Quickie Reviews

I’ve been on quite the DVD kick as of late, so I’ve watched four movies in a week. While I don’t really have the effort (or time) to write extensive reviews, I still want to write about all the good movies I watched. The solution: mini-reviews!

Waltz with Bashir (2008)

Quick Stats: Written, directed, and produced by Ari Folman. The American DVD includes both Hebrew and English audio tracks, as well as subtitles. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Plot: This animated documentary details Folman’s attempts to piece together his memories from the 1982 Lebanon War. It features interviews with other soldiers and flashbacks (both fact and fiction) to the war itself.

Verdict: Waltz with Bashir is one of the most stunning animated movies I’ve seen. I’m no expert on animation, so it’s hard for me to explain the style  but it’s refreshing to see non-CGI animation, especially as the medium for a documentary. The plot is also fixating, because the majority of the movie follows young men thrown into a horrible war. The film was met with controversy in the Middle East, so it’s important to note that while this is a documentary, it’s not meant to be a retrospective on the entire war. Instead, look at it was one man’s reflection on his involvement. There’s no right or wrong here- it just is what it is.

Pirate Radio (2009)

Quick Stats: Inspired by true events. Released outside North America as The Boat That Rocked. Written and directed by Richard Curtis, the man behind one of my favorite movies, Love Actually.

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans

Plot: Set in 1966, the movie follows a young man living on a pirate radio ship, Radio Rock. Since no stations in the U.K. play rock and roll, the pirates illegally broadcast rock music to the British masses. The station’s popularity pushes the stuffy government to try to shut them down.

Verdict: Pirate Radio is a fun look at the 60’s combined with the quirky and cheeky British humor I love. Although it’s (purposefully) historically inaccurate, it still covered an interesting subject I knew nothing about: pirate radio in Europe. As expected, the movie also has an awesome classic rock soundtrack.

Whip It (2009)

Quick Stats: Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut. She also produced.

Starring: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kirsten Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Drew Barrymore, and Jimmy Fallon

Plot: Bliss, a small-town girl and would-be beauty queen, secretly joins a roller derby team in Austin, Texas.

Verdict: Whip It is an entertaining “chick flick” that didn’t follow the usual and boring romantic-comedy route. Page is tailor-fit for the lead, and the supporting cast is fun and fresh. This coming-of-age, indie dramedy overcomes its predictability with loads of Southern charm and a healthy dose of Girl Power. Don’t be surprised if you starting think of roller derby names after watching it.

An Education

Quick Stats: Nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actress

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Olivia Williams, and Emma Thompson

Plot: In post-war, pre-Beatles London (think: before Pirate Radio), Jenny, a bright schoolgirl with aspirations of attending Oxford University, begins a romantic friendship with a charming older man.

Verdict: An Education is a beautiful, intimate, and touching film. The acting is absolutely stellar. The cinematography and costume design are also great- this is one of those rare movies where every aspect is top-notch. After watching the movie, you’re left thinking and reflecting, not just on Jenny’s choices, but your own. I think it’s a very important movie for women especially to watch.

I would definitely recommend all of these movies, but they’re very different and each has its own merits. I can’t wait to pick up some more movies at the library this weekend.

Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think? Do you like this review format? Do you have any DVD recommendations?

~ Sarah