Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Dashing Through the Movies

The much vaunted "Russian vampire movie" that broke all the Russian box office records and that generated a lot of buzz among movie reviewers. I don't think I have ever watched another Russian movie and know very little about the culture. I have a feeling that there were some contextual things that totally got by us although you didn't really need much context. Quick summary ... "a la Matrix" but with more blood and scissors (euwww). A bit more description: long ago the forces of dark and light forged a truce to keep the balance between good and evil so that all would not perish in the fight. This resulted in the Night Watch (the light keeping watch) and the Day Watch (the dark keeping watch). Each is policing the other side to make sure the truce is kept. Into this, legend tells us (of course), that there will come one who will be greater than the others and who will choose the dark. And off we go, quite stylishly, with lots of driving rock soundtrack, and an apocalyptic fight between good and evil. Rose liked it better than we did (did I mention the blood? and the scissors?). Not the best of the genre but far from being the worst.

(HC rating: *** Good despite lack of flubber)

Edward R. Murrow and his producer take on Joseph McCarthy at the height of the witch hunts to stand up for truth, justice, and the American Way. George Clooney writes, directs, and acts. *yawn* This was beautifully acted, photographed, etc. Now, if only there had been the slightest bit of dramatic tension to engage us in the story it would have been a four star movie. All three of us felt as if we had been watching a documentary, except then we'd possibly have been given more information. We watched without ever feeling the slightest doubt that Murrow would get his way and that justice would prevail. This was without us having any idea of how Murrow fit into the actual story of McCarthy's witch hunt so we couldn't even blame foreknowledge as a spoiler.

(HC rating: ** More boring than church. All you did was yak, yak, yak)

A lonely, depressed girl who sells gloves at Saks Fifth Avenue must choose in love between the rich Steve Martin and the loser alternative met in the laundromat. Although we felt sure that she'd wind up with laundromat loser (can you tell I can't remember his name? We saw this a while back.) we couldn't see how that would happen. Steve Martin's character was so much more desirable seeming. As it turns out this movie was exactly what I read in one critic's summary ... predictable overall but darned if you can predict the little twists along the way.

It wasn't the romantic comedy that the trailers would lead you to believe but I found it quite realistic in the ways that lonely people make choices, both good and bad, and in the lies that they tell themselves along the way. This put me strongly in mind of Lost in Translation in it's understated quality. We also appreciated the fact that it illustrates what Tom often tells the girls, "You can't manage love."

Let me forestall any objections in the comments ... yes, these people all hop into bed quickly and often and without being married. Not desirable to be sure, but also definitely the way that many people live these days. It also serves as its own cautionary tale in terms of the complications that ensue due to the intimacy that comes too soon and for the wrong reasons.

WARNING: as is so often lamentably the case, the PG-13 rating is not adequate. Rose watched this with us and we felt slightly squeamish a couple of times. She's 16. I wouldn't want my 13-year-old to see this.

(HC rating: Nine thumbs up!)

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