Film Roundup V

I’ve been out sick since Wednesday, and while I’m still not feeling the best, I’m tired of doing nothing. Naturally I didn’t feel up to seeing a movie on Friday for review . . . “Oh, how convenient!” you say to yourself. He’s too “sick” to go to the movies on the bridge weekend between January and February. Well, yes. I agree . . . most convenient. I don’t know what the groundhog said yesterday, but it’s still winter in the multiplex for sure. On Friday, the new choices were: juvenile comedy starring Steve Zahn (Strange Wilderness), ghostly rom-com starring Eva Longoria (Over Her Dead Body), and the latest Asian horror rip-off starring Jessica Alba (The Eye). Brrr. Hardly the cure for what ails me.

AntiTrust – 72%

Released in the midst of Microsoft’s monopoly-related judicial woes several years ago, I can only presume this movie was meant to provide hip, topical, and highly-conspiratorial entertainment. Milo Hoffman (Ryan Phillipe, who, no offense, looks like no computer programmer I’ve ever seen) lands his dream job at NURV, a cutting-edge software company run by Bill G- err, “Gary Winston” (Tim Robbins). However, things are not as they seem, and as NURV draws closer to the launch date for Synapse, a global communication network, Milo finds himself caught in a web of all sorts of nefarious, cut-throat goings-on with no way to know who he can trust. A friend who would know told me the screenwriters got programming right on this movie, for which he gave it mad props. They didn’t do too badly on entertaining and suspenseful story-telling, either . . . although ultimately the final round of plot twists goes a bit overboard. Nevertheless, it’s a mindlessly entertaining thriller sure to satisfy the geekily-inclined.

Seven Samurai – 74%

Much-lauded (and imitated) Japanese classic about a group of unemployed samurai who band together to save a village from marauding bandits, by master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. Don’t get me wrong, I love Kurosawa. Rashomon is one of my favorite movies . . . but at three and a half hours, Seven Samurai just plain outlasted me when I saw it. It struck me as too slow and too rough to be truly enjoyable, but I’ll readily admit it deserves a second viewing (someday) before I consign it to the pile of “just not my taste.”

Simon Birch – 71%

Joe (Joseph Mazzello of Jurassic Park) is an illegitimate child, little Simon Birch (Ian Michael Smith) is a dwarf, convinced that God has an important purpose for him. Outcasts together in their small town in 1964, they have a happy friendship until Simon hits the ball that kills Joe’s mother in a freak accident. The two set out together to find out who Joe’s real father is, and despite the tragedy, God may still have a purpose for Simon Birch. A bizarre mix of raunchy coming-of-age comedy and religious heartwarming nostalgia, Simon Birch is every bit as odd as it sounds. And the wild attempt to bring it all together in the climax feels extremely forced. As one critic pointed out, “If Simon’s fate inspired me to believe in God, I’d also be inspired about a second later to hate him.” It just doesn’t quite work, although it is occasionally quite fun along the way.

When Harry Met Sally – 88%

Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) meet just after graduating from college and build a no-strings-attached friendship that lasts for many years before romance enters the equation. Romantic comedies are, obviously, not really my genre, but this one has a certain disarming charm. Maybe it’s the lack of an overly-cute plot or the fondness for its characters or the weird little intermissions with old couples. I dunno, but it’s one of those movies that’s easy to like and pleasant to watch, even if you just flip to it while you’re channel-surfing.

Father of the Bride – 78%

No, not the original with Spencer Tracy (which I’m not entirely certain I’ve even seen all the way through!), the Steve Martin remake with Diane Keaton and an even-creepier-than-usual Martin Short. Martin is the overprotective father who provides droll voice-over narration to the zany proceedings surrounding his only daughter’s wedding. I have no sisters and no daughters, so I have very little frame of reference for this one. It has some funny moments, and some cheesy moments, and some touching moments, as you might expect it to. Nothing groundbreaking, but it’s not trying to be, either.

~ by Jared on February 3, 2008.

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