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Showing posts from 2005

The Caustic Critic's Fall Television Awards '05

So there are a handful of interesting new shows, several shows I'm discovering for the first time, and some beloved classics with new twists this fall. I've been meaning to discuss them for quite some time (notice how we're, like a full month into the fall season) but I haven't had the time previous to this. But now I have all the time in the world and a lot to say about the appalling number of television hours I watch. (God bless the DVR--without it...I'd probably have to get a hobby or something.)

Best New Show: Criminal Minds on CBS">This is yet another crime show, this time revolving around a group of FBI profilers led by Mandy Patinkin (you know, the guy in the cholesterol drug commercial who walks down the spiral staircase...oh, he was also Inigo Montoya--you killed his father, prepare to die.) There's nothing particularly new here--just a team made up of different personalities who investigate and track down dangerous criminals. However, I think t…

Miller's Crossing

We watched Miller's Crossing, a Coen Brothers movie, yesterday. It's really very good--even better than I expected. It's a 1930s gangster movie, but it's extremely well done. Gabriel Byrne does an excellent job as the star. He's a guy caught between these two warring factions, using and being used by everyone. It's very similar to The Big Lebowski in that way, that everyone has something going on, and there's one guy in the middle trying to figure out what's going on and what the next move should be. The difference is that Byrne's character is very SMART, smarter by far than the Dude, and thus is able to do much more of his own Machiavellian manipulation. The cinematography was great--no weird tricks or gimmicks. The script was well-written, incorporating period lingo without being cheesy, and there were no plot-holes that I really noticed. Every action had a reason and a consequence, and in the end it became clear both what everyone's motives w…

Two For One: "Suspect Zero" and "A Dirty Shame"

Suspect Zero was all right, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I found the acting to be reasonable, though I think they could have found someone a bit more effective than Aaron Eckhart for the lead--though perhaps the point was that he is so Nordic and whitebread looking. The story was decent--an interesting twist on the usual "chase the serial killer" genre--but nothing to write home about. (I did appreciate that when Suspect Zero was finally found he was an average looking guy since--contrary to people's usual thoughts--serial killers are generally not hunchbacked, drooling, crazy-eyed maniacs. Most of them, in fact, are average in the extreme. Take the BTK killer for example: if you look at him, he looks a little off, but no more off than a lot of other people you see on the street every day.) However, my main problem with this was very similar to my issue with Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow--no, not Gwyneth Paltrow--a reliance on visual effects rathe…

Batman Begins

The Boyfriend and I went out to see Batman Begins. I was surprised by how much I liked the movie. I thought it was going to be your typical action super-hero movie, but it was impressively intelligent (in my humble opinion.) While I did sort of miss the whole crazily dressed villians, it was kind of nice that the bad guys had a better motive for doing what they did than "Hee hee! I'm deranged!" The idea of actually tying crime in a super-hero movie to economic factors and their effects on the city was a novel one, and made the film seem more intelligent. I thought it was particularly well-written, and appreciated the fact that the director left in important backstory and character development instead of doing what many directors do and chopping that out in order to squeeze in another explosion or unnecessary fight scene. All the characters had their own distinct personalities and motivations, and I was thrilled with the acting (except for Katie Holmes--that poor girl not…

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

I know it's been, like, a week since we actually sat down and watched The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, but I haven't really had the time until now to discuss my feelings on it. Not to mention the fact that I'm not entirely sure exactly what my feelings about it are.

I'm still not sure if I liked the movie or not.

While I was thoroughly disappointed by the way things ended, at the same time, I suppose to have things turn out differently would have been one of those fake Hollywood happy endings that everyone (except me) hates. The Boyfriend didn't really like it, because he thought the whole film was too "weird." Personally, the deliberate weirdness is what I particularly enjoy about Wes Anderson films. I love the bizarre flashbacks, strangly constructed sets, and absurdist plots. In fact, had it not been for the sad ending, I think I would have really loved it--not as much as Royal Tennenbaums, obviously, but quite a bit. The way the ship set was built--A…

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

The other day, The Boyfriend and I watched Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

The Boyfriend liked it.

I thought it was A MONSTEROUS PILE OF CRAP.

First of all, I think the whole retro-fuzzy-filter thing is gimmicky, not cool. But my main problem is with Gwyneth Paltrow's character. She is a scheming, lying, ambitious bitch and I wanted her to die. Not to mention that this is yet another movie where the heroine can't run more than ten feet during an emergency without falling down. And when the giant robots are smashing down the street, does she evacuate with everyone else? No, she has to stay and take pictures. So here come the robots, stomping down the street, smashing everything in their path. Does she run off into an alley to avoid being crushed? No, she staggers around in the middle of the street trying to take pictures, only to fall down and cower under the decending foot of a robot until Jude Law comes along and saves her. If you're going to be an ambitious bitch ch…

Books I

Let's start with literature. Lately, I've been re-reading some classic books from my childhood--just for shits and giggles, you know. See if they still hold up now. So many things don't, you know. So many things you like as a kid seem really stupid when you get older. However, I do have a couple books that stand up to the test of time:

1. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. This was my favorite book from first through fifth grades. I did a book report on it every year (and by "did a book report" I don't mean turned in the same book report five times. I wrote new and increasingly complex reports every year. The only reason my fifth grade teacher caught on was because she was looking at the book and noticed on the sign-out card that I was the only one to have ever signed it out, and I'd signed it out six times in five years.) It's a mystery, and I think the indicated reading level is about fourth or fifth grade, but it still holds up now, since as an adult…

A Letter to Oprah

Dear Oprah,
Hermes is not racist. They do not hate you. They were CLOSED. I know this is hard for you to understand, but just because you're rich and famous does not mean you control the world. I know this must be hard for you--let me try to explain: sometimes, stores close. And there may be times that people are in the store and moving around, but the store is closed. There is a reason for them being closed. I'm sure that if they could have, they would have let you in to shop because you've got money coming out every oriface of your body, and they want it just as much as everyone else does. However, they were CLOSED. Sometimes I go to stores, and the doors are locked, even though there are people inside who appear to be shopping. This means that store is CLOSED. I'm white, and I can't get in. You may not be able to process this idea, but NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU. I know that you think you're hot shit because you have a television show and you're like t…

A Letter to Andie MacDowell

Dear Andie MacDowell,
For the love of all that is holy, please stop acting. Your performances in simple commercials give me violent nausea, so you can imagine how I feel when you're cast in a movie that might have been really great had YOU not been in it. Seriously--why don't you go and find another job--something that maybe doesn't require acting. Or speaking, really.
Most sincerely,
Not a Fan
P.S. Please pass this message on to Jason Patric because he also sucks. Not as much as you, of course, but still pretty hardcore.

Sleepers

I just finished reading Sleepers again, and as usual, it leaves me with a great desire to see the movie. Unfortunately, I KNOW that I'll be disappointed with said movie. Why? you ask. Well, you'd think it would be a pretty good movie. I mean, the plot is gripping and interesting and the movie is jam-packed with starpower. I mean, come on: Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Renfro, Minnie Driver, Billy Crudup, Brad Pitt, Kevin Bacon AND Ron Eldard (whom I secretly find considerably more lust-worthy than Brad Pitt for reasons still unknown) all in the same movie! Yet the movie fails. The reason for this abysmal failure lies with the time period the movie was filmed in. It was filmed during a time when heads of studios and casting directors alike shared the tragic and mistaken idea that Jason Patric could act. Yes, I know you are all wondering how a misconception of this magnitude could have occured, and I have no easy answers for you. All I know is that for some reason he was g…

Cold Mountain, Harold & Kumar, Spongebob Movie

Friday I watched Cold Mountain. (If you haven't yet seen this film and don't want to know what happens, just skip on down to the next entry.) Frankly, I thought it sucked. The only people in the movie worth paying attention to were Renee Zellweiger and maybe Jack White. I could happily have lived without just about everyone else. Particularly Jude Law. "I'm walking, I'm pouting and sullen, oh, does she love me or not? Oh, what is war for?" Yeah, shut up. And Nicole Kidman was alright in her interactions with Renee, but otherwise it was a lot more "Oh, woe is me! Does he still love me? When is he coming back? Oh, weep weep I'm so weak and I don't know WHAT I'll do!" Yeah, shut up. And you spend all that time with the two lovers writing sappy letters to each other and mooning around, and in the end (LOOK OUT! HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!) he fucking dies anyway. Why didn't he do that an hour and a half earlier and save us all a shitload of …

1776

I watched 1776 yesterday, which was entertaining through frankly not very GOOD. I mean, some of the singing was just plain terrible. However, it was interesting to see (a fictional representation of) what led up to the ratification of the Declaration ofIndenpendence. Despite having taken the requisite field trips to the Liberty Bell and whatnot in Philadelphia (and one thing I will say for the movie is that their descriptions of Philadelphia weather are exactly as I remember it--unbearably hot and muggy and overwhelmed by flies) but I don't think I really learned much. I mean, I had no idea that slavery was even debated at that time. Must say the whole thing gave me a new respect for John Adams and the crew from Massachusetts while making the Pennsylvanians look like a bunch of money-grubbing, syncophantic tools.

Grand Theft Parsons

In other news, there's not really any other news. Last night The Boyfriend and I finally got around to watching our movie we rented from Blockbuster ages ago. It was actually pretty good. It's called Grand Theft Parsons and it's about Gram Parsons's (a singer from the 70s, famous for performing with the Flying Burrito Brothers and also for his album 'Return of the Grevious Angel' which has since been reinvented as a kick-ass tribute album) road manager, Phil Kaufman (played BRILLIANTLY by Johnny Knoxville--have I mentioned lately that I am crazy about Johnny Knoxville? In fact, I will probably go see Dukes of Hazzard when it comes out just because he's in it...) who, after Gram dies of a drug overdose, steals the body in order to keep a pact he made with Gram that the first one of them to die should be taken out in the Joshua Tree Desert and set on fire. It's a more-or-less true story. Of course, they didn't really do Gram's death up the way it …

Shallow Grave and other musings

The Boyfriend and I watched 'Shallow Grave' (Thank you, Netflix!) the other night, and it was not bad. I wouldn't call it the best movie ever, but it was entertaining, at least. For those of you who like Ewan McGregor, he looked very good (though for those of you who watch Ewan McGregor movies purely to see him get naked--Agent Man, you know I am looking at you, here--you'll be disappointed, as the only guys to get naked in this one are Christopher Eccleston and a bloated dead guy.)It's a tight little thriller, though nothing exactly new or special (it's by the same guy who directed 'Trainspotting'). The only reason I even heard of it is that the preview was on the video rental of 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.'

Right now, we've got 'Clay Pigeons', 'The Ice Storm', and 'Ghost World' to watch. The Boyfriend is non-plussed, as he is not so much a fan of artsy indie pics, though he loved 'Garden State' as much a…

Kill Bill 1 & 2

Last weekend, we finally got around to watching Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2. And I really liked the first one, but...well...I thought the second one kind of sucked. It's like Tarantino was like "Um...I have to finish this up, tie everything together, and make my POINT. But I'm tired. So I'll just bang this out in two days and be done with it." The first movie was great--there was lots of development and humor. I loved the explanation of O-Ren and her posse. The second movie explained nothing. It was like "This is Elle Driver. And she's kinda evil. This is Budd. Oh yeah, he's Bill's brother." Not to mention the fact that after all that build-up, Bill turned out to have become this lame-ass soccer dad who loves to make PB&Js with the crusts cut off. Also, the second volume had way too much of what Professor Flamejob (my former playwrighting teacher) would have called "talking heads." As this is my fatal flaw, I recognize it in othe…

Welcome to the Dollhouse

So the other day, I tried to watch Welcome to the Dollhouse and found myself completely unable to do so. It was just too physically painful. I haven't seen a movie that relentlessly depressing in a long time, and I don't think I'll subject myself to another one any time soon. Part of the reason I disliked it was that I remember what a complete torture middle school was. I remember how mean kids can be and how adults really just don't get it at all. But the other side of the issue--and the one that disturbed me more--was how much I wanted to kick Dawn Weiner's ass myself. She was just so dorky and pathetic. It brought up a lot of old feelings I always had about a girl I was friends with at that age. I mean, I liked her--she was okay most of the time--but there were many times I wanted so badly to shake her until her teeth clacked together and yell "If you'd just be normal for five minutes, they'd leave you alone! Why do you have to be so fucking WEIRD?&…