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Moriarty’s Movie Journal: Amy Adams, Spike Lee, Giant Crocs, Surfin’ Jews, ‘70s Hoffman And A Buncha Blu!

Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here. You know who’s a badass? Quint. Quint is a gen-u-wine badass. That boy announced a column with a punishing publication standard, he started it, and he has stuck to it. Bad. Ass. I am not a badass. I’m a distracted dad of two who is lucky he remembers where his computer is these days. Doesn’t mean I’m seeing less films... it’s finding the time to write about them inbetween other things that has become increasingly difficult. I keep a notebook with me when I see films, and I like to typically sit in the car for ten minutes or so after a movie to write down a few first impressions. I don’t take notes during a film... I think that’s no good. I’d rather see the whole thing, let it work on me (or not), and then put my gut reaction on the page as much as possible. You can sculpt a piece later, after digesting the movie a little more, but I think those first reactions can count for something. I do the same thing at home after watching something. Same notebook. A few paragraphs or, if inspiration strikes, more. Whatever it takes to sort out my feelings on the movie enough that I’ll be able to look at that later for reference. And, hey, it may not have seemed like it the other day in my CLONE WARS piece, but I’m glad the whole thing went down the way it did. I had to do some serious thinking about what it is I like... no, more than that... what it is that I need when it comes to writing about movies. Why do it? I know why I write movies. That’s an easy one to answer. I write the movies I want to see. It’s a clearly defined goal I’ve had since I was seven years old, and it’s never wavered. Not once. I think there is an enormous personal satisfaction that is hard to describe that comes from having an idea, writing it, handing it over to someone, and getting back a finished film as a result. But why do I also write about movies? What do I get out of that? Is it just for a paycheck? If so, I’m very bad at that, because there were a lot of years at AICN where there were no paychecks, and even now, I ain’t gettin’ rich doing this. Is it ego? Of course. That’s got to be part of it. But anyone who insists on sharing their opinion about ANYTHING, especially in published declarative form, does so because they have the ego to believe that their opinion has some inherent and important-to-be-shared worth. It’s more than that, though. When I first signed online in 1994, what amazed me the most was the idea that all these people were out there talking about movies. Seriously talking about them. People who were passionate and devoted. These days, that might seem absolutely commonplace, but at that point, it felt revolutionary. Up till that point, the only people I could talk movies with were my immediate friends, and my family, and everyone I knew put up with my level of movie mania, but none of them truly matched it. The internet in 1994 felt like stumbling into a community where I belonged, even if I had no idea before then that it existed. One of the reasons I continue to absolutely not see eye-to-eye with people who insist on trying to push me into the traditional role of a journalist is because I never once tried to become that. Ever. I didn’t find myself at AICN because I was a journalist and I was looking to emulate Pauline Kael and find a newspaper job, but wow, look, here’s this thing that’s even BETTER than newspapers! And I didn’t get here after working in the magazine game for a while and having to really hustle for freelance work, and maybe failing my way from one staff job to another before I found the internet, where I could reinvent myself with all these start-up outlets. I know guys who followed those paths, and they’re still online, still writing, to various degrees of success. Those guys fancied themselves “journalists” in a traditional sense, and they still work to appropriate the term to their new definitions. What-the-fuck-ever. I got here because of things like newsgroups or chat rooms, where it wasn’t about reportage so much as it was about dissection. I got here because I liked the interaction I had with Harry on alt.cult-movies or rec.arts.movies.current-films, or in #movies on IRC. It was an evolution of that conversation that finally ended up with me here on the site, writing about film and about the business. And if I ever seem pissy with talkback as a whole, please remember two things: I love the idea of talkback, and when it works, I really do think it’s Harry’s single best idea. And any disappointments I have come from seeing people treat it like a toilet. That’s all. Not everyone does, of course, but some do, and that’s what irritates me. I hate the idea that the conversation ever has to turn into this ridiculous personal ugly nonsense. I don’t understand the rage. The anger. It’s movies, guys. We’re talking about the greatest art form that ever existed, something so vast and amazing that it can include both shameless trash and transcendent brilliance, and both have genuine worth. There’s so many things we COULD be talking about that when someone wants to get off on some silly flame war or some racist rant or some childish recitation of some nine year old poorly-researched gossipy hit piece, it’s a drag. So enough with the politics. Enough with the personal. Enough with the careful navigation of the opinion-laced minefield that AICN can sometimes be for me. Either I have the conversation the same way I did when I first signed on in 1994, or I don’t do this at all. I used to argue for days about what was in the briefcase or whether Deckard was a replicant or any of a thousand other geeky things, and I loved that there were people out there willing to have those arguments in the first place. I’ve always watched more films than I could write about, but what if I start publishing those after-movie notes as a round-up column? I have a running list of everything I’ve seen at the IMDb (god, I love the MyMovies feature), and I’d love to at least try to share with you the journal I keep. When things are really worth it, I’ll always opt for the full review instead of just an appearance in this column, but at least this way, everything becomes part of the conversation for a moment or two. For example, here’s the full list of what I’ve watched in the last seven days: CJ7 ROGUE: UNRATED (DVD) STRAIGHT TIME (DVD) PROM NIGHT: UNRATED (BluRay) HEROES: SEASON TWO (DVD) THE SCORPION KING 2: RISE OF A WARRIOR (DVD) FELON (BluRay) SLEEPWALKING (DVD) MISS PETTIGREW SAVES THE DAY (DVD) MO’ BETTER BLUES (DVD) BURN NOTICE: SEASON ONE (DVD) CJ7 THAT THING YOU DO: DIRECTOR’S CUT (DVD) PENELOPE (DVD) SURFWISE (DVD) THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (BluRay) THE YEAR MY PARENTS WENT ON VACATION (DVD) HECKLER (DVD) HIS MAJESTY O’KEEFE (DVD) MAN ON WIRE (screening) SEX DRIVE (screening) MARRIED LIFE (BluRay) DIRTY HARRY (BluRay) WHILE SHE WAS OUT (screening) RAMBO (BluRay) I.O.U.S.A. (screening) CJ7 APPALOOSA (screening) That’s about an average week for me. I missed several screenings I was going to try to attend because I’ve got family in town right now, and there just wasn’t a way for me to get away. Normally, I’d see at least four screenings in a given week, maybe more. And that list doesn’t take into account the things that Toshi likes to watch repeatedly, like the ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS disc. By “watch,” of course, I mean “have playing while he runs around the house and plays and occasionally glances as the screen.” He watches about seven minutes of any given movie while it’s on TV. There is PlayDoh in the room, after all, and what movie can compete with that? Well, actually, to be fair, one movie seems to captivate him right now, as I’m sure you noticed in the list above, and he’s asked for it repeatedly since it arrived in the mail originally:

I enjoyed Stephen Chow’s latest film when I saw it. The kid actors made me laugh in a LITTLE RASCALS/BUGSY MALONE sort of way. It’s radically different from his last few films, but I think he’s gotten better and better as a visual storyteller and a builder of sight gags. This is definitely a film born in the shadow of E.T., but like HARRY & THE HENDERSONS, the genuine charm of the creature and the particular variations on the genre conventions make the film worthwhile. It’s very broad, very silly. And you should brace yourself for a veritable onslaught of toilet humor. But there’s a gentle warmth to the overall film and Sony’s BluRay release of it looks and sounds fantastic.

I liked WOLF CREEK, but sort of hate the where’s-the-third-act? ending, and I heard nice things about director Greg Mclean’s second film. It’s gone straight-to-DVD here, and that’s a shame. It’s effective as a thriller, and the solid cast manages to make you really care about these people to an uncommon degree for this type of film. John Jarratt does some lovely understated work, Michael Vartan’s unlikely hero is actually sort of believable, Radha Mitchell brings a grounded quality to her role that works, and anyone curious about AVATAR/TERMINATOR SALVATION’s Sam Worthington can get a good long look at him here. MCLEAN KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING. Biggest lesson of the film. I’ve got no idea what politics or focus groups led to this one going straight to video, or what economics forced the choice, but this would have been great fun to see with a crowd. I want to see this in a theater with my wife. It’s that sort of film. And it’s a beautifully photographed film that makes the most of the Northern Australian landscape. Put a group together yourself if you watch it at home. It’s worth the effort.

Warner Bros. released this one last year, I think, a largely-forgotten Dustin Hoffman vehicle from the ‘70s. I remember liking it the last time I saw it, which must have been around ’87 or ’88. I don’t remember it being as good as it is. I miss the days where Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro all seemed to be locked in this bout, duking it out for the title of “Best Actor Alive.” All of them chasing Brando, who took a fade for the most part, occasionally emerging to lay the whammy on the industry and then disappear again. The Method Actor’s Moby Dick. It was exciting to see what choices those guys made. They pushed themselves and they pushed each other. They were all making adventurous personal films and using their clout to get some difficult material made. They were chasing these great, dense, layered roles. Ulu Grosbard’s made very few films, but I think he’s a sturdy, occasionally inspired guy whose films worked in fits and starts. GEORGIA, his 1995 film with Jennifer Jason Leigh, is an overlooked gem, and so is this one. You remember Eddie Bunker in RESERVOIR DOGS? He’s Mr. Blue. He’s the guy who doesn’t look like an actor. He looks like Quentin just went out and found the real deal. He looks that way because that’s exactly what he is: the real deal. He’s a career criminal who landed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list and inside San Quentin before he was 18 years old. He wrote a novel while in prison called NO BEAST SO FIERCE. That book became an obsession for Dustin Hoffman, who got Warner Bros. to buy it so he could direct the movie. He’s the one who hooked Bunker up with a string of writers like Alvin Sargent, Michael Mann, and Jeffrey Boam, all of them collaborating with him while he was still locked up. Keep in mind, this was the mid-‘70s, so this predates any of Mann’s films, and you can see the DNA of THIEF and HEAT here, no doubt about it. Then just as the film started to shoot, Hoffman balked and Grosbard stepped in to direct it. The finished film may not be exactly what any of them originally had in mind, but it’s got real integrity, and a beautiful fluid ‘70s visual style that really holds up. The film is of a moment, but it’s not “dated” in a bad way. This is just the state of the art of crime at a particular moment in 1978. It’s a very matter-of-fact look at one guy, Max Dembo (Hoffman) trying to make a life for himself after six years inside. Theresa Russell’s quite moving (and fairly hot) as a young woman drawn to Max’s aura of danger, and she seems to inspire the only moments of peace or calm for Max in the whole film. The rest of the time, he’s on ede. Each choice seems to exist independently for him. He doesn’t think ahead. He just does things. He just reacts. Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton, and M. Emmett Walsh are all great in their supporting turns, and Bunker himself shows up in a small part, a real natural in his one scene. I’m glad Warner put this one out (along with the Rip Torn film PAYDAY, which I still need to write about at some point) and I’m definitely adding it to the permanent collection.

I can’t call this a good film, but it is an interesting one. You know the common (and largely correct) assertion that horror films are about stupid people making stupid decisions? Like “Why is she going into that basement?” or “No, don’t drop the gun! He’s not dead!” or “Why didn’t you call the cops?” or “Why are you facing the killer alone?” And the other easy complain is that most killers in these films aren’t characters... they’re stuntmen in rubber masks, and to the studio, they’re interchangeable. Well, PROM NIGHT’s characters pretty much make good decisions when confronted with danger or trouble, and they do call in the cops, and for the most part, it’s a crashing bore. And the killer is written as a character and not just a type or a mask, and it’s still pretty much a drag. PROM NIGHT’s characters are wafer-thin and the “drama” between kills is strictly for folks who think THE HILLS is (A) real and (B) interesting. If you ask me to describe this to you in six months, I won’t be able to.

You know why season two didn’t let me down? Because I didn’t like season one, either. I don’t get it. Every single idea HEROES has, I’ve already seen done in existing comic properties, traditional and post-modern alike, and I’m not convinced that any of these characters are richly imagined enough for me to look past the familiarity of it all. Let me know if turns out to be some urgent reason to watch season three, but otherwise, I may be done with this one entirely.

Randy Couture could kill me with his bare hands, so I’ll phrase this carefully: acting may not be his “thing.” What really blows my mind is that Russell Mulcahy directe this sub-XENA tripe. You’d never know it from looking at it. This is the sort of craven direct-to-video cash grab that gives craven direct-to-video cash grabs a bad name.

This, on the other hand, wasn’t half-bad. Written and directed by stuntman Ric Roman Waugh, it’s a surprisingly good lead performance by Stephen Dorff that makes this really worth a look. Val Kilmer also does some interesting work as John Smith, a veteran of the prison system who becomes a mentor to Wade Porter (Dorff). Wade was convicted for killing an intruder in his home, and much of the film reminds me of the first season of OZ, as Beecher found himself swallowed by the prison. We’ve seen this sort of things before, but Waugh offers up some punishing fight footage and enough narrative drive to make it work. A nice surprise.

No, sadly, the Bill Maher who directed this is not the same guy who religious fundamentalist whackjobs are probably going to kill after RELIGULOUS is released this fall. Working from a script by Zak Stanford, who also wrote THE CHUMSCRUBBER, this is a low key dysfunctional family drama starring Nick Stahl, AnnaSophia Robb, Charlize Theron, and Dennis Hopper. Robb impresses, as she seems to do consistently. She’s a smart young actress, but not in that spooky hyper-adult way Dakota Fanning or Haley Joel Osment were. And Charlize Theron continues to prove that she suffers real well onscreen. But as well-intentioned as this one is, it’s sort of a stiff. Theron plays Robb’s mother, a slow-motion car crash of a woman who takes off one day, leaving her daughter in the care of her emotionally stunted brother, played by Stahl. Hopper plays the father who left both Theron and Stahl so emotionally bruised, and he’s a cardboard cut-out monster when he finally shows up. Unless you’re a huge fan of the stars, this isn’t something you need to make an effort to track down.

I’m sort of amazed this didn’t get a bigger response at the box office coming on the heels of ENCHANTED’s popular success. Bharat Nalluri, the director of the film, exhibits a real flair for screwball comedy, and there are sequences here that are almost perfectly calibrated, and his cast are all obviously up to the challenge. Amy Adams plays the absurdly-named Delysia Lafosse, a struggling singer-actress who seems perfectly willing to trade ass for opportunity, and Frances McDormand plays the titular Miss Pettigrew, who gets drawn into Delysia’s orbit for one manic day. Delysia finds herself torn between the attentions of three men, only one of whom actually actually loves her. It’s a tough role to make sympathetic, since the film makes no bones about the way she uses sex as a commodity. Adams pulls it off, though. She makes you believe in all the vulnerability and fear bubbling just under the surface of this silly little flibbertigibbet. Adams is a deadly combination, a gifted comedienne who also happens to be adorably sexy. I’m fairly sure she’s going to be a major star for a long time, and ENCHANTED will mark the turning point where it started for her. This movie belongs to McDormand, though. Miss Pettigrew has been fired from every job she’s ever had as a nanny or a governess because she can’t help but speak her mind. She finds herself unemployable and has to steal a job lead off the desk of the woman who runs her employment agency, a last chance, and she ends up lying her way into Delysia’s employ. For the first time, though, Pettigrew’s brutal honesty turns out to be an asset. As she deals with Delysia and the rest of the supporting cast (including Ciarin Hinds, Shirley Henderson, Mark Strong, and Lee Pace), all in the course of this long crazy 24 hours, her honesty causes a ripple effect, forcing all of them to contend with the truth for the first time. My only real issue with the film is that the script by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy (working from a novel by Winnifred Watson) is just too linear, too simple. There’s not much comedic or dramatic tension. There are set-ups that never quite pay off so much as they just fizzle out. Things just fall into place. It’s enjoyable, but if they’d thrown a few more kinks in, the happy endings would feel earned instead of inevitable. Still, this one’s worth at least a look.

Spike Lee’s fourth film remains one of my favorites from his filmography. It’s funny... people reported the recent back-and-forth between Lee and Clint Eastwood over Eastwood’s Iwo Jima films, and very few of them made note of the fact that these two have butted heads before. When Eastwood made BIRD, the Charlie Parker biopic, Lee hammered him for what he saw as an inauthentic representation of black culture. Lee made this film as a reaction to Eastwood’s movie, something that seems to be playing out again right now with MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA’S serving as a response to FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. I found myself in the mood to see this again recently, then realized after a hunt through my DVDs that I didn’t actually have it in the house. This was a fairly early release by Universal on DVD, and as a result, it’s an okay transfer but nowhere near the standards of sound and picture that we see today. No matter. The film remains a lush and fascinating left turn for Lee after the incendiary anger of DO THE RIGHT THING. It’s one of the best films about the inherent selfishness of the artist, and it’s jampacked with great music and great performances. The movie features all of the stylistic quirks that were already ingrained in Lee’s work (certain signature camera flourishes, the outrageous names of his protagonists, digressions that were meant as metaphor), but it also seemed like a step forward in terms of overall film craft for him. The score is one of the best in any of his films, liberally leaning on huge helpings of classic jazz as well as original compositions by Lee’s father and Terrence Blanchard. I love the way he uses Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” towards the end of the film, and I think it’s ultimately a redemptive tale about learning that there is something larger than yourself or your work, something that almost all people in the creative arts eventually have to embrace if they want to find balance in their lives. I don’t find myself compelled to revisit all of Lee’s work on a regular basis, but MO’ BETTER is one of the ones that rewards me each time I do.

More fun than I would have expected. Matt Nix has come up with an ingenious way to do a spy show every week while staying in one locale. One of the things that strained the budget of ALIAS most was the idea that they were a globe-trotting series, having to use Burbank to double for... well, the entire world. With BURN NOTICE, Nix has devised a very clever way to clip the wings of Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), a spy who has been disavowed by his agency for reasons he can’t understand. As he tries to sort out who issued the “burn notice” on him and why, he makes his home in Miami, where he starts to do some freelance work with the assistance of his best friend Sam (the always-awesome Bruce Campbell) and his sometimes-girlfriend Fiona (the surprisingly-awesome Gabrielle Anwar). It’s a simple premise, and more than anything, the execution reminds me of THE ROCKFORD FILES, one of my favorite shows ever. There’s an effortless tough guy quality to it, and it’s very funny at times. I haven’t seen any of the new season, and I was a little frustrated by how short this first season was, since the story is just ramping up at the point that they ended. I don’t add many series to the TIVO, since I have a problem justifying the disc space for anything besides my very favorite programs, but I imagine this is like a number of comic books, where I’ll gladly pick up the trades even if I don’t read the individual issues. As a box set, this was a genuine pleasure.

I consider it one of the great mysteries of the industry why Tom Hanks has only written and directed one film. Even if THAT THING YOU DO didn’t set the box-office on fire, this is Tom Freakin’ Hanks we’re talking about. He’s so well-liked by pretty much everyone in the industry that I would have thought a film this well-made and heartfelt would have earned him a second chance. He’s not just an actor who happened to make a film. Based on the evidence, he’s a genuine gifted filmmaker. I mean, Paul “Well-Sucked” Anderson has an entire filmography by this point. In what world is that fair with Hanks only making one movie? Maybe Hanks never wanted to do it again. If that’s the case, then we are all poorer for it. THAT THING YOU DO is the story of the one-hit wonder. Hanks is wise enough about the industry to know that every one-hit wonder story is a variation on a theme, so he tells the archetypical story, about the Oneders, a small-town band that rides one insanely catchy tune all the way to the top of the charts and right... back... down. The film’s got a warm sense of humor, knowing and economical. I’ve seen the film about a dozen times since it came out in 1996, and I’ve always considered it an unsung gem. I was surprised to see Fox put out a “Director’s cut” DVD, and even more surprised to see that the re-edit makes a difference. So often, it doesn’t. You get a new scene, or a few extra beats in a sequence that’s otherwise the same. But here, there’s a ton of character work that got left on the floor, including most of the work by Charlize Theron, who had a small role as Tom Everett Scott’s unfaithful girlfriend. There’s a lot more of that in this version, and there’s one scene with Ethan Embry that makes a later shot of him listening to a song mean something totally new.

Whimsy’s hard. Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal hard. And I’m not sure ever quite nail it down. Director Mark Palansky and screenwriter Leslie Caveny try to turn the story of a girl with a pig’s nose into something akin to EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, but I don’t think the film ever figures out what it’s saying beyond a trite “don’t judge a book” message that hardly bears repeating at this point. Christina Ricci and James McAvoy try to create some sparks or something to eliven this one, but it just doesn’t work. In the end, it just lays there, never becoming the fairy tale it so desperately wants to be.

I’m not sure if this film is excusing Doc Paskowitz or indicting him. Doug Pray’s a damn good documentarian, and I think the real virtue of this film is the way it refuses to tell you what to think about Paskowitz. A brilliant man, he strikes me as the surfing world’s real-life Allie Fox. Fox was the protagonist of THE MOSQUITO COAST, a guy who dragged his family from crusade to crusade, forcing them to live like animals in order to satisfy some ideals he had in his head. Paskowitz and his wife had a huge family, but they raised the kids like a social experiment, removing them from any standard educational system and teaching them to surf while they led a nomadic life. It’s infuriating at times, and the kids all seem to have really struggled in later life, but there are also some amazing memories they shared, and when they’re eventually reunited, it’s obvious that these bonds run deep. If you’re a fan of the dysfunctional family documentary sub-genre, this one’s going to be a treat for you, but some audiences may find themselves ready to throttle Paskowitz well before the film wraps up its brief 93 minutes.

You want a reference copy quality movie for your BluRay system now that you’ve decided to buy into it? Something you can put on that’s going to push your sound system and also offer up a compelling visual argument for making the upgrade? THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. Considering Paramount’s gotten a late start in the BluRay game, they have obviously got the right idea in picking this title and in treating it right. It’s a hell of a transfer, and for the first time in over a decade, I watched the film, and it felt brand-new to me. Watching it now is a little bittersweet considering just how far John McTiernan has fallen in the time since he made this. He was on a hot streak that was sort of hard to believe. PREDATOR. DIE HARD. Then this. And the thing of it was, he wasn’t making films that were hyped from the moment they started production, like movies are today. He was just making cool genre movies, working from cool scripts. Those films were aiming to simply tell the stories well, and they happened to be pretty cool stories. McTiernan had a flawless eye for scope and kinetics, and his cutting style, a precursor to the spastic wunderkinds of today, is fast but crystal-clear. This film is more character-based than either of his earlier movies, more a suspense film than a flat-out action movie, but when it needs to turn on the juice, he gets it right every time. The sound design on this one is pretty amazing, particularly inside the submarines. I think this film is the pinnacle of Sean Connery’s career. I think everything built to him getting the Oscar for THE UNTOUCHABLES, and then this film was the first big choice he made after that, the first “serious” movie. INDY was the fun blockbuster, the financial reward for finally being taken seriously, and then THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER was the serious blockbuster. He’s awesome here, giving the kind of performance that defines a movie star. You want to know why he has to be respected? It’s all here, every bit of the particular charisma that he’d been fine-tuning since the early days of Bond to his big ‘70s movie star movies like THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING through the stuck-giving-great-performances-in-movies-no-one-saw years like HIGHLANDER or TIME BANDITS. And after this film, I don’t think he ever quite put it all together the same way again. It was sort of painful to watch him flame out in movies like ENTRAPMENT and FIRST KNIGHT and LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. But after a certain age, he just got harder to write for. Ramius is a fantastic character, mysterious and fascinating if you haven’t seen the film before. Learning what he’s doing is half the fun, and then figuring out why... Connery dispenses little clues about the character in everything he does. It’s mature, nuanced performance work. He wasn’t just a great movie star in his time... he really was a very sly and witty actor who made choices that just resonate. When he had the right material, he could play the shit out of it, and McTiernan got lucky he caught him when he did. Alec Baldwin... why did you turn down another Jack Ryan film? If you and McT had teamed up for a second one, a GOOD one, everything could be different today. Don’t get me wrong... I’m laughing just as hard as anyone else when I watch 30 ROCK, but I can’t help but wonder what that series could have been like if you guys had done them all.

A director by the unlikely name of Cao Hamburger made this piercing, intoxicating film about the uneasy childhood of Mauro (Michel Joelsas), and specifically the summer of 1970, when Brazil was battling for the World Cup with Pele at the head of their time, and when Mauro’s parents “went on vacation” and dumped him on the doorstep of a grandfather who turned out to be dead. The “vacation” is really an extended term in hiding from the law, and Mauro’s parents have to go deep underground, meaning there’s no way for them to find out that their son was left with a relative who is no longer there, forcing him to fend for himself. The script by Claudio Galperin, Cao Hamburger, Braulio Mantovani, and Anna Muylaert is filled with specific detail, evocative of a particular time and place, using the Moses story as a framework for showing what life was like in the Jewish Brazilian community, and what it was like to have a political opinion that flew in the face of the people in power. It’s a memory piece, and even though I didn’t experience it or anything like it, I love when a film is so well-realized that I feel now like I share that memory. That’s what a film can be for an artist... a memory or a thought or a dream, completely personal, that you somehow capture and are then able to share. Watching this community come together as the Brazilian team advances through the World Cup, game by game, you can’t help but get caught up in it. Every other difference falls aside as people cheer for their heroes. Watching people the last few weeks set aside their cynicism for a few minutes so they could cheer Michael Phelps and his record-breaking accomplishments, I totally identified with the way this film unfolds.

I don’t know. Somewhere along the way, I think this film got confused. I don’t agree with the thesis that all critics are merely hecklers in comedy clubs, that they are equivalent in terms of intent or merit. I think making that equation sort of derails anything good that the first part of this film manages to do. It starts fairly interesting, looking at what it’s like to be heckled and the various ways that people deal with hecklers. I think the idea of going to a comedy club and intentionally trying to fuck up someone’s act is a strange one, and I’ve never understood it. Some comics get such a reputation that people feel compelled to try. They’re convinced that they’re helping the comic, giving him a target for some of his best material. Sam Kinison got heckled by guys who really wanted to get blasted full-force, for example. But the second half of the film is mainly director Michael Addis and star Jamie Kennedy trying to paint all of criticism as the most extreme examples of the negative. Look, guys, sometimes critics are assholes. Absolutely. Sometimes they rip on things simply because everyone else is, or to make other critics laugh, or just because it’s easy. Absolutely. No doubt. I’ve written about that over the years here, because it’s always weird when you see it happening. But including the infamous Uwe Boll boxing match, like it’s some kind of wish fulfillment for all filmmakers... when it’s not. It’s one douchebag stacking the deck and beating up three out of shape nerds because he’s a terrible filmmaker and he’s been called out on it. It’s not impressive. It’s not revenge. It’s just pathetic. Addis is a hard-working TV guy, and he’s good at what he does, but I’m not a fan of this one. I just think it makes this facile jump from one idea to another, and the second idea doesn’t work for me. It’s not that I think critics are beyond criticism, either. It’s just that this film doesn’t earn the connection it tries to make. I don’t think what it says is true, and a documentary can’t fail any more directly than that.

I think this was released as part of a Burt Lancaster box set. It’s one of the thousands of programmers made during the heyday of the studio system that vanished into near-obscurity. Basically, the only thing a movie like this has going for it is the charisma of the star, and Lancaster’s got it in spades. This is a South Seas adventure movie that hinges on the use of coconut meat as currency. Seriously. That whole film is about Lancaster trying to corer the market on coconut meat trading, and somehow scoring some hot ass and becoming a king along the way. Director Byron Haskin knows how to make these genre conventions feel fun and fresh, but it is a cliché from start to finish. It’s a gorgeous Technicolor transfer, and as always, Warner tricked out the disc with a cartoon, a newsreel, and more. For added entertainment, every single time Lancaster speaks to a woman in the film, try to imitate his voice and add, “Because I’m gonna fuck you” to each line of dialogue. Might as well, since that’s obviously what he’s saying anyway.

My parents were in town last week to celebrate my son’s baptism, and one of the films we watched on BluRay was this Sony Pictures Classics release. I picked it because it was something I hadn’t seen yet, and they like Pierce Brosnan from his Bond stint. A little bit Hitchcock, a little bit Highsmith, a dash of MAD MEN, and what you’ve got is this dry little cocktail about marital dissatisfaction and potential murder. It’s a chamber piece with just a few players, and Chris Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Patricia Clarkson, and Brosnan all do wonderful work. You can tell that they’re enjoying the material, savoring each twist of the knife. Ira Sachs is turning into one of the industry’s quiet killers, a guy who is underrated. FORTY SHADES OF BLUE was also pretty damn good, and yet I don’t really hear people bringing him up as one of the directors to pay attention to. Whatever he’s working on next, consider me interested. And regarding the BluRay presentation... one of the reasons I wanted to watch only BluRay films with my folks was to see if they could tell any difference. With this film, they were both a little startled at the clarity. “Is that animated?” my mom asked a few times. They’ve got a hi-def set, but they haven’t bought a BluRay player yet. I think now, having seen this and a few other titles, they may at least be considering it.

DIRTY HARRY (BluRay) RAMBO (BluRay) These were two of the other films they watched, and DIRTY HARRY is a film my dad’s seen many, many times before. I wanted to use that as an example of something that he could be able to compare to what he was familiar with. With RAMBO, they missed it in the theater, and seeing it on BluRay, they were duly impressed by what they described as the “3D” presentation of it. The colors, the clarity... they were absolutely impressed. Lionsgate has jumped into BluRay in a big way, and they’ve got fairly high standards in terms of mastering for sound and picture. RAMBO looks spectacular, as crisp and colorful as anything I own. I know I never wrapped up my series comparing the films in these franchises. Are you even remotely shocked?

MAN ON WIRE (screening) SEX DRIVE (screening) WHILE SHE WAS OUT (screening) I.O.U.S.A. (screening) APPALOOSA (screening) I saw screenings for all four of these, plus the upcoming WHILE SHE WAS OUT, a film starring Kim Basinger. I’ll have full reviews of all of them at the appropriate times, but I can tell you that there’s not a bad one in the bunch. SEX DRIVE is surprisingly consistent, funny all the way through. MAN ON WIRE is one of the year’s real accomplishments, beautiful and strange and hard to shake. WHILE SHE WAS OUT is a tough-minded little thriller that marks a promising debut for a writer/director. I.O.U.S.A. pissed me off, but not because it’s a bad film. And finally, APPALOOSA... well, that one just plain kicks some ass. More on that soon. For now, I’m out. I’ve been nursing a rotten flu for the last few days, with a fever of 105 degrees when I finally walked into an emergency room Tuesday night. I’m on the mend, which means more time to sit and watch a few films while I’m recuperating, which should make for a good column sometime next week.

Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 28, 2008, 7:56 a.m. CST


    by phalaughul

    very interesting you say that, cuz its true, people in a case do bullshit, and throw politics or a life story in the talkback section. Go Mori! you really are quite lucky to see appoloosa, wating to see that myself

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 7:57 a.m. CST

    I.O.U.S.A.? I Owe U Some Ass?

    by Silver Shamrock

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 7:57 a.m. CST

    by the way...

    by phalaughul


  • Aug. 28, 2008, 7:59 a.m. CST

    I know what you mean, Mori.

    by DocPazuzu

    I used to review movies for a couple of newspapers and would marvel at other critics sitting in the dark during press screenings with their pads, pencils and tiny flashlights taking notes. <p> I always preferred letting the movie do its thing to me before committing so much as a word to paper, or even the THOUGHT of a word to paper until after the movie was over. <p> If something funny happened onscreen, I was invariably the only person to chuckle or laugh in the theater. The penlight contingent, I felt, put up an invisible wall between themselves and the movie which meant they weren't watching it like a normal person would. There's no way in hell a film will get a fair shake with that in mind.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 8:07 a.m. CST

    That was a lot of reading.

    by Knuckleduster

    My eyes hurt.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 8:08 a.m. CST

    Appaloosa looks awesome.

    by EyeofPolyphemus

    Ed Harris is the man.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 8:16 a.m. CST

    That Thing You Do.

    by Finding Forrestal

    The director's cut also contains a subplot about Hanks' character being gay. Very strange. Great movie though.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 8:27 a.m. CST

    The Hunt For Red October is a fucking classic.

    by Finding Forrestal

    Seriously one of my favorite films of all time. The BluRay release almost has me convinced to take the plunge into HD. I already own the shitty original DVD as well as the slightly improved version from 2003, so I might as well add this to my collection as I'm sure McTiernan could use the money. Hopefully, when he gets out of jail (or has he already been released?) he'll make the career comeback I know he's capable of. I have my fingers crossed...

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 8:39 a.m. CST

    Well, I know I can't see...

    by KillerTomato

    Man On Wire, if even the poster is that vertiginous. I wonder how many people are going to see that thinking he might go splat? (Yes, I'm well aware he's still alive.)

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 8:40 a.m. CST

    Thanks for this, Mori.

    by Fawst

    It's always a pleasure reading your columns, and the longer ones are a special treat.<br><br>You're absolutely right about Baldwin and McT. Don't get me wrong, I think that Patriot Games is a fantastic film. Not quite on the level of greatness that HFRO was, but close enough to not really matter. Hunt was one of the first truly "adult" (and by adult, I mean absolutely mature) films I saw in the theater. I didn't "get it" back then, and it hurt. I knew that beyond the "oh cool, submarines!" moments, there was a great story, but I just didn't have the worldly knowledge to understand it. Funny how you can grow up in an era (end of the Cold War) and really have no concept of what's going on around you. At any rate, I knew that one day I would be able to understand the damn thing and love it even more. And that day eventually came, probably only a couple years later. And it was fantastic. I've seen it dozens (literally, I used to watch it every other day, if not daily, for a few months a couple years back) of times, and that was when I was blown away by how clear the DVD transfer was at the time. Can't wait to get this on BR.<br><br>I.O.U.S.A. is, I'm guessing, either a documentary or a docu-drama about the National Debt. Yah, that will piss me off.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 8:50 a.m. CST

    Jesus Mori!

    by Marxeffect

    I honestly don't think I could cope with digesting all those movies in 1 week! Especially if its ones you haven't seen before. A tip of the hat to you sir.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 8:55 a.m. CST

    "where’s-the-third-act? ending"

    by half vader

    Exactly my reaction to Rogue as well in its initial TB! Good fun flick and all but just missing a couple of story beats at the end to make it actually satisfying. The last scene comes up and you're all like, "that's IT?!".

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 9:04 a.m. CST

    Straight Time

    by skimn

    Saw that in the theater in the '70s (yup, I'm aging myself), and fell for Theresa Russell from that film. Look at Hoffman's output from The Graduate through to Tootsie, to see an actor rarely make a mistep.<p>And it's interesting that your line-up of Hoffman, DeNiro, Pacino and Nicholson have all become paycheck actors..Hackman is probably the only actor I recall from that period that went out with grace, and Eastwood defines his mastery behind the camera.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 9:15 a.m. CST

    Amazon links

    by Gelogurte

    Hey, Mori! Why don't you put the links to Amazon like Harry does in his column? I didn't even know that MARRIED LIFE was out in blu-ray... but I sure will buy it now. So why shouldn't AICN make a quick buck? Just a sugestion. Loved the column. And I know it's hard for you to keep up with this kind of article but... keep it up. And yes, I too think Quint is the man!

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 9:16 a.m. CST

    Why does direct to DVD have to alwyas be for shit...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...movies? I have a dream. In that dream direct to DVD can be used sort of the way the Literary Fiction division is used in opportunity to take a chance on worthy material with a limited budget. It could work a bit like the way HBO became a safe haven for a while for talented writers, actors, and directors who wanted to make interesting work outside of the bullshit summer tentpole movie pressures. Right now of course stuff like that would just get lost in the flood of releases, so some small outfit would have to carve out a little niche...become known for cool stuff. People around here keep talking about a DARK TOWER film...I think that would suck as a big studio thing...I'd rather see that lower budget...five or ten or fifteen films...take risks and go straight to DVD. Besides, if it ended up being great you know smaller theaters would start running it...

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 9:16 a.m. CST

    brilliant column

    by NedNederlander

    thanks for this, amazing to see how many movies you've got through in just a week, how do you find time to do all the other stuff??, the writing, the family, washing, eating... much respect. and i hope this column can continue.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 9:23 a.m. CST


    by Crow3711

    I really want to hear more about this one. Ed Harris and Viggo in a Western sounds pretty solid to me, and I'm glad to hear Mori really liked it, makes me excited. Also, nice work on the That Thing You Do praise, that movie is one-derful (yikes) and its nice to hear some praise for some of these gems that may have bee forgotten. Great article.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 9:37 a.m. CST

    Ed Harris

    by kwisatzhaderach

    is the man. His performance in The Abyss is sensational. Can't wait for Appaloosa.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 9:40 a.m. CST

    What was your excuse...

    by xavier masterson

    for missing all those self imposed deadlines before you were a distracted father of two? We kid because we love, mori.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 9:46 a.m. CST

    Nice column.

    by Darkman

    Though I liked both films, I agree with you about PENELOPE and MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY. <br><br> The cast did a good job carrying PENELOPE and I think it was because of them (mainly Ricci, Dinklage and O'Hara) that I liked it more than I should've. <br><br> MISS PETTIGREW was, now that I think of it, pretty tension-free, but the two leads were fantastic (honestly, it was Adams who enticed me to see the film in the first place).

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Best Thing on this Site in 4ever.

    by lagomorph

    That was great. No pretensions of being a full review. The side story and personal stuff, mixed in to the comments without being glaring mood shifts. Holy shit you watcha lot of movies. When do you have time to write them!?

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 10:02 a.m. CST

    Burn Notice

    by lagomorph

    Completely worth the space on the Tivo. Better to watch it week by week than in one go. Its definitely built that way.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 10:05 a.m. CST


    by skimn

    I know what you mean. Movies like The Last Seduction and Red Rock West are prime examples. Direct to video is the drive-in-B-movie dumping grounds nowadays.<p>I noticed that Midnight Meat Train was playing in the discount second run theaters for its first run. Maybe thats an alternative.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 10:25 a.m. CST


    by skimn

    I would say possibly Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt are amassing an impressive list of work, but no one with the undeniable magic those actors had. There is a wide array of actors from that period that would be hard to match nowadays..Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Robert Redford, Charles Bronson....and on and on.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 10:42 a.m. CST

    “Is that animated?”

    by Sith Witch

    I don't know that's a good response to a live-action film. If the clarity's so crisp that what should be live-action looks like a cartoon, then what has the home theatre dream come to?

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 10:45 a.m. CST

    Nice write up

    by Turd Furgeson

    Love it Mori. This is the exact amount of commentary on each film. I didn't get bored or have an ADD moment and skip ahead. Kept my attention and gave me some cool stuff to put on my Q. I've been trying to find a way to see I.O.U.S.A so i'm way fucking jealous you saw it. That movie is going to be huge.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 10:54 a.m. CST

    Sith Witch

    by skimn

    It could be the picture set up. Most retailers will display their flat screens at the dynamic picture setting for maximum contrast, sharpness and color, which provides a picture that "pops" but may be a bit much for home viewing. Mom and Pop may be using the factory presets. The picture can be tweaked for a more filmlike quality.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 11:20 a.m. CST

    Encough with the excuses

    by zacdilone

    Just write. You know, I suck at writing emails to friends. But I learned a long time ago that they don't want my once-yearly emails to start off with a litany about why I can't find time to write them. That just makes them feel even more distant. All they want is some news and a moment of connection. By starting off articles with excuses about why there aren't more articles, AICN writers distance themselves even more from the rabble. Just give us some news, reviews, and a moment of connection.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 11:25 a.m. CST

    I'm coming out...

    by The Ringwraith a That Thing You Do lover! I always thought I was alone in feeling it was a wonderfully-made film. One thing I think Mori should have mentioned is that TTYD is rated G. Its completely inoffensive, wholesome entertainment and yet it never feels phoney. Its genuinely entertaining for people of all ages. Thats an impressive balancing act from Hanks as a writer and director. And That Thing You Do is just a fabulous was written by Adam Schlesinger who also wrote "Pop! Goes My Heart" in Music and Lyrics.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 11:47 a.m. CST

    I'm going to need the Cliff Notes version

    by CherryValance

    Dude, I can't read all of that. Seriously I looked at the pictures and skipped to the parts that looked interesting. I didn't realize there was a director's cut of THAT THING YOU DO! I'll have to check it out since I loved the movie when it came out. (The song's stuck in my head just thinking about it.) I also loved MISS PETTIGREW. It reminded me of THE MARRYING MAN somehow. Same vibe.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 11:51 a.m. CST

    Woah, looking forward to Appaloosa

    by eggart

    Westerns are a dearly missed genre.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 11:57 a.m. CST

    by somethingcool

    For the love of God, just stick to one column. It's getting way too complicated. Stick to this column, please!!!!!!!!!!

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:02 p.m. CST

    good idea for a column

    by davidaq

    hope to see it again before the year is out :)

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:03 p.m. CST

    I look forward to your Appaloosa review, Mori

    by O_Goncho

    I'm very excited for that one.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:04 p.m. CST

    Now even more so

    by O_Goncho

    Thanks to your one-sentence review there.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:06 p.m. CST

    Appaloosa looks interesting...

    by BizarroJerry

    but I very often dislike Zellweger. Ed, Viggo and Jeremy are cool, though. Plus, I feel like I know Viggo after seeing his willy in Eastern Promises.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:07 p.m. CST

    Tom Hanks

    by the beef

    Yeah, one feature. He's done a lot of TV work though on HBO series'. Maybe that's what he prefers.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:12 p.m. CST


    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    Fucking 'A, Moriarty. I'm glad to see that you had a chance to catch it. It's an incredible film; one that left me shaking my head during the film and afterwards.<P>And I haven't heard one thing about APPALOOSA but it sounds like it could be quite the surprise. Hope to see your thoughts on it soon.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:15 p.m. CST

    Mori - any news on THE ROAD?

    by Mr. Nice Gaius

    A couple of weeks ago, USA Today had a small write-up and some great photographs. I'm hoping we get some good scoops soon.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:16 p.m. CST


    by the beef

    I'd agree about Gosling. Gordon-Levitt has potential, but I don't think he's really landed that "role" yet to put his face out there as a must-see actor. Ledger was gaining big notariety, and Gyllenhaal also has potential. It's hard to compare this generation of actors w/ the the guys who came along in the late 60s and 70s, because the films themselves nowadays just aren't nearly as interesting, especially towards creating complex characterizations for actors to work with. Are Dicaprio and Damon still considered "young" actors?

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:24 p.m. CST


    by MacTard420

    How is an Ed Harris directed Western not a big deal? How come i didn't hear of this movie until now!?!?

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Man on a Wire

    by nyj_et

    I'm so pissed that this isn't playing anywhere near me. Makes me wish I never left The City.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:38 p.m. CST

    DiCaprio and Damon...hmmmmm

    by skimn

    Someone, I think it was bringingsexyback, brought up a Towering Inferno remake, and as much as I dislike remakes, this could be one that works because the original is pretty cheesy with all the soap operatics. DiCaprio and Damon in the Newman and McQueen roles..??? They are in their mid to late thirties aren't they?

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:39 p.m. CST

    Re: Towering Inferno

    by skimn

    ..oh and find a role for Robert Downey Jr somewhere.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:40 p.m. CST


    by the beef

    Why does nobody consider Hackman when discussing the best actors from the late 60s and 70s? The man has successfully and highly convincingly portrayed characters from deeply feared (The French Connection, Unforgiven) to deeply full of fear and troubled (The Conversation) and just about everything in between. He can be a powerful leader (Hoosiers, Crimson Tide) or a follower (Bonnie and Clyde). He can be a genius (Superman), or pathetic (The Royal Tenenbaums, Get Shorty). He can even be downright hysterical (Heartbreakers). I realize he hasn't had the major "important" roles of the time like the others have, but he's retained his consistency and I think has mattered much longer than any of the unarguable greats of his time, minus Nicholson.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 12:56 p.m. CST

    Regarding "Sex Drive"...

    by Lenny Nero Clark Duke any good in it? I went to school with him and I kind of thought he was a bit of a douche, so I've avoided his work so far.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 1:14 p.m. CST

    Heroes 2 Should Be Cut Some Slack!!

    by What The Duck

    Im sick of people talking like this is the worst season ever. How can u judge a show that wasn't even aloud it's full season? You wanna see a shitty season of a show check out Sarah Conner Chronicles!

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 1:23 p.m. CST

    Good work here Mori..

    by Jonah Echo

    You do a nice job of covering all those films, and I'd love to see you do it as often as the time allows. Had free tickets to see Sex Drive, but found out too late to go. Appaloosa looks good. Glad to hear it is. <P> Can we expect to see these more regularly?

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 1:24 p.m. CST


    by Jonah Echo

    love CJ7. Kung-fu Hustle is still my fave, but this one really shows an understanding of comedy and film that I think it's lightweight slapstick nature belies.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Re: Hackman

    by skimn

    I did mention Hackman as bowing out with grace (I do believe he has retired from acting), instead of the "paycheck" roles that the others have been taking of late.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 1:28 p.m. CST

    assorted thoughts

    by Bloo

    TTYD is a great movie, I enjoyed it first run (was really getting into Fountains of Wayne at that time), it was where I first saw Tom Everett Scott and Steve Zahn, Tom Hanks was great, just a fun movie, and am very interested in seeing the Directors Cut (which I have heard about for awhile)<P>Gene Hackman really should be counted in that great panathon of actors, as for young actors under 40, the problem is as soon as they show some promise the studios start throwing money at them to be in big budget movies (see JGL in GI Joe) and we also don't have the talent of writers and directors that the 70s had, who do we have that compares to 70's Coppola, Speilberg, Lucas, Kubrick, Shrader, Scorecese, Bogdonavich, etc

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 1:33 p.m. CST

    Please write about "Payday". Give it exposure.

    by JackRabbitSlim

    For my money, greatest fictional film about musicians on the road. Wipes the sawdust-covered floor of the honkytonks he played in with "Almost Famous"'s M.O.R. candyass.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 1:35 p.m. CST

    The young Redford and Newman of our day

    by half vader

    DiCaprio and Pitt (Crowe and Norton are more Richard Burton & Brando types I reckon). <p> Let the sledging begin!

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 1:39 p.m. CST

    "Apaloosa". Cover art by the guys who were inspired by

    by half vader

    the guys who brought you the cover art for Deadwood". <p> Hey, they actually say "from the studio that brought you" with a straight face, so that can't be too far behind. Veggo even looks a bit like Olyphant there - although Harris looks like Eastwood...

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 2:07 p.m. CST

    Brad Pitt = Robert Redford

    by skimn

    Both are/were accused of being "pretty boy" actors coasting on their good looks, despite roles that prove their acting range. Yea, I can buy that analogy.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 2:19 p.m. CST


    by Gorgomel

    this film is the pinnacle of Sean Connery’s career

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 2:23 p.m. CST

    So much better than Quint

    by Craig C

    Of the movies Moriarty reviewed, and I saw, I agree with him 100%. Its nice having someone on this site who I can trust to give an honest and accurate review. KEEP IT UP MORIARTY, YOU ARE A BADASS

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 2:31 p.m. CST


    by skimn

    with a dash of MacGyver..would love to see his cell phone bills, he's rigging a couple every episode.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 2:31 p.m. CST


    by MaxTheSilent

    I've been waiting for this movie for a dog's age. I read the Robert B. Parker novel in one sitting and knew that it was virtually cinema-ready. Hopefully it doesn't get buried. And face it, Ed harris and Viggo Mortensen were born to star in a bad-ass western like this.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 2:37 p.m. CST

    See, the thing about Bill Maher...

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    And his film "Religous" is that I know how much he HATES conservative Christians. Now I can understand how conservative Christians, especially the really nutty ones, can annoy you. But when you go out to make a movie that shows the folly of the very people you HATE, it sort defeats any purpose of trying to be open minded. It also tends to paint very broad strokes with a wide brush, and mislabel all people who might believe a certain thing. <P>I will be interested to see "Religous" and Mori's comment that the radicals will want Maher's head makes me all the more interested, but yet it also depresses me because it will once again bring out the screamers. There are those who HATE conservative Christians, and then there are the radical whack jobs who HATE everyone who doesn't think like them, and then there is the %90 of us left over who are told that we must fall into one of the above camps. What if I don't wanna? What if I want to not perscribe to a single religion, but also accept and live peacefully with those who take every word the Bible says literally. Or what if I decide to be one of those people, do I have to lose my rights to be part of the conversation, or does my word not count because now I am one of "those" people. <P> Remember MLK's dreams about racial harmony? I think the same sentiment need be said for socio-religous-political harmoney. One day the screamers and the smug arrogant jerks will stop forcing the public to choose a side. One day the Limbaughs and the Hannity's will no longer have an audience, and the Olbermann's and Moore's will be forced to shut up with no one left to argue with. This is the kind of stuff I would love to see. <P>Jeez, don't know how I landed there, but well there you go, that's my attempt to not shoot poo allover this talk back Mori. Even if I did go off on one small comment you made.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 2:37 p.m. CST

    I love film, but it's not the singular greatest art form.

    by rbatty024

    The greatest art form is arguably epic poetry, or possibly the novel. Film is pretty cool though. <p> I agree that Quint's column is fantastic, although there were some might fine reviews to be had in this article as well.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 2:37 p.m. CST

    you sat through the entire Season 2 of Heroes?

    by Rupee88

    when you didn't like the first season? I don't really get that...I bet you fast-forwarded an awful lot.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 2:37 p.m. CST

    Don't forget

    by skimn

    Gabrielle Anwar's never looked hotter. Damn straight this shows as easy as rum + your favorite mixer.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 2:59 p.m. CST

    Thanks, Man

    by Sgt.Steiner

    Thanks, Mori. Columns like this are why I love Ain't It Cool. Informative, witty, incisive, and full of the enthusiasm only a true cinephile could bring. Props.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 3:19 p.m. CST

    "And I’m not sure ever quite nail it down."

    by landosystem

    That is wrong sentence make.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 3:22 p.m. CST

    Saw Appaloosa trailer at Tropic Thunder...

    by MCVamp

    Christ that looks good. I imagine Clooney thinks he's Newman to Pitt's Redford. He's wrong, because even Clooney's best roles aren't only about as convincing as Newman is in a toga on the label for his Caesar Salad dressing. But I imagine Clooney thinks it.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 3:29 p.m. CST

    Surwise and more

    by psychedelic

    Surfwise and another documentary called Crazy Love are probably the best portraits of insanity I’ve seen this year. Surfwise stuck with me for quite a while after seeing it. I’m being literal when I say how Paskowitz raised his kids was insane. In simplest terms, insanity is the inability to differentiate between reality and fantasy. By not allowing his children education and normal social interaction, Paskowitz denied the reality of our complicated society in which his kids would inevitably live as adults. Letting the ruling utopian fantasy in his head guide his actions as a parent was madness. It was unfathomably selfish and he exerted behavioral and mental control equal to a cult. What’s insidious about Paskowitz is his initial broad ideals are appealing. I agree with a fair amount of what he said. His commitment to their execution is astounding and ultimately bonkers. Doug Pray is one of the best documentarians working today. His work deserves more attention.<p>I agree Jack Nicholson has done a lot of “paycheck” movies in the past decade. However, I thought his performance along with Morgan Freeman’s were superb in The Bucket List. I was surprised how much I liked it. It’s Rob Reiner best flick in a long time. Another good Nicholson performance in this decade is in The Pledge. Try another in an overlooked movie from the 90s called Blood and Wine.<p>I know people endlessly whine, bitch, moan, complain, and criticize this but I’d like it if you put Amazon links on the posters for the films. I earmark movies of interest on my list at Amazon, not necessarily to buy, but so I don’t forget the titles later. I can already hear the barrage of vitriol calling me an Amazon plant for saying this. Uuuuugh.<p>Good column, Mori. And yes, Quint is The Man for AMAD.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 3:37 p.m. CST

    Great column Mori

    by ED2D2

    Enjoyed the column. Kudos man!

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 3:39 p.m. CST

    Amazing G

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    And I understand that, all hatred and bigotry will never go away completely. But one of the biggest reasons, I see this hatred continuing is because of this constant need for people to "pick a side" and then blindly defend everyone "on their side" no matter what. <P>I really think people believe that its better to defend the racist on their side, because "at least he doesn't believe what those other people believe." And everyone does it! Many Democrats will blindly support other Democrats, no matter their missteps and issues, because to criticize them would be to give in to the evil Republicans. <P>And Christians will follow whoever the latest big preacher/politician/personality is no matter what they do, because they invoke the name of their lord. <P> We have taken on this mafioso mentality where we believe that we must "never go against the family" and if we do we must do it behind closed doors so that the other side doesn't hear and use that armor against us. Everyone has to be labeled, everyone must say they are this or that. This goes beyond politics and religion into sports (I'm a Sox fan, therefore I hate you, the Yankees fan, even though I don't know you) to hobbies (I surf Wind'N'Sea, you don't live within 5 miles of my beach, I will now key your car and slash your tires, this beach is MINE!) to random pop culture crap (I'm a Trekky, I therefore must hate Star Wars, and I also like Iron Man, therefore Dark Knight sucks and all DC properties are crap!). <P>It is socially acceptable to take on the same immature monikers of being "labeled" like we did in High School with nerds and jocks. We seem to revel in this aspect of choosing sides. And just because you dislike the "jocks" for their arrogant ways and their cheap shots on the nerds, makes you no better than they are when you stereotype all people who play sports because "they have it coming." <P>Look, I understand that human existence is nothing but the history of "picking sides" but we have taken it to the extreme, and have made acceptable for those, whose side was picked on last, to lash out at the most populated side because, well, "I was picked on by one of them, therefore all of them deserve to be punished for that one's past actions."<P>Okay, stepping down from the soap box, any takers, anyone want to jump up there and challenge me, go ahead, I don't mind, that's why we chat.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 3:50 p.m. CST


    by skimn

    I think that Nicholson's performance in About Schmidt was the best I've seen of his work lately. That should have been the award winner, not for his OCD performance.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 3:59 p.m. CST


    by psychedelic

    He was very good in About Schmidt though I thought the movie as a whole was okay and a bit overrated. What's compelling is how he puts on a benign polite exterior yet is scarcastic, uncensored, and bitter inside. The differnce between the two really works. Generally, The Academy goes for the big showy stuff rather than subtlety so he got the nod for As Good As It Gets, not that it was a bad performance. And so Hollywood turns.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 5:46 p.m. CST

    fuck you Moriarty you arrogant cunt!!


    get off your high horse you fucking pretentious hack. dont act like you stay here because you like it. you stare here because you cant live on the 20 grand a year you make with your shit fucking scripts. made for tv anthology horror, wow real fucking impressive you dumb bastard. fuck this column. Fuck you. and fuck anything you have ever conceived. you are worthless, dull, and a pain in my fucking ass. from now on this cock tease only reads quint columns. at least he doesnt take himself so fucking serious. fucking prick. GROW UP U FUCKING MAN CHILD!

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Stallone on the Rambo cover

    by Prossor

    looks like a butch middle-aged lesbian, the combo between the photoshop touchups and his naturally screwed face, the roids, the face lift, just makes a bad result.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 5:57 p.m. CST

    I have to imagine that Cock Tease

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    Screams at billboards as he drives along the freeway...<P>"FUCK YOU advertisements, how dare you impede my vision, everytime I look at you, you are there, GAHHHH, so irritating!" <P>Once home, Cock Tease turns on the TV, as always, and then goes off on the programming <P>GODDAMMIT TV! You fucking suck! Your programming is terrible, be more funny, or interesting, stop sucking so badly!" <P>It really is pretty sad.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 7:54 p.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    ... it's sort of amazing from an anthroplogical standpoint, isn't it? Watching someone read something like today's column and then respond with that sort of animal rage that has no connection to anything. It's odd how personal some people take the mere act of writing about movies. Well played, Senor Cock Tease. Well played, indeed.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 8:04 p.m. CST

    Brevity . . .

    by Deagol21

    is the name of the game, Mori. I've been reading AICN since 2001, and I have to say - your columns definitely take first prize for excess verbiage. I understand your love for film, I really do. I love movies, and I love reading people's opinions on movies. However, I do NOT enjoy reading an entire thesis on a film. You often complain about not having enough time to write about everything you want. And you talk about how amazed you are that Quint is able to crank out a piece every day. But there's one big difference between your columns and his - about 15 pages worth of text! Keep it short and sweet, and you'll soon find you have a lot more time to write about all the things you want to. I enjoy your opinions, and even agree with them much of the time, but I have to say I often skip your columns if I see that it's going to take me an hour to get through it. I'd much rather read Massawyrm or Capone's reviews. Jeez, even Harry's pieces are significantly shorter than your are most of the time. Maybe it's the editor in me talking (I work as an editor for a publishing company) but try cutting your text down by about half (minimum) and you'll find yourself with more time, and more ambition to stick to a regular schedule.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 8:12 p.m. CST

    get well soon

    by utfluke

    105 degree fever is not to be f*cked with. Get better soon.

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 10:07 p.m. CST

    Great Column, man

    by T 1000 xp professional

    I swear a spirit of inspiration and good will came over me as I read that little talkback portion of your piece. You're Damn Right this is all for the love of movies and I do stress that people don't forget that as they bite their malicious tongues on this site. Yes Quint is an animal, but so CAN YOU!... I've been seeing that year my parents went on vacation flick at blockbuster but have been holding out, now I got the green light. Verrry excited 'bout Appaloosa now. Anywho, goohd shtuff and I'll be looking forward to future journal incarnations :)

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 10:16 p.m. CST

    about Cock Tease..

    by T 1000 xp professional

    just ignore him

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 10:55 p.m. CST

    Keep this comin, Mori...

    by Somerichs

    It's a great companion piece to Harry's DVD review [to which Harry has been surprisingly (and uncharacteristically?) devoted of late] and Quint's movie a day. I like that this column hits not only on DVDs, but current and future releases, as well. Hell, I say throw in the kitchen sink and give us a little of everything "cool" you're viewing or hearing: books, music, TV. As another poster noted, keep it brief and it'll be no problem. I've slowly but surely learned that in my own work (writing, but technical/business-y). Anyway, I'll be on the lookout and hope to see these on a regular basis. Rock on, my brother!

  • Aug. 28, 2008, 11:58 p.m. CST

    "this silly little flibbertigibbet"

    by half vader

    Mori, great column, but that's about the gayest thing you've ever written. At least you don't force us to picture a 300 pound man "giggling like a schoolgirl" like Harry does though.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 12:58 a.m. CST

    Half Vader...

    by drew mcweeny

    ... oh, spare me. That's a perfectly good word that precisely describes a certain type of girl. I've met many of them, and I can think of no better way to evoke that particular image.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 1:26 a.m. CST

    but honestly...

    by La Frog

    ...CJ7 wasn't good. Period. Stephen Chow is cool, but this one was just pure crap. And very derivative to boot. You know it. no one wants to admit it because Chow is cool. but this one is crap.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 2:38 a.m. CST

    You don't like heores??

    by deanbarry

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 2:40 a.m. CST

    For shame..

    by deanbarry

    damn enter button! Blu-ray can make a movie something spectacular. Almost like seeing it for the first time. i watched batman begins and rambo on blu-ray, and my god. it was like i was sseeing them for the first time. Lush with colour, vibrant imagery that leapt of the screen. the sound enveloping you. totally a WOW experience and i am soooooooo glad i invested in a player and wodescreen lcd tv.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 2:58 a.m. CST

    Mori, here's a reason to like Heroes

    by BadMrWonka

    at least for me: I've never READ a comic book. there are people out there who are getting this stuff for the first time and loving it. and there are people in the talkbacks (chrth, profl ikamono, ororo, napoleon park) all of whom know a shit ton more about comics than me, and still love it.<p>I think the first season was great because of the pacing, the cliffhangers that were unusually harsh and vivid, and Hiro. 2nd season fucked up the cliffhangers (let them last a commercial instead of a week) and stuck Hiro in nonsense land with a drunk white dude. I still have hopes for season 3, except I think the loss of Bryan Fuller was the catalyst for its mediocrity.<p>at any rate. Heroes at least deserves points for bringing this to prime time TV, and doing so with such success, yeah?

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 3:08 a.m. CST

    Not heard of Appallooosia...loosa...

    by WhinyNegativeBitch

    Why not? Good cast. Western. Strange. It looks like something right up my alley. Rouge is a good demonstration for Sam Worthington. When I heard he was cast in Avatar, I sort of choked. He seemed like a sub Edgerton, and the Edgertons are are pretty fucking sub as it is. But hes definately got charisma. Its a shame they needed a yank to "sell" the film, because hes got more leading man swagger than poor old Vartan.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 3:15 a.m. CST

    Levitt and Gosling are both fantastic actors...

    by WhinyNegativeBitch

    ...But sadly the films just aren't there. It also doesn't help that actors like DiCaprio (not sledging him, hes undeniably talented) is constantly miscast is roles. Its this habbit of needing to fill the A List slot in a production instead of casting who simply works the best that sees it all fall apart. Then again, When Gosling or Levitt can get a role thats the equal of a Travis Bickle in a major hollywood film, I'm sure we'll all be impressed. As it is, they seem to come along once in a blue moon, and I'm sure Bardem and Lewis have dibs on them. Even if its written for a 13 year old girl.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 5:42 a.m. CST

    Yes, fanboys, HEROES sucks!

    by MaxTheSilent

    Face it. When they run out of pre-existing comic book storylines to rip off the show will fade into obscurity, despite your paedophiliac fantasies about Hayden Panty-air.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 7:50 a.m. CST

    Rent Prom Night.

    by WhinyNegativeBitch

    Its a must rent just for the most self deluded, embarassing making of in cinematic history. The film itself is truly wretched. Ever wondered what a horror film made by a 12 year old fat girl whose entire audio visual diet was supplied by MTV would look like? I will give it props for being the most lazily idiotic and incompetent screenplay of the year to go into production, and I must admit that I hold some respect for anyone who can actually create a film that has negative story. Literally nothing happens beyond "Crazy man stabs some people while girls debate and/or bitch about who will be prom queen, then a policeman shoots the crazy man." No, seriously. Moriarty was also correct in that it looks exactly like an episode of the hills. But heres the kicker, the making of features some television douchebags comparing their film (by far the worst of all the recent horror remakes), a film whose entire special effects budget consists of a bottle of ketchup, to Deliverence, Seven and Silence Of The Lambs. Yes, a film which closes with a montage of some dudes in their 30's poorly imitating the ending of footloose.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 9:58 a.m. CST

    The reason I like Heroes...

    by Lenny Nero BECAUSE it's basically a compilation of dozens of disparate ideas that have been found before in comic book after comic book, finally put up on the screen -- albeit the small screen -- for mass consumption. Is that really the best way to make anything? Not really, but I'm glad it exists. <p>I really don't see much difference in what it cribs in comparison to the unoriginal -- yet the original -- Matrix. It's just not as well put together.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Straight Time is Top 5 Hoffman

    by BenBraddock

    Should definitely be seen if you haven't already done so. It's a typical 70s gem!

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Moriarty, about Cock Tease

    by hst666

    I believe he wrote that in response to your comments about Talkback above - I do not think they were his genuine sentiment. I was tempted to write something puerile and pissy as an ironic "haha, I am going to do the very thing Moriarty rationally criticized above, just to be a dick." But that's my sense of humor.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 11:32 a.m. CST

    Also, Mo Better Blues is Soike Lee's best film IMHO

    by hst666

    Great movie.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 11:32 a.m. CST

    "Spike" - really need an edit feature.

    by hst666

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 12:45 p.m. CST

    Hey, hey, Mori, I was just yanking your chain!

    by half vader

    Shoulda put a ;) at the end, obviously. For God's sake, give us dumb basic features like italics, and maybe things will get slightly better. <p> You're right - it's a perfectly good word. And yet, very gay. I keed because I love.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 12:57 p.m. CST

    Oh and Mori, regarding Baptism

    by half vader

    You're really cool with it? It's the only sacrament I just can't come at, as it's built on the idea (well, more than that) that our children are born fundamentally flawed, with a black mark, and I just can't buy it. I know it ain't gonna happen, but they should drop it and make Confirmation Baptism instead. I'd like to hear your view of it (although I may inadvertantly kill the whole thread if you answer!). <p> My kids are one 8, and two 5-year-olds. Not having had them baptised, I am NOT popular with my Mum. Having said that, she sees elements of marriage as misogynistic insults, rather than stilted remnants of pagan rituals incorporated as familiar practices to draft said pagans...

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 3:24 p.m. CST

    you watched all that in one week?

    by Bouncy X

    wow, i realize this is sorta your job and passion and stuff but man, didnt you ever get tired of constantly having to watch something? did you ever have a chance to do anything else, like sleep or eat? :P

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 3:27 p.m. CST

    Half Vader...

    by drew mcweeny

    ... I did it for my wife. I am not religious. I don't normally write about either politics or religion on this site, but with my RELIGULOUS review coming next week, I'm building myself an Iron Man Mark One outfit and getting ready to get my hands a little dirty...

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 6:59 p.m. CST


    by chook chutney

    Great to read a bit about it here on AICN. I saw it at the beginning of the summer and loved the shit out of it.

  • Aug. 29, 2008, 11:32 p.m. CST

    Burn Notice....

    by wyvern

    Thanks for noticing the show mori.I only watching this past summer and really enjoyed it.I am hoping for some kind of season finale talkback on here cause this show is worthy of it.It's such a fun show to not get one would piss me off to eggsalad's dumbassness.ok...not that bad but would piss me off severly

  • Aug. 30, 2008, 12:53 a.m. CST

    Mori's Iron Man mark 1 suit

    by half vader

    Except WE get to flame YOU, right? ;)

  • Aug. 30, 2008, 12:54 a.m. CST


    by half vader

    I tried, but PARAGRAPHS man, for the love of God!

  • Aug. 30, 2008, 4:05 p.m. CST

    A younger generation

    by DougMcKenzie

    I agree in some regards to the lack of a real good generation of American actors to take over. Although at least De Niro, Pacino, Hoffman were able to hand off to Depp, Pitt, Crowe, Norton, MacGregor and Smith. Most of my favourite younger actors: Gosling, MacAvoy, Bana, Bale, Ledger (RIP), aren't American but they can decidely play American roles. Guys like Caine and Connery never really lost their accents when they came over so they were always viewed as foreigners. The ones I listed will probably be viewed by today's audience as if they always were Americans as they can do American accents convincingly and do so freely.

  • Aug. 30, 2008, 5:08 p.m. CST

    You lazy bastard!!!


    Write up full thoughts on APPALOOSA and MAN ON WIRE - Or I no sign your check! I feel da cheated! giggle

  • Aug. 30, 2008, 9:21 p.m. CST

    Man on Wire

    by Larry of Arabia

    It's been playing here (Stamford, CT) for a few weeks. It truly is a beautiful accomplishment. I'm a children's librarian and recommend the great picture book The Man who Walked Between the Towers to you. It's almost as magical as the film. The archival footage was breathtaking on the big screen, even though I'm sure it was never intended for the medium. The amazing thing is that the movie and the book both don't use Sept. 11 for easy sentiment. They rightly trust that the story of Petit is enough to carry you through the film. I hope it finds a wide audience on DVD, and gets played on huge sets.

  • Aug. 30, 2008, 9:34 p.m. CST

    There are still great actors out there.

    by Larry of Arabia

    I'd put up Denzel Washington an Daniel Day-Lewis up against any of them. What's changed is the way we treat the actors in the films. Back then we saw the actors almost only on film. One year we saw a down and out grifter, the next a guy playing a woman. Now we listen to commentaries on DVD and learn how they made these characters. Entertainment Tonight visits the sets for a behind the scenes look at the making of the films. The mystery of the process has been ripped away, never to return. In 1975 Daniel Plainview would have jumped out of the screen fully alive, and we'd be seeing him for the first time when we entered the theater. Now before we even see the film we know who the character is, what he will be doing, and how the actor and director collaborated to create him. Then we wait for the DVD commentary and see even more of the process. Ratso Rizzo was just THERE. And it was the same guy who played Benjamin Braddock!!! Amazing. Today we would have know what was happening and how Hoffman was getting into the character with behind the scenes pictures and set visits. It's a different movie world, still great, but less mysterious.

  • Aug. 31, 2008, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Play-doh: The Movie

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

  • Aug. 31, 2008, 7:20 p.m. CST

    Larry, are you kidding?

    by half vader

    With all respect man, surely all we have now is a high-tech retread of the 30s and 40s when creating a cult of celebrity was just as strong as it is now. <p> You're only thinking as far back as the Seventies? Come ON man! What's changed is that things have changed BACK. It's just the net and tv and magazines rather than magazines and the radio and posters and carefully sculpted photographs. Sure things are more front-loaded now but that's clutching at straws.

  • Sept. 1, 2008, midnight CST


    by drew mcweeny

    ... as soon as APALOOSA screens in Toronto, I can publish, and MAN ON WIRE is coming with a few others later tonight.

  • Sept. 1, 2008, 12:58 p.m. CST

    Steven Dorff is about as threatening as a yeast infection

    by ObamabinBiden08

  • Sept. 1, 2008, 12:59 p.m. CST

    Straight Time rules- M.Emmitt is great!!!

    by ObamabinBiden08

  • Sept. 1, 2008, 1 p.m. CST

    Spike is a really angry negro- what's his problem??

    by ObamabinBiden08

  • Sept. 2, 2008, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Shame about Baldwin's choice

    by Knugen

    I always thought the studio shafted him. I like Ford but Baldwin was in another league. And as far as appeasing the religious and "can't we all get along" - that is exactly what has put the West in the situation it finds itself in today - with Islam and Christianity competing over which fucked up belief will be dragging us back to the Dark Age.