August 23 (MY BIRTHDAY!!)- 29, 2009
480. Miss Evers' Boys. Film based on a true story about the Tuskegee study where more than 400 black men with syphilis were used as guinea pigs. The film was loosely based around a nurse (Alfre Woodard) who was the only person to work with the participants the entire 40 years they were studied and denied medical care. It focused more on her personal life than I would've preferred. I know the filmmakers wanted to put a human face on it but I did not necessarily empathize with her most of the time. After reading more about the history, I feel the film was way too kind to some of the main perpetrators. The pacing felt off-- start and stop at some points. 3.3 stars
481. The Yes Man. Jim Carrey and Zoey Deschanel (love her) in a film about a guy who never does anything but sees the light and becomes a man who says yes to everything. I didn't really believe his conversion but was amused by what happened once he said yes. Some good singing in this movie. I was also inspired to do some of this stuff like go to the airport with Rashan and pick the next outgoing (cheap) flight to wherever, go and figure out the rest later. Hilarious. Cute movie. A little long but still cute. 3.8 stars
482. The Nanny Diaries. Silly ScarJo (Scarlett Johanssen) movie about a woman who graduates from college, can't find a job so she becomes a nanny. The whimsy in this film was unnecessary. I liked the book this was based much more. I usually separate the two if the film is worthy but this doesn't fall into that category. Why would Alicia Keys' character say to a white girl, "My grandmother worked as a domestic so we wouldn't have to." Really? Face. It was also really boring. The pacing was very off. I didn't care about any of the characters. Then it tried to get deep in the end. Foolish. 2.3 stars.
483. Gotham Fish Tales. Documentary is kind of year in the life of a NYC/NJ urban fisherman, It's strange that people fish and throw them back, even the ones that seem up to size. Even stranger is the people who eat them. Even as they're talking about the bodies and seeing the c.ondoms in the river. YUM. Chronology issue when they move from summer to winter abruptly. I lost what order. Around 26 minutes it seemed like the end and there were still about 40 minutes left. I got the feeling this film would've been better as a short. Particularly because there was only sporadic following of specific characters, just a hodge podge. That's not to say the movie was bad, it just could've benefited from being a lot shorter and focusing on fewer issues. You don't need multiple people to say the same thing though out the film. Very non-sensical organization-- doesn't seem topical or chronological or anything else. There was a quote which seemed to sum up why people become urban fisherman that was buried deep at 35 minutes in that could've been more interesting earlier. I really want some CLEAN seafood, though after watching this. 3.2 stars.
484. Last of the Mississippi Jukes. Documentary about exactly what you think it's about. The overview of the history of juke joints for blues became boring because there wasn't really enough archival material to support it. I was very annoyed by the filmmaker's insertion of himself into the interviews and shots. It added nothing. The film seemed to focus around Morgan Freeman's club in Clarksdale then switched directions to focus on the SubwayLounge in Jackson which has since been demolished. Confusing beginning led to the misinterpretation. Too much of the film had nothing to do with the juke joints but was just music, which has a place, but does hearing several whole songs advance the plot? No. If the filmmaker wanted this to be the movie it is-- with lots of music and not much story-- he should've called it something else. It also should have been much shorter than 1hr26m. 2.2 stars
485. The Bridge. Documentary about people who commit suicide by jumping off of the Golden Gate bridge (most popular suicide site) which includes people actually jumping, witnesses and friends and family members of the deceased, and even a jumper who survived. There were some strange segues that didn't make any sense. Scenes that were put there just to move from one part of the story to the next. It was disturbing but mostly not because of the people jumping, but mostly the story of the guy who tried. Started to get redundant and kind of boring toward the end as strange and heartless as it sounds but it was almost gimmicky. This is one of the films for our doc issues class. I thought I might but I don't really have any ethical quandaries about watching this. I don't know that I could've or would've wanted to make this film, but I didn't feel ethically torn. there was some beautiful photography of course as the bridge absolutely lends itself to that. Huge build up to the final jump they showed which worked in some ways but not in others. 3 stars
486. She Done Him Wrong. Completely pointless early Cary Grant movie with Mae West about a popular lounge singer who finds protection from a criminal ex-lover. It wasn't bad, but wasn't good. It was just there. 2.8 stars
487. Shopgirl. Claire Danes stars in this Steve Martin film where she plays a shop girl wooed by two men. Overly whimsical and dramatic music in the first 5 minutes set the wrong tone. Another Jason Schwartzman movie. This has to be a record. 3 in less than a week. And why me? I don't even like him. He seems to not really be weird, just trying to be weird. Steve v. Jason. Who's the spaz? Toss up, right? It's also strange to have Martin's character narrate a story not his own. It implies maybe his character wins. Though either way it's bizarre. About halfway through I really, really stopped caring about either story line. 2.4 stars
488. A Farewell to Arms. Really boring movie about an ambulance man in Italy during WWII who falls in love with a nurse. As their love story unfolded, I cared less and less. 2 stars
489. Black Snake Moan. Very very early obvious reason why people didn't like this movie with Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake and Samuel L. Jackson. CR plays a s.ex addict SLJ tries to save. The opening scene was completely non-sensical and related not at all to the film only to be followed w/a s.ex scene by Ricci & JT (the latter should stick to comedy, by the way). Nearly 2 hours for this film? TORTURE!! I don't understand why CR wasn't allowed to wear clothes more than half of this movie. Ridiculous. There were some interesting enough things to move the film along but so much of it was ridiculously contrived and there were continuity issues, too. Then there was one scene with particularly bad camera work. Use of lightning was so cliche. Ever since Wednesday Adams, CR hasn't been able to get away from the creepy and/or "troubled" roles. Fantastic titular song. Still just 2.4 stars
490. P.S. I Love You. Hilary Swank plays a widow whose husband is sending her letters to help her get over his death. Harry Connick, Jr. is one of th epeople who helps her along. (For the record, he could also help me through any tragedy.) Silly actions with Lisa Kudrow's character. I only watched it because Netflix kept suggesting it. I was surprised to actually like it. Another nice titular song. More than 2 hours is too long for an alternately depressing and amusing movie that you already know the plot thrust of. 3.5 stars
491. Caramel. Lebanese film about a salon in Beirut and the women who work there. Strange song sequence with nothing happening. Some fantastic makeup, particularly on the primary female character. Not terribly interesting but interesting enough to keep me mildly engaged. 3.3 stars
492. Scandalize My Name: Stories from the Blacklist. Documentary about black people blacklisted during McCarthyism. Boring Morgan Freeman intro in that it attempted to be conversational but would have likely been more engaging had it been scripted. He's an excellent actor so he could've made even a scripted piece seem conversational. But this slowed it down considerably. The film needed more action in the pictures and it would've been really nice if there were some moving images earlier to break up the constant stream of sit-down interviews. The filmmakers have some interesting ideas, but they don't necessarily relate to the topic of blacklisting. I loved the topic and was interested in everything those included had to say, but the presentation left something lacking which was very disappointing. 2.8 stars