I don’t know why, exactly, but I’ve/we’ve watched a lot of movies this month. Being on a plane for ten hours doesn’t hurt, and I did just get a new digital media player, but given how busy we’ve been at work (and how much good TV is on right now) I was surprised to see that I’ve gone through 14 movies this month. One more and it’ll be the busiest movie month for me since September 2008, when I took a week of vacation and watched 30 movies in 10 days at TIFF.
The five most recent have been:
Restrepo (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was the companion documentary to a book I just read (War by Sebastien Junger) about soldiers deep in Pakistan’s Korengal valley. While I appreciate putting faces to names and seeing the actual ground described in the book, the book was far more compelling. However, it was difficult to watch the documentary knowing that photographer and cameraman Tim Hetherington died last month in Libya.
The Tillman Story (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was another documentary about war, but with a very different twist. Many people knew about Pat Tillman, who played football for the Arizona Cardinals and turned down a multi-million dollar contract so that he could enlist and go to Afghanistan, along with his brother, following the attacks of September 11 2001. Tillman was killed in Afghanistan and immediately celebrated as a war hero — even being awarded a posthumous Silver Star — but his family wanted to understand more about how Tillman was killed. The star of the documentary is kind of Pat Tillman, and kind of his mother, but really is just this entire extraordinary family who display more character than most of us would be capable of.
The Last Exorcism (imdb | rotten tomatoes) had all kinds of promise, and despite being a Blair Witch knockoff in a lot of ways was actually an effectively creepy little genre film, but just lost it badly in the final act. Like, BADLY badly.
Manhunter (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was weird for me. It was the first Hannibal Lecter movie (it was actually spelled “Lecktor” in this movie) before Anthony Hopkins was Lecter and before Scott Glenn was Jack Crawford and when Will Graham was the protagonist, not Clarice Starling. It was, of course, remade with the proper title Red Dragon (imdb | rotten tomatoes) years later, but that remake wasn’t very good. So when I saw that Manhunter had a historical rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, I thought it would be better. And it might have been…it was, after all, directed by Michael Mann, one of my all-time favourites. But it’s hard to get past the fact that it was made in 1986, with all the cheesiness you’d expect from a director who was also producer of Miami Vice at the time. The bad music, the absurd clothes, the bad slo-mo…it’s hard to believe Silence Of The Lambs came just five years later. I guess it played better in 1986.
How To Train Your Dragon (imdb | rotten tomatoes) holds a 98% rating on RT, which I couldn’t quite figure out. Upon seeing the ads I had written it off as another animated kids movie, but…yeah, it’s not. It’s really quite good. The animation is ridiculously strong, the story is sweet (and has more meat to it than you might expect) and it doesn’t try too hard for laughs. Kids will obviously like it, but much to my surprise, so might mostly-jaded movie snobs.