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Week in Review: 5/25/14

Movies I Watched in the Last Week

1) Thor 2: The Dark World - I find it harder and harder to give a shit about comic book movies lately.  It's like the only part of my life where I can feel myself turning into a grumpy old man.  Music, fashion, food, politics, etc. - changing trends don't bother me anywhere else.  But this cynical obsession with comic book movies over the last five years?  Somebody get me a cane so I can wave it at young people and tell them about the good ol' days when heroes actually had challenges and there was tension in their conflicts.  Anyway, this movie was pretty boring.

My Rating:  2 / 5

2) Grand Piano - I always enjoy a well-crafted thriller even when the premise is ludicrous.  Sometimes I enjoy them because the premise is ludicrous.  Grand Piano, a movie about a guy who needs to play the piano perfectly while at gunpoint, is one of the better entries in this genre I've seen in the last few years.  The director totally understands why movies work and he gets straight to the point.  It's a concise, powerful little wallop dressed up in a far-fetched and silly outfit.  Great stuff.

My Rating: 4 / 5

3) Snow White: A Tale of Terror - Really I only watched this because it was a movie from the '90s that had both Sigourney Weaver and Sam Neill in it and I'd never heard of it before.  Turns out it was pretty dumb.  It's a precursor to the current trend of making Dark Fairy Tales, by which I mean it's a terribly bland retelling of a story that isn't that good to begin with.  Although you can have some fun if you watch it as the tragic story of a stepmother who is driven to insanity by a combination of post-partum depression and a bratty, unloving stepchild.

My Rating:  2.5 / 5

4) Jack Reacher - This is the perfect kind of movie to watch on a Sunday evening when you're feeling a little bit cranky about having to go back to work the next day.  You'll be in a foul mood with low expectations and you might be thinking, "Great, another cookie-cutter cop movie based on a series of pulp novels that I don't care about.  Ho-hum."   And then you watch it and realize it's actually a pretty great thriller that's far more clever than you ever predicted with excellent performances all around.  It's a shame they decided to use a picture of Tom Cruise standing in front of an American flag as the cover - that's about as misleading an image for this movie as I can think of.

My Rating:  4 / 5

5) Terms and Conditions May Apply - Add this to the "Important Things You Should Know That Will Also Outrage You" subgenre of documentaries.  It's like taking some awful-tasting cough syrup.  You know it's good for you even if it'll go down rough.  TaCMA is a fascinating exploration of privacy issues in the electronic world - or, in other words, it goes over all the important topics that a lot of us seem to shrug and say we don't care about.  If you've ever felt like sharing your information with big companies isn't a big deal, you are the exact sort of person that needs to see this.

On a related note, please don't block me, Google.  I wish you well.

My Rating:  4 / 5

6) Enter the Void - Netflix guessed I probably wouldn't like this.  "You're going to think it's too long and tedious to watch," it told me.  But I said, "I heard it had pretty pictures in it.  I want to see the pretty pictures."  And then Netflix groaned and said, "Alright, but don't say we didn't warn you."

I didn't like this.  Even though it had pretty pictures in it.

My Rating:  2 / 5

7) Dead Man Down - This was kind of a bland movie.  I only saw it six days ago and I've already forgotten all the key details.  I do remember that Noomi Rapace had some scar makeup on and she was supposed to be this tragically disfigured character that nobody could find beautiful, but I kept thinking, "Bullshit, movie.  It's Noomi Rapace."  On the other hand, even though I can't remember much, I don't remember hating it at all, so this is pretty much the definition of a middle-of-the-road rating.

My Rating:  3 / 5

8) Ong Bak 2 - Ong Bak 2 has nothing to do with Ong Bak, kind of like how Drunken Master 2 doesn't really have that much to do with Drunken Master.  The producers were just brainstorming and said, "It would be more successful if we put the words Ong Bak in the title."  It's especially bizarre since this movie is actually the first part of a two-movie series, so you kind of wonder why they didn't just call it "Something Else, Part 1."  I had no idea until the movie abruptly ended on a cliffhanger.  I guess that means their ruse worked, because even though I didn't think this movie was an overall great one, I'm definitely going to watch part three sometime.

My Rating:  3 / 5

9) Bronson - This is my favorite Nicolas Winding Refn movie so far.  I've generally liked what I've seen, but some of his trademarks - handheld camerawork, long, meditative shots, exaggerated characters - can wear down on me.  This is the first movie of his I've seen where all of it really felt appropriate.  Tom Hardy is fantastic at playing a role that is alternately hilarious and terrifying.  A great movie.

My Rating:  5 / 5

10) Man of Tai Chi - I wanted to like this a lot more.  It's a silly martial arts movie about a guy who gets drawn into the criminal underworld and then defiantly fights back against it.  It's the perfect premise for a lot of scenes of ass-kicking and overblown melodrama.  But the fight scenes often end up being too short and a little bit dull.  I did like Keanu's turn at being a villain, though.  He doesn't do that often enough.

My Rating:  2.5 / 5

Total: 10 Movies

Minutes I Spent Writing in the Last Week

1) Born Loser - About 3.5 hours of writing.  (Current draft length: 30,000 words)

Total: 3.5 Hours

The Winner:  Movies...

Memorial Day weekend is pretty much meant for movies, so it's not that surprising that things have panned out this way.  Hopefully I'll get a nice run of words in tomorrow in between housework and chores.