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Mar 8, 2011

Seriously Overdue Movie Reviews - 2010 Catch-up, Part III

Winter's Bone
Chilling meth-flavored noir. Expertly filmed and acted; feels so real it'll scare you away from the hills of Arkansas (because you know you wanted to go there real bad beforehand). Jennifer Lawrence will stow away her beauty in a duffel bag and John Hawkes will bring memories of Dennis Hopper to mind.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"It's in the hole!"
Reality:
"It's in the hole!"
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs


Restrepo
Doesn't so much straddle the political line as ignores politics altogether, being one of those documentaries that, you know, merely documents its subjects and lets them do the talking rather than talking for/over them. All the same, it's deconstruction of what the US is doing in
Afghanistan will still boil your blood, regardless of your political affiliation. The soldiers' lives and the taxpayers' money might be getting wasted, but neither your time nor money will be watching this.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"Darn tootin."
Reality:
"Darn tootin."
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs


The American
It's not an insult to the film, but it's greatest asset is the juxtaposition between its title - and the inherent de- and connotations that come from being labeled "American" - and the telling of this simple story, which couldn't be much further from being American unless it were in Italian. Clooney attempts to turn down his charisma merely by not smiling, and it works save for the fact that it looks like doing so literally pains him. Shot by a photographer, it's the most beautiful story about a hit man I can recall seeing, with pleasures of the eye in many forms abound.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"Darn tootin."
Reality:
"It's in the hole!"
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs


Let Me In
No, it's not the abomination we feared. And no, for the last time, it's not better than the original, and I'll thank you for ceasing to spread that lie.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."
Reality:
"Darn tootin."
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs


Buried
A better experiment than a film. It's interesting to watch the elements of the story continue to throw obstacles at Ryan Reynolds for him to sneak his way out of, but by the time the end rolls around, you can't escape the fact that it's more gimmick than anything else, despite having the advantage of unpredictability (kind of) over its thematic sibling from 2011, 127 Hours.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."
Reality:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I
I know that their are plenty of people out there (for example, Nick) who read the books (like Nick) and think that these last two films have been amongst the best of the series (like Nick). Well, I can't help but wonder how many people are out there like me (like me) who didn't read the books (like me) and feel as though this series has been more or less running in place since the end of Order of the Phoenix (like me).

Bring on the finale.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"It's in the hole!"
Reality:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs


The Town
I imagine the Heat comparisons wouldn't come flying so frequently had the word "heat" not been used 3,872 times during the course of The Town. No matter; there are few worse films to be compared to. The Town is neither the Best Picture contender that it almost was nor a mere knockoff, though - it's tight filmmaking with a number of intense action scenes and more than a couple memorable characters (Pete Postlethwaite would and should have nabbed a Best Supporting Actor nom had his character had a bit more depth; still, his villain was amongst the best in recent years). On the not-so-bright side, everything plays out according to Hoyle, and Jon Hamm is given a non-character to work with. As usual, Rebecca Hall is terrific and is likely the forgotten X factor to yet another film.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"Darn tootin."
Reality:
"It's in the hole!"
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs


TRON: Legacy
Will history repeat itself? Will the legacy of Legacy be that it, too, is destined to find a larger audience on video (which is a weird as hell question to ask about a movie that's made nearly half a billion worldwide)?

It would seem so, or at least it would seem as though that's where it will be appreciated a bit more. To be sure, TRON: Legacy has issues in spades: Garrett Hedlund could use a few more charisma points, the deageifying of Bridges can't quite cross the digital uncanny valley, Michael Sheen's character is just a shade bit too much, etc. But it's story, while of the stock drop-and-rescue variety, is still compelling, and Bridges is captivating in all forms, however creepy and/or Dude-like they may be. Oh, and the soundtrack kicks ass.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"It's in the hole!"
Reality:
"Darn tootin."
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs


127 Hours
Danny Boyle on cruise control - and I mean that as a compliment, since Boyle has been traveling at around 80 mph over the last few years. I was shocked and disappointed that he didn't earn a Best Director nod.

That said, is it possible for a director to constantly dash from one genre to another and yet consistently make the same film? Dare I say, as much as I enjoyed 127 Hours, Boyle's trademark may just be a bit too strong these days - varied as they may be, the effervescent energy he brings is always there like a brand on a cow, so much that it's become a shade too familiar. I'm really trying not to complain about a guy that makes quality film after quality film, but I wouldn't complain if he were to take a Red State-like left turn every now and then tonally.

Oh, and I know he got a nom, but somehow I still don't think James Franco got his due. He probably wasn't the first person that people thought of for a movie in which the lead would be the sole character on screen for 85% of it, but the guy wailed on this movie, spanning an impressive array of emotions and never once leaving the audience bored, even though we were all sitting there for 80 minutes waiting for a certain scene to finally happen.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Expectation:
"It's in the hole!"
Reality:
"It's in the hole!"
LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie Blogs


25 people have chosen wisely: on "Seriously Overdue Movie Reviews - 2010 Catch-up, Part III"

Jess said...

I liked 127 Hours so much more than I expected and you're right, I spent most of the movie waiting for "the scene". Now I really wan to see it again.

Castor said...

Correction: Restrepo is set in Afghanistan, not Iraq ;)

I enjoyed Buried a little more than you but I agree, the concept is really stretched to the breaking point even with a great central performance and some nifty filmmaker tricks.

Fletch said...

Castor - D'oh! Brain fart - thanks.

I wanted to like Buried more, but after a while, I was just like, "C'mon, get on with it already. Enough with the snakes and all this bullshit."

Jess - I'm not so sure that 127 Hours will be much more than a single viewing film for me, good as it is. Perhaps the type that I revisit once a decade or so.

Rachel said...

Wow, that's quite a bit of film to take in at once, and I've actually seen most of them for a change.

I'm surprised how much 127 Hours stuck with me long after leaving the theater, so much so that I gladly went back two weeks later to see it with Brad (haven't had repeat theater viewings of anything in a long time), then bought it on BluRay 2 weeks after that. I'm struggling through the book right now, but was so mesmerized by the story and Franco that I may just quit the book (too technical) and watch the movie again so soon. It easily knocked HP7 out of my Top 5 of 2010. And I agree about Boyle's non-nom for directing. I'd take out Russell and Hooper for Boyle and Nolan inclusion any day.

Another correction: Winter's Bone takes place in Missouri. I think they go down to the Arkansas border once (or talk about it), but the town Ree goes to school in is Forsythe, MO, about an hour or so north of the border. Either way, you don't want to be lost in the hills of MO or AR.

Film Conqueror said...

I really loved 127 Hours too...and I heard the American was just about the worst movie ever.

Fletch said...

Rachel - Yeah, well...that's just how far behind I am on writing reviews. But believe it or not, I'm actually writing one for the last one I saw, and ought to have it done prior to six months from now! Whodathunkit?

The sad thing is I still have one or two more of these to write before I'm caught up (about 10 films total).

You really did take to 127 Hours, didn't ya? I wish there was a 2010 release that I was that passionate about. Inception is closest, but even with that I have reservations.

Eh..Ozarks. State lines is irrelevant in dem dere parts, no? ;)

Film Conqueror - First of all, welcome! Second, great, great name. I should have named myself The Movie Mauler or something like that. You don't just watch films, you destroy them! ;)

The American is one hell of a divisive movie. It's way arthouse, so if that ain't your scene, you're likely to hate it. But I think mostly that a lot of people went in expecting The Bourne Clooney and were pissed when that's not what they got. But it's quality and beautiful filmmaking.

Rachel said...

Eh..Ozarks. State lines is irrelevant in dem dere parts, no? ;)


I know you're joking, but actually, no, b/c Missourians, no matter how similar they are to Arkansans, are still considered Yankees around here. This has been the central point for multiple arguments between my Missourian husband and me.

Univarn said...

I think The American really hit a high resentment factor from those expecting an action-adventure and getting a moody-action-drama. Not nearly as bad as many people make it out to be - but marketed wrong (though it made money so I'm sure they don't care).

You know my thoughts on 127 Hours, my #1 for the year, and I was surprised how strong the Buried > 127 contingent was (many long twitter debates were had). I thought Buried was tense and exciting while it happened, but once the credits rolled and my reflection began I kept finding things not adding up. Especially its many forced 'message' moments (especially the ending).

The Mad Hatter said...

Quite a bit of catch-up you've given us sir! Some of this may seem repetitive, but...

WINTER'S BONE = still tragically underrated and underexposed.

RESTREPO = "My God, they're just kids" (Lady Hatter while watching the dvd).

THE AMERICAN = To paraphrase Depeche Mode, I enjoyed the silence

LET ME IN = Not bad, eh? I think the better/best conversation comes down to which one you watch first.

POTTER = I'm still of the "incomplete" mindset, but plan to rewatch it the day I go see the sequel to get the full effect

THE TOWN = I dig it, but still wish they'd made better use of Fenway

TRON = Pretty lights! Oh wait, there's a plot?

127 HOURS = My thoughts on this are legend by now

(Somewhat co-incidentally the final five make up almost the entire autumn's worth of Matineecasts, with two previous commenters of this posts in amongst the guests *cough*plug*cough*)

The Mad Hatter said...

Quite a bit of catch-up you've given us sir! Some of this may seem repetitive, but...

WINTER'S BONE = still tragically underrated and underexposed.

RESTREPO = "My God, they're just kids" (Lady Hatter while watching the dvd).

THE AMERICAN = To paraphrase Depeche Mode, I enjoyed the silence

LET ME IN = Not bad, eh? I think the better/best conversation comes down to which one you watch first.

POTTER = I'm still of the "incomplete" mindset, but plan to rewatch it the day I go see the sequel to get the full effect

THE TOWN = I dig it, but still wish they'd made better use of Fenway

TRON = Pretty lights! Oh wait, there's a plot?

127 HOURS = My thoughts on this are legend by now

(Somewhat co-incidentally the final five make up almost the entire autumn's worth of Matineecasts, with two previous commenters of this posts in amongst the guests *cough*plug*cough*)

Nick said...

Those (like me) who read the books (like me) are equally varied in opinions just like regular viewers (like you). It's all a matter of taste in story.

Fletch said...

@ Rachel - LOL. There's such hostility still in that part of the country. I love how Missourians (or whatever) call people Hoosiers and it's some big insult. I don't get any of it. If you were to say I was from New Mexico, I wouldn't give a shit. ;)

I thought Missouri was split for the North and the South?

@ Univarn - amen to all of that. The American is the Adventureland of 2010 (God, I love comparing movies that have seemingly nothing in common).

@ Hatter - haha, I just heard that Depeche Mode song the other day. You speak according to a policy of truth (or something).

Not so sure about Let Me In...pretty sure I've heard from a few people (Nick, for example, I think) who saw the original first yet prefer the newer one. It's no contest for me - the only thing that really bugs me is when people say that the American version kid actors were better. I know it's all highly subjective and shit, but it's no contest to me.

RE The Town - yea, I hear ya. I think they did what they could while maintaining a budget. Of course, that was part of the problem - that parking garage could have been anywhere (and probably was).

So you're saying you like that 127 Hours movie, eh?

@ Nick - I know. I lumped you in with 'plenty of people,' but not all of 'em.

Sebastian Gutierrez said...

Stop spreading the lie? I live for nothing else!

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Bonjour! Fletch...
Fletch said,"Chilling meth-flavored noir"` Winter's Bone
Hmmm...I must seek this film out to watch too!
The film Buried...Kind Of, remind me Of a short-film that a fellow blogger,(I think from Movie Zeal) posted (I'am not sure if it was posted here at Blog Cabin or on another blog-site...

...All I can remember is letting out a "gasp" after the man that was buried lit his lighter and there was someone else buried in the box along side him...and a family member, asking me what was wrong?...after I let out the "gasp" after viewing the scene...What a interesting short film...that held my attention too!)

Nice list! Nice Ratings! Interesting Mini Synopsis Of each film...too!
Merci,
DeeDee

Fletch said...

Sebastian - From you, I will allow it. :)

DeeDee - YES YES! I've thought the same thing about Buried ever since I first heard about it. Evan Derrick from the now-defunct MovieZeal made a short film that Buried sure had a lot in common with. The difference is that Evan's film was probably better, though it was only about 15 minutes long. His was twice as intense and very professionally made - I was impressed. I'd share a link but don't have one.

Nick said...

As far as Let Me In/Let The Right One In, I think they're equals. I think there are things better in the remake and some that are better in the original. I don't think one is really better than the other as a whole.

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Fletch, here goes the beginning stages Of the film (Camera and Lightening techniques) I was unable to find the film in its entirety over there on youtube...
...The Short-Film entitled "Tight"

Fletch said,"The difference is that Evan's film was probably better, though it was only about 15 minutes long. His was twice as intense and very professionally made - I was impressed."

Your comment speak volumes...In other words, the people that made "Buried" had twice as much money and time, but yet his short-film "Tight" is probably better than their well-financed film "Buried."

(Well, I'am going to have to assume that his film "Tight" is better since I have not watched "Buried" yet...with yet being the operative word.)

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Fletch...No wonder I was unable to locate the film over there on you-tube...because it was over there on Vimeo...Here it Goes in its entirety...
Tight

Fletch said...

DeeDee - Awesome - great job! And trust me, cheap as I'm sure Buried was to make (relatively speaking), The Box (looks like "Tight" was just the name of the test footage) surely cost the slightest fraction of what Buried cost.

I highly recommend everyone to check out The Box at the Vimeo link up above.

Fletch said...

Nick - I could maybe see that argument if they came out at the same time, but the remake had the advantage of having a template in place already, of which it borrowed from liberally. I mean, I haven't read the book, but I'm under the strong impression that this isn't an alternate adaptation - it's a straight-up remake, including many of the same shots. Point to the original.

Aiden R. said...

Damn, that's a lot of catching up right there and some mighty good ones to boot.

Wasn't crazy about Buried either, glad we're on the same level with that one. Don't quite understand why so many folks went nuts over it.

Jack L said...

I thought Let Me In was better than the original, but I wasn't very impressed by the original...

I also thought Tron Legacy was pretty terrible, the whole universe and concept of the film just seemed stupid.

The Town was pretty good though, not as good as Gone Baby Gone but better than a lot of the crap that came out last year.

I don't think I'll watch The American or Winter's Bone, not my kind of films at all...
I do want to see 127 Hours though.

Nice post Fletch, but don't you ever watch foreign language films? just wondering because it seems your speciality is Hollywood films :)

Fletch said...

@ Aiden - CTAs for life, yo.

@ Jack - I just have to point out what is either an oversight on your part of indication of a short memory. You asked "don't you ever watch foreign language films?," but the first response you made was in response to me comments about Let Me In and, more importantly, Let the Right One In! And last I checked, Swedish is not my native tongue.

;)

And I just got done talking to you about Panique au Village last week or so.

Short story long - yes, I do watch foreign language films. That said, I didn't see too many in theaters last year. Either a result of not enough coming to town or just not enough good ones. I'm also sitting on reviews to be written for all three Millenium trilogy movies.

RE Tron - I can understand that. It's probably not necessary, but an appreciation for the first one probably helps there. But even if the story was kinda gibberish, it was still nice and purty to look at.

RE The Town - exactly. Not GREAT, but solid and enjoyable all the same.

And for what it's worth...The American is practically an Italian film...just in English.

agcrump said...

The Town for me was lifted up by some really great work on Affleck's part keeping the entire film from sagging under the weight of some fat that really should have been trimmed from the picture entirely. Performance, too, helps elevate the movie, along with some really stellar car chases and shoot-outs. I think the movie would have played better for me with one last judicious edit to keep the unnecessary stuff out.

Winter's Bone seems to be the big winner among most of the blogs I read, for good reason of course. Easily one of 2010's best. Hawkes is a beast here; good news for him is that just being nominated at the Oscars pretty much should guarantee he has work for life.

Fletch said...

@ agcrump - I think I wouldn't mind seeing your edited version of The Town...not sure exactly what I would cut, but it doesn't sound like a bad idea.

Yea, Hawkes getting nommed was huge for him. That reminds me - there should be a Best Character Actor Oscar or something, so guys like him and Tobolowsky and J.K. Simmons can get awards. I'd be all over that shit.