Archive for March, 2011

Report Card: March 2011

So, I’ve been home recovering from having my gallbladder yanked out last week.  I am climbing the walls, but alas I am too exhausted to really do anything productive with myself.

But what a good opportunity to watch some movies!

This month, I beg your indulgence with any typos in the brief reviews. Some may have been keyed under the influence of Percocet, making them no less righteous but perhaps a bit less comprehensible.  Since I’m getting nearly nothing productive done on any other front, I refuse to proofread them any further. It’s just how I’m rolling right now.

It was not a bad movie-watching month at all, with a couple of notable exceptions.  What’s different about the report card below is that, due to the number of films, I’ve placed them in alpha order rather than my usual order-in-which-I-watched-them.  Enjoy!  And, as always, let me know what you think of these movies and others that you’ve been watching in this lion and lamb’s month.

Film Grade Comment
Anatomy of a Murder (1959) B+  

Engrossing Otto Preminger murder mystery with a stellar cast led by James Stewart as a straight-talking UP lawyer outsmarting both his clients and the legal geniuses from Lansing. Great old drama that will restore your faith in film entertainment after watching something like The Mutant Chronicles or Paris, Je T’aime. (You’ll see what I mean when you get to those.)
Bitter Feast (2010) B-  

Not bad for a low-budget horror flick. Although there is a smorgasbord of ingredients from other horror films, this movie has a delicious premise that’s fully baked in imagination! A restaurateur and TV cooking show host loses everything after a scathing review from a popular caustic foodie blogger.  Aside from that, we find out the blogger is a victim of self-loathing, brought on by tragedy in his own life. The chef kidnaps the critic and tortures him with a series of brutally inventive food-based devices, having to escalate his strategy as the critic proves fairly unflappable.
Dark City (1998) A  

One of my favorite atmospheric and mind-boggling sci-fi films, and a fave performance of Kiefer Sutherland’s. Though I have seen this movie dozens of times, it never fails to impress and entertain.


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It was a short and busy month, so I wasn’t able to watch as many films as I’d like.

Yes, even with the Oscars … in which I was supremely disappointed.  The statuettes were awarded pretty fairly, I thought, but the ceremony itself was for sh*t. Truly. The hosts were awful (and I like them both otherwise, so I won’t use a stronger expletive), the montages were uninspired, and the presentation of the lifetime achievements was abysmal. I have always had the Pollyanna attitude to see the annual Academy Awards gala as a magical night of dreams come true in recognition of film-making achievement.  But the suits and marketing execs are taking all the fun out of it, and this year I finally found myself siding with my infinitely more cynical friends who have poo-pooed the Oscars for years. So, I’ll just cross my fingers that next year it gets better again.

In the meantime, the few films I did see in the past month were memorable, for the most part. Here are some more movies to add to the February report card.

Film Grade Comment
The King’s Speech(2010)  A-
Now we know this film won the Best Picture Academy Award … and one for Best Actor, and Writing, and Directing. It is a very well-made film, but I personally did not think it was the bee’s knees of this year’s crop of nominees.  But that does not detract from the fact that this movie is very much worth seeing, with superb performances from Colin Firth and especially (I thought) Geoffrey Rush. It would be an A or even an A+ were it not for the sterilized and sorely detail-lacking snapshot of the challenging era in which it takes place.
RED(2010)  B-
RED stands for “Retired Extremely Dangerous,” and the REDsters are Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. With a stellar cast like that (plus Mary-Louise Parker), I expected more.  There are some terrific gags, lots of things blowing up, and a bunch of shoot-outs – but incredibly the story still drags, and the sometimes the camera lingers on the “knowing expressions” of the characters … ugh.  I believe the treacly feel is due to the directing, which makes sense with Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s Wife) at the helm.
Animal Kingdom(2010)  B+
If you don’t mind watching the ultimate trailer-trash-living-turned-murderous, this Aussie gem is the epitome of gritty thrillers. Marvelously menacing and memorable performances from the entire “criminal family” as well as good-guy cop Guy Pierce. The movie plods a bit in some places, and the demeanors of the characters – while appropriate – make it a bit difficult to relate to them. But upon reflection, it’s a film that crawls under your skin and makes an impression.

As always, let me know what you though of these flicks, if you saw them!

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