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Terrible, Boring Film
Wow this film is bad. I loved "Michael Clayton," but this is clearly a director with one successful film allowed to go off the deep end on his sophomore effort. (See "Atonement.")
I knew we were in trouble from the opening credits -- an interminable slow motion sequence of what's supposed to be a comedic pantomime of two people who hate each other...with the music turned up extra loud to make it seem faster, funnier, quirkier...or something... Problem is, we get the idea after five seconds. The rest of the open gives us no new information, and it's not actually funny, so it seems to last an hour.
These opening credits telegraph what you are in for: two hours of film-making DEVOID of actual content, delivered with mediocre style.
Scene after scene is too long. I don't need a whole sequence of Clive Owen following Julia Roberts, I just need enough shots to know that a following happens. The passing scenery does not interest me. I also don't need the scene in the car where two guys mock Clive's accent to go on this long...or even happen. Clive Owen has an English accent. Is that supposed to be funny? And how many tilt-up-to-skyscraper shots does a movie really need? I guess about 50.
But apparently you also need the actors performing the SAME exact scene (the film's big gimmick) even more than that. Note to filmmakers: this only worked in "The Conversation." Unless it reveals something new, it's a waste of time. (And if it *does* reveal something new, then stop it after 10 seconds, and one occurrence, because once we realize what actually *is* new information (if we haven't guessed already) we're done. The different intonations of the act are of no interest.)
Also, FYI, legitimate suspense is not created by just having people yell "Hurry! Hurry!" while someone looks up a room number from their messy desk. That's just arbitrary.
And -- wow -- BOXES as a transition device. Again, this has been done to death, but usually when it has been done to death, the boxes are telling you something in terms of simultaneous action -- they're not just using boxes for the sake of having boxes. WOW.
The worst part is that the film believes it is being clever, when really what's going on is TOTALLY OBVIOUS. You're way ahead of it for at least an hour, yet the filmmakers feel they have to SPOON FEED YOU A MONTAGE OF "WHAT JUST HAPPENED" (and even *that* is too long) in case you were asleep during the show (a legitimate worry with this film.) That's just insulting.
Oh yes, and ultimately the screenplay is about NOTHING. (Is that technically a spoiler?) Basically the protagonists try to do something frivilous, involving no stakes, then in the end find out they were doomed to fail from day one because they're self-involved idiots. Yawn.
There is one good performance from the southern woman seduced by Clive Ownen. Her behavior is funny in her interrogation scene, the only inspired part of the film.
Almost forgot...you have Roberts use a copy machine to copy the "secret document," yet no one even thinks to check whether or not SHE MIGHT HAVE MADE A COPY OF IT WHILE USING THE COPY MACHINE. (See what I mean by "insulting"?)
Avoid this film.
Atonement the Most Overrated Film Since Crash (spoilers)
2005's "Pride and Prejudice" is a work of genius. 2007's "Atonement," however, is the follow-up project where no one has the guts to tell the director to cut 40 minutes out of this pretentious, meandering, utterly contrived bait-and-switch. Every hackneyed film-school trick is employed in this "English Patient"-meets-"Roshamon"-meets-"Jacob's Ladder"-meets-"Manon des Sources" bore. It even uses the "have your seemingly raw ending but then make sure everyone leaves the theatre with an utterly unmotivated bittersweet smile" device they topped off that abomination "Titanic" with. Excellent actors and photography cannot save this fundamentally flawed storyline.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
I don't know about everyone else, but growing up it was pointed out to me quite clearly that making fun of ethnicities via stereotypes was extremely rude and unacceptable behavior. Too often some desperate, unoriginal people (usually stand-up comics) use the "waiver" inherent in their personally belonging to a specific ethinic group as a license to get around this (positive) social restriction to get easy laughs in a way that no one else on the bill can use to compete with them. This is exactly what "Big Fat" does.
This movie is TERRIBLE, wallowing for 90 minutes in a trough of anachronistic, uber-kitchy, ethnic-based humor -- which more often than not falls flat, regardless of its CRINGING use of pat Greek portrayals. "Ahhh, I am an ethnic-a person-a...and-I'm-a-sooo-seeemple." (And this is leaving out the million other cliches in the project, most notably the old standby "I was unloved until I took off my glasses and got a makeover" seen in other such brilliant contexts as "The Mirror with Two Faces.")
For years, ethnic humor has only been (sometimes) funny and acceptable when presented in an ironic context: ie, when the film has been sophisticated enough to "wink" at the audience, acknowledging that both it and the crowd realize that ethnic humor is a no-no, and that therefore the filmmakers are intentionally being "naughty" by crossig the line (ie "Southpark," etc...)
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is a complete train wreck. Little old ladies across the country may like it; and producers Tom Hanks and his wife may be promoting the heck out of it, but the emperor has no clothes in this case.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The actors are good, but if this film did not pretend to be a true story, it would be completely ridiculous. Think about it, if there was no John Nash in real life for them to borrow 1% of their story from, and the filmmakers went in to pitch this story: We take a hot actor, pretend he's a Goodwill Hunting-like genius, pretend he's not bi-sexual, illustrate his "beautiful mind" by dumbing down the field of theoretical mathmatics to a bar-room level, then give him a disease of the week, steal the "these people aren't real" plot twist from "Sixth Sense," allow him to conquer the disease of the week through "love," "humility" and "a lifetime of teaching the young who idolize him," along with the superhuman support of his wife (whose character is ENTIRELY unmotivated. WHY does she stay with him? She is a total MYSTERY...) and in the end, give him a huge award because he has finally stopped demanding to be considered "important." Who the heck would watch that? The film departs so much from the real life story of this guy that what remains is only pointless nonsense about How to Beat Schizophrenia Without Really Trying. It should actually be titled "Jennifer Connoly Is Beautiful" and let it go at that.
The Deep End (2001)
If you had to hide a dead body, and you lived on the shore of one of the deepest lakes in the world, which is famous for swallowing drowning victims to levels so deep and so cold so that they are literally NEVER recovered - they just float around, frozen, for decades...would you take the incriminating corpse you desperately want to hide to the shallowest, clearest, most picturesque little BEACH inlet you could find, just a few yards OFF-SHORE!!!??? And that's just the beginning of this movie! Swinton and the photography are wonderful, but the plot is in outer space.