Birth (2004)

Operatic There’s a scene in this that will be a feature of film school classes for a long time to come. Nicole is an uneven actress, only sometimes rising to the world class of Kate and Cate and the young Julianne. The smallest part of this is the process of inhabiting a character, rare enough… Continue reading Birth (2004)

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Comedic Self-reference You can read from others about the basic nature of this, and how widely it is admired and enjoyed. I myself admire and enjoy it. It is a movie about movies. Its something between a “Scary Movie” style parody and a “Charlie’s Angel’s” … What’s called an homage but is really more of… Continue reading Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Beyond the Sea (2004)

Keyser’s Desire Like it or not, watching film is an accretive process: each film provides a context and more for the next. One of those threads of continuity is the unfortunate fact that we see the same faces in many presumably different roles, as if there weren’t as many talented actors as there are roles.… Continue reading Beyond the Sea (2004)

Being Julia (2004)

Unaware This is a well made movie. Such things are rare, and when they come around, we celebrate them. Many extend this celebration to Bening, who is similarly competent. But something is ajar. The project is based on a familiar device: we see a film (really a play) which has a character who is an… Continue reading Being Julia (2004)

Before Sunset (2004)

Reluctance Finally, Linklater does something with his talent. His strength in the past has been to shape the form of his films to match the subject. At least that’s been true when the subject is the tentativeness of existence. He’s done well enough in the past, but since his characters were aimless his projects inherited… Continue reading Before Sunset (2004)

The Aviator (2004)

Three Characters We all live in our own movies, and particularly like movies of people who do so more literally. Here are three in one film: Martin Scorsese: My regular readers know that I have been very critical of his films. Sure, they are crafted well enough, but the world he created was not one… Continue reading The Aviator (2004)

Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)

Nap Time I’m pretty sensitive to the social implications of black films. Some of us worked pretty hard to provide means for black voices to speak to their own (and other) issues and audiences. Gone are the days where a white establishment could exploit bug-eyed, stupid, violent stereotypes of blacks. Now blacks do it to… Continue reading Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)

Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

Production Design They took an absolutely ordinary film — even dreary in places — and wrapped it in two things that are lovely. The first is a lovely production design. Pastel watercolours that are evocative of Verne’s abstract nature. I have idea who to credit for this, but the mundane story provides interstices of grace… Continue reading Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Unanchored This is a simple exercise in humour by going out of bounds. Well, this has energy at least. It does have what I call folding, being a show about a show and show business. But that element is mundane , of the “Zoolander” variety. I’ve been studying bounds recently. You might call them norms… Continue reading Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)

Balled Up You know, you just can’t have it two ways. Either you make a movie deliberately campy, or you make one straight-on creepy. Either way, it is a hard thing to do and seemingly impossible for studios to handle, That’s because they want as many appealing elements as possible: give us some humour in… Continue reading Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)