Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where the Lying Capitalist Wild Box Things Happen - March 30th

I actually meant to post this last night, but completely forgot. This week's* batch was not quite as good as last week, but it could lead you to read some better books.

*some of these were watched earlier in the month, but I forgot to review them.

The Invention of Lying - (1 Star) - Ricky Gervais co-writes, co-directs, and stars in a movie about a place where lying has not been discovered. It's surprising how unfunny it is when people only tell the truth (and apparently whatever is in their mind at the time). Even with a very good supporting cast, this movie is just disappointing. (Netflix) (99 minutes - Rated PG-13 for Language including some sexual material and a drug reference - 2009)

Love Happens - (3  Stars) - Aaron Eckhart shines as a self-help guru who doesn't seem to take his own advice about coping with loss. Quirky, but a bit slow paced at times. Not by any means a great movie, but one that was better than expected.(Netflix) (109 minutes - Rated PG-13 for Some language including sexual references - 2009)

The Box - (2 1/2 Stars) - A morality tale of sorts that revolves around a couples' choice of whether or not to push a button that will grant them $1M dollars, but kill a person that they do not know. The movie has a creepy, foreboding atmosphere to it that fizzles as the movie drags on and meanders to its convoluted ending. The movie complicates a wonderfully simplistic short story (Button, Button) by Richard Matheson.(Netflix) (115 minutes - Rated PG-13 for Thematic elements, some violence and disturbing images - 2009)

Where The Wild Things Are - (3 Stars) - Based on the picture book by Maurice Sendak, the movie is spot on when it comes to the feel of the story. Everything visually about this movie is fantastic, however there really isn't enough substance in the source material to warrant a full length movie. Most kids will probably find it boring, as will a lot of adults.(Netflix) (94 minutes - Rated PG for Mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language - 2009)

Capitalism: A Love Story - (2 Stars) - The biggest problem with this movie is simply that Michael Moore is not that likable of a person. The movie brings up some interesting/unsettling information, but because of Moore's gimmicky delivery, you are left questioning the authenticity of it. Moore should take a page out of the affable Morgan Spurlock's book.(Netflix) (127 minutes - Rated R for Some language - 2009)

Movies For This Week:
Law Abiding Citizen
The Brothers Bloom
Doctor Zhivago

Monday, March 22, 2010

...All the rest - March 22

The Time Traveler's Wife - (3 Stars) -  A librarian (Eric Bana) inexplicably time travels, much to the chagrin of his lover (Rachel McAdams). A surprisingly charming movie as long as you don't give yourself a headache over-thinking the time travel mechanics involved and focus more on the character story. (Netflix) (107 Minutes - Rated PG-13 for Thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity and sexuality - 2009)

The Boys Are Back - (4 Stars) - A great performance by Clive Owen as a man who must raise his young son by himself after the untimely passing of his wife. A very good movie with fantastic cinematography (filmed in Australia).(Netflix) (104 Minutes - Rated PG-13 for Some sexual language and thematic elements - 2009)

Fido - (4 1/2 Stars) - The classic story of a boy and his dog -- if in fact that dog is actually a zombie. The movie is full of great tongue-in-cheek zombie humor. It bends some of the 'zombie rules,' but never in a way that damages the story.(Netflix) (92 Minutes - Rated R for Zombie-related violence - 2006)

Funny People - (4 Stars) - A comedian (Adam Sandler) who is diagnosed with a terminal disease hires a younger, struggling comedian (Seth Rogen) to be his assistant and sets about making things right in his life. Judd Apatow delivers another drama/comedy about the important things in life. A warning, despite it's redeeming qualities, some may find it too vulgar for their tastes.(Netflix) (146 minutes - Rated R for Language and crude sexual humor throughout and sexuality - 2009)

Marley & Me - (4 1/2 Stars) - Genuinely funny and an all around enjoyable movie, especially for those who have ever owned a dog, but definitely not limited to those that have. Even through all of its zaniness, it never seems cheesy or contrived.(Netflix) (110 minutes - Rated PG for Thematic material, some suggestive content and language - 2008)

(500) Days of Summer - (4 Stars) - As the movie states, "this is a story about boy meets girl...not a love story." Great performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel highlight this unique, quirky movie. The movie really shines in its presentation and in all of the little details throughout.(Netflix) (95 minutes - Rated PG-13 for Sexual material and language - 2009)

The Informant! - (4 Stars) - Matt Damon gives a fantastic performance in this dramatized version of the true events surrounding the highest ranking whistle-blower in American business history. A very well-written movie that is both funny and intriguing. Along the same lines as "Shattered Glass," although quite a bit 'goofier.' (Netflix) (108 minutes - Rated R for Language - 2009)

Movies for this week (subject to change due to time/lapse in interest):
Where The Wild Things Are
Capitalism: A Love Story
New York, I Love You

New Format for Reviews

Finding myself watching movies and not keeping up on full-scale reviews, I decided that maybe a change is in order. I have enjoyed writing reviews, but finding the time for full reviews has been difficult. So, I have decided to review every movie I watch, including movies that may be older, but in a shorter, twitter-like format. I will also select some movies to write an expanded review as I see fit. Some movies only need a few lines to get the point across whereas others are serviced better by a complete review. I will post my previous week's watchings on Mondays, starting today. I hope this will make the reviews a quick way for people to decide whether or not to watch.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Academy Award Picks

Time for my Oscar picks. I’ve put most of the ballot here, with my choices in bold:

Best Motion Picture of the Year:

Avatar (2009): James Cameron, Jon Landau
The Blind Side (2009): Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson
District 9 (2009): Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham
An Education (2009): Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey
The Hurt Locker (2008): Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro
Inglourious Basterds (2009): Lawrence Bender
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness, Gary Magness
A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Up (2009): Jonas Rivera
Up in the Air (2009/I): Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:

Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart (2009)
George Clooney for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Colin Firth for A Single Man (2009)
Morgan Freeman for Invictus (2009)
Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker (2008)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:

Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side (2009)
Helen Mirren for The Last Station (2009)
Carey Mulligan for An Education (2009)
Gabourey Sidibe for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia (2009)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:

Matt Damon for Invictus (2009)
Woody Harrelson for The Messenger (2009/I)
Christopher Plummer for The Last Station (2009)
Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones (2009)
Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:

Penélope Cruz for Nine (2009)
Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart (2009)
Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Mo'Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)

Best Achievement in Directing:

Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2008)
James Cameron for Avatar (2009)
Lee Daniels for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
Jason Reitman for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen:

The Hurt Locker (2008): Mark Boal
Inglourious Basterds (2009): Quentin Tarantino
The Messenger (2009/I): Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman
A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Up (2009): Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published:

District 9 (2009): Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
An Education (2009): Nick Hornby
In the Loop (2009): Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Geoffrey Fletcher
Up in the Air (2009/I): Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner

Best Achievement in Cinematography:

Avatar (2009): Mauro Fiore
Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (2009): Christian Berger
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009): Bruno Delbonnel
The Hurt Locker (2008): Barry Ackroyd
Inglourious Basterds (2009): Robert Richardson

Best Achievement in Art Direction:

Avatar (2009): Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim Sinclair
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009): David Warren, Anastasia Masaro, Caroline Smith
Nine (2009): John Myhre, Gordon Sim
Sherlock Holmes (2009): Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
The Young Victoria (2009): Patrice Vermette, Maggie Gray

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score:

Avatar (2009): James Horner
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): Alexandre Desplat
The Hurt Locker (2008): Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders
Sherlock Holmes (2009): Hans Zimmer
Up (2009): Michael Giacchino

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song:

Crazy Heart (2009): T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham("The Weary Kind")
Faubourg 36 (2008): Reinhardt Wagner, Frank Thomas("Loin de Paname")
Nine (2009): Maury Yeston("Take It All")
The Princess and the Frog (2009): Randy Newman("Almost There")
The Princess and the Frog (2009): Randy Newman("Down in New Orleans")

Best Achievement in Visual Effects:

Avatar (2009): Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andy Jones
District 9 (2009): Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros, Matt Aitken
Star Trek (2009): Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh, Burt Dalton

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year:

Coraline (2009): Henry Selick
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): Wes Anderson
The Princess and the Frog (2009): John Musker, Ron Clements
The Secret of Kells (2009): Tomm Moore
Up (2009): Pete Docter

I have by no means seen all of these movies, but I feel based on previous awards this season, as well as the history of Academy Award winners, that these picks are solid. There is one pick that I am 100% sure about, and if this person does not win, the Academy Awards will lose credibility with me:

Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor (Inglourious Basterds)