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Archive for March, 2004

School of Kong.

Jack Black joins Peter Jackson’s King Kong as “adventurer-filmmaker Carl Denham” (played by Robert Armstrong in the original.) Um, trust PJ, I guess. Update: Adrien Brody’s the other lead. That works.

Forget-Me-Not.


While The Ladykillers ultimately fell well short of expectations, I thought Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind lived up to the hype and then some. One part Annie Hall, one part Sliding Doors, three parts Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine is an exceptionally strange take on the romantic comedy, and probably the best flick by the screenwriter in question since Being John Malkovich. (It probably helped that I tend to be a fan of almost all the folks at work here, particularly Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah “Bad Frodo” Wood, and David Cross.) While the movie occasionally lapses into gratuitous symbolism (The “lost and gone forever” name “Clementine,” for instance) and hokey pop psychology (All of the Carrey-as-baby scenes were done more quickly and effectively in the Cameron Diaz-Catherine Keener chase scene through Malkovich’s brain), Sunshine is a fun, thought-provoking look at relationships and memory, and one that definitely holds together better than Gondy and Kaufman’s last collaboration, Human Nature.

I don’t want to say too much about Eternal Sunshine, as I think it’s probably a movie best enjoyed fresh. But just to give a sense of where my own brain was at during the film, there’s a scene near the end where Joel and Clementine are talking in a Barnes & Noble, and as they chat the books around them slowly lose their color and titles, until they’re all just blank. I think this scene unnerved me more than any other in the film…I wanted to shout, “Not until Thursday! Just remember them until Thursday!” Until then, I’d like to keep my mind as spotted as possible, thank you very much.

Lady and the Tramp.

Well, a swing-and-a-miss by the Coen brothers is still more entertaining than a lot of movies out there…nevertheless, The Ladykillers is something of a disappointment. I was amused by the film throughout, and particularly in the early minutes at the sheriff’s office, but, frankly, Ladykillers never really takes off. In fact, given how thinly conceived and surprisingly one-dimensional all of the supporting characters turn out to be, you often get the sense the brothers are slumming it. (Jokes about Irritable Bowel Syndrome? C’mon, y’all…you’re the Coens, not the Farrellys.)

Perhaps most disappointing about The Ladykillers is the realization that Tom Hanks, an actor I normally root for, hasn’t quite found his rhythm in Coenland quite yet. While I’m not quite sure how it could have come off differently, his turn as Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, PhD doesn’t really work here…he’s more distracting than anything else. (I think there’s hope for Hanks, though…George Clooney seemed much more at ease in Intolerable Cruelty than he did in O Brother.) And as for the lady in question, Irma P. Hall is fun for the most part, but she too could have benefited from better material from the Coens – once the gang of thieves shows up in her root cellar, she has little to do but act affronted. A relatively amusing time at the cinema, to be sure, and particularly if you’re already sold on their sense of humor, but all in all this is a hiccup for the brothers Coen. Here’s hoping next time around is a little more satisfying.

In the Batroom.

Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins gets even more star-laden with the additions of Tom Wilkinson and Rutger Hauer to Gotham City. Apparently, Wilkinson’s a crime lord, while Hauer’s scheduled to attempt a hostile takeover of Wayne Enterprises. Are we going to have enough screen time for all these folks?

The Enemy of my Enemy.

Describing his candidacy as a “second front against Bush, however small,” Nader schedules a pow-wow with John Kerry next month to discuss the best way of defeating Dubya. See, fellow Dems? He’s on our team.

The Truth Comes Out.

Hmm…I’ve been so busy this week that I’ve completely missed out on the Clarke 9/11 testimony, but it sounds like he’s not only fighting mad at the Bushies for their Iraq sideshow and failures on the terrorism front, he’s deflecting their usual smear tactics quite swimmingly. Good stuff.

It’s getting Sirius.

The new Prisoner of Azkhaban trailer is online, and, look, the camera moves! We’re already a step ahead of the first two Chris Columbus outings.

File under “Bring it on.”

Hey did you hear the one about Dubya looking under a chair and asking, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere?” Chuckle, chuckle. Yeah, well I can think of almost 600 Americans (to say nothing of their families) that don’t find Dubya’s snickering all that goddamn funny. The Prez hasn’t been in such lousy taste since the day he scampered across the WTC rubble playing fratboy with a bullhorn.

0-for-3?

Episode III: The Creeping Fear? Bleah.

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