Some thoughts on movies I’ve seen lately

January 16, 2008


I’m spraying opinions! But these aren’t too controversial, sorry.

I can’t make a best movies of 2007 list because I haven’t seen “There Will Be Blood” yet. But I’ve seen a ton of movies lately from different years so here are some thoughts in case you’re looking for something to rent. I’ll give some Pitchfork style ratings I guess. I realize I’m giving a lot of scores in the 8’s and that you probably can’t differentiate how I really feel. This is because most of these movies I’ve seen I would recommend you seeing.



Atonement

So this won the Golden Globe for best drama. Whatever. It was a pretty good flick all things considered but it was pretty slow and long and ungodly depressing. About a man who is sent off to fight in WWII after being accused of raping a teenage girl, and the long-distance love he carries on via letters with a lover pining for him at home. It’s got a lot more twists than that, but I don’t want to give away the ending. Or maybe I do. It would save you some time.

Rating: 7.0



Juno

I typically hate movies that are intentionally quirky and self-concious the whole way through, but this was an exception. It’s pretty much Little Miss Sunshine II in that it’s like “Hey, be who you are, who cares,” yada yada yada. Lovely message, sure, and I really enjoyed the movie, but next time leave off the cute animations and the overcooked dialogue (which was great at parts, not at others).

Rating: 8.4



Tsotsi

This won Best Foreign film in 2005 and I can sorta see why. It’s a fable, sort of like Babel or Crash are fables — what I’m getting at here is the fact that you have to ignore just how unrealistic and dumb it is, and if you can you’ll enjoy it — but unlike the two listed movies, it’s short and to the point and relies more on poignancy and beauty to sell its point rather than force-feeding. It’s about a gangmember in Johannesburg who shoots a wealthy woman and steals her car, only to find out after he drives way that it has a baby in the backseat. In the worst of situations, human nature turns out to be beautiful. The final scene left me in tears, as usual.

Rating: 8.6


A Clockwork Orange

I can’t remember the last time I felt worse after watching a movie. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was after I viddied Full Metal Jacket in high school (notice a theme?). But, oh my brothers, what a movie! Holy cow. What a vile, wretched, tortured, unbearable movie. Totally horrorshow.

Rating: 8.9



Goodfellas

This is probably the best gangster movie I’ve seen. A nice healthy dose of wit. It’s not a perfect movie but I enjoyed it. Not really too much else to say. Fantastic acting.

Rating: 8.1



Amores Perros (“Love is a Bitch”)

Another acclaimed foreign film from 2001, this one is more like Babel in that it’s three intertwining stories that center around a dog-fighting ring (there will be no Vick jokes here) and a related car crash in I think Buenos Aires. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor — I’d say this is sort of a must-see of recent foreign film (and I guess the Academy agrees with me). And the supermodel in it is totally nice.

Rating: 8.1


Chinatown

Jack Nicholson’s totally mega awesome in my book, and so this movie already gains points from that. It’s an epic story really (clocking in at a shade under 3 hrs) — a tale of political corruption, murder, weird family issues, and water… lots and lots of water. Set in 1930’s / 1940’s Los Angeles, it’s a classic Sunset Boulevard type flick, a legend in its own right, and confusing as hell to follow. Still, even without Cliff Notes you can generally get whats going on, and it’s such an accomplishment. I don’t know if enjoyed it so much as I admired the hell out of it, and come on, its Chinatown and if you haven’t seen it you don’t know your shit.

Rating: 8.0


2001: A Space Odyssey

I don’t really know what the hell happened at the end of this movie, and I’m smart and good with abstract thought and pretty creative. I guess that’s the point — Kubrick said so much himself — but it ultimately kept me from really engaging with the movie. Art serves different purposes; some is meant to be like a warm, comfortable blanket — you know, a book you could read over and over (Love in the Time of Cholera) or a movie you could watch repeatedly (Annie Hall). And other stuff, like 2001, was meant to dazzle you from afar but never really be approachable, never really be warm and fuzzy and digestible. I marvelled at this movie, and I think I get it and what it wants to be, but I doubt I could ever consider it a favorite.

Rating: 8.0

The Godfather

Yeah, I’ll admit it: this movie bored me. Everyone loves it. It’s a classic. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe it’s just my disdain for the mobster culture. I don’t know. Francis Ford Coppolla, Brando, etc. — everyone did an amazing job. There just wasn’t as much here as I hoped there would be. Not enough of a story. But the baptism/murder sequence at the end was just flat-out awesome.

Rating: 7.5 (the horror!)


Pulp Fiction

Outstanding. It was too long — I loved the cleaning the car sequence but I felt sticking it right before the ending, combined with its length and lack of real need given the rest of the story, sorta dragged out the movie in general (now, that isn’t me saying I didn’t love the hell out of that scene, which I did). Tarantino could have his characters talk about just about anything and have it turn out memorable — the dialogue here is flat-out ridiculous. This one lived up to the hype.

Rating: 9.1


I am Legend

Despite its visuals and a surprisingly good performance from Will Smith, this movie was utterly forgettable. But the dystopic cinematography was good, even though it wasn’t as awe-inspiring as the low-budget, no frills and downright terrifying shots of an empty London in 28 Days Later or some of the shit that showed up in Children of Men. The story here sucked though, and it was predictable, and whatever.

Rating: 6.8


Charlie Wilson’s War

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN. This movie was pretty good. I like stuff with some history in it. And cans. But seriously — PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN.

Rating: 8.0

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