Friday, July 25, 2014

Fargo


I hadn't seen this movie in at least fifteen years. I remember seeing it for the first time at The Carolina Theater when I was living in Durham. And I probably saw it on video a few months later.

I remember liking it quite a bit. What's not to like? But I remember not liking it as much as some of the other Coen Bros. films. I think I was probably just being a snob that it was such a popular movie. It was the most popular Coen Bros. movie since Raising Arizona at that point and it was getting Oscar buzz. I think I also found the whole accent thing a bit too precocious. And I'm sure that I also thought something stupid like "Steve Buscemi was so much better as Mr. Pink!" I was a real jerk in my early 20s ...

Over the years, when I have thought about Coen Bros. movies I wanted to revisit, this one wasn't on top of my list. But after becoming obsessed with the TV show, I had to go back and compare notes.

Bottom line - I was somewhat right back in 1996 - this isn't the best Coen Brothers film or anything. But I think I underestimated how good this movie is. There's a reason why it was so popular. It had the flair for the absurd like the best of the Coen Bros. movies up to this point. But it also had a heart that most of the earlier films didn't have. I can't think of anyone close to the Frances McDormand character in any of their previous films. There's an underlying current of loneliness to this film as well that strikes a nerve.

I think the TV show might actually out Coen the Coens in some ways. But they had ten episodes to tell the story. This film is a tight 100 minutes. Not a minute is wasted. Every line is perfect. Every performance is spot on. Revisiting the movie made me appreciate both the show and the movie even more.

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
1996
Netflix

Thursday, July 24, 2014

22 Jump Street

21 Jump Street snuck up on me. It was so much better than I thought it would be. This one was bound to be a little bit of a letdown.

Still, I was hopeful. Amy and I went to go see it the night before our mom died. It was the first time in almost two weeks I had allowed myself to leave the hospice or ICU for a reason other than to eat, sleep, or run an errand. We saw a 10:30 pm showing in Rockville. We had a choice between eating dinner or going to see the movie. We chose the movie.

We enjoyed it. Definitely. In particular, I liked all the fake sequels bit at the end. Perhaps I just wasn't in the right head space to really enjoy it. Or maybe I should have eaten dinner. There were definitely many amusing moments and a couple times I laughed out loud. But it definitely didn't capture the magic of the first one for me.

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
2014
Rockville 13

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Highjacking


This Danish film is a perfect counterbalance to Captain Phillips. That film is pretty good but this one is better. Maybe it is because I didn't have to listen to Tom Hank's New England accent? Maybe it is because I preferred the quieter tone to this film and the focus on the negotiations. Or maybe it is as simple as the Danish make better Somali pirate movies?

Whatever the reason, if you are going to see only one Somali pirate movie from 2013, make it this one!

Directed by Tobias Lindholm
2013
Netflix

Monday, July 21, 2014

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

In 2005, I wrote, "This film is so much fun. Tim Burton doesn’t try to recreate the Gene Wilder film. Instead, he chose to be more faithful to the book. The Oompa-Loompas are great, the colors are perfect, and Johnny Depp manages to capture the essence of the character from the book instead of trying to recreate Wilder's portrayal. It has been years since I've read the book, but there were times during the movie that I felt like I was eight years-old tucked into bed and reading it. The glass elevator stuff was always my favorite stuff from the book and the movie captures the wonder, magic, and bizarreness of it all."

I still prefer the 1971 adaptation to this version but this one is definitely worthwhile. The boys enjoyed both. It was interesting listening to them pointing out differences between the two adaptations. They also learned a lot about how some people are poor like Charlie's family and some are spoiled effing brats like Veruca Salt. They got it more with this adaptation. They still are quite literal and ask really funny questions like "How come the squirrels and Oompa-Loompas don't fight each other?"

We took the book out of the library and are about 2/3 of the way through. The boys are loving it and remember a lot of the little details from both movies. The Wonka in the book isn't quite as creepy as Depp plays him.  He's kind of a scary Jack White manchild. Otis asked why Willy Wonka's skin is so white and not peach?

Then again, Wilder's portrayal was a bit menacing as well. I guess Willy Wonka is just a messed up dude. Just like Roald Dahl himself.

Directed by Tim Burton
2005
HBO Go

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Colorful with a chance of mediocrity. BAM! I nailed it.

This wasn't bad but it was kind of boring. Lord and Miller definitely picked up their game for their next two releases - 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie.

It just seems next to impossible to really adapt this book into a good movie.

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
2009
Blu-ray

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Our Nixon

I love Nixon. The man is amazing. This documentary is a great addition to all of the Nixon canon.

It blends television broadcasts from the time, interviews, secret White House recordings, and recently unearthed "home movies" taken by White House staffers into one entertaining brew.

I would have gladly watched another three hours of this - the brisk 85 minute run time goes by too quickly. More, please.

Directed by Penny Lane
2013
Netflix

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Campaign

This is the kind of movie that I would have definitely have seen in the theater before I had kids. I would have persuaded to see Marc to go see it at a Court St. matinee or something. These days, that's not the way it works. Instead, Marc and Jim watch it on cable and then tell me a number of times over the course of a year that this movie is funny. And then I finally watch it.

And funny it is. Ferrell and Galifinakis are always good. And the premise is a tough one to mess up - just look at the poster! This should become an election year staple for everyone. Huzzah!

Directed by Jay Roach
2012
HBO Go

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fearless

I had only seen this once - back in the glorious early 90s heyday of Grafton-Stovall Theatre. I remembered a few things about it from then -- that car crash scene, Rosie Perez being annoying, Jeff Bridges' luminous hair, and that it kind of dragged.

I remembered all four things correctly. But I forgot that John Turturro and Isabella Rosellini are also in it. I also had forgotten most of the rest including most of the plane crash scene.

The movie is good but not great. Looks like I have somewhat similar tastes to what I had when I was 21. At least in regards to movies in the plane crash genre.

Directed by Peter Weir
1993
HBO Go

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blackfish

Seaworld, man. Seaworld.

This movie is a great mix of scary archival footage and illuminating interviews.

Crazy stuff.

Directed by Gabriela Goperthwaite
2013
Netflix

Friday, July 11, 2014

Undefeated

There's not really much to say about this movie other than it's really good. It hits all the right notes without being overly sentimental. It even adds a few twists, turns, and unexpected surprises - some right out of the gate.

SPOILER ALERT:

The title of the movie is a lie, lie, lie!

It is hard to believe that this coach even exists in real life though - he seems like a Hollywood construct. I'm surprised Disney hasn't already adapted this for a Remember the Titans type release. Maybe it's in development?

Directed by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin
2012
Netflix