DVD review from Nick at Nite
Scent of a Woman
Al Pacino (Scarface) won an Oscar for his portrayal of an angry, injured warrior who is in serious need of a self-help book or twelve-step program. He joins up with Chris O’Donnell (Batman Forever), a scholarship student from the local prep school, for a thanksgiving trip to New York City. There Lt. Col. Slade and Charlie drive a fast car, ride in a limo, dance with Gabrielle Anwar (The Three Musketeers), and consider suicide. All in all a very nice time. This is actually a very good film. Has one of my favorite lines of all time. Lt. Col. Slade asks Charlie to hand him a glass of John Daniels. Charlie says don’t you mean Jack Daniels. Lt. Col. Slade says when you know him as well as I do, it is John Daniels. I give it an “A.”
DVD review from Nick at Nite
Give this movie a chance. You won’t regret it. It reminds me so much of The Princess Bride. Another fine film that was underappreciated at the box office. An interesting ensemble cast follow the adventures of a young man as he chases down a fallen star. The fallen star turns out to be a beautiful young woman (Claire Danes, Shopgirl). They have trouble as it seems they are in a fantastical land where at least two other groups are trying to chase down the same fallen star. Mayhem and madness ensue. I recommend you rent this and The Princess Bride on a nice, rainy weekend. Probably a little too scary for the smallest among us, but should be in the wheel house for most others. I give it an “A.”
Review from The Movie Snob
Emma. When I tuned in to this PBS Masterpiece Theater presentation, I didn’t realize it was going to be a rebroadcast of a 1996 version of the Austen novel. But I didn’t mind when I found out it was going to star a 22- or 23-year-old Kate Beckinsale (The Last Days of Disco) in the title role. Samantha Morton (Minority Report) played Emma’s friend and “project” Harriet Smith, and I didn’t recognize anybody else. I could not help but enjoy it, but I must say that I liked the Hollywood version (also made in 1996) a little better. Beckinsale and Morton were fine, but Gwyneth Paltrow (Shallow Hal) and Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense) were just as good, and Jeremy Northam (The Invasion) played Knightley with much more charm than the guy in the PBS version. Look up the Paltrow version first.
Nick at Nite goes revolutionary
John Adams (Episodes 1 and 2)
The folks at HBO are impressive. I am certain they could do a mini-series on any two- or three-year period of my life and make it look interesting. So, when they get an actually interesting topic, e.g., the birth of our great nation, they can easily serve up a masterpiece. Paul Giamatti, the greatest actor of our generation, stars as John Adams, lawyer, statesman, and bald guy. I am two episodes in and I am hooked. It is a little hokey at times, but that is mostly because we used to do a ton of hokey things. Give this series a shot. You learn something and you will see a bunch of bald dudes with bad wigs. One warning. Do not get distracted by George Washington’s big nose. Seriously, avert your eyes when he is on screen. So far, I give it an “A.”
Movie review from Nick at Nite
No Country for Old Men
For the very first time in my life, I have read a book that was made into a movie, seen the movie, and concluded that the movie was better than the book. I struggled through darn near every page of Cormac McCarthy’s story of violence meets Texana meets chance. I blame my struggle on Mr. McCarthy’s rejection of some of the basic tenets of writing, chiefly his refusal to include quotation marks for any conversation between characters. It is a basic construct of writing. Apparently, one I need to accurately follow a written conversation. In any event, his story must be a good one because it translates well on the big screen. It may help that the acting is so good. The book and movie follows a Cowboy who comes across a big briefcase of money and the trouble that ensues as a crazed man with a bad haircut tries to chase the Cowboy and the big briefcase down. Perhaps I am just numb to it, but I did not find the violence in the movie to be too much to take. That said, a mess of people end up dead and there is gunplay and blood involved. I give the book a “C.” I give the movie an “A.”
New book review from The Movie Snob
Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court, by Jan Crawford Greenburg (Penguin 2007). This book covers much the same ground as The Nine, which I reviewed a while back. I liked this one much better, as it is far more objective and impartial than that screed. You certainly don’t get the feeling that Greenburg is rooting for the conservative ascendancy marked by the additions of John Roberts and Sam Alito to the Court, but she strives for and maintains a “just reporting the facts” tone that is most refreshing. (She has apparently covered the Court as a journalist since 1994, but that doesn’t necessarily lead one to expect an objective book.) Personally, I am rooting for the conservative takeover, so I was outraged to read about the presidential ineptitude that led to the appointment of David Souter and enjoyed her descriptions of the insufferably grandiose Anthony Kennedy. Something else I must comment on–Greenburg barely discusses the Bush v. Gore decision on which Jeffrey Toobin spilled so much vitriol and ink. In Toobin’s book, as I recall, he asserts that Gore would have won the election if the Florida recount had gone forward. My own vague recollection of the issue was that subsequent media-funded recounts still showed that Bush would have won, but I was too hazy on the subject to challenge Toobin on that point. Greenburg, however, asserts that the media recounts showed that Bush would have won. I’m not saying she’s right, but that matches my fuzzy memories anyway.
Warmly recommended for folks interested in Supreme Court politics.
From the desk of The Movie Snob
The Other Boleyn Girl (B). I never read the novel, and I don’t know the real historical details of the story, so I may have liked this film the better for it. The failure of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana, Troy) to produce a male heir is about to rock England, and when the upper-middle-class Boleyns get the inside scoop that Henry is ready to throw over Catherine of Aragon, weak-willed Sir Thomas Boleyn does not hesitate to throw his daughters at the monarch. Conniving Anne (Natalie Portman, Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace) tries first and fails to impress the king, but her sweet sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson, Eight Legged Freaks) succeeds — for a time. Of course, history demands that Anne win out in the end, and once she elbows Mary aside events move so fast that there’s not even time to mention poor St. Thomas More. Critical reaction has been mixed at best, but I enjoyed it as a good, sudsy Saturday afternoon flick.