www.derf.net / movies /
movie reviews

Sideways   ...   movie reviews
sun 2005-apr-10 02:25:56 pdt   ...   permalink

Friday night we watched Sideways. The trailers (which I'd seen several times) gave away most of the plot, and I really try to know as little as possible about a movie before I see it... So I went into it with fairly low expectations, mostly just because I felt like I'd already seen so much of it. Turned out that it stood up rather well to having had that much given away -- I think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd known less what was coming, but it was still good.

Actually there was a fair amount of substance that hadn't been given away in the preview, though really, that additional substance mostly took the form of character development. I mean, the plot (besides the last, I dunno, 10 to 15 minutes) was pretty much all there. So I'm not sure to what extent it should have been a film driven by character development, but I guess that's what it wound up being to me. And I suppose that that was enough to carry it because I found the characters quite believable -- thanks to both the writing and the acting -- even if I didn't have much sympathy for them.

Anyway, so I do recommend it, but to anyone who happens not to have seen the trailer, I recommend not watching that.

mail me   ...   comments (0)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding   ...   movie reviews , spoiler_low
tue 2005-apr-05 16:36:44 pdt   ...   permalink

On Friday night we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was good, and not really what I was expecting it to be like. Granted, going in I didn't really know much about it beyond the title; pretty much I'd just heard it was a good indie film (if perhaps a bit hyped for being indie).

Anyway, it does well what it sets out to do. Which is to say, I suppose, that it paints a strong picture of the main character's family -- a bit caricaturish, but you have to figure that that's the point -- and that it's a cute, fun, romantic comedy, if you're into that sort of thing. Which apparently I am.

<spoiler detail="low">
really minor complaint )

mail me   ...   comments (1)

Adaptation.   ...   movie reviews
tue 2005-mar-29 18:41:48 pst   ...   permalink

Saturday night we watched Adaptation. It doesn't hold up as well to the second viewing as some movies, since a good deal of what makes it great is based on surprise factor, but it does have quite a bit to notice on the second time through.

When I saw it the first time, the Oscar nominations had been announced but the awards not yet given; I speculated that it would win Best Adapted Screenplay. I don't remember what beat it, but in retrospect I can certainly see why it did not win: the main aspect of it that makes me find it brilliant is its self-referential nature, and most people are far less ... amused? entertained? impressed? excited? ... by self-reference than I am.

So basically I would strongly recommend it to other fans of self-reference, but I'm not really sure whether anyone else would like it!

mail me   ...   comments (2)

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels   ...   movie reviews
sat 2005-mar-26 22:37:01 pst   ...   permalink

Last night (Friday night) we watched Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The interweaving subplots are great, and tie together beautifully. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the script is really quite brilliant. Can't really say much more about it without spoilers, but definitely worth seeing.

mail me   ...   comments (0)

My Beautiful Laundrette   ...   movie reviews
fri 2005-mar-18 11:46:13 pst   ...   permalink

Monday night we watched My Beautiful Laundrette. For some reason, the fact that the NetFlix description of it mentions it being set in "Thatcher-era Britain" had led me to think that it was a recent film that's set in the eighties, when in fact it was actually made in Thatcher-era Britain.

Anyway, it was good. A bit meandering, perhaps, but all of the characters' stories are compelling. I liked the way that, although it's mostly focused on Omar, it also shows us glimpses into the lives and motivations of many of the different people around him. I also liked the way that Omar and Johnny's relationship is not really central to the plot.

mail me   ...   comments (0)

Robots   ...   movie reviews
tue 2005-mar-15 01:50:24 pst   ...   permalink

Saturday we went to see Robots at the IMAX theater at the Metreon. It was cute, though of course Pixar comparisons are inevitable, and it doesn't measure up to that standard.

Seeing it on an IMAX screen was kind of weird. For one thing, it seemed kind of blurry, though maybe that was just near the beginning and then they fixed the focus or something. Anyway, I'm not really convinced that the whole IMAX thing is a good idea. But certainly the non-dome style IMAX screen is better than the dome style IMAX screen, I'll say that.

Anyway, it was nice that they didn't play up the romantic interest thing too much. (And for that matter, it was kind of funny that to the extent they did, the main character actually had two romantic interests...)

mail me   ...   comments (0)

Austin Powers   ...   movie reviews
sun 2005-mar-06 00:05:44 pst   ...   permalink

Watched Austin Powers last night -- I hadn't ever seen it. And I must say, it wasn't really as funny as I was expecting. I mean, it has its moments, and it parodies the spy genre quite well. It even includes a number of exactly my sorts of silly jokes, but really, overall I felt that it wasn't all it's been cracked up to be. Maybe I just went into it with too-high expectations.

I think most of my favorite parts of the movie involved Dr. Evil -- he was rather funnier than Austin Powers. I guess it's often the case that bad guys are more interesting characters than good guys.

mail me   ...   comments (0)

Sling Blade   ...   movie reviews
sun 2005-feb-20 21:29:05 pst   ...   permalink

Friday night we watched Sling Blade. It was a bit predictable, but enjoyable in any case. Billy Bob Thornton gives a good performance. I found the story sort of compelling, in spite of its predictability. Actually, I suppose it only got predictable towards the end -- through most of the story, I was interested to see what would happen. Then at some point it became clear what needed to happen, and then I just had to watch it happen.

Anyway, certainly not among my top recommendations, but not bad.

mail me   ...   comments (0)

Happiness   ...   movie reviews
mon 2005-feb-14 14:09:19 pst   ...   permalink

Saturday night we watched Happiness, another film about screwed-up people. It was somewhat disturbing, but really, watching it right after La Pianiste, it was downright pleasant!

It follows a number of characters, all of whom are, well, a little weird in one way or another... None of them are really portrayed all that sympathetically, in the sense that we never really feel we can relate to any of them (though certainly some even less than others). But I thought they all felt very real, very believable, so that even the more extreme events that were described seemed quite plausible.

The cast is all great, but I especially enjoyed Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jane Adams' performances. The story is engaging and the conclusion is much more satisfying than La Pianiste, though granted that didn't take much.

mail me   ...   comments (0)

La Pianiste   ...   movie reviews
sat 2005-feb-12 15:44:06 pst   ...   permalink

Last night we watched La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher). It's a French film that gives an intriguing and disturbing look at this woman's relationships and whatnot. It certainly held my interest the whole time, but I found the end rather unsatisfying. In fact it was really quite humorous just how amazingly unsatisfying the ending was -- to the point that in a weird way I think I actually liked the film more for it!

One thing that I liked (more than the weird ending) was what I guess falls under the heading of cinematography. For example, there were a number of long shots of a person's face as s/he listens to music being played. There were a number of points where I was conscious of aspects of the filming or editing being different from most (American) movies. And not in a distracting way.

Anyway, so I'm not sure I would necessarily recommend it, but I certainly wouldn't disrecommend it. And if you're looking for ... I dunno, a thought-provoking film involving fucked-up characters, then give it a shot. Especially if you don't mind being left saying "huh?"...

mail me   ...   comments (0)

Mean Girls   ...   movie reviews
wed 2005-feb-02 19:46:32 pst   ...   permalink

Sunday evening we watched Mean Girls, a film about high school girls, well, being mean to each other. I heard it compared to Heathers, and while the portrayal of the various archetypal high school cliques is similar, it's really a very different kind of story.

At the opening of the film, I was kind of afraid it was going to be full of "Cady's so naive and doesn't know these things that everyone else knows" situations, which would not have sustained the movie. But in fact a little ways into it, her background isn't even really crucial to the story. Which I think was a good thing.

Really my only complaint was that there's a fair bit of cheesy stuff towards the end, but even that was not so bad, and even seemed to make fun of itself at points...

mail me   ...   comments (0)

Scotland, PA   ...   movie reviews
sun 2005-jan-30 01:42:47 pst   ...   permalink

Last night (Friday) we watched Scotland, PA, an adaptation of MacBeth to a 1970's fast food restaurant. I'm actually not all that familiar with the play, as I never had to read it in high school, and I don't think I've ever seen a production of it. So really I'm not sure how closely the film follows the play. But regardless, it's quite well done. Funnier than Shakespeare's version too, I expect.

I really liked the way Pat and Mac gradually go insane. Maura Tierney especially does a great job... And the brief appearances of the witches (one of whom is played by Andy Dick) are fun.

mail me   ...   comments (2)

Dirty Pretty Things   ...   movie reviews
mon 2005-jan-24 00:15:31 pst   ...   permalink

Last night (Saturday night) we watched Dirty Pretty Things. It's categorized as a thriller -- I've never really been sure what that genre means exactly, but I don't think this quite qualifies, I think it's really just a drama. But in any case, it's really good.

The two main characters, Okwe and Senay, both have very compelling stories -- I wanted to know more of their back-stories and what happened to them next... Of course Audrey Tautou is wonderful, and Chiwetel Ejiofor is also great. I should see more of Audrey Tautou's films...

mail me   ...   comments (1)

Princess Mononoke   ...   movie reviews
sun 2005-jan-23 02:00:33 pst   ...   permalink

Last night (Friday night), we watched Princess Mononoke. I enjoyed it, though certainly not as much as I enjoyed Spirited Away.

It's interesting that they have big-name American (and British) actors doing the voices in the English-language version. But Billy Bob Thornton I thought was a poor choice for Jigo. He somehow didn't seem to fit. Maybe it's just that his voice is so distinctive, so mapping it onto an animated character is weird. And the others it mostly didn't seem to matter that they were famous, though I suppose it probably helped to sell tickets when it was in theaters.

Anyway, I liked the way that the film successfully portrays several characters (most notably Eboshi and San) who are basically out to kill each other, all as fairly sympathetic characters. Ashitaka's "why can't we all just get along" outlook is a little cheesy, but, well, it kind of has to be, I suppose.

I also notice that Miyazaki has a thing about ooze...

mail me   ...   comments (0)

The Cat's Meow   ...   movie reviews
sun 2005-jan-16 00:49:42 pst   ...   permalink

This afternoon we watched The Cat's Meow. It was good. Kirsten Dunst is great, and Eddie Izzard makes a good Charlie Chaplin. The story, I gather, is pretty much entirely speculative, but it does make for a compelling movie. Part of what makes it compelling is that the major characters are all portrayed quite sympathetically, in spite of their inherent conflict.

But I think my favorite thing was the fairly incidental recurring joke of Chaplin running ideas for The Gold Rush by people to see if they're funny.

mail me   ...   comments (0)

The Terminal   ...   movie reviews , spoiler_low
sat 2005-jan-15 18:44:48 pst   ...   permalink

Last night we watched The Terminal. It was cute... I liked much of it. But there were also a number of not-very-satisfying aspects.

<spoiler detail="low">
what I found unsatisfying )

But in any case, overall it was, well, like I said, it was cute.

mail me   ...   comments (0)

Spider-Man   ...   movie reviews
tue 2005-jan-11 18:58:53 pst   ...   permalink

Watched Spider-Man last night (which, somewhat surprisingly, I didn't manage to see when it came out). It's quite fun. I liked the ways that they updated the story/premise to this decade, while keeping a very comic-book-feel...

The most significant example of that was that they chose to have the webbing be biological rather than mechanical as it was in the comics. On the one hand, I feel like Peter Parker's ingenuity is really central to the character, and the fact that in the comics, some of his superhero "powers" were of his own invention rather than direct by-products of the radioactive spider bite was an important part of that. But on the other hand, it's definitely true that having a high school kid invent such a powerful adhesive would not be at all believable, even in this context where we're already accepting that the bite by the (in this case genetically-engineered rather than radioactive) spider gives him the ability to hang onto walls and things. And they did do a good job of making him an entirely plausible geek, so that in the scheme of things, they weren't really changing his character by going this route.

Guess I'll have to bump the sequel up a bit in the Netflix queue...

mail me   ...   comments (0)

The Anniversary Party   ...   movie reviews
sun 2005-jan-09 13:34:02 pst   ...   permalink

Last night we watched The Anniversary Party. The cast is great and the story is compelling...

One interesting thing about it is that it doesn't really wrap things up at the end, and it never fully explains all the backstory and relationships between the characters... So it's kind of like we just happen to witness a random 24-hour slice of these people's lives. Well, okay, it's not a random day, it's a particularly eventful day.

It's also interesting how many things in the film are real -- apparently the dog is actually Jennifer Jason Leigh's dog, and the yoga instructor her yoga instructor; Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates are really married, and the kids are actually their kids... But I guess Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cummings are not in fact actually involved.

mail me   ...   comments (1)

Melvin Goes to Dinner   ...   movie reviews
sun 2005-jan-09 04:13:19 pst   ...   permalink

So last night we watched Melvin Goes to Dinner. It was fabulous. The screenplay is just brilliant -- all the way through really, but particularly at the end. And the acting is terrific; the actors who play the four main characters had already spent several months performing the play on which the film is based (and one of those four actors wrote the play and the screenplay), so they clearly know the characters inside-out, and they play off each other really well.

After watching it, I actually wanted to watch it again, so we watched the commentary track. This had some interesting stuff in it, but overall wasn't really worthwhile. I think I would have preferred to have simply watched the movie itself again. Since the commentary track rarely actually referred much to the scenes of the film on which the commentary was overlaid, it wasn't really much like watching the film again but with commentary; it was mostly just like listening to the cast talk about stuff...

In any case, the DVD also has a great bonus feature called "The Frank International Film Festival", which is a short mockumentary about the film being screened at a festival consisting of this one guy named Frank. It was awesome.

mail me   ...   comments (0)

Blow Dry   ...   movie reviews
fri 2005-jan-07 20:01:43 pst   ...   permalink

Just remembered I hadn't yet written that on tuesday evening we watched our first NetFlix DVD, Blow Dry, a British film about a hairdressing competition. It's fun, if a bit predictable.

This led me to wonder whether there really exist hairdressing competitions, and whether they bear any resemblance to those in the movie. A little hunting (very little, really) turned up this one, which does in fact include a "total look" category. Wacky.

mail me   ...   comments (3)
<< oldest  olderskipped back 20newer >>
NeilFred Picciotto drawing of neilfred
  • derf content, blog-style
  • derf's comics
  • elsewhere on the web
  • 100% true stories
  • what i learned today
  • random thoughts
  • movie reviews
  • He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not
  • Serenity
  • Panic
  • Run Lola Run
  • Vertigo
  • . . . more . . .
  • phone photos
  • blog-on-blog action
  • tags
  • RSS feed
  • XFN links
  • recent comments
  • 2008-sep-22
  • Britt Lyons on food handler
  • Conrad Pate on singing nuns
  • Suzy on people live in West Virginia?
  • Quinn Rutledge on chickens
  • Jacquline Gamble on garlic rabbit
  • 2008-sep-21
  • Lenora Gomez on garlic rabbit
  • 2008-sep-20
  • Jonas Bailey on food handler
  • Lenny Ayers on chickens
  • random phone photo random phone photo
  • non-bloggy content
  • the derf himself
  • the derf FAQ
  • other derfs
  • what's new?
  • the derfnet portal
  • derf's comics
    blogs and such
  • Q
  • entropy
  • girlhacker
  • ambiguous
  • oblomovka
  • sem101
  • badgerbag
  • zephoria
  • pith, jcn
  • jvg
  • unlikely words
  • mjr
  • jessajune
  • heaneyland
  • dommah
  • unwellness
  • livejournalers
  • ...  all derf.net blog content and underlying code owned by NeilFred Picciotto  ...
    mail me