Thursday, June 03, 2004

Escape to Hollywood

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lasses ended at the end of April, then finals for two weeks, followed by graduation weekend, two days of "vacation", then summer session... I need a break. But since I don't have one, I allow myself to escape the "now" by watching movies; and I have seen a few over the past few weeks, on DVD of course. Who can afford movie theaters? Not me...

*****Excellent. Buy the DVD.
****Very Good. Worth seeing at the theater.
***Good to rent or PPV.
**Okay for free TV.
*Hardly worth your time or money.

In no particular order, here is a list of films with brief opinions of each:

Peter Pan *** Not bad, because it allowed me to separate the story from the Disneyland tale and the ride. But still a kids story. I think they could have made it a bit blacker, because to me a tale about a kid who refuses to grow up has to be dark...

In America ***1/2. A moving story about accepting death and freeing yourself from attachments. What made it good was the fact I was unfamiliar with everyone in the movie. If someone famous had played the main roles, I think the sense of someone being newcomers and struggling in America might have been lost on me.

Paycheck **1/2 While the story line was a bit too much--like seeing into the future--and Ben Afleck is not my favorite of actors, it was enjoyable enough to let me escape a bit. And Uma Thurman is worth it...

Japanese Story **1/2 Much darker than I had anticipated, and I probably have to see it again to get a better bead on it. M thought the stereo-type Japanese man was okay, although I thought it was too much. I know a bunch of Japanese businessmen who don't even come close to resmbling the character in the film.

Big Fish ***1/2 The perfect escape, the play on words of the title was emblematic of the entire film--in the movie there is an actual big fish tale and each tale, like the big fish story, is exaggerated and impossible to verify.

Master and Commander ***1/2 Far better than I thought it would be, and Russell Crowe is an actor I enjoy watching. Pretty much a testoterone filled flick. As I think back on it now, I don't think there was one woman in the whole movie? No wait, there were native women on the coast of South America I think...

Kill Bill 1 *** Some of the action was okay, some was pretty bad--the Uma Thurmon and Lucy Liu fight choreography was pretty bad in my opinion. M hated the film because of all the dismemberment. I probably need to see KB2 to make final judgment.

Matrix Revolution **1/2 I think someone should take all three movies re-edit all of it into one and re-release it as a three hour movie... I mean the final fight scene with Neo and Agent Smith is completely anti-climactice after the too-loud and too-long fight to defend Zion.

Tokyo Godfathers ***1/2 Pretty good anime from Japan, the same director of Millenium Actress. The story is lighthearted, and the characters are pretty funny. Definitely worth renting, guys.

Pieces of April ***1/2 Another surprise, the story is original but simple, although I had problems with the instant reconcilliation the mother sought just from seeing a little girl being scolded by her mother in the bathroom of a nondescript family restaurant... I was unfamiliar with Katie Holmes, and she looked alright, but in an interview about the movie she looked totally hot. Hubba hubba.

Somethings Gotta Give ***: Jack Nicholson does Jack Nichoson only as Jack Nicholson can. I can never tell when Nicholson is acting because if you've seen him act at Laker games, you know that in the movies, he's just being himself. Is that acting? But his feet are a different story. When he's behind the refridgerator door and Diane Keaton walks in, his feet tell you everything that's happening. Amazing...

Runaway Jury ** Total disappointment, but I guess the material was bad. It's not one of Grisham's better stories to begin with. Cusak is so-so, and the Hackman-Pacino combination was really really awkward I thought. No chemistry whatsoever.

Rundown ** Another disappointment. Everyone's saying that the Rock is gonna be the next action hero. Well he's okay, but the story was boring. Even Chris Walken--a favorite of mine--couldn't redeem this film.

School of Rock **** The best movie I didn't see at the theater so far--I haven't seen Mystic River yet... The story is about a misfit guy (Jack Black) who fakes being a teacher but is truly in love with rock. He connects with marginalized kids at school--geeky Asian boy, fat African American girl--and convinces them that they, too, can be cool. Corny? You bet, but this is the kind of teacher I wish for all the marginalized ones out there...

The Cooler *** So-so, fulfilled expectations, somewhat. Like Nicholson, William H. Macy seems to be able to play himself. As Shelley (Alec Baldwin) puts it: "You're a shitty loser incarnate." But the premise was interesting. What is luck? Is there such a thing? And can it come and go at the whim of human emotions? Anyone who's been to Vegas will at least understand the desire to grasp the concept.

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