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Death to Smoochy (2002)
awful, just awful
This is one of the most unfunny, boring, comedies I have sat through in a long time.
Any attempt at humour is so obvious as to be unimportant. This is one of those movies where the concept is so good that people forget you need to write a decent story to back it up.
Edward Norton is badly miscast as the lead character. As good an actor as he is, he just is never believable. He, along with everyone else, never really creates real characters.
I heard mixed things about this movie before renting it. I heard it was terrible. But then I heard people say they really liked it. I should have believed the box office on this one. The theatre going public smelled a turkey when they saw one.
Avoid this one at all costs.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
Predictable but totally charming
OK, the plot is routine and predictable. So are a great many of the jokes.
However, this movie is so charming that you look past its flaws. Its a well intentioned, lighthearted comedy filled with nicely observed characters.
It was very entertaining and I fell in love with the people in this movie. You can't ask for much more from a good romantic comedy.
Waking Life (2001)
Not for those who demand answers
I left this movie slightly unsatisfied and unsettled (a bit like waking up from a dream I suppose). It took me a while to figure out the reason -- the movie does not supply answers. It does not have a plot that reaches a "conclusion".
If you are one of those who demands answers or conclusions from your movies, you will not enjoy this. If you like asking questions about the world and your place in it, you will. Most of us (those who have finished school) have had the "question asking" knocked out of us by the grind of day to day life. I think its OK to think about those questions once and a while. Its rare to converse about the really important things anymore.
This is a movie I think I will see again someday. Like it or hate it -- it is an original, which is a rare find and worth celebrating.
A lot has been said about the visual look of this movie. Let me join of the chorus of people saying how original and exciting it is. You've never seen a movie look like this. That alone makes it worth the price of admission, even if the content is not your style.
Incompetently made on every level. A real horror movie all right -- horrible to watch. One of those videos that makes you swear at the screen with frustration. Run a mile if someone wants you to see it.
My Mother Frank (2000)
Not particularly original or engaging. About half an hour in I'd written the ending in my head. The only surprise I got was that it was worse and more cliched than I'd imagined.
The lead actors are not particularly likeable either. That makes our journey through their world a hard slog.
A Great Idea Gone Wrong
When I first heard about this movie I was intrigued. A great premise for a satire. A great director. Some terrific actors.
Unfortunately the movie just does not work. Great satire needs to cut with both an axe and a scalpel, but this one only uses the axe. The points are labouriously made - and made over and over again. The audience finds itself moving forward a lot faster than this movie.
Some of the directing choices are a bit odd as well. The great, largely unheard of, Paul Mooney is wasted in a bit part that is designed to provide some cliche ridden motivation for the Damon Wayans character. Daman Wayans performs in what is supposed to be a "white" voice but it is so obviously false that we're constantly thinking "he's doing his white voice" instead of becoming involved with the character.
The story, as I said, is not particularly engaging -- even in the parts that are supposed to be shocking or funny. The movie does not work as drama, comedy or entertainment. It is a "message movie" that forgets to provide the "movie" part.
The best Australian drama I've ever seen
I'm no expert, but this is perhaps the best Australian drama I've ever seen.
Every single performance is superb and the movie has certainly given me new respect for Anthony LaPaglia.
It is quite obvious that this movie is based on a play. The plot is barely there, but the characters are so rich and the writing so intelligent that you just get caught up in these people.
Anyone who wants to see something intelligent and thought provoking will love this movie.
A Knight's Tale (2001)
Waste of Time
The first five minutes of the movie starts out promisingly enough. We see the crowd chanting "We Will Rock You" before the joust. Obviously this isn't a film that's going to take itself too seriously.
WRONG. It takes itself far too seriously to be any good. What promises to be a fun lark turns into a complete hack job bringing out every cliche in the book. Although he handles it as if he expects us to -- was the director seriously expecting anyone to be moved by the ridiculous subplot of Ledger's long lost blind father? And that's just one ridiculous cliche we're supposed to swallow. I won't detail the rest because I'd spoil the movie.
The action scenes are also handled really badly. There is one shot of the jousting stick hitting the knight which was exciting the first time I saw it. It wasn't very exciting the 20th time I saw it. Couldn't he have found interesting ways to show the action? Each joust looked exactly like the last joust.
This is a movie teenage boys. Stupid teenage boys who haven't seen anything better in the genre.
There are a few things worth seeing in swordfish: The opening sequence, Halle Berry's breasts, Hugh Jackman, and Halle Berry's crotch shot (in her underwear).
The movie is absolutely ridiculous and actually kind of boring except for the things I've mentioned above. Definitely a wait for video film.
The Contender (2000)
Great movie, bad ending
Superbly acted by everyone in the cast, this is a nice tight political thriller. The film could have been a masterpiece if had not been let down by some terrible writing at the end.
The whole thing starts to fall apart the moment the writer/director felt the need to have a Hollywood ending. The moment Joan Allen has her big "hollywood moment" is the moment everything comes apart. From that point on the script becomes almost entirely predictable and disappointing.
The film's final scene is a hackneyed piece of "USA Number One!" writing that does not do justice to the careful character studies that have gone before. We've invested all this time in the movie, and we want to see the heroine resolve her conflicts, not have someone step in and resolve them for her.
I do still recommend the movie for the first three quarters of it. It is a very good movie that could have been great.