Sunday, May 25, 2003
Written by Steve Koren, Mark O'keefe, Steve Oedekirk
Directed by Tom Shadyac
Reviewed by Mil Peliculas
Can you believe I stooped to that goofy “play on words” review title that often plagues those other movie reviewers? What is happening to me? Ah, screw it. The important thing is, that funny S.O.B. seems to have done it again. My jaw was sore from laughing at Bruce Almighty.
Jim Carrey’s latest comedy is about a goofy TV news reporter who’s mad at the world after he’s passed over for the News Anchor job that he so desperately wanted at his TV station. So mad that he seems to forget about the great life he has with his girlfriend, so mad that he directs his attention to God, whom he accuses of doing a crappy job. This time, God (Morgan Freeman) decides to fight back, temporarily giving Bruce his job while he takes a vacation.
Jennifer Anniston is great as Bruce’s live-in girlfriend, the aptly named “Grace,” and the rest of the cast is dead-on too. All pistons seem to be firing in this one. Although I did not actually read the script, I can tell it was extremely well-worked. No stone was left unturned, as they say. And why shouldn’t it be? The writers are seasoned veterans who’ve banged around the comedy trenches for years. We’re talking Seinfeld, Newsradio, SNL, Politically Incorrect, The Late Show with David Letterman, trust me, your funny bone is in good hands.
If you give any thought to the set-up I just laid out, you can tell that Bruce is probably going to screw things up pretty badly, maybe lose the girl, maybe get the girl back, all that jazz, learn a few things about himself, but this film reminded me of why Hollywood still makes the best movies, yeah, I talk a lot of trash, but we got the world’s number as far as movies go. How’s that? By telling a story you’ve seen a hundred times, with an ending you’ve seen a hundred times, teaching characters lessons they’ve learned a hundred times, but making it completely fresh, moving, and most importantly: FUNNY.
I drove up to The Wood to see this one (not Inglewood, Hollywood that is), at the Grove, off of Fairfax, and I had a while to ruminate on the way home to my secret underground compound in Long Beach, and I thought that this movie might have parallels to Jim Carrey, the man. You see, Bruce is a wacky news guy who thinks he wants to be a respected, serious news anchor, but his real talent lies with making people laugh as the wacky news reporter, and he was great at it. If any of you saw the The Majestic (not a bad movie, mind you, but it was syrupy enough for a truck load of pancakes) which was his foray into a more straight, dramatic role, you might have found yourself wishing Jim would concentrate on doing what he does best, and it’s no small feat, putting smiles on millions of faces who need one. Maybe he’s gotten that serious anchor man out of his system, frankly, they’re a dime a dozen, but true gut-busters like Jim Carrey don’t grow on trees.
Thou hast Mil's blessing to see this one.
Don’t forget to check out The Masked Movie Snobs website…
Posted by DW Smith at Sunday, May 25, 2003
Friday, May 23, 2003
THE MATRIX: RELOADED
Written and Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski
Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne
Carrie Anne Moss, and best of all MONICA BELLUCCI.
Reviewed by Mil Peliculas
I wanted to wait until I’d seen Matrix: Reloaded again before I reviewed it, but I don’t know when that will be; besides, there’s others I want to see once before I see that one twice. I saw Reloaded last Wednesday night with a big, unruly crowd of low-brows at the Big Newport. I usually write my reviews as I’m doing laundry, so as you might surmise, I’m down to my Nehru jacket and parachute pants as I sit down to write this review, the laundry is spinning right now.
Let’s get to it. Let’s talk about Matrix: Reloaded. Do I think it is a worthy successor to the first film? Well, why not? I’m not a huge fan of the Matrix movies, but they do score high on “style” and the story does have its interesting points. The thing that keeps me from diving in and putting on a black trench coat and frame-only sunglasses is that the characters really aren’t all that engaging. Matrix: Reloaded carries on that tradition. I’m sorry, Neo is just a boring guy. Maybe it’s Keanu’s overly sedate performance, or Carrie Anne Moss’s equally overly sedate performance that keeps me at arm’s length. I like a hero that I’d want to have a beer with, or even give a hug to in times of need, like Wolverine, I can hang with Wolverine. Neo? If Neo just came in from out of town and I hadn’t seen him in five years, I’d probably make up some excuse why I couldn’t see him. I don’t dislike him, it’s just—what’s to like?
There might be one or two of you who is not hip to the Matrix films. It takes place in the future, where machines have taken over the world and decided that they needed our body heat to power themselves—using us for batteries as it were, in a very clever way. They harvest us like plants in giant synthetic wombs growing in fields like corn, then they stick us in a pod and feed us intravenously while plugging our brains into a giant virtual cyber world (The Matrix) that is indistinguishable from the one we remember as earth. There is, however, an underground movement of humans who have seen the “truth” and “unplugged” themselves from this fake reality. The cool thing is they can go back in when they want to and because they know it’s a giant program, are capable of superhuman feats of strength and gymnastics.
Laurence Fishburn is great as the mysterious Morpheus, and leads a group of rebels in search of “The One,” meaning The One who will release the humans from bondage: a savior. Morpheus comes to think that Neo (Reeves) is “The One” and yada yada yada, turns out he is The One. Neo and a female character, Trinity, fall in love with each other in the process, and at the end of the first movie, Neo is able to “see” the Matrix for what it is, and achieves a kind of control that no one else seems to be able to have, including the bad guys, who are actually “programs” and far more powerful than any human who’s jacked-in to the Matrix unknowingly. The first movie had some interesting religious imagery as well, including a scene where Neo stops a bunch of bullets in the air, and they tinkle on the ground at his feet, reminding one of the story of the Buddha, who did the very same thing just after achieving enlightenment, only he did it with a volley of arrows and turned them into lotus petals.
So on to this second movie. Reloaded really has the feel of a “middle” movie that’s setting up a third movie, and it has a bit of trouble standing on its own for me. Neo and Trinity develop their relationship a little further in this film, which means they stare blankly at each other for a good half an hour, and have sex in a scene that really made my “what the hell?” alarm go off. Get this: we get to see Zion, which was talked about in the first movie, and is populated by people who have either freed themselves from the Matrix or were born free. It’s an underground city that basically looks like a mish-mash of a lot of other movies where there are underground cities or civilizations. It was reminding me of Logan’s Run, The Time Machine, or maybe At The Earth’s Core perhaps. Cheesy 70’s fare, and who should appear as the “man in charge” of Zion but Anthony Zerbe, remembered best by me as the leader of the night people in Omega Man. The guy oozes cheese, okay, but that in and of itself does not necessarily portend disaster for a movie, I like cheese, I like kitsch, but the problem is this movie takes itself so damned seriously, you just have to laugh.
Back to the “what the hell?” love scene (one of many “what the hell?” scenes on this film). Morpheus addresses the people of Zion decked out in a leathery vest, shirtless, and tells them that the machines are tunneling down to kill them all. But hey, we’re gonna fight them, cuz dammit, this place is worth fighting for! And all that. And the next scene intercuts between a lame love scene between Neo and Trinty, and this incredibly bizarre “rave” style groping party among the people of Zion. Lengthy shots of people dancing and fondling each other sweating, writhing…everything but preparing for the horror that awaits them only hours away. It was a major speed-bump. PLus the love-scene only features a far-off shot of Keanu's arse, and pretty much nothing of Trinity.
There’s also an incredibly half-assed attempt to build a love triangle between Morpheus, Commander Locke (who’s in charge of the fighting forces of Zion) and new female character, Niobi, played by Jada Pinkett-Smith. We find out that Niobi used to be with Morpheus, but is now with Locke. But Locke is such a load that it’s completely unbelievable that any woman in her right mind would choose that guy over Fishburne.
Neo continues in his quest to fulfill the prophecy and free humanity from the Matrix, meeting more interesting characters including The Keymaker, and The Architect of the Matrix. There is a lot of spectacular action, which will no doubt please the hardcore fans, but for me it all has to be tied in with compelling characters, and that’s where Reloaded doesn’t quite deliver. X-men 2is a vastly superior film because they build a good character foundation. Matrix needs to rely on the flashy stylistic fight-scenes which really are straight out of 80’s John Woo and other Honk Kong action and Japanese Anime films. Style over substance. It’s become the mantra for Hollywood now more than ever it seems. I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s the same lament we’ve been hearing since the 70’s ushered in the Blockbuster. “Forget about story, let’s just cram in everything that people want to see so we can recoup the giant amount of money we sunk into this thing.” And that was said of movies like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, which, by comparison, are dripping with great characters and compelling storylines.
As I watched Reloaded, I had to tune out and just enjoy the spectacle. So, unfortunately when Neo has a real heart-to heart with the “Architect” of the Matrix, I had trouble getting back into it, pages and pages of complicated expository dialog, I had already tapped out earlier, then I was asked to invest more thought into a story involving characters that I find uninteresting. But that’s just me. There are some exhilarating moments in the film, and I do plan on catching it again in order to fill in some of the blanks left by the somewhat confusing dialog. And stay through the credits because there’s a preview of the next Matrix film which is due out in a few months.
for more reviews, go to The Masked Movie Snobs website!
Posted by DW Smith at Friday, May 23, 2003
Monday, May 12, 2003
Written by Doug Jung
Directed by James Foley
Reviewed by Mil Peliculas
Some movies are just cool. And some movies constantly have to tell you they are trying to be cool. And, while not completely blowing it, Confidence falls into the second category.
Confidence is one of those “Con” movies where all the street-smart guys know all the angles and are way smarter than everyone else. Ed Burns plays Jake Vig, a young con artist who fortuitously gets involved with a larger but still small-time hoodlum named “The King,” played by Dustin Hoffman. Jake has inadvertently stolen money from the King and aims to pay it back by helping him to pull a con on a bigger fish named Morgan Price, played by Robert Forster. Andy Garcia makes an appearance as a Federal Agent on Jake’s trail, and it also features Donal Logue and Luis Guzman (a.k.a “the ugliest man in the world”) as two corrupt LAPD Detectives. Don’t believe me about Luis Guzman? Check out The Count of Monty Cristo and tell me that guy ain’t scary as hell. I’d take Robert Davi over that guy any day. And let’s not forget, one of the most painfully sexy women in film today, Rachel Weisz, who doesn’t have much to do other than look cute and play the “femme fatale”, but she does have some moments to shine.
It’s no doubt due to James Foley’s seasoned guidance that this movie does not derail itself into something unwatchable. The fairly complicated plot is handled well for the most part, but it may be Ed Burns, who is a capable actor in my book, but he's trying SO DAMNED HARD to be super cool, that just makes it kind of NOT cool. Can we talk about cool movies for a moment? Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs are cool movies. Sunset Boulevard is a cool movie, Seven Samurai is a cool movie, Out of the Past is a cool movie. Cool movies, like cool people, cannot sit there and tell you how cool they are and still be cool. Part of being cool is just not caring if your cool or not. That’s what Confidence has a problem with, it keeps winking at you as if to say, “This movie’s cool, ain’t it."
Like I said, the plot is dense, and well-managed, but anyone who’s seen his share of “con” movies…The Sting, The Grifters, House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner—or any of the good heist movies—you know what to expect. Hmm, whatever is supposed to be in that box, probably ain’t in that box.. Or that guy who just got shot probably is not really dead, that kind of thing. There are lots of twists, but I was one step ahead of them generally, not two or three steps, just one. I’m not the sort of viewer who tries to figure things out ahead of time. But I think there was only one obvious twist that I didn’t see coming, and it wasn’t all that big. As for dialog, it doesn’t go over the top with the grifter shop-talk like Mamet’s Heist did, just enough to get the idea that these guys know their stuff. But the dialog is surprisingly uninspired I think. Not many memorable lines. Not that you need that every time out of the box, but when you think James Foley, you think, PUT THE COFFEE DOWN!…COFFEE IS FOR CLOSERS…YOU SEE THIS WATCH? THIS WATCH COSTS MORE THAN YOUR CAR…WHO AM I? I MADE 900 THOUSAND DOLLARS LAST YEAR, THAT’S WHO THE FUCK I AM!
Well, none of that going on in Confidence. But hey, I’ve seen worse.
Posted by DW Smith at Monday, May 12, 2003
Thursday, May 08, 2003
MIL AND HIS IDOL IN NEW YORK CITY
Posted by DW Smith at Thursday, May 08, 2003