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Nobody is horny enough to watch this
I saw this movie because I figured, hey, Bo Derek running around nude for 90 minutes or so... what could be wrong with that? Even if the plot sucked, still, Bo Derek nude.
I was wrong.
The problem is that the movie is so bad that you can't even lust after her. You just end up feeling sorry for her, wishing she would stop embarrassing herself. Oh please, Bo, put some clothes on and leave this movie so that I can at least fantasize about you again. But no, it goes on and on, and she just seems more and more pathetic and sad and unattractive as the movie goes on.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Moving drama, but isn't it really two movies
This movie is about a female boxer who, through dogged determination, becomes a fighter. She moves through the ranks quickly and... then the movie changes. The characters are unfolded slowly, and are left to develop at a snail's pace. This can be good or it can be bad, and it this movie it mostly works. This is an incredibly powerful movie, but I don't think it's as great as most people. Close, but a few flaws bugged me. First, it starts a bit on the slow side. I can live with that, though. Second, she would be declared champion if her opponent cheats like that. But third, my main complaint, is that the last part of the movie is too... distinct from the rest. It's a bit too radical of a departure from everything up to that. I know it's the same characters, and we needed the setup of the relationship between the characters to make the ending work, but it just felt, well, too jarring, I guess. I would not let that discourage anyone from seeing the movie, because it is so powerful. But it does keep me from ranking it as one of my all time great movies.
In Good Company (2004)
This movie got decent reviews, and got some attention, but I felt it deserved more attention. I saw this movie and 'Sideways' within a few weeks of each other, and I have the distinct feeling that if "In Good Company" were released in art houses and 'Sideways' were released in multiplexes, the attention given to these two movies would be reversed. Both are light comedies, more about character than about plot. Both have some insights into the human condition. Both have minor flaws that can be overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Both have great performances from the leads, especially the lead actresses. The only thing that explains the difference in critical acclaim is the "snob" effect of 'Sideways' being released into art houses. Don't get me wrong, I'm a film snob who loves art house films, but I can still keep an open mind for the more mainstream films. And this one is just plain better than most of what you'll see at the local multiplex.
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Finally, a CLEAN movie that my whole family can enjoy. There are thousands of comments on this movie already, so there's not much to add except that my whole family, kids to middle-aged, enjoy this movie and watch it again and again, and are stuck saying the catch phrases. It is a character study of a variety of nerds and misfits, some of them likable, some of them not, but all very earnest in their drive to prove themselves to the world. Each person has their quirks, just like in the real world, and each person thinks the others' quirks are weird, just like in the real world.
These are people I know, people I've met. There's not much plot, just a story of quirky people being quirky.
Razzled and dazzled
This is a film version of a musical, and it sort of shows -- it looks like a stage musical, moves like a stage musical, sounds like a stage musical. Having said that, everyone does a nice job with it. The singing and dancing are fun, it takes advantage of the fact that it can be edited (as opposed to the stage) very well, and gives us about as much as we can expect from this play without a serious re-write. About the only problem with it is that it came out *after* Moulin Rouge, which raised the bar on movie musicals. Chicago is a lot of fun but suffers in comparison to Moulin Rouge.
The Banger Sisters (2002)
Nice cast saves routine movie
My subject line sort of sums up my views on this movie. The plot is not particularly original. Once you know hook, you can predict much of the rest of the movie. The difference is that they stir the pot a little in this one, and the cast seems to really enjoy working together and is fun to watch. There are a few minor surprises, but who cares. This is a movie about the charisma of it's stars, and they all shine. This is not a movie that will go down in history, it will not change your life, but it is not a bad way to spend an hour and a half.
How many balls can YOU juggle?
This movie is a breathtaking achievement of screenwriting. From moment to moment we are left wondering exactly what this movie is about and where we stand in relation to the movie. Are we outsiders watching how a movie gets created? Are we supposed to empathize with Charlie? Or his brother? Are we supposed to lose ourselves in the movie, or analyze it from above? When is it real and when is it fiction? At each step, we are left guessing where it will go next, except, of course, for the ending, which we could forsee very early on, which is, of course, the point.... or is it? I saw a review of this movie that said simply: "Best. screenplay. ever.". I don't know if I'd make that claim, but frankly, I can't think of one better. And Nicholas Cage gives an amazing performance (two, actually) as Charlie and his brother. Without changing clothes or hair or any other telltale clues, we can immediately tell them apart. How? Attitude, I guess, with their essence, which bubbles through to the screen instantly. I loved this movie and will definitely see it again and again.
About Schmidt (2002)
Could you depress me a little more?
About Schmidt is clearly the most overrated movie of the year, and has the most misleading ad campaign of the year. The ads make it look like a light-hearted romp, when really it is dark and depressing, interspersed with a few mildly humorous (yet oddly sad) moments. In the movie, Schmidt is a man who just retired to realize his whole life has meant nothing. So he makes a few feeble attempts to change that but learns that he can't. He is sad, depressed, and worthless at the start, and sad, depressed, and worthless at the end. And that is the problem with this movie -- it doesn't GO anywhere. It's like watching depressed friends discuss their problems for two straight hours as they forget that you are there. To be fair, the performances are amazing, and the dialogue is very real, but it just sits there, like a slow day of flipping channels. If you want to be depressed by a good movie, see Leaving Las Vegas, or even The Man Who Wasn't There. This one has nothing to say -- just a blank demonstration of how depressed good actors can make you.
One of the best movies of all time
When you think about what it takes to make a good mystery/drama, there really are a lot of things that have to be balanced: it has to be confusing enough to not be predictable, yet clear enough that the audience can follow it and feel challenged; it has to be interesting enough to make you care without being too gimmicky to make you feel left out. This movie walks that line as well as any movie could, and while the hook is slightly gimmicky, it quickly becomes a non-issue as it draws you into its mystery. This is about as good as movies get.
Slightly better than the first
The plot of this movie is about Barlago from Garganda who needs to get to Margalala before the Embligs reach it and try to destroy the Ziglwigs... or something like that. Maybe if I had immersed myself in the trilogy and attended sci-fi conventions beforehand, I could've actually understood the story. Instead, it plays like a big, spectacular video game. Admittedly, I kind of enjoyed it because it is visually the most amazing thing we've seen on the screen yet, especially the computer generated character with the big ears (Grogglegorf, I think). All the names sound alike, most of the characters look alike, and there are too many of them to care about any of them. The scene with the H.R. Puffenstuff trees was mildly humorous, although I don't think that was intentional. So the plot is probably even less penetrable to non-geeks than the first one, but it is oh so fun to watch. If you are not a sci-fi geek, go for the visuals. Computer graphics have reached the promised land -- it is a landmark movie in that regard. Just don't expect to be included in this little Star Trek Convention of a movie unless you've read the books.
Sorry, I didn't have time to read the book
This movie plays like a movie designed for people who already know the story and the characters and are just curious to see if anybody else's vision of it is the same as theirs. The characters are not developed enough for us to care about them, they are just characters in an elaborate game of D&D. The movie is visually spectacular, and any individual scene may be exciting and fun, but for those of us who aren't sci-fi geeks, it plays like a game that we are watching from the outside. It's not terrible, but a movie should stand on its own, and not require us to study a trilogy beforehand for background.