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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Fahrenheit 9/11 - ****

Originally reviewed 7/22/04
As I watched this documentary, I thought, "What a devastating piece of filmmaking." How right the jury was Cannes to award this film the Palme D'Or. As I left the theater, I was really upset and disturbed. The film had touched a nerve.

I'd read Michael Moore's book, Dude, where's my country? which has a lot of the same information as this film. But there's something about seeing a mother crying over the death of her child. There's something about seeing President Bush shaking hands with Saudi friends and making pathetic political comments to his "base." There's something about seeing dead Iraqi babies being thrown into pickup trucks. There's something about seeing American forces break into an Iraqi house in the middle of the night, scaring the hell out of old women.

And then there are the revelations:

  • That Bush's first cousin, John Ellis, a Fox News consultant, called the 2000 Presidential Election for Bush after all the other networks had called it for Gore.
  • That the Saudis have $860 billion invested in the U.S. economy (the GDP of Spain).
  • That American companies like Halliburton and The Carlyle Group profited greatly from the Iraqi war.
  • That Bush authorized flights for the Bin Laden family back to Saudi Arabia when all commercial air transportation was shut down. The list goes on and on.

Fahrenheit 9/11 takes a complicated subject and strips away the layers of complexity: All these wars, all these connections with Bin Laden and the Saudis, all this deception, it's really all about money. And as this epiphany washed over me, I was reminded of Network, the most prescient film ever made (it predicted reality TV). There's a scene in the movie where the CEO of the network, Jensen, proselytizes to the Howard Beale character:

"There are no nations! There are no peoples! ... There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars... It is the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet! That is the natural order of things today!... There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT and T and Dupont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today."

I hope everyone in America goes to see this film. There are a lot of people who are still asleep, who need to wake up to the reality of what this administration has done with its power--to the world and to the people in America.

One of my neighbors recently came over and said that Fahrenheit 9/11 looked interesting, but that he thought Moore didn't know what he's talking about. I handed over my copy of Dude, where's my country, and showed him the footnotes throughout the first chapter. He asked if he could borrow the book. Now I'm going to recommend that he go see this film.
You should see it, too.

Note - If you're unsure of the facts of this movie, check out this link: "Fahrenheit 9/11 Facts"

Postscript - 11/3/13

In 2011, I met Michael Moore at my work. Read my blog about this encounter.


posted by AndyO @ 5:09 PM   0 comments

The Girl Next Door - *

Originally reviewed 9/13/04

A sad excuse for a teen movie in the tradition of American Pie. The writers and director desperately wanted to remake Risky Business with this film and failed completely. The prostitutes of Risky Business have been replaced by porn stars; Guido "the killer pimp" has been replaced by Kelly "the porn star manager" (actually the best thing about the film is Timothy Olyphant's over-the-top performance).

Stay away from this one, kids.


posted by AndyO @ 4:51 PM   0 comments

Ladder 49 - * * * *

Originally reviewed 10/13/04

My next door neighbor is an ex-fireman, and he said this is the most realistic firefighter movie ever made. But it was the story that really grabbed me -- not just the danger of being a firefighter, although there's plenty of that, but the human story. What's it like to lose close friends? What's it like to have the worry of your wife hanging over you? I'm going to go out on a limb and say this has Oscar possibilities.

Postscript - 11/3/13

OK, so no Oscar nominations for Ladder 49 in 2004. But it did get a few nominations for other awards!


posted by AndyO @ 4:47 PM   0 comments

The Terminal - * *

Originally reviewed 12/7/04

I was pretty disappointed by this movie. It all seemed so unbelievable. Sure, it was amusing, but I expect a lot more out of Spielberg. It's almost as if he let someone else direct and put his name on it. This movie proves the dictum that you can never make a good movie out of a bad script (even if you have one of the best directors).

This might have made a good short film, but the high concept idea of a guy living in an airport because the United States doesn't recognize his country seems a bit ludicrous.

posted by AndyO @ 4:43 PM   0 comments

National Treasure - * * *

Originally reviewed 11/26/04

I went into National Treasure thinking it would be one of those awful Jerry Bruckheimer-produced films (Con-Air comes to mind). But it was actually a smart, engaging mystery that reminded me of the book The Da Vinci Code.

Another thing that helped with the positive vibe was that I saw this film in a full house on the biggest screen at the theater. There's an obvious fascination with a secret history (also one of the main reasons The Da Vinci Code has been so popular). What was really interesting was the audience of this film: I saw kids, teenagers, and people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. I think this film will be one of those unexpected hits. It ain't art; but it is a good story

posted by AndyO @ 4:42 PM   0 comments

The Abyss (Director's Cut) - * * *

Originally reviewed 11/23/04

James Cameron thinks big. His movie Titanic showed the world how a three-hour movie could not only be engaging, but could also rake in $1.8 billion (worldwide) . But before Titanic, there was The Abyss -- an uneven, imaginative story that came from Cameron's childhood.

I've always been a big fan of this movie. The characters are all interesting; the conflicts are great (although the conflicts seem to pile up a little too much with the Russians). The Cameron love theme is here, as it is in every other movie of his. But the ending just doesn't work. Even with all the restored footage. There's something about the NTIs coming to the surface with Deep Core that just seems cheesy.

posted by AndyO @ 4:40 PM   0 comments

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Ocean's Twelve - * * * 1/2

Originally reviewed 12/16/04

I'd heard some good things about the new Ocean's movie, and I got a chance to go see it with my work today. I wasn't disappointed. Soderbergh's camera work is always interesting, but never too distracting. The characters are interesting to watch, although some aren't quite as interesting as they were in Ocean's Eleven. And Catherine Zeta-Jones is one of those rare actresses that dominates any scene she's in.

Then there's the sequence in the movie that suddenly breaks into the realm of metafiction (e.g. showing the audience they're watching a movie and calling attention to it). The way it's handled is very tricky, but it works. By the time they're done with this sequence, you feel like you've walked into a house of mirrors. I'd never seen a movie do what Ocean's Twelve did with this sequence, and for me it was worth the price of admission.

posted by AndyO @ 7:27 PM   0 comments