Jan. 1, 2005, 12:17 a.m. CST
by Judge Doom
WOOP BOBBBBA LOOBAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jan. 1, 2005, 12:17 a.m. CST
yep, it sucks. Awful, horrible piece of crap. Haven't seen a worse performance in terms of utter hatred and annoyance in a movie than that of Tea Leoni's in this. Gross. Oh, and Happy New Year. I'm going out to have fun now.
Jan. 1, 2005, 12:25 a.m. CST
The film goes in circles. Telling the same story over and over. And yes, Leo did seem a little young the first half of the film at least. They did a good job of making him look older later in the film, but the movie just drags terribly.
Jan. 1, 2005, 12:36 a.m. CST
by The guy
I agree it was a HUGE disappointment. At the theater where I saw it there were quite a few walkouts. The movie dragged, the acting was over the top, especially Leo and Cate Blanchett. The cameos felt unnecessary. What a waste of a dream cast. I noticed it's not making a lot of money at the boxoffice. Not a big surprise. The word of mouth is gonna kill this movie. I predict no more than 50 million at the domestic b.o. making it a BUST, since it cost over 100 million to make.
Jan. 1, 2005, 12:47 a.m. CST
Everyone's talking about how great it was, and I think she's a good actress, but damn, what an over the top, grandstanding perforance it is. Does anyone think Kate Hepburn actually acted like that in real life? It's like watching Hepburn in Adam's Rib. Blanchett's seems like a frontrunner for an oscar, but geeze.
Jan. 1, 2005, 1:01 a.m. CST
by Darth Thoth
Thanks for the writeup Mori. I enjoyed Flying Daggers but not to the extent that I enjoyed Hero. HOFD was a technical marvel... I was awed... but I wasn't blown away nor was I completely wrapped up into the film. Maybe my expectations were too high. Still, a very good movie. And Hotel Rwanda was just awesome. Cheadle is just amazing. I really hope this movie gets play and people check it out. It's moving, funny, interesting, educational, but most importantly, it's real. It really happened. Let us learn and not repeat its mistakes. Ultimately, I felt it was a film that illustrated the responsibility we have to our fellow humans. We are all family. And it's so easy to lose sight of that because of our "differences." An important film.
Jan. 1, 2005, 2:39 a.m. CST
Jan. 1, 2005, 3:11 a.m. CST
I'll be quite honest with you, now ... NO doubt I'll cry a tear ... if they have a "Schumacher moment" by flashing Batman's REAR. -- Let's hope they somehow capture how Scarecrow instills much fear. And if Batman flees in the Batmobile, he panics but finds the right gear! -- I'll toss and turn with sleepless nights as the release date really gets near. Like many of you, I can hardly wait, 'til June 17th is ... finally ... here!
Jan. 1, 2005, 7:20 a.m. CST
by Jon E Cin
Other then that I'd pass. I shouldve..I'm not there yet.
Jan. 1, 2005, 9:18 a.m. CST
by Andy Travis
Sorry, but I find the point of Hero to be much too interesting to slap a simple communist label on it. Besides, the theory of ultimately saving and (possibly) bettering lives through the institution of a dictator (which is what I assume you make out to be pro-communist) isn't a communist one at all. But I won't toss a "pro-fascist" tag on Hero, either...it's a movie about one man's choice.
Jan. 1, 2005, 10:29 a.m. CST
by Barry Egan
Jan. 1, 2005, 10:36 a.m. CST
by Dickie Greenleaf
Nice batch of reviews, Moriarty - of the films I've seen myself listed there, I gotta say I agree with most of what you say. Certainly, having just seen THE AVIATOR a couple of days ago, I'm confidently going to state right now that its the best film of the year (though I have still to check out HOTEL RWANDA, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, CLOSER and A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT which could all challenge). Unlike Moriarty (and a lot of other people but not all), I like GANGS OF NEW YORK and have written quite passionately about it in the past. I'm not going to retread old ground talking about how at its best, the film scaled heights beyond the reach of any other mortal filmmaker though due to problems of pacing and flow, was unquestionably flawed. What I think should be made clear, however, that though THE AVIATOR is Scorsese's best work in over a decade (his best since THE AGE OF INNOCENCE), at no point has the director lost any of the fire and passion that has characterized A Martin Scorsese Picture for over thirty years, and whatever its deficiencies, the sheer wealth of ideas in GANGS were ample proof that this veteran will never be content to coast on past glories. Of course, many would argue that it was exactly the weight of too many clashing ideas that resulted in the rather schizophrenic nature of GANGS' final cut, but regardless, the film teemed with life. Where THE AVIATOR ultimately surpasses the last film is in the way Scorsese brings everything together so cohesively. Simply put, the film just sings. From the first frame to fade-out, the scale and scope of the setting and the story flows with supreme ease and a lightness of touch (perhaps the most significant departure from Scorsese's usual form) that has produced a grand entertainment of substance and grace. Couldn't agree more with Moriarty's assessment of the ending either. I was curious as to what exactly would be the appropriate way to conclude a picture that for the most part chooses to celebrate the ambition and idealism of Hughes, and to bow out on a note of simultaneous triumph and darkness was perfectly judged. And, for me, this is where DiCaprio's casting is crucial as I can't think of any other actor who is currently better at suggesting boyish exhuberance and all of the confidence, and indeed arrogance, that comes with throwing caution to the wind with such abandon ("We've gotta reshoot HELL'S ANGELS", "How much of it?", "All of it!") without ever completely casting off a seeming innate vulnerability. This is undoubtedly the best received performance by DiCaprio to date, but I really don't know why. After all, it's really not that much of a leap from CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, in which his rendition of con artist Frank Abagnale was in full possession of all of the characteristics discussed here - that same compelling blend of youthful zest brought crashing down to earth by the drag of reality. It may be argued that Leo's range is somewhat limited, but I think what these films indicate that he has reached a point where he knows what his strenths are and how best to use them, which at the end of the day is what all of the great movie stars share in common - including those so uncannily brought back to life in this film. Roger Ebert often quotes Howard Hawks' famous maxim that a great film must have three great scenes. Even after just one viewing, I would already suggest that THE AVIATOR has more than half a dozen instant classics; the thrilling staging of Hughes, in full dare-devil mode, shooting the celebrated aerial dogfight sequences of HELL'S ANGELS from his own cockpit with a handheld camera, the golf scene with Hughes and Katherine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) at the beginning of their poignantly played relationship, the entrance of a drunken Errol Flynn (fantastic cameo by Jude Law) at the stunningly recreated Cocoanut Grove and his shamelessly grandstanding attempt to pull Hepburn from under Hughes' nose before starting a brawl with his fellow swingers for the sheer hell of it, Hughes' disastrous (and very funny) visit to the Hepburn compound in Connecticut - a sequence with enough material for a movie all of its own, the unexpected intensity of Hughes' truly terrifying and very bloody crash landing in Beverly Hills and hands down the best action sequence ever filmed by Marty, the striking contrast during the fuelled exchange between a naked and falling apart Hughes and the dapper Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin) on opposite sides of Hughes' screening room door where he'd holed up in paranoid recluse which serves as a prelude to the fantastic Senate showdown with Trippe-owned Senator Owen Brewster (Alan Alda). These great moments are, once again, aided and supported by the very best craftspeople in the business - Robert Richardson's photography has already been justly celebrated, but making equally great contributions are production designer Dante Ferreti and composer Howard Shore (you'll be hard pressed to spot the seams between his score and the meticulously selected source music). All in all, the year's most complete film. Not all that far behind, however, is FINDING NEVERLAND. I don't know why Mori felt the need to begin his review in a virtually apologetic tone - exactly what is it about a film that plays to our most basic emotions that makes us restrain our praise and applause? It is, of course, a common trait among critics to cynically shy away from stories go straight for the heart, but I've always felt that, more than anything else, this stems from an inability to differentiate between brazen sentimentality and genuine sentiment. Granted, it's a thin line, but I think FINDING NEVERLAND is definitely a film imbued with the latter from start to finish. It's a simple tale, small and intimate, but with a big heart. Yes, it goes for tears, but it earns them. Enormous credit goes to the actors, who resist the obvious temptations to go for the typical big moments. I don't really know what I can say about Johnny Depp that everybody hasn't already said. There can be few modern actors who possess as much natural charisma, the ability to transfix their audience every time they appear to this degree. And what perhaps seperates Depp even further is the way he can do it in good and bad films alike. This is a really nice characterization, fully equipped with ample doses of the requisite Depp eccentrics, but most notable for the subtlety and sensitivity he plays it with throughout. His scenes with the young Davies boys, particularly the brilliant Freddie Highmore, have a lovely, easy-going charm, and the mutual need that subsequently develops between them never feels forced. In fact, nothing about the film feels forced. The plot may be telegraphed early on (though aren't all fairytales?), but its execution still moves. I don't think Forster has been given due credit here; as well as bringing his film to life with some truly inventive visuals and sets, especially during the sequences of make-believe, the tight focus on these people, whose basis may have been in standard archetypes, allows them by film's end to blossom into real people genuinely deserving of the audience's engagement. There may not have been a more ineveitable final scene in a movie all year as that between Depp and Highmore on that park bench, but I know I didn't see one more touching or more perfectly played nonetheless. A beautiful close to a beautiful film.
Jan. 1, 2005, 11:33 a.m. CST
Well, that would be because Zhao Xiaoding was working with Zhang Yimou, Moriarty. And Zhang Yimou, as anyone who's ever so slightly knowledgeable on the subject of Chinese films knows, is the greatest perfectionist out there, not to mention a former director of photography himself. He's the sort of director who knows exactly what he wants his films to look like and will explode when the cinematographers he works with deviate ever so slightly from what he had in mind. And because he used to be a pretty amazing director of photography himself, his films usually end up looking pretty damned astonishing, even when he's working with inexperienced directors of photography. It doesn't matter who shoots his films; as long as Zhang directs them, they're going to look good.
Jan. 1, 2005, 1:55 p.m. CST
by D. Allusion
That of Bush or the Chinese authorities Zhang Yimou is seeming to be sucking up to. If recognizing that is thinking with my ass, at least I'm thinking with something. You don't seem to be thinking at all.
Jan. 1, 2005, 2:23 p.m. CST
Was fantastic! I have to see it again to appreciate it fully, but I thought the performances, especially Leo's, were just amazing. Kudos to Mr. Scorsese and his talented cast for a job well done!
Jan. 1, 2005, 4:34 p.m. CST
As one poster above wisely pointed out, THE AVIATOR is only playing on half as many screens as FOCKERS, but I will add the fact that the 3 hour running time means fewer showings per day as well. Couple these two factors, and I'd say THE AVIATOR is doing quite well at the box office. I've seen it twice now, and both showings were close to sold out, and both audiences really seemed to love the movie. Not that it makes my opinion matter one whit more than any other talkbacker, but I'm the movie reviewer for our city paper and THE AVIATOR is my #1 film of the year; here's hoping it cleans up at the Oscars this year.
Jan. 1, 2005, 5:08 p.m. CST
by Barry Egan
I enjoyed reading your comments on "The Aviator" almost as much as I enjoyed watching the film. The movie was great. And we don't get enough intelligent commentary like that in the talkbacks.
Jan. 1, 2005, 5:22 p.m. CST
Thx for the first two catch-up reviews.
Jan. 1, 2005, 5:49 p.m. CST
...and doing a couple of short papers on it, I've come to the conclusion that Zhang Yimou isn't painting Qin Shi Huang (the emperor) in a very positive light. The film seems to be saying that you can have unity as long as you are willing to sacrifice individuality, romance and color. Even the film's structure represents this. The emperor would say 'Why have three different stories when one will do?' In the end, all the heroes, the cool people, are wiped out and all the colors are absorbed into black. (And he's a right bastard to kill Jet Li...) I think it would be extremely weird if Zhang Yimou suddenly did an about-face and became a commie shill. His movies before HERO are pretty critical of the Red Chinese gov't.
Jan. 1, 2005, 5:50 p.m. CST
by santos kauffman
But I found Dicaprio's performance remarkable, and I really hope dude gets the Oscar. Im really pumped for the Infernal Affairs remake now.
Jan. 1, 2005, 6:01 p.m. CST
by andrew coleman
HOFD was all images, just cool fights and they tried to have some meaning behind it, but if you sit down and actually try to piece everything in the script together, you fall into pot holes so big you'll never escape. I think Hero was really cool simply because I don't believe it is pro-communist but I do believe it is very politicaly powerful. It's actually very pro-Bush if you think about, that's why I laugh when extreme liberals love this movie
Jan. 1, 2005, 7:15 p.m. CST
twindaggerturkey, I am about one or two more arguments like yours away from according Hero the same status Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony has earned. After a few viewings, I'm starting to think that perhaps Hero isn't quite as pro chinese communism as I'd originally thought. Perhaps a more nuanced interpretation, like yours, would find that Hero is no more pro communist than Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony was. For those not in the know, Dmitri Shostakovich was a Soviet era Russian composer who lived, and worked, under Joseph Stalin. Depending on the political climate, he was alternately hailed as a hero of the Soviet Union, or decried as a bourgeois elitist. At one point he was reviled publicly in Pravda (most likely ghost written by Stalin). That was basically one step short of being sent to Siberia. After one such attack (there were multiple over the course of his career), Shostakovich wrote his Fifth Symphony--subtitled "A Soviet Artist's Answer to Just Criticism"--which greatly pleased Stalin. Underneath the very populist skin of the music is a very dark sarcasm which completely negates the air of conformity he was attempting to convey. Luckily, the sarcasm was completely missed by the majority of listeners at the premier, and Shostakovich's public status was subsequently restored.
Jan. 1, 2005, 7:18 p.m. CST
"The Aviator has got legs". It'll pull in people for months to come at the box office, rather than the typical flash-and-dash of the standard Hollywood release these days. The movie producers and distributors in today's market are all too happy to pin their mark of success on a big opening weekend - which is ridiculous, considering the overwhelming pattern of these movies to drop an average of 60% in their second weekend and then quickly fade into "Oh, that's still at the first-run theaters?" by week three. "The Aviator" will have a similar audience effect to another Leo movie, "Titanic", where people will still be going to see it for the first time more than a month after it opens. No, it won't make a billion dollars like "Titanic", but it'll still bring bringing in dollars when movies like "Meet The Fockers" and "Ocean's Twelve" are all but forgotten.
Jan. 1, 2005, 9:11 p.m. CST
by Lazarus Long
Is there anyone else who's confused at why so many press reviews of Yimou's two-fer (in America, at least) mention how Crouching Tiger pales in comparison? And I'm talking to people who enjoyed all three films. I feel CTHD is miles above the Yimou films, if not for action than certainly for epic quality, and more importantly, depth of character. It's bizarre to see all these critics fawning over what are fairly shallow characters, especially in HOFD. At the end of Crouching, the death scene between Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh was one of the most moving things I've experienced in the cinema. The flashback story of Jen added a layer that the two more recent films couldn't get anywhere near. Perhaps it has something to do with critics wanting to take Ang Lee down, and while Yimou's entire career may be more impressive, I don't think he made better films in this case. Hero was probably the more interesting of the two due to its Rashomon-like storytelling, but as much as I loved HOFD I was expecting something more than a 90 minute chase scene. And while the photography was visually stunning, the fact that it was so digitally altered makes a little less impressive.
Jan. 2, 2005, 12:50 a.m. CST
by The guy
I agree that it's on half as many screens as Meet The Fockers, but how do you explain it's measly 2,000 per screen average? That's kinda low considering it's a $100 million dollar epic starring arguably the biggest movie star in the world. It's per screen average it's currently third behind Meet The Fockers and Phantom of The Opera. Let's see how this film plays next weekend, once the bad word out of mouth gets out. This film was a MAJOR disappointment. It was slow, redundant (the OCD stuff), and the acting was way over the top, but nobody wants to say it because it's Scorsese. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of his, but he's starting to lose it. His last truly great film was in 1990 (Goodfellas).
Jan. 2, 2005, 10:15 a.m. CST
I'm fairly incredulous that people are disappointed with this film. I'm not trying to disparage your tastes or sensibilities, because we are all obviously entitled to our opinions, but only once or twice a year (and sometimes not at all) so I see a film that just totally wows me, that I exit thinking "that was a great movie!" THE AVIATOR was definitely one of those, and the general buzz from other theate patrons was exremely positive. I went with an extremely picky friend on second viewing, whose normal comment upon leaving any movie running over 2 hours is "that film needed some editing," said that he thought THE AVIATOR was one of the best-flowing and best-edited long movies he's ever seen. I definitely feel that THE AVIATOR is Scorsese's best film since Goodfellas and one of the 3 or 4 best films that he's ever made. For what it's worth, my provisional top 5 list for the year (without having seen Sideways or Million Dollar Baby yet) is: 1. THE AVIATOR 2. RAY 3. COLLATERAL 4. KILL BILL 2 5. SPIDER-MAN 2
Jan. 2, 2005, 9:36 p.m. CST
Considering it's a near 3 hour epic it's doing very well. But I do agree with guy, it's a looong film that repeats itself over and over. I have no idea why so many people are calling it the best of the year.
Jan. 2, 2005, 9:55 p.m. CST
by Lou C.
I'm just wondering. and newpulp, Leo DID do pretty well with Spielberg and Catch Me If You Can. Yeah, Hanks was in it, but it was DiCaprio's show, so ....
Jan. 4, 2005, 9:36 a.m. CST
She actually smiles for once. And I don't mean smile in an evil, and now I will kick your ass, way. She smiles and damn if it doesn't make an already stunnning woman, pure radiation sunshine. Oh and the film's good too.
Jan. 4, 2005, 11:23 a.m. CST
You want to see more Zhang Ziyi smiles? Check out "The Road Home", her first film. She doesn't kick arse in it, but boy, is she enchanting. A hundred per cent radiant. The film itself is excellent, as well, although you won't enjoy it much if you actually expect her to fight in it. :-)