My excuse is that defenestr8r had free passes to this. While waiting in line, I got my first look at the poster and said, "do you think the designer felt any guilt at using that font?" You know the font: the one that says "I AM A VAMPIRE MOVIE." Well, it went down hill from there. This was basically a softcore Cinemax movie of the type that I didn't think ever got theatrical release any more. Elizabeth Bathory is still alive and killing lesbians, and this cop whose wife got eaten is trying to track her down while fucking everything that moves. Oh, and all his friends and neighbors are 18 year old kinky bisexual supermodels. Then at some point it turns into Eyes Wide Shut. Avoid.
Corpse Bride:
    I have looked into the future, and seen the next five years of the Hot Topic toy section.

    The movie starts off well enough, in that I enjoyed Nightmare Before Christmas, and it's largely the same. It turns out that Hell is an Oingo Boingo version of the the Muppet Show, which is kind of awesome. But I'm afraid to say that I dozed off in the middle. I think I was just tired, and this was not an editorial nap. It seemed better than James and the Giant Peach, and I'll probably watch it again when it's on TV.

Man on Fire:
    I enjoyed this more than I expected to; Denzel Washington plays an alcoholic ex-CIA assassin working as a bodyguard in Mexico; things go badly, and he does the Revenge Thing. There aren't a lot of surprises in this movie, but it's very well done. It's really good looking, the sound design is cool, and there are a number of hallucinatory bits reminiscent of the title sequence of Se7en.
The Butterfly Effect:
    I only started watching this while flipping channels one night (I mean, come on, Ashton Kutcher?) but it hooked me. It's actually a pretty decent time-travel/three-wishes kind of movie (in the ballpark of Groundhog Day and Retroactive). The main character finds a way to do over certain bad events in his life, and each time, things get worse. "This time for sure." It's got that great Twilight Zone "end up in hell" feel about it, with almost no comedy. I enjoyed it a lot.
Red Eye:
    You may recall that after seeing that piece of trash Cursed, I swore I'd never see another Wes Craven movie again. Well, I didn't know this was his until I saw his name came up on the credits, and I went "FUCK!"

    But, it turns out, this was actually pretty good. Girl meets boy in airport bar, they end up sitting next to each other on the plane, and then oops, turns out he's a hitman and she's the target. It's a little hokey, but it bounces right along and never takes itself too seriously. This is what always used to be good about Craven's movies: he could do a really simple plot and make it work without getting bogged down in clichés. It also helped that the hitman is the guy who played Scarecrow in Batman Begins, and I was still residually creeped out from that, so that made him seem more menacing.

    This movie sucked ass. From the preview, it looked like it was going to suck ass, but Jodie Foster's in it, and she's not generally in movies that suck, so I gave it a chance.

    Do not make this mistake. Avoid.

    It starts out as a re-tread of The Forgotten (starring Jodie Foster stand-in Julianne Moore) The Forgotten was basically a B- to C+ episode of the X Files, and hey, I liked the X Files, so I could accept that. But this was worse. The first half of Flightplan is basically Jodie Foster just totally freaking out for an hour, but then it takes a left turn into Mission Impossible-land, then there's a terrorist, then there's a really amazingly stupid ransom plot, and at the end everything is sweetness and light and even she and the Arab guy she accused of stealing her daughter make up. It is to gag.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:
    This movie is amazingly, incredibly good. Please note that I normally can't stand Jim Carrey, but he's not playing "Jim Carrey" in this one at all. The plot is that there is a company who can erase your bad memories, and he's having his recently-ex girlfriend deleted. The story mostly plays out in reverse, as he's watching the memories being deleted, and realizing that he's made a mistake. It's not as gimicky as Memento, though, because the story is really moving in both directions at once. This is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.
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59 Responses:

  1. spider88 says:

    How did Elizabeth Bathory killing peasants and servants become killing lesbians? I guess it doesn't matter when the goal is softcore in the first place.

    • taffer says:

      Supposedly she had a female lover who get her started on this whole "bathing in blood" thing. At the time, she was already well-schooled in being ridiculously cruel to servants.

      I read these facts on the Internets, so they must be true.

  2. loosechanj says:

    I was amazed that Ashton Kutcher can apparently act.

  3. jwm says:


    If you liked Eternal Sunshine, check out The Work of Director Michel Gondry, which catalogues his music video and advertising work. It seems to me as though he and Spike Jonse are responsible for the majority of the best music videos in the last decade or so. Worth a look just to see “Around The World“ by Daft Punk, “Star Guitar“ by Chemical Brothers and that-Kylie-Minogue-song-that-no-one-can-name.

    Also, a connoisseur of supernatural horror flicks such as yourself ought to look out for Nightwatch. It's certainly got the best integration of subtiles into the post-production of any foreign film I've seen, and a deliciously grim story that you seldom see outside of east Europe.


    • brianfeldman says:

      Some of those music videos are the most memorable ones for me, period! I'll have to get that, then. Unfortunately, none of them will have that other superb aspect of Eternal Sunshine: Kate Winslet.

    • Nightwatch is incredibly good. It's like the movie the Matrix could have been if it had actually given half a shit about the good v. evil story, rather than wanking itself raw on technology (both in content and in form).

      I think there's some rule in Eastern European film where you have to present an internally consistent, complete tale that holds your interest throughout, has a simple, clear moral (with which you do not bludgeon the audience), and that wraps itself the goddamn hell up satisfyingly at the end. See also, Kontroll. I like this rule very much indeed.

      On the down side: subtitles. Oh well.

    • wfaulk says:

      I assume it's not the Nightwatch starring Ewan McGregor, but is the movie you're talking about the one that's the Danish-language predecessor (student night watchman at a morgue in both cases) or the scifi thing?

    • gths says:

      Yes. Not to mention the weird short film where a turd, acted by David Cross, follows his "daddy" (played by Gondry) around. The funny thing is, I picked up that, then picked up Eternal Sunshine.

      • jwm says:


        I missed it on the big screen, and so decided to watch all the other Gondry and Charlie Kaufman films first, then picked it up on DVD. Human Nature is missable, but Adaptation was great.


        • jwz says:

          I watched part of Adaptation, and I fucking hated it. Which confims my theory that Nicholas Cage hasn't made a movie I could sit through since Raising Arizona. That guy's the fucking touch of death.

        • fantasygoat says:

          Adaptation was a movie for film nerds, not normal people. It was basically an in-joke.

  4. betamatt says:

    Jodie Foster used to be in movies that didn't suck, but I think that rule generally stopped applying after Panic Room. Gone, I'm afraid, are the days of Taxi Driver, The Accused, Contact, etc.

    • Contact didn't suck? How?

      • strspn says:

        Contact sucked?

      • pfister_ says:

        "The premise of the novel is that an interstellar civilization sends a message to the planet Earth, which sends a quintet of bland scientists to discuss the philosophical implications of humankind's technological adolescence. The premise of the movie is that an interstellar civilization sends a message to the planet Earth, which sends the half-suicidal loner genius woman-child who'd been listening for it to cross the galaxy and get a hug. This is a huge improvement."

        • strspn says:

          Okay, I can see that point of view, but I thought the way they spun the end of contact was an improvement because it implied the prequel that Foster's dad had been abducted earlier.

  5. holywar says:

    Man On Fire caught me by surprise, too. I thought for sure it would suck, but then caught it on one of the movie channels, and really, really liked it.

  6. omnifarious says:

    I don't like horror or suspense movies in general. I don't like things that pop out of cupboards and people that suddenly explode into piles of gore for supernatural reasons.

    Butterfly Effect hovered very close to that line, but managed to stay on the side of gripping for the entire time I watched it. Unfortunately there weren't many other people in the theatre, and apparently they were on something, rude, or both. They laughed at all the scenes that were the most dreadful and so spoiled the mood that I felt compelled to leave lest I do something out of irritation that I'd regret later.

    I should watch that movie again.

  7. sherbooke says:

    has a few bits of violence grafted onto some advert-style sequences, most of it, even the bits supposedly set in the poorer quarters, looking like a travelogue for the Mexican Tourist board. Ah-ah, it's a Tony 'Saab 900 Turbo v Viggen' Scott movie. "Dramatically empty but visually fascinating" - Yahoo - seems to describe both this and Top Gun. See also The Hunger, Crimson Tide, The Last Boy Scout.

  8. rzr_grl says:

    Eternal: If I remember correctly, that font is called "Manson." Hahahahaha.

    ESotSM: And you didn't believe me. Didn't I watch that on the plane to/from Hawaii, and you refused to do so? Neah!

    "Editorial Nap," aren't they from D.C.?

  9. lifesip says:

    I was wondering... Jwz, what do you think of, say, Citizen Kane?

    Just to put some reviews in perspective.

    • strspn says:

      Citizen Kane's message is lost on today's youth.

    • strspn says:

      Here's the problem, from On The Media:

      BROOKE GLADSTONE: Early next month, a new film opens called the Stepford Wives. Not that there hasn't been a Stepford Wives before. And finishing now for an imminent release is The Manchurian Candidate. Sound familiar? And coming up early next year? King Kong. Raiding and retreading old movie classics is in itself a time-honored tradition, but it has a mixed history at the box office, as WNYC's Sara Fishko explains. [MUSIC]

      SARA FISHKO: Chairman and CEO Ted Hartley's office at RKO Pictures in Century City is decorated with one spectacular item -- the actual sled with the Rosebud logo from the actual set of the classic RKO movie Citizen Kane. That is one film Hartley is certain, that will never be remade.

      ORSON WELLES: Rosebud...

      TED HARTLEY: There's no point in remaking that; Orson Welles took that as far as it could go, and it represents a triumph for that director of his vision.

      SARA FISHKO: Leslie Dixon, who wrote the re-makes of the Thomas Crown Affair and Freaky Friday agrees.

      LESLIE DIXON: That's the cardinal rule: Don't remake something that is the finest film ever made. Don't re-make Citizen Kane.

      Citizen Kane may well have been "the finest film ever made" at one time, but it just isn't any more, because it's no longer pertinent to the kind of power structures that exist. Things these days are more corporate, with more oligarchs, not fewer, giving them less relative prominance than Hearst had.

      Granted, it shouldn't be remade, but not because it is supposedly so good.

      It shouldn't be re-made because it was too kind to Hearst.

      A film with the same message for today would have to start with the truth about the implications of the decisions of the oligarchs for the lower 60% of income earners, the single moms, the minimum wage earners. In the day of Hearst, the government hadn't turned over so much economic control to big business.

      If Wells were alive today, he would be Michael Moore.

      • sherbooke says:

        We may well see it as being to kind to Hearst - that didn't stop Welles career being pulled from under him by the wrath of Hearst, who did take offence to CK. Different times. Maybe the real reason that CK won't be remade is the example of Welles.

        The targets are still there: Murdoch, for example. Changed his nationality. He's even got a trophy wife and has had plastic surgery. He must have even more skeletons in the closet somewhere, after all he started in one of the most ruthless markets in the world and has survived.

        The other reason it might not be made is that people like Hearst and Murdoch are seen as a force for good these days.

  10. They've had Tim Burton's Corpse Bride merchandise in the candy-goth collectibles shops in Camden Town (right next to the Stain Boy action figures) for about six months at least. The film isn't even out in the UK yet, AFAIK.

    Tim Burton is nothing if not a canny businessman.

  11. taiganaut says:

    I saw Eternal Sunshine four times in the theatre, and I don't DO that.

  12. kolene says:

    You should see the director's cut for The Butterfly Effect (if you didn't). The ending is even worse.

  13. movingfinger says:

    The amazing thing about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was that they didn't screw it up. I watched it fearing betrayal throughout. It never let down, it never stopped developing, it never stopped being good.

    Seemed Phildickian, too, but wasn't based on anything he wrote, was it?

    • belgand says:

      I also liked the alternate, but unused (unshot I believe) ending. It's more of an epilogue and we have one of them (I forget which) going in to see the doctor again. The camera pulls back and we see a huge listing on the computer of the past 20 or so times that they've gone through this all before. A bit hokey perhaps, but definitely interesting.

      This was, of course, one of the best films of the past year. This means that it was also ignored by anyone and everyone when the awards season came around in favor of films that were greenlit under the assumption that they could be used to win awards.

  14. msjen says:

    You should see the director's cut of The Butterfly Effect. It is WAY, WAY creepier and totally changes the whole movie.

    Thank you for warning me away from Flight Plan, cause I would have gone to see it for the same reason you mentioned.

    • msjen says:

      Also, I always seem to make the same comments in your journal that other people have already made. I should either a) read the other comments first or b) resign myself to never having an original idea. ;)

  15. johnreen says:

    I'm curious on what your take on Eternal Sunshine's "statement" was... that is, if the director was trying to make one point with the movie, what was it?

    As a humorous aside, I went to see Eternal Sunshine on a second date, not really know entirely what it was about, but wanting to see it.

    That relationship didn't uhh... last all that long.

  16. Wait - does this mean that the cop's wife was a lesbian?

  17. earino says:

    This is the current IMDB review of Eternal:

    All in all, Eternal is an entertaining and quite captivating movie. The sex scenes are really out there, but there's nothing overdone about them. I felt a certain mystique and maturity that went with this film because it incorporates so many themes, including sensual eroticism, and suspense and a little sarcastic comedy. A thriller on the rocks with a twist of lime.

    Nowadays with the price of movie tickets at around 13 bucks it's no surprise that there are so many movie critics. I just saw a movie that had no explosions, no virtual monsters, no massive storm systems and no end of the world in sight. I actually spent money to go see a great story. Today, that's a rarity.

    I think that maybe they saw some other movie?

  18. armoire_man says:

    I normally can't stand Jim Carrey, but he's not playing "Jim Carrey" in this one at all.

    Kate Winslet said that the director got them to play against type. "I played the Jim Carrey role, and he played the Kate Winslet role."

    Makes sense. Worked for me.

    • dasht_brk says:

      Hey, he wasn't bad on "in living color". "Truman Show" blows "The Matrix" out of the water on similar themes.

      I find him in "Jim Carrey"-mode to be a frustrated Andy Kaufman, partly because he's less of a risk taker (and less crazy). Still, not a slouch.

      Part of the problem is the absense of good vehicles. "The Mask" was built around him but lamely so. There's under-utilized potential there.

      Next... my sincere defense of the cast of Friends...


  19. i think i feel dirty just LOOKING at that poster!


  20. inkbot says:

    yeah, i keep calling the jf movie "panic plane" because, from the trailer, it pretty much looks just like "panic room" but, you know, in the air. and hopefully without jared leto in corn rows. ;)

    i had to leave esotsm because i got, um, seasick or motion sick or sick. that was the third really good movie i never got to finish watching due to the whole joggety, documentary-style thang. dammit.

    • mattyj2001 says:

      Flight Plan isn't sci-fi and The Forgotten sucked. This is just your basic thriller.

      I don't know what movie you were watching, but there was no ransom plot, amazingly stupid or otherwise. The intent was to steal the money from wherever they could get it, not JF. It was never intended that she find out what was going on. The payers of the ducket didn't know they were paying a ransom, and neither did JF.

      The point of the plot twists and such, as with any thriller, is to keep you guessing. It's *supposed* to be ludicrous, and somehow I doubt that anyone that hasn't heard about this movie yet had any idea THAT IT WAS THE AIR MARSHALL ALL ALONG!!!!! Caught me by surprise, anyway.

      I thought it was very good, but I agree that everyone should rent Eternal Sunshine ... instead.


      • jwz says:

        Um, "give me money or I'll blow up the plane" is a ransom plot.

        And it was an amazingly stupid ransom plot, because the whole backstory of "toss husband off the building and kidnap daughter to give random passenger a freakout fit" was totally unnecessary to the goal of getting the airline to pay up!

        Yes, The Forgotten was not very good. This was worse.

        They spent the first half of Flightplan setting up some stupid supernatural scenario, and then at the end it turned out to be not magic at all, but just something even stupider.

        • mattyj2001 says:

          Maybe I'm overthinking it (more spoilers coming!) but I was thinking in terms of the real culprit (the air marshal.) Maybe the airline perceived they were paying a ransom (to JF) but thinking back I think it was more ... it was more ... it was something else. The added layer of misdirection makes the reality and perception two different things.

          There actually was a reason he picked JF and not some random passenger. Someone mentioned it briefly at some point, but the idea was to have a credible patsy. She knew all about the ins and outs of the plane, so the airline would take her as a credible threat. If they picked some random yahoo (like that ingrate with the kids, cleverly named 'Mr. Loud' in the credits) the airline wouldn't have believed it.

          Again, maybe I'm a dumbass, but I didn't suspect any supernatural mumbo jumbo at all. I just thought JF went insane. I figured part of the plot was to convince JF she was insane, which I think they almost started to do.


  21. I recommend watching the Butterfly Effect with the director's commentary. It's like being taught philosophy by a 14-year-old, quite amusing.

    • belgand says:

      Ah, so some guy who saw this movie called Donnie Darko that just totally blew his mind man, you've gotta see this it's all freaky and has this giant rabbit guy and everything!

      • I want to see a battle royale between the giant imaginary rabbits from Donnie Darko, Sexy Beast, and Harvey, respectively. My money is on Ghandi.

  22. bifrosty2k says:

    I have looked into the future, and seen the next five years of the Hot Topic toy section.

    Hot Topic had announced that they had purchased the merchandise licensing for this movie a couple months ago, they know their audience ;)

  23. belgand says:

    Corpse Bride was enjoyable and had nice art direction. The plot was pretty damn predictable, but at the same time it had a sort of fairy tale quality to it that seemed intentional so it's a bit forgivable in that regard. In general I liked it as a passing diversion, but it was clearly aimed more at an audience comprised of children and Hot Topic patrons. It felt more like someone trying to do Tim Burton than Burton himself. I think this is proof that Big Fish was an abberation and he's been on a steady downward spiral since Planet of the Apes.

  24. defenestr8r says:

    wait a minute! why do i get blamed for eternal, and get no props for the corpse bride?!