I guess I'm suffering my first bout of writer's block. I've had ample time in the past week to write something meaningful and creative, but I've been absolutely uninspired. Fortunately, I've got some filler in the form of my Netflix Reviews. I had to laugh when I reread this post though, my Netflix queue hasn't budged in the last six months.
It's clear that I find it much easier to write scathing reviews than to praise a film. I suppose that's irrefutable evidence that I'm a critical bitch. And now, in no particular order, my attempt to dethrone Roger Ebert. (and if the writer's block continues, this is just a small portion of my efforts.)
BABEL (I rated this 1 out of 5 stars) It would be easy to blame my hatred of this movie on my discomfort during tension laden films. But what disgusted me the most about Babel was the vulnerability and the exploitation of the children characters throughout the film. Hey, I know the world is far from a perfect place and children are used and abused every minute of every day, but I don't need to see borderline child pornography flaunted in my family room for two and a half hours to really grasp that. This was just sick. I didn’t find it clever or meaningful. I "get" the underlying message here, but it could have been done a lot better. I'm dismayed at the critical praise that was heaped upon this dreck.
INVINCIBLE (I rated this 3 out of 5 stars) If you remain blissfully ignorant about the actual basis of this movie, then you'll enjoy it much more. I'm a big Mark Wahlberg fan (and isn't it great to see Mr. Funky Bunch enjoying such a fine acting career?) and he does a great job as a modest guy who achieves a level of success that surprises even him. I was quite disappointed at the creative license that was taken with the script, but that's Disney for you. The emotional manipulation is borderline, but pulls back just in time. Not a bad use of 104 minutes, but if it's an underdog movie you're looking for, you could do better. Seabiscuit, Cinderella Man, et al.
THE PRINCE OF TIDES (I rated this 1 out of 5 stars) How do you spell the sound of vomiting? This movie is a hurlfest from start to finish. I love Pat Conroy's books, and this is a sweeping epic that could never have been adequately captured in a 2 hour movie. If you're a Pat Conroy fan, I'll point you in the direction of "The Great Santini", a much better adaptation, albeit dated. This is such a blatant vanity piece for Streisand, and is probably why I have zero tolerance for her at this point. Conroy's novels are all about rich language and vivid imagery, none of which transferred to this movie. None of the characters resonated as they did in the novel, every single role was miscast. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
FRIENDS WITH MONEY (I rated this 1 out of 5 stars) I've come to the inevitable conclusion that Jennifer Anniston's agent must hate her. Why else would she keep picking vehicles that make her look like a dim, manipulative shrew? The Good Girl, The Breakup, Friends with Money...I won't even watch Rumor Has It-I don't have the stomach for it-of course that's probably due more to a Costner aversion than anything. I was all over Rachel, loved her comic timing, coveted the hair, but why does she feel the need to put so much distance between Rachel and every subsequent character she plays on film? Taking this movie as a whole-what a spectacular waste of talent. I wanted to know more about these characters, but the stories never even scratched the surface. The tidy little endings were so contrived I wanted to gag. The entire cast deserved better than this.
I happened upon this great little film right after watching the wretchedly disappointing "Friends With Money". Based on the single preview I had seen of this film, I thought this was going to be some madcap comedy of errors with a forced Hollywood ending. Imagine my surprise when I discovered great dialogue, believable characters and a finale that rang true emotionally. While Meryl Streep does a credible job, I actually found her performance to be a bit too forced and instead thought Uma Thurman was the standout performance. Bryan Greenberg was great as well, absolutely convincing as the eager, but unfortunately juvenile boyfriend. I'd probably deduct a half star for a couple of predictable plot turns, but overall was delighted by this grossly underrated movie.
We've subscribed to Netflix for a year and a half. While it's a good thing I'll never see a late charge, it's easy to see why they're making money off morons like me. I'll hold on to DVDs for a month or two, remember that I'm paying for them to gather dust on my TV, then hunt for the white sleeves in the stack of junk mail on the kitchen counter. I have no real hope that the following movies will ever reach my home, but I'll estimate percentage chances of each being delivered.
#27 The Hurricane. I don't even remember putting that one in there. I think I did it because Steve likes underdog movies and this probably qualifies. Only about a 5% chance I'll ever see it.
#28 Rabbit-Proof Fence. Recommended based on my ratings. I'll give this a 25% shot. I'll definitely watch if it happens to be on HBO or Starz.
#29 Miracle. Well, it's about hockey, they play hockey in Minnesota, Herb Brooks lived and died in Minnesota and it's another underdog movie. A good chance this will actually wind up on the tray of the DVD player-probably 75%.
#30 Wonder Boys. Hmmm, well I love Michael Chabon's books. I hate Michael Douglas. 50/50.
#31 How Green Was My Valley. My mother's side of the family has always been proud of their Welsh heritage, and I'm sure it was at her prodding that this found it's way into the queue. It's a classic, which works in it's favor, but movies from the 1940's usually contain the most wooden and stilted dialog, which ultimately results in my falling asleep fifteen minutes into it. Also, another common characteristic of films from that era-everyone speaks with that faux English accent, much like Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow do today. I hate that. 15%.
#32 Being There. Recommended by the Netflix Brain Trust and a movie I've seen bits and pieces of over the years and have always wanted to watch in full in one sitting. 70% that it makes it.