2004 Film Journal

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Pirates of the Caribbean (1/1/04) DVD (***) Watched with Mom. I think she enjoyed it. I donít think I liked it quite as much on the small screen, actually.

Mona Lisa Smile (1/02/04) Century 12 (***) Not bad. I didnít expect too much, based on the reviews. Mostly I thought it was a fascinating world to visit. Itís hard to believe it was 50 years ago.

Lord Love a Duck (1/3/04) DVD (**Ĺ) I bought it at Fryís and watched it with Mom. Itís a movie I vaguely recall from my early childhood. Itís creepier at times and darker than I recall.

Bicentennial Man (1/3/04) DVD (***) Watched it with Mom. Itís better than I remember but still exaggeratedly sentimental throughout.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (1/9/04) Century 12 (***1/2) It was good, of course, but kinda long. I went with Quintin, Marlon, and Randy. I was finally able to go to the 3.5-hr movie thanks to Sally's visit.

More American Grafitti (1/10/04) DVD (***) You know, this isn't a great movie or anything, but I liked it. I remember George and Cindy taking me to see it when I was a teenager.

Big Fish (1/11/04) Palo Alto Square (***) Really good but not great, I guess. It did make me cry at the end, though. Maybe I should buy and read the book, huh?

Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story (1/??/04) DVD (***) Not so bad for a made-for TV movie made on a limited budget.

Godspell (1/24/04) DVD (****) Watched with Sally while Mom in the hospital.

Gregoryís Girl (1/28/04) DVD (***Ĺ) Watched it while Mom and Sally were en route to St. Louis. I hadnít watched it in years. It brought to mind memories of watching it when I was 16 or 17.

Girl with the Pearl Earring (2/7/04) Guild Theater, Menlo Park (***) Man, Iím gonna have to quit going to see movies in the theaters or get a hearing aid. Iím tired of not being able to understand any of the dialogue when itís whispered or spoken in low tones. The movie was alright, I guess, but I wasnít really able to get into it.

American Splendor (2/7/04) DVD (****) I bought the DVD on sale at Fryís and watched it with the commentary track turned on. My only beef is I wish thereíd been more special features on the DVD. I wouldíve loved to have seen some deleted scenes or more behind-the-scenes footage.

The Truth About Cats and Dogs (2/16/04) DVD (***1/2) Proof positive that it doesn't take a lot of money to make a good movie. I just find Jeanine Garafalo adorable in the movie. Why is that?

X-2 (2/16/04) DVD (***1/2) Just really well-done comic book movie.

28 Days Later (2/28/04) DVD (***) Not as scary as I'd expected. I must be pretty damn jaded, huh? Horror is usually not my genre of choice, but I was in a funny mood.

Whale Rider (2/29/04) DVD (***1/2) Damn good movie, as good as I'd heard. But is it the kind of movie I'll ever want to watch again?

Hollywood Homicide (3/6/04) DVD (**1/2) Watchable, barely. God, I hope they don't make a sequel.

The Passion of the Christ (3/13/04) Century 12 (***1/2) Not as emotionally moving as I'd expected, but still excellent, albeit brutal. One couple in the audience left during the scourging scene.

Starsky and Hutch (3/20/04) Century 16 (***) Went with Amy. Better than I expected, really. It was another one of those "Irony remakes" of an old TV show, but I laughed out loud a few times and enjoyed it.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (3/20/04) Century 12 (***Ĺ) Itís not often that I go to a movie by myself and pay $9.25, but I was anxious to see "Eternal Sunshine." It was a true mind-fuck film and I liked it a lot.

Waking Life (3/20/04) DVD (****) After seeing "Eternal Sunshine," I was ready to fuck my mind a little more, so I watched "Waking Life" for the first time in a long time. I think I got more out of it this time. I think I was also a little inspired by it.

Spartan (3/21/04) Century 16 (***) I went to it because it was written by David Mamet. Smart dialogue, but the plot was borderline ridiculous.

Freaky Friday (3/21/04) DVD (***) Mindless, watchable, maudlin.

View From the Top (3/21/04) DVD (**1/2) Nothing really to recommend this movie. I'm not sure why I bought it, other than to see Gwenyth Paltrow in a stewardess uniform. Hmmm.

Holes (3/23/04) DVD (***1/4) Good kid's movie. I never read the book when I was a kid. Good story.

Jersey Girl (3/27/04) Century 12 (***) Pretty tame for a Kevin Smith movie.

The Ladykillers (3/28/04) Century 12 (***) Better than I expected, based on the reviews I'd read. Interesting.

Secondhand Lions (3/28/04) DVD (***) Yeah, I expected it to be corny as hell, and it was. Actually, the power went out right before the end of the movie.

The Haunting (3/29/04) ABC-TV (**) Yeesh. What the hell made me want to watch this movie, and interrupted by commercials, yet? Yeesh. The only cool thing about it was being in that big ol' house. I like houses with a lot of scale! Yeah!

Goodbye, Lenin (3/30/04) Aquarius (***) I went with a group from work. Sven worked on the effects. I liked the movie but the subject matter -- son caring for his mentally altered mother -- got to me more than a few times.

Without a Clue (4/3/04) DVD (**1/2) I picked it up at Fry's and used it to kill a couple of hours. It served that purpose quite well.

Hellboy (4/4/04) Century 12 (***) I really was in the mood for a brainless, well-produced comic-book adaptation summer movie. Hellboy was pretty okay as far as that goes, but never quite went any further.

The Good Girl (4/5/04) DVD (***) Okay, I am not really sure what the hell the point of this movie is. I liked the pace and tone, but it would've been a better movie without Jennifer Aniston in the lead.

Run Silent, Run Deep (4/6/04) DVD (***1/2) Surprisingly gripping. It's been a long time since I watched a WWII war film. Observation: Burt Lancaster moved with a strange grace. It was weird seeing Don Rickles in the movie.

Scooby Doo 2 (4/10/04) Century 12 (**Ĺ) Not bad, not good. Junky Saturday afternoon fare.

The Alamo (4/11/04) Century 12 (***1/4) Pretty damn good but not quite great. Billy Bob Thornton was superb as Davy Crockett.

Loony Tunes: Back in Action (4/11/04) DVD (***1/4) Really fun, well-done, well-directed feature. I bought it from the $10 used movie rack at Hollywood Video. I'd hedged and hawed, but decided to get it because it was directed by Joe Dante.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (4/12/04) Guild theater, Menlo Park (***1/2) I went with Belinda, and you know what? I liked the movie better the second time around. Even the ending seemed more optimistic. I think it's because I'm dating Belinda, and that's very weird.

A Mighty Wind (4/14/04) DVD (***1/2) There's a phrase in the song "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" that's still stuck in my head. I think I liked "A Mighty Wind" a bit better the second time around. I'm looking forward to watching all the deleted scenes on the DVD. Christopher Guest's movies are a hell of a lot of fun.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 (4/18/04) Century 12 (***) Went with Belinda. It was stylish in all ways and consistently fresh. Still, it seemed to drag a bit.

Man on Fire (4/24/04) AMC Theater, SF (***) Went with Belinda after her foreign service exam. Visual pyrotechnics got to me. The writing alternated between being really smart and really dumb.

Runaway Jury (5/1/04) DVD (***) Okay, I admit it. I went to Hollywood video and they had 3 movies for $25, and so I bought the following: Runaway Jury, Changing Lanes, Owning Mahoney, and Intolerable Cruelty. I figured the ones I didnít care for so much I could take into PDI and sell for $5 each and everybody wins that way, huh? Anyhow, of the four I think I actually enjoyed Runaway Jury the most. Why? I dunno. Lots of John Grisham twists and turns and it was fun watching Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman play off each other.

Changing Lanes (5/1/04) DVD (**Ĺ) The premise of this movie intrigued me, but the execution left something to be desired. I liked the concept of two good men "falling down," but Ben Affleck is just so unbelievable in the role. I didnít buy it for a second.

Owning Mahoney (5/1/04) DVD (***) My third movie in a single day. I was really junking out, huh? I just had a hard, hard time watching this film. Also, I was a little pissed off that there was no close captioning or subtitles on the film. What a f**king gyp!

Intolerable Cruelty (5/2/04) DVD (***) Pleasant and watchable enough, I suppose. Iím a little disappointed, what it being a Coen brother movie and all. I know, I know. Itís supposed to be a screwball comedy. You know what? Iíve never really liked screwball comedies. Theyíre all about rich people flaunting their wealth and falling down stairs and shit. Sorry, just not my cup of tea.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (5/3/04) DVD (***1/2) I hadn't watched this film in many, many years. But it still works, dammit. Matthew Broderick was damn near perfect, you know? Hell, whatever happened to that guy, anyhow? And what happened to John Hughes, for that matter?

Van Helsing (5/9/04) Century 12 (***) Far better than I expected it to be, considering the mixed reviews it's been getting. I kinda dug it as a tribute to all the Universal Studios movie monsters.

Girl, Interrupted (5/10/04) DVD (***) Oddly similar to "The Bell Jar" to the point where I wonder how much influence it had.

Troy (5/16/04) Century 12 (**3/4) Went with Belinda, who kept giggling through the movie. It was okay, but definitely laughable at points.

Spies Like Us (5/22/04) Belinda's DVD (**1/2) I think it's endearing that Belinda loves this movie so much. There are so many things wrong with it. I vaguely remember seeing it when it first came out. Man, that Chevy Chase mugs a lot!

Shrek 2 (5/23/04) Century 2 (***1/2) This is the second time I've seen it, the first time with a real audience. It was playing on four screens and the theater was full! I think I like the movie more now. It made $125M in the first five days. Will it have box office "legs"?

The Thin Man (5/23/04) Stanford Theater (***1/2) Went with Belinda, who loves this film. It really is wonderful watching William Powell and Myrna Loy. They really have great on-screen chemistry.

Rear Window (5/23/04) Stanford Theater (***1/2) It's been a while since I last saw "Rear Window." It's a damn good film, although the deliberateness of Hitchcock's constantly reminds me I'm watching a movie. Interesting.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (5/28/04) DVD (**Ĺ) (Sick) Yeah, I finally watched Stephen Norringtonís fuckiní movie. I hate to say it but it wasnít all bad. It was interesting watching the bonus feature-ettes. Heís not interviewed in them, of course.

Cheaper by the Dozen (5/28/04) DVD (***) (Sick) Not terrible. A good pick to watch while Iím sick. Definitely a pro-family family movie.

The Royal Tannenbaums (5/29/04) DVD (****) This is just a great, great movie. In my view it's nearly perfectly executed. I love the use of 1-point perspective. And how did they get the colors to look like that? This movie is high on my list of movies I wish I'd made.

The Day After Tomorrow (5/30/04) Century 16 (***) Watchable. Ridiculous dialogue and situations at times. Came in second to Shrek 2 during opening Memorial Day weekend. I was sick with a cold while I watched it.

Supersize Me (5/31/04) Palo Alto Square (***) Still sick. Pretty good but not great. Clearly attempting to do a Michael Moore thing. On the way home from the movie I stopped by Jack in the Box, so it must not have been super effective. ONGOING LISTS (6/5/04)

The Santa Clause 2 (6/6/04) DVD (**1/2) Uneven, clearly made-for-video Disney sequel, but pleasant. My favorite part was a scene where Santa gave all these middle-aged teachers toys from their childhood. "Toss Across" and "Rock-em, Sock-em Robots" brought back some great childhood memories. Cute line: "What's to figure out? It's Tic-Tac-Toe with bean bags."

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkadan (6/10/04) Century 12 (***) I think I liked this film a little less than the Chris Columbus ones. It was visually much darker.

Stuck on You (6/10/04) DVD (***) I liked this movie better as a movie than I expected. I remember Roger Ebert or somebody saying that this movie, for all its weird humor, really had its heart in the right place. And I think that's really true.

Saved! (6/11/04) Century 16 (***) Went with Belinda. It was good but not as good as it might have been had it been less afraid to take chances.

The Terminal (6/15/04) PDI Screening (***) Good but not great. Tom Hanks is always a pleasure to watch. Steven Spielberg has produced a great body of work, but it's clear when he's really trying and when he's not. It was a difficult premise to get to work, though, and somehow it does work, for the most part.

The Philadelphia Story (6/23/04) DVD (****) Just a great movie. Not a perfect movie, perhaps, but a great one. At times the dialogue sparkles with lines like: "I understand we have an understanding." It is definitely a play that's been made into a movie. The whole thing seems to take place on a stage. Jimmy Stewart has this crazy look in his eye at times, which is great fun to see. It's just about the seminal screwball comedy.

Fahrenheit 9/11 (6/26/04) Century 12 (***1/2) This movie made me really think. I wonder what the reaction is going to be. Will it stir enough interest to tip the scales in November? Iím proud to be an American and ashamed at the same time. When am I going to wake up and realize I have to give more back?

The Cooler (6/26/04) DVD (***) Pretty damn good for a movie shot in 21 days, huh? I found this movie about "lady luck" to be more engrossing than I expected.

Elephant (6/27/04) DVD (***) Interesting technique. The way the movie plays with time and expectations and everything is cool, but the long shots left me a little bored after awhile.

Bowling For Columbine (6/27/04) DVD (***Ĺ) Damn good movie, Michael Moore. I know itís slanted, but itís such a great use of the film medium. Iím glad Mr. Moore is out there making movies. I really am.

The Man Without a Past (6/27/04) DVD (**Ĺ) I wanted to like this movie. I really did. But I just didnít get it or really find it funny. Sorry.

Spider-Man 2 (7/2/04) Century 16 (***Ĺ) I went to see the first matinee of the morning and Kevin Rodgers showed up coincidentally. I thought the movie was better than the first one. It certainly didnít disappoint me. It will be interesting to see how much money it makes in the coming months!

Ghost World (7/2/04) DVD (***Ĺ) What a great movie. It rings so true. Itís such a pleasure to see Daniel Clowesí work adapted to the big screen. Right now I still canít get that damn Indian Rock & Roll music out of my head!!

Igby Goes Down (7/7/04) DVD (***) Kinda sorta like "Catcher in the Rye," I s'pose, even though I only read the Sallinger book once several years ago. After watching the movie, I'm hard-pressed to say what I was supposed to get out of it, though.

The Fog of War (7/10/04) DVD (***) I really wanted to love this Robert McNamara documentary. And it was beautifully executed. In particular the use of music was tremendous. Still, it left me wanting just a little more.

Spider-Man 2 (7/11/04) Century 12 (***Ĺ) Okay, I was going to go see Before Sunset, but decided to see Spidey instead. What can I say?

The Quiet American (7/11/04) DVD (***) I can see why Michael Caine was nominated for best actor. It's a damn good movie, but I don't know that I would want to see it again.

De-Lovely (7/14/04) Palo Alto Square (**1/2) I really wanted to like this movie, but it was kind of long and plodding and the sound volume in the theater was too low. Too bad. I love Cole Porter's music! My friend Kevin Rodgers saw it and his review was: "Before seeing the movie all I knew about Cole Porter was that he was a composer who slept with men. Afterwards all I knew about him was that he was a composer who slept with men." I pretty much agree with that.

I, Robot (7/16/04) Century 12 (**Ĺ) I went with Patrick while he was here visiting. I had expected the movie to be God-awful, and it wasnít that. It did, however, have me rolling my eyes more than a couple of times. As I sat in the audience, I wondered about Asimovís "3 laws" and how this film was connected by association with Bicentennial Man. And yet theyíre very different. How did this movie get made? I donít have the answer to that.

The Door in the Floor (7/18/04) Century 16 (***) Of course I was very familiar with the source material, having read A Widow for One Year a couple of times. This film adaptation of the first third of the book was certainly faithful. I just wonder if it makes for a great movie.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (7/18/04) DVD (***1/2) I'm afraid I watched this movie in bits and pieces over the course of about a week. Still, it was pretty damn good. I don't know what it is about certain movies like this (and Gladiator), but when I saw the trailer for MaC:TFDotW I thought "there is nothing that makes me want to see that movie." But I knew all the same that if I actually did sit down and watch it that I'd enjoy it. And I did. Russell Crowe really is a tremendous actor.

Frequency (7/22/04) DVD (***) I didn't mean to watch the whole thing, but I got kinda pulled into it. Gotta love that whole time-traveling bit, huh?

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (7/25/04) Century 12 (***) Enjoyable, but not as hearty as, say, "Elf." My favorite part of the movie was the series of non-sequitors by the weatherman with the I.Q. of 48.

Shark Tale (8/4/04) Century 12 (**1/2) This was a 75% screening. I knew I was going to be too close to this one and I was. I thought it was awful. It opened with some really lame-ass gags and didn't get much better. I think the critics are going to rip it to shreds. I only hope it doesn't completely belly-flop at the box office, although it probably deserves to.

The Bourne Supremacy (8/4/04) Century 12 (***) I went with Belinda and I think she got her "spy fix" for the week. It was pretty good and engaging, although the shaky camera got to me. There were some scenes (like a brutal fight scene) where it was hard to tell what was going on. It was a cool effect, though, and I'm sure I'll see it in more movies.

Little Nicky (8/5/04) TV - Fox (**) Adam Sandler as the son of Satan. I was watching this movie as part of an avoidance tactic: I should have been doing anything else (in preparation for my move) between 8-10pm, but I wasn't. The movie wasn't horrible but I never really want to see it ever again.

Collateral (8/22/04) Century 12 (***) I liked it but so much of the dialogue was muddy and hard to hear.

Butterfly Effect (8/23/04) DVD (***) Interesting. Different than I expected. I don't think Ashton Kusher can act worth a lick, though -- he was just distracting and the movie would have been better with someone else in the lead.

The Village (8/24/04) Century 12 (**1/2) I really wanted to like this movie, but Roger Ebert was right: At the end you find your self clutching at air. I didn't hate it, but it was sure as hell disappointing. I had guessed at the "twist" ending before going to the movie.

Love, Actually (8/26/04) DVD (***) I put this video on after a couple hours of hard packing work. I didn't intend to watch the whole thing, but I did. It's longer than I would have expected and more lightweight. I wonder how the Brits feel about Hugh Grant playing the Prime Minister?

Garden State (9/2/04) Century 16 (***1/2) Went with Belinda. My last movie at the theater in Mountain View, I guess. I liked it a lot and got fairly emotional afterwards. I identified with the main character, of course.

Suspect Zero (9/3/04) Century 12 (**1/2) Watchable, I suppose. I needed a way to kill time while the cleaners were at my place. So that's what I did.

Mystery Men (9/8/04) DVD (***1/2) First DVD watched in my new place. I was pretty tired. Good film, although I was more sensitive to the choice of odd camera angles this time around. Did the director know what he was doing?

Abbott and Costello: Hit the Ice (9/11/04) DVD (***) I was at Fryís and was wishing somebody had produced a DVD full of high-quality Abbott and Costello movies, and lo and behold it turned out somebody had! The quality is great and theyíre closed-captioned and everything! I am so happy. It was like turning back the years to when I was a kid and used to relish watching their old movies on Saturday or Sunday afternoons.

Abbott and Costello: High Society (9/11/04) DVD (***) Iím not really sure how well A&Cís movies hold up, you know? I love them because I loved them as a kid, but would kids today enjoy them or not? Maybe they would. Thereís something pure about the archetypes they represent. I still love the physical humor.

The Virgin Suicides (9/11/04) DVD (***) Kind of a weird follow-up to 2 Abbott and Costello movies, huh? This was Sophia Copolaís first film, which was the main reason I bought it. I liked it, I guess, but I donít feel like I can really relate to it. I suppose thatís in part the point, right? Like the character said, Iíve never been a 13-year-old girl.

Abbott and Costello: Here Come the Co-eds (9/12/04) DVD (***) Another fun movie I hadn't seen for years and years. It was weird seeing and hearing Lou Costello sing. He doesn't have much of a singing voice.

Abbott and Costello: The Naughty Nineties (9/12/04) DVD (***) My fourth A&C film. This one is best known for having their "Who's on First" bit in its entirety. Great fun!

Pennies From Heaven (9/13/04) DVD (***1/2) I have such a soft place in my heart for this movie. There are some films that have simply burned themselves into my brain. My memories of "P from H" are mixed up with going to see it at the Omaha Cinema Center by Grandma and Grandpa's house. I remember loving it so much I went to see it a second time.

Abbott and Costello: The Little Giant (9/13/04) DVD (***) This is the first A&C movie where they mixed up the formula by focusing on Lou. He's even given some dramatic acting to do, which I think works fairly effectively. I am so glad I bought these DVDs!

Abbott and Costello: The Time of Their Lives (9/14/04) DVD (***1/2) There is something about this movie that just works great. It's another film in which they varied from the original "bit" formula, and Abbott and Costello don't spend so much time onscreen together. Most of the humor is definitely focused on Lou.

Abbott and Costello: Buck Privates Come Home (9/15/04) DVD (***1/2) Another one of their best films, I think. This is the 7th A&C film I've watched. I ordered 2 more sets of 8 films from Amazon.com. I'm looking forward to them, that's for sure. There's just something so comforting about watching these old classics.

Abbott and Costello: The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (9/24/04) DVD (***) Co-stars Marjorie Main from "The Egg and I." It was fun getting to see Lou boss Bud around for a bit. Man, I must be some serious kinda geek.

A Dirty Shame (9/25/04) Los Feliz (**1/2) Man, I don't know whether to recommend this movie or not. It's rated NC-17, and for a reason. There's not much in the way of actual sex, but an awful lot of talk about it. I worry for Tracy Ullman. I always liked her and wonder what this movie is going to do to her career, such as it is.

Abbott and Costello: A Night in the Tropics (9//25/04) DVD (***) This was Bud & Lou's first film and they're not at its center. I was surprised to see Bob Cummings as one of the main characters. They do a portion of "Who's on First" and I can totally see why it had people cracking up in their day.

Shark Tale (9/26/04) Universal Citywalk Theater (***1/2) "Friends and Family" screening. This movie is growing on me. I don't know why. I think I'm too close to it to judge it objectively. Dang.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (9/26/04) Universal Citywalk Theater (***) This movie tries hard but just doesn't succeed for me. Part of the reason I really wanted to see it is Roger Ebert gave it four stars, which is unusual. It's too bad, really. I really wanted to like it. I found the visuals distracting and the story... simply weak. Weak set pieces tied together with a weak story. The film is not making much at the box office, either. There were only about ten people in the audience when I went to see it.

Abbott and Costello: Buck Privates (9/27/04) DVD (***1/2) A&C's first "starring" picture. The production notes said that it made $4M at the box office, which at the time was the highest-grossing film in Universal's history. It's easy to see the appeal, even if the pro-army message is a bit hard to take in times like these.

Jerry McGuire (10/2/04) DVD-Belinda's (***1/2) This is just a really good movie. I hadn't seen it for a few years. Man, Renee Zellwegger was cute!

Abbott and Costello: In the Navy (10/9/04) DVD (***) Great A&C hijinx, even if they were a tad derivative of Buck Privates.

Shaun of the Dead (10/9/04) Los Feliz 3 (***) I went largely on Robertís recommendation. He and I donít always see eye to eye on movies. I liked it okay. It was entertaining throughout.

Abbott and Costello: Hold that Ghost (10/9/04) DVD (***Ĺ) Boy do I remember this movie growing up. It was one of the staples of "Creature Feature." I think it still holds up pretty damn well.

21 Grams (10/10/04) DVD (***) Interesting, time-fractured story. In part the fun is figuring out what the story is, but it wasn't really that hard.

Maria Full of Grace (10/11/04) DW Screening (***) Very moving story about "coming to America," but I'm not sure I would want to watch it again.

Team America (10/16/04) Los Feliz 3 (***) Good, entertaining. Funnier than I expected.

Abbott and Costello: Ride 'Em Cowboy (10/23/04) DVD (**1/2) I hate to say it, but I think Ride 'Em Cowboy shows A&C running out of steam.

I (Heart) Huckabees (10/23/04) Los Feliz 3 (***) An "existential comedy" that works maybe 70% of the time. It was fun seeing Lily Tomlin running around taking photos with a Casio Exilim!

Ray (10/31/04) Van Ness AMC, SF (***) Much has been said about Jamie Foxx's uncanny performance. I truly did forget I was watching an actor and not Ray Charles himself. As for the movie, it felt long and lacked a real depth. The litmus test for these kinds of movies is whether you feel you've gained an understanding of the subject by film's end, and I didn't really.

The Incredibles (11/5/04) ASIFA Screening, Writer's Guild Theater, Beverly Hills (****) Oh yeah! Pixar raised the bar again with what I believe to be the best computer animated film of all time. And what a movie! The whole thing was just fucking inspirational, and it was fun seeing it with an audience made up of my peers.

Birth (11/7/04) Los Feliz 3 (***) Interesting, slow-moving. The subject matter was interesting but not necessarily enough to sustain an entire movie. The ending sort of dissolves into a resolution that is not really resolving anything. Nicole Kidman was sensational, though.

The Flesh Merchants (11/13/04) DVD (**) At 60 minutes in length, this barely constitutes a movie. 1950's exploitation at its most mediocre, this film had its moments but I couldn't really recommend it.

The Day of the Locust (11/20/04) DVD (**Ĺ) This 1975 movie about Hollywood in the 1930ís was especially fun to watch because it concludes with a dramatic scene (a riot) in front of Graumanís Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd. And earlier that day Iíd actually been there taking photos! One of the oddest things is that the Donald Sutherland character is named Homer Simpson. In general I thought the film was overwrought and long and none of the characters were likable. Iíve never been that crazy about Karen Black as an actress. So I guess thatís a regrettable thumbs down.

The Country Girl (11/2?/04) DVD (***1/2) It's nice when you discover a "classic" movie you've never seen before, and that's what happened with "The Country Girl." I bought it at Best Buy for $10 just on a hunch and because the cover said it won a couple of Oscars. It was overwrought and dipped into melodrama a few times, but it was sure good.

The Night Stalker (11/30/04) DVD (***) It's been years since I watched "The Night Stalker." It's not bad for a TV movie shot in 12 days. True, there are some pretty gaping holes in the script. It's like I knew what they were trying to do but weren't entirely successful. It did bring back some pretty happy childhood memories, though. I was so scared by it. I wonder why?

Sideways (12/1/04) Los Feliz 3 (***) This was an interesting movie. Written and directed by the Omahan native that penned "About Schmidt", it's not a simple movie. There's a lot of stuff going on there. Paul Giomatti does an excellent job as an alcoholic schoolteacher with dreams of being a writer.

Kinsey (12/2/04) Los Feliz 3 (***1/2) Liam Neeson was sensational in this biopic about a key player in the sexual history of America. The frank talk about sex was established early on and made for some interesting dialogue.

Finding Neverland (12/5/04) AMC San Francisco (***1/2) It's been a week for good movies, huh? Belinda and I went to see this on a Sunday afternoon. I had an awful lot of trouble hearing, unfortunately, but what I did hear really got to me. At times I found myself sobbing like a little baby. But the funny thing is I didn't feel emotionally manipulated like I would in a lesser film. I also thought the staging was especially fresh. There were great camera angles and touches that makes me want to see more by this director.

The Night Strangler (12/22/04) DVD (***) Ah, hell. What's not to like about Carl Kolchak, really? Directed by Dark Shadows' Dan Curtis, I think I liked this even more than its predecessor, "The Night Stalker." I do have to say that the movie does contain a lot of scenes of people yelling at each other.

Ocean's Twelve (12/22/04) Los Feliz 3 (***) Watchable, I guess. The direction was above average, but that's what I would expect from Stephen Soderberg. Certainly some stylish production planning went into the film, but... ultimately something was missing. But the important thing is it looked like George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, and Mark Damon and others were having a good time, and isn't that really what's most important?

Meet the Fockers (12/23/04) Los Feliz 3 (***) They let us out of work early and so I went to a matinee. I didnít expect much, but it was more entertaining than I anticipated. Someday maybe I should see the first movie, huh?

The Aviator (12/25/04) Mann 4 (***1/2) Another great film from Martin Scorcese. I only wish the projector had been in sharp focus for the entire movie.

The Life Aquatic (12/25/04) Los Feliz 3 (***) Of course I wanted to like this movie more. I loved Wes Andersonís The Royal Tannenbaums and feel it was a near-perfect film. It was fun seeing Bud Cort again.

The House of Sand and Fog (12/26/04) DVD (***) Good, gripping melodrama. Do I ever really want to see it again? Probably not.