Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sound City

I love a good music documentary. In Sound City Dave Grohl chronicles the history of the studio and then makes a little history of his own. I was fascinated with the technology explained alongside the now star-studded cast of musicians that recorded at this studio. From Barry Manilow to Nirvana, the music history in this film is rich. Ultimately, Grohl purchased the Neve soundboard that had seen so much history, and recorded a collaborative album with its veterans. Stunning.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


There is a line in the traditional wedding vows that says, "in sickness and in health, till death do we part." In the film Amour, when a woman in her eighties has a stroke, watching her husband deal with her had this phrase running through my head. Love, devotion and compassion fuel her husband as he deals with her steady decline. The director of this film, Michael Haneke, is know to have a brutal style of presenting situations, and this film is no different. He depicts their daily struggles in unflinching cuts. I saw this film in a theater full of senior citizens, and their reactions really drove this film home for me. In true Haneke style, the ending makes you think. An intense film I really liked.

5 Broken Cameras

A Palestinian farmer documents the encroachment of Israeli soldiers on their land as a form of defense. Over the years, the soldiers break 5 of his cameras, yet he perseveres to tell the story. Thus the title 5 Broken Cameras. This Oscar nominated documentary tells an interesting story from an interesting point of view.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pitch Perfect

Acapella music gets a remix in Pitch Perfect. A college student makes a deal with her father to get involved at school, and lands in a group of misfits working toward the championship. They stumble, they are bullied, they fall in love, they reinvent, they triumph. A bit formulaic, but the characters are charming and the singing is strong. I thought this was a solid rental.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best

I listen to a fair number of podcasts. They are a wonderful source for recommendations of film, music, books, plays and politics that I do not get from mainstream media. Geek in the City Radio is a podcast I especially enjoy. A few months ago, on my way to Brooklyn, Scott Dally interviewed the creators and stars Ryan O'Nan and Michael Weston of Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best and I was enamored  The film is about two musicians who go out on a strange tour. They play guitar and baby toys and the music is enchanting. I really liked this film, thanks for the recommendation!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Nominated for 3 Oscars, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was my reason to go to the theater today. I was treated to endless chases and battles. I learned that Orcs are disgusting and dwarfs are plucky. The larger lesson was the first meeting of Gollum and Bilbo. The riddles of the cave scene is mesmerizing and worth the price of admission. All of the Oscar nominations are for visual effects and art direction, which are well deserved. This film is way too long, which is Peter Jackson's style, so I'll give him a pass for that. This is a strong adventure fantasy film based on J.R.R. Tolkien's characters.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

I should have paid closer attention to The Pirates! Band of Misfits back in he spring. It got good reviews, but sounded silly to me. Watching it now, because it is nominated for an Oscar, I realize that the animation is gorgeous, the story heartfelt and hey it's pirates and ham! Whimsy and adventure abound. Mister Bobo the hench-monkey is a riot, especially the way he communicates. Sarcasm and wacky references are many. This is a fun, well animated film that is worthy of its nomination. Watch the credits!!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mirror Mirror

I watched Mirror Mirror because it is nominated for an Oscar for costumes. Rightfully so. The story involves Snow White. Most scenes with Snow White and/or the dwarfs are fine. I the dwarfs were interesting and the costumes were elaborate and award-worthy. The scenes with the evil Queen were horrible. Sad waste of time and talent.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Favorite Films of 2012

Having seen Zero Dark Thirty this weekend, I'm ready to post my favorite films of 2012. I don't feel qualified to say which films are "best", it's a very subjective term. No one can argue with me on my favorites, because they are mine. Going through all of the films I saw released in 2012 I came up with 30 I really enjoyed. From there, I found my way to the conventional number of 10. I'm going to list them in alphabetical order because I liked them all equally. Click on the titles to see what I thought.

Argo ~ A thriller based in a true story. The editing in this film is outstanding.
Cabin in the Woods ~ A crazy horror story that was a ride I was happy to take.
Django Unchained ~ A love story based in pre-civil war south wrapped in a bloody ride.
The Intouchables ~ A story of friendship and comment on how you live your life.
Magic Mike ~ A stripper wants more. This story is elevated by it's acting and sincerity of its characters.
Moonrise Kingdom ~ A sweet story of young love. Filmed in RI, this one has a special place in my heart. Someone called it a lovely jewel box. So true.
Ruby Sparks ~ A creative spin on the crazy girlfriend story.
Seven Psychopaths ~ A roadtrip extraordinaire
Skyfall ~ A wonderful addition to the Bond franchise
Sleepwalk With Me ~ A true story that made me smile.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Impossible

It is one thing to hear about a natural disaster in the news from half way around the world, it is another to be placed in the middle of that disaster in a film. The Impossible does just that. A lot of practical effects and tank work show the tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004 in graphic detail through the eyes of a family on vacation there. Another film where I knew the ending, but I still found it harrowing to watch. An excellent film.

Hyde Park on Hudson

The best part about Hyde Park on Hudson is Bill Murray's interpretation of FDR. The story addresses the former President's multiple affairs. The film takes place on a weekend visit with King George and Queen Elizabeth before the war. It is not a flattering portrayal, I came away from the film with a sad feeling about the man. Good movie, sad story.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

I was skeptical of the hunt for Osama bin Laden to be a very interesting film. Yet, in Zero Dark Thirty, the masterful writing and directing of Kathryn Bigelow brings the story to the screen in 157 riveting minutes. The intelligence gathering is frustrating, but the payoff in the last 25 minutes made my palms sweat and my heart race ... even when I knew how it would end. A powerful film.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Les Miserables

I have never seen the musical Les Miserable on stage. It always struck me as being too depressing. That being said, I had only general knowledge of the plot and knew some of the music from dance recitals. I really enjoyed this movie version of the story. I thought the singing was fine. Not Broadway quality, but most of the singers could hold their own. Anne Hathaway gives a stand-out performance. The sets are elaborate and add to the drama of the story. I got very caught up in the music, story and performances. I was impressed with this film.