Reviews

You may have decided to watch Chris Kentis' Open Water because you just found out some terrible news and were looking for something majorly depressing in which to wallow.  Perhaps someone close to you died suddenly, and you're still reeling from the shock and pain.  It may be, perhaps, that you wanted to see what all the buzz was about, as the film was touted as the micro-budget blockbuster successor to 1999's The Blair Witch Project.  Well, in any case, if the prospect of 79 minutes of watching two people who are really, truly screwed appeals to you, then Open Water is just what the scuba instructor ordered, and then totally forgot about.

I had not seen Alexander (2004) until last night. The Oliver Stone epic had, simply, just not made it to my radar screen. I like Stone's films in general. JFK was great at shaking up The ManTM : anything that provokes that much vitriol from the right wing has gotta be good. Nixon was similarly an interesting character study into arguably the most criminal president in history, okay maybe second. The People vs. Larry Flynt (which Stone produced) was as irreverent a look at free speech as Natural Born Killers was at media hype and sensationalism. Then there's Alexander, starring the bizarrely cast Colin Farrell as the eponymous, vaguely homosexual Macedonian conqueror, who seems conflicted between being a nice guy and the pillaging marauder urged by his army.

The girls whip out another piece of expensive, bimbo-culture cheesecake in this incomprehensible sequel to whatever the last one was about.  Whoever directed this, no, I didn't bother to research it, should have their head examined for early signs of Altzheimers after agreeing to this project.  But we all know why he or she (like it was a she) did it, don't we?  Cameron Diaz in a swimsuit.  What else is there to say?  Certainly not much if you're the writer of this thing.

charliechocolateThere is no mistaking Tim Burton's rendition of Roald Dahl's book for the Gene Wilder vehicle of the early 1970s. The Oompah-Loompahs have rhythm, the narrative is cohesive, and Wonka (Johnny Depp) is just plain chocolate-covered crazy. And all three are great reasons to see it.

The story is familiar to movie buffs and Dahl fans alike: a poor boy, against all odds finds a coveted "Wonka Golden Ticket," which wins him a seat alongside an assortment of bad mannered caricatures for a tour of Wonka's mysterious "chocolate factory." Add to this a bevy of beloved Burton trademarks -- over-the-top characters, oddly gothic machinery, improbable sets -- and you've almost got the setting for a neo-classic. But you're still missing Willy.

ratraceIf you've been looking for a movie that combines the comic talents of John Cleese, Jon Lovitz, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green and Dave Thomas, then you need to look somewhere other than Rat Race, the 2001 race-to-video release from the infamous, malformed Jerry Zucker.

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