Movie Quickies

The Italian Job

Fluffly, summer fun, if a bit stiff and formulaic. Mark Wahlberg calls in a rather subdued performance, but Mos Def and Jason Statham are pretty good. All told, this is fun in a “completely-forgotten-in-15-minutes” way; in other words, perfect summer fare. I have a real weakness for “plan the heist” movies, to be honest. That said, I don’t get why Seth Green keeps getting roles, though I guess whenever a casting director says, “We need a baby-faced geek!”, he fits the bill. I can’t help but think that he’s the movie version of that Much Music guy, Rick “The Temp” Campanelli - a low wattage talent, but at least he tries hard.

The Hulk

Ponderously slow, and a real disappointment. Ang Lee seemed to be a rather strange choice to helm this, and it shows. There’s way too much gabbing and pensive, sidelong glances, and not enough clobbering going on; Ang Lee couldn’t resist going the existential route, I suppose. Nick Nolte’s incoherent street-person character doesn’t help, though I guess he did the best with what he had. Jennifer Connelly spends a lot of time looking alternately forlorn and dazed. The entire movie really needs an ample serving of WWE!, and way less Why?. For what it’s worth, I thought the Hulk scenes weren’t as unconvincing as some people had reported, though it may be still a few years before Hollywood replaces real actors with technology. The ending is MIA, as is Sam Elliot’s chin; this is symbolic, methinks.


Eight American kids vie for the National Spelling Bee championship; suspense ensues. This movie kicked ass in so many ways. The secret to making good documentaries, it seems, is to choose the right people to talk to, and director Jeffrey Blitz has done just that. He then follows up great interviews with some impeccable editing, and tastefully subtle transitions. He also does a brilliant job of sowing early seeds of suspense: which one of these kids we are being introduced to will win? Funny, surreal, and entertaining in the way that only reality (true reality, not that made-up TV stuff) can be.

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