Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Deja Vu

I find this is one of those movies that ordinary people will enjoy a lot more than critics. That's because it has an outlandish sci-fi premise (gov't spooks figure out how to create worm holes that make time windows that allow them to see four days in the past).

Once you buy into this crazy idea (which you're more likely to do if you spend $8), it's a straight-up Denzel Washington actioner, with a whole bunch of great Bruckheimer explosions and car chases. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Casino Royale

Saw the new Bond last night and I loved the reinterpretation of the franchise. It probably says something that my other favorite Bond movie was "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" -- George Lazenby was the original attempt to humanize Bond.

I thought Daniel Craig was great, I loved the details, the grittiness, the plausibility of the action scenes. Well, if not plausible, at least they weren't cartoonish. I loved that line from Vesper about Bond's watch and what it said about him. And the car wreck, seen in the previews, but better in context, was one of the best stunts I've seen in recent memory. However, I admit I was a little lost by the plot at a couple points.


Back to those plot questions: After the torture scene on the boat, Bond wakes up at the hospital and all of the sudden, he and Vesper are totally in love. Where did that come from? Yeah, he comforted her in the shower, but then they were at each other's throats again when she wouldn't front him the other $5 million.
Can you win a girl's heart these days by simply NOT running her over?

OK, and then at the end, M says that Vesper was in love with some Navy guy and the bad guys were using him to blackmail her. Sure, but what was the thing with her taking off the necklace and telling Bond that she wasn't going to live in the past anymore? What happened to loverboy No. 1? And, if Vesper made a deal to save Bond's life on the boat, does that mean she was in love with him then, or was the deal for both of their lives?

I've read a couple reviews and it seems like a lot of people were confused about one or another plot points. Maybe the writers and director were so concerned with getting the details right, they couldn't devote enough attention to making the forest clear.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fast Food City

I'd like to hear from people who see "Fast Food Nation." What local landmarks can you spot? If you work in the fast-food industry, how accurate is it? Let me know.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Borat pushback

Borat has become the surprise hit of the fall, actually raking in more the SECOND week than the first. The word of mouth is huge on this.

I saw it on Sunday and laughed so hard I hurt myself.

I laughed again when I heard about the idiot frat boys and other suiing the studio. Good luck!

As with any huge phenom (Blair Witch ... Titanic), there are always those who wonder what the fuss is about.

Here's an email I received from a reader.


I saw 'Borat' yesterday and am puzzled about the "A" rating it boasts in the Gazette's GO section. Who rates these movies?

The movie was not without the elements of humor; the cultural misunderstandings, as in the greeting kisses; the shock humor, as in the dinner party poop-in-a-bag scene and nudity at the convention scene; and the genuine reactions of down-home Americans to Borats mockings, as in the rodeo anthem audience. The improvisation was seemingly original, and as always, ethnic/gay jokes usually bring laughs. Initially there was a lot of laughter from the audience as we prepared to be amused.

But a little bit goes a very long way, then it turns gross. (As in the greeting kisses, the dinner party poop-in-a-bag scene, the hotel nudity scenes and the fear of being killed by Jews-what was that about?) Are there really that many people who like to see so much toilet and penis humor? As for the improvisation; who acts natural with a camera crew and lights in your face? The audience did stay vocal, but not so much in laughter as in groans and moans.

Judging by the comments overheard by people as we departed after the film, disgust prevailed over humor.

Who does rate these movies?

Sincerely Wondering,
Connie Hill

I told Connie about using a mix of local and wire reviewers. In this case: Jim Emerson from Universal Press Syndicate, whose opinion on this one was similar to most reviews I'd seen.

Here's Connie's response:


Thanks for your reply. I was glad to hear your opinion of it.
You're welcome to put my letter on your blog.


PS I talked to a friend visiting Breckenridge today who said it is banned from theatres there!??

I've been trying to find out if Borat is playing in Breck. What I'm finding online is that The Speak Easy, the only in-town theater I know of, is temporarily closed. Borat is playing at the Trans-Lux Skyline Cinema, which is in nearby Dillon.

Please send me your opinions on the film.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Devil Spawn

I watched the remake of The Omen this weekend, with Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles. Did anybody else find it ironic that Mia Farrow played Mrs. Baylock, the protector of wee Damien aka the child of Satan? She's the one who was drugged by a coven and got unknowingly pregnant with Satan's baby in "Rosemary's Baby." Then again, at the end of that movie she was beginning to form an attachment to the baby, wasn't she? Did they cast her for for this reason alone? A little horror movie humor?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oscar contenders

Big weekend for Oscar contenders. "Babel," "The Queen," "A Good Year" (OK, that last one, not so much. I expected a lot from Ridley Scott, finding another vehicle for Russell Crowe after "Gladiator," but critics are hating it.)

But I bet the new Will Ferrell "Stranger Than Fiction," which has funny previews, blows them all away at the box office.

Speaking of funny, I'm still trying to get out to see "Borat." Not one I'll take the kids to, though.


Just saw this on DVD, and I wonder why it didn't get better reviews. Certainly, Pixar has prompted high expectations ... "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," etc., but my family really liked "Cars."

It did take a while to get going, but once it did, it was a fun romp. Owen Wilson was great as Lightning McQueen, the big-city race car who learns the meaning of teamwork from Doc Hudson (voiced by Paul Newman) and the rest of the off-the-grid town of Radiator Springs.

Pixar's visual artistry has never been more dazzling. Particularly eye-popping is the look of the town at night with the neon glowing everywhere.

I give it a big thumb's up.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Back shelf picks - all of them

I'm sometimes asked for a complete list of recommended movies from my Back-Shelf Pick column. Here's all of the movies I've featured so far. (And check the comments for some great suggestions from readers!)

One Hour Photo
The Sweet Hereafter
Midnight Train
Everything Is Illuminated
Minus Man
American Movie
East Is East
The Aristocrats
The Year of Living Dangerously
The World's Fastest Indian
Bagdad Cafe
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Touching the Void
The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition
A Slipping Down Life
The Cooler
You Can Count on Me
The Straight Story
Requiem for a Dream
House of Sand and Fog
Calendar Girls
Kingdom of Heaven
Saint Ralph
Clay Pigeons
The Big Kahuna
House of Games
The Missing
Plots with a View
A Love Song for Bobby Long
Love and Sex
The Quiet American
The Deep End
Rabbit-Proof Fence
Howl's Moving Castle
I Capture the Castle
Eve's Bayou
The Professional
A Walk on the Moon
Cop Land
Billy Elliot
Two Family House
Searching for Bobby Fischer
In the Bedroom
The Ref
Hear My Song
Green Dragon
Garden State
21 Grams
28 Days Later
Personal Velicity
To End All Wars
Dear Frankie
Truly, Madly, Deeply
The Tao of Steve
Danny Deck Chair
In America
Scotland, P.A.
Into the West
The Woodsman
Happy Texas
The Safety of Objects
Happy Accidents
Smoke Signals
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

I hope you find some movies here you like. I've tried to pick under-watched movies with the most wide appeal. I have plenty of favorites that are Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese ... But I know that so many moviegoers won't bother with subtitles.

More Better Scary

At the recommendation of Warren and our religion writer Paul Asay, I watched the original "The Haunting" and pretty much fell asleep during some apparently vital parts. Have I become immune to terror? Maybe. But it made me think of the movies I truly found super duper creepy:

"Don't Look Now" - 1973 movie starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. It's based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier, one of the all-time creepiest writers. It also has one of the steamiest sex scenes on film.

"Rosemary's Baby" - a classic! The 1968 movie stars Mia Farrow, Ruth Gordon and John Cassavetes. I think the apartment building in this movie is WAY creepier than Hill House.

Also freaky: "Amityville II: The Possession" - in 1982; and "The Amityville Horror" - in 1979