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Really Short Movie Reviews, Part 1

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The Good (But Not Great)
In theory, American men hate guys like Hugh Grant because American women love them, with their accents and twinkling eyes. I happened to really like him in Notting Hill, and not just because I like Julia Roberts (which is why my wife hates her). I also liked him in Mickey Blue Eyes. Yeah, the plot is a little thin, but it works. The setup requires Hugh Grant’s character to be a bumbling idiot, but he happens to play the character like a bumbling idiot, so you can believe he’d fall into the trap. The plot twists won’t have anybody jumping out of their seats in surprise, and the movie plays heavily on mafia stereotypes, but again, it works. Jeanne Tripplehorn does a great job, and I watched it twice.

I’ve never been a big fan of lawyer movies. In fact, I’m not quite sure why I ever watch them. The plot is always the same: An lawyer takes a case fighting against a big corporation that’s beating down on the little people. The stakes rise as his personal life is sacrificed for the case, and everybody sides with the corporation to slant the case against him. In the end, justice is served in a poignant way, though not as well as we know it should have been since the big nasty corporations control everything. And so it is with A Civil Action. At least this movie tries to be slightly non-formulaic and realistic, in that the lawyer takes the case only for the money at first. In movieland, all lawyers sue big corporations for justice, and it’s not about the money. I can’t give away the ending, since I recommend the movie, but it doesn’t exactly follow the formula of lawyer loses first, then wins. Some part of my brain somewhere keeps crying out that there was a lot more to the story depicted in this movie, and there was, but we all know, or should know, that nothing in the movies is ever accurate. Who cares? It’s a pretty good movie, moving and interesting.

Raising Arizona is just plain weird. In a good way. It’s a Coen brothers movie, so you should know the kind of weird I mean. Stranger than Fargo, maybe, but not quite as abruptly strange as The Hudsucker Proxy. In fact, were it not for the (I think deliberate) confusion about the bounty-hunter-from-hell-or-is-he, the only real weirdness would have been when the father of the quintuplets walked out of the bedroom as Hi and Ed were… Well, I won’t give it away, but it’s fun. Don’t worry too much about the plot holes, just sit back and enjoy yourself. John Goodman, who has starred in quite a few of the Coen brothers’ films, is excellent in this one.

I don’t know why Titan A.E. failed miserably in the theaters. I don’t understand why I now have to defend the movie against criticism. It is a wonderful movie! I think that the biggest problem with it was marketing. Granted, it’s pretty hard to market a “cartoon” to adults, or a PG-rated cartoon to kids, but it should have been done. The quality of the animation is incredible and superb, and I loved watching it. Even on my first time through the movie, I had to repeat a couple of scenes just because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The plot may be a bit simple for hard-core science fiction fans (which I am), but it also isn’t so complex that it leaves the next generation of fans out in the cold. This movie’s faults all fall into that gap between a kids movie and a grown-up movie, and it is that attempt at a dual nature that keeps this from being a great film beginning to end.

The Bad
First, a movie I didn’t finish watching. I usually like accents and cute foreign movies, but I fell asleep during Waking Ned Devine, twice. The third night, as I tried again to start up where I had nodded off the night before, I finally gave up. The movie was just too slow and boring. Sorry.

Bringing Out The Dead compressed three days in the life of an EMS driver into two hours of mostly boredom. Martin Scorcese is a master of the cinematic arts, I hear, and so obviously the problem lies with me. Excellent camera work, fancy fireworks (in the most confusing of many boring scenes), and what is probably supposed to be an artsy slice-of-life script just don’t add up for me. Maybe it’s a generational thing.

I think that the only reason that Eye Of The Beholder was made is that it probably read well. It would make a much better book than movie, because in a book (and maybe in the script) we would have some explanation of what on earth was going through the characters’ minds. Watching the movie, all we got was sad faces, scared faces, and pouty faces. These were probably supposed to convey some deep meaning. They didn’t.

[ This was Part 1 of a two-part essay. Part 2 of this article features The Ugly part of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, plus a bonus section of movies that Should Have Been Better. ]

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