Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nine Days, Eleven Movies

I took the week off because I needed to be able to do things without deadlines (well, at least not with firm deadlines like the ones I have at work). When I scheduled the time off, I had no idea that I'd need it just to try to relax and feel better (more on that in another post). So, I decided to do just four things for my own pleasure:
  1. Sleep whenever I want.
  2. Watch movies (that Netflix queue isn't going to shrink on its own).
  3. Read (books & magazines).
  4. Work on my book (I did - and added 1,200 words - which is a LOT! You try it!)
I mixed it up with the movies. I saw a little bit of everything. I discovered movies to add to my favorite list. I discovered some I would have never checked out on my own. And I realized Netflix doesn't always know me well. Here's what I watched (with no spoilers - PROMISE):

(500) Days of Summer
This was a movie I was most excited to see all summer! I had moments where I thought, "Ugh. With all the 100+ degree days we've had, the LAST thing I want is 500 days of summer!" Then, I remembered the girl, played by Zooey Deschanel, is named Summer. I loved every bit of this quirky, funny, sweet movie. The writing was clever. The acting was great. The music was also awesome. Maybe it's because this was the first movie I saw on my nine day challenge, but it was my favorite of the week! Super cute - but not too girly. I recommend this one!

Gran Torino
I rented this because I just love Clint Eastwood. I never made it to the theater for this one (it seemed too long). Once I got over the shock of Eastwood's Korean War Veteran brashness - and prejudice - I realized he's a man in pain. I have been lucky in my life to have known few people who are like this character. Maybe it's Eastwood's raspy voice or his eyes that seem to reveal his kindness, but I couldn't help but hope he'd see the error of his ways. Great story. I hope he's around for a long time so I can see more movies like this.

I had been meaning to see this one for months. I finally made it and am happy to report it was worth the wait! I didn't look at the time, but I would say I first cried within the first 20 minutes of this animated film (and before you get all snarky, YES, I CRIED REAL TEARS). I also laughed a lot. This movie made me want to get a collar for my dog to allow me to hear what he's thinking. Not that I think my dog has anything profound to say, but I think it'd be nice to hear him say, "Where have you been? I missed you!" and "Yes. I was a good boy. Now, where's my treat?" This movie got me. It made me want to go out and find a cranky old person and force him/her to be my friend. Oh. Wait. I have grandparents. I suppose could just call them. I also think one of these days I'll learn not to see a kid-friendly film early in the day. It's kind of hard to concentrate when you hear kids shout, "OOOH! Balloons! Puppies!"

Away We Go
This was another one I put off going to see. I don't know why I did that. This was funny and sweet. It made me wish I was a little more adventurous - willing to just pick a place and move there and if it didn't work out, keep on mapping until I found the right one. It did not make me want to do that pregnant (I'm not so don't go looking for a registry or anything). This film shows that you never really know what someone else's life is like until they let you in. And once you see it, you might wish you had looked the other way. See this one!

A Very British Gangster
My brother told me I should watch this one. It's a documentary about this British gangster (duh). Now, at first, I thought, "Wow! He's robbed armored trucks! Sweet!" Then, I learned he's gay. As I watched the young boys who surrounded him I wondered if he might be interested in them less for their hooligan ways and more for what's in their pants. The police kept finding ways to arrest this guy and he kept managing to walk away from the charges - for the most part. I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if he tried to set up shop in the US. I would think he'd probably get smacked around a bit. I was kind of bored through this one. But I did have one favorite moment: there was this kid, probably in his late teens, who was the "singer" in this gangster family (apparently, they all have one of them). He said, "I sing at funerals, wedding and acquittals - mostly acquittals." Then, they showed him performing Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." Seriously. GAYEST. GANG. EVER.

Let The Right One In
Mike recommended this one. I remembered him telling me it was foreign when I added it to my Netflix queue, but forgot that by the time it arrived in the mail. It took me about 45 minutes to realize the movie I was watching was dubbed. Then, I was too lazy to change the settings so I could read the subtitles. Then, the voices became comical - young boys sounded like teenage girls. This is a vampire movie. It's not "True Blood" or "Twilight," but it was good. A boy is a bit odd and is bullied. His vampire friend helps him out. There are plenty of disgusting moments in this one. Oh, and apparently, it's being made into a TV series (of COURSE it is). Watch this one with the bar set low and you'll like it. Expecting vampires like you've seen before and you'll be a bit surprised.

Sexy Beast
This one was recommended by Netflix. My experience with the recommendation has been hit or miss (with more misses than hits). But when I saw Ben Kingsley was in this, I figured I couldn't go wrong - when is he NOT amazing in a movie? He was raw and nasty in this. I liked it. He plays a gangster who does not take no for an answer - probably helpful in that line of work. The language was off the charts here. I don't have a problem with that as I have a bit of a potty mouth, too. Maybe it's seeing Sir Ben talk like that that made me giggle, or maybe it's the good writing and acting. I don't know.

The Bridge
This was another Netflix recommendation. I don't know what I've watched that made them decide I should watch a documentary about suicides, but I agreed to watch it. It is shocking to see someone plummet to his/her death from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Hearing the stories behind some of the jumpers made them human. It was heartbreaking to hear the tales of mental illness from family members who tried desperately to help these people. I know there are thousands of people who cross that bridge every day and never jump. But I just don't know why they don't build some sort of structure to keep people from doing that. I know suicidal people will find a way, but this bridge seems to be an ending point for people at the end of their rope - when no suicide hotline will help. Sad to watch, but worth it.

Julie & Julia
Seeing this movie after that sad documentary was the highlight of my day! Meryl Streep could read the phone book to me and I'd be happy. But her portrayal of Julia Child was amazing! And Amy Adams is great (as usual) as Julia - a woman who challenges herself too cook Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year and blog about it daily. For some reason, I didn't think about having a snack before I went to the theatre. Julie (my friend, not the Amy Adams character) reminded me the movie is about food. Friends, don't do what I did! Put something in your belly before you see this one! My craving for chocolate cake was overwhelming. I have always admired that cookbook, but seeing everything movie Julie went through, I think I've done the right thing by leaving it in the book store. My novice kitchen skills would not be able to pull off those delicious looking dishes!

Funny People
I had really low expectations with this movie. I mean, you put the word "funny" in the title of something and it can only disappoint, right? Despite the cast of people who are funny, I still wasn't sure I'd laugh much during this one. I found myself feeling sorry for Adam Sandler's character through much of the movie. I thought the other people in the film were much funnier, especially Eric Bana. I mean, that guy's known for such serious parts. Who knew he could do funny? I laughed plenty, and not just at the parts that were in the trailer (which didn't exactly make me hold my sides in laughter). This was certainly not my favorite film of the week. I'd put it right in the middle. But I'm sure I'll watch it again - just not in the theatre.

The Soloist
Every time I see Robert Downey, Jr., in a film, I am shocked. I mean, this is a guy who shouldn't even be alive! Maybe it's because I like to root for the underdog (and with a life like his, I have to say, I'm rooting for him to stay alive and keep turning out great work). But I can't think of a single film where he has not made me smile - at least of the ones I've seen. But I have to say Jamie Foxx is so good in this one! I think I prefer him playing real people. Yeah. No more fiction for Jamie. Just people who have lived these crazy, interesting and amazing lives.

I have put quite a dent in that ol' Netflix queue. Some day, I'll really make progress - or at least keep cutting out movies that have no business on that list so that it's not obscene. I'm not telling you how many movies Netflix is holding for me. I'll just say that I could watch a movie every day of the year and still not get through it.

If you think you can do better at recommending movies than Netflix, let me know in the comments section.
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