I’ve been watching a LOT of movies lately – before we went to the beach I recorded 22 movies from the featured free HBO weekend. Since returning home I’ve been trying to get through those as well as a couple of Netflix movies.
1) Fred Claus – Santa Claus’s older brother is a jaded repo man who is the black sheep of the family. But when Fred goes to visit younger brother Nick at the North Pole, will he ruin Christmas or save it? Great cast – Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Miranda Richardson, Kathy Bates, Rachel Weisz, Kevin Spacey. Mildly enjoyable and better than the scathing reviews it got when released in theaters. Is it a holiday classic? No – the first half of the movie is rather depressing. But it was still better than the reviewers implied. 3 “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”s out of five.
2) Things We Lost in the Fire – I got this movie title confused with a memoir I read a couple years ago, so the plot of this one was unexpected. Halle Berry plays a recent widow who decides to help the junkie best friend (Benecio Del Toro) of her dead husband (David Duchovny). This was a quiet, thoughtful movie, and despite beautiful cinematography I felt completely disconnected from Barry’s character. As such, I was not invested in her story at all, but Del Toro was brilliant as always and I was completely taken in by his character, a junkie hoping to kick the habit and finally make his (dead) friend proud. The director made interesting choices to create the overwhelming look of the film – for that, and Del Toro, it’s worth renting. 3 candy bars out of five.
3) Once – one word sums up this movie perfectly: CHARMING. About halfway through I called out to Denis, “Look up Glen Hansard on imDB – was he in The Commitments?” Sure enough – he was. I KNEW he looked familiar! This movie is about a Guy, who is a street busker, who meets a Girl, and they make beautiful music together. And it truly IS beautiful – I’ll be buying this CD for sure. It’s definitely a low-budget movie, but well worth watching. 4 broken vacuum cleaners out of five.
4) Made of Honor – typical fluff romcom movie. But hey! Kevin McKidd was in it! YAY!! (He was in “Trainspotting” and TV’s “Journeyman” which should NOT have been cancelled). Anyway, Patrick Dempsey plays Tom, a dude who loves women, but hates commitment. He meets a girl in college who rebuffs him, and they become best friends. Ten years later, she gets engaged and Tom realizes he’s been in love with her the whole time. This was such typical romcom material that I debated whether I really wanted to watch it or not. But I did. And it was reasonably enjoyable. 3 Highland games out of five.
5) 27 Dresses – I remember reading a couple months ago about how romcoms are ruining the ability for men to date today’s women. Today’s women are strong and empowered, but still brainwashed to believe in the fairytale. 27 Dresses is a perfect example. Jane loves weddings, and has been the perfect bridesmaid in 27 of them. But she longs to throw her own wedding – to her handsome near-perfect boss. She reads the wedding column in the paper each week, and is shocked when she meets the writer only to find him the anti-romantic. Hijinks ensue, she falls in love, yadda yadda yadda. 2 1/2 theme weddings out of five.
6) Slumdog Millionaire – count me a BIG fan of this movie. Danny Boyle is a wonderful storyteller (I loved his movie “Millions”), and he doesn’t disappoint with this story about a man who goes on India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” only to be arrested on suspicion of cheating because he’s from the slums and can’t possibly know the answers to the questions. The movie follows Jamal’s explanation of just how he knew the answers, as we watch his life from childhood to present day. A wonderful movie that deserved every bit of publicity and recognition that it got. 5 train platforms out of five.