From That Guy Named David:
Lost in Translation (A). I hate to disagree with our friends Chris and Kara and with our guest reviewer, but this is one incredibly great movie. Maybe I’m a sucker for the “looking for all the answers” movies (even though I realize the actual “answers” are probably unattainable). Nonetheless, Bill Murray’s performance was incredible, and Scarlett Johansson was surprisingly good. For me, this movie struck a few chords and made me think about a lot of things that are occurring and have occurred in my life. Very impressive in all respects. Best movie I’ve seen this year (and yes, that includes Big Fish).
A new take on Lost in Translation from a guest reviewer (a doctor instead of a lawyer, for once) whose nom de plume is “The Movie Snob’s Ex”
Lost in Translation (D+)
I saw this movie Valentine’s Weekend with a few friends. Upon leaving the theater I wondered how I could have wasted $6 and two hours of my time on this movie! The movie begins with a scene of Scarlett Johansson’s behind, which should have been my first clue. The “plot” (if you want to say it had one) is the relationship of Bill Murray–a washed-up actor posing for whiskey ads in Tokyo and Scarlett Johansson–a young wife newly married to a photographer on a photo shoot. The two are involved in not-so-stellar marriages and are slowly drawn to each other. The obvious subject “lost in translation” is the language barrier between the Americans and the Japanese. The other is the fading emotional connection between the two stars and their spouses. BOORRING! Except for the scenes of Japan or, if you are of the male persuasion, the many scenes of Scarlett Johansson in her undies, there was not much to keep the viewer’s attention. The ending leaves a lot to be desired to say the least! I was not as generous as the Movie Snob, who gave this film a B.
From The Movie Snob:
Ghosts of the Abyss. (B) This is a 3D IMAX movie by James Cameron about his 2001 expedition to explore the remains of the Titanic. Actor Bill Paxton is along for the ride. On the downside, there’s way too much oohing and ahhing from Paxton, Cameron, and the rest of the crew, and the 3D effects are not generally all that impressive. But on the plus side, the film does afford some incredible visuals of the Titanic, slowly crumbling into its constituent elements at the bottom of the Atlantic, 2 1/2 miles down. And you get to hear some interesting factoids about what happened aboard the ship the night she sank. I thought I got my money’s worth.
From Mike the Movie Man:
Triplettes of Belleville (B+)
Do you like animated films? If so, then go see Triplettes. If you are looking for clever dialogue, then this is not the movie for you. This is a visual movie. The only notable dialogue is found in the music of the Belleville Triplettes, and it’s got a good beat to it. The animation is made to look like animation from Betty Boop’s day. The story is a captivating tale about an orphaned boy and his grandmother. The grandmother discovers the boy’s love of bicycles and appoints herself his trainer. Single-handedly, she turns the stumpy boy into a sinewy, big-calved machine for competition in the Tour de France. Along the way, the boy runs into an unexpected detour, and the boy and his grandmother eventually meet the Triplettes of Belleville who rescue them from their plight. This is a fun move and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend it.
Movie review from The Movie Snob:
The Fog of War. (B) The critics have been going crazy over this documentary. It is basically an extended interview with former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara (85 years old but still sharp), with lots of quick shots from his childhood, WWII, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War interspersed throughout. On the annoying side, the film is divided into 11 “lessons” that McNamara has supposed learned over the course of his life, and pretty much every lesson is a cliche to a greater or lesser degree. Ignore this artifice, though, and you have a pretty interesting movie about a guy who was a confidant of two presidents and had a ringside seat to American foreign policy in the 1960’s.
And a DVD review:
Secondhand Lions. (C+) This would-be family movie set back in the 50’s was a disappointment. Haley Joel Osment plays Walter, a lad whose unreliable single mother can’t take care of him. She drives him out into the middle of nowhere, Texas, and drops him off for the summer at the farm owned by his two eccentric great-uncles, played by Robert Duvall and Michael Caine. Rumor has it (among traveling salesmen and some other annoying relatives who keep dropping by) that the brothers have a huge stash of money hidden somewhere on the property, probably obtained by activities that were, at best, semi-legal. Gradually, Caine tells their story to Osment (and the story is illustrated on screen via flashback), and it’s supposed to be full of excitement, romance, and derring-do. Unfortunately, the movie falls strangely flat. For a much better movie with a somewhat similar theme, see Big Fish.
A book review from the Movie Snob:
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. If you are like me, you have probably never heard of Richard Yates. I had never heard of him until I read a book review of a new biography about him. The reviewer had a lot of good things to say about Yates’s writing, so I sought out this, his first novel, which was published in 1961. I was not disappointed, finding it exceedingly well-written. The novel is set circa 1955. Frank and April Wheeler are an attractive 30-ish married couple living in a Connecticut suburb of New York City with their two small children. Their marriage has curdled, and they feel trapped in a banal suburban existence unworthy of their (supposedly) superior intelligence and sophistication. Frank has a do-nothing middle-management job in the city that he purports to despise, and April apparently does next to nothing as a housewife. Can they break free of their spiritual malaise? Do they have the inner resources to do it? Find out, and enjoy some truly fine writing in the process.
From the Movie Snob:
21 Grams. (B-) An overripe melodrama with a twist: the director filmed a story about three strangers brought together by a single tragic event, chopped 2 hours of film into scenes of 1 to 3 minutes each, and then completely rearranged them. Thus, in one scene Sean Penn’s character is walking around perfectly fine, in the next he’s in a hospital bed stuck full of tubes, and in the next he’s staggering weakly around his house hooked up to an oxygen tank. The other two strangers are Naomi Watts, playing a happily married mother of two little girls, and Benicio del Toro as an ex-convict who has found Jesus and uses Him to subdue his darker impulses. To say more would be unfair to the viewer; suffice to say that I did not find this movie nearly as satisfying as many critics seemed to, and I found it difficult to tell whether Watts and del Toro really gave Oscar-caliber performances because the lack of chronology keeps you from growing along with the characters.