telling minor stories to avoid a major one

Netflix Rundown: July ’10 by Barbecue Bros

* denotes movies watched instantly

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) – 5/10
– I’ve come to grips with the fact that while I am never going to see these movies in theatres, I will be watching them on Blu-ray. More of the same from the first, just with more werewolves. Has anyone talked about how bad of an actor Taylor Lautner is?

Beer Wars (2009)* – 8/10
– Highly recommended if you drink microbrews and like a good David vs. Goliath story. Sam Caligione, founder of Dogfish Head, comes off as a great guy. However, director Anat Baron sometimes slips into Michael Moore-type documentary antics that I could mostly do without.

Step Brothers (2009)* – 8/10
– I originally rated this one a 7 when I watched it last year, but a second viewing made me feel better about what I initially thought was a missed opportunity. John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell have great comedic chemistry and Adam Scott is hilarious.

“Better Off Ted” Season 1 (2008)* – 8/10
– An underappreciated comedy that got two seasons before the plug was pulled earlier this year. From Vincent Fresco, who previously brought us that underappreciated “Andy Richter Controls the Universe.” At times satirical while at other times playing broad, this show got the laughs far more often than it didn’t.

A Serious Man (2009) – 7/10
– During my viewing, it took me a while to figure out just what exactly the movie was: a dark comedy reflecting on Judaism in the late 60’s. Once I figured it out, I enjoyed the last half of the movie a great deal more than the first. It’s not really a topic that pertains a great deal to me, but I have always appreciated the Coen Brothers’ ability to make quieter movies like this.

Pirate Radio (2009) – 7/10
Pirate Radio tells the story of the period in the 60’s when radio stations in England refused to play rock n’ roll. As a result, boats broadcasting pirate radio stations started to pop up in the North Sea, beaming rock music into England. A watchable comedy from the director of Love Actually with enough likable actors – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Darby (Murray from “Flight of the Conchords”), Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) – with some cameos by a couple of very attractive actresses – Gemma Arterton, January Jones and Talulah Riley.

Currently Have Out:
Favela Rising (2005)
Mystery Team (2008
Kick-Ass (2010)


Netflix Rundown: June ’10 by Barbecue Bros

Just realized I hadn’t done this yet…

* indicates movies watched instantly

Toy Story (1995)/ Toy Story 2 (1999) – 9/10 (both) – Inexplicably, I had not watched either of these movies until this past month (I know, I know). As with most people, I loved them both. Also like most people, Pixar has really yet to do anything wrong in my eyes (haven’t seen them all though).

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (2009)
– 2/10 – Utterly awful. I probably should rate this lower. In fact *logging onto imdb*, I just did (now a 1/10). There are zero redeemable qualities about this film, and this is from someone who enjoyed the book.

Where The Wild Things Are (2009)
– 8/10 – A wonderfully imaginative film. At times, the film felt a little strained by turning a short kids book into a 101 minute full length feature. However, I continue to be a big fan of Spike Jonze.

The Blind Side (2009)
– 6/10 – A heartwarming movie that tells a great story but itself is not a great movie. Flawed, but certainly worth watching.

“Party Down” Season 2 (2010)*
– 9/10 – Sadly, this has been taken off Netflix Watch Instantly after its cancellation by Starz. An amazing show that joins the list of tv comedies gone long before their time – “Arrested Development,” “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” “Andy Richter, P.I.,” “Better Off Ted,” etc.

Currently Have Out:
A Serious Man (2009)
Favela Rising (2005)
Pirate Radio (2009)

Netflix Rundown: May ’10 by Barbecue Bros

* indicates movies watched instantly

Women In Trouble (2009)*
– 5/10 – An interweaving story of 10 women with disparate jobs (including adult actresses, a therapist, a mom, a flight attendant, etc)  in LA dealing with everyday struggles. The movie has a great cast – Carla Gugino, Connie Britton, Adrianne Palicki, Emmanuelle Chiriqui, Marley Shelton, Sarah Clarke, Josh Brolin, Simon Baker – but not a great story for them to work with.

Art & Copy (2009)*
– 8/10 – A fascinating documentary that documents the explosion of advertising in the mid-century (think of the “Mad Men” era) and also explores the bigger ad campaigns of recent memory – “Just Do It,” “I Love NY,” “Where’s the Beef?,” “Got Milk,” “Think Different,” and the iPod campaigns. Very interesting if you are interested in art or design.

Up In The Air (2009)
– 8/10 – Rewatched one of my favorites from last year with LAM. Still very good, but I believe I moved it down a point from my initial rating of 9.

The Endless Summer II (1994)*
– 7/10 – Director Bruce Brown of the original Endless Summer documentary, returns nearly 30 years later with a movie that follows the same basic premise. Interestingly, it revisits many of the same people and places as the original.

La Strada (1954)
– 8/10 – This italian neorealist movie from auteur Federico Fellini is actually #224 in IMDb’s top 250 and won the first ever Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It follows the sad life of a slow-witted girl who is sold by her mother to a circus performer Zampano and endures hardships as she follows him as he travels down the road (“la strada”) earn a living.

La Dolce Vita (1960)
– 8/10 – Another influential film from Fellini, La Dolce Vita follows playboy Marcello living it up over seven days and nights in decadent Rome. The only constant is Marcello, but the movie weaves in and out of different aspects of a life where there are no more values except alcohol and sex.

Currently have out:
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (2009) – Gonna be awful, but interested to see how awful
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) – Also gonna be awful, but you know me
Where The Wild Things Are (2009) – Really surprised that I haven’t seen this yet

Netflix Rundown: April 10 by Barbecue Bros

* indicates movies watched instantly

In the Loop (2009)
– 9/10 – A hilarious, dry-witted British spoof on the beaurocracy of both the British and US government in the face of an impending war in the middle east. The use of expletives in this movie can be considered a mastery of the artform. Also, nice to see Anna Chlumsky in a movie again.

Up (2009)
– 9/10 – This movie looked great in Blu-ray and was a nice, affecting story about growing old and dealing with loneliness after the death of a spouse. Heady stuff for a Pixar film, but handled wonderfully by director Pete Docter. Michael Giacchino’s score was amazing, and deservedly won the Oscar for Best Original Score.

New York, I Love You* (2009)
– 5/10 – The latest in the ___, I Love You movie series – following Paris, je t’aime and followed by three movies in 2011, Jerusalem, I Love You, Rio, Et Tu Amo, and Shanghai, I Love You. NY: ILY is an uneven but sometimes interesting anthology of short films with interwoven characters that celebrates the city of New York.

Fired Up!* (2009)
– 5/10 – Another disposable teen comedy, this time aping the Bring It On movies by dealing with cheerleading (there is a funny scene with everyone at the camp reciting the original Bring It On movie word for word). Besides the hot cheerleaders, the main reason to watch is the shenanigans of and funny verbal interplay between leads Nicholas D’Agosto (Hunter from “The Office”) and Eric Christian Olsen (Vaughn from “Community”).

“Party Down” Season 2* (2010)
– 8/10 – The great Starz workplace comedy began its second season, and thankfully they are again putting the episode up on Netflix after the original Friday airing. Megan Mullaly replaces Jane Lynch (who left to go fulltime on “Glee”) and seems to fit in nicely, with the rest of the great cast returning. The second episode of the season just aired and I am really looking forward to watching it the rest of the season.

The Ugly Truth* (2009)
– 4/10 – If you know me at all you know that I love to watch bad movies fairly frequently. This was another one of those – complete with the nearly unbearable Katherine Heigl, bland jokes and a predictable plot.

Currently have out:
Jackie Brown (1997)
La Dolce Vita (1960)
La Strada (1954)

Netflix Rundown: March 10 by Barbecue Bros

Truthfully, I spent the first half of the month finishing up “The Wire” (which I covered in last month’s rundown).

The Invention of Lying (2009
) – 7/10 – Great concept, but I felt it was a little lacking in execution. Though I will always check out something Ricky Gervais related, I was a little disappointed in the film.

Last Cup: The Road to the World Series of Beer Pong (2008)
– 6/10 – It’s interesting if you are interested in beer pong or have participated in a WSOBP (as I did this past year). Otherwise, a standard documentary with some mildly interesting characters who competed in the second WSOBP.

Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
– 8/10 – A formalist French New Wave film which focuses on mise-en-scene and editing rather than plot or dialog. It is very confusing to follow, so its one of those films that you just let wash over you and not analyze too hard. However, its one of those classics that I’m glad I watched – if only to say that I have done so.

Netflix Rundown: February 10 by Barbecue Bros
March 12, 2010, 11:56 am
Filed under: Netflix Rundown | Tags: , , ,

February 2010 shall henceforth be known as “the month of ‘The Wire'”…

“The Wire” Seasons 3-5 (2004, 2005, 2007) – 10/10 – I can’t describe just how much I enjoyed this series. Season 4 might have been the most affecting season of tv I have ever seen in my life. The series as a whole is now my favorite tv show of all time. If you still have this series as a cultural blind spot, I recommend you remedy this as soon as possible.

Moon (2009) – 9/10 – A great indie sci-fi feature from first time feature director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie). The movie was made on a small-budget but the look of the film is sophisticated. I wish I had seen this last year to include it on my list.

Currently have out:
Up (2009)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Netflix Rundown: January 10 by Barbecue Bros

Gotta say, I mostly spent January watching seasons 1 and 2 of “The Wire.

* indicates movies watched instantly

Gomorrah (2009)
– 8/10 – A look at several perspectives of Italy’s modern-day crime families. Reminded me of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic in terms of look and how the stories interweave.

Sicko (2007)
– 8/10 – An interesting look at universal healthcare in the U.K., France, Canada and Cuba and how it compares to the profit-oriented HMO’s in the United States. Always controversial as a filmmaker, Michael Moore paints an interesting picture at a time when healthcare is a big issue in the US.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) – 2/10 – Everything about this movie was pretty awful. Minus Sienna Miller’s cleavage.

The Wire: Season 1 (2002) and Season 2 (2003) – 10/10 – I came in having read multiple times that it is one of the best shows on tv ever. And I agree, wholeheartedly. Just superb television all around – acting, writing, editing, directing.

American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (2009)
– 2/10 – It’s not like I don’t know what to expect when watching these movies, but its disappointing when a movie doesn’t play to the strengths of the American Pie franchise.

The Hurt Locker (2009) – 8/10 – Intense performance by Jeremy Renner and some great set pieces. It may have been in my top 15 from last year.

Currently have out:
The Wire: Season 4, Disc 1 (2005)
The Wire: Season 4, Disc 2 (2005)
Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong (2008)