Archive for December, 2003

“”Big Fish”” hooks Sean

December 31, 2003

Most families have collections of stories that they tell (and re-tell) whenever they reunite and reminisce. They

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Mona Lisa Smile

December 31, 2003

I took my mom to see this and the only men in the theatre were two who looked they would have rather died then be there. The movie was descent, but if you have a drop of feminism in you, you are going to want to kill the Dunst, Stilles, and the rest of the female students. It would be a good movie to take your mother, aunt, grandma, ect… to see…

Grade: B-

TV On DVD – The Top 5

December 30, 2003

From various “”Star Trek”” franchises, to “”Xena: Warrior Princess””, 2003 saw a ton of TV programming released on DVD. These are the top five packages released over the last year.

1.Firefly – The Complete Series – What a difference chronological order makes! Suddenly “”Firefly”” goes from being an intriguing failure, to the beginning of what might have become Joss Whedon’s finest work. The package includes commentaries for half of the series [six regular eps and the double-length pilot, “”Serenity””], three eps that never aired in the U.S., and several other rewarding features: “”Here’s How It Was: The Making of Firefly””; “”Serenity – The Tenth Character””; Joss Tours The Set””; “”Joss Whedon Sings The Theme From Firefly”” [not as hideous as he makes it sound in interviews]; “”Alan Tudyk’s Audition””; “”Deleted Scenes”” and a very funny [but way too short] Gag Reel. Each disc has its own sleek plastic sleeve. Final Grade: The Series: A+ Bonus Material: A+ 2. The Dead Zone – The Complete First Season – An unexpectedly formula-free television adaptation of characters and situations contained in Stephen King’s novel and the fine David Cronenberg film, “”The Dead Zone”” featured solid writing, appropriate effects and terrific direction. The first season DVD release features commentary tracks for every, single episode! Plus, for those who acted immediately upon purchasing the set, a DVD of the series’ original pilot was made available for the cost of postage – and featured selective scene commentaries that illustrated the differences between the two pilots, and the reasons for those differences. Other features include: the series’ creators discussing the genesis of the show; interviews with cast, crew and creators; a featurette that takes you inside writings’ meetings; a tour of the show’s visual effects; a featurette on the series’ music, composed by former Culture Club keyboardist, Roy Hay; and interviews with many of the show’s guest stars.Final grade: The Series: A Bonus Material: A+3. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer – Season Five – Generally considered to be the last great season of the series, “”Buffy”” Season Five, is notable for a number of reasons: Dracula as Rock Star; Glorificus, The Hell God; the realization that Dawn was literally of Buffy’s blood; “”The Gift””; and “”The Body”” among them. Few series ever reach the pinnacle of quality that “”Buffy”” did every week, and even fewer have as many episodes that quality as classic. Season five had two classic eps: “”The Body””, in which Buffy, Dawn and the Scoobies have to deal with the death of Joyce Summers, and “”The Gift””, in which Buffy discovers why her “”gift is death””. There are the usual four commentary tracks – the one for “”The Body”” is particularly interesting. Oddly enough, there is no commentary for “”The Gift””, which was the series’ 100th episode, and would have been the series finale if UPN hadn’t picked up the show – an oversight that, in combination with the unwieldy foldout packaging, costs the set a half-grade. The other bonus material includes: featurettes like “”Buffy Abroad””, “”Casting Buffy””, “”The Story of Season 5″”, and

Michelle’s TOP TEN FILMS OF 2003!!!

December 29, 2003

It’s that time of the year again. You know the one, the time when Hollywood stops screening movies for a few weeks and we all have to come up with something interesting to talk about to justify our existence and reason for being. Enter the year end Top 10 list, as many people who visit this site regularly know, I’m not a fan of the “”Top 10″” list and always resisted doing one, until I did my first one ever last year. I must admit, it is an interesting exercise to see how good my memory is, and to see if I can even come up with a list.

Creating this list has been a daunting task, not because there were so many great films that I simply couldn’t narrow the list down, or even that there were so many god awful films that it was hard to select 10 gems, no 2003 was truly a mediocre year for the film industry. There wasn’t much that I truly loved, or hated, everything was basically right in the middle for me. Honestly, most of this year has been a blur to me, with no real standouts. This year, I would say that I haven’t been doing my full duty and only attended about 150 screenings this year, but I have seen most of the things that “”matter”” with the exception of “”Big Fish,”” “”Cold Mountain”” (I have absolutely no interest in seeing CM), and “”Finding Nemo.”” I’ve been really lax in my Documentary film going and haven’t caught “”Fog of War,”” “”Biggie and Tupac,”” “”Tupac Ressurection,”” and a couple of other notable Docs. And I avoided stuff that I knew that I would absolutely loathe like “”Cat In The Hat,”” “”Gigli,”” “”Master of Disguise,”” and a few others.With all that said, and all the disclaimers aside, here are my top ten films of 2003. Drum roll please……..1) X2: X-Men UnitedI’ve made no secret of my love of this movie, so this choice should come as no surprise to anyone. From the moment I saw that incredible teaser trailer to the finish product “”X2″” delivered on all fronts (except for the crappy graphic novel.) Like the first film, the second one relies more on character development than large scale action sequences. You would think that with so many primary characters in this ensemble that folks would get lost in the shuffle, but the writers Zak Penn, David Hayter and Bryan Singer deserve kudos for delivering a tightly focused script, with crisp dialogue and fully developed characters. There doesn’t seem to be a wasted scene or moment in this film and every character seems to evolve and grow by the end. The only exceptions to this are Deathstrike and Cyclops (James Marsden). Everything about X2 is just bigger, better, cleaner, and more clearly defined than the original. There are so many subtexts in this film that you will discover something new every time you watch it. This is truly a crossover film that everyone will enjoy – even non-comic book fans. It’s a flawless adaptation.2) THE COREYeah, I know most folks absolutely loathe this movie. When I walked into this film, I was ready to jump on the hate bandwagon, but you know what, this film was a surprising gem. Everyone made a big deal about whether or not the film’s science was accurate or not, but honestly I don’t look to Hollywood for a science lesson or any kind of lesson. The science in “”The Core”” worked within the context of the film. The film’s story moves along at a brisk pace with fine performances by the stellar cast of some of my favorite actors including Hilary Swank, Del Roy Lindo, and the always fun Stanley Tucci. This movie is like Armageddon only with better acting and cheesy effects, but it still worked for me. I’m not ashamed (ok, I am) to say I actually teared up a little during this film. And unlike other Hollywood blockbusters (who will remain nameless), PEOPLE ACTUALLY DIE in this film, so you really feel the tension, and believe in the plight of these characters.3) SHATTERED GLASS“”Are you mad at me?”” Who knew Hayden Christensen could act? Well he proves his chops in this bio picture about the disgraced “”New Republic”” writer Steven Glass. The film quietly shows us how this “”kid”” managed to pull the wool over the eyes of distinguished news editors. Whenever he would get into trouble he would disarm the situation by asking “”Are you mad at me?”” You can see how this simple response would throw people off. My only problem with the film would be the fact that the sets looked fairly cheap, and that it obviously wasn’t filmed in Washington, DC. Other than that, anyone interested in the field of Journalism needs to see this film it really gives an insider’s look at the inner workings of a major political magazine. Seriously, “”Are you mad at me?””4) THE BARBARIAN INVASIONSThis small French Canadian film about an old man with cancer dying with dignity and his estranged son doing everything in his power to make this happen is truly a portrait of the power of love, friendship and family. St

“”Dreamkeeper”” – A Small Treasure

December 29, 2003

Buried in the programming burn-offs of the post-Christmas, Pre-New Year’s television wasteland is ABC’s “”Dreamkeeper”” – a mini-series that captures the joy of storytelling and the wonder of life.

Old Pete Chasing Horse [August Schellenberg] is somewhere between eighty-seven and a hundred years old and feels the end approaching. He wants to make it to one last powwow to share the stories he learned from his grandfather, so that they might not pass with him. Shane Crossing Horse [Eddie Spears] is a troubled young man who is so blinded by love that he loses track of everything

peter pan

December 27, 2003

good adaptation of j.m barrie’s book of the same name

excellent case with jason isaacs a standout as captain james hook

lots of fun and highly recommended

Burton’s Big Fish- An Exciting Fantasy for the Entire Family

December 24, 2003

Gloriously adapted from Daniel Wallace

“Chasing Liberty”

December 24, 2003

“Chasing Liberty” is a romantic comedy aimed for teenagers. Story concerns the daughter (Mandy Moore; codename = Liberty) of the US President who is visitng Europe in a semi-official capacity with her parents and falls for a dashing foreigner. She eludes her assigned Secret Service guards and travels throughout Europe. Mostly predictable but still enjoyable. Sort of a travelogue with an eclectic selection of music.

GRADE = “B”

“Cooking with Elvis” PLAY

December 24, 2003

“Cooking with Elvis” is a sex farce from the author of “Billy Elliot” (but is far different). Plot covers what happens to a family of three (and a turtle) when a young man comes into their lives and gets sexually involved with all (except the turtle). The father, now a brain-damaged quadraplegic, was an Elvis impersonator; the mother is a sex-starved teacher; the 14 year-old daughter is overweight and obsessed with cooking. If you are definitely not an Elvis fan, skip this because the father leaps up periodically from the wheelchair to do Elvis. The set is inventive, the actors do good work, there are some funny moments, but it’s the play that’s NOT the thing. For mature audiences because of simulated sex acts, male nudity, language, gore.

GRADE = “C+”

“The York Realist” PLAY

December 24, 2003

“The York Realist” is a British play by Peter Gill being presented at the Studio Theater (DC). Set in rural England in the 1960’s, the entire two-act performance takes place in a farm living room. The central character is a gay man who runs a farm and takes care of his ailing mother. Into his life comes someone from London and complicates things. There are seven characters, all ably presented by good actors who do their best with what they are given (which isn’t much, except for moving props around). There is no nudity (for a change) and very little physical contact.

GRADE = “C+”