FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| David Lean |||
David Lean

Honored with the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1990, Lean’s body of work (ranging from the intimate film to the grandiose epic) demonstrates an obsessive cultivation of craft and a fastidious concern with detail that has become the very definition of quality British cinema.

Adapted from Noel Coward’s one-act play, Lean takes a potentially boring story of middle-age flirtation and tenderly creates one of the most enduring and poignant romance films ever made. Brilliantly underplayed, two happily married strangers meet by chance in a railway station and fall desperately in love, but never physically express the undercurrent of passion that exists between them, even during their final gut wrenching separation – if your heart doesn’t ache, you’re just not human!

Demonstrating moments of intimacy through gigantic display, Lean sets up the greatness of Pip’s expectations with the magnitude of his frightful encounters; one with an escaped convict, whose emerge into the frame reminds us what it’s like to be a child in a world of oversized, menacing adults, and another with the meeting of mad Miss Havisham, in all her gothic splendor.

Peter O'Toole made an enigmatic and lasting impression in his debut role as British officer T.E. Lawrence, who helped Arab rebels fight the Turks in WWI, and Omar Sharif has perhaps the greatest cinematic intro of all time as he magically appears through the ghostly waves of the desert heat, achieving Lean’s compulsive drive to create the perfectly composed shot. Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jose Ferrer, and Claude Rains round out this incredibly talented and magnetically charged cast.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties

By BrianOrndorf

June 15th, 2006

Garfield returns to the big screen in “Tail of Two Kitties,” and potential audiences wince nationwide. Marginally better than the 2004 original, the new Garfield still manages to waltz into tedium through unimaginative screenwriting and a bizarre sustained belief that a CG cat in a practical world is comedy gold.

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties

As Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer) prepares to propose to his girlfriend Liz (an unexpectedly perky Jennifer Love Hewitt), he learns that she’s being quickly sent off to the U.K. for a last minute conference. Hoping to surprise her, Jon heads to London, unintentionally bringing along his cat Garfield (voiced by Bill Murray) and dog Odie for the ride. Set loose in the city, Garfield is promptly mistaken for a royal cat named Prince (Tim Curry), who has been named heir to a fortune. Enjoying the pampered life, Garfield soon becomes a target for a jealous servant (Billy Connolly) who is next in line for the inheritance.

It comes as some relief that this sequel to the 2004 abomination “Garfield” is a faintly more assured production. I’m wouldn’t go so far as to say this film is worthwhile, but instead of eliciting anger like the last film did, this installment merely bores. That’s progress to me.

At this point the strange approach to a Garfield feature film has been solidified – he’s still a CG creation in a practical world. For the follow-up, “Two Kitties” steals copiously from the sweet little pig flick “Babe,” the 1995 family film masterpiece, to widen the limited scope behind the technology. Opening with narration from Roscoe Lee Brown, the film even focuses on a group of Prince’s talking barnyard animal subjects, worried about their place in the world.

Hey, if you must shamelessly pinch, “Babe” is a great film to take from.

The rest of this mild adventure (barely 70 minutes long) rolls along on known quantities, again playing up the feline’s love for lasagna, his hatred of Mondays, and ambivalence towards pal Odie. Once again the energetic voicework from Bill Murray certainly saves the picture, even though none of his comic riffing manages to strike gold. He’s working up a sweat with tepid material and he’s knows it.

However, one has to feel awful for Brecken Meyer. I can’t imagine the actor pictured his career would eventually involve a franchise of movies playing second banana to an imaginary obese cat that eats too much lasagna. Poor guy.

Moving the action to “London” lightens up the film some with a fresh location (it still looks like L.A. to me). Having a fun bunch of English talent providing voices to Garfield’s new barnyard friends helps (including Bob Hoskins, Rhys Ifans, Vinnie Jones, and Richard E. Grant), and Billy Connolly is correctly bombastic as he tries to kill Garfield with increasingly tired “Home Alone” results. There’s a little more air to breathe in this sequel, but that’s quickly stifled when the obligatory use of belching, farting, and animal urine jokes come calling.

One creative decision that continues to drive me crazy is Odie. Again played by a real dog, Odie still isn’t allowed any of the cartoonish attributes that made him a fan favorite in Jim Davis’s original comic strip. “Two Kitties” allows every other animal in the frame a chance to speak, or in Garfield’s case, to dance and sing as well, but not dear Odie. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. By muting his voice and robbing him of his sweet, oblivious nature, Odie remains the only agreeable character in the franchise.

My rating: D+