The 52nd week

25 Feb

It’s done.

We’re 52 weeks through.

This realisation came mid-way through last week, when it clicked that we hadn’t received our Monday text message from Telstra.

So, this means movie #52 was J Edgar, also one of our most anticipated movies of the year.

This photo reflects how we feel about reaching Week 52. Reflective and a bit sad.

She says: I found J Edgar to be somewhat like the Iron Lady, in that overall I enjoyed it and learnt a fair bit, but found it was missing something…oh, like, a comprehensible narrative structure? The flashbacks were confusing, especially between the layered-in-makeup/current day actors.

And I strongly, strongly, recommend not seeing this in a busy cinema*, so as to avoid ridiculous audience reactions to Eastwood’s homosexual references. So much Sydney sniggering, gah! 7/10

He says: I was really looking forward to seeing this movie, and ended up being disappointed.  It wasn’t particularly bad, it just didn’t have the expected punch.  As a biopic it failed to really create an emotional link with the main character around one, or even a series of character-shaping events.

It also felt very consturcted in that the director (Eastwood) clearly had a view on Hoover and was telling you that view instead of gently directing the audience to see his viewpoint.  6.5/10

* Ironically we wouldn’t have thought we were going to a busy cinema – in fact, we went to the same one we visited about 30/52  times – Chatswood Mandarin. A typical audience (as we saw it, generally on weeknights) was maybe 8-10 other people in the cinema. This time, on a Saturday morning, it was packed out! Maybe 60-80 people….all sniggering.

A year in review

Most highly rated movie:
She said: Lion King. That was a bit of an exaggeration, sorry.
He said: A multiway tie on 9 points of: The Lion King, Limitless, X-Men 1st Class, The King’s Speech, The Ides of March, Money Ball and The Muppet Movie.

Actual best movie (accounting for comparison/hindsight):
She says: Hanna or X-Men.
He says: Limitless.

Best bit of the whole experience:
She says: Apart from the obvious benefits in seeing whatever we felt like, the car ride home was my favourite part.

Getting there was often stressful as we left work late and sat in traffic, starving, just to keep up our ridiculous promise to go every week. But on the car ride home, we were much, much calmer* from deliberately slowing down for a few hours.

* Well, generally calmer. Some movies had the opposite effect, with one or both of us experiencing ridiculous reactions to a film (hating it, hating a character etc etc). But still, this was a shared experience and a welcome distraction outside of our work/home lives. We’ll keep it up in some form or another.

He says:  I love movies.  So when we were able to get to see a movie every week that was great.  No more did I have to think about which movies might be best on the big screen and which I could really just watch at home.

So the best bit was not needing to be selective with which movies we saw.  Any trailer that we watched and thought “I would like to see that”…we could!

Cinemas we visited:
Manly Cinemas
Hoyts Warringah Mall
Hoyts Chatswood Westfield
Hoyts Chatswood Mandarin
Hoyts Blacktown
Hoyts Broadway

Restaurants we visited:

New Shanghai, Lemon Grove Chatswood
– a staple favourite. delicious pan fried dumplings and shrimp beans, yummmmm.

Shanghai Stories, The Concourse, Chatswood
– fancy date night setting, fancy dumplings, overall not as delicious as New Shanghai

Sagunja Sushi, Chatswood Mandarin
– we found this early on and kept going back – $2.50 for any sushi plate, no matter the colour! if you love sushi trains, visit sagunja for the freedom in picking out whatever looks good, not worrying about differing plate prices.

Sushi Train, Chatswood
– safe and predictable sushi chain (ha, see what we did there?)

Blue Fin Sushi, Chatswood Westfield
– pretty meh food, but close to the Westfield Hoyts cinema if you’re cutting it fine with time.

Makanai, Chatswood Westfield
– opened midway through the 52 weeks and a new favourite with tasty tasty ramen

San Churros, Chatswood Westfield
–  world’s best-practice placement for a restaurant. after a stressful movie all we often wanted was dessert – come down the escalators and oh, look, there it is.

The next 52

After enjoying this time off from the weekly commitment, we’ve decided to take it easy for a while, before potentially pitching new ideas to different places about how this might continue.

We were pretty excited to find out a few months into the 52 weeks that Hoyts actually recognised our free tickets with Hoyts Rewards points, so we have a good stash of these that we’ll use for an extra 3-4 weeks of movies. We were given Events cinema vouchers as late Christmas presents, so we’re looking forward to stepping out of the Hoyts paradigm too.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride, even if it’s been a long and often unpredictable time between posts! Feel free to let us know if you’d like to continue reading, how you might see this growing/changing etc.

a+j

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New year, new movies

10 Feb

It’s that time of year again, when everyone starts exclaiming “It’s February! Can you believe how fast the year is going?”

We too, have lost track of time. If you’d asked one of us how many movies we were yet to review here, we might say two or three. Apparently, no, we’ve seen six … which means there’s only one or two weeks to go in the first 52*.

*this fact brings a tear to J’s eye. We’re quite attached to our movie dates.

Stay tuned for the next 52…

Sherlock Holmes

She says: The score I give this movie is definitely testament to my new ‘boys-movies-are-ok’ attitude. It was dark, it flirted with suspense, and there were quite a few sword fights. Robert Downey Jnr was cool as ever and I loved it. 8/10

He says: I was really surprised that I enjoyed this movie.  The reviews leading in were very negative but it was actually a lot of fun; particularly Robert Downey Jnr who as always put on a great show. 7.5/10

Muppet Movie

She says: Did not see this one coming. Hated the Muppets as a kid because I didn’t get it, but now I do. Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) wrote the script and brought in Flight of the Conchords star Bret McKenzie to do the music. Together, they are amazing. 9.5/10

He Says: This was a last minute choice but turned out to be fantastic; it even has a special guest appearance from Sheldon Cooper… 9/10

Darkest Hour

She says: I didn’t want to go to this movie and I shouldn’t have. It was boring and the Australian girl, Rachael Taylor, was flimsy and annoying. Gah. 4/10

He says: This movie had a clever concept for a low budget sci-fi but it never really got anywhere.  It ended up as a Russian version of Skyline. 3/10

Hugo

She says: Little Hugo describes movies as ‘dreams coming to life in the daytime’. This is how I felt watching this; like I was dreaming of Paris, in Scorsese’s golden and royal blue hues. Hugo achieved an overall beauty (within a train station!) that was far more evocative than Midnight in Paris. Plot was a bit meh though, so save for DVD. 7/10

He says: This was a very odd film.  On one hand it was beautiful and showcased Scorsese’s grasp of cinema and yet it suffered from an entire first half that was essentially irrelevant and did very little to tell the actual story.  Not a kids movie as the trailers might suggest, but rather a movie for filmmakers. 7/10

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

She says: We were warned that this was going to be a slow burn and boy, was it ever. It also took me a while to figure out which old white man was which. Eventually it all clicked into place and the denoument was rewarding. 8/10

He says: Slow burn really doesn’t do this film justice, glacial would be more appropriate.  However, one of the ‘smarter’ movies in recent times where you actually have to engage with the film to understand what is happening.  Definitely not a film made by this guy. 7.5/10

Chronicle

She says: If you hated the sister in Atonement, don’t think twice about seeing this movie. It is deliberately provocative, determined to make you seek vengance towards an emo teenager. I really, really hated him. And thus I walked away fuming…for days. I might have to admit defeat with my boys-movies-are-ok mantra, on this one. 3/10

He says:  A very cool film once again from a filmmakers point of view.  The special effects are great and it really plays with the ‘found film’ genre in a way that makes it a lot more watchable than films like Cloverfield. 7/10

He says, she says: the 2011 awards

4 Jan

As 2011 wrapped up, we stumbled upon these two fabulous videos by Matt Shapiro and GenRocks. They inspired us to recap with some of our own reflections on 2011 – the year of free flicks.

Cheers, Telstra.


He says, she says: the 2011 awards

Our top ten for 2011 (aggregate of two ratings per film)

1. Lion King
2. Limitless
3. X Men First Class
4. The King’s Speech
5. Moneyball
6. Ides of March
7. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
8. Real Steel
9. Happy Feet 2
10. Gnomeo and Juliet

Best things in life can be free (best film)

She says: X Men First Class. So impressive that it started a trend of me agreeing to see more ‘boy’ movies – most of which have paid off.

He says: Limitless – this was the movie I didn’t see coming. Most movies that I really like I have seen the trailer months in advance and am really looking forward to…this one came out of the blue and blew me away!

Glad I didn’t pay money to see this! (worst film)

She says: Bad Teacher. The kind of movie I couldn’t justify paying for, but was curious to see after the trailer.

He says: One Day.  This movie was a complete waste of time; the end.

Seriously? Someone was paid millions of dollars to make that? (most annoying)

She says: Green Hornet. What was Cameron Diaz thinking?! (Most annoying characters = all the apes from Return of Planet of the Apes/Mater from Cars2)

He says: Source Code. I so wanted to enjoy this movie, but the entire premise was so ridiculous and the plot full of holes you could drive a Mack truck through that it just really, really annoyed me.

Biggest fail

She says: Tie between One Day and the cinema speakers for the Lion King at Chatswood’s Mandarin Centre. One Day didn’t live up to its ridiculous amount of hype, and as for the speakers… well, if you’ve read the blog at all over the last year you’d know our thoughts on this particular sore point.

He says: Hoyts Westfield catching the bad sound virus from the Mandarin Centre. In MI:4 at a very crucial and tense moment the speakers dropped out… completely… the only sound you could hear was a collective groan from the audience. Luckily the sound came back about 5 seconds later…

Surprise win

She says: Action movies in general. AJW has tried to show me lots on our screen at home, and they’ve had no impact, but put me in a cinema and I’m entranced. Often encouraged to violence, too.

He says: King’s Speech – I really didn’t go into this one with high expectations, but you can see from the results that this ended up being one of the best films of the year!

Best performance

She says: Saoirse Ronan, Hanna. This girl took my breath away.
Special commendation also to Hugo Weaving – good guy in Oranges and Sunshine + Happy Feet 2, bad guy in Captain America + Transformers.

He says: Colin Firth in King’s Speech = Fantastic!

Best drama

She says: Jane Eyre

He says: Ides of March

Best sci-fi

She says: This is an oxymoron. (And I don’t really think many of these films are legit sci-fi, anyway)

He says: X-Men First Class – just beats out Super 8’s pure, classic sci-fi

Best action

She says: Limitless, just over Mi4

He says: Transformers 3 (for sheer explosions and action – MI:4 was a better movie…)

Best comedy

She says: Out of a small crowd in 2011, Horrible Bosses

He says: Horrible Bosses

Kids

She says: Gnomeo and Juliet (only because it’s a new concept, as compared to my favourites in Happy Feet/Lion King)

He says: Happy Feet 2 – one that kids and adults can equally enjoy

Three more movies

1 Jan

A few people have asked what we’ll do now that the movies are over… but neverfear, the fun goes on into 2012! Our 52 weeks started in February, so there’s still more free movies to go.

P.S. We’ll have a special ‘he says/she says’ awards blog later this week, but for now, here’s how we wrapped up 2011:

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

She says: In February, I asked: since when did Colin Firth look so old?

Now in December, it only took  five minutes of this film for me to ask AJW: since when did Tom Cruise look so good?! I never understood the appeal until now – this nearly-50-year-old makes running to catch bad guys look easy.

To prepare for Mi4, AJW showed me Mi3. Predictably, I was bored for most of it. So I wouldn’t have chosen to see Mi4 myself, but somehow this film captured me for the full 133 minutes – enough of a plot and four quirky main characters helped to get through the stressful bits. 9/10

He says: A classic Mission Impossible: Tom Cruise does his best “running face,” there are incredible stunts and masks, plenty of masks.  However, MI:3 was my favourite of the movies for its great character work.  How could you forget that opening scene as Philip Seymor-Hoffman tortures Tom Cruise.  MI:4 is lacking this depth – until the final act.  As a result the film doesn’t quite ‘grab’ you as MI:3 does. Nevertheless the film is still a lot of fun. 8.5/10

 The Adventures of Tintin

She says: I used to watch the 90’s Tintin cartoons, not religiously, but on the occasional afternoon. I may have seen a comic once.

But then I bought three Tintin artworks in Vietnam and now everyone who visits our house thinks I’m a huge fan. Um, not really. I just liked the cartoon.

Anyhoo. The Spielberg & co version was pretty to look at, with 3D animation that proved itself good enough to forget it was animated, and a plotline that rolled on happily. A good adventurous film, but not a standout. 8/10

He says: Directors all have their own fingerprints; Spielberg’s have shaped a generation of cinema and Tintin has Spielberg all over it.  Whether it is the young protagonist, the tight chase scenes, the redemption of family or the trekking adventure this film has his traces all through it, and I loved it for that.

It is not a particularly amazing film from a story and character sense but it is entertaining and the animation is fantastic!  I do though question whether Spielberg might have been better to make this live action. 7.5/10

Happy Feet 2

She says: A cute-cute-cute sequel (now with added baby penguins).

It was a tad heartwrenching to sit there in the cinema and think that the gloom-and-doom plotline is actually playing out in the polar regions, especially after the media introduced us to the ‘real happy feet’ this year.

But of course, the penguins and their friends – a mish-mash of Hollywood and Australian superstars – work together to save the day, and it all ends with a song.

Kind of like Glee, with animated marine life.

Highlights: lots of familiar voices, the self-depreceating wit of Brad Pitt and Matt Damon (Bill and Will the krill),  the mass-musical interludes. My definition of a feel-good film, where you walk out feeling ridiculously uplifted*.

9.5/10

*NB saw this on my birthday. Might have been biased towards gleefulness.

He says: Once again I was surprised by dancing penguins.  Going into the first Happy Feet I thought it would be a little bit of fun and came out quite enjoying the movie.

Once again I had this reaction, really liking Happy Feet 2.  Sure it has a very simplistic plot but there are some touching and funny moments that hold it together.  There is also some great voice acting, particularly Brad Pitt and Matt Damon… you can just picture them hanging out in a voice recording studio coming up with crazy things to say. 7.5/10

A special guest post

14 Dec

Silly season indeed! We’re booked out all week, and can’t even squeeze in a movie. So we’ve asked our dear friends Lisa and Nick to step up and keep the 52-week flame alive.

They saw a movie we haven’t seen (and probably wouldn’t) so we appreciate the variety – thanks guys!

Drive

She says: Started off being ‘arts-ily’ slow and very little dialogue and I started to wonder if Ryan Gosling would ever take the toothpick out of his mouth and talk. About half way through the movie it was like someone flicked a switch and the movie changed, to be somewhat more gory (comically at times), which wasn’t what I expected.

A few really cool songs on the soundtrack but an awful font choice for the opening and closing credits (I know that sounds incredibly wanky and I wouldn’t normally comment on a font but that’s how much it annoyed me).

Overall – interesting, but not my cup of tea when Ryan’s sinister side came out & I got a little tired of the silence when he didn’t talk.

6/10

He says: Not at all what I was expecting!

This film really appealed to my quirky artistic side. Long scenes without dialogue where expressions and body language tell the story. It was beautiful to watch with natural lighting and slow mo’s making even an urban wasteland look appealing.

It also ticked a lot of boy boxes with fast cars, hardcore violence, a cute girl and few cool father/son undertones. Definitely more for the Indy film lovers rather than the mainstream peeps, but I rate it!

8/10

The beginning of the end…

6 Dec

We think we’re at about 40 films out of the full 52… but who’s counting?

Alas, we’re starting to see trailers for movies that – shock, horror – will be released in February/March, so won’t be free for us to see at the cinema. With this in mind, we’re exploring options for 2012 and beyond: stay tuned.

Anonymous

She says: The historical mish mash of the plot had me seething, but it was lovely to bask in the glory of the Globe Theatre, and the phenomenal casting of Redman/Richardson as Elizabeth I. 7/10

He says: A very different turn for Roland Emerich from films like this but quite entertaining and stylish. 7/10

Three Musketeers

She says: This blatently obvious knock-off of the Pirates franchise (recycled music, recycled Orlando) was redeemed by Matthew MacFayden, and the pleasure of watching sword fights for a couple of hours. 7/10

He says: An enjoyable popcorn film that wasn’t helped by terrible sound from Hoyts again! 6.5/10

Midnight in Paris

She says: Friends insisted that this would be my favourite movie of all time…alas. It was gorgeous, and made me want to live in Paris for a few months, years, oh, some indiscriminate amount of time, but I felt inadequate for not recognising some characters. Left feeling intellectually snubbed. 7/10

He says: A clever premise but once again the film suffered from the ‘look at me look at me I am SUCH an indie film and I will make it really obvious I am an indie film’ syndrome. 5/10

Moneyball

She says: Wow. We were looking forward to Aaron Sorkin’s script for months and though there were only a few clearly identifiable moments of unique wordplay, it still built up to a spectacular performance for Brad Pitt. 9/10

He says: I really was surprised by how much I enjoyed this film, it is very hard to make a good film about statistics, you either superimpose cool looking numbers like this or you hire Brad Pitt and write a sharp and witty script.  The second approach results in this! 9/10

Ides of March

  She says: High expectations and high rewards from this one. After finishing the West Wing 6 months ago, we’ve been missing solid political drama (on the screen, at least) and this film hit the spot. Clever, clever, clever. 9/10

He says: One of the best films we have seen this year, it was like watching someone build a beautiful, intricate house of cards for 1 hour and then suddenly the little kid comes and pulls out the foundation card … you watch it all tumble down. 9/10

Twelve movies later

29 Oct

Oops.

We’ve left you in the lurch – for nearly three months!

We started a new film project a few months ago – it’s taken priority over blogging time without us realising.

Anyhoo.

Here are ten movie reviews – including three very strong contenders for the worst movie of the year.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Glee Live
Jane Eyre
Cowboys and Aliens
Horrible Bosses
One Day
Johnny English Reborn
Lion King
Abduction
Monte Carlo
Real Steel
In Time

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

She says: At the start I thought they were selling me a nice conservation message, but by the end I passionately hated the grumpy, angry apes – with a vengeance I’d only known for Mater in Cars2. So the emphatic point of this film was entirely lost on me, I walked out fuming. 4/10

He says: I really liked this movie, it was well thought-out, featured cleverly some cutting edge science (the pharmaceutical angle certainly added to the appeal!) and had little references sprinkled throughout linking it to the original film. 8.5/10

Also it is eerie how this children’s song predicts so much of the film…

Glee Live
Glee Live

She says: We love the TV show but didn’t expect much of the movie. So we thought we could justifiably sneak  in 30 mins late – oops. The movie was surprisingly engaging – there are some compellingly bizarre Glee fans in the states – and we regretted coming in too late for Don’t Stop Believing (our wedding recessional) in all its live 3D goodness. 7/10

He says: I don’t particularly like ‘live show’ movies; however Glee 3D was fantastic and really showed the potential for 3D films – music videos.  It really made it feel like you were there and if anyone wants to shoot a 3D music video please contact me as I really want to give it a go now! 7/10

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre

She says: Swooooooooooooooon*. Mr Rochester was never this hot in the book! I loved being taken away to the beautiful lands of the novel, though I kept expecting Jane to go off wandering through villages and stealing pigs… not a completely true retelling but nicely intepreted for the film and time parameters. 8.5/10

*On a side note, is anyone else watching The Slap?

He says: Glad I didn’t go to this one…

C*owboys and Aliens
Cowboys and Aliens

She says: I was glad to hear the report that this film was true to its title and wouldn’t have held any interest for me whatsoever.

He says: Isn’t it great when a title perfectly describes the movie, you go in wanting cowboys shooting at aliens and you come out grinning because there were cowboys, bad aliens, good aliens AND indians all shooting at each other! 7.5/10

Horrible Bosses
Horrible Bosses

She says: Liked it more than Bridesmaids but less than both Hangovers. Definitely fits into the categories of both those movies, in terms of ridiculous plot devices and crude comedy. 8/10

He says: Pretty crude, but there were a few moments of laugh out loud hilarity that helped me get to the end. 7/10

One Day
One Day

She says: Contender for worst movie of the year. The trailer promised so much but this film was just… boring. I spent the first half admiring Anne Hathway’s hair and costumes, and the second half waiting for it to end (with only one adrenalin spike picking me up and eventually carrying it through). 3/10

He says: It is sad when the only thing can say about a film is that it had good opening titles…. 1/10

Johnny English Reborn
Johnny English Reborn

She says: Also a contender for worst movie of the year. We vaguely remembered having enjoyed the first one but ohhh this was just a painful lame fest. I actually muttered ‘lame’ very loudly throughout it – much to AJW’s embarrasment. Although, there was one outstanding moment after the credits – Rowan Atkinson’s synchronised cooking to classical music – that was brilliant. 2/10

He says: I am not sure if it is just me but has Rowan Atkinson gotten less funny over time?  Some truly painful moments of ‘comedy’ in this one. 3/10

The Lion King
The Lion King

She says: Once upon a time, it was my claim to fame that I knew every word to The Lion King. The soundtrack was played both on our newly purchased CD player (gosh! a CD!) and on pretty much every car trip for a good half-decade of my life. So when this started at the Chatswood Mandarin Hoyts*, and you couldn’t hear it properly, I was mad. But I decided that seeing it on the big screen was all that mattered so I just sung my own version to myself (and AJW, ha) and all was ok. 10/10 for the best movie of all time.

He says: Hoyts very nearly ruined this movie for me…another strike for the terrible sound system* at Chatswood Mandarin Centre Hoyts (the surround speakers had their EQ seriously out so there was no low end or mids).  Also even though I raved about the 3D in Glee – this is one movie that the 3D treatment added nothing to; in fact I think the 2D is probably better.

Hoyts 1/10 the movie 9/10

* Note – we bought the BluRay after this, and rewatched The Lion King at home – proving once and for all that the sound’s better in our little house system than at Chatswood Mandarin – where they ask for $17 a movie (except if you’re with Telstra). Fail, Hoyts.

Abduction
Abduction

She says: Yet another contender for worst movie (we had a bad few weeks). This would have made an awesome drinking game – purely for the excessiveness of Taylor Lautner’s languishing looks and shirtless cameos. It also could have made a great movie, if it hadn’t been bordering the teen/adult line so strangely – dwingling between teen romance and suspense – so it was just all a bit ‘meh’. 4/10

He says: One of the funniest movies of the year…even though it was meant to be serious. Note: If I had $1 for each time they shamelessly worked in a way for Taylor to take his shirt off in this film I would be very rich.  7.5/10 (so bad it was so good)

Watch this clip and you don’t need to see this movie…

Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo

She says: Hello, Luke Bracey! I know I’m married and all now but I spent most of this film thinking “why have I never seen you before, you handsome Australian actor?” In fact I may have jumped onto IMDB online before the credits just because he captivated me so. Anyhoo, the rest of the film was lovely and delightfully ridiculous, as expected. I even had a moment of self-realisation – my secret ambition in life is clearly ‘be mistaken as a celebrity’, because I lap up these films. 8/10

He says: I didn’t go to this movie…perhaps I shouldn’t have let Jo go either…..

Real Steel
Real Steel

She says: Hello, Hugh Jackman! (These two movies sure made up for the previous worst contenders). I read an SMH review before seeing this that said “Real Steel, despite the name, despite the trailer and despite every instinct you have, does not require that you care one gizmo about the robots.” This was true and it was great! Unusually for me, I even came to love the (very pretentious) child actor – a miracle! 9/10

He says: I really enjoyed this movie (surprisingly) it was light hearted and Hugh Jackman did a great job moving the film along with some decent acting. 8/10

In Time
In Time

She says: This movie was cool. It  looked cool (cars, hair*, costumes etc) and played it cool. This also meant it didn’t get too hot – no heightened suspense or tension – so happy days! In seeing the trailers we had thought it could reach Inception’s clever/complexity levels, and while it was a clever idea (certainly got us thinking/talking in the car afterwards) it wasn’t quite as redefining. 9/10

NB: I debated throughout the movie whether or not I could pull off Amanda Seyfried’s hairstyle – but AJW says no. Feel free to comment if you think otherwise and/or if you know where I could find a similar wig.

He says: I was really looking forward to this movie, the trailer (for once) didn’t give too much away and it looked like an interesting new sci-fi movie.  However, it failed to live up to expectations as the whole movie was what could best be described as flat, the action never really amounted to much and you never really felt worried for the main characters. 7.5/10