- The Graduate
- Butterfield 8
- The Color of Money [re-view]
TrafficSeveral parallel stories show the hopelessness of drugs and the war on them. I found myself fast forwarding through several of the scenes of the daughter--the ones with her and her friends getting stoned/drugged-out/whatever, and some of the AA speeches: they were boring. Most of the movie wasn't, so I have no clue why this was the case. Anyway, Benicio Del Toro was great; Michael Douglas just always seems like the same old Michael Douglas guy to me so I couldn't believe in him. The characters all sort of seemed to follow the obvious paths and not do much surprising, except Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose character takes a bit of a turn that is unexpected and not really justified to me in movie. Or rather, I can see the possible reasons, and remember the scenes where they were trying to show her thinking about those reasons, but they underplayed them, and throwing in the scene with her bringing out lemonade played entirely against the turn her character takes, pretty much ruining it for me. Also it seemed implausible how light security in the safe house was.
The directing seemed none too special, what the hell did he win an Oscar for here? Hell, why did this get nominated? I guess that's just the "nominate it for best picture, have to nominate the director too".
Rating (from -4 to 4): 0
The GraduateYoung college graduate sleeps with older neighbor, dates neighbor's daughter. Sigh. Maybe this is just because the film hasn't aged well, but the characters all seemed like cartoons to me. The Hoffman/Katharine Ross date doesn't make any sense--he tries to piss her off, and then apologizes and they immediately start kissing... huh? And that was enough to kill the story for me, I didn't believe in their relationship, and since Mrs. Robinson pretty much drops out of the picture for Act III, it just dragged for me. Decent acting. A few cute cuts and weird bits, but I'm not sure that explains the Best Director here either.
Rating (from -4 to 4): 1
FoxfireNomadic chick Angelina Jolie befriends high school girls and teaches them about freedom.. Well, ok. Angelina Jolie plays basically the same character she played later in Girl, Interrupted. "Legs" is the dumbest (nick)name ever. Dumb third act; I got confused when we saw Goldie running around looking perfectly healthy and thought Legs' demand for $10,000 was a total scam for herself, but apparently that wasn't the movie's intent. The third act just felt like formulaic "look, we need a pumped up third act with guns and excitement" moviemaking. And the relationship between Maddy and her boyfriend is left dangling; she'd been blowing him off and it's unclear whether she cared. Nice effect(?) with her walking on the bridge at the end, though.
Rating (from -4 to 4): -1
Butterfield 8Elizabeth Taylor is a "call girl" in this 1960 movie. Whatever exactly that means, since the movie seems to go to pains to estabslish that she is not, in fact, a prostitute, just a slut. I have no clue how this movie got on my netflix queue; I suspect netflix may have recommened it based on my other ratings, in which case their rating system should be shot.
Elizabeth Taylor won her first Oscar for this; various websites I've seen explain this as (1) her powerful performance having been fueled by the fact she absolutely hated the movie and only made it because the studio forced her; (2) she went into surgery just after the ballots were sent out, so it was a sympathy vote; (3) she was passed over for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof the previous year because she broke up Eddie Fisher's marriage, and this was the Academy making it up to her for passing her over. All said, it's a decent performance from her (and from Eddie Fisher), but pointless, as the movie is soap opera hysteria (with a few good lines here and there) and an idioitic ending.
Rating (from -4 to 4): -3
The Color of MoneyEx-pool hustler Paul Newman teaches hot stuff Tom Cruise how to make money--Top Gun in pool halls? Hmm, Newman won an Oscar for this. I think I must have gone through Oscar-winning movies and added them to my queue, since that's four for five in this set. (I randomly rescramble a few in my queue to avoid patterns like this, but obviously not hard enough.) Newman is great; Cruise's character is supposed to be a wacky flake but I don't think Cruise really pulls it off--he's intense in the wrong way. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is ok. The storyline kind of wobbles when Newman runs off on his own and we watch him developing; and I'm not sure what the point was supposed to be, what with Newman getting mad at Cruise for doing things exactly how he taught him. (Also, at the very end, there's this bit where Cruise accuses Newman of having used him, and Newman admits it's true, and I have no effing clue what they were referring to--the course of the whole movie? Some bit near the end that I can't identify? Grr.)
A few of the dramatic pool shots rely on THE CHEAP POOL TRICK, but surprisingly many one-shot takes of the actors potting a fair run of balls. THE CHEAP POOL TRICK is this: if two balls are in contact with each other, and you hit one ball, no matter where you hit it, the other ball will go in a particular direction (away from the point of contact between the two balls). There are also some bits of fast cutting and other stuff to show off the pool playing, and this clearly is a better hustling movie than Rounders simply because pool is watchable and poker isn't.
Rating (from -4 to 4): 1