The Shapiro Files

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Netflix Wrap-Up #14

Previous installments: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13

With moving, a very crazy workload at the office for the past couple months, and the general nuttiness of life, Marcie and I haven’t had a heck of a lot of time for our usual weekend Netflix movie nights. Yet we did somehow manage to squeeze in the odd movie viewing every now and then over the past few months to help us unwind amidst the chaos. So without further ado, here’s a quick summary/review of what has taken a spin in our DVD player since my last Netflix wrap-up in July:

The Weather Man (2005) - Good performances from Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine and some nice character moments sprinkled throughout. Otherwise a somewhat unmemorable film with unnecessary narration (quite the trend in 2005). My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Shopgirl (2005) - I read Steve Martin’s novella from which he based his screenplay for this film. I found it to be merely a passible read with a surprisingly smug tone. The film is actually a little better, although it employs unnecessary narration (see my comments for Weather Man above), which I’m guessing was an attempt to capture the spirit of the novella. The Claire Danes character is likable enough and Jason Schwarztman does a nice job at being both schmucky and sweet at the same time. Overall, moderately enjoyable but nothing special. My Netflix rating: 3 stars

The Ice Harvest (2005) - This should have been much better than it is. Helmed by Harold Ramis (of SCTV fame and director of Groundhog Day) and starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton, I was expecting a quirky and fresh take on the caper comedy. But quite surprisingly, I found the direction to be very generic and the pacing to be oddly lackadaisical — all making for a mostly by-the-book crime caper movie with a very predictable “twist” ending. It wasn’t even particularly funny. My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Waiting... (2005) - I knew going into it that this wasn’t going to be a great piece of filmmaking. But having worked in customer service for years (through much of high school and all of college) and having read Anthony Bourdain’s very entertaining restaurant industry tell-all book Kitchen Confidential a couple of years ago, I thought this film might produce a few laughs. And it did. It’s not high-comedy to say the least, but it does capture what it’s like to work with customers (almost always awful, by the way) and what life is like behind the scenes at a popular chain restaurant (and probably any restaurant). Not recommended for everyone, but if you’ve ever worked in customer service and don’t mind crude humor, this could be a fun rental. My Netflix rating: 3 stars

The Thing About My Folks (2005) - I love Peter Falk and am a sucker for dialogue-heavy Jewish family movies (if I can be so bold to label a genre of sorts), so I figured I’d give this Paul Reiser-penned film a try. As expected, the scenes in which Reiser and Falk just sit around and talk are sweet and often funny, but the rest of the film can be quite schmalzy (particularly the the third act) that it took away from the overall film. But ya still gotta love Peter Falk. My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Syriana (2005) - Yes, it’s complicated and potentially hard to follow if you’re not giving this film 110% of your attention. But I think that’s the idea. It’s simply not possible to talk about anything regarding the Middle East without immediately getting complicated. Powerful and very well-acted. My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Brick (2005) - A retro-noir thriller that features high school age characters in some very dark situations. The dialogue and acting are highly stylized and it’s an experiment that could easily fail. But amazingly, first-time writer/director Rian Johnson manages to make it work. I think it could be argued that the film is a little gimmicky for its own good, but it’s still a very impressive piece of filmmaking. My Netflix rating: 4 stars

My Date with Drew (2003) - A super-low-budget documentary about a charismatic regular guy named Brian Herzlinger trying to get a date with actress Drew Barrymore. Sure, it’s a very frivolous project, but the film manages to be funny, uplifting, and even moving. A real charmer. My Netflix rating: 4 stars

The Producers (2005) - The film adaptation of the stage adaptation of Mel Brooke’s classic 1968 film. You have to like Mel Brooks’ unique brand of broad comedy and politically incorrect humor to enjoy this film. And if you fall into that camp, there’s certainly much entertainment to be had in this film. But despite the impressive production values and hummable tunes, it doesn’t quite live up to the original. And as much as I really like Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, it’s impossible to top the brilliant Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel in the ‘68 film. My Netflix rating: 3 stars

The Office Special (2001) - A year after the brilliant BBC program The Office finished its run, the creators went back and produced a special two-part reunion special that managed to be just as brilliant as the original show. A wonderful conclusion to a fantastic show. My Netflix rating: 5 stars

2 Comments:

  • I was hesitant to watch "The Office" reunion show, because those types of shows so rarely deliver any of the originals' magic ... but you're definitely right about this one .. it was just as funny as ever, and definitely let the show go out on top

    By Blogger Reel Fanatic, at 11/07/2006 1:05 PM  

  • My date with drew was very enjoyable...Jody and I watched it together a while back. We also recently watched shopgirl...you were generous with your 3 stars. It was predictable and I agree with your narration...narration.. :)

    Hugs and kisses to the family Cous-

    Bradley
    The Egel Nest

    By Blogger Bradley Egel, at 11/08/2006 9:51 PM  

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