Thursday, August 05, 2004

New Music, Book and Film Quickie Reviews

Due to the wonders of grandparental babysitters, libraries and a few extra dollars I have had the opportunity to see some movies, read some books and listen to some new music lately. Here is a quick synopsis of movies first. I may get around to videos sometime.

The Village- M. Night Shyamalan's newest twisty thriller bears much more in common with the underrated Unbreakable than Signs or Sixth Sense. It is not as scary as the previews lead you to believe and Kristi and I guessed some of the plot twists early (but, to my credit I figured out the Sixth Sense during the dinner scene). In other words, it is not a great film. However, it is a fun ride and Ron Howard's daughter lives up to all the hype. William Hurt is in top form and Sigourney Weaver is underused (why get an actress of that quality and use her in a role anyone could do). As you may have heard, the film is one long metaphor on community and security. I do trust Shymalan to mess with me and found myself thinking about the plot and characters the next day (always a good sign).

The Manchurian Candidate- First of all a disclaimer my friends all know... The original (from 1962 and starring Frank Sinatra) is one of my Top 10 all time favorites (I have seen it at least 6 times). I was wary until the reviews began to come out. All of them have been favorable (most have said it is among the best of the year).
I could not judge it properly. I am too close to the original. However, if you have never seen the 1962 classic, I think this movie will blow you away. Although it is not as funny as the original and does not ask universal questions like the first, it is very well acted and the homages to the original (i.e. the train scene, the names of characters, etc.) are fun. Denzel is top-shelf and shows a vulnerability I have not seen in him before. Liev Schreiber is also excellent (though I like Lawrence Harvey in the original), but Meryl Streep pales when compared to Angela Lansbury (one of the great film villains of all time). The twists, although different than the original, are close enough to make it slightly predictable to those familiar with the story line. Fun movie and I like the digs at Halliburton.

The Bourne Supremacy was everything I expected. I must admit that, although the reviews were mixed, I loved the Bourne Identity. I have a thing for complex spy thrillers (no longer a James Bond fan and refuse to see XXX, sorry). The car chase is on par with the French Connection and Ronin, as well as the first Bourne. It is profoundly sad for such a spy flick yet still fun to watch. I highly recommend this film. Plus, Matt Damon is one of my favorite actors.

Spiderman 2 has been reviewed to death and everyone loved it. However, I must mention a couple of things. Alfred Molina will go down in history as one of the great villains in comic movies, alongside Gene Hackman and Terrance Stamp from the Superman films and Ian McKellen from X-Men. By the way, Jack was a horrible Joker, DeVito stunk up the place as the penguin and Defoe was weak as the Goblin. Also, the fight scene on the train is among the best action sequences I have ever witnessed on a big screen (it was an honor to see it). By the way, Hellboy was a good summer movie and the Punisher was better when Dolph played him.

I am interested in I, Robot, but will watch it on video and want to see Collateral because I enjoy Michael Mann. I must admit I am tempted by Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. I am also interested in The Door in the Floor if only because it stars the greatest American actor of the past 20 years, Jeff Bridges (take your Jack, Dustin, Pacino, De Niro and Hanks, I take Bridges). My archives include reviews of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Supersize Me.

Tomorrow... music.


Anonymous said...


I was wondering about what you thought about some of the shooting/editing techniques of the fight scenes and car chase scenes in Bourne Supremacy. The fight scene in the apartment w/the other former assassin was very difficult to follow as well as the tunnel segment during the car chase. All the herky-jerky (how do you spell that anyway?) camera work and the flashing of different camera angles at a high rate of speed was not pleasant to watch. I understand the "artistic" implications, but it seemed a little too much (remember, less is more sometimes). It could be that I personally just don't like watching that type of camera work. Any thougts/opinions? Michael of TN

james said...

I most certainly agree with you on "The Village." Not his best work, but worth seeing. And like you, I had it figured out and was left thinking about it the next day. The more I think about it the more i like it. I think one of its problems was his choice of an editor, though. Bad edits throughout, which lent itself to a difficult establishment of the characters and the community in which they lived. What could have been worse was the original casting calling for Ashton Kutcher as "Noah Percy". Adrien Brody's role? Potential catastrophe averted!