Cradle Will Rock; American Pie; Rounders; Dumb and Dumber; Hard Boiled; A Bug's Life
Cradle Will Rock
Weird. I'm not sure what this movie was trying to accomplish. Moments piled high without ever making me really feel anything. The guy who played Orson Welles was so over the top I have to assume the Orson was really supposed to be like that and they were trying to be honest, but either way, it knocked me out of the movie. The two storylines didn't really cohere, and, blah blah blah. I dunno. I guess I was entertained. 2 out of 5 shading higher.
I decided to finally check this movie out after reading one of Salon's female reviewers say positive things about it. And ok, I see where she was coming from, in terms of how the movie makes the female characters sympathetic and lets the guys take the fall. But grf. Predictable most of the way, only unpredictable when it diverged from plausibility. An awful lot of gross-out humor--I felt like I was watching a Farrelly brothers movie. Very little was funny to me. Not that I really expected otherwise. 2 out of 5.
Hmm, from what I know of poker it seemed fairly accurate, although the big losing hand at the beginning was quite improbably and could easily have been set up to be slightly more. But not much to the plot. I think I picked this to see Norton, who was ok, but his role was too one note to be that interesting. At least the ending stopped in the right place. 3 out of 5 shading lower.
Dumb and Dumber
In fact, this Farrelly brothers movie seems to have been the one I was watching when I thought I was watching American Pie--featuring both someone giving his enemy a super-laxative, and someone drinking what they think is beer but actually contains other bodily fluids. At least this one I laughed occasionally. 3 out of 5.
Hrm. The plot just never quite coheres. From "Do you think we could ever be friends" out of nowhere, to the veritable army with awesome weapons in the hospital which seems to have come out of nowhere (there's a whole armory in the basement, but they didn't get their equipment from there), to the fact that they started evacuating the hospital without any real good reason, to the lack of reason for blowing up the hospital, to the save-the-babies plotline. Sigh. The three-minute continuous shot scene was pretty neat, and not just 'ooh neat, the director did a 3-minute action sequence in one shot', but actually because it changed the nature of the action--since they couldn't stick in any stuntmen in for two leads, they just went around shooting the hell out of everyone else, with none of the diving-and-not-getting-shot nonsense that fills out the rest of the movie and makes it hard to decide whether it's supposed to be realistic or not. 3 out of 5.
A Bug's Life
Hrmm. The grasshoppers looked nice, but the ants all looked like plastic. Also, the fact that Pixar doesn't do radiosity--no simulation of indirect lighting, instead they just use movie-style lighting--was pretty telling; lots of stuff under shade never really looked outdoorsy. Oh yeah, the story. Eh. Cheesy cliche, most of the reversals are of the form 'audience sees bad thing coming, only question is when the shoe will drop'. 3 out of 5 shading lower.