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Added by Xanadon't on 9 Jan 2011 11:07
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Monthly Movie Journal: Jan. 2011

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First Time Viewings

Movies I watched for the first time and all the way through.
People who added this item 104 Average listal rating (59 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 5.8
The Extra Man (2011)
Kicked off the New Year with a winner. This goofy, touching comedy ranks among my favorite 2010 releases and delivered more laughs than can usually be found in an entire 20 screen multi-plex at any given time.

Thank you Netflix Instant watch!


Trailer for The Extra Man


Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 208 Average listal rating (122 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.7
A bar regular recommended this one to me some months ago...definate case where the customer is not always right. What should've been a moody supernatural horror film was ruined by underwhelming performances, mis-direction of the principle actors, and too many screwy, overly-convenient plot devices. Not horrible, but by the end of the month I won't remember much of anything about this film.
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 1974 Average listal rating (1161 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.4
Watched all 3 hours, 47 minutes of it while I was more or less snowed in for the day. I'm just glad there wasn't a whole lot else I could've been doing. (Er, except rewatching a good chunk of "The Godfather" collection.) Just about as over-rated as they come. High on my list of gripes about this structural mess of a film is the reek of misogony it gives off...and that's coming from a horror-nut!

Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 587 Average listal rating (316 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3
I received this one in the mail a full month before I sat down and finally watched it. I'd heard good things, but just couldn't get excited about seeing it for some reason. That ended about 10 minutes in. This is a great movie and among the best I've seen to come out of the 80's.

Something I found interesting:

Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
tomatometer
|All Critics|Top Critics100% Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 27
Fresh: 27 | Rotten: 0


Not that I live and die by what the critics' think, but not too many films out there with a perfect win-loss record.
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 551 Average listal rating (362 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.1
Frozen (2010)


In keeping with the winter theme, I decided it was time to give this little horror/thriller a look. Sufficiently scary (and depressing), with dialogue that actually rings pretty true. Not sure it would hold up for a rewatch, but one time through it hits most of its marks.

currently available on Netflix Instant Watch
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 1098 Average listal rating (744 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.6
This movie is really a lot of fun for the first 70 minutes or so before it begins to lose steam. Had me laughing harder than I would've guessed. And the fact that the movie recognizes and exploits a lot of the 'buddy cop movie' cliches works in its favor, so that even when it eventually succumbs to them, its with a good-natured wink.


Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 314 Average listal rating (198 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.2
Micmacs (2009)
JxSxPx's review


French language film from the same director that enchanted so many of us with "Amelie" and the nearly as great "City of Lost Children" meant high expectations for this film. My points of disappointment are best articulated by the above review.



Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 456 Average listal rating (245 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.8
After admiring the hell out of Colin Firth's work last month in both "The King's Speech" and "A Single Man" I was eager to catch him here. This is a pretty faithful re-telling of the great Oscar Wilde's play, while well adapted for modern audiences.

A witty and charming comedy of errors about late 19th century English nobility, the only real downside of this film is that it's a comedy of errors about 19th century English nobility. If you can get past that unfortunate truth, it's a whole lot of fun!

currently available on Netflix Instant Watch
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 1438 Average listal rating (956 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
Three Kings (1999)
A subversive, anti-war films that fuses drama and comedy together surprisingly well. This movie is stylish and remarkably good and confident though many sequences, but muddled and meandering through others.



Its message is a rather depressing one in that EVERY ONE can be bought and sold if the price is right, whether the bargaining chips be oil, gold, fear, or the promise of fame.

In the end this movie worked far better for me as an action/comedy film than as a war story or political conversation piece. Though admirable in its ambition and for parts of its message, it also felt at times manipulative, presumptious, and disinterested in any coherent sense of realism.
Xanadon't's rating:


One of those movies I feel like I should've liked more than I actually did. But all the while I was watching it something stood in my way of really engaging with it or feeling much of anything for any of the characters.

Oh well. It did, however, make me want to rewatch "Quiz Show".



Xanadon't's rating:


A highly experimental and uncommonly brave film. The entire feature is shot in split screen, and we see the actions, reactions, imaginings, memories, regrets, and hopes of the two talented actors in intimate, and often highly creative ways. No masterpiece, but greater than the sum of its parts and worthy of praise.
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 248 Average listal rating (100 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6


Didn't enjoy this one as much as I expected to, but I will say that much of the visual and audio presentation is top-notch. Much of this movie is nearly too art-house, and while so many of the details are handled well, the over-all story is a huge miss with too many oversights to be fully forgiven.

Note: I don't cringe at much. But there's one scene in particular here that's truly uncomfortable. You've been warned.
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 707 Average listal rating (426 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
This should've been an exciting, original, and moving film. And they're even a few flashes of brilliance, but because they're so isolated they only serve to frustrate, reminding me of all the things this movie could've been. Unfortunately an overly self-conscious script and mundane direction weigh this one down quite a bit. The tedious, overly deliberate, canned dialogue approached unbearable at times.

Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 3872 Average listal rating (2618 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.3
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 1074 Average listal rating (765 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.4
Predators (2010)


Adrian Brody does his best Christian Bale/Dark Knight impression at the center of this lack-luster SciFi-action sequel. While the 'predators' themselves look great (which really just means they didn't ruin what was a good thing to begin with) that's nearly the beginning and end of the short list of strengths at work in this movie. For many that may be all that really matters here, but I ran into a number of things that kept me from enjoying this movie. Not least of all is a flat script featuring "jokes" and one-liners that are often tasteless and universally unfunny. Also the action sequences are less than thrilling and when the aliens aren't on screen, this movie is generally a bore to look at. Much of it is dark, featureless, generic jungle back-drop, and some of the shots and attempts at style left me scratching my head or rolling my eyes.

I can't say I'm completely offended at the overall effort here, but I'm far from impressed.
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 3477 Average listal rating (2293 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7


Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross collaborated on the fantastic musical score-- the most noteworthy and original element of the entire film. The rest is a soul-less character study of sorts filled with rapid-fire snarky dialogue and exactly zero memorable scenes. I guess I enjoyed this movie exactly as much as I expected to, which is to say modestly and on occassion. It passes as slick, well-crafted entertainment, but in my mind doesn't qualify as Best Picture material.
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 365 Average listal rating (178 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Howl (2010)


This was a great movie watching experience and easily one of my favorite films of 2010. It's made with a contagious excitement and fondness for its subject and works as a fantastic bridge between one art form and another. I was shocked to lean afterward just how divided critics were on this film.

Bold Prediction: Years from now this film will be redistributed by Criterion Collection. It will be featured now and then for 'special screenings' at urban 'arthouse' theatres. And many of these same frowning critics will act as though they loved it all along. Meanwhile, this one got it right:

Movie review by A.O. Scott of The New York Times
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 3421 Average listal rating (2365 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.6
Kick-Ass (2010)
Urg. Here it is. My Go Ahead, Hate Me movie of the month. I didn't like Kick-Ass. I wanted to like it. And I expected to like it. But I just didn't like it.

Perhaps it's that I neither hate, nor love the comic-book movie genre enough to pick up on the "brilliance" of this film (which was it trying to do anyway? Satarize and ridicule comic-book movies or celebrate and slap backs with them?) Well anyway, the action bored me. The characters didn't hold my interest. And not much of anything after the first 15 minutes had me laughing. But I guess the 'do-nothing on-looker syndrome' and cell phone camera/youtube social commentary stuff was kinda neat...

Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 1319 Average listal rating (801 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
Say what you will about Roman Polanski the man, but Polanski the director has this whole movie-making thing down pretty well. Shades of Hitchcock flutter about everywhere in this smart, expertly crafted film. Take Kim Cattrall out of her supporting role and insert Cate Blanchett and this becomes a nearly perfect film. Definately one I plan to watch twice to see what details I failed to pick up on the first go-round.



For a better idea of what this is all about I'll refer you to my local film critic:

Cranky Hanke's Review
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 51 Average listal rating (28 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6
Shiver (2008)
A pretty solid Spanish thriller/horror flick. A delightfully generous camera gives us some great on-location shooting and beautiful scenery. Visually, this movie is impressive all around, while the young man in the lead role gives a superb, convincing performance. Few problems with the way the story was layed out, but sufficiently creepy and technically very strong.

(Don't be put off by the trailer guy's narration. In fact, just mute it. The trailer-guy really mucks this one up.)


Trailer for Shiver
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 413 Average listal rating (255 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
Paper Moon (1973)
Tatum O'Neal becomes the youngest actor to win an Oscar in this B&W feature set during the Great Depression. Funny, heart-warming, and clever without becoming too cute or sentimental.



Roger Ebert's Review
Xanadon't's rating:
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At the Movies

Films I slapped down $9.50 for and watched on the big screen
People who added this item 1984 Average listal rating (1348 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.6
True Grit (2010)
It seems the Coen brothers make good movies the way I get up in the morning and take a pee. That is to say habitually, effortlessly, and often with no small amount of urgency and relish. As anyone that's been paying any kind of attention over the last couple decades knows, it's simply what they do. True Grit, of course, is no exception.



Now I've heard from various sources that this is a re-make of an older John Wayne film. And come to think of it, that sounds right. Guess what? I don't care. And neither should most anyone else. I'll admit I haven't seen the original, (both are adapted in one way or another from the original-original source material novel of the same name) but I suspect that anyone trying to compare the two is probably missing the point. By now most would agree that Joel and Ethan Coen have earned the right to breathe new life into whatever they deem fit. They're too passionate about their craft to committ any severe disservice, and too confident to avoid branding any project with their own personal stamp.

In fact, the only fault with True Grit is that it ended too quickly and perhaps maintained too sharp a focus. I suspect most audience members wouldn't have minded meandering through some peripheral (or even completely invented) story a bit; site-seeing a little longer through these gifted film-makers eyes.

For an alternate, though interesting, take on this movie check out:

lotr23's review
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 1722 Average listal rating (1135 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
The Fighter (2010)
While nearly everyone is gushing about how great Christian Bale is in his role as the washed-up, crack-addicted older brother, it's really Amy Adams that shines in this film. If it wasn't for that plucky young True Grit girl, she'd be a no-brainer for Best Supporting Actress. Adams plays a tough-as-nails bartender/college drop-out that drinks to cope with her underachieving station in life. At work she is surrounded by losers, but she sees a winner in Micky. Afterall, she oughta know the difference. Adams' character, Charlene, lives life with a hard approach at realism. She sees the people, relationships, and motivations surrounding Micky for what they really are. While none of this may sound romantic, in some ways this film is really a love story. Without Amy Adams to act as the spiritual center of this film The Fighter wouldn't be nearly as worthwhile as it ultimately is.



Meanwhile Mark Whalberg gives what I felt is the best performance of his career. His subtle, muted approach to Micky was thoughtful and convincing and lent the character a sort of quietly seductive power that I didn't expect. This plays well in the shadow of the over-the-top, border-line cartoonish (not to say unimpressive) presence offered by Bale.

In fact nearly every performance in this movie is strong, which allows us to mostly forgive the movie for some of its faults. The visual story-telling at work is anything but efficient, and there were a number of moments where some serious editing could've helped. As the characters move from one emotional stage to another the director takes the long way around everytime.

But this is a great story, and these are some fine performances, even if The Fighter as a film is only good. It's Academy Award nomination for Best Picture is rather silly, especially while titles like Shutter Island (February release or no) were ignored.
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 1399 Average listal rating (826 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.4


Two of the best performances of the year here. This is a realistic, honest, rather depressing depiction of the shelf-life of a marraige, though it is not without humor and moments of brilliant tenderness.

This movie begins so well, but eventually stumbles and loses itself a bit in the telling. I admired a lot of things about this one, but felt a few decisions kept it short of greatness.
Xanadon't's rating:
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Film Snob Pick of the Month

We all know what kind of movies I'm talking about.
People who added this item 233 Average listal rating (126 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.8


This never quite becomes the profound film I imagined it might be, but there's still a lot going for this movie. Here we have some excellent story-telling going on that feeds the imagination in mesmerizing ways, and enough arm-chair philosophy to spurn lengthy discussion after the credits roll. This is a charming and stimulating film.
Xanadon't's rating:
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What's Up, Doc?

Because sometimes a good documentary can be just the thing
People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7
I really enjoyed this documentary, but couldn't help thinking of a certain novelty book:



Currently Streaming on Netflix

At 70 minutes, just watch it. You'll become the second Listal member to do so.
Xanadon't's rating:
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Classics Corner

Hopefully a recurring segment
People who added this item 461 Average listal rating (281 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.6
Stayed aboard the Orson Welles train and gave this one a watch. A fun, if overly contrived, noir film with many memorable moments, but not without its problems...Rita Hayworth as a blonde is not among them.



currently available on Netflix Instant Watch

Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 1011 Average listal rating (622 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.8


Fun fact: Originally received an X rating at the time of its release, Midnight Cowboy became the first and last X-rated film to win an Academy Award for best picture (not to mention best screenplay and best director).

My take: Exceptional performances from Voight and Hoffman and a touching, delicate, Grade-A story at its center makes this a nearly indispensable film, despite some unbalances and unfortunate meanderings in its telling.
Xanadon't's rating:


For a good read and some valuable insight
see here:
JxSxPx's review


My take: Well what else is to be said? Except that while I appreciate all of the above, there's still the question of my less than perfect rating.

While a technical marvel and a ground-breaking film featuring stellar performances, I must confess I didn't love this movie and will likely never watch it again. Why, you ask?

Simply because there's too much cruelty going on at the center of it. This is a tough, uncomfortable watch. (In fact, calling it the grandmother of "torture-porn", while far too short-sighted a statement, wouldn't be competely off the mark either) Yes, it's a GREAT film, but also one that I'm glad is behind me.


Xanadon't's rating:
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Foreign Language Find of the Month

A New Year's resolution of sorts
People who added this item 52 Average listal rating (26 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.8
Gloomy Sunday (1999)
I added this film to my instant queue several months ago and promptly forgot all about it. When I noticed it's 'Instant Watch' availability was about to expire I figured "well, it's now or never".

'Never' would have been a mistake.

This is a curious movie, at once beautiful and tragic, and richly textured in its story. It's one I deeply enjoyed and expect to stay with me for a good while.

I strongly recommend tracking down this movie; for you NetFlix users, see it by 1/19 before it disappears from Instant Watch! Click here to learn more:

San Francisco Chronical Review
Xanadon't's rating:
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Re-visits

Often old favorites, but sometimes an effort to meet a film with a different perspective/attitude.
People who added this item 2759 Average listal rating (1689 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
Citizen Kane (1941)


Came across a cheap copy of this movie and grabbed it up. Third viewing was as satifying as ever. Welles' use of the camera and frame composition is awe inspiring.
Xanadon't's rating:
Copious amounts of snow often get me reaching for one of two films: "The Thing" (ha, I figured loaning it out back in August was safe) and this one, if only for the Hoth sequences. But usually I ride it all the way out, and this occasion was no exception. My 10/10 rating of course stands.
Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 1274 Average listal rating (789 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.9
Serendipity (2001)
I remembered liking this movie when it came out, and not just because Kate Beckinsale is so easy to look at. I've either wised up since, or grown more cynical. Either way, a 1.5 star drop is the fallout.

I hope this movie never has a sequel, because Jon and Sara are destined to become the most boring married couple in history. For years to come, people at parties will be whispering, "See that couple over there? The Tragers? Jon and Sara? Whatever you do, don't ask them how they met."-- Roger Ebert

Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 1406 Average listal rating (948 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6
Well, I think the seasonal affective disorder is already starting to take hold. I'm beginning to have trouble remembering what warm sunshine on skin feels like and I can't as readily imagine a world out there that's not dominated by cold and darkness. And so, with my copy of The Thing still M.I.A. I reached for this title instead. Still a bloody, frantic, fun time. Gorgeous to look at and beyond acceptable performances for the horror genre by most everyone on screen.

Xanadon't's rating:
People who added this item 3282 Average listal rating (2285 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.6
Zombieland (2009)
Turns out zombies and hangovers go well together; watching this I felt pretty similar to the undead running around on screen.

Xanadon't's rating:
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Back on the Shelf

Either I hated these movies enough to abandon them, realized early on I was in the mood for something else, or substituted them for Nyquil.

In this case, left to right:
Nyquil, Nyquil, Moodswing, Moodswing
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Good Intentions

Shaped by theatrical release dates, recommendations from other listal members, and personal urge/sense of duty. The goal of course is to not let too many of these stack up from month to month!
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The Month in Review

All in all January was a solid month for movies. I've now seen 9 out of the 10 films nominated for best picture... can't remember the last time I was so up to speed come award season.

Here's my Quick Pick Six:
People who added this item 469 Average listal rating (279 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.3
Good: Howl / Drugstore Cowboy
Bad: Predators / Kick-Ass
Wierd: Trouble Every Day / Conversations with Other Women
People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 6.2
Ohlédnutí (1969)
Maybe not as strong as my December, but still a relatively productive and enjoyable month of film. Knocked a full 11 films off my "Good Intentions" list, and worked in a number of spontaneous surprises as well.

And of course bookending the month with two strong 2010 releases is a nice bonus. Also notable is the meager amount of bad horror films watched. Seems like a habit I'm slowly climbing out of.

Breakdowns for personal referrence:

Total Films Watched: 35

Total first views: 30

Among first-time watches:

1940's: 1
1960's: 2
1970's: 2
1980's: 3
1990's: 3
2000's: 5
2010 : 14

Foreign Language Films: 4
Documentaries: 1

My Ratings:

1/10: 0
2/10: 0
3/10: 0
4/10: 2
5/10: 3
6/10: 6
7/10: 3
-------
8/10: 9
9/10: 6
10/10: 1



This is the first installment of the monthly movie journal I hope to keep throughout the year.

Ideally this will not only document and organize my movie watching activity and responses, but also help shape what I watch and how.

If you see anything of interest please feel free to comment or leave a suggestion.

Have a great 2011 at the movies!

See Also:

February Entry






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Favorite Lists (46 lists)
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Film Journal Archive, 2011 - Xanadon't (13 lists)
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