Dawn of the Dead (1978)

"I've always felt that the real horror is next door to us, that the scariest monsters are our neighbors," filmmaker Geor
ge A. Romero said in an interview with Barnes & Noble.com. "It's been a theme throughout my work--to bring the horror into our own homes, to fill the stories with brand names that we all use, beers that we like to drink, streets that look like our own."

So what is this one about?
Netflix tells us,
Picking up where Night of the Living Dead left off, this classic horror flick from director George Romero begins with zombies taking over every major city in the United States. Running for their lives, Peter (Ken Foree), Roger (Scott Reiniger), Stephen (David Emge) and Frances (Gaylen Ross) find refuge in a remote shopping mall, only to discover they must fight a motorcycle gang as well as the undead ghouls.
Simple enough, right? However, anyone who knows me in real life will know, and as my facebook 'about me' section can attest, "I love zombie movies with social commentary." Romero is king of this. His Dawn of the Dead speaks to his classic theme of racial revolution--with the strong black hero; womens rights, consumerism, and good v. evil.

There is the immediate layer of zombies, and then the deeper social commentary layer. It is amazing.

And how much did I pay to watch?
This one was a Netflix-er. Over the past 30 days I have rented 13 movies (one of which was damaged and unwatchable). At a price of $16.99 per month that evens out to $1.30 per movie. Not too shabby.

And what did I think?
Man oh man. This may be a long entry. My love and admiration for George Romero grows more and more with each movie I see and each time I hear his opinion about his works. I even ordered two books about him (though one of them got lost in the mail, gd!)

I'm not quite sure where to start. Well, I'd seen this one before. I watched it about three years ago when I was really starting to get into zombie movies. It was really hard to find back in the days of scouring Blockbuster for those hard to find titles. I had seen Dawn of the Dead (2004) in the theatre when it came out and I really wanted to see the original. (I will eventually end up doing a Dawn of the Dead (2004) review because it is one of my most watched movies that I own). I was actually already familiar with Romero because my parents had shown me Night of the Living Dead when I was much younger (I know that seems weird, but it was ok because it isn't that scary of a movie, and as a 12 year old I think I just thought it was lame because it was black and white.) Dawn of the Dead (1978) was a real disappointment initially. My original netflix 2 cents review read, "the color of the blood and of the zombies skin is so weird and technicolor. its bizarre." This original critique still remains factually accurate. The zombies had a disturbing (not scary, just shoddy) blue-grey color, and the blood (which I learned from the commentary was made by 3-M) looked like a magenta paint.

See here...

And here.

The "special effects" may have seemed bizarre and comic book, but that is how Romero wanted them. He says the film was meant to be a satire. That is one of the themes of all his zombie movies.

His social commentary was just as good in this one as it was in Land of the Dead and, his new one, Diary of the Dead. My favorite Romero technique is his use of the strong black hero. He is from Pittsburgh, and in coal mining Pennsylvania I would imagine that there was not a lot of positivity surrounding black men. Romero has always used a strong black hero in his films to go against stereotypes and has had this character be the most capable, the most pragmatic, and the best leader of all the other characters in each film. This one was no different. Peter is the hero in this one. (Interestingly enough, he is also in the 2004 version of this film, saying the same famous line, "When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth", which I thought was beyond fabulous). He was also the realistic one.

One of the scenes I really liked in this film, for its social commentary, was a scene early in the movie. The four main characters are in a helicopter looking for a place to land or refuel. The pilot, Fly Boy, was commenting that they couldn't just land and take whatever they wanted like a bunch of scoundrel hooligans. Peter pipes up and says, "Wake up sucker! We're theives and we're bad guys. That's exactly who we are." This could be read simply in the plot, or it could be read into more deeply (in true grad student style). These four people have already killed dozens of 'people' (who are now zombies), they've left their friends behind so that they can save themselves, and they will do whatever it takes to survive. It is this casual blurring of the lines between good and bad that is one of the skills of Romero.

Another social commentary this movie makes is about the excesses of capitalism. The movie is obviously set in a mall. There were a few parts in the movie when characters were asking each other why and how the zombies managed to find their way to the mall. It was decided, and stated, that the mall had held a special value to them when they were alive. This, of course, speaks to the desire of most people in modern society to shop and own and consume things. Even in 1978 Romero was speaking to this. It is summed up fabulously in a scene where Peter and Roger have just run through the mall, and the horde of zombies, to make it to the JC Penney to pick up supplies. Once they get safely inside the store Roger asks "How are we gonna get back?" to which Peter gleefully replies, "Who the hell cares? Let's go shopping first!!" Even in a time of complete seriousness, the American urge to consume overpowers.

Romero also uses a motorcycle gang in the film to describe the desire to create chaos and destruction when the gang comes in, trashes the mall, and loots it for their personal gain (even though, in a land filled with zombies, what is the point...right??)

This version of Dawn of the Dead was part of a special dvd collection.... the Dawn of the Dead Ultimate Edition DVD. Each of the four discs and multiple versions of the film (including the much shorter European version) have commentaries by Romero. The one on this disc was fascinating, and because I'd already seen the movie, it was the part of this movie experience that I appreciated the most.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
It is nearly impossible for me to rate this movie objectively. As I said already, my love for Romero's films makes it hard for me to critique them in any sort of deep way. I recognized that the makeup and special effects were unimpressive, but I pushed that aside with the realization that it was only 1978.

I liked the 2004 version of this movie much more, because it was scarier, more fast paced, and more realistic (I mean, as much as a zombie movie can be). However, without Romero's original vision that version of the movie wouldn't exist.

It is the mastery of social commentary masked under a horror movie that makes Romero a truly brilliant film maker. It can be just a horror movie if thats what you want, but if you want to look deeper there are smart and controversial layers.

The television spot for Dawn of the Dead says the film "is a horrible, hauntingly accurate vision of the mindless excesses of a society gone mad." I think it is. On an intellectual level I would give this movie a 10. On a film level I would give this one a 5 or 6 (I had rated it a 3 on netflix [out of 5] originally). If I average those scores together I end up with an 8.

An 8 is a rating I feel absolutely comfortable with.

Be Kind Rewind

So what is this one about?
Netflix tells us,
When Jerry (Jack Black) accidentally magnetizes his brain, he inadvertently erases all the videos in the rental store his buddy Mike (Mos Def) runs. To please the store's loyal customers, Jerry and Mike set out to produce their own low-rent remakes of the erased films. Danny Glover, Mia Farrow and Paul Dinello also star in this imaginative comedy written and directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
However, I didn't put this one in my queue on netflix. I actually saw a commercial for this one on tv and that is what made me interested. The commercial did not explain anything in the netflix summary to me, and therefore it was WAY different than what I expected.
And how much did I pay to watch?
This was a Jack free rental from blockbuster. So, nothing.

And what did I think?
Well, like I said initally, this was very different from what I expected. I thought it would be a ridiculously funny movie about spoofing all types of films. I also had NO idea that Michel Gondry was the director. I love Eternal Sunshine (join the club, right??) and Science of Sleep. (Its actually tricky because I love Science of Sleep way more visually but I like the story of Eternal Sunshine). I think Gondry is a truly innovative and beautiful filmmaker. And once I knew the film was a Gondry it was very obvious in the plot line (I mean, magnetized brains...!!!) and the visuals (especially the scene with Jack Black's magnetic pee).

Expecting a really funny movie, I will admit I was a little disappointed. The plot line of remaking all the movies quickly took a backseat to the more serious plot line. The end was very uplifting and heart warming and all that gooey stuff, and it sort of felt like that time on Scrubs when Polyphonic Spree did a little number in the hospital room... which had a really joyous feeling. (I guess that song is from Eternal Sunshine, isn't it?)

As far as the cinematographic Gondry-isms there were some that were endearing. There were also those that detracted from the whole film. In Science of Sleep the use of cutting away to scenes of imagination added more to the movie. In Be Kind Rewind the use of cutting away to black and white movie clips, I feel, made the story convoluted and confusing. It almost felt like the entire film was two, or even three, separate stories put together. It was odd.

The dvd had a little mini documentary about filming the movie in Passaic, NJ which was very interesting and I though sweet of Gondry to do.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Like I already said, I really like Gondry, and I was pumped to see this movie. However, it didn't live up to my expectations, and I didn't think it was very well laid out in terms of narrative.

I give it a 5. A middle of the road, exactly average 5.


So what is this one about?
Wikipedia explains that stop-loss
in the United States military, is the involuntary extension of a service member's active duty service under the enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date. It also applies to the cessation of a permanent change of station (PCS) move for a member still in military service. Stop-loss was used immediately before and during the first Persian Gulf War. Since then, it has been used during American military deployments to Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the subsequent War on Terror.

The policy has been legally challenged several times, however federal courts have consistently found that military service members contractually agree that their term of service may be involuntarily extended.

So, Netflix describes Stop-Loss
After a tour in Iraq, decorated hero Sgt. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) returns home to his small Texas town and tries to readjust to civilian life. But when he's called up again as part of the military's controversial stop-loss program, he decides to go AWOL. Directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry), this poignant drama co-stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum as Brandon's war buddies and Timothy Olyphant as his superior officer.
And how much did I pay to watch?
You may or may not have noticed that I posted that this review was coming soon on July 7. Well, as you may or may not know Stop-Loss was released on July 8. So how did I swing this? One of the many perks of Jack working at Blockbuster (perks for me, not for him) is that he can get movies before they are out (I guess the store gets the shipment in a few weeks before they are released) and he can rent them before the 'public' can. So, he got me this one. For free.

And what did I think?
I have many thoughts about this film, but the one nagging at me the most has to do with Abbie Cornish, an actress in the movie who played Channing Tatum's (what sort of name is that?!) fiance. If you keep up on celebrity goss you may realize that Ms. Cornish was supposedly the catalyst for divorce between Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe. This seems mental to me, and apparently to the people at Idontlikeyouinthatway.com, because Abbie Cornish is busted. I mean, uggo. Wtf was he thinking? She has the unfortunate affliction of fat face/skinny body, whereas Reese is just hot! (On second thought, and while looking for an appropriate google image to link to "skinny body", Abbie Cornish just seems overall fat...I mean, not fat for a real person, but fat for a celebrity... yeah, I'm an asshole) BUT, I have veered way off course here. Back to serious movie reviewing.

Ok. I guess I felt it was unfortunate that the director, Kimberly Peirce went from the extraordinary Boys Don't Cry to Stop-Loss. I always feel a little bad when a director's first movie is so amazing that any other movie they make won't compare. I mean, how could this film compare to the other one? Answer: it couldn't. And I think I was waiting the whole movie for something that would make it stand higher than Boys Don't Cry--though of course we all know that would be absurd.

I also found the political message of the film to be convoluted and found myself asking over and over, "what is the message? what is the point?" Peirce said she wanted to make a movie from the soldier's points of view, but I guess their povs weren't communicated clearly enough. The end of the film left me wondering, "um, wait, why? what just happened?" and I think that was due to lack of a clear pov of Phillippe's character. Why did he make the decision he did? It just didn't seem to fit.

What Stop-Loss does do very well has to do with the actors. I've never really liked Ryan Phillippe because he isn't a very transformable actor. For example, when you watch someone like Chris Cooper you tend to forget it is Chris Cooper because he is good at transforming himself into the character he is playing. Russell Crowe is also ridiculously good at this. Ryan Phillippe can never convince me that he isn't Ryan Phillippe. So, it was shocking when I found myself really admiring his acting in this movie. He was really quite good (beside the end, which I think was a fault of Peirce's writing). Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great in his role (and it was exciting that his wife was played by Mamie Gummer--thats Meryl Streep's daughter for those playing along at home). Even the bizarrely named Channing Tatum was great. I'd say the acting was what saved this movie for me...or maybe it was the actors+their acting.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)

Like I've already said, this one was tough, because it was certainly no Boys Don't Cry. The acting was good, and I like the director, but the movie didn't really have a clear enough message. I think a movie like this is supposed to have some sort of point. Yes, the portrayal of young men (between 18-24 I'd say) destroyed by war was affecting, but you can see the same thing on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams every night. Its clear that war is destroying the men and women who go to fight. It almost doesn't even need to be said. What did need to be said though was some sort of stance on what is happening. I think as a film maker Peirce needed to clearly state, "This is wrong, look what it is doing to the kids who fight", but she didn't.

Because of its ambiguousness I give Stop-Loss a 6.


So what is this one about?
Well. In 1972 the Israeli Olympic team was murdered in the Olympic Village and Olympia Park in Munich, Germany.
Right here, in fact. (Thats the shadow of the Olympia Turin (Olympic Tower) you see and partial grounds of the Park)

Munich is based on actual events and tells the story of  the Palestinian terrorists [who] hold hostage and ultimately kill a group of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. In the tragic aftermath of the infamous murders, a Mossad agent (Eric Bana) tracks down the assassins. Ciaran Hinds and Geoffrey Rush co-star in this film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner (award-winning playwright of "Angels in America"). (Thanks Netflix!)

And how much did I pay to watch?
This one is tricky. Technically the answer is nothing because the dvd is my father's. However, I think I bought him the dvd for Christmas a few years ago. Not only that though because I saw the movie in the theatre with my mom when it came out, though I think she paid.

So, the answer is nothing, with explanation.

Oh yeah, and this is the second time I've seen it.

And what did I think?

Well, I think seeing it a second time was helpful. The first time I saw it I thought it was good, but I didn't think I caught everything. And now watching it a 2nd time there is still one part I think I may have missed.

Well, I thought it was very long. Clocking in at 2 hours and 44 minutes, its quite long. It hold attention for the most part, but nearly three hours is a lot to expect from an audience.

The cast was excellent, especially Eric Bana, who had a skillfully layered characterization. The music was beautiful and added suspense and sadness to the narrative. The cinematography was beautiful as well, with artistic (but not grotesquely so) shots that looked like photographs. The weaving of the scenes of what happened to the athletes at Munich into the narrative was skillful as well. Especially the last scene where Bana is making love to his wife while visualizing the deaths of the Israeli team. The build and climax of that scene coupled with Bana's tortured acting was brilliant. Just brilliant!

The last scene was the one that I still remain a bit confused about. Bana comes back to New York and lives in a state of constant fear that he is on a hit list somewhere for all the killings he perpetrated. The madness that he experiences was palpable and excellently acted. The last scene though, where he speaks with Geoffry Rush, is the one there could be some confusion about. [SPOILER ALERT...maybe] Bana asks Rush if there was any connection between the men he killed and what actually happened at Munich, and what Rush explains wasn't clear. Bana's reaction comes off as shock...as in he had killed all these men who had deserved to die, but not in retaliation for Munich. It was rather confusing.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
I will give this one a 7. The film was skillful, and the story of Munich is fascinating, but I think the long running time...and the thick accents, detract from it.

I would recommend it, but first I would recommend that you get your historical background surrounding the events of Munich well established. I'd check out wikipedia's page, for starters.

La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher)

So what is this one about?
Well, it was the Netflix description that made me interested in renting this one. (You know, I think with the way I am constantly extolling the virtues of Netflix they should like, I dunno, pay me for my spokesperson skillz.) Another thing that is great about the flix is that they have recommendations like "Since you liked _____, you'll probably like_______" and this movie was suggested for me.

Anyway, the description says, Isabelle Huppert stars as Erika, an emotionally repressed piano teacher still tied to her obsessive mother (Annie Girardot) and fast approaching spinsterhood. When an attractive student (Benoit Magimel) in her class becomes smitten with her, Erika sees him as a potential player in her dark sexual fantasies. Huppert is fascinating to watch in this disturbing character study based on Nobel Literature Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek's novel.

I guess they were fairly accurate in their suggestion.

And how much did I pay to watch?
Since June 10th I have gotten 16 dvds out from Netflix. At $16.99 per month I am averaging $1.06 per disc so far this month. However. It isn't over yet!!

And what did I think?
Well, well, well. Huppert was in fact fascinating to watch in this film. 

I think the film really worked as a character study in madness. Huppert said in the commentary that she thought the film was about romance/love and seduction, and I think thats accurate, but I think I'd add madness to the categories too. Erika was a straighlaced, incredibly uptight woman who was in a bizarre relationship with her mother. As a 40 year old she not only still lived with her mother, but was constantly having to justify where she was, where she was going, and what she was doing. To add to the weirdness...and I mean really add to it, she shared a bed with her mother. I assume that upon her father's death her mother told her to sleep in his space in the bed.

Like anyone who is so beholdent to their mother when they are adults, Erika had a secret side. She frequented sex shops, watched couples making out at drive in movies, and had dark fantasies involving domination, humiliation, and pain. These vignettes were stark comparisons to when she was acting as a controlling and overly demanding piano teacher. In one scene [SPOILER ALERT] when she goes into one of those movie watching booths at a porn shop, she watches a porno movie and takes a used tissue out of the trash inside the booth (with, well, you know what is on the tissue) and holds it over her nose and mouth while watching the movie. Her dark fantasies go from this point.

Once her student shows interest in her she resists. Huppert explained that the character wanted romance and not seduction, and that is why she always struggled to be in control. Once she saw that she could control her boyfriend she let him in on all her fantasies (rape, battery, humiliation...etc) and he was horrified. When he rejected her she flipped out. From there the movie switches to a focus on the madness that one can go through when the person they love rejects them. Boy, she does a lot of things to win him back, with horrible results.

The last scene of the film brings the whole movie to a new level. It was so amazing I actually verbalized "holy shit". It was amazing!!

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
This film was totally not for everyone. From the description you should be able to tell if you could watch this one, but if you think you can I would absolutely recommend it. There were scenes in the movie that were very uncomfortable to watch, but they were crucial to the climax of the film.

As I said, the last scene just made the film. It was extraordinary. I rate it a 7.5-8. It was really very good.


So what is this one about?

HBO describes their documentary like this,
Eating disorders affect five million people in the U.S., and more than 10% of those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa will die from the disease. Seeking to put a human face on these sobering statistics, acclaimed photographer Lauren Greenfield went inside a Florida treatment center to tell the stories of four women who are literally dying to be thin. The devastating HBO documentary THIN reveals what she found there - and explores the issues underlying their illness.
And they describe the four women followed in the film,
Brittany is a 15- year-old striving to be thin in order to gain acceptance among her peers; her struggle with eating disorders originated when she was eight, first as an over-eater, then as an anorexic and bulimic. Shelly, 25, has battled anorexia for six years, and enters Renfrew with a feeding tube surgically implanted in her stomach. Alisa, 30, is a divorced mother of two who arrives at Renfrew following five hospital stays in three months and claims she doesn't want to recover. Polly, 29, has spent years in and out of treatment and often challenges the center's policies and procedures.
And how much did I pay to watch?
Netflix. (I've gotten a really good per dvd price this month because I've watched so many of them)

And what did I think?
I've really been thinking about how I can review this movie and not sound like a terrible, evil, thoughtless wench. But, I haven't really figured it out...so let the bitchiness begin!!

Well, lets do the positives first. I thought the documentary did a good job of explaining to people who don't know what an eating disorder is like. The stark images of skeletal women who think they are massively obese was well done and powerful while not beating the audience over the head. The narrative of the story and the path it followed was good (it followed the women for 6 months) also. I watched the deleted scenes on the HBO website and they should have been added to the film (I think) because they would have added a more complete documentary story for the audience.

Unfortunately there were some parts of the documentary that I really hated. And I realize its gonna make me sound really bad to say it, BUT, two of the women followed in the story were just horrible. I mean, THE WORST. Brittany was the worst, by far, but Shelly was really irritating too. That being said, the other two women were very sympathetic characters and ones that I feel the audience could really relate to. Once again, I'll start with the two good 'characters' first. Polly and Alisa were sympathetic because as an audience we could see that they really did want to get better. I guess the problem is that once the eating disorder grabbed onto them it was really hard for them to be released from it. Despite being told at the end of the film that once both women were released from the center they relapsed I think everyone would still hold out hope that they'd do better the next time. In the case of Alisa [SPOILER ALERT!!!] she relapsed and then successfully was treated, but in the case of Polly, despite having the most hopeful "once we stopped filming" update the HBO told me that she ended up committing suicide.

Now, onto the other two. Man, Brittany was horrible. I mean, yes, she is 15, but COME ON! She came to the facility because she'd been hospitalized and her hair was falling out. When your hair starts to fall out of your head when you're only 15 YOU'VE GOT A REAL PROBLEM! And despite all the positive advise she got from all the other patients who were older than her and had been battling an ed for as long as she'd been alive she just didn't get it. A climax scene was a 28 year old telling her how she (the 28 year old) wishes her whole life had been different, that she hadn't lost her life to an eating disorder...and all Brittany could do was sit there and moan and cry about how she just wanted to be thin like all the other thin girls she sees. She sits there crying that she'll never be thin enough. Now, granted Brittany's mom had/has an ED and thats where she got it from, but in that moment when her tears sent eyeliner streaks down her 15 year old face all I could think was, "you know, you'll end up dying from anorexia and you'll totally deserve it." I mean, if she was so unwilling to listen to anyone and be so singularly concerned with her weight, I mean, what else does she have to live for?!

Shelly was a little more annoying that Brittany because she was like 25. I mean, 15 year olds are stupid, but its sort of expected. Shelly just couldn't pull herself together. Whine, whine, whine about how she thought her twin sister was so much better than her and thats why she has an eating disorder. Its callous of me to say that because I have no idea how these things come up, but she just didn't take her own recovery seriously. She had had a feeding tub installed in her stomach because she couldn't eat and when she had to get it removed she was mourning the loss of an easy method of pulling food out of her stomach. I mean, someone who feels that was is obviously not serious about recovery. She left the facility, relapsed, and, bizarrely, got married.

And I think to myself....why? It was odd because it was never mentioned in the film that she was dating someone, and once again, it just demonstrated to me that recovery wasn't important.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Its probably pretty clear that I didn't care for the characters in this movie. And my real horror and disgust with Brittany basically ruined the movie for me. I mean, what was it supposed to show me? That some get better and some don't? I guess that is what it was supposed to communicate... but I didn't leave with any sort of positive feeling. Its like when the intervention doesn't work on Intervention. All you can do is shake your head and be dissappointed that it didn't take.

The movie wasn't that bad, it wasn't, but it wasn't that good. I am going to generously give it a 4, because as I was writing I was just more and more convinced that the movie was bad. I'm getting characters confused with the film itself, which was sufficient.

Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door

coming sooSo what is this one about?
Netflix explains,
Inspired by true events, this thriller set in 1958 follows the harrowing story of two adolescent girls (Blythe Auffarth, Madeline Taylor), who upon losing their parents in an accident are sent to live with their Aunt Ruth (Blanche Baker), a sadistic psychopath. Unbeknownst to the residents of the small New Jersey suburb, the girls endure unthinkable punishment at the hands of their aunt and three cousins.
The movie is based on a book by, wait for it, Jack Ketchum.

And how much did I pay to watch?
Again, it was part of my netflix.

And what did I think?
Well, I was looking at some reviews of both the movie and the book and there seemed to be some consensus that a book like this shouldn't be made into a movie. The material in the book is sort of sick, and to see it visually in a movie could be disturbing. Additionally, a lot of people seemed to think that there was no sort of redeeming message that could be taken from the movie once it was made.

I've been having a real tough time trying to figure out how to process all these movies I've been watching. You may have figured out that I haven't been able to immediately write the review once I've watched the film. In the case of this one I think I waited about a week to think through it and write it. The hard part is making sure that someone else's review doesn't color what I write in mine. But thats enough about that...I just wanted to say that its something that I have to contend with.

Ok. So, The Girl Next Door. The thing that was totally amazing about this movie was what it communicated about the way children act when adults either encourage then, or at least don't step in to stop them. Aunt Ruth was truly sadistic, but she was played as a real true believer. Her shaming and humiliation of the older sister, Meg, came across as Aunt Ruth really beleiving that by shaming and humiliating, that she would break Meg of some sort of nasty habits. You know, like when you wash out a kid's mouth with soap they'll think again before they do the same bad thing again. (Not that I have experience with either washing out mouths with soap, or getting my mouth washed out with soap, but I understand what the concept is supposed to do). The problem for Meg was that she wasn't doing anything wrong.

With Aunt Ruth leading the charge against Meg it was fascinating to see her children, and the other neighborhood children, rally to Ruth's cause and participate in and encourage the cruel treatment towards Meg and her sister, Susan. It was incredibly Lord of the Flies, and demonstrated the singular strength of the film--the visual creation of cruel group mentality and communicating the importance of adults setting limits for children.

Oh yeah, and the one good kid in the movie, David, was totally cute. He was such a sweet kid.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
I sort of agree that it was unnecessary to make this book into a film, but overall it wasn't so bad. I wouldn't watch it again because some of the torture scenes are extremely uncomfortable and just flat out sickening, but I did appreciate it once I sat down to think about it.

I'll give it a 5.


Get Smart

So, what is this one about?
When the identities of secret agents from Control are compromised, the Chief (Alan Arkin) promotes hapless but eager analyst Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) and teams him with stylish, capable Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), the only spy whose cover remains intact. Now, they must work together to thwart the evil plans of KAOS and its crafty operative Siegfried (Terence Stamp). Based on the classic television show, this comedy caper co-stars The Rock.

And how much did I pay to watch?

Nothing, because it was Lori's treat for me and my mom.

And what did I think?

I thought it was fine. Yeah, just fine. I know it isn't a glowing initial response, but it wasn't really that amazing.

Steve Carell plays one character in everything he does. Now, fortunately for me, I like that character so I have no problem seeing it all the time. You know, Steve Carell in The Daily Show and Anchorman are really the roles that are different, so maybe they deserve all the credit. But, I am getting off topic. Really the movie was fine. Maxwell Smart was the nice guy that Michael Scott is (you know, underneath all of his nonsense) and it made the character very likeable.

Seeing a love connection between Carell and Hathaway was actually disturbing. Carell, in an interview in In Style (crap, or maybe it was in People) said that it was weird that he played a character who got to kiss a woman, and I totally agree. I mean, Carell is a handsome guy and totally loveable, but a leading man type....not really. not at all.

There were some laughs, Alan Arkin was especially funny, but nothing earth shattering. I liked the little bit of DC backdrop and I liked that KAOS was gonna blow up Los Angeles. I liked the scenes in Russia...though I'm going to venture a guess and say that the countryside is not nearly as nicely manicured in real life. And I liked that one of the bad buys was from the former Yugoslavia. I think he might have even been Albanian...though Serbian would have been more accurate.  HA!

So, what is the rating? (out of 10)
It was really a fine movie. Not like, "man, that is fine tailoring on that coat!" but fine like "How are you today?" "I'm fine" fine. It got a 3 out of 5 on Netflix, but I'll give it a 6 here because of my love for Steve Carell.


So, what is this one about?
As if anyone doesn't know what this movie is about. I mean, it was terribly popular. In case you've been under a rock or living abroad I will tell you. Or, Netflix will.

Facing an unplanned pregnancy, teenage Juno (Ellen Page) devises a plan to locate the proverbial perfect parents to adopt her baby. But the seemingly ideal couple Juno chooses still has some growing up to do. Now, everyone in Juno's world must do a little soul-searching. Michael Cera co-stars while Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner play the pair of affluent yuppies anxious for a child in this offbeat coming-of-age comedy, which won the 2008 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

And how much did I pay to watch?
Netflix. But, I did watch this in the theatres when it first came out** However, because I didn't really pay for it this time (it wasn't even my netflix, but rather, my fathers) it doesn't count for anything.

And what did I think?
Well, when I first saw this one I thought it was pretty great. Then the more I saw on TV about how it was the greatest movie in the history of mankind and all that nonsense I became less enamored of it. It started to get really annoying. Much like how my opinion changed about Brokeback Mountain for the same reason. Marketers...take notice!!

My main initial reaction to the movie remained when I saw it for the second time. When I first saw this one I was really impressed with Jennifer Garner. I thought her portrayal of a wannabe mother was very affecting and layered. You really saw in her that she was trying to hold back her emotions but she was very tortured. I thought this was very impressive. I mean, VERY impressive. I went so far as to say she should have been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress. No matter though.

Upon second watching I found Juno very annoying (the character, not the movie). She is really selfish and hateful, and as my mother pointed out, pushing people away with her 'whatever' attitude. She was so hateful to Bleeker and it was really irritating. She got upset, but she brought it on herself. Maybe I'm being too hard, because after all, she was supposed to be like 16. I guess her change in the movie speaks to the talent of her acting and the writing of stripclub mcgee (diablo cody, i mean). So, kudos.

Also, really, isn't Michael Cera too cute? He is, and you know it!

So, what is the rating? (out of 10)
I initally rated this one 5 stars on Netflix. But I think thats inaccurate. So, now it is a 4 star movie for me. That makes it an 8 on the 10 scale. So I'll stick with that.

The 8, as I said, really comes from the over advertising and inflated sense of amazingness that was in the media. I mean, really, its not that great. The Pianist was that great. Get over yourself Juno.

**a note. I decided that I would put all the movies that I watch on this blog. That means I will probably review movies I have already seen. I will probably end up reviewing ones that I love and own and have seen dozens of times. Afterall, the point of the blog was to figure out how many movies I watch and how much I spend on them. So, in case I watch a movie I have already reviewed I will simply link to the old entry. I probably wont do this with TV shows though...because I usually just watch a few episodes at a time instead of watching a whole season like I do when I have the dvds for short time. And this blog isn't about tv, its about movies. and how much of a nerd I am, because I watch so many of them.