1. How I Live Now - There is just way too much stupid in this movie for me to fully enjoy it. However, the idea behind it is fantastic and there are some really strong, disturbing images of war, and it slightly touches on the effects that such a war would have on our current generation. The story takes place in the UK, but the main character is American. It is clear that the writers are not American, and their research on American teenagers stopped at the 90's. Not only did she seem outdated, she is also a narcissistic cunt, who truly believes that everything bad that happens in the world is because of her. Her whole "I'm a curse" shtick got old quickly. I really like Saoirse Ronan, but this is the third movie in a row that I saw, in which she is terrible (The Host and Violet & Daisy are the other two). Plus, just like The Host, her inner monologue is hard to listen to - so painfully monotonous. Her character is not only a bitch, but she's also stupid and vapid (yet, she somehow apparently has a map of the UK memorized in her head....seriously, how does she have any idea where she is walking to? I don't know many American teenagers who can navigate another country with a map, let alone without one.). I think the book is probably waaaaaaaaay better, and this is one of the movies that I would love a "do over", because in the right hands it could be incredible.
2. Diana - So, obviously I was expecting a terrible movie. The reviews are all very harsh and many people warned me "don't watch it", but I love Naomi Watts so much, there is just no way for me to totally skip this movie based on other opinions (I don't really avoid any movie, I watch everything!). I admit, though, this is a huge waste of time and it is offensive on pretty much every level. The filmmakers decided to take the whole "people's princess" approach by showing Diana doing "normal" activities (like making her own toast). They also did the exact opposite of what they promised (I read that the film avoided her paparazzi past and focused on her work. LIES, ALL LIES!!). The entire focus of the film is on her personal life and her relationship with Hasnat Khan, which was a "secret" love affair, and how she used the paparazzi to make him jealous. There is a disgusting anti-feminist sentiment in this movie that actually claims Diana would be nothing after her divorce, if it wasn't for Khan's influence and it basically accuses her of her own death (since she was the one that was leaking stuff to the paparazzi, it's her own fault). The tactics that Diana used to control the paparazzi, are used today by many celebrities (leak information, give them what they want, so they may leave you alone for other activities. She also used them to give attention to places and people who needed help). It's certainly not her fault that these vultures needed more than she was willing to give. I am not one to stick up for celebrities who seek attention and then complain that they have no privacy, however I've seen the paparazzi first-hand and they are out of control (A few years ago, I was walking on Melrose during my lunch break and Britney Spears was shopping in one of the stores. The swarm of people with camera's was overwhelming and I was trampled - like knocked to the ground with no regard. One of her "people" came outside to see if I was o.k - none of the paparazzi people apologized or even acknowledged that they did anything wrong). Anyway, I want to see a movie about Diana, not a movie about a pathetic, love-stricken, emotional wreck that this movie portrayed her as. Naomi Watts looked the part (it helped that they re-enacted many iconic images), but she seemed really inauthentic (which is the opposite of Diana), and her and Naveen Andrews have zero chemistry. Diana was a role model for many women, including myself, and this movie diminishes her work and her strength. I feel like the filmmakers owe me an apology.
3. Captain Phillips - This movie was so much better than I was expecting. I don't know why, but I was dreading watching it. I honestly had no good reason. I love Tom Hanks, I love Paul Greengrass, and it received overall good reviews (and was even nominated for an Oscar!). Not only did I really enjoy it, I agree with the people who claim Hanks was snubbed for an Oscar nomination. He was excellent throughout the movie, but so were a lot of actors this year. Then, in the last scene of the movie, he absolutely blew me away. It's possibly his best acting scene ever. Since the story is based on the actual event, of course I had to read about how accurate the movie is (the consensus seems to be pretty accurate, except for a few who claim the captain wasn't as brave as the movie claims, which isn't all that surprising - of course our main character would have heightened heroism). It's interesting how prepared they were for an actual pirate event, and Captain Phillips seemed to take all of the necessary steps. It's just so different when something terrible is actually happening and you are the one responsible for other peoples lives - nothing can prepare you for it. The film also sets up a narrative for the Somalians. We understand why they are doing what they are doing, even if it is morally reprehensible. Greengrass is one of the few directors who can use the handheld shaky camera thing properly, in order to intensify the action and the immediate threat of the situation. The movie grabs your attention from the beginning and doesn't let it go until the very end. By the end, I could barely breathe.
4. And While We Were Here - In contrast to Captain Phillips, this is a movie in which I am completely baffled by the use of the shaky cam. How is it effective for this movie? Is it enhancing it in any way? The answer is no. While, I doubt this movie will stay in my memory for very long, I did enjoy it. Kate Bosworth is this role - she's just so....classy. I would love to see her play a role where she is completely disheveled and/or disturbed, but she continues to play it safe. I'm not really one for a love story, especially one that depicts an instant connection, but it works here. I can see why she is interested in this younger man - he's cute, fun to be around and he makes her feel good about herself (which is a strong contrast to the man that she is currently dating). I also enjoy that this relationship makes her realize some things about herself; one of them being that she has no idea who she actually is. It ends exactly how it should end. Overall, I was entertained, but it lacks a certain "specialness" (not a word, I know) that movies like this need in order to be memorable.
5. The Croods - How on Earth was this movie nominated for an Academy Award? It's not bad or anything, but there is absolutely nothing amazing about it. The animation is ok, but seems a little flat. It made me smile a few times, but it was hardly laugh out loud funny. The "moral" is kind of stupid - it's basically saying "don't listen to your parents". The voice actors are terrible - Nicholas Cage struggles to show emotion using all of his abilities, just imagine how terrible he is when he is reduced to using just his voice?! Emma Stone has a super sexy voice, but it's that low, smoky kind of voice - not the voice of an eager teenager. And don't even get me started on Ryan Reynolds. I don't understand how this guy is famous - and if it's just because he has nice abs (that's literally the only nice thing I can say about him), then what's the point of him doing voice work? On the other hand, my cat seemed to enjoy the movie a lot; she didn't look away from the screen during its entire run-time, so I guess that's.......something (she also loved Rango, in case you're interested).