The Movie Report Card is a monthly series of posts in which I share 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-). If I happen to watch a film twice during the month, the title will appear twice in the “Grades” section. I will provide a separate rating for each viewing.
–Les Miserables (Hooper) A-
–The Great Dictator (Chaplin) A-
–Children of Men (Cuaron) A
–Dark City (Proyas) A-
–Days of Heaven (Malick) A-
–Lincoln (Spielberg) A-
–Cloud Atlas (Wachowski) C+
–The Impossible (Bayona) C+
–Gone Baby Gone (Affleck) B+
–Man of Steel (Snyder) B
–The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan) B+
–Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Columbus) C+
–Watchmen (Snyder) B+
–Side Effects (Soderbergh) B
–300 (Snyder) C
–World War Z (Forster) B+
–Man of Steel (Snyder) B-
–In the Mood For Love (Wong) A
–The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Fincher) A
–Shutter Island (Scorsese) A
–In the Mood For Love (Wong) A
–Monsters University (Scanlon) B-
–Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow) A-
–Much Ado About Nothing (Whedon) A-
–Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (Ceylan) A-
The Impossible was well-made, but I didn’t connect. It just wasn’t a rewarding (or even interesting) experience for me. I found it dull and predictable and narrow in its scope, especially considering that it hardly ever touches on the struggle of the natives who were also devastated by the disaster.
The first hour of Gone Baby Gone has all the makings of an average crime film. However, the second half was surprisingly good, and the third act adds a few plot twists while transforming the mediocre crime fare into a challenging morality play.
Despite the fact that it looks impressive and the performances are solid, Side Effects was good, not great. Soderbergh has made far better films, though this one isn’t even close to being one of his worst.
I watched In the Mood For Love twice, not only because I had some questions that needed answering, but also because it was an absolutely gorgeous movie. Among other things, the film makes great use of slow motion and the music was incredible.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia was a thought-provoking and well-shot Turkish police procedural. I was especially surprised how quick the time went considering the lengthy runtime and the relatively slow pacing. No doubt, this was due to the complexity of the characters, the vivid acting, and the wonderful dialogue.
What I saw in theaters:
World War Z was one of the best times I’ve had in theaters this year. Even though it was fairly conventional, I thought it was a solid summer blockbuster. After all of the film’s production problems and multiple re-writes, I don’t know why any one would be expecting anything more.
Monsters University was good, but I didn’t feel like the film took full advantage of all of its potential. While it’s a welcome return to form for Pixar, the story doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises.
Much Ado About Nothing was an ingenious Shakespeare adaptation. I found it quite refreshing and surprisingly easy to follow. It was very impressive how Whedon & Co. adapted the material into this delicious black-and-white movie.
I revisited quite a few films during June:
Chaplin’s The Great Dictator probably isn’t the director’s best, but has some hilarious, classic scenes.
Dark City is an absolute must-see for any fan of science fiction. I’ve seen it at least four times now.
Malick’s Days of Heaven was the focus of the newest feature, The Art of Image. It’s still a stunningly gorgeous movie.
The hipster in me wants to hate Lincoln. I grew to dislike it and claimed that it was overrated during awards season, but I tried to watch it with an open mind this time around, and I appreciated it much more.
I liked The Dark Knight Rises slightly less than I did the two times that I saw it in theaters last summer. There are a few holes, but as far as epic superhero films go, it’s still one of the best.
At first watch, I thought 300 was awesome. The second time, I thought it was amusing. After a third watch, I’m not sure if I’ll ever watch it again. There’s really no depth at all in the characters. It’s an unashamedly dumb movie, but I can certainly understand why so many people enjoy it. In my opinion, Snyder is still one of the best in Hollywood at generating amazing action sequences.
David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a tragic and moving work. It’s easy to dismiss it as ‘Forrest Gump backwards’, but Gump is obsessed with weaving its character’s life into historical events where as Button stays focused on a much more personal note. Don’t get me wrong, I love Forrest Gump. I just think that Fincher’s film better evokes the inescapable tragedy, and simultaneous beauty, that accompanies the continuous passing of time.
Shutter Island seems to get dismissed by many as a minor Scorsese work, but I’m not so sure…
Zero Dark Thirty was a difficult film to watch a second time. I still believe that it’s technically brilliant and an overall excellent movie, but there’s really little depth and development to the characters.
What I wrote reviews of:
Best of Class: In the Mood For Love
Teacher’s Pet: World War Z
Failing Students: none