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Peter Pan (2003)
Spoiled by the incessant soundtrack
This movie had a lot of really fine qualities to it: the child actors, the comic and Mary Poppins-esquire look of old London, the sense of wonder. What bothered me more than anything else was the music. The climactic scenes of love between Peter and Wendy were nice with lyrical oboe solos, but I don't understand why the director insisted on music being written throughout the entire movie, which had the affect of overkill. I don't need a John Williams sound to remind me of what childhood imagination was like, nor do I need it to feel lighthearted, humorous, or to accentuate every dramatic moment in the movie. Many scenes could have used silence, and that would have made the love scenes, and the climactic battle scene (with granted, appropriately exciting accompaniment) more meaningful.
Queer as Folk (2000)
pales to 6 Feet Under or Oz
While Six Feet Under and Oz may focus less exclusively on gay characters, the depictions of life as it occurs to anyone, gay or straight in QAF are something that I can less often identify with. I actually watched the movie Hannah and Her Sisters right before seeing the first two episodes of season 3, and even tho I'm gay I felt a deeper emotional connection to the movie, where eccentric people have dialogue that is much more exemplary of their quirks and characteristics. Nowhere in these other great series would you find such a corny statement like the violinist saying to Justin "I thought I'd wake you up with a serenade." It also seems like the character of Brian is so predictably evil, used as both a plot device and a didactic warning against excess (who, BTW as I'm sure as most will agree, simply doesn't have the "look" to warrant all the attention his character gets).
In better movies/TV shows, art would be depicted for what it does to people, not to move the plot along with an imagined personality trait of pretentious artists. The dialogue in the second episode at the Justin's college about the world losing "his gift" was equally grating...
I appreciate what the writers of this show are attempting and I have no problem with the gratuitous nudity, as long as it doesn't take itself so seriously. The plot can be interesting occasionally and I appreciate Sharon Gless's and Hal Sparks's acting, and I'm sure they're all fun people to be around in real life.
My Architect (2003)
touching portrait of a genius
I just returned from viewing this academy award-nominated doc, and I was thoroughly touched and interested in exploring the works of this fellow I'd never heard of before. Of course I'm someone who's captivated with beautiful architecture, so I realize others won't care.
We can only imagine if there had been a couple more visionaries in Philadelphia back in the late 60's when Kahn's plans were a possibility, what a wonderful city center there would be. If you wonder whether you'll see more about the Bangladesh building at the beginning of the movie, be patient, for there it will provide the climax of the film at the end.
His son's personal discoveries in the process of making this film are quite interesting, sometimes touching, and even funny at times. There is one of the most comical anti-visionary rants ever captured on camera.
Rounding out the good points of this doc is a touching musical score with some excellent expressive string music. And expressiveness is a major point to be found in Kahn's architecture. The points made by other architects about the spiritual nature of matter, and how Kahn's buildings brought that out tie together the overall experience of this movie.
Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica (2003)
decline of civilization
While MTV deserves low marks for selling out with salacious material in many of their programs, this could be the worst show they've ever put on. Whereas The Real World will at least have a couple of interesting cast members, this pair is just hideously immature and stupid. It's incredible when people don't realize how much they're embarrassing themselves. That Jessica makes Anna Nicole look like Simone de Beauvoir.
I was annoyed
While I like a good cry along with all other sentimental people, this movie poured sentimentalism like too much maple syrup over innocent pancakes. McCullough's earnest narration accompanied by that feel good music was the first thing that turned me off: if there's something to be felt or said, does it have to be so saccharine? Then it seemed like the characters had no individuality, esp. the 2nd wife, who seemed to just be there and look pretty. I really didn't think there was any plot development over a really simple story.
The one character I was amused by was Tick-Tock. Besides that, the talk about the horses' personalities was more interesting than the humans'. Of course the action shots were nice, but beyond these examples I didn't feel too much interest.
The last watered-down thing I wanted to mention was the rags over riches theme, or "class-warfare light." There were good rich people (Jeff Bridges) and bad rich people (the rival) and good poor people. I understand that Seabiscuit captured the common man's imagination, and that's great. But, if only Jeff had some kind of foot fetish, I would have been more satisfied.
I guess it could be summed up by saying what I said to myself in the theater: "Okay, this is a tearful moment, and I feel the emotion, but I feel like I'm being manipulated into that emotion." I guess it's a good "family movie."
The Isaac Mizrahi Show (2001)
I've enjoyed just about every episode of "The Isaac Mizrahi Show" that I've seen. He has really fun guests, exudes a positive charm, and shows why someone who has refined tastes can be as down to earth as anyone else. Among his guests are Conan O'Brien, Margaret Cho, Andy Dick, Janeane Garofalo, Rosie O'Donnel, and Molly Shannon. Often he takes cameras along as they go about town, slightly in the "a la reality show" mode. One of the funniest was when he and Conan went tie shopping, first at the trendy Barney's? and then at K Mart. Way to go Isaac!
Dr. Phil (2002)
With the huge amount of domestic discord in this country, spanning all classes and ethnicities, Dr. Phil is a welcome addition to the TV landscape. While people might have the smarts to fix a broken sink or do a crossword puzzle, the emotional smarts to fix broken family relationships are regrettably elusive to many. Phil is not condescending to his guests; he is merely calling spades where they may be called.
Ghosts of the Abyss (2003)
Good except for annoying narration
Obviously this was a watered down version of a documentary that tried to appeal to the widest (read $) family audience. I don't know whether they actually scripted the dialogue, but it felt extremely stilted. Please pepper it with some cuss words next time, James. Other than that the footage was pretty interesting, and the depths of the ocean reminds one of "Das Boot".
Notorious C.H.O. (2002)
Tells it like it T.I.Is
True, she goes slowly. True, she repeats herself unnecessarily. But her truths about sex are hilarious and true. To hear it from a Korean woman is a delight. Clearly taking from the inspired Black comedic hugeness, she represents the American melting pot at its best. Her ability to make a white audience laugh at Asian attitudes towards sex is another cultural treasure. Way to go Margaret!
Beat the Geeks (2001)
J. Keith: the perfect host
I have absolutely no idea why J. Keith was replaced by Blaine Capatch. Not only was J. geeky, cute and the right age, he also had very good hosting skills. Blaine is (or was) not cute, and rude. We got enough theatrical rudeness from the geeks themselves, which was plenty. J. neutralized the tension between the contestants and geeks. Bring the show back with J. Keith!