Monday, July 19, 2004

Once again, I spent the weekend at the movies. I'll start out with one that I had actually seen the week before, but mercifully, my mind had blocked the experience.

Torque
This movie is bad. Laughably bad. And yet, there have been several movies this year that are much, much worse. The reason? At least Torque is so terrible that it affords so many unintentional laughs that the movie could quite accurately be classified as a comedy. The blatant product placement alone would be enough to have me guffawing.

And now, on to this weekend…

Before Sunset
Richard Linklater is simply brilliant. The sequel to his intelligent, talky film Before Sunrise totally exceeds expectations. While the first film was full of hope and wildly romantic, Before Sunset is a more mature piece, with a bit more realistic and perhaps more cynical approach to its subject matter. It's easily my favorite film of the year.

Napoleon Dynamite
This extremely quirky, oddly-paced little flick is definitely not for everyone. The main character is strange and often unlikable, it has no discernible plot to speak of, and the cast boasts only one recognizable actor in B-lister Diedrich Bader (and his role is actually quite small). And yet, I enjoyed it a great deal. The film's odd sense of humor really worked for me, and I'm sure it's destined to be known as a cult classic as time passes.

I, Robot
I'll have more to say about this Alex Proyas film in a column to come later this week, but I, Robot is a smart, entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. The special effects are truly spectacular and there is a manageable blend of humor and action. I recommend the film wholeheartedly, even to Asimov buffs who might have had concerns.

Coffee and Cigarettes
I liked this Jim Jarmusch-directed trifle much more than I expected I would. For those unfamiliar with the movie's concept, it's a series of vignettes set in coffee shops around the world. Each one features interchanges between a different set of characters. Sometimes the characters are real people, and other times - such as when Cate Blanchett plays her own cousin, they're fictional. Not all of the short encounters work, but the ones that do really fire on all cinders. Though the most memorable interlude might be a surreal exchange between Bill Murray and Wu Tang-ers RZA and GZA, the cleverest is certainly the one where Alfred Molina invites Steve Coogan to tea for a stunning bit of news.

Raising Helen
Amazingly, there were eight people in the theater where I saw this piece of tripe. One of the worst films of the year, it had little humor, a clichéd story, and seemed to be never ending. The saddest thing to me is that though I loved Kate Hudson in Almost Famous, her recent films Alex & Emma and Raising Helen are destined to sit amongst my worst of all-time.

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