MOVIES I'VE SEEN LATELY...

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL: After an 18 year gap Indy finally returned to the theaters, unfortunately to lackluster results. While not horrible, and not unworthy of the series either, it definitely was my least favorite of the 4. Featuring a plot that involved the ancient Mayans and spoiler: aliens, Indy goes on an absurd adventure to find a weird crystal skull and the mom of a greaser played by Shia LaBeauf. There's some great fun action dispersed throughout, but overall I found it all a bit tired and forced. The chemistry between Indy and Shia is good and the movie does have little nods to the other ones which was nice. I guess Spielberg and crew just wanted a little ode to the series and something for the fans. I just wish it felt a little less forced.

THE BROTHERS GRIMM: Supposedly Terry Gilliam's worst movie ever, I found it to be much better than that and really quite enjoyable. Sure, it's a bit more mainstream, but not more than say 12 Monkeys was. Grimm is about the two brothers making their way in the world as fantastical con artists defeating demons and such and getting paid handsomely by townsfolk. They are soon whisked away by a french general who doesn't believe in them and are made to go try to stop children from being stolen from a local town. The brothers are in way too deep with real magical and supernatural elements and have to figure themselves out before it's too late. Good FX and a fun story with great acting by Matt Damon and the late Heath Ledger heading the cast.

TIDELAND: Now you want to really talk about Gilliam's worst, I do not suggest this one. I could not take it at all. Like Alice in Wonderland on heroin, but with none of the charm. Just an ugly movie with annoying acting by the leads, Jeff Bridges excluded. Blah.

SERAPHIM FALLS: A really good little western starring Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson, well at least till the last 15 minutes where it disintegrates completely! Brosnan is an outlaw on the run from Neeson and his gang through the snowy mountains of the West, which is all good Spaghetti Western feeling stuff, but then at the end it get all trippy in the desert and becomes a complete joke. Very odd and silly ending to an otherwise good story.

SMILEYFACE: Wow, I'm sorry, but this is a bad movie. It's a stoner movie that stoners may think is right on, but really just comes across as poor film making. Just as bad as Tideland, not recommended.

MY NEIGHBOR TORTORO: Been on a Miyazaki kick lately trying to watch the ones I have not seen and Totoro kicked it off. An excellent movie that's totally cute if not a tad short and anticlimactic. It tells a nice little story of responsibility though so I can let that go. It felt like the granddad of Spirited Away in a way. Beautiful animation.

KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE: This one is a more well rounded story and overall I dug it more than Totoro. Kiki is a witch in training who goes to a big city to hone her craft. Along the way she starts a delivery service because she can whisk across the city easy on her broom. It's a story of acceptance and is just solid throughout. It's cute and the animation of course is excellent. I loved Kiki's little black cat the best.

NAUSSICA, OF THE VALLEY OF THE WINDS: This one was Miyyazaki's second feature ever, after doing the Lupin movie, and was the first of his own ideas. It's also the most serious of his resume with a pretty great sci fi story, similar in feel to Dune, in the center. Marilyn didn't care much, but I love a good sci fi and this one is excellent. Great animation, if not a little different from Miyazaki's patented style, with tremendous design work throughout. Great story too. Highly reccommended for you sci fi geeks!

A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT: French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's followup to Amelie, one of my favorite movies ever, was quite good, but nowhere near the level of perfection as Amelie. A little boring at times, but engaging throughout. Engagement is a bout a woman (Amelie's Audrey Tautou) who doesn't give up hope that her husband will come home from World War 1 even though it's been years since it's been over and her quest to find out what happened to him. It has Jeunet's signature flashback sequences and style and is beautiful in every aspect. It does run a tad long, but overall I liked it.

PARIS JE TAIME: A collection of 5 minute works set in different parts of Paris from all kinds of different directors such as the Coen Bros, Wes Craven, Run Lola Run's Tom Tywker and various other great directors. Most of the movies are quite charming and fun, but some are too artsy or boring or just plain bad. Tywker's short was the best with Natalie Portman as an actress in Paris trying to get a part and her new relationship with a blind man. The way Tywker shoots it is incredible and worth the price of admission. Second best was the Coen's with Steve Buscemi as a tourist in the Paris subway, very fun. The good pieces definitely outnumber the bad, boring, or weird so I'd say give it a looksie.