Friday, February 25, 2011

Rapid Fire Reviews (#33-37) which all five of these movies were new to me...

I've decided to tack on a new stipulation for my version of GentlemanBeggar's 200 movies in a year challenge. Since the rate of movies is no problem (I'm ahead of the curve despite being lazy in my watching), I've decided to require that at least half of these movies be those that I've never seen. Now, this may seem like an easy task, but I'm like a 6 year old when it comes to film; I have a small set of movies that I love to watch over and over, sometimes until the DVD catches fire (I've worn out a copy of Dune that way). If you're interested, the current ratio is 20 new out of 37 total, or 54% for those maths-minded.

Okay, let's get started.

#33. Contact
            Source: Netflix Instant - Whim
            Released: 1997
            MPAA Rating: PG
            Running Time: 150 min
            My Rating: 3.5/5
            Comments: Based on Carl Sagan’s novel, Contact follows a radio astronomer (Jody Foster) as she intercepts an alien broadcast. It’s interesting to see the difference in responses between the religious right, the government agencies, and the scientists as they all attempt to make sense of the broadcast. The film’s climax is really imaginative and visually beautiful. The slow buildup and deliberate, though often meandering, plot makes for a interesting watch, but at 150 minutes, it’s a bit too long. If you enjoy seeing science portrayed in a generally honest and realistic way, it’s worth the watch.

            Source: Netflix Instant - Whim
            Released: 2009
            MPAA Rating: NR
            Running Time: 83 min
            My Rating: 4/5
            Comments: This strange mix of documentary filmmaking and improv comedy gives information and insight on the long running double act of TJ Jagodowksi and David Pasquesi. The documentary portion of the film shows what goes on inside the minds of these two performers, and for the last half of the film, we get to see them in action. It’s a funny and insightful look at an often overlooked type of live comedy.

            Source: Netflix Instant - Queue
            Released: 1985
            MPAA Rating: PG-13
            Running Time: 89 min
            My Rating: 2/5
            Comments: Most of my thoughts on the movie have been covered by my review here. I can say that this film is fairly typical, given the genre, but seriously lacking in entertainment value. There are many scenes in which you will laugh at the lack of acting talent, low budget, and boring fights, but that’s usually not what you want in a movie. In the end, the movie doesn’t have much to redeem it.

            Source: Netflix Instant - Whim
            Released: 2005
            MPAA Rating: PG-13
            Running Time: 131
            My Rating: 1/5
            Comments: This obnoxiously pretentious documentary on the current state of winemaking has aspirations of artfulness, but the execution of an ADD afflicted 12 year old. The constant shaky, poor quality,  and unfocused cinematography too often takes the focus off of the individual being interviewed and onto minutia in the periphery, I guess to try an add a sense of atmosphere. The sound is poorly recorded and the musical choices are odd at best. Most importantly, the point of the documentary was muddled by meandering interviews, poorly made points, and the shaky visuals and sound. I love wine, but hated this film.

#37. Final
            Source: Netflix Instant - Random
            Released: 2001
            MPAA Rating: R
            Running Time: 111 min
            My Rating: 4.5/5
            Comments: I really enjoyed this film. Dennis Leary—well, his character, Bill—wakes up in a mental hospital with a tenuous grasp on his memories and reality. His confused journey, told mostly in flashbacks and dialogues with his doctor, tell a very complex and non-linear story in an interesting way. Critics will claim that this movie is too slowly paced, but I happen to love them that way. It tells as much of the story through silence and visual cues as it does in dialogue. The film was shot simply, sometimes producing grainy shots, but I’m able to overlook the blemishes in this case. It’s a great story with a lot of hidden meanings and content below its surface. It’s definitely worth watching. (Also, there’s an unexpected cameo from comedian Jim Gaffigan, surprisingly playing a straight, non-comedic role)

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