Sunday, November 30, 2008

Indiana Jones: The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Typical Indiana Jones format in that there is some incredibly unusual/valuable/intriguing item that some "other" (such as the Nazis or Russians) has stolen for some vague reason. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) obtains/loses said item and inevitably goes back to teaching until the next adventure. This time the item is a crystal skull of uncertain origin, the "other" is the Russians, led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). It is soon revealed that Raiders of the Lost Ark alum Marion Ravenwood Williams (Karen Allen) and Indy's old pal Harold Oxley (John Hurt) have "disappeared" aka captured after discovering the skull in Peru. It is up to Indy and Marion's son Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) to find Marion, Oxley and the skull before the Russians discover the secrets of the skull. My commentary: The more I watch this movie, the more I like it. Initially, I was a bit disappointed by the shiny new computer effects, but they are pretty cool. As much as I like Harrison Ford in the role of Indy, I probably wouldn't object if he moved on from the role (if the franchise keeps going). Heck, I would have been content with just the original three movies, but Crystal Skull is a better continuation of the original series (aesthetically) than say, Episodes 1-3 of Star Wars compared to Episodes 4-6 Rating: ****** (6 out of 10)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Raising Arizona v. Fargo

Joel and Ethan Coen, recent winners of four Academy Awards for No Country for Old Men, have established themselves as today's directing/producing powerhouse.  Recently, I've begun watching their work and will provide commentary for some of their first works: Raising Arizona and Fargo.

Set in the wilderness of Arizona, Edwina "Ed" (Holly Hunter) and H.I. "Hi" McDonnough (Nicholas Cage) meet at a local jail.  Ed is a police woman in charge of fingerprinting Hi after he is arrested for convenience store robbery.  The two fall in love and marry, only to discover that Ed is unable to conceive.  Ed and Hi embark on a journey that begins with kidnapping and ends with a bounty hunter.  Will the couple survive parenthood or die trying? 

My Commentary:  I'm probably not the first to question Nicholas Cage's acting abilities, but my goodness, get this guy a dialect coach!  His accent was extremely distracting throughout the film.  Holly Hunter is the redeeming character in Raising Arizona.  In one of my favorite scenes, she abandons Hi at the convenience store after watching him in mid-robbery garb (complete with hosiery and pistol).  Hi is forced to outrun the authorities by foot - with a pack of stray dogs on his tail - all for a package of Huggies.  

Rating:  ***** (5 out of 10)

An event not based on true events, Fargo is set in winter-laden Minneapolis tundra.  The film revolves around the events set in motion by Jerry, played by William H. Macy.  Money problems bring out the worst in people and Jerry is the prime example of that notion come to life.  He employs two men to kidnap his wife, demand a lump sum, and divvy up the cash accordingly.  Of course, nothing goes to plan and people are brutally murdered by woodchippers, axes, and hand guns.  

My Commentary:  Like Drop Dead Gorgeous, this film was emerged in Minnesotan culture and dialect.  France McDormand performed the best faux Minnesotan accent I've heard.  My favorite scene went like this:

Rating:  ********* (9 out of 10)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hardcore chick flick: P.S. I Love You

I know that we've been pretty harsh with chick flicks in the past, so you might be wondering why we insist on continuing to watch these films. I certainly can't speak for Tiffany, but I think that I am eternally searching for a decent chick flick. One that will make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but not so sweet and mushy as to make my teeth hurt. With that said, I'm still kind of on the fence with P.S. I Love You.
Basically, the plot is this: Holly's husband Gerry has just died and (understandably) she is doing very not well. On her 30th birthday, Holly gets a cake and the first of several letters that Gerry pre-arranged for her to get on specific days in specific ways after his death. The letters take her on a journey of re-discovery.

My Commentary: Okay, so this movie is pretty close to the edge as far as overall gooey-ness goes, but I kind of liked it. HOWEVER, I think that the reason that I liked it was because I haven't watched any hardcore chick flicks for a long time. What I liked about this movie is that *almost* every time it started to get to the point where I would want to puke, something horrifyingly embarrassing happened to Holly, lessening the awkward/sappy/sad level of my movie watching experience. So while the movie wasn't exactly good, it wasn't as painful as it could have been. Rating: ***** (5 out of 10)