This Week at the Movies: December Recap

We have come to the cold month of Jan­uary and, as such, movie awards season is in full swing. Therefore, for our first issue after winter break, I thought I’d share my favorite movies that I saw over break instead of covering simply one film. Some (but defi­nitely not all) will make you laugh, others will make you cry, but all count as a great trip to the cinema.

To kick off winter break, I saw Mis­sion: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which, in the midst of many series whose se­quels fall flat on their faces (here’s look­ing at you, Transformers), was a fun ac­tion thriller. With crazy spy scenarios such as having to climb the outside of a skyscraper at the hundredth-plus floor with a sandstorm heading in (I couldn’t possibly make that up) and a strong sup­porting cast including British comedian Simon Pegg and The Hurt Locker‘s Jer­emy Renner, Tom Cruise’s newest ex­ploits as Ethan Hunt made for a winning movie. The movie follows Ethan Hunt’s organization IMF going rogue after it is implicated for a bombing at the Krem­lin. The team must work to clear their organization’s name by finding who was really responsible for the bombing and stopping whatever they plan next. The fourth Mission: Impossible marks Brad Bird’s live-action directorial debut and he definitely has proved he can handle more than animation movies such as his 2004 Pixar hit The Incredibles.

If you are more in the mood for an in­tense cinema experience, head down to see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. David Fincher continues his streak of brilliance in this adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling book of the same title. Dark and moody, this movie explores a murder mystery from over sixty years ago. However, as the title illustrates, the movie is also about the strange Lisbeth Salander, played by Rooney Mara. In her first major role, Mara does an incredible job portraying the guarded, damaged, potentially crazy character that makes the books and films impossible to ignore. Her entire manner, from her pos­ture to her look (like the 12 piercings that she actually got for the role, including her nipple…ouch) emanates the unique charac­ter Larsson created in his books. The story itself is very dark, but if you can stomach it, the film is brilliant. Shot in Sweden and also starring Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer, you will never see another movie like this. That is, unless you’ve seen the Swedish version, which I should duly note was also supposed to be very good.

Shortly before returning to the frozen north, I had a chance to see the much buzzed about film The Artist. The black-and-white silent film is a nod to the old Hollywood greats. Set in the late 1920s, the film follows a silent-film actor dur­ing the transition to “talkies.” It was odd to adjust to a movie with only music, but once done the movie was charming. The acting was refreshing as the two leads were relatively unknown, though they have now both garnered a lot of award recognition. I think I experienced a case of too-high-ex­pectations with this film because I didn’t absolutely love it. I felt I couldn’t sym­pathize enough with the main character, who suffers as a result of the stock market crash of 1929 and the decline of his career because of the end of silent films. That be­ing said, for what the film was, it was a great movie-going experience. Having to interpret movements and pay close atten­tion because of the lack of dialogue was something I had never experienced before in a movie theatre. Although it takes pa­tience and willingness to give up all sound except music for almost two hours, The Artist certainly qualifies for a unique trip to the cinema.

If you are looking for a completely enchanting film and something very dif­ferent from director Martin Scorcese’s regular style, go out and see Hugo. Set in Paris, this movie follows a boy, Hugo, who lives in a train station taking care of the clocks. Hugo inherited a mysterious ma­chine man from his dead father which he is determined to fix, and the resulting ad­venture is not at all what he expects. This is the first children’s film by Martin Scors­ese, and he pulls it off beautifully. This is also a film well worth seeing in 3D, as it adds such a layer of depth to the film that many 3D movies lack. Definitely not a movie just for kids, Hugo is a must-see film of the year.

Last, but certainly not least, is my fa­vorite film of the season. Starring George Clooney and directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways), The Descendants is one of the best films of the year, if not the best. The story follows a father (Clooney) living in Hawaii, whose wife falls into a coma, leaving him to take care of their two children. To top it off, shortly after her accident, he finds out she has been cheating on him. Clooney is brilliant in the movie, as is the eldest daughter Alex, played by breakout star Shailene Wood­ley. This film will make you laugh and it will make you cry. It shows the ups and downs and unpredictability of life while trying to keep your head above it all through the amazing story of an aver­age family. If you go to only one movie, I implore you to go to this one.

Contact Margaretta Burdick at

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