December 30, 2010

#113: The Kids Are All Right (6/10)

The Kids Are All Right tells a story based on an interesting situation. A lesbian couple each obtain donations from a sperm bank in order to have children as they start their family together. The kids are now 18 and 15 and they want to meet their biological father for the first time.  They find him and hijinks ensue.  I liked the concept, and this this film is acted decently. It was funnier than I expected, and I had a good time watching it.  However, there was something that kept me from really getting into it.  I was always aware it was a movie, whatever that means.  Arbitrary rating is a 6 out of 10.

December 26, 2010

#112: Easy A (6/10)

Easy A got a lot of praise when it came out this September. We almost made the rare trip to the theater, but it didn't work out. I had it at the top of my Netflix queue so we could see it as soon as it was released on bluray. We got it in the mail a few days ago and watched it right away.  I will add to the praise.  This is a well-done high school comedy. It's definitely worth watching. It gets a 6 out of 10.

High school comedies are a crap-shoot.  Easy A is one of the better ones, but it is not without its problems. There are a lot of funny jokes, but there are also a lot of lame ones.  I laughed quite a bit, but I cringed almost as much.  I would have given this a higher score, but there were too many moments that were just... stupid.  Don't let that stop you from watching it. It has more good than bad.  I can't recall any one specific dumb moment, but there were some pop culture references in there that felt forced.  There were also times when it tried to be a little too clever, and it fell flat.

December 24, 2010

#111: Exit Through The Gift Shop (9/10)

You may not know who Banksy or Sheppard Fairey is. You may not give two shits about street art. Even so, I think there is something to be gained by watching the film Exit Through The Gift Shop.  I went in not knowing much about it. I have read about Banksy and seen all his art in pictures.  I knew this was a documentary, and I knew Banksy was involved in some way.  I guess I never assumed it was going to be a documentary about Banksy, though I would have enjoyed that.  From a very early stage it is clear that this is not a standard doc, and it isn't going to be so much about Banksy.

December 17, 2010

#110: Where The Wild Things Are (2/10)

I almost hate to say it, but Where The Wild Things Are is one of the worst movies I have seen this year. I pretty much hated it. Oddly, I can see how others might have liked it. To some extent I feel that way with most films. There is almost nothing that is 100% ALL bad. However, it doesn't happen very often where I can hate a movie as much as this one and still respect the opinion of a person that liked it. Arbitrary rating of 2 out of 10 for this one.

I had this film on my shelf for a month before I finally sat my wild rumpus down to watch it. I still wasn't really in the mood to see it, I just felt so bad about keeping it that long that I had to pop it in and give it a whirl. The first bit was quite entertaining. I liked Max in the real world, and thought his character had potential. As soon as he went off to fantasy land the whole thing fell apart. The introductions of the beasties was awkward. Most everything that happened felt random and pointless. It was almost impossible to sit through. I realize the wild things represented different aspects of Max's personality and all that crap, but it just wasn't interesting or good in my opinion.  If you liked the movie, that is fine, but I would enjoy hearing your reasons. The only way it got a 2 was the beginning part.

December 11, 2010

#109: Goodfellas(8/10)

I have a couple confessions to make. I had never seen Goodfellas until this last week. I still haven't seen any of the Godfather films, but I have all three on my DVR now. I am sure there are tons of other "classics" that I haven't seen, but I have trouble watching these films that were so influential. For example, I watched Annie Hall for the first time last month. I'd already seen all the shitty romantic comedies that took inspiration from the Woody Allen original, so when those moments came up in Annie Hall they seemed just as lame and cliche as all the rest. It is sad, but also an undeniable fact that I will never be able to appreciate those classics like somebody who saw them when they were first released. Undoubtedly Goodfellas would have been more effective, if only slightly, had I never seen De Niro in the Meet The Parents movies. Still, Goodfellas was an excellent film. I am glad I finally sat down and watched it. My arbitrary rating scale is even more irrelevant when trying to assign a number to a film that has been praised for 20 years. Even so, I will give it an 8 out of 10.

December 4, 2010

#108: Grown Ups (4/10)

I was the perfect age to latch onto Adam Sandler in his heyday.  Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore were two of my favorite movies through my teen years.  I want to like everything he does, but I have to acknowledge that lately he has not impressed. I am probably outgrowing his style of comedy. Nonetheless I still love those "classics" and wonder why he hasn't been able to offer the same level of enjoyment he once did.  Going in my expectations were extremely low for Grown Ups. It seems like my expecatations are set low by default for any comedy that comes out these days.  Grown Ups was able to make me laugh more than I expected. Seeing how the point of a comedy is to make the audience laugh, I would have to say it was a slight success even though it was a horrible movie.  A few chuckles won't keep this mess from getting more than a 4 out of 10 on my totally arbitrary movie rating scale.

November 20, 2010

#107: 180° South (8/10)

Like most of the movies on my instant queue, 180° South had been sitting there for quite a while. Somehow I'd heard it was good and added it, then never thought about it again. Somehow when I am cruising for a movie to watch I usually don't stop on a documentary. Little did I know the magnificence I had been missing out on.  For some reason this time stopped on it, and I am very glad I did.  180° South is one of the most beautiful movies I have seen in a long time. I have no clue who shot it, or how the guy convinced them to follow him on this adventure, but they got some great stuff. It was truly a pleasure to watch.  I didn't expect much out of it, and I was extremely impressed. It gets a 8 out of 10.

November 15, 2010

#106: The Box (4/10)

There is a mysterious box on your front door with a button. A man tells you that if you push the button you will receive a million dollars, but somebody you don't know will die. A pretty interesting premise to base a movie on. I thought there was a lot of potential. However, I didn't like the direction it took, and the ending was really disappointing to me.  It is a forgettable movie that fails to capitalize. I give it a 4 out of 10.

The Box is very stylized and at first I wasn't sure I liked it. As it went on I started to really get into it; almost like a "B" movie. It was a nice pace and did a great job at building the mystery and suspense.  Diaz was fine in the lead role for the most part, but at times I found her distracting.  As we neared the climax the pace started to pick up and the movie started to fall apart. I could have loved this movie if it had an awesome ending, but it did not.

November 6, 2010

#105: Catfish (7/10)

This is a film where the less you know about it, the better. Therefore, I don't feel like I should share much about the plot, or even the premise. I will say that it is about a real relationship that starts on facebook, and  goes to a place you might not expect. There is no point in trying to dance around the details while writing something meaningful.  I will say that if you haven't seen it you should shield yourself from finding out much about it, and rent it when it comes out on dvd.  This film was totally not what I expected, but I am glad I got to watch it.  I give it a 7 out of 10.

From here on we will be going into spoilers. The thing that impressed me most about this film is that the entire story turned out to be real. I was skeptical whether any of the setup of the story was real. It seemed like it all might have been put on just to make this movie possible.  The entire thing was raw, and very believable, but I still had my doubts.

November 3, 2010

#104: Get Him To The Greek (6/10)

Any time you start a movie you have expectations for what you are about to get into. Whether you want to or not, you are going to judge the actual film against what you expected.  With Get Him To The Greek I expected a comedy is similar Apatow fashion.  It provided that in some ways, but as the movie progressed it got further and further away from the funny.  It didn't make me laugh nearly as much as I thought it would, but it wasn't all bad. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Your enjoyment of this film will depend on your affinity for Russell Brand.  I quite like him, which made this movie much easier to watch.  I can't imagine anybody making it to the end if you can't stand the guy.  I also like Johah Hill, but I didn't think he was great in this one.  There is also a major role played by DIDDY.  I wasn't sure how well Mr. Combs would pull it off, but I thought he did a great job.  He is a good actor.

October 30, 2010

#103: Iron Man 2 (3/10)

The first Iron Man film was a decent movie. I probably didn't like it as well as most people did.  It presented us with an interesting character and a fun story that ultimately ended in an unsatisfying way for me.  However, I looked forward to the sequel to see what they would do with Tony Stark next. I definitely considered going to the theater to see Iron Man 2, but something kept me away. I'm glad I saved my money. I'm sure it would have been more impressive on the big screen, but there wasn't enough substance to make this film worth the price of admission.  Nothing about Iron Man 2 got me excited for the inevitable follow up.  There were some pretty sweet action sequences, but it wasn't enough to make up for the sloppy plotting and superficial characterizations.  I didn't expect a masterpiece with this film, but what it delivered was definitely sub-standard. 3 out of 10.

October 24, 2010

#102: Jackass 3D (7/10)

I haven't bought into the 3D craze. The gimmick usually isn't enough to draw me to the theater. However, when I heard the Jackass guys made a new movie shot with 3D cameras I was intrigued. We missed opening weekend, but we were able to check it out yesterday.  It is odd to say that Jackass 3D is the most effective movie at using the technology that I've seen, but it is totally true.  Granted, I haven't seen a ton, but I was impressed by what they were able to do.  If you've seen the other two Jackass films you know exactly what you are in for.  It makes it difficult to give this sort of movie a score out of 10. For what it is, it works well and is a lot of "fun" to watch.  I don't want to seem like I'm over-rating it, but I have to give it a 7 out of 10.

October 17, 2010

#101: The Killer Inside Me (5/10)

This is a different kind of murder movie.  There isn't a lot of violence other than a few flourishes of brutality delivered with and unsettling cool demeanor.  Television and movies have desensitized me to true impact of taking a life.  The Killer Inside Me recaptured that weight in a few shocking scenes.  I really appreciated what Winterbottom was able to do in those moments.  However, the rest of the movie  had it's share of issues.  Overall I liked it and I'm glad I watched it, but The Killer Inside Me only manages a 5 out of 10.

The story presented in The Killer Inside Me is based of a 1952 novel written by Jim Thompson.  When a novel is adapted to film they can almost never include the whole story.  This was a case where it felt like they were trying to hit certain beats. There highlights were loosely stitched together by a bunch of filler scenes. There were some good moments, but overall it felt messy.  We saw a lot of scenes of dialog from tertiary characters that seemed pointless in the grand scheme of things.

October 15, 2010

#100: I'm Still At It

Next month I will have been writing on this site for 2 years.  When I started I had no clue how long it would last, but it seems to have stuck. I wasn't sure I would ever hit 100 posts.  I haven't always been perfect at keeping it updated regularly, but I've done my best. I really enjoy it. I hope my writing has improved since the beginning.  I'd like to think I am watching movies with a more open mind. I hope I'm able to see and think about things I would have missed before.  I don't always do a great job getting my thoughts down into words, but I would like to continue to make the attempt.

October 9, 2010

#099: Annie Hall (5/10)

With as many movies as I've watched over the last few years it is surprising that I haven't seen many Woody Allen films.  I watched Match Point and didn't even realize it was his, but I really enjoyed it.  Not too long ago I saw Whatever Works and really hated it.  I had no clue what to expect with Annie Hall, but I have heard so many good things about it from critics whose opinions I respect.  It is said to be the quintessential "New York" film. It is supposed to be a true accomplishment in film making.  It is one of those film that you can't really call yourself a film scholar unless you have seen it.  I cannot deny the fact that it was interesting to watch. However, I guess I just didn't get it.  I will give it a 5 out of 10.

October 2, 2010

#098: Fall TV Time

In the last couple weeks all the new tv shows have started up.  This year I am trying to cut back the number of shows I watch, mainly because most of them are just a waste of time.  However, there are several that I enjoy keeping up with on a weekly basis.  Overall I felt like it was a pretty good start to the season. For the last 3 years or so I have been DVRing everything then watching it back later. It makes it much easier to manage, though I don't get all the clever references to The Office that get posted on Facebook and Twitter until I am able to catch up later..

Castle: One of my favorite new shows from last year, and it got off to a good start on season 2.  One of the only crime dramas that I enjoy watching.  I used to watch a couple of the CSI's, along with Criminal Minds, but I stopped following those a couple years ago.  Castle is a solid show.  If you don't watch it, it's worth checking out.

September 30, 2010

#097: Son Of Rambow (8/10)

This entire last week I have been feeling like total crap. I've taken all sorts of cold medicines, and allergy medicines; most of them making me really sleepy  I have sat down to watch a few movies, but have fallen asleep within the first 20 minutes every time. I tried to watch The Men Who Stare At Goats the other day and I was out by the 5 minute mark. On Saturday I was once again feeling lousy, so I layed down on the couch and started up Son Of Rambow. There were definitely moments where I wanted to close my eyes, but I was able to stay awake through the entire film. I'm glad I did because I enjoyed the heck out of it. If I had to give it a score, which I don't... but I am going to anyway, I will give it an 8 out of 10.

September 19, 2010

#096: Two Lovers (6/10)

I'd heard several good things last year about Two Lovers. I probably never would have gone out of my way to see it, but since it was on Netflix instant I queued it up.  I proceeded to never watch it for months and months.  I guess all the talk about Joaquin's new film finally gave me that extra push I needed to watch Two Lovers.  I didn't think I was going to like it.  I was in the mood for something lighter, and didn't expect the somber melancholy tone that prevailed from beginning to end. However, it was executed well and I found myself enjoying this film quite a bit.  I'm glad I watched it. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  It gets a 6 out of 10 from me.

September 11, 2010

#095: Repo Men (4/10)

Going into Repo Men I really wanted to like it. I felt like it had an interesting premise, and a pretty reputable cast.  I was looking forward to a solid action/sci-fi with a little more intellect.  I quickly found out I was giving this film way too much credit. Repo Men turned out to be really disappointing.  When I finish watching a film I never want to have the thought that I just ineffectively used the last 2 hours of my life. There were a few cool sequences that kept it from being a total waste.  On my arbitrary scale Repo Men gets a 4 out of 10.

September 4, 2010

#094: Kick-Ass (7/10)

I have been slacking on my movie watching and writing lately.  This has been another week that I haven't watched a movie that I really feel compelled to write about.  If you didn't already know, my wife and I are expecting our first child in January.  Yesterday we went to the doctor and found out we will be having a little girl. Inspired by the fact I will have my own daughter soon, I thought I would write about Kick-Ass; a film with one of the more strange father-daughter relationships I've seen.

August 24, 2010

#093: The White Ribbon (8/10)

Is it possible to truly love a film, but not be able to recommend it? I don't really think it is, but if it were, The White Ribbon might fall into that category for me.  This film looks beautiful on bluray.  The black and white was phenomenal.  Aside from the crystal clear picture, it is hard to believe this movie was made this century.  Everything about it seems genuinely old, yet it has a style that feels so fresh.  I've had this movie sitting on my shelf for 2 weeks and never got around to watching it.  I may have been intimidated by a 2 hour 25 minute black and white film that is completely subtitled.  I am very glad I finally got around to watching it.  It is a film that I will not soon forget.  However, I am unable to recommend it without greatly qualifying it.  For me, it was so nice to see a film like this. My arbitrary number system will bestow an 8 out of 10.

August 15, 2010

#092: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (4/10)

Lately I'd been hearing a lot of positive talk about the Swedish novel and film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  Hollywood felt the story was compelling enough to make an American version starring Daniel Craig.  I was definitely intrigued to see what all the fuss was about.  I was very happy to see that the movie was available for streaming on Netflix.  Anytime you sit down to a foreign film that requires you to read subtitles you expect a slow pace and an artistic feel.  You definitely get the slow pace, but there isn't much art.  It feels more like a long episode of CSI than a film.  Right when I finished the movie I probably would have given it a 5/10.  The more I think about it the less I like it.  I'll drop my arbitrary rating to 4 out of 10.

August 14, 2010

#091: The Messenger (7/10)

I feel like it has been forever since I watched The Messenger, but I am just getting around to writing about it, almost 2 weeks later.  This film got almost no attention even though Woody was nominated for an oscar for his performance.  I probably would have skipped it if it hadn't shown up on Netflix's watch instantly selection.  I queued it up, but wasn't in any hurry to watch it. I expected it to be a boring movie with one worthwhile performance, but ultimately just another forgettable character drama.   However, I was surprised by how much this film and the performances resonated with me.  I give it a 7 out of 10.

August 1, 2010

#090: The Crazies (7/10)

I didn't totally know what I was getting into when I started The Crazies.  I'm sure I have said it before, but I am not a big fan of scary movies.  I wasn't expecting The Crazies to be extremely scary, just provide several moments of tension.  I was more scared than I thought I would be, and that was a good thing.  This is a pretty well made horror film, and provides quite a bit of enjoyment.  I don't think it is a perfect movie by any means, but it is worth watching.  I give it a 7 out of 10.

July 28, 2010

#089: Zombieland (6/10)

Zombieland is less of a zombie movie and more of a self-aware comedic examination of the genre.  I liked the tone and presentation, but it fell short in creating any tension or excitement.  The comedy worked well, so I cannot complain too much.  Aside from some uneven moments where it tried too hard to "wink" at the viewer, it was a very enjoyable movie to sit back and have fun with.  I give it a 6 out of 10.

July 24, 2010

#088: Inception (8/10)

This past weekend I made it to the theater for the third time in 2010.  Yes! Inception was powerful enough to draw me to the cinema on opening weekend; an extremely rare occasion.  I am not disappointed that I coughed up matinée rates to see it.  Inception was visually impressive, and an overall enjoyable film to watch on the big screen.  My initial reaction was an 8 out of 10, and I will stick with that.  

July 18, 2010

#087: Whip It (3/10)

I am not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to watch Whip It.  I really hadn't heard too many good things about it, but I held out hope that it would be an enjoyable film with a satisfying mix of humor and drama.  I was not expecting the mess of a film I got, and therefore can give it no more than a 3 out of 10.

There is quite a bit of things in Whip It that are supposed to be funny.  I would even go so far as to say it is intended to be a comedy.  However, I am not sure I laughed once during the whole thing.  Scratch that.  I did laugh several times while Landon Pigg was on screen, but it was because of his awkward acting and ridiculous facial expressions.  I felt like certain characters delivered genuine performances, but others didn't seem to be trying at all.  Just one of the many things about this film that felt so uneven.

July 10, 2010

#086: Shutter Island Spoiler Edition

I went to see Shutter Island on opening weekend at the theater, and it remains one of the best films I have seen so far in 2010.  There is so much interesting stuff going on in this film that I wanted to write about it again in a spoiler edition.  If you haven't already seen this great Scorsese film, then don't read on, I don't want to ruin it for you.I don't want to seem like I am over-hyping the twist ending of this film.  I think the ending it good, but I can see where others might find it somewhat predictable or anti-climactic.  The first time I watched the film I honestly had no clue what was really going on, nor did I really try to figure it all out.  I was just enjoying going along for the ride.

June 27, 2010

#085: Alice In Wonderland (2/10)

I have always been a fan of Tim Burton films, and I quite like Johnny Depp.  I vaguely remember watching the Disney cartoon of Alice In Wonderland, so I didn't come in with any preconceived notions or expectations for what this story should be like.  It would seem that I was setup to enjoy this film, but that is totally not what happened.  The first hour was brutal, I had to take a break before having the stamina to finish.  This mess of a movie barely manages a 2 out of 10.

June 26, 2010

#084: The Puffy Chair (6/10)

It has been really hot around here lately.  I have been spending a lot of time indoors, but unfortunately I haven't been watching very many movies.   There has been so much going on in the world of sports lately that I have been keeping pretty busy with that.  In just one more week the Tour de France will be starting, which will be occupying much of my free time during the month of July.  Even if I have plenty of time to sit down and watch movies, I usually struggle making the time to write about them.  However, I will get back on schedule and post at least one review every week.

June 16, 2010

#083: The Room (3/10)

Last week I was on vacation.  While I was taking a break from work, I also took a break from film.  I only watched one movie over the past 2 weeks.  It is actually a stretch to even call the one I watched a "movie". It had actors and a slight semblance of a plot, but that is about all. I am looking forward to catching up with a few movies this weekend.

The Room (2003) is quite possibly the worst film I have ever seen.  There is nothing about the plot that makes any sense.  Scenes don't flow at all from one to the next.  The dialog is completely nonsensical.  It was so bad that it became very humorous.  I would encourage everybody to watch The Room.  If nothing else, it will surely make the next film you watch seem like a masterpiece by comparison.  It is really hard for me to assign a score to this film because it is so bad.  If I were basing my scores on quality, it would need to receive a negative number.  However, it was fairly watchable... 3 out of 10.

June 3, 2010

#082: May 2010 Recap

Starting with May, I am going to try and recap of all the movies I watch each month.  There is no way I can write in length about every of them, but I will try to highlight them with some quick thoughts. I have emboldened the titles of the films that I would encourage you to seek out and watch if you haven't yet seen them.  This is sort of independent of whether I liked it or not, and depends more on if the film can bring something compelling to the table.  This could be an original idea for a story, or an impressive acting performance. 

May 29, 2010

#081: Oldboy (9/10)

When this film first started, I was worried that it would be extremely cheesy and campy.  That isn't always a bad thing, but it wasn't what I was hoping for with Oldboy.  After the brief intro the film turned into something much more gritty.  I was hooked. Oldboy is one of the best all-around films I have seen for a while.  It has a very stylized artistic feel, yet remains fun and entertaining from beginning to end.  The story can get pretty confusing, but it really paid off.  I am looking forward to watching Oldboy again.  A very solid 9 out of 10.

May 16, 2010

#080: "Movie" vs "Film"

Does the word "movie" carry a different meaning to you than the word "film"? I have thought about that and I can say that right now, no, those two words mean the same thing.  However, I did feel at one point that "film" carried along with it a certain air of prestige.  A film was a work of art; a movie, a mindless spewing of moving pictures.  The meaning lies in our interpretation, and the usage is determined by our intention.

When I first created my blog it was named "Movies With Deric".  Wow! Lame!  I quickly changed it to "Pretend Film Critic".  Much better.  I discovered over those first few months of writing about movies, that I stopped differentiating between "movie" and "film". When you write, you don't want to use the same word over and over again, so you try to mix it up a bit.  They became interchangeable.  When the name was adapted to include "film critic" I didn't intend to add any pomp or formality.

May 14, 2010

#079: This Is It (5/10)

I would be lying if I claimed to be a huge fan of Michael Jackson. I was too young to experience his domination of the 80's as it happened. At that time I was too naive to understand his impact, and too ignorant to appreciate his genius. Unfortunately, by the time I became aware of MJ, he had become infamous for his eccentricities and allegations of pedophilia. As I grew older I started to listen to his hits, and realize his talent. However, those years had passed him, and his newer stuff was of little interest to me. I felt like I was always waiting for him. I knew he would have a resurgence; that he would create his unique style of art that would once again captivate the world. I just wasn't sure when it was going to happen. I was still waiting when I heard of his death. I feel like he still had something to contribute, and now we would never get to see it. I will always feel that way; who knows if it would have ever come to be.

May 10, 2010

#078: Triangle (7/10)

At the heart of every film is a story.  That story might be simple, complex, happy or sad; but that narrative will untimely determine how well you like the film.  Triangle tells a very interesting story.  It didn't have the money or star power behind it, but this film still works on so many levels.  Whether you find this experience to be very derivative, bewildering, or genius; it will at least make you think.  The visual effects aren't the greatest. Sometimes you might feel like you are watching a b-level movie.  Still, the story is pretty great and I had a ton a fun with it.  7 out of 10.

May 3, 2010

#077: Sherlock Holmes (4/10)

The Sherlock Holmes played by Robert Downey Jr. in this 2009 film is not the Sherlock Holmes that Arthur Conan Doyle created.  For somebody who never read the books, this movie might be perfectly fine.  However, I could not get over the feeling that this character was a poor perversion of what the real Sherlock Holmes would have been like.What it lacked in character it could have made up with story, but that didn't work well for me either.  My mediocre expectations for this film were definitely not met.  Therefore, I can only give it a 4 out of 10.

May 2, 2010

#076: An Education 7/10

The coming of age story has been told in film time and time again.  An Education tells a similar tale to what we have seen before, but it does it really well.  This film combines great acting with a well-told story to succeed for most of the way.  It fell a little bit flat at the very end, but still manages a solid 7 out of 10.

An Education is set in a 1961 London suburb, and tells the story of a 16 year-old girl, Jenny (Carrie Mulligan),  who gets seduced by a an older man David (Peter Sarsgaard).  She doesn't so much get seduced by the man as much as the life she thinks he can offer.  As a teenager Jenny only knows of school, homework, and cello rehearsal.  It is easy to see how she falls for a life of jazz clubs, fancy restaurants and french films.  She is in love with the idea of a lifestyle, and it seems to be right within her grasp. 

April 25, 2010

#075: The Blind Side 3/10

When you are telling a story based in reality, you have to keep it grounded and make it feel real.  Most of the time The Blind Side rang completely false.  Each time I started to get drawn into the story it did something to remind me how foolish it was.  This movie had enough decent moments to make it watchable, but overall felt contrived, trite.  I might be accused of being too cynical, but this film barely manages a 3 out of 10.

When a movie takes on a story like the one told in The Blind Side it has to be very careful not to come over as being racist.  At times if feels like the story of a bunch of gracious white people who go out of their way to rescue a poor black kid that would never have been able to make anything of his life on his own. For the most part this film avoids that "whitey saves the day" vibe, but not entirely.  I realize Sandra Bullock's character has taken this boy in as her own son, but she treats him like an infant.  He is a teenager, yet he is treated like a small child; too stupid to know better.  

April 22, 2010

#074: Up In The Air 5/10

Up In The Air is probably supposed to make you evaluate your life or something.  It just made realize how much I hate the business-type pricks that are always trolling the airports. My mind had a lot of time to wander while it was not being stimulated by this bland film.  The middle was decent, but it was sandwiched between annoying characterizations and trite storylines.  This underwhelming film still manages a 5 out of 10.

Up In The Air tells the story of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a loner who spends most of his life traveling around the world firing people.  He avoids human connections, and his main goal in life is to collect 10 million frequent flyer miles.  His company brings in a recent graduate Natalie (Anna Kendrick) who pitches the cost savings of conducting the firings via webcam.  This will ground Ryan and turn his life upside down.  Before they clip his wings he is tasked with taking Natalie under one of them and showing her the ropes.

April 17, 2010

#073: How To Train Your Dragon 7/10

Dreamworks adds another solid animated film to their library with How To Train Your Dragon.  The story didn't feel all that original, but it was fun to watch and done really well.  As a person who doesn't like to spend my money to go to the theater very often, I left feeling satisfied with the value this film provided.  It's probably not going to blow anybody's mind, but it will surely entertain.  I give it a 7 out of 10.

How To Train Your Dragon tells the story of a young viking named Hiccup.  Every viking in this village grows up hating the pesky dragons.  They train from a young age to hopefully kill one someday.  Hiccup is the son of the fiercest dragon slayer, and of course he is an awkward nerd with an unimpressive physique.  He dreams of gaining the approval of his father by one day proving himself as a dragon hunter.  When he finally gets his chance he finds that he cannot complete the deed, but rather develops his own strategy for dealing with the dragon problem.

April 10, 2010

#072: We Live In Public 3/10

We Live In Public is a 2009 documentary about Josh Harris, one of the many nerds that got rich during the internet & tech boom of the 90's. While he is an interesting character, this doc fails to put together a cohesive narrative. In other words, the story seems pointless. Enjoyed parts of it, but will give it a weak 3 out of 10.

I had never heard of Josh Harris, and most likely neither have you.  This film tries to paint him as an important and influential figure during the rapid rise of the internet.  I never quite bought it, but I cannot deny this guy was smart.  He had good ideas, and the knowledge to turn them into cash, and a lot of it.

April 5, 2010

#071: Fantastic Mr. Fox 8/10

Filled with all kinds of quirk, this stylized stop-motion animation film packs in a lot of charm.  It has the unmistakable Wes Anderson vibe, yet it is still a lot of fun to watch.  Fantastic Mr. Fox received a lot of critical praise, which left me wary going in. Now that I have seen it I can say that this film really does work well from beginning to end. I would give it a solid 8 out of 10.

Most people would not hesitate to crown UP the award for best animated film of last year.  I really enjoyed UP, but in my opinion Fantastic Mr. Fox edges it out.  UP has some really great moments, but Fantastic Mr. Fox worked better from beginning to end.

March 27, 2010

#070: G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra 4/10

I expected this film to be pretty horrible, and for the most part it was.  That doesn't mean I didn't have fun watching it.  The acting was really bad, but it never seemed to take itself too seriously.  Most of the time I felt like I was watching a live-action version of the cartoon, and I quite liked that.  Not a great film, but not a bad action flick that keeps the pace up. As an overall movie I would say it's a  4/10.  But for what it is, and what it's trying to be, it probably deserves a higher rating than that.

March 25, 2010

#069: Precious 6/10

Precious probably does more to propagate stereotypes than crush them, but it all comes packaged in a fairly moving story.  I was engaged by the film and found it enjoyable to watch although several aspects were annoying and pulled me out of it.  It isn't great but it definitely isn't horrible, therefore I will give it a 6 out of 10.

Precious was billed as an influential, emotional piece of art that will change the world.  The actors and actresses are doing their duty as african americans by appearing in a film that is going to do so much to unite this country.  I might be overstating it a bit, but these ideas were put out there to some extent.  Going in I thought this was going to be a story of overcoming adversity to triumph in the end.  It could be described as such, but it wasn't nearly as clean and sweet as I thought it would be.  The film is more about ignorance begetting ignorance, and how that cycle ends when everything says it should continue on.

March 13, 2010

#068: Funny People 6/10

I was pretty excited when I learned that Sandler was starring in the latest Apatow project. Two and a half hours later I can say that I enjoyed this film quite a bit. However, it didn't live up to my expectations. It's definitely worth watching, but it is long. I enjoy dick jokes just as much as the next guy, but this film might have overdone it a bit.  However, there were enough good moments for me to give it a 6 out of 10.

This film starts out with real footage from Sandler's early days of comedy. It was kinda striking because if forces you to think about the fact that he is basically playing himself in this role. It was kind of genius, and for the most part really works in the film. Sandler plays George Simmons, a famous comedian/actor who has starred in lots of films and made tons of money. George finds out he is dying. This prompts him to take young comedian Ira (Seth Rogen) under his wing. With Ira at his side, George reevaluates his life and tries to figure out how he will spend his final days.

March 9, 2010

#067: Antichrist 2/10

A slow paced film that will make you hate life isn't always a bad thing, but in the case of Antichrist it is.  Horrible characters on a bizarre and disgusting camping trip usually won't  garner a high score.  I will give this film some credit for the level of absurdity it was able to achieve.  My queasy stomach and I award a score of  2 out of 10.

A fair amount of buzz surrounded this film after it premiered at Cannes.  Most of the stuff I heard made me want to never see it, while still piquing my curiosity.  I was intrigued to witness some of the things play out on the screen, but also somewhat scared at the same time.  I would have never rented this film, but Netflix has it available on watch instantly, so I couldn't resist.

March 8, 2010

#066: Post Oscar Thoughts

I watch the Oscars for the spectacle of it all.  I usually don't care about any of the categories, but I am interested to see who takes best actor/actress, and of course the best picture.  This year was no exception.  Most of the predictions came true.  The only surprises were surrounding which presenter would screw up, and how many acceptance speeches would be obnoxious and/or embarrassing.

March 4, 2010

#065: The Oscars

The entire film world is gearing up for the Oscars this coming Sunday.  If I want to pretend to be a critic, I should at least pay a little attention to this event.  I have never been big into the Oscars, but it seems this year nobody is.  I have heard some talk about the 10 nominations for best picture, but there hasn't been much other than that.  I think "the public" is still pissed that The Dark Knight got snubbed from the list of nominees last year.  I wasn't as big a fan of the film as most, but I have to admit it was a hell of a lot better than Slumdog Millionaire.  Generally speaking, most people would have to agree that the best picture winner is rarely the film of the year that they liked best.

February 28, 2010

#064: Rating Movies

I have gone back and forth on whether to give each film a score.  I don't really like star ratings because it feels very ambiguous.  I am not sure how to differentiate a 3.5 star film from a 4 star film.  This is the problem with any sort of scoring system.  It also leaves you open to directly compare two films that have to be judged on completely different rubrics.  Even when assigning the score you let these comparisons cloud your judgement.  You start to think, I gave Borat 4 stars, but I like Zoolander slightly more so I need to give it 4.5 even though Zoolander on its own would have only ever garnered no more than 4 stars.  Anyway, I think you get the point.

February 27, 2010

#063: Shutter Island

At some points Shutter Island got pretty crazy, but never too crazy.  Propped up by great acting and cinematography, the sometimes meandering story still works really well.  I give this psychological thriller a solid 7 out of 10.

I was interested enough by Shutter Island to make a trip to the movie theater by myself to check out the new Scorsese flick on its opening weekend.  I went in with an open mind and almost no expectations, and I left satisfied by another solid film from a seasoned director.  However, I don't think everybody will share my sentiments.

February 22, 2010

#062: Adam

This 2009 film is about a guy named Adam who is living with Asberger's Syndrome.  A cute girl moves into his building and we get to watch the awkwardness ensue.  The premise of the film is decent, and has potential to be pretty good.  It starts out seeming heartfelt and sweet.  However, early on it gets really lame really fast.  Pretty much as soon as the neighbor girl Beth walks on the screen this movie goes downhill.  Everything goes corny and it is ridiculous.  The acting is horrible and every serious moment feels contrived and completely unbelievable.  I was expecting this film to teach us something about Asberger's, but at some point I felt like the movie was just mocking it.  Saying this film informs the public about Asberger's is like saying Tranformers teaches us about the inner workings of an automobile.