Movie preview

  • 2004-09-15
This week - Bad Education- Around the World in 80 Days- Man on Fire

Bad Education

Director: Pedro Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar always challenges our view of the world since his own perception of it is so extraordinary. He has tremendous psychological insight and a love for the awkward, outcast and bizarre members of society. "Bad Education" is a multifaceted and utterly disturbing movie. Here the director has, with his usual flamboyance, mixed together the film industry, transvestites and pedophile priests in a tale of deceit and hypocrisy. The movie's structure is intriguing, and the director knows how to get some first-class performances out of his cast. Gael Garcia Bernal's performance is particularly vibrant, and here he shows that he also looks handsome in a dress. Perhaps not Almodovar's best, but for those who appreciate his audacious style, "Bad Education" is well worth watching. III

Julie Vinten

Luis Bunuel, the father of cinematic surrealism, said, "Sex without religion is like cooking an egg without salt." "La Mala Educacion" is a pithy concoction of those controversial elements. Without a thread of doubt, this reviewer believes that Pedro Almodovar is a stark raving genius. The Spanish director manages to present a transvestite junkie, a killer drag-queen hustler and a pedophile Catholic priest with genuine sympathy and compassion. The story is shocking enough to make your hair stand on end, but it's absolutely realistic and believable. However, this film belongs body and soul to Gael Garcia Bernal ("Y Tu Mama Tambien"). He's simply brilliant in the multi-faceted leading man/lady role. Sizzling raw blasts of energy emanate from the screen, eradicating homophobia instantly. Almodovar certainly knows how to boil an egg. IIIII

Laimons Juris G

Around the World in 80 Days

Director: Frank Coraci

This big-budget adventure comedy had all the right elements to be an enjoyable experience, but it falls way short, in every way. The actors in the three main roles are all perfectly likeable, especially the leading lady who is simply adorable with her goofy-sweet appearance. The movie itself is a colorful spectacle of amazing gadgets, lurid costumes and swift action but it seriously suffers from an overall lack of coherence and feels more like a disparate sequence of separate sketches than a nicely rounded whole. In all, it's a tragically unfunny comedy with no feeling for comical timing. The tempo is so hectic that it leaves you out of breath, but not in an entertaining way, really 's just tiring. This is a handsome, large-scale movie that is totally insignificant. II

Julie Vinten

In any normal civilized nation, this brainless movie would certainly count as cruel and unusual punishment, any way you look at it. Yes, Jackie Chan is always fun to watch, while Steve Coogan (whoever he is) as the sidekick inventor Phileas Fogg is okay. There are some fine action scenes as expected in any Chan film. But we have seen it all before, though never in such a fantastically lush artistic setting. Perhaps some kids will be dumb enough to like this phony mess. The original was a super film, winning a total of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture in 1956. It starred the charming and wonderful David Niven supported by a star-studded cast well-worth watching. Want to see Gobernator Arnold make a silly fool of himself? I

Laimons Juris G

Man on Fire

Director: Tony Scott

Set in big, bad Mexico City, ex-assassin Creasy (Denzel Washington) gets hired as little girl Pita's (Dakota Fanning) bodyguard. When she is kidnapped, he sets out to get her back in the only way he knows: through bloodshed. The movie, not uninterestingly, has two individually strong personas. On one side it's awfully sentimental, and on the other, it's madly ferocious. The visual style is extremely vibrant and bombards the viewer with jump-cuts and speeded-up images. If director Tony Scott had emphasized the narrative as he does the visuals, the movie might have been fantastic. Then again, Scott was always more about style than story, so it was only to be expected. But "Man on Fire" is still above your average revenge thriller, and it certainly makes for some hardcore entertainment. III

Julie Vinten

There is always an intense texture to the many characters that Denzel Washington has portrayed in more than three-dozen films to date. Here he plays a guy named Creasy, an alcoholic ex-marine, hired to be a young girl's (Dakota Fanning) bodyguard. It seems that Mexico City is a haven for crooked cops involved in the lucrative business of kidnapping. Naturally cute little Pita is abducted and Creasy is shot and seriously wounded in the process. When he recovers the action begins. "Man on Fire" is an unrelenting tale of revenge. Adrenalin-rushing sequences coupled with some good acting, make for some exciting entertainment. Washington, Fanning and Christopher Walken are especially noteworthy. The movie could have been shorter, but that's not a major irritation as there is never a dull moment. III

Laimons Juris G