Friday, November 18, 2005

Movies opening this week

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, dir. Mike Newell)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Although I preferred the last movie to this one, the Potter franchise remains both durable and entertaining, and it looks like it might be able to remain so through the end of the series. It worries me a little that after the daring and original Alfonso Cuaron, they handed things over to Newell, who's sort of a generic journeyman (although he does a fine job), and the next movie is being directed by David Yates, who's only got British TV experience. It seems like the best way to ensure quality is to continue employing directors with vision and style who can still maintain the tone of the franchise. I guess I'll have to wait before passing judgment. (Also, is it just me or is the scene between Harry and Moaning Myrtle in the bathtub disturbingly and sort of perversely sexual?) Wide release

Walk the Line (Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, dir. James Mangold)
This is definitely this year's version of Ray - a competent and unadventurous biopic elevated by a great performance (or, in the case of this movie, two). Phoenix is very good as Johnny Cash, although Witherspoon is even better as June Carter, and it wouldn't surprise me if she got the predicted Oscar for this role. The movie, however, is paint-by-numbers stuff, connecting the dots from major event to major event, never showing the characters taking a breather and just acting like normal people. It also makes Cash look like sort of a dick, treating his first wife with dismissive contempt mostly because she doesn't fawn over his musical career, even though she's just trying to be a good mother. Although the movie is framed as a love story between Johnny and June, I wasn't honestly that keen on seeing them together, since it just made me feel bad for Johnny's first wife. Apparently one of Cash's daughters was upset because she thought the movie made her mother look bad, but to me it made the mother look like a sensible person and Cash look like an unhinged drug addict. Which, you know, he pretty much was. Wide release

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