The Queen-- THe best movie I've seen this year, perhaps. Helen Mirren is wonderful. I ain't telling you anything new there, I know, but it still should be reiterated.
There's a wonderful use of symbolism with the stag, almost overdone, but not quite, and still very effective.
Casino Royale--I went to see this with my friend Ben. Neither of us really wanted to see it, but it was the only movie that night that generated any interest at all. I've never really liked the Bond movies much. This was promised to be much grittier, but it was still, in my mind at least, very much a Bond movie. I also got a little confused with the plot, but that was probably my own fault for not paying enough attention. Daniel Craig is great, however. I'd never seen him in anything before, but he seems to be a good actor. He doesn't play the character as a cartoon, but as a real man. Eva Green, however, distracted me with her craziness. I had seen her debut in "The Dreamers" and thought she was crazy there, but then I figured she was *supposed* to be crazy. Turns out, she's not that good of an actress. She really is crazy, I'm pretty sure.
I mean just look at the get-ups she wore for the film's opening.
Do you see that look in her eyes? Imagine 2 hours worth of that. Anyway, she was a major distraction in the movie. There's been a lot of talk about how this Bond film reverses the pattern of most Bond movies, in that it is Bond who is the new Ursula Andress rising from the sea, dripping with sex. Clearly, it is he who is the real "Bond Girl" here.
(Completely gratuitous Daniel Craig-in-a-bathing-suit shot here)
Apocalypto--When I saw the trailers for this, I was genuinely excited. My friend Dennis, like me, had high hopes for it too. It really did have a great trailer, mysterious and understated. The movie, however, disappointed in many ways. The most glaring way is that it is simply too drawn out, but then that's my complaint of 99.9 percent of all movies. In short, the plot is that a young indigenous man is trying to escape from his captors (the Maya) to get back to his pregnant wife, who is (ridiculously) trapped in a hole. When the hole fills up with rain and she goes into labor, well, it begins to get ridiculous. Ok, so it begins to get ridiculous a bit earlier than that. But let's focus on the positive. It is beautifully photographed. It is exciting (for the first hour or so). It's very gory, if you like that sort of thing. It's also almost hallucinogenic in its beauty. When I walked out of the theater after seeing it, for a while I was still in a daze, lost in its world. That's pretty high praise from me.
Dreamgirls---I took myself to see this one alone. I was feeling down and thought it would be a bright pick-me-up. It almost was. The movie couldn't compete with the drama in the theater however. I'm talking EMS and everything. The theater was packed, and this was on a very stormy Thursday night, not exactly prime time. About 30 minutes into the previews, we all begin to wonder what's going on. Why has the movie not started? Then the houselights come on and the previews stop. The police walk in. The stretcher is brought in. There's some sort of commotion up there (I can't crane my neck to see it. I can only barely hear it. It's very subdued) You could hear a pin drop in the theater.
Eventually a woman is led down the aisle by the police. She's trailed by a line of 4 young children, one dragging a toy monkey on the floor. She gets on the stretcher. They take her out, and the movie finally begins.
As quiet as the audience was during that drama, they were considerably less quiet during the movie. The woman in front of me spent the entire movie on her cell phone with her children's father, arguing. Her 3 children had also brought toys to the theater. Somewhere just after Jennifer Hudson's great swan song, before the movie ended, all 4 of them got up and left abruptly. I guess they already knew how it ended. She was still on the cell phone as she left.
But back to the movie. I had almost forgotten. It was all right, certainly not as good as I had been led to believe by the reviews. Jennifer Hudson is good, but not *that* good. Beyonce is perfectly cast, I think....a pretty girl who can't sing. The best acting in the film is by Eddie Murphy. He really shines, almost redeems himself. The art direction is bit cheap looking to me, and the songs were very very bad. The audience laughed occasionally when the singing began. The fact that it was a musical seemed to disconcert them.
Yet more unsolicited review here.