Catherine Zeta-Jones

Intolerable Cruelty

Year: 2003
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Several contributors including the Coen brothers

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out during a time when I had recently discovered the Coen brothers and thought they were the greatest duo in the business.  For that matter, I still think they are two of the greatest filmmakers out there but I do not think this was their best movie.  I think it is a good movie that features so much of what makes them great.  The elaborate set design, the witty dialogue, and the interesting characters that are always featured in their films are all in this one. The Coen brothers are also really great when it comes to casting their films.  This movie, like many of their others, is driven by the powerful performances of the actors they chose to cast.

The main two stars of this film are Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney.  I have never been a fan of either really although I have enjoyed many of their movies. This movie was Zeta-Jone’s follow-up to her Academy Award winning role in Chicago. She showed an incredible amount of talent in Chicago so I cannot say she isn’t a good actress but I have always thought of her more as just a pretty face.  She is a very beautiful woman but I always felt that was all that kept her in the movies because outside of Chicago I don’t think she has had a stellar career. She plays her part in this movie well but I don’t know that there is any honor to be had in playing this role well.  She is a cruel and bloodsucking woman in this movie and this part is probably a big part of why I don’t care for her that much.  Clooney is good in this movie as he is good in many movies but I just cannot stand the man.  No matter what he does or how many good movies he makes I will never get over his horrible stint as Batman in one of the worst movies of all time, Batman & Robin. He destroyed the Batman franchise with that role, he should be ashamed of himself.

I think some of the other actors, even in the smallest of roles, manage to outshine the stars of the film a bit.  I think Cedric the Entertainer was hilarious as Gus Petch and really thought this was the beginning of great things to come from him. I haven’t seen him in anything lately but I do think he is really funny. Geoffrey Rush is an amazing actor who is as talented as they come.  I love the opening scene when he catches his wife having an affair.  He has such a great accent that works well for both humor or evil and I like how it gives him diversity as an actor. I am a fan of Richard Jenkins and he is in many Coen brothers movies.  I think he is really funny in this one playing the part of Freddie Bender.  I don’t necessarily think Billy Bob Thorton did anything spectacular in his role but he was a hot commodity at the time this movie came out.  I have never understood it but the guy was so popular. I guess a lot of it had to do with his relationship with Angelina Jolie, which was weird enough to keep everybody interested.

Watching this movie now I can see what it was that I liked about it ten years ago.  It is clever and well made.  Today I don’t really care for it quite as much because it is all about divorce.  There is nothing funny about divorce and I specifically don’t like movies about it.  This one mostly mocks the practice of money grubbing marriages though so I don’t know that it really qualifies the same way.  These are loveless marriages all about sex and philandering and greed.  It’s still divorce though and all these kinds of divorces do is sully something that is already dirty.

Despite that this is still a good movie and I think it is worth your time.  It may not be the best Coen bros’ movie but it is still a Coen Bros movie and this means there is something to it.  These guys are the best even when they aren’t at their best.  It’s been ten years since this movie came out now and I think there is a good chance in another ten years it will be a movie nobody remembers.  So check it out if you have a chance and let us know what you think.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I still love these guys, but this is by far my least favorite of the Coen Brothers movies. I love all of their films. They are witty and interesting tales. Like books made into incredible movies, except they wrote the books themselves and you can see every single detail that is their style throughout their films, much like a Tim Burton film. I just didn’t like the whole story. The movie was shot well and is interesting enough, but I didn’t really love the story of divorce lawyers and marrying for money. I figure that this story has already been told, and usually the Coens’ stories are so original.

MPW-7461

This is a very clean poster. Nothing really special. You have the movie tagline, followed by an off center picture of them, and then the billing and title at the bottom. I love a nice sans serif font, so I don’t hate this poster, it is actually really nice, but I just don’t think that it is anything special.

NEXT MOVIE: I, Robot (2004)

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Chicago

Year: 2002
Directed By: Rob Marshall
Written By: Bill Condon and Bob Fosse

RYAN’S REVIEW

I remember taking Amber to see this movie back in 2002 when we were just a couple horny teenagers.  I took her to see it because I was probably trying to get her into bed but I actually ended up enjoying the movie.  I distinctly remember being really impressed with the film and telling many people how good it was.  This movie isn’t one I would have ever seen on my own because it really isn’t up my alley.  I did thoroughly enjoyed the movie despite all that and I think that’s part of what makes it such a great film.  I especially didn’t think a musical had any place in the film industry in 2002 but was proven wrong.  This movie got nominated for nearly everything and won many of the nominations including Best Picture and Supporting Actress for Catherine Zeta-Jones.  Renee Zellweger, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, and Rob Marshall were all nominated as well.

I have never been a big fan of Renee Zellweger but I cannot deny that she is fantastic actress.  She will be in a couple of our upcoming movies in the “C” section of our collection too.  I happen to like her roles in those movies better (Cinderella Man and Cold Mountain specifically) and I’d rather discuss her at more depth in those posts.  I do not like Richard Gere either, in fact I specifically don’t watch films with him in it, this film being a rare exception.  I think it’s because of Pretty Woman, that damn movie spawned tons of films with the exact same damn premise.  I typically avoid Julia Roberts for the same reason.  I can’t say Gere really brought much to the film. I suppose that it is something that he didn’t bring the film down, but a better actor could have been cast in his role. Catherine Zeta-Jones is great in this movie and really deserved her Oscar.  In this movie she explodes with talent that I don’t think many people even knew she had in her. She is singing and dancing with intensity and she is so seductive. I have always been indifferent to her as an actress though and while she is a beautiful woman she just isn’t really my type. Queen Latifah is great as well in this movie, this performance helped her career greatly at the time when her star was rising.  I am a big fan of John C. Reilly and like him in nearly everything he does.  I am not always a fan of his really goofy movies with Will Ferrell but he has made many great movies as a serious actor including this film. Lucy Lui also makes a great cameo in this movie, but I feel she has never risen to her full potential as an actress. Rob Marshall did a good job with this movie but I haven’t seen any other film he has made.  In 2009 he made what appeared to be a very similar film to this one, Nine, with Daniel Day-Lewis but it wasn’t not nearly as successful.

Amber and I actually took a vacation to Chicago this year and since we are reviewing a movie by the same name I would like to take the chance to say a little about the city.  Chicago can be intimidating because it is so large but it is very tourist friendly.  What really impressed me the most about the city, besides its beautiful architecture and never-ending buildings, was how traffic was handled.  For a town with so many people traffic seemed to be a non issue.  There is a unique network of roads in Chicago and traffic directors on duty during what would typically be rush hour and they direct both vehicles and pedestrians.  Chicago is unique because it is a city that was built to be a city.  Nearly the entire city was destroyed during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and when rebuilding started city planners and architects from all over the country came to help.  The city was designed by the best people available to be a great city and that’s exactly what they made.  We had a great trip and I would recommend it as a vacation spot to anyone looking for somewhere awesome to go.

Now back to the movie, I can attest that this movie can be enjoyed by anybody because I like it.  As I said before this is a movie that isn’t really up my alley.  It’s based on a Broadway show, there’s signing and dancing, it stars an actor I specifically don’t like, and actresses I’m not all that fond of. For all intensive purposes I should hate this movie but on the contrary I like it.  The songs aren’t bad, the choreography is very good, and the performances are great. This was a great movie and it is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan’s crazy. I totally took him to see this to get him into bed. I really don’t remember if that’s the truth of it, or if I just really wanted to see this film. I was still in high school when this came out and I was taking a film critique class, in which we watched Guys and Dolls. I thoroughly enjoyed that one so much, that when I saw this trailer on television, I just knew that I had to go and see it. I am so glad we did. I remember being blown away by how good it actually was. The music fits so well into every scene so seamlessly. Most musicals just piss me off because it is just singing and dancing and no plot, a lot like the recent abomination on television: Glee. (My good friend Jessica would kill me for saying that.)

If you aren’t that into musicals, I get that, but this one is different. This one is worth watching. I even have the soundtrack and can sing all the songs, and that is very unlike me. Check this one out. If anything, you get to see a bunch of hot ladies dancing around in hardly nothing. I also want to mention the outstanding performances of Queen Latifah, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Richard Gere.

NEXT MOVIE: Chinatown (1974)