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“Do Me a Kindness, Because My Mind is a Piece of S#it” – 9 Movie Reviews

December 16, 2010

Oscar season is almost upon us.  You know what that means?  It means I am going to watch a lot of movies.  The studios pull out their Oscar worthy “Big Guns” and berate us with commercials for films that are described in ways like “The Departed meets The Blindside!” I really heard that one.  It was used to describe The Fighter.  Now really,  who would want to see that mash-up?   In the last few days I have seen a number of films.  All of them surprised me for one reason or another.  Some were less impressive than I expected, while others blew my low expectations out of the water.  I know not all of these will get a nomination, but I’m just warming up.  Here are a couple of quick micro-reviews of what I’ve seen lately.

The Runaways – Joan Jett and Cheri Currie form the teen all-girl band The Runaways and make rock history.  Great film.  I truly enjoyed it. Dakota Fanning is a ridiculously good actress. Kristen Stewart did her regular mumbling and staring at the floor, but I guess that’s what the role called for.  Maybe Hollywood needs a few mumblers.  Look at Benicio Del Toro.  Fantastic Actor.  Mumbler.  I enjoyed this, but can’t help but feel like we were given a PG13 version of what should have been NC17 or at least R.

Cyrus was a major let-down.  This film was mean where it should have been nice, serious where humor was needed, and never reached any level of believability for me.  It was shot in a documentary style, which utilized a LOT of quick zooms along with annoying rackings of focus.  This sort of camera work does nothing for a character picture other than take away from the performances and put the focus on the fact that you are watching a movie, rather than give us what is needed in a film like this, which is a voyeuristic experience as we eavesdrop on a few people in the midst of their train-wreck lives.  (taking a breath…)

Then I saw I’m Still Here, the infamous faux-documentary by Casey Affleck about his brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix quitting acting to become a hip-hop star, which  I totally bought, even though I know it is fake.  Joaquin deserves recognition for fictionalizing himself.  This was a really fun and interesting look at what being a celebrity does to a person, and how fragile they are.  It was particularly amusing to hear him muse in a chicken or the egg way about his edgy moodiness and whether the press gave birth to it or he did.  Joaquin did a wonderful job of losing himself within himself.

Somewhere, by Sofia Coppola, on the other hand, shows us the shallow side of celebrity.  Celebrities in this film are people who don’t know where they are supposed to be at any given time of day, drive Ferraris, live for the moment, and spend disgusting amounts of money.  I was unable to reach a real feeling of understanding with this film, because the last fifteen seconds threw me into a rage.  I yelled at the TV and walked into the kitchen and continued to yell.  This doesn’t necessarily make it a good or bad film.  What it makes it is a good conversation film.  I didn’t like the main character, even though I do agree that he was expertly portrayed by Stephen Dorff, because I can’t relate to him.  He is despicable in many ways.  The majority of Sophia Coppola’s films have been about people who live in a world where money doesn’t matter and people just do what feel good.  Up to this point I thought this recurring theme was influenced by her Hollywood jet set upbringing, and now I can’t help but feel that this film might be a little autobiographical?  Just a little?

Winnebago Man was a great Saturday afternoon documentary.  Jack Rebney is a truly fascinating person.  “Do me a kindness” and “My mind is a piece of shit” have assimilated themselves into my everyday vocabulary thanks to Jack.  Unfortunately, the formula was obvious from the start.  Once you’ve seen a “Let’s go dig up some obscure pop-culture icon and see what he’s (or she’s) like today” film, you’ve seen them all.  The most eye-opening aspect of this film was seeing the influence that the original Winnebago Man tapes had on the entertainment industry.  I did enjoy it very much, but the documentarian, Ben Steinbauer, tried too hard to get out in front of the story in a Michael Moore way, and there is only room for one Michael Moore in this world.

I sooooooo wanted to love I Love You Phillip Morris, but I just didn’t.  Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor were fantastic, but that just wasn’t enough.  This film was funny, but not funny enough.  It was quirky, but not quirky enough.  It was also dramatic, but lacked something.  It was lacking in so many ways.  The screener I watched had a glitch in the last twenty minutes.  The film jumped ahead, and I said to myself “Thank god.” We just skipped to the end, which was amusing, but not that amusing.

Winter’s Bone was a refreshing film.  This was a straightforward story about a teen-aged girl on a mission to keep her family together no matter what.   The setting is the meth-lab infested Ozark Mountains of Missouri. Jennifer Lawrence plays the lead, Ree, who, though a child, shoulders enormous family burdens.  I’d highly recommend this film to anyone.   And if I had to give it a tag-line, I’d call it an Oscar worthy “Moonshine Methamphetamine Redneck Nancy Drew Mystery.”  Go see it.

True Grit, I’ve already seen twice, even though it isn’t in theaters until Dec. 22nd.  I’m still digesting…  It deserves a macro-review, but you can read about what I thought when I had just heard about this remake here: Who has the b@!!s to remake a John Wayne film?

127 hours. Danny Boyle is, hands down, my favorite director working today.  When I heard that he would be tackling the true life ordeal of one man being trapped under a rock for 127 hours, I was intrigued.  I saw this last night, and believe that there should be a James Franco Award and it should be presented to James Franco for his amazing portrayal of Aron Ralston.  Go see this film.

 

More reviews this weekend!  Up Next The Kids Are All Right, The Town, Inception and more!

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