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FEATURE COLUMN

Movie Talk with Greg Malmborg

An Entertainment Column

 


Welcome to Movie Talk, my new bi-weekly column. I want to thank all of you again who took the time to e-mail me your thoughts, comments, and ideas. It was very insightful. I also want to encourage more of you to e-mail me any comments on the topics I discuss or any ideas for the column. And as I said before, I will post some reader comments when I feel it is appropriate and I will run contests from time to time (no prizes, just recognition).

 

Feedback, Questions and Nonsense

 

I received a lot of feedback and questions in the past few weeks, so I figured I’d answer a few and post some feedback.

 

“Good column, I’ve been reading it for a while.  I wanted to know what movies or actors/actresses you think will be nominated from the movies that have come out so far this year (2003)” –Kim

 

Well, to be honest, hardly any.  With the big exception being Seabiscuit, which I think has a chance at a Best Picture nod, a Best Actor nod for Tobey Maguire, and possibly a supporting nod for William H. Macy.  The other exception will be Finding Nemo, which will probably win the Best Animated Film Oscar.  I think the Matrix Reloaded, Hulk, and T3 will all be up for special effects Oscars.  It has been a pretty weak year so far for Oscar possibilities, but I do think Seabiscuit has a chance.

 

“Dude, come on.  You rate some of this awful studio garbage too high.  I mean, Bruce Almighty sucked, The Italian Job was dull, and you actually liked Brotherhood of the Wolf!  Keep it real, man” – Joe K.

 

To each his own, Joe.  Bruce Almighty made me laugh along with everyone else in the theater and it’s made over $200K at the box office, so I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this was one of the best comedies of the year so far.  And you must not pay attention because even though I found The Italian Job to be entertaining I didn’t give it a great rating.  Pay attention, dude.  But Ok, I’ll give it to you that Brotherhood of the Wolf is an acquired taste.  But I’m pretty sure most film fans will agree that it is an entertaining, original thrill ride.

 

“Love the article.  Keep up the good reviews, I always seem to agree with you about most movies.” – Frank in Virginia Beach

 

“Finally, I wanted to give you my top ten on contemporary cinema. Not the best movies ever, but my favorites of the last few years and some classics that I just love. (Making a top10 is really hard! I left a lot of good movies out).

 

 1. Jonathan Demme's "The Silence of the Lambs"

 2. Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown" 

 3.  Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan"

 4. Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner"

 5. Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange"

 6. Luc Besson's "The Big Blue"

 7. David Lynch's "Blue Velvet"

 8. The Coen Brother's "O Brother Where Art Thou"

 9. Andrew Niccol's "Gattaca"

10 .Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic"

 

- David from Bogotá, Colombia

 

Great list David, especially the O Brother Where Art Thou and A Clockwork Orange choices.  Those are two of my all time favorites.  The only two I disagree with you on are The Big Blue and Gattacca.  Both are very well made films and have interesting storylines and good performances, but I don’t think they are two of the great ones.

 

“Alright, best comedies ever…go” – Jill in New Orleans

 

All right, here they are:

 

1)  Caddyshack – if you love golf, I don’t even have to explain

2)  Meet the Parents – I laughed from the beginning to end, & still do

3)  Dumb and Dumber – not stupid comedy, actually very smart

4)  The Cable Guy – most underrated comedy ever made

5)  Old School – for whatever reason, I laugh my butt off every time

 

“Do you work for a newspaper or anything, doing reviews?” – J.C.

 

No, I’m actually working in a totally different arena than movies.  Movies are just my passion, I love seeing movies, discussing them, and writing about them.  It’s as simple as that.

 

“I want to know what you think are the best horror films ever made, I’m a huge horror fan.” – Ian in Boston

 

For whatever reason, I received a lot of requests for my top genre picks.  Which is great, because I love doing top 5 lists.  Best horror films ever made:

 

1)  Rosemary’s Baby – the pinnacle of restrained horror

2)  The Shining – the one & only movie that creeps me out to this day

3)  Sleepy Hollow – not very scary, but just incredibly well done

4)  Halloween – the sequels were a joke, but the original was perfect

5)  A Nightmare on Elm Street – this is what 80s horror films are all about

 

“What did you think of Phone Booth?  I thought it was a great film with a terrific performance by Colin Farrell.  Do you think he has a chance at a Best Actor nomination?”

 

I did like Phone Booth; it was a tense, taut little thriller with a very good lead performance by Colin Farrell.  But, the story just seemed a little bit too contrived and the whole thing was just a little bit too over the top.  Colin Farrell’s performance was excellent but I don’t think it was good enough to get an Oscar nomination.

 

 

Summer Movie Season

 

Well, the summer movie season is winding down and it sure has been a very average season.  It seems like every big, summer movie that has come out has been either a disappointment or just a bit above average.  If it weren’t for a horse with a silly name, a neurotic fish that lost his son, a drunken pirate on acid, and a little girl on a mission; this summer would have been extremely dull.  Maybe we’re getting to that point where most of the great storylines and ideas have already been used.  I’m really hoping the Oscar season (September thru December) is a hundred times more interesting than all of this year so far. 

 

I’d rank the movies of 2003 released so far as follows:

 

1)     Seabiscuit – reviewed below

2)     Finding Nemo – everything you could want in a movie

3)     Pirates of the Caribbean – I review this below

4)     Whale Rider – reviewed below

5)     Matrix Reloaded – if you read the column, you know I love this movie

 

If this top 5 truly showed the caliber of summer films, you’d think it was a great year so far.  That’s a very strong top 5, but the rest of the pack is really average.  But, thankfully, we’ve still got 5 months left.

 

Film Quickies at the Movie Theater

 

Pirates of the Caribbean

 

One of the best summer movies I’ve seen in years!  Exciting, adventurous, spirited, action-packed, and hilarious.  This is one blast of a movie.  As exciting as the action is, as interesting as the story is, and as good as the supporting cast is, this movie is such a great time because of one thing: Johnny Depp.  Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the funniest, most inventive, and interesting characters to ever hit the summer movie screen.  This movie just crackles and entertains every time Depp is on the screen, and every time he isn’t you just eagerly anticipate his next appearance.  The rest of the cast is also very solid, especially Geoffrey Rush as the evil pirate captain, who is having a grand ole time.  There are a few plot holes and some pretty silly dialogue in spots, and some of the effects-laden finale is a bit overdone.  But I had an absolute blast with it and left with a huge smile on my face.  What more can you ask from a pirate movie?

 

My rating – 4 stars out of 5

 

 

Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle

 

Like watching a combination of beer, make-up, movie, and Mountain Dew advertisements on acid.  Action scene, action scene, giggling, close up of an ass, stupid dance scene, action scene, laughing, half naked chick, Joey from Friends, action scene, action scene, and Demi Moore.  Just a non-stop barrage of images, action scenes, and inane giggling.  But for some reason, I enjoyed myself and left the theater smiling.  I feel like I’m confessing a sin or something because critically speaking this movie is atrocious.  I just love Demi Moore, and she just looks incredible in this.  And the rest of the Angels are really easy to look at too.  Throw some laughs and some action in between, and you’ve got me smiling.

 

My rating – 2 ½ stars out of 5    

 

 

Legally Blonde 2

 

Silly, vapid sequel to a silly, vapid (but funny) original.  There are a few funny scenes scattered around this mess of a movie that recall the hilarious highs of the original, but they are so few and far between that the movie just sinks to such a foolish level.  Reese Witherspoon is always likeable and has some serious comedic chops but her talents are just wasted here.  It’s definitely time to bury this character and move on.  She is too talented for cheesy crap like this.  Enough said.

 

My rating – 1 ½ stars out of 5

 

Terminator 3

 

Great sequel to an exciting, original franchise.  T3 is non-stop excitement, action, humor, and fun.  The story is worthy of the first two films and the acting is top notch.  Claire Danes and the new Jonathan Conner were perfect additions.  The female terminatrix is nothing outstanding, but she holds her own in the action sequences to the biggest action star to ever hit the movies.  Arnold is in top form again here.  I just thought it would look ridiculous to see Arnold up there again as the Terminator, but I was wrong.  He is just great in T3, and it looks like T4 will be coming to theaters soon enough.

 

My rating – 3 ½ stars out of 5

 

 

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas

 

Well-made animated adventure that just doesn’t quite reach the heights of many similar animated tales.  In the same vein as Treasure Planet, but with less excitement, less humor, and poorer animation.  The actors who provide the voices do an average job, except for Michelle Pfeiffer who is just tremendously wicked in a perfect villain role.  This will make a good rental for kids, and adults won’t be thrilled, but also won’t be constantly checking their watches.

 

My rating – 2 stars out of 5

 

 

Whale Rider

 

Deeply felt, extremely well acted drama on finding your place in the world even when you’re not wanted. I couldn’t recommend this film enough. Even though it is a bit too slow in some spots, the weight of the story and the amazing lead performance by one gifted young actress pulls the film above the crowd. You can’t help but be moved by this story. Seek this film out.

 

My rating – 4 stars out of 5

 

American Wedding

 

The horny teenagers are back, but this time their older, but not much wiser (and no less hornier).  This is very simple; if you loved the first two films you will love this one because it follows the same formula as the first two.  If you didn’t care for the first two, do not waste your time because this one takes the raunchiness and the gross out gags to whole new levels.  And Stifler is now just a walking penis who spouts off one swear after the other.  I was a big fan of the first two, so I enjoyed myself in this one.  There were many laugh out loud moments: the truffle scene and the gay dance off scene are classic.  But, again, I must reiterate, only bother with it if you loved the first two.  Trust me.

 

My rating – 2 ½ stars out of 5

 

Seabiscuit

 

This should be one of the Best Picture nominees come year-end, and a possible winner (we’ll have to see how the rest of the year shakes out). This has an old-time feel to it, and I mean that in the absolute best way. This film is what the movies are all about; it will move you regardless of your attitude. You will actually feel like getting up and cheering. The performances are all amazing and award worthy. Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, and William H. Macy could all be up for Oscars, they are all that good. This will go down as a classic.

 

My rating – 4 ½ stars out of 5

 

 

Film Quickies at the Video Store

 

Tully – A heartwarming and touching tale about the damage that can be done by keeping too many skeletons in your closet while trying to keep your family together.  This is top-notch independent filmmaking with some stand out performances and a wonderful script.  It is a slow burner of a film, unfolding the details in the life of these two Nebraskan brothers and their father working on the family farm.  It may be a bit too slow for some viewers, but if you favor characterization and story, check it out.

 

My rating – 3 ½ stars out of 5

 

 

The Real Cancun – Possibly alone in the category of worst film ever imagined, created, and distributed.  Thank God, it completely bombed at the box office.  The general public does have some taste after all.  I don’t even want to waste any of column space on how atrocious this is, just do not rent it.  I repeat, DO NOT RENT IT.

 

My rating – 0 stars out of 5

 

Intacto – Very strange, but interesting Spanish thriller about luck being a power not a random act.  It is a very stylish and atmospheric thriller, with some very original ideas and scenes.  But it eventually loses the sense of adventure it starts to build up, because it gets a bit too ridiculous.  There is a scene where the “contestants” must run through a heavily wooded forest blindfolded at full speed and the winner is the last one standing.  That’ll get anyone’s pulse racing.  The concept is very interesting but the story veers off and never comes back.

 

My rating – 2 stars out of 5

 

 

The Life of David Gale – This film did not deserve the beating it took from the critics when it was released.  Yes, it is preachy and over-the-top, but it is a very well made mystery and it has some very good performances.  It managed to keep my attention and keep me interested in what was to come.  Isn’t that the point of a good mystery? 

 

My rating – 2 ½ stars out of 5

 

 

Local Boys – Surprisingly well-made, surf film about a family coming to grips with the death of the father and using surfing as an avenue of mourning.  If you have any interest in surfing, you should enjoy this.  The surfing footage is very exciting and the locations are great.  The story is surprisingly well done and believable, but the performances are a bit weak (except for Mark Harmon who turns in a solid performance as the aging surfer legend). 

 

My rating – 2 ½ stars out of 5

 

 

Spider – This is only recommended if you like very slow, character driven dramas that focus on strange, introverted characters, because Spider stretches that concept out as far as you can imagine.  It is a very interesting and well-made film, but it can’t escape it’s own boredom and silence.  The main character is too introverted to be interesting enough and the long, drawn out stares become extremely tedious.  Ralph Fiennes is incredibly good as the title character and Miranda Richardson turns in a strong supporting performance, but even those great performances cannot mask the fact that this film is just, plain boring.

 

My rating – 2 stars out of 5

 

 

Till Human Voices Wake Us – Released in the same week as Spider and just as boring.  Watch these two films back to back and try to stay awake, make it a game.  I really want to know if anybody can make it through.  This film also has two very good performances in it, but the story is very pedestrian and it moves at a snail’s pace. 

 

My rating – 2 stars out of 5

 

I’ll leave off every column with a movie recommendation (either currently in theaters or on the video shelf).

 

My recommendation for today: 

 

Silver Bullet – This is one of the best horror films ever made.  The story is a classic, and the film plays beautifully.  Whenever I catch it on TV, I can’t seem to turn it off even though I’ve seen it a hundred times.  This is the only other time (Lost Boys too) that Corey Haim was ever good in a movie.  And Gary Busey, who is now crazy as a loon, is just perfect as the boozing uncle.  The direction, the score, the narration, and the story itself are what made this one of the all time classic horror films of my generation.  If you’ve never seen it, do me a favor and go rent it.

 

Talk to you again soon,

 

Greg Malmborg

gregm99@hotmail.com

 


 

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MovieTalk

Edition #7

 

Article Posted: Sept 12, 2003

 

Past Editions:

July 10, 2003

May 17, 2003

Apr 23, 2003

Mar 21, 2003

Mar 11, 2003

Feb 25, 2003

 

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