The Shapiro Files

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Netflix Weekend Wrap-Up #11

Previous installments: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10

Combining a couple of DVDs I watched in the effort to avoid getting too lonely during Marcie’s business trip last week with a couple of movies we watched together over the weekend upon her’s return, here’s yet another quadruple Netflix DVD wrap-up:

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) - I loved C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books as a kid and even had the pleasure of acting in a stage production of Wardrobe a couple of years ago. So I was very interested in seeing how this new film adaptation would fare given my affection of the material. For the most part, I think it’s a pretty decent adaptation but with some considerable flaws — the largest being the filmmakers’ insistence on beefing up the action. The film also tried far too hard to be another Lord of the Rings — all the way down to the depiction of the epic battle (of course, LOTR’s effects company WETA did play a pretty big role in the film’s production). But on the plus side, I liked the extended introduction showing how the kids ended up at the professor’s house and the largely faithful adherence to the novel (although I hated the truly unnecessary addition of the wild river ride sequence). My Netflix rating: 3 stars

History of Violence (2005) - David Cronenberg is probably best known for his socially-conscious genre films. This was a rare experiment for Cronenberg to make a film of someone else’s script and to do it in a relatively commercial manner. Fortunately, he mostly succeeds with a very interesting story about identity and yes, violence. I don’t want to give too much away, as part of the pleasure of the film is not knowing exactly the nature of the protagonist (Viggo Mortensen) and his mysterious visitor (Ed Harris). The film unfortunately takes a wrong step in third act (especially William Hurt’s scenery-chewing performance), but this was still a very compelling film overall. My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Pride and Prejudice (2005) - This was another DVD I rented more for Marcie* than for myself — although, as it’s a film based on a classic novel, I figured it would have some merit. I enjoyed the beautiful cinematography (especially some of the extended “roving camera” sequences) and enjoyed Donald Sutherland’s performance. But otherwise, the problem with a film like this is that its source material is very much a predecessor to today’s mainstream romantic comedies. As such, the film’s plot couldn’t have been more predictable. But you pretty much have to set that aside if you’re going to derive any enjoyment from this movie — something I couldn’t fully bring myself to do. Nonetheless, my rating reflects a combination of my own response to the film plus what I imagine fans of the novel would think (I’m guessing they’d like the movie). Thus... My Netflix rating: 3 stars

*As it turns out, Marcie fell asleep about halfway through and didn’t seem to care too much for the half she watched.

The Squid and the Whale (2005) - An excellent portrayal of divorce and its impact on children by writer/director Noah Baumbach (writing somewhat autobiographically). As the film takes place in the 80’s, it really hit close to home for me, as my parents divorced during that decade. What’s nice about this film is that it could have been a complete downer, but there’s lots of situation-appropriate humor sprinkled throughout. The performances were uniformly strong (Jeff Daniels and Jesse Elsenberg in particular) and the dialog was quite rich. In all, a great character study and a moving look at a painful subject. My Netflix rating: 5 stars


  • Happy Father's Day!

    By Blogger Irina Tsukerman, at 6/18/2006 7:45 AM  

  • Cous -

    I have to watch 2 of those still...I am glad you reviewed History Of Violence pretty well...I was unsure if it was worth a viewing...I will do it now :)

    The Egel Nest

    By Blogger Bradley Egel, at 6/19/2006 10:30 PM  

  • Thanks, Irinia, for the Father's Day greeting!

    Brad, I hope you won't be disappointed by History of Violence. I mostly enjoyed it, but everyone's taste is different. That's always the risky part of recommending films. I'll be anxious to know what you think!

    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 6/20/2006 9:46 AM  

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