My son is returning to college this weekend so yesterday we enjoyed one last movie together. We’ve taken in a lot of films over the last couple of months, during this break and over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Going to movies is something we both enjoy and it gives us something to talk about afterwards and plan for the next.
We’ve talked so much about each of the movies we saw so I asked him if he’d join me in writing a few simple reviews. So here are our collaborative reviews on our favorites and our not so favorite movies we’ve seen recently. Some of these reviews were written by both of us and reflect our common thoughts, other ones were written by one or the other of us independently. We didn’t necessarily agree on everything but we enjoyed our discussions and debates.
Silver Linings Playbook- Somehow this movie reflects humor, love and family in a story revolving around mental and emotional breakdowns. The only issue that we felt with this movie was that the characters (and their actors) seemed better than the movie itself. Jennifer Lawrence, in particular, was amazing as a young widow who recruits Bradley Cooper’s character into a dance competition. At some points, this movie felt overly long, but then the actors brought you right back into the story. Robert DeNiro plays the same old role that he always plays, but with an OCD twist. Every character in this movie is damaged goods, and perhaps that is why it feels so real. We give it a thumbs up.
Argo: This is one of those stories that if you had read it in a book, you wouldn’t believe it. The true story of six Americans trapped in Iran and the CIA agent who helped them return home seems more like the plot of a spy film. So thirty years later, after being declassified, what does it become? A good old-fashioned caper movie, and a really good one at that. Director, Ben Affleck chose his cast well, made up of such notable names as Alan Arkin, John Goodman, and Bryan Cranston . The movie successfully pulls off the pulse-pounding fear that each hostage faces, knowing full well that their guise of a science-fiction movie might not hold up. The airport security scene near the end of the movie is more white-knuckled, edge of your seat experience than any airport scene in recent memory and is great in my book. Thumbs way up.
Zero Dark Thirty-We enjoyed watching Jessica Chastain in a completely different roll than her Celia Foote in The Help. Her portrayal of a driven CIA agent was intense and felt so different than most female action heroines. The climax of the film, featuring the infamous raid, was exceptionally well done. The movie successfully avoids the obvious pitfalls and clichés of most action movies; the main character isn’t in the battle scene and it’s heroes (the Navy SEAL Team) aren’t shouting one-liners every time they take out a target. The characterizations seems to reflect the true story of the incredible manhunt for Osama bin Laden. Thumbs up.
Lincoln: We felt like we were watching our 16th president rather than watching a movie about him. The insight into his life and the details of what really happened were better than any history textbook. Daniel Day-Lewis was incredible as Abraham Lincoln, showing his most intimate, private moments. Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Fields both excel in their supporting roles, and the rest of the A-List cast is great as well. Lincoln’s final lines in the movie, delivered right before going to the theater are “It's time for me to go, but I would rather stay.” A fitting end to the tale of our President’s darkest hour. Thumbs up.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: A confusing story saved by new comer Quvenzhané Wallis. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next. The movie, however, meandered about, with no real plot coming into focus. Neither of us particularly liked this movie nor would we probably ever watch it again. Although the visual imagery was breathtaking, it was not breathtakingly beautiful. It was stunning in it’s all-too-accurate depiction of the poorest-of-the-poor. The movie ended with an odd scene that was reminiscent of the book Where the Wild Things Are, which did not fit with the rest of the film. Sorry,Quvenzhané , two thumbs down.
The Hobbit: A long but fairly entertaining journey of the hobbits in the first part of a new trilogy leading into the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In 3-D I felt like I was watching a play! Ian McKellen is once again perfect as Gandalf, and Martin Freeman, whom I love in the BBC show Sherlock, was a great Bilbo Baggins. Andy Serkis, as Gollum, once again stole the show, with special effects that are almost too real. One thumbs up, but for me, I’d give it a neutral thumb.
Skyfall: This was the James Bond film that finally realizes the full-potential of what a 007 movie can be. Daniel Craig, in his third time donning the iconic tux, is awesome as an old and battered Bond. Forced out of retirement, Bond must face an enemy from M’s (Judi Dench) past. The villain, played expertly by Javier Bardem, is chilling, almost a mix of the Joker and Hannibal Lecter. The hauntingly beautiful theme song, sung by Adele, sums up the entire movie . As the movie ends, everything slides back in time, setting Bond up like he was in the 60’s proving, as the movie says many times, that the old ways are usually the best. Thumbs up.
Life of Pi: This movie is hard for me to describe. It was very well made and the effects were spectacular. There is one scene in this movie with a real tiger, I dare you to try and find it! Overall though, the story of this movie suffers from the end. The majority of this movie is monotonous, with a boy spending many days adrift at sea, his only companion a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. In the end, he offers up a different version of his shipwreck that goes against everything else in the movie. Unlike most “twist” movies, this film does not leave you with a definite answer of what is real and what is not. While that is not a problem, the twist comes out of nowhere and the question that remains at the end feels forced, rather than earned. Despite this, the movie is still worth seeing. Only Sam saw this and he gives it a sideways thumb.
The movies we didn’t see were Les Misérables, because after all, my theater companion is an 18 year old boy and no way could I drag him to a film full of singing. We haven’t seen Django Unchained yet but probably will. I find that I need to be in the right mood to see a Quentin Tarentino movie.
So there you have it. Thanks to my guest writer and movie date. So now, off to school you go!