New-to-me movies watched in February and March

Since I never got around to posting February’s movies, you get two months of reviews at once! Yay?

February:
1. Sympathy for Mr. Vengence / Boksuneun naui geot (2002)
2. Oldboy / Oldeuboi (2003)
3. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

March:
5. Nebraska (2013)
6. Captain Philips (2013)
7. Her (2013)
8. American Hustle (2013)
9. Gravity (2013)
10. The World’s End (2013)
11 13 Sins (2014)
12. Veronica Mars (2014)

REVIEWS (behind the cut):

1. Sympathy for Mr. Vengence / Boksuneun naui geot (2002)

Description: “A recently laid off factory worker kidnaps his former boss’ daughter, hoping to use the ransom money to pay for his sister’s kidney transplant.”

This definitely has some dark, brutal moments, but it’s well done. The characters are interesting and the movie does what the title says, provide sympathy for those characters seeking vengence (there are more than one). A couple of different storylines weave together in a clever, intelligent way.

The violence — sometimes subtle, sometimes overt — may be a bit much for some.

2. Oldboy / Oldeuboi (2003)

Description: “After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days.”

My initial reaction: Wow, um, wow. I don’t even know how to feel about this.

After watching it a second time (because my sister and her husband wanted to), my feelings hav solidified a little but more. The style is cool and there are some cinematic moments and action sequences that are fantastic. However, the overall story is so twisted, disturbing, and f*cked up that all I can really feel about it is icky. From the beginning of the movie, the sexual relationship between the characters was awkward and gross. By the end of the movie the awkward, gross nature of the relationship made perfect sense, because that was exactly what it was meant to be, but still. I just. No.

I have no desire to ever see this movie again, and I’m a little bit stunned that they made a U.S. remake. I’m vaguely curious to see if the remake went to the same icky place that this one went, but I’m not sure if I’m THAT curious.

M-Dallas Buyers Club3. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

A white, homophobic cowboy gets AIDs from unprotected sex. When he’s finding the treatments are not saving him, he goes looking for his own cures and finds himself in Mexico with an outcast doctor. Together they end up smuggling non-FDA approved drugs into the U.S. to sell to the AIDs patients who need them.

The movie was set in the ’80s and it was fascinating to see how little doctors really understood the disease then. The story is compellingly told and the acting is well done.

McConnaughey blew my mind with how good he was in this. There were times, he really melted into his character and I didn’t recognize him. Jared Leto was wonderful, too, though I hate the way he gave an offensive speech after receiving his Golden Globe award for the role. Yuk. It’s just too bad he didn’t get what this movie really meant to some people.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

This was the first time I’ve seen this introduction to the iconic Freddie. Oh, my god the acting is so corny and bad. So, so bad. And yet, so amazingly fun. Freddie is a great villain, ridiculous and slightly silly, but also scary in his own way. The movie is creative with oodles of blood at moments. Worth watching.

5. Nebraska (2013)

Nebraska is the story of a confused old man, who receives a Publishers Clearing House style letter informing him he’s won a million dollars. In his confusion, he believes the letter and tries to walk to Nebraska to receive his winnings. His family grows increasingly frustrated with his attempts, until his son decides to drive him to Nebraska in order to indulge him. Along the way, they end up spending the weekend at the dad’s hometown and when word gets out that

The tone is pondering and slow, but also very funny, as it builds on the family and local community relationships. The mom, played by June Squibb, is especially awesome as the reasonable person of the bunch who won’t brook with any bullshit. The ending was satisfying and filled me with smiles. Great movie.

6. Captain Philips (2013)

Captain Phillips is based on a true story, in which a ship hauling various goods around the Horn of Africa is attacked by Somali pirates. It was an intense, fantastic thriller that managed to make me feel bad for the pirates, as much as I want Captain Philips to escape. Acting is great all around and there are moments when Tom Hanks is just stellar.

M-Her7. Her (2013)

Her was so … surprising. I remember seeing the trailer and thinking it would be so strange and couldn’t figure out how they would manage to make a movie about a man falling in love with his operating system without making it creepy, weird.

What I didn’t realize at the time was the movie is set in a near future (a future that is entirely plausible) and the OS in the movie is actually an artificial intelligence, which makes it something of a lifeform and, therefore, less weird. Though the moments of “sex” (on both occasions phone sex or sex with the OS are awkward (in a way I tend to find hard to watch), but also rather funny.

Overall the movie had a lot of heart and was so soulful, making me think about what it means to be human. A fantastic movie and I can see why it was nominated for Best Picture.

8. American Hustle (2013)

American Hustle was the biggest disappointment of my Oscar movie-watching marathon. In part, this was because of the high expectation I had for it. There wasn’t a single character that I loved or was drawn to in the movie and the voice over narration combined with flashbacks dragged down the plot. Also, the Big Reveal of the con was disappointing at best, lacking the cleverness needed to make it really surprising. So, the movie was fine, but I didn’t love it.

M-Gravity9. Gravity (2013)

This was another one of those movies that I didn’t expect much from after seeing the previews. I couldn’t imagine how floating off into space would work as a dramatic premise.

But I adored this movie.

The catastrophe is caused when the Russian destroy one of their satellites, causing the debris to orbit at incredibly high speeds and damaging any equipment in its path. The debris takes out the spaceship the characters are on as well as satellite after satellite, creating an every widening area of destructive debris and causing all satellite communications to go black. (Interestingly enough, this apocalyptic level catastrophe is considered plausible by many scientists, as noted in the short documentary Space Junk.)  The destruction of the spaceship cuts Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s characters cut off from Houston and NASA, leaving them to desperately find their own way back down to Earth.

The visuals are stunning (making it one of the rare movies actually worth seeing in 3D), the acting by Sandra Bullock was fantastic, and the story is gripping. The only downside for me was that George Clooney was a poor casting choice, as he just ended up being George Clooney in a spacesuit. So, I wasn’t drawn to or moved by his character.

Overall, the experience was just, WOW. Great movie.

10. The World’s End (2013)

Discussed elsewhere.

11 13 Sins (2014)

A man gets a phone call to be on a game show, in which he has to complete 13 tasks to win millions. The first task is swat a fly and that leads to ever increasing levels of cruelty as he move through each successive task. The movie was intense and interesting, had me on the edge of my seat a few times, though I think the ending was a bit weak.

12. Veronica Mars (2014)

Discussed elsewhere.


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