Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Longest Netflix Wrapup Ever

For the sake of completion, some quick thoughts - in some cases, very quick - on movies we've watched on Netflix or Netflix Streaming in the past few months, and I didn't say anything about.

The Secret Life of Bees - Really, really good.  I hope that Dakota Fanning doesn't spend the rest of her career in stuff like the "Twilight" movies.  Although only 14 when this was filmed, she is fully formed as an actress, and completely convincing as Lily Owens, a young girl on a quest to find out more about her dead mother in 1964 South Carolina.  Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo are all outstanding as the Boatwright sisters, and Paul Bettany is frightening as Lily's angry, limited father.  Jennifer Hudson rounds out the cast as Rosaleen, the family maid and cook who joins Lily on her journey.

Muriel's Wedding - Some sharp edges and a very interesting performance from a very young Toni Colette make this more interesting than your usual "young women coming of age/ugly duckling" story.

Step Up - Entirely predictable but entertaining "rags to riches" dance story starring Channing Tatum.  I don't know what he thinks about this one today, but at least he met his wife while filming it.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - This one certainly generated a lot of strong opinions.  Not entirely unsuccessful, but not entirely believable either.  The young boy's quest never quite rang true for me, mostly because the sight of a young boy wandering around New York City seemed a little too good to be true.  The most effective (and affecting) scenes are the flashbacks with Tom Hanks, although Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright and Max Von Sydow all turned in strong supporting performances.  And, Sandra Bullock did the best she could with a somewhat thankless role.

Mamma Mia! - Fun, light, and entertaining.  Sort of like ABBA music.

The Women on the Sixth Floor - French film; the women in question are the day workers who, as hard as their employers may want to deny it, are also human beings with lives and feelings of their own.  Sometimes it ventures into melodrama, but overall very good.

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Noomi Rapace was pretty good in this role as well, folks.  The story is not quite as strong as the first book/film, but still very good and well worth watching.

Lost in Translation - One of my favorite movies.  Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson are amazing.

Bronson -  Volcanic performance by Tom Hardy as a man with anger issues.  And trust me, "anger" doesn't do his issues justice.  Hard to watch at times, but fascinating for that performance alone.  And, apparently based on a true story.  The stylistic kind of film that Nicholas Winding Refn has become famous for.

Dan in Real Life - I used to say that I couldn't understand why Steve Carell was so popular, but over time (and watching a lot more of "The Office" than I had at the time) I've really come to appreciate him.  He's very good in this, the story of a family coming together at the family compound, bringing with them all of their quirks and their issues.  Dan meets woman, quickly falls in love with woman, and then finds out woman (Juliette Binoche) is his brother's girlfriend.  Dane Cook is also good as the brother, and the always reliable Dianne Weist and John Mahoney are excellent as the quirky parents.  And of course, they all live happily ever after.

Taking Woodstock - Very enjoyable Ang Lee film about the days leading up to Woodstock, focusing on the young man (Demetri Martin) who played a key role in making it all happen, even though he wasn't quite sure what was happening around him a good part of the time.

Dark City - Nice slice of dark science fiction.  We watched the director's cut, which wisely omitted the ridiculous voice-over that pretty much gives everything away in the movie's first few minutes.

Burke and Hare - Odd little movie starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis as 19th century grave robbers who figure out a way to make a little money with their schemes.  Directed by John Landis, of "Animal House" fame.  Not bad, but a bit on the strange side.

30 Minutes or Less - Directed by Ruben Fleischer, but not as good as "Zombieland," his previous effort.  Two dimwitted would-be criminal masterminds strap a bomb onto the chest of Jesse Eisenberg, who then has to rob a bank for them - or else.  One of those movies that tries to find humor in situations that aren't really funny, and it only works about half the time.  Aziz Ansari is the best part of it.

The Warriors - Pretty famous cult movie, but I'd never seen it before.  Interesting to see an old film like this and compare those who were supposed to become stars with those who really did.  Glad I saw it, but I won't be putting it on my regular rotation.

I may have missed a couple, but that pretty much brings me up to date.


le0pard13 said...

Did you see the theatrical cut of 'The Warriors', or Walter Hill's later director's cut (with its comic book motif and more obvious allusions to the ancient Greek tale of Anabasis)? I still prefer the former.

Jeff Vaca said...

It was the Director's cut - my sons told me about the controversy over it, and I'm not sure what it added to the proceedings.