1:offensive.2:crap.4:has its moments.6:good.8:pushes the envelope.10:masterpiece

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02/02/02 - A Beautiful Mind
A film that is completely and extremely right up The Academy's alley. In other words, exactly the right amount of tried-and-true conventions with slight twists, exactly the right amount of not pushing the envelope too far or actually making a statement or a stand, and exactly the right amount of teetering on the edge of being totally ludicrous and actually terrible. Good film. It'll win a lot of Oscars. 7/10
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05/09/28 - A History Of Violence
It's good to know before you see this movie that the title refers not so much to the main character's past as it does to the entire human history of violence, ever since the day that first monkey bashed that other monkey with a bone and then threw it into the sky and they jump-cut to a space station. It's in our DNA: we're evolved from the cavemen that were better at kicking ass than the weakling cavemen. But while people whine about the violence and the culture and the kids these days, we've actually become way LESS violent than the 'good' old days. We actually think it's nice to let the weak people have a fair shot. Nobody likes a bully. But man, that bully? Wouldn't it be great to bust that guy's face?! Especially if it had to be done to protect our young which would impress the chicks and raaaaaar caveman! And so we go watch violent movies and pretend. Cronenberg is cool because he lets us look at the aftermath of the violence a little bit too long to let us wonder if it's really that exciting and cool after all. But besides that subtle theme, the movie is a pretty entertaining noir, what with the violence and nudity and swearing (and a couple really neat performances and cool characters). It's a tight simple little story, but Cronenberg tells it slowly and deliberately to let it sink in, and it's got a cool theme kicking around in the background for me to think about afterward. 7/10
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03/05/11 - A Mighty Wind
Waiting For Guffman was a drier kind of comedy, people with obviously poor skills being very earnest about their dreams. Best In Show was a little more immediate for the average comedy audience, taking the usual shots at "dog people" personalities. A Mighty Wind goes even drier than Guffman, with earnest people who are actually pretty good at what they do. Their only flaws are being somewhat out of touch and writing crap lyrics. I found I kind of felt for a lot of these people, especially Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara who contribute a character dynamic that brushes as much with poignancy as comedy. And thank goodness, they hold together what is otherwise pretty fluffy material. Plenty of brilliant improv moments though. And it's cool to see Spinal Tap redressed as aged folk singers and cranking out the live tunes. 6/10
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09/10/20 - A Serious Man
The problem with making a movie about how everything happens for no reason is the audience gets bored watching characters who have no control or influence over their destiny. If you can sit through a movie where people are randomly punished while going in no direction in particular, only managing to question what it all means and never get any answers, then you're rewarded with a dryly hilarious insider's collection of midwestern jewish culture and characters. The humour comes from a general sense that nobody really understands the faith--the kids consider it a tedious pain in the ass and grow up to be adults that can't remember the details. Even the relgious leaders have no wisdom to impart. ...So. How do you evaluate the Coens for doing a great job of intentionally being self-indulgent and difficult? 6/10
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06/07/16 - A Scanner Darkly
I enjoyed it, but I'm a patient man. It's definitely more digestable than Waking Life, even in the animation, which is cleaner and a lot less woozy. Robert Downey Jr. is good as usual and just on his own can carry the audience along so they don't get bored or worry about being confused. It's more interesting knowing going in that it was written by Philip K. Dick on the tail of his immersion in the 60s-70s drug scene. And it plays like it, a 50/50 mix between buddies hanging out high for entertainment's sake, and paranoia, confusion, lucidity, all descending into madness. I just want to know what Phil and his buddies were on that so many of them ended up clinically insane and/or in jail. 6/10
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02/12/30 - About Schmidt
This movie is by Alexander Payne, the writer/director behind Election and Citizen Ruth. Schmidt shares a similar tone, but it's a much more somber movie. Basically, we're presented with a guy who shows no sign of ever having any passion or even making any decisions in his life. He retires and is forced to do something with himself, and the film is his odyssey of uncomfortable situations, bad social skills, and aggressively mediocre people forcing their way into his life. At the core it's really about facing up to bitter disappointment. But it's funny, and smart, and it's full of fantastic character performances. But you might not find any of the characters redeeming, and you might find Schmidt's mind-sucking boredom and uncomfortableness to be boring and uncomfortable. But that's kind of the point. 7/10
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09/08/14 - Adam
It doesn't do anything wrong. Reasonable, sweet. 4/10
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02/12/27 - Adaptation
A movie not about making movies but about itself. It sounds like an egotistical stunt for Kaufman to write himself into his movie, but it really was the best way that he could adapt the tone and point of the real-life nonfiction book he was hired to adapt into a screenplay. Instead of the book being source material, the book becomes a character in a whole new story that shares its themes. The way the movie curles back into itself and mixes reality and fiction and blurs the lines is both its brilliance and its downfall. On an intellectual and creative level, this movie is simply a cut above most films and a real step forward for hollywood creativity. But the way the movie unravels its own fiction, the way it breaks its own reality on purpose, creates a distance between the audience and the emotions of the characters. You become acutely aware that you're watching actors playing out a script, but then you remember that half the characters are real people doing stuff that really happened, but then you realise that the writer is taking liberties with the facts, but then you think that any "true story" is a dramatized interpretation... and that's basically the experience of watching the movie. Which would be a bit of a pointless excercise if the film didn't back that up with some real human drama and questions about passion and art and interpretation. And then it takes it a step further and buries all that stuff under funny characters and dialogue and some suprising action... It's a hell of a movie. I can fathom a writer writing that script out of sheer frustration and inspiration and guts, but the fact that hollywood actually made it into a film boggles my mind. If nothing else, Adaptation is impressive just for how ballsy it is. And now that I've had time for that initial impression to wear off, the emotional fabric of the film itself is starting to grow on me. I'll need to see it again. 8/10
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01/06/29 - A.I.
Beautifully shot film. The Kubrick flavour is tangible. But it has zero insight into the idea of A.I., in fact I think it got the core idea wrong. Instead of having a robot develop emotions, he spends the entire film as a toy that's been hard-wired to act like it's in love. It's a different way to go, but we never empathize with him. As impressive as the performance is, it's a problem that he never seems more alive than an Aibo. The film does stumble along entertainingly enough to a shaky conclusion, and it's not a bad movie. But then it keeps going, for the long and drawn out epilogue second ending. This is where the movie shoots itself in the feet, the legs, the heart, the head, then crawls up its own ass and dies. What happened to you, Spielberg? 4/10
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02/05/19 - About A Boy
About A Boy is by the author of High Fidelity, it's got a soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy, and it's got Hugh Grant in a great performance unlike I've seen him before; more real and without the fey British irony thing. The kid in it is good; he's not a typical hollywood cute kid and he's got his own thoughts and wisdom. And the movie has lots of good laughs. I have a feeling that the book probably fleshes these characters out a lot fuller, because the movie is a bit skimpy with motivation and so a lot of the payoff that we should be feeling at times doesn't quite come through. But I expect that the target of the filmmakers wasn't to make the film really resonating or insightful, but to look for success by emphasizing the fluff and the humour. But at the same time they were brave enough to respect the audience's intelligence instead of pandering. So yeah, it's entertaining and smart but it won't stick in my brainspace. 6/10
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09/04/07 - Adventureland
It's being marketed as another Superbad, but it's not at all. To put a fine point on it, Superbad's music was by a funk supergroup led by Bootsy Collins, where Adventureland's music is by Yo La Tengo, and the soundtrack features Lou Reed. ...So the peripheral characters from the trailer are funny, but the appeal here is the main group of characters who are all complex, interesting, and realistic. People too smart to be there, maybe too smart for their own good, but floundering in their dead-end situation so are they really? The main character isn't a victim of insane goings-on, he makes things happen, for better and worse. Even the apparently one-note characters end up illustrating unexpected depth. The only problem is how the tail end of the movie starts twisting into the stereotypical structure that it's better than...but I guess they needed some kind of sense of an ending. 7/10
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01/12/27 - Ali
The photography is beautiful. The music is inspired. The acting is top-notch, Will Smith carries off what I didn't think he could. But the film as a whole? Michael Mann let me down. Heat may have been lengthy and a bit cumbersome at times, but it worked. And The Insider told me he had found his feet, able to tell even a seemingly tired story and make it into an epic. So how could he go wrong with a subject like Mohammad Ali? Well it got fumbled somehow. The three hour running time seems necessary for an Ali biopic, but for what ended up on the screen, it should have been more like two. Somehow the film ends without having presented a real sense of Ali's boxing prowress nor achieving the actual target of illustrating Ali as a person. It's like the film tried for it all, but spread itself too thin, missing any real impact or anchor or thread. And it's just too damn long. It's not a bad film by any means, it's just not nearly what it could have been, if only it had chosen something to be. The only really great part is the relationship between Ali and Howard Cosell.
I'm growing quite weary of the three-hour-film trend. It makes sense when the film needs it, but what happened to the 90 minute film? They're all stretched to 2 hours now. Is it a matter of perceived value? Does the moviegoer pick the longest film, hoping to get the most value out of their 13 and a half bucks? This film's runtime deflates it. 6/10
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04/08/13 - Alien vs Predator
Where's all the Aliens fighting Predators? Who are all these humans, and why do we have to sit through an hour of the dumbest exposition I can remember, and why don't we care if they suffer or die? Why does the script go out of its way to make their dialogue way stupider than is necessary to advance the plot? Why does it forget basic parts of the mythology of Aliens and Predators? Why aren't the Aliens or Predators scary or even cool? Why couldn't this movie have been worse so I could have enjoyed it? Why is there not a single interesting thing in the whole production? 2/10
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00/10/03 - Almost Famous
Hm. I'm writing about a movie about writing about music. Dancing about architecture anyone? Anyway... Not really thematic, and no subtext, this is simply a well done coming-of-age story where nobody really comes of age much. But it's an engaging, well-told, well-acted piece, with characters who are very real. (Extra real sometimes for being based on real people.) But I prefer something that is a cohesive work, something that more can be mined out of on repeat viewings. Still, it works really well as a string of good-to-great scenes. 7/10
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01/11/11 - Amelie
Kinetic, pure, heartfelt, stylish. And most of all Innocent. It's difficult to describe how this film manages to stay clear of soppiness, showing the odd sex shop and suicide jump, but still manage to feel like a portrait of the idyllic and pure side of humanity. It just makes you feel good. The characters are quirky and great, the little stories are cool, and the whole thing is assembled with an energy that keeps the movie buoyant. The delight does begin to wear thin toward the end, but it wraps up just before it starts to really falter. You can't help but like this movie, it just loves life too much. 8/10
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00/01/07 - American Movie
If you have any interest in the art of filmmaking, see this movie. This dude has so much heart, and it seems some talent too, but he's doomed by low-rent crews and low-brow aspirations. Still, he's ten times the filmmaker that George Lucas is now. 8/10
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00/04/25 - American Psycho
I liked it. Interesting character, some great scenes, funny, stylishly made, and it strikes up a great vibe of this society of people of no importance trying to fit in with eachother, where not even a total fucking lunatic can make a mark. I love how the desserts are more interesting than the people who eat them. 8/10
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03/08/25 - American Splendor
Like a snake eating its tail, this is a true story about a real writer who writes true stories about himself. It stars Paul Giamatti as real-life Harvey Pekar, but also stars the real Harvey Pekar, as the really-real Harvey Pekar. Harvey is kind of a poet, but also kind of an asshole. But we empathize, he's just a real guy, except with a slightly higher concentration of reality than most of us. The multiple-actor/multiple-role thing sounds like a gimmick, but it's not at all. Since Harvey's fiction is his reality, the lines the film draws between reality and fiction don't so much blur as cross back onto themselves and reinforce the message. The scenes end up being more real than a biography, even more real than most documentaries. You believe it even more, because nobody's hiding behind the concept of reenactments. They acknowlege when they're taking creative license, and you understand that they're not cheating, they're just distilling things down to their essence, purifying the truth. The experience of watching the whole thing turns out to be really...well...just TRUE. Recommended Triple Bill: Crumb, Ghost World, American Splendor. 9/10
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07/09/15 - The Animation Show 3
Nothing really blew my mind, though the latest Hertzfeldt is quite good, more immediate than the one before. The rest is mostly interesting, innovative, solid work. Only a couple quasi-yawners. Films are from the last few years, one is really old, so if you're in touch you might have seen most of these before, especially now that these things get online exposure. 5/10
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01/06/27 - The Anniversary Party
What happens when actors get together to make a movie? Indulgence. Weak plot. Lots of acting muscles being flexed. Which means some really great character moments, but not much of a whole movie up there. 4/10
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09/05/06 - Anvil! The Story Of Anvil
So it's not fake like Spinal Tap, but man, it's like they edited it right on top of Spinal Tap's structure. It even ends in Japan. Oh, hey hipster sitting in front of me with the hyper-annoying knowing laugh, it's not that funny. Yeah, people that are passionate about stuff and have a drive to accomplish something sure are hysterical. Look, people enjoying themselves unironically, what a gas! So it's actually pretty good for the first half, if you're interested in the day-to-day life of a starving artist who refuses to give up the dream. It gets emotional. Eventually it kind of peters out. It's the life of being a footnote. 5/10
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06/05/16 - Art School Confidential
You know how Ghost World had that subplot about the art class? What if the same director made a whole movie just about the art class? You might imagine it could be good or bad, and it's kind of both. 5/10
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07/11/06 - The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Oh man, Roger Deakins' photography. And then Nick Cave on the score. This thing just plods forward, paced like a metronome, but it's so thick with history and tension it kept me hooked the whole way through. This is a great western because it's not a western. 8/10
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01/06/16 - Atlantis
The art is nice. And it's nice to see Disney making a more "adult" film, one with Star Wars type death, and no songs or animals. Unfortunately, the story line and characters are muddled and amateur and nothing quite gels. There's a lot of stuff in there that should make for a good film, but it's all cliched and misdirected, making the movie much less than the sum of its parts. The film never captures the sense of importance or wonder, or even coherence, that Atlantis deserves. 4/10
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05/01/17 - The Aviator
I guess Howard Hughes was more of a noteworthy guy than a great man, but I'm not sure if that's what this movie is about. Half of it seems to be about him washing his hands. The other half is mostly about how he had a ton of money that he would blow on paying tons of people to build him vanity projects. He does stand up for the right thing at one point. Oh, and there's also some love story stuff that goes nowhere? I was going to say the movie tries too hard to be epic and destroys itself, but when I think about it maybe it wasn't trying to be epic at all. It was just trying to be about too much and nothing in particular. The one thing I'm sure about is it's too long. 5/10
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09/06/26 - Away We Go
I didn't know a movie could be simultaneously insubstantial and moving. 7/10
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04/07/03 - Baadasssss
Recommended. Entertaining, informative... shows really great behind-the-scenes moviemaking stuff, in a more realistic guerilla way than you're used to. Funky 70s tunes and style give it a kick. Won't go down in history like the real film within this film did, although I'm sure this movie is far superior. But as much passion as this film has for telling the story of Melvin's movie, it's probably not as much passion as Melvin's movie had. But the making of the first black film--the movie that inspired Blacksploitation--is still a great story worth knowing about, and I doubt anyone could tell it better than this. 7/10
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09/11/30 - Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans
I'm not sure why he's a "bad" lieutenant. He confiscates illegal drugs but doesn't press charges, never discharges his weapon, saves a prisoner from drowning, helps a prostitute into rehab, sends a good inner-city youth off to a better life, pays his debts, never does anything that leads to an innocent person being harmed, and ultimately brings a bunch of killers to justice. What a jerk. ...The fun of the movie is he seems to be doing it all by accident while being an antisocial desperate drug fiend looking out only for number one. It's the antithesis of A Serious Man: sometimes good things happen for no reason, even despite you trying your hardest to be awful. 7/10
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02/10/14 - Barber Shop
Is good. I would've liked to have spent more time inside the barbershop and less time with the subplot (that became more of a side plot--ie half the movie) about a couple stupid guys and a bank machine. The "day in the life" timeframe and wide supporting cast and subplots make it very much a Do The Right Thing 'lite'. But at least they've turned a bank of potentially stock characters into real people. Except maybe the Oreo guy, who's introduced with the 'complicated coffee' joke we've all seen a billion times. So to sum it all up: it's solid but not really fresh. 6/10
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05/06/21 - Batman Begins
It's cool to take a dead serious approach, and for the first 2/3rds it works really well. I was getting really into it when we started to see how Scarecrow and Batman are the same, strictly using fear as their weapon. It was a beautiful setup. The stuff with the love interest was pretty much the same notes as Mary Jane in Spiderman, but it can't possibly come off that well because Spiderman is really *about* MJ. So it's a little weak, but not a big deal. But then suddenly the movie starts introducing things like "the antidote", "the big evil plot that makes little sense", "lots of awkward exposition", "the crappy action set piece", and "the bad guy who suddenly makes everyone else's motives make no sense". For a movie so "serious", it turns really really stupid really quickly. Part of the problem with the home stretch is probably how the movie (naturally) concentrates on the action toward the end, and while nicely cold and brutal, it's really poorly edited action; all noise and bluster and little sense or structure. It was a clean 8 or 9 until the last third undermined the whole foundation. 7/10
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08/02/26 - Be Kind Rewind
I don't know what to make of it really, except that perhaps Gondry can't tell a good story without a bulletproof script written by somebody else. He tries to make up for it with inventiveness, but the core concept from the trailer gets marginalized and we never really get to see how they make the movies and how they turn out. I kinda get what they were driving at about the power of community and our own stories over the mass-market, but it was scattered enough that it didn't really push my buttons. If the disparate elements would have really gelled to hammer the theme home, it coulda been a heartbreaker. 5/10
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00/02/24 - The Beach
Trainspotting is a masterpiece. The guys behind it were also behind The Beach, so I had to see it despite the bad buzz. It's been interesting to watch Danny Boyle's visual style evolve. The bad part is, as he gets more polished visually, he seems to be neglecting story and character.  The arcs were essentially non existent, and there were some really interesting themes that were set up but never properly explored or paid off. So it ended up just an empty experience, unless you're inclined to extrapolate on the themes on your own time. 6/10
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04/08/02 - Before Sunset
I think the original Before Sunrise would have been a better movie for me when I was 19 or so. But I didn't see it until recently, and the thing that held it back was that the characters didn't really seem to be interacting so much as waiting for their turn to speak--or rather to deliver their monologue about some intellectual concept designed mostly to make the person saying it sound smart (rather than actually communicate). It's a kind of young nerd fantasy of two people falling in love because their ideas are so sexy. The movie worked in other ways, but got a little painful when the actors sounded like they were reciting text from a script instead of just acting like people. The first half of Before Sunset feels pretty much the same as the first movie, though the ideas are more mature, and more importantly there's a way different (and more interesting) dynamic to these people at this point in their lives. So it's a good movie for the first half. But then the movie turns an invisible little corner, and I was totally sucked in by the urgency and immediacy that came to the surface. Our loosely constructed characters suddenly sublimate into real human people. And for at least 20 minutes Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy succeed as well (or better) than I can remember anyone succeeding at capturing a moment right out of real life. 8/10
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00/10/17 - Best In Show
Not quite as good as Guffman, but still quite funny and very clever. The characters are cartoonish, but performed so well they become just feasable enough to make it genius. 8/10
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01/06/02 - Between The Moon And Montevideo
Stylish and atmospheric, but kinda boring for a lot of it. But it's got its good bits and it's got its spanish-flavoured-interplanetary-post-apocalyptic Delicatessen-meets-Lock Stock style. 4/10
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00/07/05 - Beyond The Mat
I'm not a wrestling fan. I went to this documentary to laugh at dumb guys doing silly acrobatics and watch the wacky politics behind the scenes. Instead I got an intensely personal, sometimes deeply moving portrait of the people behind this very dangerous spectacle and the rough lifes they lead. I have more respect for wrestling now than I could have imagined having before, and at the same time I want to watch wrestling even less. Highly, highly recommended. 8/10
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03/12/30 - Big Fish
I really enjoyed this. It's funny because it reminded me of In America from the day before, but only in the ways it approached the same emotions from completely the opposite angles. This is all about the unreality, the acceptance of the conventions of storytelling. Basically it just spins a big bunch of entertaining B.S., which is just good fun, until it starts showing us about the unspoken truths that lie at the core of all that B.S. that we all spin for ourselves. Or something. And then just when it had me primed, it totally suckerpunched me right in the tear-ducts. Tricky bastard, that Tim Burton. ...It doesn't knock Edward Scissorhands off the top for me, but it's a worthy attempt. 8/10
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02/01/19 - Black Hawk Down
If you're going to make a movie that's basically two straight hours of combat, there's lots of different ways to make it stay interesting. You can show the political forces at work or the simple tactics that make the events unfold, or otherwise give the audience an overview of what's happening on a larger scale to give the smaller events meaning. Three Kings. Or you can divide the action into several set pieces of different types of battle to keep the action fresh. Private Ryan. Or you can make the characters people that you care about and let them arc or at least play off eachother in interesting ways. Or you can make the action so visceral that the audience feels like they're going through the events themselves, hoping that the experience is fascinating or harrowing enough to be the point of the film. Or hopefully, like any good war movie, you put a bunch of these things together.
Black Hawk Down does none of these things. It gives you "characters" who are all boring interchangeable "hero" archetypes with no backstory and are even harder to tell apart for all looking the same. That would be fine, but then it puts them in a maze of streets and rubble, without a sense of where they're trying to go and what they're facing against, shooting in every direction at "bad guys" who pop up in random places at random times, for the whole movie. There's no sense of how far they are from their targets, how far the teams are from eachother, or even how far the army base is from the action when it's time to refuel and rearm. (A few long shots is all I ask.) The action is pretty visceral, but the perspective jumps between the different teams so much that you never get any sense of how long someone has been traveling or waiting, no elation when someone finds their objective, and it's even confusing what most people's objectives are or what direction they're heading.
I guess it can be argued that that's exactly the nature of being thrust into urban combat and having everything go wrong, and the movie in fact does a good job of keeping the events straight, but if you ask me it's just a lengthy two-plus hours of Bruckheimer-driven sensationalism. It would be a complete disaster if not for Ridley Scott's technical skill keeping it watchable. But I spent nearly the whole film thinking about how many ways it could have been much better. 5/10
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02/03/23 - Blade 2
Starts off really, really cool. There's some neat CG-stunt-double stuff that pushes the fight scene envelope. There's some great one liners. All the characters seem to hate eachother and throw insults around. It takes itself less seriously, and is more fun because of it. But then the plot stops making any sense whatsoever. And then the action stops making any sense whatsoever. And then they start doing WWF moves. And then they start plugging in formula scenes from the wrong formulas. And then it gets *really* bad. And then it finally closes off with a pretty good fight scene. I can't help but compare it to Resident Evil. It averages out to the same amount of overall stupid and cool, only Blade 2 has way higher highs and way lower lows. Low enough to drain out the fun. 5/10
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07/11/10 - Blade Runner: The Final Cut
"If only you could see what I've seen with your eyes." It's the director's cut, again, but on the big screen. It took other people to point out the slight differences to me. The stuntwoman's wig doesn't come off. The wires holding up the full-scale flying car have been painted out. The eye-lights are perhaps cleaner and more pronounced. Oh, and they fixed some dialogue so stupid idiots who read way too much into continuity errors can stop saying Deckard is the 6th of the escaped replicants, which would make absolutely ZERO sense. Its impact on the genre, and the fact that I can recite entire scenes, earned my 10.
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03/03/15 - Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary
The challenging thing about this film is that it's quite literally a straight 90 minutes of one talking head. No embellishment, no cutaways, just dry medium closeup. Speaking German. It would be a lot more trying to read through all those subtitles, if not for the subject of the monologue being so interesting. Basically, it's an insider's portrait of Hitler during the last half of the war, an insider with a rare introspection and lucidity. A portrait from inside the bunker, a "blind spot" where the actual details and war crimes weren't heard of, just day-to-day life and speech writing. The film isn't entertainment so much as a historical document, an archive that was important to record. It's made a little more potent these days with the totalitarianism echoing a bit of both sides of our current events. 7/10
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00/07/21 - Blood Simple
This film is still stylish and slick, with some excellent moments. It was quite revolutionary in its time, but right now I'd give it 7/10
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02/08/30 - Blue Crush
Some beautiful footage. Good underwater shots, good underwear shots. But while it starts with a promising tone and promising surfing excitement, it gets dragged down with being too long and one-dimensional. The movie keeps telling us how hard her life is and how great a surfer she is, but all we see is her being pampered by a football player and scene after scene of her nearly being killed every time she tries to take a wave. There's lots of talked-up conflict between characters, but the conflict never actually happens--the characters in this film all seem to forgive eachother instantaneously and for no reason. It all feels like some weak girly-girl fantasy. Even the surfing is one-dimensional--give me Dogtown And Z-Boys' smooth cutbacks and fluid moves over this straight-ahead 'ride the pipe' risk-taking any day. It was all a big letdown to find out that the peak athlete in this side of the sport is the one who's lucky enough to score the best looking wave. Trite. 4/10
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00/02/27 - Boiler Room
The first two acts are good, but it falls apart in the third. Another thematically challenged flick, it showed potential to comment on several themes but didn't. So it merely ended up making me trust my broker even less. 6/10
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06/11/13 - Borat!
I thought it might get old with that much Borat all in a row, but it really works. I only felt sorry for the interviewees/victims here and there, and the 'dying an awkward slow death' scenes all cut mercifully before they entered the comedy torture zone. Some big, big laughs; lots of missing the next line because the audience was laughing too hard. Is nice. 8/10
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02/06/15 - The Bourne Identity
What you'd expect. You get a car chase, you get some martial arts, you get some gunplay. Amnesia is a key plot device. Basically the whole premise looks pretty bad on paper, but somehow it works quite well, due simply to excellent execution. The stuff I liked was the kind of forced-european-backpacker thing where our hero comes ashore in a foreign country with one change of clothes and a hundred bucks and no idea who he is. Oh yeah, and everyone is trying to kill him. Good sight-seeing movie. Good action film. Some cool characters. You know, it's a really enjoyable flick, I recommend it, it's just pretty forgettable. 6/10
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04/07/27 - The Bourne Supremacy
I'm all for equal opportunity, but maybe you shouldn't hire epileptics with advanced parkinsons as camera operators. Hollywood needs to stop watching their movies in the top corner of their 19" AVID monitor and deciding that the action plays well. I wouldn't complain so much if that problem wasn't so indicitive of the whole movie; a bunch of blustery noise to try to trick you into thinking what you're watching is really exciting and makes sense, when in fact it's kind of empty and lacking any real dramatic storyline...despite being well crafted in all the technical disciplines. But in the artistic disciplines: Why is he shaking the camera during completely calm, purely character-centric dialogue scenes? Is he scared of being boring? What a dick. The first Bourne had more going for it in terms of feeling. People say these action scenes are better, but while they have more "attitude", they're poorly conceived because they're all noise and no structure. You can't tell what's happening beat to beat, so there's no drama to the action. These guys are calculated, experienced killers, they don't find their moves frantic and desperate, never quite knowing what's going on. I'm all for style, but they whitewashed this movie beginning to end in the same "style" and ruined the chance to have it make the movie better. To put it another way: you know how Robin Williams at his most coked-out would jump around the stage yelling and freaking out, and people would laugh and enjoy his energy even though what he's saying isn't funny and sometimes downright mundane? Bourne Supremecy scores big for creating the *illusion* of entertainment, but it loses points for what it really is: a half-assed story. 5/10
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07/08/08 - The Bourne Ultimatum
This movie is really exciting considering that nothing actually happens and there's no plot. Greengrass's Bourne movies put me off with the shaky cam, but on the other hand I give them full props for being the only action films left that care about being plausible. No riding on the wing of a harrier and jumping 8 stories onto concrete while someone hacks a police car into jumping over a helicopter. I mean, there's a couple things that go too far, a couple big dumb cheats in the story, but luckily the camera shakes so bad and cuts so quick you don't really pick up on it. So it's blustery nonsense, but I guess I bought it? Maybe the globetrotting locales and attention to strategic technical detail redeem its minor sins? 7/10
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02/10/20 - Bowling For Columbine
A really good documentary, one that actually provides answers instead of just questions. And Michael Moore keeps the grandstanding to a minimum, only twice confronting respectable people with evil challenges that they have no capacity to answer and so no matter what they do they look like jerks. Anyway, his commentary is heavy-handed at times, but it's always clever, and sometimes it gets really moving. There's some serious, serious problems in the U.S, and it's really scary to see them held up to the light and know that nobody is doing anything about it. It's really really frightening, but it's a good kind of fear for us to have, because the fear that the rest of the media is feeding us is only perpetuating the problem. See this film. 8/10
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00/01/01 - Boys Don't Cry
Pretty good. A little rough around the edges, but endearing. Hilary Swank will win the best actress oscar because she looks like a boy. 7/10
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06/01/25 - Brokeback Mountain
Is everybody over it yet? Does the fact that there's more female nudity than male help anyone? Wisely, the trailers and press and what everybody thinks the movie is about only gets you 1/3rd of the way in. The interesting thing about the movie is how it gets there and then especially what happens for the remaining 2/3rds. I thought it was a good flick, in its small quiet way. The only hard part about watching it, or not watching it, is having any opinion without it being considered a political statement. But the filmmakers can't complain; the movie doesn't have a hook outside of that. 7/10
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05/08/15 - Broken Flowers
Kind of a snooze. Don't believe the trailer that says this is quirky and funny. It's really like a more vacant and sparse version of About Schmidt. To me, the tone is too light and airy to support such a poker-faced main character...it's awkward encounter after awkward encounter, but where Schmidt reacted, these interactions don't seem to faze either party. Everyone just stands around acting at eachother. So the point of the movie clearly isn't the central mystery, but I'm hard pressed to see what the point is. Sure it's some guy trying to figure out what he wants, and Bill Murray blah blah blah, but the movie arrives nowhere. What the hell was the point? 4/10
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02/02/17 - Brotherhood Of The Wolf
A horror monster kung-fu revenge action foreign-language love-story adventure period piece. Based on a true story. And surprisingly, it all jells in a ridiculously pleasing way. Pure and total popcorn movie funtime. Just a little too much fad-editing cheese. And then there's the big plot holes, but it's just too fun and confusing to care. Who knew the French could kick ass? 7/10
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09/07/12 - Bruno
This is the same idea as Borat, but with gags that are more obvious and a character who isn't fundamentally likeable--so it feels tedious instead of amazing. It actually seems like most of the gags didn't work out as planned when they were shooting it. A lot of the targets could tell it was a put-on; I imagine these days nobody believes that stereotype actually exists, not the way they believe in Borat. A lot of Borat's comedy comes from people trying to help him out, but people just want to steer clear of someone like Bruno, whether or not they can tell he's a real guy. So you get a series of sketches with Bruno doing something ridiculous, and the public just wearily trying to extract themselves from the situation, embarrassed on his behalf. It should be funnier and more revealing than this to try to incite gay panic or reveal homophobia and hypocricy, but this movie manages to do almost nothing creative or interesting. 4/10
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08/09/20 - Burn After Reading
You know that bad cliche scene where someone is snooping and then some comes home, and the guy hides in the closet and spies on him, and then the guy goes to get something out of the closet? This movie has the best one of those scenes ever shot. Other than that, it has a lot of hilarious exasperation. I guess it's like a cross between Fargo and Lebowski, but fluffier, less substantial. 7/10
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05/12/06 - Capote
Pretty good for a character/acting movie. There's not a lot of plot or history lesson, but Capote and the killers are interesting characters, and their evolving dynamic even moreso. I haven't read In Cold Blood, but this seems like the story behind the story. It's probably a good piece when it makes me feel like I really should read the book and it's kind of shameful that I haven't already. 6/10
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06/12/01 - Casino Royale
Bond is back to great action sequences. Real stunts. Realistic gags. Things like that. Other parts are kind of laughable. One scene in particular has the entire audience groaning. (and if the audience has lots of poker players in it, there's a second scene that deserves groans and 'wait a second' too.) But on the whole it does its job, which is something Bond movies have been failing at worse and worse since Goldeneye until now. 6/10
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03/01/03 - Catch Me If You Can
Spielberg is simply one of the finest film craftsman there's ever been. I consider him a journeyman. And this film is a tight, good-looking, entertaining journeyman of a film. Funny as hell but not in an obvious way, superbly acted by DiCaprio and Hanks, beautifully shot... It's a recipe for a thoroughly enjoyable film. It runs a little long, but ends up paying off the real-life characters nicely. Interesting story at its core, suitably embellished by the work of pros. 8/10
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00/08/24 - The Cell
I like film because it's a visceral medium. I like Saving Private Ryan not because of the story or characters, but because it's a sensory experience, it gives you shell-shock. The Cell is a visceral film; its bizarre and fascinating imagery is easily worth seeing for its own sake. It's just too bad the film doesn't have the depth to comment properly on the themes it raises. 7/10
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01/05/24 - The Center Of The World
It made an attempt at something big, but I don't think it pulled it off. I'm not sure if it pulled it off, cause I'm not really sure what it was trying for. 4/10
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00/11/12 - Charlie's Angels
It looks like everyone had fun making it. Girls should enjoy the "strong female characters". Boys should enjoy the T&A. I won't criticize the fact that it's a bad movie, but I have to say it barely held my attention. It made my mind wander. It was like watching a string of music videos; three-to-five-minute scenes that have nothing to do with eachother with the occasional appearance by a talking head explaining what you just saw and what's coming up. 4/10
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05/07/17 - Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Tim Burton's got father issues, hey? Fleshing out Willy Wonka's character made things more interesting, but not for kids I imagine. I think they kind of screwed up Willy Wonka. I'm not sure how much of it is Depp and how much is Burton...but this take on the story is really about Wonka and his weaknesses, and I'm not sure if the movie is better for it. It probably would have been just a psychadelic horror story of brats getting punished (like the book) if not for asking and answering "what makes Wonka tick?", so I liked that added depth, but when the movie isn't quite fun like it should be, I wonder if that's the cause. 6/10
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09/04/10 - Che
Yep, the 4.5 hour "Roadshow Edition", including a 15-minute intermission. No credits (or ads or trailers!) before or after, instead a printed program. Like back in the Apocalypse Now days. The movie itself... well the first half is pretty dry, though it does build to a nice lengthy concluding battle sequence. I'm not sure I got any sense of the guy though, it was more a lesson on the chain of events, and a study of actually living life day to day on the front lines. The second half is way more dry, and almost from the very beginning you can tell that it's doomed, nobody even knows what the goal is anymore, and nobody involved seems to believe in either side of the cause. It reminded me of the last place I worked, actually. It should illustrate a recent ongoing war as well. The two halves show how a revolution can work and then how it can fail, but as seen from the personal human perspective of being on the ground. 6/10
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00/06/28 - Chicken Run
Really quite very entertaining. 7/10
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07/01/06 - Children Of Men
I really admire the craftsmanship of this one. Best "all in one shot" sequences ever, but subtle enough that most people won't even realize. All you know is that when all hell is breaking loose it feels like you're there. And then the storytelling is mostly excellent, with so much of the backstory coming through in the details of the set dressing and ads and newspapers. The downside for me is that while the plot makes total sense as one-sentence summaries ("sure, they're corrupt so we can't trust them") I wasn't buying it when it came down to characters expositing the details. ("hey wait, 'being corrupt' still wouldn't give them that motive you're talking about"). I think the book was thoughtful and dry, and it was transformed into a totally different plot designed to pay off the visceral feeling of what it would like to be in that world. It definetly pulls that off. 8/10
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01/02/24 - Chocolat
It's like Pleasantville, only instead of being in black and white, everyone is constantly eating. Best picture? I guess if you're a woman with a problem with sweets or an eating disorder... And you like straightforward, well-made, predictable movies. 6/10
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00/08/08 - Chuck & Buck
We all know someone who lives in their own world, who doesn't quite obey the general rules of conversation, etiquette, of society. Well hell, we're all like that in some way, we all miss that societal ideal of "normal", be it an adult fascination with Lego and Nerf or our sexual preferences. Chuck has grown up, the rules have changed his behaviour, he is normal. Buck has gotten old, but still behaves as an 11 year old. He is functioning in a world of rules with complete ignorance of what the rules are. Oddly paced, shot with ugly video, and frustrating at times, but more and more interesting the more I think about it. 7/10
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00/03/20 - Cider House Rules
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie as I watched it. But as early as half an hour later, I started to realise there really wasn't much point to it. Just a coming-of-age tale that touches lightly upon a few strong issues (parenting, orphans, abortion), but doesn't adequatly connect them. Mostly forgettable. 7/10
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03/02/05 - City Of God
The best movie of the year...if it counts as 2002, which it barely does. It's like a kind of Goodfellas from the slums of Rio de Janeiro, shot and edited with the style of Traffic meets Trainspotting only more baroque and kinetic. It takes place in the 60s and 70s, with appropriate music and fashion and style and filmstock. Based on true events, it's like the ultimate hybrid of documentary and first-person storytelling. And it's frighteningly real. 9/10
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08/01/20 - Cloverfield
It's done pretty much as well as one could hope. Not exactly informative of the human condition or anything, it's a rollercoaster. Maybe it would have been better if our rag-tag group of heroes jumped a cab into the creature's mouth? Oh wait, this moive just proves with every minute how bad most dumb blockbusters are at character and story. 6/10
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04/08/05 - Collateral
Michael Mann is back in form. This is his least "epic" movie, and that's exactly what makes it stand with his best work. It could have been the usual action nonsense, but Mann handles it very artfully, even letting it have a theme. The characters are good, and nothing is too contrived. Very watchable, but willing to push the envelope a bit and smart enough to hold up to scrutiny. One thing though: I saw an advanced screening and sitting behind me was one of those movie fans that's killing movies. I didn't really believe they existed, but this was one of those people that likes to watch all the trailers and wishes the trailers gave MORE of the story away. See, if you already know the whole story, then when you watch the movie you get to feel way smarter than the characters cause "Bad move man, that guy's a killer! Didn't you know?! HA!" and "Uh oh, don't answer the door! That guy's dead." I can imagine this guy at a play of Romeo And Juliet yelling out "Oh man he thinks she's dead but she's not! HAhahahaha!" I'm glad you get such enjoyment out of thinking everything on screen is a giant joke, especially when characters make decisions based on the information they have at the time. Laugh riot. Asshole. 8/10
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03/01/26 - Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind
Clooney shows promise as a director, though the whole thing adds up to little more than a bunch of hip style (when it's not trying too hard) with little substance. Considering the nature of the source material, this is probably the treatment it deserved. It's entertaining, but really just par for the course. 5/10
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05/09/07 - The Constant Gardener
There was this one thing that I didn't buy in this movie, but then a pharmacist I know pointed out that it happens all the time in real life. Pharmaceutical companies will discover their drug kills people, but hide the research and go to market with it anyway. I thought "but they'll get crazy sued and run out of business!" and they do get sued; but only after they've made their billions, so what's losing a hundred million in a lawsuit? Oh well, pull it from the shelves, sorry 'bout that! On with the next product! It kinda makes me feel ill. So yeah, this movie isn't quite The Insider or anything, but it's in the ballpark. Directed stylishly by the dude who did City Of God, this second effort is a lot more downtempo than that first masterpiece, but that's the vibe this one needs. More reserved, more contemplative. The thing I appreciated was the subjective point of view in the telling that really put us in the main character's mind. 7/10
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06/09/12 - Conversations With Other Women
A whole movie that is one conversation between a man and a women, done entirely in splitscreen, usually the split is the same scene from slightly different angles, sometimes one side becomes flashback (or misremembering? fantasy?)... The subject matter deals honestly with the complexities of trying to revisit old relationships; the familiarity, awkwardness, strategy...the blurry line between romantic and needy... honest details of what changes and what stays the same. If that sounds good to you, you won't be dissatisfied. It was right up my alley at the time so I found it very compelling. 7/10
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03/04/05 - The Core
More like "The Bore"! ...no, wait, more like "The Snore"! ...no wait more like "The Cliche Whore"! ...no wait... uh, nevermind. ...The thing I don't get is that even though this movie is almost exactly like Armageddon in every terrible detail, I enjoyed Armageddon where I found this movie unredeemable. I think it might be because in Armageddon, the idea of flying into space to blow up an asteroid makes enough sense to buy the basic premise. In The Core, the earth-threatening problem is actually as real-life as Armageddon's, except the movie skips over the reality of the magnetic-pole switching thing and actually makes it sound like nonsense. Okay, that's fine, except that the premise of driving a vehicle to the centre of the not-insignificantly hot and pressurized earth is a little bit less sensical. Okay fine, the science is shaky, but now consider that while flying through outer space can be visually interesting, piloting a steel-tube vehicle through a featureless sea of opaque magma is the very definition of "unfilmable". How do you actually show a shot of this in action that looks anything like you're looking at a real thing? And so the meat of the film consists of scenes inside three sets: an infinite orange background with no sense of distance or scale, a featureless vehicle with no windows, and a standard mission control (with a grade 2 textbook 2-D cross section of the earth as their mission map "Crust, Mantle, Core"). Which, okay, fine, who cares if it makes any logical sense or is nice to look at as long as it's dramatic, right? Oops, the characters all suck and everyone is constantly making nonsensical decisions when they aren't busy spouting pandering exposition to the audience. I can't really criticize any particular detail, because nothing in particular was wrong with the film, except that the entire thing doesn't have a single redeeming feature that I can think of. It comes down to this: you know those stories that young kids tell people that they make up as they go? The ones that go "and then my parents bought a horse but then it kicked my sister in the head and she died but i flew to the moon and i got a million dollars"? The Core is a story like that; a collection of moments that are supposed to be dramatic, except the whole thing is a giant string of nonsense. 3/10
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04/01/16 - The Corporation
You know those protestors who get stopped in their tracks by questions like "If this war is for oil, why doesn't America already own the oil after the last Gulf War?". The ones that have such strong opinions, but they don't know any information beyond what they copied off of someone else's picket sign? As much as I agree with their cause, I hate those guys.
...So, if you've ever read Adbusters, then this movie will teach you nothing. Actually, if you're media-savvy enough to have simply heard of this movie, then you probably have nothing to learn from it. You'll be especially underwhelmed if you've watched any Michael Moore stuff outside of Bowling For Columbine (even just the extras on the Columbine DVD). In fact, the filmmakers create entire segments that are nothing more than Michael Moore retelling stories you've heard before, and even just showing clips from his old TV show. Preaching to the converted is one thing, and can be fine if you've got an interesting point of view, or some clever stuff to say, or at least clever ways to say it, but aside from a few stylistic gimmicks, this movie is lazy. Luckily it starts strong, gets a neat little hook going to push itself forward, and there's a few really great anecdotes sprinkled in there. But the film is padded out (like 60-90 minutes too long, honest to god) with the same old boring rhetoric, and the frustrating thing is they keep getting derailed into subjects that have nothing to do with their point. They start wasting time on "somebody owns 'Happy Birthday'" and "advertising is devious!" and "there's pesticides in food!" but don't use it to draw any conclusions or contribute to any specific point. Movies like this are made interesting by putting these clips together in a structure that shows the connections between what different people are saying. But this movie is like listening to a drunken rant by your stereotypical under-informed political protestor, simply rattling off every single thing he can remember hearing through the grapevine about how messed up the world is. So the movie bogs down in the middle hour, feeling like an endless string of unrelated 10 minute TV spots. The movie finally draws to a close by simply putting Michael Moore on the screen to repeat his public-speaking closer about taking action. Except the movie hasn't provided any kind of perspective to fuel it. It's got the gumption to be a call to arms for political protest, but it's only got the brains to ape what it heard once from Moore and Chomsky, without interpretation, and perhaps even without correct understanding. Going in, I was expecting left-wing propoganda, but I was expecting the kind of higher-level intelligence you associate with the left wing. Instead I got to see proof that the left wing can be just as lazy and misinformed as the right wing, and just as prone to rallying everyone to violence as a solution. If only the movie was as smart as some of the people it interviewed... There's real humanity at the heart of these issues, and there's real irony to be shown, as demonstrated in the anecdotes of the executives. There's a video clip of a Shell executive who's sitting down to have a conversation with the protestors on his lawn, and his wife is giving them coffee and apologies that there's no soya. Everyone in the theatre laughed. If only the movie was willing to be that self-aware, to be that even-handed, to sit us down and ask the real questions that need to be asked, then maybe we all could have learned something from it. Michael Moore's films are a journey, one that Michael Moore learns something on. These filmmakers didn't learn anything. What ticks me off is that instead of helping everyone come together to see the real picture, they're happy to just try and build a left wing army every bit as dumb and lazy as the right wing army we all despise. 4/10
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04/06/11 - The Chronicles Of Riddick
I wish this movie was worse. At least I can get excited about hating a really bad movie. Or even better, sometimes it's bad enough that it's totally entertaining. But this? Dull. Tedious. Pointless. There's no particular shortcomings except for absolutely everything is completely uninteresting. 3/10
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02/06/23 - CQ
The trailer for CQ suggests something great. You have a man making two movies; one personal, the other a cheesy action spy picture. As he is pulled into the ridiculous hollywood world, his life changes, as he struggles to hold onto what's real while lured into a life that's exciting and fake. In the end, we should see his life reflected in the hollywood film, and we should see what he learned reflected in his personal film. All the disparate characters and themes and scenes should dovetail in interesting ways, and to top it all off the whole thing is wrapped up in an ultracool retro-futuristic universe. ...Well, CQ not only fails as building a coherent movie, it fails at building coherent movies within the movie, and then it even fails at delivering on the production design that's promised in the trailer. There's a dilemna in films that try to portray fictional great artists: do you show the art or just hint at it? Cause the art is only as good as the filmmakers can muster themselves. And such, the levels of irony on CQ stack up like crazy. All the problems the character has with his films are problems with the film itself. And this isn't a good thing. CQ should be a GOOD movie about a character turning his BAD movies into GOOD movies. But pulling that off would require the director of CQ to know how to make a good movie, so instead we get a BAD movie about a guy taking bad movies and not going anywhere with them. Ironic that the movie within the movie has only one thing going for it: the trailer. ...I read somewhere a quote that said "a great film is one with three good scenes and no bad ones". Well, CQ is three bad scenes and no good ones. It only scores points for the tiny scraps of production design (all of which you see in the trailer), Jason Schwartzman being awesome, and the occasional hints that the movie almost knew what it was trying to do. 3/10
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00/12/13 - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
It's a Kung Fu movie with a real story and a strong female slant. Refreshing change of pace. The mystical action pieces are pure delight, and the storyline draws together some great themes, symbols, and intriguing character relationships. For the majority of the film I was sure it was all going to tie together into a brilliant masterpiece, but eventually the threads are left dangling without adequate payoff. The inconsistent storyline (including a badly placed and paced flashback scene and a poorly conceived climax) drags this high-aiming epic down to the realm of "merely" enjoyable action-melodrama. The film is still quite a pleasure, just not the genius it nearly was. 8/10
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09/01/03 - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Life is like a box of buttons; you never know what you're going to get out of its suprisingly unremarkable plot and characters. For a 3 hour movie of mostly good scenes, it's pretty weird how nothing much is going on. Lots of stuff almost happens and doesn't. Dozens of ideas are set up and none are paid off. It feels like it was a 5 hour movie that had all the interesting parts removed. 5/10
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00/10/13 - Dancer In The Dark
Amazing, amazing film. I was shaken. Being shot on video actually works FOR this film instead of against, the first time I've ever seen that. The performances are great, the story tragic. Powerful and moving. 9/10
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08/07/20 - The Dark Knight
Dense. The basic theme is morals, and while every character has a perspective on it, nobody is cut and dried. So much so that I couldn't follow what was happening or motivating anyone for the middle part of it. I'd hazard to say it's too long and overly muddled. (And Nolan doesn't know how to shoot an action scene). But it's so dense with tone and compelling key characters that nobody really notices that it isn't wall-to-wall awesome. Which it probably is once you disentangle the plot. I didn't realize it watching it, but The Joker is motivated strictly by manipulating people into moral dilemmas for his own entertainment--very cool. 8/10
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07/10/14 - The Darjeeling Limited
I'll just put this up front: it's better than Life Aquatic. I mean, it's different. The elastic band stretched to max and now it's snapped back to only three characters in a simple setting that doesn't feel artificial. Is it better than Tenenbaums? Probably not. Bottle Rocket? Maybe. I don't know, can you appreciate a Wes Anderson movie after first viewing? The further he goes, the more the movies are about the subtleties, and the more I wonder if the whole thing would be impenetrable if not for the music. Since Tenenbaums, the first time through the music is significantly more immediate and emotional than the things the characters are doing; it's like listening to a brilliant album that's merely underscored with imagery and plot to evoke that trademark tone of beautiful melancholy. On the second viewing you know the story, so you can concentrate on the characters and spot all the subtleties that are important. And that's when the beautiful album fills out into a beautiful story about real people, and that emotional distance gets closed.
Darjeeling, while pleasing, may be the first Wes Anderson movie that doesn't quite qualify as comedy. This is a story of three deeply damaged people, each failing to cope and acting out in their own way, coming together just because they're all equally lost and lonely. India is a last-ditch effort to find meaning, but their approach is textbook and superficial. Combine that with mistrust and alienation from each other and their efforts aren't exactly earnest. You know you're in trouble when you can only bond by having a fistfight and macing each other in the face. Lucky for the audience this makes for some memorable stuff, and the comedy and sadness will only get deeper with each viewing. 8/10
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01/07/16 - Dark Days
Heartbreaking, hilarious... But mostly it's simply earnest and sincere, because it's a documentary made by its subjects: "homeless" people living in the subway tunnels of New York. There's no spin on it, it's just a self-portrait of their lives. And a good one. 7/10
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04/04/04 - Dawn Of The Dead
Efficient. ...I've got a question: how come characters in Zombie movies have never heard of the idea of a zombie before? People in Vampire movies are usually aware of vampire folklore. In zombie movies, it's always a voyage of discovery about what the infection might be and how it may spread. "You mean if one of 'THEM' bites you, then you become one of 'THEM'?" They never even SAY "zombie". It's good in a movie like 28 days later, where they care about the science, but this is a zombie movie of the "all visceral" type. More of a "holy fuck zombies!" movie. And a good example of the genre. 7/10
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06/10/15 - The Departed
Man did I ever have to pee by the end. Jason laughed at the way I was walking, not to say that he and everyone else wasn't making the same trip. It felt like what I imagine heroin might feel like. Aaaaaaah. 7/10
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07/07/11 - Die Hard 4
What a piece of shit. It starts off mediocre and then becomes a one-upmanship contest between the guys writing the plot and the guys designing the action scenes for who can come up with the most implausible undercooked horseshit. All I ask is for a single scene to make any sense whatsoever. And I don't know why people are parroting the lying marketing, almost every scene uses CG extensively. There's not a good practical gag in the whole mess. 3/10
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00/05/20 - Dinosaur
Amazing to look at. Aside from the technical feat, which is largely a question of time and money, the story is Land Before Time and Tarzan and a million other movies, so it's inoffensive and somewhat tired... good for kids probably 6/10
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03/08/25 - Dirty Pretty Things
The Good: it's gentle, well-handled, character-driven and very well acted, it's interesting and kinda realistic, which gives the ugly underworld stuff more gravity. The characters are really good. It lets you in on the world of illegal immigrants and how hard it can be to do the things we take for granted, simply because of the place you're born. It answers the question, "why don't they just leave?" in interesting ways. The Not-So-Good: it's kinda slow, the plot has problems, the point seems vague for most of the film... Basically there's nothing really wrong with the movie at all. I just found it didn't add up to much. The director wisely pays his attention to the characters and emotion and empathy, and glosses over the mechanics of the plot. This is a good choice because the characters have depth to explore whereas the plot is simple second-tier thriller stuff. But ultimately I thought there was a lack of narrative drive, and so the scenes just weren't particularily affecting or interesting, despite the hard work and good choices of the talents involved. It was all good stuff, but it just didn't gel together for me. Too schizophrenic or something. Some may love this film. Some may hate it. I have no opinion. 5/10
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01/04/18 - The Dish
Good clean fun. By the time we get to the moon landing, it's actually a pretty moving event. Good stuff. Nice to see a comedy without the conventions. ..Except for old-man bookends. Enough with old-man bookends, film people! It didn't even work in Private Ryan! 6/10
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06/06/02 - District B13
The founder of Parkour gets his own movie. Start with Ong Bak, chop it off at 80 minutes long, and shoot it with some slicker photography. It's a bite-size Ong Bak with Parkour stunts instead of elbows to the head. And there's also some elbows to the head. ...As a bonus, I learned an important lesson: exposing a politician as being tough on crime cures heroin addiction. 7/10
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09/08/16 - District 9
Pretty cool. One or two weird misteps, but it's hard not to forgive it for the overwhelming amount of bold moves it makes. It's so off-the-cuff, seat-of-the-pants, unpredictable. Demonstrates the value of originality. 8/10
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02/08/12 - Dogtown And Z-Boys
A good documentary about the birth of skateboarding as we know it today. Lots of great footage of the original guys who figured out skating in empty swimming pools, lots of groovy west-coast moves, tons of old-skool goodness. It was made by one of these groundbreaking skaters, so it's a bit one sided, and it sometimes feels a bit too much like a vanity project, but hey. It's interesting nonetheless to be taken back in time to the moment they invented vert. 6/10
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03/05/18 - Down With Love
A movie completely made out of style, energy, and double-entendres. It's a film reminiscent of the 60s that never were, more 60s than the 60s. And I'm a sucker for that style of inhumanly snappy dialogue. You could allege that the energy and candy coating are a smokescreen disguising the fact that the movie might not have much under the hood, that the plot is a little bit of a mess, that it's always at least a little tongue-in-cheek. But I enjoyed it so thoroughly that I have to insist that the style IS the substance, and that it just plain works as a narrative and as a comedy. But please don't call it a "romantic" comedy, it's way too sharp for that dull moniker. 8/10
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09/05/30 - Drag Me To Hell
It's almost Evil Dead 4. Alison Lohman doesn't really fill Bruce Campbell's shoes, but mostly because they don't give her a string of amazing manly one-liners. On the plus side, there's a handkerchief in this with more character than anyone in the latest Terminator. The hanky even has a fight scene, continuing the legacy that includes fights against a tree and the hero's own hand. This one also throws in a battle against a slice of cake. And Raimi's car, "The Classic" is properly featured. Basically, they had a lot of fun making it, and it's fun to watch. It's plenty of jumping in your seat and laughing, and being grossed out and laughing. 7/10
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01/05/12 - Driven
Drivel. 2/10
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00/10/20 - Drunken Master II
Jackie Chan's best film, from 1994, is now in North America. The story bits are long, but the action is some of the best fight sequences that will ever be filmed. The timing and motion and comedy make it so broad and fun, it becomes a human cartoon. Amazing physical gags, hilarious drunken-style moves, it's the epitome of spectacle cinema. Totally totally brillant. If you've only seen the North American Chan flicks, and aren't impressed, see this one; it's in a class by itself. 9/10
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01/01/09 - Dude, Where's My Car?
Quills tries to be serious and important and fails, which makes for miserable viewing. Dude aims so low it can't miss. If you're 15 years old, anyway. Can you fault a movie for that? Well, it made me sigh more than it made me laugh, so... Too bad the movie couldn't capture the brilliance of its trailers and title. 3/10
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07/09/14 - Eastern Promises
Not quite as arresting as A History Of Violence, but similar in tone etc. A couple standout scenes to make it all worthwhile, and otherwise just solid unshowy craftsmanship. Kind of like our hero. 6/10
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02/11/09 - 8 Mile
Yell yell yell, punch punch punch, rhyme rhyme rhyme, yell yell yell, punch punch punch, yell yell yell, punch punch punch, rhyme rhyme rhyme. (The rhyme parts are good, the rest doesn't add up to a whole lot.) Not a very GOOD movie, but a pretty COOL movie. 6/10
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03/10/03 - Elephant
"There's an elephant in the room and nobody is talking about it." When Columbine happened, it was used by all kinds of opposing political groups as support for their cause. "Nobody should have guns" "Everyone, especially teachers, should have guns". The blame was passed around to the fashionable targets, and the logic of the event was reduced to one-dimensional bullshit. "It's videogames" "It's bullying" "There's no prayer in schools" "They were probably gay" "Marilyn Manson". Gus Van Sant had a noble, if flawed, idea to reclaim the event from all the politicking and pay due respect to the people and the event. He wants you to live the day, and understand it from within, outside of any and all points of view that have been imposed on it. He wants you to know that there's no reductionist issue at hand, it's all issues and more. Nobody involved is completely innocent or guilty. None of the people involved should be reduced to one-dimensional symbols with singular motivations. But that's exactly the fatal flaw that most people will find with it. Since no character is allowed to be a tragic victim or someone who deserves it, no character is allowed to be a bad guy or hero--nobody is allowed to represent a specific point of view--you end up with a bunch of characters that have no character that means anything in the context of the film. Not to mention the film is paced to be incredibly slow, in order to eliminate any sense of building excitement. He needs it to be cold and dry to keep it from having a message, and to keep it from feeling remotely glamourous or entertaining. He wants to leave you on the outside to observe and have time with each moment to reflect on your own. But in doing so the movie can't absorb you, so it ends up feeling completely detached and largely unguided. Which is probably entirely accurate to how it felt to actually be there. Elephant was a noble experiment, and Gus Van Sant made exactly the movie he wanted to make, and very very well. But I can't tell you the experiment was a resounding success. Still, you have to give him credit; the movie would have been insulting if it was populated with villians, heroes, or tragic victims. In fact, I think the film would have been a disaster if he'd done anything at all differently. But as real as it feels, and as honestly as he treats the subject matter and the people involved, you still know that it's fiction, and so I didn't find it any more honest or affecting than Bowling For Columbine. But if nothing else, it's memorable. That's my rational for 7/10
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04/01/01 - Elf
The neat thing about Elf is how it takes place in the world of the classic Rankin/Bass stop-motion Christmas specials from the 60s. (Will Ferrel is dressed exactly like Hermey, the elf from Rudolph) It manages to stay consistent with those characters and art-direction, and goes so far as to be a movie that fits right in as an extention of that world, without ever getting ironic or making fun of it or tearing it down and destroying it (you know, like those wretched Dr. Suess movies?). If nothing else, Elf stands out as the only Christmas movie made in the last 20 years that is actually good. And it's funny. 6/10
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00/12/15 - The Emperor's New Groove
It's great to see Disney do an actual cartoon, something based on funny characters and animation gags. Refreshing change of pace from the constant "epics" and way more enjoyable for it. Consistently funny and totally entertaining. 7/10
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01/03/18 - Enemy At The Gates
A film as misguided as its title. It's a movie about a sniper, but with less sniping scenes than Private Ryan, and not as good sniping scenes at that. Plus it's less emotionally engaging than the Sniper Wolf bit of Metal Gear Solid. It's a good story told poorly, with a bunch of bad melodrama that derails the REAL drama; sniper versus sniper. 5/10
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00/03/24 - Erin Brockovich
Steven Soderbergh directed this film, which is the only reason I went to see it. But it was good. A girl would probably score this movie 1 point higher than I do. Still impossible to see Julia Roberts as her character and not just Julia Roberts. 7/10
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04/03/24 - Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Really just kind of great. People will go out of their way to declare this movie as "weird" or even "impenetrable", but if anything I think it's the most accessible movie that has been produced from a Kaufman script. Sure it's got an unorthodox structure, but it's done for a reason and it's not confusing. Maybe critics are just trying to protect people from seeing a film that's interesting and emotional and honest when they'd be more comfortable renting The Wedding Planner. If only more people had the guts to show real relationships on screen like this...to be honest about what's inside people's heads. Kaufman has proven to me that he's an expert of the art and the craft of writing. Not only does he entertain and enlighten with his ideas, he's a genius at structuring a movie that puts demands on the audience only where it helps the film. Master storyteller, and one who can invent great stories. Credit also to Gondry for being a genius with imagery. Gondry and Kaufman are a more exciting team than Jonze and Kaufman, though we should be so lucky that 10% of filmmakers could live up to either pairing. 10/10
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01/06/08 - Evolution
You've seen it all before. And much better. Still, the laughs outnumber the groans. Barely. 4/10
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04/07/03 - Fahrenheit 911
The Corporation was lazy left-wing moviemaking, researched only far enough to support the usual accusations but not far enough to prove anything or make a point. Bowling For Columbine was heartfelt; a story of Moore looking for answers, discovering things, and finding and facing some truth. Fahrenheit 911 is exactly half way between. I admire that Moore means well, but he doesn't reveal or prove anything. He doesn't call anybody out with proof or unanswerable questions, he just points at all the skeletons in the closets and the dug-up dirt, and goes "see? see?" without really having a point. Thankfully he keeps the grandstanding to a minimum, much less than I feared from the trailer. The real point of this movie isn't to steamroll Bush with a smear campaign, it's really just to be a counterpoint to what CNN has been spoonfeeding everyone for the last 3 years. This is a 2 hour collection of what people should have been seeing on the news. Moore is rightfully pissed at all the whitewashing and terrible spin-doctoring, and he wants to show you that all these assholes are full of shit and people like you are dying for it. I applaud his cause, but if his objective was to convince the right wing, or at least shake them in their beliefs, he could have done a much better job. This film won't have an impact on the election. 5/10
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00/01/19 - Fantasia 2000
Well, you know. Classical music. Half-way-to-art animation that half spoils the music, half keeps you interested. More accessable than the original, but far from a thrill ride. 6/10
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09/11/28 - Fantastic Mr. Fox
A pleasant surprise. I was expecting it to be clunkier, or hampered by Wes Anderson being too Wes Anderson... the previews seemed ugly, with overbearing voice work, shoddy animation... but it was slick, the acting and characters were great, great gags. Funny and fun. 8/10
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02/12/18 - Far From Heaven
It's a movie about the 50's, but the twist is that instead of being an ironic look back, or a historically accurate picture of the times, it's as if the movie itself was made in the 50's. I think it's an attempt at being the best movie from the 50's ever made. And technically it's very well executed. I understand it's even got all the studio-system symolism from the time and blah blah. But I'm not a student of the era, and when you get down to it, the leave-it-to-beaver feel on the characters and drama made me feel like none of the characters were real. I kept expecting the 50s facade to crack apart and the humanity to come out, but it was just a dry 50s melodrama, albeit one that would be have the edgiest content of the time, and be a very important movie in "its day". So though the execution was quite successful, it left me out in the cold. 6/10
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01/06/22 - The Fast And The Furious
First off, this is "bad" cinema. The dialogue and storyline are laughable, the characters are stock. But you know what? This is porno for car nerds. The dialogue doesn't matter, cause the real dialogue and character come from the cars. We're here to see the hoods come up, get a nice view of the intake system, listen to the engines growl and pop and hiss, and then watch them lay rubber neck and neck on their way down the street. And they made this movie RIGHT. Fuck you Renny Harland and Driven! Fuck you Gone In Sixty Seconds! Fuck you action movies without coherent action! This film even makes going in a straight line exciting and strategic! Let alone the street chases and hijacking scenes. Even the character development is earnestly done and well-shot. The best car porno ever. 8/10
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03/06/07 - 2 Fast 2 Furious
The first F&F was a total "B" picture, top to bottom. For the sequel, they've upgraded it to "A" status. The dialogue is intentionally funny instead of unintentionally. The story is paced well, without a big lull through the middle. Paul Walker even comes off as a decent actor, maybe because his character has some character this time, or maybe because he doesn't have to share the screen with Diesel. Overall, it's a slicker, more polished, more appealing movie. And it's got all the ingredients necessary to be a worthy sequel: a circuit race, an interesting relay race, even some highway action. So why did the entire film get completely outclassed by its predecessor? Because the car idea is stale? Because the story rejects the car culture setting in favour of lame cop nonsense? Nope, it's because they fucked up the whole point of any car movie. CAR STUNTS. Any car movie worth its salt knows that the appeal is you're doing real stunts with real cars and filming it. F&F may have done the CG thing with the first drag race, but it was okay because they were planting you into the subjective experience of Paul Walker on his first race. Afterward they kept everything real, made all the action make sense. And in the end they won the day with the semi scene and then the airborne Dodge. They didn't edit around any impossible nonsense. They didn't make the cars do anything that broke the reality. And the staging and editing was fluid. One shot leads to another, the viewer understands the physical logic of the race or action scene. But now John Singleton is in control, and he thinks that quick cutaways of cars swooshing by makes for excitement. He's sadly mistaken. Especially when the cars are CG, and especially when the cars start taking to the skies and landing without a scratch. It's a sad state of affairs when the sequel to The Fast And The Furious gets outdriven by The Dukes Of Hazzard. 4/10
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06/06/17 - The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift
Better than #2, but doesn't touch the chocolate and cheese perfection of #1. The dialogue is bad enough to be good again (though not "sandwich crazy" brilliant), and there's very little of the CG non-stunts as we deserve. Unfortunately, most of the stunt driving is shot too tight and cut up too fine to capture the exhiliration. And like #2, car sponsorship ruins things a bit as half the cars are 350Zs and nothing else very interesting really shows up...they forgot that the cars ARE the characters, not just background dressing. There isn't too much of Japan on the screen either as pretty much every character is a non-Japanese english speaker that's just as "not from Japan" as our hero. Not nearly as interesting as it could have been, but not bad. Adequate. 5/10
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09/04/03 - Fast And Furious
They forgot to put any car stunts in my car movie. It's got about 45 minutes too much of people talking about the plot, and it's got about 1 scene too few of driving. Props to Justin Lin though, he does it mostly right, it's shot well, there's some memorable touches, but he was working with a script that just wasn't there. The main entertainment I got out of it was by playing "worst cop ever"--in the first movie Paul Walker's character was pretty awful at his job, but in this one they take it to new hilarious heights. Almost every one of his scenes, you get at least one chance to whisper "worst cop ever" to the guy sitting beside you. 4/10
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06/11/16 - Fast Food Nation
The emphasis is on the Nation part of the title; it's not about fast food as much as it's about what fast food represents: a big broad shiny wrapper over something that's a load of crap. People don't bother to think, they just buy the wrapper. I didn't find it political in a "look how bad the industry is" kind of way, I found it more a statement of "let's all be honest with ourselves". The movie assumes we all know that fast food is unhealthy. We all know they add artificial scent. We even know that they kill cows to make hamburger, but do we really KNOW these things? Sure we understand the concept but do we think about the process? I really do think that if you're going to eat the meat, you have to be able to stomach the killing floor. Let's all be honest with ourselves.
...So I really admire the concept. The execution is hard to recommend. There are parts that are quite moving and parts that make interesting points and counterpoints... it has a little Traffic in it, but gives way to Linklater's weaknesses. There's the Before-Sunrise-style unnatural monologue-essays, but the key problem is too much invested in the day-to-day minutiae of illegal immigrants with seldom a point or observation made. If you like Linklater in general (like me) you can get past it for the good stuff, but if his talky flicks irritate you be warned. 7/10
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01/03/11 - 15 Minutes
John Herzfeld needs to stop directing his own scripts. He's too in love with every one of his words and characters and scenes, and he sucks at tone and pacing. A director with talent would have reinterpreted this into a movie worth something. 3/10
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01/07/13 - Final Fantasy
Wow, that's one shiny turd. ...Question: why do the commandos wear body armour? ...Answer: Because it *looks good*, even though it's pointless and stupid and shows how the filmmakers weren't thinking at all, just going with the genre cliches. But SO badly. What an enormous waste of effort. 3/10
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03/06/02 - Finding Nemo
Pixar always makes good movies. But I'm starting to see a trend. There's the top-tier Pixar films where they take a fundamental truth about life (toys are alive when you leave, monsters live in your closet) as a jumping off point for great characters with interesting motivations to interact in ways that create a plot that's natural, organic, exciting, and poignant. Then there's the second-tier films where they start with a world (bugs, fish) and there's a basic adventure plot that seems more in service of interesting visuals and set pieces than story. The focus seems to be more on technical and aesthetic development than on storytelling moments. Funny characters are added, but their interactions and growth seems more tacked-on for dramatic effect than born from within. I found Nemo to belong to this second category. It's not that the obstacles faced on the adventure aren't exciting or pretty, they just don't service the plot as elegantly as the top-tier stories, where the obstacles are born from the characters' choices and weaknesses. So yeah, I rank this one above A Bug's Life, but below the Toy Story and Monsters Inc tier. Still better than Shrek though. 7/10
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09/07/24 - (500) Days Of Summer
What it's really like to date a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Garden State, Elizabeth Town, etc can eat it. This is more honest, more like Annie Hall. There's a couple of really great sequences, and nothing horrible, though it does flirt with disingenuous moments. Better on the whole than Garden State, probably not as good as Juno, but occupies the same kind of vibe (you've been warned, people who get furious focusing on how a movie might be trying too hard to be hip). 7/10
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03/03/30 - Flower & Garnet
People like to think that with humans, specific inputs create specific results. You play videogames, you become violent. You are poor, you become a criminal. You have a crappy childhood, you become a crappy parent. These ideas don't give humans much credit. It may be overly optimistic, but some people like to think that people are smarter than that, that people can be aware of right and wrong, and strive for what's right, without being raised on specific value systems. People also don't give kids much credit for being thoughtful. Flower & Garnet are two kids with a piss-poor parenting situation. The film is one of those stark and realistic small-town dramas (The Pledge, In The Bedroom, The Sweet Hereafter...), and it's a good one. The thing I liked about it was the actions of the characters aren't summed up by simple movie logic of setup and payoff. These are real humans on the screen, and their actions make sense in an unspoken, true-to-life way. No easy answers, just the truth. The acting is really good, especially Garnet. Watch out Haley Joel. 7/10
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04/02/07 - The Fog Of War
This movie will make you smarter. 8/10
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08/04/24 - Forgetting Sarah Marshall
It's not quite Knocked Up or Superbad, but it's got legs. I was impressed. The key stuff is written from life and you can tell. It's painful and funny often at the same time. If you've ever broken up with someone or been broken up with, you'll probably relate, and laugh really hard at parts, and suck air through your teeth at others. 7/10
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05/09/05 - The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Had me...then lost me. It's admirable that they kept things on a higher brow most of the time, keeping our hero's dignity intact, and even busting out some 'gay' jokes in a not-unclassy way. But 2 Hours is a little long for a one joke premise, especially in the 3rd act that felt really first draft; they start throwing in incredibly awful coincidences explained away with expository dialogue (friends just show up INSIDE crazy girl's house?) and then the tedious extra misunderstandings when we're well past the point of "okay, get them together already". People seem to like it, but for me... par. Great tee-off, but an ugly 2-putt at the end. 5/10
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06/11/18 - For Your Consideration
Not quite as dry as A Mighty Wind, but still pretty dry. There's no denying the magical gems of dialogue in any of these movies. They're hard to rate because they all need repeat viewings to become loved and quoted, but something seemed not quite as good about this one...the humour is expectedly dry, but also very broad...maybe not a good combo? I've been trying to compare it to the other ones to figure out why I smiled through it but didn't totally buy in. Guffman had people that were aggressively bad at what they did in a funny way, where people here are bad at their jobs in a detached, pedestrian way that made it hard to laugh at? ...Or maybe the lousy filmmaking just hits too close to home for me. Like a dogshow nut that sees Best In Show and wonders what everyone is laughing at. Or a metal band watching Spinal Tap and getting knots in their stomachs. 5/10
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06/11/26 - The Fountain
Just a little movie about mankind's coming to terms with his own mortality from the beginnings of civilization across modern science and into the future. You could call it artsy-fartsy and pretentious and I wouldn't be able to argue, but if you're willing to buy into it it's worth your while. The parts that have their feet on the ground are downright moving. And beyond those parts it dares to overreach. That's a good thing. 7/10
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02/04/12 - Frailty
Good concept. Weak execution. I think the core problem is that in the wake of Sixth Sense, audiences are too keen on scoping out plot twists. Sixth Sense was good because it was compelling regardless of the "truth" of the plot. Frailty stumbles because it immediately presents two possible truths, black and white, and puts the question of which is real front and center for the whole film. There's no ambiguity or nuance beyond it. It's Bill Paxton's first try at directing (unless you count the music video "Fish Heads") and I think he stuck too close to the amateurish storytelling of the script. The structure of the film is kind of creaky, and there's too much voiceover. It could have been turned into something, but the whole project seems like a good idea that came off a bit lame. 4/10
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08/12/14 - Frost/Nixon
Kind of a "lite" version of The Insider. Very compelling. Though instead of being about personal integrity and The Greater Good like The Insider, it's about a couple of self-serving screwups...though one is on a much grander scale with a much greater intellect. It's a great matchup in unexpected ways. 8/10
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02/05/26 - FUBAR
Simple good fun, a breezy 80 minutes of bangers rockin and drinkin and generally givin'r, but with a story to give it some direction. This mockumentary pushes the Chris Guest envelope by being less overtly silly, more realistic, and trying new things like getting the documentary crew into the story, incorporating some real people who aren't in on the joke interacting with the characters, (blurring the lines between fiction and reality) and I'm pretty convinced that alot of the drunkenness was method acting. It may not be a great film, but it's very entertaining and you get a real sense of how much fun they had making it. You can tell it's guerilla filmmaking, and that energy is infectious. 6/10
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09/07/31 - Funny People
Two and a half hours of Judd Apatow doing his thing pretty well. You know, the rambling comedy/drama scattershot with decent characters. You can do a lot worse, just not sure it's one for the record books. 6/10
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00/01/17 - Galaxy Quest
Better than Phantom Menace. 6/10
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03/01/04 - Gangs Of New York
There's a blurry line between Big Sprawling Masterpiece and Big Sprawling Mess. This one crosses back and forth across that line, but ends up favouring the latter. I think the problem is over-editing; it feels like there's been too many cooks and too many second-guesses, and instead of concentrating on a core, it tries to hit every single little beat (revenge, love story, father-son, historical info, racial politics, government politics, character politics...it can't make up its mind!) and by doing so fails to hit anything properly. One reason to see it is the character performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. Other than that, it's pretty lukewarm. 6/10
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04/08/16 - Garden State
Another one of those off-beat actor's movies with the usual vibe of being kind of unfocused and comprised of good individual moments that don't fit together very well... except this time the overall tone and quirkiness and attitude of it really pulls it together. And I like how it captured the feeling of a new relationship properly, ignoring the contrived empty "drama" and cliche of so-called romantic movies. Mostly. Maybe it didn't capture a sense of yearning so much as just let Natalie Portman be so cute that I could hardly stand it. 7/10
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00/04/13 - Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai
Hey, a modern hitman living by the philosophy of medieval Japan. Sounded like a cool premise. Fairly interesting throughout, but nothing particularily stunning. Some great characters. 7/10
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01/08/25 - Ghost World
After graduating High School, most people assimilate into the "real world" and start living the way they're supposed to, instead of the idealized and naive high school way. Enid refuses to compromise and soon finds herself amongst society's ghosts, people who are there, but aren't really "living". Which way of life is better? Well, one of them is certainly lonelier. One of those poignant films; often hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking but mostly just really really intelligent. 8/10
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01/01/21 - The Gift
Slow, but at times very scaaary. Plus Katie Holmes' boobies. I mostly liked it, but I wouldn't want to see it a second time. 6/10
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09/06/14 - The Girlfriend Experience
Soderberg tries to out-do Gus Van Sant's series of 'boring' movies? I'm not sure what this movie is about, it's mostly various people being a bit stressed about the economy, and/or maintaining or struggling with their business. I suppose it's vaguely about how nobody really separates their personal lives from their work. But it doesn't say anything about it, just shows it. Soderberg's least interesting movie? Which is still nice to watch because he's an excellent craftsman? 4/10
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00/05/05 - Gladiator
Spectacle: quite good. Story: fine. 8/10
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00/08/22 - Godzilla 2000
There's an hour of boring setup, but then the film redeems itself when the rubber-suit guys finally go at it. In the end, the film teaches us that in the battle between good and evil the loser is always Tokyo. 4/10
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00/06/09 - Gone In Sixty Seconds
None of the good bits of MI2, but none of the bad bits either. I like cars. That's the only reason I enjoyed this film at all. 4/10
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05/11/11 - Good Night, And Good Luck.
If nothing else, it's a bit of a history lesson. But it's definitely no The Insider. It's way too straightforward, too dry, too cold, and a little too smug. 5/10
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02/01/13 - Gosford Park
If you're looking for a complex but smoothly executed interwoven character study and class system satire, with an early 20th century Britain setting and a classy bit of "the butler did it" whodunnit thrown in, and plenty of comedy and good acting from a great cast and smooth pacing and skillful technical execution, you can't do any better than this. If only that were the kind of movie I'm generally looking for myself. But it's completely entertaining. 7/10
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09/02/11 - Gran Torino
Eastwood does it again, just when everything is shaping up really well and I care about everyone, something horrible happens and I'm like "I want my movie back! Why are you doing this to me?" This movie really shows that a story that's pretty by-the-books becomes magic when executed well. It's really funny too. 9/10
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99/12/ - The Green Mile
The first third is boring. The second third sets up a brilliant situation. Life and death right there, death row, a giver of life, the perfect setup for exploring the notions of life and death, of man's relationship to it. He is often in control of the science of death, yet at a loss spiritually to understand it. In the last third it quickly becomes evident that the filmmakers had nothing to actually say, and the film proceeds to throw everything away as it degenerates into a shitty Steven King story. And it's long. Don't believe the we-feel-sorry-for-Shawshank buzz, this is not a great film. In fact, the more I think about it, the less I think it was even a good film. 4/10
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00/11/18 - How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Do you like Jim Carrey? That's the question, because this isn't The Grinch, this is Jim Carrey's sarcastic fast-talking other-movie-referencing Grinch. It felt to me like Carrey was less performing the story than making fun of it. The art direction didn't help, ending up nightmarish instead of pleasant and cute, which threw a dark tone on everything. ..So, it's basically a Carrey character film, which is good and bad. The story gets lost, but it also means that it has some really, really funny moments in it too, mostly due to Carrey's amazing physical acting. But I have to say that Carrey's performance wore on me. The Grinch just wouldn't shut up. And in the end, I didn't believe the Grinch had changed at all; he was still a sarcastic idiot. 4/10
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07/04/13 - Grindhouse
Right up my alley: a silly/gory zombie-and-guns movie followed by a cars and girls movie. Robert Rodriguez should only ever make B movies, it's totally his medium. But Tarantino needs to find a better way to write dialogue than doing a pile of coke and just writing stream of consciousness monologues in his own voice. But he redeems himself with a car chase sequence that's one for the books. I think I want to be a stunt driver. 8/10
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00/05/28 - Hamlet
I don't know how to rate this flick. Hamlet fans would find it clever. Otherwise it's kinda slow and oddly paced, but really stylish. 7/10
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09/06/13 - The Hangover
It's a pretty good comedy, no complaints. It's somehow not derivative while simultaneously not being very inventive. In other words it was original, but also kinda half-assed? But mostly funny. 6/10
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08/06/23 - The Happening
I can't figure out why everyone was directed to act like they'd just suffered a concussion and were reading words off a page that they'd never seen before, making sure not to put any emotion into it. You're better off watching Frozen Grand Central on youtube (or vimeo), it's way more impressive and spooky in only 2 minutes. 4/10
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01/11/18 - Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone
Long. Not so much for the time, but because the movie is really episodic and scattered. Every scene is supposed to feel like the big important bit, but none of it really feels connected together. I haven't read the book. And watching this film doesn't make me want to. Or rather, it DOES make me want to, because the book has got to be more interesting and entertaining than this film that mostly just feels flat. I'm sure the movie's a lot better when you've read the book, since you'd be familiar with Harry Potter the character, know what's going on in his mind, because the film sure doesn't illustrate him as much of anything. He just kind of stands around looking sad for the vast majority of it. Flat. Flat is the best way to describe pretty much any aspect of the film. Except maybe "dark". As in the lighting. There's maybe 3 scenes that don't take place in rimlit blue and black shadowy dust cellars. Well actually, sometimes the shadowy dust places are orange. Anyway, it all just contributes to an overwhelming sense of flat. The film would actually have been quite good if it weren't for the flat-handed direction of Chris Columbus, who refused to punch any scene above any other scene. It's not a bad film, it's just... flat. 5/10
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04/06/05 - Harry Potter: Prisoner Of Azkaban
The first 2 movies were lame, Chris Columbus sucks. But the director of Y Tu Mama steps in and handles this one artfully. I really liked it. I haven't read the books, so I assumed the minor plot holes had an answer. It's cool to see teenagers get a little angsty and spiteful when they have magical powers, and it's great to see things get a little creepy and serious. Finally some drama, some character, and finally a movie that makes the Harry Potter world feel like somewhere you'd want to go. This time they remembered to put the magic in. 8/10
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05/12/20 - Harry Potter: Goblet Of Fire
More really good stuff. It's a close call, but I think I still like the 3rd one better, it had more a sense of adventure and wonder. I'm not sure I dig the peril, adventure, or plausability presented by some weird planned sporting event with ill-defined rules, it's just more contrived than when the characters cause their own adventures. Luckily it's not much of an issue because the characters and their development carries the movie no problem. It's completely entertaining and engrossing top to bottom. 7/10
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09/07/18 - Harry Potter: Half Blood Prince
Is fine, perfectly entertaining. But something nags at me. Is it the writing or the directing that's undermining the drama? Why was Prisoner Of Azkaban so much better? Is it because Rowling can't actually create a sense of jeopardy, just have people keep talking about it instead? It is because this director isn't choosing to make any scene more or less serious than any other? Is it because the script tries to make characters exactly as concerned about the fact that someone is actively trying to murder them as they are about who they might take to some throwaway dance? Is it because I still don't understand the abilities or limits of the spells, or even what spells they know, and thus there's no drama or logic or "that was a clever move!"? (Even bad James Bond movies know how to use Q's gadgets) I'm starting to get the impression that the author is about as good at orchestrating an epic tale as she is at designing sports--both are full of random deus ex machina. The more the story focuses on the stakes, the less compelling it gets. This 7 artifacts thing? Geez, Zelda was better written. 6/10
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01/08/16 - Hedwig And The Angry Inch
If you liked Moulin Rouge... well, Hedwig isn't really "better", just "different". But also better. Instead of boisterous and hollow, it's deep and poignant. (But still loud and stylish and hilarious) Instead of 80s covers, it's original glam-punk music. (and good - Bowie would be proud if he had come up with this as a concept albumn) Instead of cartoon characters and themes, it's real and human and thoughtful. 9/10
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04/04/11 - Hellboy
Listening to people talk, I think this one is more enjoyable to viewers who don't know the comic than fans like me. I think it's because the main characters are rad, but the fans are already familiar with the characters, so then we're left to pay attention to the story, which is terrible. Del Toro sucks at story. And the characters they added aren't worth it. But at least they stayed true to the character, and I give them major respect for getting this movie made for that money under the studio system. Still, somebody teach this guy to tell a story. Give the audience some way to measure at least ONE character's progress toward or away from a goal. 5/10
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00/03/31 - High Fidelity
I quite enjoyed this agressively-styled flick that explores relationships in the world of a guy who's such a pop-culture by-product he can't seem to get past the TV image of what a relationship is supposed to be. Music and Love, interwoven and commenting on eachother. Real characters, great performances. Sharp. Funny. ...Watching it again, I've grown to really love this film for its pace, its comedy, and above all its true honesty about relationships and the male mind. 9/10
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05/04/29 - The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
The front of this version of the guide should say in large friendly letters "Don't Bother". Douglas Adams deserves skillful storytelling, not this half-baked amateur best-try. Its heart is in the right place, but it ultimately fails at capturing anything but fleeting moments of proper Hitchikerness. 3/10
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05/09/28 - A History Of Violence
It's good to know before you see this movie that the title refers not so much to the main character's past as it does to the entire human history of violence, ever since the day that first monkey bashed that other monkey with a bone and then threw it into the sky and they jump-cut to a space station. It's in our DNA: we're evolved from the cavemen that were better at kicking ass than the weakling cavemen. But while people whine about the violence and the culture and the kids these days, we've actually become way LESS violent than the 'good' old days. We actually think it's nice to let the weak people have a fair shot. Nobody likes a bully. But man, that bully? Wouldn't it be great to bust that guy's face?! Especially if it had to be done to protect our young which would impress the chicks and raaaaaar caveman! And so we go watch violent movies and pretend. Cronenberg is cool because he lets us look at the aftermath of the violence a little bit too long to let us wonder if it's really that exciting and cool after all. But besides that subtle theme, the movie is a pretty entertaining noir, what with the violence and nudity and swearing (and a couple really neat performances and cool characters). It's a tight simple little story, but Cronenberg tells it slowly and deliberately to let it sink in, and it's got a cool theme kicking around in the background for me to think about afterward. 7/10
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07/04/01 - The Host
Like a Godzilla movie, in a good way. On one hand it's kinda silly and good, and on the other hand it's got a really cool creature sequence. Wears out its welcome a bit as it goes on. 4/10
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07/04/21 - Hot Fuzz
And you thought Shaun Of The Dead had inappropriately graphic violence. Chock full of good gags, but the inconsistent tone really threw me...I lost interest in where it was going. (Buddies? Mystery? Comedic action? Serious action? Horror? All of the above.) Seems like a bit of a step backwards from Shaun. 5/10
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07/08/10 - Hot Rod
You know how all those dumb-fun comedies have the plot where the hero has to raise some round number of money (orphanage, house, operation) so he's forced to enter some thing he can't hope to win but we root for him? This movie has the best reason to raise the money ever. (The hero needs to pay for an operation for his ailing dad so he can face the old man in a fair fight and beat the living shit out of him). Also it has a world-class "falling down a hill" scene. 6/10
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03/02/08 - The Hours
I didn't get a lot out of this movie. And while the performances were all good (I especially liked Nicole Kidman), there comes a point where scene after scene of crying on cue just gets tiresome. I haven't read Mrs Dalloway, and I'm not very familiar with Viginia Woolf. If I was, or was a girl, I'm sure I would have gotten more out of it, but without, it just seemed like a mopey trudging movie that was lucky to have good acting to keep it afloat. 5/10
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05/01/01 - House Of Flying Daggers
It shows a potential at first that isn't realised. There's a few scenes that make it seem like it's really going somewhere, but eventually it just sort of drags on and on, and then it goes so far as to just repeat the same 3 scenes over and over. Okay, enough with the tearing at eachother clothes! And how many times can the same character die? By the end it's revealed itself to be just some kind of dumbass Harlequin romance with not-very-interesting Kung Fu. 4/10
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05/05/30 - Howl's Moving Castle
I'll save true judgement for a version with subtitles (especially after seeing how the fucking godawful american dub of Porco Rosso raped the entire film), but regardless of the words Miyazaki fumbled this one. I've read the (great) book this is based on, but the funny thing is that while it has a lot in common with Kiki's, Miyazaki chose instead to remove all the magic stuff and replace it with ripoffs of all his other films. So we get some kind of Nausicaa/Laputa/Spirited Away story, but with the strong lead character of the book hobbled by all the extra added noise. He even added war scenes to a story without one...is he trying to comment on his favourite themes, or is he just too in love with drawing airships and black gooey guys? I've got nothing against changing the source material--in fact I started to get excited half way through about the interesting direction he was taking the characters and story--but then the film derails itself into a thematic mess with no dramatic thread. It's fine to not have time to include some of the best (and most important) scenes in the book, but to then spend 30 minutes on a brand new subplot that eventually doesn't have anything to do with anything... sorry, but it's been sharply downhill since Mononoke. 4/10
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03/06/21 - Hulk
What a big hulking mess. I've heard of people criticizing the acting, but I think they're really misplacing criticism of the script. Of course the characters are going to seem like suck when they have no motives, no goals, and no obstacles to those nonexistent goals. If it wasn't for the great actors putting in their best effort, the thin fart of a plot would collapse on itself. This movie had such high aspirations, but it failed on every level except for the technical ones. The CG was actually way better in context than the commercials make it look. The multi-panel editing thing was good, but only because it was the only interesting thing about the first hour, the only thing keeping me awake. I wouldn't mind the long wait before the big green guy shows up if it actually had any connection to the rest of the movie whatsoever. When things finally get going, Hulk smashes some giant poodles, and then later he fights an electric cloud underwater. Good job, writers. Idiots. And nothing Hulk does has any effect on Bruce Banner. Bruce has no struggle, no coming to terms with the beast. Nobody learns anything! The movie is about nothing! What a colossal missed opportunity. The worst thing is they tried to do all the stuff that they were supposed to try to do, but they missed every target by a mile. It has its moments, but only when Hulk smashes. I found it just barely held my attention as it moved along. But my lack of getting absorbed by the fiction might have something to do with the row of 11-year-olds behind me making snoring noises and talking through the whole thing. 5/10
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00/02/02 - The Hurricane
Watch Do The Right Thing and The Shawshank Redemption and you'll have seen 10 times the movie this is.  Unfortunate, as the real life story is amazing. 6/10
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09/07/06 - The Hurt Locker
It's not Saving Private Ryan, but it's up there. It easily beats the also-rans like Jarhead and The Kingdom, it's almost like a distilled and purified version of Generation Kill. It really captures a feeling of being on the ground when you can't tell the civilians from the people trying to kill you, and avoids a single "the red wire or the blue wire?" bullshit bomb-defusing scene. It puts you in the thick of it and plays it honestly. 8/10
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07/12/29 - I Am Legend
It's half a pretty good movie. The scary bits are properly scary, though the CG things look kinda stupid and stretchy instead of good like dudes in makeup in every zombie movie ever for way cheaper. Read the book, it's great. And it's short: barely longer than the movie. Neither spoils the other, in fact knowing one will make the other better because of the completely opposite plot twists. For example the book maintains consistency and logic, has dramatic twists that make sense, and is really good all the way to the end. 5/10
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04/10/16 - I Heart Huckabees
The trailer made me want to see this so bad, but it didn't live up. O. Russel promises enlightening philosophy but provides mostly confused, banal ideas. But that's just in the overall big picture. The movie is made of details and moments that are mostly pretty great. Mark Wahlberg is awesome as an overly aggro, overanalitical nihilist. He has suprising chemistry with Schwartzman. The movie's energy keeps it afloat. There's a good serving of really fun stuff, but when you get down to it, it nagged on me the whole time that I was watching a movie made of fragments that don't add together properly, no matter how many on-the-nose voiceovers they add to the trying-too-hard dream imagery. Sorry O. Russel, but the magic feeling doesn't happen, next time don't try to force it. 5/10
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09/03/22 - I Love You, Man
Turns out a movie can be likeable, but not any good. 4/10
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02/03/17 - Ice Age
Technicals: Really impressive. The animation is way better than Shrek, easily on par with Pixar. I was also impressed by the quality of the rendering. It just looked softer and warmer and more like clay than polygons. And the overall visual direction was a nice break. The models had a cartoon style and shape. Artistic: It's a good film. Mostly funny jokes, great characters. A little more kid-skewed than Pixar/Shrek, but I didn't mind at all. The character motivations are pretty vague and inconsistent, which keeps the story from really paying off. If we want to play the competition game, it's as good as the over-rated Shrek, better than A Bug's Life, but not quite Monster's Inc. 7/10
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03/12/29 - In America
Jim Sheridan directed The Boxer, which I really like. This is his latest, inspired and based on his own family, and while the movie doesn't really stand out in any immediate or easily described way, there's something so personal and honest and real about it... it just snuck up on me in a quiet subtle way, and despite any technical nitpicking one could try to apply, the simple fact is the emotion and humanity of it just totally knocked me on my ass. 8/10
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05/01/29 - In Good Company
When The Insider came out, nobody really saw it because it didn't have a hook. The content of the movie couldn't be summed up in a few images or catchphrases, so despite hearing good things, nobody got around to seeing it. In Good Company is going to suffer the same fate. In and out of theatres and nobody notices and meanwhile it's a better movie and better acting than most of our Oscar nominees. I can't sum it up other than to say that for once someone has written a group of characters that are interesting and complex and interact in meaningful ways that are dramatic and funny and it all flows together into this great little movie that doesn't try too hard but subtly nails things perfectly and says something new without overstating itself. The characters are well written but all the actors really bring them to life beautifully. Everyone does a fantastic job. ...Still, it has its flaws, it's not one of those great films, but damned if it's not the best thing playing in the last three months (and probably the next three too) 8/10
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02/01/27 - In The Bedroom
A movie that just kind of simmers. The tension cranks up and up and it feels like everything is going to to explode any second, and it sustains that feeling. Kind of harrowing to watch. Fantastic acting, it's really great to see this kind of depth and texture and subtlety. And the film itself always seems hyper-realistic. Overall, I think it's a lot like The Pledge, only done better, or maybe like The Sweet Hereafter, but without the hard questions and complexity. Really engaging and real. 7/10
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08/06/21 - The Incredible Hulk
Hulk smash good this time. 6/10
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04/11/05 - The Incredibles
Brad Bird finally wins. This one is more of a grown-up drama than the usual Pixar movie, but no less entertaining. It fits right in with the upper echelon of Pixar films. Great entertainment, not a bad scene in the lot. Not an abundance of absolutely brilliant original scenes and ideas, so I give it a "meagre" 8/10
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08/05/26 - Indiana Jones 4
I feared the worst, so this was a pleasant surprise in most places, though it totally lived up to the fear in other places. It's more like people goofing around and calling it an Indy movie than an actual worthy Indy movie. That impression might strictly be because of all the CG non-stunts (and ending). The practical stuff is good. 5/10
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09/09/20 - The Informant!
Amazing, hilarious, stylish. So absurd it could only be true. It's like The Insider but with the whistleblower having the opposite of integrity. There's something hilarious about people at their wits' end trying to make sense out of an escalating gong show. 8/10
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09/08/27 - Inglourious Basterds
I really enjoyed this. Just when it got easy to hate or be bored of Tarantino, he makes this and re-proves he wasn't just a flash in the pan. It's got enough of his bad habits in it to fuel anyone who doesn't want to like it, but I thought it was, on the whole, pretty great. Definitely worthwhile. The main German character alone is worth the price of admission. 8/10
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06/03/25 - Inside Man
Solid little bank robbery movie. The good bits are in the Spike Lee character scenes, but figuring out what the robbery strategy is keeps the movie going. It's no Dog Day Afternoon, but it's willing to have a character make reference to it. Expertly crafted, other than it drags on a little long in a couple places where you're wondering not so much where it's going but why you should care. 7/10
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The Insider
Damn, Michael Mann knows how to make films. He takes this story I thought would be boring and digs an epic, sprawling story about integrity out of it. Brilliant acting, photography, music, storytelling. 10/10
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02/06/10 - Insomnia
I find thrillers kinda lame generally. There's just too much "why is he doing that?" and "if he would just..." which adds up to a general feeling of plot manipulation. Insomnia is more intelligent--which is good--but even more interesting is when the movie ignores the typical serial killer mystery stuff and starts to focus on the real hooks: the sleep deprivation 24 hour sun thing, and especially the moral ambiguity angles. The line separating good and evil gets really blurry, and that's what makes this film interesting. Unfortunately, the sleepless bright nights aren't handled in an interesting way, and the movie backs away from the cool moral angles and concentrates on the straight up hollywood "thriller" aspect. I hear the original Insomnia is more the film I would be looking for. This one's still pretty solid though. 7/10
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07/11/03 - Into The Wild
On one hand you have this symbol of the absolute extreme of going it alone, to live on the fringes and by the law of nature. On the other hand, a shred of common sense points out this guy is bloody-minded with no perspective and a death wish. If he had a map, if had boots, if he knew what he was doing...but any of that would have destroyed the point. He shouldn't be idolized, but he should be appreciated for showing us how far one can go. It's a great story, and it happened. And the places he finds, all the communities that are out there on the fringes, well they should make any viewer ashamed for continuing to live in one place, knowing only of conventional existence, owning more than you can carry... How many of us live as much in our whole lives as this guy did during those 2 years? 8/10
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03/10/22 - Intolerable Cruelty
So it's a Coen Brother's movie, but the first one they directed but didn't write. And it kind of feels that way; Coen-esque, but not quite Coen. I guess it was just the lack of dream sequences and howling fat men... Anyway, it's a fun ride. It's another nice throwback to really sharp, quick dialogue, it's really funny, you know the whole deal. It's basically like Down With Love, but I didn't like it quite as much because it wasn't as purely stylish, and its cynical core betrayed its occassionaly romantic intentions. Though I'm all for cynicism. If only it had the guts to take it further. But hey, it's supposed to be a classic romantic-comedy farce, so what do you expect? 6/10
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09/10/04 - The Invention Of Lying
It wants to be like Groundhog Day, but there's some big problems. The female character isn't an interesting person, she's one dimensional...and it's partly because of the larger problem; the unclear nature of the movie's world. The way they treated the 'truth telling' makes everyone seem kind of stupid, instead of earnest and honest. I would expect everyone to tell the truth when asked, and take everything at face value when told, but instead they wrote half an hour of jokes about people bluntly (and cruelly, innappropriately, unsolicited) speaking what's on their mind to strangers. These characters aren't likeably naive, everyone just acts like defeated jerks with concussions. It could have been so much more. The movie takes a turn towards genius with an extended sequence that almost makes up for everything else; the invention of religion. A great half hour, but the rest was undercooked. 4/10
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08/05/03 - Iron Man
With superheroes, guys wish they were Spider-Man or Superman etc, but I don't want to be Iron Man at all. I want to be Tony Stark. The alter-ego is way more fun. Rich, famous, charismatic, and with the greatest workshop ever. Just build whatever I feel like whenever I want. The last thing I'd build is a robot suit to fight crime. 7/10
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01/10/28 - Iron Monkey
The Kung Fu is sped up faster than I've ever seen before, which is bad. It has more leap-of-logic editing to string the moves together than I've ever seen, which is bad. While it has a bit of solidly impressive stuff and a few really good scenes, it mostly relies on really over-the-top-to-the-point-of-silly wire fighting. Which is actually pretty entertaining, if you don't mind the unfeasible side of kung fu films. They were smart not to bog the movie down with boring exposition bits, so the film cruises along fine. But I can only recommend it if you're really in the mood for some silly kung fu. 4/10
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09/10/25 - It Might Get Loud
Fairly interesting. Nice to see what U2 looked and sounded like in high school, and to see the house and room where Led Zeppelin got that drum sound in When The Levee Breaks. That's about as exciting as it gets, though. 5/10
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05/06/19 - It's All Gone Pete Tong
Contrary to the advertising, it's not a mockumentary (it's shot subjectively, and well), and it's not even really a comedy. I was kind of expecting/hoping for an indictment of the whole superstar DJ/long-past-the-sell-by rave culture, but instead it's really a character drama with some laughs and moments of overt silliness, but with a serious theme by the end. Block out the noise and learn how to feel. 7/10
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03/06/15 - The Italian Job
A totally adequate heist movie. With real stuntwork thank god. Good solid fun, no surprises. But could they maybe photograph Charlize Theron in a way that doesn't make her look like the most beautiful woman in the history of time? Cause it's killing me, seriously. 6/10
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05/11/19 - Jarhead
Some really great memorable imagery. And a lot of interesting, funny, tragic (often all at the same time) bits that show what it was really like to be there, as writen by someone who was. This is what the military is really like these days, just as we all suspected, but somehow way more real for all the details. 7/10
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01/08/30 - Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back
One dumb fucking movie. With a few good laughs. 3/10
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01/04/19 - Josie And The Pussycats
Actually pretty clever and funny. Pretty effectively satirizes the pop culture money machine. The universe they create of billboards and ads everywhere (even underwater in the Beluga pool) is just brilliant. 5/10
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08/02/19 - Jumper
A whole movie about Nightcrawler...two Nightcrawlers even, and yet there's no action scene as good as X-Men 2's opening. There's nothing bad though, it gets by. 4/10
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07/12/28 - Juno
I liked it. Some people want to whine about it trying too hard or being too cool or too "typically indie" or the music or whatever...these people need to get over themselves. I do know that there are characters here that are better drawn in 2 short scenes than the main characters of popular trilogies. 8/10
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01/07/28 - Jurassic Park 3
Solid summer fare. 6/10
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00/04/08 - Keeping The Faith
I dig Eddie Norton's work, and this is his directorial debut, so I went to see the advance screening. He turns in a competent showing on a by-the-books romantic comedy with some minor religious undertones. Largely forgettable, but entertaining. 6/10
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01/02/08 - Kikujiro
A string of episodes, mostly comic but some poignant, about a belligerent ex-gangster taking a lonely kid on a road trip. The pace is slow and relaxed, feeling like the long summer vacation from school that the film is about. Which is good and bad. A lot of the movie works really well; some of the funniest cuts I've ever seen and a nice theme of the gangster being a grown-up version of the kid, only not really grown-up at all. But a bunch of the movie doesn't quite work, with some overly-long and disconnected episodes derailing the already fragile flow. 6/10
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03/10/11 - Kill Bill: vol 1
It seems weird to me to give Tarantino any props for indulging his ego any further, especially with a movie that's really so thin at the core (Ebert says "all storytelling and no story"), but holy. Fucking. Shit. I really think he nailed something here. This is a movie for movie lovers, NOT "film", but movies. A movie he made for himself. And for people like him; anyone who digs old spagetti westerns, 50s samurai films (these two already have a lot in common), old kung fu epics (From Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan), 70s blacksploitation, girls kicking ass (the true action staple since "Come Drink With Me"), and for some reason, it really struck me as seeming like Japanese anime (it was probably all the hyper-stylized characters and over-the-top spraying blood [it goes head-to-head with Dead Alive at times-they even go black-and-white for a bit so the R-rated audience can stomach it]). Tarantino has really actually succeeded in distilling down all that B-movie history, adding his own unique perspective, and creating something new and beautiful. In a way, I think he may have made the hardest, boldest, baddest, most balls-to-the-wall pull-out-all-the-stops kick-ass, PUREST action movie ever. Not to raise your expectations or anything. I even kind of liked the fact that it ended when it did with a "to be continued". A movie so huge and hard-hitting needs an intermission at that point. It's just too bad the intermission is 4 months long. Until the second half lands, and it can prove to be one of my few favorite films ever, I'm holding it at 9/10.
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04/04/18 - Kill Bill vol 2
You can't pay off viscerally better than the last half of vol 1, so Tarantino switches it up for the second half. It would make sense all in a line, but on its own this one feels like too much talk and not enough action. I was excited about the purity of the first one, but this one seems to reverse decisions, give unnamed people their name, ruin the orderly checklist, stuff like that. I suppose it makes for a nice changeup or something, but I couldn't help feeling burned. There were whole scenes that felt extraneous, what happened to the economy we saw in the beginning? Overall good stuff, but it's a little deflated, a little flabby, in comparison to where it felt like it was going. 8/10
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05/12/14 - King Kong
Lord of the Rings just kept ending and ending and ending for an hour too long. This one keeps on middling and middling and middling for an hour too long. How many different giant animals do we need to see nameless people run away from and swing swords at and get killed by? Action can be so boring when it's all fake. Around the redundant and slow stuff is some really good bits though. I just wish Peter Jackson would start getting his stuff done on time so he could actually watch his whole movie before the premiere. (and then fix the pacing) I really hope that's the problem, because I fear it's really that he's just fallen in love with the "12 hour movie" feeling. King Kong just doesn't have the plot for it. It's just a little awkward that with all the junk they added, by the end, when they say that "great" last line, it's totally untrue. 5/10
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07/12/18 - The King Of Kong
You couldn't write a better villain. The injustice is palpable! It's kind of lame when people show up to this movie with the intention of laughing at the people on screen for being losers, but I think half way through the movie had converted even those hipsters into the drama of it, rooting for the little guy against the dark forces. Afterwards I looked up my pinball machine on Twin Galaxies, looks like I could place in the worldwide top 10 no problem. 6/10
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01/07/08 - Kiss Of The Dragon
Top notch action scenes. B-level plot. But it's a Kung Fu movie, so... Thank god it was directed by someone who knows how to do action scenes, instead of the usual hollywood music-video poseur. Too bad the dialogue drags it down, and the weak story makes the action have little weight. Par. 5/10
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07/06/03 - Knocked Up
This is so good I'm compelled to buy Freaks And Geeks. Definitely better than 40-year-old Virgin. It wanders, but in a good way. It's so nice to see something that ignores maximum-economy story structure, lets itself switch between comedy and serious, lets characters be real people, and just works end-to-end in a way that feels effortless. 9/10
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05/04/24 - Kung Fu Hustle
It doesn't quite have the heart of Shaolin Soccer, but it makes up for it in style and energy and characters and creativity. Over-the-top comedy-cool Kung Fu isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you think the trailer looks good, I can promise you the movie completely follows through on it and more. 8/10
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05/06/27 - Land Of The Dead
Zombie movies aren't about zombies, they're about the humans put in the situation (and asking "what would *I* do?"). It's the same idea as a natural disaster movie, except the victims become part of the natural disaster, and the affliction is extra freaky because it's not too far removed from true human behaviour (take a trip down Hastings if you disagree). So Romero does a neat thing by concentrating on that "still human" aspect of the zombies, pointing out that they're not that far off from what they used to be and doesn't that deserve a little empathy? Meanwhile he can use the living-vs-zombie situation for some underlying social commentary, not only by drawing parallels to real-life situations these days, but also "what would humans really do in a world of zombies?". The problem is that with all this interesting setting, the top thing is kinda missing: the humans put in the situation aren't terribly interesting. They've got the stock characters, but they're just a few commandos who we don't relate much to, plus a bunch of faceless rich people who get eaten. Sure there's plenty of violence, but if you're looking for creative zombie gore the conversation begins and ends with Pete Jackson's Dead Alive (aka Braindead). 5/10
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05/08/16 - Last Days
I can't recommend it to everyone strictly on the fact that half the audience walked out. But if you've got patience and you don't need to be spoon-fed a plot--and more importantly you know anything about Kurt Cobain--then you might find this interesting and rewarding. You can accuse it of being boring, but I found it more entertaining than Broken Flowers. The trick is that your appreciation for it is directly related to what you're willing to invest in it. Here's the thing; if someone were to 'dramatize' Kurt's life story, it would be some bullshit rock and roll biopic that felt like the trailer for Lords Of Dogtown. Even to 'dramatize' just the last days of his life, it would be some kind of moralized tragedy about heroin addiction and depression or something. Gus Van Sant gives the subject matter infinitely more respect by skipping over these "dramatic" parts, not trying to explain the contributers to his state of mind, and just meditating on the real guy in that state of mind; living the moments in between the fame, the drugs, and the media coverage. Even the set--the stately mansion on the hill with a shabby and peeling interior--is central to the feeling of the true details under the packaged-for-the-public surface. The events are fictionalized, but to be more true to the real story by properly illustrating it: this isn't a rock and roll suicide icon, just a real guy so depressed and alienated--alienated even by his own construction--that he slowly collapses into a private oblivion...not out with a bang, not a fade away, just a moment one random night that went completely unnoticed. Gus wisely skips over those 'key moments' and concentrates on the moments before and after: going so far as to steal the imagery back from the paparazzi and newspapers and giving it due dignity and sadness. I think Kurt would have really appreciated it. 7/10
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03/12/14 - The Last Samurai
A good battle epic, etc, etc. Paints the Americans as bastards, kind of. Lots of war, though it's hard to live up to Lord Of The Rings when it comes to large-scale melee. They do pretty well nonetheless. I've heard people say Cruise doesn't carry the small scenes very well, but I disagree, I found it very human. His supporting actors are even better. The script however was a little too cold and calculated, making our characters feel not so much victims of their own desires and traits but victims of the needs of the plot (and its too-formula-fitting structure). That's how I felt, anyway. Good stuff and everything, but it seemed kind of detached. Attempting to make up for heart and realism by just being kinetic. 6/10
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01/07/30 - Legally Blonde
Entertaining pink fluff. Reese saves it. 6/10
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05/01/16 - The Life Aquatic
I dug it, I don't know why. Style over substance maybe. On one hand it's packed full of people and neat details, but on the other hand almost everything is sketched with this very detached stylistic shorthand... it makes it hard to understand the characters as people, moreso than The Tennenbaums. Wes seems to be stylizing himself into a place where the little touches completely replace the idea of characters that viewers can empathize with. But as broad and unspecific as the whole plot is, the focus is enough on the central character--and Murray does well with him--that it kept me in the movie. I just found something endearing about the embittered grown-up baby who hates everyone (but is a good guy deep down...maybe). 8/10
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06/08/06 - Little Miss Sunshine
It's got a little Royal Tennenbaums in it with the hilarity of sadness, but it's more deliberate-feeling in its structure and characters, more palatable with less effort required of the audience. Anyone should like this flick. I mean, it's just damn funny and keeps serious enough that it matters and all the characters are great and you should see it. 8/10
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01/12/19 - Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
Okay, so I've never read any Tolkien, I've never played any D&D, and I've never even seen the appeal of Fantasy in general. But after seeing the film, I get it. I can see why people are still stumbling over themselves ripping this off but not getting it right. I see the appeal of wanting to role-play in this universe, because it's such fertile territory for coming up with your own compelling characters and stories. I'm still not going to get into fantasy, but at least now I understand.
Now, it's difficult to seperate the baggage this film comes with from the film itself. How much cred do you lend it for being the "original" source of the ideas of orcs and dwarves and elves etc etc? Does it make the movie itself interesting, or it that credit that belongs to the book and the movie should stand on its own legs? I don't know, so I'll just go with my gut, and since I don't bring any personal fanboy baggage with me, or even any familiarity with the conventions of the genre, I should be pretty objective.
The first hour of the film is amazingly good. It picks up momentum, it's technically dazzling, the characters are interesting and deep, it's totally engrossing. I thought it faltered a bit later, as the thread of the story seemed to take a backseat to a series of episodes, which would be perfectly fine if it didn't feel like so many action scenes kept happening, triggered by such arbitrary things. Action is much more involving when it is in service of the plot, not the other way round. ...And by the way, why didn't Gandalf ever do anything with his magical powers? Like he could throw people around early in the film, but then when someone needed to jump a chasm, he just stood around. Help em out if you're so powerful, dammit!... Though I'm sure all those things I found minorly annoying make sense if you know from the books all the stuff that fills in the gaps.
Okay, long story short: Lots of action scenes, which seemed a bit out of character with the gist of the film, but at the same time kept the three hours of story alive. Great imagery, great technical execution. But probably the best part of the film, the reason it's a good film, basically the same reason that Tolkien's books are so much better than the knock-offs since, is that all the effects and makeup and environments and character design are in service of a core story that is human and interesting and engaging. The cool stuff that shows up on screen always has much more weight behind it from the personalities and twisty story. Up your ass, George Lucas. 8/10
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02/12/11 - Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
If you liked the first one, you'll like this one for the same reasons. Simple as that. In a bit more detail... Better: the sense of scale and the sense of epicness is way bigger here. Jackson makes it big, but keeps the characters in line and front and centre so it all fits together and means something. The action scenes don't come out of nowhere, they are borne of conflict both small-scale personal and large-scale political, they are built up to with great tension. And the payoff totally lives up when the fighting gets underway, it's great. Worse: while the battles are great while they're unfolding, it's like they built it up so high they couldn't adequately end them on screen. The film has to cover a bunch of parallel stories, so there's lots of cross cutting that weakens it at times, especially when they cut away from the climax of a big battle and then cut back after it's over. There's a few hanging threads of "but what happened to...?" and "where did those guys...?" But in the end, it's a great film. I'm sure it's even better the second time through. It works on plenty of levels, from the technical to the artistic. Hopefully the dangling plot questions will be answered in the final chapter. ...Also Gollum is freaking great. 9/10
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03/12/10 - Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King
It seems the Return Of The Jedi of the series in many ways. Take that as you will. In retrospect, the series has mapped pretty closely to the original Holy Trilogy. With the extended editions and repeat viewings, it seems the first was a great straight-ahead piece that opened the whole world, the second filled out the world with depth and epic scale, making both movies great but in different ways. Like last generation's trilogy, personal taste decides if the first or second was the best. The third one I wasn't feeling as much. The second one travelled beautifully between the lyrical small moments with the sweeping epicness. (Once the extended edition came out.) In comparison, the third feels rushed and sloppy with its characterization, and the epic battles have a "been there, done that better" sense about them. This one also treads more often into the domain of cheese with some of the scenes and dialogue. As I was saying, Jedi. Not to complain too much, because it really is a landmark film, and overall I'll bet it fits in pretty nicely with the other two in terms of tone and pacing, etc, if you had to sit through all three in a row. But I can't help feeling a bit of a letdown that there weren't bigger moments and more epic sensations than we saw before. Sure it's got some good bits, and it moves fairly well, but it feels more like it's stitched out of disparate little new ideas instead of fitting all of what we've seen before into a grand climax. I'm hoping that when the extended edition is released, it gives it the room it needs to breathe more fully, the room to let those characters come to life. Or maybe it's really just a question of these films being like wine; first viewing in the theatre is just the uncorking, and I need to wait for it to breathe and age before I can appreciate it properly. Or maybe it's just that it's the last episode, and thus has the intrinsic flaw that it has to wrap things up instead of continuing to expand and grow. In any event, this trilogy replaces Star Wars in many respects. It's only hampered in comparison by the fact that it's adapted and not a film created as an original. As I stand now, the series ranks something like '9, 9, 8'; or '10, 10, 8'; or '10, 9, 7', or something in there. Maybe better when I get more time with them. 8/10
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05/09/16 - Lord Of War
So a bunch of the relationships and characters and stuff are actually really crappy and predictable and some scenes kinda stink and blah blah but I don't care, on the whole I liked it. Maybe it was just the factoids and the amount of "wow, people really just get away with this stuff simply because they're willing to try". Maybe everyone hates it because they can't stand a hero they don't agree with who gets away with everything and has no qualms about any of it. A hero with no goal except to be a greedy little twerp. (Can't you people empathize with that? Liars.) I don't know why most people are down on this flick, unless they were expecting what the trailers imply (romance? comedy? action? Not really at all.) It's kind of a black comedy, but there's no tongues in cheeks: the laughs are because as things get more and more ludicrous they remain really feasible. (and no doubt capture the gist of what's happened in the last 25 years) 7/10
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03/04/27 - Lost In La Mancha
The plan for making Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote movie was never a foolproof one. In fact, as this documentary takes us through preproduction, you see that everyone has a sense that the thing is going to fall apart at any second. Production teams can sometimes think that anyway, but in this one you see that the schedule banks on nothing going wrong ever. But the stage is set for trouble: no actors show up until day 1 of shooting. Things start with a positive thrust, but within an hour it all goes to hell, in a bunch of different ways at the same time, and you know that all is lost. If you're someone who still believes that making movies is glamourous, this is a nice insight to the process. If you're familiar with film/tv production, then you might think "not even that much went wrong, (I mean besides there being no way the financing would hold up.)" Nobody is really to blame for the trouble, it was just a good-luck-required undertaking, with a slew of bad luck. In the end, watching the documentary is much like experiencing the cronology of events: big ideas that sound good and plans that sound scary quickly make way for a production that goes kablooey and then just sort of slowly peters out leaving only loose ends and questions. At least it sounds like Gilliam may still get the project off the ground one day. It could be a great film. 5/10
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03/09/21 - Lost In Translation
Maybe it's just me, but I don't find travelling to foreign places to be soul-enriching. "It's not fun, it's just different." The only thing that really adds to my experience is--plain and simple--communication. Interacting with someone who can inform me, or I can inform, about life, grand truths, stories, simple jokes... That's the real core of human experience to me. So it's not a stretch that being in the middle of a bustling metropolis like Tokyo can feel very lonely. Communication breakdown. But it doesn't take a foreign language to break the channels. How often to we fall into routine with those familiar to us, where we talk but say nothing, hear nothing? And so we have the other edge of the blade; often our deepest communication is with those unfamiliar to us. It's that spark of getting to know someone, when you relate but have something very new to impart on eachother. And thus young love is when we are most truly alive. So ultimately, it's not a question of what is familiar to us, it's a question of delving into new perspectives on things that matter to us. Lost In Translation is slow at times, it's kind of uneven, it shows us lots of talking without communicating, it gives us laughs, it shows us something real, it only sort of tells us a story, and--when all is said and done--it communicates, at least to me, one of life's grand truths. 9/10
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03/02/12 - Love Liza
It's a lesser version of a sort of About Schmidt meets Todd Solondz or something. Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance keeps the movie from falling apart, but only barely. The basic problem is that we never see anyone acting normally, and we never get any kind of penetration into the main character's thought process. He does a bunch of repetitive and inexplicable stuff, and our only explanation is "oh, he's all messed up cause he's so depressed". Which wouldn't be as bad if we'd gotten to know him outside of that state of mind, or if we had a plot that he was wandering through. I mostly went to see the film because of the reported Jim O'Rourke score. But it sounded more like the director had just layed in a bunch of his best tracks as temp music and then grown to like it and kept it. The songs didn't feel like they jived totally right with the scenes, and I didn't hear anything new. The movie's got its moments, and it's got a good ending, but do yourself a favour and just listen closely to some Jim O'Rourke instead. 4/10
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01/08/03 - Made
I didn't buy it. I didn't buy Vince Vaughn's character. In fact I wished someone would kill him so the movie could get on with being a movie. Except I didn't buy the rest of it either. Favreau's watched a lot of gangster movies but hasn't really learned a lot. The whole story is pretty much pointless. Which would be okay if the characters worked, but they don't. In a word: tedious. 3/10
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99/12/27 - Magnolia
Damn this is a good movie.  Watching this the second time, I realised how shitty Fight Club and The Green Mile are. Where those give you a great setup, tricking you into thinking they're intellectual, they completely throw it away on masturbatory cinematics, having nothing to actually say. Magnolia achieves everything it strives for. P.T. Anderson really does know what he's doing.
Magnolia is a film that uses seperate characters to explore common themes: human interaction changes people, for better and for worse. A child is a blank canvas, and all the people in their lives rub off on them, especially their parents. As we grow as people, we are changed by the people around us, and consequently we change them back. Our pasts define us, and what we did in our pasts helped to define others. This interconnectedness of our systems and nature is explored to the point of commenting on spirituality vs logic. There is a logic under everything, but the nuances are almost always so complex that the healthiest way to look at it is spiritually. Trying to explain it all can be a futile undertaking; sometimes you just have to accept that certain things are true despite a lack of explanation. Each character in this film plays a different perspective on these themes. They all arc simultaneously, and each character enlightens us on the others. Frank Mackie is hiding from his past, Donnie Smith is obsessed with his. A boy is being poorly treated, meanwhile an adult regrets what he did to his son. Every time we cut to a new character, the scene is making a comment on the scene that just happened. One character makes a decision, then we see another character regretting what he himself has just done. The structure is simply brilliant. A bit rough in places the first time you see it, but once you get the point the film reveals itself to be a masterwork. 10/10
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99/12/29 - Man On The Moon
Good pure entertainment. Forgettable. A lot of reaction shots. 6/10
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01/11/02 - The Man Who Wasn't There
The Coens consistently make movies that I like as I watch them the first time, but upon leaving the theatre I'll start thinking about how I had just barely missed the subtext, the real meat of the film. And an hour later I'll be at home shitting my pants about how awesome the film was, I just didn't realise it at the time. This time the (brilliant) trailer explains the subtext, the title of the film explains it, and a character delivers a monologue that uncharacteristically for the Coens hits the nail right on the head. But I still missed the point until an hour after. Reading other reviews of the film, everyone rightfully commends it on its style (brilliant), but everyone accuses it of a lack of substance, which is pretty unfounded. Criticism is levelled against scenes that have no apparent bearing on the plot of the film, but actually I think illustrate the *point* of the film, not to mention contribute immensely to the general feel of it. The film takes the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and expands it into a philosophy of life. Truth, and by extension purity and beauty, can be pursued, but you can't touch them without grubbing them up. And so truth is intangible, to the point of being irrelevant. And what better genre of film to lay this down than in film noir? Oh yeah, and the main character is a barber, and hair quickly becomes a metaphor. Clever and deep, but after seeing it a second time I have to say it's really slow. It's feels like a 3 hour movie, though it's only 2 hours long. 8/10
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06/02/18 - The Matador
Offbeat dark comedies with Greg Kinnear...I'm somehow reminded of Nurse Betty, though I barely remember it. This burned-out hitman dark comedy is pretty much as good as you could hope it would be. It's subtly funny as hell, and the story is fantastic, always setting you up with anticipation and dread with a smile on your face, but never taking the obvious choice. You might even start to think the moustache is cool by the end, that's how magic Brosnan is. 8/10
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03/09/13 - Matchstick Men
It's slick, I'll give it that. The problem is that while well-told, the story is really just three conventional (boring) stories stuck together. Which would be interesting, and does work for the most part, except they're all so tragically conventional and under-thought that they don't hold up to scrutiny. Luckily you probably won't scrutinize them, since you're always distracted by the other 2 stories. And the slickness. It's so slick that you may not notice that the brilliant "big con" they're pulling hinges on this brilliant ploy: get the target to look the other way ("look out behind you!") and then switch the suitcase. I've seen people pull "your shoe's untied!" gags more sophisticated than this film's plot. But it's really well acted, so it's totally watchable. But even then, you'll probably find that you're "watching" it instead of "feeling" it. If you know what I mean. 6/10
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03/05/15 - The Matrix Reloaded
Intellectually, this movie is a worthy sequel to the Matrix. It's got all the necessary ingredients, the right action scenes, it's got some philosophy, though it's maybe a little short on extending the fiction of the world in interesting ways. But when you think about it, sure, it stacks up pretty well. Intellectually. Now VISCERALLY, on the other hand, it's not even close. In the first film, life and death was on the line; when you saw an Agent, you ran. When you fought an agent, you were fighting for your life and you were losing. Morpheus cracked a toilet with his head, he was bleeding out his eyes, he was getting his ankle shot out by a Desert Eagle. And we'd cut back to see these guys coughing up blood in their chairs. By comparison, the sequel is cold, detached, and bloodless (both figuratively and literally). Part of it is that Neo is now played as invincible and unaffected, so when he fights there's nothing at stake--it's just a slow-motion march toward the inevitable outcome. The rogue programs are a great idea to give Neo new challenges, but they don't do anything the agents don't do (and usually less). And the fights are instigated in weird, bad-hong-kong-action-film ways; everybody is kung fu fighting, but this time it's just the order of business instead of a last-resort hand-to-hand defense against unstoppable machines. Aside from the early action scenes feeling 'off', the feel of the movie itself is uneven and I'd go so far as to say poorly edited. In fact, it seemed like the whole thing was just coasting in neutral for at least the first hour. In the first film there were clear objectives and clear peril at all times, but this one feels adrift, with characters chasing unclear, abstract goals, spending a lot of time sitting and listening to speeches. Only in the final third did we get any indication of there being a point to all the noise. The only reason I kind of enjoyed it when watching it was the expectation that all the odd elements would pay off in the end. Now I know how that turns out. 4/10
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03/11/05 - The Matrix Revolutions
You know, they had the right idea. Which is why it's such a shame. I read a fan analysis of the 2nd film that predicted the 3rd movie, and the guy was right on the money, he really understands his Joe Campbell. (Not like 99% of the fans who are idiots and predicted things like 'the kid is The One!'). Anyway, the movie does kind of come around to where it was supposed to go, but in such a lame, convoluted way, that it seems like an accident it got there. The problem is simple: focus. Somebody important forgot what the movie was about, and accidentally made it about everything except what anybody could possibly care about. And so The Big Conflict doesn't feel important. The little conflicts are made too much of and get boring. The resolution doesn't feel like one. In the 2nd movie they had ideas and no action, this time they remembered the action but forgot all the ideas. ...All of them. They even forgot the freaking Matrix! At least it moves better than the second one, and goes somewhere, and therefore makes it marginally better. I was expecting the 3rd one to redeem the 2nd, but instead it actually makes the 2nd look even worse because nothing from the 2nd makes the slightest difference to anything. Boiled down, this film is the bare minimum of a film to not make fans outright angry. But in terms of living up to what it deserves to be, and could have been, and almost was, it's just a sad sorry shell. At least we've still got Peter Jackson. And our ability to pretend we live in a world where The Matrix is just one film. 5/10
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00/10/09 - Meet The Parents
Funny. A little bit too Three's Company at times, but some really good bits and the whole thing flows quite well. 6/10
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01/04/01 - Memento
Brilliant concept. A film about memory, mainly two hours of seeing the world through the eyes of someone who doesn't have one. So mentally exhausting that after it was over, I could hardly find where I parked my car and I was having trouble navigating streets I'd driven down hundreds of times. I kept automatically turning down roads that take me home, even though I was trying to go in the opposite direction. Just like the main character, I was running on conditioned behaviour, unable to keep an idea in my head. In short, this movie hurt my brain. In a good way. 9/10
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04/07/25 - Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster
The best parts of this movie: 1. The band's therapist pretending to appreciate the music by bobbing his head arhythmically. 2. Lars Ulrich's father is Gandalf. 3. The bass player sitting at the table silently, and it seems like he's thinking "uh, I thought I joined fuckin' Metallica, why are we sitting here talking about our feelings?". 6/10
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02/02/02 - Metropolis
Metropolis, the new anime, is beautiful. It's nice that it's Japanese but not in a typical bland "big-eye" style, but in an old-school "Astroboy" style. The palettes are lush, the backgrounds are rich and detailed, but it's hard to see a lot of the film with the amount of attention-stealing subtitles. ...If only they'd chosen a font that was easier to read... The music is cool old jazz, the story is inspired by the *original* science fiction film, Metropolis, and the whole thing is based on a Manga from the 40s. It's got a great "the past's vision of the future" thing going on. Now, though I quite liked the style I found the characters vague and the story muddled, so the whole thing fell pretty flat. It's got some memorable shots, though. I dig on the style. 5/10
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01/03/27 - The Mexican
Suprisingly good actually. Even though it refused to end. Successful genre bender. 8/10
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06/08/04 - Miami Vice
It's kind of like the best TV Show ever was taken back in time to the 80s and shown on TV and someone taped it and blew it up to film to show now. But though it was shot in present day, for some reason the writer/director wanted to make it palatable to people in the 80s so he made the main characters talk and act like they were on a 1980s TV action-drama. It's a really weird style, but I can kind of get where Michael Mann was coming from. He created the old TV series, and maybe the dialogue is the way he paid tribute to it, instead of the wardrobe or tone. The unimaginative way to shoot Miami would be like a rap video, all glossy and shiny with the boats and water and cars and girls, but Michael Mann's cops and robbers are always professionals, and this stuff is run-of-the-mill for them. They're the definition of "cool", totally unfazed and totally capable. There's a few brief action scenes, and they're all worth their salt in at least one way (like the sound design on the guns! And the inside-the-car cam of 50 cal sniping). In between, it's just patient scenes of guys being cool, which can get kind of boring when there's not a lot of plot going on, at least not a lot that is trying to make any sense. Heat is much better. 6/10
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07/10/08 - Michael Clayton
Pretty good I guess. My mind was wandering here and there in the places where it was unclear where the movie was going or what it was really about. Or maybe just all the lawyer talk kept reminding me of my own traffic court date the next morning. (Not guilty) 5/10
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08/12/04 - Milk
Gus Van Sant knows what he's doing. The weight of this one comes from the characterizations and the true story. Well crafted and deeply interesting, even if it's a little too hollywood at times. Makes me want to see the actual documentary about Harvey Milk. 8/10
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02/06/22 - Minority Report
Great sets and gadgets, even if some of it doesn't quite make sense (or is a little cheesy). The storyline is good too, even though some if it doesn't make sense (or is a little cheesy). It's got some great characters, who are all a little odd, and the pacing is a little odd... it shares something with A.I, but thankfully it doesn't lose its footing--there's always an action scene to even things out. The story twists are mostly quite good, and overall the movie is beautiful to look at. There's something solid and believable about the world the movie inhabits. It's a cool little universe, matched up with a dark and twisty and occasionally fun little story. 8/10
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00/05/24 - Mission Impossible 2
Oh John Woo, what happened to your beautiful sense of action dynamics? To preface, I love Face/Off, so I'm not above unrealistic action. But this film's plot really bothered me, being very thin and lacking any plot twists or even plot points. And suprisingly, the action scenes were more like a string of glamour shots than the cohesive set pieces I expect from Woo. Disappointing, but dumb-movie watchable. 5/10
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05/03/27 - Millions
There's this saying in the movie business that you should give the audience what they want, but in a way they don't expect. Danny Boyle tells this story well, shoots it really well, it's got good music... it's your average Danny Boyle flick. As for getting what I want in a way I don't expect... well the movie gives us plenty of interesting things that aren't by-the-books...but towards the end I'm not sure what I wanted for the characters. In other words, the plot seemed to be missing a driving motivation. Usually in a movie you want someone to get their comeupance, someone to find what they seek, or in a zombie movie just the right people to die in an appropriate way... without that stuff your movie misses out on "big payoffs" and instead only has "conclusions". But yeah, Millions is a pretty good show. 6/10
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06/05/10 - Mission Impossible 3
Alias is dumb, this is the good version of Alias. Movies like this with good action and decent smarts just hammers home how irrelevent and bad James Bond has gotten. Good thing James Bond is going back to its roots, it might actually be interesting and stylish again, which would one-up movies like this which are merely competently glossy/slick. 6/10
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02/03/10 - Monster's Ball
Gentle, slow, sad. And despite being touted as a racial movie, it's not really about that at all. It's just a study of a couple characters who are both in a bad place in their lives and find comfort in eachother. Not much story, no message, it's all acting and atmosphere. Gentle, slow, sad. Good. 7/10
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01/11/02 - Monsters Inc.
Very entertaining. And beautiful to look at, both in the motion of the characters and the design of the worlds. The only criticism is that Pixar has raised the bar so high that it's very difficult to measure up to the depth and resonance of the Toy Story films. Monsters Inc does much better than A Bug's Life, but it isn't a masterpiece. But that's hardly a criticism. 8/10
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09/06/21 - Moon
A little slow, a little underwritten? I was really glad that it didn't do any of the obvious things you might expect, which gets it out from the shadow of 2001 and The Shining. Major credit to Sam Rockwell for pulling it off with flying colours; a whole movie stuck to his POV, with no other human physically present. 7/10
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01/06/06 - Moulin Rouge
This movie can be championed for its amazing creativity: it's a work of genius visual elements, extremely clever appropriation of pop songs (the story is told almost exclusively through pop music snipets sung by the characters), and an overall in-your-face honest exuberance that's difficult not to find endearing. When it works it really works well. ..But all the overloading of style has the film teetering on (and sometimes over) a dangerous edge. If you're not prepared, it can feel like you're captive to a coked-up psychotic clown screaming in your face and projectile-vomitting flashing fast-forward style down your throat. On the other hand, those moments of over-the-top sillyness make the slower and serious bits all the more earnest and heartfelt. The story and characters suck, but they're not the point. This is a tribute to pop sensation: broad stroke emotions and mustached villains. It's a world where you belt out the song in your heart, and the film shares that same boldness and unabashed honesty. 7/10
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01/11/26 - Mulholland Drive
How do you rate a David Lynch movie like this? You can't really hold it up against anything else, except other Lynch stuff. Well, I liked watching it and it stuck in my head, so that's what counts. The first portion is one of those wacky Lynch films where everyone is a weird character, but the storyline is mostly straight and even kind of pleasantly off-beat. And then there's the portion that's the other Lynch, where you're watching something that isn't so much a narrative as it is a dream, which I love because Lynch is one of the few people who can tap right into your subconscious and kick it around. Nobody is truly scarier than David Lynch. He shows you stuff that isn't intellectually frightening, but it evokes a fear that's raw and unexplainable. He shows you your nightmares. It's great that he transcends film and presents the audience with visuals that hit the brain more like music; in a subconscious and ambiguous way, and all the more effective for it. ...And if you're really stuck on "what the hell is actually happening here?", there are complete analyses on Salon.com and elsewhere that make things make total sense. But perhaps it's best to let the meaning be personal, again like music. The weird scenes are there because you're supposed to be weirded out and confused at those points. Simple as that. 8/10
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05/12/23 - Munich
The interesting thing about this movie is the reaction. Spielberg is attacked from three sides. One: too anti-Israel. Two: not enough pro-Palestine. Three: too even handed. Yes, people are complaining that he gives both sides a fair shake, because it's irresponsible to be even-handed when one side is morally in the right. I'm not sure if those people care which side he takes, as long as he picks one. Spielberg says he wasn't interested in making a statement with this one, to draw a conclusion for the audience. It's not even prepared to say assassination is wrong. So you get a little political conversation here and there, a bunch of character development so you feel for these guys, and a handful of self-contained assassination scenes with all the procedural details. But even if the film feels a bit muddled (and long) at least it's responsible. 7/10
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02/09/29 - My Big Fat Greek Wedding
It's been in release for 6 months now, and I've been rooting for it at the box office. Something about a film featuring average people made by average people with no marketing making a ton of money made me feel good about the industry. But then I finally went to see it. It's pretty good...for a rough cut...of a student film. Don't believe the hype. It's not a good movie. It's hardly even a comedy, it's more concerned with cramming in lame 'emotional' scenes (with clobber-you-over-the-head music) than it is with making you laugh. They made the decision not to waste time building the relationship between the guy and girl who are getting married, but then they bank on you caring about their feelings. And then when it gets to the actual big fat greek family, they're not even really that big or fat or loud or even Greek. I guess they didn't have the budget for a roomful of actors, cause the family looked like about 20 people tops at any given time--when the wedding lets out, there's a crowd of about 9 people on the steps of the church. And the scenes are edited in such a way that everyone takes their turn to speak and it's all very civil and organized. And when it comes to the actual Greek-ness of the Greek family, it's painted in such broad strokes that it doesn't provide any insight at all, it's just a cartoon. Still, I see the appeal. Any Italian, Jewish, or Greek person is going to see some resemblance to their family. And the movie is at least kind enough to skip the usual "big misunderstanding that jeopardizes the relationship" plot point. But it's probably just something they didn't manage to fit in, because the movie's not above a lot of other cliches. There were a couple good laughs, but on the whole I found it more tedious than enjoyable. 3/10
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08/05/19 - My Blueberry Nights
Not nearly as beautiful to look at as his other films, and I don't think it's as full of feeling either. Turns out Chan Marshall not only contributes a better song than Norah Jones but better acting too. 5/10
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08/07/25 - My Winnipeg
David Lynch meets Canadian Heritage Minutes meets Hunter S Thompson. It's way more accessible than you might think, way less opaque than the other Maddin stuff I've seen. It's a rare avante-gard film that I feel good recommending to almost anyone. I actually enjoyed it more than Batman, this one made me laugh uncontrollably and even get a little weepy, and it's only 80 minutes. 8/10
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04/03/13 - Mystic River
I don't think I like Clint Eastwood as a director. He's an actor's director, sure, but I prefer an audience's director. 6/10
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04/06/09 - Napoleon Dynamite
There's been a lot of trailers in the last couple years that suggest something so great that the movie can't possibly live up to it, once that distilled and purified little piece of editing is stretched out to full theatrical runtime. I'm thinking of Elephant, or Winged Migration, or even Envy... Napoleon's trailer is really funny. The surprise is the movie has the legs to meet and exceed what the trailer suggests. Critics seem to be down on this movie for just making fun of all its characters. But I don't think it does; at its core it likes Napoleon. He's a good guy, he just doesn't know how to function around people yet, but that's what makes him pure and interesting, not to mention funny. Some have compared this movie to Wes Anderson (sure) and The Coen Brothers (not really). The Coens are different because they abuse their characters. This movie forgives its characters, gives them their own dignity, and doesn't let them fail. But I've been sidetracked from the real point: this movie is flippin funny. 8/10
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06/01/21 - The New World
If you hated The Thin Red Line, then stay away. I was shocked at the large turnout for this one on opening weekend, but the audience was more well-behaved than I feared from a Terrance Mallick film playing to a Saturday Night Movie crowd. I guess despite all the long shots of fields of grass, there was enough of a "love story" thread that people could identify with the characters and stay interested. Mostly I enjoyed two things: Q'Orianka Kilcher was amazing as the main character. (And shockingly she's 15 years old?!) And the movie gave me a real sense of what it would be like to shore up on a new continent in the 17th century and try to live day to day. This movie is all about its tone, and giving a sense of being there. The audience may have been saying "what was with all the walking?" when they left the theatre, and the ending may have teased them a little too far into a sense of relief when the screen finally cut to black, but as flowery and gushing as it got at times, it only illustrated the purity and beauty and the downfall, and that was the whole point. It needs a big screen and sound and patient involvement. I really liked it. 8/10
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07/11/12 - No Country For Old Men
Note that only one person dies for a reason; it seems this person would rather die in a way that makes meaningful sense than continue to live at the whim of chance. In a way that's what the whole movie seems to be about, the forces of nature and how powerless we are to control them. It's a movie about fortune--in more than one sense of the word--and trying to control it. Or forget all that, it's really a movie about extremely compelling characters in a collection of the most memorable scenes in years. Some people are going to be upset at the story points that are true to life instead of drama--when life and death just keep rolling, in defiance of justice and meaning, forces of nature. Unsatisfying, nihilistic, and against all rules of storytelling? Definitely. But it's enigmatic and thoughtful--this is the Coen Brothers in top form. The brilliance of Fargo, but in service of something way more stark and ruthless, with the deeper meaning buried like Barton Fink. 10/10
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00/09/13 - Nurse Betty
Offbeat, subtly hilarious. Some cool subtext; themed throughout about fixation and how we invent our own truths about things and people. Great performances, especially Aaron Eckhart's mullet. 8/10
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01/01/12 - O Brother, Where Art Thou?
A pleasantly paced road comedy with a bluegrass music backbone. Works on a bunch of levels simultaneously; Blues musical adventure, depression era hayseed comedy, Coen-style bizarre characters and situations, and Homer's Odyssey. I'll have to see it again. 8/10
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09/04/13 - Observe And Report
It's actually more like Taxi Driver than a silly mall cop thing. It's a journey into the mind of a psychopath that has trouble differentiating reality from his fantasy view of himself, so much that some scenes are more how it went down in his mind than how it happened in real life. The movie has a twisted morality, where unchecked violence is to be celebrated, minorities are up to something, promiscuous women are demonized (unless they're born-again)...so in other words this is a journey into the mind of the George W Bush section of the American public. I'm finding it really fun to take that minor subtext and reading way too much into every scene. In the same way that Jeff Lebowski is Jesus if he was born in our time, this main character is Bush if he wasn't born into affluence. 8/10
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01/12/15 - Ocean's Eleven
Slick and smooth. And a great blending of classic and modern styles. It moves really well, and the heist itself is complex and smart and actually pretty nerve-racking. It's just a great heist movie with style, designed for a fun movie-going experience. They don't get much more crowd-pleasing than this. The shortcoming for me is that the film and especially its characters won't stick to my mind, but they're not meant to. 7/10
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05/05/03 - Oldboy
Probably the best "one man fights dozen attackers" scene I can remember. And it starts off with this cool updated modern and serious The Prisoner thing, but with a puzzle that actually goes somewhere. ...That might be the problem though; it's tough to come up with a good reason for it to all make sense and be worth the trouble. Eventually they need a bad guy to monologue for 30 minutes so you can understand how double evil ironic the whole plot is or whatever. I kinda got bored by that point...the dark comedy and interesting plot had faded away before the movie could make it to the finish line. 5/10
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03/03/03 - Old School
A lot of comedies don't live up to their trailer. They show you the only jokes that work, their sketches of the characters are way more interesting than the characters turn out to be, etc. Old School delivers on exactly what's promised in the trailer. Ie, it's funny, it's not too stupid, and Will Ferrell steals the show. That guy squeezes every drop of potential comedy out of any setup. Vince Vaughn is nothing to scoff at either, playing a character halfway between Swingers and Made, but all gold. Unfortunately, like all comedies based on a one-sentence premise, the whole thing falls apart in the third act when they try to graft on the Exciting Action Climax And Everyone-Learns-Something Resolution. In other words, it dies whenever they forgo the non-sequitor jokes for any actual plot. 6/10
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02/09/20 - One Hour Photo
Good stuff. Suitably creepy and sad, nice cinematography, good colour palette. I thought it was going to be less conventional than it ended up, but that's just another reason that I compare it to Insomnia, but better. The snapshots that everyone takes are a little too well composed and contrived, but hey. 7/10
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03/10/05 - Once Upon A Time In Mexico
A lot of people thought this film was bunk, so my expectations were pretty low, so maybe that's why I enjoyed it. It's still no Desperado though. It definitely has some fun, but the plot is somehow simultaneously thin and overcomplicated. I feel like there was a story there, it just didn't get told. It's certainly not the epic it was designed to be. I'm starting to wonder if maybe Rodriguez needs to start working more slowly, with more money, and have more people on staff. 5/10
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05/03/01 - Ong Bak
This movie doesn't really kick ass as much as elbow your ass in the face and knee it in the throat. Ong Bak is the worthy successor to Jackie Chan's early-90s legacy, living up to where Jackie dropped off. It's no Drunken Master 2, but only because it's missing the comedy and joy (and originality), replacing it with an attempt at serious and cool instead. The other thing it's missing though is the over-long non-fighting dialogue scenes that plague so many Kung Fu movies. Ong Bak knows the audience is there to see the stunts, so much so that they just throw in the whole stunt replayed from multiple angles to give you a really good look. After watching redundant pap like House Of Flying Daggers, it's nice to see stunts free from wires and digital manipulation. (God knows why they included a car chase that's full of wires and makes no sense in an otherwise flawless string of action scenes). Anyone who can appreciate good kung fu--and a little freerunning--needs to see this more than any kung fu movie since Drunken Master 2. 8/10
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01/08/20 - The Others
For the first while, it teeters on the edge of being too slow and hard to buy, almost losing the audience. But then it lulls you and starts to slowly freak you out, and good. Cool flick. Too bad it's saddled with the feeling that it's a lesser imitation of the great films of the genre. 7/10
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03/06/29 - Owning Mahowny
This reminded me of my day at the horse track, only dialed up to 11. Based on a great true story of a bank VP in the early 80s trying to gamble his way out of a gambling debt, approving loans for fake clients just to get ahold of the money he needs to win back what he owes. It's painful to watch, but great. Philip Seymour Hoffman is awesome, and the music is incredible. I can't say enough about the music. I really enjoyed this film. 7/10
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02/03/30 - Panic Room
A good solid film. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing that leaves a real impression, it's just good and solid. The photography is stylish enough, the story is smart and believable enough, it does what it sets out to do. Fincher is still batting 1000. They're not all home runs of course. Seven was definitely out of the park, but Alien 3 was more like a sacrifice bunt, The Game a base-on-balls, and Fight Club was kind of a ground-rule double or maybe even a fielder's choice. (I know lots of people love that film, but I thought the brilliant concept and style ended up getting hypocritical and confused.) This one is a clean single, up the middle. 7/10
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07/01/14 - Pan's Labyrinth
This movie is severely misrepresented by its trailer. If you've seen the trailer you've seen pretty much all of the fantasy on offer. The other 90% of the movie is about a nazi-ish dude shooting and torturing people in bleak gory detail. He's a fascist and we get plenty of time to see in how many different ways he's a jerk and then some lengthy comeupance to make the audience squirm, but eventually I'm sitting there wondering what happened to the Labyrinth and why I'm supposed to find this real-life stuff more interesting. I appreciate the concept though: Fairy Tales in the Hansel & Gretel sense are bleak and brutal with evil and murder and people getting chopped up in gruesome ways. Meanwhile the true history of war and childbirth in the last century made those kind of horrors real. It's an interesting combo but during the movie I wasn't quite buying it. Instead I just felt cemented in my general dislike of Del Toro: dude really seems to treat the plot as a means to letting him film his version of Steve-O sticking a fishhook through his own face. I'd say he looks for excuses for great imagery, but I didn't find any of the shots good-looking or even ugly and interesting, just kind of dark and gloomy and repetitive. But credit for the few memorable bits. 4/10
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07/06/17 - Paprika
Cool visuals, the opening sequence is particularily good. Then it starts to go wanky, making me restless. Also sleepy. Movies about dreams make me sleepy. 4/10
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00/07/11 - The Patriot
The Pootriot. What a piece of shit. Any elements that were halfways good were trampled by a two-hour offensively bad melodramatic lull in the middle. 3/10
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00/07/03 - The Perfect Storm
This film is entirely small-craft-giant-waves spectacle. I didn't really care about any of the characters and the story kinda dragged. Impressive visuals, but I found it flat on the whole. 5/10
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08/01/26 - Persepolis
Interesting backdrop, Iran and revolution and stuff... so how come it's so boring? I guess there's a lesson that no matter what's happening in your world, life is still mostly about trying to be cool and find a mate--except this movie would only be making that point by accident. 3/10
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00/02/20 - Pitch Black
A 'B' movie script with some A movie visual ideas. The opening sequence was very cool, and act 2 was excellent. The rest was not too bad. The light/dark thing starts off really well done, but gets kind of sketchy and unconvincing. It's too bad, because this could have been masterful with another pass on the script and stronger visual direction in the closing act. 6/10
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08/06/01 - Planet B-Boy
Just the right amount of people dancing before I got tired of it, and enough of it that I was never going "just show me some movies already!". The interviews and behind-the-scenes dynamics are really well done. 8/10
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01/07/27 - Planet Of The Apes
Excellent makeup. Horrible movie. 3/10
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01/02/02 - The Pledge
Is it an interesting and meditative character study? Or an implausable and lazy thriller? I don't know. But the really important question is: Does Nevada really have the mountains and lakes and thick evergreen forests of the B.C. interior? 7/10
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04/11/15 - The Polar Express
Morbid professional curiosity. I wasn't even going to bother, since it looked even less inspired than Shark Tale, but then the fateful news: they made an IMAX 3D version. Since I'd myself worked on an ill-fated Imax 3D thing--acting as stereographer--the Poo-lar Express edged over my curiousity threshold. Well, it was nice to finally see a 3D Imax movie made with CG. And it was interesting to see another attempt at "photoreal" mocap zombie-vision, this time by a real director. (although people thinking about attempting it should Google "The Uncanny Valley" before wasting millions of dollars). So the stereography was quite good for the most part, despite a few continuity-of-scale issues, harsh edits, and the odd zoom lens (which makes the characters look perfectly flat). But thank god I saw this in IMAX 3D or it would have been even more excrutiating than Final Fantasy. 2/3rds of the movie is a ride on a train, on a linear track, through a mostly-featureless winter wasteland. So to spice it up they keep having these extremely artificial "obstacles" for the "characters" to "overcome". None of the obstacles are due to any character's choices, nor are any of the solutions. Every character is at the mercy of circumstance in a world without negative consequences. After they finish boring you by playing the same "triumphant" music cue 18 times when extremely non-triumphant things happen, and freaking you out by having a 45-year-old voice come out of an 8-year-old kid, you finally learn the lessons of the movie: 1. Poor kids are greedy. 2. People should have faith and believe in something as soon as they're presented with absolutely irrefutable evidence backed up by 100,000 eyewitnesses. Apparently that's when your faith is really tested. ...I'm glad Zemeckis is willing to mount large-scale experiments like this, but I didn't know he'd just shrug off the basics of good storytelling. 3/10
02/07/03 - The Powerpuff Girls Movie
When the television show started, it was a bastion of creativity and honesty and *real* girl power. It subverted a slew of influences and spit out a brilliant mix of mature satire, avant-garde style, and good ol' kid-pleasing power battles. The movie is along the same lines, adding the expected high-budget (and beautiful) special effects work, but unfortunately that's as far as they went with taking advantage of the potential of the film format. They obviously made a decision to make the movie as accessible as possible by (as usual) telling the origin story. Unfortunately, like a lot of super-hero tales, the origin story is not what makes the characters interesting. But the problem with the story isn't really the origin thing, it's that they didn't cram nearly as much plot in there as they could have. It feels like the script to a two-part 40 minute episode that got padded out to feature length (a couple sections downright drag) and instead of a clever story that works on multiple levels, it's mostly the usual watered-down 'believe in yourself' thing--albeit with a classy Powerpuff sheen. In fact, aside from the visuals, I can't think of anything the movie did that I haven't seen the TV show do at least as well. Still, the design work is great to look at, the jokes are funny, the story has enough going to pull us along, and there's a few sequences of genuine ingenuity. It's too bad I was geared up for something that would really push the envelope, because all I got was my minimal expectation: a well-executed, visually souped-up version of the TV show. Which is nothing to scoff at, but in my books that only makes it par. 5/10
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Princess Mononoke
This may be my favorite movie ever. An epic exploration of man leaving nature behind for his personal greater good. There is no good or evil in this story of enviromentalism (ie our history); things aren't worse now, only different. We've traded natural order for the ability to help our weak, to cure disease, to work together for the good of humans. But the cost is our unity with nature. See the film once, and it seems a bit disjointed and odd. Then you think about the underlying issues, how each character represents a point of view on this answerless debate. Think about it for a few days and see it again. Then you'll see how every scene is loaded. Every scene presents a side of the debate in its subtext. I swear, I've seen it three times, and every scene gives me goosebumps. Oh yeah, and the film is beautiful. Simply brilliant. 10/10
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00/12/17 - Proof Of Life
Almost the entire movie felt just a little off the mark. The subject matter is very interesting though, and any Counter-Strike players out there should really enjoy the cool tactical stuff, especially the action finale. 6/10
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06/09/05 - The Protector
I think they chopped 20 minutes out of the North American version. Scenes just start for no reason. So you're only here for the action, not the story. Most of the action is nothing new, and what's new is kind of...well, what do you think of fighting Muai Thai against rollerbladers doing misty flips and wielding fragile neon bulbs? So about the only notable thing is the greatest "all in one shot" action scene I've ever seen. It blows the 2 minute gunfight in Hard Boiled out of the water. 5/10
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09/07/11 - Public Enemies
Remake of Heat, set in the depression? Kind of (he even re-uses a line or two, and a couple shots), though a bit tighter (no 90 minute lull in the middle) and with less character (do I really care about any of these guys as people?). The scenes of the heists and stings are really well put together, and the little bit of history lesson is cool. 6/10
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02/10/19 - Punch-Drunk Love
It's definitely not an Adam Sandler movie. ...Mostly. It's definitely a P.T. Anderson movie, because few filmmakers have that level of disregard for pacing and structure. Few filmmakers are so hung up on Each Scene as its own entity, its own short film. There's a lot you could complain about with this film. I don't imagine it going over well with most people, the main characters are really dense, the story often frustrating to watch. It's mostly depressive humour, somewhat like Tenenbaums, so it's got some good dark laughs, not much obvious humour. It's refreshing. But I really start to appreciate it when I think of it on an iconic level. Adam Sandler plays an extreme icon of male. When alone he's pathetic and unbalanced and depressed and prone to crying and extreme violent outbursts. It's what the usual Sandler hero would actually be like in real life. Just kinda sad, not cool. We've all been there, guys. Sandler personifies that icon--he's even coloured blue. Emily Watson is the balancing force he's seeking. She's pink. When Sandler falls in love, the icons really dovetail. He balances, he finds his strength, he even turns into a neanderthal defender when his mate is in danger. This movie is really simple at its core: the whole thing is an extreme example of the unabashed craziness of new love. Maybe an 8, but for now 7/10
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08/11/16 - Quantum Of Solace
Boring. Of all the things to rip off from Bourne, extremely shaky and terribly edited action scenes is the wrong thing. And giving us three of them in a row without any character or plot... it's adequate, pedestrian, I barely cared the whole way through. 4/10
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03/02/09 - The Quiet American
The Quiet American has no good guys or bad guys, but it has great conflict. It's fairly timely, dealing with different political interests screwing around with a region, but it does it in a subtle, intelligent, unsoapboxy, realistic, intelligent, unpandering way. This film respects its viewer's intelligence. It's too bad the trailer gives away too much. The real key to the movie is the way the politics of the countries involved is distilled down into the main characters, all the way from motives to art direction to plot. Smart. 7/10
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00/12/19 - Quills
So if you dress up a piece of shit in period costume, suddenly every gradeschooler double-entendre and pathetically forced plot point becomes high art? "Oh my god! He said "nipple" and he's wearing a powdered wig! How outrageous!" Fuck you. What a total and complete disaster of film. The narrative sucked. The characters were crap. The actors gave an earnest effort, but were thwarted by the worst direction of a script in recent memory. The tragedy is I could have seen Dude, Where's My Car? instead. 2/10
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08/10/26 - Rachel Getting Married
Want to be a guest at this wedding? It helps that it's probably the most interesting wedding ever staged, live music all night, world music, african, blues, but for some reason they're serving Indian food. Fantastic dance floor. The speeches at the rehearsal dragged on too long, but the Groom's speech at the ceremony was nice. I guess the interesting part was watching Rachel's sister teeter on the brink of imploding. And getting to know the family. 6/10
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08/01/25 - Rambo
Hope you like dismemberment. By bullets. 4/10
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07/07/16 - Ratatouille
Pixar has subtly started making movies that are for grown-ups with no concessions to the kids. I mean it's gotten to the point where I wonder if kids would enjoy it much. Even the opening short only makes sense if you've had a driving test or job (this occured to me when I overheard a kid ask "what happened?"). But yeah, this is a damn fine film. Forget technique and the photography and the fur and the depth-of-field... it's just front-to-back solid, inventive storytelling. And it's one of the good ones that's really ABOUT something. This one has themes of art and commerce and art appreciation. 9/10
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08/11/07 - Real Time
Great trailer. One of those trailers that I fear suggests something so good that the movie itself can't live up. The first half wasn't quite clicking for me, but somewhere in the middle it turned an invisible corner and I was hooked. It delivered what the trailer promised. Heartbreaking. The actors are great, the story lean and clean. The subject matter is particularly up my alley, and it was the right moment in time, I really liked it. 8/10
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00/11/04 - Requiem For A Dream
Stylistically, it's very good. Story wise, it's not as good. Aronofsky has to learn to hit story points more cleary and pace things for stronger effect. On the other hand, he made a choice; the story is told from the characters' perspectives, without the distance necessary for the audience to make objective observations. So it's on purpose that the audience is unclear on the status of the characters' addictions and problems; the characters themselves don't have the ability to see it from an outsider's perspective, so the audience isn't granted the luxury either. The audience is locked to the point of view of the main characters, and at times this is very successful; several sequences made me feel like I was on drugs or going crazy. 8/10
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02/03/22 - Resident Evil
I saw this movie with extremely lowered expectations. I'd heard terrible things, I didn't even really want to see it but I felt I had a professional obligation to since it's a video game movie and all... I was bracing for a 2/10. Well, I was actually pleasantly surprised. I didn't mind it at all. It was entertaining. It's basically another one of the recent "pretty good B-movie" type films; the story and logic are pretty much garbage, but it's got some style and the plot and characters have their moments. This one steps away from the actual scary atmosphere that the game cultivated, and takes more of a "Aliens" approach to its tone. It worked, and was probably a better choice. I thought it was about to turn into a bad movie when Milla wall-jump-kicked the dog in the head, but it recovered its footing and got back into being a good dumb zombie action movie again. I can't recommend it, but I thought it was pretty not bad. 5/10
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09/01/15 - Revolutionary Road
Like a crappier American Beauty? Boo-hoo, the suburbs suck? The point I suppose was settling down isn't much of a jet-setting adventure, but I've seen that told better in other movies starring Kate Winslet (Little Children is amazing). This one is acted really well, and I guess the characters are nicely rounded and painfully realistic instead of puppets of a plot structure... But ultimately it's a bunch of selfish grandstanding. Like why were their two kids never ever in the house? 5/10
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02/10/19 - The Ring
I really really enjoyed this movie. It's not a slasher flick, it has more in common with Sixth Sense, but I liked it better. Forget the "someone's made an evil videotape" premise, that's not really what the film is about. We've all heard the stories of people leaving tape recorders running in haunted locations, and eerie voices showing up afterward, voices that were inaudible to the human ear? If you can buy that a ghost exists as an electromagnetic signature, then you're ready to buy this movie. Just try to watch it with people who will be into getting scared, cause if someone decides that they don't want to be affected by it, and they want to laugh at it, then the whole thing will fall apart for everyone and it'll all just seem silly. Oh yeah, the film is beautifully shot. And spooky as hell. I almost gave it a 9. 8/10
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09/12/01 - The Road
First off it's an impossible task, the book is a masterpiece. Credit that it was much better than how bad it could have been--than I feared--but was definitely not a great adaptation. It somehow underplayed the important stuff (the tone, the fear, the bond, the philosophical questions), and overplayed the wrong stuff (the past). The movie leaves out the details of day-to-day life, of choosing a place to sleep, whether it was safe enough to light a fire, of what to scrounge and carry...all the stuff that creates the endless tension that makes the whole story tick, the very foundation of the tone: looking forward, a sense of purpose in the bleakness, the father's professionalism and the spark in the son... Without all of that you're just looking at scene after scene of a couple guys sitting around feeling lousy. 5/10
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00/04/15 - Road To El Dorado
Looked good, forgettable story, a lot of funny bits. Just as good as anything Disney has done lately. Good romp, but not anything that will stick with me. 6/10
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02/07/13 - Road To Perdition
American Beauty was very deliberate, even slow with it's tale, and it worked really well. The melodramatic seriousness of it played very well against the twisted characters and events. It added up to some great comedy with a serious edge, and it all played pretty subtly. Road To Perdition is anything but subtle. Sam Mendes has cranked up the melodrama, cranked up the Big Moments With Music, cranked up the message, and ignored the fact that he was making what is essentially a straightforward gangster revenge picture. Which isn't necessarily a bad choice, except that the characters and themes are all very serious and muted and when you add how heavily and seriously the film plays everything, it can get pretty overbearing, even crossing into eye-rolling melodrama at times. The concentration on "what the film is REALLY about" leaves the whole thing without much energy, especially for a gangster revenge picture. ...The photography and lighting is very stylised, very stage-like. It's a pretty cool look, and fits with the stylised action scenes and storytelling. The music reminded me of American Beauty, except that it tended to clobber the audience over the head. The acting is quite good, and Jude Law again steals his scenes with his great character acting. When you get down to it, all these choices and talent add up to a storytelling style that is actually really, really cool. And the story they're trying to tell is a great little piece. But the story and the storytelling style just don't go together very well. What could have been a small and powerful gangster flick got stretched too thin with the overbearing treatment of it all. It feels like a misfire; it's the wrong story plugged into the American Beauty mould. It's got great parts, it just adds up to less than the sum of them. 6/10.
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02/11/15 - Roger Dodger
I don't know how to describe this movie other to say that it's a lot like what the trailer implies but much better, or that it's like American Pie and In The Company Of Men mixed up and sifted so all the good parts are left. The music is awesome. The shaky closeup cinematography feels like a drunken night on the town--which is perfect for the film (despite some of the complaints you might hear). The energy stays high, the dialogue is sharp, the acting is fantastic--not just by Campbell Scott, but especially by Jesse Eisenberg. This is a film with a real bite and spirit and energy, with deep and substantial characters that really arc and dovetail...this is a great film. 9/10
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00/11/16 - Rollercoaster
Local indy flick. Good mood; visuals of an abandoned amusement park always set a poignant tone, especially against a story of teens who are losing their childhood. I didn't find the story quite came together to match the strength of the atmosphere though... 6/10
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01/12/29 - The Royal Tenenbaums
It's no Rushmore, though I thought it repeated a bit too many Rushmore motifs at times. I hope Wes isn't running out of ideas, or just trying to recapture the brilliance of it by repeating himself. But it would be difficult to live up to Rushmore anyway. Tenenbaums does stand on its own as one of those Wes Anderson signature comedies with a lot of heart. And an amazingly good soundtrack. And great characters. It's just spread out more, so less focused, so it doesn't all tie together as well as it probably should. There's lots of good moments though, and no bad scenes. And there's one scene that made me laugh harder than I have in a very long time. I think it's one of those films that'll grow on me over time, and after another viewing. 8/10
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06/02/26 - Running Scared
Imagine a hyped-up hollywood knockoff attempt at Snatch plus Pulp Fiction but with all the good dialogue taken out and replaced with some mediocre lines and some extra gunfire. Imagine it was shot by some hyped-up knockoff of Tony Scott plus Robert Zemeckis. Sound like a good time? I don't know either. I still don't. Entertaining but reprehensible? Is that a bad thing? I'm going to deduct a point for characters constantly bringing kids along just to leave them in the car, the writers dropping them in and out of the plot whenever convenient with no regard for motivation or common sense. 4/10
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04/05/01 - The Saddest Music In The World
Unlike anything I've seen. Imagine David Lynch were Canadian and living in the 20s, and he made a comedy. Except with proper narrative structure. Only recommended to the adventurous. I found it quite endearing, and it was certainly memorable enough to bring up the score. 7/10
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08/02/03 - The Savages
The acting is good and everything, but I'm not sure if these are deep characters or just boring people plus a string of random events to make scenes out of. I figured it would have something to say about life and death and letting go since that seems to be the whole point, but it's not really about anything if you ask me. I guess it's about tone, which for these people is sadly shuffling through a half-assed existence? I guess I should respect that they don't get sappy with anything, just playing something sad about real life straight and unblinking and trying to find some grace and dark humour in it... but on paper it sounds more interesting than watching it struck me. 4/10
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01/02/10 - Saving Silverman
Dumb. But not bad. Whatever. 4/10
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03/10/08 - School Of Rock
So there's this new film from director Richard Linklater (Waking Life) and writer Mike White (Chuck & Buck). It stars Jack Black. And it's about Rock music, and it's number 1 at the box office. Who woulda thunk it? It's great that these smart people did it, because they know to pay respect to music, they know not to pander (too much), and especially Jack Black knows how to entertain. I'll stop wasting your time: it's funny as hell, the sappy story beats don't really work, the script is a little lazy, Jack Black carries the whole movie upon his immense comic talent, the kids are pretty cool, and the movie respects rock enough to make you want to turn off your hiphop, house, or whiny alternative shit and start a real rock band. 7/10
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06/09/24 - The Science Of Sleep
I love Michel Gondry. I even love his first movie Human Nature. Eternal Sunshine is a 10/10. His low tech imagery (immediate, expressionist) puts high tech effects (calculated, realist) to serious shame. This is a very personal movie to him and you can tell. The main character Stephane is him. The problem is as a personal film it shares his (and Stephane's) personal flaw... it gets caught up in the sidetracks of dreams (imagery, moments) so much that it starts sabotaging its goal, gets confused about what the goal even is, and ultimately ruins what should have been totally successful. Although that is the point of the story, and the audience should align with Stephane's journey. But the danger is that the audience more likely matches the girl's perspective the whole way through; amusement and fascination giving way to confusion and frustration. Is overflowing imagination and originality enough to make up for the flaws? 6/10
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01/08/15 - The Score
For a movie concerned 100% with the execution of a heist, they could have made the key points a little more feasible. But it achieves its modest goals. Eddie and Brando are good, the rest of the movie was phoned in. 5/10
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05/10/17 - Serenity
Fun enough. Can't outrun the cliches it harvests though. I can really enjoy a good B-movie, but this one doesn't follow through where it counts. The only real laughs are in the trailer, and the stock characters don't get enough depth to make the drama play...except the main character I like. Nothing is actually wrong--this is pretty good for a TV show--just the 'Han Solo has his own show' thing combined with a plot devoid of character conflict doesn't float a feature film. 5/10
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01/09/17 - Session 9
Kinda scary here and there, but mostly just tense. It's nice that it's based more in real phenomenon (mental disorder) than the supernatural. The set is the star of the show though. Interesting note: it's shot on high-def 24fps digital cameras, the same way Star Wars 2 is. Hopefully this isn't the future of film, cause it still looks fairly video. High res enough, but it just doesn't have the depth of colour. Regardless, the movie is pretty par. 5/10
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01/07/04 - Sexy Beast
Overall entertaining. More style than substance, and not really a ton of style. Substance wise, the two major characters are quite cool, especially Ben Kingsley as a stuborn, violent, unpredictable lunatic. Funny. But motivations are cloudy. It's watchable. 5/10
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01/01/27 - Shadow Of The Vampire
Very stylish, the premise runs out of steam, not really scary, but sometimes clever and funny, great performances, probably cooler if you've seen Nosferatu but I haven't. 6/10
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00/06/20 - Shaft
Some good scenes and great lines, interesting structure and no weak moments, but on the whole it was kinda unfocused. 6/10
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03/02/07 - Shanghai Knights
On one hand, you can't go wrong when you put Owen Wilson in a movie making jokes with Jackie Chan doing some stunts. On the other hand, you could meet the absolute bare minimum expectations for a premise like that. Ie, an ass story, but with Owen's natural funny delivery and an aging Jackie's kungfu rehash. By the way, when you're David Dobkin, and you didn't write the script, and your movie is based on Owen and Jackie's improv, you don't give yourself an up-front "A David Dobkin Film" credit. 5/10
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00/05/26 - Shanghai Noon
This movie rules. The first two thirds of the film is unbelievably good, though it weakens here and there toward the end. But fantastic humour and action throughout. See it. 8/10
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03/05/25 - The Shape Of Things
From Neil Labute, the dude behind In The Company Of Men comes a movie reminiscent of that superb film, but from a female perspective instead of male. It's funny how I've read reviews that use BOTH movies to denounce him as a misogynist. Men manipulate women, he's against women. Women manipulate men, he's against women. Idiots. Anyway, this movie has somewhat the same kind of teeth as Company, but the characters are just more thin, and the plot a little less interesting and more predictable. Instead of there being real people on the screen with real motives, it seems more like it's just ideas of people on the screen going through the motions of the plot instead of obeying any kind of human truth, blah blah blah. It still works, though. I found it interesting to experience what it must be like for women to watch In The Company Of Men. Warning to women: don't try to buy your boyfriend a new shirt or otherwise try to 'adjust' his fashion immediately after he's seen this. 6/10
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04/09/26 - Shaun Of The Dead
Zombie comedy. But it doesn't make fun of zombies or zombie movies, it's just a british comedy with proper characters and interpersonal conflicts, but the catalyst of the story is 'zombie attack'. So it's got the big laughs, and occasionally some pretty harsh zombie gore. The only problems with the movie is when they switch genres in the middle of a scene. Like they're running from zombies, the zombies are hot on their heels, then they stop and stand there and have a 5 minute argument about how they hate eachother or love eachother or whatever until there's a resolution and they go "oh yeah, the zombies are standing here waiting to chase us, let's get back to it." So the movie suffers here and there with soap-opera on-the-nose dialogue, but for the most part it's solid zombie fun and action. 7/10
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06/10/09 - Shortbus
You thought Brokeback Mountain was a litmus-test movie? Girls, take your date to this one and you'll very quickly see what the guy is made of. It definitely won't put you to sleep like Brokeback; it moves at a good pace, has laughs, and is generally entertaining even if some of that entertainment comes from simple shock (not unlike Jackass...). Although it has to be said that the graphic sex/nudity gets unremarkable pretty quickly, and that's the real point of this film: "Get over it." It was designed partly as a weapon against the puritan mentality, though it doesn't get heavyhanded about it. It does it just by the way it comes across as "Look at it. Look. See? No big deal...it's actually pretty silly when you look at it". The movie is even patriotic, or at least trying to reclaim the idea of freedom. The only villain in this story is narrowmindedness... or more specifically the common desire to hole up and be self-absorbed and excluding, instead of reaching out and accepting and being honest. Things go horribly wrong when people enter things for the wrong reasons or with bad assumptions, but with the right context all these "dangerous" things are just fun and real and ultimately freeing. So when you add it all up, the movie is made of this muddle of characters that aren't quite spot on, ideas that aren't quite clear, and stories that don't quite intertwine or resolve properly, but the enjoyment comes from that muddle, from the lightness of it not being too deliberate, from the way the odd notes come together in an interesting chord...the tone of it all somehow speaks clearly to the point even though the plot doesn't. 7/10
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01/05/20 - Shrek
Mostly technically impressive, but that doesn't stop it from being pretty pedestrian and a little light on laughs and emotion and character. It works, but it doesn't shine. 6/10
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04/05/31 - Shrek 2
A pop-culture reference is not a joke. A small collection of jokes is not a character. Gags are not a story. Especially gags like "are we there yet?". Hey, have you ever had a movie ruined by people in the theatre who are enjoying it too much? Like bursts of screaming laughter behind your head when the hollywood sign shows up on screen but -- spoilers alert!!!!! -- it says "Far Far Away" on it instead of "Hollywood". OMG LOL!!! I think some people need to laugh to prove to the rest of the audience that they're smart enough to understand the reference. As if Burger King is so subtle that only a cultural connoisseur could recognize its logo. It would be a different story if anybody laughed at the REAL jokes. I hate people. 4/10
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04/11/07 - Sideways
Alexander Payne! After Citizen Ruth and Election, he made About Schmidt which was way calmed down and ultra subtle. This one is sorta inbetween, carrying a kind of subtle-serious comedy tone like Schmidt, but instead of all the drama being internalized in a mute Jack Nicholson, we're blessed with a pair of guys who can actually yell at eachother and swear a bunch. It's basically one of those buddy road trip get-laid movies, but instead of teens and wacky hijinks and gratuitous nudity it's an educated divorcee and his marrying-in-his-late-30s buddy, wine tasting in the Napa Valley, and wacky hijinks. It's a sneaky kind of funny, and there's some sneaky bits of honest drama. The audience tends to get a bit confused on how to react though, or at least it did when I saw it with a bunch of oldies who were expecting another "lighthearted" or "easygoing" comedy like About Schmidt. It was the kind of audience that laughs hysterically all the way through the Meet The Fockers trailer. This movie deserves better than that audience. 8/10
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02/08/02 - Signs
What's great about Signs is that Shyamalan doesn't just understand the "it's scarier when you don't show it" philosophy, he also understands that things can get stale pretty fast if you only ever allude to the scary thing. In this film he forgoes the '2 hours of slow build to the one big plot point' approach of his previous two films, and this time throws out major events pretty regularily. The film is still all buildup, but by the end the film is in a place you never imagined it would get to at the beginning. My only quibble is that while this is a film with several really great scenes, there is one bad one where it seems like it's trying too hard to tie together a bunch of disparate themes that were great on their own but weakened when tied to eachother. But without that scene there would have been some unanswered questions, which wouldn't have been in the spirit of this movie, which from the opening credits really wears the banner of good old classic filmmaking. 8/10
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05/04/03 - Sin City
Sin City is a small collection of great short books, and watching this movie is pretty much exactly like sitting down and reading all the books in one sitting; overall it's pretty awesome but the long stretch of it does start to wear you out. Some stories and characters are more interesting than others; Dwight just doesn't carry the weight of the tortured Marv and Hartigan. Marv is the absolute best, and his section shows exactly what Hellboy deserved from a movie and didn't get. It's just so fun to watch an unstoppable monster (with good intentions) get shitkicked for half an hour by monsters way worse than him. The joy of Sin City is how completely unredeeming everyone and everything is. The good guys make most movie villians look like sissies, so the bad guys are evil beyond evil. The violence is extreme, so harsh it crosses into dark comedy. Sin City is a hell of a place to visit, and finally we get a "comic book movie" that brings us there properly. 9/10
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04/09/19 - Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow
Imagine Indiana Jones without interesting characters, without any stunts, without any humour, and with the story replaced with people telling eachother what is happening off-screen. All that should be asked of an action/adventure movie is be a string of exciting sequences strung together by logic and interesting characters. To be great, just make it memorable and amusing. Sky captain starts off feeling exciting and full of potential, but loses its joy as everything fails to develop, and even moves backwards. The characters start off as cliches (bad) but then *lose* traits until they have no personality at all (worse). The rest of the movie matches pace, as the potential for memorable sequences is replaced by a derivative lack of imagination and eventually just plain nonsense. 3/10
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08/11/26 - Slumdog Millionaire
Danny Boyle does his version of a Bollywood movie. What an awesome hybrid. What a great portrait of India. And it's great fun for any audience, funny and dramatic, kinetic, great-looking, great music... 9/10
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01/01/19 - Snatch
Like Lock Stock, only without the moments of tension and drama, and missing the originality. So still funny, but without any of the gravity. That lack of gravity could be a good thing, but Ritchie doesn't put it to his advantage and instead makes a cartoon where you don't care about the characters or their predicaments and so the tension scenes fall flat. Basically a collection of scenes that are alternately amusing and kinda boring, but the whole thing is steeped in an aggressive style which scores points. 7/10
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00/02/09 - Snow Falling On Cedars
Beautiful. Every shot has at least one frame that would make a stunning still to hang on your wall. Edited quite well, though a little bit too Soderbergh in places without being as good. I liked the story too. I've heard it faulted for slow pacing, but I found it patient and interesting. 7/10
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02/11/27 - Solaris
The meditative pace and beautiful visuals hooked me right away. I settled in comfortably and was ready to get my brain tickled. This was a near-future world, but one where people take the technology for granted, where the technology isn't loud. It was like 2001. But then it started getting creepy, putting it somewhere between 2001 and The Shining. I was eating it up, it seemed like this was going to be a nice mood piece and it was gearing up to freak me out and/or blow my mind. I enjoyed just that anticipation, even though it didn't pay off in any of the ways I was expecting. I was expecting snakes to pop out of somebody's eyeballs and see characters experiencing their personal hells, but it wasn't the road the film went down. When all is said and done, this film is really just a pure sci-fi flick. It's not about tech and toys, it's about exploring concepts of the human psyche, concepts that don't lend themselves to a contemporary setting, but need a "what if" sci fi scenario so they can get to their point. I quite enjoyed the flick--mostly for what I was projecting onto it myself, not anything the movie actually accomplished--but it's not one that I'd go out of my way to recommend to people. Still, you could do far worse with a night at the movies. 7/10
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04/03/26 - Spartan
Watching it was reminiscent of watching an episode of a really really good TV series. Like if Alias was really good instead of dumb as shit. Wasn't Mamet's last movie "Heist"? ...It's like he's decided to relax in his filmmaking, and just pick whatever the hot genre is this year, and then make the purest Mamet-style genre picture he can make, just to show everyone else how to have a little fun and show some originality while strictly obeying the boundaries of the genre. This movie should have just been called "Political Thriller". (Although "Spartan" is just too fitting and clever a name for this story). ...I just hope he never does a movie called "Serial Killer". Although with Mamet behind it, I'd still go see it. And like it. 7/10
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03/05/31 - Spellbound
The National Spelling Bee movie. Well edited, it's a nice little piece that starts by introducing us to 8 different examples of nerds (the spazz, the study-hard, the reluctant-brainiac-who-doesn't-try...), paints a picture of the American melting pot of ambition, success, and fitting in, and then goes on to show the kids all competing in the really difficult and inherently flawed competition. It's a cool documentary, and worthy of its academy nomination. It's a nice little character study, with some of the kids and their families being really interesting. (though with so many kids and little time, it doesn't get very deep into any of them) I wish the televised bees would learn from this movie and not print the word on the screen for the audience before the kid spells it. The film lets us spell along and second-guess, seeing it through the kids' eyes, and really understand how freakin ridiculous it is. 8/10
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03/03/02 - Spider
Not what I expected from the trailer. To be more specific; way, way simpler than I thought it would be. There's really not much there, so the long scenes of "atmosphere" are always near the line that seperates 'creepy' from 'tedious'. That said, it's actually got a neat little plot, tight and clean, it just drags it out without shading in any of the space with anything very interesting. On one hand, Cronenberg made a choice to keep things calm, knowing that wild hallucinations and punchy pacing would betray the tone of the character and dilute the reality of the plot, which is the real key to the film working. But on the other hand, sticking too much to Spider's reality leaves the audience on the outside of the character, unable to empathize, instead just observing a guy who's always mumbling and acting weird in ways we don't understand, diluting the effectiveness of his actions. Still, while I feel there were deep flaws, I kind of liked it. It just wasn't the film experience it should have been. 5/10
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02/05/03 - Spider-Man
I totally, fully enjoyed Spider-Man. I think Sam Raimi was an excellent choice, and I think he made excellent choices. Some people might not think it's as cool, but I love the fact that they didn't try to dress it up dark and "realistic" and serious (like X-Men), but decided to embrace the sheer comic-ness of it and have some fun. But despite the playful tone, they manage to successfully tug on the heartstrings and make a compelling character drama. It works on a lot of levels; I'd dare to say it would make a great date movie. And the CG isn't nearly as bad as I had feared. ...But try not to get too hyped about it or you might find it a let-down. The trick is to keep expectations low and be pleasantly surprised. I walked in blank, and I was really impressed by how well they executed on practically every level. Nearly a 9. 8/10
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04/07/03 - Spider-Man 2
This is mostly a really brilliant movie, the drawback being it was made out of a script that was 1 or 2 rewrites short of being done. (Do I smell studio pressure?) The on-the-nose dialogue and extendo monologue nonsense really undercuts the characters I loved in the first movie. Just a little tweak here and there would have made the switch from "I am a character who is serving the plot" to "I am a real human being making emotional decisions." Poor Harry, nothing to work with. And MJ and Peter barely hang on, the real soul of the first movie replaced with a few Dawson's Creek watery-eye scenes. Spidey 2 was *this* close to brilliant, and mostly IS brilliant (Go fight scenes!), but it just tweaked me wrong here and there and spoiled my overall joy. The first movie tweaked me wrong in a similar way, but only in a couple action scene scenarios, which is very forgivable compared to letting the characters down. 7/10
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07/05/06 - Spider-Man 3
The first one sold me all the way on the characters, even though the action scenes were iffy here and there. The second one kicked up the action scene stuff, but reduced some great characters into one-dimensional exposition devices, which killed the heart for me. This one is the next step down the stairs. I thought it was fine, but I can't really think of anything good to say. It does redeem some of the characters a bit, but still has painful dialogue scenes mixed in with the funny character scenes. It's not a loud flashing problem, but it bugged me that the action scenes were really un-inventive. The prime example is the Sandman effects: Truly amazing work, but in service of him doing boring things. A shape-shifting sand guy can do anything, but is never seen using his powers except to fight, and anything he does was already done 10 times better by the T-1000. With everything he could do he just goes "rar" and hits people. Wooh. Venom did sweet F.A. as well. Then major characters team up and absolutely refuse to use their skills together to create a unique action scene. It's hard to believe that what ended up in the movie were the best gags they could come up with. It's like one guy brainstormed for 5 minutes, they said "good enough" and then spent 100 million on it. The "too many characters" criticism is pretty valid: any of the characters that were introduced in this one could have been completely removed without affecting the plot at all. So here's the thing: I didn't mind this movie. But it's a struggle to find things to praise. It's adequate at best. 6/10
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02/10/05 - Spirited Away
I'm a big Miyazaki fan. Princess Mononoke is one of my favorite films ever. Spirited Away is just as beautiful, has some moments that are just as great, but the whole doesn't hang together as well. But it's not meant to. Mononoke was an epic for adults, Spirited Away is an epic for kids. It has a stink monster, it has ghosts, it's filled with wonder and scary and dreams and ideas and indelible images. I can only describe it by approximating it as a Japanese 'Alice In Wonderland'. Still, the plot left me a little flat, but it's structured in a fascinating way that's ideal for kids: filled with moments, not messages. 7/10
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00/04/23 - Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation 2000
Really good this year. A couple weak ones, a couple brilliant ones, and the rest interesting and fun. 8/10
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00/10/15 - Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted 2000
Don Hertzfeldt's piece is awesome, Pixar's is really good, the rest go from pretty good to total crap. The thing as a whole? - I guess 5/10
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01/04/05 - Spy Kids
If only the rest of the people responsible for children's entertainment respected kids' intelligence as much as Robert Rodriguez does. This movie is a lot of fun, with real characters and great jokes. I enjoyed it quite a bit myself, and I'm almost a grownup now. 7/10
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02/08/17 - Spy Kids 2
It feels kind of slapped together--the plot points don't really connect to eachother, they're more like a random stream-of-consciousness of ideas. But I suppose that fits with the vibe of its target audience. It does, after all, have a lot of energy to keep it going. I didn't find it as endearing as the first one, and the digital photography really is the opposite of warm and organic, but that's also due to the lighting and tons of bluescreening. Still there's good stuff: Lots of paying tribute to Ray Harryhausen, a bunch of funny jokes, an hilarious performance by Antonio Banderas... It's good for kids, only okay for me. 5/10
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08/05/12 - Standard Operating Procedure
Pretty well made, but ultimately I didn't find it that compelling. Unlike Fog Of War, there's not much in the way of enlightenment of politics nor the human condition. You know the story, this is the documentation of the people that were there and took the fall, and you can decide how much you think they deserved it. 4/10
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02/11/22 - Standing In The Shadows Of Motown
You know all those brilliant Motown hits that have the same sound? It's because it was all one group of studio musicians who played them. They didn't get any credit, nobody knows who they were, but they were such an important force in pop music history. This movie attempts to give them their due, but besides being slow and poorly structured, it doesn't even really provide any solid information about how big their role actually was. If anything, it tries to paint a picture like these guys wrote all the songs themselves, but doesn't back it up with any kind of facts, and even what it paints leaves you thinking "what about the external songwriters they keep mentioning?". So at the end I wasn't left knowing any more than I knew going in, except I got to see what the time was like and where some of these guys ended up, and I got to hear Joan Osborne sing a couple times which was cool. Besides her, I found the song sections kinda dragged. They keep throwing entire song performances on the screen, but without any context it's pretty empty. At least Joan got to mention beforehand what the song meant to her which made it interesting. So I think you could get more out of this subject matter by reading Ebert's review which summarizes the facts, and then listen to a bunch of old Motown and know that it was really all one tight group of groundbreaking jazz musicians who sweatshopped day and night to make all those songs that good. The film is for hardcore Motown fans only. 4/10
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09/05/08 - Star Trek
Did you like Mission Impossible 3? Because this is more Mission Impossible 3 than Star Trek. I mean, I loved it. In the theatre. I recommend anyone to see it. But afterwards that "loved it" effect kind of wore off and the only impression I'm left with is how brilliant a job they did of a franchise "reboot". They included all the original ingredients intact (characters, catchphrases) but put a new spin on each one, gave every character something to do (and made them human!), and filled it with references to the source material that both add a lot if you get it, but if you don't it still works and is totally enjoyable. Plus, it's not technically a reboot! The only criticism, and I'm definitely not alone on this, is it's just too bad the story doesn't have an actual idea or conundrum to mull over. It's really about a bunch of kids suddenly in command of The Enterprise. Which I buy, it's about the characters first, the situations are for the sequels I suppose. Oh, I also dug the look. Clearly they wanted Star Trek to be clean, but they didn't want it to be sanitized and artificial...so they went with light spills everywhere, where everything is so clean and bright that it's messing with the photography! In other words, there's a ton of anamorphic lens flares. Enough that I was sitting there at times wondering if they did it all live by pointing lights into the camera or if they added flares in post. This is what happens to your science-minded viewer when you don't put any science in your science fiction. ...Or philosophy. I'd also take philosophy. "Stop the bad man in the dark dirty ship" doesn't count as nuance. 8/10
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02/05/16 - Star Wars: ep2 - Attack Of The Clones
Unlike Phantom Menace, Clones actually manages to expand the Star Wars universe with things that feel like part of the universe. While the opening city may be a little too Blade Runner and the full-CG characters a little too cartoon-seeming, by and large this film actually feels like Star Wars instead of a shoddy immitation. The universe itself is compelling enough for the fans to swallow the whole film and love it, despite its major flaws and amateurish storytelling. The widely-criticized acting isn't terrible so much as the script is so bad that nobody could ever be expected to pull off saying the words. I don't blame the actors, I blame the script and directing. The love interest has zero chemistry, the intercutting of the two "meanwhile" threads gets tiresome, the politics are bland, and basically the meat of the film is mostly quite bad. Luckily this time Lucas was smart enough to evenly disperse moments of good stuff in there to hold everything up, so it's never bad for long enough to collapse. The other reason I found it comfortably watchable is the love story is so bad it becomes a joke, the dialogue and staging so anemic that I found it totally entertaining. The saving grace of Clones' cheesy center is that it's sandwiched between tasty bookends. I found the beginning surprisingly good, and everyone agrees that the final act is Star Wars in proper good form. I suppose it could be argued that a cheese sandwich built on wicked Sci-Fi bread is the ultimate Star Wars experience, but to rate this film I have to stick by how much I enjoyed my time in the theatre. Now, the original trilogy is blown so far out of proportion, and was so long ago, that I'll never be able to properly judge it. I give it big points for inventiveness at the time, but that doesn't automatically carry over to now; each film has to earn it on its own. All I can do is go with my gut, which is to say it's no New Hope or Empire, but it stands up to Jedi and certainly destroys the disaster Menace. The series is back on its feet, but this installation still only engages me as a 6/10.
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05/05/19 - Star Wars: ep3 - Revenge Of The Sith
New improved Star Wars, now featuring:
- Obi-Wan riding a lizard.
- Yoda riding a wookie.
- "Venetian Blind" wipe.
- Darth Vader playing Sony PSP.
- Kung Fu Battle R2D2 beats up multiple assailants.
- Frankenstein.
- Surprise twist: Padme delivers triplets: names one Han.
- Surprise twist #2: Two scenes containing dialogue that actually plays well, one even contains the word "love"! 7/10
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01/05/28 - Startup.com
Good if you're interested in how businesses get started and the Web. And what happens when friends go into business together. Brilliant for high-tech/web professionals, but for the rest of us it's a bit less entertaining. I'm personally somewhere in between. 6/10
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00/12/27 - State And Main
Really funny and spot-on movie about making movies. Specifically, it contrasts the down and dirty elements of filmmaking (coaching crybaby actors, securing permits and budgets) with the "pure" elements (telling an important story). Mamet brilliantly parallels this 'details vs purity' conflict by sending the hardened hollywood folk into a sleepy little town. This flick scores extra entertainment points if you're familiar with how producers, writers, and directors get along. 9/10
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03/10/12 - The Station Agent
Ah fuck it. I'm tired of saying "well acted" and "meditative pacing" or whatever. Even though actors can inhabit a character with such skill that the character seems like a real person, and a movie can skate by on the acting and unspoken internalized drama alone, I'm growing tired of movies like this. While "In The Bedroom" is worthwhile, this film is more like "Love Liza". I'm running out of patience for movies where the plot is that nothing really happens, everything that DOES happen happens off screen, and the main character goes out of his way not to speak and just wants to be left alone. As sweet and realistic as it may be, and as much as some of the characters kind of learn to look at life a little differently but not really, sometimes your movie is really just boring and pointless. Due respect to the actors, the excellent dignity of the piece, the cool treatment of the central character, and the subtle humour and everything, but can we shake things up just a little bit? Just a little bit of meaningful drama? This movie is fine, but when all is said and done it hasn't really achieved anything very interesting. 5/10
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02/03/06 - Storytelling
Todd Solondz was inspired by American Movie. Not by the film itself, but by its fans; namely the hipsters who sit on their intellectual ironic-distance perches and laugh at the documentary's subjects. The same phenomenon came with Project Grizzly. Solondz's point is that these films feature people pouring themselves out, people chasing their dreams with all their heart, and in return they get people laughing. But what the hell have those people ever done to give them that right?
Solondz first makes another point though: as soon as you start writing, everything becomes fiction. And it's true, the "reality" of American Movie is no more real than Spinal Tap once the editors have gotten involved. Who in the world isn't laughable if you pick an angle to play and paint them that way?
Solondz wanted to make a film to make these points, but he obviously realised that passing his own judgement would be hypocritical. So instead of observing from up high, he goes down and wallows around in the cliches and triteness and exploitive conventions that critics find fault with, but are in fact the actual reality of people's lives. Which is really kind of a brilliant idea.
Now, it's difficult to rate this movie, and not just because it's a film concerned with criticizing criticism. It's mostly because it turns out to be a pretty slow and overly drawn out film that's only obliquely coherent. And the whole "criticising criticism" thing is a big circular argument with just too many layers of irony to make sense of. The film makes jokes and then tells you you shouldn't be laughing. It uses bad conventions and then implies that it's on purpose and for a reason. Its concept automatically defends attacks of "this is bad" with "but that's the point".
Bottom line: Storytelling puts forth some really interesting ideas but it doesn't really make a point so much as stir the debate around and around until you can't tell one side of the argument from the other. But it's doing it on purpose, or at least it's pretending to. Is that good? I don't know. But I do know that I'll be thinking about the core ideas for a while. 5/10
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00/04/02 - The Straight Story
A slow, patient, beautiful meditation on being at the end of one's life. Landscapes and characters that are rich with simplicity and reality and kindness and sometimes gentle tragedy. Based on a true story about a 73 year old man who sets out to drive his riding lawnmower across the state to visit his estranged, dying brother. Poetic. 8/10
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07/07/27 - Sunshine
Love Danny Boyle. Not sure what's with the writer though, this is the second time he's completely thrown out the central conflict in the third act to add a human antagonist...I mean, I see why he'd have to do it and why he finds it interesting to personify the central conflict, but this is the second time it mostly just stole the joy. Perhaps the problem is in both movies the first two acts are just too brilliant, more than the script deserves. The visuals and directing are so good it makes me ashamed. Cast is great too. And it has the second-most-realistic "vacuum of space without a space suit" scene I've seen. (number one is 2001) 7/10
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07/08/18 - Superbad
So good. So, so good. 8/10
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06/06/30 - Superman Returns
I appreciate the reverence for the source material... I should have caught up with Superman I and II since this was made to be a new Superman III (ditching the way-off-course III and IV that were made in the 80s). So it's got the titles and the music and the actor looks and plays things like Reeves enough that it's great and a little spooky. But the evil plot was pretty dumb, and the chemistry between Clark and Lois was no Peter and MJ, so I mostly spent the long runtime wondering about Superman's hair. It doesn't burn on atmospheric re-entry or rocket exhaust, how does dude get a haircut? (I got the 'correct' answer afterwards from Superman nerds; he burns it off by reflecting his own heat-vision at it. I guess only Superman can defeat Superman's Hair. But wouldn't Kryptonite scissors be easier and make more sense?) 5/10
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04/05/08 - Super Size Me
It's not news to anybody that eating junk is bad for you, but there's something about watching this guy do this to himself that really brings it home. The results are totally staggering. He keeps us entertained for the whole journey with his sense of humour and a constant stream of interesting data, interviews with great subjects, and a respect for the scientific method. The one thing that really stuck out to me was that eating shit all the time isn't just a question of the shape of your body, it's a question of mood, energy, mental health... I left thinking about how much we're saturated with ads for Prozac and Viagra, how the schools seem to be full of kids medicated to stay focused and happy, and wondering how different it would be if people just fucking ate right. Seeing this movie has changed the way I eat. 8/10
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02/03/07 - Super Troopers
Totally in the spirit of the old summer-camp movies, snobs versus slobs, dumb fun, occasional flashes of gratuitous nudity. What it has going for it are some good characters and a not-trying-too-hard attitude that gives it charisma. The jokes and flow are hit and miss, but it's consistently entertaining. 5/10
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08/11/15 - Synecdoche, New York
Shortly after Real Time we get another movie about facing mortality, but instead of the straight-and-simple approach, we get the most complicated movie I can think of. Actually I think it's about a lot more than that? The first hour moves pretty well, but then it starts to make a big fuss about spinning its wheels and going kind of nowhere. Not nowhere, but it folds in on itself. Intentionally. It's tough, because Kaufman is putting us in the shoes of a man whose grip on reality is failing, including his grasp on identity, chronology, and his goals, so the audience is likewise cast adrift without something to root for or even understand. It's challenging. It has some great touches, and it's memorable, but I wonder if it would have come across better Spike Jonze's way. This one seemed to lose pace and not emphasize the right things. I even read an earlier draft of the script afterwards, trying to get a better handle on what the movie was actually about or what might have been lost from page to screen. Watching it a second time I'm less convinced the smoke and mirrors are concealing something profound. 7/10
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05/12/27 - Syriana
Uh oh, I don't think I really followed this one. I mean, I was with it, but then... wait, why was he doing that and who did that other thing at the same time and were they together or not? Oh shit. I blame the "loud nose breather" beside me for distracting me for the entire movie. I had to stuff a napkin in my left ear. If you can't breathe properly, watch movies at home! You and your sense-of-entitlement wife. Aged yuppies trying to make a political statement with their movie viewing. Then they'll go home and brag to all their "friends" (competitors) about how much they loved it and everyone has to see it because oh, oil, it's all about oil. At least the movie is smarter than them. 6/10
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00/01/18 - The Talented Mr. Ripley
Well, the bad guy is our protagonist, which is cool.  And there's no cheesy thriller cliches.  And there's some interesting angles on blurring together hating yourself, loving someone else, and wanting to be someone else.  But nonetheless, the boring bits took away from the cool psychological bits, leaving me kind of opinionless on this film. 6/10
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03/02/16 - Talk To Her
It's really stark and realistic... tragic and sad and serious and warm. It goes interesting places but doesn't really tie together in the end, so it's just an organic little journey that trades back and forth between two key characters. I really like the filmmaker's style, he somehow presents some really ludicrous material and makes it all live and flow and look beautiful. This movie is good, but it's no All About My Mother. 7/10
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04/10/17 - Team America: World Police
Simultaneously funnier and more serious than I expected. This movie was filmed inside George W's mind. By the way, the people who criticize it for being offensive are retarded. Sure it may give us horrible stereotypes of some groups of people, but it does it with ALL the groups of people it portrays, ESPECIALLY the Americans. It's not without reason, it's the *point*. Anyway, what I really appreciate is that they mock the hell out of cookie-cutter hollywood movie conventions, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME executing those very conventions far better than 95% of hollywood movies manage to. So first they insult shitty action movies by pointing out why they suck, then they follow through by doing it better. The "hero hits rock bottom" scene is one of cinema's finest. Anyway, the frequency and intensity of the laughs are really why I loved it. Oh, the songs! 9/10
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03/07/03 - Terminator 3
There's so many ways that this movie could have gone wrong, and the trailers and the gossip around it only helped raise all the warning flags. So I just couldn't believe how well executed it all was. The script was tight, the action scenes were put together really, really well (they even smashed real cars! CG was used as sparingly as possible!). It just totally worked. T2 was perfect for me at the time it came out (it took itself seriously and I was young enough not to notice the cheese) and T3 is the perfect Terminator for me now (It's the perfect blend of serious and fun). It manages to walk the impossible tightrope between making reference to the old movies, doing its own thing, progressing the fiction, having fun with it, and delivering a steady stream of excellent action scenes. The one-liners are brilliant. I never thought it'd happen, but walking out of this one I couldn't wait for a Terminator 4. 8/10
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09/05/21 - Terminator Salvation
What a lazy script. When the movie tries to show people interacting, the "characters" just explain the plot at eachother. Luckily three of the actors are good enough to actually seem human despite the words and actions they're given. Christian Bale isn't one of them though, he's totally betrayed by the script. Now, if the action was memorable that would be okay, (I mean, remember how clunky most of the dialogue scenes in T2 were?) but it's not. The action here is a lot of commotion, but not a lot of coherence. At least T3 attempted to channel James Cameron's genius for structuring action. Actually, I'm pretty sure the latest Resident Evil sequel was better crafted than this. Oh yeah, the script is lazy for other reasons, like taking shortcuts by just doing the most obvious thing instead of anything thoughtful, basically stealing stock ideas that have been kicking around forever and doing them half-baked. You've seen it all before, done better. (Fire and steam factory, military guys yelling orders, a hacker saying computery stuff that makes no actual sense, nuclear generators that become a nuclear bomb if you explode them... do 10 minutes of research you lazy a-holes.) Not a shred of inventiveness or inspiration. So much effort, no thought. I suppose the core problem is really that the movie isn't actually about anything. I don't even know what the title refers to, other than most scenes involve different people trying to save someone or some vague thing. 4/10
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06/04/06 - Thank You For Smoking
Some good lessons in argument. It's not so much about cigarettes, it's really about this guy who's really good at playing 'the game', and what it takes to be that good and when, if ever, it can be turned off. 8/10
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08/01/13 - There Will Be Blood
The ending especially nails it home: this sits in company with Kubrick's best work. PT Anderson shows surpising restraint from his usual style, which is what draws the Kubrick comparison. The language isn't contemporary, there's no F-words, and the camera doesn't have his trademark crazy energy. It's a very well crafted and disciplined film, with really interesting characters who represent points of view that are perhaps more alive now than ever. The music, photography, acting...the point, everything, just great. 10/10
09/11/06 - This Is It
It's pretty cool to see that MJ still had it. It's just rehearsals, so it seemed clear he was only dancing and singing at 50-75%, but you can tell it's still all there. Especially in the moments where he can't help but get into it, even though he's trying to save it for the show. It's a little weird that they show each song in its entirety, even though it's just a rehersal--the picture and sound aren't necessarily very good and he's holding back, so it gets a little tedious. The between sections are much more interesting, but too brief--they avoid getting into the personality and just try to show us the show they were working on; honouring the man as the talent he still was. That is it. 5/10
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07/10/21 - 30 Days Of Night
Looks great, and there's a few really nice sequences, but it's a shame that the ball was dropped on the coherence of the plot. Stuff like the movie just cutting to "12 days later" when people didn't seem safe, people appearing/disappearing from locations at will, and vampires going deaf whenever it's convenient. It's a collection of little vignettes that are practically unrelated instead of the blow-by-blow story of survival that this needs to be. 5/10
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07/03/10 - 300
Looks amazing, there's some brilliant battle shots. The character designs are the best part. It's so heavily stylized that you can't tell what's effects and what's real... basically because even the real people are so touched up they're practically animated drawings. Which is neat to look at, but ultimately distancing: it makes Lord Of The Rings seem more realistic and heavy, opting instead for a sense of "rad!" I'm familiar with the story of Thermopylae as I read it in Gates Of Fire, and told well it's the ultimate true story of comradarie and sacrifice, a perfect war machine assembled and standing fast for days on end against an infinite force. Hopeless odds are outweighed by their vastly superior training, discipline, and equipment, as they endure a scrum of tens of thousands of men trying to force their way through an 18-metre wide passage. It has gravity enough to blow Gladiator out of the water. But this take on it misses the gravity, the comradarie, and the point of the sacrifice. They're not part of a greater strategy or context and so they don't actually accomplish anything. It's just a big exaggerated fight including crazy animals and monsters. On one hand that's kickass as is, but on the other what's the point of skipping the pure and simple sacrifice story while adding a bunch of political junk? The visuals are out of the park, but it's got no heart. 6/10
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07/09/07 - 3:10 To Yuma
A decent western. Some pretty cool characters in mostly good scenes. 6/10
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01/02/28 - A Time For Drunken Horses
I can't say that watching this film was an enjoyable moviegoing experience. It doesn't use drama or character to pull the audience through, it simply stands as a document of how rough day-to-day life can be for children in a place like Iran. At the age I was playing street hockey and watching cartoons, these kids were packing tires across mine fields to pay for an operation to prolong their dying brother's life. At age 15, these kids are more grown up than I'll be at 30, more hardened than I will ever know. My Western life and troubles suddenly feel extremely frivolous. 5/10
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00/05/16 - Timecode
In case you don't know, this film was shot in one 90 minute take with four DV cameras. It is presented as a 90 minute four-way splitscreen with no cuts. The scenes overlap sometimes and characters switch between panels and its all very slick and clever. Very interesting experiment, and I'm glad I saw it, but the technique is really the only memorable part of the film. Some moments work quite well, and they touch upon interesting concepts, but for the most part the story doesn't warrant the split screens. The movie is more about a 90 minute free-style improv, which they were having fun with and on that level it's quite successful. The realtime factor gives the film a certain funny energy. 7/10
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00/06/16 - Titan A.E.
Good visuals, okay story. 5/10
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04/02/21 - Touching The Void
The good thing about this is they didn't "hollywoodize" the story. So it's more of a documentary about a true story, rather than a dramatization. Even though most of the footage is reenacted, it's all on the screen just to support the narration by the real guys it happened to. Anyway, it's more fascinating in a PBS kinda way than actually entertaining and exciting in a movie way. Which is good, because that's what the story deserves. It's a hell of a story. 7/10
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Toy Story 2
They did everything right. I can't think of another sequel that manages to do everything so right. They actually give the characters new arcs, and this time the themes are deeper and actually poignant. The film is touching in places, not to mention hilarious. Perhaps better than the first. Brilliantly done. 10/10
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01/01/05 - Traffic
Several small, linked stories combine their individual points of view to present a big issue. Very well stitched together by Soderbergh, stylishly shot and very engrossing and interesting. But while it treads similar structural ground to Magnolia and Mononoke, it doesn't quite achieve the dramatic hook of those two films. Its narrative backbone isn't quite potent enough, which would be okay if the individual stories were more involving. But it's a small shortcoming of a beautiful film. Great performances and never boring during the two and a half hours. 9/10
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07/07/05 - Transformers
Has anybody else noticed that racism is getting fashionable again in America? I thought we were over "East Indian accent equals comedy", "sidekicks are laughably ethnic with silly religions", and "only the black guy dies". But yeah, it's fun. It strikes a goofy tone, which is a wise choice. Too bad they couldn't come up with a single interesting idea for what two transformers might do when fighting eachother. That's right, not a single memorable piece of choreography. The best parts by far are actually Bumblebee as an old Camaro with no special effects not talking. Entertaining movie, but I wouldn't watch it again. 5/10
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09/06/29 - Transformers 2
They actually did it, not a single moment of actual drama, emotion, or even coherence in an entire movie. A friend of mine animated the climactic shot of the hero destroying the villain, and I got a way bigger thrill (I smiled) seeing his name in the credits than I did watching the moment itself (Half-mast eyes, kind of checking out the fluid simulation). I couldn't care less about a single thing that happened during the entire thing. That's a lie, I did care to think how awkward it was that the robots kept cursing. ...So fine by me if you want to skip motivation, character, drama and just give me a "rollercoaster ride", but to do that you need to immerse me. Watch any scene from Children Of Men. Now watch Michael Bay never let a shot last longer than 40 frames, and never cut to a new shot that builds any understanding of what's happening. If you're not putting me there, either emotionally or physically, then the intended thrill of watching a fireworks display actually becomes the non-thrill of watching a fireworks display on TV. For 3 straight hours. 3/10
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02/10/23 - The Transporter
When you've got an action movie, and the story makes no sense, that's cool, I can deal with that. But when you've got an action movie, and the ACTION makes no sense? AND the story makes no sense? Well then I'm not just bored, I'm irritated. Remember how with Driven people were saying "the driving scenes are cool"? Well they weren't. The were bullshit. Random shots of cars zipping around and sometimes flying hundreds of feet through the air is not an "action driving scene". There's supposed to be a narrative thread to the action. A chain of events where actions leads to reactions, setups lead to payoffs. An action scene is a chain of events. People told me the action in The Transporter is cool. The Transporter has this one scene where they're chasing some semis and cars on the freeway in a crop duster at 100 feet, and then the crop duster is at 10,000 feet and he parachutes out, and then he's chasing the trucks in a parachute at 100 feet and gaining on them at 100kph ground speed, and the bad guys just stare at him for a minute to watch him land, and then they pull out their guns, and then he gets into the cab of the semi, but then the bad guy who was in a car is mysteriously now in the cab of the truck with him, and then he gets kicked out the front window, and then he's clinging to the underside of the rear of the semi trailer, where he finds a small lugwrench to throw, and then he's on top of the trailer. ...I think "The Transporter" that the title refers to is the 'matter transporter' that's teleporting people and weapons and vehicles around so that there can be lots of cool shots without any of them connecting together in any meaningful way. Oh yeah, and the story and characters make absolutely no sense, but like I said, that's beside the point. 2/10
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04/01/24 - The Triplets Of Belleville
A true 'animation' movie. Harking back to the days of old, this is a movie built on memorable characters who don't speak, doing things that make sense only according to the odd rules of their animated world. But the movie makes things interesting and unique with its slightly sad, off-kilter tone, some beautifully observed realism in the dog and the movements of many other characters, and some amazing (and often hilarious) art direction. Don't despair if you find it dragging in the middle, it does pick up again and go somewhere, just not where you might expect. Eventually it gives us a whole bunch of the best animated car crashes ever. 6/10
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08/09/26 - Tropic Thunder
It opens amazing but dwindles from there. Pretty good, but I don't remember any of it now. 5/10
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03/06/28 - 28 Days Later
Like a Londoner's Evil Dead... Good old-fashioned action horror. The story is actually really good too, except where it missteps toward the end. One thing I gotta say though, the whole zoomed-in shaking high-shutter-speed action thing? While it's effective and applicable sometimes to create confusion and make the audience fill in the blanks with their own imagination, it really sucks when you shoot EVERY scene that way. The action climax is severly hurt by the fact you can't tell where anyone is or where they're going or who's moving in what direction. Also, you can wait for video on this one, as it was shot on regular consumer-level DV video and the quality looks like ass a lot of the time. But good horror fun with some good scares. 7/10
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03/01/19 - 25th Hour
While a somewhat boring and unaffecting story on the surface, 25th hour feels like an obvious modern American allegory. Basically, Spike Lee has taken a story about a man who has finally been "touched" after a life of dealing drugs and grafted it onto the aftermath of the "touching" of the US on Sept 11. Edward Norton stares down his last day before being locked away in prison, and the film picks up right at the beginning of the day, the start of the aftermath. We get a tone poem of anger and grief, the nature of blame and guilt, resilience and spirit... some might take the symbols as American flag-waving, but I personally thought the film was actually a cry for levity, a cry against building business on the backs of others' suffering, a cry out for recognition of who's truly accountable, a cry out against the apparent "responsible" reaction to the eventual repercussions of those selfish practices, and a plea for a more sensible choice. A choice that may be riskier, but is the only chance for a positive outcome. The film is an almost-epic, but it's maybe too much personal baggage heaped onto a story that wasn't meant to support it. 7/10
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04/01/03 - 21 Grams
Tarantino fractures time because he's brilliant at taking a non-conventionally paced linear story and refitting it to the type of conventional pacing that holds an audience. Soderberg and Lynch fracture time artistically, structuring information in a dream-like way, creating brilliant subjective effects. Egoyan fractures time to reveal information to the viewer when it is most crucial to learn, to colour what was seen before and what is about to be seen in ways that are much more impactful than a linear story could achieve. Some directors fracture time because they think it's cool. Or maybe it's the only way to make the movie interesting, scrambling it so bad that the audience is occupied purely with trying to figure out the puzzle that is the basic plot. A smokescreen to cover a fear that the movie is actually kinda boring. In short, this movie is too pretentious, and doesn't live up to how arty it wants to be. It's a shame, because the story and characters aren't bad, it just tries too hard to twist it into something unique, and instead ends up shooting itself in the foot. Eventually it just comes across like a poor copy of what's cool in "alternative" cinema. It's the wannabe punk who doesn't fit in with the real punks. 5/10
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09/05/20 - Tyson
This is Mike Tyson, totally honest and direct and forthcoming, explaining himself, basically his life story so far. It gets emotional at times about the trainer that took him in as family, it's really sympathetic, and you can't really tell if there's still an animal lurking beneath or how much perspective he really has. I'm not much of a boxing fan, but anyone who's into sport in general should get a lot out of it. Or anyone who wants to get a view into the life of a guy who became world famous at age 21, at a point when his entire life was about the singular focus of beating the living hell out of anyone...and then the fallout of being that highly trained animal, too young, and with no life skills yet. 7/10
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08/03/23 - U2 3D
I've seen a few 3D movies, and worked briefly as an IMAX stereographer, so technically this movie really impressed me. First time I've seen something with a sophisticated and knowledgable use of 3D. A very comfortable movie to watch because they knew what they were doing, but still retained the wow factor. Though they stopped short of hovering something in front of your face within reach, they made up for it by dissolving and layering different elements into beautifully constructed 3D compositions. If you like U2 at all, you can't really go wrong. It's a greatest hits concert with radical 3D collaging of the band members and stage features in a big long "feels like you're there" music video. 8/10
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00/11/29 - Unbreakable
Cooooool. ...Too bad this 10/10 story concept was executed a little sloppy and with a few poor choices. Does EVERYONE need to speak in hesitant whispers ALL the time? But for the most part it's really cool. 7/10
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02/06/01 - Undercover Brother
The action scenes are actually brilliant, but the movie is dragged down by poorly paced and flat-footed dialogue scenes. Some great laughs in the inspired bits where the movie comes out of left field, but there's patience-trying sections where they thinly dole out half-baked or obvious jokes that we've heard too many times before. Still, the soundtrack is great and the film comes to life whenever it focuses on the physical comedy. So it's alternately great and bad. 5/10
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09/05/29 - Up
Masters of craft. What I like about Pixar lately is that as calculated as every frame is by teams of people, the premise and story aren't safe bets. This one has really wacky ideas ancillary to the core concept, but the hell with it, they thought it was interesting or funny so they just go with it. It gives the piece an off-the-cuff energy. And oh man, the first ten minutes had the whole theatre bawling. So much is done with such a beautiful light touch. And the constant presence of the balloons and house... just simultaneously hilarious and poignant. 9/10
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06/03/23 - V For Vendetta
It's actually pretty rad. Not very preachy, dude's mask doesn't get annoying to look at, the characters interact well, and the plot provides surprises even though you'd think the trailers gave them all away. 7/10
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08/10/19 - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Now I want to go to Spain. Except I want to be Javier Bardem when I'm there. Or at least hang out with him? This is a really good movie, comfortable, interesting, great to look at. 8/10
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00/06/06 - The Virgin Suicides
Moody, restrained, great visual feel, great atmosphere. The story is pleasing and bittersweet on the surface and subtly symbolic underneath. 7/10
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08/04/27 - The Visitor
From the writer/director of The Station Agent, I definitely like this one better. The tone is reserved and calm again, and the acting and characters are great, but the big improvement for me is almost right away it's going somewhere intriguing. It doesn't really go where you expect, there are big turns of events, and with each turn it's going somewhere interesting and important (and heartfelt, and true to life...) 7/10
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01/10/25 - Waking Life
It looks beautiful, and the look is completely in service of the subject matter. The story isn't really a story, or even like any film I've seen before. It's a collection of monologues, a free-form assembly of ideas that Linklater finds really interesting and interconnected. So if you're interested in the subjects of dreaming, free will, evolution, collective consciousness, identity, death, and basically modern living, then you'll find it really interesting. I certainly did. I loved it.
The movie might lose something if you're so into those subjects that you've heard all the ideas before, and you certainly won't like it if you're not into excercises in mental gymnastics just for the sake of it, but at least you should find the imagery funny and cool. And don't worry, the ideas are way above the level of "what if, like, the whole galaxy is like, just an ATOM in some larger universe?" teenager stuff. Some of the monologues I did find misinformed or pretentious, but it didn't take away from the movie as a whole. It's unlikely that every monologue is going to resonate with one person, but I'm sure every monologue is someone's favorite. Long story short; if you're into unconventional cinema and the nature of reality, this movie goes out on a limb and pulls it off brilliantly. 9/10
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08/01/01 - Walk Hard
I thought it would be dumb comedy elevated, but it was just dumb comedy. John C. Reilly is pretty good, but the story isn't going anywhere. You're better off youtubing Brule's Rules. 4/10
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05/10/09 - Wallace And Grommit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit
The Wrong Trousers is one of the finest short films ever. The action finale is brilliantly built, and stacked with great gags. Then came A Close Shave which felt a little like an also-ran, with gags that were a little more of a rehash. Still great by Animated Short standards, but after Trousers... And now Were-Rabbit suffers a similar fate, being quite good, but not in the realm of what I hoped for. It actually feels disappointingly similar to A Close Shave, sharing a nearly duplicate plot and nearly duplicate gags. So while I was hoping Chicken Run was just the studio gearing up for a Wallace And Gromit to stand with the best animated features ever, it turns out it's no better than Chicken Run. Which is nothing to be ashamed of, just nothing to rattle Pixar's pedestal. 6/10
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08/06/27 - Wall-E
I find Andrew Stanton's stuff tends to be slick but not as interesting as Pixar's top tier. It's usually a simple quest/journey, gag-oriented characters, etc. This one impressed me with the risks he took, there's a couple things I just know 99% of his coworkers were trying to talk him out of. I liked the opening, I liked the gags, solid, though still simple. 8/10
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00/04/17 - The War Zone
Dense. Stark. Bleak. Strong surface tension. ...Just like its subject matter. This is Tim Roth's directorial debut, and he proves himself a talented director with this intensely personal piece. Everything is very real, there is no straight up good and evil, no easy answers. The whole tone is stark and muted and real and unflinching, but boy does the audience flinch. I know that I would need to see this film again to push through the density and really appreciate it, but I don't think I want to subject myself to it a second time. Stay to the end of the credits. 8/10
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05/07/02 - War Of The Worlds
Spielberg makes another hollocaust movie. It's weird to me that people flock to a blockbuster that's completely no fun at all, but I'm glad. I guess people sometimes just like to be stressed out and frightened. It would explain CNN anyway. So Signs was already made as Shyamalan's cover version of War Of The Worlds, and this is the Spielberg treatment. Less interesting, more pandering, but really really slick. 7/10
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09/03/15 - Watchmen
Basically, it's good in the context of when the book was written, but with The Incredibles and Batman already standing on its shoulders, it's not really relevant anymore. NOW, people enjoyed Iron Man even though it's basically nonsense, but here's what I see as the difference: Tony Stark is a strong character, thanks to Robert Downey Jr. People want to BE him, the way they're fascinated with Batman and even The Joker. But The Watchmen isn't character-driven like that, it's plot-driven, and the biggest complaint I see is that the audience doesn't buy the actual costumed heroes as people, at least not interesting people worth watching. (The actors tend to get blamed.) So though I liked it well enough, I would only recommend it to people familiar with the source material (even people like me who can hardly remember it), and even then I wouldn't argue against someone who hate-hate-hated the movie that they were missing something. I was impressed with some of it, mostly at how they stuck to their guns. But did it achieve more than simply pulling off an adaptation? 5/10
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00/12/05 - waydowntown
Very cool style, and the best I've seen digital video look. The characters and performances are excellent. The story and themes are on the money. How long could you live staying indoors? Working at a desk? Fitting yourself into the mold? 7/10
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05/11/06 - The Weather Man
Entertaining enough, but what was the point? I mean, I kind of get the point, but I'm not sure why I should care. It's funny I suppose to have your hero be a guy who discovers his own meaninglessness, but it's ultimately a pretty empty experience, for obvious reasons. 5/10
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09/06/30 - Whatever Works
Light, breezy, silly, but worthwhile. Something compells about a bitter genius ruthlessly crushing and berating his 10-year-old chess students...at least when it's Larry David. 6/10
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09/10/18 - Where The Wild Things Are
I mean, I get it. I really do get it. A great idea for what the Wild Things represent, and how to make a whole movie out of it. It was all there...so why was it kind of boring? 5/10
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03/06/13 - Winged Migration
On one hand, this is a phenomenal film. On another hand, it's terribly boring. How you like it all depends on how much your attention can be held by beautiful photography and the oddities of various different types of birds. It's hard to watch without wanting to talk about it at the same time, which might be why it was one of the weirdest moviegoing audience I've ever sat in. The young kids behind me kept asking their dad what the birds were saying, and there was one lady who was so enraptured she kept sighing loudly every time there was a shot of birds doing something amazing or weird (which is every shot) There was lots of stilted laughter as people didn't know how else to react to crazy bird antics. I'd almost recommend watching it at home, if it weren't for the fact that it really, really deserves to be seen in true 35mm film. (And the audience reactions probably added to my enjoyment) Back to the point, the birds are really totally fascinating, though the film doesn't try to educate the audience as to why any of these birds do any of their wacky things. What it does do, however, is simply let you live amongst them, to fly with them. You really feel privy to a point of view that shouldn't be possible if you're not a bird. The film does seem to have some "story" momentum as they introduce you to various flocks and track them to the north, hang out for the summer, and then make their way back home (with a dramatic change of tone for the return trip). Upon the return, you're feeling the film has come full circle, but then it goes on for another half-hour. It's too bad they didn't end the movie with more momentum, instead of letting it just peter out. But I guess when you spend 4 years collecting brilliant, impossible shots, you've got to squeeze them in there. Recommended if you want to see a top-class nature program, not so much if you want an exciting summer flick. 7/10
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00/11/22 - Wintersleepers
Would someone please explain this movie to me? I'm overwhelmed by the impression that I missed the point. Then again, maybe there's nothing more to it than a sometimes stylish but entirely unfocused and often boring meditation on coincidence and chaos, on living our lives. I'll be damned if I can connect the dots on the winter and sleeping themes throughout, except merely as mood-setting. What a waste of some really interesting ideas. 4/10
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09/01/09 - The Wrestler
Simple and solid. Rourke really inhabits his role, right down to his beaten-and-aged-plastic-surgery face. It's a great story of a down-and-out guy with heart. Bittersweet and sad, etc, etc. You've seen the trailer, and the movie is at least as good as you'd expect from that, whatever your impression. 8/10
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00/05/22 - X
Everything that is wrong with anime. 1/10
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02/08/10 - XXX
There's something right with the core concept of this. I mean, James Bond bungied off a dam and it was cool. So it seems natural to make a new secret agent that combines an aptitude for 'xtreme sport' stuntwork (rock climbing, board riding, vehicle abilities) with the idea that punk rocker attitude would be able to infiltrate criminal circles way more easily than a tux-wearing englishman. And the movie starts well toward proving the concept. But then it quickly takes a turn for the worse when they start doing 'xtreme sport' stunts for no good reason. It's one thing to jump a barn on a motorcycle because it's the only way across, it's another to just do it cause whatever, like, it looks cool or something. Another big problem is the way the film cuts around the stuntwork. It would be great to show the big stunts all in one shot, and know that a stuntguy did it for real (however contrived the scenario is - it doesn't matter as long as that's a real guy doing the trick), but it becomes an empty event when they edit together tiny bits and pieces of stuntwork into some big move, especially when some of it is flimsy CG effects, some of it is Vin on a bluescreen, some of it is real, and they don't show you the takeoff or the landing, because you know you need a halfpipe to get that kinda vert, but the scene is staged in the middle of a barren desert. I won't even talk about the crap story, because this movie would have been good regardless if only they'd nailed their core concept. But it was mishandled. They banked on the movie being cool because of 'xtreme sports' stuntwork, but then cheated us on most of the stunt scenes. ...Some might say this movie is just like The Fast And The Furious. I'm not sure if it's cause I like cars more than 'xtreme sports' that I much prefer that film, but I'm pretty sure it's more than that. If F&F was about racing cars to save the world from terrorists, I probably would have thought it just as lame as this film. If the car stunts were shot without the sense of speed and driving and reality (like say 'Driven' or 'Gone in 60'), then it also would have fallen flat. I think this movie is let down by a misunderstanding of the culture, where F&F actually got it. 3/10
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00/07/14 - X-Men
Preface: I'm not an X-Men fanboy. Review: Well done. Some of the characters are very well developed and real, and the script does a good job of making their powers seem like feasable extentions of phenomena we've seen in real life. The only weakness is the story suffers from being top-heavy with character setup and low on payoff. But you can't ask for more from an adaption like this. Wolverine and Rogue kick ass. 7/10
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03/05/04 - X2
Better than the original (less bad lines, more good action, less bad action), but in some ways the same (the Big Climax feels kinda 'off' and contrived, Storm spends the film out of character). It's got some really good scenes in it, and does a better job of linking them in an organic and pleasing way, and the main characters come off really well. Especially Nightcrawler and Mystique. It's a summer movie, and extra good for people familiar with the source material. 7/10
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02/04/28 - Y Tu Mama Tambien
Essentially a teen sex roadtrip comedy, but it blows the Hollywood version of the genre out of the water with a story and atmosphere that captures a core of sadness, not to mention characters and events that aren't born of convention but instead are born from something real, making the jokes funnier and the lessons way more potent. Mexico's character--namely dusty poverty side by side with the natural beauty of oceans and beaches--provides a poignant backdrop; the characters are on a brink between their self-absorbed paradise and the harsh real world. The theme echoes through the fabric of the film, from the politics of the country to the geography of the story to the characters themselves. Oh yeah, and there's tons of nudity, so that's pretty cool too. 7/10
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01/02/15 - The Yards
What's worse than a ridiculous plot? A plot with no point. My day at work was more dramatic and exciting than this movie. 3/10
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08/06/08 - You Don't Mess With The Zohan
Reviewing this is as pointless as seeing it. It's a way to spend a couple hours and get a couple laughs. 3/10
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08/11/01 - Zack And Miri Make A Porno
Sloppy, the plot doesn't make much sense, but it's funny enough to keep itself alive. It's basically what you'd expect if Kevin Smith was to come up with that title, get green-lit, and then write the script in a week. 4/10
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04/07/03 - Zatoichi
Tarantino wishes he was this rad. The more Beat Takeshi I see, the more I love it. This one doesn't try to get deep or emotional, this one entertains end to end with classic samurai stuff, a bunch of Beat Takeshi-style comedy characters lightening the mood but in a really classy way, and then of course your frequent bursts of brutal violence, where our title character slices and dices. And don't forget the Stomp-style percussion dance numbers. This movie is pure joy. 9/10
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07/03/04 - Zodiac
It's interesting to see how office coffee cups evolved from 1969 through to the 80s. Not to mention the hair and suits. But for some reason Jake's 20 years of aging produced nothing except 4 days of beard growth. This a great-looking flick and interesting and detailed and real. The only problem is how it starts to drag when there's only one person in the world who still cares about the case (the guy who wrote the book) while his wife and everyone in the theatre is going "geez man, give it up already." 7/10
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09/10/02 - Zombieland
Surprisingly good. If you're into zombies, of course. In a fun way. Mananges to tread well-worn ground with some really nice fresh touches. 7/10
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01/09/29 - Zoolander
There are great dumb comedies out there. Movies like Happy Gilmore, where it's stupid and the secondary characters are all stock, but at the core is a funny character and a great premise and every scene subverts or trancends its stock concept by putting an original spin on it. Zoolander isn't one of the greats. The main character is a simple sketch of "vapid but means well", which makes him not really interesting to follow through a whole film. The story is pretty flat and unfocused. Thankfully there's a bunch of really funny bits along the way, but I'm afraid Stiller started with "models are stupid and the fashion industry is pretty silly" and just didn't get very far with it. I can't quite give it a pass. 4/10
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Mike's favorite movies of 1999
1.Princess Mononoke
2.Being John Malkovich
3.Toy Story 2
4.Magnolia
5.The Matrix
6.The Insider
7.Run Lola Run
8.Bringing Out The Dead
9.American Beauty
10.Election
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Mike's favorite movies of 2000
1.Traffic
2.Dancer In The Dark
3.Memento
4.State And Main
5.Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
6.High Fidelity
7.Gladiator
(There isn't even 10)
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Mike's favorite movies of 2001
1.Hedwig And The Angry Inch
2.Waking Life
3.Shaolin Soccer
4.Mulholland Drive
5.Ghost World
6.The Man Who Wasn't There
7.Amélie
8.The Royal Tenenbaums
9.Donnie Darko
10.The Fast And The Furious
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Mike's favorite movies of 2002
1.Roger Dodger
2.City Of God
3.Human Nature
4.The Ring
5.Bowling For Columbine
6.Spider-Man
7.Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
8.Minority Report
9.Adaptation