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a bunch of stuff I’ve watched recently and didn’t write about

Posted by martinteller on January 23, 2016

I’ve slowed down in my movie consumption, and slowed down even more with writing about them. So here’s a quick and dirty brain dump of the films I’ve seen in the past few months that didn’t get reviewed:

Ex Machina – Premise felt both clever and too familiar. It had some engaging Kubrickian style, but my interest waned a bit as it went on. Rating: Good (78)

It Follows – Disappointing throwback with a lot of nonsense. The kind of movie that makes you go “Why don’t they just…?” and that’s annoying. Mildly scary. Rating: Fair (62)

The Dark Matter of Love – A documentary of special interest to me and Carrie, because we’ve been tossing around the idea of adoption/fostering. Obviously it can be a rewarding experience, but there are right ways and wrong ways, and this shows some of the wrong. Interesting story, but I’d like to see a broader perspective. Rating: Good (77)

The ‘Burbs (rewatch) – Showed this to Carrie, I think it might have been on Halloween. It didn’t hold up quite as well as I’d hoped (Carrie rightfully accused the plot of getting tiresome), but there’s some pretty funny bits in it. Lots of quotables. Rick Ducommin is so great. Rating: Good (75)

Spooky Buddies – Hoo boy. We briefly developed a masochistic taste for these Air Bud spinoffs featuring 6 golden retriever puppies getting into wacky adventures. Most of the cuteness factor is annihilated by the paper-thin characters, awful jokes, and overall cheapness. Somehow we made it all the way through this one, maybe because it was Halloween or maybe because of the novelty of seeing Harland Williams in it. I rated this a lot lower at first, but in retrospect it wasn’t that horrible. Still… not good. Rating: Poor (44)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – Well, certainly if you care, you’ve seen it already and know what kind of problems it has. The series has always been spotty, but this was definitely the weakest and least enjoyable. Rating: Fair (61)

The Martian – It has some moments and the production is very convincing, but the dialogue and story are both full of clichés (how many times did we hear some variation of “we ran the numbers”?). There’s no real tension as Damon instantly “sciences the shit” his way out of pretty much every obstacle. Rating: Poor (57)

Pitch Perfect 2 – In the music biz, they call this the Sophomore Slump. While it doesn’t exactly copy the first movie, there’s nothing that fresh here. I’m struggling to remember any of the funny bits… or any of the songs. Rating: Fair (65)

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – Sure, you could nitpick the shit of it like a giant nerd, or you could take a chill pill and enjoy one of more entertaining big-budget-blowouts in recent memory. I just had a lot of fun at this movie, and I enjoy most of the new characters. Is it a retread? Sure, in a way, but I think the franchise needed a return to its roots. Looking forward to seeing where this goes next. Rating: Very Good (87)

Anne of Green Gables – Carrie shared one of her childhood favorites with me. I never read the book and knew little about the story, but I found it pretty enjoyable. Great performances by Dewhurst and Fansworth. And a lovely, bucolic atmosphere. Some minor complaints, but I’ve forgotten most of them. Rating: Good (74)

India’s Daughter – Yeah, this is super fucked-up and will make you cry and make you angry. While the film seems to be singling India out and wagging a finger, it reminds us at the end that other countries (including the US) have a long long way to go in how we handle rape. Rating: Very Good (86)

Singin’ in the Rain (rewatch) – Carrie had never seen it, it was time. Pleased to say it went over very well. The “Broadway Medley” part bothers me less and less each time. It didn’t feel as long as I remembered it. I could still do without it, but that “crazy veil” portion is really something. I also wish there was a little more Debbie Reynolds in it, she’s not nearly as prominent as I thought she was. But at least we get a generous serving of Jean Hagen, who is frickin’ hilarious. Rating: Great (94)

World of Tomorrow – Don Hertzfeldt’s latest popped up on Netflix, so I took the opportunity to check it out (even though I could have easily done so earlier). His best work? I’m still fond of Billy’s Balloon but it’s been a long time, I’d have to reevaluate it. It’s definitely witty, clever, original and moving. He’s approaching the sort of hopeful sadness that I love in Vonnegut… this feels like a very Vonnegut kind of movie. Rating: Very Good (87)

It’s Such a Beautiful Day – I also took the opportunity to finally see this other Hertzfeldt. This hit a lot of similar notes, but with a more personalized touch. The first part I didn’t think was that great, but it gets better as it goes on. Rating: Very Good (85)

Exporting Raymond – I don’t think I’ve ever watched more than 3 minutes of “I Love Raymond”, but I heard show creator Phil Rosenthal on a podcast and he was so delightful that I wanted to check out his documentary about trying to adapt the show for a Russian audience. Lots of interesting bits here, from the ex-military chauffeur who enjoys studying seashells, to the obstinate costume designer who insists that a busy housewife dress in haute couture. Would like to see a little more probing about the roots of the cultural differences, but an enjoyable watch. Rating: Very Good (80)

Approaching the Elephant – Documentary in the “fly on the wall” Frederick Wiseman/Allan King style about some young starry-eyed folks trying to start up a Free School in New Jersey. A thought-provoking look at good intentions gone wrong… or right, depending on your opinion. There are a few moments of triumph, but for the most part, to me it looked like barely-contained chaos… and a lot of disfiguring accidents just waiting to happen. At times the adults become children when trying to treat the children like adults. Rating: Good (77)

Xiao Kang – This isn’t a movie, it’s a trailer for the Vienna Film Festival. But it’s by Ming-liang Tsai, so of course I was gonna watch it. It’s a minute or so of Kang-sheng Lee poking around in a forest. I love Lee and I love Tsai, but let’s be honest… whether I’m rating this as a short film or as a trailer, it doesn’t do much for me. Rating: Poor (48)

2 Responses to “a bunch of stuff I’ve watched recently and didn’t write about”

  1. Anonymous said

    Have you seen Fury road yet? If not, I seriously urge you. As someone who doesn’t care much for action films from the past 20 or so years, this was a rejuvenating experience. It’s the only action film that ever made me want to shout FUCK YEAH in a movie theatre. It honestly felt more like Keaton’s The General than an action film.

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