Movie Report Card: March 2013

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-).

Grades:

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+

Comments:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

24 responses to “Movie Report Card: March 2013

  1. Wow – a whirlwind month in review… good work! I pretty much agree with your views… except I thought that The Master was exceptional (although my least favourite of PTA’s films) and that Les Mis was just too ridiculous to be anything more than well made fun.

    If you’re looking for a martial arts film then I’d recommend last year’s brilliant The Raid… made in Malaysia by a Welshman!

    • Yeah, I guess I didn’t get what was so great about The Master, unfortunately. I could tell it was well-made, but I just didn’t connect. I did connect to Les Mis though. The Raid sounds awesome. I’ll try to see it. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Nice set of reviews. I disagree with you on The Master, which I thought was the best film of 2012, and Les Miserables, which was too over-the-top in my opinion, but I’m glad you loved Amour. Throne of Blood’s not my favorite Kurosawa movie but it’s still great.

    • Yep, Amour was great. Les Mis and The Master seem to be the controversial ones here. I’ve been into samurai films a little bit lately and no one has made samurai films as great as Kurosawa’s. Thanks!

      • I love samurai films as well. The other day I saw a copy of Kurosawa’s Ran and Three Outlaw Samurai at a local video store and now I feel guilty not buying them.

  3. Nice recap! Wow, you saw sooo many movies! I enjoyed Dredd too, despite being way too violent for my taste. Oh, I LOVE In Bruges too, took me a while to finally see it. Still haven’t seen Seven Psychopaths though.

    Btw, I added you to my blogroll. Would love it if you do the same 😀

    • I did see a ton of movies this month, way more than usual actually. Dredd was pretty violent, glad you like it anyway. If you enjoyed In Bruges, then definitely try to see Seven Psychopaths; I’m sure you’ll like it. Sorry about the blogroll, I don’t always remember to add sites. Thanks for adding mine, I’ll add yours right away. 🙂

      • Dredd was extremely violent indeed, I had to cover my eyes quite a bit. But I quite like the story and Urban was bad ass though I wish I could see more of that handsome face, ahah.

        • Haha, I thought the story was pretty good too and Urban was perfect as Dredd. Funny that you mention that his face was covered, I thought it helped a TON. I know it’s part of the character, but the mask plus the performance made me completely forget that it was him.

  4. I wasn’t at the movies much last year so missed The Master. I’ve tended to find PTA’s films overrated, though I should really catch up with it. I definitely agree about Turin Horse, one that I wanted to like a lot more than I did, and which was more interesting to think about afterwards than to actually sit through! Pitch Perfect was one of my favourite films last year, though 😉

    • Yeah, I haven’t seen all of PT Anderson’s movies, but I did think There Will Be Blood was excellent. The Turin Horse sure was thought-provoking, too bad it was so hard to watch. Pitch Perfect just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I didn’t hate it by any means.

  5. I liked Dredd too, shame we won’t be getting a sequel to this one after all. For me it was one of the most entertaining movies of last year.

    • A sequel would have been great, especially considering I wanted the movie to go on longer than it did. It was definitely one of the more entertaining ones for me too.

  6. Hi excellent blog. I really enjoyed Les Miserables-Hugh Jackman really showed there is more to him than just Wolverine. And John Carpenter’s The Thing is just amazing (don’t bother with the remake/prequal though it’s rubbish).

    • Couldn’t agree more about Les Mis. I think Jackman has been on Broadway a few times, so it was great seeing that other side of him. The Thing was so amazing. I haven’t heard many that think that the prequel lives up to it though. I doubt I’ll see it. Thanks for stopping by Lauren!

  7. Wow, you’re an ambitious movie-watcher! Some really good picks here, too. I wish I had the energy to watch half as many…:)

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