Monday, August 29, 2005

Movie Review - Lord of the Rings

Or a better title might be "The emperors new clothes" It has been many years since I was supposed to read the Lord of the Rings in school, and was so bored by it, I bought the Cliff notes. (did you hear Mr. Cliff the originator of the Cliff notes died this year - its true). I know the books are held in high reverence by many, and I respect that, but I look at this movie as someone just viewing it as a movie, not some quasi religious experience some people take it for. I think everybody wants to love it for that reason. The acting is quite good for what is a long boring tedious story. I think it is just one level above the movie Krull only because of the stunningly beautiful scenic shots. However, I think a travel brochure to New Zealand would have done that trick. And the ending - what a disappointment. Again, I am sure devotees and acolytes of the book, probably love the ending, but to me even a movie set to be a trilogy, should have a complete storyline for each part of the trilogy. I think the analogy of Star Wars works here. There was an ending for each part, even though the endings set the stage for further movies. This is a grade B sci-fi fantasy movie, hyped up by Hollywood because it is based on a classic book. I see it for what it is. Don't believe the hype, believe your eyes and ears. And you will have to listen very carefully, as it is next to impossible to understand half the muttering in the movie. And don't drink a soda during the movie unless you have a strong bladder - at almost three hours, its tough to make it without a bathroom run. Although the only good thing is you wont miss much.

Movie Review - Behind Enemy Lines

Behind Enemy Lines - Jay rating of 5 Starring Gene Hackman and Owen WilsonA good popcorn and date movie. A feel good war movie, where we are the good guys and guess who wins in the end. Not much of a plot, not much acting, but plenty of good old fashion action. Its worth seeing compared to some mundane show on TV Friday nights however don't expect too much. The Plot - Shot down over Bosnia, after filming something he shouldn't have, Owen Wilson attempts to miraculously escape from evil fascists, while waiting for Americans to muddle through the political bureaucracy to pick him up. Poor Gene Hackman…truly one of my favorite actors, it felt as if he slept through this film or had his twin brother do this, while he stayed at home. What a waste of talent. Even in his other most recent movie "the heist" which was a fairly formula-matic film, his acting made it worthwile. Here there was nothing, just a lot of blank stares. Owen Wilson, who I thought has done very well in the various lite comedy roles he has been in (Zoolander, Meet the Parents, and the Jackie Chan western), doesn't really meet the challenge of action hero top gun top of guy. He seems to whine a lot. If we are going to make an action movie, at least lets keep the standard caricature of hero. He would seem better cast as a conflicted hero type of character. But there is no real character development here. In addition, the odd cinematography, which occasionally works, but mostly is just annoying, takes away even more from the basic enjoyment of what is essentially just an action movie. I think America will react well to this movie, as they want to see a movie about where we are heroes and we win the war. I could write more, but why bother.

JWorld Rating System

JWorld Critic Scale of Movies
JWorld example
The worst most putrid, horrid disgusting waste of a movie.
Pokeman the movie and Heavans Gate comes to mind
Almost as bad as 1, but you can find 1 minor redeeming quality in the movie
You would have been better off staying home and watching a made for TV movie
I have selectivly eliminated these movies from my memory
Maybe worth seeing, but not much more
Fun, worth seeing on a date night, or with the family, but nothing substantial
Any action film, and most romantic comedies fall in here
A movie with good acting, or a good plot but not both, maybe visually breathtaking
Star Wars, Silence of the Lambs, American Graffeti, Goodfellas
A very good movie with good acting and a good plot, or a very excellent comedy
The Siege, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Taxi Driver, Easy Rider
An excellent movie that you would see again - Acadamy award material or better
It’s a Wonderful Life, Annie Hall, The Grapes of Wrath, The best years of our lives
Something deeply moving that you will remember the rest of your life
Rainmaker, Seven, Casablanca, Barfly, ET, The Lion in Winter, Boys n the Hood
One of the greatest movies ever. On your top ten list of all time
The Razors Edge, Inherit the Wind, Godfather I&II, Shoah, The Magnificent Seven, Field of Dreams, 25th Hour

Movie Review - You Can Count on Me

You can count on me" An 8 on the Jay Wolin scale. I had never heard of this movie…saw it at the video store, saw it had won a Sundance Movie Award. Never heard of the actors, but it was fabulous….really moving….it starts with a scene of two people dieing in a car accident and the police coming to tell the children…it then flash forwards some (id guess) 20-30 years to those children grown up, and although it did not address how they handled this tragedy, how they dealt with it, and in some cases didn't deal with it, is always an underlying theme Even after the first scene, you are left to imagine how those children grew up and it tears at you…the writing was great…real person dialogue…like a child not really focusing on the fact that his uncle (mother's brother) and his mother had the same parents. Little things like that…religion, morality, survival vs living, are all topics that hover and are interwoven into the picture….there is no one to root for, there are no heroes, just a character study into a brother and sister, realizing how deep their bonds together will always be…in one moving sentence at the end of the movie this is cemented, you feel their pain and love for each other in one heartfelt moment, even though the words were never said. It was just a true emotional response to each other, looking into each others eyes, and just knowing, the pain that each other had, and the support and love that each of them had for each other whether they could show it outwardly or not. At times it was a conflicting movie for me…For the more stable of the two characters, was someone who was very cold at times, and didn't want to face the emotional conflicts that you knew were always there….you always wonder why she makes the decisions she makes…why she chooses the relationships she does…they all seemed so sterile…I thought it was interesting when she went to the priest and said…wouldn't it be easier if you just said it was a sin and I would go to hell…but the priest didn't oblige her, and forced her to address the issue on her own, which in some ways she does, and in other ways she doesn't…as if life just goes on and on…that is why the movie touched me so much…there were no simple answers for any of the characters. There is not always resolution, or ones that we like, just like in real life…they just went on…the brother who seemed less stable, truly was searching for peace and left himself emotionally open to all things, yet could not or did not show the ability to maintain or even have any type of relationship with another person. He was more open and honest, but also more pained, He was at times irresponsible, but mostly he was kindhearted, again, a conflicted character.Actually neither character really had ever been able to develop a serious relationship with another person…in many ways the openness scared the sister, in many ways it created conflict and pain and confusion. Maybe that is what this movie was about…how we deal with emotional conflict…the ying and yang of it…addressing it fully and not addressing it Addressing it creates pain, and we really don't know that this will create resolution to the conflict…for maybe there is no resolution…and if you don't address it, you may limit your pain, but you limit you ability to respond emotionally at all.really good acting… a movie that flowsa movie that really makes you think…

Legally Blone - Movie Review

"Legally Blonde" which was a candy movie (a 5 on the Jay Wolin Scale)…mindless, enjoyable, but no redeeming value. I think Reese Witherspoon could be a good actress if she would take roles that had some substance - Reminds me of the Alicia Silverstone movie a few years ago clueless, about the seemingly dumb blonde who was really smart - at least that one had some social significance making a point about how not to treat your fellow person (if I remember correctly)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Amores Perros

Amores Perros (loves a bitch) Spanish with English subtitles…a 9 on the JWorld scale of 1-10

Deep complex drama…powerful Three stories interspersed…one a young man in love with his abusive brothers wife, a wealthy man who leaves his family for the hot young thing, and then she is in a severe car accident and crippled….and a hit man who left his family years ago to be a rebel against the govt. and is pained because he loves the daughter he left so much….none truly find what they want…it shows how life is so fragile…wonderful one moment…destroyed the next….and wondering how it all collapsed…yet how love can inspire you to do great things…how passion can override love….but is that real love…how helping people can end up being very destructive to the things that you love…how life is not fair…sometimes bad people have bad things happen….sometimes bad people have good things happen…overall it is also a comment on society…how little we value life, how little we value love. The hit man’s love for his dog is the most sincere love that I felt in the movie….and how those who fail to take the risk for love not only diminish themselves, but the one who truly loves them…instead of supporting them.

Dog fighting and dogs play a large part in this movie…What is love….and how painful it can be, and yet how we still yearn for it and still will do almost anything for it….sad, moving movie…the rebel was the most complex character…righteous on the one hand…evil on the other…pained on the other…still searching for right in the world at one point he screams “this is not right” (you will be pained when you see the scene) In the end, he realized that although he doesn’t have the courage to face all his demons…he realizes he is on the wrong path…and he will walk the path until he finds it. Is that enough deep stuff for everyone or what!!!