Check out the idea behind these new weekly posts here. December has given me an embarrassment of riches as far as the quality of movies I have seen in the theatre, including The King’s Speech, Black Swan, The Fighter, True Grit, and TRON: Legacy, which I write about below. I plan on writing a little more about a couple of these this coming week. Here are my picks for this week, and for the love of mercy remember the order: first movie = good new movie, second movie = good older movie, third movie = bad movie.
“TRON: Legacy” (2010)
I almost hesitate to recommend this here because I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but I did think it was such an audio-visual treat that I think a lot of you would enjoy watching it. This is definitely one that you want to see in IMAX 3D or you might as well not even bother. If you want to see it at all, don’t wait and simply rent it.
I could talk about the story but I’m not even sure if it matters. Garrett Hedlund, the lead of the film, wasn’t given very much love critically for his performance but I actually enjoyed what he did with a very underwritten character. Jeff Bridges gives a very interesting performance, as he not only reprises his role from the original but also plays the villain.
None of that even matters...as I said, it’s all about the audio-visual aspects of the film. Daft Punk’s electronica-sounding score is one of the best I’ve heard this year, and perfectly complements the film. Visually, the action sequences taking place on “the grid” are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, though there are spots where I felt they were recycling the same things over and over.
Despite the meandering story, I still recommend checking this one out before it leaves the theatres. 6.5/10
“The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946)
I’ve written before about how my dad is a huge old movie buff. This is one of his favorite films, and I finally got a chance to check it out a couple of weeks ago. It follows the different lives of three WWII veterans as they return home the war, and looks at the challenges that each one of them face in returning to civil life: one, a young amputee with hooks for hands; another, a poor man with marital troubles and post-traumatic stress syndrome; and lastly, a family man who has missed several important years of his children growing up.
William Wyler, the director of this film (and the most Oscar-winningest director of all time), is a natural at the emotional storytelling that takes place. At the same time, one of the things that I appreciated most about the film is that it is emotional about veteran life without being overly sentimental or unrealistic about it. Wyler gives enough directorial flair to turn what would have been a really good movie into a great movie. This Best-Picture winner is not one to be missed. 8.5/10.
“It’s Complicated” (2009)
Meryl Streep, I expected better from you. Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, not so much...but you, Meryl?
Nancy Meyers (director of such classic films as The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give, and What Women Want) returns here to give us another story about the pain and drama in the lives of the middle-aged upper class. Excuse me if I don’t exactly feel their pain. Streep and Baldwin star as divorcees who fall back in love with each other, “complicating” things.
The only problem is that neither Meyers, nor Streep or Baldwin make me feel at all during the film that anything is actually complicated. The film should rather be called “It’s Slightly Inconvenient in My Otherwise Privileged and Lavish Lifestyle.” I’ll give you that I’m not really the target audience of a film like this. However, a good director would make this story appeal to more than just a very specific pocket of people, and instead of stereotyping and generalizing the characters to appeal to this pocket (and the lowest common denominator in that pocket), they would have tried to bring the film to life through some more specific characterization for Streep, Baldwin and Martin. It pains me to say it, but none of the three of them give even a decent performance.
Whatever. People will see this anyway, and I'm sure a lot of people liked it/will like it, but it just wasn't for me. At all. How's that for film criticism? 3/10.