If it seems quiet…

Posted by · 4:09 pm · October 13th, 2009

…it’s because it is.  Consider this an open thread.  Thoughts on “Zombieland?”  “A Serious Man?”  “An Education?”  My favorites in theaters right now.

(And yes, a post was removed.  Sorry for breaking up the conversation it had kicked up.)




→ 47 Comments Tags: , | Filed in: Daily

47 responses so far

  • 1 10-13-2009 at 4:13 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I’ve already made my thoughts known here, however briefly about it, but “A Serious Man” is ridiculously brilliant. It’s been occupying my brain space for three days now. Only the Coens can do that. I lay awake at night like the dentist who finds the Hebrew letters on the goy’s teeth thinking about this film, I swear! It’s about as close to nailing the intrinsic flaws and yin-yang push and pull of the human condition as I’ve ever observed in film, not to mention it’s just a hilarious comedy. Then on the next level it’s serious existentialism. Awesome awesome.

  • 2 10-13-2009 at 4:22 pm

    JAB said...

    Paranormal Activity was my choice this weekend, planning on writing a review of that one?

    Also, why was the post taken down?

  • 3 10-13-2009 at 4:37 pm

    Blake said...

    Zombieland is good fun, but I don’t see it holding up in the long run.

    As for A Serious Man- it truly is what you said. Easily the best film of the year and far better than anything to come out of last year. It just makes me sad that I’m probably not going to enjoy a movie as much as I did this one for at least another 2 years.

  • 4 10-13-2009 at 4:39 pm

    snowballa said...

    I’ll repost my critique of “An Education” to get some feedback: I thought Carey was good but my was I a little disappointed in Nick Hornby’s script.

    SPOILER ALERT: The character of Jenny would have never gone back to David after discovering that he stole the map. I didn’t believe it, nor did I believe she was actually attractive to him, but rather attractive to the world he was introducing her to. This made her acceptance of his proposal even more baffling. Also, the introduction of the characters felt rushed.

    That being said, Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike were a delight. I will have to wait to see Precious, Julia, Bright Star (which looks hella boring) and Julie & Julia, but I can’t say with conviction that Carey gave the best female performance of the year.

  • 5 10-13-2009 at 4:46 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    JAB: It’s apparently info that wasn’t meant to be public.

  • 6 10-13-2009 at 4:47 pm

    Matthew said...

    I finally saw “Bright Star” last night, and boy do I disagree with you, Kris. I was hugely moved by the movie. It was a beautiful piece of filmmaking, with great performances (Abbie Cornish and Paul Schneider in particular), and strong technical aspects too (in particular the production and costume design, which gave new life to period costume).

  • 7 10-13-2009 at 4:48 pm

    Louis said...

    I have a movie draft coming up and will need to pick whichever movie will make the most money at the box-office and have the best per theater average. So what should I go for?

    A. Precious
    B. Up in the Air
    C. The Lovely Bones
    D. Nine
    E. Invictus

    Which one of those will be this year’s Slumdog Millionaire? Thank for all your help!

  • 8 10-13-2009 at 4:48 pm

    Vito said...

    I hear from John Campea that Zombieland might make your top 10 of the year, Kris. Is this true?

  • 9 10-13-2009 at 4:50 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    I also must second (third?) the consensus on A Serious Man. It’s one of those films that makes you laugh hysterically before marveling at its insight (à la Dr. Strangelove and I ♥ Huckabees). I’m almost tempted to say that in a just world, Joel and Ethan Coen would be looking forward to their third screenplay Oscar, but I’ll give the other upcoming releases a chance. ;)

  • 10 10-13-2009 at 4:55 pm

    James D. said...

    An Education and A Serious Man are far away from me, and unlikely to come for some time. It isn’t as if I live in Egypt; Orlando should have a faster turnaround than this.

    I agree with Matthew. If there is a deity then Bright Star will get a second win and find itself with a Best Picture nomination.

  • 11 10-13-2009 at 5:03 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    “Zombieland” is brilliant — I described it as a familial bonding coming-of-age comedy by way of zombie apocalypse. The cast is brilliant – Emma Stone, so great…

    “A Serious Man” isn’t just the best film I’ve seen this year, it’s better than any film I saw last year. I’ve yapped about it enough, though…

    “Bright Star” is about as moving as “Dance Flick”. Beautiful filmmaking and I liked it overall, but as I’ve said before, it’s too slight in too many areas.

  • 12 10-13-2009 at 5:09 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    Oh, and after seeing “A Serious Man” — I don’t see very many Academy members eating that up, it’s going to be very tough for it to sneak in, which is a shame because there are very few films as fully-formed and fleshed-out, its themes resonating from start to finish.

  • 13 10-13-2009 at 5:36 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’m glad so many are on the Serious Man train.

  • 14 10-13-2009 at 5:45 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    Just got back from A SERIOUS MAN. Wooo. Gonna need some time to process it.

  • 15 10-13-2009 at 5:48 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    i think its interesting we all thought 10 was too much but its ggonna be very competitive to get one of those 10 spots this year which is just great. I really didnt like Zombieland unfortunately and Im still waiting on a serious man and an education to come to a theatre near by. wild things in imax this weekend is what i look forward to the most

  • 16 10-13-2009 at 5:49 pm

    Daniel said...

    Chicago International Film Festival started up last week – it’s kind of a lower rung festival but I’m glad I finally got to see Bong Joon-Ho’s film, Mother, which was pretty great.

    I also got to meet Willem Dafoe yesterday. He’s just an awesome guy all around. And I got to see Antichrist, which I thought was amazing.

    I’ll jump aboard that Serious Man train soon enough me thinks.

  • 17 10-13-2009 at 6:12 pm

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    I just saw “Precious” last night in Montreal, which screened as part of the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma. I was totally floored — by everything: the direction, the cinematography, the screenplay, the PERFORMANCES!

    My goodness. I hope this apparent Mo’Nique smear campaign doesn’t amount to anything, because she stands head and shoulders above any other performance I’ve seen this year (along with Christoph Waltz). There doesn’t seem to be any way in my eyes that Mo’Nique won’t find herself at the top of everyone’s Supporting Actress list come December. Her monologue at the end of the film got under my skin in a way that hasn’t happened since Adriana Barraza ran through the desert in her red dress.

    And Gabourey Sidibe… I second every syllable that Kris and John have said about her. After hearing Anne Thompson’s opinion in the latest Oscar Talk podcast, I do understand why she says that there may be a perception that Sidibe is playing herself. However, after watching several Sidibe interviews on YouTube afterwards, I was blown away all over again by how utterly unlike Precious she is in real life. This truly is a revelatory performace, people.

    I think that, if it does come to pass that the perception of Sidibe is that she’s playing herself, the most important thing she can do is do as much press as possible.

    (On a side note, I also saw “An Education” and “Antichrist” at the festival this weekend. Both were great, but Precious has stayed with me the most.)

  • 18 10-13-2009 at 6:27 pm

    snowballa said...

    @nicholas mancuso: how unfortunate that people think gabourey is playing herself when they’ve never met her.

    i hope that doesn’t stop anyone as it didn’t stop the academy for rewarding angelina for her manic performance in “girl, interrupted.”

  • 19 10-13-2009 at 6:53 pm

    "Julianstark" said...

    I’m with Nicholas Mancuso and snowballa… when I first saw the trailer for Precious and Sidibe’s audition, I was thinking “Okay. She’s probably playing herself”…

    I must apologize for ever thinking that. A short time after, I watched an interview of hers and was floored. She’s definitely NOTHING like Precious at all. Shoot: I haven’t even seen the film and I’m wanting her to win

  • 20 10-13-2009 at 6:54 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Snowballa: Those plot aspects of “An Education” with which you have issues hew very closely to Lynn Barber’s memoir, so believable or not, that’s how it happened. Of course, if Hornby’s script couldn’t dramatise the situations credibly enough for your liking, that’s a fair gripe — though I personally disagree.

  • 21 10-13-2009 at 7:14 pm

    Joel said...

    Kris, so glad to see that you loved “Zombieland.” I just frickin’ love that movie. I saw it a second time on Sunday evening and it was still just as good. Woody Harrelson is the bomb.

    OH…and Kris, did you think Bill Murray’s cameo was just as awesome as I thought it was?

  • 22 10-13-2009 at 8:05 pm

    kid said...

    For those who didn’t see the post is it info that may go public in the near future?

  • 23 10-13-2009 at 8:06 pm

    kid said...

    Saw a serious man at TIFF and loved it, want to see an education buts not coming out in Toronto for 2 weeks

  • 24 10-13-2009 at 8:19 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Just so general thoughts on the films I have seen recently- Precious, Bright Star, and Zombieland are all good but not great. I actually didn’t care much for the first half of Zombieland but from the cameo on I felt the film really took off.

    A Serious Man just was a mess imo. Two films that really did impress me are The White Ribbon and The Damned United (shame that the latter is already seeming to have trouble finding an audience in its first week of limited release).

  • 25 10-13-2009 at 8:45 pm

    JFK said...

    I thought “An Education” was a remarkable film–glad of that too since I kinda’ went through hell to see it. I thought the performances were excellent, though I was a bit surprised by Mulligan’s turn–is all the excitement around her performance because she is playing a teenager? Other than that, I find it difficult to justify all of the praise. It may be that I am in a minority here, but I guess it is easier for me to give praise to a performance from an actor playing a character who usually maintains a sunny disposition, i.e. Polly in “Happy-Go-Lucky.” I’m curious to hear what everyone has to say on the subject.

  • 26 10-13-2009 at 8:46 pm

    JFK said...

    I wrote that last part wrong, I meant:

    It may be that I am in a minority here, but I guess it is difficult for me to give praise to a performance from an actor playing a character who usually maintains a sunny disposition, i.e. Polly in “Happy-Go-Lucky.” I’m curious to hear what everyone has to say on the subject.

  • 27 10-13-2009 at 8:56 pm

    McGuff said...

    It’s going to be weird here this fall/winter season if we all agree that A Serious Man is a great movie…

    …but it definitely is. I think there’s something said about religion in there that is so much more profound than anything Bill Maher managed with “Religulous”, while also containing other themes and balancing humor. It’s a masterful work. I’ve never really been in the Coen camp before — “No Country” has always been overrated to me, and while I haven’t seen some of their work, “Fargo” has been the only one to really grab me — I think they have a masterpiece in A Serious Man.

  • 28 10-13-2009 at 9:03 pm

    Zac said...

    I saw Away We Go a couple of days ago and I’m still kicking it around in my head. Everyone in the movie is really good, but Maya Rudolph is a revelation. I’ve only seen her on SNL and in various small parts, but here where she’s given the female lead, she knocks it out of the park with a role that is half comedy, half drama.

    If you ask me, she should be in the discussion for Best Actress.

    The cinematography was excellent and one shot in particular stood out. The shot of the plane seen in the reflections of the various windows. Those that have seen it know which show I’m talking about.

  • 29 10-13-2009 at 9:26 pm

    "Julianstark" said...

    I’ll definitely be checking that one out on my Netflix now before the season’s up. I haven’t heard anything but raves for Maya Rudolph

  • 30 10-13-2009 at 10:12 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    Since I saw “A Serious Man” last Friday (and then again on Saturday), it really has changed my perspective on life in general. Not in any major way or anything and I don’t intend to get weepy, but every time something bad or unfortunate has happened to me or someone else in the past week or prior to it, I think back to the film.

    Nothing really happens for any good reason and trying to figure it out is fruitless. Like Clive, the disgruntled Korean student, sometimes trying to figure it all out is the equivalent of taking a test with no right answers.

  • 31 10-14-2009 at 2:06 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    Has anyone posting here seen all three yet: Bright Star, An Education and Precious? I’ve seen the first two and read a lot about the third, and it seems like a common thread in the three films is a young woman’s “education,” either literally or metaphorically. Whose journey is likely to resonate more with Oscar voters and translate to multiple nominations for her film: Jenny, Fanny or Precious?

  • 32 10-14-2009 at 3:01 am

    Glenn said...

    I saw “Julie & Julia” yesterday and while I don’t think Streep is as good here as she has been in stuff like “Prada”, “Doubt”, “Adapatation” and even “Prairie Home Companion” this decade, i think she’s entertaining. I come from the side that Guy was discussing recently about not knowing who Julia Child is, so while I couldn’t judge the performance on the “wow, she was just like her” factor, what Streep DID have was unbridled fun. You could just see it even scene.

  • 33 10-14-2009 at 4:56 am

    "Julianstark" said...

    FINALLY!!!! Someone who agrees with me about Meryl Streep in “Julie and Julia”!!!!

  • 34 10-14-2009 at 5:32 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Away We Go should stay just that. It’s a passable feelgood film that’s disjointed but amusing at times.

  • 35 10-14-2009 at 6:30 am

    Mike_M said...

    Caught Paranormal Activity last night, it was good, not great, not sure it lived up to all the hype, the last 3rd is the only part that I actually liked, but the ending was good.

    Off to see A Serious Man tonight can’t wait!

  • 36 10-14-2009 at 6:46 am

    Lance said...

    JFK – I said that last year about happy go lucky… about it not being that hard to play upbeat and happy. Most people disagreed with me and referred to the quote “Dying is easy, comedy is hard” If this is really true, than why do very few comedic performances get recognized? Probably the only way you can judge level of difficulty, is if you survey a bunch of actors or test them in different types of scenes and see which types of scenes are most challenging to them. It’s funny how barely anyone discusses level of difficulty in acting and whenever you are judging a competition, this has to be a part of the conversation.

  • 37 10-14-2009 at 6:57 am

    John said...

    Thoughts on what people have been posting, and my own thoughts:

    AWAY WE GO – Loved it. Every performance is just great. And yes, loved the plane/reflection scene, as well.

    BRIGHT STAR – Needs a second wind, big time. Gorgeous movie, great acting. I’ll sing it’s praises to whatever corner hears me.

    A SERIOUS MAN – Haven’t seen yet. I’m looking to be surprised and love it as much as those who’ve seen it. I am NOT a Coen Bros. fan.

    AN EDUCATION – Looks right up my alley, can’t wait to see it.

    PRECIOUS – All the Sidibe,/Mo’Nique talk has me intrigued. The 2 of them are basically the only reasons I care to see it when it comes out.

    ZOMBIELAND – Lots of fun. And IMHO, funnier, scarier, gorier, & more cohesive than DRAG ME TO HELL.

    As far as B.O. goes, I think INVICTUS, while it most likely won’t be near my fave film of the year, will have a high return and great per screen average. It’s Clint/Morgan/Damon, hello?

    MERYL – I think she’ll be nommed in BA for J&J. I thought she was great, not incredible.; and may very well win for being “overdue” for that all-important 3rd.

    NEW BROKEN EMBRACES TRAILER – makes me want to see it despite opinions that the plot is not Almodovar’s greatest, at all.

    WTWTA – I feel like I’m either going to love it or hate iot with no in-between.

  • 38 10-14-2009 at 7:17 am

    Chase Kahn said...

    “Away We Go”…really?

    I almost vomited at how convoluted the whole thing was. “What are we going to do with our baby?”, “Hey! Let’s go visit every terrible parent that we know!”, “Okay!”

  • 39 10-14-2009 at 7:32 am

    JFK said...

    CK- Agreed! That movie was a complete waste of my time. What was up with that wacked-out turn by Gyllenhaal? It only served to make an already going nowhere movie, more uncomfortable to watch.

  • 40 10-14-2009 at 7:34 am

    Louis said...

    Agreed with Chase Kahn on “Away We Go.” My least favorite movie of the year so far (recognizing that I’ve only seen about 15).

    But also, I think Maya Rudolph’s performance is quite overrated. I know that people were impressed with her ability to be understated after years of mugging on SNL, but I actually found her to be TOO understated, which is a statement I never thought I’d make (Joan Allen is my favorite actress, after all!). Rudolph seemed to tow the line between appropriately subtle and void of all defining character traits. Too often, I think, she fell into the latter category. But I guess that’s okay for a movie in which the shining couple defined itself not by any of its own interesting or remarkable traits, but merely by how misguided and pathetic all other couples with children proved themselves to be. Atrocious.

  • 41 10-14-2009 at 9:38 am

    John said...

    Wow. OK. I know AWAY WE GO has it’s detractors. But I also know a lot of people who dug it like me, as well.

    I honestly thought it was a very touching movie in the end. Convoluted, at times. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. But I respect y’alls opinions.

  • 42 10-14-2009 at 10:42 am

    Louis said...

    If it makes you feel better, John, I saw Away We Go in a group of 5, and I was the only one who didn’t like it. So I always saw myself as being in the minority.

  • 43 10-14-2009 at 11:31 am

    Fitz said...

    I can’t figure out why Reno has Bright Star, but not Serious Man. No offense to that film, but I’ve been waiting for the Coen’s latest for months.

  • 44 10-14-2009 at 11:46 am

    JFK said...

    Fitz, I think I have your answer: Bright Star came out before A Serious Man, even here in NY.

  • 45 10-14-2009 at 11:56 am

    snowballa said...

    @guy lodge: i don’t doubt that the events played out that way but it’s hornby’s job to show a character who would then make that decision. i don’t believe he did that with jenny.

  • 46 10-14-2009 at 2:50 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    @snowballa: Technically, that’s also Carey Mulligan’s job.

    I’m psyched for this weekend, because I’ve got three films I definitely want to hit up all coming to theatres near me: Where The Wild Things Are, A Serious Man, and Paranormal Activity. Normally, I’d wait and try to go to a matinee or one of the cheaper evenings for PA, but I’m definitely gonna try to sneak in a late-night weekend show if I can, probably on Friday.

    Also, I forgot who gave away the cameo in Zombieland that I’ve heard whispers about, but thanks a ton, ya ass. I was really hoping I’d actually be surprised when I saw it. Let’s hope I forget before then.

  • 47 10-14-2009 at 5:23 pm

    Clayton said...

    Will try to see A Serious Man this weekend. I went to the Vancouver International Film Festival on Monday, and saw the following:

    Mother (Korean title: Madeo): Tremendously well-photographed (many wonderfully evocative, artful compositions), well-acted, deftly plotted (all the key turns are hidden in plain sight), and equal parts harrowing and darkly comic. One of the best films I’ve seen all year. A-

    An Education: Genial middlebrow (I don’t really mean that as a pejorative) romantic dramedy with a hint of intrigue, a young woman about to attend Oxford considers alternatives to a seemingly drab future existence of academia. Entertaining enough, and bound to be a crowd pleaser, but pretty workmanlike visually, and with few surprises on a narrative level. Still, definitely a breakthrough for young actress Carey Mulligan, and filled with a likeable supporting cast (Alfred Molina, Peter Sarsgaard, Brenda Blethyn, Emma Thompson, Olivia Williams, and a cameo by Sally Hawkins). B

    The White Ribbon: Excellent attention to period detail, with a strong ensemble of young and old actors alike, and some lush black-and-white cinematography, this evokes Ingmar Bergman in a big way, but is nearly undone by a good deal of superfluous plot exposition and, particularly, narration. Typically dry Haneke, where you can certainly admire its formal technique, while at the same time being kept at an emotional distance from the overall narrative. B

    The previous week I saw It Might Get Loud (documentary on the electric guitar, featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White), which was highly entertaining, and I found Zombieland to be amusing enough, but not particularly memorable.

    Disappointed to see that Where The Wild Things Are is getting mixed reviews…