any good movies?
KEY: ( A ) Worth new rental price ( B
) Worth catalog rental price ( C ) Worth rental if free
( D ) Worth avoiding ( F ) Worth burning down the video
store for even stocking one copy
American Beauty ( D ) - Yeah it was
popular, but I can't figure out why. None of the characters
were appealing or sympathetic, the story was pointless, the symbolism at
the beginning pretty much vanished a third of the way through the film,
and I was left with a very queasy feeling at the end -- not from the unnecessarily
and pointlessly violent ending, but from the fact that the story was just
so damned ugly.
Analyze This ( B ) - A solidly funny
movie that doesn't feel quite right. Robert DeNiro does a good job
parodying his old mafioso boss role, Billy Crystal is good in his nervous
yuppie psychiatrist role, and the interactions between them is usually
fun and sometimes hysterical. Overall, though, something is missing,
and I don't quite know what. Oh yeah, motivation.
Apt Pupil ( B ) - Creepy and disturbing
in traditional Stephen King fashion, this movie based on the novel tells
of a high school student who becomes fascinated with the Holocaust, and
soon discovers an old Nazi officer living in secrecy in his home town.
The twisted mental games they play on each other and other characters are
quite intense, weaving through overtones of torture, homosexuality, and
death, culminating in a bizarre climax that justifies the title of the
film. Oh yeah, and you get to see Brad Renfro stark raving nekkid.
Arlington Road ( D ) - This film starts
out good and remains suspenseful and interesting through most of the story,
until they decide to throw in a totally unbelievable and irritating plot
twist which shoots to hell an otherwise potentially good movie. Michael
Faraday (played by Jeff Bridges), the conspiracy-theory buff slash political
science college professor slash widower of an FBI agent, discovers that
the Ward-and-June-Cleaver couple across the street (played by Tim Robbins
and Joan Cusack) -- of whom he's been suspicious for a while -- really
crazy anti-government terrorists who have been framing others for blowing
up Federal buildings and who have no motivation for having a large and
vast organization of sophisticated terrorists who like to slaughter Government
employees by the hundreds, outside some totally vague reference to the
Kent State massacre which they don't even bother to spend any time developing.
And of course, through a totally coincidental turn of events that the terrorists
somehow set up or predicted, Faraday rents a car, tries to chase down his
kidnapped son, somehow gets the bomb put in his trunk, and follows the
wrong van to the J. Edgar Hoover building, delivering the bomb he was ironically
trying to stop, and of course dies in the explosion and is ultimately blamed
as "a desperate man acting alone seeking revenge for his wife's death"
by the FBI, who apparently has no idea how to follow up on any of the numerous
loose threads left behind that point quite directly to the real
bombers, who get off scot-free. Sorry to blow the plot for you, but
you didn't want to see it anyway.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me ( A
) - The original Austin Powers is one of my all-time favorite comedies,
and the sequel, amazingly enough, lives up to the original. Though
they didn't have novelty on their side anymore, they made up for it with
added humour and playing up on some of the running gags of the first movie.
Mike Myers as "Fat Bastard," the incredibly fat and ill-mannered Scotsman,
is a riot. And the new 1/8th scale Dr. Evil clone, Mini Me, is a
novelty character that actually doesn't get tiresome. The biggest
surprise of all in this movie hands-down is that it's as good as everyone
hoped it would be but knew it wouldn't be.
But I'm a Cheerleader ( C ) - A very
amusing but not very well executed story about Megan, a peppy blonde cheerleader
(played by Natasha Lyonne) whose family and friends are convinced that
she's a lesbian. So they ship her off against her will to a "de-gaying"
camp, run by Mary, a fascist, painted-up old lady with a mean streak a
mile wide (played by Cathy Moriarty), and her assistant, a "former homosexual"
(played by RuPaul Charles, who is RuPaul out of drag). Of course,
Megan meets and falls in love with Graham (Clea DuVall), lesbian hijinks
ensue, and everything works out in the end. The film's biggest failing
is that Natasha Lyonne seems totally incapable of any emotion besides a
whiny pout, and this proves to be so irrirating that the film's basically
ruined by it.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ( A )
- Regardless of what you think of kung-fu movies, this film is worth seeing.
I'd recommend it to anyone across the human spectrum. Set sometime
during the golden age of China's past, the story revolves around Lu Mu
Bai (played by Chow Yun Fat) and Lu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), two masters
of combat who do a whole lot of ass-kicking and flying around in the air.
Honestly, this movie's worth seeing just for the fighting... it's simply
amazing. The movie's entirely in Chinese with English subtitles,
which takes a little getting used to, and the plot is rather foreign to
an American audience, but it's a great experience that's only heightened
by the foreign flavour.
Dancer, Texas ( B ) - A simple movie
about 4 friends in a tiny Texas town who decide to leave once they graduate
high school, and then have second thoughts. The cinematography is
spectacular and the mood is mellow yet still capturing. A good film
to watch if you don't want much action but still want a movie about real
people with real character, and pretty countryside.
Dracula 2000 ( D ) - Leave it to Wes
Craven to take something that could have possibly been (at best) a campy,
corny horror movie and turn it into a totally worthless Christian recruitment
film. The film basically revolves around the fact that Van Helsing,
Dracula's infamous nemesis from Bram Stoker's original novel, never managed
to destroy Dracula back in the late 1800s like the book told (apparently
he couldn't figure out a way to do it). So instead, he locked him
up in a steel coffin and kept him buried in a really high-security vault
under an ultra-high-class antique dealer's London shop run by Van Helsing's
grandson. So that's the setup, and the action of the movie degenerates
into something that looks like it was rejected from a Nightmare on Elm
Street XVII brainstorm session: Dracula's coffin is stolen by foolhearty
treasure thieves, Dracula escapes and bites a bunch of people, Van Helsing's
grandson (who we later find out is Van Helsing himself, who's been keeping
himself alive with Dracula's blood) tries to chase him down. Of course,
Van Helsing gets killed, and it's up to his estranged daughter to finish
the job. At the end we find out that Dracula is in fact Judas Iscariot
who betrayed Christ so many years ago (as the fable goes), and right before
he dies, he finds Christ's love again by getting hanged off a huge neon
cross and burning up in the sunrise, and apparently ascends to Heaven.
See, even Dracula can go to heaven as long as he loves Christ. I
guess slaughtering thousands of innocent souls over the centuries comes
to naught in the eyes of Our Lord. Too bad Van Helsing never thought
of wheeling Dracula's casket out in the sunlight and opening it some time
in the 100-plus years he had to think about it... that could have spared
us this ridiculous, preachy, totally worthless film.
The General's Daughter ( A ) - An intense,
well-written drama about a bizarre sex act gone wrong and the investigations
into it, which get complicated many times over and eventually result in
a suspenseful, boggling climax. This film, set almost entirely in
a southern Army base, touches on many sensitive issues such as women in
the army, rape, Army law and punishment, and what it means to be a "soldier,"
and deals fairly and harshly with all of them. All of the acting
is convincing and realistic, and John Travolta proves again that, despite
his ludicrous belief in Scientology, he's a good, smart actor who can handle
tense roles. And of course, James Woods is in it, which means it'd
be at least watchable.
Get Real ( A ) - The rarest of teenage
sex comedies that's neither insultingly stupid nor pointless... it centers
around a high school senior who falls in love with the school's track star,
who he soon finds out shares his love... but it ain't that easy, of course.
Basically, boy meets boy, boy fucks boy, shit hits fan. An inspiring
story with a somewhat disappointing -- though agreeable -- ending.
Holy Man ( F ) - Jeff Goldblum's incessant
neuroses are beyond irritating, Eddie Murphy's character is shallow and
contrived, the dialogue is incredibly stupid in most parts, and the storyline
just sucks. There are a few funny parts towards the middle, but they're
not worth sitting through the film for. The script is so badly written
that it makes you wonder what Hollywood filmmakers won't produce.
This is one of the few movies that make me nauseous just remembering.
The Impostors ( B ) - This film starts
out very slowly, but it does pick up after about 15 or 20 minutes.
As it progresses, it gets funnier and more clever, and at the end you're
convinced it's a triumph. Many parts are incredibly funny, and just
about every role is well-acted, especially leads Stanley Tucci and Oliver
Platt as brothers. Some may find the humour a little on the dry and/or
on the intellectual side, which is why you've probably never heard of this
movie -- John Q. Public prefers neanderthal idiots like Adam Sandler making
The Iron Giant ( A ) - I've heard this
movie didn't do well at the box office, which is a real shame. Finally,
Hollywood gives us an animated movie without any dippy songs or cutesy
characters whose sole existence revolves around merchandising, and it doesn't
do well... go fig. The plot is well written too, and although it's
a bit on the simplistic side, it's well executed and is mature enough for
adults and older children: basically, young Maine resident Hogarth Hughes
discovers a huge but friendly robot that fell to earth, and the late 1950's
US Government is paranoid about it and wants to blow it up. The PG
rating is the first clue that this isn't another Disney sing-along, and
although there's nothing in it that younger children couldn't see, there's
utterances of "hell" and "damn" and a bitchin' scene where the robot wigs
out, whips out a bunch of awesome fusion-looking weapons, and blows a lot
of shit up, culminating ultimately in a US-launched nuclear strike against
it; these are clues that Hollywood might finally be getting the idea that
the rest of us (the over-10 category) appreciate animation aimed primarily
at us. Despite disappointing ticket sales, I really hope they'll
do more animated movies like this.
The Matrix ( A ) - Though Keanu Reaves
has never been my favourite actor, especially in roles like the horrible
this movie is actually well done. Keanu's acting is marginally convincing,
and the plot was exciting and rather original, keeping me transfixed up
until the end, when it ended without much explanation of what the hell
was gonna happen. Over all, though, the film is quite good, full
of plot twists and nice special effects.
Mission to Mars ( C ) - Despite the
fact that the movie relied
way too much on crappy Hollywood plot
tricks and shoddy character development, the idea behind the movie (not
to mention the near-future technology) was really intriguing. And
it probably speaks to my frustration that in real life, NASA's about
as close to sending men to Mars as the Pope is to declaring his homosexuality.
The Mummy ( B ) - Though the plot is
rather hokey and the acting isn't exactly believable, the movie is quite
fun and the Egyptology side is rather interesting too. I don't think
the makers intended the film to be taken very seriously, which is the only
reason it works as well as it does. The special effects add a lot,
too, and are probably the only thing that make this stylistically B-movie
Orgazmo ( C ) - Despite the predictably
low-brow, obscene-for-obscenity's-sake humour Trey Parker brings into everything
(most notably his quickly aging show South Park), this movie is
actually rather funny. There's something inherently amusing about
a Mormon missionary becoming a porn star while still retaining his ultra-orthodox
beliefs. Don't expect anytyhing from this movie and you will probably
be okay with it. The only nudity, strangely enough, is guys' butts.
Lots and lots of guys' butts. Oh yeah, and a 400-pound dominatrix.
Pirates of Silicon Valley ( B ) - A
must-see for any computer geek, this film explores the beginnings of the
careers of arch-rivals Bill Gates (Anthony Michael Hall) and Steve Jobbs
(Noah Wyle), the pioneers of the modern computer era, and follows them
all the way up till the 1997(?) forging of Microsoft and Apple's ironic
partnership. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in how an amazingly
intelligent morally bankrupt geek (Gates) and an amazingly crafty mean-spirited
acid-head (Jobbs) can become two of the richest people on earth.
Plunkett and Macleane ( A ) - This movie
will probably come and go from the theaters quicker than Universal Soldier
2. It's a shame too, because it's quite a good movie. The
story is of two "gentlemen" highwaymen in 18th Century England who rob
from the rich and give to themselves. The costuming is fantastic,
the character portrayals are fantastic, and the portrayal of the people
and land is very disgusting, and quite accurate. This movie is kind
of like the dark half of Shakespeare In Love, with lots of use of
the perfectly-period word "fuck."
The Prince of Egypt ( B ) - Beautifully
animated and tasteful enough to avoid making any indication whether or
not it's supposed to be considered fiction (which to 90% of the world,
it would be). The story of Moses freeing the Jews from their slavery
under the Egyptians is probably the least gruesome Old Testament story
they could have animated while still hoping for a "G" rating, so don't
expect a sequel.
Princess Mononoke ( B ) - Wow, an anime
that isn't exactly like every single other anime on earth.
Amazing! I've seen probably 2/3rds of the anime readily available
in America and have drawn the conclusion that Japan must have very
forgiving copyright laws. This movie, although admittedly not worlds
different than any other anime, was at least very well done, beautifully
animated, and enjoyable all around. Except for the insanely stupid
decision to cast Billy Bob Thornton in a voice-over role for a Japanese
The Sixth Sense ( B ) - The previews
for this movie gave the unfortunate impression that it would be cheesy
at best. In reality, though, it was everything a good suspense film
should be: original, creepy, enthralling, and packing quite an unexpected
ending. Bruce Willis does a great job as a compassionate, intense
child psychologist, but the truly amazing performance comes from the boy
star of the film. While it's not the most fulfilling movie of the
year, it's still quite a kick in the nuts.
South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut ( A
) - I was amazed that this movie was as good as it was... I was expecting
a 1½ hour episode and got a real, full movie. Surprisingly,
it's a musical with lots of catchy songs, which sound like they could be
in a Broadway show (if it weren't for all the dirty words and obscene gestures)...
in fact, "Blame Canada" actually got nominated for an Emmy (!). If
you don't like South Park, you won't like this movie, but the rest of us
will love it! Its biggest failing is the constant, repetitive cursing,
which tends to get old after a while. The best part is seeing all
the parents walking out with their kids 5 minutes after the movie starts...
Hello, it IS rated "R" (and almost got an "NC-17", for good reason!).
Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace (
) - Yes, I saw this on May 19th at 12:01 am. I wasn't disappointed.
Though the plot is beyond corny and the acting is shameful at best, the
action and the special effects are so stunning that it's reason enough
to see the film several times. As for the feel of the movie, it's
definitely Star Wars (though more Jedi than New Hope), and
the fight scenes with Darth Maul are, of course, incredibly cool.
The film's biggest failing is that the actors look totally disinterested
in what's going on, and the action is totally rushed, as they stuff as
much foundation-laying elements as possible in to make ready for the next
two episodes. Oh yeah, and the merchandising is way far and gone
beyond excessive. I feel dirty for liking this movie...
Tarzan ( A ) - Absolutely fantastic
animation, as expected, but on a new level that combines computer animation
with traditional cell-based animation smoother than ever before.
As for storyline, it's surprisingly faithful to the original Tarzan story
(I guess Disney learned their lesson after Pocahontas), and the darker
elements of the story and the sexual chemistry between Tarzan and Jane
are very real and also quite surprising. It did feel a little short,
though they could have made up for it with a wild, animalistic sex scene
when the obviously sexually-repressed Jane first lays eyes on the sexually
naive, curious, and 98% nekkid buffed up hot-to-trot Tarzan. That
didn't happen though... damn.
Titan A.E. ( B ) - I love it when movie
studios make feature length cartoons and gear them more towards adults
than kids. The result is usually a cool flick like this, with great
animation and special effects, and less concern about shocking the kiddies
(like when the main character, Cale, gets nekkid and gives us a nice glory
shot from the rear). The locales are fantastic too, especially the
planet with the hydrogen trees. My biggest complaint is a common
one to the genre of sci-fi... stuff isn't fully explained, things happen
too quick without full exposition, somewhat trite dialogue, a canned, all-too-convenient
relationship between the protagonist and the girly love interest, etc.
Disappointing, considering the potential... but still very much appreciated.
The Thomas Crown Affair ( B ) - An amusing,
fun movie that doesn't have all too much substance. The romance between
Pierce Brosnan, a finance-industry multi-millionaire who steals a 100 million
dollar painting just for fun, and Rene Russo, an insurance agent for the
people that own the painting, is both believable and romantically creative,
and the plot development is creative and entertaining. The ending,
however, leaves the audience somewhat confused, especially since we know
what's going on the rest of the time.
True Crime ( B ) - A good, tense crime
film about a fallen-angel reporter (Clint Eastwood) who discovers that
the man on death row he's interviewing is actually innocent and sets out
to prove it before midnight, when his execution is set. Conflicts
stem from his womanizing, especially his affair with his boss (Denis Leary)'s
wife, and how it messes up his marriage, as well as his insistance to his
other boss, played by James Woods, that the wrongful accusations against
the man could make big headlines. It's not the best movie you'll
ever see, but it's good. And of course I always assert that any movie
with James Woods is worth watching.
Wild Wild West ( B ) - Entertaining,
yes, but it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. The early-Industrial-age-meets-sci-fi
mechanical stuff is really fascinating, especially the 80-foot mechanical
spider war machine, and Kenneth Branagh as the evil Dr. Loveless -- complete
with a convincing Southern drawl -- is fantastic. Kevin Kline, the
U.S. Marshall slash mechanical genius slash occasional crossdresser is
good too, and Will Smith is... well, Will Smith. His modern pseudo-rapper-style
character he's had in every film since Independence Day doesn't quite work
in an 1870-era movie, which is only mildly distracting. The worst
part is the role of the hispanic girl, who serves as love interest for
both Smith and Kline; Salma Hayek is unconvincing and the role seems mostly
unnecessary, like it was a last-minute addition. Oh yeah, and Will
Smith's irritating and horribly repetitive rap theme song will be permanently
engrained in your brain, in the fashion of It's a Small World After