09/12/01 - The Road
First off it's an impossible task, the book is a masterpiece.
Credit that it was much better than how bad it could have been--than I feared--but
was definitely not a great adaptation. It somehow underplayed the important
stuff (the tone, the fear, the bond, the philosophical questions),
and overplayed the wrong stuff (the past).
The movie leaves out the details of day-to-day life, of
choosing a place to sleep, whether it was safe enough to light a fire,
of what to scrounge and carry...all the stuff that creates the endless
tension that makes the whole story tick, the very foundation of the tone:
looking forward, a sense of purpose in the bleakness, the father's
professionalism and the spark in the son... Without all of that you're just
looking at scene after scene of a couple guys sitting around feeling lousy. 5/10
09/11/30 - Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans
I'm not sure why he's a "bad" lieutenant. He confiscates illegal
drugs but doesn't press charges, never discharges his weapon, saves
a prisoner from drowning, helps a prostitute into rehab, sends a good
inner-city youth off to a better life, pays his debts, never does
anything that leads to an innocent person being harmed, and ultimately
brings a bunch of killers to justice. What a jerk.
...The fun of the movie is he seems to be doing it all by accident while
being an antisocial desperate drug fiend looking out only for number one.
It's the antithesis of A Serious Man: sometimes good things happen for
no reason, even despite you trying your hardest to be awful. 7/10
09/11/28 - Fantastic Mr. Fox
A pleasant surprise. I was expecting it to be clunkier, or hampered
by Wes Anderson being too Wes Anderson... the previews seemed ugly,
with overbearing voice work, shoddy animation... but it was slick,
the acting and characters were great, great gags. Funny and fun. 8/10
09/11/06 - This Is It
It's pretty cool to see that MJ still had it. It's just rehearsals,
so it seemed clear he was only dancing and singing at 50-75%, but you
can tell it's still all there. Especially in the moments where he can't
help but get into it, even though he's trying to save it for the show.
It's a little weird that they show each song in its entirety, even
though it's just a rehersal--the picture and sound aren't necessarily
very good and he's holding back, so it gets a little tedious.
The between sections are much more interesting, but too brief--they avoid
getting into the personality and just try to show us the show they were
working on; honouring the man as the talent he still was. That is it. 5/10
09/10/25 - It Might Get Loud
Fairly interesting. Nice to see what U2 looked and sounded like
in high school, and to see the house and room where Led Zeppelin
got that drum sound in When The Levee Breaks. That's about as
exciting as it gets, though. 5/10
09/10/20 - A Serious Man
The problem with making a movie about how everything happens
for no reason is the audience gets bored watching characters
who have no control or influence over their destiny. If you
can sit through a movie where people are randomly punished
while going in no direction in particular, only managing to question
what it all means and never get any answers, then you're rewarded
with a dryly hilarious insider's collection of midwestern jewish
culture and characters. The humour comes from a general sense
that nobody really understands the faith--the kids consider
it a tedious pain in the ass and grow up to be adults that can't
remember the details. Even the relgious leaders have no wisdom
to impart. ...So. How do you evaluate the Coens for doing a
great job of intentionally being self-indulgent and difficult? 6/10
09/10/18 - Where The Wild Things Are
I mean, I get it. I really do get it. A great idea for what
the Wild Things represent, and how to make a whole movie out of it.
It was all there...so why was it kind of boring? 5/10
09/10/04 - The Invention Of Lying
It wants to be like Groundhog Day, but there's some big
problems. The female character isn't an interesting person, she's
one dimensional...and it's partly because of the larger problem;
the unclear nature of the movie's world. The way they treated
the 'truth telling' makes everyone seem kind of stupid, instead of
earnest and honest. I would expect everyone to tell the truth
when asked, and take everything at face value when told, but
instead they wrote half an hour of jokes about people bluntly
(and cruelly, innappropriately, unsolicited) speaking what's on
their mind to strangers.
These characters aren't likeably naive, everyone just acts like
defeated jerks with concussions. It could have been so
much more. The movie takes a turn towards genius with an
extended sequence that almost makes up for everything else;
the invention of religion. A great half hour, but the
rest was undercooked. 4/10
09/10/02 - Zombieland
Surprisingly good. If you're into zombies, of course.
In a fun way. Mananges to tread well-worn ground with some
really nice fresh touches. 7/10
09/09/20 - The Informant!
Amazing, hilarious, stylish. So absurd it could only be true.
It's like The Insider but with the whistleblower having the opposite
of integrity. There's something hilarious about people at their wits' end
trying to make sense out of an escalating gong show. 8/10
09/08/27 - Inglourious Basterds
I really enjoyed this. Just when it got easy to hate or be bored
of Tarantino, he makes this and re-proves he wasn't just a flash
in the pan. It's got enough of his bad habits in
it to fuel anyone who doesn't want to like it, but I thought it
was, on the whole, pretty great. Definitely worthwhile.
The main German character alone is worth the price of admission. 8/10
09/08/16 - District 9
Pretty cool. One or two weird misteps, but it's hard not to forgive
it for the overwhelming amount of bold moves it makes. It's so
off-the-cuff, seat-of-the-pants, unpredictable. Demonstrates the
value of originality. 8/10
09/08/14 - Adam
It doesn't do anything wrong. Reasonable, sweet. 4/10
09/07/31 - Funny People
Two and a half hours of Judd Apatow doing his thing pretty well.
You know, the rambling comedy/drama scattershot with decent
characters. You can do a lot worse, just not sure it's one
for the record books. 6/10