30 June 2011

30 June - "What kind of insects do you rejoice in?"

Alice Through the Looking Glass (TV movie) (1998)
dir. John Henderson
Kate Beckinsale (Underworld, 2003)
Steve Coogan (Marie Antoinette, 2006)
Ian Holm (From Hell, 2001)

I find this movie much more satisfying than the recently released Tim Burton film, Alice in Wonderland.

The first point I'd like to make is that Alice and Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, is a story that doesn't really have a moral or an overarching theme. It's nonsense. It's clever nonsense, there are some good points worked into there, but it's not a coming-of-age-story, it's not a heroic journey, there's no take-home lesson. Deal with it.

The TV version is very true to that insanity. Unlike Tim Burton's or the Disney version, this film adaptation doesn't mix up Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, which are two separate books. The latter has a very obvious chessboard theme.

In many ways I thought that Tim Burton very overtly borrowed from this lesser-known adaptation. The most obvious carry-through would be the frequent costume changes. In this movie, Alice's outfit changes slightly (beginning with the classic blue dress with white pinafore) every time she advances a space on the chessboard. Here she is looking up at Humpty Dumpty, wearing a lavender thing with puffy sleeves. She makes me want long hair so badly.

Through the Looking Glass is very much a book of poems, including the well known 'Walrus and the Carpenter.' These are the parts I can remember without looking it up.
The sun was shining on the sea
Shining with all it's might,
and this was very odd because
it was the middle of the night

The moon was shining sulkily,
because she thought the sun
had got no business being there
after the day was done
The Walrus and the Carpenter
were walking hand in hand
they wept quite bitterly to see
such quantities of sand

"If seven maids with seven mops,
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose?" The Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
and shed a bitter tear.
"The time has come," The Walrus said,
"To talk of many things,
of ships and seas and sealing wax,
of cabbages and kings
and if the sea is boiling hot,
and whether pigs have wings."

It's a very long poem, if you've read the story, you might recall that this is the poem related to Alice by Tweedledum and Tweedledee. This movie handles the recitations, and the costumes, quite beautifully. My favorite is the one told by Ian Holm. The only one I missed was "You are Old, Father William," which I think was my favorite in the book (having been given a leather bound copy of the collected works of Lewis Carroll with gold-edged pages as a child, I've not only read the Alice stories extensively, but also the even weirder shit, like Sylvie and Bruno, and I think some of those stories were just extra-involved word problems in math.

29 June - "Ain't you glad the sun kinda sets. Prepares you like?"

Dead Man (1995)
dir. Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers, 2005)

Johnny Depp (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, 1993)
Gary Farmer (Smoke Signals, 1998)
Crispin Glover (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, 1993)
Lance Henriksen (Cyrus, 2010)
Robert Mitchum (Scrooged, 1988)
Iggy Pop (Tank Girl, 1995)
Billy Bob Thornton (Love Actually, 2003)
Alfred Molina (The Da Vinci Code, 2006)
Jared Harris (From Within, 2008)
Gabriel Bryne (Stigmata, 1999)

The hard part, sometimes, is figuring out what's supposed to be symbolic and what's just a detail thrown in to just mess with your head. Dead Man is a movie like that. It begins with a silent and seemingly endless train ride in which the surroundings become more and more alien. Johnny Depp is wearing a very silly looking plaid suit in a caricature of propriety, the dignified man reduced to a fool. He checks his watch as if it matters. The lonesome twanging rhythmless music contributes to the feeling that something is always just about ot happen, but it never does and altogether the frustrated anticipation confirms the suspicion that, yes, this is what Limbo will be like.

A few weeks ago I met Gary Farmer at the Cayuga Picnic on the Share Farm at the northern tip of Lake Cayuga, New York. I was too shy to say hello but someone I was with pushed me up anyway and introduced me- even though Gary Farmer was right in the middle of eating!! I was totally flustered and tried not to say anything at all lest it come out in garbled nonsense syllables (something that happens only in cartoons and in my life). Here's the picture:
And here he is in Dead Man, tending to William Blake's bullet wound.
Gary Farmer's character in Dead Man, Nobody, is on the most basic level an Indian guide. However, in keeping with the bizarre tone of the rest of the film, Nobody is alternatively arcane and vulgar. At times he's bonking a chick in the middle of the woods and scolding William Blake for interrupting "a very romantic moment," and at other times he's reciting poetry and speaking in mysterious allegories. The line I keep going back to is this,

"Things which are alike in nature grow to look alike, and the speaking stones have lain a long time looking at the sun...Some believe they descend with the lightening, but I believe they are on the ground and are projected downward by the bolt."

Because I haven't quite yet figured out what this movie is supposed to mean (And I am determined as Hell to prove that it means something). I keep going back to that line and trying to figure out how it relates to the rest of the story.

The most obvious interpretation of Dead Man is that, like Lost or The Sixth Sense, Dead Man is about a man traveling into the afterlife. I prefer to think that William Blake does not die in the physical sense when he is shot by the factory owner's son, but that Dead Man is about learning to walk with dignity through life that may indeed take you on a path "through endless night."

I've this theory for a while that the recreational abuse of certain mind-altering substances has to do with a cultural mindset that is alienated from the transcendental state. That sounds wordy. I mean that because drugs like tobacco or alcohol or mushrooms or whatever have been traditionally used in ceremonies in order to access powers or spirits or knowledge which exists beyond and above the everyday world. It was controlled, it was mediated, and so maybe people abuse them because they are trying to access that transcendent state but they don't even why or how or the reason. So what happens in Dead Man is that everybody keeps asking William Blake for some tobacco and he keeps saying, No! I don't smoke! And when he finally gets some it's from a MISSIONARY! Don't you see what's happening?

He's trying to find God, but realizing that life nor death nor afterlife is straightforward like a westward train track. God is conflated in culture and nature but these things are as stones on the ground while the spirit ascends like smoke in a twisting cloud. 

So I don't think Dead Man is about death, I think it's navigating life. Nobody is the benevolent, but sometimes absent and confused Spirit of Goodness, and the bounty hunter, Cole is the force of darkness, the black devourer of souls. What Nobody implies by his speech about the speaking stones is that we are delivered upon this earth with a plan, no, nothing about William Blake's plan turned out successfully, but we find ourselves on the earth and what happens next is up to you.

More than anything, I would like to emphasize that this film is very visually striking.

27 June 2011

27 June - "The little statue speaks"

Kiss of the Dragon (2001)
dir. Chris Nahon
Jet Li (The Warlords, 2007)
Bridget Fonda (Rough Magic, 1995)
Tchéky Karyo (The Patriot, 2000)

I have to add Jet Li to my list of actor crushes, because that guy is so cute. Kiss of the Dragon is about a Chinese cop who is framed for a murder by a French cop. This movie has it all, Jet Li acting like he has no personality, Bridget Fonda as an American prostitute with a 12% plausible excuse for being in France, French ninjas...and so much more!

It's a Jet Li movie, so what you really want to see is a bunch of awesome martial arts, and wow, do they provide. I liked Kiss of the Dragon almost as much as District B13. Early on they find an excuse in the plot for why Jet Li doesn't have any guns, and so he just wails on everybody for like 45 minutes with whatever's at hand. He's like a tiny tornado of fury!

This still reminds me of a fella I used to date, sorry about the awful quality. Jet Li is short, that's what I'm trying to emphasize here. Although the contrast wasn't quite so stark between me and my former beau, because he didn't let me wear high heels :P
So the characters and plot lacked a bit of depth, but there were plenty of great setups for fight scenes. Like after Jet Li beats up Lupo the pimp and his cronies, this big black shows up out of no where and takes off his shirt! And all this is before Jet Li figures out that Bridget Fonda is the hooker who witnessed the murder he's being framed for!
Later, Jet Li finds a whole room full of ninjas, somehow, for some reason, they were all practicing together or something in a room adjacent to the villain's headquarters. This scene really made no sense whatsoever.

Of course Jet Li kicks all their butts!

24 June 2011

June 24 - "But the universe is designed to break your heart, right?"

Must Love Dogs (2005)
dir. Gary David Goldberg

Diane Lane - The Outsiders (1983)
John Cusack - Serendipity (2001)
Elizabeth Perkins - Finding Nemo,voice (2003)
Christopher Plummer - The New World (2005)
Stockard Channing - Where the Heart is (2000)
Dermot Mulroney - Burn After Reading (2008)
Julie Gonzalo - Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
Glenn Howerton - Serenity (2005)
Patrick Fabian
Victor Webster - Bringing Down the House (2003)

I picked this movie tonight because it was one of seven that aren't on my external hard drive, which I have to stand up and plug into the laptop if I want to use. I also picked this because the others are action movies like Kiss of the Dragon or thinky movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey (Check back for reviews on those movies next month, kids!), which normally I like but earlier today I got a little bit teary-eyed at work when one document seemed too similar to another document and I asked one of the other guys if one was supposed to be a more recent draft of the other and he didn't understand because they have different titles but I was like, look! The introductions are NEARLY VERBATIM and then I felt overwhelmed. So I've decided that I'm hormonal and decided to indulge my monthly surge of femininity by painting my toenails pink (even though I've been wearing hiking books every day for the past month) and watching John Cusack fall in love with Diane Lane.

It makes me feel a wistful because I don't have anyone to pine over at the moment.

Well, no one who deserves it, and anyway, I wouldn't call it pining.

So I've decided to start adding screenshots to my posts, because I learned how to do screenshots. Also, if anyone wants to give me a prezzie, how about some picture editing software, because I have to copy/paste into microsoft paint and then "save as" a .jpeg. It's a little tedious. This is how I add flair to my blog: sad looking John Cusack with puppy:

I heard that pictures of dogs will get you more hits on search engines. Check out that West Highland Terrier! ANYWAY. As far as romantic comedies go, this one didn't really bring anything new to the table, but I wasn't really annoyed by it either, so that's something. John Cusack played that same quirky, philosophical, snarky character who is bummed out because some chick isn't into him, as he always does, but that was okay. In a nutshell, Lane is a divorced woman looking for a new beau, and so she has this back-and-forth between the dad of one of her students and a guy she meets online, and the guy who's on the movie poster is the one she ends up with. There are some misunderstandings in the middle, but for some reason no one thinks to just explain what's really going on (they never do...) and so we have "conflict."

I was curious where Cusack's character was supposed to be getting his money from. He was supposed to be making sculls out of wood, but he hadn't sold any yet and he didn't have another job. Nobody explained that.

It was a pleasant movie. It's banal. I like Someone like You better. I like Clueless even better than that. I guess sometimes you've just feel like watching a movie which doesn't require any thinking. This was good for that. But sometimes I want to pull my brains through my ear with chopsticks because so little thought was put into the creation of this so-called "entertainment" and for that reason I would do well to remember to stop watching movies like this.

18 June 2011

16 June - "Without Green Destiny, you are nothing!"

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
dir. Ang Lee (Lust, Caution, 2007)
Chow Yun Fat (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, 2007)
Michelle Yeoh (Sunshine, 2007)
Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005)

The first time I saw this movie, I was about ten years younger and I though to myself - Aww dang, a subtitled movie :(

But by the end I was totally engrossed, I forgot that I was reading and just got lost in the story. But I still must have been hopping around my bedroom because somehow I missed that whole romance between Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat, which was lovely and tragic.

It reminded of someone saying, and I probably heard this in another movie, that you have to be even braver to make the decision to be happy, because it's always easier to make no decision and keep being frustrated*. These folks are making the easy choices, choosing to empower the status quo rather than admitting that they would be happier doing something else.

The primary conflict is created by a rogue warrior, the Jade Fox, a woman who turned bad because the teacher of wutan (their flying-around fighting style) kept her around as a consort but would not teach her the secrets of fighting, and so she stole the book and took a wealthy bureaucrats daughter as her apprentice. The student soon outmatches her teacher, but is uncertain whether she want's the pursue the path of her wayward teacher, flee with her true love - a bandit king from the desert - or stay at home and get married. She leans toward the latter option until she get in over her head stealing the sword of Green Destiny.

I'm trying to think of lesson, or to relate this to my own life somehow. Maybe it's something like the way you don't get the chance to make everything right until it's too late. Maybe the important thing was the way the warriors were able to float up walls and fight on the tops of bamboo branches. It might be a metaphor for being untethered to the world, the freedom of being unbound by custom, and yet the inability to create a bond with anyone else. Which might be why the young girl wasn't able to be with her love, because it was too late to undo the things that had been done.

The end was very sad.

* I remembered! It was Kamikaze Girls - A really great movie

17 June - "The bartender never gets killed"

Desperado (1995)
dir. Robert Rodriguez (The Faculty, 1998)
Antonio Banderas (Shrek 2 (voice), 2004)
Salma Hayak (From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996)
Cheech Marin (From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996)
Steve Buscemi (Big Fish, 2003)
Quentin Tarantino (From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996)
Danny Trejo (Heat, 1995)

I said to somebody the other day, "I don't usually like Quentin Tarantino movies, but Desperado is pretty cool." and he says that Desperado wasn't directed by Quentin Tarantino, but by his buddy, Robert Rodriguez, and so it is! I'm not crazy about Rodriguex either, but Desperado doesn't get chintzy until the very end, when two guys inexplicably start shooting through machine guns shaped like guitar cases and the realism gets lost.

I thought I was the kind of person who liked camp, though. I like Buffy the Vampire Slayer... I'm not sure what the toxic element here is. I suppose it's disappointing when the awesome revenge killings turn into something stupid that only appeals to the perverse reaction to thrilling violence.

Truth be told, there's a lot of superfluous details in this movie, and I've said before that I'm conservative when it comes to plotlines (except when Wes Anderson is involved). So, Danny Trejo's character, he's confusing, where does he come from? What's the deal with those throwing knives? There's also that chick who hangs around Bucho, you get the sense that she's a little more competent than the other roughs, why doesn't she have any lines? What's her deal? These directors (Rodriguez and Tarantino), I get the sense that they are like children throwing in details - What if this was like this? What if?? - but not sticking with them until the end. Development, you guys? Depth?

So maybe I don't like Desperado as much as I thought I did. Maybe I just like Antonio Banderas.

16 June 2011

15 June - "Back of the car, not a rear-entry situation"

Burn After Reading (2008)
dir. Joel and Ethan Coen (O Brother, Where art Thou?, 2000)

George Clooney (Fantastic Mr. Fox (voice), 2009)
Brad Pitt (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007)
Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 2010)
Frances McDormand (Fargo, 1996)
John Malkovitch (Being John Malkovitch, 1999)
Richard Jenkins (Eat Pray Love, 2010)
Kevin Sussman (Sweet Home Alabama, 2002)
Dermot Mulroney (The Family Stone, 2005)
J.K. Simmons (The Ref, 1994)
Olek Krupa (Behind Enemy Lines, 2001)

If you heard that this movie wasn't very good, you would be justified in believing those rumors. Burn After Reading wasn't very bad, but I certainly wouldn't plan on seeing it again either.

I think the problem is that while it's fairly obvious that it was meant to be funny, it very overtly missed the mark. First of all, we're tricked in the very beginning into thinking that John Malkovitch is the main character, maybe he was supposed be, but George Clooney and Frances McDormand take the lead, plotwise, for the bulk of the remainder. The big joke appears to be that McDormand and Pitt are running around talking to the Russians and pretending to be all conniving but what they've really got is a disgruntled analyst's crappy attempt at a memoir.

That's the joke, everyone dies for no reason at all. Sorry if I spoiled it. There seem to be some allusions to government ineptitude, but I am less clear on those points.

Gosh, I'm nearly ten days behind on my movie reviews. I have a backlog of two movies I watched after this one. Hopefully I have more to say about them more than a week after I watched them. More complaining: Never has a comedy been so boring. Really disappointed, Coens.

06 June 2011

6 June - "Everyone knows the movies are full of shit"

Blade: Trinity (2004)
dir. David S. Goyer

Wesley Snipes (Demolition Man, 1993)
Jessica Biel (Elizabethtown, 2005)
Ryan Reynolds (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, 2004)
Patton Oswalt (The Informant!, 2009)
Kris Kristofferson (He's Just Not That Into You, 2009)
Dominic Purcell
Parker Posey (Party Girl, 1995)
Natasha Lyonne (Slums of Beverley Hills, 1992)
John Michael Higgins (Best in Show, 2000)
Callum Keith Rennie (The Butterfly Effect, 2004)

This is quite possibly the worst movie to ever come out of Marvel, although I never saw Ghost Rider. That being said, it easily crossed that line where horrendous turns awesome. Reynolds and Biel (plus a bow and arrow) are two vampire-fighting vigilantes that team up with blade to take down the insidious vampire conspiracy to resurrect Dracula (who is actually a Sumerian, as in, cradle of civilization), led by chief vampire Parker Posey who is so fabulously whacked out that I want her to have her own spin off movie starring her crazy vampire chick and an army of vampirized Pomeranians (that's right!)

Ryan Reynolds is spot on in his portrayal of Ryan Reynolds, seamlessly developing the skills he later uses to act like Ryan Reynolds in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and presumably The Green Lantern. Jessica Biel is less convincing as a badass with a dark past. The writers were merciful and limited her speaking parts.

I think the biggest failing was the apparent absence of a threat. Dracula, or "Drake," as he was called. Was not a very threatening villain. His character was uncompelling, he only killed two goth kids, and it was unclear whether he was planning to lead a vampire revolution or whatever. As in Blade 2, the vampires were concerned with the possibility to transforming into Daywalkers, which is what Blade is (Quick origin story: Blade's mom was bitten by a vampire as she was in labor, so Blade is half-vampire, as strong as a vampire, but able to walk in the daylight. Side effects include a pesky bloodlust that is controlled by some sort of "serum"). However, Drake seemed to imply that this was impossible, neutralizing any sense of urgency. So the plot was totally vague, but there was a lot of vampire fighting, so it would be impossible to say that this movie failed to meet expectations.

04 June 2011

5 June - "You don't live with me. You live with the remains of dead people."

Heat (1995)
dir. Michael Mann (The Last of the Mohicans, 1992)

Al Pacino (Donnie Brasco, 1997)
Robert de Niro (Stone, 2010)
Kevin Gage (The 'burbs, 1989)
Diane Venora (Romeo + Juliet, 1996)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan, 2010)
Jon Voight (Holes, 2003)
Tom Sizemore (True Romance, 1993)
Mykelti Williamson (The Final Destination, 2009)
Ted Levine (Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005)
William Fichtner (Crash, 2004)
Val Kilmer (True Romance, 1993)
Ashley Judd (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, 1992)
Hank Azaria (Love and Other Drugs, 2010)
Danny Trejo (From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996)
Martin Ferreo (Jurassic Park, 1993)
Jeremy Piven (Old School, 2003)
Wes Studi (Avatar, 2009)
Tone Loc (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, 1994)

The only kind of movie I watch less often than crime drama is courtroom drama (With the exclusion of My Cousin Vinny, which I watch at every opportunity and enjoy EVERY TIME). That's a funny pattern, because I LIKE crime dramas, just not quite as much as my usual fare of adventure, science fiction, and period drama. This movie is mostly about Robert de Niro, who sets up his crew to take one last big score, and Al Pacino, a work-obsessed detective (aren't they all?) in hot pursuit. It's one of those movies in which the tracker and the tracked discover they have more in common with each other than they originally thought. That doesn't change the nature of their relationship, though.

I think Michael Mann is a wonderful director. I appreciated especially, in this case, the depth of understanding that I got from the relatively minor roles of the supporting actresses, the wives and girlfriends of the criminals, and the detective's wife and stepdaughter. I had trouble, at first, determining the purpose of Al Pacino's suicidal stepdaughter, played by Natalie Portman. Maybe it seemed a little superfluous. Upon reflection, I decided that the take home message was about the futility of life, whether you make it by crime or by retribution, without anyone to share it with.

That seems a bit chintzy for a movie with so many gunshots in it. But really it wasn't as corny as that. The point is that Al Pacino's character was totally submersed in crimes and victims and criminals, but for all that he sacrificed to try and do something right, he was unable to prevent the victimization of someone in his own family. He chose de Niro over his wife and stepdaughter.

de Niro makes the same sacrifice. He has the opportunity to escape with his girl, but he chooses to make one last revenge hit before the airport, and so he abandons her, choosing the endless cat and mouse game with Pacino instead.

Ashley Judd and Val Kilmer have the sweetest romance. Their marriage is failing and you think she's been flipped by the cops, but at the last moment she signals to him to keep going, to leave her behind. It's a final act of sacrifice, but it's for love, not pride.

There's a blog I like to read that focuses on horror movies, i'm into survival (which inspires me to think of a better name for my little movie blog here, with its handful of readers). The most recent entry was about the second sequel to The Exorcist and specifically about the difficulty of establishing friendship between characters. That was something they were trying to do in this movie, and not entirely successfully. De Niro and Pacino had coffee in one scene, they lamented about their love lives and respectively admitted that "This is what I am best at. It's the only thing I know how to do." Perhaps this rapport could have been better established. To myself, I was drawing comparisons to Tommy Lee Jones' detective character and his relationships with pursued criminals Ashley Judd and Harrison Ford in Double Jeopardy and The Fugitive. Of course, in those Judd and Ford's character were both innocent. Even so, I enjoyed the relationship much better.

03 June 2011

2 June - "Don't expect to be making any friends"

Elizabethtown (2005)
dir. Cameron Crowe (Say Anything..., 1989)

Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003)
Kirsten Dunst (Marie Antoinette, 2006)
Susan Sarandon (The Witches of Eastwick, 1987)
Alec Baldwin (It's Complicated, 2009)
Judy Greer (Love and Other Drugs, 2010)
Bruce McGill (Collateral, 2004)
Jessica Biel (Valentine's Day, 2010)
Loudon Wainwright III (Knocked Up, 2007)
Paula Deen
Ted Manson (Fried Green Tomatoes, 1991)

Drew Baylor (Bloom) gets fired from his job and attempts suicide, only to have his sister (Greer) call at the last moment and tell him that their father has died and that he must go to Elizabethtown (title drop!), Kentucky to see to the funeral arrangements. En route Drew meets stewardess Claire (Dunst) and then later they have a phone call and fall in love. Things work out well with the folksy southern family and Drew decides that life is worth living after all.

While there's nothing I could precisely pinpoint as unpleasant in this movie, it still fails to stand out in any enjoyable way. I expect that in a week or so I'll have forgotten the storyline altogether, except that the romance between Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom was very, very contrived. It was certainly a charming movie, with quaint characters, but it neither stood out as a romantic comedy, although it certainly elements of such, nor as a narrative of self-actualization, a young man coming into his own, which is certainly a common and always poignant theme in cinema (Like Big Fish, or the always relevant Star Wars). I could not enjoy it as a dark comedy nor as a family drama (Such as in The Squid and the Whale, which succeeded as both.

Instead, Elizabethtown seems to hesitate between two ends of the emotional spectrum, and in so doing fails to make an impact on either front. To emphasize a belabored point, the two highlights of the movie were the interaction between Drew and Chuck, the perceptively wasted groom getting married in the same hotel, and the flashback scenes to Drew's childhood memories of his father as he is beginning his drive back to Oregon (something about saturated photography and child-parent nostalgia always makes me teary).

It's obvious to me now why this movie receded into the background almost immediately after it's release. If you're hearing about this for the first time right now, just let it slide by you. If you're a big Orlando Bloom fan, maybe watch it if you're really curious, but honestly, he's hotter as Legolas.

01 June 2011

30 May - "We need cultural experts, not scientists"

Timeline (2003)
dir. Richard Donner - Conspiracy Theory (1997)

Paul Walker - She's All That (1999)
Gerard Butler - Nim's Island (2008)
Frances O'ConnorA.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Billy Connolly - The Boondock Saints (1999)
Anna Friel - A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
Matt Craven - Disturbia (2007)
Ethan Embry - Pizza (2005)
Michael Sheen - Blood Diamond (2006)
Neal McDonough - Tin Man (2007)
Stephanie Biddle - The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
Amy Sloan - A Diva's Christmas Carol (TV 2000)
Marton Csokas - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Timeline is based on a Michael Crichton novel, like Jurassic Park and Congo, but not like Outbreak. This is about a group of archaeologists who are sent back in time by a technology corporation that has been funding their research into medieval France. They have to go back to rescue their Professor, because he was accidentally left behind in a previous trip. So they are plopped down in the middle of the hundred years war the day before the big invasion, ruh roh!

What I like about this movie is the utter lack of concern for a technological explanation (A 3D fax machine and a wormhole, OK let's go!), even though that's what takes up the lion's share of any Crichton novel. I also recall that one of the big conflicts in the book was the language barrier. All the old-timey people were speaking Ye Olde Angle-ese and no one could understand what was going on, but they chose to streamline that conflict in the movie and all the English folks were as comprehensible as one of Darth Vader's generals. They didn't even blink an eye at the wonky accents of our Heroes ("We're Scottish!" Assures Gerard Butler in a sexy way)

So the good guys are the French and the English are uniformly evil. The saddest part is when Francois gets skewered by Lord Oliver because he can't hide his French accent, awww.

Conclusions: Fun! A adventure in a more esoteric time period, which keeps things unpredictable, although I would have preferred if the storyline had remained more neutral in picking favorites between historical figures (I'm sure the invading English had some redeeming qualities, The Tudors seemed to work it out, well enough.) I was also disenchanted by Paul Walker as the lead, he was far upstaged by Gerard Butler, who is a better actor (and that's saying a lot) and had a more interesting character. The romance between Chris and Kate was poorly developed and unnecessary to the plot, they should have eliminated Walker's character and allowed O'Connor to carry those scenes on her own, and stuck to the dual conflicts of rescuing the Professor and Lady Claire.

I still enjoyed it, though!