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.