I've been on a bit of a movie binge lately. And I'm bringing back the Sears rating system. (And no, I won't give every movie three stars.)
The Hurt Locker: There's nothing wrong with this film. Nothing. It knows what it's about and pulls it off flawlessly. The acting, the direction and the plot all mesh to form the best war movie since Saving Private Ryan. It lacks SPR's gallantry and epic-ness (is that a word?), but it's supposed to. It chronicles one guy's addiction to adrenaline, which he feeds by defusing IED's in Iraq and Afghanistan. The troops in this movie are sweaty, frustrated and paranoid, where every on-looker is a potential enemy. There's one shoot-out in the movie where the camera focuses on their dry, chapped faces, covered in sand and dirt, pecked at by flies. You can feel the heat, the sullen intensity. I don't know what it's like to serve in Iraq, but this movie comes closer than anything else at giving you a sense. This should take home the Best Director Oscar.
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This guy leaves Evangeline Lilly to go to the Middle East and wear a bomb suit?!?! Only in movies. Only in movies.
Rating: **** (out of five)
(Five-star ratings only go to movies that transfix me, enlighten me or move me like I've never been moved before. Movies that I could watch 50 times. Examples: A Few Good Men, American Beauty, Chinatown, JFK. The only zero star movie I've ever seen? Joe Dirt.)
District 9: In Blu-Ray, this movie looked pretty damn amazing, especially the aerial shots. A good action flick, but I had some problems with it. First, how did the people decipher the alien language? The Apartheid parallels were laid on pretty thick. Too obvious for me. And I just saw Avatar a few weeks ago, so I was prepared for the human-joins-other-side angle. Nonetheless, I liked the movie. Great action scenes. Can't beat watching humans explode.
Year One: I know. Why did I even bother?. I put this on my Netflix queue a while ago and forgot to take it off. I figured I might get a few laughs in. I guess I did. Like two or three. It's annoyingly predictable and conventional with stupid bathroom humor. Michael Cera and Jack Black go through the motions. At least George Mason from 24 made an appearance. And Oliva Wilde is certainly HD-friendly. Oliver Platt's chest ... not so much.
Up in the Air: A movie for our times. A lock for the Best Screenplay Oscar. Maybe Best Picture. It captures the current mood of this country effortlessly - economic depression, restlessness, transiency, isolation. Darkly funny, inspiring, insightful and a little sad, it should be the time capsule movie of this era. And it features a guest appearance from Sears-favorite J.K. Simmons. Just a well-written, well-acted, original film. They don't grow on trees anymore, so I cherish the ones I do find.
Rating: **** 1/2