Friday, February 01, 2008

Rocket Science is a small film that has received a great deal of critical praise. The story is about a teenaged boy with a bad stutter who a teenaged girl convinces to join the school debate team. The movie has its moments but overall it didn't work for me. The biggest problem, among many, is that I never felt the "debates" had any weight. In the documentary Spellbound, I got caught up the contest -- the National Spelling competition was as important as the World Series, the Super Bowl, or a championship boxing match. The stakes and the competitors were clear. The chess movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer, is a great example. Rocket Science didn't come close and the characters didn't seem to grow or change.

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I also saw Captain Blood (1935). This old swashbuckler with Errol Flynn, Olivia deHavilland, and Basil Rathbone was fun. Okay, it's corny at times and looks like the studio-bound film it is but it's enjoyable. It was Flynn and deHavilland's first film together and there is an obvious chemistry between the two. The cool sword duel between Flynn and Rathbone was filmed in Laguna Beach. (I've been to that beach.)

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Grand Tour: Disaster in Time (1992) is with Jeff Daniels and is a low-budget affair. It's not a great movie but it's intriguing and watchable. The basic premise is that Daniels (owner of a bed-and-breakfast inn) discovers his guests are time-travelers from the future who are on a junket visiting great natural disasters. Fun stuff.

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Croupier (1998) with Clive Owen is an anomoly. The noir story is just OK but the ending is terrific. The other thing that's cool is that Chandler set the standard for noir with his "a good man walking the mean streets" adage but Owen's character isn't a good man or, even, a bad man. He is a man who doesn't care. No matter what happens, that gene is missing from his character and that made the film different. An interesting rental.

(No reason for the Jennifer Connelly picture. Just cause.)

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