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Old September 10 2011, 05:43 AM   #703
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Location: Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Re: Movies Seen in 2011

120. Patton (A)
121. Pan's Labyrinth (A+)
122. The Debt (B+)
123. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (A-)
124. The Pawnbroker (A-)
125. Double Indemnity (A)
126. Mildred Pierce (B+)
127. The Postman Always Rings Twice (C-)
128. The Great Dictator (A+)
129. La Belle et la Bete (B+)

Just because your country is in ruins, doesn't mean it's time to stop making movies.

This comes highly rated, and I think it has a lot of genuine positives, but I wouldn't rank it as highly as so many do. Many of its strengths are technical: considering the time period, the makeup is astonishingly good; if there'd been an Academy Award for it at that time, it should have been a shoo-in. Jean Cocteau accomplishes a quite effective fantasy atmosphere, particularly impressive given that he wasn't exactly working on a Hollywood budget. The leads are strong, particularly Josette Day as Belle (I have to say, having her name actually be 'Belle' while the dialogue is in French can be a bit much). I also liked the twist ending (though if they weren't going to use the key I'm not sure what the point of stealing it was). The main problem is the choppiness of the characters' interactions; considering how much of the movie is just Belle and the Beast interacting, their relationship feels rushed. The Disney version developed their relationship more convincingly.

130. Contagion (B+)

Steven Soderbergh doesn Outbreak, sans the melodrama. Operating in Ocean's Eleven mode, he's assembled a cast of stars, but they're much more muted than is usually the case; everybody's effective in their parts. In fact, I don't think there's a single performance in the movie that feels improperly modulated (well, maybe Jude Law). There are a bunch of different little plots going here, some of which are a bit unconventionally paced - obviously when some characters die midway through, but Marion Cotillard goes MIA for a considerable stretch. The strongest plots belong to Laurence Fishburne, who has what is arguably the spine of the film, and Matt Damon, who represents the common man. The teenage actress playing Damon's daughter is extremely good, as well. Soderbergh approaches the story like a docudrama, so there really isn't a climax in the normal sense, but it feels appropriate for the tone of the movie. The main negatives would be the occasional pacing issues and Jude Law's plot, which is confusingly handled.
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