Movies Seen in 2010

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Starbreaker, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. CaptainCanada

    CaptainCanada Admiral Admiral

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    70. The American (B+)
    71. The Kids Are All Right (B+)
    72. The English Patient (A-)
    73. The Town (B+)

    Ben Affleck initiates phase two of Operation: Relegitimize, and scores another success. I didn't think this was quite as good as Gone Baby, Gone - it's a bit more conventional than that film, about a criminal born into an organization and looking for an exit. Nevertheless, it's a strong piece of filmmaking, and should cement Affleck as a talent to watch. The main cast (Affleck, Jeremy Renner, John Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively) are all in good form; Renner's a livewire, and this is Hamm's first really notable bigscreen role since the launch of Mad Men, so I hope for many more (here he's playing the straight-arrow guy that Don Draper resembles but isn't). Lively's work is also notable, since her work on Gossip Girl isn't exactly award-worthy - she even manages a reasonably convincing Baaahston accent, which is something that can trip up even great thespians. Some very good car chases and shootouts.
     
  2. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I'm curious about The Town, but I'll probably wait for DVD, or at least make it a double feature. I wasn't hugely impressed by Gone Baby Gone, which was awkwardly structured, if well acted and directed.

    207. Delirious [D+]
    208. Miller’s Crossing [A]
    209. Desperado [B+]

    Delirious: I caught this attempt at comedy (directed by the late Tom Mankiewicz) via Watch Instantly, and like most of the films I've streamed on Netflix, it wasn't very good. The plot concerns a daytime soap opera writer (John Candy) who suffers an accident and wakes up on the soap opera he is the writer of as if it were reality. Candy also discovers that anything he types on his typewriter will actually occur. It’s not a bad premise, but the script fails to exploit it. Various elements of the story are better used in Tootsie (mocking the soap opera settting), Pleasantville (being trapped on a television series), and Stranger than Fiction (the manipulation of reality through writing). It all ends with some unremarkable voice-over that’s all too pat.

    Miller’s Crossing: The Coen brothers almost always carefully construct their dialogue, but the screenplay for this movie may be their finest work of their films that I’ve seen. Every conversation crackles with energy. Moreover, the performances of the four principles are exceptional, the cinematography (which utilizes shallow focus throughout) is breathtaking, and the music (by Coen regular Carter Burwell) perfectly captures the film’s mood. I don’t know why I took so long to see this.

    Desperado: I’ve seen this film (only the second theatrical feature by Robert Rodriguez) many times, but my enjoyment of it hasn’t been diminished. Yes, it’s both juvenile and permanently entrenched in the conventions of action movie logic (the Mariachi is never hit in a close quarters bar fight with automatic weapons, but can take out his enemies with a shot behind his back), but it never ceases to pulse with energy. In a big set-piece near the end, there’s a Mariachi who fires a seemingly endless supply of rockets from his guitar case. That describes the tone about as well as anything else I could describe. Desperado isn’t a film to be taken seriously. If you don’t, it would be hard not to enjoy it.
     
  3. CaptainCanada

    CaptainCanada Admiral Admiral

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    If structure was your problem with GBG (which was one of my favourites of 2007), then you'd like The Town more in that respect; it has a much more basic structure.
     
  4. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Miller's Crossing owes a lot of its goodness to being a knockoff of Dashiell Hammett's The Glass Key. Julian Symons was possibly right in thinking that was even better than The Maltese Falcon.

    Comparing Delirious to Stranger Than Fiction, Pleasantville and Tootsie because of random elements in the construction seems a little odd. Delirious is a farce. The movie to compare it to is Soapdish. The trapped on TV element means it should be compared to that John Ritter movie about being trapped on Hell's TV (Stay Tuned?) Delirious comes up average, or above average if you like John Candy.
     
  5. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    My main complaint isn't that the structure isn't "basic" enough (the film is, after all, entirely chronological in its presentation), but that the transition between the first two-thirds and the last-third of the movie is abrupt, awkward, and ultimately off-putting. I didn't dislike the movie, certainly, but I thought it showed a first-time writer/director still working out his craft. Affleck has talent, but there is plenty of room for improvement yet. Money being short, and the reviews being a little less enthusiastic, I'm in no hurry to rush out and see The Town.

    I haven't read The Glass Key, though I have read The Maltese Falcon, and the stylistic influences are definitely there. But calling it a knockoff seems a little harsh, especially since the Coen brothers don't seem intent on hiding their debt to Hammett in any material I can find online.

    I haven't seen Soapdish, but it is on Watch Instantly. I also haven't seen Stay Tuned (IMDB confirms the title) so it would be hard for me to make the comparison. Anyway, it's not on Watch Instantly, so I'll have to file away it for later.

    The comparisons aren't that odd, I don't think. Let me try to explain a little further.

    Tootsie is merciless in its mocking of daytime soap operas, especially in Hoffman's final monologue where he unmasks himself, but Delirious doesn't let things get so absurd. Instead of assailing the absurd conventions of the genre (twisted family trees, characters returning from the dead, complete disregard for any sensible timeline, plastic surgery to hide re-casting, whole episodes or seasons being dismissed as dreams, etc,) the film mostly misses the opportunity. Instead it focuses on the odd physical humor of Dylan Baker slowly falling apart due to poisoning or the buffoonery of another character who has two eye-patches that has little in common with the genre that should be its prime target.

    Pleasantville plays with the disconnect between the lives of the trapped characters in real life and in their television-created prison. Candy is too jovial to play a character so alienated (Kevin Kline would have been a much better choice for the role). The closest the film comes is his reaction to typos in his type-written changes, and the jokes are so lame (ice cold deer instead of ice cold beer) or so briefly sustained (a high school cheerleader from his past that he wrote into the script while intoxicated shows up, but she swiftly disappears) that neither offers much.

    As for Stranger than Fiction...you're right, it doesn't make for a great comparison. But it puts to more clever use the idea of a writer's words becoming concrete reality than Delirious does. For a supposed farce, it's awfully dull, both in its writing and as it is visually conceived.

    ...


    210. Say Anything [B-]

    Say Anything: The second teen-movie scripted by Cameron Crowe I've seen this week, it's marginally better than Fast Times, but a little too sweet for my tastes. Late in the film, the female lead discovers her father, who has been the one encouraging her to take piles of college courses to the point that nobody in her high school recognizes her and she's hardly been on a date in all that time, is a money-laundering sociopath, but not much is made of it. They have the prerequisite reconciliation without much strife. And, like her father, I tend to think that her romance with John Cusack (who has the fanciful Hollywood ability to fly off with his summer girlfriend of four months to live in London despite having no career goals, living parents to support him [he lives with his sister, a single-parent], or much of a job before the trip [we see him teaching kids kick-boxing only once]) has the longevity of about two seconds after the final shot.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2010
  6. Too Much Fun

    Too Much Fun Commodore Commodore

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    Harvey,

    To quote Roger Ebert (to his colleague Richard Roeper): "How can your heart be so cold?" :p I've suspected this about you for awhile based on your reviews and this just confirms it - you're like Spock. You have to attack everything with such relentless logic and rationality, I can't imagine anything winning you over based on heart. I felt this way after your objection to the end of "Kramer vs. Kramer" too.

    "Say Anything..." is my second favourite movie, and one of the reasons is because it's one of the few movies where the amount of heart on display is strong enough to cancel out any possible objections I might have to its structure, storytelling, writing, etc. based on a coldly rational approach.

    Now that I've seen it about a million times, I've got to the point where I'm starting to feel like the big reveal in the father subplot feels a little shoehorned in. You can't watch a movie that many times without being a bit analytical, but with the rest of the movie being the backdrop for one of the greatest love stories ever put to film, who cares? :luvlove: And trust me, I'm not being hyperbolic out of ignorance. I've seen 'em all. :cool:

    Calling it marginally better than the awful and overrated "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" bums me out, man. I think it's worlds better. I'm starting to think teen movies just aren't your bag. Just out of curiosity, have you ever seen a movie about teenagers that has really impressed you? If so, what would you consider your high water mark for that kind of movie? Personally, I don't think there are many better than "Say Anything...".
     
  7. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Teen movies definitely aren't my bag, which I've slowly come to realize this year. It's not that I'm hostile to the genre, but even the best examples I can think of have never struck me as being particularly profound or affecting. They're mostly light fare that have little to do with anything that resembles reality. There's certainly personal bias in play, of course. When I speak of the "reality" of high school I'm mainly referring to my personal experiences there, and I've simply never found on-screen depictions of high school that captured the excruciating boredom I experienced. I'm more than five years out from my last day of high school and the absolute mind-numbing nature of it is still cemented in my mind, but hardly ever shown on screen. Movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High depict a world where the characters never crack open a textbook or actually do homework (though characters often invoke homework to excuse themselves from awkward social situations).

    I suppose if there's a teen movie that I enjoy, it would probably be Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but that's a film that drops any trappings of reality in favor of outright fantasy. I'm also pretty partial to Not Another Teen Movie, but it's not a teen movie so much as it is a movie that lampoons the genre.

    ...

    211. The Hoax [B+]

    This little seen Richard Gere movie isn't bad at all. In fact, it might feature one of the actor's better performances of his career, portraying Clifford Irving, real life author, charlatan, and con-man. The tone is light and whimsical, until, of course, the bottom falls out of Irving's scheme (which happened in real life, though it is embellished here--the links drawn to Watergate seem tenuous at best, and are overemphasized for lazy viewers who would otherwise miss the reference). Still, as a vehicle for comedic performances that occasionally turn dramatic (Alfred Molina is good as a foolish side-kick, Marcia Gay Harden is suprisingly passable with a Swedish accent, and both Stanley Tucci and Eli Wallach do well with small roles) you won't do much better. In many ways, it reminds me of the tone and pace of Spielberg's version of Catch Me If You Can, which isn't a bad thing, if you're in the mood for that sort of thing.
     
  8. suviawilliams

    suviawilliams Cadet Newbie

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    Hello Friends
    I like to watch Movies and last time I have Seen Avatar movie in theater. really nice movie. and new experience for me. All the character played a vital role in this movie. That is my favorite movie.
     
  9. Captain Craig

    Captain Craig Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I watched Bad Boys last night for the first time. Of all the Will Smith movies I'd never seen this somehow, just never got around to it.
    It's very clearly Lethal Weapon, just with two black men vs the typical 24hrs/LW style buddy cop film.
    Nothing too original but it was well done and is one of the more tame Michael Bay action movies. He must still have been finding his style that early on.
     
  10. joVuNik

    joVuNik Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Just saw Jack-Ass recently after repeated requests to watch it from my brother!
    And he was right!
    F'n brilliant!
     
  11. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Jack-Ass or Kick-Ass? :lol:
     
  12. joVuNik

    joVuNik Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    ^ That is Kick-Ass man LOL, thanks :rofl:

    (Jack-Ass was 2 or so hours of my life that I will never get back)
     
  13. JacksonArcher

    JacksonArcher Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Saw Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, for which I would give about *** stars. It isn't as original or as affective as the first movie, and similarly follows the same structure as the first film, but it does have a lot of contemporaneously and socially relevant ideas that make it a very interesting and thought-provocative film.

    It was the first film in a while where I could actually tolerate Shia LaBeouf, which is pretty impressive in my opinion. The rest of the cast is top notch, and Michael Douglas imbues Gordon Gekko with a more worn, tattered, softer side that gives the character a different but compelling edge that makes everything watchable even if you can telegraph the entire plot, especially Gekko's motivations (if you've seen the first film, you'll be able to understand what happens pretty clearly from the onset). Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan and Frank Langella all give strong performances in their supporting roles.

    Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps doesn't really add anything new to the conceit of the original film, if anything slightly regurgitating many of the concepts, but the stock market crash does give the film a modern twist that offers some interesting ideas. It's one of those solid films that doesn't even reach the heights of its predecessor but is an entertaining and occasionally insightful diversion for two hours.
     
  14. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    I've been in a Woody Allen mode:

    *bananas
    *Sleeper

    Looking to watch:
    *Broadway Danny Rose
    *Annie Hall

    And others...

    I'm still debating on whether or not to watch:

    Machete
     
  15. Wynterhawk

    Wynterhawk Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Doomsday: Neil Marshall didn't know how to end this middling mess. It started off great, and I liked how the main character finished up in her story, but the rest of it was long and boring and unecessary. There seemed to be so many stories that just petered off somewhere before the end. And poor token Black guy. At least he didn't die right off, though his death was very Boromir flavored.

    Camille: I like James Franco, which prompted me to see this film. Man... I didn't make it to the end. He and Sienna Miller had ZERO chemistry. And while "Camille" was supposed to be that bubbly quirky blonde girl, that every one cared for and loved, I found her horribly, horribly annoying and that led to the early termination of this film.
     
  16. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Odd how things strike you, it was Candy's joviality that made Delirious work as a farce for me. And Ferrell's not so joviality that charged Stranger Than Fiction with more heft.

    I didn't mean "knockoff" as a slam at the Coen's. I'm just a big Hammett fan, even though it's much, much cooler (and literary) to extol Chandler.
     
  17. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I haven't read any Chandler that I can recall, unfortunately. I suspect he's more popular because he wrote a continuing character, while Hammett didn't (outside of three short stories featuring Sam Spade). But that's just a mildly informed guess.

    212. They Live [B ]
    213. Big Trouble in Little China [B+]

    This was a double feature at the Egyptian Theater last weekend, and it was a fun one. Neither movie is perfect, but they're both pretty watchable.

    They Live: At times, Roddy Piper is the perfect lead for this movie. He brings a rough physicality that most Hollywood actors couldn't, on account of being too pretty. At other times, his performance is pure camp, especially when Carpenter (writing under a pseudonym) saddles him with one-liners. "I've come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum," might be the most famous exchange in the movie, but his one-liners are at most times nonsensical ("mama don't like tattletales") and more silly than the rest of the film, which is dark and at times outrightly subversive. I'm not shocked that Carpenter could only get this made by producing it independently--I just wish that he had a little more money when he made it. Outside of Keith David, the supporting cast is pretty forgettable. Those complaints aside, the sequence when Piper puts on the sunglasses for the first time is one of the most effective ten minutes I've ever seen.

    Big Trouble in Little China: The pace of this movie is manic, and by making Kurt Russel's moron of character the lead, we're often in the dark about what is happening. But this is almost certainly intentional (Russell exerts all the attitude of a macho action lead, but can never deliver, a gag which never gets old), and our lack of certainty about the plot is really unimportant. It's just a fun, fun movie, and it's a shame it's poor box office returns relegated Carpenter to making films with lower budgets.
     
  18. CaptainCanada

    CaptainCanada Admiral Admiral

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    Carpenter has referred to Russell's character as a guy who thinks he's an action hero but is actually the comic relief sidekick.
     
  19. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I've seen a whole slew of films, and been unable to use the computer much, due to class and the heat wave...

    214. Monster on the Campus [C-]
    215. It! Terror From Beyond Space [C-]
    216. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World [A]
    217. The Town [B-]

    Monster on Campus: Typical of Jack Arnold directed sf from the 1950s, this B-movie has "science" that was probably questionable at the time, and is certainly ridiculous now. And yet it can't help but be quite fun, despite the laughable production values and the usual science has encroached upon God story. In many ways, its a progenitor of Altered States (1980) as well as the TNG episode, "Genesis."

    It! Terror From Beyond Space: Often cited as a chief influence on Alien and Aliens, this Jerome Bixby scripted B-grade sf movie is not without its charms, but neither of those later films are the rip-offs some texts seek to suggest. The similarities mostly relate to general plot points (an alien slowly picks off the crew of a spacecraft one by one) rather than anything specific, and stylistically this movie couldn't be any further apart from any movies in the Alien series. There's not any kind of attempt at serious sf here, so when the crew smokes liberally, detonates grenades, uses gas bombs, fires bullets, and even employs a bazooka, it's no surprise that they're oblivious to the effect this might have on their air supply.

    Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: This might be my favorite studio film of the summer, and it is a damned shame it didn't reach a wider audience. I suspect there's simply fatigue due to Michael Cera playing similar roles over and over and over again, which is a shame, because he's perfect for the part here (if only he had taken some time off rather than waste his image on medicore films like Year One and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist). The pace is brisk, fun, and full of cultural gags and references that are sure to elicit more delight upon repeated viewings (the Nintendo-style Universal logo at the beginning says everything about the tone of the movie to follow).

    The Town: Ben Affleck delivers a film that is more believable than the third act machinations of Gone Baby Gone (until the end), but also much more conventional. Familiar stock characters of the genre are trotted out one by one: the bank robber with a good heart who wants to make a change (who nevertheless continues to rob banks), the girlfriend who doesn't know this secret, the obsessive detective who will stop at nothing to catch his prey, and the impulsive bank robber with a personal history to the lead and a inclination for violence. You've seen it all before (and better, especially in Heat), but Affleck executes the story well, and managers to deliver performances that are either good or decent. Alas, we don't get to know these characters very deeply (Hamm especially, though he manages to be charming, is also a cypher, with absolutely no personal backstory). Of the four-man crew Affleck leads, only Jeremy Remmer is developed. The other two guys might as well not even be in the movie, beyond the need of four guys during the robberies.

    And then there's the ending.
    The police have been tipped off towards Affleck and crew's latest robbery. They surround the parking garage with at least a hundred police officers and FBI, and a firefight ensues. One guy is killed instantly, and another sacrifices himself on a suicide run to obscure Affleck and Renner's escape (why this guy would do this is unclear, except, of course, his character doesn't matter and the two important guys need a distraction). Their escape is brief, as Hamm is tipped off that Affleck and Renner are disguised as police officers. Hamm spots Renner, and they have a shoot-out. Renner is blown away. During this whole scene, however, Affleck simply stands out in the open with his mouth agape. Out of hundreds of police, nobody seems to notice him. Affleck drives off. Somehow, he's then able to murder "the florist" and his goon (who the police know he's working for, but seem to have no surveillance of), approach within 100 feet of his girfriend's apartment (to leave a note for Hamm) where dozens of police are stationed, and escape via public transport despite his face being everywhere (Affleck pays off the bus driver, but, c'mon, nobody else notices him?). And then, apparently, Affleck escapes to Florida, long enough for his character to grow a beard. Yeah, right. There's no way the FBI's manhunt would be so ineffective.

    I've heard that earlier cuts of the movie were very different, and that the happy ending was added late. I wonder how the novel ended? It's a good take, on a familiar concept and genre, that is marred by an unbelievable Hollywood ending. If Affleck wants to keep working as a director (and a screenwriter,as he receives co-writing credit) he'll need to improve some more yet.
     
  20. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Graduate school has really begun, so I'm mostly limited to films that I catch as part of the curriculum these days. It seems like my goal of 300 films might have to be revised to 250 or so (I know, "only" 250 films in one year...:guffaw:).

    I was hoping more people would be up to some back-and-forth concerning The Town, but it seems like CaptainCanada and I are the only ones who've seen it.

    218. A Foreign Affair [A]
    219. Bride of Frankenstein [A]

    A Foreign Affair: Not available on home video due to legal wrangling with the estate of Marlena Dietrich, many critics consider this to be an unheralded classic from director Billy Wilder, and I have to agree. The location footage of post-war Germany alone makes the film worth seeing, but that's just the tip of the iceberg, for there are also delightful performances (including Jean Arthur's second to last feature film role), wonderful comedic timing and direction (witness the encounter between Jean Arthur and John Lund in a room full of filing cabinets), and a screenplay that is as witty as it is (at times) cynical about the state of occupied Germany and its occupying force after WWII. Worth seeing if the opportunity presents itself. I was lucky enough to see a 35mm film print, which was pristine, so hopefully a Blu-Ray release will be in order once any outstanding legal issues are resolved.

    Bride of Frankenstein: I had limited expectations for this film going in, but I'm happy to admit that my preconceptions we're completely wrong--most of all, I'm surprised by how (intentionally!) funny the whole affair is. I remember Young Frankenstein being brilliant, but I had no idea how close it was in tone to the films it was parodying (though I recognize that not all of the films in the series are as campy as this installment). It's probably best that the film doesn't take itself so seriously, as the set-up is rather preposterous. In the finale of Frankenstein (1931, which I haven't seen since childhood) The Monster is burned alive and Victor Frankenstein falls to his death. Here we discover that below the flames lies a pool of water that The Monster safely fell into, and that, despite being pronounced dead, Victor Frankenstein actually survived (and without any physical injury!). It's all in great fun, and Universal's latest restoration (which I saw in 35mm) looks gorgeous. It will be nice to have on Blu-Ray at some point as well.
     

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