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I watch movies. On DVD, at the theater, via cable TV. Sometimes I want people to know what I think about the movies I watch, regardless of whether or not they care. I promise I will make my reviews short, but I won't be ashamed to throw around cliches like "beautiful cinematography" and "post-modern irony," so be warned.

Sunday, August 22, 2004 :::

Napoleon Dynamite

Why I saw it: It sounded funny, from the little word of mouth I'd heard.

What I think about it: Awesome. Despite the complete lack of plot and the fact that it is little more than sketch comedy taken to its absurd limit, this movie made me laugh almost without pause during its entire running time. The characterizations of Napoleon, his brother Kip, Pedro, and Deb, are some of the finest ever committed to film. Sure, when all is said and done, you've just watched a borderline special-ed student run around being idiotic for an hour and a half, but you'll laugh hysterically, and you definitely won't see anything like it ever again. It's practically overflowing with quoatable moments and pitch-perfect line-deliveries. Not to mention some of the best production design ever. It's offbeat for sure, and some people will hate it and find it pointless (ahem - Ebert), but I have a feeling this will be showing at midnight screenings for years to come. Let's just pray they don't make a sequel, turn it into a TV show, or feature him at the MTV movie awards (which is inevitable), because it's definitely an act that can get real old, real quick. But I loved Napoleon so much I almost wanted to be his friend, even though he's the most vividly portrayed nerd in film history.

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::: posted by dan at 6:14 PM :: #

Garden State

Why I saw it: It had a good preview and a good soundtrack.

What I think about it: People are saying it's The Graduate or the Reality Bites of the next generation. I don't know if that kind of statement is supposed to be a compliment or an insult, but nevertheless it's a good, involving movie with a consistent mood and a satisfying tone. Most surprisingly, Natalie Portman doesn't suck. In fact, she creates a character that would be cloying and annoying (yay that rhymes!) if portrayed by almost anyone else. It truly is an impressive performance, and this coming from me is praise indeed after having seen both of the new Star Wars movies. It's got good humor, a believable romance between the lead characters, and it never succumbs to cliches or other dramatic devices. I liked it quite a bit. It lulled me into a very good mood. I love movies that can do that. Plus, they actually praise The Shins onscreen. That's a bonus.

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::: posted by dan at 6:05 PM :: #

Saturday, August 07, 2004 :::

The Manchurian Candidate

Why I saw it: Because Jonathan Demme directed it.

What I think about it: It's amazing that the director of two of the best movies of the 90's, Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, can make a movie so routinely plotted and shockingly lacking in any type of suspense. Also, while trying to update this movie for the new millenium and the current state of political paranoia, the filmmakers seem to have forgotten the art of character development and don't even bother to give anybody a realistic motivation. With no surprises and bland direction, the movie peaks with a frustratingly vague and under-developed climax that not only underwhelms, but totally avoids suitable explanation. There are a few good performances, sure, but the main possible source of suspense - namely "is he paranoid or is it all really happening?" - is never even explored. It's embarassingly far-fetched with a bazillion plot holes and ludicrous contrivances. Even after all this, I can't say it was truly terrible, but it was by no means original, and I wouldn't even be able to say it was worth watching. How someone can prefer this movie to The Village is beyond me. Trust me, you've seen all this before.

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::: posted by dan at 1:35 AM :: #


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