Thursday, July 06, 2006

Outta the Queue

With Chrisy recovering from her hysterectomy, we've rented a bunch of movies. It's been so great to sit with my wife and do nothing! Since I've been trying to shed my movie-snob image, some of these rentals are things I normally wouldn't have watched. Maybe you're looking for something to rent this summer and this will help. If you've seen any of these and want to argue, I'd love it. Here's a brief rundown. I usually rate films from 1 to 5 stars. 1 star is a turd and 5 stars is utterly amazing. There are no 5 star films here so I just put them in order of best to worst with a few comments. Here there are:

METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER--Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky (2004)
a documentary; I was captivated by the band's struggle to make an album amidst emotional chaos, Hetfield's recovery, and the threat of dissolution hanging in the air; it really is like a marriage and I loved watching it unfold

16 BLOCKS--Richard Donner (2006)
I didn't expect to like this so much, but I did; I love that it argues there are no "lost causes" when it comes to people and how it shows that "coming clean" can offer redemption; Bruce Willis was realy good in this

THE ISLAND--Michael Bay (2005)
okay, so it does end up decending into a standard action film, but I adored the beginning and the premise; a good screenplay about clones; I cannot believe that I enjoyed a Michael Bay film so much; I am partial to both Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor though

DOMINO--Tony Scott (2005)
first, let me say that I cannot name a bad movie with Keira Knightley in it, she's great; this is a gritty, fast paced movie about a bounty hunter; don't rent it if you are worried about "purity" but do rent it if you like the post-Tarantino hyper-grit type film

ALL I WANT TO DO aka STRIKE!--Sarah Kernochan (1998)
this is probably a movie for teenage girls, but I rented it because I'm fond of Kirsten Dunst; it's about an all-girl's school in the 1960s; when the girls learn that they're supposed to merge with a boy's school they become saboteurs; I really enjoyed it; fun

AN UNFINISHED LIFE--Lasse Hallstrom (2005)
another good film from Hallstrom; I really like Robert Redford too; this movie reminds me that resentment is like drinking the rat poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die; Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman; Jennifer Lopez wasn't bad; nice film

DREAMER--John Gatins (2005)
this is the "INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY" DREAMER about a horse and, more importantly, the relationships between fathers and their children; I thought the casting of wonderful Kris Kristofferson as Kurt Russell's father was genius, it really worked; it's a family film and I loved it

IN HER SHOES--Curtis Hanson (2005)
after BAD INFLUENCE, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, and WONDER BOYS, why not see a Curtis Hanson film? turns out this is a pretty good movie; I thought Shirley MacLaine was terrific; I admit that I was touched when the slacker sister, Cameron Diaz, read poetry to an old guy in a retirement home (by the way, the poem was "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop); right after that, she's called "smart" for the first time in her life and it has an impact; then, at the end, they use one of my favorite e.e. cummings poems, "i carry your heart" which Michael Hedges put to music in 1990; I was hooked

GAME 6--Michael Hoffman (2006)
I love the textures, characters, and dialogue of this film; Michael Keaton is a playwrite who is more concerned with game six of the World Series and specifically the Boston Red Sox than opening night of his best play; Robert Downey, Jr. as a ruthless critic was great

GRIZZLY MAN--Werner Herzog (2005)
a documentary; this is about Timothy Treadwell, a guy who lived with bears in Alaska; Treadwell is insane; I don't mean insane like "brave and crazy" either, I mean insane; this is like watching a train wreck

DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN--Darren Grant (2005)
I cannot believe I rented this; I thought it was a dumb "Big Mama's House" type movie with fart jokes and then a friend told me it was "good" and "sweet" too; the morals in this film are wonderful and I found myself endeared to the values: forgiveness, redemption, service, and people dating who actually don't have pre-maritial sex

--Sam Mendes (2005)
after AMERICAN BEAUTY and THE ROAD TO PERDITION, I really wanted to see this Mendes film; I thought it was okay; I liked how it did show me the isolation a Marine felt during the Gulf War, but it's not among the great war films like FULL METAL JACKET

LORD OF WAR--Andrew Niccol (2005)
Nicolas Cage is a gun runner; I loved the political angle and the nihilistic take on global politics, but there is too much narration and, I thought it was just okay

BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS--Stephen Fry (2004)
I admit I rented this for a few moments of Peter O'Toole; based on a popular and funny English novel, "Vile Bodies" this is a film about the upper class in the 1930s; Jim Broadbent is, as always, wonderful

PHONE BOOTH--Joel Schumacher (2003)
I finally rented this because a few people tried to tell me that I would like it even though I had sized it up as a dumb action film (Schumacher); it was mildly interesting

ANACONDA--Luis Llosa (1997)
heard that Jon Voight was classic in this (as always, he is) and I admit to liking Jennifer Lopez; this was just a creature feature

THE PINK PANTHER (Remake)--Shawn Levy (2006)
this one the boys picked out and insisted upon; I wish I would have forced them to rent the original from 1963 with Peter Sellers; nothing against Steve Martin, but Sellers is just too great to have somebody else do Clouseau; mildly funny, but why remake this?

MR. & MRS. SMITH--Doug Liman (2005)
what a waste of time; I did not like this movie and I really do like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt; this was just a dumb chase movie; there was one funny line when they were confessing their lies to each other and Pitt says, "I knew I saw your dad on Fantasy Island!" That was it

BEE SEASON--Scott McGehee & David Siegel (2005)
some people liked this movie; trying to see what I didn't get, I looked up Ebert's review and he loved it, his highest rating and I totally disagree; I couldn't stand this movie, maybe you want to rent it and see if you can? the character development sucked beyond belief; are we supposed to hate Richard Gere like his son? he wasn't so bad and wasn't so great; it's about a spelling bee and I could care less if the main character won; I didn't "get" anyone nor did I care about them

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