5/25/09

Movie reviews in brief

Although I haven't been posting much lately, I have still (of course) been watching movies! Instead of doing individual posts for every movie I've seen recently, I thought it might be fun to share some brief thoughts on the films I've been watching.

Two classics are first:

Modern Times

Another one from my mostly seen movies list. Some familiar gags (Charlie getting fed by one machine and caught in the cogs of another) were still quite amusing on re-watching. But my favorite part was a bit I had never seen before, with Charlie as a dancing and singing waiter. Watching as he pulled himself around by the seat of his pants had me laughing so hard I was crying. Chaplin is great. And Paulette Goddard is just so cute!

5/5 wings



As a side point, watching this movie made me realize why it's so hard for me to get into silent movies. Since I love to multi-task, I often put a movie on in the background while I'm doing other things. This works great for revisiting favorite classics where I know what's going on, but silent movies demand more of my attention, so I watch them less frequently. Modern Times reminded me why I should spend more time on movies without dialogue.


Kitty Foyle

The film (particularly the dialogue) does feel a bit dated, but it's worth watching if only to see Ginger Rogers in her strong, Oscar-winning performance. Kitty Foyle is a white-collar girl (the costumes reflect a very literal interpretation of this) facing an important decision: to marry one man or run away with an old flame.

The conclusion to the central dilemma of the story, which man Kitty will end up with, is not really a shocker, but it's an emotional journey nonetheless. I only wish there were more options out there for the heroine. Wyn is fun, rich, romantic, and a coward. Mark is steady, stable, thrifty, and (let's be honest here) rather dull. Are there really no other men in Kitty's acquaintance? In the movies, there is no middle-ground. The choices are love, passion & heartbreak vs. friendship, stability, & boredom. I think Kitty should have held out for door three.

(I'm tempted to give it 3 wings, but I'm weighting it higher as a classic and for Ginger.)

4/5 wings



Now for two new-ish movies:

Chicken Little

Fun family movie that drags a bit toward the end. The very cute Chicken Little really needed a cuter voice. But the vocal stylings of Joan Cusack and Steve Zahn were quite delightful. And Fish Out of Water was just too cool.

3/5 wings



The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

What I liked: The aging effects, the man with the backwards clock, the guy who got struck by lightning, and very little else.

The comparisons to Forrest Gump are justified. And while I'm no big fan of that movie, I think I did like it a bit better than Benjamin Button.

If you take away the gimmick of a man aging backwards and the few interesting things that arise from this, you are left with a very mundane tale. Whether you like it or not then may depend on the strength of the love story between Benjamin and Daisy. While I did sympathize with Benjamin, particularly at the beginning of the movie with his earnest innocence shining through the body of an old man, I personally did not care for Daisy at all (and didn't get why Benjamin did).

What is the message of this meandering movie? That even if your life seems disjointed, it's OK. Maybe you were just born to live a disjointed life. The idea that life is only about what is thrown at you and not what you make of it is not a theory I subscribe to, sorry.

(Would be 1 wing for story alone, but for Pitt's performance and for the effects I'll add on one more wing.)

2/5 wings



Now, a movie I actually saw in the theater! (It's been a while.)

Star Trek

Well, there's definitely things to nit-pick if you want to. Stuff I didn't like: the uninteresting bad dude, what they did to the Romulans (tattooed heads, now?) and a plot that was a bit weak if you thought about it too much (though all time-travel stories seem to unravel if you think hard about them).

But the movie was more about reintroducing the characters and giving their stories a spin, and I thought that was done well. (Although I've never been a huge fan of the original Star Trek, I prefer TNG & DS9, so they could have changed things really dramatically and I wouldn't have minded or maybe even noticed.) It was visually cool and super entertaining. And I think it found a good balance between pleasing Trekkies and finding a new audience (and setting up for some sequels).

A couple leaving the theater just ahead of my group did not agree. Old enough to have been fans of the show when it was first on TV, they did not seem to appreciate the changes at all. The wife was particularly distressed about what had been done to Spock's mother. The husband's complaints were more about movies in general, how the world is so bad that people just want flashier entertainment to distract them. You know, he's got a point there.

(The movie's not perfect, but for sheer entertainment value it gets 4 wings from me.)

4/5 wings



By the way, if you are wondering what happened to the Vulcan James Dean, I retired him so he wouldn't be in your face every time you loaded the page here. But if you want, you can Trek Yourself. It's fun to do with actors and famous movie lines!

8 comments:

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

Glad to have you back!

Wendymoon said...

Thanks! This is definitely a catch-up post.

Lolita said...

Great idea! Very entertaining. (And great for people who read many blogs, like me!)

David Bishop said...

I like the brief reviews, but don't let them keep you from exploring films in depth. I'm still wanting to see more of your compare/contrast posts.

I didn't like Modern Times as much as some of the other Little Tramp movies. I think I rank City Lights, The Gold Rush, and The Kid as my all time favorites.

I think I agree with you about Benjamin Button. I wasn't able to articulate to people why I didn't like the movie, but now I think your thoughts will definitely help. I do think the special effects were spectacular. In fact, I think they invented a whole new system for capturing the performance from Brad Pitt and digitally recreating it for the film. If nothing else, the movie gave us a fantastic new artistic tool.

Eric said...

You matched my sentiments EXACTLY for both Benjamin Button and Star Trek. Cheers to you for a job well done.

Wendymoon said...

Glad to hear from others who felt the same way I did about some of these movies.

Modern Times may not be the best Chaplin, but laughing until I cry happens so infrequently to me I had to rate it highly. :-)

Re: Star Trek, more things make sense if you read the prequel comic: http://www.amazon.com/Star-Trek-Countdown-J-Abrams/dp/1600104207

(Not that I think you should have to read outside stuff to understand a movie plot. But it was pretty cool and provides a TNG character fix as well.)

Don't worry, more in-depth stuff is in the works...

Rupert Alistair said...

Hooray for Paulette Goddard!! Seems she was always underrated but Chaplin would have no part of her if she didn't have SOMETHING!

Kitty Foyle is great too. Ginger proved she could act as well as dance....like we didn't already know that ;)

Rupert

Audrey said...

I felt rather similar about Kitty Foyle...both men seemed rather lousy and I wasn't invested enough in her relationships with either of them. I actually prefer Ginger's performance in Primrose Path, which I believe was made the same year. But that's just me. :)

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