Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Kids are All Right

I was entertained by this while I watched it. I liked the premise. Annette Bening was great. SHR commented that she had the perfect Park Slope lesbian look. Mark Ruffalo was fantastic as well. I also really like the daughter played by Mia Wasikowska who was also great in In Treatment.

But the more I think about it, I'm not sure how much I liked this film. First off, it is shot in a really boring TV movie of the Week style for a lot of it. And some of the plot developments are so obvious and so not necessary. I think I would have preferred some of the issues raised by being reunited with one's sperm donor be further explored without it turning into a soap opera.

But I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I thought that the previous Lisa Cholodenko film I saw (Laurel Canyon) was a shallow film as well.

Three other thoughts:
1. Between this and Please Give, I think that I hate rich white people this year.

2. This is nowhere as good as The Kids Are Alright.


And last but not least, Mark Ruffalo's character got screwed.

Directed by Lisa Cholodenko

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Square

I really liked this movie but I guess that isn't that much of a surprise. I love almost anything noir related except for dumb movies.

This reminded me a bit of Blood Simple, a little of last year's excellent Austrian film Revanche, and also a bit of the story line about Leo and Shelly from Twin Peaks. And of course there is the whole story line of greed, love, and unrealistic hopes all converging to destroy you. And it is all set in a small Australian town that is actually kind of intrigued by all the excitement - house fires, accidental deaths, and missing people.

The characters are well-written and three dimensional. You can actually understand why they do most of the things they do.

And there's a dog love story! Unfortunately, since it's a noir, that doesn't work out too well either.

Directed by Nash Edgerton
2008, Year of U.S. Release: 2010

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Illusionist

I've only seen one Jacques Tati film and it was years ago. I remember not knowing what to make of it and it seemed so very French. This film, based on a Tati screenplay, makes me want to at least make sure to give Mon Oncle a chance. In fact, there's even a clip from that film used to great comedic effect in this one.

I liked a lot of this movie. It is quiet, understated, and charming. It looks fantastic. I loved the Tati character and also the fey rock band that prances around in many scenes. But I didn't like it as much as The Triplets of Belleville. But that isn't necessarily the fairest comparison to make since that film is one of the best animated films in recent memory.

Perhaps, I wanted a bit more craziness from this or perhaps I was just a bit tired. And as SHR pointed out - the girl was kind of annoying. Plus it was hard to tell exactly what was going on with her and how old she was.

In theme, it kind of reminded me of the Chaplin film I had just seen the day before - a young girl being taken under the wing of a fading old entertainer.

Directed by Sylvain Chomet
Sunshine Cinemas

Monday, January 10, 2011


In this late era Chaplin film, he plays a washed up comedian in 1914 London who befriends a young suicidal ballerina and nurses her back to health back physically and emotionally.

Much of the film is clearly autobiographical. Just like his character in the film (the Great Calvero) Chaplin's comedy was a relic of the past. But Chaplin gets to have it both ways in the film. He gets to make a serious film about aging and being discarded by an unsophisticated modern audience while at the same time getting to film a number of scenes reminiscent of his classic work. There are a number sequences in the film that play off of his old silent comedies. It's a nice touch.

And Buster Keaton is in it! He plays Calvero's assistant. As far as I know, it was the only time, the two appeared in a film together.

Despite being a little too long, the film is a nice mix of the classic Chaplin hallmarks of comic poignancy and a more modern sensibility. Still, if you are looking to see a late era Chaplin, make sure to start with the better Monsier Verdoux instead.

Directed by Charlie Chaplin

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Toy Story 2

I loved the first movie but it was the sequel that made me realize that these films were modern classics. However, apparently in 1999, I didn't like this movie as much as I liked Go (this came in number 8 for the year - right behind the Katie Holmes vehicle). But I suppose it's not really fair to hold the father of twins Listmaker accountable for the young man of yesteryear, is it?

The first one was clever of course. But the sequel ramped up the existentialism and somehow improved on the formula. The boys didn't seem to love this one as much as they did the first but I'll give them time - they aren't even two yet! Although to be fair, they did get off the couch at one point, stand in front of the TV, and repeatedly call out Buzz, Woody, and wow!

The first one definitely had a more simple plot and a bigger whizz bang ending. But this one had Newman as the sleazy comic book guy, Buzz fighting Buzz, Mrs. Potato Head, a Barbie party, and a minefield of Cheetos. Brilliant.

It also perfectly sets up the third film with its ending of the toys making peace with knowing that one day Andy will outgrow them. It is one thing to say but an entirely different thing to live.

On another note, is the Jessie gets tossed aside by her former owner montage the saddest thing Pixar did before that incredible montage in Up? Or is the scene where Nemo's family gets wiped out the saddest?

Directed by John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, and Ash Brannon

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Toy Story

One of the books that my mom bought the boys for Christmas was a Toy Story 3 book. From the first time we read the book to them, they loved it and were immediately crying out "Buzz" and "Woody."

So SHR and I decided we had to order the trilogy. Last weekend, we watched the first one with the boys. They loved it. I'm not sure how much they understood but they definitely loved calling out Buzz and Woody's names. Near the end, Otis definitely understood that Buzz was in big trouble when the rocket was strapped to his back.

I had forgotten most of this movie - I hadn't seen it in years. I missed it when it was first out but I must have seen it on video sometime in the late 90's. It is so incredibly good. Not as good as the most recent one but still pretty great nonetheless.

I'm looking forward to watching Toy Story 2 with them soon.

Directed by John Lasseter

Monday, January 03, 2011

True Grit

I love that the Coen Brothers are putting out a movie a year these days. There was a six year stretch between The Man Who Wasn't There and No Country For Old Men where they only put out two movies - the horrible Ladykillers and the perplexing Intolerable Cruelty which I have no intention of ever seeing.

At first I thought that this was, for the most part, a pretty straightforward film for the Coen Bros without their usual flourishes. Sure, there was that weird dude near the end making chicken noises. And yeah, that guy on horseback dressed in a bearskin felt very Coen brothersy.

But when I think more about it, I realize that the source material itself is so heavily up the Coens' alley that this was the perfect source material for them to adapt. The dialogue is crazy. I really should read the book so I can more fully savor how oddly biblical, lyrical, and funny it is. At the very least, I want to see the original film. I'm assuming all the corpses hanging from trees and hidden away in caves aren't as frighteningly shot in the original?

Jeff Bridges is like The Dude trying to play John Wayne. I love it. Matt Damon is hilarious as is Josh Brolin. The girl is great as well. Between this and Winter's Bone, 2010 was a good year for films about teenage girls trying to make their way in a treacherous environment.

This reminded me of a number of other films - a bit of Lonesome Dove, a lot of The Naked Spur, and surprisingly a little of the much maligned Cold Mountain.

Even though I couldn't get through The Yiddish Policemen's Union, I am very excited for the Coens' upcoming adapation of it.

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Fighter

Christian Bale > Mark Wahlberg

Crack > Crank

The Fighter > Gone Baby Gone

Amy Ryan > Amy Adams

The Fighter > Invincible

Rocky > The Fighter

The Wrestler > The Fighter

Melissa Leo as crazy mom = Barbara Hershey in Black Swan as crazy mom.

Sugar Ray Leonard the Fighter > Sugar Ray Leonard the Actor

7 sisters of Micky Ward scarier and funnier in equal parts than any other characters on film in 2010.

Oh yeah, the Christian Bale - Melissa Leo duet on I Started a Joke = UNBELIEVABLE!

Directed by David O. Russell
Court St. 12