Video review from The Movie Snob:
The Third Miracle. (C+) This movie is interesting for its level-headed look at Catholicism, without any sensationalism or demonizing. Ed Harris is Father Frank Shore, a priest in 1979 Chicago who is plagued with doubt. The source of his angst appears to be an episode some time before this movie begins when he investigated the life of a possible candidate for sainthood, a beloved local priest, and discovered some ugly facts that pretty much took the candidate out of the running. Despite his doubts, Fr. Shore answers his bishop’s request to investigate another possible case, that of a pious immigrant woman who is supposedly responsible for a miraculous cure of a girl with terminal lupus. The bulk of movie follows Fr. Shore’s investigation of the miracle and research into the life of the deceased woman, Helen O’Regan. Along the way he finds himself tempted by the attentions of Helen’s hippie-ish daughter Roxane, played by Anne Heche, and he butts heads with the crusty German archbishop who comes to Chicago to act as the so-called “devil’s advocate” opposed to Helen’s cause. Not a great film, but not bad either.
Video review from The Movie Snob.
The Road Home. (B) This is a Chinese movie from a couple of years ago, and it tells two stories at once. In the present day, a youngish man approaching middle age returns to the mountain village of his childhood to bury his schoolteacher father, who has passed away suddenly. He died away from home, at a provincial hospital, and his widow insists that his body must be carried back to the village by hand, so that his spirit can find its way home. Most of the movie, however, is a flashback to 1958, when the widow was a beautiful 18-year-old village girl, and the man who would become her husband was a freshly graduated 20-year-old schoolteacher who took the job as village schoolteacher because there was no work for him. It was love at first sight, but tradition and political difficulties conspired, for a time, to keep them apart. Given the way the film is constructed, there can be no real surprises, and the absence of overt displays of affection set this movie far apart from modern American romances. As my cousin Diane aptly described it, this movie is lovely and quaint.
That Guy Named David chimes in —
The Pianist (A+)
Not to challenge the great Movie Snob or anything, but I also saw this movie this weekend and will add my two cents. I actually rented both The Pianist and Old School (figured I would vary things up a little bit), but I never got around to Old School after enduring the 2 1/2 hours of this epic drama. Incredibly vivid portrayal of the senseless brutality that existed in the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII. Adrien Brody was well-deserving of his Oscar in portraying a Polish Jew who did anything in his power to survive this horrific period in history. I thought that the movie started off a little slow, but then as it progressed, my opinion changed as I could see the way that Polanski was building the movie up to a crescendo (much like the music at the heart of the movie). Incredible movie. A must see.
From The Movie Snob:
L’Auberge Espagnole. (B) Xavier is a French economics student who needs some direction. He signs up for the Erasmus exchange program and heads off to Barcelona for a year, leaving his girlfriend (Audrey Tautou of Amelie fame) behind in Paris. At first he stays in the apartment of a French couple he happens to meet at the airport, an arrogant neurologist and his gorgeous wallflower wife. Then he finds an apartment with five (eventually six) other young people, each from a different country, and the movie is largely about their multicultural friendships and romances. Except for the film’s troublingly casual treatment of an adulterous affair (what do “sophisticated” Europeans think about us poor Americans when they see a searing depiction like Unfaithful?), this is an enjoyable entertainment.
From The Movie Snob
Down With Love. (D+) I’m a fan of romantic comedy, but I did not like this movie. Indeed, I found it neither romantic nor humorous. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be; I have never seen any of the 1960’s movies with the likes of Doris Day and Rock Hudson that it supposedly spoofs or parodies or whatever it does to them. The basic premise of the movie was not bad (attractive woman writes best-selling women’s-lib book; attractive cad-about-town sets out to destroy her credibility by making her fall in love with him), but I thought the characters said and did too many things that were unbelievable, even downright bizarre. Which is too bad, because I like Renee Zellweger and have nothing against Ewan MacGregor.
The Pianist. (A) Although this film recently came out on DVD, it is still playing on the big screen at one of our arthouse theaters, and I decided to bite the bullet and see it. I tend to value movies primarily for light escapism, so I generally avoid movies that promise to be hugely depressing, whatever their artistic merits. But not always, and today was the day for The Pianist. It is an engrossing movie about one family, and in particular one member of that family, facing the Holocaust in Warsaw, Poland, and Adrien Brody did indeed give a terrific performance. It’s a 2-and-a-half-hour emotional beating, but a cathartic one. I recommend it.
From The Movie Queen:
A Guy Thing. (D-) God-awful. I thought it would be a cute romantic comedy, but it wasn’t. It was worse than stupid, it was boring. I found myself fast-forwarding through parts so I could get to the end faster. I may have been tempted to walk out had I seen it in the theater. YUCK! Not worth my time or the $3 rental fee.
The Truth About Charlie. (C-) Remake of the old movie Charade. It starred Tim Robbins, Mark Wahlberg (aka Markie Mark of New Kids on the Block fame) and Thandie Newton. It was a pretty poor suspense thriller with so many silly twists and turns that you really didn’t care what the truth was about Charlie. The characters were flat, the acting poor and the overall story pretty weak. I wouldn’t recommend it.
The Recruit. (B) I was pleasantly surprised by this Al Pacino-Colin Farrell thriller. It was entertaining albeit a little predictable. I enjoyed it, maybe even worth seeing in the theaters and definitely worth a rental.
A review from That Guy Named David:
Die Another Day (D+)
In another attempt to out-do the last overdone Bond flick, Die Another Day merely accomplishes more of the same (which, in essence is not a whole lot of anything). Of course, you still have the same cool gadgets (this one features an invisible car), the sexy Bond girl (Halle Berry fills this role quite nicely), the sex-laced double entendres, and plenty of explosions and dead bad guys. What the movie lacks, however, is any continuity, and the main storyline is a bit far-fetched, even for Bond. Maybe I’m just too much of a fan of the old school, Goldfinger-esque Bond movies to enjoy these new ones. Maybe it’s a sign that I am getting old. Whatever it is, though, made me think that this movie was not worthy of taking up the 2 hours or so of my life that I will never get back.
From The Movie Snob:
Finding Nemo. (B) This was a perfectly enjoyable little movie about a timid little clownfish (voice by Albert Brooks) who sets out on a dangerous quest to rescue his son Nemo after Nemo is caught by a scuba diver. He teams up with a goofy little fish named Dorrie (voice by Ellen DeGeneres) who suffers from the same sort of short-term amnesia that that guy had in Memento. The animation is great as the intrepid pair encounter all sorts of marine life during their cross-ocean odyssey. I just didn’t think this movie reached the dizzying heights of Pixar’s previous efforts, like Toy Story and Monsters, Inc., so I give it a more moderate grade.
An impromptu guest review by Mary R.
Down With Love. I thought it was quite clever! It takes place completely in the 60’s and attempts to use many of the 60’s movie themes, music, etc. The storyline is not what I would call “erudite,” but give me a break- it’s entertainment! I would see it again, if simply to try and catch all that there is to SEE in the movie. If you are a fan at all of the old Cary Grant-Loretta Young-Doris Day movies, you will get a kick out of the whole idea. And the story line starts off as being very cliche – and then takes a surprising turn (to ultimately become perhaps even more cliche? I don’t know). Anyway, I didn’t know that it was receiving bad reviews – what did they say? Susan N. and I saw it together and we both liked it a lot. I would recommend it for light humor and a very creative style.
From The Movie Snob:
The Shape of Things. (B-) Although this film is about dating and relationships, it is not a “date movie.” The director is well-known for making misanthropic movies, and this one is no sunshiny portrayal of human nature. Nerdy, slobby English student Adam (Paul Rudd) meets quirky, free-spirited art student Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), and for some reason she agrees to go out with him. Next thing you know, she is starting to make him over–new haircut, new wardrobe, contacts, etc. She also starts to come between him and his best friends, Phil and Jenny. Further complicating matters, although Jenny (the fetching Gretchen Mol) is (unhappily) engaged to the boorish Phil, she has been not-very-secretly nursing a crush on clueless Adam for a long time, and the newly-remade Adam may be too much for her to resist. Honesty is in for a rough road in this film, and manipulation is the order of the day. You were warned!