"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.
Q. I walked out of "Dancer In The Dark" last night, not because it was awful (I found it compelling and difficult) but because my wife had fled the theater ten minutes before (during the scene in which Selma and Bill struggle over her money), unable to bear the suffering any more. My initial response was to stay and watch this troubling, fascinating film to the end, but I realized that I was more worried about my wife than I was about the characters. So I left, silently apologizing to Bjork and Lars Von Trier. 1. Did I do the right thing? 2. Does this mean she gets to pick the next movie, even if it's directed by Nora Ephron and features a talking cat? (Colin Meeder, Frankfurt, Germany)
A. 1. Yes; always stand by your wife. 2. No; she owes you one.
Q. Isn't the film "Requiem for a Dream" based on Hubert Selby Jr's novel of the same name, and not on his other novel "Last Exit to Brooklyn?" Your review and others cited "Last Exit," but I think that's wrong. (William Swenson, Minneapolis MN)
A. You are correct. Although "Last Exit" was inexplicably linked to the movie in some reference material, the director, Darren Aronofsky, tells the AM: "'Requiem for a Dream' is based on the 1978 novel of the same name by Hubert Selby Jr. Selby's first novel was 'Last Exit to Brooklyn' which was turned into a movie in 1989 by Uli Edel and has a knockout performance from Jennifer Jason Leigh. Thundermouth Press has just re-issued a paperback of 'Requiem for a Dream' that has a new intro by yours truly. It's a great book, a work of poetry and I recommend it."
Q. I'm using my soul-numbers formula on every movie ever done and so far "The Godfather" gets the highest cast ranking. Would you be interested in my opinion of movies using only the cast's birthdates, without even seeing the movie? Yes, this really works. Soul-numbers, remember that word, like "plastics" or "Rosebud." (Philip Hellsten, Danville, CA)
A. Excellent! I would like to order Soul Number reviews of the following December titles: "Traffic," "Finding Forrester," "Proof Of Life," "The Family Man" and "What Women Want." You can get cast names and birthdays at www.imdb.com. If you get the Numbers back within a week, that will be before anyone has seen the movies, and so we can put your method to a scientific test.
Q. I've noticed a increasing trend that the films you are most enthusiastic about ("You Can Count on Me," "A Time For Drunken Horses," "Billy Elliot") are only playing in big cities. The worst films are on 3000-plus screens ("Little Nicky," "Charlie's Angels," etc.). I realize theatrical exhibition is a commercial business, but with the multiplex owners filing bankruptcy you'd think they might try reserving one screen per multiplex for a film that's not targeted at the teenage demographic. "Billy Elliot" finally opened here this weekend and I was encouraged to see the theater was about 3/4 full. Since all the studios care about is the money, wouldn't it be in their best interest to force the theater chains to book some of their smaller boutique films in order to expand the theatrical marketplace? (Ed Slota, Providence, RI)
A. Who cares about the films one way or the other? The theater owners are preoccupied with the concession stand, which is where they make most of their money, since the studios keep up to 90 percent of the ticket price. If only fans of good films spent as much at the candy counter as fans of bad films do, there would be no problem. Here is my new review of "A Time For Drunken Horses"--"A great Iranian popcorn movie!"
Q. I read an ad for "Little Nicky" that said, "Don't miss the film Roger Ebert calls 'Adam Sandler's best movie so far!'" Huh? I thought you gave it 2.5 stars and a thumbs-down. (Susan Lake, Urbana, IL)
A. I did. But they quoted me accurately. Of course, it would have been even more accurate to say: "Thumbs down for Adam Sandler's best movie so far!"
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