Quick Thoughts: 1/2

Taking Woodstock (Ang Lee, 2009)

With Demitri Martin, Eugene Levy, Emile Hirsch and Liev Schreiber.

I thought the idea of this film was interesting since I really had no idea there was such a back story behind the organization of Woodstock.  The movie doesn’t fully deliver on its enticing premise, but it is still somewhat enjoyable.  Demitri Martin is serviceable as the lead, but the standout performances come from Hirsch and Schreiber.  Their characters are wacky and steal every scene they are in.  I have never understood Ang Lee’s obsession with the split-screen technique and his inexplicable use of it in his movies.  It didn’t work for me in 2003’s Hulk and it doesn’t work here either.  Regardless, I think he does a good job of capturing the essence of just how unprepared the small community was for the festival and the sub-culture that came along with it.  I realize that the family that served as the festival’s host is supposed to be the focus of the story, but the movie still seemed to need more music.  They didn’t show any of the concert in the film, and they didn’t really have to.  I just wish they would have used more background music from the bands that played the festival.  It would have really helped set a tone and put the viewer in the proper mood and mindset.

Rating:  6/10

Julie & Julia (Nora Ephron, 2009)

With Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci

I really had no desire to see this movie and watched it solely because Streep is considered one of the frontrunners for the Best Actress Oscar again this year.  While it was slightly better than I expected, I found the part of the movie involving Amy Adams to be the more interesting of the two stories.  We actually get a sense of the relationship between her and her husband and their struggle to survive as a couple.  I never felt that in Streep’s part of the movie.  I found the movie to be an exhausting experience and every time the story switched back to Streep’s story I became increasingly frustrated.  For all I endured in watching the movie, the ending was very underwhelming as well.  Streep is charming as always, but this is in no way an Oscar-caliber performance.  It takes more than cute mannerisms and an accurate vocal imitation to warrant an Oscar, but that’s just my opinion.  We’ll find out if the Academy agrees in a few months.

Rating:  6/10

(500) Days of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009)

With Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I absolutely love this movie, as evidenced by my ranking of it as my third favorite movie of the year.  I saw it in theaters and considered it a must-buy DVD release.  My admiration for it only grew upon repeat viewings.  In a year in which so many awful formulaic rom-coms were released (The Ugly Truth, All About Steve, etc.), this movie defied the restrictions of its genre.  Webb, a music video director, has a really fresh look at the genre and utilizes bunch of cool techniques to guide us through the story.  Both of the leads are a joy to watch and seem to be fully aware of what their characters are all about.  Buy, rent or borrow this movie as soon as you can.  Somewhere down the line, it might be looked at as our generation’s Annie Hall.

Rating:  9/10

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