I was a movie-watchin' fool over the weekend. Somehow finding myself in front of the old TV for long stretches at a time (and believe it or not, I ran lots of errands and actually did some work on the house as well), I saw some films I hadn't seen before (and some I had seen once or twice), and here they be.
Minority Report This one was the best of the bunch. And it was directed by Steven Spielberg, of all people! Normally, I don't get excited about Spielberg flicks.This time, however, he seemed to make a real effort to minimize the saccharine sentimentality that he habitually saturates his product with, a recent example-his Kubrick collaboration A.I. -Artificial Intellingence, which had some great moments but just drowned in Pinocchio-styled bathos towards the end. Minority Report, however, turns out to be a fascinating concept, well thought out by the scripters, in which Tom Cruise gives a great performance as a fellow on the run from the very police force he was once in charge of. Great special effects, too, many which, again, echo AI- especially the "spiders" which scuttle around in an apartment building to ID people via retinal scan. This is, IMO, a great film, one of the best I've seen from last year without a doubt, should have received some Oscar consideration and might have if the public was in more of a Sci-Fi movie mood and it hadn't been released so early last year. Definitely worth a rental.
XXX Well, what you see is what you get with this one: James Bond for the Extreme Sports and Playstation crowd. How much you like this one will depend on your opinion of Vin Diesel, who plays (as usual) a badass, but loveable, lug who gets drafted into the spy game by Samuel L. Jackson. All the stunts and chases were well done, all the explosions were big and loud, all the music was too and was usually added in the right places...and for my money this was better than at least the last 5 proper James Bond films.
Vanilla Sky I saw a lot of Tom Cruise over the weekend. Vanilla Sky's a mostly incoherent, though beautifully filmed science fictiony morality play which curiously enough uses altered perceptions of reality to deliver the message that love and truth are the most important things in life. I've enjoyed Cameron Crowe's films in the past, and I'm glad he was willing to stretch a bit, but I think he overreached with this one. It never really affected me like I think it was supposed to until the very end, when I was moved a bit. Cruise gives a good performance as an arrogant, conceited character that he manages to convince you isn't really that bad, and you wind up feeling sympathetic for him. Unfortunately, after the pivotal car crash that befalls him, the movie becomes progressively chaotic and blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, and it's hard to follow at times. In all fairness, I think I'll watch this again before I make a final decision. I keep reading that it makes more sense with repeated viewings. As always in Crowe films, the music he uses is outstanding, and he gets a nice song from Paul McCartney over the end credits.
The Sweetest Thing I watched this one because Mrs. Bacardi wanted to, and figured I'd hate it because I don't generally like romantic farces. But this one's pretty loose, cleverly directed, and stars Christina Applegate (more so) and Cameron Diaz (less so-she gets on my nerves with her klutziness in films) meshed well together and kept it fun. So surprise, surprise, I laughed out loud a few times and came away liking it a lot more than I thought I would. Thanks, Mrs. B.
About Last Night They were showing this quintessential Brat Pack flick on one of the pay cable channels, with all its great Demi Moore nude scenes intact, so I got interested and watched it all the way through for the first time in several years. In case you haven't seen it, and I'd be surprised if you hadn't, Its pretty much a typical 80s romantic comedy with lots of 80s music and young pretty people falling in love and getting in fights. Elizabeth Perkins and Jim Belushi were good, Rob Lowe wasn't bad, Demi was great as always, and, like when I saw this back in the 80s, I wound up enjoying it.
Scream Blacula Scream This hastily filmed, super-cheap follow up to the hastily fimed super cheap Blaxploitation film Blacula is still a lot of fun, this time working Voodoo and Pam Grier into the mix. Not as good as the first one, of course, but the scenes leading up to the end, with an attack on Blacula's house full of zombies and vampires by police and one soul brother vampire hunter are set to an insistent voodoo drum rhythm and work up a nice head of steam towards the climax. But the abrupt, ambiguous ending itself kills it. Oh well.
Dead End The first film featuring the Dead End Kids of the 30s and 40s, this one features Humphrey Bogart as a lean, rat-faced gangster who's had plastic surgery and is wanted by the cops who returns home to the slums of New York, only to find out that the old saying "You can't go home again" is quite true-at least in his case. This one's got a great script, acting, and direction, especially for when it was made (script by Lillian Hellman!) and is well worth a look. You can't beat old Bogart movies, I'm tellin' ya.
And that's pretty much my movie weekend!