It's been raining so much in the San Francisco Bay Area lately that I've been having flashbacks of the 8 years I lived in Seattle. The rain has chased me into the local movie theaters more frequently than usual. I've now seen most of the big ones that will be talked about at Oscar time. Here's my quick rundown:
Go see "The Squid and the Whale" because Jeff Daniels gives an amazing performance and so do both boys who play his sons. Skip "King Kong" if you don't mind never seeing it on the big screen, although Jack Black is fun to watch and the ape is pretty well-done. I enjoyed it in the way I enjoy an occasional roller coaster ride in Orlando, but it is not the best way I can think of to spend three hours of your life (although I would kill to spend three hours of my life with the real Naomi Watts, don't get me wrong). Peter Jackson's ego got the best of him when it came to editing time, too. Some of the lines and scenes he left in the movie are laughable. I enjoyed "Syriana" although I couldn't tell you what the hell happened in it. Matt Damon's character is really mind-boggling. George Clooney isn't bad in it though.
"Brokeback Mountain" made my eyes leak. In fact, it was very, very good, although the opening scene felt too stiff and unlikely to me (where neither of our two main characters talks to each other in the parking lot even though nobody else is around). I loved "Capote" although it also kind of gives you the creeps if you really think about what's going on. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is officially my favorite actor, I'd say. Catherine Keener does a nice job, too. I even saw "Chronicles of Narnia" although it didn't do that much for me. Skip it unless you are 12 years old. It starts off with a lot of promise but gets worse and worse as it goes along. I enjoyed "Walk the Line" about Johnny Cash. Reese Witherspoon will no doubt be nominated for an Oscar. It is a classic Hollywood biopic--almost too reminiscent of "Ray" about Ray Charles from last year. Maybe it's about fame more than anything else, or fame and addiction.
And here's my big revelation of the moment--"Memoirs of a Geisha" is better than the critics would lead you to believe. I hated to go to the bathroom during it because I didn't want to miss a single frame. Having said that, the last 15 minutes were a sudden slide downhill. I loved Kôji Yakusho (from the original "Shall We Dance?") as the warp-faced character Nobu in the film. He is a truly great actor. I love Gong Li, too, but she overdoes it a bit in this role as a Joan Crawford type in a kimono. It isn't a perfect film, but it is engrossing and worth seeing.
That's it for now. Happy NEw Year! Link