The Emperor’s New Groove

Review from The Movie Snob

The Emperor’s New Groove. (B-) I’ll admit it, I’ve been a fan of Disney movies since childhood. Not that I see every one that comes out; Pocahontas, Mulan, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame all eluded me. But I’ve seen several since the renaissance began with The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast are great favorites of mine.  Groove definitely belongs in the category of minor Disney, like Hercules, but it is fine for what it is–a good children’s movie, without the winking adult jokes of Aladdin or darker storyline and superior music of Beauty. It’s far better than the torturous Disney movie about Atlantis, and it probably comes close to equalling the recent and unfairly overlooked Treasure Planet. When you have an extra hour and fifteen minutes to kill, borrow the DVD from a friend who has small children, like I did.

Welcome to Collinwood

A review from That Guy Named David:

Welcome to Collinwood

Grade C+

This movie was produced by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney, stars William Macy (Fargo), Sam Rockwell (The Green Mile; Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), Luis Guzman (Boogie Nights), and a host of other exceptional character actors (with Clooney also making brief cameos), so my thought was that the movie would be a bit off-the-wall, witty, well-acted, and provide a couple of hours of entertainment. I was wrong. The plot revolves around a group of hapless thieves who find out about a “can’t miss” break-in at a jewelry store. As to be expected, however, the job turns out to be much more difficult than expected and,… well,… you see where this is all heading. The acting was impressive, but the story was weak. Highlights of the movie were the performances put in by Macy and Rockwell. However, the storyline developed into predictable, unnecessarily slapstick humor that left me thinking that they wasted an opportunity to utilize some of the great talent that was assembled for the movie.

The Man from Elysian Fields

A review from Movie Queen Maggie:

The Man from Elysian Fields. (B+) Film with Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies and Mick Jagger about a struggling writer who becomes a male escort in order to support his family. I knew nothing about this movie until I watched it and was pleasantly surprised. I always like Andy Garcia, and he was no different in this one. Julianna has been a favorite since she was Hathaway on ER, so I was pleased to see her in a good film. I didn’t know what to expect from Mick, but he was actually a really good pimp! It was an interesting story, well acted by strong characters and it handled a potentially raunchy topic very tastefully. It was certainly worth the rental fee!

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

New review from The Movie Snob

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. (C) This is a French import starring Audrey Tautou, who became famous in America in the movie Amelie. I don’t think I can say anything about the plot without depriving the viewer of some of the pleasure of watching the movie, so I won’t say anything about it. It’s not a bad movie, but I think I would have enjoyed it more had I not read any reviews in advance of seeing it.

The Emperor’s Handbook (aka Meditations by Marcus Aurelius)

A book review from The Movie Snob:

I had always wanted to read the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and a brand-new translation by C. Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks, titled “The Emperor’s Handbook,” was the catalyst that finally got me to do it. It is a slender volume, and the translation very readable, so it’s not a difficult read. I found it very interesting, although there is a substantial amount of repetition of the key points of Marcus Aurelius’s Stoic philosophy. One dominant theme, for example, is the effort to overcome the fear of death through the use of reason, which the Emperor visits over and over again. The importance of living according to reason rather than the passions or appetites, and in harmony with nature, is another. In fact, those two themes struck me as the overriding themes of the whole work. In all, I quite enjoyed this window into an ancient and not-yet-forgotten school of thought.

The Godfather III; The Pianist

Movie Reviews from Elder Stateman John:

The Godfather III. (A) Very good film. Excellent cinematography. Al Pacino is incredibly good as the aging, beleagured gangster philanthropist. Andy Garcia is also excellent as the up-and-coming big timer. The entire cast is excellent in fact, save and except for Sophia Coppola as the daughter of Michael and Kate Corleone. Her screen time is not as large as I had remembered so it’s not too distracting. That said, it’s the one character in the movie that isn’t believable. As Andy Garcia’s quasi-love interest, it is unclear why he’s so attracted to her–i.e. no real charisma/personality. It detracts from what is otherwise an excellent film. It was nominated for an Academy Award–had they cast Winona Ryder instead of Sophia (as originally planned) it could have possibly won the award. Still very much worth the watch.

The Pianist. (A) Another extremely compelling film, this one about a piano player and his family’s attempts to endure and survive the Nazi invasion of Poland. Evidently based on a true story–an autobiography written by the pianist. Well-acted and never dull in spite of a couple of long periods of relatively no interaction among characters. There was less music in the movie than I anticipated. While it is relatively easy to generate emotion when contrasting the cruelties imposed by the Germans in WW II with the perserverance and hope demonstrated by those subjugated to that cruelty, I thought that the director used excellent restraint when depicting that contrast. It is worthy of an Academy Award nomination. Adrien Brody is excellent and Roman Polanski’s directing is also Oscar nominee worthy.

The Quiet American; The Breakfast Club

Reviews from the Movie Snob:

The Quiet American. (B+) This movie starts at the end, in the vein of Sunset Boulevard, with a dead man floating in the water. Suspense removed, the point is not so much the destination as the ride, and the movie delivers handsomely. Set in 1952 Vietnam, then French Indo-China, the protagonist is a jaded British journalist, Thomas Fowler, who has abandoned human feeling for anything except his young Vietnamese mistress. Then an eager young American medical-aid worker, Adam Pyle, makes Fowler’s acquaintance and begins to upset his opium-enhanced lassitude. Michael Caine turns in a very good performance as Fowler, and the humid lushness of Vietnam is well-conveyed by the filmmakers. Warmly recommended.

The Breakfast Club. (C) With very little hope, I turned to the next artifact in my ongoing exploration of the 80’s. Perhaps because my expectations were so low, I was pleasantly surprised by this tale of five high-school archetypes stuck together in detention on a Saturday. Don’t get me wrong. There is plenty of ludicrous dialogue, and Judd Nelson’s juvenile delinquent is laughably tame, and Ally Sheedy’s transformation from proto-goth basket case to cutesy bowhead (not to mention her attraction to jock Emilio Estevez) comes unbelievably out of nowhere in the last ten minutes of the movie. Still, on the whole this was a much more entertaining effort than the last John Hughes product I gagged down, Sixteen Candles.