Friday, December 24, 2010

Film Friday: Volume I

As I was discussing in my previous post, I love Twitter and the vast amount of information it provides me.  It’s like having your own newspaper, catered exactly to your needs.  You get updates on the things you want updates on, and aren’t cluttered with things that you couldn’t care less about.  I get updated hourly on things going on with movies, sports, politics, etc, and links to websites and other blogs that I might be interested in.   Besides the occasional sex-bot that tries to get me to follow them and “check out their pics,” Twitter is pretty great. 

One of the things I like about Twitter is “Follow Friday”, where people who you follow on Twitter will recommend a few other people for you to follow.   So, in the spirit of Twitter, I’m starting a “Film Friday” column that I will (try to) run every Friday, where I will briefly recommend two movies to watch and one to NOT watch.  The format will go like this: the first movie will be a new-ish film (as in this year or last year) that I recommend.  The second movie will be an older (as in older than 2 years ago) that you either may have not heard about or just something that I personally want to champion.  The last movie will be a movie that I do NOT recommend.  A lot of these will be recent movies that I hope to steer you away from but there could be some older ones as well.  So each week when you come to read the column it will look like this:

            1.  Good new movie.
            2.  Good older movie.
            3.  BAD movie. 

So here’s my first entry for “Film Friday”:

"The Fighter" (2010)

Put this one in the category of total surprises for me.  Mark Wahlberg stars as boxer Irish “Mickey” Ward, and the film looks at a brief period of his boxing career in the early 90’s.  It isn’t really a typical Disney-style feel good underdog story, but rather, it is a character study with the boxing as more of a backdrop and the glue that holds the plot together. 

The movie is an actors’ showcase.  By now most people have at least heard about the turn that Christian Bale makes as Mickey’s brother, Dickey (I guess that family took a page out of Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s book), who is a crack-addict, former boxing star and Mickey’s trainer.  He knocks the performance out of the park.  Melissa Leo also makes quite the impression as the controlling matriarch of the family.  The chemistry of those two characters is outstanding and it really captures the family dynamic.  Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams hold up their end of the bargain, although they are outshined in almost every scene by one of the other two I mentioned.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the brief performances by all of the seven sisters.  Just see the film and you will agree with me on that.  The movie is in theatres now, so go check it out.   7.5/10. 

"You Can Count on Me" (2000)

I’ve wanted to write about this one for quite awhile now.  Family dramas always get a little extra boost from me just on default, but this one is done quite well.  Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo star as siblings who lost their parents when they were children.  Linney’s character is a single mom who stays around the town her and her brother grew up in and works at a bank to provide for her son.  Ruffalo’s character is the antithesis—a wayward pothead who dreads the thought of residing in the town they grew up in.  His poor choices bring him to stay with his sister and her son for a few days as they work out their personal lives and their relationship with each other. 

As in The Fighter, the greatness of the movie has much to do with the acting and the chemistry between the leads.  Even Rory Culkin (in his screen debut) gives a wonderful performance that would take most dramatic actors to task.  The emotional connection that the characters create with each other and the audience is outstanding—it’s one of those movies where, on the surface, you don’t relate to the characters’ situations at all, yet for some reason you feel that it is about you.  If a movie can make you feel that way, you know that something special occurred.  8.5/10

"The Lovely Bones" (2009)

It’s too bad that the director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy couldn’t pull this one off.  This was one of the most disappointing movies I’ve seen in awhile as far as potential vs. actual.  I haven’t read the book, but anyone who has will tell you it is an amazing piece of literature.  The movie was disjointed and failed to successfully take what was in the book and adapt it appropriately. 

The acting was mostly bad.  Stanley Tucci gives the only decent performance as the creepy child molester/killer, but even he was a little bit of a caricature and over the top at some points.  As always with Peter Jackson’s movies, there are some cool visual elements (for the scenes in “Heaven”) matched with decent music, but even both of those are misguided and serve little purpose to the narrative.  It’s like Jackson just said “let’s make this cool globe-looking thing roll down a mountain and splash in a lake!” but no one ever thought to ask him why.

This one is a huge misfire that I do not recommend.  4/10.  

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