September 13th, 2007


Kids in America

This US high-school movie looked appealing because of the "based on true events" blurb. Essentially, an amazingly young and pretty Principal (Julie Bowen, only weeks out of playing Cheerleaders in other HS movies, one would suspect, but apparently not; she's been in Lost recently) is a classic Bible-belt prude, only without the religious overtones, and is suspending students for the slightest transgressions:
  • A costume covered in condoms, to promote safe sex;
  • A piece of fiction in a private journal, that includes acts of violence;
And she's also running for Superintendent of Schools, apparently an elected post.

Student Gregory Smith protests against these suspensions, by performing a satirical version of the Hamlet To be or not to be monologue, as rewritten by fellow student Stephanie Sherrin, and finds himself suspended too. Both Smith and Sherrin are part of teacher Malik Yoba's creative arts class, wherein they're each proposing the topic for a group video. Rather than make a video, they are all galvanised by Smith (and his suspension) to begin guerrilla warfare against Bowen and her campaign for election.

It's very reminiscent of Pump Up The Volume though, as k says, a lot less angry. It makes a nice difference from the usual run of US High School movies, in that it's not about popularism, or a bet. There's a romance between Smith and Sherrin, of course, but we can allow that. Instead, it makes valid points about tolerance, free speech, grammar (in passing), and standing up for what you believe in. It was also the best of the particular block of movies I rented at the time.

And the true events? The two bullets above did happen. The fight back by the students is fictional.

Oh, and it's got Nicole Ritchie in it, but don't let that put you off - she's only in it as a secondary (or tertiary) character, and doesn't do much.
  • Current Mood
    impressed Surprisingly pleased
  • Tags

Night at the Museum

Oh dear.

Yes, I know: It's got Ben bloody Stiller in the lead role - and Ricky "overrated? Me? I don't think so" Gervais providing support. But even so, this supposedly had something going for it.

Which is true, I suppose. The premise isn't bad. Museum. Lotsa stuff, all of which comes to life at night. Unfortunately, that's as good as it gets.

To begin with, the title is missing an indefinite article. It's called "Night at the Museum", while I thought it was "A Night at the Museum", and that makes a difference - we actually deal with Stiller over three different nights.

Then it's got a terrible script that seems aimed at getting the most from whatever CGI software they already have lying around. Oh, and the cast includes Owen Wilson and Robin Williams. And Steve Coogan. And Dick Van Dyke. Really.

Ricky Gervais is wheeled in just to do David Brent. What's the point of that. I'm vaguely cheered by the rumour that he featured quite heavily on the UK promotional material, and not at all on the US material.

The best performance was given by Mizuo Peck, who I thought also played Owen Wilson's Indian "wife" in Shanghai Noon, but apparently not.

Anyway, bleah.
  • Current Mood
    bored bored
  • Tags

Howl's Moving Castle

We tried this a year or so ago, and failed miserably because it wouldn't play in our DVD player. We were more successful this evening.

I liked this. although it was very reminiscent of Spirited Away: similar perpetually kind-hearted protagonist who thinks the best of everyone, similar blob creatures, similar cute animation of background characters, and so on. And wonderfully imaginative. Though that might be all down to Diana Wynne Jones - I don't know, having not read the book.

I got a strong Gilliam vibe from the Castle itself, and I didn't like the voice of Howl - Christian Bale, apparently - nor the way Sophie's character claims she isn't beautiful, but looks it to me (or, no different from any of the other young female characters in the movie). But then, that would be true for a live-action movie too.

We listened to the English-language soundtrack, as that was the default, and it included some impressive voices, including Lauren Bacall and Billy Crystal, but they were quite American in their dialogue, and that makes me suspect that the subtitles would be more lyrical.

Fun, though. And sweet.
  • Current Mood
    pleased pleased
  • Tags


This is the first(?) Alex Rider movie, based on the young-adult books by Anthony Horowitz. The premise: young Alex, an orphan raised by by his uncle Ewan McGregor and "nanny' Alicia Silverstone (really), discovers that said uncle is (a) a Bond-like spy,  (b) dead, and (c) has effectively been training Alex to join in the family business.

So he goes off to finish off the mission his uncle was on, which is all about strangeness to do with new computers being installed in schools.

And it's a bit of a mess, to be honest. Alex Pettyfer as Alex looks far too old, and far too pretty. His "karate" looks nothing like it (unsurprising, as it's choreographed by none other than Donny Yen). And the rest of the cast - including Robbie Coltrane, Bill Nighy and Missi Pyle - ham it up like no-one's business, there's some very silly sets --- mainly, they've made a movie for "kids", i.e. thinking "it doesn't matter what we do, because they're only kids, right?" Lazy.

Made me wonder whether they'll bother making any more, because this would have been really annoying to see in the cinema and think, "I paid for that?" I don't know what Horowitz's books are like, but given how successful they've been, I imagine they're a  lot better.
  • Current Mood
    disappointed disappointed
  • Tags


We got our boiler serviced today (delayed from last week as the scheduled engineer had a bereavement). The good news: the boiler was quite clean. The bad news: the expansion vessel isn't taking an air charge, and needs replacing. Boo. I wondered whether just the valve can be replaced, but maybe not. I'll have to find out details and make arrangements next week. Hence, bah.
  • Current Mood
    annoyed annoyed


An entirely random post: in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, they go to a baseball game. Cameron and Ferris shout stuff at the pitch. Any idea what they're saying? It sounds to me like "Ay barra barra barra swiiiing barra."
  • Current Mood
    amused Random
  • Tags

Princess Mononoke

We've just finished watching this. Not as good as the previous two SG films. Wasn't as whacky or imaginative, I thought. Interesting that Gaiman was involved in the song adaptations, since the storyline - a girl raised by wolves, plus various other forest creatures, defend the Forest Spirit against humans who want to mine iron - reminded me of Gaiman's Black Orchid, in the actions of the third faction, a young prince trying to lift a curse by reconciling the two sides.

Again, wasn't keen on the English dialogue track, but couldn't get another one to work. :-)