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December 01, 2008


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I'd be interested to hear what you think of "Joe the Volcano" and "Moonstruck."

Glenn Kenny

I very much like "Moonstruck," not least because I live around where it was shot. It's nothing groundbreaking cinematically, but the Shanley factor and the acting are big pluses. As for "Joe," well, it's got all the right influences (the recurring Meg Ryan is a nod to Deborah Kerr in "The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp") and it's a lot ballsier than any other Hanks/Ryan vehicle...but it kind of overreaches, I think.


I'm pretty sure that I love "Joe vs. the Volcano", but I haven't seen it in forever. Still, I have very fond memories.

And I'm very excited about "Doubt". It sounds fascinating, and I can't wait to see Hoffman tackle this. Like everyone else, I think he's about as good as it gets, and while I've loved his showier performances in recent years, I still think one his best roles was Phil Parma in "Magnolia". Who else thinks he's one of the most memorable things about that movie?


This year has brought us so many disappointments -- Sex and the City, Burn After Reading, and, by some measures, Synecdoche, New York -- that I'm almost scared to see Doubt. But if the film is as good as you say, something in 2008 will finally live up to expectations. And it'll be kinda ironic that such a grim movie should be such a bright spot.


I loved, LOVED "Burn After Reading". I wasn't disappointed in that one at all.

Zack Handlen

Hoffman was sympathetic in "Charlie Wilson's War"--which I site not so much for pedantry's sake (as your basic point, that he nearly always plays, ahem, uncomfortable people, is dead on the money), but just to mention one of the few things about that movie I unreservedly admired.

Joe Vs. the Volcano is one of my favorites. I'm not even sure I could view it critically at this point; like, say, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, it just is what it is.


Doubt is going to have to be pretty damned great to top Michael Dinner's Heaven Help Us in the Catholic school film department.


I'll be curious to see this, but I'm not sure I'll be seeking it out. It just seems rather...dour, which I suppose is kind of the point since it's about faith and kid-touching and other stuff you can't really make light comedy about.


Maybe YOU couldn't...

Ed Gonzalez (Former Catholic School Boy)

"As the credits went up, I had (what I took for) an amusing thought—that the whole piece was actually a parable on the War in Iraq."

I joked after the screening that the war depicted in the film was between Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Like you, I don't want to pursue that idea. Stupid movie: Spent the whole time dodging its metaphors (ballpoint pens, wind, lightbulbs, etc.) and tilting my head at the inexplicably canted camera angles.

Manuel F.

Joe the Volcano is interesting for about twenty minutes and then it turns into a Garry Marshall movie. I don't understand its appeal and I don't understand why people keep singing it's praises 18 years later. It's a mediocre movie. I don't get it.


The title of the original play was "Doubt: A Parable." As I understood it, the play is very specifically meant to be a parallel to the war in Iraq. You can most definitely pursue that line of thought.

Terrific review!


Manuel, I think a lot of the appeal of Joe/Volcano has to do with its floptastic reputation upon its release in 1990. It was a financial and critical disaster so for years, like Elaine May's Ishtar, it was underrated and unfairly dismissed. Now, 18 years later, the film is overrated. Things happen that way, in cycles, and people overcorrect for previous appraisals. I do think it's a pretty good movie though. Any film that makes Meg Ryan seem charming instead of annoying is a winner in my book.


I thought Matt Cale (RR) had some interesting words on the film:

"As an allegory, it is a necessary antidote to our own cocksure era, but just as suitable for any civilization across time. Despite its trappings, such themes will never suffer the spoilage of a dated curiosity. The movie, however, is an abomination; a knife to the back of everything the play spoke for and alluded to. In order to conform to the demands of cinema and admittedly mainstream tastes, a wrongheaded “fleshing out” occurred that stripped away mystery, discussion, and yes, doubt itself. The play, wisely, never showed any of the school children. What’s more, we never saw so much as an eyelid of young Donald Muller, the “victim” in question. The play understood that the moment we see the faces of youth, our emotions take over and we side with their cause."

Glenn Kenny

Yeah, that's "interesting," all right.


Hoffman was also sympathetic in THE SAVAGES. Has history already forgotten that film? I really liked it.

Glenn Kenny

I liked "The Savages" too, B.W. And I think that Hoffman's character in it is sympathetic in various degrees. When I describe his character in "Doubt" as "conventionally sympathetic," I mean as in pretty consistently likeable, which his "Savages" character certainly wasn't.

Erin Donovan

Oh man, the trailer for this film looks so bad I wrote it off. Now I feel myself getting reeled in.

Damn you, Kenny!

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