July held a bumper crop of watched movies – six total with two films viewed in the theater. That has got to be a record of some kind for me. Even though that many movies are great for reaching my goal, properly reviewing each and every one is not a possibility. Time is a precious commodity in the Whimsey household at this moment. Instead, I’ll just share the highlights (and lowlights) from each movie and call it a day. Yes, I’m wimping out. I know it and I own it. But, it’s my party and I can be a slacker if I want to.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) – starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Dennis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field. This movie is superbly cast: Andrew Garfield has Peter Parker’s brave teenage geekiness down pat; Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is smart and capable; Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May are perfection. Appealing characters, an engaging plot, and thrilling action sequences equate a very postitve summer blockbuster experience. (4/5 stars)
Shelock Holmes: Game of Shadows (2011) – starring Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris. A slightly confusing plot, action galore, and the camaraderie of Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law. Who could resist? As usual, humor is sprinkled throughout the fighting, the near-death experiences, and the blowing up of things. I preferred the first movie because the plot was more intriguing, but Game of Shadows was fine for a two hour diversion spent with family. (3.75/5 star)
Jane Eyre (1943) – starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine. I love the story of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and I’ve seen many different versions on film. When I discovered that Netflix was streaming this version I didn’t hesitate. I was rather luke warm about the whole thing – not horrible, not wonderful. The acting style of this time period can sometimes be hard for me to swallow, many pieces of the original storyline are excluded, and neither Orson Wells or Joan Fontaine matched my perception of what Mr. Rochester and Jane looked like. However, the cinematography was appropriately atmospheric, Adele was adorable, and I enjoyed seeing a young Elizabeth Taylor as Jane’s only friend Helen. Been there, seen that, moving on. (3/5 stars)
Brave (2012) – voices of Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane. What can I say? I loved this movie. Disney and Pixar veered from the standard princess formula and created a mother/daughter tale that honestly brought tears to my eyes. A happily ever after without a prince? Who woulda thought? As a mother, Brave was especially poignant for me and I’m so glad I was able to watch it with my teenage daughter. As expected, the animation is gorgeous. One small caution: there are some pretty intense scenes with a very ominous bear that could be overwhelming for younger kids. (5/5 stars)
Witness for the Prosecution (1957) – starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton. Another Netflix instant watch movie that Mr. Whimsey and I watched very late one night. Although there is very little action, (most of the movie takes place in a court room), it is a very interesting and suspenseful film with a rollercoaster’s equivalent of twist and turns. This was the first time I’d ever watched Marlene Dietrich or Tyrone Power and I was duly impressed. For such a serious movie, humor was sprinkled generously throughout. I enjoyed every moment of this convoluted drama. (4/5 stars)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) – starring Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning. When I told my Dad the kids and I watched Creature from the Black Lagoon, he laughed. It was the first scary movie he ever watched as a kid. I thought this was a somewhat fun, campy movie with some actual suspense. How could swimming in a dark swamp inhabited by a Swamp Creature, not be suspenseful, especially with grim music playing in the background? My biggest beef – the utter uselessness and helplessness of the female lead. She just stood there and screamed while the Creature attacked her friend. Grab a chair, for crying out loud, and break it over the monster’s head already! I took the opportunity to lecture my daughter on how to not be a helpless female in the face of a monster attack (of any kind). (2.75/5 stars)
Spider-Man and Brave were by far my favorites of the month. I anticipate that I will be doing some repeat viewings of both of those films. I would also watch Witness for the Prosecution again. I’m surprised at how much I am enjoying some of the older classic films. So, at this point I have 30 movies under my belt and only 20 more to go. That should average out to four movies a month. This challenge is a marathon, not a sprint, and I’m right on pace to finish by December 31, 2012. If only there were a gold medal for me at the end. It’s the only way I’ll ever earn one.
Any classic movie suggestions for me?