Bend It Like Beckham

And a new review from Elder Statesman John:

Bend It Like Beckham. (A-) This delightful movie combines two great and often-filmed themes: the generational conflict between parents and adolescent children, and the cultural conflict that occurs when immigrants’ traditional values run up against the values of the new milieu in which they find themselves. If the parents learn to let go of their children, and if the newcomers learn to embrace or at least accept the new (inevitably more individualistic) ethic of their adopted country, you can pretty well count on a happy ending. Failure to follow this course of action, by contrast, invariably leads to tragedy. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but this movie is no tragedy.

X2

A new review from That Guy Named David:

X2 (B-)

Although this movie has been aptly reviewed twice on this site, I’ll add my quick two cents. While I believe that the first X-Men had a better storyline than this one, the special effects in X2 made this worth the Saturday afternoon matinee price. Hugh Jackman’s character becomes much more developed in this sequel; however, like The Movie Snob, I thought that they could have done much more to develop some of the relationships between the characters (especially the love triangle between Wolverine, Jean Grey, and that dude with the laser eye). I was also a bit disappointed that Patrick Stewart didn’t play a much bigger role in this sequel, considering that he is arguably the most talented actor in the movie. That being said, much like the other blockbuster sequel that I’ve seen this summer, I walked away content but not blown away.

Matrix Reloaded; 25th Hour; Adaptation; Bend It Like Beckham

A passel of reviews from Maggie, The Movie Queen:

Matrix Reloaded. (B-) Even though I am usually not a huge fan of this kind of movie, I liked the first Matrix because of the special effects and this one for the same reason. The acting is definitely NOT stellar. I mean, God love Keanu, but he is truly terrible. He should stick with Bill & Ted’s level of movies. The acting would maybe have really ruined the movie and therefore forced it into the C category, but there is so much action and so little dialogue, that it wasn’t too painful to put up with Keanu. I did think it got a little long, but it was well worth the matinee price and well worth seeing it on the big screen where the special effects could be well-appreciated.

25th Hour. (C-) This is the Spike Lee movie with Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rosario Dawson and Barry Pepper. The movie follows Edward Norton, who plays a drug dealer during his last day before being sent to prison for 7 years. It was typical Spike Lee–very preachy! I felt like half of the movie should have just been him, standing on a soapbox, preaching his slightly messed up morality. I usually like Edward Norton and I did think he was good in it, but the story was poor, the plot boring and the whole thing was much too slow. Even Mr. Norton couldn’t save this one.

Adaptation. (B) This is the movie with Nicolas Cage (who was up for the Oscar for Best Actor), Meryl Streep (I can’t remember if she was up for this one) and Chris Cooper (who won Best Supporting Actor Oscar). It is about a screenwriter, Cage who is trying to “adapt” a book Meryl Streep wrote about Chris Cooper into a screen play. The characters were definitely colorful, although, pretty sad and the story was good. However, I really felt like it fell apart at the end and went down a road that it just couldn’t recover from. I love Nick Cage, I mean the man was H.I. for God’s sake, so maybe I can’t be rational, but I thought he was exceptional in this movie. He played himself and his twin and did it very well. I was impressed—he has definitely learned a little bit since Raising Arizona, although he will never be as endearing as he was in that, the “mother of all movies.”

Bend it Like Beckham. (B) Girl-power movie about an Indian girl and her English friend who are passionate about playing football (that’s soccer for us Yanks). They both have to deal with unsupportive parents and some ridicule from other girls and boys, but who still struggle to keep playing and dream of going to America to play professionally. There is, of course, a little romance mixed in, just in case the fact that it is a total girl movie (in the same spirit of Blue Crush, but worlds above) hasn’t totally roped in all the potential female audience members. It was cute—sort of a cross between My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Blue Crush. Maybe worth a rental, especially if you girls have a night to yourselves or if the boys are really trying to impress a date!! (David, take note…aren’t you always in the market for a little dating advice?)

Okay, that is all from the Queen. I think that these new additions will help to secure my first place title. And, just in case you were wondering…The Queen is definitely back in business—no more of this motherhood thing distracting me from my true calling!!

The Girl From Paris

Another one from The Snob:

The Girl From Paris. (B) This is a French import about a 30ish woman who first quits her computer-related job in Paris to study agriculture and then buys a goat farm in the Rhone-Alps. The catch is that the crotchety old widower who previously owned the farm can’t move into his new place for another 18 months, so he stays on in his little cottage, skeptically watching the newcomer try to make a go of farming. Gradually, she and he get to know and appreciate each other. Not a lot happens over the course of the movie, but it is a pleasant little tale with nice visuals of the farm and surrounding land, and I was happy to go along for the ride.

Bruce Almighty

From The Movie Snob:

Bruce Almighty. (C+) No one will be surprised to learn that The Movie Snob is not a Jim Carrey fan. But this movie’s premise sounded promising. Carrey plays an average guy who complains loudly and often about how God is running the world when things aren’t going his way. Soon enough, God responds to the complaints by letting Carrey run things for a while. But the Hollywood sausage-grinder generally reduces this interesting concept to a series of sight gags and cliched epiphanies. Parts were amusing enough, but overall this flick was nothing special. Maybe Carrey had only one The Truman Show in him.  Also features Jennifer Aniston.

X2; Young Frankenstein

Reviews from The Movie Snob:

X2: X-Men United. (B-) This critic must take some X-ception to the earlier review posted on The Movie Court by Movie Man Mike. I liked the first X-Men movie and rather expected to like this one even more. But alas, I found this one a bit too long and somehow insufficiently involving. There’s plenty of action, but even at a hefty 135 minutes the movie can’t seem to find the time to develop the relationships between otherwise interesting and likeable characters. The nascent love triangle involving Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Cyclops, and Jean Grey is given scant screen time, as is Rogue’s apparent crush on Wolverine, and it is a shame Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan share only a few moments of screen time together. And what is the deal with blockbuster action movies having to have like five false endings before the real ending finally arrives? I guess it’s supposed to be suspenseful, but it’s just annoying.

Young Frankenstein. (B) I learned two things by finally seeing this 30-year-old flick on DVD: (1) Mel Brooks is capable of making a funny movie, and (2) Teri Garr was once very good-looking. Plot summary is probably pointless, but Gene Wilder plays Frederick von Frankenstein, a successful neurosurgeon in America who inherits his grandfather’s estate in Transylvania. Before long, he is “resurrecting” the family business with the help of Igor, played by the amazingly bug-eyed Marty Feldman, with humorous consequences. Having loathed Blazing Saddles and Spaceballs, I watched this DVD with some trepidation but found it quite entertaining.

The Moviegoer (book review)

A book review from The Movie Snob:

The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy. If ever a book title cried out for a review on this blog, The Moviegoer, winner of the 1962 National Book Award, is obviously it. The novel is set in New Orleans during roughly a week around Mardi Gras time. The protagonist is Jack “Binx” Bolling, a young investment broker on the verge of his 30th birthday. If he ever had a sense of purpose in life, he lost it some time ago, and now he simply drifts, trying to keep his ennui at bay by the expedients of moviegoing and conducting affairs with his secretaries. Yet even he cannot help but be touched by feeling for some of the people around him — his wheelchair-bound and sickly half-brother Lonnie, and his even more malaise-stricken step-cousin Kate. A lot of people really love this book, as the reviews on Amazon.com indicate, and I liked it very much even though I am not particularly susceptible to the postmodern despair described so well in the book.

Matrix Reloaded

A review from That Guy Named David:

Matrix Reloaded (B-)

This movie was a tough one in which to assign a grade because it does not have an ending (it merely leads into the 3rd Matrix coming out in the winter). That being said, if you come into the movie with the expectation of seeing a can of whoop-ass being opened on a lot of guys in suits, you’ll walk away happy. If you expect an Oscar-winning performance from Keanu Reeves and supporting cast, you might be a bit disappointed. I must admit being a fan of the first Matrix because, in addition to the amazing special effects, the movie lacked the predictability that is the staple of most movies these days. Reloaded, however, while also lacking predictability, did tend to borrow heavily from the same storyline as the first Matrix (however, the special effects were even better in the second edition). One major annoyance to this reviewer, though, was the weak attempt to make the movie into some sort of Sartrean dissertation on the “power of choice” in shaping one’s life (both inside the Matrix and out). A little too deep for Keanu to pull off, but like I said, the kicking of some serious tail was pretty impressive and salvaged the movie.

Arthur

Back to the Eighties…

This weekend The Movie Snob decided to check out that early 80’s classic Arthur, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. A helpful fellow customer at Blockbuster Video even encouraged the Snob to rent this piece of cinematic history. Well, maybe tastes have just changed in the 22 years since this movie came out, but in any event this was a truly horrible movie experience. Moore plays the title character, a completely spoiled heir to some massive fortune who apparently spends all his time getting drunk and making a fool of himself by finding dates on street corners and taking them to fancy restaurants. Just as his crusty father turns the screws on Moore to marry an equally wealthy woman (who is inexplicably willing to marry this buffoon), he meets the Minnelli character while she is shoplifting a tie. Will he marry for money? Will he abandon his fortune to follow his heart? Will he ever stop making that terribly abrasive laugh he feigns when he is supposedly drunk? Favorite part of the movie: the closing credits. Grade: F.

Unfaithful

From The Movie Snob:

Unfaithful. For once, I am stumped trying to give a movie a grade. You are probably familiar with the basic plot. Diane Lane is married to Richard Gere, a mild-mannered and decent sort of guy. They have an 8-year-old son and a nice house in the ‘burbs. Then, Diane has a chance meeting in New York City with a good-looking young Frenchman, who’s a rare-book dealer with an apartment full of books and sculpture. Before you know it, they’re involved in a torrid affair despite the lack of any evidence of any reasons Diane might be unhappy with her marriage or her life. On the one hand, the performances are good, and the story is well-told. On the other, it is hard, if not impossible, to sympathize with the main character and her complete selfishness. That’s about all I can tell you about it. You were warned.

Anger Management

From the desk of The Movie Snob:

Anger Management. (C+)

Yes, Gentle Reader, you are undoubtedly rubbing your eyes in disbelief, wondering why The Movie Snob subjected himself to a mainstream film–an Adam Sandler film, even–like Anger Management. The reason is that he was out with friends who wanted to see it, and there was no ready alternative with which to turn them aside from their desired course of action. Anyhoo, I actually laughed out loud several times, which means I enjoyed it more than I expected to. Sure, there was lots of annoying, crass humor involving sex and body parts and mental illness and such, but still, I was sporadically amused, which has to be worth something in this day of painfully unfunny “comedies.” Bottom line: I’m not saying that you should see this movie voluntarily, but if you have to see it for some reason, don’t feel too bad.  Jack Nicholson (Chinatown) co-stars.

Red Dragon

A movie review by guest reviewer, Carrie P.:

Red Dragon (B)

The prequel to Silence of the Lambs is an interesting movie. Less about Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) than about protagonist Will Graham (Ed Norton) and serial killer “Mr. D a/k/a the Tooth Fairy” (Ralph Fiennes). Its not the Oscar worthy contender that Silence was, however, it was very entertaining, albeit with a somewhat predictable ending that leads to an attack on Norton’s family. It is definitely better than the Silence sequel Hannibal, which I found to be sophomoric and almost as bad as a teen horror flick. Check out Red Dragon on DVD – without the kids, of course.

Catch Me If You Can

A new review from That Guy Named David:

Catch Me If You Can (C+)

I don’t know if the low grade stems from the fact that I had reasonably high expectations that weren’t met, I still can’t watch Leonardo DiCaprio without wanting to vomit because of Titanic (his career went downhill after Growing Pains and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), or I want to put a bullet in the back of my head every time I hear Tom Hanks mutilate an accent (he’s right up there with Kevin Costner in that department). The movie was alright, but I wasn’t overly impressed with any aspect of it. Christopher Walken’s performance was good, but I think that it was merely accentuated because you were forced to watch DiCaprio and Hanks through the rest of the movie. I found it interesting that it was based upon a true story (and this also made me take notice of the monotony of my daily existence); however, it just didn’t do it for me.

Confidence; xx/xy

Reviews by the Movie Snob:

Confidence. (B-) At the outset, I have to state that I am not a fan of the con-artist/scam/caper genre. I have never seen The Sting, and I was unimpressed with The Grifters. I thought the recent remake of Ocean’s Eleven was boring. So, take this review cum grano salis. I actually thought it was pretty good, with its impressive cast of Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman, and Andy Garcia. I didn’t get too confused about what the scam was all about, as is sometimes a problem for a slow-witted guy like me, and the number of plot twists and switchbacks was reasonable. Burns’s lead character was enjoyably cool, and Hoffman was great as a sleazy underworld kingpin. If you like con-racket movies in general, I think you would like this one quite a bit.

xx/xy. (B+) On the other hand, I am a fan of relationship movies, and I thought this little art-house flick was a good one. The beginning of this movie is set at Sarah Lawrence College in 1993. Mark Ruffalo, who was so good in You Can Count on Me, plays a character named Coles Burroughs who is apparently a film student at the school. He’s an amiable but dreadfully immature fellow possessed of some bohemian charm. He hooks up with a winsome girl named Sam, and the two of them pal around a lot with Sam’s roommate Thea. The Coles-Sam relationship goes south, and the movie flashes forward ten years when the three are unexpectedly reunited. Sparks begin to fly between Coles and Sam again, which is a problem given that Coles now lives with Claire, his girlfriend of some five years. I thought the movie handled the story realistically and that the performances were quite good. Check it out on video sometime, since its theatrical run is probably about over.

X2

New review from Movie Man Mike:

X2? Xcellent! This sequel is the Xception to the general rule that sequels are never quite as good as the original. The original movie spent Xcessive footage introducing the characters and the concept. The sequel Xpands on the original concept, and introduces three new, promising characters, Nightcrawler, Pyro and Iceman. Ian McKellan is Xcellent as Magneto. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is finally able to Xtricate the ghosts of his dark past. The special effects are Xtraordinary! X2 is about 30 minutes longer than the original, but it leaves you salivating for X3 (or will it be XXX?)

Titanic (the musical)

Stage review from The Movie Snob

Last night I saw a production of the musical Titanic, which apparently won a Tony award back when it came out in the mid 90’s. I thought it was a cut above the average musical, with engaging characters and enjoyable songs. Obviously there’s not a lot of suspense about what is going to happen, and the scale of the tragedy will always make it easy to generate pathos in its telling. The play focuses on a handful of characters from the groups of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class passengers as well as the ship’s crew, its captain, its builder, and its owner, and it deftly sketches out their various personalities. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The New World of Faith (book review)

A book review from the Snob.

The New World of Faith by Avery Dulles. For a definitive statement of Roman Catholic beliefs, you can turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a Bible-sized volume that was published early in Pope John Paul II’s pontificate. It is both monumental and useful, but it is not something many people will ever sit down and read for pleasure. For a shorter, more accessible statement of orthodox Catholic beliefs, written with the thoughtful, questioning everyman in mind, you could not do much better than this little book. Cardinal Dulles is undoubtedly one of America’s finest living Catholic theologians, and this is a fine example of his work.

Shanghai Knights

New from The Movie Snob

Shanghai Knights. (D) It’s never good when you see a movie at a dollar theater and feel like you didn’t get your money’s worth. That happened to me last night. Although I don’t really remember Shanghai Noon very well, I distinctly remember liking it and thinking that it was a cut or two above the average comedy on offer from Hollywood. I didn’t expect the sequel to be as good, but it turned out to be a disappointment despite my low expectations. Maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety, but Knights resorted to vulgarity and crudity for laughs way too often for my tastes.

P.S. Trivia–The actress who played Queen Victoria in this movie also appeared in what recent Renee Zellweger film?

Identity

A movie review by Nick at Nite:

Identity. Are you a big fan of John Cusack (High Fidelity)? Do you love Say Anything? Do you think Grosse Point Blank is a riot? Have you ever found yourself saying, “I want my two dollars?” If so, you will be pleasantly surprised by the movie Identity. John Cusak stretches from his mold as a different, geeky, funny guy into a different, geeky, funny guy with an edge. This movie is very good. I don’t want to spoil the plot line. It will surprise you. You will think you have it figured out more than one time only to realize you don’t. Warning, do not see this movie if you are looking for something funny.