I also hate change and don't post in protest/out of despair each time a new member gets added. Nothing personal, Chris. I've linked to you on my blog now, see? There is going to be a point where I'm really not going to be able to keep up with all the posts, but that's not yet. You guys write a lot. Damn.
Brandon, I'm so sorry you didn't like Insidious. Maybe I played it up too much. But I also have an uncanny ability to lose myself in even the worst storylines, so I don't always get distracted by the same things you all do, I think. A movie has to be really bad for me to dislike it, unless it's by Godard. Speaking of which, I think I may understand a little better why I don't like him. But more on that later. Maybe. I thought Insidious was really fun and scary, except for the very end which disappointed me. God forbid anybody make a horror film with a happy ending. I agree the demon looked like Darth Maul, but I didn't let it distract me. And I agree that once you see the monster, it takes away some of the fear. That's why I liked the second part of the movie so much. We moved from being afraid of this demon creature to being afraid of this spooky netherworld. The "monster reveal" didn't end the threat and I liked that a lot. I also liked that the film changed from being a creaky-door ghost film to a alternate dimension (Hellraiser, anyone?) demon film. It was interesting to a guy who's seen far too many horror films.
I watched Tree of Life a second time and it was actually a lot easier to understand. He really does lay out his premise right at the beginning. The line "Mother. Father. Always you wrestle inside me. Always you will" underscores the theme. Not grace, not nature, but the two of them battling together in each of us, producing good and evil. "I do the things I don't want to" and all that. And I think the ending is not heaven but perhaps a dream. The first time we see the older Jack, he's waking up and he gets flashes of the landscape we'll see more fully later. The creation scenes were even more stunning the second time around. I really love this film. Especially the penis fish.
Here's what I've been watching lately (pulled straight from Flixster, because it's easier).
Captain America: This movie made me feel good, even though I'm a pacifist. The story was well told, and aside from a couple things here or there (not counting that super soldiers are even possible), I didn't have to suspend my disbelief too much. I especially loved the evolution of the costume. It fit well in the story. Chris Evans may be perfect as Captain America. I loved that Dum Dum Dugan was in it but not named as such. It felt like a little treat for us comics fans, and there were a few others, like Agent Carter (Sharon Carter's mother, perhaps?) and Tony Stark's father.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II: I liked part one better, for the same reason I like Empire Strikes Back better. The scenes in the first part where they're just waiting and it's quiet and beautiful are amazing.
Green Lantern: I was disappointed, I'll admit. Too much going on. Parallax was too big for a first movie and Mad Thinker was too distracting. Reynolds makes a good GL though, and I'm glad they're planning a sequel.
Cold Souls (2008): Great concept, muddy follow-through. Barthes spent too much time trying to sell a complicated plot when she should have trusted the strength of the premise more (and Giamatti's always fantastic acting) and worked with that. Too many unanswered/unsettled matters at the end. It wasn't satisfying.
No Impact Man (2007): Challenging and thought-provoking. The whole baby subplot seemed really unnecessary. I live with constant guilt that I don't live up to my values when it comes to being green. My ass is so lazy about some things.
Fail Safe (1964): Very interesting watching this after Dr. Strangelove. Two unique takes on a similar situation. Strangelove is superior, but this one definitely has some powerful moments. I had a hard time with the quick explanation for the computer glitch that sent the attack order; I found myself distracted by wanting more information. It just seemed so improbable to me, given the complex process by which an attack order wound be made.
It's impressive that a movie that is almost nothing but a bunch of people talking in rooms could be such a nail-biter.
After a crazy opening dream scene, the film slows way down for a half hour or so, until the glitch and jamming signal cause the planes to head for Moscow.
One of my favorite scenes is the first conversation between Hagman and Fonda with the Russian premier. The way two were on either side of the frame, with the phone in the middle and the blank wall behind them, made it a powerful moment in the film.
Mary and Max (2009): Beautifully animated and acted. Great dramatic timing and voice acting. PSH is not even recognizable as himself! Sad ending, but not as sad as it could have been, I suppose.
Transformers Dark of the Moon: 20 minutes too long, at least. It was like a 5 scoop hot fudge peanut butter and strawberry sauce sundae. It seems like a good idea at first, and it tastes good going down, but then you get a little belly ache and you have to take a massive dump a few hours later.
Sleeper (1973): Really funny in parts, but uneven. I got it (except the Miss America scene) and I liked it, but it didn't work as a sci-fi film. I understand that's not the point, but as a fan of sci-fi, I felt the genre deserved a *little* more respect. For the sake of comedy, Allen asks us to constantly suspend our disbelief, and it gets to be a lot after a while. All that said, however, if I watched this again, it'd likely get an extra half or whole star. It made a mildly good first impression on me.
I'd be interested, Jeff, in where you think Sleeper stands in Woody's oeuvre.
Ben, I'm excited about Season 2 of Walking Dead as well. Have you read the comic yet?