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  • Syriana (2005)
    For all Gaghan's attempts to introduce characters into this morass of ideas, it still feels too much like homework and not enough like a movie. You'd really be better off reading a book, or even a good article.
  • Birth (2004)
    I got this for camp value but it wasn't half-bad, as it turns out. A bit lugubrious and certainly too ponderous in moments when the camera slow-zooms into characters faces for an excruciatingly long time, but they manage to make a preposterous situation seem fairly interesting, and many of the characters reactions are quite believable. Unfortunately the film keeps you out of the loop for so long that at the end you're not entirely sure what was supposed to have happened, but I think I have a pretty good idea. Nicole Kidman looks elfy (sic) which is cute but she's sort of unlikable and unbelievable, and I'm not sure that that's not on purpose. Nice music (excpet for the Wagner) keeps things interesting, as do surprising (but small) roles from an unusually subdued Peter Stormare and a totally unrecognizable Anne Heche.
  • The Pink Panther (2006)
    We actually stopped watching this. It just wasn't funny. At all.
  • Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)
    Now this is awesome. Okay...I fell asleep, but I'm pretty sure if I'd stayed awake for the whole thing it would be my favorite movie. It isn't just low budget, it's like a bunch of friends got together and made a movie, only instead of being tedious and lame as such endeavors often are, they pretty much hit a homer. Three words: "critical lesbian shortage."
  • Transamerica (2005)
    This was okay, but I guess I should've known from the Oscar noms that it wasn't a great film. I warmed up to it by the end but I found Felicity Huffman's mannered voice and dialogue to be distracting, and Fionnula Flanagan was so totally over the top, it was like watching a soap opera screen test.
  • Nacho Libre (2006)
    Hmmmm. This was okay, but considering the level of talent involved, it should have been a lot better. Too many cooks, perhaps? Still, there are a few inspired moments of greatness, even if there's too much fighting.
  • Orange County (2002)
    I still liked this the second time around. Ending is a little too long and sappy but there's some great stuff in here, especially Catherine O'Hara as a proto-Lucille Bluth. Cheers once again to Mike White. Here's hoping Nacho Libre, his third team-up with Jack Black, is another winner.
  • Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
  • The Secret Lives of Dentists (2002)
    I think I was confused and thought Alan Rudolph was some kind of importatn director (rather than the guy who butchered Breakfast of Champions), so this film was not what I was expecting. I find Campbell Scott (The Spanish Prisoner) sort of endearing, and he doesn't get many leading roles, but this film just wasn't very good. Scott and his wife are dentists who work together and raise three daughters. Scott believes his wife is cheating on him. Scott has poorly directed fantasy sequences starring Denis Leary, distractingly dressed like Tyler Durden. It's just dumb. And it really never goes anywhere. I've sat through worse, but I just felt like I'd really wasted my time with this film.
  • In Good Company (2004)
    Next in our family drama trilogy, we have a love triangle featuring Scarlett Johansson, Topher Grace, and....Dennis Quaid (okay, Quaid's the dad). We've also got smaller roles from David Paymer, Selma Blair, and Philip Baker Hall, plus a cameo from Malcolm McDowell, who doesn't really seem worth it. Anyway, I was kind of in the mood for something light, and a little Scarlett never hurts, plus I'm weirdly obsessed with Paul Weitz due to his participation in Chuck & Buck, a film about weird obsession. It wasn't awful and it sort of evaded the typical Hollywood plot structure and ending, but it wasn't all that relevatory, either.
  • The Squid and the Whale (2005)
    This is a lovely, upsetting film about everyone in a family treating each other horribly. Fortunately it's short and often funny so it doesn't bury the viewer in gloom. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach who wrote The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou with Wes Anderson.
  • Thunderball (1965)
    I think I need a break from Bond.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
    Hey, it wasn't a total disaster after all! Hooray! Definitely a geek's wet-dream (they could've stood to introduce characters more clearly for the rest of the audience) which stays pretty true to the first two films, even if it wasn't quite as visually stunning. They do try to pack an awful lot into this last film, probably too much, but they stay true to all the major characters and keep hope alive for the future of the series without cheapening the severity of several key moments. I could've lived without Juggernaut's dumb helmet (even with the "dickhead" joke) and several uses of the word bitch which were out of synch with the rest of the film series, but for the most part I have little to complain about. The biggest omission, obviously, and one of the few things I agree with the ranting maniacs at AICN about, is the lack of Jean's "Phoenix Force," which in the comics manifested as a giant bird of flames surrounding her. This would've looked really cool, it was hinted at in the end of X2, and would've been easy to do with CGI -- it would've also made the name Phoenix make a lot more sense, becuase here instead of relating to her rise after death, it's supposed to be something inherent within her ever since she manifested her powers. So: they really dropped the ball there, but with all the explosions and shit flying around it's hard to say "there should've been more special effects." I'm actually looking forward to seeing this again.
  • THX 1138 (1971)
    Lucas' director's cut, replete with "Special Edition" critters and other effects-twiddling, is actually pretty okay. There are really only a couple of points where it becomes distracting or inappropriate; for the most part these additions are well-integrated and look much better than the changes made to, for instance, Star Wars, in the annoying digital fakery that goes on in the Mos Eisley scenes. And thank God he didn't touch Walter Murch's sound mix or Lalo Schifrin's musical contributions. I'm happy to report that this film holds up very well for me. I know I like a lot of crappy sci-fi, but if you haven't ever seen this film, I highly recommend it.
  • A History of Violence (2005)
    I was a bit underwhelmed by this at first, but it grew on me the more I thought about it. Cronenberg's commentary is a lot more interesting than most.
  • Logan's Run (1976)
    Hey, I stayed awake for the whole thing!
  • A League of Ordinary Gentlemen (2004)
    Hey documentary fans: this film has been unjustly neglected in the wake of your spelling bees, penguins, quads, and stunt-gluttons. It looks and sounds great, which I can't say for some other big hit docs of late, although it suffers a teensy bit from unclear chronology here and there. For the most part, though, this is a fascinating history of bowling and the shifting place of bowling in our culture. And then there's Pete Weber's patented "crotch chop." Check it out.
  • The Da Vinci Code (2006)
    Couldn't help myself. It's not bad; certainly better than the book (which isn't saying a whole lot). There were some moments where I was laughing at the film, and Hanks' speech at the end nearly had me gagging, but Audrey Tautou makes the whole thing eminently watchable (McKellen, Reno, Molina, et al don't hurt either). Considering the whole package was directed by Ron Howard, who I usually hate, this was surprisingly entertaining.
  • My First Mister (2001)
    I wasn't sure if this would be a creepy pedophile movie or the sarcastic comedy it claims to be on he back cover, but with Albert Brooks I thought I'd give it a chance. Holy crap. Instead I was drawn unwittingly into a Hallmark Hall Of Fame Tragic Family Drama sapfest. And what the hell is Michael McKean doing here? Leelee Sobieski is actually pretty good, but Kelly pointed out that she has an unpleasant Helen Hunt thing going on.
  • The Pink Panther (1963)
    Gotta love those Hollywood sets.
  • Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
  • From Russia with Love (1963)
  • Vinterkyss (2005)
    There was nothing particularly original or unusual about this, but it was good. Fairly well-drawn characters with a plot that doesn't get too neatly tied up but doesn't leave you hanging. Certainly not a waste of time.
  • Innocence (2004/I)
    WOW. This is what cinema is all about. After the relative let-down of KussKuss and one of the worst Manhattans of my life at the downtown Luce (Phillip's "Union" Whiskey is, indeed, atrocious), we trudged back through the rain to a surprisingly short line for this film, which grabbed hold of me from the very begininng and never let go. I can't remember the last time I was so tense and curious while watching a film. The sound is incredible and sparse. The David Lynch comparisons come through most obviously in static shots of empty spaces with exaggerated "natural" room sound, as well as the filmmakers' ability to produce tension out of seemingly innocuous objects and interactions. I think the Peter Weir comparison is less apt than the Brothers Quay; think of the Quays and Lynch working together, without the idiosyncratic cliches of those creators, and you end up with a hypnotic, captivating, disturbing film that benefits greatly from the extremes of picture size and sound that the theater provides.
  • KussKuss (2005)
    A film in which a somewhat interesting idea is played out to the detriment of character and audience involvement. It doesn't help that the subtitles were atrocious, full of inaccuracies and, in some cases, simply absent (Katjas and her father speak Russian which is never translated). There are also some really bad, obvious plot devices which we've seen a million times before (girlfriend unexpectedly returns to apartment because of forgotten keys, walks in on boyfriend grappling with other woman), in addition to a story potentially lifted from Margaret Atwood's "The Robber Bride." Ultimately it's a film in which people try to help one another but end up only hurting everyone around them, and no one seems to learn anything. Sort of depressing, but mainly disappointing.
  • Elizabethtown (2005)
    This was not nearly as bad as you'd guess, considering it's another Cameron Crowe vanity project starring, of all people, Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. Bloom's attempt at an American accent is quite bad and distracting, since he narrates much of the film, but Dunst isn't nearly as horrible as I've come to expect (she's right for this part, anyway), plus you get Judy Greer and Susan Sarandon. The pop songs come a little too fast fast and thick, but for the most part it's a good, emotional tale. The critics just savaged this, but I think they're generally afraid to appear sentimental (which doesn't explain their hard-on for Finding Neverland...).
  • The Constant Gardener (2005)
  • Príbehy obycejného sílenství (2005)
    Translation: Wrong Side Up. GO SEE IT! Showing again Wednesday at Block E at 5pm.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  • Defending Your Life (1991)
  • Jimi Hendrix (1973)
  • The Smallest Show on Earth (1957)
    Those were simple times.
  • The `burbs (1989)
    Proving you can't put a price on quality.
  • Leap of Faith (1992)
    Dreadfully unfunny, and only so-so as a drama. Still, it isn't Sgt. Bilko, and a youngish Philip Seymour Hoffman appears as wel as Meat Loaf and Liam Neeson (with a very poorly disguised accent).
  • Octopussy (1983)
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  • The Italian Job (1969)
  • Bubble (2005/I)
  • The Terminator (1984)
  • Dr. No (1962)
    I'm less embarrassed about being a Roger Moore fan as a child after re-watching this. Ursula Andress is really the best thing it's got going for it. Pacing is slow, design incredibly dull, and, worst of all, repeated, agonizing use of caucasian actors as Chinese, including Dr. No himself. How can you tell they're supposed to be Chinese? Through bamboo set decorations and dark, slanty eyeshadow.
  • Red Dragon (2002)
    Whoops- I've actually seen this before. I grabbed it as part two in my pre-X3 evaluation of Brett Ratner. After The Sunset actually wasn't bad, and neither was this (although some scenes with Emily Watson and Ralph Fiennes are unintentionally funny). I'm starting to get a litle more hopeful...which may ultimately lead to my downfall. We'll find out May 26 (and hey, if X3 disappoints, Rattner fans can look forward to Rush Hour 3 in 2007 ... ugh).
  • The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (2004)
    I would say pass on this one. The Ken Burns style is played out, so it's neither funny nor engaging. The film itself is provocative, I guess, but not particularly brilliant nor illuminating. A couple of the fake ads that play throughout are a little closer to what I was expecting, but overall I found it to be a bore.
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000)
  • After the Sunset (2004)
  • X-Men (2000)
  • The Graduate (1967)
  • Lost in Translation (2003)
  • Girls Town (1959)
    Mel Torme, Paul Anka, and Mamie Van Doren (as "Silver," not the horse) in a tale of teenagers gone wild. Courtesy of MST3K.
  • Stander (2003)
    This was not a bad film, though the transition from South African riots (in which Arrested Development's Tom Jane, as policeman Andre Stander, guns down an unarmed African) to wacky costumed bank robberies (replete with David Holmes soundtrack a la Soderbergh) is more than a little rough.
  • Reign of Fire (2002)
    I like this movie a lot more than I should, even though the end is so anti-climactic. Features a very Batman-esque Christian Bale, a brief appearance from Alice "The Borg Queen" Krige as his mother, and Doctor Bashir himself, Alexander Siddig. Matthew McConaughey is nearly tolerable since his character is supposed to be an obnoxious American. It's just too bad they couldn't have padded this out with a little more plot.
  • Coral Reef Adventure (2003)
    PRETTY. Though as usual, it's all IMAX'ed up in stupid ways, particularly with silly sound effects (which, admittedly, were featured in a super-awesome surround mix).
  • Being There (1979)
    After three viewings I have a reading of the film that I feel fairly confident about (though I believe there could be many more layers, specifically relating to popular conspiracy theories and the name Rand). The closing shot of this movie tends to dazzle and confound, but pay close attention to the President's eulogy and the plotting of the pallbearers, there's a lot being said about faith and the power structure of America in this film. Also it's occasionally pretty funny. Apparently Sellers didn't like the blooper reel that runs over the end credits, but I think it's wonderful.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  • RoboCop 2 (1990)
    Sometimes when you're a fifteen year old boy, movies seem really cool even though they're not. The fake commercials are (mostly) still funny, but for the most part this is tedious and, of course, full of gratuitous violence.
  • Mulholland Dr. (2001)
    I really think that for the most part this is David Lynch's best film. It's fairly coherent despite some truly absurd and bizarre moments, a doubly-impressive feat considering that it was adapted from a television pilot. I like it because it has some very mundane silliness (primarily in Naomi Watts' "gee whiz" personality) along with touches of serious freakiness and mysterious thematic elements that bear repeated viewing and consideration.
  • Unbreakable (2000)
    Still love this movie. The DVD looks kind of washed out, unfortunately.
  • De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (2005)
    This was okay; I didn't feel strongly one way or the other about it.
  • 2046 (2004)
    Hmmm. I had high expectations for this film and it left me feeling pretty ambivalent. Of the Wong Kar-Wai films I've seen (only about three now), the only one I can say I truly enjoyed was In The Mood For Love. I was going to watch Days of Being Wild next but perhaps I'll skip it. For the record, the sci-fi content of this film takes up only about 15 minutes of total screen time, so the previews and DVD packaging are misleading in that regard. That and the fact that Tony Leung's character is totally unlikable left me somewhat confused, but mostly just cold.
  • Charlie's Angels (2000)
    Only the finest for this gent.
  • Out of Sight (1998)
    I'll always remember this as the film to which I lost my George Clooney viriginity (it's also one of several wonderful films that pair Luis Guzman and Don Cheadle, including Boogie Nights and Soderbergh's Traffic). This would've been my first exposure to J. Lo, as well, though I can't say I've followed her career with the same level of interest. The cast is uniformly excellent, esecially Ving Rhames, Albert Brooks, Dennis Farina, Catherine Keener, and even Michael Keaton as a clueless boyfriend. David Holmes' repeated use of the Isley's "Fight The Power" bassline in the score doesn't hurt things, either. This is just a great, great film all over the place.
  • Batman Begins (2005)
    Holds up on a second viewing. It's too long, but then I don't know if it would have the same impact if it was cut.
  • A Mighty Wind (2003)
  • Shaun of the Dead (2004)
    I'm all about the zombies. The Office's Lucy Davis is in this along with a cameo from Martin Freeman. Skip the DVD extras, though, they're lame. I didn't know you could make a blooper real that dull.
  • Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)
    Underwhelming crime/buddy movie featuring a 20-year old Catherine Bach for about two scenes (she's given third billing).
  • Dawn of the Dead (2004)
    Now this is what mindless entertainment is all about. I'm totally going to read Stephen King's zombie thriller Cell as a result. I can't help it: I like zombies.
  • Wedding Crashers (2005)
    Another tedious, by-the-numbers flick in which wild party guy is suddenly changed by an incredible woman who enters his life, only to discover his horrible secret/lie which he has to atone for by bungie-jumping off a bridge strapped to a shark, or, in this case, interrupting his best friend's wedding. Only the fact that Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan star made this at all watchable. Bradley Cooper as "Sack Lodge" is grotesque, much like Bradley Cooper was in the now-cancelled TV series "Kitchen Confidential." That guy is really irritating. Isla Fisher is a standout as a psychotic clingy nympho stereotype that's actually funny.
  • Millions (2004)
  • Project Grizzly (1996)
    This is kind of like Driver 23 but not as fascinating or well done. I don't feel like we ever get to know Troy, instead the doc focuses more on action, and his fast-talking nonsense is rarely as humorous as it is confusing. Still, I'm glad it finally came out on DVD; I've been wanting to see it for nearly ten years since it first showed at the U Film Society.
  • A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)
    I had not seen this one before and didn't find it particularly engaging. There's a couple laughs, but as another Woody Allen look at adultery it falls flat with characters who are neither as compelling as his better dramatic creations nor as entertaining as his comedic ones.
  • Match Point (2005)
    This was, indeed, the major improvement over his recent work that critics have said it is. First good Woody Allen film since 1999's Sweet and Lowdown, although misogyny persists as the underlying theme to his work, sadly.
  • Sin City (2005)
    The gore wasn't as repulsive as I thought it would be; in fact, the most offensive thing about this film was the dull, laborious voice-over. It made me tired.
  • Un chien andalou (1929)
    Be warned, the recent DVD release of this is really crappy, with a pointless, choppy commentary (how hard is it to prepare for a world-famous 17-minute short?), and two brief interviews with Bunuel's son that shed only a teensy bit of light on the subject at hand (the second interview inexplicably focuses on describing what a horrible person Dali was). Also, two still frames and a paragraph by Dave McKean do not a DVD extra make. Save your $20.
  • Grizzly Man (2005)
    Holy Christ, Timothy Treadwell is so incredibly annoying, self-serving, and paranoid, that it's hard not to take a certain perverse pleasure in the knowledge that he died; however, the fact that he dragged someone else into his fantasy and got her killed is really sick. Herzog's narration is sometimes interesting, often hilarious. He makes a pretty good doc, here, but a little more info about how in the Hell Treadwell financed his lifestyle would've been appreciated. The bonus feature on the making of the soundtrack (with Richard Thompson and Jim O'Rourke) is worth sticking around for.
  • Hitch (2005)
    It doesn't know when to end, but for a stupid Hollywood romcom, this wasn't all-bad. Music by Alan Elliott, who's doing Bob Odenkirk's new film.
  • The Big Lebowski (1998)
    Anoher viewing of this isn't a bad way to pass the time when you've been nearly incapacitated for three days in a row.
  • The Straight Story (1999)
    A bit more Lynch-esque than I recalled (also a bit preachy), but still enjoyable and surprising. I think the only real mistake here is casting Harry Dean Stanton as Alvin's brother, and can a man raised in Moorhead, Minnesota really grow up to be the kind of guy who pronounces Iowa "Io-way?" I don't know, but I really love the John Deere sale between Farnsworth and Twin Peaks' Everett McGill.
  • The Brothers Grimm (2005)
    I liked this better the second time. It's certainly not Gilliam's greatest, and it's hard not to wonder what would've been if Samantha Morton had played Angelika, Pecorini hadn't been canned, and Matt Damon had been uglified a little, but it's not a bad film. Peter Stormare's hamming actually becomes endearing and the plot has a certain fairy-tale logic to it while retaining certain Gilliamesque qualities. I think the weakest part of it is the very end, with Monica Belluci chewing up and spitting out stupid "mirror, mirror, on the wall" dialogue, but I've been known to overlook bad performances/lines before (*ahem*Hellboy*kaff*kaff*) in the interest of the greater awesomeness. Really looking forward to Tideland, if it ever gets distribution. Apparently Michael Palin told Gilliam "Either this is the best movie you've made, or your worst!"
  • The Fifth Element (1997)
    So good they had to name a hip-hop record store after it! Unfortunately I wasn't in the right mood for this and just wanted to go to bed, but since we now own it (mistake?) I'll have plenty of opportunities to try again (I do get a chuckle knowing how much George Lucas ripped this film off for his Star Wars prequels). On the technical side, the "Ultimate Edition" transfer is really good and there were some pretty sweet surround effects (actual real-life helicopter fly-by notwithstanding).
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
    "Total puke-fest." I hated this movie about as much as I thought I would, if not more.
  • Starship Troopers (1997)
    From director Paul Verhoeven, the genius who brought us such classics as RoboCop, Basic Instinct, and, oh yes, Showgirls. This is slightly less ironically humorous now that Neil Patrick Harris has honed his bad-self in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, and "How I Met Your Mother," but it is still somewhat entertaining. It's the intermittent web/TV ads that make this movie watchable, hitting home the fact this is at least a semi-self-aware critique of militaristic fascist society, taken further as the main characters get promoted and fall in love based on who dies around them, and Sir Doogie dons a uniform that's pure SS. Otherwise, if you really enjoy watching two-dimensional characters shooting CGI alien bugs for hours at a time, this is the movie for you (or maybe Doom is, but I haven't seen it and don't plan to).
  • A Boy and His Dog (1975)
    Yeah- that wasn't so good. I mean, fine if you're a lonely, woman-hating man, probably, but not so great for the rest of us. Although seeing Don Johnson hooked up to a semen-extracting machine is kind of funny.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
    A little less crazy about this after seeing it a second time. The pacing is really jerky, especially toward the beginning, where the music is particularly distracting. I think if they'd let things play out a little more leisurely this would' ve been a top-notch adaptation. Instead, it barely holds together as a string of gags which might have more impact if the character relationships were allowed to grow naturally rather than getting quickly forced. It's too bad, because there are aspects of the film that I really enjoy, but on closer inspection there's some pretty flimsy stuff (the Humma Kavula subplot goes nowhere, for one major example).
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
    I'm still not sure how the Coens went from this triumph to Ladykillers in just four painful years; fortunately this one just seems better upon every viewing.
  • After the Thin Man (1936)
    The first sequel ups the ante with young Jimmy Stewart and "cute" racist puppy-dog antics.
  • Hellboy (2004)
    Giant. Space. Demons.
  • My Summer of Love (2004)
    The summertime coming-of-age movie is a mini-genre unto itself; this one throws some disturbing religious fervor and pansexuality into the mix. Some unsettling twists keep this movie interesting and ultimately quite satisfying -- lifting it up from the depths of arty video lolita-porn that it might otherwise lurk in.
  • Microcosmos: Le peuple de l'herbe (1996)
    Unlike The Island, this is eye-candy that doesn't make you feel dirty. It's a natural wonder.
  • The Party (1968)
    Like so many of both Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers films, this is very slow moving and a bit low on actual comedy. Still, it has its moments.
  • The Island (2005)
    Stupid movie, but it looked really great on my new TV. Clearly this is the evil of having a new TV, because I will sit though junk like this only because it awes me with flashing lights and moving images.
  • The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
    Wow- Asia and Michael McDonald! There's a lot of cheap gags in this, but there was enough good stuff to help it go down. Add it to "the good" over there in the '05 recap.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
    The first forty minutes are promising, but the following two-thirds of the film takes a turn for the tedious with endless action scenes and little to no plot.
  • Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
    There's some silly, stupid stuff in this, but it's still pretty fun.
  • Kitten with a Whip (1964)
    MST3K version. Ann-Margret! The voice of Charlie! Humorous teenage slang! And a totally unbelievable plot!
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
    Add this to "the bad." It wasn't awful, but it was a fairly unimaginative courtroom drama with horror elements via flashbacks. One of those flashbacks is truly frightening, which is a rare, rare thing these days. So, points for that, but Laura Linney, Campbell Scott, and Tom Wilkinson have nothing to work with here.
  • Legend (1985)
    This succeeds as a fairy tale for neither children nor adults. The director's cut doesn't help much, either. Parts of it look really cool, but for the most part it's bogged down by nonsense dialogue, character, and plot. Not much left to go on, then.
  • Murder by Death (1976)
    "Conversation like television set on honeymoon: unnecessary."
  • Better Off Dead... (1985)
    I'm so pleased to report that this movie is still incredibly funny. This time I noticed that the woman singing during the high school dance is Elizabeth Daily, better known as Dottie from Pee Wee's Big Adventure, who is also the voice of Buttercup on the Powerpuff Girls (and some of you might remember Loryn in Valley Girl). Turns out she's released at least four albums as E.G. Daily. Also, R.I.P. Vincent Schiavelli (seen here as the motivational geometry teacher who briefly dates John Cusack's ex-girlfriend).
  • Rock School (2005)
    Where's that documentary about a guy who isn't a total jerk? Bonus: in deleted scenes you find out that Paul Green is insane, as well as egomaniacal and tantrum-prone (hint: conspiracy theories).
  • The Matrix (1999)
  • The Mouse That Roared (1959)
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
    That's Captain Sulu, thankyouverymuch.
  • King Kong (2005)
    When I first heard that Peter Jackson was re-remaking King Kong, my heart sunk a little. I was sure there was no such thing as a good King Kong movie. And I was right. The first ten minutes or so are pretty engaging, with a submersive Depression-era New York environment that makes a boat journey to an uncharted island actually seem like a pretty reasonable thing. From there, though, the dirty natives and endless, dialogue-free monster battles take over and boredom sets in with a vengeance. The primary failing of the film (besides the need for extreme trimming) is that it wants the audience to feel empathy with a gigantic ape. Sorry- no can do. A very few moments work in the film, but at times I found myself wondering if Jackson even understands the basic fundamentals of filmmaking. Overuse of a low-frame rate technique was distracting and at times hilarious (watch Adrien Brody typing "S-K-U-L-L Island" for an examle of how not to build a dramatic scene). Also, as in the War of the Worlds remake we just watched, glossy-eyed fascination with special effects is demolishing not just storytelling and character, but even the tension-building that effects are used to "enhance". It's hard to feel engaged and excited when regular people suddenly become CGI moppets (a la Spider-Man) with physics-bending acrobatic skills, who miraculously survive dinosaur stampedes, falls from cliffs, and tommygun bullets. I actually found myself wishing Jack Black to die. Spend three hours doing something else, trust me, this film is an empty, time-sucking vortex that's best avoided.
  • Murderball (2005)
    This film really bothered me at first because it was much more of a sports film than a documentary about quadriplegics, and stars Mark Zupan and Joe Soares were idiots and assholes. Also, lingering on the retarded sexual attitudes of these guys to make the audience see how "normal" they are was really irritating. It gets a lot better, though, even with the bad audio (hint: when people start screaming at the games, and they always scream, dial the levels down!). Not all of the guys turn out to be macho meatheads, and there's a particularly lovely sequence about one man's dream of flying. Once you get past the gratuitous use of Ministry, Jamie Saft's score is very nice, and apparently there was a Sea & Cake song in there, too. For a more informational and political film about people with disabilities, look to local filmmaker Billy Golfus' When Billy Broke His Head.
  • Brokeback Mountain (2005)
    Movie of the year? There are some lame Hollywood touches to this film (Anne Hathaway, in particular, is misplaced here), but for the most part this lives up to the expectations set, but not acheived, by so many other Oscar contenders (I'm thinking of Million Dollar Baby in particular). Now let's just hope this actually turns out to be an Oscar contender. Go see it right now!!!
  • Bad Timing (1980)
    Fascinating, maddening, and disturbing; I already need to see it again. Hey, is that Art Garfunkel's ass?!?
  • War of the Worlds (2005)
    Tim Robbins is unintentionally hilarious, for the most part there is no plot, and the characters are all pretty one-dimensional. Eliminate the Morgan Freeman narration at the beginning and end, get rid of the tired broken family dynamics, recast Tom Cruise, and you'd have a pretty good horror flick. The film is basically an excercise in fear. For a high-profile Steven Spielberg film, though, wow: Paramount & Co. didn't get their money's worth.
  • Saving Face (2004)
    This movie rules. Sure, it's a sweet little non-risk-taking romcom "chick-flick" sort of deal, but it's well done and gives Chinese-American lesbians some much needed exposure. Uh, ahem. Yes. It maybe wraps things up too neatly in a bow at the end, but, you know, it's been a shitty year in many ways and this is a good Christmas gift. P.S. Joan Chen is not believable as a 48 year old. She's apparently 44 years old but has always looked ten years younger. P.P.S. Star Michelle Krusiec played a character called, I shit you not, "Ching Chong" in the 2003 prequel nobody asked for, "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd."
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
    Pretty good flick. Almost lived up to the thrill of the trailer. I was mainly disturbed by two things: (1) the goading of Peter into becoming a warrior (especially from Mr. Beaver), and (2) Older Peter's uncanny resemblance to Burger King.
  • Addams Family Values (1993)
    I can't believe I'd never seen this movie before. Christine Baranski and Peter MacNicol are brilliant as hideously perky camp counselors Becky and Gary, Mercedes McNab returns in a much larger role, and pre-stardom appearances by Tony Shalhoub, Cynthia Nixon, David Krumholtz, and David Hyde Pierce are somewhat amusing (as is Peter Graves' great cameo). They even cast Nathan Lane in a small role as a (snicker) cop. Creating a much funnier, sardonic mood than the first Addams' film, Joan Cusack gets her one turn as a sexy mankiller (more of this!) and Christina Ricci shines in an Oscar-worthy moment when Wednesday attempts to smile for the first time. Sheer genius.
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
    Beautifully filmed by Sven Nykvist with excellent performances from Martin Landau & Co., this troubling movie means something different to me each time I see it.
  • Death to Smoochy (2002)
    I'm sorry, Ed Norton and Catherine Keener are just too adorable.
  • Wizards of the Demon Sword (1991)
    It really did get this bad. But, hey- there's Twin Peaks' Russ Tamblyn (Dr. Jacoby)! And Lyle Waggoner, who looks oddly familiar because he was on every single TV show ever made.
  • House of Wax (2005)
    How do you pass the time when you're feeling really crappy? With the gruesome death of Paris Hilton, that's how. Some novel effects at the end almost make up for the drudgery of the rest of this film. Could Jaume become America's hottest young director? Mmm...probly not.
  • The Interpreter (2005)
    Meh. I've seen worse. And better.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
    I have a lot of opinions about this but neither the time nor the energy to share them. Perhaps later. In short: a mixed bag.
  • Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
    I'm glad I didn't save this for a potential '80s movie fun fest, because it just isn't very fun. Sure, the camera exaggeratedly ogles a half-naked Lea Thompson, Elias Koteas is hilarious as a leather-clad "bad boy," the whole cast looks like they're about thirty years old, and Thompson's character is constantly referred to by her full name "Amanda Jones," which is reinforced by a soundtrack that features the Rolling Stones song "Miss Amanda Jones" both in its original version and in a horrible cover by a band called "The March Violets," who actually appear in the film. I mean, there are a few good laughs, but overall the film is just awful, with a stupid, unbelievable plot. John Hughes' greatest sin is perpetuating the notion that anything that happens in high school actually matters.
  • The Addams Family (1991)
    Not so great, but not so bad that it isn't good for a lazy Saturday afternoon. Besides, this time I noticed that Mercedes McNab ("Harmony" from Buffy/Angel) plays the girl scout.
  • Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (2005)
    Sweet, sweet Sarah. The Big S. Honestly, the real thing was better, but how could it not be? I'm disappointed by Liam Lynch's editing and pacing skills; here's hoping he does better with "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny." Okay, but still....Sarah Silverman on the big screen? Oh, yeah.
  • Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
    Lovely, obstinately quirky film about loneliness.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of 'Smile' (2004) (TV)
    A bona fide miracle. I had no idea Brian struggled so much even after he'd made the decision to go ahead and finish the project. I feel truly lucky (blessed?) to have seen Smile performed live. Also: it's funny the way Brian seems dismissive of Roger Daltrey, or unaware of who he is, or possibly just indifferent.
  • The Thin Man (1934)
    Ahhhh...goes down smooth.
  • Lost In La Mancha (2002)
    In a way this is more upsetting than it was when it first came out, because it looks like The Man Who Killed Don Quixote would've been way, way better than The Brothers Grimm. In some ways the production looks like less of a mess the second time around; I think if it hadn't been for Rochefort's health problems the film would've been made. Rochefort, by the way, has been in at least ten movies since Quixote was grounded.
  • Ruang rak noi nid mahasan (2003)
    What starts out seeming like a crisp, HD video update of Harold & Maude turns out to be a much looser, slow, abstract film. Not without it's merits, but ultimately it feels more like a pretty distraction than a significant film. Good for a few laughs, but I feel like a film this glacial needs more substance to justify itself.
  • "The Office" (2001)
    Hard to believe I went from indifference to laughter, captivation, and tears, but there you go. I watched the end of series two and the special today and was completely bowled over. Loved it. Wish there was more but am thankful they didn't plow this into the ground.
  • Vera Drake (2004)
    Excellent, well done drama. I feel like a crucial connection between Vera and her husband is missing from the end, and there's a long set-up in the film that makes you feel like you're heading for a sadistic Lars Von Trier show, but it never feels cheap or cruel, merely harsh and true-to-life.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
    Very much enjoyed this the second time. I sort of have a problem with the "you can get a second chance!" idea but I think that this is thematically overshdowed by the much more important idea that our memories make us who we are, and to lose our past hurts is a much bigger pain than holding on to them. Not exactly profound, but it's told in such an engaging way, here.
  • MirrorMask (2005)
    A bit underwhelming storywise, but worth every moment visually. Nice voice cameo by Stephen Fry as the librarian. Turns out this is not Dave McKean's first foray into film, he did two shorts previously, including one called N[eon], with John Cale narrating. Neato.
  • No Direction Home: Bob Dylan - A Martin Scorsese Picture (2005) (TV)
    This was pretty damn good, as it turns out. Audio is amazing. Also: thank God for Liam Clancy.
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
  • Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley (2004)
    While this did give me an appreciation for Buckley's music that I didn't have before, it was pretty light on information, with the complete absence of any mention of his father.
  • The Brian Epstein Story (1998) (TV)
    I'm really glad I saw this, although the director's cut was just too long and I could see plenty of places to trim it.
  • Hello Down There (1969)
    Everyone needs to see this movie, or about half of it, anyway. "Hands out of the fun zone."
  • Serenity (2005)
    Joss Whedon, why do you go out of your way to hurt me? I don't believe in Hell, but I can only hope that there is a special place there where you will spend a very long time. That said, he still managed to make a better sci-fi film than all the Star Wars prequels combined.
  • The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (2004) (TV)
    Not nearly as good as you'd expect based on the title.
  • Evil Under the Sun (1982)
    Good movie for a lazy, rainy, Sunday afternoon.
  • Layer Cake (2004)
    I kow people really like this kind of thing --Premiere's Glen Kenny calls it "hilarious and genuinely cool," but I found it neither hilarious nor cool (genuinely?) -- just some hard-boiled vignettes told non-sequentially with some inappropriate Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance) music thrown in for no apparent reason.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
    Interesting that the film differs from the book in having Snape protect the kids from Lupin after he turns into a werewolf...foreshadowing..?
  • Great Moments in Aviation (1993) (TV)
    Great lines in film history, Vanessa Redgrave: "it's my steel-plated emergency bible." A charming, odd little film written by novelist Jeanette Winterson, also starring John Hurt and Jonathan Pryce, billed as a British mystery set on a boat, but really a coming-of-age story for Virgin Islander Gabriel Angel, a young woman hoping to become a pilot like her late father.
  • Love Actually (2003)
    The ULTIMATE romantic comedy! Wow! Pretty much what I was expecting: some very funny bits that prevented the film from becoming a total waste of time, as well as a lot of predictable, sappy, junk. Wasn't expecting such a long running time and unresolved plot threads. Bill Nighy is totally hilarious as washed-up rock singer Billy Mack, and you can't go wrong with a little Martin Freeman and Alan Rickman. I am a total sucker for Alan Rickman. I sure hope Snape isn't evil. Sigh.
  • Kinsey (2004)
    "I think about my cat...a lot." Highly entertaining and well-done, except for a stupid floating-heads-on-top-of-a-map montage. Should've been up for the best picture Oscar in place of Finding Neverland, at the very least.
  • DiG! (2004)
    Nothing I'd heard about this film could prepare me for the incredible fuck-uppedness of Anton Newcombe. His rival/friend Courtney from the Dandy Warhols is no less self-absorbed, and frequently irritating, if relatively harmless. What struck me above all, though, was how completely generic and uninteresting the music was; I had really expected a lot better from BJM. The only thing that was even remotely interesting was ex-Warhols drummer Eric Hedford's band Telephone, and that was only in the DVD extras.
  • L.A. Story (1991)
    Still very enjoyable (and endearing), though Sarah J Parker is a little more grating than she used to be. I can't believe the director went on to make The Bodyguard after this.
  • The Brothers Grimm (2005)
    This was absolutely no disappointment. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but not a single Gilliam film (no matter how much I love them) is. Heath Ledger is really great (who knew?) and Peter Stormare (who we just saw as the devil in Constantine) is very entertaining in what could've been a really cheap, stupid role. The climax was a tad sloppy and they should've uglified Mr. Damon a bit, but overall I was pleasantly surprised. If this is Gilliam's "sell-out" movie it's only in the casting of Monica Bellucci and the story cohesion (but then, as Kelly pointed out, it is a fairy tale). It's very funny and often scary, not to mention incredibly gross. Gilliam has made a film "for children of all ages" indeed, so I hope that spotty bastard is getting some serious green for this. Go see it! Ignore the bad reviews; some people just don't know how to have fun anymore.
  • Constantine (2005)
    For mindless entertainment, this wasn't too bad. Also: Gavin Rossdale makes a much better actor than a singer.
  • Prozac Nation (2001)
    I am alone-- I am utterly alone. By the time you read this, I will be gone, having jumped having plummeted off the winter river bridge.
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
    I sure wanted to like this, and it has its moments, but overall I didn't get much more out of this than I would any other Hollywood teen (or teen-plus) comedy. I don't get all the fuss about it. Fun fact (courtesy of IMDb): The movie that Goldstein and Rosenberg are watching, in which Katie Holmes is shown topless, is The Gift, also starring Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves, Greg Kinnear, and Hilary Swank, directed by Sam Raimi, and co-written by Billy Bob Thornton.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
    Here's where director Chris Columbus' shortcomings really shine. Thank God for the great casting and production design, even if they're largely wasted here.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
    Despite its flaws (bad CGI, awkward kid actors) I enjoyed this a lot more the second time, mainly because my Harry Potter geekiness has increased threefold since then.
  • Broken Flowers (2005)
    I was kind of disappointed by this film, but not as much as most of the audience probably will be. My tendency toward Jarmusch is to want to like his films, but we're talking about a guy who managed to get me to hate Neil Young for awhile. I loved Ghost Dog, and I did enjoy myself through this movie, but it ultimately left me feeling cold.
  • Be Cool (2005)
    I never thought I'd say that The Rock was the best part of a movie. Tedious.
  • Sweethearts (1996)
    This movie is so college, and so '90s (most of the film takes place in a coffee shop and there's a cameo from Stephen Malkmus as the requisite guy-with-a-guitar).  Mitch Rouse (one of the original creators of Strangers With Candy) and Janeane Garofalo star as insular thirtysomethings who meet through personals ads (there is a passing reference to "e-mail" but this is clearly before online dating took off).  It was weirdly engaging, even though it was frequently unbelievable, and I could've done without Bobcat Goldthwait's masturbating.  A lot of Garofalo's dialogue sounds like material she used to do in her stand-up act, or even in interviews, which makes it more than a little unsettling. I'm glad she's still alive and well, but honey, you were never fat.
  • Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
    The cheesier moments of this film do not hold up well, but I still have a soft spot for it on many levels, not the least of which was my experience seeing it for the first time. We were at Crossroads Pavillions on opening night with a theater full of hardcore Star Trek geeks (costumes? yes.). The opening credits rolled and fans cheered (with a few groans at Mr. Frakes' dual acting/directing credits) - the spectacular opening shot gave way to a whole new era in Star Trek motion picture quality (an era, as it turns out, which lasted for exactly one film)...and then there was no dialogue. Somehow the music/effects track was working but the dialogue track was kaput. A near riot ensued until finally the good theater folks got it working again. They re-started at the beginning, and it turned out to be a really good Star Trek movie. The End. P.S. Why no deleted scenes on the "Special Collector's Edition" DVD?
  • Word Wars (2004)
    Much better than Spellbound, which people were all ga-ga for. Makes a nice companion piece to Vinyl (weird, unkempt, obsessive men with no discernible source of income).
  • Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
  • Mystery Men (1999)
    I now understand why I have never seen this movie before. It has such a great cast and a few good ideas that are wasted on a "parody" of the Joel Schumacher Batman films but which ends up feeling more like a shitty homage. I did enjoy the obscure William Shatner references ("Please don't correct me, it sickens me."), but we split this up over two nights and it still felt too long.
  • Vinyl (2000)
    What the Hell is Don McKellar doing in this guy's apartment? The world may never know. Vinyl is a movie partly about obsessive record collectors, partly about director Alan Zweig. It's occasionally illuminating, occasionally tedious, but worth seeing for great moments, such as when one subject of the documentary gets pissed off at Zweig for accidentally stepping on one of the dozens of piles of records lying on his floor. Dude- you left 'em there.
  • Bedazzled (1967)
    Great, great film. It's refreshing to see something like this after so many awful experiences with zany/psychedelic '60s films (Casino Royale, What's New, Pussycat? etc.).
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
    This and the Indiana Jones series are the only reasons I ever bother to give a shit about Steven Spielberg. I know he's capable of something amazing, but after countless failures like Minority Report and A.I. it's hard to even care when he makes a new "spectacular" film. This film is a brilliant excercise in pacing, anticipation, and tension, with a huge payoff. And, thank God, the DVD version excises the horrible "When You Wish Upon A Star" ending that was tacked on in 1980 and included in most VHS releases.
  • Marche de l'empereur, La (2005)
    One of the previews was for another great-looking nature film coming up, Deep Blue, and I like to think that there will be a resurgence in nature films as the spectacle of effects-laden films of the last decade (plus) grows a little wearisome. Unfortunately, that preview was followed by one for MirrorMask which is extremely effects driven and looks super sweet, so I could be totally wrong. Can't we all just get along? Anyway, the penguin film was pretty great. Try and see it in an empty theater, though.
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
    An orgy of sound and vision, this needs to be seen on the big screen (helllloooooo Oak St.!).
  • Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)
    "I'm not a really egotistical person. In fact I've...I've spent a large amount of my time trying to like, downplay my ego and get it even smaller and smaller. That's part of my beliefs." --Kirk Hammett
    "I would say, you know, if you said 'if you were our advisor, what would you say?' then I would say 'delete that.'" --Torben Ulrich
  • Matilda (1996)
    Films like this make me thankful for Danny DeVito. I do prefer the nonmagical first half, but was highly entertained by Mikey's Napalm Death and Judas Priest shirts. It's those little touches of reality that really work.
  • Hollow Reed (1996)
    Bob Dylan, Paul Weller, and Elvis Costello on the soundtrack? Check. Hot gay sex? Check. Custody battle? Check. Child abuse? You know that's a check. Martin Donovan with a casually unconvincing British accent? Yep. I saw this movie at the Suburban World, as I recall, several years back now and enjoyed it quite a bit. It holds up well, though the end gets a little choked up in melodrama.
  • We Don't Live Here Anymore (2004)
    I can't say I exactly enjoyed this film but I didn't hate it, either. The score by Michael Convertino (who also did the lovely soundtrack to Mother Night) was definitely the best performance in a film centered around four generally beloved actors: Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, and Peter "Six Feet Under" Krause.  For my money, this was the first film since Mulholland Drive that showed Watts living up to the potential of her sudden fame.  She was fine in I Heart Huckabees but had a pretty lightweight role, and I felt she was overwrought in 21 Grams and unremarkable in The Assassination of Richard Nixon (fuck The Ring).  Krause is the most unlikable character in the film, but I never really understood where Watts was coming from, Dern's character was wholly unbelievable (a heavy drinking housewife who lives off her professor husbands' salary?), and Ruffalo pretty much carried the thing but wasn't sympathetic, either.  His general lack of direction, empathy, and mistaking lust for love were believable but hard to forgive.  A somewhat interesting, unoriginal, dour portrait of marriage.  Not recommended for summer nights, even the stormy ones.
  • The Baby (1973)
    Where to begin?  This movie is actually more fucked-up than I imagined it would be, with infantilism, incest, murder, and more.  Baby is a pre-linguistic, full-grown man kept in diapers by his (transsexual?) mother and horny sisters.  The main drama of the film unfolds as a brown-skirted social worker tries to determine if Baby is genuinely mentally retarded or a victim of abuse.  An unsurprising "twist" at the end makes the whole thing pretty incomprehensible and proves that it was merely an excercise in titilating obviously I loved it.
  • Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
    Among the half-dozen recent Ben Stiller films, I think this one was the best. Granted, it has one of the flimsiest plots in film history (even if it is intentional), and there are a few really cheap moments that I could do with out, the fact is that it was really freaking hilarious. Vince Vaughan even manages to inject a little heart into the thing. Hank Azaria's cameo is brilliant and Alan Tudyk needs more work! Here's looking forward to Serenity. Note: Stiller's best work seems to come from ripping himself off. Zoolander was very much based on his "Melrose Heights 90210-2402" characters, and White Goodman is very close to his Tony Robbins spoof, "The Let-Go Clinic with Tony Bobbins."
  • Collateral (2004)
    Michael Mann would like to think that he makes smart, dramatic thrillers.  He is wrong. There's almost the makings of a good film, here, and Jamie Foxx is really good, but the Tom Cruise character is laughable and irritating and in the end devolves into the Terminator.
  • The Yes Men (2003)
    It was fine, but I guess I was expecting a little more. A humorous performance in front of a small group of unidentified people (are they really "the world's leading textiles businesspeople?") does not an earth-shattering act of guerilla theater make. Repeatedly insisting that these guys are famous and important does not make them important. A few parts are pretty entertaining, but I'm looking forward to seeing The Corporation for something a little meatier. I will refrain from making any pronouncements about Chris Smith until I see Home Movie and American Job.
  • Batman Begins (2005)
    I was very slow to warm to this film since the beginning is poorly paced, long, and seemingly stuck in director Christopher Nolan's last film, Insomnia, but by the end I was fairly pleased. I haven't seen Nolan's first feature, Following, but I'm a pretty big fan of Memento and now Batman Begins. Hopefully Insomnia will have turned out to be an aberration, his first Hollywood picture fuck-up. This gives me a little hope that there is life after X2. If they make another, my only suggestion would be to tone down Bale's gruff Batman voice (he makes a great Bruce Wayne) and maybe resist the temptation to do the Joker. However, the cold-water shock of Scarecrow's pharmaceutical attack method portrayed in this film makes me think they could take just about any super villain to a rather distinct new place. Batman Begins suffers from a certain amount of overkill and coldness, but a number of convincingly human interactions between characters saves it from the brink of Schumacher-ness, especially thanks to Morgan Freeman, once again in the thankless Tonto role that is his forte. Gary Oldman, too, was a nice touch. He was oddly reminiscent of Brian Michael Bendis' version of Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich in Daredevil. Maybe Nolan can revamp that would-be series in a few years, too. Please?
  • Shark Tale (2004)
    Flimsy story bogged down with random stupid cultural references and tons of contemporary slang that will give this film a shelf life of approximately seven months. It looked really cool, though.
  • Finding Neverland (2004)
    I can't believe this was nominated for so many Academy Awards. We shut it off about twenty minutes in.
  • Hotel Rwanda (2004)
    I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut on this one. (Er...I lied, there's some commentary buried in here.)
  • Closer (2004)
    Uneven but often riveting. The word of the day is "riveting."
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (2005)
    Finally got out to see it. Fun, imperfect (how could it not be?) attempt to bring Adams to the big screen. I didn't approve of the opening credits dolphin song, but I enjoyed the Neil Hannon reprise at the end.
  • Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
    I saw this again today in the digital theater at Eden Prairie Center, and I honestly couldn't tell the difference (in other words, there's no need to trek out to the 'burbs, despite what George Lucas and Rob Nelson will have you believe). It was slightly less awful this time around, but the general impression I get is that Lucas couldn't really handle the "dark" subject matter, so he fucked it up with a lot of dumb robots and a froggy-voiced Emperor. The last thing this film needed was endless comic relief; it just bogs the whole thing down (though this ties it in nicely with the first two prequels). UPDATE: Apparently Mister Nelson saw a digital projection in Cannes (natch) which was indeed far superior to the Eden Prairie experience. Apparently not all digital theaters are created equal.
  • Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
    This might've been a fun movie if they'd reeled in Jim Carrey. If he and Robin Williams ever teamed up it would be the end of the world, if not the entire galaxy. On the bright side, I just saw a preview for The Chronicles of Narnia, which looks really good and has no obnoxious American stars in it.
  • Sideways (2004)
    Second time I've seen this film in a month. Still love it.
  • Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)
    I was worried that I was setting myself up for major disappointment over this film. Turns out I was right. I think I might wait and try to see it again before I write anymore about this.
  • "Battlestar Galactica" (2003) (mini)
    Much better than I was expecting, for the most part. An adolescent obsession with sex and pretend swear words were distracting, though; I hope the regular series isn't as riddled with that junk. A+ for the dykey-but-straight female overhaul of Starbuck, and the presence of Last Night's Callum Keith Rennnie. Special effects: ultra good for cartoony CGI, though some of the stylistic choices are blatant ripoffs of Firefly. Only other complaint: obvious mistakes left in for no apparent reason (i.e. did not add element of "verite," just seemed sloppy). Otherwise, what seemed like a bad idea (remake of beloved childhood series -- I had a model of the Galactica and a Viper toy) turned out to be pretty cool. I hope season one comes out on DVD soon, 'cause the new season starts up this summer already.
  • House Of Flying Daggers (2004)
    Gorgeous, but seriously lacking in the plot and character departments, which leaves...gorgeous. And that horrible Kathleen Battle vocal "performance" over the end credits. *blech*
  • The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004)
  • Meet the Fockers (2004)
    Breast feeding jokes are not funny.
  • Samehada otoko to momojiri onna (1998)
    aka Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl. Cute, not The Taste of Tea good, and a little hard to follow, but enjoyable nonetheless. Makes me wish that Party 7 was available on DVD.
  • Sideways (2004)
    Loved it! Two snaps up. Paul Giamatti was indeed robbed by the Academy. Virginia Madsen was a wee bit overhyped, but only because her role in the film was on the small side. I'm just glad that About Schmidt turned out to be an aberration and that Alexander Payne is still good. You just don't see flawed-but-sympathetic done this well with so much heart and humor.
  • Aliens of the Deep (2005)
    Beware! Here be egregious uses of contemporary slang! Once the shock of how amazing the new IMAX 3-D technology is wears off, you're left with James Cameron's latest extravagant masturbatory fantasy -- an amazing opportunity that devolves quickly into an advertisement for someone's pet space exploration project. I just wanted to see some glowing deep sea creatures.
  • Yang Ban Xi: The 8 Modelworks (2005)
    Fascinating subject, but as a piece of film it needs a little work. Surprise bonus is discovering where Brian Eno got the title of his album Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy: it was one of the eight stage/film works (Yang Ban Xi) that comprised the only such works approved for Chinese consumption during the decade of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The documentary suffers from a lack of direction, and while two unusual structural elements (an imaginary VO from Madame Mao and inexplicable contemporary dance sequences) were somewhat novel, they were also distracting and irritating as presented.
  • The Fearless Freaks (2005)
    So great you'll probably enjoy it even if you're not a Flaming Lips fan. Pretty much a music lover's dream come true. Highly recommended.
  • Seven Days, Seven Nights (2003)
    I can't remember the last time I saw a film that I plain just didn't "get." There were so many scenes, characters, and developments that I didn't understand, and I don't know if I should blame this on the filmmakers, on the subtitles, or on my lack of knowledge of Cuban culture and society. I was drawn to one character but when she was suddenly arrested at the end I had no idea why. I felt confused and irritated. Or is looking much better in retrospect. (P.S. Czech Dream was sold out tonight and we ended up getting screwed out of $5 for parking as a result. Now on to Damien Jurado at the Turf Club-- hopefully with better results.)
  • One Night Husband (2003)
    What seemed like it might be an intriguing film along the lines of Blow Up or Mulholland Drive turns to total crap at the end. Worst film of the fest so far.
  • Or (2004)
    Realistically bleak, reminscent of the films of Erick Zonca, but disappointingly unengaging. It's a very depressing film, but it fails to draw the viewer in, leaving one feeling detached and hopeless. Hooray.
  • The Taste of Tea (2003)
    Outstanding, beautiful film. GO AND SEE IT MONDAY NIGHT, APRIL 11, 9:30PM AT THE LAGOON!!!!!!!!!!
  • Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story (2005)
    More on this later, hopefully- a great doc; sensitively handles the relatively complex subject matter, and the directors got some great interviews.
  • Land of Plenty (2004)
    It was a great pleasure to see Wim Wenders introduce this film and field some pretty inane questions afterward. My impressions are very close to Chuck's, so rather than repeat them I will merely direct you toward his superior report.
  • The Great Communist Bank Robbery (2004)
    As I mentioned in the comments over yonder, I was deeply interested in the subject matter (disturbing "show trials" in Communist Romania, very much a real-life Brazil) but the presentation was somnambulant.
  • Childstar (2004)
    Not as mind-bendingly life changing as Last Night but an excellent follow-up nonetheless. As always, McKellar gets great performances and proves to be a deft writer, clever without sacrificing emotion or truth. Plus: surprise cameo from Sloan's Chris Murphy and Jay Ferguson! Rock! I think it will benefit from repeated viewings.
  • The Village (2004)
    I liked this a lot better than I thought I would based on the reviews and considering how bad Signs was. Perhaps there is hope for M. Night after all. While The Village was totally implausible, it was very well done and pretty clever given the current state of the world. Warning: this is not a horror film by any means; it is much more in keeping with the suspense/drama genre of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
    Lots of fun, if light on plot. Much better than I was expecting based on the lousy reviews. Film #2 in our unofficial (and unintentional) Giovanni Ribisi film festival!
  • Heaven (2002)
    Tries to turn the tale of a morally repugnant (but oh, so pretty!) pair into a redemptive love story. Or maybe it just challenges the viewer to ask: "how far would you go to do it with Cate Blanchett?" It made me very uncomfortable.
  • How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
  • Driver 23 (1997) / The Atlas Moth (2001)
    Hilarious and heartbreaking. Check out Rolf Belgum's new film, The Wild Condition, April 13 at Bell Auditorium.
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
    I'm concerned that Will Ferrell may be slowly morphing into Robin Williams. Nice unexpected cameo from Tim Robbins, though.
  • AVP: Alien Vs. Predator (2004)
    Despite the ridiclous premise, this monster mash starts out promising and rapidly devolves into boring stupidity. The characters are all dispatched too quickly and the AvP action isn't nearly as exciting as you might expect it to be (consisting mainly of beefy Predators smacking Aliens into walls -- yawn). Any hope for Alien mythology development in the guise of Charles Bishop Weyland is squandered, and the seemingly intelligent heroine is reduced to repeating the tired "you're one ugly motherfucker" line previously uttered by Gov. Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover in the two Predator films. Top it off with a predictable "surprise" cliffhanger ending, and you've got fourteen years of waiting for a smack in the face brought to you by PepsiCo. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
  • Without a Paddle (2004)
    Better than Win A Date With Tad Hamilton.
  • Van Helsing (2004)
    Worse than Without A Paddle.
  • Invasions barbares, Les (2003)
    This is pretty damn good filmmaking. I didn't think I could be taken in by a teary film about another dying asshole, but I was. Completely.
  • Garden State (2004)
    A ponderous coming of age story that manages to stay afloat in spite of itself. Zach Braff's heart is in the right place, even though much of this film felt a little too familiar (cf The Graduate, Joe vs. The Volcano, The Royal Tenenbaums, Dazed and Confused, etc.). My beloved SEA Thai in Brooklyn makes a cameo as the L.A. restaurant where Braff's Andrew Largeman is working at the start of the film.
  • Star Trek: Generations (1994)
  • Spellbound (1945)
    The Dali-inspired dream sequence is an absolute must-see, and the ending is still a shock, as silly as much of the rest of the film is. Young Gregory Peck does not make a convincing psycho, however.
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
    Feels like half a story. Not bad, just mediocre.
  • Ray (2004)
    Not as bad as I was expecting it to be, though the last 5-10 minutes really kinda ruined it for me. Jamie Foxx is great, and I still haven't decided if that's because he's truly great, or if it's just so surprising that Jamie Foxx can act. P.S. Where's the best supporting oscar for Curtis "Booger" Armstrong in the role of Atlantic owner/producer Ahmet Ertegun?
  • The Aviator (2004)
    I think Scorsese has made his best film in twelve years, since Age of Innocence. Unfortunately that's not saying much, as the only film between then and now that I liked at all was Bringing Out The Dead, and I've had no desire to revisit that film since I first saw it. The Aviator is not flawless, but it makes up for the excess that marred Gangs of New York and the emptiness of Casino and Kundun. Here, surprisingly, was a character I was actually interested in, despite his wealth and despite the fact that he was played by Leonardo DiCaprio (doing his best Tom Cruise impression, oddly). The CGI is a little funky at times, and Scorsese's weird color effects (meant to reproduce the film color processes of the time periods) harm more than help in several instances, but otherwise the picture looked really good. Performances were generally excellent, and the story was mostly well-written. A few scenes could've benefitted from trimming, but overall I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Hanky Panky (1982)
    Great lines in film history: "one of these creeps is pumping my buns!" A semi-comic thriller pairing Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner, directed by Sidney Poitier(!). Loved this movie when I was younger; am now surprised at how totally nonsensical it is.
  • Blowup (1966)
  • Traffic (2000)
    Kill the Michael Douglas family storyline and you've got one incredible film. Benicio Del Toro's performance still remains one of his best, and the camaraderie between Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman is infectous, making later events in the film that much more heartbreaking.
  • X-Men (2000)
  • Open Water (2003)
    Oh my God, how overrated was this flick? As overrated as the ocean is deep, my friends. I really don't understand what all the hype was about. The actors were stiff and the dialogue was totally flat. I kept hoping for some hint of a deeper meaning, some kind of social or political commentary, instead it was like watching two high school girls in a mall reenact Waiting For Godot. I didn't care about the characters, and I didn't feel any fear or tension because the pacing was off and the dialogue kept tearing me out of the film. I think the actors got better as they get wetter and colder, but who wouldn't improve after 2 1/2 years of filming? The only saving grace was the brief nighttime footage which was truly frightening and disturbing, but it wasn't followed up on in any impactful way, and the end comes anticlimactically, even if it is a bit of a surprise. I am really amazed at the critical and commercial success of this film.
  • Starwoids (2001)
    Thought it would be like Trekkies, only this film focused on a bunch of idiots waiting in line to see Episode I, most of whom didn't seem all that interested in Star Wars. Very little coherent footage, devolves into tedious reality show style arguments (only here you don't even understand what it is they're competing for). Total waste of time. And Kevin Smith? Every time you open your mouth it only makes me want to hit you more. I just hope that the failure that was Jersey Girl will end this guy's career, and if not, his unwanted sequels to Clerks and Fletch should pretty much hammer the nails in his coffin.
  • Bride of the Monster (1955)
  • Glen or Glenda (1953)
  • Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
    There are a few fun moments sprinkled throughout, but overall this is a letdown. Meg White acts about as good as she drums, or...worse... but Tom Waits and Alfred Molina are very entertaining and charming, and Taylor Mead is pretty adorable.
  • Ed Wood (1994)
    Excellent DVD release, very good extras (except for the dreadful Lisa Marie music video/homemade stag film). Not sure why I didn't appreciate this movie more ten years ago.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Special Extended Edition (2004)
    Here's what I've been waiting for, and...and...I'm feeling let down. Unlike the first two films in the trilogy, the theatrical release of ROTK may have actually been better than the full-on SEE release. Damn. Somewhere in the ether there is a perfect version of this movie, with the "Pippin grabs the Palantir/Pinball Wizard" scene replaced by a scene revealing the Palantir in Minas Tirith that has contributed to Denethor's insanity. Alas, we still find this, the worst scene in the trilogy, present, along with some other silly bits (Gimli farting) that really don't need to be in there. The pacing and drama are also occasionally worsened by the SEE, especially with the Paths of the Dead coda that ruins the "surprise" of Aragorn's sudden tide-turning arrival on the scene at the Pelennor Fields. And, in fact, most of the added Paths of the Dead footage is unnecessary and even groan-inducing, including the sub-par pile o' skulls effects. It is nice to see Saruman back in the picture, a few small book-referencing details, and a slightly bigger (though still disapointingly brief) hint at Faramir and Eowyn's romance, but overall I'm underwhelmed and wondering if I need to go buy the theatrical version DVD.
  • The Stepford Wives (2004)
    Not as bad as the reviews would've had me believe. It plays more like a parody than a remake of the 1975 original, verging on the truly offensive before (mostly) redeeming itself with a series of twists. Too bad Nicole Kidman is utterly devoid of charm or charisma.
  • Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
    You might be surprised to learn that this was not a very good film. Really! It had a truly awesome surround sound mix, totally wasted on an underwritten seuqel (the whole thing could've been compressed into about twenty minutes, tops). Loses the suspense of the first (surprisingly enjoyable) film and reduces the formula to a bad action film (e.g. relentless, pointless, unfun violence; oh, and add a dash of racist stereotypes).
  • Envy (2004)
    A complete waste of time.
  • I *Heart* Huckabees (2004)
    This is...>well<. I see why reviewers have a hard time with it. The amazing thing is: it works. The film is constantly in danger of careening off into total masturbatory ridiculousness, and it is a bit fragmented (it almost seems like there are scenes missing at times), but Mr. Russell totally pulls the trick off, giving the viewer genuine hope along with some serious laughter. This is real movie magic (hard to believe that's still possible). Some great internet presence to go along with this one.
  • Million Dollar Baby (2004)
    A well-written film devolves into another win for Bush's Unsympathetic America©. The characters are well-drawn, if simple, and the story is relatively interesting until it takes an unfortunate turn into hospital melodrama. I am fascinated by Clint Eastwood's continuing mission to put himself (via the characters he plays) through horrible things he doesn't want to do; unfortunately he drags down much of middle America in the process (portrayed as fat, lazy welfare cheats who lack an obsessive drive to succeed). Not a total waste but generally disappointing, especially after such a strong start.
  • Foreign Correspondent (1940)
    I wasn't expecting much from this buried treasure (as Peter Bogdanovich calls it), but was pleasantly surprised. Foreign Correspondent has no stars to speak of, but a great sense of humor, a truly unexpected plot line, and a sudden, urgent (and surprisingly political) call for the U.S. to enter World War II. Lost best picture to Hitchcock's own Rebecca, both nominated in the same year.
  • The Untouchables (1987)
    Guilty pleasure.
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
    Hmmmmmm. mmmm. mm. Miraculous at times, testing the audience at others. I loved the Joe McGrath/Richard Lester homages; I didn't like the messy, improvised feel. Wes Anderson has always balanced the cartoonishly absurd and the emotionally powerful, but here the cartoons seem to take over (literally). The transitions were so much more random and abrupt in this film that I had a hard time adjusting, which left me feeling a little cold and disappointed at the end. What is Wes Anderson's personal "jaguar shark?" Filmmaking? I was hoping I'd understand by the end. The Life Aquatic definitely works as a psychedelic comedy film, but as something more...I'm not sure. Perhaps repeated viewings will reveal something more to me.
  • Ocean's Twelve (2004)
    Needs some trimming, but has that distinct Soderbergh touch missing from Ocean's Eleven and Solaris (very encouraging!), working in the realm of early '70s Altman and Schlesinger. Really funny in parts, but it has a few too many out-of-nowhere twists and some self-referential celebrity fluff that gets a bit overcooked.
  • The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
  • Saved! (2004)
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • X2 (2003)
    Still kicks total ass. I could watch a three-hour long version of this if they made it; X2 is tightly paced but leaves more than a few questions unanswered, and not just the obvious one about Jean Grey. Hoping the commentary will shed some light since the extras all seem to be about Nightcrawler, who really doesn't do much after the impressive opening sequence.
  • Joe Versus The Volcano (1990)
    Totally underappreciated gem of a film.
  • A Very Long Engagement (2004)
    Not quite what I was expecting. It feels segmented, and there are numerous violent shocks for the first few minutes, so I wasn't as utterly captivated as I hoped I would be, but then sometimes I was completely drawn-in and moved. Jeunet is much better at expressing love and hope than he is at dealing with violence. The juxtaposition of the two don't always work in this film, but it is certainly worth seeing.
  • Spider-Man 2 (2004)
    Significantly better than the first one, which I hated, but I still found myself rolling my eyes and giggling when I wasn't supposed to be. On the bright side, Bruce Campbell had a far superior cameo in this one, and director Sam Raimi let his true colors leak out a bit (finally!) with the Evil Dead-like hospital room massacre. I can't say that I'm looking forward to the inevitable third installment, however. Bring on X3!
  • Young Adam (2003)
    Oh my God, it's Obi-Wan's penis!
  • The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
    Love, American Style: an epic poem to Dick Cheney written by concerned tenth-graders. Not the worst movie we've seen lately, to tell the truth, but still one wonders when Roland Emmerich will learn that there are ways to establish characters without relying solely on familial relationships.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
    Seeing this again after watching the first two movies fills me with utter disdain for Christopher Columbus, who should never be allowed to sully the big screen with his pedestrian "filmmaking" skills again (remember Home Alone 2 and Bicentennial Man?). Before I saw this film I was blissfully ignorant of the Potter universe, but Alfonso Cuaron injected some real life into this series and got me hooked in the process. Sadly, Mike "TV director with a handful of so-so features on my resume" Newell will be helming the fourth installment, due in November 2005. Here's hoping he gets the help he needs to keep the quality up. Perhaps the presence of Pulp's Jarvis Cocker will keep things lively?
  • Elf (2003)
    Cotton-candy Christmas fun with a Gene Wilder-esque Will Ferrell and the fairly adorable Zooey Deschanel (and Amy Sedaris and Kyle Gass and Peter Dinklage and the voice of Ray Harryhausen!). Worth seeing a grown man proposition James Caan for a "cuddle." Cool pop-up book DVD menus, too.
  • Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
    Not as awful as the first half, but still rather unimpressive to these eyes; at least the dialogue and acting are a titch better. Plotting and character, still, are stupid, I don't care what he's emulating or tributizing. I just made that word up! Lookit me, the big artist! I yell the loudest, blah blah blah!
  • Boogie Nights (1997)
    Though I may have been suspicious and ambivalent in the past, I hereby declare my love of PTA. And I will never be mean to him.
  • The Station Agent (2003)
    A nice change of pace, genuinely fascinating and witty, light but not completely without substance, and not manipulative; ends a bit abruptly, though. Surprisingly subtle soundtrack by Stephen Trask, who co-wrote the bombastic Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
  • The Ladykillers (2004)
    Probably the worst Coen Bros. film ever made: tedious and borderline racist. There are a few spots that are genuinely funny, but mostly the jokes fall flat. Rent the original, and hope that the Coens get out of the south soon.
  • Trekkies 2 (2004)
    Not nearly as hilarious as the first, and frequently more disturbing. "Normal" fans complain about how the first film made them look like freaks, making themselves look worse in the process (you can't demand to be called a "Trekker" and expect to be taken seriously), fans in the Balkans talk about how Star Trek gave them hope during wartime, and some especially crafty folk show off their ridiculously complicated (and expensive???) homemade sets. Special features include a fan film shot in Hastings by a bunch of guys from St. Paul with an Old West fetish.
  • Trekkies (1997)
  • Hellboy (2004)
    The end is kinda weak, but I totally fell in love with this film when I saw it in the theater and it holds up well to a second viewing. Time to check out the unrated director's cut.
  • The Clash: Westway To The World (2000)
    Really great combination of performance footage and interesting, occasionally hilarious interviews. The guys are surprisingly understanding in retrospect, which makes it only that much more heartbreaking that Joe Strummer died before there could be a reunion.
  • Win A Date With Tad Hamilton! (2004)
    "Butt vomit."
  • Queen of Outer Space (1958)
    Starring Zsa Zsa Gabor as the space hottie who learns a valuable lesson from some virile Astronauts: a woman is nothing without a man. Awwwwwww. Features recycled space props and a very humorous (though uncredited) performance by Joi Lansing as "Larry's Girl."
  • Mean Girls (2004)
    Not quite as brilliant as, say, Legally Blonde, but almost as entertaining. "Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and some teen partying."
  • Ocean's 11 (2001)
    Significantly better now, almost three years later, than when I saw it the first time in theaters. Maybe I've just been suffering from Soderbergh withdrawl, considering how prolific he was from 1998-2002, then somewhat absent the last two years. It's a good time to embrace this film, since Ocean's 12 is coming December 10th. Next up: Che starring Benicio del Toro. Woo!
  • In Living Color - Season 1 (1990)
    Frequently unfunny, but occasionally brilliant. I'll watch David Alan Grier in anything (more Calhoun Tubbs, please!), and seeing this stuff again reminds me how great Damon Wayans and (gasp!) Jim Carrey could be. The Grace Jones bit is hilarious, and stands out from some of the tired but once popular repeat characters. The DVD extras are nearly worthless.
  • Bob Roberts (1992)
    Ah...still relevant. I've always admired this film for creating the term "ethnic male," a sly euphemism that's seen a corollary in real life, whenever you hear something referred to as "urban."
  • The Cooler (2003)
    I hate it when good casting tricks me into watching late-nite cable tee-vee neo-noir garbage like this. A few nice moments are buried amidst bad Vegas porno music and a bittersweet longing for the old days when men drank hard, beat their women, and beat each other even harder. Special appearance by 'NSync's Joey Fatone!
  • The Star Wars Trilogy (1977-1983)
  • Black Picket Fence (2002)
    Documentary about guys who carry guns to parties, sell drugs, and freestyle rap like 19th-century poets sparring. Wanted to see a lot more about female rapper Brina "Rugged Ness" Ellerbe, who just about buries the male competition.
  • Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)
    My enjoyment of this film almost entirely depends on how well I'm able to block out the stupid bits: the Star Wars Diner, "death sticks," Anakin's mush-mouth, totally unconvincing love story, childishly uncreative names (Dooku?), etc. Fortunately, this one actually has some plot development (it's there if you dig deep enough), hardcore Fett action, and a smidge of sex appeal. Even the CG Yoda is pretty cool. Gives me a shred of hope that Revenge of the Sith won't totally bite the Bantha.
  • Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)'s just as bad as I remembered. This should've been whittled down to a brief prologue, with a better fleshing out of the concept and history of the Jedi which might add to our understanding and appreciation of the magnitude of their downfall. Instead we get over two hours of poo jokes, dumb kids, pretty costumes, one sweet lightsaber fight, and a giant, pointless cartoon battle. Totally wasted opportuntiy. Is there a video game that lets you pit Gungans vs. Ewoks? Everyone wins!
  • Monster (2003)
  • Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)
  • Showgirls (1995)
    Better than Cats. I'll see it again and again.
  • Journeys with George (2002)
  • Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War (2003)
  • Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004)
  • The Stepford Wives (1975)
    Other than the "dabbled in women's lib" line that nearly destroys the whole thing, this was a pretty sweet flick. Creepy, incisively satirical, a leeeeeetle bit slow, but topped with a brilliant ending. Still, I wonder: who took Fred the dog away, and why?
  • Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
    Just as good the second time, in part because I dragged my two high school friends along for the fun. The added scene at the end is pretty weak, but I was stunned at how funny and occasionally poignant this film is. "It speaks to me." Oh! And I had no idea the opening credits song was the White Stripes. I may have to revise my general atittude of indifference toward them.
  • Scary Movie 3 (2003)
    While the first two were pretty awful, I thought I'd give the Zucker-helmed threequel a try. Oops! The best thing about this film was its extraordinarily brief running time.
  • Something's Gotta Give (2003)
    The cinematic equivalent of a romance novel (porn for baby-seekers and commitment-phobe lovers). I thought it might be worth it to see the ever-so-lovely Diane Keaton in a starring vehicle, but there just wasn't much to see here. It's not like Jack Nicholson's ass needs more exposure. Jesus.
  • Catwoman (2004)
    If they whittled this sucker down to fifteen minutes of Halle Berry slinking around you'd have one of the greatest films of the 21st century. As it is, Catwoman is bogged down with a plot-by-committee screenplay that provides a few unmemorable groaners, not enough action, and a small array of uninteresting one-dimensional characters. Sharon Stone acts like she's too good for the picture, but Ms. Berry saves the package from total disaster with her charisma and bare back. Note to producers: next time use fewer scenes lifted from other films, and if you're not going to camp it up, then find a director with more style. "Pitof" cuts mundane scenes furiously, as though he failed to get enough coverage during principle photgraphy, and key lines (what few there are) are often delivered off-camera, leading one to believe they were done in ADR as afterthoughts. Also, don't replace a real cat with a shitty-looking CGI feline for a single scene. You lose the viewer early on that way.
  • The Weather Underground (2002)
    An incredible documentary, very well done (save for several inappropriately sped-up film reels that suggested comedy where there wasn't any) and fascinating subject matter. As someone who spent much of his twenties believing he should've been an active revolutionary, and who was too young to remember any of this, I was enraptured. Most incredible were the number of bombings the Weathermen pulled off without a single human casualty. The filmmakers did a particularly good job of contexualizing the events, and they had a kick-ass soundtrack, to boot.
  • Street Corner (1948)
    Instructional film about how to get a back-alley abortion from a sexless automaton. Anticipates the rise of a powerful race of Über-Physicians who will raise our children in isolated conclaves known as "clinics" away from the dangerous influence of their parents. Also features gory VD footage. Whee!
  • Modesty Blaise (1966)
    Terrible, just terrible. Like many mod films (Casino Royale comes to mind), it works best as a 5-to-10 minute long promo, but taken as a whole is generally incomprehensible and un-fun.
  • This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
    Have a good time all the time. That's my philosophy.
  • The Criterion Collection: Notorious (1946)
    While it was fairly entertaining, I was disappointed by this film primarily because the relationship between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman was totally unconvincing. Without that lynchpin holding the film together it was all a bit silly. A longer film might've been more believable, but all of the alternate endings and deleted scene script outtakes add little to the overall picture, except perhaps for an early scene in which Bergman says farewell to one of her "playmates." Also not sure why you would write a film in which the lovely Ingrid Bergman is either drunk or poisoned 80% of the time, unless you're into weak, helpless gals, that is.
  • My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
    A little slow but worth it for every minute there's a strange, furry creature onscreen. I saw catbus!
  • Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
    Wes Anderson for the reg'lur folks, or Todd Solondz without the all-consuming misanthropy and hopelessness. It's a totally sweet movie covering several decades of geekdom in one fell swoop. I sincerely hope Toby Radloff sees this film and enjoys it.
  • Clash of the Titans (1981)
    I loved this movie as a kid, and while now it seems pretty silly, it also has a lot going for it: Medusa! Giant Scorpions! Two-Headed Dog! Robot Owl! Devil Men! Ray Harryhausen rules, although the sound effects during the scene in which Perseus (a pre-LA Law Harry Hamlin) "tames" Pegasus are truly disturbing, it's like they overdubbed 30 screaming, choking horses. Nightmares ensue. Also stars Laurence Olivier, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith, and Claire Bloom.
  • The Score (2001)
    Marlon Brando's final film? Also features Robert DeNiro and Ed Norton (in a dual role as a cocky thief/mentally-challenged janitor). Directed by Yoda himself, Frank Oz. Brando and Oz clashed on set which led to Brando's immortal accusation: "I bet you wish I was a puppet so you could stick your hand up my ass and make me do what you want." Or did I?
  • Strangers On A Train (1951)
    After years of watching it lampooned in Throw Momma From The Train, I've finally sat down to watch the original. At times laughable yet genuinely creepy at others, this may be the kick-off of my own miniature Hitchcock revival.
  • Take The Money And Run (1969)
    A rough start for Woody Allen's career, but good for some laffs.
  • The Criterion Collection: Wild Strawberries (1957)
    Didn't involve me as much as it did the first time, though the feature-length interview with Bergman is fairly interesting and rekindled a desire to see several of his films.

« Robots May Strike At Any Time | Main | Revenge of the CGI Programmers »

July 24, 2004



Huh. I wanted to make a comment about how this is really weird and disturbing, but in the end it's no weirder than Barbie dolls or any other kind of collectible doll.

(I remember seeing a franklin-mint style circular a few years back for these two dolls, boy and girl, that had been "naughty" and were designed to be displayed standing with their face in the corner. That seriously weirded me out.)


Oh, those near-life-sized naughty kid dolls? I used to walk by one of those in the skyway, and it's ten times creepier up close. Totally Blair Witch.

But these Japanese dolls, yes... uhh, just sick I tell you. Of course I wont' be able to say just how sick until my shipment arrives and I can closely inspect them.


"Mimi becomes such beautiful, and it appears from SD13. It dances from a different dimension momentarily by approaching to the adult and the pretty appearance to get off is confirmed."

That was a description of a doll from the Volk's Super Dollfie site. I think it says it all.




Ack is right! These are the kind of things that wait until the lights are out and then prey upon animals and small children. Good Christ! What is wrong with people?!

Mr. Pants

Albino vampire pixie attack! Argh!!!

"This doll exists to make you happy. It has a grown-up look with sophisticated expression. This thireen-year-old visitor has a mysterious existence with a grown-up's charm, yet an innocent expression. The doll is waiting for your embrace!"

I think my favorite SD is "Michael - Young Nobleman of Darkness". Please note the lacy thigh-high stockings. On Michael. The young nobleman of darkness.

"Coating the whole body to the moisturising and frosting touch."


Wow, how sad is that you people have nothing better to do than make fun of a hobby you clearly know nothing about?


Interesting that you provided a link to my blog category on SDs. What is disturbing? Part of the problem with people who are unfamiliar with a doll hobby , particularily one that is japanese influenced, they do not understand the japanese "gothic lolita" fashion that some of the SDs were dressed in. Another part is that the japanese that aren't fluent in english do have a funny way of combining english words to describe what they want to conveny, such as "moisturising and frosting touch". As the first person that commented said, this doll hobby is no different than those that collect Barbies.


Hi, Connie. This is a blog primarily about pop culture. Sometimes we are entertained by things that seem a little odd. I had a nice little discussion with nikita at and she didn't seem to think my interest was sad or mean. We're just curious observers with a good sense of humor. I'm sorry that you took offense. Perhaps next time you'll make an effort to inform us rather than merely belittling us.


Whoops- there's nikita. I don't see any problem with my commenting on this blog that I think these dolls are creepy. I think most dolls are creepy (e.g. Barbies). That is my opinion, and I have no desire to prevent or belittle others who have an interest in collecting dolls. This is not an attack, and I'm not sure why this entry is causing so much interest all of a sudden.

Here's what transpired in the comments section of your blog several months ago, where I thought we were cool about this (I'm "Mr. Pants"):

I hope you don't mind that I linked to your blog on a little blurb I did about SDs. I'm pretty creeped out by the whole thing, but I thought it would be good to show that not just aging child molesters are into these things. Um, since I'm assuming you're not an aging child molester. ;)

Posted by Mr. Pants at July 24, 2004 03:15

PM LOL! Nope, definitely not an aging child molester here! The SDs are creepy at first, but once you see them in person, the creepiness wears off. They are quite beautiful in sculpt and posability.

Posted by nikita at July 24, 2004 03:24 PM


I still think they're creepy. And I still want one.


Hi, Jonathan. When people refer to something as obscene and creepy, I guess it sorta leaves the "ha ha, look at our funny sense of humor" category. Besides, you don't exactly seem like you're dying to learn more.


So then what's the big deal? We were amused and you're not. How is that "sad"? I'm currently reading a mass-market sci-fi paperback based on a film series and you're more than welcome to make fun of me for it, but please don't take away my right to have an opinion. I saw an article (however innacurate) in Time magazine, I was intrigued (and disturbed) and blogged about it on my website about pop culture. I looked into the website of a fan of said hobby and showed a casual but genuine interest. Still, I thought it was weird, but interesting, and then I moved on to...let's see, oh: more of my geeky sci-fi interests ("Revenge of the CGI Programmers"), which I also applied my sense of humor to. I'd call myself an "equal opportunity offender" but I hardly find any of this offensive. You don't have to look too far to find some much nastier junk out there.

Also, to clarify: I find the images and the dolls themselves creepy. At no point did I say anything negative about the people who buy or collect the dolls. As for the "obscene" quote, well...I stand by my opinion that buying lingerie to dress up tiny artificial human beings is a little freaky. And I stand by Chuck's right to desire to do so. See? It's all about love.


I love you, man.


And your little doll, too.


Ah-ha! This explains the recent comments. Sorry, gang!

"Why can't I buy a doll with nipples when someone can go buy a REAL child a pair of sweatpants with "Juicy" or "Cutie" written across the rump?
You sir, are the sick one."

WHAT??? I do not own, nor will I ever own, nor will I ever purchase for anyone, be they friend or enemy, sweatpants with ANYTHING written across the rump. What did I do to deserve these accusations?

"Good thing he linked to the Dollfie Dreams undies category ... I just found an underwear set that I want to get for my doll ... And yes, my doll IS sexy, and I'm proud of her! Saori says: "BITE ME!" (But not too hard, she's made of vinyl)"

I will not bite your doll...unless the act would be accepted as some kind of peace offering to the SD community. I only wish peace, harmony, flowers, and fluffy bunnies upon all of you.

Meanwhile, our two major presidential candidates STILL have not spoken out on the pressing issue of Super Dollfies. I will remain undecided until their opinions are known. You're running out of time, guys!

(If any of the authors of the above links are truly offended I will gladly de-link you. Meanwhile, thanks for all the traffic!)


I must say that Jonathan DID make the effort to post links to the Volks website AND the SD FAQ. I wasn't offended by what Jonathan posted,...more like some of the comments that were written to his post.


I guess I should clarify then-- I didn't find your blog offensive. I found some of the comments made offensive.. and I never accused you of buying sweatpants with something written across the butt. Lo siento Señor.

Bride of Chuckie

You know what creeps me out more than anything? How polite this little feud is. I have to go puke now. And I'm going to puke on my personal collection of broken doll parts and children's lingerie. Because this is America, dammit.

Bride of Chuckie

Blast! Ok, Children's lingerie. Now my timing is ruined.


Sir, I hasten to pee upon you.

(how's that?)


I'm 37, work full time, am married with a 3 year old daughter, and I like dolls. I own several including some Super Dollfies. Here's a photo of one wearing a dress I made.

I enjoy making doll clothes, making dolls, and taking photos of them.
Am I weird? Is my hobby sick and disturbing? To me it isn't, but people are entitled to their opinion. I enjoy it and I'm not hurting anyone. I think it's not any weirder than people who collect wrapped sugar cubes or camembert labels.


I think it's not any weirder than people who collect wrapped sugar cubes or camembert labels.

Do people actually collect those things? Because that is REALLY weird. Oh, good lord, they do.

I suggest that all readers of this thread watch the "America's Most Suspicious" sketch from episode 10 of the Ben Stiller Show (available at your finer DVD retailers nationwide). Pour yourself a cup of your favorite beverage. Have a good laugh. Sleep. Awake the next day refreshed and ready to concentrate on the impending election.


Oh for fooks sake. I'm going to hold my tongue, then hold it again, and then clamp it and possibly sew my mouth shut. Then I will make a precious doll, an effigy of me, his little mouth sewn shut, and together we'll make it through this without saying a word.

I do like those camembert labels, though.


At least I know what to get Chuck for Christmas now.

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