Archive for November, 2007

Saving Private Ryan

I am always happy to wait to see a major feature film until the crowds have died down and the hype has subsided. I saw Private Ryan with a theatre of around twenty people and it was eerie in it’s separation. I had an English Teacher once who pointed out to me the differences between a film and a movie (thank you Mr. Skilleter) and without going into much detail, I would say that this film is truly worthy of that moniker. There is a serious lack of depth and honesty to the filmmakers art these days, too much temptation to blow budgets on big time effects and implausible story lines, however the power of Private Ryan comes not from it’s glaring brutality, but rather from it’s candid honesty. I tried to explain my emotions in a journal entry recently but was left ashamedly inadequate. This is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen. If you are up for a dose of the reality of brutal hand to hand combat, then this is the film for you. Also, I would like to note that it is not the Hollywood, Steven Seagal type hand to hand, it is people hiding behind buttresses with big machine guns cutting people down like a scythe through a cornfield. It is the way it apparently was, and the reality really comes through. It is a brilliant piece of filmmaking that will run all sorts of emotions across your synapses and leave you feeling a hollow sorrow at the brutality that those young men endured. The acting is nothing short of breathtaking, and without unnecessary extension, you should see this film if you are over 25 because it will touch you.

Rating 9.5 One of the best films I have ever seen. A must see.
Theatre / Video Theatre. The effect will be lost for a first time viewing on a small screen.
Rewind / Return I will see this film many times, I would go back to the theatre to see it again.
Highlight The carnage on the beach. That is the cold, dark soul of war.
Favorite Quote “…the sacrifices you have laid on the altar of Freedom”

Wag The Dog

I had seen the previews and the movie seemed simple enough. A Presidential scandal, a cover-up story with inevitably some kind of twist at the end. The movie delivered right on schedule and like most things that go the way they are supposed to, it was predictable and at times a little dull. There were flashes of sub-brilliance and all in all the movie was enjoyable and worth seeing. My political movie experience really was piqued by Bob Roberts, and since I was comparing “Wag” to it constantly, it couldn’t help but come in poorly. Woody was a refreshing addition and my affection for both DeNiro and Hoffman was proven once again. The movie is quite well written, the dialogue is witty and sharp, and the story had enough entertaining sidelines to merit a reasonable score. It was not as sinister as it was comical, however the underlying message was clear, don’t trust the media or the Government because they are both seeking to create an image, albeit distorted, of the events they want you to see. It ended up being less significant than the cast implied, but nevertheless, it was enjoyable.

Rating 7. Predictable yet worthy of pause.
Theatre / Video Video. Not worth the Theatre price.
Rewind / Return I would watch it again, but would probably have the urge to leave at several points.
Highlight Cameo appearances by Steven Spielberg, Jim Belushi and others in the industry.
Favorite Quote Willie Nelson, singing “…and I’m glad your Momma’s not here”

The Big Lebowski

Everyone to whom I spoke about this movie hated it. I think they hated it for the wrong reasons though. Noone understood it. So, in retrospect my next question should have been “How can you say you hate it if you don’t understand it? Isn’t that the same as bigotry, unfounded hatred?” However I am not that sharp. So, on to the movie. I didn’t hate it, I understood it, and came to the conclusion that the reason people disliked it so much was that it wasn’t enough like a movie for them,. It was too much like actual people they know doing things they do and the whole thing was an uncomfortable “too close to home” experience for them to handle. The acting was accurate, the movie achieved its objectives and therefore,by definition was a decent flick. Much like The Jerky Boys movie or Starship Troopers, the story was secondary to the purpose of the movie. The Jerky Boys was meant to be a bad movie, and it was. Starship Troopers was meant to have great effects and it did, but they were not great movies. They matched their billing, no more, no less. This was the same deal. Although not gripping, not coherent in parts, and not cohesive in general, it was not worth hating. It was not memorable and that, unfortunately, is too often said in this day and age. However, it is one of the very few, and I mean really very few movies that I have turned off halfway through because it was so bad. I eventually finished it out of spite and now, more than 8 years aftwer writing this review I still haven’t turned off another movie since – Except Apocalypto which I just gave up on it was so boring…

Rating 3. Don’t bother.
Theatre / Video Video. If I had paid, I would not have been able to forgive my lack of judgment
Rewind / Return If you have it, destroy it.
Highlight Being a bowling ball
Favorite Quote “They won’t do anything, they’re Nihilists”

The Avengers

There is definitely something different about seeing a childhood series represented on film. I remember seeing Judge Dredd, a longtime childhood favourite comic strip of mine, and marvelling at the reality of it all. Other people hated it, but for me it was the spirit of the comic that had been brought to life. The same thing goes for The Avengers. As a child I would sit on Friday nights and watch Steed and Purdey duke it out with their latest arch-rival. It was gripping, it was adventurous and it was very English. And so to the movie. The English do not like to be interrupted during tea. This is true. They speak to one another in short, concise sentences, true. There is much more unsaid in the English language when used by the English than is actually mouthed. This is where the North American audience gets lost. In order to explain the English method of language and conversation, one must be very familiar with metaphor, allusion and have the ability to communicate almost solely using these tools. As I stated previously, it is the things that are not said between the English that are far more important than the words that are actually spoken. This movie will frustrate North Americans, and may even shed light on Ex-pat’s like myself as to the reason they are largely misunderstood. Oh, to be in England… As for the movie itself, Sean Connery is his old self, there is a bonus with Uma Thurman playing two parts at once, and even a silent appearance by Eddie Izzard does not go unnoticed. It is truly written in the traditional Avengers style, and is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the English countryside. Adequately acted, decent special effects and witty dialogue make this a movie worth seeing, especially if you are English. Tea anyone?

Rating 6. Entertaining if you saw the series, otherwise probably a bomb.
Theatre / Video I saw it in the Theatre, could wait for video.
Rewind / Return It was OK, I will probably sit through it again when it comes to PPV or HBO/TMN
Highlight Sean Connery’s sexual undertones with Uma Thurman. Uma in a catsuit, twice!
Favorite Quote “Take India for instance, you can get a good ten inches overnight there…”

Starship Troopers

I would have to say that this movie is the personification of all that is neo-modernist in the movie industry. This obsession with effects, aliens and really bad acting is all brought to the fore in this galactic romp through a bug infested universe. The effects are quite outstanding, the acting is also quite breathtaking (if you count choking at ineptitude) and the plot is your well worn and yet refreshingly comforting “Earth against the evil but brainless alien race” type routine. It is entertaining, and in the end, that is what movies are for, entertainment. I have seen it a few times and would watch it again, if for nothing else but the public lashing of the so-called hero.

Rating 7. Worth seeing. Good, gory and extremely graphic special effects.
Theatre / Video I saw it in the Theatre, you should too. Or at least on a really BIG TV.
Rewind / Return Good enough to warrant a retrial. I have seen parts of the movie 10 – 15 times.
Highlight Obstacle course accident, out of nowhere! Also the truly obscene brain bug at the end of the movie.
Favorite Quote “You’re it until you’re dead; or until I find someone better”

'Til there was you

There are very few movies that send me to sleep. There are even fewer movies that I find so boring that I actually fast forward through to get to the active bits. This movie was both. Even though there was a sprinkling of promising actors, the movie failed miserably at achieving anything other than glorifying smokers and causing me to fall off the couch. The premise was not unusual, the story itself was adequate, but the screenwriting was simply abysmal. I can definitely say that this was one of the worst movies I have seen this year. It wasn’t even appealing in it’s emotional charm, it was just a real snoozer. This was one movie that could not be saved even by the injection of some of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. I was sadly disappointed.

Rating 4. Terrible movie. Incredibly boring and painfully slow.
Theatre / Video Video. I wasted my money on this one.
Rewind / Return If you show me this movie again, I may very well end up in a coma.
Highlight The clumsiness of the heroine, banging her face on various objects.
Favorite Quote “We are architects, we pay attention to how things are put together.”

Sliding Doors

I am gradually warming up to Gwyneth Paltrow, and this movie did a lot for her credibility in my books. It was well acted, avoiding the tendency to overdramatize and overemotionalize the conflict scenes. There was a great deal of charm in Ms. Paltrow’s characters, there was also a great deal of chemistry between the actors themselves. A very well written and directed movie, it was a pleasure to watch. I actually ended up seeing it twice in two days and thoroughly enjoyed it both times. It was realistic enough to be believable and constructed with subtlety that shone through, pulling the viewer along with the mindset of the main character, Helen. The storyline was commonplace, the events with a heavy grounding in reality and without the overbearing ‘in-your-face’ emotional syrup of “Sleepless in Seattle”. A very touching story that just goes to show that no matter what you do, there is no way to trick fate, no escaping your destiny. After all, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Rating 7.5 Very nice movie. Just the right amount of emotion and humour.
Theatre / Video Video. It would have been worth the theatre cost.
Rewind / Return I would see it again, I have already seen it twice, but I love the subtle flow.
Highlight The guy in the pub. He just cracked me up. What are friends for? Honesty.
Favorite Quote “So what is he then?”
“A wanker.”
“No, I mean what sign…”

“In fact, they should be called ‘The Foetals’ “

Rush Hour

I was not sure how the melding of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan would do. It seems like an amusing concept, Eastern Cop meets Hotshot American Cop and lead each other to retribution, but maybe I expected too much. It wasn’t a bad movie, it was definitely entertaining in parts, but I expected more Jackie and Less Chris. What we got was a middle of the road effort that really didn’t do either of them justice. It felt longer than it was, but I think that being prepared for a middle of the road movie would have helped in my enjoyment. there’s nothing that will spoil your viewing pleasure more than unfulfilled expectations. No bashing here, though, I enjoyed it and was rolling on the floor laughing at the outtake of the two cops who yell at Tucker “Show me your ass!”

Rating 6.5 Fun movie, a little slow, not as much Jackie Chan style so I was a little disappointed.
Theatre / Video Video. I would have felt justified in going to the theatre, but probably better to rent.
Rewind / Return I would see it again, it’s mindless entertainment.
Highlight Jackie Chan kicking ass, Chris Tucker dancing and the outtakes (see below)
Favorite Quote “Show me your ass!”
“Show me your ass? Y’all are some gay ass cops!” (Watch the outtakes)

Something about Mary

Maybe for some the highlight of the movie was the outtake at the end with Cameron Diaz being fondled openly by a grinning and drooling Matt Dillon. Maybe there is something about Mary, but for me the writing of the movie itself was what really did it. The actors all were performing at the top of their games, Ben Stiller was outstanding and although I have a tendency to dismiss Diaz as just a pretty face, she was substantial enough in the movie to make her presence felt. I can’t recall the last time I laughed so hard at a movie as when Stiller is attacked by and subsequently leaves the body-cast dog on the roof of his truck. It really was a well written piece of entertainment and well worth the money to pay for the rental. If I still had the movie channels, it would be the type of movie that I would leave on repeatedly just to catch the funny parts. Well constructed, acted and directed it is well worth seeing. (In retrospect I think that the dog stole the show).

Rating 7.5 Extremely funny, charming and entertaining. Lots of high quality actors.
Theatre / Video Video. Not necessary to see it on the Silver Screen, I would have embarrassed myself laughing.
Rewind / Return Would love to see it again at least a handful more times.
Highlight Definitely the dog sequence, from the second he opened the bathroom door, I almost died laughing.
Favorite Quote “I still think I want to look her up”
“Who? Roller Pig?”

“I thought you said she was a spark plug?”
“No, no. I said butt-plug”

Elizabeth

In as far as I am not a history buff, I wanted to see this movie for the context in which it was set. As it turns out, it was a very enjoyable and informative experience. I know that this is not what many would consider a mainstream movie, and as such may not gain acclaim from many so called movie critics. However, I am here to tell you that this movie is enjoyable for a larger audience than the theatre that night would have indicated. I think that we were the youngest ones there, by at least 10 years, and in a way this is quite sad. The movie itself was very enjoyable, the story was fascinating being that it was sufficiently factual to lend credibility to the acting. If you are a fan of the historical genre, then this is a movie well worth seeing. The actors, although extremely talented and reputable are not mainstream either. This, I believe, was a significant benefit to the outcome.

Rating 7 Very enjoyable. A niche film but worth seeing even if you think it’s not your thing.
Theatre / Video Theatre. The experience would be sadly diminished with the translation to TV.
Rewind / Return Probably wouldn’t vote to see it again, but would sit through it if I had the option.
Highlight The disposing of the opposition in varied and painful manners.
Favorite Quote Not really a quotable movie. Not that type.