Sabrina (1954); A Short History of Ethics (book review)

A DVD review from The Movie Snob:

Sabrina (1954) (B). I’ve never seen the 90’s remake with Harrison Ford and Julie Ormond, so I went into the original without any preconceptions. It was an enjoyable little movie. The Larrabees have more money than God, and they own a huge estate complete with servants, swimming pools, tennis courts, etc. Old Mr. Larrabee has pretty well turned the operation of his companies over to his very serious and successful older son, played by Humphrey Bogart. Meanwhile, his younger son, played by William Holden, is a good-for-nothing playboy. Sabrina, played by Audrey Hepburn, is the chauffeur’s daughter, and we learn quickly that she has been in love with the younger son her whole life, but he doesn’t know she’s alive. Then she goes away to Paris for two years, comes back a beautiful and sophisticated young woman, and young Larrabee is suddenly smitten with Sabrina — even though he’s only days from marrying a woman who comes from a very wealthy family of her own. What will happen? Nothing that will make modern feminists very happy, to be sure. Now I am very curious to see the remake, to see if and how they changed the less progressive elements of the story….

And a book review:

Alisdair MacIntyre, A Short History of Ethics: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the Twentieth Century. At only 269 pages, the book delivers on the title’s promise. As a result, of course, it is hugely condensed, and it omits non-Western philosophy entirely. Although I enjoyed the writing, I have to say that a good portion of this book was over my head. Grappling with these issues will have to await a day when I have more leisure time and less golf to play.

Napoleon Dynamite

From The Movie Snob:

Napoleon Dynamite (B?). I saw this independent flick with my new best friend, and it was a record-setter — I spent more time gaping in amazement during this movie than any other I can recall offhand. (The bizarre Pumpkin, with Christina Ricci, may be a close second.) Set in a small town in Idaho, the title character and (anti-)hero is a high-school kid who is so weird that even nerds would shun him. He’s tall but unathletic, has hideous curly red hair, wears gigantic glasses, is perpetually exasperated with everything and everyone, and never seems to close his fish-like mouth. He also lacks the usual nerd virtues of intelligence and techological savvy, so he is pretty much doomed to wander dumbly from disaster to disaster. He has a few friends and family members around, but for the most part they are as socially inept as he is (or worse). I laughed a few times, but I felt vaguely bad about it because the humor comes pretty much solely from watching dim and unattractive people go about their business and helplessly suffer the indignities that the universe has in store for them. It’s tough to give this movie a grade — it’s like an 86-minute-long train wreck that you just can’t turn away from. See it if you dare.

Fahrenheit 9/11

A View From Mars:

Fahrenheit 9/11 (B) With a new baby in tow, the little time I get to join the outside world, I decided to take in Michael Moore’s new film. I think everybody knows what this documentary is about, so I’ll spare the press kit summary and go ahead and declare this more of a propaganda piece on the Bush administration than just sheer simple movie fun. Michael Moore is a hot or cold subject in that I know some friends that simply didn’t see Bowling for Columbine because they can’t stand the guy. That being said, it’s a tough sell when there is already a predetermined bias against the guy. I can say that I like Michael Moore enough but don’t always agree with everything he says. Despite all the compelling footage, you still have to realize that this was cut and edited to lean a certain way and it’s no secret that Moore would love to see Bush out of office. I wouldn’t doubt that the DVD release of this movie comes out around September, just in time for the election. It would be sad to evaluate one’s vote against a man solely on what is contained in this documentary even though “W” has done a good job on his own convincing America of this very thing. Without dipping too far into the political intricacies which are sure to appear in other reviews elsewhere, I recommend this flick for its overall “one man’s message” and its importance in topic.

The Terminal

From The Movie Snob:

The Terminal (C+). For some reason I just couldn’t embrace this light summer movie. Maybe I’m getting too old and cynical, I don’t know. The premise sounded promising enough: Tom Hanks plays a fellow from an Eastern European nation that falls into civil war while he is on a flight to New York. Consequently, his passport is invalid when he lands, and he is consigned to a legal limbo–unable to enter the U.S. and equally unable to return to his war-torn homeland. So he has to live in the international lounge area of the airport indefinitely, until the situation in his home country settles down enough to give him a normal national status again. Hanks’s performance is fine, but too much of the rest of the movie didn’t work for me. The bureacrat-in-charge at the airport, played by Stanley Tucci, is too consistently and inexplicably mean to the hapless Hanks to be believable. Hanks’s delicate relationship with a gorgeous flight attendant (the gorgeous Catherine Zeta-Jones) is nice enough, but it suffers from some unbelievable moments along the way too. There’s some other unbelievable and sappy stuff too. By the end, I was more than ready to get out of that danged airport.

Little Children (book review)

A book review from The Movie Snob:

Little Children, by Tom Perrota (St. Martin’s Press 2004). The Movie Snob does not read much fiction, but he decided to give this one a try after seeing a good review in a magazine and learning that author Perrota also wrote the novel on which the wickedly dark movie Election was based. It didn’t hurt that most of the main characters are people that the Snob can relate to: in their early 30’s, college-educated, feeling some Gen-X dissatisfaction with their suburban lives, and perhaps a little confused about how they have ended up where they are. The main action of the story involves an adulterous affair between two stay-at-home parents, Sarah and Todd, who meet at a playground while they are watching their very small children play. Todd is an affable cad who has failed the Massachusetts bar exam a couple of times, while Sarah is an equally directionless grad school dropout. The story generates some real suspense by the end, partially because of a subplot involving a convicted sex offender who has moved into the neighborhood, and partially because you just want to know how the affair is going to turn out. All in all, I liked this novel quite a bit for its realistic characters, believable dialogue, and consistently good writing throughout.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

From That Guy Named David:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (B)

In June of 2001, in afternoons after enduring BarBri while studying for the Bar, I decided to set aside the bar materials and read the four Harry Potter books that were out at that time. Out of the four, I thought the Prisoner of Azkaban was one of the best. However, I just was not overly impressed with its adaption onto the big screen. Maybe I’m just a bit freaked out because the (supposed) 12-year old Harry looks like a high school senior to me. And the rest of the “kids” are all getting too big to believe that they are school children. That being said, I think my main problem with this movie was expectations. I had read review after review lauding this movie as something really good and was expecting an impressive movie. Instead, I saw nothing too different than the first two Harry Potters; however, as was pointed out to me after the movie, “what the hell were you expecting? For Christ’s sake, it’s Harry Potter.”

Super Size Me

Movie Man Mike weighs in . . .

Super Size Me. (B) Like Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle, this film documents dietary abuses within the fast-food industry. In places it’s a little brutally graphic. In the name of science, Morton Spurlock turns himself into a human guinea pig to determine the health impact of fast food on the human body. Fortunately the film was not focused exclusively on Mr. Spurlock and his diet. Interspersed in the film are various factoids, surveys, visits to nutritionists, and visits with representatives of the fast-food industry. Although the film is intended as a serious treatment of the subject-matter, it is laced with a healthy dose of humor, which made it all the more enjoyable. At the conclusion of the film I found myself questioning my own eating habits in general and certainly my somewhat-rare fast-food experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary film, and I recommend it–particularly to those who eat fast food once a week or more.