Friday, October 19, 2001

From Hell / ***1/2 (2001)

"One day men will look back and say I gave birth to the twentieth century."
-Jack the Ripper

Society has been fascinated over the years with homicidal maniacs considerably less monstrous than that of the ambiguous Jack the Ripper, a serial killer whom, in 1888 London, killed five prostitutes in ritualistic and horrendous ways, and then seemingly vanished into thin air, never to be found or heard from again. Many allude to his existence as that of the first tabloid star, a man whose heinous acts were so widely reported and anticipated by the media, thousands of newspapers were literally born in England because of him. What's most disturbing, perhaps even more then the killings themselves, is that this was likely the whole point behind the Ripper's crimes. He didn't simply know his mayhem would raise him to celebrity status in the eyes of the public, he knew that he would set a standard for future generations to imitate.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs / ***1/2 (1937)

Sometimes it takes an earth-shattering event before you are able to truly appreciate something you haven't before, and the recent DVD release of Disney's first animated feature, "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs," is evidence of that. What the studio has done in restoring their crown jewel of feature animation is one of the most astonishing things we will ever see, a sophisticated and informative remargining of one of cinema's most beloved movie fairy tales that doesn't simply present a restored classic as much as it re-energizes it.

Friday, October 12, 2001

Bandits / ***1/2 (2001)

Crime capers are some of the most perplexing types of movies we will ever come in contact with, not simply because they so closely peer into the lives of seemingly untouchable outlaws, but because they tend to treat the situation with a dynamic sense of fanaticism. As crooks wave around weapons and shout out orders to innocent bystanders, suddenly they become celebrities, revered by thousands of onlookers who view their audacious actions not as crimes, but as interventions against government. Such a case is the essential point behind "Bandits," the newest movie under director Barry Levinson's belt, which sees two escaped convicts almost effortlessly rob bank after bank along the US west coast, and develop a devoted fan base as a result.

Zoolander / 1/2* (2001)

"Zoolander" is preceded by a tag line that states "3% body fat, 1% brain activity," of course referring to the title character, a model who (by intention) has a mental capacity so low that you could practically step over it. Anyone who has bothered to sit through the movie, however, will think of it to be also an appropriate description for the film itself, which is by far one of the most frustrating, painful, lackluster and idiotic comedies made in the past year. Featuring Ben Stiller in the lead and a script hell-bent on poking fun at an already self-parodied business, one wonders what the real direct intention of this half-assed job could have been: to kill time in the actor's schedule, to cheat unsuspecting victims of their hard-earned money, or simply to provide several well-known actors the luxury of being able to say, "Hey, I was in a movie with that person!" without ever actually having to put in much effort into the task.