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by Noel Wood

For those of you who may be wondering, No, I'm not dead. Not that any of you were losing sleep over it or anything, but I'm sure some people may have wondered why I've gone a week without a real site update. Unfortunately, there's a lot of reasons why I haven't updated in that time, and I may be updating less frequently, at least for the next few weeks. It's not anything major that's keeping me from updating, I've just had to put a little more time and effort into some other ventures. For starters, you may have noticed some subtle changes to the layout here. I'm currently tweaking with the look of the site, trying to make it look as professional as possible along with making it as eas as possible to navigate. I'm open to any suggestions, so feel free to drop me a line if you have any, or if you just want to bitch about the price of tea in China. Oh, and if you're the person responsible for adding that address to a bunch of spammers' address books, no thank you, I'm not interested in hot MILF action.

On top of all that, I'm also working on a couple of subdomains to, both dealing with a couple of personal interests of mine. One centers around the drunken kickball league some friends and I formed a couple years ago, and one features some home video that me and some others put together starting a decade or more ago that I'm working on transferring to a digital format. Since I'm doing this all on my own time, it ain't exactly something that's being done overnight.

You'll also probably notice that there's an advertisement or four on the front page. I know, I know, you can all start the chant: I Sold Out. But seriously, as much time as I put into this site, I may as well try and make a few bucks from it. It's not like I'm getting mondo traffic or anything, so I'm lucky if I make anything at all, but it sure would improve the chances of me getting off my ass and updating more often if you clicked on a link or two every now and then. In particular, I encourage everyone to join Movielink, a service that lets you download movies directly to your PC. I get a kickback for every new signup I refer, but there's no cost at all to join, and they require almost no personal information; so you've got nothing to lose. Plus, it's a really cool service, and if you've got a broadband connection it's a real nice way to rent movies. Sure as hell beats worrying about late fees from the local video store and downloading shitty versions of movies (that are probably mislabeled anyway) from a peer-to-peer client.

Anyway, enough of the shilling. I'm sure that's not what you came here to read. To keep this thing on topic, I've decided to take a completely prejudiced, totally biased, and for the most part unqualified look at some of the movies coming out in the next few weeks, as we move from the Winter Month Movie Wasteland to the more ambitious movies of the spring and early Summer. In order to beat the Summer movie rush, a lot of big movies have been pushed up to opening dates before Memorial Day (as witnessed by STAR WARS: ATTACK OF THE CLONES and SPIDER-MAN's early May releases last year), so it kind of catchesd you by suprise when all the movies in the theater full of suck suddenly switch to long-anticipated blockbusters. So here's a look at what's to come in the upcoming weeks, and our (or at least my) take on what's worth seeing.

I've been seeing some trailers for this movie, and while it doesn't look too bad, it just really seems sad to see Kirk Douglas still making movies in his current state. He suffered a stroke in 1995 and shows the aftereffects to this day. Unfortunately, I think it might mar his legacy to some viewers to see him in this condition on the big screen. I give him kudos for being so bold, but I think it might turn off a lot of viewers. I guess this is a pet project for Michael Douglas, as it also features his mother and son. Fred Scepesci is the man in the director's chair, who has a pretty impressive resume for this type of movie (ROXANNE, I.Q., FIERCE CREATURES, SIX DEGREES OF SEPERATION), so it looks like it might be pretty watchable. It's not something I'm likely to go see, but it'll probably be ok for the older crowd.

IDENTITY (April 25)
What looks like a pretty generic thriller, IDENTITY has the markings of the type of movie that middle-aged women would go crazy over back in the video store I used to work in. Sure, it's got John Cusack in it, but as we've come to learn the hard way, John Cusack is always great as long as he's in a comedy, preferably one where he's the romantic lead, and tends to flounder a bit in dramatic roles. This also stars Ray Liotta, perhaps the finest example of wasted potential in all the crop of Hollywood's actors. It's directed by James Mangold, responsible for the underrated COP LAND. While it does look generic, it might be good for a bit of escape on a Friday night. Chances are I'll see this at the Drive-In before it's all said and done.

This stylish little crime drama has been making its round in the festival circuit for the last few months, and has generated some buzz for its release. It's been compared to stuff like GET SHORTY and PULP FICTION, which can be like a death sentence for a movie in this genre. CONFIDENCE does have a few things going for it, such as a great cast. On top of leads Ed Burns, Andy Garcia, and Dustin Hoffman, it's got some of the top character actors out there in supporting roles: Paul Giamatti, Luis Guzmán, and Donal Logue, just to name a few. James Foley is the man at the reigns of this one, but James Foley has a very hit-and-miss track record For hit, see GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. For miss, see WHO'S THAT GIRL?. In other words, when he's hot, he's hot, when he's not, he's not. I'll more than likely see this, more out of morbid curiosity than anything else.

X2 (May 2)
I think that it's no secret that I tend to lean toward the geek side of things, and have a fascination for things such as movies based on comic books. With that said, I'm hyped up for X2 like you wouldn't believe. I really liked the first X-MEN film even with all of its flaws, but this sequel looks like it's going to be better than the original. Now that they've gotten past all the origins stories, which to me was a distraction in the first one, they have time to tell a much more interesting story in this one. Sure, Nightcrawler looks terrible, but DeathStrike looks badass. I'd have liked to see some more new characters put in to the foreground, but I'm sure there's some more sequels to go, so hopefully we will get a Gambit and a Beast and some Sentinels before it's all said and done. Anyway, it looks like they're centering this around Wolverine again, which is the smartest possible thing they can do. Anyway, I'm here for this one, opening night. No doubt about it.

In an interesting take on a military movie, BUFFALO SOLDIERS promises to be a weird genrefuck of a movie, as much comedy as it is drama. Or at least that's what I hear through various buzz sites. Anyway, it stars Jaoquin Phoenix as a rogue Army soldier at the end of the cold war who runs a black market. It also start Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, and Anna Paquin, who I guess is gearing up for a big season with this and X2 in her cap. Anyway, it's gotten some good press after being displayed in the festival circuit, and I've been pretty interested in seeing it for some time, so I'll definitely put this on my list of must-sees.

I've said it several times before, and I'll say it again: I was, for lack of a better word, utterly underwhelmed by the whole MATRIX phenomenon. I saw the original in a big multiplex and enjoyed it at the time, but really just didn't understand the cult sensation that it became. It was a decent little sci-fi flick, but no better than hundreds of other similair movies that get forgotten all the time. So when I saw the first trailer for this sequel, I wasn't exactly blown away. I mean, same shit, different villain. Anyway, I'll likely wind up seeing it right off the bat with my friends, but it's not something I'm looking forward to seeing. Ditto for the other sequel, due out this Winter.

Jim Carrey has never been one of my favorite Hollywood personas, and I personally think he may have worn out his welcome in the world of top draws. He's delivered some pretty funny moments, as well as at least one great performance in his career, but overall he's always kind of disappointed me. Here he reteams with Tom Shadyac, who he worked with on the more-annoying-than-funny ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE as well as LIAR LIAR, a fairly underwhelming 1997 comedy. This film's trailer elicited a whole lotta "eh" from my friends and I, which I think sums up my feelings on it. Oh, and it features Morgan Freeman, the quintessential Magic Negro, playing God.

So far, the Pixar company has been on a tear. The fifth feature from the CGI studio, and the fifth film written by Andrew Stanton for the studio, FINDING NEMO follows TOY STORY 1 and 2, A BUG'S LIFE, and MONSTERS, INC. This time the subject is fish. Now, I've always been strangely fascinated with things found under the sea, and so far, Pixar is yet to disappoint me. Sure, their movies are bit safe and have generic Disney-friendly stories, but they're all a whole lot of fun to watch. I'll be there for this one, you can bet on that.

On top of all these, there's a bunch of other stuff on the way, including the 1960sesque romantic comedy DOWN WITH LOVE, the last-straw-for-Eddie-Murphy's-career comedy DADDY DAY CARE, and the directorial debut of John Malcovitch, THE DANCER UPSTAIRS; before the Summer months kick in and turn the volume up to 11. I'll do my best to keep up with the latest in the theater, and report on wha tI can here on this site.


All Material Copyright © 1998-2006 Movie Criticism for the Retarded.

For questions, comments, or the occasional stalking letter, send mail to Noel Wood. Please give proper credit when using any materials found within this site.

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