Anyone who knows me knows I am a cinephile. Well, really, a screen-ephile. I will watch almost anything on a big, little, or silver screen. I joke with my friends that I will watch anything once, but it's really not a joke - somehow the only reality show I haven't seen is Survivor and that was the OG reality tv show that premiered somewhere around my high school years, when I was still stuck on Gilmore Girls and The OC. I have two levels of criticism for the things I watch: "Really Good," and "Maddy Good" - "Maddy Good" meaning that I have found some amount of entertainment or pleasure from watching whatever it is, even if it is nowhere near critically acclaimed. "Really Good" means that I could recommend it to other people without shame and agree there is actual talent behind it. For example, "Maddy Good" would be Real Housewives of NYC, while "Really Good" would be Good Will Hunting. You see the difference? Now, don't be leaving me comments about how Good Will Hunting isn't that good. Just don't (Ok, but you actually could if you wanted to! I'm open to discussion.)
With that said, I thought this week I'd share three movies I've seen recently that I would recommend to all of you, whether they're MGood or RGood:
1. Side Effects (2013)
I'll admit, I didn't care enough to see this movie in theaters. It looked intriguing, and I usually like thrillers, but something about it just seemed too straightforward in the trailers (woman takes a pill, pill has weird side effects, done and done) and I never made the effort to watch it. Luckily, I also never read the spoilers (as I sometimes do - hey, I like to know what happens!), so when Leslie and I decided to watch it last week, it was brand new. Let me just tell you, there are twists and turns here that we couldn't have predicted, and twists we predicted and still couldn't really believe they put into the movie. Though there was a bit of a lull in the middle as the story shifted from following one character to another, the script was well written, the plot was well constructed, and the actors were cast very well (including a spot by Vinessa Shaw of Hocus Pocus fame as Jude Law's wife!) When it boils down to it, I enjoyed this movie far more than I'd originally thought I would, so thank you Netflix. I'd say this is somewhere between MGood and RGood, and definitely worth a watch if you're in the mood for something a bit creepy and suspenseful!
2. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
This movie is RGood. Really really really RGood. I'm not just saying that because it deals with a serious subject matter -- though I appreciate the brutal honesty given to the subject, and think it is an important film for people to watch as a vehicle for a deeper look at slavery in America -- but because it is a beautiful film in its own right. The cinematography, the music selection, the sound editing, the ACTING - all of it was perfection. I really think Chiwetel Ejiofor (who played Solomon Northrup) should have won Best Actor, and I'm so glad it got recognized as Best Picture (though it was interesting that Brad Pitt was the first to speak in accepting the award!), as it truly was a feat of filmmaking. I felt transported to that era, to that plantation, through the whole movie. Parts were horrific and difficult to watch, but that's the point. Slavery was horrific but it happened, and this film shows the perspectives of everyone involved, from "kind" slaveowners (who still sell slaves at a moment's notice and treat them like cattle to be traded or bartered or done away with) to the more sadistic plantation owners, to the slaves themselves who were born into that life, to slaves who escaped through one means or another, to the plantation owners wives. It was a hard, heartbreaking, intense, masterfully done film, and I really recommend it to everyone.
3. Veronica Mars (2014)
I love me some Veronica Mars, but I'm going to accept that this film is more on the side of MGood. It was incredibly well done for the budget and time frame it had, but I agree with the reviews that describe it as a "bigger version of the television show" - meaning it still had that episodic, TV feel. However, as a fan of the three seasons of VM that aired from 2004-2007, every minute of it was a joy to watch. The inside jokes for VM fans were plentiful (from a cameo by Kristen Bell's husband to sly references to past episode plot points) and the acting was fantastic, as expected from this group of actors. My favorite scenes were those between Veronica and her father, played by Enrico Colantoni, and the film did a fantastic job of recreating that beloved relationship from the show. The plot felt as if it were written as a slightly longer television episode, but I appreciated that the characters had to be reintroduced to the world we had come to know and love after so many years away, and that that reintroduction took valuable screen time. It was concise, quippy, intelligent, and true to the show so many have loved over the years. I would recommend this movie for everyone, but I would also understand some who were not quite as enamored of it as I am myself. That said, I plan to watch it again several times.
Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think?