Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Altogether, a pretty terrible poster.

Altogether, a pretty terrible poster.

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow (I really enjoyed Strange Days but The Hurt Locker is easily her best film)

Written by: Mark Boal (also wrote Hurt Locker which makes me think I should check out In the Valley of Ellah)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Lauren Shaw, Édgar Ramírez, Mark Duplass, John Barrowman, Frank Grillo, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle and Harold Perrineau.

What it’s about: based on actual events, the hunting down of Osama Bin Laden

B-Movie Alternate Title: America’s REVENGE

Movie Mash Up: The Hurt Locker – any interesting characters

What I liked: It was technically well-made, featuring a few great actors in decent performances.

What I disliked: It’s a pretty goddamned boring movie, and I’m a fairly forgiving movie-watcher.  I can explain away slowness and tedium as “pacing” but I cannot make that statement for this film.  Unlike Hurt Locker, there is nothing – no character, no potential action scene – that makes you want to keep watching, other than the ending, which we already know anyways.  I guess Jessica Chastain acted alright in this movie, but there was nothing in her performance that really suggested to me that it was a performance for the ages, which really, all Best Actress Oscar nominations should be.  For the most part, it just seemed like a technically well-made movie without any heart to it.  That and (I love the guy, don’t get me wrong) Chris Pratt’s goofy character really just turned the movie from what should have been something epic into basically a documentary.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Nope.  It’s pretty boring, and since we all know how it ends anyways, there is little payoff to actually watching it all the way through.

Rating: 3.5 /5

Best Picture Nominations Rankings (so far): 1. Silver Linings Playbook 2. Django Unchained 3. Argo 4. Zero Dark Thirty

How I felt while watching most of the movie.

How I felt while watching most of the movie.

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The Ides of March (2011)

Ever since I was first turned on to “The West Wing”, I’ve had an interest in well-written American political movies.  Much like my adoration of baseball movies, this interest does not translate over into day-to-day life as I’m more apolitical than anything.  Or apocalyptic.  Something.  Anyways, I enjoy both George Clooney and Ryan Gosling and had intended on seeing this movie no matter what it was about, so I purposely did no research at all and went in blind.

Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) is pretty much the Barack Obama of this political thriller, a charismatic and popular and different choice for the American people.  He has two of the brightest campaign managers working to get the Democratic nomination for him, the veteran Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the idealistic Stephen Meyers (Gosling).  Through an interaction with the opposing Democratic candidate’s campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), Stephen ends up playing a high stakes political game to salvage his young career.

Clooney also directed the movie, as well as helping with the screenplay which itself is an adaptation of the play “Farragut North” by fellow screenplay writer Beau Willimon.  Clooney appears to direct a movie every three years, and while this isn’t his best so far (that would be Good Night, and Good Luck.) it’s also not his worst (Leatherheads which I still enjoyed).  For the most part it’s an intriguing look into the backrooms of politicians, probably making them far more interesting than they actually are.  Pretty much what Aaron Sorkin did with “The West Wing”.  It’s well acted, well shot, well written, a solid movie all around, just lacking something that I can’t place my finger on right now.

Might as well call this blog Clooneymovieaday at this point.

4 / 5

Contagion (2011)

After watching Contagion, I am terrified of ever coming into contact with another human being again.  You can all stay the hell away from me forever for all I care… except for the ladies.  No, not really, but it could definitely have that effect on passionate germaphobes, lending credence to their most paranoid of destructive thoughts.  It is a realistic and frightening tale of the world we live in now, and how if something like this happened, well we’re doomed.  I’m not talking The Stand level of human deaths, but religious zealots would have a field day with it nevertheless.

Basically, we can blame Gwyneth Paltrow’s character and her slutty ways for everything.  The film starts at Day 2, and the virus is already in motion.  Her character comes back from a trip to Hong Kong and dies within two days of coming home to her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon).  Then their son dies.  THEN THE WORLD DIES.  No, not really, that would be a really short movie.  There are serious, high tech investigations begun, unearthing all of her activities attempting to pinpoint where the virus began and where it went from there.  There are many smart scientist types, government employees, “real people”, a conspiracy theorist type, and a somewhat reserved media presence.  They all help tell this story of what would most likely happen if an outbreak such as this one ever took place in our modern world.

I realise I’ve been somewhat comically dismissive of the movie, but it’s actually quite well-made.  There’s an amazing level of dread and detail to the goings on that take place, and pretty much everyone is in this movie.  I swear George Clooney had an uncredited cameo as a corpse in a bodybag.  He HAS TO be in the movie somewhere.  I’d like to be all big box office dismissive guy about a disaster flick, but honestly, I enjoyed it and found it to be believable and yes, terrifying.

4 / 5