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12/15/2003 Archived Entry: "Big Movies"
Posted by CKL @ 12:31 AM PST

It's uncanny how often my cinematic opinions tend to align with MaryAnn Johanson's. Just this past weekend, I saw the picturesque but ultimately lukewarm The Last Samurai, followed by the thrilling and near-perfect Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Then again, what did I expect from the hack who wrote Gladiator and the director of Dead Poets Society, respectively?

Perhaps not surprisingly, a significant portion of my post-movie conversations with DeeAnn was about the historical accuracy of both films, plus attempting to figure out who Brad Pitt was playing in next year's Troy, which trailer we'd seen before Tom Cruise's Wacky Samurai Adventure. (Hint: sandals probably aren't the ideal footwear for this fellow.) We also spent a few minutes identifying other characters from the Trojan War. How geeky are we?

Anyway. My friend Tim had raved about Russell Crowe's Wacky Naval Adventure a few weeks before, saying that it was satisfying to see a good story that didn't need any flashy special effects. Which I thought ironic after seeing the movie myself, since the credits listed at least four different VFX companies. But, of course, his point was that the special effects didn't stick out like a sore thumb, as they often do in skiffy B-movies. Absolutely everything in See Russell Sail felt real, and thus encouraged you to go along with it, even if it was described in nineteenth-century naval technobabble you didn't understand. The entire third act of Tommy Plays With Swords made no sense, in or out of historical context.

Like I said: Gladiator schlub, Dead Poets visionary. No contest. I'm just a little surprised at the heaps of unwarranted praise that Cruisin' for Geishas is garnering. But I'll save my real bitching until after Oscar nominations are announced.

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