Monday, February 23, 2009

Lots of New Films that I do not have Time to Do Individually

Ok I have seen lots of films that I do not have the time to write about individually.

Among them:

City of Ember (2008): B- Really great first hour. Could have been amazing. Best art direction of the year. But the last half hour just meanders off into nothingness.

Choke (2008): B: Really entertaining and fun but ultimately forgettable in the grand scale of things. But I'd recommend it because it is very good. Sam Rockwell is fantastic as always.

Let the Right One In (2008): B+ Stuck with me very much after it ended. Not obsessed with it the way some people are from a subjective point of view but in terms of recognizing how great it really is I can attest 100% to that. The relationship between the two is done beautifully and the violence is handled with immense skill and subtlety without hiding away from it in the slightest.

The Visitor (2008): B. Not normally my type of film but Richard Jenkins really got me involved. I want him to be my awesome uncle or my best friend. He is incredible in this really doing some beautiful work. I am very happy he has finally gotten some recognition for a performance that whole heartedly deserved it.

Shine a Light (2008): C. After seeing Gimme Shelter this is basically a really really really poor man's version of that. And its not even that. Its definitely decent. The concert is shot really nicely by Scorsese and the Rolling Stones still put on a great show but ultimately I wanted more archival footage and did not get that.

Reprise (2008)B-. I wanted to love this but in the end I felt like we were kept at too much of a distance from the characters to really get to like them at all and these are characters that I think you are supposed to care about. The director shows a great amount of talent and skill with his first film but it is too focused on being influenced by the French New Wave films to really give us anything of real value. There are some nice moments and really great parts and other parts where I rolled my eyes. Great soundtrack though.

Penelope (2008): C. This sounds like I did not like this but I actually did. But in the end its just an average movie. Not bad but not anything really good. So it gets an average grade. Christina Ricci and James McAvoy elevate the material's forced quirkiness and make us care but again its just not memorable.

Paranoid Park (2008): B+. Not as good or substantial as Milk but really really fantastic film about the ennui of adolescence shown to an extreme with the way a young skateboarder comprehends and deals with the fact that he accidently killed someone. The use of Nina Rota in this is beautiful. And Gus Van Sant's tracking shots always impress me. One of my favorites of his.

The Strangers (2008): B+. One of the most frightening and terrifying experiences of my life. While I felt more could have been done to get us to like and care about the characters who are being terrorized I felt that the experience itself made me feel like I went through something and thus caring about the characters did not change the fact that I felt like what I was watchign was happening to me. This is the director's first film and he brings a completely refreshing vibe and skill set to the horror film lessening on the gore but not the disturbance and using very little music and concentrating on subtle uses of sound and camera shots to scare us. His use of other music such as Joanna Newsom has a profound effect. This is a very talented director. Even Roger Ebert who hated this film goes on for paragraphs about the skill level that the director shows. This is a film that breathes life into the horror film. And I cannot wait to see more from this talented guy.

The Incredible Hulk (2008): B
I personally enjoyed this as much as "Iron Man". Yes I know. Shocking. But I did. I really really liked this a lot. Edward Norton and Tim Roth bring a degree of respectability and talent to the table. Liv Tyler and Edward Norton did a great job and have good chemistry. As I said, Tim Roth was my favorite aspect of the film. The scenes with Tim Blake Nelson slowed thinkgs down a bit and fucked with the tone a little but no biggie. While its not "The Dark Knight" or anything, I still think it should be put in the list of films as examples of the superhero genre upping its game.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008): A-
Incredible and fascinating documentary. I know some say that the film is on Polanski's side and that the film tries to get us to like him but I sort of disagree. The films main goal is to point out that Polanski's guilt put aside, he had an unfair trial with a completely corrupt judge. I agree that he got completely fucked over. The way the director puts together this material and story is truly remarkable. That aside it does not change what he did and while he is an incredible director and his talent is important, he did something horrible and I do not care if the girl publicly forgave him years later. I do not think the film tries to hide behind what he did. I think the film addresses it but also tries to make him a sympathetic figure due to his history. I don't think the film forgives what he did or even tries to excuse it; they do show that he is supposedly a nice guy and a good person but honestly anyone with half a brain should understand that what he did was wrong and I assume the film assumes that people are not stupid and can honestly decide for themselves that a man who drugs a 13 year old girl and rapes her is not very cool. But I do not think the film was that one sided although I would have liked to see more from the victim of it.

Frozen River (2008): B. Really interesting film with an unbelievable performance from Melissa Leo. Really refreshing raw look at a person struggling. The film is not sugarcoated in anyway or polished to be accessible. This woman's life sucks and in a very realistic way. I appreciate the film for that.

Lakeview Terrace (2008): B+ I loved this. I flatout loved this movie. I was completely taken in by it. I do not even know what to say about it but it completely took me by surprise. Loved loved loved this.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008): B-. I only give this a B- because some of it felt false but the parts that did not in particular the relationship between Nick and Norah which woud be the most important aspect of the film rang true to me and I thought the chemistry and talent of the two actors really clicked and that time was taken to develop their relationship that normally is not seen as much as it is here. Ari Graynor did a fantastic job as well as the drunk friend who I hope to see in more roles.

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