- Kramer vs. Kramer: 0
- Office Space: 0
- Love and Death: 0
- Moulin Rouge: 1
- Diva: 2 [re-view]
Kramer vs. KramerDustin Hoffman's wife (Meryl Streep) leaves him, and he struggles to raise his child alone, then through a bitter custody battle. So, I'm not a big fan of movies that focus on kids (or kid-raising), and I didn't realize this was one--I thought from the title there'd be more of Meryl Streep. It's probably not a bad movie, although it's such a cliche now, but I think it probably was in large part a contributor to the cliche. It plays kind of weird because Ms. Streep is set up as the antagonist, but then they back off from that and try to soften it (kind of like White), which somewhat reduces the emotional impact. Rating (-4 to 4): 0 but you might like it more.
Office SpaceCubicle shmuck skips work after hypnotism incident, chats with consultants in charge of layoffs, romances local waitress. Well, it's not Beavis and Butthead. But it's also disorganized, a bit over the top, doesn't know when to layoff a given joke, and the plot just kind of winds around and ends randomly. (I must have missed the part where he said "if I had a million dollars, I'd work construction cleanup".) But some memorable bits; e.g. Lumberg's mannerisms are too over the top for my taste, except that plays out really well when he imagines Lumberg with his girlfriend. Rating (-4 to 4): 0
Love and DeathWoody Allen plays a classic Russian tragic hero. But nebbish. A lot of the jokes didn't really work for me, a lot of dopeyness. Some of the fake philosophical chatter bits were cute, though. But for the most part, it just kind of dragged on without engaging me. Rating (-4 to 4): 0
Moulin RougeIn 1900, Aspiring writer Ewan McGregor meets singer/courtesan Nicole Kidman--and sings a lot. I'm of two minds about this movie. For the most part, I think it's a pretty cool idea executed not all that well, but I guess in the end it's memorable enough that I give it a barely-positive score.
Good: the modern-songs concept; the costume design and other visuals, the CGI pseudo cut-out Paris
Bad: the modern-songs concept, the execution and choice of songs, the editing, the story. Specifically: the filmmakers (as explained in the commentary) try to make the modern songs serve double-duty: Christian's natural poetic ability is indicated via having him 'invent' lyrics from pop music of the 20th century, so that the audience knows 'this is widely accepted as good'; but simultaneously, they use modern music to make it more accessible to the audience, to give them 'the feeling this gives you is like what the music from back then would have given them'. The thing is, the latter would be fine if they had original music, or not-well-known music; but instead, they use the same 20th century pop classics. If Christian is a brilliant writer who can come up with these clever things on the spot, what does that say about Nicole Kidman during their medly duet? What does it say about the Argentinian coming up with the song he does? This was a $50 million dollar movie, maybe they could have spent $1M on some original music instead?
I also don't think the device is all that good anyway. Lyrics are meant to be sung--and they are mostly sung--but lyrics are not necessarily good poetry all by themselves. Since this is mostly intended as symbolizing, rather than being, it's probably not too bad, but it rubs me the wrong way with things like the "it's a little bit funny, this feeling inside" scene, or the line "All you need is love". Some of this is that I just don't think they picked the right music; in the medley, they mention that came about because the characters were arguing, so they needed more freedom to capture that--except, in practice, they mostly have Ewan sing a line from the song and then Nicole respond with their own lyric set to the same song. The one memorable exception was having them trade lines from "Silly Love Songs", which worked well--they just needed to come up with more stuff like that instead of getting so (seemingly) lazy.
Between the excessively fast editing and the incredibly lame storyline/emphasis on visuals, I felt more like I was watching MTV than watching a movie. I mean, I guess a lot of Shakespeare's stuff is kinda lame storyline, and I appreciate it for the dialogue and acting, so why not the same for MR's visuals? And I guess it's because at least Shakespeare's dialogue is in service to the story, whereas MR's visuals seem to be the whole point and often ignore the story. And as to the lameness of the story, well, it may be an intentionally cliche classic tragic-comic love story, but in the end it's another bloody hooker with a heart of gold. Sigh.
Rating (-4 to 4): 1 (or 0 when I'm in a different mood)