Saturday, December 31, 2011

My 2011 Movie Odyssey - Part IX

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
I liked the first movie and was an apologist for the second movie, but I can’t do it any more. The movie is loud and obnoxious, most of the humor falls flat, and for a movie that claims to be about the Transformers, there are an awful lot of long sequences that don’t even feature them. I’d love to see more Transformers movies, but they really need to start from scratch and hire a director who is more interested in plot than with explosions.

Mildred Pierce (1945)
I enjoyed this noir-ish mystery and the character of Mildred Pierce is fascinating, but I wanted to strangle her daughter Veda (though to be fair, that’s the response I was supposed to have).

Whip It (2009)
I mostly liked this movie, though I am disappointed by how much better it could have been. Ellen Page’s character is the only one we really get to know, and while I know a little bit more about how roller derby works, the film never fully explains how the sport works. That being said, it was still quite enjoyable, and for a girl power movie you could do a whole lot worse.

Thor (2011)
It is a fun movie, but I found it hard to fully accept Norse gods running around the mostly realistic world already created by the Iron Man movies (even with the mumbo-jumbo about them actually being interdimentional aliens).

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
This black comedy is fairly amusing. The main reason to watch it is to see Alec Guiness play all eight members of an old, aristocratic British family.

Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
The Friedman family is turned upside down when loving father and husband Arnold Friedman is found to have child pornography in his possession. But then things spin wildly out of control as a slew of additional accusations are leveled against him. They are despicable. And yet almost all of them fail the "let's think about this for a minute" test. This fascinating documentary takes complicated subject matter and leaves the audience to try to determine what the real truth is.

The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
I was brought up on the live action Disney films of the 70s and 80s, and have seen most of them. But there were still a few glaring holes in my Disney watching history. That, coupled with an anemic Netflix queue, led me to start filling those holes. The Watcher in the Woods has some wonderfully creepy moments and looks great. Even if the ending left me wanting, it was still an enjoyable journey.

In Search of the Castaways (1962)
It starts out really funny. A science professor goes through a series of misadventures in an attempt to sneak himself and the two children in his care onto a boat bound for exotic locales. This opening act is really entertaining, and Maurice Chevalier is instantly likeable as the professor. But then the globetrotting adventures start, and I found it increasingly difficult to suspend my disbelief since the situations our group of adventurers found themselves in got increasingly far-fetched.

Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
This is a charming movie full of wonderfully quirky characters and excellent animatronic work. I especially liked the look of the film with it's warm, slightly stylized aesthetic that reminded me a lot of Amelie and the television show Pushing Daisies.

The Cat from Outer Space (1978)
It's kind of That Darn Cat meets Escape to Witch Mountain, and is a whole lot of fun, even if it gets a little silly at times. The plot revolves around a scientist who teams up with the cat from the title to collect the materials the cat needs to repair his space ship. Of special note is Harry Morgan as the army general who is in charge of tracking down the alien; nobody can do gruff comedy quite like him. And of course the film is further proof that cats make wonderful movie characters. I really wish there were more cat movies out there.

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