Thursday, April 17, 2003

Reviews: Four Movies Reviewed

The Dish (35) - This was fun. A small-town story set against the backdrop of the U.S. moon landing in 1969, this quaint tale paints a rosy picture of a time when the U.S. space program was actually doing something that inspired people all over the world. You will understand true 'daring' as the astronauts attempt the impossible-landing on the moon and returning safely to the earth. But this movie is about more than the landing - the citizens of this small Australian town rally around the employees of The Dish, a massive radio telescope in a sheep paddock on the outskirts of town that will be instrumental in receiving the downlinked video feed of the moon landing and that famous 'one small step.' Wholesome and lively, the town and the Dish employees, led by a stalwart Sam Neill, manage to keep the Dish online after a power outage, a visit from the US Ambassador and the Australian Prime Minister, and winds twice what the Dish was designed to withstand. Overall, a good film, small in scope and great in appeal. 7 out of 10.

Pollack (34) - Good film, though a little sad. I know I'll be in the minority here, but I actually liked his earlier works better (the ones that everyone told him were 'lacking in originality') than the 'drop and splash' that later made him famous. The film does a great job of showing Pollack as a sad and unpleasant drunk, who only seems to be able to create his greatest works in between bouts of alcoholism and violence. I started wondering how long his long-suffering girlfriend and wife would be able to put up with the thankless and pitiful endevour. Will make you want to clean out that guest room and make a splash with canvases laid out on the floor. 6 out of 10.

Thirteen Ghosts (33) - Do not waste your time with this one, which could be ranked in my bottom 10 movies of all time. Some interesting plot elements and Shannon Elizabeth cannot raise this gory snoozefest of bad writing. The 13 ghosts of the title are being used by a mad scientist to power some type of trans-reality gateway into hell - that was as much of the plot as we are ever offered. I wanted to know more about the ghosts, their origins, how they met their gruesome fates, and how they were trapped. Alas, no Ghostbusters car and no explanations for anything. We are led to believe that the mad scientist will use the trans-hell gateway to receive 'ultimate power and knowledge' or something like that--ultimately, you will be left with less knowledge than when you began watching. Good sets, no acting, an extraneous, racist and pointless black character added in by some studio suit. Unwatchable. 1 out of 10.

Gangs of New York (32) - this should've been subtitled "The Good Old Days -- Sucked." If you've ever seen a western or a movie set in 'olden tymes' and you wished you could live 'back then,' this movie will cure you of this hopeful fantasy. Everything about this movie - the people, the streets, the buildings, even the sky - needed one of those high-powered firetruck hoses turned on it; everything is so dirty, there's dirt on top of the dirt! As for the movie itself, I found the plot very straightforward and predictable to the point of my wishing about 2 hours into it that the Leonardo DiCaprio character would 'bust free' of his destiny and not take the course already fated for him. Alas, that was not to be and the film wrapped up exactly as I predicted. The only reason this was nominated for Best Picture was Martin Scorcese's artful and not-so-sutble direction. If you like to see people fighting in mud with pointy sticks, this film is for you. Good sets, good costumes, lame story, made me happy to live in today's world. 4 out of 10.

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