I decided at the beginning of 2009, to keep a list of the media that I consumed. I listed movies that I saw in the theater, movies that I rented on dvd, and books. In hindsight, I WISH I thought to include my music purchases (and gifts) to this list as well.
Since the lists also include short "reviews" they've added up to a lengthy post, so I decided to split them into 3 parts: Books, dvd's, and theater.
Comments are welcomed.
The Impressionists (disc one). ∆∆∆
Big Rig - ∆∆∆ (documentary on truck drivers)
Sweeny Todd - ∆∆
Be Kind Rewind - ∆
The Kite Runner - ∆∆∆∆ Good movie. Rough story about the evils of some of humanity.
The Impressionists (disk 2) - ∆∆∆ Bit rough and dry in the acting, but interesting stories about the painters.
This American Life (disk 1) - ∆∆∆∆ - some interesting stories.
Invader Zim (vol 1 disk 1) - ∆∆∆ - good, but you can't watch that many shows back to back.
Eagle Eye - ∆∆∆∆ - Some corny scenes, a bit cliché at times, but overall I enjoyed it. And Some really clever/funny lines for Billy-Bob's character.
Le Cercle Rouge - ∆ - a SLOW heist movie. Just couldn't hold my interest. LOTS of continuity mistakes too.
2/28/09 - The Quiet American - ∆∆ - wasn't horrible, but I had trouble with how it was written... in that the characters never seemed believable. Lack of motivation for some of their actions. Could have been a good movie.
3/3/09 - Body of lies - ∆∆∆∆ - Good spook movie. Lots of twists and turns that made it a bit difficult to follow at times, but for the most part I was able to keep up. Leonardo was good. Russell Crowe was so-so, mediocre dialogue for him.
3/10/09 - Max Payne - ∆∆ - Could have been really good, but felt rushed. Poor acting (and I like wahlberg). Connection between spiritual and drug/company never explained or panned out.
3/14/09 - RocknRolla - ∆∆∆∆ - Classic "guy ritchie" british gangster film. Bit complicated at first but pulls together in the end. Well done.
3/20/09 - Let the Right one in - ∆∆∆ - I'm being generous with that third triangle. Only because it was a vampire story like no other I've seen before. This was a Swedish film with English over dubbing, and the overdubbing was horrible.
3/27/09 - Charlie Bartlett - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Really well written teen angst movie. Robert Downey Jr is amazing. Kid who played Charlie also = amazing! Great casting. I do wonder though if teens liked this movie.
4/3/09 - The Conversation - ∆∆ - Almost gave it a 3 rating, but can't. Slow moving. strange dialogue. Jazz. 1970's 'technological' thriller. Good story though. Gene Hackman. Young harrison ford, Cindy williams = odd cast.
4/9/09 - Meet Bill - ∆ - I liked all the actors/actress, it was just a poor story, and poorly acted (directed?). Inconsistent characters. It was a fast-forward movie just to get through it.
4/17/09 - Chaplin: The movie - ∆ - much to my surprise I gave this movie only one star/triangle. I really like Robert Downey. I like Charlie Chaplin. Several other actors and actresses in this movie playing bit parts... but you know what killed the movie for me? The sound. It was horrible. Chaplin/Downey played a very mellow part with soft spoken words, so I had to turn the volume way up to hear him, then the other characters/sound effects were blaring. But perhaps most of all, the entire movie (I actually shut it off about 3/4 in!) appeared to be over-dubbed. The sound didn't quite match up with the video. Not to mention inconsistent volume levels. It actually ruined the movie for me because I was too distracted by the sound.
4/19/09 - Mondrian: From Naturalism to Abstraction - ∆∆∆ - Semi-poor production levels (poor lighting on the paintings for instance), dated music, and lots of odd helicopter footage that must have been filmed while hanging out of the helicopter itself because it was rather bouncy. But put all that aside, and it was a good 1 hour film introducing Mondrian's works.
4/19/09 - Flash of Genius - ∆∆∆∆∆ - I may be a bit too generous with that last star (triangle) but I thought this was a really good movie. The only downside is that it's an underdog story. In all my years of watching movies, I can tell you what usually happens at the end of an underdog movie, so in that sense it was a bit predictable. But none-the-less it was a good story, and Greg Kinnear did another fantastic job at acting on this one. As a wanna-be "maker" this movie should be on every inventor/makers list.
4/24/09 - Special - ∆∆∆∆∆ - a really interesting independent movie. A man thinks he can fly when he takes part in an experimental drug program. One of those indy movies that I feel is a real gem in the rough.
4/26/09 - Doubt - ∆∆∆∆ - really well done job of acting all the way around. Not exactly a happy movie though so I took one star off for that. I won't say anything else as the less you know about the movie the better.
5/1/09 - Run, fat boy, run - ∆ - I liked Simon Pegg in "Shaun of the dead" and I even liked him in "hot fuzz", but sadly, run fat boy run, was just lame. Here's a clue... when the title of the film has "fat boy" in it, then the main character um should be... fat! They basically put a small pillow under his shirt, that had to be some of the lamest prosthetic work I've seen. Then the plot was just so predictable, I ended up watching the second half of the movie in fast forward mode.
5/1/09 - Delicatessen - ∆∆ - Perhaps, had I seen this movie when I was in the right mood I would have liked it more, but I just had a difficult time with this one. It was a french movie (yes subtitled). What is it with the french making weird movies? It had Dominique Pinon in it, which I like (odd looking man, but good actor, though his films that I've seen him in don't exactly push his acting skills (aliens, city of lost children)).
It was a very quirky film. Too quirky for me. Characters were over the top on purpose. I just kinda walked away shaking my head after this one.
5/?/09 - Wild China - ∆∆∆ - A BBC documentary series about remote places in China. Disk one (which I finished last night) had 3 episodes (1 hour each). It can be tedious at times, but usually in each episode there is some really interesting piece of information. Not to mention some of the wildlife is incredibly filmed. I hope to get to disk 2 soon.
5/24/09 - Milk - ∆∆∆∆ - Sean Penn is an amazing actor. This entire story was all new to me, and the ending was a complete shock. It amazes me that people who try to do good in this world are almost always seen as a threat.
6/3/09 - Dark Matter - ∆∆ - I hate it when netflix gets my rating right. They said this would be a 2 star rating, and sure enough. I tried very hard to like this movie but it was just disjointed. Meryl Streep and Aidinn Quinn, yet the acting was mediocre and not believable. The film edits were choppy and confusing. The storyline was forced. I ended up fast-forward watching this movie about 3/4 of the way through.
6/8/09 - The Tale of Despereaux - ∆∆ - I tried really hard to like this film. It just didn't cut it for me.
warning - spoilers:
Technically speaking - some of the computer animation was nicely done. In fact there were sections (book scene) that I preferred over the main animation - especially how they did the fire effect. But a lot of sections that it looked like they cut corners on the the animation.
The storyline - convoluted. The talking vegetable man was totally out of left field, and didn't make any sense to me.
They ended the storyline with such abruptness it felt forced. The girl going back to live on a pig farm was supposed to be her living "happily ever after?!"
I knew I was in trouble in the first few minutes of the film when they said that "soup day" was more exciting than Christmas! What?! No kid (or me) can relate to that!
6/11/09 - The Battle for Seattle - ∆∆∆∆∆ - An AWESOME protest movie. Ok, it wasn't perfect, some of the acting was forced, some of the storyline was a bit too preachy, but there were plenty of moments where the movie soared. Andre Benjamin (yes, from Outkast) was amazing. I still do not care for Michelle Rodriquez - she always plays the "tough chick" and it's old. Martin Henderson was good as was Woody and Charlize (though I had hoped to see more of Charlize). Also, kudos to Stuart Townsend for showing both sides of the story (protestors and police). Lastly: We the people will never be divided.
6/16/09 - In the valley of Elah - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Solid 5 star movie. Powerful acting, and a sad story behind it all. Fantastic acting by Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. I'll end with just this... I wish peace in this world.
6/22/09 - W. - ∆∆ - I almost gave it a 3 star, but just couldn't do it. The movie was long and tedious. While some of the acting was well done (Brolin was very good, Richard Dreyfus was Amazing) the story just was a retelling of events we already knew. Some of the bias was just over-the-top and silly (for example watching "Bush" eat his sandwich and stuffing his mouth, and talking with his mouth full.) Some of the character actors were just too distracting... Rove and Condi. I had hoped for more details and insight into the man, but instead was just met with a 2+ hour retelling of the last 8 years.
6/23/09 - Frost/Nixon - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Unbelievable acting on this one. I was able to keep up with some of politics involved, but admit to not knowing all the names of the key players. Even so, to be on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the "duel" progressed is saying a lot about a subject as dry as an interview. Tip of the hat to all the fine actors, top notch.
6/26/09 - True Blood - ∆ - I had heard a lot about this new show from HBO and it all seemed to be good, so I decided to rent season one and give it a shot. Apparently I'm the only one who thinks this show was lame?! I barely got through the first episode. The characters were stereotypical and over-the-top. The episode was poorly edited - example: The "cool" vampire dude goes outside with two local looneys. The woman (who looks like she's about 98pounds wet) fears for his safety and decides to run out to try and warn him that the looney's might attack him. Her boss, upon learning this, runs out of the bar also to stop her... next we see the woman pick up a big pile of chains (silently I might add), she whips the chains around a guys neck with super speed, then proceeds to pick up a knife and talk like the meanest gangster who ever lived. She rescued the vampire who was held down by a little silver necklace, they sit in the woods for a while and trade stories. Eventually (12 minutes later?) she heads back to the bar, where the boss is just standing in the parking lot (50' away) looking around like a doofus. Ugh. I expected more from you HBO.
6/28/09 - ∆∆∆ - The Ali G show - season one disc one - I am not 100% sure I like This series (also an HBO series). While many of the shorts get me to smile, they're not always funny. Not to mention the strong crudeness factor. I will say though that the first bit, where he trains with the Philadelphia police dept was funny, and the scene where Borat is in the gym trying to learn how to use the tread mill - had me in tears! I'm going to give the next disk a chance. Perhaps because this isn't new anymore, and I know what to expect with Sasha's characters it's not as funny, but he def has talent to make me laugh, just not consistently.
7/11/09 - ∆∆∆ - Valkyrie - I'm being generous with 3 stars here, but the movie held my interest (barely) for the whole time. I felt the movie was long and tedious and we got a dry re-telling of history. Granted it was intense at times, but overall it just lacked something. I've noticed in the past, I also have problems with movies that just have one single tone throughout the entire movie, and this was one of them.
7/14/09 - ∆∆ - Proof - Oh, I tried so hard to like this movie, but I just couldn't. While the storyline was there to make for a good movie, and two very talented actors (Jake Gyllenhaal and Gwyneth Paltrow), the movie just laid there and fizzelled. I blame it on two things... the dialogue was poorly written, and the direction was bad. The feelings of the characters never flowed at all, and most of the movie was spent arguing among the characters. No one wants to sit through 2 hours of arguing.
7/22/09 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Speak - Wow. What a good movie this was. A strong subject matter of a young girl who... actually I don't want to give any of the story-line away. I'll use the words that netflix did "an unfortunate incident that left a young girl shunned..." It involves this girls struggles to carry the weight of what happened to her, while at the same time trying to juggle the social nightmare that only 9th grade can bring. Kristen Stewart was the star, and she did an incredible job. The reason I rented this was because Steve Zahn was the art teacher in this film and I usually like the movies that he is in - this definitely fell in that category.
7/31/09 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - The Haunting in Connecticut - Yep, you saw that right... I just gave a horror movie a 5 star rating. Oddly enough, I was thinking recently, that I had seen all the good horror movies out there. I have exhausted this genre of movies. That I would never see a good horror movie again. I was wrong. Ok, perhaps I was in the right frame of mind tonight, to sit down and watch a good ghost story, that I turned that little "critic filter" off. Were there some silly parts in the movie? Of course. Lots of "Gotcha" type scares (I think I jumped once*) The effects were gory at times, but for the most part, I enjoyed the movie. Then... I decided to watch the dvd special feature which interviewed the real occupants of the house, that was almost better than the movie. There was one scene there that made me jump as well. All in all, it was a good story if nothing else.
8/6/09 - ∆∆∆∆ - The Future of Food - A really eye opening documentary about the Food industry and genetic engineering. A bit heavy on the science side of things, but overall an educational film. Really makes Monsanto out to be a bad guy (Which I think they might be). Everyone who eats should watch this film.
8/09 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Dexter - I have been hooked on the Showtime (which I learned is a subsidiary of CBS), called "Dexter", about a serial killer living in Florida who is a forensics cop. Good storyline, good suspense, good acting (for some). MY biggest complaint... the sister character (after watching the entire first series, I still can't name the characters! odd.) I look forward to starting season 2 any day now.
8/20/09 - ∆ - 10,000 BC - Just lame. perhaps I wasn't in the right mood, but this one just struck me as really lame. poor acting, mediocre effects, goofy love story. I expected more.
8/23/09 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - The Cats of Mirikitani - Documentary about Japanese/American artist "Jimmy" Mirikitani, who was homeless on the streets of NYC, and through this documentary film maker, Linda Hattebdorf managed to give him a helping hand up and get him back on his feet again. Really nice film. Peace Jimmy.
9/13/09 - ∆∆ - The Assassination of Jesse James - What LONG and tedious film. Yes it had really good acting, yes it had some nice cinematography, hut there was no way that film needed to be dragged out to 2.5 hours! I bet if I went through and edited out all the moments of silence and people just walking in an empty field that could shave off 45 minutes. Skip this film is my suggestion.
9/16/09 - Firewall - ∆∆ - A Harrison ford movie that was really lame. predictable "paint by number" script. poor acting (except for the bad guy who was pretty good). What I thought was a technological thriller amounted to some bogus scenes of hacking an ipod with a fax machine - lame.
9/25/09 - Adventureland - ∆∆∆∆ - I actually thought this movie was ok, and gave it that last "∆" for the soundtrack alone. It was basically a "chick flick" disguised as a stoner movie. A sort of teen-angst movie. It was well written too. The only thing that bothered me, was that the time frame seemed off for me... they said in the beginning of the movie it was 1987, but It seemed more like it might have been early 80's to me.
10/4/09 - The King of Kong - ∆∆∆∆ - Overall a good documentary. It was a bit dry at times, and the production levels were a bit on the low side, but it told a good story, which is what a documentary is supposed to do. I enjoyed seeing the tension, and thought the movie did a good job at creating that tension. By the end you really were rooting for the "underdog" Steve Weibe (weebee). It was neat to see a lot of the old "coin-op" classic video games that I grew up with too. If you are familiar with the 80's, classic arcade games, or enjoy anything that's 8-bit, I'd recommend this dvd. (disclaimer: Yes, I'm a geek so this perhaps that's why it was entertaining to me).
10/11/09 - Stander - ∆∆∆ - A movie I only heard about via Netflix. This was just a solid middle of the road for me. It wasn't bad, and I watched the story-line to see what would happen next, the only thing that I think kept it from being a good movie was that the acting was a bit flat (one sided - cool tough-guy attitude). I also felt like the editing was a bit choppy. I will give credit in that up until I looked it up on imdb, I thought it might of actually been filmed in the 70's. It was actually filmed in 2003, but they did a great job of capturing the feel of the 70's. Based on a True story as well, which is always interesting.
10/12/09 - ∆∆∆ - The Impressionist: Monet - A good documentary about the painter. Not great, but good. I felt like too much time was spent on just a few paintings though, I wish I saw a broader spectrum of his work.
10/12/09 - ∆ - The Pacific and Eddy - An attempt at an "indie film" but just didn't cut it for me. Too many long drawn out shots of trees in the wind, or wave of the ocean. It tried too hard to be an "artsy" film that I was totally board.
10/24/09 - ∆∆∆ - The Brothers Bloom - This is another one of those "con movies" that has twist after twist after twist, until either you give up trying to figure it out, or you're lucky enough to have kept up. I thought the acting was good on Adrien's part, but Rachel Weisz always gets on my nerves for some reason. This movie she was more tolerable to me. It was almost a good movie, but it became tedious. The saving grace I think for me was that it was really nicely filmed. The Cinematography was very well done.
10/30/09 - ∆ - Year One - Sadly another Jack Black movie that scraped the bottom of the barrel. I also really like Michael Cera and the two were not enough to raise the level of this movie. Classic example where the trailer had the funniest parts (and I'm also realizing that a 2 minute trailer can be funny whereas an hour and half movie is not.
11/8/09 - ∆∆ - Sunshine Cleaning - A difficult movie to rate for me because it was a good story, and good acting, but wow, was it ever depressing. It was marked as a "dark comedy" and I'd put the emphasis on "dark" more than comedy. Personally, I just don't like depressing movies, so that's why the low rating. Topics include, death, suicide, drugs, single parenting, unhappy with her job, infidelity. So put all those topics into a "comedy" and this is what you get.
11/11/09 - ∆∆∆∆ - Chaos Theory - Perhaps I'm being a little generous with that last '∆', but it was kind of a 'feel-good' movie so I'm still in a good mood. I mainly rented this movie because it had Ryan Reynolds in it... I think he's a good actor, and usually finds that right balance of comedy with good acting. The movie was a td on the cheesy side, but then would surprise me with a really nice scene. A good story (though a bit predictable at times). Worth a rental.
11/14/09 - ∆∆ - The Boondock Saints - This ended up being a 'fast forward' movie for me. Shortly after getting the gist of the plot, I end up fast forwarding through all the poorly written dialogue, and give the movie one last chance for redemption (ie: something catches my eye.) Sadly, no. Lots of yelling, gun shooting, blood packs, and stereotypes.
11/14/09 - ∆∆ - The Strangers - A horror movie that caught my interest when it first appeared in the theaters. It wasn't something I was willing to spend $9.50 to see, so I waited for dvd. I had joked that when it came out, and Liv Tyler was in it, that I would watch a 2 hour movie of her washing dishes - well, that's about the same entertainment level here. A movie that is 98% suspense, and 1% 'boo' factor, and 1% gore. Psychologically it was scary and creepy, but there had to be a better story for it to pay off.
11/22/09 - ∆ - G.I. Joe - Perhaps I just wasn't in the right mood for this, but this movie just could not hold my interest in the slightest. Lots of nice effects and computer generated art, but beyond that - nothing else. Characters were goofy, one-liners were lame, lots of shaky camera techniques... I could go on, but I won't.
12/12/09 - ∆∆∆∆ - Food Inc - I'm about a week late with this review so the details will be sparse. Nutshell, a good documentary on how the food industry is... not broken per say, but seriously flawed. The motivator is simple... faster and cheaper. But what this means to the consumers is a dangerous trade-off to quality food. A bad combination between Government (lobbyists for big business), and corporation. For example... Chickens are bred now that that do not resemble chickens of 50 years ago. They are slaughtered in just a few months when they're growth rate is altered to produce overweight chicks. These chicks are so over weight at times they can not take more than a few steps at a time before collapsing (usually in the muck and feces of all the other thousands of chicks in the shed.) If you have no idea why it's cheaper to get a $1 hamburger than a $7 salad, you should watch this movie.
12/19/09 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - The Answer Man - Yes, a bit of a chick flick, but this movie really entertained me. Jeff Daniels always does a great job. What I liked most though, was the storyline... not overly complicated, but just a well told story. A small warning though on the language, just a bit harsh at times if that sort of thing bothers you. I feel like it fit the story, so it didn't bother me. Definitely worth a rental.
12/30/09 - ∆∆∆ - Chalk - I'm being very generous with that last ∆. A bit of a strange movie that definitely falls in the category of an "indy film". It was a "mockumentary" style comedy about a group of teachers in what looked to be a high school (or maybe it was middle school?). While there were some funny moments at times there were also many moments that seemed forced and just plain stereotypical. So because it made me chuckle a couple of times, I'm giving the extra ∆, but towards the end, I was ready for it to be over with.
12/30/09 - ∆∆∆∆ - Heavy Metal - Yes, I'm giving this dvd 4 stars mainly for sentimental reasons. By today's standards the movie might be something you'd see on a late night cable program, but back in the day... Of course this may be the greatest soundtrack ever assembled for a movie, which also counts for at least one or two ∆'s. Perhaps this time around, what I enjoyed most about the dvd was the small documentary as the 'bonus' that explained some of the events and thinking and even animation techniques behind the movie. I really enjoyed seeing how they did the scenes where they filmed the B-17 in all black, with white lines, then 'reversed' the film in order to get a black line outline. (hard to describe I guess). A nice way to spend an hour and a half or so remembering my youth in my teens.