24 June 2013

Seven Randomly Chosen Movies, Reviewed

(I took the list of movies I'd rated three stars or more on Netflix (about 650), assigned them numbers, and then generated seven random numbers on the interval.  The order has been randomized as well.)

Ikiru — Akira Kurosawa is famous for his samurai movies (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and so on), but this isn't that.  Ikiru follows an elderly civil servant after his diagnosis with terminal stomach cancer, as he struggles to find life in his last days.  It's one of those rare movies with both the courage necessary to make a big moral claim and the artistic skill necessary to back it up.  Probably most striking, it concludes by accusing its viewers (implicitly) of using the moral tale for a sentimental thrill and warns us against betraying its message.

Charlotte's Web — I haven't seen this cartoon since I was very small.  I remember it being very sad and very nice, and finding it very odd that there were talking pigs and spiders.

Minority Report — This is the only Tom Cruise movie I can think of that I really enjoyed.  What I remember enjoying about this film: recognizing Christopher Plummer in the old senator, the scene with the precog in which she helps Tom Cruise use an umbrella, the precog herself (who is she?), the user interface on the pre-crime computer system, the muted coloring of the film, the pacing.

Spider-Man — I haven't seen this since 2003.  Spider-Man was always my favorite superhero growing up.  I never liked Batman very much, because of his lack of powers and the darkness of Gotham in Tim Burton's vision of it.  Superman wasn't really around.  But I was a devoted watcher of the 90s Spider-Man cartoon series.  For a while I had an alarm on my wristwatch set for 3:30 p.m. to mark its beginning every schoolday.  Anyway, I really enjoyed the Tobey Maguire version.  It was exactly what it was supposed to be.  I remember wanting one of the sequels to involve Mysterio, since he was one of my favorite villains on the show, or Kingpin.  But for the trilogy the Goblin, Dr. Octopus and Venom were pretty great.  Venom especially...

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince — I saw this the day before I left Berlin for Z├╝rich in July 2009.  It was the only movie I saw in Germany.  I remember thinking that the German dubbing substantially improved the acting quality over the usual performances, but being frustrated by the lack of punch in the film's climax.  Everything happened in a leisurely, melancholy way, when there ought to have been exciting music, and more screaming.

The Lion King — They say it's Hamlet.  It's not.  Jeremy Irons stars as Scar, the fratricidal usurper. Other surprises: James Earl Jones is Mufasa, Matthew Broderick is adult Simba, and Rowan Atkinson plays that bird.  Watch "be prepared," dubbed in German.

The Truman Show  It's the sort of thing I used to wonder about as a child: what if I'm the only real person and everyone else is just acting?  Interesting movie, fun to watch, and you can read moral quandaries into it if you feel like it.