Movie Report Card: February 2013

I don’t write posts about every film I see. I simply don’t have time. The Movie Report Card exists to fill in the blanks about my movie-watching habits. This monthly series of posts is dedicated purely to sharing the movies that I watch each month and my thoughts on them. Near the bottom, I assign certain titles to a few of the movies. They are Best of Class (my favorite movie experience), Teacher’s Pet (a noteworthy film that pleasantly surprised me), and Failing Students (any film with a grade lower than C-).

Grades:

Thelma and Louise (Scott) B+
Training Day (Fuqua) B
Die Hard (McTiernan) A-
Groundhog Day (Ramis) A-
Touch of Evil (Welles) B-
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (Potter) A-
Rushmore (Anderson) B-
The Royal Tenenbaums (Anderson) B+
The Dead Zone (Cronenberg) B
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Anderson) A-
Escape from New York (Carpenter) B+
Adaptation (Jonze) A-
Flight (Zemeckis) A-
Marathon Man (Schlesinger) B
Once Upon a Time in Mexico (Rodriguez) B+
The Darjeeling Limited (Anderson) B+
Big Trouble in Little China (Carpenter) D+
Argo (Affleck) B+
Cosmopolis (Cronenberg) C
Bottle Rocket (Anderson) B
Moonrise Kingdom (Anderson) A-

Comments:

The seven Wes Anderson films which I reviewed during February actually only accounted for a third of all of the movies I watched. Here are the other two thirds:

I watched Thelma and Louise and Training Day, two very different crime films, on television. I really enjoyed the first one and was greatly entertained. Training Day wasn’t necessarily my type of crime film, but I did like it and Denzel Washington was good as a rogue cop.

On the same day, I watched Die Hard for the first time ever. Though I tend to stay away from action movies, Die Hard is such a popular classic that I knew I had to be missing something special. As it turns out, it exceeded my expectations.

Groundhog Day was on AMC on Groundhog Day, so I had to watch it. It wasn’t my first time to see it, but the movie remains fresh and hilarious. Of course, the premise is wonderful, but the film’s genius is in the way that it uses the premise to provide two hours of non-stop entertainment.

In an attempt to begin seeing more black-and-white movies, I went to Orson Welles Touch of Evil, which had some interesting characters, but did not add up to anything very significant. Then I saw the Cary Grant/Myrna Loy comedy, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. It was nothing short of excellent and I would rank it among the best comedies I have ever seen.

As a huge fan of the thriller genre, I had heard about Marathon Man, a ’70s thriller starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier, but has never gotten around to watching it. Last month, I found a copy at my local library and quickly checked it out. While I didn’t think it was a masterpiece, the movie was certainly a well-made genre effort.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico was, like Die Hard, an action film that completely exceeded my expectations. I ended up writing a review of it.

If January was “a month of firsts for me,” then February could easily be considered a month of seconds. I continued my education in Kaufman, Cronenberg, and Carpenter with some second experiences:

After Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I gave Adaptation a try, which I enjoyed much more. It seemed less deliberately disorienting and its look at the creative process was both fascinating and funny.

I also watched my second and third films directed by David Cronenberg; one released in the ’80s and one in 2012. The Dead Zone, based on the Stephen King story and starring Christopher Walken, was thoroughly entertaining and a not so much of a horror film as I expected. While that Cronenberg film kept my attention for the entire two hours, the director’s latest, Cosmopolis, couldn’t even entertain me for twenty of its ninety minutes. The movie was incredibly dull and extremely talky. I appreciated some of the experimental aspects of it, but the movie seemed to have no interest in captivating an audience.

I have become hooked in the last month on John Carpenter movies. It all started with Christine in January. The adventure has continued with Escape from New York, one of my favorite movies I’ve seen in the last few weeks, and Big Trouble in Little China, one of the worst films I’ve seen in 2013. Escape is great science fiction fun and a film that I would love to own and revisit. Trouble obviously tried to be fun, but I often found myself laughing at all of the wrong places. It was just one of those movies that I wanted to get out of my memory as soon as the credits begin to roll.

The quest to catch up on the films of 2012 continued as I watched Cosmopolis and these two Oscar nominees:

My second Denzel Washington vehicle of the month, Flight was an incredibly powerful drama centered on addiction. Even in Training Day, Washington has never been better and his performance here was greatly deserving of an Oscar nominations. This is likely to end up on my 2012 top ten.

Only days before the Oscars, I managed to see this year’s Best Picture winner. While Argo is certainly a very thrilling and well-made film, I still wish Life of Pi had taken the prize.

Areas for Improvement:

This new section exposes a few of the weak spots in my viewings last month by presenting a few minor goals for the month to come. My two goals for March are to watch:

-At least one Studio Ghibli film
-At least three foreign films

Best of Class: Flight
Teacher’s Pet: Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Failing Students: Big Trouble in Little China

8 responses to “Movie Report Card: February 2013

  1. Good to see you liked Adaptation. Kaufman’s such a talented writer. I do love Touch of Evil, but I can see why you don’t like it so much. I also have similar feelings for Argo. While I really liked it, I preferred some of the other nominees more.

    • Kaufman is definitely talented. Adaptation has me looking forward to Being John Malkovich. I wanted to like Touch of Evil, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for, I guess.

  2. ” I appreciated some of the experimental aspects of it, but the movie seemed to have no interest in captivating an audience.”

    I find this is pretty true of most Cronenberg films – he’s doing his own thing and isn’t particularly interested in. It doesn’t always make for easy viewing – Cosmopolis was certainly a slog at times, but I found it ultimately rewarding – but it does make for unique cinema, which I appreciate.

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