For a good part of the last year, I have spent Sundays going to the movies. Since we've revived the blog, I'm proclaiming Sunday as Movie Sunday, in which I'll post short reviews of the films I've watched that week. Appreciating the creative work of others is essential to being creative ourselves.
Blackfish (2013) - ★★★
Blackfish is a CNN documentary tracing the lives of several Orca whales held in captivity by Sea World, and the incidents surrounding multiple trainer injuries and deaths. The film was moving to me, but not for the reason the internet at large made me think.
I was expecting an exposé on the poor conditions of the animals, but honestly, did anyone expect much different? These are 10,000 pound animals used to the whole of the open ocean, and they've been put in concrete and glass pools. Did any expect or assume this was close to humane? What I found more interesting was the party line regarding the safety of the interactions in the face of—what seems to me—overwhelming evidence.
The production values are very high as one might expect from CNN, but I think the documentary suffers from that corporate backing. While they were definitively clear on their stance, I feel like the documentary was declawed a bit in the face of one corporation not being overly critical of another. In either case, it's worth a watch.
MST3K: Warrior of the Lost World (1993) - ★★★★
These are often difficult to rate because it's sometimes hard to separate the badness of the movie being mocked from the badness of the episode, but this episode in particular is one of the best I've seen. The movie is safely in that realm of "so bad it's good," with truly awful, stilted dialogue, ridiculous stunts, and bland acting. The banter of Joel, Crow, and Tom is spot on, and everything about this one is marvelous. If you're up for a silly time, I recommend this episode of MST3K.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) - ★★★★★
These days, I will watch any movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. He has thoroughly shed the teenage heartthrob image he garnered from Titanic and has become something of a tour de force. He's had just stellar performances in his last several roles, and his portrayal of Jordan Belfort is no exception.
This movie is superbly acted. DiCaprio and Jonah Hill play extremely well off each other, and the supporting cast is equally fantastic in their roles. Couple that with the superb cinematography and nearly perfect editing, and you get Scorsese's best film since Goodfellas. In fact, I would call Wolf of Wall Street the Goodfellas of a new generation: one more enamored with the fraud and big money of Wall Street investments than the Mafioso made men of our parents.
I was curious about this movie, but it wasn't really on my must-see list for 2013, but that was an error in judgment. It is up there with American Hustle as one of my favorite movies of last year.
Frozen (2013) - ★★★★
Another great installment from the Disney/Pixar geniuses. The story is plenty of fun, offering up humor for all ages, just the right amount of drama, and just the right amount of silliness. Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel (the original Elphaba from Broadway's Wicked) offer up fine performances, both with fantastic musical numbers. The story is almost exactly what you'd expect from Disney, but it sends a new message, and signifies a definite shift in the politics of Disney toward a more inclusive angle. I don't want to spoil anything, but suffice it to say, it's a step away from their traditional conflict resolution and toward a much more modern solution.