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About Schmidt
starring: Jack Nicholson, Dermot Mulroney, Kathy Bates

by david    February 3, 2003

Dear Ngdugu:

I saw About Schmidt in a SAG screening about two months ago. I would describe it as a mean-spirited comedy about the end-of-life journey of a sad, lonely old man. I found the movie to be extremely funny, in its mean-spirited way. The writing and direction were plain, patient and unflinching in the face of humorous, angry and painful moments.

Particularly engaging is Jack Nicholson as Warren Schmidt. His acting is riveting in its simplicity and honesty. His funny moments are brilliantly timed, but even more well-played are the often long, painful moments without dialogue -- sitting in front of a mirror, applying his wife's cold cream, or standing at a dumpster, beside which sits the discarded accumulation of his life's work. For my money, this, not As Good as it Gets, is the best work of the second-half of his career (the best of his first-half being Cuckoo's Nest). Nearly as good are Dermot Mulroney as his be-mulleted future son-in-law, and Kathy Bates, and Mulroney's amorous mother. The rest of the small cast is solid as well, but none can hold a candle to Jack.

I really enjoyed About Schmidt, Ndugu. I'm sure Jack will win the Best Actor SAG Award and Oscar for it (though, good as Jack is, Adrien Brody deserves it more for the Pianist). I'm not certain if About Schmidt has opened in Africa yet, or when it will be playing at your village, but, when it comes, you should ask your mother to take you to see it. I think you will enjoy it. Be sure to tell her, however, to cover your eyes during the hot tub scene.

Your friend,


Two Weeks Notice
starring: Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant, Dana Ivey, Robert Klein

by david    February 3, 2003

I intended not to like Two Weeks Notice. There's lots not to like about it: the story is tired and derivative, the gags are old and overused, and the characters are, for the most part, broadly painted stereotypes. There's really not much to tell about the story that you can't get from the trailers.

Still, the movie put a smile on my face for two big reasons, and two small ones. The big reasons are Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. Both actors are so fucking charming in their blase, underwritten roles, that you can't help but enjoy the movie, despite its obvious shortcomings. They are both masters of their types, and are often unfairly overlooked, but their individual presence has saved more than one bad film -- combined, they even manage to save this one. Add to that really nice performances from Klein and Ivey, as Bullock's parents, and you've got yourself a really pleasant, if plainly stupid, movie.

There's not much more to say about Two Weeks Notice. Bullock and Grant deserve a lot of money for saving this one -- hopefully they got it. I'd love to see them act together again in a good movie. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

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