Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Rabbit Hole



Now this Ashland, Oregon's Shakespeare Festival play really overwhelmed me. It was amazing. It's a somber topic: a couple coping with the loss of their son eight months earlier, but done in such a way that there is tons of humor and entertainment. The drama sneaks up on you occasionally through the humor and it's powerful. What impressed me the most was the realistic modern dialog which was flawless and natural, with every character hitting just the right notes. The play is about how we each cope with grief differently and the phenomenal acting conveyed that perfectly. We meet the younger free-spirited sister who is pregnant and unmarried and we see how that tortures the wife who lost her child. We see the father and husband who wants to move on but can't because his wife won't: she's at a different grief point than him. Then there's the wife's mother who lost a child of her own twelve years earlier, but as her daughter tells her, "It's not the same thing" because her son was only five years old when the car hit him. Most powerful of all is the teenage boy who ran over their son -- purely an accident but tormenting none-the-less. All this sounds dreary and somber but it's not: the play is funny and clever and hilarious, but at the core is the horrible thing always lurking that no one wants to talk about. Just brilliant. Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize. I had a terrific front-row seat and was a hand-stretch from touching the actors at times. Chilling and amazing.

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Friday, January 24, 2003

Rabbit-Proof Fence



Movie: Rabbit-Proof Fence
Director(s): Philip Noyce

This is an amazing film. Run, don't walk, to the nearest theatre and see it. If you're not into "arty" films and think this might be depressing, let me assure you it's anything but. It is emotionally moving, but not the least bit slow or boring. Impressively, Noyce tells a wonderful story in a mere 95 minutes -- unlike say, Spielberg and his overlong Catch Me If You Can.

The story is true: in Australia until the 1970's, the government had a program to remove "half-caste" (mixed blood) children from their parents' home and raise them in camps where they'd learn white behavior and education. In the mid-1930's, three sisters, age 8 to 14, are taken 1,200 miles from home. They promptly run away and over 9 weeks walk all the way home! Australia is divided in half by the world's longest fence, the "rabbit-proof fence," which keeps the rabbits on one side and the farm-land on the other. The girls follow the fence all the way home.

The performance of the girls is incredible; they are all darling and completely convincing. The Aborigine tracker is also amazing. But what really shines is the incredible story of human will and the horribly inhuman treatment by the government bureaucrats. The ending is both joyous and sad, and will leave you thinking for a long time. Highly recommended.

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Friday, October 20, 2000

Rabid



Movie: Rabid (1977)
Writer(s): David Cronenberg
Director(s): David Cronenberg

Unusual horror film about a woman who undergoes major surgery with skin grafts and in recovery discovers a mouth has formed in her armpit! The mouth must eat: i.e. suck blood from people. Her victims become infected with a rabies-like disease that has them foaming at the mouth in blood lust themselves -- and anyone they bite is also infected. If prevented from sucking blood, the victims fall into a coma and die within a day. Within a week half of Montreal is infected, and martial law is declared by the mayor. Policemen shoot rabid people on sight. Meanwhile, the woman is going around infecting people, oblivious to the chaos she is causing. Very well-done, realistic, but lacks depth. The story never goes back to explain the woman's armpit mouth and we're left with a strange feeling of "why?" Favorite moment: when one of the cops, shooting a rabid man in a mall, accidentally shoots Santa Claus! Delightfully sick (and a touch profound).

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Race to Witch Mountain



Movie: Race to Witch Mountain

Wow, the original films were fun and pretty decent, even ground-breaking in their way. This pointless remake is surprisingly awful. While it's not that boring and has a handful of fun moments (my favorite was the scene where the girl mind-talks with the dog and translates what the dog is thinking), it has a shockingly awful plot, the modern special effects, except for one dramatic scene, are surprisingly poor, and there's a huge lack of anything logical or remotely resembling reality. There are so many stupid and illogical things that happen that it actually interferes with your enjoyment of the film. Like in one scene the government agents, 15 seconds after figuring out the aliens are headed to Las Vegas, actually scan through the footage of "every camera in Vegas" and have located the kids getting into a taxi, ran the taxi's license plate, and helicopters are taking off to hunt them down. Wow, that is some efficient police work! But even if we accept that these guys are super-agents, why later in the film do our heroes drive from the desert into a downtown Vegas convention center undetected? Don't get me started. The whole thing is nonsense. In terms of acting, the kids are great, considering what they are given to work with, and the only saving grace of the film. The Rock, as the taxi driver, seems miscast and doesn't do much physically except get beat up and thrown around. He mugs for the camera unmercifully, with obvious one-liners and catchphrases. The film's "action" sequences are unbelievably lame and run-of-the-mill, usually concluding in some absurdity. In short, this film is so bad it makes me love the original films that much more (and it's been decades since I've seen them). They had Disney heart, a semi-sensical plot, and some tension. This only has the cute kids. Avoid.

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Thursday, April 13, 2000

The Rage: Carrie 2



Movie: The Rage: Carrie 2

Lame. Not even 1% of the original. Got lots of reading down while watching.

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Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Raging Bull



Movie: Raging Bull (1980)
Writer(s): Jake La Motta (book) and Joseph Carter
Director(s): Martin Scorsese

I was prepared to not like this movie. It's about boxing (ugh), Italian mobsters (double ugh), and a charming lead who beats women (triple ugh). About half-way through, however, I found myself really entertained. I hadn't planned to watch the whole thing last night, but I couldn't not finish it. It's a very good film. I can't vouch for the realism of the boxing or anything -- the fights were often confusing to me, being the opposite of a boxing fan -- but it was interesting. What I liked most was that this wasn't about a single fight but about a man's entire career, his whole life. Boxing, ultimately, is a small part of his life. It's not a pretty life, but it is a life. Strangely sympathetic despite my revulsion. DeNiro's performance is definitely one of the classics of film. Absolutely amazing. He transforms so well into the character that you forget this is only a movie. He is boxer Jake La Motta. Definitely worth seeing, at least once.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Raising Helen



Movie: Raising Helen

Much better than I expected. The promos made this sound like Mr. Mom kind of fish-out-of-water story, as a career woman suddenly finds herself the mother to her dead sister's three children. I expected the typical Mom-can't-cook-and-is-covered-with-flour scenes, kids making a mess, etc. Instead, it's more a story of the heart, where the sister tries to do the right thing for her nieces and nephew, but keeps failing. In the end, of course, she finds a way. It's predictable and certainly not a stretch intellectually, but it's not slapstick silliness either. The cast is good and I liked it.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rambo



Movie: Rambo

I went to this unsure of what to expect. After all, Stallone is like over 60 and it's been decades since the last Rambo movie. But I liked what they did with this. First, they were loyal to the original character: he's a loner, a bit of a loser, doesn't say much, is morally ambiguous, and is a real bad-ass killer. They did not try to "modernize" Rambo and make him politically correct or have him like trying to hunt down Bin Laden or Goldfinger or something else out of his character. Instead, they focused on a single country -- war-torn Burma -- and gave Rambo the seemingly modest quest of helping out a kidnapped missionary woman there to bring aid to the poor villagers. Of course this turns out to be nothing but trivial as Rambo ends up taking on an entire Burmese army.

Second, I must say I was really impressed by the action in this film and that surprised me. We've had some excellent action films in the last couple decades, things that have pushed boundaries like The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Bourne Identity, stuff that makes the original Rambo films seem quaint and tame. But Rambo's back and he's badder than ever. The violence in this film -- and come on, let's be honest, we don't go to a Rambo movie for the acting -- the violence in this film is astonishing. We see heads and limps lopped off, body parts flying when people step on mines, an arrow go through a guy's head and come out his chin, more blood than a zombie movie, and lots of bullet-ridden bodies. It is extremely realistic, too. Not for the faint of heart. Personally, I found this refreshing. I've always been annoyed at action films that cut away right as the sword hits or whatever. This one shows the brains splattering, the tendons being severed as the leg comes off, limbs and chunks of flesh raining as debrie after an explosion. Speaking of explosions, this film has some of the best explosions I've ever seen. Really impressive and cool. Most film set us up for the "big bang" and we get a wimpy fireball. This one gives us earthquake-style world-shattering forest-flattening explosions that are just awesome.

Overall the story, as you might expect, is simple. Stallone's acting hasn't improved, he's still just as wooden as ever, but he's aged remarkably well and is in amazing shape. He's still totally believable as Rambo. I bet he could still do another one or two of these films. The film's a bit of a flashback to the 1980s, and maybe I'm just a fan of that era, but I thought this was refreshing, anti-PC, and a whole lot of fun.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Rango



Movie: Rango

The previews of this animated film looked awesome and indeed the film is gorgeous with some of the most wonderful characterizations of creatures ever seen. The way the animals look like animals yet still look human is amazing. That feature alone is worth the price of admission. Johnny Depp as the voice of Rango gives a flawless performance of the wild title character, a domesticated chameleon who wants to be a thespian, as he's thrust into an old desert Western town where he accidentally becomes the sheriff. Unfortunately, his shtick gets a little old after a while and it isn't enough to hold up the weak story which meanders and takes forever to get us down its predictable path (it's about a bad guy hogging all the water supply, a plot that feels straight out of an episode of Bonanza or The Big Valley). There are moments of terrific fun, some good action, and the story isn't terrible (just routine), but the film's inconsistent and occasionally awkward. Some things just don't quite work. It's still worlds above most animated fare, but falls short of Pixar standards (it lacks the emotional wallop Pixar repeatedly delivers). Another disturbing aspect was that the film is quite adult at times, which feels odd. For instance, early on "actor" Rango seduces the headless nude torso of a female mannequin and in a barrage of dialog throws out, "Are those real?" Funny, yes, but no adults laugh because it feels inappropriate in a kids' film. That happens several times. Some of the violence seems too realistic for kids as well. Yet much of the film seems geared toward very young children, leaving me wondering if the creators even had a target audience in mind. The bottom line is that Rango is a good film. It's fun, interesting, and breathtakingly beautiful. However, I was expecting great and it didn't quite get there, so for me it's a little disappointing. I'd like to watch it again on DVD and I suspect I'll like it better the second time as I'm more prepared for what I get. But it's worth seeing just for the fantastic artwork.

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Sunday, August 11, 2002

Rat



Movie: Rat

Weird Kafaesque film about a guy who turns into a rat. The story's not about him, but his messed up family, who take this somewhat in stride, but proceed to turn on each other in an effort to capitalize financially on this strange occurrence. A reporter moves in with them to write a book about them. Some excellent performances (especially the mom), and a decent story, however I imagine this kind of thing really isn't for all tastes. It's well done and interesting, but not as deep as I might have liked. Why the guy turns into a rat is left to our imaginations, and I liked that.

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Sunday, April 11, 2004

Rat Race



Movie: Rat Race

A surprisingly fun movie. Completely silly but aware of that, and just has fun with going over the edge. It's a lose remake of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (which I haven't seen yet) about a group of strangers who compete to see who can be first to a destination and win $2 million. Everyone tries to stomp out the competition while promoting themselves with boomerang results. Pointless, but fun.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Ratatouille



Movie: Ratatouille

This film is typical Pixar: brilliant, clever, thoughtful, beautiful, and entertaining. It's a great story about a mouse who becomes a chef at a Paris restaurant. Unfortunately, we expect so much from Pixar these days and there's a lot of competition at the theatres right now, so I fear this is one flick that is getting lost at the multiplex. It should have long legs as people get around to seeing it, but it's not like computer animation by itself is innovative any more. Also, the topic (fine cuisine) is a little high brow for kids and comedy isn't as broad as in Cars or Finding Nemo, which may mean some kids will be content waiting for the DVD. That's a shame because it's an excellent film and highly recommended.

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Friday, May 12, 2000

Rated X



Movie: Rated X

This was a Showtime movie about the two brothers who redefined the pornography industry with the film Behind the Green Door. Interesting biopic, but predictable (except for the ending).

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Friday, April 14, 2000

Ravenous



Movie: Ravenous

Neat little horror flick. It's about people who learn to eat humans and find they can't stop. It's got a rather serious, ominous tone, then goes campy. A bit of a mix, but fun. Sets and period costumes and performances are great.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Ray



Movie: Ray

Jamie Fox is certainly impressive as Ray Charles, but I wasn't as impressed with the musician's life. We learn a little about his childhood, which was interesting, but not much about what made him tick as a musician. We see his womanizing and drug use, but his motives for either remain a mystery. I liked the movie, but it was much too long and over-dramatized much that seemed rather pointless. The main reason to see this is definitely Fox, not Charles.

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Saturday, October 21, 2000

Re-Animator



Movie: Re-Animator

Another one of IFC's horror classics, and this one is pretty good. Based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, this is about a genius medical student who invents a way to "re-animate" the dead -- though they mostly turn out to be violent zombie-like creatures. Done with a nice touch of humor, but it's the goriest film I've ever seen -- really disgusting, especially the final 15 minutes, set in the hospital morgue, and filled with dozens of horrible corpses brought back to life. Not really scary, just ugly. Though Mischief and Mayhem loved the noisy cat-killing scene. ;-) And I can't fail to mention the repetitive music which gets really annoying as it's a blatant rip-off of Bernard Hermann's classic Psycho score, and totally inappropriate (this is not a psychological thriller). The music during the opening credits had some humor to it, which was ideal.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

The Reader



Movie: The Reader

I knew zip about this other than Kate Winslet was nominated for an Oscar. (I'm not sure why; she was good, but I didn't find her performance that remarkable.) The film surprised me. The sex is quite explicit, which I wasn't expecting, but the story was compelling. The story is set in Germany over a number of years beginning with the main male character when he's 15 and enters a love affair with an older woman. It's a very interesting romance, mostly physical, but then she has him read books to her, which takes their relationship to a different level. He falls in love, but it cannot last, of course, and when she moves away he's devastated. Years later he's in law school and as part of a class goes to see a trial of six Nazi women for war crimes. (This is in the late sixties; I had not realized they were still prosecuting Nazis that long after the war.) One of the woman turns out to be Hannah, the woman he'd had the love affair with. The boy is torn between love and horror of Hannah's crime. It seems that after she left him she joined the SS and committed horrible crimes. But then the boy realizes he has knowledge that can exonerate her. Should he tell? Ah, that is the dilemma. The film continues on with their interaction over many years and it's a moving story. It's powerfully told, though I found certain aspects of the manipulation of time confusing: at one point I had characters mixed up because I assumed the wrong thing, and other times jumped around without warning or connection. Another flaw is that the film is somewhat predictable, at least for me. At first there was a lot of mystery but as I put the pieces together I said, "Ah, this is going to happen, and this, and this," and it happened exactly that way. Usually that annoys me, but in this case the film played out exactly the way it needed and it was all right. Despite those flaws, it's an excellent film. I loved the emphasize on performance, for many of the scenes contain minimal dialog, with characters simply exchanging wordless looks. The boy is incredible, changing from a convincing naive kid of 15 to a more mature law student. Though somewhat explicit, I'm not sure it's unnecessary -- in retrospect it felt like it was needed to set the tone for the relationship of the two characters. We basically saw their physical love, but as they connect throughout their lives, we see there was much more to it than that. Well done. Not for all tastes, but if you enjoy thinking and good acting, this is worth seeing.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Real Studio Conference 2011



I'm in Atlanta at the conference and everything is going well. It's been a lot of fun, especially seeing all the people, though I was surprisingly nervous in my presentation yesterday. I geared it toward beginners, which worried me as the audience seemed very knowledgeable, but I did get a few compliments afterward (including one person who was new to Real Studio and said from his perspective it was the best presentation). It's really great meeting users in person and finding out what they are doing with Real Studio. I'm glad I came and I sure hope the conference returns to an annual thing.

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Sunday, October 19, 2003

Real Women Have Curves



Movie: Real Women Have Curves

Excellent independent film I'd heard about but missed in the theatres. I thought it was a foreign film, but it's not: it's mostly in English, though the Hispanic characters have a few scenes in Spanish. The story is actually similar to Bend It Like Beckham except not at all comic. Here we have an overweight Hispanic girl who's graduating from high school and wants to go to college, but her traditional parents, particularly her old-fashioned mother, are against it. Her mother wants her daughter to work in the sewing factory where she works for very little money. I found that a little strange, since the daughter could make a lot more money with a good education, but apparently the mother values control over the family over a higher income and her daughter's well-being. She's a nasty woman, constantly telling her daughter how fat she is, and how no man would want her. The ironic thing about that is the mother's not exactly swelte herself! (But then, as she points out, she's already married.) The heart of the movie's about the daughter's rebellion, but what makes the film work is that it's balanced by the daughter learning how hard her mother works and learning to appreciate that. In the end, they both grow and change (the daughter more than the mother). Not as profound as it could be, but has a lot of good scenes, and tackles a number of complicated issues.

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Friday, March 25, 2005

REAL World 2006



Excellent conference. It's so inspiring. It made me want to do more programming. So many brilliant people doing so many exciting things! It's just wonderful. In the keynote we heard about a couple guys who are building an entry to the DARPA Grand Challenge -- that's where you build an autonomous vehicle that can drive itself with no human control. Their entry has a budget of ten grand and the two guys are writing all their software in REALbasic. This to compete with university and other research labs with budgets in the millions! And already it looks like these two guys, in just a few months, are going to be very competitive. Really cool story.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006

REAL World 2006



It was another great conference. Exhausting, but that's to be expected. I learned a great deal and made some good contacts. Had a fun time. It's really wild meeting people in person you only know online, and even stranger being at a place where everyone knows and uses REAlbasic! Tonight I head off to Houston, where I'll stay with my cousin and her husband before returning to Portland.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

REAL World 2008



Yesterday I got up at 4 a.m. to get ready for my flight to Texas. The news showed a picture of the U.S. with Oregon/Washington and Texas covered with rain clouds. "Great," I thought. "The two places where I'll be today." Well, not so fast. After 90 minutes on the airplane, they kicked us off saying they had canceled the flight: tornadoes in Texas had shut down the Dallas airport. I was now in a queue of hundreds of others trying to make alternative arrangements. American Airlines had no other flights, but after 90 minutes on the phone, I'd managed to get booked on an overnight Delta flight to Atlanta with a connection to Austin (my destination). The Delta flight was leaving San Francisco at 10 p.m. so I flew down there (having to go through Portland security a second time, this time getting a special "extended check") and arrived at 8 p.m. After waiting in the Delta queue, I was told they had my reservation, but needed an actual ticket voucher from American -- so I had to walk 10 minutes to the American queue (two terminals away). When I finally got to a rep there, they gave me a ticket and I went all the way back to Delta, only to have them tell that despite my confirmed reservation, the flight was overbooked my 18 people and there was no way I was getting on that flight. Delta blamed American, American blamed Delta. What a mess!

I had to go all the way back to the American desk, only to find it now swamped with people, where I had to wait in line for an hour to talk to someone. Nice. I'd only been waiting for American reps about four hours all day so far, why not longer? The American rep was nice but couldn't do much: she couldn't even comp me a hotel as supposedly my whole reason for the missed flight was "weather." (I don't agree: they flew me to San Francisco where I would need a hotel when I could have stayed at home for free.) I was booked on a 10 a.m. flight to Chicago today. I made reservations at a local hotel but the free shuttle never arrived. I'd also called a friend who lived nearby -- he was going to meet me at my hotel but since the shuttle wasn't there, he picked me up instead. After checking in to my room, we went out for a late dinner (it was eleven p.m. but he hadn't eaten yet either). I went to bed at midnight quite exhausted.

I arrived in Chicago at five with the anticipation of a four+ hour wait for my 9:30 flight. But looking at the board I saw there was a 5:45 flight to Austin so I wondered if I couldn't be bumped up. I hurried to the gate where the flight was just starting to board. Unfortunately, the standby list for the flight had 40 people on it! I gave up that dream. (There were still 35 on standby for my flight. I overheard someone say it was because so many people were still trying to make up for missed connections due to the original weather delays and cancelations.) So, to end a long adventure, I arrived in Austin at nearly 1 a.m. (our departure from Chicago was delayed by 30 minutes the flight crew was late).

I missed the whole first day of the conference, though it was kinda neat to be able to keep up with news from the conference via twitter and blog and forum posts with my iPhone.

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Friday, March 26, 2004

REAL World Conference 2004



I had a wonderful time at the first REALbasic conference. There were about 150 REALbasic fanatics, most of whom I knew via the Internet but had never met in person. It was great to put faces with names, domains, and products! I even learned a few things at the conference sessions and sold a few subscriptions, so the trip was well worth it.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reality Check



Book: Reality Check (2008)
Writer(s): Guy Kawasaki

Pretty cool book of tips for entrepreneurs and startups. Nothing revolutionary, but lots of helpful advice on everything from wooing venture capitalists to hiring and firing staff. It's all written in Guy's entertaining and playful style with "top ten" lists and chapter titles like "Lies CEOs Tell." There are stories and anecdotes, quizzes, and best of all, interviews with the authors of other books, so you get a glimpse into other topics (there's even one chapter written by a lawyer who disagrees with some of Guy's advice on patents). I thought at first the book would be slim and not that deep, but it's actually quite extensive and broad, hitting on a wide variety of topics. I especially liked the ending, which featured several chapters on non-profits with some personal stories and interviews that were inspiring. And I loved Guy's Baccalaureate speech on hindsights, a speech Guy has regularly given over the years. (If nothing else, just read that speech and you'll get most of what you need from the book.) There were a few things I didn't like: the main one was the use of a certain profane word for orifice that's repeated like 100 times in one chapter on that topic, and the fact that some of the material is repetitive and feels stretched or padded to reach a certain book length. A condensed version of the book might be more appropriate for most people. But I still enjoyed this and appreciated Guy's common sense approach to business and I learned a few things. I just hope I can remember them!

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Reaping



Movie: The Reaping

Going in I figured this would either be really good or really, really bad. Given the sensational premise -- the Old Testament plagues happening again -- I figured there was no way it could be just mediocre. Well, the producers figured out a way. Oddly, though I wanted to totally hate this, I didn't. Most likely that's just the optimist in me seeing some potential. For instance, the main character's a former ordained missionary who, after the loss of her family, has turned her back on God and is now a scientist who travels the world disproving miracles. Lots of potential there. Unfortunately, the film doesn't really develop the idea, except during character setup and toward the end, when the woman has the expected "revelation." I also liked some aspects of the conclusion -- things are wrapped up to sort of make sense. But throughout the film things make so little sense that by the time the "mystery" is revealed you are long past caring. The real problem with the film is that, like so many pseudo religious films, it just makes up its own mythology, and like most invented mythology, it just sucks. It makes no sense and just feels fake. Real mythology is invented gradually, over a long period of time, and thus has a sense of truth at its core. In this case, after assaulting us with lectures on the Old Testaments ten plagues, the film suddenly pulls out some ridiculous "pre-Christ" prophecy (no source given, but hey, the priest's got some medieval-looking books to read from). Even stupider, the "rational" scientist woman, who can't explain away the plagues she's investigating, suddenly accepts this prophecy as truth and is going to act on it. Crazy! Of course the film has more depths to plumb, so it goes further into idiocy by never really explaining the plagues. I mean, their source is revealed, but there's little logic as to why plagues, in particular. Any other kind of supernatural phenomena would have worked just as well -- except that wouldn't have been a movie-selling gimmick. Okay, though it's not the worst movie of all time, it's pretty terrible and I wouldn't recommend it to a lobotomized yak. But like I said, for some reason, I didn't totally hate it. Very odd.

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Thursday, July 6, 2000

Rebecca



Movie: Rebecca

An absolute masterpiece. In retrospect there's minimal plot -- a shy newly-wed finds her new life haunted by the memory of her husband's beautiful late wife, Rebecca -- but Hitchcock paints such vivid, sympathetic characters that we're on seat's edge until the dramatic finale.

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Tuesday, November 30, 1999

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm



Book: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Writer(s): Kate Douglas Wiggin

I didn't know anything about the book except I had a vague impression that it was a "girlie" book. Nothing could be further from the truth! This is a classic novel about alienation. Rebecca's a girl who doesn't fit in at home, where she's just one of seven children, nor at the home of her two spinster aunts, where she lives for several years, nor at school, where she's not pretty enough for the boys and has too much imagination for her teachers. She's a delight! Modest and self-effacing, with a pure heart, she tries her best but always seems to be causing her conservative aunts trouble (like when she invites company over without telling them). The "plot" of the novel is all characterization: Rebecca, the wild child, is sent to live with her staid aunts in place of her more practical (i.e. useful) sister Hannah, and slowly, over a period of years, she humanizes the old crones into a semblance of life, while growing up herself. This book had many scenes that brought tears to my eyes. For instance, early on we learn about Rebecca's most prized possession, her pink parasol, so precious she carries it under her dress to keep the sun from fading the color. Later, when she earns the outrage of her aunt by inadvertently getting paint on her clothes (she was too busy enjoying the scenery to notice the "wet paint" sign), she concludes her aunt's scolding wasn't nearly enough punishment, so she decides to sacrifice her cherished parasol by throwing it down the well. The parasol gets tangled in the pump, and then her aunts are upset with her for ruining a valuable possession! Poor Rebecca. Her life is full of such minor high drama, and it is a delight to read about such innocent problems (especially in this callous age). The book is surprisingly witty and very entertaining. The humor is of the sneak-up-behind-you kind; I found it delightful. Here's an example. Rebecca has written a poem personalizing her family's dreadful mortgage. When her friend protests that mortgages don't have faces, she says, "Our mortgage has. I should know him if I met him in the dark. Wait and I'll draw him for you. It will be good for you to know how he looks, and then when you have a husband and seven children, you won't allow him to come anywhere within a mile of your farm." The book is full of wonderful stuff like that! A terrific read, highly recommended. Barely dated despite its age. Author Jack London (I'm reading his awesome Call of the Wild right now) wrote Kate Douglas Wiggin a letter about her classic Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm from the headquarters of the First Japanese Army in Manchuria in 1904: "May I thank you for Rebecca?... I would have quested the wide world over to make her mine, only I was born too long ago and she was born but yesterday.... Why could she not have been my daughter? Why couldn't it have been I who bought the three hundred cakes of soap? Why, O, why?" That sums up my feelings exactly!

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Thursday, April 8, 2004

The Reckoning



Movie: The Reckoning

Too predictable -- the trailer spoils all the secrets. It's a great concept, though the title's lame. (It's based on a novel called "Morality Play" and that would have been a better title.) Set in medieval Europe, we begin with a defrocked priest who's hiding a secret and seeking redemption. Escaping the authorities, he winds up with a band of actors, who end up in a town where a deaf-mute woman has just been sentenced to death for murdering a boy. The troup decides to perform a play of the murder, but soon learn that the woman is innocent. A new play, based on the truth the authorities don't want revealed, is then presented, with the priest sacrificing himself for the truth. It's a great concept, terrifically acted and photographed, but the story's slim considering topic, and while much of it is designed to show profoundness, nothing much profound is really revealed. Worth seeing just for the concepts, but too predictable to be a great film.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The Recruit



Movie: The Recruit

Confusing and rather mindless story about a young guy recruited to join the CIA, only everything is not what it seems. Like Alias, the film is filled with cliches and back-stabbing, to the extent that it becomes predictable, because any time anyone says anything you can pretty much bet the opposite is true. Not terrible, not great, just average, and much too predictable. It ends with a whimper, too, which leaves you with a "So what?" kind of feeling. Mildly amusing.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Red



Movie: Red
Writer(s): Jack Ketchum (book)

This is a new film based on Jack Ketchum's novel and it's excellent. It tells the slow tale of an old man whose dog is pointlessly killed by a punk rich kid who thinks it's nothing. But the old man won't let it go and tries criminal and legal proceedings and eventually takes the law into his own hands. It's a fascinating character study, a deep look at revenge and motivation, and is extremely well-acted and produced. It's not a fast or flashy story, but that fits the old man perfectly. Recommended.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Red



Movie: Red

Apparently this bears little resemblance to the comic book upon which it is based, but since I haven't red that, that didn't bother me. I loved the idea of the premise -- retired spies are being hunted down and must use their ancient skills to fight for survival -- and especially the comedy. Unfortunately, while the trailer makes this seem humorous, the humor is sparse and inconsistent. At times it is wonderful and genius, with just the right funny touch to relieve the tension of a crazy situation. But far too much of the film is deadly serious, with no tongue in cheek. The plot is too serious as well, involving a corrupt vice-president abusing his authority. Unmasking that plot takes far too long and the ending after that takes even longer. The film's 30 minutes too long for its light-hearted nature, and the violence both too grim and not consistently over-the-top. It's like the film isn't sure if it's a comedy or an action flick and tries awkwardly to be both. It should have just embraced its humor and go all out for laughs with cool action in between. It's still quite fun and entertaining, but not as good as you might expect or desire. It's worth seeing just for the classic cast (Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Richard Dreyfuss, Karl Urban, etc.) and some wonderful moments of dry humor from Helen Mirren. And wasn't it wonderful to see an ancient Ernest Borgnine still going strong? Recommended if you're a fan of any of these actors.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Red Dawn



Movie: Red Dawn

This is one of those films I've heard about but never saw: it's actually not that bad. It assumes that the Russians have invaded the USA (this was made back in the 80s) and they take over a small Colorado town were several teens escape into the mountains and survive as guerilla warriors and become national heroes as rebellion leaders. The most interesting thing is the cast of soon-to-be big stars, like Patrick Swayze and others, but the acting is hideously poor, the premise too outlandish, and the film alternates between slow and boring and fast and mildly interesting. The result is okay and has some good moments and neat ideas. I can see why it's somewhat of a cult classic, but it's also easy to see why it's not more famous.

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Saturday, October 23, 1999

Red Dragon



Book: Red Dragon (1981)
Writer(s): Thomas Harris

As Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite movies, and this summer I enjoyed the thrillride of Harris' diabolical Hannibal, I figured it was a good time to read the novel that introduced the character of Hannibal Lector to the world. I purposely didn't expect much; after all, Lector's barely in the book, and Harris's masterwork was Silence, right? Wrong. Though I've only seen Silence as a film, Red Dragon is far superior. Silence was about the hunt for a serial killer, with mind games from Lector thrown in to mystify and amuse. We only get glimpses into psyches. Hannibal is the same, as it exposes more of Lector's past. But Lector's not your average serial killer; he's an extraordinary being. Despite what he does, it's hard to not like Lector. Dragon is also about the hunt for a serial killer, but it allows us to see into his mind. It's amazing. First you're presented with his awful crimes, then, when you begin to understand him, you feel sympathy for him! And he's not as sympathetic a character as Lector by any means. Obviously much of the psychology is simplistic and pat; but that's why we read novels and watch movies, because they're easier to understand than real life. I enjoyed this remarkable book very much. Like Silence its subject isn't pleasant, but it's presented in such a clinical fashion it isn't sensationalized.

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Friday, October 4, 2002

Red Dragon



Movie: Red Dragon

Excellent film and good (accurate) adaptation of the book, including some important scenes left out of the original version of this film, Manhunter. However, this doesn't have the magic of Silence of the Lambs. That doesn't make it bad, just not a miracle of filmmaking. I liked the way the film began with Hannibal's capture by Will Graham (something the book only hints at via flashback) as does well to set the tone of the film. Unfortunately the horrible murders by the "Tooth Fairy" aren't as horrific as they should be (like in Manhunter), though there are some chilling moments. The relationship between Dollarhyde (the killer) and Reba is handled extremely well and is one of my favorite parts of the film and the book. For me, that aspect is key to the novel: one gets the feeling how narrow the difference is between sanity and insanity. Under just slightly different circumstance, the two could have made a great couple. Ralph Fiennes does a good job as Dollarhyde, but he's still too good looking (even with the hairlip makeup) to be convincing as a guy who's embarrassed to show his face. I like Manhunter's Tom Noonan better. Overall, however, this is a satisfying film for those who love the characters. I can't say it's better than Manhunter -- they're both different and there are things I like better about each. Both are excellent films worth seeing.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Red Eye



Movie: Red Eye

Interesting and unusual thriller. Rachel McAdams is amazing and that's a good thing, because the whole movie rests on her shoulders -- she's in nearly every frame. She has to convey a wide variety of emotions, and though she looks gorgeous, she can't be too pretty as she needs to be sympathetic. All that is well-handled. Unfortunately, the story's not as strong as I would have liked. It's good but not great. It starts out awesome, with Rachel as a delayed passenger on a flight to Miami who meets a fellow passenger. They have a drink, chat and flirt a bit, and it's all very charming. Then they end up sitting next to each other on the plane -- a romantic coincidence, right? Until after takeoff when the man suddenly turns nasty: he knows all about her, knows her father, and claims to have an associate watching her dad and ready to kill him if she doesn't cooperate. Rachel's terrified, but when she finds out that what the man wants her to do will cost the lives of a politician and his family, she rebels. Thus begins a wonderful battle of wills in the belly of a 747. What I loved about this concept, and what the promos seemed to promote, was that the two would fight it out on the airplane -- and I adore such tight-knit action, especially when it has to be done under the unsuspecting noses of the fellow passengers and flight crew. Unfortunately, while there's a tiny bit of that, most of the action takes place after the plane lands, and then it's derivative and falls into standard action fare. It's not bad, just not as good as I wanted or it could have been. This film could have been unique and amazing, but as it is it's just pretty good (and most of that is due to the first half and to McAdams' performance). Still, it's a fun ride and worth seeing.

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Saturday, October 26, 2002

Red Planet



Movie: Red Planet

Another "first manned mission to Mars" film. Not terrible like I expected, but nothing to write home about. Extremely predictable -- the "loser" janitor (Val Kilmer) is the only survivor (duh, he's the only star). Had a few interesting moments, but overall is a good movie to watch while reading a book.

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Wednesday, December 29, 1999

The Red Shoes



Movie: The Red Shoes (1948)
Writer(s): Hans Christian Anderson (story) and Michael Powell
Director(s): Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

I'll confess up front that I bought this movie knowing next to nothing about it. I'm glad I did; it's a very cool film. It's about ballet dancers. Sounds boring, right? Actually, it wasn't. We follow the life of a ballerina and her composer boyfriend as they become world famous via their production of "The Red Shoes," a ballet based on the Hans Christian Anderson story about a ballerina whose red shoes cause her to dance and dance until she dies. Ultimately this film is about the conflict between love of art and human love, as the lead is asked to choose between dancing and her boyfriend. Quite a complex and unusual movie. The pacing is very different; it seems like it shouldn't work, but it does. I need to watch it again to figure out why.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2000

The Red Violin



Movie: The Red Violin (1998)
Director(s): Francois Girard

An incredible, mesmerizing, and remarkable film. I'll be honest and say I usually don't like "art" films: even good ones tend to be ponderous and boring. Like brussel sprouts, they may be good for you, but they taste terrible.

This film held me captivated. I couldn't stop watching, even for tonight's Star Trek (don't worry, I recorded it). I doubt it's because I used to play the violin as a child: I hated practicing and grew to loath the instrument (though I can appreciate it when it's played well). I must admit, however, the film inspired a curiosity in me: how would I be different if I hadn't stopped playing?

This film is put together in a masterful fashion: we begin in the present at an auction where the Red Violin is about to go on sale. Then we switch to 17th century Italy where the master craftsman Nicolo Bussotti is making his finest violin in honor of his about-to-born son. Then we follow the violin's life through 300 years and a half-dozen countries to the present day, at the auction. The film takes us to diverse places: Italy, Germany, England, China, Montreal, New York, each with their own language (subtitled, of course), and each with their own musical style (my favorite was the gypsy music). Periodically, the film switches to Bussotti's wife, the expectant mother, as her fortune is being told by a tarot card reader, but we see that the future revealed is not hers or her son's, but the violin's. We also switch to the auction house. What's amazing is that the director not only handles these switches with a deftness that brings increased power to the scenes, but he's clever enough to overlap and vary them slightly, showing us identical scenes from different perspectives. It gives one the feeling that time is an ocean and we're just drifting through it, hearing bits and glimpses of living history as we float past. The film is never boring: every time you think you know what's going to happen, the film surprises you with little twists and turns. Gradually the film drifts into a modern forensic detective story as a violin scientist traces the history of the remarkable violin and attempts to verify its authenticity.

This film is as complex and varied as a symphony, with incredible violin music and performances (Pope's solo is astonishing). It reveals a musician's love for an instrument, a unique bond only musicians can truly understand. (The scenes with the young orphan, who sleeps with the precious Red Violin beside him, are incredibly touching.) This film encompasses myriad human emotions -- grief, joy, wonder, lust, greed, hatred, and sacrifice -- all through an inanimate object. By the end of the film, you'll feel as I do, that the Red Violin is alive, and will outlive us all, and within it will forever live all the people it touched over the centuries.

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Saturday, October 19, 2002

Reel Future



Book: Reel Future

This is an excellent collection of science fiction short stories and novellas that were made into great motion pictures. It's wonderful, with incredible variety that makes science fiction so awesome. We've got the original stories that inspired The Fly, Total Recall, The Thing, 2001 -- A Space Odyssey, Re-Animator, The Illustrated Man, The Day the Earth Stood Still, They Live, Death Race 2000, Damnation Alley, Millenium, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Enemy Mine, and many more. The stories are often quite different from the films ("The Fly," for instance, is set in Paris), but they're obviously special stories that inspired directors to make them into films. This is a profound collection that will make you think and inspire you to watch some great science fiction films.

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Rehab



Today Grandpa was transferred to Oakwood, a local care facility, where he'll stay for a few weeks, learning to use his new hip. There are things he's not supposed to do (like bend over 90 degrees) because that might dislocated his hip. He rode over to Oakwood in a wheelchair van and seemed to like that a lot -- he didn't even have to get out of his wheelchair. His room at Oakwood is nice and there's a facility cat that visits his room regularly as it has the best window. Oakwood actually encourages pets -- it suggests you bring yours when you come to visit. That's awesome. Instead of regarding pets as dirty animals, they feel they are a health benefit, and I agree (especially for the elderly).

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Sunday, January 19, 2003

Reign of Fire



Movie: Reign of Fire

Oddly uninteresting special effect action flick about an earth dominated by fire-breathing dragons who've destroyed 99% of the world's population. What bothered me the most is that with this kind of special effect vehicle what we want to see are the dragons, and we don't. Well, we catch glimpses, but there's little except for fire that shows us how powerful they are. But it's not convincing -- we don't really believe that even nuclear weapons couldn't even stop them. Ridiculous. At the film's climax we're finally face-to-face with a dragon, but that's way too late. Lame. It's actually not that badly written or acted, it's just not compelling. The dragons just aren't enough of the film. Since they're supposed to be the main villains, it's dumb not to show them.

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Friday, October 27, 2000

Reindeer Games



Movie: Reindeer Games

Waste of talent. Strong cast disappoints because of lame script. This is an example of a movie where someone says, "Hey, this plot is too simple -- let's muck it up a bit." The result is a qualified mess. The plot sounds like it could be good. Two guys in prison are about to get out. One is going to meet his penpal girlfriend for the first time. Instead, he gets stabbed in a prison riot and the other guy pretends to be him and meets the girl for him. Turns out, her brother read their letters and knows the guy worked a certain casino and wants him to help them rob the place. So now the pretender's in an awkward spot, right? He doesn't know anything about the casino, but he's being forced to assist in a robbery. Well, it goes downhill from there, as no one is what they seem. By the end of the movie, nothing surprises you, and you don't care about any of the characters. The ending is so lame and convoluted that it ruins any momentum the rest of the movie had (which wasn't much). Disappointing.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Remembrance



Movie: Remembrance
Writer(s): Joel Pincosy
Director(s): Joel Pincosy

Really nice little film short by up-and-coming director Joel Pincosy. It's about an elderly man reflecting on the changes in his life as he faces minor conflicts with his family and growing old. Nicely done with excellent performances. It's simple and elegant. I loved the smooth transitions to the flashbacks and the way there's not much dialogue but the story's obvious from what you see. Worth checking out if you can find it.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Reno 911: Miami



Movie: Reno 911: Miami

I was going to a different movie but traffic slowed and I missed it, so I went to this one, which looked mildly interesting. As I feared, it had more crudity than I appreciate, but it also had some really funny bits. I've never watched the comedy series on TV so I didn't know what to expect; it's basically incompetent cops doing really stupid stuff. The plot's thinner than a Miami bikini, but that's part of the joke. Overall, not as bad as I expected with a few hilarious scenes.

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Sunday, July 15, 2001

Repo Man



Movie: Repo Man (1984)

Very odd film. I can't remember why I rented it, except it was supposed to be a classic. A guess that meant a cult classic, because this is a bizarre and terrible film. It's a dumb story about morons. The plot is a mishmash about a kid who gets a job repossessing cars, a group of UFO fanatics who hide alien corpses in the trunk of car (which, duh, gets repossessed), and secret government types out to hide the reality of aliens in our midst. The film's got some humor (some of it's just odd, some of it is a bit of social commentary) which helps, but it's also got a nasty tone with lots of swearing and dark violence which is at odds with the silly humor. I found the movie uncomfortable to watch. I suppose I would have liked it better if I'd known a bit more of what to expect -- sort of an Airplane crossed with The X-Files -- but the film is a little too serious to be taken as a parody, yet to unrealistic to be a UFO or sci-fi film. It's a strange beast. I can see how it could be a cult classic, and usually I love those, but this one I can do without.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Repo Men



Movie: Repo Men

This is an unpleasant movie. I didn't know much about it going in, but it looked science-fictiony and has some big stars (Jude Law, Forest Whitaker). Unfortunately, it has no story. Or rather, no focus. The story is little more than the gimmick of a future society where expensive artificial organs are commonplace and if you stop making payments on your heart or liver, some "repo" men will come and yank it out of you. If it so happens that you can't live without the organ, well, that's just too bad for you. The producers of this film seem to think this is the best idea ever and hammer home the whole concept incessantly. There is a slight plot, in that our lead repo guy ends up with an artificial heart himself and can't pay and his former partner must hunt him down (gee, I never saw that coming), and I guess we're supposed to be moved by this jerk's sudden role reversal as he changes his view when he's suddenly at the other end of the repossessing, but everything's so ham-handled and pointless that we really don't care. The film is far more violent and bloody than I expected, with gory surgeries on living people and graphic blood splatters and chaotic shootings. As far as science fiction, the sets and look of the film is mildly interesting, but the lack of story and the predictable characters makes it hardly worth it. The film also has lame multiple endings, and a lot of stuff toward the end doesn't make sense until later. There are a few interesting ideas, but little is developed, the characters are nothing more than stereotypes, and the entire experience is unpleasant. Avoid.

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Friday, December 31, 1999

Reservoir Dogs



Movie: Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Writer(s): Quentin Tarantino
Director(s): Quentin Tarantino

I saw this a few years ago when Quentin hit the mainstream; my impression then was it was interesting, but violent and strangely structured. Perhaps I've changed, or I paid more attention this time, but the movie struck me as quite simple, though the perspective was unusual. It's basically a very interesting look at a gang of thieves just before and after a heist that goes bad. There really isn't much violence (we see lots of blood, but much of it happens off-screen). Amazing the way a good director can make something complex out of something simple.

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Saturday, September 14, 2002

Resident Evil



Movie: Resident Evil

Disturbing zombie flick based on the popular video game. A corporation's underground research facility is contaminated by a biological weapon that reanimates dead tissue (i.e. turns the dead into the living dead). A team is sent in to investigate the status of the facility and discovers this, and must try to get out alive.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D



Movie: Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D

Typical of these kinds of films, this is less of a movie than a series of set pieces. They don't always join together or make much sense (the beginning sequence is especially bewildering), but often they are quite fun and entertaining. The hyped 3D in this isn't much: a few of the slow-motion action scenes include 3D bullets shooting toward you. I did like the 3D rain in a couple of scenes. But I wouldn't recommend you pay extra for the 3D. The film itself is not bad. It's not great, even among the others in this series, but it does have a few terrific moments, some nice action scenes, a few scares, and some interesting scenery. The plot is... well, nonsensical would be charitable. But then these movies don't really need a plot more that "a group of people trapped by killer zombies." That the film tries to be more than that is reaching and comes across as pretentious. I also wasn't too impressed with the ending, which is one of those annoying "stop in the middle of a sentence and wait for the sequel" endings. But overall, a fun film if you like zombie movies. If you like the previous ones, you'll probably like this one.

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Friday, September 10, 2004

Resident Evil: Apocalypse



Movie: Resident Evil: Apocalypse

If you liked the first Resident Evil , you'll probably like this one. It's not as clausterphobic as the original (it takes place above crowd), but it's got action and plenty of famished undead. The "plot," if movies like this have one, is that the Umbrella Corporation has gone back into the underground labs from the first movie and accidentally released the zombie-creating virus into the city. Within hours the city is madness. The entire city is locked down and shut, leaving everyone trapped inside as dead. Of course that includes our heroes, the girl from the first movie, as well as some new characters: a female cop, a black cop, a reporter, a civilian, and a little girl. The child is the key: her father was the scientist who created the virus. He was evacuated but his daughter was trapped inside, so he makes a deal with the surviving group that if they rescue his daughter he'll get them out of the city. The film moves at a great pace, has some cool action, some gore (the business with the dogs was gross and scary), and a lot of paranoia. I really liked the ending, which twisted everything and sets up a third movie. It's a cool franchise: absurd but fun if you're into zombie flicks.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Resident Evil: Extinction



Movie: Resident Evil: Extinction

I liked the earlier two films, but this one falls short. It has a couple nice moments, but much of the film is routine zombie slashing and not particularly inventive. The film ends awkwardly, grinding to a halt versus soaring to a climax, leaving you with a "That's it?" feeling. Not terrible, and it actually fit my fatigued mood perfectly as I enjoyed not having to think, but there's not much here you haven't seen better before.

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Monday, October 30, 2000

Restless Spirits



Movie: Restless Spirits

Cool little Canadian film about a 12-year-old girl recovering from the death of her pilot father a few years earlier. Her brother won't talk and she and her mother fight constantly. They move to their grandmother's in Newfoundland, where the girl meets some ghosts. The ghosts turn out to be two French pilots who'd flown from France in 1928 attempting to beat Lindberg at crossing the Atlantic, but crashed in Newfoundland. The trick is that the ghosts don't know they're ghosts, or that it's 70 years later. Every time the fog comes in, they relive the crash again. Anyway, helping the lost pilots helps the girl cope with the loss of her father. Sounds a lot like a Hallmark movie-of-the-week thing, but very well written, with realism, logic, and sly humor. The girl is terrific.

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Sunday, December 29, 2002

The Return of Sherlock Holmes



Book: The Return of Sherlock Holmes
Writer(s): Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Cool book of Sherlock Holmes short stories. I've read a number of Holmes stuff, but never this collection, which was apparently done after Doyle "killed off" Holmes in a previous story. It was six years before he used this book to bring Holmes back from the dead. The first story explains how that happened (Holmes was never dead, of course, but in hiding, something I found a bit odd for Holmes to do). The other stories deal with various adventures of the famous dectective, and they're very cool. A few are simpler and involve less "detecting," and a few annoyingly rely on knowledge Holmes has that Watson, the narrator, does not, making it nigh impossible for the reader to figure out the mystery. But the best thing about Holmes has always been his manner of stating something outrageous as fact, seeming gaining the knowledge from a supernatural source. But of course, once the explanation is provided, it seems too simple. It's much like a magician's trick, which seems impossible (did they cut her in half???) but is disappointingly down-to-earth when the secret is revealed (there were two women, one curled in each half of the box so the feet wiggled and made you think it was the same woman lying down). The magical explanation is much more satisfactory and fascinating.

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Thursday, May 1, 2003

Revenge: A Story of Hope



Book: Revenge: A Story of Hope
Writer(s): Laura Blumenfeld

I received this audio book as a gift: I doubt I would have gotten it on my own, but it's a fascinating story. It's a true story, something I didn't realize until partway through. It's about an American woman who's father is almost killed while on a trip to Israel. Years later, the daughter, now a journalist, travels to Israel on a quest for revenge. She wants to seek out the man who tried to kill her father. It sounds like an outrageous idea, especially for a woman (and considering her father wasn't permanently injured). Laura questions her quest frequently, and in many places the book resembles a journal of her doubts and fears more than a story about revenge. Ultimately, it's a story about healing as she meets the assassinŐs kind family (they don't know her true identity) and she begins to communicate with him (she discovers he's in prison for his crime). Fascinating, even more so considering it's true, and especially in light with Sept. 11 and the recent freeing of Iraq.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Revolution in the Valley



Book: Revolution in the Valley
Writer(s): Andy Hertzfeld

Terrific annecnotes about the creation of the Macintosh computer back in the early 1980s. Andy was one of the original software developers who wrote many key parts of the OS and his insights and memories in these short stories really bring the creation process to life. Read it even if you're not interested in computers or Macintosh, simply because it provides a wonderful look at what it was like to create something so ground-breaking.

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Saturday, March 15, 2003

Revolution OS



Movie: Revolution OS

Interesting documentary on the development of the open source movement and Linux in particular. Little here I didn't know going in, but it was interesting to put faces on people I've read on the Internet or heard about. Like most documentaries, this one commits the "introduce once and never again" flaw, displaying text to identify interviewees initially, but failing to do so later in the film. With 20-some people interviewed, it's tough remembering who is who. I wish documentaries would just identify the person every time they are on screen, like a virtual name badge. That wouldn't hurt anything and it'd be extremely helpful. There were a few people I never did figure out who they were. Lame. The big problem with this film is who is it for? It's an excellent documentary for people who don't know much about open source or the free software movement; for those of us who are fans, it's not particularly informative and seems to try to avoid technical material. So if it's not for geeks, it's for average technical people, and yet the subject matter seems targeted at geeks. I guess you run that battle with anything technical. However, as usual, I find that filmmakers assume their audiences are dumber than they are (even documentary filmmakers). The most fascinating aspect of this film to me is the conflict between the free software movement and the open source movement. The distinction between the two is subtle but significant: the free software movement thinks all software should be free, while the open source movement simply thinks there's a place for both free and commercial software in the same market. Watching the debate on this issue by the leaders of the movements would have been awesome, but while the film explains the debate, we aren't treated to any kind of conflict, which was disappointing. I also would have preferred more Microsoft bashing, as that aspect of the software market is given short shrift. However, keep in mind this all from a geek's point of view. If you don't know much about this topic or want a refresher, this is an excellent film. The explanations and definitions come right from the people who invented this stuff and it's surprisingly well-explained without getting too technical.

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Monday, October 21, 2002

The Ring



Movie: The Ring

The premise is totally a gimmick: everyone who watches a particular videotape dies seven days later. However, this is like The Sixth Sense is that respect: the gimmick is a small part of the film. Unfortunately, the explanation for the gimmick is a little unsatisfactory, but ultimately that has little impact on the power of this film. The images are haunting, the drama suspenseful, and the mystery intriguing. One thing I liked is that we get to watch the videotape early in the film: other gimmicky films of this nature wait until the end to reveal the big secret and it's always a letdown. Here we see the video just twenty minutes in and then get to see the bizarre images explained throughout the rest of the film. In terms of creepiness, this film is definitely up there. There isn't that much gore or violence, just bizarre and horrible images (like an overhead shot of thousands of writhing worms suddenly being thousands writhing human bodies). The film, like the videotape in the story, gets under your skin. Part of that is Naomi Watts' performance and personality: she's so down-to-earth yet gutsy, intelligent (but still stupid enough to watch the tape), that you just can't help but root for her. The little boy in the film is oddly compelling. He's a blatant rip-off of Haley Joel Osment, using the same facial expressions and speaking style, but it's still effective (I liked the intelligence of his character, though his acting is almost robotic). Regarding the mystery, it's good, almost satisfactorily explaining the videotape. I won't say more lest it spoil things. It actually gets better the more you think about it. The film does not openly explain everything -- there are mysteries left for you to figure out after you've left the theatre. One aspect of this I really liked is the ring itself: you've probably seen the ring image in the promos. What's cool is that ring image is core to the explanation: it's something ordinary, just seen from an unusual perspective. Very cool. If you like intelligent, unusual suspense, like The Sixth Sense, you'll like this film. It's more complicated and less gimmicky than Sense, and the direction is excellent. This film is based on the Japanese film Ringu, which I'd love to see now. I'm sure some will be overly critical about the unexplained mysteries and gimmicks, but that's part of what happens in this genre: there are always false scares and things that aren't explained logically. But this film is definitely above average, and I personally love all the mysteries: there are plenty of clues in the film that explain them, if you're willing to use your brain.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Ring Two



Movie: The Ring Two

I was not expecting this to be as good as the first one and I hadn't heard positives about it in the theatres (though I hadn't read any particular reviews or anything), but it turned out to be pretty good. It mostly reminded me how excellent the original one was: very intelligent despite the gimmicky premise. This one is similarly twisted, but has some intelligent logic in the story. In this case, Samara, the demon girl in the well from the first film, wants to take over our heroine's son to use his body and escape her hell, and get her revenge as well. The mom and son have moved to Astoria, Oregon (very cool coastal town a couple hours from where I live) but Samara finds them. Again most of the horror is subtle mind tricks, but it's effective, and the film feels dreadful even when it's showing scenes of sunlight and beauty. Ultimately this film isn't as good as the first one -- it unfortunately deteriorates to typical horror -- but it gets surprisingly close and the pyschological horror of a mother watching her son become another person is really interesting and terrifying. The performances are excellent and if you liked the first one, you should enjoy this one as well.

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Friday, October 15, 1999

Ringworld



Book: Ringworld (1970)
Writer(s): Larry Niven

It won a Hugo award, but I'd never read this classic science fiction story until now. Frankly, it's got a little too much science and not enough fiction, for my taste. Niven's created an amazing world: Ringworld is an artificial structure three million times the size of Earth, a million-mile wide strip of land six hundred million miles long that spins around a sun. Centrifugal force gives it gravity, and 1000 mile high walls on the rims keep in the atmosphere. It's got two oceans each several times bigger than the entire surface of Earth. Basically, it's humongous, the ideal solution for over-crowding. The story centers on four bickering creatures (two alien species and two humans) who crashland on Ringworld and struggle to escape. The characters are well-done and believable, but the psychonalysis is overly complicated (though accurate); I really didn't care if any of them lived or died. Read Ringworld for the fantastic world, not for the story. I'll have to see if the sequel, The Ringworld Engineers is better.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rio



Movie: Rio

The trailers did not give me confidence as most of the jokes seemed lame they gave zero indication of a plot. To my surprise, this is really very good. It's about a blue macaw that's birdnapped from Brazil as a child and grows up in icy Minnesota. He never learned to fly but was adopted by a little girl who grows into a geeky woman and the two are best friends and run a little bookstore together. I loved the way the film took its time establishing their relationship, which was wonderful and is the heart of the film. When she and the bird go to Brazil, he gets lost in the jungle. Not being able to fly and out of his element (almost literally a fish out of water), we follow his adventures as he seeks to return to her. There are dual romances happening: the bird with a female blue macaw, and the girl with a local ornithological who is helping her track down Blu. Mixed in with all this are wacky characters, both animal and human, and the feel of Rio was definitely captured. It's charming, fun, light-hearted, and it didn't have any of the sleazy cheap jokes that seemed to fill the trailer (they go by so quickly in the film they're scarcely noticeable). Definitely worth the look.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes



Movie: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I was really hopeful of this one as I loved the concept (humans make apes smarter and apes take over), but after the disappointing Cowboys and Aliens and the CGI apes looking questionable in some of the trailers, I kept my expectations low. To my surprise, this was really good. I worried that it would be mostly an apes-versus-human battle, but instead the film is mostly about the development of the apes. Our scientist has a human side, as he's searching for a cure for Alzheimer's to help his ill father, and it's that drug that he develops that spurs the apes rise to power. There are weak aspects, such as the girlfriend role which is just wasted, but I really appreciated the slow, realistic development of the apes. This isn't the "ape gets injection and a week later apes have taken over" which I feared. Instead, the main ape is very human: we seem him slowly go from loving humans to being mistreated and misunderstood and learning to prefer his own kind. It's actually quite extraordinary that a big-budget Hollywood scifi movie would take that sort of realistic character development. I also didn't have any problems with the CGI monkeys -- they looked amazingly good throughout. Some shots in the trailers looked fake, but maybe they were early cuts before the special effects were finalized. Ultimately I'm not sure if this is a classic -- it's certainly not as ground-breaking as the original -- but it's a terrific restart of the series and I'm looking forward to more.

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Saturday, December 9, 2000

River's Edge



Movie: River's Edge

A gripping, disturbing film about callous teens and a murder. I saw this many years ago and it hasn't lost its edge. If I remember right, it was based on a true story. Essentially, one boy murders a girl and his friends don't really seem bothered by it. Quite revealing about modern society. Some really good moments with Keanu Reaves' character's screwed up mother and how she can't figure out why her kids are so messed up.

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Sunday, March 23, 2003

Riverworld



Movie: Riverworld
Writer(s): Philip Jose Farmer (novels)

This was a SciFi Channel movie. I've seen Farmer's novels but never read anything by him: I guess I'll have to check him out. This is a fascinating premise: dead people wake up underwater, swim to the surface, and find themselves in a new world. All the people who ever died on earth are here, the famous and the infamous. Some unknown person or power has resurrected them, for an unknown purpose. This new world is ruled by primitive gangs, and the main character finds himself in a battle to help one gang who've built a riverboat. (The guy who runs it, Sam, turns out to be author Mark Twain.) Unfortunately, in this in this film we're never given an explanation for the resurrection, which is what we really want. Instead we're treated to a minor action saga of intrigue, betrayal, and sword fighting. Big whoop. As expected, the good guys win. Duh. Perhaps this movie will lead to a TV series or more movies: it certainly ends with that implication, as we see shadowy figures in hoods who apparently are in control behind the scenes. As this movie stands by itself, it's TV quality, but the premise is above average and if they make sequels or a TV show, it could be excellent.

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Friday, October 19, 2001

The Road to El Dorado



Movie: The Road to El Dorado

Pretty good animated musical. The songs were so-so (the lyrics sucked big time), but I liked the story, the artwork, and the two main characters (bumbling con artists who find El Dorado and are mistaken for gods). Above average, but not up to the standards of films like Toy Story II.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Road to Perdition



Movie: Road to Perdition (2002)

Wow, I had no idea what I was getting into. I guess I should have read up on this before going to see it. I figured it was a drama, but I didn't know it was a gangster flick, and I didn't know it was an action movie. In some ways that was a good thing, because I'm not crazy about Mob films (I find the American fascination with the Mob incomprehesible). But I did like this movie; very much, in fact. It's the best film I've seen this year. The plot is about a 1930s family headed by Tom Hanks. Tom works as an enforcer for a mobster. That's a role I didn't quite buy for Tom. (The scene at the end, with him and the Tommy gun, didn't work for me: I wanted to laugh at Tom pretending to be tough.) When his son accidently witnesses a hit, the entire family is to be terminated, and Tom only just escapes with his son and they're on the run the rest of the film. It's pretty exciting, with good characterizations and drama, and I really liked the story. The young son is excellent, one of the best performances of the year. He really captures the torment of a young child being forced to grow up overnight. The film touches on the question of morality, making us wonder if Tom Hanks is a good guy or a bad guy, but doesn't really explore that as much as it could. It concludes with the boy saying, "He was my father," something meant to be profound which comes across as avoiding the question, though it does remind us that fathers are only human. Good stuff overall. I loved the plot, the characters, and the way it was directed. The action sequences were very good, very gritty and realistic, though a portion of the Jude Law bad guy character came across as stereotypically evil. The performance of Paul Newman as the mobster was superb. Well worth your time, though I'm not completely convinced this is a classic we'll watch in 50 years.

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Sunday, December 8, 2002

The Road to Wellville



Movie: The Road to Wellville

Strange film. I'd heard a lot about this and the premise sounded interesting: set in the early 1900's, it's based on the real-life of Dr. Kellogg (who invented Corn Flakes) and the strange cures offered at his sanitarium. Unfortunately, most of the humor is of a scatalogical nature, making it uncomfortable viewing. It's not really funny... or is it? I guess that depends on your point of view. I found it more interesting from the historical perspective, and felt the plot was predictable and the comedy lame. Worth seeing just for it's uniqueness, however.

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Sunday, September 9, 2001

Road Trip



Movie: Road Trip (2000)

Surprisingly good. I expected this to be terrible, but it actually had a bit of heart. The plot's typical: a guy and his girlfriend go to different colleges and he accidentally mails her a videotape of his affair with another girl (instead of his video letter), so he and his pals hit the road to reach Texas and intercept the tape. Chaos ensues. But instead of a series of mindless visual jokes, the mishaps actually help grow the kids, and by the time the guy reaches the girl, he realizes he doesn't really love her and when she breaks up with him, he's okay with that. Meanwhile, the girl he had the "affair" with turns out to be a decent gal who really loves him. It's not Shakespeare by any stretch, but it's got its moments. It's not quite as funny as I might have expected, but I actually liked that it treated the characters more seriously than most of these kinds of films.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

RocknRolla



Movie: RocknRolla
Director(s): Guy Ritchie

I like some of Ritchie's other movies, but this one left me wanting more. It's an interesting premise and sounds cool, but the conclusion is wimpy and the film doesn't have the payout you'd expect. Basically we get into a typically convoluted plot about gangsters and druggies and schemers who all overlap and entangle, and usually the ending of such a film is quite brilliant. This one tries, and while the ending isn't bad, it's just missing a little something. After such a complicated setup, it ends abruptly, and there are gaps, pieces of the story left unfinished (at least it feels that way). It's not bad, and quite fun in a lot of places, but ultimately you aren't left with anything that special. I did find it interesting that the film ended with a clear indication of a sequel coming.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired



Movie: Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

Fascinating documentary on genius director Roman Polanski and his legal troubles stemming from a case in the 1970s acusing him of having sexual with a 13-year-old girl. In short, he and the judge agreed to a plea bargain, but when the media criticized it, the judge backtracked and was not going to honor his decision, so Roman fled the country and has never been back to the U.S. where he is still subject to arrest. It's a sad and complicated tale that has some gray areas. While it seems Roman did commit a crime, there is evidence that the sex was consensual, and though that does not make it right, when you consider Roman's foreign background, it is possible he didn't even realize what he was doing was illegal here in the U.S.A. (he apparently was very open with police officials in the investigation as though he didn't think he'd done anything wrong). What's really bizarre in this case is the judge, who was a publicity hound, and went along with public opinion while hanging out with celebrities. The bottom line is that the trial was a real mess from beginning to end, with excessive media coverage, the little girl wishing she hadn't come forward, Polanski's career damaged, and no satisfactory resolution for anything or any one. Even stranger, it sounds like the judge's plan was to deport Polanski anyway, so the current result is about the same either way. Very strange situation and it brings up all kinds of things about how celebrities are treated. In some ways, Polanski got off easy -- but there's also the possibility that if he hadn't been famous and wealthy and already tainted (his wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by Charles Manson), the case would have been forgotten in a week, in which case it was his celebrity that made him a scapegoat. This is a good documentary but still leaves a few questions unanswered and unexplored, most likely because there are no answers, unfortunately. But as a glimpse into controversial history and a look at a rare artist, it is enlightening. Recommended.

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Thursday, November 16, 2000

Romeo Must Die



Movie: Romeo Must Die

Okay action flick with some nice scenes, but the writer seemed to think obtuse meant profound. In the end, rather predictable, but watchable, if you like Kung Fu action movies.

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Friday, November 24, 2000

Rosemary's Baby



Movie: Rosemary's Baby
Writer(s): Roman Polanski (screenplay), Ira Levin (novel)
Director(s): Roman Polanski

Really well-done thriller without a single special effect! An ordinary young couple move into a new apartment and set about having a family. Gradually the woman comes to believe that her friendly neighbors are witches who want to steal her child. Terrific exercise in paranoia, suspicion, and doubt. Roman cleverly leaves things ambiguous so we wonder if the woman imagined everything or if she really gave birth to Satan's child. Fascinating example of how to put together a gripping, tension-filled film without any action or graphic effects. Holds up very well over the years.

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Sunday, May 27, 2001

Rosewood



Movie: Rosewood

Interesting historical drama about a real-life racial massacre that occurred in 1923 in the deep South. My main criticism is that the "plot" was predictable, but since the story's true, I guess that's not much of a knock against it, though the director could have done more to focus on unique and more interesting aspects of the story. Basically, a white woman gets beat up by her white lover and blames it on an unknown black man, and in the lynch mob mentality of the time, dozens of blacks are rousted and murdered. The film's long (142 minutes), dark, and slow, though it has some good performances. Many of the characters are well-defined, gray, not black or white, which makes for a more interesting and realistic story. It's also more violent than I expected, at times almost a war between blacks and whites.

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Saturday, September 18, 1999

Rounders



Movie: Rounders (1998)
Writer(s): David Levien & Brian Koppelman
Director(s): John Dahl

Interesting movie. It's about a law student, played by Matt Damon, who's into poker. Making a living at poker is called "rounding" (hence the title). He's good at it -- says that card-playing has nothing to do with luck, it's mostly skill. Shades of his math genius character from Good Will Hunting, but not so smart. His dream is to play at the World Series Poker Championships in Las Vegas, but he loses his stake in a game with a Russian mobster (an excellent John Malkovich). Swearing to his girlfriend he's done with poker for good, he of course falls back into it, encouraged by his hard-luck childhood friend (an awesome Edward Norton) just out of jail with debts to pay. Trying to help his friend, he gets deep in debt, and with his back against the wall he's got to play his way out, challenging the Russian mobster again. The basic "moral" is that this is what he was born to do -- he must live out his dream or be unhappy. Good, low key, a lot of bad language, and some terrific acting.

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Thursday, April 24, 2003

The Royal Tennebaums



Movie: The Royal Tennebaums
Director(s): Wes Anderson

While I've liked other Wes Anderson films like Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, I was severely disappointed by this movie. The critics loved it and had me expecting it to be better than Rushmore. Like most of his stuff it's not "ha ha" funny, but usually his work has a deeper motive and is at least occasionally hilarious. This bizarre movie is a mishmash of strange people who make up a family. It isn't the least bit funny. I cared not a whit about any of the idiot family members. Frankly, I thought it boring, unoriginal, and ridiculously overblown. I don't know what moron critics thought this was good, because it's not. Granted, it's not the worst film ever made, not by a long shot. However, it's pointless; there is no story; the characters are bizarre for weirdness sake; and everyone is a idiot. I find some potential in the concept and I liked certain aspects of the implementation (the narration is mildly amusing), but overall the thing just flops. Maybe my attitude will change in a second viewing, but I don't know what it would take to get me to watch this slow-moving dog again.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

The Ruins



Movie: The Ruins

I wasn't too interested in this film, but there wasn't much else out there. It turned out to be better than I expected. The premise is a group of American tourists go off the beaten path to a hidden Aztec ruin only to meet gruesome deaths due to Something Awful. Typical of these kinds of horror films, they are killed off one-by-one, and I guess we're supposed to be in suspense as to who will survive. It is the monster in this story that is different and unusual, and that's pretty cool (I won't spoil it by revealing the creature), and the characters, though somewhat stereotypical and not fully developed, are compelling enough to carry the film. There are a few surprises, but it's still too predictable, and it's more gory than scary. Still kinda fun, though.

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Thursday, February 27, 2003

The Rules of Attraction



Movie: The Rules of Attraction

This nightmare is like some film school dropout's hideous concoction. It's a mess. There's no story or plot, the characters are all horribly self-indulgent idiotic losers, and the director tries to make up for all that with fancy camera tricks, quick edits, freeze frames, and showing entire scenes in reverse. Here's a tip, moron: if it doesn't make sense going forward, running it backward won't help! The story, what there is of it, is a bunch of college kids out to score drugs and sex. That's pretty much it. It's one party after another. It's vulgar, dumb, and disgusting. Even the young and pretty cast can't save it. Pointless. Unquestionably one of the worst films of all time.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2000

Run Lola Run



Movie: Run Lola Run (1998)
Writer(s): Tom Tykwer
Director(s): Tom Tykwer

This is a fascinating film from Germany. It works on many levels, but because of its MTV-like style and pace, plus it's unusual "plot," it's difficult to follow on the first viewing. At first I thought it simplistic, but it actually is quite deep -- it's just that the glossy style makes you think it's a silly music video. Essentially the movie's about a girl who must get 100,000 marks ($60,000) to her boyfriend in twenty minutes or he'll be killed. The twenty minute race to find the money and get it to her boyfriend is repeated three times, each with a different outcome (generated by slight changes in initial decisions). It's a fascinating premise, and as well done as it could be -- but ultimately it seems gimmicky and of course it can't escape that it feels like a movie, not real life. Still, there were many very cool effects. One of my favorites was the "fast forwards," where Lola bumps into a character and with a series of photographic snapshots we see that character's entire future in a few seconds: meeting a woman, falling in love, marriage, a baby, a whole family, etc. This only happens a few times in the film so it doesn't get old; it's very cool. The DVD is worth watching as it has a director's commentary which is surprisingly good. One annoyance: the dubbed English and English subtitles use completely different translations. Why do films do this? Really dumb. I guess it was never an issue before DVDs as with video you either get the dubbed or the subtitled version, but I've seen it on several DVDs and it's incredibly irritating. (I like subtitles as they make it easier to follow the story.)

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Run Ronnie Run!



Movie: Run Ronnie Run!

Rather distasteful but occasionally brilliantly funny story about a rural idiot who's always getting arrested and ends up in Hollywood on his own reality TV series (where each week he gets arrested in a different city). It's a mildly amusing idea, but the main character is such a doofus you really don't care about it or the story. What saves the movie (though only marginally) are all the little in-between gags, like the very-well-done reality TV scenes, and things like -- my favorite -- an outrageously awful music video interlude. The whole thing is more like a series of gags than a cohesive film and thus it doesn't really work, but it there are moments of hilarity that might make it good if you're bored.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Runaway Bride



Movie: Runaway Bride

Predictable romantic comedy. Not bad, but I didn't like the way it trivialized marriage. Ironic since (of course) the leads marry in the end.

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Friday, October 17, 2003

Runaway Jury



Movie: Runaway Jury
Writer(s): John Grisham (novel)
Director(s): Gary Fleder

This kind of film is awkward as I've read the book (though not recently) and I find that distracts me as I'm constantly comparing the two as much as I try not to do so. The most significant change I noticed is that in the film the trial's against the gun industry -- in the book it was tobacco, if I remember correctly. Of course both the book and the film are blatantly anti-smoking/guns which is rather annoying: the other point of view isn't even given the slightest voice (except that of irrationality). The trial itself is rather a joke, with neither side having much of a case (at least from what we see in the film). The characters are mildly interesting, especially Cusack and Weisz, but Gene Hackman's jury consultant is too obviously evil to be human and Dustin Hoffman's white hat lawyer is too inept to be heroic. What makes the film work is the whole con by Cusack and Weisz and our curiousity as to what will happen to their scheme. If you've read the book, this is an okay film -- it's on par with the novel. If you haven't read the book I think you'd like it better as many aspects of jury duty will be surprising and interesting.

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Friday, September 26, 2003

The Rundown



Movie: The Rundown

Fun actioner with typical lightweight full-of-holes plot. The Rock is surprisingly good, much better than in other movies. He plays a "retrieval expert," who collects debts or people or whatever. His boss sends him to South America to retreive his son (Sean William Scott), who's in the jungle looking for an artifact. What follows is beautiful choas and non-stop action as the son doesn't want to go back until he's found the priceless artifact, the wealthy mine owner (Christopher Walken) who rules that whole section of the jungle who also wants the artifact, and the rebels who want the artifact so they can free themselves from the rule of Walken. There's a lot of comedy and entertaining silliness, great action by the Rock, and a light but satisfying story to hold the mess together. The Rock and Scott have great chemistry, and the action sequences are digitally enhanced (or something) to create something new (not quite as innovative as wirework and 3D cameras of The Matrix but different and cool). Excellent entertainment if you aren't interested in a brain strain.

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Sunday, August 13, 2000

Running Mates



Movie: Running Mates

Interesting TNT production with big stars like Tom Selleck. Fun, good cast, a little predictable, and a touch anti-conservative (why can't these things be apolitical?). Not going to change your life, but well written.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Running with Scissors



Movie: Running with Scissors

This is one of those films that's a puzzle: it's a fantastic cast with great performances, a wild and unusual story, and wonderful visuals -- yet it falls flat. Why? The problem is that the awkward topic -- crazy people -- while interesting, does not promote cohesiveness or consistency, and while there's humor, the topic is depressing and grim. In the book this works because the humor comes from how things are presented. That is much more difficult to do in film and the humor's lost, making for a depressing movie about bewildering crazy people. Thus it ends up a series of scenes instead of a movie. It's not terrible, but it's not successful either. Stick with the book.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Rush Hour 3



Movie: Rush Hour 3

I barely remember the earlier films and this one definitely falls into the same category, but for mere escapism it's not too bad. You get a little humor and action, but the adrenaline ran out of this franchise three movies ago.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Rush Hour II



Movie: Rush Hour II

More of the same Chan-Tucker chaos, with cool action and silly arguments. The plot has something to do with counterfit money printing plates, but it's really irrelevant.

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Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Rushmore



Movie: Rushmore (1998)
Writer(s): Wes Anderson and Owen Wilso
Director(s): Wes Anderson

I was expecting this to be more of a "laugh out loud" comedy. Instead it's a humorous drama. Nicely done, though slow and puzzling in places. It's a character piece about a bright, nerdy kid who's an overachiever with an active fantasy life. On scholarship, he attends prestigious private school Rushmore, where he is president of all sorts of clubs. He falls for a teacher and tries to scheme to "get" her (even he doesn't seem to know what that means), but then his rich adult friend (played straight by Bill Murray) begins dating the teacher, and the two go to war. It's a funny look at a remarkable kid trying to figure out his life. Entertaining, a little on the odd side, but ultimately I'm not sure we exactly learn anything.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

RV



Movie: RV
Director(s): Barry Sonnenfeld

The promos for this film made it seem like just another comedy about idiots: idiotic dad shows up with a giant RV to take the family on a trip where everything goes wrong. But while there's an annoying touch of that in a scene or two, the film is actually pretty tame overall, and it has a good-though-predictable storyline: dad has to work instead of taking the family to Hawaii so he rents an RV and drives to Colorado for his critical meeting, not telling them what he's really doing. I actually really liked the movie: it's harmless fun, has some wacky characters, and a bit of heart. Once again promotion distorts a good film.

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