No prizes for realising that I am working through the alphabet at the local video store....
Australia - I ended up liking this movie. Pooh-poohed it when it first came out as it was so OBVIOUSLY meant to be a great sweeping story full of emotion and patriotism or something. I STILL don't like Nicole Kidman but she is bearable in this. The movie improves as you watch it. It starts out as some parody of Australia with cartoonish characters, over the top accents and actions. Then I was drawn in and stayed to the finish. How wonderful is David Wenham? And Brandon Walters as Nullah. The cinematography is amazing. Just hold your nose and squeeze your eyes shut for about 1/2 hour or so and the rest is worth the effort.
Babel - I knew very little about his movie. It is a series of seemingly unrelated stories set in the US, Morocco, Japan and Mexico. Gradually we come to piece together the connections. It is haunting and the score is perfect. The acting is real and the sadness and emotion are pitch perfect. It is by no means one to watch if you are looking for an action movie, but if you want a quiet night of reflection it is worth the time.
Atonement - billed as "as close to perfect as a movie can get", which struck me as true only at the very end when it all falls into place. The story starts just prior to World War II - a budding romance is cut short by the younger sister of one of the lovers. Her overactive imagination condemns the man to prison. The war then starts and the lovers are further separated. I loved the intensity of the characters, the way the action readjusts itself - you get to go back over some of the action and see it differently. The ending is superb. Excellent.
Big Fish - Tim Burton usually directs quite weird movies - this is not weird so much as fantastical - sort of like an adult fairy story. The main character, Ed Bloom, is the main narrator. If he is to be believed, his growth spurt was so sudden, buttons popped off his shirt in church and he was ordered to stay in bed for 3 years with pulleys and other contraptions to manage his unusual growth. After that he believed himself to be destined for big things. He is a story teller by nature - even if that drives his only child, Will, to absolute distraction and anger, so much so that Will doesn't speak to Ed for many years. When Ed is close to dying, Will returns home, and attempts to make a connection with his father and tries to sort out the truth from the fantasy. I had a lot of sympathy for Will, a LOT of sympathy - but I also enjoyed all the stories and trying to figure out the truth from the fiction. Very good.
The Aviator - a look at Howard Hughes and his obsession with flying. He was a true genius - weird and eccentric and driven and committed despite all the sensible people around him trying to hose down his latest crazy idea. I particularly liked his single-mindedness and honesty at the Senate War Investigating Committee hearings. Very interesting and good acting.