Kill Bill: Vol. 1

I had a really hard time deciding whether to give this one three stars or four. On the one hand, I thought it was a good movie, with many interesting aspects. On the other hand, the near-ubiquitous violence was a little unsettling. But I'll give it four, because I think that it was a very good movie. It's clear that Tarantino was drawing from Japan's anime tradition--in fact, part of the movie is animated--so the inclusion of violence that is over the top even for a Tarantino film makes a certain amount of sense. What I think is one of Tarantino's true gifts is what he does with music. The soundtracks of his films are always really interesting. Anyway, it was an interesting visual experience with intriguing characters and amazing music. I'd say that it was a perfect example of its genre (whatever that is), except that I've never particularly cared for Uma Thurman.

Viewed: 10/30/2003 | Released: 10/9/2003 | Score: A

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Intolerable Cruelty

I should begin by saying that I love the Coen brothers, but if you don't like their other works, you probably won't like this one. And not without reason; the Coen brothers' quirky style is often seen as too much head and not enough heart--the movies can drown in their own cleverness. But I get such a kick out of their films. An adequate comedy will make me smile. A good comedy will make me chuckle under my breath. But very few movies actually make me laugh out loud, and this one did. Clooney's performance was wonderfully quirky, very reminiscent of his work in O Brother, Where Art Thou? and more than good enough to offset Catherine Zeta-Jones' typically shallow portrayal. But what I love most about these films are the bizarre, ridiculous moments, and this film had ones right up there with the dream sequence in The Big Lebowski.

Viewed: 10/11/2003 | Released: 9/29/2003 | Score: A

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Lost in Translation

In a surprising turn of events, Bill Murray decided to ditch his usual "sincere insincerity" style of comedy and make a serious movie. And, perhaps even more surprising, it works. Murray gave an honest, understated performance and managed a believable relationship and good chemistry with co-star Scarlett Johansson. Even more intriguing was the almost schizoid portrayal of Japan, at times manically modern, technological and fast-paced, other times with the tranquil serenity that underlies ancient tradition. So why only two stars? For one thing, the movie was very slow, and while that was necessary due to the way the story was structured, it still dragged. Also, I just didn't understand what the film was trying to say, if anything. So, a good performance but not necessarily a great movie.

Viewed: 10/9/2003 | Released: 8/28/2003 | Score: C

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The Rundown

I have been in the mood to see a movie with explosions in it for some time now. This movie certainly satisfied that craving. I had a lot of fun watching it. Not only was there plenty of action, but the Rock had a surprisingly good sense of humor. There were only a few problems I had with the movie. First, I found some of the editing a little distracting, if still cool to look at. And I also wish that they would either have given us more backstory on the Rock's character or else not have brought it up so much.

Viewed: 10/3/2003 | Released: 9/21/2003 | Score: B

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School of Rock

I like Jack Black, and this is definitely his best movie since High Fidelity. Not only was he hilarious, but neither he nor the director forgot that the story had a heart. And, of course, the kids were really fun to watch, as well as being amazingly talented musicians. One thing: some teachers and/or parents may not love this movie. Even though it does have some good messages in it, the core of rebellion and disdain for academics inherent in the film might put them off.

Viewed: 10/23/2003 | Released: 10/2/2003 | Score: B

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