanks to a likable lead actor. With most actors, that first hour of self-pity and falling apart would have been intolerable. He manages to make it actually kind of work, and it's easy to root for things to go well for him. But this movie does just the bare minimum to tell its story, and there's not a lot of visible motivation for the main character to do what he does or change the way he changes. It just... happens, with no real catalyst. This makes the movie seem a bit hopeless, like he hasn't really fixed anything within himself and is doomed to repeat his mistakes. This is apparently a remake, and I am curious to see the original and see if there's a deeper story with that one.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
No eres tu, so yo > Last Action Hero
No eres tu, so yo < Argo
No eres tu, so yo < You've Got Mail
No eres tu, so yo > Black Snake Moan
No eres tu, so yo < Three Colors: Blue
No eres tu, so yo > Unbreakable
No eres tu, so yo < The Player
No eres tu, so yo > The Other Boleyn Girl
No eres tu, so yo < School of Rock
No eres tu, so yo > The Cutting Edge
Final spot: #973 out of 2336.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

IMDb summary: The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser's redemption on Christmas Eve.
Directed by Brian Henson. Starring Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, and Frank Oz.

This is the fourth Muppet movie I've seen, and probably my least favorite. Between this and Treasure Island, it seems I just don't care for Muppet movies where they're telling someone else's story. Both of those used Gonzo and Rizzo as sort of comic relief storytellers, and I just don't find them interesting or charming. There's not a lot of room for originality here, so it's fine as a Christmas Carol adaptation but disappointing as a Muppet movie -- and these songs aren't even particularly memorable. It's not bad, but it's just not something I'd choose to watch again, let alone incorporate it into my regular holiday viewing.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Muppet Christmas Carol < Last Action Hero
The Muppet Christmas Carol > Short Circuit
The Muppet Christmas Carol < A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
The Muppet Christmas Carol > The Spanish Prisoner
The Muppet Christmas Carol > Cellular
The Muppet Christmas Carol < It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown
The Muppet Christmas Carol < Blue's Big Musical Movie
The Muppet Christmas Carol > Rust and Bone
The Muppet Christmas Carol > Burlesque
The Muppet Christmas Carol < La Haine
The Muppet Christmas Carol > The Visitor
Final spot: #1517 out of 2335.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

IMDb plot summary: Takes place in a chateau, an ambiguous story of a man and a woman who may or may not have met last year at Marienbad.
Directed by Alain Resnais. Starring Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, and Sacha Pitoëff.

I recently watched Hiroshima mon amour by the same director and wasn't particularly taken by it, but this one had a few moments that really lured me in. It's very slow and confusing to watch, but there are some really fascinating scenes, and after a little scouting I found a few theories that helped bring the film together cohesively for me into a lovely story.

There are some movies that I've described as "big picture" movies -- in that they're not particularly enjoyable to watch, but the best part of them is in stepping back and looking at it from a distance after it's over, where suddenly things click and it's much more beautiful than it was up close. This is definitely one of those for me. I can't imagine ever wanting to watch it again, but I'm glad I saw it and I think it'll sit better in my mind the further I get from it.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Last Year at Marienbad > Last Action Hero
Last Year at Marienbad < Argo
Last Year at Marienbad < Munich
Last Year at Marienbad > Black Snake Moan
Last Year at Marienbad > Three Colors: Blue
Last Year at Marienbad > 12 Years a Slave
Last Year at Marienbad < Peggy Sue Got Married
Last Year at Marienbad > Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Last Year at Marienbad > The Thing
Last Year at Marienbad < Laura
Last Year at Marienbad < Suspicion
Final spot: #898 out of 2333.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Muppet Movie (1979)

IMDb plot summary: Kermit and his new found friends trek across America to find success in Hollywood, but a frog-legs merchant is after Kermit.
Directed by James Frawley. Starring Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, and Dave Goelz.

(Mild spoilers.)

I have slowly been making my way through the Muppets canon in no particular order -- for example, I watched this one because it was about to expire from Netflix Instant. This movie is really delightful. It's got a lot of truly funny moments (giant Animal made me laugh out loud) but it's also really sweet and is willing to embrace the big campy moments, like the sudden happy ending and the giant sing-along version of "The Rainbow Connection" with an actual rainbow. It can get away with these emotionally cheesy scenes by being so aware of itself the rest of the way -- you can almost hear them going, "OK, yes, we know this is silly, but we're going to go with it, so you can join us or not." This is maybe my favorite of the three I've seen thus far. It's just so, so charming.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Muppet Movie > Last Action Hero
The Muppet Movie > Argo
The Muppet Movie < Into the Woods (2014)
The Muppet Movie > Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
The Muppet Movie < The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Muppet Movie < Birdman
The Muppet Movie < Edge of Tomorrow
The Muppet Movie > Trainspotting
The Muppet Movie > Boy A
The Muppet Movie > Om Shanti Om
The Muppet Movie > The Fault in Our Stars
Final spot: #419 out of 2332.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Preacher's Wife (1996)

IMDb plot summary: Good natured Reverend Henry Biggs finds that his marriage to choir mistress Julia is flagging, due to his constant absence caring for the deprived neighborhood they live in. On top of all this, his church is coming under threat from property developer Joe Hamilton. In desperation, Rev. Biggs prays to God for help - and help arrives in the form of an angel named Dudley. However, Dudley's arrival seems to cause even more trouble...
Directed by Penny Marshall. Starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance and Gregory Hines.

This is a remake of an older movie called The Bishop's Wife that my mom watched a lot growing up, so I've always been mildly interested in seeing this one... but as I watched this, I remembered that, oh yeah, I didn't like The Bishop's Wife too much, and this one didn't really improve upon it.

There were some really good parts of this. Hearing Whitney Houston sing, even in contrived situations, is always a great experience. And I was really impressed with how realistic the situation was. This seemed like a genuinely run-down neighborhood, not glamorized or glorified, and watching the pastor work so hard to improve the lives of his congregation, you really felt how overwhelmed he was and how much it weighed on him that he couldn't fix everyone. So that aspect of the story was really interesting and powerful.

What doesn't work is... well, the angel plot, which is most of the movie. It's not clear that Dudley actually does *anything* to improve things, as the preacher comes to a revelation totally on his own (and for no apparent reason). His role here is unclear, and when he leaves, it's still unclear. The romance subplot is just kind of awkwardly left there (much as it was in the original) without much connection to the rest of the story.

I'd be interested in watching a story about the main characters just living and working where they are. They're interesting on their own, and the main plot pales in comparison.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Preacher's Wife < Last Action Hero
The Preacher's Wife > Short Circuit
The Preacher's Wife > No Country for Old Men
The Preacher's Wife < Crank
The Preacher's Wife > Kiss Me Kate
The Preacher's Wife > My Six Loves
The Preacher's Wife > John Carter
The Preacher's Wife > Ocean's Twelve
The Preacher's Wife > Neverwas
The Preacher's Wife > Ice Station Zebra
Final spot: #1313 out of 2331.