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Catch-Up Reviews For Theatrical Releases Seen Between 2.18.2005 and 5.31.2005

     From February 18, 2005 to April 24, 2005, I saw twenty-two theatrical releases, and did not review any of them. Several readers have e-mailed me, asking about why my regular output has slowed by such a considerable extent. Contrary to what many of you probably believe, I have not kicked the bucket. A ridiculous and unexpected amount of homework and unrelenting, two-week-lasting bacterial infection, instead, came my way. They prohibited me from doing any reviews, as of late. Now Sunday, the 8th of March, I have realized that doing full-length reviews of all eleven films would take a humongous amount of time, one which would postpone the site’s being updated for a while that would be unfair to faithful visitors. As a result, I have decided to do capsule reviews of them. This is the first batch of those capsule reviews. The next number of reviews will be posted on this page, in the order that I finish them. They should all be completed by sometime early in the week of 6/19.

Bad Dog

Because of Winn-Dixie



     Wayne Wang’s Because of Winn-Dixie carries a title that is remarkably appropriate. Named after its central figure, a dog named after the popular supermarket, it is a mediocre motion picture, well… because of Winn-Dixie. Sure, the little pooch could be considered cute, but each time it smiles and does tricks on queue, the audience will feel incredibly detached from the movie. In order for a picture of this sort to work, the fact that the animals were trained by humans should not be so strikingly apparent. In Because of Winn Dixie, it seems as though the duty of every member of the small Floridian town which the movie is set in is to be affected by the forced likes of the rambunctious, but loving dog. Contrivance is to be expected in PG-rated family films, but, here, the abundant amount of such becomes unbearable, at times.


     When Winn-Dixie isn’t treated as the sole reason the plot exists, however, the picture is actually quite good. Annasophia Robb turns in an exceptional and sympathetic performance as Opal, Winn-Dixie’s ten-year-old owner, who is the daughter of a preacher (Jeff Daniels). Her mother walked out on the family when Opal was three. From this basic setup, Because of Winn-Dixie admirably shows the innocence of youth in a pleasant, little town. It is one of the few movies that work well, at times, by simply being good-natured. As the plot rolls along, viewers will often be charmed by its likable intentions. But intentions remain intentions and, ultimately, they do not always have the power to ensure that a given movie turns out to be worth seeing. Unfortunately, despite several good scenes, this one is just a notch above mediocre, all because of Winn-Dixie.


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Being Bening

Being Julia



     Being Julia is the type of movie that needs to be made more. While it is contrived, it is also one of 2004’s most entertaining cinematic offerings. Sizzling in a hilarious way, Annette Bening plays Julia Lambert, a drama-queen who just so happens to be a veteran star of the London stage. Tired and overwhelmed by her profession, she asks that her director (also her husband), Michael Gaslin (Jeremy Irons), pull the curtain on her current play a few months early so she can take a vacation from the city. However, her feelings instantly change when Tom (Shaun Evans), an American who she acquires as a lover, rolls into town, lighting her dramatic fire anew.


     It is true that the movie’s chain of events is all over the place, uneven as could be. There are frequent, sudden changes in tone and the characters’ behavior, throughout the duration. Director István Szabó, whose Mephisto is supposedly a great movie from what I hear, doesn’t exactly hit all the right notes, behind the camera. However, with Bening’s sort of revelatory charm and the witty adapted screenplay by Ronald Harwood on its side, Being Julia functions as a fun and interesting motion picture, all considered. By the delightful, flowing, and hysterical third act, in which Julia upstages Tom’s new, young and greedy actress of a girlfriend, I didn’t care about the movie’s choppy filmic tendencies. Being Julia is a hoot of a show and, despite some bumps in the road, I will only look back on its 105 minute running-length in a positive light.


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Babe with a Zebra

Racing Stripes



     Hayden Panettiere, Frankie Muniz, Mandy Moore, Dustin Hoffman, Whoopi Goldberg, Joe Pantoliano, Jeff Foxworthy, David Spade, Steve Harvey, and Snoop Dogg. Have ‘ya heard of them? Unless you’re reading this review from the Mongolian Desert or the Ecuadorian Jungle or Someplace Else In The Middle of Nowhere, something tells me that you probably have. And, what’s more: you know that they are all, to one degree or another, good actors who are capable of finding roles to succeed in.


     This is what makes it such a slap in the face that they all chose to either star as or record the voice for one of the characters in Racing Stripes, the latest live-action family-film about talking animals. This time around, the story is about a circus-zebra named Stripes who was abandoned at a young age and was raised amongst standard farm animals. Now older, Stripes would like to fulfill his life-long dream of becoming a winning race-horse, a task which proves nearly impossible, even with nearly a dozen other animals rooting him on. This premise is pleasant, yes, but even the youngest of viewers will be able to see each new plot development coming, before it happens. Racing Stripes runs with its formula to an exhausting extent. Nevertheless, its terrific cast keeps it interesting, even to a degree at which some of its potty-humor seems tasteful. Frederik Du Chau’s amusing style of direction is also worth mentioning. Had Racing Stripes’ narrative been a little spicier, it actually might’ve propelled above mere rental-quality.


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Cinematic Spawn




     Isn’t it ironic? Every time a thinking, multi-layered film is released, mainstream audiences reject it, usually because they have to read subtitles at the bottom of the screen or stick with shaky, digital-video cinematography to understand it. But when a movie like Constantine hits theatres, they hail its nonsensical, ridiculous counterparts as “brilliant” and “deep.” I, frankly, am tired of such an attitude. It’s time for the Dummies of American Multiplexes to realize when a movie is really complex or when it’s just pulling their legs. Constantine does the latter; its joke of a narrative suggests ideas but never develops them, has thematic resonance but nothing to say, makes a lot of promises in its first act but doesn’t keep them.


     From a one-dimensional and incorrect standpoint, the movie looks great, with gothic art direction worthy of taking home an Academy Award. Unfortunately, when viewed in the context of the film, it only contributes to Constantine’s awfulness. The dismal look and feel of the movie, combined with the monotone performance of Keanu Reaves as a man who is, essentially, at the center of an extremely boring and ongoing battle between Heaven and Hell, is likely to put any viewer of intelligence to sleep. Sure, a lot happens in Constantine, but none of it really adds up to anything. For awhile, the picture is fascinating because of the sheer uncertainty of what’s to come, but once viewers realize that a solid conclusion isn’t high on director Francis Lawrence’s priority-list, the exercise instantly falls flat. Everything about Constantine is easily condemnable. That is, of course, as long as one is not counting the fact that Rachel Weisz looks pretty darn smashing for the entire duration.


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From That Guy Who Made The Freddy Kruger Movies




     You had to make somebody in it gay, didn’t you?


     Now, before you start dismissing me as some kind of homophobe, just hear me out. There I was, sitting in the near-empty morning auditorium watching Cursed, rather amazed by what I was witnessing. Sure, the movie was nothing special, in truth, but it was resoundingly better than all of the other standard horror pictures in release. Could famed director Wes Craven have made a genre-work with actual flare that even survived hours and hours of third-party studio editing (read: hacking)? I thought so, until the moment came, relatively early on in the movie, in which a character comes out of the closet in one of the stupidest ways possible. I took a step back. And so it was; the remaining portion of Cursed, while displaying some of the good fun I saw in it early on, offered more and more moments like the one I just mentioned. Comparing it to a downward spiral would, indeed, be quite the understatement.


     I try to look at the positive elements of these movies over the negative ones; I really do. In fact, oftentimes, the well-acted sibling-dynamic between Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg, here, often made me want to go so far as to recommend Cursed. However, every time I would begin to immerse myself in its redeeming qualities, the wretched and messy writing, in particular, would bite me in the back. While screenwriter Kevin Williamson’s script offers an old-fashioned and neat premise about a werewolf curse, it is convoluted by all sorts of crap. Most of the time, his plot serves as a showcase for crude and ridiculous moments that only the dumbest of teenagers will find amusing. It would’ve been unreasonable to expect Cursed to be scary, but I don’t think that my hoping for it to be tasteful was irrational. Maybe the soon-to-be-released Paul Schrader cut of The Exorcist: The Beginning will finally re-introduce us to the realm of good horror movies. For now, I can only sit here and wait for such a day to come. That and try to forget movies like Cursed.


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Take It Off

Son of the Mask



     In a short life that has been filled with a lot of movies, I have never seen another children’s film as vile and filthy as Son of the Mask. There have been those that have been uncreative and abominable because of such (Fat Albert springs instantly to mind), but I’m not sure I had ever found the content of a kid’s flick offensive, before this one. While I may not be comfortable with the idea of the Under-Ten Set being force-fed silly nonsense by a projector at the cinema, Son of the Mask does something far worse. Targeting itself towards such an audience, it tries to pull of a plot which is, mainly, about making a baby. More specifically, making a baby boy that is born the unknown heir to the wrath of a mask which possesses him and makes him perform quite evil deeds. Parents who are looking for something to baby-sit their children for an hour and a half will, in Son of the Mask, find much more than they were asking for. If you thought the simple “Where do babies come from?” was a toughy, you’ll be tongue-tied by all of the questioning that this movie may provoke.


     An unofficial sequel to the much better and much tamer Jim Carey vehicle The Mask, Son of the Mask is full of bright, vibrant colors and exaggerated actions. The art direction team’s inspired work almost makes up for the fact that they chose to be involved in the making of such a wretched film. The rest of the film, however, is about as cheery as wet dog food. The sometimes-amusing Jamie Kennedy plays Tim Avery, a recently-promoted cartoonist who is the father of the little devil of a child featured, here. Most of the film is shared between the two of them, as Mom is away on business for the majority of the duration.


     Viewers will wonder if the designated and sole purpose of Son of the Mask was to annoy; all that seems to happen outside of the central-plot, which involves the son of a God who wants the mask, is a bunch of hustle and bustle. The kid shouts. The kid kicks. The kid does a hell of a lot of weird stuff the mask enables him to do. And on top of it all: none of this is interesting. Had I recorded any segment of my own life on a given day for the eighty-six minutes that Son of the Mask runs, I think I could’ve come up with a more interesting movie. And considering it would’ve been about $80 million dollars cheaper than this piece of cinematic garbage, I think it might’ve been able to satisfy the folks at New Line more, too.


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Playing It Straight

The Jacket


     The director of The Jacket, John Maybury, has made a real snooze of a movie. In executing his twisted web of a narrative, he, indeed, remembered to show his audience the content of the movie, instead of just telling them of it. However, what he failed to realize, in doing so, was the obviousness of what he chose to show. This was a movie that should’ve felt relentless and harrowing; instead, it fizzles along for 102 minutes, coldly and calculatedly. A lot of talent went into The Jacket, but Maybury’s plainness and the lack of definition in the script he had to work with make it a drag to watch. Once the initial mystery of the premise wears off, it becomes unbearable.


     The plot involves Jack Starks (Adrien Brody), a man who is basically unsure about everything that has happened in his life. After he is pronounced dead during the Gulf War and then wakes up, comes back to the United States and receives treatment for amnesia, and later wakes up in a corrupt and unusual mental asylum as a convicted criminal, it is only a matter of time before the movie becomes convoluted in ideas. Its plot ultimately ends up being about time-travel (or does it?) and Jack’s relationship with a girl who he met on the side of the road one day, after returning from the war. The Jacket is a twisty and symbolic movie, indeed, but it’s hard not to see every event in its plot coming, in advance. And because unpredictability is all that Maybury has to rely on, as his blasé work conjures up no interest out of viewers, whatsoever, the picture turns out to be quite the disaster. Not even Adrien Brody’s acting chops and Keira Knightley’s bosoms were able to save it.


Who Needs Staples?

Paper Clips



     Paper Clips does an alright job at documenting a group of middle-school students in the primarily White and Protestant coal-mining-town of Whitwell, Tennessee and the Holocaust project that they created. This project centered on understanding all of the lives lost during the time-period. In order to symbolize all of the deaths, they decided to collect paper clips, a Norweigan mark of Nazi-resistance. When they began their project, the twisted pieces of steel flowed in from outside supporters of the project at a rate which would only allow them to complete it in eight years. However, once it was mentioned of on major news networks, it gained momentum; many celebrities even sent paper clips to the students of Whitwell Middle School, by mail. By the project’s end, the students had enough of the tiny office supplies to be able to fit eleven million (symbolizing the six million Jews and five million others lost during the Holocaust) into a rail-car which once transported people to the internment camps of Nazi Germany.


    The idea for the project was a splendid one and viewers will be happy to discover that the students were successful in conducting it. However, no matter how carefully made Paper Clips is, it only manages to be mildly interesting. I like Pro-American themes and historical-reflection in films as much as the next guy, if not more, but let’s be honest, here. Should a movie about a middle-school project that worked out, victim to only a mild setback here and there, be of any real interest? The concept behind Paper Clips was good-intentioned, but, critic Eugene Novikov gets it right when he calls it “Nothing more sophisticated than a cheery newsmagazine segment…”


     The best moments in Paper Clips come when Holocaust survivors speak to the students and other residents of Whitwell. Still, I find myself contemplating whether or not these fit into the context of the film. Directors Elliot Berlin and Joe Fab can’t seem to make up their minds about whether they want the movie to be about the Holocaust as a whole or just the middle-school project. As a result, Paper Clips turns out to be a bit of a flimsy mesh of the two ideas. Had Berlin and Fab set their sights on making the duel-theme work, I have no doubt in my mind that their film could’ve been a seamless blend of both. As it stands, Paper Clips is heartfelt without being too interesting. Still, with a running length of only about eighty minutes, it’s far better than the average Hollywood shoot’em-up in release, at this time. Not that that offers any reference point for comparison.


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How To Disobey A Title

Be Cool



     In 1995’s Get Shorty, veteran slick-man John Travolta sizzled as Chili Palmer, a loan-shark who made his way to Hollywood to set things straight with a hot-shot movie producer, only to end up working in the film-industry, himself. Critics were all over the thing when it was released, devouring the dark influence that source-writer Elmore Leonard had on it. I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago, in preparation for Be Cool, its ten-years-later cash-in sequel, and didn’t really get it. Sure, Travolta was great in the movie, with his hard-assed only-from-Brooklyn attitude, but the movie wasn’t even about anything. I hate convoluted storytelling as much as the next guy, but if a movie doesn’t attempt to acquire emotional depth, I, as a viewer, at least need some plot to pepper things up. Get Shorty had no such plot to offer; it was a thoroughly underwhelming experience, for me.


     Despite a change in director (F. Gary Gray has inherited the throne from Barry Sonnenfeld), Be Cool is almost identical to its predecessor, aimlessly plodding along with nothing to do or say. As a result, its terrific cast, which contains all different faces from those of Get Shorty except for Travolta’s and Danny DeVito’s, is left to try their best to elevate awfulness to mediocrity. For the most part, they succeed; Travolta is even often outshined by his peers in many scenes (although, I must say, Vince Vaughn is amazingly annoying in his role and The Rock just creeped me out in his). Christina Millian, in particular, is surprisingly stupendous as Chili’s first protégé in his newly acquired entrepreneurial taste for the music business. And, as if she wasn’t enough, Uma Thurman is there to recreate the famous dance scene from Pulp Fiction with Travolta and Cedric the Entertainer is always at the ready to be deliciously over-the-top. Still, their work does not excuse the movie’s lack of structure and direction. Be Cool is merely another throwaway sequel that we will all forget until it shows up on HBO in a year and then forget again when its cable-career ends. I couldn’t care less about this very fact.


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It’s a Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s… Bruce Willis?




     You know, I really wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow had Bruce Willis flew into one of the scenes in Hostage, his latest movie in which he plays a former LAPD hostage-negotiator turned small-town police-chief, wearing a blue suit and a red cape. Willis is a master of working with the type of cheesy, all-powerful, but still somewhat emotional, role that he has in Hostage. His acting abilities allow him to successfully play with the conventions of modern-day moviemaking but they aren’t quite multifarious enough for him to excel in deeper films. He succeeds in playing the characters that he does by simply understanding the way in which an actor brings unlikely sympathy out of somewhat unsympathetic situations. I’m not sure that any other actor currently working in the film industry could’ve done a better job playing Hostage’s Jeff Talley than he did.


     Unfortunately for Willis, Hostage is one of the weakest projects he has participated in, in years. After putting his talents to good use in the limited-but-inspired likes of Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, and The Kid, I would hate to see him digress back into the land of flat and lumpy action-flicks. I’m not sure that any of us will ever be ready for another Armageddon or The Jackal. And while Hostage isn’t nearly as bad as those two cinematic catastrophes, it’s certainly uninspired. Despite being well-acted by every member of its cast (Kevin Pollack and Jimmy Bennett, in particular, provide some very sturdy support to Willis), the blasé writing and direction outweigh the picture’s positive elements. Not once in Hostage was I really riveted: the actors are forced to recite everyday dialogue and the special effects, although technically-marvelous, aren’t anything to write home about. This is quite a shame, considering the fact that, had just a smidgeon more of thought gone into the movie, viewers might’ve actually found themselves caring about what happens in its twisty (though unchallenging) plot. The only thing the film left me thinking about, as its credits rolled, was when Bruce Willis would have the opportunity to redeem himself with a better role in a superior picture. Fortunately, Sin City was released three weeks later, and by its end, I had immersed myself in Willis’ character and fully forgotten about Hostage.


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When Remakes Go Wrong...
The Ring 2



     I really, really have no idea as to why American studios have become fascinated with the idea of hiring Japanese-Horror directors to remake their own movies for the English-speaking market. Sure, they seem to be making a lot of money on such projects, but I doubt that the massive amounts of cash that The Ring 2 is flooding DreamWorks’ studios with right now is because of the name Hideo Nakata. Is his version of the movie really all that much stronger of a sell than the one that Gore Verbinski, director of the original American Ring, could’ve made? I really don’t think so; the move to hire Nakata was a brain-dead one, both artistically and economically. After all, Verbinski’s much better The Ring made $250 million, internationally. One viewing of The Ring 2 will allow every viewer to realize its production was poorly conducted.


     Watching The Ring 2, I was instantly reminded of Japanese-Horror director Takashi Shimuzu’s English-language remake of his own The Grudge. In my review of it, I wrote: “Shimuzu has a set of skills which often works in Japanese-Horror. He is clearly fond of long, extended takes with a few quick jolts in them. These function in the confines of nativity rather well, but when Americanizing them, the result proves to be downright silly.” The exact same thing can be said of Nakata in The Ring 2. The only difference is: he had far more money to play with, making it, than Shimuzu ever did, during the production of his film. As a result, the camera pans more actively than any other that I have ever seen in my life, and he treats us to a scene in which several CGI deer endanger the main characters. Not real deer. CGI deer.


     In The Ring 2, protagonist Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) and her son, Aidan (David Dorfman), have left their previous home of Seattle, Washington and moved to Astoria, Oregon, as a result of all that traumatized them in first film. Little do they know, despite making only one copy of the video-tape that nearly killed them in The Ring, the forces of its creator, a little girl named Samara, are back to get them. (Samara, in addition to the deer, is done in CGI; I guess the pay-roll just didn’t have room for Deveigh Chase, who played her last time). The story is convoluted and taken way too seriously; even Watts and Dorfman, who are both very good in the movie, never think to give a goofy grin or two, at any point in its duration. In its third act, The Ring 2 makes a nice comeback from the treachery of its first two-thirds, boasting two great scenes (one that Naomi Watts shares with Sissy Spacek is particularly marvelous), but these are not nearly enough for me to be able to recommend it. For now, I’ll sit here and wait for the release of the next American remake of a Japanese-Horror flick, hoping that its director will have the sense to make a few alterations in their native style for the new market’s sake. I love all sorts of movies from every part of the world, but the technique used in this specific type of film just doesn’t cut it.


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My Big Fat Indian Wedding

Bride and Prejudice



     Bollywood films, as they call them, are a bit “out there”, for my tastes. While they all seem to embrace the spirit of the Indian country with passion, boasting excellent choreography and art direction, their diverse, soap-opera-like plots and random musical numbers have always been a little too much for me to handle. Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice, a new rendition of Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice, on the other hand, worked for me. The movie is an infusion of both American Hollywood and Indian Bollywood, functioning quite well as a colorful blend of both styles. It may run a little too long at the end but, considering that, at 111 minutes, it’s about two-hours shorter than the standard Indian-Musical, I can accept its slightly rambling third-act just fine.


     In Bride and Prejudice, the family from Pride and Prejudice has been made Indian—the Bakshi family, they’re called. The film opens to a wedding festival, amidst dancing and singing which create an energetic atmosphere that is maintained throughout the entire picture. There, Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai), the second-daughter in her middle-class family, and Will Darcy (Martin Henderson), an American actor who has come to attend the wedding ceremonies, first lay eyes on each other. Neither is fond of the other, mostly for cultural reasons, although Lalita’s mother, who is determined to arrange marriages for all of her daughters, would certainly love to see them pair up. As the plot furthers, however, they do fall for each other, but many complications stop them from admitting such. Unsurprisingly, this premise sets up for a chaotic, if conventional, finale.


     And then there’s Aiswarya Rai who, according to most sources, is the most beautiful woman in the world. Not only does she look ravishing, here, but also puts on a terrific performance as Lalita. As her co-star, Martin Henderson is also very good. But, let’s be honest: Bride and Prejudice is not about strong acting. It’s about color and life, two elements which are apparent in every one of its frames. At the 10AM screening of it that I attended, on a Saturday morning, there were only five other people in the audience. Only about ten minutes into the movie, we were all about ready to get up and start goofily attempting to dance along with the cast. Bride and Prujudice is the kind of just-plain-fun movie that is far too precious to pass up the opportunity to see. With it, co-writer/director Chadha continues her streak of original, flowing films that never disappoint.


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Politically Incorrect

Guess Who



     I have deep respect for Guess Who, a movie with two big stars which dares to push the politically-correct comic-line of racial-humor, set forth by the goody-goody liberals of the world. None of the material in the film is offensive, but it’s provocative enough that only the bitingly satirical Bernie Mac and the already well-liked Ashton Kutcher would actually choose to star in it. The end result, while definitely flawed, is a pretty good movie. Director Kevin Rodney Sullivan still has a thing or two to learn about pacing a film correctly, but the movie’s uniqueness is like an oasis in the desert of mainstream cinema. Guess Who dares to do a lot of things that are rarely done in Hollywood’s romantic-comedies. Namely, it uses long stretches of uninterrupted dialogue to its advantage and actually allows the usually-awful Ashton Kutcher to succeed in a role. Although probably not as extravagant as I make it seem, the picture certainly offers an entertaining time at the cinema.


     Following the same basic premise as 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? did, but twisting the plotline around quite a bit, Guess Who follows the trials and tribulations of the young and white Simon Green when he takes a trip with his about-to-be-fiancée, Theresa (Zoe Saldana), to meet her all-black family. Most of Theresa’s relatives are less than thrilled about Simon’s race and her father, Percy (Bernie Mac), is the obvious leader of their bitter army. Mac is so outrageously amusing in the role that it’s almost an unbelievable sight to behold; he takes every obvious gag in David Ronn, Jay Scherick, and Peter Tolan’s screenplay and multiplies its effect by ten-fold of what it would’ve been had another actor played Percy. This is mostly because he shares excellent comic chemistry with everyone else in the cast, especially Kutcher, who also has his fair share of feats in Guess Who. Kutcher, who is usually obnoxious and irritating, manages to be somewhat likeable, here. He even succeeds in amusingly delivering beastly jokes which poke fun of the black community without the scene feeling bigoted.


     Guess Who has been inevitably compared to Meet the Parents, Jay Roach’s hit 2000 comedy of the same nature. While I probably have greater admiration for that film, I’ll be the first to point out how different the two are. Outside the basic idea of the premise of the son-in-law/father-in-law dynamic, they are totally separate films. This is mostly because of the different approaches of Robert DeNiro and Bernie Mac, Aston Kutcher and Ben Stiller. Guess Who is independently deserving of recognition; it’s a very funny film with terrific performances all around.


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Flying Bullets and Bursts of Color

Sin City



     Out of all of the hack-filmmakers currently working in the movie industry, Robert Rodriguez takes the cake for being, by far, the coolest—and not just because he filmed numerous scenes of the voluptuous Jessica Alba pole-dancing in his latest extravaganza of viscera, Sin City (although it certainly doesn’t hurt his case). To me, Rodriguez’s perfectly fitting the mold of awesome writer/director/producer/composer/editor derives itself entirely from his crazy head. And while the concepts it creates may be entirely juvenile, there’s no denying that the ideas that the guy comes up with are amazing. Sure, anyone familiar with the Frank Miller comic-book Sin City could’ve realized its potential of being adapted into a film, but only Rodriguez was so bold as to execute such a task in the way that he has. No one else would’ve thought to film it entirely in black-and-white and then colorize only certain parts of each frame. No one else would’ve thought to take each scene from the source material and almost identically visually duplicate it. No one else would’ve thought to ask Quentin Tarantino to “guest-direct” a scene in their movie. With such an ability to scheme so ingeniously on his side, it’s no wonder that Rodriguez is truly in a league of his own when it comes to the creative aspect of cinema.

     With all of that said, Sin City isn’t all that great of a movie. Rodriguez’s talents are worth every word of the praise I have just awarded them, but the actual finished pictures he makes are not. Sin City begins with a bang, almost as vibrantly alive as it is dementedly gritty self-indulgent. I immersed myself in the first of its three intertwined stories, left speechless by what I was witnessing. Little did I know, it would later become progressively less interesting, and I would find myself wishing it had been a short-film and not a full-length motion picture. The movie never really becomes anything; its gorgeous style is maintained in such a distinct way, throughout the duration, that it comes close to feeling trite and boring. Not to mention, the content of the second act’s story is so dramatically dull compared to that of the first act that the energized final third barely allows the picture’s sense of spirit to be rejuvenated by the end. Even with the wondrous, orgasmic opening there to wow them, it is a must that viewers of Sin City keep their expectations low in order to enjoy the full experience. Still, even for those like me, who walk out of the theatre ultimately wondering how much better the movie could’ve been, Rodriguez’s own sort of fan-boy liveliness and some killer performances (especially that of Mickey Rourke) will prove Sin City to be worthwhile.


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