Movies Viewed And Reviewed In 2008
- 1 : Film Geek (2005) [B+/82] - This is such an uncomfortable film on so many levels. But through the discomfort, it's such a unique and simple vision that it's beautiful. Or as Scotty would say, "awesome."
- 2 : Enchanted (2007) [C+/68] (S) - There were some really cheesy moments but it does what was promised for the most part - takes fairy tale conventions and plays them up against the real world and it does it in a convincing way.
- 2 : Godspell (1973) [C/59] - When it tries to be serious, which is sadly not often enough, it's poignant. When it's trying to be funny, it's just dated and lame. Though it's a brilliant religious left interpretation.
- 4 : Reign Over Me (2007) [B/78] - Treats the subject of mental illness and 9/11 really wonderfully delicately and even-handedly. It just might have been better as a pure drama though.
- 5 : Day Watch (2006) [C/56] - I'm not sure if this movie makes total sense in any language. Gone is what made the first movie liveable, mythology and back story. Now it's just screaming, heavy metal, and slow-motion punching.
- 6 : Into The Wild (2007) [B/76] (S) - Like most people, this movie definitely made me want to hit the road. The movie was breathtaking at points but in going with the transitive nature of the character, it just meandered too much.
- 7 : The American Hobo (2003) [B+/80] - This is an extremely interesting film with just enough info to make it interesting without getting bogged down. Though I have seen some better docs on the subject on the History Channel.
- 9 : Shrek The Third (2007) [C/57] - This series is seriously played out. It does advance the storyline but how many "I'm an ogre with a heart of gold" stories does one world really need?
- 10 : This Christmas (2007) [B/75] (S) - It almost rises to the level of a Christmas classic. A great ensemble cast and some issues that never rise to a silly level as in so many "dysfunctional family" comedies.
- 11 : Die Hard 2 (1990) [C/62] - A little more disbelief has to be suspended than the first movie (I mean, taking on a crack rogue army unit?) but it's still good fun (though not as funny). Fred Thompson, scumbag he is, is a delight. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 12 : Eastern Promises (2007) [A-/83] - A scary portrayal of an underworld that fits well within the tradition of American gangster films but with a decidedly English and Eastern European feel making it unique.
- 13 : The Trials Of Henry Kissinger (2002) [B/76] - Shocking but completely devoid of new information to anyone who has studied the CIA's actions over the past 40 years in depth. But that's not very many people so it's an interesting primer. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 13 : Shooter (2007) [B/79] - Enough political content to make this a great anti-hero action movie. It's a tight conspiracy movies and best of all it lets the villains' p.o.v. out without judging it. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 14 : The Champ (1979) [B-/74] - The tears are all there but they seem a bit forced at times like in a lot of 1970s dramas. It's still got great, real feeling characters and a good story though.
- 16 : Into The Woods (1990) [A-/84] (TV) - "West Side Story" used to be my favorite "pure" musical but I think this may have overtaken it. It's so complex and deep (though moralistic at times) but remains funny and touching throughout.
- 16 : Can Mr. Smith Get To Washington Anymore? (2006) [B+/82] - One sided with Jeff Smith seemingly a knight in shining armor. However, this is overcome by the fact that the "war room" aspects of it are amazing. Better than any scripted narrative like this. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 17 : Charlie Wilson's War (2007) [B/78] (S) - It's really amazing how much is packed into this really short film. It's worthwhile just for the snappy politically humorous dialog. And it's actually never screeds like it could have done. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 18 : Street Fight (2005) [A-/83] - Actually made me long for televised battles of half-truths and Rovian tactics. This was actually a scary, unglamorous political battle carried out at street level third world intimidation style. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 19 : Runaway Train (1985) [B/77] - Besides the characters being annoyingly one-dimensional (except for John Voight who gives an amazing performance as a prisoner with nothing to lose) this is one of the smartest action films ever.
- 19 : One Bright Shining Moment (2005) [B-/74] - More a "Biography" type documentary than anything politically astute (and the one-sided narration doesn't help this fact). Still it's like a treasure trove of facts on the 1968 and 1972 elections. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 19 : Atonement (2007) [C+/66] (S) - It honestly felt like three different movies that never quite tie together into one. It takes three acts a bit far. The ending makes the movie seem better than it actually is throughout.
- 20 : Giuliani Time (2005) [B-/70] - A really scary portrait of NYC under the regime of "Rudy" that reminds people of the pre-9/11 mayor. It lets him defend himself in his own words but only the evil ones. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 20 : Ratatouille (2007) [B/75] - Never grows into tiring cliches like so many other animated films. The animals aren't cutesy, the humans aren't clueless, and the two worlds never mesh too nicely (well, until the end).
- 21 : The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) - [B/77] - A really lovely, tender comedy. It's only when it tries to go over the top (like with the claymation animals) that it loses its charm and just seems a bit silly.
- 22 : Our Brand Is Crisis (2005) - [C+/67] - Focuses so much on the backroom strategy that the general feel of the country is lost (sort of like the candidate himself). Would have been a better film if it followed multiple candidates. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 23 : This Divided State (2005) - [B/78] - The tension can be felt right through the television screen. The joy of this film is that it's painted in terms of free speech v. no free speech and not left versus right. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 24 : National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (2007) - [C/59] (S) - Without the wonderful Illuminati background of the first the sequel really falls flat. So flat that it's impossible to forget it's a Disney movie in its sort of fun, but not really, joyride. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 25 : Persepolis (2007) [B-/74] (S) - Gets from point A to point B in a funny, enlightening way but still seems to just be trying to get from point A to point B. It is a fascinating take on an important history from a personal viewpoint.
- 26 : Class Action (1991) [B-/72] - Wish there had been more in the courtroom and less on the mats. The only thing missing at some points was gunplay. There are some truly touching moments but none to do with the law. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 26 : Cool Hand Luke (1967) [B/79] - Certainly the quintecential rebel movie and the template which many prison movies ("Shawshank Redemption" comes to mind) were based on. The only thing is his desire to escape was too sudden.
- 27 : So Goes The Nation (2006) [A-/83] - This movie left me alternatingly feeling queasy and wanting to cry. It opens a lot of old wounds but never in an overtly partisan way. It's really just a text book on campaign management. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 28 : The Year Of The Yao (2004) [B/76] - It's sort of amazing how much the NBA walks on eggshells in this film. It might have been better without the NBA endorsement so we could find out what the cultural side of Yao coming over was.
- 28 : Rudyland (2001) [C/64] - Not very in-depth and sort of shoddily made. It seems like it was a Rudy primer made for people with really short attention spans (or who live in NYC and just needed a refresher). [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 30 : Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man (2006) [B/77] - Despite the title (which is explained in the first few minutes), this is a fair documentary that gives a complete history of Ralph Nader, warts and all (though it does cast him in a favorable light). [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 31 : The Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep (2007) [C/63] (S) - "Pan's Labyrinth" if it was made (and slightly ruined in the process) by the people who did "Free Willy." It does have a certain Scottish charm though and great scenery.
- 1 : Black Picket Fence (2002) [B-/73] - I like how the two narratives of two ways of life to get "out of the hood" blend together. Left me caring enough about the two protagonists to want to know where they are now and if they made it.
- 1 : 2 Days In Paris (2007) [B/79] - Now this should have been the sequel to "Before Sunrise." It's so well written and so real that it almost transcends film making. And to top it all off, it's hilarious.
- 2 : Home (2005) [C/58] - An extremely frustrating documentary for the fact that the subject doesn't acknowledge the wall with the documentarian. Also there seems to be not a lot of urgency to the situation of the subject.
- 4 : Senator Obama Goes To Africa (2007) [B/77] - This film poses a chicken/egg problem. Either it shows how his mindset was informed due to Africa or it was trying to justify it. Either way, the footage of a real Africa makes it worthwhile. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 6 : Running With Arnold (2006) [C/57] - So few neutral voices that it's just a partisan hack job. Though if even half of the screeds are true, it's an eye opening reflection on the cult of personality that California seems stuck in. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 7 : The Golden Compass (2007) [D+/47] (S) - Way too much to pack into one movie but the film makers try to compensate for this by reintroducing characters over and over through the protagonist. A true visual only piece of crap.
- 7 : Journeys With George (2002) [B/78] (TV) - I had always heard about Bush getting away with everything in the 2000 race because he charmed the press corps. This movie brilliantly shows how this happened. And he is very charming. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 8 : An Inconvenient Truth (2006) [B+/80] - Absolutely mouth dropping. I know there are doubters and Gore does resort to hyperbole on occasion but it does a good job of pointing to just how global warming could effect every aspect of life. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 10 : Who Killed The Electric Car (2006) [B/77] - An extremely good "follow the money" story made better by the fact that this was more about consumer choice and not as much about regulation. Plus it did make me cry for the car like a real death. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 10 : Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993) [B+/81] - Takes the stage parent movie and turns it on its head at every turn. Unfortunately, it fails to do the same thing for the arch-nemesis. Still, this movie is to chess what "Rounders" is to poker.
- 11 : Everything's Cool (2007) [B/75] - Of all the global warming documentaries out there, this one is the most straight-forward history on the subject. It's definitely for those without doubts on the subject though. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 12 : The Oil Factor (2005) [B/76] - The title of the movie is very misleading as the amount of coverage of U.S. oil interests is minimal. It does, however, present a strong case for non-military reconstruction efforts in the region. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 13 : Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (2007) [B+/82] (S) - So well acted that it's easy to forget it's a musical. Could have ended up so campy but the depth of Sondheim shines through and is enhanced by the visual of Burton. And Bonham-Carter is to die for.
- 14 : Nice Guys Sleep Alone (2000) [B/76] - The acting is noticably poor but there was a certain, very endearing, Kevin Smith quality to the film. There are some truly memorable lines in this overall mediocre effort.
- 14 : It Happened One Night (1934) [B/77] - One of the sassiest movies ever made. But through all the biting dialog and good story, it felt at times like sort of a silly caper. But maybe that's all it needed to be.
- 15 : Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers (2006) [B/79] - Does spend too much time on the families of the fallen contractors rather than statistics. Its central premise should probably be infuriating to anyone who wants good government or is patriotic. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 16 : Shut Up And Sing (2006) [B/75] - As far as a story of speaking truth to power and its consequences, this film was great. A flaw is that it jumps around the timeline taking a shorthand approach assuming the audience knows the story. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 17 : Tommy (1975) [C-/53] - I'm not sure if this even qualifies as a rock opera in the film version since it's just a collection of random, disconcerting images that would probably require being altered to appreciate.
- 18 : All The President's Men (1976) [B-/71] - Journalism can be a grinding, boring profession which is why I switched majors in college after starting there. This movie shows the behind the scenes well but in the process moves really slow. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 20 : Fidel (2002) [B-/73] - Does an amazing job of showing Castro's impact on the world that is greatly ignored. What it does a poor job of is painting the full picture of Castro's Cuba. It's filled with Castro apologists. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 21 : Michael Clayton (2007) [B-/74] (S) - I've never seen a power player movie where the players have so little power. They needed to turn up the heat by at least two degrees to make it exciting. It was great lines operating in a vacuum.
- 21 : Blame It On Fidel (2006) [B/78] - At first, it's really hard to like this bratty kid and feel for what's happening to her. But in the end, this is a good story told well about the effects of political movements on the family.
- 22 : Talk To Me (2007) [B/77] - Billed as a drama, it incorporates a bit too much comedy (which is odd since Petey Greene was a comedian). The "fight the power" aspect was played a bit too much into the background as well.
- 23 : History Of Talk Radio (2005) [D/42] - They must have paid the entire budget of this film to get stars like King to do interviews. It's a hit and run history to be sure with no ebbs, flows, and very few opinions (so unlike the subject).
- 24 : Left Of The Dial (2005) [B/77] (TV) - A great warts and all behind the scenes look at mismanagement, ego conflicts, and how to fail when a lot is on your side. Shows the truth behind why Air America struggles (and it's not ratings). [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 24 : Pootie Tang (2001) [C-/51] - A lot of it seemed like Chris Rock making inside jokes. There are classic bit parts (like Bob Costas) that are hilarious but it's like a MTV video gone horribly wrong for the most part.
- 25 : Girl 6 (1996) [C/55] - The worst part of this movie may be Spike Lee's acting (the worst of his career) but his directing isn't far behind. He tries to sneak in too many styles and completely ruins the story.
- 26 : Chisholm '72: Unbought And Unbossed (2004) [B-/70] - Really doesn't examine the campaign as much as it could have. Basically just follows it chronologically. But it does let Shirley speak and shows a forgotten part of the '72 election. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 27 : Bamboozled (2000) [B-/72] - Such an important movie made sort of badly. There are moments of poignance such as when the actors are putting on black face that show what this movie could have been but just wasn't.
- 28 : Cloverfield (2008) [B+/82] (S) - There is only one word to describe this film - overwhelming. Taking the monster movie to the ground level of the people you only see running in most films of the genre was brilliant!
- 28 : Planet Brooklyn (2007) [C/56] - This movie is so quiet and unassuming that I feel bad rating it low. However, for a romantic comedy there's not much comedy or romance. What it does have is real feeling of genuineness.
- 29 : Malcolm X (1992) [B/77] - This movie is long due to the ourageous amount of effort spent on his time on the streets. It does provide some context but this movie doesn't get good until it really gets into Malcom X not Little. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 1 : The Murder Of Fred Hampton (1971) [C/58] - I think the problem with this movie is it was made at a time when documentaries just documented. There was no cohesive theme and no real emotional attachment in any way. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 2 : The Darjeeling Limited (2007) [B/76] - Easy to tell Wes Anderson's heart was in this one but, as usual, his mind is in about twelve different places. Some very emotionally strong acting by the three leads though.
- 3 : Gandhi (1982) [B/78] - Got its power from making Gandhi into a Jesus-like figure which I'm not sure is what he would have wanted. Great movie but the Bollywood "Hey Ram" dealt with the issues involved slightly better. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 4 : Alvin And The Chipmunks (2007) [C-/53] (S) - Jason Lee is a terrible Dave. I understand he was acting to blue screen but I didn't know he was a blue screen. In general, this movie has more annoying moments than funny ones.
- 6 : The Devil Came On Horseback (2007) [B/79] - Beyond being just an eye opening fim on Darfur, this film serves as an apt metaphor for the helplessness much of the world feels about the situation and a show of the camera as a weapon of peace. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 7 : Ringmaster (1998) [C/56] - Worth watching as an explanation for why people watch Jerry Springer (for the perverted populism) but as far as movie making goes, this is a really hit or miss film in terms of funny.
- 7 : Eagle Vs. Shark (2007) [A-/83] - If you like Death Cab For Cutie and "Napoleon Dynamite" (but grown up) this film is your new favorite. It's a beautiful movie about seeing in others what they can't see in themselves.
- 8 : Vantage Point (2008) [C/64] (S) - Besides a few completely jaw dropping moments, this movie was sort of redundant. I wish they weaved the viewpoints into a narrative better instead of just retelling the story over and over. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 9 : Rocket Science (2007) [B+/80] - This movie is one of the most wonderfully unpredicatable and real films I've seen in a long time. It can be uncomfortable at times due to the main character's but that just makes it more wonderful.
- 9 : Gone Baby Gone (2007) [B-/74] - An incredibly strong first hour which drags the viewer along for an exciting ride. But then it turns into a huge conspiracy movie which seems a bit convoluted and lacked reveals.
- 10 : Battleship Potemkin (1925) [B/77] - There were many individual moving moments in the film, but to me the events in Odessa and the events on the Potemkin never quite tie together in any but a political way. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 10 : American Wake (2004) [C+/69] - Two charming, somewhat likeable (very) little stories of Irish-American life in Boston that never make sense why they're together. The soundtrack is just brilliant though.
- 12 : City Of Men (2008) [B-/73] (S) - The shock value is gone that made "City Of God" so great and the characters in this film don't quite rise to the level of hopelessness either. It's almost like war games at times.
- 12 : Junebug (2005) [B/78] - Starts out annoyingly stereotypical but develops into a really good family drama that could have taken place anywhere in the U.S. Though for a comedy, I didn't really laugh.
- 13 : There Will Be Blood (2007) [B+/80] (S) - This film is severly let down by its third act. The bang happens at the end of the second and it goes out with a whimper. Still the journey up to that point is interesting, intense, and well acted.
- 14 : In The Name Of The Father (1993) [B/78] - I couldn't help thinking the whole time how British the sensibilities of this film are but how they apply to us now more than ever. Not to pun but "The Boxer" had more punch. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 16 : The Butcher Boy (1997) [B/77] - The narrator (Francie as an adult) is incredibly distracting. But the story moves along nicely and shows more factors than most descent into madness movies. It really is disturbing at the end.
- 16 : A Mighty Heart (2007) [C/63] - It's always sad when a film with its heart in the right place falls on its face. There's not a lot of power here, just a straight ahead detective story which everyone already knows the ending to. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 17 : My Left Foot (1989) [B+/81] - It's one of those movies that needed subtitles even though it was in English but it's one of those universal movies that makes sense without much dialog as well.
- 18 : The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006) [C+/66] - I feel as though I know less about the Irish Civil War (which plays far too small a part in the movie) than I did going in. This movie is almost offensive in how they portray the revolution as well. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 19 : 27 Dresses (2008) [B/75] (S) - Just a good old romantic comedy. But unlike many recent films of the genre it's actually funny and pretty well acted. Derivitive doesn't matter when it's done as well as this.
- 20 : No End In Sight (2007) [B+/81] - This is the definitive documentary on how we won the war and lost the peace in Iraq. My only gripe is the reconstruction experts they interviewed offered no solutions to the problem as it stands. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 21 : What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962) [A-/83] - Bette Davis' performance is positively chilling. This film rises to Hitchcockian suspense overall. There are a couple of really odd convolutions in the story but in general it's near perfect.
- 22 : Bobby (2006) [B-/73] - This is far too much to squeeze into such a short time and some of the stories are unnecessary distractions. It's as if Estevez tries to squeeze all of the politics of the 1960s into 120 minutes. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 23 : Bottle Rocket (1996) [B/77] - Wes Anderson seems to work best on a small budget. It's not as touching as his other work but it's not nearly as self-indulgent either since he can't go hog wild with stupid effects.
- 24 : Miller's Crossing (1990) [B+/80] - This is a really complex movie but never to the point where it gets confusing unlike some. Gabriel Byrne's character is truly special and this is a real power broker gangster movie.
- 25 : Amongst Friends (1993) [C/58] - Gets really good points for having an accurate (and one of the best) soundtracks to set the mood and a flowing story. But there's never really anything to attach the viewers to any of the characters.
- 26 : The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) [C-/52] (S) - One of those mediocre movies that really doesn't deserve its fantastically heart wrenching ending. It's really scary for a kid's movie but it's also one of the more condescending ones.
- 28 : London (2005) [B-/71] - Jason Stratham is amazing, Jessica Biel is hot, and Chris Evans is Kevin Federline. I hated this movie about half way in and then it got really out of control crazy and almost great.
- 29 : Miss Potter (2006) [C+/67] - Much of this movie is everything wrong with both period pieces and biopics. There is a good subplot about the class system in England but this is a very tedious film by and large.
- 30 : Drillbit Taylor (2008) [C+/68] (S) - This movie was seriously made for Owen Wilson with his blend of charm and annoyance (sort of like the movie itself). It's genuinely funny, though entirely unbelievable at times.
- 30 : The Madness Of King George (1994) [B-/70] - A good historical piece that actually gives enough information so that the viewer doesn't need to actually know the story to enjoy it. There's nothing Earth shattering here, just British history. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 31 : Time Bandits (1981) [D/41] - Terry Gilliam was either stoned or smacked in the head until he became retarded when he wrote this. It almost manages to make John Cleese not funny and that takes a truly bad movie.
- 1 : The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen (1989) [C/61] - What saved this from being another stylistic Gilliam disaster was the great metaphors of aging and fantasy v. cold hard facts in this film. I only wish Robin Williams in it was a myth.
- 2 : Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005) [B/78] - If you're expecting a frolicking romp from this movie, it's not that film. There are some good laughs but there's some moving stuff about London during the blitz as well.
- 3 : The Bank Job (2008) [B-/74] (S) - It's sort of a boiler plate heist movie, but a boiler plate heist movie with Jason Statham lending his cool psychopath demeanor making it better. Nicely intricate and political as well.
- 4 : Chariots Of Fire (1981) [B-/73] - This movie felt like it was made in the 1920s, but not in a good way. Each character risks very little and gains a lot and for a movie that's supposed to be somehow inspirational.
- 5 : Shakespeare In Love (1998) [B/77] - Unlike so many other films that beat you over the head with it, I like how they snuck in some modern humor about acting and the like. Though I wish it were a tad bit funnier in a lot of places.
- 6 : 84 Charing Cross Road (1986) [B+/80] - This was not what I expected at all, it was so much better. It's actually a very sad story about the impact of two people on each other an ocean away. Definitely a movie for people who like plays.
- 7 : Billy Elliot (2000) [B-/72] - I would have enjoyed this movie more if Billy wasn't a dimwit unaware of his surroundings who danced like a spastic. Find your own way? Billy couldn't find his way out of a paper bag.
- 8 : The Knack...And How To Get It (1965) [C+/66] - I'm not quite sure I understood it and some of it tried to be a bit trippy a bit too hard. Still, it's a great film at gauging the generational divide in England in the 1960s.
- 9 : Sense And Sensibility (1995) [B/76] - Surprisingly enjoyable and whimsical (and it made me want to learn to write in Victorian English). Though it must be said that each actor was sort of typecast in this one.
- 10 : Juno (2007) [B/79] (S) - The writing in this movie is very good - perhaps a little too good as sometimes Juno comes off as a bit fake (but the other characters are pitch on). It's a smile inside movie to be sure.
- 10 : London (1994) [C/56] - A combination of bad poetry and great photography. I found myself wondering why this particular journey around London was judged by the writer to be in any way more interesting than any other.
- 12 : War Photographer (2001) [B-/74] - It's nearly impossible not to be moved by Nachtwey's photography but beyond showing an inside look at the world of war journalism, there's absolutely no narrative here at all.
- 13 : The Prisoner Or: How I Planned To Kill Tony Blair (2006) [B/77] - Does an extremely good job of putting a human face on Abu Ghraib and the conditions there as well as what's happening on the ground in Iraq. It really does show it's not all a horror story. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 15 : Standing In The Shadows Of Motown (2002) [B/78] - Like so many event films, it feels like it only scratches the surface of the story in the name performances and tributes. Still a valuable piece of work without which a lot would be lost to history.
- 15 : War & Truth (2007) [C/61] - The whole time it felt like something you go into a film booth for at a museum and nothing more - except instead of 20 minutes, it was stretched out to over an hour.
- 17 : The Bucket List (2007) [B/76] (S) - It sometimes degenerated into a bad "Odd Couple" ripoff and sometimes felt like Morgan Freeman's voice and not the directors but in general it's a fine movie about with an intereresting premise.
- 19 : Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2002) [B-/74] - Typical George Clooney direction. It has some interesting ideas for staging but leaves out important pieces of the story (and of course has slightly liberal satire). It's fun but not fun enough.
- 20 : Resurrecting The Champ (2007) [C/61] - This is a movie that doesn't really achieve the power that it could have. Josh Hartnett proves himself a worse actor than Hayden Christensen playing basically the same role from "Shattered Glass."
- 21 : Maxed Out (2006) [B/77] - It's sort of another shock piece where the villains are allowed to defend themselves but don't have much defense. It's a really scary look at how credit works in this country for many people. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 23 : The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) [B-/71] (S) - It made me want to learn more about the real history. Portman really pulled off playing this evil character. It's a morality play without being overly moralistic which was nice.
- 25 : Rebel Without A Cause (1955) [B/77] - Felt really far ahead of its time like it was trailblazing for what would follow in the 1960s. Still its look at outsider life with the clueless parents felt a bit too unrealistic.
- 27 : Duets (2000) [C+/68] - Does some very interesting things with karaoke but doesn't quite do for it what a movie like "Searching For Bobby Fischer" did for chess. Some great moments but it did drag at times.
- 28 : College Road Trip (2008) [C-/55] (S) - I'm not sure what demographic this movie was aiming at. There are some touching father/daughter moments but it really that funny in the way it went over the top sometimes.
- 2 : The Contestant (El Concursante) (2007) [B-/72] (S) - A very funny movie but it tips its hand right too soon. Also, it's a bit dry in discussing economic theory over stressing a parable about our society. [DCF]
- 3 : King Of Ping Pong (Ping Pongkingen) (2007) [B-/73] (S) - It's not "Napoleon Dynamite" no matter what reviews say. The outsider is not sarcastic, more suicidal. Some of the motivations were a bit off but the dark humor is there. [DCF]
- 7 : In Bruges (2008) [B/78] (S) - A really good morality play and one of the better crime comedies in recent times. Genuinely funny through all its twists and turns though a bit off at times in its dialog.
- 8 : Under The Same Moon (La Misma Luna) (2007) [C+/66] (S) - Such implausable moments and motivations. I swear if this movie was in English and not Spanish, it would be getting slaughtered. A truly average piece of work.
- 9 : The Gumball Rally (1976) [C+/68] - The very definition of big dumb 70s fun. The continuity errors were annoying to the point of distraction but I found the competition actually riviting and cared who won.
- 11 : Fandango (1985) [C/63] - Tries way too hard to duplicate "Easy Rider" (right down to the soundtrack) and the characters are one dimensional. Still it makes you want to get out on the open road.
- 12 : Interstate 60 (2002) [B-/74] - It's quite talky at times but it has a lot of interesting things to say. There are some sidetracks that didn't quite go along with the flow of the story but it's a fun if poorly acted little gem.
- 14 : The Bituminous Coal Queens Of Pennsylvania (2005) [C-/55] - Really just felt sort of pointless. When it focuses on the coal industry and its effect on the area it's almost good but the beauty pagent stuff that the movie centers around is just boring.
- 15 : 21 (2008) [B-/72] (S) - Even though it's possible to see the end (and the majority of the plot) coming a mile away, this is fun escapist entertainment. And I don't say that about a lot of movies.
- 15 : Friends Of God: A Road Trip With Alexandra Pelosi (2006) [C+/66] - This movie is interesting if not very well made. It's now a subject that's been explored in documentaries numerous times but the evangelical Christian subculture is always fascinating. [POLITICAL MARATHON]
- 16 : Cannonball (1976) [D/38] - Just what the world didn't need, a race movie with morality clauses. I swear the director was blowing up cars just to blow up cars. Bad fight scenes and horrible acting round out the "joy."
- 18 : The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters (2007) [B+/82] - The greatest movie for any underdog who's ever found themselves with the entire deck stacked against them. One of the first documentaries that no one dies in that made me cry.
- 19 : National Lampoon's Going The Distance (2004) [D-/33] - Maybe if every character wasn't an overused archetype ripped straight out of the "American Pie" movies, this could have been something. As it was, it was the worst Canadian film ever made.
- 22 : 10,000 B.C. (2008) [D/38] - The only way I kept myself vaguely entertained in this movie was figuring out which modern country they were in at a given point. For an epic, almost nothing interesting or epic happens.
- 24 : Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) [D+/46] - To me, they might as well have been talking in Martian. It goes from car speak to hippie speak and back. There is simply nothing to this movie from a modern perspective but the old vistas are cool.
- 28 : Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) [B+/80] (S) - Every scene ends with one gut splittingly funny line that makes you forget if the scene was good or bad. It's a typical story but almost surreally, wonderfully nuts.
- 30 : Blue State (2007) [B-/73] - An enjoyble, albeit flawed, road trip film. The politics are seemingly written by someone who doesn't understand anything besides "war is bad" but this person all knows a story arc.
- 31 : No Country For Old Men (2007) [A-/83] - Possibly the scariest non-horror movie in years. Bardem's Chigurh is beyond a character, he makes the mind wander in terror that someone like that could exist. A hold your breath movie throughout.
- 1 : Crossroads (1986) [D+/45] - Just a lot of nonsense strung together. The flashbacks are nice and well done but really sort of fluffy. And the guitar battle at the end is just sort of annoying.
- 5 : The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) [D+/48] (S) - Jackie Chan is his usual funny self but it's one of those annoying mythology pieces that seems like a video game rather than a film. Really have to enjoy kung fu to get a lot of the references.
- 9 : City Of Industry (1997) [C+/68] - Harvey Kietel v. Stephen Dorff in a battle of wits death match. Sign me up. The problem with the movie is it's better acted than anything else about it. Two great performances in a mediocre film.
- 10 : The Chase (1994) [D/42] - Not even a punk rock who's who could save this movie. Henry Rollins gives possibly his worst performance ever. This is a film school quality idea and slightly better execution.
- 11 : Made Of Honor (2008) [C-/51] (S) - The amount of chemistry displayed between the two characters is minimal. Or maybe it just hit too close to home for me to enjoy this unoriginal piece of pop music inspired dreck.
- 13 : This Revolution (2006) [D/37] - The amount of chemistry displayed between the two characters is minimal. Or maybe it just hit too close to home for me to enjoy this unoriginal piece of pop music inspired dreck.
- 15 : The Winslow Boy (1999) [B-/73] - Thankfully the Winslow Boy wasn't on screen much to ruin the movie (he's annoying). There are some truly strong characters even though nothing in the way of setbacks happen.
- 15 : Homicide (1991) [D/42] - I'd be embarassed if I was in Baltimore because it doesn't even portray ethnic tensions and other negatives well. A really pointless plot.
- 17 : A Night At The Roxbury (1998) [D+/48] - Not as terrible as I expected it to be (which was, really, one star). There are actually some truly funny moments but to try to carry a movie off of this particular SNL skit was quite a stretch.
- 18 : In The Heat Of The Night (1967) [B/77] - This is one of those movies that pulls no punches at all in a time where I'm sure this wasn't popular. A real shock to the system in every way that sentence can be construed.
- 19 : Baby Mama (2008) [B-/72] (S) - No one can deny the chemistry and comedic timing of Fey and Poehler (though I still find them both annoying). This is a good time even if a lot of the subplots are incredibly forced.
- 22 : Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008) [B-/74] (S) - Sure it wasn't as funny as the first but this one is more than just a caper movie. The political undertones are a bit off at times but they make for a good metaphor beyond the hijinks.
- 23 : Be Kind Rewind (2008) [B/77] - Some of this movie is a bit over the top (the magnetizing scene for example) but once it settles back into reality, this movie is funny, joyful ride about gentrification and movie magic.
- 26 : The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) [B-/71] (S) - Much better than the third even if Lucy is still the most annoying character ever. It's actually quite a sad and incredibly violent film and that surprised me.
- 30 : The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (2007) [B/78] - Sometimes this movie lets you share a little too much in the tedium of the main characters life but the camera perspective is unique if a bit jarring at first.
- 1 : Iron Man (2008) [C/63] (S) - So I just keep hearing about how this movie somehow transcends the super hero genre. If by transcends, you mean mixes in some liberal politics than transcendent it is.
- 3 : In The Valley Of Elah (2007) [B+/81] - This just might be the best military drama since "A Few Good Men." It's such an incredible statement on PTSD without condemning the military in any way. And Tommy Lee Jones is intense!
- 4 : Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) [C+/67] - Really a victim of its time and its wish to portray a dying man who did a lot for his country proudly. But, darn, this is one of those biopics that leaves out no details to its own detriment.
- 6 : Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939) [C+/69] - Seriously Robert Donat won an Oscar for this? For wearing a wig and making people cry? It's a good movie in its own right but it's really forced in its heartrending attitude.
- 8 : King Corn (2007) [B+/80] - It's amazing that so many docs with bigger budgets can't do what this little film can. Take a complex subject and distill it with humor, shocking facts, and portrayals of a dying form of Americana.
- 9 : The Incredible Hulk (2008) [C+/65] (S) - Two very good choices in this movie were casting Ed Norton who really brings some fine acting to the piece and skipping the origin story. One bad choice was an inanely long end fight scene.
- 11 : Freeway (1996) [B-/73] - This is one of the most screwed up movies that I have ever seen. But in its depravity on all sides, when it doesn't feel contrivedly so, it's a real shocking take on a lot of touchy subjects.
- 13 : Point And Shoot (2004) [C+/66] - It's choppy but slick. It's one of those movies that makes NYC seem like a foreign planet and isn't better for it. Still, there's a certain joy to seeing the progression of the relationship on film.
- 14 : Manufacturing Dissent (2007) [B/75] - Does a very good job of examining Michael Moore - warts and all and he doesn't look good - because it's not overtly partisan against him (unlike all of the righty hack jobs that have examined him).
- 15 : They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) [B+/82] - The greatest metaphor movie I have ever seen. One would never think a movie about a dance marathon could possibly be interesting but it truly has a bit of all of life's mysteries in it.
- 16 : The Young Americans (1993) [C/58] - I don't even think I understood what was going on in this film - and it wasn't just the thick accents. Somewhere along the line, as the British say, it lost the plot.
The reviews are my "two cents" from Netflix. I write them for every movie I see regardless of if I rented it from Netflix or not.
Bolded are movies watched in the last 24 hours (or 24 hours before the last update).
RATINGS KEY - my ratings are based up to 40/100 on quality of filmmaking and up to 60/100 on how much I personally liked it. Both are subjective mental calculations and I don't break them down except upon request. :)
Just a hint about weighing my ratings. I'm not really into films from before 1980. I just appeciate modern sensibilities a lot more. Chances are any film from the 1970s or before I rate a B, everyone else rates an A or A+.
93-100 (A+): One of my favorite movies of all time (usually reserved for second viewings of A and A-s that hold up). [*****]
86-92 (A): A really life changing movie. [****.5]
83-85 (A-): Moving and memorable or roll on the floor, can't breathe funny. [****.5]
80-82 (B+): Memorable, quotably funny, or otherwise separated from the pack of good movies. [****]
75-79 (B): Well made, good movies that will stand the test of time in my mind. [***.5]
70-74 (B-): Better than run of the mill but nothing to really differentiate themselves enough from the pack. Many good but boring movies end up here. [***]
65-69 (C+): Better than average fluff. Usually reserved for flawed movies that have redeeming qualities I enjoyed. [***]
56-64 (C): Most popcorn movies that I enjoy slightly but would never watch again. [**.5].
50-55 (C-): Flawed releases that I didn't enjoy but didn't hate either. [**].
44-49 (D+): Crap movies with at least something redeeming about them (like self-effacing humor). [**]
36-43 (D): Movies that left me wondering why they got greenlighted. [*.5]
27-35 (D-): Movies that I wanted to turn off or leave the theater except I make sure to always finish what I start. [*]
0-26 (F): Movies that actually cause me some degree of physical pain or discomfort to watch. [no stars or .5]
Direct to video releases are denoted by a (+).
Made for television movies are noted by a (TV).
Movies seen in the theater (big screen) are noted by a (S).
[CIFF] = Chicago International Film Festival
[DCF] = Filmfest DC