Thursday, January 24, 2008

Movie Reviews

I've got absolutely nothing to say today. I'm sleepy and groggy and feel like I've been out drinking (I haven't, unfortunately). So here are some movies I've seen recently and a quick note about a new show that I caught on Fox last night.

Eastern Promises: Another stunner from David Cronenberg. Seedy, depressing, violent, and hopeful. Viggo Mortenson gives the performance of the year and his career as a Russian chauffeur/hitman who menaces, helps, kills, and tutors. As a bonus, it contains one of the more disturbing fight scenes ever filmed. Both from a violence aspect and a 'I really didn't need to see Viggo Mortensen's naked ass in that position' aspect. A movie that's going to stick with me for a long time.

The Guardian: Another damaged, older man (this time Kevin Costner), tutors rebellious, arrogant younger version of himself (this time Ashton Kutcher) and they both become better men because of it. Enough already. We've seen this movie in about 50 different variations at this point. That said, this wasn't that bad. Both actors do a decent job (Costner is becoming the expert at playing the quiet, intense, older guy) and the story certainly made me respect the Coast Guard more than ever. Oh, the very ending is a groaner. Just thought you should know.

Bridge to Terabithia: I watched this with my seven year old thinking it was some sort of fantasy movie like 'Chronicles of Narnia' but, man alive was I wrong. It has a nice anti-bullying story, but - without giving too much away - there is a dramatic turn of events that makes this cute, engaging, best friend's forever story much darker and more thought provoking. Seven year old had many, many questions about it, but I'll take that as a good thing. Not often a movie initiates conversations between father and son regarding the meaning of life and death.

Shooter: Not bad. A bit implausible plotwise, but it was diverting and violent enough to make the over long length (2 plus hours) bearable. Would have worked better as a 90 - 100 minute nonstop action flick. I liked how they got into the specifics of being a sniper, as well. One distraction: I don't know if he got new dentures or was just being creative with his character, but Danny Glover plays his character with a noticeable and distracting lisp. No idea what that's all about, but it was hard to take him seriously listening to him. Well done, overall, though.

Last night Fox unveiled one of the most hype shows in recent memory. It was that lie detector show 'Moment of Truth' where people have to answer embarrassing, potentially damaging questions to win money. Needless to say I wanted to see how this turned out.

Here's the idea. Contestants take a lie detector test before they come onto the show. They are asked over 50 questions and their answers are analyzed. Then they come on national television where they are asked those same questions in front of a studio audience, friends and family. If they answer the first 6 questions 'truthfully' they get $10,000. If they answer the next 5, $25,000 and so on, up to $500,000.

Last night they had on a personal trainer who they kept calling 'an ex pro football player' but they never said what that meant. No NFL teams were ever mentioned. The first questions were entertaining enough; 'Did you ever sneak a peak at a teammate in the showers?', 'Do you think you're the best looking of all your friends', but when the second round began there was a noticeable shift in comfort. Questions ranged from 'Have you ever suspected a friend of making a move on your wife?' (Yes) and 'Are you delaying having children because you aren't sure your wife will be your lifelong partner?' (Yes - and OUCH!).

These questions quickly became squirm inducing because his wife was SITTING RIGHT THERE!!! Whatever. I'm ashamed to admit I was sucked in by this show, but two things bothered me.

First, even on the stupidest question, there is an overly long dramatic pause before some woman's voice says whether his answer is true or false.

Second, this is a lie detector we're talking about. It isn't foolproof nor is it reliable. There is a reason the courts don't let results into trial. The question the first guy lost on was this: 'Have you ever touched a woman more than necessary when training her?' He answered no, but it was decided he was not telling the truth. That question is open to all sorts of interpretation. What is considered 'more than necessary'? Are his definitions the same as the person asking the question? I think what threw me was how honest this guy was with other questions. His wife was not happy at all, so this question was not the worst he had already answered.

The producers have given themselves an out for nearly every show. They can just say 'Nope, you're lying' and get out of giving anyone any money. How will the contestants know any different?

I'm recommending some changes. First, pick up the pace. We don't need a three minute pause to find out if he ever checked himself out in a mirror. Second, make it so if they answer the first 6 questions they are guaranteed $10,000. As it stands now, if they continue and are found to be dishonest they leave with nothing. They should at least get the ten grand for having the balls to get out there in the first place, especially with something as questionable as a lie dectector deciding their fate.

Verdict: It could be an entertaining diversion until the writers get back to work, but most likely you'll feel like showering when it's over.


Today's distraction: How to become a human lie detector. I'm practicing this on my boys this weekend.

Hey! Just found out Mortenson was nominated for Best Actor for 'Eastern Promises'. Well deserved.

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