I’ve kept my pace lively this year, haven’t I?

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

I think my vomit is covering the telly. Horrible, lazy writing, no acting to speak of et cetera. Two thumbs down.

Zelig

Woody’s been enthralled by the possibilities of the medium and forgot to write a movie around them is my theory of Zelig. The retouched documentary footage looks absolutely real all the way through and this was ten years before Forrest Gump and CGI. There are some great lines in there as well but on the whole Zelig is very dissappointing, at least compared to Annie Hall.

One thumb up but sort of wiggling to the side.

Casablanca

Casablanca kicks ass. If you’re a cinematic neonate who has yet to see this masterpiece (just like I was not two years ago), what are you still waiting for? Casablanca is one of those classic movies that work on their own without the benefit of a doubt of their historical context which is a rare thing indeed. During a screening of Bronenosets Potyomkin I dozed off for some fifteen minutes and Metropolis was watchable only on fast-forward.

Not so with Casablanca. Did I already say that it kicks ass? Two thumbs up.

House of Sand and Fog

Excluding one poorly written supporting character and the perfunctory role of one family member – you’ll know what I’m talking about when her/his Big Scene lurches closer – this was one enjoyable tragedy, if that is not a contradiction in terms.

Say what you want about Sir Kingsley, but in my opinion his acting is always razor-sharp. House of Sand and Fog includes a few scenes that tread the fine line between genius and stupidity, and were it for a lesser actor, they would surely fall on the demented side.

Two thumbs up.

Dark Star

Spare me, no more! No more! Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me that Dark Star is a total and utter turkey? We’re talking Battlefield Earth grade-of-awfulness here. Even thinking about Dark Star is making my head ache.

Two thumbs down (or if you’re in an appropriate frame of mind, two thumbs up).

Troy

Of the two early summer fx movies, Troy was easily better. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean much TDAT being the reference point. So the dialogue is clunky, reminescent of Legolas’ mindnumbing elven anecdotes in the LotR movies (wonder why that popped into my mind). And the acting is, well, uhm… I mean this is Brad Pitt we’re talking of. Brian Cox is actually quite fun to watch, as he goes into his best evil ruler mode, which is pretty good. I mean he’s evil in an enjoyably over-the-top way.

The trailers have been trying to sell the movie on it’s epic scale. So there are a thousand ships and tens of thousands of men, but the battles don’t really deliver. There’s just too much stuff going on with too much rapid-fire editing. What the movie really shines in, however, are the duel scenes. Excellent swordplay choreography, imaginative cinematography and wonderful use of sound perfectly capture and convey the feeling of being beaten with a heavy sword.

The runtime (163 minutes) is just a bit too much but still doesn’t feel quite as long as I’d expected. Obviously the movie is full of factual errors, but as the phrase in IMDB explains, It is our policy to exclude differences between films and their source material as goofs. Then again nobody goes to see a Hollywood actioner and expects historical accuracy, right? Right?

I’d give it at least one thumb up.

Swimming with Sharks

The movie has three things going for it: Kevin Spacey as an asshole executive (my fav line must’ve been You’re happy. I hate that!), the setting (movies about moviemaking or – in this case – Hollywood are interesting a priori) and the surprise ending.

On the other hand, the dialogue gets a bit on-the-nose at times and the whole torture thing was a bit silly. Please do tell me in which order you, dear reader, would perform the following acts of cruelty? a) Cutting someone’s hair so that his receding hairline shows, b) inflicting paper cuts on the tongue and c) throwing various spices (think mace) on that same someone’s face, including his eyes?

I thought so. In the movie they go for c, a, b. A minor complaint, I know, I know, but it still bugged me. As a movie critic it is my prerogative to pick all the nits I see fit.

In any case I’m holding my final judgement until I see Altman’s The Player. One thumb up.

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Brilliant stuff. Solondz is master of the uncomfortable, which actually means that his vision of the world is acute and he isn’t afraid of poking the sores to find out what’s causing the pain. The movie has so many things going for it. For one the acting is adamant and considering that the protagonists are all kinds, it’s all the more amazing. The scenes with the little sister just dancing around in her tutu are perfect and need absolutely no dialogue.

The only thing I can complain about at all would be the parent’s one-dimensionality. I mean I don’t expect them to turn around actually care about Dawn but they could’ve had at least one other personality trait.

Three thumbs up!

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