Saturday, April 14, 2007

War of the Casinos

Last night I watched the Martin Scorcese movie Casino, which features everyone's favorite short guy, Joe Pesci (quick: two points to whoever knows the Full House reference involving Joe Pesci, Dave Coulier, and a potato) along with Robert DeNiro, whose mole was ten feet wide when shown on Frank's 2000-inch TV, and...uh...Sharon Stone. Can anyone think of anything noteworthy she has done? Me neither. Anyway, the movie was, as most of my two-word reviews say, pretty cool. It was a Shakespearian tale of a guy's (DeNiro's) rise to power as a casino owner in Vegas, and subsequent falling out with his longtime friend (Pesci) who has also found power in Vegas as sort of a man in charge of underground muscle. Toss in a broken marriage, some trouble with the FBI, and an Italian restaurant in Kansas City, and you've got the makings of one mighty interesting movie. The first Scorcese movie I can remember seeing is Cape Fear, which was decidedly unimpressive, and ever since then I have been searching for a reason as to why he is so revered (though often snubbed by the Oscars until recently) as a movie director. Casino finally gave me a bit of understanding. Anyone who wants to see a fine director as the top of his game should check it out.

And then this afternoon I watched Spielberg's War of the Worlds. It was like slipping on a pair of old shoes long relegated to under-the-bed or closet status, and remembering why you liked them so much in the first place. Spielberg is right at home in his natural element here: regular dude, broken family, aliens, explosions, and a keen eye for the precise mix of action and suspense that summer moviegoers like to wash down with a jug of Sprite and tub of popcorn. I could do without Tom Cruise (if only Harrison Ford were a bit younger!), but Dakota Fanning was doing what she does best, and doing it well: playing a wide-eyed, scared, emotional girl with more depth than anything Lindsay Lohan or Hillary Duff could ever pull off. Tim Robbins didn't bother me at all, and anytime Morgan Freeman narrates anything, you can probably count on getting your money's worth. Sure, Independence Day had more explosions and straight-up action, as well as any given piece of Michael Bay schlock, but Spielberg never forgets that movies are, first and foremost, about the characters, and War of the Worlds is, while not perfect or even especially great, a nice reminder of why Spielberg is so good at what he does.


Our apartment just installed these new keyless entry thingies that they call Fobs, and I still get a kick out of waving this black plastic square in front of a panel, hearing a beep, and pulling the door open as it is unlocked electronically. I also grabbed a box of extra-fresh Dots at the store today (you can tell by squeezing the box and feeling for squishiness).

Hey, sometimes it's the little things in life that make things fun. :)

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