The Usual Suspects
This is a veritable staple among the 90's-violent-screwy-narrative films that followed in the wake of Quentin Tarantino. Kevin Spacey at his best, and Gabriel Byrne at his usual, which is VERY good. A fantastic thriller that will keep you guessing to the end. This is Bryan Singer before he turned his mind to superheroes and his un-blemished talent is formidable. If you are too young to have caught this the first time it came through, check it out. If you've seen it, I promise a second viewing will be rewarding.
Favorite scene: The hospital scene - when they first mention the name of Keyser Soze
This is a quirky script, even for Charlie Kaufman. It is half an adaptation of a novel and half the story of the adaptation of that novel. Nicolas Cage who is in no way a consistent actor, turns in a fantastic dual portrayal of twin brothers. The film is a primer for postmodern filmmaking playing with narrative devices and breaking conventions in the service of the story. Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep and Tilda Swindon round out this amazing cast.
Favorite Scene: The Robert McKee scene.
Pixar is known for its narrative prowess. The colorful characters of Toy Story, the flawless structure of Finding Nemo, and the imaginative world of Monsters, Inc. Rataouille, however, excels in a different area than the rest of the Pixar body of work. This is an inspirational film. For anyone who has had to take a stand about their perceived "calling" in life, this film packs a powerful little wallop. The far-fetched story is a small price to pay for the payoff of the film transcribed in my Movie Moment below.
Favorite scene: When the critic takes his first bite of the Ratatouille.
Anton Ego: In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more.
The Big Kahuna
As a play, it is known as The Hospitality Suite. And apparently, Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito fell in love with it and gave Roger Rueff one heck of a cast for his first film. It's a one-room three-hander that pits evangelical proselytizing against corporate sales. Interesting questions about intentions and authenticity abound in this showcase for three great actors. And the dialogue is whip smart. I'd love to direct this one, but the playwright is REALLY strict about not changing any language, so I'll have to wait for a less conservative audience.
Favorite scene AND Movie Moment: