Sunday, July 29, 2007

2007: A Mid-Year Update

I've been busy this weekend, so I haven't had much of an opportunity to put a new entry up tonight, and I haven't given much thought about what film I'd like to write about next, so I figured I would just put a brief blurb up about what I've seen from 2007. Nothing too in-depth, just a quick thought on each...

After The Wedding (Efter Brylluppet)
This was the fifth and final foreign-language Oscar nominee, and it was okay, though I would have preferred to see Volver or Ten Canoes make the cut over this, Water, or Days of Glory. It just got a little soap opera-ish for my liking.

Avenue Montaigne (Fauteuils d'Orchestre)
This was a nice French romantic comedy. Cecile de France softens up a bit, and she has an undeniably charming screen presence. Saw this at a film festival last November, and I can't say I remember it all that well now, but it was cute.

Away From Her
Sarah Polley's directorial debut was a strong one, and while I can't call it a flat-out masterpiece, it was a valiant effort and one helluva starting place. A couple of moments rang a little false for me having dealt with Alzheimer's in my family, but overall a wonderfully acted, well-intentioned film that showcases a lot of depth and maturity from Polley.

Boy Culture
This was the closing night film at the Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival last year, and quite frankly, after having sit through so many movies over the course of that week (I was on the jury, so I kind of had to be there), I just didn't give a damn. It was going to take a great movie to keep me interested at that point, and this wasn't the movie to do that. Nothing special

I think this is one that was largely misunderstood by the public. If you're attuned to the black comedy, you'll finds a lot more enjoyment out of this than you will if you look at it as a straight up horror flick, which I think Lion's Gate foolishly marketed it as. Can't say that I found it entirely successful, but far better than the public consensus would seem to imply.

The Host (Gwoemul)
I know a lot of people loved this and found it groundbreaking and wonderful, but I didn't. Just seemed like your run-of-the-mill monster flick to me. And while it was often lauded for incorporating a family drama in the middle of it, that didn't seem like a new concept to me. Mildly entertaining, but nothing more.

Hot Fuzz
I loved Shaun of the Dead, the filmmakers' previous film, and I love their sense of humor. But I think this one suffers a bit since it doesn't come close to the predecessor's freshness, and a lot of the same gags seemed to be at play. I still enjoyed it a lot though. Just didn't love it.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
By no means a great movie, but not nearly the offensive pile of trash I anticipated. Saw it at a critics' screening for free, and I think I liked it more than I should have based on my abysmal expectations going into it.

Knocked Up
An enjoyable romantic comedy, which is equally as enjoyable as Apatow's previous flick, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Smart and enjoyable.

A Mighty Heart
Wonderfully acted account of the Daniel Pearl kidnapping and murder. I think Jolie did a great job and finally reigned it the wild-child persona she seems to bring to most roles, and Michael Winterbottom did a great job here as well.

Absolutely fell in love with this one. Sweet, wonderful, and concise. Reminded me a bit of Lost in Translation and Before Sunrise, but in no way a knock off of those films. And the soundtrack is addictive.

Paris Je T'aime
Interesting project, featuring 16 six-minute shorts, each directed by someone different. Some stories are wonderful, some fall flat, but overall a very worthwhile film.

Reno 911: Miami
I like the TV show for all it's ridiculousness. I guess it just taps into my sense of humor. Just like the show, it's hit or miss, but there are some very funny parts, and I enjoyed it.

Rescue Dawn
Damn, I hated this one. Overacted to the extreme by Christian Bale and Jeremy Davies, some fatal script problems, and nothing that hasn't been done by Chuck Norris in the Missing in Action series. Love Herzog, but not this time out. Steve Zahn is the film's only saving grace.

Another strong documentary from Michael Moore. His approach isn't always to my liking, but he certainly knows how to make a compelling argument. One of the few filmmakers that makes me feel grateful for pissing me off.

The Simpsons Movie
I loved the show while at its creative peak, it sort of stumbled a few seasons back, and I fell out of the habit of watching it, but this was pretty amusing. The chief problem I had is that with so many memorable side characters to work from, I wish they'd have used them to better effect. For me, they, not The Simpson family, made the show as funny as it was. here, very few of them figure into the film in any significant way. But it's funny and entertaining.

Talk To Me
Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Taraji P. Henson are all pretty great here. And while I think she struggles in the second half of this film with some things, I think Kasi Lemmons is a very gifted director. And I have to applaud her for making films, like this and 1997's Eve's Bayou, that don't appeal to the lowest common denominator, especially when I think the black community is largely underserved with intelligent films aimed at that demographic.

Ten Canoes
Absolutely wonderful and unique film, the first film shot in Aboriginal language. Just well made in every regard, entertaining and well worth your time.

Charming as hell and Keri Russell does a great job carrying the film. It's tragic that director/writer/co-star Adrienne Shelley was murdered before the film's release and never got to enjoy the accolades the film has garnered, but I doubt she could ask for a better reception to end her career on.

Year of the Dog
While I started out liking this one a great deal, it descends into stupidity in the second half, which kind of killed what came before it. Disappointment.

You Kill Me
Entertaining story, Ben Kingsley and Tea Leoni are quite good with humor, and while I wouldn't rush out to see it, it's definitely one worth adding to your Netflix queue.

A mixed bag here. The story of the Zodiac Killer is far more interesting than what comes across on screen, in Fincher's overlong but well-made police procedural.

12:08 East of Bucharest
The first half is rather aimless, but it comes together well in the second half. Not enough to totally redeem it, but enough for me to have enjoyed it.

28 Weeks Later
I think the first one is the best horror movie to come out this decade, and while this doesn't touch the original, it's actually not half bad for a summer sequel. The allegory and the action aren't quite as involving this time out, but you can do far worse. And I'd see this again any day over any of that ridiculous "torture porn" genre.

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