December 31, 2004

The Aviator

Well told story of a tragic life. Hughes's mental illnesses drove him to overachieve. At the same time, he was barely socially high-functioning. All this guy needed was a doctor and some Paxil, in an age where obsessive / compulsive, borderline schizophrenia is called "eccentric". Scorsese makes us feel as paranoid and trapped as Hughes did. Really good performances from DiCaprio and Blanchett, fantastic cinematography, editing, hair, makeup, and incidental music.
Church St, Harvard Square
Related: Playing Louis B. Mayer In The Movies

2004 Year-End Wrap-Up

My Best Of 2004: The Incredibles, Sideways, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban, and The Aviator.

December 20, 2004

101: Chicks Rawk (aka Womyn In Music)

CHICKS RAWK was composed as a Christmas present for my sister-in-law Sara. It's all women, obviously. My wife offered some guidance of the artist and track selection.
After I gave a copy to Sara, I created cover art for the collection. The cover is the only photo of Madonna I could find online from her video for "Open Your Heart". My 14-year-old self was already deeply in lust for Madonna when that video came out in 1986, and her gold-nippled costume didn't cool things off any.

  1. Sinead O'Connor "The Emperor's New Clothes"
  2. The Breeders "Divine Hammer"
  3. Go-Gos "Head Over Heels"
  4. Liz Phair "Why Can't I?"
  5. Sheryl Crow "Hard To Make A Stand" (my wife loves this song- I had never heard it before)
  6. Garbage "Stupid Girl"
  7. No Doubt "Hey Baby"
  8. Cyndi Lauper "Girls Just Want To Have Fun"
  9. Madonna "Open Your Heart"
  10. Lucinda Williams "Right In Time"
  11. The Bangles "If She Knew What She Wants"
  12. The Cranberries "Empty"
  13. Aimee Mann "Save Me"
  14. Alison Krauss "Baby, Now That I've Found You"
  15. Bonnie Raitt "Fearless Love" (I thought I was the only person who liked this song, until I heard it in the movie Sideways.)
  16. k.d. lang "Constant Craving"
  17. The Pretenders "Don't Get Me Wrong"
  18. 10,000 Maniacs "Candy Everybody Wants"
  19. Indigo Girls "Peace Tonight" (18 & 19 go together because they both feature bands with newly-hired horn sections.)
  20. Suzanne Vega "Tombstone"

December 3, 2004

The Big Red One: The Restoration

thebigredoneOverly long and episodic, but soaked in the realism that only a real WWII veteran-turned-filmmaker (Samuel Fuller) can provide. A small budget goes a long way. Mark Hamill still can't act, but Lee Marvin is perfect, and Robert Carradine (Revenge Of The Nerds) is believable. (Brattle Theater)

December 2, 2004

The Life & Death of Peter Sellers

sellersPeter Sellers's life and (lack of) personality or character is very interesting. The performances are fantastic, led by a spot-on Geoffrey Rush. The director tried to be avant-garde, but only succeeded on occasion. (This was a free preview screening, in advance of the movie's debut on cable TV. Brattle Theater, Cambridge)

November 29, 2004

Murder By Death

mbdA thoroughly ridiculous and silly meta-murder mystery by Neil Simon. The five greatest fictional detectives are spoofed by an all-star cast. A very satisfying movie for people who find Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammett mysteries frustrating. I quote Lionel Twain:
"You've tricked and fooled your readers for years. You've tortured us all with surprise endings that made no sense. You've introduced characters in the last five pages that were never in the book before. You've withheld clues and information that made it impossible for us to guess who did it. But now, the tables are turned. Millions of angry mystery readers are now getting their revenge. When the world learns I've outsmarted you, they'll be selling your $1.95 books for twelve cents."
(Brattle Theater, Cambridge)

November 28, 2004

Sideways

sidewaysAlexander Payne's most mature film yet. Payne perfectly balances madcap, screwball silliness with real human interaction. Paul Giamatti plays Miles, a depressed struggling writer who takes his old college buddy Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a weeklong wine country trip the week before Jack's wedding. Jack is a conscience-free zone, and he plans to get his knob polished well and often before tying the knot. Jack recognizes that a little hokey-pokey would help Miles at lot more than Zanax, but is Miles too deep in his own tailspin to get laid? (Landmark Embassy Cinema, Waltham)

November 25, 2004

Finding Neverland

neverlandThis year's Thanksgiving movie at Jersey Gardens, Elizabeth, NJ was a delightful movie about family, imagination, and inspiration. J.M. Barrie (Depp) finds the inspiration for his masterpiece Peter Pan by immersing himself in the imaginations of four brothers and their widowed mother (Kate Winslet). Finding Neverland also restores the respectable reputation of Barrie's play from the juvenile clutches of Walt Disney's slapstick cartoon. After the debut performance of Peter Pan, an elderly patron points out to Barrie that the crocodile with the alarm clock is a symbol of time chasing each of us, i.e., mortality. This is the kind of mature, adult symbolism that Walt ignored in favor of a silly chase sequence.

November 19, 2004

Kinsey

A well-crafted biopic, with solid performances from Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, and Peter Sarsgaard. It's a pleasure to watch a movie based on real people who hold such radical opinions about sex at such a repressed time in American history. The story avoids all the boring pitfalls of biographic movies. Reminded me of all I disliked about another biopic about a scientific genius, A Beautiful Mind. (West Newton Cinema)

November 7, 2004

Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow

skyA perfectly crafted tribute to Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon serials, but Sky Captain does not work as its own movie. The characters are too two dimensional and the dialog is too wooden. The plot stumbles to a conclusion. (Somerville Theater)

November 5, 2004

The Incredibles

incrediblesA wonderfully funny, exciting, and inventive film. Great for parents and kids too.

When the superheroes of the world are forced into retirement by a litigious public, Mr. Incredible and his wife, Elastigirl, raise a family in anonymous suburbia. Elastigirl hangs up the super-stretchy costume easily- she's content to leave her crime-fighting days behind her, but Mr. Incredible is stifled as a desk jockey. They very cleverly use his past exploits as a superhero as a metaphor for bachelorhood, and the constraints of life as a civilian for married life: Elastigirl begins to suspect her husband is having a extra-marital love affair, but he's not- he's actually fighting crime on the side without telling his wife. He's soon trapped by a former stalker-turned archenemy Syndrome. This forces the whole family to use their superpowers together to save Dad and save their city from certain destruction.

The Incredibles pays tribute to the history of superheroes without directly referencing any of them. They showcase a world full of superheroes in a expansive way which a live-action movie has never done. I have pointed out in the past that Pixar movies tend to focus on the types of characters which are easy to render with CGI (plastic toys, bugs, fish, cars, monsters). The Incredibles is mostly actual people, and they are very well done, if not lifelike. They spent a lot of time getting the hair perfect, maybe a little too perfect in relation to the relatively simple faces and skin. Of course, the main characters are in skintight costumes most of the time, so that makes the animation easier too. However, what's smart about choosing to make a CGI superhero movie is the verisimilitude of their super-heroics: It may take tons of wires and CGI to make Christopher Reeve or Brandon Routh fly, but Mr. Incredible is already CGI, so making him CGI off the ground adds zero effort.

The action sequences in the second half are a classic showcase of how superheroes can join forces and exploit each other's strengths to fight their adversaries, in a way which other superhero movies-- the X-Men trilogy, for example --do much less effectively. Why Disney is incapable of making movies like this is beyond me. (Landmark Embassy Cinema, Waltham)

October 31, 2004

99: Afternoon Delight

Assembled shortly after the Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series:
  1. Let's Get It Started - The Black Eyed Peas (this song was used in one of the many montages of baseball excitement on TV.)
  2. Staring At The Sun - Simple Kid
  3. Life Less Ordinary - Carbon Leaf (Worst band name ever. The song is good- they sounds like Mr Mister for the 21st century.)
  4. Old Days - Chicago (from the Starsky & Hutch movie soundtrack.)
  5. IGY (International Geophysical Year) - Donald Fagen (I see Donald Fagen's The Nightfly album in yard sales and used record bins all the time!)
  6. Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra (from the theatrical trailer for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.)
  7. Ride - The Kleptones
  8. Float On - Modest Mouse
  9. The Spirit Of Radio - Rush
  10. Gimme All Your Lovin - ZZ Top
  11. Love Song - 311 (An inventive cover of the Cure song)
  12. Sleepwalker- The Wallflowers
  13. Look What You've Done - Jet
  14. History Repeating - The Propellerheads featuring Shirley Bassey
  15. Afternoon Delight - Will Ferrell & The Channel 4 News Team (I love the scene in the movie where they spontaneously sing this song a capella!)
  16. The Waiting - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (also used in Red Sox montages.)

October 21, 2004

Team America: World Police: Guys Movie Night

teamTremendously silly, sophomoric spoof of Jerry Bruckheimer films (Top Gun and Pearl Harbor especially) which also slings a few barbs at overinflated Hollywood liberals. The central conceit of the movie is that puppets on strings act just as well as the casts of bad Hollywood action movies. On the political front, it's easy to be distracted from the political 'satire' by all the sex, poop, and vomit jokes. (Loews Church Street, Harvard Square)

October 17, 2004

I ♥ Huckabees

huckabeesAn existential screwball comedy. Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Naomi Watts, and Mark Wahlberg all face existential crises while being stirred together by 'existential detectives' Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin. The film's core of essential desperation is diluted by madcap improvisation and more carnival music by Jon Brion. Huckabees may bear too close a resemblance to Magnolia specifically, and the films of P.T. Anderson in general, mainly thanks to the music of Brion and the "we're all connected? there are no coincidences? midlife crises" theme of the film. (West Newton Cinema)

September 20, 2004

Raiders Of The Lost Ark & The Raiders Adaptation

raidersA once-in-a-lifetime double-feature: Raiders Of The Lost Ark, followed by the Raiders Adaptation, the ultimate fan tribute! Three kids in Mississippi, with nothing to do, recreated Raiders shot by shot, armed with nothing more than a camcorder and a obsessive ambition. With a little help from their friends, they cobbled together the entire film, with scrawny teenagers playing all the parts, with a loving eye for detail. Every line is delivered straight, with no snickering or looking at the camera. The full house at Coolidge Corner cheered every step of the way, admiring how these kids loved every detail of the movie we ourselves loved. Here's more on the making of the movie from Peter and Emily:

Eric Zala (who played Belloq) having a plaster cast of his face made for the final "exploding Nazi head" sequence. They used the wrong kind of plaster, the kind with a heating agent mixed in, so his face was burning, and then they couldn't get it off because his eyebrows and eyelashes (!) were caught in the plaster! They tried a hacksaw and a hammer and chisel (!!!!) before finally calling 911 and going to the hospital -- oh, and letting Mom know what was up. Unreal! This same kid also played the Ratty Nepalese, the guy whose back is on fire in the Nepal pub scene, and he got singed in that, and the production nearly got shut down completely due to lack of fire safety! Also, Nat asked about how they got all the dialogue so correct, and get this -- when they started out there was no VHS or laserdisc available, so they wrote it all out from memory! In the car on the way home, we were most amazed at how these kids stuck with this project for so long, and with such (relatively) high-quality results...everybody might have played "Indiana Jones" back then in the yard, but only for a day or two, not 7 years!

The submarine, by the way, was used by the kids after Chris (Indiana Jones) spent 3 years talking to the guy who owned a WWII submarine moored in Mobile Bay in Alabama and convinced him to allow them to shoot there, much to the bemusement of the local tourists.

September 18, 2004

Hero

heroThe theme of the film is 'Why We Fight'. One story is told three times, each time told with the same actions but different motivations: Love, Revenge, Honor, and so on. There are some beautiful moments and some Crouching Tiger-quality action sequences. Jet Li's character is a bit of a 2-dimensional enigma, however. The upper-middle-class, middle-aged, higher-education audience at the West Newton Cinema talked in spots throughout the film. The super-entitled crowd had to be shushed several times by your e'er vigilant moviegoer. Do these people think they are at home on the sofa, or do they think the whole world revolves around them?

September 8, 2004

Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut

I first saw Donnie Darko on DVD maybe a year ago. This Director's Cut re-integrates the Deleted Scenes I saw on the DVD Special Features, so there were no surprises, just a more fleshed-out film. I still find Donnie's sleepwalking encounters with Frank very scary, but the whole movie felt more pretentious this time around.
It's funny- Donnie Darko was not a success in theaters, but has gained a cult following on DVD. That means more people have seen the DVD (and have had the opportunity to see the Deleted Scenes) than only saw the original theatrical run. Usually people who watch a Director's Cut are seeing some footage for the first time, but I'm guessing the majority of viewers at the Brattle had already seen the extra scenes on the DVD. Way back in the early nineties, when Blade Runner was released as a Director's Cut, it had been released on laserdisc but I don't think the Director's Cut was released on VHS? I'm not sure.

September 4, 2004

98: The First iTunes Mix

I think the title is pretty self-explanatory. Songs I bought on iTunes are in Bold:
  1. The Bar-Kays - Soul Finger (as heard in the 1980s comedy Spies Like Us)
  2. The Pointer Sisters - Automatic
  3. Philip Bailey & Phil Collins - Easy Lover (I always loved singing along with the harmonies in this song, but it only appeared on Philip Bailey's solo LP, and I wasn't about to buy a whole album for this one track. Long-story-short: this song is what 99c downloads were meant for!
  4. Hall & Oates - Private Eyes
  5. The Doobie Brothers - What a Fool Believes
  6. Prince - When You Were Mine (later covered by Cyndi Lauper)
  7. Wilco - I'm A Wheel
  8. The Rolling Stones - Can't You Hear Me Knocking (Used to great effect in the movie Goodfellas.)
  9. Jet - Get What You Need (obviously owes a debt to #8 above)
  10. The Isley Brothers - This Old Heart of Mine (used to great effect in an episode of Moonlighting.)
  11. R.E.M. - Harborcoat
  12. Guster - Amsterdam (Live in Portland, ME December 2002)
  13. Paul McCartney & Wings - Call me Back Again
  14. Ray Charles - Half As Much
  15. Trey Anastasio - Alive Again
  16. Los Lobos - I Got Loaded (used in Bull Durham, when they turn on the field sprinklers and go on a drunken escapade.)
  17. Tommy McCook & The Skatalites - GOldfinger (a ska song about the movie)
  18. Crystal Waters - Come On Down (A dance track whose chorus is based on the closing credits theme to The Price Is Right TV show.)
  19. Laura Branigan - Gloria (a big hit single right around the time I started listening to music.)

August 7, 2004

The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

manchurianA dark and creepy thriller, with quality performances from top to bottom, a good script and intense direction from Jonathan Demme. Em predicts this will win Best Sound Editing at the Oscars- she was right about Master & Commander last year, after all... (AMC Fenway)

August 3, 2004

1980s Musicals Double Feature

An odd choice for a double feature! I find The Muppets Take Manhattan to be pretty tedious. The whole relationship between Kermit and the aspiring actress stuck in the dead-end waitress job is frankly kinda weird. The whole joke where Kermit gets amnesia and doesn't remember Miss Piggy is pretty funny, though.blues
While I had never seen The Blues Brothers on the big screen before, I have seen in on home video way too many times: I bought the movie on VHS around 1988, when a neighbor decided to get out of the in-house movie rental business: I bought The Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller from her. Brattle Theater, Cambridge)

July 30, 2004

The Village

villageMost summer films excite, scare, and thrill you every moment you're in the theater, blowing your mind with eye-exploding special effects (and dropping your jaw with the money spent on them). But it's all so meaningless, you forget what you saw by the time you get to the car. The Village has no special effects, no stunts, no sex, and no car chases, yet it's the most exciting and scary movie of the year. Would you prefer a Hollywood equivalent of a log flume ride, or a scary, thoughtful, gorgeous movie which you'll be talking about for weeks to come? (Landmark Embassy Cinema, Waltham)

July 18, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

fahrenheitOur current administration is ruthlessly attacked in this highly biased anti-Bush propaganda film. That's not a bad thing: Since the American press corps won't do it, filmmaker Michael Moore is forced to ask the hard questions and point out the lies, corruption, and fearmongering of Bush The Younger. (West Newton Cinema)

July 10, 2004

The Magnificent Ambersons and Citizen Kane

ambersonsAmbersons was quite good despite it's truncated third act. George acts so megalomaniacal, I felt a more appropriate title would be Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen. Emily pointed out that George was so bad at interacting with other people, we decided another title could be The Magnificent Aspergers. (Brattle Theater, Cambridge)

July 9, 2004

Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy

I laughed harder during this film than I have at the movies in a long time. Will Ferrell and the rest of the cast work very hard to make us laugh. They throw everything at us, including boorish sexism, a capella quartets, death by impaling, a grown man weeping over his dead dog, and, of course, jazz flute. (Showcase Cinemas Woburn)

July 3, 2004

Spider-Man 2

spiderman2Better than the first film. This sequel succeeds at making a superhero and his alter ego equally interesting. The first half of the film takes a long time to develop characters, at the expense of pacing. The action sequences, when they do arrive, are top-notch, and the CGI Spidey sequences are far superior to the 2002 effects. Tobey Maguire is letter-perfect as Peter Parker, Kirsten Dunst is reliable, and James Franco is steadily improving. It's good to see a superhero movie that's about something, with, ya know, themes and stuff. Hulk (which I saw on the adjacent screen at Fenway a year ago) tried to be meaningful but bored everyone instead. (AMC Fenway)

June 20, 2004

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

dodgeballBen Stiller once again takes a 3 minute skit from his decade-old Ben Stiller Show and extends it into a 92 minute comedy. His character, the fascist fitness instructor White Goodman, is funny for the first 15 minutes, but then Stiller is reduced to weak homoerotic gags and more of the 'dumb non-witty retorts' he did so well in Zoolander. The good news is, Vince Vaughn and the rest of the cast all have fun, and everybody loves watching people get hit in the head with stuff! (Showcase Cinemas Woburn)

June 16, 2004

Godzilla (1954)

This was the 50th Anniversary uncut Japanese version of the monster movie which started it all. It was fun to see the genesis of the biggest monster icon of all time. Great music, some lovingly rendered special effects, and not as campy as it could have been. (Brattle Theater, Cambridge)

June 6, 2004

Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban

After the Warner Brothers logo but before the main title appears, this movie opens with a quick and simple scene in Harry Potter's Privet Drive bedroom. It's late after bedtime, and Harry, eager to learn more magic before he even returns to Hogwarts, is under the covers reading his spellbooks by the light of his wand. To set the wand tip aglow for a few moments, he must speak the spell "Lumos!" Suddenly his Uncle Vernon, spotting a light on under Harry's door, bursts in to try and catch Harry awake after hours. But Harry has extinguished the wand ("Nox") and is playing asleep. Uncle Vernon leaves, and Harry continues to read by wand-light. At this point, the main title appeared, and I turned to Em and declared "This movie is already better than the first two Potter films put together!"azkaban
Our strategy for avoiding the overstuffed children's screenings, Em and I bought tickets for the 21-plus Framingham Premium Cinema. For a premium price, you get assigned advance seating, coat check service, FREE popcorn and soda (with free refills), and the best picture and sound in New England. In an "only at the Premium Cinema" moment, I was shuffling down our row to my seat when I dropped a tub of popcorn butter in the Merlot glass of my seat-neighbor. Obviously this spoils the bouquet! I quickly headed back to the bar and bought her another glass...

ALSO by Gary Oldman on STUB HUBBY:

June 5, 2004

The Triplets of Belleville

bellevilleDelightful, oddball, dialog-free, French, and animated. A fun and inconsequential movie. Makes me want to never ride a bicycle again! (Somerville Theater)

May 22, 2004

Shrek 2

shrek2Funny in spots, but dull bumps kill any comedy momentum they could have had. It picks up steam in the second half, but the first half is dull and slow. There's nothing for Donkey to do, and other characters (the Queen, Prince Charming) are flat. (I may have been influenced by a slightly blurry picture and no surround sound.) (Showcase Cinemas Woburn)

May 16, 2004

97: The California Mix

The Title: I made this mix for my wife, who was travelling to California for a wedding. I loaded the mix with California bands, or bands associated with California, anyways.
The Cover: I wanted to splice together very similar photos of Jakob Dylan and Dave Matthews from the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. But where to stitch them together? All of my surgical options ended up looking like Mr Potato Head crossed with Robert De Niro as Frankenstein. I eventually had a brainwave and simply slashed a diagonal line across them both.
1. “Mrs. Potter's Lullaby” COUNTING CROWS
2. “Superstar” SHERYL CROW
3. “It's My Life” NO DOUBT (I thought I was the only one who loved this New Wave classic!)
4. “Shimmer” SHAWN MULLINS
5. “Rock Me On The Water” JACKSON BROWNE
6. “One Down” BEN FOLDS (recorded live 6-12-02, on the tour where my wife and I saw Ben on the same night, a few weeks before we met for the first time.)
7. “Go Where You Wanna Go” The MAMAS & PAPAS (I think this song was in a commercial for Claritin.)
8. “Gypsy” (alternate mix) FLEETWOOD MAC
9. “The Difference” The WALLFLOWERS
10. “Metal Firecracker” LUCINDA WILLIAMS
11. “Firecracker” RYAN ADAMS
12. “Drown” (acoustic) SON VOLT (from Napster, circa 1999)
13. “Bigger Than My Body” JOHN MAYER (a solo acoustic performance, downloaded from the KISS-108 FM Web site.)
14. “Crash” DAVE MATTHEWS (see #13)
15. “Seven Bridges Road” The EAGLES (live 1980)
16. “Please Don't Tell Her” BIG HEAD TODD & THE MONSTERS (from Napster, circa 1999)
17. “Cars Can't Escape” WILCO (downloaded from the Wilco Web site)
18. “Waiting For My Real Life To Begin” COLIN HAY

May 15, 2004

Troy

troyThe performances were good (Eric Bana stands out), but the screenplay, direction, and cinematography all were subpar, especially compared to Braveheart, Gladiator, and The Lord of The Rings. Those five movies really set the bar very high, and Troy is not at that standard. Brad Pitt never really pins down his character. Bryan Cox chews scenery. The story has the potential to be written as a tragic Shakespearean opera, but the screenplay doesn't come close. (Showcase Cinemas Woburn)

May 5, 2004

The Philadelphia Story

philadelphiastoryA bit draggy in parts, but funny and stocked with wonderful talent. Hepburn's part is tailored for her, Grant has some fine moments, and Stewart is delightful, especially in his drunken scenes. Roland Young is suitably boring, and precocious Virginia Weidler steals her scenes. (Brattle Theater, Cambridge)

May 1, 2004

96: Highway To Heck

The Cover: I had recently bought the AC/DC album with its legendary cover photo, so I did some half-assed photoshopping to put the heads of my wife and a friend of ours on the cover. It was much more fun designing the CD/96 logo!

1. TEARS FOR FEARS Everybody Wants to Rule The World (My wife mentioned she used to sing this song in her college a capella group.)
2. ERIC CLAPTON Hello Old Friend
3. PEARL JAM Alone (A favorite b-side of mine, Pearl Jam played this song when I saw them at the Orpheum in Boston on the Versus tour.)
4. PETE YORN Come Back Home
5. WILCO & BILLY BRAGG California Stars
6. STEELY DAN Black Friday
7. PAUL McCARTNEY & WINGS Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
8. THE CARS Don't Cha Stop
9. UTOPIA Love In Action (I had recently listened to both The Cars debut album and The Best Of Todd Rundgren, and I noticed a similarity in the choruses of these two songs.)
10. SUZANNE VEGA Caramel
11. SMITHEREENS w/SUZANNE VEGA In A Lonely Place
12. R.E.M. w/KATE PIERSON Me In Honey (a pair of women duet-ing on other records.)
13. THE ENGLISH BEAT Save It For Later
14. NICK LOWE (I Love The Sound Of) Breaking Glass
15. JEFF LYNNE Don't Let Go (We heard the original version of this song on the PA at Krispy Kreme in Everett, after the party where Mandy's photo was taken for the cover.)
16. JET Are You Gonna Be My Girl (Yes, another iTunes commercial song!)
17. THE CURE Close To Me (I think this is on here because the bass line reminds me of the Jet song.)
18. OUTKAST Hey Ya!
19. THE ROLLING STONES Undercover Of The Night (I always had a soft spot for this excessively Eighties sounding track from the Stones. I included it here because David Chase used this song as a closing credits track on the Sopranos.)
20. AC/DC Highway To Hell

April 25, 2004

Kill Bill Volume 2

killbill2A very different film from Volume 1. If you thought Bill and the DiVAs put The Bride through the wringer in Volume 1, she is raked over the coals in all-new ways in Volume 2. I think I would enjoy Tarantino's movies more if I didn't loathe him as a personality already. At least he didn't act in either Kill Bill installment! (Showcase Cinemas Woburn)

April 3, 2004

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

umbrellasA light, inconsequential French melodrama. Did I mention it's all-singing? Not my type of drama, but interesting. I'm glad I broadened my scope a little. Thanks Em! (Brattle Theater, Cambridge)

April 2, 2004

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

eternalBoth hopeful and depressing, I was genuinely moved by this story. Joel (Jim Carrey) can't stand the pain of his failed relationship with Clementine (Kate Winslet) so he has his memories of her erased. The problem is, he can't stand to lose the good memories along with the bad. We are all the sum of our life's experiences. (West Newton)

March 27, 2004

The Ladykillers

ladykillersNot as wacky as I would have hoped from the creators of Raising Arizona. Some very fine moments, and it's good to see Tom Hanks in a comedy again (I'm still waiting for The Money Pit 2 to go into production). J.K. Simmons is one of my favorite character actors. I am quick to give Messrs. Coen & Coen extra credit considering they've released four films in less than four years: Their last movie, Intolerable Cruelty, debuted less than six months before this film. (Landmark Embassy Cinema, Waltham)

March 14, 2004

Starsky & Hutch

starskyExactly what I hoped for. Funny, silly, with an authentic 70s-era cop-show plotline. I never watched Starsky & Hutch as a kid- I was seven when it was canceled. I was a devoted fan of The Dukes Of Hazzard and CHiPs. Talk about born in the wrong decade- Ben Stiller as Dave Starsky is much more handsome than Ben Stiller as himself. That permed-out curly hair he wears in the movie is much more flattering than his regular look. All the action in the Ford Grand Turino was like a love letter to Rear Wheel Drive... (Loews Fresh Pond)

February 26, 2004

The Station Agent

stationA wonderful, plot-free character study, with silly music and endearing performances. A nice 88 minute slice of summer. It made me long for sitting around outside reading and doin' nothing... (Somerville Theater)

February 21, 2004

Monster

monsterA pretty good movie, especially for a novice director, with a fantastic, career-catapulting performance by heretofore pretty-face Charlize Theron, who can now play with the big kids. Let's hope she says "no" to The Italian Job 2 and plays more roles like this (complex, flawed human beings). (Kendall Square Cinema, Cambridge)

February 14, 2004

Casablanca

casablancaThis year, I really noticed how everybody is smoking in every scene. Em noticed how everyone is always buying drinks which no one ever consumes. I picture Sasha the bartender taking all the full glasses and pouring them into a jug labeled "House Wine" a la Moe on The Simpsons. (Brattle Theater, Cambridge)

February 13, 2004

The Cooler

coolerI was expecting a Get Shorty-style Vegas comedy, but I got a Leaving Las Vegas-style downer instead. I found the movie needlessly brutal. The script was very film-noir retro. A loveable loser (William H. Macy) and a cocktail waitress with a heart of gold (Maria Bello) fall in love, while forces beyond their control (Alec Baldwin) force them apart. Don't forget the loser son (Shawn Hatosy) who is making all the same mistakes the father did. (Kendall Square Cinema, Cambridge)

February 8, 2004

95: Fireworks Factory!

The Cover: A photo taken at our New Year's party 2004. I think the camera thought the flash was on but it wasn't!
The title "Fireworks Factory" comes from the episode of The Simpsons "Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie": During an I&S short, there's a delay in the plot where Milhouse whines "When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?!"
1. Elvis Presley "A Little Less Conversation" 1:42
(Davis/Strange) Live A Little, Love A Little Soundtrack 1968

2. Stevie Wonder "Sir Duke" 3:45
(Wonder) Songs In The Key Of Life 1976

3. Nikka Costa "Everybody Got Their Something" 4:20
(Costa/Stanley) Everybody Got Their Something 2001

4. Weezer "Island In The Sun" 3:20
(Rivers Cuomo) Weezer 2001

5. Nick Lowe "American Squirm" 2:31
(Lowe) from the Radar single 1984

6. Freedy Johnston "Bad Reputation" 4:10
(Johnston) This Perfect World 1994

7. The Minus Five "Retrieval Of You" 3:51
from Down With Wilco 2003

8. Michael Penn "Lucky One" 3:58
(Penn) MP4(Days Since A Lost Time Accident) 2000

9. Fountains Of Wayne "Stacy's Mom" 3:17
(Collingwood/Schlesinger) Welcome Interstate Managers 2003

10. Rolling Stones "Shattered" 3:47
(Jagger/Richards) Some Girls 1978

11. R.E.M. "Can't Get There From Here" 4:10
(Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe) Fables Of The Reconstruction 1985

12. The Statler Brothers "Flowers On The Wall" 2:23
(Lew DeWitt) Flowers On The Wall 1966

13. Apollo Sunshine "The Egg" 3:18
(Apollo Sunshine) Katonah 2003

14. New Pornographers "Letter From An Occupant" 3:46
(New Pornographers) Mass Romantic 2000

15. Ben Folds Five "Julianne" 2:30
(Ben Folds) Ben Folds Five 1995

16. Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band "You Done My Brain In" 1:40
(Neil Innes) Keynsham 1969

17. The White Stripes "Seven Nation Army" 3:51
(Jack White) Elephant 2003

18. Red Hot Chili Peppers "Universally Speaking" 4:19
(Flea/Frusciante/Kiedis/Smith) By The Way 2002

19. Bruce Springsteen "Tougher Than The Rest" (live) 4:02
(Springsteen)

20. Pete Yorn "Crystal Village" 3:46
(Yorn) Day I Forgot 2003

21. Sheryl Crow "If It Makes You Happy" 5:23
(Crow/Trott) Sheryl Crow 1996

22. The Beatles "Flying" 2:16
(Harrison/Lennon/McCartney/Starr) Magical Mystery Tour 1967

January 24, 2004

Something's Gotta Give

somethingsWayyyy too long for a comedy. The whole subplot of young Amanda Peet coming of age romantically after dating Jack Nicholson slows the whole third act down. Better to combine her character with Frances McDormand's and streamline the supporting roles. (AMC Fenway)

January 19, 2004

The Barefoot Contessa

barefootLast night was not the night for a 128 minute melodrama. I almost fell asleep during several prolonged monologue scenes. Would have been better on TV whilst curled up on sofa. (Brattle Theater, Cambridge)

January 17, 2004

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

LOTR3Still fabulous. If director Peter Jackson and actor Sean Astin are not recognized at the Oscars, I'll be very upset. (Loews Boston Common)

January 16, 2004

Big Fish

bigfishTim Burton's most human and heartwarming film yet. A moving, gorgeous film. Truly a tearjerker for guys, or as I like to call it, a "chuck flick". I was wearing flannel-lined pants and winter boots- my poor legs & feet were roasting! (Loews Boston Common)