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Art School Confidential (2006) – His Review October 1, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Comedy, Drama, Movies, Mystery.
1 comment so far

There's a pink elephant at the art school

Dir. Terry Zwigoff

Starring Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, John Malkovich etc.

Harassed teen boy Jerome (Minghella) finally gets out of high school hell and gets to follow his dream of becoming the world’s greatest artist.

However, all is not well at the Strathmore Institute where Jerome enrolls. Many teachers have stopped caring, and many students are knee-deep in pretentious bullshit. And there’s also the little detail of a serial killer on the loose. As a result the school atmosphere isn’t as chill as he’d have hoped, and he has to find new ways to be creative and compete.

Art School Confidential is written by Daniel Clowes, who wrote Ghost World and the comic book it was based on. Terry Zwigoff was the director then too, and it seems they enjoyed the work and the result, since they’re pairing up to dance again. The result is not as good this time, if a direct comparison is to be made, but the movies are not really in the same genre. While you could say Ghost World went for “melancholic comedy about cross-generational friendship”, Art School Confidential is less easily defined. It’s a satire, and it’s at times good at it. It’s a murder mystery, but it’s not very mysterious. Most of all it’s about expectations and dreams, and how realizing them can be harder if you need to stay in control, instead of letting things happen. Well, it tries to be.

If you only watch it for the funny, it’s probably gonna satisfy you. The trailer is hilarious, and the movie resembles that remark.

This is His review, you can read Her review here.

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Nothing (2003) – His Review August 20, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Comedy, Fantasy, Movies, Mystery, Sci-Fi.
1 comment so far

Much ado about Nothing

Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Starring David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Gordon Pinsent etc.,

This review contains no spoilers!

This is not the movie version of Seinfeld, but it is a movie about nothing.

Nothing is the story of two friends who both have the worst day of their lives. Dave is accused of embezzling from his work, he is fired, and his girlfriend dumps him. Andrew gets locked out of the house and ends up accused of molesting a girl scout. To top it off they receive notice that their house is being demolished.

Then nothing happens.

If you enjoy odd movies that deal with pure fantastic elements, you’ll like this movie. It’s not a joke-y comedy, it’s got much more in common with arthouse cinema than National Lampoon, but it is very funny. It gets a bit dark and grim at times, but there’s fun in that too.

I can’t really go into anything more about this movie without ruining at least part of the actual point of it. I hadn’t seen the trailer for it before seeing the movie, and they do give way too much away in it, so you may want to steer clear (link to the trailer in case you just don’t care). I promise, it’s a lot more fun to see this film without knowing what’s gonna happen. And it’s an everflowing source of puns – “What did you watch today?” “Oh, Nothing”.

This is His review, you can read Her review here which doesn’t have spoilers either.

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Nothing (2003) – Her Review August 20, 2006

Posted by Eury in Comedy, Fantasy, Movies, Mystery, Sci-Fi.
1 comment so far

Nothing lasts forever

Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Starring David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Gordon Pinsent etc.,

David and Andrew have been best friends since they’ve been 9 years old. Neither are popular; Dave is very self-centered and Andrew is afraid of everything. They survive by sticking together. Even as an adult, David (David Hewlett) doesn’t get along well with anyone, except for Andrew (Andrew Miller) work at home travel agent, agoraphobic and pack rat. They live together in a house filled to the brim with lots of junk until one day their lives take a spin for the worse when both are accused of crimes they have not committed. Nothing more of the plot can be told after this without spoiling all the fun, and I really don’t want to do that.

What I can say is this film, written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, who also wrote and directed the famous Canadian cult classic “Cube” is truly “nothing” to scoff at. Natali, quite famous for his grandiose visions that he creates with low-budgets and green/blue screens does not disappoint. This movie is extremely funny, extremely original and like “nothing” I’ve ever seen before and it sort of makes me proud to say that it’s Canadian! Trust me, find this little unknown jewel and let yourself enjoy something truly unique.

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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Dark City (1998) – Her Review August 17, 2006

Posted by Eury in Movies, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller.
1 comment so far

Where the sun don't shine!

Dir. Alex Proyas

Starring Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Keifer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly etc.,

Dark, as in secret; dark as in hidden; dark as in foreboding; dark as in unenlightened. Dark as in night… without sun, as in mystery, evil, hellish, bad, sinister. Dark, the perfect adjective to describe this city and this movie. Very film-noir, very stylistic and thought-provoking.

Our story begins with a vocal introduction by whom we soon learn is Dr. Schreber (Keifer Sutherland )who explains that aliens from another planet, have altered the memories of humans to find out what makes us tick, so to speak.

Our central character, John Murdoch, (Rufus Sewell) wakes up in a hotel room with a murdered prostitute. He doesn’t know if he killed her as he doesn’t remember anything, not where he is, not even who he is… and he, of course, doesn’t know that someone’s been mucking around with his brain and using him as a guinea pig.

While being chased by both the very dead-looking alien strangers (dressed appropriately in black leather duds) and the dead-pan faced detective, Bumstead, (William Hurt) he tries to uncover his identity and his memory, which he captures in very tiny spurts of seeing himself as a young boy at the beach.

For once, (unlike the DaVinci Code) a film does a great job of not spoon-feeding us every single clue. It relies on us, the audience, to take notice of details so that we can piece together the mystery for ourselves. It treats us with respect and credits us with being intelligent enough to do it on our own. Bravo! It also contains an action sequence that (even though 8 years old) puts many current sci-fi mystery thrillers to shame.

Warning: Spoiler in following paragraph:

As much as I want to try to avoid saying too much, I will say though that this movie delves into questions that both we and psychanalysts have asked for the longest time… what is real? Is anything real, even love? Or is it all just a dream? Are we being examined by some super-beings. Are we living in a world like the Matrix?

Stylistically, this movie has so much going for it. It looks like it’s pulled directly out of a graphic novel or a very dark video game. I was very surprised that I had never heard of this movie before Jinx’s suggestion of watching it. An original movie that surely could be watched over and over again, as knowing the end doesn’t detract from it’s uniqueness and the cool feeling it will be to find those treasured little details you may have missed the first or second time around. A true classic.

This is Her Review. Read His Review Here

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Dark City (1998) – His Review August 17, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Movies, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller.
1 comment so far

In the dead of night, love bites

Dir. Alex Proyas

Starring Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Keifer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly etc

Dark City gets quite a bit of it’s character from old-school film noir and pulp novels. Our main character John has lost his memory, and searches for clues in the dark. The femme fatale (his wife) is a singer at a nightclub. There is a killer on the loose, and an almost washed-out cop is on the case. It certainly sounds like something that has been boiling hard since the 40’s. However, we the audience already know things are not what they seem.. (thanks for the prologue narrative Keifer).

As it turns out, mysterious “strangers” who can alter reality hold the city at siege, it’s citizens unknowing and uncaring. John’s search for his own identity leads him on a cat-and-mouse chase, and finally a stand-off with the bald baddies.

As a pitch it has some flaws, but the way this movie is put together it just makes perfect sense. The pace is eerily slow, but never dull, it’s just like peeling a fruit slowly makes it taste that much better. It’s creepy but not horror, it has no comic relief but it’s not humorless.

The effects and the look of the movie is also very cool. If you’ve complained about movies being “too dark” at some point, chances are they were just badly lit and shot. Dark City shows that there is lots of detail to be found in a two-tone palette of black and black (yes I’m exaggerating a bit). Things in this movie may strike you as very similar to the Matrix, but it’s best if you discard those thoughts and focus on this movie. Yes, the Wachowskis are thieves, but they steal some pretty damn good stuff.

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) – His Review August 13, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Comedy, Drama, Movies, Mystery.
2 comments

She was weighing her options

Dir. Clint Eastwood

Starring John Cusack, Kevin Spacey, Jude Law, Alison Eastwood

Going in, I had this movie pegged as a dirty south noir thriller, exposing some sort of old truth about people. An antithesis to Gone With the Wind if you will. Gritty, templated, and.. well.. probably boring.

Boy was I wrong.

It’s kind of fun seeing a movie with absolutely nothing to go on but the movie poster, isn’t it? Anyways, this is more in the vein of a Coen brothers comedy, where the subtle and traditional get brushed off and displayed alongside the bizarre and spectacular, without any preferential treatment.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil tells the tale of freelance reporter John Kelso, who gets a gig in Savannah, Georgia to cover an exclusive christmas party for the magazine Town & Country. The scoop quickly derails when the host of the party, eccentric millionaire Lex Luthor, shoots and kills Alfie (none too soon).

Kelso sticks around though, and turns private investigator as he interviews the people around the area, finding just as much oddities as clues. The whole movie feels very laid back and comfortable, perhaps a southern touch. And all of it is entertaining, if not outright hilarious. Now, IMDb doesn’t list it as a comedy, and you may have to be of a certain disposition to find it funny, but that could be said of an Adam Sandler movie as well. The laughs are there if you manage to connect to the warm, pulsating core of it. The suspense is mostly missing, the crime mystery is secondary to the rest of the story, even though everything is centered around it. It adds a bit of realism to this half-true story, since in real life things aren’t resolved in the third act.

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) – Her Review August 13, 2006

Posted by Eury in Comedy, Drama, Movies, Mystery.
1 comment so far

Geez, your dog really has lost a lot of weight

Dir. Clint Eastwood

Starring John Cusack, Kevin Spacey, Jude Law, Alison Eastwood

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is based on a true story about nouveau-riche collector , Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey) accused of having murdered his gigolo boyfriend, Billy Hanson (Jude Law). The story is set in the very southern, gothic town of Savannah, Georgia where the Victorian homes are surrounded by manicured lawns and bushes and enclosed in wonderfully ornate black iron fences. John Kelso (John Cusack) a reporter that is there, for a day only, to cover the Williams Xmas party, decides, instead, to stay and interview the town’s people and write a book about the murder.

Although this is supposedly a crime mystery, to me it seems more a depiction of the look and mood of a small southern city where many rich and eccentric people live.

Minor Spoilers ahead

There is the man who walks an invisible dog, an old voodoo woman who wears dark sunglasses even at midnight and a sour alcolholic inventor with huge horse flies on strings attached to his clothing, who walks around with a small bottle of poison that he threatens everyone he’ll dispense into the water system one day and kill them all.

As quirky as these people may seem, what is truly interesting and very droll, is the nonchalant and very accepting reaction of the people that live there. Nobody lifts an eyebrow and it’s just all part of everyday life in Savannah.

One of the more entertaining players in the movie, is Lady Chablis (played by him/herself 😉 ) a transsexual who does a club act about her sexuality yet at the same time keeps her rolled up weiner snitzchel a secret from her boyfriend cause she wants to tell him “when the time is right”.

Although IMDB listed this movie as a crime drama, I find it difficult to place it into this category as the character and mood of the people and place completely override the murder mystery here… yeah, it is there, but to me it almost feels like the subplot. It felt as if the murder mystery was an excuse to show how people of that town reacted to it and other crimes, mostly sweeping it (and any other delicate matters) under the rug, for the sake of appearance. It’s all about southern hospitality and deceptive politeness. It seems as if nobody really cares if he is punished or not, even Williams, himself, who seems more interested in knowing if he will be the main player in the book that John Kelso will write about him. Seeing how he paid “Town and Country” magazine to make sure he would be the writer to cover his Xmas party, it almost seems like the murder was already on his agenda, he just needed the proper person around to make sure that it became not only a newspaper article, but a huge affair, because everything here is bigger and better.

Clint Eastwood‘s daughter’s (Alison Eastwood) role in this movie, Mandy Nichols, probably could have been left on the cutting floor. She is pretty and free-spirited but her relationship with Kelso is boring and we never get at all attached to her at all, they have no love story, it is all incidental and just seemed as an extra distraction.

As a crime mystery, I would say forget it… it isn’t thrilling or very mysterious and you won’t be biting your nails trying to figure out what happened. As a humorous look on a society that is slow paced, (just like their southern drawl), very flamboyant, exotic and over the top… it’s hilarious.

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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Lady in the Water (2006) August 5, 2006

Posted by Eury in Drama, Movies, Mystery, Thriller.
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Insert gratuitous water joke here

Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Starring Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Cindy Cheung etc.

When Cleveland (Paul Giamatti) finds, Story ( Bryce Dallas Howard ) a sea-nymph right out of a bedtime tale, in the pool of the apartment building he is a concierge of, he tries to help her accomplish the mission she has here on land.

Warning: Spoilers in the following paragraph

To help her, he must gather a writer, a guardian, a healer, a translator and a guild to help and protect her from a monster that will try to stop her from being freed. To do so, he asks for help from several tenants of the apartment building that he believes they could be and they gladly all come to his aid.

What is wonderful about this movie, is it’s the kind of thing we would all like to be in the position of doing. Being involved in something magical, mystical and much bigger than ourselves and knowing it’s for the good of all mankind. Here, we are rooting for Cleveland, a man who has lost his wife and children and who sees himself as a nobody. We are not sure how things will turn out but we learn that for the most part people are good and want to help and that even though we don’t always believe it, every one of us may have an important role to play here on earth.

I also appreciated that the movie (in one small scene) turns towards us, the audience, and laughs at itself and movies of this genre. It made me smile.

I enjoyed this movie; it made me root for the little guy and made me feel like, yes… everybody can be a hero. 🙂

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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Lady in the Water (2006) August 5, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Drama, Movies, Mystery, Thriller.
2 comments

Insert gratuitous water joke here

Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Starring Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Cindy Cheung etc.

What is it with Shyamalan that brings out the Siegel in every reviewer in the world? “Muddy Water“, “A Narf is a Narf, already!“, “Shyamalan’s Lady doesn’t hold water“, “Is Lady in the Water a floater?“, and enough similar passes on drowning to make you cough up seaweed. I bet people sat around thinking up “ironically applicable” titles for their reviews the minute this movie started production.

Well, I’m just gonna review this movie, ok? No agenda, no golden shower jokes.

Lady in the Water is the story of a superintendent (Giamatti) who has pretty much given up on himself. The apartment building where he works has a host of interesting characters, much like any place would, and it feels very familiar. It’s a well-defined slice of everyday life. One night he gets a visitor, the mysterious midnight pool intruder Story (Howard), who rekindles something inside him. He regains some of his lost sense of wonder, as he investigates who she could be and what the heck she’s doing in his apartment wearing nothing but one of his shirts.

This movie is Shyamalan spoofing himself in various ways, and it’s fun. If you enjoy movies, the way stories unfold in patterns and turns, you’ll probably enjoy this one. It’s a lot more mundane than his previous films, it’s as if there’s a big budget movie played out within a low budget one. I won’t mention anything about the ending. Is there a twist? Watch it and see. If you can watch a rom-com knowing exactly what’s gonna happen and like it, you can certainly watch a movie where you have no clue, and not feel too cheated.

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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