Movies You’ve Recently Watched

Here’ s a place to talk about movies (on the big or small screen) that you’ve recently watched, but don’t want to write a thorough review at the moment.

While we have much to say about a film now, my hope is that listing the films we’ve recently seen will lead to discussion. Here are the films I’ve seen in the last several weeks:

*Irreversible
In the Mood for Love
Amoros Peros
Tokyo Story
Pather Panchali
A Knife in the Water
*Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The Tall Guy
Let It Ride
Juggernaut
Paths of Glory
Star Trek: Next Generation (seasons 1-6)
The Grifters
Solaris
The Sacrifice
Lost Highway
Pump Up the Volume
Spy Games
Hiroshima, Mon Amor
Dog Day Afternoon
Dick
*Breaking the Waves

The * films are the ones I liked or appreciated the most.

(The following comments do not contain spoilers, but if you don’t want to know anything about the films above, you shouldn’t continue reading.)

Tokyo Storyand The Sacrifice (another Tarkovsky film) were beautifully photographed. The cinematography and composition of The Sacrifice is exceptional. It’s one of the best looking films I’ve seen. Knife in the Water was also very “photographic.”

Al Pacino showed his ability to be funny without trying to be funny in Dog Day Afternoon. I don’t know how well the film fits into the current reality tv world we live in.

I think Grace would be interested in Solaris (I saw the Tarkovsky version) for the themes.

I think Mitchell would appreciate the sentiments of the teens in Pump of the Volume.

I don’t mean to leave Penny and Larri out, but I don’t know if any of the films above would especially appeal to them.

175 Responses to “Movies You’ve Recently Watched”


  1. Reid

    I saw Star Trek: Nemesis last night. I thought it was one of the better Star Trek movies, although I have a really low opinion of the movies, particuarly the NG ones.

    I thought some of the battle scenes and tactics were pretty cool. There’s a pretty cool starship in this one, too. Watching the film with good speakers really added to this film, too.

  2. Mitchell

    I liked Nemesis and don’t understand why it was such an unpopular movie. I really like that wedding scene when Picard does the toast. What a dramatic actor. If, Heaven forbid, James Earl Jones should die anytime soon, they should get Patrick Stewart to do the CNN voice-overs.

  3. Reid

    One criticism I have heard is that it was basically a re-cycled Wrath of Khan.

    They could have developed Ryker and Troi’s relationship leading up the marriage a little more, too. There were scenes and plotlines they could have cut out and others they should have developed more, too.

    The Reman ship, as cool as it looked, was a little disappointing, too.

  4. pen

    Did you see the Soderberg version of Solaris? I was wondering how it compared to the original. I didn’t like Clooney’s lead actress in the newer version. It was quite s–l–o–w going.

    What was the name of the movie we saw at my house?

  5. Reid

    Cold Comfort Farm

    The original Solaris is very slow as well. I’m interested in seeing the remake.

  6. Reid

    Larri and I just watched Men of Honor. Ten years ago, I probably would have liked this movie a lot, but now I thought it was just OK. It’s definitely one of those “Rocky” type movies, and the impact is greater because this was based on a true story.

    I don’t know if the filmmakers just didn’t do a good job or if I’m becoming jaded to these type of movies.

  7. Reid

    Larri and I just saw Last Samurai. The following alternate titles basically sums up the movie for me: “Shogun Redux” or “Dances With Samurais.” This movie is shamelessly cliched and sappy. Sorry, Penny.

  8. Reid

    Grace, Larri and I saw Jules and Jim the other night. All I have to say is that I am mystified by the French sensibility towards sex, and romance. In other words, the French are weird. Seriously, the characters behave outside of my understanding of human nature.

    I also didn’t care for the film tricks Truffault employed. They seemed gratuitous.

  9. Reid

    Weather Underground

    This is a documentary about a radical 60’s/70’s movement that tried to start a revolution against the United States. I thought it was interesting, but lacked depth and insight. For example, I wished the explored more of the negative elements of the movement in a way that compared and contrasted what was good (or at least admirable) about the movement and what was not. I also wish the filmmakers spent more time with people who had a more negative outlook on the movement. There was something superficial about the way the filmmakers told the story of the movement. Maybe the actual interviewees weren’t that interesting.

  10. pen

    I would also like to comment on Weather Underground. It was inspiring to watch people so committed to righting what they perceived as wrongs in our country. I cannot imagine a movement like that in today’s apathetic-preoccupied-trying to make ends meet society. That these people are still activists (in their own way) is inspiring to me. I enjoyed the spirit of the film.

  11. Mitchell

    I saw Mystic River for the third time yesterday, and still loved it.

    New observation this time: for much of the movie, when there’s a transition from one scene to another, especially following really intense scenes, the camera pans slowly up and out, up into the sky. At the very end, just before the credits, the camera moves across the Mystic and then down into it, as if to say, here is where it ends–it is all buried now.

    I’m more convinced now than ever before that (a) Tim Robbins should have been nominated, alongside Sean Penn, for Best Actor (and not Best Supporting Actor) and (b) Kevin Bacon should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

    I’m very happy to see that Marcia Gay Harden was nominated for Best Supporting Actress–she impresses me in everything she’s in. She’s turning into one of my favorites.

    Next few flicks on my list: Master and Commander, Calendar Girls, and 21 Grams.

  12. Reid

    Mitchell, have you seen Raising Victor Vargas or Man Without a Past, Man On a Train or Dirty Pretty Things. I really think you should see these films.

    Btw, there was a discussion at the utne site about the way actors are chosen for certain awards. I heard the studio makes the decision. Sometimes, the choices are straegically made to increase chances of an award.

    Penny,

    I guess I felt a greater degree of cynicism towards the activists. On one hand, that fact that they did anything is kinda cool. Then again, why they did it is really critical, too. I don’t admire being an activists because it’s the fashionable, for example.

    I just wish the film portrayed more critical points of view of the activists, so you could get a fuller picture of them. I don’t think they really explored the positive aspects of the activists very much either.

  13. Reid

    True Romance

    Directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino. Even if you didn’t know it was written by Tarantino, you would know. Great cast–Dennis Hopper, Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Michael Rappaport.

    I really liked Slater and Arquette right off the bat. In a way, there was that nerd fantasy thing going: Slater is into kung fu films, comic books, and he meets a beautiful who falls in love with him instantly. They had good enough chemistry for me to buy it.

    A lot of Tarantino’s fingerprints are all over this, and you can see how this lead to Resevoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. The only thing that’s missing is the manipulation of time thing.

    Subway

    This is an 80’s film (with a very dated 80’s soundtrack) by Luc Besson. It’s about a guy who robs some rich family and hides out in the Paris subways. There he meets different characters. There’s also a sub-plot about the main character trying to form a band. It sounded good when I read a review, but it wasn’t that good, imo.

  14. Mitchell

    I’ve been wanting to see True Romance for some time. I never thought you’d be the type to like Christian Slater, though. Chris Penn, he’s pretty cool.

    I saw The Cooler a few weekends ago. It’s a very good movie, but I really don’t like it. It’s like Leaving Las Vegas on downers. Good performances all around, especially by Macy and Baldwin.

  15. pen

    I saw Big Fish this past weekend and really enjoyed watching it. I liked it a lot more than Grace did, I think. Once you get past wondering why they cast all these European actors in a film that takes place in the American south, it’s all good. Charming and touching. I cried all through the second to the last scene.

  16. Reid

    The Element of Crime

    dir. Lars Von Trier

    This is a detective story done in a surrealistic style. (If you don’t want to know anything else don’t read on.)

    Leonard Maltin described it as a film that refers to many other films. That’s what I thought, too. Here are some films the movie seemed to refer to: Blade Runner, Angel Heart, Manhunter…well, that’s all I can think of right now. It’s not as good as those films, indeed, it feels like a pastiche. It also comes across as pretentious in a way. It’s very noirish, but instead of shooting in black-and-white, von Trier shoots the film in black-and-red.

    I also watched Jean de Florette and 3/4 of the sequel, Manon of Spring. Both were interesting, but in that they both used a conventional narrative style, but not in a Hollywood happy sort of way. In other words, both films explored different themes about life and people in a more thoughtful way, and this was just as important as telling a entertaining story.

  17. Reid

    Here are some films I watched over the weekend:

    Quintet
    Horse Thief
    Jesus’ Son

    I also saw a bunch of short pbs-type films that dealt with urban planning.

    Quintet is Robert Altman’s attempt at making a sci-fi thriller. The film stars Paul Newman in a post-apocalytic world where people play a game called quintet. It really got boring, so I stopped watching the film.

    Horse Thief was Martin Scorsese’s top film of the 90’s, and it has a very mythic quality to it. The director uses visuals to tell the story more than dialogue. The film didn’t have much of an impact on me, but I didn’t give it my full attention either.

    Of the three, Jesus’ Son was the most interesting, especially the first third of the movie. The movie is about a -addict (Billy Crudup) and the misadventures he gets into. His character tells the story and there are some funny moments in the beginning of the film using this approach.

    This character has a love interest (Sarah Morton) and their relationship keeps the story interesting. But as the movie progresses, I think the filmmaker loses direction; the story sort of dissipates.

    There are some funny moments, and the filmmaker, Crudup and Morton do a good job of not playing for the cheap, dense character jokes. The use of in the film remind me of Trainspotting.

  18. Reid

    Oh yeah, I also saw a documentary called The Kid Stays in the Picture

    I really thought this was a fake documentary in the Spinal Tap style, but apparently the main person, Robert Evans, is a real movie producer. The film chronicles his rise to power and his struggle to stay there. What’s interesting is that Evans, himself, narrates the film, making it a kind of autobiographical documentary.

    The filmmakers talk about this move in the commentary section which is sort of interesting. (Apparently, some people criticized the filmmaker for taking this approach.)

    They actually use some pretty creative collage effects in the film. As a spoof it’s pretty creative, but it’s not a spoof, so that could make it funnier or…I don’t know. I kinda thrown for a loop because I was sure that Evans was not a real person.

  19. Reid

    Taste of Cherry
    dir. Abbas Kiarostami

    This made some critics top 10 lists for best films in the 90’s. I enjoyed the film except I was confused by the ending. (If you don’t want to know anything about the film, don’t read on.)

    The film is about…actually, this is case where knowing the general plot could take away from the film (at least a little.) I actually read a brief description, but forgot it while watching the film, and my forgetting added to the experience.

    I’ll say something that I think won’t take away much. Part of what I liked was the stories one of the characters told to another. Just that one small aspect of the film, reminded of My Dinner With Andre. I also liked the stories they told in that film. But the similarities end there. (Well, actually, strangely enough there may be some other connections.)

    I would recommend seeing the film.

  20. Mitchell

    recently viewed:

    • House of Sand and Fog

      The trailer made this look like something overwrought and psycho-drama-like, but it’s a very well-made, interesting film, thoughtful and more layered than the trailer led one to believe. Good acting, especially by Ben Kingsley. Only major problem for me was the soundtrack (though I normally like James Horner), which was melodramatic and too loud. I’d recommend it for Grace or Penny, but they saw it with me.

    • 24 Hour Party People

      Ultra-stylistic docu-drama about the Manchester music scene in the eighties and nineties. Great music! The movie’s told from the point of view of Tony Wilson, the founder of The Factory records and the manager of both New Order and Happy Mondays. The actor who plays Wilson creates a very likable comedic character. Recommended for Penny.

    • Air Force One

      It is what it is. High-octane action flick with Harrison Ford as the President. Actually made me feel a little patriotic, I’m embarrassed to say. I’d normally pass on this flick, but I’m determined to see everything William H. Macy ever appeared in.

  21. Mitchell

    I’ve got a nasty cold, so I’ve been vegging in front of the DVD player lately.

    • Four Rooms

      Four short stories, set in a hotel and linked by Tim Roth as the bellhop. Each story is directed by a different director. Quentin Tarantino directs one, and Robert Rodriguez (Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico) directs another. The movie mostly stinks, but the Rodriguez and Tarantino scenes are quite good.

    • The Third Man

      Unexpectedly good. I’m gonna see it again tonight.

  22. Chris

    Hey,
    I thoroughly enjoy reading this strand in particular, and the idiots in general.
    Vive la idiotes!!
    Reid’s friend Chris

  23. Mitchell

    Chris: what are you doing at Harvard?

  24. Reid

    Mitchell,

    Third Man? Is that the Carol Reed picture with Orson Welles? I did a college paper on that. I loved Welles as Harry Lime. Even with a short appearance, I think he deserved a best supporting actor nomination. Alida Valli is also beautiful in this.

  25. Mitchell

    Yes.

    Welles was great. I didn’t think the woman was very memorable. The main character was especially well-conceived.

  26. Reid

    I watched a bunch of films recently:

    Sunshine State
    City of Hope
    Water Drops On Burning Rocks
    T-Men
    In a Lonely Place
    Aguire, Wrath of God
    Limbo
    Five Easy Pieces
    Badlands
    Thin Red Line
    The Candidate

    Of the above, I like In a Lonely Place and City of Hope the most.

    In a Lonely Place stars Humphrey Bogart as a Hollywood screenwriter with a really bad temper and a screwed up psyche. That doesn’t sound appealing, but Bogart brings that anti-hero charm and humor that he’s great at. I love the way he delivers his lines (and there is some good lines from the screenwriter, whose name escapes me at the moment). Think of Rick Blaine of Casablanca with a temper and other psychological problems.

    Anyway during the course of the film, Bogart’s character meets up with Gloria Grahame (Violet Bick from It’s a Wonderful Life). She’s also very good in this film. I hate to say much more of the film as it could take away from the experience.

    City of Hope was one of three John Sayles films I watched in the past two weeks. (Limbo and Sunshine State being the other two.) These films for the most part are film as social commentary. But unlike Spike Lee, I think Sayles is better at creating interesting characters and sub-plots that draw the viewer in.

    Ironically, his treats black characters in a more interesting way than Spike Lee. Sayles’ black characters seem more like real characters as opposed to “black characters” if you know what I mean. You don’t feel like you’re watching an anthropology film like you do when you watch a Spike Lee film.

    But like Lee, Sayles wants to address social issues in his films, and at times, he can get a little preachy. In Sunshine State, he takes on some of the issues native to Florida. In Limbo, the setting is Alaska, and there’s some social commentary, but that film is more about the characters and story I think. Lone Star takes place in Texas, and also seems to be more about characters and a story than a statement about Texas, although I could be wrong about that.

    City of Hope is about the typical large city, with all the problems that we associate with large urban centers. I think Sayles does a pretty good job of weaving in many characters, their stories, and social issues together.

    Sayles films don’t always work, but he does some thoughtful things, and I’m glad he’s out there making films.

  27. Mitchell

    Watched The Third Man again. Loved Orson Welles again. Disliked the zither soundtrack a whole lot.

    Also saw for the second time The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain. Such a charming movie. I really do like Hugh Grant.

    Believe it or not, until this morning, I’d never seen Escape from New York. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good. The highlight for me was seeing Ox Baker, one of the professional wrestlers I grew up watching and hating, as the guy Snake kills in the boxing ring.

  28. Mitchell

    Seen this weekend:

    • Rush Hour
      I’d seen the sequel, but not the original until Saturday on TBS. It was pretty entertaining.

    • Bullets Over Broadway
      I like John Cusack, so I was going to like this anyway. Entertaining, with some pretty funny dialogue.

    • Beautiful Girls
      The best of the lot, this film is loaded with beautiful women (Mira Sorvino, Uma Thurman, Lauren Holly, and an adolescent Natalie Portman) and interesting dynamics. I’d have appreciated more guy-talk, but even for a guy like me, who loves guy-talk movies, this is pretty good.

      I still haven’t seen The Professional, so this is the youngest Natalie Portman I’ve seen, and you can just see she’s got serious talent. Without her, this is just a mediocre movie.

  29. Mitchell

    I also saw The Butterfly Effect at the Row on Sunday night. I totally expected it to suck, but it didn’t. It was actually quite interesting. There was a point where I was about to walk out of the theater (I figure, I’m out just fifty cents if I leave), because I was getting kinda sick of the violence and psycho-ness, but I stuck it out and the movie got a lot better.

    I wouldn’t say it’s a breakout for Ashton Kutcher, but he represented himself well enough, and the concept alone was enough to carry the film. It was interesting and entertaining and fairly compelling.

    I wouldn’t say it was as good as Paycheck, which itself wasn’t very good, but it stuck with me a lot longer. Gave me something to think about.

  30. Mitchell

    Oh. I also saw Alien Nation for the first time. I was a lukewarm fan of the TV show on FOX, so this film really interested me. It wasn’t bad, though not as good as the show.

  31. pen

    Recently I saw Monster which was disturbing, but a great performance by Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci. I heard there is a documentary about Eileen’s life and I would love to see that, since Monster seemed a little biased to me. I heard the families of the victims were unhappy with it, too.

    I also saw Barbarian Invasions which was very good. There is supposed to be a film done with the same characters (and same actors!) about 15(?) years ago. I need to find that movie and see it, too. It was a very quietly touching film.

  32. pen

    This past Sunday Reid and I saw Fog of War which was quite interesting, although you can wait for it to come on video. It’s a good reminder on how complex all these issues are. McNamara came across as intelligent, thoughtful, tough, sincere, and a bit arrogant (but in a good way).

  33. kevin

    Have been recently referred to V-I from Chris (Reid’s friend); new to blogging, but love the stream of thought – you folks seem very thoughtful & literate. Was thinking about Jules/Jim (Truffaut) comment earlier; I didn’t click with French film (i.e. Godard, Bresson) until I saw Night for Day, makes so much sense in all the ways Americans have stolen from French cinema (i.e. Altman’s opening of The Player as literal quotation from its opening scene, Rififi (Bassin)being heavily pilfered by Tarantino. ) Truffaut reminds me of Sayles, in cinematic emotion being less heavily aestheticized, & while sometimes dark, not gritty; embattled, but still optimistic about life.

    Also recommend Decline of American Empire – Arcand’s (Canadian) previous to Barbarian… Some of it is hard to watch, but very wry comment on Western decay and slide. & his Jesus of Montreal is a more palatable alternative to the current Gibson fare, though 80’s dated. May be posting more regularly, if I can just learn how to italicize…

  34. Mitchell

    I saw Jesus of Montreal a few years ago, and was strangely moved by it. It was, at the same time, kind of stupid and kind of brilliant. Definitely something I’m planning to look at again in a few years.

  35. joel

    I recently watched “Dawn of the Dead.” Good horror film filled with zombies and plenty of gore. There were a few themes in the film which I wish they would’ve explored further, “religious themes,” “themes about humanity.” But for all it’s worth I really did enjoy many of the suspenseful sequences in the film. I felt the director did a good job at creating suspense without using the usual “shock” techniques they usually use to get us.

  36. pen

    Grace & I saw Japanese Story this weekend. Once I got used to everyone’s accents (Aussie & Japanese), I enjoyed it more, because I began to actually understand what was going on! I think this movie is worth seeing. It’s definitely more character than plot driven, but it’s not really a character study either. More of an experiement — i.e., what happens to people from two very different cultures when they are placed in a particular situation. I don’t want to discuss it too much, as I would not want to spoil it.

    Yesterday, Mitchell and I saw Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl. Mitchell is much better versed than I regarding Kevin Smith movies, but I think we both enjoyed the movie overall, although the last 10-15 minutes were rather trite. Mitchell, I’d be interested in hearing more about your thoughts.

    Ben Afleck was very good; and except for the occasional over-the-top mugging, so was George Carlin. Liv Tyler & Jennifer Lopez both looked amazing. The cinematographer really knew how to light them well. I’d like to see more Liv Tyler movies. I didn’t like the way a few of the scenes were shot, though. It was kind of a handheld, out-of-focus, fast moving kind of shot that makes me a little dizzy.

  37. joel

    I saw “hidalgo” a few weeks ago. It’s a good film if you’re in the mood for an “indiana jones” or “mummy” type adventure film. The fact that this is another story based on real life people–and horses–added to the mystic of the film.

  38. pen

    Joel, I also saw Hidalgo and really enjoyed it . . . I thought Viggo did a great job and while some of the lines were a little corny, he made it work.

    I also recently saw Hellboy. I have never read the comic, so my opinion is a bit uninformed, but standing alone, I felt the movie was quite good…better than I thought it would be, really. There were some really nice moments w/ Ron Perlman and Selma Blair and the humor was often dry and self-deprecating. I would be interested in hearing the opinions of those who are familiar with the comic.

  39. Reid

    I saw Hellboy, and it started out promising, but it kinda went flat. I didn’t care for the action scenes, and I didn’t think they did a good job of building sub-plots, relationships and characters very well. I liked the look of Hellboy, the character, and I wanted to like him, but I didn’t really. I wanted to laugh and enjoy his humor, but I didn’t. Still, the movie wasn’t bad. I think my brother might like this one.

    Kevin,

    The French films just come across as incredibly pretentious to me, particularly some Godard’s Alphaville. The lead actress reminded me of Jan Hooks from SNL doing the cologne mock Calvin Kline commericials that seem to parody Godard and other French directors.

    I also don’t get their sensibility towards sex. It’s almost like they’re a different species. Then again, I wonder if the French, just have a more mature and sophisticated view of human sexuality than most everyone else….Nah, that can’t be it. 🙂

    Seriously, though it’s as if they have a more mature or realistic understanding of sex, but on the other hand, the characters don’t behave like any people I know. So it’s both realistic and not realistic. I don’t know if this is making sense or not.

  40. Reid

    I recently watched Kill Bill part II, and I really didn’t care for it. Maybe it’s because I’m not into some of the movies he’s referencing.

    I also watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I have mixed feelings about this film. I think the cleverness gets in the way of the emotional impact of the film. I’m also not a big fan of Jim Carrey playing a straight role.

  41. pen

    I also saw Kill Bill, Part II (with Reid & Larrilynn) and re-watched Part I this weekend. I enjoyed Part I more than I remember enjoying it the first time.

    Reid felt Part II was kind of slow, but I liked it. I felt it helped tie up loose ends and the fighting sequences relied less on that wire-work look than in Part I.

    I also saw Disney’s Home on the Range. Nice, fairly entertaining, and you can definitely wait until it comes out on video or the $1 movie theatre before seeing it. Not destined to be a classic, but still good.

  42. Reid

    Kill Bill pt. 2 tied loose ends, but I guess I wasn’t that interested in the characters or the plot resolutions. The fighting scenes weren’t very entertaining either. Then again, some of those 70’s B-movies with beautiful women fighting each other aren’t known for the great fight scenes. In fact, perhaps the fact that the fight scenes are really polished is part of the appeal. That just doesn’t appeal to me.

  43. Reid

    Anyone else see “Eternal Sunshine”? I think a lot of people may like it a lot more than I did. Actually, I liked the film, but I feel like I should have enjoyed it more. It’s actually pretty hard to remember the details for the film.

  44. joel

    I just saw “kill bill vol.2” I’m sorry to say that I didn’t really like it. I felt the dialogue in the film was to contrived…slow…made me a little bored. I’m sorry to say that as I am a big fan of most of his work. Still, I had to sample it for myself.

  45. Reid

    I got the feeling that Tarantino was padding the movie to make it into a feature length film. I feel this way especially since I know that this was supposed to be one film.

  46. joel

    You could be right about that part about padding the film. There’s definitely that whole feel of that big western-style-showdowns in all of the fight scenes. I really want to see that new one that’s comming out “hero” with jet li. that movie looks awesome.

  47. pen

    I just saw The Punisher this weekend. I had low expectations and was a little wary after reading Ebert’s review about the unrelenting pain and darkness of this movie, but was pleasantly surprised. Because while there were some, uh, memorable scenes about ways to kill people, there were some light touches. Also, Thomas Jane (I think that’s the name of the lead actor) did the strong, silent type thing quite well. Perhaps I liked it because I was expecting it to be really bad, but after watching the movie, I actually would see the sequel if and when it’s made.

  48. Reid

    I saw Japanese Story over the weekend. I didn’t watch the first fifteen minutes or so with my full attention because of projector problems. (Believe or not, the right half of the screen was blurry, but not on close-ups!) During that time I was walking to see the manager. It was so annoying that I actually considered leaving, but luckily there were a lot of close-ups in the film.

    Toni Collete proved once again what a fine actor she is. I thought this was a solid movie overall, although I feel a little disatisfied for some reason. I think of the movie in the same way that I do many independent films that are solid, but lacking.

    First of all, I appreciate these films because they do not seem to be made with Hollywood cookie-cutter approach. Clearly, commercial factors are not the top priority.

    Second, because of point one, there is a level of intelligence that I appreciate. The acting is also usually pretty solid.

    Finally, despite the first two points, these films are often not fully satisfying, either because they fail to be fully entertaining or fully profound.

    That’s sort of how I felt about this film.

  49. Reid

    Van Helsing

    I thought it was barely OK. There were some parts that were really slow and boring to me, not because the movie lacked action per se, but because the filmmakers didn’t do a good job of building up to those action sequences. I just couldn’t connect with the characters. They have throw in some comedic moments, that just felt flat to me. In fact, “flat” is a good word to describe this movie.

    I’m didn’t dislike the movie because it was silly or ridiculous. I knew what this movie was about, but I just didn’t have too much fun with it. I would definitely wait to see this at the 50 cents theater.

    Let me add one more thing: even Larri didn’t care for the film.

  50. Reid

    I saw three interesting films on dvd last night: Grido, Winslow Boy and Bread and Roses.

    I’ll talk about Grido first. I saw it because it was made by Antonioni. (I would like to see all of his films.) You seem some similar themes as in L’Avventura, but this film is not at that level. I think I missed some of the socio-political elements in the film, and if anyone has seen this and can explain that, please do. Not a great film, but worth seeing, especially if you want to get a full sense of Antonioni as a filmmaker (I would think).

    I enjoyed Winslow Boy a lot more. (Thanks Mitchell.) The acting and writing is very good. I especially liked Nigel Hawthorne and Jeremy Northam. This is a Mamet film, and I was trying to detect any of his trademark dialogue, but I couldn’t reall. If I didn’t know this was a Mamet film, I wouldn’t be know he made it.

    The film seems to be straightforward story about standing up for honor and family, but I sense Mamet has other themes or subtexts running through the film that I can’t quite grasp. (Spartan made me feel the same way.)

    I also enjoyed Bread and Roses. If I gave a brief description of this film I would say it’s like a Mexican immigrant version of Norma Rae. I think it’s more realistic, gritty and better than Norma Rae myself. Plus, it’s not focussed on the heroism of one character, and the portrayal of the characters is far from romantic.

    This has a feel of low budget movie. There aren’t any stars (Adrien Brody is in this, but this was before his Oscar, and I still wouldn’t consider him a star.) Many of the characters seem to be played by non-actors, and there is a really strong sense of realism in the film. Films that successfully use non-actors often achieve a sense of reality in the characters that are often lacking in professional actors. (This is exactly what happened in Raising Victor Vargas.) There are some really powerful scenes in this film, particularly one which made me think that some of the actors deserved at least a nomination for an award. The movie covers labor and immigrant issues in a powerful way.

  51. joel

    I just saw “troy.” Wow that was a long film. I don’t mind films extending past the usual 2 hrs. but only if the story and/or the characters seem interesting. I personally felt a lot of the “melodrama” and acting in this movie was rather plain. I never really had any interest in any of the characters because non of them we’re all that likeable. They definitely seemed more “real” than anything to me as each character had to deal with their own respective weaknesses. Still I felt there just wasn’t enough development of each character to really hold my attention. On the joel scale between 1-10 I give it a 5.5 for being a bit to long but still relatively entertaining.

  52. Mitchell

    Boy, was I planning (and trying) to hate 13 Going on 30, but I confess that it got me. I enjoyed the heck out of this flick, and while I can’t recommend it, I can say that it’s probably just as bad as it looks, but way, way, way more enjoyable.

    And that’s not just hormones talking.

  53. Mitchell

    Other low-cal entertainment: Johnny Depp’s Secret Window. Predictable, but a great ride, and Johnny’s always good.

  54. joel

    Yeah I enjoyed “rear window” as well. Gotta love Stephen King’s writting. That last line of the film gave me goosebumps.

  55. Reid

    3:10 to Yuma (7 out of 10)

    Starring: Van Heflin and Glenn Ford

    This is about a struggling farmer assigned with the task of guarding a robber until a train comes in (the train that comes in at 3:10 heading to Yuma, hence the title).

    This is a Western where the drama doesn’t take place in the gunfights, but in quieter–but tense–situations. Heflin and Ford (particularly Ford) turn in two good performances. Ford’s character is particularly interesting. All in all, it was a solid movie.

    You can read my review and add comments at the V-I site here 3:10 to Yuma

  56. Reid

    The Passenger (5 out of 10)

    This is another Antonioni film. Jack Nicholson stars as the main character who chooses to switch identities with a dead man and start another life. To be honest, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the film (and the film wasn’t really drawing me in), so I hesitate to judge the film. I’m not sure what it’s about, really.

  57. pen

    Stupidity was not quite what I thought it was going to be, and thus I was a bit disappointed. The movie is a combination commentary/mockumentary on the dumbing down of America. It was more satire than an indepth discussion or analysis of why Americans love the idiot 🙂 I was expecting more of a Michael Moore type film, which it definitely was not.

    After all these intellectual-type “artsy” films (Reid), I saw Shrek 2 yesterday and was quite entertained. My expectations for sequels generally are not as high, so please factor this into my opinion. I enjoyed picking out scenes from other movies that were spoofed (or perhaps it was in homage?) in Shrek 2.

    I also saw 13 Going On 30, which I felt was a charming, likeable movie. Better than I thought it was going to be. Secret Window was okay; I am a bit ambivalent about that movie. But as always, I liked Johnny Depp’s performance.

  58. Reid

    Hey, 3:10 to Yuma wasn’t an arty, intellectual film. 🙂

    Thanks for reviewing, Stupidity. That looked interesting. Sorry, it wasn’t so good. Btw, did you hear that Michael Moore won the Palm D’or at Canne? I heard he got a 20 minute standing ovation–the longest many people can remember.

  59. Reid

    Btw, Penny, I would recommend Bread and Roses to you. It has one of the more powerful and moving scenes I have seen recently. I think you would also enjoy Winslow Boy. It’s one of Mamet’s better films, imo.

  60. Mitchell

    Yes. Ebert wrote a few articles about that film (http://www.suntimes.com/ebert). In fact, everything he wrote this year from Cannes is terrific. Not as hilarious as last year’s The Brown Bunny saga, but he made me want to see several films I’ll probably never get a chance to see.

    By the way, the chairman of the jury at Cannes this year was Quentin Tarantino.

  61. Chris Magnusson

    A few days ago I saw the new Jim Jarmusch movie *Coffe and Cigarettes*. I recommend it, but be warned that not all of the vignettes are that good. But a few are absolute gems. And what a wild cast.

    Chris

  62. Reid

    Day For Night (7 out of 10)

    This is probably the best meta-movie I’ve seen. (Makes me wonder why Steve Buscemi even made Living In Oblivion, as it seems to be the same movie, only not as good.)

    While watching the film, I kept thinking about filmmakers like Tarantino, Kaufman, and the Cohen Brothers because the film had the same sort of self-conscious refrences that are in the films of those filmmakers. But Day For Night has some key differences.

    The movie has an interesting story and characters that can stand on its own. The cleverness of the film doesn’t stick out, nor is it the primary focus of the film. The meta-quality is the story, but serves a story and characters. Perhaps, the self-consciousness seems a little more subtle; the filmmaker doesn’t seem to be drawing attention to himself so much.

    The film makes me wonder why this approach has surfaced in the hot American filmmakers in the past ten years. I also feel that “coming late to the party” feeling. These French filmmakers have been making films in this self-conscious/self-referencing way for a while now, and yet, I’ve always thought it was cool (at least on a conceptual level) for the chic American directors to be doing it.

    This is a film for film fans, but I think even people who are not totally into films can enjoy this film, too. Oh, some person might think this is an arty film, but it’s quite funny, entertaining and accessible. I could see people who don’t normally watch foreign films at least mildy enjoying the film.

  63. Mitchell

    Raising Helen

    Yes, I’m still a sucker for a good romantic comedy. Add to that disposition Joan Cusack (hilarious and thoughtful) and Kate Hudson (luminous) and the movie would have to be really bad for me not to enjoy it.

    I am so not in the mood for The Day After Tomorrow or Troy, so simply by virtue of not being an action-packed, effects-laden thrill-ride, it drew me and held my attention and convinced me to care about its characters.

    Stay away if a typical romantic comedy leaves you flat. Go see it if you still believe.

  64. Reid

    Cold Mountain (5 out of 10)

    I read the book prior to the watching the movie, and this had an effect on my evaluation of the movie. While the movie was faithful to the book, I thought the best thing about the story was the writing, particuarly descriptions of the author. I have a problem with the story in general (one particular aspect that I will keep mum about), and this made it hard for me to enjoy the movie.

    I thought Renee Zelwegger(sp?) was OK, but not Oscar worthy.

  65. Reid

    Cradle Will Rock (6 out of 10)

    dir. Tim Robbins (I believe he wrote the movie, too.)

    Large all-star ensemble cast, including John Cusak, Joan Cusak, Bill Murray, Susan Sarandon, Emily Watson, John Tuturro and

    It’s loosely based on the true story of the Federal Theater program in the 30’s, and one theater’s attempt (lead by Orson Welles and John Housman) to put on a musical called Cradle Will Rock. The musical is pro-union, anti-business, which fit with the times.

    I think the film is sort of messy and the film doesn’t come together too well, imo. Still, there are some interesting moments, and I enjoyed the film for the most part.

  66. Reid

    I saw Errol Morris’ Gates of Heaven. The film revolves around the building and maintenance of a pet cemetary and the people that were involved with this. But like many other of Morris’ films, the viewer can find the real subject of in the subtext of the movie.

  67. Mitchell

    Roger Ebert has repeatedly called Gates of Heaven one of his twenty best films ever made, so of course I was eager to see it.

    I understand why he says what he says, but there are other documentaries that do it better. Except for a few flashes of WOW, the film is rather dreary and uninteresting. The people and their stories are fascinating, but that isn’t explored enough.

  68. Mitchell

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

    Saw this at midnight at the opening. Full review later this week! But yeah, go see it!

  69. Reid

    Mitchell,

    I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on Gates of Heaven. What do you think the film was about? What did the old lady reveal in her interview (that one long interview). A review I read called that one of the best moments in documentary history.

  70. Mitchell

    Gates of Heaven, like all good documentaries, is about more than its subject matter. It’s about people and the societies they live in.

    When that old lady goes off on that tangent, we see someone put her guard down; she reveals herself in a way more dramatic than if she’d disrobed. When she first starts talking, we are taken by the novelty of this woman and we’re ready to chuckle at her, but by the time she’s done, we realize we know lots of people like her. We maybe see ourselves there. And we certainly don’t feel like chuckling.

    I’d agree that this is one of the best moments in documentary history.

    What Ebert loves about this film is better revealed in other documentaries, I think. Spellbound is a great example of a documentary that is about more than just its subject matter. It’s a celebration of America and its values. It even manages to reveal that its own subject matter is itself a celebration of America and its ideals–when the pronouncer says that yeah, the National Spelling Bee is antiquated, but it dates to a time when we thought spelling well meant you were educated and intelligent, and it reminds us every year that we in America value education.

    The characters in Gates of Heaven are quirky and tragic and beautiful and flawed, but no more so than the subjects of Spellbound or Roger & Me or even Trekkies. I’ll instead take Spellbound and Roger & Me any day. For that matter, give me The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization, Part II: the Metal Years, Hoop Dreams, Hell House, or even, on its better nights, Cops.

  71. Reid

    But what was it that you saw in the old woman? Here’s what one reviewer said,

    “The naked intimacy of her knowing confessions0–both her knowing confession (what she says), and her unknowing confession (what we surmise about her form what she says)–will make you squirm in your seat, but you will be unable to look away.”

    What was her unknowing confession? Was that she could really get around?

    And what was Gates of Heaven about?

    I prefer Roger and Me and Spellbound, but I understood those films a lot more than GOH.

  72. Reid

    Something’s Gotta Give (7 out of 10)

    About half way through this film, I found myself pleasantly surprised. First of all, I’m pretty tired of Jack Nicholson’s persona, but I really enjoyed him in this. You had that wonderful Nicholson charm and charisma, without the cockiness and edge. In it’s place, he brought in a sweetness and vulnerability (that, to me, he lacked in films like About Schmidt and As Good as It Gets). Those two qualities made him really appealing to me.

    Diane Keaton also really turns in a fine performance. (I remember scoffing at her Academy nomination, but I was wrong.) There are some really touching, heart-breaking scenes in this film, and a lot of it is due to the acting.

    (Some spoilers)

    If there is a downside, I didn’t care for the flow of the movie. It seemed like the film needed to be edited or re-written a little more. Nicholson and Keaton’s characters sort of separate, and the way they get back together takes a meandering journey I thought. A lot of people may disagree with this, though.

    Anyway, it’s definitely an above average romantic comedy. I didn’t find it really funny, but I liked both Keaton and Nicholson. The dialogue and the romance is also solid.

  73. Mitchell

    I liked that movie, too. Frances McDormand kicks butt in whatever she’s in. And I agree with your assessment of the second half. It was a bit long.

    I saw Shrek 2 the other night. The first movie looks really, really, really lame, so when I saw it and liked it, it was a nice surprise.

    This one looked really lame, too, so that made me want to see it. Where the first movie had an interesting story colored with really clever comic devices and dialogue, this second only had the clever comic devices and dialogue–the story itself was long, slow, and uninteresting.

    Worth seeing, I suppose, but this is one of those rare films in the theaters where I had to get up and take a potty break just to get away from the movie for a few minutes.

    The highlight for me was getting to see the preview for the next Pixar film, The Incredibles.

  74. Reid

    Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…Spring (5 out of 10)

    A visual and poetic movie that is myth-like. There are many beautiful images represent important symbols and meaning in this film. (I can see how the film stayed with you, Chris.) I say this, without really haven’t thought very deeply or identified these symbols. Maybe if I did, I would like this film a bit more. (It seems like a film that Joseph Campbell fans would like.)

    From my viewing, I sort of felt like the themes and images were a bit cliched or even banal. I don’t know if the movie shed any new light or at least provided a different insight or angle into these themes.

    The film seems to deal with human weakeness and ways in which people try to effectively deal with these weaknesses, often in some act of penance. I think I might not have enjoyed this film enough because I didn’t invest enough of myself into it.

  75. Jenn

    I agree with Reid about the ending of Something’s Gotta Give. In my opinion, it felt too….convenient. Also, I didn’t get a sense that any significant amount of time had passed by before the reunion.

    I see Reid’s point about being tired of Jack’s characters because after a while they all sort of blend together since they are so similar. I’m a fan of Jack’s, but there’s no denying this.

    However, his persona fit this character perfectly. The feeling I got during/after this film brought back memories of Jack the Joker in Batman. Mock me if you will, but it was a perfect match. A better match, I’d say, than Willem Defoe as Norman Osborn.

  76. Chris Magnusson

    I saw a couple of movies recommend by idiots for idiots over the last few days: *Spellbound* and *Raising Victor Vargas*. I had been wanted to see them both for some time, and enjoyed them. I’m intrigued by *Gates of Heaven*, so maybe I’ll add it to my queue.

    I didn’t think the new *Harry Potter* movie was anything special, but it was certainly better than the other two (well, I turned off #2 about 30 minutes into it). I just want more screen time with Alan Rickman. More more more.

    I saw *Saved*. OK: certainly funnier if one was raised in or lives within an Evangelical Christian world/community and yet is dissatisfied with it. I could have been a lot better, and the director/writer over-vilifies the antagonistic characters (which I think wrecks his point). He also gets the evangelical language wrong at some points in my opinion. And of course, the premise is a little over the top. Nonetheless, entertaining. It made my wife Abra feel like vomiting at times due the reference to unendurable awkward elements of her childhood. A friend who went with us to the movie (who’s father is an Assemblies of God pastor) really loved the movie.

    ALSO: *Super Size Me*. The subject/narrator is ANNOYING. The idea is pretty good; it is like a very narrow and focused version of *Fast Food Nation*. Michael Moore lite. This movie also made Abra nauseated, but for different reasons.

    Anybody out there going to go see *Napolean Dynamite*?

    Also, for a huge laugh, watch the online trailer for *Alexander*. Oh dear does this look bad. Colin Farrel w/ Angelina Jolie as the love-interest.

    As for *Spring, Summer . . . *, I can agree with your criticisms Reid, but I enjoyed the unpredictability of the plot if not the ideas. I think one reason I enjoyed the movie was for the visual de-programming effect it had: very little scene change, slow movement, slow camera work. It was like being in a solemn church service and emerging awake and refreshed; or like the charms (for me) of good minimalist music (like some John Adams or Steve Reich) or art (like Rothko).

    Also: we saw most of a very odd movie called *Double Whammy*, which was surprisingly good (strange comedy). I won’t say more about it here.

    Wow. I guess I have seen a few movies lately.

  77. Reid

    Chris,

    I think if I was more in the right frame of mind I could have enjoyed the movie more. Actually, if I sat down and delved into the imagery and symbolism of the film, I suspect I would like it a lot more. It might be interesting to think about the Buddhist viewpoint in the film differs from a Christian one. (Then again, it might not lead to anything interesting at all. 🙂

    RVV and Spellbound Spoilers

    I’d be interested in hearing more of your comment about Raising Victor Vargas and Spellbound. Spellbound has one of my favorite scenes of the year: it’s the one where the black girl crumbles before our eyes, but somehow manages to hang on and survive. It was an inspiring scene, in the mold of Rocky.

    I can’t think of many better coming of age films than Raising Victor Vargas. The tenderness and vulnerability is real and not the schmaltz or slickness we see in many Hollywood teen films. I was particularly touched by the two girls, and the defenses they set-up, the fear and vulnerability they had–which you could totally understand given the sexually hostile environment. The scene where Victor and the girl finally let their walls down was really touching and moving. For all the flaws of using non-actors, those types of scenes made up for it.

    Re: Saved

    I’m curious to see it, too, but I feared that it would be burlesque, no subtlety. Still, I might end up seeing it.

    I never heard about Napolean Dynamite. What’s it about?

    I was bored by the Harry Potter movie. I’m wondering if it’s because I hadn’t read the book. I enjoyed the first film, mainly from the excitement of seeing the characters and situations I had read about.

  78. joel

    I just had a chance to screen the new upcomming movie with Jet Li “hero.” Due to release sometime this year I believe. The film with all of it’s poetic imagery which ranged from the sublime to meloncholy, was very “Asian,” within it’s story telling themes. Themes of honor, trust, love, and “doing what is right,” all ring true in this particular tale of China’s very first dynasty.

    This particular film wasn’t as good as “crouching Tiger hidden Dragon.” Although, I felt the cinematography was just as good if not better. The story has many “twists” and “turns” which I shall not reveil and also a lot of cool fighting scenes. The end of the film left me thinking about some of the decisions the characters made in the film which will leave for good discusion and debate after you see it. Still the film’s overall themes and storyline weren’t enough for me to give it a “ringing” endorsement. I give “hero” a solid 6.5 out of 10…(the half point is for the visual imagery of the film).

  79. Chris Magnusson

    I’ve been waiting for *Hero* to come out. Why do I like Jet Li so much?

    About RVV, Reid, I agree with your praises of the movie; it accomplished the amazing feat of neither person really being in control of the relationship, yet the relationship was somehow guided by both their fears and hopes. It was truly great . . . I didn’t realize the people were ‘non actors’ (well, they’re actors now . . . besides, the female lead’s best friend was in the move *Double Whammy* that I mentioned, and she was particularly good in RVV). I should have known due to the fact of the brother actually being brothers.

    It was a great movie, never satisfying stereotypes and not following conventions. It reminds me, as I type this, of *Buffalo 66* (did you see? — I won’t say more so as not to spoil anything).

    *Napolean Dynamite* is a movie about a nerdy outcast made by a mormon director, and it is getting quite good reviews. It just opened here last weekend.

    *Saved* is pretty much all about the burlesque, but there are some decent performances, and the subject matter is novel (if nothing else).

    Did you know our cat’s name is Max?

  80. pen

    I saw the new Harry Potter movie and was not really impressed by it. I was disappointed, even more so than my normal disappointment when I see the movie version after reading the book. I felt a disconnect between this movie and the first two, which makes sense since there was a change in directors. In the interviews with JK Rowling, Chris Columbus, et al they all rave about this movie, but I felt it fell flat. No real depth. Perhaps I will watch it again later and see if I feel differently.

  81. Reid

    Pen,

    Larri likes the Potter books, and she really didn’t like this third film, so it’s not just you.

    Chris,

    I liked the best friend of the lead female character in RVV, too. I particuarly liked the scene where they’re talking about their feelings towards guys. That was a good scene. She also played the love scene very well: the teenage awkwardness and clumsiness was all there.

    And yes, I still think about seeing Buffalo 66 because of you and Abra. (I also think about seeing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.) My dvd player is on the fritz, so my home movie watching is out. Well, I could watch the film on vcr…naaah.

    Thanks for the comments about Napolean Dynamite.

    Re: Jet Li

    I think he has a ferocity that is reminiscent of Bruce Lee (although not quite as intense). I don’t care when he speaks, too much, or when he plays a good guy. I guess that’s why I think his best role was as a villian in Lethal Weapon 4, a bad movie that really ruined a good vilian. He was pretty scary and formidable in that one. (Of course, his defeat was totally weak.)

    I didn’t know you named your cat, Max. Is there a Von Sydow resemblance? 🙂

  82. Reid

    I recently watched David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive and Bridget Jones’s Diary. I’ll talk about BJD later, when we discuss the book.

    I liked Mullholland Drive, although I haven’t figured it all out yet. I need to watch it again. Penny, if you want to watch it again, let me know.

  83. Reid

    I just watched The Son (6 out of 10), which is a movie that got a score of 90 at the metacritic site. (There are some serious rave reviews about this film.) I was pretty underwhelmed by the film, although I was really tired when watching it, but reading some of the reviews makes me wonder if I should watch it again.

    I will not say anything about the plot of the film (which you should know as little as possible about), but it was a very slow and methodical film. To me, the slowness (one critic described it as “sensory deprivation”) wasn’t effective for me. I don’t mind slow films, as long as something is going on: the visual aspects could be really interesting (as in Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice) or maybe the actor’s behavior and facial expressions are revealing important transformations and inner workings. There was very little of that in this film.

    I believe the lead actor won the best performance award at Canne that year (2003, btw), but his performance just didn’t move me. This is the type of quiet and subtle film and performance where the audience is either moved or they’re not. Quiet and subtle performances leave some people feeling profoundly moved and others bored out of their mind. It’s probably very subjective. Think of a film like In the Bedroom. I can see some viewers thinking nothing is really happening in the movie, but the performances in that film was so outstanding, albeit in a subtle way.

    Well, I was not very moved, although you might be. There are some other similiarities with In the Bedroom which I won’t mention here.

  84. Mitchell

    Sunset on the Beach this past Saturday was, as always a nice experience. The pre-movie entertainment was, as always, absolutely lousy, with Hawaii Stars finalists singing what sounded like completely unrehearsed patriotic songs, followed by a ridiculous booty-shaking contest.

    The Pacific Forces Marine Band then played an excellent set, finishing with a quite-good 1812 Overture, the finale of which was highlighted by a great fireworks show. I dislike fireworks, so for me to say the show was good really takes something.

    The film was Cheaper by the Dozen, but of course it wasn’t about the movie–it was about lounging in the sand on a near-perfect summer night and enjoying the community.

    The film was entertaining–I like Steve Martin in almost anything–but seriously flawed. Still, I enjoyed most of it.

  85. Jenn

    I agree, the pre-movie singers on Saturday’s Sunset on the Beach were absolutely terrible. Thank goodness for the Marine band – they saved us from more singing! Having fireworks going off right above your head is cool, but most excellent with the Marine band playing along.

    I had never seen Cheaper by the Dozen before, and while I agree with Mitchell and I also have issues with the film, it made me laugh more than I expected.

    It was a very enjoyable night. The stars were out and everything!

  86. Chris Magnusson

    I think I’ll watch *Mullholland* again soon. I liked it very much–a was a movie that a remember as a movie, and I remember as an experience of watching a movie. Very odd.

    I’m off to see the lauded Spiderman 2 in a few minutes.

    Chris

  87. Reid

    Spiderman 2 (7 out of 10)

    I really liked the first Spiderman because, despite some flaws, I thought Sam Raimi made a movie true to the spirit of the comic book. He also did a heck of a job combining two stories from the novel.

    I didn’t enjoy Spiderman 2 nearly as much because I thought the film sort of floundered around at certain points. The whole dilemma about being Spiderman or a normal personal just didn’t connect with me. I was kinda thrown off by Parker’s consciously give up his powers.

    In addition the flipping back and forth from that issue and Doctor Octopus wasn’t very smooth. I didn’t think they really developed the Dr. Octopus character very much or did a good job of building up to the climax.

    The one thing I did like about the film, at least better way better than the first film was the cgi. I really enjoyed some of the scenes (i.e. Spiderman spraying nets to catch people).

    Paycheck (7 out of 10)

    As my brother correctly predicted, I liked the concept of this film. There were some ridiculous moments in the film, but I enjoyed myself. 7 may a bit high of rating, but I’ll be nice.

  88. joel

    “the notebook”

    If you want to see the best romantic film of the summer see “notebook!” How’s that for a “teaser.” But seriously, “the notebook,” is a good sweet, sentimental, meloncholy story about two young “true” loves and the trials of life that they must both encounter. There’s something about the fire and passion you have when you’re in the “courting” stages of a relationship, I think everyone feels a little “warm hearted” about. It also speaks to the heart of speaking your mind and being and knowing who you are, questions we all continue to challenge ourselves with as we continue to grow as people.

    Although, the film doesn’t do a great job of addressing these themes, it was still entertaining enough for me to enjoy the show.

    There are definitely a lot of stereotypical elements and themes in this film, very reminicent of other great works, but as a whole I feel the story flowed very well.

    (I give “notebook” a solid 7 out of 10)

  89. burgess

    Rugrats in Paris

    Very predictable with some attitude, but any movie with a reptilian like creature destroying Paris can’t be all bad.

    Love Actually

    Surprisingly wonderful–great stories, great cast.

  90. Mitchell

    Three films in the last two days.

    Anchorman at the Cannery. Not very good. It had a few moments, but this is definitely one to save for the dollar theater, unless you’re boycotting the dollar theater, as I am.

    A Hard Day’s Night on DVD with my students. I can see why they say this is the best of the Beatles’ films. It’s still not great, but it’s pretty interesting all the way through, and the music, of course, is wonderful.

    Blackboard Jungle on VHS (it’s not on DVD yet, can you believe it?) right now in my house. I’m only a third of the way through this, and I just love it! My students, I think, are really going to dig it–they won’t believe how timely some of this stuff is in a 1955 movie. Students giving beat-downs to teachers (not to mention sexually assaulting one!), racism, poverty, school politics, and teachers struggling to avoid becoming cynical. Cool flick.

  91. pen

    King Arthur, which I enjoyed once I overlooked all the killing that was going on. Great portrayal of Arthur, and of course I liked the kick-butt Guinevere. It was a nice change from the CGI stuff I’ve been seeing a lot of lately.

    John, I also enjoyed Love Actually. Charming performances all around.

  92. Jenn

    Shaolin Soccer

    I thought it was fun and also liked the fact that it was subtitled instead of *shudder* dubbed.

  93. Tony

    Since I have no life, I’ve seen quite a few movies of late.

    Penny- Sorry Sirius Black the Movie… I’m sorry… Harry Potter 3 never clicked with you. Caught it for a third time a couple of weeks ago, and I still got chills. True, they left WAY too much out. And yes, there is a disconnect with the previous movies. But what (little) they did, they did very well. Loved the new feel of Hogwarts.

    Couple of you mentioned Love Actually. Second best mainstream movie of last year (behind ROTK) in my opinion. Any why? Two reasons: the moment Kiera Knightly’s character watches the video and the moment the little boy runs through the airport. Wow.

    Agree with you on Arthur, Penny. Still, I’m all about the myth (made me go flip through The Once and Future King again). Spider-Man 2 was a good movie with 3 or 4 great moments. The Clearing was a nice, no fanfare movie. And the Chronicles of Riddick was the biggest waste of my money since Operation: Dumbo Drop.

  94. Reid

    You know how there are movies that they always show on TV, and you enjoy watching it when it comes on. Well, this past week I watched one of those: The Taking of Pelham, One, Two, Three.

    They used to play this all the time on TV before, but not anymore. I caught this on Turner Classics, and it was the first time I saw the unedited version. (Turner actually allowed the profanity to get through.)

    Anyway, this is a really top-notch thriller. If you haven’t seen this film yet, I would recommend it. I would give the film an 8 overall, but a 10 for the direction and writing. If there is a flaw in the direction and writing, I don’t know what it is.

    I really like the flow of this movie and the little details that add suspence to the film. The film keeps throwing little things at the viewer to make it interesting. One thing happens after the other to keep the viewer engaged.

    I also love the casting in this film. The actors are not glamorous. You have Walter Matthau as the lead actor, and he’s playing a transit cop. Jerry Stiller, of all people, is playing his side-kick. It seems strange, but it works. Both actors look like people who would do these jobs.

    Robert Shaw is also terrific as one of the villians. And Hector Elizando (sp?) plays a psychotic killer in a really effectifve and surprising way.

    If you want to know the general plot, the movie is about a few men that take over a New York subway train. I’ll leave it at that. This is a solid film.

  95. Mitchell

    I saw that on TV a few years ago and yeah, it’s quite good.

    There was also a TV-remake of it last year or the year before. I didn’t catch that, but the fact that there was a remake sorta says something.

  96. Chris

    Well, I risked seeing “I, Robot” the other day, and it was better than I expected: the painfully dully predictable moments were few, and only at the very end. A bit outlandish at times (action-wise), but overall decent, and Will Smith is a charmer.

    And *Anchorman*, I agree, is not really worth spending much money on.

    Anyone out there see *Napolean Dynamite* yet?

    I saw what was supposed to be a ‘classic’ great SciFi movie, called *The Lathe of Heaven* the other day on DVD. Not so good — couldn’t understand the hype. And for some twisted reason, Abra and I sat through some of *Chitty Chitty Bang Bang*. Do not ask me why.

    We are working through Season Two of *Buffy* right now. I’m glad it was on for so long — and occasionally I find an episode I haven’t seen. This experience will no doubt dry up soon.

    I look forward to seeing *The Corporation* soon . . .

    Chris

  97. Tony

    Chris- Saw Napoleon Dynamite Sunday afternoon. I enjoyed it for what it was. Poor guy. Was strange because it seemed set in the 80s but had all the technology of the 90s. Guess that’s Idaho for you!! Definitely a matinee.

    Saw I,Robot as well. I think it’s the most I’ve been suprised all summer. Really didn’t expect much out of it, but I really enjoyed it. I thought the mystery was well set and the “flashbacks” were a nice touch. Sure you could predict some of it, but it still had me tense at moments. Much better than anticipated!

    And here I told myself I would stay away from the theater for a while…

  98. Reid

    Max,

    I believe the novel, Lathe of Heaven is considered to be one of the best sci-fi novels of all time.

    I loved Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang when I was a kid. There is one of the creepiest villians of all time in that film.

  99. Jenn

    Aw Tony, I wish I had as much free time as you do. At least for right now. =)

  100. Mitchell

    Hey, hey. There’s nothing “free” about his time! He earned every leisurely minute of it!

    Kidding. I know you know that.

  101. burgess

    Open Range

    Not a whole lot of whiskey drinking for a Western. The movie started slow, and picked up a little, but overall, it was king of boring, very predictable bad guys get theirs in the end.

    American Splendor

    I hadn’t heard of American Splendor before–I just saw it on the shelf and noticed it was a five day rental, so I picked it up. I enjoyed it very much. In a world that throws around the word “hero” to describe either incompetence or just the unluckiness of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Harvey Pekar would certainly qualify as every man’s hero.

  102. Reid

    I wanted to like Open Range–Costner and Duvall got me excited. Plus, it looked like a Lonesome Dove kind of thing. (I loved Duvall as Gus.) But the movie was a mess. It was like some executive said, “Let’s get Duvall, Costner and make a Western. Nevermind the plot. We’ll just throw a bunch of cliches together, and, oh yeah, get Annette Bening as Costner’s love interest, and we got ourselves a winner.”

    I liked the “slow” gun battle at the end because it was different.

  103. pen

    I saw De-Lovely over the weekend. I was probably one of the youngest people in the theatre (which is becoming more and more of a rarity these days!) I enjoyed the movie, although it is tragic and bittersweet. Very good performances by the lead actors and worth seeing even though you know very little about Cole Porter (like myself). Beware: some of your fellow patrons may break into song during the movie!

  104. Jenn

    Hey Mitchell: Nyeh! =P

    All I’m saying is that you teachers more than deserve your breaks – I just envy you sometimes. Not the work that you do – just your vacations. =)

  105. burgess

    Reid,

    I wanted to like Open Range also, mostly because I love a good Western, which Open Range wasn’t. I’m not a big Costner fan, but I really liked Lonesome Dove, and I agree, Duval was great. In Open Range, it seemed as if Duvall and Costner were actors pretending to be cowboys, which I guess they were, also, “E.R. Jerry” was kind of sorry.

  106. Reid

    Who was “E.R. Jerry” again?

    I actually liked the characters, but I didn’t feel like the director/writer fleshed them or the story out enough.

  107. Mitchell

    I liked Open Range. I liked how (physically) dark it was, and I liked the relationship between the main characters. Costner and Duvall were a great combination, and I like pictures that show men having honest, mutually admiring conversations with one another.

    I also like the slow gunfight at the climax. Very, very well-done.

  108. burgess

    “E.R. Jerry” is the guy that plays Jerry on E.R. I don’t know the actor’s name, though I guess I could easily find out.

  109. burgess

    Outfoxed

    No real surprises in this film. Greenwald makes a great case against Fox news–presents an overwhelming amount of evidence. Of course the doccumentary is one-sided, though probably not the fault of the filmmaker.

  110. Reid

    I want to see Outfoxed even though it may be biased. I also want to see The Corporation. I really hope it’s not another Farenheit 911, though.

    I’ve heard that Conservatives are going to make documentaries with their own spin now. I really hope these political documentaries don’t turn into “Cross-Fire” or “The McLaughlin Group” (but I fear they will).

  111. Reid

    Better Luck Tomorrow (7 out of 10)

    I agree with people who have said this is the next generation of Asian-American films (not that there is much of it out there). The self-consciousness of culture is not so present. Well, almost.

    There is a slight sense that the filmmaker, Justin lin, is consciously trying to shattered stereo-types of Asians while playing on them at the same time. For example, the main characters are terrific students from middle-to-upper class families. However, they the sorts of criminal activities you would see in gangsta-movies. Joel described the film as an Asian version of Boys in the Hood, and in a way I can see that.

    But the film is not about Asian American culture, at least not in a direct way, and that’s a big development, imo. Another film like that (and a better one at that) was Charlotte Sometimes made by a local guy. I was really impressed by that film, especially since it was his first.

    I didn’t think the story was that strong in this film, yet the filmmaker did a good job of keeping my interest. I never really got bored with the film, and I kept wanting to see what would happen next.

    Not a great film, but I am definitely interested in watching Justin Lin’s next film.

  112. Reid

    Before Sunrise (8 out of 10)

    This is a contender for top 10 best romantic films of all time. If I gave a short description of the film it would be: Generation X Woody Allen film. (Ethan Hawke even talks like Woody Allen at times.) The movie revolves around conversations: an American (James, played by Ethan Hawke) waiting in Vienna and a French woman (Celine, played by Julie Delphy) he convinces to hang out with him for a day before flying back. What they talk about is the kind of thing Gen-Xers (at least in film and TV) talk about: death, relationships, parents, pop culture and the meaning of life. And thatís about all that happens, in addition to the development of their relationship.

    There are some good conversations and good dialogue. I love the way James convinces Celine to spend the day with him. Itís charming and believable. (Note: I would think that Hawke and Delphy would have to have chemistry to make this film work, and I first I didnít really get that, specifically, I didnít care for Hawke in the role. But he grew on me later.) Thereís also a great scene where Celine pretends to call up her best friendówith James playing the part of the best friend.

    At one point in the film Celine says something about not sleeping with him because it would make a great story for him when he went homeóìI met a French woman on a train and then slept with her.î Itís true, and thatís part of the appeal of the movie. You meet someone on the train and spend one great day with them in a European city. You canít get much more romantic than that.

    The fact that their relationship lasts for a day (and the characters are aware of this) makes the film even more romantic. Yes, itís sad, but some of the best romantic stories are sad. So too with this film.

    Read my review and comment on the film at the V-I site here Before Sunrise/Before Sunset

  113. burgess

    Something’s Gotta Give

    I was disappointed with this movie. From the beginning, I really wanted to like it. In fact, I almost convinced myself that it was a good movie, but despite some really good scenes between Nicholson and Keaton, in the end, it didn’t win me over.

    I agree with some of the other comments people made about this movie. It needed to be rewritten, reedited, or re-something. I would say recast, but I don’t think Keanu Reeves was the big problem with the movie, although he clearly did not hold his own when appearing with Nicholoson or Keaton. There was too much disconnect.

    I felt as if I was watching a far-less interesting version of As Good as it Gets.

  114. Tony

    I suppose I’m just one of those people that think M. Night Shyamalan can do no wrong. Saw The Village this weekend and really enjoyed it. The acting was spot-on. The dialogue, though it took a while to get used to, was great, and the twist(s) were just fine. I don’t want to say it’s my total M. Night favorite (personal attachment to Unbreakable), but it could very well be the one where he effectively brings everything he’s been working on together. Granted, lots of people will probably disagree (darn you, Entertainment Weekly), but that’s okay.

  115. Chris

    I saw the new *Manchurian Candidate* a couple of days ago. Decent, nothing remarkable; he played w/ political stereotypes well. On a Reid scale, about a 6 out of 10. I liked it a little more than not.

    I also saw *Confessions of a Dangerous Mind*. Great idea, some good performances, but it unravels over and over again. Which may be the point. The lead, Sam Rockwell, did very well though. And there were a lot of surprising cameos. (It was directed by George Clooney–I guess he was calling in all his favors).

    Chris

  116. Reid

    Tony,

    Is there a lot of “whispery” dialogue in the film? I find that really annoying.

    John,

    I enjoyed SGG a lot more than AGAIG mainly because Nicholson was more believable–or maybe the word is palatable–for me. In AGAIG, I didn’t buy his vulnerability and insecurity. I felt Nicholson couldn’t get past his super-confident, cokcy persona.

    I did buy his vulnerability in SGG. He toned down his performance to the point where he didn’t have that wildness that many of his other performances had (including the one in AGAIG).

    I also had a hard time buying the relationship in AGAIG. Again, I had no problem in the SSG. With some rewrites and revision, SSG could have been great. They had the characters and the relationship. They just needed to clean up the story.

    Chris,

    I saw Manchurian Candidate, too.

    (Spoiler alert)

    I liked the updating of some of the elements of the film. Switching the villians from the Chinese to a global corporation was a nice touch. I actually had depressing thoughts about the futility of trying to improve democracy in the U.S. The wealthy have been in control, so why bother.

    Anyway, I think I would give the film a 6 out of 10, too. I had two big problems with it:

    1. Marco’s quest to figure out what’s going on is very slow going. There is no energy or drive in his quest, which results in a feeling of boredom.
    2. The ending was disatisfying. While watching the film, the themes of the film seemed quite subversive, but I wondered how subversive this film could be, given that it was made via the major studios. Based on the ending, the answer is not very.

      How and why does Marco shoot the VP (and his mother!)? There’s no explanation, and I think there should be one. They even find a way for Marco’s character to get away. Even seeing the board of Manchurian Global seems pat. The ending just felt like something that Hollywood Executives forced on the filmmakers.

      Here’s the ending I would have wanted to see (and I had some small hope that I might): After Marco shoots the VP and his mother, the FBI rush in to save Marco, but they’re too late. (There are ways we can make Marco die, but the point is that he dies.) In the last scene we see the board of Manchurian Global. The lighting is dark and ominous. They’re talking about what happened. Basically, Senator Prentiss, with her stunt of using her son to kill another Senator, has made her dangerous to the company, so they decide to use Marco to kill her son. (You can have dialogue about how they lucked out and saved them the trouble of the Senator at another time.) The last line in the film can be something to the effect that they’re going to start all over, but in time they will get their person in the White House.

    1. Tony

      There is some whispery dialogue in there, but it’s said by Bryce Dallas Howard, who could whisper in my ear anytime she wanted (heh heh). Also a bit of stilted… let… me… take… time to say what needs to be said dialogue. Which is fine by me, but I can understand your concern.

      Saw Manchurian Candidate as well. Enjoyed it, though I see the point on the lack of focus in Marco’s quest. I hear the original is quite good (and recently on DVD). May have to check it out.

      Anyone out there ever see Donnie Darko? Had some 8th graders said that they loved it this morning, which suprised me. I saw the original version in the theater, but have yet to hear if the director’s cut will ever make it out this way.

    2. Reid

      The original version of Manchurian Candidate is worth watching, particularly for Angela Landsbury’s performance. (She won an Oscar for this role, I believe.) It would be also interesting to see the changes that were made from the original.

      I saw Donnie Darko. In fact, when Chris was here last, we were both supposed to watch it, but I went to bed. He recommended it, so I eventually watched it. I thought it was an interesting concept, but ultimately a mess. I was pretty confused near the end. The director’s and Gyllenhall’s commentary only added to that feeling. (On a sidenote, most of the commentary I’ve listened to has usually diminished the film and my opinion of the filmmakers, at least more so than doing the opposite.) I liked the 80’s soundtrack and some of the scenes.

    3. Reid

      Battle of Algiers (6 out of 10)

      Six may be too low a number, but it probably reflects my level of enjoyment more than the quality of the film. This is a film about Algerian struggle for independence from France. The Algerians resort to ism to win independence, and finally France brings in the military to take care of these rebels.

      The film was made in the 60’s, but it is very relevant to what is happening today. The French resort to to get information about Algerian leaders, and the French press question them about this.

      The film does a really fantastic job of creating a documentary feel. Many of the scenes look like actual footage, but the filmmaker notes that none of the scenes are from news footage.

      What I really appreciate about the film is the balanced treatment of both sides of the conflict. There are no simple black-and-white characterizations of the different sides. In that way, it reminds of films like Dead Man Walking or the recent Monster. All of these films should be commended for a balanced treatment of the issues and characters.

      Unagi (7 out of 10)

      Seven may be too a high number, and it, too, reflects more my level of enjoyment of the film rather than the overall quality of it. (I’d give it a 5 or 6 if I was rating it by more objective criteria.)

      A big reason why I liked this film is because of Koji Yakusho, the same actor who played the lead in the wonderful, Shall We Dance. There is something compelling and sympathetic about him, just by his look.

      The film is about a guy who kills his wife when he discovers her cheating on him. The film is about his life after prison, particuarly when a young woman that looks like his wife unexpectedly comes into his life.

      Now, let me just say that the poster and comments I’ve read about this film is really misleading. The poster is a picture of a guy that looks like Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now. The image is also in red. This image, plus the premise of the story made me think this film was one of those , dark Japanese films.

      There are some dark elements, but mostly this film is light and even comedic. As Yakusho’s character, Yamashita, settles down in a small town as a barber, he meets several likeable characters. They are slightly comic and touching. Think of the supporting characters in something like Nothern Exposure (except not as quirky) or the film, Nobody’s Fool, and you get the idea. There are some zany scenes that one would expect to see in a sit-com or a Juzo Itami film.

      Btw, the film is called Unagi (“eel” in Japanese) because Yamashita has a pet eel. He talks to the eel and the eel provides him comfort. There are surreal scenes with the eel, like the kind of surrealism in Trainspotting, and I guess the eel is a metaphor for something. I never really figured it out or gave it much thought.

      Besides the presence of Yakusho and his friends, I liked the relationship between Yamashita and the that works for him, Keiko. For the most part, the relationship and the film has a light, sit-com-y feeling, not something incredibly dark or profound (although there are a few scenes and a scene of graphic ). It’s their relationship and the development that made the film likeable to me.

    4. Reid

      Joel,

      I haven’t seen the Notebook, but if it’s a better romantic movie than Before Sunset, that will be saying something. You like the sweetness and thrill of a relationship in the early stages? Well, you get that in the film Before Sunrise–which I have and will gladly let you borrow. See that first, and then go and see Before Sunset.

      The latter deserves a thorough review, which I will try to deliver soon.

    5. Chris

      Strangely enough, Abra was eating Unagi two nights ago and I was remembering the movie, and the pet eel. I saw it probably 6 or so years ago, and do not remember it too well; I had high expectations, and was (only a little) let down.

      I still really like Donnie Darko, and hope to see the director’s cut.

      Chris

    6. Mitchell

      Okay. A few comments.

      The Village. Reid, you are going to HATE this movie, but see it anyway, so I can be right about you and a movie for once (although, I was thinking about this last night, and I did predict you would like The Country Girl and The Winslow Boy). Tony’s right–Bryce Dallas Howard is good to look at, but she looks so much like her father that kissing her would be like kissing Richie Cunningham, Bucko. Huh, huh, huh.

      Roger Ebert is right–there’s no way to evaluate this movie without spoiling it for someone, so everyone go see it and we can talk about what my problem is with it. Tony already knows.

      Pillow Talk is the film by which Down with Love is inspired. If you liked that film (and I did), you really should check this one out. It’s not as odd as I expected it to be, seeing Rock Hudson in a role like this.

      The Manchurian Candidate.
      SPOILER FOR THE REST OF THIS COMMENT
      Marco killed Shaw because Shaw asked him to. In fact, he kept asking him to. It was the way Shaw was finally set free, and it validated what Marco said earlier about there being a bond between the two men. Shaw was basically affirming that the bond between them was stronger than the compulsions he couldn’t explain. It was also a way for him to be the hero for his country everyone thought him to be, rather than the fraud he knew he was.

    7. Reid

      Mitchell,

      It’s going to be tough going to a movie that you think I’ll hate. We’ll see.

      Spoiler

      That’s a good explanation. But I wish showed the audience why the relationship was so close or that it was close while they were in the military. Everytime Shaw talked about the relationship, I didn’t buy it, especially the first time they saw each other when Shaw told him not to touch him.

    8. Reid

      State and Main (6 out of 10)

      A Mamet film. Six may be a little too low. I just didn’t find the story or characters very compelling, although there were some nice moments. I’m going to compare any movie about movie-making with Truffault’s Day For Night, and the ones that I have seen do not compare favorably with that film (not a super great film, but a good one). I mean, if you’re going to make a movie about movie-making, you’re going to have to add something or else why make it? That’s my feeling anyway.

    9. Reid

      Since Friday, I saw a bunch of films:
      Chain Reaction (4 out of 10)
      Collateral (5 out of 10)

      Let’s start with Chain Reaction. This is one of those sci-fi films that you see at the video store, and you think maybe it’s one of those entertaining films that slipped through the cracks. Well, it’s not. Even with Morgan Freeman, this is not a good film. Keanu Reeves also stars as a scientist, of all things. The film is more of an action film than a sci-fi, and it’s not a very good one at that (hence, casting Keanu). Anyway, if you feel tempted to rent this, resist the temptation. Of course, I’m can be pickier than most about action films, so you might be entertained by this.

      Collateral is a Michael Mann action film, too, and as such it’s also not very good, imo. If I were judging this film strictly as an action film, I would give it low marks. The action scenes, taken at face value, are really implausible and silly. Some of the action scenes–particularly the resolution of them–are not very thrilling either.

      But because it’s a Michael Mann film, there might be some interesting themes that Mann may (I say “may” because I’m not totally convinced.) be trying to deal with within the action genre. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, so I thought about the possible themes that Mann wanted to deal with.

      (Spoiler Alert)

      So far the only thing I could come up with is a contrast being two types of people: the cold, ambition of the ìcorporateî man, Tom Cruiseís, Vincent versus Jamie Foxxís, Max, the decent, but not-so-successful man. Vincent is a man of action, but has no heart or conscience. Max has some ambitions, but he doesnít act on them. Vincent tells Max that he makes all these plans, but heíll never do them. Itís only at the end that Max and Vincent confront each other that Max resolves this issue.

      Itís this aspect of the filmónot the action or thriller parts of itóthat make the film interesting. I donít know if the film succeeds on that level or not. In that way, it reminds of the recent film, Changing Lanes. I think Mannís films like Heat and Thief are also like that.

      I havenít worked out the story, so if anyone sees it and ìgetsî it, please share your thoughts here.

    10. Chris

      I have been watching the Six Feet Under series (season 2 now) on DVD over the last few weeks. Does anyone out there watch/enjoy these. They are harrowing to watch sometimes — almost always in a good way. And terribly funny as well, sometimes a bit naughty. The characterizations are very well done. It doesn’t provide the same kind of ‘oh my, my favorite meal AGAIN’ feeling that Buffy does, but it works better as a serious drama, though quite inventive.

    11. Tony

      I caught the first season on DVD and quite enjoyed it. I found Peter Krause’s character to be a great image of an everyman dealing with a life he’d rather not. Have only caught bits and pieces since then. Would you say the series had a sophomore slump?

    12. Reid

      I’ve heard positive comments about the series, but I’ve never seen it, Chris. Have you seen the British series, The Office? I heard some excerpts on an NPR interview, and they were hilarious. I think it’s the kind of humor that would appeal to you, too.

    13. Chris

      I’ll check that one out. I like finding serials that are available on DVD.

      I just saw watched *The Secretary*. Quite provocative. I don’t know that I would recommend it, but it stayed with me; I never knew where it was going, or what kind of story it was going to be (if that makes any sense). Maggie Gyllenhaal took some risks making this one.

      Anyone else out there see this one? Really crazy. I don’t want to say more, just about anything would spoil it.

      Chris

    14. Reid

      Chris,

      I saw The Secretary. I actually watched it twice. Here are my comments that I posted at the cafeutne.org. There was a lively discussion and strong disagreement about this movie. Here are my comments:

      “OK, I saw this over the weekend (twice).

      First of all, I just want to say that the trailer was one of the most misleading trailers that I can remember. The trailer, imo, gave me the impression of a comedy. Then again, maybe this was a comedy, but it certainly didn’t work as a comedy for me. There might have been one or two funny moments, but I didn’t see it as a comedy.

      Secondly, I want to say that I thought Maggie Gyllenhaal did a really good job. (I think she could have got nominated for an Academy Award.
      I can’t recall the different female lead nominees, but I’m betting she was better than some of them.) I liked the scene where Mr. Gray (played by James Spader)confronts Lee (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal). Gyllenhall’s face shows her coming to an understanding when Mr. Gray tells her why she scars herself is wonderful.

      Anyway, her good performance is precisely why I had a hard time enjoying this film. She really made me feel for her. I thought she was a very troubled person with serious psychological problems, and(as others have mentioned, I guess) I felt like the filmmaker swept(or should I say, “spanked”) away those problems in a way that I just couldn’t buy. I’m not into S&M, so I can’t really relate to how that experience could affect someone, but I have a hard time believing
      that an S&M relationship could basically “cure” her, of what seemed to be, severe problems. What Gray did to her–she being in the kind of
      state that she was in–was disturbing as well. I thought she was vulnerable and disturbed; someone really desperate for love. And then she meets someone like Gray. I felt that Gray “going for” Lee was creepy and wrong–or at least would have been, but the director didn’t portray it that way.

      I could not get beyond this fact, and so I was pretty irritated by the end of the film.

      However, when I watched it a second time, I tried to look more at theh Gray character and the relationship between Gray and Lee. OK, I could see how the filmmaker tried to make this film about their relationship and about Lee helping Gray. And if the filmmaker didn’t portray Lee as a
      person with these severe problems, I might have gotten into the film. For example, if Lee was a shy person who never fit in, but didn’t have these major problems, I think I could have enjoyed the film more.

      Having said all this, I thought there was a good idea in this
      filmmaker, and I appreciated the intelligence in the film….well,
      except for that one point.

    15. Chris

      I agree with your problems w/ the film, or at least the plotting and characterization. Self-wounding is I suppose a problem, though it might not always be the same as suicidality, and I think that is what the movie may have been trying to portray.

      And if I shifted into the mind of the Spader character (who also did a really good job), he was a sympathetic character: compulsive, guilt-ridden, unable to connect. Even though he was so distasteful, he experiences a more remarkable redemption in some ways that does Lee: his tender caring touch of her at the end, bathing her, etc., almost like his is learning to do these things for himself.

      The movie just refused to give into all the cliches it was begging for (other than the acoustic guitar playing while she ran across the park in her wedding dress — which was a little like the Graduate and so that was cool and besides it was about time something opened up in her experience). And, SHE ended up somewhat in control eventually. It was definitely quite a movie: it played with all the conventional notions of victimhood in movies too.

      Hey, it sounds like we like the same movie to about the same degree.

      I think I’m going to watch *The Fog of War* tonight. Well, maybe not, that might be a big bummer. We’ll see.

      Chris

    16. Mitchell

      I liked Secretary for all the reasons Reid and Chris mentioned (especially Maggie Gyllenhaal’s terrific acting), but didn’t have the same problems with it. I found it unsatisfying in the way I find most dark comedies unsatisfying–I suspect it’s because I never get what they’re trying to do.

      Cutters do what they do mainly for two reasons (if I remember my reading), I think: they either use physical pain as a secret expression of their emotional pain (this is why some of them most enjoy seeing the blood–it’s like a painting of what’s going on inside) or they use it so they can feel anything at all because they’re sorta numb inside. So it makes total, total sense to me that she would be drawn to this relationship. Someone understands her need to feel something, and someone is willing to provide that.

      I understand sadism much, much, much less. In fact, not at all. But if I can assume that the sincere desire to hurt someone can be compared to the sincere desire to be hurt, this relationship is sweet, in an odd, twisted way–perhaps it can be compared to the Nicholas Cage & Elisabeth Shue relationship in Leaving Las Vegas: a relationship in which two people love each other in a way that’s perfect for them but slightly incomprehensible to the rest of us.

      In any case, worth seeing but maybe not worth seeing more than once. I love, love, love Maggie, though.

    17. Reid

      Chris,

      Wait, I think you’re getting the wrong impression from my reaction to the film. I appreciated elements of it, but that one big hang-up I had was a really BIG hang-up.

      Gray is transformed, and he’s tender to her at the end. Yes, that was sweet. But the premise that Lee can be redeemed by S&M overshadows that scene. It also overshadows the control that she does seem to achieve at the end. The “victories” the characters achieve seem false and unrealistic.

      As I mentioned in some part of the Utne discussion, if Lee did not seem to be in so much pain–if she were just a social outcast, for example–then I don’t think I would have had as a big a problem with S&M being the source of her redemption.

    18. Tony

      Reid- have you ever read Utne magazine?

    19. Reid

      Tony,

      Yes, I have. I had a subscription a in the mid-90’s, and I have one now.

      Mitchell,

      There is a sweetness to the relationship, and it’s not the S&M, per se, that makes the relationship unbelieveable and unenjoyable to watch for me. Rather, it’s the fact that Lee has so many problems and pain in her life, and getting ed and having a relationship with Gray can remedy that seems pat and dismissive of some serious problems. Lee really seems to have a bad family life, and Gyllenhaal gives a convincing portrayal of the misery and pain that she’s in. I guess, S&M–particularly as a means to healing and redemption–is really beyond my understanding.

      But even if I can’t totally understand the desire for an S&M relationship, I do not believe the kind of problems that Lee has can be overcome as easily as the film made it appear.

      WRT, Leaving Las Vegas, I think I “got” the relationship between Cage’s and Shue’s character. Cage was going down in flames no matter what, and Shue’s character was willing to be with him–accept him and this fate–along this descent. Why would Shue’s character do this?

      I think there are several factors. For one thing, Cage was a character more pitiful than she. In the early part of the film, Shue is almost (if not) d by a bunch of frat boys. This is a traumatic experience, and you can sense that Shue’s charcter is low and not feeling good about herself. Then she meets Cage’s character.

      Because he’s just as pitiful and needy, if not moreso, than she is, she can believe that she can actually do do something good, maybe even something beautiful, to this person. Cage provides Shue with an opportunity to do something good for someone else. It’s like she’s a loving nurse, a Mother Theresa figure to wait until Cage dies.

      It’s tragic, but beautiful at the same time. That’s how I felt when I first saw it, but I wonder if I would still feel that way today.

    20. Chris

      Reid–

      I don’t know if S&M is really the (at least only) redemptive thing. She learns to type; she wants to be a secretary; she has the courage to get a job; she learns to enjoy doing good work; she has a boyfriend and some very good moments with him. She throws away her ‘kit’ that she uses to hurt herself, and doesn’t fall back into it, instead optting to hold out for a ‘solution’ that involves love and human contact. Yes, the redemptive conclusion is perhaps unrealistic, but the movie takes place over at least 6 months’ time, and it is only a small redemption in a way, only a beginning.

      Don’t get me wrong; I have a big time accepting S&M as healthy behavior, but it brings up the issue of who/what behaviors are considered the most socially unacceptable, and what people experience at those extremes. Like a movie about a sex offender trying to get well — you don’t see that much, but the theme & story I could find really compelling.

      What about the redemptive them in *Jesus’ Son*. That one seems highly ‘realistic’ or whatever. He finds slow recovery through therapy — incremental little steps. I loved that film, but I can’t remember if you liked it or not.

      Chris

    21. Reid

      Chris,

      But doesn’t Gray say you’ll never need that “kit” again, implying that the S&M acts will replace the kit? In any event, I don’t have a big hang-up over the S&M acts by themselves, just that her problems seemed to solved in a pat way. Well, the implications that a S&M relationship took care of her troubles is also troubling.

      I would find a sex offender trying to recover very compelling–but not if he/she got healed by S&M! 🙂

      I really liked the beginning of Jesus’ Son. I liked the premise and the way the filmmaker told the story, but it kind of let me down at the end.

    22. Chris

      I think you could maintain that it was more love than S & M that was redeeming — she tried finding S&M experiences elsewhere. Of course, why she would actually find herself *loving* the guy, but who knows. And by getting rid of the kit, she wasn’t just making an ‘equal’ trade — it was a tremendously courageous thing to do, wasn’t it? Trading in the controlled lonely suffering of her family life for the hope for intimacy and understanding w/ another person?

      I’m stretching the film a bit here a realize, and these things are occuring to me as I write.

    23. Reid

      I thought the film was interesting and original, and I wanted to be happy about their relationship in the end, but I couldn’t. Btw, isn’t the movie based on a book? It might be interesting to see what the book is like.

    24. Chris

      Yes, it’s a short story I believe. It is by a woman who’s name I’ve forgotten.

    25. Reid

      Weekend

      This is an art-film by Jean-Luc Godard. What is it about? Leonard Maltin’s guide describes it as a critique against Western Capitalism (or something like that), and that sounds about right. I’m not sure what I think about it.

    26. Tony

      Can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve seen a movie! Good grief! Did anyone catch Love Me If You Dare? Hate that I missed it. Also, does anyone have plans to catch Garden State now that it has come out on the island? Also saw that The Corporation is showing at Doris Duke theater. So much to see!

    27. Chris

      I watched *The Fog of War* last night. I would recommend this movie to anyone — especially in my age range (35) or older. Heck, anyone. It is about Robert McNamara, who served as Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam war, and was part of the planning unit that turned out the firebombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities in WWII. It is ALL him talking, original video, etc., no narration, and was fascinating. He is quite frank at times (or just able to say ‘I won’t be talking about that’.

      Anyway, a great documentary, minimal in the slanting techniques, and possibly a good antidote to the F911 hubbub.

      No idea what I’ll watch next.

      Chris

    28. Reid

      Chris,

      Have you seen Mass Appeal before? It’s a film starring Jack Lemmon as a Catholic priest that takes on an unconventional younger priest-to-be. It’s funny, poignant, while not treating the religious issues in a totally silly way. If you don’t know what to watch next, I recommend that. (What’d you think of L’Avventura btw?)

      I’ve also seen Fog of War, and I found McNamara interesting. If there were some criticisms I had, I felt the different lessons he learned didn’t quite fit together in a very coherrent way. I also thought the film got kind of boring at some points.

      (Small Spoilers)
      But all in all the film kept my interest. McNamara is an intelligent guy, and I wanted to learn from him. One of my favorite scenes is when he’s describing some of the photographs with him and LBJ. Some of the revelations about the Vietnam War and the Cuban Missile Crisis were also chilling.

      Tony,

      I believe Love Me If You Dare is still playing at Varsity. Penny, Grace and I will be going to see The Corporation tonight.

    29. Reid

      Penny, Grace and I saw the Corporation last night. They didn’t really cover any new territory, and I felt the film was organized in a very coherrent fashion. The filmmakers divided the film into chapters, and there didn’t seem to be overarching theme or focus to tie everything together (besides the fact that the film was about corporations). The film was also 2 1/2 hours, and it felt that way.

    30. Reid

      Sunrise; Song of Two Humans (7 out of 10)
      Passion of Joan of Arc (6 out of 10)
      Last Tango in Paris

      I saw F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise and Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc a couple of weeks ago. Both of them are silent films.

      If you’re interested in the trial of Joan of Arc, and you like striking black-and-white photography portraits, I would recommend seeinng Passion.

      If you can get over the oldness of the film, I would recommend Sunrise. There are some cool images as well as wonderful scenes between husband and wife working through problems.

      I also watched Last Tango in Paris a couple of days ago. Bernardo Bertolucci directed this film with Marlon Brando as the lead. The film was both controversial for it’s sex scenes as well as acclaimed by some as one of Brando’s best performances.

      I feel I need to watch it again to feel comfortable with a verdict. I can say that I was a little disappointed, especially since I felt the story had a lot of promise.

      It’s more of an art film, so I wouldn’t recommend it to people who usually don’t like art films. For those who can sometimes enjoy art films, I think there are some interesting things in the film. It’s worth watching if you’re a Brando fan, especially since some thing this is one of his better performances. You may also like the cinematography and use of the camera in the film. I would caution those who are not into disturbing scenes that involve sex.

      Follow these links to read more and discuss at V-I:

      Sunrise;

      Passion of Joan of Arc;

      Last Tango in Paris.

    31. Reid

      Btw, several weeks ago, I watched a movie called The Interview. The film is about a police officer interrogating a suspect of a crime (which I won’t say). Hugo Weaving, Agent Smith of Matrix, is the suspect. It really sounded interesting, but it was disappointing. I might have missed some important details, so if anyone sees this and likes it let me know.

    32. Tony

      I saw Garden State this past weekend. I enjoyed it quite a bit more than I expected. I’ve only been able to sit through one and a half or so episodes of Zach Braff in Scrubs, so I was a little leary of the movie. It was wonderfully shot, well acted, and quite funny. It was the most I’d laughed out loud since Super-Size Me. It’s R for a reason, but well worth the watching.

      All that and Remy Zero shows up on the soundtrack. Who could ask for anything more?

    33. pen

      I think I liked Corporation more than Reid or Grace did. They springboard from the courts determining that the corporation is a “person.” I definitely recommend it. I didn’t think it seemed 2-1/2 hours long.

    34. Reid

      Btw, here are some other films reviews/discussions at the V-I that some of you may not know about. If you’ve seen the film and want to talk about the film or just read about it, just click on the title:

      Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

      Farenheit 9-11

      Love and Diane

      L’Avventura

      Passion of the Christ

      Girl with a Pearl Earring

      Breaking the Waves

      Dick

      Lost Highway

      Elephant

    35. Reid

      Outfoxed

      Independent Media in a Time of War (30 minute doc. by Amy Goodman of DemocrayNow!)

      Penny warned me that Outfoxed was going to be biased a la Farenheit 9/11. For the most part, I think she was right. Grace also commented that it wasn’t very coherrent, but kinda all over the place, and I agreed with that, too. Penny seemed to like it, so all of you who liked Farenheit 9/11 would probably like this.

      I still have the same objections. I’ll go more into these on the Old Fashion Journalism thread as that place seems more appropriate.

      I preferred Independent Media because the arguments were more sound and compelling. For those of you who have access to Olelo, they showed this on one of the channels. You might also catch it at the democracynow.org.

      (Spoiler Alert)

      One of the points that Goodman makes is that the American media should be showing more footage of the casulties of the Iraq War. She argues that doing so would stop the war, as it did in Vietnam.

      She has a point, but it raised a difficult issue in my mind. If the mainstream media always portrayed the gruesome aspects of war, the government would almost never be able to use military force–even when a case could be made that force was necessary (i.e. WWII). How do you determine when these imagees should be shown? Limiting the reporting on these ugly aspects, would give the government more flexibility, but it would also enable them to take advantage of the public. On the other hand, a lot of coverage of these ugly facts may make use of the military next to impossible. Perhaps that’s how it should be. I have no idea.

    36. burgess

      I finally rented Hellboy and Gothika.

      I enjoyed Hellboy. I want to say that it’s one of the better movie adaptations of a comic book that’s come along in a while, but I’m not familiar with the comic. I really liked the Hellboy character.

      I’m not sure if I liked Gothika, or not. I wanted to like it. I thought the idea was pretty good, but Halle Berry was kind of weak as the brilliant psychiatrist, though I thought Robert Downey, Jr. was pretty good, much more believable than Berry.

    37. kevin

      OK, everyone drop what you’re doing and run out to see Hero. I’m still deciding whether it’ll displace something on my top 10, but it’s an incredibly timely movie for current world circumstances. For me personally, it’s so much larger than Crouching..Dragon, and really incidentally about the action.

    38. Marc

      I just got back from seeing Hero myself and I agree with what Kevin said about world circumstances. I feel like I missed some of the dialogue though so I may need to see it again some time. The action sequences and music will make comparisons to Crouching Tiger inevitable.

    39. Reid

      Larri and I saw Hero yesterday. Read my review and join in the discussion here, Hero

      A couple of weeks ago I also watched the animated film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Jokcer. I’m surprised at how much I like the animation of this film (and the TV series) as the animation is really simple and plain. I like the movements in the cartoon, and the simple drawings are effective.

      I also watched The Miles Davis Story last night. As I saw most of the interviews before, it wasn’t that great. I wished the focussed more on the music and less on his personal life, too.

    40. Reid

      Royal Tenenbaums (6 out of 10)

      I liked Wes Anderson’s direction, stortelling devices he employed. But it’s the ambivalence that his characters leave me feeling. You’re not sure if you like the characrters, them, feel sorry for them, etc. Often, you run through all of those feelings. Anderson doesn’t seem to want the audience to get comfortable with his character. Max, in Rushmore, was like this, too, only he more interesting that Gene Hackman’s Royal.

      The other characters besides Royal seemed pretty flat. And the story itself wasn’t very interesting.

      I do like how Anderson tells stories where life and people are not so neat and tiddy. His characters are weird, troubled and not easily placed into “good” or “bad.” Yet, he makes us sympathesize with them, but not wholeheartedly.

      I’d love to hear from anyone that loved this film.

    41. Tony

      Saw RT when it came out and found it quirky, funny, and pretty disposable. Not a big fan of any of the cast, though. Same goes for the directors. I did feel some sympathy for the characters, but I guess it was a little to obviouosly quirky for me (a standard that I don’t mind with other movies).

    42. burgess

      The best part of The Royal Tenenbaums was Royal’s epitaph at the end–almost made the movie worth watching.

    43. Reid

      I think I know what you mean by “obviously quirky,” like the director overtly trying to win points by making the characters that way.

      I didn’t find the movie very funny though.

      (Spoiler Alert)

      The scene that I laughed the most was when the family discovers Royal is faking his illness.

      Royal: “OK, OK, I know I’m going to the bad guy on this.”

    44. Reid

      (spoiler)

      John,

      Forgive me for being dense, but you liked it because it was so outlandish? I thought it was amusing, but it didn’t make me bust out.

    45. burgess

      Reid,

      It worked for me because it was so unexpected.

    46. Chris

      Just watched *Shaolin Soccer* again, with my sister and her husband and kids. Everybody enjoyed it including me (again). There’s a lot to this movie, but I’m mostly guessing. Anybody else out there see it/care to comment? Sure, it’s plain, fun entertainment, but the traditional vs western capitalist thing is strangely compelling. But I wonder if I’m reading my own issues into it. . . .

    47. Reid

      Out of the Past

      French Connection

      I saw these films in the last few days. Out of the Past is film-noir starring Robert Mitchum. I thought it was OK, but nothing that blew me away.

      I liked French Connection better. I has seen parts of the movie, like the famous car chase scene, but I never saw the entire movie. Bullit was another movie like that, and when I watched the entire movie recently I was really disappointed. So I was afraid that the French Connection would be the same way. It wasn’t.

      My liking the film is a bit surprising because the film was almost like a documentary on catching -dealers. (I believe the film was based on an actual event or at least real-life police officers.) The film didn’t have any major surprises or mysteries, just two cops relentlessly chasing after a couple of -dealers.

      (Spoilers)

      What about what many believe as the best car-chase scene in cinema? Well, it was pretty good. I liked the fact that the chase began on foot. Then when the villian left in a train before the cop, played by Gene Hackman, could not get there in time, he took a car and chased after him. That was a nice sequence and set-up.

      The car scene was also effective because of the perspective of the camera–right in front of the car. I’m sure other chase scenes utilize this view, but somehow it was really effective. Hackman, as Popeye Doyle, also added to this scene because the character is so intense. There’s also the scene where he almost runs over a baby that makes the scene so effective.

      I should note that the director William Friedkin also sets-up another great car-chase scene in the film, To Live and Die in LA (at least I’m pretty sure he directed that).

      Hackman’s Popeye Doyle also received a nomination and maybe a win for best performance. I should say a little about his character because I didn’t find the character or his performance so memorable. My guess is that Popeye could have been the archetypal intense, almost crazy police officer. You know the one that has a hot-temper and doesn’t mind breaking the rules to bring achieve justice. I’m thought of Mel Gibson’s Riggs in the Lethal Weapon movies, for example. I suspect that seeing other intense or even crazy cops in films made it more difficult for me to appreciate the character and Hackman’s performance.

    48. Reid

      I just watched The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Interesting, although I don’t know if I totally get it. I wouldn’t mind discussing this film a bit with anyone that has seen this.

    49. burgess

      I really wanted to like 21 Grams because I really like Sean Penn and Benico Del Toro, but the movie just didn’t do it for me, whatever that might mean. It’s one of those disjointed movies that cares neither of time nor place, but just kind of unravels, and in the end everything is connected. 21 Grams wasn’t a bad movie–I thought the acting was great all around.

      *mini-spoiler*

      Can someone explain the reference of 21 grams? Toward the end, Penn’s character says something about everyone loses 21 grams when they die. What does this mean?

    50. Mitchell

      I haven’t seen the movie, but the idea that everyone loses a small amount of weight when they die would indicate, some have said, that people have souls and that the lost weight is due to the soul’s leaving the body.

      Experiments were done on dying dogs, according to what the ubiquitous “they” say, and the dogs didn’t lose any weight upon dying, confirming (according to “they”) that animals don’t have souls.

      Don’t know how that fits in with the movie.

    51. Reid

      In addition to what Mitchell said I recall that when a person dies there is still some air remaining in the lungs. At some point that air, which is approximately 21 grams, leaves the body.

      I didn’t care for the movie either, John. The filmmaker wanted to explore these profound issues and create these serious characters, but, while the acting was solid, I felt the film covered thoroughly mined territory without doing it in a fresh way.

      Garden State (6 out of 10)

      Speaking of thoroughly mined territory, I think the main reason I didn’t like this movie more was that the film dealt with situations, namely the general state of what it means to be part of generation X, that I had already seen before. A good analogy for me would be like a Kumu Kahua play. The first time I watched a play there, I loved the fact that I got to see local characters speaking in pidgin. I liked the play for that reason, independently of the story, characters, themes, etc. However, liking a play or film for that type of reason can only last for so long. After awhile I’m going to need something more.

      The issues the characters deal with in the film also didn’t seem very fresh to me. I won’t really go into here.

      Natalie Portman did have some nice moments in the film, though, specifically in the way she created an eccentric character.

    52. Reid

      Roger Dodger (7 out of 10)

      6 may be a more accurate rating for me, but Campbell Scott’s performance bumps it up to 7. He’s the main reason this film is worth watching. Scott, plays an advertising writer with keen skills in observation and “Sherlock Holmesian” ability to judge people, particularly woman, on the spot. Unlike the British detective, Roger (Scott) is less than successful in catching his prey.

      What makes this character so entertaining is watching Scott demonstrate these abilities with high verbal flair. It’s so over-the-top crass that it’s funny. Think of an Archie Bunker with verbal wit and you get the idea.

      (Some small spoilers)

      While the writing for Roger and Scott’s performance is first-rate, the film is weak on the story side. Roger’s nephew comes to visit him, and he wants to learn the ways of getting a woman from his playboy uncle. That’s a potentially entertaining premise, and the two get into situations that are somewhat funny, if a bit unbelieveable. (For example, Roger takes his nephew, who’s not really a dashing fellow, to a club, and seems to gain the interest of two adult woman, Elizabeth Berkeley and Jennifer Beals.) The story doesn’t really go anywhere, and the film also doesn’t do a really good job of exploring and revealing the character of Roger.

      What we do learn about Roger is that he’s not really a successful ladies man. He’s good looking, has a good job, and has a keen understanding of the psychology of the women he meets. Yet, he’s a total failure in relationships because he’s totally selfish and immature.

      His nephew, Nick, makes a good foil for his uncle because he’s everything that his uncle is not. He’s not very articulate (although he seems intelligent) or very good looking. Yet, he’s more sensitive and decent than his uncle.

      On the other hand, in terms of maturity maybe Roger is not so far from Nick as it may appear. There’s a good scene where Roger is actually sitting with Nick and his high school friends at a cafeteria table. It’s funny, but placing Roger in this context makes me think that while he’s better looking and more smooth than the teenagers, he’s not much more emotionally mature than they are.

      Unfortunately, the film doesn’t explore these dimension of Roger and round out his character a bit more. That’s too bad because he has potential to be an interesting character. For example, we learn that Roger hates his father, and his been avoiding his sister (the mother of his nephew that visits him). How do these details affect who Roger is as a person? What are the other facets of Roger besides the desire to be a ladykller? I don’t think the film does a good job of exploring that. If it did, we would be talking about a really a good film and an award winning performance (although I think Scott’s performance deserve a nomination for best performance).

    53. Jenn

      Anybody seen Wicker Park yet? I’d like to hear what other people have to say. The only review I’ve gotten is from a Josh Hartnett fan, and that soooo does not count.

      I didn’t really care for this movie. The chronology affected my interest level, i.e., it dropped! I got bored. I don’t think Josh Hartnett is all that. I have issues about the ending (too clean!).

      Ack. I’m such a complainer. Aren’t there any movies of late that I have enjoyed?

    54. Chris

      Abra and I just watched *To Live* again — we had both seen it, separately, years ago. This movie is so wonderful and well made, if a little painful at times. Is anyone else out there a fan of this one? The use of certain motifs was extremely tasteful and believable–not overly ‘artsy’ or mechanical at all, specifically the puppets, certain stories told to the children, etc.

      It bears watching a second time, believe me.

      Chris

    55. Reid

      I’ve only seen Raise the Red Lantern, which I liked. I tried watching To Live once, but never got to finish it.

      I saw a bunch of movies:

      Gentle Woman
      Return of the Secaucus 7
      The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

    56. Chris

      How was *Return*? Never saw it. I guess he has an election-year type movie coming out soon. Have there ever been so many election-oriented films in a season???

    57. Reid

      Did you see The Big Chill? It’s the same movie or at least the same concept. It seems like somebody saw Return and said, “Let me try to make the version of the same movie.”

      So what did I think? Like other Sayles’ films, there are moments of really good dialogue. I thought the acting was so great at times, but you’re probably not as picky as I am. I would give it a 6.

      I would have to see The Big Chill again, but I think I like that film better.

    58. Reid

      Jesus of Montreal (7 out of 10)

      I enjoyed this more than I thought. I guess I was expecting a more liberal, pseudo-spiritual (read: cheesy) revision of the passion story. I don’t know if I was moved, but I enjoyed the movie.

      (spoilers)

      I thought Arcand made some nice updates on the story (i.e. Daniel turning over the tables in the theater). I thought making a stronger connection to the Christ story and the demise of art and theater might made for a stronger film.

      Question: I was a little puzzled by the quotes from Jesus Arcand chose at the end of the film. I can’t remember them all, but Daniel quotes the verses warning against false prophets and people who claim to be Jesus.

    59. Reid

      Come Drink with Me (3 out 10)

      I forget to mention a kung-fu movie, billed as “one of the greatest kung-fu movies of all time,” several weeks ago at the Art Academy.

      The verdict is that I want to talk to the person who described the movie that way. First of all, the fight sequences were pretty terrible. You could barely call the fighting kung-fu. The film didn’t have those cool sound effects that you hear (i.e.sounds coming out when characters just wave their arms around).

      Second, the film kind of moved along slowly. Actually, I can’t remember too many more details, besides the fact that I thought it wasn’t that good.

      (The film is now showing The 36 Chambers of Shaolin and using the same “best of all time” description! Well, you can make a better case for that film.)