ChinatownWoo. Fun script with more than one twist, some good little bits here and there, nice performances. 4.5 out of 5.
Groundhog DayCool premise, very nice execution--the time jumps forward at differing rates depending on what he's doing. The second snowball-fight stands out as a good example of the sort of fun, wacky exploration they did. There was a little bit of deceptiveness--the final day we were shown, he must have lived *almost* the same day the previous day, but we were seeing it all for the first time. Also, the whole thing didn't make any particular sense--why break out of the loop due to that particular action? Sadly, I'm not sure they would have improved it at all by trying to explain this--having a guardian angel or some other supernatural creature capable of doing this to him would have been fairly silly. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Grosse Point BlankI'm a sucker for John Cusack. An interesting script idea for the romantic subplot, having it sort of just pick up from where it left off so they didn't really have to spend much screen time on the traditional romantic montagey sorts of activities normally required. Points off for the orgy of violence at the end, although maybe there really isn't any better way to end the story given the setup. 4 stars.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits WithinWhy do I get the feeling that this is Attack of the Clones without the brand it needed to sell? The "special effects" sure are good, the high-level premise (invisible monsters) is cool, but the goofy mysticism-meets-science approach to it is dumb (theorizing about souls is just cheesy; if you think maybe deep under the earth there's a pool of powerful blue energy, don't wrap that in mumbo-jumbo that politicians and generals are going to mock). What the hell were the eight spirits? Is everyone on earth one of the eight spirits? Presumably not or then they wouldn't need to search. So the eight spirits are... special spirits? Who knows? That whole mystical sequence oh and look the first and last are special reminded me awfully of the Angels in Neon Genesis: Evangelion. Oh yes, and saving the best for the last: the writing was just awful. Not just the cheesy dialogue, but the moment to moment plot bits--cliche after cliche. Aliens ripoffs, the problems they encounter are almost always the most obvious possible problem, and they almost always pick the most obvious solution. Sigh. This movie gets the lowest possible rating my scoring system allows, 1 out of 5.
DogmaWell, I guess it's fairly obvious now that I'm a Kevin Smith fan. This was pretty fun and over the top in so many ways, how could I not like it? Buddy Christ, "you didn't say 'God Bless You'", the opening scene with the hockey players, Jason Mewes' dialogue, "no ticket"... plus he works in some brief little moderately serious monologues about belief/faith/etc. Rock on. 4.5 out of 5.
The MatchmakerI have a thing for Janeane Garofalo, but as much as I enjoyed her, the movie didn't really go anywhere or do much. I think it wanted to be Local Hero (one of my favorites, perhaps my favorite), but it really wasn't up to it. LH really sort of enchanted me by revealing about the people's lives and lifestyles; MM felt more like a Hollywood movie filmed in Ireland. 3 out of 5.
So ends my first month of rentals from netflix; I managed to watch 25 movies in 31 days, at $20/month, first month free.