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A Few Capsule Movie Reviews
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On some movies I've seen recently:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Although it was actually more faithful in most ways to the original book than the 1971 movie (except for the awful familial subplot involving Wonka's dad), there's nothing that the 1971 movie didn't do much, much better (except maybe production values).

The oompa-loompa numbers blow. The ending is protacted and dumb. But most of all, Wonka is a creeped out weirdo with absolutely no charisma. Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka is about 1000 times better. He came across as an eccentric, yes. But he was likeable. Not some pasty-faced loon-ball who titters nervously at everything. I'd actually want to win the grand prize if I were a kid and in the 1971 world. Would I want to go live with Depp and Burton's Wonka? way in hell.

Wedding Crashers

Okay, a few funny moments. If that's all you're going for, yeah, it's okay. But I couldn't help being reminded of the way I felt at the end of Sideways, another movie about two degenerates out wooing women. I felt sad for Virginia Madsen's character for ending up with Paul Giamatti's. He was barely one step up from his poonhound friend. I mean, he stole from his own mother, for frig's sake. Same deal with the girl at the end of this movie. She goes from a testosterone-filled bull-jerk to...Owen Wilson's con artist. You're usually supposed to feel good that the guy at the end of a romantic comedy gets the girl...but what if the guy is just a total fuckwad?

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Rented this the other day since I'd never really seen it all the way through. A friend noted that it's the highest-rated Western on IMDB. If so, that doesn't say much for the genre. Badly dubbed. Poorly edited. And the story is a sloppy mess. Ask anyone who's seen it if they remember anything about the story. It's basically an excuse for individual scenes that somebody thought was cool. And some of them are cool. Others are downright silly. E.g., in one scene Tuco (Eli Wallach), as "Ugly", has just gotten the drop on Blondie (Clint Eastwood), as "Good" (and what's with the name "Blondie"? He's not blond, and besides, he's supposed to be Leone's famous "the man with no name", but Tuco calls him that about a hundred times). Anyway, Tuco's about to make Blondie hang himself, and then BAM!, a stray cannonball (I shit you not) crashes into the hotel room, knocking Tuco down to the second story and allowing Blondie to escape. Huh? This is the midst of the Civil War, but was that a stray cannonball from Confederate cannon practice, or was the Union invading the town? Who gives a shit? Next scene is Tuco tracking Blondie across the desert.

I could forgive a couple weird continuity shifts, but the whole friggin movie is this way.

I remember renting The Wild Bunch a few years ago after hearing praise about Sam Peckinpah from directors like Quentin Tarantino. Didn't even finish that movie, it was so bad...and swore to never pick up another Peckinpah movie again.

For Westerns, I'll take Shane or The Magnificent Seven for classics, and Eastwood's later stuff was much, much better, including stuff like Pale Rider and Unforgiven.

[EDIT]: I forgot to add...The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly does have a killer soundtrack. So...there's that.

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