December 2005

Match Point

by Alan Rapp on December 30, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

Match Point is the latest film by Woody Allen and it has some very fine performances if few surprises.  The film takes place in England (rather than New York) the film doesn’t star Woody Allen (or an impersonation of Woody Allen) and the plot is rather low-key.  An enjoyable little film that is quite different from Allen’s later style.  I just wish it wasn’t so predictable.

Match Point
3 & 1/2 Stars

Match Point is an interesting character study of a somewhat unscrupulous man trying to get everything he wants, without having to do too any real work.  It’s just a little too predictable for my tastes, but it is very well done.  Everything that happens in the first ten minutes foreshadows all that will happen the final hour and forty-five.  Even small moments in the plot are given away well before the scene ends (or in some cases, even begin).

Chris (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is a former tennis player turned tennis pro at an exclusive club.  There he meets Tom (Matthew Goode) and strikes up a friendship with Tom and his family.  He starts dating Tom’s sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer) and becomes a favorite of his father (Brian Cox) and mother (Penelope Wilton).

The problem is Chris falls madly in love with American actress Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson) who Tom is dating.  From their first moments on screen together you know the whole affair is going to end bloody.

The film is well cast and the performances from all are first rate.  Brian Cox provides a nice supporting role as the loving and doting father and Mortimer works well as the loving, but needy, Chloe.  The films best role goes to Rhys-Meyers as the complicated and scheming Chris who wants the security and wealth of his marriage but can’t ignore his lust for Nola.Johansson gives us a complex woman, who knows her effect on men and uses it to her advantage.  Though I did find her performance too whiney in the last act.  Both flawed main characters are very human in their need for passionate love and their inability for emotional commitment and responsibility.

It’s nice to see Woody Allen moving away from the same types of movies he has made in recent years (The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Anything Else, Small Time Crooks, Celebrity)  and make something different; though fans of Crimes and Misdemeanors may find it a little too similar.

This is a hard movie for me to review because of how well it is made must be balanced at how predictable and telegraphed the film is.  I sat down to watch the film a second time to make up my mind.  What I’m left with is this:  Match Point is a lovingly made film by a great director and, although quite flawed, is still worth a first and even second look.

Is it Woody Allen’s best work?  No, but it is better than his recent entries and shows he still has stories left to tell.  He finally seems to be back on the right track.  Not a must-see by any means, but a good film by an American icon that I think you will be able to enjoy despite its flaws.

Bareback Mountain

by Alan Rapp on December 30, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Brokeback Mountain
  • IMDB: link


Brokeback Mountain seems to be this year’s belle of the ball garnering seven Golden Globe nominations.  Is it the best film of the year?  No, but it’s pretty darn good.  Garnering huge attention for it’s detailed look at the secret homosexual relationship between two cowboys Ang Lee gives us an intriguing tale that just like Heath Ledger’s character desperately wants to say more than it is knows how to.

The story involves the secret relationship of Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) which begins one summer as the two cowboys herd sheep up on Brokeback Mountain.  A physical relationship develops between the two that picks up years later as both men have moved on with their lives, settled down and married.  On fishing trips back to Brokeback the two bask in the joy of being together knowing that the outside world will never accept them and they can only truly be together on the mountain.

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A History of Violence

by Alan Rapp on December 29, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: A History of Violence
  • IMDB: link

a-history-of-violenceA History of Violence is only 96 minutes long and everything you need to know about the film can be found in that amount of time.  It’s a streamlined and stripped down story that doesn’t waste a single frame or a single performance.  And for its short running time it is amazingly effective, disturbing, distressing, and haunting.

Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife Edie (Mario Bello) own a diner in a sleepy little town of Millbrook, Indiana.  They are raising a son (Ashton Holmes) who is tortured by bullies but has been taught to turn the other cheek, and a young daughter (Heidi Hayes).  Their life seems idyllic until a pair of thugs attempt to rob the diner and kill the witnesses.  Tom kills both men with brutal efficiency that is unusual in a diner owner of a sleepy town.

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First Annual Razorblade Awards

by Alan Rapp on December 29, 2005

in Announcements 

As we wind down the year over the next week you will start to see our lists for the best (and worst) films and performances of the year.  To start things off here are our picks for some of the more memorable and truly awful moments of film we were subjected to this year.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Razorblade Awards.

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TV Midterm Report Card

by Alan Rapp on December 27, 2005

in Uncategorized

As shows pause for the holiday hiatus we take a look at what we’ve seen so far on the tube this year and pass judgment on the impressive and disastrous programs we’ve seen so far this year while totally ignoring anything that could be remotely referred to as “reality tv.”

TV Mid-Season Grades

As shows pause for the holiday hiatus we take a look at what we’ve seen so far on the tube this year and pass judgment on the impressive and disastrous programs we’ve seen so far this year while totally ignoring anything that could be remotely refered to as “reality tv.”

Veronica Mars

The sophomore season of last year’s cult hit gives a little more focus on relationships and Veronica trying to be “normal” which have held back the show that was last year’s most pleasant surprise.  The first season focused on the murder of Lily Kane which was solved in the final episode.  The show is also missing the Veronica / Wallace friendship.  Without that big mystery the show has introduced several small ones, none of which are as interesting or as emotionally compelling – such as Meg’s coma, pregnancy and death, did Logan really commit murder, and who is responsible for the bus crash?  Nice guest stars from the ‘verse as Charisma Carpenter, Alyson Hannigan, and even Josh Whedon himself show up in Neptune.
Midseason Grade: B


We got the Fortress of Solitude, mention of Zod, and James Marsters guest turn as Braniac.  Too bad so much was squandered.  The Brainiac storyline was a waste as Marsters played a professor who the audience knew was an alien but no character did for weeks.  His evil turn was handled with the delicacy of a bull on angel dust.  And don’t even get me started on the vampire episode, ugh!  Aside from the Fortress of Solitude and the very interesting casting of the voice of Jor-El (and the reunion of the original Duke boys, Ye-hah!) the season has been miserable.  Hopefully this year Lex will finally take his dark turn (enough teasing already!). 
Midseason Grade: D

Family Guy

As always the show is a mix of good moments and WTF was that?  This year has seen Peter be declared legally retarded, Lois finds her long lost brother who she let’s out of the mental institution not realizing tendency to kill large men, Peter starts his own religion based on the Fonz (hey, I’ve heard of religions based on worse ideas), and the FCC steps by to censor all of Peter’s good ol’ American fun.  Funny cut scenes including my favorite where Stewie travels across country and gives Will Ferrell his due for Bewitched.
Midseason Grade: B-

How I Met Your Mother

I haven’t seen as much of this as I would like, but I think it’s got a chance.  A talented cast (Neal Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, Jason Segel and Cobi Smulders) and some good writing should spell some success if the show can stay on air long enough to find itself and hit its stride.  I like the cast’s chemistry and of all the twenty-something Friends knockoffs this one might be the best (hard to be worse than Joey).
Midseason Grade: INCOMPLETE


Am I the only one that thinks these forensic shows have run their course?  CSI:Crime Scene Inestigation, CSI:Miami, and CSI:NY still do well in the ratings, but the shows have become little more than gore-fests with either clever or stupid criminals and not much mystery.  Also a focus on relationships and hidden dark secrets trying to broaden the characters’ lives.  Doesn’t help.  If you’ve seen a season of one of these shows you’ve seen them all.
Midseason Grade: D

The West Wing

The influx of talent from last year (Jimmy Smits, Alan Alda, etc.) started to change the show and finally bring it out of its post-Sorkin funk that it had been languishing in since its creator left.  John Wells never find the right notes with Bartlett and crew, but has found his own voice and story with the election run of Smits and Alda’s characters.  No longer the shadow of its former self, but still not sure what it wants to be.  Some questions to be answered: is it possible to drag out this election cycle any longer? and what does the death of John Spencer mean for the show’s storyline?
Midseason Grade: C

Well that’s it for now tune back in next week and check out our preview of this year’s mid-season replacements that includes one or two promising shows (hey, Buffy started out as a mid-season replacement and that turned out pretty well).