100 movies: The Help

100 movies of 2012

[yellow_box]Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy![/yellow_box]

The HelpThe Help (11/08/12)

An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

Playing catch up with the last year’s (or so) major films. When The Help hit cinemas over here I can’t say I was too pushed to want to see it. It just looked like familiar awards season fodder. For the most part, I do still think it is. But it’s got a heck of a lot of heart.

I’ll get over the things that didn’t make The Help a 5/5 film for me. It’s a simple story. Which isn’t the bad thing. But it’s the characters in the story that I found a little simple. The portrayal of the white people of the time are mostly the same – obtuse about the whole racial situation. And in the black community, there are no ‘bad’ black people. As such, it’s a very black and white story. I guess it’s the lack of the grey area which made this film great Oscar fodder.

Okay, that’s the cynical stuff done. What did I enjoy? Pretty much everything else. It’s a really interesting story about a time in American history when everything was beginning to change. But what I found really interesting was that this really wasn’t all that long ago. The 1960s aren’t a decade I think about and think that was eons ago.

The performances are excellent all around. The stand out for me was Jessica Chastain’s Celia Foote. I really warmed to her completely ditzy but ultimately, warm-hearted character. I loved how her relationship with Minny evolved.

Emma Stone’s Skeeter was someone I wished I could be. She had very strong beliefs and nothing would change them. Not family or friends. She stuck to them in a time where those beliefs could very easily have gotten her killed. Considering where she lived. I admired her while watching the film.

The Help is a lovely film. Though, it’s the sort of film where you know it’ll have a happy ending from he get-go. But the story is so well told and performances are so good, it’s hard to let that get to you.
Rating: 4/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

120+ Movies: A big ol’ update

120+ Movies of 2011

This is a massive catch-up on films I’ve seen over the last few weeks. I promise to post something other than 120+ movie stuff on this blog some time soon.

True GritTrue Grit (15/02/11)

A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer.

A simple, old-fashioned Western is how I would describe this film. Really enjoyed it. Didn’t tax my brain all that much. There was some gorgeous cinematography as well as some minor hokey bits of computer graphics towards the end. But overall, a really good film. Not just a film with good performances from everyone, but the film worked as a whole. Hailee Steinfeld was shockingly good for someone so young. She really held the screen well alongside Jeff Bridges. Who’s Western accent was very authentic. Though I think it got so authentic that I couldn’t actually understand what he was saying at times.

True Grit also has one of my favourite movie posters of the year so far. Love the typeface and the feel to it. More film posters like this please! Though obviously not exactly the same, but something other than sticking the main actors on the poster with no imagination.
Rating: 4/5

RedRed (19/02/11)

When his peaceful life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last-ditch effort to survive and uncover his assailants.

Why on earth does this have such a high rating on IMDB? I think I got bored part way through the film and then completely forgot the plot points of the film to care much more as the film got to the climax.

The ongoing joke about these people being too old and yet getting things done got old pretty quickly. Though John Malkovich’s character kept me most amused. He was actually funny! Oh and Morgan Freeman did a good enough job too. But Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren? Poor show!
Rating: 1/5

InvictusInvictus (20/02/11)

Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

This is one of those films that has some great performances but ultimately just lands a little flat. Morgan Freeman really convinces as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon transforms himself really well to play a believable rugby player. Nelson Mandela’s story of trying to get a united South Africa did get transformed to screen well enough, the film just felt like it was missing something.

That something was missing big time during some of the rugby scenes towards the end of the film. There was just no drama or urgency to them. Whether it was to do with how they were shot or edited. They just didn’t pack the punch I was expecting them to.

I wish I could give this film a higher score, but it was just an average film with some great performances.
Rating: 3/5

CoralineCoraline (28/02/11)

An adventurous girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets.

A really good gothic feeling animated story. Aside from some lovely animation I wasn’t caught up in the spell of the film. I feel like I’m getting old! It was a very charming story but nothing in it really swept me up into the story.

Coraline herself managed to annoy and frustrate me at times with her petulance. Or what I translated as petulance. Maybe that little fact led me to not get caught up in the film. Shame!
Rating: 2/5

JunoJuno (02/03/11)

Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

I know, I know – it’s taken me a long time to see this film. I think I’ve got a copy of the soundtrack which I’ve listened to and loved before even seeing the film.

A nice fun and inoffensive film to watch. Ellen Page was great as the quirky Juno. I really warmed to Jennifer Garner’s character and her wishes and hopes of being a mother. Loved Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons as the parents too. Always love J.K. Simmons in almost any films he’s done – he makes me laugh!

Glad I finally got around to watching it.

Monsters vs. AliensMonsters vs. Aliens (06/03/11)

When a meteorite from outer space hits a young woman and turns her into a giant monster, she is taken to a secret government compound where she meets a ragtag group of monsters also rounded up over the years.

Distinctly below average animated film. The whole notion that we should be happy in our own skins is something that’s been done in other films before and a lot better. Of course I can’t remember any of those films off the top of my head right now, but they’re there!

Pixar’s raised the bar so high when it comes to the quality of computer generated animation it’s hard not to compare. Monsters vs. Aliens really can’t compare with any Pixar films.

There’s some good voice talent in the film, just a shame the actual film part of the film just doesn’t measure up.
Rating: 1/5

Jennifer's BodyJennifer’s Body (06/03/11)

A newly possessed cheerleader turns into a killer who specializes in offing her male classmates. Can her best friend put an end to the horror?

Hey, look, it’s Young Neil! That’s pretty much how I spent watching the film. I wouldn’t say it was a horrendously bad horror film but it’s pretty close to it.

I’m putting the blame firmly on Megan Fox and Diablo Cody. Diablo for trying to make an uncomprehendingly cool sounding script and Megan for just not being very good. When you’re meant to feel compassion for Jennifer, I couldn’t find an ounce of sympathy. She was just a bitca.

Poor Amanda Seyfried – she did the best she could and was the best thing in this mess of a film.
Rating: 2/5

Read on to see the entire list of movies seen this year so far:

100 movies: 3 more films down

100 movies of 2010

Wonder if I can hit 120 films before the year’s out….

A Serious ManA Serious Man (19/11/10)
Coen brothers do good on another film. Loved A Serious Man. I was a little confused at the beginning – I really had no clue what was going on. But by the end I think I understood the purpose of that little scene. More than once I found myself laughing at various bits in the film. Not to sound terribly racist, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film about the Jewish culture before. A very smart little film that kept me watching and had me entertained.
Rating: 4/5

Away We GoAway We Go (20/11/10)
I think I liked this film. Honestly I can only just remember watching it. Sadly, it was fairly forgettable. It’s a really sweet story about a couple trying to figure out where they want to be, physically and spiritually. I felt a bit bored and frustrated by Burt and Verona’s aimless meanderings. I could see where they were going, but the journey didn’t interest me. All the different types of parenting felt a little too obvious. Nice film, glad I saw it, but wouldn’t jump to see it again.
Rating: 2/5

Law Abiding CitizenLaw Abiding Citizen (20/11/10)
I think the only way to describe this film is a cross between the Saw movies and TV’s Dexter. A law-abiding citizen, played by Gerard Butler, is bent on revenge after his family are killed during a home invasion. But he’s no ordinary revenge seeking murderer. Much like Saw’s Jigsaw and Dexter, he’s educated himself on the best ways to get his revenge on those that wronged him. There’s only really one way this film could have ended and it did just that. However along the way I wasn’t hooked into the film whatsoever. Jamie Foxx played a character who I couldn’t care much for and so struggled when I was meant to be on his side of the story. Gerard Butler did well enough in his role, but just failed to capture my imagination. This law-abiding citizen is no match for either Jigsaw or Dexter.
Rating: 2/5

Read on to see the entire list of the movies I’ve seen this year.