December’s movies reviewed

A note: I wrote most of these before yesterday’s Oscar nominations were announced. My thoughts on them, and how I feel about the omissions of Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton, and much, much more in this year’s Oscar-Dialog (or Oscar dialogue?) starting tomorrow.

A few days late, but here’s what I watched last month:

  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (Shane Black, 2005)
    See here. Perfect film. (A+)
  • Carlos” (Olivier Assayas, 2010)
    Every single line of dialogue is exposition! Actors are forced to speak in languages they are obviously not comfortable in! Hated it. (D-)

  • Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta” (“Castle in the Sky,” Hayao Miyazaki, 1986)
    Beautiful animation, moving story. Loved it! (B+),

  • Pulp Fiction” (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
    In chronological order, on YouTube! Hadn’t seen it in a while, was surprised how long it is.

  • Shame” (Steve McQueen, 2011)
    Complicated, challenging, at times almost unbearable. But Michael Fassbender gives the performance of his (already stellar) career, Carey Mulligan is fantastic as well. (B)

  • Essential Killing” (Jerzy Skolimowski, 2010)
    Very interesting. Vincent Gallo is great without words, the film looks stunning. (B)

  • The Road” (John Hillcoat, 2009)
    The book is one of my favorites, the film sadly cannot live up to it. (I don’t think any film could.) (C)

  • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” (Tom Tykwer, 2006)
    Just awful. (D-)

  • The Ides of March” (George Clooney, 2011)
    I liked it. Ryan Gosling is as good here as he is in other recent films, Clooney is apt in front and behind the camera. (B-)

  • 50/50” (Jonathan Levine, 2011)
    Great! It’s funny and touching and honest and – a first for me – has Seth Rogen playing a likeable character. (B+)

  • Bad Teacher” (Jake Kasdan, 2011)
    Flat out the funniest film of the year. David Edelstein nails it in his spot-on review.

  • Win Win” (Thomas McCarthy, 2011)
    Second viewing, still thoroughly impressed by the acting. That this is not Tom McCarthy’s best film just speaks to what an amazing filmmaker he really is. (B+)

  • Notting Hill” (Roger Michell, 1999)
    Had not seen this until now, much to the bewilderment of my flatmate. I don’t think I was quite as taken with it as she was, but I liked it, nontheless. (B-)

  • Contagion” (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
    Despite Jude Law’s (character’s) best efforts to sink it, “Contagion” is a gripping drama with loads of great performances. (B-)

  • We Need To Talk About Kevin” (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
    See “Shame,” above. The movie is very challenging, but Tilda Swinton is more than amazing. (B-)

  • Pappa Ante Portas” (Vicco von Bülow, Renate Westphal-Lorenz, 1991)
    With the whole family on Christmas Day. There’s no denying Loriot was one of the funniest, smartest artist in Germany’s history. (A)

  • The Princess Bride” (Rob Reiner, 1987)
    Another Christmas tradition. See here. (A-)

  • Margin Call” (J.C. Chandor, 2011)
    Second time, still great. (B+)

  • Jodaeiye Nader az Simin” (“A Separation,” Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
    Quite something. Maybe it was the Holiday food coma, maybe it was the torrent of foreign dialouge, but I strongly feel that I’ll have to watch “A Separation” again before I can really judge it.

  • Terri” (Azazel Jacobs, 2011)
    One of the many great child/youth performances of the year, the film takes turns that I wouldn’t have excpected any film to take. It’s definitely worth seeking out. (B-)

  • Im Winter ein Jahr” (“A Year Ago in Winter,” Caroline Link, 2008)
    Josef Bierbichler is great in just about anything, and I think Karoline Herfurth has a bright future in front of her if she takes more risks like this one. Kinda surprised this film didn’t get more attention when it came out. (B-)

  • Rampart” (Oren Moverman, 2011)
    Is to Woody Harrelson what “Shame” is to Fassbender and “Kevin” is to Swinton. I liked Moverman’s first film, “The Messenger” (also with Harrelson) better, but he’s certainly someone to watch out for. (C+)

  • Kein Pardon” (Hape Kerkeling, 1993)
    So much fun. (B+)

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