Here are some two sentence reviews of the movies I watched in December.
- Movies watched – 24
- Movies that were new to me – 14
- Number of rom coms that made me want to quit watching rom coms – 3
- Monthly Masterpieces – Ball of Fire
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – A much tighter (and better directed) film than the original, though it still suffers from the big flaw of the hour long anal rape “character development” section of the beginning that has nothing to do with the rest of the film. At its heart, this is just a standard pulp mystery film–a pulp mystery film that is utterly obsessed with rape, that is.
- Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) – The usual heist film full of ridiculously convoluted heist machinations. That said, the set pieces are better than most, and really pretty fun to watch.
- Dancer in the Dark (2000) – Von Trier is once again going for the cheap shot gut punch of telling a brutal story of an innocent who gets ground to pieces by those around her (only this time it is sprinkled with happy go lucky song and dance numbers). A brilliant film (and surprisingly powerful performance from Bjork), but part of me has to wonder if using stuff like this to provoke a reaction isn’t a little too easy (and I have to wonder what kind of person wants to make movies about this kind of stuff anyway).
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) – A stronger film than the first Sherlock Holmes, though still rather disjointed (and the screenplay has no idea what to do with Noomi Rapace’s character). And, while he’s basically MTV/Music Video bullshit, some of Guy Ritchie’s slow mo touches are actually rather cinematic (especially the artillery bombing of the forest scene).
- 17 Again (2009) – A body switching movie made mostly watchable by an agreeable performance from Zach Effron. Also, Thomas Lennon’s nerd character is pretty annoying since whoever wrote the script was too lazy to look up and write factual nerd jokes.
- The Magician (1958) – Very strange early Bergman film about a group of travelling magicians who try to prove that they aren’t charlatans. I’m sure it has something to do with Bergman as “magician,” but I can’t say for sure…overall it ends up just being kind of off-putting.
- Christmas Vacation (1989) – Even when you already know all the lines, this movie still doesn’t fail to entertain. Cousin Eddie steals the show of course, but the incredibly funny script deserves most of the credit.
- Drive (2011) – Super-cool update of the old heist gone wrong story that also happens to have the best soundtrack of the year. Very stylishly done without succumbing to pretension as it alternates between ultraviolence and long stretches of inaction.
- Fast Five (2011) – This heist movie is full of a bunch of musclebound dudes sweating and hugging each other in between ridiculous car stunts and fistfights. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, then watch this as soon as possible.
- The Life of Brian (1979) – Hilarious romp through the time of Jesus, this is easily one of Monty Python’s best films. Honestly, if this were also set in medieval times, I’d probably even like it better than Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) – The first Holmes film to update the setting to modern times, this ends up being dominated a bit too much by the propaganda as Holmes ends up getting pushed to the edge of the spotlight. Still great fun, but not as strong as the rest of the Basil Rathbone Holmes films.
- Young Adult (2011) – Strange film about a horrible (and mentally deranged) person who doesn’t learn a damn thing through the course of the story. Maybe it is just a petty revenge film at the high school preps that screenwriter Diablo Cody hated, but I actually think there is something more to it than that (and the script is thankfully not nearly as full of cute dialog as Juno).
- New Year’s Eve (2011) – I really can’t tell if this is better than Valentine’s Day or not, which is to say, this movie sucks a sack of dicks. Totally manufactured and sentimental, it makes things even worse by taking itself far too seriously.
- The Pawnshop (1916) – Chaplin works at a pawnshop and the hilarity ensues. This probably has the highest concentration of funny gags out of all of Chaplin’s mutual films, many of them quite delightfully assholish as well.
- Down to You (2000) – This plays like a movie that explains the secrets of relationships as written by a 12 year old. Even the brilliant Julia Stiles can’t save this mess.
- Bridget Jones Diary (2001) – Perfectly fine romantic comedy, though even at only a decade old it already has not aged very well. Part of the problem is that too many films since have copied its style of oh so “clevar” humor, and part of the problem is that that oh so “clevar” style of humor is just kind of grating.
- Ball of Fire (1941) – Classic romantic comedy about a bunch of cute old men (and Gary Cooper) who get their lives livened up by a hot ‘n sassy gangster’s moll. Holds up to yearly viewings better than about any film short of Dazed and Confused.
- Troll Hunter (2010) – A fake documentary more in the tradition of Spinal Tap than The Blair Witch Project. Which is a good thing, the Trolls are just goofy looking enough to match the expertly timed humor.
- Warrior (2011) – Just your typical sports/martial arts film, though it is expertly mounted (and thankfully doesn’t have any aspirations beyond being a good typical sports/martial arts film). Thus, I’d recommend this far more than last year’s well-done, but Oscar baity The Fighter.
- Raw Deal (1948) – Excellent film noir about an escaped prisoner out to get revenge before the cops catch him. Fantastic cinematography by John Alton, and the fiery finale is pretty impressive as well.
- Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004) – Nonsensical teen movie aimed at preteens that is about as grating as one of those same preteens trying to explain why it is the best movie ever. Not even Lohan’s usual strong teen movie charisma can make this bullshit even remotely watchable.
- Sin City (2005) – The scattered decent moments fail to cover up what a steaming pile of shit this movie is. Part of the fault is due to that hack Robert Rodriguez, the rest of it is due to the fact that Frank Miller’s ludicrous source material should never have been spoken out loud (which does shine a bit of light onto the idea that Miller might just be a bit of a hack himself).
- Melancholia (2011) – Both sections of this two part (a wedding and then a small group of people coping with the end of the world) film are equally brilliant in their own way. Though a few parts wander dangerously close to pretension, as “art” films go, this is a much more coherent film than Tree of Life (the truly cinematic ending is especially brilliant).
- Fool’s Gold (2008) – A pretty fun little adventure movie if you don’t mind greasy male bimbos and a bit of stupid slapstick. And really, this viewing was my second time through it and I still rather loved it, so it can’t be all bad.