28 January 2006

The Matador (Alliance Atlantis, 2005)

Pierce Brosnan plays Julian Noble: an assassin who interupts his hits with boozing and womanizing. When in Mexico City on a hit, he meets up with Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), a businessman on hard times who is on a business trip that will make or break his future. Eventually, Julian confides in Danny and admits what his line of work it. Straight arrow Danny and hitman Julian part ways before long, leaving Danny with the mother of all anedotes. He goes home. Julian picks up his work but he's lost his edge. An assassin with the jitters is no good and he's in a crisis. Several months later, Julian arrives at Danny's doorstep.
The hitman in crisis is oddly a subgenre and more often plays as comedy than crime: Grosse Point Blank; Man Bites Dog; and the unfortunate Analyze This and Analyze That. Of these examples, this movie is the best of the lot. It's paced as a dark comedy with room for some pathos. Pierce Brosnan plays a bebonair gentleman in many of his roles. In this movie, he lets himself go in splendid style: scrubby looking, frequently drunk, banging women in most cities, angering women by trying to pay for sex in the other cities. He's an acidic and mean spirited wreck and because of his contrast, he really shines.
The Matador is a lean story. Like its title, this movie executes with precision.

tags: movies, Matador, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis

24 January 2006

Will "Bubble" Burst the Multiplex?

Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner owners of Landmark Theatres and cable channel HDNet has partnered with Steven Soderbergh to release Bubble in theatres, on cable and on DVD simultaneously.

Ebert and Roeper weighed in on the controversy -- they feel it can only be a good thing, increasing the audience for smaller films. The crunch comes for blockbuster movies: will they still find enough of an audience to justify their outrageous budgets? I think so. So does Mark Cuban.

Cuban perfectly nails the issue in this post: What Business are theaters in ?[Blog Maverick] where he describes the generation gap in movie-goers,

When a 16 year old goes to a movie, there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with answering your cellphone, talking back to the screen and texting your heart away during a movie. The movie is just there because its better than doing the same thing sitting or walking at the mall...

All of the above drives anyone not in that demographic crazy. So when a couple of 35 year olds go to see King Kong, not only can you pretty much bet that they arent going to have a great experience during the showing of the movie, but they probably didnt have a great experience before they even got their seats.

They are probably already pissed because the stereos were blasting in the parking lot, the lines to the concession stands were filled with kids chit chattering and taking their good old time, while you wanted to get into the movie so you could talk to your wife or date.

Yes!! YES!! There is someone, somewhere who understands why the multiplex cinema experience is going to lose money soon if it can't adapt -- it is annoying more people than it is attracting. And so, Cuban says, "Why not actually start making a profit off the DVD sales?" Excellent question, and I hope he makes a lot of cash out of the deal so the naysayers can eat their words.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy movies wherever I can find them, even if that means giving the stink-eye to the gaggle of teens behind me at the multiplex.

04 January 2006

100 Greatest Discoveries (Discovery Communications 2004)

I am currently watching 100 Greatest Discoveries, hosted by Bill Nye (known to millions as "Bill Nye the Science Guy"). Now, my kid loves Bill Nye but she is in bed right now, so I can't give you her opinion. On the other hand, I've been watching Bill Nye since he was a regular guest on Seattle's late night show, Almost Live, and I also count myself a big fan.

Nye makes a great host for what is essentially an overview of science; the eight episodes cover discoveries in the fields of Evolution, Earth Science, Medicine, Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Genetics, and Biology. The show uses historical recreation, expert interviews, computer graphics and location shots to give the viewer the best possible introduction to those discoveries and theories which form the basis of modern scientific thought.

It's currently airing in British Columbia on the Knowledge Network, but check your local Discovery Channel or PBS listings in the upcoming weeks and months.

Or, you can pre-order the DVD set from the Discovery Channel.