August 2003 Archives

Kissing Jessica Stein

I watched a recording of Kissing Jessica Stein. We had previously seen it in the theater and I was excited to get to see it again. The movie tells the story of a nice, funny, attractive single woman, who in the midst of a dating slump where she can’t seem to meet the right guy, starts a relationship with another woman. The movie is both funny and sweet in its depiction of someone who is looking for someone they can form a deep relationship with. The fact that the title character falls for another woman even though she is not really gay, is an interesting twist on the romantic comedy formula. The struggles that she faces as people notice that she seems to be very happy from being in a relationship, without revealing that it is a gay one is the source of much of the dramatic tension for the movie. I won’t give away how the movie ends, but I thought that it was ultimately realistic. If you enjoy a romantic comedy and don’t mind the lesbian twist this film takes, I think you will thoroughly enjoy it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 86.

Van Wilder

We watched a recording of Van Wilder. Ryan Reynolds, the star, was previously on a sitcom, Two guys, a girl and a pizza place. I used to enjoy that show, so I naturally took to him playing basically the same character. This time rather than being a cool slacker college grad, he plays a cool slacker who has made being cool in college his goal in life, who is confronted by the fact that his father is no longer willing to pay his tuition.

I thought that the result was a mildly entertain slice of can’t college be cool. If you think you know what you are in for, you won’t be disappointed if you watch this movie when it happens to be on, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone making any effort to get to see it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 70.

Excess Baggage

We watched a recording of Excess Baggage. Starring Alicia Silverstone as rich girl desperate for her father’s attention and Benicio Del Toro as a car thief who steals the car she has hidden herself in while faking a kidnapping for that attention, the movie is a fun if not terribly deep. Naturally stealing a car, but getting a teenage girl in the process destroys his simple criminal life.

Little in the movie ended up being surprising, but I thought that it was a entertaining enough romp for me not to regret having watched it. When it was released, I confused this with another rich daughter kidnapped movie, A Life Less Ordinary. That is one of my favorite movies, but this one is all right if judged on its own merits. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 68.

The Banger Sisters

We watched a recording of The Banger Sisters off of cable. Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon star as a pair of former groupies. Sarandon’s character has grown into respectable middle age, while Hawn’s character is still trying to maintain the same attitude and outlook of their younger selves. When she needs some help, she seeks out Sarandon’s character.

Hi-jinks ensue as her presence threatens to destroy the carefully built lifestyle of her friend. In the end I found it to be almost an indulgent baby boomer struggle with a typical life story of one who would barely recognize their previous self and being undecided if they are happy about it.

The movie did have one scene I found really funny involving a set of picture that Sarandon had kept from their earlier life. In the end I found the movie wrapped things up a little too neatly for my taste. So on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 68.


I watched a recording of the mountain climbing movie K2. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, but never been an extreme sportsman or anything like it. I wonder in retrospect how that changed my perspective on the movie.

The movie tells the story of two lifelong friends who get a chance to climb K2, one of the world’s tallest and perhaps hardest mountains. I found it interesting to see how far people will go to test and overcome their limitations. I had a hard time relating to those who were willing to risk their lives to do so. That said for a non-climber such as me this was an interesting and exciting insight into the mountain climbing experience. The relationships and the drama that they build were also reasonably well done.

As long as you are interested in a movie based on mountain climbing, I doubt you could do much better. For that reason, I rate it a 74 on my scale of 1-100.

Hollywood Ending

With a little trepidation we decided to watch a recording of Hollywood Ending. I have always wanted to enjoy Woody Allen movies more than I do. With the tabliodization of his life in the last 10 years, I have found it even easier to dislike them.

As a result I expected to agree with the reviews that described this as a new entry in a growing line of dreck. Instead, I was surprised to find it amusing. I wouldn’t describe it as a great movie, but once I gave myself over to the premise that a psychosomatically blind director could fake his way through the creation of a film, I enjoyed myself.

As a result I rate it a 76 on my scale of 1-100.

Snow Dogs

Having some time to kill, we watched a recording of Snow Dogs. I guess I can say that it might appeal to someone looking for a successor to the low-brow Disney comedies of the 70s. There isn’t much to offend in this movie, but I found it too silly to really enjoy. I think most people will find better things to do with their time than watch this. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an innocuous 40.


We watched Rollerball off of cable and I want that portion of my life back. Other reviews suggested that the movie had a hard time deciding whether to be incoherent, illogical or ridiculous. I believe that it succeeds in being almost equal parts of each. The worst part of the film is that I thought that it might at least be all right as an action movie, but that is where the incoherence comes in to play. I wanted to get some feel for the game of rollerball, but instead I was shown just enough to see why you would have to kill participants for anyone to care.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate this stinker a 25.

Life as a House

We watched Life as a House off of cable. It is a story of a man who after being fired from his job and learning that he has a terminal illness decides to make peace with his son while finally building the house that he has always imagined having on a spectacular piece of oceanfront land. It starred Kevin Kline, whose work I generally enjoy, and Hayden Christensen of Attack of the Clones fame.

While it had its satisfying moments, I think that it tried to pack too many dramatic elements into the story and as a result it comes across as a little too melodramatic for my taste. As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 69.

Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down was recorded off cable a while ago, and we finally got around to watching it. I am not sure how to summarize my thoughts about this movie, without mentioning that I saw it through the lens of current events in Iraq. That said, I don’t try to get overtly political on this blog. I save it for my politics blog.

I thought the movie was more of an action film, than I prefer from my war movies. It definitely shows some of the true heroism of the American soldiers fighting in Somalia. It also shows some of the horrors of war faced by those who face an enemy with such a divergent value system or set of motivations.

Unfortunately, I think that the entire question of why the United States was fighting in Somalia and whether it justified the bloodshed on both sides is a complex set of questions which this movie chooses to avoid examining them very closely. As a result, I see this film mostly as another example of how at the end of the day much of the fighting any foot soldier does is about himself and his buddies more so than any higher cause.

This film was good for what it was, but wasn’t what I was looking for. As a result, I rate a 73 on my scale of 1-100.

Kiss of the Dragon

We recently watched a recording of Kiss of the Dragon. As is often the case, my perception of the movie was affected by the reviews I had heard before seeing the movie. At its core this is a Jet Li action movie. The reviews I had heard suggested that it was not a good movie. I guess I can concur with that judgment, but I thought that it would be a bad movie. This wasn’t the case. If anything watching this movie was something like watching a very average episode of a sitcom that I like. That’s not to say that it was a comedy, rather I meant that I knew the genre of film I was watching, it had a few enjoyable scenes that were interesting, funny or surprising, but in the end wasn’t one that I would recommend to others or go out of my way to see again.

As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 64.

Wild Iris

We recently watched Wild Iris, which we had recorded off of cable. I thought that the movie starring Gena Rowlands and Laura Linney as a mother and daughter that live together with Linney’s son and run a wedding dress business from the house, was an overwrought bit of melodrama.

The movie did have a few scenes that I enjoyed, but the drama of the mother daughter relationship and each of their personal problems was a bit much for me. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 41.


We watched the made for HBO movie Normal. It is the story of what a family goes through when the husband played by Tom Wilkinson decides that after many years of marriage and two children, one grown, one a teenager, he needs to undergo a sex change to be able to embrace his true self.

It is fascinating to watch as he deals with a variety of reactions from those around him. Most have a hard time accepting that his feelings about them have not changed, though he understands how their feelings about him do change. The movie deals well with questions of how this change affects his sexuality and the views of religion on such a choice.

I think the movie is more interesting because his wife decides to stay with him and support him, though she can not fully understand how he could truly need to go through this. One of the interesting parts of the relationship is how they interact leading up to Thanksgiving dinner. It is interesting because it brings out questions about gender roles versus traditional family roles.

Finally, there is one scene involving a potential suicide that I found to be an overwhelmingly powerful expression of love, that I might recommend the movie for it alone. Surprisingly compelling, I think anyone not turned off by the basic plot would enjoy seeing the movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 84.

The Snapper

After long wanting to see it, I recently watched The Snapper with Kathy. We managed to catch it when it was being shown on cable. As I understand it this movie is part of a trilogy of sorts along with The Van and The Commitments. Each gives a glimpse of life in Ireland.

The Snapper tells the story of a young woman, who gets pregnant. The drama, however, is generated by her unwillingness to name the baby’s father. It is very well written and acted. I found it a story of courage, about someone who is willing to do what she thinks is right, even in the face of significant social pressure. Of course when the baby’s likely father is identified, suddenly there are a lot of people who probably wish the information had remained a secret.

I also enjoyed seeing the strength a family can give when it recognizes the value of giving that support.

Now I think The Commitments is more enjoyable, probably because of the musical themes in it, I found this to be a very good movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 79.


We watched the David Mamet scripted movie Heist. I enjoyed it quite a bit. The film stars Gene Hackman as the leader of a loosely affiliated group of professional thieves, who is looking to retire. Others are trying to rope him into at least one more big job.

The film has most of the pluses and minuses of a Mamet script. The dialogue is readily recognizable as his style. The movie is also well within the traditional plot of this sort of film with surprising changes of direction and potential and real double-crosses. A good cast does a fine job throughout.

If you are looking for a good movie and like either Mamet or the genre, I am sure you would like this movie. I doubt you will love it however. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 78.

Daddy and Them

We watched the made for cable movie Daddy and Them recently. It was an interesting character study of a very dysfunctional southern family.

I thought it did a good job of first tricking me into embracing a stereotypical view of “white trash” and then moving around to where I could see the inherent commonality of everyone as they struggle to overcome the obstacles in their lives. Billy Bob Thornton does a great job as both writer and actor in the movie.

I guess it just shows how shallow I can be that I got more enjoyment out of the funny part of the story. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 76.

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

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