January 23, 2005

Million Dollar Movie

Last night we got a sitter and went out to dinner and a movie, sans the little phisch. The movie chosen was Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. This being the only of the potential Oscar contenders we’ve seen, I still cannot help thinking that none of the other films stack up to this one. It was simply incredible.

Hilary Swank captured a Golden Globe for her performance, and deserves an Oscar. Likewise for Eastwood and co-star Morgan Freeman. There are few better on-screen duos for dialogue and banter than Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman. The film’s script plays to this strength.

Eastwood received a Best Director nod for Unforgiven, and deserves it again for Million Dollar Baby, but this go-around his performance in front of the camera is worthy of Oscar gold as well. We both had the same thought of “He was great in this movie!” afterwards.

I’d still like to see Sideways and The Aviator, but based on what I’ve read, the trailers I’ve seen, et al, I don’t think they or Closer or whatever else gets nominated (Academy Award nominations are released on the 25th) can touch Million Dollar Baby.

posted by retrophisch at 02:23 PM in movies
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January 17, 2005

Rewriting Precinct 13

So I suppose in the nothing-creative-left-in-our-brains bowels of Hollywood (do you realize how many movies coming out in 2005 are remakes?), if we’re going to remake a film, we simply cannot cast bad guys as bad guys any more. In the original Assault on Precinct 13, the bad guys were a street gang sworn to revenge the deaths of some of their criminal brethren at the hands of police. They plan to do so by taking out the understaffed and soon-to-close Precinct 13.

In the new version, the understaffed and about-to-close precinct that falls under attack seems to be the only plot point making the transition. First, the action moves from Los Angeles to a more snowy clime, made out to be either New York or Chicago. Second, the bad guys bent on taking out those within Precinct 13 are corrupt cops. I guess Hollywood can’t get enough of corrupt cops and rogue military personnel.

Are there corrupt cops and rogue military personnel in real life? Undoubtedly. They are also an extreme minority, as most of those involved in the armed services and law enforcement are every day folks just wanting to serve, do their best, and make it home to their loved ones. You would think, though, from Hollywood’s perspective, that every other officer in blue was on the take and wouldn’t hesitate to erase from the face of the earth anyone who looked askance at him.

Laurence Fishburn’s character in the 2005 remake is a crime lord, temporarily being held in Precinct 13 while a winter storm blows through. The corrupt cops attacking the precinct are in business with the criminal mastermind, and cannot have him testifying against them. Would the action be much different if instead of corrupt cops afraid of being exposed, those attacking the precinct were the crime lord’s minions, bent on recovering their leader? That would certainly change the dynamic between Fishburn’s character and Ethan Hawke’s heroic cop figure. I’m sure there are even real-life examples of something similar, if one was to look hard enough. (Surely not an all-out attack on an entire police precinct, though there are examples of just that right now in Iraq.)

But when was the last time you heard about an entire SWAT team taking down one of their own department’s buildings?

I’m sure the film will be action-packed, but I can’t see it comparing to Training Day as far as corrupt-cop movies go. (And personally, Training Day doesn’t compare to the highly-underrated The Corrupter, which at least offers the hope of redemption.)

posted by retrophisch at 03:32 PM in movies , rant
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January 16, 2005

Sin City

I never got beyond the first few issues of Frank Miller’s Sin City, but I always thought it was an outstanding comic. I’ve long been an admirer of Miller’s work, notably on Daredevil and Batman. I was very pleased to see that Robert Rodriguez is helming the film version, and it appears Miller is deeply involved with the project. The trailer is great, and what a cast!

posted by retrophisch at 10:24 PM in fun and games , movies
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November 01, 2004

Lost in No Plotline

So a couple of months ago, our TiVo recorded Lost in Translation. This was one of those critically-acclaimed films we were not able to see in the theater, being the parents of a prematurely-born child. My wife was thrilled when she saw the DVR had saved this movie, and eventually she watched it without me.

I finished watching it today. Please allow me to give you a quick review, in case, like me, you were curious about the film and have not yet gotten around to seeing it.

What a waste of celluloid.

Here’s the plot: Sofia Coppola wanted to make a movie that’s shot in Tokyo, and a little in Kyoto, show off the beauty of Japan, a little in its countryside, but mostly in its urban areas. To sell it to a studio for distribution, she discovered that her name alone wasn’t enough to foster such tripe onto an unsuspecting, movie-going public, and she was forced to hammer out a pathetic excuse for a script that essentially has Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson sitting around for half the movie, gazing forlornly out the windows of their hotel, feeling sorry for themselves with the whole “stranger in a strange land” vibe that everyone on this planet has felt at one time or another, and no, we weren’t particularly fond of it then so why do we have to be reminded of it yet again?

The one scene with any real humor in it, the whiskey photo shoot featuring Murray’s character Bob Harris, was so overplayed during all of the film’s promotion that I didn’t crack a smile once. I know the movie is not a comedy, but the script clearly calls for moments of humor, again, noting the “stranger in a strange land” cliche previously mentioned.

The film’s only saving grace is a lot of footage of Ms. Johansson’s Charlotte moping around her hotel suite in her underwear. I know that in our “modern” society, sex sells, but I thought Ms. Coppola was attempting a great piece of cinematic art, not Cinemax-grade soft porn.

Bob’s in a mid-life crisis. Charlotte, thirty years his junior, has been married to a rock-star photographer for two years, and doesn’t know what she wants to do in her life. Hell, I’m about to turn thirty-four, I got laid off last year from quite possibly the best job I’ve ever had, am still unemployed, and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. Not a lot of sympathy on my end for poor ol’ Charlotte!

We’re supposed to feel sorry for Bob and Charlotte, but I found myself continuously hitting the fast-forward button. There’s little dialogue, which is on purpose, and what dialogue there is in the film is nothing to hold up as quality writing and production. The audience is even excluded, in a scene widely hailed by the critical press, from what Bob whispers in Charlotte’s ear in the final scene.

I’d like this hour and a half of my life back, please. With interest.

posted by retrophisch at 04:15 PM in movies
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October 20, 2004

ROTK Special Edition DVD coming in December

The other piece of good news I got this evening: Amazon is reporting that the Super Duper, Packed to the Gills, We’ve Crammed Everything We’ve Previously Missed, Platinum Series Special Extended Edition DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will be released on December 14th. Readers, friends and family will note my birthday is eleven days prior, but I will gladly accept gifts at any time. ;-)

posted by retrophisch at 11:35 PM in movies
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