The Shapiro Files

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Netflix Weekend Wrap-Up #10

Previous installments: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9

Over the past two weekends, Marcie and I managed to squeeze in a whopping five DVDs (three over Memorial Day weekend and two over the past weekend) — all part of the seemingly never-ending list of 2005 releases we didn’t get around to seeing while in theaters:

Brokeback Mountain (2005) - Early this year, Irina posted a couple of blog entries about being invited to see this film but was reluctant to accept the invitation due to her discomfort with its subject matter. To her great credit, she decided to give it a chance anyway but came away from it unimpressed. She felt the love story was trite and added that if the film simply had a man and woman as its protagonists (but otherwise kept the same plot), it wouldn’t have gotten the praise it has. Now that I’ve seen the film, I can finally respond address Irina’s comments by saying that the love story itself really isn’t the point of the film. It’s a portrait of two people living in a time/society (which is pretty much unchanged today) that not only condemns their relationship, but brutally punishes it. In other words, this is a film about prejudice, not love. And I think the movie tells this story very well. The characters are complex (neither of the leading men are perfect — far from it), the direction appropriately slow and deliberate, and the writing very strong. Add to all this the beautiful cinematography and strong performances and you have a pretty good movie. Was it a little overrated? Maybe a tad. But Ang Lee deserved his Oscar and the film its success. My Netflix rating: 4 stars

In Her Shoes (2005) - Marcie has very justifiably complained that I rent too many DVDs that only I would like. So to start making amends, I Netflixed this little Cameron Diaz vehicle that got relatively decent reviews when it came out. Unfortunately, we were both disappointed. Neither of us hated the film with much vehemence, but we had similar complaints. The Cameron Diaz character was so broadly drawn, so over the top, that we just didn’t buy her at all. Even worse, the film took too many narrative shortcuts. The only really redeeming thing about this movie is Shirley MacLaine who elevates just about everything she’s in. My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005) - Beautiful photographed, well acted, and appropriately brief (93 minutes) to make its point but not overstay its welcome. Sure it crosses the line between illustrative and didactic at times, but it otherwise tells a compelling story about a very interesting time in relatively recent U.S. history (a period we’re on the verge of reliving at present). My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Match Point (2005) - Woody Allen’s films are all essentially variations on the same themes (adultery, crime, intellect versus instinct, identity, etc.) and this film is no exception. Often, everything comes together to make a masterpiece (Crimes and Misdemeanors, Manhattan, Annie Hall, etc.) and other times he’ll have near-misses (Alice, Celebrity, etc.). I’m glad to say that Match Point very much falls in to the category of films where all the elements come together perfectly. The only negative thing I can really say about the film is that it’s extremely reminiscent of Crimes and Misdemeanors. In fact, if I hadn’t seen that earlier film (my very favorite of Allen’s entire oeuvre), I’d probably declare this film a masterpiece. Instead, I’ll just say it’s one of his best films in years. My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) - A cute and quirky little independent film written and directed by the cute and quirky Miranda July (who also stars). I don’t have a heck of a lot else to say about the film other than it’s enjoyable enough; although I think July tries a little too hard to make every character a little more offbeat than they need to be. I also think the “modern art” her character creates is a bit silly. But these are only minor quibbles. The acting was good (especially the children actors) and the theme about the disconnected nature of the modern world was moderately interesting, if not terribly original. My Netflix rating: 3 stars

2 Comments:

  • Some of these sound good...I saw a couple..

    You peaked my interest with your review of Match Point...sounds awesome...

    Bradley
    The Egel Nest

    By Blogger Bradley Egel, at 6/09/2006 5:33 AM  

  • I hope you like Match Point as much as we did. However, if you haven't seen Crimes and Misdemeanors, then that is definitely the "must see" Woody Allen film!

    -Steve

    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 6/09/2006 10:10 AM  

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