Fall season isn’t the best time to dig into the dvd queue but it’s been awhile since we looked at what might be out:
- The Bling Ring (9/17) – Sofia Coppola’s latest is an interesting if not all that engaging take on the real life thieves of the rich and vacuous.
- Oz the Great and Powerful (6/10) – Never quite found its ground with characters or story, but I’m game for almost any take on all things Oz.
- Star Trek Into Darkness (9/10) – Not as great as the first in this reboot but still an enjoyable take on the characters and slight alt version.
- This is the End (10/1) – A pretty decent take on world destruction and celebrity inside jokes, still leans a little too into the dumb humor.
- World War Z (9/17) – Apparently not true to the book at all, and maybe not all that believable, but a whole lot of tense fun.
Possibly checking out: Amour (8/20), Behind the Candelabra (9/17), The Great Gatsby (8/27), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (8/19), Identity Thief (6/4), Iron Man 3 (9/24), Killing Season (8/19), Mud (8/6), Now You See Me (9/3), On the Road (8/6), The Place Beyond the Pines (8/6), Redemption (9/24), Sharknado (9/2), Spring Breakers (7/9), Venus and Serena (7/2).
Summer blockbusters are coming but just in case you don’t feel like leaving your home, there’s a few items that might be worth a watch:
- Django Unchained (4/16) – It’s very Tarantino for good and for bad, it’s in interesting and engaging tale of Western style revenge, I found enough likable to get me through a few awkward points.
- Life of Pi (3/12) – Visually impressive and although not a perfect movie a surprisingly decent adaptation of an unadaptable book.
- Lincoln (3/26) – Daniel Day Lewis is captivating, which is fortunate because it is an awful lot of him talking.
- Silver Linings Playbook (4/30) – A great watch for a whole cast on the edge of crazy, and yes I know there were flaws.
- This is 40 (3/22) – Some funny moments but too much of a couple truly arguing for me to laugh much.
Possibly checking out: Gangster Squad (4/23), Hitchcock (3/12), The Impossible (4/23), Jack Reacher (5/7), Killing Them Softly (3/26), Parker (5/21), Zero Dark Thirty (3/19).
I’m a little movie’d out this time of year after my end of year lists and the Oscars, but along with a few picks recently out, there are a few still on the list to catch:
- Argo (2/19) – It’s quite a tense ride, and you know Ben got some recognition for this year’s effort getting the embassy workers out, the best? some thought so.
- Celeste and Jesse Forever (2/5) – At times delightful and at times painful, the tale of a couple who try to redefine their relationship after breaking up, I liked it.
- Hit and Run (1/8) – A fun ride as this romantic/action/comedy follows leaving witness protection gone awry.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2/12) – Noted as my fave of last year, it’s a beautifully done small coming of age film.
- Skyfall (2/12) – The wonderful Craig Bond seems to have quickly progressed from new and slightly rebellious to old and jaded but always a good caper.
Checking out: Alex Cross (2/5), Chasing Mavericks (2/26), Cloud Atlas (2/5), Cosmopolis (1/1), End of Watch (1/22), Flight (2/5), The Master (2/26), The Sessions (2/12), Seven Psychopaths (1/29), Taken 2 (1/15).
Looking back through the movies of the year it was difficult, as always, to cull ten of these. And then even more difficult trying to put them in order. Am I just getting too old to remember what I watched and how much I enjoyed it throughout the year? Perhaps if I start grading along the way it’ll ease my subjective recollection. Oh and of course I haven’t seen everything so check out what’s bold in the Critic’s Picks if you want to know what pool I was drawing from.
Standard caveats apply, it was a pretty indie year for me and here’s where I’m at, I think:
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower – I’m a sucker for a misfit teen flick and this coming of age piece struck all the right notes, the awkward and the tragic are mixed with enough humor and truly touching moments, along with great cultural references to make it a real perk.
- Silver Linings Playbook – I thought Bradley Cooper, and the entire cast, did a beautiful job of conveying the edge of true crazy and the precarious balance that can push a person either way, while the wrap-up may have been a bit on the tidy side after a not so silver lined voyage I enjoyed it.
- The Hunger Games – So no I never read the books but I thought the flick did a great job of portraying a lot of content and a lot of action in a dystopian post-apocalyptic flick, while of course making me like that bow shooting, moral code keeping, Jennifer Lawrence all the more.
- Hit & Run – I had doubts about Kristen Bell’s dude Dax’s action comedy but quite enjoyed the chasing and fleeing of the recently discovered Witness Protectee trying to get his best gal to her nonviolent conflict resolution job interview, with a wonderful supporting cast.
- Safety Not Guaranteed – Low expectations are sometimes the best experiences, the quirky cast of Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, and Jake Johnson are well suited for this offbeat journalist covers a story about a dude who is gonna time travel, what happens when our undercover lady reporter gets too involved?
- Moonrise Kingdom – A very Wes Anderson film with great casting and an incredible visual style as we follow the romance of youngsters across a New England island, though it may not have been the perfect arc it hit all the right notes to make me appreciate the kingdom.
- Lincoln – That Daniel Day-Lewis does an amazing job portraying the man and the efforts around the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which is a good thing because it’s an awful lot of him telling Lincoln tales.
- The Dark Knight Rises – I maybe am not giving this movie credit based solely on this chapter, skewed by my love of this reinvention and of Christian Bale and my sadness to see it end, maybe a little too comparable to the initial take by the end I was still hoping to see what came next.
- Argo – Tense throughout, in almost a comical way, they did a nice job capturing the look and feel and emotion of the hidden non hostages from the US Embassy in Tehran and our hero Affleck who acted and directed their ordeal.
- Beasts of the Southern Wild – One is torn between wanting to get our young protagonist out of her isolated Louisiana bayou community and keeping it perfectly preserved, the mix of fantasy adds a nice touch to the journey of the storm and flooding as well as the family and community.
What did you love last year? Hate?
I have officially reverted from my stance that I need to try to see all ‘good’ movies, or that I need to see all of the Academy Award, and in particular best pic, nominations. I’ll definitely catch a couple of these on dvd though I’m still debating ZDT… In bold you can see what I have seen to date, and stay tuned for the list of my faves from 2012. List of critics and awards referenced at the bottom with links to see what they have to say.
- 2 Days in New York – ML
- 28 Hotel Rooms – ML
- Amour – AOS, AA, OG, KT, LS, MD, RC
- Anna Karenina – RC
- Argo – AFI, AA, BA, BS, CC, CFC, GG, KT, LH, ML, NBR, OG, PGA, PH, LS, SA
- Beasts of the Southern Wild – AFI, AOS, AA, BS, CC, CFC, LS, NBR, PGA, PH, RC, SA
- Bernie – GA, LH, OG, PH
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – GG
- The Cabin in the Woods – PH
- Cloud Atlas – LH
- Dark Horse – RC
- The Dark Knight Rises – AFI, KT, LH, PH, RC
- The Deep Blue Sea – KT, MD, ML
- The Details – ML
- Detropia – BS
- Django Unchained – AFI, AOS, AA, BS, CC, GG, ML, NBR, PGA
- Dragon – RC
- Farewell My Queen – ML
- Flight – OG
- Footnote – AOS, KT
- Frankenweenie – BS, RC
- Gatekeepers – KT, LS, MD
- Goodbye, First Love – AOS
- The Grey – AOS
- Holy Motors – MD
- How to Survive a Plague – LS
- The Impossible – BS
- The Invisible War – RC
- Killing them Softly – OG
- The Law In These Parts – KT
- Les Miserables – AFI, AA, BA, CC, GG, NBR, PGA, SA
- Life of Pi – AFI, AA, BA, BS, CC, GG, PGA, RC, SA
- Lincoln – AFI, AOS, AA, BA, BS, CC, CFC, GG, OG, PGA, KT, LH, LS, ML, NBR, PH, SA
- The Loneliest Planet – GA, LS
- Looper – NBR, PH
- The Master – AOS, CC, CFC, GA, MD
- Middle of Nowhere – GA, KT
- Moonrise Kingdom – AFI, BS, CC, GA, GG, MD, PGA, SA
- Neighboring Sounds – AOS
- Not Fade Away – LH
- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – MD
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower – NBR, OG
- Promised Land – NBR
- Quartet – LH
- Robot & Frank – KT
- Room 237 – OG
- Rust and Bone – KT
- Safety Not Guaranteed – KT
- Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – GG
- Searching for Sugar Man – MD, PH
- The Sessions – SA
- Silver Linings Playbook – AFI, AA, BS, CC, GG, KT, MD, NBR, OG, PGA, PH, SA
- Skyfall – BS, LH, LS, PGA, SA
- The Waiting Room – LH, ML
- Zero Dark Thirty – AFI, AOS, AA, BA, BS, CC, CFC, GG, OG, PGA, KT, LH, LS, MD, ML, NYFCC, PH, RC, SA
AFI – AFI Awards, AOS – A. O. Scott for NYT, AA – The Academy Awards, BA – Bafta Awards, BS – Betsey Sharkey for LAT, CC – Critics Choice, CFC – Chicago Film Critics, GA – Gotham Awards, GG –Golden Globes, OG – Owen Gleiberman for EW, KT – Kenneth Turan for LAT, LH – Leba Hertz for SFG, LS – Lisa Schwarzbaum for EW, MD – Manohla Dargis for NYT, ML – Mick LaSalle for SFG, NBR – National Board of Review, NYFCC – New York Film Critics Circle, PGA – Producers Guild, PH – Peter Hartlaub for SFG, RC – Richard Corliss for Time Magazine, SA – Satellite Awards
It’s the end of the year and the good movies are coming out. But there were a few good picks along the way, and of course more fodder for dvd rentals.
- The Amazing Spiderman (11/9) – Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are both good in the latest comic-y reboot, though you have to forget that it is way too early for a reboot.
- The Bourne Legacy (12/11) – More than Bourne… and following Jeremy Renner ain’t bad, though I found Rachel Weisz’s character irritating and with all the setup, still some good action.
- Looper (12/31) – JGL can do no wrong and this time travel action romp with he and Bruce Willis is a keeper, you know for a sci-fi hit man movie.
- The Dark Knight Rises (12/4) – I’m game, though worked best as part of series and didn’t love the villain, but Bale rounds out the good leading men can do no wrong of this list, though will we see more of JGL?
- Savages (11/13) – I would usually love a violent action packed surfer drug dealing flick but these characters didn’t quite drag me in.
I’m looking to check out: Beasts of the Southern Wild (12/4), Liberal Arts (12/18), Ted (12/11).
I tried at one point to try to keep up with live movie reviews in a few ‘flick fun‘ posts, but clearly that was a greater commitment than my sporadic schedule could maintain. So here’s another stab at movies, a somewhat monthly look at what’s coming out on dvd.
- Dark Shadows (10/2) – I was compelled by my general love of Depp and his peculiar Tim Burton characters and the somewhat cult following of the original show, but can’t give it a wholehearted recco.
- Magic Mike (10/23) – Not your finest fare but a good cheesy escapist flick with a Steven Soderbergh attempt at a story, oh and you know lots of stripper guys if you like that sort of thing.
- Moonrise Kingdom (10/16) – I consider myself a Wes Anderson fan and although I didn’t love this quite as much as a few of my diehard friends, I really appreciated the characters and the visuals and thought it was generally a good time.
- Ruby Sparks (10/30)- Delightful and quirky, the line between fiction and reality is tested in this romance about a blocked early-to-success writer writing his girlfriend, written by and starring Zoe Kazan.
- Safety Not Guaranteed (10/30) – Reporting on or becoming part of the story of someone seeking a companion for time travel, Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza, The League’s Mark Duplass, and New Girl’s Jake Johnson all add their unique acting chops to this sweet oddball story.
So what do you think of now availables? What are you renting or recommending?
I’ve had another year’s worth of movies and although nothing jumps out as my favorite, favorite there was lots of good to be had. So here’s a smattering of ten good bits. And just so you know what the contenders were I’ve bolded the flicks that I caught on the critic’s list.
- 50/50 – Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great in really anything but the subtleties, heartfelt and humorous, of his dealing with cancer hit the right note, along with his also well played entourage including buddy, Seth Rogan, and more than slightly green therapist, Ana Kendrick.
- Beginners – It’s never too late to turn your life around, and Ewan McGregor and his newly out dad, Christopher Plummer, show that very thing in a touching and amusing tale of love and life and loss.
- Young Adult – There’s something about watching a person hit bottom by making choice after choice that makes you cringe, but what keeps you on board, other than relishing in a seemingly terrible person’s suffering, is the interplay between Charlize and Patton Oswalt that brings this nonspirational story to the next level.
- Drive – This year brought me on board with Ryan Gosling, he maybe had the least lines of any leading man in this flick, but his brooding dude trying to do right in a whole lot of wrong was beautifully if not brutally done.
- Crazy, Stupid, Love – It’s surprisingly difficult to make a good romcom, and this ensemble take with a bit of the dramedy focus doesn’t hit it right at every stride, but the camaraderie between Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, a couple of men on the prowl, each in their own way, makes it work.
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo/The Artist – I really appreciated although maybe didn’t love both of these movies, The Girl was beautifully done though maybe too close in timing and accuracy with the book for me to really immerse myself, while Artist did quite a good job utilizing the silent and current medium for a sweet story but alas I just got bored in the middle.
- Super 8 – Seen through the eyes of kids on the precipice of so many things, they capture the spirit of a time and a place with enough wonder that the somewhat formulaic otherworldly occurrences (think scary monster) following a small town train wreck felt like the perfect summer movie.
- Colombiana/Hanna – I do love an action flick, and a kick-ass girl trained to be a killer, well these two flicks take slightly different stances on their girl power, but neither fails to entertain.
With the Academy Award nominations out I think we can take a look at what folks are talking about from this last year. This critic and nomination list is far from comprehensive but you can see who is getting some of the consensus and some of the wildcards. Those in bold are the ones I’ve seen to date, personally I’m taking a pass on Hugo and War Horse unless someone can make a more convincing case but I might buckle and watch The Tree of Life.
- 50/50 – GG
- The Artist – RC, MLS, LH, PH, Sat, BAFTA, GG, CFC, PGA, LS, AA
- Beginners – Got, OG, LS
- Bridesmaids – AFI, MLS, AOS, MD, GG, PGA, OG, LS
- Cave of Forgotten Dreams – RC
- Cedar Rapids – AOS
- Contagion – MD
- Crazy, Stupid, Love – RH, OG
- A Dangerous Method – AOS, MD
- The Descendants – Sat, Got, AFI, PH, AOS, BAFTA, GG, CFC, PGA, OG, LS, AA
- Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame – RC
- Drive – Sat, BAFTA, CFC
- Extremely Loud and Incredible Close – LH, AA
- Fast Five – RC
- The Future – MD
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – AFI, MLS, LH, PGA, OG
- Hanna – PH
- The Help – AFI, Sat, AOS, BAFTA, PGA, AA
- Hugo – RC, AFI, LH, PH, Sat, MD, GG, CFC, PGA, LS, AA
- The Ides of March – GG, PGA
- Incendies – AOS
- The Interrupters – LS
- J. Edgar – AFI, MD
- La Quattro Volte – AOS, MD
- Like Crazy – MLS
- Love Crime – MLS
- Meek’s Cutoff – Got, AOS
- Melancholia – MD, LS
- Midnight in Paris – Sat, AFI, MLS, LH, GG, PGA, AA
- Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – OG
- Moneyball – AFI, MLS, Sat, MD, GG, PGA, LS, AA
- Mysteries of Lisbon – AOS, MD
- My Week With Marilyn -MLS, LH, GG
- Of Gods and Men – MD
- One Day – MLS
- Pina – LS
- Poetry – MD
- Rampart – OG
- Rango – RC
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes – RC
- Senna – PH
- A Separation – OG, LS
- Shame – Sat
- Sing Your Song – LH
- The Skin I Live In – MD
- Super 8 – RC, LH
- Take Shelter – Got, PH
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Sat, MD, BAFTA
- The Tree of Life – Got, RC, AFI, PH, AOS, CFC, OG, AA
- The Trip – OG
- Tuesday, After Christmas – AOS
- War Horse – RC, AFI, LH, Sat, AOS, GG, PGA, AA
- Warrior – PH, AOS, MD
- Weekend – AOS
- We Were Here – MLS, LH
- Win Win – PH
- Young Adult – AOS
AA – Academy Awards, AFI – American Film Institute, AOS – A.O. Scott for NYTimes, BAFTA – British Academy Film Awards, CFC – Chicago Film Critics, GG – Golden Globe Nominations, Got – Gotham, LH – Leba Hertz for SFGate, LS – Lisa Schwarzbaum for EW, MD – Manolo Dargis for NYTimes, MLS – Mick LaSalle for SFGate, OG – Owen Gleiberman for EW, PGA – Producers Guild Awards, PH – Peter Hartlaub fo SFGate, RC – Richard Corliss for Time, Sat – International Press Academy Satellite
Well we’re heading from a feast season into famine, and what better way to close out a wave of movies than with some good action fun. Zoe Saldana is out for revenge and is willing to do whatever it takes. The movie actually spends a good deal of time setting up young Zoe who, seeing her parents killed as a ten year old, starts with an awesome chase scene of her own. Saldana takes over and we’re happy to watch her, not only because she’s totally hot, but because she plots out some intricate as well as brutal attacks. Now this clearly isn’t a fine film, a couple points I think may have been cheesier than intended, but I was delighted with my choice nonetheless.
As a side note I completely spaced that I also saw The Help last week. A lovely cast takes on the story of a woman trying to tell the story of the unheard women who care for the white families. A pretty good movie, but what often elevates in the combination of drama, comedy, and some poignant moments ended up feeling a bit uneven.
Notable dvd releases 8/30:
- In A Better World – This Danish film garnered Oscar and Golden Globe so is perhaps worth a look, putting in the queue.
- Prom – Some teen thing that didn’t even hit my radar, pass.
- Tyler Perry’s Medea’s Big Happy Family – I assume if you watch these this is along those lines, pass.
- 90210 (S3) – I tried out of loyalty to the original but couldn’t get on board, pass.
- Cougar Town (S2) – This show has actually hit a funny stride, can’t wait for fall.
- Desperate Housewives (S7) – I can’t seem to stick with these soapy shows for more than a season or two, pass.
- Hell’s Kitchen (S5) – I don’t like the yeller, pass.
- House (S7) – Another season of diagnosis, I am begrudgingly still watching.
- Parenthood (S2) – This show also grew on me, enjoying the family drama.
- Running Wilde (S1) – Almost a good show if you like the quirky sort.
- Sons of Anarchy (S3) – If you’re not watching this show, get started now, a favorite.