Reviews


The Weather Man

A Movie ReelThe Weather Man: 6.5 out of 10.

Some will tell you "The Weather Man" is a deep, introspective look at a man's struggle with striking a balance between professional and personal success. Taryn, for example, totally dug it. I, however, found it somewhat lacking and kind of depressing.

The Michael Caine parts are great, but the rest seemed a little flat and misguided. Focus Mr. Verbinski, focus!

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Hoodwinked

A Movie ReelHoodwinked: 6 out of 10.

I think I awarded bonus points to "Hoodwinked" for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the wolf is voiced by Patrick Warburton, who's always fun to listen to. Secondly, Michelle and I watched this together and when your two year old is entertained, everything seems better than it actually is.

The fact is, I expected far worse. It wasn't half bad and it's only 80 minutes long.

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The Aristocrats

A Movie ReelThe Aristocrats: 7 out of 10.

The tagline for "The Aristocrats" is "No Nudity No Violence Unspeakable Obscenity". That pretty much sums it up. The language is as obscene as you can imagine, but once you get used to it, this is one funny doc.

The joke itself isn't that funny, but when Sagat and Silverman tell it, it's hilarious.

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Derailed

A Movie ReelDerailed: 6 out of 10.

"Derailed" is your prototypical twisty thriller and it's not terrible. It's not great either, but Clive Owen is compelling enough to earn it a passing grade.

I think Clive Owen should be in every movie. I didn't take notice of the guy until "Closer", and now I'm convinced he's the new Cary Grant. As an added bonus, he once had a role in "Boon", my favourite series I've never seen.

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The Constant Gardener

A Movie ReelThe Constant Gardener: 7.5 out of 10.

"The Constant Gardener" is good stuff. Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes are awesome in this political thriller based on the John le Carre novel. It's a little depressing, but one hell of a ride.

Weisz deserved her Oscar. Fiennes deserved consideration as well.

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A Good Year

moviesA Good Year: 7 out of 10.

I spent yesterday evening attending the opening gala of the new Sir Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe film, "A Good Year". The world premiere was held at Roy Thomson Hall as part of the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival and I was lucky enough to be seated in the fourth row, completely center. My passes promised a 6:30 show time, but a certain Oscar winning Australian was running late which held things up considerably.

After a brief introduction, Ridley Scott stepped to the podium to speak about the film. He spoke about his vinyard in Provence and his friendship with Peter Mayle who wrote the book. He was well spoken and witty and upon concluding his speech he introduced us to Mayle who assumed the podium. Mayle was also quite witty, dropping the hit line of the introductions. He praised the film for not relying on special effects, violence, dismemberings and other staples of 21st century cinema. It was essentially a slag on Gladiator, the previous Ridley Scott - Russell Crowe project which was rather successful. Following Mayle, Scott introduced a number of the stars of the film who were in attendance. One, of course, was Russell Crowe.

We were warned not to take photos but at the front of the stage there was a swarm of media photographers and videographers, so I whipped out my Olympus and snapped this shot. Yeah, it sucks, but it's the best I got. Hover your mouse of the picture to learn who is who.

The movie was quite likable, although a little predictable and convenient. Although not Best Picture-worthy, it wasn't without its charm. Crowe was quite good as an Englishman who rediscovers happiness when he revisits his uncle's Provencal vinyard. There were laughs and tender moments, both complemented by a visual feast. It's two hours of beauty, and I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday night.

I haven't read a critical review of this film yet, but I suspect they'll spin off the title and label it good, but not great. That's a fair assessment, but at this gala with stars about, a buzz in the air and a cocktail reception awaiting us at Monsoon, it was a far better than good night. It was magic.

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Cars

A Movie ReelCars: 7 out of 10.

"Cars" was released in early June, but I only got around to taking James to see it this afternoon. Half decent movies you can take your four year old to are few and far between. Thank goodness for Pixar.

I was entertained, and that's all I ask. It wasn't as good as "The Incredibles" or "Finding Nemo", but it was quality stuff with amazing animation and a neat story ripped from "Doc Hollywood". Perhaps as an homage to this fact, a great character voiced by Paul Newman was given the name Doc.

If you're keeping score at home, Pixar is now seven for seven. We'll see how "Ratatouille" does next summer.

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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

A Movie ReelThe Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: 7 out of 10.

Ranking the four Wes Anderson films, this one ranks fourth in my books, but it's still a good film. That tells you how special his first three films were. "Bottle Rocket", "Rushmore", "The Royal Tenenbaums", that there's some comedic gold.

As a movie, "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" isn't so much funny as it is tragic. It's actually a very sad and sensitive film. Bill Murray has mastered the art of playing a solemn, slightly depressed straight man and we're just on board Anderson's ship for the ride.

It wasn't "The Royal Tenenbaums", but it still had the smarts, and this time there were a few tears along the way.

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Hustle & Flow

A Movie ReelHustle & Flow: 8 out of 10.

This was a raw tour de force backboned by an amazing performance by Terrence Howard. It's hard to root for the guy, and that makes it all the more compelling, because you end up rooting for him like he's the Rocky of hip-hop even though he's a drug dealing pimp with a bad temper. Watching "Hustle & Flow" made me realize just how mediocre a film "8 Mile" was.

It's hard out here for a pimp.

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Long Lost Entries Recovered

rewindWhen reviewing "The Dukes of Hazzard" earlier today, I visited the Internet Archive WayBackMachine to see if I could find an archive of the Dukes of Hazzard tribute page I hosted until about five years ago. I found what I was looking for and realized the blog portion of this site is actually older than I thought.

In this format, my first blog entry was November 30, 2002. According to this October 11, 2001 archive of a page on my site, I had date stamped entries in reverse chronological order dating all the way back to August 18, 2001. All these entries are reviews of movies, television shows and concerts I attended, and I'm pasting the entire thing below for my own archival purposes.

October 7, 2001

This weekend I saw You Can Count On Me *** and The Dish ***. I liked them both as they were both charming and funny. Laura Linney was nominated for an Oscar for her role in You Can Count On Me. The Dish is a little known Australian film starring Sam Neil that takes place in 1969 during the lunar landing. See 'em both and you won't regret it.

October 3, 2001

I saw Get Over It ** and Rules of Engagement ***. I figured since I've been enjoying teen movies so much lately, I might like Kristen Dunst's Get Over It. Unfortunately, it was pretty lame except for a few scenes starring Martin Short. Rules of Engagement was much better fare. Sort of an eerie plot line considering today's political climate. An American Embassy is fired upon by American hating Arabs in the Middle East. It was a prototypical three star movie. Pretty decent but far from amazing.

September 30, 2001

I just saw Serpico **** and Joe Dirt *. Serpico was another brilliant star vehicle for Al Pacino. Playing a strait cop in a corrupt system, Pacino doesn't disappoint and neither does Serpico. You can't go wrong with this golden oldie from 1973. As for Joe Dirt, wasting 90 minutes of your life on this is wrong. It's all bad.

September 28, 2001

I just saw Exit Wounds ** and Sugar and Spice ***. Exit Wounds was really bad but it took place in Toronto so I never got bored. How bad was it? The opening scene shows a big plot to kill the Vice President of the United States. It's a huge deal and Steven Segal single handedly saves the Vice President while dodging bullets, bombs etc. After this scene the big question is asked. "Who were all those guys trying to kill our Vice President?" It's a fair question. And what's the answer you may be wondering? "Some Michigan Militia group" - and the issue is never dealt with again. I liked Sugar and Spice by the way. There was something very entertaining about it. Of course, I also liked Josie and the Pussycats so the problem may be me.

September 25, 2001

I saw Weezer **** at Arrow Hall last night. Another solid live performance. Although they teased us with El Scorcho all night, they refused to deliver that one gem. A great set from a great band. I watched Hannibal ** and The Pledge *** this weekend. Both were decent but I particularly enjoyed The Pledge. Hannibal was rather disappointing but still much better than your average fare. Check out Jack's brilliant understated performance in Sean Penn's The Pledge if you get the chance.

September 18, 2001

I actually saw the following two films last weekend but somehow got distracted. Here's what I thought of Enemy at the Gates *** and Josie and the Pussycats ***. I enjoyed both. Enemy at the Gates is a very cool war movie once you get over the fact these Russians have British accents. Well acted and a visual gem. Josie and the Pussycats is just fun. You turn off the brain and chill for 90 minutes. I feel guilty liking it but I did. It doesn't take itself seriously and neither should we.

September 9, 2001

I saw two cinematic gems this weekend. 2001: A Space Odyssey ***** and O Brother, Where Are Thou? ****. What can I say about 2001: A Space Odyssey? Visually stunning and a total brain cranker. I still don't understand the closing sequence but I know I loved it. The pacing, although rather slow, entrances you and soothes the soul while forcing you to question anything and everything. If you haven't yet seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, do so immediately. O Brother, Where Are Thou? was hilarious. A modern day classic. Good weekend.

September 4, 2001

It's interesting how one's anticipated reaction to a movie can effect one's opinion of the movie. Here's a good example. I saw Chocolat *** and 3000 Miles to Graceland ** this weekend. One was nominated for Best Picture while the other was panned by every critic in North America. As it turned out, I expected better from Chocolat and was surprised by how much I didn't hate 3000 Miles to Graceland. In actuality, one movie is far superior to the other but my thoughts going in leveled the playing field somehow. By the way and for the record: you'll like Chocolat and probably hate 3000 Miles to Graceland.

August 30, 2001

Waiting for Guffman **** was great. Go see it. It was almost as good as Best in Show **** although Best in Show was probably a little funnier. Classic spoofs of two of my personal faves Fast Times at Ridgemont High ***** and American Beauty ***** last night on Family Guy. Classic.

August 26, 2001

I saw Woman on Top * yesterday. It was stupid. Don't see it. I'm watching Waiting for Guffman tonight. I know that will be better.

August 23, 2001

The Family Guy **** is really funny. You can catch it every Wednesday at 9:30 EST. Last night's ep was another gem. I'm telling you, this is the funniest show this side of The Simpsons *****.

August 21, 2001

I just saw the Ethan Hawke version of Hamlet **. It was kind of cool the way they set it in Y2K New York but it wasn't nearly as good as the DiCaprio version of Romeo & Juliet *** a few years back. I'm not recommending it.

August 18, 2001

Taryn made me watch The Wedding Planner * last night and it totally sucked. Totally. Do not see this movie. I also saw Sunshine *** and it was very good but also very long. It's worth seeing but make sure you have the time to invest.

The September 18th entry has an allusion to 9/11. My positive review of "Josie and the Pussycats", for the record, was clearly a side effect of 9/11. It was such a frightening time of uncertainty I think I was just happy to be able to shut off the brain for 90 minutes. Yeah, that's it. We'll call it post traumatic stress disorder and leave it at that, okay?

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