Final Month of my 2011 resolution! I've gone to type this 3 times now, looked at the number of movies on the list and gotten overwhelmed and shut the window again. I watched 11 movies this month. Eleven! I guess I wanted to end with a grand finale. My 2 NYR films were Ghost and Shadow of the Thin Man. I then watched 9 more for the fun of it! Thor, Hellboy, The Adjustment Bureau, Once Upon a Christmas, It's a Wonderful World, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Supersize Me, Warrior, and Morning Glory. Ready? Go!
Ghost (1990, Jerry Zucker). I've seen bits and pieces of this since it came out, (the penny scene, for one) but never the whole thing (which is why it was on my list). I enjoyed it, I liked seeing how all the pieces I'd already seen fit together, and Whoopi was hilarious. Not gonna lie, the dark-shapes-dragging-bad-men-to-hell was freaky, no special effects needed there to get the point across! Bonus: now I know what scene was being spoofed in Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death! See, this is why I'm doing this in the first place, so I get all those references! Yay.
Shadow of the Thin Man (1941, W.S. Van Dyke) This was the last Thin Man film in the series that I had yet to see. (I thought the last one, Thin Man Goes Home, was on my list too but about 15 minutes into it I realized I had indeed seen it. I watched it anyway because hey, William Powell!) This particular one dealt with murder at a horse-racing track and the ensuing adventures thereafter. In my opinion, not as good as some of the previous ones but still amusing in its own right. The first Thin Man is still my favorite: "If this rampage of respectability keeps up, we'll have to get you a bullet-proof girdle!"
Thor (2011, Kenneth Branagh). I've been wanting to see this since I saw the previews, mostly because I love anything Natalie Portman's in and I'm a sucker for a good superhero movie. The storyline could have used some beefing up, the effects were good but the film as a whole kind of lacked the knockout punch to make it a really great film. I loved that Branagh brought his Shakespearean background to the dialogue, it made for some interesting depth with the immortal characters' speech. The scene (spoiler alert!) where Odin kicks out Thor was pretty emotional, a very lifelike father-son moment and I thought it was very well done. I wanted more character development for Thor, though, they made him go from "banished spoiled boy" to "self-sacrificing hero" a little too fast without enough development between. When he can't retrieve his own hammer, he's clearly upset, and Loki's lies that his father is dead and he can never come back obviously impact him, but in the breakfast scene he nonchalantly serves everyone else breakfast like he knows what he's doing. He's a god, for crying out loud, he wouldn't have the first clue how to do that no matter how depressed he is about his father's supposed death. They should have expanded the scene a bit to show him realizing that he's lost his power, his family, and his life as he knew it, (facial expressions, people! they work!) and maybe he's sitting there waiting to be served (like he has his entire life) and he realizes then that he doesn't deserve to be waited on, and maybe he takes the dishes from Darcy. Yeah, they should have made a slightly bigger deal about him taking the dishes from Darcy. Or perhaps included another scene that shows him realizing (and not just talking about) how horribly he's behaved to get himself to this point. The story line between Thor and Jane, though? Oh my word, so cute. I LOVE that he kisses her hand. And "I'll be back for you, I swear it"......swoon.
Hellboy (2004, Guillermo Del Toro) was pretty much exactly what I expected. Cheesy one-liners, decent special effects, an okay film. Nothing super special but not terrible, plus it had a cute love story between Hellboy and Selma Blair's character. Bogie informed me there was a sequel, I'll probably watch it to see where the story line goes.
The Adjustment Bureau (2011, George Nolfi) had in interesting premise, but it didn't live up to its own potential. Don't get me wrong, the acting was good, the plot was good, everything worked well but it just didn't wow me. The concept of an "adjustment bureau" being in existence is quite intriguing and makes for an interesting topic of conversation, but the film couldn't decide if it wanted to be a sci-fi or a romantic movie. And it couldn't manage to be both. Bonus for Anthony Mackie, though, he's one of my husband's favorite character actors and we were both pleased to see him in this film. Yay for being a good guy! I did like the fact that the movie drove home the point that you always have a choice, regardless of who is telling you what you can and cannot do. You make your own choices.
Once Upon a Christmas (2000, Tibor Takacs). My excuse is that it was December...had to watch at least one cheesy Hallmark movie, right? This one was a bit of a there's-an-hour-and-a-half-I'll-never-get-back. Okay, not a bit. A lot. The Santa's Daughter theme has been pretty overdone, but then you toss in the "saving christmas" plotline and pair it with Santa's oldest daughter is evil (how could she not be with a name like Rudolfa? poor girl) and you have Christmas Cheese to the Nth degree. The acting was meh, I believed I've already mentioned what I think of the plot, and since when is the tooth-fairy a lisping flamboyant cross-dresser? You only wish I was making that up. I cleansed my eyes & brain with White Christmas. And then followed up with A Charlie Brown Christmas. Ahhhh, that's better.
It's a Wonderful World (1939, W.S. Van Dyke) was amusing, standard 30's-40's fare. Jimmy Stewart and Claudette Colbert are thrown together in the midst of a murder-mystery. He's a lawyer for a framed man, she's a poet in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are mistaken identities, disguises, boy scouts, a play, fake accents, and even a Happily Ever After. Predictable but cute.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011, Michael Bay). Let's see...it wasn't as bad as the second one? I figured out why these movies bug me so much (besides the standard Michael Bay Explosions-Are-Way-Better-Than-Actual-Acting). If you know me, you know that I love to watch cheesy sci-fi movies (and if you didn't, now you do!) We're talking the really bad ones, with horrible acting, terrible jokes, cheesy punchlines and laughable special effects. The Transformers movies are exactly that: Terrible B movies with first rate CGI/special effects. Don't get me wrong, I love special effects as much as any movie buff, but they should never EVER (take notes, Bay!) take the place of actual acting and a decent screenplay. They should be a side dish meant to compliment and enhance, not replace the main course. I did find it quite fascinating that everyone got incredibly dirty and bloody except the hot blonde in white. Now that's talent! I was also quite grateful that there were no humping 'bots, or 'bot balls, but slightly less terrible than atrocious still doesn't make a good film.
Super Size Me (2004, Morgan Spurlock). I'd seen bits and pieces of this, and knew the premise but I was still surprised by how quickly he got run down/overweight/sick. I mean everybody knows that fast food isn't good for you, but THAT bad? What in the world do you have to do to food to make eating it hazardous to your health?? The only part that really shocked me was the addiction and depression he experienced. Again, what crap do you have to put in food to make it alter not only your body but your mind? I know he focused on McDonald's, but it goes for pretty much any fast food place. Bogie and I were (and still are) on a diet at the time we watched this, but if we were eating any junk food this film would have been enough to make me quit it for good! Yuck. I think my favorite part was the school for troubled kids that changed their entire menu to fresh whole foods and saw a huge change in all the kids just from changing their diet! I think our diets play a much bigger part on our health that we realize, as evidenced by the change (good and bad) in mental states depending on what is being eaten. I can personally attest to this as we experimented with D-man's diet (to resolve some tummy issues) by taking him off gluten for a week. After 4 days his gut issues resolved, proving it was a gluten sensitivity, but what really shocked me was the change in personality/attitude. He wasn't super grumpy before and we frequently described him as laid back and chill, but once he was off gluten he was much less grumpy and waaaaaaay more feisty and talkative. He's spouting out words left and right, running all over the place, much more alert, has lots more attitude (which occasionally earns him a time-out) and is standing up to his sister more. It's not that he wasn't talking or standing up for himself before, but he's doing it so much more now it's amazing. He's so much happier now and since we had nothing else to compare it to we just didn't know how much better it could get! Moral of the story: cut some crap out of your diet and see what improves!
Warrior (2011, Gavin O'Connor). Fighting isn't really my thing, which might explain why I haven't watched Rocky yet (so much sweat and slow motion....), but I enjoyed this film. There were several factors (including the ending) that kept it from being exceptional, but overall it was well filmed, well acted, and well executed. They went for the fairytale ending instead of the realistic ending, which could have had just as much of an impact, and it seemed to end too abruptly with no follow-through on some of the story lines. I was irritated with how it ended, but after thinking about the ending for a while I decided it was better not to do the follow-through, it made for a better ending by being left open.
Morning Glory (2010, Roger Michell). This was a cute little film with an uncommon plot. Rachel McAdams' character, Becky Fuller, was pushed in our faces a little too much (as Bogie put it, "okay, we get it, she's spastic") but it fit with the story. The story of keeping a struggling TV show on the air definitely kept my interest, and once the film got going I was easily engrossed. Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton were fun to watch, especially when their characters started fighting with each other. Becky's personal life seemed a little out of place because the story didn't do much by way of developing her character except for the spazziness. If they had delved into her character a bit more and eased up on the ditzy energetic bit, the film would have been excellent.
And there you have it! 11 films for December brings my grand total of viewed-for-the-first-time films for 2011 to 42! I loved this resolution for several reasons, it was enjoyable, realistic, and I got to watch movies! I think I'm going to do it again for 2012, but I'll discuss this next year's resolutions in another post.
Star Trek, King Kong, Tangled, and Thor are my favorite films out of the 42. King Kong is just classic, Star Trek and Thor were great (fun fact: Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor, also played Kirk's father in Star Trek. They did a great job of choosing actors who looked alike, because he and Chris Pine could definitely be related!) and Tangled was oh-my-word-so-cute. I have some of the songs saved onto a Pandora station, and I might have DVRd it just so I could rewatch the lantern scene.
I hope you enjoyed reading my reviews, let me know which films you've seen and which were your favorites! Did I inspire you to watch any films that you normally wouldn't have?