Movie Round-Up: February 3, 2004

Barton Fink (1991)
The Coen Brothers have never made a bad movie. They’re perfect. They must be gods or something. Barton Fink is about as finely-crafted a movie as I’ve ever seen. Everything—every single thing—means something. Not a single frame of film is wasted.
Caddyshack (1980)
They don’t make comedies like this anymore. With the exception of Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight, every role is played perfectly straight. The humor is in the words and the nuances, a type of humor at which nobody is better than Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. Unfortunately, this movie gets overplayed on Comedy Central so often and with so many commercial breaks that most people probably don’t know how good it really is.
Cherry 2000 (1987)
This is one of those good bad movies that’s good because it knows how bad it is. The atmosphere is sort of an odd mixture of Brazil and Mad Max, with some really weird original touches thrown in (like a singles bar where dates are arranged by lawyers who draw up contracts and haggle over sexual preferences). If you liked Flash Gordon or The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension, you’ll probably like this. Oh, and the score by Basil Poledouris is incredible (although the version heard in the movie is somewhat ruined by the inexplicable addition of annoying eighties-style percussion).
Fletch Lives (1989)
Not quite as good as Fletch, but still worthy of the name. Chevy Chase has had his share of unfunny flops, but the Fletch movies are by far his best work. The writing is crisp and crackling with sarcasm and Chase’s cool delivery is unbeatable. R. Lee Ermey (the drill instructor from Full Metal Jacket) is also hilarious in a supporting role as a televangelist.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
This movie has Oscar written all over it, but it doesn’t let itself get bogged down in sap or overacting. Jack Nicholson is great, as are Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and the creeptastic Brad Dourif in his first major film role.
The Fighting Temptations (2003)
Ugh. UGH. I saw this on the plane from Chicago to Portland. It was terrible, completely unbearable, and I couldn’t turn it off. I actually considered suicide briefly. It seemed like the movie was written by someone trying to follow a recipe, putting in exactly the called-for amounts of each ingredient at exactly the called-for times, but somehow still ending up with a disgusting, muddled, sloppy mess. Cuba Gooding, Jr. needs to kill his agent and burn the remains, and fast.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Another in-flight movie (Portland to Chicago this time). I didn’t mind it at the time. It’s an okay movie. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, really, it’s just that it’s kinda pointless. Obviously, though, the target demographic is divorced middle-aged women, so I’m probably not getting the full effect. Perhaps I’ll watch it again if I ever become a divorced middle-aged woman. Still, it’s impossible not to like Diane Lane.