Sin Nombre

Sin NombreThere were some things to like about this – the filming, acting and story were all fine… It wasn’t clear if the main character was really worth sympathizing with, nor was it clear what would happen to him. But the girl has so many “what are you thinking!?!” moments, it was hard not to yell at the screen. She basically abandoned her family, likely got them killed or deported, and she hardly seems to care or realize it. Instead, she’s all ga-ga about a killer she hardly knows. Sure, he killed an even-worse guy who was attacking you, but just say thank you and move on. I just didn’t believe that her character would actually behave that way.

Other than that, pretty good.

Rivers and Tides

rivers-and-tidesInteresting look at a somewhat unique artist. Andy Goldsworthy creates works of art using only natural materials. Many of these pieces are ephemeral – a sculpture of ice that lasts only until the sun rises, or an arrangement of driftwood pulled apart by the rising tide. Some of them are quite permanent – a wall of rock inspired by a serpentine river. While the pieces were interesting, I had to wonder… how to do the finances of this work? When the artist is out stitching 500 leaves together & sending them down a whitewater stream, is someone paying him for that? Sure, he does get commissions, and probably publishes some stuff… but is that enough to raise 3 kids on? I just wish I knew the full story about some of these people. I mean, more power to him, but… really?

Far From the Madding Crowd

far-from-the-madding-crowdI wasn’t sure if this was a serious film, or “Romance novel brought to the screen”. There was a lot of nice filmwork, and pretty good acting. But the overall plot was a bit too much, and some of the perfect scenes (like the ending complete with golden sunrise/set – seriously?) were too much too.

So, what happens? Well, it’s 1870 England, and a free-spirited woman finds herself the inheritor of an estate, and the object of marriage proposals from 3 men she hardly knows. Of course, she picks the worst of the three, and therein lies the drama. The way out? Guy 2 kills guy 3, and that leaves guy #1 the only left available… and leaves us with a perfect happy ending. Blech.


kon-tikiWhile you might be highly skeptical if Thor Hyerdahl’s theories of the population of the Pacific islands (he postulated that South Americans sailed to these islands on balsa wood rafts – which has been disproven with DNA research), you have to admire his determination to prove a point. As for the movie? It’s fun to watch, but a little stiff at times. There’s only so much optimistic bronzed Nordic dudes I can handle.

The Lodger

the-lodgerI was lucky to see this in a theater at an art museum. While it was presented more for historical interest rather than artistic merit, it was interesting on both those fronts. It’s one of Alfred Hitchcock’s first movies – a silent film about a mysterious guest. Is he really a murder? or is he something else. The suspense is killing me!


1408No, this isn’t a documentary about the pivotal events of the year 1408. It’s a supernatural horror flick. I don’t see a lot of these, and while they’re not really my favorite genre, this one was OK. I only rolled my eyes at the silliness of the thing a few times.

Thor: The Dark World

Like most copies, this one looks a lot like the original, but there’s a bit of quality loss. Sure, it’s fun to watch, but these movies too often rely on the “new secret villain even more powerful than the last one”, and you kind of feel like they’re just making it up as they go along. Sure, everything is made up, but it shouldn’t feel forced.


seraphineSure, I liked this, but I can’t figure out how to summarize my thoughts on it. I wish I could just make a painting to describe it. The movie has definite “acts” which make it almost like 3 (or how many acts the are) movies in one. If you’re interested in the motivations of a forgotten artist, check it out.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

harry-potter-deathly-2I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan. I don’t hate him, but I watched all these movies like George Mallory might have – simply because they are there. In other words – I have no idea why.

So, this one ends the series, and we all find out how it ends. Spoiler: it ends in a massive cop-out. Seriously? A “he’s technically dead for a few minutes to reverse some spell, and then we resurrect him?” Give me a break – magic shouldn’t work on a technicality. Dead means dead forever. Harry should have sacrificed his life – for real – either by annihilating Voldemort, or weakening Voldemort enough so that Harry’s friends could kill him. The more I think about it, I wonder if JK Rowling had intended to end it that way, but chickened-out at the last minute because she was worried about the message it’d send… that a suicide mission can be right. Either way, the end just felt like one giant “Come! on!!! Are you Serious? pfffft”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

harry-potter-deathly-1Is it good or bad that 2 years after seeing this, I can’t remember what happens in it. I remember the end of Part 2 (see other review), but can’t remember what happened in Part 1. A lot of the Harry Potter movies are like that. What happens in them doesn’t really matter – some spell does some thing to someone who knows more about someone else than our hero does… rinse, lather, repeat. But, they’re still fun to watch for the spectacle (albeit with about as much depth as shiny hair).

The World’s End

the-worlds-endJust when you think it’s another “high school buddies meet up 15 years later and have one last crazy night” movie, BAM! sorry… zombies and aliens. I had no idea it was coming, and couldn’t help but be majorly amused when the plot took a 720-degree turn. The charm of the story was just icing on the cake.


wadjdaWell… that’s depressing. While this movie is outwardly about a girl and a bike, it’s clearly a statement on the status of women in Saudi Arabia. Everything about the movie felt authentic, and they weren’t trying to force a message. They don’t need to. They only need to show the basic reality of life for women like this to make their point. A really fine effort not only with the basics of film making, but in mattering as well.

The Boxtrolls

the-boxtrollsThe latest fun effort from Laika studios. The characters & plot were all refreshingly unique, and I loved the “character” of the setting – one of these ancient, brick-laden, hilly European cities that exist more in imagination than reality. It was wonderful to see some vivid imagination brought to life.

Edge of Tomorrow

edge-of-tomorrowAs much as I want to hate Tom Cruise… I have to admit he can turn it on when he needs to. Perhaps that’s what makes him so freaky – what exactly is real under there? This movie is smart, brilliantly paced & pieced together, and just fun – I couldn’t wait for each new scene. Sure, the ending was a little odd, but it was a nice wrap-up & made at least as much sense as 99% of all other movies involving time-travel & related phenomenon.


snowpiercerWow was this stupid. I watched it the recommendation of various reviews, but apparently this is one of those movies that you either love or hate. I hated it… or at least didn’t like it too much. Even if you see the whole movie as some kind of metaphor, the facts of the movie make no sense… and I just can’t get past that. Who is maintaining this giant train track? Why can’t they just run the engines & not actually travel anywhere? and on and on… Sure, there was some kind of story buried underneath this mess, and a couple fun performances… but that really couldn’t save it.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

secret-life-of-walter-mittyI just couldn’t decide about this one. It did have a lot of fun moments & scenes… and just a cool vibe. But, as a full story, it didn’t make much sense – it was trying to make a point (about living your dreams, etc), but never actually made it. There was too much that left me scratching my head saying “really?”, but not in a good way. Still, a chunk of the movie was shot in Iceland, and I’m always a sucker for that. So… I’ll have to give it a positive word or two.