Oscar Weekend Recap

This last weekend was our 5th annual Parool Oscar Weekend.  You know, where you go to the Pathe de Munt movie theater at Muntplein in Amsterdam and sit for 2 full days watching back to back Oscar nominated movies.  I love it.

If you haven’t noticed, on the right side of this blog page I am now posting my Twitter feed.  During this weekend event I sent out tweets summarizing my movie review and giving each movie a score out of 10.  I’ll just expand on that a little bit here.  Warning, it’s full of spoiler alerts.  But then, you should already know how Lincoln and Argo end.

Saturday we started at 10:30am with Lincoln.  This is the movie that starred Daniel Day-Lewis, who won his 3rd Oscar as Best Actor.  I really enjoyed this movie.  It helps if you are raised in the U.S. and know a bit of the history and can relate to the story and the times.  It also helps if you are a native English speaker.  The language in the movie is not simple or easy but it is beautiful and thoughtful and lovely to listen to.  As a language lover, I really appreciated the care they used in recreating the sound of the times.  It is also so interesting to contrast politics of that era with politics of today.  In both cases it’s a dirty business.  But in both cases there is one party that is ignorant and wishes the country to remain ignorant.  What’s interesting is that those parties have switched titles over these 160-odd years.  I highly recommend the film and gave it a 9/10.

Next, with a 30 minute break in between we saw Beasts of the Southern Wild.  I really didn’t know what to expect of this movie.  The main character is a 6 or 7 year old girl who lives with her father and a few scrappy characters in a swampy island that has been abandoned by the government and society.  They are all a bit wacko.  When a big storm comes most of them leave but not the most crazy ones and this girl must stay with her father.  They end up at the end in a shelter, but then escape, and go back to the swamp where he father dies of some disease.  Some parts of the movie were touching.  Some parts were just more of the same.  It wasn’t my kind of movie really.  It went no where and didn’t seem to have a place it should go.  I gave it a 6/10.

Finally Saturday we saw Argo, yet another historical fact/fiction movie about getting Iran hostages out of Iran.  This movie was so suspenseful, even though you know how it’s going to end, that it had my stomach in knots.  The acting was good and I have to say that Ben Affleck really outdid himself as actor and director both.  And he doesn’t look half bad in a beard.  It did remind me of All the President’s Men in look and feel, which is not a bad thing.  I can see how it won best picture as everything was so real you lost sight of which parts were historical film reels and which was recent movie making.  I gave it 8/10.  It’s as well made as Lincoln, but there was something beautiful about Lincoln that got it the extra point for me.

And that’s all we saw Saturday.  We had a concert to go to in Paradiso that night so cut it short at 6pm and only 3 movies seen.  But we were back at it Sunday morning at 10:30 again!

We started Sunday morning with The Master.  After reading the synopsis I was looking forward to seeing this movie.  The first 30 minutes had me sucked in and I was really intrigued.  And then it just droned on and on and on making the same points over and over and over again.  Finally we end up in England for no apparent reason.  The movie should have been 20 minutes shorter, or found something else unique to say.  Having said all that, Joaquin Phoenix was exceptional in the lead role.  Now this is acting folks, every bit as good as Daniel Day-Lewis.  Too bad the movie was such a let down.  I gave it a 6/10.

Next up: Prometheus.  Seriously?  Yes, seriously.  And seriously bad.  This is the pre-quel to Alien and poor Ridley Scott just can’t let it go.  This movie was nominated for visual effects and that, folks, is ALL it had going for it.  Laughable science, deadly predictable script.  The very best part was the very last scene, which ties this movie to Alien.  That’s it.  About 20 seconds.  5/10.

Movie 3 on Sunday was Django Unchained.  Some people don’t appreciate Quentin Tarantino’s movies or his point of view or his humor, but I’m a fan.  Maybe you have to be a fan to be excited about seeing this movie.  I think it’s his best in years.  It was clever, funny, punchy, bloody, and never ever dull.  Jamie Foxx is perfect in the lead and Christofer Waltz won best supporting actor as the German bounty hunter.  If you like dark humor you have to go see this movie.  8/10.  Oh, one thing, here’s a tip Quentin: don’t act in your own movies.  It ain’t your forte son.

Finally, the last film for Sunday was Silver Linings Playbook.  It’s your typical dysfunctional feel good movie.  Screwed up boy meets screwed up girl, lots of screwed up stuff happens and finally they get together.  That’s the plot.  That’s it.  What makes it so entertaining are the actors and the stuff that is just crazy enough to be real and just real enough to be crazy.  You can see these people living next door to you.  You feel for them.  You root for them.  You want them to be happy.  When such a simple plot can do that to you then it’s a highly successful movie.  8/10.  Go see it.  Everyone should laugh and smile at the movies now and then.

And that’s it!  Last year we saw NINE movies, this year only 7.  Next year I’m aiming for 9 again.  I can’t wait.

Movie Marathon

Watching 9 movies in 2 days is hard work!  Once again this year we took part in the Parool Oscar Weekend in Amsterdam, both Saturday and Sunday.  I think this is our 5th year in a row and I feel like such a “regular” at this event.  We know all the ins and outs, how to get good seats, what food to bring, even what coats to wear (light jackets easy to keep on your lap).  We had a schedule and stuck to it.

After every movie both DB and I sent out a tweet with our ratings.  Most years we agree on a movie’s rating.  This year we disagreed a lot about the rating, but we agreed easily on which movies we wanted to see.  Below is a recap by way of the previously sent out tweets (via @underdutchskies):

Movie 1 – Drive
My rating – 5/10
1st movie  was . DB gives it 9, me a 5. It was too much a style mash up. Just couldn’t buy into it.

It’s bloody and violent, but that’s not what got it a 5 rating from me.  To me the whole movie felt like someone’s film school graduation project.  Let’s throw in some James Dean references, add some 80’s style music, and some Tarantino gore.  That should make for an interesting movie, right? Wrong. It makes for a mashup that yearns for attention – just like a film school graduate.

Movie 2 – Iron Lady
My rating 6/10
2nd  movie Iron Lady gets a 6 only because of the amazing MS. Otherwise, boring history lesson.

It’s as if the film maker couldn’t decide if this was a love story about a couple growing old and dealing with dementia, or a story about a politician.  They should have stayed with the love story.  Jumping around from event to disconnected event, without any context or background was just bad story telling. What was the point of any of it?  It was just a vehicle for Streep’s accents and facial tics.  Sure, she was amazing, but she wasn’t enough to carry the movie.

Movie 3 – Beginners
My rating 8/10
3rd  movie: Beginners gets 8. Beautiful, sad, funny, thoughtful, really worth seeing. And EMcG is also lovely. 🙂

I don’t need to add more than that.  Go see it.  Try not to cry.

Movie 4 – Hugo
My rating 7/10
movie #4: Hugo, gets a 7 from me. Cute movie with gorgeous sets and decent 3D. Acting just ok though.

Looking back, I probably should have given this a 6.5.  Pretty sets should get you just so far.  I’m a sucker for gorgeous sets and technology.  I had the same problem with Avatar.  I was so wowed by the 3D and color that I forgot for a moment what a crap story it was.  While Hugo is a sweet story, it’s not amazing and the acting was just so-so.

Movie 5 – Moneyball
My rating 7/10
movie #5: Moneyball gets a 7/10. If I was more of a baseball fan it’d probably be an 8. Better-than-Costner-baseball-movie.

Fun movie, good acting, and Pitt is still good eye-candy.  The big kid steals the show though.  It’s nice he was nominated for an Oscar even though he was a long shot to win.  This is a movie to rent on a Friday night.  Goes great with beer and pizza.

Movie 6 – The Artist
My rating 8.5/10
6th movie The Artist gets 8.5. Here’s a genre movie that works! Little slow at the end, but overall super.

I think this movie won Best Picture not only because it was just plain excellent, but also because it was unusual.  It kept me interested throughout, laughing in parts and charmed in other parts.  It was just corn-ball enough for the type of movie it is, but was never sappy.  It was just fun, and how many movies are really fun anymore?

Movie 7 – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
My rating – 9/10
movie Tinker, Tailor etc gets 9!! Great movie. Managed a complex story with style & great acting. Captured the time so well.

I really loved this movie.  I had read the book, but back when it first came out and I was just a teenager.  I only remembered that it was a complex story with lots of subtle cloak and dagger stuff going on.  The acting was wonderful.  The pace and color was just right.  Ah, remember the good old days of the Cold War when you knew who the enemy was and could just trade spy for spy?  The movie does beg the question though – are all Englishmen gay?

Movie 8 – The Help
My rating – 8/10
8th  movie The Help gets an 8. Can’t find fault, but yet didn’t make me go WOW. Striking how it was only 50 yrs ago.

DB said several times “It was only a generation ago!” Yes, it was only 50 years ago that people were so openly racist and ignorant.  Now we have a Black president and still people are racist and ignorant.  Ah well.  I think we’ve made a little progress anyway.  This movie had humor and grace and a happy (as happy as could be hoped for) ending.  Lovely movie for the whole family.

Movie 9 – The Descendants
My rating 8/10
movie no9 Descendants gets an 8. Funny, sad, well acted. Even Clooney played someone besides himself. And Hawaii is beautiful.

It’s not a complicated story, but it’s very well played especially by the daughter Shailene Woodley.  A friend of mine said that she thought Clooney was miscast, and that they should have used someone who could play more down-and-out or weaker character.  I disagree.  I liked Clooney in this and I think he actually acted for a change instead of playing himself or just being a caricature (like in O Brother, Where Art Thou?).  I don’t know why the movie is set in Hawaii, and I don’t care.  It was so nice on that winter day to see warm weather and people in sandals.  At least I know it’s beautiful and warm somewhere in the world.

And that’s my weekend in a nutshell.  I can’t wait for next year!