Underground Film Journal

Mainstream Film


King Kong

The most impressive thing about King Kong is, of course, the giant gorilla himself. Much is being made about Andy Serkis’s physical performance, who acted out the part via motion-capture technology. It is a phenomenal achievement, much more so than his previous role as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies in that as Kong he genuinely climbs, swings from vines, charges and just generally acts like a real gorilla would. It’s unbelievably convincing.

Walk the Line

I really feel sorry for Vivian Cash. Yes, I know Walk the Line is only a fictional film based on real people and events, but why did they have to make Vivian such a major, Grade-A bitch?


Flightplan is a decent thriller. Most of all it’s fun and I was able to get caught up in the ride. The cinematography is very innovative to come up with all kinds of interesting angles, shots and lighting schemes to show the same monotonous location. As I said, Jodie Foster is great and Sean Bean is woefully underused as the stressed-out pilot.

The Constant Gardener

The real heart of the film isn’t about the evil that men do, but what love makes good men do. THE CONSTANT GARDENER is a love story in reverse. Ralph Fiennes is an English diplomat on assignment in Africa and just minutes into the film he discovers that his wife, Rachel Weisz, has been murdered, her body left to rot on a dusty road out in the middle of the desert.


Joe Carnahan’s NARC features some very good performances, although I can’t claim their “best,” from Jason Patric and Ray Liotta. The film actually features a lotta Liotta, who gained several pounds to give his character, potentially dirty detective Henry Oak, a more imposing on-screen presence.

Catch Me If You Can

In Steven Spielberg’s CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, no women are physically hurt or beaten. However, this film shows such utter contempt for women, I found it appalling.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Yes, the little hobbit returns in THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS and is still played with deft wide-eyed sadness by Elijah Wood. (Were Elijah’s eyes somehow computer enhanced to match the bug-eyes of the all-CGI Gollum character?) But what I enjoyed most about the first film — the spirit of camaraderie, the grand adventure, the idea of the littlest creature of all saving the entire world — is completely lacking in this sequel.

8 Mile

8 MILE on the other hand is a thoroughly modern movie, but it’s not hard to imagine in 45 years or so how outmoded it’s prominently featured chummy greeting “Yo, Dog!” will appear. Actually, it’s practically outmoded now. While I thoroughly enjoyed 8 MILE — especially impressed with a screenplay structure that doesn’t allow Eminem to rap for at least a good half-hour so we can see if he can really act or not (he can) — two things about it made me want to scream.


ADAPTATION is a movie about a screenwriter who, when traumatized by a severe case of writer’s block while working on an assignment, decides to insert himself as a character into said screenplay in order to finish it. Myself being a movie reviewer who has frequently inserted a caricature of himself into his reviews, I could relate very much to this film.

Far From Heaven

After seeing Todd Haynes’s FAR FROM HEAVEN, I am certain of one thing:
Dennis Haysbert should run for President in 2004.