Here is what I watched in November.
Yi Yi (dir. Edward Yang, 2000)
There is no way to describe this drama as anything other than an exceptional portrait of a family.
Woman of the Year (dir. George Stevens, 1942)
This is my favorite Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn pairing and one of my favorite movies. [My post on Woman of the Year.]
In Time (dir. Andrew Niccol, 2011)
Is In Time the most ridiculous movie I have seen this year? Not quite, but it’s up there. After all, Amanda Seyfried looks like an air doll. (See: above.) [My post on In Time.]
Martha Marcy May Marlene (dir. Sean Durkin, 2011) — A frightening wonder of a movie. I am in awe of Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes.
Page One: Inside the New York Times (dir. Andrew Rossi, 2011)
Thanks to endless nights spent in the newsroom when I was in college, it was inevitable that I would love Page One. What this documentary lacks in some areas, it makes up for in its captivating portrait of the New York Times during a crucial year in its existence. Media reporter David Carr serves as the face of the newspaper and dominates this extremely enjoyable documentary.
The Town (dir. Ben Affleck, 2010) — I rewatched The Town this week for the first time since I saw it in theaters last year. Despite some impressive heist scenes, The Town is a rather dull movie with lackluster characters. [My post on The Town.]
Incendies (dir. Denis Villeneuve, 2010)
After their mother’s death, Jeanne and Simon are given two letters – one for their father who they believed to be dead and one of a brother they didn’t know existed. They go their mother’s ancestral homeland, an unnamed Middle Eastern country, to learn the secrets of their mother’s past. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2010 Oscars, Incendies is a fascinating and entertaining film that is mysterious, shocking, and ultimately moving.
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (dir. John Ford, 1949) — Few things are more entertaining than a John Ford western starring John Wayne.
J. Edgar (dir. Clint Eastwood, 2011)
J. Edgar is the kind of biopic where you are waiting for the title character to die; it’s boring. J. Edgar Hoover is an endlessly fascinating man and Eastwood’s film didn’t capture that. Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, and an underused Naomi Watts do the best with the material they are given but J. Edgar is a disappointment.
The Mortal Storm (dir. Frank Borzage, 1940)
James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, and Robert Young play childhood friends who find their ideals clashing as the support for Nazism grows in their small Bavarian town. The Mortal Storm is an anti-Nazi Hollywood film released before the American entry into World War II and its release led to MGM films being banned in Nazi Germany. This alone makes it a film worth watching.
Take Me Home Tonight (dir. Michael Dowse, 2011) — A fun throwback to the best John Hughes’ movies. Set in 1988, recent graduate Matt (Topher Grace) is working at the mall and drifting through life. When his high school crush Tori (Teresa Palmer) walks into the store, he pretends to work at Goldman Sachs. She invites him out to a party and one crazy night follows. Anna Faris and Dan Fogler are hilarious in supporting roles as Matt’s sister and best friend. Take Me Home Tonight wasn’t readily praised when it was released but I think as more people see it, this movie will get its fair due.
The Yellow Handkerchief (dir. Udayan Prasad, 2008)
William Hurt, Kristen Stewart, and the kid who spends a week with Marilyn go on a road trip through the South to find Maria Bello. It sounds like the set up for a bad joke. Except its not. The Yellow Handkerchief is a satisfying independent drama with William Hurt delivering a fantastic performance as a recently released convict.
Limitless (dir. Neil Burger, 2011) — Did I watch this honor of Sexiest Man Alive Bradley Cooper? I’ll never tell.
The Children’s Hour (dir. William Wyler, 1961)
I have been meaning to watch this adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s play for years. Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn star as Martha and Karen, teachers at a private girls school. After a student tells a malicious lie that Matha and Karen are lesbians, their reputations are destroyed and the women become outcasts. MacLaine, who plays the more tragic of the two women, is absolutely incredible in this movie. As is Fay Bainter, in her final screen appliance, as the student’s grandmother who actively condemns the women. (Bainter was nominated for an Academy Award.) Directed by William Wyler, The Children’s Hour is an exceptionally well-made drama and the portrayal of homosexuality, especially the community’s reaction to it, holds up today.
Like Crazy (dir. Drake Doremus, 2011) — Like Crazy captures the beauty, the passion, and the heartbreak that comes from first relationships. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones are fantastic as Jacob and Anna, two twenty-somethings who fall in love and are kept apart for reasons beyond their control. One aspect of Like Crazy I forgot to discuss in my review is the editing and several seamless montages. These montages effortlessly displays the happiness and pain causes by romance and separation. [My review of Like Crazy.]
Captain America: The First Avenger (dir. Joe Johnston, 2011) — Something happened in this movie. Toby Jones is an evil Nazi scientist. There’s a shield, someone named Bucky, and a British girl who gets stood up at the end of the movie. Chris Evan/Captain America is now in the future. I don’t know anything else besides this so I think I’m ready for The Avengers.
The American President (dir. Rob Reiner, 1995) — This is one of those movies I just love and when I saw that it was available to stream on Netflix, I had to watch it again. I desperately want Aaron Sorkin to write one more movie or TV series to go along with The American President and The West Wing.
Of Gods and Men (dir. Xavier Beauvois, 2010)
Of Gods and Men is a powerful drama. It is based on the true story of nine Trappist monks living in Algeria. They live peacefully among the Muslim community until the start of the Algerian Civil War in 1996. The monks are then faced with the decision to leave or stay. See this movie now.
Morning Glory (dir. Roger Michell, 2010)
I love Morning Glory and I think it was sorely under appreciated when it was released last year. Apparently every movie about broadcast journalism has to be like Network or Broadcast News. That’s an unfair standard. Morning Glory is a fun, light comedy about a girl who loves her job and how there isn’t anything wrong with that. Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, and Diane Keaton are great as the main characters. If you read anything about this movie, read my friend Jen’s write-up about Morning Glory here.