Archive for category Review

Hyde Park on Hudson

Hyde-Park-on-HudsonIt’s nice that one of our nearby theater choices is a bit artsy and yet still shows mainstream movies. This leads to a greater opportunity to see a trailer for a movie we might otherwise miss. I think it was when we went to Lincoln that we saw the previews for Hitchcock and Hyde Park on Hudson.

My knowledge of FDR is pretty much restricted to what I was taught in 11th grade history. Or, really, what I remember from of that. In particular, I had no knowledge of the historic events covered in this film. Those events — specifically the first visit US visit by a British monarch — are only the setting for the real story of the movie, which was apparently a fairly well kept secret for many decades.

I found the movie to be interesting and entertaining, if a bit forgettable. I particularly enjoyed Bill Murray’s portrayal of FDR. It was also nice to see Laura Linney in a leading role.


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20130222-083900.jpgI originally saw this before I started my Movie Pass subscription, so this was my second viewing. Brittney was in a “I don’t watch kids’ movies” mood when we first saw it, so she skipped it. Her mood changed and so I took her to see it.

No surprise: she loved it. Because it’s awesome. I’ll also mention that the iOS app for the movie is pretty cool in its own right.

See it. Play it. Wreck it!

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Texas Chainsaw 3D

TexasChainsaw3DHere’s what I said at the time:

And then afterward:

To expand upon that last bit, “Not recommending it unless you were tempted.”, what I meant was that I recommend it if you are tempted in the first place, but I certainly don’t recommend it to anyone that’s not already considering seeing it.

It was a bit more scary than it might otherwise have been due to the empty theater. Periodically, there was a noise to my back left. Normally, I’d have filtered this as audience noise, but given that there was nobody else there, I was more aware of such things.

Oh, I also liked the ending.

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Jack Reacher

JackReacherFor good or bad, I’m firmly in the set of people for whom Tom Cruise is a box office draw. I haven’t seen every movie featuring him, but I’ve seen most of them, particularly the action films. Thus, it comes as no surprise that I was drawn to Jack Reacher despite zero familiarity with the source material.

What I find most interesting about this movie is that it seems to be more directly a screen version of a modern detective novel than any other recent movie I can think of. I’m struck by a similarity to Tom Clancy’s John Clark character.

Perhaps Cruise could bring Without Remorse to the big screen. I’d watch it.

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A Good Day to Die Hard

AGoodDaytoDieHard[I’ve decided to skip my backlog of pending reviews (ten) to be more current. I haven’t decided how I’ll handle this moving forward.]

Our Valentine’s activity consisted of a tasty visit to Hopdoddy’s followed by A Good Day to Die Hard. Somehow, despite my frequent movie attendance of late, I haven’t seen a preview of this movie in quite some time. Thankfully, this allowed me to forget almost everything the preview gave away. I believe this played a huge role in allowing me to appreciate the movie more than average.

To be clear, there are huge problems with this installment of the beloved franchise, not the least of which is the ridiculousness of the lack of institutional response in what is a far cry from a third world city. This bothered me at first, but I was somehow able to suspend disbelief for most of the movie.

I was surprised to discover that it’s been more than five years since <i>Live Free or Die Hard</i>. I have not watched that movie since and, correct or not, I’ve formed a mental impression that the fourth installment was disappointing. This helped to lower my expectations for the fifth installment (notably different than The Fifth Element).

Cutting to the chase, if you’re hoping for a real “Die Hard” experience, you’re likely in for a disappointment. If, instead, you can be satisfied with a half-hearted “John McClane” adventure, complete with the appreciated return of the R-rated language and a nice little Gruber-death homage, then it’s a good day to see a movie.

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Pitch Perfect

PitchPerfectThe whole family caught Pitch Perfect at the discount theater just before New Year’s Eve. (So I’m only a six weeks behind in reviews even though this movie came out over four months ago!)

Having heard good things about this one, my expectations were somewhat elevated. Luckily, this was mitigated by the movie being of a different genre than I would typically anticipate. (Though we do watch both Glee and Smash, so there’s that.)

If you haven’t managed to catch this one yet, I definitely recommend it. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I have no feel on exactly who it is that wouldn’t enjoy it. It’s available at Redbox.

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Django Unchained

DjangoI managed to only know the barest premise about Django Unchained before I saw it, including a complete lack of familiarity with the original Django movie. That’s always a plus for good movies. I used to make a significant effort to avoid watching previews for movies I already knew I was going to see. I’ve stopped that practice but I’ve been contemplating starting it up again.

I’m not sure what to say about Django Unchained that hasn’t already been said better by many others. (I really need to catch up so that my mini-reviews are more timely.) Yes, it’s extremely violent. Yes, it deals with uncomfortable topics in a way that mainstream movies have seemed to avoid for the last few decades. Yes, it is an amazing movie.

I honestly have no complaints about it at all. I’d see it again, though I’m not yet convinced I’d buy it.

If by some chance you haven’t seen it and are not specifically avoiding it for the reasons above, see it. Twice.

I was going to make a comparison to Kill Bill, which I didn’t really like, but now I’m thinking I should really give Kill Bill another viewing. Perhaps I was just in the wrong state of mind to enjoy it at the time.

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This Is 40

ThisIs40The best thing about This Is 40 is rewatching Knocked Up beforehand.

No, wait. The best thing about This Is 40 is the sense of smugness that comes from watching people worse off than you — but not actually suffering (and not, you know, real).

That’s still not right. The best thing about This Is 40 is the interaction between real-life sisters Maude (as Sadie) and Iris (as Charlotte).

At least it was better than Killing Them Softly.

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HitchcockI really had no idea what to expect from Hitchcock. My familiarity with Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t very extensive. I’d seen several of his movies, though by no means all, and I do recall seeing episodes of his TV show when I was a kid (in repeats, of course). But my knowledge was, at best, of the pop-culture type — ’80s pop-culture.

What drew me to the movie was simply its two stars, Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. I’ll confess that having Scarlett Johansson didn’t hurt — she’s one of the actresses that draws me to movies for reasons both trite and subtle.

In my MoviePass log, I marked this as “Extra” (as opposed to “Personal” or “Family”), which means that I very likely wouldn’t have seen it were it not for my MoviePass subscription. I track this so that I can see how much value I’m getting from my membership.

(Speaking of which, two months in, and with an anticipated $10 non-Extra movie on tonight’s agenda, I’ve saved $43.77 and seen an additional $36 worth of Extra movies.)

Getting back to the point, I enjoyed the movie and am glad to have seen it. My only complaint is that there wasn’t a Hitchcock-esque twist. The wink-and-a-nudge-to-the-audience was fun but didn’t quite make up for the lack of suspense. At least it didn’t commit the sin of failing to have a perfect ending that I specifically anticipated. In this case, I have no idea how the appropriate suspense could have been achieved, I just wish the writer had done so.

All-in-all, I’d say it’s worth seeing if you have any sort of affinity for the subject matter (including Psycho) or the actors.

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Taken 2

20130119-075107.jpgI don’t have a lot to say about this one; it was exactly what I expected and did not disappoint. I’d say it isn’t as dark as the first one, which renders it more of a straight-forward hero fantasy.
In a way, this reminds me of a book series I’ve read, 3rd World Products, which sometimes reads a bit too much as self-aggrandizement by the author. Taken 2, as well as Taken for that matter, likely avoid this by simply feeling more detached from the writer.


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