Sunday, December 31, 2017

Griff the Invisible (2010)

IMDb plot summary: Griff, office worker by day, superhero by night, has his world turned upside down when he meets Melody, a beautiful young scientist who shares his passion for the impossible.
Directed by Leon Ford. Starring Ryan Kwanten, Maeve Dermody, Patrick Brammall, and Toby Schmitz.

Spoilers ahead.

I'm kind of torn on this one. It reminds me a bit of Lars and the Real Girl, and I was loving it up to the end, when it suddenly went the route of "love can fix everything and make mental illness awesome," which never sits well with me. The characters are fascinating in their own little worlds, but I'm disappointed enough by the ending that it left a sour taste in my mouth. I am wondering if there's another way to view this without that implication, because I wanted to love it a lot more than I did, and if I could find a way around the message I felt it sent, it might be able to climb the chart significantly.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Griff the Invisible > Hoosiers
Griff the Invisible < Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Griff the Invisible < War Horse
Griff the Invisible > John Dies at the End
Griff the Invisible > Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Griff the Invisible > Stalag 17
Griff the Invisible < Star Trek: Generations
Griff the Invisible < Witness
Griff the Invisible > Logan's Run
Griff the Invisible < The Stepford Wives (1975)

Final spot: #1046 out of 2693.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Six Degrees of Separation (1993)

IMDb plot summary: An affluent New York couple finds their lives touched, intruded upon, and compelled by a mysterious young black man who is never quite who he says he is.
Directed by Fred Schepisi. Starring Stockard Channing, Will Smith, Donald Sutherland, and Ian McKellen.

I wondered in the last few minutes of the movie if this was originally written for the stage (it was), given that some of the dialogue, especially toward the end, feels very theatrical. But unlike most theatre-to-film movies, I love how truly cinematic it is and actually struggle to think how a stage version could be as effective. The rapid cutting between the central story and the endless shallow anecdotal conversations in which our main couple retells their adventure over and over again really lets us see how everything in their lives becomes a story to tell at parties. I found myself fascinated by the cadence of their speech and how firmly it established this high-class art world they subsisted in. It's a tough movie for me to fully wrap my mind around right now, but I think it's going to stick with me, and I was impressed by it.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Six Degrees of Separation > Hoosiers
Six Degrees of Separation < Christmas in Connecticut
Six Degrees of Separation > War Horse
Six Degrees of Separation > Barton Fink
Six Degrees of Separation < Morgan
Six Degrees of Separation > The Hidden Fortress
Six Degrees of Separation > American Teen
Six Degrees of Separation > Captains Courageous
Six Degrees of Separation > Mr. Holmes
Six Degrees of Separation > Monsoon Wedding
Six Degrees of Separation < Loins of Punjab Presents

Final spot: #759 out of 2692.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

IMDb plot summary: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.
Directed by Ran Johnson. Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, and Daisy Ridley.

The most artistically ambitious Star Wars movie yet, and I think it pays off. It adds some complexity to previously flat characters and subverts tropes in a really interesting way. Kudos to Johnson for not just rehashing the originals but actually moving forward to something new.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi > Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Star Wars: The Last Jedi < Christmas in Connecticut
Star Wars: The Last Jedi > The Woodsman
Star Wars: The Last Jedi > Hannah and Her Sisters
Star Wars: The Last Jedi > Loins of Punjab Presents
Star Wars: The Last Jedi > The Sting
Star Wars: The Last Jedi > Au Revoir Les Enfants
Star Wars: The Last Jedi > Gone in 60 Seconds
Star Wars: The Last Jedi > Cloud Atlas
Star Wars: The Last Jedi > High Strung
Star Wars: The Last Jedi > Chariots of Fire

Final spot: #674 out of 2691.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

IMDb plot summary: When a murder occurs on the train he's travelling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh. Starring Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., and Michelle Pfeiffer.

I've never seen the 1974 adaptation of the book, so I can't compare this to that, only the original novel. I enjoyed it quite a bit, even though it is quite theatrical in nature (as Branagh's films tend to be). In fact, I probably liked it better than most people did because of that. It's a deliciously stylish film, if very unsubtle in its style, with lavish visuals and elaborate shots all over the place. I found it also surprisingly moving toward the end, given how I'd remembered the story as being quite a bit more fluffy adventure than serious drama. Overall, made for a good watch.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Murder on the Orient Express > Inland Empire
Murder on the Orient Express < Christmas in Connecticut
Murder on the Orient Express > The Tourist
Murder on the Orient Express > Husbands and Wives
Murder on the Orient Express > Rogue One
Murder on the Orient Express < The Sting
Murder on the Orient Express < Star Trek
Murder on the Orient Express < Watchmen
Murder on the Orient Express > Le samourai
Murder on the Orient Express > Fanny and Alexander
Murder on the Orient Express < Oscar

Final spot: #749 out of 2691.

Colossal (2016)

IMDb plot summary: Gloria is an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in New York City and move back home. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon.
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo. Starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell, and Tim Blake Nelson.

(Spoilers ahead.)

This movie is 90% brilliant and 10% really awkward. Fortunately, most of that 10% is in the movie's first half and it gets much stronger as it gets toward the end. It was much more unsettling than I'd have thought it would be to see Jason Sudeikis as an out-and-out villain, and the final 10 minutes or so was the most satisfying defeat of a villain I've seen in a long time.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Colossal > Inland Empire
Colossal > Chariots of Fire
Colossal < Benny & Joon
Colossal < The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
Colossal > We're No Angels
Colossal > Shakespeare Behind Bars
Colossal > The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!
Colossal < Collateral
Colossal > The Florida Project
Colossal > Get Out

Final spot: #517 out of 2690.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Playtime (1967)

IMDb plot summary: Monsieur Hulot curiously wanders around a high-tech Paris, paralleling a trip with a group of American tourists. Meanwhile, a nightclub/restaurant prepares its opening night, but it's still under construction.
Directed by Jacques Tati. Starring Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Rita Maiden, and France Rumilly.

A few years ago I watched M. Hulot's Holiday as part of my very first movie challenge, and I didn't care for it at all. (To quote from that review: "What I ended up with was . . . seven slapstick gags, spaced out through an hour and a half movie, and interspersed with fifteen-minute scenes of people carrying around ice cream cones, setting up beach umbrellas, and quietly sitting drinking tea.") Tati's style of humor is *so* subtle and slice-of-life that it barely registers for me at all as comedy. Playtime appears to have just plopped a camera down in various businesses and let it run. I enjoy people watching, but if I'm going to people watch, I'll just go out and do that, I'm not going to watch a movie about people watching that hasn't even chosen the most interesting parts to show me.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Playtime < 12 Monkeys
Playtime < Opening Night
Playtime > Chicken Little
Playtime > Man of Steel
Playtime < The Stepford Wives (2004)
Playtime < Thirteen Conversations About One Thing
Playtime < Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Playtime > How to Steal 2 Million
Playtime < The First Wives Club
Playtime < The Balloonatic
Playtime < 10 Items or Less
Playtime < The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Final spot: #2174 out of 2689.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017)

IMDb plot summary: An estranged family gathers together in New York for an event celebrating the artistic work of their father.
Directed by Noah Baumbach. Starring Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Marvel, and Ben Stiller.

Noah Baumbach gets a lot of acclaim for his naturalistic dialogue. He's certainly captured the rhythms of it, but I can't get past how weirdly expositional it is in this. "You wrote this song for me when I was five years old." "You and your sister went to live with your mother." It's just so off-putting. As less exposition was needed, however, the dialogue started working for me, and finally we ended up with something I could kind of admire even if I didn't really care.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) > George of the Jungle
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) < Split
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) < At First Sight
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) < The Road
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) > Son of Rambow
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) > Deconstructing Harry
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) > Interview with the Vampire
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) > Away From Her
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) > Choke
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) < Selma

Final spot: #1181 out of 2687.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Disaster Artist (2017)

IMDb plot summary: When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.
Directed by James Franco. Starring Dave Franco, James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Ari Gaynor.

Yeah, this was basically exactly what I wanted this movie to be. Just as funny, bizarre, and oddly moving as the book it was based off of.

4.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Disaster Artist > George of the Jungle
The Disaster Artist > High Strung
The Disaster Artist > The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
The Disaster Artist < A Charlie Brown Christmas
The Disaster Artist < The World's End
The Disaster Artist < Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
The Disaster Artist > Saving Mr. Banks
The Disaster Artist > The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The Disaster Artist < Breaking the Waves
The Disaster Artist > Her
The Disaster Artist < The Wizard of Oz

Final spot: #300 out of 2686.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

IMDb plot summary: A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder when they fail to catch the culprit.
Directed by Martin McDonagh. Starring Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Lucas Hedges.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri > Ghostbusters (1984)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri > Catfish
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri < The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri > Kiss Me, Stupid!
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri < Ernest & Celestine
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri > Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri > Monsieur Lazhar
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri > The Grey
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri < Jaws
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri > The Lady Eve
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri > Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Final spot: #425 out of 2685.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Maleficent (2014)

IMDb plot summary: A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land.
Directed by Robert Stromberg. Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, and Imelda Staunton.

I'm a big fan of the original Disney version of Sleeping Beauty, and part of that is how interesting Maleficent is. Too bad this version of the story doesn't let her arc really land. It gets off to a solid start (the moment when she wakes up and finds her wings gone is surprisingly moving), but the movie switches her from villain to hero too early, too definitively, and with no clear impetus. It's just Aurora's magic Mary Sue abilities that transform everyone, I guess. It's a disappointing shift that significantly lowers the stakes for the rest of the film and virtually eliminates its emotional impact.

On top of that, the movie looks awkward. I'm sure they were going for a magical fairy tale ethereal quality, but it just looks fake and cheesy, and that flavors the storytelling. So yeah, this retelling doesn't work very well for me, which is a bummer because Maleficent is a great character. But I probably shouldn't have trusted Disney to tell a good villain story. That's not their strong point.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Maleficent < George of the Jungle
Maleficent > Opening Night
Maleficent < The Perfect Score
Maleficent > Ip Man
Maleficent < Extremities
Maleficent < The Hoober-Bloob Highway
Maleficent < Fantastic Voyage
Maleficent > The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Maleficent < Sands of Iwo Jima
Maleficent > A Man Called Peter
Maleficent > Are You My Neighbor?

Final spot: #1830 out of 2684.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Footlight Parade (1933)

IMDb plot summary: Chester Kent struggles against time, romance, and a rival's spy to produce spectacular live "prologues" for movie houses.
Directed Lloyd Bacon. Starring James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, and Dick Powell.

This is interesting watching shortly after Gold Diggers of 1933, another 1930s Busby Berkely musical. In both instances, the musical numbers visuals are the best part, even if you have to do some pretty spectacular disbelief suspension to even pretend these scenes are taking place in a live theatre. There's a fascinating bit of (maybe?) history happening here too, looking at the attempts to make theatre relevant to a world obsessed with movies. (I seriously want to look up more about these "prologues" and whether they genuinely were a thing for the 1920s/1930s moviegoer.) The plot itself is pretty thin and, like Gold Diggers, I wish the movie numbers were spread throughout rather than held together until the end. But the final 30 minutes almost make the infinitely fluffy first hour worth it. Fun, but not substantial.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Footlight Parade > Ghostbusters (1984)
Footlight Parade < High Strung
Footlight Parade < At First Sight
Footlight Parade > Star Trek Into Darkness
Footlight Parade < A Separation
Footlight Parade < Peggy Sue Got Married
Footlight Parade < Swing Time
Footlight Parade > Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Footlight Parade < Fantastic Mr. Fox
Footlight Parade < Nine Lives
Footlight Parade < Marooned
Footlight Parade < Mad Max

Final spot: #1163 out of 2683.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Häxan (1922)

IMDb plot summary: Fictionalized documentary showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern Europe.
Directed by Benjamin Christensen. Starring Maren Pederson, Clara Pontoppidan, Elith Pio, and Oscar Stribolt.

I'm struggling with how to review this. It's certainly a format I hadn't seen in many silent films before this -- much more like an educational docudrama, which is kind of fascinating. However, I frequently found my interest waning, and they jump around from subject to subject sometimes without my realizing it so it becomes difficult to follow a single person's story. This ultimately works for me more as a curiosity than as an interesting movie on its own. As such it'll rank low on the chart, but I did appreciate what they were trying to do.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Haxan < George of the Jungle
Haxan > Sharknado
Haxan > The Witches of Eastwick (now there's a funky double feature)
Haxan < War of the Buttons (1994)
Haxan < Mystic River
Haxan > Little Lord Fauntleroy
Haxan > Cropsey
Haxan > Martha Marcy May Marlene
Haxan > Beaches
Haxan > Touch of Evil
Haxan < 12 Days of Terror

Final spot: #1595 out of 2682.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)

IMDb plot summary: A dramatization of the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima.
Directed by Allan Dwan. Starring John Wayne, John Agar, Adele Mara, and Forrest Tucker.

I appreciated how much time it spent trying to get to know the characters. Still didn't do much for me personally, but it came closer than a lot of combat movies.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Sands of Iwo Jima < George of the Jungle
Sands of Iwo Jima > Sharknado
Sands of Iwo Jima < The Perfect Score
Sands of Iwo Jima > Rust and Bone
Sands of Iwo Jima < Mickey's Christmas Carol
Sands of Iwo Jima < The Hoober-Bloob Highway
Sands of Iwo Jima < Fantastic Voyage
Sands of Iwo Jima > Kinsey
Sands of Iwo Jima > Are You My Neighbor?
Sands of Iwo Jima < That Touch of Mink

Final spot: #1827 out of 2681.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Trouble With Harry (1955)

IMDb plot summary: The trouble with Harry is that he's dead, and everyone seems to have a different idea of what needs to be done with his body...
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine, and Mildred Natwick.

This is... a very awkward movie. It's *almost* charming, but it keeps just being slightly off. It's all too subdued and underplayed for what's going on, and despite all the drama, that subtlety makes it feel like there aren't any stakes. At the risk of stereotyping, it seems far, far too British for its largely American cast. It's a combination of strange actor direction and a wobbly script, neither of which are complaints I typically have about Hitchcock. This is one movie I would actually love to see a remake of, because it's so close to being something sort of morbidly delightful and funny and dark, and instead it just sort of... sits there, unpacked.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Trouble With Harry < 12 Monkeys
The Trouble With Harry > Sharknado
The Trouble With Harry > The Perfect Score
The Trouble With Harry > War of the Buttons
The Trouble With Harry > Tin Man
The Trouble With Harry > Checking Out
The Trouble With Harry < Matchstick Men
The Trouble With Harry < The Day After Tomorrow
The Trouble With Harry > The Man in the Iron Mask
The Trouble With Harry > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
The Trouble With Harry < Outbreak

Final spot: #1373 out of 2680.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Fly (1986)

IMDb plot summary: A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.
Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, and John Getz.

(Spoilers ahead.)

I watched the original 1958 version of The Fly earlier this year, and these could not be more different in tone. The original brought to mind a comparison with Shakespearean tragedy or ancient myths -- a noble genius brought to a tragic end by his hubris. This one is much ickier, less noble, and if it's a commentary on anything, I feel it's much more about male/female relationships. Both male characters in this are such unpleasant characters (even before one of them is turned into a monster). In the original, we sympathize with the scientist, despite his terrible decisions. In this one, Geena Davis is the only one to root for, and she's really great, but it's upsetting to see her tossed from awful man to awful man when I wish she'd be given a little more agency instead of somehow giving her creepy boss the role of hero.

Random other thoughts: The body horror visuals are horrifying and effective. The final scene is deliciously terrifying. I'm disturbed that we never learn what happens to the baby, unless they were deliberately trying to leave it open for a sequel, in which case, bleh. Not as emotionally powerful as the original.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Fly > George of the Jungle
The Fly < Split
The Fly > At First Sight
The Fly < Husbands and Wives
The Fly < Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The Fly > The Major and the Minor
The Fly < Borstal Boy
The Fly > Malcom X
The Fly > Monsters
The Fly > Jesus Christ Superstar (2000)
The Fly < The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Final spot: #945 out of 2679.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

IMDb plot summary: Imprisoned, the almighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.
Directed by Taika Waititi. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, and Tessa Thompson.

Some random scattered thoughts on Thor: It's interesting that the third Thor movie made me care so much more about the Incredible Hulk than two movies of his own and two Avengers movies. Sometimes the humor feels a bit out of place, a bit modern for this fantastical mythological story being told, but it's still enjoyable. It's dumb that they brought Loki back only for his character arc to be pretty insignificant, that seems just obvious fangirl service. Hela is a fantastic villain. I had a good time with this but, like Guardians 2, it's going to completely flow out of my mind in a week or two.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Thor: Ragnarok > George of the Jungle
Thor: Ragnarok < Split
Thor: Ragnarok > At First Sight
Thor: Ragnarok > Husbands and Wives (this is too high)
Thor: Ragnarok < Loins of Punjab Presents
Thor: Ragnarok > The Gold Rush
Thor: Ragnarok > Florence Foster Jenkins
Thor: Ragnarok > You Can't Take It With You
Thor: Ragnarok < Mr. Holmes
Thor: Ragnarok < A Serious Man
Thor: Ragnarok > Porco Rosso

Final spot: #760 out of 2678.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Le Bonheur (1965)

IMDb plot summary: François, a young carpenter, lives a happy, uncomplicated life with his wife Thérèse and their two small children. One day he meets Emilie, a clerk in the local post office.
Directed by Agnès Varda. Starring Jean-Claude Drouot, Claire Drouot, and Marie-France Boyer.

2.5 stars.

I somehow forgot to keep track of how it actually entered my Flickchart, but its final ranking is at #1268 out of 2677, below Water for Elephants and above The Adjustment Bureau.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hanna (2011)

IMDb plot summary: A sixteen-year-old girl who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.
Directed by Joe Wright. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, and Jessica Barden.

This is... fine, and the characters are interesting and the story is okay, and the whole thing looks fantastic. It just also feels very empty, like I can't quite figure out what the point of making this was.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Hanna < George of the Jungle
Hanna > Quigley Down Under
Hanna > Love's Labour's Lost
Hanna > Shanghai Knights
Hanna > My Best Friend's Wedding
Hanna < Born Yesterday
Hanna > The Apostle
Hanna > Despicable Me
Hanna > Lust for Love
Hanna < Dear Frankie
Final spot: #1384 out of 2676.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Begin Again (2013)

IMDb plot summary: A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter, new to Manhattan, turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents.
Directed by John Carney. Starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, James Corden, and Hailee Steinfeld.

This was apparently directed by the guy who did Once, which I totally get. The music is less interesting and the story less strong, but it's got the same kind of charm. And this may be the most I've ever liked Mark Ruffalo in a movie.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Begin Again > Ghostbusters (1984)
Begin Again < Chariots of Fire
Begin Again > At First Sight
Begin Again > Husbands and Wives
Begin Again > Rogue One
Begin Again > Finder's Fee
Begin Again > La jetee
Begin Again < Gone in 60 Seconds
Begin Again < The Impossible
Begin Again > The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
Begin Again < The Butler

Final spot: #686 out of 2675.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)

IMDb plot summary: The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history.
Directed by D.W. Griffith. Starring Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Robert Harron, and F.A. Turner.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Intolerance < George of the Jungle
Intolerance > Rio Bravo
Intolerance < Love's Labour's Lost
Intolerance > The Proposal
Intolerance < The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Intolerance < The Bishop's Wife
Intolerance > The Forest
Intolerance > Carol
Intolerance > The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Intolerance > Running With Scissors
Intolerance > Mr. Nice Guy
Final spot: #1797 out of 2674.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! (1966)

IMDb plot summary: Without hostile intent, a Soviet sub runs aground off New England. Men are sent for a boat, but many villagers go into a tizzy, risking bloodshed.
Directed by Norman Jewison. Starring Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Alan Arkin, and Brian Keith.

Oh, this is so silly and delightful. It's the kind of movie that I could never see getting Oscar nominations now but I'm so glad it did then. It's a wonderfully warm-hearted and well-intentioned war comedy, which are not adjectives war comedies tend to be.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! > Ghostbusters
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! > Split
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! < Benny & Joon
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! < The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! > We're No Angels (1955)
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! > Gone Baby Gone
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! > Mr. Brooks
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! < The Goodbye Girl (2004)
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! < The Florida Project
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! < Dog Day Afternoon
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming! < A Streetcar Named Desire
Final spot: #522 out of 2673.

One 2 Ka 4 (2001)

IMDb plot summary: When a cop's partner is killed in the line of duty, he assumed guardianship of his orphaned children while investigating the murder.
Directed by Shashilal K. Nair. Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Jackie Shroff, and Nirmal Pandey.

I enjoy silly Bollywood movies, but they've got to at least pretend what their characters do makes sense. This one really doesn't, plus it's full of horrible children. Not one of my favorites.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
One 2 Ka 4 < Ghostbusters
One 2 Ka 4 > Julia
One 2 Ka 4 < Love's Labour's Lost
One 2 Ka 4 < Paint Your Wagon
One 2 Ka 4 < The Happiest Millionaire
One 2 Ka 4 > The Rescuers Down Under
One 2 Ka 4 > The Spanish Prisoner
One 2 Ka 4 < Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier
One 2 Ka 4 > Doc Hollywood
One 2 Ka 4 > Bedtime for Bonzo

Final spot: #1933 out of 2671. (1.5 stars.)

Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

IMDb plot summary: A wealthy composer rescues unemployed Broadway performers with a new play.
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Starring Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, and Aline McMahon.

Early Hollywood musicals tend to be heavy on spectacle, light on narrative and coherent characterization. This definitely fits the bill, but the big musical numbers do look so stunning it's almost enough to carry it all the way through. If only there had been more than three of them! I did find myself often rolling my eyes at the poorly-defined characters and the half-written troubles they find themselves in, so I definitely wish the movie had gone the jukebox musical route of filling its runtime with so many great songs you don't realize until the end how thin the rest of it is. I found myself glued to the screen during some of these numbers, and choosing my favorite screenshot of the movie was incredibly difficult because so much of it looks fantastic.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Gold Diggers of 1933 > Ghostbusters
Gold Diggers of 1933 < Chariots of Fire
Gold Diggers of 1933 < At First Sight
Gold Diggers of 1933 > Star Trek Into Darkness
Gold Diggers of 1933 < A Separation
Gold Diggers of 1933 < Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken
Gold Diggers of 1933 > Swing Time
Gold Diggers of 1933 > Wild Zero
Gold Diggers of 1933 < The Ring
Gold Diggers of 1933 < Descendants
Gold Diggers of 1933 < The Gift
Gold Diggers of 1933 < Cat's Eye

Final spot: #1138 out of 2672.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Song of the South (1945)

IMDb plot summary: The kindly story-teller Uncle Remus tells a young boy stories about trickster Br'er Rabbit, who outwits Br'er Fox and slow-witted Br'er Bear.
Directed by Wilfred Jackson and Harve Foster. Starring James Baskett, Bobby Driscoll, Ruth Warrick, and Luana Patten.

I didn't know very much about this film aside from the controversy over its racist portrayal of African-Americans in the south. I definitely see those elements in here. While the film purportedly takes place after the Civil War and the characters here are not plantation slaves, there is a definite air of subservience and passivity to the African-American characters -- Uncle Remus's entire purpose is to tell encouraging stories to the young white boy -- and it is uncomfortable to watch.

Fortunately, there's not much of a conflict here between my discomfort with the negative stereotypes and my enjoyment of the film, because I didn't think it was terribly good to begin with. The animated sequences are well done and many of the songs are enjoyable (incidentally, I suppose I'm glad that the animated characters were played by actual African-American actors, not white actors adopting a dialect? I think?) but the story framing them is thin, awkward, and doesn't allow time for the miraculous changes supposedy wrought by Uncle Remus' stories. The final scene is particularly silly, when the father abruptly reappears, no explanations, no indications of whether what took him away in the first place was resolved, apparently hinting that they're going to live with Grandmother forever now and not return to Atlanta.

I'm glad I've seen it to help cross off my Disney list but I certainly don't have any reason to watch it again.

1 star.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Song of the South < George of the Jungle
Song of the South < Rio Bravo
Song of the South > The Great Train Robbery
Song of the South < Doctor Zhivago
Song of the South < Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Song of the South > Stalker
Song of the South < Frankenstein
Song of the South > Mamma Mia!
Song of the South < Fame (2009)
Song of the South > David Copperfield (1935)
Song of the South > Me Before You

Final spot: #2280 out of 2670.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fright Night (1985)

IMDb plot summary: When a teenager learns that his next door neighbour is a vampire, no one will believe him.
Directed by Tom Holland. Starring Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, and Roddy McDowall.

Lately I've been finding myself giving just about every movie I see a mid-to-low ranking and I've been wondering if I wasn't in a positive movie-watching mood or if I had been seeing just that many mediocre movies. Well, whichever one it is, the streak has been broken, because I LOVED this. I've seen the 2011 remake with Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, and David Tennant, and I had a great time with it, but I recall it basically wearing its camp on its sleeve, ramping everything up into a fast-paced meta melodrama horror. This one is surprisingly a little quieter, with the first chunk of the movie leaning heavily on slow creepy scenes before it jumps into wild gross effects in the latter half. Both halves of the movie are equally interesting, though, and I didn't at all feel disappointed when faces started melting and goo started dripping because after all that build, I wanted to see some stuff go crazy, and it really, really did. SO much fun.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Fright Night > Ghostbusters (1984)
Fright Night > Catfish
Fright Night > The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Fright Night < A Charlie Brown Christmas
Fright Night > Horrible Bosses
Fright Night < District 9
Fright Night < Love and Death
Fright Night > High School Musical 2
Fright Night < Life of Brian
Fright Night < Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Fright Night > Kick-Ass (...Why is this so high on my chart?)
Final spot: #236 out of 2670.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

UHF (1989)

IMDb plot summary: An unemployed visionary becomes the manager of a local public station. The station becomes a success, with all sorts of hilarious sight gags and wacky humor.
Directed by Jay Levey. Starring "Weird Al" Yankovic, Victoria Jackson, Kevin McCarthy, and Michael Richards.

Earlier in my current movie challenge I watched Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and it did *not* go over well. This one reminded me of it on more than one occasion. They both have a sense of playful goofiness, but this one is (somehow) slightly more grounded. There are actual stakes involved, the characters are quirky but they're mostly acknowledged as quirky within the world so I don't feel like I'm watching a group of aliens trying to be human. A lot of the humor does *not* work for me here and just goes for the most childish option, but there's a goofy sincerity here I kind of admire, and I can absolutely see this being something I'd love as a child. As an adult it doesn't sit quite as well, but it's all right.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
UHF > Trainwreck
UHF < Catfish
UHF < The Player
UHF > Marathon
UHF > Laura
UHF > Pi
UHF < The Red Shoes
UHF < Star Trek: First Contact
UHF < Finding Dory
UHF > Wide Awake
UHF < Stalag 17

Final spot: #1039 out of 2669.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Wild Zero (1999)

IMDb plot summary: Only legendary Japanese garage rock band Guitar Wolf can stand between a race of aliens from destroying earth with an army of zombies.
Directed by Tetsuro Takeuchi. Starring Guitar Wolf, Drum Wolf, Bass Wolf, and Masashi Endô.

The concept of this movie is more fun than the actual execution, for me. In theory, a punk rock biker zombie flick sounds *amazing*, but it can't quite maintain that energy and I ended up spending a lot of time watching people I didn't care about do things that didn't matter to me. There are some terrifically fun elements, so it does land in the upper half of my chart, but I didn't like it as much as I wanted to once I realized what it was. I'm glad I got to watch it though!

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Wild Zero > Trainwreck
Wild Zero < High Strung
Wild Zero < Manhattan Murder Mystery
Wild Zero > Marathon
Wild Zero < A Separation
Wild Zero < Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken
Wild Zero > Adam
Wild Zero > A Tale of Two Sisters
Wild Zero < The Ring
Wild Zero < Descendants
Wild Zero < The Gift
Wild Zero < Cat's Eye

Final spot: #1136 out of 2668.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Florida Project (2017)

IMDb plot summary: Set over one summer, the film follows precocious 6-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.
Directed by Sean Baker. Starring Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Valerie Cotto, and Bria Vinaite.

Mild spoilers ahead.

This is kind of an amazing movie. So much of that has to go to the character of the young child Moonee and the *amazing* actress that plays her. This is some of the best child acting I've ever seen. (That final scene with her and Jancey... Wow.) She's surrounded by equally great adult actors, but since most of the story centers around her viewpoint, she could have easily tanked the whole thing if she hadn't been perfect. Fortunately, that's not the case.

At first I wasn't sold on the ending. It reminded me of what I dislike most about the Coens -- their tendency to end their movies in the middle of a scene, and not even a scene that feels climactic. I had to do a little digging and read other reviewers' takes on the film's final few shots before I could get on board. Now, though, I think it works, and it left me feeling simultaneously hopeful and sad for the characters I'd grown to empathize with, though I couldn't say I'd grown to love them (they are so aggressive and combative I always felt myself bristling a bit as they interacted with others). I have a feeling this one will climb higher the longer I sit with it.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Florida Project > Trainwreck
The Florida Project > Cloud Atlas
The Florida Project < Benny & Joon
The Florida Project < The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
The Florida Project > The Producers (2005)
The Florida Project > We're Not Married!
The Florida Project > Jack Goes Boating
The Florida Project < The Goodbye Girl (2004)
The Florida Project > The Great Race
The Florida Project < Get Out
Final spot: #514 out of 2666.

The Monkey King (2014)

IMDb plot summary: A monkey born from heavenly stone acquires supernatural powers and must battle the armies of both gods and demons to find his place in the heavens.
Directed by Pou-Soi Cheang. Starring Donnie Yen, Yun-Fat Chow, Aaron Kwok, and Yitian Hai.

Like so many Chinese fantasy films I've seen, this looks stunning. Lots of fairy tale elements to the images that really bring it home, and the scene where the titular character laments his murdered tribe is beautifully done. That being said, the movie as a whole doesn't really work for me despite liking so many individual elements and it's hard to say why.

2.5 stars.

The Monkey King < Trainwreck
The Monkey King > Seasons of the Heart
The Monkey King < A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The Monkey King > The Secret of My Success
The Monkey King < Cellular
The Monkey King > Running With Scissors
The Monkey King > Dr. No
The Monkey King < I Remember Mama
The Monkey King > MASH
The Monkey King < Dr. Strangelove

Final spot: #1764 out of 2665.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

IMDb plot summary: The Griswold family's plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.
Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik. Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Juliette Lewis, and Johnny Galecki.

I can see why people love this. Even when the jokes didn't land for me (frequently), I think it's an extraordinarily well-crafted comedy, building the chaos really well so that it never felt too zany too quickly. It's not at all my comedy style, but I can appreciate it for what it is. (As a side note, Clark would have been a much more likable character if we had not had that extended scene toward the beginning where he lied about being married so he could flirt with the checkout girl. Every interaction he had with his wife after that just made me feel sad for her.)

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation < To Be or Not to Be (1942)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation > Seasons of the Heart
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation > The Day of the Triffids
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation > Everyone Says I Love You
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation < Dear Frankie
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation > Oblivion
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation < Battle of the Sexes
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation > Wedding Crashers
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation < Martian Child

Final spot: #1388 out of 2664.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Enemy of the State (1998)

IMDb plot summary: A lawyer becomes a target by a corrupt politician and his NSA goons when he accidentally receives key evidence to a serious politically motivated crime.
Directed by Tony Scott. Starring Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, and Lisa Bonet.

A fluffy, forgettable paranoid thriller. Will Smith, as always, is an effortlessly charming action star.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Enemy of the State < To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Enemy of the State > Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
Enemy of the State < The Day of the Triffids
Enemy of the State > Cinderella (1950)
Enemy of the State > Saturday Night Fever
Enemy of the State > Blackadder Back & Forth
Enemy of the State < Bowling for Columbine
Enemy of the State > Kiss Me Kate
Enemy of the State < My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
Enemy of the State < Mulholland Dr.
Enemy of the State > Over the Hedge

Final spot: #1693 out of 2663.

mother! (2017)

IMDb plot summary: A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

It's hard to put into words how I feel about this one, but it's not like I could leave it NOT reviewed. The film feels like an emotional punch in the gut and is at times very difficult to watch, largely thanks to a heartwrenching performance from Jennifer Lawrence and a near-constant sense of stomach-churning nightmare surrealism. The images are so striking that it's almost disappointing to then resign yourself to the fact that this film has a definite *meaning*, particularly if, like me, you find Darren Aronofsky's official answer deeply unsatisfying. It's certainly a film that will sit with me but I don't connect with it the way I have many of Aronosky's previous work, since as a surrealist allegory it's limited on things like characterization.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
mother! > To Be or Not to Be (1942)
mother! < Zootopia
mother! < A Matter of Life and Death
mother! > Marathon
mother! < Laura
mother! < Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken
mother! > Adam
mother! < Who Framed Roger Rabbit
mother! < Seven Chances
mother! > Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
mother! > Ghost World
mother! < Modern Times

Final spot: #1139 out of 2662.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Battle of the Sexes (2017)

IMDb plot summary: The true story of the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs.
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Starring Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, and Natalie Morales.

Fun, but the pacing is weird and ultimately it's going to be forgettable. I also somehow can't tell if Stone and Carell are really good in this or really not good.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Battle of the Sexes < To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Battle of the Sexes > Passion
Battle of the Sexes > Mr. Pip
Battle of the Sexes > Rack, Shack & Benny
Battle of the Sexes > Music Within
Battle of the Sexes < Dear Frankie
Battle of the Sexes > The Whistleblower
Battle of the Sexes > Office Space
Battle of the Sexes < Cafe Society
Final spot: #1383 out of 2661.

Monday, October 2, 2017

What Lies Beneath (2000)

IMDb plot summary: The wife of a university research scientist believes that her lakeside Vermont home is haunted by a ghost - or that she is losing her mind.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford, Diana Scarwid, and Miranda Otto.

I was hopeful for this one. I like Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford, I like Robert Zemeckis, I like psychological thriller/horrors. This, however, was better in theory than in execution. The dialogue is pretty clunky, the acting is very over-the-top, and the final chase scene was pretty clearly supposed to carry the rest of the movie but went on for far, far too long and required way too much suspension of disbelief. The movie would have been significantly stronger if it had ended about 15 minutes earlier. Still not a strong movie, but stronger. It's a bummer it didn't work for me, because I do like the premise, and the mystery unfolds in an interesting way, but it is regrettably sloppy.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
What Lies Beneath < Trainwreck
What Lies Beneath > Passion
What Lies Beneath < The Day of the Triffids
What Lies Beneath > Cinderella (1950)
What Lies Beneath > Saturday Night Fever
What Lies Beneath < Alice in Wonderland (1999)
What Lies Beneath > Marathon Man
What Lies Beneath < Legend
What Lies Beneath < Defending Your Life
What Lies Beneath < Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
What Lies Beneath > The Toy That Saved Christmas

Final spot: #1722 out of 2660.

Batman Returns (1992)

IMDb plot summary: When a corrupt businessman and the grotesque Penguin plot to take control of Gotham City, only Batman can stop them, while the Catwoman has her own agenda.
Directed by Tim Burton. Starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Christopher Walken.

Like most franchise movies, it's fairly difficult for me to evaluate this on its own as a partial story, much less to distinguish it from other movies in the series, but I think this is a pretty good one. It's definitely got a fun and distinct Tim Burton vibe to it, and the Danny Elfman score is great. Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman is my favorite part of the movie, though. She's got this amazing tragic arc that made me care about her in a way I didn't care about anyone else, and it made me far, far more interested in Catwoman as a character than I'd ever been before. Good flick, still going to confuse it with other Batman movies.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Batman Returns > Snakes on a Plane
Batman Returns < Zootopia
Batman Returns < A Matter of Life and Death
Batman Returns > Marathon
Batman Returns > Laura
Batman Returns > Inside Llewyn Davis
Batman Returns > Journey to the Center of the Earth
Batman Returns < Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Batman Returns > Stage Fright (2014)
Batman Returns < Star Trek: Generations
Final spot: #1012 out of 2659.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Man on Wire (2008)

IMDb plot summary: A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century".
Directed by James Marsh.

Documentaries are always kind of difficult to rank because on some level I have to trick myself into thinking they're "normal" movies so I can think of them in the same camp. My favorite documentaries are the ones that help me trick myself most. This one falls somewhere in the middle. There's no doubt it's a fascinating story, and the final 15-20 minutes are captivating to mostly sell me on the full film, but I appreciate it more than I enjoy it simply because the documentary format distances me. It does help that our central character is very charismatic and fun to watch. He clearly is so delighted by what he has done that it's easy for him to pull the audience in as well.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Man on Wire > Snakes on a Plane
Man on Wire > Hannah Arendt
Man on Wire < Benny & Joon
Man on Wire < Nativity!
Man on Wire < Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Man on Wire > Crossing Delancey
Man on Wire < Anne of Green Gables
Man on Wire < Widow's Peak
Man on Wire < Leap of Faith
Man on Wire > Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Man on Wire < Mad Max: Fury Road

Final spot: #619 out of 2658.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Black Stallion (1979)

IMDb plot summary: While traveling with his father, young Alec becomes fascinated by a mysterious Arabian stallion who is brought on board and stabled in the ship he is sailing on. When it tragically sinks both he and the horse survive only to be stranded on a desert island. He befriends it, so when finally rescued, both return to his home where they soon meet Henry Dailey, a once-successful trainer. Together they begin training the stallion to race against the fastest horses in the world.
Directed by Carroll Ballard. Starring Kelly Reno, Mickey Rooney, Teri Garr, and Clarence Muse.

While I have to give this movie some credit for its creative choice to seriously limit the dialogue and make an almost-silent movie, horse movies are never going to rank highly on my chart.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Black Stallion < Snakes on a Plane
The Black Stallion > To Have and Have Not
The Black Stallion < The Day of the Triffids
The Black Stallion > Arlington Road
The Black Stallion > Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Black Stallion < Blackadder Back & Forth
The Black Stallion < The Secret War of Harry Frigg
The Black Stallion > Spaceballs
The Black Stallion < Sullivan's Travels
The Black Stallion > Stardust Memories
The Black Stallion < Give My Regards to Broad Street

Final spot: #1730 out of 2657.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

IMDb plot summary: The Borg travel back in time intent on preventing Earth's first contact with an alien species. Captain Picard and his crew pursue them to ensure that Zefram Cochrane makes his maiden flight reaching warp speed.
Directed by Jonathan Frakes. Starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, and LeVar Burton.

I had a good time with this. When it comes to Star Trek I'm more a TOS fan than TNG (I can't even say I've seen all TNG episodes) so I went in with a little less character buy-in than would be ideal, but this was a fun saga. None of the individual storylines wowed me, but all together they combined to make an entertaining movie. It's difficult to write this review without simply using the word "fun" all the time, because a stronger adjective oversells my experience and a weaker adjective doesn't do it justice. It was... simply fun. No more, no less.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Star Trek: First Contact > Snakes on a Plane
Star Trek: First Contact < Zootopia
Star Trek: First Contact < A Matter of Life and Death
Star Trek: First Contact > Quills
Star Trek: First Contact > Let the Right One In
Star Trek: First Contact > Dan in Real Life
Star Trek: First Contact < Flight of the Navigator
Star Trek: First Contact > Finding Dory
Star Trek: First Contact < The Stepford Wives (1975)
Star Trek: First Contact > Hamlet (1990)
Star Trek: First Contact > Logan's Run

Final spot: #1022 out of 2656.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars (2010)

IMDb plot summary: Young spy Harriet Welsch crosses paths with popular student Marion Hawthorne as the two girls vie to become the official blogger of their high school class.
Directed by Ron Oliver. Starring Jennifer Stone, Kristin Booth, Wesley Morgan, and Doug Murray.

I ... don't really know why this exists. I'm not a mega fan of the original but it's a much better version of this story. This adaptation adds nothing to the characters or themes. Harriet the Spy does *not* need to be updated to include weirdly secret-not-secret blogs and Disney channel musical star parodies. Nor does the story really work when you age your character up to like 15 but still make her act like she's 11. All the "modernized" changes don't really work and shove out any room the movie had for actual character development. It's just a sloppy modern remake with an incredibly awkward ending, bad acting, and a juvenile plot. I guess the good news is I can't take it seriously enough to *really* hate it.

0.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < Snakes on a Plane
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < The Hiding Place
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < Big Business
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars > Super Troopers
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars > Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < Basic Instinct
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < The Painted Veil
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars > VeggieTales: An Easter Carol
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < Mission to Mars
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < Son of Flubber
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars > Revenge of the Sith
Final spot: #2394 out of 2655.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

IMDb plot summary: High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
Directed by Alfonzo Gomez-Rejon. Starring Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, and Nick Offerman.

The inevitable comparison here is to The Fault in Our Stars (which I liked quite a bit). Me and Earl goes for the comedy much more often and it almost always works for me. While both movies have characters that can easily fall into the pretentious "old soul" category (they like old foreign movies! And poetry! And jazz!), this movie handles it better and I was less aware of its tropey-ness. It's also shot creatively, in a way that made me sit up and pay attention.

However, there's one glaring flaw in this movie, and that is how little personality Rachel gets throughout. She doesn't get a name in the title and basically all we know about her throughout the movie is that she a) has cancer, b) doesn't like everybody talking to her about it -- but who would? -- and c) makes cool little book sculptures, though we don't find that out until the very end of the movie. Even Rachel's mother has a more distinct character arc. TFiOS may have been full of Mary Sueish characters, but at least they had distinct, creative personalities. Here, it's hard to see Rachel as anything more than a plot device for the central character himself. Fortunately, I *like* that central character and I hink he's fleshed out beautifully, but it definitely rubs me the wrong way to see the titular "dying girl" used the way she is. The more I think about it, the more it bothers me, and the more it overshadows my more positive feelings about the rest of the film.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > Snakes on a Plane
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl < Zootopia
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > A Matter of Life and Death
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > Draft Day (why is this so high on my chart?)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > Porco Rosso
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl < The Artist
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > Three Colors: White
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl < Mean Girls
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl < Star Trek (2009)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > Lethal Weapon
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl < Idiocracy

Final spot: #722 out of 2654.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Gremlins (1984)

IMDb plot summary: A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
Directed by Joe Dante. Starring Hoyt Axton, Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Corey Feldman.

This movie is very weird. It's a bizarre blend of comedy, horror, fantasy, holiday movie, and animal adventure, and somehow it all kind of works. There are genuine laughs and genuine scares and a genuinely cute creature. I would have liked to see a little bit more development of the human characters -- that's handled pretty halfheartedly -- but there's a lot to like about this.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Gremlins > Ghost
Gremlins > The Englishman Who Went up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain
Gremlins < I've Loved You So Long
Gremlins < Nativity!
Gremlins > The Dictator
Gremlins > Hoodwinked!
Gremlins < Robot and Frank
Gremlins < Father of the Bride (1991)
Gremlins > Match Point
Gremlins < Hairspray Live!

Final spot: #532 out of 2653.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

IMDb plot summary: A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family.
Directed by Jee-woon Kim. Starring Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Soo-jung Lim, and Geun-young Moon.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
A Tale of Two Sisters > Ghost
A Tale of Two Sisters < Kolya
A Tale of Two Sisters < Charlie St. Cloud
A Tale of Two Sisters > Three Amigos
A Tale of Two Sisters < Extraordinary Measures
A Tale of Two Sisters < The Ring
A Tale of Two Sisters > Nine Lives
A Tale of Two Sisters > Ghost World
A Tale of Two Sisters < Cat's Eye
A Tale of Two Sisters > Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
A Tale of Two Sisters < Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Final spot: #1125 out of 2652.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Kanal (1957)

IMDb plot summary: In 1944, during the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis, Polish Lieutenant Zadra and his resistance fighters use Warsaw's sewer system to escape the German encirclement.
Directed by Andrzej Wajda. Starring Teresa Izewska, Tadeusz Janczar, Wienczyslaw Glinski, and Tadeusz Gwiazdowski.

Holy moley, this was depressing. But good. I think. It's definitely a movie that will stick with me.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Kanal > Alice (1990)
Kanal < Kolya
Kanal > Premium Rush
Kanal > Two Weeks Notice
Kanal > Radio Days
Kanal > Sleeping Beauty
Kanal > A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit
Kanal < Chronicle
Kanal > The Reader
Kanal > Atonement
Kanal > The Abyss

Final spot: #674 out of 2651.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Harakiri (1962)

IMDb plot summary: An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi. Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita, and Tetsurô Tanba.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Harakiri > American Hustle
Harakiri < The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain
Harakiri < The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
Harakiri > Away From Her
Harakiri < Judgment at Nuremberg
Harakiri > Prometheus
Harakiri > The Elephant Man
Harakiri > The Prestige
Harakiri > Ender's Game
Harakiri < Out of Sight

Final spot: #1081 out of 2650.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Heartbreak Kid (2007)

IMDb plot summary: A newly wed man who believes he's just gotten hitched to the perfect woman encounters another lady on his honeymoon.
Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly. Starring Ben Stiller, Malin Akerman, Michelle Monaghan, and Jerry Stiller.

A Farrelly brothers remake of what had been a Neil Simon screenplay... couldn't figure out whether I'd love or hate it. Well, I'll tell you, it's pretty easy to identify the Farrelly parts, and I hated those, but I could see where it could have been a much better movie. Malin Akerman especially has some funny moments with the little tiny things that drive her new husband up the wall. Overall I'd much rather go back and watch the original movie without random gross-out body humor added in to a story in which it Does Not Fit.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Heartbreak Kid < Company (2011)
The Heartbreak Kid > Nick Nolte: No Exit
The Heartbreak Kid > Cinderella (1965)
The Heartbreak Kid < Patriots Day
The Heartbreak Kid > Cropsey
The Heartbreak Kid > The Woman in Black
The Heartbreak Kid > Quiz Show
The Heartbreak Kid > The Ides of March
The Heartbreak Kid < L.A. Confidential
The Heartbreak Kid > So I Married an Axe Murderer
The Heartbreak Kid < The Hurt Locker

Final spot: #1496 out of 2648.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fury (2014)

IMDb plot summary: A grizzled tank commander makes tough decisions as he and his crew fight their way across Germany in April, 1945.
Directed by David Ayer. Starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, and Michael Peña.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Fury > Beach Party
Fury < The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain
Fury > Don Jon
Fury < The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
Fury > The Duellists
Fury < A Serious Man
Fury < Snowpiercer
Fury > Dave and the Giant Pickle
Fury > My Week With Marilyn
Fury < Synecdoche, New York
Final spot: #894 out of 2647.

Transformers (2007)

IMDb plot summary: An ancient struggle between two Cybertronian races, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons, comes to Earth, with a clue to the ultimate power held by a teenager.
Directed by Michael Bay. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, and Tyrese Gibson.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Transformers < Company (2011)
Transformers > Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
Transformers < Cinderella (1965)
Transformers > Snatch.
Transformers < Dr. Strangelove
Transformers < The Life of David Gale
Transformers < Burlesque
Transformers < Paint Your Wagon
Transformers > Arlington Road
Transformers > Cinderella (1950)
Transformers < Thoroughly Modern Millie
Final spot: #1811 out of 2646.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Gift (2000)

IMDb plot summary: A woman with extrasensory perception is asked to help find a young woman who has disappeared.
Directed by Sam Raimi. Starring Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves, and Greg Kinnear.

This is kind of an unusual movie. Cate Blanchett is much more downplayed than usual, playing a psychic who almost seems to wish nobody knew about her gift and that she could just get along under everyone's radar. There are a bunch of other big-name actors that have varying role sizes, but she's the most interesting, partly because she's the only one written with any even implied depth and partly because Blanchett could take on any role under the sun and make it interesting.

The mystery itself unfolds somewhat predictably, but the addition of the supernatural adds a fun little twist into it. I do get the sense the movie wanted to be more shocking and more beautiful than it actually turned out to be, but it was interesting enough to keep pulling me along. I'm not sure I could confidently say it was a good movie, but Blanchett and the slightly more original twist on the genre made it a fun one to watch.

Wait. I FORGOT THIS WAS DIRECTED BY SAM RAIMI. Well, that makes all the sense.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Gift > Beach Party
The Gift < Kolya
The Gift > Stage Fright (2014)
The Gift < Out of Sight
The Gift > Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
The Gift < Notorious
The Gift < Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken
The Gift < The Ring
The Gift > Prometheus
The Gift < Descendants

Final spot: #1112 out of 2645.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Jack Strong (2014)

IMDb plot summary: The most spectacular Polish spy of the Cold War era, Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski, informs Americans about the Communist Bloc's top secrets in the face of the upcoming martial law.
Directe by Wladyslaw Pasikowski. Starring Marcin Dorocinski, Maja Ostaszewska, Patrick Wilson, and Dimitri Bilov.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Jack Strong > Beach Party
Jack Strong < Kolya
Jack Strong < Interstellar
Jack Strong < The Matador
Jack Strong < Water for Elephants
Jack Strong < Lord of War
Jack Strong > Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Jack Strong < The Lion in Winter (2003)
Jack Strong < Ran
Jack Strong < Single White Female
Jack Strong > House of Flying Daggers
Final spot: #1299 out of 2644.

CBGB (2013)

IMDb plot summary: A look at the New York City punk-rock scene and the venerable nightclub, CBGB.
Directed by Randall Miller. Starring Alan Rickman, Ashley Greene, Richard de Klerk, and Freddy Rodriguez.

I knew absolutely nothing about this movie or the club and people that inspired it, so I went in completely blind. Right away my attention was captured by the creative packaging of the story in comic book form, dealing with exposition through text bubbles and captions, a device that I thought worked well and captured the spirit of the story. I was also particularly taken with the pacing of the film, which is unusual for a biopic. It jumps from moment to moment, only showing the most interesting or most important parts, and then skipping the rest or covering it in sketch or montage, but somehow I never felt like we were skipping along too fast.

Alan Rickman is not the first person I would have chosen to play Jewish guy from New Jersey, and his casting was occasionally distracting, but he faded nicely into the role as the movie went on. Overall, I had a good time with this movie and am happy it was assigned to me for this challenge. Nicely done!

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
CBGB > The Family Man
CBGB > The Englishman Who Went up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain
CBGB < The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
CBGB < The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
CBGB > Little Children
CBGB > Hoodwinked!
CBGB < Jack Goes Boating
CBGB < Mary and Max
CBGB > Match Point
CBGB < Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Final spot: #530 out of 2643.