[Feb 2] “Blood Diamond” (2006)
This is a story about the blood diamond trade in Africa – enslaved labor mining diamonds to be used for war. I hadn’t seen this movie since I saw it in theaters when it came out. At the time, I thought it was one of the best movies I’d ever seen (I didn’t watch a lot of movies, though). It’s still a very good movie, but not the masterpiece I remember it being. I do like Djimon Honsou and Leonardo DiCaprio a lot, though.
[Feb 3] “McFarland, USA” (2015)
We’ve been on a Kevin Costner kick lately, and I like sports movies (even though I don’t follow any sports), so I was pretty excited to see this movie featuring Costner as the coach of a primarily Latino cross country team in one of the poorest cities in America. I expected it to be pretty good, but it was even better than I thought it would be. It follows familiar beats, but the characterizations are well done, and Kevin Costner is as reassuring as ever.
[Feb 4] “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008)
I’ve been wanting to watch this one for a long time – Brad Pitt playing someone that ages backwards. I was disappointed, though – it wasn’t a bad movie by any means, it was well-acted and well-made, but I found the things they chose to focus on very boring. It reminded me a lot of Forrest Gump, especially with the romantic elements, but I think Forrest’s life was more interesting. After this and The Age of Adaline, I think I’m going to be wary of romantic fantasy.
[Feb 5] “For Love of the Game” (1999)
Another Kevin Costner movie, where he plays an aging pitcher reflecting on his tumultuous relationship during a baseball game. I didn’t like this movie so much, I found the baseball parts fun (the tension was well-done), but I didn’t care for the romantic drama aspects – for one, their relationship didn’t seem very healthy. I do like good romances, but this wasn’t one.
[Feb 6] “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” (2003) and “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” (2004)
I’m reviewing these movies together since they tell a single story. I watched Kill Bill a long time ago, before I knew much about Quentin Tarantino, but I’m a big fan of him now, so I was excited to re-watch it. It’s a great stylized action movie, and it definitely holds up. I don’t like it as much as the other movies of his that I’ve watched – Pulp Fiction (genius!), Reservoir Dogs, Django Unchained, and Inglourious Basterds, just because Kill Bill is so pulpy that the characters aren’t as fleshed out.
[Feb 7] “12 Angry Men” (1957)
This is probably going to be one of my favourite movies of all-time, but I’m a sucker for justice and freedom and due process and those sorts of things. It’s probably famous enough that I don’t need to talk about what it’s about, but it’s about a jury deliberating, and the case turns out to be not quite as cut and dry as it first seems. The movie was excellently made, I was right up there with all the doubters in the beginning, and convinced that the evidence being debated couldn’t possibly be flawed, and as I began to be convinced, I never felt like it was beyond creduility at any point.
[Feb 8] “Truth” (2015)
A political drama based on the Killian documents controversy, where documents critical of George W. Bush’s conduct when he was in the National Guard were aired on CBS, and then turned out to be unauthenticated. Robert Redford plays Dan Rather, and Cate Blanchett plays his producer Mary Mapes. I wasn’t familiar with this scandal and the work of Rather and Mapes before this, but I always find political and media dramas interesting. It was a pretty good movie, I found it a little melodramatic at times, but I’d recommend it.
[Feb 9] “Rocket Science” (2007)
A smart but socially awkward kid with a stutter is coaxed into joining the school debate team by the star debater (who happens to be a pretty girl), but things don’t go well at all. This is one of those “protagonist doesn’t actually get anything that he wants” coming of age movies, and reminded me a lot of Rushmore, but less Wes Anderson-y. I enjoyed it.
[Feb 10] “Red Eye” (2005)
I remember seeing parts of this on TV when I was in India and for some reason, developing a little bit of a crush on Cillian Murphy (he plays the villain, but he manages to be charming even when he’s being utterly menacing.) Anyway, this is a thriller starring Rachel McAdams as a hotel manager whose seatmate threatens to kill her father unless she helps them with an assassination plot. It was a pretty standard thriller but I liked the actors and found it fun.
[Feb 10] “The Great Debaters” (2007)
Based on a true story about an all-black debate team from Texas who beat the reigning college national debate team in an era of segregation. Denzel Washington directed this movie, and he also stars as the professor that coaches the team. I enjoyed the movie a lot, and I’m so glad for how far we’ve come in less than a century – the juxtaposition of debate vs. things like lynch mobs was particularly horrifying. The only thing I didn’t like was that the content of the debates themselves seemed very much based in emotional arguments and oratory rather than facts.