Category Archives: Movie Reviews Before

Mrs. McGinty’s Dead–Before You See It

magnifying glassAll right.  Before I start my review of this movie, I have to explain a few things.  I am a HUGE Hercule Poirot fan, and I have read every book at least five times (I have them all).  When I first started watching movies on any kind on a regular basis (meaning with the aid of Netflix), I decided to see what was available in the Hercule Poirot oeuvre.  I’ve seen Peter Ustinov as Poirot (not bad), Albert Finney as Poirot (truly horrible), and I even more recently saw Alfred Molina as Poirot (ok, but didn’t fit the role at all).

I despaired of seeing a Poirot that fit–until I saw David Suchet as Poirot.  Now, Suchet first started as Inspector Japp (a Poirot regular), and he was fine in that role, too.  However, he is Hercule Poirot, no question about it.  In fact, when I got an audio tape of Suchet reading an Agatha Christie novel, I was crushed when he began reading in a British accent.  I mean, I know he’s not Belgian or French, but I didn’t realize how thoroughly I associate Suchet with Poirot until I heard his British accent.

Ahem.  That is neither here nor there.

This is the first Poirot movie I’m reviewing on my blog.  I have countless reviews in my personal archives because I have seen every movie and episode possible until the latest season–damn America for showing them a year later–but as this is the first for the blog, I’m going to state a few things you need to know.

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Donnie Darko–Before You See It

                                                                                                                                            5:57 p.m.      6/5/04

Donnie Darko. What can I say about it? It was recommended to me by someone whose opinion I highly value. He is most likely the smartest person I know, and that’s saying a lot. He owns a copy of this movie and thought that I would enjoy it. It was with great anticipation that I fired up this DVD. Sadly to say, the enthusiasm was grievously misplaced.

From the first shot of the movie, I know I’m in trouble. There is the moody music and the moody kids and everything is just so moody. Now, those of you who read my review for Charlotte Sometimes will be understandably confused as that movie is all mood. What is the difference, you ask? Well, I’ll explain to you the difference. Watching Donnie Darko, I get the feeling that I’m supposed to be impressed with the movie. Impressed or shocked. There is a sense of ‘look at me’ and ‘see how clever I am’. This is a movie that chokes on its own importance from the heavy-handed score to the slowing down of action in that now-irritating Matrix fashion.

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Never Come Back–Before You See It

                                                                                                                                             3:14 a.m.      9/3/4/04

Movies with Minna is back, and this time up, I will do a very short review of Never Come Back starring the incomparably delicious Nathaniel Parker. This is one of his earlier works which wasn’t well-received on Netflix, but I have different tastes than the mainstream. Besides, if Nathaniel Parker is in it, it can’t be all bad, right? Right? Wrong.

Everything about this movie-made for television-is wrong. The pacing, the plot, the characters, the lighting. Everything. The fake-dead cat-it’s supposed to be dead, but it’s easy to tell it’s not a real cat that’s dead-the pseudo-noire look, the incessant whining by Parker’s character, the supposed insouciance of said character….It’s all trite and grates on the nerves. The fact that it’s supposed to be set during World War I-or is it World War II?-does nothing to alleviate the sheer mediocrity of this movie.

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Maybe Baby–Before You See It

                                                                                                                                            6:02 p.m.      11/18/05

I hate romantic comedies. I really hate romantic comedies. I would go so far as to say I loathe them. Why am I bringing this up? Because I have recently watched two romantic comedies, and I need to remind myself that no matter who is in them, they are not worth renting. Let me check that. I watched the first ten minutes each of two romantic comedies-the first being Maybe Baby starring one of People’s Sexiest Men, Hugh Laurie. It’s a British comedy, so I hold out hope that it’ll be ok. Hope quickly fades.

We start out with Hugh in a work meeting situation. There’s a new boss at the station-I think he writes commercials or some such thing. I have no idea what Hugh’s name is in the movie. Sam? I think. Anyway, the new boss looks like a cross between Clive Owens and Peyton Manning, which is not a compliment. He sounds like he’s barking out orders on the football field as well as the obnoxious, over-the-top boss that everybody loves to hate. In actuality, he’s Matthew MacFadyen, the new Mr. Darcy, and presumably, no relation to the scrumptious Angus MacFadyen. His stereotypical character is wearisome, and it’s a welcomed break when Hugh’s mobile rings. It’s his wife, played by Joely Richardson, and she wants to screw because she’s ovulating.

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Paperback Romance–Before You See It

Ed. Note:  In the comment section, a reader corrected me as to when Anthony and Gia met.  They met on the set of  “The Custodian” in 1993, and this movie was made in 1994.  I apologize for the misinformation.

                                                                                                                                             6:24 p.m.      11/18/05

Ok. I just waxed poetic about the fact that I hate romantic comedies. I need to reiterate that even having one of my favorite actors in a romantic comedy doesn’t make it much more palatable. It watched two recently-well, the first ten minutes of each-the second being Paperback Romance, starring Anthony LaPaglia. By the way, he’s so much better looking now than he was when he was younger. It’s the gravitas, I think. Plus, he gained some weight. How unfair is that? He looks better with weight gain!

Anyway, the movie starts out with a voiceover of Gia Carides, who’s writing something in the library. A romantic fantasy. Well, a sexual fantasy. She’s Anthony’s wife in real life-they met on the set. That’s sweet. The movie, not so much. First of all, the sex fantasy is boring and trite with every cliché imaginable. Manhood and such shit. It’s a threesome-and it’s quite a feat that I’m not the least bit interested. To make matters worse, she’s reading out loud as she writes. By pen. I suppose this is the days before laptops so I can forgive the pen and paper part, but not the murmuring out loud part. She’s reading out loud! This is patently absurd. More so that she doesn’t notice a young man-LaPaglia-sitting down in the carrel across from hers, and he’s listening to every word she says. Ridiculous! But no movie without the stupid premise. He invites her to coffee, she rejects him. Turns out she’s on crutches-seems like she has MS, ah, no, it’s polio, according to an IMDb reviewer. Suppose I would have found that out if I actually watched the movie-which is stupid, too. Then again, no movie without the premise. If she has no reason to say no, well, then they’d have their coffee, have sex and be done with it. Even if he is engaged. Even if he is a cat-burglar. Ok. I got those bits of information from the blurb.

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Charlotte Sometimes–Before You See It

Ed. Note:  This is mostly fine to read before seeing the movie.  I will indicate where you might want to stop reading if you want to watch the last ten minutes of the movie without knowing what’s going to happen.

                                                                                                                                        4:44 a.m.    6/3/4/04

I have a new favorite movie, and it’s called Charlotte Sometimes. Now, you may be saying to yourself, huh? That was my reaction, too, when I saw it in the local video store, on video, mind you. I will come clean and say the only reason I rented it was because it had three and a half Asian people (one is mixed) starring in it. One of them was Jacqueline Kim whom I had seen and loved in Xena: Warrior Princess. It’s a sad commentary that I jumped on this movie without even knowing what it’s about simply because the faces on it looked like mine and because I had a crush on Jacqueline. Well, the faces were prettier than mine, but you know what I’m saying. Since I’m on this kick of not reading blurbs to movies or books, I had no idea what to expect when I popped it in the VCR.

It starts out with music and moody lighting and no dialogue. I’m intrigued from the start because of the absence of talking and of action. Most movies these days have a plethora of either or, God forbid, both, but few had a complete absence of both. I am hooked. Now, I have a disclaimer before I continue. If you are the type of person who whines, ‘There’s nothing happening in this movie’, then skip this review and this movie because it will drive you to distraction. There is no big action or even all that much dialogue, and from the low ratings it received on, it’s abundantly clear that most people didn’t understand this movie or more to the point, didn’t want to understand it. So again, if you need action in your movie, then pass by this gem.

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Batman Begins–Before You See It

Ed. Note:  I labeled this a before you see it review because there aren’t many spoilers in a Hollywood blockbuster.  However, if you really don’t want to know anything before watching this movie, then you may want to read this after.  Consider yourself forewarned. 

                                                                                                                                        3:48 a.m.    7/3/4/05

j0384730I am Batman. No, I’m not, but I did see Batman Begins last night, and in a movie theater, to boot. My favorite movie theater with its faux theatre look and organ player. I even bought a thing of popcorn, though I smuggled in my own water. I am not paying three dollars for twenty ounces of water-no way. Anyway, I went with a friend who’d already seen it but wanted to see it again. I settled in, not expecting much. Why? First of all, I knew Batman wasn’t going to die-nor anyone close to him save for his parents early on-which takes a lot of tension out of the movie. I mean, it’s hard to get too worked up when he’s in trouble knowing that he’ll make it out of there alive.

The other great thing about this theater-The Heights-is that they had two previews, no commercials, then the movie. How great is that? Unfortunately, some idiot took his daughter to the movie-eight or nine, I would say-and she wouldn’t stop talking during the movie. Most of it was asking what the hell was going on, and it got on my nerves. This isn’t a children’s movie, and it would have been better if he rented it when it came out on DVD if he wanted to show it to her. I’m one of those people who can’t block out external stimuli, so I had a hard time concentrating on the movie. I tried to block them out, but I couldn’t. What kind of example is that for a father to allow his daughter to talk during a movie? Sheesh.

Anyway, first we have THE BATS! When they fly at Bruce Wayne, the woman on the right of me nearly jumped into her man’s lap. Her jump is the best part of the movie experience, bar none. I love bats so I’m glad to see them make more than one or two appearances in the movie. Follow my thoughts during the movie.

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Godspell–BEFORE You See It

                                                                                                                                     10:50 p.m.    5/12/06

j0175606Ok. I like musicals. I am able to suspend my critical eye when it comes to plot, characters, etc. I don’t expect as much, narratively, as long as there is kick-ass music. Oh, some dancing is nice, too, but not required. I had read good things about Godspell, so I decided to give it a whirl.

First of all, I’m laughing at the 70s look. So ridiculous! I know, the current look will be mocked in thirty years, but really! The plaid bell-bottoms and white-afros. It’s enough to…wait, who’s that? Ah, reading the linear notes, I see that it’s John the Baptist (David Haskell) dressed as a clown and pulling a cart behind him, singing, as he heads for a fountain in what I presume to be downtown New York. He pops up in different vignettes, only appearing to certain people. Oh, one of them is Lynne Thigpen, whom I know-one of the few cast members who’s recognizable-and she’s pretty funny. The song is really, really lame, however, as eight or nine people end up at the fountain, being baptized by, uh, John the Baptist. At first I think he’s Jesus, but then I see him looking at this other clown in the distance. Ok, I have to say, I hate clowns. Hate them with a passion. I think they are creepy motherfuckers, and whomever thought they were a good thing should be shot. So Sydney Bristow’s father (Victor Garber) as clown Jesus is just beyond bizarre. I’m still willing to give it a shot, though, if the music gets better.

What is this? Jesus leads the people-suddenly all turned into clowns/hippies/same thing-around the city, dancing and singing. Parables. Really. They are supposed to be lovably goofy, I suppose, but they’re just pretentious and annoying in my mind. I grit my teeth, assuming it has to get better, but it doesn’t. At the half hour mark, I give up. I cannot watch this tripe-it’s not even bad enough to be good. The cheese factor is high, the campy factor is not enough, and the songs are crap. I rated this a one star on Netflix, and I wish they had a zero star-it was that bad. Don’t put this anywhere near your Netflix Queue, not even if you love musicals. I guarantee that this one causes indigestion and nightmares.

Truly Madly Deeply–Before You See It

                                                                                                                               4:00 a.m.             1/15/16/05

grand pianoI have long since established that two things make any movie better.  Cello music and Alan Rickman.  Truly Madly Deeply have both, which makes it one of my favorite movies.  No, those aren’t the only reasons I like this movie so much, but it’s a good start.  In fact, Alan Rickman is a cello player in this movie which is my idea of nirvana.  Granted, he’s a dead cello player, but a grrl can’t have everything, can she? 

There’s one other thing I have to say about this movie, however.  It reinforces my belief that Brits cannot do romantic comedies.  I put this movie on my Netflix Queue—well, first of all, because it’s Alan!  Playing the cello!—because I thought it was going to be like Ghost, but without that annoying Whoopie Goldberg role.  You know, a dead man gently haunting his lover who can’t get over him.  I thought there would be laughs abound since he invites his dead friends to chill with them in her flat.  It was supposed to be funny! 

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Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone–Before You See It

                                                                                                                           4:18 a.m.         1/15/16/05

The first time I saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I had more important business to take care of-such as watching someone’s ass as he lay on the floor before me.  That’s why when I watched it the second time, a few years later, I couldn’t remember seeing it before.  In fact, I was convinced for the first ten minutes that I hadn’t seen the movie before.  Only when I saw Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) bursting into the Dursley’s home away from home to fetch Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) did I recognize what the hell is going on.  That’s my main criticism of the Harry Potter books and to some extent the movies themselves.  They’re good while reading/watching them, but they’re instantly forgettable.

I know Potter fans will get in a dither or a lather over those fighting words, but I call them like I see them.  And what I see in this movie is how young the stars all look.  You have to understand that I watched the third and second movie before I saw the first one again, so it’s quite startling to look at them in the first where they’re just babies.  Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), especially, is so cute.  Then there’s Draco (Tom Felton) with his baby face.  How can anybody think he’s a villain?  He’s way too damn cute for that.  I have a hard time taking him seriously when he looks like a blond chipmunk.  It’s stunning how much he grows from first movie to third.

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