Review Briefs

BY

Hey! Have you ever wanted to write for The Record? Ever wanted to let everybody know just how bad the latest Jennifer Lopez movie was? Or how many people Jack Bauer tortured on this week’s episode of “24”? Or how awesome the last movie you saw (for example, Serenity) was? I’ll bet you have. But you’re probably saying to yourself “But, Matt, I have Fried for Con. Law. There’s no way I have time to write an 800+ word review.” Well, fear not. Now you can just bang out your immediate thoughts, send them over to me at mjustus@law.harvard.edu, and have them printed for the entire school to see!*

*800+ word reviews also accepted gratefully.

OM

Review by Anna Brook

Not too long ago I passed by the large front windows of OM on JFK Street. The décor was fancy enough for me to do a double-take. Was there really a place in Harvard Square where you wouldn’t be overdressed if you wore anything but jeans? I made a mental note to come back. A bit of online research suggested creative food and a sophisticated atmosphere.

Last weekend a friend and I went to OM for dinner. We were both famished and truly appreciated being seated promptly in a rather cushy booth. We ordered our food. I got the salmon. My friend got the surf and turf. And then we waited. And waited some more. The wait was so long, the complimentary mini-appetizer we received was nice but forgotten by the time the food came. Unfortunately I can’t say it was worth the wait. As it often happens with fancy restaurants, the portions were too small for anyone with a non-stapled stomach. I enjoyed the salmon with a deliciously crispy coating, but there was not enough of it. The same goes for my friend’s dish. After dropping over $50 each on dinner and a drink, we crossed the street and finished up with some desserts from Uno. If you want to impress a date, OM is a good bet. But for food a little more fancy than Cambridge Common, I suggest West Side Lounge instead.

Rating: **

“Monk” – Season 2

Review by Matt Justus

It’s amazing what good writing and acting can do with a simple and fairly silly premise. Monk (Tony Shalhoub) is basically Sherlock Holmes, plus OCD and a dead wife, minus misogyny and a coke habit. The mysteries are always well crafted, as they were during the first season, but the characters are what make season two better overall. We get more background and depth to Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford), the two detectives constantly forced to call Monk in, this season, including Stottlemeyer’s really-bad-documentary-making wife and Disher’s crush on Sharona (Bitty Schram), Monk’s nurse/assistant. But the interplay between the characters is what really drives the show, even more so than just putting Monk in dirty or frightening situations and letting Shalhoub run with it, which makes me dread season three due to Sharona’s departure. John Turturro’s guest appearance as Ambrose, Monk’s brother with even bigger mental problems, is another season highlight. Definitely worth a rental if you’ve got the time.

Rating: ***1/2

Saw II

Review by Matt Justus

The original Saw, while not a good film by any means, was fairly influential within its genre – it was responsible for the recent spate of horror movies that go for scares through jump cuts and extreme brutality (the latter of which is sure to make the viewer uncomfortable, if not scared). The sequel, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, doesn’t add much to the genre, nor to the series. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), a deranged serial killer bent on testing his victims’ will to live, is finally captured by Detective Eric Mathews (Donnie Wahlberg, formerly of the New Kids on the Block). However, the tables turn when Jigsaw reveals that he has locked Mathews’ son, along with seven ex-convicts, in a house filled with lethal traps and equally lethal nerve gas. What follows is basically an episode of “Fear Factor,” except that instead of fifty grand, you win your life if you get through. The problem with the story (well, one of them) is that there’s no real suspense. Jigsaw is completely in control at all times, and the other characters act just as he expects them to act. He’s like Hannibal Lecter with half the wit and no Clarice Starling to offset him. At least in the original Danny Glover’s character made it interesting for him.

Another disturbing trend I’ve seen in films like this is where they stand with regard to the carnage. By making all of the characters unlikable and giving Jigsaw some kind of warped logic, and by making him the only articulate character in the film, the filmmakers are making him the hero. We’re supposed to enjoy watching these morally bankrupt people get what’s coming to them. This is an element that has been around at least since Halloween kicked off the slasher-movie craze in the 70’s, but these newer films change that formula in two ways. First, they don’t have a character to defeat the killer and make the point that what he’s doing is wrong, too. Second, they dial up the onscreen brutality and aren’t shy about showing the victims begging for their lives. I don’t think that these films are going to create copycat killers or anything so extreme, but they encourage a pretty depressing lack of sympathy in the audience.

Rating: *

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