M - R
 
Manhattan

A-

Woody Allen is a filmmaker that I think you either love or hate.  I personally like his work.  And especially since moving to New York, I really love his earlier films like Annie Hall and now, Manhattan

Nutshell: Single man looking for love finds it (sort of) in his best friend's former mistress.  But as it turns out, he's really in love with his ex-girlfriend, a 17 year old student at Dalton.

It's interesting that this should be the premise considering the dastardly turn Allen's personal life took 15 years later.  Even though Allen's character is immensely flawed and its sometimes difficult to sympathize with him, the movie is incredibly honest and real.  The fact that it was shot beautifully in black and white adds to the authenticity.

Posted Tuesday, March 3, 2003

 

The Matrix Reloaded

A-

I saw Reloaded nearly a month ago when it first opened.  But I was thinking I would see it a second time before I did my review.  I probably will see it again, at least on IMAX.

Opening weekend, I saw it with a friend who is not a die-hard Matrixer.  At one point near the end, she exclaimed "This sucks!"  To which I replied that she, in fact, sucked and then we laughed.  She just doesn't get it.  OK, now I will concede that some of Reloaded was convoluted but let's cut the Wachowskis a little slack.  As a friend put it, there are two reasons Reloaded was a bit of a let down.  One, there was so much hype that nothing could live up to it.  And two, it's the second of a three part series so it has to bridge the opener and the finale. 

Overall, I liked it because I'm a complete geek girl and get off on things like special effects, camera tricks and whatnot.  I have four big complaints.  The "Burly Brawl" sucked considering it was supposed to be the next "big thing" and was way too quidditchy (i.e. animated).  The first movie's soundtrack was respectable but this one blew.  Even the score was hideous; so bad that during the "Burly Brawl" (god, I hate that name), I stopped and noticed how poor the music was.  The third thing was The Architect.  What the hell was he talking about?  I was so distracted by the visuals that I had no idea what he was talking about.  The ending was not suspenseful.  It should have ended with "Will Trinity live or die?"  That would have been a better cliffhanger in my opinion.  I was hoping when I left the theatre I would be freaked and wouldn't be able to wait for Revolutions in November.  Now, I'm like, "meh".

I've downloaded the audio and will transcribe the Architect's scene so that I can better understand what was going on.  And I will see Reloaded again.  If I have different things to say, I'll update.

Posted Tuesday, June 17, 2003

 

The Matrix Revolutions

B-

So I finally saw it. And while I didn’t hate it, the ending was extremely anticlimactic. Considering how the trilogy started with a bang, it went out like a walk in the park. Literally. I believe that the end was left ambiguous to leave it open for a fourth movie. But the Wachowskis need to wait a good five years for fans to forget the let down.

As in the first two, the acting was sub par and the special effects were good. The script was nearly as cryptic as Reloaded; I’m still a little unsure about the relationship between the Architect and the Oracle. Revolutions takes place mostly in Zion and the machine world. I think that’s the main problem. The initial appeal of The Matrix (at least for me) is living in the regular world unaware that you have “super powers”. One pill and you awaken into a new world of instantaneous kung fu moves and helicopter piloting. I hate to be so trivial as to write that Revolutions was a bummer but that’s pretty much what it amounted to.

Posted Monday, December 15, 2003

 

Monsoon Wedding

B-

I watched Monsoon Wedding on VOD today. It was pretty good.

Nutshell: Indian family gathering for arranged wedding of daughter, who is still seeing her married lover, slight chaos ensues, romance prevails.

My only complaint is that there were too many characters for me to follow. I don't know for a fact, but perhaps Indian families are large. Regardless, there were about 5 stories going on at once and because of some thick accents, I didn't know what everyone's name was. I would still recommend the film.

Posted Thursday, December 26, 2002

 
My Big Fat Greek Wedding

B-

I didn't really want to see this movie.  But after reading so much about it and getting referrals from people I know, I buckled under the pressure.  It's a cute movie.  That's pretty much it.  The story behind the movie's birth is more heartwarming than the actual film.  But hats off to Nia Vardalos to finding a way into Hollywood by making her own way.

Funny story about seeing this movie though . . . I saw it in a theatre with about 25 other people.  Most of whom were Greek, Russian, Polish, etc. so they probably had more of a connection to the story than I did.  Also, everyone must have seen this movie a few times before because half way through, I realized everyone else was laughing in anticipation of funny things to happen.  Sitting in front of me was a woman in her 30s and her mother and I think they were Greek.  Well, at the end, when the father gives Toula and Ian a very generous wedding gift, I realize the two women are balling.  Flat out gasping crying sobs.  Which sucked me in and I started to tear a bit too.  Well, I thought it was funny.

Posted Monday, January 20, 2003

 

Mystic River

B-

I tried, I really did. 

Nutshell: Three boys are playing in the streets of South Boston when one is taken by strangers and held for four days, possibly sexually assaulted.  Fast forward 25 years, one is a cop, one is an ex-con gone legit and the third, the abductee, well, not really sure what he does except drink and act strangely around his wife.  The ex-con's oldest daughter is murdered, the cop is assigned to the case and the abductee, well, again with the strange.  Madness, murder and mistakes ensue.

I am a fan of Sean Penn (the ex-con) and I think he is one of the most authentic acting talents in Hollywood.  I agree that his performance was wonderful and hopefully, he will be rewarded with nominations.  However, and this is a big however, Mystic River is one of the most disappointing movies I've seen in a long time.  With all the talent behind this movie, it's a shame that such an uneven film was produced.  The story was choppy and quite predictable.  I won't tell you whodunit but it's pretty obvious about half way through.  Overall, this movie was beyond overdramatic, punctuated by the weak script, unbelievable characters and exaggerated score.

Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2003

 

Personal Velocity

A

I had read about this movie and meant to see it in the theatre.  But I was glad I saw it on DVD because it's one of those boutique films.  Personal Velocity is formatted into three separate stories each focusing on one woman and her particular turning point.  The title reflects the theme that each person moves at their own pace in life and how these woman come to deal with that fact.

This film by Rebecca Miller is based on her book of the same title.  It is expertly written, acted, directed and shot; one of the most beautiful looking films of 2002.  But its really the acting that stunned me.  The first vignette is about Delia, once the town slut, now the neighborhood's hot mom.  Kyra Sedgewick is phenomenal and totally wipes away the wholesome image I had of her from Singles.  The next features Parker Posey, the Queen of Indie, who is excellent as the never-satisfied New York book editor stumbling her way to the top and leaving hearts in her wake.  The last which ties them together quite subtly is about Paula, a beautiful but unpolished scamp constantly escaping when things get "too safe".  I won't tell you about each storyline because it unfolds so beautifully and deftly and I don't think I could do it justice.  Please see this film.

Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2003

 
The Pianist

A-

I was really looking forward to seeing this film.  Considering what I'd read, I just knew this would be the movie of the year.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  Don't get me wrong, The Pianist is a wonderful film but it's not the movie of the year.  The subject matter is difficult and at times, I had to cover my eyes from the rawness of the violence.  Films like these are important and it's clear that Roman Polanski took great care with the story, which in part is his own as well. 

Where I think the script and direction lacked, Adrien Brody more than made up for it.  His performance is astounding and I fully appreciate his commitment to the role and his respect for the subject.  Most actors say it's the most difficult thing to play a real person.  But I'm sure only Brody knows how difficult it is to become a real person.

Posted Sunday, January 19, 2003

 

Punch Drunk Love

B+

I adore Paul Thomas Anderson.  He is an amazing filmmaker and whether his subjects are porn stars or Los Angeles depressives, he presents them so artfully and emotionally.  I can see where Anderson gets his inspiration but I honestly don't know how he manipulates it into a story.  His films are all unique and quirky.

Punch Drunk Love is no exception.  It's the story of Barry Egan, a lonely man surrounded by women (mostly his own sisters) who continually emasculate him.  With the odd arrival of a harmonium, comes the arrival of a lonely woman who is there to rescue Barry and bring him into Life.  I am not a fan of Adam Sandler, per se, but he is too too perfect in the role of Barry Egan, who I think is the most romantic, sweetest character on film this past year.

Posted Sunday, December 22, 2002

 

The Quiet American

B+

I will be the first person to say that I know nothing about the history of Vietnam and the events that led up to the war 40 years ago.  Now, I doubt that everything in the movie was true as it is based on a novel by Graham Greene but it does provide a creative framework for America's involvement in Southeast Asia at the time.

Nutshell:  British journalist has been living in Saigon as a correspondent for the London Times for two years.  In that time, he has acquired a beautiful young mistress.  Upon befriending a young American medical aid worker, the two begin to vie for the heart of the young woman who must chose the most secure suitor.  It all ends with murder but is it brought on by betrayal of the heart or betrayal of humanity.

I recommend this film but I can't say why.  I was just captivated by the story but left nonplussed by the acting and direction.  Brendan Fraser is good and I hope he uses this as a compass with which to guide his role selection.

Posted Sunday, March 16, 2003

 
The Ring

C

I really wanted to see this movie.  I like scary movies and heard from so many people that The Ring delivered.  One guy said it was so scary, he had nightmares.  Which, I thought, was saying a lot.  I'm glad I saw it in a theatre because I wouldn't want to watch this at home on video.

But I was pretty disappointed in the movie.  In every scary movie, there's a villain.  And somewhere along the way, we learn why the villain went bad.  Sometimes, the villain, like Freddy Kruger is just evil and you have no sympathy for him in any way and he doesn't stop.  But with The Ring, you learn why the villain went bad and you feel sympathy for her.  But she's still evil, there's no way to stop her.  This may have been a box office hit but that's the only thing going for it.

Also this is a remake of Japanese movie done only 4 years ago.  And I hate it when that happens.  It's a cop-out when American filmmakers redo a foreign film that isn't even that old.  I had the same problem with Vanilla Sky.

Posted Monday, January 20, 2003