I'd like to share some brief reflections on several recent films I've seen over the past couple of months:Room
(2015) -- intriguing concept, but was more interesting while they were within 'room' than afterward, when the story didn't really go anywhere. Nice to see William H. Macy, although he was pretty much wasted in that tiny role.The Martian
(2015) -- excellent! I've seen it twice so far, and know I will revisit periodically. Gripping plot, interesting main characters, and most of the science actually makes sense.
Three cheers!A Walk in the Woods
(2015) -- surprisingly dull, the title actually fits. Even though they're hiking the Appalachian Trail, very little happens in terms of personal experiences, interactions with nature, or meetups with others. It's difficult to keep track of where they are or how far they went because, although there are titles to show the passage of time, there is very little to indicate the various locales. The location photography should be a consolation, but it's not. The panoramic vistas especially are quick and nothing special. The one saving grace is Nick Nolte's performance. [Mary Steenburgen is completely wasted in a brief, insignificant appearance.] A better choice is Wild
(2014) where Reese Witherspoon's character hikes the Pacific Crest Trail. Although she is alone, it's a much better story, and more actually happens.Joy
(2015) -- just okay, nothing special to me. I'm not a fan of Jennifer Lawrence, and was not particularly eager for a reteaming of her with Robert de Niro, as I don't find any special chemistry between them. I didn't care for the story nor the main characters, even though it was based on real people.Carol
(2015) -- other than the theme of what was a forbidden love for the time and place, I found the story and characters rather dull. Perhaps the film suffers from lack of dialog, as everyone seems to be afraid to say what they really think and feel on this 'taboo' subject. Also Cate Blanchett, in her mid-forties, is unbelievable as the mother of a four-year-old. Back in the 1950s, a married woman didn't have a first/only child in her early forties (or very rarely) especially when she did not have a career.By the Sea
(2015) -- dull, dull vanity project. No one says or does anything much. Brad Pitt's french is horrible. Angelina doesn't look too good, and speaks very little. The photography of the island of Malta is spectacular (the real location, although the story is set in France) but not a reason to slog through this.Brooklyn
(2015) -- good story, interesting characters who are good people for the most part, rising to challenges. But it's tinged with sadness, so be prepared for that.Bridge of Spies
(2015) -- very good. I'm a fan of Tom Hanks, but even without him this would be an interesting story. Good location photography in the US and Europe. It's nice to find films like this and Brooklyn
are still made, which focus on story and character development, instead of replacing those elements with sex, violence, action, and/or foul language.The Revenant
(2015) -- grim and dull, although it does serve as a good illustration of a fate worse than death. If you would enjoy hearing Leo groan and moan loudly as he fights doggedly to survive near-fatal injuries and conditions, then this is for you, but I say, 'why bother?'Toute premiere fois
(2015) -- a nice tale from France, which is the polar opposite of a 'coming out' story. Silly at times, but fun.The Intern
(2015) -- okay, not bad, but nothing special. Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway are good together. But for a much better treatment of a similar theme, I would recommend The Internship
(2015) -- the latest offering from Woody Allen. I liked it: good story, good location photography in Rhode Island, interesting character development. Subtle humor but I think it's more of a drama, a morality tale at heart. Very good performance from Joaquin Phoenix. And background music I actually like and do not need to turn down the volume!Going Clear
(2015) -- documentary on the inception, evolution, and practices of Scientology. Interesting and informative. Good interviews with former members, including screen writer/director Paul Haggis.
That's about all for now. I've got a lot more queued up, ready to go.