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Movie review

  • 2005-03-16
This week
Racing Stripes
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Dolls

Racing Stripes

Director: Frederik Du Chau

Good intentions and a good heart save this family-flick about a zebra that desperately wants to be a racehorse from becoming too annoying. The movie works okay, but has problems making it past the mediocre-marker because of an awfully sentimental and predictable script. The talking animals are tolerably cute, but this movie doesn't have the style and wit of the "Babe" series. "Racing Stripes" is safe moviemaking and offers loads of stereotypes and worn-out jokes. Nonetheless, the movie holds together and trots along at a steady pace. The ending definitely has you rooting for the little zebra to prove those mean and nasty horses wrong. The filmmakers seem competent, but you somehow feel they aimed too low and lacked the confidence to make "Racing Stripes" really excel.
1/2 (Julie Vinten)

Zebras have been called everything from an African horse to the tiger of horses. The one prevailing thought to tickle the back of your brain is: "Haven't I seen this before?" It's the most reckless case of deja vu to hit the big screen this reviewer has ever seen. He also doesn't mind talking animals, but it was done so well in "Babe" 10 years ago that this just seems redundant. A cute baby zebra is accidentally abandoned during a thundering rainstorm. A single dad finds the poor creature and he and his teenage daughter end up raising the zebra, which wants to be a racehorse. "Racing Stripes" could easily have been a real delight for kids, if it wasn't for the constant toilet humor and cheesy jokes.
1/2 (Laimons Juris G)

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

Director: Wes Anderson

You know a Wes Anderson movie when you see one. Anderson is a Hollywood director with a truly individual style, and his universe is wonderfully quirky, bizarre and colorful. So is "The Life Aquatic." Though the set-up is different, this eccentric adventure comedy is in many ways similar to Anderson's previous movie "The Royal Tenenbaums." "The Life Aquatic" is about a dysfunctional family and a troubled father/son relationship, which are recurring themes in all his movies. But while "The Royal Tenenbaums" was a brilliant piece of filmmaking, this movie has a somewhat messier narrative and the characters are perhaps a little too caricatured. All the same, "The Life Aquatic" is highly entertaining and Anderson's weird and subtle humor once again makes his work funny, original and appealing.
(Julie Vinten)

What is this supposed to be? A weird consortium of actors cavorts amidst a tacky Lars von Trier studio-like background. What do Oscar nominees and winners Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson have in common? Apparently nothing, as they never connect with each other in Wes Anderson's ("The Royal Tenenbaums") latest effort. This is not art and this is not comedy. Nor is it any good. This dated spoof of the underwater world of Jacques Cousteau would have been witty some 20-25 years ago, when the poor Frenchman was still alive. Now it's simply bad taste. It's lazy, lethargic looniness, but you won't be laughing. "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" tries so hard to be funny that it trips over its own intolerable attitude.
(Laimons Juris G)

Dolls

Director: Takeshi Kitano

This Japanese movie is a beautifully poetic allegory of deeply symbolic imagery and sorrowful silences. The painfully haunted looks in the characters' eyes tell us that love might be the strongest emotion there is, but it doesn't always conquer all. "Dolls" might be pretentious to some and profound to others. At any rate, the splendid director Takeshi Kitano manages to pull us into this melancholic universe. Kitano has largely built his career on entertaining and gritty crime dramas with dark comedy undertones and philosophical elements. Though "Dolls" bears his unmistakable visual style, it's a somewhat unusual film for him. It feels like something the director had to get out of his system and it's unlikely that we will see many more such movies from Kitano, which is okay by me.
(Julie Vinten)

The popularity of Takeshi Kitano's "Zatoichi" has created an active interest in the Japanese director's other more recent film endeavors. "Dolls" presents a most peculiar look at love and the meaning of life through a sensitive trio of short stories. Opening with an elegantly mesmerizing traditional bunraku puppet theater performance, the narrative segues into one of the most remarkable tales ever depicted in a motion picture. This memorable vignette concerns two lovers who are (physically and emotionally) tied together by a large red rope. The couple trudges aimlessly through the four seasons, down city streets, across lush landscapes 's bound together by obsessive love. A minimal amount of dialogue in the script allows Katsumi Yanagishima's bravura cinematography to take the viewer on a poetic journey into ultimate reality.
1/2 (Laimons Juris G)
 

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