Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Movies I Saw In June 2012

Here we go. I'm back to my preferred movie-watching schedule, i.e. LOTS AND LOTS OF MOVIES. I watched 20 this month, and here they are. All star ratings are out of 5.

Never Let Me Go (2010). 4 stars. Mostly a romance, but it has some fascinating plot elements that I don't really want to get into for fear of spoiling it. Wonderful story with some very, very good acting, even from actors I don't like.

Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road (2002). 2 1/2 stars. Bizarre road trip movie starring James Marsden as someone attempting to deliver a mysterious package on a nonexistent highway. Completely strange and usually ridiculous, but somehow kind of charming in spite of itself.

Take Shelter (2011). 4 1/2 stars. Michael Shannon plays a man who isn't sure whether his feelings of impending doom are legitimate or a sign that he's losing it. Incredible script, incredible acting, ultimately very powerful story.

Marathon Man (1976). 2 1/2 stars. Thriller featuring Dustin Hoffman as someone who gets unintentionally mixed up in a dangerous situation involving priceless diamonds and an ex-Nazi. Doesn't really get going until halfway through the movie, but from that point on it's a lot of fun.

Ulysses (1967). 1 star. Based on the James Joyce novel. This is a difficult movie to follow, with storytelling techniques that are very original but also very disorienting. This may be a great movie, but for me was an extremely uncomfortable experience.

The Yellow Handkerchief (2008). 2 stars. William Hurt, Kristen Stewart, and Eddie Redmayne go on a road trip for, uh... no real reason. Nothing special or interesting to see here, but it's not painful.

The Duellists (1977). 3 1/2 stars. Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine star as two men in Napoleonic (hey, Blogger says that's a word! I just made it up! Cool!) France who are engaged in a neverending duel. Still can't articulate exactly what I liked about this movie - it's just an interesting story.

The Band Wagon (1953). 3 1/2 stars. Musical about trying to write a musical, starring Fred Astaire. Really entertaining for the most part, but it loses its way about 2/3 of the way through and never really finds its footing again.

The Score (2001). 2 1/2 stars. Robert De Niro and Edward Norton planning a heist. Not super interesting as far as heist movies go, but I love Edward Norton so much that it was totally worth it for me.

Inglourious Basterds (2009). 4 1/2 stars. Several interweaving stories about groups of people trying to kill Nazis. Hugely imaginative, tremendously fun, unexpectedly hilarious - one of the most purely entertaining movies I have ever seen. A second watch could potentially bump this up to 5 stars.

Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (2003). 3 stars. Uma Thurman goes to hunt down the people who tried to kill her and did kill her unborn child. I really wanted to like this, since I'd liked Inglourious Basterds so much, but I was really unhappy with how much bloody violence was in this one. The movie is so very stylish, though, and so fascinating... I just wish there were few blood geysers shooting out of people.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011). 3 stars. A young girl escapes from a cultlike family to return to her sister's house. Well written and interesting, but doesn't really seem to go anywhere, and I'm not sure at all how I feel about the final scene.

My Week With Marilyn (2011). 3 1/2 stars. A young man just starting out in the movie business works on a Marilyn Monroe picture and gets to spend quite a lot of time with Marilyn. My movie review of this got a comment describing the movie as "very warm and truthful," which is exactly correct. It's not going to go in any of my "best of all time" lists, but it's a very warm movie.

Saving Private Ryan (1998). 3 1/2 stars. Tom Hanks and crew is sent on a World War II mission to find a soldier whose three brothers were killed in combat and bring him home. This movie feels much more personal that most war movies, and I found myself really engrossed in the story. Well done.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011). 3 1/2 stars. Remake of the 2009 Swedish thriller about a journalist and a computer hacker working together to solve a mystery. I liked it a bit more than the original, but didn't like Daniel Craig as much as the original actor in that part.

Faces (1968). 1 star. The story of a dissolving marriage... although I had to find out on IMDb that that was the main idea, because this movie wanders all over the place and half the time the camera work is such that I couldn't even tell you what was happening. I definitely didn't get this movie at all.

Bridesmaids (2011). 3 1/2 stars. Female-centered comedy about rivalries and jealousies and hijinks in a bridal party. Pretty entertaining, and Chris O'Dowd is very charming as the love interest, but it's not a movie that's going to stick with me.

Marie Antoinette (2006). 3 stars. Kirsten Dunst plays Marie Antoinette in this biopic that follows her throughout her time in France. Interesting, but very emotionally distant and cold, which kept me from liking it as much as I wanted to.

Nowhere Boy (2009). 4 stars. Biopic of John Lennon's youth and early forming of the band that eventually became the Beatles. Well written and interesting, but not spectacular.

Mrs. Brown (1997). 4 stars. Story of the friendship between Queen Victoria and her personal servant John Brown. A very moving story, with great acting and very interesting characters.

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