Saturday, April 12, 2008

What I was Watching in February and March

On TV in Feb & March
Two and a Half Men
30 Rock season Two
The Office
Eli Stone
The New Adventures of Old Christine

My proudest accomplishment of March is that I got my friend Marcia hooked on Lost.. she's watched all of seasons 1 and 2 and is now working on three. I can't wait for it to be back in a couple weeks. This jury of one is still out on Eli Stone. It is getting better the more I watch but I have only really been watching it because there is simply nothing else on.

On DVD in Feb
Jane Austen Book Club
Across the Universe
Inside the Smiths
Eloise at Christmastime
Gone Baby Gone
The World is Not Enough
Russian Dolls
The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Martian Child
The Darjeeling Limited

In Theatres in Feb
There Will be Blood
Michael Clayton

I rather enjoyed the Jane Austen Book Club and it inspired me to want to read some other Austen books besides Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunately the "to read" stack of books is nearly toppling over.

Across the Universe and The Darjeeling Limited were greatly anticipated films by me and I have to say neither of them quite delivered. I liked them each well enough but neither are ones I feel an urge to own or even watch again. I DO love the soundtrack to the Across the Universe but that's about as far as I get with that. It seemed reminiscent of Hair which I liked quite well. The Beatles music was delightful and I wanted to love the film, I just couldn't quite get there. I found the Darjeeling Limited to simply be a bit flat.

I didn't have any expectations for Martian Child beyond the idea of seeing more of John Cusack and in that regard I wasn't disappointed. He's a lovely man. When is he going to discover that I could be his soul mate?

My documentary of the month was about the band The Smiths, about whom I know little. Now I know a little more. It wasn't a great film. I guess I'd only recommend it to die hard fans.

My foreign films were Russian Dolls and The Wind That Shakes the Barley. The latter is a grim Irish film depicting the rebellion in the early 20s in Ireland. The fight for independence from Britain. Like most stories about the little guy fighting back, it has moments of triumph, but for me, it felt desperate and sad. I am thankful I have not lived through any such times. I pray that will always be so. Russian Dolls is a sequel to L'Auberge Espagnole. I think I liked this one a bit better. Neither of the films were my favorites, in part, because I didn't love the protagonist... the central guy. He was a bit of an ass.

Venus turned out to be far better than I expected, though I would guess some people I know might still be disturbed by it. Peter O' Toole was terrific in the film. This one was nominated a year ago for an Oscar. It's taken me this long to get around to it. Sheesh.

Arthur is the Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli pic that is filled with quirky delights. She has great presence and if you've not seen it, you should.

Gone, Baby, Gone was an Academy Award nominated film for Amy Ryan's performace which I did think was quite good. I liked this film and thought Casey Affleck did a stand up job. I didn't see the ending of this one coming either and in some ways the film reminded me of The Departed or even Mystic River (written by the same author) in tone or setting, if nothing else.

All of my "in the theatre" films were all Academy Award nominated films: There Will be Blood, Atonement, Michael Clayton. I really enjoyed Michael Clayton. His final speech to Tilda Swinton just nailed it so perfectly. I thought Clooney was terrific and so was "Shiva, the god of death" :)

Atonement was not unlike the book. In some ways the film exceeded my mental images as I read the book. I enjoyed the book and was quite glad I'd read it first so as not to have the ending spoiled for me. Yet, watching their version of the ending was terrific as well. It seemed to have excellend cinematography. The grown version of Briony wasn't quite how I pictured her, however.

There will be Blood was a bit crazy. first of all it was interesting to see who they did the early oil drilling. The first few minutes of the film pass in utter silence and that stylistic choice seemed to work for me. I found the Eli and his brother bits to be confusing. I had to go home and try to solve this by looking at reviews and discussions about the film. The ending was completely shocking to me. And it did just seem to "end" abruptly. I felt a similar response to the ending of No Country For Old Men.

On DVD in March
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Citizen Ruth
Feast of Love
Dan in Real Life
Sleuth (2007)
Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
My Kid Could Paint That
We Are Marshall
Into the Wild
The Kite Runner

In Theatres in March
National Treasure: Book of Secrets

I think I prefered the first Elizabeth movie. This one was good, but it didn't blow me away.

Citizen Ruth is a Laura Dern film that depicts a drug addicted pregnant woman caught between the struggles of two opposing groups: the pro-lifers and the right to choosers. It was quite good. Ironic. Satirical.

Feast of Love has a great cast (Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear and is basically a nice movie about life and love. I enjoyed and would recommend it.

The recent graphic novel of Beowulf I read made it necessary to watch the film. The extras on the DVD explain ways they differ from the regular story and why. I find the whole Beowulf story to be intriguing anyway. i thought it was pretty well done, though a little gross at times.

For some reason Dan in Real Life seemed a lot like The Family Stone. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't wholly original or even as good, in my eyes at least, as The Family Stone. Nevertheless, Steve Caroll pulled off the role and didn't remind me of Michael Scott, not even once.

I watched the original Sleuth film last year and so I was eager to see the difference between the two. I think I prefer the original. Maybe it's because I'd already seen it and was anticipating things from the 2007 version.

My classic film for March was Around the World in 80 Days. Though a remarkably LONG film, this one was quite fun. David Niven always is. I would never have recognized Shirley Maclaine in that film. Now I want to ride in a hot air balloon.

Mr. Magorium's Emporium is about a dreamy toy shop and its owners. Dustin Hoffman is the perfect owner and is delightful and the whole plot line is nicely done too. I am not sure I agree with the choice of Natalie Portman as the lead actress. Sometimes I just find her grating. This film had enough charm to compensate. I think kids would like this one.

My March documentary was recommended by my friend Kristine: My Kid Could Paint That. I found this film intriguing and I felt really bad for the family. The film depicts their journey in the discovery of their daughter and her artwork.. their rise to fame and favor.. and their fall as suspicions rise. I believe it's her work. Not that it matters.

I watched the typical sports drama, We Are Marshall. Of course the situation faced in their town was anything BUT typical. Yet, not unlike Remember the Titans the team rallies and so forth. It was pretty decent though. And I did like Remember the Titans too.

Into the Wild and The Kite Runner were both books I've read. I felt that Into the Wild got a little long for me and I prefered the experience I had while reading the book. It almost seemed like extra things were added in. The Kite Runner was a nicely done PG13 version of a book with some very powerful and potentially R rated scenes. I enjoyed the book and I enjoyed the film. It gave me insight into Afghanistan.

I watched War, not because I am a big action film fan. I am, however, a fan of Jason Statham, first seen by me, in the Guy Ritchie film, Snatch. I was unimpressed through much of this fairly graphic, brutal film. The ending was a nice twist. That was its only redeeming factor for me. Not sure it's enough to recommend it to others.

My theatre views were pretty scarce in March. No time, no time. I did see National Treasure: The Book of Secrets and it was not unlike the first one. A fun little adventure flick. If anything, it just made my mouth water for that next Indiana Jones film. Yay. Penelope was sweet and charming and highly enjoyable. Watch this one. James McAvoy is really starting to grow on me. I found almost every character interesting and while the story was predictable in many ways, it had a bit of a modern fairy tale feel.

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