With all the hype this movie had received, and with the assurance of Charlize Theron's Best Actress win (which she did), Juliette and I were very intrigued to see this film. It managed to fall short of expectations. We concluded that a lot of Theron's buzz must have been because of the way she changed her appearance for the role. Don't get me wrong, she did a very good job and was very convincing in her performance. I just didn't find it to be particularly amazing. Meanwhile, Christina Ricci was possibly as good as Theron, but she's been quite overlooked. But the biggest disappointment was the film itself. I just didn't get anything from it. It didn't take much of a stance on the subject of Aileen Wuornos or her crimes, and for the life of me I can't figure out why anyone would find this story compelling enough to want to make this movie.
Viewed: 2/26/2004 | Released: 11/15/2003 | Score: C
The Years of Rice and Salt
By Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson has been sort of hit or miss with me before. Some of his books keep me up reading into the wee hours of the morning. Some are a struggle. This book was kind of both for me. The idea of the book--what the world might have been like if Europe had been completely wiped out by the Black Plague--fascinated me. Robinson has a real gift for alternate timelines, as evidenced by his Three Californias series. The problem is that the scope of the book is so sweeping that it's a little difficult to get involved with the characters. When the story arc covers multiple centuries, individual lives tend to become a little less important. So it was hard for me to really connect with the book. On top of that, much of the book involves long discussions of the nature of history, and while the ideas were interesting, it didn't make for an exciting read. Fortunately, something about the ending resonated with me, so I walked away from this book with a good feeling.
Started: 1/3/2004 | Finished: 2/14/2004
I have been meaning to see Mystic River for months now. With the Oscars looming so close, I finally got around to it, and I'm glad I did. This film was described to me as a Boston Irish version of The Godfather, and I think it's an apt comparison. It's not really a mafia movie--in some ways the movie isn't really about crime at all, though the central action revolves around a crime--so there are lots of differences. But both films are deeply concerned with family. Clint Eastwood really brought the film to life, and he did so with a humility you rarely see in film drama today. Sean Penn gave a masterful performance, and even though I think he'll lose the Oscar to Bill Murray, I still think his nomination was richly deserved. Kevin Bacon was also very good, although his performance was subtle enough that it almost gets lost beside Penn. The weakest link was Tim Robbins. I really don't understand why he was nominated for Supporting Actor; his performance was too one-dimensional, and that one dimension was completely overdone. Even so, the film is good enough to overcome that one weakness, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested.
Viewed: 2/13/2004 | Released: 10/2/2003 | Score: A
50 First Dates
People go to an Adam Sandler film expecting to laugh, and maybe to walk away feeling good at the end of the movie. I've always found that his movies have quite a lot of heart. This one, though, was surprisingly mature. I really expected it to be awful, but the love story at the core of this film was both tragic and heartwarming. Yes, there was a certain amount of the bathroom humor you expect from a Sandler film, but it almost seemed out of place here. The on-screen chemistry between Sandler and Drew Barrymore was wonderful, too. I think it's possible that they may become the new Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Viewed: 2/12/2004 | Released: 2/12/2004 | Score: a