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Film Roundup IX

Still sick. Still have visitors. Still broke. I really want to see Horton Hears a Who and Run, Fat Boy, Run, and I’m vaguely interested in 21. We’ll see which, if any, I make it out to see in the days and weeks ahead. I may not get to a theater until Leatherheads comes out in April. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Patriot Games – 84%

CIA analyst Jack Ryan finds himself in the right place at the right time while vacationing in England, and thwarts an attempted assassination of a British royal by the IRA. Unfortunately, his actions make him and his family the group’s next target. This, in my opinion, is the lesser of the two Harrison-Ford-as-Jack-Ryan Clancy adaptations. Then again, they’re both a cut above the others. This is a smart, solid early-90s American action movie, and may well be some of the best the genre had to offer before Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne burst onto movie screens a decade later.

Faust – 98%

Brilliant, amazing work of German silent cinema by master filmmaker F.W. Murnau. This adaptation of the German literary masterpiece was his last German film before he moved to Hollywood. His very next project was Sunrise, which would win one of the first two Academy Awards for Best Picture. With guys like Murnau around, it’s surprising the film world felt that it needed sound at all. Not to be missed.

Strictly Ballroom – 34%

An odd couple fights to win an ultra-competitive Australian dancing championship. I am willing to concede the very real possibility that I just didn’t get this Aussie flick by director Baz Luhrmann, who would eventually go on to make Moulin Rouge! (a favorite of mine). I thought it was unnecessarily broad in a grotesque, silly and totally off-putting way. The characters were freaks, and the plot was far too thin to justify even its hour-and-a-half runtime.

Much Ado About Nothing – 92%

Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in an adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s sharpest verbal comedies, squaring off against Emma Thompson in the female lead. This is probably the best bit of Branagh Shakespeare that I have seen to date, with a rich supporting cast that includes Denzel Washington, Brian Blessed and Michael Keaton. Even Keanu Reeves, bizarrely cast as the surly villain, can’t spoil the fun. The opening battle of insults between Beatrice and Benedick and Benedick’s pivotal “The world must be peopled!” monologue alone are worth your trouble.

Uptown Girls – 80%

Brittany Murphy is the childish daughter of a rock star who has fallen on hard times and finds herself forced to get a job, in this case as nanny to Dakota Fanning as an ultra-precocious 8-year old. They teach each other many important lessons in very touching ways, and it all turns out quite happily in the end. Don’t watch this one alone, find a female to watch it with (regardless of your gender). Keep a box of Kleenex handy for her.

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~ by Jared on March 21, 2008.

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