Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Movie Review: The Films of 2011

Well, since I only started this review blog a few months ago and have only done a few reviews, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about what happened in 2011 and what to look forward to in 2012 (which will be a separate post).

Though I did a lot of reading in 2011, reading is not necessarily something I do "by the year." Very few of my 'reads' this year were actually published in 2011. That's not to say that I didn't pick up the new books in a few series or grabbed copies of the books everyone was abuzz about, but since music and reading come to me from all decades (and I have a lot of gaps to fill) this post will focus on film. Film is something I enjoy keeping up with and it's not uncommon for me to anticipate a movie long before the trailer is released.

There are already many great blogs and articles out there talking about the best films of 2011. I'd recommend this list if you appreciate the more artistic films and this list if you fall somewhere in the middle of artistic and commercial. Both of these writers (and others) have already done a fine job of giving a summary for the year and this post is not an attempt to duplicate that or to give a comprehensive list of everything good for this year. But for me...

I saw a lot of films this year. My personal favorites were Moneyball, Super 8, and Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows: Part II. 

Hugo, One Day and Drive remain on my mixed feelings list but I think they are good on an artistic level and worth seeing for yourself.

It was a big year for comic book adaptions with X-Men: First ClassThe Green Hornet, The Green Lantern, Thor, and Captain American...all that I saw were entertaining but a bit cheesy as the genre tends to be, though I really enjoyed X-Men and Thor was a favorite off my husband.

My list of "for fun" movies that I very much enjoyed regardless of how commercial they were include Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (which I thought was an improvement on the previous two before it), Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows (more entertaining than the first for me), Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Cowboys & Aliens.

There are always a lot of films I intend to see but don't make it to and I have every intention of getting to all of the following as soon as possible.

Still on my list to see: The Tree of Life, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Captain America, Mission Impossible IV, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Adventures of TinTin, J. Edgar, War Horse, The Help

There were many many other movies released this year (Cars 2, Fast5, Scream 4, Hangover 2, Ides of March, many romantic comedies, Unknown, Arthur, Kung Fu Panda 2, etc.---that just weren't on my priority list of movies to see) and I am also leaving out many movies I did see (such as Transformers, I Am Number 4, Hanna, Breaking Dawn: Part I, Gnomeo and Juliet, Reel Steel, etc.) that I just don't have any strong feelings about or maybe just don't have the energy to write about.

I suppose there were dozens of movies out this past year. There were many that I missed, or ignored altogether. I feel as if I've only scratched the surface here and I will undoubtedly have more to say once the Oscar nominations are released for 2011.

And here I was thinking 2012 was going to be the most epic year ever for movies and in retrospect 2011 was full to the brim with highly anticipated films.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Movie Review: Hugo

Released November 2011
Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Ah, it's been a little while since I posted a review. This is not because I haven't been reading, seeing movies or listening to music. I guess it is just because I haven't felt strongly enough about things to write about them. However, I've been anticipating this movie for quite some time so I felt it couldn't let it go without a quick review.

I wish that I had read the book (The Invention of Huge Cabret by Brian Selznick) ahead of time. I've heard a lot of really wonderful things about it. And it did win the Caldecott. I'm also interested in Wonderstruck, his latest release which is being considered for both the Caldecott and the Newbery. He seems to be an innovative writer/illustrator for Children's literature and I have both books on my list. I usually prefer to read the book before the movie but my intrigue with this movie was less about the book and more about the director.

Martin Scorsese is one of my favorite directors. He's been on the scene since the 1950s and 1960s but started getting more significant recognition in the 1970s. My Scorsese repertoire doesn't begin until 1990 which is the year Goodfellas was released (perhaps his most famous film). Granted I was only 3 years old the year it came out, but I filled the gap in later. In 2002 he released Gangs of New York and I have been faithfully going to the theaters for his works ever since. The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island---all favorites of mine. I've also heard great things about Boardwalk Empire, his HBO tv series, and he is currently working on a Frank Sinatra film that I am excited about. All of that to say, I follow his career and I was surprised to see Hugo on his list of projects. 

This movie just did not seem to fit into his usual repertoire. For starters (or maybe the only reason I felt that way) was the fact that it's an adaption of a children's book. Yet the feel of the movie was still very "Scorsese." The movie wasn't at all what I expected, but then, I had nothing to go off of but a few trailers. I love Ben Kingsley and Christopher Lee, and the children were chosen well. It was well-filmed, well-acted, well-directed, and well-written.  Basically, overall it was a success. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it on the nominations list for the Oscars. That being said, for me it moved very slowly and even dragged a bit. Did I mention that I saw it in 3D? Completely unnecessary (as is the case with most movies in 3D). I guess I feel that while it was a good film, I can't see it appealing to kids. It's a children's book adaption so I feel like it should have had some appeal to children. My fear is that if I got antsy and bored at times, then there's little hope for the kids to stay engaged the entire film.

From a film-makers perspective, it was fantastic. From an entertainment standpoint it both suceeded on some levels and failed on others. Many will enjoy the film, and many will not. I feel that the general populous is not going to embrace Hugo. As for me, I enjoyed it, but probably will not add it to my collection. Still, I can't deny the merit of the work.