Tuesday, January 17, 2006


In a Nutshell: A fun and entertaining romp, not serious in the slightest, nor is it intended to be. A perfectly pleasant two hours.

Quick Plot: The "semi-true" tale of the legendary lothario and the love of his life.

In Detail: Honestly, there isn't much to say about this film. It is the perfect "cream puff" of a movie. Light, airy, and sweet, with no meat to it whatsoever. I smiled, I laughed, I enjoyed myself. The settings are lovely, the costumes stunning, and the situations are appropriately ridiculous, with a few witty lines for flavor. And one of my personal favorites, Oliver Platt, is his usual over the top self, even if he is virtually unrecognizable, both physically and vocally. Unless you're out of films to see, I wouldn't bother with this one in the theater. It will be just fine on DVD, or better yet, your movie channel of choice. I just wasn't up for anything heavy that night, and this was the perfect confection of a film to suit my tastes at the time.

Will I Buy It? Doubtful.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

In a Nutshell: Excellent! Far and away the best Potter adaptation to date. Probably a bit too scary/intense for little kids, though.

Quick Plot: Harry is entered into the Tri-Wizard Tournament against his will and must compete not only for the glory of the school, but for his very life.

In Detail: I enjoyed this movie so much, which is surprising since I was very afraid of what would happen to such a long book after all of the slicing and dicing to make it fit into a reasonable (i.e. non-Peter Jackson) film length. They did a remarkable job. Other than the disappointment of not getting to see *any* of the Quidditch World Cup beyond the opening ceremonies, which looked astoundingly awesome, virtually all of the cuts made were appropriate and not really missed (I had a couple of small nitpicks, but that is to be expected, and one cut I did like: thank goodness for no S.P.E.W.!). I must say, Ralph Fiennes plays Voldemort with mesmerizing perfection and conviction. *This* is what we all knew a Harry Potter film could be, though it is probably too much for young viewers. I would not take the average 5 or 6 year old to see this film, that's for sure (it is rated PG-13, after all). Great film! I'm looking forward to the next one.

Will I Buy It? YES! I would have said yes anyway, to keep the series going, but this is the first Potter film that I can say without hesitation that I would buy on its own merits as well.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

In a Nutshell: Okay. Glorious attention to detail, beautiful to watch, but I ultimately found it a bit boring.

Quick Plot: Four siblings in war-torn England are sent to the country for safety. There, they find a magical realm within a wardrobe in the spare room, ruled by a white witch who is constantly on guard for the four humans who are foretold to end her reign.

In Detail: By now, I'm sure we *all* know that Disney was presenting this film on two fronts, and I am happy to say that it walked the fine line between the two camps very well with this production (probably helped by the fact that Disney is mainly a distributor in this case, not a major producer in anything but the money department). They did not downplay the obvious Christian overtones, nor did they downplay the magical aspects. They presented the story, both "faces" of it, just as it was portrayed in the book; you may read as much or as little into the parallels as you would like in this wonderfully fantastical world. But given that I have read the book (though it was several years ago), and given that it is a Christian allegory, it was way too predictable. I know, many films are now, and what can I expect from a book as old as this one; I also didn't expect it to stray from the book (that would truly have been sacrilege). It just felt plodding and boring, though I'm not sure how that could have been fixed. (Hey, we all knew the boat sank (Titanic) and Anakin became Vader (Sith), but we still went to see those.) Still, it is a good movie, fine for most children, though some of the witch's creatures might be a bit frightening for sensitive little ones at the "table scene" near the end. The make-up and effects were very well done indeed, and the attention to even the smallest detail is fabulous, but in the end, it just wasn't enough for me. I do look forward to future Narnia installments, though. Perhaps I shall enjoy the ones I have not read a bit more.

Will I Buy It? Not just yet. If I like future installments, then I'll go back and pick this one up.

Memoirs of a Geisha

In a Nutshell: Good. Very beautiful, just not much to it. The book was much more gripping. Would probably have been better if I hadn't read the book.

Quick Plot: Chiyo is sold into slavery as a child. She is sent to geisha school in hopes of recovering the investment in her. Can Chiyo become a famous geisha, wealthy enough to pay her debts and win the man of her dreams?

In Detail: A good movie, just not a great one. Very very beautiful to watch, and you are given plenty of time to look with the slow pace of the film. It is NOT slow in a bad way! Just not action oriented in the slightest, not even the "action scenes;" nothing wrong with that when it is done artfully and intentionally, as is the case here. The casting was suburb! Everyone looked and behaved just as I imagined they would. As I said, it probably would have been better to me had I not read the book. The "reveals" did not have any impact since I knew they were coming; there would have been more play to the heartstrings without the foreknowledge on my part. I will say that I felt sorrier for Hatsumomo in the movie than I did in the book, but not so with Pumpkin. It has been several years since I read the book, but as far as I can recall, it was quite faithful (though admittedly I cannot recall much beyond the major plot points). In all honesty, I was most disappointed in the score. John Williams, Yo Yo Ma, and Itzhak Perlman; what's not to love? I genuinely can't even recall the music at all. Some would say that is the mark of a great movie score, but disappointing from such talented artists. Still, all in all, worth seeing if you like purposefully slow-paced eye candy, but will not lose much on the small screen, I don't think. Not recommended for stereotypical men, as they will most likely be bored out of their skulls.

Will I Buy It? Unlikely.