Friday, January 30, 2004

For your consideration...

Lost in translation

Bill Murray plays Bob Harris, a washed up American movie star who has resorted to endorsing whiskey in Tokyo. Scarlett Johansson portrays a quiet young woman named Charlotte, who has come to the same city with her photographer husband (Giovanni Ribisi). Lonely and jet-lagged, Charlotte and Bob meet in the bar of their Tokyo hotel and set out on a mission to avoid boredom. Directed by Sofia Coppola, Lost in translation is highly recommended viewing.

5 out of 5


Ben Affleck plays Michael Jennings, a reverse engineer who has his memory wiped by associates after spending three years working on a secret project. Jennings is supposed to pick up $92 million worth of stock options afterward but finds that he mysteriously decided to give up the money. He now has to find out why. With the exception of ‘Minority Report’ and ‘Blade Runner’, Philip K. Dick Novels have not been treated kindly in cinematic form. ‘Paycheck’ is by far the worst American movie that Hong Kong director John Woo has ever made. Yes, it’s even worse than ‘Mission: Impossible 2’.

1 out of 5

The Last Samurai

Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) desperately seeks spiritual enlightenment in Ed Zwick’s mind numbingly boring attempt at ‘the epic’. Cruise is woefully miscast as Algren, his bleached white teeth and effortlessly styled hair, nothing more than a distraction. Perhaps in more skilled hands, The Last Samurai could have amounted to something more than just the poor mans ‘Braveheart’. Apart from Ken Watanabe’s excellent supporting turn and John Tolls cinematography, there is very little to recommend here. Avoid.

2 out of 5

Movie Review(School of Rock)...

School of Rock

Dewey Finn (Jack Black) is obsessed with rock & roll. His personal philosophy is to “service society by rocking”. After getting kicked out of the band he founded, he finds himself broke, living in a small corner of the apartment he shares (rent free) with long time friend and now substitute teacher Ned (Mike White). Ned’s girlfriend has transformed him from glam rocker to preppy school teacher and is encouraging him to get rid of Dewey. Dewey answers a phone call meant for Ned and accepts a job as a substitute teacher at an exclusive $15,000 a year private school.

Sometime during his gruelling schedule of day long lunch breaks, he discovers his pupils are actually gifted musicians whom he decides can aid him in his mission to even the score with his former band mates. Determined to convince them to replace classical music with rock, Dewey persuades the class into believing this is a school project and to swear an oath of secrecy. In actuality, Dewey plans on entering them in the Battle of the Bands, which could see him become $20,000 better off. Recruiting the rest of the class as roadies, security, costume designers, and groupies, Dewey abandons normal lessons altogether to develop his new band.

Jack Black (Shallow Hal) gives a fine comedic performance as Dewey, who is probably a lot closer to Blacks real life persona than he would care to admit.
Blacks experience with his real life band, Tenacious D, has allowed him the ability to bring an incredible authenticity to this tailor made role. His passion for the subject is obvious and he gives his all to the fine art of rocking out and "sticking it to the man”.

On supporting duty are Joan Cusack as Principal Mullins, Mike White as Ned, Sarah Silverman as Patty and a solid cast of child actors who were hired for their ability to actually play their instruments. Although occasionally subjected to clichéd characterisations (shy child hiding huge talent etc.), this is far too much fun to argue.

4 out of 5

Movie Review(Big Fish)...

Big Fish

"I tell stories", Edward says.
"No, you tell amusing lies", William replies.
Edward Bloom has a fondness for telling the, at times, implausible tales of his eventful life. As a child his son was an eager listener, yet to the now grown-up William, the tales are a redundant excuse for the actual specifics of his fathers’ life. Edwards’ insistence on treating the guests at his sons wedding to one such tale is the final straw for William who then confronts his father. The pair argue, and as a consequence of each others stubbornness, have not spoken in three years.

When William receives a phone call from his mother, explaining that Edward is not responding to chemotherapy, he fears the worst and returns home. William believes that in his fathers’ refusal to separate fact from fiction, he will never know who his father truly was. As Edward retells his best stories for the last time, William attempts to once and for all, figure out which parts are actually true, which parts aren’t, and crucially, which matters most.

Director Tim Burton has created one of the most fantastical cinematic tales in recent memory. ‘Big Fish’ is a far cry from his earlier work such as ‘Batman’ and ‘Edward Scissorhands’ where Burton seemed reluctant to tackle everyday human emotion, instead opting for sensational oddball characters. Edwards wife, Sandra (Jessica Lange), and William and his wife, Josephine (Marion Cotillard), come across as regular people living straightforward lives. That may be an adequate life for William but for Edward, it is simply intolerable.

The story is told mostly through flashbacks with Ewan McGregor delivering a truly absorbing portrayal of the young Edward Bloom and Alison Lohman(‘Matchstick Men’) as the young Sandra. An impressive supporting cast including Helena Bonham Carter (‘Fight Club’) and Steve Buscemi (‘The Big Lebowski’) as an old fortune telling witch and a bank robbing poet respectively, add greatly to the unmistakably ‘Burton-esque’ set pieces.

4.5 out of 5