May 2003 Archives

To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

We watched a recording of To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday. This story of a widower who talks to his dead wife while walking on the beach, was a pleasant enough forgettable little drama. I don’t really object to it, but am not sure anyone should go out of their way to see it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 67.

Finding Nemo

We went to the theater today to see Finding Nemo. I had a great time and think that almost anyone would enjoy this movie. I will state off the bat that one of the voice actors in this film is Ellen DeGeneres. I normally find her just slightly more annoying than funny. Luckily, she and everyone else in the movie are perfectly cast.

Additionally, the animation geniuses at Pixar, manage to take full advantage of their talents and the stories setting. The animation is superb throughout, but some of the coral reef scenes are simply spectacular. This when combined with a great script and great acting, makes for yet another outstanding film.

The Pixar name on a film is the most consistent indicator of high quality in film today. When you look back at the Pixar output, A Bug’s Life is probably there weakest film, and it is at least very good. I highly recommend this film. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 93.

Taxi Driver

We watched Taxi Driver recently. This film has been labeled great, a classic, etc. by many critics. After finally getting to see it, I found myself underwhelmed. I have no strong criticism of the movie, rather I find myself not terribly interested in it. I suspect that the appreciation many have for the film is based on a thorough knowledge of the context in which it was made. Alas, my context in 2003 made it seem almost as much a period piece as any Merchant and Ivory picture. I am sure much of what gave this film such strong supporters has been incorporated into the film styles and vocabulary of others since its time.

If you plan to see this film, I would recommend doing some reading about what makes it significant before seeing it. Without that background, I was very excited by it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 71.

Sunshine

We watched a recording off of cable of the epic Sunshine. This story that revolves around 3 generations of a Hungarian, Jewish family, was interesting if not as rewarding as I would have hoped. There is a moviemaking stunt at work in the film. Ralph Fiennes stars as three different characters, one of each generation.

Fiennes manages to carry off the three characters, but I am not sure that it was actually necessary. At three hours long, this is a long movie. I found the length necessary for the treatment they were trying to give the story.

Ultimately, the story highlighted the fact that the majority can always decide to make someone an outcast and no amount of fighting or accommodation can alter that fact. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 80.

The One

Well we watched the martial arts movie, The One, recently. I am not sure why I still watch these films. I didn’t find this plot of man who goes to different universes killing other versions of himself to gain “power” to be very interesting. The net result is there is one cool scene where Jet Li fights himself. This is interesting from a technical special effects perspective, but that’s about it.

This was a mix of martial arts and cheap sci-fi premise that did not need to be made. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 38.

Lost and Delirious

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We recently watched Lost and Delirious. It is the story of three girls who are roommates at a boarding school. Each has deep issues that make for troubled existence. When the love affair between two of them is discovered, their different reactions lead to some unfortunate outcomes.

I was disappointed in this film, having heard some positive reviews. In particular, I felt that there were some good ideas behind the film, but the way they were all tied together was poorly executed. For example, after reading my short summary, you would assume that the central characters would be involved in the love affair. You would, however, be wrong. The central character is the third roommate. She of course has her own issues, but I think the film suffers because those who made it couldn’t seem to commit to fully exploring either storyline.

I tend to be very easygoing about accepting people regardless of their sexuality. I find this to be equally true, when it comes to films. This movie highlights a consistent problem I have seen with films that involve a significant gay or lesbian plot. That problem is that perhaps because of some lingering stigma, the better writers and directors seem to shy away from the material. Interestingly, I think television seems to be overcoming this faster than mainstream film. The result is that I find most films with these themes or plots to be earnest, but with a slightly amateurish undertone.

If you are looking for a film with this type of plot, you won’t find much better, but if you are looking for a random film to watch you can. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 66.

Wit

After having a recording of Wit on our ReplayTV for months, we finally sat down and watched this drama about an English professor’s battle with cancer.

This movie is almost perfect. In fact, I am not quite sure what I would change about it even if I could. The script is based on a play by the same name. I have read suggestions that it is better as a play, but I have a hard time imagining it. The adaptation was done by Emma Thompson, who plays the central character, and Mike Nichols, the director. I am a huge fan of Thompson, as both a writer and actress, and think that she may have done the best work of her career in this film. I am sure that had it been released to theaters, she would be in possession of at least one more Oscar.

I will warn you that the movie is unflinching in showing the way a disease like cancer and the medical practices used to fight it can strip away a person’s dignity. In the end, however, as the professor come to grips with her mortality, I found that it revealed that dignity can be simply a thin veneer over the grace that is within all people.

I highly recommend this movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 96.

Scooby-Doo

We recently watched Scooby-Doo. I had heard how bad the movie was supposed to be so I wasn’t expecting much. I was still disappointed. It was sad to see so much set design and special effects work go to such a waste.

If reports are to be believed, then most of the problems stem from the fact that the studio neutered the film in the quest to achieve a kids-friendly rating. The plot was no better or worse than the cartoon at movie length, but the opportunity to have a much funnier and more subversive script after being freed from television standards was wasted.

I have heard that they are going to make a sequel. I hereby vow that I will never pay money to see it. I might catch it if comes by on cable like this one. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 37.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I watched a recording of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I had seen it in the theaters and thought it was great. Upon seeing it again, I think if anything I underestimated it the first time.

I am not normally a fan of martial arts films unless they are ridiculously over the top. Ang Lee is one of my favorite directors and I think he manages to make the martial arts scenes as visually beautiful as a dance sequence while keeping the sponteniety of a fight.

I have seen movies that try to interweave to many plotlines. I have seen movies that fail because the plot isn't interesting enough to justify being the centerpiece of a movie. I think this film strikes the perfect balance.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing scenery that is captured in this film. I didn't really have a mental picture of China in my head before seeing this movie. Now I have some feel for how large and varied a country China is. Much of what this film shows is very beautiful.

As long as you aren't turned off by subtitles, I recommend this movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 93.

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

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