Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Favorite Holiday Movies

Favorite Holiday Movies:

I am a big Christmas fan. Incidentally, I was born on Christmas day; therefore I was named “Mary.” Makes you wonder what I’d be named if I was born on Arbor Day, Fern? Anyway, my Mom always wanted to make this time special and my parents often went into credit card debt just so Santa would have a full sleigh.

In addition to the special memories of listening to my mother singing in the choir at Midnight Mass, setting out cookies for Santa, (Dad) the huge tree you had to climb over in our small apartment, and frantic unwrapping of gifts that my brother and I engaged in such a fury, it was scary. In addition to all these great memories were the movies.

Back in the day before videos, DVDs, or Tivo, we had to check the TV guide to catch our special Christmas shows. If you missed it, you had to wait a whole other year.

Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977) (TV)
This is a “spin-off,” of sorts of Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer. This donkey, as the title revealed, had very long ears that got in the way and deemed unusual and an object of ridicule for the other donkeys. Sound familiar? Think Dumbo. The heart wrenching part was when the Roman soldier demanded young donkeys, he took Nester and the other little donkeys, but seeing Nester’s very long ears, accused the stable owner of cheating him and took the rest of the donkeys for free. The stable owner kicked him out; his loving mother went out in the cold with him. There was a bad snow storm... (in the Middle East?) and consequently died trying to make him warm. Later, a greedy salesman sells/gives him to Mary and Joseph. Nester guides the holy couple through a wind storm to a stable. It is heartwarming, really. It is the kind of silly stop motion animation in the same vein as Frosty the Snowman and all reindeer movies.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Love the kids dancing. Always makes me smile. Very cute. Love the message of over commercialized Christmas. Who ever thought that aluminum Christmas trees were pretty? Then, when Linus recites the real Christmas story....chokes me up every time.

Miracle on 34th Street
Big Cooperate America tries to make belief in Santa a certifiable mental illness. Makes you believe in generosity, kindness, and even believe in Santa. It may also encourage you to shop at Macy’s. Early product placement. ;)

Scrooged (1988)
This is a Bill Murray classic. Bill Murray is a TV producer who is quite Scrooge like. Unlike many warmed over “modernization” of A Christmas Carol, its funny, edgy, and sarcastic with still having a heart. Cratchet, who is played by is an overworked African-American single mom whose youngest son became mute after watching his father get shot. She is long suffering, with still trying to keep her boss in his place...tries, anyway. It is also nostalgic because it has many references to classic television like Father Knows Best and Little House on the Prairie.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
This movie should be played to people on hold on a suicide hotline. Although a bit hokey, it really does show that everyone really does matter and we have impact on more people and the world than we would ever know. It is easy to get depressed at the holidays, I know, but this movie does help to keep it in perspective. And when the little Mary tells her haggard father that “every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings" is priceless. Beautiful. The Muppets have a retelling of the same story with the same, furry heart. And the song “Everybody Matters” is great.

Christmas Movies can be hokey. Basically, if it’s on the Hallmark Channel, be forewarned.

There are a lot of great Christmas movies that reinforces the importance of family, self-worth, charity, the wonder of childhood, even belief in Santa and all he represents. Watch some of these movies when you’re feeling kind of Bah-Humbug, and have a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Borat Review

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious ...Review:

I hated this movie. Yes, it was clever that it poked at everyone, but what was cruel was that is was "unscripted." I think if someone is going to be humiliated, they should be paid for it. Like the southern Belle hostess and the pastor, for instance. They didn't do anything wrong, they were just too nice. If anyone gave me a pile of sh*t, I would show them the door, no matter what.

This movie was in poor taste. I watch Robot Chicken which is very tacky, but they are Transformers and Barbie dolls, not real people. For some reason, paid actors or cartoons seem like a more reasonable format for humor on such sensitive topics. I would like this movie if it were fictional and had paid actors. I also find it difficult to laugh at references to rape and incest funny.

Once again, if the people were paid or given a cut of the profits, I wouldn't feel like I was violated watching people be violated. Oh, and the naked ugly hairy guys wrestling, that was just too much.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Casino Royale

A Girl’s Review of Casino Royale

I believe that this is the first Bond film I’ve seen all the way through. My Dad and brother, even my mother to a certain extent, always liked Bond films and we used to watch them on cable a lot. As far as an adventure film goes, not usually my genre, I liked it.

Guy Film: This is SUCH a guy’s film: a lot of action, car crashes, near misses, pretty girls, a little bit of passion and sex, intrigue, and hardly any dialogue. I’m serious. The script might have been six pages long.

The New Bond: I did not like this Bond. Daniel Craig was described by “M.” played beautifully by Judi Dench, as a “blunt instrument.” I must agree. Incidentally, he played an assassin in Elizabeth. He is also set to play Lucifer in an upcoming movie. Scars and cuts seemed very “natural” (if there is such a thing) on this guy, like an accessory. He had a very “athletic” body, but not handsome to me. He is no Pierce Bronson or Sean Connery. He had no charm, just a raw sexuality that was not very “British.” Of course, to me you have to talk to be charming.

Bond Girls: The “Bond Girls” were okay. Eva Green had distractingly large eyes and was very; very thin which made her eyes look babyish, even alien like. Because its 007, any inkling of commitment from ol’ James would end a betrayal and probable death. Hate to give it away, but the movie did not deviate much from the formula.

Slow Scene: A big critique is that the Poker part seemed to be WAY too long. This film seemed to bank on the current poker craze.

Violence: To those how have read any of my other reviews, you know I am sensitive to violence. I was hoping that innocent carnage would stick to the minimum. The opening scene is very exciting, even though it was violent.

The New Enemy: M. said that she misses the Cold War. I could say that having a distinct “villain” makes a simpler foreign diplomacy plan and a plot instrument. The new threat is terrorism. Like is real life, it seems random, hard to follow, and insidious. Makes you miss the arms race. Like current events, there seems to be a scene brought to you by Dick Chaney. That’s all I’m going to say.

This is a very stock film from the Ian Fleming empire, but satisfying. I would compare this film to a prime cut Angus burger. It is good and seems fancy, but it’s still a burger.

** ½ out of 5 stars.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Prestige

The Prestige

**** Four Stars out of Five

It is difficult for me to review this movie without giving too much away.

This movie has to do with complicated tricks, double crosses, and complicated plot twists in the tradition Matchstick Men and The Sting (1973). I, personally, love films that keep you guessing. This is also the kind of film you should watch in theatre. Watching it at home with the phone ringing and the dog wanting to play fetch would be distracting and you might miss the subtleties. I will have to watch it again because I am sure I missed something. Like a magic trick, you have to “watch closely” and you will still miss it.

This movie depends on the audience to watch with skepticism with a bit of willing suspension of disbelief. When the real “incredible” part happens, you are so deep into it; you don’t care about the implausibility.

I am a bit sensitive to violence, so some of these images were a bit disturbing for me and lingered around in my subconscious for days. Sensitive views be ware.

Hugh Jackman was, as usual, delicious. I was at first sympathetic to his character but as revenge consumed him throughout the film, I began to be disgusted by him. I didn’t like Christian Bale the whole film. I never liked him. I don’t even have a good reason why I don’t like this movie. I also lost sympathy for Scarlett Johansson’s character when she became a turncoat. All these characters were good people to begin with and then slights, betrayals, hurt, and revenge made them into ugly people, but they all anticipated this moral decay and planned accordingly. The only character whose moral compass was not compromised was Michael Caine’s. He tries to do be impartial and scientific about magic, but does the right thing in the end, unlike anyone else in this movie.

What I like about more “grown up” films is how complicated people all. This movie explores the darker side of the soul and how pride, revenge, and grief can change someone and make a person do things they didn’t think they were capable. See this film, but expect to feel confused and a bit dirty afterward.

Incidently, this film was directed by Christopher Nolan who also directed Memento and Batman Begins.

Stranger Than Fiction

Sony Pictures - Stranger Than Fiction

This movie is about life, love, death, and cookies.

I really enjoyed this movie. I have always enjoyed Emma Thompson. This is the first film that I actually enjoyed Will Ferrell. Maybe he is continuing in the tradition of Jim Carrey in choosing roles that will challenge his acting chops.

I liked the whole concept. I am a frustrated writer myself and loved the idea of trying to discover if a character is in a tragedy of comedy.

I loved how the lines between reality and fantasy were blurred. I have some problems with that myself. I loved how Will Ferrell’s character, aware of his “eminent death,” begins to actually live. To live is to take risks, difficult task for an auditor. My husband is kind of an auditor for the FDA. I think it helped me understand him more.

Dustin Hoffman, as always, did not disappoint. I kind of wanted there to be a bit of a romantic spark between he and Emma, but that would have diluted the story. Queen Latifah was good, but I wanted her to be a little bit more hard core instead of just a facilitator of creativity for Emma. Maggie Gyllenhaal is so sexy. She rarely shies away from nudity, and she shouldn’t because she is so beautiful and never makes sexuality sleazy, overly sentimental, or forced. Women like Maggie should be naked all the time just so we can better appreciate the skillful, creative art of God. Anyway, she does inspire reserved guy like Ferrell to take a chance to get the hip sexy, open baker girl. It had an added appeal for me because Darrell is an FDA computer auditor and I would like to think of myself as a free spirit and a budding baker.

It is an overall a very enjoyable film. Having the graphics of how Will Ferrell’s character obsessive counting was a nice touch and how he starts living, he stops counting quite so much. It is not necessarily an Oscar contender, but not every movie has to be. I would like to see it again on video. * * * * ½ out of five *’s

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Clerks 2

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.

The first time I saw Clerks, I thought Dante was sweet and Randal was a sadistic moron. After seeing Clerks 2, I think Dante is an indecisive wimp and Randal actually made sense. Clerks also, to my naive nineteen year old mind, glorified Convenience Stores. It is kind of sad when a thirty-four-year-old works at a fast food restaurant without even so much as a management career path. It is also kind of sad that he had so much potential, but potential only goes so far. As I have learned, you also have to have the drive and the confidence. If he had only listened to Veronica and gone back to school. It is a bit naive believing that a Bachelor’s degree somehow guarantees you financial success and bliss.

I have no idea why then and now I find Dante so hot. In the movie, Randal doesn’t understand either. Dante, at best, lacks direction and tends to be unfaithful. Why does he always have two chicks going for him? Rosario Dawson is hot!!! I like that she is not a WASP either. His other too-skinny girlfriend with the reportedly odd anatomy so didn’t “get” him. Dawson’s character does. They have similar philosophies and lifestyle. They both stumbled into food service while they both had greater potential and possible unspoken aspirations. The other future “Mrs. Hicks” saw him as a “fixer upper” and wants to take him away from everything he knows and move him to Florida to manage a car wash. Even though he gives some lip to the undesirable two bit Jersey town, he really does love it. Would Dante with a tan still be Dante?

I do like how Jay and Silent Bob have changed yet are still the same. Jay’s new persona is like a pot dealing street preacher. Bob did disappoint me, though. Instead of his pithy poignant one-liner, he has a few lines that are completely forgettable.

The “theme” of Clerks 2 once you get over the characteristic par of gay jokes and frank pseudo-intellectual discussion of odd sexual proclivities, the movie does make some good points. Through all his ramblings, Randal reiterates, somewhat incoherently, for Dante to be decisive. “Sh** or get off the pot.” The same call to arms (or pots) he made in the first movie. He also insists that one should decide for onesself what “happiness” is. Happiness is not just material wealth, but friends, family, love, even odd hetero life-mate kind of love. The guy who was “successful” was still known as “pickle f***er.” It was freeing, actually. So the main message of the movie was to decide for yourself what happiness is. Oh, and get a photo before hiring odd sex acts off the internet.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Superman Returns

Superman Returns - I am slowly but surely becoming a comic book movie fan. The first movie that really turned me on to the genre was Spiderman. I love that he is a nerd and his world (the meanies he goes to high school with) still view him as such despite his new "Save the Day" powers.

I liked Superman as a kid, like three or four years old. I was in elementary school when it first got played on... cable. Wow, I was so excited when that finally came along. I thought Clark - Christopher Reeve was soooo cute.

I did not want to have too many expectations for Superman. I got my hopes up too high for the new installments of Star Wars. Not that they are as cool as the first ones, but everything is cool when you're eight. Anyway, I tried to have an open mind. It was Darrell's idea and it was in the "Five Buck Club" at our favorite theatre. I thought Brandon Routh was really good. He is so handsome, like old fashion dreamy handsome. Look up the word, his picture is in the dictionary. He made Kate Bosworth look like s***. The skinny little thing didn't need any help in that department.

I hated Bosworth in this movie. Where Margot Kidder seemed like a tough, go-getter journalist that was hard as nails but weak in the knees for the boy in blue, Kate Bosworth seemed indecisive, cold, and a two timer all at the same time. I wouldn't trust her to track the big time story. I wouldn't trust her to go track down coffee. She probably forgot the smell of food she's so thin. Margot Kidder was the poster girl for the ERA in the late seventies. She is what Gloria Steinem and all the other feminists had in mind for their crusade. Kate couldn't hold a match to Margot. (I love Superman's one-man campaign against tobacco.) Is that what feminism is reduced to in the new millennium? Casual sex that lands you with a child with a bunch of allergies and superpowers, to take up with a man you don't really love while holding out for the one that flew away, to unconvincingly stand up to your boss in your stuffy blouse and too high heeled shoes?

Other political issues raised in Superman:
Global warming: Does former Vice President Al Gore know about this?
Longer prison terms for repeat offenders like, I don't know, Lex Luthor?
Intellectual Property Litagation: Should Superman have legally protected information encoded on the crystals? He should have had another pass code or retina eye scanning or something.

I LOVED it how Perry White, the head editor said (paraphrasing) "Does Superman still stand for truth, justice, and all that?" I thought it was very interesting he took out the "American Way." Not only did it make it marketable to a broader international audience, it also allowed people not to be turned off to those that do not think that a Superhero with all those powers should have such an obvious political agenda. (See Season 3 of Justice League)

Analysis aside: I enjoyed the movie. It is a pretty good movie to take the kids to as well. The only swearing was "Great Ceasar's Ghost." No sex, no profanity, no "adult themes" at all. Superman is too much of a boy scout to use his X-Ray vision for anything naughty. I think most people would abuse this power to the fullest. ;) If you cut out Kate Bosworth, its a pretty good flick. A lot of action, not too deep, Lex Luthor is okay. I was worried about the little dog at the end, though.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lady in the Water

For those who still want to believe...

I am an M. Night Shyamalan fan. I was hooked with Sixth Sense and never turned back. Darrell and I saw it twice opening weekend, before and after we knew the twist ending. Now look people, you can only do the “I see dead people” thing once, so quit expecting the “ah ha” twist in everything Shyamalan does. I think that is why he gets such a hard time in the press. Instead of audiences seeing his movies as independent works, they keep looking for the little dead girl to jump out at them. Stop looking. You just might enter the unique world of this talented story teller.

I anticipated the Lady in the Water release for weeks, but I must admit I saw Clerks II opening weekend instead. I’m not proud. ;) I saw Lady with Darrell, his mom, and her friend Phil. Phil, being a gentleman, didn’t mention how boring and confusing he thought the movie really was. If current box office totals are any indication, Phil was not alone. I loved it. I was moved and thought it was one of the better movies I’ve seen in a while.

Lady in the Water is based on a fairy tale Shymalan made up for his kids. He sketches it in the first few frames and fleshes it out throughout the movie. What I think is so great about Shymalan is how he makes “quiet” movies. They aren’t cluttered with dialogue and special effects; instead, he makes the audience pay attention to each word spoken, the setting, small movements, setting us up to be surprised and spooked. Do not wait to be scared. If that’s what you want, go see The Descent and you’ll get the ghouls and gore you’re looking for.

Critics have said it is too much of a fairy tale, but without the surprise ending, miracle, or opportunity for a large special effects budget. For me, the miracle is that the Lady, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, makes people discover their purpose in life and their connection to the world. Isn’t that miracle enough?

I keep thinking how Vonnegut-esque it is. It reminds me of Cat’s Cradle and how it deals with the “gestalt” concept, where people are thrown together for some purpose, but one that we may never know. In Lady, the purpose seems to just be yourselves, be truthful, and stop being afraid to believe in yourselves, each other, and in miracles.

Now, I am a sucker for philosophers. In my next review I plan to show how Randal from Clerks is a freaking genius. Literary content aside, it was a well done movie. However, I do wish Shymalan would come up with some other scary things besides wolf-like creatures. The wolves looked like leftovers from The Village and just as home made. I didn’t entirely get the significance of the monkey creatures, or why the Lady collected all those objects. Unfortunately, it reminded me of Ariel from Little Mermaid thinking a fork was a comb – and Disney reminders are usually bad things.

I loved Paul Giamatti. He was a quiet man who thought he lost everything. Now, I don’t want to give it all away. I’ll just say that he was a man that really found himself. I thought it was a bit self indulgent to cast the writer, and consequently Shyamalan himself, as not only the savior of the movie, but the whole stinking world. The sister was great though. I think there was some wish fulfillment going on when the know-it-all critic had his final encounter. Don’t you hate people that ruin the magic for you and telling you how unbelievable something is? I definitely won’t do that for you.
Now, if you want a bubble-gum roller coaster ride of "big mac style" effects & thrills, go see Pirates of the Caribbean. I guarantee you, you won’t have to think very much in that movie. But if you want a chance to believe in something beyond the comforts of central air and watered-down pop that summer movies provide, then Lady in the Water is the movie for you. Just believe.
Mary Goffinet

Welcome to Cinemaybe!

Thanks for stumbling onto Cinemaybe, the place where the Indy Goffinets will post movie reviews of the movies we watch. Everyone's a critic, but some people's opinions really suck, especially the movie critics that get published in mass media. So, we thought we'd add our own thoughts to the great series of tubes that is the Internet. We'll play with the format here and there - sometimes one of us will review a movie, sometimes both will. Who knows - it's our blog, so piss off. ; ) Let the criticism begin!

Darrell & Mary Goffinet