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Reader Reviews: September 11th-16th 2004

By Garth Franklin Thursday September 16th 2004 11:22PM

Be Cool "Be Cool is just terrible. Not once did I laugh at this overwrought, pseudo-slick piece of F. Gary Gray dog crap. The biggest problem is that it has lost its edge. Rather than being a dark comedy, Be Cool is an uneven mixture of borderline slapstick humor and violent shootouts. Everything flowed seamlessly in Get Shorty, whereas this is just awkward..." (full review)

Meet the Fockers "So, if you liked the big jokes in Meet the Parents, you'll most certainly be rewarded here. But I liked the characters. I liked watching DeNiro fucking around with Stiller. I liked the relationships and how the comedy developed out of them. It's easy to replicate comedic moments by taking the same beats and just giving them different context. It's not easy to bring comedy out of characters. That takes a little more skill. At least I gleaned that from the first half of the screenwriting book I read (the only half I read, actually). But that's why I think this movie actually worked..." (full review)

Ray "Ray is, quite simply, one of the most outstanding biographical movies that I have ever seen and, by far, one of the better movies that I have seen this year. I cannot think of enough good things to say about this movie..." (full review)

Beyond the Sea "It seemed to me that this movie was trying to be like Chicago or Moulin Rouge with its song and dance routines, but it just wasn't. Instead, it felt like a musical on drugs. (Come to think of it, it reminded me of another somewhat stinky "musical" of recent years - Down With Love.) Just as I would start to get into the film, the actors would break into some strange song and dance scene. I cannot really explain it other than to say that it felt like a kick in the pants. It just didn't seem to belong..." (full review)

I Heart Huckabees "I'll say this. I Heart Huckabees is a really good movie. I'm just not convinced that it's a great movie. It's probably the best movie I'll see at this year's Toronto Film Festival in terms of my personal tastes. I remember Lost In Translation at last year's fest and being blown away - but I didn't get that feeling here. But, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this is one you'll very likely enjoy - just don't expect to see it on too many best-of lists at the end of the year..." (full review)

Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow "Next time Kerry Conran, the talent behind this picture (he actually does have some talent; there's no denying the lighting in the film is incredible), writes a screenplay, recommend that he do it while not jerking off over his favorite film by George Lucas.  Next time Kerry Conran directs a film, recommend that he do it in the real world, not in front of a blue screen.  Spielberg and Lucas worked on location.  Conran's film just doesn't work.  Hollywood, the geeks are listening, the geeks are watching, and the geeks are about to stand up and demand a refund..." (full review) "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a fun, family friendly action film that a few years from now will fit comfortably into a Sunday afternoon double feature with the likes of Swiss Family Robinson. If you can get past the constant blurring, you'll have a good time watching it, even if the movie loses a lot of the wow factor it could have had were Conran to have found a different way to express his personalized retro-style. If you're a total movie nerd who obsesses over Flash Gordon or the aforementioned Fleischer, well you're going to blindly freak out, love it, and convince yourself Sky Captain is some sort of major achievement. You'll probably even send me email claiming that the glamour shot look is a brilliant innovation. Sky Captain isn't any of those things, but it is a solid and original adventure flick. Even foggy originality is somewhat refreshing..." (full review) "The movie is sharper looking that Michael Myers' knife and the film contains some really cool throw backs to classic genre films like 'King Kong' and 'The Wizard of Oz.' If anything 'Sky Captain' is a cool popcorn film made to be watched in the comfort of your own living room with a loose attention span. You won't miss anything if you walk away for some more Pepsi (forget Coke!) or even stop to make out with your girlfriend for a second. 'Sky Captain' is fun to look at and even pay serious attention to at times, but overall it's a flawed movie that leaves the viewer distant and wondering "what went wrong?"..." (full review)

Mr. 3000 "Who in their right mind would cast Bernie Mac in a perfectly arranged baseball comedy, and then ask him only to be funny every 30 minutes? Director Charles Stone III and The Walt Disney Corporation, that's who. A numbingly labored disaster, "Mr. 3000" barely has a pulse or a good gag and commits a comedy sin: it corrals Bernie Mac..." (full review) "I usually like Bernie Mac nearly anywhere I see him. He's funny, but not in that wacky, goofy, over the top way just about every semi-decent comedian seems to be settling for this millennium. He's funny because he's gruff, rude, whiny, and at the same time weirdly huggable. He's transitioned that into a successful and hilarious television show as well as some great supporting roles in notable films like Bad Santa. In Mr. 3000 that Bernie Mac ego-centric complaint charisma is still going strong, but the movie drags so much in the opening acts that it saps much of the funny right out of his performance..." (full review)

NL's Gold Diggers ""The Nanny's" Renee Taylor stripping down to a corset and rubbing her breasts? Chris Owen given comedic lines? Louise Lasser forced to make out with Owen? Will Friedle given a job? There's a whole bunch of madness on display in "Gold Diggers," the latest example of why National Lampoon should be forced out of business right away..." (full review)

Hotel Rwanda "In the end, I think the movie tried too hard to show too much and as a result, lost some of its focus. It's too bad - because this is a story that deserves to be told. While many people are wondering why the American government is in Iraq for no real reason, it makes you wonder why the Americans and the international community as a whole refused to intervene in Rwanda..." (full review)

Crash "If this movie accomplishes anything, it gives us a great glimpse into the complicated lives of average, everyday people. It doesn't solve our problems, and it doesn't preach to us about the injustices in the world. It just makes us think and gives us something to talk about, and that's enough. Now if somebody would just explain the title..." (full review)

Being Julia " I've said many times that every movie has an audience. And this one is no exception. This one wasn't made for the kids, so it's not like I'm going to say "Rush out and see this movie!". Instead, it's made for an older audience who can appreciate it's wit and subtle nuances. And for that audience, check it out. It's good for a chuckle or two..." (full review)

Head in the Clouds "Head in the Clouds is by no means a bad movie. It's an average film when it could have been a great film. It just needed a little more to push it over the top. It's a good idea for a remake. Somewhere down the line, someone else should take a crack at this story. It would really be something with the flaws corrected..." (full review)

Silver City "'Silver City' tricks us into thinking we are going to have fun and then dives into uncharted waters with a lame detective story, just to prove a stupid point that you can't beat "the man"- ever!..." (full review) "The traditional large-scale Sayles cast is uniformly great (which includes Tim Roth, Thora Birch, Kris Kristofferson, Daryl Hannah, Maria Bello, Billy Zane, Sal Lopez, James Gammon, and Ralph Waite), though his choice for a leading man is a strange one. Danny Houston gets a rare chance to step up to leading man status in "City," and his performance is a bizarre mix of used car salesman and bewildered supporting actor. Flashing a million-watt smile, Houston's O'Brien is a peculiar investigator, preferring charisma and deference to traditional snooping skills. With a cast of famous faces, Houston stands out like sandals with a three-piece suit. I hope that one day Sayles can sit down and explain why this performance is so strange..." (full review) "Silver City is a thinking man's film. It's not escapism in any way. Don't watch Silver City if you want to relax after a hard day. It has an involved storyline that requires attention from the viewer. Watch it for excellent filmmaking and Sayles's political ideology. You may not agree with him, but he deserves respect for making a good movie..." (full review)

Shark Tale by 'Joeri'

It´s risky to rave about a movie you just saw, making all the expectations that other people may have a lot higher. But in the case of Shark Tale I don´t mind. All the journalists who saw the movie with me were very excited about the new computer animated DreamWorks flick. This movie deserves to be a massive hit!

Oscar (Will Smith) is a fast rapping streetwise kid who works in a whale-wash (a car wash where they clean whales) and dreams of one day becoming a somebody. When he takes credit of killing a shark (who actually got hit by an anchor) he becomes the Sharkslayer who has to protect the town. Unfortunately, the shark he claimed to have killed, happened to be the son of mobster Don Lino (Robert DeNiro). Soon Oscar finds every shark coming after him.

Lenny (Jack Black), the other son of Don Lino, ha sother problems. He happens to be a vegetarian who doesn´t approve of the maffia way of life and therefor always disappoints his father. Oscar and Lenny become friends and come up with a plan so Lenny can disappear and that can make Oscar the feared Sharkslayer the city needs. Lucky for them the plan works. But they were not prepared for all the consequences...

Everybody will compare Shark Tale to Finding Nemo and that would be a real pity: they´re entirely different movies. For instance, Finding Nemo took place in the "country" while the scenery of Shark Tale  is a stunning underwater version of New York, complete with a Times Square, yellow cabs and skyscrapers.

Most of the characters in Finding Nemo were sweet and adorable, in Shark Tale they all have a dark side (with the exception of Jack Black and Renee Zellweger - she´s the girl who is truly in love with Oscar). Not that it´s a dark film, but everybody seems to be corrupted in a funny way.

The humour of Shark Tale aims more at adults than in Finding Nemo. Of course a lot of jokes are (mob) movie-based. We see glimpses of Jaws, Goodfellas, Titanic, Scarface, Superman 2 and Analyze This. Usually the jokes work out fine but sometimes they´re very cheap (how many times have we heard the phrase Say hello to my little friends?). But although children will not understand all these cinematic references, the movie wiull certainly appeal to them as well. The story is told so fast that you can´t even afford to blink your eyes!

In Cannes Shark Tale was heavily promoted on the fact that a lot of big Hollywood stars had a speaking part. This time that was really justified. Wil Smith doesn´t only do the voice of Oscar, the character also looks and moves like him! The same goes for Martin Scorcese (as Oscar´s manager), Angelina Jolie (as the femme fatale) and Missy Elliot and Christina Aguilera (who have a small part singing a song).

But in the end Shark Tale is really the big "Will Smith versus Robert DeNiro" show. Smith does what he does best: rapping, cracking jokes, clowning around and be the Fresh Prince. DeNiro gives Don Lino the Italian authority and the humour we saw in Analyze This. I also liked Angelina Jolie. She did a great job as the sexy femme fatale who wants revenge after she got dumped by Will Smith.

A fast and entertaining story, great performances, stunning visual ideas (New York looks great! There are even floating billboards like in Blade Runner) and a fantastic soundtrack with songs from the seventies: Shark Tale is a highly entertaining feature that will appeal to both parents and kids. The only thing that bothered me was the moralising ending (but then you can´t have it all).

My prediction? A 55 million dollar opening in the States and Shark Tale 2 in 2006.

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