February 11th, 2006


a man who has nothing is invicible

t's become apparent to me that I will not be able to keep reviewing DVD's in such detail at the pace in which I watch them. So beginning with this installment, things may appear with a small write-up, or only a few words and thoughts. It's been a couple of weeks since I wrote one of these, so bear with me as I try to recall everything I've watched.

Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003)

Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Ruben Blades, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Mickey Rourke, Enrique Iglesias
Of note: score composed by Robert Rodriguez

Rodriguez returns a decade later to update his tale of the gun toting mariachi and makes it a trilogy. In a big nod to Sergio Leone's trilogy-finish The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Blades, Depp, and Dafoe respectively), Rodriguez creates a sprawling and epic film with some abolutely gorgeous photography. The film suffers as a result. The various subplots don't entertwine as nicely as Rodriguez intended and the entire storyline becomes a victim of its own attempted complexity. Technically, it's a stunning achievement. It was one of the first feature films shot entirely on high-definition digital video, and while no one talks about the actual price-tag of this film as they did with his previous two efforts, his cost-cutting methodology is readily apparent in the DVD bonus featurettes and commentary. True to form, the entire movie was shot in a frenzied 7 weeks on location in Mexico and the star-studded supporting cast worked on a per diem basis. For instance Depp was only on-set for 8 days. If you like films with an eye for the actual photography, this film is the best of the bunch. Note to self: Rent Leone's Dollars trilogy, it's been far too long since you've seen Fistfull of Dollars and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and you're really not sure if you've seen A Few Dollars More.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)

Director: Doug Limon
Cast: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn

I love Vince Vaughn. Not that I had high hopes for this movie, but sadly he is the only redeeming thing in it. It's still not worth the monumental waste of two hours spent watching this turd.

The Fog (2005)

Director: Rupert Wainwright
Cast: mostly nobodies except for maybe Selma Blair
Of note: score composed by Graeme Revell, remake of John Carpenter's 1980 film of the same name

You know a movie is bad when you find yourself yelling at the screen, "Dumb!" at various points.

The Cave (2005)

Director: Bruce Hunt
Cast: nobody worth mentioning except maybe the lovely Piper Perabo

Considerably more compelling than The Fog. I was surprised to learn in the bonus features that most of the underwater cave shots were filmed on-location and not a Hollywood studio. Interesting in that respect, otherwise, fairly run-of-the-mill. I became particularly interested when Piper Perabo changed into those shorts. There were lots of gratuitous shots from below while she scaled a rock wall. This movie was better when it was in outer space and called Alien.

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Director: Roger Corman
Cast: no one of note except a bit part by Jack Nicholson

I had seen the musical remake from the 80's but never the original. I was surprised by how darkly funny and engaging this movie was. Definitely worth your time and effort to see. I found it packaged as a double feature with another Corman/Nicholson combination called Velocity which I've yet to watch.

Mr. Deeds (2002)

Director: Steven Brill
Cast: Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, Peter Gallagher, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro

A remake of a 1936 Frank Capra film starring Gary Cooper. Typical Sandler plot-line about a nice, sensitive guy in way over his head but comes out smelling like a rose because he's such a "good guy". Lacks a lot of the passive-aggressive anger (Big Daddy, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, etc) which a lot of his roles usually display, which is refreshing. Not great and mildly funny, kinda like Sandler.

The Farmer's Wife (1928)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

An early silent comedy by the man who would become synonymous with suspense. Hitchcock displayed his gifts as a director early. Unlike many films of the era, which largely had static shots, Hitchcock employs a variety of panned scenes. Not only from left to right, but vertically and diagonally. Most interesting is one scene where the camera very obviously moves, following someone around a room suggesting it was hand-held, which must've been quite a feat in those days. The story, while trite, is highly entertaining as a recent widower sets about looking for a new wife.