The Lego Movie

I missed a lot of good movies this year.

Last Saturday night, having had the opportunity to see a movie for the first time in a while, I scanned the web, looking for something good.

I wanted to see 12 Years a Slave — and I will see it – but I had spent a lot of time in my car last week and didn’t feel like driving an hour each way — which is what that would have required.

None of the movies here in Salisbury interested me.

Except… I noticed… The Lego Movie was getting great reviews.

The last time I convinced Alicia to see a movie she didn’t think she would like — with me promising it was supposed to be so good she  would, she didn’t.

It took some talking to get her to go to The Lego Movie. It took something for me to go. I’ve never seen Toy Story, or any animated greats in the past several decades. But we had not been out for a while and she was willing to be a sport about it.

The Lego Movie is a great movie. It’s a lot of fun with lots of quick wit, and we both enjoyed it completely.

Even thought somebody thinks Everything is Awesome is a fascist song, I’m absolutely sure it’s not. And it’s catchy enough, and repeated enough, to ensure you will be singing it on the way out.

Breaking Bad, Enough Said

I just looked up Breaking Bad on Wikipedia.

I heard about it, for the first time, a couple of weeks ago. Somebody asked me if I had seen it and I thought it was a movie, possibly an HBO series.

Since then I’ve seen it on Facebook constantly and on all the news sites.

I know… the series finale was tonight.

I was shocked to see, on Wikipedia, that it started in 2008!

That’s a long time to be completely out of it. Has it been this popular all this time?

Breaking Bad must be *@*&ing good.

I guess that’s what Netflix is for.

I just recently started watching 30 Rock and am making my way through the series on Netflix. Enjoying it very much. I never saw a single episode on regular TV.

I guess this is just to say that I don’t watch much TV anymore. I get hooked during elections and wars — but for me, TV has become a place to get bits of current news. Something to turn on when I take a break for 15 minutes and grab a snack.

For dramatic entertainment, I go online — or to the movies (still my favorite).

Last night, we saw “Enough Said.” It’s odd. Good. Not as good as the reviews say it is. But good. It’s a fun but unsettling film. I enjoyed seeing Julia Louis Dreyfus. Like most people, I was a huge Seinfeld fan. Unlike most people, I haven’t seen her in anything since then.

All the characters in “Enough Said” (except one, the daughter) suffer a certain syndrome that has them making big complaints little things done by people they most love. That may be A LOT LIKE REAL LIFE, but it’s not that dramatic.

In fact, I found the movie a little upsetting. Not because the world doesn’t come back together in the end — but because the bomb that blows it up in the middle needs a slightly better aim and a bit more explosion.

some micro reviews (really micro)

I’ve been in going-to-The Manor-movie-mode lately and have seen some good ones. Here are the micro reviews:

Mud:  Odd story. A bit of suspense and the ending delivers. It works.

Frances Ha: Loved the way it was shot. Very inventive, pleasing sense of place. Cool characters. The premise was a bit weak for my taste. Not enough at stake.

Much Ada About Nothing:  A total treat. Shot in black and white. Beautiful people speaking beautiful language in beautiful surroundings. No big stars. It’s all shot at director Joss Wheden’s house in 12 days — amazing.

Les Mis — go see it

I love musicals and I love this movie. Go see it.

There are lots of reviews, plenty of conversations, tons of buzz. It just opened today — so there’s a lot more of that to come.

But just go. Leave the urge to critique at the door. Leave your head at the door.

Take your heart, a bit of sentimentality, the desire to be flat-out entertained.

Anne Hathaway’s performance of ‘Dreamed a Dream’ drew audible gasps from those sitting around me.

We have such need to analyze movies this good (the casting, the closeness with which it was shot, the incredibly long takes) but why not leave the analysis aside and enjoy it?

I saw the stage production, years ago. It was great — and it cost a lot of money to sit way the heck back and take turns using binoculars to see the actors’ faces. Plus the cost of parking (and possibly a babysitter).

I saw this film on row five and enjoyed an incredibly intimate, moving, musical experience.

It’s spectacular. For less than $10.


’til the season

Just saw two great moves about people overcoming enormous obstacles to create a whole new world (which is what all great movies are)…

What an awesome, inspiring experience, to walk into a dark room, sit for two hours, and witness a vivid tale of the best that the human spirit has to offer.

Now I’m waiting for Les Mis.

The Untouchables (the French one, 2011) my kind of movie

If you Google the movie, “The Untouchables,” you will get lots of links for the Robert De Niro, Kevin Costner film about about Eliot Ness.

But if you Google “The Untouchables French Film 2011,” (or “Intouchables,” the French title) you’ll get to read about the  film staring François Cluzet and Omar Sy — now playing at The Manor in Charlotte.

I didn’t do either one before I went, tonight, and saw it. I had read a couple of blurbs that said it was moving, funny, and the second most successful French film of all time. I had no idea what it was about, and I’m not going to reduce it to that here.

Just know that it’s an exquisite movie — poignant and exhilaratingly funny — about human beings connecting with each other rather than their circumstances.

If you’ve ever doubted the power of context, check out the opening sequence (a car chase) and notice how your view of that scene gets turned inside out later in the film.

That’s all I’m gonna say. It’s a great movie. Not everyday or every year great. Rare great. If you go, you’ll be glad you did. I promise.

P.S. There’s another movie playing at The Manor now that I’ve also seen: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It’s a pure delight and full of great stars, but don’t be detoured; it’s not as powerful as Intouchables.

Movies that make you think (sometimes for the wrong reason)

I saw Inception the first day it was out.  There were very few people in the audience.  Since then, I hear it’s doing really well.  Everybody loves it.

I got really bored and really wanted to leave the theater (but I was there with two other people).

It seems like the kind of film that lets you think you’re thinking, so you can pat yourself on the back for being a real thinker.

It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.  It takes some thinking to put it together.  But if it won’t go together because there’s really no solution and never was — so it takes even more thinking.  This movie didn’t make much sense and I don’t think the filmmaker had the story completely pieced together either.

When I hear the word “film” and the word “think” together, a red flag goes up.  Nobody wants to think during a movie, and we’re not inclined to do it.

The point was to dazzle — and distract us into the details — since the basic story wasn’t compelling.  Sure, the guy desperately wanted to go home and see his kids.  But he wasn’t a real likable guy, and he wasn’t a real sympathetic character — so I didn’t care if he got home or not.

If we had had a scene of him with his kids, early on, letting us know that this was a loving family that needed repair — then I might have cared.  It might have been worth a little effort to figure out how he was going to get there.

But I just saw a bunch of great actors with great, techie action, and lousy, trite dialogue.  And no real desire for them to win.

What I really thought about during Inception was how much longer the movie would last.

I also saw The Kids Are All Right.  Granted, this is a different genre, different budget, different altogether in every way.

Funny funny funny.


Because the story was so simple and clear, I didn’t have to think in order to follow it.  The acting was natural.  They looked natural.  Not a lot of make-up.  Not much glamor.  It was real enough that I was therefore able to think about the meaning of the story:  What constitutes a family?

So I guess my point is that a movie can provoke thought, but only if you don’t have to think in order to understand what’s going on in the first place.

I’d much rather not think about what‘s going on, so my little brain cells are free to think about why it’s going on.

Netflix instant download + Projector = awesome!

So far this year, I’ve been in vacation mode. Much needed.

I’ve continued 10k steps per day. Done yoga each day.

And, I’ve watched three movies.

The Shift
La Vie En Rose
I’ve always gone to movies and theatre on a regular basis.

Thanks to the economic downturn, I think I only went to two movies all last year.

And we canceled our Netflix membership.

And I’ve worked quite a bit.

My entertainment, along with a bit of local theatre, was basic cable — and of course all the stuff online. I’ve spent much of my free time, since that amazing Iowa primary in January of ’08 — watching political squabbles on cable.

But I got inspired the other day, listening to Here and Now on NPR while delivering Coffee News.

Ty Burr shared his list of 10 best films of the decade. I’ve seen a few of them, but there are a lot on the list I want to see. On his website, his list includes 33 of the best films of the decade.

So I rejoined Netflix and filled the queues (the DVD and instant play)

Now, with the instant play feature, it’s awesome. I hooked my laptop to my projector and speakers and voila — movies on the big screen with big sound — and the supply is unlimited.

Will I have to ignore the fascinating political squabbles in order to use that time to watch a few good films?

Not really. It only takes a car radio and few minutes of reading a day — not two hours of repetition on cable — to keep with the news.