Busy Guy reviews
2005 Movies on DVD
Every once in a while it's good to become re-acquainted with the film world. I am frequently astonished to witness so much money and effort invested in so many terrible films. But, there are a few marvelous finds as well. On this page we intend to apprise you of both (46 films).
'Crash' - Like 'Traffic' this film explores the very real undertone of daily living. An all star cast creates a brilliant representation of racial bias, anger, revenge and regrets in unexpected ways. It's the kind of riveting film that captures so totally you dare not look away. It is a likely best picture contender for 2005.
'Monster-in-Law' - By all rights this movie should have been brilliant. Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez together... wow! Rather unfortunately it doesn't quite deliver the goods, mostly due to poor writing and shallow direction. The only consistent performance is from Wanda Sykes.
'War of the Worlds' - A giant special effects tour de force. It's interminably grim. Plot pieces are loosely connected. A fine performance from Tim Robbins goes unacknowledged. At the very end and only for a moment do we see Gene Barry in a doorway (he starred in the original). It is a fine example of extravagant ego film making.
'The Skeleton Key' - A genuinely haunting work using little if any special effects. Starring Kate Hudson with Gena Rowlands, we explore the world of Cajun mysticism. Filmed in the bayou, the film ends with a jaw dropping and unsettling reversal.
'Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith' - Maybe I've truly gotten older, maybe the Star Wars franchise is too broad encompassing too many productions over too many years. The saga of a galaxy far, far away is presented with pristine 'green screen' CGI and a detailed script. Lucas continues to be a most successful director of action but loses us in the dramatic bits. The camaraderie of Luke, Han and Leia dissipated long ago and has never been re-imagined.
'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' - Attractive people, high action, spectacular effects, and just a hint of scandal... it's movie magic!! This film launched the great Brad and Jen media ordeal as their union dissolved. Jolie raises her impish eyebrows so often one has the sense that there is more to it than acting.
'Batman Begins' - Although this film seems to begin slowly and even ramble, it's likely you will become immersed in this new production of a familiar story. It's a very gritty, very focused documentation of one man's journey towards self realization. The performances of Liam Neeson, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman help this tale considerably. In many ways the production is unique. In many other ways it proves once and for all that the best role to play in Hollywood is that of the dumb lackey... there's just so much available work!
'Herbie Fully Loaded' - This recycled premise is utterly ridiculous but that doesn't stop it from tugging on the heartstrings! If there is one thing at which Disney excels it would be the anthropomorphic story line. It is a winning formula exploited time and again. Without the contemporary styles of Lindsay Lohan this film would still be in the 'junkyard'. This time out Matt Dillon is the cheating cad and Michael Keaton is the befuddled Dad. Additionally, we can enjoy perhaps the most blatantly obvious product placement of any film in recent history. The true star of this film is number 53.
'Man of the House' - Manly man Tommy Lee Jones becomes the house sitter for an entire cheerleading squad who have witnessed a murder. Naturally the girls are all 'hotties' and there's plenty of mid-rift shots for men. Every cantankerous, curmudgeon joke in the book is trotted out as these two worlds collide. Throw in a few touching moments while philosophies are exchanged and there's the flick. The role is tailor made for Mr. Jones given the stiffness he brings to each portrayal.
'Bewitched' - Nicole Kidman is fresh and present in every way, Will Ferrell is 'willing' to do whatever it takes to entertain us. So why is this film less than satisfying? I personally think the concept is flawed. The script calls for a fading star to remake a 60's sitcom. The would be Darrin selects his reluctant co-star based only upon the twitching of her nose! This girl is an actual witch! The movie takes off in an unexpected direction. We are dragged between the two realities so often that we no longer care about anyone! Shirley McClaine as Endora is wasted, Michael Caine is wasted as well. What should have been a tremendous success is reduced to TV movie status... too bad.
'Miss Congeniality 2' - No doubt it's Sandra Bullock's personal charm that makes this film. There are at least a dozen cameos to assist. It received terrible reviews by the pros but I found it to be a fun ride. It's a comedic farce in the tradition of the classic comedies. There are plenty of embarrassing, forgettable scenes. It's no classic but it's a fun diversion for a rainy afternoon.
'Sin City' - Shot in the style of film noir ('Pleasantville' (black and white with color accents). An impressive roster of cameos even though the film has no real sets. It is immensely grim and gory with matching violence... definitely not for kids. These are intense vignettes of testosterone driven vengeance. A real attention getter.
'Melinda & Melinda' - Dinner guests discuss the comedic/dramatic aspects of a story through live action perspectives. As with most of Woody Allen's work the humor is presented as subtle asides. Mr. Allen recently turned 70 and complains that his marriage is a mostly paternal relationship. Mrs. Allen is 35 years his junior.
'Million Dollar Baby' - Filled with Eastwood's crusty charm. Hillary Swank deserves every bit of her Oscar. She is transformed. Twice. It's not easy to watch women boxing. The humble beginnings of Swanks character and her dysfunctional families' inability to appreciate or understand calls to some part of us all. Your pulse will race, you're heart will break.
'March of the Penguins' - As the name truly implies, this is a documentary about the arduous migration of emperor penguins. Narrated by the ubiquitous Morgan Freeman along with astonishing photography, it describes in vivid detail a journey both terrible and promising.
'The Dukes of Hazard' - Unless you're viewing this film to witness the 'Daisy Dukes' then don't bother. If someone put Jessica Simpson's photo on bottled beer guys would learn to love it just so they see her picture between sips!
'The Pacifier' - Action stars try desperately not to become type cast. In this film Vin Diesel gives a tough and surprisingly warm performance as a substitute Dad. There are plenty of tasteless 'potty' moments, but we get to enjoy a number of character arcs that leave us feeling good and uplifted. Finally we learn the true meaning of the 'Peter Panda Dance'.
'Cinderella Man' - If you love 'Rocky' this film is for you. The fight sequences are amazing. A feel good story of a decent man truthfully dramatized. Brutal edge of your seat stuff.
'The Longest Yard' - A remake of the famous Burt Reynolds film. It's quite a reach for us to embrace Adam Sandler as the Burt character (Burt played professional ball). Featuring several SNL buds and even Burt himself, the film tries hard to find humor in racial competition, gay bias, sex in prison etc. Chris Rock is always the same person so nothing there.
'Constantine' - A special effects bonanza. A big budget thriller. Plot twists and reversals make it hard to follow. You're never quite sure where the bear sits.
'National Treasure' - An unusually good film starring Nicholas Cage. I watched it twice which says something. Good chemistry, fair writing and a well directed presentation. This film has 'watch ability'. Of course, for anyone who would steal the Constitution there is no happy ending.
'The Upside of Anger' - Not a heartwarming comedy as billed. One great performance from Joan Allen. A family of women confront each other after the father disappears. Also features the perennial beer drinking of Kevin Costner.
'Grizzly Man' - A documentary about Timothy Treadwell and his perilous obsession with grizzlies. An incoherent 'peace-nic' who accomplished no true scientific work in 13 contiguous summers before he and an unidentified woman were summarily consumed.
Several movies didn't resonate with me and so a paragraph was not included: 'Christmas with the Kranks', 'Fantastic Four', 'Millions', 'Dirty Love', 'Sahara', 'The Interpreter', 'A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy', 'Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo', 'The Ring II', 'XXX: State of the Union', 'The Brothers Grimm', 'Must Love Dogs', 'Hide and Seek', 'Stealth', 'Kingdom of Heaven', 'Into the Blue', 'Serenity', 'Havoc', 'Fever Pitch', 'My Date with Drew', 'The Perfect Man', 'Two Brothers', 'Blue Crush'