Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sept. 29 - Movies

Just going to do a little recap of movies I've watched since I last posted about movies.  This could get lengthy...

The Painted Veil (2006)
Shunned by a husband (Edward Norton) who's more interested in his research, the simpleminded Kitty Fane (Naomi Watts) embarks on a quest for life fulfillment. Along the way, she ignites a passionate affair with a dashing womanizer (Liev Schreiber) and travels with her husband to the Far East, where she turns her attention to fighting the cholera epidemic. Diana Rigg co-stars in this period drama based on the novel by W. Somerset       Maugham. 

It seems like I posted about this one but I didn't see it when I scrolled back.  Hmm.  Anyway.....  I quite liked this one.  The Netflix description is a bit misleading in that the 'passionate affair' is actually a very small part of the movie, she isn't shunned because her husband is more interested in work, and she doesn't really turn her attention to fighting the epidemic.  Rather, she has the affair, her hubby is cold towards her after he finds out, and she volunteers time at the orphanage to feel useful...not so much to fight the epidemic.  But whatever, I liked it more the way it 'really' is instead of the way Netflix makes it sound.  After watching it I wanted to read the book so I looked for it on Amazon.  I was surprised and pleased to find out the movie version appears to be just a *part* of the book.  Cool.

Fragments (2008)
 Kate Beckinsale, Dakota Fanning and Forest Whitaker lead an all-star cast in this haunting tale about the survivors of a madman's senseless shooting spree. As they grapple with fate, each suffers aftereffects as uncontrollable as the crime itself. Loneliness, guilt, despair and faith consume them until each finds an epiphany among the ruins. Jennifer Hudson and Guy Pearce star in this drama based on Winged Creatures, a novel by Roy Freirich. 

This one was kinda bleah, barely an 'ok' in my book.  I didn't care much for the look or feel of it.  One of those kinda choppy movies where you're not given all the info you might be wondering about.  The doctor's story was confusing.  Was he giving drugs to cause symptoms just so he could then give drugs to stop it and be a sort of 'hero,' like he had a God complex?  Why do it to someone he loved?  Cuz the hero factor would be that much more personal and rewarding?

I Love You, Man (2009)
In this bromance, the cinematic equivalent of a rom-com buddy flick, Paul Rudd plays a recently engaged guy who's got the bride-to-be of his dreams but lacks an all-important significant other when it comes to their pending nuptials: a best man. On a determined hunt for a stranger who will stand up for him, he eventually meets a candidate (Jason Segel) with wedding-party potential. Jaime Pressly, Rashida Jones and Jon Favreau co-star.

This one was ok, not as wild and hysterical as I thought it would be.  It even started to drag for me and I was anxious for it to be done.  Plenty of funny parts, sure, but just not quite good enough overall.

Inkheart (2008)
Unbeknownst to his 12-year-old daughter, Meggie (Eliza Bennett), bookbinder Mo "Silvertongue" Folchart (Brendan Fraser) has a secret ability to bring characters to life by reading their stories out loud. But when the wicked Capricorn (Andy Serkis) comes after her father, Meggie must rescue him. Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren co-star in this enchanting fantasy based on the best-selling children's novel by Cornelia Funke.

I'm not much of a Brendan Fraser fan so I didn't know how I'd feel about this one but it was pretty good.  I loved all the old books, when they went to book shops.  Loved that lady's library and was so upset when the storybook villians trashed it!  Some parts had me over analyzing how the whole story process worked but if you can just put that aside and watch the movie it's not bad.

The Devil's Tomb (2009)
Sean Connery's son Jason Connery directs this taut action thriller about an elite group of soldiers (including Cuba Gooding Jr., Taryn Manning and Jason London) sent to rescue a missing scientist (Ron Perlman) from an underground lab, only to learn from a priest (Henry Rollins) that an ancient evil has been released inside the facility. Ray Winstone co-stars as the soldiers' seasoned former leader, who helps them figure out their next move. 

This was just stupid.  The people on this super uber elite specialist team tried too hard to come across as cool.  The story was confusing.  There was unnecessary blood and gore, the obligatory boobs, and the totally pointless lesbian scene.  Even hubby thought it was rather sucky.

Valkyrie (2008)
Wounded in Africa during World War II, Nazi Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) returns to his native Germany and joins the Resistance in a daring plan to create a shadow government and assassinate Adolf Hitler. When events unfold so that he becomes a central player, he finds himself tasked with both leading the coup and personally killing the Führer. Stephen Fry, Bill Nighy and Eddie Izzard co-star in this drama based on actual events.

My dad was a WWII vet so although I grew up knowing war history I really didn't know about this particular story.  I'm not a Tom Cruise fan but he didn't bother me in this one.  And I knew this was not how Hitler died so the story kept me hooked right to the end.  Of course, I don't know how accurate the movie version is but I thought it was good.

The Constant Gardener (2005)
Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a member of the British High Commission based in Africa, launches a quest for the truth and begins his own international investigation when his wife (Rachel Weisz, in an Oscar-winning turn) is murdered. Not even the rumors of his wife's infidelity will stop him from uncovering what really happened to her -- a conspiracy that's much more dangerous than he ever imagined.

This one sounded so good but I was disappointed by, once again, the look and feel of it, the style.  The actual story stuck with me though....using desperate, needy people as guinea pigs to test new drugs?  Gah.  (No, that was not particularly spoilerish.  The bigger spoilers fall elsewhere.)

Elizabeth (1998)
England's Queen Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett) took the throne of a Roman Catholic country as a young woman, declared the nation Protestant and ruled for 45 years -- but at great personal cost. Director Shekhar Kapur's Oscar-winning treatise on absolute power and its human toll sees the virgin queen sacrifice happiness with Lord Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes) and place her trust in Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) amid assassination threats.

I seem to remember liking this one at the time I watched it (a few weeks ago) but now I can't remember exactly what happened in this one vs. other Elizabeth movies I've seen.  Hmm.

The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Based on Dan Brown's best-seller of the same name, Ron Howard's gripping film stars Tom Hanks as Harvard professor Robert Langdon and Audrey Tatou as cryptographer Sophie Neve, who must untangle a web of deceit when the curator of the Louvre, a member of a secret society and a relative of Neve's, is found murdered in the famed museum's hallowed halls. To crack the case and arrive at the truth, they must look to the works of Leonardo da Vinci.

Yes, I have *finally* seen this one.  And I liked it.  And I want to read the book, but it's quite far down on my reading list.  It made me curious about the Knights Templar so I Netflixed the following....

Decoding the Past: The Templar Code: Parts 1 & 2 (2007)
Shrouded in mystery, the Knights Templar have been linked to the Holy Grail, Jesus Christ and the Crusades. This program hosted by actor Edward Herrmann explores the Knights' origins, their expansion of power and their eventual persecution. The legend of the Knights Templar continues to intrigue historians and scholars to this day, as evidenced by the popularity of Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code. 

....however this one bored me to sleep and I didn't even watch Part 2.  

Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower (2006)
Drawing scenes and dialogue from records of actual participants and eyewitnesses, this documentary meticulously re-creates the historic saga of the Pilgrims, from their extraordinary Mayflower crossing to their historic encounters with the Native Americans. Featuring a cast of actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the program was shot at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, as well as locations in England, Belgium, Maryland and Virginia.

This spent alot of time explaining things leading up to the crossing, and then alot of time after the crossing.  I guess I thought it would be more about life during the crossing.....?  But that would be a boring show after a short time, huh?  It was good though.  I learned alot.

Thirtysomething: Season 1 (6-Disc Series) (1987)
Winner of several Emmy and Golden Globe awards, this dramatic ensemble series from producers Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz ("My So-Called Life") centers on a group of suburbanites grappling with the challenges of marriage, career and parenthood. Ken Olin, Mel Harris, Patricia Wettig ("Brothers and Sisters") and Timothy Busfield ("Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip") lead the impressive cast of the groundbreaking show.

Remember a while ago, I blogged about how I'd been dying to see Party of Five for years and when I finally got it I didn't like it?  This is another of those situations.  I watched a bit of Thirtysomething here and there back in the day, and liked it.  Now in the days of 'you can find anything on DVD' I'd been waiting patiently for this show to be released.  I was really curious how I'd view it now, ya know, being old and all....hehe.  So when it was finally released I immediately bumped it to the top of my Netflix list.  Imagine my surprise when I pretty hated it?!  Seriously, I didn't even get thru one episode!  I found the people annoying (and I used to love Peter Horton on this show).  I found the whole multiple conversations happening at the same time annoying.  I don't know, I was just annoyed by....all of it.  Maybe I should have given it more of a try.  Maybe it would have settled down after that first episode of having to get to know everyone.  I don't know...I'm still shocked by this one.

Adventureland (2008)
Unable to afford the European vacation he'd dreamed of, recent college grad James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) reluctantly takes a gig at a local amusement park, only to learn that the dead-end job is, in fact, excellent preparation for the real world. Writer-director Greg Mottola's semi-autobiographical comedy-drama, filmed in Pittsburgh's Kennywood Park, also stars Ryan Reynolds and Kristen Stewart.

Didn't like this one either.  Not even Ryan Reynolds (*swoon*) could save it for me.  Not even Kristen Steward (Bella!) could save it.  In fact, she was one of the things that irked me most.  She tends to be kinda monotone anyway but it was just, I don't know, BLEAH in this one.  A couple funny parts, sure, but overall....bleah.

Hamlet (1990)
Shakespeare's brooding, medieval Dane, Hamlet (Mel Gibson), senses something rotten in the state of Denmark; specifically, he smells a rat behind his royal father's death. Hamlet's mother (Glenn Close) may be complicit in the tragedy, while ill-fated Ophelia (Helena Bonham Carter) is an innocent bystander in love with the young prince. A wonderful supporting cast includes Ian Holm as Polonius and Alan Bates as Claudius. Franco Zeffirelli directs.

I watched this when I was reading that Ophelia book, just to try and understand the story.  I thought maybe it would be more 'normal' dialouge but nope, it's very Shakespearian.  Was it the actual lines from the play?  I don't know because I'm not into Shakespeare.  (Sheri??)  I actually gave up watching very early but later in the evening hubby said he wanted to watch it so gave it another chance.  I put the subtitles on and gradually started to make sense of things.  It was pretty good.  Oh, well, except for that scene with his mother......whoa.  I was like 'OMG...he's not really...?!'

The Ramen Girl (2008)
When her boyfriend leaves her high and dry in Tokyo, spoiled American tourist Abby (Brittany Murphy) finds solace in a neighborhood ramen noodle house run by a cantankerous old chef (Toshiyuki Nishida), who agrees to take her on as an apprentice cook. But will the dirty grunt work and endless criticism drive Abby away before she discovers the serene beauty in the perfect bowl of soup -- and in herself? Robert Allan Ackerman directs this comedy.

Kinda dorky.  I thought it would be some wild comedy, a fish out of water type thing with her being abandoned in Tokyo.  There were funny parts but nothing like what I thought it would be.  It was ok, good enough for something to watch if you're really bored.

State of Play (2009)
When his mistress is found dead, Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) tries desperately to protect his name and career. As journalists Cal (Russell Crowe) and Della (Rachel McAdams) investigate further, they uncover an intricate web of lies that stretches to the highest levels of power. Based on the critically acclaimed BBC miniseries, this intriguing political thriller co-stars Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn and Jason Bateman

This one was very good.  I hate when there are so many twists just to keep you guessing, and this one had that....I still don't understand the ending.....but I liked it.

Bolt (2008)
Nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar and Golden Globe, this tale of adventure follows dashing German shepherd Bolt, a canine actor forced to make an action-filled cross-country trek when he's mistakenly shipped from Hollywood to New York City. Believing that he and his fictional character are one and the same, Bolt gets a glimpse of what it takes to be a real hero. Celebrity voices include John Travolta, Miley Cyrus and Malcolm McDowell

Watched this mainly because someone kept nagging me about it....."You'll love it!  It's soooo cute!  You have to see it!"  I'm always amazed by the animation in this type of movie.  It was cute.  It made me cry.  I liked it but nowhere near as much as NaggyPerson seemed to.

Fame (1980)
Competition is fierce at New York City's High School for the Performing Arts. The kids who attend it have big dreams … and the talent to make them come true. This Academy Award-winning (for Best Original Score and Best Original Song) musical depicts the search for fame by a band of students who want you to remember their names: Coco (Irene Cara), Montgomery (Paul McCrane), Doris (Maureen Teefy), Raul (Barry Miller) and Bruno (Lee Curreri).

Yep, the fact that the new version of the movie just came out is what motivated me to finally see this original.  I had seen bits of it over the years but never the whole thing straight through.  I used to watch the TV series and *loved* it.....well, the early seasons anyway.  I probably still have several episodes memorized.  LOL!  I was a bit disappointed in this movie though.  Not sure why, maybe I thought there would be more singing/dancing stuff, or maybe I found alot of the acting to be rather sucky....which is funny in a movie about just that.  And the girl who played Doris looked freakishly similar to a girl at work that I really can't stand.  So, not a horrible movie but not as good as I'd always assumed it was.

And now I'm caught up on my movie 'reviews.'  Woot!


  1. Watch enough movies? Holy crap.

    I don't think I've seen the Mel Gibson Hamlet. I have seen the Kenneth Branagh one, though, or at least part of it (I can't remember now!) ... I think I did see the whole thing because the main thing I remember about it was thinking it was going on FOREVER.

    Bolt: I also thought this one was cute, and it made me cry, but I didn't love it.

    I've never seen the original Fame movie either. I'm interested in seeing it. I was surprised at how interested I was in seeing the new one when the commercials for it started. Weird. Somewhat related: I saw an interview with Debbie Allen on GMA about a week after Patrick Swayze died, and she said when she was little (in Texas, I think?) she used to walk by Patrick's mother's dance studio and look inside the window and wish she could be in there. And one day, even though she wasn't really supposed to because things were segregated, Patrick's mother came out and talked to her and got her started dancing there. And Debbie remembered Patrick being there all the time. Anyway, she was still very grateful to Patrick's mother. What a cool story.

    That's crazy about thirtysomething. I wonder what I'd think of it now. Back when I watched/liked it, when I was what, thirteen?, I got annoyed when critics said all the characters were shallow and self-absorbed ... It'd be funny if I agreed with that now!

  2. Thirtysomething... Even after hating it, part of me still wants to give it another chance. Maybe I should just skip to a random episode farther into the season and see how I like it. Hmm. Maybe I'll add it back to my Netflix list.