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Ellen
Posted on Friday, April 25, 2003 - 07:31 pm:   

So last night I saw The Play What I Wrote, about two vaudevillian-type partners. It was cute but not as rip-roaringly funny as I'd hoped it would be. It's British humor with a lot of puns--funny puns and some cute sight gags but frankly Toby Jones, the supporting actor who plays everyone from a fake impresario to a famous actress (in a short dress and big blond girls)--for the life of me I can't remember who--was absolutely brilliant.

We were in the very last row in the Lyceium theater, which was built in the early 1900s. We climbed many stairs. Valeria, Jack Womack's wife is due to give birth May 1st but she was having no problems at all.

And today I went to see Spirited Away at the movies. What an incredibly beautiful job of animation. A wonderful cast of characters including a chinese dragon, a radish spirit, and animated bits of soot. Lovely. I purposely went to see it on the big screen even though it's on DVD already. It was worth it.
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Luis Rodrigues
Posted on Saturday, April 26, 2003 - 03:47 am:   

Spirited Away is marvellous. Another good movie that I got to watch recently is Intacto:

INTACTO
http://us.imdb.com/Title?0220580

Best,
Luis
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Saturday, April 26, 2003 - 06:39 am:   

When the girls parents are transformed in Spirited Away it absolutely terrified me. I thought the movie was fabulous. And I loved the daikon spirit, and no face, and the whole panlopy of strange mthological creatures.

I'm told that in Japanese, the stink monster is actually a shit monster.
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, April 26, 2003 - 08:55 am:   

Luis,
Lucius recommended Intacto and one of these days I'll have to rent the video.

Maureen,
That was really scary--I could guess what the "stink" monster was from the reactions and the, uh texture. :-) And I loved no face and how he (it?) and the three heads "talked." Very weird stuff.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, May 04, 2003 - 04:57 pm:   

Today I went to see The Good Thief," the remake of Bob la Flambeur. I don't think I saw the original from years ago. Nick Nolte and the other actors are excellent but the movie itself --a multi-heist--film is entertaining but not suspenseful. But mere fun isn't a bad thing.
And there was less violence than I expected, a good thing in this case.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, May 11, 2003 - 07:59 pm:   

Yesterday I went over to my friend Linda's apt to watch the DVD of The Brotherhood of the Wolf. As another friend told me, it's very silly but entertaining nonetheless. And the cinematography is beautiful.

Afterwards, I went with other friends to see Lanford Wilson's play Rain Dance,which had Harris Yulin and some young guy who is in Dawson's Creek so a lot of teeny boppers were there. I wonder if they event got the play, which takes place on the eve of the testing of the atomic bomb at White Sands in 1945. The play doesn't say anything new about what we already know about the creation of and the reaction to the bomb. But the acting was good (except the young man's Bronx accent was abominable--I didn't even realize that's what he was trying to speak in until after the play.
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Stephen Gallagher
Posted on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 08:33 am:   

The Play What I Wrote is an evocation of classic Brit comedy double-act Morecambe and Wise, using their material and playing it in their style. The show is the comedy equivalent of a performance by a tribute band... They were very much a domestic act, and I'm bemused at the thought of it playing to American audiences who'll have little or no familiarity with the originals!
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 11:23 am:   

If I'm your four hundredth message, which I am, do I get a prize?

Anyway, I just saw a pre-screening of Danny Boyle's (Trainspottng, Shallow Grave) neo-zombie movie, 28 Days Later. Nothing new. Kind of cross between Living Dead and Outbreak. A B movie, but way scary and with a really good cast (Brendan Gleeson, Christopher Ecclestone, Cilian Murphy) and wonderfully shot, great soundtrack, and, most significantly, way scary.
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 12:47 pm:   

Steve,
When I was in London this past February I went to see Abigail's Party which is, I gather, a very accurate evocation of a particular class in a particular era--neither of which I'm familiar with. It was partly comedy and I got much of it. Caroline Oakley interpreted a few brand names for me. I think the fact that it wasn't meant to be hilariously funny but had serious undertones made it successful for me.

I find Absolutely Fabulous hilarious even though I'm sure I miss some of the references.

And I loved the NYC revial of The Comedians.

So I guess it's just this particular type of bygone humor that didn't work for me. I enjoyed it but just didn't love it.
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 12:56 pm:   

Lucius,
Maybe something special for the 1000th <g> We shall see.

I can't say I"m eager to see another zombie movie. Yuck. Is there original music on the soundtrack or rock stuff?

Have you seen the Xman movie yet?

btw, a friend who was a croupier on a cruise ship said she was a "cooler" but it had nothing to do with the supernatural--don't remember if I told you I saw The Cooler in preview and overall truly disliked the movie. William Macy and Alec Baldwin were both very good but the movie felt amateurish and had an idiot plot.

In the movie Macy effects the casino's "luck" just by passing by certain tables. I had wondered if there really were such people hired by casinos--Linda said sure but explained how it was done--for real.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 06:44 pm:   

The soundtrack of 28 Days Later is both orig and rock. Just very interesting choices. I wasn't eager to see it myself -- but unlike the run of Hollywoood films, it's very suspenseful and I appreciate that.

Yeah, you told me about the Cooler, which is why I brought up Intacto, which is a fairly cool genre take on the subject.

Don't have to see X-Men, so I'm not gonna. I see enough of that kind of thing.
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ben peek
Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2003 - 04:24 am:   

i saw the x-men movie (he says, just poking his head around the door). i thought it was good: well made, well acted, a fine, fun, stylish time. there are holes, but the movie moves quickly so you don't pay that much attention to it, and if you thought the first one was okay, chances are you'll think this once is better.

and, if you read the comic and liked it, the film will work on extra levels, since it taps into that golden age of the comic where claremont was writing it and it was at its peak. (the new grant morrison stuff is a throw back to that, in many ways.)
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Lou Antonelli - East Texas, USA
Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2003 - 09:36 am:   

"Linda said sure but explained how it was done--for real."

OK, now that's a teaser. How DO they do it?
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Stephen Gallagher
Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2003 - 09:50 am:   

I've a friend whose car is always getting broken into or vandalised while all those around it remain untouched. One day he even came back to find it had been 'made safe', ie buried in sand and foam by the fire brigade... someone had thought they could smell gasoline around it.

I always reckon that if you park near him, you'll be OK. As far as bad luck goes he's like a sacrificial anode, drawing it all to him.
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2003 - 11:51 am:   

Lou, she says that most gamblers are superstitious and believe in luck. If you know how to play on their superstitions you can screw them up. It's as simple as that (we didn't to into more detail).

Steve, I believe in "luck" to some extent. I know people who have the worst things happen to them--it's like people who can't get watches to keep working or machines to work--maybe it's some magnetic force within them that acts on those things they touch. People have good parking karma.
Has he had the problem with all his cars or a particular car?
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Lou Antonelli - East Texas, USA
Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2003 - 12:58 pm:   

"most gamblers are superstitious and believe in luck. If you know how to play on their superstitions you can screw them up. It's as simple as that"

Ah-hah, the black cat theory of bad luck.

If you think having a black cat cross your path is bad, try running one over. I once accidentally did that. A week later, a tornado blew up my office. April 15, 1994 - I remember the date, it was three days after Richard Nixon died. The tornado kinda pre-empted what I had planned for that week's editorial.
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Stephen Gallagher
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 01:19 pm:   

>>Has he had the problem with all his cars or a particular car?<<

With his entire life, I fear. In temperament he's like Eyore and in all aspects of life he's a bad-luck magnet. He's in his 30s and he still has his childhood asthma, but he didn't have to wait until middle age to get gout.

Maybe I should suggest him for a job at the casino?
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 02:52 pm:   

Steve,
Sounds like a good idea. Poor thing.
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, June 03, 2003 - 08:04 am:   

Over the weekend I saw Holes and Finding Nemo--both movies for children or young adults, both better movies than many so-called adult movies I've seen lately.

I haven't read Holes so I have no idea how it compares to the book but Jon Voigt is superb, as is Sigourney Weaver, Tim Blake Nelson, Patricia Arquette, and the the two main kids (neither of which I'd heard of before). The movie moves seamlessly between the past and present and I loved it.

Finding Nemo is gorgeous to look at and very funny. It has some hilarious bits about a shark in the equivalent of AA who is trying to NOT eat fish. Ellen deGeneris is the voice for Dory, a fish with no short term memory --a very funny and moving character.

Both highly recommended for adults as well as the kiddies.

I also saw a play called Intrigue with Faye by a writer of <i>Six Feet Under<i/>. The primary reason I went was that Benjamin Bratt starred in it. Julianne Margalis was also in it. It was about a couple who decide to videotapte each other constantly in order to improve their relationship.
There are videos used of Gretchen Mol, Michael Gaston, Swoozie Kurtz, and a few other actors also used throughout. Interesting concept, very intimate--the theater is tiny and we were in the front row. The person I went with didn't care for it much. I liked it better than she did possibly because I related more to the problems in the relationship--infidelity and trust--or lack of <g>.
So it was interesting and at a discount price worth it but not a must-see by any means.
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, June 14, 2003 - 06:02 pm:   

Saw the Japanese movie The Eye Friday night and it was very disappointing (as I've mentioned in Lucius's newsgroup). It seemed a rehash of The Sixth Sense, and a bunch of other "ghost" movies of that ilk. There were some excellent bits from the pov of a person who has been blind and then can slowly see -- but not well--those were probably the weirdest and scariest parts of the movie. The climax was pretty spectacular too.

The music was oddly both effective and jarring if that makes sense. At first it was quite spooky but eventually it became clear that the loud music signified that something ghostly or scary was going to happen and that totally destroyed the mood.

There was no mention of a soundtrack at the end but I liked the music on its own enough to see if I can track one down. If anyone recalls who wrote the music (it's probably mentioned on some movie site) please let me know.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2003 - 05:30 pm:   

Just saw a play this weekend while down in San Diego... Pentecost, written by David Edger.

It was a wonderful production that dealt with the conflicts surrounding a mural that was re-discovered a 12 century Balkan church.

The first half deals with the political squabbles (both governmental, and academic...) that arise around the discovery, while the second half interjects both contemporary politics, and a bit of spirituality to the mix.

It was a wondefull mix of art-history, politics, and religion. An outstanding play, IMO.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2003 - 05:36 pm:   

Sounds interesting, Jeremy. I wonder if it'll come to NYC. Has Edger written any other plays that you know of?
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, July 06, 2003 - 06:54 pm:   

So I went to see 28 Days Later with Rob Killheffer today and I have to say Lucius was right --it's terrific. Disquieting and scary and very well done on the whole. Highly recommended.
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Ellen
Posted on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 08:04 pm:   

In the past week or so I saw Terminator 3, which had to be the biggest pile of crap for the most amount of money I've seen in ages. It's been talked about plenty in Lucius's topic so I won't say much other than that it looked cheap, that it was dull dull dull. That the entire so-called "plot" took up about 10 minutes--and that was all told to us by the talking heads. It seemed a lot longer than it was. This is one movie during which I felt I lost part of my life watching. I kept looking at my watch to see what time it was.

Then yesterday I saw Seabiscuit. I'm a sucker for horse movies and enjoyed it although it's also kind of a mess. The voiceover narration worked ok at the beginning but when it came on again in the middle it just stopped everything dead. The director so obviously didn't trust the audience that he had to hit us over the head again and again to show us what the characters were feeling and what connections we were supposed to make. Took too long to get the three men and their horse together in one city.

Despite this, Chris Cooper, as always gave a terrific performance. Jeff Bridges, always good, and Toby Maguire wasn't bad. The females did what they could with nothing parts. It was basically a three guys and a horse story. Thrilling races. Decent score.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 11:33 pm:   

Ellen... I have avoided t3 like the plague, because I assumed it would suck as bad as you have described.

In any event, It looks like California is experiencing its own "political Terminator,” as the republican party goes back in time to stop John Conner… err I mean Grey Davis from becoming governor. And it looks like the unstoppable android himself might be in the running to be the next lame duck to preside over a penniless state. With politics like this, who needs the movies.

-jl
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 07:25 am:   

Jeremy,
I've been reading about your political circus. It's pretty bad ;-)
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Mastadge
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 12:42 pm:   

Well, I saw Pirates of the Caribbean, which I'd been avoiding, and let me say this: It's a sad, sad thing when the most entertaining (and possibly best) movie I've seen all summer has been one based on a Disney amusement park ride.

I think if Bloom and Knightley had shown some more passion, and if they'd kept on a real composer for the score, and made a few tweaks, cutting out about 15 minutes of fluff, this movie could've been astoudingly entertaining, as opposed to just very entertaining.

But Johnny Depp was tremendous (so was Geoffrey Rush, but he was completely overshadowed by the former), the special effects and fights and dialogue were generally fun, Knightley was quite beautiful, and I love watching ships. I was almost able to forgive Cutthroat Island for being such a pile of shit for its beautiful shots of beautiful ships.
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 01:40 pm:   

Mastadge. I agree with you about how entertaining Pirates was. I had no problem with the music--it didn't stay in my mind at all but I don't necessarily need that. I bought the soundtrack album to Finding Nemo, another enjoyable summer film.

Depp made the film--he brought it to life the way no one else could have. Yeah, a little more passion would have been nice but it was meant to be an adventure not a romance. I liked Knightly in Bend if Like Beckham.
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Nathan Ballingrud
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 01:47 pm:   

I wasn't quite as impressed with Pirates of the Caribbean. While it had its moments, I thought it went on for far too long, and I also thought Rush's performance was uninspired (unlike Depp's -- but that's almost a given). To my mind, the best pirate movie I've seen in a long time is the animated Sinbad. I reluctantly went to see it with my three year old daughter, and wound up enjoying it immensely. I think more than she did.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 05:18 pm:   

I can't bring myself to watch the animated Sinbad. I love the original stories from the 1001 Nights, I love the first two Sinbad movies Harryhausen, but the thought of taking all the Arabian elements out of the story really annoys me.

I pretty much agree with Mastadge on Pirates of the Caribbean (though I enjoyed the music). A bit too long, and Depp really made the movie. Without him, I feel it could have been a boring mess. And trying to tack on a moral to a movie about pirates just seems wrong.

However, my current reading is on real pirates and privateers, and it just makes me realize how completely wrong pirate movies are about them.
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 05:24 pm:   

Don't forget Peter Pan is coming out again -live action. I saw trailers and it looked like fun.

So, Robert D: What were real pirates like?
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 05:39 pm:   

I like that Disneyland ride. I also really like the Jungle Cruise. You go on it serially and compare how the guides give their spiel and whether they add their own jokes or follow the script (The back side of water!)

But I haven't gone to the movies in a while and won't be able to for some time due to an injury and by the time things come out on video/dvd, I'll forget what I wanted to see.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 06:02 pm:   

Ellen.

SEABISCUIT -- I tossed my cookies. All the little pookie underdogs and the little lame prince horsie...on a more realistic note, it was just reported that a not-so-unrecent Derby winner, having proved a dud at stud, has been turned into Alpo. That's the movie I want to see. Horses....Feh!

I warned you about T3. Whatever you do, heed my warning (and those of others) about LXG.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 06:24 pm:   

If anybody wants to see a truly inspired movie that will send your emotions raising, one way or another, I recommend trying to track down "The Weather Underground". http://www.upstatefilms.org/weather/main.html


It is a documentary about the group of the same name that operated in throughout the 70's. If you’re under 35 years old, there is a good chance that this is history that you've never been told... If you lived through it, its interesting to see how the more things change....

Another strong association I made after watching this film, that I hadn’t made before, was that Chuck Palahniuk must have based Fight Club's "Operation Mayhem" on the bombings that the Weatherman carried out. I always thought that this was one of the most far-fetched parts of Fight Club plot ... "We're going to blow up these buildings, but not hurt anybody". In fact, the weatherman repeatedly did this throughout the 70's. Shocking. Truth is often stranger than fiction.

-jl
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 07:38 pm:   

Pirates...a brief description.

The first big misconeption is that the captain ruled them with an iron hand. The captain only commanded once an attack was begun. The rest of time time, everything was decided by a simple majority vote. Even choosing the captain was a vote. The closest they had to a commander was the quartermaster (also chosen by vote) who was in charge of supplies and dividing the loot, as well as settling disputes. Loot was shared equally by all (the captain and quartermaster got 2 shares).

They also tended to be very loyal to other pirates, not just in their own crew. At least among the Caribbean pirates, they didn't cheat each other, didn't steal from other pirates and didn't hide treasure from each other - being caught doing this would get you marooned. They also made sure pirates injured during attacks got extra pay.

There wasn't buried treasure. Anything gained was quickly spent on drink and women.

Oh, and no walking the plank. They'd either kill prisoners or demand a ransom.

If a ship surrendered to them, they were usually gentle for the time...torture was sometimes used, but that was common for the time period. They wouldn't kill those that surrendered. They wouldn't steal from the private passangers, just the ship in general. Doing this encouraged people to surrender. When they didn't, they showed no mercy and killed everyone on board. Some ships forbid rape, others didn't. How violent they were depended on the crew and the agreement they made when they came on board.
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2003 - 08:46 pm:   

Lucius, I bet you hated The Black Stallion too.
Oh no. Poor horse--you know I've never been able to finish Black Beauty --I find that I've far more trouble seeing or reading about animals hurt than people hurt.

I have no intention of seeing LXG, don't worry. Not even for Sean Connery.

Jeremy, thanks for the recommendation.

Robert: that's really interesting. Thanks. Have there ever been any movies that have depicted them accurately?
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 06:44 am:   

Robert:

Any source material recommendations on what you've told us about pirates?

JK
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 07:26 am:   

One I saw recently that I thought was pretty good was Whale Rider. Lucius was right, it's heavy handed in the message department. You know what is going to happen at the end about fifteen minutes into the film, but the characters were really wonderfully drawn, it was well written, and there was some really fascinating stuff about Maori culture. For my teenage sons to like a film without any explosions, car chases, cgi effects, or high body counts, there has to be something going on there. It was a good family flick. The last movie I could say that about was Spirited Away. Another situation where a film can greatly appeal to all the various ages and inclinations found in a family.

Best,


Jeff
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 09:49 am:   

Jeff,
I haven't seen Whale Rider yet but plan to. I have no problem with knowing how something is going to end as long as the getting there is worthwhile. Same with fiction.

Have you seen Holes? It was based on a YA novel. That was excellent too. Long gone in the theaters though.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 10:58 am:   

I don't know of any films that have a non-Hollywood portrayal of pirates.

So far, I've gotten much of my information from "Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd" by Richard Zachs (which reveals that Kidd's reputation as a pirate was mostly undeserved and that he did his best to hunt down other pirates). The other main source has been GURPS Swashbucklers. Their historical supplements are really well researched and have nice bibliographies.

Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly is something I plan to read next.


Yes, Whale Rider is a good movie. Nothing really surprising in it, but it is enjoyable.
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 02:34 pm:   

I'm going to see _Northfork_ on Friday. It's about a town in 1955 that is situated in a place where a dam is about to create a lake. The only people left in town are the desperate, the ill, and the misfits. Oh, and four rather odd angels. It's got James Woods, Kyle MacLachlan, Mark Polish, Michele Hicks, Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah, and Anthony Edwards. It runs the risk of being a little self-conciously fey, but I have a secret weakness for offbeat angels--even though they have become something of a cliche.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 - 03:20 pm:   

Maureen and all,

I thought NORThFORK was pretty great, much surperior to TWIN FALLS IDAHO and JACKPOT, the Polish brothers two previous movies. It's truly weird, a mixture of facisim and bits of magic realism and ought else. Nick Nolte plays a priest (or is he an angel -- that's one of the questions asked by the movie),,,and his performance and that of Woods, who plays one of a small black-clad cadre of men ordered to evacuate the town, are both very fine.
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Maureen McHugh
Posted on Thursday, August 07, 2003 - 05:01 am:   

Lucius, I'm glad to hear you say that since I suspect your tolerence for fey angels is less than mine. (I even liked moments of Nicolas Cage's angel in the movie with Meg Ryan--a pretty dreadful piece of cinema all around in which angels seemed to share many characteristics with beagles--particularly in the soulful eyes department.)
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 09:08 am:   

Got the dvd player working (after wringing my hands for about 10 minutes I finally found the button on the tv that I seem to have to press manually to change over to dvd) and watched (as a treat between working) Unfaithful with Diane Lane, Richard Gere, and the gorgeous sexy hunk Oliver Martinez.

It was very entertaining. Lane was superb and deserved her Oscar nomination. Especially in the first third when she's trying to fight the allure of the sexy frenchman but is obviously attracted and simultanously feeling guilty.

I happen to like Richard Gere (hi Lucius!) as an actor and thought he was very believable in his role. I noticed that the movie was based on Une Femme Infidele (sp) by Claude Chabrol--anyone seen it?
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 01:46 pm:   

I recently saw Brecht's LEGEND OF THE DEAD SOLDIER. 'twas brilliant.

In the cinema, I saw Underworld, which was godawful (so of course the studio's already got the director and screenwriter working on Part 2, and have expressed interest in a prequel); Cabin Fever, which was terrible but at least entertaining; and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which was almost as entertaining as it was incomprehensible -- but a flick like that, who needs a plot?
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 01:48 pm:   

Oh, yes. I also watched Boondock Saints yesterday, which I found very entertaining.
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 01:59 pm:   

Was the Brecht a production of the play or a movie?

I'll probably see Underworld some time, just for the look of it. But no rush. I want to see Once Upon a Time in Mexico --great cast!

What's Boondock Saints?
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ellen
Posted on Monday, October 06, 2003 - 09:16 am:   

Continuing my catch up on movies I missed in the theaters:

Philadelphia with Tom Hanks--I thought this was really good. I'm glad I didn't see it when it came out because of all the hype (positive and negative). Tom Hanks gives a terrific performance that deserved the Oscar, Antonio Bandaras plays his longtime companion very believably. I believe it was brave for a Hollywood movie to take on what was (and still mainly)seen as a "gay scourge" --the movie came out in 1993. The characters are interesting, especially Denzel Washington as the homophobic defense attorney who eventually agrees to take Hanks' case. A well-done civics lesson as well as a moving personal story.

Monster Ball with terrific acting by Halle Berry and Billie Bob Thornton. I had a bit of trouble believing that so many awful things could happen to the two main characters in so short a time. I don't want to provide spoilers so I won't go into them here. Also, Halle Berry's being model- beautiful kind of gets in the way of the story.

But...I've found myself thinking about this one a lot. The first sex scene was fascinating in its depiction of desperate need by Letitia for temporary oblivion from her situation, although I could have done without the artsy fartsy stuff.

Some people (I've checked some of the viewer reviews on the IFDB website) didn't think the ending worked. I felt it worked perfectly.

I think seeing movies months or years after they've come out gives me a far more objective appreciation of these movies and I like that.
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mark siegel
Posted on Tuesday, October 07, 2003 - 11:10 pm:   

i think the ending of Monster Ball was the only ending that would have worked.

have you see the new sophia coppolla movie, Lost In Translation, that people are claiming is a brilliant study of spiritual bankruptcy and the emptiness of modern life, and so must the best movie of the year? i didn't think it was close to be being any of that, was even boring in places, but it is interesting. showing a character's boredom (even if you call it spiritual bankruptcy) by boring the audience isn't good filmmaking, and if i had to watch scarlet johannson looking out the window at the tokyo skyline for one more second, i'd have pushed her through the glass myself. you can talk about ennui and spiritual dissipation in a review, but almost no one has made a movie about that since the french and the scandanavians in the 60s, and almost no one in any country wants to watch one. unless you're a movie critic, you're too busy working to care about how empty life is for a rich movie star like Bill Murray plays. (he's getting paid $2 million for a week of posing for whiskey ads.) what the movie is about, and why it connects with some audiences, is an aging married man and a young married woman who are bored being stuck in a hotel in Japan and think about having an affair. i was a lot less bored by this than my wife, since bill murray is about my age and his co-star is a beautiful 20-something year old -- tremendous dramatic tension, throughout the film, because the cliche is that they will go to bed together, and everything in me except lust is hoping that they won't, because abstinance will prove their emergent friendship is more important. a key section in the middle doesn't work, where the characters are supposed to be falling in like, but all that comes across is a stupid, disjointed night with teenagers talking japanese and trying to sing karaoke and can't. but basically, i kept wondering until the end, will they or won't they, not sure what i was rooting for.

can you say it's about midlife crisis or a young person worrying about what she will do with her life? sure. but all you'd learn from this film then is what murry's character says, "it's hard," and "things will work out." maybe it will for these two, but, again, they're rich and have a lot of options. the relationship often is subtle or even ambiguous [duh, maybe that's why it's called Lost in Translation; how wide a generation gap can they, and should they jump?]. This ambiguity is wonderful to see in a funny movie, as long as people have enough of a clue as to what's going on; for me, the big achievment of this film is the way it walks that razor edge. [that's my subtle rejoinder to a critic's crack about murry as a wannabe serious actor in the razor's edge.] i think murry has a tremendous amount to do with our knowing what we know about the characters, and coppolla owes him a very large measure of the success the film is likely to have.

sorry to rant, but ranting about a movie (or a book or anything else) is usually a sign it's worth thinking about, and, so, checking out, don't you think?
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - 08:47 am:   

I agree about the ending of MB.

I very much want to see Lost in Translation. Don't want to read your rant too closely as I'd like to have the movie fresh when I see it, without knowing too much about it. I'll report back when I do though :-)
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Deborah Roggie
Posted on Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - 07:37 pm:   

About finding a realistic pirate movie: "A High Wind in Jamaica" might fit the bill. It was made in the 60's and stars Anthony Quinn as the captain of a pirate ship. He was the first among equals rather than the iron master. After slaughtering the crew of a captured ship, the pirates find themselves in posession of a group of children. Not a sentimental film, though--I remember it as sardonic and funny and sad by turns. It does not exactly have a happy ending. I saw it many years ago; I wonder how it's held up.

I agree about "Whale Rider" -- somewhat predictable, but beautifully done, with some lovely performances. Worth seeking out.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, October 19, 2003 - 08:47 am:   

Friday night I watched Sling Blade for the first time and loved it. Again, Billie Bob Thornton does a masterful acting job (I know this one came out earlier) but also wrote and directed the movie.

The movie won an Oscar for material based on something else but all I could find on the Imdb was that it was a play first. Does anyone know any more about that? Was the play ever performed?

Something I noticed, weirdly enough, was that there were no close-ups of the mother or her boyfriend (Dwight Yoakeum played the bastard) so I never really got a good look at their faces. I wonder if this was intentional or not. Everyone else important in the movie seems to have their close-ups. In any case, I enjoyed the movie a lot.

Also watched Waiting for Guffman which disappointed me only because so many people raved about it. I think I like A Mighty Wind better for its more complicated relationships. The humor seems equal to Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. Since I haven't seen their first movie in so long (the rock parody--and of course the title's just flown out of my head) I don't feel I can judge against that.
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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, October 19, 2003 - 08:58 am:   

Yes, Sling Blade was good. Billy Bob is certainly one of my favourite current actors. A movie of his which I have not seen but plan to is Monster's Ball.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 19, 2003 - 09:23 am:   

Slingblade was originally not a play, but a monologue performed initially at Actor's Studio that basically consisted of the scene in which the college girl interviews Billy Bob. It was then made into a short film. Then into the feature length movie.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, October 19, 2003 - 10:01 am:   

Brendan, I just watched it a couple of weeks ago and highly recommend it. See my post about it October 6th.

Lucius, thanks for the info. Did you ever see the short film? It makes an excellent feature length movie.

Btw, at the KGB reading last Wednesday, I met Douglas Buck, the filmmaker who made Cutting Moments, one of the most horrific movies I've ever seen. It's only about 30 minutes long and he made it when he was 19 or 20. I saw it at the Conf. of the Fantastic a few years ago and at the end of it felt faint. Seriously. In fact, I missed the showing of Peter Jackson's Forgotten Silver because I had to run to the bathroom to put cold compresses on my head so that I wouldn't pass out.


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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, October 19, 2003 - 11:06 am:   

Thanks Ellen, I missed that.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, October 19, 2003 - 05:24 pm:   

Yeah, the short film is on video/DVD. You can even find it at some Blockbusters....

Lucius
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Richard Parks
Posted on Monday, October 20, 2003 - 07:22 am:   

The rock parody was THIS IS SPINAL TAP, which is still one of my favorite movies.
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ellen
Posted on Monday, October 20, 2003 - 07:33 am:   

Richard,
Thanks _I_ knew that--just had a senior moment :-)

I saw Intolerable Cruelty yesterday and enjoyed it a lot. It's charming and yes, it is indeed a screwball comedy. Probably the Coen brothers slickest movie ever but it still has a bite.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, October 26, 2003 - 03:13 pm:   

Saturday night I watched most of the second season of The Sopranos; some of the episodes I'd already seen but that's fine, as rewatching earlier shows brings further resonence to later events. I think I've seen some of the third season on videos lent to me but I'm not sure. Won't be able to watch the next batch till after WFC next weekend.

The longer I watch the series the better it gets. It's interesting how the mob activities of Tony Soprano seep into and corrupt his whole family. How Carmella uses the unspoken threat of her "connections" to force outsiders to do her will, and how hypocritical she is by praying for Christopher to survive and basically accept Jesus so he'll be accepted into heaven yet sees nothing wrong with living off the spoils of her husband's illegal and murderous activities. And how she hates his lying to her about other women yet basically her whole lifestyle is a lie.
Also, backtracking on some of the episodes with Pussy in them, I feel more and more sorry for his untenable position vis a vis Tony and the Feds.

Anyway, great stuff.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 01:38 pm:   

Over the weekend I saw Kill Bill which I loved. Some of the scenes are absolutely beautiful (the scene in the snow especially) and I liked the characters--Lucy Liu and her entourage. I also enjoyed the way Tarantino used anime for the Liu (can't remember her screen name) character's "origin story." I'm very much looking forward to the second half and might try to see the first half again before it disappears from theaters.

I also saw Mystic River, which had all around good acting (Penn's as always, phenomenal) but also bombastic musical interludes and unnecessary bloated panoramas that hurt the movie and slowed it all down. I did find the plot interesting but felt something unsatisfactory about the ending. Not sure why.
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Gwenda B.
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 07:18 pm:   

Hey Ellen,

Agree with you about Kill Bill. I thought it was one of the best and purest _movies_ that I'd seen in a long time, and that all the violence was well done because it existed within a structure of violence, a code (kind of like Chandler noir, only different). I think one of the reasons the sequencing worked so well is because the opening allows the Bride character to acknowledge that code (don't want to say more for fear of spoilers for those who haven't seen it). People who complain it takes away the tension, well, I don't get that because you know the Bride is going to make it to Part 2, so she's killing whoever's on her list in this movie. I left much more enthused about the second part.

POTENTIAL SPOILER'S AHEAD

As for Mystic River, I really liked the book and think it's the most ambitious thing Lehane's written (though probably not quite as successful as his series books). The very, very ending was the only part they substantially crammed from the book to include, and I thought that made it not work too. (The parade is much later, as in years later if I'm remembering correctly, in the book -- an afterward of Jimmy as Mob Boss and Sean Devine, Bacon, seeing him.) Not to mention the wife character (of Sean Penn) is substantially condensed and so her motivation at the end doesn't quit play and the Kevin Bacon absent wife character arc does not integrate as well in the movie as it did in the book.

But, both solid movies. Elf is my favorite movie we've seen in the theater in a long time. I know, but really, we both loved it and thought it hilarious. (The audience gave it a standing ovation at the end; it's not that good, but close for a Christmas comedy.)
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 10:23 pm:   

Hi Gwenda,
Thanks for the comparision of Mystic River to the book, which I haven't read--with your info, the ending makes more sense but yeah, the condensation of various plot points and character arcs doesn't work.

I hadn't planned to see Elf but damn! maybe I need to revise that plan :-)
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Minz
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 05:24 am:   

I offer a hearty recommendation for MASTER AND COMMANDER. I haven't read O'Brian, so I cannot address it on that level. And I don't intend to offer any spoilers.

But it is extremely well-crafted and entertaining, and most definitely benefits from being on the big screen. More importantly, it doesn't flinch from the realities of early 19th Century sailing, esp. in the British fleet, even as it glorifies the heroic nature of such men.
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Richard Parks
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 06:15 am:   

ELF was a lot better than it should have been. From the trailers I'd expected a Golden Turkey class flick, but after the first few Rankin-Bass references I relaxed; I knew I was in good hands.
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ellen
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 08:39 am:   

Jim M: Yes, that's another I want to see. Not into seafaring epics but I like Russell Crowe as an actor and the trailers were interesting.

Richard: Yeah, the trailers were what turned me off.

Uh, so who are Rankin-Bass or do I need to see the movie to figure it out?
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Mastadge
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 09:10 am:   

I also thought Master and Commander was tremendous. I'm a Crowe fan, too (though I don't think he was quite right for this role), but I'd've seen it regardless. Very good movie.
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Richard Parks
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 09:40 am:   

Rankin-Bass was the animation outfit that did a lot of those old stop-motion Christmas specials, like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Rudolph's Happy New Year. Even the opening of the movie is styled after the R-B Rudolph.

I still wouldn't call it a classic, but it was fun enough if you don't take it too seriously. Which, seeing Will Ferrell in the elf-suit, would be hard to do anyway.
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John Klima
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 10:04 am:   

And of course:

http://www.rankinbass.com/

In addition to the holiday fare, they did the animated version of THE HOBBIT and THE RETURN OF THE KING from the 70s. Enjoy!

JK
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William Smith
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 10:13 am:   

Have any fans of the O'Brien novels seen M&C yet? I've only read the first two books but, so far, I love them. Crowe definitely looks the part but I have doubts about his ability to play the well-intentioned-but-goofy aspects of Jack Aubrey's personality. Crowe always seems way too self-serious. I also heard (on NPR I think?) that while the movie is fantastic it doesn't really put across the Aubrey-Maturin friendship.

Any thoughts? I guess I should just see the damn movie.
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 02:43 pm:   

The child says I should see Kill Bill and with all your recommendations, perhaps I'll make myself do so.

I saw Love Actually and wept and laughed at appropriate moments. In the end, it was a dumb movie with annoying contrivances and some bad writing but still entertaining. Anyways, who cares? It has Alan Rickman.
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Laura MK
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 04:19 am:   

Second you on Alan Rickman, Leslie!

Sometimes I rent the videos, close my eyes, and just listen to his voice!

I don't get out for a lot of first-run films, but do get to the theatre once a month or so. Next up is a double feature of Taming ofthe Shrew and The Tamer Tamed.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 07:34 am:   

Thanks for tuning me into Rankin-Bass. I'm sure I saw a lot of their movies.
Will, I've heard from a few people that the Aubrey-Matunn friendship was done very well (haven't read the books or seen the movie yet so just going on friendly hearsay).

Yay for Alan Rickman. Did anyone see An Awfully Big Adventure? It's with Hugh Grant in a really nasty, well-acted role. I like Hugh Grant too, by the way--he does wonderful romantic comedy. So that's a double reason for me needing to see Love, Actually.

Anyway, getting back to An Awfully Big Adventure, it's based on a Beryl Bainbridge novel (I've never read her) and is ultimately very depressing, despite its title. It's about a young girl named Stella from rural England who wants to get into the theater. She joins a not so great theater company, directed by Hugh Grant and the movie is about the interplay between actors/director, etc. Alan Rickman plays the reckless, drunken star of the company.

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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 07:52 am:   

I saw LOVE, ACTUALLY this last weekend with my wife and enjoyed it a lot. I don't know if it just hit me right, or if it was really that good, but I haven't laughed out loud like that in a movie theater, well, ever. There were some loose strings that I wish could have been tied up, but like Leslie said, it made me laugh, it me cry, and there are great performances by nearly everyone. In addition to Grant and Rickman, Liam Neeson does a stellar job at a man struggling with life. I also liked Rowan Atkinson's cameo. If you want to see a heart-swelling comedy, this is the one to see.

JK
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 09:08 pm:   

I went with my parents yesterday to see The Magdalene Sisters and I couldn't go to sleep last night thinking about it. A horrific film based on the true story about young Irish girls who were thought to be promiscuous (the three main characters were 1)raped by a cousin 2) an unwed mother 3) sexy but a virgin who looks like she's going to be a troublemaker) and sent to a group home for wayward girls run by the most sadistic, evil nuns you have ever come across. The girls do laundry and the home makes and keeps the moneywhile the girls get nothing and have no escape.

The story takes place in 1964, and the last home didn't close until 1996! Some of the "girls" lived there for more than 40 years and it's estimated that 30,000 young girls passed through the doors of these hellholes.

What is most upsetting is that the parents of most of the girls (one girl was an orphan)were complicit in their children's incarceration. The girls were slaves and had no way out unless someone (a male relative most likely) came to take them out. I find it hard to believe that this was allowed to go out for decades.

I don't care how much this might have been exaggerated, just the idea of such places of the damned sanctioned by the Church and the parents of the girls is repellent.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, December 14, 2003 - 10:48 am:   

I saw The Violet Hour on Friday night. New play by the guy who wrote Take me Out, which I liked and which won the Tony Award for Best Play last year.
The Violet Hour is about a young publisher (ms flying everywhere) just after WWI who can only publish one book to start. He has a choice to publish the huge many thousand page novel of an old college chum or the memoirs of his secret negro (appropriate term for the time period) lover who is a relative famous singer(although this is a contrivance in itself--that he has to publish one of these two and not the hundreds of other mss he has received).

The chum and his love (rich, who can't marry him unless the novel is published to prove that he is worth something in her father's eyes)--are based on F.Scott and Zelda Fitzergerald.
The singer might be a combo of Josephine Baker/Billy Holiday --or not.

Anyway, a large, mysterious machine arrives in the office (unordered) and begins to spew paper and more paper. Second act and it turns out the paper is from books of the future that give hints as to which book the protag publishes by its discussion of his career and the other characters in the play.
It's funny, strange, and definitely worth seeing.

An sf time travel play on Broadway!! Nice susprise.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, December 14, 2003 - 11:01 am:   

Yesterday I saw Lost in Translation and liked it very much. Bill Murray and Scarlet Johanssen are perfect matched. I've been to Tokyo and Kyoto and the alienness of Japan to a westerner is captured nicely. When I was there I was traveling with Alice Turner and we stayed with diplomat friends of hers. So our alientation wasn't as complete as the characters in Lost in Translation as being in a strange society with no guideposts. Also, the movie seems a spot on depiction of depression. The pace of the movie is slow in contrast to the freneticness of Tokyo itself and I enjoyed that.

I didn't see Sofia Coppola's first movie but this is a very good second. She took a lot of chances with this and I think they paid off--at least for me.
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Gwenda B.
Posted on Sunday, December 14, 2003 - 03:09 pm:   

I thought LOST IN TRANSLATION was very, very good too, and I would recommend seeking out Coppola's first film, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES. It's much darker than this, but has a similar interesting and quiet mood to it and manages to tell a very ambiguous story in a satisfying way. And some beautiful imagery.

I missed THE MAGDALENE SISTERS when it was here, but I'll have to Netflix it. It sounds very involving, if infuriating.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, December 14, 2003 - 03:57 pm:   

Hi Gwenda,
I'll have to rent The Virgin Suicides at some point. Definitely rent The Magdalene Sisters but don't expect a happy upbeat film :-)

I'm going to try to take a break and watch some of hte rest of Season 4 of The Sopranos dvds I've got rented. How many seasons have there been so far? I know there are no more available on dvd yet but still, curious.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, December 14, 2003 - 05:11 pm:   

I thought LOST IN TRANSLATION was a very slick but ultimately disgusting movie about two jaded privildeged bland worthless people who I would like to see dropped off a building. Their "problems" are of the Eliotesque "Shall I walk upon a beach, do I dare to eat a peach" variety and all through the film I kept having to suppress the urge to shout insults at them. Granted, Johanson and Murray are appealing actors, granted the alienation of Tokyo and etc, was well stated, but being asked to feel sorry for these characters with their platinum card problems and their ennui made me want to burn down the theater.
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ellen
Posted on Monday, December 15, 2003 - 11:31 am:   

I guess I have more empathy for the "privileged" class. Not every movie has to be about the poor and suffering of the planet. Sure, it's possible they don't have the time to be depressed, having to work hard just to stay in place but that doesn't obliterate the fact that depression is real, that people with money have problems.

I don't get what your problem is with the movie. The girl is certainly not jaded but at a juncture where she needs to decide where her young life is going.
Not sure how "jaded" the Murray character is either--world weary, sad sack but with a sense of humor yeah. I don't see these people as jaded or any less worth the while of my company than
other characters in other movies that you find more admirable.

I don't go to movies for social enlightment--I know what's going on in the world of the poor. I don't need my nose rubbed in it. If a movie (about the poor or rich) isn't entertaining then it fails and to me is dead-boring.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, December 15, 2003 - 07:21 pm:   

It's not that the characters are not poor. And my criticism has nothing to do with the notion of gleaning social enlightenment from a fucking movie -- I think that's kind of a tough idea to swallow, though I do recall one incident in which you suggested I would be illuminated by viewing a certain movie in this way. It's that they're feckless, weak, self-indulgent, feeble of will and ultinmately, in my view, Kiwanis club republican level boring. Johanson's role in Ghost World, she played another annoying character, but she had an arc, she grew. Here she just wallows in self-pity for a while until the movie ends. As for Murray, like I said, he's always appealing, but his character in this one seems motivated by a low-wattage disengagement that may be very modern in its disdainful self-judgment, but is a real drag. I wouldn't want to have a conversation with this guy, so why would I want to watch a movie about him? I don't find shallow people interesting. And these seem irredeemably shallow people. Rich or poor, it wouldn't much matter. However, their priviledge makes them even less sympathetic, in that they have the tools to change their lives, to change even the moment enclosed by the film, but are too enervated to bother.

Does that clarify my reaction?

On another front, I have the flu. My review -- it sucks.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, December 15, 2003 - 07:23 pm:   

It's not that the characters are not poor. And my criticism has nothing to do with the notion of gleaning social enlightenment from a fucking movie -- I think that's kind of a tough idea to swallow, though I do recall one incident in which you suggested I would be illuminated by viewing a certain movie in this way. It's that they're feckless, weak, self-indulgent, feeble of will and ultinmately, in my view, Kiwanis club republican level boring. Johanson's role in Ghost World, she played another annoying character, but she had an arc, she grew. Here she just wallows in self-pity for a while until the movie ends. As for Murray, like I said, he's always appealing, but his character in this one seems motivated by a low-wattage disengagement that may be very modern in its disdainful self-judgment, but is a real drag. I wouldn't want to have a conversation with this guy, so why would I want to watch a movie about him? I don't find shallow people interesting. And these seem irredeemably shallow people. Rich or poor, it wouldn't much matter. However, their priviledge makes them even less sympathetic, in that they have the tools to change their lives, to change even the moment enclosed by the film, but are too enervated to bother.

Does that clarify my reaction?

I did, however, on a primitive BOY'S LIFE level like Master and Commander.

On another front, I have the flu. My review -- it sucks.
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ellen
Posted on Monday, December 15, 2003 - 09:53 pm:   

Fair enough. I was happy enough to spend two hours with them. Also, I believe they did/and will change as a result of their fleeting relationship. But I am an optimist.

Sorry to hear about the flu. Feel better!

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ben peek
Posted on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - 08:51 pm:   

i've seen THE VIRGIN SUICIDES but its structure makes it really hard to care about the girls, who are nothing more the suburban cliches, really. if the humour had been blacker, and the boys slightly more interesting, then it might have worked, but the structure of narrating the suicides from the point of view of people who didn't know them leaves a lot to be desired.

interestingly, i had the same problem with the novel, so it might just be me.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 10:03 am:   

Recently saw:
ROTK which I liked a lot and didn't even have to run out to the bathroom once!--I'd like to see all the extended DVDs though.
I went with a friend who hadn't seen the first two, although I hadn't known that till after the movie. I explained a few things to him during the movie (quietly) and afterwards explained a lot to him. He says he enjoyed it anyway.

Big Fish by Tim Burton--as I watched it I kept having the feeling that it wasn't holding together--it felt very disconnected and patch until the last half hour or so when it did come together for me into a satisfying whole. Albert Finney was good as were all the other actors.

Something's Gotta Give--Keanu Reeves was hot (sorry Lucius) and Jack Nicholson did not deserve the girl. I was left with a bad taste because of this. But acting was good (Keanue believable as a sweet young doctor) and there were some very funny moments. Amanda Peet looks like she put on some weight since Igby Goes Down thank god, so she doesn't look like a scarecrow any more.

Rented Body Heat, which I hadn't seen since it came out. It holds up fine. In fact, I think I liked it better now than I did originally, when I don't remember thinking much of it.
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Iron James
Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 10:26 am:   

I must admit to liking LOST IN TRANSLATION quite a bit, though I wouldn't say it's something I'd rush out to see a second time. I did feel sorry for the characters, though part of my sympathy came from the fact that they were pretty much just the kind of people Lucius describes.

Other than the Tolkien movies, which I truly loved, MASTER AND COMMANDER was only the second movie in about five years that I rushed out to see on opening night. It didn't disappointment me in any way, though you do have to take it for what it is.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 02:23 pm:   

Did you run to see Master and Commander because of the books or because you like sea adventure, or another reason? (just curious).

And what was the other movie you ran out to see?
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 02:45 pm:   

I didn't have any interest in Master and Commander, but I've read good things about it. Especially by history buffs like me. I still haven't seen it though because I never read the book and am not much into sea adventures. I might rent it some time.

I think the last movie I saw in the theaters was My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but I do plan to watch the DVDs of Seabiscuit and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind someday. The former my brother sent me and the latter I bought on his recommendation. We have very different tastes though so I'm not sure about either.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 03:02 pm:   

Well, I've got three DVDs on-hand from Netflix: Croupier, Barton Fink(seen in the movies), and The Vanishing (original version). I also have some goodies Lucius has lent me that I've got to catch up on.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 03:03 pm:   

Thomas: I think the historian in you will enjoy the period trappings of "Seabiscuit." I liked it but found it a bit cold, for some reason. Plus, the title "character" is minimized giving the humans all the glory. Three cool actors, though, in Bridges, Maguire and Cooper. "Confessions" is a flawed, but enjoyable film. Sam Rockwell is a great character actor who gets the spotlight for once.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 03:12 pm:   

I was unhappy with the second voiceover in Seabiscuit --it took me right out of the movie. The first time was fine because it set up the time period.

R.Wilder: I think it's kind of difficult to get a horse to show character (although it certainly has been done and hopefully will work in the upcoming Hidalgo). But the humans characters in Seabiscuit are definitely more interesting.
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - 03:13 pm:   

That figures. I think revolving a film around a horse is probably hard to do unless the film is animated, a documentary, or intended for kids. Most versions of Call of the Wild I've seen end up revolving around the people. Although I actually disliked that book, I thinking making that story revolve around people pretty much destroys what point it had. I haven't read the book Seabiscuit so don't know if it's the same issue or not.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, December 31, 2003 - 06:31 am:   

Just watched Seabiscuit last night. I enjoyed it for the most part, but could not stand the way the horses looked when they did close-ups on the actors; i.e. how the actors looked like they were riding rocking horses instead of real horses. Good performances by the actors, though, especially Bridges who I typically don't care for.

Also watched Down With Love, which most people would consider drivel, but I enjoyed it immensely. Just a silly take on the pillow comedies of Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Not as snappy as the Hudson/Day originals, but really bright and vibrant.

JK
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, December 31, 2003 - 08:50 am:   

Down With Love is one I have to rent.

I loved Pillow Talk, most of which I recently watched for the first time since seeing it when it first came out.It was as funny as I remembered it.
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Iron James
Posted on Thursday, January 01, 2004 - 02:12 pm:   

The books are what made me go. Books are often why I rush to see a movie. The only other movie I can remember running out to see on opening night was "Finding Forester."
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Iron James
Posted on Thursday, January 01, 2004 - 02:18 pm:   

What the heck, I'll also throw something silly in here. It wasn't on opening night, but I took the kids to see "Pirates of the Caribbean," and I had a great time. We even bought the DVD. Sometimes it's enough if the movie is just fin and makes you laugh a bit.
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ellen
Posted on Thursday, January 01, 2004 - 04:22 pm:   

I loved Pirates of the Caribbean--we've discussed it a bit above. I never thought I'd enjoy a movie based on a stupid Disney ride but it was the perfect summer movie.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, January 01, 2004 - 05:06 pm:   

My Dad got it for Christmas so I may end up seeing it some time. My little sister loved it and mostly I go with her tastes. (Except I don't like anime much and she was archivist for an anime society)
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Iron James
Posted on Friday, January 02, 2004 - 01:33 pm:   

Well, pirates voted for the captain, but often the votes were cast for the man who had the most and nastiest friends who might take serious offense if you voted wrong.

And there were several buried treasures, and records of a handful that were probably never recovered. Not all pirates wanted to spend their money as fast as possible, some were in it to get a large stake and then get out, and sometimes necessity made hiding a treasure the thing to do.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, January 04, 2004 - 01:17 pm:   

Today, Paul Witcover and I went to see The Triplets of Belleville, a wonderful french animated film a little over an hour long. It's odd, funny, moving. Very little dialog and no subtitles. They aren't necessary, as you can tell exactly what's going on from the action.

It's a treat. It's better to not know anything about it and just go.
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ellen
Posted on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 08:19 pm:   

Just came back from Elephant by Gus Van Sant. Disappointing, especially after the build-up Lucius gave it. I was waiting for some revelation, something new to be said about Columbine. But nope. Instead, we see the boring school day -the pure normality of the day. I get it I get it. Neverending shots of students walking the halls of the high school. The ending was good (at least something happened) but in my opinion, whatever van Sant was trying to do failed in a big way.
I'd love for someone to tell me I'm mistaken and why. Lucius?
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 09:43 am:   

Last night I watched one of my Netflix dvds for a break-Talk to Her by Pedro Almodovar. It wasn't at all what I expected but I enjoyed it. First thing that struck me was the use of Pina Bausch's dance to open the film--I've been an avid attendee of Bausch's work since her dance company first started coming to the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festivals. Dreamy, powerless sleepwalking woman--the opening fits perfectly with the rest of the movie, which is about two women in comas and the way in which the men who love them deal with their condition. I'm surprised that I don't recall any outrage when the movie came out over here at some of the plot elements. I personally think they worked, in contrast to a scene in Lina Wertmuller's Seven Beauties that I felt was exploitative and gratuitous. If anyone has seen that movie and Talk to Her we can discuss this further.

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ellen
Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 02:43 pm:   

I went to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last night and loved it. It's the best acting Jim Carrey has ever done. It's horrific and sad and poignant. All the acting was excellent and it was great seeing Elijah Wood as a slimeball in contrast to his role as Frodo.

I have one problem--a seeming inconsistency that really bothers me though so if anyone has seen it and can discuss (we can provide a spoiler alert) let me know here.
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 04:48 pm:   

Since I don't want to create a whole new subtopic for this announcement,I'm adding it here:

Free Reading of Clark Perry's THE PLANET ON 158th STREET Offered April 19 in NYC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Epiphany Theater Company will present a special free reading of the new play, THE PLANET ON 158th STREET April 19.

Anya Martin will direct the reading of Perry's "sci-fi fantasia," which is loosely based on the Futurians, a group of young NYC writers in the 1930s-40s whose ranks included Isaac Asimov, Fred Pohl, Damon Knight, and other genre luminaries.

According to the production notes: "When a young farmboy moves to New York City on the eve of World War II, nothing can prepare him for the people he'll meet: fervent Communists, crass pulp magazine editors, alcoholic freeloaders -- and a mysterious amnesiac haunted by visions of an impending apocalypse."

The play premiered in a workshop production at Carnegie Mellon University last year, and was selected for a staged reading at New York Stage & Film's Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. It recently received a staged reading at Round House Theatre in Silver Spring, MD.

The reading will feature the talents of Roderick Hill, Ben Pelteson, and others. Show time is 7 PM. An audience talkback session will follow.

Epiphany Theater Company is located at 154 Christopher St., Suite 2B. Admission is free; call (646) 638-0252 for reservations.

**************************




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Chris Dodson
Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 08:04 pm:   

I also loved ETERNAL SUNSHINE, although I probably wouldn't go as far as to say it was Carrey's best acting job. Fire Marshall Bill, anyone? :-)

I did notice an inconsistency, but I'm not sure if it's the same one you saw. Was this it?

SPOILER

When Clementine first gets the procedure, Joel isn't supposed to know she's had it. But when she shows up with no memories of Joel whatsoever, what's he supposed to think?

END SPOILER
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 09:21 pm:   

Ok Chris..First of all what was Fire Marshall Bill?


SPOILER












Why did Joel not remember Huckleberry Hound when he meets Clementine again after his memory is wiped? Huckleberry Hound was a part of his childhood NOT just the opening joke he made when he first met Clementine....
Is that the inconsistency you found?
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 10:22 pm:   

This is Fire Marshall Bill: Fire Marshall Bill He's from Carrey's IN LIVING COLOR days back in the early '90s. I was just joking about him being Carrey's best acting job (although Bill will always hold a special place in my heart.)

I completely missed the Huckleberry gaff, but it seems strikingly obvious now that you mention it. No, the only thing I found inconsistent was what I metioned above -- SPOILER I just found it unbelievable that Joel would be completely clueless when he first talks with Clementine after her operation. END SPOILER

Chris Dodson
http://www.livejournal.com/users/loveboatcaptain/
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 07:59 am:   

I didn't see what you saw as an inconsistancy--I didn't realize you whited it out. :-)
SPOILER










Anyway, I'm not sure which scene that is but he doesn't know about Lacuna so why would he think she doesn't remember him? He would think she's snubbing him utterly and that it's all very peculiar which I think he expresses....but why would it occur to him that she wiped him from her memory?
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - 05:53 pm:   

I saw Kill Bill II Sunday night and loved it. Now I want to see them back to back.
The second movie was less visually audacious but filled in the back story and context very nicely. A terrific movie (both volumes). Excellent acting all around. Carradine very impressive.
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - 08:09 pm:   

Yeah, Carradine was great. Although I'm in a very small minority, I think KILL BILL, taken as a whole, is Tarantino's best movie yet.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - 09:10 pm:   

Didn't the ending of ETERNAL SUNSHINE bother anyone? Christ, I thought the ending was so untrue to the story.
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - 09:29 pm:   

It bothered me a little. I think the ending you mentioned in your ElectricStory review would've been much more effective, but at the same time, I thought the acting and the story up to that point were powerful enough to make it an overall success.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - 09:52 pm:   

Yeah, I guess, but for me it made the diff between a sorta good movie and maybe a great one...
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - 10:37 pm:   

I guess I need to check out your review Lucius on ElectricStory. Back when I find it.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - 11:05 pm:   

Nah. Lucius I disagree. I liked the ending--just because they may try again doesn't mean they'll last this time either. From reading your review I don't understand what you think should have happened. They walk away from each other at the end? Why?
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - 04:11 am:   

It's not an ending the way it stands, Ellen. It's a yuppie moral. Like, Whee, oh we suck, let do it some more -- it's all slappy and glad. It's tonally false. if this were a piece of fiction, you'd be all over it for that. These people are brain-damaged, impaired, by a process that doesn't seem to work very well. They are _fucked up__. You can't extrapolate real failure from the ending; you're given ro expect that, yes, they may fail, but it's a good failure, a brave failure, the best of all possible failures, and that's a shuck. It's emotionally glib in relation to what goes before. Some heightened sense of desperation, of flailing, of incompetence, needed to be invoked. If they had incorporated the original ending as an epilogue, one scene of less than a minute's duration, that would have worked for me.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - 08:13 am:   

What was the original ending?
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - 08:45 am:   

I guess I saw EToTM as a bit more cynical.
Was it supposed to be a love story?

SPOILER WARNING





The doctor who administers the treatment loses his wife. The technician who abuses the treatment can't otherwise get a date and is alone by the end of the film. The receptionist loves one unable to return her love. There's a sense the soul mates of the film will repeat the cycle: fall in love and fall apart until their brains are completely fried.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - 09:36 am:   

The original ending was a small scene in which the Clementine and Joel are seen reurning to Lacuna in old age, which illuminates Leslie's scenario as stated above.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - 11:30 am:   

Ah.
That makes it more overt.

I prefer it the way it is. What makes you think the current ending is any "happier?"
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - 02:26 pm:   

I didn't say it was happier, I said it was glib. I said, for my part, it was tonally at odds with what went before. It worked like a moral rather than a progression of narrative -- it made the eventual fate of the two characters seem more of a choice and less of an inevitability.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - 02:55 pm:   

Lucius, having them go back to Lacuna as old people hits the audience over the head with the point. We don't have to be shown that this is what they're going to do in the future. We already know in our heart of hearts that it won't work out for them (although, as the romantic that I am I'd prefer it did). In other words, I feel the ending is more subtle than the original ending.
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, April 29, 2004 - 12:40 pm:   

I just had a chance to see this film. I didn't find the marginally-more-uplifting "what the hey, let's go 'round one more time"-tone of the modified ending that hokey, since it was pretty obvious the procedure had left them more miserable and it was also pretty obvious that they would grate on each other and wind up busting up again. So, what the hell. But I would have preferred the downbeat original ending. (Why are studios so afraid of anything that's not smiley?)

What I found much more distracting and off-putting was the long, drawn-out and irritatingly obtuse middle hour of the film, where Kaufman seems to be showing off, letting us know he can write a movie without plot or narrative, the way Willie Pep could win a round without throwing a punch. At some point, it became really irritating.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, April 29, 2004 - 01:54 pm:   

First of all, Ellen, nobody can judge what they have not seen, so your thesis that the original ending would have been beating you over the head with the point is specious--doubtless the entire end of the film was sculpted to fit the new ending and if it would have been configured differently to suit the original ending. Secondly, I think this sculpting was inept and this resulted in what struck me as tonal dissonance. That's my point.
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ellen
Posted on Friday, April 30, 2004 - 09:33 am:   

Ahem-- Lucius you judge movies you've never seen often enough in conversation with me.

Obviously, we just disagree about this and never the twain shall meet. ;-)
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, May 15, 2004 - 03:57 pm:   

Had a movie day on Friday. Went to see Rules of Atraction mostly because I wanted a romantic comedy and I very much like Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore. The movie was no better than expected but I still found it entertaining. Good acting despite the inane script.

Then came home and caught up on my Netflix dvds:
The Crossing Guard which had good acting, a pretty good script, and not great directing by Sean Penn. I felt it was overdirected and badly filmed--with stupid slomo effects and scenes that were so dark that I couldn't figure out what was going on. David Morse was excellent, as was Jack Nicholson.

Roger Dodger, which I found enormously depressing--probably meant to be but I'm frankly not sure. When it came out it was billed a comedy but hell it sure ain't very funny.

spoiler



Campbell Black think that's his name) plays a despicable guy who shows his young nephew the ropes about getting girls into the sack. It plays like Neil LaBute. However, looking back I'm not convinced Roger ever did get laid (except by his boss) and the whole thing may be a scam he's pulling on himself.

In the Heat of the Night which I likely saw years ago but felt like watching again. Rod Steiger is really good. Sidney Poitier is stoic and gorgeous.
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Iron James
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 03:24 am:   

Just saw Van Helsing. It's going to get glasted to shreds by the critics, but I thoroughly enjoyed it from front to back.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 08:51 am:   

Wow! You're the first person I've heard who liked it. I was planning on giving it a miss. We'll see. I'm sure I'll see it eventually, if not on the big screen then on DVD.
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JeremyT
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 07:06 pm:   

Ellen,

Agree with you 100% on Roger Dodger. I picked it up thinking it would be funny, but I'm not sure I would even call it a dark comedy. Campbell Black's character was utterly depressing. It wasn't nearly as craptastic as Really Bad Things was, though. "Black comedy" in the box blurb now means "run away!"
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Adam-Troy Castro
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 07:56 pm:   

Campbell Black's character was supposed to be a loser; his nephew turns out to be the winner, and Black gets back some of his human potential by association with him.

Saw Stephen Sondheim's musical ASSASSINS at Studio 54. Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore qualify as comedy team of the century...
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 09:07 pm:   

Adam,
I do realize that Roger is supposed to be a loser--he just doesn't gain enough by associating with his nephew. I thought it an ugly little movie.

I'd love to see Assassins but only buy tix discounted (when I can get them or else pay full price when someone's in from out of town and really wants to see something).

I did see Wonderful Town last week with the incredible Donna Murphy (who I'd never seen before). She made the show worth it. The book (from which the tv series My Sister Eileen with Eve Arden was derived) is cute but very dated. The music effective for the duration of the show but not very memorable outside of it. Great production though. Sets terrific. Vision of NYC and especially my neighborhood a lot of fun.

Also saw Frozen, an anti-feelgood play but very good and not depressing as I thought it would be. It's about a serial child rapist/murderer, the mother of one of the children he's murdered, and a psychiatrist. The actors who play the Mother and the murderer have deservedly been nominated for Tonys ("Tonies" doesn't seem right). It uses a spare set with only chairs as props. Excellent lighting using blackouts between scenes. Highly recommended despite the difficult subject and I'll bet half price tix are available. At Circle in the Square, an intimate space despite it's size.
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adam-troy
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 09:34 pm:   

We were astonushingly lucky with ASSASSINS. Went to TKTS and got to the window just in time to buy the last two tickets. Front row Orchestra. In the spit zone. Couldn't have been better.
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ellen
Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 10:02 am:   

Wowie!! That IS lucky. I hate standing on the TKTS line. I usually get my discounts through The Theatre Development Fund, of which I've been a member since the early 70s when I was still a student.
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Mastadge
Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 11:41 am:   

So, has anyone seen TROY? What's the verdict?
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JeremyT
Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 12:13 pm:   

I saw TROY. The elf guy is annoying. Needed more stabby, less talky, imho.

I have a full(er) review here, starting third paragraph down.

Rotten Tomatoes has it just barely at a fresh rating though.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 01:28 pm:   

"Troy" is a third-rate "Gladiator." Lots of dull speeches with pumped up extras cheering, between battles. Boring. Peter O'Toole looks like he's trying to figure out which movie set he's on. Brad Pitt is mundane.
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Douglas M. Chapman
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 09:42 am:   

I think in Rodger Dodger it was Campbell Scott, not Campbell Black. George C. Scott's son.

Doug
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 09:50 am:   

Douglas, You're right--I had no idea he was George C. Scott's son...Presumably by Colleen Dewhurst?

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