Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Movie Review: The Wind That Shakes The Barley

June 1, 2008

Set in 1920s County Cork, this Palme D’Or winner chronicles two brothers as they rise up at the hands of the brutal Black and Tans, join the IRA, and ultimately end up on opposite sides of Home Rule. A wonderful but difficult-to-watch portrait of the strength of the Irish people, this film covers the gamut including politics, religion, family, starvation, nationalism, suffering, pride, and the steadfastness that so characterized a people with nothing to lose. 

Director Ken Loach gives us Cillian Murphy in yet another brilliant performance as the idealistic doctor Damien, who must confront his principles and question his commitment at every turn on the bumpy road to civil war. Murphy has so many truly difficult scenes and he plays them all with the skill of a virtuoso; he’s a pleasure to watch.

Murphy is backed up by spectacular performances across the board, including several wonderful female performances, surprising in such a male-dominated film. Loach delves into the lives of the women who supported the IRA, running secret messages, cooking for them, and sheltering them always in the face of ugly consequences.

Complicated, thoughtful, imperfect, but utterly hopeful, The Wind That Shakes The Barley is a thrilling addition to the paeon of Irish filmmaking.

Grade: B+

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Movie Review: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

May 31, 2008

I saw this flick last weekend at the Somerville Theater…where they serve beer…but it didn’t make the movie any better. George Lucas should have handed over writing abilities to someone much younger than himself who loved Raiders Of The Lost Ark. His moldy, cliched, unsuspenseful writing totally fails his actors, who are trying really effing hard and deliver almost universally strong performances. Lucas’ perspective on mid-century America seems to be gleaned solely from cheesy newsreels depicting greasers, drag racing, Atomic blasts, and trenchcoated G-Men. If Lucas wanted Indiana Jones to be a cartoon superhero, he shouldn’t have let him age.

You know the drill: academic/archeologist Indiana Jones goes on a wacky adventure with a band of zany sidekicks under the guise of fetching something for a museum while simultaenously triumphing over Nazis. Except in this movie, it’s Russians. And that’s just the start of its problems. While charmingly cartoonish, Russians are inherently not as hateable nor as hilarious as Nazis. Cate Blanchett leads the non-Nazi Russians as a fencing bobbed nasty girl with much-touted psychic abilitied that never materialize. Shia LeBoeuf plays the stooge role as a greaser with information. He’s also the source of one of Lucas’ many totally obvious plot twists: Guess who his mother is! Guess who his father is!

Harrison Ford is…I mean he’s good but…I don’t quite know how to tell you this…the man has AGED. He’s good and he tried but it’s ledd Indianan Jones and more president from Air Force One. And Karen Allen has completely forgotten the raw grit that made us all love Marion Ravenwood because she’s channellling sappy soggy Katie from Animal House here.

This movie is fun if you go into it with low (and i mean LOW) expectations. I wanted to revisit the joy I felt when my dad took me to see the first installment back in 1981. There are fun moments and great performances but the script, direction, and unbearable presence of monkeys and groundhogs brings it down.

Grade: C-

The Wall Of Fame

September 25, 2007

I have this fantasy of having a Wall of Fame, much like the controversial wall in Sal’s Pizzeria that sparked a riot in Do The Right Thing. My wall would have framed black-and-white headshots of the following luminaries (to be updated when necessary):

Julia Child

Marvin Gaye

Bruce Campbell