Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Man on Wire

This movie came recommended by my friend Dave Bourgeois.

Awesome film! A documentary in the Errol Morris style; it managed to keep me in suspense until the end, even though I already knew how it ended.  Also, it had some extra emotional impact because the WTC played such a central role.


Taken is a revenge movie.  The hero’s daughter is kidnapped while on a trip to Paris.  The rest of the movie is the story of him killing and maiming his way through the echelons of the kidnapping ring to rescue her.  This movie was pretty dark and made a bit more disturbing by the fact that I am going to have a daughter soon… a daughter who will now never visit Paris alone, as I simply don’t have the skills required to protect her.

By “pretty dark” what I mean is that the main character basically acts like a psychopath.  He kills or at least hurts nearly everyone he meets.  Of course, the movie sets things up so that we cheer his actions; without the intro this would be a sickening story about a deranged thrill killer.  The setup worked very well.  Too well, in fact: I thought the end of the movie came too soon, and I wanted to watch Liam Neeson kill more people.  My walk home was marked by violent fantasies of justified revenge.

These revenge stories are powerful and popular, because they play on our fairness, a major value.  I think this explains the popularity of police shows, too… we like to see evildoers get their just desserts.

The filmmaking here is pretty basic.  There were a couple of weirdly delivered lines, and Neeson’s phone call with the kidnappers follows Sidney Lumet’s advice to always go with the emotional truth and not the literal truth: which is a fancy way of saying that the call made no sense.  The action is nonstop, though.  For once I thought the trailers were very accurate: if you like what you see in the trailers you will not be disappointed by the film.

In the end I am not sure whether I liked this or not.  It pushed my emotions around, but perhaps a bit too hard, and only in one direction.  Still, it was decent for what it was, a hyper-violent story of single-minded revenge.


Elyn got me this DVD for Christmas.  Aside from being a “spaghetti eastern” (har, har), it is a lovely meditation on the universal act of eating.

This is such an unusual film that I’ve been thinking a bit about what attracts me to it.  I like the joy and the quietness of it — I like happy endings and mundane, as opposed to extreme, conflict.  Also, I enjoy how very foreign it seems… I know zilch about Japan, and for all I know a truck-driving cowboy is some kind of icon there — but here he just seems bizarre.  And, I like the film’s digressions from the main story, which are entertaining but not excessively distracting.

This is a must-see.

Quantum of Solace

I don’t care what the critics say.  This was a solid action film that dispensed with most of the stuff I hate about Bond — the dumb lines, the invisible cars, the 50s concept of suave.  The plot was a bit undeveloped, but I managed to turn that into a plus by telling myself that confusion is probably the order of the day in real life intelligence work.  Also, so are exploding hotels.

I liked this better than the immediately previous Bond, too, primarily because nobody drowned on screen.  Stabbings, shootings, blunt trauma, explosions — all ok, as long as there is no drowning.

Get Smart, Indiana Jones

The X Files: Indiana Jones started off badly. I blinked during the first scene and missed Indy’s dismal entrance; the acting and even the set in this scene was terrible; the magical physics where a wooden box makes an enormous difference in a magnetic field were annoying; and who thought of this crazy crossover anyway? Where’s Mulder? I remember thinking to myself: “uh oh. You already paid for this”.

I told Elyn the plot line during one of our runs and she thought I was making it all up. Particularly the part about the refrigerator. A new meaning to nuclear winter, har har. Cough cough.

On the plus side, I got to practice saying “evil Russian doctor” a lot using my phony Ukranian accent. This is surprisingly hard. And fun.

I eventually did find this film entertaining enough. It got better, until the climactic scene, which was a big WTF for me. Let me get this straight… they want to give us a gift, but they don’t care if it melts our brains and sucks us into another dimension, and their gift is knowledge, but then they vanish in a boulder storm. Ok! We’ll write you a thank you note!

I think that, like Indy #2 and the latter two thirds of the Matrix, I will just have to pretend this out of the canon. It makes me a little sad.

Get Smart is also a retread.

In general I hate how old TV shows are turned into movies. I’d rather filmmaking dollars be spent on things I will enjoy, like Showgirls 2: The Revenge. Dear economists: please get to work on a theory for how the market can deliver the absence of a product. Yours truly, moviegoers.

Defying the general theory, this movie was not bad. I like Steve Carell, America’s everyman, and Dwayne Johnson, the newly renamed The Rock. Some of the action scenes in this were fun — better than a few pure action movies I could name. If you made me. Fans of the show might be a bit disappointed; the new Smart is a lot smarter than the old Smart.

Anyhow, it was a sweet, light soy sauce. I mean movie. Nice relief for a stressful day at work.


I’ve heard good things about this film over the years. It was even better than I had heard — funny, and also moving. I recommend it highly.

Lars and the Real Girl

Usually a movie with just one joke gets old halfway through. Not so with Lars — this was a sweet, quiet, funny movie that I enjoyed thoroughly. I recommend it.

Vantage Point

This was a decent action movie, though not one I would see a second time. I suppose that puts it in the second or maybe third tier. It is film with a gimmick — it rewinds and shows the action, again, from someone else’s viewpoint. Sometimes these gimmicks are irritating, though this one didn’t bother me so much. There are a number of twists, which is fun. Plus, Forest Whittaker is in it, and I really like him.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

We had read a lukewarm review of this on imdb, but we went anyway — and loved it. The plot is a bit thin, perhaps, but the movie has a sweet heart, the cast is good, and the sets and costumes are fantastic.

Charlie Bartlett

We went to an early screening (theater release Feb 22) of Charlie Bartlett last night. It was part of BIFF, playing at the Boulder Theater.

This is a pretty good teen film — funny without being a comedy. It meandered at times but I enjoyed it quite a bit. The actors are very good.

Afterward the director held a Q&A on stage. This was interesting, and even inspiring. He mentioned that this script had been in development since at least 1985, and was voted as one of the best scripts not likely to be made. He also talked about his process of choosing a script (he read over 100), his filmmaking, and his move from editing to directing… he made a good enough impression that it made me want to push his film a bit. So, go see it.