I'm well on my way to watching more documentaries this year than last year! I didn't actually go back and count but if I can maintain a 50/50 ratio, even at times above that on the documentary side. This was a great start to the year!
January 1-7, 2012
1) Winnebago Man. Documentary about this man who loses his entire mind on a commercial shoot for Winnebago. It's just as much about the filmmaker who's obsessed with the video. I was instantly exasperated by the Winnebago Man's prolific, over-the-top profanity and the filmmaker's insertion of himself into the story. With the filmmaker's participation in this film, it really should have been called Winnebago Man and Boy or something. For the amount of build-up to finding Winnebago Man, there had to be the ultimate pay-off. I think there was. I also think there are interesting ethical conundrums inherent in this film. (The idea of viral video victims setting the record straight; knowing when you're getting the real person while making a film; establishing your importance or worth in a film as the filmmaker? How could you tell this story without including yourself?) From the way it began, I was actually quite surprised to enjoy this film. But I did! 3.9 stars
2) Micki & Maude. A man finds out his ambitious wife (Ann Reinking from Annie!) and his secret mistress are both pregnant. It's shocking how long this charade went on. SHOCKING! I shook my head throughout but somehow still enjoyed it. 3.7 stars
3) The Opposite of Sex. Christina Ricci stars as a homewrecking trollop who moves in with her brother and seduces his boyfriend. So crazy. Lisa Kudrow has the most awesome and jerky personality! She's the best character! Amusing film and certainly not without twists. Really ridiculous ineffective music. 3.6 stars
4) Letters to Juliet. Amanda Seyfried plays an American girl who finds and answers a decades old letter to Juliet (improbable, I know but if you saw how it happened, you'd be even more skeptical). When her response leads to meeting the original letter's author, she joins the woman and her grandson on the search for a long lost love. It started off rather interesting and had interesting moments throughout but silly, unnecessary things kept happening to remove some of that interest. 3.2 stars
5) Gimme Shelter. The Maysles direct this Rolling Stones concert film that accidentally captures footage of a murder in progress. Pretty amazing documentary. It captures the freewheeling, frenzied and chaotic atmosphere of the concert before and during the murder. I feel like I could watch this dozens of times and still see something new every time. It certainly doesn't hurt that the music was great, too. 4 stars
6) The Other Woman. Wow. Natalie Portman stars as a woman who wins the affection of the one she loves only to find out that affection comes with a lot of baggage. The movie is so much deeper than that description but the ambiguity in the explanation is what makes the unveiling more powerful. I had never expected to feel a sympathy or affection for 'the other woman' but I most definitely did. Really beautiful film. 5 stars
7) Picture Me. A filmmaker follows his girlfriend on her rise to model superstardom. While it was interesting to hear some things from models, if you've been keeping up with stories in fashion, for the most part, it didn't break any new ground. The insecurity was disconcertingly bizarre. It was also pretty creepy how old these girls looked. A 16-year-old could easily pass for a 25-year-old. Even 30.
8) Love and Other Drugs. Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway star as a drug rep and his early-onset Parkinsons-suffering sleep around buddy who go through all sorts of ups and downs together as they try to figure out life. Mostly amusing but harmless. Remember Vonda Shepard of Ally McBeal fame? Someone reprised her constant moans over music and under dialogue throughout this film to annoying heights. 3 stars