Tag: Natalie Portman

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FLOP WEEK 2*** Mars Attacks! (1996)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “There’s a mean, casualness to the deaths and violence of Mars Attacks! that makes the harmless, dumbness a little hard to swallow.”

Mars 1
“We know they’re extremely advanced technologically, which suggests – very rightfully so – that they’re peaceful. An advanced civilization, by definition, is not barbaric.”

Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Annette Benning, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito, Jack Black, Michael J Fox, Martin Short, Natalie Portman, Rod Steiger, Pam Grier… All directed by Tim Burton.  It has to be really, really hard work to take a cast like that, and make a movie that bombs so hard, it’s more famous now for bombing than it is for its enormous, A list cast.  Sure, some of those people weren’t as famous in 1996 as they would become later.  But Nicholson is Nicholson, Brosnan had just taken over as James Bond, and Burton’s Ed Wood had won a couple of Oscars just two years earlier.  So how did so much promise, result in the monumental bombing that was Mars Attacks! ?

Opening on the horrific sight of a herd of cattle, on fire, running down a country road, a flying saucer is also spotted leaving the scene.  When that ship doesn’t make it back to its home planet of Mars, a fleet of hundreds more are dispatched, headed for Earth.  When their approach is uncovered, US president James Dale (Nicholson) alerts the nation, and tries to keep his citizens calm, by saying that he believes the contact is friendly. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Paris, je táime (2006)

“By acting like a man in love, he became a man in love again.”

Movies are often called a love letter to the city in which they’re set.  But usually, that geographical admiration is underneath a more standard narrative.  Characters go through the motions of a romantic comedy with the backdrop of a city constantly there, trying everything together.  Paris, je táime takes the concept a little more literally.  Translated as Paris, I Love, this collection of 20 odd short films by an impressive roster of A-list directors and actors never lets a story stick around long enough to get in the way of that city’s love letter.

Of all of the directors given the reigns to a part of this anthology, the contributions by the  Coen Brothers and Alexander Payne were the two I was looking forward to the most.  And they both deliver.  But the fact that the both tell stories about being American outsiders in the City of Lights makes me worry that my own cinematic tastes are a little too pedestrian and mainstream American. The Coen’s entry is them at their quirky, silly, slight best, as silent tourist Steve Buscemi reads his guide book a little too slowly to avoid a confrontation on a metro platform. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | New York, I Love You (2008)

“But only if you’re comfortable with this, and if you’re not then you can just forget it, and you can quit, but if you are… then open this door.”

Anthology movies never really work.  Very few get good reviews and even less make good box office.  But despite this track record of little to no success, every few years, someone manages to convince another batch of directors and writers to contribute their own short film to something bigger, tackling some sort of common theme.  In the 80s, powerhouses like Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese couldn’t make it work with New York Story.  In the 90s, break out rock star film makers like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez couldn’t make it work with Three Rooms.

Not only do the film makers get tricked into thinking that somehow, this time, it might just work.  But I do as a viewer as well.  Sure, the above geniuses took a big swing and a miss at their own versions of the anthology movie, but surely, the next batch will get it right.  Won’t they?  It’s that optimism that lead to me buying the DVD of New York, I Love You back when it came out.  But it’s the practical part of my brain that has let it sit on my DVD shelf, collecting dust for the six or seven years since.  I want it to be good so much.  But I also know that the odds are against it.  But today, I bit the bullet.  I watched New York, I Love You. (more…)