What I Watched

What I Watched, What You Watched: Installment #20

Fellini, Antonioni and Abrams

This week it was a pair of Italian cinema greats and one of the best films of 2009. I also watched Inglourious Basterds on Blu-ray as well as a second helping of Public Enemies, but reviews of both of those will be just around the corner so no further mentions here.

Ginger and Fred (1986)
QUICK THOUGHTS: If you're any kind of fan of Italian cinema and/or Federico Fellini you know the names of Marcello Mastroianni and Giulietta Masina. If you don't you really should. Might I recommend picking up La Strada, 8 1/2, Nights of Cabiria and La Dolce Vita. That should be a good primer and should have you falling in love with these two. Once you've done that, pick up Ginger and Fred as this is a film to be watched only after enjoying these two charismatic actors in their younger years as they are both much older in this film, but those characteristics, most notably Giuletta's smile, all shine through here, but it is a little sad to see them so much older.

I'm not positive what made me watch this film, but I believe it was in an attempt to see another Christmas film, which this is, but the fact it's a Fellini film with Mastroianni and his long-time wife Masina, makes it a must watch for that combination alone.

Il Grido (1957)
QUICK THOUGHTS: I saw this film mentioned over at Hollywood Elsewhere a long while back and hadn't seen it, and the fact it was a Michelangelo Antonioni film was enough for me to give it a watch. I am still quite green when it comes to Antonioni's films having only seen L'avventura, Blowup and La notte prior to this film, but he always brings something to the table. This is probably my least favorite of those I have seen, but I did enjoy it, particularly a rather powerful finale you could see coming from a long way, but very much earned.

Star Trek (2009)
QUICK THOUGHTS: I wasn't sent a review copy of Star Trek on Blu-ray or DVD, but Paramount did shoot over an awards consideration copy so I gave it another look. When Paramount asked me what I thought of this film I replied, "The best way for me to describe my thoughts on Star Trek is to say it is one of only three films I saw twice in the theater and the only film I paid to see that wasn't for reviewing purposes." Granted it didn't hold up as well the second time, but at home it is pure joy. I have already added the Blu-ray to my Christmas list so this DVD will most likely find its way into my mother's collection, but I am sure this is a film I will watch over and over again. As for awards consideration, I definitely see it getting nominated for sound mixing and editing, as well as effects. I don't, however, see it getting one of the ten Best Picture slots, the film just has WAY too many story problems. This is a movie for pure fun, but to say it doesn't have problems would be lying to yourself.

However, one thing I will say it has, is the absolute best trailer of the year. Watching the trailer below makes me want to watch the movie every single time I see it. Just a perfect marriage of dialogue, effects and obviously music.

There you have it. Now share your weekly recaps and weigh in with any thoughts you may have on the films I saw. And remember to connect with my Netflix queue by clicking here, I have already added several titles from those that have already linked up.

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  • Scott

    11/29-12/5:

    Diamonds are Forever - B-
    The Hangover - D-
    The Mist (rewatch) - A-
    Ocean's Eleven (rewatch) - A+
    Ocean's Thirteen (rewatch) - A
    Casino Royale (2006) (rewatch) - A+
    21 (rewatch) - C-

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

    @Scott: Man, couldn't disagree with you more on Diamonds are Forever, The Hangover and The Mist.

    Diamonds are Forever I get no real enjoyment out of outside of the brief moments with Plenty O'Toole. The Mist I pretty much despise. I thought it fell completely apart about midway through and I just hated the ending. The Hangover I really liked, and I'm anxious to see how it holds up on DVD/Blu-ray.

    Also, a little surprised to see the love for Ocean's Thirteen. I can see people liking it, but an A? Different strokes of course, but what do you like so much about that one?

  • Mari S

    Ocean's Eleven is a great one, so I agree with Scott on that one. Twelve and Thirteen were bad and probably shouldn't have been made. One great movie would've been enough.

    This week I only saw two films.
    Blade - So much better than Twilight. I especially like Deacon Frost, there's really that something about him. I remembered a lot of the story even though it's been years and years since I saw this. In my book that tells much about the story and if it works or not. 4/5

    The Chronicles of Riddick - Visually impressive and pretty in it's own way but there's not much content to it. I love the character of Riddick, Pitch Black is a very good film indeed but this one not so much. 2/5

  • Nudgoo

    This weekend I watched:

    Dark City - first time since 1998. I don't remember it being so head-trippy
    Cinderella Man - not bad, would have been much better without the awful Renee Zellweger (which is a shame considering I was such a fan in 01/02)
    Raging Bull - first time since... gee, 94? 95? I liked it more this time.
    Zack & Miri Make a Porno - pleasantly surprised considering I don't normally like Kevin Smith movies

    And I watched the first half of Frida but got bored with it.

    I'm sure I watched something before Dark City but I can't remember what it was.

  • Nudgoo

    The Cooler! That was the other one I watched. Nothing special really except for Baldwin's performance. Maria Bello sure is purty.

  • americanrequiem

    fantastic mr fox- 6/10
    1408- 7/10
    An Education- 7/10
    Finding Nemo- 8/10
    A Serious Man- 8/10
    Inglourious Basterds- 9/10
    Where the Wild Things Are- I have no friggin clue

  • http://joker93.livejournal.com Nick

    Duel (re-watch) - a brilliant, intense little thriller with a fantastic direction by Spielberg, great acting by Dennis Weaver, a truckload of suspense and perfect cinematography and editing. Saw it for the second time yesterday and got no less enjoyment out of it.

    Bronson - Tom Hardy is freaking amazing. It's more difficult to judge it as a movie, but as a one-man show, it's absolutely great.

    Memento (re-watch) - as much as I loved everything Nolan has done, this is still his best and frankly, I don't think he'll ever top it. An absolutely perfect thriller and one of my Top 20 films of all time.

  • http://movienut14.blogspot.com Anna

    The Aviator ~ Brilliant Scorsese movie with a stunning performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. 4.5/5

    Mystic River ~ Stunning Clint Eastwood movie with great performances from Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. No surprise they got Oscars. 4.5/5

  • David Frank

    Ghostbusters (perpetual rewatch): A+
    Up (rewatch): A+
    Casino Royale (rewatch): A-
    Star Trek (rewatch): A-
    Burden of Dreams (rewatch): B+
    Mission: Impossible 3 (rewatch): B+
    The Rock (rewatch): B+
    Crank 2: High Voltage (rewatch): B
    Live Free or Die Hard (rewatch): C+

    A Serious Man: A-
    Fantastic Mr. Fox: A-
    Last Chance Harvey: B+
    Bruno: B-
    Big Man Japan: B-
    Superman/Doomsday: D+

  • Stephen

    Hated The Mist huh? Wow......well, like you said, different strokes. I love that movie. My favorite movie from 2008

  • Kevin

    Brothers: 9/10
    The Maltese Falcon: 7/10
    The Third Man: 7/10
    Antichrist: 7/10
    Point Break: 8/10
    The Birds: 9/10
    Roger & Me: 7/10

  • Kyle

    An Education - Wonderfully acted, and a terrific balance of drama and comedy. Peter Sarsgaard continues to be a favorite of mine, and I'm really looking forward to seeing more of Carey Mulligan in the future. One of the best, if not the best, film I've seen this year. 5/5

    The Deer Hunter - A "classic" that I'd never seen and figured I'd give it a go-through. Obviously powerful and led by De Niro's Michael, but there were a few flaws I couldn't look past. Hit a personal chord as I'm originally from Western PA. 4/5

    Out of the Past - Fun little film noir that was mentioned in a short story I read the previous week, so I figured I'd give it a try. I'm a sucker for a good noir. 4/5

    Rachida - An Algerian film that looks at terrorism in the country as seen through the eyes of a young female school teacher. Interesting, no doubt, but far from perfect -- or even all that entertaining. The ending is quite powerful however. 2.5/5

  • Chris138

    Brothers - 4/4
    Precious - 3.5/4
    Star Trek (re-watch) - 3.5/4

  • GregM

    The Road, which was fine. The script didn't contain a lot of the intelligence of the dad. For those who have read the book, I'll just site the bullets in the gun and the truck on the bridge.

    Watched the Prestige for the 'I don't know how many'th time. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it, twice, in a row.@

    Started watching Planet Earth on BluRay, the visual detail is amazing. A great series in SD, an absolute must in HD.

    @Scott, @Brad Brevet & @Mari S: I feel the same way about the Ocean's series as I do about Mission Impossible. The first one's my favourite, the second one exists, and the third is a lot of fun.

  • Alex

    The last 2 weeks:

    Rewatches -
    LA Confidential - 10/10
    The Usual Suspects - 10/10
    Four Brothers - 8/10 (This is amongst my favourite brainless action films of all time)
    Shooter - 6/10

    First Time -
    The Men Who Stare at Goats - 7/10
    Paranormal Activity - 6/10
    Law Abiding Citizen - 6/10
    A Serious Man - 8/10
    Last Chance Harvey - 7/10
    12 Rounds - 5/10
    The Other Man - 5/10

  • Vince

    I didn't post last week, but I saw "Ninja Assassin"- what a piece of junk. I think I said to my friend after watching it : "That looked like the trailer for the tie-in video game instead of an actual movie". Don't watch this, please.

    Also..."Pink Flamingos". It finally hit the top of my Netflix queue. Needless to say, Roger Ebert was right when he said that Flamingos "should be considered not as a film but as a fact, or perhaps as an object". It's not funny, it's poorly acted and put together, but that's the point. It's a SOMETHING, not an actual film. You watch it in an attempt to shock yourself. And it worked, even for this guy who knows his Goatses from his Mr. Hands.

  • http://thekingbulletin.blogspot.com Danny King

    I hate to admit it, but I'm with Scott on The Hangover. I saw it in theaters, but I only bring up my opinion because it seemed to cause some debate. I really think the script was pretty poor. As for films I've recently watched:

    Up in the Air - 4/4
    Raising Arizona - 2.5/4
    Funny People - 1.5/4
    The Apartment - 4/4

  • WillE

    Fantastic Mr Fox - A
    Purple Rose of Cairo - B+
    Away We Go - A-
    Love these three films. Right now Ghost Rider is on, but since I'm on here, it's obviously not that interesting. D- for what I've seen of it.

  • austin

    -The Royal Tenenbaums 10/10 Excellent movie and very funny
    -Children of Men 10/10 I was not dissappointed after hearing the hype about this movie. I finally watched it and it was great.
    -Hollywoodland 7/10 Ok sort of melodramatic at times but Adrien Brody was very good as usual
    -The Darjeeling Limited 9/10 I thought it was good. I could relate to the brotherly humor and fighting in it and I thought it was good
    -The French Connection 10/10 Very good crime drama
    -Gran Torino 8/10 I was dissappointed with this one. I had heard that it was really good I was let down. If it weren't for Eastwood being in it and directing it, this movie would totally miss. The acting by the two asian neighbors of Eastwood's was terrible. The stroy line and Clint hold it together.

  • http://hpana.com Jeremy Baril

    Brick - A
    Funny People - B -
    Moon (rewatch) - A
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (rewatch) - A -
    The Men Who Stare at Goats - C -

  • http://hpana.com Jeremy Baril

    I just gotta say...
    How can something give Men Who Stare at Goats more than a C, or "Average" ??
    There is nothing about it that is "quality cinema" other than the acting, which can only go so far...

  • Scott

    @Brad Brevet:

    I can see how you would dislike The Mist. There's a lot of really heavy-handed dialogue, but I love it as a cheap thrills old-timey monster movie. It creeps me out every time.

    The Hangover I found to be pretty useless and not the slightest bit funny, but I've despised everything I've seen from Todd Phillips and his movies do not go well with my sense of taste.

    I agree Diamonds are Forever is terrible but I'm a huge poker fiend and am taking my first trip out to Vegas in a couple weeks so at this point I'll enjoy anything associated with Vegas (which is why I also watched The Hangover, unfortunately not even my current infatuation with Vegas could make me like it, but I was pretty predisposed to not liking it anyways).

    As for Ocean's Thirteen, I love that they went a completely different route and made it a revenge tale instead of a heist flick. I think the movie has incredible dialogue, almost as good as Eleven, and the cast is as good as ever (Pacino is a great addition). I love the visuals too, the colors are so rich, and every shot of the casino from the air looks completely real which is interesting since that casino doesn't exist. Eleven is one of my favorite films of the decade, and while I wouldn't heap that praise on Thirteen I still loved the hell out of it.

  • Jimmy

    Wings of Desire- A+
    Up in the Air- B-
    Gone with the Wind- C+ (I didn't really like it, believe it or not)
    In the Bedroom- A
    The Producers- B-
    City Lights- A-

  • T.B.

    Zombieland: B
    Where the Wild Things Are: A
    Ghostbusters (rewatch): A-
    Death At A Funeral (rewatch): B+
    Shalolin Soccer: B

  • Danny

    I didn't get to watch many movies this week... I was busy working and sleeping most of the time and at the start of the week i was engrossed in the news. Brad, you're from Seattle, I live in Federal Way/work in Lakewood, so i know you'll know the reason I was engrossed in the news was due to the sad and horrible slayings of the four police officers this past Sunday. But that unfortunate incident at the outcome did get me in the mood to watch something that celebrated police.

    So I broke out my DVD set of "THIRD WATCH SEASON 1". I watched discs one through four... still got two more discs to go, I gotta say I love this show a lot and can't wait to pick up the remainder of the seasons once they come out.

    Movies:

    In keeping with my Cop Theme and it being near Christmas...

    1. DIE HARD. John McClane will always be my John Wayne
    2. DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER. What Would John McClane Do?

    And my one non cop themed movie...

    3. EVERYBODY'S FINE. I really enjoyed this movie and already commented on it on your Reveiw post.

    See ya next week.

  • http://foolishblatherings.wordpress.com Branden

    Transsiberian - A slow burn. There is a point where the movie goes 180 degrees. Very good finish. 4 stars.

    The Station Agent - Such a good film that is not overtly sentimental tripe. 4 1/2 stars.

    The Breakfast Club - John Hughes' classic film about being a teenager in high school. 5 stars.

    Training Day - It's a typical good cop/bad cop movie. 3 1/2 stars.

    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The first time I watched this film. This should have been the last film of the series. 4 stars.

  • Gavi

    Last Two Weeks:

    Fight Club (rewatch) - A++
    Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (rewatch) - B+
    Blades of Glory (rewatch) - C
    Fargo - A+
    Hot Fuzz - A+
    Along Came Polly (rewatch) - B-
    Donnie Darko - A
    Borat (rewatch) - B
    Anger Management - C+
    The Lord Of the Rings Trilogy (rewatch) - A++