Some more stuff to log!
#5: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. This thing could have been twice as long and I wouldn’t have minded. Lean and brisk despite the running time might tell you, sometimes to its detriment; the central mystery wraps up awfully neatly and predictably because, really, who else could it have been? I’m not sure what else to say here other than “typically great,” which is higher praise than it sounds like, but not the highest praise around.
And then there’s the rape scene. I get that the film is about the strong abusing the weak, and the weak retaliating with surprising force; the dueling rape scenes are just one of many examples of this karmic balance throughout the film. But… but I thought of that quote often attributed to Truffaut, that there is no such thing as an anti-war movie; in the process of filming something you must in some way glorify or beautify it, if only to meet the baseline entertainment (or simple coherent narrative) required to stitch together a story for audiences.
I have trouble with this rape scene for the same reason. To call it misogynistic is to misuse the word and thus lessen its power. But I can’t say I know what was gained by portraying it in all its terrible glory, either. Same goes for the retaliation. Fincher, I think, did a good job not portraying Salander as a badass vigilante, but… nonetheless, there it is.
#6: No Strings Attached. Spontaneous watch with my wife, thanks to Watch Instantly. I had some interest in seeing this movie as people I trust (namely Eugene) said they liked it more than its somewhat entertaining doppelganger, Friends With Benefits.
This.. it just didn’t interest me. I was bored. It was not an offensive movie, but I honestly just can’t find any traction with the heightened reality of your average romantic comedy.
This is also another example of wealth creep I see in a lot of entertainment. Everyone in this movie is fabulously wealthy and no one seems to care, mind or comment. It’s just how it is. I don’t know what it means, but I don’t like it. C
#2: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling. For reasons that are hard to identify, this was way more fulfilling than Simon Pegg’s book, despite being altogether more list-y and scattershot. I think Kaling paints a better picture of her life from A to B, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s a really sharp, clever writer who never seems like she’s trying too hard. Not a meaty read by any stretch, but a lot of fun, and educational in terms of what “the life” is like. B
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-
In real life, Natalie McDonald was a young Canadian fan of the novels with a terminal illness, Leukemia. A friend of her mother’s wrote to J. K. Rowling to ask her to write to Natalie. J.K. Rowling did not receive the letter until after a vacation, and though she admits to fearing it was “too late”, wrote back, telling Natalie what happens to each of the main characters, only to find out from Natalie’s mother that she had passed away. The two women began a friendship, and Natalie was thus added to the books (into Gryffindor, the house of bravery), as a tribute. Her mother kept the contents of the letter secret until her other two children finished reading The Deathly Hallows
J.K. Rowling is a cool lady.