not a beautiful or unique snowflake (nothings) wrote,
not a beautiful or unique snowflake

movie reviews

Ratings from -4 to 4
  • Top Secret [re-view]: 2
  • Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy: 0
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery [partial re-view]: 0
  • Ghostbusters [re-view]: 1
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley: -1
  • Death Becomes Her: 2

Top Secret

Elvis-esque Val Kilmer visits Germany for a cultural festival and gets involved with a French underground organization. Well, perhaps a plot summary is the wrong thing to remind you of this movie. A giant pigeon statue; guys on a train watch a station pull out; a german soldier knocked off a castle wall falls and shatters into fragments when he hits the ground. I originally saw this Zucker, Zucker, and Abrahams movie in a theater when it came out. But I'd only seen it once, unlike Airplane! and the Police Squad TV series. So I figured I should check it out again to see how I'd rate it now. And it came out surprisingly high. Sure, there are a whole bunch of bits that don't work that well, but it has far more bits that work great. Sure, some of the musical numbers go too long, but it has an amazing single-take filmed-backwards scene to make up for it. Sure, some of the humor is incredibly crude--the anal intruder, some of the cow bits--but nothing the Farrelley brothers haven't already topped. Val Kilmer's first film and he does pretty well and a very good job singing. Rating (-4 to 4): 2

Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

A scientist invents a pill that "cures" depression by causing recipients to relive their happiest memory. The director should probably be shot for his really excessive camera moves that seem not to be in service of the story. Some of the material is funny but the KitH prediliction for doing multiple roles and especially female roles is just silly. Mostly it just wasn't that funny that often, and didn't make up for it by being particularly entertaining. It was nice to see the black ending, pre-epilogue. Rating (-4 to 4): 0

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Mike Meyers is the titular swinging 60's secret agent frozen and reactivated in the 1990s to do battle with Mike Meyers as Dr. Evil. I saw some of this on cable previously. This was kind of a fun concept, but it felt like it was sort of beating on the same jokes a little too hard too often--lots of things done twice: "one million dollars", Dr. Evil's chair rolling inappropriately, the coincidentally obscured naughty bits. And some irritating bits that went on too long. And hey, fish out of water, been done. And really, the Bond movies were always a bit campy, so it's a tad pointless to try to spoof them anyway. Rating (-4 to 4): 0


Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Harold Ramis investigate and capture ghosts. This was fun, but it didn't stand up that well seeing it again after all these years. Not because the special effects didn't stand up (they don't, especially the stop-motion stuff), but because, umm, it's really not funny very often, and the action/horror elements that provide entertainment the rest of the time aren't that interesting. Murray's classic cynical Murray character carries the bulk of the comic weight, with Ramis playing the really smart guy and Akroyd the science-smart but otherwise goofy guy. Sigourney Weaver is fine as a foil but I don't recall her doing much. The story is certainly neat and clever and original, at least. Rating (-4 to 4): 1

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) visits italy and mooches off of rich kid Dickie (Jude Law) and fiancee Gwyneth Paltrow. Damon is a cipher, Paltrow is just pretty; only Jude Law's performance really amounts to much, of the leads. I had some serious problems with structure in this story; Ripley announces that his three talents are lying, impersonation, and forging signatures. That's an odd set of three talents for a piano-tuner and restroom attendant to have. It turns out that in the book, the talented Mr. Ripley was, in fact, a small time crook before he went to Italy--in which case the talents make story sense. At the end, Ripley, concerned over being caught, takes an action that ruins his own life and hope for happiness, out of a desire to survive. Yet, (a) it seems impossible that this action wouldn't lead to him at long last being caught, and (b) it seems like he could have simply told Meredith who he really was, and she'd have stormed off and never told anyone about it. Well, according to the commentary track, the character of Meredith was added to the movie; so presumably things worked out differently in the book. I think this was yet another case where writer/director was a bad idea--somebody needed to critique the script more seriously. Rating (-4 to 4): -1

Death Becomes Her

Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep battle through the ages to be the one who ages least. This was funny and entertaining and neat. The "big" special effects scenes weren't so impressive--the backwards head was good, but the hole-in-the-chest showed fringing effects. (I was more impressed by an earlier "stunt" in which a car nearly rolls over Goldie Hawn. Even ignoring that it looks like it's Goldie, it's hard to see how any stuntperson could safely do the stunt--for a moment I considered that perhaps they'd filmed it backwards, but the car pulls up and pulls away in a single take, regardless of whether it's forward or backwards.) Anyway, it's got funny bits, it's pretty entertaining--something Zemeckis is just really good at, I suppose. The screenplay doesn't quite get anywhere with its attempt to criticize youth-worshipping culture, and I still have no clue what Goldie Hawn's deep insight was supposed to have been in the asylum--as the plot turns out, it would seem she would have had to have known about the big big secret of the movie already then. But no big deal. Rating (-4 to 4): 2 shading lower
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