Valkyrie (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: B
Bryan Singer was the director behind one of my favorite movies, "The Usual Suspects."Â But he hasn't gone back to those roots in a long time.Â I enjoyed the first two "X-Men" movies, but I longed for the spy/thriller feel again.Â I was hoping this would've been it, but it only kind of was.Â I feel like this was a movie that thought it was a lot more important than it really was.Â This isn't a spoiler alert to anyone with half-a-brain, but the plot to kill Hitler (which is the basis of the movie) didn't work.Â So in that respect, this true story really isn't as interesting as you'd hope.Â You can't get attached to the characters too much since you know they're not gonna pull it off.Â But what is neat about this movie is to watch it and find out where their plan went sour.Â Another thing that's cool is to play the "How Many Actors from the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies are in this."Â I got up to 3, although you may not recognize Bill Nighy (he was Davey Jones)!Â I guess they were having a sale on slightly recognizable British actors.Â Which brings us toÂ Tom Cruise.Â Why he's in this is beyond me.Â It's not that he was bad, but he wasn't great either.Â That's the story of his life.Â He's the guy you call when you just want to get the job done.Â He sticks out like a sore thumb in this as the ONLY non-British person in it.Â But overall, he's still fine at what he does and that's kind of par for the movie too.Â It's fine for what it does.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: C+
Oscar Watch!Â This film is based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story that I read somewhere in my high school years.Â I remember the book being short, easy to read and actually...funny.Â The movie is far from that.Â It's long and not very funny at all.Â At a running time of almost 3 hours, it's hard to say if there's anything that could be cut; probably not.Â But that doesn't mean that it doesn't feel long.Â It's weird too while watching it because it's a mix of "Forrest Gump" and "Big Fish" but it failed to capture the magic that both had.Â I was actually hoping that it would be that "great" movie that Brad Pitt gets remembered for, just like Tom Hanks will forever be remembered for Forrest Gump.Â Sadly, I don't think this will be it.Â Don't get me wrong, I'm a HUGE Brad Pitt fan.Â But sadly, I was let down by his performance in this.Â I thought that he tried so hard in being a complacent, mild-mannered character that his mild-manneredness got in the way him portraying any sort of drama.Â Maybe I had too high of hopes for this movie.Â David Fincher is one of my favorite directors.Â I think he's guided Pitt to amazing performances in "Se7en" and "Fight Club."Â But him trying to guide him in a drama, just didn't translate; or maybe it was just this drama.Â Cate Blanchet gives a stunning performance, as usual.Â But watching her age in the movie is almost just as facinating as watching him.Â Not because of special effects or make up, but because of her nuances and detail to character.Â It sounds like I'm beating up on this movie, but don't let that give you the wrong impression.Â After seeing this movie, I told my family that I thought it was "good, not great."Â "GOOD, not great."Â It's still a GOOD movie...just not as good as it could've been.
Milk (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: A-
Oscar Watch!Â Sean Penn has already been nominated for Best Actor by The Golden Globes for his portrayal of Harvey Milk.Â Who's Harvey Milk and why make a movie about him?Â Well, he was the first openly gay man elected into office in America.Â While he was in office, he worked hard to make sure that gay rights were brought to the front lines of America and shot down California Propositions that were cased in hate and bigortry.Â Sounds like 2008, right?Â Well this was 30 years ago and because of that, this movie rings so relevant.Â Besides the timely subject matter that might make you think twice about how you vote on gay issues, the performances are what drives this movie to its level of greatness.Â Sean Penn is just the beginning.Â His first boyfriend is James Franco, who also picked up a Golden Glob nomination...but for "Pinneapple Express."Â (Huh?)Â There's also Josh Brolin who stuns as another conflicted character with his subtle character ticks.Â And rounding it out is Emile Hersch who Penn directed last year in the amazing "Into the Wild."Â So far it sounds like a perfect movie, but it's not.Â Somewhere near the beginning of the third act, the movie gets plotting.Â It starts feeling slow, dragging and bogged down.Â Almost as if the plot is just treading water for the sake of staying longer, resulting in the just-over-two-hour-long movie feeling closer to two and a half.Â But the dragging doesn't last too long and the movie is not only a quality movie but it's an important movie; it's just so good when those two things sync up together.