Thursday, January 18, 2007

the first 30 pictures i saw this year: brief reviews

I wrote this on my facebook "blog" so the writing is casual

Da Vinci Code-I didn’t really buy many of the negative reviews, because most people were just comparing it to the book. It was a pretty damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t situation for Ron Howard because everyone was complaining about opposite things like “oh, I expected the heroine to be more assertive”, “the heroine was too assertive” “it stuck too closely to the book”, “it didn’t stick closely enough”, etc., etc. etc. In the end it was a good movie

Poseidon-I like this film because it knows it has nothing to offer in the way of good acting or plot, and just admits it up front: It wastes no more than 8 minutes getting to the action and explosions and it plays out pretty fun, and is a curious case of lifeboat ethics.

X-Men 3-Not that bad. I mean, seriously, there are sequels that are so much worse than this. (see Pirates of the Carribean)

Superman Returns: The mistake of this movie is thinking that a hyperrealistic setting like the ones used for X-Men and Spiderman could work for Superman, but come on, this is a guy with a cape who flies around the city and other than a pair of glasses makes no attempts whatsoever to conceal his identity? I mean no one in the office of top-notch journalists would find it suspicious that Superman and Clark Kent return on the same day? Good special effects, though, but story put me to sleep

Cars-People were comparing it to Toy Story 2 or Finding Nemo, who cares. Those films are in the past. This is a good film now. Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, and Larry the Cable Guy were all great and I loved how they really went all the way with it.

Lady in the Water: My first M. Night Shamylan film, so I was pretty impressed by how daring and original he was. It is really a very absurd story looking back, but when you’re in the theater you’re pretty entrenched and there’s a lot of subtle beauty to it. A really memorable score and Paul Giamatti has a good performance

Prairie Home Companion: Awesome, awesome film but people make the mistake of thinking it’s a movie about Garrison Kiellor: In truth, it’s about the director and it’s autobiographical. A very interesting, slow meditative piece with a talented cast and a the breezy music that goes along with it is great

You, Me and Dupree: Better than the trailer makes it look. Owen Wilson’s actually better in this than the Wedding Crashers, I thought. In fact, I think Owen Wilson starts out as his Wedding Crasher persona: a womanizing jerk, but he shows at the movie goes on that he really is a very sincere guy.

Click: Worst film of the year. Terrible. Even by Adam Sandler standards. Random humor doesn’t equal funniness. Am I the only one who thinks Adam Sandler is the least deserving movie star ever to emerge from SNL, in contrast…

Talladega Nights-A great follow-up to Anchorman. Not as funny as Anchorman but has more heart (especially with the father/son relationship), and it still has its moments. Remember the scene where the dad scotch tapes cereal to the bottom of his son’s car and as a driving lesson tells him he has crack under the seat and a 10-minute head start on the cops? Plus, it’s hard not to like John C. Riley there.

Devil Wears Prada-Don’t be fooled. It’s very much a chick flick even though it’s getting a lot of year-end rewards. It’s kind of relatable about a recent college grad trying to make it in the world. However for all the cynicism she has about the irrelavent fashion world she’s entering, she ends up on the dark side and the movie tells us to cheer along with her and glorify the fashion industry and looking pretty. By the time we see a montages of Anne Hathaway playing dress up over girl-power music, it cements the movie’s fate.

Pirates of the Carribean 2: It made A LOT of money, but bottom line: If I can’t understand the story and have no clue what the hell is going on, it hurts my movie experience just a little. I still love the first one, I did think Jonny Depp was as awesome as ever and I liked the two main swordfight scenes.

World Trade Center-I’m sick of all the post-9/11 analysis and reflection. It was a tragic event but it’s been in the media so much, why would anyone sit through 2 hours more of it. Well, for me it was free, and I thought it was fairly good. It escaped all the political hooplah and just got down to the story and when you got two people buried under rubble waiting out their last hours to what would probably be their deaths with a rescue mission to save them, then wherever you set it, it’s got the makings of suspense. Also, the two cops were really boring. I met some New York Fire Department members who were there at 911 recently, and they were a lot more colorful than that.

Invincible-Like World Trade Center, they really do those Northeastern accents pretty heavily. I’m not a football person but I ended up liking the movie, because it wasn’t too bombastic or anything.

Little Miss Sunshine-Best picture of the year (or close to it). It’s got such great moments of joy and sorrow, it’s hilarious, and the cast really fleshes out their characters. It’s more than a Steve Carrell picture, I’ll tell you that. It’s a cast that’s 6 people deep.

Employee of the Month-It’s the sign of the apocolypse that not one but two of the lead actors are there to promote other careers. Dane Cook is there to promote himself as a stand-up artist and Jessica Simpson is there to promote herself as a singer and neither can act. Simpson nearly ruins every scene she’s in. The rest of the cast is pretty good and it’s not that bad other than the two main actors. (Memorable line from my gutting team leader Luke (for a day): “well, I’m just here to promote myself as a stud”)

Accepted-A pretty funny movie. Justin Long is a little too geeky to pull off the Ferris Bueller part but I liked his “screw the adult world” attitude. Too bad, it came out before I even went to college or I might have had some ideas of my own.

The Departed-Exciting, thrilling, got a lot of good actors and effective use of “cross-cutting” as us film experts like to call it. What can I say: It’s Scorsesee’s return to form. DiCaprio is really good and so is Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin.

All the King’s Men: It’s got a lot of good actors trying really hard to get an oscar nomination on the basis that they learned a new accent. Kind of confusing and ambigious. I did write a good review of it because I was separating my review into the pros and cons and by the time I got done with the pros, I was out of wordspace so I just sent it in cause I was under a deadline.

Hollywoodland-Awesome. It’s like a film noir movie and one of the few that works at that. Adrien Brody, you rule!

The Black Dahlia-The opposite of everything I just said about Hollywoodland

Catch a Fire-By the time this movie started to get good, it ended. How weird. Tim Robbins is good, Derek Luke yells a lot.

Déjà vu-Let’s see: Out of Time, Man on Fire, Inside Man. Could Hollywood show a little creative effort to not put Denzel Washington in the EXACT same movie role over and over and over again? It’s actually a movie about time traveling and stuff, but the best possible title for this movie “Out of Time” was taken (see sentence one). It’s in New Orleans though and I knew two extras from the movie.

Borat-Kind of gross and borderline offensive to Southerners and the Romanian villagers he completely ripped off, but it’s hilarious. Marginal thumps up.

Bobby-Pretty good. There are a lot of stars in this film and an ensemble/multi-storyline kind of thing going. Some of the stories are worthwhile to tell and some aren’t but more often then not, they are. It’s pretty powerful too. The filmmaker’s love and admiration for Bobby Kennedy is really visible.

For Your Consideration-A rare Christopher Guest and co. miss

Stranger than Fiction-Big announcement: Funnyman is going serious to expand dramatic range! Go to yellow alert! Seriously, why is Will Ferrell in this? An attempt to copy Jim Carrey in the Truman Show? Dustin Hoffman’s pretty good. It has a cool concept behind it and the movie juggles the fine line between a mundane setting and an abstract concept you have to completely suspend your disbelief for. I liked it.

The Good Shephard-Kind of long and hard to follow but a cool movie. I didn’t really get what made Matt Damon’s character tick. It’s better than the Good German, I’m guessing.

Blood Diamond-Great performances, great action, greet scenery, great story. On-location shooting makes a big difference and there’s a lot of action but it’s really a movie about some very grave issues. It did have a little bit of tragedy.

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