As many of you probably don’t know, I helped create CitySearch.com’s early editorial look, and wrote their movie reviews for four years. I’ll refrain from telling most of the good stories here in this public spot, but one horrendous drawback of a company like that is that they tend to erase entire swaths of data for no clear reason. In other words, every single review I ever wrote was banished from this earth forever.
Except that my brother Steve is a forward-thinking genius, and saved them all in PDF format before they were erased. Then he converted them to HTML, and they will be available here until the Sun turns into a Red Dwarf star and swallows our planet whole.
The writing in those reviews varies from excellent to “annoyingly dashed-off and snarky,” and you can tell whether or not I cared, which is a huge no-no in the work of any critic. But it was 1999, and we thought we were changing the world via the internet, and a certain amount of devil-may-care crept into everything. I still stand by most of it.
I used to ask myself one question about a movie: does it accomplish what it sets out to do? I mention this because I have seen three really good movies in a row, and back when I was writing for CitySearch, that would have been cause for a keg party with little powdered donuts.
Master and Commander – It’s funny, a bit cheeky, and obviously made by someone smart (Peter Weir, who brought you “Witness” 20 years ago). The trip around the cape is better than anything in “The Perfect Storm,” even better than the monster wave that ultimately kills them all. I enjoyed Paul Bettany as usual, his pre-Darwinian character bringing an old-school sense of wonder to the Galapagos Islands, and the battle scenes are pretty fucking terrific. It’s a movie that wanted to be a smart action film, and succeeds. Dana told Lindsay I said it was an “astonishingly good film” and I corrected her by saying “no, it’s just astonishing that a film like this could be good.” Which might be even better.
Runaway Jury – Old-fashioned potboiler crap served up etoufee-style in the heart of New Orleans, and I loved every minute of it. It’s even got Gene Hackman in full evil dander, with Dustin Hoffman finally playing someone I can stand. There’s a great little bit with these two guys in a bathroom, unnecessary to the plot, but obviously written just to see them together