Movie Report Card: June 2013

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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.

Grades:

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-

Comments:

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.

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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.

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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:

Children of Men
Les Miserables
Cloud Atlas
Man of Steel
Watchmen
Into the Wild

Best of Class: In the Mood For Love
Teacher’s Pet: World War Z
Failing Students: none

36 responses to “Movie Report Card: June 2013

  1. Strong list of movies mate. I really wanted to see Much Ado About Nothing but couldn’t find anywhere showing it unfortunately. Oh and I’ll give some more love to Shutter Island seeing as others are too 🙂 Even though I did see the twist coming within the first 20 minutes or so.

    • If you’re open to a black and white Shakespearean rom-com, then Much Ado is surprisingly good. I had lots of fun with it even without being a huge fan of Shakespeare. More Shutter Island praise is definitely always welcome. Can’t say that I also saw that twist coming though. 🙂 Thanks!

  2. In the Mood for Love… I love that film but haven’t seen it for years. Glad you liked it too, it really is gorgeous in ever way. I need to re-watch it.

    But I can’t join in the Shutter Island love I’m afraid! – it looks stunning and he’s nailed the mood – but the whole thing was just too ridiculous for me. Win some, lose some, eh?!

    • In the Mood for Love was great. It’s one of those films that one just soaks up. The music, the slow-mo, and the visuals really blend seamlessly and it’s beautiful to watch.

      Too bad you don’t agree about Shutter Island. I really love that flick, but oh well… 🙂

  3. I don’t know when (if ever) I’ll revisit Zero Dark Thirty. I agree with you, the characters needed much more attention. The actual raid sequence is incredible. But there’s a whole lot of nothing leading up to it.

    • I still like the movie quite a bit overall, but it sure is a very cold, semi-dull film, so I think we’re on the same page. It does ignore any character development and you’re right about the raid sequence, it is the definitely the highlight.

        • Very true. I also liked The Hurt Locker better. I wonder how the fact that ZDT is based on a true story effected the weak character development. I’m sure they felt obliged to pay more attention to the story than the characters for that reason.

          • I agree. That could be a reason. I know that Jessica Chastain’s character was an amalgam of a few different real-life people. I think some of them were under deep cover or something. But given that she was a fictionalized version of them, I feel like they could have offered something in the way of character development.

  4. Some really good movies there. Just a couple of things:

    The Impossible – I completely see where you’re coming from but I got to say I love that film. The criticism about it focusing on this one family was a prevalent one but honestly I never got it. To me that’s an entirely different movie than this one. I just couldn’t penalize this one for something I didn’t think it did wrong.

    Anatolia – It’s definitely a procedural and it had me for a while. But I felt it began to spin its wheels and the ending just wasn’t that satisfying for me.

    World War Z – YESSSSSSSSS!!!

    Great post and a fun read!

    • I understand that it isn’t really much of a criticism about focusing on one family. After all, it is THEIR story, so it makes perfect sense that it should focus on them. For whatever reason though, that story didn’t justify an entire movie for me. It is an incredible true story (and I hope this doesn’t sound heartless), but I thought it was presented in such a simple and ordinary way that it was really dull and even predictable. That’s why I thought it would have helped if they had widened the film’s scope a little.

      I definitely agree about Anatolia’s ending. I was hoping for something more, but also, I feel that there was a reason for it to end on such a quiet note.

      We WWZ fans need to stick together. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post, dude!

  5. Glad you liked Shutter Island as much as I did. Very Hitchcock for me and I liked Scorsese’s direction. One of the better Leo films of late. also agree with you on Zero Dark Thirty. Despite the topic, I was bored throughout. I still want to see MAAN if I can find a copy! I love watching Shakespeare adaptations. Great post!

    • Shutter Island is VERY Hitchcockian! Another reason I love it. Zero Dark Thirty is definitely not easy to watch, especially the second time around. You should see Much Ado! Against all odds, it’s actually one of my favorite movies of the year so far!

  6. Shutter Island is wonderful. I consider it a favorite. Have you read the novel it’s based on? I read it last summer for a “Book vs. Film” post on my blog and it was just as great.

      • If you do get around to reading it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in comparison with the film! I finished it in a single afternoon. Dennis Lehane is a very engaging writer, great at injecting a heavy dose of suspense into his stories. I thought the film stayed pretty true to the book, but there are just enough differences to keep it exciting even if you’ve seen the film 300 times already haha.

  7. I agree with what you said about The Impossible, I just feel bad saying it hahaha. It was emotional, but like you, It just wasn’t a rewarding experience for me either.

    Tom Holland was really impressive in it though.

  8. Awesome roundup Garrett! I haven’t seen The Impossible but you touched upon something I dread …”…narrow in its scope, especially considering that it hardly ever touches on the struggle of the natives who were also devastated by the disaster.” As I’m from Indonesia which was hugely affected by the tsunami, the disaster hits too close to home for me, so I don’t know if I could handle that film.

    Boy, I REALLY want to see In The Mood for Love. We almost watched that for a Girls Movie Night but ended up choosing something else. I wish we had seen that one instead.

    • Yeah, I can’t exactly recommend The Impossible, especially if you’re already hesitant. I suppose the movie is well-made in some aspects, but I really didn’t care for it at all.

      On the other hand, In the Mood for Love is fantastic! I absolutely loved it. Definitely see it the first chance that you get, it’s truly a masterpiece. Thanks!

  9. Nice Garrett. Lots of good films here, and lots that I agree with. With all of the praise and comments here about Shutter Island, I think i really need to get my hands on that. If Scorsese directed, how bad can it possibly be??

    • Exactly! Definitely check it out. It’s a really good film, and it obviously comes highly recommended from many others as well. 🙂 Thanks!

  10. Looks like you got some great stuff there. I’ve been meaning to see In The Mood For Love for quite some as well as Once Upon A Time in Anatolia.

  11. In the Mood for Love was best of the class? Man, I’ve had that film in my collection forever yet I’ve never watched it. I must do that. Nice work Garrett.

    • Yes, you really should! It’s a wonderful movie. Without a doubt, my favorite new-to-me film that I watched last month. Thanks!

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