"Monk: Season 1, Discs 1-2" (2004)
Hmmmm. Well, we'd run out of episodes of The Sopranos and Six Feet Under to rent, and Monk was also supposed to be pretty good. The pilot was clever and engaging, but the subsequent episodes seemed relatively inferior, and more like an old '70s TV show (Charlie's Angels, or whatever. Dunno that I really feel the need to go back and see what else happens.
"Bon Voyage" (2004)
A thoroughly enjoyable French thriller-comedy, set at the brink of the German invasion that led to the establishment of Vichy France. Our hero is a young writer who winds up entangled in a murder, and fleeing Paris ahead of the Germans along with thousands of other refugees. The plot zips along at a quick, quirky pace, with one appealing character after another, plenty of fine acting and subtle, low-key humor. It's not a heavy, artsy film, more like a Gallic version of "Clue," or something along those lines... Gerard Depardieu is in the cast (I think there's actually a stipulation in our trade agreement with France that says he has to be in every French film that comes to America) but the high marks for acting go to Gregori Derangere, the film's hero, who has a multilayered, Noah Wylie-ish schoolboy charm to him. Anyway, this was a fine, fast-paced film... There's no pretense at great artistic depth... this is just a fun, appealing film.
"Starsky & Hutch" (2004)
The movie, that is. I'd prepped by watching some of the old TV episodes first, and while those have far greater actual camp value, this flick was better than I'd expected. Not a whole lot better, but still kinda fun. Just in visual terms, casting Ben Stiller as Starsky was an act of sheer brilliance; Owen Wilson, an actor I find inherently appealing, seems to be sleepwalking his way through yet another role, but he punches his lines well in several scenes, and overall this is a fine, dumb rental movie. Fans of the original series should get a kick out of it. The movie's one major flaw: not using the original, completely kickass score by Lalo Schifrin. Maybe they couldn't get the rights or something.
"Margaret Cho: Cho Revolution" (2004)
It's not as funny as her last couple of concert videos, but, hey, it's still Margaret Cho, and we still love her. Some amazing physical comedy, though: her facial gags are incredible, notably the plastic surgery skit. Yay, Margaret.
What an embarassingly bad, dull horror film. Greg Kinnear stars as a I-yell-all-the-time-because-it's-dramatic dad; Rebecca Romijm-Stamos stars as his I-yell-all-the-time-too wife, who decide to have their dead son cloned after a tragic accident. The cloneboy replacement turns out to be evil, for reasons that are stupid, contrived and nonsensical, as well as painfully obvious to anyone with half a brain, once the film is about a third of the way through. Robert DeNiro is the mad scientist who brews the baby up; he manages, to his credit, to chew a minimum of scenery, right up until the --gasp!-- scary surprise ending. This film is a total waste of time; it's amazing they even released it.
This was okay, not great. Most of the writing seemed pretty flat, and the special effects mostly just sat there onscreen, at least on my TV. Great makeup, some okay Buffy-ish jokes. I never read the original Hellboy comic, so maybe I'm missing some of the insider references or something.
"The Company" (2003)
Robert Altman takes a look at the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, in a thinly veiled parallel to the real company, using the real company name and many of its star dancers in a series of elaborate, elegant dance scenes. Lead actor Neve Campbell co-produced the film and co-wrote the screenplay; she also dances throughout, holding her own with the mystical lifeforms that are quaintly called professional dancers. This film's primary strength is visual: there are several arresting sequences, and the cinematography is richly realized throughout. The script leaves a lot to be desired, though: nothing dramatic really happens in the film, and what plot there is simply fritters away in the second half.. Yeah, I know, I get that an underlaying message of the film is that it is the company, or dance troupe, that matters, and that individual performers come and go... But still... are we really expected to simply not care about any of the characters? What's so great about that?
"Six Feet Under" (Seasons 1 &2)" (2000-2001)
Damn. Now I have to get cable. Oh, well.
"Starsky & Hutch (Season 1, Tape 2)" (1975)
A trip down memory lane.
"I, Robot" (2004)
(At the Shattuck 7 Cinemas, Berkeley)
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