In which I attempt to watch every film in The Criterion Collection and end up watching a lot that aren't. Click here for the rating system.



"New York Snob Story" №¢

A black screen opens with a Shaft-esque chorus of women's voices in the background singing, "Alfie, Alfie, what's it all about?"

Enter Jude Law who rambles on for half an hour about what men really want from women as he dresses himself in the morning, donning a suit and knotted scarf (from which, apparently he never recovered) and as he spritzes a little cologne on "big ben" he looks at the camera and says, "You never know where the day will lead." He continues on in this aggravating, superior manner about how he keeps all his fillies dancing on a string yet remains distant and unattached. Etc, etc. About how he moved to New York because all the hottest women are there. About how he dresses rich and lives poor because he never takes women home anyways. And on. And on. And on.

Four hours later, a plot attempts to crawl out from under this ragged heap of solipsistic soliloquy, but is crushed in its infancy and dies an ignominious death.

Alfie ditches women, Alfie cheats on "girlfriend" (Marisa Tomei, underused but still adorable in this role), Alfie cheats on best friend with his girlfriend and gets her pregnant, Alfie falls for an older woman who then dumps him and breaks his heart (whatever is left of it) yadda yadda. Alfie has a psycho girlfriend...

...and here we must pause in this listless retelling, because here for a moment life imitates art. Do you all know the tabloid-frenzied tale of Jude Law's tryst with Sienna Miller after which wifey leaves him and says, "Better luck, Hon" as the dust flies out from under her retreating SUV tires and then shortly thereafter, Jude Law does the nanny in a scandalous about-face from which Sienna apparently never recovers? (I mean, after all, when he cheats on his wife to be with you, why would he cheat on you, right?) Well, that is essentially what happens here. Quite rightly I watched with horrored fascination as Jude and Sienna recreate a tragic psychotic love on screen. And I'm thumbing through my back-issues of US weekly, saying, "wait a minute, I remember reading all of this." But here's the fun part, in the film's story, Alfie has a moment of awareness. He has an epiphany: maybe it's not ok to just use people. Maybe it is important to have someone to love and to treat them well so they can love you. And roll credits.

And get this, the pretentious New Yorkers (oxymoron) who created this film did us all proud by running black and white "art" photos of themselves along with their name. Gag me with a frickin' Manhattan spoon, people. Is there a law somewhere that states, "If I live in New York, I must suffer under the delusion that New York and only New York is the epicenter of all that is glamorous, good, and unholy?" Because quite honestly, other than British dentists, I've never met so undeservedly self-centered a race of people as New York filmmakers.

favorite moments: Jude Law is a He-Ho.


The Island

"Attack of the Clones."

Ewan McGregor is the new Charlton Heston in this apocolyptic vision of America (set in 2019? Come on, people, give us a little more time than that to self-destruct!). Scarlett Johansson wears too much lip gloss and has been bleached a fairly unattractive shade of britney blonde.

They are best friends who escape their holding facility of clone organ donors to the real world where they save the other clones, expose the fraud and become lovers.

Soylent green is ... peeeeeeeple!

Right. I got bored toward the end when Sean Bean was trying to kill Ewan McGregor (the clone) after Sean Bean realizes that Ewan McGregor the clone is not Ewan McGregor the "real mccoy." And they're fighting and they're shooting and they're biting and scratching and the whole place is coming down around their ears and I've already tuned out because it was too damn long and I'm watching it on fast-forward. The end.

Favorite moments: Steve Buscemi! Djimon Hounsou's parting look, the futuristic MACK truck was a very sweet looking machine.



"Horsey runs the coursey."

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, hey, Sarah, how come you write these film reviews on movies that the whole entire rest of the world has already watched? And I will answer you by saying this, "I write about these films that get nominated to high heaven for awards and are overwatched so that you, my beloved reader, can know how I feel about them." And that is the entire reason. I know you all watched Seabiscuit. You did, didn't you? You probably went with one of your drinking buddies and his girlfriend, or your Aunt Marge, or some of you, heaven forbid, went alone. But most of you went with your step-brother and your Dad whom you haven't seen in, like, three months.

This is a well-watched American main-stream movie about a horse with heart. A story of a horse and his whiney voiced, watery-eyed, puke-faced jockey who makes you wanna curl up and die every time he comes on the screen. Haha. Just kidding. He isn't puke-faced. But I never got the Toby mystique. Am I missing it? Am I supposed to be crooning over him, his looks, his talent? Cuz he seems like the same little shrimp-weasel who inhabits every part with the face of a slaughtered lamb and the passion of a high-school drama star.

Hehe. No, really, he was great. Just great. Loved him.

But seriously, Jeff Bridges was wonderful, wasn't he? I mean this is no Big Lebowski, but something about Jeff Bridges inspires confidence in even this anti-hollywood-film watcher's heart. He's so darn big and cuddly. And he looks very nice in that hat.

And because I cannot avoid the whole "real historical" basis of this film, I present you with a lovely glimpse of fiction versus history.

Watch this movie if you need something long and put together well enough to make you want to finish it. Otherwise, don't watch it. It's just Tobey McGuire with a dye job.

Favorite moments: Uhm. Wow. Don't really have 'em. It was an enjoyable film, but the only thing that stood out to me was Red's horrible leg-crushing accident where he lies in a gruesomely rendered heap at front of camera. Oops, hope I didn't wreck it for the two of you out there who haven't watched it.


"Grudge Me."

If your definition of cultured living is watching the foreign original from whence American horror movies derive, then have I got a show for you!

So, here is the approximate conversation I had with myself in my head at the library as I picked up this movie:

Huh, this is a horror movie. Only it's in Japanese. OH! It's the Grudge. Or rather the original version that the US then copied, because we apparently don't have to invent anything new anymore.

It's a horror movie. I don't watch horror movies.

But it's in Japanese. And you already have a bunch of fluff films [editor's note: including I, robot {see below}, Seabiscuit {see above} and Million Dollar Baby] so you could use some culture.

But it's a horror movie.

You can handle it.

But it's a horror movie.

So I got it.

I watched it on fast-forward with subtitles. And I was still creeped out.

This low-budget, but precisely spine-tingling little film makes perfect use of: suburban house, white face makeup and eerie musical score. And really that's all you need. Am I right? I can't really give you a scare rating on this film because 1) I don't watch a lot of horror movies and 2) I watched it on fast-forward with subtitles.

If you've seen the remake, then you haven't seen The Grudge. Watch Ju-On and prepare to be creeped out. Because what, I ask you, could be scarier than Japanese dead people taking your soul? Right? Am I right? I mean, you see what those crazy Japs do with Kabuki! Psycho people!

Favorite moments: Rika's new haircut. It looked really good on her.


I, Robot

"Robo vs. Cop"

This movie is described (by the DVD cover) as a "mind-blowing, sci-fi action thriller." Wow. Mind-blowing, huh? Geez, I gotta watch that.. oh, wait, I just did. And lemme check my mind. Nope, it doesn't feel blown. In fact it doesn't even feel lightly breezed. I am, per usual, dissapointed.

However, I did enjoy seeing Will Smith partially and completely naked. That boy has been working out! Nice pecs, my man!

You want a synopsis of this movie? No you don't. It's exactly what you think it is. The ending is a weak "ta-da" of a surprise that makes no difference to anyone and left me thinking, 'Farmer Hoggett died for this?

Favorite moments: The USR trucks and Will naked.

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