Sunday, June 17, 2007

Short Movie Reviews

I see a lot of movies. Thought it'd be fun to throw out some brief reviews of movies I've seen that I've recently seen... and some not so recently.

Knocked Up A

Great comedy by the makers of the 40-year-old virgin (A-). It doesn't really work as a romance, but that doesn't matter because it's so funny.

Volver A

Great Spanish (subtitled) movie starring Penelope Cruz. It's not like many other movies.

Fracture B

Solid thriller starring Anthony Hopkins and one of my favorite young actors, Ryan Gosling. Hopkins and Gosling are better than the movie, but it's worth it to watch them.

Speaking of Gosling...

Half-Nelson A

Gosling plays a high-school teacher with a crack habit who befriends one of his students... and tries to keep her away from the influence of drugs. Great movie.


The Believer A

Gosling plays a Jewish anti-semite, apparently based on a true story.

Spider-Man 3 D

The worst of the trilogy. The action's okay, but the story is poor even for a movie based on a comic book.

Speaking of comics...

American Splendor A

A fantastic movie starring Paul Giamatti as Harvey Pekar, author of the comic book series of the same name.

Ghost World A

Another great movie based on a comic book (graphic novel, really) starring a young (pre-hotness, really) Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch. It's Steve Buscemi who makes the movie, though, as Thora Birch's friend and pseudo-boyfriend. (Think Johansson and Murray in Lost in Translation. [A-])

Shrek the Third C-

Awful. I couldn't wait for it to end. I would have left if I were alone. Not nearly as good as the first two (B and B-, respectively, iirc.)

I Think I Love My Wife B

Interesting film starring Chris Rock as a married man tempted by another woman. n.b. Rock is not his on-stage persona in this film.

The Last King of Scotland B

Forrest Whittaker is great, as usual, playing the charming but ultimately evil real-life dictator Idi Amin. Not for the squeamish -- there are some brutal scenes. (Also, it turns out that Gillian Anderson looks great as a blonde, although she's not in the movie enough.)

The Namesake A

Great drama covering two generations of an Indian-American family. Stars Kal Penn, which reminds me of...

Harold and Kumar go to White Castle A+

Two kids get high and develop a serious craving for some White Castle hamburgers. Hi-jinks ensue. One of the best comedies in years.

Waitress B+

Sweet little movie starring Keri Russell of Felicity and the captain from Serenity and Firefly, an unhappily-married and pregnant Southern waitress with a gift for creative pie baking who meets a young doctor that's everything her controlling husband isn't.

Speaking of which...

Firefly (t.v. series) and Serenity (based on the series) receive an A for science fiction, which is not equivalent to an A in other genres simply because there's so little good science fiction out there.

Once A

Great little movie about an Irish busker and a Czech folk singer who get together and make some great music. Both are in the real-life band The Frames and both are adorable.


Keebo said...
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Jewish Atheist said...

The Believer was one of those movies that doesn't seem that believable... except that it was based on a true story. I think without Gosling it wouldn't have been good. With him, it was flawed but still great. Also, the love interest was gorgeous, which always helps. It reminded me of American History X, too. I like Edward Norton also. I liked The Notebook, but I probably wouldn't watch it again. :-)

I loved The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, and Sideways. :-) Looks like we have similar tastes. Oh, and I also didn't like Letters from Iwo Jima. I'll have to check out Notes on a Scandal and Pan's Labyrinth. The one movie I disagree with you on is Crash -- I didn't think it was anything special. Haven't seen Babel.

JA's girlfriend said...

I have a few thoughts of my own.

Shrek the 3rd was worthy of more than a mere C+. Although I can concede that it was not as good as the first 2, I find it funny that you gave I Think I Love My Wife a B. That was definitely not worth the ridiculous $8.00 to get into the theater.

Now for the real reason to break my long time silence on this blog.
HALF NELSON GOT AN A!!!! Are you kidding me?!? I thought this movie was beyond disturbing. As a teacher in a low socio-economic school, I found it to be unrealistic and deeply offensive. I understand that there are people out there that found this movie to be worthy of an "A" (JA) but I completely disagree. The subject matter was disheartening and bothersome.

Moving on... I totally agree with the written reviews on Once, Namesake and H and K Go to White Castle.

I couldn't help but notice one film in particular that was missing from this review.

Dreamgirls... A+
I really enjoyed this movie and thought it was inspiring. Once the movie was over I just wanted to get up and sing.

JA's girlfriend, who saw many of these movies with him.

Jewish Atheist said...

JA's girlfriend, ;-)

Ok, maybe I Think I Love my Wife didn't quite deserve a B. I guess you're more qualified than I to say that Half-Nelson wasn't realistic. On the other hand, I don't think "bothersome" subject matter is necessarily a bad thing. I thought the way Gosling's character had such huge flaws and still kind of tried to do the right thing was interesting.

And I left out Dreamgirls because I'm trying to block it out of my memory. :-) (To be fair, it just wasn't my thing.)

JA's woman said...

Well listen here JA-
A movie with bad subject matter can still be seen as bad.

Dreamgirls was not as bad as you said it was... At least you managed to sit through the whole thing unlike myself with Spiderman 3, which I actually walked out of.

Keebo said...
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dbackdad said...

I love the new input by JA's girlfriend. We all need a foil. My wife reads my blog all the time but never posts a comment. She's just my little off-line peanut gallery.

I've wanted to see all of the Gosling movies you mentioned but haven't taken the time yet.

You are spot-on with your reviews of Shrek 2 and Spiderman 3. They were very disappointing to me (the movies, that is, not your reviews).

We just got Last King of Scotland in the mail (through Netflix) but haven't watched it yet. I didn't realize that Gillian was in it. Gillian Anderson in anything makes it instantly must-watch in my book.

I'm a big fan of Serenity/Firefly. I've been starved for some decent sci-fi and they definitely fit the bill. Battlestar Galactica gets great reviews but I haven't seen an episode. I'll rent a few seasons sometime soon.

Laura said...

It seems we have similar tastes in movies... of the one's I've seen, I totally agree with your reviews. I'll have to check out some of the others, since, if you liked them, chances are I will to.

If you liked Harold & Kumar - check out Beerfest. Friggin hilarious (just as completely stupid too)

Stephen said...

I saw Volver and quite enjoyed it. You're right, it isn't like any other movie; but that's one of its strengths, of course.

I also saw The Illusionist and quite liked it, as well. "Atmospheric" is a good word to describe it.