Tag Archive | 8.0

113- The Avengers [8.0]

Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.

Despite an occasionally weak first act, The Avengers is a success in spite of all odds. For everything that could have gone wrong with a picture of this nature, Joss Whedon and company handle the source material with equal parts weight and humor. Hats off to ILM and Weta for creating the most realist hulking green monster yet put on screen in collaboration with Mark Ruffalo.

106- Grandma Lo-Fi [8.0]

At the tender age of 70 she started recording and releasing her own music straight from the living room. 7 years later she had 59 albums to her name with more than 600 songs – an eccentric myriad of catchy compositions mixing in her pets, found toys, kitchen percussions and Casio keyboards.

Grandma Lo-Fi is an inspiring, if not occasionally sad view of a woman who found her passion at a later age. Sigrídur Níelsdóttir’s was a rather funny old lady who had a knack for lo-fi recording. Her joy of finding interesting sounds that replicated things such as birds chirping or airplanes flying by is rather infectious. I was amazed that in a truncated period of time, she seemed to have gone through a variety of music phases (whereas most make those progressions over the course of years). Her fear of playing live is fairly tragic, as it impeded her from continuing on with her music career. The obvious thing to take away from Grandma Lo-Fi is that it’s never too late to find the thing you love, but I was more taken aback at the thought of being potentially more creative than I am now when I’m a shriveled, old man.

(I wrestled with posting vs. not posting a review as Grandma Lo-Fi is only 62 minutes long, but between all the different definitions of what makes a feature film and the fact that I can do whatever I want with this blog, I decided to go for it.)

91- Catch-22 [8.0]

Haunted by the death of a young gunner, all-too-sane Capt. Yossarian wants out of the rest of his WW II bombing missions, but publicity-obsessed commander Colonel Cathcart and his yes man, Colonel Korn, keep raising the number of missions that Yossarian and his comrades are required to fly.

It’s quite the gargantuan task to adapt Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 into a somewhat sensical narrative, and Mike Nichols succeeds. The sheer insanity of war, the men who seek to profit from it, and the toll taken on a young man’s mind by deadly combat all get explored in this occasionally humorous, but mostly sad film.

Anchored by Alan Arkin’s manic performance as Yossarian, Catch-22 has a big tonal shift in the sobering third act, but it largely works. Though not my favorite cinematic example of war satire (that honor would belong to Dr. Strangelove), I’d like to revisit this adaptation again in the future.

43- Micmacs [8.0]

A man and his friends come up with an intricate and original plan to destroy two big weapons manufacturers.

There is no one with a visual style like Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The director of Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children, and Amélie makes films that are a treat for the eyes, and Micmacs is no exception. Couple that with an absurdly clever script, Micmacs is the kind of fantasy revenge story that will have you smiling throughout the movie. The cast of oddities with their own individual special talents are a delight to watch, and so long as you can tolerate a bit of silliness, you’ll find yourself having a great time with Micmacs.

30- Dogtooth [8.0]

Three teenagers are confined to an isolated country estate that could very well be on another planet. The trio spend their days listening to endless homemade tapes that teach them a whole new vocabulary. Any word that comes from beyond their family abode is instantly assigned a new meaning.

What were to happen if a father decided to raise his kids as if they were an experiment? The twisted Dogtooth puts a family like that on display, but it doesn’t succumb to simply being exploitation. Sure, there are some fairly graphic and odd scenes, but considering the circumstances these teenagers are put in, it all falls into the realm of some type of possible reality. Dogtooth doesn’t speed along, but you may find yourself engrossed by this fucked up family. By the end, you might even start appreciating your own a bit more.

28- Modern Times [8.0]

A factory worker fed-up with his job and tyrannical boss (who keeps an eye on all his employees via a big-brother TV monitor) meets and falls in love with an orphaned street waif. The two dream of a nice suburban existence but the cops are never far behind, chasing the vagabond couple.

Bookmarked by two phenomenal slapstick sequences, Modern Times displays Charlie Chaplin’s artistic genius. Conceptually, the film is timeless. Paulette Goddard is quite the beauty, and makes for an excellent counterpart to Chaplin’s Tramp. You can watch Modern Times with your parents, your grandparents, or your kids–all ages are likely to enjoy the comedy.

12- 127 Hours [8.0]

A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.

Perhaps I’m a sucker for a movie that features Sigur Ros’ music in its climatic scene (see: The Life Aquatic). Danny Boyle is one of the better filmmakers of his generation, and 127 Hours is an excellent addition to his filmography. James Franco has never been better as he is here. The scene–you know, that scene–is done so tastefully, and is fraught with some tension, that it may make you re-define what you consider horror in cinema.