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I say 'surprisingly' because the rating is so low, I didn't know what to expect.
But it's a delightful little caper movie, driven (as all good movies are) by the performers and a tight script by Robert Benton, not known for his enjoyable caper movies!
Jeff Bridges all but steals the film from a delightful Kim Basinger, and the two of them together set the screen on fire. They are surrounded by some of the best character actors working today, including Rip Torn. As I was watching this I thought how smart Robert Benton is for casting real actors, and having the comedy come out of their behaviour and talent, rather than casting 'wacky comedians' and reducing the story to little bits.
A lot of fun, and worth seeing.
Nacho Libre (2006)
I'm not sure it's as fun as the poster, but this was a fun movie.
After seeing Napoleon Dynamite, I didn't' know what to expect from this director on his second movie, but it's really kind of similar in an odd way.
The camera doesn't really move much. In fact, it looks like a film student could have made this movie. Except for the fact that a film student wouldn't have the guts NOT to move the camera!
Like Dynamite, the strength of this movie is the performances, in this case Jack Black, who makes the whole film work. You have to be a Jack Black fan though, my friend who isn't really didn't care much for the film. I was surprised to see it delving deeper than the hysterical poster and premise led me to believe. I love that they tried to have a little message hidden in there.
I won't go into the plot. I'll just say look at the poster, think about Jack Black, and check it out if either of those two get you going.
The Lather Effect (2006)
A lot of fun
I saw this on the last night of the LA Film Festival, and it was a treat.
The plot, such as it is, is about a group of friends getting together for 'one last party' at a house about to be sold, an '80's Rage', where they dress up like their favorite 80's icons, Madonna, Tom Cruise, etc. There's even a funny reference to 'that Gorbachov dude'.
But it's really about a lost past, missed opportunities, and cleaning out the cobwebs of old relationships. Sounds kind of heavy, but it's really really funny.
The cast is great, from the radiant Ione Skye (Say Anything) to straight laced Tate Donovan (The O.C.) to David Herman as the 'former child star', who just about steals every scene that he's in. But the 'jubilant engine' that kicks it into high gear is Eric Stoltz (Pulp Fiction), who I didn't' know even did comedy. He's hysterical, and every time he's on screen the film goes to a different, wackier place.
It has one of those soundtracks that make you want to go out and buy it. Which I tried to do at the Virgin Records outside the theater, but they didn't' have it yet. Every 80's hit song you can remember is somehow in this film, it's a little like BEING at the actual party!
In fact, the whole film is like being at a party. A lot of fun.
A lot of fun
I saw this at the LA Film Festival, and it's a funny peek at the lives of teachers, from a point of view you don't often see.
According to the festival literature, it was written and directed by actual former teachers, so as you can imagine there is a lot of inside stuff that we may not have seen before, that is both sad and funny.
The plot, such as it is, follows four new teachers at a high school in Texas during their first year, and all the trials and tribulations they encounter. I didn't recognize any of the cast, I think the kids may have been real students, but that didn't matter to me. Like 'The Office', it shows the ineptitude and struggle to make sense of ridiculous things, like school policy, and people desperate to win 'teacher of the year'. It's funny and heartfelt, and reminded me of a Christopher Guest film in that it felt ad-libbed more than scripted.
I ended up feeling great affection for these people, and thought the film was very good.
Ira & Abby (2006)
I saw this film at the LA film festival, and enjoyed it, even if it left me pretty much right away.
The plot is one we've seen before, almost a sitcom plot, outgoing girl meets nebbishy guy. It's kind of a cross between an older Woody Allen film and Darhma and Greg, but what makes it enjoyable is the cast.
The two leads are fine, but it's the supporting pros that steal the film with relish whenever they can. Robert Klein, Frances Conroy, Fred Willard all seem to be having a very fun time, and that translates right out into the audience.
I think it was shot on digital instead of film, which makes it kind of different to look at, but not unpleasant at all.
A fun date movie!
Annie Hall (1977)
Although the innovative style in which he told his story was not new- the flashbacks, walking into his past etc was all done twenty years earlier in Wild Strawberries- the film feels as though it's reinventing cinema in a simple and direct way.
The plot is basically boy gets girl, boy loses girl, etc. But the way Woody Allen tells this story, and the casting and chemistry that he concocted is just stellar. It's clear that Allen and Keaton are or were in love with each other, and they pop right off the screen. Every other role, from Colleen Dewhurst to Christopher Walken, is perfectly cast.
But the story itself, the simple way he deals with finding love, then losing it, will touch you. I don't think of this film so much as a comedy, although it's absolutely hilarious, as a film about loss with some laughs, and I appreciate it enough to watch it every few years, like an old friend.
If you've never seen this film, you're in for a wonderful evening.
The King of Comedy (1982)
Watch this, then rent Network.
To me, the two movies, from two different decades, perfectly sum up our lousy with celebrity culture, and the insidious pull that television has over most of us.
I won't go into the plot, it's all over this site. But the performances are stunning, DeNiro is perfect- you never know if he's serious, deranged, touched, or what. It's what I imagine a serial killer would be like, charming and odd and ultimately dangerous.
Sandra Bernard is terrific too, in just as creepy a way. Sometimes it's hard to watch her, but like driving by a car wreck, you can't NOT look.
But surprisingly (to me anyway) it's Jerry Lewis who holds the film together. I'd only thought of him as the wacky guy from the Dean Martin movies, but he's got weight and charm and a screen presence that dominated DeNiro. I've read that Johnny Carson was offered this movie, which would have been interesting- but Jerry Lewis is so solid and wonderful, it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role. He's the only sane person in an insane world, and therefore we take the ride of the movie through his eyes.
A terrific take on modern celebrity, the hazards of fame, and the regrets you can have just by being nice to a stranger. Scorcese scores big with this one!
So much fun!
Oh yes, this is the most fun you could have if you're a Dylan fan. It didn't really feel like a Scocese film to me, but that's neither here nor there- the music alone makes this a treat. The trip through Dylans life, and his funny and surprisingly humble and accurate thoughts on all he's been through make it the most compelling, less 'showy' documentary on a famous musician ever made.
The only thing I missed was that I didn't get any notion of what the man is like in private. Drugs? Marriage? Relationships? All hinted at, none explored or discussed.
Of course I realize I'm complaining about not knowing more about Bob Dylan, famous for keeping himself to himself . The myth he's created makes me want to know more about him- which keeps his myth alive! Wonderful. Watch it and then put on the albums, you'll have a great time.
This show has held my attention since the first season, it towers above the competition. In fact, it towers above most feature films. In fact, it towers above the Mission Impossible film that it's creator made! Here's why, imho. First and most important, they have an amazing cast. Matthew Fox is stellar, driving the show forward with the most difficult role, he has to observe, stay calm, and hold our interest. The girls are all lovely to look at, and they can act too! And the supporting players are all terrific. The music is compelling, it's filmed like a real film, and most importantly, the STORY is something we haven't seen before. Or haven't seen in a very long time. This is to me as good as The Sopranos, and proof that television can be good and worth watching. Especially on DVD where you don't have to sit through the lousy commercials.
All of Me (1984)
Most enjoyable silliness!
I laughed quite a lot during this film, and I think it's one of Steve Martins more inspired creations. This was made back in the 80's, before he got all serious minded, and it's divine.
The plot is described elsewhere, no need to go into it. But Lily Tomlin almost walks away with the film. She's warmer and lovelier than I think I've seen her in years, she and Martin definitely have a certain chemistry.
And the scene where Steve Martin walks down the street- that's all I'll give you, you have to see it- is priceless comedy.
This movie will make you laugh no matter what kind of mood you're in, it's wonderful.