Tag: Star Trek Into Darkness

2013 In Film List: 63-42

When I finished the previous blog post in this series it went from 94 to 61, AKA the bottom third or so of the list of movies I’d seen in 2013. Usually I’d just continue on with the next group here, but as you can see by the title, I’m jumping back in time a bit to number 62. I’m still following up with the next best film after White House Down, the last entry in the previous section, but I’ve either remembered (Computer Chess, The Lords of Salem, You’re Next) or watched (All is Lost, Ender’s Game) some more movies since then. I’ve put those films into their slots and will start off this particular post with any films that should have been in the previous section and would have been if I’d not been so forgetful (the two new ones are better than White House Down, as is You’re Next, if that means anything to you, so they’ll just appear later on as they’re supposed to). I’ll keep them there until I’ve posted the final part of this series, after which I’ll go through and correct everything so they’ll be in the right place and such (they are now, but these two will be kept here for posterity). Sorry for the complications. Enjoy.

94. The Lords of Salem

I’ve never liked a Rob Zombie movie, and this mishmash of witch stories doesn’t do much to help his case with me. Watch season 3 of American Horror Story instead, at least that one has good actors doing silly things, as opposed to the bad performances on display here.

87. Computer Chess

There is, I guess, a fine line between experimental art films shot on a small budget and bad movies. This one seems to straddle that line, because if you go to my review by clicking the title you’ll see several people defending it. I don’t get it. Amateurish to the point of annoyance. There’s little of interest here.

Ok, and with that we’re caught up with the films that should have been in the previous post. Now it’s time to continue with the movies that are better than White House Down. Remember, each linked title will take you to the review I did when I watched the film, if you want more detail, and the movies I saw in theaters will have an asterisk next to their name.

63. Blue Jasmine

Cate Blanchett is really, really good at playing both sides of Jasmine, the everything’s going great, just marvel at my amazing party-throwing skills Jasmine and the my life has gone to hell and nobody really likes me because I’m pretending it hasn’t Jasmine. It’s really impressive, I’m just still not sure what purpose it has. As a showcase it is outstanding, as a satisfying or thought provoking narrative, it’s decidedly less so.

62. John Dies at the End

A lot of crazy things happen in this movie and that’s usually enough to get me through. I really liked this adaptation, it’s just that the memories of the even crazier things the book does (especially in the last third which would have required a much bigger budget than this film had {and used quite well}) clouded my viewing experience. Nothing the movie comes up with to fill in the gaps are quite as satisfying as the ideas already present in the book. But it’s a solid cult movie that’s both fun and gross.

61. Despicable Me 2

Probably should have just been called The Minion Movie. They’re even better here than the were in the first and given how much is placed on them, the whole movie might have fallen apart if they weren’t handled with such care and humor. It’s very funny.

60. Beyond the Hills

I really liked a lot of elements here. It’s a horror movie which takes itself very seriously. Those horror elements are really scary because we’re never quite sure if there’s something more going on here. And the relationship between the two girls is deep and thoughtful. But the movie is overlong and lacking in tension for much of it. A 90 minute  cut which focused on the horror bits would have been wonderful. As is it’s a bloated mess with interesting pieces.

59. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

What gods did I anger to get two punk-based documentaries with critical acclaim this year? But, more than A Band Called Death, this doc goes into areas I find more interesting than just the music. As we get closer and closer to Russia’s big moment at Sochi this movie which exposes some of the ridiculous policies the country has takes on more and more importance. It’s a good primer to the archaic laws and weird story which took up so many news cycles recently.

58. It’s a Disaster

Yet another end of the world comedy (and not the last on this list, either!), this one is much smaller in scale than This is the End but no less funny for it. Mainly, the couples gathered for their monthly brunch bicker about things as the end of the world happens around them. They engage in very few actual apocalyptic activities. It’s funny and a little touching.

57. Behind the Candelabra

With a behind the scenes story that rivals the one we all got to see on HBO, Behind the Candelabra was always going to be a fascinating watch. And it is, especially given the strong performances by Matt Damon and Michael Douglas and Rob Lowe’s horror mask of a face. Of course it’s a Soderbergh movie, so it’s pretty and it moves well. The drama works, too, but it never really rises above the norm.

56. August: Osage County

Speaking of strong performances… here’s a whole group of actors that are all really good. Based on a stage play, you can feel the claustrophobia build and build. It’s too bad the climactic dinner scene comes about 1/3rd of the way through, leaving the rest of the drama to play out a little limply in comparison.

55. Dear Mr. Watterson

I’m as big a fan of Calvin and Hobbes as the next guy, if not bigger, but this doc doesn’t (can’t, maybe) go beyond the general things you might glean from a wikipedia page. There’s some nice stuff about the things fans create to show how big fans they are, but the lack of Watterson involvement necessarily restricts this from being a truly great film.

54. Ender’s Game

Adaptations necessarily change things from their sources to fit time or film’s different needs and moods. It’s a fact any reader must deal with. And so, if adaptations must happen, let them happen like this one, which elides some of the intricacies of the source novel for a breakneck pace and some nifty action scenes. While nothing will top Gravity’s weightlessness any time soon, the zero-g games here feel nicely loose. The characterizations are bigger but not necessarily badder. Heh, sorry. It’s good, is what I’m saying, and even I was surprised by that.

53. Warm Bodies *

I usually like my horror films to be scary, but this take on the zomromcom genre that Shaun of the Dead invented is pretty nice, if not ever anything other than slightly creepy. It’s Romeo and Juliet, but nobody says wherefore or anything. Sometimes people get eaten, which I think was missing from the original play. All elements work to create a really pleasant little film.

52. Stories We Tell

I’m not sure why I didn’t like this as much as everybody else seems to have. A documentary that pushes the envelope of what we’ll accept as truth and lies in a medium which promises the former, it should have really gotten me all hot and bothered, cinematically speaking. Instead I only appreciated, never fell in love with this playful and truly felt (if not told) story.

51. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

I never saw the drama that was made about the enigmatic founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, because I felt this doc got into enough depth for me to feel everything i wanted to feel about the man and his mission to free the world of state secrets. Of course, just that simplification of his raison d’être would be enough to have him or his defenders cry foul. The biggest tell of this fascinating film is how vain Assange is, even if his aim is pure it’s muddled by a cloudy vision surrounding him and the way he comports himself. Useful not only as an info dump but also as a portrait of a flawed human being.

50. Iron Man 3 *

Boy, that twist really angered some comic fans, eh? I thought it was kind of brilliant, totally subverting our expectations for a really funny scene. The rest of the film didn’t do a whole lot for me, though it’s better than about half of the other Avenger films. Shane Black’s trademark dark wit shone through the Marvel style nicely and hopefully it will lead him to work sooner than 8 years from now.

49. The East

An indie eco-thriller which focuses more on the dynamics within the “terror” group than it does on the terror itself, The East is a perfectly well made movie that does nothing to stir or rattle anything.

48. V/H/S/2

I was majorly disappointed in the first V/H/S movie and its casual misogyny combined with its lack of scares. This mostly corrects both problems. Each short has at least something to recommend it, be it the clever zombie with attached GoPro or the doggy cam view of an alien invasion, but the real treasure lies in the middle. A long (given the rest of the shorts) faux documentary about a cult in Indonesia which turns scary as hell, “Safe Haven” is anything but. If then next V/H/S is better than this one to the same degree that this was from the first, we’ll have a horror classic on our hands.

47. Trance *

Created as an outlet as Danny Boyle was pulling together the London Olympics opening ceremony, Trance doesn’t quite reach his highest highs. It does feature his crazy style and constant kineticism plus some fun performances and awesome shots in an otherwise super silly story.

46. Enough Said

As of right now this sits on the good side of the halfway point in this list. I feel like that’s, ahem, Enough Said.

45. Dallas Buyers Club

We’ll get to American Hustle soon enough, but for now let’s hold up Matthew McConaughey as an example of what one should do when they must change their body for a role and hope it doesn’t fall on Christian Bale’s deaf ears. McConaughey goes further than just losing the weight, he inhabits the Texan pride and never say die attitude that feels so right in the role. Leto’s good, too. There are, as always, distorted facts and shaped narratives. But who cares, we’re at the movies!

44. All is Lost

I resorted to yelling at Robert Redford in my original review, hoping he’d emote or something to show that he’s more than a guidebook-reading nobody out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe that was a bit harsh, but still, my problem has remained one week removed. Loved the ending, didn’t get worked up over the rest. Stoicism is nice, it’s just not right for this film.

43. Star Trek Into Darkness *

Though it shuns the ever popular colon in the middle, it doesn’t throw out what has already been proven to work so well. The Cumberbatch is great, as are the rest of the crew. Slick, solid action rounds everything out into a very nice movie which doesn’t surprise like the first film did but feels instead like a really great sequel (which it is).

42. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues *

There’s no way this movie could have been as good as Anchorman, right? And it isn’t, though it is often funny and admirably zany. Like Despicable Me 2, it might have gone off course by giving Carell too much to do, but it doesn’t. He’s great and matched well with Kristin Wiig.

Alright, that’s all for today. We’re over halfway through this massive list and the movies just get better and better. Tune in soon for part 3. Leave a comment if you’ve got something to say.

The Movies of 2013 so far

Like everything I do, this is about a month late. However, it’s ready, I’m ready, you’re ready. Let’s do it.

27. Oblivion

Kind of a mess. A beautiful, stark mess. And not the good, Messterpiece kind of a mess. Just horribleness. Convoluted, boring, and dumb. Pretty visuals can’t save the lack of any real emotion or interesting narrative. Even Tom Cruise’s unequivocal movie star nature can’t save this hunk of junk. Time to leave it to the aliens or robots or cans of gray-brown paint that we were fighting in the war here.

26. Spring Breakers

I get it, everybody. I totally understand what Harmony Korine was doing here. So let’s not say that’s the reason for the low grade. Hey, spring break probably isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! Maybe drugs and violence are bad! I get it, thanks.

But the real crime here isn’t the obvious nature of the film, it’s the intense boringness. That might seem like an oxymoron but it really is an apt description. Everything is so there, so on the nose, so in your face, so over the top, so bright and colorful and yet so very uninteresting. It looks nice, I guess. There were pretty pictures to attempt to distract me as the same dialogue gets played over and over again. They mostly didn’t work. In fact, only two scenes put a smile on my face, one in which James Franco shows off all of his stuff, the other in which he and the girls sing a Brittney Spears song while dancing with guns and stuff, mixed in with a montage of them hijacking a party much like the multitude they attended earlier in the film. It was kind of a funny juxtaposition. And it looked pretty, again. If you thought this movie wasn’t for you, you’re probably right. If you thought this movie was for you, you’re probably right, too. It is trying some different things, it’s just that they’re all so dumb.

25. The Last Stand

Some crazy action. Nothing more, nothing less.

24. Jack the Giant Slayer

Could have been awesome. Was just ok. Ewan McGregor gets almost nothing to do, which is a shame. Needed more humor. Too serious.

23. Mama

Jessica Chastain is always good. Jamie Lannister goes into a coma halfway through. There are scary bits. The end is silly.

22. Oz: The Great and Powerful

Despite a boring James Franco and Sam Raimi’s penchant for women screeching, a surprisingly fun movie. Also, it lasts too long. Everybody not named James Franco or Mila Kunis does good work. Unfortunately, they form the dramatic core of the film. SCREECH!

21. Pain & Gain

Goes on for about half an hour too long. The middle didn’t need to be there. All three of the goofballs at the center of the film are very funny.

20. A Band Called Death

Punk music isn’t one of my favorite genres. I like my music to sound nice and generally not assault me. But whatever, because like most music docs A Band Called Death goes perhaps a little too far in praising the focus of the film. Death consisted of three brothers from Detroit who were making punk music two years before The Ramones. Also, they’re black. Between the proto-punk sound, the color of their skin, and the name of the band they never broke through into any real success. One of the brothers left the band and that was that. Death ended. That brother died years later and then, years after that, Death was discovered thanks to collectors and the internet. The kids of one of the brothers form a kind of neo-Death and perform the Death songs live to a clamoring audience. Death reunites and goes on tour and everybody is happy. It’s pretty standard stuff. Interesting enough but not groundbreaking. It feels like a long 90 minutes, with the history of the band taking up a full half of that running time. I found the discovery process more exciting and seeing how the surviving brothers react to the dead brother’s premonition of the band’s discovery coming true was perhaps the best part of the film. There’s not much going on by way of cool moviemaking either. Searching for Sugar Man is a very similar film but at least that one has the cool music videos interspersed throughout all the talking heads. There’s also the brothers’ enthusiasm to consider. Both seem to be very outgoing and gregarious and their passion is clear and infectious. Maybe fans of the music might find more to this film. For me it was merely good, not great.

19. Fast & Furious 6

I really liked Fast 5. It was big dumb fun. There were funny jokes and even funnier over-the-top action scenes. This is not that movie. The jokes weren’t as funny (and the word “joke” is stretching it a bit), the action was more incomprehensible, and the talky bits were less interesting than Fast 5. If all but one of your car action scenes are going to be at night you really should invest in cars that have different colors or something. It was all a bunch of lights shaking around the screen. I know they can do daylight scenes, I saw them in the last movie. And Lin could learn a thing or two from Sodaberg and how he shot the action scenes in Haywire. I’m sure these guys can pull off the punching parts, lets see it happen. I’m usually a shaky cam apologist but this just didn’t work. There’s a lot of talk about family and it’s fine, it’s just kinda silly at this point. It’s like these guys are a bunch of cultists who are indoctrinated to love, serve, and protect the family. I guess Vin Diesel would be the head of the cult, and every new member would be bathed in motor oil or muscle juice. Still, it’s mostly fun, just not as much fun as the previous entry. The end promises something big for Fast 7, though, so I’ll be there.

18. Man of Steel

A lot of flying and punching combined with Jesus imagery and chins. It’s not nearly as Snyder-y as it needed to be in order to be great. There are moments, including the opening scene and one where Zod goes inside Supe’s head. Some well thought out visuals there but it’s mostly kinda boring looking. Also, there’s not much that happens for a 2.5 hour movie. I’m tired of origin stories, though this one does a good job of chopping it up and giving it to us piecemeal. All the acting is fine to good. Michael Shannon could have had more to do as the one before whom we should kneel. And, like everybody else has said, way too much destruction in the last act (though it looks pretty good).

17. This Is the End

This movie is at once right up my alley and not really my cup of tea. While I love a lot of apocalyptic horror, I haven’t been enamored of the Apatow comedies. Only Superbad is really horrible (of the films I’ve seen) but none of their movies have even come close to a top whatever list of mine. So I approached this film with apprehension. Luckily, taking one of the biggest criticisms aimed at this group of actors is turned delightfully on its head when nearly everybody in the film plays a version of themselves. It’s a movie of cameos short (Michael Cera is maybe the funniest part of the film) and long (the six “friends” at the core of the film). The conceit of the film is the question, “What would happen if the apocalypse was a real thing and the only people left behind were a bunch of self-centered jerks who all just happened to be actors?” Even better, the movie does a good job of probing some semi-deep ideas about how actors think of themselves and what it takes to be a good friend. This is all couched in some genuinely funny setpieces ranging from genital humor to other genital humor. But seriously, there are quite a few funny scenes and the chemistry between everybody on screen is undeniable. Also undeniable: this being a first time directorial job for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. They do some wacky fun things and like Evil Dead and The Cabin in the Woods, I’m impressed that they went as far as they did in terms of insanity-level, but they also show a few signs of not having everything figured out yet. It’s a good but not great movie lifted by the cast and conceit more than amazing directorial work. Oh, also the last five minutes are pretty awesome.

16. We Steel Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

Anybody who has spent more than a minute or two on the internet or in front of a TV with the news on in the last few weeks probably knows about the big privacy scandals happening in the US right now. It’s clear we are living in an age of information and right now that information means leaks. This film endeavors to tell the whole story of WikiLeaks, the internet safe haven for people who want to release information that has been hidden from the public. But, similar to how Overnight chronicled how the ego of one man got in the way of his own dreams, the most interesting parts of this documentary are about the men behind the leaks, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.

Read the rest here: benefitsofaclassicaleducation.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/we-steal-secrets-the-story-of-wikileaks/

15. Monsters University

What hath Pixar wrought? A prequel? 12 years after the first film? Breaking up perhaps the biggest strength of Monsters Inc.? Coming hot on the heels of Cars 2 and the princess movie Brave? This must be the end of the once impeachable studio.

Or it’s, you know, a pretty fun little movie. Adorable, even. It’s still something of a marvel that a world based on monsters that scare little kids for power isn’t actually a scary thing. In the full light of day these monsters are mostly cute. Furry, slimy, you name it, it’s here. The story is a little weak, mostly just a reason to have conflict between the soon-to-be best friends. Sound familiar? Pixar goes back to their first story with the Woody/Buzz relationship transposed onto Mike and Sully here. It works but it isn’t as much fun as watching them as friends rather than rivals. Throw in a few new characters (one, which has two extremely long legs on either side of its head, is nearly constantly hilarious) and you’ve got yourself something to do for an hour and a half. These characters are still strong, but it misses that crucial force of awesome that is Boo. Nothing here is as chaotic or cute as Boo. Still, it’s a good time and technically quite impressive.

14. John Dies at the End

Misses a lot of fun if extraneous stuff from the books. Because of that it’s a little less weird than it could/should have been. Which is saying something, because it’s plenty strange.

13. Behind the Candelabra

Sodaberg does his thing. He’s never made an uninteresting movie that I’ve seen. This is more or less straightforward, certainly not as out there as something like The Limey. Douglas does the best work I’ve seen him do and Damon is typically good. The Sodaberg touches are there in the plastic surgery scenes and the strangely comedic tone in the first third. It’s in the end that he pulls out at least some of the stops. I liked it. I could do without seeing another drugged out scene for a few years, though. Not as good nor as fun as Side Effects, but a worthy addition to his body of work. Let’s just hope it’s not the last.

12. Warm Bodies

Alternate title: Romeo and Juliet and Zombies. Funny and surprisingly touching, just not at all scary.

11. V/H/S/2

I’ve always thought that the found footage genre had a lot of potential. As long as each new film tries something different in either the narrative or technical realm (or both!), I’m all in. Last year’s V/H/S was a bit of a mess with too many pacing problems and too much people being idiots or evil in a dumb way. The only segment of the found footage horror anthology that really worked for me was the last. Still, I was anticipating the next entry in the series in hopes that they’d learn the lessons from the previous installment.

And lo! They did! This time around there’s still a dumb framing story but at least I didn’t loathe the people in it. Other than that framing story there are only 4 shorts here and it takes only 95 minutes to get through all of it. This alleviates much of the pacing problems from the previous movie. Also helpful: almost all the segments are really good. Most combine a clever conceit (a zombie mounted GoPro, a digital camera eye implant that acts suspiciously like the one in that Jessica Alba movie, a doc crew gets more than they bargained for when investigating a cult, and a doggy cam captures an alien invasion force) with surprisingly strong stories and scares. The digital eye thing was the only one that I didn’t really care for. It’s the first in the movie and pretty quick, so no worries. Both the zombie and cult shorts escalate in really fun and sometimes terrifying ways. The former has a bit of fun with the different zombie kill methods while the latter goes maybe half a step too far with the ending, but I really loved everything up to that. Maybe the best was the last, a sleepover turned scramble from really scary aliens. That one really uses the low camera angle to great effect, along with some spectacular lighting and sound use. There was still a little bit of squeemishness for me regarding the women of the film, but, again, way way less than the first film managed. A fantastic improvement to the series, I look forward to the next installment.

10. Trance

Could have used more Boyle-style weirdness. It gets there towards the end (one shot especially), but for much of it there is too much (relative) boring camera work. Still a better version of mind games than Inception.

9. Star Trek Into Darkness

Too much fun to care about the iffy script. The action is fun, the design is great, and the characters are still really great to hang out with for two hours. All the actors are doing good work, Chris Pine and BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH(!) in particular. Yeah, the story is kinda silly and the stakes all but disappear with one crucial mistake in the script but who cares? There will probably be a better summer movie this year and maybe one or two that might be more fun and they might even have better scripts. I’ll still enjoy going back to this on blu.

8. Sightseers

Really funny. The darkest comedy outside NBC’s Hannibal this year. Does everything God Bless America should have done (being funny and not annoying at the top of the list there).

7. Iron Man 3

Better than the second film. Not as good as The Avengers or the first Iron Man (or Thor). Does enough fun things to cover over some problems in the script. Most importantly, it lets Shane Black work again. 8 years since Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang!

6. The Blue Umbrella

Clever, gorgeous, cute. Maybe it’s time for Pixar to do an anthology movie.

5. Side Effects

If this is the last theatrical movie for Soderbergh he went out as he spent most of his career, making a really interesting, slightly silly, technically proficient movie. Twists and turns keep the interest level high and Jude Law continues to be great.

4. Stoker

Weird seems to be the go-to mode for Chan-wook Park. Whether it’s his internt-beloved Oldboy or his much better vampire-melodrama-comedy Thirst or this, his first English language movie. He’s always right on that edge between me buying completely into his films and throwing my hands up and walking away. Thankfully this one falls a little closer to the Thirst side of things in which everything is over the top and still restrained. It makes me feel like he was sitting behind the camera with a little sly smile on his face. There’s a bunch of weirdness in not only the characters and story but also the camera and sound work. Things just don’t feel right, nor should they given all the happenings of the film. A girl’s father dies mysteriously on her eighteenth birthday and at his funeral her uncle shows up for the first time in her life and moves himself in with her and her mother. Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode are all excellent as the girl, mother, and uncle respectively. Mia can hear things normal people can’t, so the soundtrack is full of little things that would get left out of the mix in normal films (spiders walking, hairs getting brushed, the scraping of glasses on the table at dinner). And then there’s the actual drama of the movie, the dashing and charismatic uncle slowly seducing both women and unraveling his true nature. It’s a movie that grows into itself. At first you’re watching, confused as to why the camera is acting so strangely and why these characters seem to all be weirdos. Then as things get revealed it all falls into place. The last act is among the best of the year so far as things go crazy. I like crazy. If you’re going to do something, do it all the way. Stoker goes all the way and maybe even farther. And that’s why I like it so much.

3. Upstream Color

I really don’t like Primer. Some of you know this. I hate how boring it is, and how little emotional content Shane Carruth deigned to give us. Fear not! In his second film, Upstream Color, he goes in the other direction and makes a movie that has little actual plot and much feeling and pathos. It’s a movie about connections and romance and pigs. Led by a very strong Amy Seimetz and let down a tiny by by Carruth’s own acting, it’s a movie that is certainly more assured than its predecessor, with a strong visual and aural style that does more than exist. They work together to enrich the experience of watching the film (and what an experience it is, totally mesmerizing) where Primer’s visuals followed its characters lead: straightforward and to the (dull) point. Everybody says its Malick does sci-fi. They ain’t wrong, for all the good and the little ill that implies.

2. Evil Dead

Yet another horror remake. Or reboot. Or reimagining. Re-something. This time I didn’t have much fondness for the original film(s) with their propensity to mistake loud noises for scares and near-complete lack of acting skill on display. This film takes what works about those, the premise and creativity with the camera, and adds in some great actors, a story with at least a little bit of depth, and buckets and buckets and buckets of blood. The cabin is now the location for a young girl’s cold turkey drug withdrawal for which her friends and estranged brother tag along. In the basement they find a book and, as they must, read it. Demons come, people die and get dismembered, not necessarily in that order. The drama of the first third is actually important to the rest of the movie, a rarity among horror films these days. The possession-as-addiction metaphor really works and makes the third act more than just over-the-top wackiness. Not that the over-the-top wackiness is bad. It’s great, actually, and launched the film up to my second favorite of the year so far. Crazy, good, crazy-good.

1. Pacific Rim

This movie needed to do one thing for it to be a success for me: I needed to have a big dumb smile on my face throughout most of the film. Well, Mission Accomplished. The creature design, the mecha design, the sets, the sounds, the props, the jokes, the Elba, the shoes. Everything is so right. It’s just so great to have a skilled director steering a movie like this. del Toro understands that movies like these are supposed to be fun. In a world where Superman is full of grays and seriousness Pacific Rim wears all of its colors on its sleeve and they’re all neons. It’s the most psychedelic movie since Speed Racer and Guillermo Navarro lights the heck out of the movie. So we’ve established that it looks great, how about the sound? That’s great, too. Roars and punches and crunches and metals. See this movie as loud and big as you can. The story does what it does. The central character is probably the least interesting part of the movie and once or twice they stray from the core of the film for a hair too long. Still, Idris Elba plays a fantastic old, worn down sheriff of an old west (well, Hong Kong) outpost with giant mechs at his disposal and Ron Pearlman makes the most out of a little part. Charlie Day’s enthusiastic monster nerd is basically just a younger, less accented del Toro, marveling at the creatures’ grandeur just like del Toro’s inner child would.

But those elements alone wouldn’t make me smile. No, it takes something more than looking and sounding and moving good. It takes that wonder, that special thing that only the movies can give you. Not since Jurassic Park has there been a wonder movie like this one. One fight in particular between two monsters and one robot is probably the best thing since sliced bread. Hell, unsliced bread. So big, so well shot, so wonderful.

Seven Days of Seeing: 5/12/13-5/18/13

I’ve gotten back into writing mini-reviews of every movie I watch thanks to Letterboxd. You can follow me there at this link. However, I’ll also be putting all of my mini-reviews here every Monday for the previous week, so you can just wait a bit and find out what I have to say. I’ll always arrange them in order of best to worst. Any questions? This week we have some musicals and a space action movie. Nothing incongruous there!

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – 1964

Dir. Jaques Demy – Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo

A simple love triangle blown up to melodramatic heights like no other when every word is sung. And there is little effort to make these words into real songs with rhymes and stuff. It’s weird at first but it grows on you until you can’t imagine it happening any other way. It’s French so you know there’s some true love to be had and you know there’s some heartbreak, too. What Demy does wonderfully is balance the two so it feels like a thing that might really happen, you know, if there wasn’t so much singing. The ever present score highlights each turn of the story. It feels very much of its time, which is great. Deneuve is, as always, gorgeous and easily charismatic. It’s also nice to see her not going crazy (Repulsion), but rather having a pretty ok time, all told. The end is a perfect distillation of everything that has come before. Every movie should end in snow. 9/10.

Star Trek Into Darkness – 2013

Dir. J.J. Abrams – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto

Too much fun to care about the iffy script. The action is fun, the design is great, and the characters are still really great to hang out with for two hours. All the actors are doing good work, Chris Pine and BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH(!) in particular. Yeah, the story is kinda silly and the stakes all but disappear with one crucial mistake in the script but who cares? There will probably be a better summer movie this year and maybe one or two that might be more fun and they might even have better scripts. I’ll still enjoy going back to this on blu. 8/10.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch – 2001

Dir. John Cameron Mitchell – John Cameron Mitchell, Michael Aronov

This is maybe not my scene. I’m not huge into glam rock (though I can’t deny some greatness from the genre) and I can’t really claim any angst over my sexual identity. Still, this is a really great movie full of songs that work both within and outside the film. The Origin of Love sequence and song is a strong highlight. I love a good creation story. John Cameron Mitchell wrote all the talky bits from what I understand, and directs and acts in the lead role. He’s pretty awesome and I’d like to see more of this side of him in the future. The story is a little threadbare. That’s not to say uninteresting, of course. Thanks to the music I was never bored. However, this isn’t a film to watch for the compelling twists and turns. It’s a pretty standard showbiz story of wronged lovers and artistic problems. That’s fine, it’s still a supremely enjoyable film, one I’m glad I finally got around to watching. 8/10.

Cabaret – 1972

Dir. Bob Fosse – Liza Minnelli, Michael York

Liza Minnelli is a force of nature. Even in the opening number where she only appears halfway through and stays mostly in the background the camera catches her face and the celluloid lights on fire. The movie suffers anytime she isn’t onscreen. It can’t quite handle the long periods without the music stuff, either, because although the story is fine and a new-ish take on the old rise of the Nazis framed by a love triangle tale, it turns torporific five minutes after any given musical number. But boy howdy those musical numbers. They’re all good, some all-time great, and Fosse employs a wonderful technique of intercutting the stage stuff with the real-life stuff in such a clever way that I found myself wondering how such an inherently cinematic method would work in a stage play. Not that it really matters, but it’s great to see a director work not only great dancing and choreography but also camera placement and movement and editing into such a kinetic work. It’s too bad the non-music stuff doesn’t hold the same sense of movie-making wonder. 8/10

And that’s it! Do you like this new feature? Do you have anything to say about the movies I watched? Leave a note in the comments!