15 January 2011

How to Train Your Dragon (Chris Sanders & Dean DuBlois, 2010)

Another overpraised mainstream movie I didn't get, I suppose. I thought it was a big boring mess. The animation feels as wooden and lifeless as the inconsequential plot. It occurs to me that the one curious thing about the movie is there weren't any adult female characters. I didn't believe the relationship between the kid and the dragon so much. And I guess I didn't really care about any of it. C-

13 January 2011

Red (Robert Schwentke, 2010)

It's poorly written and ridiculous. It's morally inconsistent and places too low a value on human life. Nonetheless, it manages to be engaging throughout. C-

Cell 211 / Celda 211 (Daniel Monzón, 2009, Spain)

Gosh, on the one hand it's a genre film. It's a movie about a prison riot and it features many of the expected tropes. Unlike A Prophet though, its production values are probably more in line with those of a made for television movie. Still, it really won me over. Beautiful Juan has left his pregnant wife at home so he can go in for a sort of orientation at this prison where he'll be working. He finds himself in the middle of a prison riot and poses as a prisoner. The prisoners are using a guard and three Basque prisoners as hostages. There are all sorts of moral and political considerations at play.
I sit here after watching the movie feeling really moved, pretty close to tears. It's interesting the way the film sets up the guards as civilized and the inmates as animals throughout most of the first twenty minutes. I mean, I was prepared for the inevitable reversal but I really found it to be done suavely. I appreciated the moral complexity, as most American mainstream films are about as morally complex as a tater tot. A-

12 January 2011

The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (Jodie Markell, 2009)

The reviews weren't great for this but it was more interesting than most mainstream American movies I saw this year, in the way uneven indie dramas tend to be. The piece is very Tennessee Williams. It's lurid and sentimental yet possesses a compelling sensitivity in moments. There's the diva at the center and the play between wealthy and working class. There's madness and decadence. I'm not sure how well it was carried off though. It seems intriguingly anachronistic, with certain elements seeming too contemporary and of course I couldn't stop trying to imagine how it would have been handled had it been produced in 1957 when it was written. It's a pretty film though. The lead actress is particularly lovely, though I did remark that she looked like someone had put Debbie Harry's makeup on a much younger face. This certainly isn't one of Tennessee's best and I doubt much will linger with me but I liked it in the way I enjoy his lesser short stories. By the way, if you happen to read this and you haven't read any of Tennessee Williams's short stories I'd highly recommend that you seek them out because they're really lovely, many of them. C

11 January 2011

2010 in Review at a Glance

I didn't do a great job of keeping up with this journal over the last year but here's my little summary of 2010.

There is, for various reasons, a bit of overlap between this year's and last year's lists. I have to say, the year doesn't seem so impressive to me. It seems like people's standards are going down. Que penses tu?

Loved it
Another Year
Dogtooth (Greece)
The Illusionist (France)
Lourdes (France)
A Prophet (France)

Really liked it
Ajami (Israel/Palestine)
Animal Kingdom
Black Swan
Blue Valentine
Brotherhood (Denmark)
A Call Girl (aka, A Slovenian Girl) (Slovenia)
Casino Jack and the United States of Money
Cell 211 (Spain)
The Chaser (South Korea)
A Farewell to Hemingway (Bulgaria)
Fish Tank
Gordos (Spain)
Guidance (Sweden)
Harlan: In the Shadow of Jud Suss (Germany)
I Am Love (Italy)
Inside Job
Jack Goes Boating
Mary and Max
Milk of Sorrow (Peru)
Mother (South Korea)
The Other Irene (Romania)
Prima Primavera (Hungary)
Please Give
Rabbit Hole
Soul at Peace (Slovakia)
Tron: Legacy 3D
Winter’s Bone

Liked it
The American
Easy A
Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl (Portugal)
Everyone Else (Germany)
The Girl Who Played with Fire (Sweden)
Harry Brown
The Kids Are All Right
The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond
Love and Other Drugs
Micmacs (France)
Red Riding: 1974
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
The Secret of Kells
The Social Network
Storm (Germany)
Shutter Island
Vision: The Life of Hildegard von Bingen (Germany)
Wild Grass (France)
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

It was okay
127 Hours
Bluebeard (France)
Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Collectress (Lithuania)
December Heat (Estonia)
Despicable Me
Eyes Wide Open (Israel)
The Fighter
The Ghost Writer
Hadewijch (France)
How to Train Your Dragon
I Love You Phillip Morris
I’m Still Here
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Knight & Day
The Tourist
Zero (Poland)

Chameleon (Hungary)
Date Night
Disengagement (France/Israel)
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Green Zone
House of Boys (Luxembourg)
The Killer Inside Me
The King’s Speech
The Last Station
The Misfortunates (Belgium)
Never Let Me Go
Soul Kitchen (Germany)
The Town
True Grit
Whiskey with Vodka (Germany)
The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner (Bulgaria)

Didn’t like it
Alice in Wonderland
Around a Small Mountain (France)
The Bounty Hunter
Enter the Void
Get Him to the Greek (or did I HATE it?)
Leaves of Grass
Let Me In
Sex and the City 2
Toy Story 3

Hated it
Casino Jack (and the united states of kevin spacey)
The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina/Hell)
Slaves in Their Bonds (Greece/Hades)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Wall Street/Hollywood)