Review Catch-Up

I feel bad I’ve finally gotten around to seeing some stuff lately and haven’t commented on them yet. Sure, I’m already way behind the curve because things are usually released a bit later here, but whatever. With the Oscars coming up this weekend, seems like a good time to do it.

The Artist

The current front runner for best picture, since it’s sweeping nearly every award show, I had very high hopes. Aside from the occasional curmudgeon here and there I had only heard raves about THE ARTIST.

But, wow, I was incredibly disappointed. And, unlike in many cases, I don’t think I was a victim of hype this time. I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

I mean, really, THE ARTIST? This? This is what everyone is going nuts for? This?

Sure, there’s a slight caveat in that I saw it in German. Since the movie is silent that meant I mostly had to fend for myself when it came to the dialogue cards. I understood enough of them, and their message is made clear by the context and what’s happening, but that may have had an effect. I saw it with Shinyee, who was able to translate for the two or three times I had no idea what it was saying. That and the title cards were so fast I sometimes couldn’t even finish reading them.

Still? What the hell is so special about this. The story? It’s very simple. And not in a cute or interesting way, but a stupid way. And it’s sort of a rehash of other movies that have dabbled in this subject matter before (albeit with dialogue). Why can’t he start making sound movies? It’s not really explained. Is his voice terrible? Can he not really act? Does he just not want to? If so, why not? He just doesn’t, because he likes silent movies. So? He doesn’t show passion for it, just arrogance that it’s the better art form.

And, really, she’s a stalker. It’s creepy.

Not that the movie is terrible. It’s enjoyable enough. It has some fun moments. The two leads are absolutely wonderful to watch, Dujardin in particular. They do a great job.

But best picture? Really?

C

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Chris thought this was the dullest movie he’d ever watch. I wouldn’t go that far, but considering it’s a spy movie about intrigue and backstabbing and espionage and all that, it’s certainly not very tense. At all. It plods along at a pace that’s just shy of boring. And the story isn’t even terribly interesting. We don’t get to know the characters very well, and the big reveal at the end isn’t that big a reveal.

The dialogue was also somewhat frustrating. A lot of obtuse lines and sentences that cut off halfway be-

And why was Gary Oldman nominated for this? You’d be hard pressed to call it bad, but you’d be equally hard pressed to call it Oscar worthy.

C

The Descendants

Of the best picture nominees I’ve seen (7 out of 9 so far, seems War Horse or Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close won’t show in English anytime soon), THE DESCENDANTS has been my favorite.

Sure, it’s bleak and potentially depressing and heavy. But, for a film about death and loss and betrayal, it certainly has some vitality to it. Alexander Payne is so great a giving us flawed yet still likable characters that just have shit dumped on them but pull through it with tenacity and good humor and humanity. A great performance by Clooney as well.

A

Hugo

I think HUGO is the first film I’ve seen where I can safely say the 3D actually enhanced it. Where it’s a downright necessity to see it in 3D. Scorsese plays with the format in such fun and subtle ways. Here it’s actually a tool instead of a gimmick.

Unfortunately, I found a lot of the film to be a bit of a jumble. Themes jump all over the place, scenes and subplots mash together in weird ways and transitions, and the characters all seem a bit shallow and never have enough room to really breath. What drives Hugo more anyways? Is it fixing the automaton and finding closure with his father? Bonding with the girl? Movies? Where did movies come from? They’re never mentioned until halfway through the movie, then they’re suddenly the most important thing and the focus for the rest of it. It’s weird and distracting.

But this doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s still great. The story is jun, no matter how jumbled, and when it starts preaching on the magic of movies you can’t but help be swept away by the magic of it. You spend the last 30 minutes or so on the edge of tears in a way. And the boy who plays Hugo has crazy eyes. I don’t know if they were CGI enhanced or what, but they sure are huge, blue, and emotive. An anime character brought to life.

It didn’t take long for me to think turning HUGO into a Broadway musical was inevitable. Because it would make for a fantastic one. You can practically slot the songs in now.

A-

Moneyball

Sports bore me. So a movie about baseball statistics should in theory be just as boring. Turns out it’s pretty interesting.

Not amazing, mind you, but certainly better than I thought it would be. Brad Pitt actually delivers and Oscar-worthy performance, and the direction is fantastic.

How Jonah Hill got a nomination I will never understand. Because he just sits there, mouth agape, barely saying anything. He adds nothing to the movie as a whole and he could have been replaced with anybody and had the same effect.

B+

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About shrubbo

Coming to you from Los Angeles, California. Movies, life, travel, stuff, movies, and movies.

Posted on February 23, 2012, in Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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