March 2003 Archives

Our America

I recently watched the film Our America. This film tells the true story of two youths growing up in and around a Chicago housing project. They are chosen to tell the story of their lives on tape which is then assembled into a story for NPR. Some community leaders felt that they had been exploited because the story they told was not very uplifting.

Not long after, the housing project is the scene of a horrific crime perpetrated by two young kids. The boys, who are the focus of the movie, then resume their roles as reporters, to examine the story in a way that outsiders can't. Eventually, they win several prestigious awards for the resulting story.

While the story is fascinating, there is something about the script or the acting that makes the movie come across as not as good as the underlying story. I am still glad I saw it though. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 74.

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

We watched the animated film Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius recently. I found it entertaining, in a lighthearted sort of way. I was disappointed that it had less humor for adult viewer than some other animated films.

The look of the film was interesting throughout. I also admire the film producers’ decision not to try to sell the movie based on big name stars as the voice actors. The cast is full of relatively little known actors, but it doesn't suffer for it. In fact I think that if more recognizable actors had been used, it would have detracted from the story.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 75.


We recently watched the high school set Shakespeare drama O. This retelling of Othello was interesting and well acted, but ultimately robbed of some of its power by the setting.

This is not the first time Shakespeare has had one of his play changed in setting, but I think it is a testament to the power of his plays that they retain their power under adaptation.

If you are looking for a different type of teen drama, I recommend this movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 85.

In the Company of Men

We watched In the Company of Men recently. This movie about a pair of businessmen who choose to simultaneously date and then dump a woman while they are on an extended out of town work assignment, is a study in manipulation. The main characters are at least slightly if not totally reprehensible.

I didn't enjoy watching their mind games and as a result was disappointed by the movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 42.


We recently watched Ali. I thought that it was an interesting movie that couldn't decide what it wanted to say. As a result, it tried to say everything. I think this allows each viewer to draw their own conclusion. The other drawback is the movie seems much to long as it wanders all over the place. Personally, I found the extended musical sequences extremely overindulgent. (A funny thought, what if they had been musical as in Chicago or Moulin Rouge?)

I think that Will Smith does a good job portraying Muhammad Ali. I think many of the other actors also do well. In the end no acting was going to save this plot. If you are interested in Muhammad Ali, I would recommend When We Were Kings.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 66.

Requiem for a Dream

Continuing in my string of drug related movies, we recently watched Requiem for a Dream. After recently watching Sid and Nancy, I wasn't sure I wanted to see another drug movie. This one, however, benefited from the comparison.

By following the stories of four people each of whom has their life spiral out of control as a result of drug use, the movie manages to show broad themes that touch all of the drug users while still showing each as having a unique experience. The movie is a downer though. It makes it look like the downward spiral is almost inevitable.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 85.

Sid and Nancy

We watched a recording of Sid and Nancy. This story of two individuals whose relationship is entwined with the history of the famous punk rock band The Sex Pistols was just barely worth my time.

I am not sure if the makers of this movie meant to show the destructive effects of drug use or if they meant to show that maybe under truly dysfunctional situations, only someone else dysfunctional can be a source of happiness in an otherwise bleak existence.

Not being a big fan of the music, I guess I just wasn't moved. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 66.

Vanilla Sky

I recently watched Vanilla Sky again. I enjoyed it. I am not sure that it is a great film, but I am a sucker for movies that require you to use your judgment to try to separate the subjective reality of the movie from the more objective reality that would be the world in which the action occurs.

This is just such a movie. I also thought that the acting was superb throughout. In particular, I have to admit that Tom Cruise is almost always a more interesting actor than I expect him to be. With that in mind, my only question is what would the movie have been like if the soundtrack had been filled with Beatles tunes, as it was reported the director wanted to use? I would like to have seen that as well, but I think this is one of the best examples of science fiction where the technology is just part of the setting, rather than the reason for the story.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 89.


We watched Swordfish recently. Though the movie was very over-the-top, I thought it was an ok movie once I gave in to the silliness of the plot. The critics were pretty harsh on the plot of secret operatives stealing secret money, where it is unclear who we are supposed to be rooting for.

By ignoring such complexities, I found the movie entertaining. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this movie has a couple of scenes that highlight Halle Berry's very attractive unclothed body.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 69.

Bad Company

I recently watched the older spy movie Bad Company. This isn't the recent one with Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock, but rather the one with Laurence Fishburne and Ellen Barkin.

All in all, it was a forgettable movie, about a bunch of current and former CIA agents busy trying to double-cross one and other in order to gain control of a non-governmental blackmail and bribery outfit.

On my scale of 1-100, I give it a 68.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

We recently watched the travesty that is the How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This was a movie that didn't need to be made. I love the original story and have a strong nostalgic connection the cartoon version, but am at a loss as to why this movie was made other than a belief that with a decent director, it couldn't help but make money.

I think I have also figured out why it didn't get horrible reviews. It is too long. The beginning of the movie I thought was particularly bad. The movie does improve as it progresses. I think that it is long enough that many forget how bad the beginning of the movie is by the time it is over.

Watch it if you must, but on my scale of 1-100, I give it only a 68.

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

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