Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Library Project: September 22 - 28

Another week, another set of movies in my DVD library that I've worked my way through. Here's what I watched this week:

September 22: Anna Christie (1930) - Garbo Talks! But, unfortunately, she does it in this aggressively uncinematic film that feels stuck somewhere between film and play, and silent and sound. As usual, Garbo is a fascinating onscreen presence, but the film itself is far from a "must see."

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Time Travel Movies

#5: Peggy Sue Got Married

Kathleen Turner stars as Peggy Sue, who goes to her 25th high school reunion and instead ends up transported back to high school. Turner earned an Oscar nomination for her performance and co-star Nicolas Cage earned a few raised eyebrows by basing his character's voice on Pokey from The Gumby Show.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

* * *
Director: Drew Goddard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Anna Hutchison

Horror is an interesting genre because it is so often dismissed by people as a "lesser" art form and yet films in the horror genre are amongst the most analyzed and debated ever made. The Cabin in the Woods is both a horror film in its own right and an extended analysis of the genre as a whole - as well as an analysis of viewership of the genre. Guided by the hand of Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods is a sharp, self-referential film - although, perhaps, not quite as clever as it thinks it is.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review: Trouble with the Curve (2012)

* * *
Director: Robert Lorenz
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake

When a film is described as a "feel good movie," that's usually shorthand for a blandly entertaining piece of work that goes so far out of its way to be inoffensive and unchallenging that it is consumed and then instantly forgotten. This isn't necessarily fair, which is why I'm loath to use the term to describe Trouble with the Curve, even though I can't think of a term that's more appropriate. The film, the debut feature of Clint Eastwood's long time Assistant Director Robert Lorenz, is certainly far from a masterpiece, but it's the kind of solidly crafted, smoothly moving film that doesn't often get its due these days. It may not aim very high, but it hits every target it aims for, and does so in a charming and effective way.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Library Project: September 15 - 21

It happens, right? You spend years amassing your home video collection and, inevitably, you end up with a couple of movies that you don't watch for years. Going through my collection recently I discovered movies I forgot I owned (and a couple to maybe be embarrassed about owning), and movies I love that for whatever reason I haven't watched in at least five years. In light of that I've decided to work my way through my library one movie at a time (though, sadly, I have to exclude all the films I still have on VHS, as I no longer have a functioning VHS player), in alphabetical order since I'm just that OCD, and track my progress. Here's what I watched this week:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Amy Adams Performances

#5: Drop Dead Gorgeous

Her film debut and a performance which confirms that she should do more straight up comedies. Her dimwitted, hyper sexual pagent contestant is a highlight and gets some of the film's best lines ("They're never gonna let you perform naked... I asked.").

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: The Player (1992)

* * * 1/2
Director: Robert Altman
Starring: Tim Robbins

It has been said that no one ever sets out to make a bad movie. That may be true but, in terms of studio films at least, it's probably more accurate to say that nobody sets out to make a profitless film - even if to make a profit means to excise all those elements that drew you to the project in the first place. Robert Altman's The Player is about the people who sacrifice quality for the sake of commercial appeal - a subject dear to Altman's heart, given that his films were often high in quality but low in profit. It's also a darkly funny little murder story and features one of Tim Robbins' best performances.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: Day for Night (1973)

* * * *
Director: Francois Truffaut
Starring: Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Valentina Cortese, Francois Truffaut

What can you say about Francois Truffaut that hasn't already been said? He's one of the key filmmakers from one of the most (if not the most) important and influential film movements of all time, and his films have been analyzed to death. All you can really do with his best films at this point is confirm their greatness. So it is with Day for Night, his only film to win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film, and one of his most beloved.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Questions Raised by the Existence of the Oogiloves Movie

#5: What the hell is an Oogielove?

Judging by the fact that film has now become notorious for having the lowest opening weekend take ever, I guess we may never know.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: In The Mood For Love (2000)

* * * *
Director: Wong Kar-wai
Starring: Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung

Sometimes what doesn't happen is more important than what does. Nothing ever happens between the would-be lovers in Wong Kar-wai's In The Mood For Love - though, in another sense, everything happens and the relationship becomes the most definitive of both their lives. A beautiful (albeit very bittersweet) love story, In The Mood For Love is easily one of the best films of this still nascent century.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review: Robot & Frank (2012)

* * *
Director: Jake Schreier
Starring: Frank Langella, Peter Sarsgaard, Susan Sarandon

Slight but utterly delightful, Jake Schreier's debut feature Robot & Frank is a buddy heist movie that successfully mixes comedy, drama, and just the right amount of sentimentality (well, maybe a bit more sentimentality than it absolutely needs, but more on that later). Anchored by a great performance from Frank Langella (so great that the performance itself is best described as "invisible"), Robot & Frank is a minor gem.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Movies About Writers

#5: Misery

The perils of too much success - creating a character so popular that you may very well die trying to kill him or her off. In her career defining role, Kathy Bates is absolutely terrifying.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review: Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)

* * *
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg

Celeste and Jesse Forever is like the anti-romantic comedy, abandoning the beginning of the love story in favor of the end. Starring (and co-written by) Rashida Jones, the film is about two people learning to redefine themselves outside of the relationship which was once the centre of their universe - a sometimes funny, often painful process that brings out both the best and the worst in them. Though the film makes a few missteps, it's a great effort from all involved.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: Lawless (2012)

* * *
Director: John Hillcoat
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska

John Hillcoat's Lawless is a competent (albeit blood soaked) genre film that stumbles somewhat whenever it makes a play at being a prestige picture. It takes itself very, very seriously and it aims higher than it can hit, but even though it has some fairly prominent flaws, it is entertaining nevertheless. If nothing else, it makes for a nice medium between the summer popcorn fare and the fall's slate of potential Oscar contenders.