This is a genuinely hilarious and imaginative film making use of computer generated animation to tell the story of an alternative reality with monsters generating fear in small children to generate power for their society. Witty jokes and play on words as well as slapstick humor makes this a very well executed, fun and entertaining film that, like the Disney films of the 40s and 50s, is unoffensive for children and does not insult the intelligence of adults. Great performances by Billy Crystal, John Goodman and (my favorite) Steve Buscemi. Great stuff and fun for all.
|Shrek||B||Shrek is an enormously success film that also utilizes computer generated animation. However, while the animation is superior, the script, performances, direction and overall veneer produce an inferior film comparted to Monsters, Inc., resulting in a dull and lifeless film. Although Eddie Murphy was energetic and hilarious as Donkey, the movie devolves into the scatological humor that now pervades virtually all comedies that are produced by Hollywood. It is one of the most overrated movies of the year.|
|Ocean's 11||B+||This remake of the original Rat Pack film is an overall good caper film. Enjoyable but not special. Good supporting performances by Elliot Gould and Andy Garcia. The female character portrayed by Julia Roberts is merely tacked on for "star" appeal. Considering I am not a Julia Roberts fan, I could not have cared less.|
|A Beautiful Mind||B||This movie portrays of the life of mathematician John Nash who not only won the Noble Prize but was also a schitzo who made up fanatsy people and thought he was a CIA spy. Excellent performance from Russell Crowe. A lot better than Gladiator. He will probably undeservedly get another Oscar for it.|
|The Closet (Le Placard)||B||French comedy with Gerald Depardieu. A wimp (Daniel Auteuil) pretends to be gay in order to keep from being fired from the condom factory where he works as an accountant. Depardieu is tricked into being nice to him to stop from being labled a homophobe and losing his job in the prevading politically correct environment that apparently infects France as well. The only real funny scenes are those involving Depardieu and his interaction with Auteuil. Other than that, the film is very mundane.
Strangely, there were a bunch of guys in the back of the theater that thought the movie was absolutely hilarious and laughed for the slightest reason.
British movie that follows Gal, a retired 40ish criminal now enjoying his retirement in Spain. His peaceful life is shattered by the arrival of a menacing figure from his past named Don Logan (Ben Kingsley). Don is psychotic and wants Gal to perform one last job. Gal wants nothing to do with it but Don will not take no for an answer and takes Gal's refusal as a personal insult. Don becomes increasingly menacing as the film progresses. Very dark humor, but not as intense as they could have made it.
Outstanding performance from Ben Kingsley. He should win the Oscar for best supporting actor with this performance.
|Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone||B||I listened to this novel as a book-on-tape in the car and found it to be mildly entertaining. The movie follows the book nearly to the letter and therefore was not too surprising.|
|Spriggan||C-||Anime action film that has a special forces genetically enhanced secret agent searching for and trying to sieze an ancient alien relic that can transform the planet and force evolutionary change. The first half of the film is a decent action flick but this quickly falls apart in the second half were a super-intelligent hardwired 10 year-old decides that humans are at an evolutionary end and tries to wipe humanity out for a new and "better" world. This is a very tired and used cliche that was out of date in science fiction in the sixties. Oddly, for a Japanese anime movie, the kid is wearing a Houston Rockets cap.|
|AI-Artifical Intelligence||A-||A Spielberg film based on an orginal idea by the great Stanley Kubrik tells the tale of an newly invented android boy David (Haley Joel Osment). His type are called Mecha, and he is the first of his kind. An android that is to take the place of a child.
David is adopted by a childless couple. Their real son Martin is medical statis awaiting a cure for a terminal disease. Complications later arise when Martin returns home. While the couple treated David like a son, Martin sees him as another toy and torments him. Martin's jealousy forces the torn mother to give David up and send him into the cruel, Mecha-hating world. Wandering through the woods, he meets up with Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) a fully functioning sex-Mecha on the run from the law after being framed for murder. David's dilemma is that he feels the unrequited love for his mother. This sends David on a quest with Joe to find the "blue fairy" that he was told about in the story Pinocchio.
This is a well done modern telling of Pinocchio that is actually the type of film that has become very rare in the last twenty-five years - old fashioned science fiction. No space battles or gun fights, although there are aliens. Many of the scenes are absolutely heart-wretching, especially when David's mother abandons him. Jude Law's portrayal of the sex-mecha Joe is both humorous and on the mark as he can be generally considered to be too good looking to be a real human being. This is a good but flawed film that deserves better credit and a larger audience that it received.
|The Man Who Wasn't There||A-||
A Coen Brothers gilm shot in black and white in the in film noir style. This dark comedy set in the late 40s tells the story of a barber (Billy Bob Thorten) who anonymously blackmails his wife's (Francis MacDormand) boss (James Gandolfini) for money to invest in a new-fangled dry cleaning business. Gandolfini finds out who is blackmailing him and ends up dead in a fight with Thorten. Suprisingly, his wife is arrested for the murder.
Beautiful cinematography that makes Thorten's craggy face tell its own story. A surprisingly good performance by Tony Shalhoub, playing the fast-talking but expensive Sacramento lawyer Thorten hires to defend his wife. Probably worthy of a supporting actor Oscar nomination.
Strangely, neither Coen Brother's favorite actors John Goodman and Steve Buscemi are in this film. Wait, Steve Buscemi wasn't in Oh Brother Where Art Thou? either. Have they had a falling out?
|Meet the Parents||B+||Ben Stiller plays Greg Focker, a male nurse, who is in love with Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo). Greg spends the movie attempting to impress Pam's strict father (Robert De Niro), a former CIA counterintelligence interrogator. Nothing over the weekend goes right and Greg suffers one humiliation after another.
Generally funny but some of the gags were too drawn out. Ben Stiller of course portrays the character as Ben Stiller. Not exacly a stretch for him considering he plays himself in most of his movies. De Niro is great (of course, what to you expect) with his icy stare as he looks through Greg into his very soul.
|Planet of the Apes (2001)||D||Tim Burton's retelling of the novel by some French dude whose name I can't remember is just plain bad. Boring, with cardboard characters and villians. This is one of the worst remakes ever made. Good make-up effects though. Probably worth a technical Oscar.|
|Jurasic Park III||C-||This is the second sequel to what I thought was the single most overrated movie of 1993. People get chased by dinosaurs. Been there and done that. It has little of anything to supply either entertainment or escapism. Avoid.|
|Hearts in Atlantis||B||A single mother and her son have their lives changed with a mysterious stranger played by Anthony Hopkins moves in the apartment upstairs. This film adaptation of the novel by Steven King only takes about a third of the story explored in the novel and deletes the science fiction elements that tied the book to King's Gunslinger series. While it is on its own an average film, it is not particularly rememberable. They should have kept to the original story.|
|Hannibal||B||This sequel to Silence of the Lambs is a shadow of it predecessor. Although there were quite a few cool scenes where notorious serial killer Hannibal (Anthony Hopkins) does his dirty business, including a scene where a man's brain is partially cut out and then cooked and eaten in front of the still conscience victim, the film fails to portray the inherent evil of the character as explored in the original film.|
|The Dish||A-||This film is by the makers of The Castle which is now one of my favorite films of all time. This true story is set in 1969 Australia where the individuals in charge of a radio telescope have been given the job of receiving and retransmitting to the world the television transmissions of Apollo 11's landing of the moon. A funny and good movie well worth your time to seek out.|
|The Mummy Returns||C||The hero fights the Mummy and the Scorpion King played by some professional wrestler called The Rock. Drab formula Hollywood shlock.|
|Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back||B||Kevin Smith revists his trademark characters as they travel to Hollywood to try and stop them from making a movie about their characters. The first half is very funny but this falls apart when they meet up with three female criminals. Lots of vulgarity but you expect that from Kevin Smith and he makes better use of it than most of Hollywood.|
|Waking Life||F||This animated film is similar to the directors first film Slackers in narrative style but fails to bring the same atmosphere to life. It is nothing but shallow and pretentious pseudo-intellectual crap dressed up as 'art'. This is the first movie that I have walked out on in over 15 years. This is another example of critics liking form over substance.|
|Laura Croft: Tomb Raider||C-||This action film is dull and all the action scenes are over-choreographed. What do you expect from a movie made out of video game.|
|In the Mood for Love||B||
Chinese with English subtitles. The story takes place in 1962 Taipai when a two couples move into an apartment next to each other. Soon the husband suspects that his wife is having an affair with the man next door. He and the other man's wife join to try to save their marriages but end up together.
While the story is interesting, the film tends to drag in places and will not be of interest to any but those who appreciate foreign film.
|The Mexican||C-||Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts in a comedy revolving around and antique Mexican revolver. Dull, lifeless and only mildly amusing in places. James Gandolfini plays a mafia hitman who is gay for the sole purpose of having a gay character in the film. How very politically correct.|