Movies I Haven’t Written About (Jan-Sept 2015)

Movie Reviews Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

I don’t watch nearly as many movies as I would like to. That said, I do watch more than I have time to review. And so, here are the movies I’ve seen for the first time in 2015 that I have not posted about on this blog. In addition to few sentences about each film, I’m also including the rating that I gave it on letterboxd immediately after viewing. Numerical ratings suck, but we can’t escape them, can we?

Battle Royale (2000)
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku

I understand why certain people really love this film, but it’s just not for me. It’s fun, it’s daring, and it has its moments, but it also lacks emotional heft and is too much of a tonal mess for me to want to see it again.

Planet Terror (2007)
Directed by Robert Rodriguez

For me, Planet Terror is the weaker half of Grindhouse. It’s plenty of fun while you’re watching it, but it also vanishes as soon as it’s over. It’s entertaining, and it’s also mostly surface. Like Battle Royale, it seems like the sort of film that some people will love with all they have, but that others will leave behind pretty easily; in this case, I’m the latter.

Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? (2013)
Directed by Michel Gondry

I’ll be 100% honest and say that the only reason I watched this documentary about Noam Chomsky is because I took a few linguistics courses in college, and because I once had lunch at a table where Chomsky was also sitting (and talking). Is the Man Who is Tall Happy is an ambling film that will probably only appeal to those who are already familiar with it’s subject. That said, there is something rather charming about Gondry’s animation, and the conversation between him and Chomsky remains thought-provoking throughout.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl(2015)
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

I heard a lot of really good things about this film before seeing it, and I really wanted to like it, but I was largely underwhelmed by it in the end. Put simply, it’s pretentious without enough substance, and it’s story never seems to focus on the right things. I was particularly bothered by the fact that Thomas Mann has more screen time than anyone even though his character is far less interesting than RJ Cyler’s or Olivlia Cooke’s. I also got the sense that this film wants to be profound and emotionally stirring, but I didn’t not find it to be either.

Adventureland (2009)
Directed by Greg Mottola

I was slightly drunk when I watched this, and nothing about it’s story really stuck with me. I probably gave it a 3, because I like Jesse Eisenberg and because Kristen Stewart is a queen.

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)
Directed by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak

Shaun the Sheep is the only Aardman Animations film I’ve ever seen, but I sincerely hope to see more of them. Shaun the Sheep made me laugh, and it made me cry, and it did both without a bit of dialog. Like Pixar’s Wall-E, this film wormed it’s way into my heart without warning while reminding me how powerful storytelling without words can be (even if it’s also a bit silly).

Let the Right One In (2008)
Directed by Thomas Alfredson

Let the Right One In is the sort of film that I could write whole essays about if only I had the time and the energy. It’s also the sort of horror movie that I respond well to. It’s a wonderfully well-shot film, and its visuals infuse its story with a strange kind of beauty. Though it’s a vampire movie, Let the Right One In isn’t really about vampires (the good vampire films seldom are)—and it’s all the more haunting because of it. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that I watched A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night back in May, then I might even be willing to say that it was the best vampire movie I’ve seen.

Black Mass (2015)
Directed by Scott Cooper

I’m a sucker for a gangster film, which may just be why I enjoyed Black Mass as much as I did. Johnny Depp is quite good in the film, and Joel Edgerton does a decent job as well. That said, Benedict Cumberbatch is terribly miscast, and the whole thing winds up being pretty forgettable. Nearly all of Cooper’s choices feel generic, and the film’s fact-based story doesn’t contain enough surprises to make the film interesting.

Shame (2011)
Directed by Steve McQueen

As far as I am concerned, Shame is McQueen’s best film. Had I seen it when it first came out, I probably would have written a rather lengthy and almost entirely positive review of it (ignore the fact that this blog did not exist in 2011). Fassbender’s performance is fantastic and is crucial to the film’s success as an examination of addiction. Like all of McQueen’s films, Shame is haunting and cold—and yet, it’s also remarkably human. As good as the acting is, many of the best things about the film lie in its camerawork and its writing. I particularly enjoyed Shame‘s use of long takes, which add to the film’s impact while working to make viewers uncomfortable (which is a good thing). I also appreciate those places where the script remains silent.

Until Next Time
Thanks so much for reading! If things go my way, I’ll be going to see Sicario this weekend; I’ll try to review it here if I do.

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