I’M BACK!

Dear Squids! I know I have been pretty much MIA for two years. My life has been crazy. I just finished my first year of graduate school, and now I am on summer break and have some free time, so I thought it was time to revive my blog.

So, for my first new post, I thought I would go over the movies I saw in theater since my absence, provide a rating, and a breif explanation. So, here we go.

 

Anna Karenina: 2012

Rating: 8

 

I loved this movie. The acting was enthralling. The two main characters (Kiera Knightley and Jude Law) create such tangible, raw emotions more powerful than few other films. What I loved most about this movie was the way director Jon Wright makes it look like a play. The film begins with a curtain going up, and characters have extravagant gestures and motions in a delightful way. Also, the adding of the repetitive sound of the train that will eventually kill Anna Karenina (sorry for the spoiler alert if you have not yet seen the movie or read the book).

That said, This film is not without flaws. It is very long. A very reasonable problem considering this movie was adapted from a Tolstoy novel, but anyway I think the editing could have been just a bit tighter to shave off at least a half an hour.

 

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunter: 2013

Rating: 2

I don’t remember too much about this movie, except for the amazing face that I was actually able to be dragged to see it. That said, this movie was entertaining, not a bad way to kill an hour and a half. That’s really it. It didn’t stick with me. It was predictable, unchallenging, and a clear formula action movie. All though I will admit the costumes were pretty cool.

 

Iron Man 3: 2013

Rating: 5

I believe the first Iron Man is actually a pretty good movie. I haven’t reviewed it on this blog, but I think I’d give it a rating of 7. I despised Iron Man 2. My favorite thing about Iron Man was the witty banter that Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) has with Pepper Pots (Gwenyth Paltrow). The second movie completely loses it, is not near as innovative, was sloppily put together, and quite frankly, I found it boring. However, while I know a lot of fans hated Iron Man 3, I thought it was much better than Iron Man 2. I was relieved to see the witty repartee restored. I also found myself sitting on the edge of my seat like the first one. However, I still think Iron Man the original is the best of the trilogy. The third one had a few problems. I found the motives of the villain not very clearly established. And Pepper Pot’s moment in danger was very predictable. Still so much better than the second one. Then again, it’s not hard to make something better than complete crap.

 

Ender’s Game: 2013

Rating: 6

I was really looking forward to this movie. I loved the book. In fact, I read it in about two nights. I actually really enjoyed the film. I thought it was a very good book to film adaptation. Of course, some stuff was left out, but that is always the case. I think Gavin Hood kept what was needed to keep the themes of the book alive.

That said, I am not sure I would have enjoyed it as much as I did had I not read the book. I have a feeling without reading the book the film would have been very hard to follow.

 

Hunger Games: Catching Fire: 2013

Rating: 6

I preferred this film to the first one, which really surprised me. I found this movie was better put together, easier to follow, and the action didn’t give you a headache. I also found that this film is much stronger in resonating emotionally. It’s hard for me to explain why I gave it a 6 because it has been a number of months since I saw it, but I am clear I did not think it was a perfect film.

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 2013

Rating: 4

So if you have read my review of the first Hobbit, you know I was very disapointed by the movie. I do think this film is better, but only because of one thing: Smaug. Smaug the dragon was amazing. Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect casting, just as much as Andy Serkis was for Gollum in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

That said, I found other aspects of the film bad enough to have made Tolkein turn in his grave. I will only write about one, because it really pissed me off: the romantic relationship between Killi and the female Elf, whatever her name was. I don’t have such a big issue that this story-line was not in the book. I understand that book to film adaptations need to make changes. However, I think it is possible for film makers to make these changes while still keeping the most important themes from the books alive. For example, was Tom Bombadil really necessary in The Fellowship of the Ring? No. So my question is, what the hell is this interspecies relationship attempting to do? It’s admirable if Jackson was trying to give a nod to interracial romance, but it seems so implausible after the LOTR trilogy taught us that elves and dwarves are at each other’s throats. For God sake. It took Legolas and Gimli three films to trust each other ad become friends. A hundred years before, a dwarf is going to fall in love with an Elf and vise versa in all of two minutes? I’m sorry Jackson. Think again.

 

Saving Mr. Banks: 2013

Rating: 10

I loved this movie. It is rarely that a a film makes me cry at the end not because of sadness, but because I am so overcome by the beauty. But I did that at the end of this film. I found no faults. I think the strongest aspect of this film was the cast. Emma Thompson is one of my favorite actresses, and she was amazing. As far as I am concerned, Tom Hanks is now the only man who can play Walt Disney, and Colin Farrell and Paul Giamatti were impeccable as well. However the film was also put together seamlessly as throughout the story are frequent flashbacks. Also, there is a powerful subtlety that really made this film a joy to watch.

 

Monuments Men: 2014

Rating: 4

I really wanted to see this movie because of it’s all-star cast and the historical narrative it is presenting. However, I was disapointed. The film suffered from the common issue of too many characters. It was plot driven, not character driven, so I couldn’t get as emotionally connected. Also, the plot continually going in different directions was incredibly hard to follow.

However, for a WWII movie this film has a good amount of enjoyable, clelver humor.

 

Jack Reacher: 2012

Rating: 2

I’ll be honest. The only reason I saw this film was because one day when I was living in Korea I took my host sisters to Daegu. We went to a theater and I told them we would see any movie they wanted. They picked Jack Reacher. I was disapointed, but I kept my word. I don’t seem to remember finding anything redeemable about this movie. A very typical action movie, down to the seemingly dark and corrupted hero to the villain who persuades his hench men to eat their fingers.

 

Epic: 2013

Rating: 7

I am often wary of going to see children’s movies, simply because a large portion of them are only meant to satisfy an audience of five-year-olds that it lacks any real depth. I still want to get the hour I lost watching G-Force. However, Epic left me presently surprised. While it seemed enjoyable to children, the story was complex enough to keep me enthralled. The creation of a microscopic civilization was detailed to the point that it almost seemed to reach LOTR standards for me. The animation was also very well done. I would say one of the best children’s films I have seen in the last few years.

 

OK, so I am hoping to get some new posts going in the next few days. Unfortunately, being a graduate student, I am quite poor, so I don’t know how much I will be able to review new films. I guess you’ll all have to be complacent with what I can access on Netflix.

 

My Favorite Top Ten Actresses

I have noticed that in my posts regarding actors, I haven’t chosen many females, and as a feminist, it does not sit right with me. To that end, I decided to write a post dedicated to my favorite actresses. This is now a penis free realm. Hos before bros. Hos before bros. And I think you care about my opinion because…well let’s face it. If you didn’t you wouldn’t be reading my blog.

10. Amy Adams

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Best Role: Charlene Flemming in The Fighter

Amy Adams is on here because even though she hasn’t done as much work as some of the other women on this post, I think she has a large amount of potential. With just a few roles, she has shown more range than most actors have ever shown in their entire careers. I’m really looking forward to seeing the continued burgeoning of Adam’s talent.

9. Meryl Streep

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Best Role: Clarissa Vaughan from The Hours

Meryl Streep has become one of those actresses everyone thinks of when you mention Hollywood. When you watch one of her movies, it seems as if she slips into character as easily as a glove. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie in which she delivers a disappointing performance.

8. Judy Dench

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Best Role: Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love

So here is where I reveal what a history nerd I am by saying that I love the Elizabeth I performances of 3 of the actresses on this list. The other two are Helen Mirren and Cate Blanchett. But anyway, Judy Dench is always a pleasure to watch on the screen. She always commands a lot of feeling in her voice, plus a hell of a lot of power.

7. Emma Thompson

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Best role: Karen Eiffel in Stranger than Fiction

I love Emma Thompson. She acts a wide range, and yet every character she does has this fire beneath it that always makes me come back for more. Although I do have to say I was very disappointed that she chose to act in Men in Black 3. Oh well, I gues she has bills too.

6. Natalie Portman

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Best Role: Nina Sayers in Black Swan

I will be very honest. When I saw Natalie Portman’s performance in Star Wars: Episode III, I thought she was a terrible actress. “Anaken, you’re breaking my heart!” She has since redeemed herself in a way I never thought possible. First, she did such a great job in Garden State. She delivered a remarkable performance in V for Vendetta, and kudos to her for still being able to look sexy with a shaven head. Then she was like a bolt of lightening in Black Swan. Her performance in that movie was some of the best acting I’ve ever seen. She really deserved the Oscar she received for it.

5. Helen Mirren

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Best Role: Elizabeth II in The Queen

When I saw The Queen, I saw Helen Mirren perform for the first time, and she captured my heart. She did such a powerful performance as Elizabeth II that now whenever I think of the Queen of England, I don’t think of Elizabeth Windsor, I think of Helen Mirren.

5. Angelina Jolie

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Best Role; Lisa Rowe in Girl Interrupted

Angelina Jolie is an actress with the remarkable ability to make the audience believe that she isn’t Angelia Jolie anymore, but her character. Say what you will about her being a home-wrecker or that her lips have all the collagen in the Western hemisphere, Jolie is a masterful actress.

4. Keira Knightly

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Best Role: Sabina Spielrein from A Dangerous Method

For a while, I had thought Keira Knightley had the potential to be a great actress. Then she did a great job as Elizabeth Benett in Pride and Prejudice, then was astounding in A Dangerous Method. I feel like her career can only keep going up, and I eagerly await her Anna Karenina.

3. Hillary Swank

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Best Role: Alice Paul in Iron Jawed Angels

I don’t kow what it is about Hillary Swank, but every movie I see her in I have to watch it either at a movie theater or alone to make sure no one talks during it so I can hear every word, because she commands so much power and passion. Everyone thinks of her performance in Million Dollar Baby, which was amazing to be sure, but in Iron Jawed Angels, she has a speech in which she explains her cause for women’s rights and even though I’ve seen the movie 20 times, I’m floored every time I hear it. As an actress, Swank has the entire package.

2. Kate Winslet

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Best Role: Hanna Schmitz in The Reader

I love Kate Winslet so much. Not only is she a great actress, she only takes roles in movies that she thinks are high in quality. And whenever she has photo shoots, she doesn’t allow post-touch-ups. And damn, can she act. There are so many movies that I love mainly because of her presence, and I will basically see any movie if I know she is in the cast. She is that great.

  1. Cate Blanchett
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Best Role: Daisy from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I’ll admit, I was going back and forth with Blachett and Winslet for a while as to who I’d pick as umber one, but I finally decided it needed to be Blanchett. She is a powder keg. She commits so much to every role that I feel whatever emotion she portrays. For example, if you’ve ever seen Babel, you know her character gets shot while she’s traveling with her husband in Morroco, and the nearest doctor is in a small village. She pleads with her huband not to let him operate on her, and her entire body, her every movement exudes terror. In that moment I was about to cry it was so tense. Her ability of transferring her emotions onto the audience made me put her as number 1. She is in my opinion the best actress.

Honorable Mention:

Kathy Bates

Maggie Smith

Julie Andrews

Jodie Foster