Time for small reviews. I heart small reviews.
Monster House (2006, dir. Kenan) - At first I felt that Monster House was really strange. The animation looked really odd, like Flushed Away with it's CGI-made-to-look-like-claymation but not as, er, claymayey (wtf?) And it was obvious that this was meant to be 3D, what with crazy things flying at the screen (which reminds me, I promise to get a Cinema of the Absurd entry up soon!!!) But after a while I got into the vibe. The characters were great. Maggie Gyllenhaal does great voice work, y'all. And there were some great setpieces in there, it felt like a cousin of Toy Story. Nice stuff all round and that makes it a year where I really like all three Best Animated Feature nominees. B+
Friends with Money (2006, dir. Holofcener) - Okay, so here's something I don't admit to very often, but I sort of really dislike Fellinni's La Dolce Vita. I think it's a terribly boring exercise in showing how wonderful being rich is. Friends with Money is sort of similar, in that it just shows rich being rich except this time one of their friends IS POOR! *gasp* She gets samples from makeup counters instead of spending $75 on a proper jar of useless crap. There's some nice stuff there, but ultimately it doesn't have enough to say and that point is proven by the fact that the film isn't even 80 minutes long. It never lifts off. Catherine Keener is great though. C+
Shut Up & Sing (2006, dir. Koppel & Peck) - Y'all know my affection for Dixie Chicks leadsinger Natalie Maines. It makes me sad to know that this fabulous documentary was ignored for the most part. I suppose people like to think they can reduce the temperature of Earth. Either way, Shut Up & Sing is a great great film. Those idiotic redneck assholes still don't get it, and while it's not exactly fun seeing the war in Iraq descent into lunacy, watching this film just can't help but put a cheshire car grin on my face. Natalie For President, indeed. A-
Lastly, I'm not sure how many of you guys read the delightful six things while it was in service, but the writer of that blog, a chap by the name of par3128 who is a fellow Victorian, sent me a copy of Shut Up & Sing and, well, it made my week. Thank you Par! You're awesome. It was in my DVD player five minutes after I retrieved it from the letterbox. I exploded on the inside.