Mike's Mostly Movies

October 2019

Truth or Consequences, N.M.

By tmichael on October 25, 2019 2:56 PM

Saw the recording of the drug heist gone bad movie Truth or Consequences, N.M. and I think it proves that Keifer Sutherland is better at selecting what he acts in then what he directs. With a surprisingly good cast including Sutherland himself, Vincent Gallo, Martin Sheen and Kevin Pollack, this movie wanders from place to place while trying and largely failing to build interest through character development. Without that tension, it ended up feeling like the final payoff wasn't worth watching the whole film.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 51.

Spider

By tmichael on October 23, 2019 3:24 PM

I watched this Ralph Fiennes movie, Spider, where he place an adult mentally ill person who has just arrived at a halfway house after being in a mental ward. He gives a good performance as far as I can tell, but it is a very slow moving picture as he experiences flashbacks to his youth where because his memory is so unreliable, it is up to the viewer to discern what really happened and whether that caused his illness or if it happened because of his illness.

I think it was a worthwhile movie, but in the end was not anything most people need to see so I don't really recommend it.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 66.

Sin

By tmichael on October 22, 2019 1:30 PM

Watched and old recording of the Gary Oldman/Ving Rhames movie Sin. It was designed to be an action thriller. It had its moments, but anything valuable about it was more than offset by the use of rape of a woman as a means of revenge between 2 characters. As a result, I will just say skip it.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 33.

September 2005

Serenity Part 4

By tmichael on September 28, 2005 7:41 AM

Last night I got to see Serenity. I loved it. Kathy, who came with me, also thought it was great.

I have a lot more to say about the movie, but for now, I simply recommend anyone that has ever enjoyed a sci-fi movie go see this one.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 96.

Serenity Part 3

By tmichael on September 26, 2005 6:03 AM

Oh what is Serenity you may ask?

Having not seen it yet, I will leave you with the official synopsis:

Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

Serenity Part 2

By tmichael on September 25, 2005 6:21 PM

Well the publicity machine for Serenity continues forward. I received email confirmation that I will be attending the screening of Serenity for bloggers on Tuesday.

The invite said be there at least 45 minutes in advance and that an invite did not guarantee seats. I wonder how early I will have to be there to get a decent seat. Check back Wednesday to find out how it went.

Serenity Part 1

By tmichael on September 22, 2005 4:01 PM

I just got word that bloggers are invited to a screening of Serenity. I am excited by the chance to give a review a movie that I have been anticipating from the moment I heard the cancelled Firefly TV show was going to made into a movie.

Check back Wednesday morning for my review. I am hoping for a rating of 100, but the TV trailers make me think that even for a fan of the show, it may only earn middle 90s.

August 2003

Kissing Jessica Stein

By tmichael on August 26, 2003 1:56 PM

I watched a recording of Kissing Jessica Stein. We had previously seen it in the theater and I was excited to get to see it again. The movie tells the story of a nice, funny, attractive single woman, who in the midst of a dating slump where she can’t seem to meet the right guy, starts a relationship with another woman. The movie is both funny and sweet in its depiction of someone who is looking for someone they can form a deep relationship with. The fact that the title character falls for another woman even though she is not really gay, is an interesting twist on the romantic comedy formula. The struggles that she faces as people notice that she seems to be very happy from being in a relationship, without revealing that it is a gay one is the source of much of the dramatic tension for the movie. I won’t give away how the movie ends, but I thought that it was ultimately realistic. If you enjoy a romantic comedy and don’t mind the lesbian twist this film takes, I think you will thoroughly enjoy it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 86.

Van Wilder

By tmichael on August 26, 2003 1:51 PM

We watched a recording of Van Wilder. Ryan Reynolds, the star, was previously on a sitcom, Two guys, a girl and a pizza place. I used to enjoy that show, so I naturally took to him playing basically the same character. This time rather than being a cool slacker college grad, he plays a cool slacker who has made being cool in college his goal in life, who is confronted by the fact that his father is no longer willing to pay his tuition.

I thought that the result was a mildly entertain slice of can’t college be cool. If you think you know what you are in for, you won’t be disappointed if you watch this movie when it happens to be on, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone making any effort to get to see it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 70.

Excess Baggage

By tmichael on August 17, 2003 8:04 PM

We watched a recording of Excess Baggage. Starring Alicia Silverstone as rich girl desperate for her father’s attention and Benicio Del Toro as a car thief who steals the car she has hidden herself in while faking a kidnapping for that attention, the movie is a fun if not terribly deep. Naturally stealing a car, but getting a teenage girl in the process destroys his simple criminal life.

Little in the movie ended up being surprising, but I thought that it was a entertaining enough romp for me not to regret having watched it. When it was released, I confused this with another rich daughter kidnapped movie, A Life Less Ordinary. That is one of my favorite movies, but this one is all right if judged on its own merits. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 68.

The Banger Sisters

By tmichael on August 15, 2003 8:55 PM

We watched a recording of The Banger Sisters off of cable. Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon star as a pair of former groupies. Sarandon’s character has grown into respectable middle age, while Hawn’s character is still trying to maintain the same attitude and outlook of their younger selves. When she needs some help, she seeks out Sarandon’s character.

Hi-jinks ensue as her presence threatens to destroy the carefully built lifestyle of her friend. In the end I found it to be almost an indulgent baby boomer struggle with a typical life story of one who would barely recognize their previous self and being undecided if they are happy about it.

The movie did have one scene I found really funny involving a set of picture that Sarandon had kept from their earlier life. In the end I found the movie wrapped things up a little too neatly for my taste. So on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 68.

K2

By tmichael on August 13, 2003 9:53 AM

I watched a recording of the mountain climbing movie K2. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, but never been an extreme sportsman or anything like it. I wonder in retrospect how that changed my perspective on the movie.

The movie tells the story of two lifelong friends who get a chance to climb K2, one of the world’s tallest and perhaps hardest mountains. I found it interesting to see how far people will go to test and overcome their limitations. I had a hard time relating to those who were willing to risk their lives to do so. That said for a non-climber such as me this was an interesting and exciting insight into the mountain climbing experience. The relationships and the drama that they build were also reasonably well done.

As long as you are interested in a movie based on mountain climbing, I doubt you could do much better. For that reason, I rate it a 74 on my scale of 1-100.

Hollywood Ending

By tmichael on August 10, 2003 9:34 PM

With a little trepidation we decided to watch a recording of Hollywood Ending. I have always wanted to enjoy Woody Allen movies more than I do. With the tabliodization of his life in the last 10 years, I have found it even easier to dislike them.

As a result I expected to agree with the reviews that described this as a new entry in a growing line of dreck. Instead, I was surprised to find it amusing. I wouldn’t describe it as a great movie, but once I gave myself over to the premise that a psychosomatically blind director could fake his way through the creation of a film, I enjoyed myself.

As a result I rate it a 76 on my scale of 1-100.

Snow Dogs

By tmichael on August 9, 2003 9:51 PM

Having some time to kill, we watched a recording of Snow Dogs. I guess I can say that it might appeal to someone looking for a successor to the low-brow Disney comedies of the 70s. There isn’t much to offend in this movie, but I found it too silly to really enjoy. I think most people will find better things to do with their time than watch this. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an innocuous 40.

Rollerball

By tmichael on August 9, 2003 7:38 PM

We watched Rollerball off of cable and I want that portion of my life back. Other reviews suggested that the movie had a hard time deciding whether to be incoherent, illogical or ridiculous. I believe that it succeeds in being almost equal parts of each. The worst part of the film is that I thought that it might at least be all right as an action movie, but that is where the incoherence comes in to play. I wanted to get some feel for the game of rollerball, but instead I was shown just enough to see why you would have to kill participants for anyone to care.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate this stinker a 25.

Life as a House

By tmichael on August 9, 2003 4:50 PM

We watched Life as a House off of cable. It is a story of a man who after being fired from his job and learning that he has a terminal illness decides to make peace with his son while finally building the house that he has always imagined having on a spectacular piece of oceanfront land. It starred Kevin Kline, whose work I generally enjoy, and Hayden Christensen of Attack of the Clones fame.

While it had its satisfying moments, I think that it tried to pack too many dramatic elements into the story and as a result it comes across as a little too melodramatic for my taste. As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 69.

Black Hawk Down

By tmichael on August 8, 2003 1:34 PM

Black Hawk Down was recorded off cable a while ago, and we finally got around to watching it. I am not sure how to summarize my thoughts about this movie, without mentioning that I saw it through the lens of current events in Iraq. That said, I don’t try to get overtly political on this blog. I save it for my politics blog.

I thought the movie was more of an action film, than I prefer from my war movies. It definitely shows some of the true heroism of the American soldiers fighting in Somalia. It also shows some of the horrors of war faced by those who face an enemy with such a divergent value system or set of motivations.

Unfortunately, I think that the entire question of why the United States was fighting in Somalia and whether it justified the bloodshed on both sides is a complex set of questions which this movie chooses to avoid examining them very closely. As a result, I see this film mostly as another example of how at the end of the day much of the fighting any foot soldier does is about himself and his buddies more so than any higher cause.

This film was good for what it was, but wasn’t what I was looking for. As a result, I rate a 73 on my scale of 1-100.

Kiss of the Dragon

By tmichael on August 7, 2003 7:59 PM

We recently watched a recording of Kiss of the Dragon. As is often the case, my perception of the movie was affected by the reviews I had heard before seeing the movie. At its core this is a Jet Li action movie. The reviews I had heard suggested that it was not a good movie. I guess I can concur with that judgment, but I thought that it would be a bad movie. This wasn’t the case. If anything watching this movie was something like watching a very average episode of a sitcom that I like. That’s not to say that it was a comedy, rather I meant that I knew the genre of film I was watching, it had a few enjoyable scenes that were interesting, funny or surprising, but in the end wasn’t one that I would recommend to others or go out of my way to see again.

As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 64.

Wild Iris

By tmichael on August 6, 2003 8:43 PM

We recently watched Wild Iris, which we had recorded off of cable. I thought that the movie starring Gena Rowlands and Laura Linney as a mother and daughter that live together with Linney’s son and run a wedding dress business from the house, was an overwrought bit of melodrama.

The movie did have a few scenes that I enjoyed, but the drama of the mother daughter relationship and each of their personal problems was a bit much for me. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 41.

Normal

By tmichael on August 6, 2003 8:39 PM

We watched the made for HBO movie Normal. It is the story of what a family goes through when the husband played by Tom Wilkinson decides that after many years of marriage and two children, one grown, one a teenager, he needs to undergo a sex change to be able to embrace his true self.

It is fascinating to watch as he deals with a variety of reactions from those around him. Most have a hard time accepting that his feelings about them have not changed, though he understands how their feelings about him do change. The movie deals well with questions of how this change affects his sexuality and the views of religion on such a choice.

I think the movie is more interesting because his wife decides to stay with him and support him, though she can not fully understand how he could truly need to go through this. One of the interesting parts of the relationship is how they interact leading up to Thanksgiving dinner. It is interesting because it brings out questions about gender roles versus traditional family roles.

Finally, there is one scene involving a potential suicide that I found to be an overwhelmingly powerful expression of love, that I might recommend the movie for it alone. Surprisingly compelling, I think anyone not turned off by the basic plot would enjoy seeing the movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 84.

The Snapper

By tmichael on August 6, 2003 8:36 PM

After long wanting to see it, I recently watched The Snapper with Kathy. We managed to catch it when it was being shown on cable. As I understand it this movie is part of a trilogy of sorts along with The Van and The Commitments. Each gives a glimpse of life in Ireland.

The Snapper tells the story of a young woman, who gets pregnant. The drama, however, is generated by her unwillingness to name the baby’s father. It is very well written and acted. I found it a story of courage, about someone who is willing to do what she thinks is right, even in the face of significant social pressure. Of course when the baby’s likely father is identified, suddenly there are a lot of people who probably wish the information had remained a secret.

I also enjoyed seeing the strength a family can give when it recognizes the value of giving that support.

Now I think The Commitments is more enjoyable, probably because of the musical themes in it, I found this to be a very good movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 79.

Heist

By tmichael on August 6, 2003 8:31 PM

We watched the David Mamet scripted movie Heist. I enjoyed it quite a bit. The film stars Gene Hackman as the leader of a loosely affiliated group of professional thieves, who is looking to retire. Others are trying to rope him into at least one more big job.

The film has most of the pluses and minuses of a Mamet script. The dialogue is readily recognizable as his style. The movie is also well within the traditional plot of this sort of film with surprising changes of direction and potential and real double-crosses. A good cast does a fine job throughout.

If you are looking for a good movie and like either Mamet or the genre, I am sure you would like this movie. I doubt you will love it however. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 78.

Daddy and Them

By tmichael on August 3, 2003 2:11 PM

We watched the made for cable movie Daddy and Them recently. It was an interesting character study of a very dysfunctional southern family.

I thought it did a good job of first tricking me into embracing a stereotypical view of “white trash” and then moving around to where I could see the inherent commonality of everyone as they struggle to overcome the obstacles in their lives. Billy Bob Thornton does a great job as both writer and actor in the movie.

I guess it just shows how shallow I can be that I got more enjoyment out of the funny part of the story. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 76.

July 2003

Identity

By tmichael on July 22, 2003 5:48 PM

We went to the theater to see Identity. Being a big John Cusack fan, I expected something worthwhile. I wasn’t disappointed. The movie is a classic type thriller with a group of people trapped by a storm in a run down motel in the middle of nowhere. There is a parallel story of a convicted murderer whose mental competence is being examined to determine if he can be punished for his crimes. In the motel, the characters are forced to try to figure out who they can trust as one by one, characters end up dead.

I found the movie tense and exciting. As he often does Cusack plays a sort of everyman that is easy to identify with. The way the movie plays out, is interesting, but not entirely satisfying to me, but I still enjoyed it quite thoroughly. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 84.

Spy Game

By tmichael on July 20, 2003 4:11 PM

We watched Spy Game off of cable. The movie stars Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, each a star of their generation known for their appeal to the ladies. Redford plays a CIA agent who is nearing retirement when he learns that Pitt’s character, who has worked for Redford many times in the past, is in trouble in China.

We learn the history of their relationship through a series of flashbacks that show how Pitt got into his predicament and what Redford is potentially sacrificing to help him. He of course has to do this while skirting the CIA rules as the CIA is more than willing to abandon Pitt for political reasons.

I found the movie interesting enough to enjoy seeing it once, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by it. I doubt I will see it again. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 77.

Get Over It

By tmichael on July 16, 2003 7:14 PM

We watched a recording of Get Over It. This was an unremarkable teen comedy. It was on the sweet side of the teen comedy spectrum, well away from the more crass or vulgar jokes of some others.

Two of the stars Kirsten Dunst and Colin Hanks are fairly appealing, but ultimately this movie covers no new ground and is fairly interchangeable with any other movie of the genre. For this reason, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 69.

Panic Room

By tmichael on July 15, 2003 10:33 PM

We watched a recording of the Jodie Foster Movie Panic Room.

As a straightforward thriller sort of movie, I guess it was fine, but I wasn’t as impressed as I hoped to be. The setup of a single mother locked in a panic room with her medicine dependant child while thieves attempt to get at a hidden cache of valuables locked conveniently in the room with them was a bit formulaic and overwrought for my taste.

As an aside, I may have been thrown off by my own misinterpretation of the commercials and trailers for the film. In them, the ceiling of the panic room is engulfed in a swirling blue something. For reasons that I can’t explain now, I thought that this was some sort of supernatural portal sort of thing. As a result I was really looking forward to seeing how they would write something like this into an otherwise straightforward plot. It turns out that they didn’t. What I thought was supernatural was in fact just the rapid burning of a gas build up.

As a result I was vaguely disappointed in the movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 69.

We Were Soldiers

By tmichael on July 13, 2003 4:21 PM

We watched a recording of We Were Soldiers. The movie stars Mel Gibson as the leader of an experimental army unit that is sent to Vietnam very early in the conflict. I thought that it was an excellent, but very unflinching in showing the violence of ground combat.

Inevitably, war movies give you more back-story about the soldiers on one side than the other. As a result one is drawn to hope for the success of the soldiers on that side of the fight. This movie is no exception.

This movie does, however, bring up the question of what is the true cost of the success of the protagonists. The story focuses on a battle in which the North Vietnamese Army lured the American unit into an ambush of sorts. Several of the Americans did see the battle coming. Despite long odds, the Americans prevail while suffering a large number of casualties. The irony of the situation is that a total catastrophe for the American troops might have made American political leaders reconsider the depth of American involvement long before Vietnam became a national issue.

The movie also has some gut wrenching scenes of the families left behind. I thought this was a tough but very good movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 86.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

By tmichael on July 13, 2003 4:01 PM

We went to the theater to see Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I had no real choice in the matter as Kathy has a major fascination with anything surrounding the phrase “Pirates of the Caribbean”. As a result she was looking forward to the movie since the moment she heard the title.

Luckily for me, the movie was fun. I thought it had a good plot, which provided an effective framework for some exciting battle and special effect scenes. The dialogue was funny and interesting without standing in the way of plot progress.

The movie is ultimately made by Johnny Depp playing one of the most unusual pirates of all time. He manages to both a swashbuckling hero type while simultaneously seeming to channel Cher. It is a very odd, but very compelling performance.

Some have said that the film is too long, but I think that it flows well if you get into it. Though Kathy would probably rate it higher, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 88.

Tortilla Soup

By tmichael on July 13, 2003 3:56 PM

We recently saw Tortilla Soup off of cable. I enjoyed this little family drama/comedy centered a family of a widowed father and his three adult daughters.

Much of the stories conflicts surround the family dinner table as the father is a chef and his food is his primary way of expressing himself. Each of the daughters has a different source of conflict with their situation in life, from the one pushed to succeed, to the one who has subserved her personal life to staying near her father, to the youngest whose new relationship is challenged by her family and here lack of role models.

I wasn’t overwhelmed by this movie, but there are much worse ways to spend your time. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 75.

Memento

By tmichael on July 8, 2003 11:28 PM

We recently watched a recording of Memento. This was the second time we had seen this great film, having previously seen in the theater.

This film has two very effective elements that are combined to wonderful effect. The first is that the protagonist is a man out for revenge for the murder of his wife who can’t form new memories. As a result he can remember anything that occurs to him over any significant length of time without making some record of it. His records include Polaroids, note, written records, and even tattoos.

The second important element is that the story is shown in reverse order. Thus the movie starts with the protagonist exacting revenge via murder, and then shows what lead up to the result. Now for the sake of clarity, the film doesn’t literally run in reverse, rather a scene occurs in the standard manner only to be followed by a scene that preceded the last one in chronological order.

The brilliance of this approach is that as audience members, we have no more information about facts in any given scene than Leonard, the protagonist. Only after seeing a scene is it revealed how Leonard acquired those facts that he used to make decisions. This highlights how a straightforward fact can be changed once one learns of the context surrounding it.

This structure allows one’s impression of Leonard to change several times as the movie progresses. Unless you are very adverse to violence in films, I highly recommend Memento. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 93.

Tape

By tmichael on July 6, 2003 8:43 PM

We recently watched the movie Tape. I thought the movie was great, but Kathy didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. She did still think that it was good though.

It is a film adaptation of a one set play. The entire movie is set in one low rent hotel room over a few hours with three onscreen characters. The three characters who have known each other since high school and there lives have diverged significantly. One is now an assistant DA, one is a filmmaker and one is a drug dealer.

The story starts by examining the relationship between the two men, the filmmaker and the drug dealer. In addition to the divergence of circumstances, there is a major difference of opinion over whether one of them raped the now assistant DA when they were in high school.

Once one is badgered into admitting to rape, it is revealed that the conversation has been audio taped. Shortly thereafter, the assistant DA arrives on the scene. Her law enforcement role raises the tension as the taper tries to manipulate the tapee.

The movie continues to explore the way different people build different narratives around one set of events.

If you enjoy these sorts of movies, I am sure you will enjoy this one. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 85.

Stuart Little 2

By tmichael on July 6, 2003 8:36 PM

We recently watched another sequel. This time it was Stuart Little 2.

Unfortunately, like most sequels, this one is a significant decrease in quality from the original. The title character is of course a talking mouse that lives with a human family as an adopted son and brother. This is a children’s movie. I am sure most kids that liked the original will also enjoy seeing more of Stuart’s adventures, but most adults will be a little bored as this one lacks the humor component that made the first one better.

The film did have some good special effects, but I can’t recommend it for adults. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 41.

The Brothers

By tmichael on July 6, 2003 9:15 AM

The Brothers was our most recent movie, and I have to say that I found the story of 4 men who are each trying to come to terms with what it means to be adults was an enjoyable experience. As professional and successful black men, they face some interesting challenges, ranging from their responsibility to their race when dating, to where to look for role models in how to interact with women, and on to their responsibility to serve as role models to younger men.

As the ensemble of actors plays these friends, they each go through overlapping story arches. Why not incredibly insightful, I always enjoy movies that seem to really provide a glimpse into the life of others. This is just that sort of movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 78.

Resident Evil

By tmichael on July 5, 2003 2:24 PM

We watched a recording of Resident Evil. I have to laugh at myself for actually watching another movie based on a video game. Ultimately I find it interesting that this crossover has in recent years been centered on games with female protagonists, whereas movies with male main characters are much more likely to be made into video games.

I think this might say something important about each of the two mediums, but I don’t want to dwell on it long enough to figure it out. As a movie, I was originally going to say that it was a sub-par action sci-fi movie, but given how bad that genre is I guess I will say that it was pretty much par for the genre. As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 39.

Life or Something Like It

By tmichael on July 5, 2003 2:05 PM

WOW! We watched a recording of Life or Something Like It. I remember how quickly this movie went through its theatrical release (light speed), but not even that could prepare me for what a waste of time this was.

I thought that the story of a television reporter who changes her life because she believes a prophet who says that she will die in the near future, might show on some level the value of living each day as if it might be your last. If that had been the sum of the movie, it might have been bearable, but for some reason they creators felt there needed to be a love story thrown in to boot.

The only noteworthy thing about the movie is how they managed to make Angelina Jolie look like Ashley Judd. Why? Who knows? On my scale of 1-100, I give this movie a 34.

The Deep End

By tmichael on July 4, 2003 9:31 PM

We watched the suspense drama The Deep End. This story of a mother who in protecting her son from being accused of murdering a man with whom he had a relationship is very well done. Because the mother’s actions are tied to her unwillingness to come to terms with his sexuality, the situation rapidly goes from bad to worse.

I thought the acting was great throughout. I enjoyed seeing Goran Visnjic from ER fame in a different type of role. He plays a pivotal role in what happens to the family after the initial death.

I think most people will find this movie compelling, but not amazing. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 79.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde

By tmichael on July 4, 2003 9:29 PM

We went to the theater to see Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde recently. I am not quite sure why I was so disappointed by this film.

I didn’t really have high expectations, but I guess I was deceived by how much I enjoyed the original. The story of a Barbie type woman who has enough intelligence to succeed at anything she puts her mind to is moved in this sequel from Harvard Law School to Washington DC.

After further consideration, I have decided to lay out my thinking on why this sequel is quite inferior to the original. Reese Witherspoon is again excellent as Elle Woods, the young woman who has never believed that there is anything she can’t accomplish in both. I think that she personifies a genuinely uplifting idea that forms the core of both movies. In this one, unfortunately, the basis for her quest is a plot contrivance, rather than a believable occurrence.

Further, the original succeeds by putting her in a position where a little luck and real perseverance might lead to success. By moving the sequel to DC and having her overcome setbacks in Congress as an aid to a Congresswoman, the movie goes from something that might happen without anyone hearing about it to something only the most politically naive would believe is realistic.

Please don’t get me wrong. I didn’t think the original was truly realistic. It simply built and sustained enough momentum to allow me to suspend my disbelief. I don’t think LB2 managed to build that moment.

I you are thinking of seeing this, you won’t watch a horrible movie, but the original is worth much more of your time. On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a 68.

The Sweetest Thing

By tmichael on July 3, 2003 11:18 PM

We recently watched a recording of The Sweetest Thing. This chick-flick comedy was mostly bad with a few funny moments. In particular, I want to say they got a good laugh out of me from the destruction of the mannequin.

If you are thinking of watching this, I am sure there is something better available. For a list of what I think are some good movies, check out my list of movie ratings. On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a 36.

Not Another Teen Movie

By tmichael on July 3, 2003 11:15 PM

We watched a recording of the spoof film Not Another Teen Movie. The movie intends to be a spoof many recent teen themed movies.

As a spoof, it wasn’t horrible. People’s enjoyment of this movie will depend on how familiar they are with the teen movie genre and how much they enjoy spoofs. I must warn potential viewers that by spoofing movies that often involve low humor; this movie often manages to go lower than the original.

Not a waste of time, but not great. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 50.

The Fast and the Furious

By tmichael on July 1, 2003 8:23 PM

We finally got around to seeing a cable recording of The Fast and the Furious. I can understand why the film appeals to people in the age range and sensibilities range of the films characters enjoyed it. Having never longed for the really fast car, I was less impressed.

The film focusing on a bunch of street racers with fancy modified cars, I just didn’t really feel any sympathy for any of the characters. Some of the actions scenes were pretty fun though. On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a very actiony 67

Impostor

By tmichael on July 1, 2003 8:18 PM

We recently watched a recording of Impostor off of cable. It is a true sci-fi film starring Gary Sinise as weapons scientist. He has worked in the development of a secret weapon to be used against an unseen alien enemy. He is then accused of being an alien imposter who has taken the place of the real scientist.

With decent actors and good production values, it is unfortunate the script and direction end up creating only a mediocre film. The various twists and turns that should develop the tension and surprise or delight the audience left me somewhat bored. As a fan of science fiction, I will go see most sci-fi films.

I was really hoping for a great film because so many science fiction films are really just action or horror films in an exotic setting and this one tries to be a little better than that. I guess in my opinion they failed. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 64.

June 2003

The Cat's Meow

By tmichael on June 27, 2003 9:42 PM

We recently watched a cable recording of The Cat's Meow. I was mildly disappointed by this 1920s period piece.

Telling the story of a murder on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht, while on a cruise with several notables of the era including Hearst and Charlie Chaplin, I was somehow expecting more than this straight forward tale of jealousy, manipulation and mistaken identity. In particular, I expected something more interesting from Kirsten Dunst, an actress I find to normally be very good and compelling.

As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate this movie a 69.

Ghost World

By tmichael on June 27, 2003 9:40 PM

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Ghost World. This movie derived from a graphic novel of the same name tells of the changes two girls go through as they try to learn their place in the world following high school graduation.

The girls’ friendship is tested as they each find different ways of coping with a world that they are forced to endure. As outsiders by nature, the transition into adulthood is not easy, but the storyline and the interpersonal dynamics they go through feel very realistic and authentic.

There is also a very interesting storyline involving one of the girls developing a friendship with a man who as an old record collector has created his own life as an outsider and seeks to express both the upside and the downside of such a life.

This movie has received a great deal of praise, and I thought that it lived up to my heightened expectations. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 87.

Donnie Darko

By tmichael on June 27, 2003 9:39 PM

We recently watched the weird film Donnie Darko. Kathy seemed to find it okay, but I really liked it.

Now I want to warn everybody, this probably isn’t everyone. It is strange. Not every movie has an airplane engine crash into a house and a kid with visions of some weird deranged looking rabbit. This one does though.

I can’t really describe the movie much more without giving away key parts of the plot, but I highly recommend this if you are looking for a strange movie which ends with a really intriguing outcome that bends the whole movie back on itself.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a bizarre 85.

True Believer

By tmichael on June 23, 2003 8:32 PM

We recently watched the movie True Believer off of cable. This movie of the noble crusading lawyer, who is bent on freeing a man wrongly convicted of murder, starred James Woods and Robert Downey Jr.

I found the movie entertaining while watching it, but reflecting on the movie, I feel like it was filled with clichés. The movie is old enough that maybe some of the clichés were original when the movie was made. If so subsequent movies have driven the ideas of the liberal who is redeemed when he starts fighting for the cause again, the young idealist who insists on joining in the crusade, or the prosecutor who will put the ends before the means no matter who get hurt right into the ground.

Either way, I am not sure that many will be overwhelmed by how great a movie this is, but most won’t be completely bored. On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a 73.

Murder by Numbers

By tmichael on June 21, 2003 10:22 PM

We watched the Sandra Bullock flick Murder by Numbers off of cable recently. The movie stars Bullock as a homicide investigator with a dark past who works to solve a murder that was potentially committed by a couple of high school kids, out to prove they are smarter than the cops.

I found this story to be not terribly compelling or interesting. It wasn’t a bad movie, simply a filler type movie. I think Bullock is more suited to comedy than action drama like this.

If you watch this movie with low expectations, it will seem fine, but don’t get you hopes up too high. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 72.

Mad About Mambo

By tmichael on June 17, 2003 10:49 PM

We watched a recording of Mad About Mambo recently. I approached this movie expecting it to be set in South America. Instead it was set in Ireland. Wow, that makes a difference.

The story of a teenager who dreams of becoming a football (soccer) player and in the course of the movie becomes involved with a girl who loves dancing. The film is cute and funny and very well done. The issues between the couple include class differences, religious differences and difference in aspirations, but it ends up being very fun to watch all of the action unfold.

The dancing is also fun. I have read many dancing purists complaining that they are not really dancing a mambo, but if you are as uninitiated into the specifics of dance as me, this is not an important factor in evaluating the movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 83.

Hollywood Homicide

By tmichael on June 17, 2003 10:43 PM

While my parents were visiting, we went to see Hollywood Homicide with them. I enjoyed this offbeat little cop buddy flick. I think many people had too high of expectations for it, being a ‘big’ summer movie, but I found the movie funny and the characters charming.

From the previews, I thought the two leads, Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett, were going to be stuck together against their will with Ford’s character forced to deal with a rookie cop. Instead, they were just two guys that had been working together for a while, who have some funny things happen in the course of working a homicide investigation. In particular there is one chase seen in a waterside neighborhood that I found particularly amusing. I also enjoyed the fact that each of the characters was confronted by the need to balance their professional lives with the rest of the things going on in their life.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a great movie, but I found it pleasant enough not to regret going to see it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 75.

Soul Survivors

By tmichael on June 16, 2003 8:35 PM

We watched Soul Survivors off cable recently. This story of a college student and the paranormal experiences she has after a car crash where her boyfriend is killed was a ridiculous waste of time.

Destined to be rapidly forgotten, I rate this a 33, on my scale of 1-100.

The Affair of the Necklace

By tmichael on June 14, 2003 9:49 PM

We recently watched the pre-French Revolution period piece, The Affair of the Necklace. I’m not sure why I had high expectations for this film, but I came away from my viewing disappointed. The costumes and sets were fine. The plot wasn’t bad. The acting was good if not great. Ultimately, the movie was a bit of a let down.

The story revolves around a woman whose parents died as a result of their support for the common folk who were questioning the reign of France’s aristocrats, leaving her orphaned as a child. As a young lady she attempts to retrieve her station in life. When these efforts are rebuffed, she decides to get involved in a scheme to blackmail her way to fortune.

The film claims the story is based on real events. The film makes it seem as if these ridiculously minor events were responsible for the French Revolution, but at most they most likely were only a symptom of the breakdown of aristocratic society.

My final disappointment with the film was that I was more interested in the portrayal of Marie Antoinette, than of any of the main characters. I guess that leads to the conclusion that the creators of the film decided to focus on the wrong story.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a 65.

The Time Machine

By tmichael on June 10, 2003 9:27 PM

We recently watched the sci-fi movie, The Time Machine. I had heard lukewarm reviews at best and was not disappointed by the accuracy of those reviews. Based on the classic science fiction novel, this film seemed to have all of the sophistication of 1950s sci-fi with 1990s special effects.

The one effect that I found very cool was the geological changes that you got to see as the protagonist traveled rapidly through time. Unfortunately, this sequence was in the preview and the film didn’t show anything any better.

Like all films whose best sequence is shown in a preview, no one needs to see the movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 37.

From Hell

By tmichael on June 10, 2003 9:26 PM

We watched the Jack the Ripper film, From Hell, off of cable recently. Based on a graphic novel (comic book) about the Jack the Ripper story, the look of the film was fairly striking. Beyond that I can’t recommend a great deal about the movie.

By focusing on a detective who is trying to find the killer and his relationship with a prostitute that is soon a target of the killer, the film is able to make the movie into something of a mystery. In the end though, I found it to be a sort of cross between a period piece and a slasher movie, with most of the weaknesses of each genre and few of their strengths.

If you are looking for a diverting serial killer movie, this might be right up your alley, but on my scale of 1-100, I rate it simply a 69.

Celebrity

By tmichael on June 6, 2003 12:34 PM

We just watched a recording of the Woody Allen film Celebrity. As is typical of most of Allen's work in the 90's this wasn't great. The only redeeming feature of the film is that it stars Kenneth Branagh. Branagh is one on my favorite actors. Sadly this film is so heavy-handed that it crushes the ability of several fine actors.

Woody Allen's take on celebrity, how it is obtained, its value, and what people will do to maintain it, isn't very insightful. I think that you could learn as much about celebrity by examining Allen's own history.

I guess I have seen worse movies, but unless you are a completist for Allen films or the acting of any of the actors, there are many other movies more deserving of your time. On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a 50.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

By tmichael on June 5, 2003 9:13 PM

We watched a recording of the animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.

I found it to be a passable kids movie. The animation was nice. The story was all right, but not the sort of thing to really grab the interest of an adult. The movie revolves around a wild horse that through a series of misadventures is captured and used by the settling white man on the western frontier. He helps an Indian who has been captured by the US Army to escape. He is then exposed to the Indians' more harmonious interactions with nature.

I was a little put off by the clear agenda that clearly made bad guys out of the European descended settlers of the West, but wasn't surprised. On the whole, this was an average movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 63.

Bubble Boy

By tmichael on June 3, 2003 12:53 PM

We recently watched Bubble Boy. This 'comedy' about a boy raised in a bubble and his quest in a portable bubble to stop the wedding of the girl he loves, was a ridiculous little movie.

Sadly lacking in real humor, there were many times that I thought to myself,"Sure you are watching this off cable. It's not costing you anything.", but ultimately it was costing me my time. For this I am a little sad.

It did generate a few chuckles so I won't call it horrible, but I warn you to approach with very low expectations. Only then, might you have a chance at not being disappointed. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 34.

May 2003

To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday

By tmichael on May 31, 2003 11:22 PM

We watched a recording of To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday. This story of a widower who talks to his dead wife while walking on the beach, was a pleasant enough forgettable little drama. I don’t really object to it, but am not sure anyone should go out of their way to see it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 67.

By tmichael on May 31, 2003 11:19 PM

We went to the theater today to see Finding Nemo. I had a great time and think that almost anyone would enjoy this movie. I will state off the bat that one of the voice actors in this film is Ellen DeGeneres. I normally find her just slightly more annoying than funny. Luckily, she and everyone else in the movie are perfectly cast.

Additionally, the animation geniuses at Pixar, manage to take full advantage of their talents and the stories setting. The animation is superb throughout, but some of the coral reef scenes are simply spectacular. This when combined with a great script and great acting, makes for yet another outstanding film.

The Pixar name on a film is the most consistent indicator of high quality in film today. When you look back at the Pixar output, A Bug’s Life is probably there weakest film, and it is at least very good. I highly recommend this film. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 93.

Taxi Driver

By tmichael on May 28, 2003 9:57 PM

We watched Taxi Driver recently. This film has been labeled great, a classic, etc. by many critics. After finally getting to see it, I found myself underwhelmed. I have no strong criticism of the movie, rather I find myself not terribly interested in it. I suspect that the appreciation many have for the film is based on a thorough knowledge of the context in which it was made. Alas, my context in 2003 made it seem almost as much a period piece as any Merchant and Ivory picture. I am sure much of what gave this film such strong supporters has been incorporated into the film styles and vocabulary of others since its time.

If you plan to see this film, I would recommend doing some reading about what makes it significant before seeing it. Without that background, I was very excited by it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 71.

Sunshine

By tmichael on May 10, 2003 11:31 PM

We watched a recording off of cable of the epic Sunshine. This story that revolves around 3 generations of a Hungarian, Jewish family, was interesting if not as rewarding as I would have hoped. There is a moviemaking stunt at work in the film. Ralph Fiennes stars as three different characters, one of each generation.

Fiennes manages to carry off the three characters, but I am not sure that it was actually necessary. At three hours long, this is a long movie. I found the length necessary for the treatment they were trying to give the story.

Ultimately, the story highlighted the fact that the majority can always decide to make someone an outcast and no amount of fighting or accommodation can alter that fact. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 80.

The One

By tmichael on May 10, 2003 7:53 PM

Well we watched the martial arts movie, The One, recently. I am not sure why I still watch these films. I didn’t find this plot of man who goes to different universes killing other versions of himself to gain “power” to be very interesting. The net result is there is one cool scene where Jet Li fights himself. This is interesting from a technical special effects perspective, but that’s about it.

This was a mix of martial arts and cheap sci-fi premise that did not need to be made. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 38.

Lost and Delirious

By tmichael on May 9, 2003 9:43 PM | 1 Comment

We recently watched Lost and Delirious. It is the story of three girls who are roommates at a boarding school. Each has deep issues that make for troubled existence. When the love affair between two of them is discovered, their different reactions lead to some unfortunate outcomes.

I was disappointed in this film, having heard some positive reviews. In particular, I felt that there were some good ideas behind the film, but the way they were all tied together was poorly executed. For example, after reading my short summary, you would assume that the central characters would be involved in the love affair. You would, however, be wrong. The central character is the third roommate. She of course has her own issues, but I think the film suffers because those who made it couldn’t seem to commit to fully exploring either storyline.

I tend to be very easygoing about accepting people regardless of their sexuality. I find this to be equally true, when it comes to films. This movie highlights a consistent problem I have seen with films that involve a significant gay or lesbian plot. That problem is that perhaps because of some lingering stigma, the better writers and directors seem to shy away from the material. Interestingly, I think television seems to be overcoming this faster than mainstream film. The result is that I find most films with these themes or plots to be earnest, but with a slightly amateurish undertone.

If you are looking for a film with this type of plot, you won’t find much better, but if you are looking for a random film to watch you can. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 66.

Wit

By tmichael on May 7, 2003 4:59 PM

After having a recording of Wit on our ReplayTV for months, we finally sat down and watched this drama about an English professor’s battle with cancer.

This movie is almost perfect. In fact, I am not quite sure what I would change about it even if I could. The script is based on a play by the same name. I have read suggestions that it is better as a play, but I have a hard time imagining it. The adaptation was done by Emma Thompson, who plays the central character, and Mike Nichols, the director. I am a huge fan of Thompson, as both a writer and actress, and think that she may have done the best work of her career in this film. I am sure that had it been released to theaters, she would be in possession of at least one more Oscar.

I will warn you that the movie is unflinching in showing the way a disease like cancer and the medical practices used to fight it can strip away a person’s dignity. In the end, however, as the professor come to grips with her mortality, I found that it revealed that dignity can be simply a thin veneer over the grace that is within all people.

I highly recommend this movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 96.

Scooby-Doo

By tmichael on May 4, 2003 9:14 PM

We recently watched Scooby-Doo. I had heard how bad the movie was supposed to be so I wasn’t expecting much. I was still disappointed. It was sad to see so much set design and special effects work go to such a waste.

If reports are to be believed, then most of the problems stem from the fact that the studio neutered the film in the quest to achieve a kids-friendly rating. The plot was no better or worse than the cartoon at movie length, but the opportunity to have a much funnier and more subversive script after being freed from television standards was wasted.

I have heard that they are going to make a sequel. I hereby vow that I will never pay money to see it. I might catch it if comes by on cable like this one. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 37.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

By tmichael on May 3, 2003 11:22 PM

I watched a recording of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I had seen it in the theaters and thought it was great. Upon seeing it again, I think if anything I underestimated it the first time.

I am not normally a fan of martial arts films unless they are ridiculously over the top. Ang Lee is one of my favorite directors and I think he manages to make the martial arts scenes as visually beautiful as a dance sequence while keeping the sponteniety of a fight.

I have seen movies that try to interweave to many plotlines. I have seen movies that fail because the plot isn't interesting enough to justify being the centerpiece of a movie. I think this film strikes the perfect balance.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing scenery that is captured in this film. I didn't really have a mental picture of China in my head before seeing this movie. Now I have some feel for how large and varied a country China is. Much of what this film shows is very beautiful.

As long as you aren't turned off by subtitles, I recommend this movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 93.

April 2003

The Glass House

By tmichael on April 27, 2003 2:31 PM

We watched the suspense drama The Glass House. I usually enjoy Leelee Sobieski movies, but this little drama was a little overwrought.

With a movie filled with some pretty good actors, I think that their agents didn't do their jobs by allowing them to star in this movie.

I guess it wasn't horrible but on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 66.

Holes

By tmichael on April 27, 2003 2:25 PM

We went to see Holes with my parents. This film based on a celebrated children's book was fun and entertaining.

The story revolves around a boy who is wrongly convicted of a crime and sent to a work camp in the Texas desert. All of the boys are required to dig a hole in an old lakebed each day. All of the characters are unique and well acted.

The plot taken from the book is ingenious and manages to tie up all of the loose ends by the end of the film.

I think most people would enjoy this film. I know I did. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 85.

The Pompatus of Love

By tmichael on April 11, 2003 9:20 PM

We watched a cable recording of The Pompatus of Love. The title taken from a lyric a Steve Miller song is the only thing that had my interest at all. The story of a group of guys and their relationships with women wasn't very interesting, and didn't break any new ground.

Feel free to watch it if you want to see a workmanlike interchangeable movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 66.

Showtime

By tmichael on April 8, 2003 9:57 PM

We recently watched the buddy cop movie Showtime. This Robert Deniro-Eddie Murphy vehicle was loudly denigrated by most movie critics. As a result, I went into it with very low expectations.

It will never stand up in comparison to the Beverly Hills Cop movies or 48 hours, but I was surprised to discover a movie that was mildly entertaining. I found the characters a nice contrast. Both are cops, one wants to be an actor and is thrilled when a television show tracks their actions while the other likes being a cop and is annoyed by the publicity.

I wouldn't suggest paying money to see it, but on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a diverting 70.

Sexy Beast

By tmichael on April 8, 2003 1:45 PM

We watched a recording of the much referenced Sexy Beast. This is a film of a retired bank robber who is confronted by people from his past who want him to return for another job.

Ben Kingsley's performance as the title character is certainly powerful, but ultimately I was disappointed by the movie's structure. I thought not enough time was devoted to the bank heist to make it unique or novel, yet enough time is devoted to it to detract from the character study that makes up much of the rest of the film.

In total I thought it was interesting, but not great. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 74.

March 2003

Our America

By tmichael on March 31, 2003 7:53 PM

I recently watched the film Our America. This film tells the true story of two youths growing up in and around a Chicago housing project. They are chosen to tell the story of their lives on tape which is then assembled into a story for NPR. Some community leaders felt that they had been exploited because the story they told was not very uplifting.

Not long after, the housing project is the scene of a horrific crime perpetrated by two young kids. The boys, who are the focus of the movie, then resume their roles as reporters, to examine the story in a way that outsiders can't. Eventually, they win several prestigious awards for the resulting story.

While the story is fascinating, there is something about the script or the acting that makes the movie come across as not as good as the underlying story. I am still glad I saw it though. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 74.

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

By tmichael on March 30, 2003 6:13 PM

We watched the animated film Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius recently. I found it entertaining, in a lighthearted sort of way. I was disappointed that it had less humor for adult viewer than some other animated films.

The look of the film was interesting throughout. I also admire the film producers’ decision not to try to sell the movie based on big name stars as the voice actors. The cast is full of relatively little known actors, but it doesn't suffer for it. In fact I think that if more recognizable actors had been used, it would have detracted from the story.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 75.

O

By tmichael on March 30, 2003 6:09 PM

We recently watched the high school set Shakespeare drama O. This retelling of Othello was interesting and well acted, but ultimately robbed of some of its power by the setting.

This is not the first time Shakespeare has had one of his play changed in setting, but I think it is a testament to the power of his plays that they retain their power under adaptation.

If you are looking for a different type of teen drama, I recommend this movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 85.

In the Company of Men

By tmichael on March 29, 2003 3:03 PM

We watched In the Company of Men recently. This movie about a pair of businessmen who choose to simultaneously date and then dump a woman while they are on an extended out of town work assignment, is a study in manipulation. The main characters are at least slightly if not totally reprehensible.

I didn't enjoy watching their mind games and as a result was disappointed by the movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 42.

Ali

By tmichael on March 29, 2003 2:03 PM

We recently watched Ali. I thought that it was an interesting movie that couldn't decide what it wanted to say. As a result, it tried to say everything. I think this allows each viewer to draw their own conclusion. The other drawback is the movie seems much to long as it wanders all over the place. Personally, I found the extended musical sequences extremely overindulgent. (A funny thought, what if they had been musical as in Chicago or Moulin Rouge?)

I think that Will Smith does a good job portraying Muhammad Ali. I think many of the other actors also do well. In the end no acting was going to save this plot. If you are interested in Muhammad Ali, I would recommend When We Were Kings.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 66.

Requiem for a Dream

By tmichael on March 27, 2003 7:20 PM

Continuing in my string of drug related movies, we recently watched Requiem for a Dream. After recently watching Sid and Nancy, I wasn't sure I wanted to see another drug movie. This one, however, benefited from the comparison.

By following the stories of four people each of whom has their life spiral out of control as a result of drug use, the movie manages to show broad themes that touch all of the drug users while still showing each as having a unique experience. The movie is a downer though. It makes it look like the downward spiral is almost inevitable.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 85.

Sid and Nancy

By tmichael on March 22, 2003 5:27 PM

We watched a recording of Sid and Nancy. This story of two individuals whose relationship is entwined with the history of the famous punk rock band The Sex Pistols was just barely worth my time.

I am not sure if the makers of this movie meant to show the destructive effects of drug use or if they meant to show that maybe under truly dysfunctional situations, only someone else dysfunctional can be a source of happiness in an otherwise bleak existence.

Not being a big fan of the music, I guess I just wasn't moved. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 66.

Vanilla Sky

By tmichael on March 14, 2003 1:07 PM

I recently watched Vanilla Sky again. I enjoyed it. I am not sure that it is a great film, but I am a sucker for movies that require you to use your judgment to try to separate the subjective reality of the movie from the more objective reality that would be the world in which the action occurs.

This is just such a movie. I also thought that the acting was superb throughout. In particular, I have to admit that Tom Cruise is almost always a more interesting actor than I expect him to be. With that in mind, my only question is what would the movie have been like if the soundtrack had been filled with Beatles tunes, as it was reported the director wanted to use? I would like to have seen that as well, but I think this is one of the best examples of science fiction where the technology is just part of the setting, rather than the reason for the story.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 89.

Swordfish

By tmichael on March 11, 2003 9:46 AM

We watched Swordfish recently. Though the movie was very over-the-top, I thought it was an ok movie once I gave in to the silliness of the plot. The critics were pretty harsh on the plot of secret operatives stealing secret money, where it is unclear who we are supposed to be rooting for.

By ignoring such complexities, I found the movie entertaining. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this movie has a couple of scenes that highlight Halle Berry's very attractive unclothed body.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 69.

Bad Company

By tmichael on March 5, 2003 1:10 PM

I recently watched the older spy movie Bad Company. This isn't the recent one with Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock, but rather the one with Laurence Fishburne and Ellen Barkin.

All in all, it was a forgettable movie, about a bunch of current and former CIA agents busy trying to double-cross one and other in order to gain control of a non-governmental blackmail and bribery outfit.

On my scale of 1-100, I give it a 68.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

By tmichael on March 5, 2003 10:49 AM

We recently watched the travesty that is the How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This was a movie that didn't need to be made. I love the original story and have a strong nostalgic connection the cartoon version, but am at a loss as to why this movie was made other than a belief that with a decent director, it couldn't help but make money.

I think I have also figured out why it didn't get horrible reviews. It is too long. The beginning of the movie I thought was particularly bad. The movie does improve as it progresses. I think that it is long enough that many forget how bad the beginning of the movie is by the time it is over.

Watch it if you must, but on my scale of 1-100, I give it only a 68.

February 2003

The Girl on the Bridge

By tmichael on February 24, 2003 9:19 PM

We watched the French language love story The Girl on the Bridge. Shot entirely in black and white, it shows the relationship of two people who find that they are complete only together.

Their success together is as a circus knife-throwing act. They not only thrill their audiences, but also derive an erotic thrill from the act of him throwing the knives at her. I didn't find it hard to follow, even though I was forced to read the subtitles.

I doubt my description does much to describe why it is a very interesting movie, but I think most people would enjoy it if they take the time to see it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 85.

Jurassic Park III

By tmichael on February 15, 2003 5:28 PM

We watched a recording of Jurassic Park III. It definately falls into the category of movies that didn't need to be made. The plot that gets the main characters back on an island populated with dinosaurs is contrived in the extreme. I was glad to see that they included the ptarydachtyls that were missing fromt the first movie, but were included in the book.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 37.

Eight Days a Week

By tmichael on February 14, 2003 5:27 PM

We watched the teen comedy Eight Days a Week. This was a forgettable little movie, but it was fun. The movie revolves around a single summer, when a teenager waits in the front yard of the girl of his dreams until she comes to share his feelings.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 72.

Training Day

By tmichael on February 14, 2003 5:25 PM

We watched a recording of Training Day. This movie earned Denzel Washington an Oscar and his co-star an Oscar nomination. It is easy to see why. This movie is relentlessly demanding of its stars. Denzel plays very effectively against his public personae as an evil, violent and manipulative narcotics officer. His character so thoroughly revels in living without constraints, that it is easy to forget our normal expectations of Denzel.

With that said, the movie is violent. It can be hard to watch. It shows our worst fears of corrupt police as true. It shows how easily even a decent character, can be seduced into becoming an acomplis in criminal activity. Please don’t watch it unless you are comfortable with movie violence.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 77.

The Majestic

By tmichael on February 11, 2003 5:19 PM

We recently watched a recording of The Majestic. Jim Carrey is trying to stretch himself beyond simply being a comedic actor. In this movie, he plays a black-listed 1950’s screenwriter, who gets amnesia and then is welcomed in a small town as the missing son of the local movie theater’s owner.

This Norman Rockwell inspired town seems to be reawakened by the return of the missing war hero. Ultimately, all of the loose ends are tied together. I found this movie a little too neat for my tastes, but not unpleasant. If you think Carrey is only capable of being a buffoon, I recommend you watch this decidedly old-fashioned story. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 75.

Drugstore Cowboy

By tmichael on February 6, 2003 10:28 AM

Not long after seeing Matt Dillon in One Night at McCool's, I watched a recording of Drugstore Cowboy. I enjoyed this story of a man whose leads life as a thief stealing from pharmacies to support his drug habit. The main characters moral development throughout the movie is very well done and quite believable. I thought the acting was very good. Further I found that the movie made me stop and reconsider the issues surrounding drug addiction without glamorizing drug use.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 83.

The Man Who Wasn't There

By tmichael on February 6, 2003 10:27 AM

We watched a recording of The Man Who Wasn't There. This black and white movie starring Billy Bob Thornton as a barber, who’s longing for something more leads to several murders and deaths, was interesting and subtle in its charms. I enjoyed the acting and the writing. In particular, I enjoyed the narration.

The movie is set in the 50’s in a small California town. It is interesting to see how just a little dissatisfaction can lead to such a dire outcome. Some may find the pace a little slow, but on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 77.

One Night at McCool's

By tmichael on February 3, 2003 8:45 PM

We watched a recording of the movie One Night at McCool's. Wow! What a mess this is. I read after the fact that as originally conceived, it was supposed to demonstrate differences in perception by showing a variety of scenes in one story from the viewpoint of three different characters. Supposedly it was then ruined by a studio system that wanted a more conventional movie.

I don’t know if that is accurate, but no matter what the process, it was ruined. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 36. It might be lower, but there was one good scene of Liv Tyler washing a car.

Shallow Hal

By tmichael on February 2, 2003 3:30 PM

We watched a recording of Shallow Hal. I like many critics like that the Farrelly brothers who wrote and directed this movie make you question understand that misapplied political correctness is very condescending to those that it is “protecting”. They do this by treating all of their characters as equal.

Of course, given their comic sensibilities, this means equally able to be made fun of. The key is that no one character is more likely to be mocked than any other. The result is surprisingly evenhanded.

This story of a man, who, after a chance encounter with a new age guru, begins to perceive women’s physical appearance as a reflection of their character, is funny and nice. I liked that in the end he really did learn to value people for who they are. The interesting thing is that as viewers we are given the superficial appearance view and I think most will agree that physical appearance is hard to ignore, especially in members of the opposite sex.

This was a decent comedy that brings up some good points. I rate it an 84 on my scale of 1-100.

January 2003

Almost Famous

By tmichael on January 31, 2003 4:04 PM

I recently watched Almost Famous from a recording. I think this is a fabulous movie. I had seen it during its theatrical release and it was just as good the second time. The story of a bright teenager who gets involved with a 70's rock band and its followers, while writing a story for Rolling Stone magazine is just about perfect. It captures the impact that music has on its fans. It captures the imperfect people that succeed in creating music. It captures the sense of awe or wonder one would feel if they got to ride on the bus with the band.

As much as I liked the plot of this movie, its real strength is in the casting and acting. With the exception of the main characters sister, I can’t imagine any actor being better suited to each of the roles than those that were cast. If you want to understand rock and roll music, I can’t think of a better movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 93.

The Luzhin Defence

By tmichael on January 31, 2003 3:31 PM

We watched a recording of The Luzhin Defence recently. I really enjoyed this film about a grown chess prodigy and a woman who falls in love with him. I understand that it is based on a book by Nabachov.

I think the acting is wonderful and well worth the time. Some might find it hard to accept the love story aspect of the movie, but I think that if one has been searching for a certain type of mate and then finds one then it is possible for the relationship to progress that quickly.

I am glad we recorded this. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 79.

Gia

By tmichael on January 28, 2003 9:35 PM

We watched a recording of Gia. I am not sure what my expectations were of this movie, but in the end I thought it wasn't worth the time I spent. Angelina Jolie stars as the title character, a lesbian supermodel from the late 70's early 80's time period who eventually dies of AIDS. She of course gets it via her drug use.

In the end it almost felt like a public service announcement from a conservative religious group, but with nudity. The thesis could almost be read as being gay leads to drug use that leads to AIDS which leads to death. As a result, I can't imagine anyone enjoying this much. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 35.

Bamboozled

By tmichael on January 28, 2003 9:31 PM

We watched the Spike Lee film Bamboozled. I have never been completely on board with his politics, but I think that he is usually great at providing provocative films. They usually are interesting enough to at least justify reexamining your own perspective. With this as my perspective, I think this film is an utter failure. It almost adds up to being a spoof of a Spike Lee film.

Lee's perspective seems to be that we live in a society so racist that mainstream America would gladly embrace a blatantly racist television show. I find that hard to believe. I clearly believe that there are still racists in America today. I might even believe that there is enough racism to accept racism subtexts in our entertainment, but I am can't imagine the movies reality intersecting with ours.

Even though it is a point that is included in the movie itself, I think that it is sad that Lee would want to make a movie which encourages racial stereotyping. Only his own ethnicity allows him to do so without being denounced as a racist himself.

On my scale of 1-100, I give it a 50. The rating is this high only because of the quality of the acting and the thought that the mileage you get out of the message may be different from mine.

Deception

By tmichael on January 20, 2003 8:48 PM

We watched a movie called Deception that is listed in the IMDB as Ruby Cairo. The movie stars Andie McDowell as a widowed mother who is forced to travel around the globe retrieving money that her husband had deposited in various banks. The plot is supposed to be mysterious, but it will come as no shock that her husband is actually alive.

I can clearly see why she decided to make the movie as it allowed her to visit a wide variety of locations. That, however, does not make it worth watching. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 36.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

By tmichael on January 19, 2003 8:06 PM

We watched a recording of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. We saw it originally in the theater and wanted to see it again. I will warn you, it is rated R for a reason. That reason is language. If the language in any movie has ever turned you off, then this one will turn you off also.

With that caveat, I loved this movie. It was funny. It fit in with the other movies in the View Askewniverse. It had inside jokes all over the place. It had great cameos including Ben Affleck as a character and as himself. It even had Mark Hamill. This is clearly his best work since Return of the Jedi, and probably since The Empire Strikes Back.

If you are unfamiliar with writer/director Kevin Smith's work, I recommend that you start by seeing his first movie Clerks. After that almost any of them make sense, though if you watch them in order you will get more inside jokes.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate this a 92.

Some Girls

By tmichael on January 18, 2003 10:26 PM

We watched this coming of age comedy, Some Girls, starring Jennifer Connelly. I think the only reason we watched it was because I thought that I had heard of it and thought it was supposed to be funny. It isn't. The plot has a college age guy go to visit his girlfriend and her family. The family is supposed to be funny in a wacky sort of way, but they only come across as a movie sort of wacky. For example, the father can only work on the book he is writing in the nude.

All in all, I rate it as a boring time. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 36.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

By tmichael on January 18, 2003 8:46 PM

We watched a recording of O Brother, Where Art Thou?. I know that this movie has received a lot of praise, but I wasn't so impressed. It was a good movie and worthwhile, but I wasn't blown away by it.

Set in the depression, this made a nice cross between music and comedy. I think George Clooney always does a good job at coming across as charming and his role really plays to his strengths. The plot of the movie is based on Homer's Odyssey. If I was more familiar with the Odyssey, I might have derived more pleasure from the movie, but I only know it well enough to recognized the obvious allusions like the Cyclops and the sirens.

On my scale of 1-100, I would give it a 73.

High Fidelity

By tmichael on January 18, 2003 4:33 PM

I recently watched a recording of High Fidelity. I had vague, yet positive memories about seeing it in the theater and so was surprised at how much I liked it when seeing it again.

The adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel, starring John Cusack as a recordstore owner who thoughts about life are stirred up when his girlfriend leaves him is great. Having the main character address the camera and audience directly with information that he is not sharing with the other characters retains much of the internal dialogue that is often lost when a book becomes a movie.

The movie also has a great comic character portrayed by Jack Black, that inspires quit a few laughs.

As a music fan, I also thought that the ideas about the role music plays in people’s lives were also interesting and somewhat insightful.

I think most people would enjoy this movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 91.

Legally Blonde

By tmichael on January 15, 2003 10:43 PM

We watched a recording of Legally Blonde. We had seen it before and liked it, so I knew I would enjoy it. Seeing it again, however, reminded me of what an amazing tightrope, they managed to walk in this movie of a smart, but otherwise stereotypical sorority girl, going to Harvard Law School.

It is quite an achievement. My natural inclination would be to dislike, the main character, but I found myself rooting for her to succeed. The script, also manages to get some good laughs at the expense of people she forces to interact with someone that rarely enters their insular world. For example the admissions committee shocked by someone applying whose undergraduate degree is in fashion merchandizing.

As a lighthearted comedy, this movie succeeds very well. I recommend it to most everyone. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 86.

Behind Enemy Lines

By tmichael on January 15, 2003 8:42 PM

We watched the ridiculous Behind Enemy Lines off a recording. I found it to be a silly action movie with really annoying time dilation effects used for no good reason.

I guess it might work for you if you don't mind an action movie that exploits the wars in the former Yugoslavia for its setting. I do, so on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 30.

sex, lies, and videotape

By tmichael on January 14, 2003 3:07 PM

I just watched a recording of sex, lies, and videotape. I originally saw the movie years ago in its theatrical release and wanted see if it was as good as I remembered. All in all, I would say that it is. I found the plot interesting and the acting great. I still find something odd about Peter Gallagher, but I think this is true in anything I see him in.

It was interesting to see the role lies play in the sex lives of the characters. It was even interesting to see the perspective of the character that videotapes interviews with women about their sex lives, because he can't actually become aroused in the presence of women any longer.

One thing that I didn't remember about the movie was the use of sound and music to enhance the mood of the moment. Written and directed by Steven Soderbergh, it is cool to see what he was going in 1989 before his popular breakout with Erin Brockovich in 2000.

This is an interesting movie for those that aren't squeamish about characters talking about sex. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 85.

The Score

By tmichael on January 14, 2003 12:54 PM

We watched a recording of The Score. This is one of those films that prove that just because you have a bunch of actors with marvelous reputations together in one film, it doesn't guarantee a great film. In this film, expert safecracker Robert De Niro does jobs found by his fence, Marlon Brando, and is set to do a job with up-and-coming hotshot Edward Norton.

With so many big names, I was expecting more, but was rewarded with an average movie that unlike some of my recent viewings was at least worth the time. Ultimately, I guess the setup of the robbery of the Montreal customs house was too well prepared for me to feel much tension. I also thought that Brando was wasted in an unimportant role that only seemed to be fleshed out so that the filmmakers could justify offering it to someone with his reputation.

I don't think this movie is worth going out of your way to see, but it is worth the time if you happen upon it. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 68.

Wicked

By tmichael on January 5, 2003 8:03 PM

We watched a recording of Wicked recently. We decided to record the movie because it stars Julia Stiles, who we find to be an interesting actress.

That is the only reason anyone should watch this movie. If you are a huge fan of hers and want to see everything she has ever been in then you might want to see it. Otherwise, skip it. It was really bad. From a laughably ridiculous script to silly acting, it had it all. And as if that weren't enough, it has a nice little father-daughter incest storyline. How's that for creepy.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 20.

Akira

By tmichael on January 5, 2003 3:21 PM

We watched a recording of Akira. I found this example of Japanese Anime technically amazing, but disappointing in other ways. I have been unable to decide if my disappointment with the movie's plot was due to cultural differences, my lack of familiarity with the norms of the Anime genre, or simply overreach by the movies creators in trying to tell too expansive a story.

Either way, for someone new to Anime this movie will probably be a mixed bag. To those that are into the genre, you really shouldn't care what an outsider like me thinks. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 68.

Moulin Rouge!

By tmichael on January 4, 2003 10:22 PM

We watched a recording of the recent musical Moulin Rouge! I enjoyed the movie in the theater and was glad that I could see it again. It was just as good as I remembered, though I had forgotten how disconcertingly disjointed the beginning of the movie is.

I have to admit that I am probably just as guilty as anyone else of being prone to nostalgia. The only difference is that I can only be nostalgic for things from the last 20-30 years. I think this is one of the reasons I liked the film so much. The integration of songs that I was familiar with into this plot was great. I still chuckle about the use of Madonna's Like a Virgin and I have always liked the Police classic Roxanne.

I liked the performances given by all, but I think my favorite was Ewan McGregor's. Normally, I prefer female singers, but I thought that his voice was just about perfect for the role, no matter how many digital manipulations it may have gone through.

In case you are unfamiliar with this film it is worth noting that this is a rock and roll type musical and only the plot and staging might link it to musicals of the past. The songs and the style of cutting is definitely very MTV inspired. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 87.

Surviving Picasso

By tmichael on January 3, 2003 4:30 PM

We watched a recording of Surviving Picasso off of cable. I thought that this was an interesting and somewhat entertaining movie. Because I have a limited knowledge of art history, I can't tell for sure if there is any accuracy in this movies portrayal of Picasso was at all accurate.

Anthony Hopkins does a wonderful job of portraying him as a brilliant and self-centered man. His relationships with the women who surround him are almost painful in how psychologically abusive they are. On the other hand you are allowed to see the charismatic circumstances that he creates that draw so many people to him.

I found it to be the equal of Pollack. That is on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 77.

Adaptation.

By tmichael on January 3, 2003 4:27 PM

While my parents were visiting, we also went to see Adaptation. Most of our party were thoroughly unimpressed by this movie. Since we saw it, I have read some reviews that talk about it as a brilliant film. I fall down somewhere in between.

I thought the self-referential nature of the script was a very cool. I have always enjoyed complex story structures. Ultimately, though I think that the movies conclusion was just a little too movie insider focused for me to enjoy.

Before seeing the movie, I heard that Nicholas Cage's performance as twin brothers was amazing. I appreciated the performance, but wasn't blown away by it.

If you like weird or quirky movies, you might enjoy it. I was just slightly dissatisfied with the film as a whole. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 80.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

By tmichael on January 3, 2003 4:24 PM

While my parents were visiting, we went to see The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. I thoroughly enjoyed this latest installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I suspect that most of the people reading this will be familiar with the trilogy and the role this middle installment plays within the series, so I won't delve into that aspect of the movie. I thought the acting was excellent, the script was great, the scenery cool and the special effects were amazing.

I was very appreciative of the way the filmmakers were able to introduce a little humor, without destroying the flow of the story.

I can't imagine having any influence on whether or not you would see this movie, but I thought it was great. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 95, the same as the first movie.

December 2002

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

By tmichael on December 15, 2002 4:18 PM

Last night, we also watched Woody Allen's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. This comedy set in 1940's New York was well made and entertaining. I enjoyed the villain using hypnosis to get people to steal for him.

I also liked the dialogue. It was crisp and funny while coming across as very appropriate for the time. My one quibble with this movie is the point my mother always mentions when talking about Allen's movies. It is a little hard to believe that so many attractive women would have much of an interest in someone like him. I guess that is the advantage he has of getting to write these parts for himself.

I am not a huge fan of the detective story so this also was a slight drawback.

I doubt this movie would surprise or blow anybody away, but it was pleasant to watch. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 69.

Josie and the Pussycats

By tmichael on December 14, 2002 8:18 PM

We just finished watching Josie and the Pussycats. I'm not sure that I have any feelings about this movie one way or the other. It was just there. I liked some of the music they played as a band, but I'm usually a sucker for rock music with a cute female lead singer. Now the movie was trying to make some statement about commercialism, but the intentionally overwhelming use of corporate logos did drive me crazy. I also liked the one line that was given by one of the characters when asked why she was there. She replied, "Because I was in the comic book."

Very forgettable movie, that gets a rating of 51 on my scale of 1-100.

Foul Play

By tmichael on December 14, 2002 6:30 PM | 1 Comment

I watched Foul Play this afternoon. Growing up, this Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase movies was one of my favorites, but I hadn't seen it in twenty years. I guess it doesn't bode well for my adult taste that I enjoyed it so much growing up. With a soundtrack prominently featuring Barry Manilow, this was slightly scary.

That said I thought that other than being a little more casual with drug references, one scene featuring a guy saying "far out" all the time, and one scene featuring a pope that could rapidly walk up a long flight of stairs, this movie could be remade today. I doubt anyone would, given the fairly lightweight material, but it wasn't a complete waste of time.

In addition to Hawn and Chase, you also get Dudley Moore as a sex crazed conductor and Burgess Meredith doing martial arts. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 65.

Black Knight

By tmichael on December 10, 2002 5:29 PM

This last weekend we watched a recording of Black Knight. Having seen previews for this movie of Martin Lawrence going back in time to medieval England, I had really low expectations. It succeeded in living down to those expectations. As a comedy, there weren't many laughs. As anything else it is a travesty.

If you have seen a preview of this film, be content knowing that you will miss nothing by not watching it. Otherwise, it is very innocuous. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a dull 24.

November 2002

When We Were Kings

By tmichael on November 24, 2002 4:45 PM

We watched a recording of the documentary, When We Were Kings. This film tells the story of Muhammad Ali's "Rumble in the Jungle" with a very youthful George Foreman. Because this was from before my time, I found it interesting to learn some of the details of this event that I had a vague notion of but no real sense what actually happened.

All of the personalities involved from Ali to Foreman, Don King to James Brown were so large that it is easy to see how they became such unmistakable icons.

Like every good documentary, I was given enough information portrayed in an interesting enough way to intrigue me about a subject I might not have otherwise been interested in.

I think most people would find it interesting. As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 79.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By tmichael on November 23, 2002 10:14 PM

We went to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets today. I enjoyed the first installment of this series and count myself as a fan of the books.

Often I find that movie adaptations of books loose some significant portion of the story and suffer as a result. The Harry Potter movies, by contrast actually seem very true to the books. This is both good and bad. The good aspect is that almost all of the things that make the books enjoyable are included. The bad is that having read the books, the plot sometimes drags a bit. Knowing what is going to happen can be spiced up a bit when the movie introduces unexpected changes. In the best of circumstances, these changes allow a different perspective with which one may contrast the book.

I think the casting, acting and visual effects are all very strong in this as well as the preceding movie in the series. Unfortunately, the adaptation was so exact, that it made me wonder if I had overestimated the book. Specifically, I thought the movie dragged a little at times.

Still it was a pleasant movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 84.

Journeys with George

By tmichael on November 10, 2002 9:13 PM

We watched a recording of Journeys with George tonight. This film is a documentary about the presidential campaign of George Bush as seen by a news producer with NBC. I found this a very interesting if ultimately lightweight sort of movie. I think it is the kind of movie that will act as a mirror for most people’s own political views. If you think poorly of the current President you will scoff at hearing him say the same thing over and over at various campaign stops. If you think the press has an intense liberal bias, you will be able to see that. If you think Bush isn't a deep intellectual you will see that. If you think that Bush is nice personable person who is often misrepresented, you will be able to have that view reinforced.

Altogether though, I found it to be an interesting insight into the way a political campaign looks to those that are around it all the time. It was interesting to see crowds excited about a speech that was new to them, that the reporters were hearing for the fourth time that day and the twentieth time that week. More often than not, I like President Bush so I found it interesting to see a different side of him. On my scale of 1-100, I rate this movie an 80.

15 Minutes

By tmichael on November 10, 2002 5:41 PM

We just finished watching a recording of 15 Minutes. Definitely a waste of time. I remember seeing previews in the theater and thinking that I probably didn't need to see it. How right I was. I wish I had believed that impression.

This movie was supposedly saying something about America's obsession with fame. Instead it just ended up as a silly mess.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 33.

Startup.com

By tmichael on November 10, 2002 4:28 PM

We watched Startup.com. We had recorded it off of cable. This documentary about the rise and fall of the dot com named govworks.com. It was an interesting depiction of all the ridiculousness of the dot com era, especially the focus on the money and their inability to manage it.

Ultimately, there was an interesting story to be told here, but as far as documentaries go this was not very well made. This was a decent movie with an interesting insight. I just wish a better filmmaker had made it.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 68.

The Legend of Drunken Master

By tmichael on November 9, 2002 9:51 PM

We watched a recording of The Legend of Drunken Master tonight. I like Jackie Chan movies. This wasn't my favorite of his movies, but it had the classic fighting choreography. I just wish it had had more of the usual humor.

So I rate it a 69 on my scale of 1-100.

Punch-Drunk Love

By tmichael on November 9, 2002 4:50 PM

We went to see Punch-Drunk Love at the theater today. It was interesting to see Adam Sandler in a serious role. I really liked some of the visual effects and the way the director integrated music to emphasize the mood of the story.

On the other hand, I often wished the camera would pull back a little. The close-ups very effectively made me more involved as a waited to see what would come in from just off-screen. Also sometimes the music was almost overwhelming. Finally, I would have preferred at least a few characters that weren't disturbed or disturbing.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 77.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin

By tmichael on November 3, 2002 9:04 PM

We watched a recording of Captain Corelli's Mandolin. This love story set in Greece during World War II. With 2 high profile stars in Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz, this movie received a lot of promotion.

I wasn't expecting much from the movie, but thought that I would enjoy it. I did in general, but it was slow. How slow? Very, very slow. This movie could have been an hour long and stile covered the same plot. I could have been 2 hours long and been a little leisurely, but no this movie was almost 2 and a half hours long.

As a result, I rate this a 66 on my scale of 1-100.

The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag

By tmichael on November 3, 2002 9:03 PM

We watched a recording of The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag. This was a silly movie about a librarian who confesses to a murder, in order to get some attention from her husband and others. I think it was supposed to be funny or maybe empowering for meek women or something.

I just found it boring and dated. As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 41.

October 2002

Ghosts of Mars

By tmichael on October 27, 2002 6:54 PM

We recently watched a recording of Ghosts of Mars. I am not normally a fan of John Carpenter movies, but this little sci-fi action was fun. It wasn't a deep movie, and unlike good science fiction, it didn't really make you think about future possibilities. The Mars setting made it more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

A good disposable action movie, but don't expect amazing special effects. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 69.

Big Momma's House

By tmichael on October 27, 2002 6:54 PM

We just watched the Martin Lawrence movie called, Big Momma's House. In this movie, he is a police officer who goes under cover, disguised as an overweight and older african american woman. Hilarity should ensue. It didn't.

There are some funny parts, but I have seen enough of his movies as well as others like Mrs. Doubtfire, that I didn't laugh very often or very hard. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 63.

Dear God

By tmichael on October 27, 2002 1:09 PM

We watched a recording of Dear God. This was an obvious, small, unimportant little film. The story features Greg Kinnear as con man who becomes a better person after getting a job at the post office and beginning to help people who have sent letters to God.

As movies go, it wasn't a complete waste, but I doubt I would ever consider watching it again. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 50.

Congo

By tmichael on October 26, 2002 10:14 PM

We watched a recording of Congo. This was a ridiculous movie that never should have been made. The story is of 3 different people who are going to the Congo for 3 different reasons.

To tell you how silly the movie is, one of those reasons is to return a talking gorilla to the wild. I am sorry I wasted my time with this one and hope that you don't.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 23.

Bongwater

By tmichael on October 26, 2002 10:14 PM

We watched Bongwater today. This slacker comedy was slow and boring and not very funny. All in all, there was no reason this movie should have been made.

I like the work of many of the actors in the cast, but not even they could save this turkey. I can't remember when I last saw a movie that took so long to accomplish so little. I noticed that in my TV schedule that this movie was unrated. From the title you might think that this was because they were afraid with such an obvious drug reference in the title, it might get an NC-17 rating. I think the reason it was unrated was because the filmmakers didn't want to go to the expense of having it rated.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 22.

Gone in Sixty Seconds

By tmichael on October 21, 2002 8:24 PM

We watched a recording of Gone in Sixty Seconds tonight. While it wasn't a horrible movie, it was a very obvious one. Nothing that happens in the movie will come as a surprise. With that said, there were lots of nice cars in it and the movie was slightly entertaining while we were watching it. I won't, however, be seeing it again.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 41.

The Last Castle

By tmichael on October 19, 2002 10:16 PM

We watched a recording of The Last Castle tonight. If you saw previews of this movie about an uprising in a US military prison, you might have been attracted by the star power of James Gandolfini and Robert Redford.

They are both excellent in their roles, but the most interesting part of the film is the way it examines leadership ability. Redford's character, the convicted three-star general displays a natural leadership that Gandolfini's character can't hope to match. The final confrontation is very well staged.

As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 78.

State and Main

By tmichael on October 19, 2002 10:15 PM

We watched a recorded version of State and Main recently. While Kathy wasn't all that impressed with the movie, I enjoyed it thoroughly. The plot was funny, the dialog was good and the acting was good as well. When a troubled film production moves to a small town, it is fun to watch the interactions of the colorful locals and ridiculously self-important Hollywood types.

On may scale of 1-100, I rate it an 80.

Evolution

By tmichael on October 6, 2002 8:30 PM

We watched a recording of Evolution tonight. I like the star David Duchovny and I was amused by the previews for this movie. For this reason I was disappointed by this movie. The preview definitely had the best jokes in it. Otherwise it was a diverting little movie.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 65.

2 Days in the Valley

By tmichael on October 6, 2002 3:56 PM

We watched a recorded version of 2 Days in the Valley last night. If I remember correctly this was one of the post-Pulp Fiction interlocking storyline movies. Most of these movies have tried too hard to imitate Pulp Fiction. As a result they aren't very good. This movie didn't make that mistake. Most of the characters are interesting and they are all very distinct. When you combine all of this with the début of Charlize Theron, including a nude scene makes this a movie few men wouldn't enjoy.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate this movie an 85.

Heartbreakers

By tmichael on October 6, 2002 3:54 PM

We watched a recording of Heartbreakers last weekend. Most other reviews say that this is a surprisingly good comedy. I agree with this assessment. Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Gene Hackman were all excellent. While not as funny as the classic Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, this was a fine con artist comedy.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 75.

September 2002

Deterrence

By tmichael on September 8, 2002 5:09 PM

We watched Deterrence last night. I had heard good things about this movie where the President of the United States, isolated by bad weather is confronted by a situation where he may need to use nuclear weapons.

The reviews I heard implied that it was a very good, tense psychological drama. I was sadly disappointed. The movie had a decent premise and a decent cast. The failure of this film was the ridiculous dialogue and a clear lack of understanding of some of the political issues the movie is trying to deal with.

As a result, I will have to say that this movie was only mildly diverting. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 64.

The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle

By tmichael on September 3, 2002 9:07 PM

I write this while watching The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle off cable. I then finished this entry after it was over. Such a waste of time and acting talent. There is no way this movie should have ever been shown to the public. I can’t imagine any reason anyone should watch this movie.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 35.

One Hour Photo

By tmichael on September 3, 2002 8:58 PM

We also went to see One Hour Photo over Labor Day Weekend. This movie with Robin Williams as a photo-developing clerk at a large chain store like Wal-Mart was great. Because he has nothing in his own life, he becomes obsessed with a family whose photographs he has been developing for years. Williams plays the part completely straight and with the short haircut he sports comes across as an intensely creepy.

Most of the movie is a flashback. As a result we knew from the beginning that something had happened. As we learn of his obsession of with this family the result is a great deal of tension.

All in all, a great movie. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 88.

The Good Girl

By tmichael on September 3, 2002 8:54 PM

We went to see The Good Girl this weekend. I find it very interesting that Jennifer Aniston’s acting ability is so radically different from what she is actually capable of. I thought she was wonderful in this role that goes so against her normal type.

This is movie about a woman trying to decide what to do about her life. A life that is much different from what she had imagined for herself. All the acting was great all around. I think most people who enjoy movies even those without an uplifting happy ending would enjoy this movie. I know I did.

On my scale of 1-100, rate this movie an 85.

Lost Souls

By tmichael on September 3, 2002 8:43 PM

A few weekends ago we also watched Lost Souls off of cable. In the history of apocalyptic the characters must deal with end of the world or the personification of the devil, this is one of the worst. I had heard bad reviews and was thus surprised by what a waste of time this was. I can’t imagine anyone not having something better to do than to watch this movie.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate this film a 21.

Under Suspicion

By tmichael on September 3, 2002 8:40 PM

We watched Under Suspicion off cable a couple of weekends ago. I wrote the last sentence on the date of this post, but didn't get around to writing these comments until 10/6.

This was a great movie. I thought the interplay between a police captain interrogating an attorney that he suspects of some horrific murders, was very well done. I will warn you that the crimes that are the heart of the story are the rapes and murders of two young girls. The film isn't graphic about it, but this might disturb some.

I thought that the way the plot played out was surprising and authentic at the same time. Morgan Freeman plays the police captain and Gene Hackman is the lawyer. Both are great.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate this movie an 86.

August 2002

Scary Movie 2

By tmichael on August 18, 2002 8:36 PM

We watched Scary Movie 2 off cable tonight. I wrote that last sentence back soon after seeing it, but did not write these comments until 10/6.

Let me preface my comments by saying that I enjoyed the first Scary Movie. I thought this was a waste of time. I am sorry I took time to watch it.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 22.

Little Nicky

By tmichael on August 18, 2002 8:35 PM

We watched Little Nicky off cable. The last sentence sets in time when I actually saw the movie, but I am writing this mini summary on 10/6.

I had seen many reviews of this movie and so had extremely low expectations of it. In fact I expected it to be a waste of time. The only reason I was going to watch it was because it was on cable and thus effectively free. I can definitely say I was pleasantly surprised.

Adam Sandler movies have not, to date, been great intellectual or moral statements, but when taken in context are amusing diversions. I thought this one was typical of his movie career. I laughed. I thought his appearance was a little bit disturbing, but ultimately it was another example of the nice guy following his heart and succeeding in the end. This of course was surrounded by many ridiculously juvenile jokes, but some made me laugh.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 69.

Austin Powers in Goldmember

By tmichael on August 18, 2002 8:34 PM

We went to see Austin Powers in Goldmember last weekend.

I wrote that last sentence a week after seeing the movie, but didn't get around to writing about it until 10/6. I thought this was a funny movie that had some really entertaining moments. I laughed often and was glad I went to see it. I especially enjoyed the cameos part of the movie at the beginning.

I can't recommend this movie to anyone who hasn't seen and enjoyed the first two Austin Powers movies because it definitely follows in the style of those movies. With a longer distance perspective I can say that it is a movie that can be missed unless you are a big Austin Powers fan. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 82.

Down to Earth

By tmichael on August 5, 2002 9:36 PM

We wasted time watching Down to Earth tonight. Chris Rock is funny as a standup comedian, but his choice of movie roles has left a little to be desired.

As a remake of Heaven Can Wait, a movie that I really liked, this movie simply tries to shoehorn a small piece of Rock's standup into the plot making the movie altogether awful.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 21.

Duets

By tmichael on August 5, 2002 9:34 PM

We watched Duets off cable. As a movie it was very good, but as a karaoke movie, it was amazing. I wouldn't have thought that I could enjoy a movie with karaoke as a central unifying force.

The plot has 3 pairs of people crossing the country to a meeting at a karaoke contest in the Midwest. Each of the couples is kind of brought together by circumstances and has a chance to teach each other something.

The acting is great across the board, and the cast includes, Gwyneth Paltrow, one of my favorite actresses, and Huey Lewis, one of my all time favorite singers.

I also love the character that flips out and spends almost the length of the movie "out getting a pack of cigarettes."

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 80.

American Outlaws

By tmichael on August 4, 2002 2:28 PM

We watched American Outlaws off cable today. This was a very forgettable movie. Given the way it mangles history, I think this is a good thing.

It is a mangling of the story of Jesse James, starring a bunch of folks obviously cast because they were handsome sitting on a horse.

Save your time by missing this one. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 33. I might have rated it lower, but I had low expectations going in.

SIGNS

By tmichael on August 4, 2002 2:28 PM

We saw SIGNS in the theater yesterday. I don't want to spoil the fun of anyone who hasn't seen the film, so I won't discuss many details of the plot.

This was a wonderful example of the power available to a skilled filmmaker. As both writer and director, M. Night Shyamalan does a phenomenal job of controlling the emotions of the audience. From a shot that lingers in one direction, when you are concerned with what is happening just off-screen to slightly funny moments that elicit plenty of nervous laughter, I felt totally under his control throughout. To elicit this level of tension with almost no visible violence, gore or special effects, is something few directors would even try to do these days.

The acting was great, especially that of the son played by yet another Culkin kid.

I highly recommend SIGNS. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 90.

July 2002

Save the Last Dance

By tmichael on July 27, 2002 3:28 PM

We watched Save the Last Dance off cable. I thought it was surprisingly good. It was pleasant to see an inter-racial movie that addressed, but was not overly antagonistic about race issues.

The story is of a girl who moves to a predominately minority community (how's that for an oxymoron) to live with her father, after her mother is killed in a car accident. She had been an aspiring ballerina before the accident, but gives it up because her mother was on her way to her try out when she was killed.

While not the deepest movie of all time, the acting was good and the setting and interactions of the characters was less formulaic than the average teen movie.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 70.

Road to Perdition

By tmichael on July 23, 2002 10:18 PM

We saw Road to Perdition in the theater this weekend. Great Movie!!!

I must admit I am a sucker for Tom Hanks movies. I am not sure any actor has had a stronger run of movies over the last 10 years. I am not even sure that one has had as good a 10-year stretch ever.

This movie is definitely one of the best. I love the father son relationship. I love the self-sacrifice. I love that actions, no matter how well intentioned have consequences. I love this movie.

It is violent. If you dislike violence, it may not be the movie for you.

The rest of the acting was superb as well, but my favorite aspect of this film was the cinematography. The look of this film was amazing. Clearly one of the best movies of the year.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 96.

The Van

By tmichael on July 23, 2002 9:33 PM

We watched a cable showing of The Van. As the final part of the Barrytown trilogy, it follows The Commitments and The Snapper. I haven't seen The Snapper, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Commitments.


While Then Van has just as many quirky characters, I found the plot a lot less substantial than its more enjoyable counterpart. There wasn't much that I disliked about this movie, but without a deep interest in Irish culture, I didn't just love it.

On my scale from 1-100, I rate it a 67.

Things You Can Tell By Looking At Her

By tmichael on July 23, 2002 8:49 PM

We watched Things You Can Tell By Looking At Her off cable. The movie is made up of a series of scenes with a variety of characters. The links between the scenes only become apparent as the movie progresses. Really, it was mostly a bunch of character studies.

I enjoyed the acting and trying to put together the plot. Unfortunately, there wasn't really much of one. So on my scale from 1-100, I rate it a 66.

Chuck & Buck

By tmichael on July 14, 2002 8:51 PM

I watched Chuck&Buck (2000) off of cable late this afternoon.

Wow, what a creepy movie. I am sure that someone might find it an insightful look into a disturbed man, but I just found it disturbing.

The title characters were friends in their youth. They are reunited when Buck's mother dies and Chuck returns for the funeral. Chuck now Charles is a successful record executive, while Buck appears to have stopped developing at age 11. That is the age when they were friends and had done some sexual experimentation with each other.

Buck is fixated on that time and is soon stalking Chuck. Like I said, disturbing. The plot I have described doesn't guarantee a bad movie, but this one offers so little insight into why Buck is the way he is, that it only succeeded in being a waste of my time.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 20.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

By tmichael on July 14, 2002 6:13 PM

We went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding this afternoon.

It was a funny, silly little movie. Some might say that it had too many strereotypes, but I have always thought that stereotypes often reflect an aspect of people, though usually only the outward surface aspect. As a result, I thought it was appropriate in this movie, which centers on a woman who has grown up in a large greek family and her struggle when she falls in love with a non greek man.

Ultimately, this comedy with a love story does make an interesting and fun little outing. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 70.

Osmosis Jones

By tmichael on July 13, 2002 10:10 PM

We watched Osmosis Jones off of cable this afternoon. I remember thinking that it looked funny back when it was in theaters. There were just enough other movies, to ensure that we never saw it.

I am glad we didn't spend the money to see it there. The preview made it look funny, especially the animated parts voiced by Chris Rock. Unfortunately, I think almost all of the funny parts were in the preview.

The movie had a few chuckles, but ultimately probably wasn't worth my time. As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 34.

MR. DEEDS

By tmichael on July 13, 2002 9:19 PM

We went to see MR. DEEDS in the theater today. I had read quite a few negative reviews. For this reason, I had really low expectations. I thought it was funny. I liked Adam Sandler's nice guy.

It certainly doesn't deserve any consideration come Oscar time, but I thought that it was worth seeing. This is especially true for anyone that gets a chuckle from Adam Sandler movies. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 75.

American Buffalo

By tmichael on July 10, 2002 10:29 PM

I watched American Buffalo tonight. Based on a David Mamet play this movie was all dialogue driven.

I probably wasn't really in the mood for this sort of a movie, but I wasn't as enthralled as the makers intended. It also starred Dennis Franz who has never been one of my favorites.

As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 65.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

By tmichael on July 10, 2002 9:30 PM

We watched Lara Croft: Tomb Raider off of cable last night. I can certainly say as a result, that I am glad I didn't pay to see it in the theater.

As an action movie it wasn't horrible, but the plot was laughable. The action sequences were mediocre at best.

On a scale of 1-100, I rate it a 40.

MEN IN BLACK II

By tmichael on July 10, 2002 9:02 PM

Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, we saw MEN IN BLACK II in San Antonio. I enjoyed it. I didn't have very high expectations so that was easy to do.

If you enjoyed the first one and enjoy revisiting characters you found funny, then you will probably be glad you saw this.

The plot was not terribly interesting, but it was really almost irrelevant to what the movie was trying to do. As a result, on my scale of 1-100, I rate it 84.

the Cell

By tmichael on July 10, 2002 8:46 PM

Soon after seeing Insomnia, I saw t h e C e l l off of cable. All in all, it was obviously an ambitious movie. I think it fell a little short of its ambition.

It was interesting though to see all of the visuals that were created to represent the imaginary worlds of the characters.

The plot was ultimately very predictable and solely created to enable the special effects driven dream sequences. As a result on my scale of 1-100, I rate it at 68.

Insomnia

By tmichael on July 10, 2002 8:29 PM

The day after seeing But I'm a Cheerleader, we went to see Insomnia at the theater.

I thought this movie was great for a variety of reasons. I loved Al Pacino's portrayal and I thought Robin Williams was great cast against his type. I thought the plot was good and the scenery was fantastic. I thought the scene with the logs was very scary and cool. My favorite aspect of the film was the way the film portrayed the effects of Al Pacino's character's Insomnia.

On my scale from 1-100, I rate the film at 85.

But I'm a Cheerleader

By tmichael on July 10, 2002 8:14 PM

About a week ago I saw But I'm a Cheerleader off cable. Ultimately I thought this was a very forgettable movie. I hoped it would be a funny satire of certain attitudes about gays and lesbians.

Unfortunately, it wasn't really worth my time. On my scale of 1-100, I rate this movie a 35.

June 2002

The Big Red One

By tmichael on June 22, 2002 3:01 PM

I just watched The Big Red One off cable. I remember having seen this movie long ago and so I wanted to see it again and see what I thought about it now.

I find it interesting that the level of violence in a war movie only garners a PG rating. While certainly not as graphic Saving Private Ryan or other modern movies, it is still surprising.

The story was an interesting overview of the Second World War in Europe. It stretched from the invasion of North Africa to Sicily to the Italian mainland to D-Day to Belgium to a concentration in Czechoslovakia.

The most surprising aspect of the movie was that one of the stars of the movie was none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.

I think one of the better anti-war statements ever made in film is the following lines:

[The troop stops before a memorial]

Johnson: Would you look at how fast they put the names of all our guys who got killed?

The Sergeant: That's a World War One memorial.

Johnson: But the names are the same.

The Sergeant: They always are.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate this movie a 68.

Minority Report

By tmichael on June 22, 2002 2:24 PM

We went to see Minority Report at the theater yesterday. This movie has been getting a lot of hype. Specifically there is quit a bit of discussion about what the right balance of security versus individual liberty.

This certainly is timely given the current methods being used in the war on terrorism. With that in mind I did not find this movie as thought provoking as many that see it as an important metaphor for the issues of the modern day.

As a sci-fi action film though I found it very interesting and exciting. Tom Cruise makes for a decent action hero and Spielberg is perhaps the most consistently rewarding director to have made movies in the last 30 years.

I loved that although set 50 years in the future, efforts had been made to make the setting seem like plausible advances from the present. After discussing this with Kathy, though I did come to one conclusion about what I found to be unrealistic. The major unbelievable development was the utterly fascinating highway system. While I found them believable as a future development of transportation infrastructure, I think 50 years is much to short a time to have as developed system as was shown.

I was also a fan of the future computer interface, though I am not sure that it is really that much better than current interfaces.

Definitely a movie worth seeing. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it an 86.

Apocalypse Now Redux

By tmichael on June 22, 2002 1:54 PM

We watched Apocalypse Now Redux off cable. This is the 2001 rerelease of Apocalypse Now with the addition of several scenes that were cut from the movie before its original release.

Personally, I have seen the orginal version too many times. As a result I think the new version was too long and less focused than the original. I also think that it was even more ambitious than the original.

All in all, I was disappointed with this movie only because I had such a high regard for the original version. On my scale of 1-100, I rate this version a 71.

By tmichael on June 20, 2002 6:08 PM

Watched Supernova off cable. This movie had passed through the theaters so quickly I had extremely low expectations for it. It only made it onto my viewing list because it was science fiction. I have a weak spot for sci-fi.

The movie can be summarized as an action movie in a sci-fi framework. I thought the framework was interesting. I thought the special effects were good, though not spectacular. The movie is weakest when it gives in to action, but the plot isn't complex enough to avoid it.

By far this movie was much better than I expected. On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 65.

THE BOURNE IDENTITY

By tmichael on June 20, 2002 5:44 PM

We went to see THE BOURNE IDENTITY on Wednesday.

All in all this was a good action movie. I enjoyed it, though it reinforced my boredom with hand-to-hand combat. I liked the car chase quite a bit, though I wonder if that was product placement to have the hero driving a Cooper Mini.

In the end, forgettable.

On my scale of 1-100, I rate it a 70.

The Others

By tmichael on June 20, 2002 5:20 PM

While in Atlanta, we got to see The Others on DVD. This movie received rave reviews all around our group. This was a supernatural thriller that I found amazingly compelling. I thought the acting was strong throughout.

Interestingly, part way through the movie I thought I could guess what the payoff explanation of all the occurrences would be. I also thought that the level of expectation the movie had built to was going to make the payoff a bit anti-climatic. I am happy to say that I was wrong on both counts.

Set in an isolated house in the 1940's, it deals with a mother of 2 children with a medical condition that makes them allergic to light. While she longs for the return of her husband from the war, they all experience phenomenon that defy easy explanation.

If you see this film, I would love to discuss it with you.

On my scale from 1-100, I rate this film a 90.

The Anniversary Party

By tmichael on June 20, 2002 5:08 PM

While visiting some of our best friends in Atlanta we had a chance to see The Anniversary Party on DVD. I had a higher opinion of the movie than everyone else, though all expressed positive thoughts.

This is an actor’s movie. What little plot it had was designed to create space for the wonderful and wide-ranging acting.

To summarize the movie quickly, the entire movie takes place in 24 hours surrounding the anniversary party for the 2 main characters. They are trying to patch up their marriage after a time of separation. He is getting ready to direct a movie based on his novel. She is an actress that most people assume that the main character in the novel is based upon. Amongst the many items adding tension to the movie is the fact that he has cast a younger actress in that part in his new movie and this actress has been invited to the party.

There are several other plot lines that weave through this movie. I thought they were all partially responsible for the success of the movie, but I found this on the most compelling.

Its most fascinating aspect was that the younger actress role would often be conceived as someone of clearly lesser intelligence and/or talent who got the part, simply because of extreme ageism. This turns out not be the case. The result is a much stronger movie.

Some may not like this movie, because of either the drug use or simply how far removed the lives of these characters are from their own. I choose to see the universal in these characters. As such I thought it was very good. On my rating scale of 1-100, I rate it an 87.

Pollock

By tmichael on June 8, 2002 10:03 PM

Just today saw Pollock off cable. Very strong acting performances were rewarded by the Academy in nominations and one Oscar. I have a very limited knowledge of modern art, but I found this portrait of Jackson Pollock to be very interesting. As with any movie, I am sure those who are very familiar with his life story may find serious flaws, but I feel slightly more knowledgeable for having seen it.

Watching the movie brought to mind again, the question of can one be a true genius without being at least partially crazy? Or is it just that someone redefining the boundaries is by their very nature outside of the boundaries of their time?

It certainly seems from this movie, Pollock succeeded despite some real personal demons. Not fast paced, but certainly interesting. On my scale from 1-100, I rate this movie a 77.

THE SUM OF ALL FEARS

By tmichael on June 8, 2002 9:52 PM

Went to see THE SUM OF ALL FEARS at the theater. This movie was mildly entertaining while viewing. If you enjoy spy movies, then you won't find it a waste of time, but you also won't put it into your top ten list.

Personally, as an avid reader of Tom Clancy's books, I had the most fun imagining how thoroughly this movie destroys the timeline that runs through the books. All of the previous movies actually made some attempt to stick to the timeline. It was also interesting to see Alec Baldwin who became Harrison Ford is now Ben Affleck. Also to see that James Earl Jones is now Morgan Freeman, and William Dafoe is now Lieb Schrieber.

If you are very sensitive to scenes of destruction after Sept. 11th, I would recommend skipping this movie. With that in mind, I was disappointed with the special effects. I had seen warnings similar to my own, that lead me to believe that I was going to see very intense scenes of destruction. If you have seen a trailer, then I think you have seen almost 40% of the scenes so you may also be underwhelmed.

On my scale from 1-100, I give the movie a go see it if you want to see a movie and nothing better is showing rating of 69.

The Tao of Steve

By tmichael on June 8, 2002 9:33 PM

Watched the Tao of Steve off cable. I thought it was funny and pleasant. Definately an adults only movie, because of the language and main topic. The movie revolves around Dex, a man who as a college grad with a degree in philosophy develops a philosophy for success with women that revolves around the great Steve's of pop culture.

The movie is well acted and the dialogue is very funny in that way that movies can be where instant recall of an appropriate reference to ideas of both pop culture or esoterica is always available. My favorite was when Dex compares the American slacker to the Tibetan monk. He sums up his defense of the slacker by saying that everyone acts like something is cooler, just because it happens in a foreign country.

On a scale of 1-100, I give it a solid 81.

Dr. Dolittle 2

By tmichael on June 5, 2002 6:11 PM

Saw Dr. Dolittle 2 off cable. It had its moments, but with a little reflection I have decided that there wasn't much to it. If you like animal humor, then it isn't a waste of time, but I can't imagine anyone needing to see it more than once. My rating on a scale of 1-100 is 65.

About A Boy

By tmichael on June 1, 2002 12:25 PM

Saw About A Boy yesterday. I liked it a lot. I thought it had a good heart and a fun perspective. I also admit that Hugh Grant is like Julia Roberts to me. I wish I could dislike them, but I find them charming/appealing. If you dislike Hugh, you won't enjoy this movie. Otherwise, I think you will find it fun. On a scale of 1-100, I rate this movie an 87.

May 2002

Coyote Ugly

By tmichael on May 27, 2002 6:13 PM

Just watched Coyote Ugly off cable. Wow what a forgetable movie. I guess the movie is pretty much what I expected. All in all a waste of time. Not bad, just pointless. I would only recommend it to someone who is a big fan of one of the cast members who is trying to see every movie that person has ever made. No one will be embarassed for having been in this movie unless they turned down an opportunity to be in a good movie instead.

Given the dreck Hollywood is capable of producing, on a scale from 1-100 I would rate it a 40.

The Dish

By tmichael on May 23, 2002 10:08 AM

Just saw Dish, The (2000) off cable. This is a delightful movie filled with quirky characters. It revolves around a radio telescope in rural Australia and the role it played in showing the world man's first steps on the moon. Sweet and funny throughout, this movie reminds you how even very obscure individuals must do their part for historic events to have the impact they did. I highly recommend it. On my scale from 1-100 I rate it 85. It might have received a higher rating if I hadn't thought of it as a one time only movie, due to its straightforward plot.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

By tmichael on May 17, 2002 3:48 PM

Having seen the Attack of the Clones yesterday. I wanted to state that only reviews that put their opinion into context should be trusted. As a stand alone film, it is probably not much better than any other special effects driven movie of the last 5 years. Within the context of the ongoing Star Wars Saga, I think it is clearly a step up from the Phantom Menace. Much of the dialogue is that patented Lucas style. One that I am not sure he could give away.

That is my criticism, but in the end I found all of that to be easily forgiven. I loved this movie and I can't imagine anyone who enjoys the Star Wars Saga disliking it. As result on a scale of 1-100 I give it 2 ratings. Standalone, 65 (fabulous effects, weak dialogue). Within the saga 95 (points off for dialogue, bonus points for the very attractive Natalie Portman and Yoda, see it and you will know what I mean).

After seeing it again on 5/26/2002, I highly recommend seeing it with a DLP (digital light projector) if possible.

On a related note I think this page had an interesting twist on how to look at the Star Wars Universe. Not that I agree with it. Enjoy...

The Case for the Empire

The Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship Of The Ring

By tmichael on May 11, 2002 9:21 PM

The Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship Of The Ring

Kathy and I just went to see this movie again today. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I don't think that it is a great movie, but simply a very good one. I find that having read and enjoyed the book which it is based upon, I have a hard time viewing it outside of the context of the book. I thought the acting was excellent and the adaptation from the book was one of the best I have ever seen. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the book, but honestly if you are interested in this sort of thing you have seen it already.

I plan to write about my movie viewing from now on and just had to pick one to start with. My next movie will probably be something off cable. Maybe I will say more about it.