Projection: The First Record of Movie Ticket Stubs

Yes, the box which I have hitherto collected all my ticket stubs is close to bursting at the seams. This book will serve as a record of my collection, as well as my impressions and thoughts of the film just seen. First up …

Not a poor choice for the inaugural movie. The story of a Roman general who seeks revenge on the emperor who killed his wife and son may not be exact history, for I’m sure that Commodus, while his rule was short, was longer than a few month as depicted. The fight scenes were brutal, yet not as gory as I had imagined – the battle in Germania was very impressive, although halfway through it became surreal, mostly due to the high-speed filming. Russel Crowe made a good, stoic Roman. Nice touch having Derek Jacobi in the cast, and have some dialogue about Claudius. Even a reference to Cleopatra and Antony, which can’t be bad for the up-coming Fringe. What pleased me the most about Gladiator was that it showed Roman life and simple Roman value without making them out to being totally corrupt, as in Caligula, or lost without Jesus, as in Ben Hur or Spartacus. This film will hopefully usher in a new age of films about Rome – something I definitely want to have a part in. Jean-Benoît enjoyed it, as did Peter, who saw it on Friday.

Just had to see this movie again, even dragged Shong out to see it (it was her first trip out to the movie since I saw at the East Van way back when) I used the angle that High Fidelity had all sorts of insights in to the male psyche when it comes to dating and relationship – Shong goes for that kind of stuff. Me, it was my chance to see a movie again after reading the novel that inspired the movie. I finished the book in record time, and was pleased to find that much of it made it to the movie, with a few exceptions here and there. The novel talks about Jackie, number three on Rob’s desert-island, all-time top five most memorable split-ups, while the film dismisses it, but bumps her down to five even though he starts with her at three right at the top of the film. It’s a nitpicky detail, but after seeing, reading and seeing again a story about guys who go into great detail over records and movies, it kind of rubs off on you. I caught the slight reference to the woman in Wood Green, who only appears in the book – I suppose those who read the book first would have got excited at this part, and those who hadn’t would not have thought it was anything. Neat to be part of the former. As for being insightful, the whole experience has widened my eyes. Not only how a guy like Rob can go from a seeming self-centered jerk to coming to terms with how to make a relationship work; but also how to deal with the five or six types of women a typical guy might date, that’s what the stories are about, women, right? I’ve known a few know-it-all Charlies in my academic life and, like Rob, may not have been aware of how annoying they can be. Can’t say that this film has made me want to rush out and get into a relationship, which isn’t the point anyways, but has made me aware of the pitfalls and ways in which a relationship can go wrong. Like to think as Rob becomes more aware, so did I.

One of those films that I had always meant to see, and finally had the time to do it. Even the ticket booth woman said it was an interesting movie, enough of an endorsement for me, of course. Glad I caught it. Told the story of a hitman for some small-time Italian mafia (all of them oddly-dressed lowlifes Martin Scorsese would want to cast) who strictly follows the Way of the Samurai. Throughout the movie, sections of this Japanese handbook are printed on-screen and read voice-over (both in English, thankfully). One of these sections dealt with being caught in a rain storm – it was one of those weird connections things [synchronicity] for me – not only had I made a similar discovery myself as an elementary school kid, that whether you keep walking in the rain, or run from cover to cover, you’ll end up just as wet; but that I recalled this tidbit from my past a few days before seeing this film. Seems that I held one (or all) of life’s mysteries as a child, who knew! Anyhow, the film was quirky and strangely all-connected that such small epiphanies are not out of place. The Haitian ice cream man who speaks only French, and also understands perfectly his friend, Ghost Dog. Really funny scene where the two friends find a man building a boat on an apartment roof: no one can understand anyone, but the obvious question, how will he get it down, is understood by all. A literate film, drawing from such sources as Rashomon, Frankenstein, Betty Boop and Itchy and Scratchy (cartoons seem to be the only thing on TV in this world). Really liked the message about sticking with the ancient ways of ancient tribes.

Randy seemed to have enjoyed this film; I on the other hand, was not as blown away by this “new” innovation in film. Found out that Randy preferred U-571 over Gladiator, very opposite to my tastes, but that’s beside the point. The film is no more innovative than the countless student films that are in real time and/or use split-screen to tell the story. The only difference is in the distribution: having your film shown in the art house theatres with rave reviews from New York Times and L.A. Post (or whatever) is a huge step away from a few nights at a rep. theatre and a short blurb in a photocopied program. As for the story of Time Code itself, I wasn’t really sure there was one: many things happened to many people at the same time, but what of it? Perhaps the most interesting part, or two fourths of the screen, dealt with some esoteric filmmaker and her flash-in-the-pan musician friend trying to pitch a film, not unlike Time Code itself, and the studio head breaking up in laughter over how pretentious this couple is. Even after saying what he though of her film, he tells them “we’ll make your film, but then you make our films.” Some insider Hollywood info us film fans eat up so often, it’s like finding the recipe for fortune cookies inside one, and eating it with the cookie.

A really nice film, the kind of movie that makes you re-evaluate human relationships, and how we connect in ways totally different from the shouting and swearing of Glengary Glen Ross – the film that would first leap to mind when one hears Kevin Spacey is playing a salesman; yet, in spirit, these two films are alike, only the Big Kahuna goes one step further and shows how these mouthy salesmen can actually find meaningful things to talk about, especially to each other. The scene where Phil tells young preachy Bob what type of character Larry is, and then explains how a person gets character, referring to a simple question at the start of the film made the entire movie, at least for me it did. I’d hate to think someone would see this film and miss the point, but then how can anyone really be watching the film and still miss the point?

A film about a virus and antivirus named Chimera and Bellerophon, nice touch bringing in Greek mythology to an otherwise standard secret agent movie (save the world, defeat villain, get the girl). It was too distracting in the theatre, one that boast a state of the art sound system – some of them weren’t working. You could still hear the dialogue and sound effects, only background noise and pulsing music were missing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was, however, the worst thing in life for most of the full audience, who fussed, fidgeted, commented and got up to leave. Others would then get up and take the seats of those who left – all this while the movie was playing! It was like being in a subway station full of idiots who did not know where they were going. If they would only be patient, try to watch the movie despite its shortcomings, they would have all received a free pass good for another movie, such as Peter, Christie and I did. Instead they had to fuss about and distract all three of us from watching a film, despite its shortcomings. At least I get to watch another film on the house.

Here’s how I used the free pass, so I really can’t complain about this movie. Both Ruth and Richard like it, but this was their first movie in months. They said it was better than Rumble in the Bronx. I have yet to see a Jackie Chan movie that tops Bronx (excluding the good old Drunken Master days) for non-stop fight scenes, what his films really are all about.

What classic piece of literature is next to turn sour with the addition of Ethan Hawke? I suspect Homer’s Iliad or Ovid’s Metamorphoses may soon be set in New York with Ethan as an angst-ridden protagonist – why not, it worked for Great Expectations and now Hamlet. My god, he barely spoke any of hte great speeches on screen, but instead had voice overs (where he could have sat in a studio with a book and microphone) while we get to warch his plain, unaffected face. Admittedly, things for him begin to pick up when he finally spoke up during the famed “To be or not to be”, and again with “How all occasions do inform against me”. Still, not enough there for me to care what Hamlet decided to do with his life. Claudius, on the other hand, was brilliantly played by Kyle MacLachlan. He made interesting choices, but most importantly he let what he was saying affect him, not being indifferent like Hamlet. Even Laertes in the second half and Polonius in the first gave solid performances. One really big problem for me was Julia Stiles as Ophelia. Here she was the same pouty brat she was in 10 Things I Hate About You (very apt title considering my thoughts on her) where she was supposedly playing the shrew, Kate. I would have loved to see another actress play the mad Ophelia, thrashing through her songs as part of an all-girl grunge band, but instead had to watch Stiles go from pouty to screechy. What I resent with her, and to the same extentEthan Hawke, is that they are teen beat idols who, because they’ve been cast as great literary figures rather than the high school comedy types they are, will set the new standard for playing these characters, and set the standard way too low. I can already imagine next fall, high school English classes using this Hamlet (much as Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet has been used) as the students’ way into Shakespeare, which is a great disservice to the Bard.

A quaint film about a street person in New York who made an impression on all levels of society, from other street people and blue-collar bar-dwellers to avant-garde artists and the high-brows who read the New Yorker (not just for the comics). Ian Holm plays Joe Gould whose big secret is he has no secrets. He claims to have the oral history of the world hidden under some chicken coop outside the city, but the “O.H.” is really he himself. He has spent who knows how many years listening to the idle talk and gabber of people who pass him by on the streets, and has compiled it into his history. He was, after all, a trained ethnographer who had once measured the head of an American Indian tribe – the last truly noble people. So much of what he says may be him pulling somebody’s leg, but even that would be part of the oral history. Joe, the writer for the New Yorker played by the always understated Stanley Tucci, has become Gould’s biographer, and as he soon finds out, he has become part of the oral history. Tucci also directed the film, if I am not mistaken, uses some documentary techniques to show the average people on the strets in 1950s new York here and there in his movie, as if he were an ethnographer himself. Yet it is all acted out, with a surprisingly big name cast (no Isabella Rossilini, however). The point is brought up mid-way through the film that the story doesn’t end just because the writer stops writing. Someone wrote a screenplay based on the two New Yorker articles, now I am writing about the film based on the screenplay, and who knows who iwll write about this journal I’m keeping. But the story continues.

There are quite a few family melodrama out these days that take place sometime in the seventies – New Waterford Girl is just one of many other examples. Not that these films have identified anything specific about this decade that shows why families were more messed up back then, but rather it is the attempt of the filmmakers (often first-timers in their mid-thirties) to finally come to terms with their own childhood. I’m sure in ten years there will be all the same movies set in the later eighties. With that said, I can’t really think of anything else to say about the movie. the debutant ball at the end looked good, as it completed the sense of death and decay throughout the film. Yet I was expecting something more like the Gashycrumb Tinies when it came to the five sisters who all end up dead. Instead, we see some girls that nobody seems to understand; not even the narrator, who goes so far as to point this out at the least three ties during the parade of cultural artefacts from what was once considered the lost decade.

Really funny scene where Bob, played by David Duchovny, has his girlfriend over and he is trying to microwave some popcorn, having no idea what’s what in a kitchen. It was played subtly by David – and while the story did not hinge on this business, it was a nice touch to add to the scene. The film itself had all the trapping of the usual Nora Ephron modern-day romance, where a scene such as this would be followed by some glib, on-the-nose statement about modern conveniences. Thankfully this film did not go that route, making its comic scenes stand out alone. There were some “issues” dealt with by director Bonnie hunt – she had something to say about religion and family. Seems as if she had a scene from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life in mind when it came to the size of Grace’s sister’s family. They enjoy sex, and having been raised anticontraceptive Catholics, they breed like rabbits. Yet this is never really brought into the open, and perhaps the sister is Grace’s lesson on reasons to love the moderately, not recklessly. Did Grace really need this lesson, especially when she was played with such charming innocence by Minnie Driver? The director must have thought that somebody needed to know a thing or two about such hazards for relationships.

What a great film, it is like a cross between Hamlet and Anne of Green Gables with a good measure of Mon Oncle Antoine. Moonie is the introverted girl, desperately seeking a way out of the small, coal-mining Nova Scotia town. Instead of pretending to be mad north-northwest, she pretends to be easy, one of the many young female inhabitants who get themselves pregnant and a train ride out of town. It’s only when her plan is carried out exactly as she planned that she realizes how much New Waterford was a part of her life. One of the film’s great moments come when she and Lou go to the infamous Lot #11 and Moonie joins in the song that everyone knows. Lou doesn’t, but no doubt soon will. She is another great character, a perfect foil for Moonie º not only is she an extrovert, she also loves the small town life Moonie at first despised. As the daughter of a boxer from the Bronx, and possibly the only resident in N.W. who isn’tCatholic, she is the new girl the film’s title suggests. She is the avenging angel/hitman sent by the Virgin Mary to punish every man’s infidelity – “If they’re guilty, they will fall.” Soon it becomes the trial by error every man must face, in the face. It’s hilarious that even the men hire her to settle some of their problems. Throughout the film Randy and I were laughing – I found out later that we got shushed by the theatre’s only other tow patrons, two old biddies who got up and switched seats – who will probably be complaining how us two hooligans ruined the whole film for them. Tough, it was a really good film.

Fantastic and fun, the British certainly have a flair for telling a good story without all the marketable trappings that most American (and Japanese) animated movies tend to have. Sure, soon there’ll be the plush toys and lunch boxes, there are already Burger King commercials: “Save the chicken, eat a whopper.” But seeing the film, it was all about the story. Taking a few hints from classic films such as the Great Escape and Stalag 17: films made as most of Europe was still coming to terms with the real horrors of WWII, is going one step furhter than parodying films made int eh last five years. It reminds me of the Disney film A Bug’s Life, and how one critic wrote that it was a cross between Seven Samurai and Cabaret. Each character in this film was great: Ginger, the chicken with a plan and hope and courage to back it up, Fowler, the old rooster always babbling about the RAF and discipline, Mr. Tweedy, the chicken farmer who is on to the chickens, but is never able to convince his wife, the dictator of the farm who is tired of the egg business and wants to make the big bucks with chicken pies. Even the situations had a complex edge: teh rats will only supply the chickens with the tools of escape in exchange for eggs, which are too precious for the chickens to give up, for if they don’t produce enough eggs, they get the chop. One thing you won’t see in many American movies, animated or not, is the American hero as a phoney, one only concerned for saving his own neck and runs away when the going gets tough. But even Rocky has his redeeming qualities, a self-awareness and ability to change: making him perfectly human, despite that he is a rooster with teeth.

I wish the Farrelly Brothers would stop making movies. One thing I have never seen before at the movies were credits given to extras who appeared in the movie, preceded by a disclaimer which read that due to time constraints these actors’ roles were cut from the final product. This suggests that all of them (and there must have been at least thirty) were in scenes and storylines so ill-conceived that they were cut. The film even had a narrator, which is often a sign of post-production problems. These immature brothers must be stopped.

First time I got a theatre upgrade. The film was first in Theatre 3 but the projector wasn’t working. After a while, we were told to go to Theatre 8, which is a palace compared to the former. The small group of patrons and I went across the lobby like we were on a high school field trip – perhaps it helped to watch this film with a context of being in high school, as those students had been targete by the film’s producers. It even references teen flicks from the good old days of the eighties, but what is the likelihood of finding any movie theatre, college art house or not, that would have a double-bill of Sixteen Candles and the Breakfast Club? And with a line-up of post-ninties college students? Only in the movies, or more precisely, only in movies such as Boys and Girls: very contrived and screenwriterly. He’s a structural engineer who believes love relationships should be planned and maintained like a suspension bridge. She’s a flighty arts student majoring in Latin, a romantic language, but she’s not sure why and takes a carpe diem attitude to her love life. Put them together and you get a two-hour examination of every possible angle young lovers take towards relationships, or at least as many as the screenwriters can link together. So then it is entirely possible that a woman like Jennifer can go into a long diatribe against lovers who know they’ve found their match, addressing everyone in the laundromat as if she were the Greek chorus, or that a guy like Ryan can spend his whole pubescent life being an evasive knob but still getting the girl in the end because he was in love but just couldn’t find a wat of saying it. Jason Bigg’s character, either Steve or Hunter, was more interesting than Freddie Prinze Jr.’s, which isn’t saying a lot. Jason played him as a chronic liar, but still earnest. Unfortunately, his part was to serve as a foil, to compare and contrast, against his roommate Ryan. Even worse, to be used as a marketing ploy, in a scene literally edited onto the end of the movie, involving farting underwear models, which is the type of base, sexist humour fans of Biggs in American Pie would have wanted see, and why shouldn’t they, since even ads for this movie featured this highly implausible and just plain stupid scene. As one critic suggested, it was the nervous producers way of ensuring that the American Pie fans, who will sit through anything to see a young girl in a bra and thong, will sit through to the end of Boys and Girls, such as I did. But I didn’t see it because of that, rather because I had worked with Jason biggs and Amanda Detmer on a film, oh yeah Claire Forlani too. No, it was because I always sit through the credits, no matter what film, or wait, it was because I had heard about the Sixteen Candles reference and still wanted to see some connection with the earlier film or something like that. Nope, definitely not for the supermodels in their undies.

A bizarre interpretation of Shakespeare; unlike Prospero’s Books this movie was easy to understand and enjoyable. Some of the musical numbers were too much, but most captured the essence of each scene in the play. The Russian masque was way more sexually charged than I might have remembered (the same goes for the character of Longaville) but it was a hot number, also good were Dancing Cheek to Cheek and There’s No Business like Show Business; the former tied in nicely with Berowne’s “the voice of all the gods make heaven drowsy with the harmony,” the latter was coolly belted out by Costard, played by Nathan Lane – the only one in the cast who could be trusted to make the most of such a number. Much of the play itself, however, was sacrificed. The vaudevillian Costard was a nice touch, but Don Armado came across as an embarrassment. Perhaps I have too close an affinity with the Spanish braggart and his page Mote (called “Moth, strangely enough” in this version, whose role had been reduced to the receiving end of Armado’s slapstick) to be objective. The conflict between Costard and Armado was given no chance to build, leading to the proper entrance of Marcade. Instead, we get an awful and entirely literal rendition of I Get a Keek Out of You, a poor tribute to the subtle wit of Cole Porter. Even some gags were ruined by such on-the-nose scenes: when Berowne talks of his love being as mad as Ajax, and how it kills sheep, instead of making the most of this classical allusion, we get Branagh looking out a window and seeing a sheep being pulled over by a string, supposedly dead. However, the gag redeemed itself somewhat as Berowne was leaning against a Homeric bust with a comic arrow thru the head. I suppose this is the director’s way of playing both sides of the comedic spectrum: a gag that would suit both the purely visual and the literate purists audiences. My last complaint deals with the climax of the play, or rather lack of it in this movie. The pageant of the nine worthies is where the play comes full circle: King Ferdinand and his lords took the vows to study three years in the pursuit of fame and honour; yet when they are presented with the most famous and honourable, they chide and scorn the poor players like the immature boys that they have become (through love, or perhaps they have always been like this). This gives Don Armado the coup de théâtre: “When he breathed, he was a man” which then leads to the fight with Costard and then Marcade. Instead, the film has wartime newsreel footage, mere snippets, of the pageant itself, and nothing of what has been revealed of all the characters. Still, one must hand it to Kenneth Branagh, who strives for new and innovative ways for the audiences of today to get into Shakespeare. Could anyone else (including those BBC productions) have made this play into a movie that people would want to see? And who would have ever thought of casting Alicia Silverstone as a lead Shakespearean actress? She, like most of the movie, was good enough to pass.

Raymond has come back to town from Vietnam, which means a whirlwind tour of all the multiplex theatre to get caught up with all the movies he cannot get as pirated video back in Vietnam. Today was his first day back, and without any jetlag troubles, we went and saw the two hour plus Gladiator, still an enjoyable film, this time I was focusing on Commodus, the bad little emperor who only wants to be loved.It brings up the theme of Caligula, neatly stated at the start of the porno-fest, “What good does it for man to gain the world at the price of losing his soul” or something like that. This emperor, however, in Gladiator goes to great lengths to have others prove they love him. He murders his father, Marcus Aurelius, so that seems like his paternal affection for Commodus makes him Aurelius’ choice for emperor, even though he had already made the enlightened choice of Maximus. Commodus also entraps his sister, to the point of incestuous marriage, forcing her to show love. She, being a crafty politician, admits herself that she’s done some wrong, and could be compared to Commodus. She might be the only one who could have loved him, but she held back, and eventually goes behind his back plotting his murder. Finally, Commodus wants all of Rome, or specifically all within the city of Rome, to love him. He stages the gladiator games to give the mob bread and circuses (there was even a scene of loaves of bread being hurled into the audience like so many rolled-up t-shirts).However, these slippery people find someone else to get behind and cheer for: Maximus. Commodus sets out to destroy his would-be brother, which eventually leads to his own ruin.

A salty tale about boats caught in a storm at sea – the crew of the Angola Gae (or whatever it was called) seemed to be the rugged sea-going type that could manage anything thrown at them – except for the hissy fits of fellow crew members. The storm they all became a part of was big, providing some neat special effects – but for a disaster film, it didn’t do its job. I was expecting to see the storm peg off some of the lesser “developed” characters much earlier, especially the coast guard rescuing the yachter – when were the huge cargo containers going to knock into the yacht and helicopter, or even the coast guard rescue vessel? And what exactly did all of the scenes on the yacht, C.G. boat or the ocean liner (with the containers) have to do with the swordfishing boat? Practically everyone survives, except for one coast guard lost at sea and the A.G. crew – the latter at least holding so dignified decorum by going down with their ship. And what was with the cheesy Marky Mark love dedication – him floating in the sea, his girlfriend is then superimposed in the sky – it became a New Kids on the Block music video. Mark Wahlberg even says, in voice-over “Baby, it’s all about the love.” I thought he’s being cast in these types of movies so he can put his fluffy music career behind him. All and all, for a disaster film, it was a disaster.

Ugh! There’s a reason why there are so many movies shot in Vancouver: so many are so bad that the one consolation Hollywood producers have is that the film was shot in Canda, so it didn’t cost so much. This is one of the films I worked on, back when it had the more imaginative title Scream if You Know What I Did Last Halloween. Some of the scenes were shot at Van Tech, my old school, so I had an even more personal connection to the film than Romeo Must Die of How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog. Seeing it in the theatre, however, I wanted to have had nothing to do with it. Raymond came to see it, as if this was me showing him the results of the work I’ve done over the past two years – all I could think was how pathetic it all must seem. The movie was horrible. It was originally supposed to be a parody only of the newer post-modern horror movies that had been so popular in the late nineties, some of the gags were scene-for-scene rip-offs. Other gags were thrown in, in a reshoot months later, to prove how pop culture cool the director is. The Budwiser “Whassup” ad and the Sixth Sense jokes. And then there was a parody of the Usual Suspects which came out of nowhere, all making a pointless movie, full of dick jokes and bad acting, signifying nothing.

There is a videotape from the RSC that has a young Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart with more hair doing a scene study of Troilus and Cressida; it is wonderful, showing these two talented actors can be thrown anything and they’ll make it something worth watching. The same can be said here. McKellen plays a holocaust survivor with magnetic powers, and Stewart plays the wheelchair-bound telepath who runs the school for gifted mutants. So much of the movie was made to appeal to the huge fanbase that the long-running comic book series has created. The roles of Magneto and Professor X had to be more than living cartoons to make this a good movie and to keep the fanboys happy. The duality of Magneto and Prof. X is more complicated than most comic book adaptations are willing to go: they are fighting for the same cause, but take polar opposite approaches that they often have to fight themselves, and by themselves, I mean a collection of mutant heroes each has on their “team.” Magneto sees the world as a cruel place, understandably seeing where he came from, and has no qualms about killing innocent humans, or non-mutants, in order for mutants to gain acceptance in human society. Mutants do pose as a threat, and Magneto will use these powers to bully others around. Professor X takes another approach, sees how if such dangerous mutants learn how to control and moderate their powers, they’ll prove themselves as useful members of society. While his seems to be the better way, it is still no the perfect solution, where his students all end up being footsoldiers in a vast military complex that literally lies beneath his school’s foundation. The film’s use of Wolverine, by far the most popular X-Man, as the audience’s way into the film was a good choice. Being a loner, fighting in northern Albertan bars to make enough cash to live day to day, his introduction to all the fellow mutants, good and bad, becomes the audience’s as well. Even more ingenious is that he portrays how torturous this isolation from society, the thing both Magneto and Prof. X are trying to eliminate, can be. Wolverine may be a loner, but he sacrifices himself nobly to protect fellow outcast, the young kid named Rogue. And like the comics, where death is never as life-threatening as in real life, Wolverine lives to fight another day, and to appear in many more sequels. The fight scenes in the movie may not have been spectacular, but I would much rather see a movie with such a compelling story than one that tries to destroy as much property per fight scene as possible.

A tough film to watch, not only because of all the obvious warning signs that this is a controversial film (it sentimentizes stalking, has homoerotic themes, etc.) but also because it hits too close to home for people such as myself. Buck is a 27 year old male whose emotional maturity stopped around 10 or 11, he has lived his entire life in his parents’ house, with his parents, he drinks the rum and cokes in huge tumblers, rather than the more manly beer from the bottle or sophisticated cocktails, his lovelife consists on fixating on one person to the point where he is hiding in bushes outside his house, and the list continues. All points which I can brush aside, saying that Buck is nothing like me, then seeing a scene which is exactly what I have done, or would have done. Needless to continue how uneasy it made me feel, and hopefully others in the audience as well. Yet there were other, lighter, moments that I could relate to, such as the whole community theatre business, especially the director choosing a lead because of his looks over other much more talents. But the play, very much like the movie, ends successfully. Signs that even those of us who feel our life is going nowhere, and we’ll never become the adults that everyone else seems to be, that things will be alright.

Finally got to see this film, which has been boasted as a smash comedy hit from England. May have enjoyed this film more than I should have, seeing as how it was a long time since I had seen the films I have been meaning to see, if that makes any sense. I’m impressed that I was able to rush across town after working a usual 15 hour day. The film is yet another set-in-the-seventies rediscovered childhood, told by an angry young fill-in-the-blank director. this time it’s muslim born in England, with the father being from Pakistan and the mother as a no-nonsense English woman. If this is the director’s biography, and I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be, this director must be a sado-masochist, since he makes the boy in the hooded parka the recipient of his entire family’s aggression. Most of the film was a paint-by-numbers story about marginalized people, all the sort of things I studied way too much of at university. But it sets itself up as a fun, smash hit comedy, and does it unsuccessfully. Here we have a huge dalmatian, an avenging sexual force, who mounts those awkward, unattractive people. Then we have the runaway son, who had left his arranged-marriage bride at the alter – why? Not because the bride was hideous, as in a later scene (this bride was quite a cutie), but because he is gay. Lastly, the scene that should have been the comic coup de théâtre, where the two other sons meet the obnoxious family of the hideous brides they have been arranged to marry, had enough of a set up that it should have run like a French farce. Instead it stumbles along until the no-nonsense mom puts her foot down and solves all the movie’s problems, as if that was something we could not see coming from the start. The film ends with one of those silent “what are we going to do next” fade outs. Abuse is abuse.

There is a line in this movie that completely sums up the whole picture. It’s delivered by Josh Whatshisname, one of those actors who you never seem to remember, until you see him on screen and think “it’s him, he was in the film about that guy with that other guy, didn’t he push him off that building?” This familiar no-name says, moments before the big experiment takes place, something like “are we making a snuff film or what?” A crass line such like this is a little too on the nose, yet says a lot about everyone involved in this production: invisible man gropes co-worker’s breast, invisible man smashes dog (also invisible) into wall, invisible man rapes quite visible neighbour who has a habit of undressing nightly in front of her many windows with all the lights on (only in the movies, which creepily suggests the director would be saying that women like her had it coming to them). This last scene was edited so that not much was shown, but I am willing to bet that there’s a director’s cut lurking in some snuff shop that will show not only this but invisible man raping Elizabeth Shue’s body double. I mean, that’s the whole point of this film, some CGI designers who though it would be cool to see women being sexually violated without having to see the rapist. Yet then try to dress it up as an examination on man’s moral state altered by unknown science, as if Charleton Heston would appear at the end yelling “a planet where invisible apes make people into food!” It doesn’t even get that good. Here’s the run down: Kevin Bacon stars, the greatest what’s-his-face actor Hollywood has to date; boobies and bums are shown, yet not enough to get anyone excited; CGI FX are shown, but who cares as in half a year from now another movie will be made, god help us, that outdoes this one in the effects department; blood literally being splattered all over the place and a huge explosion where the only survivors are the two lovers and possibly the invisible psychopath, who everybody knows will be appearing in the sequel. If that isn’t a snuff film, I don’t know what is.

I think what happened is that summer schlockmeister Jerry Bruckheimer saw a few episodes of Sex in the City and wondered how he could cash in on the whole chick empowerment thing that he was completely oblivious to beforehand (looking back on the sad collection of girlfriends and old hags in every other of his films). So instead of inane questions typed across the screen by Sarah Jessica Parker, we have some little “this is my first big role” actress trying to express herself by composing songs she’s too afraid to sing in public. So what, they’re garbage written by come country bumpkin attempting to crossover into pop music. As for the cast, you’re better off getting your grubby mitts on the latest Maxim Magazine, for at least you can ogle the waitresses behind the bar for more than a minute at a time, and, believe it or not, have a better sense of character than in the film: “I’m the Russian and I’m a flirt. She’s the tough gal and she’s a … ” Then there’s John Goodman, because everybody loves a big burly man who’s really a softie under his uniform (a toll booth operator, since no Bruckheimer film is complete without at least one scene of a car squealing and swerving through traffic, this one has two). Lastly, there’s the boyfriend, who’s supposed to be charming and supportive, but could also be interpreted as the producer’s assertion that a relationship won’t work unless the girl does everything the guy tells her to do. that would certainly be the icing on the cake for those lunkheaded, Maxim Magazine-buying crowd, advice Bruckheimer seems all too happy to be doling out.

An earnest movie, in spite of the view that the film was just an excuse for a group of old pros from Hollywood to use NASA facilities and equipment as if they were rides at Disneyland. Clint Eastwood makes good use of irony throughout, where Clint says he’s a busy man and his wife suppressing her laugh, or where Donald Sutherland chides a teammate for never having grown up while he has his arm around a young gal less than half his age. Other nice touches are the devious undertakings of James Cromwell are treated as unimportant (or rather not as important) to the main story about a team of geezers finally getting their big chance to go into outer space. It would be usual to have a scene near the end, where Cromwell’s character would have to face a trial of justice, and the hero Eastwood would sit smirking in the courtroom as the verdict is past. Fortunately there is no such scene, and we have a much more true-to-life situation where the villain is revealed as someone who will do anything to save his own butt, and he slinks out of the picture, never to be seen again. I really enjoyed the suspense created throughout the movie as to what the damaged Russian satellite actually is. I mean, what else could this relic from the cold war be but some sort of weapon, but it is mentioned and finally presented with such intriguing mystery that I felt something similar to Eastwood’s shock when he discovers the missiles. The only slight problem I have with the film is that most of the actors did not lose themselves in the role; for me, while watching and while recalling my thoughts, they were Eastwood, James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones et al. instead of the characters they’re supposed to be playing (the only name that comes to mind freely is Jones’ Hawk, which is really only his nickname). Perhaps it’s a throwback to Eastwood’s Man-Without-a-Name days, but more likely it is that these familiar faces are playing themselves, imagining that they would have been America’s first men in space who finally get their chance.

The Japanese have a certain knack for parody, at least from my western point of view. Not only have the people at Toho Studios made an original Godzilla movie that mocks both of Roland Emmerich’s blockbuster duds – Godzilla and Independence Day, but they poke fun at other pop culture flash-in-the-pans. What was the monster Orga, or its spaceship counterpart, if it was not a representation of that evil Y2K bug that had everyone so worked up last year but is now almost entirely forgotten (keep in mind that this film was released in Japan in 1999). There’s a majesty in seeing the towering Godzilla, with flames behind him, and fleeing citizen in front, even with the low-rent special effects which brings back the kitschy camp of the old Godzilla films. The badly dubbed-over voices have something to say about not having anything to say – except borrowed quotes from Dr. Strangelove and “Great Caesar’s ghost” from Superman fame – there’s nothing new to be said. The moralizing at the end proves the point. After the climatic battle, and the fall of the one truly evil character, a scientist and a Godzilla-chaser are left to puzzle out meaning. The scientist has hit on the moral conundrum: we created Godzilla, yet all we try to do is kill him. The adventurous chaser adds how Godzilla is always protecting Japan, and how there is a bit of Godzilla in all of us. Before this cheesy sentiment goes too far, Godzilla does a 360º spin, breathing fire all around him. No point in moralizing, Godzilla is all about destroying scale-model replicas of urban Japan.

Hey, here’s an idea. let’s get some actors to play miserable lonely wretches and follow them around with digital cameras. The only thing worth noting in this film is it shows the depth of London’s shallow swinging single nightlife. Oh yeah, it had something to do with Guy Fawkes Day as well.

One of the first signs that this film is a cut above the rest, perhaps part of the British New Wave (if such a thing exists), is that right from the top the protagonist refers to himself, in voice over, in the third person singular – often saying “Jack did this” or “Jack wants that.” At first I thought of it as some obscure literary reference to Julius Caesar, but it is not until midway through the film that its use makes sense. Jack is a writer working as a casino croupier (dealer) who is writing a novel about a croupier named Jack. Soon Jack refers to himself as Jake, and we have the dealer as master of his own fate, author of his own self. A nice scene with his no-nonsense, yet romantic enough to put up with this lout, girlfriend reading Jack’s manuscript, and telling him she doesn’t like it because Jake’s a zombie working at a job he hates: is she talking about the up-coming novel, or is it really about the film so far? (It is also she who has the line “what the hell does croupier mean anyways?”) Jack does go through the movie with a hard-as-nails stoicism: he takes a beating without raising a hand to resist, he shares a room with a sexy South African (one who wanders into the room naked, and as she slips on her nightgown becomes even sexier) without so much as a rise from him. But then there are scenes of him pummelling a gambler outside the casino, followed by hum making mad passionate love (or is it just rape) to the odd duckling co-worker. Perhaps the differences are summed up by the film’s tagline “hold on tightly, let go lightly,” where he is first holding on to a notion of what makes a macho man like Jack a man, and then letting it all go. The film ends with Jack finding out it was his father pulling strings all along (who else would it have been in hindsight). Upon revelation, Jack begins to laugh, for the first time ever in the film, and says in to same droll voice over “fortunately Jake has a snese of humour.” All work and no play has made Jack a dull boy, yet Jack is able to make himself a Jake.

Oh look, it’s Lawrence of Arabia, no it’s just Jennifer Lopez riding a horse in the opening shot. Hey lookit that, it’s them colourful lights from 2001. No, it’s just the silly SFX as VInce Vaughn makes his odyssey into the subconscious. What about that, it’s Jennifer Lopez dressed as the Virgin Mary, about to lovingly drown the already dying inner child of an emotionally-scarred serial killer. Oh come on this is too much. Obviously some art director went mad, met up with some CGI programmers with a new product to sell (some system called Toybox that, despite this dud of an advertisement, will be seen again and again in movies – the straight to video kind I hope). “Let’s make a movie about the darker areas of the mind,” the art dr. said. “ooh, let’s fill every single frame with symbols and images that don’t really mean anything,” said the CGI prog. “Sounds good,” said the art dir., “but what will the story be about?” “Let’s make it about a serial killer,” said the hack writer. “That way, I can show scenes of helpless women being stalked and captured,” said the director, “and we can have naked female cadavers because we’re making a psychological thriller and people expect to see scenes like that.” “I’m going to make sure our psycho is totally deranged, but still manages to outmanouever the FBI,” said the hack writer. “Let’s have the special agent be some young Hollywood hunk who’s too young to even start training as an agent,” said the director. “Great, I’ll make him a lawyer with a grudge who joined the FBI as if they had an ad in the classifieds,” said the hack writer. “That sounds great,” said the producer, “but we got to have a hottie as some sort of psychologist, someone we can tease the audience with the chance that this is the film where she takes it all off,” said the producer. “Hi, I’m Jennifer Lopez,” said the tease, ” I used to act, but found that people like to stare at my butt and boobs in music videos. Can I be in this film?” “You sure can,” said everybody else.

A nice, funny film; kind of the male equivalent to Muriel’s Wedding. Set in Santa Fe, with those colourful homes and wonderful opera (as I’ve been told). The story deals with what men want out of a relationship, and how they go about getting it (or some, to use the bawdy joke). Dex has it all figured out in Taoist/Buddhist terms – deny your desire for sex, do something to impress your girl, but then be disinterested in pursuing a relationship, in which way you become the pursued. Of course, the real lesson is to be yourself and stop playing these games, which could be taken a step further by going into the second naîvéte, where all that you thought you knew in the first naîvéte is denied, so that when you finally move to the enlightened second, you are more sure of your actions. Actually, I don’t think much of this is in the movie, just me going on about that great religious studies class at SFU, which Dex must have taken as well. Also enjoyed how the final credits started with “Based on a story by … Based on an idea by … Based on …” the same guy in all three cases.

This film was only about jerks waving guns at each other for two hours (it felt like three). Betrayal and double-crossing happened in every scene, acted by every character; but who cares, since nobody trusted anyone, then to try and make the story about god or destiny or whatever other theme the screenwriter could think up at the last minute – I’m sure somebody must have found it intriguing. Definitely no me.

A great film which reminded me much about Shakespeare’s plays. First there are the parallel storylines – Betty’s and Charlie’s – complimented each other much in the same way as King Lear’s and Gloucester’s do. The would-be nurse and the would-have retired hitman both experience bovarysme – a word I had just come across in Kermode’s chapter on Othello. The gist of this new word is the human will to see things as they are not. Most of the other characters in this film experience their own delusions, most notably the soap actor George, who plays Dr. David Ravale, in finding what he thinks is the perfect actress. For Charlie, he deludes himself over Betty as well, only for him she has developed from the final hit (in his line of work) to a romanticized perfect woman, who would be stupid enough to fall for a fictional character, despite all the evidence that supports that she has. This is her delusion, brought about by the trauma of witnessing her husband’s murder. When she is released from this happy-go-lucky trauma – where she reunites with her former fiancé Dr. David – it is like seeing Imogen or Juliet (just not so fataly) awake from her coma. She now resembles Helena, the clever wench, Marina, Perdita and Hermione, even Cordelia in that she has this healing power to clear others of their delusions, George’s, Charlie’s her own: which in this case is not the whole soap opera thing, since she is clear that after her trauma she had always known the soap to be a fictional T.V. show, but that she had to put up with such an awful life with her former husband Del and her unrealized dreams. It was also great just to see Renée Zwelliger smiling more than her usual confused pouting – she’s quite attractive when she smiles.

This film was neither a cunning look at the cultural appropriation of Black Americans by the Whites (as critics praised it to be) nor the goofy, kinky teen farce that the trailers promoted. In the former case, the film did raise the issue that much of the truly creative artists come from marginalized cultures, and pop culture takes that form of art and makes it perky, blode and white. However, the director does not go as deep into this subject as I would have liked to have seen. Instead, the cheerleading squad from Compton wins whatever “universal” prize because they deserved it more, no justifiactions for the audience. In the latter case, there was the requisite girl’s-changeroom scene, also the horrible audition scene, and (for those slobbering dilts who could not get enough of Kirsten Dunst not wearing enough in their Maxim Magazines) a gratuitous bikini car wash scene. There was also standard parody of the demented choreographer, dumping the cheating lunkhead boyfriend, and trading him in for a supportive one with minor communications problems. Even with the ubiquitous out-takes during the closing credits it still seemed to fall short of a cohesive teen comedy. Perhaps due to the director putting half-baked social commentary in to the places where funny gags should have been.

This must be Isreal’s version of 1984, only not so upbeat. I can hardly believe the real Jerusalem to be that oppressive and bleak, I should hope that the film was trying to present a portion of Jewish society – the strict orthodox who can’t even wash their face without a prayer to “Big Brother” Jehovah. Even the rebellious outcast Yakov, who joins the military and this is seen as a bad thing (as if the PLO were not as big as a threat to Isreal), fits into this sexually repressed world. Many of the scene were long, with not much going on in them. One of the sisters repeated about five times how she did not want to marry her pre-chosen husband – in not so many words. The worst had to have been the penultimate scene, which started off with a wonderful time lapse using lighting effects to indicate the passage from night to day – the ex-wife Rivka had come to Meîr one last time to try and make the marriage work. Instead, she dies beside him, leaving him frantically pleading for her to wake up, as if all she needed was to be asked another fifteen times. I know it is a common, cliché response to say that a foreign film is slow moving, but when the audience is visibly fighting off sleep, it is an indication that all’s not well.

Another great film along the all-consuming obsession with music vein, as with high Fidelity (which I am sure A. F. director Cameron Crowe had some hand in). Before I go into too great detail, I must remind myself that I will be seeing this film again with Dallas, and soon (yet given how long it has taken him to see H.F., I’m not too certain when). For now, let me write about some “lightening scenes” in the movie. First comes at the very start and the very end of the film, with the vinyl film logo and the final line of the credits respectively the sound of a record needle starting and ending – evoking the sense of comfort that comes with listening to an old favourite. Eileen Miller, the mother, talks about Atticus but especially Boo Radley, and then Calphernia and Livia later on indicated the warm wisdom of what might have been a stock character, the nagging mother, in another film. That Penny Lane’s experiences are often explained or at least summed up by her female peers, anonymous groupies – shows how misvalued affection such as hers is, but also how it is a shared experience, male and female alike. Finally, the one that brought it all home to me (through a weird coincidence): William talks of throwing away a bandaid, the name Penny Lane calls her gang of groupies, after I myself had discarded a bandaid (from a recent cut) in the same theatre. These themes of use – uses of a bandaid, but also use as in borrowing ideas or sensations to make rock and roll experiences (such as Boo Radley and my bandaid) which are in turn misused by promoters and managers – the real enemy – are some of the themes I hope to discuss next time I see this film.

Everybody else must be on drugs. This is the only reason why all the people I’ve talked to loved this flavourless film. It’s one of those quaint British charmers that spring up every year (much like the tedious Waking Ned Devine) that have one or two jokes going for it. This film’s two were: seeing the tea and crumpet crowd going goofy on weed, and pointless quips about the gardener being Scottish. Not really funny jokes.

Here’s a telling line from this movie that could not be anything less than completely obvious. Right at the top of the film, Carter is beating the stuffing out of some nagging Vegas lowlife, and says something like “don’t make me take this to the next level,” whereas the heckler replies “oh, hwat is that, some kinda catch-phrase?” Yes, ha-ha we all get it – it’s post modern poking fun at Sylvester Stallone, who built his career grunting out such tag lines. This film goes way off on this sort of hip pastiche of gangster film conventions – steering towards the out-for-revenge flicks like Payback or the (brilliant) Limey. Yet this one is a remake of a classic which probably inspired these above films. It even cast Micheal Caine, the original Carter, as the guy you thought you could trust but ends up being the big bad guy (this should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with this type of recasting remake à la Mission Impossible) stealing just a handful of editing tricks from the Limey, Get Carter does not quite capture the same fragmented storyline as the Limey, not does it have the relentless pace of Payback. instead it falls half-heartedly between both. It was really hard for me to watch this film, or to write about it now, without comparing it to these other two, or to watchi it without looking for scenes I would have worked on in the pick-up unit (no credit for me yet) – Stallone played a tough guy with not too much of interest going on upstairs. Mickey Rourke played a sleaze ball, and I’m beginning to think that he couldn’t be anything else. Rachel Leigh Cook was not as annoying as the seemingly unaffected teenage niece, and Vancouver was shown in its rainiest splendour – the call sheet for day one of pick ups had the note “pray for rain” now I know why. All and all, the visual effects and acting were overdone while the story content turned out half-baked.

It would first seem that Robert Altman is doing an Adomovar film with all the women – yet there are no hookers or transexuals. Instead we are seeing a world of upper-class women who frequent Dr. Sully Travis’ office, and the movie is more akin to Dr. T being caught between three of four competing versions of Steel Magnolias. Women overwhelm him, like so much of the watery sources – rain, sprinklers, fountains – seen in the film. His only solace is going out hunting with the guys (one of whom is Andy Richter), but all they ever talk about is women. The punchline to this film, after all the events in this life lead him to a literal whirlwind, he finds himself in Mexico with a pregnant woman. His sense of relief when the baby he delivers is a boy nicely sums up the movie for him, not a misogynist message, but one that suggests that one man can only fo so much for so many women before he is overwhelmed.

Another classic from the master of mockumentaries, Christopher Guest. It was not as funny as Waiting for Guffman, but it is probably because this one hasn’t been given time to grow on me (for it opened tonight) like the repeated viewings of Guffman. Still, one of the problems with this film is that the ensemble cast are paired up into separate couples, rather than all being in scenes together. Nevertheless, being not as funny as Guffman still places the film high among the comedy classics. Memorable scenes include the yuppies (the Swans) telling their how we met story … “She was in the Starbucks across the street from my Starbucks” is something all Vancouverites can groan about; the Taft Hotel having four clocks in the lobby all set in the same time zone … Boston, New York, Philadelphia … ; the Flecks, played by Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, were perfect; and lastly the colour commentator Fred Willard with his imbecilic nonsequitors. What made these jokes work best was the reactions from the British co-commentator – always reserving his judgement of the rambling fool beside him, politely telling his how he told that joke about the protologist last year. It was also great to see in the credits some familiar names: Jack Hardy and his AD team, Gil and Nancy Craft Services, etc. So that’s where they all were before Antitrust.

It’s the St. Thomas More story with a twist, this time it’s a woman about to be named vice president of the United States but still the story of a remarkable person who places principles ahead of ambition. even with all the hooray for the USA speeches and the various references to current president Bill Clinton’s plight – far too numerous to mention, the three most obvious being sexual infidelity in the White House, a nation-wide coverage of a hearing led by a Republican out to dig up some dirt, and a few “don’t inhale” jokes – the story was engaging enough. Although I must admit the big twist at the end was not such a surprise. For a scene mid-way through, with FBI agent Wilmena and the other VP contender Hathaway, confirmed my suspicion with the very first scene: his heroic deed seemed to have been just as the perfect moment. Too perfect. What was of interest were the roles of the president, his chouce for VP, Laine, and the oily character of Runyan. First, Jackson Evans, the prez, is a superby shrewd character, able to make tough decisions, and make others follow through, while maintaining his down to earth charm. Upstanding senator Laine Hanson did a remarkable thing – actually listened to my psychic message. The scene was when she had been given ammo to use against the cunning Runyan, which if she had used would have turned the tables on him and would also have provided an explosive dramatic scene. There was a long, tense pause between his attack and her response, there were people in the audience urging her to fight (I literally heard them) but I knew that this course would eventually backfire, so I sent my psychic message and the result was a more satisfying dramatic scene. It would have been slightly more interesting to suggest, at the end, that there were bigger skeletons hiding in her closet, rather than clearing slate of any indiscretion – yet isn’t that what American politics is all about, as this movie shows, the need to believe in a spotless leader? Finally, the avenging congressman Runyan was too serpentine to be believed as anything other than the patsy most deserving the fall from grace. His role was interesting as he portrayed almost textbook examples of how to use rhetoric against an enemy. To merely suggest and dismiss a claim is more powerful than to outright accuse illegal activity. That is unless your target has no concern for personal reputation.

A charming comedy, not as cutting edge or wickedly dark as some would suspect a movie where one of the co-stars is the Devil. After its funny take on Koyaanisqatsi with the opening titles, finally honing in on Elliot, played by Brandon Fraser, the movie then follows this bumbling innocent through a typical day of faux pas and humiliation. When he meets his dark guardian angel, in the form of a gamine Elizabeth Hurley, the movie takes off as individual sketches, Elliot playing all sorts of roles as he wishes to be closer to his Gretchen named Alison. A wonderful range of characters – the Columbian drug lord saying “oh great, I’m a Columbian drug lord” and peeved that he also can speak fluent Russian when dealing with mafia types (one of whom is Rudolf Martin – Nicky Krasnikoff of B+C), a suave socialite to sweaty meathead basketball player to an over-the-top caricature of the sensitive man, the kind who will, and does, get sand kicked in his face. Each time you see a committed performance by the talented Mr. Fraser. Also fun to watch his co-workers showing up here and there recast as different characters as well.

A holiday classic returns in a season best known for watered down sequels to horror films such as Scream and Blair Witch Project. Tim Burton’s stylized world of friendly Halloween terror is charming, perhaps a little worse for wear when it comes to the arias composed by Danny Elfman. Really noticed this time around that the residents of Halloween have no concept of the generosity and spirit of well-being that Christmas brings: much in the same way as Jews and pagans are presented as not having any concept of faith, hope or charoty. Their attempt to appropriate Christmas into their celebration is a disaster. Yet still the most amusing part of the movie, seeing the terrible substitutes for Christmas gifts wrecking havok and spreading terror.

You get the sense that some producer really pushed to get this sequel done in under a year after the overnight sensation of the first Blair Witch Project, and so much the worse for that. It is novel to see a sequel, especially in the horror genre, to treat its predecessor as a film unto itself. No attempt was made to pretend the film students in the first one were anything but actors, which is mirrored by the six characters in this sequel sharing the same names as the actors playing them. The point which is made in the film is that scary films may be responsible for all the lewd and savage crimes they supposedly inspire. The film tries to show how mass hysteria can lead people to commit any horrible act without being aware of doing any wrong. This timely idea, however, gets downplayed in the middle, where scenes are edited to shock and titillate (I’m sure many will be freeze framing their DVD edition to play spot the naked chick), only to be hit over the head with the film’s original message. Not as clever as it poses to be.

This film’s distribution makes for a more interesting story than what is seen on screen. Apparently the director/producer had to rent theatre spaces in Vancouver and Toronto, playing out of his own pocket. I later found out that this was due to the filmmaker being eager to sign a contract with a TV station, which both bars him from theatrical distribution, but also makes it necessary before the film can be shown on TV. Sounds like his career is in critical condition, and it is perhaps more irony than poetic justice that the film in question is about suicide. Depressed orphan teens having one last day of fun before they join the holy choir invisible. They mope through the film, filled with sexual tension and angst. Making teens depressed, as Bart Simpson would say, “is like shooting fish in a barrel.” Showing teen depression is like having to dine on bullet-ridden fish, no matter what sauce is used. You can taste the gunpowder and eventually crack your tooth on a bullet. I think I’ve milked this metaphor way too far. Enough said.

Of all the films that were inspired by characters or sketches from Saturday Night Live, this film rises above the mediocrity and is an enjoyable film. Tim Meadows has a way of keeping his character fresh throughout the film, and even gives the over-sexed ladies’ man a chance to grow and mature yet still within his childish prankster way. Some gags, actually most of them, play on expectation, and the most obvious one comes in a difference between the trailer and the film. In all the ads, we see him walking down the street, checking out a passing-by woman and walking straight into a lamppost. Funny, but isn’t exactly the first time we’ve seen such a gag. In the film, the same set-up is there, but he catches himself before he walks into the pole, only to step around and fall down an open manhole, yet another seen-it-a-million-times gag which pays off because of the built-up expectation. Another neat aspect is the narration of the film, provided by Billy Dee Williams, giving the needed exposition, and then having the ladies’ man come in with lines like “why are you always telling that story?” or “who’re you talking to?” This gag is used quite often, but always done in a fresh way. I guess the best way to sum up this movie is to say it is fresh, in both senses of the word.

I thought I already saw this movie when it was called Mission to Mars. This one has a more impressive cast: Terrance Stamp, Carrie-Ann Moss and Tom Sizemore, but it makes little difference when they are given little to do. Instead, it is a story about a resourceful space janitor (played by Val Kilmer, hoping to recapture his lead role status) and the robotic dog out to kill him. Nothing really inspiring about that.

It happened again! Each time I see a movie with the always late Kamni, I end up missing the bsginning of the show. And I wanted to see what happened first up as it shows a pleasant intro which is soon shattered by the presence of brutal violence from Palestinian training camps. The film is really about the ineptitude of German authorities to manage this heated hostage taking more than it is about the on-going bloodbath happening in the Middle East. Germany was still recovering from its Nazi image, and the 1972 Olympics was its attempt to show the world how much Germany has changed. For the worse, however, as ruthless efficiency is replaced by bumbling mismanagement, It was hard to watch the German officials trying to explain, and even joke about, the events that happened. This raised an issue for me, it has something to do with the responsibilities of a documentary filmmaker: are they showing as many sides of the story as they should, or have they selected scenes in accordance with the filmmaker’s prejudices? It seems that this director is being fair and even-handed by showing both the Israeli and Palestinian reaction, yet the Germans are only seen in an unfavourable light. For it seems far too unbelievable that such events could happen, and the only reaction from Germany is “oh well, mistakes happen.”

It seems like Arnie fans have waited forever for his action movies to be as spectacular as his Terminator movies (the good old James Cameron days). While this movie is nowhere close to matching the action and adventure of these good old days, character-wise it is a few steps closer to the ideal Arnie. It is hard to put my finger on it exactly, but it seemed that Arnold had more personality in this film than in his other most recent work (End of Days being a low point in his career). Ah – enough about Arnie! – let me think about the film itself. A low-rent sci-fi movie pumped up with big budget special effects. Examines some interesting questions that surround the idea of cloning, but not enough to be a thought-provoking movie. Much of the suspense was ruined due to clumsy direction (gee, I wonder if the skier who is really an anti-cloning fanatic will play a bigger part later on in the film were my exact thoughts as they kept cutting back to his close up early in the movie), making the surprise twist at the end not so much a surprise – wow, who would’ve thunk the Arnie we followed through the film was actually a clone – uh, everybody.

A neatly colour-coded story about how lives can be linked together by various accidents. A storytelling methhod quite popular with Canadian filmmakers (of the green kind), this film is different because it is from Germany and therefore has subtitles. I don’t know why I am being so glib about the film, as I remember enjoying myself in the theatre. Just that now I can’t think of what made this film remarkable. Perhaps I too am suffering from short-term memory loss, like Rene in the film (I’m sure I’ve seen this condition somewhere else, , but where?). Marco and Rebecca’s love life was painful to watch, as he’s a hypocrite who cheats around but is insanely jealous of Rene and the casual attention of him by Rebecca, and she is so passive that you begin to wonder if Marco is the best she could do because she’s too tired to look for someone better. The other two main characters Laura, the nurse bitten by the acting bug, and Theo the farmer who suffers the most loss. Both have their moments and earn a place in the story. But in the end not much has happened: Theo gets revenge, Laura has a baby, Rene gets a fresh start on life, Rebecca leaves for who knows where, and Marco ends his life tragically (and is reborn as Laura’s baby? I’m not too sure about this). All interesting stories, but since they are randomly put together, or so it would seem, my only reaction to all of it is so what. This film deserves a better understanding than this.

Slow-paced and a lot of atmosphere – a tribute to comic books which most resembles comics: there are scenes of dialogue where both speakers remain motionless throughout, as if they were frozen in a panel, all the steel grey and dark colours giving the look of an elaborate graphic novel. Even the costuming of heroes and villains: Security Guard in his cape and cowl, Mr. Glass in black and purple and the Maintenance Man in orange jumpsuit. One of the ultimate fantasies, a mild-mannered family man (of sorts) discovering he is a superhero. The only problem is metanarrative: will there be a sequel? As it may seem that this film is a set up for a postmodern series of superhero movies, one that is conscious of the genre’s conventions. It would have to be quite a dramatic story, to match this long character arc. And while we’re on textbook terminology, I’d like to point out a quote from Chekhov which states that if a gun is presented in the first act (in Bruce Willis’ closet) someone will be shot in the third act (or nearly shot by his son). I just read this quote two nights ago and just witnessed what he was talking about in this film.

One thought I had was that I may want to include any comments on trailers seen before the film, as they are not part of a movie, but still part of the experience of watching a movie. In the same way as television ads have been placed within a television broadcast, the trailers have been spliced in by the projectionists and the types of films you see coming soon may have some effect on the movie that follows. However, I have decided against this, as I should focus on the film itself. Already I have written too much on the subject, and it would seem I have nothing to say about this film. I will only add this comment: the thought came to me twenty-five minutes into the trailers. Now for my thoughts on the film, in brief, not too impressed. Ben Affleck seems to be grooming himself to be a salesman-actor, with this role and him in the Boiler Room, can Willie Loman be too far away? Gwyneth Paltrow seems to be suffering too much from appearing as an actress who deserves her Oscar. It doesn’t help that director David Roos put both stars in bizarre situations like a stripmall with a barking dog in the washroom or let’s make a fool of myself on video because it’s not like the footage will have any importance to the story later in the film. Such mishaps would be forgivable if they were subplots in an Altman movie or one of those great Canadian causality flicks. Even if he had Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Spacey it would be too much to handle, as too many times events are foreshadowed and twists given away too easily.

It feels like I already saw this film, or one like it, at last year’s film fest, about the new economy booming in Calgary. It was something named Bad Money or a similar title. It showed how the new corporate structure was too much for the open-hearted, free-spirited Albertans. This film continues on this same thread, in the same disjointed way; only it features superheroes and Don McKellar and attempts to convey the message that people should break out of their secure bubbles and do something good for others. It felt more like a smart-alexy director riffing on Kids in the Hall sketches. Only in Canada!

This is supposed to indicate that I had seen You Can Count on Me at 7:10 pm at the Fifth Avenue Theatre on December 6, 2000, paying the member’s price of $8.00 (which took me by surprise). The ticket printer was not working, which was one of a few problems today, of an electrical nature. As for the film itself, it was not bad, yet wasn’t one of the greatest films I had seen this year. A story of a stay-at-home daughter reunited with her wandering brother was quaint, yet showing how their parents died in a car crash eighteen years ago is puzzling. It lends little to the story, apart from imagining how this event affected the lives of the siblings, and it would have been more intriguing to discover the accident as the movie progressed. But there it is in the first few seconds of the film, then it makes itself out to be a film about spiritual growth, or awakening, only to have the assumedly reliable priest act dumbfounded when approached with a moral dilemma. It is almost as if this film is a kitchen sink drama which seems to have answers to life’s question, and then bluntly tells you that it doesn’t.

I have mentioned this elsewhere, and I’ll write it again: my critical assessment of any form of art is based on Hamlet’s line “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Here with this film, many in the theatre thought that this was a good film, for I could hear them gasping with admiration each time the director (repeatedly) showed his drug-taking sequence of bubbling heroine, dilating pupils and ejecting syringes; and how popping diet pills and watching television were also like taking drugs. Many would say, and I have heard a few, that both this film and Darren Aronofsky are good, yet thinking about it myself, I wasn’t too impressed. Repetitive, noisy and obvious, it says the simple message, that addictions can mess up your life, four times. Yet I liked the film Pi when it came out, and this is pretty much the same film. It’s only because of a conversation I had with someone who hated Pi that may have got me thinking differently about that film, and made me want to walk out mid-film with this one.

Many people are impressed with this film, and perhaps many of these people have not seen many Chinese martial arts movies. Neither have I, but I know enough about them that people flying over rooftops of having a mystical, Zen-like connection with their weapon is nothing new. What this film presents is a tidied up version of stunt people hanging off wires and skirmishes with unbelievable moves. To me this amounts to big budget special effects. What else does this movie have to offer? A complex story, which borders on confusing, since it is hard to determine if my take on the story is what the director intended of if I’m completely off-track. Here’s what I think: this warrior Li Mu once had that mystical, Zen-like connection with a sword called the Green Destiny, yet at the start of the film he gives it away, lost interest in it, and is more concerned wth the damage he has done with it. To the film’s credit, this is a breakaway from a convention of these epic Chinese films. Then again, maybe it isn’t all that novel; yet if this was the case, it creates a problem since the film is kind of a whodunnit, with everyone searching for this stolen sword that the original owner no longer has use for. There’s something in Jen’s flashback to the desert, which was way too long and threw the storyline for a loop, where the young princess goes to extreme lengths to retrieve her comb, which when given back to her as a love-token finally in the present, it suddenly becomes unimportant, as well as th rogue who returned it. Jen is the one who stole the Green Destiny, and uses it without having a true Zen-like connection. She requires training, which Li Mu is willing to offer for some reason. This gets us to the third missing item which turns out to be not as important as it is made out to be, the Wudan training manual, Stolen by Jen’s care-taker, aka the Jade Fox. She took it, but was unable to fully understand it, whereas Jen could, but must have missed all of the chapters on good conduct. And this is why the impetuous Jen stll needs training. And all the while we are to believe Li Mu’s unrequited, or rather unregistered, love for his buddy’s (who is long dead and only mentioned a few times in the film) fiancée. Was this burning desire surpressed by an unnatural, quite frankly irrational, duty to his pal’s memory. Li Mu only announces his love literally with his last breath – what would Juliet say? : “How art thou out of breath when thou hast breath to say to me that thou art out of breath?” – such a scene may have had many people reaching for their hankies, and I can imagine one in particular who would, but it had me puzzled. What does this love story have to do with director Ang Lee’s discourse on the culture and tradition attached to unimportant items like swords, combs and manuals? I’m sure someone has an answer, if they would only stop going on about the visual effects.

The title for this film is Pay It Forward, as opposed to Play It Forward, some sports movie I would have had the pleasure to avoid. It is appropriate that the movie stub is incomplete, as I did not see the entire ilm, arriving five minutes into the movie. I assume what happened as the title was shown was as follows: a man down on his luck, perhaps just had a fight with his girlfriend, drives his car in the rain, it gets totalled. Another man appears and offers to give him a fancy new car. All that the other man asks for is that the poor wretch pays it forward instead of paying it back. What does he mean pay it forward? Up comes the title, followed by Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, etc., as we flashback to the first day of school for the young lad who came up with the concept. I’d like to write more of the performances, directing, or use of locations, but this would distract me from what I’d like to write about, the underlying question of the film, is such a concept able to happen in reality? The film shows it working wonders for those in dire need, who need to improve but are always failing, and who need a leg up. But this then suggests everybody in the world is in this same state, needing to be rescued. Perhaps this is true and the world is as the characters refer to it scatologically – and it’s surprising how many foul words are heard when Mr. Simonet is so fussy about expanding one’s vocabulary – the film would have received extra credit, a star or two on the paper, if it had shown people reluctant to believe that anything is wrong with their way of life. Or maybe even some cynical reaction to a twelve-year old becoming a martyr while his mother is sleeping with the teacher who inspired him too go out and change the world. I believe that altruism does exist in some people, and that such a scheme could make the world a better place, yet this film, unfortunately, will not start such a revolutionary movement, partially because people stayed away from this movie in droves, but more to do with those who did see this movie would never want to pay a favour forward, for whatever reason they choose not to. I believe that they would not take such an unpleasant view of the state of the world, and for those that do, there is always some other movie they can go and see to take their minds off these troubles.

This film is kind of a mixture of Dr. T and the Women with Sleepless in Seattle – a film cluttered with female stereotypes as well as a bumbling love story. It was also the complete opposite of Pay It Forward in that no one in What Women Want has an overbearing depression of the world’s woes except for an office temp who is treated as a running gag. Everyone else is upwardly mobile in the phoney world of advertising. Ads are what sold this film to me, since the gags looked funny in the trailers, and in the theatre all of the couples (easy to identify) were having a blast seeing Mel Gibson crossdress or admit that he is gay. Perhaps because I did not have an attractive lady by my side, I was not in the same giggly mood. But plain and simple, this was not the kind of film I wanted, or believed that I was going, to see.

A very refreshing change for Disney Animation Studios. Much has been written about the absence of Celine Dion-type ballads usual to Disney’s summer fluff. What impressed me was the toning down of pop-culture references, such as Aladdin’s Genie doing out of place impersonations of Ed Sullivan and the like. Great work between David Spade and John Goodman, as well as their foils Eartha Kitt and lunkheaded Patrick Warburton, who make each pair play off each other with excellent comic timing, that would make one suspect much of the dialogue was improvised. Whatever possessed whoever at Disney to scrap a gaggle of Sting’s ballads and scoop out the kid-friendly, Sesame Street-wise dialogue out of the script was a very fortunate move (for whoever at Disney). For that person helped make the Emperor’s New Groove a genuinely entertaining movie.

An incredibly well put together movie. Not only was the choreography wonderful in showing different stages of young Billy’s dance career, but also the editing of scenes, where three or four scenes are going on at once, but each one complements the other. For instance Billy practices dance moves at home intercut with in front of a dance instructor, father and son conflicting with strike-busting police officers, and granny reliving her ballet dreams. This was one sequence, one of the many which made this film such a pleasure to watch. The unrequited love of Billy’s mate was handled openly and gentle, rather than played for laughs. And the scene where al hope is lost for Billy becomes an energetic dance sequence, which when you come to near the end of the film, you can feel what Billy meant when he describes his feeling for dance as “electricity.”

Here’s my admiration for a film based on a popular cartoon which has never really been much of a Christmas classic to me. I’m writing this almost in defiance to the usual complaint against big budget film such as this one: “Hollywood has taken something sacred and ruined it.” first of all, is a half-hour cartoon something that’s sacred, and if it is, didn’t that cartoon originate in Hollywood, too? So in the midst of armchair critics grumbling, I’d have to say that this film is enjoyable. Jim Carrey is wold and crazy, yet is toned down from the disgustingly juvenile as seen in any of his Farrely Bros films. It was a pleasure to see him as a prankster hermit, who is almost accepted into the consumer-crazed culture of Whoville, gets rejected and seeks revenge by stealing Christmas. Perhaps the screenwriters got hold of a couple of pages from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for ambiguities cropped up sucj as the Grinch setting fire to the town squarre Christmas tree, a sign that Christmas is ruined for everyone, only to have him witness the Whos replacing it with a spare tree they were lucky to have, or a moment, which comes after the Grinch’s heart reverts to a more humane size, where the Grinch is trying to prevent his sleigh of stolen Christmas goodies from ending up in the junkyard. At one point he says “oh well, they are only presents.” He only saves them when he realizes that Cindy-Lou Who might also be thrown over the cliff edge. It may seem like a cop-out, but it is also probably the only way for the director to justify his anti-materialism in the film, yet still provide the Grinch returns the presents ending that the fans of the cartoon are expecting to see. And of course there are marketing tie-ins to the film – plush toys and McDonald’s kid’s meals. I don’t think that the movie is trying to exorcize the commercialism spirit out of Christmas, but rather showing how it eventually must be accepted as part of the holidays. And I’m sure this film has increased sales of the cartoon on video – who knows, it may have even encouraged someone to buy Dr. Seuss’ book.

Here is another movie which just left me confused as to what the director is trying to say. First you have a successful businessman who is competent, hard-working, and not wanting when it comes to the ladies. Then you have a situation at a grocery store, highly unbelievable, where a gangsta-type guardian angel threatens Jack’s life, then grants him a wish he didn’t ask for, out of spite. After that Jack is trapped in the middle-class suburbs, wife, two kids, dig, mini-van, etc. And he is upset for most of the film – understandably so. He made the choice between staying with the love of his life 13 years ago, or going to London to further his career, and by my account there is no evidence that his original choice was wrong. If the director had first shown Jack wasting away in a lonely depression, maybe the stark changeover could be justified by Jack becoming a happier person. But he’s not through most of the film, only near the end does he finally appreciate what he has, only to have it all taken away again by the same angel, who appears this time as a store clerk in a seemingly clever twist. It would be nice to think that there was more to this story that would have been scrapped by a nervous producer, or that production was rushed in order to get this supposed Christmas morality tale out in time for Christmas – who knows.

Ah, Mamet’s take on the film industry. The one thing you can be certain of when David Mamet writes and directs a movie (asides from his wife Rebecca being cast in a lead role) is that there will be cutting remarks about anything that has traditional or sentimental value. It is not as if her characters are self-absorbed monsters battling one another, but rather people with very particulars goals who collide with others who often have opposing goals. So when a film production rolls into a sleepy New England town, it does exactly that, rolls over any obstacle. Steering this destructive ball is the director, played by William H. Macy, who must be openly parodying Mamet or some other hard-edged director. He is at the centre of the sphere, and knows how to keep all surrounding spheres in tune, usually by placating. It is, however, the writer that is the protagonist He, and is perhaps Mamet reflecting on his more innocent days as a playwright. He is the one who solves most of the film crew’s problems, such as finding a new metaphor for the original title “The Old Mill” when he finds out the town’s mill was burnt down, and the one the crew had constructed had to be abandoned in the last location (it was left as collateral when the crew had to disappear from the previous town for a never-clearly-defined reason). While it takes the writer all his talent and craft to work around this and other problems (like how to do a nude scene when the lead actress refuses to show her breasts), but in the end, it is a briefcase full of money that saves the day – a film production’s best weapon against any troublemaker who gets in the way, and I’ve seen this tactic used a few times on location. To back up a bit, the subject of nudity, one you would not expect Mamet to shy away from seeing as it is the most obvious form of exploitation, is dealt with gingerly here. Sarah Jessica Parker plays “the broad” who won’t take off her shirt. If anyone has watched her on Sex in the City, and who hasn’t, one would know she is the last person to show off so much skin, so it may seem like Mamet’s teasing the audience. And yet it is Parker who teases by being seemingly nude when seducing the writer (the scene must have been designed by a Benny Hill fan). Next we have a crew member, named Girl P.A. in the credits, being told to take off her no-longer funny t-shirt, which she does without a moment’s thought. A subtle point about exploitation that goes on behind the scenes, to contrast with the broad’s hypocritical dilemma? Or a sly set-up for Mamet’s audience? other than this and other perplexing threads in the film, it is genuinely amusing, especially when Mamet’s parody of a film crew interact with his parody of rural life.

A few years ago, this would have been the type of film Annick, my sister and I would go see, then talk about how more films should be made like this. Now I would say that a film such as this has been made too many times, and there is not much appealing in this copy of Cinema Paradiso or Mediterraneo. The director attempts to evoke a magical time (it’s 1959, geez) and fills his or her story with quaint people living in a pastoral wonderland. Here they show such traits as falling asleep in a church service, proper old gents pining away in secret for long-time widows, and adorable kids playing with hoops and sticks in the street. Yet in are thrown such modern day sensibilities as one woman’s stand against mass repression of desires, another woman’s attempt to live the life she wants, regardless of the consequences, a beaten wife getting rid of her abusive husband and getting on with her life – yes, this film is the epitome of a chick flick, all that is missing is that lesbians are people too. Juliette Binoche, Dame Judy Dench, and Lena Olin play the trinity of empowered women mentioned above, with the addition of Alfred Molina and Johnny Depp, one gets the sense that this film is nothing more than a Miramax pet project, a star vehicle for the production company’s list of second string performers, those who will win hands down a best supporting actress or actor, but not a lead role. This is not to suggest that any of them could not produce an Oscar-winning performance, it’s just not when they are given roles such as these. Perhaps the root of this problem is that the roles don’y offer the actors much to play with, or even enough conflict. Sure these three women are breaking through boundaries of an uptight, moral norm, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t, so therefore no conflict or resistance when they go on their own way. They might have obstacles to overcome, such as a scheming mayor, a thankless daughter, or a drunken lout of a husband – these end up being stock characters so in nee of a change that there is no doubt that the righteous women will prevail. It’s old world charm meets new age thinking, and the two don’t mix as well as some people would think. One last comment, a telltale sign that the film is attempting to be both quaint and trendy: those adorable little children, all speaking English throughout, attempt an accent by saying things like maman and papa instead of mom and dad. I kind of had that feeling in my gut as to what sort of film this would turn out to be as soon as I heard this uttered from the little starlet’s mouth.

You would think that a movie all about the Marqui de Sade would have been slightly more gut-wrenching to watch, but instead it was more about the quest for an artist to express himself, by whatever unsavoury means necessary. As a twist on expectations, it is the other characters in the film that are the more savage, or ruled by their fetishes. It would have perhaps added more to the film if the emperor Napoleon had more to do in the film – there is one psyche that should undergo a thorough examination. Instead we have the washer woman, the abbé and the scientist all set on a collision course around our poor sadist Sade. The sexual banter and double entendres between he and either the washer of the abbé add sparks to the dialogue. One would at first assume these innocents are in danger. Yet it is revealed how not-so innocent they are, perhaps to each other through a shared exposure to de Sade. And he is the one who appears to only want to write his novels and plays, but instead of using his writing to expose, shed some light on the darker, hypocritical side of one’s personality – again I wish we got to see him take a jab or two at Napoleon and of course the delicious irony of Micheal Caine’s doctor publishing de Sade’s work out of the same asylum he had so wickedly punished him in and ruined each other’s character’s life is perhaps the most sadistic turn of events at all.

One would be led to expect that this film is Gus van Sant’s attempt to pick up from where he left off with Good Will Hunting. Many have seen him as going off the deep end with his remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. Here is an intellect from the wrong side of the tracks, having his true talents brought out by an inspirational father-figure, there’s even a cameo by Good Will himself. I would rather like to think of Gus improving on the former film by making the characters and situations more down to earth and real. A black kid in the Bronx who is a great basketball player and an even greater writer is not so hard to imagine. An older, reclusive man (Scottish, no less) often seen taking a swig out of something in a bottle isn’t a belligerent alcoholic battling his demon, hands shaking with the telltale sign. Instead both Jamal Wallace and William Forrester are believable people dealing with issues that may seem extraordinary, but are handled honestly. What also is interesting is the reserve of the film, all about writers writing, not to make such a big deal about what is written (we hardly know what the fictional Forrester’s one and only novel, Avalon Landing, is about – and don’t need to know what makes it so great, only that it is great) but instead why these writers write, and a bit of how as well. The often-heard inspirational phrase “don’t think, write” resounded for me in the film, for that is exactly what I need to do. And will continue in Book Two of Projection.

Published by Dr Stooshnov

Educational Technology Researcher Instructor of Literacy Education & Emerging Media

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