Sunday, November 12, 2006

Some Recent Motion Picture Viewings

We've seen a bunch of movies lately, so I thought I'd write my thoughts and ratings. The commonality between them all is: confusing!

The Departed
This is one of the best movies I've seen in a while. It has it all. Great actors (Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon, Leo DiCaprio), great acting, a great script, great direction (Scorcese), and a hell of a story. What more could you want? A great soundtrack? Yeah, it's got that too. It's a long movie, but even for a guy with a short attention span, it gripped me throughout. This movie will keep you on your toes, with a lot of twists and turns and you'll have to keep reminding yourself who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. But as Nicholson's character says, "when you're looking down the barrel of a gun, what's the difference?" Don't be too hard on yourself if the ending leaves you scratching your head - it's a complex movie, and one that you'll want to watch again.
Grade: A

Donnie Darko
I rented this last night at the recommendation of my buddy Tubby, who said it was one of his favorite movies of all time. I gotta say, I was confused as all hell. Just from reading the plot synopsis on the back, "Donnie Darko is a disturbed adolescent from a semi-functional upper-middle-class family. After nearly escaping from death because he hears the voice of a 6-foot-tall bunny, Donnie is led by the bunny to create havoc that is both destructive and creative," I said to Tubby "WTF?" He said don't worry, it all gets explained at the end. Well, he was half right. It was all explained at the end when I went online to see if some other people could explain it to me. This Jake Glyllenhall guy makes some interesting choices for his acting career, man. Besides sharing screen time with a guy in a bunny suit and making out with a cowboy, he's also been Bubble Boy. I can't hate on this Donnie Darko flick too much just because I didn't understand most of it, but if you're a fan of 80's music you might enjoy seeing your favorite old songs set to film. Just don't ask me to explain it, OK?
Grade: B

WordPlay (on DVD)
This is a documentary about people who are obsessed with crossword puzzles. It features Will Shortz, who is the New York Times crossword editor, Merl Reagle, who is a crossword creator, a bunch of people competing for the annual crossword championship, and a few celebrities who love crosswords, like Jon Stewart, Mike Mussina, The Indigo Girls, and Bill Clinton. This is a pretty good movie. I'd recommend it, even if you've never done one, or get confused and frustrated and angry while doing them. Watching it got my wife inspired to take them up, so how much more of an endorsement do you want?
Grade: B+

Stranger Than Fiction
The plotline and premise of this film sound confusing, but it's not hard to follow at all. Basically, and I'm only giving away what's given away in the trailer, Will Ferrell is just living his life, when he starts hearing voices in his head. He realizes that it's a narrator and he is the main character. This is frustrating enough, when he realizes that his death is imminent. Will Ferrel and Dustin Hoffman are excellent, as is the love interest in the film, let's see what's her name? Maggie Gyllenhaal. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say she's related to the actor mentioned above, without even looking it up. She seemed really familiar to me while watching the movie, though I couldn't remember what I'd seen her in. Was it the resemblence to her (brother)? Was it just her amazing acting ability that made me feel like I knew her? Or had I actually seen her in a previous performance? Let's see... hmm... I did see Mona Lisa Smile but don't remember her character, or much of that movie... I also saw Adaptation which was a great flick but I don't think that was it... holy moly! Donnie Darko! Yeah, she played Donne's sister. That's funny. I wonder how many siblings have played siblings in movies?

Okay, back to Stranger Than Fiction. This movie is really funny but not as ridiculous as you would expect a Will Ferrell film with as crazy a premise as this to be. It's actually rather inspiring. Go check it out before the people you work with who've seen it give the whole thing away.
Grade: B+

Two B's, a B+ and an A. Hey, I've seen some good movies lately! Either that, or I've forgotten some clunkers. I'll rack my brain tonight and see if there aren't any movies I've seen lately that warrant F's.

1 comment:

Tubby said...

If you like Maggie Gyllenhaal, I suggest you see Secretary.

Unrelated to that, I also recommend Down In The Valley with Ed Norton and Evan Rachel Wood. One of my favorite DVD rentals of the year.