I've always liked movies. There's something exciting about the whole process of seeing a movie. It's a gestalt wholeness, more than just the sum of the lousy seating, the lukewarm popcorn covered in butter-analog. It's, well, it's magical. If it wasn't, what would be the point of me forking over near $10 Canadian (or $5 tuesdays, $6.50 matinees or anywhere from $2 - $4 for second run showings) to go and sit in a dark theatre to watch images flicker on a screen? I could reasonably simulate the same process at home -- but I don't, 'cause it just isn't the same.
Thing I've discovered is that movies are a lot more fun in groups (alright, alright, call me a slow learner). There's a lot more interactivity and shared states of consciousness... I mean, watching Jurassic Park by yourself is nowhere near as much fun as going with someone else and having to hold on to each other in terrified fright... [ right, Amanda? =) ]
After a helluva lot of searching, I finally found the one page in all the web which has a relatively complete guide to the films now playing in various moviehouses in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (or at least the parts of Vancouver covered by the Georgia Strait's movie reviewer/update staff).
I've been maintaining this page semi-compulsively, just to remind myself of what the heck I actually ended up paying to see, and how I liked it.
Well, anyway, it's been a busy year. Lots of stuff seen since the last time I updated this page. I can no longer remember the relevant details, but I'll go through my ticket stubs and see what I can dredge up...
Summer's rapidly approaching, and therefore the summer blockbuster season is nigh upon us. Thanks to the newly revamped Tuesday Night Movie Club listserver, getting ahold of everyone who wants to come and catch a flick after work is even easier than ever. The list is now led by the most able Scott Thompson (no, not that Scott Thompson), so this summer's movies have had a more action-ish orientation to them. Occasional factions arose in the quest for movie choices, and below are those movies that I ended up seeing with either some, or all (or, in a few cases, with none) of the TNMC.
- Sliding Doors. Weird love story with a twist and a surprise ending. It's got Gwyneth Paltrow in it (or two Gwyneth Paltrows, relatively speaking).
Likes: Weird-ass but fun story. Gwyneth Paltrow. Load of comedy bits.
Dislikes: Somewhat silly in places. And the weird bit with the rewind as she walks down the stairs. That could probably have been handled differently to the same effect.
- The Spanish Prisoner. Oh. My. God. What a great movie. I'm going to have to see this again. And, the bummer is, I can't say anything about the movie to those who haven't seen it yet, 'cause the fewer preconceptions you have going into it, the better you'll like it. But trust me, it's damn good.
Likes: Steve Martin. Campbell Scott. Rebecca Pidgeon. David Mamet's excellent scripting and direction. Beautiful use of themes. Wonderful setting. I could ramble on forever, but you get the idea.
Dislikes: Some silliness exists, especially in that one scene in the airport lineup... and with the japanese woman at the end... But besides that, there ain't much to dislike.
- Deep Impact. Big-ass chunk of dirty ice comes barrelling at high speeds on a collision course with Spaceship Earth. The story deals less with blowing the thing up before it hits, emphasizing instead the conditions of a civilization experiencing the fear of the Last Days, and how to survive them. This is the first time I actually got to go to a sneak preview, so it was pretty special.
Likes: Mimi Leder directing a Speilberg film. Lots of good, tug-at-the-heartstrings moments. Great build-up of tension.
Dislikes: Weird pacing. Less than steller visual effects (gads! from Dreamworks, no less, and I was expecting so much more). And the damn lack of an international presence to the crises... once again, the world is going to be destroyed, but the Americans and token Russian allies will handle it.
- The Truman Show Wow. Talk about your fourth-wall commentaries. It's got it all, Creators and creations, a view of the the American Dream distorted and the story of an everyman (gee, why'd they call him Truman, hmm?).
Likes: Jim Carrey. Good breakout role. But still, as my buddy Jon pointed out, you could name any number of actors who could have fit the role easily. I hate to admit it, but Dumb and Dumber still defines Carrey well. This film does mark the sudden extension of his dramatic boundaries, though.
Dislikes: Weird staging. Awful puns. Oh waitaminute, those are things I liked... Can't think of any dislikes, really.
- A Perfect Murder Dial M redone '90's style, with Gwyneth (sigh) playing the faithless wife and Michael Douglas the venal husband.
Likes: Good acting, nice use of plot twists (having Vigo Mortensen play both lover and killer was an interesting stroke).
Dislikes: I really didn't end up caring for any of the characters. Let 'em die. They're all rather unlikable anyways.
- Bulworth Senior politician snaps during his election campain, goes white-guy a-rapping in the hood, gets it on with Halle Berry and spews out embarrassing truths and social commentary. And there's stuff to do with him hiring an assassin to kill him, which partly facilitates all this.
Likes: Good moments, nice bits of revelation, plus there's the old homeless man making the semantic point about Spirits vs. Ghosts.
Dislikes: In the end, it was a fish out of water movie. A well done fish out of water movie, but I was expecting a bit more.
- Gone with the Wind A bold tale of the South and the war which divided a nation, but more in truth the use of these as the counterpoint and backdrop to actions and turnings of Scarlett O'Hara. As a friend of mine pointed out, for a movie entirely about her, there was little about her to actually like, but then I think it's less about her and more about the lives she touches (again, a direct turning to the war).
Likes: Marvellous acting, cinematography, scripting, and well-defined characterization. Oh, and having an intermission was cool.
Dislikes: Infidel! This film kicks ass! The only dislikes were the fact that few theatres can manage the aspect ratio of these old films, so there was some stretching/clipping.
- The X-Files A big screen version of the television series, but with a bigger budget and better cinematography.
Likes: Same old same old. Great Duchovny and Anderson. I'm glad that the movie didn't suffer from "just out of the small and onto the big screen" syndrome...
Dislikes: But the movie didn't really advance anything, so it was basically a two-hour episode. Plus, there wasn't any Krycek or that cool blonde assistant to the UN Secretary babe...
- Six Days, Seven Nights Could be considered a buddy flick, if the buddies fell to wrangling a lot and there was heaps o' sexual tension in the air. Ford reprises a toned-down version of the Han Solo character in the form of a devil-may-care charter pilot, and Heche plays a somewhat sexier and whinier version of Winnifred from "Wag the Dog".
Likes: Extended Anne Heche nipple shots. Yeah, I know, I know... Excellent cinematography and neat action sequences.
Dislikes: Pretty hackneyed plot, weird secondary character characterizations, and overall, not a hugely surprising film in any way, shape or form.
- Can't Hardly Wait Any number of John Hughes films rolled into one, though the primary storyline is of Ethan Embry's character suffering from unrequited love, with the object of his affection being Jennifer Love Hewitt's character.
Likes: Great setting (grad party), neat vignettes and quickie characterizations. All the players had their masks on, as is usual in high school. Great "Paradise City" performance. Nice seeing Jenna Elfman in a quickie role.
Dislikes: Still suffers from the inane predictability of the John Hughes milieu. Still, I shouldn't weigh that too heavily against it, becuase I enjoyed it nonetheless.
- The Avengers Big screen translation of the small screen classic. All I can say is, watch the series.
Likes: Uma Thurman's outfits. The teddy bears. The costuming and the sense of style.
Dislikes: The overwhelming shallowness of the movie. Style over substance. The terrible lack of empathy for the characters, and the stilted conversations between the leads. Yes, they're supposed to be British and relatively reserved, but not to that extent.
LONG TIME FAVOURITES
Below, in no particular order, is a list of some of my favorite movies. As always, comments, criticisms, questions, what-have-you, can all be directed to me, jaygarcia@-removetomail-home.com.
- The Princess Bride. I've always loved it... It was a wonderful storybook romance, and it caught my imagination the first time I saw it in the theatre. You should see the looks the video-rental clerks give me when I ask them if they have any copies of it available.
- The Never-Ending Story. This was a movie which caught and bound me when I was but a wee little child, and it's imagery has stayed with me ever since. The torment of Bastian by the other children, Atreyu's journey against insurmountable odds, the tears and wonder of the Child-like Empress (whom, I must admit, I fell in love with, a little, when I first saw this movie). The ending was a bit weak, and the sequel (to me) never existed. I wish they'd actually stayed true to the book for the sequel, but having power-fantasy dreams be deflated by the needs of truth seldom makes good box-office sense.
- The Star Wars Trilogy. I could stop and give individual reviews of each movie, but, by themselves, they're far less powerful and influential and heart-stoppingly awe-inspiring as they are together. Suffice it to say that it contains all the mythic elements of the Hero's Journey (re: Joseph Campbell), so I guess that's why it resonates so well with almost everyone who's seen it.
- Highlander. The story of an immortal in a mortal world. This film touches on themes of love and loss, of ultimate sacrifice and the most craven villany, but by and large, I loved it for its sword-fights and for the concept. Wow! Immortals among us! And they can only be killed by beheading them! Power-fantasy trip, all right. But it was fun, it was dramatic, and it was highly entertaining. Like The Never-ending Story, Highlander, to me, has no sequels. There should have been only one.
- Blade Runner. Anyone who tells you to read the book before you see the movie has got their head screwed on weird. The book is definately a must-read, but thematically? And in execution? Miles away from the movie. Nice to see a gritty, dark movie being generated at this time in the decade (the late-seventies, early-eighties, I believe...)
- The Crow. The comic was better, but the movie was dark, atmospheric, and very touching. Besides, vengeance fantasies make interesting movies and cool soundtracks (ask Quentin Tarantino).
- Brazil. Terry Gilliam does a darkly wonderful job portraying the State gone mad (well, more mad than usual) in this movie about dreams, responsibilities, chaos, and the kind of non-actively-malicious governmental oppression that stems from a stifling bureaucracy.
- Reservoir Dogs. Excellent, excellent little movie. The canvas is, yes, indeed, very very bloody, but it's wonderfully entertaining fair. My friend Tavish might be inclined to rhapsodize more deeply on the wonders of Tarantino, but I think I'll leave it at that. No idea what can of worms I'll open if I start talking about the relevance of Reservoir Dogs as an analogy of modern representative democratic governmental involvement in Third World affairs. =)
- Pulp Fiction. This movie deserves its own review, despite it's graphic similarities to Reservoir Dogs. It is as entertaining, but it's a tighter tale, and it serves as a mainstream vehicle for the introduction of a non-sequential storyline, something you don't see in many (or any, save this one) mega-hit movies.
- Grosse Pointe Blank. Okay, I'm a sucker for John Cusack movies, 'cause they're filled with dark humour and interesting, unstable, and quirky characters. This one is no exception. The darkest elements of the plot (professional killer dissatisfied with life in general returns to high-school for tenth anniversary reunion and face the girl he left behind) are handled with the lightest and most graceful (not to mention most humorous) of touches.
- Reality Bites. I'll admit it. I'm also a sucker for any Winona Ryder movie, and this is no exception. That it was watchable surprised me (I assumed they'd overplay that Generation-X thing). That it was cool amazed me. Sure, there were a couple of non-sympathetic moments, but the movie has its charms.
- Singles. Alright, alright. I like relationship movies. What can I say? Quirky, realistic (okay, as realitic as a movie gets, anyway) and charming, it made me wish I had a girlfriend when I went to see it. Then again, maybe not. Anyway, the soundtrack's pretty cool too.
- Clerks. Kevin Smith's highly praised low-budget indie film about, well, two clerks, one working at a QuickStop convenience mart, and the other at the neighboring video store. The dialogue is full of dick and fart jokes, as the director puts it, but the repartee between the two leads reveals an astonishing amount of truth. Pay attention kids, there will be a tes.
- Chasing Amy. The third of Kevin Smith's works (the second being the highly maligned Mallrats). Kind of like Clerks it uses real relationships as the core of the subjects discussed and implied by the main characters. My first impression was that the situations the leads found themselves in were awfully contrived, but subsequent viewings revealed a greater unity at work. My advice? Watch it, at first alone, and then come back and bring someone you care about with you.
- City of Angels. Oh, my heart breaks when I think of this movie. So call me a damn fool, a romantic. It was immersive and powerful. It let me submerge myself into the essence of the movie. I cared about Seth and Maggie. It made me want to believe in a life bigger than what I can see and a world vaster than I can know.
- Titanic. The world is divided into three distinct camps: those who saw the movie and loved it, those who haven't seen it yet and want to, and those who haven't seen it yet and don't want to. I am of the first camp. I had trepidations; I thought it would be another Waterworld-style debacle. My, was I ever wrong. I loved every bleeding second of it. Quickest three hours I ever spent. Seen it four times. So you know the ship sinks, so what? You want it to stay afloat and take Leo and Kate off into some magical sunset somewhere.