Sunday, January 11, 2009
7 Pounds was chosen by David who said a combination of factors led him to his decision. He couldn't think of another film that really 'hit' him, and he was somewhat drawn to 7 Pounds because there was some mystery about the film's
The movie averaged a B rating, with individual grades ranging from A- to C. However it did generate a lengthy discussion that focused on whether or not the film developed all the characters and the relationships between them to create an understanding of what led Ben Thomas to his decision. Zanetta commented that she didn't like "to be spoon fed information", preferring to use her imagination to fill in the blanks. Others wanted to see more about his relationship with the some of the other characters. However everyone was in agreement about Rosario Dawson's performance in the film, which Denise described as "holding it right at the edge of everything" providing an understated delivery that held your interest and made the role believable. Not everyone agreed on Will Smith's acting however. Some thought that he did a great job and others, including this writer, felt that although he didn't embarrass himself, he didn't expand his acting repetoire. I was just tired of the same expression to show his anguish or torment so many times in the movie.
Finally, Greg comment that he thought that the Ben Thomas character was extremely arrogant in his choice to do what he did, generated a whole new discussion. (I don't want to say too much here, just in case someone reading this hasn't seen the film.) Needless to say there were those who felt that he acted unselfishly and somewhat heroically and that his motivation for his actions were without arrogance.
Here are the ratings for 7 Pounds:
Slumdog Millionaire was Harold's second choice, after originally considering another film for this month. But I think he's glad for his decision and so was the rest of our group. This movie received the highest rating of any film ever reviewed by Movie Club. In fact of the 22 people rating the film, no one gave it less than an A, with one exception, Scott, who gave it a B+. His reasoning was that he didn't understand why the game show host didn't want Jamal to win. Nevertheless, he thought it was a "really good film" and thought it demonstrated that intelligence could be developed through experience as much as from learning through books. Rylana thought the film depicted the resilience of the human spirit in the face of such anguish. Denise liked that Latika was never diminished in Jamal's eyes despite all she had done and had been through.
There wasn't a great deal of discussion since there was so much agreement on the film. The average for Slumdog was a strong A.
The individual ratings for Slumdog are as follows:
Friday, January 2, 2009
One of my New Year's resolutions is to update this blog on a regular basis. At the very least I can log the results of our reviews each month, especially since I brag about our Movie Club all the time. It's a little embarrassing when I mention the blog and then have to tell the person I'm talking to that the blog hasn't been updated in a while.
Over the next few weeks I will post the reviews for the movies we saw September through December of 2008 and of course, since our next Movie Club meeting is coming up next week, I'll be posting those results as well.
However our movie list is completely up-to-date, so take a look at all the films we've seen over the past six years.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I should mention upfront that the movies selected for September are:
The Traitor starring Don Cheadle, opening in theaters on August 29 and The Notebook, starring Ryan Gosling which is on DVD. The September Movie Club meeting is scheduled for Saturday, September 13.
As mentioned in an earlier post, it's been a while since we held a meeting in July. Summer is a notoriously bad time for trying to pull people together. But this year because there were members who didn't get an opportunity to select a movie during the regular 10 month season, we decided to do a one month extension to allow them to share their movie choices with us. Surprisingly we had a pretty good turnout although a lot of folks didn't see both films.
The first selection reviewed was The Diving Bell and the Butterfly chosen by Stephanie our resident professional actor. She told us that the choice was made because she couldn't think of anything else and two friends whose opinions she respected had recommended it. Unfortunately, she never got the chance to see the film. I'm certain that after hearing our comments, she's rectified that situation.
With one exception, most of our members liked this movie a lot. Mona said that she didn't really expect to like it. She doesn't necessarily care for subtitles and therefore the movie started as a C which then moved to a C+, then to a B and then finally to her final rating as an A. Zorah also felt that the movie was beautifully made and loved the perspective from which it was shot. Zanetta thought that the relationships in the movie were done especially well. India, who gave the film it's lowest rating, thought that it was too long although she admitted that it captured the essence of what was like to be Jean-Do.
In writing this I realized that the main character's name is the French version of John Doe. I will have to remember to mention this fact at the next meeting. It might add some additional perspectives on what that might mean.
Here are the ratings for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly:
The second selection for July was also a subtitled movie. Lust, Caution set in Shanghai during WWII was chosen by Carl. I must say I think the film was aptly titled; there was a lot of lust and the need for a lot of caution. Zorah really enjoyed the film and thought it was suspenseful but she really liked the relationship between Mr. Yee and Mak Tai Tai. Rylona thought the movie showcased the idealism and the unrealisticness of youth. They were caught up by their passion to achieve their mission.
Zanetta was intrigued by the sex scenes and thought they were excellent. The way these scenes were shot made the viewer feel almost like a voyeur. There was a spirited discussion about whether Mr. Yee and Mak Tai Tai really loved one another. Ed felt that Mak Tai Tai did grow to have true feelings for the married Mr. Yee. She had been so betrayed by so many people in her life and he was willing to do more for her than anyone.
I think that our movies this month proved that subtitles don't detract from films that are well made and interesting.
The grades for Lust, Caution were:
Looking forward to the opening of our sixth season. See everyone on September 13.
The choices for June were The Visitor selected by Kathi and 3:10 to Yuma chosen by Harold.
I'll start with The Visitor which Kathi said she found while looking for another movie. She thought it sounded interesting and hoped that everyone would enjoy it. We all did. The lowest rating this film earned from the group was a B and that is a rousing success in Harlem Movie Club terms.
Ron gave the movie its B saying that he found it slow to start and a little too long. Puma admitted that there are few films she doesn't like but she particularly enjoyed the multiculturalness of the film and felt it was "very real' and "not contrived". She thought the slowness of the film helped give the viewer a chance to see and appreciate the way the main character (Walter) handled the stresses he felt. John felt that it was the "type of film that shows the reason people make films". All agreed that the characters were portrayed in a way that really made you care about them and that the movie was realistic and easy to relate to.
The ratings for The Visitor are as follows:
In contrast to The Visitor, 3:10 to Yuma was a real disappointment, although the grades it received weren't extraordinarily bad. Harold selected the film because, based on what he had heard of the western, he thought it would be much more interesting. David thought the movie was "cliched, corny, boring and irrelevant". "But for Russell Crowe, I would have given the movie an F", he said.
Puma, true to herself, gave the film an A+. Once again she saw the film in mythological terms. She also likes anything with Russell Crowe. Stephaine liked that Crowe's character was redeemed in the end by his relationship with Don Evans, the character portrayed by Christian Bale.
3:10 to Yuma grades:
Our regular Movie Club season usually runs from September through June but we've acquired so many new members this year and we're having so much fun that at our May meeting on the 9th, we decide that this year we will continue meeting into July. (As a historical point, the first couple of years we met year round but had such poor showings during the summer we decided to suspend those meetings.) We have such a good time discussing the movies of the month and everything else under the sun that folks actually miss the social connection when there isn't a meeting.
This month's movies were The Mist, selected by Puma and The Forbidden Kingdom selected by John. I have to say that both films received mediocre ratings as shown below, but of the two The Forbidden Kingdom was probably the bigger disappointment. The first time that megastars, Jackie Chan and Jet Li, have been in a film together is big news for a lot of people. Unfortunately, most of the group agreed that the talent deserved a better vehicle. The film was beautifully shot and some of the martial arts scenes were incredible. Nevertheless the film did receive one A+ rating from Puma who said this is her "favorite kind of story", campy, hyped-up adventure. She said that she was "on the edge of her seat with delight". Unfortunately for the filmmakers she was the only one who felt that way at Movie Club and also it seems in the general movie viewing public.
Here are the Movie Club grades for The Forbidden Kingdom
The Mist didn't fair much better. Most thought that the film was somewhat saved by its unexpected ending. Puma thought that the violence and gore was excessive and gratuitous. Harold thought that the best part of the film was its look at how people react when they are locked down together and have few choices. Carl was reminded of The Twilight zone and both he and Stephanie thought the film would have better if it had focused on the interaction that Harold mentioned. How diverse folks act when they are trapped together.
And the ratings for The Mist:
Next month's movie selections are: 3:10 to Yuma and The Visitor.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
We were pleased to welcome to the club new members Tanique, Rylona’s friend and neighbor, and Patrice, introduced to the group by India .
Meet the Browns
Yvonne chose the movie Meet the Browns, but, (perhaps fortunately for her) wasn’t there to defend her choice, and could not be reached for comment, though we did try. Puma was one of two participants who gave the movie its highest rating, a B. Puma explained that she enjoyed the romantic aspect of it, as it was a sentimental love story that touched her heart. She disliked the humor however, calling it stereotypical and tacky. Specifically, she said, the beating was nothing to be made fun of. Patrice, the other B-grader, qualified her rating saying that it was a “B for a Tyler Perry-type movie.” She said her score also reflected the fact that she closely identified with the single mother story line.
Brother John gave the film its lowest grade, a “double F,” and for the first time in the history of our movie club said that he is seeking a refund from the person who chose the movie! In keeping with his usual commentary from a technical perspective, his first observation was a violent objection to the “purple make-up,” making the characters look like the “painted white people portraying Indians in the 1950’s Spaghetti Westerns.” Then, he said there was no script, and on top of that this had to be Angela Bassett’s worst performance of her entire life, compounded by the fact that she is much too old for the role, and her costuming made her look like a hobbit, all tolled making this the worst movie he has ever seen. Ron echoed the opinion, stating that Rick Fox should stay on the basketball court, and there was no flow to the movie. The movie was described as buffoonery and demeaning to women, with most of the characters portraying a “ho’,” both men and women. Most of the other commentary was aligned with the disappointment described above, with Karl adding that it was too predictable, and Rylona echoing that it was a tired story line.
Gregg however, tried to offer the movie’s screenwriter some reprieve—he said “I have to applaud Tyler Perry though for taking on the issue of neglected children. People need to see the effect of what happens. He also appreciated that TP addresses the issue that there are so many negative voices in our community, specifically quoting the line “ Have you been beaten down so much that you can’t recognize a positive person?” Sister Kathi offered that the caretaker was the one character that had some substance. Zanetta, although she didn’t see the movie, was just relieved to have not been called out as the worst movie-picker for once.
Here are the ratings for Meet the Browns
There Will Be Blood
Notes pending on this film, however ratings are listed below:
May Movie Choices
Puma - The Mist
Brother John - The Forbidden Kingdom
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Our March meeting was somewhat historic. Never before have we had such an overall widespread difference of opinion concerning a film. 14 members reviewed Best Picture Oscar winner, No Country for Old Men and 50% of them gave the film a B or better, while the other half rated the film as low as a 'V', which of course has no point value but indicates the strong dislike the viewer felt for the movie.
Valerie selected the film based on one clip she had seen in preview where Anton, the Javier Bardem character, forced an elderly grocery store owner to flip a coin. That scene piqued her interest so much that she wanted to see more. Obviously she liked what she saw because she gave the film an A-.
For many others however, the film was disjointed, confusing, senseless and had no flow which they reflected in their low ratings. However our newest member Puma, provided such a different perspective on the film, that even some of those who didn't like it wanted to go back and see it again. Puma felt that the film was an allegory, running on different levels which was not meant to be taken literally. As a keeper of Native (American) storytelling traditions, she saw the film as following old native story principles and symbols throughout. She felt that the Coen brothers must have been influenced by some interaction with Native peoples in their home state of Minnesota. Her comments demonstrate the value of having more and more members in our club and I hope that all our members will make an effort to bring new people to our meetings.
Other comments on No Country ranged from Ron's "didn't flow. scared the hell out of me" to Damon's the "movie was horrible. I just wanted it to end already". David thought that No Country was "a meaningless, cliched waste of the Coen Brother's political clout in Hollywood". That they "drag down the whole industry when they produce an artistic fart just because they can."
Here are the ratings for No Country for Old Men:
Our second film for March was Michael Clayton. Hope chose this film for two reasons. One, George Clooney and two, both George Clooney and the film were nominated for Oscars.
The sentiments for Michael Clayton were a lot more uniform than we saw with our privious selection. Everyone enjoyed the film on some level but some more than others. Zanetta really liked the film but thought it could have easily been done as a "made for TV movie". Tiffany and Ed also liked the film but thought it had been done before, and better, in movies like Erin Brockavich, The Firm etc. Valerie and Ramona, both with experience at law firms, felt that the movie offered an accurate depiction of what life is like in large firms.
Ratings for Michael Clayton: