Movie review roundup

My attention to the Song of the Day series, as well as general laziness, has kept me from honoring my promise to review every movie I see. I find that if a movie is destined for my top ten list I usually review it pretty soon after I see it, but if not, I let it sit. And if it sits long enough, it’s in danger of never being reviewed at all.

So I skimmed the list of 2010 movies I’ve seen in recent months and realized a full ten of them have gone undocumented on Meet Me In Montauk.

To remedy that situation in one fell swoop, I’m going to write capsule reviews of each of them in this post.

So here goes nothing (titles are presented alphabetically):

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Winter’s Bone

I’m going to come one Black Swan short of seeing all of the ten Best Picture nominees before Sunday’s Academy Awards. I just scratched #9 off the list by watching writer-director Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone on DVD.

This is certainly the bleakest film of the bunch. Set in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri, Winter’s Bone tells the tale of Ree Dolly, a tough 17-year-old girl raising her younger brother and sister on her own. Her meth-cooking father, Jessup, has left and her mother is an empty shell who sits in a chair and takes medication that does nothing to improve her nearly catatonic state.

One day “the law” shows up to inform Ree that her father has jumped bail after putting the family house up as collateral. If Jessup doesn’t show up for his hearing, their land will be taken away. So Ree sets out on a quest to find her father and save her family. In her way stands a wider circle of family — the hard, mean, drug-running inhabitants of the woods around her run-down farm.

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Let Me In

It’s a testament to the quality of writer/director Mark Reeves’ Let Me In that it reminds me of so many other films I’ve loved.

Like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, it elegantly blends horror movie tropes with a coming-of-age tale. Like Steven Spielberg’s E.T., it captures suburban life from a child’s-eye view and drops an otherworldly visitor into the life of a boy in a broken home. Like Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, it juxtaposes supernatural horror with the horrors of the everyday world.

I thought of each of those films after I finished Let Me In. I also thought about the Twilight series, a far more popular and less compelling tale of a vampire finding love and acceptance with a human being. And I thought about True Grit, another of my favorite 2010 films, that — like Let Me In — is both a remake of a beloved movie and an adaptation of a beloved novel.

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