Movie Man Mike returns with a DVD review
Slipstream (D). With a cast including John Turturro, Christian Slater, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jeffrey Tambor, and Anthony Hopkins, you would expect something great. Don’t. Poor Anthony Hopkins. What was he thinking? He wrote and directed this film. Maybe on paper the story was better than it was on the screen, but I had trouble with this one. The film is supposedly about a writer who is called upon to rewrite a script after one of the actors dies during the shooting of the film. As the rewrite gets underway, the writer seems to lose touch with the reality of what’s in the script and what’s real. Had I not read this synopsis prior to seeing the film, I am not sure I would have gotten that out of the movie. From the very outset, the film is disjointed and jerky and comes across as if someone has already lost touch with reality. Therein lies the problem, because after the actor played by Christian Slater dies during filming, the screenplay writer played by Anthony Hopkins is called in for the rewrite. The disjointed, jerky, dreamlike sequences just continue while Hopkins plays a befuddled old man. The only redeeming aspects of the film are that there are some nice performances by Turturro, Slater and Duncan, but those performances hardly make up for the rest of the film. Don’t make the mistake of renting this one like I did.
Book review from The Movie Snob
The Terror, by Dan Simmons (Back Bay Books 2007). This is another from the Entertainment Weekly list of the best books of 2007. I liked the one I picked up from that list, And Then We Came to the End, but I couldn’t finish this one, which is very unusual for me. I thought the premise sounded interesting: in the 1840s, two British ships set out to try to find a Northwest Passage around Canada. They are prepared to get completely iced in for a winter, which they are, but then they are trapped by an unusually cold summer, and when the book opens they are again stuck in the ice and beginning their second long, dark winter. A silent Eskimo woman with no tongue has attached herself to them. And then, out of nowhere, an unseen killer with seemingly supernatural powers–like the alien from Alien, sort of–starts killing the men off. It was just too hokey for me; I quit after about 70 pages, skipped to the end and read it, and didn’t feel like I had missed anything. Indeed, because the book is 760+ pages long, I was very pleased with my decision.
Movie review from The Movie Snob
Girls Rock! (B-). This may be the first documentary I’ve seen this year. Somewhere in this great country of ours, a bunch of women get together and run a rock-and-roll camp exclusively for girls. It lasts one week, and at the end of the week, the 80 or so girls, who have formed a bunch of different bands, put on a concert. This movie particularly follows four of the girls, of whom I thought 7-year-old Palace (yes, that’s her name) and 17-year-old Misty were the most interesting. It’s pretty funny watching the little ones try to process everything they’re experiencing in this total immersion kind of experience. There’s some unnecessary stuff, such as low-tech special effects and blurbs about how girls as a group are disserved by society (and MTV) in various ways. But when the directors just kick back and show the girls cutting loose, it’s pretty entertaining.
DVD review by Nick at Nite
Do not drink the Kool-Aid. Lost is greatness. Cloverfield is not. It did not give me motion sickness, it just made me sad. The movie is too long, had no ending, is boring for long stretches, and generally hard to watch. I have seen better on the Sci-Fi channel. I have seen better on the Sci-Fi channel in the middle of the night. I’ll give J.J. Abrams a mulligan. Why? Mostly because Lost is so phenomenal. Plus, he cannot miss with his next venture, a redo of Star Trek. I digress. Cloverfield follows a group of New Yorkers as their city is attacked by a giant, non-Godzilla like monster. The monster is mean and has little baby monsters. The baby monsters are also mean. I didn’t care about any of the characters. Many of them die. A protracted start with people at a party nearly made me stop watching this film altogether. Here is the odd part: This is normally my kind of movie. Thankfully I did not wait in line to see this at the movie theater. I give it an “F.”
Book review from Nick at Nite
The Golden Compass
I don’t care what anybody says, I have now read this book and I just don’t get it. The author could come right out and say that it is anti-God and I still wouldn’t believe him. It is like saying Animal Farm is about the Russian Revolution (my English teacher thought I wasn’t paying attention). In any event, this book is about a girl on some crazy adventure with Gyptians and a talking polar bear and it reads like any other science fiction book to me. Perhaps, I am dense. Seems to me that you get out of a book what you want to get out of it. It is called imagination. You read a book and you usually get a picture in your head. When I read this book I got the picture in my head of a girl on some crazy adventure with Gyptians and a talking polar bear. I did not get a picture in my head of church or anything church related. I will say this. I did not really think it was a kid friendly book. Lots of killing and fighting. So if your objection to the book was that it is not appropriate for very young readers, you might be right. I give it a “B.”
From the desk of The Movie Snob
(B). I enjoyed this Odd Couple
-ish story about Kate, a successful but single and childless executive (Tina Fey, Mean Girls
), who hires a white-trash gal named Angie (Amy Poehler, Blades of Glory
) to be a surrogate mother for her. The culture clash yields plenty of laughs, and there are many, many great supporting roles: Steve Martin (Bowfinger
) as the old-hippie head of the organic-foods company Kate works for, Sigourney Weaver (The Village
) as the off-kilter head of a surrogate-mother agency, Romany Malco (The 40-Year Old Virgin
) as Kate’s doorman, and Dax Shepard (TV’s Parenthood
) as Angie’s dim-witted common-law husband Carl. As a lawyer, I particularly enjoyed a courtroom scene in which Angie and Carl both struggle to address the judge with the proper decorum. I recommend it, but it’s not for the kids. (Note the PG-13 rating.)
Movie review from The Movie Snob
Priceless (B-). This French comedy reminded me a little of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The delightful Audrey Tautou (Dirty Pretty Things) plays Irene, a shameless gold digger working the French Riviera. She mistakes a lowly hotel bartender named Jean (Gad Elmaleh, The Valet) for a wealthy man, and Jean falls hopelessly in love with her after a boozy one-night stand. She flees the impecunious Jean, and he quickly burns through his entire savings in pursuit. Is there a heart of gold beneath her icy exterior, or is Jean wasting his time? Irene is a hard character to like, but Tautou is hard to resist. (She needs to up her calorie intake, though. She’s Keira-Knightley thin these days.) Elmaleh is okay, but he looks sort of like a younger Nicolas Cage, which is no compliment.
Book review from The Movie Snob
Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris (Back Bay 2007). This acclaimed first novel lives up to the hype. It is sort of like the literary version of The Office, but it is much more serious even though it is equally devoted to the absurdities of office life. The setting is a struggling advertising agency in Chicago, and Ferris perfectly captures the anxieties and the petty plots, pranks, alliances, and irritations that go along with working in such an environment. The point of view is innovative — almost the entire book is told in a first-person-plural narrative from the general perspective of the art-design and copy-writing employees that are the principal money-makers for the company. (I can attest that they sound a lot like associates at a law firm.) For only one chapter does the narration suddenly switch to a standard third-person narration about the office boss that everyone respects and fears (unlike, say, The Office‘s Michael Scott). The whole thing is very effective, and I was truly sad when the story came to an end. I hope Ferris does as well in his second novel, which is apparently in the works.
From The Movie Snob
Roger Waters. A couple of college buddies and I went out and saw the former Pink Floydian at his Dallas show. In fact, one of those two guys and I saw Waters on his Radio KAOS tour way back in 1989 or therabouts, so it was sort of a reunion for us. But now Roger is doing an all-Floyd show, which may explain why this concert was virtually sold out and the KAOS show was not. He didn’t disappoint, musically or theatrically. The first half of the show was a melange of songs that included “In the Flesh,” “Sheep,” “Mother,” parts of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” “Have a Cigar,” “Wish You Were Here,” and several others that were not as familiar to me. The music was marred, however, by Waters’s juvenile political rants. There was a giant screen behind the stage, and during one number from The Final Cut they flashed lots of photos of various dictators such as Stalin, Saddam Hussein, that crazy guy from North Korea, and — you guessed it — Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. He told a short story about hitchhiking through Lebanon many years ago and the amazing hospitality an Arab family showed him, from which he infers that there would be no war if we would just be nice. And the coup de grace was the giant inflatable pig that drifted over the crowd with “All Religions Divide” emblazoned across one side, “Obama” and a checked box across the other side, and “Impeach Bush” plastered on the porker’s posterior. Hmm. Seems like Obama himself belongs to a fairly divisive religion, but maybe I am misremembering. Actually, the political stuff was so juvenile it was fairly easy to laugh off, so it didn’t really mar the music too much.
After a short break, Waters and the band ripped through The Dark Side of the Moon from beginning to end, and they did a fine job of it. Great sound and nice trippy visuals on the big screen. A metal-framed pyramid dropped down from the ceiling and projection equipment inside the thing did a credible job of reproducing the famous Dark Side prism in lights. Sure, Great Gig in the Sky” was tedious as ever, but it allowed for a timely bathroom break. And for the encore (which I predicted to my compadres) consisted of “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)” and “Comfortably Numb,” plus their respective intros. Naturally he took advantage of “Bring the Boys Back Home” to deploy some more political video footage, although this part was more of an attack on Israel and its notorious (and notoriously effective) anti-terrorist wall. A great show for Floyd fans, and a good lesson in how seriously addled an aging rock star can be.