Sunday, February 25, 2007

In honor of Oscar Sunday, here's some short-ish movie reviews.... 

Yes, I'm STILL scanning medical records, hence more time to kill. I'm hoping I can finish before the Academy Awards tonight so I can take the records to the rheumatologist's office tomorrow as it is located in the same complex as my aquacise class. Watching the Oscars usually wears my little brain out, so I intend to go to bed as soon as it's over.

Have to admit I've only seen one or two of the films up for awards. I've not been inside a movie theatre since July. Neverthless, Dan and I got a Netflix subscription for his birthday/our anniversary, and before I completely forget what we've seen so far (I had to print out a list to remind me as it is), I'll make some assorted comments even though all except one were either older or simply not Oscar contenders.

The first one is the exception. We rented "United 93". I was always interested in seeing it, but not in the theatre just in case I started sobbing and annoying the other patrons or something. This is an excellent movie despite the subject matter. This story had the potential to be melodramatic or overly graphic or simply disrespectful of the people who died, but none of those things happened. Most of the dialogue and action came from the actual phone conversations and other transmissions and whatever else the writers were able to piece together from the recollections of witnesses. The cast were all relative unknowns, which really was a great idea because it helped you feel like you were a random passenger on a random plane on which an extraordinary thing happened. And even though you knew from the beginning that everyone on that plane was going to die, it was not as painful to watch as I was expecting because it was done within the bounds of good taste. The director did a fantastic job, and I hope he gets an Oscar.

Now, here I should point out that even though Dan and I are sharing the Netflix subscription, we are supposed to be alternating choices: something Dan likes, then something I like, and then something we'll watch together. But Dan never did pick out anything just for him, so there is a proponderance of stuff peculiar to my taste. This should explain some of the following selections, heh heh.

The next selection was big time just for me: "Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill". This was the comedian's stand up show recorded in 1999, and the title comes from his fondness for dressing up like a woman, which he explains quite well in his show. He is not one to do one-liners, instead launching into long rants about politics and many other subjects that are quite amusing and intelligent and interesting. I love stand-up comedy in its various styles, and this DVD is particularly good because the man is so eloquent and quirky.

One movie Dan and I watched together was "The Break-Up". This is the story of a mismatched couple and their nasty battle over posession of their condo. I'm glad it was about the end of the relationship because Jennifer Aniston and the other guy were not convincing at all as lovers in the beginning. But they were dead on as a bickering doomed couple. And they both effectively demonstrated some of the worst traits of each gender in a relationship situation. The woman assumed the man would change, was angry and disappointed when he did not change, and could not understand why he didn't even want to become her ideal. The man wanted to live exactly as he had when he had been alone, assumed the woman would never tire of being the perfect hostess, and couldn't understand why she might want more from him than his video game expertise. Yes, I am aware that these are stereotypes, but I know so many people in real life that fit them that I thought they were well represented. Lastly, I appreciated the fact that no one slapped a sappy happy ending on the movie, which would have ruined it.

Next we saw "Corpse Bride". This one follows in the footsteps of "The Nightmare Before Christmas". A nervous groom flubs his vows, goes to a cemetery to rehearse them and inadvertantly gets married to a dead woman. Typical Tim Burton oddity, but better than I was expecting. They even manage to make a dog skeleton cute. Johnny Depp is the voice of the groom.

Netflix likes to recommend multiple movies featuring the same star, so when they suggested "Secret Window", I decided to give it a try. It's based upon a Stephen King novella, so I figured it would at least be interesting. And I like to look at Johnny Depp no matter what, heh heh. Depp plays a writer living in his summer cabin after he discovers his wife has been cheating. He is stalked by a weird dude claiming that Depp stole his story. Depp finds it more difficult than he expects to prove the story is his. I enjoyed the inevitable pivotal plot twist. Not the best from King or Depp, but worth a look.

I then picked "Over the Hedge", which Dan had already seen. It's elaborate animation in the vein of "Toy Story" featuring various forest animals who awaken from hibernation to discover that the suburbs have taken over while they were sleeping. A crafty raccoon, who accidentally trashed a grumpy bear's stash and has only a week to return it, cons the other critters into crossing into their new neighbors' yards to steal as much junk food as possible. In the process, they run afoul of an exterminator, domesticated pets, vehicles, lawn obstacles and a crazed president of the local homeowner's assocation. The animation is fantastic; you can see every hair on every furry critter. The voices are what really makes it special, though. Nick Nolte voices the selfish bear, Bruce Willis the greedy raccon, Garry Shandling the reserved turtle, Wanda Sykes the skunk with a tude. Steve Carrell is awesome as the voice of a super hyper squirrel who can burp his ABCs. My favorite was the melodramatic opposum voiced by William Shatner; he does a way over the top "death" scene that is absolutely hilarious! If you haven't seen this one yet, check it out!

And finally, on Saturday, Dan and I watched "My Super Ex-Girlfriend". If you're in the mood for something light and amusing, this should do the trick. A nice guy starts dating what he thinks is a nice girl, played by Uma Thurman. But she has a secret identity: she's actually superhero G-Girl! Our nice guy then discovers he's falling for a co-worker, and he tries to let G-Girl down gently. Hell hath no fury like a superhero scorned! Rainn Wilson plays the buddy who's a legend in his own mind. And surprise, Eddie Izzard is the supervillain! Kinda silly, but a great deal of fun.

That's all to report for now.

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