Ok, I’ll admit it. I have always secretly yearned to be a film critic. Roger Ebert, in my view, has the greatest career ever. He excels at what he does and what he does is watch movies (awesome) and then write about them with eloquence and style (even more awesome). Alas, I am not Roger Ebert. But I won’t let that stop me from offering my unsolicited opinions of the first ten films of my 31 Days, 31 Movies challenge.
People have suggested that this movie is slow or too long but I did not feel that way in the least. I was riveted by the dialogue, the acting, the conundrum of getting legislation, important legislation passed by all means necessary. I watched unblinkingly at the compromises, the casualties and the humanity of a deified President. The cast is superb. Excellence all around.
2. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson is not my favorite director. His work is highly stylized and the style just doesn’t suit me. This story, however, did charm me! The plight of young outcasts finding love and redemption was warming to my soul.
3. Silver Linings Playbook
I love that this movie took itself seriously enough to be funny. I love that all of the characters moved and evolved even the tiniest bit. I love that even though you had a sense of where the story was heading, you did not know how it was going to get there. I love that it showed us all that Romantic Comedy can be a quality genre. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. (sorry, couldn’t resist … high five to you if you get the reference, and apologies if you don’t).
But, seriously, this is simply a lovely film.
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
My sister asked me if I liked this film and I answered with an emphatic yes! But I really don’t know how to describe or explain its simple beauty. (see above: I am not Roger Ebert) It is a quiet tale of loud strength. It is mystical yet of the earth. See it so we can talk about it!
5. Les Miserables
Les Miserables is a magnificent story. I adore the stage production and the music, so of course I enjoyed watching the film version. Did I think it was worthy? Nearly.
Of the four actors who received top billing, only one came close to delivering for me. Hugh Jackman is the real deal and his performance, especially in the first act, was grand. But his rendition of Bring Him Home made me want to close my eyes and ears and retreat into my happy place of the first time I ever heard that song. The other “name” actors are all good actors but you must be able to act and sing at the same time when doing a musical. Anne Hathaway belted her acting but didn’t use the song to convey the emotion. I Dreamed a Dream is an iconic song, if you must cry through it, fine, but use the emotion to SING. It can be done, just watch Eponine and Marius, both of whom I enjoyed far more than any of the movie stars. Russell Crowe seemed daunted by the singing and so the strength of Javert was lacking. Amanda Seyfried was fine but I got a little squeamish each time a high note was coming.
Things looked up when the young revolutionary soldiers came into play. They could act and sing and the beautiful score was properly served by these young men! The child actors were also a highlight.
The main criticism I have of this film is that it is not the stage version I saw in 1989 and does not star those same marvelous actors who sang so brilliantly. And really, that is not its fault. Or is it?
Before there was Team Edward or Jacob, there was the Matt or Ben debate. I was always firmly in Matt’s corner, but Ben is swaying my heart.
Wow. I knew nothing of this particular chapter in the Iran Hostage Crisis and the story was perfectly told. You really felt as if you were in that era, watching it play out. They did a remarkable job on set design, costumes, props and even the film stock seemed period appropriate. These details really helped to pull you in and keep you on the edge of your seat. A great film because it had a great director. (I am currently not speaking to the Academy for failing to nominate Ben Affleck for a Best Director Oscar. Crazy.)
7. Hope Springs
The previews of this movie made it seem like a Romantic Comedy and many people were disappointed by its more serious tone. I actually wish it had been more serious. The topic of faded intimacy in a marriage is a very real topic. You have two tremendous actors plus Steve Carrell, who is just a pleasure to watch always. There was great potential here. But I think the movie was afraid to go too deep. I am not suggesting it should have been without levity, but it seemed to apologize for itself in a way that left me wanting.
Bernie tells a true story that is truly hard to believe. It is colorfully told given that it is a dark comedy. Jack Black is very good in the title role and the townsfolk are priceless. I enjoyed it but was troubled by it at the same time. This is why I don’t do too well with black comedy. I tend to focus on the dark part.
I love me a story about the courage to follow your heart. In Brave, our heroine has several suitors (selected by her parents) contesting her hand in marriage. She puts herself in the contest right along with them to fight for her own hand, her own choices. That is so up my alley. The message was fabulous, kids movies are very good at reminding us of simple truths. It is not as good as many of the other fine Pixar and Disney films, but the message still sang to me.
10. Life of Pi
Breathtaking. Really, in scope and content it took my breath away. I just finished watching it a few hours ago and I am still processing it. While I process, perhaps you might enjoy Roger Ebert’s review. I make it a point to wait until after I have seen a film to read what he has written. In the case of Life of Pi, he and I are totally on the same page, but his page is far superior. Enjoy.
The Oscar nominations came out today and I have seen six of the Best Picture nominees in my first ten days. Hope I didn’t peak too early!
21 movies to go. Yipee!