Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dad, Back at the Cineplex

A while ago, I posted two funny, brief reviews that my dad had given of new releases. Well, he recently sent my sister and I another rundown. I figured I would publish it because it's entertaining, but it's also a handy guide. It seems that he's gotten to every movie released over the past two months. Incredible. (This was originally written to my sister, and then forwarded to me -- thus the reference to "your guy Christian Bale," who I like well enough, but you know):
The Prestige: Love your guy Christian Bale but the magic here was too magical and too confusing for my taste. Jackman was fine also, but the best part of the movie was that Scarlett Johansson's role was so abbreviated.

Harsh Times: Another Bale opus about a psycho waiting to implode in L.A. Again, he's excellent but the movie was too relentlessly depressing and too predictable to get even one thumb up.

Flags of Our Fathers:
Boilerplate WWII movie. Mildly interesting as it explores the propaganda and public relations efforts that go in to financing a war ... wouldn't be a waste of time but no reason to plan a special trip either.

The Departed:
It was much hyped and Scorsese can do bad guy movies, but a ridiculous ending spoiled a pretty good start. Nicholson has gotten to the point where he just seems to play Nicholson (see Al Pacino). Worth seeing just to place it in Scorsese's body of work but no rush.

The Marine: This movie is a joke and the fact that I saw it is an indication of how desperate i was to do something, anything on a recent barren tuesday. The wrestler whose name escapes me isn't the worst thing about the undertaking. The only saving grace was that all the players seemed to know just how awful it was and had tongue in cheek throughout. If the grading range is A through D, this gets an X.

Deja Vu: Strictly for denzel fans. Plot is too outlandish to be taken even half seriously. If you are caught in a driving rainstorm and can find refuge only in a cineplex and have a real yen for a tub of buttered popcorn, then go see it.

A Good Year:
This movie had everything. Russell Crowe expanding to a romantic comedy, the magnificent setting of the Provence wine country, flashbacks to a great childhood and redemption from a soulless life as a money shark. At least that was the impression gleaned from the previews. Well, it had all of the above but it shows how even good intentions and a promising plot (ed. note: the opinions expressed herein, obviously, and all that...) can be butchered when translated to a 2 hour movie. The writing was terrible, various strands of the story were left hanging, the chemistry among the actors was dismal and the happiest part of the happy ending is that you could head for the exit. The wine country was beautiful but it would be cheaper to buy some postcards. This is the kind of bland and predictable movie I might once have found acceptable and even mildly entertaining but you guys have sharpened my critical senses and have ruined movies like this for me. Stay away ... even in rainstorms.

Stranger Than Fiction: Had no interest in seeing this thing but enough people gave it a mild recommendation that I decided to give it a shot. Glad I did. Not great but more than I expected. Will Ferrell is not the Will Ferrell I had come to know and not been crazy about. He's ok here. It is a weird conceit, but it is mostly pulled off and the ending, while predictable, is good. Worth a shot.

Babel: A serious effort with really outstanding performances from an ensemble cast. Did you see Crash? It is a quite similar structure as it follows how a trivial random occurrence can have consequences that span oceans as the dominos begin their fall. I suspect this is a love/hate kind of movie that will stir opinions on either side. it is, however, definitely worth seeing for the performances, the photography and the sheer effort to make some kind of a profound movie even if, after it is all over, you think it's a miss. You won't forget it in a hurry.

Casino Royale:
A new bond...and a good one. You have to have a thing for Bond movies to like this one, but if you do have a thing for them, I would put this near the top. The best part is the elimination of the electronic gadgetry and other gimmicks that became 007's signature. I make it too long by about 15 minutes but that isn't enough to throw it under the bus. An absolute must for Bond fans and a should-see for the skeptics.

The Queen: This was really well done. You know my feelings about imitation roles but since Queen Elizabeth doesn't have the same celebrity tics as Ray Charles or Katherine Hepburn or Truman Capote, Helen Mirren didn't seem quite as Rich Little-ish in her performance and she was magnificent. It is a short movie and very riveting. All the characters were treated even handedly and it was a tour de force showing how life just happens, even to the high and the mighty.

That is it for now ... I would chat further but this cat torments me when I am typing on the computer.
(Oh, and Dad recently got a cat.)



Blogger Wild Chill said...

Well, any movie with Christian Bale in it is a must-see movie for me!

12:09 PM  
Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

Babel is the best movie I've seen so far this year, and I too was surprised by just how much I liked Stranger than Fiction ... I never believed I would like a movie with Will Ferrell in virtually every frame until I saw this one

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Brilliant and useful. Reminds me a little of the hilariously succinct haiku master who does the very, very short reviews of TV movies in the Times' listings. Some samples from this morning's paper:

On Golden Pond (1981). Katherine Hepburn, Henry Fonda. Peak Hank.

The Mummy (1999). Brendan Fraser. Gaudy horror parody. Makes Indiana Jones look Shakespearean.

The Mummy Returns (2001). Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz. Archaeologists and son in action adventure. Makes Indiana Jones look like Henry James.

Ghost (1990). Patrick Swayze. Whoopi's medium is most of the message.

Assault on Precinct 13 (2005). Ethan Hawke. Don't run because it's a remake; there are plenty of other reasons.

12:37 PM  
Blogger lmha said...

How refreshing. Well, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. He's a great writer. I barely know your dad, but this fortifies the minor, minor crush that I have on him (he just seems like a great character in a book to me for some reason). Mind you, I barely know him and haven't seen him in, oh, 15 years, but what little I know, I always like.

12:40 AM  

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