Wednesday, June 30, 2004

White Chicks, Saved, Fahrenheit 9/11, Spidey 2

A series of movie reviews here. I've been watching me some films fierce! We'll start with the bad, and then we'll go to the good.

WHITE CHICKS: 3 stars by USA Today? People at work telling me the movie was really funny? OK, the trailer must have totally been off base then, because the movie looked really bad...and after watching it, I now know the truth. This movie is terrible, just goddamn terrible. Director Keenen Ivory Wayans, whom I had a little respect for after the early "In Living Color" days, which had some very good moments, and the campy I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA, has directed two SCARY MOVIE installments and this since then. He and brothers Marlon and Shawn have the same problem that the latter-day Zucker brothers have, and that's the loss of what is funny. You just can't believe these black guys are these white girls, and you just can't believe that no one in the film sees the difference. Most of the jokes revolve around, well, guys being girls and the complications that arise from that, but it's absolutely nothing you haven't seen before. The guy who steals the show (which is like stealing cow shit from a dilapidated barn) is Terry Crews, playing a star basketball player with a white chick fetish. But his gags are throwaways in a better movie.

SAVED: A groping-with-adolescence film disguised in a religious sendup. Put sexier clothes on the cast, put them in a California high school, you've pretty much got SHE'S ALL THAT. Not to take away from the fair amount of enjoyment you might get from this film, because there is a more arty sensibility to it and with some good pokes at those who struggle with religion. Yet, it still ends up being the popular kids vs. the unpopular kids, and it culminates in a prom. Jena Malone (DONNIE DARKO) plays the lead, a young girl who believes that Jesus has told her to sleep with her homosexual boyfriend to cure him, and gets pregnant in the process. Mandy Moore plays the uptight goody-two-shoes, and it's her first really good performance. Macaulay Culkin (remember him?) plays a wheelchair-bound non-Christian and has the best lines, and falls in love with Eva Amurri (Susan Sarandon's daughter) who is the bad seed of the school. It's a good look into the struggles faced by Christians, never really goes towards the edge as far as lambasting those who have faith, and turns out to be a rather sweet movie.

FAHRENHEIT 9/11: Alright, you can look at this Michael Moore documentary in two ways: either you're going to love or hate it because it's so one-sided with anti-Bush sentiment that it appeals to whatever you feel about Bush, or you're going to love or hate it just based on whether it's a good movie or not. And I guess there's a myriad of other combinations here. This movie is about as fun as Oliver Stone's provacative 1991 epic JFK (a movie that might be my favorite film of all time). Even though there are a lot of connections that Moore needs to make through a series of documents, ultimately saying (but just not quite saying it) that Bush had a lot to gain from the 9/11 attacks, and that he is a part of a company that inherits wealth through war, a company that is also associated with rich Saudis. The piece of the film that is most interesting and most valid focuses on the question, "Why didn't we just attack Saudi Arabia?" considering that 14 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, and Osama Bin Laden is Saudi. It's a question I have often struggled with in this administration. You'll find out what Moore thinks that reason is, and you'll be hard-pressed to disagree. I mean, all the other stuff--you can portray Bush as a boob (that's easy), you can show war footage and wonder, "Why? Why?", you can insistently whine about the 2000 Election; all of those are very interesting and thought-provoking segments, but the Saudi question haunts me, and the war in Iraq is rendered virtually pointless (unless you are Bush). I think what this film got me wondering is, "Was I a fool in all this?" The question would be, were we duped? I think an answer to that is that most of us weren't duped, we were just along for the ride--we had no choice but to feel right about going to Iraq. After all this, what is my stand? Well, I don't think you can portray Bush as an evil mastermind and portray him as stupid, too. I don't think Moore is suggesting that Bush is behind it all, I just think he's saying he's a beneficiary of it. It's really not a film you can just write a review about; it is to be discussed. A well-made film and contains very little of Moore's trademark trespassing. It's a must-see.

SPIDERMAN 2 is the Oscar winner for Best Visual Effects (John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara, John Frazier)

SPIDERMAN 2: Introducing, ladies and gentlemen, the best action film since DIE HARD way back in 1988. Introducing, l & g, the best comic book adaptation ever. Director Sam Raimi has infused big-budget scenery with his indie sensibilities and has finally come up with a comic film that is totally right. The romance with Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker and Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson is great. The life of Peter Parker, fraught with bad luck and causing him to doubt his abilities, is perfect. Alfred Molina, one of the most gifted actors working today who no one knows, is the best-played villain since Jack Nicholson's Joker, playing Dr. Octopus. Raimi also is in touch with his fans, and he gives them the cream-jeans festival of a lifetime when he pays homage to his EVIL DEAD films in one glorious scene (after watching A SIMPLE PLAN, THE GIFT, the 1st SPIDERMAN, and FOR LOVE OF THE GAME) that makes you burst out, "FINALLY!" This is the kind of stuff I feel has been missing from the X-MEN series that everyone seems to have blown their load all over. In another fine scene, we get a glimpse into the future, and I can't wait. I will likely watch this again, and lots of other people will want to as well.


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