I, Robot (2004)

Will Smith returns once again, around July 4th festivities (that’s “his” weekend, been that for years, right?), to kick some robot butt. The surprise here is that the movie is pretty good, even engaging at some points. Here’s our review.

Three things you need to know right off the bat:

1 – Will Smith’s best acting work was in “Six Degrees of Separation” back in early 90s, when he was still in that sitcom. You know, THAT sitcom. So no matter how hard he tries to “act”, his ego always takes over his charisma and it’s a shame because he has such an expressive face.
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Marlon Brando (1924-2004)

Marlon Brando, who was considered by many the greatest character actor of all time has passed away Thursday. He has won two Oscars, created many unforgettable characters on the big screen, and in his awkward way, never sold out, never gave in to celebrity, fame and fortune. He just acted, and that he did in style.

The media didn’t favor Brando much, he was a private man. He was also an imperfect man in many ways – women, money problems, old scores. In fact just recently there’s been a surge of “reports” on his financial problems. Oh, the infamous celebrity problem announcements. Everyone flocks to the screens to tune in. But just wait until the same media starts the outpouring of sorrow next week … the jackals.

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The Terminal (2004)

So the big Spielberg/Hanks movie is not doing as well as originally expected. Why is this happening – the movie got great reviews, and the star power is attractive. What went wrong? Here’s a few ideas that have crossed my mind as I watched “The Terminal” this past weekend.

Right off the bat, I admit I’m a Spielberg junkie. I may not know his birthday or the names of his kids, but I really love most of the movies he makes, and have been caught defending failures like “Amistad” and “A.I.” Why? Because he’s a man with a vision, who just happens to be very successful, and allows that success to blur his vision from time to time. I can live with the occasional hiccup, as long as it’s followed by stronger, more entertaining film. That’s why I defend Spielberg’s weaker movies – they’re the in-between projects that still make for good entertainment, just nothing extraordinary.

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The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

Here’s the best animated film of 2003, which wasn’t even noticed in theaters. Only after a few positive mentions at some film festival, this cartoon got its second life. Now it’s out on DVD, and I absolutely must have it.

What a joy it was coming out of a half-empty theater back in the winter of 2004. I just watched this unknown flick, co-produced by France, Belgium, Canada and UK (read: very small budget), and I wanted to sit down and watch its sequel, or prequel, or anything else with so much energy. I don’t know why Disney is preaching the death of 2D animation – with a bit of creativity even stick figures can be entertaining. Not so say this movie involves stick figures. Quite the opposite – it combines some 3D shots, some b/w animation, and a few tricks, but at its heart, it’s a good old hand-drawn animation.

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Bon Voyage (2003)

Movies like this one rarely get the attention they deserve. It’s not just the “European” stigma and low budget. It’s not the “tough to read” subtitles. I think it’s mainly because the movie is unusual, and therefore, difficult to sell, and even more difficult to digest. Not to say it’s a heavy movie. Not at all. It’s just an atypical experience.

I saw this movie about 7 months ago, at the Toronto Film Festival (love the city, love the festival, wish more people came here and discovered it for themselves). Sorry ‘about the plug – the film fest is an annual tradition for me, and seeing any of these movies picked up for major distribution is always a pleasure. Especially if a movie is not a “sure bet”, and not a crowdpleaser.
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Hellboy (2004)

Another comic book adaptation is brought to the big screen. It’s not a familiar Marvel universe, and things are definitely not “been there, seen that”. Still, the unusual casting, the direction, and quirky geek references make this a worthy entry.

It seems that every comic book out there longs to get on the big screen, open with $50 million, and gain thousands of new readers over the weekend. Sometimes, this works (remember how quickly “Superman” got to $200 million), very rarely it works again (“X-men United” was well-received and it made decent dough). With “Hellboy”, however, I’m a little torn. I would like the saga to continue, and am impressed by character development, but it seems the writers have ended up in a corner. The movie spends so much time establishing the characters and setting up the first showdown (all good by me), by the time it’s over, there’s no setup for the sequel.

Let me restate that – “Hellboy” is open-ended, but there’s no looming conflict there, to threat. We just know the adventures will continue, but have no clue about the villains, only the existing conflicts between the characters. Then again, having never read the comic book, maybe these conflicts are at the core of Hellboy, and the villains are on the side. In this case, the movie worked.

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Jim Carrey in yet another serious role? Kirsten Dunst in a dramatic turn? A film with no specific narrative, and no standard timeline? You probably think that it’s one of those “art” movies that are going to go over your head, have all the critics salivate for a few months, get a few awards and be forgotten. You might be wrong.

What a movie! What a script! Regardless of how much money this flick will make at the box office, it’s one great achievement. And, to make things even more interesting, let me tell you right away, this is a very “accessible” movie. Not dumbed down, but rather, presented in such a way that you can view it as a love story, or as a study of human nature’s futility. The movie works on many levels, and you’re not required to “get” everything in order to come out of the theater feeling satisfied and entertained.
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Miserable Sex and the City

OK, I admit it. I was one of those gals that went to a series-finale-of-Sex-and-the-City party. There were lots of single gals there, who loved the show. And we drank lots cosmopolitan martinis, tried to talk frankly about sex, and tried to wear the funkiest things we had in our closets. Needless to say, I really was looking forward to series finale of Sex and the City, and was really disappointed by the ending…

I was not disappointed because the series ended, but the way it ended. There was so little of the show I fell in love with on the screen that evening. And it was especially disappointing because just before the finale, we watched the interviews with the cast and the crew, and the clip job of past seasons. We were reminded why we all liked the show–all the outrageous conversations that the four women had, all the men that they had been with and then had to let go for various reasons, all those designer gowns…. There was so much build up, but it all went down the drain at the last episode unraveled.
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Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason (2004)

If I could sum it up in one comment, I can say that it’s not a ‘reasonable’ movie. This sequel to the first Bridget Jones is, for the most part, a re-hash of the original Bridget formula but made to look different. Those who saw Bridget Jones’ Diary can easily spot the similarities between the two.

But there one major difference between the two, and it’s not positive for the second Bridget movie. The first movie showed Bridget as clumsy and accident-prone, but very intelligent too. That’s what made the character of Bridget engaging and, at the time, classify Bridget as ‘Everywoman’. In the second, Bridget is less intelligent and very ditzy in her thinking and talking. Very often she embarrasses herself and others. It’s like whoever did the script for the sequel didn’t take into account the intelligence of the first. I was very disappointed. Continue reading “Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason (2004)”

Why does everybody love Raymond?

I have a friend. Let’s call him Bob. Bob is a single male who comes from an Anglo-Saxon/Austrian background and he hates Everybody Loves Raymond. Then again he didn’t get My Big Fat Greek Wedding either. I understand why.

He sees nothing in common with these people. He never had to deal with “the guilt” or “you look so pale, eat something” comments. He never had to balance kids, work, home, parents, and in-laws. He doesn’t get why every other show Raymond (Ray Romano) begs for sex and it’s funny. Or Marie (Doris Roberts) insults Debra’s (Patricia Heaton’s) cooking and Debra looks past it as if she didn’t hear it. He doesn’t hear his own voice of reason when Debra speaks. He doesn’t see his own siblings in Robert’s (Brad Garrett’s) constant struggle for approval. Bob doesn’t understand Frank’s (Peter Boyle’s) acidic remarks. And he won’t.

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