Saturday, August 22, 2015

Oliver Twist (1948)

IMDb plot summary: Based on the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist is about an orphan boy who runs away from a workhouse and meets a pickpocket on the streets of London.
Directed by David Lean. Starring Robert Newton, Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, and John Howard Davies.

This is an extremely straightforward adaptation of the story with pretty good acting and scripting, but where it really stands out is the cinematography. The movie looks gorgeous, playing with shadow and light and composition in a way that really brings out both the beauty and the darkness of the world. Unfortunately, the one person's acting that stood out to me is Kay Walsh's, which I didn't like much -- she plays Nancy as an uncomfortably shrill character, and her big emotional moments didn't work for me at all. The rest of the cast is solid, though, with enough depth to really sell them. It's not going to top the musical for me, but if you're looking for just a simple book-to-film version of Oliver Twist, this is a pretty good one.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Oliver Twist > Monsters University
Oliver Twist < Rurouni Kenshin
Oliver Twist < Hugo
Oliver Twist > The Nanny Diaries
Oliver Twist < Splash
Oliver Twist > Star Trek Into Darkness
Oliver Twist < The Hangover
Oliver Twist > In & Out
Oliver Twist > Badlands
Oliver Twist > Fanboys
Final spot: #984 out of 2374.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

IMDb plot summary: Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane - like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts.
Directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Starring Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh, and Cori Gonzalez-Macuer.

Mockumentaries are pretty tough to do well, but this is one of the most creative ones I've seen, playing beautifully on the conventions of the genre. The characters are interesting to watch, the dialogue is funny, and the movie as a whole does new and different things in both the mockumentary AND the vampire film genres. There's very little wasted time in this comedy -- every scene is funny -- and I anticipate will just keep getting better with each rewatch, so it's definitely one to add to my collection at some point.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
What We Do in the Shadows > As It Is in Heaven
What We Do in the Shadows > Pretty Woman
What We Do in the Shadows < Heathers
What We Do in the Shadows < The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
What We Do in the Shadows > Roxanne
What We Do in the Shadows > Take This Waltz
What We Do in the Shadows > Robot and Frank
What We Do in the Shadows > The Bicycle Thief
What We Do in the Shadows > Nightcrawler
What We Do in the Shadows > Schindler's List
What We Do in the Shadows > Nativity!
Final spot: #445 out of 2373.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

IMDb plot summary: In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.
Directed by George Miller. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, and Hugh Keays-Byrne.

This is a pretty phenomenal summer blockbuster. It stands out from a lot of the other action movies, thanks to its abundance of awesome female characters (seriously, this is Furiosa's story, Max is just kinda there) and its really gorgeous visual aesthetic. This movie makes everything LOOK good, and I'm glad I got to see it in theaters instead of waiting for it to come out as a rental.

The Mad Max saga is brand new to me -- I've never seen any of the originals, despite my love for dystopian stories -- so one thing I particularly liked about this movie was that it showed off the world without endless exposition and long details about why things are the way they are, or how these people have the power they do, or any of that. It kept a good deal of it mysterious, where we see that's how it is but don't have a sense as to why. It puts us as audience members in a similar place as most of the characters in this movie, who have only a vague knowledge of what the world was like "before," since they're primarily too busy trying to survive now.

Overall, really interesting and well-made movie.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Mad Max: Fury Road > As It Is In Heaven
Mad Max: Fury Road > Pretty Woman
Mad Max: Fury Road < Heathers
Mad Max: Fury Road < The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
Mad Max: Fury Road < Roxanne
Mad Max: Fury Road > Quartet
Mad Max: Fury Road > The Karate Kid
Mad Max: Fury Road < Waking Ned Devine
Mad Max: Fury Road < Leap of Faith
Mad Max: Fury Road > Crossing Delancey
Mad Max: Fury Road > Notting Hill
Final spot: #532 out of 2372.

Inside Out (2015)

IMDb plot summary: After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness - conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.
Directed by Pete Docter. Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, and Bill Hader.

Pixar has done it again. It's no surprise really, since Pete Docter's previous two Pixar films are in my top three of their filmography. As someone who has a fair amount of melancholy in her personality, I found it really refreshing to see a movie that touched on the positive uses of sadness -- not just sadness as a necessary evil to be overcome on the road to happiness, but that sadness itself can yield good things. I love how they showed sadness as a companion to compassion for hurting people, and how they showed that sharing sadness together can strengthen relationships to be even stronger than just sharing happiness together. I think this is a really important message that all too often gets lost in today's society. It was an important message for *me*, something I needed to hear right now, and I may or may not have cried throughout the entire last half hour because I cared so much about what was being said.

Oh, also the movie was creative and funny and the voice acting was perfect and I loved seeing a kids' movie with two very different female leads. That all is true too.

4.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Inside Out > Safety Not Guaranteed
Inside Out > Eat Pray Love
Inside Out < Heathers
Inside Out > Nativity!
Inside Out > The Shawshank Redemption
Inside Out < Toy Story 3
Inside Out > Knights of Badassdom
Inside Out > Enchanted
Inside Out > Anatomy of a Murder
Inside Out > King George and the Ducky
Inside Out > A Christmas Story
Final spot: #334 out of 2371.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Imposter (2012)

IMDb plot summary: A documentary centered on a young man in Spain who claims to a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.
Directed by Bart Layton.

(Spoilers ahead.)

Well, this was fascinating. Also, it was nice to watch a movie, period, as I pretty much haven't been doing that these past two months. But that's not relevant. While I find many documentaries have to work very hard to make a real-life story as interesting as a fabricated one, this movie is intriguing all the way through, and the fact that there are some questions we just don't get answers to adds an extra layer of intrigue. I was so wrapped up in the story that the final shot of the private investigator digging in the backyard sent a chill down my spine. Definitely one of the more interesting documentaries I've seen.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Imposter > Safety Not Guaranteed
The Imposter < Eat Pray Love
The Imposter > Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Imposter > My Week With Marilyn
The Imposter > Mister Roberts
The Imposter > Top Secret!
The Imposter > The Return of Captain Invincible
The Imposter > Spanglish
The Imposter < Children of Men
The Imposter < A Clockwork Orange
The Imposter < Gone Baby Gone
The Imposter > Sleeping Beauty
Final spot: #600 out of 2370.