A bunch of 2011 movies
My plan for the Xmas break back home: watch 2011 movies. Except for a few summer flicks, I don’t think I’ve seen anything that came out this year because most movies, quite frankly, sound like crap – and the ones that don’t, aren’t available yet. But anyways, here we go:
Contagion is basically Steven Soderbergh and a whole cast of who’s who (which you can check out on imbd). The title says it all – a virus spreads like wildfire, people drop dead like flies and no one really knows what to make of it (goes pretty well with the books I’ve been reading lately, too). The disadvantage of such an impressive cast is how distracting it gets – everyone’s done something better (or more famous) and, inherently, there comes the moment when Walter White is having a chat with Keith Mars and my interest in the virus – poof. Gone. All in all, it’s fairly boring given the subject matter.
Carnage. A few years back I watched the Tony Awards, saw a scene from Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage and envied those who had the chance to see the play live. So, ever since I heard this movie was getting made, I’ve been quite excited to see it, and I’m happy to report it turned out pretty decent: watching four seemingly reasonable adults gradually expose all their hidden anguishes and turn into the very children they’re debating is so theatrical, so ridiculously over-the-top that it actually ends up being entertaining. For once, the trailer is a pretty accurate gauge, so check it out – and the best thing about it all might be Christoph Waltz’s deadpan delivery.
Drive – the movie that launched ridiculous lawsuits, one of the three that made this Ryan Gosling’s year and Bryan Cranston’s second appearance on this list (Walter White is now briefly sharing a table with Clay Morrow :D). It’s an atmospheric, 80s infused, slow-moving tale, with a stuntman moonlighting as a getaway driver, a robbery gone wrong and a little romance thrown in the mix. It may sound trite, but it’s definitely worth watching; actually, my only issue was this song: it doesn’t blend in with the rest of the soundtrack and it draws you away from what’s happening onscreen, in a moment when you really should be paying attention.
Hanna. Rogue agent’s kid, raised and trained by her dad somewhere in the Arctic, Hanna basically pulls a tiny switch and has a whole governmental agency on her trail. There’s a lot of running, shooting and last-minute escaping (actually, the whole scene where she first gets away is like a music video: all flickering lights and rapid-cut close-ups). Hanna is one bad-ass kid, but she’s yet to learn the ways of the world and her real story – that’s almost all there is to it. As a side note, I’m surprised Joe Wright didn’t find a spot for Keira Knightley here, since he seems to like her so – she’s been in two of his films lately and they’re filming now Anna Karenina – another prospect that doesn’t exactly sound appealing 😛
Melancholia (and the Infinite Sadness? Can’t help it, my mind just instantly went there) I’m not a fan of Lars von Trier’s stuff – it’s too forced for my taste, too…deliberately artsy. And, while this is still true of Melancholia, I did find myself enjoying it. Part end-of-the world drama, part wedding absurd comedy but with an entirely beautiful cinematography – it really should be enjoyed in the theatre. Throughout the course of the movie, Justine becomes more and more remote, distancing herself from everyone, including her new husband, who seems to have no clue (and no interest) in what’s going on with her, while Claire, so cold and detached in the beginning, is overrun by anxiety, by the corroding fear that the universe will end – and, just like her sister, she’s no one to share this with. Von Trier’s world is evil and alone – as Justine says; and it’s all about going through the motions – so maybe that’s exactly why it needs to end.
Moneyball I’ll preface this by saying I know nothing about baseball; it involves hitting a ball with a bat – and that’s about it if you ask me 😉 I also don’t care for inspirational sports movies – so, if it hadn’t been for Aaron Sorkin’s involvement (and the generally positive reviews) I wouldn’t even have tried it. But now that I did…I honestly have absolutely no opinion. It’s not bad, but it just left me completely indifferent. Half the time I was thinking about other stuff anyway so, really, if you’re not into baseball (or into Brad Pitt :P) – don’t bother with this one.
Source Code After the seriousness (or the serious boringness, depends how you look at it) of Moneyball – a bit of action and sci-fi was just the ticket. Jake Gyllenhaal travels back and forth to the last 8 minutes in some guy’s life in order to prevent a train from exploding and Michelle Monaghan just sits there being all pretty 😛 There’s a not-all-that-twisty twist thrown in there for good measure, but I won’t spoil it, since there aren’t all that many reasons to watch it anyways 😉
The Adjustment Bureau More sci-fi action, this time based on a Philip K Dick story – with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt as the obligatory, yet charming couple. It all begins with a lost Senate race (Matt Damon-the politician is much more convincing than Matt Damon-the dad in Contagion), while on the sidelines and seemingly unrelated, there’s John Slattery’s band of creepy men – and they all come together rather abruptly. From then on, he’ll obviously start chasing the girl – and the truth. It may sound ridiculous, but it works and I do like the notebook with the action lines and the inflection points – it’s cool (even if a little cold) to imagine your life like that Bonus – Jon Stewart! 😀
The Tree of Life This movie had first spent years in development and then a few years more waiting to be released, so it was kind of hard not to come at it with … expectations. But I was talking to a friend about it and the only description I could come up with was that it’s a very look-a- me- I’m-so -special type of movie – which may not be is not the best choice of words, but I believe it gets across the message. It’s pretentious and full of itself; it’s nice to look at (very nice to look at); it’s got some great performances – but there’s no…substance. And I don’t want to claim that any of the movies above are filled with whatever profound revelations – but at least they all seemed more self-aware. Tree of life looks like it wants to be deep so badly that it highlights the facts that it’s just gimmicky. Basically, it tells the story of a family losing a son sometime in the 50s: the mother’s disbelieving grief and appeals to a higher power, entwined with the story of the remaining brother, now grown, but reliving those moments, unsure of his place in the world. And then there’s the whole birth of the universe sequence, which feels like you’re watching a slideshow – visually exciting, but ultimately forgettable. The critics mostly loved it though – just read the quotes on RT.
The Sunset Limited. Written by Cormac McCarthy and based on a play by Cormac McCarthy; directed by Tommy Lee Jones and starring Tommy Lee Jones (and Samuel L. Jackson) – it’s a three-men job, this one. 😀 A televised play really, it’s two old men (a suicidal professor and an ex-con – stand-ins for the educated-yet-burdened Ivy League type and the light-hearted, from-your-gut wisdom of the common folk) having A Conversation about everything ranging from religion and faith (or lack thereof), to their respective life experiences to, of course, suicide. It seems too literary, too verbose to give the illusion of authenticity in the beginning – but by the end I was so entranced by the ebb and flow, by the rhythm that it hardly mattered. (And how can anyone not love Tommy Lee Jones?)
The Ides of March Election drama with a strong cast (George Clooney directing and Ryan Gosling’s third movie this year, too) focused not on the candidate, but on those behind the scenes. It’s no West Wing :P, but I enjoyed it: it’s well-written (the speeches especially touch on the rhetoric-du-jour, with the actual elections coming up) and well-acted, there’s a couple of surprising moments – it’s all very…competent, for lack of a better word, but it’s not something to get too excited about.
La piel que habito – it’s about a crazy plastic surgeon obsessed with skin after he tragically loses his wife and daughter and his mysterious guinea pig. It’s Almodovar, so…that says it all.
My favorites – after this needlessly long post? Drive and The Sunset Limited.