Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I'd never heard about this movie, but David and Xiaofan had it saved on Tivo so we all watched it. It turned out to be a terrific little directorial debut by Greg Marcks, with an interesting cast including Hilary Swank, Barbara Hershey, a hefty Patrick Swayze, and Rachael Leigh Cook. The movie is about a series of interconnected events happening around 11:14pm (hence the title), and as such bears a similarity to movies like Pulp Fiction and Crash. Unfortunately, unlike those two, there is no deeper meaning connecting the plot lines. They're all interconnected, but that's it. Still, this is an interesting, well-made movie. And it's short - about 90 minutes. It's nice to see a new director keep the movie short. I mean, who's going to take a chance on a 3 hour megalith by an unknown? At least keep it short so that if we don't like it we haven't lost much. Okay let me get down from my soapbox...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Aeon Flux

This is basically a Matrix ripoff, but unlike that movie this one is more style than substance. The only redeeming quality is the stunning Charlize Theron, and the movie does not disappoint in that respect with many closeups and skin-tight costumes. But the story is rather shallow. And the movie itself is shot very small. The action sequences and special effects are lacking, and the movie tries to cover this up by shooting many sequences in closeups with indistinguishable objects whizzing around.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tomorrow Never Dies

Pasha has promised that this is the end of the Bond marathon, thank god. This, the 2nd Pierce Brosnan Bond, is a good enough movie. I features two sexy yet smart women in Teri Hatcher and Michelle Yeoh. Michelle Yeoh in particular is radiant, this movie coming 3 years before her American breakout role in Crouching Tiger. The thing that really kills this movie is the terrible villain. Perhaps in 1997, the idea of powerful media conglomerates dominating the planet was scary, but it isn't any more. His ultimate goal? "Exclusive broadcasting rights in China for the next 100 years!!!" Yawn.

Pierce Brosnan is fantastic as James Bond - he is perfect for the role. In fact, I have decided that all male acting roles in every movie ever made shall be played by Pierce Brosnan. Let it be so!


This has to be the best of the Brosnan Bond movies. It's very well made, and features two hotties in Famke Janssen (of X-Men fame), and relative unknown Izabella Scorupo. It also benefits from very good villains, including Boromir ... er, I mean Sean Bean. :)

Btw, I tried to watch Howl's Moving Castle again, but had to stop in the middle. It's a good movie, but lacks the wonder of movies like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, and Nausicca.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Howl's Moving Castle

I'd heard that this movie was not as good as Miyazaki's previous efforts. Well I shouldn't have worried. Even an average Miyazaki work is better than most of the stuff out there. This movie did have a different feel to it, perhaps because it was based on a book by another writer. (Though I'm not sure what the source was for the other movies.) It's quite involved, and towards the end it's a little hard to keep track of what is going on. It's also more of a "people" type film, so it's more similar to Kiki's Delivery Service than say, Spirited Away.

The thing I really like about Miyazaki is his restraint. He's not constantly blasting us with background music or gratuitous action scenes. In fact, a lot of the beginning of the movie is rather quiet. I think some people would get bored with this, but I find it allows me to really sink into the ambience of the movie and the characters. The story - where a young girl Sophie overcomes her limitations (both self-imposed, and subjected on her by others), and truly makes an impact on those around her - is very uplifting.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The World Is Not Enough

Pasha is going through a Bond phase, so we watched The World Is Not Enough last night. I'm not a huge Bond fan, but I do like this one, primarily due to the amazing performance by Sophie Marceau. Has there been a more substantial role for an actress in a Bond movie? Usually they are these fluffy, one-dimensional parts by less accomplished actresses. But the character of Electra King is quite involved, although the premise behind the character is admittedly a bit contrived, and Sophie Marceau delivers an edgy, nuanced performance. In fact, she dominates the screen in every scene she's in. Even scenes with Pierce Brosnan, which is saying something because he has a tremendous screen presence. I'm trying to Netflix more of her movies, but like Monica Bellucci, most of her roles in U.S. movies are secondary (outside of Braveheart). I hear she is very popular in France.

There are two things holding this movie back. One is a very weak villain in Reynard. He's just not intimidating at all. And the least they could have done is cast someone taller than Sophie Marceau! It would have made him seem less feeble. The second is one of the all-time worst acting performances in history by Denise Richards. Even ignoring the crazy notion of Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist, her acting is just terrible. Anyways, Pasha thought she looked hot, and I guess that is her main purpose in the movie.

The opening sequence with the boats is amazing - one of the best opening sequences I've seen in awhile. Strangely the other action sequences in the movie fall much flatter, notably the skiing one. I noticed the boat sequence has a lot more distance shots, while the skiing one is shot more up close and feels much smaller in scale. I'll have to think about this more.