"It's a bad day to be a rhesus monkey."

The movie-watching marathon continued well into the long weekend, though it seems to have stalled in the face of season 4 of Sons Of Anarchy. Here’s what the last few days hath wrought:

  • Martha Marcy May Marlene (imdb | rotten tomatoes)was an excellent film. And while it’s too dark and off-kilter to be considered for best picture at the Oscars, Elizabeth Olsen should be nominated for best actress. How the sister of the dreaded Olsen twins could pull off such a staggering performance, in what was only her second real movie, is mind-boggling. The movie is one of the best of the year and deserves to be watched on its own merits, but watching Olsen made it even better.
  • Buried (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was our only break from the best-of-2011 list. I know it got a lot of hype, but I think it didn’t have much going for it beyond the gimmick of being filmed in a box. I know we were meant to be rooting for the protagonist, but really…I didn’t care whether Ryan Reynolds got out or not. And that’s poison for a movie that only has a protagonist to work with.
  • I didn’t know what to expect from Drive (imdb | rotten tomatoes)since the last Nicolas Winding Refn film we saw was the savage, ploddingValhalla Rising. How that would translate to Ryan Gosling in a car we weren’t sure. But, uh…it was pretty goddamn awesome. There were brief flashes of pretty severe violence (though, nothing quite like One-Eye’s output in Valhalla) but a great story and just so much frigging style from Refn. The cars, the city (Los Angeles), the pseudo-80s credits, the scorpion jacket, the five-minute window…it all formed this fantastic portrait that seemed like it should have been old and worn out, but wasn’t.
  • Contagion (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was good, but couldn’t quite get over the hump to being great. Which is pretty much how I’ve felt about every Soderbergh movie since 2001. It did a very good job of setting me up for the big emotional kick that I should have felt with this kind of outbreak, but the kick never quite came. I wasn’t looking for something formulaic; I was looking for something that made me understand the fear that would have gripped the planet in this case. But it never came. It just danced around the edge of it.
  • I was surprised when I saw the rating Warrior (imdb | rotten tomatoes) had earned on rotten tomatoes. It seemed like a predictable, by-the-numbers movie about underdog fighters, boozy dads, estranged siblings, blah blah etc., and those movies don’t have 80%+ ratings. But it was just really well done. The fight sequences were really well done, and Tom Hardy was…I was going to say unrecognizable, but he seems to relish taking on parts in which he is unrecognizable. Either way, he was outstanding. While everyone fawned over The Fighter, I was underwhelmed…it just seemed like a showcase for Melissa Leo and Christian Bale to chew the scenery. Given a choice between the two I would take Warrior and its pained, understated performances every time.

And now…back to Jax and SAMCRO.

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