Friday, March 19, 2004

Eternal Sunshine, Dawn of the Dead, Taking Lives

Movie reviews:

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is the 2004 Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay (Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth)

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND: Gets the award for most deceiving marketing of the year, playing a couple of upbeat trailers and emphasizing a quirkfest throughout. What we have is a methodical, arty film which I could sum up as a whole movie based on what it was like when John Malkovich entered his own portal in BEING JOHN MALKOVICH. Of course, Charlie Kaufman scripted this film in his second collaboration with Michel Gondry, who did HUMAN NATURE, which I didn't see. The movie is quite beautiful and entertaining, but the performances of Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are truly standout. Winslet usually plays a sort of weepy, stuffy character in her films, and to see her play a sort of hippie who is at heart, "just a girl," was interesting to me. Carrey has finally found familiarity in being sincere, and he sort of blends in, a true testament since he usually dominates the scenery in any movie. Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, and Elijah Wood are all fantastic supporting players, who offer a twist into the action as Carrey gets his mind altered, and have a secret of their own.

DAWN OF THE DEAD: A movie that gets high marks due to its satirical edge and brilliant opening. A movie like this, I don't believe, ever sets out to be the end-all of scary movies. I have not seen the original of this, so I have no comparison. The highlight of this is the point where the survivors are getting used to life in the mall, sort of veering towards the mundane, and a subdued, folksy version of Disturbed's "Down With the Sickness" starts playing. In fact, music is always present to be the antithesis of what is happening onscreen, and it usually offers some fairly good laughs.

TAKING LIVES: One of the worst of the year, and proof that Ebert and Roeper are handing out thumbs-up like candy nowadays. This incredibly stupid thriller starts off with opening credits like SEVEN, but never recreates the mood. There's a couple of startling moments, but that's it. The killer is easy to figure out if you've ever seen a thriller, and the actual proof comes twenty minutes before the movie ends, leaving you with an incredibly dumb climax that is supposed to be this huge audience-satisfying twist that is in actuality infuriating and insulting.