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.
Movies (seen in the theater):
1/1/09: The Day the Earth Stood Still - ∆∆∆ overall good - last few minutes of ending was lame though.
1/16/09: Defiance - ∆∆∆ I think it was a good movie but Jerk behind me kept talking and ruined it for me.
1/31/09: Taken - ∆∆∆∆ really good for an action movie. Other acting = meh.
2/15/09: The International - ∆∆∆∆ pretty good plot, moved along nicely, good action. One scene bothered me towards end -walking around bazaar with handgun in plain view.
2/21/09: The Wrestler - ∆∆ - Almost a 3 star, but I just can't push it that high. Very predictable character study. Good acting though, and subject was just a bit depressing.
2/25/09: Slumdog Millionaire - ∆∆∆∆ - Good story mostly. Hard to watch with no judgment after winning Oscars and word of mouth buzz about how good it was.
3/7/09: The Watchmen - ∆∆∆∆ - Point off for mediocre acting, and choppy dialogue, but I think I may have been watching "Genius film-making" at work here. Great intricate story.
3/28/09: Knowing - ∆∆∆∆ - Admittedly it was very hokey at times. The acting was so-so. But I really liked this story, and some of the creepiness to the film. There were a lot of different ideas stitched together and for the most part, I think it worked well. Yes, the subject matter was right up my alley.
4/11/09: Duplicity - ∆∆∆ - not really great and not really good either. The ending of the movie was a big let down as well.
4/18/09: State of Play - ∆∆∆∆ - I liked this one. A nice conspiracy movie always gets to me. Afleck was pretty good too (surprisingly).
4/25/09: The Soloist - ∆∆∆∆∆ - a really touching story about a man with mental problems (schizophrenia?) who has a gift of playing the Cello, but ends up homeless. A Newspaper man ends up doing a story on him and becomes friends with the man. Great acting by both Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx.
5/2/09: X-Men Origins: Wolverine - ∆∆∆∆ - I'm being generous with the last triangle, but I'm giving extra credit for being a comic book movie. (confession: I for got to write this review until 4 weeks later! So not much details here other than - I liked it. Deadpool was awesome, and Liev Schreiber was really good as "Sabertooth".
5/9/09: Star Trek - ∆∆∆∆∆ - I REALLY enjoyed this movie. It was just a fun ride for me. Sure, if you think about some of the plot idea for more than a second you might say "hey, wait a minute..." but all in all I just enjoyed the show. Two complaints... the shaky camera technique... and for some reason the OVERUSE of white "Lens flares" as a special effect.
5/16/09: Angels and Demons - ∆∆∆ - Not really a great film, and I can understand some of the negative comments, but for me the subject matter made it all worth it. I'm a fan of Dan Brown's and conspiracy movies. I think the largest complaint... trying to fit such a complicated storyline into a 2 hour movie is impossible.
5/23/09: Terminator Salvation - ∆∆ - While I was entertained by the robots and cool motorcycles, that's about all I can say about this movie. The paradox of time travel (to quote my friend) was "rubbed in our faces" and still didn't make any sense at all. The acting was less than par. Lastly... a pregnant woman on a helicopter during a bombing and air strike - huh?!
Just a lame attempt to milk this "brand" for all its worth to perhaps hook a new generation. I'm sure that since it did well at the box office, there will be another one with another lame storyline... and I'll probably go see that too cause it has robots in it.
5/30/09: UP - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Pixar does it again. A moving animated feature about never giving up on your dreams. In addition to never be afraid to change your dreams either. A bit sad in the beginning as it deals with loss of a loved one, but still has plenty of laughs later. Well written.
6/6/09: The Hangover - ∆∆∆∆ - First this movie was rude and crude... second... it made me really laugh at times! Don't get me wrong, this movie is not about a storyline, or plot twists, it's about jokes, man butts, and Mike Tyson. I'm only being generous with the 4 stars because it made me laugh, and now-a-days, I applaud anything that can make me laugh (even if it's rude and crude).
6/16/0/: The Taking of Pelham 123 - ∆∆∆∆ - I'm almost giving this movie a 3 star rating, but I'm being generous for two important reasons... The acting was well done on behalf of Denzel (has he ever made a bad movie?) While John Travolta definitely pulled off the "bad ass" look, I had a hard time believing his character with all the cursing. It was either poorly written, or maybe I just know that John is a good gentle guy in real life, and I couldn't get that out of my head. But - the STORY was well done and that's what kept me engaged for the whole movie. The only other thing that really bothered me was a minor technical problem - all of the inconsistencies with the walkie-talkies and microphones. Apparently Hollywood has a hard time understanding that "push to talk" is how most walkie-talkies work ;)
Two minor things but otherwise a good entertaining movie.
Public Enemies - ∆∆∆ - I have to keep this short, because I saw the movie a couple weeks ago and the details have slipped my mind. Johnny Depp was great (as usual). The movie... not so much. I won't say it was bad, but I think first and foremost, it was 2.5 hours long, and they could have easily cut 30 minutes out of that film. There were a TON of characters in this movie to the point where I had trouble keeping track of who was who. Then... After the movie, I looked up some facts about John Dillinger, and learned that the movie took quite a few "liberties".
The Hurt Locker - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Wow, this was a really good movie. Terrific acting (Big hat tip to Jeremy Renner), great cinematography, strong story-line, the only thing that bothered me was the subject matter... War. I had trouble separating the fact that I was enjoying the movie on an "art" level, while at the same time shocked at the idiocy and horror that man can do to one another in the name of "war". It was also a shock as I was leaving the movie theater, I walked out into a cool summer night, I had my coffee, and a Tastycake as a snack, and yet as I'm watching this movie as "entertainment" there are guys on the other side of the world LIVING this thing on a daily basis. As part of my countrymen are off in a foreign land risking their lives and taking other lives, I'm sitting at home watching it on the big screen - there's something really wrong with that. This world we live in is a messed up place.
Harry Potter - ∆∆∆ - Again, I'm writing this a week later, so some of the details have been forgotten, but I'll try to be brief. I liked the movie overall. But for me it was missing something. It was a tad too long. Pardon the pun... but it seemed like some of the magic was missing in this movie. That said, there were also moments where I was drawn into the movie and was just watching everything as if I were in Hogwarts. I tip my hat to a movie that can do that. Some of the "boy meets girl" story-lines started to grate on my nerves a bit, but I think the fans wanted to see that (I didn't). Lastly... I was particularly impressed with two things in the movie... There seemed to be a great attention to detail in this film. One scene, a girl got up at the end of class, and started to leave, when the teacher stopped her and reminded her to remember her rat's tail. The other item I was impressed with was the camera work of the movie. There were quite a few digital effects, but everything worked smoothly and I actually felt like the camera itself was a character in the movie. Well done.
I hope the next (two) movies will re-capture some of the magic. (I've learned they are breaking the last book up into two movies (marketing!?)).
Funny People - ∆∆∆ - This movie had it's moments, but it also had times where it was struggling. The comedy was not always funny (lots of "blue" comedy). I think the best parts were with Seth Rogan, he did a really good job, and I think he has a future in acting with some additional serious roles.
The ending was really tedious and not pleasant to watch. My best advice... rent it on dvd, so you can fast forward during the slow parts.
Julie and Julia - ∆∆∆∆∆ - I know... I'm being generous with that last "star". I think realistically It might be a 4 star, but I came out of the theater in a good mood so that's why the extra bonus. That said... I enjoyed this movie. I thought Meryl Streep was really spot on with her julia child imitation. (though I'm certainly not a Julia child expert). She conveyed a feeling of a jovial personality that really came across on the big screen. Her costar Amy Adams also did well. The guy who played "Eric" also had a great supporting role (Chris Messina - I don't recall ever seeing him before). So obviously it's a chick flick, but I enjoyed it anyway. Just two good stories told well, which is the main reason I go to the movies. Now... I need to find a cookbook so as I can try some french cooking. Mmmm Butter....
District 9 - ∆∆∆∆∆ - Wow. A really good sci-fi movie! I really enjoyed the storyline, the acting was great by an unknown (to me anyway) actor - who made me love him at times and then hate him, and I was being push a pulled emotionally by his character - well done! The effects - wow. For a sci-fi film this one is up there.
500 days of Summer - ∆ - I came this close to walking out on this one. So sweet and sappy... like a double chocolate cake with extra icing sprinkled with sugar with a bottle of syrup to wash it down. Ugh. At one point, I thought... the only reason they made this movie was to sell the movie soundtrack. To be fair... I went to this movie by myself, and it was a chick flick dating movie, so I guess it makes sense I didn't like the show. Oh well.
9/5/09 - Inglorious Basterds - ∆∆∆∆ - Quintin Tarantino... I give him credit at least for having a certain style to his movies. I'm just not sure I like his style is all. After "kill bill" I thought I'd never watch another Tarantino movie again... but with Inglorious Bastereds I decided to give him another try. Luckily I was surprised that I liked the movie overall. I thought it told a story (or stories) well and I was transported back in time to the 1940's. But two things bothered me abt the movie... 1) The soundtrack! For some reason, I just find Tarantino's music choices annoying! Not to mention how loud they are. 2) But more to the point in the movie... For some reason the ending bothered me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I just wasn't ready for it I think. But again, overall, I liked the movie. Fine acting all around too.
9/12/09 - 9 - ∆∆∆ - Perhaps under better circumstances I would have enjoyed this movie better... the theater we usually go to is a fantastic theater. This particular night, they had two odd showtimes (9pm - too early - 11:10pm - too late). So we went to the local mall which had a "multiplex". It's a horrible theater in comparison. higher prices, movie didn't start on time, commercials mixed in with movie previews, and at LEAST 15 minutes of commercials and previews, high concession stand prices (I guess that's normal), uncomfortable seats, and small screens in a long viewing room. So... with that mindset it's difficult to put it all aside and enjoy a movie. ALL that said... the animation and graphics were amazing. High marks for that! But the story was convoluted - it didn't really make sense overall. AND to top it all off... the day before I saw this movie, I leanred that it was based on a 10 minute short movie by Shane Ackerson which was his college film project. I made the mistake of watching the short film on youtube the day before... which was the SAME story just condensed into 10 minutes. So that also kinda ruined it for me, since I knew the ending of the movie.
9/26/09 - The Informant - ∆∆ - Just a really tedious and confusing movie to keep up with. I think there was an interesting story in there somewhere, but this movie did not do it any justice. And, the music or soundtrack really annoyed me as well.
10/3/09 - Zombieland - ∆∆∆ - Keeping in mind that this was a "Zombie" movie, it wasn't bad. There were moments where I laughed, so I give it points for that. Will it earn an Oscar? Not at all! But I was amused for my admission fee and what more can one ask from a Zombie movie.
10/10/09 - Couples Resort - ∆∆∆ - I'm being generous with that third ∆. To be fair, the movie did make me laugh several times in the beginning. I'd go as far to say that I liked the movie about half-way through, but then it just kinda went down hill. The jokes were predictable, the scenes were contrived, and Vince Vaughn just couldn't
carry the entire movie with the story line.
10/17/09 - Law Abiding Citizen - ∆∆∆∆ - I really enjoyed this movie. I liked the storyline especially and the acting was great with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler held his own also. Granted, the plot had a few "Hollywood coincidences" but sometimes you have to put blinders on for those. For what it's worth, I just looked up on the internet how to spell "Gerard Butler" and noticed it looks like the critics are panning this movie. What do they know!
11/7/09 - Men who stare at goats - ∆∆∆ - Overall I liked this movie but it really left me hanging towards the end. I don't know what, but somehow I expected more. Strangely enough, a lot of the "strange" things that the movie talked about, I had already been aware of: Remote viewing, psy ops, lsd, mk-ultra, etc...
11/21/09 - Pirate Radio - ∆∆∆ - Again, this movie barely got that third ∆. Films like these baffle me in the sense that they can gather a cast of so many talented people, but yet the story or directing or editing just falls flat. The editing on this one is what bothered me the most in that it was choppy. Scenes cut back and forth with no smooth transition at all. As my friend put it nicely, "It was like watching a long music video."
The only reason I gave it that extra ∆ was because the ending pulled me back into the movie. They returned to a story-line rather than just showing us a bunch of 'goofy' characters on a boat.
A good soundtrack too.
11/28/09 - The Road - ∆∆∆∆ - A difficult movie for me to rate. While I appreciate a lot of what went into the making of this movie (good story, great acting, fantastic cinematography, great scenery (relatively speaking))... the story was depressing. I'm not a big fan of depressing movies. But because I'm able to see those other items that make for a good film, I'm hitting it with the 4 ∆'s. And... this may shock some people... I had read the book not too long ago. The movie MAY have been ever so slightly better than the book! I won't go into all the in's and out's as to why, but I'll just say that the movie added a few more "human" elements that made the story easier to understand and not so stark. The book left me with feelings of wanting more explanations.
Difficult now for me to say which one.... to watch the movie before reading the book, or vice versa, personally, I think I liked it better having read the book, and knowing a bit of what I was in store for.
12/5/09 - Brothers - ∆∆∆ - Yet another difficult movie for me to rate. I thought the acting was well done all the way around. The talent of Jake, Toby and Natalie is a great combination (Natalie sometimes falls flat, but I thought she did well on this one). A few scenes (key scenes) could have been done better as far as the story goes, but all in all a good movie... BUT - this is another depressing movie about war and the ravages it takes on all people involved. It really bothers me that we have a packed theater with people eating popcorn, date nights, beer bottles (idiots), and generally going to the movies as a form of entertainment, yet these sorts of stories are happening NOW. our country is at war. There are young men coming home from seeing, hearing and doing horrible things in the name of war, and trying to figure out how to survive again in a civilian world. These movies bother me in that sense. I won't say that I will never go to a war movie ever again, as I do think it is important to remind people and to let people know that stories like these are important and tragic. I am both thankful to our soldiers who put their lives on the line everyday and I am also just as angry at our political leaders who make the decisions to put those troops in harms way.
12/26/09 - Up in the Air - N/A - I'm actually not going to rate this movie, because it wouldn't be fair. Perhaps I share the blame too for not being more informed... but... I thought this movie was a comedy! From the trailer, I assumed it was about a guy (George Clooney) who traveled a lot due to his business and the movie was going to be about that. It had co-actors like Zach Galinfinakis (who is a comedian), and Jason Bateman (who is usually known for his funny roles)... but this may have been the most depressing movie I've seen this year (slightly exaggerating, some of the war movies I saw this year were the most depressing). I suppose this movie falls in the category of a "dark comedy" but I just thought it was dark overall. Other people in the audience were laughing at parts that I was not, so perhaps some thought it more of a comedy. So because I was completely misled, I don't feel it's fair for me to give it a one star - instead, I will give the one star to the trailer itself.