Friday, August 26, 2005

I just know some evil genius has that ray...


Hell, did you see Matthew Broderick in The Stepford Wives? What's happened to him? He used to be Ferris Bueller, but not he looks like someone hit him with the Steve Buscemi Ray and turned it all the way up to Ghost World. I bet if they did Ferris Bueller's Day Off 2 he'd be playing hooky from work in the UPS administration office or from high school counseling or something. How the cool will tumble... Posted by Picasa

Jess and Wonder Woman

I never even thought about Jessica Simpson and Lynda Carter being in the same movie. Wow, that is so cool. She's taking over every one of my childhood crushes; Lynda Carter, Daisy Duke... I don't supposed she'd be interested in playing Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, next?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Bad Wording

Recently, Empire magazine did a list called "50 Five Star Movies You've Never Heard Of." Actually, I've heard of 41 of them. I've only seen 13, but at least two of them are truly bad movies. But thanks for the condescension...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Summer at the Movies 2005: Mostly a Waste of Time

Back at the end of April, I rolled down the Summer 2005 movie preview and gave my own opinions on how these movies look. Well, since it's all died down now and we've seen how this summer sucked worse than a lot of previous summers, here's a few end of the season observations.

Kingdom of Heaven may, in fact, have buried the sword-and-sandal genre for another 20 years. And I think it probably deserves the burial (very little people will be attending the funeral).

Monster-in-Law did better than I predicted; is Jennifer Lopez back? I think a lot of it had to do with Jane Fonda, really.

Madagascar: Apparently, everyone else is sick of the DreamWorks in-joke parade, too.

Batman Begins was, in fact, better than I hoped it would be. Thankfully.

Turns out that Herbie: Fully Loaded was not the last Lindsay Lohan movie I would ever see in a theater–Mean Girls was. I didn’t even get out to see this thing.

Unsurprisingly, you all went to see War of the Worlds. Well done, you predictable automatons.

Do you know anyone that saw Dark Water? I don’t.

I don’t know a single person who went to see Fantastic Four, and I think it’s because no one wants to admit to it. Must have been as disappointing as I figured it would be. Thank you, America, for not pushing this one into the stratosphere. And also for proving that you won’t go to see a movie just because Jessica Alba’s in it, even though Fox banked on you doing just that.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was way, way better than I thought it would be.

Turns out I did love The Devil’s Rejects, even more than House of 1000 Corpses. And God bless Sherri Moon Zombie, and may Matt McGrory rest in peace.

Wow, who could have seen The Island failing so badly? I have to admit, I’m surprised. It actually looked pretty good and had a decent cast.

Well, The Brothers Grimm got pushed from 29 July to 26 August, but at least it finally came out, right? Right?

The trailers for Must Love Dogs proved that John Cusack doesn’t look a day under 59. You might want to tone down the old man black hair dye, sir.

Movies that failed to come out: Doom (8/5), The Pink Panther (first 8/5, then 7/22), Domino (8/19), Zu Warriors (8/19, YET AGAIN!).

Where the hell is Mike Judge’s movie?

The 40 Year-Old Virgin ended up being really, really funny, despite some misgivings I had.

As yet, I’ve only seen The Dukes of Hazzard once (I predicted seven, based on the fact that I saw Mean Girls five times). But when I finally get my school money next week...oh, man.

Roll on the fall parade of Oscar bait, then.

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

PHENOMENA (1984)
A Dario Argento horror film about a young American student (Jennifer Connelly) who can communicate psychically with insects. She attempts to use a corpse-eating beetle to find a killer, who has been murdering young girls from her school. Beautifully shot, of course, with a fascinating score–no one uses music to as much effect as Italian directors (Sergio Leone did, too). One of Argento’s strongest films as far as characterization goes. And one of the best movie chimps ever! **** stars.

THE STENDAHL SYNDROME (1996)
Yet more Argento, this one starring his 21 year-old daughter Asia as a cop who is brutally raped by a madman, and then goes mad herself. An engaging mystery that’s hard to turn away from (despite some of Argento’s most graphic violence, which is really saying a lot). Asia is, of course, wonderful–one of her strongest performances ever, as she goes back and forth between emphasizing her masculine and feminine qualities. A little more brutal than usual, but still classic Argento. ***1/2 stars.

THE HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS (1980)
Basically a terrible attempt to remake American Graffiti as a raunchy sex comedy. The only problems are, it isn’t sexy and it isn’t funny. Negligible nudity, and absolutely zero laughs. What does it say about your film that the most popular guy in town is Tony Danza (who is the leader of a gang who calls themselves the Hollywood Knights), and that the film’s big, fresh "go to" comedy lead is Robert fucking Wuhl? Shitty, shitty movie that some asshole comes along and remakes every couple of years. I do confess, I watched it early one morning because Fran Drescher has a big role in it, and I fell in love with her when I was 13. Not a single fucking star.

KINSEY (2004)
Wow; this movie was terribly underrated when it came out last winter. It felt like Kinsey was completely buried under a wave of Christian anti-knowledge activists, and a lot of chains didn’t show it. But it is an excellent movie, by an extremely talented director (Bill Condon, directing his first film since 1998's wonderful Gods and Monsters). Liam Neeson is always so good and believable, Laura Linney is wonderful, Peter Sarsgaard is excellent support, Timothy Hutton is almost nearly serviceable, and Chris O’Donnell is... well, he’s fucking Chris O’Donnell, isn’t he? Why am I still plagued by that man? Nevertheless, this is a beautiful film, very sensitive in its pursuit of the truth–both of Kinsey, and of the subject matter at hand. Somehow, Bill Condon has managed to take this subject and make it an honest, unflinching expose of just how much America is willing to lie to itself. **** stars.

THE MOTHER (2003)
An interesting film about a woman in her sixties (Anne Reid) who begins having an affair with her daughter’s boyfriend (Daniel Craig). It sounds sordid, but this story takes its time. Anne Reid’s performance slowly develops as she bears the death of her husband with terrible help from her ungrateful, selfish, disinterested son and daughter. When she discovers that her daughter is in love with the handyman–who is married with a child of his own–she agrees to try and talk to him about whether or not he is going to leave his wife. But a relationship develops between the two as she opens up for the first time about who she is and what she wants out of life. It’s quite moving, sometimes beautiful, and if the third act is a tad predictable, the ending is quite touching. From Roger Michell, who directed the surprisingly excellent Changing Lanes, another study of the surprises of human nature. For Anne Reid’s performance alone, this movie rates ***1/2 stars.

DANGEROUS LIAISONS 1960 (1960)
As the title implies, it’s Dangerous Liaisons set and made in 1960 (by Roger Vadim, no less). It shouldn’t really be surprising that this story works in almost any time period–the aristocracy has not changed much since pre-Revolution France; in fact, the upper classes seem to work hard to maintain their easy lives above the peasantry. Some interesting changes are made to this version: Mertuiel and Valmont are married, Cecile is Valmont’s cousin, and Tourvel has a child. But the story remains the same tragic yet delicious combination of love, romance, and glorious manipulation. Jeanne Moreau is excellent as Madame de Mertuiel, one of my favorite characters in all of literature, and Annette Vadim is quite good (and extremely beautiful) as Marianne Tourvel. **** stars.

THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN (2005)
When did Steve Carrel get so damn good? One of the best character-driven comedies I’ve seen in years, managing to be hilarious without being cruel to its central character (which would have been very easy, but very lame). A sweet movie, but extremely funny. **** stars.

GHOSTS, ITALIAN STYLE (1969)
A very boring Italian movie about how beautiful Sophia Loren is. That’s about 90% of the movies she’s in–look, isn’t she very beautiful and wonderful? Well, yes, but what about something engaging to watch? She marries an opera singer in this one, then they go broke and become caretakers at a house that’s supposed to be haunted. Meanwhile, there’s another man who loves Sophia, and he keeps stalking around her house, leading her husband to believe this man is really the ghost of the manor. Could have been funny, but its stunningly boring. * star, though it would be none if any less of an actress were in it.

Please note that Film Week has been indefinitely moved to Wednesdays in order to better fit my new semester schedule (Tuesday and Thursday, 8-5).

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Our Next Enemy?


This is President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a country which supplies America with about 15% of its oil. He's also a staunch ally of Cuba, the tiny little nation that Americans still idiotically believe could destroy us all one day. According to Pat Robertson, he's turning Venezuela into a haven for "communism and Muslim extremism," and says he should be assassinated. That's what I love about Jesus enthusiasts; they never judge. Or Jesus didn't. Or something. Anyway, Chavez has accused the US in the past of attempting to topple his regime, but he was actually elected by his people, and if we support democracy, would we really just kill the guy? I mean, this is America: we'd never arbitrarily start a war against the leader of an oil-producing nation for absolutely no reason, would we? I mean, you know, again? Posted by Picasa