Archive for the ‘2004’ category

Ray (Hackford, 2004)



Just re-watched the last half of this very popular 2004 Ray Charles biopic.  Jamie Foxx, as usual, delivers a good performance as Charles.  My problem with the film as with other Academy favorite biopics of recent years is that if you slap a big star on a popular figure you tend to devolve to basic convention in the film making, which happens here.  It’s a by the book bio (no pun intended) pic.  I would rather have seen it as an actual biography in this case.  The editing corrodes to an exact timeframe in the protagonist’s life.  Ray Charles had a serious problem with Heroin well into his late thirties and for some reason the filmmakers decided to focus on this only.  How original.  Charles had a great future of philanthropy, composing and performing but the filmmakers decided to ignore his last 40 years.

1 1/2* / *****

5 Quick Pics



The Girlfriend Experience (Soderberg, 2009)

LOVE the way this film looks and I found the script very funny.  At the end the amateurish acting doesn’t distract.

*** 1/2 / *****


Drag Me to Hell (Raimi, 2009)

The scariest film I’ve seen in years.  Alison Lohman charms as usual and the kitsch works throughout.

**** / *****

In the Heat of the Night (Jewison, 1967)

Satisfying in the way Rod Steiger’s sheriff slowly develops a vague appreciation of Poiter’s Mr. Tibbs without being overly preachy in the slightest way.  Instilled with a wry sense of humor and stands up well to today’s better pictures concerning race relations.

**** 1/2 / *****


Body of Lies (Scott, 2008)

Even though I had to watch it almost three times to get most details I didn’t mind it.  Very cool treatise on modern day warfare.

*** 1/2 / *****

Downfall (Hirschbiegel, 2004)

Had to check it out after all the parody.  Bruno Ganz is a god of acting in a pretty straight forward run of the mill thriller.

*** / *****

Hotel Rwanda (Terry George, 2004)



Director Terry George (In the Name of the Father, Reservation Road) tries to cram way too much content and detail into this account of such horrible events.  By doing so, and by plugging in way too many scenes with a not up for the task Sophie Okonedo (as Tatiana Rusesabagina), the enormity of the disaster is lost to melodrama.  And what a ridiculous turn by Nick Nolte – I didn’t buy that at all.  This is meant to be the Schindler’s List of the Rwandan genocide but it lacks both the technical and emotional achievement of Spielberg’s film.  Don Cheadle (Paul Rusesabagina) should have been given more of a chance to deliver the Oscar-worthy performance he is surely capable of.

* 1/2  /  *****

Top Five Films of 2004


This was a very good year for the film business.



The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci)


melinda_and_melinda_2004_1Melinda and Melinda (Woody Allen)


anchomraAnchorman:  The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McKay)


aviator_wideweb__430x305The Aviator (Martin Scorcese)


eternalEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)

Honorable Mentions:

jamie_foxx4Collateral (Michael Mann)

napoleondynamite01Napoleon Dynamite (Jared Hess)

photo_04_hiresDawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder)

Melinda and Melinda (Woody Allen, 2004)



I’m of the mind that Woody Allen has never had a “dry” spell.  And to remind me of this fact all I have to do is re-watch Melinda and Melinda.  For those of you who haven’t seen it Allen revisits one of his favorite devices of telling two tales, one comedic and one tragic, in the same film.  Most famously this was done in Crimes and Misdemeanors, one of my favorite films of all time.  In Melinda we get both the comedy and the drama via a startling performance by Radha Mitchell but the most brilliant thing about this film, as was the case in Crimes, is that both the seriousness and the silliness goes on in both tales.  The female performances in Melinda are downright fantastic – especially those of Chloe (why can’t she look so ravishing elsewhere?) Sevigny, Brooke (the U.S. Senator’s kidnapped daughter in The Silence of the Lambs, almost unrecognizable here) Smith and Amanda Peet.  Will Ferrell and Woody Allen should work together again as Ferrell’s Hobie channeled Allen’s slapstick comedic tendencies beautifully.  The film drags a bit at the end of its 90 or so minutes but the ride is so worth it.  One of the best endings in all of film.

**** / *****