Yet another bunch of movies

Haven’t done this in a while (and by this I mean both watching movies & writing about them) – so I figured it’s a good way to start 2011. And to make this a completely useless post I’ll be grading movies on a (obviously) subjective scale, with little or no explanation as to why πŸ˜‰

Black Swan Definitely my favorite of the bunch, I’d say it’s Darren Aronofsky at his best, but I haven’t seen The Wrestler (nor so I intend to) so maybe absolutes aren’t a good idea here. It’s a psychological thriller like I haven’t seen in years, Natalie Portman plays her troubled and conflicted character to perfection (here I go with the absolutes again) and even though the twists aren’t that twisty it’s still the best thing to come out of Hollywood in 2010 (plus – Clint Mansell’s great score; obviously with a little help from the guy who actually wrote Swan Lake). A

Buried Are you a fan of Ryan Reynolds? Yes? Good – cause there’s about 90 minutes of him in this movie. Only him. Buried is one of those cases where the premise is so much more intriguing than the actual execution: a guy wakes up buried alive by terrorists (but are they really terrorists? let’s discuss and pretend we care) in a coffin in Iraq and struggles to get out. It should keep you more on the edge of your seat, but there’s a bunch of ridiculous moments (like the conversation with the HR guy, or the useless burning of that stupid lighter) that kind of spoil the mood. Anyways, I give it bonus points for the ending and the poster. B-

The Social Network There’s been so much talk about this one, that I should skip it altogether. As a Fincher & Sorkin fan, I had to see it, even with the unappealing subject matter. And it was exactly what I expected: characters that have aΒ  quick, witty & informed response to just about anything, one memorably directed scene (I’m referring to the boat race, of course) and self-important hipsters. And a surprisingly good Justin Timberlake, as opposed to a morose, dull and inexpressive Jesse Eisenberg (I just can’t warm up to the guy). B+

Howl James Franco really is more than a pretty face – just like everyone seems to say these days. I never cared much for him especially in Spiderman, but with Freaks & Geeks I started to see his appeal. And lately I’m really enjoying his choice of work.Β  Anyways, here he’s Allen Ginsberg in 60s, talking about and reading his most famous creation: Howl. If anything, this movie got me acquainted with the poem, so I should appreciate it at least for that. But it’s got some surprising animation and a good support cast ( Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Jeff Daniels, Mary Louise Parker) and I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. B+

127 Hours More James Franco, more based on a true story stuff – and the second claustrophobic movie of the bunch. The movie’s good but the story it’s based on is amazing, terrifying and definitely awe-inspiring. What bugged me the most was the uninspired & distracting soundtrack which, with the exception of Dido’s song, was fit for much happier times. Still, it’s definitely not as gory as some reviews would have you believe, and the location is gorgeous. Really really a place I’d love to one day see. B+

Rabbit Hole Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart are trying to let you know that marriage is hard, sad and confusing when a kid dies. Each of them is looking for consolation away from home – her in an odd friendship with the teenager who ran over her child with the car and him with a woman he meets in a support group – but in the end they both come back to each other. Which, I guess, is as much a happy ending as the situation can afford. I like Nicole Kidman less and less, but I did enjoy Sandra Oh’s turn as the woman who can’t (or won’t) move on and is still going to group 8 years after her child died and Aaron Eckhart’s relationship with the dog.Β  B-

V for Vendetta A clear disappointment after book and I simply can’tΒ  judge the movie as a standalone. Stephen Fry is always an enjoyable presence though – but other than that, pretty much everything was wrong. Starting with the ending. D+

The Kids are Alright Every family’s screwed up in its own way, even a lesbian one. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening go through a little soul-searching after the guy who was the sperm donor for their 2 kids 15+ years before turns up in their lives – and sometimes, you’re just in the mood for that. B-

Cemetery Junction A bit of 70s working class rebellion from Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant. It’s all boring and formulaic, but a villainy (or rather assholish) turn from Ralph Finnes is always worth it. C

Mr Nobody Another case of concept and execution not seeing eye to eye. It’s sort of a philosophical tale on choices and the alternative paths life can go on, which would fit much better in a book or an essay, because, as a movie (or as this movie), it gets rather dull. Jared Leto is OK (although the old man makeup is pretty creepy) as the man who lives/imagines parallel lives based on the various choices, the line about how it’s all happening in the mind of a 9-year-old boy got me thinking about Identity and I bet most reviews for this movie had the word “quirky” in them. C+

True Grit Here’s an unpopular opinion: this is definitely one of my least favorite Coen movies. I really love a lot of the stuff they did – but this was a straight up western and I’m not much for those. The girl is really good, as are Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin (but that’s the sort of thing you expect, right? – and none of them particularly shines) but the story bored me out of my mind. I almost feel bad saying this; there were some great shots and I really wanted to like it more. But I just couldn’t. C

Stone This is just another stone (terrible pun alert) in the Ed Norton temple of mediocrity, started in the 2000s. Tired premise and phoned in acting but seeing Ed in cornrows is worth wasting 2 hours πŸ˜€ Seriously though, what happened to him this decade? Except for The Illusionist (which was good, but had the bad luck of coming out almost at the same time as The Prestige and couldn’t really measure up to that), 25th Hour and The Painted Veil his other movies were totally forgettable. I miss the 90s. C

The Fighter Two great actors and two good ones make for a fairly compelling movie even if it’s a sports comeback story (yeah, I’m not into those either). The HBO documentary they’re referring to is real – and it must be quite the fall to go from celebrated athlete to the subject of a documentary on crack addicts. B


The Company Men John Wells was a producer for West Wing – and anyone involved in that show gets a free pass with me (even if I still don’t really know what a producer does); especially since this is not necessarily a bad movie. It’s a little bland, a little too predictable, too hallmark-y, too Up in the Air 2: The Other Side, but it has its moments. Ben Affleck’s character is a spoilt brat; while his wife is the only one who’s down to earth,Β  the only one who’s not wallowing in pity and self contempt and actually doing something – which should at least make for a pretty good lesson. C


~ by ameer on January 9, 2011.

8 Responses to “Yet another bunch of movies”

  1. black swan really is a nice surprise.

    si mie mi-a placut mult, nu atat din perspectiva ideii de baza, cu twisty-urile ei πŸ™‚ cat realizarea tehnica si performantele actorilor (heh, Vincent Casel, cine ar fi crezut ca o sa ajunga de La Haine pana aici)

  2. Awww… C+ for Mr. Nobody? Ok, I guess you didn’t have a choice:)

    However, ‘the Ed Norton temple of mediocrity’ is pure awesomesauce. If I may add to the toll: Italian job? Incredible Hulk? Kingdom of Heaven? But… But what if we were all wrong about Norton? What if he’s not really the magician behind tyler durden or derek vinyard, but an.. illusionist, or rather an alchemist who likes to change acting into gold? Hmmm. /shivers

    • am fost prea harsh cu C+? πŸ˜€ really, chiar cred ca daca as fi citit toata povestea mi-ar fi placut mult mai mult…

      Iar la Ed Norton…kingdom of heaven & hulk are better left forgotten πŸ˜‰ Inca refuz sa cred ca the 90s were a fluke si ca asta e the real Ed Norton πŸ˜› I’m in denial πŸ˜€

  3. Still, I gotta see Black Swan. Actually, I’m downloading it. πŸ™‚

  4. True Grit has a C???

    I really liked true grit! Perhaps the only factor of the film I didn’t enjoy was the girl. Well, she was OKAY, however I wish she wasn’t so… quasi-quotidian.

    I still have yet to see black swan, not because I don’t believe it looks enjoyable, but just lack of getting to it.

    Howl and 127 Hours are LEAGUES above the social network, FYI.

    • well, that’s the thing about these grades – the only thing they’re good for is to tell whether or not I’ve enjoyed the movie. I’m not really aiming for critical value here πŸ˜‰
      And wouldn’t know about leagues – for me, there were different things to appreciate in each of these. For 127 hrs was the acting and the tension (and the fact that it’s a true story that I find mind-blowing), Howl is more…unique in terms of storytelling and the animation was pretty great and social network…it’s got a good script, I don’t think anyone can deny that. I mean, when you look at the premise – i don’t think you can do better than with that particular subject.

  5. Seriously? Black Swan A? Doar pentru doua scene de softcore-porn? Exagerezi. Mi s-a parut sub Wrestler, Requiem si Pi, peste Fountain.

    Cat de trist e ca ce mi-a placut cel mai mult la The Social Network e discursul lui Sorkin de la Golden Globes? Pe langa redefinirea cuvantului “elite”, a redus succint filmul la “trying to make scenes of typing on a pc feel like a thriller”.

    In rest meh, nici nu m-am obosit sa le vad, inca un an lamentabil pentru filme. Raman la filmografiile Alain Delon/Gene Tierney.

    • well, e un A prin comparatie cu restu’, nu un A absolut. Nu ptr porn, si definitely sub Requiem, I give you that πŸ˜€ Oricum, overall si feelingul meu e de meh. But I’ve had it for a few years now…

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