My 2005 Film Journal

What I’ve seen so far… 

* – first viewing

December
Grizzly Man*…..B+
The White Diamond* …..A
Munich*…..A-
Syriana*…..B

Murderball* (DVD)…..B+
Until the End of the World – Director’s Cut (first two hours)
King Kong*…..C+
March of the Penguins*…..A-
In Her Shoes*…..B+

Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow*…..A-
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2nd viewing)*…..B+
Cache (Hidden)*….. A-
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe* ….. B

November
Broken Flowers (DVD screener) (second viewing) …..A-
Match Point*…..B
Pride and Prejudice*…..B+
Bruce Almighty* (DVD) ….. C+ Finally got around to seeing this. Chucked occasionally.
Walk the Line*…..C+
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire*…..B
Taxi Driver (DVD) …..A
The Squid and the Whale* …..A-
Love Actually* (DVD)…..C-

October
Capote*…..B+
Oldboy* (DVD)…..C-
Melinda and Melinda* (DVD)…..C
Sin City* (DVD) …..D
Tony Takitani*……A-

Undertow*…..B+
Empire Falls, Pt. 1* (DVD)…..B- at this point, but I need to see Part Two before I decide.
Winter Solstice*…..B+
Batman Begins (DVD) …. B+
Good Night and Good Luck*…..B
The Station Agent (DVD)…..A-
No Direction Home*…..A-

Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit* …..C+
Me You and Everyone We Know* …. B

September
Serenity (2nd viewing)…..B+
Corpse Bride* …..B-
A History of Violence*…..A
Winter Light* (DVD)….. A- This is my fourth Bergman film (after Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Cries and Whispers). It seems so simple, and yet I can tell this is one that will continue to open itself up with repeated viewings. A marvelous and yet painful exploration of human blindness to God’s love, and human guilt in showing the very hard-heartedness that he sometimes attributes to the Almighty.
Being John Malkovich (VHS)…..B So clever, so original, so bleak and dispiriting.
Punch-drunk Love (DVD)…..A+ I love it more with every viewing, definitely near my all-time top 20.
Chungking Express (DVD)….. A-
The Constant Gardener*….. B-
Reconstruction* (DVD)…..B+
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill*…..B- Nice story, pretty birds, but unremarkable as a film.
Serenity* …..B+

August
2046*….. A-

The Exorcism of Emily Rose*…..B
Last Life in the Universe
* (DVD)….. A-

50 First Dates* (DVD)….. C-

July –
The Brothers Grimm*….. C+
Three Colors: Blue (DVD)….. A+
The Chumscrubber*….. C
The Island*….. D
Code Unknown (DVD)….. A+
The Son (DVD)…..A+
Hitch* (DVD)…..C+ Amusing, at times. Surprisingly, and probably unintentionally, conservative in its views on love.
Broken Flowers*…..A- More accessible than most Jarmusch, but still well worth seeing. Murray’s great, even if the performance is of the same understated nature as his Lost in Translation and Life Aquatic roles.
Howl’s Moving Castle (second viewing)….. B+

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre* (DVD)….. B+
Au Hasard Balthazar (DVD)….. A+
Kung-Fu Hustle*….. B Frivolous fun.

June - BEST NEW DISCOVERY: Batman Begins
War of the Worlds*….. B- 2/3 of a great horror movie that descends into a feeling of “Where is this going?” and finally as clumsy and sentimental and abrupt as any conclusion in Spielberg’s repertoire.
Millions (second viewing)….. A-
Batman Begins….. A-
Au Hasard Balthazar (DVD)…. A+
Batman Begins*….. A- To give you some frame of reference: Tim Burton’s Batman - C. Batman Returns - B. Batman Forever - C-. Batman and Robin - D-.
Howl’s Moving Castle* ….. B+ Another overdose Miyzake’s extraordinary imagination, with an extra helping of his delightfully unpredictable sense of humor. It’s not as satisfying as Spirited Away, but it’s one of the year’s best family films and another classic to add to Miyazake’s long list of them.
Since Otar Left* (DVD)….. A- A lovely, thoughtful, extremely well-acted film about three generations of women in the troubled to
wn
of Tblisi, Georgia.

Spanglish* (DVD)…..B A surprising, unpredictable, original film about tough, realistic relationships that contains a heartbreaking little love story and unconventional moral backbone. Adam Sandler gives a wonderful performance. Yes, you heard what I said.
Cinderella Man*…..B- Watchable, compelling, but ultimately devoid of challenge or surprise or substantial meaning.
Land of Plenty*…..B- Wim Wenders turns in an odd, awkward, but thoughtful piece about post-9/11 angst, brokenness, and the difference between responding in faith and responding in anger. It’s rather unconvincing, and the digital camerawork is quite unpleasant at times. But overall, I’m glad I saw it, and it’s given me some things to think about.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (DVD) …..A- Oh, how I still love this movie, even though I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen it.

May - BEST NEW DISCOVERY: Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Primer (DVD) (second viewing)…..B+ Just as enthralling and disturbing, and I’m figuring its puzzles little by little.
Eddie Izzard: Definite Article (DVD)*…..B Not his funniest show, but there are truly brilliant bits.

Star Wars, Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith*…..B+ Wow. I’m surprised how much more I enjoyed it the second time. This one gets better, not worse.
Goodbye, Dragon Inn* (DVD)…..A-

Most* (DVD) (Oscar-nominated short film)…..B
Peter Gabriel-Play (the videos)*……B+
Dear Frankie*…..B+
The Return (DVD) (second viewing)…..A

The Saddest Music in the World* (DVD)…..B+
Star Wars, Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith*…..B+
The Big Lebowski (DVD)…..B+ “Dude, do ya have to use so many cuss words?”
Ocean’s Twelve (DVD)….B
Kingdom of Heaven* …..B-
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (second viewing)…..C+


April – BEST NEW DISCOVERY: After Life
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events* (DVD)…..B
Ocean’s Eleven (DVD) (third viewing)…..B+ Still a lot of fun.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy*…..B, I think. The people in front of me ruined the film for me by laughing, talking, and repeating everything as if they were completely out of their minds.
The Second Chance (rough cut) * …. Steve Taylor’s directorial debut, starring Michael W. Smith. I’m withholding my rating of the film until I see a final cut. I was part of a fortunate few to see this, the very first screening of the rough cut, and I was able to join others in giving Taylor some constructive criticism. For the most part, though, we congratulated him. I promised Taylor I wouldn’t post a review of the film yet. Suffice it to say, it will be very interesting to see how churches respond to this film.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – big screen trailer premiere and behind-the-scenes features*… Encouraging, colorful, seemingly “faithful” to the book, and high-energy. It will premiere around the world on May 7th, and it’ll be attached to Star Wars.
Tully* (DVD) ….. B Well-acted, naturalistic, delicate drama. Wish I’d seen this in the theatre.
Crash* (Haggis, not Cronenberg)…..C
After Life* (DVD)…..B+
The Village (DVD)…..B – I don’t care what others say… I enjoyed this film even more the second time. Sure, the final twist makes things implausible, and yes the dialogue is painfully stilted. But the undercurrent of fairy tale and the film’s exploration of the dangers that come with believing we can create a utopia… these are things that fascinate me.

March – BEST NEW DISCOVERY: The Ballad of Jack and Rose
The Ballad of Jack and Rose*….B+/A-
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (second viewing) …. A-
This goes on the SO MUCH BETTER THE SECOND TIME list. This time, it got me, and I was actually moved to tears more than once. Josh Hurst was right. I was wrong. It just took me a while to realize just how much is going on in this movie. Anderson is a genius.
In My Country*….C+
The Incredibles (DVD)…..A+
Genius.
Madison*…..D
“D” for “Devoid of anything remotely interesting.”
Nobody Knows*…..B+
Beautifully acted, impressively naturalistic, but it seems like a very, very long film, compared to something like Yi-Yi, which is just as impressively crafted and also very long, but far more engaging and interesting.
Be Cool*…..C+

February – BEST NEW DISCOVERY: Born into Brothels / Millions
Twilight Samurai* (DVD)…..B+
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring * (DVD)…..B
Raising Arizona (DVD)…..A
Even after dozens of viewings, this movie still makes me laugh more than almost any film ever made.
Infernal Affairs*(DVD)…..A-
Friday Night Lights* (DVD)…..B
Baadaass!*(DVD)…..B+
Crimson Gold* (DVD)…..B+
The Story of the Weeping Camel (DVD)…..A
Millions*…..B+/A-
The Princess Bride(DVD)…..A
Touching the Void*…..B+
Born into Brothels*…..A

January - BEST NEW DISCOVERY: Distant
Constantine*…..C+
Distant*…..A-/A
Buechner* (DVD)…..B
Basically, it’s a Bill Moyers-style chat with Buechner, scratching the surface of his thoughts about faith, doubt, Christianity, Buddhism, how God works, how to pray, and death. Enjoyable, up-close and personal, casual, but it also feels too much like a home movie, in which the interviewers are a little too excited about their opportunity to meet their hero. I wish the film had been more in-depth, more focused. And I also wish it had told us more about Buechner, his achievements, what he’s published. Godric isn’t mentioned even once. Still, they’ve given Buechner fans a gift, and it’ll intrigue those who’ve never read him.
Kill Bill, vol. 2 (DVD)…..A-
Pokes fun at itself, and then turns on a dime to deliver some profoundly moving scenes near the end. Sure, it’s a hyperviolent revenge flick, but it never puts on airs to be anything more than a genre flick, and it plays that game with groundbreaking style, and a brilliant mix of fusion, homage, and parody. Uma Thurman gives one of the year’s greatest performances. But again, beware. While the bloodiness is employed in an over-the-top, cartoonish fashion and never meant as more than “play,” it’s certainly not for the squeamish.
Kill Bill, vol. 1 (DVD)…..B
Napoleon Dynamite (DVD)…..B+
Napoleon Dynamite * (DVD)…..B
Assault on Precinct 13 (2004 remake)*…..D
HOOORAY!!! 2005′s first UNBELIEVABLY BAD movie!!
Assault on Precinct 13 (the 1976 original, Special Edition DVD)*…..B-
Frivolous, low-budget fun. Basically a zombie movie, where the zombies are replaced with mindless street gang members who advance from all sides with no discernible motivation.
Springtime in a Small Town*…..B
Million Dollar Baby*…..A/A-
One of the best American films of 2004.

Spider-man 2…..A-
Third viewing. Hasn’t quite held up for me, but I still enjoy it.

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  • Jonathan

    Jeffrey,

    I am curious as to why you gave Burton’s original “Batman” a “C”, and “Batman Returns” a “B.” It strikes me that the original “Batman” was almost on a par with “Batman Begins,” whereas “Batman Returns” deserved a C- or D (as do all subsequent “Batmen” movies save “Batman Begins).

    –Jonathan Watson

  • CTDelude

    Seems as if you’ve taken to seeing a few more Asian films in there…

    I’m curious as to what you thought of Spring, Summer… asit’s f5rom a film-maker who may, or may not, be Christian (hard to find out really). If he is Christian I know his conversaion came recently, after making films like Samaria Girl and such…


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