Movie Pre-Judgments (2006)
by Rusty W. Spell

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29 Dec 2006

Black Christmas -- Another horror remake, this time of the Bob Clark Christmas horror (not A Christmas Story: the other one).  This one has nothing original going for it, but it does have some hot gals such as Michelle Trachtenberg and Lacey Chabert.

Children of Men -- A good sci-fi premise (women can't have babies anymore) in a movie that's too weak to support it.

Dreamgirls -- This would be okay if it were an ABC movie of the week or something.  Also, seems like it was made in 1983.

The Good German -- Steven Soderbergh's one trick in this movie (making it look more or less like Casablanca) actually tames him a bit in a good way and allows for a not-too-shabby movie.

Notes on a Scandal -- A really good movie with some nice complications and a great performance from both Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.

The Painted Veil -- Surprisingly dull movie starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts.

Pan's Labyrinth -- It's Guillermo del Toro's best movie, but that's not saying much.  Pretty to look at, and maybe interesting if you've never seen a fantasy movie before.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer -- Weird, kinda good, not great, but at least somewhat original.

22 Dec 2006

Curse of the Golden Flower -- Yimou Zhang does it again: makes the movie version of the worst kind of prog rock.

The Good Shepherd -- A pretty good thriller with some fun acting by some of the biggest.

Letters from Iwo Jima -- Told from the Japanese point of view, which makes it interesting for 30 seconds before becoming just like every other war movie.

Night at the Museum -- It's got that shitty stuff that you always see in shitty family-friendly Shawn Levy movies, but Ben Stiller and some Jumanji-style effects make it somewhat worth seeing.

Rocky Balboa -- For better or for worse (depending on your point of view), this looks almost exactly like a Rocky movie from years ago.  Nothing special here, but if you enjoyed the first ones, at least you'll ride the wave of nostalgia the entire movie.

Venus -- Kind of a typ movie, but Peter O'Toole makes it worth watching.

We Are Marshall -- Overly-sentimental movie directed by... McG?  It's his first non-Charlie's Angels movie and after seeing it I hope he returns to more flashy stuff in the future.

15 Dec 2006

Charlotte's Web -- Sigh.  Where's Paul Lynde when you need him?  The classic story is given the Babe treatment, with much more fart jokes.

Eragon -- Sort of a video game version of The Lord of the Rings fused with Star Wars.  Fun enough to watch, but nothing great.  Will be laughed at in less than five years, and then embraced in fifteen by young folks.

The Pursuit of Happyness -- Good-enough movie with Will Smith and his kid.  I wouldn't watch it twice though.

8 Dec 2006

Apocalypto -- Mel Gibson has become comfortable with his insanity.  He was always a little crazy, and then -- over the course of making The Passion -- got completely ping-pong-ball-eyed nuts.  I have to be honest: I almost admire how he's settled into his beliefs and doesn't care what he says or who he offends.  Take Apocalypto, the movie with the silliest-sounding title this year.  It's completely in the Maya language.  It has nothing to do with anything, just something Mel wanted to do.  He's paying for it himself.  It's more or less ridiculous.  I could barely sit through it.  But here it is: it exists.  Um, in conclusion, there you go...

Blood Diamond -- Don't necessarily expect this to be the movie to once and for all make people feel so guilty about the bling on their fingers that they stop spending thousands of dollars for little shiny rocks.  In the end, this is just another "I gotta find my son!" movie with a bunch of explosions and a smooth-talkin' Leo DiCaprio.

DOA: Dead or Alive -- Fun but goofy (or goofy but fun, I'm not sure) video game adaptation.  The usual martial arts tricks-n-stuff, but with even more jokes about girlies and their underwear.

Family Law -- With the exception of this being an Argentinean film, there's nothing to separate it from any dumb American movie about fathers not getting along with / being a lot like their sons.

The Holiday -- For the most part, a typical romantic movie.  Cameron Diaz keeps it typ, Jude Law keeps it double-typ, and even Kate Winslet keeps it sorta typ.  Jack Black is another story; he manages to take these stupid lines and situations and give them jazz (and it's great to see him as a romantic handsome man paired up with a beautiful woman).  But even the presence of JB can't save it.  Unless, of course, you like this sort of thing.

Unaccompanied Minors -- If you gotta watch a kids movie this Christmas, make it this one.  It's not the best, it's not perfect, a lot of it is just dumb, but it's more funny than it has to be, the kids are okay, and it's got some folks like Louis Black to keep things hoppin'.

1 Dec 2006

The Nativity Story -- Lots of it is cheesy, but no one's done a solid telling of the Nativity story yet, so it's about time.  It's covered pretty nicely (and Biblically, if that matters to anyone) and will make lots of folks happy.

10 Items or Less -- Really great relationship between Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega in this unique movie where the loose plot and home-y camera work allows the actors to really develop characters.  You haven't seen Morgan Freeman like this outside of real life.  Watch it or rent it.

3 Needles -- Eh.

Turistas -- Too lame to say much more than it's lame.

Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj -- Though this doesn't even have the character of Van Wilder in it (it stars his protégé Taj), in many ways it's actually better than the first one.

24 Nov 2006

Bobby -- Dull, dismal telling of the RFK assassination by Emilio Estevez.

Deck the Halls -- Good enough for family fun, but mostly goofy in a bad way.

Deja Vu -- It's better than most Tony Scott films, but in the end still a kinda dumb action thriller.

For Your Consideration -- Another Christopher Guest movie with his usual cast, but this one strays a bit from the formula he began with Waiting for Guffman (luckily--I was getting bored of it, and it's already become its own genre: see Confetti from earlier this year).  Funny stuff, even if it still looks like it's too easy.

The Fountain -- Lord of the Rings meets... What Dreams May Come?  Anyway, the visuals would have been impressive ten years ago, and there's not that much more going for it.

The History Boys -- Movies have been trying to repeat Dead Poets Society since 1990, usually suffering for it, but this one does about the same thing, only even more successfully and smartly (since Dead Poets was, ultimately, kinda stupid).  It won't change your life, but it's not insulting either.

Tenacious D in "The Pick of Destiny" -- The material from their live shows, albums, TV episodes, and other stuff gets thrown in and blobbed together for this big movie.  Unfortunately, they also decided it would be good to have an overall plot involving a quest for a magic guitar pick, and you know how plots mixed with adlib-based comedy goes.  But the movie doesn't suffer too much.  KG and Jables rock pretty hard, and Liam Lynch's directing style makes you think you're watching an 80s movie (and the fact that he didn't do it on purpose makes it okay).

Unconscious -- Pretty funny movie that crosses Sigmund Freud with Sherlock Holmes.  Worth seeing.

17 Nov 2006

The Aura -- Kind of a dumb crime/psychological genre movie about the nature of reality and all that crap.

Candy -- The usual stuff about college kids who want to have sex while doing heroine.  Exposes the blah blah blah.

Casino Royale -- Another Bond (Daniel Craig), another Bond movie: this one a remake.

Come Early Morning -- Joey Lauren Adams writes and directs a dud.  A bit too "huck-huck" for my tastes.

Fast Food Nation -- Richard Linklater jumps on the bandwagon of attempting to "prove" that fast food isn't exactly good for you.  (In this one, there's doo doo in the hamburgers.  Wow.)  It's fiction, and somewhat of a comedy, so that saves it a little, but not much.

Happy Feet -- Another dumb kids movie.

Hood of Horror -- Bojangles himself (Snoop Dog) does a black version of Tales from the Crypt (sorta--he plays the "Cribkeeper" anyway).  Fun with exploiting your own race!

Let's Go To Prison -- Really funny comedy from Bob Odenkirk.  Go see it.

10 Nov 2006

Copying Beethoven -- Dismally average and predictable movie about Beethoven's copyist.  Starring the one and only Ed "Who Gives a Crap" Harris.

Fuck -- Easy-to-make talking-head movie (starring the usual suspects, more or less) about the word fuck.  Interesting for about three seconds, but then starts having the same dulling effect The Aristocrats did, and even more redundant.

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus -- Steven Shainburg's follow-up to Secretary has the same sensual touch and another interesting story (the creepy photographer Diane Arbus).  Good that he went with a fictionalized version of her life, since true biopics tend to suck.  Starring Nicole Kidman and well worth seeing.

A Good Year -- Ridley Scott directs Russell Crowe in a boring movie with a dull message (some things are more important than money).

Harsh Times -- Christian Bale somehow ended up starring in a movie that should have starred Vin Diesel.  Confusing.  The movie is lame.

The Return -- Another average make-you-jump-with-slightly-creepy-stuff Sarah Michelle Gellar horror movie.

Stranger Than Fiction -- Luckily, this movie about a guy (Will Ferrell) who hears his life being narrated by an author (Emma Thompson) doesn't take itself too seriously.  In fact, it's less serious than something like The Truman Show.  That makes it all okay, since there's plenty about the movie that would simply be annoying if it didn't -- 80% of the time -- just go for comedy.  A trifle, a decently-funny trifle, and somewhat worth seeing.

3 Nov 2006

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan -- Other than some unfortunate bad direction by Larry Charles, this is a really funny movie.  The Ali G movie was a disaster, but Sacha Baron Cohen isn't making the same mistakes with this one.  Go see it in the theater and then watch it on DVD until you know every line (or at least the title).

Flushed Away -- Not as horrible as most kids crap since it comes from the Chicken Run guys, but still mostly for kids.

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause -- As the title puns get worse, so do the movies.

Volver -- Penélope Cruz is a better actor in her native tongue, and doubly so when acting for Almodóvar.  Pretty good movie.

27 Oct 2006

Babel -- One of them serious movies where everyone's yelling in various languages.  Not bad, not great.

Catch a Fire -- Tim Robbins gets a really good dialect coach for this average movie.

Death of a President -- Interesting-enough fake documentary about the assassination of George W. Bush.  Takes itself seriously, though doesn't have too much to say.  Premise and execution is better than movie itself, if that makes any sense.

Saw III -- Saw: shit.  Saw II: shit shit.  Saw III: shit shit shit.

Shut Up and Sing -- Pretty good (if predictable) documentary about the Dixie Chicks and their "war" with the president of the U.S.A. and its less, um, enlightened citizens.  You get little gems like "Freedom of speech is fine; just don't say what you think in public."  The alternative title for this movie should be Knowing Your Fanbase: A Guide To Not Getting Death Threats While Singing Country Music.

20 Oct 2006

Flags of Our Fathers -- Interesting for a while in that it focuses more on the picture and the people in it, but then falls into the same traps that most war movies do: glorification of death, sweeping music, slow motion, symbolic gestures, small town folks soldiers are meant to protect, ideas of what it means to be a hero, etc.  Only about six minutes worth of anything remotely subversive.

Flicka -- The usual horse formula, but will do the trick for little girls, if you know what I mean.  (Something much more dirty was written in place of that sentence, but even I can censor myself occasionally.)

Marie Antoinette -- Sofia Coppola is pretty much three for three, though this one will not appeal to exactly the same tastes of her first two movies.  What we have is a sort of punk rock version of the history.  Some of the period piece clichés are here, but not enough to be annoying, and Sofia has made this time her own and translated it well for a modern, young audience.  Go see it or rent it.

The Nightmare Before Christmas -- In 3-D!  The same movie, with glasses that hurt your eyes.  Kinda pointless, but there you go.

The Prestige -- Lots of magician movies this year.  We had The Illusionist; we had that Woody Allen one, and -- like that one -- this one has Scarlett Johansson.  It's also got Christian Bale, Michael Cane, and director Christopher Nolan, so it's somewhat of a Batman Begins reunion.  Hugh Jackman rounds things out.  Okay, so is it good?  Pretty much.  It's not bad anyway.  I'd recommend renting it.

Running with Scissors -- Mostly annoying, though it grows on you after a while... only to leave a bad taste in your mouth when it's over.  A bit Royal Tenenbaums-y (in a bad way), down to the casting of Gwyneth Paltrow.

Sleeping Dogs Lie -- Bob Goldthwait milks the central shocker of the movie (that someone's girlfriend had sex with her dog) almost as much as Blake Edwards' Skin Deep did with the glow in the dark condoms back in the 80s.  In the end, this is a romantic comedy, and kind of serious (in a Shakes the Clown sort of way), and stands out from its genre, but is not necessarily a good movie in general.

13 Oct 2006

Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker -- A more grown-up version of Cody Banks and Spy Kids, but too much of a rip of every other "adult" spy movie to make a real impact.

Deliver Us from Evil -- Hard-to-watch documentary about admitted child molesters (specifically priests):  talking about it, screaming with remorse, discussing their sickness, etc.  Yeah, again, just kinda hard to watch.

Driving Lessons -- The red-head kid from the Harry Potter movies makes a cute but dull film in the vein of, I dunno, Madam Sousatzka.

The Grudge 2 -- Dumber than the first one, and without Buffy.

Infamous -- Another version of the Truman Capote story.  This one's actually a little better, if you're in to comparing things.  But neither are that great.

Little Children -- You've seen this kind of thing before (suburban young couples with young kids, getting involved with each other due to their "enlightened" ways of thinking: movie preaching its morality against characters), but it's not too bad.

Man of the Year -- Decently funny political comedy, kinda like a more liberal version of Dave with faster jokes.  Robin Williams does a good job in a classic Williams role (one that doesn't require him to grow a beard and be moody).

The Marine -- For one of those wrestling movies (as in, it stars a wrestler and is put out by the WWE), it's not too bad.  The explosions and stuff are pretty nice and keep the movie interesting.  The jokes work well enough also.

Shortbus -- The writer/director of Hedwig makes what is essentially a fictionalized version of HBO's Real Sex, though not quite as gross and annoying.  It prides itself on being different, innovative, uncensored, etc., but it doesn't live up to its own self-hype.

6 Oct 2006

The Departed -- Lots of big wig male actors (Nicholson, DiCaprio, Damon, Wahlberg, Sheen, Baldwin) get together to make a movie that's not astounding but kinda good.

Employee of the Month -- It tries to mimic the success of Office Space, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and any number of other winner comedies of the last five years or so, but doesn't fare so hot.  It's watchable, though, and Jessica Simpson doesn't seem annoying in this one.

The Queen -- Holy crap this is a good movie.  The first startling thing is that someone has finally made a film in which Queen Elizabeth II is not just a cartoon character waving her arm around.  The anachronistic nature of the monarchy in England is dealt with in this movie, but not in the usual and obvious ways.  Everything is shown the proper amount of respect and understanding, and Helen Mirren plays a person you really care about.  On the other side, Michael Sheen is a perfect Tony Blair: not necessarily in appearance (though that's fine too), but in the way he carries himself and represents the more "modern" England.  Go see it.

So Goes the Nation -- The usual Liberal shit.  In ten or twenty years we'll look back on this as "one of these kind of movies."  One of the drawbacks of the cheapness of the digital video camera.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning -- It was pointless enough to remake Texas Chainsaw the first time, but this is essentially a remake of the remake.  Don't fall for the whole "the beginning" crap.  Those always suck, and this is no exception.

29 Sep 2006

Facing the Giants -- A religious football movie.  The retarded opposite of Jesus Camp (below).

The Guardian -- Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner suck each other's dicks while almost drowning.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints -- More men wearing tank-tops than you can shake a stick at.  Typical stuff.

Jesus Camp -- You'd expect a movie called Jesus Camp to be either an all-out comedy like Saved or -- hearing it was a documentary -- to be a movie that "exposes" or mocks religion among children.  Luckily, this is neither.  And it's not a wack-a-doo religious movie.  It's somewhere in the middle, and that's what makes it actually interesting.  It's one of the few discussions about religion lately that treats it objectively and that seems to understand what people are going through.  Whether you are or aren't religious, you'll be a little moved by the movie (and if you're not, by the way, you'll probably be a little jealous of these kids, so be warned).  Refreshing in a lot of ways.

The Last King of Scotland -- Forrest Whitaker is pretty awesome as Idi Amin, but the movie itself isn't that great.

Open Season -- Another dumb kids' movie.

School for Scoundrels -- Todd Phillips does a pretty good job at directing funny stuff these days.  Billy Bob Thornton does his thing, and Jon Heder finally gets a good role (remember: Napoleon Dynamite wasn't a good role) to show that he can actually be funny.  Lots of nice violent humor, and plenty of side characters played by really funny people.  Even Sarah Silverman pops up.  Go see it at the theater if you need a big screen laugh, and definitely rent it.

22 Sep 2006

All the King's Men -- The Robert Penn Warren book.  Southern stereotypes (not just acting: setting, lens filters, everything) will overshadow anything resembling goodness.

American Hardcore -- Anything still using "American" in the title is lacking in originality, and this is a somewhat bland look at hardcore music of the 1980s.

Fearless -- I hate Kung-Fu movies, but if you wanna see Jet Li in his last action movie (supposedly), here you go.

Feast -- Henry Rollins stars in two movies this week: this and American Hardcore.  I'm not sure which one is more bland.

Flyboys -- Those old-timey planes sure do look cool in these action scenes.  Watching those almost made the movie worth it.  The anachronistic talking was also kind of fun, though since it was using the usual Top Gun clichés, it also made it just dumb.  When the movie doesn't get too sentimental or gaywad-ballsy, it's fine.  It's unique, anyway.

Jackass: Number Two -- If you're in the mood for gay porn...

Renaissance -- Somewhat-annoying rotoscoping and a kinda boring story.

The Science of Sleep -- Thank god this is not a Charlie Kaufman movie.  It's not a perfect one even still, but it's fun to watch: the visuals will make you forget that it's just a simple (and kinda boring) love story.

15 Sep 2006

The Amateurs -- Also known as The Moguls.  More funny than it should be, and Ted Danson is more funny than he should be... or ever has been.  Jeff Bridges carries the movie nicely.

Aurora Borealis -- Donald Sutherland does his best with this messy, boring movie.

Beer League -- Not to be confused with Beerfest.  This one's actually occasionally funny, thanks to 1980s-style crass jokes and language.

The Black Dahlia -- A pretty good cast, a slick creepy Hollywood story, and some slick direction from Brian De Palma.  It's not too shabby.  But I still wouldn't recommend rushing out to see it.  DVD should be fine.

Confetti -- The British version of a Christopher Guest movie.  They took his mockumentary style and subject matter (people obsessing over odd things or quirky niches--here, theme weddings) completely.  This theft is a good thing, since this is a funny movie with funny people.  Could easily sit next to Waiting for Guffman.

Everyone's Hero -- What could have been a simple, and pretty good, kids movie could not resist the temptation of "whazzup!" humor and fart jokes.

Gridiron Gang -- As my girlfriend put it when she saw this one with me, "It's just The Longest Yard without the comedy."  Add to that The Rock and you get: unbearable.

The Ground Truth -- Another "hey guess what, the military and war sucks" documentary.  Either a billion of these will do some good or a billion of them will desensitize us even more and give us a place to vent our feelings about it without actually doing anything.  Yay.

Haven -- A pile of elephant dump.

The Last Kiss -- Smarter than a lot of movies in this genre (pre-mid-life crisis, etc.).  Good job by Zach Braff.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon -- No real reason to watch this unless you know absolutely nothing about John's post-Beatles activism, since there's no new angle here and no new footage (aside from cheesy interviews with Geraldo, etc.).  The message "war is over if you want it" is still true as ever... and no one wants it.  Oh well.

8 Sep 2006

The Covenant -- Not great, but better than you'd expect.  It's got all the typical stuff at first, but then the typical stuff kind of makes you like it, and you eventually settle into the movie and more or less enjoy it.  A good blend of action, the supernatural, and teen stuff.

Hollywoodland -- Pretty good mystery movie about old Hollywood and the suicide/murder of the guy who played Superman on TV.  Everything's pretty interesting and the actors are great.  Too bad it's got such a generic title.

Idiocracy -- I wasn't able to see this movie because The Man didn't want me to.  But it's by Mike Judge, so I'll do what I usually don't do here: I'll go ahead and guess what it might be like even though I haven't seen it.  I'll "pre-judge," if you will.  So here goes.  I think it'll be really funny and great and that it will become a cult hit.

The Protector -- Someone said, "Hey, let's make a movie!"  And then they did.  Everyone put a lot of hard work into it.  Scripts were written, actors hired, miles of film used.  Stuntmen risked their lives.  There's even a guy who jumps off a building toward a helicopter--in slow motion, so you can really see how well he does it.  They spent lots of money.  Even Quentin Tarantino put his stamp on it, as he likes to do.  They called it The Protector.  Someone said it sounded "bad-ass."  So many shirtless guys.  So much jumping about on screen, against glass, through glass, things being punched and kicked and grabbed and yelled at.  Oh, and honor.  Family honor.  Asian family honor, the noblest kind, even if some of it involves a crime syndicate.  As much bowing and honoring as their is jumping and kicking.  No doubt someone lost his family while working on this movie: maybe got a divorce or perhaps both his parents died.  Someone will be in this movie as an extra and in no other movie in their lives and it will be special to them.  There's a lot going on with this movie.  I fell asleep during the first ten minutes, and when I woke up an hour into it, I forced myself to go back to sleep again so I wouldn't die of mediocrity poisoning.

Sherrybaby -- Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a bad mother that you're supposed to sympathize with.  Maggie does a really good job of getting right the stupid skank who deep down wants to be a good mom but deeper down is just a rotten person who doesn't deserve to be a mother at all.  But the movie is incorrect with its ideas.

1 Sep 2006

Crank -- Jason Statham always gives a bit of action cool to the movies he's in, and this one is pretty good.

Crossover -- Hey, folks, it's a basketball movie.  I enjoyed it about as much as I enjoy watching sweat dry on another dude's arm after a long game.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated -- Really interesting movie about the MPAA's rating system and why it's so secretive.

Lassie -- A very good Lassie movie, with a leading little boy who's as good of an actor as he is cute.  Great Scottish accents.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles -- Yimou Zhang has bored us with action movies like Hero and House of Flying Daggers and now he's boring us even more by taking out the action element altogether.

The Wicker Man -- Another 1970s horror remake, but this time by Neil LaBute.  He's got some interesting things up his sleeve.  The pacing is really nice and builds up to some truly creepy stuff.  Netflix the original then watch this one.  You'll get used to Nicholas Cage.

25 Aug 2006

Beerfest -- The Broken Lizard guys make their worst movie yet.

How To Eat Fried Worms -- Kids ate this book up (pun intended? you tell me) when I was in elementary school.  The movie should be pretty fun for fourth graders.  Only one or two modern-day references to suck it up.

Idlewild -- OutKast's makes their own Purple Rain.  It's got some fun direction and, of course, fantastic music.  If you, like me, love Big Boi and Andre 3000, run run run.

Invincible -- Looks like Marky Mark is making another Rockstar-type movie where he dresses goofy.  Football fans might like it.

The Quiet -- Elisha Cuthbert wears cheerleader outfits and her dad has a fetish about it.  Yay!  Not a good movie, but bound to be somewhat of a cult hit.

18 Aug 2006

Accepted -- Decent-enough teen movie.  "Ask me about my wiener" will be on everyone's lips for at least three weeks.

Factotum -- Based on a Charles Bukowski novel, which means it's a little interesting but mostly annoying.  Should appeal to the college crowd, especially the writery types.

The Illusionist -- Visually different, but ultimately disappointing, movie starring a miscast Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti in a role where he doesn't have to be a sad sack.  Not bad for renting.

Material Girls -- Hilary Duff and her sister do a movie version of The Simple Life (basically): minus anything interesting.  It's boring, especially for the teen market it's trying to get.

Queens -- Almodóvar it ain't.  Another gay movie that relies solely on its gayness it is.

Snakes on a Plane -- I recommend seeing this movie as soon as you can, while it's still legal to have this much fun.

10th and Wolf -- Dumb mob thing.  Giovanni Ribisi is about the only good thing about it.

Trust the Man -- Some sparkly moments with Julianne Moore, but otherwise boring couple stuff.

11 Aug 2006

Conversations with Other Women -- Two good actors -- Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart -- star in the usual romantic crap.

Half Nelson -- One of the better in the cross-genre of "teacher who makes a difference" and "teacher who is a drug addict" movies, largely thanks to Ryan Gosling.

House of Sand -- The boring version of the kind of movie that gets nominated for best foreign film.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna -- I couldn't understand a word of it.

Poster Boy -- Another "issue" movie.

Pulse -- The first movie to really exploit our fear of wireless technology.  Or: the usual bland teen horror movie that barely makes sense.

Step Up -- Shit.  Unless you really like dancing.

World Trade Center -- Oliver Stone has nothing up his sleeve here, just playing a bunch of emotional music and worshipping firemen.  Haven't we seen enough of this already on TV?  I have no idea why this was made.

Zoom -- Pretty good for kids.  It's a Tim Allen movie, but one of the better ones.  Again, though, for kids.

4 Aug 2006

Barnyard -- Another dumb kids movie.  By Steve Oedekerk.

Boynton Beach Club -- Dumb humor with old people.

The Descent -- Some bad actor chicks go down in a cave.

The Night Listener -- Completely average thriller starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.

Quinceañera -- Muscle shirts abound.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby -- Anchorman part two.  That's both a good and bad thing.  Like the first, it's more or less funny, but not a comedy classic.

28 Jul 2006

America: From Freedom to Fascism -- In spite of its over-the-top (though still accurate) title, this is actually a pretty good argument.  It stands out among a lot of the more recent movies, and part of its thesis is that it doesn't matter who you elect, so it's not just another anti-W movie.  Like all good movies like this, what we ultimately feel afterward is the hope that we as individuals can stay under the government's radar enough not to -- you know -- get killed or something.

Another Gay Movie -- A really, really funny movie.  Someone was smart enough to make a gay movie exactly the same way a usual testosterone-drive teen comedy is made, right down to stealing lines from movies from Porky's to American Pie.  Lots of the funniest gays show up, including Scott Thompson and Ant.  You don't have to be gay to like this movie, but it doesn't hurt... unless you take it up the butt: then it hurts.

The Ant Bully -- Another dumb kids movie.

Brothers of the Head -- An interesting movie about conjoined twins who become rock gods.  Better than it should be.

John Tucker Must Die -- Betty Thomas makes okay movies when she gets a good script, but this wasn't one of them.

Little Miss Sunshine -- This, I hope, will be the transition movie between complete hipster bingo stuff and movies, which happen to be made by indie folks and former music video directors, that are actually good.  This one is an equal mix.  It's got the distanced color tones, the Wes Anderson symmetry, and all the other crap that we should all hate by now... but it's also got genuinely funny people (like Steve Carell) and other things that make it worth watching.  Rent it one day and pay attention to half of it.

Miami Vice -- A Michael Mann picture.  You either like him or you don't, I reckon.

Scoop -- Woody retained Scarlett Johansson and the British setting from Match Point, but he's back to his old Woody tricks otherwise--which is both good and bad.  The movie's got a good energy and the usual clever turns of phrase, and it's got some of the mystery fun that he's done before.  Nothing new here, but it's still better than Anything Else and that lot.

21 Jul 2006

Clerks II -- If you were in college and liked Kevin Smith in the 90s, then good for you.  If you find you don't like him anymore, then good for you.  You of course don't like Jersey Girl, and you don't even like the original Clerks anymore.  You won't like Clerks II either.  And the new college crowd isn't tuned in to this kind of comedy anymore, so it seems like this movie was only made for Kevin Smith himself, who's become a little desperate.  And here I thought I'd never have to see him get in that Silent Bob outfit again.  Oh well.

Lady in the Water -- M. Night Shyamalan gets the lovely Bryce Dallas Howard to come see his newest crap fest.  But you know what: his movies are so ridiculously put together that they're actually fun to watch.  Fun with frustration or something like that.  So go see it.  Whee!

Monster House -- Another dumb kids movie.  I think I'll just stick with this simple review from now on when these kinds of movies come out.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend -- This is funny enough, but it could have been better.  The number one flaw is that the effects already feel dated: as in, twenty years from now people will be saying, "Look at those cheesy early 2000s effects."  Everything all cartoony and computerfied.  Reitman should have used more organic effects like he did in Ghostbusters--they might be more difficult, but they still hold up.  Uma's character isn't that great, Luke Wilson's is better, and his friend's is the best.  The movie is worth seeing, but it's more the quality of an Evolution than a Stripes.

Once in a Lifetime -- Not-too-great documentary that focuses more on the time period its subject matter is set in (the 1970s, which here, boringly enough, means Studio 54, disco, etc.) than the subject matter itself (which is, bigger yawn, soccer).

14 Jul 2006

Edmond -- Mamet, Macey... it's okay.

The Groomsmen -- Good cast, boring story, one or two moments.  It's got a dullness that's livable.

Little Man -- When a "look what we can do" premise goes too far.  Just too weird.

Mini's First Time -- Completely awful.  Luke Wilson is the only good thing about it, and he's not even at his best.

The Oh in Ohio -- A little too hipster bingo for its own good, and has all the usual jokes about frigidity, vibrators, masturbation, etc., but Paul Rudd and Parker Posey make it watchable.

You, Me, and Dupree -- Forgettable.

7 Jul 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest -- If they go even one step further in over-the-topness, no one will like part three: the octopus-faced Davey Jones is the line that was barely crossed.  Other than this, the movie is pretty good fun and only a little less enjoyable than the first.

A Scanner Darkly -- Richard Linklater rounds up the Waking Life "animators" again (technically it's not animation: the animation was done by the real-life actors who were then simply drawn over with crayons) to tell a story by Philip K. Dick.  It's okay, pretty cool, but Keanu fucking Reeves is in it, and that man still pisses me off.  The best person to watch is Robert Downey Jr.

Strangers with Candy -- Like the show, this has just enough weird moments that make you laugh in spite of the fact that it's not exactly funny.

30 Jun 2006

The Devil Wears Prada -- The Devil is Prada.  Dumb movie.

Superman Returns -- The only real problem with this movie is that everyone will be comparing it to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man.  The Spider-Man comic was always sort of a parody of the uptightness of Superman, and the movie followed suit, but unfortunately you can't be too straight and upstanding in the 21st century so this ends up coming across a little parodic too--in the exact same ways Spider-Man did.  All of that would have been fine it weren't for Raimi's superhero coming out first, and it's even fine now.  The movie is fun, and it's better than all the Christopher Reeves Superman movies.  Brandon Routh is passable but dull, but the supporting cast rounds it out--even if Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor is just mimicking Hackman's bit.  Go see it in the theater.

Who Killed the Electric Car? -- Another movie to frustrate the helpless (read: all but 1% of us).  Well done, and more or less objective.

23 Jun 2006

Click -- Like a funnier version of Bruce Almighty with a better premise, better actor, and better jokes.  But still too sweet to be truly funny or good.  Rent it, though, and enjoy it for what it's worth.

The Hidden Blade -- Whatever.

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man -- A pretty well put together documentary.  Nothing revolutionary for Cohen fans, and of course you've got the obligatory appearance of Bono and U2 to mess it up, but it might make some newcomers buy an album or two.

The Road To Guantanamo -- One of the better political movies to come out.  It's primarily a drama, but uses some real life elements to get its point across (like archival footage of Bush and Rumsfeld).  Another one that'll make you go "blech" at what's happening in America.

Waist Deep -- Another "give me back my son!" movie, though not too bad if you enjoy that genre.

Wassup Rockers -- More proof that Larry Clark (director of Kids) is just kind of a tool.

16 Jun 2006

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift -- Another movie for my students to write papers about.  The third in the series had degenerated from the first and second, and you remember how stupid they were.

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties -- They wanted to call this A Tail and Two Titties since Jennifer Love Hewitt is the only reason to watch this lasagna belch.

The Heart of the Game -- In spite of the boring subject matter, first-time director Ward Serrill has made a not-bad documentary and will make a really memorable one if he gets a chance to film something more interesting.

The Lake House -- Sandra and Keanu create new romance mythology for dumb broads (no offense to dumb broads).

Loverboy -- In the hands of better people, this idea might have been a good one.  But instead it's Kevin (Shakin' His) Bacon directing wife Kyra in a movie that tries so desperately to be edgy.

Lower City -- Two friends, black and white, fight over a prostitute.  Be prepared for steamy, lusty boredom.

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green -- Meredith Baxter is the best part of this romantic comedy.  Hint: someone will be running to a wedding to stop their potential other from marrying a creep.

Nacho Libre -- More watchable than Napoleon Dynamite (though less quotable), though Jack Black isn't really allowed to be very funny behind the character he plays.  The story is dismal and the jokes are few.

Wordplay -- Word Wars for crossword puzzles, but with better production values and Jon Stewart... and also Bob Dole and Bill Clinton weighing in.

9 Jun 2006

Cars -- Gary Newman is rolling over in his grave.

The King -- This movie marks the moment when boring, preachy indie films couldn't get by simply on the steam of their indieness.

The Omen -- About the same as the original (a little fun, mostly stupid), just a little more annoying.

A Prairie Home Companion -- You're bound to like at least two or three people in the cast since they populated it with a wide variety of famous folks, from Tommy Lee Jones to Maya Rudolph to Lily Tomlin to Lindsay Lohan.  Robert Altman directs, and it is Garrison Keiller's baby, so it will be a little charming, a little dull, and a little funny.  Watch it as an alternative to a slow-acting sleeping pill that makes you feel older than you actually are.

2 Jun 2006

The Break-Up -- A romantic comedy that's actually funny, which as we all know is rare.  Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston are as crispy as ever.  Parts of this movie you'll hate, but just ignore those parts.

Peaceful Warrior -- Nick Nolte does an all right job as a non-Asian going all Mr. Miyagi, but the movie is kind of dumb.  Basically it's a film about physical therapy.

Thirteenth District -- Get this: the movie is set... four years in the future!  And yet it feels as if it's at least fifteen years old.  Typical action crap.

26 May 2006

An Inconvenient Truth -- Stuff about global warming that's probably true is unfortunately delivered by goofy Al Gore and a movie that uses hyperbole and scare tactics when it should be more matter-of-fact.  In the end, it's not exactly a movie so much as the fanciest slide show presentation you've ever seen.

Stagedoor -- You've basically seen this documentary already: some kids in some place doing some thing.

X-Men: The Last Stand -- More Halloween costumes.

19 May 2006

The Da Vinci Code -- Apparently this book was popular.  Har har.  The good news is that this movie is actually pretty thrilling in that fun decoder ring sort of way, and it's lacking a lot of the elements of the book that make crazy people in the airplane seat next to you talk about the story as "true."  Tom Hanks has a good presence throughout the movie and Ian McKellen provides the proper gravitas.  It's got a lot of the Ron Howard slop to it (kind of a shame that someone more competent/different didn't get this), so look out for that, but enjoy it for all it's worth.

Over the Hedge -- At some point, Steve Carell voicing a squirrel says "But I liked the cookie."  That's the line that got everyone out to see this movie (and that almost any dumb kids movie will make money, but that's a separate rant about the kids these days).  It's got the same "whazza!" humor that all of these computer things do, with just an ounce (an ounce mind you) of watchability.

See No Evil -- Dumb kids and a wrestler named Kane make a dumb horror movie.  Still, I wouldn't begrudge you for watching it on HBO one night in your pajamas.

Twelve and Holding -- Pretty close to being interesting, and almost completely ruined by the precocious girl character.

12 May 2006

Dead Man's Shoes -- Just shy of being an important movie.  Worth seeing anyway.

Down in the Valley -- Edward Norton plays a bad boy cowpoke in this okay movie that's got two or three good moments.

Goal! -- Another soccer movie.

Giuliani Time -- Kind of an interesting documentary about the former New York mayor, though suffers from some of the same problems that Fahrenheit 911 did (though not as much).  If nothing else, it's a good alternative look at the Giuliani you see on TV.

Just My Luck -- Pretty good for young girls.  It's got a few quirky little effects and things that make it stand out slightly from other pre-teen comedies.

Keeping Up with the Steins -- Kinda funny and sweet, mostly dorky.

Poseidon -- This remake of The Poseidon Adventure is almost like if you took all the gushy love crap out of Titanic and left the adventure stuff.  Which means it's pretty fun to watch for an action movie.

Sketches of Frank Gehry -- Frank Gehry is an interesting architect, and watching a movie about his stuff (and him talking about it) is good.  Sydney Pollack isn't the best director, but he pretty much does better here in his first documentary than he's done with his mostly-dismal fictional movies.

Wah-Wah -- Unfortunately, it's not a movie about the George Harrison song.  Instead, it's kind of a typical movie that stars Emily Watson and a bunch of other Oscar-nominated folks.

5 May 2006

An American Haunting -- Mostly cheesy, but when it gets going with the kinetics, it's not too bad.

Art School Confidential -- Terry Zwigoff directs another Daniel Clowes comic book adaptation.  This one has some of the same cool zazz as Ghost World, with lots less annoying moments.  Funny art jokes that aren't necessarily just for art students (though it doesn't hurt).  Recommended.

Crazy Like a Fox -- About as original as the similean title.

Hoot -- More gold-tinted sentiment from Walden Media.

Mission: Impossible III -- These movies seem downright quaint now.  As was the case with the first two, there's a bunch of slop on the screen that you almost immediately forget about once it's over.

One Last Thing... -- If you're in the mood for the most harmless movie you've ever seen...

The Promise -- Beauty is so boring.

28 Apr 2006

Akeelah and the Bee -- Another goddamn spelling bee movie.  Spelling bees are nothing but a time-wasting distraction (and unforgivable heartache) for smart kids who could be doing more productive things and this movie tries to pretend otherwise.  The movie also presents us with the shocking revelation that black people can be smart.  Almost as offensive as United 93.

Clean -- Nick Nolte and some boring stuff.

Guys and Balls -- A run-of-the-mill soccer movie that has gayness (and typical gay jokes) to help sell it.

The Lost City -- Andy Garcia has a dull vision (that you can tell he thinks is brilliant and important) in his first movie, with some spice added here and there by Bill Murray (who perks up a bit from recent roles) and Dustin Hoffman (who is fun to watch even when phoning it in, as he is here).

R.V. -- Not as bad as you might think.  It's got some fun Barry Sonnenfeld direction, Robin Williams is the right level of crazy (and not crazy), and it's one of the better National Lampoon's Vacation rips to come out.

Stick It -- Remake of Bring It On (same writer, who's now directing) with a bad girl and gymnastics.  Its downfall will be the meaningless title.

United 93 -- Too soon?  Yes.

Water -- It's two hours of water dripping.  Just kidding.  It's worse.

21 Apr 2006

American Dreamz -- Satire on Bush/Cheney, American Idol, and the apparent too-close-for-comfort nature of the two... but not even as smart as that sounds.  The movie's entertaining enough (Mandy Moore is kinda great in it), so it's perfect for some night when it comes on the Starz channel.

In Her Line of Fire -- They still make movies like this?  Okay.  Something your friend's dad will be watching one day on late night TV while you're waiting around in his living room.

The Sentinel -- For those what like anything labeled "thrillers."

Silent Hill -- Kind of a lame horror movie with some nice creepy video game style touches thrown in from time to time.

Somersault -- Australian snooze-fest.

Standing Still -- Dull version of those late 90s college-age movies about sex and marriage and love.  I fell asleep.

14 Apr 2006

Hard Candy -- Pretty cool movie that falls apart at the end (but don't they almost always?), but maintains a nice edge till then.

I Am a Sex Addict -- Ceveh Zahedi could be the next Woody Allen if more people would show his movies in the theaters (or release them on DVD).  In addition to Ceveh's deadpan-yet-lively and always-funny delivery, the movies themselves have the kind of risky (or risk-less) qualities that can (apparently) only be achieved by having no budget.  We'll see if he falls into the big pot of averagedom once he gets big, but until then, enjoy.

Kekexili: Mountain Patrol -- Save the antelope, etc.

Kinky Boots -- The point in history in which transvestitism officially becomes no longer interesting.

La Mujer de Mi Hermano -- Boring Mexican love triangle story.

The Notorious Betty Page -- Mary Harron continues her streak of flawed but interesting movies.  The thematic matter by this point is dull (Betty Page challenged and defined notions of female sexuality, etc. etc.), as is the actual biography of Page, but Harron somehow keeps you watching.

Preaching to the Choir -- "There is nothing more important than family."  Apparently movies like to say this.

Scary Movie 4 -- These movies weren't incredibly funny after the first one, but Zucker's handling of 3 was tons better than 2, and this one follows suit.  Seeing Ana Farris do Cindy Campbell again is worth anything, since she's one of the best goofy characters ever.  Rent it soon, because none of the jokes will make sense once you forget the very very very current references three years from now (as if they wrote the screenplay based on things they saw while watching VH1's Best Week Ever show).

The Wild -- Nondescript jungle animals fast-talk their way through another Disney steamer.

7 Apr 2006

The Benchwarmers -- Another from the "comedy of the pathetic" genre.  John Heder of Napoleon Dynamite is the funniest guy in the movie, since co-stars David Spade and Rob Schneider seem to have given up at this point.  Just watch Bad News Bears instead.

Friends with Money -- An okay movie with a cast charming enough to pull it off for some bleak night alone with your DVD player.

Lucky Number Slevin -- A Steven Soderbergh wannabe movie that is very slow going, has about ten minutes worth of cool stuff, and then ends with more slow going.

On a Clear Day -- Typical movie about guy who's down wanting to do something big, in this case to swim the English Channel.  The presence of Billy Boyd will only make you more depressed that you're watching it.

Phat Girlz -- Mo'Nique stars in another movie that's both a defense of corpulence as well as milking fat jokes for all they're worth.  You can have your (really big piece of) cake and eat it too!  The movie also has some African Americans making fun of actual Africans in a way that some might think racist, but I guess it must not be.

Take the Lead -- Another "teacher makes a difference" movie, this time with Antonio Banderas teaching ballroom dancing.

When Do We Eat? -- The title of the movie reminded me that I was hungry and I walked out of the theater.

31 Mar 2006

Adam and Steve -- Better than Brokeback.  Most of it is actually pretty funny, especially any scene with Chris Kattan and Parker Posey.

ATL -- Big Boi stars in this movie that already seems dated (not retro), like it's a 90s urban movie based on the conventions of 80s urban movies.  People are already saying, "Remember grillz?"

Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! -- The Beastie Boys prove that they haven't had any brains since 1992 (if then) by having this "innovative" idea of giving a bunch of kids video cameras to tape their shows.  And, yes, they did choose to use a semi-colon in their title.

Basic Instinct 2 -- Has a sense of awareness of its own sleaze and history and plays it up gleefully.  The movie will make you smirk a few times.  You'll accidentally watch it a few times.

Brick -- Pretty good supersleuth story that's gonna have high school and college kids giddy for years (and that's not an insult).  Adult detective thrillers are brought down to the high school level without losing any of the intelligence (and actually gaining some).  Recommended.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston -- Good news: this isn't some shitty shot-on-video documentary about rocks sweetest insane guy.  It's pretty good, and the footage from his early days of tape recording will bring slight chills to fans of his stuff.

Drawing Restraint 9 -- Fans of Bjork and bizarre images rejoice.  A movie directed by her husband featuring her music and a song by Will Oldham.  You'll barely be able to watch it it's so awful!

Ice Age: The Meltdown -- Computer animated pieces of shit saying "That's gotta hurt" and other feces.

Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School -- A lot of really good actors, a kinda average movie.

Slither -- A really funny, kinda creepy, pretty gross horror comedy starring my boyfriend Nathan Fillion (yay!).  I recommend it for movie night at home, at least.

24 Mar 2006

The Child -- A weird, not too bad, French movie about a couple who sells their baby.

Inside Man -- Spike Lee does best when he's not tackling those big boring issues, and this one is a decent little thriller.

Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector -- I guess Larry the Health Inspector was too confusing, or they couldn't come up with an actual cable guy plot.  Anyway, this is okay for what it is.  Expect the sequels to get into full blown Ernest P. Worrell territory.

Lonesome Jim -- Steve Buschemi directs another grim movie, though it does stand out a little more than the usual "indie" movie about washed-out colors and people who mumble.

Stay Alive -- "You die in the game, you die for real."  Uh huh.

17 Mar 2006

Church Ball -- You know that feeling you get when you're sick and watching a comedy and it's kinda funny but you're too sick to really laugh at it.  That's what this feels like when you're well.

Don't Come Knocking -- Interesting Wim Wenders movie with a good cast.

Don't Trip... He Ain't Through With Me Yet -- I never liked Steve Harvey, but he completely won me over with this stand-up performance that he gave to an arena full of Christians.  The tension of not being able to say even little things like "ass" ratchets up the performance, and every little word is given super-meaning.  The performer-audience dynamic is more important here than in any concert film (comedy, music, or otherwise) I've ever seen.

Find Me Guilty -- Our boy Sidney Lumet's newest movie stars an actor who's good enough that you don't realize until twenty minutes in that it's Vin Diesel (with hair).  It's not a great comedy, but it's worthy of being seen.

She's the Man -- It's what you think it is.  Amanda Bynes somehow makes you like her in this movie.

Summer Storm -- A gay movie in two out of three senses of the word (hint: it's not happy).

Thank You for Smoking -- Underutilized actor Aaron Eckhart is fantastic in this movie--which is not so fantastic, but it'll do on some night when you're looking for a script that's almost funny and almost clever.  It's so, so close to both.

V for Vendetta -- The Matrix boys are at it again with this average movie that has a few fun comic book stylizations.

10 Mar 2006

Ask the Dust -- Cliché ahoy!

Duck Season -- Really cute and fun Mexican movie that will remind you of the first time you saw Clerks, Breakfast Club, and other movies where being bored made you have the time of your life.  One day this movie will take over the world.  It's taken two years to creep up here past the border.

Evil -- Pretty decent Swedish movie with a few surprises.

Failure to Launch -- Failure to keep me interested for longer than two minutes at a time.

Game 6 -- Don DeLillo did a pretty decent job writing this movie, but Michael Hoffman's direction ruined it.  And that's how it all went down.

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things -- Asia Argento's directorial debut has the same subtlety as an early 90s slacker drug movie.  That is to say, none.  It's based on the novel Sarah by JT Leroy (the literary world's newest fake person) and treats it all very seriously.  Messy, messy.  But Asia is still my girlfriend.

The Hills Have Eyes -- One of the better of the new horror remakes, this one of the early Wes Craven movie.  In a handful of ways, its even more successful than the first.  Keeps a nice level of creepiness throughout (and terror based on reality and rational fears, rather than the supernatural), and has a good sense of color.

The Libertine -- The date on this was pushed back a bit (I saw it back in December).  It's a pretty kick ass movie, Johnny Depp as the Earl of Rochester in a period piece that feels almost futuristic.  Go see it.

The Shaggy Dog -- If you ever need to define the word formulaic to anyone, this is where to go.  And yet... it could have been a lot worse.  As family entertainment goes, it works pretty well.  There's nothing in it that will make you groan too loudly.  (And, yes, the trailer still uses both "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and that "bow wow wow, yippee yo, yippee yay" song.)

3 Mar 2006

Aquamarine -- Using all the mythology created for mermaids in Splash, we get this teeny-bop movie that -- for its audience -- isn't that bad.  The one playing the mermaid does a good job.

Block Party -- I thought it would be good, but this was surprisingly good.  Dave Chappelle has enough good ideas to last this entire movie, and Michel Gondry (and his editing crew) kept this bitch tight with the interesting, funny stuff.  It'll keep you smiling throughout, and it's got plenty of moments that are even touching.  Go see.

Deep Sea 3D -- Another one of these movies.  It's fine, whatever.

Joyeux Noel -- Remember that Christmas Eve in World War I when the enemy troops called a cease fire and got to know each other, the night immortalized in Paul McCartney's "Pipes of Peace" video from 1987?  That's what this movie is about.  It's only okay, more sappy than anything, but at least it's not another World War II movie.

16 Blocks -- Pretty good Richard Donner film that shows why Bruce Willis and Mos Def are cool guys.

Ultraviolet -- The question remains: will Milla Jovovich ever play someone who's not stylized beyond recognition as being a human being?  This is one of those types of movies that is probably fading in popularity, or at least I hope so.  I don't know if I can stand a solid ten years of The Matrix.  This one is no better or worse than any of the others.  A hint on how to tell this apart from Resident Evil?  That one's red, this one's blue.

24 Feb 2006

Doogal -- Computer animated retelling of the Lord of the Rings (sorta--anyway, Ian McKellan is a voice) in the "wassup!" genre.  It's just as dumb as all these other dumby dumb pieces of dumb.  Jon Stewart also does a voice, so expect a little creature on the screen who says the word literally too much.

Madea's Family Reunion -- The boring sequel to Diary of a Mad Black Woman.  I hope that comparison didn't make it sound like I enjoyed the first movie, cause I didn't.  Sorry, Maya.

Night Watch -- It's got a lot of energy and imagination, even if the delivery of the movie is kind of typical.  It's worth watching (especially since it's been out for seemingly five years or so now), though I'm not sure it deserves to be a trilogy (which it is going to be).

Running Scared -- Eh, it's okay.  The usual.

Sophie Scholl: The Last Days -- Good historical movie.

Tsotsi -- The biggest foreign movies over here are often the ones that seem like the typical American movies.  This is one of them.

Unknown White Male -- Cool documentary about a guy with a severe form of amnesia.

17 Feb 2006

Date Movie -- Oh, this could have been so much better.  But rent it anyway.  It's got a handful of good laughs, you'll feel good snickering, and Willow is beautiful (even when she puts on a fat suit).

Eight Below -- Okay, I'll give Disney this one.  It's got a lot of the usual trappings of one of their live-action animal movies, but this one has a little something extra going for it: maybe just it being a combination of so many of these dog movies that it comes out on the other side as something just a little new.  There is an actual sense of tension throughout making you care for the pups, so they did something right.

Freedomland -- Kind of an interesting story with a few surprises, though unfortunately the look and feel of the movie are somewhat typical.

The Second Chance -- Michael W. Smith himself stars in this Christian movie, though it has just as much in common with something like 8 Mile as anything else.  At any rate, it's boring.

Tamara -- Flash-forward to the year 2026, when a generation of 16-28 year olds rediscover this movie and cite it as one of the best ever made.  In 2006, anyone appreciating purposefully, gleefully amateur acting and a fun little horror script will appreciate it lots.  One of the best elements of the movie: a large amount of quiet.  Every scene isn't filled to the brim with noise and flash.  I'd rent it for a slumber party if I were you.

Winter Passing -- See "How To Make a Movie About a Writer."  Pretend that writer has become a Salinger-esque recluse who now has a daughter visiting him and Will Ferrell protecting him from the harm of the cruel, cruel world.  It tries hard to be knowing and important and fails.

10 Feb 2006

Curious George -- Perfect for the ages 2 - 6 crowd, it's got a good color pallet and it's more or less quiet in a pleasing way (a few annoying bumps, but not too many).  The whole thing has an old-fashioned feel to it, including (somehow) the Jack Johnson songs.

Firewall -- Harrison Ford stars in one of those movies that uses the word "hack" (as in computer hacking).  There are guns and a smooth-talking criminal and family threats involved.

Final Destination 3 -- Final destination?  The commode.

London -- Every now and then a movie comes along that we can all agree on.  No one will like this movie.  The people who made it will not like it.  There's nothing at all whatsoever to like.

Neil Young: Heart of Gold -- How many Neil Young movies do we need?  Anyway, for fans, this is shot nicely by Jonathan Demme.

The Pink Panther -- Sorry Steve Martin fans, Beyonce fans, and Pink Panther fans: it's just a dumb movie.  You will laugh four times, four mild laughs.  Decide for yourself if it's worth it.

3 Feb 2006

A Good Woman -- I don't mind a good Oscar Wilde quip, but this movie makes it so the quips are the movie--which might be okay even then, except that, where Oscar Wilde treated them as clever bits of humor, this movie treats them as golden wisdom.  It's like when people take Polonius seriously.  This isn't worth seeing even with Scarlett "She's Everywhere! She's Everywhere!" Johansson in it, and in fact you feel a little embarrassed watching her.

Something New -- If you're bored with "Zebras," the only word or phrase George Jefferson could come up with for interracial couples, then this is the movie for you.  (My personal favorite is "getting your swirl on.")  The movie is completely average, but Sanaa Lathan is worth watching.

Suits on the Loose -- You'd think at first that this is the newest line of movies making fun of religion, in this case the Mormons, but it's actually a movie put out by the Latter-Day Saints themselves.  Self-aware jokes are only mildly funny, and then eventually the big message comes in.  There are also so "wazzup" black jokes.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada -- Tommy Lee Jones' first time directing.  He made it all dusty.  I'm bored of dusty.

When a Stranger Calls -- "We traced the call: it's coming from inside the house!"  A remake of the first of these phone movies.  It's not fantastic, but it's got a good amount of suspense and the not-yet-famous star does a good job (probably because she's not-yet-famous).  Why not rent the original and make it a double-feature?  Make popcorn.  But don't get the kind where you actually pour the butter over, the kind where it comes in a separate bag, cause I got that once and it's kinda gross.

27 Jan 2006

Annapolis -- The one where that black guy in the military yells at the new peons and the woman in the military tries to prove herself an equal to men while the white man just falls sap-happy in love.

Big Momma's House 2 -- Kill me.

Bubble -- This movie is dispensable, but I applaud Steven Soderbergh for releasing this movie in theaters, on DVD, and on high-definition TV all at the same time (guess which one I didn't choose?).  He, like me, is fed up with movie theaters as the only option for new releases, and I hope other filmmakers follow his lead.

Imagine Me & You -- Nothing new here.  Don't even see it for Giles.

Manderlay -- Part two of Lars Von Trier's American Trilogy, this one replaces Nicole Kidman with a just-as-capable (and pitch-perfect as Grace) Bryce Dallas Howard (so much more talented than her father Opie) and James Caan with the always-welcome Willem Dafoe.  If you liked Dogville, you'll like this.  It's just as thought-provoking and satisfying to the intellect and soul.  You might cry.

Nanny McPhee -- Based on the books, Emma Thompson plays a character that's so ugly to look at that no one will want to watch the movie.

Roving Mars -- A bunch of excited NASA guys and a few boring shots of Mars.  In the IMAX format.

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story -- You guys have been waiting a while for this (I saw it a long time ago), but it's worth it, I assure you.  Don't miss.

20 Jan 2006

End of the Spear -- More like, end of the rear.  Haw haw.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World -- Worth seeing if you're an Albert Brooks fan, though his approach to comedy might seem too outdated to some.  The movie is slow and it won't make you laugh, but it's still good.  How does he do it?

The New World -- As big historical epics go, this isn't half bad.  It's got just a touch of something extra going for it.

Transamerica -- Felicity Huffman plays a man who cross-dresses, though nothing very mannish comes through, not in a transsexual way or any other way.  Besides that, the character is pretty good, even if the movie isn't.

Underworld: Revolution -- The first movie wasn't as good as one might have hoped.  The same can be said for this one.

Why We Fight -- Eugene Jarecki makes a better movie than his brother (Andrew, Capturing the Friedmans) and reminds us all that America is an evil empire--in smart ways, not dumb ways.

13 Jan 2006

April's Shower -- Man, they really do release the shitty-shits after Christmas, don't they?

Glory Road -- Josh Lucas seems like a Kevin Costner who can act here, so that's good, but the movie is nothing but one sports movie cliché after another (for starters).

Hoodwinked -- $5 to whoever can stop these kinds of movies from being made.

Last Holiday -- In which Queen Latifah reminds us that her welcome was worn long ago.

Tristan & Isolde -- This movie relies on its connection to Romeo and Juliet.  That's about all it has going for it.  Pity the movie.

6 Jan 2006

BloodRayne -- Get a load of these cool stars: Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Billy Zane, Udo Kier, Meat Loaf.  Unfortunately, the potentially-good (or at least cult-worthy) movie is dominated by a thick layer of slop.

Grandma's Boy -- Allen Covert, from all those Happy Madison movies, finally gets to star in his own.  The movie isn't bad if you can catch it on Cinemax or something.

Hostel -- Quentin Tarantino put his name on this thing and is claiming it as one of the best horror movies ever, though really it's just another movie about cutting people's fingers off.

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