The American President

A DVD review from the Movie Snob:

The American President. (F) I could never bring myself to spend money to see this 1995 Rob Reiner film, but when That Guy Named David bought the DVD I went ahead and borrowed it from him to see if it had any entertainment value at all. The answer turned out to be no, it is a 115-minute political advertisement. In the movie, a left-of-center president is three years into his first term and struggling to come up with some sort of legislative achievement to build up some momentum going into an election year. Did I mention this movie was released in 1995? Anyway, I went into the movie fully resigned that the tale would be told from a political perspective I do not share, but I had some hope that at least the relationship aspect of the story would be worth watching. Personally, I found that side of the movie as stilted and painful as the infamous “romantic” scenes from Star Wars Episode II. In short, watching this movie was a nearly complete waste of time, although it was interesting to see that Martin Sheen was a Democratic president’s chief of staff before he ascended to the Oval Office himself on TV’s The Left Wing. I was also surprised to see a brief appearance by Taylor Nichols, who appeared in all three movies by my favorite director, Whit Stillman. Conclusion: I am glad I never spent money to see this movie.

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Best of SNL: WIll Ferrell

A DVD review from That Guy Named David:

Best of SNL: Will Ferrell (A)

Granted, this is not a movie, but because I bought and watched it last night (and because The Movie Snob has become quite a pain in the butt regarding the lack of participation on this site), I decided to post a quick review. One word to describe this DVD: hilarious. Maybe it appeals to the perpetual teenager in me, but I cannot help but laugh out loud at almost every single one of Will Ferrell’s skits. From his Harry Carey impression to Dubya to everything else that he played while at SNL, the couple of hours worth of skits and extras is definitely worth your time (especially after a stressful day of being trampled upon by unappreciative shareholders; but I digress). Seriously, this DVD is very very entertaining and had me laughing throughout.

thirteen

A review from the Movie Snob:

thirteen. (B) This is a gritty independent flick about a thirteen-year-old girl’s rapid descent from wholesome innocence into a lifestyle of larceny, alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity. The immediate catalyst for her transformation is her new friend Evie, a bad girl whose badness makes her one of the most popular girls in school. But the film strongly suggests that background factors are at work as well–the protagonist (played by Evan Rachel Wood) lives with her divorced mother (played by Holly Hunter) who is in AA, has a no-good boyfriend, and can barely keep her act together. The protagonist’s father seems well-meaning but has problems of his own that keep him away most of the time. A few critics have dismissed this movie as an overwrought TV movie-of-the-week, but I thought it was well done. Remarkably, the actress who plays Evie co-wrote the screenplay, apparently drawing on some personal experiences.

Intolerable Cruelty; Mamma Mia! (stage review)

From the Movie Snob.

Intolerable Cruelty. (B) The Coen brothers’ film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is one of my all-time favorite movies. I did not have such high expectations for this comedy about divorce, but I was pleasantly surprised. From the amusing opening credits, the film had no trouble keeping my interest. George Clooney is Miles Massey, a star divorce attorney in L.A. and creator of the “impenetrable” Massey pre-nuptial agreement. Near the beginning of the movie, he represents a philandering husband against his aggrieved wife Marilyn, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, and he completely defeats her effort to take her husband for millions. But Massey is captivated by the incredibly beautiful Marilyn, and sparks fly when their paths cross a couple more times over the course of the film. There are plenty of humorous moments and a few typically Coenesque grotesqueries (like the living fossil of a lawyer who apparently lives in the basement of Massey’s law firm). And did I mention how insanely beautiful Zeta-Jones is in this movie? Check it out.

Mamma Mia. As an anniversary present, I took my parents to see this traveling production of the musical based on the songs of the Swedish pop group ABBA. I think they enjoyed it, but I was disappointed. For one, the music was way too loud, painfully so, and it frequently drowned out the singers. The light and playful sound of ABBA was never in evidence. For another, the play was rather crass and vulgar in parts. For a third, the songs were not integrated into the storyline in any coherent or compelling way. The paper-thin plot is merely an excuse for overblown versions of 25-year-old songs that lots of people (including me) still like today. Personally, I’d rather see and hear a competent ABBA cover band than sit through this production again.

School of Rock

From the Movie Snob.

School of Rock. (A-) The potential for disaster was substantial. Would Jack Black take the edge off his obnoxious, rock-and-roll-obsessed, High Fidelity persona in a quest for greater mainstream appeal? Would the preppy kids at the hoity-toity school where Jack Black fakes his way into a substitute-teacher job turn in unbearably cutesy or cloying performances? Would the ending flame out in a saccharine display of new-found maturity (for Black) and liberation (for the kids)? The answer to all these questions, for the most part, is no. The potty-mouth and the sex-and-drugs aspect of rock and roll are undeniably tamed down, but the movie avoids all major pitfalls and had me laughing out loud throughout. Go see it.

Sunset Boulevard

DVD review from the Snob.

Sunset Boulevard. (B+) I saw the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in London a few years ago, but I had never seen the 1950 film version. When I watched it on DVD the other night, I was amazed at how exactly Webber duplicated the movie in his musical. If there was a scene in the movie that wasn’t in the musical, I missed it. Anyhow, the movie was very good, and the dialogue really crackles in places (especially towards the beginning). The protagonist is a cynical, down-on-his-luck screenwriter who accidentally comes into the orbit of Norma Desmond, an aging former star of silent film, now living the life of a recluse in her ramshackle Hollywood mansion, eternally plotting the comeback that will never happen. Dramatic consequences ensue. Check it out.

The Matrix Reloaded

From the Movie Snob:

The Matrix Reloaded. (B) I just got around to seeing this flick barely ahead of the release of the last movie in the trilogy. I saw the IMAX version, and I have to say it was a lot of fun. The action sequences were so huge and so over the top that I was amused as well as enthralled. As has been well-reported, the movie contains loads of talky scenes and opaque philosophy, but I found that I enjoyed that too if I just ignored what the characters were saying and focused on the panache with which they were saying them. Finally, I’ll mention that the lovely Monica Bellucci isn’t given a whole lot to do as the mysterious Persephone, but, as my fellow moviegoer Aimee observed afterwards, her IMAX-sized attributes leave an indelible impression. I’m definitely going to look for Revolutions at the IMAX as well.