Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Quick Takes, February 16 - March 7

by Brian
Why We Fight - I thought this could have been a very strong, nonpartisan documentary on US military spending; it was for the first half or so. But it veered off into a very standard critique on the Iraq war in the second half. Not that I disagree with the very standard critique of the Iraq war, of course, but it's ground that's been covered often enough that people have long since made up their minds about what they think of it.

The World's Fastest Indian - A strong performance by Anthony Hopkins in a movie that is otherwise painfully dull. Was Burt Munro's trip from New Zealand to the Bonneville Salt Flats really interesting enough to deserve a movie? I have no doubt that Munro was a fascinating dude, but I'm not sure it's a story that lends itself to movies. He tinkers with his bike, and then he rides it real fast. That's about it. To solve that problem, the filmmakers have to pretend that meeting a transvestite on Sunset Boulevard is an important chapter in his life. But I wonder.

Eight Below - Surprisingly decent. The work with the dogs was amazing, really. The work with human actors less so; don't tell me it's 30 below and then have actors outside in a light jacket that isn't even zipped up all the way in the next scene. But very well shot and interesting enough.

16 Blocks - Very creaky plot but well acted and competently directed. A lot of folks have criticized Mos Def's performance, especially his high-pitched voice, but I thought it was far better work than the very by-the-numbers script deserved. It's rare to see someone build a character from scratch like this.

Firewall - Even more creaky plot, and not as well acted and directed. Harrison Ford really phoned this one in. It's astonishing to see him have so little impact. And I really, really hated Paul Bettany's performance; I'm so sick of smooth-talking, coldly psychopathic bad guys. Die Hard was almost 20 years ago, and it's time to find a different way to play these guys already.


Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I've seen the first ten or so minutes of Eight Below and the last ten or so (in my capacity as movie theater employee). Seemed okay, and I also noticed the actors running around as if it were 30 degrees out, not 30 below. But to me, the most interesting thing about this film is that it's female lead has a name that must have been created by a Dungeons and Dragons player--Moon Bloodgood. How cool is that?

3/08/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

"But to me, the most interesting thing about this film is that it's female lead has a name that must have been created by a Dungeons and Dragons player--Moon Bloodgood."


Sorry, couldn't resist.

On another note, I was really engrossed by Why We Fight. National political documentaries of that kind always get to me somehow. I can recommend The Secret History of the CIA ( as well.

3/08/2006 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

I was thinking while watching the Oscars (with the clip from The Big Country) and then later the TCM repeat of their Charlton Heston episode of Private Screenings: Harrison Ford has become the modern-day Charlton Heston. It's interesting how this kind of phenomenon happens to actors while you're not paying attention. At this stage Ford is heading towards a patriarchal guest-starring role on a popular TV soap opera. But maybe I'm wrong.

3/08/2006 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I think Ford's still got it. It's just that he doesn't care anymore. Sooner or later some indie filmmaker will probably lure out his last great performance.

3/08/2006 04:14:00 PM  

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