Thursday, January 19, 2012

Movies 1-5 of 2012

I wanna keep track of the movies I watch this year.

First of the new year was Blue Velvet. Images of Dennis Hopper and his gas mask haunted my youth. I had a recurring dream where he was chasing me in a labyrinth in the equivalent space of a crawl space beneath a house. Seeing it now, I didn't like it.

First theatre marathon was David Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mission:Impossible Ghost Protocol, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

I preferred the Swedish GWTDT. I agree with Ebert that the US version is almost too confident and polished:

"Fincher is certainly a more assured director than Niels Arden Oplev, who did the 2009 Swedish film. Yet his assurance isn't always a plus. The earlier film had a certain earnest directness that seemed to raise the stakes. Emotions were closer to the surface. Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace both create convincing Salanders, but Rapace seems more uneasy in her skin, more threatened. As the male lead Mikael Blomkvist, Michael Nyqvist seemed less confident, more threatened. In this film, Daniel Craig brings along the confidence of James Bond. How could he not? He looks too comfortable in danger."

M:I Ghost Protocol was directed by Brad Bird, of Pixar experience. I liked this movie. I thought the action set pieces were really great. Ethan Hunt climbing on the outside of one of the taller buildings in the world with dysfunctional sticky gloves is good stuff. However, I also liked the third installment of Mission: Impossible with Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the villain, a much darker film, and Ghost Protocol with its rich, redeeming story telling is basically a Pixar movie with the Mission: Impossible material.

I tried to read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and got about a quarter of the way through it before it was due back at the library and had finally hit the theatres in Lincoln. I might return to it (in the meantime, I have The Spy Who Came in from the Cold at my bedside). I really liked the movie. Very nicely written and performed.

SUPER with Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, and Kevin Bacon (more victims in his degrees of separation) was a film I'm still uncertain about. It came out around the same year as Kick-Ass, and a year after Defendor. I've intentionally avoided Kick-Ass and haven't seen Defendor, so I can't compare it to others in the citizen turns comic super hero genre. But through the movie, I was unsettled by the violence. At one point, Frank cracks open a guy's forehead with a heavy pipe wrench for butting in line. It could be the way the writer and director of the Dawn of the Dead remake and Slither executed the blood and gore, but it affected me in a way I wasn't expecting. Then the movie ends and wraps up with a nice voiceover and montage about how all the horrible things Frank did were for the greater good and that his means were justified by the end.

I hold the belief that if a story (novel, tv show, movie) is spoiled by finding out the ending, then it wasn't worth the journey. I think something should be valuable throughout its consumption, but this movie challenges that belief for me a bit. I don't know that something can't be redeemed by its ending. I guess in that way my experience with this movie and the movie's plot parallel each other.

When I rate things on Netflix, they have five stars. For me one star is a hated it and regretted wasting my time watching it, two stars are I didn't like it, three stars are I did like it, four stars are I would be happy to watch it again, and five stars are that I would gladly own it.

Blue Velvet **, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) ***, M:I - Ghost Protocol ***, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy ****, SUPER **



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