Sunday, January 24, 2010

Up in the Air

So what is this one about?
Netflix tells us,
Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) racks up miles flying around the country firing employees on behalf of companies. But he faces losing the job he savors to recent college grad Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) -- and losing the ability to escape emotional ties to anything. A connection he builds with Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), however, might change his outlook on the future. Golden Globe winner Jason Reitman's smart comedy also stars Jason Bateman.
It should probably more accurately say "the ability to escape emotional ties to everything" because that is what it really seemed like he was trying to do. To be an island. (Also, I frequently mistake Jason Reitman and Jason Bateman, I know who both of them are...but their names are just too, too similar!)

And how much did I pay to watch?
For all those times my mother has treated me to movies, I treated her. So I paid $14. Interestingly enough, if we had gone to Cinema DeLux instead, that is what I probably would have paid for only one of us. Thank heavens for locally owned, independent theatres ;)

And what did I think?
When I see television ads for this movie they use a trite description that declares "Up in the Air is a movie for our time!" Except that is really, really, really is! It is an absolutely correct statement. Whether it is that I have never seen one, or that now I am much more aware of, well, everything, I have never seen a movie that so wholeheartedly encapsulates the zeitgeist of a point in time--specifically "these times".

Everyone in the film is so desperate for a connection. Isn't that sort of what popular culture is consistently selling us? All these dating reality shows--where 500 women fling themselves at one man because all of them so badly want that connection (or maybe they just want to be on tv...who knows?)--and the commercials for and and, isn't that what they are telling us? That in today's world of go-go-go and digital communication instead of face-to-face communication, that we are really all very desperate to connect with people in a very real and authentic way? It seems like if someone wants to make a connection, they can't. And then those that are alone and like being that way, will realize that they actually don't really want to be alone.

So what does any of that actually mean? Well, as far as movie things go, the acting was excellent. Why? Because you really start out not liking the characters, or not caring about them. But at the end you are so wrapped up in them and their issues. It is funny and poignant and affecting. Everything about it was excellent. I don't know if America wasn't suffering from a recession, and the auto industry wasn't in the toilet, and people are trying to blow up airplanes on Christmas, that the movie would have been as absolutely spot on as it was. If the movie had been made in 2002 when Reitman started writing the screenplay it wouldn't have been nearly as excellent as it was when it came out in 2009.

I guess that can be the theme of today's entries. Right place, right time.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
The movie was absolutely crushing. Just the way I like them. It was exactly, exactly, exactly the sort of sad I like, because sometimes it feels like the sort of sad that my life is when I get to thinking about it. (I am actually a pretty happy person, not really emo at all, but I understand Ryan Bingham's dealy).

This will likely win Oscars--and probably whatever other stupid awards they do before the Oscars--and it will deserve them. But it isn't so stupid and simplistic that it is like the typical Oscar formula (at least, I don't think so). I'd love to read the book, because I love to see the way movies slaughter good books--but I don't think this one was really close to the book, rather more of an adaptation--and then see the movie again.

But for now, I will give it a 10. It is certainly my choice for awards this year. Not that Precious movie... I swear...*shakes head*


So what is this one about?
Netflix tells us
This heartfelt documentary was created by award-winning French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet, who simply set out to make a movie about a rookie NYC fireman and ended up filming the tragic event that changed our lives forever. The program includes additional footage and interviews with the heroic firefighters, rescue workers and the Naudet brothers, providing exclusive insight to their extraordinary firsthand experience of the day's events.
Woah. Talk about right place, right time.

And how much did I pay to watch?
Got it on the 'flix. But I am not sure how much I paid.

And what did I think?
Well, I rented this one because The Bob and Abe Show recommended it as Bob's favorite (or was it Abe's favorite?) documentary of the decade. (As you have seen, mine would be considered Children Underground). I was interested in what these guys saw in this film.

Now, as I said, right place, right time, for sure. I found the two Frenchie filmmakers very sympathique (as the French would say) and entirely adorable. It was actually the relationship of the two brothers that I found more affecting than the actual 9/11-New York stuff. I am pretty sure that doesn't make me an awful American. (It isn't that I find 9/11 stuff in general un-affecting, but for some reason this movie just didn't really do it for me. Now, if you want to see some 9/11 stuff that just rips your heart out, you gotta come to Washington, to the Newseum--yes, the museum of news--to the 9/11 Gallery sponsored by Comcast: Chronicling the Attack on America and the 11 minute video they have. Talk about the waterworks!)

The conclusion of the film was very shocking. But it was shocking in a nice uplifting way. It was really unexpected--maybe that is why I didn't find the movie that affecting?

I don't know. The footage was amazing. Like nothing you would ever imagine. Ever. I suppose the film is really worth watching for that alone. What was it like on that day on Ground Zero? This is 100% the closest you would ever get if you weren't there (which, of course, I was not. I was safe in my dorm when the 2nd plane hit and was away from Washington in my Political Science 101 class when the plane hit the pentagon--a mere 15 miles from my home) and for that insight this film deserves all the credit it has been given.

I suppose that is the thing about documentaries, eh? The filmmakers don't write scripts, and sometimes the things that happen in the subject's lives write the film and take it in a new direction. For this reason, I suppose, it is one of the truest documentaries that was made in the 2000s, if not in the 20th-21st century. The filmmakers explain in their narration that the events of the day really did change the direction of their film. So, kudos to them for being able to do so very well.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
For all of the reasons above, I think this film deserves at least an 8. Like I said, it was the relationship between the filmmaker brothers that I was so intrigued by and for some reason the other "plot lines" weren't as affecting. However, it was an excellent achievement brought on by pure luck on the part of the filmmakers (maybe not so lucky for America) and by their ability to take what they had an make it work.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunshine Cleaning

So what is this one about?
The 'flix tells us,
Financially on shaky ground yet determined to send her son to a top private school, Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) teams up with her unreliable sister, Norah (Emily Blunt), to start a new company that specializes in biohazard removal and crime scene cleanup. Tired of doing all of the work for other people, whether in her job cleaning homes or in her failed relationships, Rose is finally ready to use her entrepreneurial spirit to tidy up her own life.
Doesn't that description just make you smile? It makes me smile.

And how much did I pay to watch?
I got it via netflix. Though, it didn't take me as long to watch it and return it as other movies I've gotten recently. Less than a month, in fact. What an accomplishment!!

And what did I think?
Well, I thought this movie would be sort of quirky and cute, but it was pretty much quirky, dark and depressing.

As the audience you really want things to go well for Amy Adams (as an aside, I've never really liked her very much. She always looks like she is going to cry, but that really worked in this role, because I think she pretty much was always on the verge of tears), she really deserves to have something go well--be it in her personal or professional life--and it just [SPOILER], well, doesn't.

Emily Blunt, as her sister, is the same way. She is very, very "deep down sad. The kind of sad that just takes time" and apparently it will take a lot of time. She was just drifting in this very emo way. As their father, Alan Arkin was also depressing.

I will tell you who I really liked was the armless guy who worked at the cleaning supply store. Though I don't like for their to be romantic undertones in every movie, I really wanted Amy Adams to get with him. Alas.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
This movie was just sort of meandering and depressing with not a whole lot of forward motion or positive character development. There was insight into why the characters were do depressive but that didn't really create a cohesive movie.

It was ok though. 5.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Top Ten Movies of the 2000s

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOK. Happy New Years and all that good stuff. If you know me you know that New Years Eve is like my least favorite thing in the world. So, my friends and I ate some dinner, drank some beers, I fell asleep during Jersey Shore, went home, started watching Paranormal Activity and fell asleep. I know, I am a wild woman.

On big bad NYD I finished watching Paranormal Activity (review coming soonish--sooner than usual, because I am making a concerted effort this year to never have more than two movies to review at any given time), then I watched the NHL Winter Classic--go Boston, phuck Philly!--and the announcement of the Team USA men's hockey team (go team Russia! and who are those American guys? I knew like four of them..two of whom were goalies... GO RYAN MILLER!) Then I took a 4 hour nap. All in all, a pretty great way to start the new year.

So, everyone is putting out these best of the year/best of the decade lists. I normally wouldn't partake in this sort of craziness, however, my friends at The Bob and Abe Show already asked me for my best of the decade, movie-wise, so I have my list already. I spent a lot of time thinking about it while I was busy at work one day. This is what I came up with. Let's do this thing in reverse order, shall we?

My Top 10 of the 2000s:
10) Good bye, Lenin! (2003) Have you seen this? It is awesome! It is one of those fall of communism movies I am so into. And the relationship between Alex and his mother is just so freaking precious.

9) Black Hawk Down (2001) My BFF and I saw this movie together in the theatre. Ah, nostalgia. Holy crap, this one is awesome! One I can, and have, and will (so look for the review) watch over and over again. There is literally nothing I can find wrong with this one. And this true life story is amazing on screen!

8) Shaun of the Dead (2004) My love of zombie movies runs deep and this was one of the most innovative of the decade--though Romero made 2 (TWO!) movies this decade--Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead (how I have not reviewed either of these?) and had a solid remake of one of his movies--Dawn of the Dead--again, how have I not reviewed this? I watch it all the time! I'd include it on this best of the decade list but I don't think there would be much agreement on it.

7) Love Actually (2003) This is included this high on my list hesitantly. I love it, and it is a great movie, but maybe it should be number 10 instead of number 7. Is Love Actually better than Shaun of the Dead or Black Hawk Down? I dunno. But like Chris--Bob's brother--said on the show, this movie is so classic because every single person who watches it can relate to one of the plot lines. My favorite one is the one with Laura Linney and her brother. Because remember kiddies, all love is not romantic love.

6) Donnie Darko: the Director's Cut (2001) Have you seen the Director's Cut? It is so much better than the original cut! Now, unlike Bob--clearly the smartest guy ever--I couldn't really figure out what was going on in Donnie Darko. My excuse was that I was just out of High School when it came out. However, when I was in college and the Director's Cut came out it made so much more sense. I will rarely admit that I am a little dumb, or common, but I liked this one better because I understood what was going on better.

5) The Pianist (2002) Love me some Roman Polanski. And Adrien Brody. And the music. This may be one of the most "obvious" choices on this list. It was an Oscar winner and it contains all those guarentees of one. (remember that Kate Winset episode of Extras where she said you either have to either play a retard or be in a Nazi movie to win an oscar?!) But Adrien Brody is just so good and Roman Polanski, I am sure, was waiting to make this movie his entire life. I think the fact that the movie concentrated on his music instead of like being in a camp makes it less trite--you know, so it wasn't like Life is Beautiful. *rolls eyes*

4) Gran Torino (2008) wow, why is this movie so good? And why doesn't it get the credit it is due? The fact that Clint Eastwood was not nominated as either director or actor in this film is entirely ridiculous. And like I have said a million times, the reason this movie was so good was that it was so unexpected. Unexpectedly hilarious, unexpectedly tragic, unexpectedly wonderful. Kudos Clint!

3) Children Underground (2001) I have told so many people to watch this, but I have a feeling no one has. It is a truly devastating film. Maybe if I give you the description you will want to see it. In Communist Romania the government wanted it's citizens to have children--as opposed to in the Soviet Union where the government didn't want people to have kids because it would distract from them being good communists--and provided all sort of material and financial incentives to parents when they had kids. It made parents have kids they didn't want and didn't care what happened to them. This is a story of the abandoned children who live in the Bucharest subway station. It is the truly devastating picture of the post-communist experience, much more devastating and realistic than 4 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days. It is also much better than Born into Brothels...though it was similar. Basically, I am biased because I do Eastern European stuff

2) Downfall (Der Untergang) (2004) There weren't a lot of foreign films on best of lists. Sad. Because this one was 100% the best. The first time I saw it I was just spellbound. Bruno Ganz is extraordinary as Hitler. I cannot, cannot, CANNOT emphasize how amazing his acting was. The film was captivating. It gives you chills to watch it. It is very long though and somewhat laborious. I would still recommend it. It is amazing. And it has one of my favorite foreign actresses in it (one of my favorites? really? who are the others??) Alexandra Maria Lara. She is great.

1) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) It actually sort of offends me that this wasn't at the top of every reviewer's "Best of the Decade" list. This movie is clearly the best. Think of how innovative, wonderful, sad, romantic, and visually amazing it was. 100%, unquestioned, the best movie of the Oughts.

Honorable Mentions:

~28 Days Later (2002) Also zombies (are they really zombies? they were infected with rage. Were they dead? oh, the intricacies of zombism!) and also pretty innovative. Good Work Danny Boyle. 28 Weeks Later was also enjoyable but not nearly honorable mention material.
~Band of Brothers (2001) A miniseries, but the best gd miniseries of the 2000s. The 2nd best one was clearly John Adams.
~Before Sunset (2004) I love it, and Linklater is kind of a big deal.
~Bowling for Columbine (2002) God that Michael Moore is a pain in the ass. But this one is pretty solid.
~Once (2006) when is the last time you saw a legit musical? I'm not talking Moulin Rouge! but like actually a reasonable, accessible musical. It was the last time you watched Once, thats when!
~The Ring (2002) How much did this movie re-define horror movies? Wasn't this one of the first creepy Japanese remakes? When she crawled out of the tv at the end I almost lost my shit right there in the theatre!
~Super Troopers (2001) I watched this movie once a week in college. That doesn't make it good though...but it is entirely quotable and entirely funny.
~Superbad (2007) God this movie is hilarious. HILARIOUS. The bromance, that is definitely one of the themes of the 2000s. And how sweet is Michael Cera?
~The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) This movie didn't get any credit from anyone. It was great (but very slow) with amazing acting and haunting music.
~There Will Be Blood (2007) Easily the best movie quote of the decade came from this movie. Who drinks you milkshake? I drink your milkshake. I drink it up. SLUUUUUUUUUUUURP. Very slow with amazing music and Daniel Day Lewis? Come on. That guy is a ridiculous actor.

Dishonorable Mention:
Slumdog Millionaire (2008) give me a gd break. Typical Hollywood via 3rd world country bullshit. How can the guy who directed 28 Days Later come up with this? If you wanna watch an actual movie watch City of God, or Born Into Brothels, or even Children Underground. Glamorizing poverty is gross. When you see real unfortunate situations you wont think it is so great anymore. I guess the problem is that "the masses" don't watch movies like those.
Ok. The cinematography was pretty good.

Lastly, I want to plug I don't know much about them, but they provided that sweet best of the decade graphic. They don't know they did but I just credited them, so there shouldn't be a problem, right?! (yikes) (Maybe this year when I become a professional blogger they can be one of my sponsors. Wouldn't that be fun? Please don't sue me!!)

I want to post a link to their The 50 Best Movies of the Decade. They asked their readers to pick their 10 Best Movies of the Decade. This is what they came up with:

10. The Departed
9. City of God
8. Almost Famous
7. Memento
6. Pan’s Labyrinth
5. Lost in Translation
4. There Will Be Blood
3. Amélie
2. The Royal Tenenbaums
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I've clearly got to spend more time reading Paste Magazine, because their readers clearly know what is up.

As a final note, it was pure coincidence that the place that provided the sweet image had my #1 as their reader's #1. Isn't that fortuitous?!?!

Happy New Years, kiddies!!