frankly, my dear...

The Hunger Games (#46)

I’m sorry to say that I mocked this pretty much the entire time. “This is ACTING.” ”I’m Peeta. I’m a martyr.” “Ooo a flashback.” All sassiness aside, though, this wasn’t half as good as I expected it to be. The beginning drags, characters lack true motivation, and the special effects suck. Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks are good but I wanted and expected more from everyone, especially given the extended run time. Things pick up in the middle of the second act but I was left feeling unfulfilled. To be fair I’ve never read the books so I don’t know quite how they stack up, but that’s just my unpopular opinion.

Sweet Smell of Success (#22)(#181)
Despite all the top lists this appears on, I was underwhelmed. I will always adore Tony Curtis, and he’s very good here, but the film felt lacking on the whole. I just couldn’t bring myself to care for any of the characters except poor Susie and while Burt Lancaster is very sinister, I never truly understood why everyone feared him. Sure he’s a columnist, but what makes him so exceptional compared to everyone else? The Elmer Bernstein score is exquisite, though, and really the main reason to check out the movie out. Otherwise… I just didn’t have much of a reaction.

Sweet Smell of Success (#22)(#181)

Despite all the top lists this appears on, I was underwhelmed. I will always adore Tony Curtis, and he’s very good here, but the film felt lacking on the whole. I just couldn’t bring myself to care for any of the characters except poor Susie and while Burt Lancaster is very sinister, I never truly understood why everyone feared him. Sure he’s a columnist, but what makes him so exceptional compared to everyone else? The Elmer Bernstein score is exquisite, though, and really the main reason to check out the movie out. Otherwise… I just didn’t have much of a reaction.

Safety Not Guaranteed (#9)

This wasn’t as off kilter as I expected it to be and while that’s normally a good thing, it ended up being a bit of a let down. It’s one of those movies that left me saying, “That’s all?” (literally, that’s what I said at the end). Not because I was disappointed by what happened, but because it just cuts off without resolving some of the story-lines, which is annoying. While Jake Johnson and Mark Duplass are both good, Aubrey Plaza too frequently falls off the deadpan band wagon into emotionless, and it sometimes felt like the comedic actors were mocking the dialogue by being too sarcastic. All in all, more surprising and fulfilling ending than I expected, and it’s certainly sweet, but left me feeling let down.

Night Train to Munich (#7/8)*
I had high expectations for this after watching The Lady Vanishes but while entertaining, it let me down. Margaret Lockwood is luminous and Rex Harrison as benignly engaging as ever but it lacks any real tension or zip. The plot is resolved far too easily with the second act detour into the reparte of Charters and Caldicott slowing the plot. Paul Henreid is both dashing and excellent, though, and Carol Reed’s direction peerless so it’s worthwhile on those counts. All in all, however, it’s not particularly memorable though.
*I paused part way through Gone With the Wind before watching this, which is why it gets two listings.

Night Train to Munich (#7/8)*

I had high expectations for this after watching The Lady Vanishes but while entertaining, it let me down. Margaret Lockwood is luminous and Rex Harrison as benignly engaging as ever but it lacks any real tension or zip. The plot is resolved far too easily with the second act detour into the reparte of Charters and Caldicott slowing the plot. Paul Henreid is both dashing and excellent, though, and Carol Reed’s direction peerless so it’s worthwhile on those counts. All in all, however, it’s not particularly memorable though.

*I paused part way through Gone With the Wind before watching this, which is why it gets two listings.

Hitchcock (#118)

Despite quite good performances from Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren (with Hopkins in particular being stellar) and amazing prosthetics, this film is something of a wash. It’s torn between telling the story of Hitch’s fascination with Psycho (without going too far into his darker personal tendencies) and his issues with his wife Alma. Writing is flat with scenes entered into and exited on bizarre, disconnected beats and writing strangely idealized. The direction is clunky, lacking the tight glossy control of atmosphere that Hitch prided himself on adding to his films. The supporting performances are fine, but too frequently play on the melodramatic-amateur side of things. (James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins and Toni Collette as Hitch’s assistant Peggy Robertson are marvelous though. D’Arcy is uncanny.) It’s a campy biopic, which is a shame for such a recognizable and fascinating figure, but I do expect to see both Hopkins and Mirren popping up on awards lists this winter.

RocknRolla (#117)

I was a little disappointed in this. While it has all the tropes and stylistic elements of a Guy Ritchie film (the circuitous plots, playing with film speed, tint and London gangsters), it lacks the zip and lightness of tone that makes his other films like Lock, Stock and Snatch so brilliant. No one really gets a chance to shine despite solid performances from Mark Strong, Tom Hardy and Thandie Newton as things wander around mildly aimlessly for too long with the Johnny Quid nonsense.  It’s fine, but hardly one I’d watch again. (The scene with Thandie and Gerard Butler dancing is hilarious though.)

The 40 Year Old Virgin (#94)

Well, I’ve seen it now. Yay me. And like the other Judd Apatow films I watch, that’s my only reaction. Cool. I’ve seen it now. The end. Yeah Steve Carrell is good, and Catherine Keener is great, and I found Romany Malco really funny, but in the long run, it didn’t do much for me. To be frank (but not sound like a prude) it was too raunchy for me. I like there to be wit in my humor (it doesn’t always have to be Clue or Death at a Funeral, but Wedding Crashers managed to find a happy medium between sex, wit and heart). So yeah. I didn’t dislike it, I’m just, “Eh.” I wouldn’t want to watch it again in particular. PS: The ending? I’m always down for a little “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” but don’t half ass it guys.

Step Brothers (#76)

This isn’t particularly in line with my sense of humor or standard cup of tea, but I found it entertaining enough, even if I don’t think I’d watch it again. I like Will Ferrell and Adam McKay when they team up but definitely find their other movies to be funnier (Anchorman in particular is flawless). And if I’m not the biggest John C. Reilly fan, I do really like Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen. Plus, Kathryn Hahn is hilarious.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (#56)
It’s a good thing I have an unconditional love for Frank Sinatra. While this wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, and not nearly as high quality as many of Gene Kelly’s other pictures, it managed to grow on me and I found the end result to be, though simple and straightforward, entertaining. While it allows both of its male stars to shine, seeing Frank dance next to Gene and Gene duet with Frank clearly reveals that where one excels, the other is only good, and that can make close viewing a little awkward. The script is nothing brilliant - in fact, it’s rather bad at moments - but the charisma of all the leads - even if Gene Kelly is so over the top and offensively annoying that I nearly turned it off within the first half hour - allows it to be a fun - if not particularly amazing - movie. The main reason to watch is to see Frank Sinatra be super awkward with girls (which proves his acting chops as we all know the man was super suave) and to appreciate all the Frank-is-skinny jokes.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (#56)

It’s a good thing I have an unconditional love for Frank Sinatra. While this wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, and not nearly as high quality as many of Gene Kelly’s other pictures, it managed to grow on me and I found the end result to be, though simple and straightforward, entertaining. While it allows both of its male stars to shine, seeing Frank dance next to Gene and Gene duet with Frank clearly reveals that where one excels, the other is only good, and that can make close viewing a little awkward. The script is nothing brilliant - in fact, it’s rather bad at moments - but the charisma of all the leads - even if Gene Kelly is so over the top and offensively annoying that I nearly turned it off within the first half hour - allows it to be a fun - if not particularly amazing - movie. The main reason to watch is to see Frank Sinatra be super awkward with girls (which proves his acting chops as we all know the man was super suave) and to appreciate all the Frank-is-skinny jokes.

Analyze This (#55)
Or as I think it should be unofficially titled: Let’s All Watch The Great Robert De Niro Show That Even He Is Not Without Flaws As Evident In His Pathetic Attempts To Cry. Because really, I didn’t think I’d live to see a film where De Niro isn’t great but when he gross sobs in this movie, you see the truth. That aside, it’s an entertaining enough movie, primarily because I always enjoy Billy Crystal. Beyond it being a good concept for a movie, and effectively - though far from brilliantly - executed, I don’t have much to say. As a matter of fact, the above frame is a pretty accurate summary of how I felt for the entire movie (with me being Billy and the movie being De Niro). Sadly, I was decidedly underwhelmed.

Analyze This (#55)

Or as I think it should be unofficially titled: Let’s All Watch The Great Robert De Niro Show That Even He Is Not Without Flaws As Evident In His Pathetic Attempts To Cry. Because really, I didn’t think I’d live to see a film where De Niro isn’t great but when he gross sobs in this movie, you see the truth. That aside, it’s an entertaining enough movie, primarily because I always enjoy Billy Crystal. Beyond it being a good concept for a movie, and effectively - though far from brilliantly - executed, I don’t have much to say. As a matter of fact, the above frame is a pretty accurate summary of how I felt for the entire movie (with me being Billy and the movie being De Niro). Sadly, I was decidedly underwhelmed.

Nine (#8)
I think that I was able to put this movie on pause and go do other things multiple times says something about how I felt about it. Rob Marshall is a great musical director and he does his thing really marvelously. The costumes, art direction, lighting and camera are all quite divine. However, for being a movie about making a movie, it tries too hard to continue being a play (case in point the ending scene) and it really detracts. Most of the musical numbers are irrelevant to the plot - which is quite loose I must say - and this grows tiresome. The best scenes are those with Marion Cotillard (the only actress showing any true emotion throughout the entire movie) though Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis are also quite good as is their normal style. Overall though, this movie is bleh.

Nine (#8)

I think that I was able to put this movie on pause and go do other things multiple times says something about how I felt about it. Rob Marshall is a great musical director and he does his thing really marvelously. The costumes, art direction, lighting and camera are all quite divine. However, for being a movie about making a movie, it tries too hard to continue being a play (case in point the ending scene) and it really detracts. Most of the musical numbers are irrelevant to the plot - which is quite loose I must say - and this grows tiresome. The best scenes are those with Marion Cotillard (the only actress showing any true emotion throughout the entire movie) though Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis are also quite good as is their normal style. Overall though, this movie is bleh.

Friends with Benefits (#1)

I wasn’t expecting much from this - indeed, I was expecting rather the worst - but I ended up being generally amused. Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake work together and are good as their characters, though neither has the oomph to bring them past surface characterization (though writing is definitely half to blame here). It’s an okay movie but comparing to No Strings Attached - which I couldn’t help doing - I think No Strings was better than this one. More true emotion, more characters I cared about, somehow felt less cliche. Still, it’s alright. Very glad I didn’t bother going to see it in theaters or anything like that.

Super 8 (#123)

I know how everyone was in euphoric fits over the nostalgia and sheer happy blockbuseter-ness of this movie this summer but - and I’m sorry to say it - I didn’t get it. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really liked Steven Spielberg’s films (okay, that’s probably exactly why), but I just didn’t click with this. I know J.J. Abrams directs (and I do like him) but everything about this was saturated in Spielberg’s heavy-handed aesthetic. The kids were cute and solid (particularly Joel Courtney. Adorable). Really liked Kyle Chandler. But the threads holding the story together were loose, the emotions were forced, and the subtext was none existent. I’m happy that people loved it, but it just didn’t click for me.

Jurassic Park (#112) (#147)

It’s kind of surprising that I’ve never seen this before considering my love for blockbusters, but indeed this was my first time. And…. I was seriously let down. I’m not particularly wild about Steven Spielberg in general (don’t get me wrong, he’s better than a lot of people in Hollywood but his films are generally the same) and I felt like I was seeing the same movie I’ve seen a ton of times before just with a different plot and characters (ie: visually the same). John Williams also seems to have reused major parts of this score in Harry Potter, which bugged me (again, a person I feel is good, but overrated). On the whole, the only really redeeming thing for me was that the little boy grew up to be in The Social Network, I liked Laura Dern’s strong female character, and the moments where Sam Neill’s accent came through were positively magical. Otherwise, the technology behind the dinosaurs is cool but I felt like was being pandered to and was generally underwhelmed.

It Should Happen to You (#101)

This was okay. There were moments where I felt like the script couldn’t decide if it were being written by Woody Allen’s precursor or a Hollywood deluxe. Jack Lemmon’s marvelous in his first major film role and really the only character I managed to like or identify with. Judy Holliday’s Gladys is so narcissistic I couldn’t understand why everyone liked her while Peter Lawford’s accent was dreamy yet his swoop-nuzzling was creepy (and thereby hilarious). The movie was at its best when Jack and Judy had moments of lickity-split dialogue hilarity but those were too few to make me love the film, which felt like a “rom-com” version of Funny Girl and A Face in the Crowd.