Sunday, July 30, 2006

Short Takes


Fri 7/28

The Family Stone is one of those "meet-the-in-laws", holiday-type comedy's. When Everett Stone (Dermot Mulrony) brings his uptight New York girlfriend Meredith Morton (played by Sarah Jessica Parker, whose supposed attractiveness I've never really understood) to meet his liberal family mis-adventures ensue. The film starts out a little cold and awkward but gradually warms to likeablity, though never transcends the conventional.

Robert De Niro won an Oscar for his portrayal of middle-weight champion Jake La Motta in Martin Scorsese's violent black & white art film about boxing, Raging Bull. Probably less impressive watching it in 2006 then in 1980 when it was released (largely because we now take De Niro's acting abilities for granted), Raging Bull really dose showcase one of the legendary performances in cinema history and is a film more about internal flaws then outward ability.

Sat 7/29

The Pacifier isn't so much unbearable as it is just completely derivative and unfunny. Sort of a poor man's Kindergarten Cop, it features Vin Diesal as a Navy Seal asigned to protect the family of a recently murdered Defense Department analyst. Watching the film you will feel anything from disgust, to a numb neutrality, to a light warmth depending on you susceptibility to Disney sentimentality.

Sun 7/30

Bob Roberts is a great satire, presented in documentary format it follows the 1990 Senate campaign of businessman/folk singer Robert Roberts. Director/star Tim Robbins does a fantastic job of capturing right-wing demigogery and the disheartening media situation, something that has only gotten more pronounced since the film was made. Alternately funny and disturbing, the movie also boasts a long list of celebrity cameos, mostly playing members of the press. The esteemed liberal author and commentator Gore Vidal plays Roberts Democratic rival, the wise Senator Brickley Paiste of Pennsylvania. Look for a young Jack Black as a Roberts groupie.

The New World is the latest in director Terrence Malick's infrequent contributions to cinema. I must say that the story of the forbidden love between Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher) and John Smith (Colin Farrell) was not one which I was overly excited to see on screen, but two glowing recommendations from two very different sources (a guy in my ward and a pagan priestess, I kid you not) prompted me to see the film, and I must say I was impressed. This is a simply beautiful movie in every way, the story, the performances, the music, and the cinematography, the last of which was so gorgeous that I instantly regretted not seeing it on the big screen. The New World breaths new life into its tired old story and offers a vivid depiction of a period of time not often presented on film.

Mon 7/31

2005's Fun With Dick & Jane is a remake of the 1977 feature staring George Segal and Jane Fonda. The updated version is set in the year 2000 to take advantage of the corporate scandals which provide background and premise for the film. Working couple Dick & Jane Harper, Jim Carry and Tea Leoni, both lose there jobs as a result of false promises and corrupt mismanagement at a major corporation headed by Alec Baldwin. This moderately amusing film chronicles the desperation of the couple as they try to stay afloat economically, eventually resorting to crime. The karma of the film is a little mixed as neither the Harper's or Baldwins character ultimately suffer any long-term consequences for there actions.


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