Saturday, October 23, 2004

Movies opening this week

A day late thanks to spending Friday-Saturday watching TV 24 hours straight for a story.

The Grudge (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Bill Pullman, dir. Takashi Shimizu)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Not much to say that's not in the review, except that there is an interesting undercurrent of cultural commentary that's probably unintentional, thanks to setting the remake in Japan but replacing all the main characters with Americans. It thus turns into a film in which the spirits of a murdered Japanese family haunt and terrorize Americans, who are interlopers both in the house where they were killed, and, in a larger sense, in their country. This is an idea that could have been explored more thoroughly, and might have given the film more to recommend it other than "scary things go bump," but is probably more of a coincidence than a thematic intent. Still, something to keep your mind occupied while you wait for the next jump moment. Wide release

I Heart Huckabees (Jason Schwartzmann, Jude Law, Mark Wahlberg, dir. David O. Russell)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I'm too lazy to figure out how to make the twee little heart symbol that's supposed to go in the title. I had very mixed feelings about this film, wanting very much to like it based on Russell's past efforts, finding much of it funny and admiring Russell's ambition, but at the same time finding it overly pretentious and self-important and wildly overreaching. It seems like a love-it-or-hate-it film for most, but my reaction was neither. At the screening I went to, which was for critics and press only, half the people walked out. Any movie that can polarize people like that is probably worth seeing, and despite my half-hearted approval in the review, I would recommend it. On another note, Russell and I both graduated from Amherst College, and he spoke during the week of my graduation in 2002, when he received an honorary degree. He came off as a total self-important asshole in that talk, and also earlier in the day when he crashed a talk by Antonin Scalia (which he talks about a little in this interview with the Onion AV Club). Siona, who was also around Amherst at the time, has some more interesting insight into Mr. Russell's asshole-itude here. Opened limited Oct. 1; in Las Vegas this week

The Yes Men (documentary, dir. Chris Smith, Sarah Price, Dan Ollman)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Anyone experiencing left-wing documentary fatigue should still check this one out, which is less about Bush-bashing than about following this band of merry pranksters as they punk the WTO. A little too smug, perhaps, but an amusing film that shows not all activists have to take themselves so dreadfully seriously. Opened limited Sept. 24; in Las Vegas this week

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