Thursday, December 23, 2004

Movies opening this week

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, dir. Wes Anderson)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I've been going against the hipster/movie critic grain for years with my extreme dislike of Wes Anderson movies, and this one is no exception. I feel somewhat vindicated that he's finally starting to get bad reviews, with many of the same criticisms I've had since Bottle Rocket, like the smugness, the empty quirkiness and the lack of substance. But many critics are treating this like it's a new thing, and Anderson's suddenly gone downhill, when really he's always been a flashy cheat who fooled too many people for too long. Opened limited Dec. 10; wide release this week

Meet the Fockers (Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, dir. Jay Roach)
Some critic likened this movie to Roach's Austin Powers sequels, which are just the same jokes repeated more loudly to bludgeon you into submission. I agree; this movie spends most of its time screaming, "This is funny! Why aren't you laughing?!" I thought Meet the Parents was overrated, funny in parts but too reliant on the same old awkward Stiller shtick that's gotten really old now that he's overexposed it in what seems like half of the comedies released in 2004. This one is too long, has too many characters and tries way too hard. If the mere mention of the word "Focker" gets you laughing, that's about the only reason to see this movie. Wide release

A Very Long Engagement (Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Dominique Bettenfeld, dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I liked Jeunet's Amelie, and I liked this too, although both feel a little too precious and at times sickly sweet. I kind of wish he'd go back to the weird darkness of his early films with Marc Caro (Delicatessen, City of Lost Children), or even the sci-fi of Alien: Resurrection (I was one of the few people who liked that one), since his visual style and love for the bizarre seems more suited to tales of the unreal. Opened limited Nov. 26; in Las Vegas this week

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