Chicago; Seabiscuit; Bowling for Columbine; The Hunted

From That Guy Named David:

Chicago (B+)

This grade is the highest possible grade I can attribute to a musical based upon my inherent bias against musicals. So, it should reflect that I thought this one was very well done. Extremely creative writing, and I didn’t want to shoot myself very often when I saw Richard Gere singing. Both Catherine Zeta Jones and Rene Zellweger were tremendous, as was the supporting cast. Very enjoyable (even if it was a musical).

Seabiscuit (B-)

While the self-proclaimed Movie Queen and I have many agreements, I must disagree a bit with her review of this summer’s blockbuster “feel-good” movie. Maybe I had too high of expectations going into the movie, or maybe I ruined it by watching the Discovery Channel’s presentation of “The True Story of Seabiscuit,” but this movie just didn’t live up to the hype for me. I thought the ending was great (as I am a sucker for the Hoosiers/Natural/every other sports movie endings); however, for the first hour, I was not into the movie at all and thought it wasn’t well-developed. The acting by Chris Cooper and William Macy was splendid, as usual, but I still cannot understand the hype with Tobey Maguire. Overall, it was worth the watch, but I wish I hadn’t expected it to be better than it was.

Bowling for Columbine (B+)

I’ll admit being a big fan of Michael Moore ever since the first time I saw Roger & Me (which I still maintain rivals Hoop Dreams as the best documentary I have ever seen). In this documentary, Moore again showed why I am a fan. From the opening sequence showing Moore opening a bank account to get a free gun to when Charlton Heston walks out of their interview in a state of confusion as to what had just occurred, the mix of political statement with wit and humor and social awareness was well-done. I did think that Moore was a bit inconsistent at times in putting forth his message (ex. making a point to illustrate how poverty does not affect gun crimes and then immediately thereafter, telling the story of a “welfare to work” participate whose 6-year old unsupervised child shot and killed a classmate). That being said, someone needs to shine a spotlight on issues that most would like to turn a blind eye to, and if it takes the (albeit extreme) message of Michael Moore to do it to a degree, then so be it.

The Hunted (D-)

So, I make some mistakes every now and then. Who doesn’t? Thinking that an action movie with Tommy Lee Jones and Oscar winner, Benecio Del Toro might be worth the rent was a definitely a mistake. Not entertaining in the least. If you have seen The Fugitive or the other Fugitive, you’ve seen this Tommy Lee Jones character. And I can’t even begin to understand what kind of character Del Toro was playing in this movie. In order to save you the couple of hours in watching the movie, I’ll give you the quick synopsis: Del Toro is GI Joe; Del Toro becomes GI Joe gone crazy and begins killing people hunting him down (for reasons never explained); Jones (former training officer) begins to hunt down Del Toro (hence the name of the movie); Jones finds him; Knife fight; Death. I just saved you $3.00.

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Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines

From The Movie Snob.

Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines. (B-) I still think T2 had a very good, tight little ending that should have put an end to this franchise, and this movie did not satisfactorily explain it away. That said, this flick was more enjoyable than it had any right to be. I enjoyed the action sequences and laughed at some of the one-liners. Don’t take it seriously, and you just might enjoy it.

Islam: A Guide for Jews and Christians (book review)

A book review from the Movie Snob.

Islam: A Guide for Jews and Christians, by F.E. Peters (Princeton 2003). As an introduction to Islam for the totally non-initiated, this book was decent but not great. Peters’ accounts of pre-Islamic Arab civilization and the life and times of Muhammed are pretty good, as is his description of the Quran, but his account of Islam after Muhammed got a little confusing at times. Sentences like this one were killers:

“There was a considerable Ismaili apparatus in Iran, which, with schism and political impotence in Cairo, was taken over by the dai Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, who sometime before 1090 installed himself in the impregnable fortress of Alamut in Daylam, south of the Caspian Sea.”

Whaaaa?!?!

Open Range; Seabiscuit; Just Married

The Movie Queen makes a rare appearance at The Court:

Open Range. (A-) Wholesome, heart-felt western with Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner. It has beautiful scenery (enough to justify a trip to the theatre—don’t wait for a rental), a nice story, strong acting (even though Costner was in it) and a really cool dog. I mean, what else do you need to make a great movie. I really enjoyed this movie—even if the story wasn’t incredibly original. It worked!

Seabiscuit. (A-) A wonderful, empowering movie about a horse who brought an unlikely crew together and got them through their hard times. The movie was very well done with lots of historical references scattered throughout to really put the movie into perspective. The acting by Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper and Tobey Maguire was superb. I think it was just such a wonderful, true (you gotta love those) story that the movie made itself. In fact, it was so good that during the climax of the film and at the end, the entire theatre burst into applause. It is well worth a see. I am now reading the book!

Just Married. (D) Not surprising that this Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Murphy rental was a dud. I don’t even know what to say, except to say, don’t waste your $3 or your 2 1/2 hours.

I Capture the Castle

From The Movie Snob:

I Capture the Castle. (B+) Movie Man Mike aptly reviewed this movie a few days ago, so I will content myself with posting my grade and recommending this movie to anyone who likes romantic, coming-of-age type movies. The lead performance by Romola Garai is especially enjoyable, but Rose Byrne did a nice job too. The performances by the two leading men, unfortunately, were weak and wooden. Even Henry Thomas, of E.T., couldn’t seem to turn on his heartlight.

Dirty Pretty Things

Movie Man Mike send in this review:

Dirty Pretty Things

Ever heard the urban legend about the guy who went to a party, someone put something in his drink and the next thing he knew, he woke up in a bathtub full of ice and discovered that someone had removed his kidneys? This movie is reminiscent of the urban legend, except it’s about impoverished immigrants who are so desperate to remain in the UK, they are willing to sell their kidneys at the risk of death resulting from a lack of sterile operating procedures. The cast in this film is terrific. Although he does not receive top billing, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is the main character of this movie, playing a Nigerian Immigrant (Okwe) who just wants to keep his nose clean and survive. Okwe is eventually pulled into the midst of the dirty pretty secret in order to save a friend. Audrey Tautou (Amelie) is sweet and sympathetic as Okwe’s friend. Sergei Lopez plays a great bad guy and would make a great Andy Garcia stunt-double. This thriller gets a little gruesome and gritty in places, but the end is worth the trip. (B)

I Capture the Castle

A fresh review from Movie Man Mike:

I Capture the Castle

This is a wonderful film about love. Cassandra Mortmain (Romola Garai) and her sister Rose (Rose Byrne) are two adolescents who are part of a very eccentric and comical family living in England. Rose is determined to marry into wealth and escape the poverty in which her family lives. Cassandra is determined to help Rose realize her dream. Cassandra, however, has also pledged that she herself will never fall in love. When Rose and Cassandra meet two brothers who have been reunited and enriched by the death of their father, Rose and Cassandra hatch a plan to help Rose realize her dream. The events that follow are quite entertaining. The story and its characters provide a refreshing and touching look at the effects love can have on people and their relationships. Filmed on the Isle of Man in Wales, the scenery is captivating. The costumes for this 1930’s setting are also worthy of mention and, at times, whimsical. If you like independent films, you should see this one. (A-)