20 April 2004

Some quality on a Tuesday afternoon...

Caught a couple flicks during my hiatus between jobs. I'll get to them in a moment, but first, I forgot about

Hidalgo: 3.5 Stars. It was nice of Disney to bring back a seemingly forgotten genre: the classic epic adventure. A rundown former long distance horseracer (Viggo Mortenson) and his horse, Hidalgo, sign up for one last shot at glory, a 3000-mile race across the Arabian desert. It's a pretty straight, no-chaser plot with the typical obstacles and such, but it's in the execution that this film shines. There's no attempt to create a post-modern anti-hero. There are no sunny, politically correct moments. There's no woman who is as badass as Aragorn himself. This is just an adventure tale, plain and uncomplicated, and a good one at that. A man and his horse, with the world against him, defy the odds and reign (rein?) victorious. Not to spoil the end, but it wasn't exactly a surprise. Go and see it. Take the kids.

And back to today:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: 3.75 Stars. Easily the best film of the year so far, writer Charlie Kaufman ponders a technology which allows us to simply erase, from our minds, all trace of loved ones who have left or died. Jim Carrey and the ever-succulent Kate Winslet (the #1 hottie in film, for my money) play Joel and Clementine. They meet. They fall in love. They fight. They break up. Kate erases Joel. Joel erases Kate. Life goes on. If only it were so simple. You get that much from the trailer; the movie itself is a sight to behold. Everyone in this film is just awesome: Carrey, Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, and David Cross all deserve kudos for their work, and they all leave us wondering why more movies can't be as novel and thought-provoking as this one.

The Punisher: 3 Stars. I'll admit it, when I heard they cast Thomas Jane as Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher, I was wondering what the people at Lion's Gate were smoking. Sure, he'd been in a few good violent flicks, like Thursday, but he would have to ratchet up the bad-assedness several levels to be believable as the uber-vigilante Castle. And, to my surprise, he managed to do just that. The film was loosely based on one of my favorite graphic novels of recent years, Punisher, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. I highly recommend it if you like ultra-violent revenge fantasies. Anyway, the villianous Ma Gnucchi has been replaced, unfortunately, by car salesman cum money launderer, Howard Saint, played by John Travolta. Saint's son is killed during a sting by FBI Agent Castle. Saint wants revenge, so he kills Castle's whole family, conveniently during a family reunion so pretty much everyone gets offed. Castle, left for dead, comes back and opens up a giant drum of whoopass. Kudos to John Pinette, the funniest fatman in the business, and to whomever thought of the third-to-last death scene.

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