Saturday, January 7, 2012

Review Roundup: Marilyn Monroe, a "Dragon Tatto," and a "Zoo"

I've gotten backed up on my reviews recently, but what can I say, there's been so many movies come out that I've wanted to see I've spent more of my time watching movies than writing about them, which is how I prefer it. As it is, over the past two weeks or so I've been catching up on movies that I missed from the earlier part of the year, while catching some movies just now reaching my neck of the woods and finishing up with all of the major holiday releases that I wanted to see. Even still, I have at least four or five more movies I wanna see before I feel I can effectively finish my year end list of my favorite movies from 2011, and this is just another step in that end game with my reviews of: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, My Week With Marilyn, and We Bought A Zoo. So bear with me, my 2011, Year in Review is coming, as I am aiming for next Friday, a week from today.


Movie Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is not a kiddie movie, but a fell-fledged aberration from what is acceptable in modern culture. Tons of nudity, sex, and violence, infiltrate the senses within the two-and-a-half hour runtime of David Fincher's adaptation of the bestselling novel, of a hacker enlisted to solve a fifty-year-old cold case. The senses are barraged with so much of what is typically not seen as socially acceptable, that it is often hard to find a grasp as to the story and the purpose of why our senses were barraged to begin with. Not only that, screenwriter Steven Zaillian gets a bit carried away with the adaptation, with so much of the story focused on Lisbeth Salander, the titular girl with the dragon tattoo (who is played well by Rooney Mara), rather than focusing on Daniel Craig trying to solve the murder. The thing is, Salander plays no real importance to the plot till halfway into the film, and that first half could have easily been shortened had so many scenes of Lisbeth not been included that did little to add to the story or to her character, but simply add to the barrage on our senses. Well acted, with moments of genuine suspense, but is filled with too much excess to find any real traction to keep one engaged in the story or its characters.

I give The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo an F!


Movie Review: My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn is almost a forgotten Marilyn Monroe classic in its own right, but rather than playing the traditional blond that she was known as, Marilyn is simply herself. My Week With Marilyn is only a small slice of Marilyn Monroe's life, transpiring over the four month filming of the movie, The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956. The primary story follows 23-year-old Colin Clark, played naively by Eddie Redmayne, the third assistant director on the picture who becomes friends with Monroe, and perhaps more. The movie is based upon the true Colin Clark's memoirs from the set of the movie, and what is so brilliant is how the movie hints at the larger issues in Marilyn Monroe's life, relaying things such as Marilyn's desires to be taken seriously as an actress and to be a mother through how actress Michelle Williams plays Monroe, and never wastes time showing us her entire life story, keeping us in Clark's experiences with Monroe and simply letting that shape the picture of who the woman was. While the subplot between Colin and wardrobe assistant, Lucy (Emma Watson), is shortchanged for the Colin-Marilyn relationship, the film as a whole is just a fascinating marvel for a lover of film history. Plus, it sure is a kick to see Kenneth Brannagh as Sir Laurence Olivier.

I give My Week With Marilyn a B+!


Movie Review: We Bought A Zoo

Few movies are as genuinely good-natured as We Bought A Zoo, and sometimes it's just fun to watch movies about the human spirit and to realize that life truly is beautiful. In We Bought A Zoo, Matt Damon portrays Benjamin Mee, a widowing father who is now having to care for his fourteen-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter on his own, so what is his solution when his son is expelled from school, to buy and renovate a zoo, of course. What We Bought A Zoo captures so effortlessly is grief and love, how both can often be the same, yearning for lost love, and how one can conquer the other and help a person to carry on with life. Benjamin and his family rediscover love in their newfound home, love with the zoo staff -- from Scarlett Johansson to Elle Fanning -- to the animals themselves, and also rediscover their love for one another. We Bought A Zoo is just honest and true in how it portrays relationships, in how Benjamin tries to figure out his relationship with his distant teenage son, and how he tries to keep his daughter from having to grow up too quickly and help her remain an innocent child. The real winners here are the actors, Damon, Johansson, the kids who portray Benjamin's children -- in particular the too-cute-for-her-own-good Maggie Elizabeth Jones as Rosie -- I especially loved Thomas Haden Church as Benjamin's older brother who lends some of the largest laughs of the movie. Simply what director Cameron Crowe has achieved here is a movie that is funny, touching, and genuinely makes you feel good. Of special note, the music by Sigur Ros' Jonsi accentuates all of the right moments and never misses a beat.

I give We Bought A Zoo an A+!

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