Ben's Movie Reviews

March 01, 2004

Today, I wipe the sweat off my brow, having avoided the Oscar season's obligatory geezer movie. We generally spend January in a frenzy of movie-going. The weather is crappy anyway, so we try to catch as many of the Oscar contenders as possible.

In past two years, there has always been a geezer movie -- those movies that feature older characters, and whose audience has move elderly people than normal. You would think that the geezers would have better movie manners than most crowds, but just the opposite is true. (It's bad enough that these tend to be on the boring side of the movie excitement scale.)

The old folks are masters of the really loud whisper. They repeat lines that they find clever -- which are almost every line. They predict what is about to happen -- especially if it is already obvious. And they absolutely can not resist the temptation to explain every joke to their companions. Sometimes they compete to see who can be the first to explain the joke.

This year's awards were dominated by the last of the Lord of the Rings movies, which I haven't seen yet. I saw the first one, and maybe I'm missing something, but despite all the graphical effects, it was a little boring. Maybe I should see it again, since everyone else seems to have loved it. I just don't know.

There seemed to be a theme running through a lot of the movies that I have seen lately. See if you can pick it up from these synopses:

  • Monster: messed up kid gets involved with a serial-killing hooker.
  • Mystic River: messed up kid grows up and may or may not have murdered his friend's daughter.
  • Pieces of April: formerly messed up kid tries to cook dinner for her family.
  • Thirteen: kid goes from normal to really, really messed up.
  • City of Gods: messed up kids participate in gang war.
  • Finding Nemo: rebellious kid fish disobeys parent and gets put in a tank.
  • Finding the Friedmans: whacked data and son may or may not have abused other children.

The four movies that I recommend are:

  • Lost in translation. The best scenes really are the ones where the Japanese people are rattling off minutes of instructions to Bill Murray, and his translator gives him a one-sentence, vague instruction in English. I hope the DVD will give you a feature where you can really find out what the Japanese guys are saying.
  • Master and Commander. Most sailors like these books, but I find them a bit boring. Not the movie, though. It was thoroughly enjoyable.
  • Pieces of April. The ending made me happy. Sometimes, that's all it takes.
  • City of God. My favorite one of the year. It was exciting, horrifying, and entertaining all at once. The violence and depravity seemed very realistic.

Of course, with my middle-American, suburban upbringing, how the hell would I know if Brazilian gang war is portrayed realistically or not?