Apparently it’s already spring, not that the weather agrees with that or anything. Because as we all know, winter is coming. But while it may still feel like winter, the calendar doesn’t stop for anyone, not even the movie marathon. And I’ve been here chugging along through another 90 films since my last recap post. I’m really in the home stretch now as I’m on the last quarter. That means three months left and just 90 more films to go.
I already have some big plans for the next few months. April will be primarily comedy month in honor of April Fool’s Day but will feature a brief (one week) Hayao Miyazaki chain early on. Going into May there will be a Star Trek retrospective as I watch all eleven of the Trek films leading up to the new Star Trek Into Darkness release on May 17. Afterwards, I’ll be getting back into more comedy to round out the last few weeks. June, which is the last month in the marathon, is unplanned as of now, but I’m going to try and hit some of the biggest films remaining on my lengthy list.
I’m still going back and forth on what I’ll be doing after the year is up. For now I think I’ll still continue, but in a reduced capacity. In other words, the marathon will continue, but instead of a film per day commitment, it’ll be more of a film per week type deal. Things still need to be decided and I need to get through these last three months first. As always, I continue to appreciate your support for without you lovely reader, my site would have no purpose (or porpoise - ask my Ethics professor). I love to hear what you have to say and if you have any suggestions for upcoming films to watch, send it my way.
Now to recap the last three months which featured Oscar month, romance and animation chains, and a sweeping leftover month going back through the entire marathon.
The incredibly large and epic visuals combined with an equally elaborate story is enough to shock and amaze you. With Lawrence of Arabia however, I don’t feel that same draw to where I could easily watch it over and over again at any moment. I’d gladly watch the film again, and will at some point in the future, but that eagerness won’t be there. With just under a four-hour runtime, it really doesn’t fit the “spur-of-the-moment” classification of many other five star films. But when you have time, it’s really worth watching and is a landmark of cinema history.
Even after all these years, Gandhi still holds up today as a pinnacle of filmmaking in every respect. The story, which is based off of real events that took place in Gandhi’s life, is well told. High marks are also awarded to the visuals department, even surpassing some of the epic shots seen in Lawrence of Arabia. Both story and visuals combine to make one of the most educational, emotional, and entertaining films you’ll ever see.
Gladiator is a great example of a modern day epic. It tells an incredibly large and historic tale, that of Ancient Rome, with an equally important look at the characters behind the tale. There’s a heavy reliance on more modern storytelling tools such as visual effects (compared to real extras) and intense actions scenes (compared to slower character development), but it never detracts from the appeal of the film.
If there’s only one thing to say about Life of Pi it’s that Ang Lee was able to film the “un-filmable novel”. It’s a fantastically wonderful, amazing, and ambitious film. There are a few iffy moments throughout, but once you see the film as a whole, you really appreciate the journey you just took. Deserving of it’s Best Picture nomination, it’s would have been my second choice for the award behind my favorite, and winner, Argo.
Gimmick is a word that people may associate with The Artist. It’s a black and white silent film released in the 21st century; in other words, it sticks out like a sore thumb. But the filmmakers stayed away from gimmick-land and made a great film just like any other; it just happens to look, and sound different. The characters are developed well, the story is well told, and sound or not, you’re still whisked off on an exciting journey.
This is one of those films that grows on you the further in you get. At the beginning I was satisfied with where the film was heading and could tell my overall impression would be a positive one but the ending really took Crazy Stupid Love to that next level. There is still a bit of weirdness to the film but any complaint I have about the story or the characters is mitigated by how everything turns out.
The acting and cinematography (amongst other elements) added to and enhanced the story, but it’s this story, and the twists and turns it has, that is the real highlight of the film. It’s mysterious and confusing but it’s never too overbearing in a way that makes it hard to follow. It’s an adventure that you become highly invested in.
My longest review to date is the one for Mulan because of the addendum I wrote to supplement my original review. After much controversy and introspection, my initial highly positive review morphed into an even more positive review. The bottom line, or the point I eventually reached, is that the characters, the story, the style, the animation, the music - all of it is beautifully done. It doesn’t really matter if I can’t go back fifteen years and experience the glory for the first time all over again. Mulan was good then and it is still good now.
In a word, this film is fantastic. The characters are relatable, intelligent, and well-rounded and drove the film above and beyond. My favorite characters are actually the main characters, especially Hiccup who seemed like a real live-action character (personality-wise). But where it stands apart and brings the film from just a great one to an extraordinary film. It’s a moving story with a father-son conflict, and more importantly, a story about a boy trying to prove himself by doing something that is against the norm. All of this adds up to a great animated film.
This film receives full marks not just for it’s originality and unique twists on storytelling, but for being able to take such a crazy idea like this and make it work so well. The bizarreness and style never goes to far to be unbelievable; it’s at the perfect level to provide entertainment as well as keep you questioning things. The writer, Charlie Kaufman, is quite audacious for writing a film about writing a film. But the thing is Adaptation. is more than that. The meta-ness is just the style; what the film is really about is flowers - or is it? And this is what makes it so interesting to watch.
Within the first minute I found myself laughing. After the next two minutes passed I found myself dead silent. Terms of Endearment plays a lot with this balanced between light-hearted comedy and a serious drama about issues like marriage, child-raising, and life-threatening illnesses. For most of the film this back and forth made the developing situations in Emma’s (Debra Winger) and Aurora’s (Shirley MacLaine) lives seem fragmented, but by the end, none of that mattered. I just cared for these characters so much the story resolved it’s own problems.
Sometimes the best part of a film can be the acting. Sometimes the acting can be the only good thing about the film and everything else is subpar. With My Left Foot, the acting and the rest of the film are one and the same - it’s all about Christy Brown’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) life. And that is what makes the film so good. Not only do you get a wonderful performance by Day-Lewis, but this performance is the film. It’s not just one separate element that adds up with things like story and dialogue; the acting is the film. Of Day-Lewis’ three Academy Award-winning performances, I think this is his best and his performance really gives you the viewer a reason to watch and a reason to invest your time in this film.
Everything about Wreck-It Ralph is fantastic; from the animation to the story, characters, and most importantly, the world they inhabit. From beginning to end your introduced to, learn about, and care for a whole new universe that we’ve never seen before - and that’s something very difficult to do. It’s so good in fact that it should have won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature over the actual winner Brave. Of the few animated films I saw last year, Wreck-It Ralph was the best.
This is a fantastic film all around. It’s well-produced but more importantly for the viewer, it has a compelling and intriguing story. I usually find mystery films quite fascinating and this film is a great example of that. Mystery plays a large role but it’s also equal parts thriller and regular drama - something for everyone to enjoy but also not vague or bland to make it boring.
Every once in a while, there’s a film that really strikes you for some odd reason. Conventionally it would be considered one of the best films ever made - it’s more genre fare; overproduced template garbage that has big names attached to it. But despite this less than positive description, I can’t help but like the film - it was the perfect amount of action and drama unraveled over the right about of time in the right way.
Not only is this a well made film technically, but it deals with such an important event in United States history with such care and precision. It doesn’t try to pass a certain viewpoint of 9/11, promote a political agenda, or just be for pure entertainment purposes (à la a Transformers film made to see explosions and action). Instead it earns it’s place atop must-see lists because of it’s realism and ability to recreate what happened, as it happened to people at that time.
Best Comedy: Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Best Drama: United 93
Best Classic: Gandhi
Best New Release: Life of Pi