What We're Watching Now...end of 2004 must sees

I’m on a film watching frenzy as free time is about to disappear from my life as I know it. I need to know what you folks are watching these days that I have to see. Especially films you’ve seen that came out this year, in anticipation of “list season” to come.

I’ve bumped all decent 2004 releases that I can think of–and that are available–to the top of my Netflix queue. If it’s foreign or obscure I may have missed it though.

Of late I’ve seen…

-Spartan: damn fine thriller with a blatantly miscast lead. Some actors can do Shakespeare, some can’t. Ditto with Mamet. Val Kilmer can’t. He tries gamely, but there are moments of serious ouch with the language that really jerked me out of it. I still liked it a great deal.

-Before Sunset: I absolutely loved the first film. I know that makes me a girl, but that’s okay. This sequel, follow up, whatever, is quite good. The two leads are jarringly looking older–Ethan Hawke in particular looks almost sickly–but their chemistry is undeniable. Some of the best dialogue I’ve heard in ages. But REALLY short. Like seventy-five minutes.

-The Butterfly Effect: Why was everybody so down on this movie? I was very pleasantly surprised. And annoyed. I hate it when somebody I thought was a goofball idiot turns out decent work.

-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Amazing film. Watched it twice in two weeks. Would watch it again. Heartbreaking and wonderful. And a fantastic American accent by Kate Winslet.

-Sideways: I keep forgetting to start a thread on this one. If it’s available in your town…GO TO SEE THIS FILM. It’s fantfuckingtastic.

Okay. I suppose that’s enough for now. I need some recommendations. Thanks.

“I like to watch.”


You’ll still have film watching time for the foreseeable future. It’ll just be at home, during naptime, or after the kid’s bedtime. Also, an infant can scramble your life -especially your sleep schedule- but when you have a 2 year old, you’ll long for the relative ease of an infant that falls asleep on your chest.

(Let that happen as much as you can man)

I can’t wait to see Sideways, but I’m a parent, so I’m going to have to. ;-)

The thing I’m learning about having a two-year old is that you have to start being careful what you watch. When he was younger, I could watch any DVD I wanted- he was either napping or wandering around or eating.

Now that he’s older, I have to be a little more circumspect. I was hiding in the basement watching Narc the other night and he pops in during the opening shakycam pregnant woman shooting. Great timing.

Sideways premiered here last week, at the High Falls film fest. We tried to go see it, but misjusdged the crowd, and it was sold out. It’s definitely next on my list, though.

What the hell is so great about Sideways? The trailers make it look like it’s about two guys who drink a lot and try to get laid.

Sideways starts of really weak in my opinion, but it ends up being a really nice, touching character piece. Great dialogue, some genuinely funny moments, and a really nice “slice of life” feel.

I liked the first film as well. However, this sequel was tedious and cliched IMO. Walk around Paris and talk and give some closure to the first movie, for the sake of it.

Agree with you on Butterfly Effect. Its like the first thing that Ashton Kutcher has done thats worth watching.

I liked the first film as well. However, this sequel was tedious and cliched IMO. Walk around Paris and talk and give some closure to the first movie, for the sake of it.

I wouldn’t call it closure at all. The ending of the second film shares the same characteristics of the first. It’s a sequel in true form imo.

Which version did you see? I watched the director’s cut and thought the ending was pretty powerful. Although not having watched the theatical cut, the two alternate endings on the DVD made little sense to me until I read the theatrical version’s ending on moviepooper.com. I also realized from the spoiler that I had chosen wisely. The acting was pretty weak in spots, and the time traveling unforseen consequences plot was predictable, but the director’s cut ending made up for all of it.

Re: Spartan

I don’t agree that it was miscast. I thought Kilmer pulled off the part perfectly. He’s an emotionless hardass with utter faith in the system until the system turns on him. He doesn’t all of a sudden change, he just changes his targets.

I thought he was nearly perfect in the role. Of course I’m a huge Kilmer fan anyway.

Perhaps I wasn’t entirely clear. While I like Val Kilmer’s acting in the role overall–I kind of like the Spartan man he’s playing–I just think he’s the wrong choice for the part under this director. I get what he’s going for–though I still think the Hudsucker Proxy thing is a stretch, Tom–I just don’t think he can handle the language. So when I say miscast, I don’t mean to be harsh. He’s doing fine as an actor, as far as that goes. He’s just not right for the part in that this is a Mamet film. If this were a Michael Mann film of the same story…maybe. But not Mamet. He does not get the rhythm, the cadence of Mamet.

Watch Homicide and listen to Joe Mantegna. Then watch this film–specifically the scene right before Kilmer’s character intercepts the boyfriend. What you’ll hear in Homicide is an actor in tune with the language of his writer. Perfectly. Mamet almost always seems slightly stilted, but coming from Mantegna (or William H. Macy, or Lindsay Crouse, or Ricky Jay), the dialogue seems natural based on the world of the film they are in. The language creates that world, and they are clearly denizens of that world. What you’ll hear in Spartan is an actor trying to play at saying the words the right way. He’s a gamer, but he just doesn’t have the rhythm. He has his moments, certainly, but he’s wrong for the part here.

That was enough to throw it off for me. I still loved the film though.

“Do you wanna gossip or do you wanna shoot somebody?”


Which version did you see? I watched the director’s cut and thought the ending was pretty powerful.[/quote]

We watched the theatrical cut. When given a choice, I like to watch the theatrical cut first, then see the director’s cut and decide if it works. The rental dvd has the director’s cut on the flip side, so I’m hoping to see it before I have to return it.

I have to say again how pleasantly surprised I am at this film. It’s not perfect by any means, but it is one of those films that has stuck with me for days after seeing it. My mind keeps messing with it. A lot of it is bullshit, but it still makes me think. I like that.

“You can’t play God, son.”


Oh, and since I’ve referenced two memory films here, I just saw another one last night…Paycheck. Ouch. I just hate it when there’s the kernel of a good idea there–thank you Mr. Dick–and they just squander it.

About twenty minutes into the film they finally hit a scene where I could say, “Okay, the screenplay should have started here.” When that happens, you know you’re in trouble.

“Some of the best things in life are mistakes.”


You’re just going to go to a different schedule - the DVD release will matter, not the theatrical release.

That said, can’t help with the list. :) I will advise all property lawyers to avoid watching House of Sand and Fog, though.

Two more films:

A Home at the End of the World: Just watched that tonight. Good little film. Not great, but good. A bit soapy, to be sure. With a fantastic performance by Colin Farrell. Funny to see him in this, really doing a good job playing an interesting, vulnerable character, while he’s being paraded about in promo’s as that ridiculously blonde Alexander. My mom called me tonight after having seen it and asked, “So…have you seen ‘Alexander the Pitiful’ yet?” She’s not buying that anybody would want to follow a guy that brooding and gloomy.

At any rate, he’s great in A Home…, though I must register one caveat: DON’T watch this film with your in-laws. Even if they claim to be progressives.

You think I would have learned my lesson after taking them to see Bad Santa last year.

Jersey Girl: What the hell happened here? Did Kevin Smith get castrated in order to make this film? Did he lose a bet? Or was he challenged to make a gutless “real” film at last? Oy. You know in the first five minutes you’re in trouble, when he does the “children giving reports in front of the class” routine and the pudgy kid makes a fat joke. Nice work, Kevin. Now go watch Annie Hall and say five Hail, Marys.

It wasn’t terrible. But it was mediocre. Which I consider worse.

I realize that since I’ve written this he’ll probably have me beaten up in his next film…but oh well.

“Did you post as ‘Magnolia Fan’ on Moviepoopshoot.com?”


P.S. Baby Watch 2004 goes on…

Finally saw “Sideways” last night with Teh Missus, and I’m going to have to go with that as my favorite movie (with a few weeks left) of 2004. Just awesome on every level.