Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Quick DVD Reviews

As a new Dad, I only really get to see movies on DVD, and even then we tend to get the 5 day rentals at our local shop, so these aren’t exactly the newest release. You may be interested if any of these haven’t found their way into your DVD players just yet.

The Squid and the Whale
Loved it! I have always had a thing against intellectual snobs, and this movie cuts to the core of how empty some of them can be on the inside. Great performances all around, especially Jeff Daniels who continues to impress after 25 years. A tough movie to watch at times, but it’s got an honest grittiness to it as the layers of the family relationship are peeled back slowly. Kudos to Billy Baldwin for stretching his wings. Grade: A

V for Vendetta
A decent adaptation of the comic – I liked the fact that they kept things British. The flashback sequences were the weakest points, whereas they really strengthened the comic. Portman is Portman, and I liked that she could do vulnerable when needed here. The rest of the cast was equally strong. A little something was just missing – maybe the overall sense of oppression is too tough to convey on screen, I dunno. Overall, it was quite strong and I was happy that it found an audience. Grade: B

Family Stone
Blechh! I can’t believe this movie had decent buzz. What a waste of a cast! Which character was I supposed to care about? The judgmental mom dying of cancer? The son who finds true love after spending 5 minutes with his girlfriend’s sister? This might have worked as a black comedy, but it misfired as sentimental crap. Grade: D

The Matador
I love this kind of movie. More movies should be made in Mexico – so much atmosphere, I was almost sweating watching this one. Brosnan’s work as the “Assassin on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” was lots of fun. Greg Kinnear plays likeable goof like no one else and his relationship with Hope Davis was about as realistic a portrayal of a struggling marriage as I’ve seen – many are in danger of dying a quiet death. Unfortunately, the movie as a whole does not hang together all that well, but it’s a pretty fun ride. Grade: B+

Pride and Prejudice
What can I say? I never saw the whole appeal of Keira Knightley – always seems like poor man’s Winona Ryder/Nathalie Portman hybrid to me. I was wrong. This is a fine, fine piece of filmmaking as new life has been injected into the tale that has been told a million times. I am always pleased to see Donald Sutherland play sentimental rather than just intellectual. I do wish that Judi Dench would allow some other older British actresses the opportunity to get some work. I certainly hope to see more of Matthew Macfadyen in the future – he was perfect as Mr. Darcy. Grade: A


Reel Fanatic said...

The Squid and the Whale and Pride Prejudice were easily two of my faves from 2005 ... Ms. Knightley should have won an Oscar

Anonymous said...

Some people have said the the vital ingredient missing from V for Vendetta (the movie) is that it sets things up as a fascism vs. democracy angle instead of the comic's fascism vs. anarchy angle.

Love the reviews, though. I don't get out much for movies, either.

Aaron King (from CBR)

MWGallaher said...

Thanks for warning me about The Family Stone before my wife attempted to coerce me into watching it. The previews were bad enough: apparently Hollywood thinks they can hook a lot of women by showing "humorously" dysfunctional families. But there's one thing they'll never show you in the previews: if a subplot--or worse, the whole blasted movie ("Life As A House", for example)--is about someone dying of cancer. I wish there was a web site to alert the unwitting and unwilling as to when a movie featured terminal disease, because I *really* don't enjoy that kind of "entertainment".