Starsky & Hutch

From the desk of The Movie Snob:

Starsky & Hutch (C). I can’t give this movie quite the strong recommendation that guest reviewer Fidan did a couple of weeks ago, but it definitely had some laughs. Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller have their laid-back-guy/uptight-guy shtick down to a science at this point, and several times during the movie it really clicks. These are counterbalanced, unfortunately, by several long boring stretches where there just isn’t anything happening. Like Fidan, I have never seen the TV show, so there may have been some hilarious references to the original that I just didn’t get.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (B-). I just can’t give this movie the big bear hug that View From Mars did. It was written by Charlie Kaufman, who also wrote the screenplays for Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, so some weirdness was to be expected. And I did like the premise: Jim Carrey, in deep angst over losing girlfriend Kate Winslet, discovers that bonny Kate has gone to this strange clinic called Lacuna, Inc. and availed herself of a procedure to completely erase him from his memory. So he decides to have her scrubbed out of his brain too. And that’s when things start to get really weird…. I think my biggest problem with the movie was the ending, which did not ring at all true to me. But it was an interesting ride getting there, with good performances by the whole cast. Maybe it’s more of a straight B. If you like movies that are a little twisted, it’s worth a look.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

**** SPOILER ALERT **** SPOILER ALERT ****

A guest review from a friend of That Guy Named David, who files this review under the sobriquet “View from Mars”:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (A-). I read this script about a year ago as everything Kaufman interests me. What I got from the script is more or less reinforced in the movie version, being that it is a unique and original relationship story with a twist. The mere mention of Charlie Kaufman being attached to anything pretty much goes without saying. The “unique and original” relationship is that between Joel and Clementine played perfectly by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. These two characters meet, they fall in love and experience the humanistic nature that every relationship endures…good times and bad times. The “twist” aspect to this plot comes in the form of a corporation that can erase bad memories from your mind i.e. deaths, broken and painful relationships, etc… Soon enough, we find Carrey’s Joel applying and later going through the mind erasure procedure. The majority of the movie then plays out in Joel’s head as his memories become nonexistent and we come to explore and understand Joel and Clementine’s relationship through a series of flashbacks, until Joel realizes he wants out. Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilkinson round out the supporting cast who each play an important part in the ensuing story. It’s hard to figure out how this movie will play out commercially and you don’t necessarily have to be a fan of Kaufman’s work to enjoy it. The acting by the two leads is perfect (although I do know some people who have a problem with Carrey as an actor if he’s not doing his usual screwball, slap-sticky comedy). That being said, the movie worked on various levels (acting, plot, the mind erasure gimmicks) and upon leaving the theatre I couldn’t help but recall that age-old quote “Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.”

The Passion of the Christ

A review from The Movie Snob:

The Passion of the Christ (A). I find this a very difficult movie to review – a sentiment not widely shared, to judge from the amount of ink that has been spilled about this film. A friend of mine described it as a Rorschach test, which I think is a very apt description. Most of the reviews I have read seem to reveal much more about the reviewer’s attitude towards the Gospel story and Christianity than about the artistic merits of the movie.

That being the case, I will first disclose that I am an orthodox, practicing Catholic. Thus, it will probably not surprise the reader that I was much impressed and moved by this movie. I have heard some critical sniping over points of historical accuracy, such as in regards to the languages used and the actors’ pronunciation. All I know is, this movie seemed entirely faithful to the Gospel narratives of the Passion as I remember them, and it brought those events to life with incredibly powerful immediacy. The violence is extremely graphic and bloody, but I believe it is indispensable to director Mel Gibson’s purpose, to bring the viewer into as close contact as possible with the sufferings of Christ. Although the scenes in which Jesus is beaten and tortured are all horrifying to watch, I found that I was most often moved to tears in the scenes when Gibson shows the effects of the events on His loved ones. It is almost unbearable to watch His mother Mary watch what is happening to Him, but the reactions of Peter, Mary Magdalene, and John are also incredibly poignant. There are several brief flashbacks to earlier episodes in Jesus’ life, and they are like oases in the desert, allowing the viewer to catch his breath before resuming the way of the cross. The flashbacks themselves are very well done, and I’ve heard several people say that they wish the movie had done a lot more with Jesus’ ministry before the Passion. I think that would have distracted from Gibson’s purpose for this movie, but I do find myself hoping that he will return to the subject and make another movie about the life of Christ. Ideally, Jim Cavaziel would reprise the role; I thought he showed Christ-like charisma and magnetism in the flashback scenes.

I would expect most Christians whose religion is of central importance to their lives to react to this movie much the way I did. For such people, the artistry of the movie is of secondary importance. Mainly, they want a movie whose artistry is devoted to making them forget that they are watching actors in a movie. I thought Gibson achieved this goal almost perfectly. A few quibbles – the treatment of Judas being hounded by demons after he betrays Christ was a little too Hollywood for my taste, and I wasn’t overly impressed with the device of the creepy androgynous Satan character that kept showing up. (Although, that said, I also thought the early encounter between Jesus and Satan in the Garden of Gethsemane was very effective.)

I did not find the movie anti-Semitic. Although most of the leading Jews, such as the chief priests and King Herod, do come off very badly, two leading Jews also attempt to object to the irregularity of Jesus’ trial. Also, most of the characters who show Jesus any compassion during the events portrayed are Jewish. Pontius Pilate, who has always seemed a very ambiguous character to me, is portrayed here as having some sympathy for Christ. But in the end, he condemns Christ because he thinks he has to in order to placate the mob and thereby save his own skin from the emperor’s wrath. Virtually all the Roman soldiers are sadistic brutes.

Going back to the Rorschach-test description of the movie, I have to say that I think much of the critical animosity towards this movie comes from critics whose real beef is with orthodox Christianity itself. Still, I would not recommend this movie to non-Christians or folks who are only nominally Christian. Although I think the movie is a great tool to provoke the already-converted to deeper reflection and meditation on the central events of Christianity, it is not designed to make believers out of non-believers. My guess is that most people who are not already pretty familiar with and open to the Gospel and Christian theology are going to see only a gruesome and repellent spectacle of apparently pointless suffering.

Starsky & Hutch

A guest review from Fidan K.

Starsky & Hutch (B)

As a child of the 80s, I am not familiar with the original Starsky and Hutch. Therefore, this review is based on the movie version and not how it compares to the original. Starsky and Hutch are two police officers partnered together to fight crime in their own special ways. The plot is weak, but the strong points of this movie are the actors. Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughan, and Snoop Dogg are all funny and play their parts perfectly. I laughed a lot during this movie and thoroughly enjoyed the performances of Stiller and Owens. I would only recommend this movie if you are fans of the actors or you are in need of a flashback to the 70s.

Dolphins

From The Movie Snob:

Dolphins (C+). I visited my parents this weekend, and I wanted to take them to a movie. This IMAX feature was the only one that presented itself as a feasible candidate. It was decent, much better than the last one we attended, the snoozefest Tropical Rainforest. This one was, as you’ve probably guessed, about dolphins. It was about what you’d expect — lots of footage of dolphins, some footage of scientists who are dolphin specialists, a warning about degradation of the dolphins’ environment. Pierce Brosnan takes time out from playing James Bond to provide an appropriately serious-and-concerned-sounding narration, while Sting’s cerebral musical stylings provide a lush sonic background. Plus, on Friday nights, you get a ticket, small popcorn, and coke for $5. Not a bad way to spend an hour and five bucks.

My Architect

From The Movie Snob:

My Architect (A-). This is an Oscar-nominated documentary about acclaimed 20th century architect Louis I. Kahn, among whose accomplishments are the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth and the capitol building of Bangladesh. Although his professional life was tumultuous enough, his personal life was even more so — he was married to one woman and had one daughter with her, but he also had two other children, each with a different mother. This documentary was made by Nathaniel Kahn, Louis’s youngest child and only son, who was 11 when Kahn died in 1974 at the age of 73. This movie is a heartfelt attempt by a man to understand the father he barely knew, as well as a very interesting look at the work of an influential artist. It starts to feel a little long (it’s about 2 hours), but I can’t think of anything that could have been cut without hurting the movie. Definitely check it out.