Monday, December 31, 2007

I saw a while mess o' movies this past week

I wish I could say I'm caught up. But I really want to see "No Country for Old Men," "Juno," "Lars and the Real Girl" and others.

Here are a few I've seen the past few days in the theater, on DVD or on cable:

"Charlie Wilson's War" -- Fascinating slice of history. Philip Seymour Hoffman ran away with the movie as a cocky spook who knows how to get the job done.

"Hoax"-- I can't believe this never made it to local theaters. Another piece of history most people knew very little about -- the guy who wrote the fake Howard Hughes book. It's one of Richard Gere's best performances in years, and the film keeps you on edge all the way through as you find out how somebody would sell the skeptical publishing biz on this.

"The Good German"-- I didn't get how a movie with George Clooney, Tobey Maguire and Kate Blanchett wouldn't make it to local theaters. Now I know. This is a film class film. Lots of interesting stylistic stuff to discuss. But the characters are unlikable, vaguely conceived and the story is ultimately unsatisfying.

"Unleashed" -- I thought this was a Jet Li kung fu movie. No. It's really a quite touching film about somebody raised as an attack dog who learns about life through music and love.

"Separate Lies"-- Great acting. Story is ho-hum.

Monday, December 17, 2007

"I Am Legend " gains legendary status

"I Am Legend" raked in $76.5 million this weekend. That's the biggest December opening ever and a personal best for Will Smith, one of Hollywood's most bankable talents.

I took the kids to see it on Saturday at Tinseltown, and I can't get the images of a post-apocalyptic New York City out of my mind.

Brandon and other critics liked the film but thought it fell apart at the end, turning into a mindless zombie flick.

I don't think most movie-goers will see it that way. The last third of the film is thrilling, and its conclusion feels right. Emotionally, I found the film entirely satisfying.

Intellectually, the film left open several holes that would be easily filled.

One 30-second scene about him tending a generator and water pump would solve the problem.

This one is more problematic. The little we know about these creatures suggests they're mindless, ferocious predators who couldn't slow down long enough to tie their own shoes, let alone copy Smith's chracter in setting up an elaborate trap.

This problem might be solved by creating some kind of Dark-Seeker-Human hybrid, who's enough of a monster to side with the Dark Seekers but smart enough to retain speech and higher functions.

This one isn't quite as essential, but I'd like to see evidence that the Dark Seekers are a viable species. We know they've lived for three years, so somehow they're getting food and water. I want to know how. It wouldn't take more than a minute to show us that. Also, is it possible that these creatures mate and will perpetuate their species?

I thought it was smart in the film "28 Days" when the soldier chained a zombie in the back yard, and through observation, realized that this was a creature without basic survival skills, and it wouldn't last long.

The same kind of scrutiny should have shaped the Dark Seekers into definable animals.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Holiday movie of the year

"Enchanted" continues to be the No. 1 box-office, and I'm glad.

Amy Adams' wide-eyed performance as the Disney princess transplanted to New York City is truly a delightful family film for the holidays.

I just wish they did more with the generally rudeness of New Yorkers. The evil queen should have found kinship with many of the NYC characters.

I say that as a New Yorker, so don't get on my case. Got it?