movies: September 2003 Archives

cgb vs. cinema

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Don't read any further, if you have any desire to see the movie Matchstick Men. Really, I mean it.

I originally thought to try and keep any possible spoilers from this entry, but the problem with even mentioning spoilers is that this tells you from the start that there is something to spoil. And there is. Matchstick Men starts out with all the fixings of a character study, the character in this case being Nicolas Cage as Roy, an obsessive-compulsive, neurosis-laden con man.Unlike most of the trailers, which seemed themselves to obsess about Cage's verbal and physical tics, the movie (and thus Cage) does a decent job of carrying the character off.

This is where we get to the spoil, though, because it's ultimately not a character movie. I wondered early on about how the movie would eventually shake out, and about halfway through, the movie tips you off that it is in fact more plot-driven. Unfortunately, I don't think I was supposed to realize it until much later, and so I watched the second half of the movie knowing how it would play out (with the possible exception of the "one year later..." scene at the very end). There are hints, and once the movie hits its tipping point, everything falls together very quickly and obviously, and it's difficult to maintain any sort of suspension of disbelief. If you see it, you'll probably know exactly what scene I'm talking about.

Unlike The Life of David Gale, another big-name director, trick-plot movie, Matchstick Men is carried off pretty well, for all that the movie became predictable part way through. Scott is a talented director, and Cage, Sam Rockwell, and Alison Lohman (who plays Cage's daughter) manage to overcome the fact that the plot falls apart around them. There was something a little creepy about an actor in her early 20's playing a 14-year old, but then that's also explained by the plot.

So, when the focus is on the characters, it's a pretty good movie. But that movie ends about halfway through, and leads to an offering I'd probably sneak in at matinee...

The Internet Movie Database may be my single most favorite occasional site on the web. I don't visit regularly, but it's got so damn much information on movies, celebs, etc., that I rarely have a question that it can't answer.

So anyhow, when you look up an actor, it shows not only all the projects that person has been involved with, but it also shows his or her future projects. Since you can also search by year, I tried searching for 2005 movies, and to my surprise, learned that there are already 87 movies sufficiently developed to merit notice on the IMDB. With that in mind, I decided to rate the ten most overhyped movies that will appear two summers from now.

My rationale? These movies will never be better than they are right now. Since they're all still in pre-development, each actually still has the potential to live up to the overwhelming hype they will receive. Next year, the trailers will tantalize us, raise our expectations, and then, in the summer of 2005, we'll be treated to the same parade of dreck we see every summer. So, with that in mind...

10. XXX 2
(because one anti-hero movie that ends in an extended smoking advisory isn't enough)

9. Mission Impossible 3
(Umm...plot imperceivable?)

8. Batman 5
(It can't get much worse, can it?)

7. Elektra (aka Daredevil 2: More Eye Candy)
(I predict an Alias renaissance after this movie, from fans desperate to see JG in a show with some modicum of smart)

6. Jurassic Park IV
(Yawnosaurus rex)

5. Superman 341
(I've got an idea: if we take all the fractions of pennies left over when financial transactions are rounded down, and dump them into our own private savings account, maybe we can buy this script and destroy it.)

4. The Lecter Variations
(Yes, it's a Hannibal Lecter prequel, following our favorite cannibal as a teenager. What's next? A series on the WB? )

3. Indiana Jones 4
(What? Another dinosaur movie?)

2. Harry Potter and the Whatever of Something
(Watch Harry and his pals attempt to close the astounding talent gap between themselves and their "supporting cast")

1. Star Wars: Episode III
(Never before in the history of cinema will so much money be spent to produce a story whose every detail we already know, and Lucas will not let a single person over the age of 3 forget for a second that every single plot element foreshadows fiveshadows eightshadows the events of Episodes 4-6. God, it makes me tired already just to think about it.)

Honorable mentions go to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (only because it's not a sequel), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (directed by Tim Burton), and King Kong (directed by Peter Jackson).

Dishonorable mention: Team America, by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The synopsis? "Marionette superheroes fight to end terrorism and put tired celebrities out of their misery." Subscribe to the Dish Network, surf every single channel, and find the channel least likely to ever be watched by anyone. They could run a commercial for Team America at 4:30 a.m. on that channel, and I suspect that this movie will have been overhyped.

If only marionette superheroes would fight to end our misery. 2005, here we come.


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Blog reminded me that I haven't yet mentioned here the scale by which I evaluate movies. Back in the old days of my homepage, I used to keep a running list of the 6-7 most recent movies I'd seen, along with the following rating system, from best to worst:

See it twice
Full price
Rental (or PPV)
Network TV

Not especially original--I'm sure that there are plenty of people who use the same scale--but I've been rating movies thusly for about 15 years, so it's comfy. There are sometimes years that go by without a single "2x" rating, and it's exceedingly rare for me to actually go see a movie that falls into the bottom 2 categories. In the past couple of years, I've taken to occasionally adding genres to the ratings. An action matinee, for example, is a movie that's worth matinee price if you're an action movie fan (like me), but probably less if you're not.

So, anyway, that's my rating system. There'll likely be a quiz on it next week, so be sure to commit it to memory.

Update: We'll be going with a color coding here, with the green light meaning go, and the yellow light barely visible. When I add genres to the ratings, I'll italicize.

Happy Birthday, Blog

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It was one month ago today
That I started blogging every day

Anyways, to celebrate Blog's one month birthday, Blog and I went to go see Once Upon a Time in Mexico, aka Desperado 2, aka El Mariachi 3. Or, as I like to think of it, the Saga of the Third Arm. You'll have to see it to understand that last one, I'm afraid.

Blog was more interested in seeing Cabin Fever ("Catch it!"), but we got to the theatre about 10 minutes late for CF, and 5 minutes early for OUTM, so our decision was made for us by the fact that I showered before we left. Not a great choice, as it turns out.

OUTM is one of those movies that helps demonstrate the fact that more money doesn't necessarily make for a better movie. Rodriguez made El Mariachi for something like $7000; I suspect that OUTM budgeted more than this for Antonio Banderas's hair stylist. There were a lot of characters, most of whom die, sometimes for reasons that actually make sense in the plot. Salma Hayek receives this year's Golden Cameo award--I think every scene she appeared in already appears in the trailers, and yet she was 2nd billing behind Banderas. Every once in a while, there appears to be the makings of a plot, but then a gunfight breaks out. Don't get me wrong: both Blog and I like a good action scene, but we also prefer that characters exit the fight with the same number of arms they started it with. I don't mean guns; I mean literal shoulder-to-wrist arms. Except for that, Johnny Depp's character was not utterly unwatchable. Willem Dafoe, however, was. So was Mickey Rourke.

It wasn't a completely horrible movie, but it was disappointing--I was hoping for better. I felt like matinee price was a little steep for what I eventually got from it. If you liked the first two, OUTM was maybe worth a matinee. Blog rates it a rental, though, and I find it tough to disagree.

On top of all that, they were out of Junior Mints. Blog was not pleased.



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This page is a archive of entries in the movies category from September 2003.

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