Movies are not in Goethe's list, but it's 2012 and they deserve consideration. I'm thrilled when I find an excellent movie and happy just to find a decent one these days. I do not watch R rated movies and I'm very choosy about the other movies I watch because I am not desperate to be entertained by Hollywood, and I refuse to play the fool who will accept vulgarity for humor or amorality for intelligence. I also find it hard to sit through cliches, cheap tricks and stupidity. O.K. So on to the movies I saw in December, when there are always more choices because the movie industry is dishing out their family fare and looking for last minute Oscar nominations. It was a successful movie run for me, with one bomb and one exceptionally good experience. I'll just take them in the order I saw them.
Arthur Christmas Who decided it was a good idea to take the magic out of Christmas? The command space ship with high tech elves run by a frustrated son who is desperate for the power of Santa can only hold a story together for so long. I ran out of interest before the movie ended, and I did not like that the current Santa and Grand Santa were not at all endearing. This is at the bottom of the list, but not the bomb.
Sherlock Holmes Robert Downey Jr.does great dead-pan comedy, which helps keep an underlying giggle going as you try to follow the intrigue of the story. You have to really concentrate on following the story, however, because there are extended interruptions for explosions, shooting, fighting, and general mayhem. It became fighting for special effects sake and detracted from the film, but it is entertaining and has a few surprises. It was clean. Good.
War Horse This is beautifully filmed with an interesting, although sometime fractured story. It is held together by the audience hoping that a young man from England will find his horse that has been taken to fight in WWI. The horse finds its way into the most sensational events of the war (like the battle of the Somme) and is used as the reason for a cease fire in no man's land. There are true stories about such cease fires and I am moved when I hear them, but this seemed a little cliche--but just a little. The ending brought things together unexpectedly (I'm not referring to the final ending with the slo-mo handshake). I enjoyed it, but expected more. Once again, it was clean, and I appreciate that.
Tin Tin A fun movie. I loved the early 20th century setting and the comic book adventure. The graphics were fantastic. Once again, however, there was a lot of action for graphics sake to stretch out a comic book story into a full length film. I think we are having some genuine story telling difficulty in film. One cannot be entertained by graphics alone.
We Bought a Zoo The bomb. A dead mother and animals are a lazy way to create interest in a story. I have to admit, however, it was interest in the handling of the loss of the mother that carried me through to the end, and I liked the last scene. It was a flimsy story with stock characters and a predictable outcome. The profanity was a problem. It is a pathetic ploy for laughs that is desperate storytelling. And it is definitely NOT cute for a little girl to be vulgar, even if the set up is that she doesn't know what she is saying.
The Lost Prince (BBC) Finally the gem of movie making and story telling came in a box from Amazon. This is the story of the two youngest sons of George V. (The two oldest sons are Edward who abdicated and George (Berti) of The King's Speech.) The youngest, Johnny, has epilepsy and learning disabilities and his parents are advised to isolate him from the rest of the family. It is a compelling story of love, discovery, perseverance, loneliness, human value, misunderstanding, war, monarchy, wonder and loss. World War I also figures into this story, but it is told from inside the palace as the monarchs of Europe fall. Fascinating. It is also juxtaposed to Johnny's world, which finally brings a moment of peace and acceptance. Two thumbs up. We followed this with the BBC's Berti and Elizabeth--the George of The King's Speech, and it was a nice complement.