Sunday, January 27, 2008

Movie Review Sunday

We don't watch a huge amount of television around our house unless it's football season. When the season is over, we watch basketball and the occasional tv series. We do watch movies. That's one thing Jeff and I really enjoy and we really enjoy that time together. We started out with a Netflix subscription several years ago. We loved it so much. A few years down the road, Blockbuster came along and started their online subscription so we switched. The thing we loved about BB was that you could take the movies into the store and trade them for new movies. We were able to watch a ton of movies each month for a very reasonable rate. Then they went and did it. They slowly started to raise rates and take away all of the advantages to the program. First, the monthly subscription fee went up. Then, instead of having an unlimited amount of trade in movies, you could only bring five per month in and trade them for in store movies. Basically, we had a really sweet deal when we first started out and in the end, it was just, uh, crappy!

I should tell you, we are a very principled family. So, what were we to do? We had to say enough is enough. BB was taking advantage of us now. Last week, we decided to ditch BB and go back to Netflix. I'll have to say, I wasn't really excited about this. However, I'm slowly warming up to Netflix again and I really love the feature they offer where you can download and watch movies on your computer. The kids have taken advantage of this twice this week. Anyway, my point is to say that because we do watch movies quite often, I want to start mentioning those each week. I want to share my two cents worth in hopes that it might be helpful to those of you who like to watch movies and haven't seen the ones I mention. Without further ado, here's what we've seen this past week.

3:10 to Yuma ~ Synopsis:

Rancher Dan Evans heads into Bisbee to clear up issues concerning the sake of his land when he witnesses the closing events of a stagecoach robbery lead by famed outlaw Ben Wade. No sooner or later, Wade is captured by the law in Bisbee and Evans finds himself one of the escorts who will take Wade to the 3:10 to Yuma train in Contention for the reward of $200. Evans quest for taking Wade to the station is not only for saving for his land but an inner battle that he can be more than just a naive rancher in the eyes of his impetuous and gun slinging son William Evans. The transport to Contention is hazardous and filled with ambushes from Indians, pursuits by Wade's vengeful gang and Wade's own conniving and surreptitious demeanor that makes the ride all more intense. (Plot summary by commanderblue)

*I'll have to say, I really enjoyed this movie. The guy in the video store ranked this one up there with Tombstone and while I enjoyed it, I think he was dead wrong. Tombstone is a classic. This film is a one time watch at best. I enjoyed the story and I like both Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. This is a real "shoot em' up" kind of movie and may be too much if you dislike that kind of thing. I don't remember how much language was in the movie but I know there was at least a little. It is, after all, a gun slingin' western. My favorite part of the movie was the ending. I can't say much more because I'll give it away. If you like westerns, you'll probably enjoy this one but don't set your expectations too high. It was just ok.

The Hunting Party ~ Synopsis:

A young journalist (Eisenberg), a seasoned cameraman (Howard) and a discredited journalist (Gere) embark on an unauthorized mission to find the no. 1 war criminal in Bosnia; they find themselves in serious jeopardy when they are mistaken as a CIA hit squad and their target decides to come after them.

*We just finished this one and I have to say, I was surprised. I really enjoyed this one. The story is set in the middle of war torn Bosnia, with three reporters trying to find the most wanted war criminal in the world. The storyline was interesting and the actors did a wonderful job portraying their characters. I'm convinced that Richard Gere could play any role. This one was no exception. There is a lot of action and language in this film. The language garnered it its R rating. There was also several scenes showing war torn areas, which included murdered civilians in the streets. In the end, the reporters realize that all of the authorities (the UN, the United States, the Hague) supposedly looking for this criminal are actually allowing him to remain free. They determine that they must come up with a plan to expose this and catch this horrible man. This was a surprisingly good movie, despite the terrible language and graphic scenes of the aftermath of war.

Griffin and Phoenix ~ Synopsis:

Ed Stone's bittersweet drama Griffin & Phoenix concerns Griffin (Dermot Mulroney), a divorcee suffering from cancerous lesions in his chest that give him a life expectancy of less than two years. He falls in love with academic advisor Phoenix (Amanda Peet), and the pair decide to 'live life to the fullest' by fulfilling all of Griffin's childhood fantasies, from painting water towers to sneaking into movies to hopping freight trains. But a secret of Phoenix's threatens to damper the joy of their time together.

*Oh my. What can I say about this movie. It caught me totally off guard. Jeff and I had wanted to see this for awhile but could never catch it at the video store. We put it in our online BB queue and it finally came last week. This is the most emotional movie I've seen in a very long time. Your heart goes out to Griffin as he learns of his illness. Later on in the movie, he meets Phoenix and she brings joy to him. About this time, you get blind sided by what happens next. All I can tell you is that you'd better have a really big box of kleenex handy. I'm not sure who cried more, Jeff or myself. It was that emotional! This is definitely an adult movie and one that will make you think about your life and what you would do if you were in Griffin's situation. I remember that after the movie went off, we turned the tv off and just sat there in silence for a few minutes. For days afterwards, we talked about those "what if" situations. My opinion is that it's a great movie in spite of its less than perfect circumstances. Don't say I didn't warn ya!

300 ~ Synopsis:

Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller, "300" is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy. The film brings Miller's (Sin City) acclaimed graphic novel to life by combining live action with virtual backgrounds that capture his distinct vision of this ancient historic tale.

*I'm going to try and be nice here. The story is a great one. This movie is, uh, a not so great one. I'm not sure I liked anything about this movie. There was a lot of battle scenes in which men would get their heads chopped off. They actually showed it and it was almost funny. It looked so fake and I just don't understand the need for showing it. Fake or not, it was just too much for me. I admired the Spartans courage and their "fight to the death" determination. However, I think this movie missed the mark and definitely could have been made better. To put it nicely, I could have just as easily slept through this one and been just fine :-o)

Masterpiece Theatre (PBS) ~ Jane Austen movies

Six of Austen's works will be presented on Masterpiece Theatre on Sunday evenings for the next several weeks. I have already watched Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Tonight they will feature Mansfield Park. So far, I have not been terribly impressed with these. Don't get me wrong, I like them, but I've decided that you can't fit Austen's work into 90 minutes. The first movie that PBS featured was Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. It was excellent. Because it was very good, I expected all of the Austen works to be equally as good. That hasn't been the case but I still wouldn't miss them.

I think that's it for this week. Right now we've got Ocean's 13, A Mighty Heart, and Live Free or Die Hard. Check back next Sunday for my reviews of those!


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annie said...

Good info Sonya. I just ditched bb for many of the same reasons recently. I may check out netflix instead. I've never used them before and hadn't heard about the features.

Judi said...

Good reviews! I will definitely have to watch Griffin & Phoenix. :)

jenn said...

I like this idea, but didn't read the reviews. I like to watch the movies first!

gail@more than a song said...

We've been using netflix because I won a 6 month free subscription, 3 at a time plan, sweet! However it just ran out and hubby wanted to change to one at time plan, which will take some adjusting on my part...I loved having more than one movie. We did watch one online last week though so I do like that but most of what I want to see isn't offered online so kinda a bummer.
We did wat 3:10 to Yuma! Thought it was good, Don saw the old one and thought it was a bit different in the end. I'll have to say that I didn't like the end as much!
You have me intrigued with Griffin and Phoenix, will have to check it out!
Thanks for doing this.

gail@more than a song said...

"watch" 3:10 to Yuma!
it seems I can't type or spell!

Shawna said...

I've been thinking about watching the Masterpiece Theater movies.

Have you seen Hairspray? I got it for Christmas after I watched it at the movies. I loved it.

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