Monthly Archives: July 2006

Superman Returns (2006)

The first words out of my mouth when I left the theater were "Wow. Did that drag."

There really isn’t any excuse for Superman Returns to last 154 minutes. It would have been a far better movie if it was kept at or under 2 hours.

As stunning as Superman’s powers are, a lot of the mayhem and destruction happening in Metropolis could have picked up the pace quite a bit.

I like big falling objects in my summer action films as the next guy, but there were times I wanted the big bangs to hurry up.

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The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

This movie is the kind I couldn’t have dragged anyone to see. This movie is the kind to which I wouldn’t have been dragged myself.

So how did I end up spending a July 4 holiday watching The Devil Wears Prada? Blame Meryl Streep.

I’m no Meryl Streep devotee by any leap of the imagination, but the idea of her playing an intimidating, icy power figure seemed too tempting to pass up.

Under less accomplished hands, the character of Miranada Priestly could come off as a flat bogeywoman. But Streep can make even Miranada’s brand of sociopathic leadership feel human. Which she does beautifully.

The rest of the story is pretty predictable to write.

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Mirrormask (2005)

I love the art of Dave McKean. It’s like taking drugs without having to take drugs.

McKean created the bizzare, imaginative covers of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman for its entire 75-issue run. He’s done CD covers, posters and more recently, film.

Mirrormask is McKean’s first feature-length work, and of course, his good friend Gaiman wrote the script.

Although Gaiman scored a homerun with The Sandman, his other works seems to be hit and miss. I wasn’t fond of Stardust, and the novelization of Neverwhere didn’t make me curious about how it turned out as a television series.

And crossover is such tricky terrain. Just because McKean and Gaiman created some incredible comics — go read Violent Cases and Signal to Noise right now — it doesn’t necessarily mean that vision translates in other media.

My fears were pretty much unfounded.

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Casshern (2004)

I guess I’m not getting those 2 hours and 16 minutes of my life back.

I was warned. I read pretty bad reviews about this movie, but I dove in and soldiered through all of it. Curiosity didn’t just kill the cat — it ran it over with a steamroller.

Casshern is the debut feature film from director Kiriya Kazuaki, or Mr. Utada Hikaru. Kiriya directed a number of his pop star wife’s videos, even before they two got married.

Those videos featured incredibly lush, detailed visual effects, and their cinematic appeal is a definite draw. While Kiriya has a terrific eye, his storytelling needs a lot of work.

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The American President (1995)

I watched The American President on regular cable a few years back, after having been indoctrined in The West Wing fandom. Aaron Sorkin wrote The American President before creating The West Wing.

So I felt a sense of deja vu catching up on Sorkin’s previous work.

You can tell he was hashing out ideas which would eventually make it into the series. The presidents of both the film and the TV show at one point pose the question, "What’s the value of a proportional response?"

In essence, The American President is The West Wing as a romantic comedy.

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Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

However much I’m a fan of Miyazaki Hayao, I knew Howl’s Moving Castle wouldn’t win the Academy Award for best animated film in 2006.

I liked Howl’s Moving Castle, but it was not Spirited Away. Never mind the fact Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit was the box office darling of October 2005.

I wanted to see Wallace and Gromit eventually, but I wanted to wait till it became a five-day rental at the video store. My curiosity wasn’t strong enough to view it as a new release.

Blame Chicken Run for that.

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

I had wanted to catch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in the theatres, but the movie had finished its run by the time I had free time to catch it. So I waited till it was released on DVD.

I was interested by the idea of Val Kilmer playing a gay private investigator. There was a lot of press about how the sexuality of his character, Gay Perry, was treated matter-of-factly. Kilmer himself said in an interview how he wanted to make a series of movies with Robert Downey Jr. along the lines of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Jette certainly likes it. The Advocate warned gays overly sensitive to smart-ass dialogue they may not like it.

I guess that must not make me overly sensitive — I liked it because it’s so smart ass.

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