Friday, December 04, 2009

Accounting for Myself

Ever since Nerve dropped Screengrab like the proverbial bad habit this past May, I’ve struggled to continue my once-impressive output. Part of the reason for that is financial- I was getting paid for it before, and now that I’m working strictly pro bono it becomes that much harder to write for free than it was in the past. Consequently, it’s simply easier to occupy my time with other pursuits. As you know, I moved in with Angela and the Offspring this summer, and it’s been everything I’d hoped for. Not always easy, of course, but I’m certainly not having second thoughts about the decision.

In addition to the new demands of live-in boyfriend-hood and quasi-fatherhood, I’ve also been busy with some other pursuits. In January, I started taking college courses part-time, in the evenings and on weekends. I earned my B.A. back in 2001, but I have yet to do anything in my major field of study (Humanities, so duh), and now that I’ve got more financial responsibilities on my plate than I had before, I figured that it was time to go back to school to study something I can actually make a little money doing. So I’m studying Accounting, with the goal of becoming a CPA.

I hinted at this decision back in February when I resigned my post as head honcho of the Muriels- though I’m staying on in a consigliere-esque role- but I’ve kept mum on the details until now since I didn’t want to mention it until I was sure that I could actually handle it. It was a struggle at first, but I’ve been working hard and have gotten good grades to show for it, and it looks like I’ll be seeing this thing through to the end.

Since returning to school, I always hoped that I might be able to find time to keep the blog going as I once did, but seeing as how I’ve written only a handful of reviews since Screengrab folded, it looks like that isn’t going to happen. But in the interest of giving my fans some thoughts on the movies I’ve been seeing, I recently settled upon a solution- micro-reviews. That’s right- all of the 2009 releases I’ve seen will be compacted, processed, and packaged into an easily digestible ten-word format for your reading pleasure and critical enlightenment. In some cases, I’d like to think I captured the essence of these movies- or my feelings about them, anyway- with haiku-like precision. However, in others I couldn’t resist the urge to get a little silly.

Anyway, hope you enjoy. In a handful of instances, I've linked to longer piecesI've written about the films, or work by others that dovetails nicely with my own opinions. See if you can find them all!

In kinda-sorta-alphabetical order:

17 Again (Steers)- Remember, kids- follow your dreams, or you’ll become Matthew Perry. [5]

24 City (Jia)- Sorry, Jia fanboys. He doesn’t excite me. Maybe next time… [6]

500 Days of Summer (Webb)- Half insightful relationship tale, half cutesy bullshit. Good enough for me. [6]

Adoration (Egoyan)- Second-tier Egoyan, but in his classic style. I’m down. [6]

Angels and Demons (Howard)- Outpaces Da Vinci by embracing its ridiculousness. Still not great. [5]

Away We Go (Mendes)- Genuine emotion can’t overcome condescending script. Schneider almost saves it. [5]

The Beaches of Agnes (Varda)- A doodle, but by now I’d say she’s entitled. [6]

The Brothers Bloom (Johnson)- RJ’s ear for patois impeccable in Lesteresque romp with soul. [8]

Brüno (Charles)- Sometimes funny, occasionally probing, but man, the gag’s wearing thin. [5]

Capitalism: A Love Story (Moore)- See Brüno mini-review, only even more so. [5]

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Lord/Miller)- Hilarious with a chance of charming. Animated Mr. T FTW. [7]

Coraline (Selick)- Selick finds his way again. Dark stop-motion eye candy. [7]

Crank 2: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor)- “Statham makes England look ****ing awesome” ~ ZMF. In this, anyway. [7]

Disney’s A Christmas Carol (Zemeckis)- Zemeckis’ best motion-capture epic thusfar. Decidedly not for kids. [7]

District 9 (Blomkamp)- Imperfect, but miles better than a Halo movie would’ve been. [6]

Drag Me to Hell (Raimi)- Will stop at nothing to entertain you. I wholeheartedly approve. [7]

Duplicity (Gilroy)- Trouble in Paradise for cynical times. Stellar turns all around. [8]

Extract (Judge)- Kind of a lazy, downmarket SERIOUS MAN. Lacks flavor (sorry). [4]

Fados (Saura)- One to let wash over you. Click for review. [7]

Fantastic Mr. Fox (Anderson)- Just what you’d expect, but in the best sense. Hotbox! [9]

Funny People (Apatow)- Inconsistent, sometimes insightful. Still not taken with Serious Adam Sandler. Click for review. [5]

G-Force (Yeatman)- Muriel, Victoria & Charlotte could whup these CGI cavies’ asses. [4]

The Girlfriend Experience (Soderbergh) I’d hate to meet this dude in a dark alley. [6]

Gomorrah (Garrone)- Well-made, but eventually I just stopped giving a shit. [6]

Goodbye Solo (Bahrani)- Low-key friendship story mostly avoids cliché. Red West supercool. [7]

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Yates)- Mostly setup, thus kinda unsatisfying. #7 shows real potential though. [5]

The Headless Woman (Martel)- Fascinating enigma warrants second view, along with other Martel films. [7]

Hotel for Dogs (Freudenthal)- Clumsy, almost painfully square, but sunny and awfully good-natured. Click for review. [5]

Hunger (McQueen)- Less artsy stunt that I’d feared. Double-feature with Papillon. [7]

The Hurt Locker (Bigelow)- Only Beckham stuff holds this back from being a 10. [9]

In the Loop (Iannucci)- Deliciously salty as a big bag of pretzels. Cast awesome. [7]

The Informant! (Soderbergh)- “Man, I’d be invisible if it wasn’t for that thing.” [7]

Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino)- Watch first to marvel, then to relish. “It’s a bingo!!” [9]

Inkheart (Softley)- Decent family adventure, full of eminent thesps clearly enjoying themselves. [5]

Julia (Zonca)- Muriel FYC: Tilda Swinton. “Are ya shot?” Brilliant stuff. [8]

Land of the Lost (Silberling)- Obviously crap, but it’s so gleefully silly I hardly cared. [6]

The Limits of Control (Jarmusch)- Artsy slog, or poker-faced self-parody? Jarmusch ain’t telling. [6]

Lorna’s Silence (Dardenne bros.)- Dardennes: best bet in world cinema? They’re surely up there. Click for review. [9]

Monsters vs. Aliens (Letterman/Vernon)- Harmless, fairly amusing. Will inevitably see this a million times. [5]

Observe and Report (Hill)- Misanthropy curdles into sheer ugliness. Good thing it’s really funny. [7]

Paranormal Activity (Peli)- No Blair Witch, but effective LoFi horror all the same. [6]

Ponyo (Miyazaki)- Gorgeous, younger-skewing than most Miyazaki. Shame about the song. [7]

Public Enemies (Mann)- Solid, but please, Michael Mann- go back to film already. [6]

Revanche (Spielmann)- Trades action thrills for laser-like focus. Chop that log! [7]

A Serious Man (Coen bros.)- Compelling pieces, frustrating whole. Listless doormat protagonist. Coen naysayers right? [5]

Star Trek (Abrams)- My eyes are still reeling from the bright white bridge. Click for review. [6]

Sugar (Fleck/Boden)- More on its mind than baseball, usually to its benefit. [6]

Summer Hours (Assayas)- What he said re: Toy Story 2. Weep for furniture. [8]

Taking Woodstock (Lee)- Staunton’s arc made me want to punch something. Otherwise forgettable forgotten. [4]

Tetro (Coppola)- Operatic emotions, gorgeous style smooth over Freudian narrative. More, please. [8]

Three Monkeys (Ceylan)- All this ugliness gets stifling. NBC, you can do better. [5]

Tony Manero (Larrain)- Galling study of human train wreck, with Pinochet-era implications. [6]

Treeless Mountain (Kim)- Decent story of childhood hardship takes off in final third. [6]

Tulpan (Dvortsevoy)- Ethnographically awesome, otherwise pretty okay. So that’s a yurt. [6]

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Weitz)- Beats Twilight, that’s for sure. At least Weitz can direct. [5]

Two Lovers (Gray)- White Nights storyline still works. Come back, awesome actor Joaquin. [8]

Tyson (Toback)- Less enlightening than Toback seems to think it is. Pity. [5]

Up (Docter)- Still the filet of 2009. Cried at beginning, fer chrissakes. Click for review. [10]

Watchmen (Snyder)- “Meh” isn’t the emotion a Watchmen movie should warrant. Click for review. [5]

Whatever Works (Allen)- Allen/David pairing somehow not awesome. Wait- late Woody. Nevermind. [5]

Where the Wild Things Are (Jonze)- Bracing anarchy gives way to emo fuzzies. What gives, Spike? [6]

You, the Living (Andersson)- A Songs coda, but why complain? Andersson’s images still spectacular. [8]

Zombieland (Flesicher)- Prefab cult hit gets the job done. Guest cameo kills. [6]

Also, I’ll be maintaining a running tally of all the 2009 releases I’ve seen. The link can be found in the sidebar. On this page you’ll also see a list of movies which, for whatever reason, I haven’t managed to see yet. Some of them are still in theatres, others on DVD, and still others haven’t found their way to Central Ohio just yet. If you can hook me up with some of the harder-to-find titles, I’d be eternally grateful, so feel free to drop me a line.

Oh, and by the way- Famous Last Words kicks off again in January. So stick around a while, will ya?


Jason_alley2 said...

Cool dude - yeah, I know it's hard to do this stuff for free, especially when life is busy, but I'm glad to see you doing a running tally of recent viewings. More than once I've seen a new film and wondered what Paul thinks of it!

You're completely wrong about A Serious Man, though! Haha

Jason_alley2 said...

Oh yeah, if you've got time check out "Adventureland" too - one of my favorites of the year. So NOT the dumb comedy they were trying to sell it as, much more of a "Dazed and Confused"/"High Fidelity" kind of film.

Also interesting that Jesse Eisenberg happened to star in movies called "Adventureland" and "Zombieland" this year - especially if you consider the A-Z aspect!

Steve C. said...

I'm having trouble keeping myself from yelling "Hotbox!" every time something goes right these days. And to think I was on the fence about seeing MR. FOX....

Jason_alley2 said...

Yes Paul, have a happy dating!