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.

February 20, 2010

#061: A Serious Man

As a person who loves movies I am interested in seeing anything that gets a mention for the best picture of the year, no matter how stilted that process actually is.  I was even more interested to see this film considering it is a Coen brothers creation.  Even still, I didn't have too high of expectations going into A Serious Man.

This film was a very personal endeavor for the Coens, and doesn't go to any lengths to appeal to a wide audience.  Usually that is a good thing that makes for a very interesting film.  However, for me it completely missed the mark. It is a well made film that has some very funny moments, but overall it fell flat.  The humor is funny in a sort of sad, awkward way.  I understood what the film was saying, or at least I thought I did, but I never felt like I really "got" it.  There has to be a deeper narrative, but I couldn't seem to see it.

February 18, 2010

#060: In The Loop

I heard mention of In The Loop several times, always accompanied by positive comments.  I decided to go ahead and check it out.  Not sure what to expect, I started it up in the mood for some entertainment. This film was entertaining, but I stopped caring about it just a little ways in.  For the last part of the movie I was half-heartedly listening to the "clever" dialog while checking facebook & twitter.

I would describe this film as a political satire.  It is comedic, but for some reason I don't want to call it a comedy.  I am not big into politics, so that aspect of this film didn't hook me in at all.  The film seemed to keep adding characters that I was supposed to keep track of.  After a little bit of this I stopped caring and  just tried to enjoy the spirited conversations.  This also got old, and then there wasn't anything left for me to be invested in.  For me it felt more like a television show than a movie. I got this sense that it was several smaller episodes jammed into one.  It seemed somewhat reminiscent of the original Office, except about politics.  I was not surprised to found out after watching it, that In The Loop is a spinoff of the television series The Thick Of it.

February 14, 2010

#059: World's Greatest Dad

Who doesn't love the comedic genius that is Robin Williams? Well, I definitely don't hate him, but he has done a lot of bad movies over the past decade.  I wasn't optimistic when I heard he was starring in a dark comedy directed by Bobcat Goldthwait.  However, some very positive reviews by critics I respect put World's Greatest Dad on the short list of films I wanted to check out upon dvd release.  I was very excited to find out that Netflix watch instant would have it available just a couple weeks after the dvd came out.

February 13, 2010

#058: A Perfect Getaway

I knew very little about this film going in, and that is really the only way to watch it.  Therefore, I am not going to give much of anything away about the plot.  I will say A Perfect Getaway is a "who-done-it" thriller that tries to keep you guessing.

From the beginning I felt disconnected from the characters.  It is not a problem with the film, I just didn't get into it right away.  It seemed to take quite a while to gain any momentum.  It was able to slowly develop a sense of tension and mystery, but through the middle I still wasn't feeling invested in what was going on.  Having said that, the climax of this film was surprisingly intense and effective.  If you are really into the film from the beginning I can only imagine the ending will even be more exciting to watch.

Part of my problem with the beginning is that I was expecting a more traditional thriller.  There usually seems to be an inciting incident that sets off a chain of events, or creates a mystery.  This film doesn't take that route.  Rather is allows you to spend time with the characters and watch them go about their business.  I have to credit the film for choosing the route it did.  I think all the time we spend getting to know the characters in the first part is what makes the ending work as well as it did for me.  However, if you are looking for a film to hook you in with intense action from the start, this isn't going to indulge you.

Overall I would recommend A Perfect Getaway as an enjoyable rental.  Knowing nothing about the plot of the film helped the premise to be more impactful, and made the last act of the film a lot of fun to watch.  Don't expect to be blown away by some amazing twist; just expect to be entertained by a well constructed thriller.


February 7, 2010

#057: Big Fan

Big Fan is a film starring comedian Patton Oswalt as Paul, a devout New York Giants football fan.  His entire life revolves around the NFL football season, and little else seems to matter as much to him as a win for his G-men.  He regularly calls into a local sports radio show to recite his pre-written thoughts.  He and his best friend get dressed up and drive to home games, only to watch the game on a small tv in the parking lot.  This guys is obsessed with the Giants.

One night while driving they notice their favorite player getting into a car.  They follow him all around, finally catching up with him at a night club.  After much deliberation our main character finally gets up the balls to go over and talk to him, only to get his ass kicked by his sports hero.  The rest of the film explores how he responds to this incident, and how it changes his life and love for his team.

Big Fan can be about a lot of stuff, but the thing I connected with the most is how it deals with the subjectiveness of success.  By "normal" standards this guy would be considered a complete loser. He still lives at home with his mother, he has a crappy job, and the only thing he is passionate about is football.  However, he is completely content with what he has.  He has no problem with his lot in life, and just wants everybody to leave him alone.  It is an interesting look at a guy who would seem to have his priorities all out of whack, but you can't help but feel for him and understand his frustration.

This movie does a lot of things well.  It feels extremely real.  The performances feel genuine and allow you to connect with the characters.  Patton Oswalt's performance was the best part about the film.  He did a great job for not having a whole lot of acting experience.  I really enjoyed the the sentiment of the film, and appreciated the inventive story line.  However, when it was all over I felt disappointed. From the beginning the movie seemed to be taking us somewhere.  Along the way it seems we got lost.  In the end, I felt like we didn't go anywhere.  I didn't hate the movie because of it.  In a way it is a perfect parallel with Paul life, and his uninspired existence.  He isn't going anywhere, and neither is his movie.  The end does have somewhat of a "victory" for our lovable loser; but it is hardly a satisfying conclusion.

I would definitely recommend this film to anybody interested enough to check it out.  It has that indie charm without any of the quirk and self-importance.  Even though I found the destination somewhat unsatisfying, the journey was enjoyable enough.