January 15, 2005

In Good Company

ingoodcompanyEm and I saw In Good Company on Saturday afternoon, and thoroughly enjoyed it, refuting each bizarre criticism of the Globe's Ty Burr: the lighting was artifical and harsh [hello, it takes place in an office], the actors were caked with makeup [duh!], the soundtrack was insistent and distracting [only if you're a grumpy old man]. It's a corporate satire with a light touch, and the excellent casting is what pulls it together. Topher Grace carried the movie as a sweet but needy go-getter searching for some purpose in life. I expect he'll get some juicy parts out of this. Thanks to Em for her review- I couldn't have said it better myself! (AMC Fenway)

January 9, 2005

Ocean's Twelve

oceanstwelveThe first two-thirds of Ocean's Twelve is better than Ocean's Eleven. However, in the last third of the film, the resolution of the heist slows to a glacial crawl, Soderbergh lapses into terminal smug self-indulgence, and Emily has to explain the denouement three times before I understand what happened. No doubt Ocean's Twelve rewards a second viewing, but the viewer has to enjoy it the first time in order to entice a repeat. (AMC Fenway)

January 8, 2005

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Overly long and self-indulgent, the quirks of Wes Anderson have worn me down to the nub. I no longer have any patience for director Wes Anderson's fetish for retro set dressing. We all have a nostalgia for our youths, but Anderson seems to care more about David Bowie songs, Adidas apparel and footwear, and neato pens which write in any one of four colors, than he does about plot, characterization, and drama. (Landmark Embassy Cinema Waltham)

January 7, 2005

Beyond the Sea

beyondThis film could not have been made without Kevin Spacey, yet at the same time it is doomed to failure because of Kevin Spacey. Kevin Spacey's devotion to Bobby Darin's life story, and his talent for performing Darin's songs, make for a fascinating movie with great musical performances. The movie Ray included great musical sequences with Jamie Foxx lip-synching to Ray Charles recordings, but nothing beats a live performance by the actor himself. The problem is, Spacey has been too old to play the part for at least 15 years. Spacey turned 45 in 2004. It is ridiculous to watch Spacey play a 25-year old Darin romancing a 17-year old Sandra Dee, played by age-appropriate Kate Bosworth. Spacey (who directed and co-wrote the movie) opens his film with a lame, paranoid device showing the middle-aged Darin filming his own autobiography, as if we can suspend our disbelief as the 45-year old Spacey, jowls and all, romances a teenager? It simply doesn't hold together. (West Newton Cinema)

January 3, 2005

Schadenfreude Achievement Awards

As I mentioned in my review of Ray, Academy members tend to reward roles which involve some kind of handicap or illness. Oscar voters especially favor roles where the character achieves some kind of triumphant healing or trancending achievement. Emily calls these the Schadenfreude Achievement Awards. The following table chronicles most of these nominations from the last two decades.
YearActor, FilmAffliction
2007Tom Wilkinson, Michael Claytonchemical imbalance
Julie Christie, Away From HerAlzheimer's disease
2006Ryan Gosling, Half Nelsonaddict
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirlsheroin
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshineheroin
2005Joaquin Phoenix, Walk The Linepills, alcohol
2004Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Babycrippled
Jamie Foxx, Rayblind, heroin
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviatorcrazy
Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Babyhalf-blind
2003Patricia Clarkson, Pieces Of Aprildying
2002Nicole Kidman, The Hourssuicide, depression
Salma Hayek, Fridacrippled
Ed Harris, The HoursAIDS
2001Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mindcrazy
Sean Penn, I Am Samretarded
Judi Dench, IrisAlzheimer's disease
Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rougeconsumption
2000Ed Harris, Pollockcrazy, drunk
Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dreamcrazy, pill popper
1999Michael Clarke Duncan, The Green Mileretarded
Samantha Morton, Sweet & Lowdownmute
Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interruptedcrazy
1998Emily Watson, Hilary & Jackiecrazy
Billy Bob Thornton, A Simple Planretarded
1997Jack Nicholson, As Good As It Getscrazy
1996Geoffrey Rush, Shinecrazy
Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Bladecrazy
Diane Keaton, Marvin's Roomleukemia
Ed Norton, Primal Fearcrazy
1995Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegasdrunk
Brad Pitt, Twelve Monkeyscrazy
1994Tom Hanks, Forrest Gumpretarded
Nigel Hawthorne,
The Madness of King George
Jodie Foster, Nellsorta retarded
Gary Sinise, Forrest Gumpcrippled
1993Tom Hanks, PhiladelphiaAIDS
Debra Winger, Shadowlandscritically ill
Leonardo DiCaprio,
What's Eating Gilbert Grape
1992Al Pacino, Scent of a Womanblind
Mary McDonnell, Passion Fishcrippled
1991Robin Williams, The Fisher Kingcrazy
1990Kathy Bates, Miserycrazy
Robert De Niro, Awakeningssleepy
1989Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Footcrippled
Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of Julycrippled
Julia Roberts, Steel Magnoliaskidney failure (diabetes)
1988Dustin Hoffman, Rain Manautism
1987Jack Nicholson, Ironweedcrazy


rayPretty traditional biopic. Jamie Foxx is as good as anyone could ever be playing an icon. The musical sequences are fantastic. It turns out Ray Charles is a major ass- he openly carries on love affairs with his backup singers while leaving his wife and kids at home, his music is more important than any friendship in his life, he fires a longtime friend to save money, and he abuses heroin for twenty years. Despite all this, this movie is inevitable Oscar bait for three reasons: Charles has a physical disability, he's a drug addict, and he accomplishes great things anyways. I quote Get Shorty: "His best role was the crippled gay guy who climbed Mount Whitney." I also quote Bowfinger: "That's what I need, I need to play a retarded slave, then I'll get the Oscar!" (West Newton Cinema)