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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Big Fish; Galileo; Machete; Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension; and Taken 2

Big Fish   2003   125 minutes   I had forgotten that I had seen this, and I’m glad I saw it again.  A young reporter played by Billy Crudup tries to find the truth behind the obvious lies told by his father, played by Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor.  In flashbacks we see the”lies” played out in a series of almost magical adventures.   The fanciful stories told by Albert Finney may not be totally accurate but there turns out to be a lot of truth in them.  I could see this again, if only to admire the two Chinese actresses who play Siamese twins with two fully developed upper bodies but only one pair of legs.  They come to Finney’s funeral, a joyous occasion after he died happy and reconciled with his son. 

Galileo   1975  138 minutes    This is an English version developed by Charles Laughton of Berthold Brecht’s play about the 17th C mathematician, physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei.  In Brecht’s interpretation, Galileo is always strapped for money, always complaining that he needs undisturbed time for pure research, and sometime a bit of a charlatan, as when he presented the elite businessmen of Venice with a telescope as the product of 17 years research when actually he had gotten the idea some days or weeks before from a young Dutchman who had seen telescopes in Holland.  The main action, of course, is his battle of wits with the church about whether the earth is the center of the universe or a planet that orbits around a minor star, the sun.  Topol as Galileo leads a distinguished cast of British actors.  This film may be old and it looks just like it has been adapted from a play written for live theater, but it is well worth seeing.  Of particular interest are the arguments put forward by the clergy to defend the indefensible. 

Machete   2010  105 minutes   Robert Rodriguez’s best movie is probably still El Mariachi, which he made for about $12,000.  That became a trilogy; budgets were not so limited for the second and third films after investors saw the success of the first one.  He could even afford Johnny Depp.   Machete follows in the same blood and guts tradition, with the good guys finally slaughtering enough bad guys to see that justice is done.  Danny Trejo plays the title role, an ex- Federale on the run from a drug lord named Torres, who tried and failed to kill him.  He gets involved in a bogus assassination attempt in a border town and eventually finds out that the bad guys are in league with Torres in the drug business.  You know Rodriguez has hit the big time when he can cast Robert De Niro, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal and Cheech Marin.  Marin plays a priest who videos what goes on in the confessional and gets himself crucified by the bad guys.   Jessica Alba wastes one of the bad guys by sticking her high heel in his eye.   The whole thing is implausible, ridiculous, gory and funny.  It’s part one of a Machete trilogy.

Phineas and Ferb:  Across the Second Dimension   2011  78 minutes   This is a Disney kids flick which I pulled up on Netflix instant view for my grand children.  They had already watched it a couple of times in their car on a DVD and planned to watch it again on their way home.  They seemed to like it, and I have to admit it was rather inventive.  The animation wasn’t even close to Japanese standards – more like Saturday morning cartoons, but the concept was interesting.

Taken 2   2012   91 minutes   If it wasn’t clear before, it is now.  Don’t mess with Liam Neeson when he’s playing Bryan Mills.  Mills and his wife are abducted by relatives of the Albanian thugs and white slavers he had killed in Taken.  They are after Mill’s daughter too, but with guidance from Mills on a phone he had secreted in his boot she evades the kidnappers and helps her parents escape.  I lost track of how many bad guys Mills killed and how many police cars got wasted in a car chase down the narrow streets and through the markets of Istanbul.  It’s all pretty simplistic, but Neeson is fun to watch in action.

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