Movie reviews - 2004-07-15

  • 2004-07-15
This week:- Novo- Starsky & Hutch - Spartan

Director: Jean-Pierre Limosin
Graham has short-term and long-term memory loss. He remembers only 10 minutes at a time, and would be totally lost if it wasn't for the little notebook tied around his wrist in which he writes down crucial information about his own life. The setup of this French drama is right down "Memento" street. "Novo" seeks the answer to what defines love and shows how people lie and manipulate to get what they want in the game of love. All this is wrapped up in incredibly pompous gibberish. The film is dreadfully self-absorbed in its mission to show something "real" and "true." The visuals aren't particularly interesting, and the occasional fast-motion sequences don't add anything to the film but just seem like showing-off - something that can be said about the film in general. **
Julie Vinten

French director Jean-Pierre Limosin presents a pleasant, yet evocative, look at love and lust through the eyes of an innocent man-child named Graham (Eduardo Noriega). He apparently has lost his short-term memory. Though not as confusing, strange or depressing as the highly acclaimed "Memento," "Novo" is a perfect example of professional quality filmmaking. Wonderful camera perspectives, a downright sweet story and an appealing cast round out this film's rough edges. It is the relatively unknown Noriega who ingeniously captures your heart as well as attention with his openly sincere performance. The handsome charmer treats his identity as a costume for his character to wear. Noriega happens to be one of the most popular actors in his native Spain, and the sensuously lovely Anna Mouglalis holds her own against the charismatic Spaniard. *****
Laimons Juris G

Starsky & Hutch
Director: Todd Phillips
All in all "Starsky & Hutch" is an entertaining movie, but this big-screen adaptation of the 1970s TV-series could have been a lot funnier. Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller always make a charming screen-couple, but the movie doesn't try hard enough, especially with the jokes and the comic timing. It just expects the old Wilson/Stiller-magic to do the job and carry the entire film. Bad perms and fake moustaches are aplenty, but it's always easier to dress funny than it is to come up with new, memorable gags and jokes, and here the movie falls short. However, it has its fair share of hilarious moments, most of them superbly delivered by Will Ferrell as the wacky inmate with a dragon-fetish. Though a little disappointing, there is above-average fun to be had with this movie. ***
Julie Vinten

Along comes another remake resurrected from a 1970s television series. First it was "Charlie's Angels," then "S.W.A.T" and now the original super cops. After viewing the trailer, this reviewer was actually looking forward to a few laughs, some fun and being entertained. Unfortunately, this dimwitted flick fails to deliver anything resembling a comedy. Bordering on the moronic, stupidity rules in every idiotic syllable uttered. Ben Stiller (Starsky) on occasion can be funny, though Owen Wilson (Hutch) only provides proof that he can't act at all. The original TV show was not about being silly or dumb. That's where this movie goes wrong, coming across as infantile antics by some grossly overpaid players. Now all we have to look forward to are remakes of "The Rookies" and "Police Woman." *
Laimons Juris G

Director: David Mamet
Writer/director David Mamet has made a well-constructed political thriller with substance, brains and bite that doesn't dumb itself down to fit the average Hollywood audience. "Spartan" is constantly a step ahead of the viewer, who has to follow everything closely, or the movie will leave him behind. No wonder the movie had a very limited U.S. release. It's simply too sophisticated, as well as being a scathing critique of the American political system. Mamet, who wrote "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Wag the Dog," has always been a more brilliant scriptwriter than director, and with "Spartan," he has certainly hit the mark. It's simply a treat just to listen to Mamet's dialogue. He is one of the best dialogue-writers there is, throwing the words straight at the audience with power and precision. ****
Julie Vinten

"Spartan" takes off at a running pace, full of twists and turns to keep you interested in its suspense-fueled purpose. Every little moment has a meaning all its own. Above everything else, writer and director David Mamet forces you to listen and to observe with total concentration. The familiar terse and clip Mamet-speak is more obvious than usual but works well here. In the lead role Val Kilmer is simply ideal as a cold-hearted special-operations secret agent. A guy who believes his instincts are more honest than his thoughts. Always the consummate actor, Kilmer has portrayed a variety of well-known personalities beginning with Billy the Kid and Jim Morrison to Batman and John Holmes. A superb supporting cast backs up the plot no matter how preposterous it gets. *** 1/2
Laimons Juris G