The Darjeeling Unchained Dark Thirty
Since the last post I've gone through a real mixed bag of hits and misses. I watched: The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Django Unchained (2012), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), The Hunger Games (2012), Cloud Atlas (2012), Pitch Perfect (2012), Hot Fuzz (2007).
The Darjeeling Limited
With an awareness of pretentiousness and cultural ignorance this movie succeeds in telling a great story in a far away land without being a fish out of water farce. It's beautiful, it's funny, it's touching. I'm not sure all of the Anjelica Huston scenes are my favorites. She does make those scenes just unsettling enough to understand that she isn't a saint, she's a very self-involved person who manifests that vanity through altruism to strangers while fleeing her family.
Noms: Acting for Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrian Brody; directing for Wes Anderson; writing for Anderson, Schwartzman and Roman Cappola; cinematography for Robert D. Yeoman; music for the film.
I really like Tarantino but this and Inglorious Basterds are towards the bottom of my list of his movies. It is visually impressing and Jamie Foxx puts in an impressive job at acting as do Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson (who steps into a unique performance for him). This movie runs a little long for me and I don't care for the drawn out scenes with Christoph Waltz. I'm sure Tarantino loves him for building up anxiety in his scenes, but they just seem dragged out for me. I prefer Hateful Eight as a Tarantino western.
Noms: Robert Richardson for cinematography, Foxx, Washington and Jackson for acting.
Zero Dark Thirty
I actually changed my mind on this movie from the first time I saw it about five years ago. Originally, I was really troubled by the nonchalant glorification of torture in the early scenes of this but on this viewing it appears to be more of an example of the change from torture to interrogation as the torture takes longer and doesn't get any actionable or reliable results in the movie. The pacing of this movie was easier and more enjoyable as I watched it late at night on this viewing. It's an interesting movie but still not great and Act of Valor (the film that uses active duty Seals as its actors) gives a better sense of an interrogation even if it completely fails as a story.
Noms: Greig Fraser for cinematography.
The Hunger Games
On this rewatch, the movie was more enjoyable than expected but it still felt as though it was older than just 5 years old. It doesn't help that there have been three other movies in the series that have been out since the original movie came out or that those movies are successively less interesting or that they all retreat the same shaky handheld camera as the original in a way that beats the technique to death. It doesn't hold up well, and it's mostly because the sequels rub away at the edge of the original.
I saw this when it was first available for rental or streaming around five years ago I almost immediately forgot the entirety of the nearly three hour runtime. On this viewing I learned Tom Hanks and Halle Berry play weird futuristic cave-people who ramble in a non-sense language for one of the story lines. Some of the stories are pretty interesting or fun, but most of them have differing tones from each other and it doesn't quite come together. I do think Tom Hanks does an interesting job falling into a few very different, very odd characters and making them almost seem reasonable.
Noms: Tom Hanks for acting.
This is still better than a bad movie and it throws in a few solid jokes (although there are some not so great jokes that mug to the audience like they are show stoppers). The appeal of this movie is more as camp, references to songs and a chance for the audience to sing along. It's not necessarily a movie for me, although I feel as though this movie probably holds up better than the sequel.
Yup, I expected this might have lost some its magic over the last ten years, but I was wrong. It plays. I think with time it actually works better because the Bad Boys II and Point Break references aren't as much of an odd pairing of one newer one older action movie, but they feel more like two action movies you would't be surprised if you saw them for sale in a gas station. Everything about this movie is great, the story is genius, the jokes and callbacks are all perfect, the action and cinematography are expert and certainly not the level you would expect from a comedy ten years ago. It's not just good for ten years ago, as the quality of comedies and action-y comedies get better and better, this movie is still a masterpiece in comparision. The Kinks on the soundtrack for two songs certainly gives it a leg up in the music category. "Make Sandford Great Again."
Noms: Acting for Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, directing for Edgar Wright, Jess Hall for cinematography, Wright and Pegg for writing, special effects and stunts, music for the movie.