January 13, 2005

The Village

This movie was about as thrilling as I remember my Western Civilization class being. The plot was potentially interesting, but the acting did little to support that. According to Andrew, it just felt, well, "uninspired."

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 02:03 AM

August 11, 2003

Bringing Down the House

Our friend did indeed join us last night for dinner and a movie as we had hoped she would. The meal was excellent; we marinated turkey breast in a mixture of lemon, oregano, garlic powder, and olive oil for a total of four hours and then broiled it. Andrew made a side of steamed baby carrots flavored with lemon and dill and with my assistance, a nice garden salad. Our guest was kind enough to bring along a round of rosemary olive oil bread. We don't normally eat grains, but this was a special occasion.

We all thought the movie Bringing Down the House was hilarious. Peter Sanderson, who was played by actor Steve Martin, is a divorced lawyer and not a particularly fun guy. He meets a female lawyer (Queen Latifah) in a chat room who is seemingly not only intelligent, but gorgeous. The picture he was given shows a blonde being interviewed in the foreground, outside of what looks to be like a court house. She tells him her name is Charlene. Peter misrepresented himself to her slightly, describing his hair as "boyish." Both consent to meet each other in real-life. This was set to occur at Peter's home in the suburbs, across the street from his prying neighbor's house who also happens to be related to his boss.

Peter spends considerable time getting everything all prepared for his date, setting out the meal, trying on an array of clothing, and creating an atmosphere complete with candle light. When Charlene arrives, he saunters over to the door with champagne in hand. Standing outside was entirely not what he had been expecting: a big black woman wearing cutoffs. She enters and inspects all of his considerations, particularly the food and the candles. Peter quickly detours her from the meal and extinguishes the flames. Charlene turns out to be an ex-con, who pores over law books while locked up in the pen, that wants Peter to help her make an appeal because she's been framed for armed robbery. He insists that she make her departure and she vehemently refuses to do so peacefully. Once outside again she begins to yell loud enough for the neighbors to hear all about Peter's contrived baby that she supposedly gave birth to and he subsequently abandoned. His neighbor (Betty White), upon hearing the clamor, comes outside to investigate. Peter assures her that there was nothing out of the ordinary, but he has to allow Charlene back inside for the moment. When it occurs to Peter to phone the police and just have her removed from the premises, she pulls out logs of their conversations she had with him from inside the prison. Instead, he shows her to a guest room where she spends the night.

The next morning, Peter lures Charlene into coming outside with the talk of bagels accompanied with discussion of her criminal case. There are no bagels and when she discovers this, she turns to run back inside, but Peter has slyly locked the back door behind them. He also carefully disposed of all evidence of their conversations with one another, from her copies to the records on his own hardrive. Her things are waiting for her atop the garbage can. Peter left her like that to go and pick up his children from his ex-wife's house. They were supposed to accompany Peter to Hawaii while his ex goes away on a lover's retreat. No one in the home is precisely thrilled to see him, least of all his ex-sister in-law. Peter had to cancel their trip because he has this new multi-million dollar account he is trying to land for his law firm. His ex-wife's boy-toy comes to pick her up. He's significantly younger than her and at one time he even caddied for Peter. He's all over her from the moment he walks in. Despite appearances, the two divorcees still harbor feelings for each other.

Peter returns back home with his children to find that Charlene has taken over his house. She has some thugs posted outside that are collecting admission for "charity" that Peter has to get past. He threatens to call the cops again and they let him in, at no charge. There are all sorts of people he doesn't know having a good time in his pool and inside. He finds Charlene getting a weave and ahead at gambling. They exchange words and Peter ends up getting tossed into the pool. Shortly after that, the people started to weed out. Charlene was cleaning up the mess they left and Peter convinces her that she should leave. After she gets her money back from Peter's son she does just that. The rest the movie is spent vying for the heiress' business, getting Charlene's name cleared while maintaining appearances, and forging relationships with the right people.

I received an enormous sense of satisfaction from watching the fight scene between Peter's former sister in-law and Charlene. They both kicked some serious ass, but in the end, Charlene prevailed as was only right. I'm not sure this is a movie that I want to run out and add to my collection as soon as it premiers in the previously-viewed DVD section at Hollywood Video. I'll have to wait and see how I feel about it then.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 02:45 PM

August 06, 2003


Sorry to disappoint anyone if you've been patiently waiting since July 31st for me to follow up on viewing the movie Solaris. To tell you the truth, I was no longer intent on writing a review of it after I'd seen it, but I really hate leaving ends loose. According to Andrew, it deviated quite dramatically from the book. Lem didn't intend for it to be interpreted as a love story. I had a hard time following along. Andrew made me feel a bit better about that by telling me that the book gave the audience a lot more to work with. So, I am not even going to trouble myself with trying to recap the plot. Maybe I'll give the book a chance when the movie has completely seeped from my memory banks.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 03:31 PM

July 31, 2003

Pirates of the Caribbean

It's been nearly a week since I watched Pirates of the Caribbean in the theater, I only hope that I can remember enough of it to write an effective review. Well if I don't maybe Andrew can help me fill in some of the gaps. This film is actually based on a theme park ride. Usually it's the other way around; almost anyone on the street can recall a theme park ride that was based on a movie. While at the theater I happened to see a preview for The Haunted Mansion which looked like it may be another ride-gone-movie-plot. I guess the well at Disney has about run dry...

In the opening sequence we see a little girl at the prow of a ship who is singing a pirate song. Other occupants of of the vessel discourage her from doing this, but she secretly wishes to know more about pirates. She spies a boy about her age floating on a piece of wreckage. He is immediately pulled on deck and the girl is charged with looking after him. He has a coin on a chain fastened around his neck. It appears like it should belong to a pirate and so she takes and conceals it from the rest of the crew. In the next scene we encounter the once little girl as young woman. Her name is Elizabeth Swann. Her father happens to be the governor of the little sea port where they reside. Her father has bought Elizabeth a lovely dress. He brings it to her room and announces himself. She scrambles to hide the medallion, which was sitting in a dusty drawer prior to her pulling it out to admire, around her neck and under her nightgown. The fit of the newly acquired dress requires that she wear a corset cinched up so tightly that her breathing is constricted. Garbed in the new fancy attire she goes out on an overlook with the commodore, a man who hopes to eventually woo and wed Elizabeth. He pops the question and she hyperventilates and drops off into the water.

We see a pirate riding aboard a sinking ship. He is greeted by fellow pirates dangling from their neck bones, long since dead. Just as the mast goes underwater he steps off it onto a dock. He proceeds to slip past two men guarding a ship moored offshore when their attention slips. The pirate has already confiscated the ship when he notices Elizabeth falling from the sky. When he determined that neither of the guards can help her, he hands over his things and dives right into the water. He successfully withdraws Elizabeth. Despite having preserved his love's life, the commodore wants to hang the pirate, who we now know is the captain Jack Sparrow. While Elizabeth defends his life, he takes her hostage. He holds onto her long enough to get safely away.

Jack runs into a blacksmith's shop, he finds someone who he presumes to be the blacksmith himself, and determines that he is out like a rock. While he splits the chain that connects his manacles together the real blacksmith returns, whose name is Will Turner. They duel and Jack is taken back into custody. This time he's not so lucky and gets locked up in a cell. There's some other pirates in the prison with him, awaiting their turn to be hanged. They try to escape, by bribing the mutt who keeps the keys, with a bare bone. They get out soon enough anyway.

Some pirates from a ship called the Black Pearl land on the port and during the ensuing battle with the inhabitants a hole is blown into the cell that all the other pirates are in. The invading pirates search for the coin Elizabeth had out and on her person earlier. When they meet up with her they can sense that she has it. She lies to them about her last name and gives the blacksmith's surname (Turner) instead. She only did that so they wouldn't know who her father is. They kidnap, well not precisely kidnap, her and return to their ship. In exchange for giving them back their medallion she asks the captain that they leave the port and not do any more damage. They both agree to the discussed terms, but they did not cover what was to come of Elizabeth herself and consequently she had to stay aboard.

Back onshore it quickly becomes apparent that not only does the commodore have strong feelings for Elizabeth, but so does the blacksmith, Will. They have wildly different ideas of how to rescue the woman they love from the pirates' grasp. Will teams up with Jack Sparrow and together the two swipe the ship that the pirate had in mind to earlier. We learn more along the way, such things as the reason why the pirates of the Black Pearl are so keen on getting all of the gold coins back in their possession and what Will's father has to do with anything at all.

I thought this was a very entertaining movie. Johnny Depp was perfect for the role of Jack Sparrow. I laughed quite a bit along with the rest of the theater's occupants. I can't wait to add this one to our collection of DVDs.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 06:42 PM


We rented two movies last night on our way home from grocery shopping, Daredevil and Solaris. We only had time enough to watch the first of those with our evening meal. Daredevil turned out to be what we were expecting. I thought the opening credits in braille were a bit excessive; Andrew disagreed with me. He felt that it added something to the overall effect of the film, and further, that they were simply a neat concept. Anyway, onto the plot.

The main character of the story is named Matthew Murdock. In the beginning of the film we are introduced to him as a young boy and we learn that his father is a prize-fighter. He does not want his son becoming a fighter like he did to get by. He would rather see him be a doctor or a lawyer and otherwise have a positive impact on society. It is because of how his dad feels that Matthew refuses to let the neighborhood bullies antagonize him to violence. One day little Matthew makes the startling discovery that his daddy is just a thug. Matthew runs off at the sight of his father roughing some guy up and he wound up being in the wrong place at just the wrong time. A forklift cuts open a canister containing hazardous chemicals and they spray out into the child's eyes, permanently blinding him. He awakes in the hospital to find that his other four senses were now compensating for the one he had lost. The father and son make a pact to always and only fight for the underdogs of society. Someone tries to coerce dad to take a spill his next time in the ring but he resists doing so. He may have won the fight, but he ultimately lost his life. Matthew also keeps up his end of the agreement. He grows up to become a lawyer by day and superhero who exacts justice by night, in a neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen. A fiery beauty wins Matthew's affection when she refuses to reveal her name and proves that she can kick some ass. We later learn that she is named Elektra Natchios and is the daughter of a very wealthy man. Her mother had been murdered by the men her father works for and now she fears for his safety. Enter the bad guys the King Pin and Bullseye.

Overall I thought the choreography in the film was pretty good. More money could have been put toward the animation as it was pretty painful stuff to watch. To reiterate what I said earlier, this movie met our expectations of how a superhero movie, largely based on action sequences, should be. I look forward to watching Solaris this evening, even if Andrew doesn't, and getting a review of the movie written and uploaded sometime tomorrow.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 04:37 PM

July 19, 2003

My Neighbor Totoro

This film is by Hayao Miyazaki, as I mentioned yesterday. It opens with a family, consisting of a father and two small girls, moving into a new home in the country. We quickly learn that the mother of the children has been hospitalized, but what for is at best a vague notion. The house is infested upon their arrival with dust bunnies. An old woman, who answers to the name "Nanny", comes to help clean up the house and make it habitable for humans. She explains how to get rid of the intruders with laughter. They follow her sage advice. The creatures mean them no harm and so they retreat back into the forest. Other spirits also reside in the wood, most notably the huge and furry Totoro. Only animals and children are able to see him. Mae, who is five years old, has the first encounter with this creature while her sister Satsuki is away at school. It all begins with chasing down a trail of acorns...

This is such a charming story! It was well worth the $9.99 I paid for this DVD at Best Buy. Happily, it was not at all what I was expecting for that price.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 11:53 AM

July 18, 2003

Princess Mononoke

dolphin puzzle.jpg

Ok, my puzzle is all finished, now what do I do with it? Do I apply some puzz-glue to it and immortilize my triumph forever? If so, where do I display it? How would I go about doing that? Bah. Sounds too complicated. Too many decisions involved. If I take it apart, do I think that I would ever trouble myself to put it back together again? Not likely! I'm thinking that I can't keep this charade up much longer, that puzzles really are my thing, because they just aren't. I felt no real reward when I put that last piece in. Truely, I found the entire process kinda pointless. Yeah, I'm an existentialist, what's your point?? Why waste time putting together puzzles, eventually you're just going to die and you won't be remembered for it. I believe I was channeling Camus' spirit there for a minute. I'm back to myself now, lol.

I need more coffee. Ok, while that's going in the microwave I'll tell you about what I watched last night. It was another film by Hayao Miyazaki (he also brought the world Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, as well as Castle in the Sky) , called Princess Mononoke. The best thing about this one, in particular, is how truly human the characters are. There is no bad guy. There is no good guy. Rather, each is inflicted with the human condition of being both, yet neither. A human settlement becomes embattled with the Gods of the forest over resources: The humans want to continue dredging up the deposits from the ground that they use to fashion their iron bullets with. The Gods want their home to remain intact. During the early stages of the battle a large boar is wounded with a bullet from the primitive weapons of the humans. The hate that this act brings to the creature turns him into a demon. The boar flees the battle, lands in a distant village, and encounters a young prince named Ashitaka. Some of the curse transfers into Ashitaka's right arm before he puts an end to the boar God's fury. He shows his wounds to the holy woman and is charged by the ominous stones to cut his hair and leave his home, never again to return. The boy takes with him the presumption that he is to seek out whatever put the iron into the side of the beast and that will bring him closer to finding a cure for his own malady. Along the way he meets many interesting characters, including Princess Mononoke and these cute little tree spirits, and he eventually learns that the humans and the Gods (of nature) need to live together in harmony.

This film was beautiful, and as usual, Miyazaki has taken expert care in portraying even the minutest of details. I could probably watch this DVD a hundred times over and still appreciate it just as much as the first. Actually, that's not a fair statement; I might find that I appreciate it more. Either way, I am pleased to have purchased it. Despite this being somewhat graphic (there's some body parts blown off here and there) I would still recommend it for children because the message is powerful and imperative.

I nearly failed to mention an interesting morsel of information. Author Neil Gaiman had a hand in the adaptation of Princess Mononoke. Anyway, I'll be exploring my thoughts on My Neighbor Totoro, yet another Miyazaki film I stumbled across last night while in Best Buy, sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Posted by CrystalShiloh at 11:22 AM