Touching the Void

A video review from Nick at Nite:

Touching the Void.

I really wanted to see this movie about a doomed mountain climbing expedition after seeing the dramatic trailer at the theater.  It is not exactly what I expected.  I expected a “based on real events” type movie, ala The Perfect Storm, Alive, Turner & Hootch  . . .  instead what I got was a movie that was somewhere in between an after school special and a Thursday night edition of Dateline.  It is a very compelling story.  The scenery is very dramatic (the Andes Mountains).  I give an Oscar type nod to the Mountain and everything else gets an honorable mention.  I give this movie a “B.”

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Spider-Man 2

From The Movie Snob:

Spider-Man 2  (B).  I’m not saying that Nick at Nite is guilty of grade inflation (see his review below), but I don’t think this sequel was as awesome as everyone else seems to.  Sure it had its good points, primarily good action sequences and special effects, and a good villain in Alfred Molina’s Dr. Octopus.  And Toby Maguire did a respectable job playing the conflicted everyman-as-superhero.  But it bogged down a few times in speechifying about how people need a hero, someone to believe in, blah blah blah.  There were a few things that defied belief, such as how Peter Parker and Harry what’s-his-name could stay friends for the past two years even though Harry (1) believes Spiderman murdered his father, and (2) knows that Peter knows who Spiderman is.  Kirsten Dunst had one of the most thankless helpless-heroine roles in recent memory.  And is she really that attractive?  Or has Hollywood just convinced us that she is?  She seems kind of plain to me.  Anyway, I didn’t feel like my money was wasted; I just wasn’t blown away.  BTW, don’t show up late; the opening credits sequence is really good, kind of recapping the first movie through storyboards.

Frankenstein

From the Movie Snob’s personal library….

Frankenstein  (1931).  In connection with the summer movie Van Helsing, they’ve released three collectors’ sets of classic horror movies–one set of Frankenstein movies, one of Dracula movies, and one of Wolfman movies.  Out of curiosity, I picked up the Frankenstein set at Sam’s Club for like $20.  It contains four or five movies, but I’ve watched only the first one so far.  Suffice it to say, it apparently took a lot less to scare people seventy years ago than it does today.  Judging from the dramatic close-up of the monster you get when he first appears in full light, the very appearance of Boris Karloff in makeup is supposed to scare the wits out of you.  (In the opening credits, they list the actor playing the monster only as “?”, which I thought was a nice touch.)  Anyhoo, the moviemaker takes a lot of liberties with the source material; as I recall, the monster in the book is intelligent and quite talkative once it learns to talk, but Karloff’s creature is incapable of anything but grunts and growls.  The climactic scene in a dilapidated windmill seems like a pretty impressive feat of special effects for the day, and I’m pretty sure the end of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow is a deliberate homage to Frankenstein.  I’m looking forward to watching The Bride of Frankenstein, which I hear is even better than the original.

Spider-Man 2; Cold Mountain

Two reviews from The Movie Court’s newest sitting judge, Nick at Nite:

Spider-Man 2 

Glorious.  I was all pissed off at the last Spiderman movie because it stole the thunder from the fifth installment in the Star Wars series.  This movie I was not mad at, it did not suck.  It was greatness.  Particularly, because it has a scene where Kirsten Dunst is doused with water.  Any movie with such a scene, including reluctantly the first Spiderman, is a pretty good movie.  The acting, writing, and special effects were all good.  Expected this movie to fall short of expectations.  Instead it exceeded them.  While it is not as cool as the old Superman movies, it is still very good.  I give it an “A.”

Cold Mountain

I know the Movie Snob reviewed this movie aways back, his review was less than flattering, so I thought I would send this in.  First, the Movie Snob forgets the first rule of criticizing movies in which Nicole Kidman stars.  The rule is, “If the movie has Nicole Kidman in it and you get to stare at her for more than twenty minutes, then the movie gets an ‘B’.”  Second, the Movie Snob forgets the second rule of criticizing movies in which Nicole Kidman stars.  The rule is, “If the movie has Nicole Kidman in it and does not have Tom Cruise in it, then it gets an ‘A’.”  Like the Movie Snob, I read the book before the movie came out.  Unlike the Movie Snob, I started skipping the chapters revolving around the female lead, let’s just say farming ain’t that interesting a read, but warring and fighting and such is …   now that I know the whole story I think it must have been a good book and the movie made it so.

I give it an “A.”

The Door in the Floor

From the desk of The Movie Snob:

The Door in the Floor  (B).  This new movie starring Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger is based on a book by John Irving that I have never read.  It is a sad story of a small family haunted by a terrible tragedy.  Bridges and Basinger are a married couple, Ted and Marian Cole, and Elle Fanning does a fantastic job as their almost-forgotten, roughly four-year-old daughter Ruth.  They are living on a remote island in the Northeast, and Ted is a successful writer of children’s books.  One summer, a prep school boy and aspiring writer named Eddie comes to stay with them and learn what he can from Ted about writing.  Instead, he learns a lot about dysfunction with a capital D.  It’s no feel-good movie, but I found it interesting and watchable.

Fahrenheit 9/11

From That Guy Named David:

Fahrenheit 9/11 (B)

I agree with the vast majority of Mario’s review from a few weeks back, but I’ll give my two cents. I thought Moore hurt his credibility to an extent by starting the movie with about 30-45 minutes of conspiratory theory regarding the Bush family and the Saudis. Okay…so the Bin Ladens gave some money to some oil companies tied to some former Bush companies and they know/work with some people who the Bushes know and blah, blah, blah… it just got too much like the idiotic right-wing conspiracies that were made up about Clinton in the past decade (ex. good Christian Jerry Falwell’s video outlining all the “Clinton killings”). That being said, when the movie shifted its focus to the current debacle the President has gotten us into in Iraq, I thought Moore did a great job with the images, the interviews with soldiers/families/politicians, etc. A couple of moments in the movie that I thought were very well done and showcased 2 of the moments in the past 3 years that I believe display the arrogance/ignorance of the current President: (1) Moore uses the pure-political photo op of George W. flying onto the aircraft carrier with the big banner behind him declaring “Mission Accomplished” and puts the footage to the music from Greatest American Hero (one of the best t.v. theme songs ever in my opinion). After focusing on this coverage and the speech declaring an end to “major combat” in Iraq (with the great music), Moore immediately shifts to subsequent war footage from Iraq (the most powerful of which is two U.S. soldiers walking along a sidewalk when a bomb goes off right next to the soldiers). Horrible footage, but it illustrates what all rational people in this country (other than our President and his speechwriters) should have been thinking after our forces swept through the country in a couple of weeks (i.e., the invasion was the beginning, not the end of what is going to know turn out to be a very long and very bloody occupation of that country). Bush does look pretty presidential in that flight suit, though. (2) On the same line of thought, there is a clip of Bush’s idiotic “Bring ’em on” comment when things began to go bad after the “end of major combat,” and Moore then shifts the footage to some of the many instances over there of the enemies of this country “bringing it on.” Pretty powerful film. However, if you go in knowing that Moore is using this as a campaign ad to get rid of Bush (yes Movie Snob, I agree with your comment), then you will know what to expect and see the movie for what it is,… a propaganda piece meant to inflame opinion against the current administration, but done very well and filled with many stories/comments/footage that make you think twice about the current direction of the foreign policy of this country. Of course, if you go in believing everything that you see (like the guy sitting behind me in the theater), then you might as well also believe the Bush campaign ad currently showing in all battleground states that (falsely) claims that John Kerry wants to raise the gasoline tax by 50 cents. Just my thoughts.

Jaws

From the shelf of The Movie Snob:

Jaws (A-). How is that the Movie Snob had never seen this movie before this past weekend? Well, I’ll tell you. When I was about 9 years old, this movie came on network television. My parents foolishly let my little brother and me watch it, and about halfway through I was totally freaked out by it. (You can guess the scene, the one where Richard Dreyfuss’s character gets into the water at night to check out a wrecked fishing boat.) Twenty-five years later, I am only just now able to face my fears. Anyhoo, I thought this was a terrific movie, if you overlook the rather dated special effects. The mechanical shark is somewhat more comical than menacing, but still, it’s a good suspenseful tale. The book was really good, too; I read it when I was about that same age, and it didn’t freak me out at all.