March 20th, 2006



V For Vendetta is a film so deliciously good that I can almost forgive the Wachowskis for the last two Matrix films. It pretty much has everything: fighting, blood, Big Ben exploding, Shakespeare, and conceptual integrity. The last, of course, being the most important and what the last two Matrix movies had none of.

They had the balls to make a terrorist the hero. This is something I wouldn't advocate in real life, but anyone who is upset by that is missing the simple fact that it's a movie: It's a lurid, exaggerated, dramatic piece of fiction.

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Movies: The Baxter

The Baxter is a film by Michael Showalter, one of the guys from Stella, who also co-wrote Wet Hot American Summer. This was a $5 purchase at video store, though it was apparently only released last year.

"The Baxter" isn't a great film, but it is quite engaging, and for some reason, it harnesses the in-joke deadpan that is behind the work mentioned above to much greater effect. Michael Showalter is repellently endearing as the title character (A "baxter" is a guy women settle for when they're afraid they can't do any better), who reminds me a bit of Rick Moranis' character in "Ghostbusters" -- a nerdy accountant. But Showalter makes the role more than a one-note joke; he gives "The Baxter" a loony sort of wounded pride and put-upon dignity.

It was apparently shot a couple of years ago, since it features some actors they'd never be able to afford now: Michelle Williams who is irresistable in "The Baxter," and Peter Dinklage, who is apparently the "it" dwarf for the new milleneum. Paul Rudd is also in it, and he's definitely got a career bounce from "The 40 Year Old Virgin."

Michelle Williams is by far the best actor involved here. Not only is she adorable, but completely convincing, and really funny without ever going over the top. She is in her 'nerdy but stealth hot' mode here, which is awesome. The wardrobe choices for her are amazing -- she wears perfectly respectable, yet ghastly dresses, like what a 40 year old mom would wear to church. She was OK in "Brokeback Mountain" but they didn't give her that much to do beyond being wounded; here she steals the show.

I love the character names. Willams' character is "Cecil Mills", Dinklage is "Benson Hedges." And a lot of really funny stuff is underplayed, including also-in-the-frame weirdness from Michael Ian Black, who is The Baxter's best friend.

So while this isn't monumental cinema, it's definitely worth watching.