DVD reviews from CBG

CBG reviews DVDs:

Fun with Dick and Jane

Remake of an allegedly funnier 1977 version staring George Segal and Jane Fonda. Maybe I should have seen the original because several people told me it was better. In this 2005 release, Jim Carrey (Yes Man) and Téa Leoni (Spanglish) play the upwardly mobile couple who are forced to turn to a life of crime after his company collapses from fraud. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood, but it wasn’t that funny. Fraud, armed robbery, petty theft and vandalism don’t usually make me laugh. Even when Jim Carrey is the perpetrator. Even when the victims deserve it (and only a few in this movie do). Carrey is a great physical comedian and although he works it here – his pratfalls aren’t enough to carry the film. Likewise, as charming as Ms. Leoni may be, she doesn’t hold my interest for 90 minutes. Even as social satire, it falls short of the mark. My advice? If you didn’t see it when it first came out, don’t bother now.

Judgment: C

Find Me Guilty

Vin Diesel (The Fate of the Furious) plays Jackie DiNoscio, a mobster who defended himself in connection with a massive RICO case against the mob – apparently, the longest mafia trial in history. Billed as a courtroom drama, based on the actual trial, I had high hopes for this film. What’s not to like? The Mob? Courtroom drama (as if you see a lot of that in real life)? So what’s not to like? Vin Diesel for one – he apes his way through this with some pseudo-Italian accent (?) and mannerisms. How about a flat story story line to follow it up with. Ultimately, what disappointed me about this film is what it said about us and pop culture generally. Why do we root for the mobster? He’s a CRIMINAL, engaged in drug dealing and other illegal activity? Why do we sympathize with the mob? Again, they’re CRIMINALS. Why is the government so incompetent? Who thought a 2 year trial was a good idea? How does a pro se litigant get the better hand on a federal prosecutor? Too many questions – I know, it’s only a movie. But this one is based (loosely) on a true story. If it was me, I’d add the holy trinity of cinematography (sex, violence and special effects) those are things that work for Vin (Check out XXX). Instead, this film is guilty – of being predictable, furthering stereotypes and well, starring Vin Diesel (without the trinity). Maybe I should have watched The Chronicles of Riddick.

Judgment: C+

Swept Away (Italian with Subtitles)

*** spoiler alert *** spoiler alert *** spoiler alert ***

The original title in Italian is “Travolti da un insolito nell’ azzurro mare d’agosto” which I’ll bet translates to more than just “Swept Away.” (I think it’s something like “Overwhelmed by the Destiny of the Unusual August Blue Sea.” Okay, we’ll stick to Swept Away.) The plot is simple: Uptight, abusive rich lady (Raffaella) on a private Mediterranean cruise gets stranded on a deserted island with a lowly ignorant crew member (Gennarino) after she insists on going out against his advice. Now the tables are turned. After hurling insults and attacking each other, they fall in love and well, attack each other. Made in 1974, the film still holds up, particularly if you know anything about Italian culture. This film works the dialectic: male v female; rich v poor; north (Raffaella is from Milano, Gennarino is Sicilian); communists v capitalists. Since it wasn’t made in Hollywood, you’ll be unhappy with the ending if you like everything to work out at the end. If you’re into Italian cinema, there’s a lot out there to see before this. Even so, worth the rental. Certainly see this version instead of the remake (starring Madonna) – advice I should have followed with Dick and Jane (see above).

Judgment: B

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