Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Restless is a gentle story about death, illness, coping and love. There is a joy and optimism in a situation that is not very happy or optimistic. Well done.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Real Steel

The movie Real Steel is "dumb as a bag of hammers." I don't get the Oscar nom for visual effects. There was one scene that might qualify. That is all.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


The documentary Pina is a loving tribute to the German choreographer Pina Bausch. The innovation, beauty and strength made this a wonderful visual experience. This is the second film I've seen in 3D this season, and it was definitely worth it. Lovely.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Haywire is a stylistic look at espionage, black ops, betrayal and survival. The camera work is brilliant, fight scenes are brutal and the ending is very satisfying. Gina Carano makes one hell of a debut. Nice start for the films of 2012.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Downton Abbey

Trapped by a snow storm, here in New England, I was looking for entertainment. I've been reading and hearing so much about Downton Abbey, and found that the first season is on Netflix Instant. Done and done 7 episodes. This series is the best of melodrama, aristocracy, servants, rules, passion, anger and secrets. Delicious. Anyone following their emotions is squashed like a bug. Love the dialogue, costumes and pluck. Masterpiece and PBS deliver once again.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Artist

It's hard to believe that a silent, black and white film can be as joyful, dramatic and entertaining as The Artist. Skillfully acted, artfully staged and beautifully scored. Some of the music swells reminded me of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Beauty and the Beast. The use of stairs as a set piece adds to the the visual drama, along with Dujardin's smile. I was a skeptic going in and a fan coming out. See it!

The Iron Lady

Once again, Meryl Streep brings her acting skills to a real life biopic. This time as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. The central story shows Thatcher in the present, with declining health and mental faculties. This felt a bit invasive to me. The history is done in flashbacks, I like the way the time line is presented. Another OK film with great performances.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a slow, subtle spy thriller. A bit confusing, but this is another film where the performances forgive all the flaws of the structure.

War Horse

War Horse gives us a dramatic, visual war film. The World War I story is a bit hokey and melodramatic. Near the end, there was a comic scene that was a bit Monty Python. Very odd. I listened to an interview with Steven Spielberg about this scene, and was glad to know that the barbed wire they used was plastic. It's hard for me to watch horses in peril. Beautifully shot, but the story didn't do it for me.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Favorite Films of 2011

I've seen most of what I'm going to see of the films of 2011, so I'm ready to make my favorites list.

I have two honorable mentions.

Mister Rogers and Me is a documentary about Fred Rogers, and the message he was trying to spread. Benjamin and Christofer Wagner made a film that addresses treating people right and healthy media consumption. The New York Premiere was in October, and I was thrilled to have my daughter join me for this deep and simple film.

Also, Joni Derouchie made a documentary about Cort & Fatboy called Welcome to that Whole Thing. A little peek behind the curtain of my favorite podcast.

My original favorites list for 2011 was 40 films strong, but I whittled it down to 11. These are the films I enjoyed this year.

1. Midnight in Paris was such a breath of fresh air. A bit different, a bit the same. So charming I saw it twice.
2. Seeing The Muppets with my grandson and daughter meant that 3 generations enjoyed this nostalgia bath. The tone of the film stayed true to Muppet lore, yet gave a dash of new for a very fun film. My grandson is still listening to the sound track daily.
3. Attack the Block could be my favorite alien film in a long time. Well shot, cool effects, good story.
4. Drive is moody, menacing and violent.
5. The Artist combines joy with song with success with discouragement with joy with success.
6. Super is a creative turn on vigilante justice.
7. In Martha Marcy May Marlene we watch a girl sink into mental illness despite efforts not to.
8. Bill Cunningham New York chronicles a man's passion for photography, fashion and lifestyle.
9. Moneyball tells the story of a business model that took a lot of courage.
10. Hanna is a beautifully shot action thriller about survival.
11. Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol is the best action movie of 2011. IMAX was the perfect outlet for this.

A dominant theme this year was OK movies with fantastic performances. Other films I liked this year? Rubber, Source Code, Rango, Super 8, Everything Must Go, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter, Janie Jones, Sing Your Song, Rid of Me, Bellfower, Trollhunter, Jane Eyre, Contagion, Being Elmo, Hugo and Winnie the Pooh. On to the films of 2012!!

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin

There's good motion capture animation, and there's bad motion capture animation. Often the characters take on a creepy look. The Adventures of Tintin refines the technology to the point where the film looks great. Yes, it's good motion capture. Along with 3D, it really has an interesting depth, and everything looks very real. It's a fun story, and the characters are introduced well. There are many references to previous Spielberg films. Most noticeable, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jaws. The chase scenes were thrilling and the pirate battles rocked. No lack of action here. A fun family film, but the children should probably be older, there is a lot of gun-play and perilous situations. I really liked this one.

Sherlock Holmes:A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes:A Game of Shadows is very much the same as the first Sherlock Holmes movie. Likable characters, funny moments, action, creative action shots. Not bad, not great. It was a packed theater and people seemed to enjoy the film.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

I loved the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The American version is a close cousin, with an ending that did not carry the same emotion as the first. The performances and cinematography were very good. The score masterfully carries the viewer through the action. I liked this film, and I may have liked it more if I didn't have such a recent version in my head. Well done.