The start of the 2005 viewing season. The time to start seeing those films that studios are dumping off at the beginning of a year hoping they die a quick death. It is also the time of year to catch up on those films that got limited release at the tail end of the year before to get Oscar considerations. This month usually has a diverse mix of the good and the bad, not to mention a healthy dose of ugly. On to the list!
Best of the Month: House of Flying Daggers
- Alone in the Dark. I should have known better. Uwe Boll and video game based films, or any film for that matter, don’t go together. Terrible story, acting and effects. Plus who in their right mind casts Tara Reid as a museum curator?? *
- Assault on Precinct 13. Surprisingly good remake of the John Carpenter film. More story to this version, but it is tightly wound and well performed. Fun action/thriller. ***
- Darkness. Awful. The story makes no sense whatsoever, and is inhabited by stupid people. Please, do yourself a favor and do not see this movie. *
- Elektra. Not particularly good, but I still enjoyed it. A sort of spin off of Daredevil finds Jennifer Garner protecting a young child in an ancient mystical battle. More Dolph Lundgren Punisher than Spider-Man. **.5
- Hide and Seek. Buoyed by a strong performance from Dakota Fanning and some passable work from DeNiro, who seems intent on making a good creepy kid movie, the film falters under the weight of a pedestrian script. **
- House of Flying Daggers. Zhang Yimou’s follow up to the incredible Hero is an equally gorgeous epic centered on an ill fated love triangle. Beautiful cinematography and great choreography highlight this movie. ****
- In Good Company. Topher Grace jumps to his first major big screen role teaming with Dennis Quaid and Scarlet Johannessen in this excellent film about office work and relationships. ***.5
- Men Suddenly in Black. Film spoofing the Hong Kong Triads. A group of guys plot to cheat on their wives, which of course backfires. Funny movie. ***
- Million Dollar Baby. Eastwood strikes again making a quietly beautiful film. Not quite as good as many critics suggest, but definitely not to be missed. Great acting and some of the best use of shadows in recent memory. ***.5
- Phantom of the Opera. Great set design. Lavish film reproduction of the stage play. Some of the singing jobs aren’t terribly convincing, but Emmy Rossum steals the show. ***
- Racing Stripes. Fun family film, strikes me as wanting to recreate the magic of Babe. It doesn’t succeed, but it is a film the whole family can enjoy. Entertaining, but ultimately forgettable. **.5
- White Noise. When making a film based on a supposedly “real” thing, you should play by your own rules. You should also make the characters interesting, and have a story that makes sense. Michael Keaton does all he can. **
That wraps up the opening month of the year, nowhere to go but up. Maybe….
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