Movies you've seen recently

I’d like this thread to contain peoples’ opinions about films they’ve seen recently - either because they liked them and wish to recommend them to others or because they didn’t like them and wish to warn others to avoid them.

I’d like to start this list off with a wonderful film called “The Grand Budapest Hotel”.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

This film rated 8.2 on IMDB. That is an extremely high rating and I enjoyed it very much. But I’ve only watched it once and I formed the very strong opinion this film deserves to be watched several times.

In trying to describe this film, I have a real problem. I have no idea how to describe it. It would seem to be part History lesson, part Comedy, part Thought Piece. IMDB describes it as a Comedy. But it is really so much more than that.

The sets and photography is quite possibly the most lush and most beautiful I’ve seen in a very long time. It easily rivals films like Dr. Zhivago or Marisa Berenson or Lawrence of Arabia. But there is a lot more to it than just the physical beauty. The cast is full of very famous actors. But I only recognized one of them. That is a tribute to the costumes.

I’m sorry that I’m not doing a very good job of describing this movie. But from the moment the film begins, until it ends, I found myself just riveted in my seat. I couldn’t have gotten up and left - even if I wanted to.

Oh, Hell! I guess I just want to suggest that you give this film a try. Just watch the first ten minutes or so and if you don’t find yourself mesmerised by that, I’ll be very surprised.

Anyway, I loved it and hope that you will too. A truly great cast:

Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson
and more.

P.S. Edward Norton may well be my most favorite actor of them all.

Human Trafficking (2005)

I recently saw this film and found it to be extremely enjoyable. It was also very “gripping”. It stars Mira Sovino and Donald Sutherland. Sutherland is more of a supporting actor But, be that as it may, IMHO, they both did a top notch job.

Seems to me that many people don’t like Mira Sorvino. But I have always found her to be an excellent actor. She did a great job in “Mighty Aphrodite”, even thought it was kind of a silly movie. IMO, she held that film together n spite of some other actors who put in a very poor performance.

Here is the IMDB link:

This movie was rated 7.7 which is unusually high for most any film. I would have given it around 7.1. But it was still a really good film.

If you try it, I think you’ll like it!

New out is The Two Faces of January with Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen and Llewyn Davis.

Set in Greece in 1962, crimes and cons and such.

Very Hitchcockian. Right down to the music. Basically a 3 character movie. Fairly good, but you have to like that style of things.

Dunst in particular is quite good. She really ups her game. Does a very good job of not being herself.

(Unfortunately, too many blurbs of the movie spoil it. Including IMDb’s.)

Recently watched Chef and Side Effects (2013). Both reasonably good.

The most recent movie I went to see was Sex Tape.

(Looks at the films other people are watching.)

Okay, I’ll quietly leave the thread now.

I watched an indie movie called Blue Ruin a few days ago and I loved it. The story isn’t anything new: a man seeks vengeance for the murder of his parents.

What’s great is the hero. Pale, weak, and trembling, he has no business being in an action/suspense movie. And he isn’t particularly intelligent, fumbling repeatedly in his mission.

If you don’t care about the guy, you’ll probably find the movie slow and boring. But I watched it with my jaw open, fixed to the edge of my seat.

Most recent movie I saw in theaters was Guardians of the Galaxy. Saw it once when it came out, then again with my son when he got back from basic training. Both times in Imax 3D. I liked it even better the second time around. The soundtrack just ties the movie together with a bow and Chris Pratt is perfect.

Okay, took the 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 year old grandsons to see the Boxtrolls. Both the boys loved the movie and actually watched the entire thing. I thought they did a good job on the movie too.

It was a few months ago but: Snowpiercer.

Best line of the movie was when the wit sitting in front of me blurted out, “It’s Brazilmeets Polar Express!” He didn’t mean it as a compliment.

Watched Obvious Child last night. Started off slow then turned into a pretty decent movie. Several "Hey, it’s that guy (or woman)!"s. Like, you know, that guy, who was in the last part of The Office, who, you know, did stuff.

Could really sympathize with the struggles of semi-standup comic. (Got a relative who’s doing that.)

David Cross (who I can’t stand) had a limited role and didn’t screw up the movie.

OTOH, I was dreading seeing Gaby Hoffmann in it given how unlikeable her character is in Girls. But played it quite differently. Who knew she could act?

One character mentioned a life event she had in college in the 60s when she would have been waaay too young. Someone needed to do the Math.

Big Ass Spider is a lot better than you might expect. The loose performance of Greg Grunberg works so well for it, he makes it worth watching. It may be a stupid low-budget monster movie, but it’s the best one I’ve seen in a long time.

I also liked Cuban Fury, a sweet romantic comedy with Nick Frost and Rashida Jones. Formulaic maybe, but that’s an inescapable fact of the genre.

Watched Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy on Friday - I enjoyed it, my wife liked it until the end third.

It’s an art movie with surrealist trappings, not a SciFi action movie, despite appearances. This is why I enjoyed it and people who harp on about the “people only use 10% of the brain” thing didn’t.

Another movie I saw recently was Byzantium, the 2012 Neil Jordan vampire film with Soirse Ronan, Gemma Arteton and Johnny Lee Miller - lovely, moody, that Soirse Ronan is shaping up to be a great actress (I had an idea after Hannah, and I quite liked her in The Host too) - and Gemma Arteton is a lot more than just a Bond/St Trinians Girl.

Watched Hell the other day. I thought the plot premise was good, but the movie quickly fell into the usual apocalypse movie tropes. It’s a German film and I watched a dubbed version, which wasn’t too bad. The visuals were pretty good as well.

Although there’s one glaring, obvious plot hole:

Why didn’t they just travel at night?

I really loved the Grand Budapest movie too, Charlie. It is hard to describe it, but it’s just a terrific film.

I watched this one awhile back:

This is This Must Be the Place with Sean Penn. It’s a very odd movie, but I actually enjoyed it even if I didn’t completely understand it.

I despise Wes Anderson’s style of filmmaking, and yet I found Grand Budapest Hotel to be tolerable. I’ll even say I enjoyed most of it. Given how much I can’t stand his style, that is high praise indeed.

Saw The Congress about a month ago. A bizarre, fascinating movie that isn’t done justice by its trailer. Based on a Stanislaw Lem novel, the movie follows Robin Wright, playing a version of herself, who sells her digital image in perpetuity, having to give up acting forever. The trailer makes it seem like the film is about a search for her son… and parts of it are, but much of it is not. The description in the third sentence makes it seem a commentary about digitization and who owns the rights to your image… and parts of it are, but much of it is not.

It’s kind of hard to say what this movie was about, but regardless, I recommend it highly.

I’ve seen lots of good movies lately. Would recommend all of these, in descending order of pretentiousness:

The Holy Mountain: Such levels of surreal imagery it makes Eraserhead look straight forward. Not for prudes or the squeamish. It’s about a bunch of weirdos seeking immortality by ascending to a higher plane of self awareness and leaving behind everything that weighs your soul down. Lots of religious and mystical overtones. The mindscrew train proudly derails, crashes into an orphanage and explodes in a shower of LSD. Favorite scenes include:

  • the Spanish conquest of Mexico reenacted with frogs and lizards, complete with tiny costumes and weapons. So cute and oh my god the blood, why?
  • “Rub your clitoris against the mountain!”
  • A woman pleasing a giant robot vagina with the mother of all dildos.
  • The sanctum of 1,000 testicles.
  • The “fight” with the Alchemist. Every Alchemist speech is a Zen/10.
  • “To save the economy we must eliminate four million citizens in the next four years.” Sounds like something from Dr. Strangelove.
  • Fascist soldiers shooting protestors, birds flying from the wounds.

I kinda sorta feel like the ending is an eye rolling copout, but I don’t know what else it could do. And the audience did purge itself of all illusions, no false advertising there.

Synecdoche, New York: Probably the best film on this list. A surreal, densely symbolic piece that focuses on the purpose of life, art, and death. Philip Seymour Hoffman is awesome as usual. About a playwright trying to craft his magus opus while his life falls apart. Extremely depressing. Challenging to watch due to the subject matter and out of control recursive meta commentary. It was fun reading people’s interpretations of it; would definitely benefit from a second viewing. Lost me a bit when he subsumed his personality into the maid. The minister’s rant was the best sermon ever. Perfect ending.

All Quiet on the Western Front: I put off watching this for a long time because I thought a '30s movie of the book would be too sanitized and hokey. I was wrong. Some great battle sequences where people are mowed down like grass.

The best scenes are away from the trenches when Paul tries to rejoin society and explain his experiences to an ignorant, jingoistic society. That’s when he realizes how fucked he really is. I also like when the soldiers get together and try to figure out why the war is happening – a mix of subversive rhetoric and nationalism (the damned French started it!).

Kubrick’s Paths of Glory is a better commentary on humanity, but this is a better WWI movie…if that makes sense.

Under the Skin: Weakest movie on this list. It’s about a woman who’s actually an alien who seduces men, lures them back to her house, and kills them. Besides a rich bounty of full frontal Scarlett Johansson this offers arresting cinematography and a melancholic atmosphere and score. It’s slow paced with little dialogue, but didn’t feel boring to me (many disagree though). It didn’t do a whole lot story wise unfortunately. It’s just missing something to make it really great. That skin collapsing scene though…

Dear Zachary: A definitive “soul test” movie. Guaranteed to make you either incredibly angry, depressed, or both. Will stick with you for several days. Don’t watch it right before the weekend or bedtime. It’s a documentary about…well, it’s hard to say without spoiling the effect. It starts with the murder of the filmmaker’s best friend by a sociopathic girlfriend. But it turns out the best friend impregnated the girlfriend with the titular Zachary. The film is ostensibly about recording stories from far flung family members so the son can know his dad. But then it gets worse.

Chicken Run: Stop motion family fun animation. Formulaic to the core, but executed flawlessly. Tons of charm, or maybe it’s the accents. Basically The Great Escape except with farmers and chickens. Prison camp cliches are up ended by a ditzy, mostly female cast. Some meat is murder/feminist themes, but never explicit. Great soundtrack. Snappy slapstick, surprisingly quotable, love to hate them villains.

“My life flashed before me eyes! It was really boring.”

[Rec]: Spanish horror. Best found footage movie I’ve ever seen. That might not be saying much though since I find most of them stupid or dull (e.g. Paranormal Inactivity). Works well because everyone is trapped inside a cramped building. Pseudo-zombie movie, more like the rage virus. Avoid if you can’t stand women screaming at the top of their lungs. The main characters are dumb and refuse to fight back with weapons. Worth it for the last 20 minutes.

Killer Klowns from Outerspace: Saw it as a kid, had to see it again. If you like shlocky B-movies you’re probably familiar with this. Every klown scene is solid platinum. Love all their wacky gadgets and the makeup effects are impressive. But the mandatory human drama scenes weigh the whole thing down – you know, when the klowns aren’t turning people into cotton candy cocoons so they can drink their blood with silly straws. The ventriloquist scene was actually a little creepy. The short clown was adorable, would hug before being murdered. The theme song is a super catchy remix of the classic Entrance Of The Gladiators.

“Fuck you! Over.”

Sharknado 1 + 2: Millions of years of human evolution have led to these two masterpieces. A single tear rolls down my cheek. Such majesty.

I tried to watch Grand Budapest, but I couldn’t get into it. To be fair, I was pretty tired, so that might have had a lot to do with it. Someday I may attempt it again.

Last month, I saw The Notebook - only 10 years after it was released… It was very predictable and a bit corny, but still a sweet movie. I loves me some James Garner, so that may have colored my perception a bit.

Yesterday I watched Frozen which was very enjoyable and I teared up once or twice. After that I watched a 1947 British film Green for Danger starring Alastair Sim. Different movies, but both very entertaining. Next weekend I will go the actual theater to see Gone Girl.

Oh, that reminds me, I saw Safe Haven (same author) on telly the other night. I actually enjoyed it - like you said, that one was also predictable and corny, but sweet. Although … I didn’t see the “twist” at the end coming.

Saw Grand Budapest Hotel a few months back and loved it.

Just saw Gone Girl and thought it was a great adaptation of the Gillian Flynn book - perfect mix of director, cast, screenplay (also by Flynn), cinematography and score.

Saw Rush, Ron Howard’s based-on-a-true-story movie about duelling race-car drivers in the 1970s, and it was all right. Didn’t blow me away, though.

Likewise Margin Call, a Wall Street drama with an all-star cast. Reviews were gushing; I thought it wasn’t all that.

She’s also quite good in Atonement.