Movie Diary

a) GasLand
I can be as weary of lefty issue-driven documentaries as anybody, and at first I didn't like the kind of dry artsy vibe of the director's visual aesthetic and voiceover. But I'm really glad I watched this because it really made me genuinely angry and shocked about something that's apparently been going on for years, and as a film it ended up holding up pretty well and staying riveting right through the end. I really hope this stirs some shit up and sets about some change in what the natural gas industry is getting away with. I feel like in a decade or two you'll be able to stock a whole film festival with movies explaining all the different horrible shit Dick Cheney is responsible for.

b) Clash Of The Titans
Took the wife to see this as an anniversary date, and she's enough of a Greek myth geek and fan of the original that she was somewhat disappointed in it, whereas I had no particular expectations and found myself really enjoying it. They fudge the mythology and make the story even more ridiculous, but in general it was just light enough and kind of worked. Plus they threw a bone to people like me who thought the mechanical owl was the coolest thing about the original. If you only see Gemma Arterton looking superhot in one swords'n'sandals epic this year, make it this one. I mean, just don't see Prince of Persia as a rule, regardless.

c) Pandorum
I don't even remember this movie ever coming out, so it was kind of a pleasant surprise to watch on cable and realize it was a pretty decent mid-sized sci-fi movie. The whole 'space madness' hook is a little played out but a lot of the premise was otherwise fairly creative, and it had a pretty good look and atmosphere.

d) Julie & Julia
The wife was watching this and I was ready to be all 'lol a blog turned into a movie,' but it was actually pretty involving. And, embarrassing as it is to admit, I thought the movie did a pretty good job of demonstrating how throwing yourself into a blog or a writing project can be a really fun way to explore an interest and reach out to likeminded individuals, and used a relative minimum of really tedious scenes of someone sitting at a computer to accomplish that.

e) The Proposal
I thought this had potential to be a decent rom com, but it turns out it's basically 90 minutes of Sandra Bullock being Ben Stiller in Meet The Parents with a lot of stupid transparent setups for corny embarrassment humor.

f) The Hangover
I'm still kind of mystified by how huge this movie was, like, it was pretty funny, and I feel like they knew when to escalate the premise in crazy ways (although, let's be honest, it's the same plot as Dude, Where's My Car? basically). But I mean like how did this movie blow up so instantly? I love Zach Galifianakis but I never expected him to be in a hit movie.

g) X-Men Origins: Wolverine
I'm generally a fan of the X-Men movie franchise, and am kinda pissed that Ratner ran it into the ground with the third installment, but spinoffs focusing on one character are a way better idea on paper than in practice. Even with a bunch of other mutants in the mix, this just feels kinda empty and dull compared to the other movies, or maybe I'm just not that big a fan of Wolverine? I feel like his origin story is only worth looking at as a quick flashback, fleshing it out with a whole movie is kind of a drag.

h) Monsters Vs. Aliens
This was pretty decent, cute idea and good voice cast, probably my favorite computer animated DreamWorks movie, but that doesn't really mean much coming from me.

i) Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Another non-Pixar computer animation that I like more than average, but still not all that much. At least Queen Latifah isn't in this movie as much as the 2nd one, though, she's seriously a comedy killer. Even with the way they explain the Dinosaurs I hate the fucked chronology implied by the title. The character voiced by Simon Pegg is pretty funny.

j) Choke
I like Clark Gregg as an actor, so I kinda wanted his directorial debut to be better than it was, although maybe a lot of my problems with it were from Palahniuk's story. Sam Rockwell's always enjoyable, though, and it had its moments.

k) Vicki Cristina Barcelona
The only difference between Woody Allen's critically acclaimed movies and his badly reviewed ones these days is that the former piss me off more just because I'm amazed people like them. This came out right after the absolutely terrible Cassandra's Dream, and has virtually all of the same problems and is only the slightest bit more enjoyable, but made a ton more money and got a ton more awards and good reviews. The movie kind of fills up with life when Penelope Cruz shows up, but that's like an hour into the movie and most of what comes before that is incredibly drab and dull, no matter how sexy or intriguing or thought-provoking it attempts to be.

l) Alpha Dog
This is the kind of movie that looks good in the trailer, but then you watch it and realize that they give you pretty much the entire story in the trailer, save for the very last (predictable) plot point, which is kind of frustrating. Trailer editors need to show more restraint these days.

m) Bigger Than The Sky
Very enjoyable little film, I love things like this that capture a small town vibe in a really evocative way.

n) Her Minor Thing
This is one of the most inept movies I've ever seen, but it stars onetime supermodel Estella Warren and she is still insanely hot so I watched it for a while.

o) Dark City
I think people who are convinced that The Matrix or Inception totally ripped this movie off need to chill, but I totally understand where those comparisons come from, and I really do wish this had been a big hit instead of The Matrix. Really great visual effects, nice noir vibe, some corny dialogue/plot stuff but not really moreso than with most sci-fi movies along these lines.

p) The Last Unicorn
My wife had talked about loving this movie for years and I thought it was some "My Little Pony" kinda thing, but then one day she was watching it and it's by the same people that did the animated The Hobbit and it's not bad, really.
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How to Train Your Dragon is far and away the best Dreamworks animated movie to date. You should check it out when it hits DVD.
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