A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Monday, June 19, 2006

Vacation Movie Reviews

I saw two over the course of the week-- one on Showtime and one in the theater.

The first was The Shawshank Redemption, undoubtedly the best movie version of a Stephen King story ever. I had forgotten how good this movie is-- the acting is marvelous, the pacing is excellent, and the story is intriguing on so many levels. There are many moments in the film that just give you tingles-- not of fear, but of... life. A good film can do that maybe once or twice-- Shawshank does it at several points throughout the movie.

There are no false steps, no sour moments. The fact that Forrest Gump beat it out for Best Picture in 1994, and that Tom Hanks beat Morgan Freeman for best actor, just proves the stupidity and lack of vision in voting for the Oscars. The fact that Frank Darabont wasn't even nominated for Best Director just proves how hidebound and spineless the Academy of Motion Pictures really is.

Okay, so 10 out of 10. Maybe 11 out of 10.

Review #2: Cars, seen in company with my family on Father's Day.

Pixar is amazing. They are seven for seven in making truly great films (Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and Cars) The attention to detail and care they put into their films is tremendous, and the results are uniformly excellent. Would that every production company in America followed their example by filming only excellent scripts with talented actors and visionary directors and producers. That'd be nice, huh?

Anyway, at least Pixar is maintaining their high standards. I wouldn't say Cars was as good as their best-- Toy Story and The Incredibles-- but it's a darn fine film. The pacing at the beginning is a little off, but once the movie finds its groove, about a quarter of the way in, it is a fun and touching ride the rest of the way. The story is just a touch cliched, but the realization of a world consisting entirely of cars is brilliant, and there are enough small touches and sharp insights to more than compensate for this minor shortcoming.

My wife didn't enjoy it as much as I did, and I suspect that it will resonate more with boys (of all ages) than it will with girls, but she agreed that it was a very good film. And the tractors are just too funny. Don't leave before the credits are done, either-- you'll miss some really funny bits.

9.5 out of 10.


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