Sunday, February 26th, 2006
Sunday Cleaning Volume 25
In honour of the Acadamy Awards next week, the fact that I’ve seen a bunch of movies lately without any blog comment and the fact that I haven’t had time to listen to any of the promo stuff I’ve been sent lately, a movie edition of Sunday Cleaning! Oh, and much-belated commentary on last week’s 24.
|Nick Park & Steve Box / Wallace & Gromit In The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit
Why can’t all movies be this fun? It’s an odd world we live in where the G-rated films are some of the best ones out there. Before this, I’d not seen any Wallace & Gromit shorts (though I did see Chicken Run), so the adventures of the cheese-loving inventor and his faithful pooch were new to me. It was clever and crafty, but without the nod-nod-wink-wink pop culture references that have become the norm in animated features. And come on – claymation is amazing. Fun fun fun fun fun. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d go look up synonyms for “fun”, because they’d all apply. And the bonus feature where they show how to make a rabbit out of some wire and plasticine is awesome.
|Martin Campbell / The Legend Of Zorro
There was nothing inherently wrong with the idea of making a sequel to The Mask Of Zorro – Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who were excellent in the first, were back on board and there was no reason it couldn’t have been another fun romp through 18th century California… except someone decided that it should be equal parts screwball romantic comedy, James Bond-style thriller and Spy Kids family friendly. In other words, a complete dog’s breakfast. The plot goes from silly to ludicrious and while Banderas and Zeta-Jones, who still have excellent chemistry, try to make the best of it, their efforts are overwhelmed by the sheer awfulness of the script. And this film just offers further evidence that including children in films is almost never a good idea. Disclaimer – I saw this film on the plane and had no say in its selection.
|Fernando Meirelles / The Constant Gardener
You know, I think this may have been the first film I’ve seen with Ralph Fiennes where’s he’s not playing some manner of freak. Oh wait, no I saw Quiz Show way back when, but for some reason only remember him in Red Dragon and Harry Potter. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. This film, filmed on location in Kenya, was superb – Fiennes and Rachel Wiesz have a real chemistry between them and the plot, involving pharmaceutical companies testing drugs on poor Kenyans, is timely and disturbing. It works on every level – as a romance, thriller, drama, mystery… Fernando Meirelles, who also made City Of God, proves he’s for real and one hell of a director. And the title of the film, which always perplexed me, finally made sense after seeing it. Still odd, though.
|Bennett Miller / Capote
Another film that’s about as good as the hype – this one pretty much rides entirely on Philip Seymour Hoffman, and he delivers. He takes a role that would have been so easy to turn into caricature and instead gives it real depth while maintaining the superficial veneer that was Capote’s public face. It’s amazing to see the change in his character as he becomes more and more entwined with the killers he’s researching for his book, In Cold Blood, as it becomes evident that the psychological toll it’s taking is far more than he bargained for. And first-time director Bennett Miller does a remarkable job in both documenting it and making Manitoba look even bleaker than normal.
Looks like last week was the one-third season character rotation episode. Exit medium-bad, enter big bad. Enter new spy guys.. and exit new spy guys. Nathanson sure looked to be outnumbered and outgunned in that warehouse. Good thing he had all those fast cuts to keep the baddies disoriented. Too bad he didn’t have enough sense to not crawl out in the open when the helicoptor opened fire. I rather like how they’re involving the president far more in this season’s storyline, making him and his decisions more integral to the plot. But I still want to punch him in the face. I propose a new 24 drinking game – every time Logan delegates a decision to someone else, you have a drink. Guarantee you’ll be loaded in under 15 minutes.