The Movie Report Card is a monthly series of posts that are 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 that I watched for the first time. 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-).
–The Master (Anderson) C+
–Amour (Haneke) A
–Soylent Green (Fleischer) B-
–Starman (Carpenter) C
–Guys and Dolls (Mankiewicz) C+
–Island of Lost Souls (Kenton) A-
–Adam’s Rib (Cukor) B+
–My Neighbor Totoro (Miyazaki) B
–The Thing (Carpenter) A
–Gattaca (Niccol) B+
–Argo (Affleck) B
–9 (Acker) C
–Wreck-It Ralph (Moore) B
–Casino Royale (Campbell) A
–The Words (Klugman and Sternthal) B-
–Dredd (Travis) B
–Into the Wild (Penn) A
–Life of Pi (Lee) A-
–Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow) A-
–The Incredibles (Bird) B
–Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Miyazaki) B+
–The Turin Horse (Tarr) C+
–A Fistful of Dollars (Leone) A-
–Seven Psychopaths (McDonagh) B+
–Les Miserables (Hooper) A
–Robot & Frank (Scheier) B
–The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Schnabel) A
–Throne of Blood (Kurosawa) B+
–Pitch Perfect (Moore) C+
–Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (Miike) C+
–G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Chu) C
–Killing Them Softly (Dominik) A-
–The Hunter (Nettheim) B+
Let’s start with the movies I caught up on from 2012:
The Master was difficult to get into and hard to understand and because of this, I became helplessly bored. After the high praise it received from some audiences last year, I feel like I missed something important when I watched it. I’m going to make sure that I see it at least one more time before I make my mind up about it.
I saw Amour in theaters and really liked it. It easily ranks in my top ten movies of 2012.
Wreck-It Ralph was eye-popping and original. Its Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film was well-earned.
The Words was better than I expected after reading several negative reviews of it. It has some good performances and its story really intrigued me. Plus, it’s always fun listening to Jeremy Irons talk.
I enjoyed the explosiveness of Dredd. I could tell that the filmmakers understood the source material and how it should be adapted into movie form. The movie knows exactly what it is trying to accomplish and it turns out successful.
I revisited Life of Pi on DVD. I still think it is one of last year’s best movies.
Zero Dark Thirty is tightly wound and well paced, but it doesn’t top Bigelow’s last film, The Hurt Locker. Still, it is yet another highlight of 2012 cinema.
Bela Tarr’s final film, The Turin Horse, was a long and uneventful art film. Though I liked how the movie leaves it up to the audience to determine its meaning.
I loved Martin McDonagh’s debut film, In Bruges, so I was looking forward to finally seeing his follow-up, Seven Psychopaths. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was hilarious, entertaining, and smart. These three qualities are rarely together in movies, especially in the last few years. Now that those words can describe both of McDonagh’s movies, he certainly is becoming an exciting filmmaker.
Les Miserables was all that I’ve ever wanted in a musical. Though it is not flawless, it is an almost overwhelming emotional experience. If he had not been matched up against Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman would have won an Oscar for his powerful acting and singing.
Robot & Frank was a nice little indie flick. It was entertaining, funny, touching, and pretty much all that I was hoping that it would be.
I had heard some good things about Pitch Perfect, so I figured it would be entertaining. The movie had its moments, but only a few of the songs were enjoyable and the plot was a little formulaic and predictable. Still, it was better than most of the comedies that Hollywood throws at teenagers today.
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai was a grim examination of the samurai code of honor that slowed considerably during the middle of the film. For me, the movie’s highlight was the cinematography.
I wrote a quick review of Killing Them Softly, Andrew Dominik’s third feature film.
Now I’ll quickly recap all the rest:
Soylent Green was a solid science fiction film, but not a masterpiece. It reminded me a little of The Omega Man, which also stars Charleton Heston.
Starman was pretty average for a sci-fi road comedy. Jeff Bridges is funny as the alien who is stranded on earth. I laughed and I was entertained, but I don’t think I’ll ever want to watch this again.
Guys and Dolls was a hit-and-miss musical. There were good songs and there were not-so-good songs. The movie is also 150 minutes and the studio sets look a lot like stage sets for Broadway musicals. It was fun seeing Brando sing though.
I wrote a “Criterion review” of Island of Lost Souls , a must-see for fans of classic horror.
Adam’s Rib was a fun romantic comedy starring Tracy and Hepburn.
The Thing was just plain awesome and is definitely my favorite Carpenter film.
Gattaca was magical and reminded me of Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence in some respects.
I watched Argo again and found it void of most of its suspense and thrills, even though it is still a well-made movie.
The Incredibles might not be my favorite Pixar movie, but it is still a lot of fun.
9 embraced style over substance. At least it was only about 80 minutes.
Watching it for a third time confirmed that Casino Royale is still my favorite Bond film and an excellent all-around action movie.
Into the Wild was another movie I love that I revisited. It’s still great.
I finally caught A Fistful of Dollars on TCM. I haven’t decided if I like it better than Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Probably not.
I also reviewed The Diving Bell and the Butterfly which might be one of the best movies of the 2000s.
Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood was a really good samurai film, though it doesn’t outrank Kagemusha or Yojimbo, in my opinion.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation was an amusing action picture with plenty of explosions and shoot-outs. It was completely predictable but there are some good action sequences and I was rarely distracted by the cliches.
Lastly, I saw two Studio Ghibli films for the first time: My Neighbor Totoro and Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind. They were both wonderful. I think I prefer Nausicaä, but Totoro seems like the kind of film that will get better every time I watch it.
Progress (in the Areas for Improvement):
I met both of my goals for March:
-Watch at least one Studio Ghibli film (My Neighbor Totoro and Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind)
-Watch at least three foreign films (Amour, The Turin Horse, Throne of Blood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai)
Areas for Improvement:
-At least one silent film
-At least one martial arts film
Best of Class: Les Miserables
Teacher’s Pet: Island of Lost Souls
Failing Students: None!
As always, thanks for reading!