Ho-hum. It's mid-July, but it feels like mid-November. In Florida, that is: all humid, rainy, dreary, ick.

I saw SPIDER-MAN 2 on Saturday night at the multiplex; it was my first trip there since COLD MOUNTAIN over six months ago. I don't want to be an art-house snob (though it's unavoidable since I now work at one), but I try to avoid goin' to a Loews as often as possible.

Of course, SPIDER-MAN 2 will never play at my theatre, so to Loews I go'ed with my roommate, Frank, and a friend of his who wanted to see WHITE GIRLS. That was quickly vetoed 2-1. I mean, seriously, $10.25 on WHITE GIRLS? I'd rather pay my roommate the $$$ to tell his story about him looking at an apartment in Quincy a few years ago. When he met the landlord, an elderly Chinese woman, she asked him in a heavy accent:

"So, you like white girl?"

She was referring to two unseen Caucasian females he'd be sharing the apartment with. She also told him there was a Chinese man living next door, but "He's OK, he married to white girl."

Frank didn't move to Quincy.


So, despite its direct but unimaginative title, SPIDER-MAN 2 was worth the $10.25. An improvement over the first film because unlike that blockbuster, this one didn't lose momentum halfway through, and it didn't feature the ridiculously costumed Green Goblin (like a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger!) either, although his presence is sensed and briefly shown (and it does not bode well for the next installment).

This is one of the few superhero movies to focus heavily on the hero's everyday personal problems and omnipresent mortality. It only feels like a comic book during the CGI-assisted scenes. Tobey Maguire is so perfectly cast you can't imagine an installment without him. Kirsten Dunst makes for a real, approachable love interest (she's still the anti-Brittany Murphy). Director Sam Raimi sneaks in a nice cameo from Bruce Campbell and an even sweeter EVIL DEAD homage. And although he looked a little silly in the previews, Alfred Molina makes for a juicy, clever and humane villain.

ONE COMPLAINT ABOUT THE LOEWS. We went to a 10:10 PM show, and yet there was someone with a talking, yapping, crying two-year-old sitting in the back row! I guess this makes it OK for parents everywhere to stop worrying about employing a babysitter when they want a night at the movies. My theater's Box Office Babies series may as well become extinct. Get out the nerf bats...


Also saw Alexander Sokurov's FATHER AND SON. Dreamlike? Undoubtedly. Homoerotic? Unavoidably. Homosexual? No, although as the two men gaze closely into each other's eyes, you can't help but sit in wrenching anticipation, waiting for something sexual to transpire. It never does, and it's not a disappointment. Slow but not boring, obtuse but not pretentious, it's a puzzle, a tone poem, a gauzy living portrait of camaraderie and deepest emotions always surfacing, always apparent even when their meaning seems a little fuzzy.