Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Viewer's Choice

My last post was focused on films that disappointed me over the last few years via my Netflix subscription, so it is only fair that I dedicate a post to those movies that I have enjoyed since becoming a member.  This list will be one including some new releases and some not so new, but the one thing they all share in common is they entertained me for an extended period of time.  One of the main aspects of a film that could make the difference between me enjoying it or not, is the like-ability of the main character.  If the director fails to create a connection between the audience and the character, then it is difficult for me to care about what happens to him/her.  A great example of a director failing at this is in "Into The Wild", the story of the college graduate who died in the Alaskan bush.  At no point in the movie did the character come across as like-able, and as such I found myself eagerly anticipating his demise.  At the opposite end of the spectrum is Forrest Gump, who is someone we all found like-able upon viewing that great film.  My guess is nobody reading this has anything in common with someone like Forrest, yet we all identified with him, and perhaps went so far as to perceive him not as a character being played by Tom Hanks, but as a real person all together.

Another trait I am looking for in a film, is does it include elements of multiple genres?  For example:  "Back To The Future", my favorite movie, has a little bit of everything in it:  romance, sci-fi, action, comedy, etc  How can you not like a movie that has all of that neatly wrapped into a great story told over 2 hours?  So with that in mind, lets take a look at some of the Netflix winners over the past few years:

Shutter Island:  It seems silly to call a collaboration between Leo and Martin Scorsese the "other movie" that Leonardo has done in the last two years, but when compared to "Inception" that is where this film stands in many people's eyes.  I however liked this movie much better than "Inception", for one because it shared so many similarities, yet was portrayed in a more believable context.  This movie was very dark and did a better job with the "is it real or isn't it" concept that it shared with "Inception"

The International:  This is crime/international political thriller co-starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts.  I thought the plot was strong, and there were some pretty intense action scenes.  Overall I was thoroughly entertained by this movie.  I also like the ending, which without giving it away, wasn't a typical Hollywood ending.

Les Miserables:  Hard to believe this retelling of the Victor Hugo classic is now 13 years old.  I was unfamiliar with the details of this story upon first viewing the film.  I am sure this differs drastically from the novel as most movies must in order to convey the story in ~ 2 hours, but regardless I really liked this morality play set in 19th century France.  Liam Neeson is great in the lead role, and Geoffrey Rush (from "The King's Speech") is amazing as his arch nemesis Javert.  If you like a good period piece based on a classic novel, then this is the movie for you.

Julie & Julia:  I don't care if you laugh and call me names, I thought this was a delightful little chick flick.  Meryl Streep was really quite hilarious as Julia Child.  Again, one of those characters where I truly believed became separated from the actress herself.  I thought it was interesting learning about the history behind how Julia Child became famous, and I thought the other part of the movie, based on Julie's blog, was a nice story that is relevant to all of us who are busy but hoping to do so much more.  I really think guys and girls alike will enjoy this movie if they give it a chance.

These are just a few, but many other movies have really entertained me over the last few years, from "Up in the Air", to "Role Models', to "The Count of Monte Christo" and beyond.  What are some movies that you really like?  What films appeal to multiple genres, or have a strong character that you really root for during the movie?


  1. I know you have not seen this one but you must, "Slumdog Millionair". Also, "Changling" with Anglie Jolie. Not my favorite actress but thought she was very good in this excellent movie. Both movies are long but they keep your interest. mom

  2. You know it is a good movie when it impacts what you do. A couple examples:

    Back in 1975, I saw "Jaws" on a Saturday night. It made such an impact on me that I was afraid to get in the swimming pool at my apartment complex the next day!!!

    Also, one night after a date(with your mother) I started watching "The Omen" on HBO, as I was getting ready for bed. Of course, I got hooked and watched the whole thing. But worse - it took me hours to get to sleep and I had nightmares besides.

    Lastly, when I saw "Rocky", I thought that Sylvester Stallone was the best actor I had ever seen -- until I saw him in an interview. He wasn't acting - he was just being himself!!!

    Your dad.

  3. I know I'm moving outside of your Netflix criteria, but have you seen "The King's Speech" yet? Zac and I keep meaning to see it but it just hasn't worked out yet. I hear it's incredible.

  4. Also ... a fairly recent film that received some Oscar attention and that I recommend - "Doubt" with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Oh, and I also recommend "Winter's Bone," which I believe was nominated for a couple awards this year.

  5. Not sure if it's on Netflix yet, but Brad and I really enjoyed the remake of True Grit...it was awesome. Great characters...especially impressed by Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross.
    Surprised you didn't like Amadeus? I haven't seen it since high school, but I remember really liking it then.