Dancing Potato's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Around the World in 80 Days

(For some stupid reason this won't let me rate anything, so I'll do it some other time.)

Around the World in 80 Days (1956) **
Laborious, leaden travelogue based on the famous Jules Verne story is notable only for its gargantuan array of cameos and dubious reputation as one of the worst Best Picture winners of all time. David Niven steps into the role of Phileas Fogg, a wealthy aristocrat who bets his fellow Reform Club members that he will go around the world in 80 days or less. He recruits the help of annoying bullfighting pervert Passepartout (Cantinflas) as his butler and whisks off to encounter a lot of "kooky" one-line characters and use every concievable transportation device known to man. The film serves mostly as a stereotyped travel brochure, showcasing beautiful locations and the stereotypes who live in them. The film's got some truly breathtaking locations and photography, but none of this can change the fact that the film is as dull as dishwater. Niven is a blank slate, completely free of charisma; Niven is usually a great actor, but here he brings an already dull character down. Nothing much happens in the movie; the characters simply go from point A to point B to point C and so on and such forth. The 40 or so cameos here are mostly expendable, although some (John Carradine, John Gielgud) provide some much needed laughs. It's an old Hollywood joke that this movie won only because everyone who was in it voted for it at the Oscars; I can't exactly think of a better reason. I haven't seen the remake, but I can bet that it's probably better than this... and when you can say that about a movie that stars Jackie Chan, Rob Schneider and Arnold...

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) ****1/2

The Coens are at it again, unsurprisingly. Never the kind to take the easy way out, America's (arguably) most reliable filmmakers tackle Homer's Odyssey, bluegrass style. Everett (George Clooney), Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) are three convicts who escape from jail to recover a huge amount of money that Everett claims he has buried. On the road to said loot, the three escapees come across sirens, a fast-talking, one-eyed travelling salesman (John Goodman), Babyface Nelson, the KKK and legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson... amongst others. As always, the Coens manage to make a film that bears their stamp yet resembles in no way their previous efforts. If Hudsucker Proxy was Capra, then O Brother is Sturges (it's no coincidence that the title is in fact taken from Sturges' Sullivan's Travels). The dialogue here flows off the screen; its drawls, inflections and non-words form a kind of backwoods poetry. Practically every single line here is quotable. Of course the cast here is on fire, for lack of a better term. Clooney is a hugely undervalued comedic talent, and he delivers what is probably his best performance ever here. Clooney's not much of a chameleon; he pretty much always looks and talks like George Clooney. Yet he has the kind of charm to pull it off, and this is no exception. Coen regular John Turturro and professional supporting hillbilly Tim Blake Nelson have less clearly defined roles but they hold their own against Clooney. The film's sepia-tinted photography (shot, of course, by the incredible Roger Deakins) and improbably best-selling soundtrack give the screenplay ample texture.

Farenheit 9/11 (2004) ****

With Bowling For Columbine and now this, Michael Moore has perfected the art of the filmed essay. It's become useless to call this a documentary; documentaries carry the improbable responsibility to present facts objectively. But then again, objectivity in politics is an oxymoron, and it's politics Moore tackles here... more specifically, his thoughts regarding the Bush administration. Through effective collage (there's less footage shot by Moore this time around and more piecing-together of stock footage, news shows and the like) Moore pieces together his controversial views on the most powerful man in the world. It's true that the film is one-sided and it's true that unless you agree with what Moore thinks, you won't be able to stand this movie. I'm not sure if I believe the claims that Moore made up a lot of this stuff... but it doesn't really matter. The finished product here is a convincing essay by one of America's boldest filmmakers/journalists/rabble-rousers. The only technical flaw is the way in which Moore develops his point; the film doesn't always proceed obviously and sometimes takes turns that don't seem too relevant. Of course it all ties together at the end. In the end, however, even if you hated the movie, you must admit that Moore did what he wanted to do: he got people to talk about it.

Reality Bites (1994) ***

This TV-ish comedy/drama about Generation X benefits from top-flight cast but ultimately falls short due to the script. Lelaina (Winona Ryder) is a young filmmaker just out of college who works for an idiotic talk-show host (John Mahoney) while living in an apartment with Troy (Ethan Hawke), a long-haired slacker musician; Vickie (Janeane Garofalo), a promiscuous free spirit and Sammy (Steve Zahn), who doesn't do much aside from being gay and stand in the background. When she's not working, Lelaina films her friends and compiles a documentary about them; she's not having much luck getting anyone to see it, however... that is, until she meets Michael (Ben Stiller, who also directed), an executive for an MTV-type station who really wants to get her stuff on the air. Of course, Lelaina falls in love with Michael but also with Troy, despite the fact that he's a slacker asshole. So, here's a quick rundown of the themes and plot elements of this film: confusion about the future, MTV, aids, homosexuality, grunge, coffee... yep, this movie IS 1994. The thing is, it's not very subtle at being 1994. It wants to be a portrait of a generation, and to a certain extent it is, but it's clumsily plotted. Case in point: Zahn's character has about ten lines in the first half of the movie. We're not really properly introduced to this guy; hell, it doesn't even look like he lives there. Then, in the second half of the film, we get this long cheesy sequence in which he reveals his homosexuality to his parents. And then nothing else after that. It seems to me like the writer was more concerned in adressing as many freakin' issues as possible as opposed to crafting fully rounded characters. The dialogue and performers here are funny; it's just a damn shame that it had to be a comedy/drama. I would've gotten rid of that slash.

Human Nature (2001) **1/2

Before there was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, there was this other Gondry/Kaufman pairing, a little-seen comedy about sex, apes and table manners. Patricia Arquette is Lila Jute, a nature writer who secludes herself in the woods due to her obscenely hairy body. She begins to feel the need for affection, however, and comes back to the city where she meets Nathan Bronfman (Tim Robbins), a scientist who devotes his entire life to teaching table manners to white mice. They fall in love and lead a comfortable existance until they find an ape-man (Rhys Ifans) while hiking. Naming him Puff (after Bronfman's assistant's dog... the assistant is played by LOTR's Miranda Otto), Bronfman takes it upon himself to take the ape-man and turn him into a gentleman. He proves to be successful... maybe too much so. The major resemblance in all of Kaufman's work is that all the stories feature real, believeable characters in surreal, ridiculous situations; Human Nature, however, features surreal, ridiculous characters in surreal, ridiculous situations. This doesn't gel too well with Kaufman's brand of humor; the characters become crude sketch-comedy denizens who serve only to further a plot that's flimsy enough as it is. The film gets its point across in broad strokes and then destroys it with an anticlimatic ending that might have been clever had the film not been so obvious. Granted, nothing Kaufman will ever do can be worthless. The dialogue is sharp and there ARE laughs; the actors do fairly well considering the state of the characters. But Human Nature too often feels like it's building up to something it never reaches; both Gondry and Kaufman are brilliant, but they're not making the same film here. Call it a conflict of talents.

Dude, Where's My Car?
½

I'm getting mighty lazy with these. I've got sixteen to write before I get caught up.

Paycheck (2003) **

John Woo continues his perpetual descent from the pedestal of 'Best Action Director in the World' to the depths of second-tier sci-fi thrillers. Everything about this movie feels so familiar that it almost becomes self-effacing; you begin to forget what the movie is about while you're still watching it. Woo rapes potentially interesting material from Phillip K. Dick with the story of a programmer (Ben Affleck) who is hired to complete a project if he agrees to have his memory erased soon thereafter. When he goes to collect his paycheck, he finds out that he has forfeited the obscene sum of money for an envelope full of junk... which of course will prove useful in the long run. It plays more or less like Affleck's attempt at equalling his buddy Matt Damon's much, much better The Bourne Identity. But everything here seems low-rent; even with its prominent cast and director, the film can't avoid looking like a really good 1993 made for cable movie. The action scenes are nowhere near exciting and the lead performances are sleepy; even the explosions look like tidy, Universal-Studios-ride stuff. The only lively spots come from a lively supporting cast (including Paul Giamatti, Aaron Eckhart, Colm Feore and Joe Morton) and some unintentional laughs scattered here and there. For all of its flaws, Paycheck is not unwatchable; it's just limp, sluggish and uninvolving. It's the kind of movie you watch without paying much attention to and that, by the end, you realize that it didn't really matter wether you did or not.

Scary Movie 3 (2003) ***

The first one was mildly funny; the second one was the comedic nadir of the 21st century and this one is... surprisingly funny. If it's even concievable, Scary Movie 3 is even more sloppy and disorganized than its predecessors: its satire is all over the place, its cultural references follow each other with little rhyme or reason... but why is it so funny? It was a wise choice to resort to the PG-13 rating; this cuts out a great deal of penis jokes (not to mention cameos by man's best friend), semen jokes and other elaborate bodily functions that sank the second film. It was also wise to bring in people who, unlike the Wayans brothers, were once capable of decent spoofing (Keenan Ivory Wayans, having directed I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, is sorta forgiven... but not really). People like director David Zucker and actors like Leslie Nielsen and Charlie Sheen bring a certain aura of experience to a series usually populated with comedic 'talents' like Shannon Elizabeth, Tori Spelling and Squiggy. Not that there aren't any of those here; the film, in fact, seems hell-bent on reaching the young, urban black male population with ridiculous cameos by Ja Rule, Master P, Method Man, Redman or Fat Joe. But, I will admit it: I laughed. I laughed long and hard. Like all stupid comedies, it misses as much as it hits and its excuse for a plot is pathetic beyond all reasons. We all have one of these that makes us laugh despite the fact that it is, in all respects, a piece of shit. Mine, to my own amazement, is Scary Movie 3.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) ***1/2

The series has found its man: Alfonso Cuaron's treatment of the third novel in the series reaches heights the Colombus-helmed films never could (of course, Cuaron's not on board for the fourth chapter... wouldn't want too much of a good thing, I suppose). Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, still the epitome of blandness) begins his third year at Hogwarts in a aura of fear; dangerous criminal Sirious Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped and ominous creatures called Dementors are found patroling outside Hogwarts. Rupert Grint still sucks as Ron; Emma Watson still continues to act circles around her male counterparts. The film is a darker, leaner film than the previous installments; the film wisely lets the high-profile supporting cast fall into the background and focuses mostly on the primary storyline. This may be frustrating for Harry Potter fans who bitch and moan at every little change from the novel, but it makes for a tighter film. Cuaron's treatment of the material is darker and more violent (in a sense; there's no gore and exploding heads) than its predecessors. The additions to the cast this time around (David Thewlis, perfectly cast as Professor Lupin; Oldman, always welcome; Emma Thompson, as a kooky, tea-reading professor; and Timothy Spall, in a small role) cement the film; the film's best scene is a very simple one featuring Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Thewlis and Spall in a haunted house. It's still not a flawless adaptation (such a thing is probably impossible when you're talking about Harry Potter, unfortunately) but it's a step in the right direction.

Dude, Where's My Car? (2000) *1/2

With this movie's mild cult following, I was lead to believe that maybe there was something to this movie other than the oft-ridiculed title and its most famous scene, in which the protagonists get tattoos that say "dude" and "sweet"; hilarity supposedly ensues. But, no... the title is pretty much the funniest thing about this poorly-made, paceless "stoner" comedy. Jesse and Chester (Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott) wake up after a night of hard partying not remembering what they did the night before... and not knowing where they left the car. They head out to find it in much the same way Beavis and Butthead set out to find their TV, except these guys aren't nearly as entertaining. Although the film's beginning sets the course for a mildly diverting stoner flick (this is called a stoner flick despite the fact that there's very little stoning going on; then again, with Kutcher and Scott headlining your picture, you'd want the PG-13 too), it devolves into a far-fetched and unfunny caper involving aliens, strippers, transvestites and very, very little laughs. The leads are limited enough as it is, but the film's complete lack of pace and timing pretty much gives them no chance at all. Cameos by Andy Dick and Brent Spiner do little to save a film (although their ad-libbed scene is by far the funniest) that never had much of a chance in the first place.

Air Bud Spikes Back (2003) *

Don't want to waste too many lines on this piece of crap. I won't try to justify the fact that I watched it, but in any case: Air Bud is back and this time he plays beach volleyball. He has less to do in the volleyball team than he ever did in his previous movies (I've actually only seen the first two, but eh) so two nitwit criminals kidnap him to go get a big diamond behind a bunch of red lasers. Cheaply made, poorly acted (makes me wonder what veteran character actors like Edie McClurg and Patrick Cranshaw are doing in this mess) and moronic even for small children. Don't try using the 'it's for kids' offensive; there's nothing good about this one.

Scary Movie 3

I'm getting mighty lazy with these. I've got sixteen to write before I get caught up.

Paycheck (2003) **

John Woo continues his perpetual descent from the pedestal of 'Best Action Director in the World' to the depths of second-tier sci-fi thrillers. Everything about this movie feels so familiar that it almost becomes self-effacing; you begin to forget what the movie is about while you're still watching it. Woo rapes potentially interesting material from Phillip K. Dick with the story of a programmer (Ben Affleck) who is hired to complete a project if he agrees to have his memory erased soon thereafter. When he goes to collect his paycheck, he finds out that he has forfeited the obscene sum of money for an envelope full of junk... which of course will prove useful in the long run. It plays more or less like Affleck's attempt at equalling his buddy Matt Damon's much, much better The Bourne Identity. But everything here seems low-rent; even with its prominent cast and director, the film can't avoid looking like a really good 1993 made for cable movie. The action scenes are nowhere near exciting and the lead performances are sleepy; even the explosions look like tidy, Universal-Studios-ride stuff. The only lively spots come from a lively supporting cast (including Paul Giamatti, Aaron Eckhart, Colm Feore and Joe Morton) and some unintentional laughs scattered here and there. For all of its flaws, Paycheck is not unwatchable; it's just limp, sluggish and uninvolving. It's the kind of movie you watch without paying much attention to and that, by the end, you realize that it didn't really matter wether you did or not.

Scary Movie 3 (2003) ***

The first one was mildly funny; the second one was the comedic nadir of the 21st century and this one is... surprisingly funny. If it's even concievable, Scary Movie 3 is even more sloppy and disorganized than its predecessors: its satire is all over the place, its cultural references follow each other with little rhyme or reason... but why is it so funny? It was a wise choice to resort to the PG-13 rating; this cuts out a great deal of penis jokes (not to mention cameos by man's best friend), semen jokes and other elaborate bodily functions that sank the second film. It was also wise to bring in people who, unlike the Wayans brothers, were once capable of decent spoofing (Keenan Ivory Wayans, having directed I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, is sorta forgiven... but not really). People like director David Zucker and actors like Leslie Nielsen and Charlie Sheen bring a certain aura of experience to a series usually populated with comedic 'talents' like Shannon Elizabeth, Tori Spelling and Squiggy. Not that there aren't any of those here; the film, in fact, seems hell-bent on reaching the young, urban black male population with ridiculous cameos by Ja Rule, Master P, Method Man, Redman or Fat Joe. But, I will admit it: I laughed. I laughed long and hard. Like all stupid comedies, it misses as much as it hits and its excuse for a plot is pathetic beyond all reasons. We all have one of these that makes us laugh despite the fact that it is, in all respects, a piece of shit. Mine, to my own amazement, is Scary Movie 3.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) ***1/2

The series has found its man: Alfonso Cuaron's treatment of the third novel in the series reaches heights the Colombus-helmed films never could (of course, Cuaron's not on board for the fourth chapter... wouldn't want too much of a good thing, I suppose). Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, still the epitome of blandness) begins his third year at Hogwarts in a aura of fear; dangerous criminal Sirious Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped and ominous creatures called Dementors are found patroling outside Hogwarts. Rupert Grint still sucks as Ron; Emma Watson still continues to act circles around her male counterparts. The film is a darker, leaner film than the previous installments; the film wisely lets the high-profile supporting cast fall into the background and focuses mostly on the primary storyline. This may be frustrating for Harry Potter fans who bitch and moan at every little change from the novel, but it makes for a tighter film. Cuaron's treatment of the material is darker and more violent (in a sense; there's no gore and exploding heads) than its predecessors. The additions to the cast this time around (David Thewlis, perfectly cast as Professor Lupin; Oldman, always welcome; Emma Thompson, as a kooky, tea-reading professor; and Timothy Spall, in a small role) cement the film; the film's best scene is a very simple one featuring Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Thewlis and Spall in a haunted house. It's still not a flawless adaptation (such a thing is probably impossible when you're talking about Harry Potter, unfortunately) but it's a step in the right direction.

Dude, Where's My Car? (2000) *1/2

With this movie's mild cult following, I was lead to believe that maybe there was something to this movie other than the oft-ridiculed title and its most famous scene, in which the protagonists get tattoos that say "dude" and "sweet"; hilarity supposedly ensues. But, no... the title is pretty much the funniest thing about this poorly-made, paceless "stoner" comedy. Jesse and Chester (Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott) wake up after a night of hard partying not remembering what they did the night before... and not knowing where they left the car. They head out to find it in much the same way Beavis and Butthead set out to find their TV, except these guys aren't nearly as entertaining. Although the film's beginning sets the course for a mildly diverting stoner flick (this is called a stoner flick despite the fact that there's very little stoning going on; then again, with Kutcher and Scott headlining your picture, you'd want the PG-13 too), it devolves into a far-fetched and unfunny caper involving aliens, strippers, transvestites and very, very little laughs. The leads are limited enough as it is, but the film's complete lack of pace and timing pretty much gives them no chance at all. Cameos by Andy Dick and Brent Spiner do little to save a film (although their ad-libbed scene is by far the funniest) that never had much of a chance in the first place.

Air Bud Spikes Back (2003) *

Don't want to waste too many lines on this piece of crap. I won't try to justify the fact that I watched it, but in any case: Air Bud is back and this time he plays beach volleyball. He has less to do in the volleyball team than he ever did in his previous movies (I've actually only seen the first two, but eh) so two nitwit criminals kidnap him to go get a big diamond behind a bunch of red lasers. Cheaply made, poorly acted (makes me wonder what veteran character actors like Edie McClurg and Patrick Cranshaw are doing in this mess) and moronic even for small children. Don't try using the 'it's for kids' offensive; there's nothing good about this one.

Paycheck
Paycheck(2003)

I'm getting mighty lazy with these. I've got sixteen to write before I get caught up.

Paycheck (2003) **

John Woo continues his perpetual descent from the pedestal of 'Best Action Director in the World' to the depths of second-tier sci-fi thrillers. Everything about this movie feels so familiar that it almost becomes self-effacing; you begin to forget what the movie is about while you're still watching it. Woo rapes potentially interesting material from Phillip K. Dick with the story of a programmer (Ben Affleck) who is hired to complete a project if he agrees to have his memory erased soon thereafter. When he goes to collect his paycheck, he finds out that he has forfeited the obscene sum of money for an envelope full of junk... which of course will prove useful in the long run. It plays more or less like Affleck's attempt at equalling his buddy Matt Damon's much, much better The Bourne Identity. But everything here seems low-rent; even with its prominent cast and director, the film can't avoid looking like a really good 1993 made for cable movie. The action scenes are nowhere near exciting and the lead performances are sleepy; even the explosions look like tidy, Universal-Studios-ride stuff. The only lively spots come from a lively supporting cast (including Paul Giamatti, Aaron Eckhart, Colm Feore and Joe Morton) and some unintentional laughs scattered here and there. For all of its flaws, Paycheck is not unwatchable; it's just limp, sluggish and uninvolving. It's the kind of movie you watch without paying much attention to and that, by the end, you realize that it didn't really matter wether you did or not.

Scary Movie 3 (2003) ***

The first one was mildly funny; the second one was the comedic nadir of the 21st century and this one is... surprisingly funny. If it's even concievable, Scary Movie 3 is even more sloppy and disorganized than its predecessors: its satire is all over the place, its cultural references follow each other with little rhyme or reason... but why is it so funny? It was a wise choice to resort to the PG-13 rating; this cuts out a great deal of penis jokes (not to mention cameos by man's best friend), semen jokes and other elaborate bodily functions that sank the second film. It was also wise to bring in people who, unlike the Wayans brothers, were once capable of decent spoofing (Keenan Ivory Wayans, having directed I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, is sorta forgiven... but not really). People like director David Zucker and actors like Leslie Nielsen and Charlie Sheen bring a certain aura of experience to a series usually populated with comedic 'talents' like Shannon Elizabeth, Tori Spelling and Squiggy. Not that there aren't any of those here; the film, in fact, seems hell-bent on reaching the young, urban black male population with ridiculous cameos by Ja Rule, Master P, Method Man, Redman or Fat Joe. But, I will admit it: I laughed. I laughed long and hard. Like all stupid comedies, it misses as much as it hits and its excuse for a plot is pathetic beyond all reasons. We all have one of these that makes us laugh despite the fact that it is, in all respects, a piece of shit. Mine, to my own amazement, is Scary Movie 3.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) ***1/2

The series has found its man: Alfonso Cuaron's treatment of the third novel in the series reaches heights the Colombus-helmed films never could (of course, Cuaron's not on board for the fourth chapter... wouldn't want too much of a good thing, I suppose). Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, still the epitome of blandness) begins his third year at Hogwarts in a aura of fear; dangerous criminal Sirious Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped and ominous creatures called Dementors are found patroling outside Hogwarts. Rupert Grint still sucks as Ron; Emma Watson still continues to act circles around her male counterparts. The film is a darker, leaner film than the previous installments; the film wisely lets the high-profile supporting cast fall into the background and focuses mostly on the primary storyline. This may be frustrating for Harry Potter fans who bitch and moan at every little change from the novel, but it makes for a tighter film. Cuaron's treatment of the material is darker and more violent (in a sense; there's no gore and exploding heads) than its predecessors. The additions to the cast this time around (David Thewlis, perfectly cast as Professor Lupin; Oldman, always welcome; Emma Thompson, as a kooky, tea-reading professor; and Timothy Spall, in a small role) cement the film; the film's best scene is a very simple one featuring Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Thewlis and Spall in a haunted house. It's still not a flawless adaptation (such a thing is probably impossible when you're talking about Harry Potter, unfortunately) but it's a step in the right direction.

Dude, Where's My Car? (2000) *1/2

With this movie's mild cult following, I was lead to believe that maybe there was something to this movie other than the oft-ridiculed title and its most famous scene, in which the protagonists get tattoos that say "dude" and "sweet"; hilarity supposedly ensues. But, no... the title is pretty much the funniest thing about this poorly-made, paceless "stoner" comedy. Jesse and Chester (Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott) wake up after a night of hard partying not remembering what they did the night before... and not knowing where they left the car. They head out to find it in much the same way Beavis and Butthead set out to find their TV, except these guys aren't nearly as entertaining. Although the film's beginning sets the course for a mildly diverting stoner flick (this is called a stoner flick despite the fact that there's very little stoning going on; then again, with Kutcher and Scott headlining your picture, you'd want the PG-13 too), it devolves into a far-fetched and unfunny caper involving aliens, strippers, transvestites and very, very little laughs. The leads are limited enough as it is, but the film's complete lack of pace and timing pretty much gives them no chance at all. Cameos by Andy Dick and Brent Spiner do little to save a film (although their ad-libbed scene is by far the funniest) that never had much of a chance in the first place.

Air Bud Spikes Back (2003) *

Don't want to waste too many lines on this piece of crap. I won't try to justify the fact that I watched it, but in any case: Air Bud is back and this time he plays beach volleyball. He has less to do in the volleyball team than he ever did in his previous movies (I've actually only seen the first two, but eh) so two nitwit criminals kidnap him to go get a big diamond behind a bunch of red lasers. Cheaply made, poorly acted (makes me wonder what veteran character actors like Edie McClurg and Patrick Cranshaw are doing in this mess) and moronic even for small children. Don't try using the 'it's for kids' offensive; there's nothing good about this one.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
½

I'm getting mighty lazy with these. I've got sixteen to write before I get caught up.

Paycheck (2003) **

John Woo continues his perpetual descent from the pedestal of 'Best Action Director in the World' to the depths of second-tier sci-fi thrillers. Everything about this movie feels so familiar that it almost becomes self-effacing; you begin to forget what the movie is about while you're still watching it. Woo rapes potentially interesting material from Phillip K. Dick with the story of a programmer (Ben Affleck) who is hired to complete a project if he agrees to have his memory erased soon thereafter. When he goes to collect his paycheck, he finds out that he has forfeited the obscene sum of money for an envelope full of junk... which of course will prove useful in the long run. It plays more or less like Affleck's attempt at equalling his buddy Matt Damon's much, much better The Bourne Identity. But everything here seems low-rent; even with its prominent cast and director, the film can't avoid looking like a really good 1993 made for cable movie. The action scenes are nowhere near exciting and the lead performances are sleepy; even the explosions look like tidy, Universal-Studios-ride stuff. The only lively spots come from a lively supporting cast (including Paul Giamatti, Aaron Eckhart, Colm Feore and Joe Morton) and some unintentional laughs scattered here and there. For all of its flaws, Paycheck is not unwatchable; it's just limp, sluggish and uninvolving. It's the kind of movie you watch without paying much attention to and that, by the end, you realize that it didn't really matter wether you did or not.

Scary Movie 3 (2003) ***

The first one was mildly funny; the second one was the comedic nadir of the 21st century and this one is... surprisingly funny. If it's even concievable, Scary Movie 3 is even more sloppy and disorganized than its predecessors: its satire is all over the place, its cultural references follow each other with little rhyme or reason... but why is it so funny? It was a wise choice to resort to the PG-13 rating; this cuts out a great deal of penis jokes (not to mention cameos by man's best friend), semen jokes and other elaborate bodily functions that sank the second film. It was also wise to bring in people who, unlike the Wayans brothers, were once capable of decent spoofing (Keenan Ivory Wayans, having directed I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, is sorta forgiven... but not really). People like director David Zucker and actors like Leslie Nielsen and Charlie Sheen bring a certain aura of experience to a series usually populated with comedic 'talents' like Shannon Elizabeth, Tori Spelling and Squiggy. Not that there aren't any of those here; the film, in fact, seems hell-bent on reaching the young, urban black male population with ridiculous cameos by Ja Rule, Master P, Method Man, Redman or Fat Joe. But, I will admit it: I laughed. I laughed long and hard. Like all stupid comedies, it misses as much as it hits and its excuse for a plot is pathetic beyond all reasons. We all have one of these that makes us laugh despite the fact that it is, in all respects, a piece of shit. Mine, to my own amazement, is Scary Movie 3.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) ***1/2

The series has found its man: Alfonso Cuaron's treatment of the third novel in the series reaches heights the Colombus-helmed films never could (of course, Cuaron's not on board for the fourth chapter... wouldn't want too much of a good thing, I suppose). Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, still the epitome of blandness) begins his third year at Hogwarts in a aura of fear; dangerous criminal Sirious Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped and ominous creatures called Dementors are found patroling outside Hogwarts. Rupert Grint still sucks as Ron; Emma Watson still continues to act circles around her male counterparts. The film is a darker, leaner film than the previous installments; the film wisely lets the high-profile supporting cast fall into the background and focuses mostly on the primary storyline. This may be frustrating for Harry Potter fans who bitch and moan at every little change from the novel, but it makes for a tighter film. Cuaron's treatment of the material is darker and more violent (in a sense; there's no gore and exploding heads) than its predecessors. The additions to the cast this time around (David Thewlis, perfectly cast as Professor Lupin; Oldman, always welcome; Emma Thompson, as a kooky, tea-reading professor; and Timothy Spall, in a small role) cement the film; the film's best scene is a very simple one featuring Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Thewlis and Spall in a haunted house. It's still not a flawless adaptation (such a thing is probably impossible when you're talking about Harry Potter, unfortunately) but it's a step in the right direction.

Dude, Where's My Car? (2000) *1/2

With this movie's mild cult following, I was lead to believe that maybe there was something to this movie other than the oft-ridiculed title and its most famous scene, in which the protagonists get tattoos that say "dude" and "sweet"; hilarity supposedly ensues. But, no... the title is pretty much the funniest thing about this poorly-made, paceless "stoner" comedy. Jesse and Chester (Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott) wake up after a night of hard partying not remembering what they did the night before... and not knowing where they left the car. They head out to find it in much the same way Beavis and Butthead set out to find their TV, except these guys aren't nearly as entertaining. Although the film's beginning sets the course for a mildly diverting stoner flick (this is called a stoner flick despite the fact that there's very little stoning going on; then again, with Kutcher and Scott headlining your picture, you'd want the PG-13 too), it devolves into a far-fetched and unfunny caper involving aliens, strippers, transvestites and very, very little laughs. The leads are limited enough as it is, but the film's complete lack of pace and timing pretty much gives them no chance at all. Cameos by Andy Dick and Brent Spiner do little to save a film (although their ad-libbed scene is by far the funniest) that never had much of a chance in the first place.

Air Bud Spikes Back (2003) *

Don't want to waste too many lines on this piece of crap. I won't try to justify the fact that I watched it, but in any case: Air Bud is back and this time he plays beach volleyball. He has less to do in the volleyball team than he ever did in his previous movies (I've actually only seen the first two, but eh) so two nitwit criminals kidnap him to go get a big diamond behind a bunch of red lasers. Cheaply made, poorly acted (makes me wonder what veteran character actors like Edie McClurg and Patrick Cranshaw are doing in this mess) and moronic even for small children. Don't try using the 'it's for kids' offensive; there's nothing good about this one.

Air Bud 5 - Spikes Back

I'm getting mighty lazy with these. I've got sixteen to write before I get caught up.

Paycheck (2003) **

John Woo continues his perpetual descent from the pedestal of 'Best Action Director in the World' to the depths of second-tier sci-fi thrillers. Everything about this movie feels so familiar that it almost becomes self-effacing; you begin to forget what the movie is about while you're still watching it. Woo rapes potentially interesting material from Phillip K. Dick with the story of a programmer (Ben Affleck) who is hired to complete a project if he agrees to have his memory erased soon thereafter. When he goes to collect his paycheck, he finds out that he has forfeited the obscene sum of money for an envelope full of junk... which of course will prove useful in the long run. It plays more or less like Affleck's attempt at equalling his buddy Matt Damon's much, much better The Bourne Identity. But everything here seems low-rent; even with its prominent cast and director, the film can't avoid looking like a really good 1993 made for cable movie. The action scenes are nowhere near exciting and the lead performances are sleepy; even the explosions look like tidy, Universal-Studios-ride stuff. The only lively spots come from a lively supporting cast (including Paul Giamatti, Aaron Eckhart, Colm Feore and Joe Morton) and some unintentional laughs scattered here and there. For all of its flaws, Paycheck is not unwatchable; it's just limp, sluggish and uninvolving. It's the kind of movie you watch without paying much attention to and that, by the end, you realize that it didn't really matter wether you did or not.

Scary Movie 3 (2003) ***

The first one was mildly funny; the second one was the comedic nadir of the 21st century and this one is... surprisingly funny. If it's even concievable, Scary Movie 3 is even more sloppy and disorganized than its predecessors: its satire is all over the place, its cultural references follow each other with little rhyme or reason... but why is it so funny? It was a wise choice to resort to the PG-13 rating; this cuts out a great deal of penis jokes (not to mention cameos by man's best friend), semen jokes and other elaborate bodily functions that sank the second film. It was also wise to bring in people who, unlike the Wayans brothers, were once capable of decent spoofing (Keenan Ivory Wayans, having directed I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, is sorta forgiven... but not really). People like director David Zucker and actors like Leslie Nielsen and Charlie Sheen bring a certain aura of experience to a series usually populated with comedic 'talents' like Shannon Elizabeth, Tori Spelling and Squiggy. Not that there aren't any of those here; the film, in fact, seems hell-bent on reaching the young, urban black male population with ridiculous cameos by Ja Rule, Master P, Method Man, Redman or Fat Joe. But, I will admit it: I laughed. I laughed long and hard. Like all stupid comedies, it misses as much as it hits and its excuse for a plot is pathetic beyond all reasons. We all have one of these that makes us laugh despite the fact that it is, in all respects, a piece of shit. Mine, to my own amazement, is Scary Movie 3.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) ***1/2

The series has found its man: Alfonso Cuaron's treatment of the third novel in the series reaches heights the Colombus-helmed films never could (of course, Cuaron's not on board for the fourth chapter... wouldn't want too much of a good thing, I suppose). Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, still the epitome of blandness) begins his third year at Hogwarts in a aura of fear; dangerous criminal Sirious Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped and ominous creatures called Dementors are found patroling outside Hogwarts. Rupert Grint still sucks as Ron; Emma Watson still continues to act circles around her male counterparts. The film is a darker, leaner film than the previous installments; the film wisely lets the high-profile supporting cast fall into the background and focuses mostly on the primary storyline. This may be frustrating for Harry Potter fans who bitch and moan at every little change from the novel, but it makes for a tighter film. Cuaron's treatment of the material is darker and more violent (in a sense; there's no gore and exploding heads) than its predecessors. The additions to the cast this time around (David Thewlis, perfectly cast as Professor Lupin; Oldman, always welcome; Emma Thompson, as a kooky, tea-reading professor; and Timothy Spall, in a small role) cement the film; the film's best scene is a very simple one featuring Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Thewlis and Spall in a haunted house. It's still not a flawless adaptation (such a thing is probably impossible when you're talking about Harry Potter, unfortunately) but it's a step in the right direction.

Dude, Where's My Car? (2000) *1/2

With this movie's mild cult following, I was lead to believe that maybe there was something to this movie other than the oft-ridiculed title and its most famous scene, in which the protagonists get tattoos that say "dude" and "sweet"; hilarity supposedly ensues. But, no... the title is pretty much the funniest thing about this poorly-made, paceless "stoner" comedy. Jesse and Chester (Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott) wake up after a night of hard partying not remembering what they did the night before... and not knowing where they left the car. They head out to find it in much the same way Beavis and Butthead set out to find their TV, except these guys aren't nearly as entertaining. Although the film's beginning sets the course for a mildly diverting stoner flick (this is called a stoner flick despite the fact that there's very little stoning going on; then again, with Kutcher and Scott headlining your picture, you'd want the PG-13 too), it devolves into a far-fetched and unfunny caper involving aliens, strippers, transvestites and very, very little laughs. The leads are limited enough as it is, but the film's complete lack of pace and timing pretty much gives them no chance at all. Cameos by Andy Dick and Brent Spiner do little to save a film (although their ad-libbed scene is by far the funniest) that never had much of a chance in the first place.

Air Bud Spikes Back (2003) *

Don't want to waste too many lines on this piece of crap. I won't try to justify the fact that I watched it, but in any case: Air Bud is back and this time he plays beach volleyball. He has less to do in the volleyball team than he ever did in his previous movies (I've actually only seen the first two, but eh) so two nitwit criminals kidnap him to go get a big diamond behind a bunch of red lasers. Cheaply made, poorly acted (makes me wonder what veteran character actors like Edie McClurg and Patrick Cranshaw are doing in this mess) and moronic even for small children. Don't try using the 'it's for kids' offensive; there's nothing good about this one.

Eurotrip
Eurotrip(2003)
½

50 First Dates (2003) ***1/2

Doesn't begin very well, to be honest. First off, it tries to make us buy Adam Sandler as some sort of hunky Hawaiian Casanova; it doesn't work. It also introduces two annoying supporting characters: one of them is a pony-tailed Hawaiian pothead played by Rob Schneider (the character actually improves during the film, though) and the other is a sort of Bavarian version of Julia Sweeny's Pat character that runs the he-or-she jokes into the ground. It also features a walrus mass-vomiting. But, once the plot actually gets going, the movie surprises by actually being cleverly plotted out, funny and, yes, even romantic. Sandler plays Henry Roth, a marine biologist living in Hawaii whose romantic life amounts to little else that torrid one-night stands with tourists who invariably leave the next day. That is, until he meets a young woman named Lucy (Drew Barrymore, at the top of her cuteness... I'm pretty sure I said this about the last Barrymore movie I saw, but regardless) in a diner and falls hopelessly in love... only she can't remember him. It turns out that Lucy was in a car accident in which she lost her short term memory, and is living the same day every time she wakes up. From a rather contrived concept emerges a sweet, funny film that's much better than anything Sandler's done since The Wedding Singer (except for Punch Drunk Love). Yes, the ending is a little too syrupy-sweet; yes, the whole concept of Lucy's family hiding the truth from her by going through elaborate house-painting schemes is pretty far-fetched... but as a whole the movie is much funnier and intelligent than Sandler has accustomed us to. Even the usual annoying supporting characters are better here: Willy the penguin rules! I'm a fan of Sandler, I've always been, and I've always found even his worst movies to be at least mildly amusing. It's great to see one that I can consider more than just a guilty pleasure.

City of God (2002) ****1/2

The ultimate example of stylistic excess actually working in favor of a movie. The stuff in this movie isn't really original: a kid narrates his life in a slum, surrounded by crime and the colorful people that commit these crimes. But the filmmaking is so electric here that it feels like nothing you've ever seen before. The film centers around Rocket, a young man from the Brazilian slums of the City of God who dreams of becoming a photographer. He pursues his dream of finding a legitimate job while his entourage sinks deeper in a life of drug-dealing and crime. Truly epic in scope, Fernando Meirelles' adaptation of a Brazilian best-selling novel is one of those rare movies that manage to make style over substance work wonderfully. I don't know what else to say.

Mystic River (2003) ***1/2

I read Dennis Lehane's book prior to seeing this and so the "whodunit" aspect of the story had already been spoiled for me... but thankfully, Clint Eastwood's direction elevates the story past the state of a simple police procedural (something, ironically, Eastwood could not do with his adaptation of Michael Connelly's Blood Work, the previous year). Sean Penn plays an ex-con named Jimmy Markum living in Boston whose daughter (Emmy Rossum) is found murdered in the neighborhood park. The cop on the job (Kevin Bacon) is an old friend of Markum's... and one of his main suspects (played by Tim Robbins) a childhood friend who was taken away and abducted during a game of street hockey, many years ago. I'd say about 80% of this film's success is in its casting - without the right actors, Mystic River would've never worked. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland's few additions/modifications prove mostly futile; take, for example, Laura Linney's hackeneyed monologue near the end that, as far as I recall, wasn't in the novel. Eastwood is wonderful at directing the actors here but less skilled at building up the mystery. Too often his camera lingers on actors to, I don't know, heighten the sense of mystery and create doubt; it comes off mostly as cheesy and leaves you simply waiting for the "dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnnnnnn" on the soundtrack. But where Eastwood gets it right, he gets it damn right. Penn channels DeNiro (70's DeNiro, mind you, or Scorsese DeNiro... not this new, sell-out DeNiro who looks like he's sucked a lemon most of the time) in his Oscar-winning performance and although he's certainly done better (many times), his grief is more than palpable here. Robbins, also an Oscar winner, is Penn's polar opposite; he's quiet, introverted, stammering... a few actors could have pulled off the role of Jimmy as good as Penn, but few (if any) would be able to match Robbins here. Kevin Bacon's role is less showy than these two, but he does (as usual) a very good job. They're backed by Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Tom Guiry, Spencer Treat Clark and, in an unbilled cameo, the great Eli Wallach. It's not exactly the most gripping of films (well, to me, anyway) and it slows down to a crawl sometimes, but just watching these actors at work is enough.

Big Fish (2003) ****1/2

Tim Burton drops the gothic imagery and the ape makeup for this uncharacteristically colorful fantasy. Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) doesn't have a very good relationship with his father (Albert Finney); when Will was a kid, his father was never home, and when he returned he spun hard-to-believe tales to others while mostly neglecting his son. Now that his father is dying, however, Will returns to his side to try to sort the real from the made-up. The young Ed Bloom is played by Ewan MacGregor in a performance that surpasses anything MacGregor has done of late; he reminds us how good an actor he can be when not coasting on his high-profile career. But the star of the film is the story Burton (and to some extent, Ed Bloom) tells (the screenplay is by Go scribe John August, from a novel by Daniel Wallace). The film is an unabashed colorful fantasy, the kind that can be described as "whimsical" without a trace of irony. It has a certain Burton-esque sense of the grotesque (especially in the visuals) that pairs off with the Capra-esque flavor that Jim Carrey failed to achieve with his po-faced The Majestic. The cast is uniformly good, with Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter, Loudon Wainwright, Frat-Pack regular Missi Pyle, Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito playing the peculiar denizens of Bloom's peculiar tales. The film suceeds as both a fantasy and a powerful representation of the father-son dynamic and of death (which was adressed, more sloppily, in another highly-acclaimed movie this year, The Barbarian Invasions). There won't be a dry eye in the place.

Eurotrip (2004) **1/2

This movie comes across, really, as the very representation of modern mainstream American comedy; it features both the best and the worst of the genre. There's a lot of talent involved here; the writing team wrote fifteen episodes of Seinfeld and served as consultants and executive producers. One of them was even a writer for SNL. The cast is comprised of Seinfeld, SNL, The Drew Carey Show and Absolutely Fabulous alumni... but yet the film, because it is a teen comedy, often plumbs the dildo-and-feces-populated depths of the genre. This is all too bad because there's some genuinely funny stuff here. For what it's worth, the plot... Scott Thomas is a very typical teenage protagonist (more typical and boring than Jason Biggs, even) who gets dumped by his girlfriend (Smallville's Kristin Kreuk) on graduation day for a tattooed punk rocker (a hilarious cameo by Matt Damon) who has a less-than-subtle song about his cavorts with said girlfriend. Having nothing holding him back, Scott decides to embark on a journey to Germany to meet his pen-pal Mieke (Jessica Bohrs),a very hot blonde who, until very recently, he believed was a nerdy guy named Mike. So he ships off with his best buddy Cooper (the decidedly David Spade-like Jacob Pitts) to Europe, where they meet up with a pair of twins (Michelle Trachtenberg and Travis Wester) and, amongst other things, are befriend by soccer hooligans, practically raped by a creepy Italian guy, are chased by zombie-like nudists, are stranded in Bratislava and are "pleasured" by Lucy Lawless. The film's maniacal desire to create running gags is pathetic, but the actors are better than the ones they usually find for this type of material and their delivery solid. It's best when it focuses on dialogue and interplay between the characters (which isn't surprising considering the pedigree of the writers) but not nearly as funny when resorting to complex pratfalls and elaborate gags. It offers all of the genre's requisite nudity but it also has some very good dialogue; it's a fight between good and not-so-good that's never really resolved. The end product is an intriguing film that's never as bad as it could've been but never as good as it seems to promise.

Mystic River
Mystic River(2003)
½

50 First Dates (2003) ***1/2

Doesn't begin very well, to be honest. First off, it tries to make us buy Adam Sandler as some sort of hunky Hawaiian Casanova; it doesn't work. It also introduces two annoying supporting characters: one of them is a pony-tailed Hawaiian pothead played by Rob Schneider (the character actually improves during the film, though) and the other is a sort of Bavarian version of Julia Sweeny's Pat character that runs the he-or-she jokes into the ground. It also features a walrus mass-vomiting. But, once the plot actually gets going, the movie surprises by actually being cleverly plotted out, funny and, yes, even romantic. Sandler plays Henry Roth, a marine biologist living in Hawaii whose romantic life amounts to little else that torrid one-night stands with tourists who invariably leave the next day. That is, until he meets a young woman named Lucy (Drew Barrymore, at the top of her cuteness... I'm pretty sure I said this about the last Barrymore movie I saw, but regardless) in a diner and falls hopelessly in love... only she can't remember him. It turns out that Lucy was in a car accident in which she lost her short term memory, and is living the same day every time she wakes up. From a rather contrived concept emerges a sweet, funny film that's much better than anything Sandler's done since The Wedding Singer (except for Punch Drunk Love). Yes, the ending is a little too syrupy-sweet; yes, the whole concept of Lucy's family hiding the truth from her by going through elaborate house-painting schemes is pretty far-fetched... but as a whole the movie is much funnier and intelligent than Sandler has accustomed us to. Even the usual annoying supporting characters are better here: Willy the penguin rules! I'm a fan of Sandler, I've always been, and I've always found even his worst movies to be at least mildly amusing. It's great to see one that I can consider more than just a guilty pleasure.

City of God (2002) ****1/2

The ultimate example of stylistic excess actually working in favor of a movie. The stuff in this movie isn't really original: a kid narrates his life in a slum, surrounded by crime and the colorful people that commit these crimes. But the filmmaking is so electric here that it feels like nothing you've ever seen before. The film centers around Rocket, a young man from the Brazilian slums of the City of God who dreams of becoming a photographer. He pursues his dream of finding a legitimate job while his entourage sinks deeper in a life of drug-dealing and crime. Truly epic in scope, Fernando Meirelles' adaptation of a Brazilian best-selling novel is one of those rare movies that manage to make style over substance work wonderfully. I don't know what else to say.

Mystic River (2003) ***1/2

I read Dennis Lehane's book prior to seeing this and so the "whodunit" aspect of the story had already been spoiled for me... but thankfully, Clint Eastwood's direction elevates the story past the state of a simple police procedural (something, ironically, Eastwood could not do with his adaptation of Michael Connelly's Blood Work, the previous year). Sean Penn plays an ex-con named Jimmy Markum living in Boston whose daughter (Emmy Rossum) is found murdered in the neighborhood park. The cop on the job (Kevin Bacon) is an old friend of Markum's... and one of his main suspects (played by Tim Robbins) a childhood friend who was taken away and abducted during a game of street hockey, many years ago. I'd say about 80% of this film's success is in its casting - without the right actors, Mystic River would've never worked. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland's few additions/modifications prove mostly futile; take, for example, Laura Linney's hackeneyed monologue near the end that, as far as I recall, wasn't in the novel. Eastwood is wonderful at directing the actors here but less skilled at building up the mystery. Too often his camera lingers on actors to, I don't know, heighten the sense of mystery and create doubt; it comes off mostly as cheesy and leaves you simply waiting for the "dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnnnnnn" on the soundtrack. But where Eastwood gets it right, he gets it damn right. Penn channels DeNiro (70's DeNiro, mind you, or Scorsese DeNiro... not this new, sell-out DeNiro who looks like he's sucked a lemon most of the time) in his Oscar-winning performance and although he's certainly done better (many times), his grief is more than palpable here. Robbins, also an Oscar winner, is Penn's polar opposite; he's quiet, introverted, stammering... a few actors could have pulled off the role of Jimmy as good as Penn, but few (if any) would be able to match Robbins here. Kevin Bacon's role is less showy than these two, but he does (as usual) a very good job. They're backed by Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Tom Guiry, Spencer Treat Clark and, in an unbilled cameo, the great Eli Wallach. It's not exactly the most gripping of films (well, to me, anyway) and it slows down to a crawl sometimes, but just watching these actors at work is enough.

Big Fish (2003) ****1/2

Tim Burton drops the gothic imagery and the ape makeup for this uncharacteristically colorful fantasy. Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) doesn't have a very good relationship with his father (Albert Finney); when Will was a kid, his father was never home, and when he returned he spun hard-to-believe tales to others while mostly neglecting his son. Now that his father is dying, however, Will returns to his side to try to sort the real from the made-up. The young Ed Bloom is played by Ewan MacGregor in a performance that surpasses anything MacGregor has done of late; he reminds us how good an actor he can be when not coasting on his high-profile career. But the star of the film is the story Burton (and to some extent, Ed Bloom) tells (the screenplay is by Go scribe John August, from a novel by Daniel Wallace). The film is an unabashed colorful fantasy, the kind that can be described as "whimsical" without a trace of irony. It has a certain Burton-esque sense of the grotesque (especially in the visuals) that pairs off with the Capra-esque flavor that Jim Carrey failed to achieve with his po-faced The Majestic. The cast is uniformly good, with Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter, Loudon Wainwright, Frat-Pack regular Missi Pyle, Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito playing the peculiar denizens of Bloom's peculiar tales. The film suceeds as both a fantasy and a powerful representation of the father-son dynamic and of death (which was adressed, more sloppily, in another highly-acclaimed movie this year, The Barbarian Invasions). There won't be a dry eye in the place.

Eurotrip (2004) **1/2

This movie comes across, really, as the very representation of modern mainstream American comedy; it features both the best and the worst of the genre. There's a lot of talent involved here; the writing team wrote fifteen episodes of Seinfeld and served as consultants and executive producers. One of them was even a writer for SNL. The cast is comprised of Seinfeld, SNL, The Drew Carey Show and Absolutely Fabulous alumni... but yet the film, because it is a teen comedy, often plumbs the dildo-and-feces-populated depths of the genre. This is all too bad because there's some genuinely funny stuff here. For what it's worth, the plot... Scott Thomas is a very typical teenage protagonist (more typical and boring than Jason Biggs, even) who gets dumped by his girlfriend (Smallville's Kristin Kreuk) on graduation day for a tattooed punk rocker (a hilarious cameo by Matt Damon) who has a less-than-subtle song about his cavorts with said girlfriend. Having nothing holding him back, Scott decides to embark on a journey to Germany to meet his pen-pal Mieke (Jessica Bohrs),a very hot blonde who, until very recently, he believed was a nerdy guy named Mike. So he ships off with his best buddy Cooper (the decidedly David Spade-like Jacob Pitts) to Europe, where they meet up with a pair of twins (Michelle Trachtenberg and Travis Wester) and, amongst other things, are befriend by soccer hooligans, practically raped by a creepy Italian guy, are chased by zombie-like nudists, are stranded in Bratislava and are "pleasured" by Lucy Lawless. The film's maniacal desire to create running gags is pathetic, but the actors are better than the ones they usually find for this type of material and their delivery solid. It's best when it focuses on dialogue and interplay between the characters (which isn't surprising considering the pedigree of the writers) but not nearly as funny when resorting to complex pratfalls and elaborate gags. It offers all of the genre's requisite nudity but it also has some very good dialogue; it's a fight between good and not-so-good that's never really resolved. The end product is an intriguing film that's never as bad as it could've been but never as good as it seems to promise.

Cidade de Deus (City of God)
½

50 First Dates (2003) ***1/2

Doesn't begin very well, to be honest. First off, it tries to make us buy Adam Sandler as some sort of hunky Hawaiian Casanova; it doesn't work. It also introduces two annoying supporting characters: one of them is a pony-tailed Hawaiian pothead played by Rob Schneider (the character actually improves during the film, though) and the other is a sort of Bavarian version of Julia Sweeny's Pat character that runs the he-or-she jokes into the ground. It also features a walrus mass-vomiting. But, once the plot actually gets going, the movie surprises by actually being cleverly plotted out, funny and, yes, even romantic. Sandler plays Henry Roth, a marine biologist living in Hawaii whose romantic life amounts to little else that torrid one-night stands with tourists who invariably leave the next day. That is, until he meets a young woman named Lucy (Drew Barrymore, at the top of her cuteness... I'm pretty sure I said this about the last Barrymore movie I saw, but regardless) in a diner and falls hopelessly in love... only she can't remember him. It turns out that Lucy was in a car accident in which she lost her short term memory, and is living the same day every time she wakes up. From a rather contrived concept emerges a sweet, funny film that's much better than anything Sandler's done since The Wedding Singer (except for Punch Drunk Love). Yes, the ending is a little too syrupy-sweet; yes, the whole concept of Lucy's family hiding the truth from her by going through elaborate house-painting schemes is pretty far-fetched... but as a whole the movie is much funnier and intelligent than Sandler has accustomed us to. Even the usual annoying supporting characters are better here: Willy the penguin rules! I'm a fan of Sandler, I've always been, and I've always found even his worst movies to be at least mildly amusing. It's great to see one that I can consider more than just a guilty pleasure.

City of God (2002) ****1/2

The ultimate example of stylistic excess actually working in favor of a movie. The stuff in this movie isn't really original: a kid narrates his life in a slum, surrounded by crime and the colorful people that commit these crimes. But the filmmaking is so electric here that it feels like nothing you've ever seen before. The film centers around Rocket, a young man from the Brazilian slums of the City of God who dreams of becoming a photographer. He pursues his dream of finding a legitimate job while his entourage sinks deeper in a life of drug-dealing and crime. Truly epic in scope, Fernando Meirelles' adaptation of a Brazilian best-selling novel is one of those rare movies that manage to make style over substance work wonderfully. I don't know what else to say.

Mystic River (2003) ***1/2

I read Dennis Lehane's book prior to seeing this and so the "whodunit" aspect of the story had already been spoiled for me... but thankfully, Clint Eastwood's direction elevates the story past the state of a simple police procedural (something, ironically, Eastwood could not do with his adaptation of Michael Connelly's Blood Work, the previous year). Sean Penn plays an ex-con named Jimmy Markum living in Boston whose daughter (Emmy Rossum) is found murdered in the neighborhood park. The cop on the job (Kevin Bacon) is an old friend of Markum's... and one of his main suspects (played by Tim Robbins) a childhood friend who was taken away and abducted during a game of street hockey, many years ago. I'd say about 80% of this film's success is in its casting - without the right actors, Mystic River would've never worked. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland's few additions/modifications prove mostly futile; take, for example, Laura Linney's hackeneyed monologue near the end that, as far as I recall, wasn't in the novel. Eastwood is wonderful at directing the actors here but less skilled at building up the mystery. Too often his camera lingers on actors to, I don't know, heighten the sense of mystery and create doubt; it comes off mostly as cheesy and leaves you simply waiting for the "dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnnnnnn" on the soundtrack. But where Eastwood gets it right, he gets it damn right. Penn channels DeNiro (70's DeNiro, mind you, or Scorsese DeNiro... not this new, sell-out DeNiro who looks like he's sucked a lemon most of the time) in his Oscar-winning performance and although he's certainly done better (many times), his grief is more than palpable here. Robbins, also an Oscar winner, is Penn's polar opposite; he's quiet, introverted, stammering... a few actors could have pulled off the role of Jimmy as good as Penn, but few (if any) would be able to match Robbins here. Kevin Bacon's role is less showy than these two, but he does (as usual) a very good job. They're backed by Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Tom Guiry, Spencer Treat Clark and, in an unbilled cameo, the great Eli Wallach. It's not exactly the most gripping of films (well, to me, anyway) and it slows down to a crawl sometimes, but just watching these actors at work is enough.

Big Fish (2003) ****1/2

Tim Burton drops the gothic imagery and the ape makeup for this uncharacteristically colorful fantasy. Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) doesn't have a very good relationship with his father (Albert Finney); when Will was a kid, his father was never home, and when he returned he spun hard-to-believe tales to others while mostly neglecting his son. Now that his father is dying, however, Will returns to his side to try to sort the real from the made-up. The young Ed Bloom is played by Ewan MacGregor in a performance that surpasses anything MacGregor has done of late; he reminds us how good an actor he can be when not coasting on his high-profile career. But the star of the film is the story Burton (and to some extent, Ed Bloom) tells (the screenplay is by Go scribe John August, from a novel by Daniel Wallace). The film is an unabashed colorful fantasy, the kind that can be described as "whimsical" without a trace of irony. It has a certain Burton-esque sense of the grotesque (especially in the visuals) that pairs off with the Capra-esque flavor that Jim Carrey failed to achieve with his po-faced The Majestic. The cast is uniformly good, with Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter, Loudon Wainwright, Frat-Pack regular Missi Pyle, Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito playing the peculiar denizens of Bloom's peculiar tales. The film suceeds as both a fantasy and a powerful representation of the father-son dynamic and of death (which was adressed, more sloppily, in another highly-acclaimed movie this year, The Barbarian Invasions). There won't be a dry eye in the place.

Eurotrip (2004) **1/2

This movie comes across, really, as the very representation of modern mainstream American comedy; it features both the best and the worst of the genre. There's a lot of talent involved here; the writing team wrote fifteen episodes of Seinfeld and served as consultants and executive producers. One of them was even a writer for SNL. The cast is comprised of Seinfeld, SNL, The Drew Carey Show and Absolutely Fabulous alumni... but yet the film, because it is a teen comedy, often plumbs the dildo-and-feces-populated depths of the genre. This is all too bad because there's some genuinely funny stuff here. For what it's worth, the plot... Scott Thomas is a very typical teenage protagonist (more typical and boring than Jason Biggs, even) who gets dumped by his girlfriend (Smallville's Kristin Kreuk) on graduation day for a tattooed punk rocker (a hilarious cameo by Matt Damon) who has a less-than-subtle song about his cavorts with said girlfriend. Having nothing holding him back, Scott decides to embark on a journey to Germany to meet his pen-pal Mieke (Jessica Bohrs),a very hot blonde who, until very recently, he believed was a nerdy guy named Mike. So he ships off with his best buddy Cooper (the decidedly David Spade-like Jacob Pitts) to Europe, where they meet up with a pair of twins (Michelle Trachtenberg and Travis Wester) and, amongst other things, are befriend by soccer hooligans, practically raped by a creepy Italian guy, are chased by zombie-like nudists, are stranded in Bratislava and are "pleasured" by Lucy Lawless. The film's maniacal desire to create running gags is pathetic, but the actors are better than the ones they usually find for this type of material and their delivery solid. It's best when it focuses on dialogue and interplay between the characters (which isn't surprising considering the pedigree of the writers) but not nearly as funny when resorting to complex pratfalls and elaborate gags. It offers all of the genre's requisite nudity but it also has some very good dialogue; it's a fight between good and not-so-good that's never really resolved. The end product is an intriguing film that's never as bad as it could've been but never as good as it seems to promise.

50 First Dates
½

50 First Dates (2003) ***1/2

Doesn't begin very well, to be honest. First off, it tries to make us buy Adam Sandler as some sort of hunky Hawaiian Casanova; it doesn't work. It also introduces two annoying supporting characters: one of them is a pony-tailed Hawaiian pothead played by Rob Schneider (the character actually improves during the film, though) and the other is a sort of Bavarian version of Julia Sweeny's Pat character that runs the he-or-she jokes into the ground. It also features a walrus mass-vomiting. But, once the plot actually gets going, the movie surprises by actually being cleverly plotted out, funny and, yes, even romantic. Sandler plays Henry Roth, a marine biologist living in Hawaii whose romantic life amounts to little else that torrid one-night stands with tourists who invariably leave the next day. That is, until he meets a young woman named Lucy (Drew Barrymore, at the top of her cuteness... I'm pretty sure I said this about the last Barrymore movie I saw, but regardless) in a diner and falls hopelessly in love... only she can't remember him. It turns out that Lucy was in a car accident in which she lost her short term memory, and is living the same day every time she wakes up. From a rather contrived concept emerges a sweet, funny film that's much better than anything Sandler's done since The Wedding Singer (except for Punch Drunk Love). Yes, the ending is a little too syrupy-sweet; yes, the whole concept of Lucy's family hiding the truth from her by going through elaborate house-painting schemes is pretty far-fetched... but as a whole the movie is much funnier and intelligent than Sandler has accustomed us to. Even the usual annoying supporting characters are better here: Willy the penguin rules! I'm a fan of Sandler, I've always been, and I've always found even his worst movies to be at least mildly amusing. It's great to see one that I can consider more than just a guilty pleasure.

City of God (2002) ****1/2

The ultimate example of stylistic excess actually working in favor of a movie. The stuff in this movie isn't really original: a kid narrates his life in a slum, surrounded by crime and the colorful people that commit these crimes. But the filmmaking is so electric here that it feels like nothing you've ever seen before. The film centers around Rocket, a young man from the Brazilian slums of the City of God who dreams of becoming a photographer. He pursues his dream of finding a legitimate job while his entourage sinks deeper in a life of drug-dealing and crime. Truly epic in scope, Fernando Meirelles' adaptation of a Brazilian best-selling novel is one of those rare movies that manage to make style over substance work wonderfully. I don't know what else to say.

Mystic River (2003) ***1/2

I read Dennis Lehane's book prior to seeing this and so the "whodunit" aspect of the story had already been spoiled for me... but thankfully, Clint Eastwood's direction elevates the story past the state of a simple police procedural (something, ironically, Eastwood could not do with his adaptation of Michael Connelly's Blood Work, the previous year). Sean Penn plays an ex-con named Jimmy Markum living in Boston whose daughter (Emmy Rossum) is found murdered in the neighborhood park. The cop on the job (Kevin Bacon) is an old friend of Markum's... and one of his main suspects (played by Tim Robbins) a childhood friend who was taken away and abducted during a game of street hockey, many years ago. I'd say about 80% of this film's success is in its casting - without the right actors, Mystic River would've never worked. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland's few additions/modifications prove mostly futile; take, for example, Laura Linney's hackeneyed monologue near the end that, as far as I recall, wasn't in the novel. Eastwood is wonderful at directing the actors here but less skilled at building up the mystery. Too often his camera lingers on actors to, I don't know, heighten the sense of mystery and create doubt; it comes off mostly as cheesy and leaves you simply waiting for the "dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnnnnnn" on the soundtrack. But where Eastwood gets it right, he gets it damn right. Penn channels DeNiro (70's DeNiro, mind you, or Scorsese DeNiro... not this new, sell-out DeNiro who looks like he's sucked a lemon most of the time) in his Oscar-winning performance and although he's certainly done better (many times), his grief is more than palpable here. Robbins, also an Oscar winner, is Penn's polar opposite; he's quiet, introverted, stammering... a few actors could have pulled off the role of Jimmy as good as Penn, but few (if any) would be able to match Robbins here. Kevin Bacon's role is less showy than these two, but he does (as usual) a very good job. They're backed by Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Tom Guiry, Spencer Treat Clark and, in an unbilled cameo, the great Eli Wallach. It's not exactly the most gripping of films (well, to me, anyway) and it slows down to a crawl sometimes, but just watching these actors at work is enough.

Big Fish (2003) ****1/2

Tim Burton drops the gothic imagery and the ape makeup for this uncharacteristically colorful fantasy. Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) doesn't have a very good relationship with his father (Albert Finney); when Will was a kid, his father was never home, and when he returned he spun hard-to-believe tales to others while mostly neglecting his son. Now that his father is dying, however, Will returns to his side to try to sort the real from the made-up. The young Ed Bloom is played by Ewan MacGregor in a performance that surpasses anything MacGregor has done of late; he reminds us how good an actor he can be when not coasting on his high-profile career. But the star of the film is the story Burton (and to some extent, Ed Bloom) tells (the screenplay is by Go scribe John August, from a novel by Daniel Wallace). The film is an unabashed colorful fantasy, the kind that can be described as "whimsical" without a trace of irony. It has a certain Burton-esque sense of the grotesque (especially in the visuals) that pairs off with the Capra-esque flavor that Jim Carrey failed to achieve with his po-faced The Majestic. The cast is uniformly good, with Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter, Loudon Wainwright, Frat-Pack regular Missi Pyle, Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito playing the peculiar denizens of Bloom's peculiar tales. The film suceeds as both a fantasy and a powerful representation of the father-son dynamic and of death (which was adressed, more sloppily, in another highly-acclaimed movie this year, The Barbarian Invasions). There won't be a dry eye in the place.

Eurotrip (2004) **1/2

This movie comes across, really, as the very representation of modern mainstream American comedy; it features both the best and the worst of the genre. There's a lot of talent involved here; the writing team wrote fifteen episodes of Seinfeld and served as consultants and executive producers. One of them was even a writer for SNL. The cast is comprised of Seinfeld, SNL, The Drew Carey Show and Absolutely Fabulous alumni... but yet the film, because it is a teen comedy, often plumbs the dildo-and-feces-populated depths of the genre. This is all too bad because there's some genuinely funny stuff here. For what it's worth, the plot... Scott Thomas is a very typical teenage protagonist (more typical and boring than Jason Biggs, even) who gets dumped by his girlfriend (Smallville's Kristin Kreuk) on graduation day for a tattooed punk rocker (a hilarious cameo by Matt Damon) who has a less-than-subtle song about his cavorts with said girlfriend. Having nothing holding him back, Scott decides to embark on a journey to Germany to meet his pen-pal Mieke (Jessica Bohrs),a very hot blonde who, until very recently, he believed was a nerdy guy named Mike. So he ships off with his best buddy Cooper (the decidedly David Spade-like Jacob Pitts) to Europe, where they meet up with a pair of twins (Michelle Trachtenberg and Travis Wester) and, amongst other things, are befriend by soccer hooligans, practically raped by a creepy Italian guy, are chased by zombie-like nudists, are stranded in Bratislava and are "pleasured" by Lucy Lawless. The film's maniacal desire to create running gags is pathetic, but the actors are better than the ones they usually find for this type of material and their delivery solid. It's best when it focuses on dialogue and interplay between the characters (which isn't surprising considering the pedigree of the writers) but not nearly as funny when resorting to complex pratfalls and elaborate gags. It offers all of the genre's requisite nudity but it also has some very good dialogue; it's a fight between good and not-so-good that's never really resolved. The end product is an intriguing film that's never as bad as it could've been but never as good as it seems to promise.

Big Fish
Big Fish(2003)
½

50 First Dates (2003) ***1/2

Doesn't begin very well, to be honest. First off, it tries to make us buy Adam Sandler as some sort of hunky Hawaiian Casanova; it doesn't work. It also introduces two annoying supporting characters: one of them is a pony-tailed Hawaiian pothead played by Rob Schneider (the character actually improves during the film, though) and the other is a sort of Bavarian version of Julia Sweeny's Pat character that runs the he-or-she jokes into the ground. It also features a walrus mass-vomiting. But, once the plot actually gets going, the movie surprises by actually being cleverly plotted out, funny and, yes, even romantic. Sandler plays Henry Roth, a marine biologist living in Hawaii whose romantic life amounts to little else that torrid one-night stands with tourists who invariably leave the next day. That is, until he meets a young woman named Lucy (Drew Barrymore, at the top of her cuteness... I'm pretty sure I said this about the last Barrymore movie I saw, but regardless) in a diner and falls hopelessly in love... only she can't remember him. It turns out that Lucy was in a car accident in which she lost her short term memory, and is living the same day every time she wakes up. From a rather contrived concept emerges a sweet, funny film that's much better than anything Sandler's done since The Wedding Singer (except for Punch Drunk Love). Yes, the ending is a little too syrupy-sweet; yes, the whole concept of Lucy's family hiding the truth from her by going through elaborate house-painting schemes is pretty far-fetched... but as a whole the movie is much funnier and intelligent than Sandler has accustomed us to. Even the usual annoying supporting characters are better here: Willy the penguin rules! I'm a fan of Sandler, I've always been, and I've always found even his worst movies to be at least mildly amusing. It's great to see one that I can consider more than just a guilty pleasure.

City of God (2002) ****1/2

The ultimate example of stylistic excess actually working in favor of a movie. The stuff in this movie isn't really original: a kid narrates his life in a slum, surrounded by crime and the colorful people that commit these crimes. But the filmmaking is so electric here that it feels like nothing you've ever seen before. The film centers around Rocket, a young man from the Brazilian slums of the City of God who dreams of becoming a photographer. He pursues his dream of finding a legitimate job while his entourage sinks deeper in a life of drug-dealing and crime. Truly epic in scope, Fernando Meirelles' adaptation of a Brazilian best-selling novel is one of those rare movies that manage to make style over substance work wonderfully. I don't know what else to say.

Mystic River (2003) ***1/2

I read Dennis Lehane's book prior to seeing this and so the "whodunit" aspect of the story had already been spoiled for me... but thankfully, Clint Eastwood's direction elevates the story past the state of a simple police procedural (something, ironically, Eastwood could not do with his adaptation of Michael Connelly's Blood Work, the previous year). Sean Penn plays an ex-con named Jimmy Markum living in Boston whose daughter (Emmy Rossum) is found murdered in the neighborhood park. The cop on the job (Kevin Bacon) is an old friend of Markum's... and one of his main suspects (played by Tim Robbins) a childhood friend who was taken away and abducted during a game of street hockey, many years ago. I'd say about 80% of this film's success is in its casting - without the right actors, Mystic River would've never worked. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland's few additions/modifications prove mostly futile; take, for example, Laura Linney's hackeneyed monologue near the end that, as far as I recall, wasn't in the novel. Eastwood is wonderful at directing the actors here but less skilled at building up the mystery. Too often his camera lingers on actors to, I don't know, heighten the sense of mystery and create doubt; it comes off mostly as cheesy and leaves you simply waiting for the "dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnnnnnn" on the soundtrack. But where Eastwood gets it right, he gets it damn right. Penn channels DeNiro (70's DeNiro, mind you, or Scorsese DeNiro... not this new, sell-out DeNiro who looks like he's sucked a lemon most of the time) in his Oscar-winning performance and although he's certainly done better (many times), his grief is more than palpable here. Robbins, also an Oscar winner, is Penn's polar opposite; he's quiet, introverted, stammering... a few actors could have pulled off the role of Jimmy as good as Penn, but few (if any) would be able to match Robbins here. Kevin Bacon's role is less showy than these two, but he does (as usual) a very good job. They're backed by Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Tom Guiry, Spencer Treat Clark and, in an unbilled cameo, the great Eli Wallach. It's not exactly the most gripping of films (well, to me, anyway) and it slows down to a crawl sometimes, but just watching these actors at work is enough.

Big Fish (2003) ****1/2

Tim Burton drops the gothic imagery and the ape makeup for this uncharacteristically colorful fantasy. Will Bloom (Billy Crudup) doesn't have a very good relationship with his father (Albert Finney); when Will was a kid, his father was never home, and when he returned he spun hard-to-believe tales to others while mostly neglecting his son. Now that his father is dying, however, Will returns to his side to try to sort the real from the made-up. The young Ed Bloom is played by Ewan MacGregor in a performance that surpasses anything MacGregor has done of late; he reminds us how good an actor he can be when not coasting on his high-profile career. But the star of the film is the story Burton (and to some extent, Ed Bloom) tells (the screenplay is by Go scribe John August, from a novel by Daniel Wallace). The film is an unabashed colorful fantasy, the kind that can be described as "whimsical" without a trace of irony. It has a certain Burton-esque sense of the grotesque (especially in the visuals) that pairs off with the Capra-esque flavor that Jim Carrey failed to achieve with his po-faced The Majestic. The cast is uniformly good, with Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter, Loudon Wainwright, Frat-Pack regular Missi Pyle, Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito playing the peculiar denizens of Bloom's peculiar tales. The film suceeds as both a fantasy and a powerful representation of the father-son dynamic and of death (which was adressed, more sloppily, in another highly-acclaimed movie this year, The Barbarian Invasions). There won't be a dry eye in the place.

Eurotrip (2004) **1/2

This movie comes across, really, as the very representation of modern mainstream American comedy; it features both the best and the worst of the genre. There's a lot of talent involved here; the writing team wrote fifteen episodes of Seinfeld and served as consultants and executive producers. One of them was even a writer for SNL. The cast is comprised of Seinfeld, SNL, The Drew Carey Show and Absolutely Fabulous alumni... but yet the film, because it is a teen comedy, often plumbs the dildo-and-feces-populated depths of the genre. This is all too bad because there's some genuinely funny stuff here. For what it's worth, the plot... Scott Thomas is a very typical teenage protagonist (more typical and boring than Jason Biggs, even) who gets dumped by his girlfriend (Smallville's Kristin Kreuk) on graduation day for a tattooed punk rocker (a hilarious cameo by Matt Damon) who has a less-than-subtle song about his cavorts with said girlfriend. Having nothing holding him back, Scott decides to embark on a journey to Germany to meet his pen-pal Mieke (Jessica Bohrs),a very hot blonde who, until very recently, he believed was a nerdy guy named Mike. So he ships off with his best buddy Cooper (the decidedly David Spade-like Jacob Pitts) to Europe, where they meet up with a pair of twins (Michelle Trachtenberg and Travis Wester) and, amongst other things, are befriend by soccer hooligans, practically raped by a creepy Italian guy, are chased by zombie-like nudists, are stranded in Bratislava and are "pleasured" by Lucy Lawless. The film's maniacal desire to create running gags is pathetic, but the actors are better than the ones they usually find for this type of material and their delivery solid. It's best when it focuses on dialogue and interplay between the characters (which isn't surprising considering the pedigree of the writers) but not nearly as funny when resorting to complex pratfalls and elaborate gags. It offers all of the genre's requisite nudity but it also has some very good dialogue; it's a fight between good and not-so-good that's never really resolved. The end product is an intriguing film that's never as bad as it could've been but never as good as it seems to promise.

West Side Story
½

Something's Gotta Give (2003) **

I don't know who exactly the producers were targeting with this anemic romantic comedy; younger viewers will undeniably be grossed out by the idea that old people have sex and older viewers certainly won't connect with these wrinkly characters stuck in perpetual adolescence. For what it's worth, Jack Nicholson plays a hip-hop producer (in the first of the countless absurd claims this movie makes) who suffers a heart attack in the Hamptons home of his 30-year-old squeeze (Amanda Peet). His doctor (Keanu Reeves, absurd claim #2) orders him to rest... and where else can he rest but the Hamptons home, with his girlfriend's writer mother (Diane Keaton), whom Harry cannot stand. Of course, they fall in love... but then Keanu also falls in love with Keaton. And somewhere in this fit Frances McDormand and Jon Favreau (as well as the original Starsky, for some reason). Something's Gotta Give is a colossal waste of talent in front of the camera (as for the back of the camera, Meyers is pretty much her old reliable hack self) backed by a ridiculous screenplay. I don't understand how anyone can believe that people would actually act like this; there are actually TWO scenes in which Nicholson and Keaton flirt using instant messaging. The stars are watchable enough; even Reeves is bearable, but they can't save the screenplay. Nothing can.

Beyond Borders (2003) *1/2

These movies used to be a dime a dozen in the early 90's: a politically conscious, cheaply-made vehicle for a fading (or rising, for that matter) star that gives the illusion that it's actually trying to make a point. It's the kind of movie that dupes casual viewers into thinking that they're actually watching something thought-provoking. Angelina plays a wealthy socialite who attends a social faction against AIDS when hunky doctor Clive Owen drops by with a malnourished African kid and a tirade about how bad the kid's life is. This encourages Jolie to ship off to Africa, where she helps Owen give aid to those less fortunate. Also, she gets some hot doctor sex, obviously. She goes to Cambodia five years after that (more hot doctor sex) and finally to Chechenya five years after that (no hot doctor sex here). I'm surprised to learn that Oliver Stone, of all people, was originally slated to direct this corny, faux-epic romance. The topic is right up Stone's alley, but the script is decrepit, hokey bullshit of the first order: predictable to the core, sappy and filled with every device in the book to ensure that we feel some hollow pain for the cardboard cutouts on-screen. Of course Jolie always remains perfectly made up and coiffed despite the fact that she's in some of the dirtiest, poorest regions in the world... and of course there are small children in peril (there's even a CGI malnourished baby that's not much more convincing than Jar-Jar). Jolie and Owen aren't actually too bad (barring the fact they have zero chemistry together) and there's one scene involving a grenade that (if only for a brief moment) actually caught my attention... but the filmmakers would've been better off giving the 35 million budget straight to UNICEF.

West Side Story (1961) ***1/2

Gang warfare and ballet don't go together, but this movie tries anyway. Far from being the end-all classic musical it is billed as, West Side Story remains a fairly entertaining musical. The film is set in New York, where two gangs duke it out because... that's what gangs do. Things blow up when a member of the Jets, Tony (Richard Beymer) falls in love with the sister of the Sharks' leader (George Chakiris), Maria (Natalie Wood). It's not always easy to buy the film's golly-gee-whiz hoodlums or their triple-lutzing brawls; the film has its share of ridiculous scenes but it picks up whenever there's a song. The choreography of these scenes is often amazing... but the film has a few too many slow, tender songs that bring the film to a grinding halt. Speaking of which, the leads have little chemistry and their story is only mildly involving; thankfully the supporting cast are much more alive and interesting (if you forget the fact that most of the so-called tough guys look a lot like Moe from the Simpsons). It's certainly no Singin' in the Rain (few films are, musical or not) but it sure as hell beats The Sound of Music as far as venerable classic musicals go.

21 Grams (2003) ****

Inarritu's follow-up to his intense debut Amores Perros shares many similarities with the previous film: they have the same chopped-up narrative, the same gritty visual style and both films have a car accident as their center. But where Amores Perros had brutal shifts in tone, 21 Grams has none. This is brutal and depressing the whole way through. Benicio Del Toro plays a reformed criminal / born-again Christian who accidentally runs over a man (Danny Huston) and his two daughters, sending the man's wife (Naomi Watts) back in a downward spiral of drugs until she meets the man who got her husband's heart (Sean Penn), a sickly math teacher who is intent on meeting the wife of the man who saved his life. Inarritu uses the same fractured chronology as he did in Amores Perros to tell a story that doesn't necessarily require it; the story eventually loses momentum because of its storytelling, which goes over some elements more than once when the elements don't necessarily need it. In spite of this, the film is gritty and raw, an actor's workshop if I ever saw one that draws fantastic performances from the leads. It comes mighty close to head-exploding, student-film pretention at times but fortunately the film is intelligent enough to avoid wallowing in self pity. We have a wonderful talent emerging in Inarritu; now he only has to prove that he can make a movie without chopping it up in any order.

The Big Sleep (1946) ****1/2

Is there really an actor that's more effortlessly, unconciously cool than Bogart? Here he is at his apex, really, as the famous private eye Phillip Marlowe. Marlowe is summoned by a dying general to tie up some loose ends concerning his family - loose ends that all point to a man named Sean Regan, who has disappeared, taking with him an eminent mobster's wife. Soon, people start dropping like flies and Marlowe discovers that there may be more (a lot more) to the story than it may seem. Not to mention that Vivian, the general's daughter (played, of course, by Lauren Bacall) has taken a liking to Marlowe... and he's not saying know. The plot is ridiculously, deliciously complicated; it's common Hollywood folklore that no one actually knew who killed certain characters... but the script is really more than just a lot of plot twists. The dialogue is terrific; this is by far the most quotable of the film noirs I've seen. Bogart is the epitome of Bogartness here; he is, of course, paired with Bacall and they pretty much make sparks. The plot does get a little too contrived at times, but otherwise this is top-flight stuff.

The Big Sleep
½

Something's Gotta Give (2003) **

I don't know who exactly the producers were targeting with this anemic romantic comedy; younger viewers will undeniably be grossed out by the idea that old people have sex and older viewers certainly won't connect with these wrinkly characters stuck in perpetual adolescence. For what it's worth, Jack Nicholson plays a hip-hop producer (in the first of the countless absurd claims this movie makes) who suffers a heart attack in the Hamptons home of his 30-year-old squeeze (Amanda Peet). His doctor (Keanu Reeves, absurd claim #2) orders him to rest... and where else can he rest but the Hamptons home, with his girlfriend's writer mother (Diane Keaton), whom Harry cannot stand. Of course, they fall in love... but then Keanu also falls in love with Keaton. And somewhere in this fit Frances McDormand and Jon Favreau (as well as the original Starsky, for some reason). Something's Gotta Give is a colossal waste of talent in front of the camera (as for the back of the camera, Meyers is pretty much her old reliable hack self) backed by a ridiculous screenplay. I don't understand how anyone can believe that people would actually act like this; there are actually TWO scenes in which Nicholson and Keaton flirt using instant messaging. The stars are watchable enough; even Reeves is bearable, but they can't save the screenplay. Nothing can.

Beyond Borders (2003) *1/2

These movies used to be a dime a dozen in the early 90's: a politically conscious, cheaply-made vehicle for a fading (or rising, for that matter) star that gives the illusion that it's actually trying to make a point. It's the kind of movie that dupes casual viewers into thinking that they're actually watching something thought-provoking. Angelina plays a wealthy socialite who attends a social faction against AIDS when hunky doctor Clive Owen drops by with a malnourished African kid and a tirade about how bad the kid's life is. This encourages Jolie to ship off to Africa, where she helps Owen give aid to those less fortunate. Also, she gets some hot doctor sex, obviously. She goes to Cambodia five years after that (more hot doctor sex) and finally to Chechenya five years after that (no hot doctor sex here). I'm surprised to learn that Oliver Stone, of all people, was originally slated to direct this corny, faux-epic romance. The topic is right up Stone's alley, but the script is decrepit, hokey bullshit of the first order: predictable to the core, sappy and filled with every device in the book to ensure that we feel some hollow pain for the cardboard cutouts on-screen. Of course Jolie always remains perfectly made up and coiffed despite the fact that she's in some of the dirtiest, poorest regions in the world... and of course there are small children in peril (there's even a CGI malnourished baby that's not much more convincing than Jar-Jar). Jolie and Owen aren't actually too bad (barring the fact they have zero chemistry together) and there's one scene involving a grenade that (if only for a brief moment) actually caught my attention... but the filmmakers would've been better off giving the 35 million budget straight to UNICEF.

West Side Story (1961) ***1/2

Gang warfare and ballet don't go together, but this movie tries anyway. Far from being the end-all classic musical it is billed as, West Side Story remains a fairly entertaining musical. The film is set in New York, where two gangs duke it out because... that's what gangs do. Things blow up when a member of the Jets, Tony (Richard Beymer) falls in love with the sister of the Sharks' leader (George Chakiris), Maria (Natalie Wood). It's not always easy to buy the film's golly-gee-whiz hoodlums or their triple-lutzing brawls; the film has its share of ridiculous scenes but it picks up whenever there's a song. The choreography of these scenes is often amazing... but the film has a few too many slow, tender songs that bring the film to a grinding halt. Speaking of which, the leads have little chemistry and their story is only mildly involving; thankfully the supporting cast are much more alive and interesting (if you forget the fact that most of the so-called tough guys look a lot like Moe from the Simpsons). It's certainly no Singin' in the Rain (few films are, musical or not) but it sure as hell beats The Sound of Music as far as venerable classic musicals go.

21 Grams (2003) ****

Inarritu's follow-up to his intense debut Amores Perros shares many similarities with the previous film: they have the same chopped-up narrative, the same gritty visual style and both films have a car accident as their center. But where Amores Perros had brutal shifts in tone, 21 Grams has none. This is brutal and depressing the whole way through. Benicio Del Toro plays a reformed criminal / born-again Christian who accidentally runs over a man (Danny Huston) and his two daughters, sending the man's wife (Naomi Watts) back in a downward spiral of drugs until she meets the man who got her husband's heart (Sean Penn), a sickly math teacher who is intent on meeting the wife of the man who saved his life. Inarritu uses the same fractured chronology as he did in Amores Perros to tell a story that doesn't necessarily require it; the story eventually loses momentum because of its storytelling, which goes over some elements more than once when the elements don't necessarily need it. In spite of this, the film is gritty and raw, an actor's workshop if I ever saw one that draws fantastic performances from the leads. It comes mighty close to head-exploding, student-film pretention at times but fortunately the film is intelligent enough to avoid wallowing in self pity. We have a wonderful talent emerging in Inarritu; now he only has to prove that he can make a movie without chopping it up in any order.

The Big Sleep (1946) ****1/2

Is there really an actor that's more effortlessly, unconciously cool than Bogart? Here he is at his apex, really, as the famous private eye Phillip Marlowe. Marlowe is summoned by a dying general to tie up some loose ends concerning his family - loose ends that all point to a man named Sean Regan, who has disappeared, taking with him an eminent mobster's wife. Soon, people start dropping like flies and Marlowe discovers that there may be more (a lot more) to the story than it may seem. Not to mention that Vivian, the general's daughter (played, of course, by Lauren Bacall) has taken a liking to Marlowe... and he's not saying know. The plot is ridiculously, deliciously complicated; it's common Hollywood folklore that no one actually knew who killed certain characters... but the script is really more than just a lot of plot twists. The dialogue is terrific; this is by far the most quotable of the film noirs I've seen. Bogart is the epitome of Bogartness here; he is, of course, paired with Bacall and they pretty much make sparks. The plot does get a little too contrived at times, but otherwise this is top-flight stuff.

Beyond Borders
½

Something's Gotta Give (2003) **

I don't know who exactly the producers were targeting with this anemic romantic comedy; younger viewers will undeniably be grossed out by the idea that old people have sex and older viewers certainly won't connect with these wrinkly characters stuck in perpetual adolescence. For what it's worth, Jack Nicholson plays a hip-hop producer (in the first of the countless absurd claims this movie makes) who suffers a heart attack in the Hamptons home of his 30-year-old squeeze (Amanda Peet). His doctor (Keanu Reeves, absurd claim #2) orders him to rest... and where else can he rest but the Hamptons home, with his girlfriend's writer mother (Diane Keaton), whom Harry cannot stand. Of course, they fall in love... but then Keanu also falls in love with Keaton. And somewhere in this fit Frances McDormand and Jon Favreau (as well as the original Starsky, for some reason). Something's Gotta Give is a colossal waste of talent in front of the camera (as for the back of the camera, Meyers is pretty much her old reliable hack self) backed by a ridiculous screenplay. I don't understand how anyone can believe that people would actually act like this; there are actually TWO scenes in which Nicholson and Keaton flirt using instant messaging. The stars are watchable enough; even Reeves is bearable, but they can't save the screenplay. Nothing can.

Beyond Borders (2003) *1/2

These movies used to be a dime a dozen in the early 90's: a politically conscious, cheaply-made vehicle for a fading (or rising, for that matter) star that gives the illusion that it's actually trying to make a point. It's the kind of movie that dupes casual viewers into thinking that they're actually watching something thought-provoking. Angelina plays a wealthy socialite who attends a social faction against AIDS when hunky doctor Clive Owen drops by with a malnourished African kid and a tirade about how bad the kid's life is. This encourages Jolie to ship off to Africa, where she helps Owen give aid to those less fortunate. Also, she gets some hot doctor sex, obviously. She goes to Cambodia five years after that (more hot doctor sex) and finally to Chechenya five years after that (no hot doctor sex here). I'm surprised to learn that Oliver Stone, of all people, was originally slated to direct this corny, faux-epic romance. The topic is right up Stone's alley, but the script is decrepit, hokey bullshit of the first order: predictable to the core, sappy and filled with every device in the book to ensure that we feel some hollow pain for the cardboard cutouts on-screen. Of course Jolie always remains perfectly made up and coiffed despite the fact that she's in some of the dirtiest, poorest regions in the world... and of course there are small children in peril (there's even a CGI malnourished baby that's not much more convincing than Jar-Jar). Jolie and Owen aren't actually too bad (barring the fact they have zero chemistry together) and there's one scene involving a grenade that (if only for a brief moment) actually caught my attention... but the filmmakers would've been better off giving the 35 million budget straight to UNICEF.

West Side Story (1961) ***1/2

Gang warfare and ballet don't go together, but this movie tries anyway. Far from being the end-all classic musical it is billed as, West Side Story remains a fairly entertaining musical. The film is set in New York, where two gangs duke it out because... that's what gangs do. Things blow up when a member of the Jets, Tony (Richard Beymer) falls in love with the sister of the Sharks' leader (George Chakiris), Maria (Natalie Wood). It's not always easy to buy the film's golly-gee-whiz hoodlums or their triple-lutzing brawls; the film has its share of ridiculous scenes but it picks up whenever there's a song. The choreography of these scenes is often amazing... but the film has a few too many slow, tender songs that bring the film to a grinding halt. Speaking of which, the leads have little chemistry and their story is only mildly involving; thankfully the supporting cast are much more alive and interesting (if you forget the fact that most of the so-called tough guys look a lot like Moe from the Simpsons). It's certainly no Singin' in the Rain (few films are, musical or not) but it sure as hell beats The Sound of Music as far as venerable classic musicals go.

21 Grams (2003) ****

Inarritu's follow-up to his intense debut Amores Perros shares many similarities with the previous film: they have the same chopped-up narrative, the same gritty visual style and both films have a car accident as their center. But where Amores Perros had brutal shifts in tone, 21 Grams has none. This is brutal and depressing the whole way through. Benicio Del Toro plays a reformed criminal / born-again Christian who accidentally runs over a man (Danny Huston) and his two daughters, sending the man's wife (Naomi Watts) back in a downward spiral of drugs until she meets the man who got her husband's heart (Sean Penn), a sickly math teacher who is intent on meeting the wife of the man who saved his life. Inarritu uses the same fractured chronology as he did in Amores Perros to tell a story that doesn't necessarily require it; the story eventually loses momentum because of its storytelling, which goes over some elements more than once when the elements don't necessarily need it. In spite of this, the film is gritty and raw, an actor's workshop if I ever saw one that draws fantastic performances from the leads. It comes mighty close to head-exploding, student-film pretention at times but fortunately the film is intelligent enough to avoid wallowing in self pity. We have a wonderful talent emerging in Inarritu; now he only has to prove that he can make a movie without chopping it up in any order.

The Big Sleep (1946) ****1/2

Is there really an actor that's more effortlessly, unconciously cool than Bogart? Here he is at his apex, really, as the famous private eye Phillip Marlowe. Marlowe is summoned by a dying general to tie up some loose ends concerning his family - loose ends that all point to a man named Sean Regan, who has disappeared, taking with him an eminent mobster's wife. Soon, people start dropping like flies and Marlowe discovers that there may be more (a lot more) to the story than it may seem. Not to mention that Vivian, the general's daughter (played, of course, by Lauren Bacall) has taken a liking to Marlowe... and he's not saying know. The plot is ridiculously, deliciously complicated; it's common Hollywood folklore that no one actually knew who killed certain characters... but the script is really more than just a lot of plot twists. The dialogue is terrific; this is by far the most quotable of the film noirs I've seen. Bogart is the epitome of Bogartness here; he is, of course, paired with Bacall and they pretty much make sparks. The plot does get a little too contrived at times, but otherwise this is top-flight stuff.

21 Grams
21 Grams(2003)

Something's Gotta Give (2003) **

I don't know who exactly the producers were targeting with this anemic romantic comedy; younger viewers will undeniably be grossed out by the idea that old people have sex and older viewers certainly won't connect with these wrinkly characters stuck in perpetual adolescence. For what it's worth, Jack Nicholson plays a hip-hop producer (in the first of the countless absurd claims this movie makes) who suffers a heart attack in the Hamptons home of his 30-year-old squeeze (Amanda Peet). His doctor (Keanu Reeves, absurd claim #2) orders him to rest... and where else can he rest but the Hamptons home, with his girlfriend's writer mother (Diane Keaton), whom Harry cannot stand. Of course, they fall in love... but then Keanu also falls in love with Keaton. And somewhere in this fit Frances McDormand and Jon Favreau (as well as the original Starsky, for some reason). Something's Gotta Give is a colossal waste of talent in front of the camera (as for the back of the camera, Meyers is pretty much her old reliable hack self) backed by a ridiculous screenplay. I don't understand how anyone can believe that people would actually act like this; there are actually TWO scenes in which Nicholson and Keaton flirt using instant messaging. The stars are watchable enough; even Reeves is bearable, but they can't save the screenplay. Nothing can.

Beyond Borders (2003) *1/2

These movies used to be a dime a dozen in the early 90's: a politically conscious, cheaply-made vehicle for a fading (or rising, for that matter) star that gives the illusion that it's actually trying to make a point. It's the kind of movie that dupes casual viewers into thinking that they're actually watching something thought-provoking. Angelina plays a wealthy socialite who attends a social faction against AIDS when hunky doctor Clive Owen drops by with a malnourished African kid and a tirade about how bad the kid's life is. This encourages Jolie to ship off to Africa, where she helps Owen give aid to those less fortunate. Also, she gets some hot doctor sex, obviously. She goes to Cambodia five years after that (more hot doctor sex) and finally to Chechenya five years after that (no hot doctor sex here). I'm surprised to learn that Oliver Stone, of all people, was originally slated to direct this corny, faux-epic romance. The topic is right up Stone's alley, but the script is decrepit, hokey bullshit of the first order: predictable to the core, sappy and filled with every device in the book to ensure that we feel some hollow pain for the cardboard cutouts on-screen. Of course Jolie always remains perfectly made up and coiffed despite the fact that she's in some of the dirtiest, poorest regions in the world... and of course there are small children in peril (there's even a CGI malnourished baby that's not much more convincing than Jar-Jar). Jolie and Owen aren't actually too bad (barring the fact they have zero chemistry together) and there's one scene involving a grenade that (if only for a brief moment) actually caught my attention... but the filmmakers would've been better off giving the 35 million budget straight to UNICEF.

West Side Story (1961) ***1/2

Gang warfare and ballet don't go together, but this movie tries anyway. Far from being the end-all classic musical it is billed as, West Side Story remains a fairly entertaining musical. The film is set in New York, where two gangs duke it out because... that's what gangs do. Things blow up when a member of the Jets, Tony (Richard Beymer) falls in love with the sister of the Sharks' leader (George Chakiris), Maria (Natalie Wood). It's not always easy to buy the film's golly-gee-whiz hoodlums or their triple-lutzing brawls; the film has its share of ridiculous scenes but it picks up whenever there's a song. The choreography of these scenes is often amazing... but the film has a few too many slow, tender songs that bring the film to a grinding halt. Speaking of which, the leads have little chemistry and their story is only mildly involving; thankfully the supporting cast are much more alive and interesting (if you forget the fact that most of the so-called tough guys look a lot like Moe from the Simpsons). It's certainly no Singin' in the Rain (few films are, musical or not) but it sure as hell beats The Sound of Music as far as venerable classic musicals go.

21 Grams (2003) ****

Inarritu's follow-up to his intense debut Amores Perros shares many similarities with the previous film: they have the same chopped-up narrative, the same gritty visual style and both films have a car accident as their center. But where Amores Perros had brutal shifts in tone, 21 Grams has none. This is brutal and depressing the whole way through. Benicio Del Toro plays a reformed criminal / born-again Christian who accidentally runs over a man (Danny Huston) and his two daughters, sending the man's wife (Naomi Watts) back in a downward spiral of drugs until she meets the man who got her husband's heart (Sean Penn), a sickly math teacher who is intent on meeting the wife of the man who saved his life. Inarritu uses the same fractured chronology as he did in Amores Perros to tell a story that doesn't necessarily require it; the story eventually loses momentum because of its storytelling, which goes over some elements more than once when the elements don't necessarily need it. In spite of this, the film is gritty and raw, an actor's workshop if I ever saw one that draws fantastic performances from the leads. It comes mighty close to head-exploding, student-film pretention at times but fortunately the film is intelligent enough to avoid wallowing in self pity. We have a wonderful talent emerging in Inarritu; now he only has to prove that he can make a movie without chopping it up in any order.

The Big Sleep (1946) ****1/2

Is there really an actor that's more effortlessly, unconciously cool than Bogart? Here he is at his apex, really, as the famous private eye Phillip Marlowe. Marlowe is summoned by a dying general to tie up some loose ends concerning his family - loose ends that all point to a man named Sean Regan, who has disappeared, taking with him an eminent mobster's wife. Soon, people start dropping like flies and Marlowe discovers that there may be more (a lot more) to the story than it may seem. Not to mention that Vivian, the general's daughter (played, of course, by Lauren Bacall) has taken a liking to Marlowe... and he's not saying know. The plot is ridiculously, deliciously complicated; it's common Hollywood folklore that no one actually knew who killed certain characters... but the script is really more than just a lot of plot twists. The dialogue is terrific; this is by far the most quotable of the film noirs I've seen. Bogart is the epitome of Bogartness here; he is, of course, paired with Bacall and they pretty much make sparks. The plot does get a little too contrived at times, but otherwise this is top-flight stuff.

Something's Gotta Give

Something's Gotta Give (2003) **

I don't know who exactly the producers were targeting with this anemic romantic comedy; younger viewers will undeniably be grossed out by the idea that old people have sex and older viewers certainly won't connect with these wrinkly characters stuck in perpetual adolescence. For what it's worth, Jack Nicholson plays a hip-hop producer (in the first of the countless absurd claims this movie makes) who suffers a heart attack in the Hamptons home of his 30-year-old squeeze (Amanda Peet). His doctor (Keanu Reeves, absurd claim #2) orders him to rest... and where else can he rest but the Hamptons home, with his girlfriend's writer mother (Diane Keaton), whom Harry cannot stand. Of course, they fall in love... but then Keanu also falls in love with Keaton. And somewhere in this fit Frances McDormand and Jon Favreau (as well as the original Starsky, for some reason). Something's Gotta Give is a colossal waste of talent in front of the camera (as for the back of the camera, Meyers is pretty much her old reliable hack self) backed by a ridiculous screenplay. I don't understand how anyone can believe that people would actually act like this; there are actually TWO scenes in which Nicholson and Keaton flirt using instant messaging. The stars are watchable enough; even Reeves is bearable, but they can't save the screenplay. Nothing can.

Beyond Borders (2003) *1/2

These movies used to be a dime a dozen in the early 90's: a politically conscious, cheaply-made vehicle for a fading (or rising, for that matter) star that gives the illusion that it's actually trying to make a point. It's the kind of movie that dupes casual viewers into thinking that they're actually watching something thought-provoking. Angelina plays a wealthy socialite who attends a social faction against AIDS when hunky doctor Clive Owen drops by with a malnourished African kid and a tirade about how bad the kid's life is. This encourages Jolie to ship off to Africa, where she helps Owen give aid to those less fortunate. Also, she gets some hot doctor sex, obviously. She goes to Cambodia five years after that (more hot doctor sex) and finally to Chechenya five years after that (no hot doctor sex here). I'm surprised to learn that Oliver Stone, of all people, was originally slated to direct this corny, faux-epic romance. The topic is right up Stone's alley, but the script is decrepit, hokey bullshit of the first order: predictable to the core, sappy and filled with every device in the book to ensure that we feel some hollow pain for the cardboard cutouts on-screen. Of course Jolie always remains perfectly made up and coiffed despite the fact that she's in some of the dirtiest, poorest regions in the world... and of course there are small children in peril (there's even a CGI malnourished baby that's not much more convincing than Jar-Jar). Jolie and Owen aren't actually too bad (barring the fact they have zero chemistry together) and there's one scene involving a grenade that (if only for a brief moment) actually caught my attention... but the filmmakers would've been better off giving the 35 million budget straight to UNICEF.

West Side Story (1961) ***1/2

Gang warfare and ballet don't go together, but this movie tries anyway. Far from being the end-all classic musical it is billed as, West Side Story remains a fairly entertaining musical. The film is set in New York, where two gangs duke it out because... that's what gangs do. Things blow up when a member of the Jets, Tony (Richard Beymer) falls in love with the sister of the Sharks' leader (George Chakiris), Maria (Natalie Wood). It's not always easy to buy the film's golly-gee-whiz hoodlums or their triple-lutzing brawls; the film has its share of ridiculous scenes but it picks up whenever there's a song. The choreography of these scenes is often amazing... but the film has a few too many slow, tender songs that bring the film to a grinding halt. Speaking of which, the leads have little chemistry and their story is only mildly involving; thankfully the supporting cast are much more alive and interesting (if you forget the fact that most of the so-called tough guys look a lot like Moe from the Simpsons). It's certainly no Singin' in the Rain (few films are, musical or not) but it sure as hell beats The Sound of Music as far as venerable classic musicals go.

21 Grams (2003) ****

Inarritu's follow-up to his intense debut Amores Perros shares many similarities with the previous film: they have the same chopped-up narrative, the same gritty visual style and both films have a car accident as their center. But where Amores Perros had brutal shifts in tone, 21 Grams has none. This is brutal and depressing the whole way through. Benicio Del Toro plays a reformed criminal / born-again Christian who accidentally runs over a man (Danny Huston) and his two daughters, sending the man's wife (Naomi Watts) back in a downward spiral of drugs until she meets the man who got her husband's heart (Sean Penn), a sickly math teacher who is intent on meeting the wife of the man who saved his life. Inarritu uses the same fractured chronology as he did in Amores Perros to tell a story that doesn't necessarily require it; the story eventually loses momentum because of its storytelling, which goes over some elements more than once when the elements don't necessarily need it. In spite of this, the film is gritty and raw, an actor's workshop if I ever saw one that draws fantastic performances from the leads. It comes mighty close to head-exploding, student-film pretention at times but fortunately the film is intelligent enough to avoid wallowing in self pity. We have a wonderful talent emerging in Inarritu; now he only has to prove that he can make a movie without chopping it up in any order.

The Big Sleep (1946) ****1/2

Is there really an actor that's more effortlessly, unconciously cool than Bogart? Here he is at his apex, really, as the famous private eye Phillip Marlowe. Marlowe is summoned by a dying general to tie up some loose ends concerning his family - loose ends that all point to a man named Sean Regan, who has disappeared, taking with him an eminent mobster's wife. Soon, people start dropping like flies and Marlowe discovers that there may be more (a lot more) to the story than it may seem. Not to mention that Vivian, the general's daughter (played, of course, by Lauren Bacall) has taken a liking to Marlowe... and he's not saying know. The plot is ridiculously, deliciously complicated; it's common Hollywood folklore that no one actually knew who killed certain characters... but the script is really more than just a lot of plot twists. The dialogue is terrific; this is by far the most quotable of the film noirs I've seen. Bogart is the epitome of Bogartness here; he is, of course, paired with Bacall and they pretty much make sparks. The plot does get a little too contrived at times, but otherwise this is top-flight stuff.

House of Sand and Fog

House of Sand and Fog (2003) ****

On paper this seems like total Oscar bait: two quality (if not exactly bankable) leads, hoity-toity literary pedigree and a relatively low-key story. Needless to say, it did rack up a couple of Oscar nominations... but this isn't quite as expendable as other films of its type. Jennifer Connelly plays a woman whose house is repossessed and rebought by an Iranian immigrant (Ben Kingsley) and his family (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Jonathan Ahdout), who plan to re-sell the house to make a huge profit. Desperate to get her house back, she gets the help of a police officer (Ron Eldard) to try and win the house back at any cost. It's rare to see a film that's completely non-objective; even the best films ever made can often be guilty of taking sides. But House of Sand & Fog does not judge its characters, nor does it try to put any of them in the right or wrong. It hits a grey area that few films tend to venture into. The cast plays it to perfection (minus Eldard, who always sucks anyway) and the sparse direction complements the film; the only blemish is the almost-constant presence of the overbearing score which absolutely destroys some moments.

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) ***1/2

Russell Crowe continues his quest to star in every type of epic movie with this exciting, technically astounding "boat movie". Crowe plays Jack Aubrey, the British captain of a frigate called the HMS Surprise who is determined to find and sink a huge French vessel, the Acheron. That's pretty much the extent of what happens in the film; oh, yeah, at one point, the crew brings wounded doctor Paul Bettany on land to study bugs and turtles and stuff. Despite the fact that not much happens, Master & Commander is still an exciting film, showcasing some of the best naval battles I've ever seen. My biggest gripe with the movie comes from the treatment of the secondary characters. There are a hell of a lot of midshipmen and coxswains and whatnot in the movie, and some of them are given subplots, but the characters aren't developed enough to make us truly care. Truth is, they all pretty much look alike under the layers of grime, so when one of them is injured or whatnot, you don't exactly know which one it is... and you don't really care. Still, from a technical standpoint the film is absolutely amazing, and Crowe is his usual self. The film plays it safe to a point, but it's an old-fashioned epic and they all do that. The best way to describe it, I suppose, is "solid".

Runaway Jury (2003) **1/2

Another Grisham film, another top-notch cast... another two hours of dead air. Dustin Hoffman is a lawyer taking on a gun company against Bruce Davison, who himself is a tool used by jury consultant Gene Hackman. We follow the jury selection process, which eventually contains a young man named Nicholas Easter (John Cusack)... who, it turns out, has a hidden agenda (because, don't they always have a hidden agenda). The film manages to be mind-bogglingly complicated AND laughably simplistic at the same time; after about half an hour I gave up trying to understand what the hell was going on and simply tried to follow who was who. That turns out to be pretty easy with a cast like this one: in addition to Cusack, Hackman, Hoffman and Davison, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Piven, Cliff Curtis, Leland Orser, Jennifer Beals, Joanna Going, Bruce McGill, Bill Nunn, Marguerite Moreau, Nora Dunn, Guy Torry, Rusty Schwimmer and Orlando Jones also appear, and there are unbilled turns by Luis Guzman and Dylan McDermott. This fine ensemble is really the only reason why anyone would want to check out Runaway Jury, I think. The director attemps to inject some suspense with fast cutting but it becomes so frenetic and random that suspense begins to turn into confusion and/or rage. Much was made of the fact that Hoffman and Hackman were in their first film together; needless to say, the film's best moment comes in their brief bathroom encounter. It's not quite Pacino and DeNiro in Heat, but it'll do. If you're a fan of the actors (and with a cast like that, who isn't?) you might want to check it out. I'm not saying you'll like it, though.

My Own Private Idaho (1991) ***1/2

Gus Van Sant really does accomplish the impossible here; he manages to get a good performance out of Keanu Reeves. Oh, and the movie is decent, too. River Phoenix plays a narcoleptic gigolo in downtown Portland who hangs out with the town's riff-raff and falls in love with the son's mayor (Keanu Reeves), himself a gigolo. The film takes an interesting turn by giving the film Shakespearan tones in storytelling and dialogue. The result is an interesting film that suffers only from its plot (or lack thereof). The film is beautifully crafted, well-acted... but there isn't much happening here. Still, any movie that features a good Keanu Reeves performance deserves to be seen. I don't have much more to say about; it's one of THOSE movies.

Little Buddha (1993) *1/2

Baby's First Historical Epic. Mind-numbingly inane, simplistic retelling of the story of Buddha runs two parallel storylines: in the first one, monks think they have found the reincarnation of a dead lama in the person of a young American child. In the second, we follow the story of buddhism throught the life of Prince Siddhartha (Keanu Reeves). Good intentions abound, but Bertolucci seems to be making a movie aimed at very small, particularly dumb children. He seems to think that the viewer needs his hand held constantly. For example, to show the contrast between the two stories, the cinematography changes color. Not subtly. The Seattle scenes are so blue that everyone looks like a Smurf and pretty much every other color is zonked out of existance. Consequently, the Siddhartha segment has bright orange cinematography so that Bertolucci can be ABSOLUTELY sure that we make the difference between the two worlds. Add to this a simplistic script (in which all of the characters, even the Tibetan schoolchildren, speak English), mostly awful performances from the cast (Keanu Reeves is pathetic) and a ridiculously slow pace coupled with the fact that Bertolucci has already done this movie better in 1987 with The Last Emperor and you've got a definitive must-miss.

My Own Private Idaho
½

House of Sand and Fog (2003) ****

On paper this seems like total Oscar bait: two quality (if not exactly bankable) leads, hoity-toity literary pedigree and a relatively low-key story. Needless to say, it did rack up a couple of Oscar nominations... but this isn't quite as expendable as other films of its type. Jennifer Connelly plays a woman whose house is repossessed and rebought by an Iranian immigrant (Ben Kingsley) and his family (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Jonathan Ahdout), who plan to re-sell the house to make a huge profit. Desperate to get her house back, she gets the help of a police officer (Ron Eldard) to try and win the house back at any cost. It's rare to see a film that's completely non-objective; even the best films ever made can often be guilty of taking sides. But House of Sand & Fog does not judge its characters, nor does it try to put any of them in the right or wrong. It hits a grey area that few films tend to venture into. The cast plays it to perfection (minus Eldard, who always sucks anyway) and the sparse direction complements the film; the only blemish is the almost-constant presence of the overbearing score which absolutely destroys some moments.

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) ***1/2

Russell Crowe continues his quest to star in every type of epic movie with this exciting, technically astounding "boat movie". Crowe plays Jack Aubrey, the British captain of a frigate called the HMS Surprise who is determined to find and sink a huge French vessel, the Acheron. That's pretty much the extent of what happens in the film; oh, yeah, at one point, the crew brings wounded doctor Paul Bettany on land to study bugs and turtles and stuff. Despite the fact that not much happens, Master & Commander is still an exciting film, showcasing some of the best naval battles I've ever seen. My biggest gripe with the movie comes from the treatment of the secondary characters. There are a hell of a lot of midshipmen and coxswains and whatnot in the movie, and some of them are given subplots, but the characters aren't developed enough to make us truly care. Truth is, they all pretty much look alike under the layers of grime, so when one of them is injured or whatnot, you don't exactly know which one it is... and you don't really care. Still, from a technical standpoint the film is absolutely amazing, and Crowe is his usual self. The film plays it safe to a point, but it's an old-fashioned epic and they all do that. The best way to describe it, I suppose, is "solid".

Runaway Jury (2003) **1/2

Another Grisham film, another top-notch cast... another two hours of dead air. Dustin Hoffman is a lawyer taking on a gun company against Bruce Davison, who himself is a tool used by jury consultant Gene Hackman. We follow the jury selection process, which eventually contains a young man named Nicholas Easter (John Cusack)... who, it turns out, has a hidden agenda (because, don't they always have a hidden agenda). The film manages to be mind-bogglingly complicated AND laughably simplistic at the same time; after about half an hour I gave up trying to understand what the hell was going on and simply tried to follow who was who. That turns out to be pretty easy with a cast like this one: in addition to Cusack, Hackman, Hoffman and Davison, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Piven, Cliff Curtis, Leland Orser, Jennifer Beals, Joanna Going, Bruce McGill, Bill Nunn, Marguerite Moreau, Nora Dunn, Guy Torry, Rusty Schwimmer and Orlando Jones also appear, and there are unbilled turns by Luis Guzman and Dylan McDermott. This fine ensemble is really the only reason why anyone would want to check out Runaway Jury, I think. The director attemps to inject some suspense with fast cutting but it becomes so frenetic and random that suspense begins to turn into confusion and/or rage. Much was made of the fact that Hoffman and Hackman were in their first film together; needless to say, the film's best moment comes in their brief bathroom encounter. It's not quite Pacino and DeNiro in Heat, but it'll do. If you're a fan of the actors (and with a cast like that, who isn't?) you might want to check it out. I'm not saying you'll like it, though.

My Own Private Idaho (1991) ***1/2

Gus Van Sant really does accomplish the impossible here; he manages to get a good performance out of Keanu Reeves. Oh, and the movie is decent, too. River Phoenix plays a narcoleptic gigolo in downtown Portland who hangs out with the town's riff-raff and falls in love with the son's mayor (Keanu Reeves), himself a gigolo. The film takes an interesting turn by giving the film Shakespearan tones in storytelling and dialogue. The result is an interesting film that suffers only from its plot (or lack thereof). The film is beautifully crafted, well-acted... but there isn't much happening here. Still, any movie that features a good Keanu Reeves performance deserves to be seen. I don't have much more to say about; it's one of THOSE movies.

Little Buddha (1993) *1/2

Baby's First Historical Epic. Mind-numbingly inane, simplistic retelling of the story of Buddha runs two parallel storylines: in the first one, monks think they have found the reincarnation of a dead lama in the person of a young American child. In the second, we follow the story of buddhism throught the life of Prince Siddhartha (Keanu Reeves). Good intentions abound, but Bertolucci seems to be making a movie aimed at very small, particularly dumb children. He seems to think that the viewer needs his hand held constantly. For example, to show the contrast between the two stories, the cinematography changes color. Not subtly. The Seattle scenes are so blue that everyone looks like a Smurf and pretty much every other color is zonked out of existance. Consequently, the Siddhartha segment has bright orange cinematography so that Bertolucci can be ABSOLUTELY sure that we make the difference between the two worlds. Add to this a simplistic script (in which all of the characters, even the Tibetan schoolchildren, speak English), mostly awful performances from the cast (Keanu Reeves is pathetic) and a ridiculously slow pace coupled with the fact that Bertolucci has already done this movie better in 1987 with The Last Emperor and you've got a definitive must-miss.

Runaway Jury
Runaway Jury(2003)
½

House of Sand and Fog (2003) ****

On paper this seems like total Oscar bait: two quality (if not exactly bankable) leads, hoity-toity literary pedigree and a relatively low-key story. Needless to say, it did rack up a couple of Oscar nominations... but this isn't quite as expendable as other films of its type. Jennifer Connelly plays a woman whose house is repossessed and rebought by an Iranian immigrant (Ben Kingsley) and his family (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Jonathan Ahdout), who plan to re-sell the house to make a huge profit. Desperate to get her house back, she gets the help of a police officer (Ron Eldard) to try and win the house back at any cost. It's rare to see a film that's completely non-objective; even the best films ever made can often be guilty of taking sides. But House of Sand & Fog does not judge its characters, nor does it try to put any of them in the right or wrong. It hits a grey area that few films tend to venture into. The cast plays it to perfection (minus Eldard, who always sucks anyway) and the sparse direction complements the film; the only blemish is the almost-constant presence of the overbearing score which absolutely destroys some moments.

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) ***1/2

Russell Crowe continues his quest to star in every type of epic movie with this exciting, technically astounding "boat movie". Crowe plays Jack Aubrey, the British captain of a frigate called the HMS Surprise who is determined to find and sink a huge French vessel, the Acheron. That's pretty much the extent of what happens in the film; oh, yeah, at one point, the crew brings wounded doctor Paul Bettany on land to study bugs and turtles and stuff. Despite the fact that not much happens, Master & Commander is still an exciting film, showcasing some of the best naval battles I've ever seen. My biggest gripe with the movie comes from the treatment of the secondary characters. There are a hell of a lot of midshipmen and coxswains and whatnot in the movie, and some of them are given subplots, but the characters aren't developed enough to make us truly care. Truth is, they all pretty much look alike under the layers of grime, so when one of them is injured or whatnot, you don't exactly know which one it is... and you don't really care. Still, from a technical standpoint the film is absolutely amazing, and Crowe is his usual self. The film plays it safe to a point, but it's an old-fashioned epic and they all do that. The best way to describe it, I suppose, is "solid".

Runaway Jury (2003) **1/2

Another Grisham film, another top-notch cast... another two hours of dead air. Dustin Hoffman is a lawyer taking on a gun company against Bruce Davison, who himself is a tool used by jury consultant Gene Hackman. We follow the jury selection process, which eventually contains a young man named Nicholas Easter (John Cusack)... who, it turns out, has a hidden agenda (because, don't they always have a hidden agenda). The film manages to be mind-bogglingly complicated AND laughably simplistic at the same time; after about half an hour I gave up trying to understand what the hell was going on and simply tried to follow who was who. That turns out to be pretty easy with a cast like this one: in addition to Cusack, Hackman, Hoffman and Davison, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Piven, Cliff Curtis, Leland Orser, Jennifer Beals, Joanna Going, Bruce McGill, Bill Nunn, Marguerite Moreau, Nora Dunn, Guy Torry, Rusty Schwimmer and Orlando Jones also appear, and there are unbilled turns by Luis Guzman and Dylan McDermott. This fine ensemble is really the only reason why anyone would want to check out Runaway Jury, I think. The director attemps to inject some suspense with fast cutting but it becomes so frenetic and random that suspense begins to turn into confusion and/or rage. Much was made of the fact that Hoffman and Hackman were in their first film together; needless to say, the film's best moment comes in their brief bathroom encounter. It's not quite Pacino and DeNiro in Heat, but it'll do. If you're a fan of the actors (and with a cast like that, who isn't?) you might want to check it out. I'm not saying you'll like it, though.

My Own Private Idaho (1991) ***1/2

Gus Van Sant really does accomplish the impossible here; he manages to get a good performance out of Keanu Reeves. Oh, and the movie is decent, too. River Phoenix plays a narcoleptic gigolo in downtown Portland who hangs out with the town's riff-raff and falls in love with the son's mayor (Keanu Reeves), himself a gigolo. The film takes an interesting turn by giving the film Shakespearan tones in storytelling and dialogue. The result is an interesting film that suffers only from its plot (or lack thereof). The film is beautifully crafted, well-acted... but there isn't much happening here. Still, any movie that features a good Keanu Reeves performance deserves to be seen. I don't have much more to say about; it's one of THOSE movies.

Little Buddha (1993) *1/2

Baby's First Historical Epic. Mind-numbingly inane, simplistic retelling of the story of Buddha runs two parallel storylines: in the first one, monks think they have found the reincarnation of a dead lama in the person of a young American child. In the second, we follow the story of buddhism throught the life of Prince Siddhartha (Keanu Reeves). Good intentions abound, but Bertolucci seems to be making a movie aimed at very small, particularly dumb children. He seems to think that the viewer needs his hand held constantly. For example, to show the contrast between the two stories, the cinematography changes color. Not subtly. The Seattle scenes are so blue that everyone looks like a Smurf and pretty much every other color is zonked out of existance. Consequently, the Siddhartha segment has bright orange cinematography so that Bertolucci can be ABSOLUTELY sure that we make the difference between the two worlds. Add to this a simplistic script (in which all of the characters, even the Tibetan schoolchildren, speak English), mostly awful performances from the cast (Keanu Reeves is pathetic) and a ridiculously slow pace coupled with the fact that Bertolucci has already done this movie better in 1987 with The Last Emperor and you've got a definitive must-miss.

Little Buddha
½

House of Sand and Fog (2003) ****

On paper this seems like total Oscar bait: two quality (if not exactly bankable) leads, hoity-toity literary pedigree and a relatively low-key story. Needless to say, it did rack up a couple of Oscar nominations... but this isn't quite as expendable as other films of its type. Jennifer Connelly plays a woman whose house is repossessed and rebought by an Iranian immigrant (Ben Kingsley) and his family (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Jonathan Ahdout), who plan to re-sell the house to make a huge profit. Desperate to get her house back, she gets the help of a police officer (Ron Eldard) to try and win the house back at any cost. It's rare to see a film that's completely non-objective; even the best films ever made can often be guilty of taking sides. But House of Sand & Fog does not judge its characters, nor does it try to put any of them in the right or wrong. It hits a grey area that few films tend to venture into. The cast plays it to perfection (minus Eldard, who always sucks anyway) and the sparse direction complements the film; the only blemish is the almost-constant presence of the overbearing score which absolutely destroys some moments.

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) ***1/2

Russell Crowe continues his quest to star in every type of epic movie with this exciting, technically astounding "boat movie". Crowe plays Jack Aubrey, the British captain of a frigate called the HMS Surprise who is determined to find and sink a huge French vessel, the Acheron. That's pretty much the extent of what happens in the film; oh, yeah, at one point, the crew brings wounded doctor Paul Bettany on land to study bugs and turtles and stuff. Despite the fact that not much happens, Master & Commander is still an exciting film, showcasing some of the best naval battles I've ever seen. My biggest gripe with the movie comes from the treatment of the secondary characters. There are a hell of a lot of midshipmen and coxswains and whatnot in the movie, and some of them are given subplots, but the characters aren't developed enough to make us truly care. Truth is, they all pretty much look alike under the layers of grime, so when one of them is injured or whatnot, you don't exactly know which one it is... and you don't really care. Still, from a technical standpoint the film is absolutely amazing, and Crowe is his usual self. The film plays it safe to a point, but it's an old-fashioned epic and they all do that. The best way to describe it, I suppose, is "solid".

Runaway Jury (2003) **1/2

Another Grisham film, another top-notch cast... another two hours of dead air. Dustin Hoffman is a lawyer taking on a gun company against Bruce Davison, who himself is a tool used by jury consultant Gene Hackman. We follow the jury selection process, which eventually contains a young man named Nicholas Easter (John Cusack)... who, it turns out, has a hidden agenda (because, don't they always have a hidden agenda). The film manages to be mind-bogglingly complicated AND laughably simplistic at the same time; after about half an hour I gave up trying to understand what the hell was going on and simply tried to follow who was who. That turns out to be pretty easy with a cast like this one: in addition to Cusack, Hackman, Hoffman and Davison, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Piven, Cliff Curtis, Leland Orser, Jennifer Beals, Joanna Going, Bruce McGill, Bill Nunn, Marguerite Moreau, Nora Dunn, Guy Torry, Rusty Schwimmer and Orlando Jones also appear, and there are unbilled turns by Luis Guzman and Dylan McDermott. This fine ensemble is really the only reason why anyone would want to check out Runaway Jury, I think. The director attemps to inject some suspense with fast cutting but it becomes so frenetic and random that suspense begins to turn into confusion and/or rage. Much was made of the fact that Hoffman and Hackman were in their first film together; needless to say, the film's best moment comes in their brief bathroom encounter. It's not quite Pacino and DeNiro in Heat, but it'll do. If you're a fan of the actors (and with a cast like that, who isn't?) you might want to check it out. I'm not saying you'll like it, though.

My Own Private Idaho (1991) ***1/2

Gus Van Sant really does accomplish the impossible here; he manages to get a good performance out of Keanu Reeves. Oh, and the movie is decent, too. River Phoenix plays a narcoleptic gigolo in downtown Portland who hangs out with the town's riff-raff and falls in love with the son's mayor (Keanu Reeves), himself a gigolo. The film takes an interesting turn by giving the film Shakespearan tones in storytelling and dialogue. The result is an interesting film that suffers only from its plot (or lack thereof). The film is beautifully crafted, well-acted... but there isn't much happening here. Still, any movie that features a good Keanu Reeves performance deserves to be seen. I don't have much more to say about; it's one of THOSE movies.

Little Buddha (1993) *1/2

Baby's First Historical Epic. Mind-numbingly inane, simplistic retelling of the story of Buddha runs two parallel storylines: in the first one, monks think they have found the reincarnation of a dead lama in the person of a young American child. In the second, we follow the story of buddhism throught the life of Prince Siddhartha (Keanu Reeves). Good intentions abound, but Bertolucci seems to be making a movie aimed at very small, particularly dumb children. He seems to think that the viewer needs his hand held constantly. For example, to show the contrast between the two stories, the cinematography changes color. Not subtly. The Seattle scenes are so blue that everyone looks like a Smurf and pretty much every other color is zonked out of existance. Consequently, the Siddhartha segment has bright orange cinematography so that Bertolucci can be ABSOLUTELY sure that we make the difference between the two worlds. Add to this a simplistic script (in which all of the characters, even the Tibetan schoolchildren, speak English), mostly awful performances from the cast (Keanu Reeves is pathetic) and a ridiculously slow pace coupled with the fact that Bertolucci has already done this movie better in 1987 with The Last Emperor and you've got a definitive must-miss.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
½

House of Sand and Fog (2003) ****

On paper this seems like total Oscar bait: two quality (if not exactly bankable) leads, hoity-toity literary pedigree and a relatively low-key story. Needless to say, it did rack up a couple of Oscar nominations... but this isn't quite as expendable as other films of its type. Jennifer Connelly plays a woman whose house is repossessed and rebought by an Iranian immigrant (Ben Kingsley) and his family (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Jonathan Ahdout), who plan to re-sell the house to make a huge profit. Desperate to get her house back, she gets the help of a police officer (Ron Eldard) to try and win the house back at any cost. It's rare to see a film that's completely non-objective; even the best films ever made can often be guilty of taking sides. But House of Sand & Fog does not judge its characters, nor does it try to put any of them in the right or wrong. It hits a grey area that few films tend to venture into. The cast plays it to perfection (minus Eldard, who always sucks anyway) and the sparse direction complements the film; the only blemish is the almost-constant presence of the overbearing score which absolutely destroys some moments.

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) ***1/2

Russell Crowe continues his quest to star in every type of epic movie with this exciting, technically astounding "boat movie". Crowe plays Jack Aubrey, the British captain of a frigate called the HMS Surprise who is determined to find and sink a huge French vessel, the Acheron. That's pretty much the extent of what happens in the film; oh, yeah, at one point, the crew brings wounded doctor Paul Bettany on land to study bugs and turtles and stuff. Despite the fact that not much happens, Master & Commander is still an exciting film, showcasing some of the best naval battles I've ever seen. My biggest gripe with the movie comes from the treatment of the secondary characters. There are a hell of a lot of midshipmen and coxswains and whatnot in the movie, and some of them are given subplots, but the characters aren't developed enough to make us truly care. Truth is, they all pretty much look alike under the layers of grime, so when one of them is injured or whatnot, you don't exactly know which one it is... and you don't really care. Still, from a technical standpoint the film is absolutely amazing, and Crowe is his usual self. The film plays it safe to a point, but it's an old-fashioned epic and they all do that. The best way to describe it, I suppose, is "solid".

Runaway Jury (2003) **1/2

Another Grisham film, another top-notch cast... another two hours of dead air. Dustin Hoffman is a lawyer taking on a gun company against Bruce Davison, who himself is a tool used by jury consultant Gene Hackman. We follow the jury selection process, which eventually contains a young man named Nicholas Easter (John Cusack)... who, it turns out, has a hidden agenda (because, don't they always have a hidden agenda). The film manages to be mind-bogglingly complicated AND laughably simplistic at the same time; after about half an hour I gave up trying to understand what the hell was going on and simply tried to follow who was who. That turns out to be pretty easy with a cast like this one: in addition to Cusack, Hackman, Hoffman and Davison, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Piven, Cliff Curtis, Leland Orser, Jennifer Beals, Joanna Going, Bruce McGill, Bill Nunn, Marguerite Moreau, Nora Dunn, Guy Torry, Rusty Schwimmer and Orlando Jones also appear, and there are unbilled turns by Luis Guzman and Dylan McDermott. This fine ensemble is really the only reason why anyone would want to check out Runaway Jury, I think. The director attemps to inject some suspense with fast cutting but it becomes so frenetic and random that suspense begins to turn into confusion and/or rage. Much was made of the fact that Hoffman and Hackman were in their first film together; needless to say, the film's best moment comes in their brief bathroom encounter. It's not quite Pacino and DeNiro in Heat, but it'll do. If you're a fan of the actors (and with a cast like that, who isn't?) you might want to check it out. I'm not saying you'll like it, though.

My Own Private Idaho (1991) ***1/2

Gus Van Sant really does accomplish the impossible here; he manages to get a good performance out of Keanu Reeves. Oh, and the movie is decent, too. River Phoenix plays a narcoleptic gigolo in downtown Portland who hangs out with the town's riff-raff and falls in love with the son's mayor (Keanu Reeves), himself a gigolo. The film takes an interesting turn by giving the film Shakespearan tones in storytelling and dialogue. The result is an interesting film that suffers only from its plot (or lack thereof). The film is beautifully crafted, well-acted... but there isn't much happening here. Still, any movie that features a good Keanu Reeves performance deserves to be seen. I don't have much more to say about; it's one of THOSE movies.

Little Buddha (1993) *1/2

Baby's First Historical Epic. Mind-numbingly inane, simplistic retelling of the story of Buddha runs two parallel storylines: in the first one, monks think they have found the reincarnation of a dead lama in the person of a young American child. In the second, we follow the story of buddhism throught the life of Prince Siddhartha (Keanu Reeves). Good intentions abound, but Bertolucci seems to be making a movie aimed at very small, particularly dumb children. He seems to think that the viewer needs his hand held constantly. For example, to show the contrast between the two stories, the cinematography changes color. Not subtly. The Seattle scenes are so blue that everyone looks like a Smurf and pretty much every other color is zonked out of existance. Consequently, the Siddhartha segment has bright orange cinematography so that Bertolucci can be ABSOLUTELY sure that we make the difference between the two worlds. Add to this a simplistic script (in which all of the characters, even the Tibetan schoolchildren, speak English), mostly awful performances from the cast (Keanu Reeves is pathetic) and a ridiculously slow pace coupled with the fact that Bertolucci has already done this movie better in 1987 with The Last Emperor and you've got a definitive must-miss.

Thirteen
Thirteen(2003)

For some reason I stopped posting reviews up here a while ago, so I'm gonna start again. These are old as hell, btw.

Mars Attacks (1996) **

When I first saw this movie in 1996, I hated it. I was a kid, and I thought it was one of the worst movies I'd ever seen. I saw it again now, a slightly older kid... and I still think it sucks, although now I understand WHY it sucks. Based on a series of trading cards, Mars Attacks features Jack Nicholson as the President of the United States who gets wind of an upcoming visit to Earth by the Martians; they come in peace, but due to a misunderstanding, they instead decide to wipe out the human race. It's meant as a sort of homage/parody of the Mars-invaders subgenre of the 50's, and visually, it pulls this off. As far as laughs or originality goes, well, better luck next time. The film obviously relies on its gargantuan cast to run free with the material, but it soon becomes a tired game of Kill-the-Celeb. Still, when you put Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones (the one and only), Jim Brown, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Pam Grier, Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney, Jack Black, Joe Don Baker and Paul Winfield in one movie, you're bound to have at least a couple of moments. These are too few and far between to ever make the movie more than that: an endless series of cameos and bad jokes that could not have been funny to anyone except to a writer who, tellingly, only did a small film since.

Kill Bill: Vol 2 (2004) ****1/2

In many ways, I think that this one is a lot more Tarantino-esque than the first one. It's a more atypical film but it's also a more rewarding film than the first volume (which, mind you, I loved). So, when we left off the Bride at the end of Volume 1, she had gone Krakatoa on both O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green; this leaves hillbilly strip-lcub bouncer Budd (Michael Madsen), one-eyed, cold-hearted bitch Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah) and of course, Bill (David Carradine). Predictably, The Bride doesn't get it too easy; she's buried alive, beaten repeatedly, shot in the chest with rock salt, cut, punched, kicked, slapped and maimed in pretty much any way you can imagine. There's a lot less action this time around, but we ARE treated to a great scene where The Bride is trained by martial-arts hardass Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). Tarantino's famous dialogue is a lot more present here, as well. The acting is exemplary all around, with Carradine superb as the titular Bill. I have trouble writing down my thoughts about Tarantino films, because... there truly is no writing that can do them justice. Tarantino makes such vivid, visceral films that they really do speak for themselves.

A Walk In The Clouds (1995) ***

This is one of those movies that people refer to when they say something happens 'just like in the movies'. Every single damn thing that happens in this movie is predictable... oddly enough, this ends up being one of the film's biggest assets. Keanu Reeves plays a young man just in from the war who goes off to "find himself". He proceeds to 'meet cute' about 12 times with a young woman named Victoria (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) who reveals to him that oen of her professors has gotten her pregnant and that her father (Giancarlo Giannini) will not have any of that. He agrees to pass off as her husband for one night and act like he has deserted her... but of course he falls in love with her and her family's vineyard. It's a very, very, very familiar story and it appears there's been no attempt to ever make it anything but; it's an old-fashioned Hollywood romance, complete with scenes of Reeves serenading Sanchez-Gijon by her window and lame, soundstage-shot war flashbacks (actually, flashback, as far as I can tell it's always the same footage). This familiarity actually suits the film to a point... that is, if you can get past Keanu Reeves' jawdroppingly bad performance. I've seen quite a few movies with this guy, and he's rarely any good... but this is possibly the worst I've ever seen him do. He keeps the same expression frozen on his face in every scene and delivers every line in the same flat tone. The rest of the cast does much better, however, and Anthony Quinn positively walks off with the movie as Don Pedro, the patriarch of the Aragon family. It's beautifully shot by director Alfonoso Arau and entertaining enough; I suppose the film's main quality is that it manages to work despite an extremely weak central performance.

Thirteen (2003) **

99 minutes of screeching teenage hypberbole; yay. I'm always on the lookout for a teen film that doesn't trivialize adolescence... but this is the complete opposite. Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is a typical thirteen-year old girl who lives with her hippie-ish hairdresser mother (Holly Hunter) and her brother. After the coolest girl in school makes a crack about her socks, she decides to change her image and befriends said coolest girl, Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed), in one of the most unconvincing let's-be-friends scenes ever. They proceed to become best friends and do literally every rebellious-teenage-girl thing you could possibly think of: shoplifting, dope, snifing paint fumes, cutting, anorexia, random sex, drinking, tattoos, piercings, and probably some more stuff I forgot about. The film was written by 13-year-old Reed... and it shows. It has the overbearing tendency to exaggerate and amplify even the smallest things; it doesn't take too long before the film grows laughable. Not helping is the bipolar direction. The director apparently isn't sure if she's making gritty cinéma-verité (this shows up on screen by the use of hand-held cameras and a nifty, but pointless, progressive color drain) or a freakin' Kyla Rose music video (which shows up on screen with glitzy musical montages set to throwaway pop songs in which the characters are shopping, more often than not). I'll credit where credit is due; the actors are very good. Wood is extraordinary, even. But good actors doing bad material remain good actors doing bad material; Laurence Olivier shaving a monkey would suck regardless.

Matchstick Men (2003) ***1/2

First things first: this is a twist movie. It's also a con movie, and if you've seen one ad for this movie, then you'll probably be able to figure out the twist in half-a-second. Roy (Nicholas Cage) is an obsessive-compulsive con man who works out of his office with his partner Frank (Sam Rockwell), conning old people into overpaying walter filtration systems. Roy gets a new psychiatrist (Bruce Altman) who theorizes that his obsessive-complusive disorder may be traced back to his ex-wife and their child, whom Roy has never seen. That is, until he is reunited with his fourteen-year-old daughter Angela (Alison Lohman, in a breakthrough performance), who desperately wants in on her daddy's business. The plot is pretty standard stuff; the main con itself is a pretty dull money-laundering scheme... but the screenplay wisely puts the emphasis on characters. The father-daughter dynamic, an angle that pretty much every movie in the world has ALSO covered (most notably Paper Moon), is pretty well-explored and works well thanks to a luminous performance by Lohman. Really, the entire film revolves around wether or not you buy into the performances. Cage is overacting (how surprising) and Rockwell is freakin' hilarious (although, not stretching his range much). Ridley Scott's trademark visual flair gives this pleasant but decidedly minor film a boost in the right direction.

Kill Bill: Volume 2
½

For some reason I stopped posting reviews up here a while ago, so I'm gonna start again. These are old as hell, btw.

Mars Attacks (1996) **

When I first saw this movie in 1996, I hated it. I was a kid, and I thought it was one of the worst movies I'd ever seen. I saw it again now, a slightly older kid... and I still think it sucks, although now I understand WHY it sucks. Based on a series of trading cards, Mars Attacks features Jack Nicholson as the President of the United States who gets wind of an upcoming visit to Earth by the Martians; they come in peace, but due to a misunderstanding, they instead decide to wipe out the human race. It's meant as a sort of homage/parody of the Mars-invaders subgenre of the 50's, and visually, it pulls this off. As far as laughs or originality goes, well, better luck next time. The film obviously relies on its gargantuan cast to run free with the material, but it soon becomes a tired game of Kill-the-Celeb. Still, when you put Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones (the one and only), Jim Brown, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Pam Grier, Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney, Jack Black, Joe Don Baker and Paul Winfield in one movie, you're bound to have at least a couple of moments. These are too few and far between to ever make the movie more than that: an endless series of cameos and bad jokes that could not have been funny to anyone except to a writer who, tellingly, only did a small film since.

Kill Bill: Vol 2 (2004) ****1/2

In many ways, I think that this one is a lot more Tarantino-esque than the first one. It's a more atypical film but it's also a more rewarding film than the first volume (which, mind you, I loved). So, when we left off the Bride at the end of Volume 1, she had gone Krakatoa on both O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green; this leaves hillbilly strip-lcub bouncer Budd (Michael Madsen), one-eyed, cold-hearted bitch Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah) and of course, Bill (David Carradine). Predictably, The Bride doesn't get it too easy; she's buried alive, beaten repeatedly, shot in the chest with rock salt, cut, punched, kicked, slapped and maimed in pretty much any way you can imagine. There's a lot less action this time around, but we ARE treated to a great scene where The Bride is trained by martial-arts hardass Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). Tarantino's famous dialogue is a lot more present here, as well. The acting is exemplary all around, with Carradine superb as the titular Bill. I have trouble writing down my thoughts about Tarantino films, because... there truly is no writing that can do them justice. Tarantino makes such vivid, visceral films that they really do speak for themselves.

A Walk In The Clouds (1995) ***

This is one of those movies that people refer to when they say something happens 'just like in the movies'. Every single damn thing that happens in this movie is predictable... oddly enough, this ends up being one of the film's biggest assets. Keanu Reeves plays a young man just in from the war who goes off to "find himself". He proceeds to 'meet cute' about 12 times with a young woman named Victoria (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) who reveals to him that oen of her professors has gotten her pregnant and that her father (Giancarlo Giannini) will not have any of that. He agrees to pass off as her husband for one night and act like he has deserted her... but of course he falls in love with her and her family's vineyard. It's a very, very, very familiar story and it appears there's been no attempt to ever make it anything but; it's an old-fashioned Hollywood romance, complete with scenes of Reeves serenading Sanchez-Gijon by her window and lame, soundstage-shot war flashbacks (actually, flashback, as far as I can tell it's always the same footage). This familiarity actually suits the film to a point... that is, if you can get past Keanu Reeves' jawdroppingly bad performance. I've seen quite a few movies with this guy, and he's rarely any good... but this is possibly the worst I've ever seen him do. He keeps the same expression frozen on his face in every scene and delivers every line in the same flat tone. The rest of the cast does much better, however, and Anthony Quinn positively walks off with the movie as Don Pedro, the patriarch of the Aragon family. It's beautifully shot by director Alfonoso Arau and entertaining enough; I suppose the film's main quality is that it manages to work despite an extremely weak central performance.

Thirteen (2003) **

99 minutes of screeching teenage hypberbole; yay. I'm always on the lookout for a teen film that doesn't trivialize adolescence... but this is the complete opposite. Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is a typical thirteen-year old girl who lives with her hippie-ish hairdresser mother (Holly Hunter) and her brother. After the coolest girl in school makes a crack about her socks, she decides to change her image and befriends said coolest girl, Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed), in one of the most unconvincing let's-be-friends scenes ever. They proceed to become best friends and do literally every rebellious-teenage-girl thing you could possibly think of: shoplifting, dope, snifing paint fumes, cutting, anorexia, random sex, drinking, tattoos, piercings, and probably some more stuff I forgot about. The film was written by 13-year-old Reed... and it shows. It has the overbearing tendency to exaggerate and amplify even the smallest things; it doesn't take too long before the film grows laughable. Not helping is the bipolar direction. The director apparently isn't sure if she's making gritty cinéma-verité (this shows up on screen by the use of hand-held cameras and a nifty, but pointless, progressive color drain) or a freakin' Kyla Rose music video (which shows up on screen with glitzy musical montages set to throwaway pop songs in which the characters are shopping, more often than not). I'll credit where credit is due; the actors are very good. Wood is extraordinary, even. But good actors doing bad material remain good actors doing bad material; Laurence Olivier shaving a monkey would suck regardless.

Matchstick Men (2003) ***1/2

First things first: this is a twist movie. It's also a con movie, and if you've seen one ad for this movie, then you'll probably be able to figure out the twist in half-a-second. Roy (Nicholas Cage) is an obsessive-compulsive con man who works out of his office with his partner Frank (Sam Rockwell), conning old people into overpaying walter filtration systems. Roy gets a new psychiatrist (Bruce Altman) who theorizes that his obsessive-complusive disorder may be traced back to his ex-wife and their child, whom Roy has never seen. That is, until he is reunited with his fourteen-year-old daughter Angela (Alison Lohman, in a breakthrough performance), who desperately wants in on her daddy's business. The plot is pretty standard stuff; the main con itself is a pretty dull money-laundering scheme... but the screenplay wisely puts the emphasis on characters. The father-daughter dynamic, an angle that pretty much every movie in the world has ALSO covered (most notably Paper Moon), is pretty well-explored and works well thanks to a luminous performance by Lohman. Really, the entire film revolves around wether or not you buy into the performances. Cage is overacting (how surprising) and Rockwell is freakin' hilarious (although, not stretching his range much). Ridley Scott's trademark visual flair gives this pleasant but decidedly minor film a boost in the right direction.

A Walk in the Clouds

For some reason I stopped posting reviews up here a while ago, so I'm gonna start again. These are old as hell, btw.

Mars Attacks (1996) **

When I first saw this movie in 1996, I hated it. I was a kid, and I thought it was one of the worst movies I'd ever seen. I saw it again now, a slightly older kid... and I still think it sucks, although now I understand WHY it sucks. Based on a series of trading cards, Mars Attacks features Jack Nicholson as the President of the United States who gets wind of an upcoming visit to Earth by the Martians; they come in peace, but due to a misunderstanding, they instead decide to wipe out the human race. It's meant as a sort of homage/parody of the Mars-invaders subgenre of the 50's, and visually, it pulls this off. As far as laughs or originality goes, well, better luck next time. The film obviously relies on its gargantuan cast to run free with the material, but it soon becomes a tired game of Kill-the-Celeb. Still, when you put Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones (the one and only), Jim Brown, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Pam Grier, Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney, Jack Black, Joe Don Baker and Paul Winfield in one movie, you're bound to have at least a couple of moments. These are too few and far between to ever make the movie more than that: an endless series of cameos and bad jokes that could not have been funny to anyone except to a writer who, tellingly, only did a small film since.

Kill Bill: Vol 2 (2004) ****1/2

In many ways, I think that this one is a lot more Tarantino-esque than the first one. It's a more atypical film but it's also a more rewarding film than the first volume (which, mind you, I loved). So, when we left off the Bride at the end of Volume 1, she had gone Krakatoa on both O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green; this leaves hillbilly strip-lcub bouncer Budd (Michael Madsen), one-eyed, cold-hearted bitch Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah) and of course, Bill (David Carradine). Predictably, The Bride doesn't get it too easy; she's buried alive, beaten repeatedly, shot in the chest with rock salt, cut, punched, kicked, slapped and maimed in pretty much any way you can imagine. There's a lot less action this time around, but we ARE treated to a great scene where The Bride is trained by martial-arts hardass Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). Tarantino's famous dialogue is a lot more present here, as well. The acting is exemplary all around, with Carradine superb as the titular Bill. I have trouble writing down my thoughts about Tarantino films, because... there truly is no writing that can do them justice. Tarantino makes such vivid, visceral films that they really do speak for themselves.

A Walk In The Clouds (1995) ***

This is one of those movies that people refer to when they say something happens 'just like in the movies'. Every single damn thing that happens in this movie is predictable... oddly enough, this ends up being one of the film's biggest assets. Keanu Reeves plays a young man just in from the war who goes off to "find himself". He proceeds to 'meet cute' about 12 times with a young woman named Victoria (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) who reveals to him that oen of her professors has gotten her pregnant and that her father (Giancarlo Giannini) will not have any of that. He agrees to pass off as her husband for one night and act like he has deserted her... but of course he falls in love with her and her family's vineyard. It's a very, very, very familiar story and it appears there's been no attempt to ever make it anything but; it's an old-fashioned Hollywood romance, complete with scenes of Reeves serenading Sanchez-Gijon by her window and lame, soundstage-shot war flashbacks (actually, flashback, as far as I can tell it's always the same footage). This familiarity actually suits the film to a point... that is, if you can get past Keanu Reeves' jawdroppingly bad performance. I've seen quite a few movies with this guy, and he's rarely any good... but this is possibly the worst I've ever seen him do. He keeps the same expression frozen on his face in every scene and delivers every line in the same flat tone. The rest of the cast does much better, however, and Anthony Quinn positively walks off with the movie as Don Pedro, the patriarch of the Aragon family. It's beautifully shot by director Alfonoso Arau and entertaining enough; I suppose the film's main quality is that it manages to work despite an extremely weak central performance.

Thirteen (2003) **

99 minutes of screeching teenage hypberbole; yay. I'm always on the lookout for a teen film that doesn't trivialize adolescence... but this is the complete opposite. Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is a typical thirteen-year old girl who lives with her hippie-ish hairdresser mother (Holly Hunter) and her brother. After the coolest girl in school makes a crack about her socks, she decides to change her image and befriends said coolest girl, Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed), in one of the most unconvincing let's-be-friends scenes ever. They proceed to become best friends and do literally every rebellious-teenage-girl thing you could possibly think of: shoplifting, dope, snifing paint fumes, cutting, anorexia, random sex, drinking, tattoos, piercings, and probably some more stuff I forgot about. The film was written by 13-year-old Reed... and it shows. It has the overbearing tendency to exaggerate and amplify even the smallest things; it doesn't take too long before the film grows laughable. Not helping is the bipolar direction. The director apparently isn't sure if she's making gritty cinéma-verité (this shows up on screen by the use of hand-held cameras and a nifty, but pointless, progressive color drain) or a freakin' Kyla Rose music video (which shows up on screen with glitzy musical montages set to throwaway pop songs in which the characters are shopping, more often than not). I'll credit where credit is due; the actors are very good. Wood is extraordinary, even. But good actors doing bad material remain good actors doing bad material; Laurence Olivier shaving a monkey would suck regardless.

Matchstick Men (2003) ***1/2

First things first: this is a twist movie. It's also a con movie, and if you've seen one ad for this movie, then you'll probably be able to figure out the twist in half-a-second. Roy (Nicholas Cage) is an obsessive-compulsive con man who works out of his office with his partner Frank (Sam Rockwell), conning old people into overpaying walter filtration systems. Roy gets a new psychiatrist (Bruce Altman) who theorizes that his obsessive-complusive disorder may be traced back to his ex-wife and their child, whom Roy has never seen. That is, until he is reunited with his fourteen-year-old daughter Angela (Alison Lohman, in a breakthrough performance), who desperately wants in on her daddy's business. The plot is pretty standard stuff; the main con itself is a pretty dull money-laundering scheme... but the screenplay wisely puts the emphasis on characters. The father-daughter dynamic, an angle that pretty much every movie in the world has ALSO covered (most notably Paper Moon), is pretty well-explored and works well thanks to a luminous performance by Lohman. Really, the entire film revolves around wether or not you buy into the performances. Cage is overacting (how surprising) and Rockwell is freakin' hilarious (although, not stretching his range much). Ridley Scott's trademark visual flair gives this pleasant but decidedly minor film a boost in the right direction.

Matchstick Men
½

For some reason I stopped posting reviews up here a while ago, so I'm gonna start again. These are old as hell, btw.

Mars Attacks (1996) **

When I first saw this movie in 1996, I hated it. I was a kid, and I thought it was one of the worst movies I'd ever seen. I saw it again now, a slightly older kid... and I still think it sucks, although now I understand WHY it sucks. Based on a series of trading cards, Mars Attacks features Jack Nicholson as the President of the United States who gets wind of an upcoming visit to Earth by the Martians; they come in peace, but due to a misunderstanding, they instead decide to wipe out the human race. It's meant as a sort of homage/parody of the Mars-invaders subgenre of the 50's, and visually, it pulls this off. As far as laughs or originality goes, well, better luck next time. The film obviously relies on its gargantuan cast to run free with the material, but it soon becomes a tired game of Kill-the-Celeb. Still, when you put Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones (the one and only), Jim Brown, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Pam Grier, Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney, Jack Black, Joe Don Baker and Paul Winfield in one movie, you're bound to have at least a couple of moments. These are too few and far between to ever make the movie more than that: an endless series of cameos and bad jokes that could not have been funny to anyone except to a writer who, tellingly, only did a small film since.

Kill Bill: Vol 2 (2004) ****1/2

In many ways, I think that this one is a lot more Tarantino-esque than the first one. It's a more atypical film but it's also a more rewarding film than the first volume (which, mind you, I loved). So, when we left off the Bride at the end of Volume 1, she had gone Krakatoa on both O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green; this leaves hillbilly strip-lcub bouncer Budd (Michael Madsen), one-eyed, cold-hearted bitch Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah) and of course, Bill (David Carradine). Predictably, The Bride doesn't get it too easy; she's buried alive, beaten repeatedly, shot in the chest with rock salt, cut, punched, kicked, slapped and maimed in pretty much any way you can imagine. There's a lot less action this time around, but we ARE treated to a great scene where The Bride is trained by martial-arts hardass Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). Tarantino's famous dialogue is a lot more present here, as well. The acting is exemplary all around, with Carradine superb as the titular Bill. I have trouble writing down my thoughts about Tarantino films, because... there truly is no writing that can do them justice. Tarantino makes such vivid, visceral films that they really do speak for themselves.

A Walk In The Clouds (1995) ***

This is one of those movies that people refer to when they say something happens 'just like in the movies'. Every single damn thing that happens in this movie is predictable... oddly enough, this ends up being one of the film's biggest assets. Keanu Reeves plays a young man just in from the war who goes off to "find himself". He proceeds to 'meet cute' about 12 times with a young woman named Victoria (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) who reveals to him that oen of her professors has gotten her pregnant and that her father (Giancarlo Giannini) will not have any of that. He agrees to pass off as her husband for one night and act like he has deserted her... but of course he falls in love with her and her family's vineyard. It's a very, very, very familiar story and it appears there's been no attempt to ever make it anything but; it's an old-fashioned Hollywood romance, complete with scenes of Reeves serenading Sanchez-Gijon by her window and lame, soundstage-shot war flashbacks (actually, flashback, as far as I can tell it's always the same footage). This familiarity actually suits the film to a point... that is, if you can get past Keanu Reeves' jawdroppingly bad performance. I've seen quite a few movies with this guy, and he's rarely any good... but this is possibly the worst I've ever seen him do. He keeps the same expression frozen on his face in every scene and delivers every line in the same flat tone. The rest of the cast does much better, however, and Anthony Quinn positively walks off with the movie as Don Pedro, the patriarch of the Aragon family. It's beautifully shot by director Alfonoso Arau and entertaining enough; I suppose the film's main quality is that it manages to work despite an extremely weak central performance.

Thirteen (2003) **

99 minutes of screeching teenage hypberbole; yay. I'm always on the lookout for a teen film that doesn't trivialize adolescence... but this is the complete opposite. Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is a typical thirteen-year old girl who lives with her hippie-ish hairdresser mother (Holly Hunter) and her brother. After the coolest girl in school makes a crack about her socks, she decides to change her image and befriends said coolest girl, Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed), in one of the most unconvincing let's-be-friends scenes ever. They proceed to become best friends and do literally every rebellious-teenage-girl thing you could possibly think of: shoplifting, dope, snifing paint fumes, cutting, anorexia, random sex, drinking, tattoos, piercings, and probably some more stuff I forgot about. The film was written by 13-year-old Reed... and it shows. It has the overbearing tendency to exaggerate and amplify even the smallest things; it doesn't take too long before the film grows laughable. Not helping is the bipolar direction. The director apparently isn't sure if she's making gritty cinéma-verité (this shows up on screen by the use of hand-held cameras and a nifty, but pointless, progressive color drain) or a freakin' Kyla Rose music video (which shows up on screen with glitzy musical montages set to throwaway pop songs in which the characters are shopping, more often than not). I'll credit where credit is due; the actors are very good. Wood is extraordinary, even. But good actors doing bad material remain good actors doing bad material; Laurence Olivier shaving a monkey would suck regardless.

Matchstick Men (2003) ***1/2

First things first: this is a twist movie. It's also a con movie, and if you've seen one ad for this movie, then you'll probably be able to figure out the twist in half-a-second. Roy (Nicholas Cage) is an obsessive-compulsive con man who works out of his office with his partner Frank (Sam Rockwell), conning old people into overpaying walter filtration systems. Roy gets a new psychiatrist (Bruce Altman) who theorizes that his obsessive-complusive disorder may be traced back to his ex-wife and their child, whom Roy has never seen. That is, until he is reunited with his fourteen-year-old daughter Angela (Alison Lohman, in a breakthrough performance), who desperately wants in on her daddy's business. The plot is pretty standard stuff; the main con itself is a pretty dull money-laundering scheme... but the screenplay wisely puts the emphasis on characters. The father-daughter dynamic, an angle that pretty much every movie in the world has ALSO covered (most notably Paper Moon), is pretty well-explored and works well thanks to a luminous performance by Lohman. Really, the entire film revolves around wether or not you buy into the performances. Cage is overacting (how surprising) and Rockwell is freakin' hilarious (although, not stretching his range much). Ridley Scott's trademark visual flair gives this pleasant but decidedly minor film a boost in the right direction.

Mars Attacks!

For some reason I stopped posting reviews up here a while ago, so I'm gonna start again. These are old as hell, btw.

Mars Attacks (1996) **

When I first saw this movie in 1996, I hated it. I was a kid, and I thought it was one of the worst movies I'd ever seen. I saw it again now, a slightly older kid... and I still think it sucks, although now I understand WHY it sucks. Based on a series of trading cards, Mars Attacks features Jack Nicholson as the President of the United States who gets wind of an upcoming visit to Earth by the Martians; they come in peace, but due to a misunderstanding, they instead decide to wipe out the human race. It's meant as a sort of homage/parody of the Mars-invaders subgenre of the 50's, and visually, it pulls this off. As far as laughs or originality goes, well, better luck next time. The film obviously relies on its gargantuan cast to run free with the material, but it soon becomes a tired game of Kill-the-Celeb. Still, when you put Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones (the one and only), Jim Brown, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Pam Grier, Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney, Jack Black, Joe Don Baker and Paul Winfield in one movie, you're bound to have at least a couple of moments. These are too few and far between to ever make the movie more than that: an endless series of cameos and bad jokes that could not have been funny to anyone except to a writer who, tellingly, only did a small film since.

Kill Bill: Vol 2 (2004) ****1/2

In many ways, I think that this one is a lot more Tarantino-esque than the first one. It's a more atypical film but it's also a more rewarding film than the first volume (which, mind you, I loved). So, when we left off the Bride at the end of Volume 1, she had gone Krakatoa on both O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green; this leaves hillbilly strip-lcub bouncer Budd (Michael Madsen), one-eyed, cold-hearted bitch Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah) and of course, Bill (David Carradine). Predictably, The Bride doesn't get it too easy; she's buried alive, beaten repeatedly, shot in the chest with rock salt, cut, punched, kicked, slapped and maimed in pretty much any way you can imagine. There's a lot less action this time around, but we ARE treated to a great scene where The Bride is trained by martial-arts hardass Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). Tarantino's famous dialogue is a lot more present here, as well. The acting is exemplary all around, with Carradine superb as the titular Bill. I have trouble writing down my thoughts about Tarantino films, because... there truly is no writing that can do them justice. Tarantino makes such vivid, visceral films that they really do speak for themselves.

A Walk In The Clouds (1995) ***

This is one of those movies that people refer to when they say something happens 'just like in the movies'. Every single damn thing that happens in this movie is predictable... oddly enough, this ends up being one of the film's biggest assets. Keanu Reeves plays a young man just in from the war who goes off to "find himself". He proceeds to 'meet cute' about 12 times with a young woman named Victoria (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) who reveals to him that oen of her professors has gotten her pregnant and that her father (Giancarlo Giannini) will not have any of that. He agrees to pass off as her husband for one night and act like he has deserted her... but of course he falls in love with her and her family's vineyard. It's a very, very, very familiar story and it appears there's been no attempt to ever make it anything but; it's an old-fashioned Hollywood romance, complete with scenes of Reeves serenading Sanchez-Gijon by her window and lame, soundstage-shot war flashbacks (actually, flashback, as far as I can tell it's always the same footage). This familiarity actually suits the film to a point... that is, if you can get past Keanu Reeves' jawdroppingly bad performance. I've seen quite a few movies with this guy, and he's rarely any good... but this is possibly the worst I've ever seen him do. He keeps the same expression frozen on his face in every scene and delivers every line in the same flat tone. The rest of the cast does much better, however, and Anthony Quinn positively walks off with the movie as Don Pedro, the patriarch of the Aragon family. It's beautifully shot by director Alfonoso Arau and entertaining enough; I suppose the film's main quality is that it manages to work despite an extremely weak central performance.

Thirteen (2003) **

99 minutes of screeching teenage hypberbole; yay. I'm always on the lookout for a teen film that doesn't trivialize adolescence... but this is the complete opposite. Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is a typical thirteen-year old girl who lives with her hippie-ish hairdresser mother (Holly Hunter) and her brother. After the coolest girl in school makes a crack about her socks, she decides to change her image and befriends said coolest girl, Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed), in one of the most unconvincing let's-be-friends scenes ever. They proceed to become best friends and do literally every rebellious-teenage-girl thing you could possibly think of: shoplifting, dope, snifing paint fumes, cutting, anorexia, random sex, drinking, tattoos, piercings, and probably some more stuff I forgot about. The film was written by 13-year-old Reed... and it shows. It has the overbearing tendency to exaggerate and amplify even the smallest things; it doesn't take too long before the film grows laughable. Not helping is the bipolar direction. The director apparently isn't sure if she's making gritty cinéma-verité (this shows up on screen by the use of hand-held cameras and a nifty, but pointless, progressive color drain) or a freakin' Kyla Rose music video (which shows up on screen with glitzy musical montages set to throwaway pop songs in which the characters are shopping, more often than not). I'll credit where credit is due; the actors are very good. Wood is extraordinary, even. But good actors doing bad material remain good actors doing bad material; Laurence Olivier shaving a monkey would suck regardless.

Matchstick Men (2003) ***1/2

First things first: this is a twist movie. It's also a con movie, and if you've seen one ad for this movie, then you'll probably be able to figure out the twist in half-a-second. Roy (Nicholas Cage) is an obsessive-compulsive con man who works out of his office with his partner Frank (Sam Rockwell), conning old people into overpaying walter filtration systems. Roy gets a new psychiatrist (Bruce Altman) who theorizes that his obsessive-complusive disorder may be traced back to his ex-wife and their child, whom Roy has never seen. That is, until he is reunited with his fourteen-year-old daughter Angela (Alison Lohman, in a breakthrough performance), who desperately wants in on her daddy's business. The plot is pretty standard stuff; the main con itself is a pretty dull money-laundering scheme... but the screenplay wisely puts the emphasis on characters. The father-daughter dynamic, an angle that pretty much every movie in the world has ALSO covered (most notably Paper Moon), is pretty well-explored and works well thanks to a luminous performance by Lohman. Really, the entire film revolves around wether or not you buy into the performances. Cage is overacting (how surprising) and Rockwell is freakin' hilarious (although, not stretching his range much). Ridley Scott's trademark visual flair gives this pleasant but decidedly minor film a boost in the right direction.

Hellboy
Hellboy(2004)

At Five in the Afternoon (2003) ****

Samira Makhmalbaf's third film is a melancholy, naturalistic film that tells the story of a young Afghan woman named Noqreh who is prevented from going to school by her father. She must hide to attend school (where most girls are at least ten years younger than her) and nurture her dream of becoming the president. There's something about this area of the world's cinema that you'll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else: the countries have a very sheltered cinema industry and this translates to a certain purity as far as their output goes. Their films are devoid of clichés and sentimentality (for the most part) ebcause they have little to base themselves upon. At Five in the Afternoon deals with things like the Taliban but doesn't attempt to moralize or take sides. It has a less than uplifitng ending yet it doesn't milk it in the way you'd expect other films to. The actors (most of which are non-professionals) are terrific as well. It's true that these kinds of movies are not always appealing; when I sat down to watch this film, I really, really didn't feel like watching an Iranian movie with subtitles about the plight of women, because it seems like every Iranian movie is about that... but this one is something else.

La Dolce Vita (1960) ***1/2

So... yeah... Fellini. I can't exactly say how I felt about this one. I liked it... but I felt as if there was somehow something that was going way over my head, like some gigantic joke everyone was in on except me. Episodic as this story of an Italian journalist's nightly escapades with the creme de la creme of Italian society is, it's inevitable that some of these episodes will work better than others. The film is simply very uneven; I found myself entranced by some segments and positively bored out of my skull by others. Not to mention that the film can be completely inexplicable: I'd be able to resume to you exactly what happened, but not why it happened and what the purpose of it happening was. Still, when the film works, it works wonderfully, with Mastroianni great at the film's center. I don't know if this is a one-shot thing because this is billed as one of Fellini's most accessible films (I loved La Strada though, it would probably fit in my favorites list) but... anyway, we'll see.

Empire of the Sun (1987) ***

Spielberg's direction is both a blessing and a curse for this story of an aviation-obsessed boy (Christian Bale) living in China during WWII. When war breaks out, Jim is separated from his parents and falls in with a hustler named Basie (John Malkovich) and his crew (which include Joe Pantoliano and Ben Stiller, in one of his first roles). Eventually they are put in an internment camp where Jim dreams of flying planes. There's a certain Apocalypse Now vibe running through this thing, particularly at the end (some shots of a mud-stained Bale certainly look a lot like the shots of a painted Sheen in AN) but where Apocalypse Now was a brilliant, hallucinatory allegory... this falls victim to Spielberg's patented brand of sap. The film is simply too glossy and too prone to hysterics to truly grip; it feels Hollywoodized through-and-through. Young Bale's performance is decent, although it sometimes reaches heights of annoyance only surpassed by Jake Lloyd and Malkovich is, as always, a solid addition to any cast. As with most minor Spielberg movies, it has its moments, though: the scenes of Jim losing his parents in the crowd are actually very well done and it's got some great lines. But mawk remains mawk, and Speilberg is not exactly good at this stuff.

Hellboy (2004) **1/2

The superhero trend continues with this silly concoction from Guillermo Del Toro. From what I've gathered, it seemed that the Nazis (at the end of World War II) decided they needed to save themselves using black magic... so they use the carcass of the Mad Monk himself, Rasputin, to conjure up... something. Then the Allies interrupt their little ceremony and find a tiny little red critter that they tame with Baby Ruths and dub 'Hellboy'. Hellboy (Ron Perlman, perfectly cast) grows up to become a gigantic red muscly thing under the watchful eye of Professor Broom (John Hurt). Hellboy becomes a defender of humanity (obviously) and eventually takes on gigantic gooey squid things as well as trying to somehow rekindle his love with Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), who burns stuff when she gets mad. The plot is simply inane; not only does it ever make sense, it also grows increasingly complex. By the time Hellboy rescues the living-dead carcass of Rasputin (who just so happens to crack jokes at every turn) it becomes obvious that this is not gonna get any better. The film's saving grace is Perlman's wonderful performance; he makes a ridiculous character a hell of a lot more human. The rest of the cast is given very little to do, and the film eventually becomes a series of boring action setpieces in which Hellboy fight gooey squids... forever. Good special effects and makeup... but that's never gotten a movie very far, has it?

The Beach (2000) *1/2

Boy howdy, this movie sucks. If there's one gimmick that I hate in movies, it's the whole'insane-haze-voiceover-poetry' scene that is so common in films made after 1970. Sometimes it works... but sometimes it doesn't... which is incredibly more infuriating, since this film is basically made up of this. Leonardo DiCaprio plays an American who goes off to live in a commune in Thailand that seems very close to paradise. There he falls for a hot French, gets shot at by pot-growing locals, is chased by a shark, thinks he lives in a video game and spends a lot of time sweating, sitting in the corner of his hut and reciting poetry. That's basically it. It's a hodgepodge ripoff of every movie ever shot in the jungle, it seems, with little in the way of interesting drama or action. To top it all off, DiCaprio is mindbogglingly annoying... at least Virginie Ledoyen is hot, I guess. Still, that's no reason to see this ridiculous Apocalypse Now wannabe.

Fast Times At Ridgemont High

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) ****

Taking an all-too typical 80's-high-school setting, director Amy Heckerling and screenwriter Cameron Crowe craft a film that somewhere between a straight-up John Hughes comedy and a more toned-down drama. It works rather well; if not entirely realistic in its events, its characters' thoughts, motivations and reactions are spot-on. Fast Times revolves around a gaggle of high school students: Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) a constantly-stoned surfer dude; Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is just being introduced to the joys (and deceptions) of sex; her brother Brad (Judge Reinhold), who struggles with many different low-paying jobs because he feels it'S what he "ahs to do"; Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), a self-proclaimed charmer who may not be all he's cracked up to be; Mark AKA Rat (Brian Backer), a shy movie usher with a crush on Stacy, and Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates), Stacy's sexually-experienced co-worker. Their lives cross as they deal with the incoming threat of adulthood, blah blah blah... it certainly has a more down-to-earth approach; it never goes for the big easy gag, which is certainly good to see, and it has a more natural feel to it than most comedies of its type (even, dare I say, my beloved Dazed and Confused). It's not subtle, but it works. Those who like to play spot-the-famous-face will be in heaven; besides the main cast (most of which had very little previous movie experience) and the presence of Ray Walson and Vincent Schiavelli as teachers, we can also spot Forest Whittaker, Eric Stoltz, Nicholas Cage (who's in, like, 2 shots), Anthony Edwards, director Martin Brest, Taylor Negron, Nancy Wilson (of Heart... Crowe's wife) and Lana Clarkson (the infamous victim of the Phil Spector murder case). Whew.

eXistenZ (1999) **

Downright ridiculous sci-fi film from the usually reliable David Cronenberg casts Jennifer Jason Leigh as a creator of videogames in a world where X-boxes and Playstations have been replaced with big rubbery mounds of flesh that you plug in a rectum-like hole in your back. After being attacked by a guy during a demonstration, she escapes with security guard Jude Law and tries to make sense of things; the viewer does the same. It's one of those movies that keeps doubting wether or not it's actually happening and goes deus ex machina on its own ass repeatedly. The idea is original, and on paper it certainly would've looked good, but what's on-screen is ridiculous, confusing and devoid of absolutely any interest. The heavy-handed symbolism (for sex, obviously; Cronenberg wouldn't have body cavities for any other reason) becomes tiresome after maybe ten minutes and the top-notch cast (most of whom, it seems, would have signed on before reading the script) is given precious little to do. Leigh is pretty good, but Law is wasted in a part that amounts to little more than saying "What is happening?! What are you saying?!" a lot. Cronenberg would've been better off writing this as a short story and keeping it as far as possible from a camera.

Intolerable Cruelty (2003) ***1/2

It seems rather unlikely that indie mavericks like the Coen Brothers, who have built a career on offbeat, quirky fare, would tackle something like a romantic comedy about a divorce lawyer falling in love with a golddigger... starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, no less. But they have, and although purists may shy away from the premise, Intolerable Cruelty remains a Coen film at heart. George Clooney plays Miles Massey, a hugely successful divorce attorney who takes the case of Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is divorcing her millionaire husband (Edward Herrmann) after finding out he was having an affair. Turns out she's after his money (obviously)... and not just his. It's pretty flimsy stuff when compared to what the Coens usually do, but its sly sense of humor and potshots at the genre's conventions are enough to make it stand out. Add to that a crack team of supporting actors (Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric the Entertainer, Richard Jenkins and Paul Adelstein give sterling support... not to mention a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo from Bruce Campbell) and some endlessly quotable dialogue ("I'm gonna NAIL yo' ass!") and you've got yourself a solid way to pass a couple of hours. Clooney is hysterical in his Cary Grant-esque role, Zeta-Jones is stunning... it's pretty lightweight filmmaking from heavyweight talent, but it works.

The Verdict (1982) ***1/2

There's something about courtroom movies (and movies about law in general) that turn me off. I can't tell what it is exactly, but in any case, whatever it is... it's not in this film (or very little of it, anyway). Paul Newman plays a down-and-out, alcoholic lawyer who gets a medical malpractice lawsuit by some stroke of luck and decides to redeem himself by giving it his all. It takes a while to get going, and even when it does get going, it tends to get a bit dull with the lawyer-speak and all... but the story is gripping enough (and Newman good enough) to keep you engrossed in the story. Newman gives a great performance (and is ably supported by the likes of James Mason, Edward Binns, Charlotte Rampling Milo O'Shea and Jack Warden) and Lumet's typically efficient direction makes the most out of silence. It's much more interesting to see the actors playing off each other than it is to actually pay attention to the story, however.

Scanners (1981) ***1/2

Early Cronenberg concoction is most famous for its shot of a man's head literally exploding; but sit down and actually watch the thing, and you'll find that's it's actually a pretty good sci-fi yarn. Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is an average man who finds out from semi-mad professor Patrick McGoohan that he is in fact a 'scanner', capable of reading people's thoughts. He's not the only scanner; in fact, there are 'evil' scanners who are attempting to take over the world. From this relatively silly premise, Cronenberg is able to make a rather nifty little sci-fi thriller; I dig its gritty, low-budget Canuxploitation roots, plus it's got some great action scenes. It's also, as far as I can tell, Cronenberg's most straightforward flick... but it works better than the overblown rectal sci-fi of eXistenZ, for example. The acting isn't always very good (the cops in the car chase scene are especially horrible) but the leads are decent, and (miraculously) the usually wooden Michael Ironside shows up to give a semi-emotive performance as the leader of the bad scanners. That in itself is an achievement.

Scanners
Scanners(1981)
½

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) ****

Taking an all-too typical 80's-high-school setting, director Amy Heckerling and screenwriter Cameron Crowe craft a film that somewhere between a straight-up John Hughes comedy and a more toned-down drama. It works rather well; if not entirely realistic in its events, its characters' thoughts, motivations and reactions are spot-on. Fast Times revolves around a gaggle of high school students: Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) a constantly-stoned surfer dude; Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is just being introduced to the joys (and deceptions) of sex; her brother Brad (Judge Reinhold), who struggles with many different low-paying jobs because he feels it'S what he "ahs to do"; Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), a self-proclaimed charmer who may not be all he's cracked up to be; Mark AKA Rat (Brian Backer), a shy movie usher with a crush on Stacy, and Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates), Stacy's sexually-experienced co-worker. Their lives cross as they deal with the incoming threat of adulthood, blah blah blah... it certainly has a more down-to-earth approach; it never goes for the big easy gag, which is certainly good to see, and it has a more natural feel to it than most comedies of its type (even, dare I say, my beloved Dazed and Confused). It's not subtle, but it works. Those who like to play spot-the-famous-face will be in heaven; besides the main cast (most of which had very little previous movie experience) and the presence of Ray Walson and Vincent Schiavelli as teachers, we can also spot Forest Whittaker, Eric Stoltz, Nicholas Cage (who's in, like, 2 shots), Anthony Edwards, director Martin Brest, Taylor Negron, Nancy Wilson (of Heart... Crowe's wife) and Lana Clarkson (the infamous victim of the Phil Spector murder case). Whew.

eXistenZ (1999) **

Downright ridiculous sci-fi film from the usually reliable David Cronenberg casts Jennifer Jason Leigh as a creator of videogames in a world where X-boxes and Playstations have been replaced with big rubbery mounds of flesh that you plug in a rectum-like hole in your back. After being attacked by a guy during a demonstration, she escapes with security guard Jude Law and tries to make sense of things; the viewer does the same. It's one of those movies that keeps doubting wether or not it's actually happening and goes deus ex machina on its own ass repeatedly. The idea is original, and on paper it certainly would've looked good, but what's on-screen is ridiculous, confusing and devoid of absolutely any interest. The heavy-handed symbolism (for sex, obviously; Cronenberg wouldn't have body cavities for any other reason) becomes tiresome after maybe ten minutes and the top-notch cast (most of whom, it seems, would have signed on before reading the script) is given precious little to do. Leigh is pretty good, but Law is wasted in a part that amounts to little more than saying "What is happening?! What are you saying?!" a lot. Cronenberg would've been better off writing this as a short story and keeping it as far as possible from a camera.

Intolerable Cruelty (2003) ***1/2

It seems rather unlikely that indie mavericks like the Coen Brothers, who have built a career on offbeat, quirky fare, would tackle something like a romantic comedy about a divorce lawyer falling in love with a golddigger... starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, no less. But they have, and although purists may shy away from the premise, Intolerable Cruelty remains a Coen film at heart. George Clooney plays Miles Massey, a hugely successful divorce attorney who takes the case of Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is divorcing her millionaire husband (Edward Herrmann) after finding out he was having an affair. Turns out she's after his money (obviously)... and not just his. It's pretty flimsy stuff when compared to what the Coens usually do, but its sly sense of humor and potshots at the genre's conventions are enough to make it stand out. Add to that a crack team of supporting actors (Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric the Entertainer, Richard Jenkins and Paul Adelstein give sterling support... not to mention a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo from Bruce Campbell) and some endlessly quotable dialogue ("I'm gonna NAIL yo' ass!") and you've got yourself a solid way to pass a couple of hours. Clooney is hysterical in his Cary Grant-esque role, Zeta-Jones is stunning... it's pretty lightweight filmmaking from heavyweight talent, but it works.

The Verdict (1982) ***1/2

There's something about courtroom movies (and movies about law in general) that turn me off. I can't tell what it is exactly, but in any case, whatever it is... it's not in this film (or very little of it, anyway). Paul Newman plays a down-and-out, alcoholic lawyer who gets a medical malpractice lawsuit by some stroke of luck and decides to redeem himself by giving it his all. It takes a while to get going, and even when it does get going, it tends to get a bit dull with the lawyer-speak and all... but the story is gripping enough (and Newman good enough) to keep you engrossed in the story. Newman gives a great performance (and is ably supported by the likes of James Mason, Edward Binns, Charlotte Rampling Milo O'Shea and Jack Warden) and Lumet's typically efficient direction makes the most out of silence. It's much more interesting to see the actors playing off each other than it is to actually pay attention to the story, however.

Scanners (1981) ***1/2

Early Cronenberg concoction is most famous for its shot of a man's head literally exploding; but sit down and actually watch the thing, and you'll find that's it's actually a pretty good sci-fi yarn. Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is an average man who finds out from semi-mad professor Patrick McGoohan that he is in fact a 'scanner', capable of reading people's thoughts. He's not the only scanner; in fact, there are 'evil' scanners who are attempting to take over the world. From this relatively silly premise, Cronenberg is able to make a rather nifty little sci-fi thriller; I dig its gritty, low-budget Canuxploitation roots, plus it's got some great action scenes. It's also, as far as I can tell, Cronenberg's most straightforward flick... but it works better than the overblown rectal sci-fi of eXistenZ, for example. The acting isn't always very good (the cops in the car chase scene are especially horrible) but the leads are decent, and (miraculously) the usually wooden Michael Ironside shows up to give a semi-emotive performance as the leader of the bad scanners. That in itself is an achievement.

Existenz
Existenz(1999)

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) ****

Taking an all-too typical 80's-high-school setting, director Amy Heckerling and screenwriter Cameron Crowe craft a film that somewhere between a straight-up John Hughes comedy and a more toned-down drama. It works rather well; if not entirely realistic in its events, its characters' thoughts, motivations and reactions are spot-on. Fast Times revolves around a gaggle of high school students: Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) a constantly-stoned surfer dude; Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is just being introduced to the joys (and deceptions) of sex; her brother Brad (Judge Reinhold), who struggles with many different low-paying jobs because he feels it'S what he "ahs to do"; Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), a self-proclaimed charmer who may not be all he's cracked up to be; Mark AKA Rat (Brian Backer), a shy movie usher with a crush on Stacy, and Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates), Stacy's sexually-experienced co-worker. Their lives cross as they deal with the incoming threat of adulthood, blah blah blah... it certainly has a more down-to-earth approach; it never goes for the big easy gag, which is certainly good to see, and it has a more natural feel to it than most comedies of its type (even, dare I say, my beloved Dazed and Confused). It's not subtle, but it works. Those who like to play spot-the-famous-face will be in heaven; besides the main cast (most of which had very little previous movie experience) and the presence of Ray Walson and Vincent Schiavelli as teachers, we can also spot Forest Whittaker, Eric Stoltz, Nicholas Cage (who's in, like, 2 shots), Anthony Edwards, director Martin Brest, Taylor Negron, Nancy Wilson (of Heart... Crowe's wife) and Lana Clarkson (the infamous victim of the Phil Spector murder case). Whew.

eXistenZ (1999) **

Downright ridiculous sci-fi film from the usually reliable David Cronenberg casts Jennifer Jason Leigh as a creator of videogames in a world where X-boxes and Playstations have been replaced with big rubbery mounds of flesh that you plug in a rectum-like hole in your back. After being attacked by a guy during a demonstration, she escapes with security guard Jude Law and tries to make sense of things; the viewer does the same. It's one of those movies that keeps doubting wether or not it's actually happening and goes deus ex machina on its own ass repeatedly. The idea is original, and on paper it certainly would've looked good, but what's on-screen is ridiculous, confusing and devoid of absolutely any interest. The heavy-handed symbolism (for sex, obviously; Cronenberg wouldn't have body cavities for any other reason) becomes tiresome after maybe ten minutes and the top-notch cast (most of whom, it seems, would have signed on before reading the script) is given precious little to do. Leigh is pretty good, but Law is wasted in a part that amounts to little more than saying "What is happening?! What are you saying?!" a lot. Cronenberg would've been better off writing this as a short story and keeping it as far as possible from a camera.

Intolerable Cruelty (2003) ***1/2

It seems rather unlikely that indie mavericks like the Coen Brothers, who have built a career on offbeat, quirky fare, would tackle something like a romantic comedy about a divorce lawyer falling in love with a golddigger... starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, no less. But they have, and although purists may shy away from the premise, Intolerable Cruelty remains a Coen film at heart. George Clooney plays Miles Massey, a hugely successful divorce attorney who takes the case of Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is divorcing her millionaire husband (Edward Herrmann) after finding out he was having an affair. Turns out she's after his money (obviously)... and not just his. It's pretty flimsy stuff when compared to what the Coens usually do, but its sly sense of humor and potshots at the genre's conventions are enough to make it stand out. Add to that a crack team of supporting actors (Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric the Entertainer, Richard Jenkins and Paul Adelstein give sterling support... not to mention a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo from Bruce Campbell) and some endlessly quotable dialogue ("I'm gonna NAIL yo' ass!") and you've got yourself a solid way to pass a couple of hours. Clooney is hysterical in his Cary Grant-esque role, Zeta-Jones is stunning... it's pretty lightweight filmmaking from heavyweight talent, but it works.

The Verdict (1982) ***1/2

There's something about courtroom movies (and movies about law in general) that turn me off. I can't tell what it is exactly, but in any case, whatever it is... it's not in this film (or very little of it, anyway). Paul Newman plays a down-and-out, alcoholic lawyer who gets a medical malpractice lawsuit by some stroke of luck and decides to redeem himself by giving it his all. It takes a while to get going, and even when it does get going, it tends to get a bit dull with the lawyer-speak and all... but the story is gripping enough (and Newman good enough) to keep you engrossed in the story. Newman gives a great performance (and is ably supported by the likes of James Mason, Edward Binns, Charlotte Rampling Milo O'Shea and Jack Warden) and Lumet's typically efficient direction makes the most out of silence. It's much more interesting to see the actors playing off each other than it is to actually pay attention to the story, however.

Scanners (1981) ***1/2

Early Cronenberg concoction is most famous for its shot of a man's head literally exploding; but sit down and actually watch the thing, and you'll find that's it's actually a pretty good sci-fi yarn. Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is an average man who finds out from semi-mad professor Patrick McGoohan that he is in fact a 'scanner', capable of reading people's thoughts. He's not the only scanner; in fact, there are 'evil' scanners who are attempting to take over the world. From this relatively silly premise, Cronenberg is able to make a rather nifty little sci-fi thriller; I dig its gritty, low-budget Canuxploitation roots, plus it's got some great action scenes. It's also, as far as I can tell, Cronenberg's most straightforward flick... but it works better than the overblown rectal sci-fi of eXistenZ, for example. The acting isn't always very good (the cops in the car chase scene are especially horrible) but the leads are decent, and (miraculously) the usually wooden Michael Ironside shows up to give a semi-emotive performance as the leader of the bad scanners. That in itself is an achievement.

The Verdict
The Verdict(1982)
½

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) ****

Taking an all-too typical 80's-high-school setting, director Amy Heckerling and screenwriter Cameron Crowe craft a film that somewhere between a straight-up John Hughes comedy and a more toned-down drama. It works rather well; if not entirely realistic in its events, its characters' thoughts, motivations and reactions are spot-on. Fast Times revolves around a gaggle of high school students: Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) a constantly-stoned surfer dude; Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is just being introduced to the joys (and deceptions) of sex; her brother Brad (Judge Reinhold), who struggles with many different low-paying jobs because he feels it'S what he "ahs to do"; Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), a self-proclaimed charmer who may not be all he's cracked up to be; Mark AKA Rat (Brian Backer), a shy movie usher with a crush on Stacy, and Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates), Stacy's sexually-experienced co-worker. Their lives cross as they deal with the incoming threat of adulthood, blah blah blah... it certainly has a more down-to-earth approach; it never goes for the big easy gag, which is certainly good to see, and it has a more natural feel to it than most comedies of its type (even, dare I say, my beloved Dazed and Confused). It's not subtle, but it works. Those who like to play spot-the-famous-face will be in heaven; besides the main cast (most of which had very little previous movie experience) and the presence of Ray Walson and Vincent Schiavelli as teachers, we can also spot Forest Whittaker, Eric Stoltz, Nicholas Cage (who's in, like, 2 shots), Anthony Edwards, director Martin Brest, Taylor Negron, Nancy Wilson (of Heart... Crowe's wife) and Lana Clarkson (the infamous victim of the Phil Spector murder case). Whew.

eXistenZ (1999) **

Downright ridiculous sci-fi film from the usually reliable David Cronenberg casts Jennifer Jason Leigh as a creator of videogames in a world where X-boxes and Playstations have been replaced with big rubbery mounds of flesh that you plug in a rectum-like hole in your back. After being attacked by a guy during a demonstration, she escapes with security guard Jude Law and tries to make sense of things; the viewer does the same. It's one of those movies that keeps doubting wether or not it's actually happening and goes deus ex machina on its own ass repeatedly. The idea is original, and on paper it certainly would've looked good, but what's on-screen is ridiculous, confusing and devoid of absolutely any interest. The heavy-handed symbolism (for sex, obviously; Cronenberg wouldn't have body cavities for any other reason) becomes tiresome after maybe ten minutes and the top-notch cast (most of whom, it seems, would have signed on before reading the script) is given precious little to do. Leigh is pretty good, but Law is wasted in a part that amounts to little more than saying "What is happening?! What are you saying?!" a lot. Cronenberg would've been better off writing this as a short story and keeping it as far as possible from a camera.

Intolerable Cruelty (2003) ***1/2

It seems rather unlikely that indie mavericks like the Coen Brothers, who have built a career on offbeat, quirky fare, would tackle something like a romantic comedy about a divorce lawyer falling in love with a golddigger... starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, no less. But they have, and although purists may shy away from the premise, Intolerable Cruelty remains a Coen film at heart. George Clooney plays Miles Massey, a hugely successful divorce attorney who takes the case of Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is divorcing her millionaire husband (Edward Herrmann) after finding out he was having an affair. Turns out she's after his money (obviously)... and not just his. It's pretty flimsy stuff when compared to what the Coens usually do, but its sly sense of humor and potshots at the genre's conventions are enough to make it stand out. Add to that a crack team of supporting actors (Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric the Entertainer, Richard Jenkins and Paul Adelstein give sterling support... not to mention a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo from Bruce Campbell) and some endlessly quotable dialogue ("I'm gonna NAIL yo' ass!") and you've got yourself a solid way to pass a couple of hours. Clooney is hysterical in his Cary Grant-esque role, Zeta-Jones is stunning... it's pretty lightweight filmmaking from heavyweight talent, but it works.

The Verdict (1982) ***1/2

There's something about courtroom movies (and movies about law in general) that turn me off. I can't tell what it is exactly, but in any case, whatever it is... it's not in this film (or very little of it, anyway). Paul Newman plays a down-and-out, alcoholic lawyer who gets a medical malpractice lawsuit by some stroke of luck and decides to redeem himself by giving it his all. It takes a while to get going, and even when it does get going, it tends to get a bit dull with the lawyer-speak and all... but the story is gripping enough (and Newman good enough) to keep you engrossed in the story. Newman gives a great performance (and is ably supported by the likes of James Mason, Edward Binns, Charlotte Rampling Milo O'Shea and Jack Warden) and Lumet's typically efficient direction makes the most out of silence. It's much more interesting to see the actors playing off each other than it is to actually pay attention to the story, however.

Scanners (1981) ***1/2

Early Cronenberg concoction is most famous for its shot of a man's head literally exploding; but sit down and actually watch the thing, and you'll find that's it's actually a pretty good sci-fi yarn. Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is an average man who finds out from semi-mad professor Patrick McGoohan that he is in fact a 'scanner', capable of reading people's thoughts. He's not the only scanner; in fact, there are 'evil' scanners who are attempting to take over the world. From this relatively silly premise, Cronenberg is able to make a rather nifty little sci-fi thriller; I dig its gritty, low-budget Canuxploitation roots, plus it's got some great action scenes. It's also, as far as I can tell, Cronenberg's most straightforward flick... but it works better than the overblown rectal sci-fi of eXistenZ, for example. The acting isn't always very good (the cops in the car chase scene are especially horrible) but the leads are decent, and (miraculously) the usually wooden Michael Ironside shows up to give a semi-emotive performance as the leader of the bad scanners. That in itself is an achievement.

Intolerable Cruelty
½

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) ****

Taking an all-too typical 80's-high-school setting, director Amy Heckerling and screenwriter Cameron Crowe craft a film that somewhere between a straight-up John Hughes comedy and a more toned-down drama. It works rather well; if not entirely realistic in its events, its characters' thoughts, motivations and reactions are spot-on. Fast Times revolves around a gaggle of high school students: Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) a constantly-stoned surfer dude; Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is just being introduced to the joys (and deceptions) of sex; her brother Brad (Judge Reinhold), who struggles with many different low-paying jobs because he feels it'S what he "ahs to do"; Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), a self-proclaimed charmer who may not be all he's cracked up to be; Mark AKA Rat (Brian Backer), a shy movie usher with a crush on Stacy, and Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates), Stacy's sexually-experienced co-worker. Their lives cross as they deal with the incoming threat of adulthood, blah blah blah... it certainly has a more down-to-earth approach; it never goes for the big easy gag, which is certainly good to see, and it has a more natural feel to it than most comedies of its type (even, dare I say, my beloved Dazed and Confused). It's not subtle, but it works. Those who like to play spot-the-famous-face will be in heaven; besides the main cast (most of which had very little previous movie experience) and the presence of Ray Walson and Vincent Schiavelli as teachers, we can also spot Forest Whittaker, Eric Stoltz, Nicholas Cage (who's in, like, 2 shots), Anthony Edwards, director Martin Brest, Taylor Negron, Nancy Wilson (of Heart... Crowe's wife) and Lana Clarkson (the infamous victim of the Phil Spector murder case). Whew.

eXistenZ (1999) **

Downright ridiculous sci-fi film from the usually reliable David Cronenberg casts Jennifer Jason Leigh as a creator of videogames in a world where X-boxes and Playstations have been replaced with big rubbery mounds of flesh that you plug in a rectum-like hole in your back. After being attacked by a guy during a demonstration, she escapes with security guard Jude Law and tries to make sense of things; the viewer does the same. It's one of those movies that keeps doubting wether or not it's actually happening and goes deus ex machina on its own ass repeatedly. The idea is original, and on paper it certainly would've looked good, but what's on-screen is ridiculous, confusing and devoid of absolutely any interest. The heavy-handed symbolism (for sex, obviously; Cronenberg wouldn't have body cavities for any other reason) becomes tiresome after maybe ten minutes and the top-notch cast (most of whom, it seems, would have signed on before reading the script) is given precious little to do. Leigh is pretty good, but Law is wasted in a part that amounts to little more than saying "What is happening?! What are you saying?!" a lot. Cronenberg would've been better off writing this as a short story and keeping it as far as possible from a camera.

Intolerable Cruelty (2003) ***1/2

It seems rather unlikely that indie mavericks like the Coen Brothers, who have built a career on offbeat, quirky fare, would tackle something like a romantic comedy about a divorce lawyer falling in love with a golddigger... starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, no less. But they have, and although purists may shy away from the premise, Intolerable Cruelty remains a Coen film at heart. George Clooney plays Miles Massey, a hugely successful divorce attorney who takes the case of Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is divorcing her millionaire husband (Edward Herrmann) after finding out he was having an affair. Turns out she's after his money (obviously)... and not just his. It's pretty flimsy stuff when compared to what the Coens usually do, but its sly sense of humor and potshots at the genre's conventions are enough to make it stand out. Add to that a crack team of supporting actors (Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric the Entertainer, Richard Jenkins and Paul Adelstein give sterling support... not to mention a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo from Bruce Campbell) and some endlessly quotable dialogue ("I'm gonna NAIL yo' ass!") and you've got yourself a solid way to pass a couple of hours. Clooney is hysterical in his Cary Grant-esque role, Zeta-Jones is stunning... it's pretty lightweight filmmaking from heavyweight talent, but it works.

The Verdict (1982) ***1/2

There's something about courtroom movies (and movies about law in general) that turn me off. I can't tell what it is exactly, but in any case, whatever it is... it's not in this film (or very little of it, anyway). Paul Newman plays a down-and-out, alcoholic lawyer who gets a medical malpractice lawsuit by some stroke of luck and decides to redeem himself by giving it his all. It takes a while to get going, and even when it does get going, it tends to get a bit dull with the lawyer-speak and all... but the story is gripping enough (and Newman good enough) to keep you engrossed in the story. Newman gives a great performance (and is ably supported by the likes of James Mason, Edward Binns, Charlotte Rampling Milo O'Shea and Jack Warden) and Lumet's typically efficient direction makes the most out of silence. It's much more interesting to see the actors playing off each other than it is to actually pay attention to the story, however.

Scanners (1981) ***1/2

Early Cronenberg concoction is most famous for its shot of a man's head literally exploding; but sit down and actually watch the thing, and you'll find that's it's actually a pretty good sci-fi yarn. Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is an average man who finds out from semi-mad professor Patrick McGoohan that he is in fact a 'scanner', capable of reading people's thoughts. He's not the only scanner; in fact, there are 'evil' scanners who are attempting to take over the world. From this relatively silly premise, Cronenberg is able to make a rather nifty little sci-fi thriller; I dig its gritty, low-budget Canuxploitation roots, plus it's got some great action scenes. It's also, as far as I can tell, Cronenberg's most straightforward flick... but it works better than the overblown rectal sci-fi of eXistenZ, for example. The acting isn't always very good (the cops in the car chase scene are especially horrible) but the leads are decent, and (miraculously) the usually wooden Michael Ironside shows up to give a semi-emotive performance as the leader of the bad scanners. That in itself is an achievement.

The Magdalene Sisters
½

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) **1/2

Ever notice how hack directors sometimes feel that they must do penance to the filmmaking god by going out and making a small movie? Phillip Noyce is one of those hacks... and Rabbit-Proof Fence is one of those movies. Noyce is not completely devoid of talent: his 'The Quiet American' is actually a rather good film (and apparently a fluke). Unfortunately, years of making explosive spy thrillers and movies with Sharon Stone have apparently rendered Noyce incapable of any sort of subtlety. This story of three Aboriginal children who are taken away from their family by the government and escape back home is so truncated and telegraphed that it almost makes you yearn for those Disney movies where a child (usually accompanied by his trusty animal) must make the trek back home. They are tracked by Mr. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), the administrator of the aboriginal relocation policies, who wants to get rid of half-breed aboriginals. The story at the film's core is a good one; there'S certainly a good film to be made from these racist practices. However, Branagh's Neville is an over-the-top Aryan caricature (Branagh's second most-often typecast role, after the Shakespearian fop) and Noyce's direction has the subtlety of a sledgehammer. We never get the feeling that the kids even find this hard; the film simply takes us from one pointless encounter to another. Not to mention that Noyce seems awfully fond of the POV shot and riddles the film with them. The cinematography is wonderful (and so is the Peter Gabriel score) but the film itself is hardly as engrossing or dramatic as it wishes it was.

Me, Myself and Irene (2000) ***

I went from loving this ("Best Jim Carrey movie ever!") to hating it ("Worst Jim Carrey movie ever!") to being completely neutral. I don't know exactly what prompted both of the above reactions, because as far as both Carrey and the Farrellys go, Me, Myself and Irene is completely and utterly average. Carrey is Charlie Baileygates, a mild-mannered Rhode Island cop who has been repressing his feelings of anger ever since his wife left him for an African-American midget limo driver (Tony Cox), leaving him with three black children whom he continues to believe are his. Then, taken over the edge, Charlie flips out and out comes Hank Evans, an amalgalm of all the feelings Charlie has never let out. Things get even more complicated when Charlie is assigned to escort a young woman named Irene (Renée Zellwegger) and gets embroiled in all of her life's troubles... and obviously falling in love with her... both Charlie and Hank, who battle it out for her love. It's relatively crude humor the entire way through (this being the Farrellys, it's no shock) but it also has heart (hell, this being the Farrellys, it's no shock either). There are pretty much as many jokes that fail as there are jokes that hit the bullseye, but it's always a pleasure to watch Carrey go ballistic in a performance that reminds one of Steve Martin's brilliant turn in All of Me. Carrey's not as good (both characters are essentially Jim Carrey on different settings), but he's still a riot. Props also to Renée Zellwegger (at her loveliest in this and Nurse Betty), who holds her own against Carrey (something that's harder than it sounds).

Quest for Fire (1981) ***

Jean-Jacques Annaud's semi-epic prehistoric man saga Quest for Fire is certainly something we see little of: a gritty, realistic film that tackles the topic of prehistoric men with more seriousness than, say, the Ringo Starr comedy Caveman. It follows three tribesmen (Everett McGill, Ron Perlman and Nameer El-Kadi) who go on a cross-country search to find fire; they eventually meet up with a creepy naked cannibal (Rae Dawn Chong, of all people) who may or may not hold the secret to fire. It's certainly a very interesting take on the subject; it depicts them as animalistic (which is what they were, really) and instinctive... but it makes questionable assumptions, especially regarding sexuality. I honestly doubt that cavemen who go on instinct and primal urges the entire course of the movie are suddenly going to give each other blowjobs and fall in love (not to mention being so fixated on penises). I don't doubt that cavemen had sex; I do doubt, however, that they were such raging nymphos. Not to mention that the cavemen get kind of annoying after a while; by the third time they had a laughing fit because one of them had gotten a rock on the head, I was kinda wondering where all this was going. It seems more suited to a short subject film... or perhaps a segment in a movie about history... or something. The performances are decent, and the film certainly gets props for showing it as it is (or, at the very least, how they assume it is). Plus, it's gotta set a record for the most scenes of prehistoric buttlove in a film.

Clerks (1994) ****

A cult classic among Generation X, Kevin Smith's debut film is typical of many debut films: low-budget, low-key, uneven acting, filled with a desire to cram way too much stuff into one film... but it's so damn funny and well-written that it has more lasting power than, say, Aronofsky's Pi. The film follows a day in the life of Dante, a 22-year-old guy who works as a clerk in a convenience store. Called in on his off-day, Dante must face the usual array of customers, as well as choose between his girlfriend and his ex, visit the wake of a dead friend, play a hockey game and deal with the constant annoyance of his friend Randal, who spends more time goofing off with Dante than working at the next-door video store. It's black-and-white, very low-budget, forcing the film to rely on its script and dialogue... but what a script it is! I've always entertained the notion that Smith is a much better writer than he is a director, and Clerks is probably the best example of this. The script does tend to want to cram too much in (a tendency that first-time directors often have; they may never direct again, so this is their one chance to get this great idea in a movie) which leads to scenes like Silent Bob's cousin Olaf (which, while hilarious, is totally and utterly pointless). The acting is a bit uneven, but considering that most actors made their debut in this film and barely worked after, it's still a decent job. I'm not a huge fan of Smith, but this is undeniably entertaining stuff.

The Magdalene Sisters (2003) **1/2

Disappointed in this one, actually. I heard so much about how brutal and uncompromising it was that it was actually quite disappointing to see that the movie is basically an American prison movie transposed to an Irish convent. It reminds me a bit of Rabbit-Proof Fence in the sense that it's a bleak, harrowing story that's worth telling, but then unfolds like... well, this one kinda plays like Papillon, to be honest. Three young women are taken from their home for promiscuous behavior (one of them has a child, the other is raped by her cousin, the last one does excessive flirting) and sent to live with the Magdalene sisters, who whip the girls, make them wash clothes constantly, ridicule their bodies, etc. Now, this is a horrible, horrible practice... but the film plays more like Girl, Interrupted than anything. Get in, find out how horrible it is, moan and cry and bitch, devise a plan to escape, get caught, devise another plan, etc. There are scenes of great emotional power here... but it all feels way, way too much like a movie. I never really felt the pain; instead I was thinking of what the cast would look like if it was American (Kirsten Dunst as Rose, Scarlett Johanssen as Margaret, Angelina Jolie/Christina Ricci as Bernadette, with someone like Kathy Bates or Susan Sarandon as the head nurse and Sean Astin as that guy that keeps coming in for various reasons). It's just an arthouse movie for the masses; the kind of movie mildly intelligent housewives go out and see and then cry at the end of, when in fact it's exactly the same damn thing as a prison escape movie.

Me, Myself & Irene

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) **1/2

Ever notice how hack directors sometimes feel that they must do penance to the filmmaking god by going out and making a small movie? Phillip Noyce is one of those hacks... and Rabbit-Proof Fence is one of those movies. Noyce is not completely devoid of talent: his 'The Quiet American' is actually a rather good film (and apparently a fluke). Unfortunately, years of making explosive spy thrillers and movies with Sharon Stone have apparently rendered Noyce incapable of any sort of subtlety. This story of three Aboriginal children who are taken away from their family by the government and escape back home is so truncated and telegraphed that it almost makes you yearn for those Disney movies where a child (usually accompanied by his trusty animal) must make the trek back home. They are tracked by Mr. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), the administrator of the aboriginal relocation policies, who wants to get rid of half-breed aboriginals. The story at the film's core is a good one; there'S certainly a good film to be made from these racist practices. However, Branagh's Neville is an over-the-top Aryan caricature (Branagh's second most-often typecast role, after the Shakespearian fop) and Noyce's direction has the subtlety of a sledgehammer. We never get the feeling that the kids even find this hard; the film simply takes us from one pointless encounter to another. Not to mention that Noyce seems awfully fond of the POV shot and riddles the film with them. The cinematography is wonderful (and so is the Peter Gabriel score) but the film itself is hardly as engrossing or dramatic as it wishes it was.

Me, Myself and Irene (2000) ***

I went from loving this ("Best Jim Carrey movie ever!") to hating it ("Worst Jim Carrey movie ever!") to being completely neutral. I don't know exactly what prompted both of the above reactions, because as far as both Carrey and the Farrellys go, Me, Myself and Irene is completely and utterly average. Carrey is Charlie Baileygates, a mild-mannered Rhode Island cop who has been repressing his feelings of anger ever since his wife left him for an African-American midget limo driver (Tony Cox), leaving him with three black children whom he continues to believe are his. Then, taken over the edge, Charlie flips out and out comes Hank Evans, an amalgalm of all the feelings Charlie has never let out. Things get even more complicated when Charlie is assigned to escort a young woman named Irene (Renée Zellwegger) and gets embroiled in all of her life's troubles... and obviously falling in love with her... both Charlie and Hank, who battle it out for her love. It's relatively crude humor the entire way through (this being the Farrellys, it's no shock) but it also has heart (hell, this being the Farrellys, it's no shock either). There are pretty much as many jokes that fail as there are jokes that hit the bullseye, but it's always a pleasure to watch Carrey go ballistic in a performance that reminds one of Steve Martin's brilliant turn in All of Me. Carrey's not as good (both characters are essentially Jim Carrey on different settings), but he's still a riot. Props also to Renée Zellwegger (at her loveliest in this and Nurse Betty), who holds her own against Carrey (something that's harder than it sounds).

Quest for Fire (1981) ***

Jean-Jacques Annaud's semi-epic prehistoric man saga Quest for Fire is certainly something we see little of: a gritty, realistic film that tackles the topic of prehistoric men with more seriousness than, say, the Ringo Starr comedy Caveman. It follows three tribesmen (Everett McGill, Ron Perlman and Nameer El-Kadi) who go on a cross-country search to find fire; they eventually meet up with a creepy naked cannibal (Rae Dawn Chong, of all people) who may or may not hold the secret to fire. It's certainly a very interesting take on the subject; it depicts them as animalistic (which is what they were, really) and instinctive... but it makes questionable assumptions, especially regarding sexuality. I honestly doubt that cavemen who go on instinct and primal urges the entire course of the movie are suddenly going to give each other blowjobs and fall in love (not to mention being so fixated on penises). I don't doubt that cavemen had sex; I do doubt, however, that they were such raging nymphos. Not to mention that the cavemen get kind of annoying after a while; by the third time they had a laughing fit because one of them had gotten a rock on the head, I was kinda wondering where all this was going. It seems more suited to a short subject film... or perhaps a segment in a movie about history... or something. The performances are decent, and the film certainly gets props for showing it as it is (or, at the very least, how they assume it is). Plus, it's gotta set a record for the most scenes of prehistoric buttlove in a film.

Clerks (1994) ****

A cult classic among Generation X, Kevin Smith's debut film is typical of many debut films: low-budget, low-key, uneven acting, filled with a desire to cram way too much stuff into one film... but it's so damn funny and well-written that it has more lasting power than, say, Aronofsky's Pi. The film follows a day in the life of Dante, a 22-year-old guy who works as a clerk in a convenience store. Called in on his off-day, Dante must face the usual array of customers, as well as choose between his girlfriend and his ex, visit the wake of a dead friend, play a hockey game and deal with the constant annoyance of his friend Randal, who spends more time goofing off with Dante than working at the next-door video store. It's black-and-white, very low-budget, forcing the film to rely on its script and dialogue... but what a script it is! I've always entertained the notion that Smith is a much better writer than he is a director, and Clerks is probably the best example of this. The script does tend to want to cram too much in (a tendency that first-time directors often have; they may never direct again, so this is their one chance to get this great idea in a movie) which leads to scenes like Silent Bob's cousin Olaf (which, while hilarious, is totally and utterly pointless). The acting is a bit uneven, but considering that most actors made their debut in this film and barely worked after, it's still a decent job. I'm not a huge fan of Smith, but this is undeniably entertaining stuff.

The Magdalene Sisters (2003) **1/2

Disappointed in this one, actually. I heard so much about how brutal and uncompromising it was that it was actually quite disappointing to see that the movie is basically an American prison movie transposed to an Irish convent. It reminds me a bit of Rabbit-Proof Fence in the sense that it's a bleak, harrowing story that's worth telling, but then unfolds like... well, this one kinda plays like Papillon, to be honest. Three young women are taken from their home for promiscuous behavior (one of them has a child, the other is raped by her cousin, the last one does excessive flirting) and sent to live with the Magdalene sisters, who whip the girls, make them wash clothes constantly, ridicule their bodies, etc. Now, this is a horrible, horrible practice... but the film plays more like Girl, Interrupted than anything. Get in, find out how horrible it is, moan and cry and bitch, devise a plan to escape, get caught, devise another plan, etc. There are scenes of great emotional power here... but it all feels way, way too much like a movie. I never really felt the pain; instead I was thinking of what the cast would look like if it was American (Kirsten Dunst as Rose, Scarlett Johanssen as Margaret, Angelina Jolie/Christina Ricci as Bernadette, with someone like Kathy Bates or Susan Sarandon as the head nurse and Sean Astin as that guy that keeps coming in for various reasons). It's just an arthouse movie for the masses; the kind of movie mildly intelligent housewives go out and see and then cry at the end of, when in fact it's exactly the same damn thing as a prison escape movie.

Clerks
Clerks(1994)

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) **1/2

Ever notice how hack directors sometimes feel that they must do penance to the filmmaking god by going out and making a small movie? Phillip Noyce is one of those hacks... and Rabbit-Proof Fence is one of those movies. Noyce is not completely devoid of talent: his 'The Quiet American' is actually a rather good film (and apparently a fluke). Unfortunately, years of making explosive spy thrillers and movies with Sharon Stone have apparently rendered Noyce incapable of any sort of subtlety. This story of three Aboriginal children who are taken away from their family by the government and escape back home is so truncated and telegraphed that it almost makes you yearn for those Disney movies where a child (usually accompanied by his trusty animal) must make the trek back home. They are tracked by Mr. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), the administrator of the aboriginal relocation policies, who wants to get rid of half-breed aboriginals. The story at the film's core is a good one; there'S certainly a good film to be made from these racist practices. However, Branagh's Neville is an over-the-top Aryan caricature (Branagh's second most-often typecast role, after the Shakespearian fop) and Noyce's direction has the subtlety of a sledgehammer. We never get the feeling that the kids even find this hard; the film simply takes us from one pointless encounter to another. Not to mention that Noyce seems awfully fond of the POV shot and riddles the film with them. The cinematography is wonderful (and so is the Peter Gabriel score) but the film itself is hardly as engrossing or dramatic as it wishes it was.

Me, Myself and Irene (2000) ***

I went from loving this ("Best Jim Carrey movie ever!") to hating it ("Worst Jim Carrey movie ever!") to being completely neutral. I don't know exactly what prompted both of the above reactions, because as far as both Carrey and the Farrellys go, Me, Myself and Irene is completely and utterly average. Carrey is Charlie Baileygates, a mild-mannered Rhode Island cop who has been repressing his feelings of anger ever since his wife left him for an African-American midget limo driver (Tony Cox), leaving him with three black children whom he continues to believe are his. Then, taken over the edge, Charlie flips out and out comes Hank Evans, an amalgalm of all the feelings Charlie has never let out. Things get even more complicated when Charlie is assigned to escort a young woman named Irene (Renée Zellwegger) and gets embroiled in all of her life's troubles... and obviously falling in love with her... both Charlie and Hank, who battle it out for her love. It's relatively crude humor the entire way through (this being the Farrellys, it's no shock) but it also has heart (hell, this being the Farrellys, it's no shock either). There are pretty much as many jokes that fail as there are jokes that hit the bullseye, but it's always a pleasure to watch Carrey go ballistic in a performance that reminds one of Steve Martin's brilliant turn in All of Me. Carrey's not as good (both characters are essentially Jim Carrey on different settings), but he's still a riot. Props also to Renée Zellwegger (at her loveliest in this and Nurse Betty), who holds her own against Carrey (something that's harder than it sounds).

Quest for Fire (1981) ***

Jean-Jacques Annaud's semi-epic prehistoric man saga Quest for Fire is certainly something we see little of: a gritty, realistic film that tackles the topic of prehistoric men with more seriousness than, say, the Ringo Starr comedy Caveman. It follows three tribesmen (Everett McGill, Ron Perlman and Nameer El-Kadi) who go on a cross-country search to find fire; they eventually meet up with a creepy naked cannibal (Rae Dawn Chong, of all people) who may or may not hold the secret to fire. It's certainly a very interesting take on the subject; it depicts them as animalistic (which is what they were, really) and instinctive... but it makes questionable assumptions, especially regarding sexuality. I honestly doubt that cavemen who go on instinct and primal urges the entire course of the movie are suddenly going to give each other blowjobs and fall in love (not to mention being so fixated on penises). I don't doubt that cavemen had sex; I do doubt, however, that they were such raging nymphos. Not to mention that the cavemen get kind of annoying after a while; by the third time they had a laughing fit because one of them had gotten a rock on the head, I was kinda wondering where all this was going. It seems more suited to a short subject film... or perhaps a segment in a movie about history... or something. The performances are decent, and the film certainly gets props for showing it as it is (or, at the very least, how they assume it is). Plus, it's gotta set a record for the most scenes of prehistoric buttlove in a film.

Clerks (1994) ****

A cult classic among Generation X, Kevin Smith's debut film is typical of many debut films: low-budget, low-key, uneven acting, filled with a desire to cram way too much stuff into one film... but it's so damn funny and well-written that it has more lasting power than, say, Aronofsky's Pi. The film follows a day in the life of Dante, a 22-year-old guy who works as a clerk in a convenience store. Called in on his off-day, Dante must face the usual array of customers, as well as choose between his girlfriend and his ex, visit the wake of a dead friend, play a hockey game and deal with the constant annoyance of his friend Randal, who spends more time goofing off with Dante than working at the next-door video store. It's black-and-white, very low-budget, forcing the film to rely on its script and dialogue... but what a script it is! I've always entertained the notion that Smith is a much better writer than he is a director, and Clerks is probably the best example of this. The script does tend to want to cram too much in (a tendency that first-time directors often have; they may never direct again, so this is their one chance to get this great idea in a movie) which leads to scenes like Silent Bob's cousin Olaf (which, while hilarious, is totally and utterly pointless). The acting is a bit uneven, but considering that most actors made their debut in this film and barely worked after, it's still a decent job. I'm not a huge fan of Smith, but this is undeniably entertaining stuff.

The Magdalene Sisters (2003) **1/2

Disappointed in this one, actually. I heard so much about how brutal and uncompromising it was that it was actually quite disappointing to see that the movie is basically an American prison movie transposed to an Irish convent. It reminds me a bit of Rabbit-Proof Fence in the sense that it's a bleak, harrowing story that's worth telling, but then unfolds like... well, this one kinda plays like Papillon, to be honest. Three young women are taken from their home for promiscuous behavior (one of them has a child, the other is raped by her cousin, the last one does excessive flirting) and sent to live with the Magdalene sisters, who whip the girls, make them wash clothes constantly, ridicule their bodies, etc. Now, this is a horrible, horrible practice... but the film plays more like Girl, Interrupted than anything. Get in, find out how horrible it is, moan and cry and bitch, devise a plan to escape, get caught, devise another plan, etc. There are scenes of great emotional power here... but it all feels way, way too much like a movie. I never really felt the pain; instead I was thinking of what the cast would look like if it was American (Kirsten Dunst as Rose, Scarlett Johanssen as Margaret, Angelina Jolie/Christina Ricci as Bernadette, with someone like Kathy Bates or Susan Sarandon as the head nurse and Sean Astin as that guy that keeps coming in for various reasons). It's just an arthouse movie for the masses; the kind of movie mildly intelligent housewives go out and see and then cry at the end of, when in fact it's exactly the same damn thing as a prison escape movie.

Quest for Fire

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) **1/2

Ever notice how hack directors sometimes feel that they must do penance to the filmmaking god by going out and making a small movie? Phillip Noyce is one of those hacks... and Rabbit-Proof Fence is one of those movies. Noyce is not completely devoid of talent: his 'The Quiet American' is actually a rather good film (and apparently a fluke). Unfortunately, years of making explosive spy thrillers and movies with Sharon Stone have apparently rendered Noyce incapable of any sort of subtlety. This story of three Aboriginal children who are taken away from their family by the government and escape back home is so truncated and telegraphed that it almost makes you yearn for those Disney movies where a child (usually accompanied by his trusty animal) must make the trek back home. They are tracked by Mr. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), the administrator of the aboriginal relocation policies, who wants to get rid of half-breed aboriginals. The story at the film's core is a good one; there'S certainly a good film to be made from these racist practices. However, Branagh's Neville is an over-the-top Aryan caricature (Branagh's second most-often typecast role, after the Shakespearian fop) and Noyce's direction has the subtlety of a sledgehammer. We never get the feeling that the kids even find this hard; the film simply takes us from one pointless encounter to another. Not to mention that Noyce seems awfully fond of the POV shot and riddles the film with them. The cinematography is wonderful (and so is the Peter Gabriel score) but the film itself is hardly as engrossing or dramatic as it wishes it was.

Me, Myself and Irene (2000) ***

I went from loving this ("Best Jim Carrey movie ever!") to hating it ("Worst Jim Carrey movie ever!") to being completely neutral. I don't know exactly what prompted both of the above reactions, because as far as both Carrey and the Farrellys go, Me, Myself and Irene is completely and utterly average. Carrey is Charlie Baileygates, a mild-mannered Rhode Island cop who has been repressing his feelings of anger ever since his wife left him for an African-American midget limo driver (Tony Cox), leaving him with three black children whom he continues to believe are his. Then, taken over the edge, Charlie flips out and out comes Hank Evans, an amalgalm of all the feelings Charlie has never let out. Things get even more complicated when Charlie is assigned to escort a young woman named Irene (Renée Zellwegger) and gets embroiled in all of her life's troubles... and obviously falling in love with her... both Charlie and Hank, who battle it out for her love. It's relatively crude humor the entire way through (this being the Farrellys, it's no shock) but it also has heart (hell, this being the Farrellys, it's no shock either). There are pretty much as many jokes that fail as there are jokes that hit the bullseye, but it's always a pleasure to watch Carrey go ballistic in a performance that reminds one of Steve Martin's brilliant turn in All of Me. Carrey's not as good (both characters are essentially Jim Carrey on different settings), but he's still a riot. Props also to Renée Zellwegger (at her loveliest in this and Nurse Betty), who holds her own against Carrey (something that's harder than it sounds).

Quest for Fire (1981) ***

Jean-Jacques Annaud's semi-epic prehistoric man saga Quest for Fire is certainly something we see little of: a gritty, realistic film that tackles the topic of prehistoric men with more seriousness than, say, the Ringo Starr comedy Caveman. It follows three tribesmen (Everett McGill, Ron Perlman and Nameer El-Kadi) who go on a cross-country search to find fire; they eventually meet up with a creepy naked cannibal (Rae Dawn Chong, of all people) who may or may not hold the secret to fire. It's certainly a very interesting take on the subject; it depicts them as animalistic (which is what they were, really) and instinctive... but it makes questionable assumptions, especially regarding sexuality. I honestly doubt that cavemen who go on instinct and primal urges the entire course of the movie are suddenly going to give each other blowjobs and fall in love (not to mention being so fixated on penises). I don't doubt that cavemen had sex; I do doubt, however, that they were such raging nymphos. Not to mention that the cavemen get kind of annoying after a while; by the third time they had a laughing fit because one of them had gotten a rock on the head, I was kinda wondering where all this was going. It seems more suited to a short subject film... or perhaps a segment in a movie about history... or something. The performances are decent, and the film certainly gets props for showing it as it is (or, at the very least, how they assume it is). Plus, it's gotta set a record for the most scenes of prehistoric buttlove in a film.

Clerks (1994) ****

A cult classic among Generation X, Kevin Smith's debut film is typical of many debut films: low-budget, low-key, uneven acting, filled with a desire to cram way too much stuff into one film... but it's so damn funny and well-written that it has more lasting power than, say, Aronofsky's Pi. The film follows a day in the life of Dante, a 22-year-old guy who works as a clerk in a convenience store. Called in on his off-day, Dante must face the usual array of customers, as well as choose between his girlfriend and his ex, visit the wake of a dead friend, play a hockey game and deal with the constant annoyance of his friend Randal, who spends more time goofing off with Dante than working at the next-door video store. It's black-and-white, very low-budget, forcing the film to rely on its script and dialogue... but what a script it is! I've always entertained the notion that Smith is a much better writer than he is a director, and Clerks is probably the best example of this. The script does tend to want to cram too much in (a tendency that first-time directors often have; they may never direct again, so this is their one chance to get this great idea in a movie) which leads to scenes like Silent Bob's cousin Olaf (which, while hilarious, is totally and utterly pointless). The acting is a bit uneven, but considering that most actors made their debut in this film and barely worked after, it's still a decent job. I'm not a huge fan of Smith, but this is undeniably entertaining stuff.

The Magdalene Sisters (2003) **1/2

Disappointed in this one, actually. I heard so much about how brutal and uncompromising it was that it was actually quite disappointing to see that the movie is basically an American prison movie transposed to an Irish convent. It reminds me a bit of Rabbit-Proof Fence in the sense that it's a bleak, harrowing story that's worth telling, but then unfolds like... well, this one kinda plays like Papillon, to be honest. Three young women are taken from their home for promiscuous behavior (one of them has a child, the other is raped by her cousin, the last one does excessive flirting) and sent to live with the Magdalene sisters, who whip the girls, make them wash clothes constantly, ridicule their bodies, etc. Now, this is a horrible, horrible practice... but the film plays more like Girl, Interrupted than anything. Get in, find out how horrible it is, moan and cry and bitch, devise a plan to escape, get caught, devise another plan, etc. There are scenes of great emotional power here... but it all feels way, way too much like a movie. I never really felt the pain; instead I was thinking of what the cast would look like if it was American (Kirsten Dunst as Rose, Scarlett Johanssen as Margaret, Angelina Jolie/Christina Ricci as Bernadette, with someone like Kathy Bates or Susan Sarandon as the head nurse and Sean Astin as that guy that keeps coming in for various reasons). It's just an arthouse movie for the masses; the kind of movie mildly intelligent housewives go out and see and then cry at the end of, when in fact it's exactly the same damn thing as a prison escape movie.

Rabbit-Proof Fence
½

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) **1/2

Ever notice how hack directors sometimes feel that they must do penance to the filmmaking god by going out and making a small movie? Phillip Noyce is one of those hacks... and Rabbit-Proof Fence is one of those movies. Noyce is not completely devoid of talent: his 'The Quiet American' is actually a rather good film (and apparently a fluke). Unfortunately, years of making explosive spy thrillers and movies with Sharon Stone have apparently rendered Noyce incapable of any sort of subtlety. This story of three Aboriginal children who are taken away from their family by the government and escape back home is so truncated and telegraphed that it almost makes you yearn for those Disney movies where a child (usually accompanied by his trusty animal) must make the trek back home. They are tracked by Mr. Neville (Kenneth Branagh), the administrator of the aboriginal relocation policies, who wants to get rid of half-breed aboriginals. The story at the film's core is a good one; there'S certainly a good film to be made from these racist practices. However, Branagh's Neville is an over-the-top Aryan caricature (Branagh's second most-often typecast role, after the Shakespearian fop) and Noyce's direction has the subtlety of a sledgehammer. We never get the feeling that the kids even find this hard; the film simply takes us from one pointless encounter to another. Not to mention that Noyce seems awfully fond of the POV shot and riddles the film with them. The cinematography is wonderful (and so is the Peter Gabriel score) but the film itself is hardly as engrossing or dramatic as it wishes it was.

Me, Myself and Irene (2000) ***

I went from loving this ("Best Jim Carrey movie ever!") to hating it ("Worst Jim Carrey movie ever!") to being completely neutral. I don't know exactly what prompted both of the above reactions, because as far as both Carrey and the Farrellys go, Me, Myself and Irene is completely and utterly average. Carrey is Charlie Baileygates, a mild-mannered Rhode Island cop who has been repressing his feelings of anger ever since his wife left him for an African-American midget limo driver (Tony Cox), leaving him with three black children whom he continues to believe are his. Then, taken over the edge, Charlie flips out and out comes Hank Evans, an amalgalm of all the feelings Charlie has never let out. Things get even more complicated when Charlie is assigned to escort a young woman named Irene (Renée Zellwegger) and gets embroiled in all of her life's troubles... and obviously falling in love with her... both Charlie and Hank, who battle it out for her love. It's relatively crude humor the entire way through (this being the Farrellys, it's no shock) but it also has heart (hell, this being the Farrellys, it's no shock either). There are pretty much as many jokes that fail as there are jokes that hit the bullseye, but it's always a pleasure to watch Carrey go ballistic in a performance that reminds one of Steve Martin's brilliant turn in All of Me. Carrey's not as good (both characters are essentially Jim Carrey on different settings), but he's still a riot. Props also to Renée Zellwegger (at her loveliest in this and Nurse Betty), who holds her own against Carrey (something that's harder than it sounds).

Quest for Fire (1981) ***

Jean-Jacques Annaud's semi-epic prehistoric man saga Quest for Fire is certainly something we see little of: a gritty, realistic film that tackles the topic of prehistoric men with more seriousness than, say, the Ringo Starr comedy Caveman. It follows three tribesmen (Everett McGill, Ron Perlman and Nameer El-Kadi) who go on a cross-country search to find fire; they eventually meet up with a creepy naked cannibal (Rae Dawn Chong, of all people) who may or may not hold the secret to fire. It's certainly a very interesting take on the subject; it depicts them as animalistic (which is what they were, really) and instinctive... but it makes questionable assumptions, especially regarding sexuality. I honestly doubt that cavemen who go on instinct and primal urges the entire course of the movie are suddenly going to give each other blowjobs and fall in love (not to mention being so fixated on penises). I don't doubt that cavemen had sex; I do doubt, however, that they were such raging nymphos. Not to mention that the cavemen get kind of annoying after a while; by the third time they had a laughing fit because one of them had gotten a rock on the head, I was kinda wondering where all this was going. It seems more suited to a short subject film... or perhaps a segment in a movie about history... or something. The performances are decent, and the film certainly gets props for showing it as it is (or, at the very least, how they assume it is). Plus, it's gotta set a record for the most scenes of prehistoric buttlove in a film.

Clerks (1994) ****

A cult classic among Generation X, Kevin Smith's debut film is typical of many debut films: low-budget, low-key, uneven acting, filled with a desire to cram way too much stuff into one film... but it's so damn funny and well-written that it has more lasting power than, say, Aronofsky's Pi. The film follows a day in the life of Dante, a 22-year-old guy who works as a clerk in a convenience store. Called in on his off-day, Dante must face the usual array of customers, as well as choose between his girlfriend and his ex, visit the wake of a dead friend, play a hockey game and deal with the constant annoyance of his friend Randal, who spends more time goofing off with Dante than working at the next-door video store. It's black-and-white, very low-budget, forcing the film to rely on its script and dialogue... but what a script it is! I've always entertained the notion that Smith is a much better writer than he is a director, and Clerks is probably the best example of this. The script does tend to want to cram too much in (a tendency that first-time directors often have; they may never direct again, so this is their one chance to get this great idea in a movie) which leads to scenes like Silent Bob's cousin Olaf (which, while hilarious, is totally and utterly pointless). The acting is a bit uneven, but considering that most actors made their debut in this film and barely worked after, it's still a decent job. I'm not a huge fan of Smith, but this is undeniably entertaining stuff.

The Magdalene Sisters (2003) **1/2

Disappointed in this one, actually. I heard so much about how brutal and uncompromising it was that it was actually quite disappointing to see that the movie is basically an American prison movie transposed to an Irish convent. It reminds me a bit of Rabbit-Proof Fence in the sense that it's a bleak, harrowing story that's worth telling, but then unfolds like... well, this one kinda plays like Papillon, to be honest. Three young women are taken from their home for promiscuous behavior (one of them has a child, the other is raped by her cousin, the last one does excessive flirting) and sent to live with the Magdalene sisters, who whip the girls, make them wash clothes constantly, ridicule their bodies, etc. Now, this is a horrible, horrible practice... but the film plays more like Girl, Interrupted than anything. Get in, find out how horrible it is, moan and cry and bitch, devise a plan to escape, get caught, devise another plan, etc. There are scenes of great emotional power here... but it all feels way, way too much like a movie. I never really felt the pain; instead I was thinking of what the cast would look like if it was American (Kirsten Dunst as Rose, Scarlett Johanssen as Margaret, Angelina Jolie/Christina Ricci as Bernadette, with someone like Kathy Bates or Susan Sarandon as the head nurse and Sean Astin as that guy that keeps coming in for various reasons). It's just an arthouse movie for the masses; the kind of movie mildly intelligent housewives go out and see and then cry at the end of, when in fact it's exactly the same damn thing as a prison escape movie.

A Better Tomorrow
½

Heaven (2002) ***1/2

Talk about international filmmaking: Here we have an Australian lead actress, an American lead actor, an Italian cast, a German director directing from a script by a Polish writer... all of which is done in Italian and English. Cate Blanchett plays a schoolteacher who plants a bomb in the office of a man whom she suspects of selling drugs (to her own husband, who OD'd, and to her students); instead of killing the man, the bomb blows up in the elevator, killing four innocents. Arrested by the Turin police, Phillippa meets a young officer named Fillipo (Giovanni Ribisi) who plans her escape. Despite a plot that points towards half-baked thriller, Heaven is a slow, deliberate drama that owes more to the works of Kieslowski (who directed the Trois Couleurs trilogy) than to Twyker's usual hyperkinetic style. The film is frequently beautiful and although it eventually does bog down in heavy symbolism (especially towards the end), it remains a powerful film. It doesn't quite end the way it should... and it's not always as captivating as it seems to think it is, but it tells a good story and has great actors to back it up (Blanchett is especially great, unsurprisingly). This was intended as part of a trilogy that would also include Hell and Purgatory... but if this is heaven, I wouldn't want to see Hell.

All of Me (1984) ****

Steve Martin out-flails Jim Carrey in this hugely entertaining comedy from Carl Reiner. Martin plays a lawyer who is sent to work with a dying millionairess (Lily Tomlin) who plans to use the skills of a bedfuddled fakir (Richard Libertini) to transplant her soul into the healthy, supple body of Victoria Tennant. Through a mixup, however, she ends up taking hold of half of Martin's body and Martin must now cope with his emerging "feminine side" as well as her conscience. Despite the wildly ludicrous set-up (typical of films of the era), All of Me is actually an incredibly funny film that showcases Martin as a physical actor (something that's rarely been done) but also has plenty of heart to go around. Martin is practically the whole show here, going absolutely all-out in a superb comic performance that will undoubtedly bring to mind Jim Carrey. But where Carrey's flailings seem wildly over-the-top (and don't get me wrong, I love Carrey), Martin has a more "natural" (if such a thing can be said) approach to the role. Tomlin gives sterling support in a role that's mostly voice acting, but she pulls it off very well. It's not too different from other films of the era: it's a bit close-minded, its concept is, from a logical standpoint, absurd, and it has all the trappings of any 80'S comedy... but Martin and Tomlin pull it off with such charm that it's hard not to fall for it.

Comedian (2002) ***

Uneven documentary follows a year in the life of two standup comedians on both ends of the spectrum: Jerry Seinfeld, the biggest name in the business, and Orny Adams, an up-and-comer. It's basically a collage of interview footage, bits and pieces of performances, TV appearances, etc. which is a bit off-putting at first. The lack of any narration, title cards or any sort of directing line confuses at first, but the film soon takes its course. Adams is another problem; he's an asshole. Although the film will undeniably be skewed towards Seinfeld (he's a huge star... AND he produced), Seinfeld seems like a sympathetic kind of guy. Adams, on the other hand, is an immature, egocentric little shit who spends the entire movie telling everyone how great he is and doing second-rate standup comedy. The film oftens screeches to a dead halt whenever he's on-screen. Seinfeld is more interesting (and more tidied up, I suppose) and more charismatic, as well as... well, more human. Orny Adams feels like a sitcom parody. Being a video-to-35mm transfer, the film looks like crap... but there's some decent stuff here and there. Unless you're really interested or a fan of Seinfeld, however, I can safely say that you can pass this up and not regret it.

A Better Tomorrow (1987) ***1/2

The first of John Woo's films to give him worldwide recognition, A Better Tomorrow is a sometimes-sloppy, sometimes-brilliant action film that showcases Woo's flair for action... if hardly anything else. The plot is the typical HK loyalty-n-guns story: an ex-gangster tries to reconcile with his estranged brother, a policeman, but finds the life sucking him back in. It's certainly more wobbly that Woo's subsequent HK pictures: the actions scenes aren't quite as stylish or coherent as his subsequent films, and the plot drops in the background for a long time. It does, however, boast great performances from Tung Li, Leslie Chung and especially Chow Yun-Fat and a definite flair for cool that undoubtedly inspired Tarantino and the Wachowski brothers. It's not any more comprehensible than most of the films offered by the Woo-Hark team... but it's just as watchable.

The Devil's Backbone (2001) ***1/2

Engrossing thriller from Guillermo Del Toro about a young boy who is sent to an orphanage during the Spanish civil war. There he is faced with bullying from the other boys, the constant appearance of a ghost-like little boy and the antics of the violent caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega). I was actually expecting the ghost angle to have a bigger part in the film, considering that the film is marketed as a straight-up ghost story. Instead, the film is a more traditional "adventure" tale that just happens to have supernatural elements. It's nothing fancy; just good old-fashioned solid storytelling... and this part it pulls off rather well. As far as emotion goes, the director finds himself less capable of handling that type of material; scenes between the old Professor and the headmistress (which are supposed to be emotional) come off as rather cold. The special effects (there are very few, but still) are rather shoddy, too... but it tells a gripping enough story that the incredibly lame digital explosions won't bring down the power of a well-told tale.

The Devil's Backbone (El Espinazo del diablo)
½

Heaven (2002) ***1/2

Talk about international filmmaking: Here we have an Australian lead actress, an American lead actor, an Italian cast, a German director directing from a script by a Polish writer... all of which is done in Italian and English. Cate Blanchett plays a schoolteacher who plants a bomb in the office of a man whom she suspects of selling drugs (to her own husband, who OD'd, and to her students); instead of killing the man, the bomb blows up in the elevator, killing four innocents. Arrested by the Turin police, Phillippa meets a young officer named Fillipo (Giovanni Ribisi) who plans her escape. Despite a plot that points towards half-baked thriller, Heaven is a slow, deliberate drama that owes more to the works of Kieslowski (who directed the Trois Couleurs trilogy) than to Twyker's usual hyperkinetic style. The film is frequently beautiful and although it eventually does bog down in heavy symbolism (especially towards the end), it remains a powerful film. It doesn't quite end the way it should... and it's not always as captivating as it seems to think it is, but it tells a good story and has great actors to back it up (Blanchett is especially great, unsurprisingly). This was intended as part of a trilogy that would also include Hell and Purgatory... but if this is heaven, I wouldn't want to see Hell.

All of Me (1984) ****

Steve Martin out-flails Jim Carrey in this hugely entertaining comedy from Carl Reiner. Martin plays a lawyer who is sent to work with a dying millionairess (Lily Tomlin) who plans to use the skills of a bedfuddled fakir (Richard Libertini) to transplant her soul into the healthy, supple body of Victoria Tennant. Through a mixup, however, she ends up taking hold of half of Martin's body and Martin must now cope with his emerging "feminine side" as well as her conscience. Despite the wildly ludicrous set-up (typical of films of the era), All of Me is actually an incredibly funny film that showcases Martin as a physical actor (something that's rarely been done) but also has plenty of heart to go around. Martin is practically the whole show here, going absolutely all-out in a superb comic performance that will undoubtedly bring to mind Jim Carrey. But where Carrey's flailings seem wildly over-the-top (and don't get me wrong, I love Carrey), Martin has a more "natural" (if such a thing can be said) approach to the role. Tomlin gives sterling support in a role that's mostly voice acting, but she pulls it off very well. It's not too different from other films of the era: it's a bit close-minded, its concept is, from a logical standpoint, absurd, and it has all the trappings of any 80'S comedy... but Martin and Tomlin pull it off with such charm that it's hard not to fall for it.

Comedian (2002) ***

Uneven documentary follows a year in the life of two standup comedians on both ends of the spectrum: Jerry Seinfeld, the biggest name in the business, and Orny Adams, an up-and-comer. It's basically a collage of interview footage, bits and pieces of performances, TV appearances, etc. which is a bit off-putting at first. The lack of any narration, title cards or any sort of directing line confuses at first, but the film soon takes its course. Adams is another problem; he's an asshole. Although the film will undeniably be skewed towards Seinfeld (he's a huge star... AND he produced), Seinfeld seems like a sympathetic kind of guy. Adams, on the other hand, is an immature, egocentric little shit who spends the entire movie telling everyone how great he is and doing second-rate standup comedy. The film oftens screeches to a dead halt whenever he's on-screen. Seinfeld is more interesting (and more tidied up, I suppose) and more charismatic, as well as... well, more human. Orny Adams feels like a sitcom parody. Being a video-to-35mm transfer, the film looks like crap... but there's some decent stuff here and there. Unless you're really interested or a fan of Seinfeld, however, I can safely say that you can pass this up and not regret it.

A Better Tomorrow (1987) ***1/2

The first of John Woo's films to give him worldwide recognition, A Better Tomorrow is a sometimes-sloppy, sometimes-brilliant action film that showcases Woo's flair for action... if hardly anything else. The plot is the typical HK loyalty-n-guns story: an ex-gangster tries to reconcile with his estranged brother, a policeman, but finds the life sucking him back in. It's certainly more wobbly that Woo's subsequent HK pictures: the actions scenes aren't quite as stylish or coherent as his subsequent films, and the plot drops in the background for a long time. It does, however, boast great performances from Tung Li, Leslie Chung and especially Chow Yun-Fat and a definite flair for cool that undoubtedly inspired Tarantino and the Wachowski brothers. It's not any more comprehensible than most of the films offered by the Woo-Hark team... but it's just as watchable.

The Devil's Backbone (2001) ***1/2

Engrossing thriller from Guillermo Del Toro about a young boy who is sent to an orphanage during the Spanish civil war. There he is faced with bullying from the other boys, the constant appearance of a ghost-like little boy and the antics of the violent caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega). I was actually expecting the ghost angle to have a bigger part in the film, considering that the film is marketed as a straight-up ghost story. Instead, the film is a more traditional "adventure" tale that just happens to have supernatural elements. It's nothing fancy; just good old-fashioned solid storytelling... and this part it pulls off rather well. As far as emotion goes, the director finds himself less capable of handling that type of material; scenes between the old Professor and the headmistress (which are supposed to be emotional) come off as rather cold. The special effects (there are very few, but still) are rather shoddy, too... but it tells a gripping enough story that the incredibly lame digital explosions won't bring down the power of a well-told tale.

Heaven
Heaven(2002)
½

Heaven (2002) ***1/2

Talk about international filmmaking: Here we have an Australian lead actress, an American lead actor, an Italian cast, a German director directing from a script by a Polish writer... all of which is done in Italian and English. Cate Blanchett plays a schoolteacher who plants a bomb in the office of a man whom she suspects of selling drugs (to her own husband, who OD'd, and to her students); instead of killing the man, the bomb blows up in the elevator, killing four innocents. Arrested by the Turin police, Phillippa meets a young officer named Fillipo (Giovanni Ribisi) who plans her escape. Despite a plot that points towards half-baked thriller, Heaven is a slow, deliberate drama that owes more to the works of Kieslowski (who directed the Trois Couleurs trilogy) than to Twyker's usual hyperkinetic style. The film is frequently beautiful and although it eventually does bog down in heavy symbolism (especially towards the end), it remains a powerful film. It doesn't quite end the way it should... and it's not always as captivating as it seems to think it is, but it tells a good story and has great actors to back it up (Blanchett is especially great, unsurprisingly). This was intended as part of a trilogy that would also include Hell and Purgatory... but if this is heaven, I wouldn't want to see Hell.

All of Me (1984) ****

Steve Martin out-flails Jim Carrey in this hugely entertaining comedy from Carl Reiner. Martin plays a lawyer who is sent to work with a dying millionairess (Lily Tomlin) who plans to use the skills of a bedfuddled fakir (Richard Libertini) to transplant her soul into the healthy, supple body of Victoria Tennant. Through a mixup, however, she ends up taking hold of half of Martin's body and Martin must now cope with his emerging "feminine side" as well as her conscience. Despite the wildly ludicrous set-up (typical of films of the era), All of Me is actually an incredibly funny film that showcases Martin as a physical actor (something that's rarely been done) but also has plenty of heart to go around. Martin is practically the whole show here, going absolutely all-out in a superb comic performance that will undoubtedly bring to mind Jim Carrey. But where Carrey's flailings seem wildly over-the-top (and don't get me wrong, I love Carrey), Martin has a more "natural" (if such a thing can be said) approach to the role. Tomlin gives sterling support in a role that's mostly voice acting, but she pulls it off very well. It's not too different from other films of the era: it's a bit close-minded, its concept is, from a logical standpoint, absurd, and it has all the trappings of any 80'S comedy... but Martin and Tomlin pull it off with such charm that it's hard not to fall for it.

Comedian (2002) ***

Uneven documentary follows a year in the life of two standup comedians on both ends of the spectrum: Jerry Seinfeld, the biggest name in the business, and Orny Adams, an up-and-comer. It's basically a collage of interview footage, bits and pieces of performances, TV appearances, etc. which is a bit off-putting at first. The lack of any narration, title cards or any sort of directing line confuses at first, but the film soon takes its course. Adams is another problem; he's an asshole. Although the film will undeniably be skewed towards Seinfeld (he's a huge star... AND he produced), Seinfeld seems like a sympathetic kind of guy. Adams, on the other hand, is an immature, egocentric little shit who spends the entire movie telling everyone how great he is and doing second-rate standup comedy. The film oftens screeches to a dead halt whenever he's on-screen. Seinfeld is more interesting (and more tidied up, I suppose) and more charismatic, as well as... well, more human. Orny Adams feels like a sitcom parody. Being a video-to-35mm transfer, the film looks like crap... but there's some decent stuff here and there. Unless you're really interested or a fan of Seinfeld, however, I can safely say that you can pass this up and not regret it.

A Better Tomorrow (1987) ***1/2

The first of John Woo's films to give him worldwide recognition, A Better Tomorrow is a sometimes-sloppy, sometimes-brilliant action film that showcases Woo's flair for action... if hardly anything else. The plot is the typical HK loyalty-n-guns story: an ex-gangster tries to reconcile with his estranged brother, a policeman, but finds the life sucking him back in. It's certainly more wobbly that Woo's subsequent HK pictures: the actions scenes aren't quite as stylish or coherent as his subsequent films, and the plot drops in the background for a long time. It does, however, boast great performances from Tung Li, Leslie Chung and especially Chow Yun-Fat and a definite flair for cool that undoubtedly inspired Tarantino and the Wachowski brothers. It's not any more comprehensible than most of the films offered by the Woo-Hark team... but it's just as watchable.

The Devil's Backbone (2001) ***1/2

Engrossing thriller from Guillermo Del Toro about a young boy who is sent to an orphanage during the Spanish civil war. There he is faced with bullying from the other boys, the constant appearance of a ghost-like little boy and the antics of the violent caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega). I was actually expecting the ghost angle to have a bigger part in the film, considering that the film is marketed as a straight-up ghost story. Instead, the film is a more traditional "adventure" tale that just happens to have supernatural elements. It's nothing fancy; just good old-fashioned solid storytelling... and this part it pulls off rather well. As far as emotion goes, the director finds himself less capable of handling that type of material; scenes between the old Professor and the headmistress (which are supposed to be emotional) come off as rather cold. The special effects (there are very few, but still) are rather shoddy, too... but it tells a gripping enough story that the incredibly lame digital explosions won't bring down the power of a well-told tale.

Comedian
Comedian(2002)

Heaven (2002) ***1/2

Talk about international filmmaking: Here we have an Australian lead actress, an American lead actor, an Italian cast, a German director directing from a script by a Polish writer... all of which is done in Italian and English. Cate Blanchett plays a schoolteacher who plants a bomb in the office of a man whom she suspects of selling drugs (to her own husband, who OD'd, and to her students); instead of killing the man, the bomb blows up in the elevator, killing four innocents. Arrested by the Turin police, Phillippa meets a young officer named Fillipo (Giovanni Ribisi) who plans her escape. Despite a plot that points towards half-baked thriller, Heaven is a slow, deliberate drama that owes more to the works of Kieslowski (who directed the Trois Couleurs trilogy) than to Twyker's usual hyperkinetic style. The film is frequently beautiful and although it eventually does bog down in heavy symbolism (especially towards the end), it remains a powerful film. It doesn't quite end the way it should... and it's not always as captivating as it seems to think it is, but it tells a good story and has great actors to back it up (Blanchett is especially great, unsurprisingly). This was intended as part of a trilogy that would also include Hell and Purgatory... but if this is heaven, I wouldn't want to see Hell.

All of Me (1984) ****

Steve Martin out-flails Jim Carrey in this hugely entertaining comedy from Carl Reiner. Martin plays a lawyer who is sent to work with a dying millionairess (Lily Tomlin) who plans to use the skills of a bedfuddled fakir (Richard Libertini) to transplant her soul into the healthy, supple body of Victoria Tennant. Through a mixup, however, she ends up taking hold of half of Martin's body and Martin must now cope with his emerging "feminine side" as well as her conscience. Despite the wildly ludicrous set-up (typical of films of the era), All of Me is actually an incredibly funny film that showcases Martin as a physical actor (something that's rarely been done) but also has plenty of heart to go around. Martin is practically the whole show here, going absolutely all-out in a superb comic performance that will undoubtedly bring to mind Jim Carrey. But where Carrey's flailings seem wildly over-the-top (and don't get me wrong, I love Carrey), Martin has a more "natural" (if such a thing can be said) approach to the role. Tomlin gives sterling support in a role that's mostly voice acting, but she pulls it off very well. It's not too different from other films of the era: it's a bit close-minded, its concept is, from a logical standpoint, absurd, and it has all the trappings of any 80'S comedy... but Martin and Tomlin pull it off with such charm that it's hard not to fall for it.

Comedian (2002) ***

Uneven documentary follows a year in the life of two standup comedians on both ends of the spectrum: Jerry Seinfeld, the biggest name in the business, and Orny Adams, an up-and-comer. It's basically a collage of interview footage, bits and pieces of performances, TV appearances, etc. which is a bit off-putting at first. The lack of any narration, title cards or any sort of directing line confuses at first, but the film soon takes its course. Adams is another problem; he's an asshole. Although the film will undeniably be skewed towards Seinfeld (he's a huge star... AND he produced), Seinfeld seems like a sympathetic kind of guy. Adams, on the other hand, is an immature, egocentric little shit who spends the entire movie telling everyone how great he is and doing second-rate standup comedy. The film oftens screeches to a dead halt whenever he's on-screen. Seinfeld is more interesting (and more tidied up, I suppose) and more charismatic, as well as... well, more human. Orny Adams feels like a sitcom parody. Being a video-to-35mm transfer, the film looks like crap... but there's some decent stuff here and there. Unless you're really interested or a fan of Seinfeld, however, I can safely say that you can pass this up and not regret it.

A Better Tomorrow (1987) ***1/2

The first of John Woo's films to give him worldwide recognition, A Better Tomorrow is a sometimes-sloppy, sometimes-brilliant action film that showcases Woo's flair for action... if hardly anything else. The plot is the typical HK loyalty-n-guns story: an ex-gangster tries to reconcile with his estranged brother, a policeman, but finds the life sucking him back in. It's certainly more wobbly that Woo's subsequent HK pictures: the actions scenes aren't quite as stylish or coherent as his subsequent films, and the plot drops in the background for a long time. It does, however, boast great performances from Tung Li, Leslie Chung and especially Chow Yun-Fat and a definite flair for cool that undoubtedly inspired Tarantino and the Wachowski brothers. It's not any more comprehensible than most of the films offered by the Woo-Hark team... but it's just as watchable.

The Devil's Backbone (2001) ***1/2

Engrossing thriller from Guillermo Del Toro about a young boy who is sent to an orphanage during the Spanish civil war. There he is faced with bullying from the other boys, the constant appearance of a ghost-like little boy and the antics of the violent caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega). I was actually expecting the ghost angle to have a bigger part in the film, considering that the film is marketed as a straight-up ghost story. Instead, the film is a more traditional "adventure" tale that just happens to have supernatural elements. It's nothing fancy; just good old-fashioned solid storytelling... and this part it pulls off rather well. As far as emotion goes, the director finds himself less capable of handling that type of material; scenes between the old Professor and the headmistress (which are supposed to be emotional) come off as rather cold. The special effects (there are very few, but still) are rather shoddy, too... but it tells a gripping enough story that the incredibly lame digital explosions won't bring down the power of a well-told tale.

All of Me
All of Me(1984)

Heaven (2002) ***1/2

Talk about international filmmaking: Here we have an Australian lead actress, an American lead actor, an Italian cast, a German director directing from a script by a Polish writer... all of which is done in Italian and English. Cate Blanchett plays a schoolteacher who plants a bomb in the office of a man whom she suspects of selling drugs (to her own husband, who OD'd, and to her students); instead of killing the man, the bomb blows up in the elevator, killing four innocents. Arrested by the Turin police, Phillippa meets a young officer named Fillipo (Giovanni Ribisi) who plans her escape. Despite a plot that points towards half-baked thriller, Heaven is a slow, deliberate drama that owes more to the works of Kieslowski (who directed the Trois Couleurs trilogy) than to Twyker's usual hyperkinetic style. The film is frequently beautiful and although it eventually does bog down in heavy symbolism (especially towards the end), it remains a powerful film. It doesn't quite end the way it should... and it's not always as captivating as it seems to think it is, but it tells a good story and has great actors to back it up (Blanchett is especially great, unsurprisingly). This was intended as part of a trilogy that would also include Hell and Purgatory... but if this is heaven, I wouldn't want to see Hell.

All of Me (1984) ****

Steve Martin out-flails Jim Carrey in this hugely entertaining comedy from Carl Reiner. Martin plays a lawyer who is sent to work with a dying millionairess (Lily Tomlin) who plans to use the skills of a bedfuddled fakir (Richard Libertini) to transplant her soul into the healthy, supple body of Victoria Tennant. Through a mixup, however, she ends up taking hold of half of Martin's body and Martin must now cope with his emerging "feminine side" as well as her conscience. Despite the wildly ludicrous set-up (typical of films of the era), All of Me is actually an incredibly funny film that showcases Martin as a physical actor (something that's rarely been done) but also has plenty of heart to go around. Martin is practically the whole show here, going absolutely all-out in a superb comic performance that will undoubtedly bring to mind Jim Carrey. But where Carrey's flailings seem wildly over-the-top (and don't get me wrong, I love Carrey), Martin has a more "natural" (if such a thing can be said) approach to the role. Tomlin gives sterling support in a role that's mostly voice acting, but she pulls it off very well. It's not too different from other films of the era: it's a bit close-minded, its concept is, from a logical standpoint, absurd, and it has all the trappings of any 80'S comedy... but Martin and Tomlin pull it off with such charm that it's hard not to fall for it.

Comedian (2002) ***

Uneven documentary follows a year in the life of two standup comedians on both ends of the spectrum: Jerry Seinfeld, the biggest name in the business, and Orny Adams, an up-and-comer. It's basically a collage of interview footage, bits and pieces of performances, TV appearances, etc. which is a bit off-putting at first. The lack of any narration, title cards or any sort of directing line confuses at first, but the film soon takes its course. Adams is another problem; he's an asshole. Although the film will undeniably be skewed towards Seinfeld (he's a huge star... AND he produced), Seinfeld seems like a sympathetic kind of guy. Adams, on the other hand, is an immature, egocentric little shit who spends the entire movie telling everyone how great he is and doing second-rate standup comedy. The film oftens screeches to a dead halt whenever he's on-screen. Seinfeld is more interesting (and more tidied up, I suppose) and more charismatic, as well as... well, more human. Orny Adams feels like a sitcom parody. Being a video-to-35mm transfer, the film looks like crap... but there's some decent stuff here and there. Unless you're really interested or a fan of Seinfeld, however, I can safely say that you can pass this up and not regret it.

A Better Tomorrow (1987) ***1/2

The first of John Woo's films to give him worldwide recognition, A Better Tomorrow is a sometimes-sloppy, sometimes-brilliant action film that showcases Woo's flair for action... if hardly anything else. The plot is the typical HK loyalty-n-guns story: an ex-gangster tries to reconcile with his estranged brother, a policeman, but finds the life sucking him back in. It's certainly more wobbly that Woo's subsequent HK pictures: the actions scenes aren't quite as stylish or coherent as his subsequent films, and the plot drops in the background for a long time. It does, however, boast great performances from Tung Li, Leslie Chung and especially Chow Yun-Fat and a definite flair for cool that undoubtedly inspired Tarantino and the Wachowski brothers. It's not any more comprehensible than most of the films offered by the Woo-Hark team... but it's just as watchable.

The Devil's Backbone (2001) ***1/2

Engrossing thriller from Guillermo Del Toro about a young boy who is sent to an orphanage during the Spanish civil war. There he is faced with bullying from the other boys, the constant appearance of a ghost-like little boy and the antics of the violent caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega). I was actually expecting the ghost angle to have a bigger part in the film, considering that the film is marketed as a straight-up ghost story. Instead, the film is a more traditional "adventure" tale that just happens to have supernatural elements. It's nothing fancy; just good old-fashioned solid storytelling... and this part it pulls off rather well. As far as emotion goes, the director finds himself less capable of handling that type of material; scenes between the old Professor and the headmistress (which are supposed to be emotional) come off as rather cold. The special effects (there are very few, but still) are rather shoddy, too... but it tells a gripping enough story that the incredibly lame digital explosions won't bring down the power of a well-told tale.

The Trip
The Trip(1967)

(No, not the crappy band.)

The Trip (1967) ***

Mildly disappointing LSD flick from the Corman factory written by Jack Nicholson. Peter Fonda is the TV ad director who decides to go on an acid trip, guided by his friend Bruce Dern. Cue a lot of psychedelic light effects, incessant cuts, gratuitous Dennis Hopper and a lot of paranoid freaking out. Frankly, unless you?re on acid yourself, the film becomes rather redundant after a while; despite only being an hour and twenty minutes long, it feels interminable. The cast (which also includes Susan Strasberg in a thankless role as Fonda?s ex-wife, who he keeps hallucinating about) do their best, but it?s obvious (despite the cheesy, tacked-on message at the beginning of the film) that the movie was made for people who were stoned. It doesn?t quite have the peculiar charm of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which suffered from a similar fate, but was strangely entertaining and simultaneously headache-inducing) nor does it work too well as a coherent story. It?s still not a bad movie; it?s pretty well-made in spite of all this, and it certainly seems realistic (Fonda, Nicholson, Corman and Dern all did some ?research? before shooting) but that doesn?t help it much.

Dirty Pretty Things (2003) ***1/2

Captivating (though flawed) study of a Nigerian exile named Okwe (Chiwetel Eijofor) who lives in London, dividing his time between jobs as a cabbie and hotel receptionist. He finds a human heart in a toilet and uncovers a organ-trafficking ring that?s being led by none other than his greasy boss (Sergi Lopez). The thing is, he particularly targets immigrants, refugees and illegal aliens? including Senay (Audrey Tautou), the young Turkish woman with whom Okwe shares an apartment. Very compelling story is well-presented by director Stephen Frears and superbly-acted by the cast, but shy away from the film?s core and problems soon arise. The supporting characters are rather one-dimensional (none more so that the traditional hooker with a heart of gold or the two maniacal Immigration cops, one of whom even has a mustache that just begs to be twirled) and when the film hits its first ?twist?, it becomes relatively easy to see where the movie is going.

City of Joy (1992) ***

Passable mini-epic set in Calcutta stars Patrick Swayze as a selfish American doctor who has a young patient die on him and decides to go find himself in Calcutta. There he meets a farmer (Om Puri), new to the city, who eventually becomes a rickshaw driver. Meanwhile, Swayze builds a free clinic and a big fat evil guy makes the rickshaw man?s life hell. The rickshaw story is ten times more interesting than anything Swayze ever does in the movie; if Swayze was anywhere near decent as a actor, this would be forgivable? but seeing as how he is one of the most boring actors I?ve seen, it makes the dullness of the storyline twice as infuriating. Puri is much, much better and his storyline is actually much more entertaining. This is the kind of epic-lite that makes for passable viewing in a class where anything else would be much, much more boring.

12 Angry Men (1957) *****

A deceptively simple concept: 12 jurors, one room and one decision to make. It's the kind of premise that makes for a good little potboiler... but the fanatical attention to detail present in Reginald Rose's script and the intensity of the performances (coupled with Lumet's airtight direction) raise this well above a simple B-movie whodunit. Henry Fonda is Juror #8, assigned (with eleven other men) to the murder case of a young man who is accused of killing his father. #8 is the only one who believes that the young man is not guilty, and he sets out to get everyone to change their mind. Completely airtight in its development, the film builds suspense with nothing but character development and dialogue. The top-notch cast (besides Fonda, the film also stars Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman and a handful of other venerable character actors) makes this the best film of its type; many have tried to follow in its footsteps... but few have achieved what this has.

Lost in La Mancha (2003) ***1/2

Originally intended as a DVD extra, this documentary documents the short, troubled production of Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote". The film follows an eager Gilliam through pre-production as he secures the cast (Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort, Vanessa Paradis) and sets up his pet project, an overly ambitious fantasy he has been planning for ten years. As they draw closer to the first shooting day, however, problem after problem befalls the production: the soundstage is horrible, Rochefort gets sick, the weather is so awful that shooting cannot be continued. Lost in La Mancha is a fascinating film because there rarely are making-of movies for movies that never get made. It'S interesting to see how it works when it doesn't work... but the film remains a glorified DVD extra, glossing over certain aspects of the film and devoting too much time to footage of the filmmakers sitting around wondering what to do. Ironically, the minimal amounts of footage that were shot are tantalizing... but unlike DVD extras, you'll never see the movie.

12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men)

(No, not the crappy band.)

The Trip (1967) ***

Mildly disappointing LSD flick from the Corman factory written by Jack Nicholson. Peter Fonda is the TV ad director who decides to go on an acid trip, guided by his friend Bruce Dern. Cue a lot of psychedelic light effects, incessant cuts, gratuitous Dennis Hopper and a lot of paranoid freaking out. Frankly, unless you?re on acid yourself, the film becomes rather redundant after a while; despite only being an hour and twenty minutes long, it feels interminable. The cast (which also includes Susan Strasberg in a thankless role as Fonda?s ex-wife, who he keeps hallucinating about) do their best, but it?s obvious (despite the cheesy, tacked-on message at the beginning of the film) that the movie was made for people who were stoned. It doesn?t quite have the peculiar charm of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which suffered from a similar fate, but was strangely entertaining and simultaneously headache-inducing) nor does it work too well as a coherent story. It?s still not a bad movie; it?s pretty well-made in spite of all this, and it certainly seems realistic (Fonda, Nicholson, Corman and Dern all did some ?research? before shooting) but that doesn?t help it much.

Dirty Pretty Things (2003) ***1/2

Captivating (though flawed) study of a Nigerian exile named Okwe (Chiwetel Eijofor) who lives in London, dividing his time between jobs as a cabbie and hotel receptionist. He finds a human heart in a toilet and uncovers a organ-trafficking ring that?s being led by none other than his greasy boss (Sergi Lopez). The thing is, he particularly targets immigrants, refugees and illegal aliens? including Senay (Audrey Tautou), the young Turkish woman with whom Okwe shares an apartment. Very compelling story is well-presented by director Stephen Frears and superbly-acted by the cast, but shy away from the film?s core and problems soon arise. The supporting characters are rather one-dimensional (none more so that the traditional hooker with a heart of gold or the two maniacal Immigration cops, one of whom even has a mustache that just begs to be twirled) and when the film hits its first ?twist?, it becomes relatively easy to see where the movie is going.

City of Joy (1992) ***

Passable mini-epic set in Calcutta stars Patrick Swayze as a selfish American doctor who has a young patient die on him and decides to go find himself in Calcutta. There he meets a farmer (Om Puri), new to the city, who eventually becomes a rickshaw driver. Meanwhile, Swayze builds a free clinic and a big fat evil guy makes the rickshaw man?s life hell. The rickshaw story is ten times more interesting than anything Swayze ever does in the movie; if Swayze was anywhere near decent as a actor, this would be forgivable? but seeing as how he is one of the most boring actors I?ve seen, it makes the dullness of the storyline twice as infuriating. Puri is much, much better and his storyline is actually much more entertaining. This is the kind of epic-lite that makes for passable viewing in a class where anything else would be much, much more boring.

12 Angry Men (1957) *****

A deceptively simple concept: 12 jurors, one room and one decision to make. It's the kind of premise that makes for a good little potboiler... but the fanatical attention to detail present in Reginald Rose's script and the intensity of the performances (coupled with Lumet's airtight direction) raise this well above a simple B-movie whodunit. Henry Fonda is Juror #8, assigned (with eleven other men) to the murder case of a young man who is accused of killing his father. #8 is the only one who believes that the young man is not guilty, and he sets out to get everyone to change their mind. Completely airtight in its development, the film builds suspense with nothing but character development and dialogue. The top-notch cast (besides Fonda, the film also stars Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman and a handful of other venerable character actors) makes this the best film of its type; many have tried to follow in its footsteps... but few have achieved what this has.

Lost in La Mancha (2003) ***1/2

Originally intended as a DVD extra, this documentary documents the short, troubled production of Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote". The film follows an eager Gilliam through pre-production as he secures the cast (Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort, Vanessa Paradis) and sets up his pet project, an overly ambitious fantasy he has been planning for ten years. As they draw closer to the first shooting day, however, problem after problem befalls the production: the soundstage is horrible, Rochefort gets sick, the weather is so awful that shooting cannot be continued. Lost in La Mancha is a fascinating film because there rarely are making-of movies for movies that never get made. It'S interesting to see how it works when it doesn't work... but the film remains a glorified DVD extra, glossing over certain aspects of the film and devoting too much time to footage of the filmmakers sitting around wondering what to do. Ironically, the minimal amounts of footage that were shot are tantalizing... but unlike DVD extras, you'll never see the movie.

Lost in La Mancha
½

(No, not the crappy band.)

The Trip (1967) ***

Mildly disappointing LSD flick from the Corman factory written by Jack Nicholson. Peter Fonda is the TV ad director who decides to go on an acid trip, guided by his friend Bruce Dern. Cue a lot of psychedelic light effects, incessant cuts, gratuitous Dennis Hopper and a lot of paranoid freaking out. Frankly, unless you?re on acid yourself, the film becomes rather redundant after a while; despite only being an hour and twenty minutes long, it feels interminable. The cast (which also includes Susan Strasberg in a thankless role as Fonda?s ex-wife, who he keeps hallucinating about) do their best, but it?s obvious (despite the cheesy, tacked-on message at the beginning of the film) that the movie was made for people who were stoned. It doesn?t quite have the peculiar charm of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which suffered from a similar fate, but was strangely entertaining and simultaneously headache-inducing) nor does it work too well as a coherent story. It?s still not a bad movie; it?s pretty well-made in spite of all this, and it certainly seems realistic (Fonda, Nicholson, Corman and Dern all did some ?research? before shooting) but that doesn?t help it much.

Dirty Pretty Things (2003) ***1/2

Captivating (though flawed) study of a Nigerian exile named Okwe (Chiwetel Eijofor) who lives in London, dividing his time between jobs as a cabbie and hotel receptionist. He finds a human heart in a toilet and uncovers a organ-trafficking ring that?s being led by none other than his greasy boss (Sergi Lopez). The thing is, he particularly targets immigrants, refugees and illegal aliens? including Senay (Audrey Tautou), the young Turkish woman with whom Okwe shares an apartment. Very compelling story is well-presented by director Stephen Frears and superbly-acted by the cast, but shy away from the film?s core and problems soon arise. The supporting characters are rather one-dimensional (none more so that the traditional hooker with a heart of gold or the two maniacal Immigration cops, one of whom even has a mustache that just begs to be twirled) and when the film hits its first ?twist?, it becomes relatively easy to see where the movie is going.

City of Joy (1992) ***

Passable mini-epic set in Calcutta stars Patrick Swayze as a selfish American doctor who has a young patient die on him and decides to go find himself in Calcutta. There he meets a farmer (Om Puri), new to the city, who eventually becomes a rickshaw driver. Meanwhile, Swayze builds a free clinic and a big fat evil guy makes the rickshaw man?s life hell. The rickshaw story is ten times more interesting than anything Swayze ever does in the movie; if Swayze was anywhere near decent as a actor, this would be forgivable? but seeing as how he is one of the most boring actors I?ve seen, it makes the dullness of the storyline twice as infuriating. Puri is much, much better and his storyline is actually much more entertaining. This is the kind of epic-lite that makes for passable viewing in a class where anything else would be much, much more boring.

12 Angry Men (1957) *****

A deceptively simple concept: 12 jurors, one room and one decision to make. It's the kind of premise that makes for a good little potboiler... but the fanatical attention to detail present in Reginald Rose's script and the intensity of the performances (coupled with Lumet's airtight direction) raise this well above a simple B-movie whodunit. Henry Fonda is Juror #8, assigned (with eleven other men) to the murder case of a young man who is accused of killing his father. #8 is the only one who believes that the young man is not guilty, and he sets out to get everyone to change their mind. Completely airtight in its development, the film builds suspense with nothing but character development and dialogue. The top-notch cast (besides Fonda, the film also stars Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman and a handful of other venerable character actors) makes this the best film of its type; many have tried to follow in its footsteps... but few have achieved what this has.

Lost in La Mancha (2003) ***1/2

Originally intended as a DVD extra, this documentary documents the short, troubled production of Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote". The film follows an eager Gilliam through pre-production as he secures the cast (Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort, Vanessa Paradis) and sets up his pet project, an overly ambitious fantasy he has been planning for ten years. As they draw closer to the first shooting day, however, problem after problem befalls the production: the soundstage is horrible, Rochefort gets sick, the weather is so awful that shooting cannot be continued. Lost in La Mancha is a fascinating film because there rarely are making-of movies for movies that never get made. It'S interesting to see how it works when it doesn't work... but the film remains a glorified DVD extra, glossing over certain aspects of the film and devoting too much time to footage of the filmmakers sitting around wondering what to do. Ironically, the minimal amounts of footage that were shot are tantalizing... but unlike DVD extras, you'll never see the movie.

Dirty Pretty Things
½

(No, not the crappy band.)

The Trip (1967) ***

Mildly disappointing LSD flick from the Corman factory written by Jack Nicholson. Peter Fonda is the TV ad director who decides to go on an acid trip, guided by his friend Bruce Dern. Cue a lot of psychedelic light effects, incessant cuts, gratuitous Dennis Hopper and a lot of paranoid freaking out. Frankly, unless you?re on acid yourself, the film becomes rather redundant after a while; despite only being an hour and twenty minutes long, it feels interminable. The cast (which also includes Susan Strasberg in a thankless role as Fonda?s ex-wife, who he keeps hallucinating about) do their best, but it?s obvious (despite the cheesy, tacked-on message at the beginning of the film) that the movie was made for people who were stoned. It doesn?t quite have the peculiar charm of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which suffered from a similar fate, but was strangely entertaining and simultaneously headache-inducing) nor does it work too well as a coherent story. It?s still not a bad movie; it?s pretty well-made in spite of all this, and it certainly seems realistic (Fonda, Nicholson, Corman and Dern all did some ?research? before shooting) but that doesn?t help it much.

Dirty Pretty Things (2003) ***1/2

Captivating (though flawed) study of a Nigerian exile named Okwe (Chiwetel Eijofor) who lives in London, dividing his time between jobs as a cabbie and hotel receptionist. He finds a human heart in a toilet and uncovers a organ-trafficking ring that?s being led by none other than his greasy boss (Sergi Lopez). The thing is, he particularly targets immigrants, refugees and illegal aliens? including Senay (Audrey Tautou), the young Turkish woman with whom Okwe shares an apartment. Very compelling story is well-presented by director Stephen Frears and superbly-acted by the cast, but shy away from the film?s core and problems soon arise. The supporting characters are rather one-dimensional (none more so that the traditional hooker with a heart of gold or the two maniacal Immigration cops, one of whom even has a mustache that just begs to be twirled) and when the film hits its first ?twist?, it becomes relatively easy to see where the movie is going.

City of Joy (1992) ***

Passable mini-epic set in Calcutta stars Patrick Swayze as a selfish American doctor who has a young patient die on him and decides to go find himself in Calcutta. There he meets a farmer (Om Puri), new to the city, who eventually becomes a rickshaw driver. Meanwhile, Swayze builds a free clinic and a big fat evil guy makes the rickshaw man?s life hell. The rickshaw story is ten times more interesting than anything Swayze ever does in the movie; if Swayze was anywhere near decent as a actor, this would be forgivable? but seeing as how he is one of the most boring actors I?ve seen, it makes the dullness of the storyline twice as infuriating. Puri is much, much better and his storyline is actually much more entertaining. This is the kind of epic-lite that makes for passable viewing in a class where anything else would be much, much more boring.

12 Angry Men (1957) *****

A deceptively simple concept: 12 jurors, one room and one decision to make. It's the kind of premise that makes for a good little potboiler... but the fanatical attention to detail present in Reginald Rose's script and the intensity of the performances (coupled with Lumet's airtight direction) raise this well above a simple B-movie whodunit. Henry Fonda is Juror #8, assigned (with eleven other men) to the murder case of a young man who is accused of killing his father. #8 is the only one who believes that the young man is not guilty, and he sets out to get everyone to change their mind. Completely airtight in its development, the film builds suspense with nothing but character development and dialogue. The top-notch cast (besides Fonda, the film also stars Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman and a handful of other venerable character actors) makes this the best film of its type; many have tried to follow in its footsteps... but few have achieved what this has.

Lost in La Mancha (2003) ***1/2

Originally intended as a DVD extra, this documentary documents the short, troubled production of Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote". The film follows an eager Gilliam through pre-production as he secures the cast (Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort, Vanessa Paradis) and sets up his pet project, an overly ambitious fantasy he has been planning for ten years. As they draw closer to the first shooting day, however, problem after problem befalls the production: the soundstage is horrible, Rochefort gets sick, the weather is so awful that shooting cannot be continued. Lost in La Mancha is a fascinating film because there rarely are making-of movies for movies that never get made. It'S interesting to see how it works when it doesn't work... but the film remains a glorified DVD extra, glossing over certain aspects of the film and devoting too much time to footage of the filmmakers sitting around wondering what to do. Ironically, the minimal amounts of footage that were shot are tantalizing... but unlike DVD extras, you'll never see the movie.

City of Joy
City of Joy(1992)

(No, not the crappy band.)

The Trip (1967) ***

Mildly disappointing LSD flick from the Corman factory written by Jack Nicholson. Peter Fonda is the TV ad director who decides to go on an acid trip, guided by his friend Bruce Dern. Cue a lot of psychedelic light effects, incessant cuts, gratuitous Dennis Hopper and a lot of paranoid freaking out. Frankly, unless you?re on acid yourself, the film becomes rather redundant after a while; despite only being an hour and twenty minutes long, it feels interminable. The cast (which also includes Susan Strasberg in a thankless role as Fonda?s ex-wife, who he keeps hallucinating about) do their best, but it?s obvious (despite the cheesy, tacked-on message at the beginning of the film) that the movie was made for people who were stoned. It doesn?t quite have the peculiar charm of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which suffered from a similar fate, but was strangely entertaining and simultaneously headache-inducing) nor does it work too well as a coherent story. It?s still not a bad movie; it?s pretty well-made in spite of all this, and it certainly seems realistic (Fonda, Nicholson, Corman and Dern all did some ?research? before shooting) but that doesn?t help it much.

Dirty Pretty Things (2003) ***1/2

Captivating (though flawed) study of a Nigerian exile named Okwe (Chiwetel Eijofor) who lives in London, dividing his time between jobs as a cabbie and hotel receptionist. He finds a human heart in a toilet and uncovers a organ-trafficking ring that?s being led by none other than his greasy boss (Sergi Lopez). The thing is, he particularly targets immigrants, refugees and illegal aliens? including Senay (Audrey Tautou), the young Turkish woman with whom Okwe shares an apartment. Very compelling story is well-presented by director Stephen Frears and superbly-acted by the cast, but shy away from the film?s core and problems soon arise. The supporting characters are rather one-dimensional (none more so that the traditional hooker with a heart of gold or the two maniacal Immigration cops, one of whom even has a mustache that just begs to be twirled) and when the film hits its first ?twist?, it becomes relatively easy to see where the movie is going.

City of Joy (1992) ***

Passable mini-epic set in Calcutta stars Patrick Swayze as a selfish American doctor who has a young patient die on him and decides to go find himself in Calcutta. There he meets a farmer (Om Puri), new to the city, who eventually becomes a rickshaw driver. Meanwhile, Swayze builds a free clinic and a big fat evil guy makes the rickshaw man?s life hell. The rickshaw story is ten times more interesting than anything Swayze ever does in the movie; if Swayze was anywhere near decent as a actor, this would be forgivable? but seeing as how he is one of the most boring actors I?ve seen, it makes the dullness of the storyline twice as infuriating. Puri is much, much better and his storyline is actually much more entertaining. This is the kind of epic-lite that makes for passable viewing in a class where anything else would be much, much more boring.

12 Angry Men (1957) *****

A deceptively simple concept: 12 jurors, one room and one decision to make. It's the kind of premise that makes for a good little potboiler... but the fanatical attention to detail present in Reginald Rose's script and the intensity of the performances (coupled with Lumet's airtight direction) raise this well above a simple B-movie whodunit. Henry Fonda is Juror #8, assigned (with eleven other men) to the murder case of a young man who is accused of killing his father. #8 is the only one who believes that the young man is not guilty, and he sets out to get everyone to change their mind. Completely airtight in its development, the film builds suspense with nothing but character development and dialogue. The top-notch cast (besides Fonda, the film also stars Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman and a handful of other venerable character actors) makes this the best film of its type; many have tried to follow in its footsteps... but few have achieved what this has.

Lost in La Mancha (2003) ***1/2

Originally intended as a DVD extra, this documentary documents the short, troubled production of Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote". The film follows an eager Gilliam through pre-production as he secures the cast (Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort, Vanessa Paradis) and sets up his pet project, an overly ambitious fantasy he has been planning for ten years. As they draw closer to the first shooting day, however, problem after problem befalls the production: the soundstage is horrible, Rochefort gets sick, the weather is so awful that shooting cannot be continued. Lost in La Mancha is a fascinating film because there rarely are making-of movies for movies that never get made. It'S interesting to see how it works when it doesn't work... but the film remains a glorified DVD extra, glossing over certain aspects of the film and devoting too much time to footage of the filmmakers sitting around wondering what to do. Ironically, the minimal amounts of footage that were shot are tantalizing... but unlike DVD extras, you'll never see the movie.

Psych-Out
Psych-Out(1968)

These reviews are supposed to come 1-by-1 some day.

Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003) ****
Wickedly original animated film from cartoonist Sylvain Chomet about an old woman whose grandson is kidnapped by the shady French Mafia and sent overseas to the city of Belleville. So, obviously, she and her dog Bruno rent a small boat and cross the ocean to get the grandson back? with the help of three really, really old ex-vaudeville stars: the Triplets of Belleville. Chomet?s film is certainly something new: a wacky, bizarre, irreverent animated film that?s black without being mean-spirited and features some very original artwork. The thing is, although the plot is relatively engaging, the film feels slight and by the end, the movie?s impact is so minimal that you?ll soon forget pretty much everything about it. It?s a good movie, no doubt about that, and I had a blast watching it? but in the end, you have absolutely nothing to show for that.

Psych-Out (1968) ***
Bizarre hippie flick produced by Dick Clark (of all people) stars Susan Strasberg as a deaf runaway who goes to San Francisco to find her brother. However, San Francisco in 1967 was a time of peace and love and hippieness? and Strasberg soon falls in with a rock band called Mumblin? Jim (played by Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, Max Julien and Adam Roarke). She becomes Stoney?s (Nicholson) ?girl? and together they search for her brother, who they soon find out is a particularly messed-up hippie called The Seeker (Bruce Dern, who wears a ridiculously large, ill-fitting wig)? and drugs, also. Main attractions here are early performances by Nicholson and Dern, trippy photography by Lazslo Kovacs and a soundtrack by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. The film itself eventually falls to cheap moralizing (not surprising? it?s Dick freakin? Clark) and the dialogue is often ludicrous? but it?s all quite fun. A very minor cult classic.

The Order (2003) *
This practically unwatchable ?religious thriller? written and directed by the usually reliable Brian Helgeland manages to be both unbelievably boring and laughably over-the-top. Heath Ledger plays a priest who is sent to investigate the activities of a certain ?sin eater?? and that?s about what I got from the movie. Frankly, the entire thing is so absurdly boring, and takes itself so seriously that I had trouble even staying awake throughout most of it. Add to that ridiculously self-important dialogue, dull performances from an otherwise promising cast, and incredibly silly special effects (the sin-eating itself looks more like pulling giant soggy spaghettis from someone?s mouth) and you have an awful, awful film. The kind of film that seems to truly have gone through pre-production, production and post-production without anyone actually realizing what a horrible mistake they had made greenlighting this.

Elephant (2003) ****1/2
There?s something beguiling about this film; it?s shot so effortlessly that it does not even feel like a movie at all, but more like a free-flowing daydream. All of its flaws are completely correlated to your expectations of it; Van Sant simply lets the viewer make up his own mind for everything. He?s created an almost completely neutral film where everything you see, hear and think is brought on by your own thoughts. (This sounds incredibly obvious and pretentious, I realize this? but? you try and describe the movie!) Despite the fact that pretty much nothing happens for a good hour, the film?s free-flowing tracking shots are so entrancing that by the time the first bullet is fired, you?ll be feeling it for a long, long time. I?m not too fond of one choice that Van Sant made (I won?t reveal it here? but it involves a shower? and almost shatters the impression of neutrality that Van Sant had previously established) but otherwise this is a beautiful, disturbing film through and through.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) *****
I?ve always been fascinated by the seamy underbelly of celebrity; frankly, I?m more interested in how Hervé Villechaize ended up killing himself than who?s dating who. Sunset Boulevard is a look directly into the seamy underbelly as we follow the strange relationship of a young screenwriter (William Holden) and a fallen silent-screen idol named Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Like all truly great films, it transcends genre to create something that?s sorta noir, sorta black comedy, sorta dramatic? The film?s Hollywood is one that?s half-invented and half-realistic, creating a sort of down-to-earth fantasy (akin to, say, Altman?s The Player did forty years later) that?s an absolute joy to watch. Swanson is delightfully over-the-top in the performance of a career, Holden is terrific and the supporting cast (which includes Erich von Stronheim and future Joe Friday Jack Webb) is top-notch. I can?t understand why they?re thinking to remake this.

Sunset Boulevard

These reviews are supposed to come 1-by-1 some day.

Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003) ****
Wickedly original animated film from cartoonist Sylvain Chomet about an old woman whose grandson is kidnapped by the shady French Mafia and sent overseas to the city of Belleville. So, obviously, she and her dog Bruno rent a small boat and cross the ocean to get the grandson back? with the help of three really, really old ex-vaudeville stars: the Triplets of Belleville. Chomet?s film is certainly something new: a wacky, bizarre, irreverent animated film that?s black without being mean-spirited and features some very original artwork. The thing is, although the plot is relatively engaging, the film feels slight and by the end, the movie?s impact is so minimal that you?ll soon forget pretty much everything about it. It?s a good movie, no doubt about that, and I had a blast watching it? but in the end, you have absolutely nothing to show for that.

Psych-Out (1968) ***
Bizarre hippie flick produced by Dick Clark (of all people) stars Susan Strasberg as a deaf runaway who goes to San Francisco to find her brother. However, San Francisco in 1967 was a time of peace and love and hippieness? and Strasberg soon falls in with a rock band called Mumblin? Jim (played by Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, Max Julien and Adam Roarke). She becomes Stoney?s (Nicholson) ?girl? and together they search for her brother, who they soon find out is a particularly messed-up hippie called The Seeker (Bruce Dern, who wears a ridiculously large, ill-fitting wig)? and drugs, also. Main attractions here are early performances by Nicholson and Dern, trippy photography by Lazslo Kovacs and a soundtrack by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. The film itself eventually falls to cheap moralizing (not surprising? it?s Dick freakin? Clark) and the dialogue is often ludicrous? but it?s all quite fun. A very minor cult classic.

The Order (2003) *
This practically unwatchable ?religious thriller? written and directed by the usually reliable Brian Helgeland manages to be both unbelievably boring and laughably over-the-top. Heath Ledger plays a priest who is sent to investigate the activities of a certain ?sin eater?? and that?s about what I got from the movie. Frankly, the entire thing is so absurdly boring, and takes itself so seriously that I had trouble even staying awake throughout most of it. Add to that ridiculously self-important dialogue, dull performances from an otherwise promising cast, and incredibly silly special effects (the sin-eating itself looks more like pulling giant soggy spaghettis from someone?s mouth) and you have an awful, awful film. The kind of film that seems to truly have gone through pre-production, production and post-production without anyone actually realizing what a horrible mistake they had made greenlighting this.

Elephant (2003) ****1/2
There?s something beguiling about this film; it?s shot so effortlessly that it does not even feel like a movie at all, but more like a free-flowing daydream. All of its flaws are completely correlated to your expectations of it; Van Sant simply lets the viewer make up his own mind for everything. He?s created an almost completely neutral film where everything you see, hear and think is brought on by your own thoughts. (This sounds incredibly obvious and pretentious, I realize this? but? you try and describe the movie!) Despite the fact that pretty much nothing happens for a good hour, the film?s free-flowing tracking shots are so entrancing that by the time the first bullet is fired, you?ll be feeling it for a long, long time. I?m not too fond of one choice that Van Sant made (I won?t reveal it here? but it involves a shower? and almost shatters the impression of neutrality that Van Sant had previously established) but otherwise this is a beautiful, disturbing film through and through.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) *****
I?ve always been fascinated by the seamy underbelly of celebrity; frankly, I?m more interested in how Hervé Villechaize ended up killing himself than who?s dating who. Sunset Boulevard is a look directly into the seamy underbelly as we follow the strange relationship of a young screenwriter (William Holden) and a fallen silent-screen idol named Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Like all truly great films, it transcends genre to create something that?s sorta noir, sorta black comedy, sorta dramatic? The film?s Hollywood is one that?s half-invented and half-realistic, creating a sort of down-to-earth fantasy (akin to, say, Altman?s The Player did forty years later) that?s an absolute joy to watch. Swanson is delightfully over-the-top in the performance of a career, Holden is terrific and the supporting cast (which includes Erich von Stronheim and future Joe Friday Jack Webb) is top-notch. I can?t understand why they?re thinking to remake this.

The Order
The Order(2003)

These reviews are supposed to come 1-by-1 some day.

Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003) ****
Wickedly original animated film from cartoonist Sylvain Chomet about an old woman whose grandson is kidnapped by the shady French Mafia and sent overseas to the city of Belleville. So, obviously, she and her dog Bruno rent a small boat and cross the ocean to get the grandson back? with the help of three really, really old ex-vaudeville stars: the Triplets of Belleville. Chomet?s film is certainly something new: a wacky, bizarre, irreverent animated film that?s black without being mean-spirited and features some very original artwork. The thing is, although the plot is relatively engaging, the film feels slight and by the end, the movie?s impact is so minimal that you?ll soon forget pretty much everything about it. It?s a good movie, no doubt about that, and I had a blast watching it? but in the end, you have absolutely nothing to show for that.

Psych-Out (1968) ***
Bizarre hippie flick produced by Dick Clark (of all people) stars Susan Strasberg as a deaf runaway who goes to San Francisco to find her brother. However, San Francisco in 1967 was a time of peace and love and hippieness? and Strasberg soon falls in with a rock band called Mumblin? Jim (played by Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, Max Julien and Adam Roarke). She becomes Stoney?s (Nicholson) ?girl? and together they search for her brother, who they soon find out is a particularly messed-up hippie called The Seeker (Bruce Dern, who wears a ridiculously large, ill-fitting wig)? and drugs, also. Main attractions here are early performances by Nicholson and Dern, trippy photography by Lazslo Kovacs and a soundtrack by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. The film itself eventually falls to cheap moralizing (not surprising? it?s Dick freakin? Clark) and the dialogue is often ludicrous? but it?s all quite fun. A very minor cult classic.

The Order (2003) *
This practically unwatchable ?religious thriller? written and directed by the usually reliable Brian Helgeland manages to be both unbelievably boring and laughably over-the-top. Heath Ledger plays a priest who is sent to investigate the activities of a certain ?sin eater?? and that?s about what I got from the movie. Frankly, the entire thing is so absurdly boring, and takes itself so seriously that I had trouble even staying awake throughout most of it. Add to that ridiculously self-important dialogue, dull performances from an otherwise promising cast, and incredibly silly special effects (the sin-eating itself looks more like pulling giant soggy spaghettis from someone?s mouth) and you have an awful, awful film. The kind of film that seems to truly have gone through pre-production, production and post-production without anyone actually realizing what a horrible mistake they had made greenlighting this.

Elephant (2003) ****1/2
There?s something beguiling about this film; it?s shot so effortlessly that it does not even feel like a movie at all, but more like a free-flowing daydream. All of its flaws are completely correlated to your expectations of it; Van Sant simply lets the viewer make up his own mind for everything. He?s created an almost completely neutral film where everything you see, hear and think is brought on by your own thoughts. (This sounds incredibly obvious and pretentious, I realize this? but? you try and describe the movie!) Despite the fact that pretty much nothing happens for a good hour, the film?s free-flowing tracking shots are so entrancing that by the time the first bullet is fired, you?ll be feeling it for a long, long time. I?m not too fond of one choice that Van Sant made (I won?t reveal it here? but it involves a shower? and almost shatters the impression of neutrality that Van Sant had previously established) but otherwise this is a beautiful, disturbing film through and through.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) *****
I?ve always been fascinated by the seamy underbelly of celebrity; frankly, I?m more interested in how Hervé Villechaize ended up killing himself than who?s dating who. Sunset Boulevard is a look directly into the seamy underbelly as we follow the strange relationship of a young screenwriter (William Holden) and a fallen silent-screen idol named Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Like all truly great films, it transcends genre to create something that?s sorta noir, sorta black comedy, sorta dramatic? The film?s Hollywood is one that?s half-invented and half-realistic, creating a sort of down-to-earth fantasy (akin to, say, Altman?s The Player did forty years later) that?s an absolute joy to watch. Swanson is delightfully over-the-top in the performance of a career, Holden is terrific and the supporting cast (which includes Erich von Stronheim and future Joe Friday Jack Webb) is top-notch. I can?t understand why they?re thinking to remake this.

Elephant
Elephant(2003)
½

These reviews are supposed to come 1-by-1 some day.

Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003) ****
Wickedly original animated film from cartoonist Sylvain Chomet about an old woman whose grandson is kidnapped by the shady French Mafia and sent overseas to the city of Belleville. So, obviously, she and her dog Bruno rent a small boat and cross the ocean to get the grandson back? with the help of three really, really old ex-vaudeville stars: the Triplets of Belleville. Chomet?s film is certainly something new: a wacky, bizarre, irreverent animated film that?s black without being mean-spirited and features some very original artwork. The thing is, although the plot is relatively engaging, the film feels slight and by the end, the movie?s impact is so minimal that you?ll soon forget pretty much everything about it. It?s a good movie, no doubt about that, and I had a blast watching it? but in the end, you have absolutely nothing to show for that.

Psych-Out (1968) ***
Bizarre hippie flick produced by Dick Clark (of all people) stars Susan Strasberg as a deaf runaway who goes to San Francisco to find her brother. However, San Francisco in 1967 was a time of peace and love and hippieness? and Strasberg soon falls in with a rock band called Mumblin? Jim (played by Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, Max Julien and Adam Roarke). She becomes Stoney?s (Nicholson) ?girl? and together they search for her brother, who they soon find out is a particularly messed-up hippie called The Seeker (Bruce Dern, who wears a ridiculously large, ill-fitting wig)? and drugs, also. Main attractions here are early performances by Nicholson and Dern, trippy photography by Lazslo Kovacs and a soundtrack by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. The film itself eventually falls to cheap moralizing (not surprising? it?s Dick freakin? Clark) and the dialogue is often ludicrous? but it?s all quite fun. A very minor cult classic.

The Order (2003) *
This practically unwatchable ?religious thriller? written and directed by the usually reliable Brian Helgeland manages to be both unbelievably boring and laughably over-the-top. Heath Ledger plays a priest who is sent to investigate the activities of a certain ?sin eater?? and that?s about what I got from the movie. Frankly, the entire thing is so absurdly boring, and takes itself so seriously that I had trouble even staying awake throughout most of it. Add to that ridiculously self-important dialogue, dull performances from an otherwise promising cast, and incredibly silly special effects (the sin-eating itself looks more like pulling giant soggy spaghettis from someone?s mouth) and you have an awful, awful film. The kind of film that seems to truly have gone through pre-production, production and post-production without anyone actually realizing what a horrible mistake they had made greenlighting this.

Elephant (2003) ****1/2
There?s something beguiling about this film; it?s shot so effortlessly that it does not even feel like a movie at all, but more like a free-flowing daydream. All of its flaws are completely correlated to your expectations of it; Van Sant simply lets the viewer make up his own mind for everything. He?s created an almost completely neutral film where everything you see, hear and think is brought on by your own thoughts. (This sounds incredibly obvious and pretentious, I realize this? but? you try and describe the movie!) Despite the fact that pretty much nothing happens for a good hour, the film?s free-flowing tracking shots are so entrancing that by the time the first bullet is fired, you?ll be feeling it for a long, long time. I?m not too fond of one choice that Van Sant made (I won?t reveal it here? but it involves a shower? and almost shatters the impression of neutrality that Van Sant had previously established) but otherwise this is a beautiful, disturbing film through and through.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) *****
I?ve always been fascinated by the seamy underbelly of celebrity; frankly, I?m more interested in how Hervé Villechaize ended up killing himself than who?s dating who. Sunset Boulevard is a look directly into the seamy underbelly as we follow the strange relationship of a young screenwriter (William Holden) and a fallen silent-screen idol named Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Like all truly great films, it transcends genre to create something that?s sorta noir, sorta black comedy, sorta dramatic? The film?s Hollywood is one that?s half-invented and half-realistic, creating a sort of down-to-earth fantasy (akin to, say, Altman?s The Player did forty years later) that?s an absolute joy to watch. Swanson is delightfully over-the-top in the performance of a career, Holden is terrific and the supporting cast (which includes Erich von Stronheim and future Joe Friday Jack Webb) is top-notch. I can?t understand why they?re thinking to remake this.

The Triplets of Belleville

These reviews are supposed to come 1-by-1 some day.

Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003) ****
Wickedly original animated film from cartoonist Sylvain Chomet about an old woman whose grandson is kidnapped by the shady French Mafia and sent overseas to the city of Belleville. So, obviously, she and her dog Bruno rent a small boat and cross the ocean to get the grandson back? with the help of three really, really old ex-vaudeville stars: the Triplets of Belleville. Chomet?s film is certainly something new: a wacky, bizarre, irreverent animated film that?s black without being mean-spirited and features some very original artwork. The thing is, although the plot is relatively engaging, the film feels slight and by the end, the movie?s impact is so minimal that you?ll soon forget pretty much everything about it. It?s a good movie, no doubt about that, and I had a blast watching it? but in the end, you have absolutely nothing to show for that.

Psych-Out (1968) ***
Bizarre hippie flick produced by Dick Clark (of all people) stars Susan Strasberg as a deaf runaway who goes to San Francisco to find her brother. However, San Francisco in 1967 was a time of peace and love and hippieness? and Strasberg soon falls in with a rock band called Mumblin? Jim (played by Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, Max Julien and Adam Roarke). She becomes Stoney?s (Nicholson) ?girl? and together they search for her brother, who they soon find out is a particularly messed-up hippie called The Seeker (Bruce Dern, who wears a ridiculously large, ill-fitting wig)? and drugs, also. Main attractions here are early performances by Nicholson and Dern, trippy photography by Lazslo Kovacs and a soundtrack by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. The film itself eventually falls to cheap moralizing (not surprising? it?s Dick freakin? Clark) and the dialogue is often ludicrous? but it?s all quite fun. A very minor cult classic.

The Order (2003) *
This practically unwatchable ?religious thriller? written and directed by the usually reliable Brian Helgeland manages to be both unbelievably boring and laughably over-the-top. Heath Ledger plays a priest who is sent to investigate the activities of a certain ?sin eater?? and that?s about what I got from the movie. Frankly, the entire thing is so absurdly boring, and takes itself so seriously that I had trouble even staying awake throughout most of it. Add to that ridiculously self-important dialogue, dull performances from an otherwise promising cast, and incredibly silly special effects (the sin-eating itself looks more like pulling giant soggy spaghettis from someone?s mouth) and you have an awful, awful film. The kind of film that seems to truly have gone through pre-production, production and post-production without anyone actually realizing what a horrible mistake they had made greenlighting this.

Elephant (2003) ****1/2
There?s something beguiling about this film; it?s shot so effortlessly that it does not even feel like a movie at all, but more like a free-flowing daydream. All of its flaws are completely correlated to your expectations of it; Van Sant simply lets the viewer make up his own mind for everything. He?s created an almost completely neutral film where everything you see, hear and think is brought on by your own thoughts. (This sounds incredibly obvious and pretentious, I realize this? but? you try and describe the movie!) Despite the fact that pretty much nothing happens for a good hour, the film?s free-flowing tracking shots are so entrancing that by the time the first bullet is fired, you?ll be feeling it for a long, long time. I?m not too fond of one choice that Van Sant made (I won?t reveal it here? but it involves a shower? and almost shatters the impression of neutrality that Van Sant had previously established) but otherwise this is a beautiful, disturbing film through and through.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) *****
I?ve always been fascinated by the seamy underbelly of celebrity; frankly, I?m more interested in how Hervé Villechaize ended up killing himself than who?s dating who. Sunset Boulevard is a look directly into the seamy underbelly as we follow the strange relationship of a young screenwriter (William Holden) and a fallen silent-screen idol named Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Like all truly great films, it transcends genre to create something that?s sorta noir, sorta black comedy, sorta dramatic? The film?s Hollywood is one that?s half-invented and half-realistic, creating a sort of down-to-earth fantasy (akin to, say, Altman?s The Player did forty years later) that?s an absolute joy to watch. Swanson is delightfully over-the-top in the performance of a career, Holden is terrific and the supporting cast (which includes Erich von Stronheim and future Joe Friday Jack Webb) is top-notch. I can?t understand why they?re thinking to remake this.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Dazed and Confused (1993) *****

I liked this one the first time around? but I always felt I had missed something (it?s been almost two years since I last saw it) then. So I saw it again? and, well, it fucking floored me. Honestly, if the people in this movie feel alien to you, then you lived through your teenage years all wrong. Despite the fact that it takes place 25 years ago, I recognized everything here. The people here are so realistic (no, I?m serious, I know people like the one Rory Calhoun plays, I know people like Parker Posey and even McConaghey play) and the scenes so truthful that I can?t fathom a single person not seeing themselves in this movie. It?s funny, it?s engrossing, the characters feel real, the music is awesome? frankly any of this movie?s faults are void to me. May very well sneak in somewhere in my favorite movies. The ultimate teen movie, really.

National Lampoon?s Animal House (1978) ****

Before Van Wilder and before Old School, there was Animal House, the first (and still the best) of the big, stupid college comedies. The film follows one semester in the life of the worst fraternity on campus: the Deltas, a hard-partying, hard-living fraternity if there ever was one. Is it ?smarter? than its contemporary counterparts? No. Does it avoid gross-out humor? No. Is the acting better? Not really. What makes this movie stand out (because, after all, being first is not a good argument) is the fact that the movie doesn?t treat this as some sort of overt fantasy; it?s not a movie that?s there to have 13-year-olds go ?college is cool, man? (although they?ll do it anyway). There?s a certain amount of realism here (the scene in which students smoke pot with professor Donald Sutherland particularly hits home) and although the whole thing is certainly far from subtle, the comedic timing here is perfect. The major attraction here, of course, is the brilliant John Belushi, but contrarily to what the box will lead us to believe, his character is strictly supporting. The cast also includes Tom Hulce, Tim Matheson, Kevin Bacon, John Vernon, Stephen Furst, Verna Bloom and Karen Allen. Too bad it?s so ?old? that contemporary audiences will prefer stuff like Van Wilder (?where the music is good and the chicks hot and naked, not wearing old lady underwear?).

Lost in Translation (2003) ****

Didn?t quite fall ass-backwards in love with this one, although it did kill my insides at the end, so I suppose it deserves credit for that. In fact it all works very well; the only qualm I have is that the cultural humor is stretched a bit thin and that the subplots with the husband and the blonde movie star (Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris) are fairly pointless. The thing is, Charlotte?s husband should only be glimpsed; he?s supposed to be absent and so on? we?re given too much of an insight about who he is which rather detracts from Charlotte?s motivations. In any case, the central story (that of actor Murray befriending Johannson?s young, bored wife) works wonderfully, a subtly, sweetly romantic tale that ends in the perfect way. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson are absolutely perfect; if you?re a straight male and you don?t want to marry Charlotte by the end of the movie? you?re not human.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) ****

I came, I went, I saw. I liked. Although it?s far from being the flawless masterpiece that many have made it out to be, ROTK almost equals the first instalment in the series, and certainly betters the pace-challenged second instalment. Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin) take on the last limb of their journey towards Mount Doom with the ever-annoying Gollum in tow, while the rest of the Fellowship protect a gigantic city from a horde of Orc invaders. The action here remains absolutely breathtaking, the computer effects border on orgasmic? but the film sometimes feels too inclined to show off its impressive effects and belittles the characters. At three-and-a-half hours, it seems like it should be too long, but it?s only the epilogue (a drawn-out twenty minutes or so) that reminds you that you?ve been sitting for a hell of a long time. There are a couple of scenes that don?t work (Legolas, who remains in the background for practically the entire film, taking on one of those huge elephant things single-handedly while barely breaking into a sweat is particularly hard to swallow) but it?s a damn good yarn, the kind that we don?t see often enough.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) ****

Recently revisited this childhood favorite? I certainly know why I liked it as a kid. Harrison Ford stars as the now-famous professor-turned-whip-wielding-archeologist, who has found information that may lead him to finding the sacred Ark of the Covenant? and, obviously, the Nazis also want it. A good, old-fashioned adventure movie from Spielberg; you can?t hate this movie. Hating this movie is against human biology. It?s obviously not without flaws: the female character (there?s only one) serves the sole purpose of being pushed around and somewhat lowering the testosterone level, and a great deal of the supporting actors (including John Rhys-Davies as a friend of Indiana Jones? and Alfred Molina as a guide who doesn?t do much guiding before being impaled) are broad caricatures. But, as I said, Spielberg never intended to make a serious movie, and this tongue-in-cheek approach works very well for the movie (and it was eventually taken to overkill in the sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

(Hey, I fixed the writing. All right.)

National Lampoon's Animal House

Dazed and Confused (1993) *****

I liked this one the first time around? but I always felt I had missed something (it?s been almost two years since I last saw it) then. So I saw it again? and, well, it fucking floored me. Honestly, if the people in this movie feel alien to you, then you lived through your teenage years all wrong. Despite the fact that it takes place 25 years ago, I recognized everything here. The people here are so realistic (no, I?m serious, I know people like the one Rory Calhoun plays, I know people like Parker Posey and even McConaghey play) and the scenes so truthful that I can?t fathom a single person not seeing themselves in this movie. It?s funny, it?s engrossing, the characters feel real, the music is awesome? frankly any of this movie?s faults are void to me. May very well sneak in somewhere in my favorite movies. The ultimate teen movie, really.

National Lampoon?s Animal House (1978) ****

Before Van Wilder and before Old School, there was Animal House, the first (and still the best) of the big, stupid college comedies. The film follows one semester in the life of the worst fraternity on campus: the Deltas, a hard-partying, hard-living fraternity if there ever was one. Is it ?smarter? than its contemporary counterparts? No. Does it avoid gross-out humor? No. Is the acting better? Not really. What makes this movie stand out (because, after all, being first is not a good argument) is the fact that the movie doesn?t treat this as some sort of overt fantasy; it?s not a movie that?s there to have 13-year-olds go ?college is cool, man? (although they?ll do it anyway). There?s a certain amount of realism here (the scene in which students smoke pot with professor Donald Sutherland particularly hits home) and although the whole thing is certainly far from subtle, the comedic timing here is perfect. The major attraction here, of course, is the brilliant John Belushi, but contrarily to what the box will lead us to believe, his character is strictly supporting. The cast also includes Tom Hulce, Tim Matheson, Kevin Bacon, John Vernon, Stephen Furst, Verna Bloom and Karen Allen. Too bad it?s so ?old? that contemporary audiences will prefer stuff like Van Wilder (?where the music is good and the chicks hot and naked, not wearing old lady underwear?).

Lost in Translation (2003) ****

Didn?t quite fall ass-backwards in love with this one, although it did kill my insides at the end, so I suppose it deserves credit for that. In fact it all works very well; the only qualm I have is that the cultural humor is stretched a bit thin and that the subplots with the husband and the blonde movie star (Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris) are fairly pointless. The thing is, Charlotte?s husband should only be glimpsed; he?s supposed to be absent and so on? we?re given too much of an insight about who he is which rather detracts from Charlotte?s motivations. In any case, the central story (that of actor Murray befriending Johannson?s young, bored wife) works wonderfully, a subtly, sweetly romantic tale that ends in the perfect way. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson are absolutely perfect; if you?re a straight male and you don?t want to marry Charlotte by the end of the movie? you?re not human.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) ****

I came, I went, I saw. I liked. Although it?s far from being the flawless masterpiece that many have made it out to be, ROTK almost equals the first instalment in the series, and certainly betters the pace-challenged second instalment. Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin) take on the last limb of their journey towards Mount Doom with the ever-annoying Gollum in tow, while the rest of the Fellowship protect a gigantic city from a horde of Orc invaders. The action here remains absolutely breathtaking, the computer effects border on orgasmic? but the film sometimes feels too inclined to show off its impressive effects and belittles the characters. At three-and-a-half hours, it seems like it should be too long, but it?s only the epilogue (a drawn-out twenty minutes or so) that reminds you that you?ve been sitting for a hell of a long time. There are a couple of scenes that don?t work (Legolas, who remains in the background for practically the entire film, taking on one of those huge elephant things single-handedly while barely breaking into a sweat is particularly hard to swallow) but it?s a damn good yarn, the kind that we don?t see often enough.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) ****

Recently revisited this childhood favorite? I certainly know why I liked it as a kid. Harrison Ford stars as the now-famous professor-turned-whip-wielding-archeologist, who has found information that may lead him to finding the sacred Ark of the Covenant? and, obviously, the Nazis also want it. A good, old-fashioned adventure movie from Spielberg; you can?t hate this movie. Hating this movie is against human biology. It?s obviously not without flaws: the female character (there?s only one) serves the sole purpose of being pushed around and somewhat lowering the testosterone level, and a great deal of the supporting actors (including John Rhys-Davies as a friend of Indiana Jones? and Alfred Molina as a guide who doesn?t do much guiding before being impaled) are broad caricatures. But, as I said, Spielberg never intended to make a serious movie, and this tongue-in-cheek approach works very well for the movie (and it was eventually taken to overkill in the sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

(Hey, I fixed the writing. All right.)

Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused (1993) *****

I liked this one the first time around? but I always felt I had missed something (it?s been almost two years since I last saw it) then. So I saw it again? and, well, it fucking floored me. Honestly, if the people in this movie feel alien to you, then you lived through your teenage years all wrong. Despite the fact that it takes place 25 years ago, I recognized everything here. The people here are so realistic (no, I?m serious, I know people like the one Rory Calhoun plays, I know people like Parker Posey and even McConaghey play) and the scenes so truthful that I can?t fathom a single person not seeing themselves in this movie. It?s funny, it?s engrossing, the characters feel real, the music is awesome? frankly any of this movie?s faults are void to me. May very well sneak in somewhere in my favorite movies. The ultimate teen movie, really.

National Lampoon?s Animal House (1978) ****

Before Van Wilder and before Old School, there was Animal House, the first (and still the best) of the big, stupid college comedies. The film follows one semester in the life of the worst fraternity on campus: the Deltas, a hard-partying, hard-living fraternity if there ever was one. Is it ?smarter? than its contemporary counterparts? No. Does it avoid gross-out humor? No. Is the acting better? Not really. What makes this movie stand out (because, after all, being first is not a good argument) is the fact that the movie doesn?t treat this as some sort of overt fantasy; it?s not a movie that?s there to have 13-year-olds go ?college is cool, man? (although they?ll do it anyway). There?s a certain amount of realism here (the scene in which students smoke pot with professor Donald Sutherland particularly hits home) and although the whole thing is certainly far from subtle, the comedic timing here is perfect. The major attraction here, of course, is the brilliant John Belushi, but contrarily to what the box will lead us to believe, his character is strictly supporting. The cast also includes Tom Hulce, Tim Matheson, Kevin Bacon, John Vernon, Stephen Furst, Verna Bloom and Karen Allen. Too bad it?s so ?old? that contemporary audiences will prefer stuff like Van Wilder (?where the music is good and the chicks hot and naked, not wearing old lady underwear?).

Lost in Translation (2003) ****

Didn?t quite fall ass-backwards in love with this one, although it did kill my insides at the end, so I suppose it deserves credit for that. In fact it all works very well; the only qualm I have is that the cultural humor is stretched a bit thin and that the subplots with the husband and the blonde movie star (Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris) are fairly pointless. The thing is, Charlotte?s husband should only be glimpsed; he?s supposed to be absent and so on? we?re given too much of an insight about who he is which rather detracts from Charlotte?s motivations. In any case, the central story (that of actor Murray befriending Johannson?s young, bored wife) works wonderfully, a subtly, sweetly romantic tale that ends in the perfect way. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson are absolutely perfect; if you?re a straight male and you don?t want to marry Charlotte by the end of the movie? you?re not human.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) ****

I came, I went, I saw. I liked. Although it?s far from being the flawless masterpiece that many have made it out to be, ROTK almost equals the first instalment in the series, and certainly betters the pace-challenged second instalment. Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin) take on the last limb of their journey towards Mount Doom with the ever-annoying Gollum in tow, while the rest of the Fellowship protect a gigantic city from a horde of Orc invaders. The action here remains absolutely breathtaking, the computer effects border on orgasmic? but the film sometimes feels too inclined to show off its impressive effects and belittles the characters. At three-and-a-half hours, it seems like it should be too long, but it?s only the epilogue (a drawn-out twenty minutes or so) that reminds you that you?ve been sitting for a hell of a long time. There are a couple of scenes that don?t work (Legolas, who remains in the background for practically the entire film, taking on one of those huge elephant things single-handedly while barely breaking into a sweat is particularly hard to swallow) but it?s a damn good yarn, the kind that we don?t see often enough.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) ****

Recently revisited this childhood favorite? I certainly know why I liked it as a kid. Harrison Ford stars as the now-famous professor-turned-whip-wielding-archeologist, who has found information that may lead him to finding the sacred Ark of the Covenant? and, obviously, the Nazis also want it. A good, old-fashioned adventure movie from Spielberg; you can?t hate this movie. Hating this movie is against human biology. It?s obviously not without flaws: the female character (there?s only one) serves the sole purpose of being pushed around and somewhat lowering the testosterone level, and a great deal of the supporting actors (including John Rhys-Davies as a friend of Indiana Jones? and Alfred Molina as a guide who doesn?t do much guiding before being impaled) are broad caricatures. But, as I said, Spielberg never intended to make a serious movie, and this tongue-in-cheek approach works very well for the movie (and it was eventually taken to overkill in the sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

(Hey, I fixed the writing. All right.)

Lost In Translation

Dazed and Confused (1993) *****

I liked this one the first time around? but I always felt I had missed something (it?s been almost two years since I last saw it) then. So I saw it again? and, well, it fucking floored me. Honestly, if the people in this movie feel alien to you, then you lived through your teenage years all wrong. Despite the fact that it takes place 25 years ago, I recognized everything here. The people here are so realistic (no, I?m serious, I know people like the one Rory Calhoun plays, I know people like Parker Posey and even McConaghey play) and the scenes so truthful that I can?t fathom a single person not seeing themselves in this movie. It?s funny, it?s engrossing, the characters feel real, the music is awesome? frankly any of this movie?s faults are void to me. May very well sneak in somewhere in my favorite movies. The ultimate teen movie, really.

National Lampoon?s Animal House (1978) ****

Before Van Wilder and before Old School, there was Animal House, the first (and still the best) of the big, stupid college comedies. The film follows one semester in the life of the worst fraternity on campus: the Deltas, a hard-partying, hard-living fraternity if there ever was one. Is it ?smarter? than its contemporary counterparts? No. Does it avoid gross-out humor? No. Is the acting better? Not really. What makes this movie stand out (because, after all, being first is not a good argument) is the fact that the movie doesn?t treat this as some sort of overt fantasy; it?s not a movie that?s there to have 13-year-olds go ?college is cool, man? (although they?ll do it anyway). There?s a certain amount of realism here (the scene in which students smoke pot with professor Donald Sutherland particularly hits home) and although the whole thing is certainly far from subtle, the comedic timing here is perfect. The major attraction here, of course, is the brilliant John Belushi, but contrarily to what the box will lead us to believe, his character is strictly supporting. The cast also includes Tom Hulce, Tim Matheson, Kevin Bacon, John Vernon, Stephen Furst, Verna Bloom and Karen Allen. Too bad it?s so ?old? that contemporary audiences will prefer stuff like Van Wilder (?where the music is good and the chicks hot and naked, not wearing old lady underwear?).

Lost in Translation (2003) ****

Didn?t quite fall ass-backwards in love with this one, although it did kill my insides at the end, so I suppose it deserves credit for that. In fact it all works very well; the only qualm I have is that the cultural humor is stretched a bit thin and that the subplots with the husband and the blonde movie star (Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris) are fairly pointless. The thing is, Charlotte?s husband should only be glimpsed; he?s supposed to be absent and so on? we?re given too much of an insight about who he is which rather detracts from Charlotte?s motivations. In any case, the central story (that of actor Murray befriending Johannson?s young, bored wife) works wonderfully, a subtly, sweetly romantic tale that ends in the perfect way. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson are absolutely perfect; if you?re a straight male and you don?t want to marry Charlotte by the end of the movie? you?re not human.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) ****

I came, I went, I saw. I liked. Although it?s far from being the flawless masterpiece that many have made it out to be, ROTK almost equals the first instalment in the series, and certainly betters the pace-challenged second instalment. Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin) take on the last limb of their journey towards Mount Doom with the ever-annoying Gollum in tow, while the rest of the Fellowship protect a gigantic city from a horde of Orc invaders. The action here remains absolutely breathtaking, the computer effects border on orgasmic? but the film sometimes feels too inclined to show off its impressive effects and belittles the characters. At three-and-a-half hours, it seems like it should be too long, but it?s only the epilogue (a drawn-out twenty minutes or so) that reminds you that you?ve been sitting for a hell of a long time. There are a couple of scenes that don?t work (Legolas, who remains in the background for practically the entire film, taking on one of those huge elephant things single-handedly while barely breaking into a sweat is particularly hard to swallow) but it?s a damn good yarn, the kind that we don?t see often enough.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) ****

Recently revisited this childhood favorite? I certainly know why I liked it as a kid. Harrison Ford stars as the now-famous professor-turned-whip-wielding-archeologist, who has found information that may lead him to finding the sacred Ark of the Covenant? and, obviously, the Nazis also want it. A good, old-fashioned adventure movie from Spielberg; you can?t hate this movie. Hating this movie is against human biology. It?s obviously not without flaws: the female character (there?s only one) serves the sole purpose of being pushed around and somewhat lowering the testosterone level, and a great deal of the supporting actors (including John Rhys-Davies as a friend of Indiana Jones? and Alfred Molina as a guide who doesn?t do much guiding before being impaled) are broad caricatures. But, as I said, Spielberg never intended to make a serious movie, and this tongue-in-cheek approach works very well for the movie (and it was eventually taken to overkill in the sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

(Hey, I fixed the writing. All right.)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Dazed and Confused (1993) *****

I liked this one the first time around? but I always felt I had missed something (it?s been almost two years since I last saw it) then. So I saw it again? and, well, it fucking floored me. Honestly, if the people in this movie feel alien to you, then you lived through your teenage years all wrong. Despite the fact that it takes place 25 years ago, I recognized everything here. The people here are so realistic (no, I?m serious, I know people like the one Rory Calhoun plays, I know people like Parker Posey and even McConaghey play) and the scenes so truthful that I can?t fathom a single person not seeing themselves in this movie. It?s funny, it?s engrossing, the characters feel real, the music is awesome? frankly any of this movie?s faults are void to me. May very well sneak in somewhere in my favorite movies. The ultimate teen movie, really.

National Lampoon?s Animal House (1978) ****

Before Van Wilder and before Old School, there was Animal House, the first (and still the best) of the big, stupid college comedies. The film follows one semester in the life of the worst fraternity on campus: the Deltas, a hard-partying, hard-living fraternity if there ever was one. Is it ?smarter? than its contemporary counterparts? No. Does it avoid gross-out humor? No. Is the acting better? Not really. What makes this movie stand out (because, after all, being first is not a good argument) is the fact that the movie doesn?t treat this as some sort of overt fantasy; it?s not a movie that?s there to have 13-year-olds go ?college is cool, man? (although they?ll do it anyway). There?s a certain amount of realism here (the scene in which students smoke pot with professor Donald Sutherland particularly hits home) and although the whole thing is certainly far from subtle, the comedic timing here is perfect. The major attraction here, of course, is the brilliant John Belushi, but contrarily to what the box will lead us to believe, his character is strictly supporting. The cast also includes Tom Hulce, Tim Matheson, Kevin Bacon, John Vernon, Stephen Furst, Verna Bloom and Karen Allen. Too bad it?s so ?old? that contemporary audiences will prefer stuff like Van Wilder (?where the music is good and the chicks hot and naked, not wearing old lady underwear?).

Lost in Translation (2003) ****

Didn?t quite fall ass-backwards in love with this one, although it did kill my insides at the end, so I suppose it deserves credit for that. In fact it all works very well; the only qualm I have is that the cultural humor is stretched a bit thin and that the subplots with the husband and the blonde movie star (Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris) are fairly pointless. The thing is, Charlotte?s husband should only be glimpsed; he?s supposed to be absent and so on? we?re given too much of an insight about who he is which rather detracts from Charlotte?s motivations. In any case, the central story (that of actor Murray befriending Johannson?s young, bored wife) works wonderfully, a subtly, sweetly romantic tale that ends in the perfect way. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson are absolutely perfect; if you?re a straight male and you don?t want to marry Charlotte by the end of the movie? you?re not human.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) ****

I came, I went, I saw. I liked. Although it?s far from being the flawless masterpiece that many have made it out to be, ROTK almost equals the first instalment in the series, and certainly betters the pace-challenged second instalment. Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin) take on the last limb of their journey towards Mount Doom with the ever-annoying Gollum in tow, while the rest of the Fellowship protect a gigantic city from a horde of Orc invaders. The action here remains absolutely breathtaking, the computer effects border on orgasmic? but the film sometimes feels too inclined to show off its impressive effects and belittles the characters. At three-and-a-half hours, it seems like it should be too long, but it?s only the epilogue (a drawn-out twenty minutes or so) that reminds you that you?ve been sitting for a hell of a long time. There are a couple of scenes that don?t work (Legolas, who remains in the background for practically the entire film, taking on one of those huge elephant things single-handedly while barely breaking into a sweat is particularly hard to swallow) but it?s a damn good yarn, the kind that we don?t see often enough.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) ****

Recently revisited this childhood favorite? I certainly know why I liked it as a kid. Harrison Ford stars as the now-famous professor-turned-whip-wielding-archeologist, who has found information that may lead him to finding the sacred Ark of the Covenant? and, obviously, the Nazis also want it. A good, old-fashioned adventure movie from Spielberg; you can?t hate this movie. Hating this movie is against human biology. It?s obviously not without flaws: the female character (there?s only one) serves the sole purpose of being pushed around and somewhat lowering the testosterone level, and a great deal of the supporting actors (including John Rhys-Davies as a friend of Indiana Jones? and Alfred Molina as a guide who doesn?t do much guiding before being impaled) are broad caricatures. But, as I said, Spielberg never intended to make a serious movie, and this tongue-in-cheek approach works very well for the movie (and it was eventually taken to overkill in the sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

(Hey, I fixed the writing. All right.)

American Wedding

[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]American Wedding (2003) **[/color][/size][/font][/b]
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[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]What was left of the franchise has been totally milked dry in this occasionally funny but mostly cookie-cutter second sequel. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) get married and hold a lavish wedding, to which they don?t invite Stifler (Seann William Scott). He comes around anyway and puts on an act to win the heart of Michelle?s sister Cadence (January Jones)? who is also being courted by Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). And, obviously, embarrassing things happen throughout. Half the script is filled with clunky dialogue and tired quips lifted straight from the first season of Friends and the other half with amusing one-liners for Stifler, who gets all of the film?s best lines. However, even Stifler cannot overcome the dreadful predictability and formulaic plot developments of the film; the first film (and, to a certain extent, the second) was original and entertaining. This one is by-the-numbers the whole way through, like the planned second season of a bad sitcom that never made it past pilot stage. I will admit, however, that there?s a certain comfort and familiarity in these characters that makes the film seem funnier than it actually is; it?s not a good movie, but I liked watching it. Most of the female cast (as well as Chris Klein, who?s certainly not missed) has been excised here? and the brilliant addition of Eugene Levy?s frequent co-star, Fred Willard (as Michelle?s father) proves to be absolutely useless as he is given practically nothing funny to say. This probably won?t stop them from making another sequel? but what? American Maternity? American Divorce? Maybe they?ve run out of ideas. I wish.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
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[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Open Range (2003) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
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[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]A traditional Hollywood western the likes of which we haven?t seen since John Wayne graced the screens. This is not a revisionist western, this is not an anti-western, a comedy western, a spaghetti western or any of that; it?s an honest to goodness cowboy movie, complete with characters named Boss and Mac and a main street with the General Store and everything. Charley and Boss (Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall) are two cowboys who have to take matters in their own hands when one of their men is killed and another severely injured by a rancher named Baxter (Michael Gambon), who hates cowboys who have their cattle graze on the open range. Throw in a severely underdeveloped love story between Charley and the doctor?s sister (Annette Bening), some choice character actors and a perfectly executed shoot-out and you?ve got yourself a great little western, one that?s certainly not perfect but that looks fondly back on the days of John Ford and The Duke and makes for solid entertainment. [/color][/size][/font][/b]
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[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Buffalo Soldiers (2003) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
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[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Starting out like a German-set MASH and eventually turning into a bizarre cross between Fight Club, Catch-22 and Spun, Buffalo Soldiers is certainly not for everybody. Joaquin Phoenix (in an excellent performance) plays Ray Elwood, an Army clerk who routinely screws the system in order to deal heavy-duty cleaning agents, arms and home-made heroin right under the eyes of his naïve colonel (Ed Harris). Things get out of hand when a new sergeant (Scott Glenn) arrives on base and picks Elwood as a punching bag? not to mention that Elwood is banging his daughter (Anna Paquin) AND making a crapload of heroin for the base kingpin, Saad (Shiek Mahmud-Bey). At first, I didn?t quite like where the movie was going as it quickly veers from irreverent black comedy to a more straight-laced drama, but things eventually pay off in the end. Phoenix, as stated above, is great, and the film is frequently hilarious. There are a few unnecessary twists here and there? but otherwise it?s a very good little movie.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
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[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) ***[/color][/size][/font][/b]
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[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]I?m starting to get weary of Robert Rodriguez; every time I watch one of his films, I?m paying more attention to the way he shoots and the stuff he pulls off than the actual plot of the movie, which is often so convoluted that it?s a wonder Rodriguez ever made sense of his own script. From what I can gather, this one has El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) being recruited (apparently) by FBI agent Sands (Johnny Depp) to take out drug dealer Willem Dafoe and his mysterious, Chihuahua-manipulating cohort (Mickey Rourke)? Oh, and El Mariachi is mad because some other dude killed his wife (Salma Hayek). Meanwhile, Ruben Blades narrates his own life to himself, Cheech Marin shows up again just to die (again), Enrique Iglesias (!) wields a flame-throwing guitar case, Danny Trejo looks badass? and I think somehow the President of Mexico is involved as well. Full of slam-bang action but completely lacking any kind of coherent plot, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a shade better than Desperado, if only for the performances of its sterling cast. The action is stunningly shot, and I admire Rodriguez as a filmmaker? but as a storyteller he?s got serious work to do. After the seventeenth headshot and millionth explosion, you kinda get anxious to know where the plot?s going. Turns out it?s not getting far.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
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[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Cabin Fever (2003) **1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
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[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]I tried, I really freakin? tried? but this just didn?t work. Eli Roth obviously knows what he?s doing? maybe overly so. People are comparing this to Raimi and Jackson? are you nuts?! There?s a good idea lurking here somewhere; since the ?bad guy? is a disease, the film can sidestep most of the genre?s stupidity (running away from the killer, etc.) only to get lost in absolutely inexplicable humor. Taking a stock plot (kids go to a cabin, ho ho) and stock characters, Cabin Fever attempts to inject new blood in a tired old shell? but how new is this blood? It?s not particularly scary (although I will give it points for being gross) and it?s not really funny until the end, where everything just falls apart. Not the revelation in horror I heard it was? although it?s still a step up from the godawful Wrong Turn, which more or less attempted the same thing.[/color][/size][/font][/b]

Buffalo Soldiers
½

[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]American Wedding (2003) **[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]What was left of the franchise has been totally milked dry in this occasionally funny but mostly cookie-cutter second sequel. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) get married and hold a lavish wedding, to which they don?t invite Stifler (Seann William Scott). He comes around anyway and puts on an act to win the heart of Michelle?s sister Cadence (January Jones)? who is also being courted by Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). And, obviously, embarrassing things happen throughout. Half the script is filled with clunky dialogue and tired quips lifted straight from the first season of Friends and the other half with amusing one-liners for Stifler, who gets all of the film?s best lines. However, even Stifler cannot overcome the dreadful predictability and formulaic plot developments of the film; the first film (and, to a certain extent, the second) was original and entertaining. This one is by-the-numbers the whole way through, like the planned second season of a bad sitcom that never made it past pilot stage. I will admit, however, that there?s a certain comfort and familiarity in these characters that makes the film seem funnier than it actually is; it?s not a good movie, but I liked watching it. Most of the female cast (as well as Chris Klein, who?s certainly not missed) has been excised here? and the brilliant addition of Eugene Levy?s frequent co-star, Fred Willard (as Michelle?s father) proves to be absolutely useless as he is given practically nothing funny to say. This probably won?t stop them from making another sequel? but what? American Maternity? American Divorce? Maybe they?ve run out of ideas. I wish.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Open Range (2003) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]A traditional Hollywood western the likes of which we haven?t seen since John Wayne graced the screens. This is not a revisionist western, this is not an anti-western, a comedy western, a spaghetti western or any of that; it?s an honest to goodness cowboy movie, complete with characters named Boss and Mac and a main street with the General Store and everything. Charley and Boss (Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall) are two cowboys who have to take matters in their own hands when one of their men is killed and another severely injured by a rancher named Baxter (Michael Gambon), who hates cowboys who have their cattle graze on the open range. Throw in a severely underdeveloped love story between Charley and the doctor?s sister (Annette Bening), some choice character actors and a perfectly executed shoot-out and you?ve got yourself a great little western, one that?s certainly not perfect but that looks fondly back on the days of John Ford and The Duke and makes for solid entertainment. [/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Buffalo Soldiers (2003) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Starting out like a German-set MASH and eventually turning into a bizarre cross between Fight Club, Catch-22 and Spun, Buffalo Soldiers is certainly not for everybody. Joaquin Phoenix (in an excellent performance) plays Ray Elwood, an Army clerk who routinely screws the system in order to deal heavy-duty cleaning agents, arms and home-made heroin right under the eyes of his naïve colonel (Ed Harris). Things get out of hand when a new sergeant (Scott Glenn) arrives on base and picks Elwood as a punching bag? not to mention that Elwood is banging his daughter (Anna Paquin) AND making a crapload of heroin for the base kingpin, Saad (Shiek Mahmud-Bey). At first, I didn?t quite like where the movie was going as it quickly veers from irreverent black comedy to a more straight-laced drama, but things eventually pay off in the end. Phoenix, as stated above, is great, and the film is frequently hilarious. There are a few unnecessary twists here and there? but otherwise it?s a very good little movie.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) ***[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]I?m starting to get weary of Robert Rodriguez; every time I watch one of his films, I?m paying more attention to the way he shoots and the stuff he pulls off than the actual plot of the movie, which is often so convoluted that it?s a wonder Rodriguez ever made sense of his own script. From what I can gather, this one has El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) being recruited (apparently) by FBI agent Sands (Johnny Depp) to take out drug dealer Willem Dafoe and his mysterious, Chihuahua-manipulating cohort (Mickey Rourke)? Oh, and El Mariachi is mad because some other dude killed his wife (Salma Hayek). Meanwhile, Ruben Blades narrates his own life to himself, Cheech Marin shows up again just to die (again), Enrique Iglesias (!) wields a flame-throwing guitar case, Danny Trejo looks badass? and I think somehow the President of Mexico is involved as well. Full of slam-bang action but completely lacking any kind of coherent plot, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a shade better than Desperado, if only for the performances of its sterling cast. The action is stunningly shot, and I admire Rodriguez as a filmmaker? but as a storyteller he?s got serious work to do. After the seventeenth headshot and millionth explosion, you kinda get anxious to know where the plot?s going. Turns out it?s not getting far.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Cabin Fever (2003) **1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]I tried, I really freakin? tried? but this just didn?t work. Eli Roth obviously knows what he?s doing? maybe overly so. People are comparing this to Raimi and Jackson? are you nuts?! There?s a good idea lurking here somewhere; since the ?bad guy? is a disease, the film can sidestep most of the genre?s stupidity (running away from the killer, etc.) only to get lost in absolutely inexplicable humor. Taking a stock plot (kids go to a cabin, ho ho) and stock characters, Cabin Fever attempts to inject new blood in a tired old shell? but how new is this blood? It?s not particularly scary (although I will give it points for being gross) and it?s not really funny until the end, where everything just falls apart. Not the revelation in horror I heard it was? although it?s still a step up from the godawful Wrong Turn, which more or less attempted the same thing.[/color][/size][/font][/b]

Cabin Fever
Cabin Fever(2002)
½

[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]American Wedding (2003) **[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]What was left of the franchise has been totally milked dry in this occasionally funny but mostly cookie-cutter second sequel. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) get married and hold a lavish wedding, to which they don?t invite Stifler (Seann William Scott). He comes around anyway and puts on an act to win the heart of Michelle?s sister Cadence (January Jones)? who is also being courted by Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). And, obviously, embarrassing things happen throughout. Half the script is filled with clunky dialogue and tired quips lifted straight from the first season of Friends and the other half with amusing one-liners for Stifler, who gets all of the film?s best lines. However, even Stifler cannot overcome the dreadful predictability and formulaic plot developments of the film; the first film (and, to a certain extent, the second) was original and entertaining. This one is by-the-numbers the whole way through, like the planned second season of a bad sitcom that never made it past pilot stage. I will admit, however, that there?s a certain comfort and familiarity in these characters that makes the film seem funnier than it actually is; it?s not a good movie, but I liked watching it. Most of the female cast (as well as Chris Klein, who?s certainly not missed) has been excised here? and the brilliant addition of Eugene Levy?s frequent co-star, Fred Willard (as Michelle?s father) proves to be absolutely useless as he is given practically nothing funny to say. This probably won?t stop them from making another sequel? but what? American Maternity? American Divorce? Maybe they?ve run out of ideas. I wish.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Open Range (2003) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]A traditional Hollywood western the likes of which we haven?t seen since John Wayne graced the screens. This is not a revisionist western, this is not an anti-western, a comedy western, a spaghetti western or any of that; it?s an honest to goodness cowboy movie, complete with characters named Boss and Mac and a main street with the General Store and everything. Charley and Boss (Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall) are two cowboys who have to take matters in their own hands when one of their men is killed and another severely injured by a rancher named Baxter (Michael Gambon), who hates cowboys who have their cattle graze on the open range. Throw in a severely underdeveloped love story between Charley and the doctor?s sister (Annette Bening), some choice character actors and a perfectly executed shoot-out and you?ve got yourself a great little western, one that?s certainly not perfect but that looks fondly back on the days of John Ford and The Duke and makes for solid entertainment. [/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Buffalo Soldiers (2003) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Starting out like a German-set MASH and eventually turning into a bizarre cross between Fight Club, Catch-22 and Spun, Buffalo Soldiers is certainly not for everybody. Joaquin Phoenix (in an excellent performance) plays Ray Elwood, an Army clerk who routinely screws the system in order to deal heavy-duty cleaning agents, arms and home-made heroin right under the eyes of his naïve colonel (Ed Harris). Things get out of hand when a new sergeant (Scott Glenn) arrives on base and picks Elwood as a punching bag? not to mention that Elwood is banging his daughter (Anna Paquin) AND making a crapload of heroin for the base kingpin, Saad (Shiek Mahmud-Bey). At first, I didn?t quite like where the movie was going as it quickly veers from irreverent black comedy to a more straight-laced drama, but things eventually pay off in the end. Phoenix, as stated above, is great, and the film is frequently hilarious. There are a few unnecessary twists here and there? but otherwise it?s a very good little movie.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) ***[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]I?m starting to get weary of Robert Rodriguez; every time I watch one of his films, I?m paying more attention to the way he shoots and the stuff he pulls off than the actual plot of the movie, which is often so convoluted that it?s a wonder Rodriguez ever made sense of his own script. From what I can gather, this one has El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) being recruited (apparently) by FBI agent Sands (Johnny Depp) to take out drug dealer Willem Dafoe and his mysterious, Chihuahua-manipulating cohort (Mickey Rourke)? Oh, and El Mariachi is mad because some other dude killed his wife (Salma Hayek). Meanwhile, Ruben Blades narrates his own life to himself, Cheech Marin shows up again just to die (again), Enrique Iglesias (!) wields a flame-throwing guitar case, Danny Trejo looks badass? and I think somehow the President of Mexico is involved as well. Full of slam-bang action but completely lacking any kind of coherent plot, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a shade better than Desperado, if only for the performances of its sterling cast. The action is stunningly shot, and I admire Rodriguez as a filmmaker? but as a storyteller he?s got serious work to do. After the seventeenth headshot and millionth explosion, you kinda get anxious to know where the plot?s going. Turns out it?s not getting far.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Cabin Fever (2003) **1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]I tried, I really freakin? tried? but this just didn?t work. Eli Roth obviously knows what he?s doing? maybe overly so. People are comparing this to Raimi and Jackson? are you nuts?! There?s a good idea lurking here somewhere; since the ?bad guy? is a disease, the film can sidestep most of the genre?s stupidity (running away from the killer, etc.) only to get lost in absolutely inexplicable humor. Taking a stock plot (kids go to a cabin, ho ho) and stock characters, Cabin Fever attempts to inject new blood in a tired old shell? but how new is this blood? It?s not particularly scary (although I will give it points for being gross) and it?s not really funny until the end, where everything just falls apart. Not the revelation in horror I heard it was? although it?s still a step up from the godawful Wrong Turn, which more or less attempted the same thing.[/color][/size][/font][/b]

Once upon a Time in Mexico

[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]American Wedding (2003) **[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]What was left of the franchise has been totally milked dry in this occasionally funny but mostly cookie-cutter second sequel. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) get married and hold a lavish wedding, to which they don?t invite Stifler (Seann William Scott). He comes around anyway and puts on an act to win the heart of Michelle?s sister Cadence (January Jones)? who is also being courted by Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). And, obviously, embarrassing things happen throughout. Half the script is filled with clunky dialogue and tired quips lifted straight from the first season of Friends and the other half with amusing one-liners for Stifler, who gets all of the film?s best lines. However, even Stifler cannot overcome the dreadful predictability and formulaic plot developments of the film; the first film (and, to a certain extent, the second) was original and entertaining. This one is by-the-numbers the whole way through, like the planned second season of a bad sitcom that never made it past pilot stage. I will admit, however, that there?s a certain comfort and familiarity in these characters that makes the film seem funnier than it actually is; it?s not a good movie, but I liked watching it. Most of the female cast (as well as Chris Klein, who?s certainly not missed) has been excised here? and the brilliant addition of Eugene Levy?s frequent co-star, Fred Willard (as Michelle?s father) proves to be absolutely useless as he is given practically nothing funny to say. This probably won?t stop them from making another sequel? but what? American Maternity? American Divorce? Maybe they?ve run out of ideas. I wish.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Open Range (2003) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]A traditional Hollywood western the likes of which we haven?t seen since John Wayne graced the screens. This is not a revisionist western, this is not an anti-western, a comedy western, a spaghetti western or any of that; it?s an honest to goodness cowboy movie, complete with characters named Boss and Mac and a main street with the General Store and everything. Charley and Boss (Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall) are two cowboys who have to take matters in their own hands when one of their men is killed and another severely injured by a rancher named Baxter (Michael Gambon), who hates cowboys who have their cattle graze on the open range. Throw in a severely underdeveloped love story between Charley and the doctor?s sister (Annette Bening), some choice character actors and a perfectly executed shoot-out and you?ve got yourself a great little western, one that?s certainly not perfect but that looks fondly back on the days of John Ford and The Duke and makes for solid entertainment. [/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Buffalo Soldiers (2003) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Starting out like a German-set MASH and eventually turning into a bizarre cross between Fight Club, Catch-22 and Spun, Buffalo Soldiers is certainly not for everybody. Joaquin Phoenix (in an excellent performance) plays Ray Elwood, an Army clerk who routinely screws the system in order to deal heavy-duty cleaning agents, arms and home-made heroin right under the eyes of his naïve colonel (Ed Harris). Things get out of hand when a new sergeant (Scott Glenn) arrives on base and picks Elwood as a punching bag? not to mention that Elwood is banging his daughter (Anna Paquin) AND making a crapload of heroin for the base kingpin, Saad (Shiek Mahmud-Bey). At first, I didn?t quite like where the movie was going as it quickly veers from irreverent black comedy to a more straight-laced drama, but things eventually pay off in the end. Phoenix, as stated above, is great, and the film is frequently hilarious. There are a few unnecessary twists here and there? but otherwise it?s a very good little movie.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) ***[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]I?m starting to get weary of Robert Rodriguez; every time I watch one of his films, I?m paying more attention to the way he shoots and the stuff he pulls off than the actual plot of the movie, which is often so convoluted that it?s a wonder Rodriguez ever made sense of his own script. From what I can gather, this one has El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) being recruited (apparently) by FBI agent Sands (Johnny Depp) to take out drug dealer Willem Dafoe and his mysterious, Chihuahua-manipulating cohort (Mickey Rourke)? Oh, and El Mariachi is mad because some other dude killed his wife (Salma Hayek). Meanwhile, Ruben Blades narrates his own life to himself, Cheech Marin shows up again just to die (again), Enrique Iglesias (!) wields a flame-throwing guitar case, Danny Trejo looks badass? and I think somehow the President of Mexico is involved as well. Full of slam-bang action but completely lacking any kind of coherent plot, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a shade better than Desperado, if only for the performances of its sterling cast. The action is stunningly shot, and I admire Rodriguez as a filmmaker? but as a storyteller he?s got serious work to do. After the seventeenth headshot and millionth explosion, you kinda get anxious to know where the plot?s going. Turns out it?s not getting far.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Cabin Fever (2003) **1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]I tried, I really freakin? tried? but this just didn?t work. Eli Roth obviously knows what he?s doing? maybe overly so. People are comparing this to Raimi and Jackson? are you nuts?! There?s a good idea lurking here somewhere; since the ?bad guy? is a disease, the film can sidestep most of the genre?s stupidity (running away from the killer, etc.) only to get lost in absolutely inexplicable humor. Taking a stock plot (kids go to a cabin, ho ho) and stock characters, Cabin Fever attempts to inject new blood in a tired old shell? but how new is this blood? It?s not particularly scary (although I will give it points for being gross) and it?s not really funny until the end, where everything just falls apart. Not the revelation in horror I heard it was? although it?s still a step up from the godawful Wrong Turn, which more or less attempted the same thing.[/color][/size][/font][/b]

Open Range
Open Range(2003)
½

[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]American Wedding (2003) **[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]What was left of the franchise has been totally milked dry in this occasionally funny but mostly cookie-cutter second sequel. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) get married and hold a lavish wedding, to which they don?t invite Stifler (Seann William Scott). He comes around anyway and puts on an act to win the heart of Michelle?s sister Cadence (January Jones)? who is also being courted by Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). And, obviously, embarrassing things happen throughout. Half the script is filled with clunky dialogue and tired quips lifted straight from the first season of Friends and the other half with amusing one-liners for Stifler, who gets all of the film?s best lines. However, even Stifler cannot overcome the dreadful predictability and formulaic plot developments of the film; the first film (and, to a certain extent, the second) was original and entertaining. This one is by-the-numbers the whole way through, like the planned second season of a bad sitcom that never made it past pilot stage. I will admit, however, that there?s a certain comfort and familiarity in these characters that makes the film seem funnier than it actually is; it?s not a good movie, but I liked watching it. Most of the female cast (as well as Chris Klein, who?s certainly not missed) has been excised here? and the brilliant addition of Eugene Levy?s frequent co-star, Fred Willard (as Michelle?s father) proves to be absolutely useless as he is given practically nothing funny to say. This probably won?t stop them from making another sequel? but what? American Maternity? American Divorce? Maybe they?ve run out of ideas. I wish.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Open Range (2003) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]A traditional Hollywood western the likes of which we haven?t seen since John Wayne graced the screens. This is not a revisionist western, this is not an anti-western, a comedy western, a spaghetti western or any of that; it?s an honest to goodness cowboy movie, complete with characters named Boss and Mac and a main street with the General Store and everything. Charley and Boss (Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall) are two cowboys who have to take matters in their own hands when one of their men is killed and another severely injured by a rancher named Baxter (Michael Gambon), who hates cowboys who have their cattle graze on the open range. Throw in a severely underdeveloped love story between Charley and the doctor?s sister (Annette Bening), some choice character actors and a perfectly executed shoot-out and you?ve got yourself a great little western, one that?s certainly not perfect but that looks fondly back on the days of John Ford and The Duke and makes for solid entertainment. [/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Buffalo Soldiers (2003) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Starting out like a German-set MASH and eventually turning into a bizarre cross between Fight Club, Catch-22 and Spun, Buffalo Soldiers is certainly not for everybody. Joaquin Phoenix (in an excellent performance) plays Ray Elwood, an Army clerk who routinely screws the system in order to deal heavy-duty cleaning agents, arms and home-made heroin right under the eyes of his naïve colonel (Ed Harris). Things get out of hand when a new sergeant (Scott Glenn) arrives on base and picks Elwood as a punching bag? not to mention that Elwood is banging his daughter (Anna Paquin) AND making a crapload of heroin for the base kingpin, Saad (Shiek Mahmud-Bey). At first, I didn?t quite like where the movie was going as it quickly veers from irreverent black comedy to a more straight-laced drama, but things eventually pay off in the end. Phoenix, as stated above, is great, and the film is frequently hilarious. There are a few unnecessary twists here and there? but otherwise it?s a very good little movie.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) ***[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]I?m starting to get weary of Robert Rodriguez; every time I watch one of his films, I?m paying more attention to the way he shoots and the stuff he pulls off than the actual plot of the movie, which is often so convoluted that it?s a wonder Rodriguez ever made sense of his own script. From what I can gather, this one has El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) being recruited (apparently) by FBI agent Sands (Johnny Depp) to take out drug dealer Willem Dafoe and his mysterious, Chihuahua-manipulating cohort (Mickey Rourke)? Oh, and El Mariachi is mad because some other dude killed his wife (Salma Hayek). Meanwhile, Ruben Blades narrates his own life to himself, Cheech Marin shows up again just to die (again), Enrique Iglesias (!) wields a flame-throwing guitar case, Danny Trejo looks badass? and I think somehow the President of Mexico is involved as well. Full of slam-bang action but completely lacking any kind of coherent plot, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a shade better than Desperado, if only for the performances of its sterling cast. The action is stunningly shot, and I admire Rodriguez as a filmmaker? but as a storyteller he?s got serious work to do. After the seventeenth headshot and millionth explosion, you kinda get anxious to know where the plot?s going. Turns out it?s not getting far.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]Cabin Fever (2003) **1/2[/color][/size][/font][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][size=3][/size][/b]
[size=3] [/size]
[b][font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=black]I tried, I really freakin? tried? but this just didn?t work. Eli Roth obviously knows what he?s doing? maybe overly so. People are comparing this to Raimi and Jackson? are you nuts?! There?s a good idea lurking here somewhere; since the ?bad guy? is a disease, the film can sidestep most of the genre?s stupidity (running away from the killer, etc.) only to get lost in absolutely inexplicable humor. Taking a stock plot (kids go to a cabin, ho ho) and stock characters, Cabin Fever attempts to inject new blood in a tired old shell? but how new is this blood? It?s not particularly scary (although I will give it points for being gross) and it?s not really funny until the end, where everything just falls apart. Not the revelation in horror I heard it was? although it?s still a step up from the godawful Wrong Turn, which more or less attempted the same thing.[/color][/size][/font][/b]

11'09''01 - September 11
½

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Butcher Boy (1997) **[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Problematic ?magical realism? black comedy based on a novel by Patrick McCabe. Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens) is a young Irish boy who lives with his depressive mother (Aisling O?Sullivan) and alcoholic father (Stephen Rea) and spends his days playing with his best friend Joe (Alan Boyle). The thing is, Francie is a bit off his rocker. When his mother kills herself, his mind begins to? unravel. He has frequent conversations with the Virgin Mary (played by, obviously, Sinéad O?Connor), takes a crap on his arch-nemesis Mrs. Nugent?s (Fiona Shaw) rug, and generally goes completely insane. Makes for a good black comedy, or even a decent drama, don?t you think? Wrong. The main problem here is that Francie is an annoying little fuckface; you want to slap him off the screen. He renders everything unfunny and labored. Even the emotion here is poorly put across, thanks to Francie?s incessant ramblings. The other thing is, the tone of the film is questionable. It?s shot and scored almost like a freakin? Home Alone movie! People compare this to A Clockwork Orange; it?s not completely wrong? but that film had things that this movie never has, namely: originality (aside from the ?weird? stuff, the plot is dreadfully familiar social drama stuff), humor, drama and a protagonist that, although he was an asshole, never felt like he was some sort of overly excited Dennis the Menace. The acting?s certainly not bad; Owens? performance in itself isn?t bad? it?s just that with everything in the movie being what it is, Francie is simply irritating. In essence, The Butcher Boy is a good movie where absolutely every aspect needs heavy work.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Blues Brothers (1980) ****[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Unbeknownst to many, weapons of mass destruction were contained in Chicago in 1980. Their names? Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), blues musicians. At the beginning of the movie, Jake is released from prison and rejoins his brother Elwood. They visit the nun that raised them and learn that the orphanage must pay 5000 dollars in taxes or else they will be closed. The answer? Get the Blues Brothers band back together and have a giant concert to raise the money. This proves to be harder than they thought, seeing as how the brothers soon get Carrie Fisher, the Illinois branch of the Nazi party, a vengeful country rock band and the entirety of the Chicago police force on their tails. Oh, and sometimes, they stop to sing a song with James Brown, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin. An extremely fun movie, The Blues Brothers only bogs down during its excessive car chase scenes (most of which look perilously like the one before it); at two hours and a half, it?s a bit too long? but the performers are so earnest, the music so good and the film so funny that it goes by in a breeze.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]A Few Good Men (1992) ***[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The most talented of the vanilla hacks in Hollywood (Rob Reiner? in fact that?s not really fair, as Reiner has only been a vanilla hack for the last 14 years? ever since Misery) takes on one of the most cliché-filled genres in movies: the courtroom drama. The result is exactly what you?d expect; there are absolutely no surprises here. Tom Cruise plays a Navy lawyer who?s assigned (along with Demi Moore and Kevin Pollak) to defend a pair of marines who may or may not have killed a fellow soldier during a hazing ritual. Cue in a lot of dependable character actors (Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, JT Walsh, Christopher Guest, Matt Craven, Xander Berkeley, Noah Wyle and Cuba Gooding Jr. before he started sucking) who pave the way for the inevitable confrontation with the very Jack-like colonel played by Jack Nicholson. The film is on auto-pilot most of the way; it?s never quite dreadfully bad nor is it ever particularly captivating. It?s the kind of movie you watch without much attention (to its credit, however? the film is never boring). There are redeeming features, obviously; Nicholson is always entertaining, for one, and some scenes have tension. The two leads (Cruise and Moore) are nothing to write home about, both of them in the stage in their career where acting wasn?t even necessary anymore. I do like the film?s comfortable familiarity, in a way; it?s nothing great but it?s adequate and somehow that works for me. Go figure.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]When Harry Met Sally? (1989) ****[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Refreshingly cynical (for a while, anyway) romantic comedy; in fact, it more or less set the path for every freaking Julia Roberts/Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy since. What sets it apart is a witty, intelligent script from Nora Ephron (who, unsurprisingly, went on to direct a lot of these offspring), spirited performances from the two leads? and an almost complete lack of cutesy, cloying romantic behavior. Harry met Sally in 1977, when both of them were in college and carpooled back home to New York. Over the years they meet again and become friends, despite Harry?s theory that men and women can?t be friends because one always wants to boink the other. Filled with caustic one-liners and a (sometimes overly) perceptive view of romance, it?s the perfect antidote to sugar-sweet romantic comedy while remaining a perfectly charming film in itself? that is, until it throws everything it stands for down the drain and ends with a happy ending. Too bad. [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[b][font=Times New Roman][color=black]11'09''01 - September 11 (2002) ***1/2[/color][/font][/b]

[b][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][/b]
[b][/b][b][font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=black]11 directors from 11 countries make 11 short films about 9/11. Like most movies of its type, it?s a relatively uneven affair. The best film comes from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (director of Amores Perros), who gives us a wrenching audio-visual ?montage? (it?s not a film in the narrative sense) set to sounds of phone calls from inside the tower. The next best film is Claude Lelouch?s, an almost-soundless tale of a deaf woman who ponders leaving her boyfriend while he is escaping Ground Zero. Ken Loach?s film is also powerful, focusing instead on Pinochet?s takeover of Chile on? September 11th, 1973. There is a slew of decent-if-nothing-more shorts from Samira Makhmalbaf (smart but overly cutesy), Idrissia Ouedraogo (funny but rather pointless), Mira Nair (emotional but familiar), Danis Tanovic (startlingly average in every way) and especially Sean Penn (whose contribution stars Ernest Borgnine). The really bad films come from Youssef Chahine, who gives us some sort of half-completed fantasy in which a dead soldier visits the director. It?s pointless, meandering, silly and contrived. Amos Gitai?s film had potential: an unbroken shot of reporters covering a suicide bomber on the morning of 9/11. However the movie is more confusing than anything and feels interminable at eleven minutes. A decent anthology that?s definitely worth seeing for the first three shorts? but, as a matter of fact, they all have at least one redeeming quality.[/color][/size][/font][/b]

The Butcher Boy

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Butcher Boy (1997) **[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Problematic ?magical realism? black comedy based on a novel by Patrick McCabe. Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens) is a young Irish boy who lives with his depressive mother (Aisling O?Sullivan) and alcoholic father (Stephen Rea) and spends his days playing with his best friend Joe (Alan Boyle). The thing is, Francie is a bit off his rocker. When his mother kills herself, his mind begins to? unravel. He has frequent conversations with the Virgin Mary (played by, obviously, Sinéad O?Connor), takes a crap on his arch-nemesis Mrs. Nugent?s (Fiona Shaw) rug, and generally goes completely insane. Makes for a good black comedy, or even a decent drama, don?t you think? Wrong. The main problem here is that Francie is an annoying little fuckface; you want to slap him off the screen. He renders everything unfunny and labored. Even the emotion here is poorly put across, thanks to Francie?s incessant ramblings. The other thing is, the tone of the film is questionable. It?s shot and scored almost like a freakin? Home Alone movie! People compare this to A Clockwork Orange; it?s not completely wrong? but that film had things that this movie never has, namely: originality (aside from the ?weird? stuff, the plot is dreadfully familiar social drama stuff), humor, drama and a protagonist that, although he was an asshole, never felt like he was some sort of overly excited Dennis the Menace. The acting?s certainly not bad; Owens? performance in itself isn?t bad? it?s just that with everything in the movie being what it is, Francie is simply irritating. In essence, The Butcher Boy is a good movie where absolutely every aspect needs heavy work.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Blues Brothers (1980) ****[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Unbeknownst to many, weapons of mass destruction were contained in Chicago in 1980. Their names? Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), blues musicians. At the beginning of the movie, Jake is released from prison and rejoins his brother Elwood. They visit the nun that raised them and learn that the orphanage must pay 5000 dollars in taxes or else they will be closed. The answer? Get the Blues Brothers band back together and have a giant concert to raise the money. This proves to be harder than they thought, seeing as how the brothers soon get Carrie Fisher, the Illinois branch of the Nazi party, a vengeful country rock band and the entirety of the Chicago police force on their tails. Oh, and sometimes, they stop to sing a song with James Brown, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin. An extremely fun movie, The Blues Brothers only bogs down during its excessive car chase scenes (most of which look perilously like the one before it); at two hours and a half, it?s a bit too long? but the performers are so earnest, the music so good and the film so funny that it goes by in a breeze.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]A Few Good Men (1992) ***[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The most talented of the vanilla hacks in Hollywood (Rob Reiner? in fact that?s not really fair, as Reiner has only been a vanilla hack for the last 14 years? ever since Misery) takes on one of the most cliché-filled genres in movies: the courtroom drama. The result is exactly what you?d expect; there are absolutely no surprises here. Tom Cruise plays a Navy lawyer who?s assigned (along with Demi Moore and Kevin Pollak) to defend a pair of marines who may or may not have killed a fellow soldier during a hazing ritual. Cue in a lot of dependable character actors (Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, JT Walsh, Christopher Guest, Matt Craven, Xander Berkeley, Noah Wyle and Cuba Gooding Jr. before he started sucking) who pave the way for the inevitable confrontation with the very Jack-like colonel played by Jack Nicholson. The film is on auto-pilot most of the way; it?s never quite dreadfully bad nor is it ever particularly captivating. It?s the kind of movie you watch without much attention (to its credit, however? the film is never boring). There are redeeming features, obviously; Nicholson is always entertaining, for one, and some scenes have tension. The two leads (Cruise and Moore) are nothing to write home about, both of them in the stage in their career where acting wasn?t even necessary anymore. I do like the film?s comfortable familiarity, in a way; it?s nothing great but it?s adequate and somehow that works for me. Go figure.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]When Harry Met Sally? (1989) ****[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Refreshingly cynical (for a while, anyway) romantic comedy; in fact, it more or less set the path for every freaking Julia Roberts/Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy since. What sets it apart is a witty, intelligent script from Nora Ephron (who, unsurprisingly, went on to direct a lot of these offspring), spirited performances from the two leads? and an almost complete lack of cutesy, cloying romantic behavior. Harry met Sally in 1977, when both of them were in college and carpooled back home to New York. Over the years they meet again and become friends, despite Harry?s theory that men and women can?t be friends because one always wants to boink the other. Filled with caustic one-liners and a (sometimes overly) perceptive view of romance, it?s the perfect antidote to sugar-sweet romantic comedy while remaining a perfectly charming film in itself? that is, until it throws everything it stands for down the drain and ends with a happy ending. Too bad. [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[b][font=Times New Roman][color=black]11'09''01 - September 11 (2002) ***1/2[/color][/font][/b]

[b][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][/b]
[b][/b][b][font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=black]11 directors from 11 countries make 11 short films about 9/11. Like most movies of its type, it?s a relatively uneven affair. The best film comes from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (director of Amores Perros), who gives us a wrenching audio-visual ?montage? (it?s not a film in the narrative sense) set to sounds of phone calls from inside the tower. The next best film is Claude Lelouch?s, an almost-soundless tale of a deaf woman who ponders leaving her boyfriend while he is escaping Ground Zero. Ken Loach?s film is also powerful, focusing instead on Pinochet?s takeover of Chile on? September 11th, 1973. There is a slew of decent-if-nothing-more shorts from Samira Makhmalbaf (smart but overly cutesy), Idrissia Ouedraogo (funny but rather pointless), Mira Nair (emotional but familiar), Danis Tanovic (startlingly average in every way) and especially Sean Penn (whose contribution stars Ernest Borgnine). The really bad films come from Youssef Chahine, who gives us some sort of half-completed fantasy in which a dead soldier visits the director. It?s pointless, meandering, silly and contrived. Amos Gitai?s film had potential: an unbroken shot of reporters covering a suicide bomber on the morning of 9/11. However the movie is more confusing than anything and feels interminable at eleven minutes. A decent anthology that?s definitely worth seeing for the first three shorts? but, as a matter of fact, they all have at least one redeeming quality.[/color][/size][/font][/b]

When Harry Met Sally

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Butcher Boy (1997) **[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Problematic ?magical realism? black comedy based on a novel by Patrick McCabe. Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens) is a young Irish boy who lives with his depressive mother (Aisling O?Sullivan) and alcoholic father (Stephen Rea) and spends his days playing with his best friend Joe (Alan Boyle). The thing is, Francie is a bit off his rocker. When his mother kills herself, his mind begins to? unravel. He has frequent conversations with the Virgin Mary (played by, obviously, Sinéad O?Connor), takes a crap on his arch-nemesis Mrs. Nugent?s (Fiona Shaw) rug, and generally goes completely insane. Makes for a good black comedy, or even a decent drama, don?t you think? Wrong. The main problem here is that Francie is an annoying little fuckface; you want to slap him off the screen. He renders everything unfunny and labored. Even the emotion here is poorly put across, thanks to Francie?s incessant ramblings. The other thing is, the tone of the film is questionable. It?s shot and scored almost like a freakin? Home Alone movie! People compare this to A Clockwork Orange; it?s not completely wrong? but that film had things that this movie never has, namely: originality (aside from the ?weird? stuff, the plot is dreadfully familiar social drama stuff), humor, drama and a protagonist that, although he was an asshole, never felt like he was some sort of overly excited Dennis the Menace. The acting?s certainly not bad; Owens? performance in itself isn?t bad? it?s just that with everything in the movie being what it is, Francie is simply irritating. In essence, The Butcher Boy is a good movie where absolutely every aspect needs heavy work.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Blues Brothers (1980) ****[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Unbeknownst to many, weapons of mass destruction were contained in Chicago in 1980. Their names? Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), blues musicians. At the beginning of the movie, Jake is released from prison and rejoins his brother Elwood. They visit the nun that raised them and learn that the orphanage must pay 5000 dollars in taxes or else they will be closed. The answer? Get the Blues Brothers band back together and have a giant concert to raise the money. This proves to be harder than they thought, seeing as how the brothers soon get Carrie Fisher, the Illinois branch of the Nazi party, a vengeful country rock band and the entirety of the Chicago police force on their tails. Oh, and sometimes, they stop to sing a song with James Brown, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin. An extremely fun movie, The Blues Brothers only bogs down during its excessive car chase scenes (most of which look perilously like the one before it); at two hours and a half, it?s a bit too long? but the performers are so earnest, the music so good and the film so funny that it goes by in a breeze.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]A Few Good Men (1992) ***[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The most talented of the vanilla hacks in Hollywood (Rob Reiner? in fact that?s not really fair, as Reiner has only been a vanilla hack for the last 14 years? ever since Misery) takes on one of the most cliché-filled genres in movies: the courtroom drama. The result is exactly what you?d expect; there are absolutely no surprises here. Tom Cruise plays a Navy lawyer who?s assigned (along with Demi Moore and Kevin Pollak) to defend a pair of marines who may or may not have killed a fellow soldier during a hazing ritual. Cue in a lot of dependable character actors (Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, JT Walsh, Christopher Guest, Matt Craven, Xander Berkeley, Noah Wyle and Cuba Gooding Jr. before he started sucking) who pave the way for the inevitable confrontation with the very Jack-like colonel played by Jack Nicholson. The film is on auto-pilot most of the way; it?s never quite dreadfully bad nor is it ever particularly captivating. It?s the kind of movie you watch without much attention (to its credit, however? the film is never boring). There are redeeming features, obviously; Nicholson is always entertaining, for one, and some scenes have tension. The two leads (Cruise and Moore) are nothing to write home about, both of them in the stage in their career where acting wasn?t even necessary anymore. I do like the film?s comfortable familiarity, in a way; it?s nothing great but it?s adequate and somehow that works for me. Go figure.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]When Harry Met Sally? (1989) ****[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Refreshingly cynical (for a while, anyway) romantic comedy; in fact, it more or less set the path for every freaking Julia Roberts/Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy since. What sets it apart is a witty, intelligent script from Nora Ephron (who, unsurprisingly, went on to direct a lot of these offspring), spirited performances from the two leads? and an almost complete lack of cutesy, cloying romantic behavior. Harry met Sally in 1977, when both of them were in college and carpooled back home to New York. Over the years they meet again and become friends, despite Harry?s theory that men and women can?t be friends because one always wants to boink the other. Filled with caustic one-liners and a (sometimes overly) perceptive view of romance, it?s the perfect antidote to sugar-sweet romantic comedy while remaining a perfectly charming film in itself? that is, until it throws everything it stands for down the drain and ends with a happy ending. Too bad. [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[b][font=Times New Roman][color=black]11'09''01 - September 11 (2002) ***1/2[/color][/font][/b]

[b][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][/b]
[b][/b][b][font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=black]11 directors from 11 countries make 11 short films about 9/11. Like most movies of its type, it?s a relatively uneven affair. The best film comes from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (director of Amores Perros), who gives us a wrenching audio-visual ?montage? (it?s not a film in the narrative sense) set to sounds of phone calls from inside the tower. The next best film is Claude Lelouch?s, an almost-soundless tale of a deaf woman who ponders leaving her boyfriend while he is escaping Ground Zero. Ken Loach?s film is also powerful, focusing instead on Pinochet?s takeover of Chile on? September 11th, 1973. There is a slew of decent-if-nothing-more shorts from Samira Makhmalbaf (smart but overly cutesy), Idrissia Ouedraogo (funny but rather pointless), Mira Nair (emotional but familiar), Danis Tanovic (startlingly average in every way) and especially Sean Penn (whose contribution stars Ernest Borgnine). The really bad films come from Youssef Chahine, who gives us some sort of half-completed fantasy in which a dead soldier visits the director. It?s pointless, meandering, silly and contrived. Amos Gitai?s film had potential: an unbroken shot of reporters covering a suicide bomber on the morning of 9/11. However the movie is more confusing than anything and feels interminable at eleven minutes. A decent anthology that?s definitely worth seeing for the first three shorts? but, as a matter of fact, they all have at least one redeeming quality.[/color][/size][/font][/b]

A Few Good Men

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Butcher Boy (1997) **[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Problematic ?magical realism? black comedy based on a novel by Patrick McCabe. Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens) is a young Irish boy who lives with his depressive mother (Aisling O?Sullivan) and alcoholic father (Stephen Rea) and spends his days playing with his best friend Joe (Alan Boyle). The thing is, Francie is a bit off his rocker. When his mother kills herself, his mind begins to? unravel. He has frequent conversations with the Virgin Mary (played by, obviously, Sinéad O?Connor), takes a crap on his arch-nemesis Mrs. Nugent?s (Fiona Shaw) rug, and generally goes completely insane. Makes for a good black comedy, or even a decent drama, don?t you think? Wrong. The main problem here is that Francie is an annoying little fuckface; you want to slap him off the screen. He renders everything unfunny and labored. Even the emotion here is poorly put across, thanks to Francie?s incessant ramblings. The other thing is, the tone of the film is questionable. It?s shot and scored almost like a freakin? Home Alone movie! People compare this to A Clockwork Orange; it?s not completely wrong? but that film had things that this movie never has, namely: originality (aside from the ?weird? stuff, the plot is dreadfully familiar social drama stuff), humor, drama and a protagonist that, although he was an asshole, never felt like he was some sort of overly excited Dennis the Menace. The acting?s certainly not bad; Owens? performance in itself isn?t bad? it?s just that with everything in the movie being what it is, Francie is simply irritating. In essence, The Butcher Boy is a good movie where absolutely every aspect needs heavy work.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Blues Brothers (1980) ****[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Unbeknownst to many, weapons of mass destruction were contained in Chicago in 1980. Their names? Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), blues musicians. At the beginning of the movie, Jake is released from prison and rejoins his brother Elwood. They visit the nun that raised them and learn that the orphanage must pay 5000 dollars in taxes or else they will be closed. The answer? Get the Blues Brothers band back together and have a giant concert to raise the money. This proves to be harder than they thought, seeing as how the brothers soon get Carrie Fisher, the Illinois branch of the Nazi party, a vengeful country rock band and the entirety of the Chicago police force on their tails. Oh, and sometimes, they stop to sing a song with James Brown, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin. An extremely fun movie, The Blues Brothers only bogs down during its excessive car chase scenes (most of which look perilously like the one before it); at two hours and a half, it?s a bit too long? but the performers are so earnest, the music so good and the film so funny that it goes by in a breeze.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]A Few Good Men (1992) ***[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The most talented of the vanilla hacks in Hollywood (Rob Reiner? in fact that?s not really fair, as Reiner has only been a vanilla hack for the last 14 years? ever since Misery) takes on one of the most cliché-filled genres in movies: the courtroom drama. The result is exactly what you?d expect; there are absolutely no surprises here. Tom Cruise plays a Navy lawyer who?s assigned (along with Demi Moore and Kevin Pollak) to defend a pair of marines who may or may not have killed a fellow soldier during a hazing ritual. Cue in a lot of dependable character actors (Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, JT Walsh, Christopher Guest, Matt Craven, Xander Berkeley, Noah Wyle and Cuba Gooding Jr. before he started sucking) who pave the way for the inevitable confrontation with the very Jack-like colonel played by Jack Nicholson. The film is on auto-pilot most of the way; it?s never quite dreadfully bad nor is it ever particularly captivating. It?s the kind of movie you watch without much attention (to its credit, however? the film is never boring). There are redeeming features, obviously; Nicholson is always entertaining, for one, and some scenes have tension. The two leads (Cruise and Moore) are nothing to write home about, both of them in the stage in their career where acting wasn?t even necessary anymore. I do like the film?s comfortable familiarity, in a way; it?s nothing great but it?s adequate and somehow that works for me. Go figure.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]When Harry Met Sally? (1989) ****[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Refreshingly cynical (for a while, anyway) romantic comedy; in fact, it more or less set the path for every freaking Julia Roberts/Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy since. What sets it apart is a witty, intelligent script from Nora Ephron (who, unsurprisingly, went on to direct a lot of these offspring), spirited performances from the two leads? and an almost complete lack of cutesy, cloying romantic behavior. Harry met Sally in 1977, when both of them were in college and carpooled back home to New York. Over the years they meet again and become friends, despite Harry?s theory that men and women can?t be friends because one always wants to boink the other. Filled with caustic one-liners and a (sometimes overly) perceptive view of romance, it?s the perfect antidote to sugar-sweet romantic comedy while remaining a perfectly charming film in itself? that is, until it throws everything it stands for down the drain and ends with a happy ending. Too bad. [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[b][font=Times New Roman][color=black]11'09''01 - September 11 (2002) ***1/2[/color][/font][/b]

[b][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][/b]
[b][/b][b][font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=black]11 directors from 11 countries make 11 short films about 9/11. Like most movies of its type, it?s a relatively uneven affair. The best film comes from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (director of Amores Perros), who gives us a wrenching audio-visual ?montage? (it?s not a film in the narrative sense) set to sounds of phone calls from inside the tower. The next best film is Claude Lelouch?s, an almost-soundless tale of a deaf woman who ponders leaving her boyfriend while he is escaping Ground Zero. Ken Loach?s film is also powerful, focusing instead on Pinochet?s takeover of Chile on? September 11th, 1973. There is a slew of decent-if-nothing-more shorts from Samira Makhmalbaf (smart but overly cutesy), Idrissia Ouedraogo (funny but rather pointless), Mira Nair (emotional but familiar), Danis Tanovic (startlingly average in every way) and especially Sean Penn (whose contribution stars Ernest Borgnine). The really bad films come from Youssef Chahine, who gives us some sort of half-completed fantasy in which a dead soldier visits the director. It?s pointless, meandering, silly and contrived. Amos Gitai?s film had potential: an unbroken shot of reporters covering a suicide bomber on the morning of 9/11. However the movie is more confusing than anything and feels interminable at eleven minutes. A decent anthology that?s definitely worth seeing for the first three shorts? but, as a matter of fact, they all have at least one redeeming quality.[/color][/size][/font][/b]

The Blues Brothers

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Butcher Boy (1997) **[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Problematic ?magical realism? black comedy based on a novel by Patrick McCabe. Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens) is a young Irish boy who lives with his depressive mother (Aisling O?Sullivan) and alcoholic father (Stephen Rea) and spends his days playing with his best friend Joe (Alan Boyle). The thing is, Francie is a bit off his rocker. When his mother kills herself, his mind begins to? unravel. He has frequent conversations with the Virgin Mary (played by, obviously, Sinéad O?Connor), takes a crap on his arch-nemesis Mrs. Nugent?s (Fiona Shaw) rug, and generally goes completely insane. Makes for a good black comedy, or even a decent drama, don?t you think? Wrong. The main problem here is that Francie is an annoying little fuckface; you want to slap him off the screen. He renders everything unfunny and labored. Even the emotion here is poorly put across, thanks to Francie?s incessant ramblings. The other thing is, the tone of the film is questionable. It?s shot and scored almost like a freakin? Home Alone movie! People compare this to A Clockwork Orange; it?s not completely wrong? but that film had things that this movie never has, namely: originality (aside from the ?weird? stuff, the plot is dreadfully familiar social drama stuff), humor, drama and a protagonist that, although he was an asshole, never felt like he was some sort of overly excited Dennis the Menace. The acting?s certainly not bad; Owens? performance in itself isn?t bad? it?s just that with everything in the movie being what it is, Francie is simply irritating. In essence, The Butcher Boy is a good movie where absolutely every aspect needs heavy work.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Blues Brothers (1980) ****[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Unbeknownst to many, weapons of mass destruction were contained in Chicago in 1980. Their names? Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), blues musicians. At the beginning of the movie, Jake is released from prison and rejoins his brother Elwood. They visit the nun that raised them and learn that the orphanage must pay 5000 dollars in taxes or else they will be closed. The answer? Get the Blues Brothers band back together and have a giant concert to raise the money. This proves to be harder than they thought, seeing as how the brothers soon get Carrie Fisher, the Illinois branch of the Nazi party, a vengeful country rock band and the entirety of the Chicago police force on their tails. Oh, and sometimes, they stop to sing a song with James Brown, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin. An extremely fun movie, The Blues Brothers only bogs down during its excessive car chase scenes (most of which look perilously like the one before it); at two hours and a half, it?s a bit too long? but the performers are so earnest, the music so good and the film so funny that it goes by in a breeze.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]A Few Good Men (1992) ***[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]The most talented of the vanilla hacks in Hollywood (Rob Reiner? in fact that?s not really fair, as Reiner has only been a vanilla hack for the last 14 years? ever since Misery) takes on one of the most cliché-filled genres in movies: the courtroom drama. The result is exactly what you?d expect; there are absolutely no surprises here. Tom Cruise plays a Navy lawyer who?s assigned (along with Demi Moore and Kevin Pollak) to defend a pair of marines who may or may not have killed a fellow soldier during a hazing ritual. Cue in a lot of dependable character actors (Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, JT Walsh, Christopher Guest, Matt Craven, Xander Berkeley, Noah Wyle and Cuba Gooding Jr. before he started sucking) who pave the way for the inevitable confrontation with the very Jack-like colonel played by Jack Nicholson. The film is on auto-pilot most of the way; it?s never quite dreadfully bad nor is it ever particularly captivating. It?s the kind of movie you watch without much attention (to its credit, however? the film is never boring). There are redeeming features, obviously; Nicholson is always entertaining, for one, and some scenes have tension. The two leads (Cruise and Moore) are nothing to write home about, both of them in the stage in their career where acting wasn?t even necessary anymore. I do like the film?s comfortable familiarity, in a way; it?s nothing great but it?s adequate and somehow that works for me. Go figure.[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]When Harry Met Sally? (1989) ****[/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black]Refreshingly cynical (for a while, anyway) romantic comedy; in fact, it more or less set the path for every freaking Julia Roberts/Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy since. What sets it apart is a witty, intelligent script from Nora Ephron (who, unsurprisingly, went on to direct a lot of these offspring), spirited performances from the two leads? and an almost complete lack of cutesy, cloying romantic behavior. Harry met Sally in 1977, when both of them were in college and carpooled back home to New York. Over the years they meet again and become friends, despite Harry?s theory that men and women can?t be friends because one always wants to boink the other. Filled with caustic one-liners and a (sometimes overly) perceptive view of romance, it?s the perfect antidote to sugar-sweet romantic comedy while remaining a perfectly charming film in itself? that is, until it throws everything it stands for down the drain and ends with a happy ending. Too bad. [/color][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font]

[b][font=Times New Roman][color=black]11'09''01 - September 11 (2002) ***1/2[/color][/font][/b]

[b][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][/b]
[b][/b][b][font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=black]11 directors from 11 countries make 11 short films about 9/11. Like most movies of its type, it?s a relatively uneven affair. The best film comes from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (director of Amores Perros), who gives us a wrenching audio-visual ?montage? (it?s not a film in the narrative sense) set to sounds of phone calls from inside the tower. The next best film is Claude Lelouch?s, an almost-soundless tale of a deaf woman who ponders leaving her boyfriend while he is escaping Ground Zero. Ken Loach?s film is also powerful, focusing instead on Pinochet?s takeover of Chile on? September 11th, 1973. There is a slew of decent-if-nothing-more shorts from Samira Makhmalbaf (smart but overly cutesy), Idrissia Ouedraogo (funny but rather pointless), Mira Nair (emotional but familiar), Danis Tanovic (startlingly average in every way) and especially Sean Penn (whose contribution stars Ernest Borgnine). The really bad films come from Youssef Chahine, who gives us some sort of half-completed fantasy in which a dead soldier visits the director. It?s pointless, meandering, silly and contrived. Amos Gitai?s film had potential: an unbroken shot of reporters covering a suicide bomber on the morning of 9/11. However the movie is more confusing than anything and feels interminable at eleven minutes. A decent anthology that?s definitely worth seeing for the first three shorts? but, as a matter of fact, they all have at least one redeeming quality.[/color][/size][/font][/b]

Apocalypse Now Redux
½

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Jean De Florette (1986) ****1/2[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Excellent comedy-drama from Claude Berri, based on a novel by Marcel Pagnol. César (Yves Montand) is an old man who lives alone in the hills of Provence. One day, his nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) moves back on César?s property and reveals to him his latest moneymaking scheme: flowers. There?s a problem, however: there?s no irrigation anywhere near the flowers, and the only source is on a neighboring property. After the owner dies in an ?accident?, César and Ugolin block up the source to make sure that the land will sell for cheap? but what they don?t count on is that the owner?s son, a city-bred hunchback named Jean (Gérard Depardieu), is moving in. Jean de Florette is one of those prestige foreign movies that casual moviegoers seem to embrace; the thing is, it?s actually worthy of this title! It?s a funny, touching, emotional film? one of those rare movies that transcends genre. The performances are all sterling, with Auteuil particularly brilliant as Ugolin. It is followed by Manon des Sources, which is considered by some as the rest of the film, and not a sequel (e.g. Kill Bill). [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000] [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Willard (2003) ***[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Thoroughly predictable but enjoyably campy remake of the 1971 film is buoyed mostly by game performances from Crispin Glover and R. Lee Ermey. Glover is the titular character, a repressed young man who lives alone with his sickly, domineering mother. Willard hates his job, being some sort of clerk for the evil Mr. Martin (Ermey) and ultimately finds solace in the rats that live in his basement. He trains the rats (who soon grow to be a veritable horde) and eventually has them do his dirty work? but a particularly large, cunning rat named Ben may have other plans. Yes, it?s a totally preposterous idea for a movie. But the directors apparently keep this in mind, because the film (although totally deadpan) has an unmistakeable campy charm. Glover has found a role that fits him like a glove; he?s anything but subtle (hey, he?s Crispin Glover, fer chrissakes) but he?s damn entertaining. As far as horror goes, the movie is about as scary as VeggieTales but, in any case, it remains a fairly good time. Willard doesn?t quite live up to expectations (Laura Elena Harring?s role is terribly underwritten, and the ending is ass-tacular audience pleasing garbage) but it?s a pleasant enough way to spend 100 minutes. [/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Apocalypse Now Redux (2001) ****1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Simply put: the new scenes aren?t much of an improvement, I?m afraid. With this new re-edit of the film, the production?s seams are beginning to show. Not from a technical standpoint; Apocalypse Now has always been a technical masterpiece and it?s amazing, even 25 years later, what Coppola was able to do with the technology of the time. No, Apocalypse Now was a long, troubled shoot, beginning without a final script, in horrible conditions. The restored scenes, while interesting and not too shabby on their own, only weigh down the film, making it longer and more sluggish. It begins to feel more like an epic disaster than it ever did before. Thankfully, the original film remains, and what a film it is. A stunningly beautiful, intelligent war film directed with bravura by Coppola and flawlessly acted by the top-notch cast. It?s one of the greats.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Manon des Sources (1986) ****1/2[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]This sequel of sorts to Jean de Florette lacks the first film?s dry humor but more than makes up for it in terms of sheer emotional power. Ten years after Jean?s death, César and Ugolin?s flower business is barely getting by anymore, and César tells his nephew that he should really find himself a wife. Ugolin falls in love with Manon (Emmanuelle Béart), Jean?s daughter who now lives in the wild, working as a shepherdess. Eventually Manon comes to find out what really happened to her father and starts on the road to vengeance. The actors are still incredible; I think Auteuil is even better here than he was in Florette? and Béart (looking more beautiful than any human being has any right to be) is simply stunning. This is a more conventional drama than the first one, but it never slips into melodramatics and the like. It?s true that the film takes a turn that will surprise few, but that doesn?t prevent it from being well-made and emotional.[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Pi (1998) ***[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font='Times New Roman'][color=#000000]Stylish tale of brilliant mathematician Max Cohen (Sean Gullette), who is obsessed with numbers, equations and trying to solve the stock market. He sinks closer and closer to insanity as he is assailed by a mysterious company and by a persistent Hasidic Jew who shows up everywhere. This is one of those movies where the protagonist spends a lot of time sitting on the floor with his arms behind his head, rocking back and forth while the director has a lot of screwed-up imagery and bizarre sounds thrown at the screen. Thankfully, it was directed by Darren Aronofsky, whose wizardry behind the camera almost makes up for the film?s threadbare plot (which can basically be resumed as: weird stuff happens) and general lack of cohesion. What?s really interesting about the film is the concept of mathematics; I hate the stuff myself, but it?s very well integrated into the film and is always interesting; the film is original in concept, if not in plot. The acting is a mixed bag? but in a movie like this (an obviously low-budget film that almost seems SUPPOSED to be patchy, grainy and uneven), it?s expected. An interesting if not wholly successful first film.[/color][/font]

Pi
Pi(1998)

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Jean De Florette (1986) ****1/2[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Excellent comedy-drama from Claude Berri, based on a novel by Marcel Pagnol. César (Yves Montand) is an old man who lives alone in the hills of Provence. One day, his nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) moves back on César?s property and reveals to him his latest moneymaking scheme: flowers. There?s a problem, however: there?s no irrigation anywhere near the flowers, and the only source is on a neighboring property. After the owner dies in an ?accident?, César and Ugolin block up the source to make sure that the land will sell for cheap? but what they don?t count on is that the owner?s son, a city-bred hunchback named Jean (Gérard Depardieu), is moving in. Jean de Florette is one of those prestige foreign movies that casual moviegoers seem to embrace; the thing is, it?s actually worthy of this title! It?s a funny, touching, emotional film? one of those rare movies that transcends genre. The performances are all sterling, with Auteuil particularly brilliant as Ugolin. It is followed by Manon des Sources, which is considered by some as the rest of the film, and not a sequel (e.g. Kill Bill). [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000] [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Willard (2003) ***[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Thoroughly predictable but enjoyably campy remake of the 1971 film is buoyed mostly by game performances from Crispin Glover and R. Lee Ermey. Glover is the titular character, a repressed young man who lives alone with his sickly, domineering mother. Willard hates his job, being some sort of clerk for the evil Mr. Martin (Ermey) and ultimately finds solace in the rats that live in his basement. He trains the rats (who soon grow to be a veritable horde) and eventually has them do his dirty work? but a particularly large, cunning rat named Ben may have other plans. Yes, it?s a totally preposterous idea for a movie. But the directors apparently keep this in mind, because the film (although totally deadpan) has an unmistakeable campy charm. Glover has found a role that fits him like a glove; he?s anything but subtle (hey, he?s Crispin Glover, fer chrissakes) but he?s damn entertaining. As far as horror goes, the movie is about as scary as VeggieTales but, in any case, it remains a fairly good time. Willard doesn?t quite live up to expectations (Laura Elena Harring?s role is terribly underwritten, and the ending is ass-tacular audience pleasing garbage) but it?s a pleasant enough way to spend 100 minutes. [/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Apocalypse Now Redux (2001) ****1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Simply put: the new scenes aren?t much of an improvement, I?m afraid. With this new re-edit of the film, the production?s seams are beginning to show. Not from a technical standpoint; Apocalypse Now has always been a technical masterpiece and it?s amazing, even 25 years later, what Coppola was able to do with the technology of the time. No, Apocalypse Now was a long, troubled shoot, beginning without a final script, in horrible conditions. The restored scenes, while interesting and not too shabby on their own, only weigh down the film, making it longer and more sluggish. It begins to feel more like an epic disaster than it ever did before. Thankfully, the original film remains, and what a film it is. A stunningly beautiful, intelligent war film directed with bravura by Coppola and flawlessly acted by the top-notch cast. It?s one of the greats.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Manon des Sources (1986) ****1/2[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]This sequel of sorts to Jean de Florette lacks the first film?s dry humor but more than makes up for it in terms of sheer emotional power. Ten years after Jean?s death, César and Ugolin?s flower business is barely getting by anymore, and César tells his nephew that he should really find himself a wife. Ugolin falls in love with Manon (Emmanuelle Béart), Jean?s daughter who now lives in the wild, working as a shepherdess. Eventually Manon comes to find out what really happened to her father and starts on the road to vengeance. The actors are still incredible; I think Auteuil is even better here than he was in Florette? and Béart (looking more beautiful than any human being has any right to be) is simply stunning. This is a more conventional drama than the first one, but it never slips into melodramatics and the like. It?s true that the film takes a turn that will surprise few, but that doesn?t prevent it from being well-made and emotional.[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Pi (1998) ***[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font='Times New Roman'][color=#000000]Stylish tale of brilliant mathematician Max Cohen (Sean Gullette), who is obsessed with numbers, equations and trying to solve the stock market. He sinks closer and closer to insanity as he is assailed by a mysterious company and by a persistent Hasidic Jew who shows up everywhere. This is one of those movies where the protagonist spends a lot of time sitting on the floor with his arms behind his head, rocking back and forth while the director has a lot of screwed-up imagery and bizarre sounds thrown at the screen. Thankfully, it was directed by Darren Aronofsky, whose wizardry behind the camera almost makes up for the film?s threadbare plot (which can basically be resumed as: weird stuff happens) and general lack of cohesion. What?s really interesting about the film is the concept of mathematics; I hate the stuff myself, but it?s very well integrated into the film and is always interesting; the film is original in concept, if not in plot. The acting is a mixed bag? but in a movie like this (an obviously low-budget film that almost seems SUPPOSED to be patchy, grainy and uneven), it?s expected. An interesting if not wholly successful first film.[/color][/font]

Willard
Willard(1971)
½

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Jean De Florette (1986) ****1/2[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Excellent comedy-drama from Claude Berri, based on a novel by Marcel Pagnol. César (Yves Montand) is an old man who lives alone in the hills of Provence. One day, his nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) moves back on César?s property and reveals to him his latest moneymaking scheme: flowers. There?s a problem, however: there?s no irrigation anywhere near the flowers, and the only source is on a neighboring property. After the owner dies in an ?accident?, César and Ugolin block up the source to make sure that the land will sell for cheap? but what they don?t count on is that the owner?s son, a city-bred hunchback named Jean (Gérard Depardieu), is moving in. Jean de Florette is one of those prestige foreign movies that casual moviegoers seem to embrace; the thing is, it?s actually worthy of this title! It?s a funny, touching, emotional film? one of those rare movies that transcends genre. The performances are all sterling, with Auteuil particularly brilliant as Ugolin. It is followed by Manon des Sources, which is considered by some as the rest of the film, and not a sequel (e.g. Kill Bill). [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000] [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Willard (2003) ***[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Thoroughly predictable but enjoyably campy remake of the 1971 film is buoyed mostly by game performances from Crispin Glover and R. Lee Ermey. Glover is the titular character, a repressed young man who lives alone with his sickly, domineering mother. Willard hates his job, being some sort of clerk for the evil Mr. Martin (Ermey) and ultimately finds solace in the rats that live in his basement. He trains the rats (who soon grow to be a veritable horde) and eventually has them do his dirty work? but a particularly large, cunning rat named Ben may have other plans. Yes, it?s a totally preposterous idea for a movie. But the directors apparently keep this in mind, because the film (although totally deadpan) has an unmistakeable campy charm. Glover has found a role that fits him like a glove; he?s anything but subtle (hey, he?s Crispin Glover, fer chrissakes) but he?s damn entertaining. As far as horror goes, the movie is about as scary as VeggieTales but, in any case, it remains a fairly good time. Willard doesn?t quite live up to expectations (Laura Elena Harring?s role is terribly underwritten, and the ending is ass-tacular audience pleasing garbage) but it?s a pleasant enough way to spend 100 minutes. [/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Apocalypse Now Redux (2001) ****1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Simply put: the new scenes aren?t much of an improvement, I?m afraid. With this new re-edit of the film, the production?s seams are beginning to show. Not from a technical standpoint; Apocalypse Now has always been a technical masterpiece and it?s amazing, even 25 years later, what Coppola was able to do with the technology of the time. No, Apocalypse Now was a long, troubled shoot, beginning without a final script, in horrible conditions. The restored scenes, while interesting and not too shabby on their own, only weigh down the film, making it longer and more sluggish. It begins to feel more like an epic disaster than it ever did before. Thankfully, the original film remains, and what a film it is. A stunningly beautiful, intelligent war film directed with bravura by Coppola and flawlessly acted by the top-notch cast. It?s one of the greats.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Manon des Sources (1986) ****1/2[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]This sequel of sorts to Jean de Florette lacks the first film?s dry humor but more than makes up for it in terms of sheer emotional power. Ten years after Jean?s death, César and Ugolin?s flower business is barely getting by anymore, and César tells his nephew that he should really find himself a wife. Ugolin falls in love with Manon (Emmanuelle Béart), Jean?s daughter who now lives in the wild, working as a shepherdess. Eventually Manon comes to find out what really happened to her father and starts on the road to vengeance. The actors are still incredible; I think Auteuil is even better here than he was in Florette? and Béart (looking more beautiful than any human being has any right to be) is simply stunning. This is a more conventional drama than the first one, but it never slips into melodramatics and the like. It?s true that the film takes a turn that will surprise few, but that doesn?t prevent it from being well-made and emotional.[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Pi (1998) ***[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font='Times New Roman'][color=#000000]Stylish tale of brilliant mathematician Max Cohen (Sean Gullette), who is obsessed with numbers, equations and trying to solve the stock market. He sinks closer and closer to insanity as he is assailed by a mysterious company and by a persistent Hasidic Jew who shows up everywhere. This is one of those movies where the protagonist spends a lot of time sitting on the floor with his arms behind his head, rocking back and forth while the director has a lot of screwed-up imagery and bizarre sounds thrown at the screen. Thankfully, it was directed by Darren Aronofsky, whose wizardry behind the camera almost makes up for the film?s threadbare plot (which can basically be resumed as: weird stuff happens) and general lack of cohesion. What?s really interesting about the film is the concept of mathematics; I hate the stuff myself, but it?s very well integrated into the film and is always interesting; the film is original in concept, if not in plot. The acting is a mixed bag? but in a movie like this (an obviously low-budget film that almost seems SUPPOSED to be patchy, grainy and uneven), it?s expected. An interesting if not wholly successful first film.[/color][/font]

Manon of the Spring (Manon des Sources)
½

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[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Jean De Florette (1986) ****1/2[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Excellent comedy-drama from Claude Berri, based on a novel by Marcel Pagnol. César (Yves Montand) is an old man who lives alone in the hills of Provence. One day, his nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) moves back on César?s property and reveals to him his latest moneymaking scheme: flowers. There?s a problem, however: there?s no irrigation anywhere near the flowers, and the only source is on a neighboring property. After the owner dies in an ?accident?, César and Ugolin block up the source to make sure that the land will sell for cheap? but what they don?t count on is that the owner?s son, a city-bred hunchback named Jean (Gérard Depardieu), is moving in. Jean de Florette is one of those prestige foreign movies that casual moviegoers seem to embrace; the thing is, it?s actually worthy of this title! It?s a funny, touching, emotional film? one of those rare movies that transcends genre. The performances are all sterling, with Auteuil particularly brilliant as Ugolin. It is followed by Manon des Sources, which is considered by some as the rest of the film, and not a sequel (e.g. Kill Bill). [/color][/size][/font]

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[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Willard (2003) ***[/color][/size][/font]

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[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Thoroughly predictable but enjoyably campy remake of the 1971 film is buoyed mostly by game performances from Crispin Glover and R. Lee Ermey. Glover is the titular character, a repressed young man who lives alone with his sickly, domineering mother. Willard hates his job, being some sort of clerk for the evil Mr. Martin (Ermey) and ultimately finds solace in the rats that live in his basement. He trains the rats (who soon grow to be a veritable horde) and eventually has them do his dirty work? but a particularly large, cunning rat named Ben may have other plans. Yes, it?s a totally preposterous idea for a movie. But the directors apparently keep this in mind, because the film (although totally deadpan) has an unmistakeable campy charm. Glover has found a role that fits him like a glove; he?s anything but subtle (hey, he?s Crispin Glover, fer chrissakes) but he?s damn entertaining. As far as horror goes, the movie is about as scary as VeggieTales but, in any case, it remains a fairly good time. Willard doesn?t quite live up to expectations (Laura Elena Harring?s role is terribly underwritten, and the ending is ass-tacular audience pleasing garbage) but it?s a pleasant enough way to spend 100 minutes. [/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Apocalypse Now Redux (2001) ****1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Simply put: the new scenes aren?t much of an improvement, I?m afraid. With this new re-edit of the film, the production?s seams are beginning to show. Not from a technical standpoint; Apocalypse Now has always been a technical masterpiece and it?s amazing, even 25 years later, what Coppola was able to do with the technology of the time. No, Apocalypse Now was a long, troubled shoot, beginning without a final script, in horrible conditions. The restored scenes, while interesting and not too shabby on their own, only weigh down the film, making it longer and more sluggish. It begins to feel more like an epic disaster than it ever did before. Thankfully, the original film remains, and what a film it is. A stunningly beautiful, intelligent war film directed with bravura by Coppola and flawlessly acted by the top-notch cast. It?s one of the greats.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Manon des Sources (1986) ****1/2[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]This sequel of sorts to Jean de Florette lacks the first film?s dry humor but more than makes up for it in terms of sheer emotional power. Ten years after Jean?s death, César and Ugolin?s flower business is barely getting by anymore, and César tells his nephew that he should really find himself a wife. Ugolin falls in love with Manon (Emmanuelle Béart), Jean?s daughter who now lives in the wild, working as a shepherdess. Eventually Manon comes to find out what really happened to her father and starts on the road to vengeance. The actors are still incredible; I think Auteuil is even better here than he was in Florette? and Béart (looking more beautiful than any human being has any right to be) is simply stunning. This is a more conventional drama than the first one, but it never slips into melodramatics and the like. It?s true that the film takes a turn that will surprise few, but that doesn?t prevent it from being well-made and emotional.[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Pi (1998) ***[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font='Times New Roman'][color=#000000]Stylish tale of brilliant mathematician Max Cohen (Sean Gullette), who is obsessed with numbers, equations and trying to solve the stock market. He sinks closer and closer to insanity as he is assailed by a mysterious company and by a persistent Hasidic Jew who shows up everywhere. This is one of those movies where the protagonist spends a lot of time sitting on the floor with his arms behind his head, rocking back and forth while the director has a lot of screwed-up imagery and bizarre sounds thrown at the screen. Thankfully, it was directed by Darren Aronofsky, whose wizardry behind the camera almost makes up for the film?s threadbare plot (which can basically be resumed as: weird stuff happens) and general lack of cohesion. What?s really interesting about the film is the concept of mathematics; I hate the stuff myself, but it?s very well integrated into the film and is always interesting; the film is original in concept, if not in plot. The acting is a mixed bag? but in a movie like this (an obviously low-budget film that almost seems SUPPOSED to be patchy, grainy and uneven), it?s expected. An interesting if not wholly successful first film.[/color][/font]

Jean De Florette
½

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Jean De Florette (1986) ****1/2[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Excellent comedy-drama from Claude Berri, based on a novel by Marcel Pagnol. César (Yves Montand) is an old man who lives alone in the hills of Provence. One day, his nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) moves back on César?s property and reveals to him his latest moneymaking scheme: flowers. There?s a problem, however: there?s no irrigation anywhere near the flowers, and the only source is on a neighboring property. After the owner dies in an ?accident?, César and Ugolin block up the source to make sure that the land will sell for cheap? but what they don?t count on is that the owner?s son, a city-bred hunchback named Jean (Gérard Depardieu), is moving in. Jean de Florette is one of those prestige foreign movies that casual moviegoers seem to embrace; the thing is, it?s actually worthy of this title! It?s a funny, touching, emotional film? one of those rare movies that transcends genre. The performances are all sterling, with Auteuil particularly brilliant as Ugolin. It is followed by Manon des Sources, which is considered by some as the rest of the film, and not a sequel (e.g. Kill Bill). [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000] [/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Willard (2003) ***[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Thoroughly predictable but enjoyably campy remake of the 1971 film is buoyed mostly by game performances from Crispin Glover and R. Lee Ermey. Glover is the titular character, a repressed young man who lives alone with his sickly, domineering mother. Willard hates his job, being some sort of clerk for the evil Mr. Martin (Ermey) and ultimately finds solace in the rats that live in his basement. He trains the rats (who soon grow to be a veritable horde) and eventually has them do his dirty work? but a particularly large, cunning rat named Ben may have other plans. Yes, it?s a totally preposterous idea for a movie. But the directors apparently keep this in mind, because the film (although totally deadpan) has an unmistakeable campy charm. Glover has found a role that fits him like a glove; he?s anything but subtle (hey, he?s Crispin Glover, fer chrissakes) but he?s damn entertaining. As far as horror goes, the movie is about as scary as VeggieTales but, in any case, it remains a fairly good time. Willard doesn?t quite live up to expectations (Laura Elena Harring?s role is terribly underwritten, and the ending is ass-tacular audience pleasing garbage) but it?s a pleasant enough way to spend 100 minutes. [/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Apocalypse Now Redux (2001) ****1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Simply put: the new scenes aren?t much of an improvement, I?m afraid. With this new re-edit of the film, the production?s seams are beginning to show. Not from a technical standpoint; Apocalypse Now has always been a technical masterpiece and it?s amazing, even 25 years later, what Coppola was able to do with the technology of the time. No, Apocalypse Now was a long, troubled shoot, beginning without a final script, in horrible conditions. The restored scenes, while interesting and not too shabby on their own, only weigh down the film, making it longer and more sluggish. It begins to feel more like an epic disaster than it ever did before. Thankfully, the original film remains, and what a film it is. A stunningly beautiful, intelligent war film directed with bravura by Coppola and flawlessly acted by the top-notch cast. It?s one of the greats.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Manon des Sources (1986) ****1/2[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]This sequel of sorts to Jean de Florette lacks the first film?s dry humor but more than makes up for it in terms of sheer emotional power. Ten years after Jean?s death, César and Ugolin?s flower business is barely getting by anymore, and César tells his nephew that he should really find himself a wife. Ugolin falls in love with Manon (Emmanuelle Béart), Jean?s daughter who now lives in the wild, working as a shepherdess. Eventually Manon comes to find out what really happened to her father and starts on the road to vengeance. The actors are still incredible; I think Auteuil is even better here than he was in Florette? and Béart (looking more beautiful than any human being has any right to be) is simply stunning. This is a more conventional drama than the first one, but it never slips into melodramatics and the like. It?s true that the film takes a turn that will surprise few, but that doesn?t prevent it from being well-made and emotional.[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Pi (1998) ***[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font='Times New Roman'][color=#000000]Stylish tale of brilliant mathematician Max Cohen (Sean Gullette), who is obsessed with numbers, equations and trying to solve the stock market. He sinks closer and closer to insanity as he is assailed by a mysterious company and by a persistent Hasidic Jew who shows up everywhere. This is one of those movies where the protagonist spends a lot of time sitting on the floor with his arms behind his head, rocking back and forth while the director has a lot of screwed-up imagery and bizarre sounds thrown at the screen. Thankfully, it was directed by Darren Aronofsky, whose wizardry behind the camera almost makes up for the film?s threadbare plot (which can basically be resumed as: weird stuff happens) and general lack of cohesion. What?s really interesting about the film is the concept of mathematics; I hate the stuff myself, but it?s very well integrated into the film and is always interesting; the film is original in concept, if not in plot. The acting is a mixed bag? but in a movie like this (an obviously low-budget film that almost seems SUPPOSED to be patchy, grainy and uneven), it?s expected. An interesting if not wholly successful first film.[/color][/font]

Taboo
Taboo(2000)
½

So behind on these that I will take full advantage of the new feature and post every review since, like, Christmas... that's how behind I am.

PS: Fuck it, we can only do 5 at once. In any case, here's five.

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] They Live (1988) ***[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]John Carpenter got sick of the studio system and cranked out two quick, low-budget movies in 87-88: Prince of Darkness and this, a sci-fi satire starring wrestler ?Rowdy? Roddy Piper. He plays a drifter who comes to LA looking for work and finds a box of ?magic? sunglasses that reveal the world as a black-and-white dystopia overrun by aliens in disguise who cover the world with orders like ?CONFORM? and ?SLEEP?. He bands with other ?normals? and takes on the alien invaders. It?s a mildly effective satire wrapped in a ludicrous plot. I must admit I was somewhat disappointed in the film; I was expecting it to be funnier? or have more action? or to just make more of itself. In any case, the film is decent, watchable if not exactly distinguished. Piper gives a pretty good performance considering that he was a kilt-wearing wrestler. I?m beginning to see that Carpenter is very hot-or-miss; this is neither, and yet both at the same time.[/color][/size][/font]

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[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Mad Dog And Glory (1993) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]This looks and sounds like one of DeNiro?s recent movies: a concept comedy with DeNiro playing that straight man opposite a comedic actor? until you watch it, that is, and see that it?s anything but. DeNiro is ?Mad Dog?, a police photographer who stops by a convenience store after documenting a double murder and finds a thug holding a gun to a guy?s head. He gets the guy to leave, ?saving the guy?s life?. The guy turns out to be Frank Milo (Bill Murray) a powerful gangster/stand-up comic who decides to repay Mad Dog by lending him Uma Thurman for a week. Things get awry when they fall in love? and Milo won?t let them. The casting is audacious; in another movie, Murray would be playing Mad Dog and DeNiro would be Milo. This is not another movie, however, and we can thank producer Martin Scorsese and director John McNaughton for giving us a movie that?s everything but what you?d expect of it. That doesn?t change the fact that the film feels slight, however; it?s entertaining but never all that involving and although there are laughs to be had, you get the impression that the film doesn?t quite live up to its potential.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Day of the Dead (1985) ***[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Some people call this a masterpiece and others hate it. I?m, as I often find myself, straight in the middle. Day of the Dead is the third film in George Romero?s zombie trilogy (following Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead). This time, zombies have taken over the world, save for a pack of army men and scientists who live in an underground bunker. Logically, things start going haywire and the gore starts flying. This one isn?t so much a horror movie (most of it isn?t actually going for scares, I think) but a zombie? drama. There?s more character development than the genre has you used to, but due to acting quality that?s really all over the place, none of it works perfectly. It does take itself pretty seriously and is one of the rare films that, I think, actually manage to pull it off pretty well. The gore (by Tom Savini, obviously) is spectacular: hacked-off limbs, eyes ripped out, decapitated heads that actually keep moving? the ending, however, is a giant crock of ass. The film is a very muddled affair; I don?t exactly know how to feel about it. I enjoyed it, but there was a crapload of problems, as well. Worth seeing for the awesome gore, even if that?s not your thing. [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Invincible (2002) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Werner Herzog?s first fiction (and non-TV) project since Scream of Stone in ?91 is a decidedly original curiosity. It?s the story of Zishe (bodybuilder Jouka Ahola, who looks like a cross between Arnold and Jon Favreau), a Jewish blacksmith who goes to Berlin in 1932 to work as a strongman in a ?theatre of the occult? run by a lecherous psychic named Hanussen (Tim Roth). The place is often packed with Nazis, who worship the Aryan hero named Siegfried that Zishe portrays. When Zishe reveals that he is Jewish in front of the crowd, it brings in a new crowd of Jews? but also angers the Nazis. Herzog?s film is a simple fantasy, the kind of folk tale that you find in children?s books. That?s the film?s main strength, its tone pitch-perfect and its story truly absorbing. Unfortunately, Ahola?s screen presence is much too small to carry the film. Ahola?s not bad per se; I actually felt for the big lug. The thing is, the writing is much better than what transpires on screen. He simply lacks the presence to carry the film. Roth fares better, his performance so over the top that it actually goes full circle and fits into the tone of the film. Invincible has a great story and a great director behind it; the only thing it lacks is bite. Methinks that bite could?ve come from Ahola.[/color][/size][/font]

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[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Taboo (1999) **1/2[/color][/size][/font]

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[font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=#000000]There are two kinds of samurai movies: the slow, contemplative art-house samurai drama, and the violent, pop-samurai action flicks. Nagisa Oshima?s Taboo attempts to be a little bit of both and ends up being a lot of not much. Sozaburo Kano (Ryuhei Matsuda) is a young samurai who merits himself the affection of many of his fellow samurai. Under the watchful eye of Captain Hijikata (Beat Takeshi), Sozaburo is seduced by a lot of samurai, none of which he ultimately accepts. This is pretty much what I got from the plot, thanks to incoherent dubbing and an absence of subtitles during the numerous title cards. It?s not that Taboo is a bad film, really; it happens to be a flawed one that I saw under conditions that really prevent me from liking it (or, at the very least, understanding it) to the full extent. Even without the bad dubbing, though, the film is problematic: the characterizations are weak, the plot is meandering and the viewer eventually loses interest in the story. That?s too bad, because there?s a decent performance from Takeshi (who remains doggedly Takeshiesque throughout) and some very good pop-samurai moments (including one decapitation that reeks of Kill Bill). I think Taboo is a film that never really could?ve taken off despite its obvious ?technical? shortcomings. I?d be willing to give it another chance with the proper subs, however.[/color][/size][/font]

Day of the Dead

So behind on these that I will take full advantage of the new feature and post every review since, like, Christmas... that's how behind I am.

PS: Fuck it, we can only do 5 at once. In any case, here's five.

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] They Live (1988) ***[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]John Carpenter got sick of the studio system and cranked out two quick, low-budget movies in 87-88: Prince of Darkness and this, a sci-fi satire starring wrestler ?Rowdy? Roddy Piper. He plays a drifter who comes to LA looking for work and finds a box of ?magic? sunglasses that reveal the world as a black-and-white dystopia overrun by aliens in disguise who cover the world with orders like ?CONFORM? and ?SLEEP?. He bands with other ?normals? and takes on the alien invaders. It?s a mildly effective satire wrapped in a ludicrous plot. I must admit I was somewhat disappointed in the film; I was expecting it to be funnier? or have more action? or to just make more of itself. In any case, the film is decent, watchable if not exactly distinguished. Piper gives a pretty good performance considering that he was a kilt-wearing wrestler. I?m beginning to see that Carpenter is very hot-or-miss; this is neither, and yet both at the same time.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Mad Dog And Glory (1993) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]This looks and sounds like one of DeNiro?s recent movies: a concept comedy with DeNiro playing that straight man opposite a comedic actor? until you watch it, that is, and see that it?s anything but. DeNiro is ?Mad Dog?, a police photographer who stops by a convenience store after documenting a double murder and finds a thug holding a gun to a guy?s head. He gets the guy to leave, ?saving the guy?s life?. The guy turns out to be Frank Milo (Bill Murray) a powerful gangster/stand-up comic who decides to repay Mad Dog by lending him Uma Thurman for a week. Things get awry when they fall in love? and Milo won?t let them. The casting is audacious; in another movie, Murray would be playing Mad Dog and DeNiro would be Milo. This is not another movie, however, and we can thank producer Martin Scorsese and director John McNaughton for giving us a movie that?s everything but what you?d expect of it. That doesn?t change the fact that the film feels slight, however; it?s entertaining but never all that involving and although there are laughs to be had, you get the impression that the film doesn?t quite live up to its potential.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Day of the Dead (1985) ***[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Some people call this a masterpiece and others hate it. I?m, as I often find myself, straight in the middle. Day of the Dead is the third film in George Romero?s zombie trilogy (following Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead). This time, zombies have taken over the world, save for a pack of army men and scientists who live in an underground bunker. Logically, things start going haywire and the gore starts flying. This one isn?t so much a horror movie (most of it isn?t actually going for scares, I think) but a zombie? drama. There?s more character development than the genre has you used to, but due to acting quality that?s really all over the place, none of it works perfectly. It does take itself pretty seriously and is one of the rare films that, I think, actually manage to pull it off pretty well. The gore (by Tom Savini, obviously) is spectacular: hacked-off limbs, eyes ripped out, decapitated heads that actually keep moving? the ending, however, is a giant crock of ass. The film is a very muddled affair; I don?t exactly know how to feel about it. I enjoyed it, but there was a crapload of problems, as well. Worth seeing for the awesome gore, even if that?s not your thing. [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Invincible (2002) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Werner Herzog?s first fiction (and non-TV) project since Scream of Stone in ?91 is a decidedly original curiosity. It?s the story of Zishe (bodybuilder Jouka Ahola, who looks like a cross between Arnold and Jon Favreau), a Jewish blacksmith who goes to Berlin in 1932 to work as a strongman in a ?theatre of the occult? run by a lecherous psychic named Hanussen (Tim Roth). The place is often packed with Nazis, who worship the Aryan hero named Siegfried that Zishe portrays. When Zishe reveals that he is Jewish in front of the crowd, it brings in a new crowd of Jews? but also angers the Nazis. Herzog?s film is a simple fantasy, the kind of folk tale that you find in children?s books. That?s the film?s main strength, its tone pitch-perfect and its story truly absorbing. Unfortunately, Ahola?s screen presence is much too small to carry the film. Ahola?s not bad per se; I actually felt for the big lug. The thing is, the writing is much better than what transpires on screen. He simply lacks the presence to carry the film. Roth fares better, his performance so over the top that it actually goes full circle and fits into the tone of the film. Invincible has a great story and a great director behind it; the only thing it lacks is bite. Methinks that bite could?ve come from Ahola.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Taboo (1999) **1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font]

[font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=#000000]There are two kinds of samurai movies: the slow, contemplative art-house samurai drama, and the violent, pop-samurai action flicks. Nagisa Oshima?s Taboo attempts to be a little bit of both and ends up being a lot of not much. Sozaburo Kano (Ryuhei Matsuda) is a young samurai who merits himself the affection of many of his fellow samurai. Under the watchful eye of Captain Hijikata (Beat Takeshi), Sozaburo is seduced by a lot of samurai, none of which he ultimately accepts. This is pretty much what I got from the plot, thanks to incoherent dubbing and an absence of subtitles during the numerous title cards. It?s not that Taboo is a bad film, really; it happens to be a flawed one that I saw under conditions that really prevent me from liking it (or, at the very least, understanding it) to the full extent. Even without the bad dubbing, though, the film is problematic: the characterizations are weak, the plot is meandering and the viewer eventually loses interest in the story. That?s too bad, because there?s a decent performance from Takeshi (who remains doggedly Takeshiesque throughout) and some very good pop-samurai moments (including one decapitation that reeks of Kill Bill). I think Taboo is a film that never really could?ve taken off despite its obvious ?technical? shortcomings. I?d be willing to give it another chance with the proper subs, however.[/color][/size][/font]

Mad Dog and Glory
½

So behind on these that I will take full advantage of the new feature and post every review since, like, Christmas... that's how behind I am.

PS: Fuck it, we can only do 5 at once. In any case, here's five.

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] They Live (1988) ***[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]John Carpenter got sick of the studio system and cranked out two quick, low-budget movies in 87-88: Prince of Darkness and this, a sci-fi satire starring wrestler ?Rowdy? Roddy Piper. He plays a drifter who comes to LA looking for work and finds a box of ?magic? sunglasses that reveal the world as a black-and-white dystopia overrun by aliens in disguise who cover the world with orders like ?CONFORM? and ?SLEEP?. He bands with other ?normals? and takes on the alien invaders. It?s a mildly effective satire wrapped in a ludicrous plot. I must admit I was somewhat disappointed in the film; I was expecting it to be funnier? or have more action? or to just make more of itself. In any case, the film is decent, watchable if not exactly distinguished. Piper gives a pretty good performance considering that he was a kilt-wearing wrestler. I?m beginning to see that Carpenter is very hot-or-miss; this is neither, and yet both at the same time.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Mad Dog And Glory (1993) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]This looks and sounds like one of DeNiro?s recent movies: a concept comedy with DeNiro playing that straight man opposite a comedic actor? until you watch it, that is, and see that it?s anything but. DeNiro is ?Mad Dog?, a police photographer who stops by a convenience store after documenting a double murder and finds a thug holding a gun to a guy?s head. He gets the guy to leave, ?saving the guy?s life?. The guy turns out to be Frank Milo (Bill Murray) a powerful gangster/stand-up comic who decides to repay Mad Dog by lending him Uma Thurman for a week. Things get awry when they fall in love? and Milo won?t let them. The casting is audacious; in another movie, Murray would be playing Mad Dog and DeNiro would be Milo. This is not another movie, however, and we can thank producer Martin Scorsese and director John McNaughton for giving us a movie that?s everything but what you?d expect of it. That doesn?t change the fact that the film feels slight, however; it?s entertaining but never all that involving and although there are laughs to be had, you get the impression that the film doesn?t quite live up to its potential.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Day of the Dead (1985) ***[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Some people call this a masterpiece and others hate it. I?m, as I often find myself, straight in the middle. Day of the Dead is the third film in George Romero?s zombie trilogy (following Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead). This time, zombies have taken over the world, save for a pack of army men and scientists who live in an underground bunker. Logically, things start going haywire and the gore starts flying. This one isn?t so much a horror movie (most of it isn?t actually going for scares, I think) but a zombie? drama. There?s more character development than the genre has you used to, but due to acting quality that?s really all over the place, none of it works perfectly. It does take itself pretty seriously and is one of the rare films that, I think, actually manage to pull it off pretty well. The gore (by Tom Savini, obviously) is spectacular: hacked-off limbs, eyes ripped out, decapitated heads that actually keep moving? the ending, however, is a giant crock of ass. The film is a very muddled affair; I don?t exactly know how to feel about it. I enjoyed it, but there was a crapload of problems, as well. Worth seeing for the awesome gore, even if that?s not your thing. [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Invincible (2002) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Werner Herzog?s first fiction (and non-TV) project since Scream of Stone in ?91 is a decidedly original curiosity. It?s the story of Zishe (bodybuilder Jouka Ahola, who looks like a cross between Arnold and Jon Favreau), a Jewish blacksmith who goes to Berlin in 1932 to work as a strongman in a ?theatre of the occult? run by a lecherous psychic named Hanussen (Tim Roth). The place is often packed with Nazis, who worship the Aryan hero named Siegfried that Zishe portrays. When Zishe reveals that he is Jewish in front of the crowd, it brings in a new crowd of Jews? but also angers the Nazis. Herzog?s film is a simple fantasy, the kind of folk tale that you find in children?s books. That?s the film?s main strength, its tone pitch-perfect and its story truly absorbing. Unfortunately, Ahola?s screen presence is much too small to carry the film. Ahola?s not bad per se; I actually felt for the big lug. The thing is, the writing is much better than what transpires on screen. He simply lacks the presence to carry the film. Roth fares better, his performance so over the top that it actually goes full circle and fits into the tone of the film. Invincible has a great story and a great director behind it; the only thing it lacks is bite. Methinks that bite could?ve come from Ahola.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Taboo (1999) **1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font]

[font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=#000000]There are two kinds of samurai movies: the slow, contemplative art-house samurai drama, and the violent, pop-samurai action flicks. Nagisa Oshima?s Taboo attempts to be a little bit of both and ends up being a lot of not much. Sozaburo Kano (Ryuhei Matsuda) is a young samurai who merits himself the affection of many of his fellow samurai. Under the watchful eye of Captain Hijikata (Beat Takeshi), Sozaburo is seduced by a lot of samurai, none of which he ultimately accepts. This is pretty much what I got from the plot, thanks to incoherent dubbing and an absence of subtitles during the numerous title cards. It?s not that Taboo is a bad film, really; it happens to be a flawed one that I saw under conditions that really prevent me from liking it (or, at the very least, understanding it) to the full extent. Even without the bad dubbing, though, the film is problematic: the characterizations are weak, the plot is meandering and the viewer eventually loses interest in the story. That?s too bad, because there?s a decent performance from Takeshi (who remains doggedly Takeshiesque throughout) and some very good pop-samurai moments (including one decapitation that reeks of Kill Bill). I think Taboo is a film that never really could?ve taken off despite its obvious ?technical? shortcomings. I?d be willing to give it another chance with the proper subs, however.[/color][/size][/font]

They Live
They Live(1988)

So behind on these that I will take full advantage of the new feature and post every review since, like, Christmas... that's how behind I am.

PS: Fuck it, we can only do 5 at once. In any case, here's five.

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] They Live (1988) ***[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]John Carpenter got sick of the studio system and cranked out two quick, low-budget movies in 87-88: Prince of Darkness and this, a sci-fi satire starring wrestler ?Rowdy? Roddy Piper. He plays a drifter who comes to LA looking for work and finds a box of ?magic? sunglasses that reveal the world as a black-and-white dystopia overrun by aliens in disguise who cover the world with orders like ?CONFORM? and ?SLEEP?. He bands with other ?normals? and takes on the alien invaders. It?s a mildly effective satire wrapped in a ludicrous plot. I must admit I was somewhat disappointed in the film; I was expecting it to be funnier? or have more action? or to just make more of itself. In any case, the film is decent, watchable if not exactly distinguished. Piper gives a pretty good performance considering that he was a kilt-wearing wrestler. I?m beginning to see that Carpenter is very hot-or-miss; this is neither, and yet both at the same time.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Mad Dog And Glory (1993) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]This looks and sounds like one of DeNiro?s recent movies: a concept comedy with DeNiro playing that straight man opposite a comedic actor? until you watch it, that is, and see that it?s anything but. DeNiro is ?Mad Dog?, a police photographer who stops by a convenience store after documenting a double murder and finds a thug holding a gun to a guy?s head. He gets the guy to leave, ?saving the guy?s life?. The guy turns out to be Frank Milo (Bill Murray) a powerful gangster/stand-up comic who decides to repay Mad Dog by lending him Uma Thurman for a week. Things get awry when they fall in love? and Milo won?t let them. The casting is audacious; in another movie, Murray would be playing Mad Dog and DeNiro would be Milo. This is not another movie, however, and we can thank producer Martin Scorsese and director John McNaughton for giving us a movie that?s everything but what you?d expect of it. That doesn?t change the fact that the film feels slight, however; it?s entertaining but never all that involving and although there are laughs to be had, you get the impression that the film doesn?t quite live up to its potential.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Day of the Dead (1985) ***[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Some people call this a masterpiece and others hate it. I?m, as I often find myself, straight in the middle. Day of the Dead is the third film in George Romero?s zombie trilogy (following Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead). This time, zombies have taken over the world, save for a pack of army men and scientists who live in an underground bunker. Logically, things start going haywire and the gore starts flying. This one isn?t so much a horror movie (most of it isn?t actually going for scares, I think) but a zombie? drama. There?s more character development than the genre has you used to, but due to acting quality that?s really all over the place, none of it works perfectly. It does take itself pretty seriously and is one of the rare films that, I think, actually manage to pull it off pretty well. The gore (by Tom Savini, obviously) is spectacular: hacked-off limbs, eyes ripped out, decapitated heads that actually keep moving? the ending, however, is a giant crock of ass. The film is a very muddled affair; I don?t exactly know how to feel about it. I enjoyed it, but there was a crapload of problems, as well. Worth seeing for the awesome gore, even if that?s not your thing. [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Invincible (2002) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Werner Herzog?s first fiction (and non-TV) project since Scream of Stone in ?91 is a decidedly original curiosity. It?s the story of Zishe (bodybuilder Jouka Ahola, who looks like a cross between Arnold and Jon Favreau), a Jewish blacksmith who goes to Berlin in 1932 to work as a strongman in a ?theatre of the occult? run by a lecherous psychic named Hanussen (Tim Roth). The place is often packed with Nazis, who worship the Aryan hero named Siegfried that Zishe portrays. When Zishe reveals that he is Jewish in front of the crowd, it brings in a new crowd of Jews? but also angers the Nazis. Herzog?s film is a simple fantasy, the kind of folk tale that you find in children?s books. That?s the film?s main strength, its tone pitch-perfect and its story truly absorbing. Unfortunately, Ahola?s screen presence is much too small to carry the film. Ahola?s not bad per se; I actually felt for the big lug. The thing is, the writing is much better than what transpires on screen. He simply lacks the presence to carry the film. Roth fares better, his performance so over the top that it actually goes full circle and fits into the tone of the film. Invincible has a great story and a great director behind it; the only thing it lacks is bite. Methinks that bite could?ve come from Ahola.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Taboo (1999) **1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font]

[font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=#000000]There are two kinds of samurai movies: the slow, contemplative art-house samurai drama, and the violent, pop-samurai action flicks. Nagisa Oshima?s Taboo attempts to be a little bit of both and ends up being a lot of not much. Sozaburo Kano (Ryuhei Matsuda) is a young samurai who merits himself the affection of many of his fellow samurai. Under the watchful eye of Captain Hijikata (Beat Takeshi), Sozaburo is seduced by a lot of samurai, none of which he ultimately accepts. This is pretty much what I got from the plot, thanks to incoherent dubbing and an absence of subtitles during the numerous title cards. It?s not that Taboo is a bad film, really; it happens to be a flawed one that I saw under conditions that really prevent me from liking it (or, at the very least, understanding it) to the full extent. Even without the bad dubbing, though, the film is problematic: the characterizations are weak, the plot is meandering and the viewer eventually loses interest in the story. That?s too bad, because there?s a decent performance from Takeshi (who remains doggedly Takeshiesque throughout) and some very good pop-samurai moments (including one decapitation that reeks of Kill Bill). I think Taboo is a film that never really could?ve taken off despite its obvious ?technical? shortcomings. I?d be willing to give it another chance with the proper subs, however.[/color][/size][/font]

Invincible
Invincible(2002)
½

So behind on these that I will take full advantage of the new feature and post every review since, like, Christmas... that's how behind I am.

PS: Fuck it, we can only do 5 at once. In any case, here's five.

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] They Live (1988) ***[/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]John Carpenter got sick of the studio system and cranked out two quick, low-budget movies in 87-88: Prince of Darkness and this, a sci-fi satire starring wrestler ?Rowdy? Roddy Piper. He plays a drifter who comes to LA looking for work and finds a box of ?magic? sunglasses that reveal the world as a black-and-white dystopia overrun by aliens in disguise who cover the world with orders like ?CONFORM? and ?SLEEP?. He bands with other ?normals? and takes on the alien invaders. It?s a mildly effective satire wrapped in a ludicrous plot. I must admit I was somewhat disappointed in the film; I was expecting it to be funnier? or have more action? or to just make more of itself. In any case, the film is decent, watchable if not exactly distinguished. Piper gives a pretty good performance considering that he was a kilt-wearing wrestler. I?m beginning to see that Carpenter is very hot-or-miss; this is neither, and yet both at the same time.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Mad Dog And Glory (1993) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]This looks and sounds like one of DeNiro?s recent movies: a concept comedy with DeNiro playing that straight man opposite a comedic actor? until you watch it, that is, and see that it?s anything but. DeNiro is ?Mad Dog?, a police photographer who stops by a convenience store after documenting a double murder and finds a thug holding a gun to a guy?s head. He gets the guy to leave, ?saving the guy?s life?. The guy turns out to be Frank Milo (Bill Murray) a powerful gangster/stand-up comic who decides to repay Mad Dog by lending him Uma Thurman for a week. Things get awry when they fall in love? and Milo won?t let them. The casting is audacious; in another movie, Murray would be playing Mad Dog and DeNiro would be Milo. This is not another movie, however, and we can thank producer Martin Scorsese and director John McNaughton for giving us a movie that?s everything but what you?d expect of it. That doesn?t change the fact that the film feels slight, however; it?s entertaining but never all that involving and although there are laughs to be had, you get the impression that the film doesn?t quite live up to its potential.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Day of the Dead (1985) ***[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]Some people call this a masterpiece and others hate it. I?m, as I often find myself, straight in the middle. Day of the Dead is the third film in George Romero?s zombie trilogy (following Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead). This time, zombies have taken over the world, save for a pack of army men and scientists who live in an underground bunker. Logically, things start going haywire and the gore starts flying. This one isn?t so much a horror movie (most of it isn?t actually going for scares, I think) but a zombie? drama. There?s more character development than the genre has you used to, but due to acting quality that?s really all over the place, none of it works perfectly. It does take itself pretty seriously and is one of the rare films that, I think, actually manage to pull it off pretty well. The gore (by Tom Savini, obviously) is spectacular: hacked-off limbs, eyes ripped out, decapitated heads that actually keep moving? the ending, however, is a giant crock of ass. The film is a very muddled affair; I don?t exactly know how to feel about it. I enjoyed it, but there was a crapload of problems, as well. Worth seeing for the awesome gore, even if that?s not your thing. [/color][/font][/size]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Invincible (2002) ***1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Werner Herzog?s first fiction (and non-TV) project since Scream of Stone in ?91 is a decidedly original curiosity. It?s the story of Zishe (bodybuilder Jouka Ahola, who looks like a cross between Arnold and Jon Favreau), a Jewish blacksmith who goes to Berlin in 1932 to work as a strongman in a ?theatre of the occult? run by a lecherous psychic named Hanussen (Tim Roth). The place is often packed with Nazis, who worship the Aryan hero named Siegfried that Zishe portrays. When Zishe reveals that he is Jewish in front of the crowd, it brings in a new crowd of Jews? but also angers the Nazis. Herzog?s film is a simple fantasy, the kind of folk tale that you find in children?s books. That?s the film?s main strength, its tone pitch-perfect and its story truly absorbing. Unfortunately, Ahola?s screen presence is much too small to carry the film. Ahola?s not bad per se; I actually felt for the big lug. The thing is, the writing is much better than what transpires on screen. He simply lacks the presence to carry the film. Roth fares better, his performance so over the top that it actually goes full circle and fits into the tone of the film. Invincible has a great story and a great director behind it; the only thing it lacks is bite. Methinks that bite could?ve come from Ahola.[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Taboo (1999) **1/2[/color][/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font]

[font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=#000000]There are two kinds of samurai movies: the slow, contemplative art-house samurai drama, and the violent, pop-samurai action flicks. Nagisa Oshima?s Taboo attempts to be a little bit of both and ends up being a lot of not much. Sozaburo Kano (Ryuhei Matsuda) is a young samurai who merits himself the affection of many of his fellow samurai. Under the watchful eye of Captain Hijikata (Beat Takeshi), Sozaburo is seduced by a lot of samurai, none of which he ultimately accepts. This is pretty much what I got from the plot, thanks to incoherent dubbing and an absence of subtitles during the numerous title cards. It?s not that Taboo is a bad film, really; it happens to be a flawed one that I saw under conditions that really prevent me from liking it (or, at the very least, understanding it) to the full extent. Even without the bad dubbing, though, the film is problematic: the characterizations are weak, the plot is meandering and the viewer eventually loses interest in the story. That?s too bad, because there?s a decent performance from Takeshi (who remains doggedly Takeshiesque throughout) and some very good pop-samurai moments (including one decapitation that reeks of Kill Bill). I think Taboo is a film that never really could?ve taken off despite its obvious ?technical? shortcomings. I?d be willing to give it another chance with the proper subs, however.[/color][/size][/font]

The Man from Elysian Fields
½

[font='Times New Roman'][color=#000000]No one saw this comedy/drama when it came out and few have seen it since. It?s a shame, because The Man From Elysian Fields is a fine little movie. Andy Garcia stars as Byron Tiller, a writer whose sole book (Hitler?s Child, about what would?ve happened had Hitler had a child with Eva Braun) is being sold in the discount rack. He has trouble supporting his wife (Julianna Margulies) and small child, so when a mysterious man (Mick Jagger) offers him a job, he jumps on the occasion. It turns out the job is as a male escort for lonely women, and his first customer is Andrea Walcott (Olivia Williams), the young wife of Pulitzer winner Tobias Walcott (James Coburn). Movies like this eventually fall into a trap; since the character hides something from his family, it?s eventually going to come out and blow the movie apart. That?s exactly what happens, but thankfully the film avoids tedium by downplaying the soap opera elements of the story. The characters are really what make the movie, and they?re well served by the cast. The particular standout is Coburn (in what proved to be one of his last roles). [/color][/font]

Flirting With Disaster

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=#000000] [/color][/font][/size]

[font='Times New Roman'][color=#000000]Madcap screwball comedy from the director of Three Kings tells the story of Mel Coplin (Ben Stiller) and his wife Nancy (Patricia Arquette), parents of a 5-month-old baby who remains nameless. Seeing as how Mel was adopted, he decides to find out his real roots before naming the baby. He gets the help of Tina (Téa Leoni), who works at an adoption agency, and the three of them head out to San Diego, where Mel?s mother supposedly lives. Things don?t go as planned, and soon the trio goes cross-country in search of his real parents (Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin)? who turn out to be making LSD in the basement of their New Mexico home. Add to that a pair of gay cops (Richard Jenkins and Josh Brolin) and Mel?s real parents (George Segal and Mary Tyler Moore) and you?ve got a giant mess on your hands. Sort of a hybrid between Woody Allen and The Marx Brothers, Flirting With Disaster moves along at a breakneck pace, never slowing down. The actors give it their best shot and the film never ceases to amuse (and, at times, just plain make you lose it). A very, very funny film that manages, amazingly enough, to bypass most conventions.[/color][/font]

The Osterman Weekend

[font='Times New Roman'][color=#000000]Sam Peckinpah?s swan song is a confusing, confused action thriller based on Robert Ludlum?s book of the same name. John Tanner (Rutger Hauer) is a TV talk-show host who is accosted by a CIA agent (John Hurt) who tells him that his friends (Craig T. Nelson, Chris Sarandon, Dennis Hopper) are really undercover Soviet agents. Hurt sets up inside Tanner?s home as the friends gather for a weekend (dubbed the Osterman Weekend after Nelson?s character) and Hurt? traps them? or something. Frankly, the plot makes no sense. It?s complicated and convoluted beyond belief, the screenplay placing scene after scene without much sense of coherence. But, this is Peckinpah, and despite the overall overabundance (or absence) of plot, he hasn?t lost his touch. The film?s best moments come in the action scenes, which showcase Peckinpah?s vintage style. The cast (which also includes Burt Lancaster as a diplomat whose purpose in the grand scheme of things is questionable) is top-notch and although they can?t quite make sense out of what happens, at least they make us want to watch. Watchable, but don?t try to read too much into or make sense out of most of it.[/color][/font]

49th Parallel (The Invaders)

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Strange, entertaining propaganda from Powell & Pressburger. A Nazi U-Boat becomes stranded in Northern Canada; as some of the soldiers go on land to capture the trading post, the U-Boat is blown up and the Nazis take the post (and French-Canadian trapper Laurence Olivier) by force. From then on they begin a long cross-country odyssey throughout Canada, meeting a lot of famous actors who cameo throughout. Now, let me just repeat if you missed; Laurence Olivier plays a FRENCH-CANADIAN TRAPPER NAMED, OF ALL THINGS, JOHNNY. Not only that, but he actually does a pretty decent job of it too. Once you get past all the initial 1940 Canadian clichés (the Inuit dude who lives at the post is played, none too convincingly might I add, by an Asian who was apparently told to randomly scream gibberish to pass off as dialogue), there?s actually a good film under here. It?s propaganda, yes, but it doesn?t really lower itself to chest-thumping patriotism and gross caricatures in the characters (maybe a little with the trapper? but it?s all good). It?s actually quite well-made for its time, using a lot of exteriors and special effects; even the rear-projection looks good. A curio, probably, but it holds up better than most curios.[/color][/size][/font]

Happiness
Happiness(1998)
½

[font='Times New Roman'][color=#000000]Happiness is a literal rollercoaster; one minute you?re laughing your ass off and the other you?re staring, dumbstruck, as you see skin-crawling depictions of pedophilia (obviously not shown? and probably creepier because of that). Best described as the dark side of Altman?s Short Cuts, Happiness is a film that tells the stories of pedophiles, losers, loners? people who, as a general rule of thumb, live behind closed doors. There?s Bill (Dylan Baker), a psychiatrist who has penchant for little boys; his 11-year-old son, Timmy (Justin Elvin), obsessed with the idea of masturbation; his wife, Trish (Cynthia Stevenson), who is oblivious to her husband?s obsessions yet refuses to have sex with him; her sister, Joy (Jane Adams), who quit her job as a telemarketer after an ex-boyfriend (Jon Lovitz) blew his brains out and is now involved with a Russian cab driver (Jared Harris); the other sister (Lara Flynn Boyle), an artist who has everything yet hates all of it and is intrigued by obscene phone caller Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who calls women randomly while her jerks off? and probably a few other characters I missed. Despite sounding like a perverted twist on the Altman-esque portemanteau genre, Happiness is a comedy. A bleak, cynical comedy, perhaps, but the laughs are there anyway and Solondz?s totally deadpan style ensures that none of the drama will ever slip past. Happiness is a near-brilliant film in the way it treats its characters, and in the way these react. I could?ve done without some of the gross-out humor (hoohoohoo splooge!!!) but it?s of little importance: Happiness works, and works brilliantly.[/color][/font]

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

[font=Times New Roman][color=#000000]It?s a return to form for the pirate genre after a long absence from multiplex screens; Pirates of the Caribbean may not be Captain Blood, but at least it delivers in piratey goodness. Orlando Bloom is the swordmaker who has been in love with Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), the governor?s (Jonathan Pryce) daughter, for years. She?s set to marry Commandante Norrington (Jack Davenport) until Elizabeth falls victim to a too-tight corset and falls in the water, where she is promptly rescued by Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). This all leads, eventually, to a haunted ship inhabited by zombie pirates led by Geoffrey Rush. The plot is kinda silly (but then again, the film was adapted from a Disney theme park ride) but it works anyway. Gore Verbinski directs with the grace and fluttery butterflyness of a sledgehammer, rending the battle scenes all but incomprehensible, and the film is overlong by at least half an hour? yet for such a flawed film, I had a good time. Most of it is thanks to Johnny Depp?s eccentric performance; he plays Sparrow like some sort of drunk, stoned, half-crazy drag queen/heroin addict/action hero. It?s a hilarious performance, a bit of life in a film that seemed more or less poised to fall into oblivion. Don?t get me wrong, I liked it? but it wasn?t THAT good a movie.[/color][/font]

Confidence
Confidence(2003)

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Confidence (2003) ****[/color][/size][/font]

[size=3][color=#000000][font=Times New Roman] [/font][/color][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][color=#000000]Very underrated, jazzy con flick boasts a top-notch cast and script; only thing missing is the originality. Jake Vig (Ed Burns) is a con artist who bit off more than he could chew when he conned a man with connections high up? and the guy ended up in the morgue. He accepts to take a job for the King (Dustin Hoffman) an ADHD-afflicted pervert who also happens to be a pretty big mobster. He gathers his crew (Rachel Weisz, Paul Giamatti, Brian van Holt, Donal Logue, Luis Guzman, Franky G) and sets out to find the perfect mark. Along the way we encounter Special Agent Gunther Butan (Andy Garcia), who?s hot on the trail of Vig. It?s nothing you?ve never seen before, but it?s snappy, well-acted, intelligent and entertaining. It?s got great moments (awesome monologues for Hoffman, who walks away with the acting honors) and satisfies. It?s the cinematic equivalent of girly hard alcohol: it?s better on the moment than in retrospect, it?s nothing you?ve never tasted before, but it gets the job done like every other.[/color][/size][/font]

X2: X-Men United
½

[size=3][font=Times New Roman][color=silver] [/color][/font][/size][font='Times New Roman'][color=silver]X2: X-Men United (2003) ***1/2[/color]

[color=silver][/color]
[color=silver]More than adequate follow-up to the 2000 film sees the X-Men unite (duh) to take down an evil general played by Brian Cox. I?m not a huge fan of the X-Men, to be fair, but I did like the original (more so than this one). This time around, though, the film seems to have little plot and more place for thunderous action set-pieces. There?s an especially effective one of these with Alan Cumming?s Nightcrawler character that sets the tone for the film? but the film never really tops that scene. It?s entertaining (if somewhat obvious) and although it runs much too long (any time an action movie goes over the two hour mark for me, I start getting more critical) and doesn?t require much of an attention span, it remains a decent watch. [/color][/font]

The Poseidon Adventure

Only two days left before the actual school schedule ends and we go into exams. Normally, that would stress someone out, but I'm pretty confident about practically every exam except Math 436. I aced (well, 77% ain't acing, but I sucked so bad otherwise that I consider it acing) the Summative, and with a decent amount of studying I should get through the exam.

After that, it's glorious, glorious Christmastime. Actually...

I've been a bit depressed these days. I wish I was a kid again. When I was a kid, Christmas was a lot of fun. There was none of this stress (will I pass? What'll I do next year? Where is my money coming from?). When I was a kid, I didn't realize that most people around me are crap and that most of life itself is crap. I didn't realize that my friends would be into drugs this much (at least, though, they've never ventured beyond pot). I didn't know that my grandmother was an alcoholic (!). All of this stuff that goes completely over your head when your a kid now hits me in the nose and I don't like it. I'm turning 17 on Christmas day, and I think I'm the only person on Earth who finds this depressing. Not so much that I'm getting old (not a fat chance) but that I'm getting [i]older[/i]. I miss the innocence of being a kid.

Now that this sentimental little rant worthy of a John Hughes movie is out of the way... for various reasons, the little groupie I mentioned a couple of days back now hates me. It's strange having a 12-year-old girl hate you; it's not really important, yet there's the niggling sensation that... something. Anyway.

(In my head, this entry sounds a lot more expressive. I have a repressive inspiration when it comes to dealing with my own life.)

Saw The Poseidon Adventure last weekend. Really quite stupid, but I'm a sucker for big-cast disaster epics from the 70's as well motley-crew survival movies, so it's a double guilty pleasure. Gene Hackman as a priest is just... awesome, and a lot of the movie is actually pretty well done considering. The stupid script ("Mr. Scott! The hot steam, it's blocking our escape!") and some frequently annoying performances tarnish the film's goofy fun, but in the end it's more entertaining than it is annoying.

Wall Street
Wall Street(1987)
½

I was searching for a title for this thread, and then I thought of The Weekenders. Whatever happened to that show? Hell, it might still be on, except I'm never up to watch it anymore. Damn, that was a good show.

Anyway, relaxed weekend. Watched some movies. Drove around aimlessly on Saturday night. I hate winter. Seems to me like in winter there's never anything to do; during the summer, you can just hang out somewhere, outside. Just bike around, visit people, whatever. In the winter, however, it's too damn cold to do anything that's free. So, essentially, you have a couple of options: (a) go play pool/go to a club (b) go see a movie (c) drive around aimlessly (d) go visit someone, where you invariably do nothing and search for something ELSE to do, with another person in tow (e) drink (f) stay at home and do nothing. That's not the most exciting of choices.

Aside from that, pretty much nothing happened. I watched the Simpsons yesterday, and it was damn near one of the lamest episodes ever. There were a couple of good jokes, but the plot was recycled and silly.

According to this article at imdb.com, Ozzy Osbourne was on meds during production of the last season of the Osbournes, which is why he's so fucked up. Now, maybe it's just me, but Ozzy's been pretty much the same every goddamn season, and yet this guy says that when he interviewed Ozzy, he walked and talked normally. Yeah... my ass. I feel somewhat inclined to not believe that one fucking bit. But, you know, that's just me.

Last weekend I watched Wall Street (pretty good, I'm only one week behind in my reporting of the movies I watched). It's a decent movie, far from Stone's best but a good watch anyway. Douglas is fun as the greedy broker Gordon Gekko, and Charlie Sheen gives a better performance here than he did in Platoon (IMO). The film is somewhat short on subtlety, being an Oliver Stone film, and it doesn't always work in favor of it. The film's messages tend to be a little overstated and otherwise predictable (the whole rise to the top angle is nothing new) but it's never boring and contains some great one-liners.

The Killing Fields
½

Elian Gonzales turns 10 today. Woohoo.

After school yesterday, I stayed around after school as my friends were having a jam session. It wasn't very exciting (all they play is Metallica) but there was the added bonus of seeing some 12-year-old hang around the entire time. She's madly in love with my friend Chris and keeps showing up every goddamn time they jam. It's hilarious... but even that gets old after a while.

Finally, we ended up going to my friend Derek's place. The stoners stoned (but not I) and my friend Will (a usual non-stoner) became part of their ritual for the night. Then, they decided it would be really hilarious if someone was to drink vinegar, so Will stepped up and chugged it. Needless to say, vinegar doesn't sit well in your stomach, and he ended up puking a disgusting mass of brown, pea-soupish stew in the sink. I simply sat and laughed at their stupidity and don't regret it one bit. My friend has a cable descrambler so we watched bits and pieces of: 2 Fast 2 Furious (awful), Daddy Day Care (awful), Wrong Turn (awful), Pupperty of the Penis (Jesus fuckin Christ) and Anger Management (I have a soft spot for it, but we saw the incredibly lame ending). I also caught part of some TV movie with Sinbad in it called The Cherokee Kid which was mind-numbingly awful and unfunny (and for some reason, narrated by someone who sounds like Triumph). I didn't watch it long enough, but it turns out James Coburn, Ernie Hudson and Burt Reynolds were in it. Oh, big loss. After Will finished picking his puke up, me and P-Dogg ate at some incredibly dingy hot dog place, I got home, and now here I am. I have to leave soon to go get some math tutoring and rent some movies.

The Killing Fields was excellent. As I was watching it, my father came downstairs and said "Oh, is that the Killing Fields? You won't sleep well... it's gotta be the most depressing movie I ever saw." Although I wouldn't quite say that, it IS a depressing, disturbing film. The actors (especially Ngor) are all top-notch and the film paints a disturbing portrait (yet still, I hear, extremely repressed) of Cambodia at the time. I could've done without John Lennon at the end, and there are various little touches here and there that seem off, but none of them get in the way of the big picture.

As Good as It Gets
½

Myooze (spelt like this because I found out that Google really likes these pages and if you type in a name, it's easy to end up here... and I don't want any of my friends finding this) is back for the weekend. I'll establish the story: last year, my math teacher had a nervous breakdown and quit. The principal was stuck so he hired a 22-year-old ex-graduate of the school to substitute for a while. Now... if you do the math... we were sixteen, he was twenty-two. He was a huge stoner, a complete Lennon worshipper who wore Rubber Soul t-shirts to class. He frequently came to class stoned. So, of course, when we threw parties, we invited him. He began to befriend my friend Gaute and they started a band together. Of course, both of them being the type of people to favor smoking weed, their jam sessions soon evolved into smoke-outs. During a particular school activity, they snuck out, smoked some weed... and got caught.

Myooze got fired. We began seeing more of him outside of school. He began dating Gaute's twin sister (he's a guy... statutory rape apparently isn't a big deal here). He got totally depressed. He left to go pursue his studies as a math genius in Montreal. And now he's back for the weekend. What a story, huh. It sounds like something out of Boston Public.

Other than that, not much news.

Saw As Good As It Gets this weekend. Honestly, this movie should've sucked. A romantic comedy (bleh) about a bigoted author who falls in love with a waitress and befriends a gay guy and learns to love and whatnot. With Cuba Gooding Jr., no less. Nicholson is over-the-top, Hunt is basically doing her patented I-have-no-lips schtick, there are countless Dog Reaction Shots (tm)... yet, somehow, it all works. I can'T explain it. It doesn't deserve the praise it got... but it's much better than you'd expect.

Top Secret!
Top Secret!(1984)
½

I'm pretty goddamn sick of it all right now. First off, I spent my weeknd in a state of imposed hangover; not only was I hung-over, I had nothing else to do but watch fucking movies in my fucking basement, which as you may guess does not make the nausea go away.

Then, on Suday, my Internet suddenly died, forcing me to watch MORE movies. On Sunday night it wasn't too bad as there was a Louis-José Houde special on TV (he's a hilarious Quebec standup comedian).

And then came yesterday. As with every freakin' Monday, I take the bus to go watch a movie at the college. However, this time around the bus decided that it would change its course (it was the same bus, mind you, that I ALWAYS took for the last THIRTEEN WEEKS) so I ended up secluded in the "bad" part of town. I decided that I would opt for another movie (I was going to see L'Adversaire but decided to go for Whale Rider) at another college closer to where I was. The bus driver told me that in fifteen minutes a bus would come that would go directly past said school. Nope. I waited for half an hour at that goddamn bus stop, freezing my ass off (it just so happened we had something of a snowstorm yesterday night) until finally a bus came around... and it was the very same bus that took me there... which means it had done all of its course already. I got home miserably at 7:45 and watched the Wedding Singer. Oh yeah, and I met this annoying stoner guy I know named Spence who happened to be at that party Friday night, so as they smoked countless bowls at the bus stop, he regaled his friends with (completely false) tales of how I puked everywhere. Except I didn't.

And today! I had this huge fucking math test that I completely fucking bombed. And they keep telling me that this class (Honors Math) is really important for my future and that if I don't have it I'll be a dead-beat minimum wage loser all my life. I'M SICK OF THIS. I FUCKING HATE THIS CLASS.

And tonight I have a crapload of homework. And I just got my Internet back... I have stuff to check out. I have to go shovel the walk. I have to do this and that and blah blah blah blah.

On another, completely different note, I watched Top Secret last week (and am only now getting to it...). It's a funny movie, if not as funny as Airplane! The humor is often hit-or-miss, but there's some truly funny dialogue here (the sight gags aren't as funny; a lot of it is particularly lame slapstick, cow-blowjob stuff) and some game actors. That's all I needed.

The Way of the Gun

There WAS a party, it turns out. I bought two big-ass bottles of malt liquor (actually, we call it 'strong beer' here because our liquor laws aren't as weird, but it's malt liquor) that cost me like 6 bucks. We headed over there, things got a little confused, I felt sick, somebody brough me into the washroom and I spent approximately THREE hours in semi-conciousness on the floor, trying not to throw up.

I didn't. Yay me. Except, this morning, I was crippled by that loveable kinda of nausea that hits you every time you breathe, swallow, move, blink... for a few hours. I'm okay now. The lesson, kids, is that beer, while technically more expensive, is somewhat less evil.

The Way of the Gun. My friend loves this movie; he was urging me to check it out, so I did... and I've gotta say... meh. It's a typical post-Tarantino bulletfest with an altogether uninvolving, familiar storyline. The cast is the main reason to see this... and even then...

Amistad
Amistad(1997)

is a day spent touring college.

So, today we ahd this activity at the local college where we chose some classes and attended them (although, they were called workshops, since all the students had the day off). At first I had this picked out:

1. Police (there was really nothing better in this slot)
2. Social Sciences
3. Television (they don't have film here)
4. General Tour

So we got there and there was already some speech underway. They told us to take out our sheet and follow the chick with the numbered sign. Except that we were never given any numbers, so I ended up going on a tour of the TV department first instad of the slot I had intended. No big deal. Then, my friend Chris and I were looking for Social Sciences, so we asked some old teacher guy who gave us directions. We entered the classroom and saw that we had gone into a information session about a Photography class at some college way out in the boonies. The guy talking was possibly the most boring person on Earth; we had to sit through an hour of him rambling on and on about photography. Then we got out of there and found our other friends, many of which were heading into a music workshop.

I went there; it wasn't too bad except for the fact that it doesn't really interest me that much. Then we had lunch at some dingy little cafe, walked back, watch some band play a couple of jazz songs and had a tour of the entire college. We slipped out just before they started showing us the cafeteria and some guy in my class drove me home, and now I'm here. I didn't make a choice because I [u]know[/u] I'm not staying in this crappy town, despite all the hot chicks (and what hot chicks they are, indeed) that go to this school, so it was fairly pointless.

I watched Amistad a few days ago. Not bad, but certainly not up to Spielberg's usual stuff. It's really a confused film that doesn't really have as much impact as it could've. Djimon Honsou's performance as the 'lead' slave, is quite good, and the scenes aboard the boat are appropriately horrifying and well-handled. But too much of the film is spent going through long, elaborate speeches that don't really say much (Anthony Hopkins' Oscar-nominated supporting role is little else than an overblown, Oscar-pandering monologue) and going through scores of dull supporting characters. It's a good story, told appropriately... but it never seems to elevate higher than that, and that's the disappointing part.

I dislike this feature of only rating a movie per entry. I'm really, really late in my rating. Oh well, life's not fair.

Desperado
Desperado(1995)
½

I actually forgot about this place. The five-day weekend was kinda boring, to tell the truth; I got addicted to Hollywood Mogul ([url="http://www.hollywood-mogul.com"]www.hollywood-mogul.com[/url], download it, you won't be sorry) once again and spent most of time doing that and watching movies. That's pretty much all that happened.

I hate Math so much. The teacher is one dumb bitch; I sit there for an hour not grasping ANY of what she's saying, so I go up to her and say:

"I don't understand. I don't even understand what it is I don't understand."
"Go sit down."
"But, I don't understand!"
"Get a tutor!"

YOU'RE THE FUCKING TEACHER. TEACH ME. I "need" this class to get into college, supposedly... but I don't WANT to go in Pure and Applied Sciences. I don't give a damn. If that means I won't make money, SO BE IT. See, the reason I want to go into communications is that it's my passion. It's the one thing I know I won't ever get sick of. Maybe I *will* be poor... so what?

I got my school pictures. I look like a total fucktard. People like it, though... my class picture is somewhat better. I'll try to find someone who has a scanner (or, barring that, try to plug mine in, I haven't used it in years) and maybe put it up.

My mom wants me to make a Christmas list. I don't know what I want for Christmas. I haven't got a single goddamn clue. I want money, obviously, but Christmas at my house is too festive and, I dunno, happy to be simply opening envelopes. What's not helping is that, as some of you may know, Christmas is also my birthday... which is really just a heap more crap since that makes it all the more complicated.

Somewhere along the line here I watched Desperado, which was quite disappointing. I liked Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn (hell, I bought the DVD) and El Mariachi, but this was just... bleh. Rodriguez remakes El Mariachi with a lot more money; it turns out that making movies on 7,000 dollars can be a GREAT idea. There's way too many shootouts and too much stuff exploding here. There's no plot to speak of, the characters are paper-thin, it's confusing and not really very entertaining despite the massive amounts of bloodshed on-screen. The good cast livens it up a bit (as does the Salma Hayek nudity) but even so, I've seen everyone here do much better work (even [i]Tarantino, [/i]fer chrissakes).

The Limey
The Limey(1999)
½

So I go over to the Brand New website earlier today. I hadn't been there in a while, so I got a crapload of updates... including one saying that there was a new video for Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades. Being an uber-fanboy, this is my approximate reaction talking to my friend Will:

Me: sgfgkfdmnhjklgdhfghg
Will: what
Me: brand new sglkfmdghdfhd
Will: what?
Me: SIC TRANSIT VIDEO
Will: :O
Me: :o
Will: where?
Me: [url="http://www.launch.com"]www.launch.com[/url]
Will: :O
Me: this is awesome aoifnagsfigdflhgfljghljkdkfnhk\!!!!!!WW\!!!!!Q

But then, the Launch.com version got really screwy so I had to head over to Kazaa and download it... amazing. It's really a great video, with a great concept (that admittedly has very little to do with what the song's about, but I digress). I watched it a couple of times. BN were Rolling Stone's Hot Band of 2003; that is simply kickass. I can say I liked them before they were popular... not like anyone would care.

I didn't do much today except vacuum and sit on my ass all day. I'm heading out in a couple of hours to see Gaz Bar Blues (which I prefer seeing over Whale Rider, in all honesty... besides I can rent Whale Rider) which I hear is an incredible Quebecois movie.

Yesterday I watched The Limey, an interesting revenge thriller from director Steven Soderbergh. I liked the cast; I liked the editing and the inclusion of clips from Poor Cow; I thought the story was decent. The thing is the movie never really involved me the way it should. Still decent, though. I don't see all the praise for it, however.

Liberty Heights

I just saw the new "I Keed" video by Triumph The Insult Comic Dog on TV. They said it was an exclusive... but in any case, it was pretty funny. There were some good cracks (Eminem, Puff Daddy, Nelly) some rather lame and easy (American Idol) and some totally inappropriate stuffed-sheep kissing.

So, as editor-in-chief of the sports section of the school newspaper (don't even ask me how I got into that) I had to give up my holidays to go to school. I spent four hours in a hot computer lab, eidting, typing and formatting articles while 50 Cent's record played on an endless loop courtesy of my friend Bryan (see Halloween picture entry... or my pictures, for that matter). I came out of there with a massive headache... but at least it might look good on a resume... maybe.

What else? Yesterday was pretty boring; I spent the entire day doing practically nothing except sleep until P-Dogg picked me up and we drived around aimlessly visiting people we know. I got home a 2 AM again (I don't understand how we can waste this much time doing nothing, it's incredible... if I could find a way to somehow apply this to Math class, I'd be set for life).

Oh, yeah, I watched Liberty Heights (as well as a couple of others, but we can't rate more than one so they'll have to wait). A very underrated film, methinks. I'm a sucker for a good coming-of-age movie like this one, and although it went a little overboard (it seems like every third word in the script was the word Jewish or Jew and it flogged the racism horse till it was ready for the glue factory), it was an effective, entertaining film with a nice ensemble cast.

I still haven't gotten around to writing the Annoying People I Know entry. Maybe this week.

Deconstructing Harry

So yesterday, I started working on another installment of Annoying People I Know, but it crashed and so I've given up for now. Yesterday I wrote a new review at Epinions, which I hadn't done in a while since I had no time. You can find the review [url="http://www.epinions.com/content_119388409476"]here[/url].

Yesterday night we went to the mall for reasons I can't quite grasp; my friend Will likes to go there because he invariably meets girls he knows and spends 20 minutes talking to each one, leaving us standing in the background because he doesn't introduce us or anything. In any case, we went there and eventually Andrew picked us up. We at a A&W, which was a bad idea since I had already HAD supper. So, starting today, I'm eating healthy. No more crap. I've had it. Eating crap is also more expensive... we'll see how that turns out.

We ended up going to Andrew's house and playing Playstation and watching Scary Movie. We never finished it, so I won't bother rating it. I got home at two in the morning (which is relatively early for a Friday) completely sober (which hasn't happened in a few Fridays). It's weird.

Yesterday I went to the video store. This is my haul: Liberty Heights (1999), Top Secret! (1984), Amistad (1997), The Way of the Gun (2000), The Limey (1999) and Desperado (1995). Not exactly a bunch of high-profile arthouse flicks, but I have plenty of those at home anyway.

Oh, yeah, and I also watched Deconstructing Harry yesterday. Seems to me like after they deconstructed him, they forgot to put some pieces back up. The film is only effective in bits and pieces (the kidnapping of his son, the Robin Williams bit); too much of it is comprised of sub-par Allen argument scenes and other neurotic neurotism we'd already seen in his other films. I like the concept of the characters coming back to visit him and of the free-flowing storyline, but it's all more or less clunky. The dark humor here doesn't suit Allen at all, either, and that sex scene at the beginning was among the worst scenes Allen has ever put to scene. I felt like I was watching Tomcats.

The Virgin Suicides

So, yeah, today I have no school, which is shuper-shweet. Since most of my friends are doing stuff today (a couple of my friends are at college... some are simply gone heaven knows where), I'm going to sit in my basement and watch movies. I already watched The Virgin Suicides and will start on Deconstructing Harry soon.

So, The Virgin Suicides. Loved the score by Air, loved the cast (except maybe for Josh Hartnett, who just looked out of place most of the time), loved the way Coppola depicted the suburbs... did not love the way the movie unfolded though. What's the point of having the grown-up Trip talk to the camera? Was it an interview? I suppose this was something carried over from the book, but the narration served this purpose well enough, I think. Anyway, it was a very good movie and I can't wait to see Lost in Translation someday when this hick place realizes that it exists.

My entries are getting shorter and shorter. Well, to remedy that, I'll post Episode II of Annoying People I Know... this time it'll be a guy.

28 Days Later
½

So, after my guitar class I went to the video store and picked up 28 Days Later along with The Virgin Suicides. I loved the kind of storyline they present here: a handful of survivors struggle to survive after everything is decimated and blah blah blah... in video games, movies and books, it's always something that I enjoy seeing. However, I've noticed a trend in these as well; I'm always much, much more interested by the first half of the story, where they basically scrounge around for stuff. The second act, where the usually find bigger weapons and bigger stuff to kill (although it's not exactly like that here) always seems to defeat the purpose of the story. The same thing goes for this film; the second half trades the chills and atmosphere of the first half for action and a half-assed parable of human nature.

Otherwise, a very good horror film of the kind we barely see any of these days. Top-notch atmosphere and taut direction.

Sling Blade
Sling Blade(1996)
½

Just watched Sling Blade. Very, very good film. Thornton's performance is amazing; it's a level above most performances of this kind because you get the sense that Carl could probably sharper than he ends up bieng. There's a certain repressed state in Thornton's performance that you don't see in other movies, not even Rain Man (which I must say I loved, for all its treacly Oscar-baiting moments). The script, dialogue and direction are all pitch perfect. If it wasn't for a slightly lagging pace and some scenes that could've been trimmed to make the film a bit punchier, this film would probably be a 10.

Not much else happened today.

Sweet Sixteen

I saw Sweet Sixteen last night. I liked it very much; despite being Loach's 17th film, it feels like a first effort: raw, gritty, honest, minimalist... but in the same sense, it's also got the awkward movie references and the tendency to want to cover too much ground of the first movie. I loved the gritty atmosphere and wonderful performances by a cast of unknowns, too. For some reason, I saw more walkouts in this particular film than I've seen all year at the Cine-Club. I suppose it was too much for the grey-bearded intellectuals who populate it. I'd say at least 30 people (out of a crowd of 400-500) left... and they pretty much all left at the same time... yet no one left during the really bad scenes (like the Pinball slashing scene or the scene where Liam hits Chantelle).

[url="http://www.geordie.ca/modules.php?full=1&set_albumName=album03&id=off_fouls2&op=modload&name=gallery&file=index&include=view_photo.php"][img]http://www.geordie.ca/albums/album03/off_fouls2.sized.jpg[/img][/url]
Today we saw this play called Offensive Fouls by some touring troupe that's come to the school forever. It was about racism and such; it was decent, except it got a little preachy by the end... which I suppose is normal for school theater. It was pretty good for school theater, anyway. I guess I'll give them a little free publicity: [url="http://www.geordie.ca"]www.geordie.ca[/url]

I got my report card today. I got on the Honor Roll... barely, but it's still honor roll. Math 436 and my not doing of homework in other classes (Religious Cultures, ahem) killed me somewhat.

So, yeah... tonight I'm seeing a basketball game.

A Clockwork Orange

Wow. I just finished A Clockwork Orange. I'm just... speechless. It's a fucking brilliant film. Everything in this movie works; I can't, at this moment, find a single thing wrong with it. I think I'd have to watch it again, but it has a very good chance of making it in my top 20 (which I'm soon going to expand to a top 30, methinks). What surprises me the most about the film is that, if you strip away all the mescaline-laced milk and slang and get to the very basic story, it's a very simple tale of alienation that could've starred Brando or James Dean in another lifetime. There's a certain something about the film... I... it's too early right now. I'd have to get my thoughts into order... but I can tell you than whenever this happens, it's because the movie was brilliant.

Barry Lyndon
Barry Lyndon(1975)

Yesterday was pretty boring. I slept in the afternoon because I was completely fucking exhausted and went to play pool at night. It was pretty relaxed; some girls joined us and we ended up eating at a cheap pizza place. Then we got 7 into a 4 place car and drove everyone home. Wow.

I finished Barry Lyndon just now. What a beautiful film, visually. It completely blows away practically every movie I've ever seen in terms of cinematography, lighting, sets, costumes, etc. The only thing is it isn't quite as amazing in other aspects. Ryan O'Neal is extremely wooden (for the most part; the bedside scene was his only convincing one) and although the story is never quite boring, it [i]does [/i]feel too drawn-out. From a technical standpoint, though, the film is practically flawless.

I practically killed my computer this morning downloading movies from BitTorrent. I don't know exactly how it works but when you start a download the file is alread 800 megs big on your computer; mine completely spazzed out. I've got a couple of good movies downloading now, which is cool. I'll watch Spun or A Clockwork Orange later today.

Hafið (The Sea) (Havet)
½

Saw The Sea. Pretty disappointed. It's pretty much exactly the same movie as Festen (The Celebration) except it's set in Iceland, doesn't have the annoying Dogme camerawork, instead replacing it with a healthy dose of comedy. The comedy works, but the rest of the movie doesn't; as it progresses it becomes increasingly incoherent and structurally muddy. It's got all the conventions of the European movie about family: incest, alcoholism, troubled teens, a lot of pointless shouting... Meh.

My friend Dacres is coming back for the weekend. Let me tell you a little bit about Dacres: he's sort of a loud, hyperactive combo between Cosmo Kramer and The Dude. He moved to Sherbrooke (five hours from here) during the summer, but he keeps showing up periodically to see "the gang". He's super-spoiled by his parents so they let him do whatever he wants. In any case, the last time he came around he went to my other friend's house to "wash" and left three days later. I think this time around, however, he might take over my house. Too much Dacres can really drive somebody up the wall. He's a good guy, though, and I'm glad he's back all the time like this.

I forgot my (read: the school's) copy of 1984 on the city bus yesterday. Isn't that exciting?

Elliott Smith - Pitseleh

[i]I'll tell you why i don't want to know where you are
I got a joke i been dying to tell you
A silent kid is looking down the barrel
To make the noise that i kept so quiet
I kept it from you, pitseleh
I'm not what's missing from your life now
I could never be the puzzle pieces
They say that god makes problems
Just to see what you can stand
Before you do as the devil pleases
And give up the thing you love
But no one deserves it
The first time i saw you i knew it would never last
I'm not half what i wish i was
I'm so angry
I don't think it'll ever pass
And i was bad news for you just because
I never meant to hurt you[/i]

(Yes, I know the line in my title doesn't match the song. No, I don't care.)

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
½

I hate McDonald's. All day my stomach has been noisily complaining about the crap that I forced to it to ingest last night/this morning. All I ate today was a peanut-butter sandwich that I ate in attempt to force the Mickey D's to come out.

So, anyway... today I watched Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) with DeNiro and Branagh. It was disappointing, to say the least. DeNiro's portrayal of the monster is great, but the rest of the movie is completely out-of-synch with itself. The performances are too much, everything is taken too seriously (or not seriousl;y enough)... the entire thing is a big confused mess held together by DeNiro's great performance.

This afternoon I took the bus with the circle-jerking stoners and went to check out some pawn shops and stuff for guitars and amps. I found a lot of good deals on old VHS tapes but didn't honor any of them because I didn't have any money aside from a five dollar bill. Of course, the bus doesn't give change, so I missed the bus while I was getting change. I roamed around the "main" street until the buses came again. Now I'm here. How great.

I feel like throwing up. I need to eat, I think.

Hamlet
Hamlet(1990)
½

So, I had a nice little entry written out and everything... and the site crashed. Damn you!

Today was really icy and cold. The only good thing that can come out of this is watching people slip and fall and then act like no one saw them. It's always good for a laugh... except when it happens to you. I'm already sick and tired of the cold and there hasn't even been any snow yet.

For archimme's sake, I recap last night's episode. The kids were being their usual bitchy selves when their mom called them down for breakfast: milkless cereal. "Your dad'll be home any minute with the milk" she says. The phone rings; she doesn't say anything, just freaks out and runs away. Commercial break. Everyone's crying and hugging (and because we know John Ritter died, it's not confusing, but otherwise... it doesn't make much sense) and continue to do so until James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette show up as the mom's parents. Then, there's the wake, where every minor or major character in the show comes up and says how they loved Paul. Then the plot grinds to a halt while they have a lot of fulfilling conversations about death. Eventually, Puddy from Seinfeld shows up and asks for Paul's last article ebcause he wants to run a homage in the newspaper. They muster up the guts to find the article, read it only to find out that it says how much he loves his family. Awww. It wasn't a bad episode, though it was terribly Full House-ish in its treatment of certain aspects of death (remember when Papito or whatever the old Greek guy's name was died?).

So, I decided that my journal needed some daily or weekly thing to make it exciting, so I'm introducing Annoying People In My Life, a regular column in which I will rip people I know (and dislike) a new asshole. It's cathartic for me, entertaining for you... it's win-win. Look for it soon.

We watched Hamlet with Mel Gibson in English class. It was decent enough. Gibson wasn't a bad Hamlet, considering that up to that point his most subtle role was Mad Max. He was, however, too old for the part... and Glenn Close as his mother wasn't very believeable. As can be expected from Zeffirelli, the visuals were sublime... but the direction of some scenes was cold and unfeeling (when it shouldn't have been).

My stoner friends don't like Baba O'Reily. Yet, for some reason, they love listening to The Doors' Heroin... even when they're not high. Anyway...

I don't remember if I wrote anything else in my previous, dead post...

I guess not.

The Flower of Evil
½

Another boring day, yet no dollar. School was, as always, a mind-numbing bore. I'm so close to failing 436 math (I'm redoing it because, well, I need it do go to college and I didn't get it last year) that it's not even funny. Of course, if I was in Ontario I'd be in the clear... but screw Ontario.

I semi-sprained my finger in gym. You know when a basketball hits your finger and it swells up? That's what happened. The swelling is coming down, though, but it's still annoying. I can't hold a pencil properly.

I saw The Flower of Evil at the Ciné-Club yesterday. Surprisingly enough, there was a hot chick just about my age there; it's usually old bearded intellectuals and bohemian college students with beards and flowery skirts (not necessarily both on the same person). Anyway... the movie was pretty good, much better than Swimming Pool, in any case. Suzanne Flon was awesome as the old woman. There was way, way too much plot but otherwise, a fine little drama from Claude Chabrol.

Tonight's the episode of 8 Simple Rules where the characters face the death of John Ritter. I usually don't watch the show, but I have to admit I'm morbidly curious about how they're going to pull that off... so I'm gonna watch.

I need a job! I'm becoming increasingly poor. I have something like 150 bucks right now, twenty of which will probably go for booze Friday. It's Andrew's birthday and we're painting the town red. I used to hate going to bars (they're not so much bars as they are discotheques here, but anyway) but after that little adventure a few weeks ago, I kinda like it now. (Yes, I know I'm not old enough to get in... but I look old, and besides I never get carded for anything except to rent Natural Born Killers... bitches)

Baba O'Riley is probably the singlemost effective rock song in the history of time. I can listen to it non-stop and never, ever get tired of it. It's great walking music, too.

Wow, I can't imagine anyone caring about the crap I just blathered here.






I love this journal thing.

Courage Under Fire

I got to bed late last night (not my fault, Scorsese was on Inside the Actor's Studio) and waking up was a bitch. School sucked; there's a new exchange student in my class, her name's Thu and she's from Vietnam. That's roughly the 10th exchange student this year. Anyway... I wonder who the hell ever had an exchange student that looked like Shannon Elizabeth. These look more like Elizabeth Taylor (in 2003). Anyway... I shouldn't be on here anyways, I have some work to do about Cambodia.

Oh yeah, I saw Courage Under Fire yesterday. It was quite good, if somewhat familiar. At least it held my attention the whole way through... and Lou Diamond Phillips had a great scene with the train.

Seeing La Fleur Du Mal tonight.

Have to read 1984.

The Good Thief

Saw the Good Thief this morning.

- Nolte = kick-***. Two Nolte movies in a row, and yet, it was like two completely different actors. He absolutely rocks in this movie.

- I haven't seen Bob le flambeur. Sue me.

- The title for this in French is Le Dernier Coup De Monsieur Bob. Monsieur Bob. It sounds like the title for a children's golf movie.

- A great supporting cast, too. Emir Kusturica is not only a kickass director, he's also a kickass actor.

- The girl sucked, though.

- Loved the style, too. Take note, Jonathan Demme! If you want to remake a movie and set in it in France, THIS IS THE WAY.

Hulk
Hulk(2003)
½

It's late. I watched the Hulk tonight. I thought it was pretty good, actually; the story was deep and thought-provoking, the actors convicing, the CG decent... the development got sloppy sometimes and the movie gets to be silly... but you all sort of get used to it. Since my video store has a policy that says you can get other movies if you brings yours in before midnight, I got The Good Thief, Courage Under Fire and American Psycho.

Otherwise, my life is pretty bland... but the weekend is good for unwinding and cramming a lot of moviewatching.

I had goose for supper. It's alright.

Tombstone
Tombstone(1993)
½

So, I finished Tombstone. It was decent. Some point-form remarks:

- Kurt Russell with a mustache = Robin Williams
- I take back whatever I said about Val Kilmer not being a good actor. He's awesome... except in The Saint.
- The video box for this is AWFUL. It looks decent when you see it from afar... but the next time you go to the video store, pick the box up and look at it closely. It's a horrible cut-and-paste job, with lopsided, pasted-on mustaches on four uneven-sized heads... and all the heads are looking in different directions. Truly crap.
- The OK Corrall scene was very original, not at all lifted off Leone. :rolleyes:
- Dana Delaney sucks.
- The second half, for all its Peckinpah-inspired ultraviolence, is pretty damn good action filmmaking.
- Powers Boothe, chewing the scenery? Never.

The Hulk is next. This is probably a movie I oculd watch with my friend Will but he always, always falls asleep. So... it probably won't happen.

Suicide Kings

So... I watched Suicide Kings. Not bad, not good either. Walken was, as usual, the best part. A full review may come, eventually. I spent a good part of the afternoon stacking wood because I live in the colad-ass north and my mom just bought this fireplace that she enjoys having on... all. the. time.

So I stacked wood, a boring, repetitive job if there ever was one. Just as I thought I was finished the gigantic pile I was stacking, the old guy who looked like a cross between a sea turtle and Robert Forster came around and dropped ANOTHER GIGANTIC LOAD.

And he's coming with another!

Bahhhhhhhhhhhhh.