I was recently made aware of the 50/50 Challenge via Benjamin Birdie. The concept is simple: in the year 2012 (and how future-y does THAT sound?), commit to reading 50 books and watching 50 movies. That’s new-to-me books and movies, not necessarily “new release” books and movies. 50 movies shouldn’t be so hard. 50 books will be harder.
I signed up over on the site, though it doesn’t seem to have any “official” way to log your progress. Whatever. Stuff like this is why I have a Tumblr, right? So let’s get 2012 going.
#1: Tintin. I was surprised by how much I liked this movie; was surprised by how much I liked it in 3D, too. Combined with Hugo (my second-to-last movie of 2011), a compelling argument has now been made for the use of big-budget 3D spectacle. (Previously, I thought 3D should remain in the province of “trash” cinema — your Step Ups, Piranhas, and so on.)
Tintin is pretty slight in story (and has two — TWO — female characters, both of whom are very minor parts) but holy cow, there are some set pieces here that are unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. Great time. Drags for a bit, but once Tintin flies that plane, it’s good times ahead. B+
#2: The Artist. Part of a double-feature at the Angelika with Josh. I enjoyed myself, found myself drawn into the emotion and dazzled by the dream sequence, as I’m sure everyone was. This movie is another mark in favor of my increasing “okay-ness” with modern artists deliberately working in styles of the past. Because, hey, why wouldn’t they? Who says silent films have given us everything they can give us? Who says big band music has nothing more to offer? And so on.
That said, I was not, like, completely transported. It might not even crack my top 10 of 2011. B
#3: A Dangerous Method. Um, geez, did I want to like this more. Everyone was perfectly fine (Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud, especially), but I was just way less interested in the love(ish) triangle and way more into the letter-writing between Freud and Jung and, man, I could have just read those at home. Cronenberg never turns in a dull movie, but this one was certainly choppy and hard to engage with. I simply didn’t care about Jung’s repeated falls from grace. Their battle of ideas, much more so. C
#4: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I have never seen a Planet of the Apes movie before. Couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it’s because I had cable growing up, so I had little reason to watch these movies in syndication when I had, I don’t know, Big Trouble in Little China and Return of the Jedi playing on HBO.
Man, did I like this movie a lot. It’s a strikingly obvious metaphor for the civil rights movement (and a how-to for staging your own principled civil rights movement), but that works just fine, and I didn’t seem to mind the parts with the humans nearly as much as everyone else did… Though Freida Pinto’s character was completely pointless. I wonder if there’s more of her on the cutting room floor.
A clever story cleverly told, with some truly great set pieces that inspired several “wow”-out-loud moments. Highly, highly recommended. A-
#1: Nerd Do Well, Simon Pegg. One of many nonfiction, memoir-ish books I’ve read in a row, most of which were curiously unsatisfying. This one is no different. Pegg’s a nice guy, an occasionally clever writer, and has some interesting morsels to impart, but holy cow does the “this guy really influenced me, and then I got to work with him, and how cool is that?!” motif, repeated over and over and over and over, get old. I wanted less “oh man George Romero!” and more “so this is how Shaun of the Dead came to be.” You’re the story, here, Pegg, not those other guys.
Also, the jokey novel contained in the book is humorous but a pretty obvious space-waster. Drawing attention to this as a joke does not really excuse it. C-