50/50 Reading Challenge Update: October Movies

Because I struggled so much with reading in October, it may come as a bit of a surprise that adding five more movies to my 50/50 list was a piece of cake.  I think I know why this happens.  October was a mentally challenging month for me with regard to work and just generally stressful in every other area of my existence.  When my life gets like this (which is happening far too frequently lately), I seek ways to completely escape.

As much as I love books as a means of escape, they take mental energy and focus.  My brain has to create the world I’m reading about.  Movies, on the other hand, create the world for me without any effort on my part.  I just absorb what is going on and usually find it very relaxing – unless I’m watching something suspenseful like The Woman in Black.  October was definitely a movie kind of month.  I needed a lot of veggin’ out time to recover from the real world.

October Movies

Dark Shadows (2012) starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Peiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, and Johnny Lee Miller.  Johnny Depp, who plays Barnabas Collins, is turned into a vampire by a scorned love interest/witch and is then buried for almost 200 years.  After being accidentally dug up by some excavators, he returns to his home to find his mansion in disrepair and his family almost destitute.  The rest of the movie follows his attempt to turn things around and chronicles his ongoing battles with the same sexy witch.

I didn’t care for this movie at all.  The plot line was fuzzy with so many secondary (and tertiary) storylines popping in and out that my head was spinning.  As a parent, I felt it was too sexually suggestive for my kids.  And frankly, I really wanted it to be funnier.  I won’t be watching this one again – I barely finished it the first time.  (2/5 stars)

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Hemsworth.  I was pleasantly surprised by this creative retelling of the Snow White fairy tale.  Charlize Theron was simply perfect as the beautiful and terrible evil queen.  Chris Hemsworth was exactly what you would expect him to be: the tough-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, easy-on-the-eyes huntsman who helps Snow White escape the queen’s power.  I admit Kristen Stewart would not be my first choice for the leading role, simply because she doesn’t look at all like the Snow White of my imagination.  Also, her character makes some abrupt personality changes toward the end of the movie that I struggled to reconcile with my ideal.  Finally, the movie was too long.  Despite these small grievances, I thoroughly enjoyed the film.  (3.75/5 stars)

Mad Love (1935) starring Peter Lorre, Francis Drake, and Ted Healy.  About once a month, Mr. Whimsey travels overnight for his job.  It was just this kind of night, while I was feeling especially bored and lonely, that I stumbled upon Mad Love while channel surfing.  IMDb describes the movie like this:

“An insane surgeon’s obsession with an actress leads him to replace her wounded pianist’s hands with the hands of a knife murderer which still have the urge to throw knives.”

The movie was short (only 68 minutes) but adequately disturbing.  Francis Drake is simply lovely to look at and Peter Lorre effortlessly plays the creepy, mad doctor.  Don’t expect anything deep, profound, or truly scary with this film.  It’s just pure entertainment from the Depression Era highlighting one man’s passionate and sinister obsession.  (3/5 stars)

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) starring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton.  In this wonderfully quirky movie, two 12-year-old friends run away twice to escape their miserable lives in a town somewhere in New England.  I cannot say enough good things about this movie.  It is superbly casted and acted.  It is nuanced and layered with meaning. It is nostalgic without being sickening.  It is visually satisfying.  It examines love, loneliness, and relationships of all kinds without making judgements.  I found it to be sweet, refreshing, and rewarding – a fabulous way to spend 94 minutes.  I’ll be watching this film again!  (4.5/5 stars)

The Woman in Black (2012) starring Daniel Radcliffe and Ciarán Hinds.  Occasionally I enjoy a good ghost story (e.i., The Others and The Sixth Sense).  With its opulently atmospheric and neglected mansion in the middle of a misty marsh, its evil ghost, and its lonely main character solidly played by Daniel Radcliffe, The Woman in Black certainly fits this category.  The main ghost is appropriately wicked and appears throughout the movie, terrorizing the village as well as Daniel while he stays at the mansion.

This is no blood and guts horror flick.  It is just great psychological suspense (or torture as I prefer to call it) and is very scary.  I watched this movie with my daughter (Lovey) who is sixteen and my son (Buddy) who is thirteen.  Lovey screamed so much my husband felt the need to come downstairs to check on us.  I was a sweaty mess by the time the movie ended.  Buddy slept with his light on for two nights afterward because he was sure the Woman in Black was standing in the corner of his room and the mud boy was going to ooze up through his carpet.  I’m happy to report we’ve all recovered and can laugh about our ridiculous behavior but we all agree it was a darn scary flick.  (4.5/5 stars)

Including the month of October, I’ve watched 39 films in 2012.  That means I only have 11 more movies to go until the end of the year.  I have a feeling many of those films will be new releases.  There are so many good ones coming out in the next two months.  Have you seen any good movies lately?  I’d love to hear about them.