doughboy's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Star Trek Into Darkness
½

Loved it. Loved the juxtaposition with earlier work. And Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent.

Janice Beard 45 wpm
½

Janice Beard, 45 WPM
Rating: 7/10
Date Seen: 3/28/04

Murder on the Orient Express
½

Albert Finney is kind of annoying in the role of Hercule Poirot. It's kind of like he's doing a combination of James Mason and the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I seriously don't know what the deal was with his shoulders hunching the whole time. However, it was a great story. Hard to fail when you have good writing. And Agatha Christie knew how to tell 'em. Overall enjoyable, but a little dated. Also, Ingrid Bergman's Academy Award [u]must[/u] have been a lifetime achievement award, because she wasn't particularly good in what was really a small part. She wasn't bad, but it's not something you point at and say "Wow. She stole the show."

The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Adventures of Robin Hood - some exciting scenes with some great dialogue. Errol Flynn, of course, makes the whole movie.

Young at Heart
½

Two movies from this weekend.

Six Feet Under - The Complete First Season
½

A month or 2 ago I started watching Six Feet Under for the first time. I checked the DVDs out of the library 1 at a time. So far, I'm on episode 3 of season 3, and, let me tell ya, I love this show. However, because time is short I'm just here to write about the first season.

I defy anyone to watch season 1 and not want to watch the rest of the show. The pilot episode was a wonderful introduction to the Fisher family, their funeral home, Fisher and Sons, and the various people in their lives. As the pilot opens, Nathaniel Fisher is on his way to the airport to pick up his son in his business's new hearse. He's smoking a cigarette, something his wife told him not to do, when the hearse is hit by a bus as Nathaniel flicks ashes away from his jacket. Nathaniel dies in the accident, and the first episode is about the family's immediate reaction at the hospital and through the funeral.

The pilot episode is also about Nathaniel's son, Nate, and his initial encounter with Brenda Chenowith. I love that name "Chenowith." Brenda, as played by Rachel Griffiths, is a somewhat off kilter hottie who Nate meets on the plane from Seattle to Los Angeles. She hits on Nate as they walk through the airport, and Nate and Brenda end up having sex in an airport closet.

I developed a huge crush on Rachel Griffiths by watching this show (and not just because of the sex scene). Her character is an amazing mix of beauty, intelligence, fire, and sexuality. Yowza.

As the season continues, Brenda and Nate's relationship develops at quite a pace. However, a central sticking point to their relationship is Rachel's brother, Billy, who has bipolar disorder and a very unhealthy attachment to Brenda. Billy is very possessive of Brenda and develops intense jealousy of everyone she dates. This problematic aspect of Nate and Brenda's relationship is intensified as Billy stops taking his medication. I felt that Jeremy Sisto's portrayal of Billy was a very realistic example of someone with manic depression.

The Nate and Brenda story line is just one of the very intriguing subplots of Six Feet Under during its first season. There's also David Fisher's struggle with accepting his gay identity, Ruth Fisher discovering the ture nature of widowhood, and Claire Fisher's struggle with late adolescence in a world that she shows great contempt for. The weakest subplot, however, is a corporation's attempt to take over Fisher and Sons.

The overarching plot for the first season, though, is the family's difficulty coping with the death of the head of the household. I really liked this aspect of Six Feet Under, because it does not pretend that major crises like these are resolved at the end of a single episode, like most television shows. Instead, it gives us an intimate portrait of each family member in light of the father's death.

Someone dies at the beginning of just about every episode of Six Feet Under, and that person is usually Fisher and Sons' next client. As the family navigates the grieving process, it becomes apparent how dealing with other people's deaths complicates that process. The resulting angst and soul searching made me feel like I was being granted a priviledged insight into an intensely personal experience.

Spirited Away
½

Saw this for the first time tonight. Beautiful movie set in a very accessible fantasy world. Wonderful.

American Psycho
½

Christian Bale gives an understandably over-the-top performance as Patrick Bateman in this examination of the success culture of the '80s and the lack of values that accompany that culture. The message is pretty easy to discern: A society obsessed with surface features, where your worth is judged based on the quality of your business card, leaves an internal void. It's up to the individual to fill that void, but when you get continually validated for what's on the outside, why bother focusing on the inside? Consequently, it's very easy to see that our society could easily produce hundreds of Patrick Bateman. When you think about it, that's essentially what happened. Although the Batemans that were produced by this culture of vanity weren't serial killers, they were still morally bankrupt yuppies who do not think about how they are destroying others. See: The Enron scandal and other affairs.

Fever Pitch
Fever Pitch(2005)

Enjoyable romantic comedy about love between a true fan, who remembers that 'fan' is short for 'fanatic,' and normal businesswoman. Some fun moments and some good humor. Jimmy Fallon does too much stand up, and Drew Barrymore's acting leaves much to be desired. The dialogue about their relationship is a little too stilted. Not my first choice for a romantic comedy, but not my last, either.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
½

First, let's get this straight: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was [u]not[/u] a bad adaptation of the Roald Dahl book. I read it in 6th grade (on the same day Reagan was shot, btw) and don't recall noticing major differences between the 1st movie and the book. Second, it is perfectly OK to make a second movie based on a book. Third, to watch the second movie after growing up watching the first and not compare the two would be ridiculous. Comparison is inevitable. And there's a lot of comparing to do here. The essential story is no different this time around than the first time (other than adding a father back story that was just OK). All 5 kids are the same, and the brats all have the same problems, which are addressed in pretty much the same way. Charlie still has 4 bed-ridden grandparents, and the family is still dirt poor. (This time Charlie has both parents, though.) And there are still singing Oompa Loompas. How can you not make a judgement call about which movie is better?

And that judgement is this: The first movie is much better than the 2nd. No question about it. The new version subtracted much of what was loved about the 1st (the songs, much of the humor, and the corny "life's great" feel-goodness about it), and it did not add all that much. However, what it did add is worth watching. The humor this go 'round is different but still enjoyable, and Willy Wonka's personality as interpreted by Johnny Depp (much maligned ever since the movie came out) is actually very intriguing - if an acquired taste. I must confess to not remembering much about Wonka from the book, but my guess is that Depp comes closer to the book than Wilder (although give me Wilder's personality over Depp's any day). Also, the Oompa Loompas - all of them performed by Deep Roy - were pretty fun and added an air of quirkiness to the movie that complemented Wonka's personality. Also enjoyable to watch was David Kelly as Grandpa Joe - much more playful and eccentric than in the first movie.

Overall, Chalie and the Chocolate Factory is a distinct entry into Wonka-lore that has a handful of laughs and a lot of eccentricity. :up:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
½

First, let's get this straight: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was [u]not[/u] a bad adaptation of the Roald Dahl book. I read it in 6th grade (on the same day Reagan was shot, btw) and don't recall noticing major differences between the 1st movie and the book. Second, it is perfectly OK to make a second movie based on a book. Third, to watch the second movie after growing up watching the first and not compare the two would be ridiculous. Comparison is inevitable. And there's a lot of comparing to do here. The essential story is no different this time around than the first time (other than adding a father back story that was just OK). All 5 kids are the same, and the brats all have the same problems, which are addressed in pretty much the same way. Charlie still has 4 bed-ridden grandparents, and the family is still dirt poor. (This time Charlie has both parents, though.) And there are still singing Oompa Loompas. How can you not make a judgement call about which movie is better?

And that judgement is this: The first movie is much better than the 2nd. No question about it. The new version subtracted much of what was loved about the 1st (the songs, much of the humor, and the corny "life's great" feel-goodness about it), and it did not add all that much. However, what it did add is worth watching. The humor this go 'round is different but still enjoyable, and Willy Wonka's personality as interpreted by Johnny Depp (much maligned ever since the movie came out) is actually very intriguing - if an acquired taste. I must confess to not remembering much about Wonka from the book, but my guess is that Depp comes closer to the book than Wilder (although give me Wilder's personality over Depp's any day). Also, the Oompa Loompas - all of them performed by Deep Roy - were pretty fun and added an air of quirkiness to the movie that complemented Wonka's personality. Also enjoyable to watch was David Kelly as Grandpa Joe - much more playful and eccentric than in the first movie.

Overall, Chalie and the Chocolate Factory is a distinct entry into Wonka-lore that has a handful of laughs and a lot of eccentricity. :up:

Anchorman - The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
½

You know that last skit or two each week on Saturday Night Live? Well, Anchorman is composed of about 7 of them. You know the ones I am talking about - they might have a laugh or two at the very beginning but get tired very quickly. Soon after they start, you realize that the writers needed something to act as filler for a 1.5 hour show.

If you haven't seen it by now, you probably are at least vaguely familiar with Anchorman's premise. It's an over-the-top parody of '70s television news, when (anchor)men were men and women sat pretty in the background. Will Farrell (whose hit or miss comedy has always been lukewarm in my opinion), plays the anchorstud du jour in San Diego, and the rest of the news team pretty much follows suit. The first 20 minutes of the movie is spent introducing us to this team with some jokes that hit, and a few that miss, kind of awkwardly, I might add.

Despite Burgundy's king-of-the-hill status, the station brings in Christina Applegate's Veronica Corningstone in an effort to diversify the staff. The news team and producer Ed Harken (played by Fred Willard in another one of his quiet yet hysterical comedic turns) see Corningstone as nothing more than a pretty face to hit on and to assign fluff pieces. Eventually, however, Burgundy and Corningstone actually develop a romance - until she is given a chance to anchor the news solo and proves herself his equal or better in the newsroom.

Now, the plot I just described has a lot of potential, and Farrell and company do produce some laughs. However, those laughs are remote islands between an embarrassing number of unfunny slapstick pieces and testaments to the "crude is funny" humor that I had prayed we were rid of a few years ago. There are also a number of cameo pieces that do nothing more than what most cameos do: "Ooh look, it's Tim Robbins." The craziness of Anchorman builds on itself in a way that most 14 year old boys would love. For the rest of us, however, the movie runs out of steam very quickly.

What Anchorman really fails to do is trust itself to stick with what it was supposed to be about: Ron Burgundy. Instead of exploring Burgundy's personality in a true matching of wits with Corningstone, the movie abandons its own plot to see just how absurd it can get. It becomes incredibly absurd, all right, but what Farrell and many of today's "zany" film makers fail to realize, is that "absurd" and "funny" are two different things. There is a way to bring those two concepts together - as proven by Ben Stiller and company in "There's Something about Mary" - but this isn't it.

Kill Bill: Volume 2

Quick comments:
Shrek 2 - Not as good as the first, but still hilarious. I loved Far Far Away and Puss in Boots. I wasn't too keen on the fairy godmother, though, and I kept waiting for it to get to the plot.
Spellbound (2003) - Lots to like about this documentary. They did a very good job of setting up the background stories for 8 kids going to the national spelling bee. By the time they were up there, it was like I was watching family members competing.
Kill Bill Vol. 2 - Excellent companion piece to the first movie. Some surprises. I especially enjoyed the scene where The Bride is training. One thing I don't understand, though: They seemed intent on not saying the Bride's real name throughout most of the movie. Why did they suddenly say it when they did?
About a Boy - 2nd or 3rd time seeing it. Very fun movie with lots of humor. Lots of personality, too. Hugh Grant plays his usual character, but I don't get tired of watching his usual character.

About a Boy
About a Boy(2002)

Quick comments:
Shrek 2 - Not as good as the first, but still hilarious. I loved Far Far Away and Puss in Boots. I wasn't too keen on the fairy godmother, though, and I kept waiting for it to get to the plot.
Spellbound (2003) - Lots to like about this documentary. They did a very good job of setting up the background stories for 8 kids going to the national spelling bee. By the time they were up there, it was like I was watching family members competing.
Kill Bill Vol. 2 - Excellent companion piece to the first movie. Some surprises. I especially enjoyed the scene where The Bride is training. One thing I don't understand, though: They seemed intent on not saying the Bride's real name throughout most of the movie. Why did they suddenly say it when they did?
About a Boy - 2nd or 3rd time seeing it. Very fun movie with lots of humor. Lots of personality, too. Hugh Grant plays his usual character, but I don't get tired of watching his usual character.

Shrek 2
Shrek 2(2004)
½

Quick comments:
Shrek 2 - Not as good as the first, but still hilarious. I loved Far Far Away and Puss in Boots. I wasn't too keen on the fairy godmother, though, and I kept waiting for it to get to the plot.
Spellbound (2003) - Lots to like about this documentary. They did a very good job of setting up the background stories for 8 kids going to the national spelling bee. By the time they were up there, it was like I was watching family members competing.
Kill Bill Vol. 2 - Excellent companion piece to the first movie. Some surprises. I especially enjoyed the scene where The Bride is training. One thing I don't understand, though: They seemed intent on not saying the Bride's real name throughout most of the movie. Why did they suddenly say it when they did?
About a Boy - 2nd or 3rd time seeing it. Very fun movie with lots of humor. Lots of personality, too. Hugh Grant plays his usual character, but I don't get tired of watching his usual character.

Spellbound
Spellbound(2002)
½

Quick comments:
Shrek 2 - Not as good as the first, but still hilarious. I loved Far Far Away and Puss in Boots. I wasn't too keen on the fairy godmother, though, and I kept waiting for it to get to the plot.
Spellbound (2003) - Lots to like about this documentary. They did a very good job of setting up the background stories for 8 kids going to the national spelling bee. By the time they were up there, it was like I was watching family members competing.
Kill Bill Vol. 2 - Excellent companion piece to the first movie. Some surprises. I especially enjoyed the scene where The Bride is training. One thing I don't understand, though: They seemed intent on not saying the Bride's real name throughout most of the movie. Why did they suddenly say it when they did?
About a Boy - 2nd or 3rd time seeing it. Very fun movie with lots of humor. Lots of personality, too. Hugh Grant plays his usual character, but I don't get tired of watching his usual character.

The Ladykillers
½

Fun little movie. The old lady is great.

Rating: 7/10
Date seen: 4/23

The Trouble with Harry
½

I imagine that most people are going to think I'm crazy when I tell them that I like The Trouble with Harry better than Rear Window. But who cares? They are both excellent movies, and I'll even concede that RW is much more compelling and suspenseful than TTWH. Plus, I'm in love with Grace Kelly (don't tell my wife). However, that's where more typical reviews stop and my personal opinions start. I had a great experience watching TTWH. I watched it on a cool, quiet spring evening with the windows open in my house. The weather outside kind of mimicked the weather of fall in Vermont on a very long, yet relaxing day, as depicted in TTWH. TTWH just has so much character and charm to it. I really enjoyed the casual pace and lightweight feel of the movie. If you're looking for a classic Hitchcock who done it, this aint it. But if you're looking to get to know some good-hearted, laid back people caught in an atypical situation, have a seat and relax.

RW, on the other hand, is still an excellent film. Jimmy Stewart plays a photographer who has more of an edge to him than Mr. Smith and George Bailey. I loved watching the murder plot unfold as the stories of his other neighbors - and his own story with Kelly - unfold at the same time. Plus, it's amazing how exciting a story can get when the protagonist is pretty much static throughout the film.

Neither film will disappoint. Just make sure you know what you're looking for in each.

The Trouble with Harry
Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 4/4/04

Rear Window
Rating: 8/10
Date Seen: 4/16/04

Rear Window
Rear Window(1954)

I imagine that most people are going to think I'm crazy when I tell them that I like The Trouble with Harry better than Rear Window. But who cares? They are both excellent movies, and I'll even concede that RW is much more compelling and suspenseful than TTWH. Plus, I'm in love with Grace Kelly (don't tell my wife). However, that's where more typical reviews stop and my personal opinions start. I had a great experience watching TTWH. I watched it on a cool, quiet spring evening with the windows open in my house. The weather outside kind of mimicked the weather of fall in Vermont on a very long, yet relaxing day, as depicted in TTWH. TTWH just has so much character and charm to it. I really enjoyed the casual pace and lightweight feel of the movie. If you're looking for a classic Hitchcock who done it, this aint it. But if you're looking to get to know some good-hearted, laid back people caught in an atypical situation, have a seat and relax.

RW, on the other hand, is still an excellent film. Jimmy Stewart plays a photographer who has more of an edge to him than Mr. Smith and George Bailey. I loved watching the murder plot unfold as the stories of his other neighbors - and his own story with Kelly - unfold at the same time. Plus, it's amazing how exciting a story can get when the protagonist is pretty much static throughout the film.

Neither film will disappoint. Just make sure you know what you're looking for in each.

The Trouble with Harry
Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 4/4/04

Rear Window
Rating: 8/10
Date Seen: 4/16/04

Hoop Dreams
Hoop Dreams(1994)

Hoop Dreams
Rating: 8/10
Date Seen: 4/3/04

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
½

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 3/31/04

The Kennel Murder Case

The Kennel Murder Case
Rating: 6/10
Date Seen: 3/30

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
½

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Rating: 7
Date Seen: 3/27/04

The Producers
½

The Producers

This was the second time that I had seen this movie, and I liked it much better during this second go-round. Lots of hysterical moments despite its dated look and a few misfires. I imagine that some of the material was funnier when living during that time. Still, nothing beats Springtime for Hitler as the definitive musical parody.

Rating: 7/10
Date Seen: 3/22/04

Edit: Do yourself a huge favor and catch the broadway musical version in New York or if it comes to your town. Absolutely hilarious.

The African Queen
½

The African Queen

[img]http://www.filmsite.org/posters/afri2.gif[/img]

[img]http://www.historyinfilm.com/queen/images/madeit.jpg[/img]

Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 3/21/04

The Magnificent Ambersons
½

The Magnificent Ambersons

My first time viewing it, and I loved it. George Amberson Minafer is now one of the characters that I most love to hate. He was so fully realized and human. I read that RKO pictures cut 40 minutes from the movie and threw it out before Welles knew what was going on. That is a travesty, because it's easy to see where the movie could be enhanced by a few extra scenes.

My Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 3/16/04

Taking Lives
Taking Lives(2004)
½

A good start runs out of steam and ends with a Hollywood contrivance. Angelina Jolie stars as a special agent for the FBI called in by Canada to help generate a profile of their latest serial killer, a man who assumes the identity of his next victim. Ethan Hawke plays the sole witness to any of the killings, who is now caught in the killer's radar.

Taking Lives begins with the killer's first (?) murder, a set of scenes that sets up a potentially compelling story with a clear parallel to The Talented Mr. Ripley. There is a great use of dialogue as one of the characters says "The first one is the hardest. All the rest come off easy," just before the violence starts.

The movie then jumps forward 20 years and introduces Jolie, an offbeat investigator who pulls hidden details from the latest crime to establish herself as an expert we want to get to know better. During the first few minutes, her character reminded me of Vincent D'Onofrio's detective in Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

If the movie had kept its focus on those two elements - portrait of a serial killer and the story of a maverick police detective - it could have been an excellent companion piece to Silence of the Lambs. But the story gets bogged down in the relationship between Jolie and Hawke, substituting flirtations for character development, and it also fails to adequately use Kiefer Sutherland's character altogether. It then tacks on a preposterous wrap up that requires an amazing suspension of disbelief, which I wasn't able to give it.

The jumpy camera work and dull grey layout of Taking Lives contributes to the overall suspenseful feel of the movie, which does have its share of tense moments and out-of-nowhere shocks. There are at least two jump out of your seat scary moments that I wasn't expecting. In the end, though, Taking Lives seems content with those small victories but does not delve as deeply as it could into the psychology of the killer or the emotions of the good guys.

Rating: 5/10
Date Seen: 3/13/04

Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo(2003)
½

Finding Nemo

Wow. This was my second viewing, and I stand by my original opinion that this movie should have been nominated for best picture - not just best animated picture. Pixar is, of course, known for their amazing visuals, but the voicework alone in this movie makes it worth it. Then, of course, there are the amazing visuals. I hope everyone got to see this in the theater. On my TV it looked great, but in the theater it looked spectacular.

Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 3/11/04

The Thin Man Goes Home

Next to last out of six, my viewing of this one completes my viewing of the whole series. TMGH had its moments of humor and had a valid resolution to the "who done it" part, but the humor wasn't enough, and the movie took forever to get going. Definitely not the best work of the series.

My Rating: 4/10
Date Seen: 3/8/04

Suspicion
Suspicion(1941)

Excellent "did he do it?/will he do it to me?" thriller from the master, Alfred Hitchcock. Joan Fontaine puts in an excellent, Oscar-winning performance as a naive-yet-book-smart woman who impulsively marries Cary Grant, an attractive bachelor who seems just a little odd. As soon as they marry, she gets a better idea of his true character, as he begins to live well beyond his means and does not seem worried about it or interested in getting a job to make good. As Fontaine gets a better sense of who she married, she begins to suspect that Grant is capable of murder...

Rating: 8/10
Date Seen: 3/7/04

A Clockwork Orange
½

Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 3/6/04

The Apartment
½

The Apartment

Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 3/5

The Maltese Falcon
½

The Maltese Falcon (1931)

My second time viewing this, and I liked it much better than the first (which was about 15 years ago, am I that old?). Bogie is wonderful as Sam Spade, and the rest of the cast is excellent, too.

Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 2/27/04

My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady(1964)
½

Rating: 7/10
Date Seen: 2/17/04

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
½

Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 2/15/04

When Harry Met Sally
½

Rating: 9/10
Date Seen: 2/14/04

Cape Fear
Cape Fear(1962)
½

Rating: 7/10
Date Seen: 2/7/04

Wait Until Dark
½

Now this is more my kind of story - a suspenseful, thought-provoking crime drama that foregoes needless action and violence and focuses on turning up the heat to the boiling point. Audrey Hepburn does a great job as a blind woman being harrassed by criminals looking for a doll filled with packets of heroin. Very tense.

Rating: 9/10
Date seen:2/7/04

Little Women
Little Women(1933)

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I LOVE Turner Classic Movies!

I think what I liked best about this movie was the dialogue and the way the actors delivered it. Specifically, the language was formal and probably true to the book, but it was still accessible to those of us who tire of that kind of thing easily - kind of like watching a good production of Shakespeare, you know?

I had never seen any versions of Little Women, and I haven't read the book. I'm not particularly motivated to read it now or see any of the other versions, because, while enjoyable, it just wasn't my kind of story. It was much more of my wife's kind of story. In a way it was an American version of a Jane Austen novel. Again, very good for what it was, but not my kind of story.

Date Seen: 2/7
Rating: 8/10

Groundhog Day

Saw GD on GD; loved it as usual.

Seabiscuit
Seabiscuit(2003)

Rousing horse racing tale with solid performances from all.

Date Seen: 2/1/04
Rating: 8/10

Something's Gotta Give
½

Diane Keaton can't cry. In Something's Gotta Give, there is a period where she has to cry in brief scene after scene, and either she can't cry or the direction was very, very poor (I kind of think it was the latter). For me, her crying symbolizes everything that was bad about this movie. In the crying scenes, she just wails and wails - loudly. After awhile, it is supposed to be somewhat funny (I think), but it's really just kind of annoying. The crying is supposed to convey that she is getting over what is hurting her and channelling it into a more productive activity. But it just feels so disingenuous because of the brazen way it is portrayed. There is a way to get crying to be sad at first and then funny (see Broadcast News), but this ain't it. This crying is more like "Ooh, look. It's Diane Keaton trying to ball her eyes out."

And that's what's wrong with Something's Gotta Give. Most of the scenes feel fake and like obvious attempts to manufacture the emotions that the director/screenwriter is trying to elicit. The very final scene (and I'm not ruining anything here) is the perfect example. It's basically a scene with the main characters looking cute and funny while music plays. Kodak moments to be sure, but they're manufactured Kodak moments.

Additionally, all of the major performances disappointed me. Jack Nicholson's character is barely introduced before he has a heart attack, and the story gets thrown into motion. We're supposed to believe that he's Joe Cool Sr. - hip and attractive to much younger women. We're supposed to believe that not because of how his character is developed, but because...well...because he's Jack Nicholson.

Diane Keaton wasn't particularly disappointing, because I've never been a big fan of hers, anyway. However, her character never seemed to be anchored to any particular way of being. It's the film's version of character development that her character evolves from an uptight recluse to a self-actualized, fully-empowered woman, but to me that transition was just too easy.

Amanda Peet, playing Keaton's daughter, gives a one note performance that, while consistent with the rest of the movie, relies more on her beauty than on substance to get the audience to care about her. She smiles a lot, and is very definitely easy on the eyes, but she's basically another pretty face. In a movie like this, which suggests that Jack dates young women because he sees them as merely pretty faces, it's almost criminal to not prove to the audience that Peet is anything but.

Finally, France McDormand, in a smaller role, seems to exist solely for the purpose of directly verbalizing the movie's thesis at the beginning of the movie. And we're supposed to respect her character's opinion - she's a professor. Her speech is another good example of the way this movie tries to get the message across - by telling the audience what the message is instead of showing it.

Rating: 3/10
Date Seen: 1/13/04

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Family therapy without the therapist. I really enjoyed all of the family dynamics uncovered by these characters in one evening. My favorite performance was from Burl Ives in the role of Big Daddy, the family patriarch.

My Rating: 8/10
Seen on: 1/2/04

21 Grams
21 Grams(2003)
½

Test picture from imdb...

[img]http://imdb.com/Photos/Ss/0315733/Image28.JPG[/img]




Test picture from 21 Grams official site.

[img]http://www.21grams.co.uk/gallery/images/gallery5.jpg[/img]

Very moving performances highlight this painful look at the effect a car accident has on three lives. Sean Penn created competition with his Mystic River role with his performance here as a man with heart disease, waiting for a donor. (I'd give the Oscar to him for Mystic River, though.) The strongest performance comes from Benicio Del Toro, a religiously-reformed ex-con who plummets into a faith shaking (destroying?) depression after causing the accident. 21 Grams would have been a little better if the movie had focused on him instead of jumping to two other stories, but that's a minor quibble.

The scenes in 21 Grams were shot with intentionally grainy camera work, where everyday seems to be overcast. It gives it the feel of home movies, which makes the story much more real than if it had used traditional cinematography.

Another way that the filmmakers created a feel of realism was by not telling the story in a very linear manner. Throughout the movie it is hard to tell at what point in time each scene is supposed to be occurring, with the main clue being the facial hair of the male main characters. I say that this makes it more realistic, because this nonlinear story telling is characteristic of how the participants might remember them. Think about a particular event in your life. When you remember the different scenes, do they proceed in a logical order, or do you jump to different points in time? It is this latter method of presenting the story that makes 21 Grams feel like it might have happened to the viewer.

Overall, 21 Grams is a very powerful movie that combines emotional trauma with religious and philosophical questions about life, death, fate, and responsibility.

My Rating: 9/10
Seen on: 1/1/04

Office Space
Office Space(1999)
½

Hilarious look at office life from the creator of Beavis and Butthead. Begins with a great premise (Joe Schmo gets hypnotized and gives up caring about a job that no one would really care about) and lots of laughs. It got a little bogged down with the stealing from the company element of the plot, and at one point it abandoned its premise altogether. Still, though, it was very, very funny. (seen on 12/31/03)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Good action obscured by lousy performances (especially by Mrs. Spielberg) and inane interactions between the main characters. It took its time getting started into the main plot of the movie. The key to enjoying this movie is to fast forward to all of the action sequences and pretend you don't need a plot. (seen on 12/31/03)

Mona Lisa Smile

Julia Roberts, playing a new teacher at an all-girls, Ivy League college, encourages her students to seize the day and break the identity-limiting gender rules of 1950s New England. Roberts is her usual pleasure to watch, but she has been better. The script sticks to the obvious ("Housewives can be happy, too") and takes few chances, rebelling against a mentality that was out of date 10 - 20 years ago. Still, it's a very watchable movie, thanks to appealing performances all around.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
½

Just an incredible movie going experience. This is storytelling at its best. It's a great looking movie that uses CGI very appropriately - and not just for the sake of using CGI.

Better than the first two. Also better than A Beautiful Mind and Chicago, the two previous best picture Oscar winners. I haven't seen some of the key films in 2003, but right now I'm hoping that ROTK takes the top prize. (And, BTW, I'm not a Tolkien (sp?) fanatic. I've never read the books.)

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Meet John Doe

Good but not great portrayal of the power of the press. Jimmy Stewart does a much better job as naive idealist in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington than Gary Cooper does here. It's not a bad movie by any stretch, but it's not great, either. Some very good ideas.

Murder Ahoy
Murder Ahoy (1964)
½

Yawner based on Agatha Christie's Miss Marple turns her into much more of a private detective than Christie ever intended. Humor was out of place, and the portrayal of the captain was just kind of annoying.

Song of the Thin Man
½

OK finale to a great series of films. Powell and Loy are their usual charming selves, but the story has no pop.

Some Like It Hot
½

This was the first time I have seen this movie, and I was able to see it in the theater. :D It's kind of hard to review the movie so soon after seeing it, but my gut is telling me that I really liked it. Marilyn was very real throughout the movie, despite her role as 'bombshell.' I loved the ties to real events (Valentine's Day Massacre), and I loved the human qualities of the characters. The next to last scene with Marilyn singing and Tony Curtis's reaction was magical. The movie's only drawback is the gangster plot wrap up that passes coincidental on its way to ridiculous. That nitpick is very easy to overlook, though.

Casablanca
Casablanca(1942)

One of the best of all time; romantic, witty, suspenseful, inspiring; fun to think about the symbolism; Rick is a classic character.

Singin' in the Rain
½

Wonderful musical; full of humor, excellent songs, and great musical performances; not quite perfect, but close.

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Ice Age
Ice Age(2002)

***.5 A lot of fun with Shid the Shloth, Manny the Mammoth, and Diego the Saber-Toothed Tiger. Some good laughs for adults, and it doesn't try too hard to earn them. Some touching moments and convincing character development, too. Still, it's easy to see that it's aimed more at kids than adults.

[img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/movie/gallery/1112631/IceAge-photo_12_hires.jpg[/img]

The Wolf Man
The Wolf Man(1941)

***.5 Very enjoyable classic monster movie. Lon Chaney Jr. brought a convincing combination of naivete and urgency to his role. Quibbles: Why didn't he change into a wolf instead of that wolf man? I thought Lugosi's character changed into an entire wolf. Also, it would have been good to actually in the room when Chaney last underwent his change from man to wolf man. I won't say more than that due to fear of giving away a plot point.

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The Thomas Crown Affair

**.5 I found it to be dated and kind of boring. The use of multiple boxes on the screen was distracting. Still, Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway had great chemistry, and chess has never been so sexy...

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Raiders of the Lost Ark
½

[img]http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/MMPH/225508.jpg[/img]**** I got the Indiana Jones set for my birthday. All time classic.

The Pride of the Yankees

***.5 Wonderful, sad, powerful ending to a very positive movie. It misses **** for being dated and having dialogue which seemed to be written by the writers of Leave It to Beaver.

Alien
Alien(1979)
½

**** Very tense and scary. Not a wrong note in the whole movie.

My Favorite Year
½

*** Light, naive, but funny with great characterizations.