Thursday, January 3, 2013

Back to Work

It’s time to go back to work.  So, what have I seen over vacation?  I realize not all of this is Criterion (only two actually), but I thought it’d be nice to have a snapshot.  Here they are in roughly the same order I watched them in, and how many starts I gave them on Netflix:

Bernie (2011) *** - Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLain in a movie that would be considered “quirky” until you find out it is based on real people and a real murder.
Hollywoodland (2006) *** - Nice neo-noir, but Adrian Brody is miscast here.
Headhunters (2011) *** - Really brutal Norwegian action / drama about an art thief who steals from an assassin.
The Queen of Versailles (2012) *** - Documentary on the Siegel family who have millions from timeshare sales before the bubble in 2008 and their subsequent crash-and-burn.
Key Largo (1948) *** - Ok, but everyone touts this as a classic and I wasn’t seeing it, even if Bogey and Bacall are lovely to watch.  The Big Sleep is much better.
Young Adult (2011) * - I did not watch the whole thing.  I think Theron is a great actress, but watching this unhinged woman try to ruin a marriage is grotesque.
Exiled (2006) *** - Interesting Hong Kong gangster movie with strong undertones of American westerns.  It is very slow in pacing but has Anthony Wong and Simon Yam in it.
Chosin (2010) *** - Documentary about the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.
We’re Not Married (1952) ** - Odd little film that has a ton of stars from the era but ultimately paints marriage in a not so flattering light.
Strategic Air Command (1955) * - COMMIES!!!  Jimmy Stewart must stop playing baseball and save us from the COMMIES!!!  I didn’t watch the whole thing.
Happy (2011) *** - Documentary on the neuroscience behind happiness.
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (2003) *** - Documentary on the rise of the film school generation, which coincides with the counterculture movement of the 1960s (I used to see them as two separate things but now see them running more intertwined).
Side by Side (2012) **** - Again, but my cousin was here, and I think anyone who cares at all about movies should see it.
Moneyball (2011) **** - Again, but my cousin was here.  And it holds up well in multiple viewings.
Act of Valor (2012) ** - So you take actual Navy SEALs and put them in a movie.  They can’t act, but they do kick a lot of ass.  What results is a movie with intense action sequences and a laughable stab at plot and character.
Detachment (2011) * - Oh, my God, if being a teacher is so horrible, DON’T DO IT.  This was so depressing I shut it off, and Christina Hendricks was in it.
The Counterfeiters (2007) **** - Professional Jewish counterfeiters and printers are sequestered in a special concentration camp to attempt to destabilize Britain’s economy.  Based on a true story.
Leave Me Alone (2004) ** - Weird little Chinese movie with twin brothers where one borrows the other’s identity to drive a car, gets in an accident and is in a coma, so the other brother (who happens to be gay) must then assume his brother’s identity to straighten out a loan situation in Thailand.  Sort of broad-minded in its treatment of homosexuality.
The Making of South Park:  6 Days to Air (2011) *** - Documentary on how a South Park episode is made.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) *** - Humphrey Bogart goes slowly crazy over gold.  I really don’t see what the big deal about this movie was.  However, it did allow me to learn about the actor Tim Holt.
Rope (1948) **** - Experimental Hitchcock film where everything is done in 10 minute takes.  Some people consider this a flop and not a great Hitch movie, but I strongly disagree.
North by Northwest (1959) **** - Another classic Hitchcock movie.
Vertigo (1958) *** - Disagree on this one too, as a lot of people think this is his greatest work.  Technically, it is wonderful, but the plot of an obsessed Stewart is unsettling.  See my entry above on Young Adult.
Rear Window (1954) ***** - I think Hitch’s best movie is Notorious, but this one is second in my book.
Jaws (1975) **** - The first blockbuster, and a wonderful character study.  My favorite Spielberg film. (These were Xmas presents)
3 Women (1977) ** - Commentary
Black Narcissus (1947) *** - Commentary
The Barefoot Contessa (1954) * - Third Bogey movie I watched this break, and biggest disappointment.  Did not finish.
Genghis Blues (1999) **** - Interesting documentary about a blind American blues musician that goes to Tuva to compete in a throatsinging contest.
Skyfall (2012) **** - Yes, I did actually make it to a physical movie theater this break!  Amazing!  Good Bond film, but aspects of it kept me from liking it more.
The Big Combo (1955) ** - Noir film about a cop trying to catch a crook.  Nothing really special, and the copy Netflix is streaming is sort of a mess (it was like watching an old VHS tape).
The Kite Runner (2007) *** - I’ve never read the novel, but I’ve had this in my cue forever and finally got it out of the way.  Ending seemed implausible, but whatever.

Probably the best viewing experience I had this holiday was not a movie (although the Hitchcock stuff is great).  It was a video game called Journey.  It’s from the same people who made Cloud and Flower, and it was amazing.  The fact that you join up with people you do not know and cannot really communicate with but become invested in their progress with you was something I’ve never experienced before, and the game is gorgeous.

No comments:

Post a Comment