Television executive Bill Murray encounters the ghosts of christmas past, present, and future. Murray is just a damn funny guy. Too bad this movie went so cheesily after its adaptation. There's one bit where the camera pans from Mary Lou Retton rehearsing her line as Tiny Tim to the mute son of the assistant who is the Tiny Tim character here, and it's like, hello, hit us over the head with it why don't you? Also, I didn't care for the choice of keeping the ghost of xmas present un-wacky. Finally, I didn't buy Murray's conversion--yes, he sees himself dead, well, guess what, no matter what he does, he's STILL GOING TO DIE. Rating (-4 to 4): 0
Police Chief Roy Schieder defends the town of Amity against a man-eating shark. Figured I should finally get around to seeing this. Some bits of cheese--Schieder taking the fall for letting people back on the beach when actually it was the mayor overruling him; the mayor's delay in converting to the cause and only THEN admitting he had kids too (if he'd admitted it earlier, it would have seemed implausible that he'd laugh off the shark attack). There's a lot of arbitrariness to just which of the three guys on the boat ends up biting it to the shark--it has thematic/character resonance, but as events transpire, there's really no plausible reason why he bites it and the other doesn't, so I felt like I was seeing the hand of the screenwriter there. Rating (-4 to 4): 1
A man receives a poison which leaves him several days of life but no antidote, so he sets out to solve his own murder. (What a great idea. And yet, what a stupid poison for the villain to use.) I saw the entirely different Dennis Quaid version, I think, years ago, and I saw this cross-referenced when I was renting a Hitchcock movie, so I figured I'd check it out. There's this one freaky thing--whenever the protagonist spots a cute woman in the opening act, there's a wolf whistle sound effect played by some sort of soft/muted flutey sort of instrument. The first few times it happened I was totally confused what it was. Anyway, it seems a little erratic with him wandering everywhere and suspecting everyone and all. But mostly I don't really remember my reaction very well now, as it was about two weeks ago. Rating (-4 to 4): 0
The famous Akira Kurosawa picture about several different viewpoints of the same event; someone is dead, and basically all three of the involved parties claim to be the killer in a self-aggrandizing way; a fourth, potentially impartial observer, offers such a mocking portrait of the others that his is equally implausible. This was pretty yay, although some things that I don't remember now rubbed me enough the wrong way that it wasn't perfect. Rating (-4 to 4): 2
As I said before, Chris Nolan is screwed since I think the form-content interplay of Memento is the sort of thing that's once-in-a-lifetime. Insomnia was a perfectly fine psychological thriller, beautifully made, finely acted. Pacino is just amazing. (It's especially amazing to watch the director's commentary, which shows the film in an entirely different order--in the order it was short, chronologically. Thus you see Pacino having to slip in and out of various degrees of sleep-deprivation, or see Robin Williams and Pacino have their second big conversation before their first.) Sadly, the titular Insomnia appears to have pretty much no impact on the plot of the movie; it seems like the exact same sequence of events could transpire with a detective who had no trouble sleeping. Of course the insomnia makes the character more strange and interesting and deepens the story, but it would be nice if the two actually intersected somewhere.