In the last week or so I watched The Golden Compass (2007), Magic Mike (2012), Reno: 911 Miami (2007), Colossal (2017) and Argo (2012).
The Golden Compass
The concept of this is at least one step too far from this movie being successful. In contrast to other YA book series to movie properties, the story here isn't that far removed and many of the special effects are rather eye catching. There is a scene in this movie before the final act where two polar bears fight and the final blow has the protagonist bear ripping off the jaw of the other bear and biting the open wound. They avoid showing blood or focusing too much on that piece of action so The Golden Compass did not end up with an R rating. It doesn't hold up as well as Harry Potter movies and is more busy with the story and world building than The Hunger Games series. I'm pretty sure it won't be as heavily revisited by younger generations in the future as those franchises.
I had never seen this before but I was impressed by Steven Soderbergh's ability to turn a silly subject matter into a well directed movie with a compelling story... with some pretty silly dance routines. At first glance it seems to fit in a trilogy of movies that he has made where he makes movies somewhat about performers with backgrounds on the fringe of society. Haywire is a spy/hitman movie staring MMA fighter, Gina Carano as a hand to hand master, The Girlfriend Experience is a movie about a prostitute and stars former adult film actress Sasha Grey, and Magic Mike stars Channing Tatum who had actually worked as a male stripper (or male review) dancer before he broke into acting. While all three movies were well directed by Soderbergh, The Girlfriend Experience failed as a watchable movie and Magic Mike might not be as interesting of a story as Haywire, Magic Mike has clearly taken on a life of its own. There were times I had trouble remembering if Magic Mike was five or ten years old because of Soderbergh's almost timeless style of movie making.
Although as a fan of the original series of the show I really enjoy this movie, it does not stand up as a very re-watchable comedy after all these years. Comedy movies have a lot of trouble being evergreen because much of the surprise that brings the laugh can come from subverting timing that is in the world of comedy at the time or by playing off themes that are ripe for comedy at the time the joke is written. Some of these reasons for why comedy can work is why it can have a shelf life. This movie also retreads on some comedic themes that were already kind of hack at the time this movie came out, but the charm of seeing the characters again after the series had finished is pretty nice.
(For a non-spoiling review, check out my write up on Letterboxd)
There are conflicting dates that are attributed to this movie but I am going to count it as 2017 for the US and broad release of the film. This movie will gain the director, Nacho Vigalondo an opportunity to direct a movie (or more) in a major franchise like in the MCU or Star Wars Universe. I believe this not because this movie plays with giant monster attacks and does some pretty nice special effects on a smaller budget (I believe I saw that this movie cost around $15 million) but because the characters motivations for being either good or bad with their special powers are so compelling and the sense of tragedy in destruction is so palpable.
When the topic of Anne Hathaway as an actor comes up very often it turns into a conversation about Anne Hathaway as a persona, perhaps not even who the real person is. One friend mentioned that he had mixed feelings about her as an actress and the more thought that goes into it for me, she has been in a nice, wide range of movies and for movies like The Dark Knight Rises she is the most interesting things about the whole movie. She and Jason Sudeikis are both very interestingly vulnerable and Sudeikis pulls quite a slight of hand trick revealing himself to not be the lovably chivalrous character he seems to be, but a codependent villain. Hathaway pulls of a great performance that is rather physical considering that she was five months pregnant while shooting.
Noms: Nacho Vigalondo for writing and directing, Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis for acting, Special Effects for the movie.
In the year 2012, this was probably my favorite movie of the year. It doesn't quite hold up as a best movie of the year, but it has also remained a well made and watchable movie. It is hard to remember how well the introduction sequence is that gives a historical background to Iran and the tensions with the US. This sequence is impressive because it is told through animated storyboards just like the ones created as evidence used to give confidence to the con of the fake movie Argo as the house guests later try to get their passports stamped to leave the country.
This is probably a pretty good movie to live on as a historical piece for the atmosphere of the US in the early '80's and the tensions with Iran even as some historical liberties were taken. It is also a good reminder of the odd Oscar nominations of the Argo year where it won best picture but was not nominated for best director.
Noms: Ben Affleck for directing, Chris Terrio for screenwriting.