June 2003 Archives

The Cat's Meow

We recently watched a cable recording of The Cat's Meow. I was mildly disappointed by this 1920s period piece.

Telling the story of a murder on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht, while on a cruise with several notables of the era including Hearst and Charlie Chaplin, I was somehow expecting more than this straight forward tale of jealousy, manipulation and mistaken identity. In particular, I expected something more interesting from Kirsten Dunst, an actress I find to normally be very good and compelling.

As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate this movie a 69.

Ghost World

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Ghost World. This movie derived from a graphic novel of the same name tells of the changes two girls go through as they try to learn their place in the world following high school graduation.

The girls’ friendship is tested as they each find different ways of coping with a world that they are forced to endure. As outsiders by nature, the transition into adulthood is not easy, but the storyline and the interpersonal dynamics they go through feel very realistic and authentic.

There is also a very interesting storyline involving one of the girls developing a friendship with a man who as an old record collector has created his own life as an outsider and seeks to express both the upside and the downside of such a life.

This movie has received a great deal of praise, and I thought that it lived up to my heightened expectations. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 87.

Donnie Darko

We recently watched the weird film Donnie Darko. Kathy seemed to find it okay, but I really liked it.

Now I want to warn everybody, this probably isn’t everyone. It is strange. Not every movie has an airplane engine crash into a house and a kid with visions of some weird deranged looking rabbit. This one does though.

I can’t really describe the movie much more without giving away key parts of the plot, but I highly recommend this if you are looking for a strange movie which ends with a really intriguing outcome that bends the whole movie back on itself.

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

True Believer

We recently watched the movie True Believer off of cable. This movie of the noble crusading lawyer, who is bent on freeing a man wrongly convicted of murder, starred James Woods and Robert Downey Jr.

I found the movie entertaining while watching it, but reflecting on the movie, I feel like it was filled with clichés. The movie is old enough that maybe some of the clichés were original when the movie was made. If so subsequent movies have driven the ideas of the liberal who is redeemed when he starts fighting for the cause again, the young idealist who insists on joining in the crusade, or the prosecutor who will put the ends before the means no matter who get hurt right into the ground.

Either way, I am not sure that many will be overwhelmed by how great a movie this is, but most won’t be completely bored. On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a 73.

Murder by Numbers

We watched the Sandra Bullock flick Murder by Numbers off of cable recently. The movie stars Bullock as a homicide investigator with a dark past who works to solve a murder that was potentially committed by a couple of high school kids, out to prove they are smarter than the cops.

I found this story to be not terribly compelling or interesting. It wasn’t a bad movie, simply a filler type movie. I think Bullock is more suited to comedy than action drama like this.

If you watch this movie with low expectations, it will seem fine, but don’t get you hopes up too high. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 72.

Mad About Mambo

We watched a recording of Mad About Mambo recently. I approached this movie expecting it to be set in South America. Instead it was set in Ireland. Wow, that makes a difference.

The story of a teenager who dreams of becoming a football (soccer) player and in the course of the movie becomes involved with a girl who loves dancing. The film is cute and funny and very well done. The issues between the couple include class differences, religious differences and difference in aspirations, but it ends up being very fun to watch all of the action unfold.

The dancing is also fun. I have read many dancing purists complaining that they are not really dancing a mambo, but if you are as uninitiated into the specifics of dance as me, this is not an important factor in evaluating the movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 83.

Hollywood Homicide

While my parents were visiting, we went to seeHollywood Homicide with them. I enjoyed this offbeat little cop buddy flick. I think many people had too high of expectations for it, being a ‘big’ summer movie, but I found the movie funny and the characters charming.

From the previews, I thought the two leads, Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett, were going to be stuck together against their will with Ford’s character forced to deal with a rookie cop. Instead, they were just two guys that had been working together for a while, who have some funny things happen in the course of working a homicide investigation. In particular there is one chase seen in a waterside neighborhood that I found particularly amusing. I also enjoyed the fact that each of the characters was confronted by the need to balance their professional lives with the rest of the things going on in their life.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a great movie, but I found it pleasant enough not to regret going to see it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 75.

Soul Survivors

We watched Soul Survivors off cable recently. This story of a college student and the paranormal experiences she has after a car crash where her boyfriend is killed was a ridiculous waste of time.

Destined to be rapidly forgotten, I rate this a 33, on my scale of 1-100.

The Affair of the Necklace

We recently watched the pre-French Revolution period piece, The Affair of the Necklace. I’m not sure why I had high expectations for this film, but I came away from my viewing disappointed. The costumes and sets were fine. The plot wasn’t bad. The acting was good if not great. Ultimately, the movie was a bit of a let down.

The story revolves around a woman whose parents died as a result of their support for the common folk who were questioning the reign of France’s aristocrats, leaving her orphaned as a child. As a young lady she attempts to retrieve her station in life. When these efforts are rebuffed, she decides to get involved in a scheme to blackmail her way to fortune.

The film claims the story is based on real events. The film makes it seem as if these ridiculously minor events were responsible for the French Revolution, but at most they most likely were only a symptom of the breakdown of aristocratic society.

My final disappointment with the film was that I was more interested in the portrayal of Marie Antoinette, than of any of the main characters. I guess that leads to the conclusion that the creators of the film decided to focus on the wrong story.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a 65.

The Time Machine

We recently watched the sci-fi movie, The Time Machine. I had heard lukewarm reviews at best and was not disappointed by the accuracy of those reviews. Based on the classic science fiction novel, this film seemed to have all of the sophistication of 1950s sci-fi with 1990s special effects.

The one effect that I found very cool was the geological changes that you got to see as the protagonist traveled rapidly through time. Unfortunately, this sequence was in the preview and the film didn’t show anything any better.

Like all films whose best sequence is shown in a preview, no one needs to see the movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 37.

From Hell

We watched the Jack the Ripper film, From Hell, off of cable recently. Based on a graphic novel (comic book) about the Jack the Ripper story, the look of the film was fairly striking. Beyond that I can’t recommend a great deal about the movie.

By focusing on a detective who is trying to find the killer and his relationship with a prostitute that is soon a target of the killer, the film is able to make the movie into something of a mystery. In the end though, I found it to be a sort of cross between a period piece and a slasher movie, with most of the weaknesses of each genre and few of their strengths.

If you are looking for a diverting serial killer movie, this might be right up your alley, but on my scale of 1-100, I rate it simply a 69.


We just watched a recording of the Woody Allen film Celebrity. As is typical of most of Allen's work in the 90's this wasn't great. The only redeeming feature of the film is that it stars Kenneth Branagh. Branagh is one on my favorite actors. Sadly this film is so heavy-handed that it crushes the ability of several fine actors.

Woody Allen's take on celebrity, how it is obtained, its value, and what people will do to maintain it, isn't very insightful. I think that you could learn as much about celebrity by examining Allen's own history.

I guess I have seen worse movies, but unless you are a completist for Allen films or the acting of any of the actors, there are many other movies more deserving of your time. On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a 50.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

We watched a recording of the animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.

I found it to be a passable kids movie. The animation was nice. The story was all right, but not the sort of thing to really grab the interest of an adult. The movie revolves around a wild horse that through a series of misadventures is captured and used by the settling white man on the western frontier. He helps an Indian who has been captured by the US Army to escape. He is then exposed to the Indians' more harmonious interactions with nature.

I was a little put off by the clear agenda that clearly made bad guys out of the European descended settlers of the West, but wasn't surprised. On the whole, this was an average movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 63.

Bubble Boy

We recently watched Bubble Boy. This 'comedy' about a boy raised in a bubble and his quest in a portable bubble to stop the wedding of the girl he loves, was a ridiculous little movie.

Sadly lacking in real humor, there were many times that I thought to myself,"Sure you are watching this off cable. It's not costing you anything.", but ultimately it was costing me my time. For this I am a little sad.

It did generate a few chuckles so I won't call it horrible, but I warn you to approach with very low expectations. Only then, might you have a chance at not being disappointed. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 34.

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

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