Saturday, January 01, 2011

Media of 2010 - Movies (in the theater)

1/2/10 - Sherlock Holmes - ★★★★ - A fun and entertaining movie. I will admit though I struggled at times with keeping up with the story and dialogue - it was VERY fast, and then with the English accents I missed some of the words as well. I wanted them to slow things down a little so I could take in more of what was happening. I'd be willing to bet the high speed action of it all was the fingerprint of director Guy Ritchie. I was not familiar with the story-line, so that was nice for me as well. I had read the "Hounds of Baskerville".
All in all, a fun ride.

1/9/10 - Avatar - ★★★★ - Yes, I'm a bit surprised myself that I'm giving it a 4 ★ rating. I think I had something going in my favor though upon going into this event... I knew that the storyline stunk. From all the things I saw on the web, I knew that was one of the biggest complaints over the movie. And I'd have to agree. But... I think the graphics of it all more than made up for it, and I just enjoyed being transported to another world. Yes, my friend and I saw it in 3d as well. I think in hindsight I'm kinda glad I did, but I think in the future I might just choose to forego the 3d effect. I find it too distracting actually. But there as my friend pointed out, of all the movies to see in 3d, this was the one.

1/17/10 - The Book of Eli - ★★★★★ - a rare 5★ rating. Denzel does not disappoint. I was also impressed (again) with Mila Kunis, I think she may have some real talent as an actress, perhaps just needs a bit more polish until we see her in a really great role. And of course Gary Oldman plays yet another great bad guy. The filming and cinematography on this movie was really well done as well. As was the soundtrack. The storyline was unusual, and entertaining and thought provoking. The whole package for me, to make for a really good movie.

1/23/10 - Legion - ★ - Yep, the critics were right on this one. A confusing story-line. Supposedly about the apocalypse, but I suspect the writer had never read the Bible. I would love to understand how semi-big name actors get rolls like this. Is there some sort of contract agreement? I don't get it.

2/13/10 - The Wolfman - ★★★ - So, I realize this was basically a bad movie... but I actually kinda enjoyed it. I think about half-way through the movie I realized I was watching a modernized B-Movie, and then once I accepted that, it was enjoyable. Were there holes in the plot? you bet. Was the acting forced and kinda lame at times? Yep (though some of the acting was pretty good). Was the editing poorly done? Absolutely (my biggest complaint). Was the "background" music IN-YOUR-FACE? YES! But there were some aspects (mostly visual) that just made it a good b-movie horror flick.

2/20/10 - Shutter Island - ★★★★ - almost a 5 start movie for me. I only took off one star, because I did get lost in the story once or twice, trying to figure out who all the characters were. But all in all, I really enjoyed this movie. The one scene with the water glass I will have to watch again on dvd to figure out what that was all about.
What a movie should be... good story, good acting, and nice cinematography.

3/6/10 - Cop Out - ★★★ - I'm being generous with that last ★, but I'm giving it because a few times in the movie I did giggle, and perhaps a laugh or two. Any movie that can do that gets points in my book. That said... the plot was mediocre, the acting was bleh, and Tracy Morgan, while funny at times spent most all his time on screen yelling. Even "Stiffler" (Sean William Scott) was funny but his character was so jumbled I spent all my time trying to figure him out. The other curious thing in this movie was the odd 80's soundtrack or background music. It was like they took the music right from "Beverly Hill's Cop". Good for a few laughs but a pass unless there's nothing else to rent.

3/13/10 - Alice in Wonderland - ★★★ - This movie was just middle of the road for me. While the visuals were fantastic, the story was just kinda all over the place. And... perhaps this is a big factor... we saw it in "2D" instead of "3D", and it was blatantly obvious that there were quite a few scenes that were specifically designed to be viewed in 3D (For example the falling down the rabbit hole). That just kinda turned me off a little. Rather than depend on all the things that are important to the making of a good movie, it's a sort of cheap tactic to depend on the delivery or graphics. The sign of a good graphics based movie is when it's seamlessly woven into the movie. Depp was Depp. Burton was Burton. But I really have to tip my hat to Mia Wasikowska, she did a good job. But overall the movie just was missing something to draw me in.

3/20/10 - Green Zone - ★★★★ - a strong and powerful movie about a difficult subject matter (war). Matt Damon was fantastic, along with a really well done plot. It was a deep storyline without being over complicated. The only reason I didn't give it the full 5 ★'s is due to the filming style - the dreaded shaky camera effect. I understand the reason for it, and it did give a feeling of being in the middle of it all and the chaos involved, but at times it was difficult to watch. The political message did not shy away from having a strong opinion, and while I appreciate it, I suspect people on the other side of the aisle would come away from the movie thinking it was just more "Hollywood propaganda". Which is a real shame if people feel that way, because the underlining message (There were no WMD's) is a real and powerful message. A multi-national war is being fought, in part, due to faulty or perhaps intentionally misleading facts - and no one seems to care.

3/27/10 - Repo Men - ★★ - I won't spend a lot of time on this one. While my brain tells me it was a bad movie - it was... I kinda enjoyed it. There were parts that reminded me of Blade Runner. If it were not for the acting of Jude and Forest, I think this might have gone straight to dvd. But I'm trying not to be too too harsh, since after-all it is a sci-fi film.

4/3/10 - How To Train Your Dragon - ★★★★★ - A rare 5★ for me. I almost took a point off because the storyline was a tad thin and predictable, but I reminded myself that it was a kid's movie. But, for me the animation was fantastic. The details and textures were amazing. I did see if in 3D, but that doesn't really impress me, the animation and 3D models did. The only other negative comment for me was the lead characters voice reminded me so much of Christian Slater, and his voice annoys me. (Jay Baruchel was the voice incase you were interested). I just enjoyed the visuals and yes the storyline too - even though it was for kids.

4/10/10 - Date Night - ★★★ - I'm a few days late in writing this so details are fuzzy. But I just remember laughing a couple times, smiling a few more times, that is an automatic ★★★. Will it win awards? No. But was I entertained for an evening? yep. I do remember some moments were awkward though, and some lines were obviously dubbed in, which really bothered me.

4/17/10 - Kick Ass - ★★ - While there were parts of this movie that I did like, there were parts that I found a bit too disturbing to actually say that I liked the movie overall. I felt like the film kept tearing me from a 'nerdy comic book teen comedy' to a 'Kill Bill" Quentin Tarantino movie. Perhaps if I knew ahead of time that this was going to be a darker movie, I would have been more prepared, but I was uncomfortable. IF the film-makers did this intentionally then it was brilliant of them, and a good social commentary about "violence in films". But I think I may be reading too much into it, and it was just a disjointed movie that had goofy moments mixed with dark violent ones.
The BEST PART of the movie though for me... one of the background songs was a punk rock version of the "Banana Splits" (performed by "The Dickies").

4/24/10 - Exit through the gift shop - ★★★★★ - So glad I got to see this movie in the theater. disclaimer: I'm a big fan of street art. So guess what this documentary is about... yep- Street Art. But it was more than just a movie about the underground art movement. It was also a character study of not only a handful of street artists (Shepard Fairy, Banksy) but more about a person that I had not heard of before (Not surprising, I don't claim to be an expert and know ALL the street artists out there). He goes by "MBW or Mister Brain Wash" aka: Thierry Guetta. What I also enjoyed about this movie, was the way it made you think about art. The age old question "What is art". Which then also begs the follow-up question... "Who is an artist?". And lastly, I enjoyed the comedy scattered through-out the movie. It was mostly subtle or tongue in cheek sort, and I found it interesting that the small theater that we saw it in... it was like the audience was not sure if they should laugh or not. (I did).
I highly recommend this movie if you like art, and want to be confronted with food for thought.
PS> I'm still struggling with this... is Thierry an idiot or a genius? :)
PS2> While there was not a lot of camera time dedicated to Thierry's "Art", there were some paintings that I did enjoy and like. I don't doubt that there is talent there, I only question if it's developed or not.
Sorry one more PS> It was really cool to also see original "Street" art outside of the theater done by Ellis G. (he does chalk outlines of shadows on city streets).

5/1/10 - The Losers - ★★ - While there were moments in this movie that were cool, for the most part it was just another cheap action movie. I tried not to be too hard on it - after-all it is a comic book movie, but still. Perhaps a rental when nothing else strikes you, but just don't expect a whole lot.

5/8/10 - Iron Man 2 - ★★★★★ - I just really enjoyed this movie. Sure it's a comic book action film, but I still enjoyed it a lot. My only complaint... (as with the first movie)... these high-tech half-robots with massive weapon systems, and it always comes down to a fist fight. Minor point for a comic book movie. Also, I wasn't sure that Scarlet Johannsen would be able to pull off a "tough girl" action hero role... uh, she did with no problem. I hope she gets her own film out of this. Lastly... DAFT PUNK!!!

5/14/10 - Män som hatar kvinnor - ★★★ - Also known as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". A film made in Denmark, with English subtitles, that's about 2:30 hours long... whew, this was a difficult movie to get through. And in spite of it being a REALLY long and drawn out movie, I actually liked it when all was said and done. I certainly wouldn't recommend this to just anyone, but if you want something off the beaten trail, and are willing to work through a complicated plot with a ton of foreign names to follow, then by all means, this is the film for you. I should warn though (minor spoiler alert...) There were a couple scenes that dealt with rape, and the filming of it held nothing back. It was very brutal and difficult to watch. If you're sensitive to this, then by all means skip this film.

5/21/10 - Harry Brown - ★★★★ - Perhaps I'm being a bit generous with the last ★. All in all, I liked this movie, but I did feel like it lacked something. I kept waiting for something more to happen, but it didn't. I do have one complaint in that it was a very slow moving film. While I was able to take that extra time and appreciate some of the cinematography (for example the shot of Michael Cain putting his shoes on, while filmed from under the bed, was nice). A word of caution too... the movie was rather harsh at exposing the underside or dark-side of humanity. The language was horrible, the drug use and abuse of that one woman was difficult to watch, This may not sit well with other viewers. While I understood it from the story point of view, it did bother me. I tip my hat though to Michael as always a great performance.

6/5/10 - Robin hood - ★★★ - I'm writing this review a week late so I'll keep it short. I'm a BIG fan of knight movies, but this film just never seemed to take off. MY biggest complaint was that it was 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is entirely too long. It did have some good moments, but overall, It just left me with a "meh" moment.

7/3/10- Knight and Day - ★★★ - A spoof style movie with Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise. Making fun at times of 007 and all other spy genre action movies. While not to be taken seriously, I was entertained and laughed at a few of the lines. It started to get a bit tedious towards the end, but all in all entertained. (side note: Some of the camera shots of Cameron were rather unflattering as it showed that she may have a bit of age showing, and perhaps a bit too much make-up to cover up those marks of age.)

7/17/10 - Inception - ★★★★ - I'm a week late in writing this mini-review so details will be few... Upon leaving the theater, I told my friend, I did not like this movie so much. I though it was too jumbled. At one point, I likened it to watching television with someone who has the remote, and keeps changing the channels on you every three seconds. At one point, it felt like it was literally three different movies going on all at the same time. The "suspense" was driven to such a frenzy (helped along by the intense soundtrack) that it was a bit too much for me. But then... my friend and I started talking about the film (which by the way, he liked). We started to get into some of the deeper philosophical points and even some of the psychological points (which that I enjoyed), and I started to realize... hey, this was a pretty good movie. So, with bit of hesitation, I changed what was more of a ★★ movie for me, into a ★★★★. Just be prepared for 1) confusion and 2) intense action and suspense. If you're prepared, perhaps you'll enjoy the ride a little more.

7/31/10 - Dinner with schmucks - ★★★ - Well, during this movie, I stopped for a minute or so and was trying to think, what was the stupidest movie I've ever seen. And I couldn't really come up with a list, perhaps I blocked those movies out, or just deleted them from my memory banks. But... this movie I'm sure would rank well up in the top 5 or top 10. The only reason I'm giving it 3★'s is because I will admit that some parts did make me laugh. (I enjoyed the 'play dead' scenes).

8/7/10 - The other guys - ★★★★ - A good comedy pair of Will and Mark. Some parts I thought were really funny, other parts kinda brought the movie down to crawl, but all in all, I was entertained and laughed. If you see it in the theater or rent it, make sure to watch until the end of the credits for a small bonus scene.

8/14/10 - Get Low - ★★★★★ - A solid five star movie for me. (there was one complaint in that it was a slow paced movie and at times a bit too slow, and a couple bad edits, but all of the rest made up for those shortcomings). I'll just say this... Fantastic story and fantastic acting all around. Duvall was amazing as always. Lucas Black has got real talent, I HOPE to see him if good roles like this one more often. Sissy Spacek, again good. Bill Murry, yep... awesome. I wanted to add one other thing here... there was some fantastic lines in this movie that was really deep in some philosophical wisdom. A sign of some great writers behind the story (Chris Provenzano & Scott Seeke). And David Boyd should be commended for some really nice cinematography as well.

8/21/10 - Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - ★★★ - This one is a strange one. While there were things I liked in this movie, there were parts I didn't. The music was great! (very raw punk). The effects were well done too. I really give it credit because it was a creative film as well. But... perhaps where I can't compliment this movie is on the storyline. It just felt stale compared to everything else I was watching. Story is important to me, so I guess that's why I'm being critical.

8/28/10 - Animal Kingdom - ★★★★ - A foreign film from Australia that caught my eye from the trailer. I also was curious to see this because it won some award(s) at Sundance. A very dark movie (not literally), but it showed how some families can just really be messed up, and it doesn't take that much in life for things to turn sour. I did actually have some trouble with the thick Aussie accents, but not enough to detract from the movie overall.

9/4/10 - The American - ★★★ - I'm usually generous when giving an extra ★, but this time, I'm going to stick with my 3★'s. First, it was a good movie. The story was interesting, not overly complicated, but kept you guessing throughout. But, it was a very slow paced film. In my opinion it was too slow. On the plus side, the scenery of the Italian countryside was really nice! The little town that he visited "castel del monte" (assuming it was actually shot there) looked like an amazing place to visit. Perhaps a note of warning too... there was a lot of nudity in this movie.

9/18/10 - The Town - ★★★★ - Very impressed with Ben Affleck's film here. The acting was good all the way around, the story was interesting, and it moved at a good pace.

9/25/10 - Catfish - ★★★ - This is a difficult one for me to judge... I feel like the trailer of the film tricked me. With quotes like "The Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made" - I don't think it had anything to do with a Hitchcock movie. They portrayed it like it might be some sort of horror movie or at the very least a murder mystery - It was not. I don't want to say too much, because yes... it was a mystery in a sense, and I think had I not been waiting for some sort of gruesome twist, I would have enjoyed the film a lot more. I will say, I thought the storyline was interesting, the way they used things like "google maps" and "google earth" in the movie (more than a few times), was creative. But I can't help but to wonder how much of this was actually a "documentary" and how much was staged... the fact that JJ Abrams was attached to this movie leaves me suspicious - which I guess is what still makes for a mystery.
(side note: The theater that we usually go to, installed a new "digital projector" and this was the first movie we saw on it... I liked it. The colors were bright, and the lines seemed crisper, I look forward to seeing other digital movies this way and I'm curious to see how it compares with other movies).

10/2/10 - Let me in - ★★★★ - using the "relative" rating for a horror movie here. I had seen the original Swedish version of this movie on dvd (thanks netflix) called "Let the right one in". While the movie did make several changes (mostly to time period, and settings, such as Video arcades), it did stick to the original movie closely. As far as overall feel, I think the Swedish version was a bit creepier, whereas the American version depended a bit more on over-the-top visual effects. But all in all, I enjoyed this movie, perhaps even more than the Swedish version - maybe because I was not reading subtitles the whole time.

10/9/10 - The Social Network - ★★★ - Maybe I went in to this movie believing the hype, but for some reason I was disappointed. I had heard how great this movie was (Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 97%), and a lot of my twitter folks were talking about it as well. While I wouldn't say it was a bad movie, I just expected a little more. Instead it was basically a good story (though I'm not sure what truth was stretched to make for a good movie) - but that's about it. The dialogue was VERY fast, which left little time for something called "acting". Zuckerberg's character, (played by Jesse Eisenberg) was a rather monotone character. I think my biggest surprise was watching Justin Timberlake, who did a pretty good job (although was it really much of a stretch for him to play a rock-star like character?). One other comment... I became very aware at how the women were portrayed in this film... and it wasn't very flattering. Most of them were portrayed as slutty party girls, and hardly any of the women had any significant speaking roles. There was a couple exceptions (the lawyer who took a certain amount of pity on Zuckerberg, and one bit with Zuckerberg's girlfriend, but even that she was "just the angry girlfriend").

10/16/10 - It's kind of a funny story - ★★★★★ - (another review that I'm behind writing on (3 weeks!) so I'll keep it short...)
We took a gamble on this one. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The trailer made it look like it might be a teen romance movie (which in a way it was), but it was also much more than that. It was well written and well acted. (note: I am a fan of Zach Galinifakis, so that helped). Really enjoyed this one, and could be the highlight of 2010 movies for me.

10/23/10 - Hereafter - ★★ - Sorry, this one just didn't cut it for me. A confusing message (it tried very hard to stay away from any sort of religious message to a fault). Lots and lots of "Hollywood coincidences" that became unbelievable. Acting was ok by Matt Damon though, but still a bit flat. Strange cast (Jay Mohr as Damon's brother?) I usually like Clint Eastwood films, but this one... not so much. (note: it wasn't played up, but Steven Speilberg also had his hand in this movie... that did not surprise me... I think Steven is suffering from the M. Night syndrome).

11/6/10 - Due Date - ★★★ - Just couldn't quite bring myself to give it a 2 ★★ rating, but it was close. While I like all the actors involved, this movie was borderline tedious. Sure, there were some funny moments, and overall I was entertained, but in general the laughs were few. I should note… there was one woman in the audience who laughed (loudly) throughout the entire movie, so I know some people really thought it was funny. As my friend pointed out… Zach Galinafakis is starting to play the same role over and over again.

11/20/10 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (Part 1) - ★★★★ - Overall I enjoyed this film. I was surprised how much of the story I have forgotten so there were quite a few parts to the movie that left me confused as to what was happening. I should have either rented the previous movie(s), or re-read the book. I can't fault the movie for that point though. I had trouble at times with the dialogue. I'm not sure if it was that I wasn't hearing the words very well or that the English accents were a bit thick. (Yes, I'm aware that those two complaints make me sound like an old man!). I VERY much enjoyed the cinematography. I like a lot of the atmosphere shots, and a lot of the blue or cool tints. This is a strange point, I'll admit: While the movie had a lot of magic and effects in it, I felt like the experience seemed a bit less magical. Perhaps because there seemed to be less fantastical creature or plants, or even characters at this stage.
But again, all in all, I enjoyed the story, the acting, the effects, and I'll definitely be back for the final installment.

12/11/10 - Black Swan - ★★★ - To be honest, I'm still not 100% sure I'd give this movie the 3★ rating or not. Yes, the acting was very well done. Natalie may even get an oscar for this one. But the story left me feeling a little lost and somehow cheated. I'm not sure how, but i was both confused during the telling of the story, and yet I also felt the storyline was a bit predictable. While I knew the movie dealt with the ballet as a topic, I was not aware that the entire movie was about the ballet. I don't know, maybe that 3★ rating is right down the middle for me and is accurate as to how I feel about it.

12/19/10 - Tron - Legacy - ★★ - I really tried to like this movie. First the positives… The visuals (aka effects) were VERY well done. The sounds also was very well done (lots of attention to detail and subtle uses of effects to make it seem other-worldly). I also enjoyed the soundtrack by Daft Punk (note: I bought the soundtrack, and taken outside of the movie, I did not enjoy the soundtrack as much). Now the negative… the acting was sub-par. I liked Jeff Bridges parts, but even those were a bit one dimensional. Garrett Hedlund, who played the main character, was just borderline too. But most of all, I didn't like the storyline. Maybe if i recently re-watched the original Tron, some of it would have been clearer (netflix does not have the original Tron -why?!). Lastly, the graphics/effects of the digital "Jeff Bridges" (character name Clu) Was nice, but still looked totally fake. It really diminished the movie for me.

12/24/10 - Tangled - ★★★★ - A last minute decision to go see Disney's Tangled in the theater… and I'm glad I went. Of course I rationalized this to myself that I really wanted to go to view the 3d animation, but I'll be honest… I had a good time watching the movie. I won't critique the story, after all it is a kids movie. I absolutely loved the animation though. They made some real progress with computer graphics, and this movie showcased that. Of note: The character design, the hands, needless to say - the hair was amazing, the water, and perhaps most enjoyable - the vibrant colors and lighting. A good movie to end the year on.

Total = 38

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