The Shapiro Files

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Netflix Weekend Wrap-Up #7

Previous installments: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6

I had a particularly good Netflix weekend (still catching up on missed films from late last year). Here's what I watched:

Thumbsucker (2005) - This was a very nice little movie about teen angst, family dynamics, and ADHD. The performances were very good (even Keanu Reeves was actually well-cast for once) and the script was well constructed. As with so many movies of this sort, there were a few plot contrivances that it probably didn't need, but it was still smart and engaging. Also, while I don't typically comment on DVD extra features, there's an extended conversation between the writer/director Mike Mills and Walter Kirn (the author of the book on which the film is based) that was quite interesting. It's not very frequently you get to hear an author speak in depth with the person who adapts their work for a film. So if you rent the DVD, it's worth checking out. My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) - I've been a huge fan of Nick Park's work ever since I saw his wonderful Creature Comforts for the first time at the 1990 Festival of Animation in La Jolla. I think it may have been the following year that I next saw A Grand Day Out and was completely blown away by the beautiful animation, character design, cleverness, and most of all, humor of what would become just the first in a series of excellent Wallace and Gromit short films. So I was very excited when I learned that after all these years, Nick Park was finally given the opportunity to create a full-length Wallace and Gromit feature film. Although I'm sad I couldn't catch it on the big screen when it was still in theaters, as always, Netflix saved the day. I'm happy to report that I loved this film. It was beautifully executed and incredibly funny (I laughed myself silly from beginning to end). I realize this particular brand of British comedy may not be for everyone. But there has always been something about Park's sensibility that has appealed to me. All this said, I feel a little funny giving a movie like this the same star-rating I'd give to Casablanca, City Lights, The Seven Samarai, and other such acknowledged masterpieces, but at least it recently won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film. So I guess I shouldn't be too embarrassed. My Netflix rating: 5 stars


  • Cous -

    OMG...a 5 star rating!

    I am alerting the media!


    The Egel Nest

    By Blogger Bradley Egel, at 3/15/2006 2:41 PM  

  • HI Steve...sorry it has taken me so long to respond to you super nice e-mail. I'm not as loyal to my blog as I should be. I wanted to give you that list of foreign films to try. First let me say that I am a HUGE Audrey Tautou fan so ANYTHING with her I recommend. Here is my list and keep in mind some of these are quite tragic. But I am looking forward to your reviews.
    Goodbye Lenin
    The Machinist (loved this one!)It may not be foreign though.
    Y Tumama Tambien
    The Sea Inside
    The Motorcycle diaries
    Kitchen stories (very interesting)
    Since Otar left (tragic)
    L'Auberge Espagnola
    The story of the weeping camel (this is an AMAZING documentary, warning: may cause you or your wife to cry, especially since you have a baby)
    Lilya 4 ever (very tragic)
    Amores Perros (gruesome)

    Have fun...I'll check periodically for your reviews.
    Sincerely~ Janelle

    By Blogger Gabntute, at 3/27/2006 10:48 AM  

  • Umm...I don't mean e-mail...I meant comment on my blog. sorry

    By Blogger Gabntute, at 3/27/2006 10:50 AM  

  • Janelle,

    Thanks for the great movie recommendations. I've seen The Machinist (I liked it, but found the "twist ending" a bit predictable) and Y Tu Mama Tambien (loved it). I'll be adding the others to my Netflix queue. My queue is currently over 300 movies long, so it might take a while--although I tend to weave newer additions into the upper part of the queue. So hopefully it won't take TOO long!

    As I mentioned in my comments, I also love foreign films so I guess I should make a few recommendations of my own:

    Wings of Desire (dir. Wim Wenders)
    This is one of my all time favorite films. It's a gorgeous piece of work that works on several different levels--philosophical, political, romantic, etc. The stunning cinematography alone makes it worth watching. But be warned: this is not a fast-paced film, nor is it particularly plot-heavy (it's more a poem than a story). But if this type of thing interests you, it's an enormously rewarding film.

    Ikiru (dir. Akira Kurosawa)
    Kurosawa is one of the greatest of all film directors. This film (not a Samari period piece like some of his more famous works) is a very quiet, absolutely beautiful character study and a examination of post-occupation Japan. If you're unaccustomed to Japanese films or to Japanese culture in general, this might take some getting use to. But it's really a wonderful little movie.

    Cinema Paradiso (dir. Giuseppe Tornatore)
    You've probably already seen this. But if not, you should. It's wonderful.

    Ugetsu (dir. Kenji Mizoguchi)
    Feudal era Japan ghost story. Beautiful.

    City of God (dir. Katia Lund)
    Gang warfare in the Brazilian slums. One of the best new films I've seen in years.



    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 3/28/2006 10:18 AM  

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