December Short Movie Reviews

Australia. My sister hates it when I begin reviews of movies by saying, “Well, I wanted to like it.” She says, “Did you like it or not – yes or no?”. She liked this one. I… well, it’s more complicated than that. Usually when I want to like a movie it is because it has something – heart, story, special effects, a Big Idea – which deserved a better package. In Australia’s case, I think it was the country that didn’t quite get what it should have. The movie falters. It is sometimes cringe-worthy and sometimes stunning and sometimes painful and sometimes breathtakingly beautiful (the highlight for me was Daisy, riding in her yellow dress) and sometimes unexpectedly effective. Australia is the movie Australia couldn’t make in the ’50s: an epic, beautiful, elaborate, musically rich film that isn’t Bleak and Gritty and Worthy. I hope it does well enough that people aren’t put off trying to do something like this again because the materials are there. But I also think this particular movie would have worked quite well as a miniseries.

Gallery walk. Angela H and I went on the Paddington Gallery Walk – one Saturday in December, seven Paddington art galleries stay open until 9, with wine and beer and cheese. It’s a lovely evening.

Four Holidays. I quite liked parts of this and was touched by two scenes: the very female-centric comedy of the relationship between the sisters, and the scene where the various families are playing word games and the brother and his wife – shown so far as very unappealing people – win hands down because they know each other so well, while the protagonists know very little about each other. It reminded me of my parents who once won a game of Pictionary because my dad drew a palm tree and my mother guessed pinacolada.

Madagascar. Silly. Not (usually) good silly, either. There were some priceless moments with the penguins, but not nearly enough quality lemur scenes. One of those movies where I come out wanting to shake the people responsible and say, “durnnit! you had so much to work with! how hard did you have to try to get the script completely wrong?!”

Twilight. Not as bad as I expected it to be. A few cringe-worthy scenes near the beginning (which aparently make more sense if you have read the book, but are still cringe-worthy), and what I suspect was meant to be the contrast between characters dealing with serious emotional issues and flippant teenagers usually came off as a contrast between overly angsty main characters and teenagers just acting like teenagers, but in general – although not rising above what it was – it wasn’t actually painful.

Frost/Nixon. Great movie and definitely up there with my best for the year. It is based on a stage play and I think this shows in the way everything is heavily dialogue driven – it’s a slightly different dynamic than usual in movies. It was solid and interesting and also entertaining, and there aren’t enough movies like that. It made me want to watch All the President’s Men again.

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