Movie Reviews postsThursday March 15, 2012
Movie-Review Quote of the Day: Ebert on Dick
“After an unpromising start as bicycle-riding cops on park patrol, they're exiled to an undercover unit investigating a dangerous new drug infiltrating a local high school. The captain in charge (Ice Cube) is the typical police veteran who can't believe the incompetence of these losers. I should mention that his name is Dickson — inevitable in a movie papered with dick jokes. The male member, having gone unmentioned during most of the cinema's first 110 years, now co-stars in many comedies.”
--Roger Ebert in his review of “21 Jump Street”
Gorgeous and Brilliant or Bombastic Propaganda? The Exchange of the Day
Comment from Jay: Speaking of overlooked movies, how about City of Life and Death? Gorgeous, brilliant movie.
David Denby: Richard, your move. I missed it.
Richard Brody: City of Life and Death seemed to me to be bombastic propaganda.
David Denby: Oh dear.
--from “Ask the Author: Live Chat with David Denby and Richard Brody on the Oscars,” on The New Yorker site this afternoon.
I'm with Brody.
One-Word Review of Madonna's “W/E”
It's the End of the World as Lars von Trier Knows It and the National Society of Film Critics Feels Fine
I’m bummed that my favorite critics’ group, the National Society of Film Critics, chose one of my not-favorite films of 2011, Lar von Trier’s “Melancholia,” as its best picture of the year; but you could see it coming.
“Melancholia” is the favorite of a certain type of non-narrative-leaning critic with a touch of doom about them. Plus, despite lauding them on MSNBC.com in 2005, the NSFC and I haven’t agreed on much in the past 10 years. They went with “Capote” over “Brokeback Mountain” or “Munich”; “Pan’s Labyrinth” over “United 93”; “There Will Be Blood” over “No Country for Old Men”; “The Hurt Locker” over “Up” or “A Serious Man.”
I can see why “Melancholia.” I admit its five-minute overture is one of the most beautiful opens in movies. I just didn’t like the movie because: 1) I don’t believe in half its characters; 2) its two parts don’t add up to a whole; 3) its misanthropy seems adolescent; and 4) its hand-held camera made me literally nauseous. But I can understand why some misanthropic, form-over-content, iron-gutted critics would dig it. It’s right in their wheelhouse.
Giving me a reason for dying, with characters I can’t relate to, is easy. Giving me a reason for living, with characters I can relate to, is tough. I’ll go with “The Tree of Life,” their no. 2 pick, any day.
“Melancholia” star Kirsten Dunst, who was also named best actress by the NSFC.
2011 Cinema: Looking Back to When We Looked Ahead
Before we look back at the top 10 movies of 2011—or forward to all of that 2012 cinema that isn't spoiled yet by viewing—let’s look back to when we looked ahead: to what we thought might be good in 2011.
In this post last March, I listed off 18 films I was excited about for the upcoming year. They make up the movie posters that have been fading in and out in the upper left ever since.
Of those 18, I saw 12:
- Captain America
- Of Gods and Men
- The Housemaid
- In a Better World
- The Tree of Life
- Uncle Bonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
- Win Win
I still haven't seen six of them:
- The Conspirator
- Gainsbourg: vie heroique
- Le noms des gens
- One Day
Of the ones I saw, four or five will be among my top 10 movies of the year. That’s not bad. I was excited about “The Tree of Life” and it delivered. I was worried “Bridesmaids” would be ordinary, a la “Horrible Bosses,” but it wasn't. I hoped “Moneyball” would be more “Social Network” than “Blind Side” and it was.
By the time “The Conspirator,” “One Day,” and “Super” arrived with their lukewarm reviews I couldn’t be bothered. The best foreign language film, “In a Better World,” wasn’t, while the 2010 Palme d’Or winner at Cannes, “Uncle Bonmee,” which most critics loved, and which has wound up on top 10 lists, I found not only incomprehensible but tedious. It opened up nothing in me. I’d love to read a good review that explains why it’s meaningful.
And what did my early-warning-system blog miss? A lot: “Drive,” “Hugo,” “Margin Call,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and “Buck.” Among others. Which is the way we want it. The future should be surprising no matter how often, and how much, we try to preempt it.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard