Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Movies

  1. The Village***...quiet and different from Shamyalan's other movies but still a very good look at our connectedness to each other, the importance of each individual's finding their own purpose, and also at how we cannot avoid violence in our lives.

  2. Lady in the Water***...also very different from Shamyalan's other movies but we enjoyed it quite a bit. A fairy story in modern times is how it has been labeled by some but we realized early on that it is urban fantasy a la Neil Gaiman's style of story telling. Again we see the director's common themes of our connectedness to each other and the importance of finding our own purpose in life. This is set against the theme of how it is important to leave behind preconceptions so we can see things for what they really are, as well as conquering fear and self doubt in order to do what we must.

  3. Helvetica***** ... are you a "typomaniac?" If you come out of this movie with a crush on Helvetica, as Hannah's friend Jenny did, then you know that the answer to that question should be yes! This documentary, done on the typeface Helvetica's 50th birthday, manages not only to tell us about this particular typeface but to remind the general viewer that type is now a design element that is all around us. In the various attitudes and feuds of the type designers that are interviewed, one also gets a glimpse of the passion that art arouses. Yes, even those who practice the art of graphic design. We had to wait for over a month to rent this documentary as it was always out every weekend. Which just goes to show how quirky our neighborhood is, full of designers and advertising people.

  4. Moliere**** ... a la Shakespeare in Love but much better done. On the point of his triumphant return to Paris, Moliere flashes back thirteen years to remember a pivotal time in his life. This is a very funny movie on several levels and if one knows his plays it is undoubtedly even funnier. As someone who does not know Moliere's work, I can recommend the movie anyway.

  5. 30Rock - The first season**** ... not a movie but surely logging in all these hours counts for something! Absolutely hilarious and we could kick ourselves for not having watched sooner. Set behind the scenes of a variety show a la Saturday Night Live, this focuses on the writers, actors, and management.

  6. Extras - The first season**** ... again not a movie but a truly funny and sometimes poignant British television series. Focusing on an actor who seems doomed to always be an extra and desperately wants to get a line in a production, this character-driven comedy is funny on many levels. Not the least of that comedy is that each episode features a well-known actor who is shown "behind scenes" with humor deriving from the fact that they are playing against type of their well known public personas. This is when you realize what good sports Kate Winslet, Patrick Stewart, and Ben Stiller really are. Doubtless I would realize that about British actors Ross Kemp and Les Dennis except I never heard of them before.

  7. Extras Finale movie***-essentially took longer and darker look at the last episode of season 2. A good and thoughtful look at the effects of fame versus standing up for what we believe ... but the funny moments are few and far between.

  8. Avenue Montaigne**** ... subtitled in French ... light comedy about a young waitress, Jessica, seeking her fortune in Paris. This is an area where the elite work and play. She comes into contact with a concert pianist, an actress, and a widower who is selling his art collection in a nearby gallery. Each character has a primary motivation behind their story which we see developed as the waitress carries trays across the street to where they live and work. Although this movie is handled quite differently from Amelie, the main message is quite similar; one must take a risk to gain what one needs from life. My favorite moments, and those which communicate the movie's sweet heart best, is watching Jessica's love for her grandmother shown through her patience. When her grandmother inevitably asks, "Did I ever tell you how I worked at the Ritz?" Jessica always says no and settles back to listen to the story again. Highly enjoyed by the whole family.

  9. Bourne Ultimatum****-finally another movie trilogy with three good movies to its name (Lord of the Rings being the other). This actually is the second half of the second movie. Well done and clever in the way it overlaps with parts from the second movie. An action thriller with "everyman" Matt Damon playing perfectly to the part of self realization at what he has become and what he wants to be instead.

  10. Once**** - quiet little movie about two musicians who meet and inspire each other. Probably gives the best authentic feel for what it is like to musically create something for those of us who never will.

  11. Death at a Funeral** - a so-so movie that has some very funny moments but that probably isn't enough to make you want to watch it.

  12. Across the Universe****-very good interpretations of over 30 Beatles' songs loosely strung together to tell the musical story of the rebellious Sixties nad an American girl and English boy who fall in love. Think "Shakespeare in Love" a la The Beatles, psychedelic scenes, Vietnam war protest and the like. Much more of a plot than I expected and the choreography for the dance scenes was fantastic. I especially enjoyed the Janis Joplin/Jimi Hendrix subplot. A bit long in places and the war scenes could have been trimmed considerably. However, recommended overall.

  13. No Reservations***-American remake of Mostly Martha (my review) is fairly good for the first two-thirds of the movie. However, due to their dropping an essential plot point from the original screenplay, the last third of the movie is left with nowhere original to go and, thus, "goes Hollywood" with a predictable ending. Not a bad movie, just not equal to the original.

  14. Second-Hand Lions****-a much better movie than the trailers would have had us believe. This successfully pulls off what Big Fish left unfinished ... characters that not only tell a very good story, but do so with a sense of growth and development, as well as closure.

  15. Juno*** -my review is here

  16. The Sons of Katie Elder** - this western has the star power but not the script or director to make it a great movie. It is really, really long though ... or maybe it just felt that way.

  17. The Bone Collector****-Denzel Washington is the forensics investigator who is paralyzed and wants to die. Angelina Jolie is the rookie cop with a natural eye for forensics who he pushes into helping investigate serial murders happening around NYC. Yes, there are some plot holes but I liked it anyway.

  18. Sweeney Todd****-The tale of the grief-crazed barber whose insanity turns him to murder. As well as his deluded partner from the pie shop downstairs whose insanity matches that of Todd as she merrily bakes the human remains into pies. This is Tim Burton so the blood is everywhere but this is quite an effective film. Revenge begets nothing but more revenge while redemption comes at the hands of a child.

  19. Guys & Dolls****-from when musicals were really musicals, this Damon Runyan story adaptation about gamblers hits some very high notes especially with Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra as the main two characters. Brando can sing much more than you'd think and he adds an edge of evil to the cynical character he plays. Choreography was done by the same person who did it for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. 'Nuff said.

  20. Iron Man****-Really great look at a comic book character who must reform his dissolute, uncaring life and take responsibility for having had his head in the sand while his company has actively hurt others. Robert Downey Jr. is perfect in this dual role of the rakish, devil-may-care playboy and reformed savior of the people.

  21. Lawrence of Arabia****--much better than I thought it'd be. I imagined something like Dr. Zhivago, long and boring and instead of ice ... lots of sand everywhere. There was sand with fantastically beautiful shots of the desert. This was a surprisingly compelling look at the life of an extraordinary man in extraordinary times. O'Toole did a fantastic job of portraying innocence and enthusiasm with a strange twist (how about that lit match thing?) which then turns into an intermittant Messiah-complex. It was sheer pleasure to watch so many great actors portraying the different roles ... especially young Omar Sharif. What a looker!

  22. Lars and the Real Girl****-my review is here.

  23. Wall-E*****--my review is here.
  24. This list doesn't included movies that were rewatched.

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