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Added by Xanadon't on 2 Feb 2011 04:27
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Monthly Movie Journal: Feb. 2011

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First Time Views

Films watched for the first time and in their entirety.
People who added this item 504 Average listal rating (276 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.8
Where as last month I kicked things off with the highly entertaining, delightfully odd The Extra Man this month got underway with a complete bust.

I hated this movie. As enchanting and fresh as Julie Delpy was in Before Sunrise and it's sequel, she was nothing if not weary and mundane here. She wrote, directed, edited, and starred in this clunky, dreadful, misfire of a movie that's so intent on its own profundity-- while never approaching anything close-- that it's downright laughable.



The fact that the two leads have zero chemistry together on screen is the least of this movie's problems. Much more alarming is the mean-spiritedness of the whole ordeal, reflected every which way you look, but most offensively in the film's many politically and socially ignorant and shallow assertions. Not a good time and definately not the intellectually enlightened work it tries to poses as.
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People who added this item 250 Average listal rating (138 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.1
I didn't take a single note during this film. I simply sat there before the screen, enthralled, fascinated and terrified. Not for me the discussions about the utility of the "pseudo-documentary format," or questions about how the camera happened to be waiting at the bottom of the crevice when Simpson fell in. "Touching the Void" was, for me, more of a horror film than any actual horror film could ever be.--Roger Ebert




I'll add that it is also one of the most intense testimonies about the human will to survive ever caught on film.

Having seen 127 Hours I decided to go back and give this film a look.

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People who added this item 281 Average listal rating (172 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.2
Nightwatch (1997)
This is a stylish horror/thriller/mystery that I meant to see forever ago, but only now caught up with. It satisfies as a horror flick, scrapes by as a mystery, and struggles as everything else. But there's enough 'wierd' going on to partially make up for the handful of truly terrible scenes and lend it some appeal amidst a largely uninspired, unimpressive decade for American Horror.
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I'm a huge Tennessee Williams fan, which may have worked both ways for me as I struggled to enjoy this film while simultaneously trying to stifle my disappointment in some of its weaker points. The direction here is a bit stilted and uncertain and the performances never quite lift the film above its built-in faults. Watch Suddenly, Last Summer instead.
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People who added this item 381 Average listal rating (251 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8.1
Don't worry everyone. The Joker is in this movie. It's okay to watch it.



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People who added this item 2085 Average listal rating (1336 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.1
Easy A (2010)
Easily among the very best teen comedies to come along in years (decades?). Manages to find a balance in tone somewhere between the outragiously funny Superbad and the refreshingly good-hearted Say Anything.



review by lotr23
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People who added this item 1791 Average listal rating (1136 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4
Salt (2010)


Salt is neither the shallow, stupefyingly bad Angelina ego-fodder vehicle some claim, nor the stunning and explosively entertaining genre-film gem that Roger Ebert boldly claimed. What it seems most is simply forgettable... at least until the sequel arrives.
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People who added this item 565 Average listal rating (368 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.3
The American (2010)
Dutch director Anton Corbijn eludes the mistakes that many film-makers would've made here, in that he doesn't attempt to manufacture thrills and suspense out of thin air and special effects. He doesn't tell the story, so much as he reveals it; slowly, deliberately, and with great attention to detail. He understands how suspense works much the same way as seduction works. When met with a patient and appreciative eye, this film is high on both.


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People who added this item 1126 Average listal rating (686 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
Winter's Bone (2010)


A few moments of nice drama but ugh, what a chore.
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People who added this item 453 Average listal rating (244 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.8
Mother (2009)


While a technical marvel is many respects, there's also a number of things going on here that angered me enough to temper my recommendation.
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People who added this item 868 Average listal rating (515 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.8
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People who added this item 3146 Average listal rating (1921 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
Closer (2004)


Nearly my every reaction to this film is articulated extremely well here:

review by PvtCaboose91
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People who added this item 4094 Average listal rating (2738 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.9
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People who added this item 37 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
Man Push Cart (2005)
It's not the film I loved, so much as the story. If this was a short-story I came across in some worn, musty anthology somewhere I'd probably go crazy over it. But as a movie, I thought it had a few problems difficult to ignore.

Still, this is a largely engaging and noble film, bravely and solemly human in material and tone.



Here's a glowing review from Mr. Ebert-- it's the kind of movie that, while I wasn't completly in awe of it, I'm still pleased to see it receive such high praise from such a high profile critic.

Roger Ebert's review
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People who added this item 353 Average listal rating (221 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.9
An interesting and rather brave film about human tendancy to exploit everything and everyone for one's own selfish gain. I'm terribly picky about black comedies, but this one surprised me... though the film tight-rope walks between black comedy and traditional drama, and it was really the dramatic aspects that I enjoyed most.



While this film is pretty dark, darker still would've served it better. A bit too much is telegraphed by obtrusive musical montages that keep the viewer from becoming too uncomfortable during some of the tougher, key scenes. Overall I found the movie commendable in many ways, but was also left frustrated by more than a couple missteps.
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People who added this item 629 Average listal rating (361 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.8
To Die For (1995)
Gus Van Sant has all of a sudden become a director high on my radar. Last month I watched and greatly enjoyed Drugstore Cowboy, though prior to seeing it I didn't think much about Van Sant other than simply recognizing his name. Now I'm left marvelling at another of his works. Devilishly fun, clever, and sinister this movie grew on me quickly and by the end seemed to strike every note exactly right.



Nicole Kidman delivers a courageous and abandoned performance... one of the more memorable roles you're likely to see any time soon. Very glad I brushed the dust off this mid-nineties gem.

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People who added this item 175 Average listal rating (83 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.6
Next Door (2005)


This movie combines sex and violence in a way not often portrayed in cinema... pretty shocking really, so you've been warned.

Strong performances, efficient direction, and a bit of a mind-bender, yet somehow I never felt as riveted as I thought I should have. Something here was just a bit too thin for me to ever truly care a whole lot.
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People who added this item 178 Average listal rating (101 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4
Cold Prey (2006)
Norwegian horror film about a group of five thrill-seeking 20-somethings that head off on a skiing trip to a remote mountain. While making their run down the back side of the mountain, naturally one of them breaks a leg. The group makes their way to a seemingly abandoned old ski lodge and horror ensues.



What makes this movie a lot of fun can be found in style and performance. The movie never drags, the camera work is definately above average, and all together this movie is pretty well put together. Most surprising is that not one of these 5 people are overly obnoxious...we don't root for a one of them to die. In fact the cast is pretty well likeable and skilled. Add a grimly intense death scene or two, some nice moments of suspense, and a respectful little nod to The Shining and you've got yourself a pretty good little horror flick.

The film's major downfall that can't be ignored is the less than satisfying ending, caused mostly by some lacking back story. But the bulk of this is passable by most any standards, and recommendable to fans of the genre.
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People who added this item 1731 Average listal rating (1022 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.2
Elephant (2003)
Powerful, haunting movie that caused quite a stir when released some 4 years after the Columbine tragedy took place. I somehow missed it back then but, in keeping with my Gus Van Sant kick, I finally caught up with it.

My impressions here are mixed, but lean toward good... I think. The construction of the narrative, deliberate pacing, and long tracking shots are well executed and necessary to achieve the lasting effects of the film. The performances pulled from the many non-actors/non-professional actors are surprisingly strong.



But I can't say I truly liked this movie and I'm almost positive I won't revisit it. I'm also inclined to object to certain moral underpinnings of the entire film, and, while I intitially embraced the idea, I've become conflicted in my opinion about Van Sant's refusal to offer any messages, reasons, or answers. On the one hand, it would be foolish to attempt to offer explanations to such senseless tragedy. On the other, well, there's just something that seems insincere and evasive going on here.

Still, there are questions about some of the writer/director's decisions that I'll be turning over in my mind for quite some time, and a sneaky desire to rationalize a more positive stance toward the film. But as much as part of me wants to, I can't bring myself to praise this as "High Art" or endorse it as a particularly valuable social meditation.

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People who added this item 860 Average listal rating (557 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7
Buried (2010)
This is a strong candidate for biggest surprise of 2010.



Roger Ebert's Review
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People who added this item 785 Average listal rating (397 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.3
Dogtooth (2009)
Every now and then I encounter a film that pulls my opinion about itself up and down drastically throughout its run-time. Dogtooth is that kind of film.

I began with a small amount of skepticism, which gave way to bemusement, which evolved into guarded enjoyment, which approached true admiration, before plunging into repulsion, disappointment, then back up to horrified dismay, and finally settling on underwhelmed.



The film rolls along nicely through its first half, as a bizarre and unnerving statement about over-controlling parents. I loved the way it was impossible to guess at what I might see happen next, so wierd and quirky are the events and family routines captured in the film. The movie follows its own logic, so as strange as these people and behaviors are, nothing is ever entirely unbelievable-- which it what makes the movie truly frightening.

But there's such a thing as too much of a good thing, and the film has no concept of measurement. Ultimately the movie begins to make a fool out of itself, as it reaches too far and too insistantly for, exactly what audience reaction, I'm no longer sure. By the end I felt that the cleverness behind the movie was too shallow to carry it all the way through it's run time.

There's some truly horrifying stuff going on here, and it's really a valid question whether or not any artistic reward or social insight is large enough to make it all worthwhile.
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People who added this item 408 Average listal rating (246 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.1
Greenberg (2010)


This movie just didn't hold my attention. The humor was dry and the drama understated, which can work for me, but not here. Combined with what I thought were pretty bland performances, and I just couldn't get into this one. To say that I watched the entire film wouldn't be as strictly accurate as saying that the movie played in my living room through its entire runtime.

Oh well. Maybe I'll revisit it someday.
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People who added this item 202 Average listal rating (100 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.8
Richard Linklater directs with a palpable enthusiasm for cinema and storytelling. This energy along with Christian McKay's astonishgly great portrayal of Welles went a very long way in charming me blind to a couple of the film's more ordinary attributes.



Review by Roger Ebert
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People who added this item 464 Average listal rating (256 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.1


Like the above still frame, much of this movie is great to look at. (Though much of it is also terribly brutal and discomforting to look at too) It's shot well and I could see that a lot of care went into giving this film the 'look' it has. And Casey Affleck gives a fine performance.

So it's too bad that in the end this film is an otherwise joyless waste of time and a huge waste of talent. The story is poorly constructed, the characters starve for development/motivation/backstory, and the film-makers attitude, or lack of attitude, is curious but ultimately infuriating.

Don't bother with it.
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People who added this item 38 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.4
Dark Waters (1993)


Exactly the kind of movie that I probably wouldn't recommend to anyone, yet feel a certain amount of affection for. It's similar to Dario Argento in style, but doesn't put on as many airs.
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People who added this item 811 Average listal rating (551 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.8
Unstoppable (2010)
Pretty sure I liked this movie better when I was 12 and it starred a city bus and was called Speed.



But this was okay too. Very decent actually, as far as PG-13 action/thrillers go.
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Film Snob Pick of the Month

We all know the kind of movies I'm talking about.
People who added this item 1198 Average listal rating (644 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8


Been meaning to catch up with the Three Colors Trilogy for a long time now. For anyone interested this is a great overview of what so far looks/sounds to be an important contribution to film-art.

Salon.com review
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People who added this item 815 Average listal rating (445 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.7
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People who added this item 1042 Average listal rating (521 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.1
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What's Up, Doc?

Because sometimes a good documentary can be just the thing.
People who added this item 747 Average listal rating (453 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8
This highly stylized documentary is one of my favorite watches so far this year. Everything here is supremely interesting, a helluva lotta fun, and put together in a way that doesn't require a deep appreciation for art in order to enjoy the film. Next time you're browsing Netflix Instant, give this one a look!



Currently streaming on Netflix
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Foreign Language Find of the Month

In order to expand my horizons, satisfy my desire for discovery, and approach a film with zero to little expectation-- all at once!
People who added this item 399 Average listal rating (212 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
The Return (2003)


Does this frame of film remind anyone of anything?

So many possible readings of this troubling, yet strangely mesmerizing film. Still unsure just what to make of it... gorgeous to look at, fascinating character dynamics, and about as bleak as they come. A number of unaswered questions may frustrate some viewers, but it's consistent with the perspective of the two young boys trying to make sense of their enigmatic, distant, and frightening father.
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Classics Corner

Where I find out what all the fuss is about.
People who added this item 927 Average listal rating (574 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.2


Not terribly often an 8/10 score is a mark of disappointment, but that's largely how I felt about this film, so high were my expectations.

Some scenes of gripping, emotionally textured genius, a few too many conventional, "because this is how these kinds of stories work" scenes. Still, a very good film, showcasing some top notch talent, with a powerful social message that I'm sure 1954 audiences appreciated more than I really could.
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At the Movies

Slapped down $9.50 to see these...
People who added this item 1387 Average listal rating (805 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.2
Strong Side:

I didn't want to punch Ashton Kutcher in the face.

Natalie Portman is lovely to look at.

Our two stars surprisingly display a certain amount of chemistry on screen together, if only for fleeting moments.

That girl I liked from House of the Devil shows up in this movie.



Weak Side:

Just about every supporting character is garbage.

20 minutes too long.

Rarely funny.

Rarely insightful.

The plot-structure and direction is boring and predictable.


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People who added this item 257 Average listal rating (155 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3


As good a character study as I've seen in years. Giamatti is brilliant, and should've gotten an Oscar nomination for his work here. Hoffman is better than I've seen him in quite a while too. There's a little for everyone here, and it may be the only 2010 release to bring me to tears.
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Revisits

Usually old favorites, but sometimes an attempt to meet a film with a different mind-set or motive.
People who added this item 1170 Average listal rating (740 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.2


Let's see...fifth viewing, I think. Still one of my personal favorites, despite my minor problems with the final act. And hey, I'm not the only one that can't say enough about magnifecent Grace Kelly:

review by JxSxPx


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People who added this item 3242 Average listal rating (2235 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.4
Aliens (1986)
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Mission Aborted

Films I didn't complete for various reasons.
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Good Intentions

Only 4 films left over from last month's crop...not too shabby. Better set my goals a bit higher this time around.
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The Month in Review

People who added this item 463 Average listal rating (270 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.3
My Quick Pick Six:

Good: Exit Through the Gift Shop / Barney's Version

Bad: 2 Days in Paris / The Killer Inside Me

Weird: World's Greatest Dad / Dogtooth
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People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.3
Biggest pleasant surprise of the month has to be

Buried
with
Easy A
close behind.

These are both movies as worthy of your time as a number of the films that appeared on Oscar ballots this month.
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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 6.2
Looking Back (1969)
Well, I'd already seen nearly all of the Oscar contenders long before this year's joke of an Award Show underwhelmed the nation. Fortunately, I still managed to catch up on a fair amount of quality picks this month. Didn't come without a few bumps along the way of course.

And it should be noted that damn near everything I saw was made in the last 15 years. Guess I exchanged some older films for dodgy horror titles. Old habits die hard.

And 36 movies watched ain't bad for a short month!

Breakdowns for Personal Reference:

Total films watched: 36

Watched for the first time: 34

Among 34 first watches:

1950's: 1
1990's: 6
2000's: 13
2010/11: 14

Total foreign language films: 9

Total Documentaries: 2

My Ratings:

1/10: 0
2/10: 1
3/10: 1
4/10: 1
5/10: 5
6/10: 4
7/10: 7
-------
8/10: 6
9/10: 9
10/10: 0
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Continuing my neurotic efforts to document my responses to the films I see, as well as perhaps lend shape, rhyme, reason to what I watch, why and how.

January was fun so I hope to keep this up throughout the year.

See also:

January

March


As always feedback, suggestions, and polite criticism is welcome!

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Film Journal Archive, 2011 - Xanadon't (13 lists)
list by Xanadon't
Published 5 years, 1 month ago



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Comments

Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 8 17:03
I've been keeping my eye out for this. Funny, I added Dial M for Murder to my queue the moment I saw it was on instant. Need to watch it. I think I've seen it before, but I can't remember. As for The American, I thought it was well-made but it didn't really do much for me.

I keep seeing the Red/White/Blue films on best of lists...perhaps I need to check them out.
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 11 23:39
Ha yeah I completely agree with that review on Closer too. Glad you enjoyed Bourne!
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 14 16:57
This list reminds me...I still haven't seen a single movie this month. :(
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 16 6:30
Your ratings on Mother & World's Greatest Dad have led me to believe that sometimes you're way more critical than I am. That or you see things that I don't. *shrug*
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 16 9:58
@ the giraffe- The three colors trilogy is so far very fascinating. They can also be pretty slow. Which is why it took me so long to get to them I guess.

Eventually I get tired of rolling the dice and force myself to sit down to some "universally acclaimed" foreign film or another and see what it's all about. It's been worthwhile so far... lots of symbolism, motifs, and various art-cinema trappings, which is great and all, but can depend on my mood.

Hah, yeah in my mind there are two ways to view Closer and only one of them is *right*. Glad we agree! And 'Bourne' was pretty damn awesome in many ways!
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 16 10:00
@ Nocture- Ha, on the one hand I feel sorry for you... on the other, I'm trying not to think about all the other types of fun you may very well be having instead that I've been missing out on! Cheers!
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 16 10:02
@ the giraffe- I choose to call it particular.
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 16 18:47
Haha fair enough.
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 17 16:38
Glad to see someone else that doesn't praise Closer.
Also happy to see that you watch Norwegian movies, even tough Naboer/Next Door ain't the best Norwegian movie. ;)
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 21 0:51
So so glad to see you enjoyed Buried & Exit from the Gift Shop as much as I did! I suspect we should add them to the list of films to get around to discussing one of these days hehe.
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 24 19:38
Yep...I don't see what all the fuss is over Greenberg either. We saw it in the theatre & both walked out feeling completely indifferent to it. In fact, until it started popping up on critics' best-of lists I'd forgotten we saw it.

I knew you'd enjoy Me & Orson Welles. :D
Posted: 6 years, 6 months ago at Feb 25 7:13
The Illusionist was incredible! I'm curious to see what you think.
Posted: 6 years, 5 months ago at Feb 28 13:43
great list
Posted: 6 years, 5 months ago at Mar 1 16:32
I love your review section, as well as the Speed comment on Unstoppable (Speed was the 1st thing that came to my mind seeing the trailer heh).

You might add that World's Greatest Dad & Dogtooth are in completely different realms of weirdness. ;)
Posted: 6 years, 5 months ago at Mar 8 17:15
I had exactly the same experience for Nightwatch and Salt.

I was rather underwhelmed by The American, even though I liked it anyway. Same for the Return.

I really loved Closer.

I'm glad you start to enjoy Gus van Sant. Even though I don't like Good Will Hunting (it is sentimental, commercial and nothing original), I like most of his movies, especially Drugstore Cobwoy and To die for, both criminally forgotten. I have Milk on dvd, can't wait to see it...
...and I thought that Elephant was a very good movie!

Why on earth did you watch No strings attached at the theaters ?!? There was really nothing else ?

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