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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

The visuals by Tim Burton are suitably lavish but it’s missing the heart of the 1971 film. I never thought I’d say a movie worked despite Johnny Depp’s performance, but that’s the case here. It was far too off. Whereas Gene Wilder had the dichotomy of warmth and madness, Depp was just the kooky Michael Jackson-esque weirdo in a bobbed haircut (I thought Neverland had been found). Perhaps the added Michael Jackson vibe makes the premise a lot darker, what with luring children into a chocolate factory. Charlie is a really boring character lacking definition beyond his “goodness.” Once they get to the factory he?s basically wallpaper, watching his peers fall one by one to their vices. I’m not sold on a Wonka back-story. I don?t need to know why he is as he is; I need no tormented childhood and daddy issues. This new film has more polish but the old film has more togetherness and lasting power.

Nate’s Grade: B-

Big Fish (2003)

Big Fish (2003)

Premise: Estranged son Will (Billy Crudup) travels back home in an effort to know his ailing father Edward Bloom (Albert Finney; Ewan McGregor as the younger version). Will hopes to learn the truth behind a man who spent a lifetime spinning extravagant tall tales.

Results: Despite a shaky first half, Big Fish becomes a surprisingly elegant romance matched by director Tim Burtion’’s visual whimsy. McGregor’’s shining big-grinned optimism is charming. Not to be confused with the similar but too mawkish Forrest Gump, Burton’’s father-son meditation will have you quite choked up at its moving climax. Fair warning to those with father issues, you may want to steer clear from Big Fish. You know who you are.

Nate’’s Grade: B+

Go (1999)

The sophomore outing of director Doug Liman, the man who put the swinger in Swingers baby, is far from any slump – no it’s more like an achievement. Liman is a man that knows what he wants and an excellent visual artist. Go is a spinning tour-de-force joyride of energetic fun. The movie is down right infectious. It stays in your system for many days, no weeks, after viewing. Consult your physician for proper treatment.

Born in the shadow of Pulp Fiction with the disjointed narrative structure, interlocking plots, retelling of events through different perspectives, and out-of-place editing, Go is the first movie to deserve having the comparisons to Tarantino’s masterpiece of blood and violence. It’s like a child of Fiction, with teens as the main stars and doing some awfully idiotic things mainly because… they’re teenagers. The story of Go is bursting to the seams with clever and embraceable characters, witty and hilarious dialogue, and enough plot twists to keep any viewer frothing at the mouth for more. Again, consult your physician.

The movie reminds me in a way as a American Graffitti or Fast Times at Ridgemont High for the fresh stable load of young talent displayed. Everyone fits nicely and performs excellently, like Timothy Olyphant’s devilishly charming and dangerous turn as a drug dealer, and Taye Diggs who helped get Stella’s groove back and is now the too cool for words friend of a grocery clerk on their trip to Vegas which turns into a comedy of errors. But the standout amongst all the talent is that little delectable Canadian bundle of joy known as Sarah Polley. Playing one of the chief protagonists, she is fascinating and compelling. She takes the role and shines the brightest in a movie filled with equally bright stars. I look forward to seeing what she does in the future.

Set against the L.A. rave scene Go tells the story circling around a 24-hour period of tantric sex, drug deals, a police sting, a lap dance, gay soap stars, and good ole’ chew-able aspirin. The movie is driven by an awesome soundtrack of techno and rock that seems to act like the narrator of our little tale. Go is brisk, breathless, rigorously hip and smart. Finally an INTELLIGENT teen movie. Too bad not too many teens went to see it at the theaters judging from box office scores. I guess they all wanted to see Ryan Phillipe’s ass one more time in Cruel Intentions. But Go is a fascinating trip you’ll want to take over and over and wish the sun would never come back up. Do not pass Go.

Nate’s Grade: A

This movie also revisited and analyzed in the article, “1999: The Greatest Year in Film? A Review Re-View.”

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