Mitch Q.'s Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

The Fighter
The Fighter(2010)
½

If you distill this movie to the plotline, it is a totally predictable re-writing of every boxing (and most sports) movie ever made. Not even the fact that it is "based on a true story" can change that. It is a tribute to the writers, director and actors that this movie rises far above that restriction and turns into a captivating and entertaining move that is well worth seeing.

The Trotsky
The Trotsky(2010)
½

After a weak opening scene where I feared the entire movie was going to be trying too hard - like a made for TV movie - the movie found its pace and developed into a quirky funny little film well worth watching. I have a modest acquaintance with Russian political history and I thought the more you know about it the more likely you are to get the inside jokes and allusions.

The lead is a true 'rebel without a cause' who does not even have the courage to live his own life. Strangely he manages to take very (pseudo) courageous stands by trying to re-live the life of a Communist revolutionary battling a different world than the one Trotsky actually occupied. This is the point which could make or break this movie: does it successfully manage to create a world where this strange figure is at least believable?

I found that it snuck in just under my ability to 'suspend my disbelief' and as a result I liked this movie.

Colm Feore as Lenin/principal and Genivieve Bujold as the head of the School board (not sure of the historical Russian echo) were noteworthy.

The Social Network

I'm not a facebook type. Don't have an account and I don't plan on getting one. Nevertheless this movie worked for me in a manner similar to 'Up in the Air', 'Wallstreet' or 'Bonfire of the Vanities'. It's a movie about corporate greed and an individual compensating for his own lack of social skills by developing an elaborate social networking site.

I like the fact that the movie shows that the idea did not just strike in a lightening flash but instead was developed in a particular context: the university dating scene (or, in his case, the lack of dating scene). The movie also traces the evolution of the idea to what we see today.

The casting is exceptional. The characters are generally unsympathetic but occasionally a line such as 'this is moving so fast' gives a glimpse into the undoubted confusion of emotions caused by being attached to a rocketship like facebook became.

Although he wasn't the best of the cast, I think Justin Timberlake deserves special mention if only because I have rarely seen a singer who turns out to be such a good actor.

True Grit
True Grit(2010)
½

I really liked this movie...but I'm not sure why it needed to be made. I don't think it is much different or much of an improvement on the original. The original was funnier but this one may be seen as more realistic (except for the truly pathetic computer generated snakes!) or a bit truer to the novel (which I have not read).

Like many of the best westerns the movie presents a seemingly straightforward story with many layers of meaning. What is the true nature of 'justice'? How does it relate to 'vengence'? It presents evil as banal and examines the role of character (true grit) in human dealings. And, not least, 'violence' which is common both to good and evil is fully displayed (more so in this remake).

I particularly liked the use of the Iris Dement song at the end.

Match Point
Match Point(2005)
½

Woody Allen read 'Crime and Punishment' in university. He realized that it was one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. He tried to recreate its moral dilemma in 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' and again in Match Point. He doesn't make it.... but he make a good try at it. Well worth watching.

Ran
Ran(1985)
½

I saw Ran again recently. It is a strange stylized movie: although it may seem a minor matter, I found it hard not to be put off by Lord Hidetora's makeup. The movie itself is huge in its scope and bleak vision. It is not simply a remake of Lear although it clearly owes a lot to Shakespeare. I thought the best scene was the seduction of Jiro (second son) by Lady Kaede, the recent widow of Taro (first son). The scene owes more to Richard III than Lear but with the twist that it is the woman doing the forced seduction. I was reminded of Richard's famous speech:
Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
The movie grinds on to its inevitable tragic end. There are wonderful, if slightly overblown, scenes of samurai warfare. I was somewhat puzzled by the use of firearms but research showed that by the time of Mori Motonari (the most likely model for Lord Hidetora) firearms would have been recently introduced to Japan.

It is an easy movie to respect. A hard movie to love. It has none of the endearing self deprecating humour of Seven Samurai. But it is a film great.

La Graine et le Mulet (The Secret of the Grain) (Couscous)

I came to really enjoy this film but it took a while. Mind you , at 2.5 hours the movie gives you plenty of time! In fact, I think its length is its real weakness. If the story had been told in 1.5 hours or so it would have been much tighter and more involving. I ended up feeling a lot like the people at the restaurant - waiting endlessly for a meal that seems to never come.

Nevertheless, the sense of family and the love of food and the culture that underpins it comes through.

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden)

I was expecting a real let-down from the first movie based on the reviews I had read. I found this to be a surprisingly entertaining movie. It involved my interest and kept me involved until the end. I attribute that to the excellent characters and acting, as well as the plot. I read a lot about the change of Directors but did not find a noticeable change in direction.

The end of the movie is not very satisfying but that is a weakness that the movie has in common with the book. This is very clearly an installment in the trilogy and does not stand very well on its own. However, as part of the trilogy it does very well.

City Island
City Island(2010)

Totally predictable comedy. This is a movie that revolves around family members lying to each other for little or no discernible reason..and then, of course, having to pay the price for the lie. Casting was ok but the script kept the acting pedestrian.

It wasn't bad enough to be remarkable; it wasn't good enough to recommend.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
½

A taut detective thriller. The casting is amazing and the bleak Swedish countryside is the perfect background for the story of an old wrong being revealed to have its tentacles into the present-day. It also sets up the subsequent books/movies.

It captures the viewer's interest early on and keeps on track until close to the end. Just as with the novel the resolution of the puzzle about Martin Vanger feels like the end and the actual denoument comes across as a bit of an afterthought.

Unfortunately, the relationship between Blomquist and Berger is not well developed. It is worth remembering that a direct translation of the title is "The Men Who Hate Women". As the central male character the movie Blomquist's ability to relate to women and the type of relationships that he is capable of having is of key importance. That oversight may be understandable in a film that is primarily concerned with dramatic development but I fear will leave a gap in the later films.

Still, all-in-all, an excellent film well worth seeing.

Robin Hood
Robin Hood(2010)
½

I liked the re-imagining of the Robin Hood tale and found it to be somewhat more believable than the conventional version. Kate Blanchett was her usual marvelous self (although I can hardly forgive/forget 'Dylan'). Russel Crowe was tough and believable as Robin/Robert. The film faltered in trying to figure out who the bad guy was. Was it the French or King John? Both really didn't work that well. As a result, and as a result of the more conservative outlaw represented in the film, a lot of dramatic tension just frittered away.

I thought it was worth seeing; but not a 'must see'.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)

This worked for me: barely! The idea of a naive kid dressing up in a wet suit to play superhero is an appealing one. But after that premise the movie has to go somewhere and once the 'real' superhero comes along I felt the movie lost its maverick intention to a degree and slipped into the 'usual' superhero genre. But it did keep its quirky and charming edge to some degree.

The Dinner Game (Le Dīner de cons)
½

While the plot often feels like it needs to be on a stage with doors that open and close in a vaudeville manner the acting and a clever ending save it from that fate. It takes a while to really appreciate what a piece of work the 'host' really is. This could then fall into the trap of considering the idiot as a representative of the common man and strongly engaging our sympathies with him. I think the strength of the movie is that it resists such an easy resolution and the fact is that the 'idiot' really is rather idiotic. At its best it reminded me of Molier; at its worst, the three stooges (ok two stooges).

Sherlock Holmes

Although they SAID Sherlock Holmes was a genius I saw nothing in this move to indicate that he was anything other than a typical violent Hollywood detective. Jude Law was underplayed as the loyal sidekick - with a violent streak - and the leading lady looked great, but decidedly un-Victorian. This could just as easily been called 'Diehard - with a Brownish Hue'. It was not Sherlock Holmes!

Solitary Man
Solitary Man(2010)
½

A man obsessed by his own mortality and the need to have as many women before the end. He is drawn to youth as the antidote to his age. Ultimately this fatal character flaw takes him down as certainly as huberis does any tragic hero. But in this case, the writer/director doesn't have the clarity of vision to provide an ending. The movie is left with a cop-out. You decide: does he go back to his ex-wife and 'sensible' life; or does he continue down the path of self destructive self-delusion. Really, if the director wants to tell us this story he should provide the conclusion. This is the film version of kids telling a convoluted story ending "and then I woke up".

This is another, not particularly well imagined, film about the question 'why do men cheat?' Olympia Ducakis answered that question in Moonstruck: 'because they are afraid of dying'. This movie could explore that more deeply but ultimately is afraid to face go beyond that basic conclusion.

The Pool
The Pool(2008)

Too quiet and 'little' a film for me. I had trouble staying awake! The languid atmosphere of the unused pool fills the movie but there is very little development. However, there was a certain hypnotic beauty to the film that makes me give it a passing grade.

Date Night
Date Night(2010)
½

The chemistry between the leads was excellent. I liked the premise of the story - that the venial sin of poaching another couples reservation could go wildly sideways. But the story itself never really came together and the ending was so unbelievable that it jarred. However, it was time to end it as they had pretty much exhausted the thin plot. The movie had the odd laugh. Worth a look.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Terrible waste of time. One of the worst movies I've ever seen. I gave it 10% only because it made me laugh ONCE. It saddens me that John Cusack's career has come to this!

Volver
Volver(2006)
½

I re-watched this movie last night and I am amazed at how much I got out of a second viewing. The story of a beautiful young woman who was abused by her father and the resulting hurt and sorrow is shaped by the perceptions of the characters in such a way that the comedy of life overwhelms the potential tragedy. But the apparent disgust that Almodovar feels towards the entire male gender is disturbing. There is not one even mildly sympathetic male character in the movie.

In various scenes of the movie, Almodovar plays with the potential fetishes of the (presumably male) viewer using incest, non-consent, feet, dramatic cleavage shots, ass views & female urination to name a few. The result is a movie which portrays women as victims of male appetites while exciting a few along the way) who eventually react and assume control of their universe with depth of character and even humour.

An interesting complex movie that I really liked although I couldn't accept its portrayal of men as such a horrific gender.

Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart(2009)

The movie is about as cliched as a country song. Poor old broken down singer; great but riddled by broken marriages and booze; hits bottom; is redeemed. Wait - I've heard that all before!

If it wasn't for the great performances of Bridges and Guilenhaal I wouldn't even give this movie a passing grade. As it is, the singing and conviction of the two leads pulls it barely out of mediocrity.

After all the hype I was disappointed.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
½

Just never came together for me.

Amarcord
Amarcord(1974)

A profane and untidy jumble - in other words 'life'. It is dated, it rambles and it captures you with some scenes of incredible humour and insight. A great movie.

Gran Torino
Gran Torino(2009)

A small but insightful film. Works for me

Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked)
½

Mildly entertaining. Unbelievable episode after unbelievable episode. Few laughs, no drama (oh yeah except for the slapstick melodrama of the boat sinking!)

It's Complicated

A few good laughs but a very weak story. Baldwin is funny in an overbroad sort of way. Streep was pretty good with what she had to work with. But Steve Martin was totally underused. If the funniest thing you can write for Martin is a stereotyped slapstick dope scene, you've really failed.
I waited until it was out on DVD. I'd suggest waiting until it is out on the movie channel and you are really bored one night.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Good fun; great cast; Can still hear Woody speaking some of the lines and setting up the conflicts....but it works.

Summer Rain (El camino de los ingleses)

I enjoy Banderas as an actor and was hoping that this would reflect some of his skill. I saw it in translation (sub-titles) so it may work better in Spanish. I think he is overreaching his material and that the movie is very derivative. It is his 'sophmore' directing effort and I think the movie shows that.

Broken Embraces

Time to pull out all the stops. Yes you can quibble with small details but taken as a whole this is one of the best movies to come out in the past few years. After you get over the basic plot and the incredible acting (and beauty) of Penelope Cruz, you see layers upon layers of the story. The depth that relationships are explored between men and women and between son and father is breathtaking.

There are probably better movies but I'm having a hard time thinking of any right now.

An Education
An Education(2009)
½

The combination of a well-written Nick Hornby screenplay and a very good cast make this coming of age film a winner. With a deft touch and a look at times reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn Carey Mulligan is totally convincing as the ingenue. Sarsgaard (anybody else think he looks like Ewan MacGregor?) is delightfully charming .....with a vaguely sinister tone.

Combine these performances with an excellent supporting cast and throw in one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a long while and you have a small classic.

The Informant!
½

Just another 'liars movie'. Like Run Thief and many others of the genre. Matt Damon does what he can with the role and is appealingly helpless when his lies finally run out and new ones just won't help anymore. But, ultimately, it sounded too much like a story I've heard many times before and wasn't really very keen on the first time!

The Men Who Stare at Goats

A very disappointing film that never quite decides what it is trying to be. It's tongue in cheek style completely breaks down in the boring denouement.

Bridges is his usual appealing ancient hippy self. Clooney is just too smug.

Up in the Air
½

The casting is excellent.

This is a movie about an empty man. Several women enter his life: his sister(s); Vera and Anna. He begins to connect with each of them in different ways. He saves his sister's marriage - and in doing so he re-enforces his need to connect. But he is kicked in the gut by Vera in his attempt to connect or satisfy his needs.

Those personal needs are difficult for him to even identify and his history of supressing all human connection ties him to his empty life.

He does manage to do one unselfish thing before sinking in his sea of isolation. He helps Anna to escape from the heartless, hopeless business of 'termination engineer'. That moment of value is subtle but is really all there is.

Despite dealing with bleak isolation the movie manages to capture moments of humour.