Movies 2012: Weeks 2-5

I realized I've documented every film I've watched for more than 3 years. More than 1250 films. I calculated. GOOD GRIEF!! No wonder I'm tired!!! So that's where these movie posts have been. I've still been keeping track but even that extra step of posting them has worn me out! I'll be catching up over the next few Sundays. Thanks for reading and commenting! I do so love our conversations about film!

Week 2: January 8-14, 2012
9) Freakonomics. A documentary of vignettes by famous directors based on a best-selling economics/causality book explaining elements of culture including crime, parenting and cheating. It blew my mind in the first 3 minutes with the most basic concept explained- real estate agent incentives. The second segment made me uncomfortable as it was about names, more specifically, black names. Side eye. Overall, I enjoyed that this film took basic concepts and made them even more basic. You got to see an economist showing his work in a way that could make sense for even the most economically-challenged person. I speak from experience. Have I ever told you economics was one of two classes I ever struggled in? I excelled in AP English I & II, History, Statistics (not Physics) but I couldn't get basic, entry level economic concepts to make sense. This was film was also helped along by a multitude of likable people. There have been complaints that no concept was fully explained. How much could really be explained in six separate stories in one movie? Would you watch a movie that strove to fully explain economics? I wouldn't. 4.4 stars
10) Leon: The Professional. A little girl takes lessons from her friendly neighborhood hitman after a drug lord wipes out her family. Amazing film (editing, directing, cinematography) that would have been even better without the hypersexualization of a pre-teen Natalie Portman. The characters really came alive. 4 stars
11) Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Werner Herzog does another beautifully shot but meandering documentary. This time about the stunning and truly riveting Chavet's Cave in France. Discovered in 1994, the caves were immediately sealed from the public and have only been seen by scientists and artists who will verify their worth. The paintings look fresh but have been carbon dated to 32,000 years old. WHAT!?! SO amazing. But 14 minutes in I couldn't figure out why this film was 90 minutes. The cave was amazing, I liked hearing from people who've studied there for years but at the end, I still didn't know why the film was so long. 2.4 stars
12) Rise of the Planet of the Apes. James Franco and Frieda Pinto star in this prequel to Planet of the Apes. Set in modern San Francisco, testing on apes turns into a revolt against humans. Most of the CGI is very good but I wonder what we'll think in 20 years. Can you imagine how awesome it will be then?? Good plot for the most part. Some things invoked my skepticism but not enough to make this film unwatchable. 3.9 stars

Week 3: January 15-21
13) Animal Kingdom. An Australian thriller about a teenager caught between his criminal family and the police. There were so many awesome and unexpected turns in this film that you couldn't ever completely get a handle on what was going to happen. So cool. A great watch. 4.3 stars
14) The First Grader. An 84-year-old Kenyan man who fought for the country's freedom faces stiff opposition when he tries to enroll in primary school. This film based on a true story was really cute at some points and infuriating or annoying in others. I wonder how much was lost in translation and what are the details of the actual story. 3.6 stars
15) The Ides of March. Ryan Gosling stars as the staffer on a presidential campaign who finds himself cleaning up a massive mess by the candidate (George Clooney) and almost simultaneously double-crossed. The mess was were things really started to get interesting. They unraveled so quickly that I was reeling at the end and wondering why it was the end. My goodness! Rashan and I both really enjoyed it. 4 stars

Week 4: January 22-28
16) 50/50. Joseph Gordon Levitt stars as a 27-year-old diagnosed with a rare cancer, his treatment and his best friend (Jonah Hill). An emotional roller coaster. Extremely funny, really sad but well-written, well-acted and well-directed. A truly enjoyable film. 4.4 stars
17) Another Happy Day. Ellen Barkin is a divorcée on the outs when she attends her estranged son's wedding. Demi Moore plays the groom's tarty step mom. A ton of tension created was squandered in the conclusion. Essentially the film had a plot but didn't capitalize on it. 2.5 stars
18) Our Family Wedding. Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia find themselves at odds when their children announce their engagement. As they plan a quick wedding, all sorts of things go wrong. Cute enough, predictable film with America Ferrera as the bride. 3.4 stars
19) Dive!: Living Off America's Waste. A documentary centered around man feeding his family well from dumpster diving. It was pretty repetitive even in the first 10 minutes. Like the first time I read about dumpster diving as a kid, it did make me want to go find some free fancy stuff. (But I'm squeamish.) It was only 52 minutes but I still wanted it to be shorter. 27? 20? I got the gist of the story quite early. What was the point of having shots of "starving" African and Haitian children and Haitian mud cakes? That's not even really the point of this particular story. Way, WAY too many stereotypical black and minority faces of poverty. Terrible. There were also waaaaaay too many stats. From reading the reviews, I see a lot of people learned there are poor, hungry children in America. (Seriously.) So I guess the film did some good. I just wonder when we'll reach our saturation point with food documentaries telling us the same thing. 2.4 stars
20) Hell and Back Again. This 2012 Academy Award nominee for best documentary follows the readjustment period for a wounded Marine who finds himself lost and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when he's back in the states. Difficult to watch, the director and editor skillfully weaves the Marine's time in Afghanistan with his time in recovery and the effect of those disparate and interconnected experiences on him and his wife. He was a frustrating, sympathetic and irritating character in one, not terribly likable though still watchable. It did confirm my feelings about war in general as an unnecessary evil that ruins lives but that was not new. 3.7 stars

Week 5: January 29- February 4, 2012
21) Crisis. Cary Grant stars as a surgeon forced to operate on a dictator's brain tumor during a brewing uprising. The film started off decently then got quite sloppy and completely and irrevocably deteriorated in Act III. If you, like myself, are a Cary Grant fan, maybe you should watch it. Otherwise, you're not missing much. 2.9 stars

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