Ok I admit it, I'm a movie junkie. I have been since I was a kid and saw my first movie - Mary Poppins. Then two years went by and I got to see Dr. Dolittle. Remember this was the 60's when there weren't new movies opening every week - at least not for kids. As the years have passed I've seen more and more movies - though these days I'm more likely to watch them on Netflix.
But every time I get together with my friend Kathy our first activity is to review all the movies in the newspaper and make our list. What are we going to see? Which movie will make the cut and which one will be left behind, so long The Punisher 2, hello Benjamin Button.
This year we found ourselves stymied - not that many movies we wanted to see. We were not impressed by the overabundance of Nazi/Holocaust movies that came out. I was not impressed by the Valkyrie preview in which I barely kept from yelling at the screen - hey all you Nazi's he's an American, he doesn't have a british accent; I'd read The Reader and knowing the twist (which is apparent to me from about page 20 of the book but takes the author years to figure out) it was not of interest. And while Kathy was enthusiastic about the Boy in the Striped Pajamas - it was only showing at 9:45 p.m. for two days then disappeared altogether - I could not quite bear to spoil the holidays sobbing about a child in a concentration camp.
So after much debate we settled on 4 movies - The Day the Earth Stood Still, Milk, 7 Pounds, and the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I was influenced by all the media hype, the stars and in the case of the Day the Earth Stood Still - great fondness for the original. Here are my reviews:
The Day the Earth Stood Still - Special effects were pretty cool, Keanu Reeves was not good (did he not see the original in which the fabulous Michael Rennie played an alien with charm and charisma?) and I'm sorry but in what universe in Jennifer Connelly qualified to be a scientist. Overall the movie was not good, had plot holes you could drive a truck through and we were very glad we had paid matinee prices. And being a New Jerseyan it was somewhat fun to see New Jersey get destroyed by Aliens as opposed to the long suffering LA, San Francisco and New York. My review - skip it and rent the original.
Milk - was a great movie. Not knowing anything about Harvey Milk I found the movie engrossing. And Sean Penn and James Brolin both did great jobs. I did have to wonder about Harvey's mental processes - you had James Franco and you let him go and ended up with some little crazy person? Not a good move. I have been asked by many why I didn't know about Milk. Having grown up in New Jersey and being a high school student at the time I was fairly sheltered from the happenings on the west coast. My review - see it.
Seven Pounds - ok Kathy was convinced to see it because it was Will Smith and he usually does good movies. He does great action in the summer and in the winter he does his Oscar movies and usually he does a pretty good job. Not this time. What a dreadful movie. You aren't given any context or knowledge of the characters' motivations until the end of the movie, you never really know what 7 pounds is about and I'm sorry but you can't convince me that (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) killing yourself with a jellyfish isn't going to render your internal organs somewhat useless for transplant. It was maudlin and beyond manipulative - you could tell that in the script conference Will Smith was saying they'll be crying here. Well I didn't cry - instead I want our money back. And the 2 hours of my life I spent watching it. My review - Skip it and make sure none of your friends see it either.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - best movie of the year. If it doesn't win the Oscar for Makeup there is no justice. I loved every minute of it - well except for the fact that it was set against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina and an old woman in a hospital narrating. Did the makers not know what happened to some of those old people - I found myself worrying in the scenes with the old woman that she was about to be euthanized. But the movie was so good I didn't fret during the scenes with Brad Pitt. I am dying to know how they got 40 something Brad Pitt to look like 16 something Brad Pitt. In this case the special effects were beyond good. I need those special effects myself. My review - I strongly recommend it.
So where does that leave us? You'd think given that two of the movies bombed and two were great that I'd be less influenced by hype - but no - I'm waiting for Clint Eastwood and Gran Torino this weekend.