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Reviews for the Week of 11/16:

Master and Commander:

The Far Side of the World



Rated PG-13 | 138 mins


     A bad movie without flaw is hard to find, but Master and Commander fits the bill. There’s nothing wrong with it, but somehow, it comes off stale and dry—an epic without triumph, containing developed characters that we don’t care for. It’s the type of thing that seems like a riveting journey on paper, but turns out to be a relentless one, when put to film. There’s a lot to admire here, but much of it isn’t pleasant to watch; Master and Commander is so technically efficient, it’s actually quite exhausting. I was rarely intrigued or captivated by it, but always inspired. The colors are lush, the emotion is brilliant, and the performances are perfect, but sadly, everything doesn’t tie together well enough. This film is a gigantic mess of talent, and this, unfortunately, does not work towards its advantage. I can’t say it’s boring; Russell Crowe’s work alone is enough to keep us somewhat interested. Even though it’s not worth the full-price of a ticket, when Master and Commander comes onto video, the ingenious violence and beautiful visuals will account for a well-spent afternoon. You may not be entirely satisfied in the end, but this motion picture is one hell of a trip.


Y Tu Mamá También



Not Rated | 105 mins


     I am, literally, shocked. So I finally get to seeing Y Tu Mamá También, after it receives mass critical acclaim and worship around the world. And after it was over, there was no doubt in my mind that it was a good movie, but frankly, anyone who thinks it’s revolutionary must be smoking crack.

     I caught it when it aired on the Independent Film Channel, uncut and in full-form, about three weeks ago. Since then, I’ve read many reviews on it, and still do not understand the majority of critics’ positions. Here’s what a few of them wrote:

     “…another trumpet blast that there may be a New Mexican Cinema a-bornin'.”–Roger Ebert

     “...an original, harsh, funny slant on the traditional road movie, as experienced by two Mexican teens and their gorgeous 28-year-old tagalong." –Norm Schrager

     "...is fast, funny, unafraid of sexuality and finally devastating."–Elvis Mitchell

     Let’s be honest, here. Y Tu Mamá También is a funny, witty comedy with a bunch of racy scenes thrown in. I wouldn’t hesitate to call it a raunchy teen movie; it’s not profound, it’s not amazing—it’s just a wonderful trip. The writing is excellent, but there is also a tremendous amount of errors to be found in this film. For one, the tone is totally misguided. While Alfonso Cuaron may have a way with words, his directing skills do not measure up. There’s also nothing touching about Y Tu Mamá También, and this is definitely a problem. I didn’t feel for the characters in quite the way that others did; I didn’t find their dreams to be all that exciting, compared to what’s imposed.

     All in all, this is definitely a flick that’s worth seeing, but I’d strongly advise against it if you’re looking for something life-affirming. I am a member of Y Tu Mamá También’s audience, but I’m clearly more hesitant about liking it than others.


Under the Sand



Not Rated | 92 mins


     Eager to see this because of my many hypotheses about the work of French filmmaker Francois Ozon, I rented Under the Sand expecting that it would be as vibrant and colorfully cheerful as 8 Women, one of the two other films from the director that I’d seen before. While this picture has almost no similarities with that one, it’s certainly fabulous in its own individual way. This movie plays out like a noir, but has a different style than one would expect. Ozon clearly has a knack for this type of material; low key mysteries, with multi-dimensional twists added in are his specialty. Charlotte Rampling’s character, Marie, has one of the most interesting personalities of the decade, and is the movie. She’s bottled-up and intriguing, infested with her hard-nosed shyness from all vulnerability. The cinematography, by Antoine Héberlé and Jeanne Lapoirie, allows the entire film to entrance you into an unexplainable spell and leave you captivated for the entire duration. I personally, cannot wait to see Ozon’s latest effort, Swimming Pool.


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