Thursday, May 1, 2014

April Movie Status

I saw 13 new movies in the month of April.  I didn’t start or complete any new lists.

I am semi-actively working on the following lists: Oscar Best Picture Nominees, the six 101 [Genre] Films You Must See Before You Die lists, and They Shoot Pictures Don’t They.  All of these different lists can be seen by clicking on the names of them.  They link to my Lists from Chip posts on them.

Here are the 13 new movies I saw in April.  Highlighted films are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.

Oscar Nominees (0):

101 Genre (0):

TSPDT (3): A Short Film About Killing (1988), A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923), Port of Shadows (1938)

Other Movies (10): Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), An Amish Murder (2013), Escape Plan (2013), 30 for 30: You Don’t Know Bo (2012), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013), The Cheat (1915), 30 for 30: The Price of Gold (2014), A Case of You (2013), Admission (2013), Cloud Atlas (2012)

I saw so few films this month that I will just write a bit about each.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Shakycam invades the Marvel Universe.  Not as good a film as the first one, but this will be an important bridge to the movies that follow.  3 stars

An Amish Murder (2013) – This was a TV movie I happened upon just as it was starting.  It did a decent job with the story.  Overall, it was okay.  2.5 stars

Escape Plan (2013) – Schwarzenegger and Stallone finally do their own film together.  There were some good memories for a guy like me who saw just about every 80s action movie when they came to video.  Ultimately, the spark just wasn’t there.  This was an okay film.  2.5 stars

30 for 30: You Don’t Know Bo (2012) – Anyone not old enough to remember Bo Jackson should see this documentary.  He was the best natural athlete of the last several decades and this shows you why.  3 stars

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013) – The first one was entertaining enough, but this one falls a little flat.  Almost all the same characters are back, so if you have a favorite you’ll probably see them.  It was okay.  2.5 stars

A Short Film About Killing (1988) – More a “director’s cut” of the fifth Decalog episode than a real movie.  It has about 20 minutes extra, mostly spent with the lawyer, added to the TV episode.  While it adds more depth to that character I’m not sure that’s enough to recommend that anyone who has already seen the Decalog episode seek this movie out.  3 stars

The Cheat (1915) – D.W. Griffith film that plays on the stereotype of the Asian man out to prey on white women.  It’s daring for it’s time, though.  2.5 stars

30 for 30: The Price of Gold (2014) – I was sick of hearing about the whole Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding thing not long after it happened, so I hadn’t intended to watch this 20 year retrospective documentary.  I ended up being surprised that it kept my interest.  Much like people have forgotten that Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the murders of her parents, so too do people forget that the only thing Harding was ever found guilty of was finding out after the fact that her husband planned the attack and then not telling the police immediately.  3 stars

A Case of You (2013) – Independent film that treads much of the same familiar territory as big movie studio romantic comedies.  It was okay.  2.5 stars

Admission (2013) – This turned out to be a lot more serious than I expected.  The trailer had made it look like a rom-com.  It was okay.  2.5 stars

Cloud Atlas (2012) – A film that transcends space, time, race, and even gender.  Six stories that on the surface are unconnected in fact turn out to be intimately intertwined in many different ways.  Making it even better is that each of the six stories is presented in the style of other films in similar settings, from Moby Dick, to Merchant/Ivory films, to 70s political thrillers (with a dash of Shaft), to comedic old folks, to Logan's Run, to The Road Warrior.  It would have made my Top 10 of 2012 had I seen it before posting the list.  4.5 stars

A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923) – When is a Charlie Chaplin film not a Charlie Chaplin film?  When he puts a disclaimer at the front that he will not appear and that he instead wants to do a serious drama.  This is more melodrama than drama, but still effective enough.  3 stars

Port of Shadows (1938) – I was perhaps expecting too much from the team up of Marcel Carne (Children of Paradise) and Jean Gabin (Grand Illusion, La Bete Humaine), but this was still a decent movie.  3 stars


  1. Cloud Atlas tanked at the box office, in part because of mediocre critical reviews. I think a lot of people did it a disservice--it's still one of my favorites from 2012, and the fact that it somehow was overlooked for makeup, costuming, and score at the Oscars is damn near criminal.

    1. I think it's biggest "problem" may have been that if someone wanted to recommend it they couldn't describe it in a sentence or two, nor could the studio get the idea across in a 30 second TV trailer. I honestly don't know anyone other than "movie people" who pay much attention to professional critics. It's word of mouth that tends to get people to watch movies among my circle of friends/relatives.

      I hadn't thought about nominations, but I completely agree with you on all three. I'm sure the Academy didn't want to touch a film that used makeup to have white people playing Asians and Asian people playing whites.

  2. Chip-- You're incredible. I don't know how you do it. I was one of the few people who actually enjoyed 'Cloud Atlas.' It felt like a a scifi version of 'love actually.' I do think they overdid it a little with some of the gender bending/ethnicity bending roles. There a few roles that I thought could have been played by other actors. I think Halle Berry was best in the role of the journalist and the futuristic woman w/ Tom Hanks.

    1. Thanks! Those were Berry's two biggest roles so they allowed her to shine. I didn't even recognize her as the Asian male doctor, by the way.

  3. Thanks for turning me on to Cloud Atlas!

    I hope I didn't lead you astray on The Cheat. Actually, I thought the white woman was painted as darkly as the Asian man in a lot of ways. Also, it was interesting to see Cecil B. deMille directing something that was not an epic.

    1. I hope you like Cloud Atlas.

      I agree on the woman in The Cheat. I was trying to keep my comments short, so I didn't go into it. I don't regret watching it, if that was your concern.