Weekly Round-Up: March 20-26, 2016

  • Beach Party (1963) – The one that started it all. Delightful pop musical introducing us to the cast of kids led by Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in their prime, with a terrific soundtrack featuring the two leads plus Dick Dale and His Del-Tones. This isn’t a masterpiece, but a wholly enjoyable piece of 1960s kitsch. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Thor (2011) – I couldn’t believe how much I liked this movie. The arrogant Norse god Thor is stripped of his powers and banished to Earth, but this “fish out of water” story is consistently endearing and compelling. His brother Loki is my favorite Marvel villain to date, and Natalie Portman also delivers a strong performance as a determined physicist. RECOMMENDED.
  • Eating Raoul (1982) – Still in love with this wacky comedy, one of the sweetest and cleanest movies about very adult subject matter. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • In the Realm of the Senses (1976) – A very dirty movie about very adult subject matter. This round (my third or fourth time watching), the musical moments stuck with me the most, melodies underlying the desperate passion the couple has for one another. RECOMMENDED.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Complex and moving story of a “kid from Brooklyn” becoming a powerful hero. Like Thor, this movie is heightened by strong characters and a layered narrative. RECOMMENDED.
  • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) – I was reminded why people make fun of this one, but several moments (particularly the “Duel of the Fates” climax) are genuinely thrilling Star Wars moments. Definitely worth watching, even in spite of Mr. Binks. RECOMMENDED.

What did you see four weeks ago??

Advertisements

Weekly Round-Up: March 06-12, 2016

Sorry for the slow posts!

Two weeks ago, I saw:

  • I Knew Her Well (1965) – Very strong drama following a struggling model/actress in Rome. This has been referred to as “the female La Dolce Vita,” which it isn’t, as its overall mood and feel is more jolting and less dreamlike and flowing. Knockout performance by lead Stefania Sandrelli and featuring a terrific 1960s pop soundtrack. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • The Graduate (1967) – Full disclosure, this is probably my favorite movie of the 1960s. An essential American coming-of-age story with visionary direction and the powerful songs of Simon & Garfunkel. REQUIRED.
  • The Hunting Ground (2015) – Deeply troubling documentary on the campus rape crisis occurring at universities around the country, and the lack of response by administrations to put a stop to it. RECOMMENDED.
  • Poltergeist (1982) – This movie terrified me as a child, and it still doesn’t sit well with me today. The haunted house genre is pushed a step further with ghosts terrorizing and attacking children (not at all entertaining, to be frank) though its iconic visuals and genuinely scary moments are certainly commendable. NOT RECOMMENDED.

What did you see (not last week, but) two weeks ago?

Weekly Round-Up: January 10-16, 2016

Big week last week, between the Golden Globe awards and the Academy Award nominations announcement – awards season has officially begun and I’ve got my work cut out for me as far as seeing all the nominees!

Last week, I saw:

  • Descendants (2015) – Terrifically addictive Disney Channel Original Movie about the kids of Disney villains & heroes all going to high school together. RECOMMENDED.
  • 45 Years (2015) – Heartbreaking drama about an older couple dealing with the resurgence of the husband’s long-lost love in their lives. Delicately told and superbly acted. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – Well-constructed action-adventure film brought down by an overly repetitive plot and weak script. NOT RECOMMENDED.
  • Eating Raoul (1982) – Wonderfully demented black comedy about a straight-edge couple who devise a plot to raise money for their dream restaurant by killing the swingers who torment them. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Mistress America (2015) – Disappointing comedy from the Frances Ha dream-team of Greta Gerwig & Noam Baumbach about the burgeoning friendship between a college freshman and her big stepsister-to-be. Intriguing premise is brought down by an unwatchable third act, with overacting galore and pacing that’s suited more for stage and less for film. NOT RECOMMENDED.
  • Tangled (2010) – One of my favorite contemporary animated films, this is a perfect pivot blend of traditional Disney storytelling and modern computer animation, with a terrific script and music to boot. REQUIRED.
  • Spotlight (2015) – I’m guessing the hype around this movie is more the importance of the subject matter and not for the, uh, film itself. Formulaic journalistic drama about Boston Globe reporters investigating the Catholic Church’s involvement in & implicit support of abuse cases. This operates in The Hills style of storytelling, where scenes transpire followed by a scene of people recapping what we just saw. NOT RECOMMENDED.

What did you see last week? How do you feel about the Oscar noms?

Weekly Round-Up: January 03-09, 2016

Happy New Year! Now that we’re post-holidays, we get back to “ordinary time” and a more regular cadence of movie-watching. 🙂

Last week, I saw:

  • In Cold Blood (1967) – Genuinely creepy, though occasionally slow crime drama. This was especially fun to watch as I’d just finished the In Cold Blood novel days earlier. RECOMMENDED.
  • Inside Out (2015) – First time watching this with audio commentary by Pete Docter & Ronnie del Carmen. Really enjoyable, with lots of tidbits and occasional meanderings (like calling up Bill Hader and Michael Giacchino mid-way). REQUIRED.
  • Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991) – Love her or hate her (I fall into the camp of the former), Madonna is a true tour de force of entertainment and this documentary is a terrific look into her insane lifestyle. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Music of the Heart (1940) – My first film viewing from the Rita Hayworth set I was gifted over the holidays, this is a charming musical comedy (with unexpected racism) about a talented singer on the verge of deportation, who finds refuge among the immigrants of the Lower East Side. RECOMMENDED.
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – One of my favorite contemporary films. Genuinely moving and tremendously uplifting romantic comedy-drama. REQUIRED.
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) – I hadn’t gotten around to finishing this (despite several attempts) until this viewing – glad I had, as this musical comedy is a menagerie of satirical characters, particularly an evangelical “consumer rights advocate” and the indecisive Texas governor. I’m surprised this hasn’t become a cult classic a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horrors, as this film similarly blends raunchy comedy with sweet, earnest characters. RECOMMENDED.

Also, honorable mentions for Mad Max (the original) and Capote, both of which I started but couldn’t finish.

What did you see last week?