12.31.2011

The Miscellaneousness of December

Wow. The year is almost up. As usual, I am nowhere near giving you a Top Ten List.... hopefully you don't have to wait until May to get it...but you'll probably have to wait until at least March sadly. I'm pretty excited to put this year to bed to be honest. I know I still have a lot of movies left to see, but so far there hasn't been a movie that's blown me away like there were in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. There's been a lot of good ones for sure that I will gladly put on the list...but I'm not sure I've seen any "whoa..." movies yet.

In the meantime, I can at the very least give you another brief recap of films I've watched this month. I've been able to go to the theater a lot more during the holidays and see a few winter blockbusters (and one dud). We'll break it up by Holiday classics, Theater watches and then the lone rental.

HOLIDAY CLASSICS

Well....I didn't have the same devotion for holiday films like I did Halloween ones back in October...but I did watch a few.

Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer & Santa Clause is Coming to TownThese little holiday gems are just so silly and adorable. I love its cheesiness...the movies constantly (though perhaps unintentionally on their part) make me laugh pretty hard with dated/ridiculous comments such as "No. This is man's work." and "I'm a MAN now Tanta." haha! But honestly, they're harmless, fun little family friendly movies featuring songs with catchy melodies. Nothing wrong with that. Definitely movies I plan to show my own... "little ones" one day. But I'll never call them little ones. Not ever. I give these... an 8

Elf. Is this the lone holiday new classic to come out of the last decade? I think so. But it's certainly a delight. This is one of Will Ferrell's best and most likable performances. His childlike innocence in his portrayal really drives the film and it just wouldn't work without it. Elf is a fun holiday movie that still makes me laugh. Definitely one of the movies I try to make an effort to watch during the season. Also, anything with Zooey Deschanel can't be bad right? Oh, wait... Failure to Launch and half of her other filmography still exists...darn. Still love her though! I give this... an 8

Love ActuallyHalf holiday film, half romantic comedy full of a dozen huge celebs...but for me, hits all the right points that an ensemble rom-com should. Miraculously, with all the storylines, the filmmakers were still able to strike a balance and be able to say a lot without spending a ton of time on everyone. There are many scenes in this film that are so well done, that nothing more needs to be said. It also benefits from a cast that can actually take the challenge of less is more. Emma Thompson, in particular, is a standout...she can make you really care about her character with only a handful of scenes. In general, I think the film says a lot of interesting things about the different forms love takes and its effects. Too bad the American copycats Valentines Day and New Years Eve fail to get down the formula Love Actually mastered. I rate this as... 7.7

It's A Wonderful Life. One of the best holiday, and non-holiday films alike of all. I don't think it's possible for this movie not to make me cry. Movies that focus on the good of mankind and our own individual purpose in life fill me with hope and happiness, and each time I watch this movie it definitely happens. Watching it in a modern context though, its flaws (though certainly forgivable) are apparent. The pacing of the film and its length are the most notable. If you have seen it before and are waiting for the outcome of the film...the life of George Bailey feels so long when you're waiting to see the why's of it. There's definitely some things that could have been cut to make it a little more concise. Two more things. I love the chemistry between Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in the telephone scene...but the conclusion of it just seems off...and perhaps too violent for my modern tastes. Finally, it's just too implausible that Mary NEVER would have married and would have become so dowdy. She was gorgeous! Plus if I was George and saw that in the alternate timeline I wouldn't have been depressed about that at all. Hehe. Me? Selfish? Never. But seriously, all that said....this movie is so well-made and just altogether wonderful from start to finish. An American classic and on my list of top films for sure. I'd give it a 9.8

THEATER WATCHES

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I have pretty similar feelings of this one to the first. I love RDJ and Jude Law in their roles, and it is their bro chemistry that makes these films work. I just have a hard time with the plots and structure of the films. This one too could have benefited a lot from some more editing. There's a fine line between clever and convoluted and I feel the screenwriter of these films too often crosses it. You know what would be better than an action star Sherlock Holmes? If you just took one of the books and made THAT into a movie with the same actors. Sherlock Holmes doesn't need all of what the movies give him...less is more. The characters definitely make these movies though...if it weren't for them I'd say to skip them almost entirely. But I'll give it a 6.7.

New Years Eve. Ugh. Just ugh. This is the broke man's (not even just poor man's) Love Actually. Here you DON'T have the actors who are capable of less is more....and yes that is even including Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Halle Berry and Hilary Swank. Some of the storylines had me bored to tears and each time they came on I just said to myself "Whyyyyyy??" It's notable to say the storylines weren't ALL terrible (Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer had some almost charming moments!) But many moments were pretty cringeworthy and cliched (most notably a speech about hope by Hilary Swank in the middle of the film had me gagging.) But the worst....and I mean THE WORST moment had to be the hunky Josh Duhamel looking for his mystery perfect woman all night to find out that it is SPOILER ALERT Sarah Jessica Parker. Are you kidding me?? In what universe is that believable? Yes, I know the man is married to Fergie...but please.... who did SJP buy off for that role? The tacked on message of hope in the new year is all fine and good....but I prefer seeing it in a movie like oh...say When Harry Met Sally where that one scene manages to be better than this whole movie. Can't say that was too hard of a feat though.. I give it a 4/10 and honestly that's kind of generous..

When he found out the film's ending he said "Her?"

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. This movie, was an unexpected (yet expected since I'd seen the glowing reviews) blast. Seriously. It was just so much fun from start to finish. I don't know how memorable it will end up being in the long run, but it had some pretty cool and fun moments. The gadgetry as always remains the coolest thing in these movies and there were some pretty impressive moments in this one. The cast was having fun, and so it was easy to have fun along with them! Simon Pegg really lightened it up and I enjoyed his presence here. This movie probably had equal amounts of action that Sherlock Holmes did, but for some reason I was far more interested in it here...probably due to the way each sequence was paced I think. The slo-mo in the middle of Sherlock's action scenes didn't do it any favors. Here it was so fast paced you were just trying to keep up....rather than finding yourself a little bored. I give this.. a 7.7

THE LONE RENTAL OF THE MONTH

Friends with Benefits. Gotta say, I had ZERO expectations with this movie. So it was a delightful surprise to find that I enjoyed it as much as I did! Sure it's not out to change the rom-com genre, as it carefully abides by the formula....but the difference here is that 1. it's a little more self-aware and less manipulative than the average rom-com and 2. its stars have incredible chemistry. Sometimes all you need is two actors to really sell you on something....and they did...they earned that rom-com ending. I found many blurbs on Rotten Tomatoes that perfectly summed up my thoughts on the matter.


"Yeah, we all know the formula. But when it works and the chemistry is just right, we love seeing exactly what we expect and hope for."

"It is elevated by energetic dialogue, the sexual chemistry between the leads and the fact that the miscommunication that keeps bliss at bay - there's always one in a rom-com, and usually it is annoyingly unbelievable - is plausible."

"Kunis and Timberlake achieve the trickier feat of looking just as happy hanging out as they do sucking face, and when the clich├ęs inevitably come rolling in, they feel earned rather than like a cop-out."

Emily gives it... a 7.9

Well....that oughta do it for 2011. Hopefully I can get that top ten list out there realllll soon. But for now...we'll just have to brace ourselves for the winter movie drought ahead. sigh. But after that slump we've got some good stuff to look forward to! Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-man, The Hobbit, Prometheus. Bring on 2012 (even if it is the end of the world :) )