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Reviews galore! GARDEN STATE, THE NOTEBOOK, TREKKIES 2 and more!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a plethora of reviews for your reading pleasure... I got a bundle of SPIDER-MAN 2 reviews that I'll get to posting shortly, but first I have some looks at the Natalie Portman starring GARDEN STATE, tear jerker THE NOTEBOOK and geekdome caught on film TREKKIES 2. It sounds like THE NOTEBOOK works and I'm glad to hear it. Writer Jan Sardi's still searching for distribution directorial debut LOVE'S BROTHER won me over at the Santa Barbara Film Festival this year. It's one of the most smartly written romantic comedies I've seen in a long while, so I expect nothing less than a smart flick from THE NOTEBOOK. The others... GARDEN STATE has Natalie Portman and she is my love, so I will see it. TREKKIES 2... Not so sure about this one, but I'll probably end up catching it at some point... Anyway, on with the reviews!

I saw Garden State a few days ago at the Seattle Film Festival. It was sorta good, but I suppose my high anticipation for the film these past few months probably played a role in my eventual disappointment of the film.

Ever since I watched the memorable Garden State teaser (the one with the Frou Frou song) in theaters this past late March and read the flattering Sundance reviews (one of which remarked that it was "Cameron Crowe meets Wes Anderson meets Hal Ashby"), I was hooked. Suffice to say, it did not live up to expectations.

Andrew Largeman (played by the film's writer/director Zach "Scrubs" Braff) is a successful movie/TV actor finally returning home to New Jersey for his mother's funeral. Back at home, Large (as he is affectionately called by loved ones) has to confront one of the main things he had so vehemently suppressed all these years: his dysfunctional family. With his mom dead, he and his father (played by the fine Ian Holm) are the only surviving members of their nuclear family, and hence, Large has to struggle and cope with his dad for the next few days until he departs for L.A. again.

The turning point of Garden State, however, is not the funeral of Large's mom. It is Large's random encounter, and eventual bond with a young woman, who just so happens to be an entertaining pathological liar. Her name is Sam, and she ultimately and unexpectedly, fufills Large's emotional needs, as she helps him confront his father and his depressive and numb state-of-mind. The actress who plays Large's love interest, Sam, is Natalie Portman. Between this film and Mike Nichols' upcoming Closer, I believe this is Portman's semi-comeback time; the best performance I've seen of her since, well, The Professional, her powerful screen debut a decade ago. (Now if I can only erase memories of her wooden turns in Anywhere But Here and the Star Wars prequels out of my mind...)

Unfortunately for me, I did not "buy" this relationship. It is eerily reminiscent of the lovers in Nichols' The Graduate, in which Dustin Hoffman's Benjamin, experiences self-actualization and successfully confronts the fears he had long harbored after finding parts of his own self in Katherine Ross' Elaine. However, in this case, Large and Sam just didn't click for me. (Note: I also suppose that The Graduate parallels are not a coincidence; in interviews that I've read, Braff has mentioned that one of his favorite movies is Nichols' 1967 landmark film.)

The film I saw this past March, by the way, was Eternal Sunshine, which I loved. Jim Carrey's Joel and Kate Winslet's Clementine are probably one of my favorite offbeat, quirky on-screen pairings, up there along with Ashby's epononymous Harold and Maude. I just don't think Braff's Large and Portman's Sam have that irresistibly non-formulaic chemistry.

Still, Braff shows promise as an emerging writer/director---one to watch for in the near future. There is some vision in Braff's directorial debut as evident in some remarkably beautiful scenes. Some of the dialogue in Garden State is honest as well as natural. Maybe his next film will do it for me. B-

-Just call me Clemato.

Now for a look at THE NOTEBOOK!!!


I got a chance to see the new Ryan Gosling film, “The Notebook” directed by Nick Cassavetes (John Q) Saturday night during its sneak preview this weekend. The theatre was sold out, which shocked me because I hadn’t really seen it being plugged too much but the trailer for the film was really good and had me wanting to see it so I can understand why. And I’m willing to bet it’s a big hit with the older crowd. They were in full-force.

Anyways, on to the film (spoilers ahead). It’s a simple movie based off the novel by Nicholas Sparks (I haven’t read it if it makes a difference). It begins with James Garner and Gena Rowlands and Garner reading to her from his notebook at a nursing home. He tells the story of Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) and how they fall in love one summer. This all begins at the carnival where Noah first meets Allie and how he MUST have her. Of course, they fall in love and they spend the entire summer together. But, this wouldn’t be a drama if there were not a few plot twits. Namely, its Allies mother played by Joan Allen. After she is late one night and the cops are called out to search for her, she arrives home and gets in to a nice argument with her parents about Noah. He’s trash…not for her…blah, blah, blah. Noah then decides that maybe it should be over since she is leaving for New York for school soon and that is it. But before she leaves, she gets a chance to tell Noah’s friend that she loves him. Noah then decides to write her everyday for a year and of course Allies mother keeps the letters from her. Three years go by, Noah’s been to the war and Allies now engaged to Lon (James Marsdan) and the drama continues. There’s another part of the story about Noah fulfilling his dream of rebuilding this home that takes place early in the film and after he actually does, he gets his picture in the paper. She see’s it and comes to visit him. Sparks fly once again and they fall in love once more. That’s the main part of the film and the “twist” is revealed fairly early on but if you can’t see it before then…or after watching the trailer…you need to get checked out. It’s fairly obvious. As for the good and bad…

First, the good. The cast is great, especially Sam Shepard. While he is only in the film like five or so minutes, he is one of the more memorable characters in the film. He had some funny dialogue and the crowd really enjoyed it when he was on camera. Ryan Gosling and Rachel Mcadams were also very good in their roles and Joan Allen did a good job as the "villain” and she has a great scene with McAdams late in the film dealing with her lost-love and her current husband. It gives her a little more depth. James Marsdan was good as her fiancé but of course, no one wanted to root for him because Gosling just came off as a better guy. As for the older Noah and Allie, James Garner does a good job, especially later in the film when he is able to show more emotion but I did have a problem with Gena Rowlands, but I’ll discuss that in the bad. Basically, the entire film fits into the good column. The script was enjoyable and strayed away from a typical “magical” ending and the dialogue was fine. But theres always some critique…

The bad mostly consists of two things. First off, some of the scenes were just too darn long and/or not needed. For instance, there is a scene where Allie and Noah dance in the street after they really hit it off and it drags for about two minutes too long. And after the story is told and completed, when we finish the film with Garner and Rowlands, some of it drags on a bit too long like Noah’s third heart attack. It probably could have been deleted. My other beef was some of the scenes of Garner reading the story ruined moments in the film. A scene would be moving along nicely then be ruined because we have to go back to Noah getting interrupted because Allie needs to take medicine or go take a nap. It happened a couple times that really took away from some scenes. As for ending itself, the last shot of the film of Noah and Allie in bed together is a great way to end it properly. Nothing magical or fake happens which I really enjoyed. Theres not much bad I can say about the film minus a couple small issues.

Overall, judging from the reaction from the crowd afterwards, this should be a semi-big hit. The audience was sniffling and sobbing so much at the very end of it all and it was weird because I had never seen a film where people cried this much. You would have thought we were watching “Schindlers List”. But I do recommend it. Aside from some minor problems with certain scenes and some parts of the ending, it was a solid film and I hope it does well.

My grade: 4 / 5

If you use this, my name is drudo.

TREKKIES 2 review comes next, as well as some info on a potential second sequel, not to mention a little look at the sequel to that popular STAR WARS fan film PINK 5. Enjoy!

Hi, Harry, I’m a nobody that doesn’t even post on your site who finally has a few bits of info that I get to use to go around and act like an important, posing insider big shot.

I went to Fanzillacon in Worcester Massachusetts this weekend, a fan film festival and workshop convention. There were a lot of great films(and some pretty awful ones). The jewel of the weekend was the Raiders Adaptation which brought down the house every showing. But there also two big events, one of which was a world premiere.

The world premier was a sequel to the popular SW fanfilm Pink 5, called Pink 5 Strikes Back. The new short is longer, funnier and bigger then the first, with actual sets and a larger cast(not hard since the first had NO set and a cast of ONE).

Director Trey Stokes and star Amy Earhart were there to present the old film and popped up the new one as a surprise. Trey said he cut it hours before flying to Mass and had the tape FedExed in so he could catch his flight. The cut was rough, but hardly, mostly just missing sounds.

The plot has Pink 5 accidently following Luke on the evacuation of Hoth and meeting Yoda before Luke does, leading so called “frog-guy” to think she is the Jedi sent to train. The first film relied purely on Amy’s valley girl style character, this time an actual plot of sorts and great jokes made the whole thing an excellent follow up. It was incredibly funny and Amy is great looking. I can’t wait for them to release it officially.

And the second big thing to happen was a screening of Trekkies 2 with director Roger Nygard in attendance. Trekkies 2 is pretty good, though I still like the first better. That’s not to say either is superior or inferior though. They’re documentaries; they are what they are.

It does actually use many of the keys to a good sequel: The film stands well without seeing the previous, though rewarding if you have, old elements are revisited without overshadowing new ones and everything is made bigger and bolder. Other reviews on AICN have mentioned that the movie itself is a sort of reply to the first and it is. It addresses the effect that Trekkies had on many of its interviewees and the fanbase as a whole. Nygard said they looked for a fair balance of 'normal' fans with the amusing 'over-the-top' fans, in response to the complaints they received on the first one. But he knows not everyone will understand they only did what they could do, and not everyone will be happy. I think this balance is achieved, although I didn’t think it was wrong in the first Trekkies.

The major difference between this movie and the first is this one is more concentrated solely on the lives and activities of the fans and does not include much discussion and history of the Star Trek phenomena on its own. Which makes prefect sense since that subject was covered well enough in the first, making this more what the first would have been if that background information hadn't been necessary.

But my real problem was no inclusion of major Star Trek cast members like the previous film had. Nygard explained that getting them was simple for the first film when the production had no limelight, they were just one of many interviews the actors did during conventions and didn't have to pay them for their interviews. Now all those cast members realized they didn’t get a dime from Trekkies and didn’t give support for the follow-up. Though there are interviews with some smaller players.

I also asked why the movie didn’t address what has been going in the Trek franchise lately, with the god-awful Nemesis and the contract problems for Enterprise. He said that those subjects were avoided to keep the film “evergreen.” That Enterprise’s problems might not mean as much three years from now and date the film.

I also asked Nygard if there were any people from the first he was unable to get for this one. He said he would have liked to have caught up with the Star Trek dentist and the man who wanted to surgically receive Vulcan ears. But he also mentioned that they have already pitched Trekkies 3 to Paramount and that they will most likely make it into that film, when and if it gets the green light.

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