This post contains a chronological listing of the 40 MOVIES portion of the 1970 Kiki Project, January 9, 2010 – January 8, 2011 edition.
40. January 2 – Love and Other Drugs - I honestly wasn’t intending to watch the 40th movie for my project until next weekend. But last night we saw the trailer for this movie while at Black Swan (movie #39, see review, below) and it looked like a pretty funny rom-com. The vibe just seemed right to watch the final movie at our favourite Princess Twin Cinema, with B, tonight. (Although the temp has dropped and it was a much colder walk over than last eve! Brrr!).
Well, the preview was a bit of bait-and-switch! For the first thirty minutes, this film was upbeat, fast-paced and LOL funny. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Jamie Randall, is your typical wisecracking cad. Then he meets the Anne Hathaway character, Maggie, and you can see this will indeed be a boy-meets-girl/loses-girl/reunites-with-girl film. The story turns quite serious, as well (I won’t spoil it by divulging the how and why); I don’t think I laughed out loud again after the first third, except for scenes featuring Jamie’s brother – those did provide comic relief. All this being said, I did like the movie. The premise is unique, and the story imparts life lessons about love and values. As you have realized by now, I do love my relationship dramas, and tonight’s pick fit right into this category. [Sidenote: I would love to know how much money the drug giants, Pfizer and Eli Lilly, paid for their starring roles! I had not realized in the preview – or from reading the movie title, duh! – that the storyline would revolve around prescription drug sales].(Princess Twin Cinema, watched with B).
Rating: ** (two stars)
39. January 1 – Black Swan – I’m utterly at a loss for words as to where to start, and how to describe this film. It’s intense, riveting, perplexing, artistic…I’ll start with Natalie Portman, the protagonist. What a performance. Her portayal of the rigidly restrained, perfection-seeking Nina is spellbinding. This movie truly is a psychological thriller – what is real? what is psychosis? A whole study could be made solely on the relationship between Nina and her obsessive, disillusioned mother. The cinematography matches the mood of the film: black and white colouring, sharp lines dominate the scenes. Usually at a movie, I start glancing at my watch after about an hour; tonight, I never once thought to check the time, and as the final credits started to role, I was shocked and disappointed that the movie was over. This movie is not for the easily squeamish: be prepared for sudden blood, lesbian love and disturbing drama. But I’m really glad we saw this one – it’s totally unique from each of the other thirty-eight films, below, and one that I will ruminate on for days to come. (Princess Twin Cinema, watched with B).
Rating: *** (three stars)
38. December 28 – Last Chance Harvey – First off, the big news on this eve’s DVD rental is NOT the movie itelf, but the fact that we learned that our neighbourhood DVD independent, Gen X is closing as of the end of February! While this is way-too-bad news, I can’t say I’m shocked. Really, in the age of Rogers On Demand and internet downloading, isn’t it rather quaint to still visit a physical store to rent a movie? This store closing will certainly affect our means of watching films. I foresee a lot of Rogers On Demand picks in our future. Now, on to Harvey!…what a loser film. It’s my own fault – I based our selection on the length; I wanted a light relationship-type DVD, 90-ish minutes, only. Not the way to pick a movie! Let’s divide our review into thirds: the first 30 minutes was very good. We meet Harvey and Kate (Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson) and learn their stories individual story lines. The characters are interesting, although nothing unique. In the second third of the movie, the plot weakens considerably. We started to make wisecracks about all Harvey and Kate were doing during one day and evening. During the film’s final 30 minutes, we resorted to mocking the plot outright, calling out the very predictable progression of events (we were 100% correct) and complaining about how incompatible Harvey and Kate were (it really distracted us how much Kate towered over Harvey – he barely reached her ear). A much better movie which also depicts a British-American romance is The Holiday. Skip Harvey – it’s a groaner. (DVD rental from Gen X; watched at home on the couch with B).
Rating: * (one star) [B asked specifically that I quote him: “it’s not worth anything, but it deserves a courtesy star because I feel sorry for it!”]
37. December 24 – When Harry Met Sally – I had an A-Ha moment earlier this week: what could be more perfect for our annual Christmas Eve movie rental than my favourite movie of all time!…I had originally thought that I would watch this classic for Movie #40 of my project; however, #37 is close enough, and since a few scenes in the film occur during the holidays, it’s practically as seasonal as a Christmas special! There’s really not too much I can say in terms of doing a review: if it’s my favourite movie ever, then obviously, I love everything about it. I’ll just highlight that I’ve seen this movie 4-5 times since its 1989 release, and it gets better with every viewing. Watching this movie made for a merry Christmas evening, indeed. (DVD rental from Gen X; watched at home on the couch with B).
Rating: **** (four stars)
36. December 19 – The Town – At its most basic level, this is a cops n robbers film, but describing it as such is akin to saying Wayne Gretzky was a hockey player. Usually, I am not one for shoot ‘em ups, but The Town soars above your typical good guys/bad guys drama. Adjectives that apply? Gritty. Compelling. Engrossing. Touching. Ben Affleck scored a hit in his directorial debut Gone, Baby, Gone (I’d place it in my Top 10 movies ever seen). He scores again with The Town. Jon Hamm (sweet eye candy from Mad Men!) and Rebecca Hall (we googled mid-movie to determine where we recognized her from, and it would be Vicki Christina Barcelona) are strong leading characters, but the film revolves around Ben Affleck in his protagonist’s role. The only small distractions: I lost some of the dialogue due to mumbling/rushed speech, and I had to clarify what was going on a few times with B. It’s impossible to guess how the movie will end – I’d be surprised if you could predict the conclusion. The Town holds all the prerequisites for memorable movie watching. It’s a unique take on an old theme, with a satisfying yet unpredictable finish. (Rogers On Demand purchase; watched at home on the couch with B).
Rating: ***1/2 (three and a half stars)
35. December 12 – Rainman – As previously mentioned, I ‘ve known for a while that I wanted to include three specific movies in the 1970 Kiki Project. Rainman is one of them. This movie is one of my top five all-time favourites, for sure. Why? Let me count the ways: 1) Tom Cruise: the role of Charlie Babbitt showcases Tom Cruise’s strengths. He’s arrogant, self-centred, yet vulnerable…and very attractive! (Couldn’t believe that this movie dates to 1988!) I’m still a TC fan, even today; seeing Cruise in any movie still gives me warm fuzzies, and makes me feel like a love-sick teenager again. 2) Classic lines of dialogue – three favourites: “I’m a very good driver.” (Ray); “97-X, BAM! The Future of Rock n Roll.” (Ray); “Let me let you in on a secret, Ray. K-Mart sucks.” (Charlie). 3) Great soundtrack: from “Iko Iko” to “Nathan Jones” (performed by my 80’s fave, Bananarama) to the theme that plays through the Las Vegas scenes, I love it. 4) the storyline: superb life lessons, plus, humour. And lastly, 5) Dustin Hoffman: this is one of the defining roles of his career, definitely Oscar-worthy. I do believe I’ve only seen Rainman twice before, in all its entirety (have caught snippets here and there when it’s on TV) and I had forgotten a lot of details. All in all, hard to best this modern classic, and we thoroughly enjoyed our repeat viewing. (DVD rental from Gen X; watched at home on the couch with B).
Rating: **** (four stars)
34. December 8 – Valentine’s Day – I went Gen X in order to rent Love, Actually – I had heard it is Christmas-themed (?). Wouldn’t you know it, but it was rented already. I had about 3 minutes in which to choose another movie…then I saw this one. Why not watch a February 14th-themed movie in the days leading up to Christmas?! Haha! Makes me laugh, anyway! This movie is too cute for words. Schmoopy, filled with familiar names and faces, formulaic in story arc…just a few of my favourite things. I’d also describe it as a 2+ hour completely inoffensive soap opera. The whole tone of the movie fit exactly with what I was feeling like watching: light story lines, up/down/up romantic entanglements, and happily ever after endings. The movie gets panned pretty badly in reviews – hey, I’ve seen a lot worse. A perfect flake-out-on-the-couch eve’s entertainment. (DVD rental from Gen X; watched at home on the couch with B).
Rating: ** 1/2 (two and a half stars)
33. November 24 – It’s Complicated – With both of us still recovering from that nasty flu bug, we knew tonight’s movie had to be something light, uncomplicated, and neutral in topic (ie no Food Inc rental, this time around!). This movie was perfect. Three masters of the acting world, two of whom gave stellar performances (Steve Martin – besides looking scary from too much plastic surgery – is the wet noodle of the trio). Meryl Streep, as per her usual standard, is the glue that holds the film together but Alec Baldwin is more than average in his role as her ex-husband. My favourite character, though? Harley, the future son-in-law – watch for him! Favourite scenes: the toke scene and the Skype scene – both are hilarious. I honestly could not guess how this film would end, something I always appreciate in a romantic comedy. We enjoyed several laugh-out-loud moments. B’s comment is that the movie was really about nothing, but to my mind, a movie about relationships is very satisfying viewing. (DVD rental from Gen X; watched at home on the couch with B).
Rating: **1/2 (two and a half stars) [thisclose to three stars]
32. November 5 – Life As We Know It – Sometimes a fluffy, predictable rom-com just hits the spot. I had seen the preview for this film and it looked like a good laugh – and it is. Read over the plot summary, and I bet you’ll basically be able to predict how this boy-meets-girl premise will unfold – an original or surprising plot it is not. But the movie does have several things going for it: the two stars, Holly and Messer (Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel) deliver credible performances and likeable characters; the supporting cast is diverse – my favourites are Amy the Baby Whisperer and Janine the Social Worker; the dialogue banter is quick, funny, and seems ad libbed at the best of times. My quibbles: the baby! since a one year old can’t possibly be chosen for acting ability, you’d think they’d go for crazy cute…um, sorry, but she’s not exactly physically adorable; as mentioned the plot is predictable and both Michelle and I were wishing it would not turn out as it did (spoiler alert: we kept muttering, “go for the doctor! stay with the doctor!”); we had issues watching Josh Duhamel’s small face/big head – it distracted us! All in all, a very enjoyable film – I recommend it for a date night or a girls’ night. Very satisfying and solidly fun. (Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo, Conestoga Mall, watched with friend Michelle)
Rating: *** (three stars)
31. October 30 – You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger – I’m as happy as a clam right now. What a completely satisfying Woody Allen movie outing tonight. This one features a few “big name” actors (Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, and Anthony Hopkins) yet each cast member delivers a solid performance – no duds in the bunch. If I had to choose a character for special recognition, I’d go with “Charmaine” – not going to say more for those who see this movie (and I do recommend it). The plot is classic Woody Allen – the man excels at telling a charming and engaging story. And a fun, quirky movie detail: “Alfie” reminds Helena that they went on their first date on the 9th of January 1970…ring a bell, anyone?! (that’s my EXACT date of birth!) I had been hoping this movie would come to Waterloo sooner rather than later, especially after seeing a review for it in the Globe and Mail recently (click here to see that review). Tall Dark Stranger was not quite as great as Vicky Christina Barcelona, but way better than Movie #14, below, Another Woman. A highly satisfying movie viewing; Woody Allen stands up to his “brand” very well in this outing. (Princess Twin Cinema, watched with B).
Rating: *** (three stars) [When asked his opinion, B gave this one three stars, too! Cool!]
30. October 23 – Yes Man – So why would I go out of my way to rent this Jim Carrey movie when I really can’t stand ‘im? [The battle for LEAST FAVOURITE ACTOR EVAH is between Jim Carrey and Keanu Reeves, in my book…and look at that, they’re both Canadian! How unpatriotic of me!]. Well, ever since its release date in December 2008, the concept of saying YES when your first inclination is to say NO has intrigued me. And I have dabbled in trying this tactic myself! Not to the extent that Jim Carrey does in the movie, but still, it is rather cool to test yourself by responding in the affirmative when you’re inclined to decline! And in my case, the end results of saying YES have been positive, worthwhile and life-enhancing – honestly! But, back to the movie!…this is the typical B-grade boy-meets-girl comedy, nothing special. Although Zooey Deschanel absolutely sparkles in her role, and her scenes with Jim Carrey’s character (Carl) are the best in the film. She makes the movie. My favourite scenes: Carl jacked up on Red Bull (been there, done that, so true!) and Carl talking down a would-be ledge jumper. (Sounds un-funny but you have to see it). Jim Carrey tones down his usual kinetic over-hyperness and is not too offensive, actually. I did laugh out loud a few times. And while no award-winner, this movie maintains a nice pace, the supporting actors add humour, and the overall theme gives pause for thought. Dare you to try the YES concept yourself! [Tip: It helps to start small and to pause a moment before you spontaneously reply with your usual no!]. [Sidenote: this movie was on my list of MUST SEE FILMS when the 1970KikiProject began; with only TEN movies left to watch now, expect to see a few more that I pre-determined I had to include – I’ll let you know which ones they are!]. (DVD rental from Gen X; watched at home on the couch with B).
Rating:: ** (two stars)
29. October 17 – The Social Network – I would never have anticipated that a movie about computer geeks and an online social networking site would totally captivate me. Honestly. Computers and technology make my eyes glaze over in confusion and boredom. However, everything in this movie totally works: the rapid-fire dialogue that begins right in the opening scene and continues throughout; the diverse cast of characters; the corporate strategizing and legal arguing; the flashback style of storytelling. I loved learning the history of Facebook. Since I only jumped on the FB bandwagon about a month ago, it’s still all new and fascinating to me. There’s really nothing to do except give this movie two thumbs up. In the wrong hands, this movie would be dry as dust; kudos to everyone involved for making this snappy, fast-paced, entertaining bio. Plus, I would never know that Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder) as portrayed in the movie, was such a prick! (Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo, Conestoga Mall, watched with BFF Debbie, husband Dave, and B).
Rating: **** (4 stars)
28. Sept 18 – The American – It’s not exactly a good thing when you get to the end of a suspence/drama, and both you and your movie companion look at each other and burst out laughing. Such was the case, here, however! As Michelle succinctly summarized, “how many scenes of George Clooney building a gun do we need?” We found the movie’s pace to be g-l-a-c-i-a-l-l-y slooowww. The benefit is that George is in 100% of the film’s scenes so the eye candy is very nice. But overall, I was disappointed in this movie. I expected more action. That being said, the movie is not a total waste of time: the scenery of Sweden and Italy is absolutely stunning, almost breathtaking; George Clooney defines the term “to act” – his face emotes feeling; there is a Euro feel to the film due to the lighting and cinematography. Plus, I honestly have never JUMPED and gasped so many times during one movie! So I don’t NOT recommend this film experience, just don’t be expecting constant, on-the-edge-of-your-seat action. And it’s never a waste to spend an evening with George! (Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo, Conestoga Mall, watched with friend Michelle)
Rating: ** (two stars: one solely for George Clooney, one for the rest of the movie!)
27. Sept 6 – Talladega Nights – Sometimes in a marriage, you defer your own wishes in order to accomodate those of your spouse. Such was the case tonight in Condo Kueneman. Me, I was pressing to go out to the theatre to see “The American,” the latest George Clooney :). B wanted to stay home and share this DVD with me :(. He has been pestering me to watch it ever since I enjoyed The Other Guys (#25, below), also starring Will Ferrell. Well. Since I prefer to find the positivity in life, and downplay the negativity, here is what I enjoyed in our movie experience tonight: the Southern accents (I’m a sucker for a drawl); the soundtrack (knockout); Greg Germann (Richard Fish on Ally McBeal); the scene near the beginning where Ricky Bobby says family grace, praying to the baby Jesus; the name Ricky Bobby; contemplating during the OMG-will-this-movie-never-end film whether BFF Debbie and Husband Dave (Nascar fans) have seen this movie. See? Looky there! Didn’t I just find a lot of goodness to comment on?? Let’s just summarize this eve’s experience by saying B is banned has agreed that we do not share the same idea of “what maketh a comedy.” If not for the Kiki Project, I woulda been outta here quickern’ lightn-in, sweetheart. O, wherefore art thou, George Clooney???!…(DVD borrowed from Jeff; watched at home on the couch with B)
Rating: 1/2 * (half a star)
26. Aug 16 – Eat Pray Love – BFF Debbie and I both read this book a couple of years ago when it first hit the best seller’s list. When we heard rumours that a movie would be coming out, we immediately agreed to see the film together, so this outing has been many months in the planning! Both of us were unsure how Julia Roberts would fill the role of Elizabeth Gilbert…would Julia be too glam? too overpowering? Seeing the film confirmed for me that Julia Roberts was indeed an excellent choice: she brought a maturity and vulnerability to the starring role that comes with experience and intuitive talented. The entire cast is stellar – my favourites included “Richard From Texas,” who stole his scenes, and “Felipe.” In my mind, I had always pictured Liz’s Bali-found love interest as older with short hair and a deep tan (!?) but Javier Bardem strongly fills the requirements. Overall, very pleased with this film adaptation. The insights and message of the book carry over quite well in movie form, and the travel and food scenery is lush. Only quibble would be the length: at almost 2 h 30 min long, a good 45 minutes could be cut, and the pace quickened a little. And as Debbie noted, how’d she fit all those clothes in one duffle?! The movie theatre was packed last eve! About 4 men in the audience…brave souls! (Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo, Conestoga Mall, watched with BFF Debbie and Dawna)
Rating: *** (three stars)
25. Aug 14 – The Other Guys – Have to confess, I knew absolutely nothing about this movie going into it. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the title (“The Others?” “Ordinary People?” “The Other People?”)! All I knew was that Will Ferrell starred. Not a big fan, have to say. But I kept an open mind, and was in the mood for a comedy. This movie did deliver the out-loud laughs! The first half, especially, is fast-paced and quite hilarious, in a low-brow way. The fast flow diminishes in the second half, then picks up during the last few minutes. Will Ferrell, his side-kick Mark Wahlberg, an unexpectedly very funny Michael Keaton have their comedic timing and delivery down pat. (This is Mark Wahlberg’s summer as he rocked in “Date Night, too). The Other People’s dialogue is very funny – way better than I would have predicted – although the story line is exceptionally weak (to be expected in a lightweight comedy, though). I thoroughly enjoyed the film’s running gags (Derek Jeter, musical group TLC – brilliant!). If you like “The Naked Gun” series or “Austin Powers,” or are a Will Ferrell fan, this movie will appeal! (Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo, Conestoga Mall, watched with friend Michelle)
Rating: (**) two stars
24. July 31 – The Kids Are All Right. I actually had wanted to see this movie on my Florida trip – it just seemed like a “Kiki movie,” and I had a feeling I would love it…and I was right! It’s got all my favourite components: real acting (an oxymoron, but you feel you are watching actual people, not actors playing roles); an intriguing storyline, impressive home and food decor, and best of all, it’s a complex, almost messy relationship drama with some laugh out loud moments, too. What makes the movie so successful is the likeable characters and their well-developed personalities (the lesbian moms, the sperm donor, the two teens). Every aspect of this movie just seemed so real – thanks to the dialogue and interactions, I felt the sense of what it would be like to parent teenagers, for example (what a phase for parents, eh!). There are so many relationship triangles and pairings in this movie…I could write an essay on this component alone. My initial reaction was slight disappointment at the movie’s rather sudden ending: the film just kind of…quietly concludes. At first, I thought, “where’s the neat wrap up and happily-ever-after?” But really, the many facets of our personal relationships do not all nicely and conveniently resolve themselves simultaneously, do they? An excellent film in all respects. (Princess Twin Cinema, watched with B)
Rating: *** (three stars)
23. July 29 – Cyrus. There were two reasons I wanted to see this movie: Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener, two actors whose work I typically enjoy. I had no expectations as to what type of movie I would see – turns out it’s a cross between relationship drama and creepy “what’s going to happen next?” drama. Unfortunately, this movie is, in total, a fizzle-flop! The biggest problem, for me, (and this will sound so shallow), is that I could not get past John C Reilly’s physical unattractiveness! His look just turned me off right from the first scene, and I couldn’t bring myself to feel sympathy for his character’s situation. Jonah Hill takes on a dramatic role, a big switch from his typical frat-boy humourous work. I did appreciate the two “love triangles” in the storyline: the main one of Molly-Cyrus-John and a secondary one of John-his ex-wife-her fiance. Marisa Tomei’s character comes across as gullible and indulgent; Catherine Keener’s role is but a bit part (although she is strong enough in her scenes). The hand-held camera feel and unscripted-sounding dialogue make this more of an “indie” movie, which I typically enjoy; however, this film lacks a pinnacle in story and ends weakly, without reaching a satisfying conclusion or a reason for watching. We should receive more, given Ridley Scott is an executive producer. (Princess Twin Cinema, watched alone)
Rating: *1/2 (one and half stars)
22. July 27 – Ramona and Beezus. I read all of Beverly Cleary’s books at least 12 times over when I was young! How could I resist going to see this movie, especially when mom was enthusiastic to go?! (dad agreed to come along – good sport!). Am I ever glad I didn’t hesitate to see this movie! It’s a complete delight and not just “for kids.” Every element of the film is strong, from the story arc to the acting. I loved that none of the child actors overplay their parts, as so often happens – “Ramona” and “Beezus” both can be commended for carrying the movie. John Corbett deserves special mention for his role as the dad, and a droll Sandra Oh steals her scenes as Ramona’s teacher. Don’t worry if you don’t have a child to use as an excuse to see the movie – it’s thoroughly entertaining, you’ll laugh, your eyes will well with tears, and ultimately you’ll leave with a warm heart and happy smile! (Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo, Conestoga Mall, watched with mom and dad)
Rating: *** (three stars)
21. July 20th – Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see this movie while in Florida because who knows if/when it will come to Waterloo. The only knowledge I have about Joan Rivers is from when she used to host the Red Carpets before the Oscar Awards. I came away with a fresh opinion of this comedic icon. For example, I learned that Joan always wanted to act, first and foremost; comedy was simply playing a role and a way to work. During the movie (which follows her for a year) she appears vulnerable, brash, warm, honest, crude. At age 75, she is a consumed workaholic, still. Even she states she won’t turn down any type of work. The movie was fascinating, kept a fast-pace, and I will look at Joan Rivers with new eyes (maybe not respect, but I won’t simply see a woman who is old and has had too many facelifts). Definitely worth a watch! (Regal Hollywood 20 movie theatre, watched alone, Naples, Florida) (Funny aside: there were only TWO of us in the theatre – never had a virtually private screening before!)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
20. July 8th – The Jane Austen Book Club. I went to the video store in search of a movie that I could watch with mom and dad. I wanted a nice story – something that I would not be embarrassed to watch with my parents (yes, I can still be like a teenager sometimes in this respect!). It also needed to be a film we all had not seen. Enter “The Jane Austen Book Club.” I was a member of my mom’s book club for a few years, so the setting seemed fitting. What a delightful movie! I never tire of relationship-centred movies, as you well know by now. I liked the format of the movie: follow the six characters as they read Jane Austen’s six novels in six months. The unique feature is that the characters’ lives mimic the Austen storylines, and this symmetry is handled smoothly. The movie is inoffensive, gently paced, softly humourous, slightly contrived, a bit predictable, and ends happily with all ends sewn up. If I had read more of Jane Austen’s oeuvre, the book discussion scenes would have meant more; as it is, instead the movie inspired me to read more of Jane’s books!(DVD rental from Gen X; watched at mom and dad’s).
Rating: *** (three stars)
Guest Ratings! … mom – three stars; dad two-two half stars. Thanks for being a good sport with the chic-flick, Dad!
19. June 26th – The Bucket List. During a rather slow shift at the store today, Manager Paul and I had one of our philosophical life conversations, and Paul mentioned this movie. So that’s what spurred the rental for tonight. For this movie, it’s necessary to look at the message vs the medium. The message is A+. “Seize the day,” what makes a life meaningful, how do you want to be remembered, etc. The medium???…the word I would use to describe this movie is MONOTONE. The story moves along at a slow pace, there’s a few laughs but not all that many, and again, the previews showed the best scenes. Morgan Freeman is solid in his role – good casting choice for sure. Jack Nicholson tries too hard in many scenes – he has a tendancy to overact in many of his movies, I find. You don’t really feel uplifted at the end of the movie, in fact it’s a bit of a downer movie overall. The very last scene is a perfect, though. We both said we’re glad we rented the DVD and didn’t bother paying more money at the cinema. I cannot say “you have to see this movie,” unfortunately. (DVD rental from Gen X; watched at home on the couch with B).
Rating: * 1/2 (one and a half stars)
18. June 25th – Knight and Day. This is a TERR-i-ble movie!!! But I had a fun time watching it because it featured my 2nd husband. The movie is totally saved by the chemistry, charisma and like-ability of its stars Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise. I still adore my Tommy, even after 20+ years together. Plot? There is perhaps a cardboard storyline that keeps the movie rolling, but really it’s a shoot ‘em up, bad guys vs good guys tour ’round the world, and could be another of Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible films. But, oh, Tommy looks goooood, still – that smile!!!! Despite the less than stellar comments, above, I DID enjoy the movie. There are laugh-out-loud lines and Cameron Diaz is a riot – I’m thinking of the scene where she is given a truth serum, for example. Tommy rocks all his scenes. This is one of those instances where they put the funniest lines in the movie previews to hook you in (I saw the preview two times while at other movies at the Galaxy). See it if you’re in the mood for summertime fun and a hoot of a night out. And you feel like basking in the gorgeous-ness and charm that is my Mr Tom Cruise. (Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo, Conestoga Mall, watched with B, Jeff and Katie)
Rating: * 1/2 (1 and half stars)
17. June 22nd – Mao’s Last Dancer. To be honest, I only went to see this movie tonight because I was bored! I had seen the preview twice at the Princess, and had thought “Menh, it’s going to be formulaic and sentimental, but whatever – I’ll go and play film critic and see what it’s like.” Happily, I found the movie enchanting, delightful and captivating! The main character, Li Cunxin, is likeable right from the opening scene. The film is much better than depicted in the preview. The plot is strong from beginning to end, and I was genuinely surprised both by the twist the story takes and by the ending (don’t think I’m giving anything away to say it ends more happily than I anticipated). Ballet enthusiasts will appreciate the beautiful dance performances, but the movie is not centred on dance only – it’s a stronger story than that. I was surprised that this is also a true story. Totally happy I happened to go out tonight! “Fantastic!” (If you see the movie, you’ll know why I end with this adjective!) (Princess Twin Cinema, watched alone)
Rating: *** (three stars)
16. June 21st – Please Give. I absolutely adored this film. I was drawn to see this movie because of both the actor Catherine Keener, from 40 Year Old Virgin, and the director Nicole Holofcener whose movie Friends With Money I totally loved. Please Give is not a chic flick. It is a relationship movie and there’s a difference. There is nothing schmoopy or overly sentimental about Please Give. It’s just a solid storyline, and none of the performances feel forced. The casting is bang-on, and Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet – well, each and every role is just perfect. You feel like you are watching real people in a true-to-life setting. The movie is humourous at times and touching. At the end, I wished it had been longer! I do think you will enjoy it, too. (Princess Twin Cinema, watched alone).
Rating: **** (4 star)
15. June 18th – Get Him to the Greek. Outrageous! Simply outrageous! We laughed frequently in this movie; it’s gross-out humour though, so be prepared! What I loved the most: Russell Brand – he has this intensity and borderline manic look to his eyes through the movie and it’s absolutely perfect for his rock star role. Loved seeing two of our favourite TV actresses in supporting roles (Elizabeth Moss from Mad Men and Rose Byrne from Damages). I think my favourite character was “Sergio,” Jonah Hill’s characters’s boss – totally reminded me of Cuba Gooding Junior’s role in Jerry Maguire (remember “Show me the money!!!”). I didn’t laugh quite as much as I thought I would, and the plot requires some strong suspension of disbelief. But if you can think like a 16 year old male, not take the movie too seriously, and just sit back and relax, it’s a very funny movie overall. Glad we went! (Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo, Conestoga Mall, watched with B)
Rating: **1/2 (2.5 stars)
14. June 15th – Another Woman. I wanted to watch a “kiki-type” movie tonight as it’s my last night as a singleton before B returns from his trip. I thought of going out…but I really was in the mood to knit and drink a lot of water – two things that don’t go so well with a theatre outing! I thought about getting a documentary, nothing struck me…then I thought: “Woody Allen movie – perfect!” I LOVE Woody Allen movies!!! Unfortunately, “Another Woman” was way not as good as “Annie Hall,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Vicki Christina Barcelona” or “Whatever Works” – just to mention a few favourites. What I did enjoy about the film: as always, Woody Allen rocks dialogue and character study. The cast is composed of a recognizable list of actors (Gene Hackman, Mia Farrow…). I find earlier Woody Allen movies are like eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations – and I’m nosy enough to like this style! This storyline, though, was a bit thin, a bit predictable and just not that interesting! The movie just is not one of the better Woody Allen’s that I’ve seen. (DVD Rental from Gen X; watched alone on my computer!)
Rating: * 1/2 (1.5 stars)
13. June 9th – Sex and the City 2. BFF Debbie and I made plans to see this movie together right when we heard of its release. We saw the first movie together, too, and knew this one would be the perfect choice for a fun movie outing. The reviews have been less than favourable, as you likely know (hello, ONE star, Globe and Mail???) – but both Debbie and I were looking for the same things in this movie: show us the fashion, and let us spend an evening catching up with Carrie, Samatha, Miranda and Charlotte. And our goals were met! Now, while I was prepared for fashion and fun, I was not prepared for the plethora of hunky men that appeared frequently on the screen – wowsa!!! :) Yes, the plot is thin, yes there are cheesy and cornball lines, but intriguing script and developed plot are not what women are looking for when they see this movie (trust me, the audience was 100% women for our viewing; guys STAY AWAY as it definitely would be a gag-inducing movie for men!). I did appreciate how the movie deals with relationship struggles so common to us all: Carrie and Big’s efforts to “keep the sparkle,” and how they defend their choice to remain child-free; Samantha’s fight against aging; Miranda’s battle to balance motherhood and love of career; Charlotte’s need for “me time” as a busy mother of two. I laughed out loud throughout the entire movie, enjoyed myself thoroughly and exited the theatre not disappointed in the least. (Galaxy Cinemas Waterloo, Conestoga Mall, watched with BFF Debbie).
Rating: **1/2 stars (2 1/2 stars)
12. May 24th – Babies. After reading nothing but rave reviews for this movie, I couldn’t get to the Princess fast enough to see it! And what a phenomenal documentary it is! Imagine a National Geographic magazine spread as a film, and you have this movie. The cinematography and composition of scenes is so artful – thoughtfully done. We both loved it, as did the audience in the theatre. Such a simple concept: four babies, four cultures, no commentary. (In fact, a voiceover would spoil the beauty; the musical score is just fine as accompaniment). It’s just fascinating to compare and contrast the babies’ first year of life. This is an excellent anthropological and sociological study – but lighthearted in tone! A favourite scene from each culture: the Namibian baby falling asleep while sitting up; the Mongolian mother hopping on the back of a motorbike just holding the swaddled baby; the American baby obviously concentrating with that unmistakable “taking a poopoo” expression; the Japanese father talking on his cell phone while mindlessly shaking a rattle for his baby. So a total recommendation to go see this movie – you’ll love it. (Princess Twin Cinema, watched with B; my payback for sitting through “Narc” the other night – haha!)
Rating: ***1/2 (3.5 stars)
11. May 22nd – Narc. As part of B’s BDay weekend, I told him he could choose the evening’s movie rental and I would watch WHATEVER he chose…(gulp, gulp). I cringed as I made this proposal because B’s favourite movies (Ironman, any shoot-‘em-up) is my worst favourite type of movie. But I also thought it would be fun to see what he’d come up with. “Narc” it was. Ray Liotta is the only recognizable name in this movie from 2002. It’s a cop movie, and no different from a bloody and violent Law and Order episode and also reminiscent of the movie “Heat” (mismatched cops, marital distrife, drug-based story theme). I liked the one cop character (not Ray Liotta) and I did like the twists and turns to the plot. There was a natural progression of drama up to the surprise twist at the end. At the beginning, I was a little worried that I’d be able to follow the plot, (inside joke: Which one is James Bond?) but the dialogue took care of that as the basic story line and character names were reinforced numerous times during the movie. So all in all, could have been a lot worse! (And I’m getting him back on Monday eve, stay tuned!). (DVD rental from Gen X, watched at home on the couch with B)
Rating: ** (2 stars) *Note: can’t believe Rotten Tomatoes website (see links above) gives Narc 83% favourable rating and Heat 86% as Heat is a wayyyy better movie!
10. May 15th – Crazy Heart. I had totally wanted to see this film when it played at the Princess but never got around to it. Since we had no real plans last eve, I grabbed the opportunity to rent the DVD. My main motivation was to see Jeff Bridge’s performance after the critical acclaim he has received. Not disappointed! Wow, is he convincing in his role as a past-his-prime, boozed-up country singer. I had also heard critics compare this film to The Wrestler, thematically. And I agree with that – there are similarities in theme and character in these movies (but The Wrestler was a better overall movie). What I also enjoyed: the country music – seriously! (much to Brad’s chagrin, I could totally get into country music – not the slow ballads but the tunes with a beat – so corny they’re cool!). We both thought the storyline dragged at points, but after a critical moment, the pace picks up til the end. Have to say, the conclusion of the film fooled me – I was surprised (pleasantly so) by the way the ends all tied up. Do see this if you have the opportunity – I appreciated the life lessons I took away, too. (DVD rental from Gen X, viewed at home on the couch)
Rating: ** 1/2 (2.5 stars)
9. May 4th – An Education. “Someone” is sending good karma my to ensure I get my movies watched! Monday we got a coupon from Rogers in the mail, good for one free DVD rental – score! So rather than waste time and lose motivation, I scooted out Tuesday and picked up this movie – which I have been DY-ing to see. Now, how much did I love it? A) I stopped knitting 20 minutes into the film so I could concentrate on the dialogue (those English accents are sometimes garbled in my ears), the facial expressions, the background details (usually I knit straight through movies we rent at home). B) I wished several times over that I had seen this in the theatre. Carey Mulligan IS phenomenal, as all reviews and her Oscar nom indicate. Also, her father deserves a shout-out, as does Emma Thompon as the school head-mistress. Have decided I love watching film and TV from the ’60’s (ex: Mad Men is a fave on TV) – the male/female relationships intrigue me, I love the fashion (young Jenny is reminiscent of young Audrey Hepburn) and the decor details. Anyway, get this movie – I won’t comment on the story except to say that for a “dramatic piece,” the film moves at a good clip – never a down/laggy time. Fully satisfying viewing. (DVD rental, at home on the couch, alone/B sitting on the couch…he didn’t really watch!)
Rating: **** (4 stars)
8. May 1st – Date Night. Here were my expectations going into our own “date night” out to go see Date Night, the movie: I wanted just a mindless, fun movie outing where we could enjoy some laughs, not think and walk out happy. Expectations met? Totally! This movie is hilarious!!! Surprisingly to me, the theatre was absolutely packed. I thought after this many weeks in release, the crowds would have lessened – nope. We ended up in the 3rd row from the front, due to arriving 5 minutes before showtime. Actually not a big deal for this type of movie. I have been a Steve Carell fan since seeing “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” and Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin impersonations brought her to my attention. Tina Fey “out-funny’s” Steve Carell this time around, but they both are fantastic.The movie is seriously laugh out loud funny over and over again. It’s so fun to see a movie where everyone in the theatre is in stitches at times, and loud laughter is resonating all around you. In this type of movie, you know things will work out in the end, but the car chases, plot twists (completely implausible) and funny characters totally make the movie. The weakest point is the written script, but who is there for that, really? Stay for the outtakes at the end, too. Extremely glad we saw this movie, esp as our date night choice! (Galaxy [Cineplex] Cinemas Waterloo, Conestogo Mall, watched with B).
Rating: ** (when you consider the premise, the script, the type of movie)
Rating: **** (when you consider the laugh out loud moments, the enjoyment level, the movie as a rom-com)
7. April 10th – Chloe. In lieu of giving my impression, I am simply going to link you to the review from the Globe and Mail. For once, I am in pretty much perfect agreement with Liam Lacey’s opinion. Great movie. I really agree that it is Fatal Attraction for our current era (ie 2010). Now Big Big Warning! I would only suggest this movie if you consider yourself sexually liberal! By that I mean that you need to be prepared that there are two rather tame lesbian kisses…but one major in-the-bed woman + woman sex scene! (This review itself is turning rated R!) – but if you can handle that (I prepped B so he said he was pushing the envelope in terms of being “comfortable,” but I am impressed that he was not turned off of the movie at all), you will be OK. I was totally engrossed by the storyline. It’s the most “mainstream” of any of Atom Agoyan movies I’ve seen. Kudos to both Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried for captivating performances. I really appreciated the make up for these two: both, at times, look incredibly beautiful and at others completely unremarkable and wretched. LOVED that Toronto is Toronto and picked out spots on Queen West (my fave store Neon!) and in Yorkville that were familiar. The house is TO DIE FOR – completely rivals the one in #4, below, A Single Man. To conclude, we’re both very glad we saw the movie. (Princess Twin Cinema, watched with B)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
6. March 30th – Cooking With Stella I honestly don’t mind attending movies by myself. It’s not like you can visit through the viewing anyway, so why not go alone? This was a good choice to go to just by myself: B would not have liked trying to follow the subtitles that appeared at times, nor trying to decipher the Indian-accented English; the movie is not quite foodie enough (despite the title) for foodie friends; it’s a bit too quirky to attend with a casual friend or neighbour; mom and dad were busy…I honestly liked the movie, but it did have several shortcomings. Just after it ended, my thought was that I wished the story of the Canadians, Michael and Maya, in New Delhi, had been fleshed out more. Then I realized that perhaps their situation is meant to serve as the backdrop to Stella’s story. However, I do think most viewers would like to see a bit more about Michael’s disenchantment with being a wanna-be chef and stuck in being a house-husband, and Maya’s posting in the Canadian Consulate. (Is there any actor more representative of the Canadian accent and mindset than Don McKellar?!) The role of Stella is really interesting: as the main character, you think she is going to be 100% “good,” but the twists and turns of the plot soon reveal otherwise. Capable acting all around. Since I have no desire to travel to India, I appreciate movies like this (and Slumdog Millionaire, for example) that let us peek at life in India, the servant/master relationships, the way foreigners are viewed. Recommend it? Sure. Just go in with expectations of a B level movie.(Princess Twin Cinema; watched by myself!)
Rating: ** (2 stars)
5. March 19th – The Last Station. Tonight B and our friend Jeff had tix to see Our Lady Peace, so Jeff’s GF Katie and I headed to the movies. I had suggested this movie basically because: 1) we could walk to the Princess (on what turned out to be a beautiful eve); 2) the show started at 7 pm – convenient time 3) Christopher Plummer got an Oscar nom for his role as Leo Tolstoy. To be frank, I was expecting a boring story despite the two great actors (CP and also Helen Mirren – adore her). Well! Pleasant surprise! The movie’s storyline moved at a good clip, and you’re kept in suspence about how things will work out. It was also more funny – not to mention lusty! – (in the first half) than I expected. Now the cinematography is rather ho-hum (shot angles, lighting etc) but because it’s a period drama, the sets and costumes are good. I thought Helen Mirren stole the show, even over CP, although he is also stellar. Supporting actors also very capable. All in all, very glad I saw this film. I’ve read Anna Karenina; maybe I need to tackle War & Peace! (Princess Cinema-original location; watched with Katie)
Rating: **1/2 (2.5 stars)
Yea! We’re back on track with the movie outings, as of this evening…gotta get over Olympic Withdrawal somehow!
4. March 2nd – “A Single Man” – loved it. The inimitable Colin Firth is simply outstanding as George Falconer, a gay college professor in California in 1962. The slimmed down and toned up Firth is completely believeable in character. The movie’s storyline (one day in the life of George) leaves you guessing the outcome of the film right to the end. Directed by Tom Ford, a former fashion designer, you can totally see the artistic background he brings to directing in this flim. The lighting, filming, attention to detail (ie I adored the precision with which every item is laid out in George’s to-die-for home) – it’s just as much an artistic composition as a story. The only fault, perhaps, is a lagging pace at times. And be ready for bare buttocks and the occasional man kiss. Loved the subtle injections of humour. (Ex: George after swimming: “I’m fine, really. We British are used to being cold and wet.” Totally give a “go see” recommendation. (Princess Cinema outing; watched with B – B really enjoyed it, too.)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Just so you know…there will be no movie viewing going on while the Olympics are on. Yes, I know I have only watched three movies. Olympics definitely take precedence! So it will be March, at the earliest, before we add on another movie review….just thought you’d want to know.
3. January 25th – “Up In The Air” – a complete winner. Loved everything about this movie: the storyline, the characters – it’s a complete four star package. Full disclosure: I would pay to see George Clooney recite the alphabet, but his role really suits him to a “T” (or vice versa?). Solid performances for the female leads “Alex” and “Natalie.” Loved seeing Jason Bateman (I’m a big fan). Jason Reitman deserves the Oscar nom that is supposedly coming his way. While the story is completely different from “Juno,” the tone is similar; the Jason Reitman touch is evident. From the opening credits (loved the visuals here) to the unpredictable ending, this movie is entertaining and well worth a watch. (Princess Cinema outing; watched with B)
Rating: **** (4 stars)
2. January 13th – “The September Issue” – utterly fantabulous in every respect. A total delight. Extremely well edited and directed, this film works on every level. It completely documents the making of the September 2007 Vogue, giving us a total “this is what goes on behind the scenes” look; Anna Wintour vs Grace Coddington is a match made in a director’s heaven; the fashion is drool-worthy. If you have seen “The Devil Wears Prada,” this film would be even that little bit more delightful, thinking back to related characters and scenes in the fictional Prada. (DVD rental from Gen X; watched alone)
Rating: **** (4 stars)
1. January 9th – “500 Days of Summer” – this was my choice for my birthday eve and frankly, the movie disappointed. Yes, it’s slightly quirky and the “little independent that surpassed expectations,” but I was expecting *more.*
I did enjoy the flashback/flashforward set-up and the format of 500 days of the relationship. There are a few chuckl-ey moments and flashes of inspired storyline and character insights, but also scenes where things drag. The last 15 minutes of the movie are the best and everything comes together. Glad I saw it, but can’t highly recommend it. The best: the soundtrack. Effective and inspired musical choices. (DVD rental from Gen X; watched with Brad)
Rating: ** (2 stars)