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I guess there’s a reason there aren’t many movies about literary criticism. It’s a very niche audience. And not terribly exciting.

Anyway, I didn’t hate it but I didn’t like it. I wasn’t particularly bored but I didn’t care at all. Frank Langella is getting the buzz for his role. I’m just indifferent. Whatevs.

I really liked A Mighty Heart for what it was, but I sort of think what it was (and what I liked it for) was not the intent. It is a thrilling and engrossing procedural but comes off strangely clinical. For a movie that was meant to showcase Angelina Jolie there’s a surprising lack of emotion.

The story of reporter Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and execution in Karachi, Pakistan is well known by now. His widow, Mariane, has become an international symbol of love, strength, and tolerance. The film spends little time setting up the relationship; they are saying their final goodbye about 5 minutes in. Much of their love is shown through flashbacks. If there’s one thing that ruins more movies for me than anything else it’s unbelievable relationships. This film goes about halfway in that their relationship is totally believable, but not very well founded so that we don’t have much of an emotional connection to it.

Much of the film follows the hunt for Danny: tracking down leads, tracing IP addresses, interrogating suspects, etc… All this is very good. Despite knowing how the search would end up I was completely engrossed. Mariane plays a surprisingly small role in the middle third of the film. Read the rest of this entry »

When we look back at this year’s Oscar season, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead may well be the representative movie.  The characters are largely compelling, but placed in a decidedly not upbeat story that falls just a bit short.  The film has received buzz for a nomination is just about every major category save Best Actress, and could receive anywhere from 0-4 nominations.  It also features two actors receiving Oscar buzz for other performances (PSH and Amy Ryan).

Ultimately, I don’t see the Academy bestowing any Oscars on the movie – the right move, in my opinion.  To me, one mark of a great movie is transcending its genre to become relevant to people not fans of that genre.  I don’t feel that’s the case for Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.  I think it is a botched heist movie with loftier pretensions.  Don’t let the ending fool you. Read the rest of this entry »

Chuck Klosterman once wrote something along the lines of: “It is much harder to explain why you liked something than to explain why you didn’t like something.”  And I’m finding that to ring true as I’m going through the Oscar movies and not only trying to pick out my favorites, but explain why they are the best of the bunch.  Juno will end up being one of my favorite movies of the year, if not my most favorite.  And I’ll try (and probably fail) to express why that is.  But perhaps the simplest thing I can say is that of all the 2007 movies I’ve seen so far, Juno is the only one I’ve felt comfortable and confident recommending, no matter the person asking for the recommendation. Read the rest of this entry »

Yeah, the title of this post is a When In Rome reference.  You wanna make something of it? 

I forgot this movie pretty much as soon as I finished watching it.  I’m writing this recap a few weeks after watching the movie, and I think I can vividly remember maybe five scenes.  One, of course, is the bathroom fight scene.  Which is notable not just for the extent of the nudity, but for the dichotomy of badassitude and sensitivity it bring to the table.  I would not be surprised in the least if they filmed the scene first and then hired a scriptwriter to make up a story around it.  Or at least sold the backers based on the scene.  It will, without a doubt, be one of my favorite movie scenes of the year. Read the rest of this entry »

December 2007