Clichéd and historically suspect. At least it looks great on Blu-ray.
These films were released in 2006
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
In Hollywood, success comes with its own peculiar brand of curses, most notably the expectation that one will follow that success with a sequel that will match, if not vastly exceed, the creative and commercial accomplishments of the original. Since any successful film is a matter of artistic and technical alchemy outside the control and understanding of us mere mortals, it’s little surprise that most sequels end up being pale, stunted, mutated offspring of the first movie. Continue reading
A Good Year
Suffice it to say I am not a regular consumer of romantic comedies. Most of them seem to offer all the intellectual stimulation of week-old Twinkies. For a movie in this genre to even catch my attention, it has to offer something unique. In this case, director Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe are anything but your typical “RomCom” tag team, so their participation alone is at least worthy of taking note.
Blood Diamond is a political thriller with a conscience that veers close to being slick commercial exploitation of a serious subject matter. It never crosses that line but other flaws keep it from being perfect, namely an overly complicated ending that seems to drag out the second half of the movie. The film’s virtues, however, more than compensate.
We Are Marshall
Sports films about plucky collegiate or high school underdogs overcoming the odds have become a significant sub-genre in recent years. Dating back to Hoosiers, recent examples include Glory Road and Remember the Titans. The success of that last film was the impetus for the recent spasm of similar films. The most recent member of the roster, We Are Marshall, certainly doesn’t disgrace the team, but neither does it stand out from the crowd. Eschewing flash for sound fundamentals, this movie keeps punching for four quarters.
World Trade Center
Okay, admit it. When you heard that Oliver Stone was going to make a movie about the events of September 11, 2001, a lot of you rolled your eyes and thought, “Oh, my God, what’s he going to do now?” Was he going to have Richard Nixon rising from the grave to plant explosives in the twin towers? How were the Grassy Knoll gunmen who killed John Kennedy involved? And how did it all tie back to the Vietnam War?
Surprise. Continue reading
Little Miss Sunshine
In a strange way, Little Miss Sunshine is the film that The Royal Tenenbaums could have been. Both movies focus on extended families who are dysfunctional to a comic extreme. But while the rich but unhappy family in Wes Anderson’s film often just seemed annoyingly arch, little Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) and her thoroughly middle-class Albuquerque household are sympathetic, full-blooded characters.
Dreamgirls took a long time to make the trip from Broadway to the screen, so long that when this film appeared I had all but forgotten that it had first been a play. Big and glossy, this movie is very successful at entertaining you, even if it does seem to play it a little safe at times. The biggest impact of this movie may just be serving notice of arrival of a potent new singing talent.
The most common word used to describe a movie like Miss Potter is “charming,” a word that sometimes raises silent alarm bells with me. The British have another word: “twee.” According to Merriam-Webster, “twee” means “affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint,” and, in order to succeed, a film like this has to walk that dangerously thin line between charm and “twee-ness.” Miss Potter walks it so adroitly, it feels almost effortless.
Guillermo del Toro’s dark tale of Franco’s Spain is either a fantastical allegory for the struggle against oppression or a lyrical testimony to the power of a child’s imagination as an antidote to the horrors of the adult world. The strength of the film is that it works both ways.
Night at the Museum
Mixing comedy with elaborate special effects is a tricky balancing act. Humor requires at least the illusion of spontaneity while the effects have to be planned out to the last second. Sometimes it works just right and you get a movie like Ghostbusters, while other times you end up with a mess like Spielberg’s 1941. Night at the Museum falls somewhere between. It manages to amuse without possessing anything resembling originality.
Perhaps a better title for this movie would The Martyrdom of Saint Robert. This movie spends most of its two hours genuflecting before the memory of JFK’s little brother. While it’s not hard to believe that Bobby Kennedy was the most interesting person at the Ambassador Hotel on the night of the California primary, this movie would have you believe that the Senator was the only interesting person present that night.