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Wednesday, January 04, 2012  

M. Ovie Reviews: Late 2011

Yikes, I'm so far behind on my movie reviews for 2011 it's embarrassing. Now it's not even the year any more. I think I need to just give up on full reviews of the outstanding ones and just do the quick capsule write-ups like I used to do. Otherwise there's no way I'm ever going to catch up. At this point I just hope I can remember them all.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

See? What did I tell you?

Puss in Boots

I was not expecting to like this at all, and I didn't love it, but I have to give it props for the eye-popping action scenes. Even in 2-D it's quite the spectacle, and I enjoyed the Rodrigo y Gabriela music on the soundtrack as well. Not terribly faithful to the source material, however. M. Edium heard about a stage production of the play happening in our area and said he wanted to see it. "You need to know," I told him, "that the play will have absolutely nothing in common with the movie except a cat with boots and a hat." M. Edium asked, "Does he have a sword, too?" And thus I stood corrected.

In Time

Andrew Niccol seems to fancy himself some kind of clever social commentator by virtue of the fact he keeps creating these alternate-universe situations that would never happen. Like anyone would give a shit about The Truman Show unless he hung out with a lot of Real Housewives, or a computer-generated actress like S1mone would be interesting to anyone at all. Now he drops a hamfisted class-warfare allegory about haves and have-nots in which time has replaced currency. You have to use time to buy everything, even as it passes without you doing anything. After reaching age 25, at which point they stop aging, most people have a very limited amount, which ticks down on huge glowing clocks on their arms. Justin Timberlake and his social peers live in grinding poverty with only hours left in their lives at any given time (which seems like it would lead to a lot more tragedy than the fate of his mom, played by Olivia Wilde, which at least puts an end to their creepy sexual chemistry). That is, until a chance meeting with rich centenarian Matt Bomer triggers a chain of events that turns him into a temporal Robin Hood, with Amanda Seyfried in an inexplicable Velma Kelly wig as his partner in crime. And it is SO DUMB. I know my description makes it sound dumb, but it's even dumber. The leads are a lot less Bonnie and Clyde than Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore in Wisdom. The tragedy is that this movie was trying so hard to make a point about economic injustice and just ends up stabbing itself in the foot with it instead. I mean, what happens to Cillian Murphy alone is worth a Razzie.

The Muppets

I took M. Edium to see this the weekend it opened, and then again the next weekend. One goes to Muppets expecting jokes and songs and there are plenty of those, but there was also a lot of nostalgia. The movie takes place in a universe where Muppets live among us, which is hard enough to buy into, but then adds another layer of unlikelihood by making it a world where the Muppets as a pop-culture phenomenon have also been over for decades. As though they haven't been all over YouTube the last couple of years just in preparation for this very movie. From there, the movie seems to set out to deliberately shatter the viewer's suspension of disbelief, from the internal timeline where they mount an entire production in two days to the idea that Jack Black would turn down the chance to be in anything. But M. Edium, who hasn't yet inherited my irritating tendency to pick things apart while watching them, loved it both times. Although I must say he wiggled a lot less the second time.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

You can complain about Guy Ritchie's version of Holmes all you want, but you can no longer go into one of those movies saying it's not what you expected. There's even less mystery per se than there was in the first one, but I'm glad to say there's also less annoying steampunk scenes. I also appreciate how these films don't pretend to be the end-all-be-all of the Holmes canon, instead dropping us into the mythology late into Holmes and Watson's dysfunctional bromance. I also love how Holmes and Mrs. Hudson are shown to harbor an incandescent hatred of one another. RDJ may not exactly match Conan Doyle's description, but you can believe that those big round eyes of his take in everything so effectively that the only way to convey it all to us mere mortals is with all manner of wacky editing tricks. As for Moriarty, the near-omnipotent "Napoleon of crime," I've seen scarier-looking villains behind the counter at the DMV.

Young Adult

It's hard for me to be objective about this movie. As I may have mentioned before, my signature is on an official Certificate of Matrimony with that of Diablo Cody. Yes, we were witnessing the marriage of one of her best friends to one of mine, but still. Unlike that document, she wrote Young Adult without my collaboration, and I have to say the results were positive. It's not a rapid-fire, laff-a-minute screwball comedy like I was half-expecting, but something much darker. Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, a drunk asshole who lives in Minneapolis and refers to it as "The City," and returns to her small hometown to steal her high school boyfriend from the woman he married, not to mention his infant daughter. This is in a way a braver performance than Theron gave in Monster, because in that she was hideous throughout. Here, she looks like a walking "Stars Without Makeup!" section of Us Weekly for much of the movie, with occasional grooming montages showing how she gets herself turned out in full glamour mode for the losers she left behind (including, if we're being totally honest here, the ex-boyfriend). I was also expecting Patton Oswalt to totally steal the movie, because even if he's not conventionally handsome, he's a charismatic and magnetic performer, to the point where I thought he wouldn't be believable as an unpopular geek. But he solves that problem by not acting with his entire face for a lot of his scenes. The ending is very un-Hollywood, in a way that reminds me of the previous Jason Reitman film Up in the Air, in which George Clooney's character doesn't go through an arc so much as a circle, ending up much where he started. Still worth it, though. In fact the more I think about it the more I liked it.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

I keep meaning to read Trash's John Le Carre books and never getting around to it. Decades, now, this has been going on. I figured going to see the movie version of this was as close as I was ever going to get. If you're into watching Gary Oldman overact, this may be the movie for you, as he explores a new way to overact by underacting. It's such an understated, nearly motionless performance that it nearly cries out, "Look at me!" The movie as a whole is pretty understated, in terms of the action and what little shooting there is, but it's greatly overstated in once sense, and that's in the early 1970s d├ęcor, fashion, and hairstyles, many of which are quite distracting. At one point late in the movie, one character makes a reference to how ugly the West has gotten. In 1973, it's impossible not to see his point.

I think I covered everything else earlier in the year, but if anything else comes to me I'll be sure and get back to it, unless I don't. And I still have to review Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, which I saw on New Year's Day, and rank all the movies I saw in 2011. Because I know you're all waiting anxiously for that. Especially the person whose name is on that marriage certificate.

posted by M. Giant 10:49 AM 3 comments

3 Comments:

"...what happens to Cillian Murphy alone is worth a Razzie.": Thank you. "In Time" almost makes "Sunshine" ("Hey, does anyone know how to do the math for a course change? Anyone? Oh, never mind.") seem smart by comparison, and that's quite a feat.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 4, 2012 at 8:29 PM  

Holmes was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Also, I must say the addition of Steven Fry was a delightful and unexpected treat for me! :)

By Blogger notanillusion, at January 5, 2012 at 3:33 PM  

The addition of Stephen Fry always seems that way. Like you'd bite into your Whitman Sampler and think, "Hey, i thought I got the caramel, but it's Stephen Fry! Even better."

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 18, 2012 at 9:38 PM  

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