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The Flick Chick

The Flick Chick
Films with titles beginning with "I" and "J"

Hold my hand. King King is stalking me.
Clutch my arm. We're going over that cliff — Oooooooo
Lend me a tissue, my heart is breaking.

Now I'm running. Now I'm crying. Now I'm dancing.
Look — I'm flying.
Here in the dark at the movies . . . with you. Isn't this nice!

I Robot

          With the understanding that speculative fiction (yeah, science fiction, you ignorant dolt!) may not be your cuppa tea, you have to admit that a foray into the not-yet — or the never-to-be — can illuminate the here-and-now.
          In this trendy, action-packed flick, Will Smith, robot-hater, encounters a different style robot: one that can think with its heart, and the results are unsettling. Ultimately this film forces on us the old questions of the world: How do we cope with the wholly unexpected? How should we deal with those who are radically different from ourselves? How far can our own wills reach once we are gone? When should compassion replace caution? Must we make our decisions using the mind or the heart? What constitutes real humanity? Where will we go from here? (2/05)

Identity

     Not your everyday mystery-thriller. Not your everyday mystery-thriller-slasher flick. Not even your everyday mystery-thriller-slasher-psycho flick. Not, certainly a picture you'd kill to see twice — although John Cusack is always worth watching, no matter what film he is playing in. (Both for competence and for cute.) And yet . . . and yet . . . yes, this certainly is a movie you want to see at least once. Just don't ask anybody about it before you go. You don't want to know.
     Nuff said.

Insomnia

And while on the subject of Robin Williams, let's add that the video of this interesting film is also available. If you did not catch it in a theater, it's worth your evening to see it now. Although the picture belongs to Al Pacino's hooded exhaustion, it is the struggle between his and Williams' characters that makes the film what it is. Like so many recent cop-films, the narrative is dark and internal — intent on resolving the moral conflicts of the two main characters — rather than centering on the solution of a plot-story. No question that Pacino is a masterful actor. No question that Robin Williams is a powerful character actor, even though he made his name first in silly comedies and still plays the clown far too often.

An Inconvenient Truth

           Al Gore has produced a deeply interesting — and deeply troubling film. Worth seeing. Worth acting on. (06)

The Interpreter

          You know, Sean Penn has become a great actor. No, not a great AK-tor, or a great STAR, or even a great performer — all those are different categories. Very simply, Penn always becomes a solid, believeable character, appropriate to the content of the film. His slightly pained, slightly homely face becomes the face of a real person whose fate we care about. Just as with Tom Hanks, or Robert Duvall, or Tommy Lee Jones, or even Michael Caine (and of course there are more). When you lay down your hard-earned razzbukniks for a Sean Penn flick, you're assured of getting your money's worth.
            All that having been said, it was also an exciting thriller, with a decent storyline and interesting visuals, including a glimpse of the inner corridors of the UN. Nicole Kidman did some real acting. Far more than presenting an unusual accent, she gave us a solid character. And I found the ending genuinely touching. This one's a winner. (4/05)

In Her Shoes

          Take one irresponsible sister, one over-serious sister, several wiseacre grandmas (one of whom is Shirley McLaine), one improbable plot, some love poetry, and about two closets full of adorably impractical high-heelers, add Cameron Diaz wearing very skimpy clothes and not over-many of them, mix well, and you may come up with a delightful evening. (Oh yes, remember to add some handsome dogs. This season, a romantic comedy requires the same handsome-dog ratio as a weekend in Aspen!)
          And it's very nice to see Shirley McLaine (who is made up to look far older than she probably looks in real life) can still catch a man! (10/05)

In the Bedroom

     I expected a whole lot from this film — after all, how often does Sissy make herself known to us, her adorers? (And of course, she is marvelous. And marvelously beautiful. Goes without saying.) And after all, any film that hinges on the loss of a beloved child is pretty much guaranteed to deliver a terrific emotional wallop. The character of the son is shown in three full dimensions. There is a tiny, added click at the end of the story. Tom Wilkinson's portrayal of the anguished father and husband, was absolutely brilliant.
      But . . .
     Yes, there's that terrible qualification: But the relationship between the parents did not quite ring true to me. I have not read the book, and that emotional chemistry may have been present on the printed page, only to evanesce in the transition from print to film, nevertheless I simply did not hear that perfect chime of reality — the ringingly different note of the silver coin striking the hard surface of the waiting mind. I wanted it to be there, but it was not there.
      Ah well, maybe that's what happens when we expect too much.(3/23/02)

Into the Night

     Caught this one on a recent late-night stayawake. It's a charming runaround thriller from back in 1985 starring a wistful, often tender Jeff Goldblum and a stupifyingly beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer. She gets him into scrape after scrape, affixing him with those pleading baby blues and . . . how could any sane man resist! There's even a very satisfying (though improbable) ending. I'd forgotten how much I liked this the first time I saw it!
      Goldblum is Mr. Supercool, facing down the killers with an almost fey calm. Seeing him in this film makes me wonder why he had no staying power as a romantic lead. Was it THE FLY or Geena that did him in?

Iris

     I was terrified by the prospect of seeing this beautiful film. I was terrified while watching it. And justly so. We are treated to a young and glowing portrait of writer Iris Murdoch — brilliantly played by Cate Winslett — just at the outset of her stellar career. The film cuts back and forth from this young Iris, bursting with vitality as she woos her shy, stammering husband-to-be, to the mature Iris, even more brilliantly portrayed by Judy Dench, as she faces the loss of all that she holds most dear and becomes, at last, her own sad ghost, wandering in darkness.
     Never mind the man in the skull mask hiding in the closet: there are worse things than that to be afraid of.
     The film was taken from her husband's book, written concurrently with her illness and death, and it's a powerful story. But my own gut feeling is that love ought to trump art; if someone I loved wrote such a narrative about me, detailing such a terrible decline . . . I'd come back and haunt him. (4/2/02)

The Island

          It's about Clones. There is an Evil Scientist, and large numbers of hapless victims. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansen are competent in their parts and are nice to look at. It's four-fifths chase scenes. What more is there to say?
          Well, a lot, maybe, because like much of the best speculative fiction, it addresses moral behavior.
          The clones in the film are physical adults, but are only about twelve or fifteen years old in experience and anywhere from three to five years old in real years. Thanks to memory "imprints," they don't know they're clones. They live in a hermetically sealed environment and are closely monitored to prevent health problems. And they are regularly "harvested" for their hearts, livers, kidneys, and other body parts, because they are perfect physical replicas of the very-rich purchasers of a sort of high-level health service. The film deals with what happens when two of the clones find out their fate and escape.
           So are the clones the good guys and the humans the bad guys? Sort of. Until the clones, as they flee, leave a trail of mayhem behind them. They are as ready to knock off the humans as the humans are to harvest the clones, and for much of the film, our sympathies are mixed regarding the whole bunch of them. And the real interest of the film is in the viewers' dilemma: Are both humans and their clones mere selfish children, out for themselves alone? Or will the characters (maybe we should say, "the writers of the film") be able and willing to devise a rationale that permits us to care what happens next? How can either of these groups (or, more preferably, both groups) earn their right to be considered human? Can you doubt that filmwriters are up for the challenge?
          Consider, however, that the central question of the film may be the central question of all our lives.(8/05)

Jackie Chan and . . .
Subtitles Sometimes

     Well, of course Jackie Chan is the best thing since fireworks! Lots of silly action, superb stunts (and he does all his own) and marvelous running around, with the hero usually cast as the fall guy who wins in the end. The more recent films are mostly in English (earlier ones were subtitled only) and the action is smoother, and the plots usually are better. The best of the best, in the Chick's opinion, was the first buddy picture with Owen Wilson . . . but whatever you do, don't leave before the last credits roll. The goofball out-takes are the very best part of these films.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

           Even after admitting a long-term crush on Brendan Fraser, the Chick can seriously recommend this film. Without ever planting tongues in cheek, everyone had a rip-roaring good time with this one. It was exciting, the Monsters were great, and . . . well, who could hate a floor made out of diamonds. Certainly not I!
           So see this one. Watching it delivers a happy, harmless evening. (Reviewed 2008)

Jurassic Park III

      Oh yeah, attack of the cyberdinos again. Same lush jungle. Same decrepit city-of-the-future. Same dinosaur-poop jokes. The velociraptors mostly mutter among themselves and Sam Neale looks thoroughly weary of it all, but the birdcage scene caught me up for a while, and I liked the resourcefulness of the kid. (Although — would he really have recognized Sam Neale by sight, even in the unlikely event that he had read his book? Sounds like a bit of author-fantasizing is going on there.) The upshot: If you love this sort of thing, you'll love this. If not, not. (8/01)

The Flick Chick Reviews New Films
More Film Reviews. Click the appropriate letter for films whose titles begin with . . .
A-B #  C-D #  E-F #  G-H #  I-J #  K-L #  M-N #  O-P #  Q-R #  S #  T-U #  V-W  #  X-Y-Z
A few choice foreign films (subtitles)


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