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Friday, September 17, 2010

It's Been Way Too Long

All right loyal blog readers, if you've been anxiously awaiting my next post, here it is. I'm a month into the school year and I'm finally finding some time to write.

You might think that I had plenty of time to blog during my summer vacation. I watched plenty of movies, however, probably an average of 5 a week throughout the summer, but I somehow never got caught up on the blogging (perhaps I just decided to watch more movies rather than blog....)

I'll blog a bit on my movies from 2010, and very quick notes on others I've seen.


Shutter Island

I guessed the plot twist in this movie, so that kind of made me lose interest in it. Stylistically it has a great old Hollywood feel and Leonardo was quite good, as were Mark Ruffalo and Patricia Clarkson in a very small role. Well-directed, atmospheric, yet it all felt very familiar.

Grade: C+

Prodigal Sons

This movie is about a transgender woman returning to her high school reunion in Montana. Plenty of material, right? That's actually only the start of this very engaging film. It delves into mental illness and (believe it or not) Hollywood history. Definitely worth seeking out-it's on Netflix Watch Now.

Grade: B+

I Am Love

Beautiful and a little strange. The always incredible Tilda Swinton stars as a Russian-Italian woman who finds love in the Italian countryside with her adult son's best friend. This movie tells a melodramatic story with very little dialogue and an intense dedication to the physical beauty of the scene. I really enjoyed seeing it in the theater, but I'm not as sure it's a movie that will hold up as well on the smaller screen.

Grade: B

City Island

Very charming ethnic family comedy with Andy Garcia as a put upon dad whose family has a whole lot of secrets. I didn't quite buy the subplot with the son who was into fat women, but the rest of the movie was a lot of fun to watch.

Grade: B

The Ghost Writer

Roman Polanski's latest film is about a journalist (Ewan McGregor) who is hired to ghostwrite the autobiography of a disgraced British politician (Pierce Brosnan). Pretty good through the first half, but I found the revelations and denouement of the movie a little unsatisfying.

Grade: C+

Very short thoughts on other films (grouped by grade)


The New World (2005)

Wow. This movie was spellbinding and absolutely gorgeous, I'm not quite sure how I missed this one. The story of John Smith and Pocahontas is told with a you-are-there feeling and with a true sense of discovery. This movie was slightly divisive in its reception, and it's probably not for all tastes, but I think it's a masterpiece.


Spirited Away (2001)

I'm not usually a big fan of anime, but the rapturous critical reputation of this film led me to it. I wasn't disappointed. A sort of "Wizard of Oz" tale in a traditional Japanese bathhouse. Very beautiful, strange, and haunting.

Raising Arizona (1987)

Hadn't seen this one in a while. I actually saw it outdoors in Minneapolis with the closed captions on, and it really highlight the brilliant Coen Brothers dialogue. Hilarious.

Day for Night (1973)

One of the best movies about making movies, this Truffaut film is about a French production team making a not all that great movie. The scene where the director remembers stealing "Citizen Kane" photos from a local theater is one of my favorite scenes ever. Charming and poignant.

L'Enfant (2005)

Another gem from the Belgian Dardenne Brothers, who make movies about those living in the underbelly of modern Europe. This one's about an immature young father and the choices he makes. Very moving and expertly made.


The Gleaners and I (2001)

French documentary about those who glean, be it crops, trash, or art. Very contemplative and thought-provoking. Made me think about modern life in a new way.

The Maid (2009)

Chilean film about a maid with an intense loyalty to her family, and an intense hatred of the new maids. Dark, funny, and also a bit touching. Definitely worth a look.


Margot at the Wedding (2007)

My least favorite of Noah Baumbach's movies (after The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg, and Kicking and Screaming), but still worth a look for the hyper-articulate dialogue and the great performances by Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh as fairly unlikable sisters.

Friends with Money (2006)

To repeat myself, my least favorite of Nicole Holofcener's movies (after Please Give and Lovely and Amazing), but still entertaining look at modern female lives. Jennifer Aniston is pretty good, and the other women (Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener, and Joan Cusack) are very good.

The Best of Youth (2006)

I'd heard really great things about this 6-hour Italian miniseries, so I have to say I was a little disappointed. It follows two brothers from the 1960s to the present day. Many of the subplots are very moving, but it moves a little too fast through time.

High Art (1998)

Director Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right) made her debut with this movie about a young woman (Radha Mitchell) who falls in love with a drug-addicted artist (Ally Sheedy). Sheedy and Patricia Clarkson (as her German lover) are phenomenal in the movie, and the movie is quite engaging, but it doesn't quite add up to a great film.


Paranoid Park (2008)

Director Gus Van Sant seems to switch between relatively commercial films (Milk, Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester) and Arty with a capital A films (Elephant, Latter Days, Gerry). This is definitely one of the arty ones. About a young skateboarding teen who accidentally commits and then covers up a crime. I really liked the portrayal of teenagers who actually look and act like teens, and not like 22-year-olds, but the elegaic scenes of skateboarding got a tad long.


Ballast (2008)

I usually like slow, character-driven dramas, but this one was real slow and mumbly. About a family in the Mississippi delta dealing with a suicide, the movie kind of rambles along with its characters, and never truly reveals that much about them, at least to my eyes. Kind of similar to George Washington (2000), but not nearly as good.

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