Lincoln: You've heard all about this. The people who saw it loved it. It's historically accurate, it's not boring once it gets past a few opening scenes, Lincoln is fully humanized with both good and bad traits, Sally Field is great, Daniel Day-Lewis channels Lincoln (no, seriously, we suspect magic), you'll feel things, it looks good, and the script is awesome. What you might not have heard is that Tommy Lee Jones steals the movie, and Lee Pace is still hot as a racist bad guy, which is hard to pull of since racists are the worst. Movie grade: A
Zero Dark Thirty: The good news is that this movie is riveting and very well made and written. It also features a strong cast, several hot guys, and packs a powerful punch throughout. You know what happens, but you'll be on the edge of your seat the entire time. It's devastating and intense. It might be too intense. After you leave the theater, avoid arguments, traffic, or family members who press your buttons, because you will be a little wrecked and edgy after the movie. It's a good time to go get a beer and philosophize with a laid-back buddy.
We loved the main female character, who is a real person working for the CIA. She's not a female stereotype and she is more than able to carry the movie. This movie is long and the SEALs don't show up for most of it. Our favorite performances came from Chastain, obviously, as well as Edgerton's SEAL team leader. He played it like his character was trying to exude confidence in the mission and make it work, but he was secretly nervous about the plan. For having so few lines, he put that across well. As for the torture question? It's observed in a detached manner by this movie. This movie offers no answers to that controversy and neither condemns nor approves of it. It just shows it. Yeah, the movie makes it look like information gained from torture led us to Bin Ladin, which may not be true, but it also shows how ugly it is.
The movie doesn't glamorize the killing of Bin Ladin. It isn't a gung-ho military recruitment or American pride piece. You're going to be sad over the whole state of the world, torture included. One of us is 100% against torture in any situation and wasn't offended by this movie. Finally, the fact that Katherine Bigelow was shut out for best director is a travesty. THAT'S what we're offended by. She's one of the best directors living. It was liberal politics that excluded her. Movie grade: A
Side Effects: See this movie and sit through the whole thing, but go into it knowing NOTHING about the story. Don't watch a trailer or read a description. Good acting. Love Rooney Mara and Jude Law. Channing Tatum is making some smart career decisions lately with his serious films and comedies. He's starting to earn our respect. This is a clever, entertaining movie. Our only complaint is one scene in the ending that was morally reprehensible to us, but shouldn't bother most people. Recommended. Movie grade: A-
Amour: Zzzzzzzzz. Depressing. A few great scenes. Good acting. French. Technically good film-making. Long. Not entertaining. Honest. Extremely predictable. Overrated. The tone is overbearing and exhausting. It's a great movie, but we didn't enjoy it. Movie grade: B-
Argo: Every American should at least watch the opening scene. There are stupid, unfair reasons that most of the Middle East hates us...but there are also good reasons. We're not perfect. We wouldn't mind if this won the Oscar for Best Picture just because Ben Affleck deserves it. We loved his Gone Baby Gone too. Stepping behind the camera really redeemed Affleck. He's good. This is a fun, entertaining, historically accurate, true story. It's like a better, smarter, funnier Ocean's Eleven. Go see it and have a good time. Movie grade: A
Mama: This wasn't bad for horror! In fact, it was good in some places. We love seeing anyone from Game of Thrones in anything, and Jessica Chastain is a downright chameleon. The premise was fantastic and we loved the ending, which is rare for a horror movie. We usually think they botch endings. Our big complaint, and it is a big one, is that the movie could have done SO MUCH with that premise. It could have played its cards close to its chest and explored the psychological questions more in the beginning and then went into the supernatural.
It could have really creeped us out with ideas instead of jumps. It could have told a more interesting story from a human perspective, which is what great horror does. Great horror tells a fully formed, human drama with emotions (The Sixth Sense, The Descent, Hitchcock, nearly everything Stephen King write), plot, mystery, etc and THEN piles horror elements on top of it. This movie relied on old tricks and scares and scared no one. Good effort though. Movie grade: B-
Flight: We rented this one and liked it. We think it's a bit mis-advertised. The bulk of the movie focuses not on the plane crash or what a cool pilot the main character was, but the disease of alcoholism and a sort of spiritual fight. If you want to see a morally solid, realistic story about a guy fighting to get his integrity back, this is for you. It's a little long and emotional, but it's good and Denzel is fantastic. We would recommend it if only for the plane crash scene, which is phenomenal. We teared up. Loved the ending. Movie grade: B
Compliance: We watched this on Instant Netflix after it was lauded by so many trusted websites. This is an important movie that kind of sucks to watch. It's based on real events, and we recommend that you read about these events and then decide if you want to see this movie. It's psychologically interesting and not too long, but it's also messed up. It's not entertainment so much as a warning to trust your gut, not authority. Always. And for God's sake, people, call lawyers immediately when the cops come crawling around, whether on the phone or in person. Movie grade: B+
Brave: It's a little too much like Freaky Friday and it doesn't live up to other Pixar movies. But we love the message of leaving kids alone until they are ready for romantic lives. Let kids live the lives they want in the moment, parents. It's a good mother/daughter movie, and the little bears were adorable and funny. We enjoyed this movie, but it didn't impress us. We liked Merida. Movie grade: B-
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