Bride & Prejudice

A movie review from The Movie Snob:

Bride & Prejudice (C+). I am not exactly sure what “Bollywood” means, but I gather it refers to a style of movie that is very popular in India and that tends to feature lots of extravagant and elaborate music-and-dance numbers. The movie called The Guru a couple of years was an attempt to bridge the gap between Hollywood and Bollywood, and so is this retelling of the Jane Austen story. It is much less successful than that other little adaptation of Pride and Prejudice called Bridget Jones’s Diary, but the quality of the source material partially overcomes the weak screenplay and poor acting. In this version (set in the present day), Will Darcy is a wealthy American visiting India with his best friend, an Indian fellow living in England. There he meets Lalita, the spunkiest of the four unmarried daughters in the Bakshi family, and sparks fly. The Indian actress who plays Lalita is stunningly gorgeous, but the fellow who plays Darcy is as wooden and charmless as they come. The musical numbers are fun to watch, but the lyrics are all pretty insipid. Still, on the whole, I kind of liked it.

And his Oscar picks:

We have an Oscar pool at the office, and I think I have probably seriously missed the boat this year. But I don’t mind falling flat on my face in public, so here are my picks. (Plus, I can always go back and edit them after the program.)

Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby
Best Director: Martin Scorsese
Best Actress: Annette Bening
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx
Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett
Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman
Best Cinematography: The Aviator
Best Screenplay (Original): The Aviator
Best Screenplay (Adapted): Million Dollar Baby
Best Special Effects: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Best Animated Feature: The Incredibles

See you on the red carpet!

Oscar picks by A View From Mars

Oscar picks by A View From Mars:

It’s a rare occasion where I actually get to see all the movies that are up for best picture given that most of the time, my taste in films is the exact opposite of what the Academy chooses. So with this being said, here’s how I see ’em:

(5) The Aviator — Scorsese lost points with me based on his last feature Gangs of New York, and he didn’t do much to recapture them with this movie. I’m just not sure how interested I was in Howard Hughes and DiCaprio’s portrayal, although a bit young for the sell to completely be there, was Oscar worthy. The same can be said about Cate Blanchett’s role as Katharine Hepburn, but other than this, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this movie nor of it being nominated as one of the 5 best pictures. Clearly, I saw about half a dozen others that could have taken its place.

(4) Ray — Jamie Foxx was tremendous and he will no doubt walk away with the Oscar gold and the movie was good, possibly really good, just not great. I think I was overwhelmed with Foxx’s performance as Ray Charles that it took me out of the movie just a bit. Is it possible that an excellent performance by an actor can actually have a hand in detracting from the greatness of a movie?

(3) Finding Neverland — Loved both Depp and Winslet and the concept to make a movie about Peter Pan without focusing on Peter Pan but rather the creator of Peter Pan (phewww). This is my sentimental favorite and although it may not win best picture, I’m hopeful that it will take something home.

(2) Sideways — I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the buddy road trip movie, but this was about as perfect as it could get for my enjoyment in this genre. Clever writing and good performances all around although it was a shame that Giamatti was snubbed. Maybe I’m so fond of this movie because Giamatti nailed the role of That Guy Named David so well. When David and I were in college, I could have sworn I heard quite a bit of profanities aimed at the Merlot coming from his room.

(1) Million Dollar Baby — I could just go on and on about how darn tooting great this movie was, but it wouldn’t do it any justice. Clint Eastwood really hit this one out of the park (I’m tired of the knocked out, boxing euphemisms). I was also mightily impressed with Hillary Swank and couldn’t help but think that this picture might just stand the test of time . . . and this was just 30 minutes into it. It had the true feel of one of the classics. This is my Best Picture winner by unanimous decision (couldn’t help it).

The Seekers: The Story of Man’s Continuing Quest to Understand His World

A book review from The Movie Snob:

Daniel J. Boorstin, The Seekers: The Story of Man’s Continuing Quest to Understand His World (1998). I had never read or even heard of Daniel Boorstin until I came across this book and another by him called The Discoverers at a used-book store. (Apparently he has written a bunch of books and won a Pulitzer Prize. Go figure.) The Seekers is sort of a “who’s who” of philosophers and religious leaders in the Western Tradition. Although the writing is fine, the substance is a pretty thin gruel. For example, he covers the thought of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle in 50 pages. Erasmus, Luther, and Calvin collectively get 12 pages; Descartes gets 10; Aquinas gets 6. So if you are already familiar with these thinkers, Boorstin doesn’t have the space to tell you anything you don’t already know, and if you aren’t, you won’t learn much here. Still, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a few hours, and I did learn a little bit about a few late historical figures that I had heard little or nothing about before. In short, it makes for a decent diversion at the airport or anyplace you have a few minutes to kill, but it’s not really a book to sit down and ponder.

A Killer Within

From The Movie Snob:

A Killer Within (F). This was my first trip to Dallas’s historic Inwood Theater after its recent renovation. The improvement was amazing, at least in the upstairs theater where I saw this movie. Remember how the seats in the upstairs theaters used to be really cramped, and the rows were so close together your knees hit the seat in front of you? No more! The seats are large and spacious, and you have plenty of legroom now. On the downside, the soundproofing leaves much to be desired. The thumping bass in the theater next door came through the walls loud and clear. Still, on the whole, I will be pleased to go back to the Inwood for another showing.

But not of this turkey, which was shot here in Dallas. The only reason I went to see it is that a co-worker of mine was an extra in it, and it turned out that her scene wound up on the cutting-room floor. It’s a terrible made-for-cable-TV-quality murder mystery in which C. Thomas Howell plays Dallas attorney Addison Terrill and Sean Young plays his alcoholic wife. She turns up dead, and everybody’s a suspect. How could they bear to make this drivel? Are they so desperate to work that they would willingly humiliate themselves like this? No, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were blackmailed into it.

The Merchant of Venice

A review from Movie Man Mike:

The Merchant of Venice (A-)

Shakespeare. Need I say more? Throw in some wonderful performances by Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Joseph Fiennes, and relative new-comer Lynn Collins, and you get a very rich and captivating tale. This is a story set in 16th century Venice. Antonio (Jeremy Irons) is the successful merchant. He borrows money from Shylock (Al Pacino) to finance a voyage by the youthful Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) so that Bassanio can court and marry the lovely Portia (Lynn Collins). Because Antonio has treated Shylock, a Jew, with such disrespect, Shylock insists that Antonio secure the debt with a pound of Antonio’s flesh. At the climax of the story, I was on the edge of my seat and I could hear a collective gasp from the audience (or maybe that was all in my mind) when Shylock discovers what his demand has reaped. Although the story and the performances make this film well worth seeing, if you don’t know the story, you may want to prepare yourself for the very definite anti-Semite bent to the story.

Aliens of the Deep

From The Movie Snob:

Aliens of the Deep (B). This is James Cameron’s new IMAX 3-D movie about undersea exploration, and it is pretty good. He skips past all the familiar stuff, the coral reefs and sharks and dolphins and stuff, and takes these little two-person submarines right to the bottom of the ocean. Specifically, he goes to these big fault lines in the earth’s crust where sea water has gotten down to the hot molten core of the earth and comes spewing back out of chimney-like structures in superheated jets of chemical-rich “smoke.” Around these chimneys, weird (and mostly very small) creatures (shrimps, crabs, octopuses) live without any reliance on solar energy whatsoever. This leads Cameron to hypothesize about alien life on Jupiter’s moon Europa, which may have liquid oceans concealed under miles of ice. I thought it was pretty interesting. But I was more excited about the preview for “Sharks,” another 3-D IMAX movie that should be coming out soon.

Being Julia

A review from The Movie Snob:

Being Julia (C-). They say Annette Bening is gunning for the Best Actress Oscar this year based on her performance in this movie, so I thought I should check it out. I guess her performance was good, but the movie really wasn’t. The setting is pre-WWII London, and Julia Lambert (Bening) is an aging queen of the stage. Her marriage to Michael (Jeremy Irons) is little more than a business partnership, and she is weary of the theatrical grind (or at least she acts like she is; her whole life seems like a performance). Then a young American admirer sweeps her off her feet and into an affair that rejuvenates her — until she figures out that he is also catting about with another, much younger actress. The movie just didn’t work for me. Characters said and did things that seemed inexplicable, and by the end I was pretty confused as to who was cheating on whom with whom. The confusion was heightened by the fact that virtually every character’s sexuality, except for Bening’s and her young lover’s, was rather ambiguous. Not a very good movie.

Groundhog Day (link)

A message from The Movie Snob:

If you are like me, you think that Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, is one of the best, most thought-provoking comedies that has ever come out of Hollywood. I just read a new essay of appreciation for this fine movie. Click here if you’d like to read it.

Collateral

Another DVD review from Nick at Nite:

Collateral

Tom Cruise has ten minutes of dialogue and dyed grey hair, and this is still one of the best films I have seen this year. It is an original twist on the “aiding and abetting a criminal under duress” genre. Jamie Foxx is great as the taxi driver caught in the middle of a mysterious crime spree. No wonder he has been nominated for a bunch of awards. This movie has action, humor, romance, and a plot. It requires some thought and in my opinion is best seen when you can really pay attention to what you are watching. I give this movie an “A.”

AVP; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

DVD reviews from Nick at Nite:

AVP

This movie combines two of the world’s greatest science-fiction franchises, the “no one can hear you scream in space” Alien series and the governator (Arnold and Jess Ventura) vehicle Predator, into one film. However, without Ripley and either of the governors this movie isn’t quite up to snuff. The Aliens are not very scary anymore and for God’s sake the Predator is not our friend. Apparently the difficulty of coming up with a new fifth story in the Alien series proved so difficult that the writers chose to go with no story at all. It has worked in other franchises, Superman IV, Star Trek V, The Karate Kid III, and The Godfather III, however, just because it worked for these great films did not mean it would work here. This movie stinks. I recommend it to no one. If you are into this kind of stuff go and buy the box set from the first Alien series and rent the first Predator movie, you will be much happier with the originals. I give this movie a “D.”

Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow

This is the only movie that Jude Law made last year that is worth seeing. I haven’t seen any of the other movies he made last year, but I am guessing they stink because based on the previews they were not action movies. This movie could have been called Sky Captain and The World of Not Ever Going to Happen But Still Looks Really Cool in a Movie. My guess is they chose the shorter title because it fits on the movie poster better. This is a visually stunning film. The 1940s futuristic robots, dirigibles, and rockets were very cool. I am still not sure what it was about because I could not divert my eyes from the next cgi effect. Needless to say, bad guys want to do in the world and it is up to Sky Captains from all over the planet to save the day. It is a little Indiana Jones at points. I really liked it. I give it a “A-.”

A Bit on the Side (book review)

A book review from The Movie Snob:

William Trevor, A Bit on the Side (2004). Trevor is an Irishman in his seventies, and this is his most recent collection of short stories. I am not much into short stories generally, but I read a rhapsodic review of this book in a magazine in which the reviewer hailed Trevor as the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language, or something like that. I’m not qualified to comment on that estimation, but I can say that this book did nothing to change my general preference for novels over short stories. The twelve stories in this collection are generally very short, and nothing much happens in most of them. A woman is visited by two well-meaning sisters after her husband of 23 loveless years has died. A boy at a boarding school and one of the school’s female servants notice each other. An Irish girl from an impoverished family goes to work as a servant for a wealthy family. A pair of adulterous lovers breaks up. Generally, the stories are nice vignettes with some well-drawn characters, but that’s about all they are. If that’s your cup of tea, go for it.

Ray

A movie review from The Movie Snob:

Ray (A-). I thought this movie was quite a bit more successful than Beyond the Sea, another recent biopic about a popular singer. Part of the reason must be that Ray Charles’s life was simply much more dramatic than Bobby Darin’s. Charles had far more obstacles to overcome than Darin did, and he compounded them with self-inflicted wounds that Darin seemed for the most part to avoid. Add to the more interesting subject matter the outstanding performance by Jamie Foxx, and you have a superior movie. It covers only a relatively small span of Charles’s life, from roughly 1948 to 1962 (plus several flashbacks to his childhood), but you get the sense that those were probably the most fertile (and turbulent) years of his career and life. Highly recommended.

Sideways; Troy

Reviews from That Guy Named David:

Sideways (B)

I think that every year since The English Patient won for Best Picture, the so-called critics have singled out one independent film a year and universally proclaimed it as the greatest thing since sliced bread. This year, it appears that Sideways has taken that label from the critics and run with it to numerous Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Based upon everything I have read and heard, I had really high expectations coming into this movie. As viewers of this site know, I am generally a big fan of the type of movie that Sideways is marketed to be. However, for whatever reason, this movie did not really connect with me. I thought that Paul Giamatti was absolutely perfect in his role as the down-and-out writer/wine connoisseur who, to a fault, values friendship and loyalty to his friend above all else (it’s a crime that he is not nominated for Best Actor). But the story seemed fragmented, and I could never really get into the flow of the movie. I recognized the fine performances by Giamatti, Church, and Madsen and think that they will deserve whatever awards they win; however, it was almost as if they were performing in a vacuum without enough of a plot to keep me from thinking about anything other than the fact that they were good acting performances.

Troy (C)

I already saw Gladiator.