7/5/13 Monsters University (2013) - 5/5
Mike Wazowski has dreamed of being a monster since he was a child, and has always had his sights set on Monsters University. He gets accepted into the Scaring School and studies incredibly hard, but that's not enough. Mike is small and round and green - he's cute, not scary. But Mike has always fought for his dreams, and even the dean of the school won't keep him from accomplishing this one.
Monsters, Inc. is one of my favorite Pixar movies, so I was excited there would be more to the story. I loved that it was a prequel instead of a sequel, because there were allusions to what would come later. The movie stands on its own though, with many funny moments separate from the inside jokes of the first. I think one of the things I really value about Pixar films is how the stories are always so strong, unlike many other movies that rely on star power more than story. Definitely one I will own and re-watch.
7/18/13 Point Blank (1967) - 1/5
A man is betrayed by his partner in a robbery, losing his money and his wife. He spends the rest of the movie trying to find everyone who double-crossed him and get his money back. The stakes don't seem very high, because Walker, the main character, rarely speaks, doesn't seem too deep, and doesn't seem to care about his wife or the money. This makes it even harder to understand why he'll kill anyone who crosses his path. The violence isn't overdone in today's standards, but the film's attempt at artiness makes it hard to take the rest of the story seriously.
This movie was overlooked and under-appreciated in its time, and I see why. It might only be an hour and a half long, but the story is not enough to keep the movie going, and you finish it wondering what just happened and why you watched it. The plot isn't necessarily confusing, it's just not well-done enough to really form a cohesive story.
7/19/13 Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) - 3/5
A newly engaged couple is driving home from a friend's wedding when their car breaks down. They have to walk back to a castle they passed by, and there they spend the night. They're introduced to all sorts of crazy characters, and get into a bunch of trouble. A fun spin on the "stay a night in a haunted house" staple.
I saw this movie for the first time at the Orpheum, which means there was audience participation galore. It made the movie WAY more fun. I vaguely remember seeing a musical number at a friend's house when I was a teenager and thought it was really strange. (And I like strange humor, so that's saying a lot.) It was hard to follow the plot since everyone was going wild, but the movie itself seemed pretty lacking. It was campy, so it was perfect to poke fun at in a large group setting. It's not one I would ever rent and watch on my own if I wanted a good story, but the audience participation bumped it up a couple stars.
7/26/13 The Verdict (1982) - 5/5
An alcoholic lawyer on a long-term losing streak takes a case that seems like an easy win. It's a medical malpractice suit, and the Catholic hospital involved wants to settle out of court to prevent any bad press. But something about the case sticks with the lawyer, and he decides he wants to fight it in court. He goes after key witnesses but keeps getting struck down.
This is one of those movies that is probably best the first time you see it. Since the title doesn't really give much away, I was in suspense for the last half of the film, and especially the last five minutes. I loved how the movie itself was very low-key - no special effects or over-the-top scenery. The story itself was the star, and I thought it was really well developed. This is the first Paul Newman movie I've ever seen, and I thought he was perfect in the role.
8/2/13 The Snake Pit (1948) - 5/5
Virginia Cunningham is in a mental institution, though she doesn't realize it at first. She pieces the clues together as she speaks with Dr. Kik and a man who claims to be Virginia's husband, though Virginia doesn't recall being married. The story is mostly told through flashbacks, but it works really well in this case.
This is based on a 1946 novel by Mary Jane Ward, which is currently on my "To Read" shelf. Despite now knowing the outcome, I still want to read the book. The movie was well-done, a really interesting glimpse into mental institutions and shock therapy in the 1940s.