Movie Diary: 2011
Movies I'm watching for the first time.
962 6.8 7.41. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
Dec 21 @ Theatre
Last movie of the year was thankfully entertaining. Solid action-adventure-comedy with competent acting to grease its way along. Good stuff.
202 6.7 6.82. The Debt (2010)
Dec 17 @ Download
A trio of Israeli Mossad agents is sent to East Berlin in 1965 to capture a Nazi war criminal, who has escaped prosecution so far and is posing as a gynaecologist in East Berlin. Their mission is already dangerous, being in heavily monitored Communist East Berlin and things don't go exactly to plan. Add to this, a romantic triangle develops between the two men and the woman, leading to further complications. While the movie isn't mind-blowing by any means, it's a good, well directed and acted thriller.
506 6.3 6.43. Young Adult (2011)
Dec 16 @ Theatre
Charlize Theron delivers an excellent performance as a immature and self-obsessed author of young adult fiction, who hasn't really grown up since leaving high school. She goes back to the small town where she grew up to try and rekindle a romance with her high school flame, in a attempt to recapture the time in her life she remembers as her best. Trouble is, he's happily married with a child. As the climax rolls along, it becomes clearer how troubled she really is and this trip down memory lane is just another attempt to escape her life.
Very interesting story and characters. As my friend said, this is like a anti-romantic comedy. The direction is deft and the script is at times funny and at times will make you uncomfortable with a sharp dose of reality. Good stuff, hopefully it takes home a few Oscar nominations this year, especially for the acting.
1014 6.4 6.64. In Time (2011)
Dec 10 @ Download
Another movie with lots and lots of retro-futuristic black cars. Filmmakers really need to give up this obsession with the look that The Matrix pioneered more than a decade ago. Surely, they must have the imagination to come up with a dystopia that doesn't feel like a rip-off of that movie, yet again.
Other than that, mediocre sci-fi thriller based on a reasonably interesting concept that really could do with better actors. Justin Timberlake with his wooden visage was clearly not meant to be an actor and he isn't. The story is also fairly generic with more than one plot hole, but it keeps moving along at a fair clip regardless.
854 7.1 7.45. The Descendants (2011)
Dec 10 @ Theatre
A man deals with the aftermath when his wife slips into a terminal coma after a boating accident. He is suddenly thrust into dealing with the care of his two daughters, neither of whom he has a great relationship with, not to mention dealing with friends and family, even as he struggles with his own conflicted emotions about his soon to be dead wife.
The movie is beautifully directed and acted. George Clooney is always superlative and the director had extracted great performances from the two actresses who play his daughters. The low key nature of the proceedings works in the movie's favour as well, keeping the audience engaged without going over the top. This movie had better nab a few Oscars next year.
1125 7.4 7.16. Melancholia (2011)
Dec 4 @ Theatre
Lars Von Trier can still make an original movie, but seems to have lost his magic touch. His movies tend to be brutal with touches of dark humour. This one, while brutal, forgot the dark humour that makes all the brutality palatable. A definite disappointment for me.
1373 7.5 7.67. Hugo (2011)
Nov 24 @ Theatre
Beautiful and touching, this is a holiday movie that actually wants to reach to the audience, not exploit them for ticket sales. As I watched the movie, something inside me said, "This is what a Miyazaki live action movie would be like."
1178 6.3 7.18. Team America: World Police (2004)
Nov 23 @ Download
A trifle disappointing for a devoted South Park fan. There wasn't enough material to justify the running time. It would have been terrific at half the running length.
349 6.1 6.39. Flash Gordon (1980)
Nov 22 @ Download
Campy space action-adventure that could have done with more of the comic flourishes that were all too few.
623 5.7 610. Immortals (2011)
Nov 18 @ Theatre
Take some ancient European mythological figures, a lot of UFC style blood and gore, incoherent story, zero acting ability and the worst possible direction and you have this criminally bad movie. Extra bonus: it was shot in Really Pointless (TM) 3D. What a load of garbage that was.
16 8 6.711. The Swell Season (2011)
Nov 12 @ Theatre
A documentary about the first tour undertaken by band, The Swell Season, the romance and the ensuing breakup of the two members of the band.
I've been a fan of their music for over 3 years now and had the sketchiest of ideas that the two member of the group were romantically involved as their fame exploded after their Oscar win. Next thing I heard was that they broke up quietly, but not much more than that. They delivered their second (absolutely fantastic) album, which was basically a breakup album but it could have been about any romance. For the first time, the movie gives fans some idea of what went down during their marathon world tour and the aftermath of their Oscar win.
The movie is shot entirely in black and white, adding to the intimacy that already exists. I'm really curious as to how the film makers managed to shoot such intimate moments without being intrusive. Did they hide their cameras or use shoot from a distance? It would be fascinating to know the details of how this film was made.
I'm not convinced that someone who doesn't know the music or enjoy it would appreciate the movie as much as I did. More than half the movie is musical performances by the duo, which I enjoyed immensely. Even if there was none of the drama surrounding their relationship, this footage would have made for a great concert/tour DVD, such is the power of their performances. I'm hoping a soundtrack makes it way to me soon.
756 6.6 6.712. Puss in Boots (2011)
Nov 5 @ Theatre
Taking classic characters and putting a modern spin on them is always good for a laugh, so we have Puss, Humpty Dumpty, Jack & Jill, Jack of the Beanstalk and the Golden Goose. It's fun to see their new avatars and personalities, but all them also have no common mythology or character trait to tie them together. Completely dissimilar characters can work, but the writers need to be inventive enough to take advantage, but unfortunately for this movie the writers barely have anything cohesive or original to tie together all these elements.
There are some really funny moments and some good ideas too, but overall this is a confused mess of a movie and a wasted opportunity. It feels like, and is, a tired summer money-grab summer movie for the pre-teen and early teen audience. The rest of us who were suckered in my the trailer should really just have stayed away.
799 6.9 7.213. The Ides of March (2011)
Nov 4 @ Theatre
George Clooney delivers again, in-front of the camera as well as behind it, with a political thriller that's so deliciously cynical and superbly acted that it must snag a few Oscar nominations this year.
80 8.3 814. Pearl Jam Twenty (2011)
Oct @ Download
322 6.7 6.815. Logan's Run (1976)
Oct 23 @ Download
Campy sci-fi classic, a good watch nevertheless.
2806 7.4 8.116. Groundhog Day (1993)
Oct 21 @ Download
It's an intriguing fantasy, to live one day over and over till you get everything right. I think all of us would like to repeat some days of our lives, and our protagonist gets to do just that, over and over. The end is a little tame, which prevents this romantic comedy from getting 5 stars, but it's still excellent.
571 7.3 7.217. The Young Victoria (2009)
Oct 21 @ Download
Beautifully shot and acted. The historical accuracy isn't 100%, but it's close enough not to ruin to movie.
852 5.9 6.218. Scream 4 (2011)
Oct 21 @ Download
The scariest thing in the movie is Courteney Cox's botoxed face.
1450 5.1 5.419. Scream 3 (2000)
Oct 21 @ Download
See comment below. Sidney's dead mom really screwed up her life. She slept with the mother of her boyfriend, causing said boyfriend and his mother to try and kill her in the first two parts respectively. Now it turns out that she also had an illegitimate son, who is out to kill Sidney as well. Way to pile on her reputation, writers!
1762 5.5 620. Scream 2 (1997)
Oct 21 @ Download
See comment below. Now the boyfriend's mother is out for revenge.
2771 6.5 7.221. Scream (1996)
Oct 21 @ Download
Kind of mediocre, but I had to watch this series at least once. Of course, the boyfriend did it.
2456 7.9 8.122. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
Oct 19 @ Download
Pretty epic ending for the series and one of the 2 or 3 really good movies that the franchise managed to produce in it's ten year run at the box office.
18 7.4 7.623. The Inquisitor (1981)
Oct 16 @ Download
Sparse, tense, well paced drama thriller. It's a short movie is well, just around 81 mins and it keeps the viewer riveted. The plot entirely is composed of the police interrogation of a suspected child rapist/murderer. The police try to get a confession using all their psychological tricks but it isn't clear till the very end if the suspect is actually guilty or not.
66 7.3 6.624. Three (2010)
Oct 16 @ Download
Bizarre, yet fascinating movie. Definitely belongs here.
57 7 6.725. Page Eight (2011)
Oct 3 @ Download
A competent spy thriller without any pointless explosions and shooting. The acting is good, the direction keeps keeps things well paced and melodrama free. Great Sunday night viewing that doesn't assault your senses.
562 8 826. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Oct 2 @ Netflix
This is should work better as a live play than it does as a movie since it is basically a play with no attempt to adapt it better for the big screen. Shortening it by 30 mins would probably help too. There's some funny and quirky moments in here, but they get lost in the all the non-stop talking.
215 7.1 7.227. Soul Kitchen (2009)
Sep 28 @ Netflix
A surprisingly poor effort by director Fatih Akin's high standards. It's a pretty conventional romantic comedy, no surprises anywhere at all. The soundtrack is good though, which adds half a star to this mediocre movie.
212 7.7 7.628. American Masters The Doors: When You're Stra... (2009)
Sep 28 @ Netflix
A documentary about the short existence of The Doors, one of the best and most influential rock bands ever to have existed. Unfortunately, this documentary doesn't do justice to the band as it doesn't go much beyond a dull re-telling of their story. The problem is that we don't hear much, if anything, from the band itself, all we get is the droning commentary of Johnny Depp. Could and should have been much better.
1096 7.8 829. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Sep 24 @ Download
I don't see the appeal, to be honest. It's got some good moments, but overall, the movie has a disjointed feel. Several of the actors inexplicably insist on speaking (and laughing) in high pitched tones. I don't get at why, it's just annoying.
969 6.3 6.730. Contagion (2011)
Sep 23 @ Theatre
Believable thriller, which is rare in itself, about the global spread of a lethal virus. The direction was fantastic, focusing equally on the human drama as on the efforts of the researchers. I love the level of detail about the virus that the movie went into, it connected to both the gut and the brain. Might just end up being the year's best movie.
1682 7.8 7.931. Drive (2011)
Sep 17 @ Theatre
What a wasted opportunity this movie is. Tons of style, great soundtrack and Carey Mulligan, all three things are totally wasted on a script that is utterly void of an interesting plot. The opening sequence is pretty stunning, with minimal dialogue yet plenty of tension, which raised my expectations quite a bit. From there, it was mostly downhill and the movie never moves beyond the style to any sort of substance. I wasn't bored by any means but I just kept waiting for something to happen till the end, and it never did.
The lack of plot is compounded by the fact that I had no clue about the motivations of the main character - the driver. He's two-dimensional and is not developed either as the movie progresses. While the lack of dialogue and the tension makes for reasonable viewing, to be truly engrossed in the movie, I have to empathise with the characters to an extent. The wonderful Carey Mulligan engaged me a little better better with her fluid and expressive face, but unfortunately she didn't have much too work with. As for the driver, in a few scenes he's wearing a mask, and the mask managed to do a better job than Ryan Gosling.
All in all, an absolutely wasted opportunity to pull off something spectacular. Instead, all we got it a mediocre action thriller with a dash of unexpected blood and gore.
1996 6.9 732. Thor (2011)
Aug 27 @ Download
I'm officially giving up on blockbuster/superhero movies for this year. I've had enough.
118 7.1 733. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)
Aug 27 @ Download
A movie from the DC Universe Animated Originals banner. Tells the origin story of Supergirl, cousin of Superman. She is desired by Darkseid for her supreme strength, to be the captain of his Furies. It takes the combined talents of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to save her from that fate. A well told tale, again confirming the ability of director Lauren Montgmery to deliver good stories within the limitations of the genre.
5 8.5 7.434. Truth in 24 (2008)
Aug 25 @ Download
I have a weakness for motorsport documentaries and this is no exception. It captures the challenge mounted by the Audi team team for the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race. They know that the Peugeot team has a faster car, but Audi intend to close the gap by preparing the best and not making any mistakes. Can they overcome the circuit, the conditions and their competitors one more time? Watch and find out, it's completely enthralling.
114 7.4 7.135. Wonder Woman (2009)
Aug 24 @ Download
A movie from the DC Universe Animated Originals banner. Tells the origin story of Diana/Wonder Woman of the Amazons. It's a decent movie and attempts to tell a pretty balanced tale - combining action and plot.
763 6.9 6.936. Water for Elephants (2011)
Aug 21 @ Download
Decent romantic drama, not great, not terrible. If you took out some of the cruelty and violence towards the animals in the circus, it could be a Hallmark movie. The conclusion was too hurried for my liking. The movie might also have felt more authentic if the rest of the circus had been given as much screen time as the romance of the two leads, and thus moved beyond the mediocrity of the Hallmark channel.
115 7.4 7.237. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
Aug 20 @ Download
Continuing with my DC Universe Animated Originals marathon. This movie takes the idea of alternate worlds that's been done to death in the DC universe and makes a decent movie out of it. Lex Luthor from an alternate Earth comes to the main DC Earth to ask for the Justice League's help. Turns out he's a good guy, the opposite of the evil Lex, and his Earth is plagued by evil super-beings. The Justice League goes over and in due course, turns things around, as is expected.
The interesting parts are the interactions between the two sets of super-beings, especially Batman and his evil opposite Owlman. Owlman is interesting because he's unhinged in the way Batman is, but his mental balance his tipped over to the more insane side of his character. The good Lex and Superman also make a good pairing, since Superman instinctively distrusts him, but then gets over it. All in all, there's enough interesting moments to help this movie rise above the average.
111 7 7.138. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)
Aug 20 @ Download
A movie from the DC Universe Animated Originals banner. It's basically endless action sequences punctuated by some plot. While the fact that the movie is based on Superman/Batman: World's Finest gave me some hope that it'll be good, my expectations were betrayed. The plot is pretty thin. Lex Luthor becomes president and is hell-bent on destroying Superman and the rest of the superheroes (except those that for him). He has Superman framed for the murder of Metallo and then puts a bounty of a billion dollars on his head. Meanwhile, a meteorite made of Kryptonite is hurling towards Earth and someone has to destroy it before it hits the planet.
90% of the movie is just action sequences, so there not much more depth than what I've already described. The only thing that saves this movie from being a total write-off is some of the interaction between Superman and Batman, when their masks (and defences) are down. That's about the only aspect of the movie that I truly enjoyed.
87 7.1 7.139. Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
Aug 20 @ Download
A movie from the DC Universe Animated Originals banner. It traces the origins on the Justice League in the 1950s, just after the Korean War. A cult called 'The Center' is inexplicably rising in influence worldwide and it's up to the League to stop the destructive threat that it actually represents. The story takes too long to explore the origins of the many, many characters that form the league and even then it leaves out several of them. In addition to the origins, political messages are also shoved into the mix. All of this doesn't leave much room to tell a detailed story and the result is a weak jumble that doesn't do justice to any of the themes it tries to tackle.
128 6.6 740. Superman: Doomsday (2007)
Aug 20 @ Download
A movie from the DC Universe Animated Originals banner. It's partially based on the celebrated Superman story from the 1990s - Doomsday. Superman is apparently killed in his attempt to stop Doomsday, a robot that is the perfect fighting machine.But he isn't quite dead, because Kal-El, son of Krypton cannot die as long as lives on Earth. In Superman's absence, Lex Luthor tightens his grip on Metropolis and Lois Lane is left heartbroken. Is there any hope left for this city? As usual, the animation ensures that the acting is perfect and story is very good to back that up. A good sci-fi action adventure for both fans and the uninitiated.
90 7 741. Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)
Aug 20 @ Download
One of the movies that has come out under the DC Universe Animated Originals banner. It's a pretty decent sci-fi action adventure. It tells the story of Hal Jordan, as he becomes the newest member of the Green Lantern corps and must prove himself to his peers. Unfortunately, there's a threat to the existence of the Green Lanterns themselves. Hal Jordan works against time ensure the survival of the corps and prevent their destruction. The biggest advantage of animation - you always have great acting, which is true here as well.
958 6.8 6.942. Hanna (2011)
Aug 15 @ Download
Well acted thriller. The use of sound and music was especially interesting.
560 7.4 7.343. Jane Eyre (2011)
Aug 7 @ Download
Some mighty fine acting performances light up this otherwise routine romantic drama. The story might have been path breaking at the time the book was published but it's tough to find any novelty in it today. Despite that, the movie does a great job of telling the story as a romantic drama filled with longing and heartbreak. Mia Wasikowska is excellent as the title character and the rest of the cast keeps pace with her. The background score and the cinematography are fantastic as well.
1560 6.7 6.844. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Aug 6 @ Theatre
Starts off decent enough but soon descends into outright camp. It's a decent summer blockbuster action adventure but don't expect any kind of depth.
1228 7.2 7.645. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Aug 5 @ Theatre
Somewhat formulaic sci-fi movie that details how apes came to supremacy over humans in the version of Earth on Planet of the Apes. The apes are now shown to be genetically modified versions of normal apes created accidentally in a lab conducting research on gene therapy for Alzheimer's disease. It's mediocre sci-fi, but I'm a sucker for mediocre sci-fi. A sequel is almost necessary at this point, which I won't mind either.
7 7.3 7.346. Fire in Babylon (2010)
Jul 23 @ Download
As a Cricket fan, I loved this movie. They didn't focus just on the West Indies' on-field achievements but wove that into a wider narrative about their culture and nationality. It lacked a certain intensity that turns good documentaries into great documentaries but it's still a great watch.
830 6.3 6.547. Daybreakers (2009)
Jul 13 @ Netflix
Some good ideas and acting, but lacking any decent story. It's like the film makers had some cool ideas about how vampire society should be like and threw some lame story in there as well.
1938 7.5 7.848. X-Men: First Class (2011)
Jul 12 @ Download
Decent summer action flick, but lacking any real depth in character or story. Hits the spot for the target teenage audience.
1543 7.6 7.749. Midnight in Paris (2011)
Jun 19 @ Theatre
Woody Allen isn't exactly my favourite film maker, but I enjoyed this movie. His brand of low key humour can work well sometimes, as it does here. Owen Wilson is also surprisingly good and carries the movie with his good natured performance.
1024 6.5 6.850. Bridesmaids (2011)
Jun 3 @ Theater
Sep 6 @ Download
The best movie of the first half of 2011, no competition. The writing is absolutely brilliant 90% of the time (with the occasionally over the top sections), so kudos to Kristen Wiig. The movie takes every ritual associated with the typical American wedding and then proceeds to tear it up in an orgy of just believable excess. The acting is also very good and the director keeps the pace just about perfect as well. Comedies don't came sharper or funnier than this.
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