Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sixteen Candles (1984)

So I loved Breakfast Club. I loved Ferris Bueller's Day Off. This is certainly my least favorite of the three Hughes movies I've seen, although I can't quite put my finger on why. Characterization, probably. It always seems to come down to characters for me. I didn't really like any of the characters in here, nor did I sympathize with them, and everything was just a bit too over the top and weird for me. (While the same was true of Ferris Bueller, I actually liked the characters there.) It wasn't a horribly bad movie in the genre or anything, just... not at all the best. 3 stars.

Medium Cool (1969)

This was, no doubt, an important movie. This is, no doubt, a relevant movie. But this wasn't a movie I actually enjoyed until the very end. The last ten minutes made the first hour and fifty worth it all. Such a very powerful image to finish on. The rest of the movie, however, felt disjointed and vague, like it wasn't sure what it was talking about or where it was going. It had so many points to make that none of them seemed to stand out until the very end. 3 stars.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

I had interesting reactions to the first two X-Men movies that I'll briefly recap here. X-Men had a brilliant opening and closing scene, but everything in between was chaotic and confusing. X2 was much more coherent and easier to make sense of, but no really interesting moments (aside from having two musical theater people in it, but whatever).

This one falls somewhere in the middle. It's much cheesier and campier than the first two, falling into a few moments that made me giggle a little bit because even though they made sense in the movie, you can't really hear those lines and take them seriously. Overall, though, the action was kind of interesting (as much as I'm ever going to be interested in an action flick), and it definitely had that "let's work together as a team" effect that I always liked about the original comics. Overall, not a bad flick. Not sure I can compare it to the first two since I enjoyed it more than the first but less than the second, but in different ways. Ah, well. Too confusing to sort out now. 3.5 stars.

Also, some rants, briefly... *SPOILERS AHEAD* What the heck was with them killing off half of the X-Men? Did they just really, really want to finish the series? How many times is Jean going to come back and sacrifice herself (X2) or ask someone else to sacrifice her (this one)? *END OF SPOILERS*

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

This movie has been getting both rave reviews and disgusted thumbs down, and it deserves neither. It's certainly not the treasure of a movie that the first one was, but neither is it the tragesty that some are claiming. While the first had a delightful charisma to it that set it apart from the typical action flick, this had very little of that. A few of the jokes were beaten into our heads (the rum bit was funny in the first movie, ridiculous in this) and there was so much action going on that the characters were reduced to mere stereotypes. HOWEVER. Fans of the action genre will still enjoy it. It's got its good moments. Its main difficulty is that it will continue to be compared to its brilliant predecessor. 3.5 stars.

Over the Hedge (2006)

This is not a wonderful movie, but it's a fairly decent one, and at very few poitns during the movie did I go, "Oh, PLEASE," which is pretty high praise for a modern cartoon. It doesn't have the spark or charm of DreamWorks' best movie (Shrek) but nor is it as annoying as some of its others (*cough*Shark Tale*cough*). In fact, thinking back on it, it's tricky to think of anything that was truly wrong with it, except that I didn't actually connect. Let me also say that I really loved the fact that Verne was allowed to remain cautious and paranoid and tentative and still be a good, perhaps a better, leader, than his overconfident friend. That doesn't happen very often in movies. Definitely applause for that. 3.5 stars.

Match Point (2005)

Interesting flick. I've seen two other Woody Allen flicks and both made me interested in seeing another. About halfway through this one, I was very unsure about it. It moves incredibly, incredibly slowly, but it builds so carefully that by the end of the movie, the ending makes such perfect sense and fits in so nicely with everything else that's happened. The movie was definitely redeemed by that wonderful, wonderful ending that felt completely right because it *fit*. However, if you're not ready for a slow buildup... you may want to pass. 3.5 stars.

Lessons of Darkness (1992)

This movie was actually much more interesting than I thought it would be. It feels less like a documentary and more like just some sort of visual experiment. It's short and doesn't drag on at all. It's also a very powerful film, very beautifully done. The music in particular is really interesting, as it certainly lends a distinctive feel to the rest of the movie. Interesting premise dealt with in an interesting way. Certainly worth an hour of time just to sit down and watch. 3.5 stars.

A League of Their Own (1992)

Wow. Someone managed to make an interesting movie about baseball. This is not an easy feat, considering baseball is the most boring sport in the entire world. This movie managed to be a pretty interesting look at the game. Of course, 3/4 of it was about the players and not about the game (like most sports movies pretend to be - but, no, this REALLY was about the players). So this was quite a well-crafted movie. That being said, however, it never touched me emotionally. I think it's because sister relationship movies make me tense. A good movie, but I didn't actually connect to it. 3.5 stars.

It Had To Be You (2000)

Aside from being a slightly schizophrenic movie (WHAT exactly is this movie trying to tell us about love?), this wasn't at all a bad romantic comedy. The first half hour or so was overwhelming as it threw new characters and some incredibly odd dialogue our way, but then it seemed to level out and be a pretty solid ride the rest of the time. Certainly cheesy, even for a romantic comedy, and several moments that were just slightly too over-the-top for me. And - I don't think this is spoiling anything, because nobody is going to be surprised in the least when this happens - I'm a little confused as to the point when she dumps her fiance. They're together, and then, very suddenly, they're not. No explanations, nothing. Odd. But not at all a bad little movie. Pretty darn decent for having a low budget and going straight-to-video. And watch out for musical theater people - Faith Prince as a cynical wedding registry person, and half-MTP Emmy Rossum as a young girl on the verge of jumping off a building. 3.5 stars.

The Squid and the Whale (2005)

Wow. What a fascinating movie. Each character was definitely an individual, and a very realistic one. I especially loved the relationship between the father and the oldest son. Really interesting. My only complaint is with the ending. I know that there's no way this story could actually be truly resolved, but I was hoping for maybe a bit more emotional resolution. But the entire rest of the movie was really interesting, a marvelous study of characters. 4 stars.

The Seven Year Itch (1955)

This movie was never high on my list to see, but then I ended up actually watching it, and was delightfully surprised. It turned out to be a very dryly funny comedy (I found out later it was Billy Wilder - that would explain it!). The character of the hero made me laugh as he began soliloquizing to himself and imagining himself as some sort of great lover. Just the perfect length as a movie, too. Wound down just as I was ready for it to. 4 stars.

Chinatown (1974)

Noir was never *exactly* my favorite genre. They're all fun but they're all exactly the same. And this is most definitely noir. Touch of Evil can't have really ended the noir cycle, not when this came along only six years later. It's a very well done film, though, as far as noir goes. Jack Nicholson does a fantastic job with his role, and although everything that happens is fairly predictable (at least from my end) it's quite interesting about getting there. I would go ahead and recommend this - about five times as much if you already like noir flicks. 3 stars.

Zorba the Greek (1964)

Uh. Meh. The movie started off promisingly, but then it soon became one of those "let's show a few random significant moments" movies. My main problem with this movie is that it just feel too rambling to me, too unconnected. And even the character of Zorba himself never really solidified, for me. As soon as I had a general idea of who he was, he would do something in contradiction of what he had said or done earlier. Perhaps he was intended to be this baffling, but I just sat there scratching my head. A movie I far from enjoyed, although it could possibly be good. 2 stars.

Scrooged (1988)

Hmph. This should have been much better than it was. As it was, it felt like one joke that was then stretched out to cover an entire movie, and not very well. The funny moments that were there were few and far between, and the movie was almost ruined by that horrid ending speech. Puh-lease. It was nearly as bad as the ending to Elf, another Christmas movie that decided to suddenly tack on a superstupid Christmas message in a terribly cheesy way. Except Elf had a far more interesting story all the way through. I like Bill Murray, and I like retellings of old stories, but this just didn't work for me. 2 stars.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

Just rewatched this after having read all the books. I'm still not sure what everyone's complaints were. It was still incredibly close to the book, despite having some of the events switched around. It still kept the tone of the book, and it only ended as happily as most of the books did - Baudelaires onto a new home, Count Olaf on the loose. Sure, the books were better, but this movie was quite a good adaptation of the series, even if there was a moment here or there that was a little off. 4 stars.

*Original Review*
This movie is NOT for everyone. I've never read any of the books, but now I'm inspired to. When I was describing it to my father, he said it sounded a lot like Roald Dahl. And that really *is* what it feels like, except where Roald Dahl always creeped me out a little bit, this has enough over-the-top zaniness that it doesn't feel that dark anymore. I thought the over-the-topness was great fun and not nearly as stupid as I thought it was going to be. Also, the main guy (what's his name? Klaus?) is the little kid from Stepmom. He was awfully cute as a little kid and looks vaguely familiar as a teen. Hmm. I'll have to think further about that.

Shall We Dance? (1996)

I saw the American remake of this movie and was greatly disappointed - what looked like it was going to be heartfelt drama turned mostly into bland sentimentality. Not so with this flick. It's not only a fascinating look into Japanese culture, but an enchanting story as well, beautifully acted by everyone involved. If you have a choice between seeing the two, definitely see this one. 4 stars.

Network (1976)

Ooh. I did like this movie. I was actually expecting one of those critics' favorites that I don't usually like (I'm not deep enough or enough of a movie snob yet to appreciate them or something, heh) but this was a fascinating movie from beginning to end. Even if you didn't buy into the point it was making about media, I think it would still be a really good movie, and one definitely worth watching. Faye Dunaway's character was fascinating as we watched her evolve, only to realize at the end, she's been that way all along. I just didn't notice it most of the way. Good movie. 4 stars.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Stepford Wives (2004)

This movie was terribly, terribly panned, but it didn't deserve it. It didn't succeed as a new version of the original, but as its own movie it was mostly entertainment and definitely watchable. My main complaint is the ending. It got sillier and sillier with each passing moment and didn't really work. *SPOILERS* Fine, bring all the women back from Stepfordization, but as least give a semiplausible reason why you're doing it. *END SPOILERS* Aside from that, though, a much more enjoyable movie than I anticipated. 3 stars.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Monster House (2006)

I read a review claiming this is the best animated movie in a long time. NOT so. Although the flick has a nice premise and the protagonists are likeable, the explanation of how this all came to be had me scratching my head and going, "Wait... what?" The movie got completely goofed up by an overly complicated plot. (If I didn't understand it, then little kids *probably* won't. Heh.) This is unfortunate because the rest of the movie is fairly entertaining. 3 stars.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

If this movie hadn't inexplicably depressed me for the next two hours after I finished the flick, I'd probably be able to rate it more highly. :-) As it is, still a very interesting movie. It was especially interesting seeing it right after Match Point, which shares a lot of the same themes and even a similar plotline. Has a lot of interesting thoughts about morality and God, which I always love hearing people talk about. Also, a really nice end sequence. I've had to work hard not to overuse the word "interesting" in my review here, but that pretty much sums up my reaction to it in a nutshell: Interesting. Didn't captivate me in any way, but it was wonderful watching it play out. So I'm going to give it what appears to be my average movie rating these days: 3.5 stars.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Silly summer action flicks. That being said, this wasn't too bad. I barely remember MI1 and never saw MI2, so I had nothing to really base it on. Lots of explosions that I ended up kind of tuning out, but overall a fairly solid flick, and definitely of more interest to those who enjoy explosions and funky gadgets. 3 stars.

High Society (1956)

Although of course this could never measure up to the brilliance that was Philadelphia Story, it's not at all bad as a remake. It takes a lot of the depth of the original and condenses it, making it less interesting but easier for an evening of mild entertainment. The three leads all do a very good job. Cole Porter's never been my favorite musical theater composer, but the songs here are fun (if entirely forgettable). Overall, not a bad flick, although nothing terribly memorable. 3.5 stars.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

House of Games (1987)

Once you get used to Mamet's slightly odd, deliberately wooden dialogue, there's a wonderful movie here. Fascinating characters played beautifully by the lead actors, with a very satisfying, if not exactly uplifting, ending. This was one of those movies that just keeps me interested all the way through, even though it's certainly not nonstop action. Interesting character flick. 4 stars.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Boys Town (1938)

Wow. Okay, this was revered and got Spencer Tracy an Oscar... *he* certainly deserved it, but the rest of the movie was over-the-top, entirely unbelievable, and actually had me giggling during some parts that were clearly supposed to be serious. I was impressed Tracy did as well as he did with it, given the fact that he had lines such as, "It was a sad, bad day when you came to us. Yes, indeed." The first half of the movie was fairly interesting, but then it just became silly and sentimental without feeling at all like the characters were someone I could care about. It wasn't actually PAINFUL to watch, but it certainly wasn't worth it. Too bad, because with a cast like this and a possible good plotline, it should've been much better. 1 star.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Stepford Wives (1975)

A fairly interesting movie here. I intend to see the new one at some point so I can compare them. The story is actually fairly creepy, with a few moments in particular that sent shivers up my spine. (This is a subject that is especially frightening for me - I seriously fear any sort of loss of self and/or control.) Aside from a few moments that were a bit cheesy, it was played intelligently, as well. The main character isn't stupid - she knows something's wrong, she just can't figure out how, and although we as an audience know that something's CLEARLY wrong, it takes her awhile to come to the conclusion that she's not just being paranoid. Nice pacing on that end. And I'm fairly partial to the ending. 3.5 stars.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hot Fuzz (2007)

I was slightly disappointed with Shaun of the Dead, but this one was just exactly right. Lots of wit all the way through. A very cleverly constructed comedy that hit all the right notes. I look forward to seeing what these guys do in the future! 4 stars.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Network (1976)

Ooh. I did like this movie. I was actually expecting one of those critics' favorites that I don't usually like (I'm not deep enough or enough of a movie snob yet to appreciate them or something, heh) but this was a fascinating movie from beginning to end. Even if you didn't buy into the point it was making about media, I think it would still be a really good movie, and one definitely worth watching. Faye Dunaway's character was fascinating as we watched her evolve, only to realize at the end, she's been that way all along. I just didn't notice it most of the way. Good movie. 4 stars.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

A League of Their Own (1992)

Plot: Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry.

Wow. Someone managed to make an interesting movie about baseball. This is not an easy feat, considering baseball is the most boring sport in the entire world. This movie managed to be a pretty interesting look at the game. Of course, 3/4 of it was about the players and not about the game (like most sports movies pretend to be - but, no, this REALLY was about the players). So this was quite a well-crafted movie. That being said, however, it never touched me emotionally. I think it's because sister relationship movies make me tense. Heh. So it gets the rating that a lot of movies I've seen lately have gotten - 3.5 stars. A good movie, but I didn't actually connect to it.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Band of Outsiders (1964)

Hmm. Quite interesting. It was a very lovely film visually, with a very stark contrast between black and white all the way through. The story itself felt like it should be more than it was, but also felt like a story I might have to grow to like. (Er. Not grow UP, just grow.) The characters confused me, and that tends to cloud my enjoyment of movies quite a bit. I will have to watch this again sometime and see if it works better for me knowing what to expect. 3 stars.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Friends With Money (2006)

This flick was intriguing, in that it went from boring to good back to boring again. One or two of the characters were interesting (Frances McDormand's character rang very true for me) but then didn't really go anywhere. Was this movie trying to say something? Was it trying to make a point? If so, I couldn't find it. Nothing got resolved, but the movie ended with the clear message of "Now we've resolved it all." Perhaps much of this comes down to the fact that I don't care for Jennifer Aniston as an actress. I just never find her believable. Her character seemed to the pivotal one, the one who found true happiness at the end, whose story I was supposed to feel got resolved. Mostly I just felt bored by her and confused by everyone else. Too bad, because there was a moment or two of really interesting stuff in here. 2.5 stars.

Sullivan's Travels (1941)

To be honest, I was hoping for something slightly snappier. I'd heard that Sturges was a wonderful writer of dialogue and hoped that even where I wasn't enjoying the story, that the dialogue would carry me along. This was the case much less often than I was hoping for. Still, it's an interesting movie, and quite entertaining for watching one time through. There are too many moments where the momentum sort of stops for me to have really loved it, though. It liked to swing from zany comedy to fairly dull drama. Meh. 3 stars.

The Lake House (2006)

Keanu Reeves is not my favorite actor, and while Sandra Bullock is a good actress, she tends to pick unfortunate projects. (Miss Congeniality 2 should NEVER have happened. Come to think of, the first one wasn't anything to brag about either.) But I ended up sitting down and watching this... and probably would have liked it a lot more if I was a chick flick fan. As it was, it was difficult for me to get past the glaring nonsensical plotholes (I kept going "What? That doesn't work that way!") and the occasional IDIOCY of the characters (at one point I actually did yell at the screen, "You stupid girl! Just flippin' look him up in 2006!") However, it had a fairly decent, satisfying ending, and really not all that bad an execution. If they'd tightened up the script a bit more, figured out the plotholes, and made the characters smarter... it could have been a decent flick. 3 stars.

Metropolis (1927)

Silent movies are often looked down on as being boring, or silly, or melodramatic. (People who say that must not have actually watched many films of today either. Heh.) The story and acting are less interesting here than is the technical aspect. I watched a portion of this in my film appreciation class, but I think even without that background I would have enjoyed this. It's fascinating how much modern cinema has borrowed from this movie. It's full of methods of framing and special effects that are really amazing, considering they were from 1927. The overexaggerated acting and the lack of sound was really the only thing that made me remember that this was a 1920's film - it felt more like a sci-fi thriller of the 1940's. Fascinating stuff, although I'm not sure I'd sit down and watch it solely for entertainment. 3.5 stars.

Jaws (1975)

One of the classic thrillers of our time. Fascinating in that it managed to build an atmosphere of suspense without constant gore or needless spring-loaded cats. Most of this movie is about the process of catching the shark, more than "OH MY GOSH IT'S A SHARK WATCH OUT!", which, honestly, is what I think makes a movie more effective. Look at Psycho. The majority of that movie was a simple murder mystery, no horror or gore... which made the few, sudden moments of terror all the more shocking. I wouldn't put Jaws on the same plane as Psycho - the in-between bits were much less interesting - but I'm glad I took the time to watch it. 3.5 stars.

Hairspray (1988)

When I saw the show on Broadway, I loved it. When I ssaw it on film, I only liked it. Now, I realize the film doesn't have the added bonus of wonderful songs like "Timeless To Me," but it also was much bleaker than the musical. Not necessarily in what happened, but in... hmm. The setting was a part of it. In a few places this made it even funnier (I laughed out loud at Penny and her mother a few times, a few black moments in here that don't appear in the show), but in other ways I just thought, "Hmm. That doesn't feel right." The moments I enjoyed the most were the ones that kept the same cheery optimism as the musical does. It's still fun, it's still silly... But if you have a chance to see the show, go do that instead. 3.5 stars.

The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)

This was not on my list to see, but then it was mentioned in an episode of All Movie Talk (I plug it again: - go there! *grin*) and sounded interesting, so I went out and picked it up. The first fifteen minutes made me think, "Erm, okay. Well, they said it got better, so let's see." And then all of a sudden it was kicked into high gear and I kept cracking up laughing. Lots of true laugh-out-loud moments, although unfortunately it's mingled with quite a few "okay, let's get to the good parts" moments. Really an interesting movie, and definitely one worth watching, although not one I ever would have picked up on my own. 3.5 stars.

Top Secret! (1984)

When I was in New York, Sarah, Naomi and I managed to catch the last half of this on TV. After flipping through the channels and wondering every time around, "What IS this show??" we finally sat down and watched it. So when I got back home, I hunted it down so I could watch the whole thing. And, dang, it was fun! It's written by the same people who wrote Airplane!, which I absolutely adored, and is a spoof on spy movies and Elvis movies. Er, yes, together. While it doesn't quite reach the artistic brilliance of Airplane!, it certainly has some great moments and had me giggling out loud a few times. 4 stars.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Plot: In London, four very different people team up to commit armed robbery, then try to doublecross each other for the loot.

It's definitely worth seeing. My dad recommended it to me so I sat down and watched it and while it wasn't my favorite movie of all time, it actually did make me laugh out loud several times, which is pretty impressive for a comedy, since I usually don't laugh out loud during films. Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline are both very, very funny in their roles. John Cleese and Michael Palin play more subdued characters but do a wonderful job. Overall, a movie I'd definitely recommend. 4 stars.

Shattered Glass (2003)

This is the story of a young journalist who's suddenly discovered to have fabricated one of his pieces. It's an intriguing look at an interesting character. I have to say I'm impressed with Hayden Christensen in this role. He was boring with Star Wars and a bit over-the-top (although mostly believable) in Life As a House... but here, he's just perfect. Completely believable as a character the whole way through. My only complaint with the movie was that I wasn't ready for it to end. It got to what felt like the climax of the movie, and then suddenly stopped. (Also, the trailer is completely misleading. Although I liked the movie as much as I thought I would from the trailer, they're otherwise nothing alike.) Very interesting film that held my interest all the way through. 4 stars.

The Graduate (1967)

This movie was rather bizarre, but thoroughly enjoyable. At first I thought it was a serious drama, but this isn't the case at all, and once I realized that, I was able to sit back and enjoy the silliness of the whole thing. Dustin Hoffman is truly wonderful in this movie, creating a very distinct and memorable character. I'm not sure I was overly enthralled with the VERY sudden melodramatic ending. The movie had slowly gotten more serious over the past 20 minutes, and then suddenly it went zanier than it ever had before. It felt slightly inconsistent with the rest of the film. Other than that, though, a truly charming, very amusing film that I would definitely recommend. 4 stars.

Citizen Kane (1941)

This is considered by many to be the best movie of all time. I'd definitely vote for Casablanca over this, but watching it in film class and keeping my eyes open to the sorts of technique Welles used to make this movie was certainly fascinating. The story is only moderately compelling - more so if you're into epic biographies - but when I was actually paying close attention to the cinematography and the lighting (things I don't usually pay attention to) it was one of the most visually beautiful films I've ever seen. The visual aspect of it was WONDERFULLY executed. The story as a whole... eh. Okay. The acting... pretty good, but nothing that made me sit up and say, "Wow, that was incredible." However, this movie is probably worth seeing. Just keep an eye out for technical stuff. There's a lot of chiaroscuro effects that are simply gorgeous. 3.5 stars.

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Okay. I'll grant you that this movie was important in forming surrealism. That doesn't mean I have to like it. Most of the people I watched it with didn't like it, either, but that's because they just thought it was stupid. I found it profoundly disturbing. I really, really dislike movies that feel like dreams - I like recording my dreams but hate being in the middle of them - and so I was truly uncomfortable throughout this entire film. That's quite possibly the reaction Bunuel was going for... but, man. Didn't like this at all. 1 star.

Chicago (2002)

There are very few musicals done as slickly or as magically as this. Yes, I've decided to use the word "magical" to describe this movie, despite the dismal setting and morbid plot. But there just are very few other words for it. Every musical number captured my attention, despite the fact that I am not crazy about the show in general. THIS is how movie musicals should be made. Take a look, people working on Hairspray. Don't let the movie musical follow down the path of The Producers or Phantom of the Opera as sub-par representations of good shows. The movie musical does NOT have to be dead, not with gems like this just waiting to be made. 4.5 stars.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003)

I accidentally ended up seeing most of this when my family decided to rent it. I didn't care for the first Spy Kids - didn't feel it was at all interesting as a spoof - and this was about 10 times worse. The dialogue is ridiculous, the characters are idiotic, the plot is terrifyingly inane. And I'm not even going to touch on the 3-D thing. 0.5 stars.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

I was so ready to like this movie. *So* ready. So what happened? No one in it made sense, is what happened. Yes, it had a few nice images, and it had a nice premise, but character shifts happened abruptly. Plot points were glossed over. I got the feeling that someone went through, said, "Oh, this isn't scary, let's toss it," and edited out every single transition moment. It could have been a truly great movie, but mostly I just found it laughable because of its complete abruptness and lack of real characters. 1.5 stars.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sherlock, Jr. (1924)

I got to sit down and watch this in my film appreciation class, and it was a total blast! I don't usually get into the older slapstick comedies, but this had several moments where I literally laughed out loud. Even a few of the moments that last a little longer is necessary for the viewers to get, don't last *too* long - after all, the film's only 45 minutes total. Overall, this is a wonderfully crafted movie from the early days of comedy. Makes me want to go and hunt up some more Buster Keaton movies. 3.5 stars.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Rules of the Game (1939)

I sat down and watched this from beginning to end (musing often on how it reminded me of Sondheim's "A Little Night Music") and yet I'm not sure it left any sort of impression on me. It was an interesting story, told in an interesting way, but it meandered perhaps a bit too much. I kept thinking we were at the climax of the film.... but not yet. Because of this, the last 20 minutes felt incredibly anticlimactic. Still, a fascinating piece of filmmaking. I'm going to have to continue thinking about it and see if my thoughts on it change. 3 stars.

Detour (1945)

Saw this in my film class as examples of film noir and B-movies. Prime example of both. :-) However, as far as B-movies go, it's actually fairly decent. Plays the genre nicely, and although the acting is even more over-the-top than the well-known, classic noir, it was still a fairly satisfying film overall. I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone who couldn't get past the cheesiness of it all, though. 3 stars.

Goldfinger (1964)

On the recommendation of the guys over at All Movie Talk ( - everyone go check it out now!) I sat down and rented this movie. Bond sounded like a fun character, and I was hoping I'd get a good evening's entertainment out of this film. However, I forgot one important part of the equasion... I don't actually like action films. Or spy films. I was hoping that this would be interesting enough that I could get past that and just totally love it... but not quite. I was able to sit and enjoy it, but I'll most likely never see it again. I think I will check out a few more Bond films to see if the character grows on me enough to watch them all. (Actually, I'll probably end up watching all of them, since I intend to watch everything, eventually.) However I'm giving it a medium rating because my not liking it had little to do with the movie's quality and more to do with my attitude toward this genre in general. 3.5 stars.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Awakenings (1990)

This. Movie. Is. Wonderful. From the opening shots to the closing shots, it was fascinating and beautiful and touching and completely captured my attention. This is one of the best performances I've ever seen from Robert De Niro (of course the last thing I saw him in was Hide and Seek, which, you know, WASN'T his best role). Not overly sappy. Not overly cynical. Just from beginning to end, it's a beautifully crafted movie. I'd definitely recommend it. 4.5 stars.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Man For All Seasons (1966)

Plot: The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage.

This movie was fascinating. I didn't actually think I'd enjoy it as much as I did, but the dialogue is beautifully crafted. It didn't surprise me to learn that it was based on a play. It all centers around the dialogue. It was fascinating, given that it's so highly focused on moral values and private consciences as well, something that's not really given a lot of praise in the entertainment industry these days. Even in places where I disagreed with Sir Thomas's beliefs, I had to admire the steadfastness with which he held to those beliefs. Pressure from the government couldn't shake him from what he believed to be right. Quite an interesting story... I'd love to see it on the stage some day. 4 stars.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Broken Flowers (2005)

I saw Lost in Translation and liked it quite a bit... Not so sure about this one, although Bill Murray's character is essentially the same guy. This had a good beginning and middle, and I was getting very interested in and wrapped up in the story and all of a sudden... nothing. It ended. It was over. Not even a satisfyingly sad ending. Just a nothing. This is a trend that I'm not particularly fond of in movies, the not-ending ending. Meh. I'd rather have some sort of resolution, even if it's a tragic one. 3 stars.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

American Dreamz (2006)

I don't traditionally like pop culture comedies, or political comedies, so I pretty much got this with my fingers crossed hoping it'd be entertaining. Turns out, it was. Even the political stuff didn't bug me, and the American Idol spoofing was dead-on and absolutely hilarious. This flick hit all the right notes for me while managing to be the sort of film I never enjoy seeing. Now that's pretty impressive. Much of that is due to the nearly-always-present charm of Hugh Grant, but not all of it. Most of the other actors do a wonderful job as well. Even Mandy Moore is much funnier and more interesting than usual, creating a character I could actually believe in this time around. Good stuff. 4 stars.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Annie Hall (1977)

This movie was absolutely delightful. Two characters who felt very real even in the outrageousness of their neuroses. An ending that appealed to my cynical side with a middle that appealed to my sentimental side. Noteworthy lines and moments all the way through. I'm not sure how well it would stand up to a second or third viewing, but I really very much liked it the first time around. I'm really surprised it isn't rated higher than it is on here. 4.5 stars.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Prairie Home Companion (2006)

Plot: A look at what goes on backstage during the last broadcast of America's most celebrated radio show, where singing cowboys Dusty and Lefty, a country music siren, and a host of others hold court.

Ebert and Roeper were right. You will react to this like you react to the show. At least I did. Which meant that although there was a moment or two which made me smile, overall it made me just scratch my head and go, "Huh? I don't think I get it." I wasn't fond of the juxtaposition between the quasireality (if overexaggerated) and the complete fantasy of the Kevin Kline character. I really, really didn't get all that nonsense with Virginia Madsen's character. And I was as confused as anyone could possibly be with the ending. The movie ended and I thought, "I must have missed something." However, as I said, that's pretty much my reaction to the radio show, too. So if you can get into the humor of the radio show, go for it. If you can't... don't bother. 1.5 stars.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Harold and Maude (1971)

Wow. This has got to be the blackest comedy I have ever seen in my life. It actually left me somewhat depressed... and because of that, I can't rate it all that highly, nor can I think of many people I would actually recommend it to. Even in its humor it is unbelievably bleak, and although the ending is supposed to be less bleak, it just made me go, "Er. Okay." I had expected to like this a lot more than I did, I hadn't counted on the feel of it dragging me down quite as much as it did. 2.5 stars.

Paradise Now (2005)

The story is that of two young Palestinian men who are chosen to be suicide bombers. It would have been just very uninteresting if it had been entirely political: "This is why suicide bombing is wrong." But it's about so much more than that. Both sides of the story are given, and are interestingly done. There's the frustrated daughter of a martyr, who is convinced this isn't the way to go about it, and it's shown that she's probably right. But we also are sympathetic toward the two men who feel death is the only way to respond to oppressors.

The thing is, though, although the movie was indeed done very well, I really didn't feel much of personal connection to the characters, or much of an interest - until the very end. The last 15 minutes made sense and a sort of tragic beauty out of the entire rest of the movie. Now that was interesting. 3 stars.

The Life of David Gale (2003)

This was a "Yay-Wait-What" movie. As in, I finished the movie, went "Yay!" then thought about it, went, "Wait..." and then my final thought was: "Whaaat?" It's a political statement movie meets mystery thriller, except when you step back and look at them as a whole, neither aspect makes any sense, given what the movie gives us.

The story is of a man on death row who gives a set of interviews to a journalist. The journalist then sets out to prove he's innocent. Pretty straightforward. Except then it throws in a *lot* of political jargon about the death penalty (which doesn't make sense when connected with the ending) and a few twists (which don't make sense when connected with, say, the plot). It would have done better to focus on either the mystery or the message, because when they combined the two of them together, we got sort of a jumbled mess.

The difficulty is, though, that despite none of this hanging together, and despite their clearly not being quite sure on what their message *is*, I actually LIKED this movie fairly well. Heh. It wasn't until I actually sat down and started thinking about it that I realized it was nonsense. I can't actually recommend it as a fluff movie, though, because it's an unpleasant subject for a fluff movie. Oh, well. I liked it, but realize it wasn't good. How's that? 3 stars.

Looking For Comedy in the Muslim World (2005)

From what a friend of mine said about it, I thought it was a documentary, which it certainly was not. But I figured that out pretty quickly, and was able to just sit back and enjoy the movie. I really enjoyed the first 45 minutes or so, and only relatively enjoyed the last 45. It started getting just a little bit too silly and over-the-top for me to really enjoy it. Plus a few of the seemingly random dramatic moments (what was up with the assistant and her boyfriend? That was not particularly funny nor necessary to the plot) made me just wonder what on earth was suppoesd to be going on. There weren't very many laugh-out-loud moments, but throughout at least the first half of the movie I kept smiling. Too bad they couldn't have kept up the tone. 3.5 stars.

Life As a House (2001)

Normally, I wouldn't have watched this movie. It had too many opportunities for things to be silly and sappy, and I'm not a Hayden Christensen fan. But Anna recommended it to me, which meant I was either going to love it or hate it. :-) I leaned much closer to the "love" side. Although I wouldn't rave about it, I thought it was a very interesting movie. The few moments that were mildly silly were saved by the actors' performances. Both Kevin Kline and Hayden Christensen are superb in this, and although the drama was perhaps packed in a little too thickly at times, it still managed to come together into a very satisfying movie at the end. Another thumbs up for Anna's recommendations! 4 stars.

Liar Liar (1997)

I have to admit, out of all the "known to be annoying" comic actors, I like Jim Carrey the best (and Adam Sandler the least, but that's beside the point). He's good at what he does, even when he's not my style, and occasionally makes me giggle at things I wouldn't find funny if anyone else did them. He also has a good-natured air about him that most other comic actors lack. He actually has the ability to come off as a genuinely nice guy. (Back to Adam Sandler - even when he plays a supposedly nice people, I still want to shoot him.)

And therefore, this was not at all a bad movie. The premise is one of those that can, in the right hands, be hilarious, and in the wrong ones, horrendous. The screenwriters handle it just perfectly, with outrageous nonsense in nice proportion with the subtle humor and the sentimental plotline.

In conclusion... I liked this movie much more than I thought I was going to. I actually did laugh out loud a few times. That's pretty good. 4 stars.

L'Enfant (2005)

Earlier this week I saw Paradise Now, an Arabic film, and then this afternoon I watched this French film... and had the same reaction to both of them. Maybe it's the foreign film genre? I have no idea. I found this movie pretty not-compelling, up until the last 10 minutes or so, where suddenly it all came together and made sense and made an interesting story. Part of the problem with this one, though, was that I was annoyed with the main characters. They both seemed very young and very immature. There were several moments where I sat there, supposed to be sympathizing with this character, and not feeling any emotional response at all, except for maybe, "Geez, dude, that was stupid." He did manage to redeem himself a bit at the end, and she became much less annoying when she was angry than when she was the cheerful flirt, but still... the last ten minutes weren't enough to make up for the deadly boring hour and a half at the beginning. 2 stars.

American Beauty (1999)

What do you do with a movie where you were intrigued by the story, kept interested all the way through, but really disliked all the characters and couldn't actually relate to them? That's what happened here. Although it was a fascinating movie and had some really wonderful moments, I never warmed to any of the characters, whose flaws all overshadowed any good points they might have had. If that was a deliberate attempt to tie in to the theme of beauty in the world - a sort of "beauty's in the world, even if the people in the world aren't beautiful," then I agree it was wonderful. But if it was supposed to be a story about the people... I think it failed for me by not making the characters anyone I wanted to actually watch on screen. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, though, and rate it 3 1/2 stars instead of 3 like I usually would. 3.5 stars.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Aquamarine (2006)

This movie about two girls who help a mermaid find true love was pretty much what it was advertised as... a fluffy, mindless pre-teen film. Except for a fairly crucial fact... none of the characters acted like real people. The most realistic person was Claire, one of the human girls, who's afraid of everything. Aquamarine is written wise as the ages one moment, stupid teen the next. Hailey is in serious denial but portrayed as the one who knows what's going on. And let's not even go into the shallowness of Raymond as a character. When you find out your girlfriend is a mermaid, your next move is NOT to ask her out. I would think there would be more important things on her mind.

I was going to say this will probably appeal to young teens, but the main girls don't get any cute guys, so I'm not sure that it would. Perhaps I'm being overly cynical about the state of the movieviewing world. 2.5 stars.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

This was really a very nice movie. Visually, I found it much more lovely than Spirited Away. (Spirited Away was more spectacular, but also more creepy in quite a few places.) I'm not sure I fully understood the plot, though. There were a lot of convoluted moments. A lot of interwoven plots I didn't catch connections to, I'm sure. I'd probably benefit from watching it over again. What I caught of the story, I liked. Lots of Beauty and the Beast type romance, which makes me smile and be happy. Also, I'm not sure if this is true of this genre in general, but both of the Miyazaki films I've seen felt very epic, without actually BEING epic. I really like that feel in a movie. It gets me engrossed in the story, even if I'm not entirely sure what happened the whole time. 3.5 stars.

Elizabethtown (2005)

Wow. TBG has more than one facial expression in this movie. Impressive. Okay, I really didn't expect to like this movie at all. Romantic comedy down-home small town charm Orlando Bloom = Hannah runs away. However, Anna recommended it so I faithfully trotted off to rent it. And I really enjoyed the first half of the movie. It had a pleasantly dry and morbid sense of humor without going too over the top, and the characters themselves were even mildly interesting. Then about halfway through, things started going downhill. There was a cliched "I don't care if you've failed" scene (followed by, of course, neither character being sensible). There was a very, very strange scene at a funeral/memorial service involving the deceased's wife doing a stand-up comedy routine, followed by a tap dance number. That was a true "what the flipping HECK?" moment for me. Perhaps it was meant to be charming, but for me it just baffled me. And then the end picked up again. So, you know, if you cut about twenty minutes from the middle, you get a pretty solidly good romcom. But those twenty minutes so jolted me out of my "this is a good movie" mindset that I don't think I ever quite recovered. 3.5 stars.

Chicken Little (2005)

I was expecting this movie to be much worse than it was, actually. I was expecting to be irritated out of my mind. And I wasn't, really. It had a few moments that made me realize this could have actually been a good movie. They've got enough talent, and there's a decent story (if you tone down the "my father doesn't understand me" silliness), and it could have been a much better movie, for both kids and adults, if it hadn't been tainted with as many moments of, "Oh, please." It isn't nearly as bad as Doogal though, nor many of the other children's movies of today. 2.5 stars.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001)

Plot: The lives of a lawyer, an actuary, a housecleaner, a professor, and the people around them intersect as they ponder order and happiness in the face of life's cold unpredictability.

As I said this week in my review of Crash, I like movies with interlocking stories, so there were moments of this I really liked. I loved the connections, I loved the fact that it moved backwards in time, and I loved the quotes used from the movie as section titles. I even liked (although not loved) most of the stories. But the dialogue... oh, man. The dialogue in several sections of the movie made me wince. NO ONE talks like that! Also, it was one of the bleakest movies I've seen in a long time. Even the stories that end up happy don't feel happy. I don't have a problem with unhappy necessarily, but this left me incredibly depressed. Too bad, because it had some wonderful moments. 3 stars.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

This came as a very refreshing contrast to Bee Season, which also claimed to be about a girl and a spelling bee, but was just bizarre. This movie was probably one of the best family films I've seen this year. It was incredibly well-done, despite having so many of the cliches (the coach's tragic past, the unsupportive mother, etc.). These really didn't get in the way of the story at all, though, somehow. The kids were believably intelligent but also believably middle school. I really got caught up in the story and the characters and despite it not having anything that made me go "OH MY GOSH! BEST MOVIE MOMENT EVER!" it was one of the most solidly interesting movies of the year. 4 stars.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Get Shorty (1995)

Teehee. Black comedies are often great fun, and this ranks right up there with Grosse Pointe Blank as one of the best. Not only was it amusing, it also had an action-heavy-enough plot to keep my brother entertained throughout. No real laugh-out-loud moments, but it managed to keep me smiling most of the way through it. Although I wouldn't ever buy it, I'd recommend it to anyone who's a fan of the genre in general. 4 stars.

The Enemy Below (1957)

This was a pretty decent movie. It's about an American submarine chasing a German one during World War II, which doesn't sound like all that interesting a plot synopsis to me. The back of the DVD described it as "a game of cat-and-mouse," and, honestly, that's what it felt like. It was actually fascinating to watch the German captain trying everything he knew to get away from the American sub, so he could complete his mission. A bit of political stuff about war, but the movie didn't feel like a political diatribe.

My only real complaint about the movie was some of the stuff at the end. The ending just didn't feel right. All of them seem to be peacefully co-inhabiting. Is there *no one* on either sub who's going to react negatively toward the other side? Other than that, though, pretty good movie. Probably wouldn't watch it again, though. 3.5 stars.

When Zachary Beaver Came To Town (2003)

What WAS this movie? We watched it in our kids' lit class and I'm still not entirely sure what was going on. It started off promising, but then degenerated into a series of ridiculous, randomly dramatic events. It also contained some of the creepiest child-in-love scenes I have ever seen in my life. Too bad, because most of the child actors were at least moderately convincing. But in general, it was too disjointed and too silly. 1 star.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The First Wives Club (1996)

This was not high on my list of movies to see, and I didn't actually care for the vengeful theme of the plot (never actually been much for "it's not revenge, it's justice!" idea). This movie was saved not by the plot or dialogue, but by the characters, all clearly defined and all surprisingly believable for a fluffy comedy. And because they were believable, I genuinely cared about what happened to them. 3.5 stars.

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Anna had been recommending this to me for ages, and I finally got a chance to see it on TV. It worked surprisingly well. I'm not a huge Tom Cruise fan, but his character was likeable here despite having some major flaws. Renee Zellweger is nearly always likeable. The kid was amazingly cute for being not all that realistic. The spiel at the end was so sappy and so silly romantic drama... but somehow it worked. All the elements came together to make rather a very good movie. Not sure I'd purchase it, but I'd definitely recommend it to others. (And as an aside, am I getting less cynical or am I just seeing better romantic movies these days? Hmm.) 4 stars.

Eight Below (2006)

What do you rate a movie that you personally really hate the genre for but it's well done as its actual genre? That's my conundrum with this movie. My mom's whole family loved it and cried through the whole thing, and I suppose as far as animal survival movies go, it's very well done. And huskies are beautiful animals anyway. But if you're not a lover of dogs, or snow, or if you get cold easily, don't bother watching the movie. I had to go and get a sweatshirt and a blanket while watching this in Florida because just seeing people get frostbite made me start shivering. 2 stars.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Hmm... Hmm, hmm, hmm. I watched Adaptation and loved it except for the end. I watched this and loved select portions of it, but the rest made me go, "Um... okay." Charlie Kaufman, the writer, has so many moments of brilliance, writes some incredibly funny stuff, and no one could ever accuse him of being unoriginal, but there are far too many moments when his plot degenerates into something that doesn't quite live up to previous expectations. 3 stars.

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)

Hmm. War training movie romantic comedy? No, that doesn't sound like my type of movie, does it? And it really wasn't. It started out interesting but then got very disjointed and wandered all over the place. Couldn't decide on a sensible balance between the two genres, mostly. Plus, you can't really take any movie ALL that seriously when it includes a guy in a Navy uniform yelling, "I don't want you to love me! I don't want anyone to love me! I just want out!" 2 stars.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Cabaret (1972)

I saw a production of this at my local community college last year, and was blown away by the music and the story and determined to see the movie. The first and last ten minutes of the movie lived up to my hopes and expectations, but the rest of it wasn't even close. The play spent a lot of time portraying the thoughts and fears coming out of the political situation of the time. It was chilling, haunting, horrifying to see characters we'd really cared about developing such clear hate toward other characters - just because of their Jewish heritage. The movie lost that entire aspect of the story. There were almost no political aspects, just a focus on the characters of Sally and Brian (named Cliff in the play). Nearly all the depth of the story was lost. A real disappointment. 2.5 stars.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fever Pitch (2005)

Okay, so I'm not a fan of romantic comedies, Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, or baseball. So there's no reason for me to have seen this? Not entirely true. The book was written by Nick Hornby, author of "A Long Way Down," "High Fidelity," and "About a Boy," all of which are marvelous stories. So I watched this in the hopes that the good storytelling would save the movie. It saved it from being utter blah, but didn't make it stand out in anyway. Don't forget, there's still the very bland Drew Barrymore and the very consciously acting Jimmy Fallon to recover from... and while it recovered, it didn't recover ENOUGH to make it a memorable movie. Passable, sure, but not memorable. 2.5 stars.

Fight Club (1995)

What a fascinating film. Not just because of the plot, not just because of any social commentary in there, but because of the thought-provoking dialogue and the actual filmmaking (something I almost NEVER notice). It was one of the most intriguing movies I've ever seen, as well as, in many ways, one of the most disturbing - there were so many moments where I sat there thinking, "That is so wrong. That is so WRONG." But the movie kept being interesting, and I kept getting caught up in the dialogue, and watching the characters interact, and laughing, and gasping, and digesting ideas. Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did, most of the time. Will I ever watch it again? Probably not. Will I recommend it? Eh... that very much depends. Not everyone will like it. But those who do, will probably love it. 4 stars.

Corrina, Corrina (1994)

This was a very, very strange movie. Heh. You know how sometimes you watch a movie, and although it's not a very good movie as a whole, each individual moment is fun and you enjoy it anyway? This was the opposite. Each individual moment made me go, "Well. Okay. That was weird," but somehow I enjoyed the story as a whole and kept dismissing the weird moments as isolated incidents (even though they weren't). That's got to be some sort of mark of a good movie, that it can cause me to overlook glaring flaws. Like that individual moments made no sense. But yet I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Bizarre. I've never encountered that before. 3.5 stars.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

What an interesting movie. Johnny Depp is one of my favorite actors, not only because he's brilliant, but also because he usually picks good roles. There aren't very many things he's been in where I thought, "Now that was an utterly average movie." Leonardo DiCaprio is NOT one of my favorite actors - I usually find him bland - but he was absolutely marvelous in this. Entirely convincing in this role.

If I have one complaint with the movie, it would be this: although at the end I could tell this movie had a clear destination, I couldn't get any sense of it in the middle. About forty-five minutes into it, I still wasn't sure which characters or sideplots I was supposed to be paying the most attention to. I was horribly afraid this would be one of those movies where I'd get to the end and have no idea what it was actually about. Now, fortunately for me, they managed to switch that around and give me a very satisfying ending. But they had me worried there for a bit.

Overall a very good movie, though. Sweet without being overly sentimental, funny without being over-the-top. Good stuff, although I'm not sure it'll stand out in my memory it five years from now. 4 stars.

The Sting (1973)

Ooh. Classy. Stylish. Probably the first of its kind. There's just always something satisfying about a good heist movie... Even if it takes a long time getting to the end, watching the bad guys get what's coming to them makes me go "YES!" and feel like all's right with the world. This movie was full of those "YES!" moments, all the way through to the lovely ending of it. Newman and Redford are both fantastic in their roles. The dialogue was wonderfully snappy. The heist was beautifully executed. The ragtime music set the tone perfectly. I'm using a lot of adverbs here, but it's because although these aren't my FAVORITE genre of movies... they just don't get much better than this. 4 stars.

This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

Let me start off by saying I'm a huge fan of Waiting For Guffman, and then someone suggested this to me, so I finally got a chance to see it. I was NOT disappointed. I was a little worried in the first fifteen minutes ago that it wasn't going to live up to expectations, but after about half an hour I was starting to laugh out loud, and by the end I was convinced this movie was wonderful. I plan to watch it again with my family, which I'm looking forward to. There were so many wonderful throwaway lines that I couldn't possibly have found them all the first time. Although with Guffman I had the theater connection to keep me interested, this managed to hold my attention all by itself. Fantastic. 4.5 stars.

The Family Stone (2005)

This is possibly the most emotionally painful movie I have ever watched. Ugh. How did I dislike this movie? Let me count the ways.

1. I thought I was going to like it at first. I really did. It was really fascinating for the first fifteen or twenty minutes, and then I started realizing that it wasn't going anywhere. So, first off, I'm disappointed in them for giving me something good and then messing with it and making it silly.

2. I really have a bone to pick with those "for people to love you, you have to lose your inhibitions" stories. For me, it entirely destroyed the entire point of that story when it was revealed that he didn't actually love her. "Sure, we'll love you for who you are... Oh, except if you are really nervous and try too hard. Then you have to be like us. Adopt OUR flaws." Grawr.

3. By the time I got to the end, the romantic switches were laughable. Or would have been laughable if they weren't so pathetic. I think any two people on the verge of being engaged who break up with each other and then immediately, THAT SAME DAY, go out and sleep with/ask out their former almost-fiancee's sibling.... Man. There are some deep issues there I'm not even going to get into. That's not a happy ending. That's ridiculous.

And 4. The most important one. I could have forgiven all these other bits of nonsense if the characters had been either remotely likeable OR believable. But almost none of the characters were given enough depth, and the few who were, were not pleasant people.

I'm going to be generous, however, and rate it 1 star instead of half a star, because I did genuinely like the first fifteen minutes.

Oh. I forgot to mention they used Meet Me In St. Louis in there, which, although it was a musical, was a horrible musical with equally random plot points. That also scores against it.

Edit after reading a few reviews: This was a comedy? Wow. Could've fooled me.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Okay. Here were my thoughts, complicated as they are. This was an odd movie, somewhere between horror flick and courtroom drama, never quite reaching either one. (I don't watch a lot of horror flicks, but nearly everyone I've spoken to who does has said this wasn't up to par with what they were expecting.)

My main gripe with the movie, however, is the theology. It tried to be as realistic as possible about demonic possession, giving possible scientific reasons for the whole thing. I had someone tell me that this movie was ambiguous about whether or not demons were involved... It most definitely was not. I can't see any other way to interpret the ending of the Dr. Cartwright sideplot except to say that there were demons involved in at least some way. (Erm... in the movie.)

So. We've established that they are attributing Emily's illness to demons. Okay. Fair enough. I'm a Christian. I believe in demons. I believe demonic possession is possible. However, here's where I think they missed the entire point, and that is: The pinnacle of Christianity rests on the fact that God is bigger than everything. The pinnacle of this movie rests on the fact that God is sometimes bigger than some things as long as you use the right rituals and say the right words. One person claims the exorcism didn't work because of the medicine she was taking. I'm kind of thinking that if God can conquer a demon in the first place, he can handle medicine.

There were other problems I had with the movie, but that was the main one. Nearly every movie that involves demons does this - presents an evil dark force without presenting God's the promise of omnipotence. Even this movie, which claimed to have it from a Christian perspective, completely missed the boat.

As far as an actual artistic movie goes, I suppose it was done well enough. I was just distracted and bugged by the fact that they set the whole thing up to be a spiritual challenge from a Christian perspective when it only presented half the story. Far as I'm concerned, that means the "Christian perspective" was completely wasted.

Wow. This is a long rant. I'm done. 2 stars.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ray (2004)

I've always liked Ray Charles as a performer, so when I heard they were making this movie I was definitely interested in watching it. It falls somewhere in the middle for me as far as biopics go. It wasn't as innately fascinating to me as The Aviator, but nor did it just sit there and be dull. It had great music, an interesting plotline (primarily focusing on the battle for dominance between drugs and music) and I really did learn a lot of interesting things about the man that I hadn't known before. That's probably what a biopic is supposed to do... So I guess it did its job well, although I wouldn't ever sit down and watch it again. 3.5 stars.

Two For the Money (2005)

This movie is fairly deceptive because it looks like a thriller, or possibly a heist movie, but it really isn't. It's a serious drama about moral issues involved with gambling... But at no point does it turn preachy or silly about them. It examines them slowly and carefully and humanly, and at the end reaches a conclusion that makes sense. It was one of those movies where even where not much was happening, I was kept interested in the moment-by-moment happenings of the movie, which I've found is usually a sign of good screenwriting. Definitely an interesting movie, and worth watching. 4 stars.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Firm (1993)

This movie was intriguing because it didn't Hollywoodize the story as much as I'd expected them to. (That sounds like I'm comparing it to the book, which I'm not - I've never read it.) Although it was a very dramatic plot, it didn't bring out the "ooh, ooh, drama and tension!" strings until much later. For a two and a half hour movie, it definitely managed to hold my attention all the way through, which it gets big coolness points for. However, even though I enjoyed watching it, it wasn't really all THAT great a movie. Not one of those where I stand back and say, "Now THAT was good." Oh, well. Certainly a good way to be entertained for a few hours. 3.5 stars.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Glory Road (2006)

I know I said I didn't want to see this. But somehow I ended up watching this anyway. It was pretty much as I expected - we had Remember the Titans, we had Coach Carter, now we've got this. It served the same purpose and ran the same course and ended the same way. I really had very little reaction to this emotionally, but I'm sure if I had been a basketball fan it would have appealed to me much more. 2.5 stars.

Miss Congeniality (2000)

When this first came out, I had friends who raved about it, but it sounded like the dumbest premise on earth to me, so I was all prepared to hate this movie and was surprised to find it was actually not all that bad. The mystery was pretty lame ("The crown! It's hidden in the crown!" Um... okay...) but Sandra Bullock manages to carry the movie all the way through. There's nothing uproariously funny in this, nothing that made me laugh out loud or even think, "Now THAT was great," but there was also nothing that made me hate it, which, in my book, makes it a "not bad" which is much higher than I expected it to be. 3 stars.

Nurse Betty (2000)

Wow, that was... interesting. Hmm. Did I like it or did I not? That's a tricky question. It took me a long time to decide whether this was a drama or a comedy or some mixture because it didn't play exactly like either one. Because of that, I was emotionally confused throughout the entire movie. About two-thirds of the way through the movie I began to finally settle into a comfortable mindset for watching the movie, and the rest of it was really interesting. I guess I had the same issue with this that I had with Garden State - once I knew what genre it was, I could actually relax and let myself enjoy it, but whenever I got confused about the genre and wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad, that weirded me out enough that it became not cool for me. 3.5 stars.

Garden State (2004)

I have mixed feelings about this movie, actually. At the very beginning of the film I though to myself, "Hmm, this might just be a little too weird and indie for me." Then it settled down and became quite fascinating to watch, with some really good dialogue. And then, out of the blue, in jumped a silly romantic comedy ending that left me going, "Wait. What? No!" This was clearly a drama (albeit one with a sense of humor), and should have ended as such.

However, I was really very interested in the middle of the movie. As I said, great dialogue, and the characters were really interesting. So three and a half stars for the middle of the movie. It's too bad they had to goof all that up with the end, though. Meh. 3.5 stars.

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Very few dramas can hook me at the beginning of the movie and keep me interested all the way to the end. Before Sunrise was one. Ordinary People was another. And this is a third. I found myself completely absorbed in the characters and the story in about ten minutes. However, while I can pinpoint exactly *what* kept me interested in the first two dramas I mentioned (dialogue and plot, respectively), I can't quite pinpoint just one thing that kept me more interested. This movie works together so smoothly... the characters, the dialogue, the plot... everything just flows together to create a movie that I really enjoyed quite a lot. (Although time progessed a lot faster in the movie than I thought it was progressing. Heh. All of a sudden it's 15 years later and I was like, "What? I thought only like a year and a half had gone by!") 4 stars.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

This was only on my "moderately want to see" list, but I'm extremely glad I finally got to see it. I really had no idea what to expect. Comedy? Action? Thriller? A little bit of all of that. While the thriller and action parts of the movie weren't my favorites, the portions of the movie going for comedy were hilarious. The characters' dialogue was beautifully witty, and a few of the out-of-the-blue unusual moments had me laughing out loud, something I don't usually do during movies. Come to think of it, I laughed out loud quite a lot during this movie. Truly funny, and well worth watching. No doubt goes on my all-time favorites list. 4.5 stars.

Courage Under Fire (1996)

This review is a bit last minute, and therefore going to be a bit abrupt, but here goes. Although this movie was done really well and had an interesting plot and was acted well and had good dialogue... I just couldn't get into it. Something just never clicked between me and the movie. I'm not sure what. Maybe I wasn't expecting it to be as much of a war movie as it was. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood. Either way, it was a really good movie but I just personally didn't enjoy it. 3 stars.

Chocolat (2000)

I just finished reading the book, which was rather fascinating, and thought, "How on earth are they going to translate it to film?" Well, they did, and they did an okay job with it, except for the fact that it became a blatant morality tale about tolerance. The book at least tried to be subtle about it. The movie had a 30-second SERMON about it, for pete's sakes. (Worse still, it scoffed at the idea that one can be tolerant if you have religious ideals that don't make sense to other people. Isn't that slightly defeating the point of tolerance?)

HOWEVER, aside from that, it was a pretty interesting story, and I was actually quite impressed with the way that they handled the chocolate in the film. That sounds bizarre, but that was one of the things I was worried about. In the book, so much was about feeling things you couldn't easily portray on film. For the most part, that transition worked. 2.5 stars.

Changing Lanes (2002)

It's getting harder and harder to review movies. It's difficult to find enough to say about movies you LIKE, and I keep seeing good movies. Meh. But, anyway, on to actual discussion of this. This movie was fascinating. Although usually I'm bored by Ben Affleck, he did quite a good job with his character. Samuel L. Jackson was great as always.

Probably the most interesting aspect of the movie was its delving into moral issues without attempting to get preachy at all. Although this movie was advertised as a thriller, it was clearly more drama than action/thriller, as the focus was on the characters, not the tension or the threats. And the characters were marvelous... it was fascinating watching the contrasts and similiarities between them as they tried to exact their revenge on each other, or push each other over the edge.

If you're expecting a high speed action thriller with lots of car chases and gun fights, this isn't what you're looking for. But if you want something to mull over for awhile, this movie will do just fine. 4 stars.

If Only (2004)

Despite it being a Groundhog Day lookalike, I was all ready to see this movie and possibly enjoy it. And for the first, oh, ten minutes or so I did. A little over-the-top at times, sure, a little contrived, but I was willing to suspend disbelief enough to watch it. And then the main plot point happened (the boyfriend relives the day his girlfriend dies) and everything just went down the tubes. I'm not sure whether it was a horrid script or a horrid actor (I've never seen him in anything else), but that boyfriend was probably the least believable character I've seen on screen in a long time. Hammy, making ridiculous accusations, acting the way no normal person would... On careful consideration, I think it must have been at least 3/4 the fault of the script, because the girlfriend seems to go through mad mood swings, too. On that morning she's convinced he's the only one she could ever love, and in the evening she announces, very out of her set character, that she wants to break up with him because he doesn't appreciate her. It also has the bleakest ending of ANY chick flick I have ever seen. Most chick tearjerkers have at least a semblance of hope, or an "Oh, my gosh, that's so sweet," but that final scene of her standing on the mountaintop is one of the most depressing things I have seen in my entire life. Skip this movie. Really. 1 star.

The Out-of-Towners (1970)

I fully expected to enjoy this movie. I mean, Jack Lemmon, Neil Simon, and New York City (albeit only NYC's chaotic side)... what could go wrong? And the answer is, I'm not entirely sure. Like I said, I kept expecting I'd enjoy it and then it just kind of fizzled. I usually love Neil Simon's writing, but here it felt less snappy and more tired. I usually find Jack Lemmon very funny, but in this movie his performance also got tired. I don't think I actually laughed once during this movie... That can't be a good sign. The whole thing felt so unrelentingly BLEAK, too. I don't mind stories all about horrible situations - I adored Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - but somehow this just left me feeling depressed. I noticed almost no background music during the entire movie, perhaps that had something to do with it? It would be interesting to see how the remake compares with this. Perhaps someday. 2 stars.

Just Friends (2005)

Let me start this off by saying I've really liked Ryan Reynolds in the other two movies I've seen him in. (Foolproof and Finder's Fee.) So what happened to him in this movie? I'm not entirely sure.

The movie was a really nice concept, actually. Could have been done really sweetly and made even me think, "Now there's a good movie." However, there were two major flaws: 1) The whole thing was played far too over-the-top, which makes the entire story difficult to swallow in the first place, and 2) The main guy really WASN'T all that likeable. He was rude and manipulative and that doesn't just change in the blink of an eye. I didn't particularly want the girl to end up with him. Whoops.

That being said though, there were a few good moments throughout the film, and it really WAS a nice idea for a chick flick. It just didn't actually work out. 2 stars.

Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989)

What can I say about this movie? Do I rate it low, do I rate it high? (I'll compromise and rate it lowish middle.) It was a truly terrible movie but I laughed so hard while watching it that I actually had fun with it. I might even purchase it. This movie is one of those that is SO bad it's hilarious. The sock puppet piranhas... the people who keep switching sides... the dialogue... oh, goodness, the dialogue. This has been's Official Bad Movie for many years, and now I can take pride in the fact that I've seen it and it is every bit as horrible and awesome as they all claimed it was. 2.5 stars.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Just a few weeks after seeing Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting, I finally sat down and watched this. The two of them are simply marvelous together. They made this movie as good as it was. The movie doesn't have much going for it in terms of plot - nothing much really happens, as the characters just run around being chased by the law. But the characters are interesting, primarily made interesting by Newman and Redford themselves. About half an hour into the movie, I wasn't sure I was so thrilled about it, but as I began to just enjoy the conversations and tune out the bits I didn't like, I decided the movie as a whole is well worth watching. Good stuff. 3.5 stars.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Firewall (2006)

I'm not a big fan of the straight action flick, but for some reason this movie intrigued me, so this evening I sat down and watched it. It was one of those movies that's exactly like every other action/thriller (more thriller than action... no real "let's duke it out" scenes until the very end) . . . fairly enjoyable, but absolutely nothing that really caught my attention. (As opposed to, say, Panic Room, another thriller/action that actually *did* interest me all the way through.) This was passable, but I got confused among all the different faces. The fact that one of the guys kept changing accents didn't help at all.

It was also difficult for me to follow who was in on what plans, and what the bad guys were doing for what reason. On the other hand, this did appear to use actual computer technology, as opposed to some other computer movies that clearly don't have a clue how these things work. At the very least, it was showing an actual computer screen - the Windows search, for example, actually looked like a windows search, rather than some impressive made-up window with giant letters saying "CAN I HELP YOU?" on it.

Bottom line: If you're a fan of the genre, you'll probably like it a lot more than I did. If you're not a fan of the genre, you'll probably like it as much as any of the others of its kind. *shrug* 2.5 stars.

The Producers (2005)

I had mixed feelings on this. I absolutely adored the original movie, and I absolutely adore musical theater and movies that have an abundance of musical theater people in them... but somehow this never quite clicked for me. Even musical moments that clearly should have been spine-tingling ("I Wanna Be a Producer," for example) simply weren't. I sat there thinking, "I should be enjoying this a whole lot more than I am." Just another example, I guess, of how something with a lot of energy on stage often loses that energy when it transfers to the screen.

Not to say this is a bad movie, though. I still enjoyed it, although never at any point did I think it was spectacular. There were a few moments that made me giggle, and the cast was all very good. The most surprising to me was Will Ferrell. He's one of those people I keep expecting to be really obnoxious in a movie, and then I watch it and think, "Actually, that was pretty good." The same happened here. This was a great part for him... made me laugh a few times.

And let's not forget to make a brief mention of the performances of Roger Bart, who's one of my Voices, and Gary Beach, who isn't one of my Voices but is still a musical theater person, and Uma Thurman, who isn't a musical theater person but also did a good job in her role. 3.5 stars.

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

There are no words for this movie. I saw this on a MST episode and kept giggling all the way through, and not because of the comments, either. This movie was truly bad enough on its own. However, it made me laugh so hard that I'm giving it a full one star instead of the half star it would have gotten had it been less entertaining as a bad movie. The scene where Torgo was hitting on the wife while she just stood there looking shocked and screaming her husband's name had me almost in tears, I was laughing so hard. Good stuff, good stuff. Dialogue isn't as beautifully atrocious as Plan 9, though. 1 star.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Before Sunrise (1995)

If there's one thing Richard Linklater can do, it's write dialogue. It was evident in Waking Life and it's evident here. There's not very much plot in Before Sunrise. Basically, two strangers meet on a train and decide to spend the rest of their day/night together. The majority of the movie is spent just listening to their conversations with each other. They're not particularly realistic - these people are witty even when their awkward, and always ready with a profound anecdote that applies to the situation. But even without that realism, the conversations are still FASCINATING. In the first ten minutes, I was hooked, and I stayed interested for the rest of the movie.

I'm never a big fan of the "love me tonight, for tomorrow we part" stories... However, this one redeemed itself in a few ways that I'm not going to mention now because I suppose they might be construed as spoilers. And because it redeemed itself and it stayed so beautifully interesting all the way through, it gets rated quite high. 4.5 stars.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)

This movie was advertised as a comedy, which it certainly wasn't. It was much more of a lighthearted drama. That small issue taken care of, I very much liked this movie. Mosly because it didn't AT ALL give it the standard Hollywood treatment of "large kid" movies. You want to know what life in a large family is like? Don't ever, ever watch Cheaper By the Dozen 2, or Yours Mine and Ours. Watch this. The mom was carefully attentive to all their children, and nobody started screaming when someone threw up on the floor or started throwing paint around. Actually, come to think of it, NO ONE threw up on the floor or started throwing paint around. Shocking as it may be, that doesn't happen regularly in a large family's home.

With that soapbox out of the way, I really did like this movie. This woman was an incredible mother and a faithful wife, even in a situation where most heroines of today's movies would have taken the children and left. The scene where she talks with her sixteen-year-old daughter is fascinating, as it flies in the face of many of today's ideas - that a woman's life is wasted if she stays at home taking care of children.

I'm not sure who else would enjoy this, though. I'm trying to think who I could recommend it to and can't actually think of anyone. It's fairly slow and laidback and casual in the way it presents its material. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I'm not sure anyone else would. 4 stars.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Let me start off this review by saying I'm a huge-ish fan of Tim Burton's. His lighter movies have a fantastic touch to them ("fantastic" is clearly not used here to mean "very cool") and his darker movies have a wonderful dark beauty to them. His movies also handles morbid humor really well... straddling the line perfectly between "Oh, gosh, that was hilarious" and "Oh, gosh, that was disgusting." I also loved Corpse Bride, which, of course, this was compared to the most. But on to my actual evaluation of this particular movie.

Corpse Bride had a lovelier story and seemed fuller in its telling of it. This was an amusing story, but there wasn't enough of it to fill a seventy-minute movie. So they just inserted lots of exposition in singing. Let me make this clear - if you're one of those people who is bugged by characters randomly bursting into song... you will NOT like this movie. I think there was more singing than there was dialogue. Didn't other me all that much, except that I kept expecting something to happen and then it never did. Maybe if I hadn't been expecting something plot-heavy I would have had a completely different take on it. There were a few laugh-out-loud moments (I laughed hardest when the child opened up his Christmas present to find a shrunken head inside) that definitely made it worth watching, but I think I would have been more interested if they had just cut all the songs and presented it as a 15-20 minute short. 3.5 stars.

*batteries not included (1987)

I was somewhere in the middle on this film, I think leaning more toward a 2.5 than a 3. While it had some moments that made me smile, they were all "guilty pleasure" smiles. Like, "I know this is ridiculous and silly but I can't help being slightly charmed by this." However, the movie as a whole felt disjointed. There were too many stories going on without any actual complete resolutions on any of them. The street thug who turned out to be not so bad, for example. His story ends very abruptly, and this movie was too overtly sentimental to get away with NOT finishing his story. Was it a more serious drama, it could have left him hanging, but not in this movie. So I was amused in moments but largely unimpressed by this film, although I would imagine younger audiences might like it. They're not likely to think, "Oh, this is disjointed." The youngest one I watched it with was thirteen, and she seemed to enjoy it. 2.5 stars.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

High Fidelity (2000)

I'm a big fan of Nick Hornby's writing, and had already read the High Fidelity book. I was unsure as to how the movie would be - would it keep the same rambling, blog-like conversations about music? Would it transfer as a story from Britan to America? Would it try to Hollywoodize the whole thing instead of keeping it the charming meandering story it was? The answers, by the way, are yes, yes, and no. This was the PERFECT movie adaptation - a great adaptation of a great book. What struck me is that almost every single character was instantly the way I'd imagined them. Those actors just NAILED their character. (The one exception for me was Ian.) This is not your typical romantic comedy. It's slow, it's laidback, it's meandering, it's philosophical, and it's completely charming. There aren't many more good things I can say about this movie. I can't figure out ways to put them all into words. Great stuff. 4.5 stars.

Crash (2004)

What a fascinating movie. This movie took all these different stories about racism and told them in a fresh way, avoiding most of the cliches. That's pretty impressive. I'm not sure I'd call it the best picture of 2005, but it was certainly well done. My main argument with it, though, was that many of the stories felt incomplete. The Sandra Bullock story, for example, left me wanting more of it to be told, as did the story of the Asian couple. When compared to my favorite movie, Love Actually, which also consisted of several intertwining stories, that one did a much better job of telling the stories satisfactorily. Although many of the stories in Crash were satisfactory, there were too many that left me going, "Wait- what? What about them?" 4 stars.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Beyond the Sea (2004)

This wasn't hugely high on my list of "movies to see," but within about ten minutes of putting it on I realized it was going to be a movie I really, really enjoyed. It's difficult to find a word that accurately describes the feel of this movie, but I think the closest is "fanciful." Even when looking at the difficulties in this man's life - his rocky marriage, his disillusionment, his unusual family relationships - there's still something magical and free that jumped out at me every time he took the stage. The sequence early on in the movie where Bobby decides to go to New York to try and make it big is one of the loveliest moments I've seen in a movie in a long time. Something about it just struck home for me... I definitely got chills.

I must also say Kevin Spacey was absolutely superb in this role. Sometimes when actors take on roles as singers they don't come across as at all natural. That was not the case here.

This is definitely an artist's movie, or a movie for people who like biographies. 4 stars.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Doogal (2006)

The trailers had me thinking this was a worthless movie. However, a friend recommended it, and I dutifully went out to rent it. After the first fifteen minutes I left the room, instructing my family to let me know if it got better. Apparently it didn't. I tried to finish it again later, but still couldn't find anything to recommend it to me. I love animated movies and I love spoofs, so obviously this can't be all me "not getting it". There appears to be no humor and very little actual story. The dialogue is amazingly stilted, not to mention cliched ("Don't worry, Florence. I'll get you out of there. I promise." "I believe in you, Doogal. You're my best friend." That's the kind of nonsense we get in here). 1 star.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Ah, now I have finally seen the original of this movie. And my thoughts on it? Rather complicated. Okay, let me start off by saying I loved the book, and I loved the 2005 version. Gene Wilder was certainly closer to the Willy Wonka of the book (which I loved). And the ridiculous Wonka backstory wasn't in this one, thank goodness. Now here's where it gets tricky. I'm giving this the same rating as the 2005 version because, although overall it was a better movie, it wasn't moment by moment. You know how there are some movies you enjoy actually WATCHING but they're really not that good as a whole, and other movies are good as a whole but not that interesting to watch? The 2005 version falls into the first category, the 1971 into the latter. So they get the same rating. 3 stars.

Capote (2005)

I'm not entirely sure what to say about this movie. Once I actually sat down to watch it, it really seemed to drag. It seemed slow and plotless, even though it *wasn't* particularly plotless, and it took me three tries before I finally managed to get through it. Usually I don't mind slow, but on at least one night I fell asleep watching this movie. Odd, and too bad, because I was all ready to really, really like this film. 2.5 stars.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I Am Sam (2001)

Well, I liked this when I first watched it, back in 2001 when I was into the uber sappy movies. I suspect if I watched it again I'd hate it. So I'm giving it an in-between of 2.5 stars.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Great Gatsby (1974)

As I began watching this, I was unsure if I was going to enjoy it or if it was just going to be one of those long movies that are clearly supposed to be deep but mostly just make me think, "I haven't any idea what that was." However, as the movie kept going, I found I was getting engrossed in the story, and by the time it got to the end I was genuinely interested in what was going on. Pretty slow-moving but interesting. I think I might actually read the book now. 3.5 stars.

Little Manhattan (2005)

In the first ten minutes of this movie, I found myself increasingly worried that I had selected The Wrong Movie for myself. However, as the story progressed and the characters evolved, it turned into a very charming little movie. A bit over-the-top at times, but nonetheless totally feel good and fluffy without being annoying. I'm quite, quite satisfied with the ending. 4 stars.

Hoodwinked (2005)

I heard from a few people who really didn't like this movie, but I disagree with them quite a bit. I think it was one of the most fun animated movies I've seen that didn't come from Disney. Certainly better than, say, Shark Tale or Robots. It felt like there were two halves to the movie, though... the first half was the most fun, as the four characters all told their individual stories. The second half, where everything got wrapped up and the bad guy got what he deserved, was less enjoyable but still had some good moments. All in all, this film made me smile a lot. Definitely recommended. 4 stars.

Adaptation. (2002)

Plot: A lovelorn screenwriter turns to his less talented twin brother for help when his efforts to adapt a non-fiction book go nowhere.

I can't decide whether I really really liked this movie or only really liked it. Heh. I really hadn't any idea what to expect as I sat down to watch it. Halfway through I was thinking this was one of the most interesting movies I'd ever seen. There were many moments of sheer brilliance that made me laugh out loud. And then . . . I don't know. It felt like it fizzled. Maybe I'm missing the point (I do that a lot). I'm going to go ahead and give it four and a half stars though, because two thirds of it was SO SO SO good. Definitely a good movie to see.

Edit: Okay, just got done reading some reviews of the movie that explain what this was trying to do. It definitely makes sense now, and, although I won't give away the ending, I give them definite kudos for trying that... even if it didn't particularly work for me. *grin* I may have to just have my dad watch it so I can re-watch it and see if, knowing what point it's making, it makes more sense to me. If so, I'll update this review once again. 4.5 stars.

Amadeus (1984)

This was an absolutely fascinating movie. Although I don't particularly like classical music, I do like music in general, and I'm fascinated by stories about musicians. Seeing people get this wrapped up in music just intrigues me. Although it's definitely not a completely accurate portrayal of the story of Salieri and Mozart, it's well worth seeing. It runs quite long - 160 minutes - but I stayed interested nearly every minute. Both the lead actors played their parts superbly. I just definitely, definitely think this was a well done movie. 4 stars.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hide and Seek (2005)

I know a lot of people didn't like this movie... it was panned pretty badly... but I didn't think there was anything all that bad about it. Perhaps I'm just not a seasoned enough connoisseur of the horror/suspense flick, but I rather liked it, except for the fact that the ending battle was drawn out obsecenely long. Once the "big revelation" is made, we really didn't need a half hour battle. Not when the movie's only 101 minutes to begin with. Oh, and one other comment. In this movie, Robert DeNiro looks frighteningly like Gregory Peck. 3 stars.

Nanny McPhee (2005)

What a fun movie! I really hadn't any idea what to expect, but it had a delightful whimsical feel to it. My sister described it as "Willy Wonka meets Mary Poppins." There were a few moments that had me rolling my eyes and thinking, "Well, THAT was silly," but overall it was quite a satisfying movie. 3.5 stars.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

101 Dalmatians (1996)

Plot: A woman kidnaps puppies to kill them for their fur, but various animals then gang up against her and get their revenge in slapstick fashion.

Overall, very underwhelmed by this movie. I suppose it'll have its appeal for some people, but... those people are not me. This felt silly, over-the-top, and without any of the charm of the original. 1.5 stars.

Bambi (1942)

Although I personally don't like this movie - cute little animals in the forest have never really been my thing - I must say it's one of Disney's better animated features. There's a definite beauty to it in its depictions of the forest. 3 stars.

A Bug's Life (1998)

Plot: A misfit ant, looking for warriors to save his colony from grasshoppers, recruits a group of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troup.

Probably my least favorite out of all the Disney/Pixar films, but that's still not saying anything bad about this movie. It was a very fun plot with interesting characters, and an innocence to it that I missed in Antz. 3 stars.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Godspell (1973)

I saw this for the first time at my aunt's house in Rhode Island, and it in turn introduced me to the theater version of this. Godspell is just such a fun show... so upbeat and energetic and full of fun. The cast of the movie is pretty good, definitely does justice to the score. 3.5 stars.

One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)

Plot: When a litter of dalmatian puppies are abducted by the minions of Cruella De Vil, the parents must find them before she uses them for a diabolical fashion statement.

Quite a cute movie... and I don't think Disney's ever written a villain quite as great as Cruella. 3 stars.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Plot: Mankind finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, artifact buried on the moon and, with the intelligent computer HAL, sets off on a quest.

Okay, so it's a classic. Okay, so it's supposed to be one of the best films of all time. I still don't get it, and I still don't particularly like it. Weird random symbolism doesn't particularly interest me if it doesn't seem to connect to anything... which is the problem here. 1 star.

Air Force One (1997)

Plot: Hijackers seize the plane carrying the President of the United States and his family, but he (an ex-soldier) works from hiding to defeat them.

Pretty good movie, although certainly not perfect. Very solidly interesting. 3 stars.

A Sound of Thunder (2005)

Plot: When a hunter sent back to the prehistoric era runs off the path he must not leave, he causes a chain reaction that alters history in disastrous ways.

Teehee. Such silliness this is. Loosely based on a Ray Bradbury story that I absolutely loved, this goofy little action flick is full of plotholes and cheesy dialogue. However, I have to admit I enjoyed it more than most action/adventure flicks. It does have a good premise (hello, Bradbury!) even if it then does slice it up so that it's harder to tell it's a good premise. Pretty mindless fun, but nothing in the least special. 2.5 stars.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Raising Arizona (1987)

Early Coen brothers . . . such fun! I tend to find their films always pleasant, if never spectacular. This certainly held true to that. Definitely had a couple moments that made me giggle. I'm not sure I'd recommend it as a hugely amazing movie, but it was certainly fun to sit down and watch. (I liked Intolerable Cruelty better, I must say.) 3 stars.

Must Love Dogs (2005)

Well. This was unstellar. It was unhorrible, too. I like John Cusack as an actor, so that was a plus, especially since his character was quite likeable. I have no doubt that I thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie. But now, three days later, can I remember anything about it? I cannot. And this is why this movie is far from great. 3 stars.

Bee Season (2005)

I'm not sure what this movie was trying to do or say, quite honestly. I got it expecting it to be a movie all about a spelling bee, rather like the "Spellbound" documentary, but it definitely wasn't. It became a family drama, except the family was entirely too messed up for my taste. And I never felt like anything got resolved. Mostly it just felt messy and choppy and unfinished. I wouldn't recommend it. 1 star.