January 2003 Archives

Almost Famous

I recently watched Almost Famous from a recording. I think this is a fabulous movie. I had seen it during its theatrical release and it was just as good the second time. The story of a bright teenager who gets involved with a 70's rock band and its followers, while writing a story for Rolling Stone magazine is just about perfect. It captures the impact that music has on its fans. It captures the imperfect people that succeed in creating music. It captures the sense of awe or wonder one would feel if they got to ride on the bus with the band.

As much as I liked the plot of this movie, its real strength is in the casting and acting. With the exception of the main characters sister, I can’t imagine any actor being better suited to each of the roles than those that were cast. If you want to understand rock and roll music, I can’t think of a better movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 93.

The Luzhin Defence

We watched a recording of The Luzhin Defence recently. I really enjoyed this film about a grown chess prodigy and a woman who falls in love with him. I understand that it is based on a book by Nabachov.

I think the acting is wonderful and well worth the time. Some might find it hard to accept the love story aspect of the movie, but I think that if one has been searching for a certain type of mate and then finds one then it is possible for the relationship to progress that quickly.

I am glad we recorded this. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 79.

Gia

We watched a recording of Gia. I am not sure what my expectations were of this movie, but in the end I thought it wasn't worth the time I spent. Angelina Jolie stars as the title character, a lesbian supermodel from the late 70's early 80's time period who eventually dies of AIDS. She of course gets it via her drug use.

In the end it almost felt like a public service announcement from a conservative religious group, but with nudity. The thesis could almost be read as being gay leads to drug use that leads to AIDS which leads to death. As a result, I can't imagine anyone enjoying this much. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 35.

Bamboozled

We watched the Spike Lee film Bamboozled. I have never been completely on board with his politics, but I think that he is usually great at providing provocative films. They usually are interesting enough to at least justify reexamining your own perspective. With this as my perspective, I think this film is an utter failure. It almost adds up to being a spoof of a Spike Lee film.

Lee's perspective seems to be that we live in a society so racist that mainstream America would gladly embrace a blatantly racist television show. I find that hard to believe. I clearly believe that there are still racists in America today. I might even believe that there is enough racism to accept racism subtexts in our entertainment, but I am can't imagine the movies reality intersecting with ours.

Even though it is a point that is included in the movie itself, I think that it is sad that Lee would want to make a movie which encourages racial stereotyping. Only his own ethnicity allows him to do so without being denounced as a racist himself.

On my scale of 1-100, I give it a 50. The rating is this high only because of the quality of the acting and the thought that the mileage you get out of the message may be different from mine.

Deception

We watched a movie called Deception that is listed in the IMDB as Ruby Cairo. The movie stars Andie McDowell as a widowed mother who is forced to travel around the globe retrieving money that her husband had deposited in various banks. The plot is supposed to be mysterious, but it will come as no shock that her husband is actually alive.

I can clearly see why she decided to make the movie as it allowed her to visit a wide variety of locations. That, however, does not make it worth watching. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 36.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

We watched a recording of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. We saw it originally in the theater and wanted to see it again. I will warn you, it is rated R for a reason. That reason is language. If the language in any movie has ever turned you off, then this one will turn you off also.

With that caveat, I loved this movie. It was funny. It fit in with the other movies in the View Askewniverse. It had inside jokes all over the place. It had great cameos including Ben Affleck as a character and as himself. It even had Mark Hamill. This is clearly his best work since Return of the Jedi, and probably since The Empire Strikes Back.

If you are unfamiliar with writer/director Kevin Smith's work, I recommend that you start by seeing his first movie Clerks. After that almost any of them make sense, though if you watch them in order you will get more inside jokes.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a 92.

Some Girls

We watched this coming of age comedy, Some Girls, starring Jennifer Connelly. I think the only reason we watched it was because I thought that I had heard of it and thought it was supposed to be funny. It isn't. The plot has a college age guy go to visit his girlfriend and her family. The family is supposed to be funny in a wacky sort of way, but they only come across as a movie sort of wacky. For example, the father can only work on the book he is writing in the nude.

All in all, I rate it as a boring time. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 36.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

We watched a recording of O Brother, Where Art Thou?. I know that this movie has received a lot of praise, but I wasn't so impressed. It was a good movie and worthwhile, but I wasn't blown away by it.

Set in the depression, this made a nice cross between music and comedy. I think George Clooney always does a good job at coming across as charming and his role really plays to his strengths. The plot of the movie is based on Homer's Odyssey. If I was more familiar with the Odyssey, I might have derived more pleasure from the movie, but I only know it well enough to recognized the obvious allusions like the Cyclops and the sirens.

On my scale of 1-100, I would give it a 73.

High Fidelity

I recently watched a recording of High Fidelity. I had vague, yet positive memories about seeing it in the theater and so was surprised at how much I liked it when seeing it again.

The adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel, starring John Cusack as a recordstore owner who thoughts about life are stirred up when his girlfriend leaves him is great. Having the main character address the camera and audience directly with information that he is not sharing with the other characters retains much of the internal dialogue that is often lost when a book becomes a movie.

The movie also has a great comic character portrayed by Jack Black, that inspires quit a few laughs.

As a music fan, I also thought that the ideas about the role music plays in people’s lives were also interesting and somewhat insightful.

I think most people would enjoy this movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 91.

Legally Blonde

We watched a recording of Legally Blonde. We had seen it before and liked it, so I knew I would enjoy it. Seeing it again, however, reminded me of what an amazing tightrope, they managed to walk in this movie of a smart, but otherwise stereotypical sorority girl, going to Harvard Law School.

It is quite an achievement. My natural inclination would be to dislike, the main character, but I found myself rooting for her to succeed. The script, also manages to get some good laughs at the expense of people she forces to interact with someone that rarely enters their insular world. For example the admissions committee shocked by someone applying whose undergraduate degree is in fashion merchandizing.

As a lighthearted comedy, this movie succeeds very well. I recommend it to most everyone. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 86.

Behind Enemy Lines

We watched the ridiculous Behind Enemy Lines off a recording. I found it to be a silly action movie with really annoying time dilation effects used for no good reason.

I guess it might work for you if you don't mind an action movie that exploits the wars in the former Yugoslavia for its setting. I do, so on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 30.

sex, lies, and videotape

I just watched a recording of sex, lies, and videotape. I originally saw the movie years ago in its theatrical release and wanted see if it was as good as I remembered. All in all, I would say that it is. I found the plot interesting and the acting great. I still find something odd about Peter Gallagher, but I think this is true in anything I see him in.

It was interesting to see the role lies play in the sex lives of the characters. It was even interesting to see the perspective of the character that videotapes interviews with women about their sex lives, because he can't actually become aroused in the presence of women any longer.

One thing that I didn't remember about the movie was the use of sound and music to enhance the mood of the moment. Written and directed by Steven Soderbergh, it is cool to see what he was going in 1989 before his popular breakout with Erin Brockovich in 2000.

This is an interesting movie for those that aren't squeamish about characters talking about sex. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 85.

The Score

We watched a recording of The Score. This is one of those films that prove that just because you have a bunch of actors with marvelous reputations together in one film, it doesn't guarantee a great film. In this film, expert safecracker Robert De Niro does jobs found by his fence, Marlon Brando, and is set to do a job with up-and-coming hotshot Edward Norton.

With so many big names, I was expecting more, but was rewarded with an average movie that unlike some of my recent viewings was at least worth the time. Ultimately, I guess the setup of the robbery of the Montreal customs house was too well prepared for me to feel much tension. I also thought that Brando was wasted in an unimportant role that only seemed to be fleshed out so that the filmmakers could justify offering it to someone with his reputation.

I don't think this movie is worth going out of your way to see, but it is worth the time if you happen upon it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 68.

Wicked

We watched a recording of Wicked recently. We decided to record the movie because it stars Julia Stiles, who we find to be an interesting actress.

That is the only reason anyone should watch this movie. If you are a huge fan of hers and want to see everything she has ever been in then you might want to see it. Otherwise, skip it. It was really bad. From a laughably ridiculous script to silly acting, it had it all. And as if that weren't enough, it has a nice little father-daughter incest storyline. How's that for creepy.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 20.

Akira

We watched a recording of Akira. I found this example of Japanese Anime technically amazing, but disappointing in other ways. I have been unable to decide if my disappointment with the movie's plot was due to cultural differences, my lack of familiarity with the norms of the Anime genre, or simply overreach by the movies creators in trying to tell too expansive a story.

Either way, for someone new to Anime this movie will probably be a mixed bag. To those that are into the genre, you really shouldn't care what an outsider like me thinks. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 68.

Moulin Rouge!

We watched a recording of the recent musical Moulin Rouge! I enjoyed the movie in the theater and was glad that I could see it again. It was just as good as I remembered, though I had forgotten how disconcertingly disjointed the beginning of the movie is.

I have to admit that I am probably just as guilty as anyone else of being prone to nostalgia. The only difference is that I can only be nostalgic for things from the last 20-30 years. I think this is one of the reasons I liked the film so much. The integration of songs that I was familiar with into this plot was great. I still chuckle about the use of Madonna's Like a Virgin and I have always liked the Police classic Roxanne.

I liked the performances given by all, but I think my favorite was Ewan McGregor's. Normally, I prefer female singers, but I thought that his voice was just about perfect for the role, no matter how many digital manipulations it may have gone through.

In case you are unfamiliar with this film it is worth noting that this is a rock and roll type musical and only the plot and staging might link it to musicals of the past. The songs and the style of cutting is definitely very MTV inspired. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 87.

Surviving Picasso

We watched a recording of Surviving Picasso off of cable. I thought that this was an interesting and somewhat entertaining movie. Because I have a limited knowledge of art history, I can't tell for sure if there is any accuracy in this movies portrayal of Picasso was at all accurate.

Anthony Hopkins does a wonderful job of portraying him as a brilliant and self-centered man. His relationships with the women who surround him are almost painful in how psychologically abusive they are. On the other hand you are allowed to see the charismatic circumstances that he creates that draw so many people to him.

I found it to be the equal of Pollack. That is on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 77.

Adaptation.

While my parents were visiting, we also went to see Adaptation. Most of our party were thoroughly unimpressed by this movie. Since we saw it, I have read some reviews that talk about it as a brilliant film. I fall down somewhere in between.

I thought the self-referential nature of the script was a very cool. I have always enjoyed complex story structures. Ultimately, though I think that the movies conclusion was just a little too movie insider focused for me to enjoy.

Before seeing the movie, I heard that Nicholas Cage's performance as twin brothers was amazing. I appreciated the performance, but wasn't blown away by it.

If you like weird or quirky movies, you might enjoy it. I was just slightly dissatisfied with the film as a whole. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 80.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

While my parents were visiting, we went to see The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. I thoroughly enjoyed this latest installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I suspect that most of the people reading this will be familiar with the trilogy and the role this middle installment plays within the series, so I won't delve into that aspect of the movie. I thought the acting was excellent, the script was great, the scenery cool and the special effects were amazing.

I was very appreciative of the way the filmmakers were able to introduce a little humor, without destroying the flow of the story.

I can't imagine having any influence on whether or not you would see this movie, but I thought it was great. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 95, the same as the first movie.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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