Saturday, January 29, 2005

Review – Double Indemnity

This noir classic is very much a creature of its time. If nothing else, it’s hard to watch beloved TV dad and Disney regular Fred MacMurray playing a villainous anti-hero. Then there’s the dialogue, no doubt biting and innovative in 1944 but now more than a little cliché. But despite the dating, this is still an entertaining piece of movie-making. We all go into it knowing that the salesman and scheming woman plotting to murder her husband for insurance money are going to come to no good, especially when the plan becomes more complicated than necessary due to the need to kill hubby on a train in order to bring a double-indemnity clause into effect. But even the predictable outcome doesn’t detract from the pleasure of watching Edward G. Robinson as a claim investigator taking the scheme apart piece by piece. Worth seeing

Friday, January 28, 2005

Review – Bowling for Columbine

Michael Moore is mad, but he seems to be having some trouble figuring out exactly what he’s mad about or whom he’s mad at. Americans kill each other with guns, something that seems to peeve Moore to no end (as well it might). But he’s so excited about pinning this on large corporations that he shorts or bypasses altogether a lot of the root causes of violence. At least I didn’t hate this as much as I thought I was going to, except of course for the ambush nagging. And that brings me mindful of the “South Park” summary of American history, in particular the part that theorizes that early European immigrants shot the Indians due to fear, omitting the property aspects of Manifest Destiny. This inspired me to plan a documentary in which someone shows up unannounced at Moore’s home with a camera and a sad photo of Indian children, demanding that the Limbaugh of the Left deed his property over to the people from whom it was stolen. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Review – Cat People

Even all these years later it’s downright impressive what can be done with a decent script and a little careful attention to lighting and editing. Even the casting is good, using actors who fit their parts rather than big name stars. This particularly applies to Simone Simon, who really looks like a cat. In fact, she looks like a cute little kitten, which makes it all the more intriguing when it turns out that she’s got a dark, shape-shifting secret tied to her sexuality. Though I guess it was only natural that this movie got lost in overall events in 1942, it now deserves a place in horror movie history. A must-see for any fan of the genre. Worth seeing

Friday, January 21, 2005

Review – Elektra

I guess it’s possible that if you find Jennifer Garner talented and/or alluring, there’s a chance you’ll get a kick out of this production. Though previously unfamiliar with her work (aside from Daredevil, which might best go unconsidered here), I was prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt. She came up well short, her acting downright robotic and her appearance nowhere near fetching enough to make up for her stiff performance. The script didn’t help matters any. Of all the comic books Marvel has turned into movies recently, only The Hulk had a story this uninteresting. My particular favorite part was the villain who could make his extensive collection of animal tattoos come to life and attack people. The character’s name? Tattoo. Sadly most of the rest of the show is on par with this for creativity and entertainment value. See if desperate

Monday, January 17, 2005

Review – The Aviator

All by himself, Howard Hughes almost automatically makes for the subject of an interesting movie. But Martin Scorsese appears to be doing almost everything he can to avoid pulling it off. For openers, he seems to have lost a good deal of his once-impressive sense of timing. As a result, many sequences that I’m sure were intended as a glimpse into Hughes’s manias instead come across as little more than annoying. Further, much of the casting here is all wrong. Leonardo DiCaprio does an acceptable job as the young, enthusiastic protagonist, but by the time 20 years and the strain of mental illness are supposed to have taken their toll on him, the actor no longer has the range to pull it off. And don’t even get me started on Kate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn. Overall this is a long, expensive production that isn’t bad but could have been a lot better than it was. Mildly amusing

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Review – Confessions of Robert Crumb

Proof – as if it was really necessary – that artists don’t always make the best film-makers, particularly not with themselves as their subjects. Crumb’s rather brief autobiographical piece has some interesting footage but sheds little worthwhile light on his life or work. Further, he comes off looking like kind of a creep. Accurate though that might be, he’s a lot more fun when he communicates with his drawings rather than his mouth. Mildly amusing