Friday, March 25, 2005

Review – Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

Normally I’m not a big fan of the bylined title, but in this case it’s more than justified. A collection of supernatural-ish short subjects from a Japanese director is almost automatically going to invite comparison to Kwaidan, but this one’s pure Kurosawa. The second half of the eight tales tend to be a bit on the emotional side, particularly the thickly sentimental finale. For my tastes the first few are more entertaining, especially the fox wedding. However, all the way through the movie retains the director’s wonderful sense of understatement and ambiguity. Worth seeing

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Review – Donnie Darko

When I was 17, I might have really loved this movie. Trouble is, that was 22 years ago. As it was, I thought some of the visuals were interesting. The cast was good. The script was moderately clever in points, but elsewhere it was stuffed full of adolescent anxiety clich├ęs. The end in particular was more than a little disappointing. Overall this was a nice combination of elements, though still I think people (especially mid to late teen boys) with a little more in common with the protagonist really form the core of the intended audience. Mildly amusing

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Review – Collateral

This Tom Cruise / Jamie Foxx vehicle starts with a weak premise and unravels from there. From the outset we’re asked to believe that a professional killer with five marks to slay in the course of an evening is going to waste his time taking a cab, requiring him to terrorize the driver into doing his bidding. There’s some “plans to pin it on the cabbie” excuse, but it’s flimsy stuff. Indeed, this turns out to be one of those annoying, one-track productions in which a constant motion from one tense situation to the next stands in stead of an actual plot. Some of the fight sequences feature some decent choreography (I particularly liked the part where Cruise kills the guys who just got done robbing Foxx). But more often than not even the violence is done in by bad pace and weak editing. Overall this movie earns points for the money they spent on it and not much more. Mildly amusing

Friday, March 18, 2005

Review – Cursed

Someday someone is going to make a genuinely scary werewolf movie. Until that day, the title of this barker remains an apt epitaph for the sub-genre. Step one for ridding ourselves of this evil spell will have to be abandoning the whole John Landis funny-quirky thing. Next, the werewolves are going to have to not look like big teddy bears. And if Wes Craven is going to play any role in the project, he’s going to have to regain some of the sense of timing he once had. Half this movie plays like it’s in fast-forward. And all the way through this picture comes across as an after-school special about the dangers of getting bit by werewolves. Christina Ricci has a few good moments, but even at her best it’s all too easy to recall that she was once on the “serious actress” track instead of killing time in lycanthropic bubblegum like this. Mildly amusing