Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category

Off The Map

31 May 2010 at 9:19 pm
by Berck

Off The Map is one of the best movies I’ve seen in years. Highly recommended.

Down by Law

12 March 2010 at 8:26 pm
by Berck

Jonah and I just watched this delightful little movie. I kept thinking that Tom Waits seemed awfully young in it, and was astounded when the movie ended with a Copyright 1986. It’s way ahead of its time, and worth a watch.

It’s shot on black and white, and is one of the best-looking films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s high quality film and processing, something you don’t see anymore on Indie films since everything’s all the digital, so that was a treat.

Two Good Indie Movies

12 December 2009 at 11:59 pm
by Berck

Away We Go and Sunshine Cleaning. It’s so nice when I stumble on good indie movies after watching so many bad ones. This is not, however, a blanket recommendation. Those of you that like things to happen in your movies (Nathan, Kelsey), probably won’t like it.

Synecdoche, NY

7 June 2009 at 9:01 pm
by Berck

I have mixed feelings about Charlie Kaufman’s work. I loved Adaptation, but consider Being John Malkovich to be one of the worst movies of all time. I’ve seen all of his movies, and I’ll probably keep watching, but I hope they get better.

He can be terribly entertaining, but usually he’s wasting time trying to be profound. I understood Synecdoche, NY just fine, but I didn’t really like it. It’s not that the idea isn’t worth exploring, but it can be done in better ways. Aside from a scene early on in the movie, Synecdoche was not entertaining. I think many people will hate the movie simply because they don’t understand it, which is a perfectly valid reason to dislike it. It’s not easily understood, but I don’t think that understanding it makes it much better.

It could just be that I’m in a foul mood and would have liked it better if I were happier at the moment, but I’m not and didn’t. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who’s bothered by non-coherent plots. Many people (Kelsey, for instance, and possibly Ben) will think it’s absolutely brilliant. As for me, I think Charlie Kaufman is a little too self-absorbed.

Some movies we’ve liked lately (and a few we didn’t)

4 March 2008 at 11:25 am
by Berck

It occurred to me last night we’ve seen some really pretty good movies in the past few months. Considering we often watch a lot of not-so-good movies, I figured it’s time to share again.

Angel-A. It gets an A. A black and white French film that actually works in black and white. The star is the little grocery delivery guy in Amelie. It was charming, sexy, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

Vitus. A-. The sort of movie my mother would like. The main character is a piano wunderkind, and they actually got a real 12-year piano prodigy to play the part. Fortunately, though, it’s not just another story about a kid who can play the piano. Or maybe it is, but this one’s worth watching. It’s a Suisse movie in Deutsch.

A Pyromaniac’s Love Story. B. Roger Ebert doesn’t much like this movie, describing it as “Whimsy without wit,” which is perhaps true. I liked it anyway. Whimsy entertains me.

King of California. B+. We enjoyed watching it. It’s not an excellent movie, but it was entertaining and different, and not at all unpleasant to watch. As Roger Ebert said, “We have not seen these characters before, which is a rare gift from a movie.”

Two Days in Paris. B. We like Julie Delpy, and she doesn’t disappoint here. There was something lacking in the movie as a whole, I think, but we did enjoy it.

Speaking of Sex. C+. I got this one because we’ll watch most any Billy Murray movie. It was very silly, but we liked watching it anyway. Certainly not an excellent movie, but not bad for what it was. James Spader does what he does best playing the sexual deviant.

Laurel Canyon. B-. Francis McDormand makes this movie. She plays a record producer who’s obviously been inspired by Joni Mitchell. She plays the exact opposite of her role in Almost Famous, and does so beautifully. Even the director in the commentary seemed absolutely amazed that she could play a hot babe so convincingly, which is not something we’ve seen her do in the past. The actual plot of the movie isn’t as successful as it ought to be, but the trappings are nice.

Walking and Talking. B. Not much plot, but very enjoyable to watch. I’ll quote Roger Ebert again, because he’s better at this sort of thing than I. “How did I feel at the end of “Walking and Talking”? The earth didn’t shake, and I didn’t feel in the presence of great cinema, but I felt cheerful, as if I had gone through some fraught times with good friends and we had emerged intact.”

Akeelah and the Bee. B-. As good as a movie about a spelling bee could possibly be. I expected to be bored with it, but was definitely entertained all the way through.

Waitress. B-. Jonah wanted to see it for the pie recipes, and I ended up liking it as well. The accents weren’t as bad as some I’ve heard. The characters are all very simple in a way, and I like how that makes for neater story. They’re not the sort of people you think actually exist, but are instead almost archetypal, but not archetypes we’ve seen before. If that makes any sense.

Interview. B. I like it when a movie surprises me. Steve Buscemi does his thing well, as usual. The entire movie takes place in the span of a couple hours, which is always something I like, at least when it’s done well.

Sleep with me. B-. It was written by six different people, and it shows. Still fun to watch. Quentin Tarantino shows up at the end and explains why Top Gun is a really movie about homosexuality. The only thing that really annoyed me was the slight hint of ego-stroking that folks who make movies tend to do, acting as though movie-making is a genuinely important and excellent activity. It isn’t.

Back in November we caught up on our Coen brothers. The Ladykillers (A-) is apparently a remake, but other than the coherent ending, you’d never guess it wasn’t originally them. Miller’s Crossing is as typical Coen brothers as you can get. It’s typical film noir about 1930’s gangsters. There’s of course tons of violence, but it’s so over-done that I was laughing out loud at it.

As for movies we didn’t much like: Across the Universe (C-) was a noble attempt to make a musical out of Beatles songs. They succeeded in doing so, but I don’t get the point. I fell asleep and went to bed before it was over. Jonah convinced me to rent Superbad (C-) because we thought 40 Year Old Virgin was funny. Superbad provided a few chuckles but was, in general, not funny. It tries to be over-the-top, but doesn’t even manage that. The plot reads like a failed version of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, but instead of being entertaining in it’s stupdity, is instead just long.

I also didn’t like Sunshine, but Jonah did. It’s because she likes anything vaguely sci-fi. This was really bad sci-fi. I had high hopes for it, too, in that there haven’t been any good sci-fi movies in a long time. This didn’t change that.