Man. I really slacked on reading this month. There were a few reasons for that, not least of which was that the Starz Play contract with Netflix ended at the end of the month, which also accounts for the longer movie list. Also, it was a short(er) month and toward the end of the month when I realized I had to have some mini movie marathons, I looked at the pile of books that I had stacked up of Things I Started in the Past Year and a Half or So But Never Really Committed to Finishing Even Though I Was Enjoying Them Somewhat (see below) and I thought, "Well, let's get to that project next month."
So I'll be tackling more of that pile this month. I hope.
So I'll be tackling more of that pile this month. I hope.
- The Future of an Illusion, by Sigmund Freud: Eh. It was all right. I think Freud's right about a number of things, but he's a little too mired in his own pet theories (calling religion a neurosis and a longing for a father figure seemed a bit much, though religion-as-wish-fulfillment doesn't seem all that far from the mark) and he dwells a bit too much on what religion was than what religion is. I think this is the only Freud I've read apart from Dora, like, ten years ago. Honestly, I picked it up because I was looking for short books to take with me on my recent trip to San Diego (I like to take short books when I travel, as they allow for more variety [and accomplishment!] on a plane trip) and I didn't finish it before I got home. So I finished it later that week.
- Pride of Baghdad, by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon: knut_hamson suggested this to me when we were in a book store while he was visiting in January. Quick read and a surprisingly effective story for how short it is and how quickly it moves. It's all about the lions who escaped from the Baghdad Zoo in 2003 (don't click the link if you don't want to know how the story ends). Very good.
- Chronicle: I watched this because it was Yet Another Movie Set In Seattle. Except it wasn't. It was Vancouver (AGAIN). :( Still, it was a good superhero movie that was good in all of the ways that Watchmen (the comic book—I've not seen the movie, nor am I inclined to, given what I know of how it departs from the book vis-à-vis the MacGuffin and the ending) was good, in the ways that it casts a different light on superpowers and what being a superhero means.
- Haywire: A big, dumb, fun movie. Went to see this with doogiedownunder, since it was likely one of the last not-a-dad-yet things he got to do before he was a dad (SPOILER ALERT: HE IS NOW A DAD). The acting from whatsherface (the ultimate fighter lady) was wooden, but they played that into a strength, just making her no-nonsense and cold. But her fighting scenes were top-notch. Also, it was fun to see Ewan MacGregor as a Bad Guy. They left the ending open for a sequel and I would gladly watch a sequel to this movie.
- The Pit: Watched at the recommendation of pauldeman2pt. A very interesting look into the world of the commodities trader. Not really a group of people you think a lot about, but an interesting group.
- Smiley Face: I think I watched this on a weekend when I just wanted to zone out. As far stoner movies go, it was actually pretty good (not quite as good as, like, Half Baked, but still moderately funny. Anna Faris really committed to the role of stoned slacker.
- OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies: Watched this without realizing until the end that it was the same folks as The Artist (which I still haven't seen). A lot of fun and I've got the next one in this series queued up for this month.
- Year of the Dog: I really like Molly Shannon, even though her SNL material hasn't really aged well. A decent movie on the things we do to find fulfillment in life.
- The Virgin Suicides: Never saw this before, believe it or not. I thought it was rather well done (and further proof that the only place for Sofia Coppola is behind the camera). Also, the Air soundtrack didn't hurt at all.
- Sometimes a Great Notion: Eh. I guess the title says it: sometimes a great notion. Paul Newman was good though (but really, when isn't he?).
- Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth: I've never read any Harlan Ellison before, and I really couldn't tell you what he's written (even after watching this), but he seems like an interesting guy?
- Last Train Home: An interesting documentary about the lives of Chinese factory workers.
- Arrested Development, complete series: Yeah, yeah, I know. Late to the game. Well, only kinda. I watched the first season when it first aired, but then forgot to start watching the second season, so I never got into it. A very, very good series—though not as wonderful as everyone says it is. Really, David Cross has all the best lines. Well, and Ron Howard.
- Bedazzled: The 1967 Peter Cook/Dudley Moore version (not the awful 2000 Brendan Fraser version). A lot of fun. I kind of want to watch more Cook/Moore stuff now.
- How I Met Your Mother, Season 1: Late to this one as well (though not as late as with Arrested Development). I needed something new to watch during my lunch breaks and this series came highly recommended. I still don't like shows that incorporate laugh tracks, but this tends to be a bit more smartly written than most American sitcoms.
- How to Be a Serial Killer: Meh. Mildly entertaining at times, but mostly just meh. Not really all that much to say about it.
- The Lady Eve: It was fun to watch Barbara Stanwyck completely toy with Henry Fonda.
- Jack Goes Boating: I can't resist a movie with Philip Seymour Hoffman, especially when he's playing a complete schlub. A pretty good directorial debut from PSH.
- Night of the Living Dead: The 1968 version, not the 1990 remake. Pretty good, though a bit tame by today's (rather high) zombie standards. Still, I will note that it's a solid establishing movie in the genre (not only for its enduring zombie tropes, but also for being a reasonably socially conscious movie) and that the zombies are, at least in theory if not appearance, more frightening than most of the brain-dead amblers typically encountered in recent zombie movies, since they appear to be able to problem-solve much better and faster.
- The Nutty Professor: The 1963 Jerry Lewis version, not the 1996 Eddie Murphy version. I had it on my list because I'd never seen it before. Eh. It was actually all right and I was happy to hear Jerry Lewis sing a decent rendition of "We've Got a World That Swings" (though my favorite version will always be the B-side on They Might Be Giants's "S~E~X~X~Y" single).
- Toy Story 3: OK, SO I AM LATE TO THE PARTY ON A LOT OF THINGS, ALL RIGHT? This really was the best of the three (which is, as far as trilogies are concerned has only been done once before with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusad). And, yes, I totally teared up at the end (though not as much as I teared up while watching Up, which is still the best thing Pixar has ever done). It was an awfully sweet movie.
- Solitary Man: Michael Douglas plays an self-involved asshole once more. I put it in my queue because it has Jesse Eisenberg in it, and I like him.
- Humble Pie: This was all right. It was one of those suggestions that Netflix made for me, since it noted that I liked, like, "quirky independent comedies" or something. William Baldwin is doing his best Alec Baldwin impersonation in it.
- Happythankyoumoreplease: This was all right and pretty much mandatory since I've been mainlining HIMYM and it stars (and was written by) Josh Radnor. It was all right.
- Mansfield Park: Though I know that they took liberties with this adaptation, MP seems like a Jane Austen book I might actually like? I don't know. I know I didn't really like P&P or Persuasion. I'll read it one day, I'm sure.
- Biloxi Blues: Pretty good. I'm not the hugest Neil Simon fan, but both Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walken gave great performances.
- Happy-Go-Lucky: Likely suggested because I watch so much British TV on Netflix. I found the lead annoyingly upbeat.
- Blue Collar: Richard Pryor gives a really good dramatic performance in this. A movie quite apropos for the current economic climate as it depicts the ways in which those in power manipulate the working classes against one another.
- Silver Streak: A lot of fun. I don't think I can be unhappy watching one of the Wilder/Pryor movies.
- Ronin: I had forgotten that I'd seen this before. But as soon as DeNiro was scoping out the café in the beginning, I recognized that I had. I watched it again nevertheless, because it's a great movie.
- Frenzy: This was all right, but by no means was it great Hitchcock. I do rather like playing the Spot Alfred Hitchcock's Cameo game.
- Searching for Bobby Fischer: Very, very good, with excellent performances from both Ben Kingsley and Laurence Fishburne.
- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Holy crap, was this movie good. Incredible ensemble cast and pretty much everyone got a really juicy, moving monologue. Without a doubt, though, Spencer Tracy stole the fucking show. If I recall correctly, he died only 17 days after they finished shooting the movie (and was in poor health throughout the filming). What an awesome note to end one's career on. If you haven't yet watched this movie, you need to. While it's a bit ham-fisted on the race issue (i.e., they makes Sidney Poitier's character into an absolute saint of a man with absolutely no faults whatsoever), the journey that Hepburn's and Tracy's characters make is pretty moving and absolutely relevant to the current marriage equality debate.
- Manhattan Murder Mystery: Good, but not great Woody Allen. I think what I liked most about it is that you're allowed for about half the film to think that Diane Keaton's character is over-reacting before you dive down into a real murder mystery (OOPS SPOILERS).