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Rating History

The War of the Worlds
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Wow I'm taking longer and longer breaks from this thing. It's not that I haven't had the time to update it more often, just not the motivation. But I'm plenty awake, I'm not watching anything and none of my friends are online so I figure I'll give the 3 people who read this thing a little update on my last month.

Seems like I ended the last entry with news that I was going to meet a friend of mine who I'd originally met online and talked to a lot on the phone but never seen in person. Well we did meet, it went alright. We had lunch at Quiznos and watched Bewitched (her choice), talked for a while then went our separate ways. It was fun and a bit wierd, meeting somebody after hearing that voice on the phone so many times. We were meeting as friends and just seeing if it would lead anywhere and I don't believe it will. As vain and shallow as I might sound saying this, I'm just not attracted to her. We have tons in common and can talk for long periods of time but there's just nothing other than that which attracts me to her and as much as people like to say looks don't matter, I think it's important that one be attracted at least a little bit to the person they're with, especially if that person could end up being the one you have to look at every day for the rest of your life. You don't want it to look at that person and wish they looked different or that they were better in this area or whatever. Now that being said, I think we can still be great friends and still talk a lot, I mean if somebody is a friend then I could care less what they look like, if it's someone I might date then it's different. So nothing's changed except any possible romantic interest I may have had in her isn't there now.

Last week I went to Shauna's wedding shower, and yes it was kind of weird. When i told some friends I was going to my ex's shower they all asked if that was weird. Anyways, me and my mom both went, we got her a towel, some washclothes and a nice clock, which will be handy because she's terrible at keeping track of time. I got told by a few adults (my dad included) that it was a very brave thing showing up there and being a friend like that. Dad said it's not something he could have ever done if it were him. I am over her now, have been for 4 months, but it was still odd in a way seeing her and Adam there on the couch opening those gifts that everyone had brought them, most of those in attendance being people from church. The thing is, Adam has only attended our church since spring of last year, and Shauna started going 3 and a half years ago because she was dating me at the time. And not being the most outgoing people they still aren't well known in the church and neither has any family that goes there, which makes them unique among most of the couples who have married in our church within the past few years. Add on the fact that they have dated for less than 8 months (about 1/3 as long as we did) and you get the idea that some people in church still see her and associate her more with me than with Adam, so it's still strange to see them here less than a month from their wedding day. And to think that Shauna was so confident when we broke up that I'd be the first one to get together with somebody else.
15 months later she's gone on at least one date with 4 different guys and is about to be married to the last one, while I've had the sad Regan thing and an internet romance gone wrong with Ontario girl, who suddenly began ignoring me 2 months ago and has never responded to calls or emails asking for an explanation why, though my educated guess is she found a boyfriend and decided it would be better to ignore me than to tell me and hurt my feelings. Whatever. In any case I'm no closer to finding somebody than I was the day my relationship with Shauna ended.

I still have not found a job, 7 months after graduating college. I've applied at a number of places, a few of them for jobs that seemed tailor-made for me and the skills I have, but no such luck so far. Next week I'll be meeting with a group that helps people market their resumes to companies hiring for the types of jobs they want. Perhaps that'll lead somewhere, certainly can't hurt.

While not finding any real jobs I have been doing a bit of babysitting the past few weeks. It's 2 boys, one just turned 6 and the other is almost 9. The only good thing about it is that they spend most of their time either chasing each other around or playing various games on their Gamecube. So I'll often get to retire to the living room and catch some ESPN or whatever, which I did today. The 6 year old is really emotional and sensitive. He's deathly afraid of being by himself, and I mean in a room by himself, even if he knows his big brother is in the next room or that I'm on the other side of his wall in the living room. So he'll demand that I stay with him in his room while he plays his games and he gets mad if I want to go do something else. I mean he went to the kitchen to get a snack while I was in the living room, which you have to walk through to get to the kitchen. While going back to his room, he made me walk with him around the corner to his room, I mean he could take 4 steps and he'd be back in his own room but he had me watch him as he walked what couldn't have been more than 10 feet. And when he has to go use the potty, he has me stand outside the door and wait for him, just so he'll know somebody is nearby and he's not alone. I hope it's something he grows out of, sounds like something a 4 year old might do, not a kid going into 1st grade. I certainly don't remember being anything like that when I was that age. So it's not the most fun thing watching them, and their mom only pays me $4 an hour for it, but it's money and it's more than I'd make sitting at home.

Now for the movies. As I said, I watched Bewitched with my friend, and I actually enjoyed it, which I didn't expect at all. In fact it's the first Will Ferrell film that I've liked. Old School bored me and Elf just got sillier as it went along. And make no mistake about it, Bewitched is a Will Ferrell vehicle all the way. Michael Caine makes a welcome appearance and Nicole Kidman does alright, but it's Will Ferrell's show and I thought he was great in it. I mean in the movie, the plot is supposed to be that in remaking Bewitched, it's a sort of career resuscitation move for Ferrell's character and it's so focused on him that Kidman and all the other actors on the show are given little to do. And as it turns out the whole movie is like that. Steve Carell shows up but didn't do much for me, David Alan Grier and Stephen Colbert both have parts but are given precisely nothing to do with their characters. And about halfway through the movie I realized Kidman probably hadn't said anything in several minutes. It's getting savaged on RT with users and critics, but I liked it and I'm glad I saw it.

My sister and her boyfriend rented National Treasure, which was quite fun, while being implausible every step of the way. I find movies of that type fascinating where they follow vague clue after vague clue, but some parts just made me laugh out loud at their rediculousness. Namely, the part where there's a clue involving the word "Stow", a word that's near the crack of the Liberty Bell. And the bad guys having absolutely no idea what the significance of "Stow" do a google search and the top result is, wouldn't you know it, the liberty bell. I seriously doubt that would even be on the first 10,000 results if that's all you searched for. I also got a kick out of the whole gala at the National Archives, during which the Declaration of Independence is stolen. I mean there's a freaking shootout going on right in front of the building, while some supposedly important people are inside. So I guess we've learned that 1. there are no security guards, secret service agents or police anywhere near the National Archives during important events staged there 2. During these important events, there's not only no security but you can easily park a surveillance van right across the street from it, and 3. it's a good thing Washington D.C. outlawed handguns, otherwise somebody might have actually been shot in that scene ;) But it was a fun movie nonetheless.

Watched Fantastic Four with a friend on opening day. Wasn't quite Daredevil bad, but it was boring. Since the comic has been around so long there has to be an interesting story in there somewhere, but not in this film. The characters are boring and change their motivations purely at the scripts convenience (see: The Thing turning on Mr. Fantastic), the villain is very uninteresting and cartoonish and just starts offing people for no apparent reason as soon as he discovers his powers. Basically, the more I think about it the more dumb I think it was. There were a few cool effects in it and some nice scenes toward the beginning, but as Roger Ebert said, it should be ashamed to even be showing in the same theaters as Batman Begins.

And last but not least, I've watched War of the Worlds twice. I'd like to rate it higher than I do, but 2 things prevent me from doing so. The stupid way the alien's heat ray just zig zags around Tom Cruise and hits everybody but him, reminding us that he's the hero and therefore can't die, and the film's final scene which was a complete cop out. Other than that I loved it. The tension is thick, and there's a genuine sense of dread and of despair as we see aliens just wiping us off the face of the Earth, and that's not something that Independence Day or any other movie of this type that I've seen pulled off. I truly think Tom Cruise gives one of the best performances of his career here, juggling all kinds of emotions as the movie progresses and as the attackers come closer and closer to him and his children. Dakota Fanning seems much more grown up than she did in Man on Fire, both as a person and as an actress. I was glad when the movie was over because it gave me a chance to catch my breath. Yes it was that kind of film. And it was a very good one at that. It's a marked departure for Spielberg I think. His movies always have their funny lines here and there, but in this one, the tone is just so dour and full of dread that the few lines clearly meant to be funny get few if any laughs after the attacks start and for the rest of the movie. It's as if Spielberg followed up The Terminal, possibly the most lighthearted film of his career, with one that's nearly humorless for the final 3/4. Now how he goes from this onto his next film, about Israel's response to the 1972 terrorist attacks on the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, will be very interesting to watch, as is most of what Spielberg does anyway.

Well that's all for this entry, long I know, but I've been gone a month so you get a month's worth of observations.

Smart People
Smart People (2008)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I watched the movie [I]Smart People[/I] this afternoon, mainly because I was at a mall and had some time to kill before I had to be anywhere. I had seen [url=]the movie's trailer[/url] online and thought it seemed interesting, but as it turns out, the trailer tells you almost all you need to know about the movie, and most of the lines featured in the trailer are cut and edited together completely absent of context, and a few of them were put together from different lines that take place in completely different scenes.

I've never walked out of a movie before, but I seriously had thoughts of doing so by the time this movie was 20 minutes old. I didn't mainly because I'd already paid my $8.00, and because I figured it just had to get good (or at the very least, half-decent) sooner or later with a cast like the one it had. I wish I had walked out though because I hated it from beginning to end and looked at my watch probably every 10 minutes, hoping it would be over sooner than later. It was badly written, the scenes were completely disjointed, and there wasn't a single scene that rang true. The characters were all one-dimensional and the actors playing them could have done so in their sleep. Because they're so undeveloped, they do impulsive things just because the script says they must, not because there's any reason to believe their characters would actually do those things (e.g. a scene where two characters just out of nowhere decide to smoke pot, then munch on chips while making fun of Spanish soap operas on TV). Even the best scenes feel contrived in some way, and the movie avoids anything resembling subtlety, feeling the need to spell out every symbolic character trait and theme for the audience.

Dennis Quaid plays a widower college English professor in what may be the most phoned-in performance of his career. None of his students or colleagues seem to like him, and he seems to have only a distant relationship with his two kids, a son who is an art student at the college Quaid's character teaches at, and a daughter (played by [I]Juno[/I]'s Ellen Page) who is trying to finish high school and get into Stanford. Early on, Quaid's ne'er-do-well brother (played by Thomas Hayden Church) shows up and disrupts Quaid's life, while bonding with his son and trying to get the daughter to have some fun with herself. We know the two brothers aren't the best of friends because Quaid's character pointedly refers to Church as his "adopted brother". Page mentions that she is active in the Young Republicans, and we know she must be a Republican because she has an obvious picture of Ronald Reagan on a wall in her room and wears turtleneck sweaters in nearly every scene of the movie, which makes me wonder if the writer has ever met a Republican. Again, no subtlety to be found here.

Quaid has a habit of parking his car across two spots, which gets it towed in one scene. He jumps a fence at the impound to get his briefcase out of his car, and ends up having a seizure and is taken to the hospital, where he is treated by a doctor (Sarah Jessica Parker) who was formerly one of his students. He doesn't remember her of course, and he seems to never remember even his most recent students, but another doctor points out to him that she was is a former student. He asks her out and after a couple of awkward dates, they begin to fall for each other, though the movie doesn't give any reason why the doctor would ever fall for an unfriendly, self-absorbed older man like Quaid, other than because the script says they must. It's the most unconvincing romance subplot I've seen in a long time. Meanwhile Page objects to the doctor dating her dad, for reasons that also aren't explained. She gets her acceptance letter from Stanford but doesn't tell her dad about it until months later, for reasons that also aren't explained.

It's almost as if the writer decided to write a script that brought together characters from his favorite movies. Quaid's character is a lot like the one he played in [I]In Good Company[/I], though he's more of a curmudgeon and much less developed. Page plays a character kind of similar to her title character in[I] Juno[/I], and she's prettier here, but makes even dumber decisions and ultimately she's only about 1/4 as interesting as she was in that movie, which was a movie I didn't care for anyways. Church's character is essentially a more slovenly version of his [I]Sideways[/I] character. Sarah Jessica Parker takes on a role as vanilla and lazy as anything she's ever done. And Ashton Holmes (Viggo Mortensen's son in [I]A History of Violence[/I]), playing Quaid's son, brings next-to-nothing to a part where he's given very little to do anyway.

The movie is boring, the characters undeveloped and forgettable, the action completely driven by the script, and the dialogue seemingly written by someone who has never come across any actual "smart people" (or any people with a functioning brain, for that matter) in his life. Even while watching it, I tried to think of the last time I saw a movie this bad in a theater, and couldn't remember the last one. [I]Battlefield: Earth[/I] was legendarily bad, but even that didn't make me want to walk out as much as [I]Smart People[/I] did. The worst movies I saw in 2007 were guilty of being too clever by half ([I]Juno[/I]), being too in love with itself ([I]Juno[/I] again), having a ludicrous plot ([I]National Treasure: Book of Secrets[/I]), having a story seemingly made up as the movie went along ([I]Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End[/I]), and being vulgar, mean-spirited and tasteless ([I]The Heartbreak Kid[/I]). That being said, all of them were entertaining at least in parts and none was a complete failure on the scale that [I]Smart People[/I] was. So don't be fooled by the ads or by any love you may have had for Ellen Page in [I]Juno[/I], and avoid [I]Smart People[/I] at all costs. You'll be glad you did.

The Lookout
The Lookout (2007)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I haven?t watched as many movies this year as in years past and also haven?t kept up as much with all of the Oscar buzz that follows certain films around this time of year. I have seen a handful of nominated films but 2007 was a year where I liked a lot of movies but loved only 2 or 3, so I don?t have any really strong feelings for this year?s batch of nominees, for the most part anyway.

Being a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson?s previous directorial efforts I wanted to see There Will Be Blood but didn?t get the chance to when it opened. Now that it?s been nominated for 8 Oscars I?m sure it will expand to more screens this weekend. Michael Clayton should be on DVD by now and I?ve wanted to see that since it was released to theaters but, again, never got around to it. I have seen Atonement, Juno, and No Country for Old Men, the other 3 films that received nominations for Best Picture. No Country for Old Men is the best of those three, easily. Atonement was an interesting enough movie but I felt very little connection with any of the characters, and Juno just rubbed me the wrong way for some reason and I think it?s the year?s most overrated film.

In the acting categories I have seen only 5 nominated performances. The most baffling choice of these was Ruby Dee?s nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in American Gangster, when as far as I can remember she only appeared in 3 scenes, at most, and only one of them was particularly memorable. The only acting nomination for Atonement was a Supporting Actress nod for 13 year old Saoirse Ronan, who gave the best performance in the movie, in my opinion. Thankfully, the Academy showed some sense in not nominating the movie?s leads Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, who were both good but hardly award-worthy. But I do still wonder, why Ruby Dee? If they were going to nominate somebody who was good but barely appeared in the movie that put them up for consideration, then why didn?t they nominate Vanessa Redgrave for her great work in Atonement?s final scene? Or the twice-previously-nominated Brenda Blethyn, who only appeared in 2 scenes of Atonement but played a mother just as strongly and emotionally as Ruby Dee did?

I was also surprised by Cate Blanchett getting her second Best Actress (she has also been nominated 3 times for Best Supporting Actress, winning once) nod for playing the same character that got her her first one 9 years ago, Queen Elizabeth, even though the sequel wasn?t nearly as well received as the original film was.

Johnny Depp got his third Best Actor nomination in five years for Sweeney Todd. I haven?t seen the movie but the premise overall didn?t really excite me. I like Depp in some of the movies he?s done, but as for all this praise he has gotten in recent years, I can only say that I would be a lot more impressed with him if he occasionally played a character who resembled a normal human being and not a demon barber, charismatic pirate captain, cocaine dealer, transvestite political prisoner, or guy with scissors for hands. Ok I?m being a bit selective with his filmography there, but still, as good as he is in these quirky, far out roles, I wish he would find a good character that lives and breathes on a planet that resembles our Earth and not a fantasy world, and do a good job playing him. The last time he tried something like that was Finding Neverland, and having just done the first Pirates movie a year earlier, his performance looked very much phoned-in by comparison, at least to me it did. It was still a good movie though.

The only film of the year I have any kind of emotional attachment to is Once, which received a Best Original Song nomination for ?Falling Slowly?. It?s up against three songs from Enchanted and one from August Rush, so I?ll be pulling for that one to win. As for the other categories, I can take them or leave them, as long as Juno doesn?t win for Ellen Page?s smart alecky lead performance or Diablo Cody?s tiresomely self-congratulatory and cynical screenplay.