Writer's strike comes to a close, more 'quick hit' film reviews

Cary Ashby
Mar 29, 2010


Sorry I didn't get to blog last week, but I was up to my elbows with traveling for interviews followed by the necessary writing Thursday and Friday.


The big news is the writer's strike will be over, so now it's anybody's guess as to when we'll see new episodes. My guess is the absolute earliest would be very late spring, but that's wishful thinking. It would make more sense to wait for the fall instead of just giving audiences a handful of episodes before the summer break.


Two weeks ago I finally saw the episode where Warrick suspects the crime boss is behind the death of the exotic dancer whom Warrick had "been with." It helped make the second part make a lot more sense.


Not a lot to say, except I applaud Nick for being a stand-up guy and telling Warrick he needs help with possible dependency issues. Maybe the writers could pull in that subplot and Heath Ledger's untimely accidental overdose and put together a timely (yet hopefully not preachy) show on the danger of prescription drug abuse.


Even more importantly, I want to see this subplot with the knee-breaker Mafia-like crime boss resolved soon after we get some new episodes.


QUICK HIT REVIEWS RETURN: Naturally, I've been watching a bunch of DVDs, so here are more three- to four-sentence reviews on some old favorites and a couple newbies:


• "Polar Express" — It bothers me when a Christmas movie fails to excite the kid in me and capture that not-so-elusive holiday spirit. Although I've never read the book, the film seems to have a lot of filler material. It could have used being 25 minutes shorter. Like a lot of people, the chilling"dead eye" look in the characters' eyes gives me the willies, as does the black girl's asymmetrical face. Grade: D


• "The Squid and the Whale" — I had heard some good things about this and typically enjoy Jeff Daniels' work, but the younger brother's potty mouth was too much to take. Since we couldn't make it past the first 28 minutes, I won't bother grading it.


• "World Trade Center" — Trimming the picnic epilogue and going straight from John McLoughlin being pulled from the debris to the narrative historical comments would have given the ending much more punch. The use of the McLoughlins having flashbacks of each other after the towers collapsed added a nice touch. Nicolas Cage shouldn't have tried to emulate a New York accent; it was horrible to the point of distraction. Grade: B-


• "X-Men: The Last Stand" — Bryan Singer's version probably would have upped the tension in the Cyclops-Jean Grey-Wolverine love triangle, but I stand by my original assessment that Brett Ratner does some fine storytelling here.


I hadn't realized how much foreshadowing there is to the conclusion until I paid close attention to Professor X's dialogue in the first half-hour this time around. Ratner should have kept the original ending with Wolverine going back to the bar where we first met him; of course I'm a sucker for book end conclusions. Plus it would have set up next year's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." Grade: B+


• "Notting Hill" — The sign of a great movie is one you can revisit and enjoy it every single time. Despite Julia Roberts essentially playing herself and Hugh Grant playing the same role he always does, this is an endearing chick flick that stands the test of time. Grade: A