entelein: (operator)
Toy Story

A completely solid and enjoyable movie. Maybe it was silly of me to watch Monsters, Inc before seeing this, but it didn't matter, ultimately. They're both wonderful. I wasn't too concerned with noting the advances in the computer animation - I just wanted to sit back and enjoy myself.

Again, the voice acting was just excellent - the casting was truly fitting.

My favorite part was probably the little green army men. I will never forget them.
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Eyes Wide Shut

Alice Harford: Millions of years of evolution, right? Right? Men have to stick it in every place they can, but for women... women it is just about security and commitment and whatever the fuck else!
Dr. Bill Harford: A little oversimplified, Alice, but yes, something like that.
Alice Harford: If you men only knew...

This movie actually had some semi-interesting preludes to thought experiments about desire and fucking and loyalty, but it never really GOT anywhere. Perhaps it's because Kubrick shuffled off his mortal coil before the whole thing was completely in the can, but I think, too, there was 'bravery' in exploring this strange cult/club Cruise's character stumbles onto that could've been better spent actually moving the husband and wife through a really dynamic sea change, even if it was overlaid with the same restrained air gripping the rest of the film.

Or did I miss it?

Oh, but I loved the lighting - the use of natural room light, the bumping up of film exposure so that Christmas lights or chandeliers are the only thing giving illumination ...

I have memories of when this movie first came out, and I was working at the bookstore in the back room. This very nervous young man named Helke was in charge of Bargain Books, but spent a lot of time making sure that the semi-rare Arthur Schnitzler books were received properly and well-stocked in the main store. He was pretty much obsessed with the movie, and with reminding all of us how very much of a Kubrick fan he was. I think he was a pretty big reason why I never bothered seeing the movie until now, actually.

For all the pretense, I sure did luck out in getting a version of the movie with all the nudity and sex blocked out. Sigh. ;)
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Monsters, Inc

KITTY!

One of the cutest movies ever made. I need to own this on DVD, so I can watch it whenever I get into a foul mood. It's just great - dialogue, animation, voice acting, comedy. All of it.

I got choked up at the end, too. Just like I was supposed to, but I didn't mind at all.
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Transamerica

This is a movie quietly sketched and filled in in such a way that you recognize the issues woven into it, but it never truly comes off as being a movie about a particular issue.

It's a journey, considered and laid out before the audience. I felt at times like I was very fortunate to see certain epiphanies and realizations: it's like seeing someone crying on the train, or hearing good news on his cellphone, the twitch of facial muscles, the shoulders relaxing into the new perspective. These semi-private moments that, I think, feel a little rare for me, since my current contact with the outside world is most often rushed and surface.

Felicity Huffman is awesome.
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Bend It Like Beckham

A totally cute movie about girl's soccer/football. I dunno! It was cute! And fun. A bit formulaic, a bit twee.

And while I have nothing against Keira Knightley, each movie I see her in further demonstrates to me that while she's certainly a capable actress, she really just has very little about her that's uniquely appealing, you know? Like, she does the big old dazzling smile, and you think, hey, nice smile! Or she's all quirky and determined, and you think, boy, she's sure got some spunk! what a feisty chick! -- but none of it ever seems grounded or rooted in character work. A lot of it feels surface, and facile.

Which is fine! There's a lot of movies (like, um, this one) which require Generic Girl Power Tomboy Antics Plus Sexy Teen-or-Pre-Teen energy, and she fits the bill really well. I dunno. I suppose I am just sort of puzzled as to why she's gotten as many roles as she has.

Parminder Nagra rocks as Jess, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers sure is pretty, isn't he?
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Valmont

Unfortunately for this movie, Dangerous Liaisons was released a year previously, and so even though the production times would indicate that Valmont would be the first out of the gate, it wasn't to be.

So, you'll read a lot of critics decrying this as the lesser interpretation of the same source material, but I guess until I see the other one in its entirety, I'll just have to hold my judgement.

On its own, Valmont strives to be lovely and careful, which really works for the most part, as the plot can certainly be interpreted as a slow dance of manipulation and twisted-up passions. There are sections which are positively anemic, though, and I felt sort of bad for these actors who are so obviously capable of more, but seemed as though they were reigned in with satin ribbons and languid garden tea parties.

Annette Bening seemed to be having fun, and while I thought Colin Firth suffered from the anemic direction most of all, I still enjoyed watching him, and how he approaches each moment.
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Tron

This would be yet another of the movies that I've already seen, but not really since its release.

I figured I just had to rent it again, since I had just finished playing Kingdom Hearts 2, and was jonesing for the original plot and characters. I was pleasantly surprised to see exactly how faithful the KH2 use of Tron was - I never realized that Sora and his pals essentially mirror the main plot of the movie, and yet manage to make it make sense in terms over the overall game plot. Nicely done.

The visuals really are so great for 1982. I remember everyone at the time being so excited by this way of presenting a virtual reality, with vivid color and a sense of the surreal - it's one of the core challenges of good sci-fi, after all, to create a sensical analog between what the audience is familiar with, and what the new world reveals, without being too cheesy. I know I was completely absorbed by it, although, since I was 9 or 10 at the time, I could've done without the embarassing (and yet totally tame) romance sub-plot. I just wanted more racing and crazy-ass traveling inside of a computer.
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The Secret of NIMH

Many movies on my Netflix queue are movies I've seen before, but hadn't actually viewed since their release, or shortly thereafter. NIMH is one of them.

Elizabeth Hartman's voice work in this movie as Mrs. Brisby is so amazing that it made me really sad to find out that she committed suicide only five years after this movie was released. She seriously makes this movie for me. The Don Bluth animation style is soft, and delightfully ominous in parts (owl, anyone?) - he brings out the magic and triumph in a situation without trying to wow you with animation tricks or over-the-top visuals. Instead, it's the little things: the way Mrs. Brisby grasps things, the lighting inside the rats' lair, the movement of each animal type with a direct and well-stated correlation to their characters, etc.

It was very fun to hear Wil Wheaton in a role that I had forgotten he'd done. Also, Shannen Doherty. Hee. Little tiny mouse children, all grown up now. How odd.
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Henry & June

Basically, this is a movie about really pretentious people who get all insular and lie to each other and think that their genital's needs are more important than anyone else's.

GOOD TIMES.

edited to add: I admit, Maria de Madeiros was quaint eye candy, but that was about it.
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Snatch.

[livejournal.com profile] thajinx made me put this on my queue so that it would arrive when he came here for a week in June, so we could watch it together. One of the things that cracks me up about our friendship is that we experience a voyeuristic glee at watching the other experience some movie or game or song/band for the first time. Of course, because he's a bit more thoroughly hardcore about movies and games than I am, it means I am under almost constant observation when he's around, but I suppose I shall suffer the hardship. Somehow.

So, yeah, Snatch. A totally dumb and chaotic movie, with just the right amount of thuggish hip stylee and quick cut editing to keep you on a rollercoaster of unintelligible accents, bumbling crimes, and the word "fuck" uttered 153 times (according to IMDB).

Good times. I miss watching movies with people.
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Spirited Away

This animated feature felt like the sweetest nightmare.

From No-Face to the little soot balls to the paper birds, there was so much visceral information presented that it was easy to fall into Chihiro's world and hang out for a while.

The big scene in the bath house was totally awesome, and while the paper birds tweaked a nightmare memory of my own, the animation overall felt dreamy and fluid and particularly well thought out.

Sweet nightmares, fun journey for little Chihiro. Plot-wise, it felt a tiny bit like Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, at least in some of the structure.
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Amy's O

What a dumb freakin' movie.
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The Celebration

I popped this one to the top of the queue on Woody's recommendation.

I didn't really know much about it, other than some excited-sounding rambly review from Woody over the phone, but as soon as the first couple of scenes flicked by, I thought to myself, "Heh, this is totally Dogme95, man." I was correct, as it turned out. The lighting and sound were very reminiscent of home video, but it also served to make the sometimes absurd dialogue a bit more believable.

Basically, it's a fucked up family tableau played out through a dinner party, replete with infidelities, indiscretions, confessionals, inappropriate toasts, racial tension, and wacky hijinx from the house staff.

What's sort of odd is the box art for the DVD. It makes sense that the father and mother are pictured, but the other two are the Toastmaster and the waitress. They're both sort of important in their own ways, but I wonder if some packager got them mixed up with the older brother and sister, who are much, much more important to the story and the movement of the film. Perhaps these two were just more photogenic, or something.

Anyway, good movie. Disturbing, frustrating, and occasionally a touch too pretentious, but also gripping.
entelein: (operator)
King Kong

I never saw the original.

But I think the thing I like the most about Peter Jackson's directorial style is how much color he allows to infuse each and every shot. This is not to say that he has intense crazy rainbows of hue and tint all over the place, he just lets the colors play until they settle, and then he takes the picture and shows it to you, shaded and rich and with lots of depth.

He really likes to frame things in an epic sort of way. He likes to show you what's in his head. There's a lot of pure joy in so many camera shots, even when vile, horrible things are happening on the screen.

Naomi Watts is totally gorgeous and shows a great amount of emotional depth at having to deal with a big ol' CGI monkey. Kong himself was utterly sympathetic, and plays off of Jack Black's shallow meanness so well, that the last line of the movie kinda makes you want to punch Black right in the face.

The movie really didn't feel that long, and I felt like the whole initial lead-up before getting to the island was nicely-paced and not a drudge at all. I think people seriously have a harder time, nowadays, with sitting still in their freaking seats and listening. Sometimes character development and enjoyment takes a while. Sometimes it's perfectly alright to approach something slowly, and look at it from all angles, before proceeding. Immersion can be such a tricky balancing act, but is ultimately an art form, requiring at least some investment from the viewer. I wish more people felt it were worth their time to make that investment, and to be patient. You don't have to reject the cookie cutter stuff, or deny that you like some good old fashioned instant gratification - but it helps to admit that when you take the slower road, it makes all the quick hits give that much more of a rush.

Anyway, good movie. Icky bugs. Pretty, soulful Brody eyes. Lovely Manhattan.
entelein: (operator)
Six Feet Under, Season 5

I had forgotten that the last season was added to the bottom of my queue upon its release, and there it languished until I was scrolling through one day and saw it. Whoops!

I kinda dreaded finishing the series, anyhow. I'd been sort of enjoying the timeless feel of the extreme dysfunction of the Fisher family, knowing that even though I wasn't keeping an eye on them, they were still being their weird, uptight, generally narcissistic selves.

Season 5 did not disappoint with this overall characterization.

The final episode felt upsetting in some way. I mean, not really to me personally, but just in the aesthetic dichotomy of Claire driving and driving, and then the flash-forwards. Seeing all these stories hinted at, that I would never see brought to fruition, and seeing everyone done up in such weirdly-obvious age makeup and hair. I don't know. It was a good closer. There was literal closure to the series, but I was left feeling sort of hopeless and without anything to hold onto but Claire's frustration and Ruth's lack of fulfillment and safety, and David's constant inner struggling. Nate, on the other hand, never really achieved much of anything, except perhaps some deluded inner peace at the expense of those around him. I think I found that to be the most irritating of all. I understood where he was so many times throughout all the seasons, even though he was annoying on the surface. Ultimately, though, he was selfish and mean, with tinges of entitlement to things he had never really worked towards earning.

I suppose that's just the human condition, after all. We're left with nothing but some moments, and a lot of frustration.
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Rounders

What a great movie for Matt Damon. Really. I like that guy. I like his acting - his sense of humor is wry and sharp, and I especially like how he is totally able to let other performers have moments, all while still possessing his own emotional life and action. Good stuff.

This movie is incredibly quotable, especially after chatting with [livejournal.com profile] thajinx about it (Jinxie contains libraries of quotes in his head, though. Very impressive, and scary). John Malkovich is just hysterical and over-the-top and so incredibly hammy that he transcends ham and circles right back around again to being awesome. What a freak show he is - and I mean that with affection.

This is a well-built story, with good pacing (and I do mean that, even with slower moments, which happen to enhance the storytelling. Gosh, I wish people would trust more in those slower moments. It feels like a lost art sometimes). I think a good deal of my enjoyment of the movie has come from having to learn Texas Hold 'Em when I played the Last Call Poker ARG last year. Watching for tells, feeling that tension of cards and personality weaving themselves together so tightly ... Yeah. Good stuff.

Vant a kewkie?
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13 Going On 30

I do like Jennifer Garner, even though lots of people think she's sort of odd-looking and therefore difficult to watch.

That said, this is a pretty fluffy and silly movie. And yet, I really kinda liked it.

Sure, there's lots of stupidity, and the character development and ideas presented are pretty high concept. But for the first time, I got to experience a movie pretty much marketed directly at me, and it was sort of enjoyable to catch all the little references to 80's stylee and the attempt to bring them into the present time as some sort of conceptual bridge.

I dunno. Like I said, high concept. But dude, the party scene for the magazine when Jenna goes out on the floor? I was laughing my ass off. Totally fun.

This movie features a semi-fun semi-cringeworthy appearance by Andy Serkis. Heh.
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The Brave Little Toaster

I have this regular occurance in my life where people will express massive outrage at my having not seen a particular movie. Most of them, I can totally understand - Rear Window, Casablanca, Citizen Kane -- these are all classics and really should be seen because they are so excellent. I was a little surprised when a few peeps were particularly adamant that I see this one. I mean, I'd heard of it, but it was never huge on my radar back in the 80's. I was in a huge music phase back then, buying up cheap vinyl at Second Hand Tunes, precluded by totally wearing out my copy of The Cure's Head on the Door. I just wasn't too much into going to the cinema.

This is such a cute movie. Very simple and silly, for the most part. And then! In the middle, it gets all sorts of weird and surreal and screwed up and EVIL, and it sort of stays that way until the very end. In fact, I was really not sure what sort of movie this was until I got to the plot resolution, because you really just don't know if everything's going to turn out to anyone's satisfaction.

The disc I received is of a version that's very no-frills, even though there is a nice little making-of documentary (with a little too much focus on the resulting sequels and such). The biggest thing I noticed was the transfer quality - I almost felt a little motion sickness at the beginning title cards because it was as if they had chosen the most rickety projector and dirtiest print, and then aimed a mediocre-quality camera at the screen to record it for digital format. Ugh. It seemed to steady up as the movie continued, but I really regret not being able to see this in better color and resolution. The style was so fun and consistent that it would've been nice to see it close to its original glory. Ah well.

I heart Blanky sooooooo much. SO. MUCH.
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The Titfield Thunderbolt

This is one of the most charming little movies I think I've ever seen. My mom suddenly remembered recently that she'd seen it and loved it, and for some reason really wanted me to see it as well. Charming was one of her words, and the movie totally takes that descriptor to heart.

A small town decides to take on the railway service to London after it's discontinued in the wake of the popularity of buses. Wacky hijinx ensue, with plenty of cheesy British rolling up of sleeves and blustery gumption. Cute and sweetly positive.
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Battlestar Galactica, Miniseries

Interesting enough premise that I am encouraged to watch the proper first season of this reincarnation. There's a bit of the old melodrama laced over some of the most serious moments, but the acting is so good that it's like a nice bit of addiction to keep you watching for the next plot arc to emerge, the next conflict to make itself shown. The mystery and paranoia are good, as is the structure of the tech. It all comes off as pretty believable. Especially having Starbuck be this incredibly hot chica. My mom hates that, by the way. She hates "when they do that," when they change things like gender or fundamental elements of a story in ways that she finds gratuitous.

I suppose I might agree with her if I could remember enough of the original series to make an honest comparison in my head, but I don't, so I don't really care. Plus, she's hot.

Anyway, I can't wait to watch the series, and I am trying to make a concerted effort to get into the Netflix swing of things so I can do that ASAP before the next season begins.

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