Sunday, March 04, 2007
  Movie Review: Music & Lyrics

The first thing I want to say is: the funniest part of Music & Lyrics is the video for the fictitious '80s band, PoP! You can watch this video on YouTube, and decide for yourself whether you want to see a movie that is less funny than this video.

That's not to say that the movie is not funny. It's a perfectly serviceable romantic comedy, starring two not brilliant but adequate and quite likeable actors, Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant. Hugh plays a washed up pop star, whose name I forget, who seems happy to make money by playing high school reunions and state fairs. Drew's character, Sophie, has a number of jobs, it seems, one of which is filling in for a friend who waters plants for a living -- including those in Hugh's apartment -- and another of which is working for her sisters' weight loss clinic chain.

Watching Hugh sing silly '80s songs and jiggle his hips is funny but also extremely wince-inducing, and the movie has so many of these scenes that I started to (a) tire of them, and (b) lose respect for Hugh -- mostly his character but also his real self.

Sophie is a typical movie eccentric: talking contantly, wearing kind of weird clothes (in this case, seemingly inspired by Project Runway's Ulli), suddenly hiding while walking down the street, freaking out and being unwilling to explain it, and so forth. It turns out she has a reason for doing some of these things, but others are just her charm I suppose.

Kristen Johnson almost steals the show as Sophie's older sister, who is a big fan of PoP! and flips out when she learns that Sophie knows one of the former members (that would be Hugh, in case I forgot to mention that ... speaking of which, I think his character's name might be David or something like that; I suppose I could just look it up in someone else's review, but where's the fun in that?). Her scenes are the ones that come closest to the video in terms of laughs.

The rest of the movie is kind of funny, but also a little bit of a downer. Maybe this is because both of the main characters are kind of sad people -- Hugh because of his washed-up status, Sophie because of her mysterious past (which gets revealed, but I won't spoil it for ya). Also, there's just not much spark between them. I read another review of Music & Lyrics that said Drew and Hugh had no chemistry, and I think the reviewer has a point. It's like they're better as friends. Maybe they figured that out later, after the movie ended.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Movie Review: Children of Men
Grade: B-

Children of Men is not as good as the trailer would have you believe. I am a sucker for sci-fi, and the trailer looked good, so of course I went to see it. The movie starts off promisingly enough, with Clive Owen as a worker bee in a near-future London. Some of the ladies are really into Clive Owen. I can take him or leave him. But I do like London and the near-future, so I was ready to enjoy.

Towards the beginning of the film, there are some intriguing political and social questions raised. Clive's friends, an older couple played by Michael Caine and some lady, have a hidden marijuana ranch out in the country filled with newspaper clippings about their rebellious past. Michael's wife is paralyzed after having been tortured when she was a journalist.

This is interesting stuff, although it is odd that the music playing in their house is The Beatles, given that this movie takes place far enough in the future that today's old hippies would be dead, and the new old hippies would be people who are currently in their twenties. But I suppose viewers take comfort in familiar cliches.

Julianne Moore is in this movie, but her role, or perhaps the way she plays it, make that part of the movie forgettable.

One of the main elements of the story is that women have become infertile and there are no children. That happily means there are no annoying kid actors in this movie. After a few plot twists, Clive is on the lam with a young pregnant woman whose name I forget. This is where the movie started to lose me.

In their haste, Clive makes a classic person-on-the-lam-in-a-movie mistake that no one who has ever seen a movie would make. This results in their being closely pursued by the bad guys, and lots of people dying. The movie devolves into an endless torrent of bullets and explosions and running around, people dying, and all the usual baloney that makes so many movies seem alike these days.

And then the movie ends before the most interesting part of the story even begins. My suggestion: If you like sci-fi, Clive Owen, and/or action movies, rent this.

This review is featured in The Carnival of Cinema Episode XV.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mini Movie Reviews

L'Auberge Espagnole, 2002
A Frenchman, a German, a Dane (I think), an Italian, a Spanish gal, and an English gal (and eventually a Belgian lesbian lady too) share an apartment in Barcelona and all sorts of wackiness ensues. Of course, I loved it because I am a sucker for (a) multiple languages in one movie* and (b) fish-out-of water movies. Also a good look at people in their early 20's. Of course since it's French, there are several secret affairs too. If all this sounds good to you, I highly recommend it.

* well, ok Korean and Japanese in a movie doesn't do much for me

Junebug, 2005
A huge disappointment. This is the kind of independent movie that is made for the mainstream movie industry to fawn over, which is of course what happened with this one. The character development was minimal, the Southern stereotypes were rampant, and only a few characters were likable at all. For the record, I liked the dad the most because he seemed the most down to Earth. Next, the brother (Benjamin MacKenzie from "the OC"). Next, his wife (played by Amy Adams in her Oscar-nominated performance*).

* Showing once again that Oscar is lame, as if we needed any more proof of that.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tiny Movie Reviews

Here are super-tiny, bite-sized morsels of my opinions on some of the movies I've watched in the past 6 months or so:

Roll Bounce, 2005: I loved it all -- the music, the kids, DMC's cameo ... well, except the love interest (Naomi) was lame.

Grizzly Man, 2005: Woah! Truth is stranger than fiction, indeed.

The Ice Storm, 1997: Good, but a tad depressing for my taste. I do like the critique of supposed 70s "liberation."

The 40 Year-Old Virgin, 2005: Pretty good, but as with most comedies I grew a little tired of it.

The War of the Worlds, 1953: Excellent! Much better than the Spielberg version.

Northfork, 2003: More like "borefork"! Great visuals. Weird, sometimes silly, dialogue. Didn't make much sense.

The Sea, 2002: Oh no, another weird Icelandic movie! It had it moments.

Me and You and Everyone We Know, 2005: Very good; I liked it! You might not, though, so don't get mad at me.

Saved!, 2004: Not as good as it could have been, but I'll settle for it anyway.

Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1959: Classic. Wonderful and entertaining.


Saturday, March 25, 2006
V for Not So Much

Well, I didn't really like V for Vendetta. At first I thought it was the creepy mask, because I don't like masks, especially not ones with crazy big smiles and a really bad hairdo to go along with them. But the real problem is that, despite a lot of interesting ideas and commentary on the current state of the world, the movie makes very little sense. There are a lot of plot holes. Anyway, the LA Times review does a better job of describing this than I can or have time to, so you should read that. I pretty much agree with it.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

It's been a while since I posted my reviewlettes of movies we rent, so here's a start on catching up:

Firefly: Discs 1-4, 2002
The best show ever. Rent it now. Watch it. Love it.

The Doom Generation, 1995
This is a b-movie, and it was almost fun and stupid, but then it ended up being gross and stupid which I didn't like. I don't like gross. Stupid can be OK. It's a very L.A. movie, with cameos from Margaret Cho, Parker Posey, Dustin Nguyen (from 21 Jump Street), and probably a bunch of other people I didn't notice. It stars Rose McGowan, which is a never a good thing unless you're a guy and want to see her boobies.

Old School, 2003
Hmmm. Hmmm. I know I'm supposed to like this. I'm in the demographic and all. And it was funny, particularly Vince Vaughan. But it didn't quite work for me. I probably would have liked it a lot better if I had seen it in a theater full of laughing people. I liked everything except for the frat stuff -- which kind of put me at a disadvantage since that's most of the movie.

Menace II Society, 1993
This is a strange genre that they don't really seem to make anymore. I was tense watching this movie because I knew nothing good was going to happen in the end. And it's one of those movies that makes me feel like the world is a horrible place. I know this already, so I don't need it in my entertainment.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005
The latest on our Netflix progress:

Never Been Kissed, 1999: Good, funny movie right up until the end, when it gets all morally and mushy on us. Morals+mush=bad! And Drew Barrymore's mouth is weird ... a little too weird.

Get Over It, 2001: Embarrassingly bad. The only funny thing in this movie is the musical version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" that the kids put on. Skip the rest, I say.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003: I fell asleep.

What to Do in Case of Fire, 2002: Oh, me and my German movie rentals ... why do I do it? This one was pretty good, but we watched it too soon after watching "Good Bye, Lenin!" so the material (post-reunification Berlin) felt a little worn out.

The Bourne Supremacy, 2004: We had friends over who talked through the whole thing, so I really can't say. I wish I had fallen asleep.

Muddy Waters Can't Be Satisfied, 2003: ... but I can be satisfied with this movie! Very good documentary. Muddy follows the typical musician's plotline can't keep his hands off the women, but is a genius with style. Interviews with contemporaries help set the scene and provide interesting historical context.

Before Sunrise, 1995: Face it, this movie is really good. My favorite line comes at the beginning: "Europeans, they're not very customer service-oriented."

Before Sunset, 2004: Ah, it is so tragic to have once been young and beautiful, and now be older and sorta wrinkly ... Actually, I really like this movie, too. My favorite line in this one is something like: "When you're young, you think there will be all kinds of people that you meet and connect with during your life. But as you get older, you realize that it's really only a handful."

Stalag 17, 1953: They don't call it a classic for no reason! Rent it now, I tell you!

Antonia's Line, 1995: Really dull Dutch movie about a family that consists of one woman per generation (the men, except for one, are summarily dismissed once the girl child is begat), none of whom look remotely alike. It's one of those movies that goes on and on without you feeling very involved in the people, like a bad biopic. But it's not even a biopic, so what's the excuse here?

Zus & Zo, 2002: Another Dutch movie, rented in preparation for our trip to Amsterdam. But it didn't provide us with much insight or positive feelings about Holland. In fact, we both fell asleep. Before that happened, I saw enough of this movie to think "people aren't really like that, are they? Barf!" But now that I've seen "Closer," these people don't seem so bad.

Operation Amsterdam, 1959: Mediocre WW2 flick about getting the diamonds out of Amsterdam as the Germans close in. I slept through about a third of this.

Ray, 2004: Hey! This movie is really good. It suffers just a little from the biopic genre's weaknesses, but ultimately is very affecting. Shoulda got the best picture oscar. I haven't seen it, but that boxing movie that won looks lame.

Garden State, 2004: Also really good. I actually really liked Natalie Portman in this, which is the first time I can really say that's happened. "If they had a retarded Oscar, you should win it!" Chris didn't like her, though. He liked the boy, Zach Braff, better. I invite him to comment.


Sunday, March 27, 2005
I watched these on the airplane:

Closer (2004): People aren't really like this, are they? It's a complete nightmare, this movie. On the one hand, there are a smattering of funny and compelling moments, it's well-made, and I did put off going to the bathroom in order to not miss a moment. But, the people in it are nasty. Alice (Natalie Portman) is the only one I even came close to liking. Anna (Julia Roberts) was perplexing. First she marries a guy who picks her up by claiming he chatted with her in the cleverly-named "London Sex Chat Room" ("I know how you like it up the a**") , and then she leaves him for a guy who's been stalking her for years. Jeez. Maybe should go to, because she's not having any luck out there on her own.

Bridget Jones 2: The Edge of Reason (2004): The tattered remnants of a good movie are in here somewhere, I think. But this movie sucked. Colin Firth's Mark Darcy has become incredibly boring, as opposed to the kind of square handsome nice guy from the first movie. Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is fairly similar to the first movie, but strangely more self-conscious and foot-in-mouthy than before. Basically, this movie just sucks. There's not even anything all that entertaining to say in criticizing it.


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