The Ole Movie Review Circle

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Sad days for Star Wars?

Has anyone viewed the (again) remade “original” Star Wars trilogy? Do you agree with this take?

I can’t wait for “Revenge of the Sith” (remind anyone of another movie title?), though—we won’t have to suffer extreme disappointment anymore. At least until the next inevitable re-release.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Possible films to watch when seeing America's persepctive on foreigners

Well, a few films already popped into my head. Here goes:

The Siege
--Starring Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, and Bruce Willis. It's an excellent film considering the current status of our country. It favors a little to heavily on the action and not enough on the drama and issues presented in the film, but it still does a good job of addressing terrorism in the U.S. and possible reactions.

True Lies
--Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. An action comedy featuring villains who are Middle Eastern terrorists.

UHF
--Starring "Weird" Al Yankovic. While it may be intentional, one of the main characters is a distinct Asian stereotype.

Breakfast at Tiffany's
--Starring Audrey Hepburn. I imagine this classic is still popular enough to find in most movie rental stores. It features Mickey Rooney playing an Asian landlord, and quite frankly, is the one reprehensible part of the film because of its extreme parody of Asians.

Good Morning Vietnam
--Starring Robin Williams. A hilarious, and very well done drama that illustrates the conflict between the Americans and Vietnamese fighting that war.

Mulan
--Disney's version of the fabled Asian legend of a female becoming a warrior and leading her people to victory. All while singing, of course.

Finally, I'd love to see someone tackle Big Trouble in Little China. It's a cult classic, and a strange combination between a cheesy martial arts film and an American comedy. It stars Kurt Russell, and is probably one of the most bizarre films to come out of the 80s.

Friday, September 17, 2004

US foreign relations in film

One of Erica’s colleagues is having her highschoolers write movie reviews pertaining to US foreign policy and how movies portray other peoples. This is especially pertinent since the US dominates the movie market—US corporations produce around 90% of movies on the market today.

So I’m soliciting recommended viewing for this project. The one stipulation is that the movies should be readily available at the local Blockbuster or other standard neighborhood video shop (i.e., “classics” or recent releases). Please comment to this post with your suggestions (other than those on the list below), and I’ll forward the link to the appropriate parties.

Here is the preexisting list of movies (and some of these are hard to find): Three Kings, Black Hawk Down, Wag the Dog, Air America, South Pacific, The Killing Fields, Romero, Beyond Rangoon, The Year of Living Dangerously, The Quiet American, Green Card, Mississippi Masala, Barcelona, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Coming to America, Gung Ho, and Salvador. To this list I add The Three Amigos, The Bourne Identity, and The Magnificent Seven.

Have at it, everyone.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Symbols in movie titles

I guess this is more about HTML than about movies, but Blogger won’t let me use the <code> tag in comments, so oh well.

Want to write “i ♥ huckabees”? Take advantage of character entity references. Replace heart with either &#9829; or &hearts;. Feel cool because you can write the title as it’s being promoted.

To make this more movie-relevant, i ♥ huckabees does look promising.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Other good soundtracks

I just wanted to put my two cents in about a couple other good soundtracks lately. One is Collateral. It's a great soundtrack that really complements the movie. It ranges from jazz to rock to techno, and all the tracks fit perfectly into the film. Granted, it also happens to have one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists, Audioslave. I always thought the song would work well in a movie, and, apparently, Mr. Mann agreed.

As for other soundtracks, of course, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is amazing. It's replaced The Empire Strikes Back as my favorite soundtrack. I also highly recommend the Master and Commander soundtrack.

Finally, another old favorite of mine is Conan the Barbarian. I watched the film again and realized how much I truly enjoy the movie. It's a great fantasy tale with startling good effects for its time. The soundtrack is superb, and I think it laid the groundwork for future medieval/fantasy films.

Funny (& sad), because it’s true

The Onion, alas, is spot-on with this Terry Gilliam reference. Poor TG:

A backyard barbecue hosted by director Terry Gilliam was postponed again Sunday due to production delays. “I had a special grill flown in from Fiji, but it took three weeks to figure out how to light it,” Gilliam said of the 20-foot, volcano-shaped propane grill he'd deemed integral to the Tiki-themed event. “Then, just when I had the menu hammered out, Johnny [Depp] got sick, and I had to push the date back again. See, the whole thing was for his birthday in June.” In spite of the continued delays, party guest Elvis Mitchell predicted that the event will be “visually stunning” and “fun.”

I saw Hero last week but have failed to report anything except that it “kicks ass.” I promise to rectify the situation, though, before we have another #1 movie in Mandarin.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Music To My Ears

Though I am usually an avid fan of film soundtracks, I had not picked up any since Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. However, I've recently picked up two that I'm quite enjoying.

First, I highly approve of John Williams' score to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I'm starting to become more and more obsessed with this film, and the inspired soundtrack only helps matters. Who knew you could combine early renaissance instruments (like sackbutts, Erik?), uptempo jazz, waltzes and classic stirring John Williams themes into one unified soundtrack? IMHO, this is the best effort Williams has put out in awhile, and I do hope it's recognized come Oscar time.

Second, I'm quite enjoying the soundtrack to the indie hit Garden State. Movie song soundtracks are usually a hit-and-miss affair, but the music is such an essential part of State that listening to the CD is like taking another trip through the movie. Particularly noteworthy are the efforts by The Shins, Zero 7, and Frou Frou. It occurred to me after seeing the movie that there are some loose similarities in the film to The Graduate, and appropriately, there's even a Simon & Garfunkel tune on the disc. Check it out, and for the love of Natalie Portman, see the movie if you haven't already.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Dukasis, Swayze, AND a Giant Bunny?

OK. I still haven't seen Hero (got vetoed last night). However, I did instead see Donnie Darko for the first time. HELP! I liked it, certainly. And I get that it's supposed to be about mental illness, fate, God, existentialism, and rebellion all in one. But I am also perplexed.

In fact, I am the degree of perplexed which means that I don't even know quite the right questions to ask. [NOTE: I would put SPOILER warnings here, but I can't imagine that reading any "spoilers" about this movie would really make much difference.] I could ask "what happened" plot-wise, for instance. Tangental realities? Did he CHOOSE in the end to go back to the reality in which he died (choosing in general seems important)? Did the movie happen at all -- or is it just an alternative reality OR the fantasies of a sick-ish man? What was the point of the ear-muff girl? Or Patrick Swayze?

Alternatively, I could skip the plot and ask about themes and such. Again, I am at a loss. In fact, I am going to shut up now and ask for help. Has anyone else seen it?

BTW, Ben I am also QUITE excited about I Heart Huckabees -- I've basically already decided that I will love it.