My rating: 5 out of 5

I found this movie very touching. It starts off quite surreal, but it gradually warms up and really grabs you by the end. Zach Braff did a fantastic job of portraying Andrew Largeman’s disconnection with life and the strange and wonderful journey he takes to get back into it.

Under the Tuscan Sun spoke to me of sun-warmed fields, good food, and great companions. It made me wish that I was the sort of person who could drop everything and go live in Italy. The evocation of the country reminds me of Stealing Beauty, another movie with incredible imagery that grabs me, even without the story.

It’s fascinating to me that the movie is based on a book of the same name, which is a memoir based on author Francis Mayes’ experience of buying and renovating a villa in Tuscany. It is the book which brings us the vivid picture of the area, the house, and the people. Of course, a memoir would not make a good movie without a plot, and so there is a story nestled into it by producer Audrey Wells, with Diane Lane playing a writer, Francis, who finds herself in Italy after a staggering divorce.

The story seems perfectly at home in this golden version of Italy. It is not heavy-handed with its romance or its comedy, because this is definitely not what you would usually call a romantic comedy. There is love, but no main love interest. There is heartbreak, but no astounding turn of events to sweep it away. It is a story that tells us that life continues. There is sorrow and joy, back and forth, because life is both of those. She finds love and loses it, but the important thing is that she comes to believe in herself.

The way that friends collect around her is beautiful, and she slowly comes to have a sort of family here, so far away from what she knows. Contractors, neighbors, and the real estate agent are among those who become important to her, and vice versa, as the movie unfolds. Eventually, she is joined by her friend from America, played by Sandra Oh, whom I love. There is something wonderfully expressive about her face. Her friend, who was so in love when Francis left America, is now also in need of healing.

In the end, nothing is certain, except that beauty comes in unexpected places.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is, as expected, utterly predictable. It is exceedingly charming and witty in its predictability, though. Kate Hudson plays the perfect modern woman, gorgeous, independent, spunky, yet ladylike. Matthew McConaughey fills out his typical role as a dashing and adorable hunk, boyish, but sweet inside.

At least until the end.

I thought I knew how they were going to wrap the story up. I figured that, after falling in love, she would convince herself that she had to make a last ditch effort to wrap up her story. That would be stupid though, since she didn’t need to to actually go through with it in order to write her story. Instead, they went with the classic situation where each party finds out about the other’s deception at the last minute. (Yeah, I know, I should have seen that coming.) Somehow, it wasn’t quite what I expected. It was very funny and lovely; everything that a romantic comedy should be.

Love Actually had the potential to be bad, very bad. It’s a romantic comedy, it’s British, it’s about eight movies rolled into one. All of these things could make it good, but any one of them could go horribly wrong. But it didn’t.

It was a charming movie. Maybe a little cliche at time, but that’s what entertainment is for. Like any romantic comedy, the end is fairly predictable, at least for most of the story lines. However, the road there is quirky and delivers quite a few laughs. I was amused, I was touched, I loved it. It was a solid set of stories played by terrific actors.

Many people have said that the Matrix movies have been getting progressively disappointing. After watching the final film of the trilogy, The Matrix: Revolutions, I’d have to disagree. The action sequences have definitely increased, but perhaps that’s unavoidable when building up to the final confrontation between man and machine. Maybe the love scenes have been a little cliche, but people have been writing love stories for hundreds of years. There’s only so much that can be said.

The Matrix was a special movie, a ground-breaker. It was an innovative tale that constantly turned us on our ears, stretching our perceptions of reality. It stands on its own. There’s only so many times you can stretch something before it rips. Eventually, you have to take the plot and run with it to see where it leads. Barring the few trite moments and overboard action sequences to which most films fall victim, I have really enjoyed the Matrix series. I even liked the final fight scene in this movie, after being rather annoyed by the battle of the Many Smiths.

(I’m going to continue, however, you may not wish to read on if you don’t want the movie to be spoiled.)

The movie came to an exciting and intriguing conclusion, with enough left hanging to make one wonder. In fact, I’d love to see something along the lines of The Animatrix that explores the future of the peace founded by Neo. How do the machines and humans come to form an agreement? How do they live together? I know it would never make a feature film, but I think it would be cool to have a few glimpses. The Matrix is something that’s distant enough from our world that it is hard for me to imagine how the rest will unfold.

The films hang together nicely. They’re not perfect, but nothing ever is. I believe they are worthy, though.

The Hulk was not your average comic book film. Ang Lee gives it a deeper feel, which I think suits it well. The Hulk is all about internal struggle, between his higher-functioning brain and the more primal corner that contains his power. Lee focuses on that introspectiveness.

To those who say the CG graphics are horrible, I say “phooey.” Well, except for the part with the mutant dogs. That just looked bad. But the rest is the Hulk as he was meant to be. Large and in charge… and green.

The Animatrix is a collection of animated short films that are based on the world of The Matrix, including The Last Flight of the Osiris, a computer animated film done so well that you could almost believe that the people were actually filmed. Some of stories were written or outlined by the Wachowski brothers and others were created by the animation artists themselves. The different interpretations that each artist brings to the visual world of the Matrix is fascinating. Some of the stories fill in history of the Matrix. Others are more explorations of the idea of the Matrix. If you’re a fan of the Matrix movies, you must see this.

The Ice Storm is a movie about family. It’s about the people who tear us apart and put us back together. Not a lot actually “happens” in this haunting Ang Lee film threaded through with images of ice. The ice storm itself is a major event, but it’s only secondary to the true meaning of the story. It doesn’t matter what happens, but instead how the characters react to it.

The film is also an interesting portrayal of life in 1973. The parents are searching for identity and experimenting with drugs and sexuality as much as the kids are. Watch it, and think about what family means to you.

Check out this really in-depth analysis of The Matrix Reloaded.

My basic thesis is that Matrix Reloaded is a story about Genesis. Not the creation story. I mean the transcendence story that comes immediately after the creation story, in which the serpent, who is Loki the Inventor God, who is Neo, leads humanity from the Garden into Middle Earth. (I have a sneaking suspicion the three-movie arc is going to be about machine evolution as well.)