Adrian B.'s Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

America America

Interesting biography, directed by Elia Kazan ("On the Waterfront" and "A Streetcar Named Desire"), about young man (Stathis Giallelis) in the 1890's emigrating from Greece to the United States. He has had enough of the corruption and fighting within his small town and wants to get out. The man while trying any means of departing his country, either through family, friends, acquaintances, or even enemies, and for that matter, through methods of stealing, manipulation, and lying. Generally informative, although I don't know if this corruption could compare to the current day Greece. Pretty long and also in need of restoration (made in 1963 but looks like it was made in the late 1930's, although that really doesn't matter), but still has its fascinating parts. Note: Kazan's motive for directing such a film was based on his uncle's journey during the time period from Greece to the United States.

Grey Gardens
Grey Gardens(1975)

Questionably odd documentary on the isolated cousins of late president John F. Kennedy. These ladies, mother Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and daughter Edith Ewing Beale, lived in an isolated home along the East Hampton, New York coastline (I actually thought it was along the coast in either North or South Caroline for some reason). There is infested with bugs, rodents, and cats, and do they care? No! Essentially, their nuts! There is no other way to describe these ladies, who seem to be engaged in a real love/hate relationship and treat everyone around very peculiarly. Disturbingly, it's like the relationship between my mother and my grandmother, although they are not that isolated or psychotic. I can sadly relate in a way. Brrrrrr...Mother Ewing died two years after the documentary was released, while daughter Ewing passed away in 2002. Both lived into their eighties despite this less than appealing life style.

Sayonara
Sayonara(1957)
½

Marlon Brando plays a soldier named Ace, who has originated from the southern USA that has been reassigned to working in Japan. One of his colleagues Kelly (Red Buttons) falls in love and weds a Japanese woman (Miyoshi Umeki), although this not to the liking of his superiors. Additionally, Ace's woman (Patricia Owens) from America comes and joins him, although he starts losing interest in her and begins to fall in love with another lady, a Japanese actress (Miiko Taka). Honestly speaking, when I saw that director Joshua Logan was the same director of the 1956 film "Picnic," I became concerned that this drama would be unspectacular, and sure enough it was. It has not aged well, it is not that interesting, and therefore, it does not work on today's standards. Brando's consistent southern accent is quite annoying and not effective, like previously in the 1951 hit "A Streetcar Named Desire." James Garner adds nothing to this movie. I was ready to say "Sayonara" after 25 minutes watching this overly long picture. What a big disappointment, considering it took home two supporting acting awards (Buttons and Umeki, the Kelly couple and they are not bad at all).

Zhou Yu's Train
½

Feeble Chinese movie about a woman named Zhou Yu (Li Gong) who falls in love with a teacher (Tony Leung Kar-Fai) because of his insignificant poems (at least I thought they were). They become obsessed with one another and chase each other with the use of trains (trains are huge in China as indicated in the 2009 documentary "Last Train Home" which I recommend over this). However, the teacher is in love with another woman. I seriously love trains and watch them all the time here in Canada (also across the border in the United States), but I really don't like inefficiency, and pretty much, that is what this movie is. It's not interesting, dramatic, significant, and actors just don't look like they care. The only compensating value is the scenery and I suppose the constant site of trains which are used inefficiently throughout, but this movie does very little to interest the viewer.

Seven Beauties (Pasqualino Settebellezze)
½

Wonderful movie in which an army deserter Frafuso (Giancarlo Giannini) gets lost with another army deserter (Piero de Orio) and tells how became to such a state. Frafuso was disgusted with his sister (Elena Fiore) who becomes a stripper and states to her that she had essentially dishonoured his family. However, she upgrades in terms if dishonouring the family when she becomes a prostitute for her man (Mario Conti). Frafuso loathes this ideas and murders her man in the process, leading him to prosecution for murder and imprisonment, under a grossly, unpleasant looking drill sergeant (Shirley Stoller). This eventually puts him into the army and brings him to his state of desertion with the other man. It's a very compelling movie, in the way that it is told (going between present times and past times) and the thorough character study on Frafuso. It is pretty oppressive to women though and at times pretty ugly, but also, at times, surprisingly funny. Actor Fernando Rey does not a have substantial part, because the only I recall seeing him was near the end of the movie as a "nut" and as usual, he is good. Another fine film from Italy!

Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
½

Very interesting story of man named Daniel Ellsberg, who uncovers what many consider too much information about the Vietnam War. While working for the Research and Development Corporation (RAND) in the US government, he discovers an extensively long document citing that the Congress had lied and misled the public about their role in Southeast Asia. When it was discovered that Ellsberg had found and exploited them for their poor conduct in Vietnam, they went a search to capture and prosecute him for his alleged betrayal of the government. I had already figured that the Vietnam War, under Lyndon B. Johnson or Richard Nixon or JFK, had been quite corrupt from the beginning, but this documentary essentially secures any hope for validity of the U.S. actions. Interestingly, he was also associated with Robert McNamara, who was the Secretary of Defense during the conflict and made his own superb documentary six years earlier. It's just sad, but highly well made.

The Man Who Would Be King

Generally entertaining picture in which two non-commissioned officers named Danial Dravot (Sean Connery) and Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine) set off to conquer a kingdom in India. They originally meet a newspaper columnist Rudyard Kipling (Christopher Plummer) who was to join their adventures but loses them by the train. It's not really an in depth movie, but more just fun and full of colours (as many people would coin this as "escapist" which is truthfully a term I don't like using because it sounds derogatory). Connery and Caine, who I believe are friends in life, work very well together, and the scenery footage is incredible. I also like how the story is told in flashback, as Kipling is approached by Carnehan to how the journey with Dravot had turned out. It is a little long though, but overall it was a good experience.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

At the turn of the century (as in early 1900's), Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) meets the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) and they team up to go on a crime spree. This involves hijacking trains; robbing them of their transported money; and then heading back to this woman (Katherine Ross), to whom both seem interested in and she seems interested in both Butch and the Kid as well. After this, they decide to rob the same train again, using even more lethal explosives. However, the authorities are now on to them and they launch a prolonged chase to capture the two outlaws, either dead or alive, which leads them from the US to Bolivia. It is a compelling enough film in terms of entertainment and story and it was engaging throughout. Unfortunately, when you have seen as many films as I have from the period and genre, you start drawing comparisons and one other film comes to mind..."The Wild Bunch." It's nowhere near great as this movie and its pales in comparison. Released also 1969, "The Wild Bunch" is far superior in terms of story, acting, breaking out, and movie influence. Too bad because "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is a good movie as well, just not as good as "The Wild Bunch."

Boogie Nights

Eddie Adams (Mark Walhberg) is recruited at his nightclub job by a big shot pornography director named Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). Eddie, who boasts apparently a substantially large penis is the sure thing for the adult filmmaking industry (this is the late 1970's by the way when "Close Encounters of Third Kind" and "Saturday Night Live" hit theatres just to contrast mainstream movies with the porn flicks). He begins to work his way into the crowd to the likes of porn stars Maggie (Juliana Moore), the love of Jack; Brandi (Heather Graham), the "rollergirl" who also works at the nightclub with Eddie; Buck Swope (Don Cheadle) who works at retailer in addition to his pornography career; Reed Rothchild, another actor who becomes best friends with Eddie; Little Bill Thompson (William H. Macy), whose wife is always with a better looking man; and Scotty J. (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who begins to have a thing for Eddie. His crowd does him in, he changes his name to Dirk Diggler, and he experiences great success thanks to his sexual yearning, although he begins to dive into the life of partying and excessive drug use (cocaine seems big here).

I never base a rating on nudity, and there is a lot of it in this film (also some of Mark Walhberg that doesn't really need to be described). The big purpose of this movie is the analysis of the porn industry and it never takes sides. It just films the characters' actions with no bias. You also feel for these characters and begin to yell at Eddie (Dirk) when he at one point screws up his career (seriously, he should have got an education and applied himself to something more practical, but yet we still feel porn is the right move for him(!)). It is a film that's so substantial and unforgettable that even scenes that seem excessive in terms of intensity, with gun violence and drug use, fit in perfectly. The dialogue becomes pretty loaded with profanities half way through but yet, this is a one-of-a-kind movie. The ending is not what I pictured at all. My caring for these characters is also not what I would have expected. They lead such pitiful, not preferred lifestyles and yet there are so well-developed and Eddie has the drive, both in terms of dedication and sex organ. Acting is quite good, and there some very funny moments, but it mainly a drama of impressive sophistication, despite porn being the subject matter. A great movie no doubt!

La Nana (The Maid)
½

Odd comedy-drama in which a maid (Cataline Saavedra), who has been working within her household for more than 20 years and has essentially assisted in raising the children for all that time. As she grows older, her superiors decide to enlist in a helper for her and she seems somewhat accepting of the notion at first. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. She schemes in psychotic fashion (and possibly under the influence of a cleaner she uses for the bathtub) to get rid of these maids. I think that story comes across fine, but I just wasn't all that excited by this movie. It did not stand out for me and I felt a bit disappointed by the ended. I didn't mind it, but I was not impressed by it. I wanted more, and I don't know why. It's the first I have seen from Chile and I really wish it was better.

Zombieland
Zombieland(2009)

Who knew zombie flicks could be funny. In a world in which a mass zombie epidemic has taken place, college student (probably not anymore since no one can teach him) Columbus (Jessie Eisenberg) is fending for his life from the vicious dysfunctional creatures. He goes by these 32 rules, which includes checking the backseat before using motor vehicles in case a zombie is lurking there and is ready to pounce (or chew). One day, he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), who reluctantly takes him aboard his convey and then, they eventually meet the evil, generally attractive sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Bressen), who are on journey to the west to the Los Angeles Playland (of course infested with more zombies). It's as silly and gory as movies go, but it actually works. I did have fun with this goofball fest, even if Billy Murray who pretends to be zombie is killed mistakenly by Columbus. Not for all tastes, but it at least pokes fun at everything and is a comedy that actually works.

500 Days of Summer
½

Not what I had expected: a young man named Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works in a greeting card company writing personal, creative messages to future customers under various circumstantial events (such as birthdays, funerals, or weddings) and unexpectedly meets the love his life, Summer (Zooey Deschanel). They have a deep relationship, in which they both seem committed and uncommitted at times. She eventually dumps him and it literally bends his heart in half. It is a film told in such a non-linear order that viewers may be quite stumped after a while. However, I really enjoyed it. I though the players within the movie were well-developed, charming, funny, and I thought the script was not indulgent in ignorant trash talk. Everything seemed believable as this played on a situation in which something occurs at a time in which you don't expect it to ever happen. I have had that happen and I can feel the heartbreak of Tom when the fun comes to end. Very good movie!

Hero
Hero(2004)

Confusing and peculiar Chinese film in which the viewer is taken back 2000 years in history to the point of life in which we meet a nameless hero (Jet Li) fighting for his kingdom. The movie starts with him being promoted to his expert roll of superior sword fighter, but then transitions to him protecting a red kingdom. He then gets caught up with several females that have pasts of abusive affairs and relationships with other sword fighters. They also fight one another to the death. The movie gets quite convoluted with a variety of storylines happening as well as the intense colour contrasts between scenes, but I found it entertaining none-the-less. The imagery is pretty beautiful and the special effects are without question impressive. The acting is also good. I just wish they stuck to a more linear plot line, something similar to greatness as "The Seven Samurai."

The Gatekeepers
½

Very compelling documentary on the Israel Internal Security services, spanning from the late 1970's to the present day. The documentary is told through interview fashion, in which the effectiveness and weaknesses of the service are discussed through a variety of personnel involved with setting up the organization. There were times where there services work in which they captured those, particularly Palestinians and militants from neighbouring Lebanon in the course of action. Unfortunately, there were also times where civilians were cut in the uproar. This movie provokes memories of me as a teenager sitting in front of the TV and watching the constant fighting occurring within Israel in the early 2000's (it's still occurring today but is overshadowed by what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan). It's such a corrupt nation. The first film I have seen Hebrew and won't be the last.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Unusual documentary in which looks at a man named Jiro Ono, an entrepreneur that owns his own 3-star sushi restaurant in Japan. There is really not much else to describe here. All this is of a man who dedicates his life to making sushi for customers with complete precision. He is also considered such a perfectionist that he has driven employees away (and made his sons fear him). Yet, this film works in that it looks at the process of preparing the ingredients for the sushi, as well the logistics of buying them. It is also discusses the history behind the California roll. I actually liked this film, despite the limited subject matter.

Monsieur Lazhar
½

After an elementary school teacher kills herself, a new teacher (Mohamed Said Fellag) is hired as her replacement. His new position is definitely intimidating as his predecessor's suicide occurred in the classroom for which he and his emotionally unstable students reside. In addition, this man has to cope with the possibility of being extradited to Algeria, where is perhaps being sought out for a fire that killed his wife and a number of others in an apartment building (which was his home). I suppose the subject matter of a teacher who kills herself is not something you see every day in film, but the director, Phillippe Falardeau, does such a good job with the material, that it is highly worth the watch. In fact, it is one of the better films of 2011, and I am not saying this because I'm Canadian.

Mad Dog Time
Mad Dog Time(1996)

Also, known as "Trigger Happy," to describe this film is like this: some dark place where there is some turf war between I guess two different gangster squads who seem to be mental and obtain guns without permits or effort, leading to even more concern that the US government needs to enforce gun control. Other than that, I have absolutely no idea what this movie is about and this is how I would describe it: excruciatingly, annoying, incoherent, awful, and pure and utter torture. Everyone in this film is just dreadful. The scene featuring singer Billy Idol is putrid. The scene featuring Paul Anka singing with Gabriele Byrne is appalling (what on Earth was Anka thinking!). The shootouts are truly inept, slow, and stupid in every department. Dreyfus and Goldblum must be at low points here in their careers, as I cannot imagine movies with them worse than this. This is as bottom-of-barrel as it gets. You'll go mad and perhaps should the tape or VCR or DVD that you watched this monstrosity off of. Ranks among one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

The Invisible War
½

When I saw the DVD cover this movie, I expected a documentary on the war zones in Africa. I did not expect an engrossing documentary on the horrifying, unacknowledged ordeals of woman being tormented in the United States military or navy. Essentially, this documentary exemplifies the sexual abuse against soldiers, mainly females, in the US military. It is possible that the situation like this would occur as the U.S. military is dominated by male soldiers and has been embroiled in much controversy over the past 50 years, starting with the Vietnam War and continuing with the war in Iraq. It's not really surprising, but it is a clearly eye-opening documentary that once again exemplifies the many problems the United States experiences throughout its land. Quite a well-made piece of work and I do hope these poor ladies, along with the many the few men affect and many other victims get the justice and compensation that they oh so deserve. Spying and gun control are the least of their problems.

Red Rock West

In a small town, an unemployed man (Nicolas Cage) wanders in looking for a job. He gets one, by this rich, ruthless nut (J.T. Walsh) who wants to kills his wife (Lara Flynn Boyle) who apparently made the money from an inheritance (or so it seems). The he gets involved with a crazy crowd, which includes this other nut (Dennis Hopper) from Dallas and attempts to escape the psychotic town. Probably most people that know Nicolas Cage have never heard of this film and watch all the critical bombs from after 2010. This is actually quite an interesting film. Suspenseful, bizarre, and takes a few surprisingly compelling turns. My issue with this film is the dialogue is not great. It's one of those movies that divulges too much in crude language. However, it is actually a pretty good movie.

Dear John
Dear John(2010)
½

Dear Viewers,

Recently I am across DVD of "Dear John" next to my cousin's TV and decided for some reason to watch it. What it is about a hunky soldier named John (Channing Tatum) who comes back to Charleston, South Carolina to surf and live with his autistic, barely mobile father (Richard Jenkins) after serving in the U.S. military. There he meets an allegedly attractive girl (Amanda Seyfried) and they fall in love but their relationship hits turbulence when he goes back to serve, but to ensure communication, they write letters to one another (I suppose it isn't good enough and I guess I can see it from that angle). This movie just doesn't work. It's pretty boring as movies go, with characters so quietly at times that a hearing aid would be considered insufficient. I found the point where Seyfried's character marries a mutual friend of their's Tim (Henry Thomas) to just be so random and strange, because at the beginning of the film, she was with another guy in her age group named Randy (Scott Porter). That made no sense to me. Tatum and Seyfried apparently demonstrated good chemistry, but I didn't think so. The characters are not built well enough to show true emotion that would leave the viewer crying for no good reason (it's not like 1946 great "The Best Years of Our Lives" by any means). Instead, it's just dreary and depressing. I can find any reason recommend this film. Thank you for reading.

Regards,

Adrian Ballam

Before Sunset

Essentially a sequel released nine years after "Before Sunrise," the man (Ethan Hawke), now a bestselling author returns to Europe, this time Paris, to do a book signing. Once again, by chance, she meets the woman (Julie Delpy) again. He is now married, with one child, and has done well as a result of his writing while she is desperate to seek a man in her life. They begin conversing once again, picking up where they left nine years before, discussing their updated lives, how they could have ran into each other again both in Vienna (where they were supposed to reunite but could not as a result of her grandmother passing) and New York City (never occurred to either of them). Their love begins to rekindle. I thought long and hard on this movie, and I don't think it is as good as its predecessor, but it's pretty good. There is really no difference between the two movies other than that their lives have changed and it is an update on the two previous lovers, with a twist ending compared to the other. Like the first movie, it is better than most romantic dramas.

Before Sunrise
½

On a train destined for Vienna, Austria, a young American man (Ethan Hawke) and a young French woman (Julie Delpy) begin conversing. He's travelling Europe while she heading back to France after visiting her grandmother in Budapest, Hungary. They find each other compelling decide to put all other plans aside and spend the evening, then the night wondering the streets of Vienna. They hang out with each other until the woman eventually has to proceed off to take the train back home to Paris. There is a natural collection of acting and dialogue that makes this romantic feature stand-out in comparison while other films of this nature. Both Hawke and Deply shine in career defining moments as they interact while they engage in their less than 24 hour fling. I think this movie work quite well, as it had me thinking for days after. It, however, may not be preferred by all.

Almost Famous
½

Very interesting take on a teenager named William Miller (Patrick Fujit) who is in desperation to live his controlling mother (Frances McDormand) to pursue a career as a writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. His love for rock music was inspired by his older sister (Zooey Deschanel), who left four years earlier, and he ventures off onto a tour with this aspiring famous group called Stillwater (never existed, just fictional for the film's purpose). William ends up touring with the group (which includes actors Jason Lee and Billy Crudup) and several groupies that often hook up with them. One of them (Kate Hudson) initiates a very close relationship with William. Surprisingly effective and funny movie that manages to integrate well-known rock music at the time (like "The Who" and "The Guess Who") into the movie's soundtrack. Usually when these films use songs as their primary score, that gets annoying pretty fast, but this one didn't because that's what "Almost Famous" was all about and it used the music in moderation. Performances are fine in all regards, as everyone is essential and very contributable to story's success. Quite compelling and as I had watched the director's cut as oppose to the theatrical lease, I cannot imagine what important segments during the shortened version were eliminated. It is not overlong by any means at 160 minutes. It works for that length. Finally a film worth watching from the year 2000 (which has not delivered a lot of good films).

Potiche
Potiche(2011)
½

Catherine Deneuve plays a more than a middle aged housewife named Suzanne Pujol (she was 67 during the production of this movie) who deals with the problems of her grown-up kids and husband Robert (Fabrice Luchini). Their house is located across the street from her husband's factory, which he owns and manages, and one day, the workers go on strike. He and his colleagues try to intervene, but instead, he gets injured during the riots and it affects his previously diagnosed heart problem, rendering him bedridden. Suzanne, frustrated by him and life in general, seeks comfort from an old flame named Maurice (Gerard Depardieu). They begin where they left off more than three decades before. I thought there were some funny bits, but I was not jumping out of my seat with this movie. I have seen so many better (and funnier) French films and I think this more suitable to woman. It was just somewhat adequate for me.

The Alamo
The Alamo(1960)
½

There is really nothing interesting to discuss here. John Wayne decided to take part in directing Davy Crockett's position (for which he also plays) in the American Civil War. He and is cavalry or following, which include Laurence Harvey (UK born), Richard Wildmark, and somewhere in the mix, Frankie Avalon (!), attempt to lead their side to victory. 160 minutes of boring, pointless dialogue and it looks to me like a movie that makes more fun out of the conflict than actually specifically chronicles its importance or praises it in U.S. history. No one's performance in this film deserves applause and its overall feeling is near dead upon arrival. The movie also never ends and apparently there is 202 minute version. Who on earth would to put 200 minutes worth into this movie? 15 minutes is generous already. Lengthy and dull are the best ways to describe "The Alamo" here. This was nominated for Best Picture. It could have been a Best Picture winner. Thank goodness for "The Apartment." In terms of civil war, may suggest other films, such "Gone With the Wind," "Glory," and "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." This is not worth recommending.

Argo
Argo(2012)

In a conflict created by then president Jimmy Carter in 1979, local Iranians storm the American embassy, causing seven workers to flee and seek safety refuge in the Canadian embassy. The U.S. Government derive a plan, led by Jack O'Donnell (Bryan Cranston), to rescue these Americans who are risk of getting mobbed and killed by the public. Enter John Chambers (Ben Affleck), who comes up with a crazy, insane scheme to film a made up science fiction movie named "Argo" within Iran. He seeks help from director John Chambers (John Goodman) as well Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to make up movie posters, designs, characters, roles, even characters for all-for-naught movie. It's to rescue these Americans, and give them alias, who are isolated in the Canadian embassy surrounded by the violent mobs of the citizens of Tehran. As Best Picture winners go, it is just endless fascination that keeps this marvellous movie going for two hours. Historically inaccuracies may derive, but its overall storytelling is excellent and even if it a slight mention of Canada, it still makes me happy. They don't distain them in this film. The congratulate and praise them! This without question is a great movie, filled with many fine performances, including that of Ben Affleck who is the centre of the film high achievement (who also provided the remarkable direction). Another well-deserved winner of the top award. I wonder if 2013's winner will be this good.

Note: Argo was the Last Picture to winner to be seen by me, thus meaning I have seen all 85 of them.

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music

Someone or a whole bunch someone's had the brilliant idea in 1969 of taking a bunch cameras into Bethel, New York to chronicle a possibly legendary venue at the time. Who knew what an influence this event would have on history? Basically, the film is split into subject areas. First, it shows the performances of some of the most famous rock/folk groups and singers of the time, including Joan Baez, Jefferson Airplane, John Sebastian (no Lovin' Spoonful), The Who, Sly and the Family Stone, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and of course, Jimi Hendrix. The other side of the film is shows the people that attended, how they relax, engage in narcotics, exemplify the hippie movement, and altogether, have fun. Often a unique camera setup within the documentary which splits the screen into two, showing one activity from either two perspectives or two different things. Somehow, neither interrupt one another and the successfully coincide. Some scenes will make you wince, but that is part of the overall effect of the documentary. It is such a substantial film that it must be seen by those who attend music festivals of any top (and of course all other movie viewers). This event helped spawn additional events of the same type, throughout North America and the rest of world. Even though the music isn't style, it is tremendously compelling.

Memorial Day
Memorial Day(2008)
½

Disturbing chronicle about the effects of natural gas wells throughout the United States. Josh Fox was one day offered by a natural gas company to purchase his dwelling in the Pennsylvania country so that they could expropriate the land for the resource. He then became fascinated with this subject and began to investigate the effects of building natural gas plants near residential areas. What he found was very alarming. Drinking water and the air quality became inflammable and toxic, creating health hazards for not only those in his area, but to where he travelled including Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas. I had absolutely no idea how potentially damaging this was to human environment and hopefully this film will make an impact on the U.S. government to revaluate their strategies on expropriating natural gas. I am not against natural gas exploration because I am very supportive of mining for commodities, but I prefer it done with extreme and extensive caution before foregoing with a project. I just hope Canada does the same since Malaysia recently announced they were investing in our natural gas industry. Surprisingly effective documentary done by an extreme amateur.

The Business of Being Born

Informative, but super one-sided documentary on the process of delivery babies with the aid of midwives. This movie essentially discusses agencies that promote the type of nurse in helping upcoming through the final stages of pregnancy and the statistics on how midwives are underused, overshadowed by hospitals, and much more economical. I found interesting, but it began to cause a negative effect for me in the event that it slammed hospitals so much, that I begin to drift away. It definitely was interesting, but the biased attitude overwhelmed the purpose, causing the documentary to slip severely. The statistics are also questionable, where they say that the US has one of the worst infant mortality rates (6.81 per thousand infants in the years of 2005-2010) among developed. I looked up the statistics and saw the best being Singapore, which was 1.92 for the same period. Pretty insignificant difference and numbers which weren't thoroughly discussed. In addition, the film didn't mention once this rate in Canada, nor anywhere outside of the New York City, which actually bugged me. TV host Ricky Lake certainly emphasizes the greatness of midwives. I think this documentary became full of itself by the mind, which tarnished its effectiveness. By the way, the country with the worst infant mortality rate during the 2005-2010 period was Afghanistan, which 135 per thousand and that is big number.

Coal Miner's Daughter
½

Generally forgettable autobiography on country singer Loretta Lynn, portrayed by Sissy Spacek, displaying her rise to fame during the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's. Starts with Lynn being wooed by her future man/husband Mooney Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones), who eventually takes her away from her family, who disapprove of their relationship. He impregnates her at the age of 17 and one anniversary gives her a guitar, which apparently influences her musical interests. I tried to like this, but it was a real struggle. I found the accents annoying and the storyline to be pretty uninteresting, bereft of a great deal of entertainment. I think that there was important parts of her life unmentioned that should have been, such as Lynn becoming a grandmother at age 29! The scenes where Spacek performs Loretta Lynn's music are the best, but so infrequent and towards the end that they are underwhelming due to the insignificant presentation of the story. It's even more frustrating the fact that Spacek picked up an Oscar for her performance in this film, but her greatest performances are "The Straight Story" and "In The Bedroom" (and even "JFK" for that matter). Fairly dull movie!

Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut (A Man Escaped)
½

A young man (Francois Letterier), a member of the French Assistance, is uncovered by the Nazi's and sent to an isolated prison where others who are part of the same group are held. There he begins building relationships through walls with other prisoners, only brief with most as they are executed by the Germans, and tries to derive a plan to escape his nasty predicament. I had really high expectations for this film and it was not as good as I hoped for. It started off strong, but I just lost interest half through. It's not bad, but it's just not compelling enough for me to be fully satisfied. The ending was at least different from other prison movies.

Saturday Night Fever
½

20-year old Tony Manero (John Travolta) comes from a working class family in Brooklyn and often goes out with his friends to the club on Saturday night. His family disapproves of his generally crazy behaviour, as his intent is to drink and pick up girls at the club and have a one-night stand with her (to put in a civilized manner). However, one day he decides to venture into a dance studio and meets a more sophisticated woman (Karen Lynn Gorney) with whom he finds more appealing and wants to enter a dance contest with her...even if she is reluctant to be wooed by his slight charm. If you have seen the films made with soundtracks from 1980's, some may think this was just created for the disco music, but this film contains much, much more, thank goodness. This one is able to capture the mood and the grottiness of the Brooklyn, and Travolta performance is so fine. The dialogue is quite good too, and I love the small performance of Fran Drescher ("The Nanny" lead actress). A couple nice twists in the plot also contribute to pureness of this movie and it also reminds of the 1973 masterpiece "Mean Streets," but does not achieve that amount of greatness. However, very good movie!

Flashdance
Flashdance(1983)
½

Another absolutely stagnant 1980's feature containing a famous music soundtrack and it maybe the weakest of this type of movie in the decade. Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) works as a steal worker by day, an exotic dancer by night, and lives in an abandoned warehouse with her pitbull. She wants to be a professional dancer and during her quest to achieve her dream, she meets a man (Michael Douri) and they fall in love. Do I really need to go on? No! This film is totally hopeless. Absolutely nothing interesting or effective occurs in the story, and at times, I think it forgets it's a movie, with the prolonged scenes of people doing nothing as a rock track proceed to play in the background. Beals' performance is tripe and just not special. The only good thing: the title song, but sadly it is overshadowed by this dreadfully dull movie. Along with "Dirty Dancing" and "Footloose," it's another one of those stupid, pointless dramas that was made to support a record release in accordance with the movie. Was popular with audiences in the 1980's: here's a suggestion for current viewers in regards to this movie and the other two: DON'T WATCH THEM!

Footloose
Footloose(1984)
½

Family with nephew (Kevin Bacon) moves to town in some U.S. state (one problem already since this film is loosely based on events of such in Oklahoma, but it acts like it in a city in the interior of California and it was filmed in Utah so one knows where it us taken place). There, he gets involved with the minister's girl (Lori Singer), who is not what the minister father (John Lithgow) hoped for. Then dancing comes in high frequency and in such a way that would make famous deceased stairs known for their dancing (especially Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire) roll over in their graves. Seriously contrived, irritating, bimbofest with so many one-dimensional characters that will drive any filmgoer mad! Again, like "Dirty Dancing," pretty much released because of the soundtrack, but this soundtrack contains the movie title song which so, so annoying, plus other forgettable, mediocre recordings from the 1980's. Bacon, who has acted in many films, including the spectacular "Platoon" two years later, looks like he snorted pumpkin sized cocaine tablets up his nostrils before filming...and girls find that attractive. You'll want to dance your way out of watching this mess, and at the same, possibly step all over the DVD you watched it on.

Dirty Dancing

In this ridiculous outing taken place in the summer of 1963, a teenager (Jennifer Grey), who is a good girl for what it matters, accompanies her family to vacation along at a family friendly cabin resort or what it seems from the outside. There, she meets this dancer (Patrick Swayze) who introduces her to the process of dancing seductively (I guess) and his current dance partner (Cynthia Rhodes). Then, Swayze and Grey's characters begin to fall in love and they escalate a secret affair. Made mainly for the sake of the soundtrack and I suppose for girls, but really, this generally useless piece of celluloid delivers virtually nothing of interest. The acting and dialogue are pretty hopeless, while the soundtrack adds little effect (although there are some decent songs, even if they were released after 1963). Nothing special here, yet I have friends who truly love this film. I will respectfully disagree with them.

Roger & Me
Roger & Me(1989)

Director Roger Moore's take on his hometown of Flint, Michigan, which has gone a through a roller coaster of a time with its economy. Started off prosperous for the town with General Motors contributing to the economy, but it all went downhill when the major automaker pulled out. Interviews include some very notable residents, including Roger Smith, the CEO of GM, and Bob Eubanks, the former host of "The Newlywed Game Show." It is a pretty thorough look at the town that has suffered extensive hardship and lost a fair portion of its population. It is also pretty relevant today since all of Michigan has suffered from the auto industry meltdown from the 2008 recession, considering this movie was released in 1989. One grim note to this film: there is a scene where a local resident skins a rabbit. It is not necessary to show that appalling scene and it does sadly impact the movie in negative way.

On the Bowery

Seedy, interesting look at the lives of a group of lower class men who really have nothing going for them in New York City. Most of them drink profusely, smoke to no end, sleep on the street, are angry, and make everyone, including law enforcement, pity their behaviour. Very grubby movie, but without question, exemplifies its point. The documentary is pretty sad and it does get a little overboard after a while and goes somewhat astray in direction, but I found it worked and that is all that matters.

The Front
The Front(1976)
½

Okay comedy/drama for which a cashier named Howard Prince (Woody Allen) tries to break into showbiz. He finds a way through a television writer (Michael Murphy), who has been blacklisted from all networks, by replacing him in the writing division. There he pairs up with an idiotic comic (Zero Mostel) and their interests begin to clash. This film tries, but for me, it only has marginal success. It doesn't out like a competitor from the same year "Network" which dives much deeper and more effectively into corrupt television topics. This film is passable, but not great.

The Bride of Frankenstein
½

The sequel to the 1931 hit, it turns out Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) actually survived the fire that was thought by the townspeople to have killed him. He is now on a mission to cause even more destruction and despair among the townspeople. Oddly, the scientist who created the monster tries to lure Frankenstein back with a new gigantic female version of himself. However, Frankenstein has other love interests of his own in the human population. I would say this is an example of a haunting, fascinating, well filmed movie from the 1930`s, a decade that produced a few very effective horror films. Karloff is fine in the title role, though mainly is script only consists of "RARRRR!" Slightly blurry in terms of photography at time, but an iconic watch.

Amore
Amore(1948)

Two shorts within this 78 minute feature than exemplify the suffering of a peasant woman (Anna Magnani). Ranks among the same quality as director Roberto Rossellini's film "Stromboli": lots of misery, but not much else. I suppose the setting makes it more atmospheric in that is demonstrates a very poor Italy in the country side, but it becomes indulgent after a while. It is okay, but overall, it is not a complete success. A general disappointment from the director, unlike his great "Rome: Open City" from 1945.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

Interesting film noir for which a young Martha Ivers (Janis Wilson) attempts to run away with a boy before her controlling, rich aunt (Judith Anderson) intervenes. Instead, Ivers pushes her aunt down a flight of stairs in her mansion and she dies upon impact. As a result, Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) cannot shake the guilt of her aunts death and is courted now by a another man (Kirk Douglas in his screen debut), who also witnessed her aunt's death when he was child and convinces to forget about her death. However, her runaway boy (Van Heflin) returns, but he is wooed by a younger woman (Lizabeth Scott). Pretty compelling story that leads to a tragic and satisfying conclusion. I like many film noir mysteries and this one that had a sufficient amount of suspense attached to the atmosphere. Pretty nice.

Gates of Heaven
½

Sad documentary to which looks at the relationship between humans and their pets, and what happens to the humans when the pets pass away. Essentially there is not much else to say. The viewer looks at several different stories of normal people who have lost their pets, either as a result of old age or sudden/early passing due to disease or otherwise. As someone who is an animal lover like I am, it is a bit of heartbreaking story since I could not imagine what would happen if our family lost my dog (if even if it is kind of nuts). The film successfully exemplifies the heartache that follows when your beloved pet passes away. A very effective film! By the way, don't mistake this film as "Heaven's Gate," a completely different movie (and apparently a completely big disaster) from 1981, tackling another subject matter.

Anthony Adverse

Generally forgettable movie for which follows the adventures of the title character (Fredric March), who gets involved with many characters during both his childhood and as an adult. He hops from job to during a ten-year period and eventually fall in love a head cook's wife (Olivia de Havilland). Most people would regard this as one of the worst movies to be nominated for Best Picture. It is not very memorable, but it has nice costumes and peculiar characters that bring it along through its 139 minute running time. Other than that, however, not much else in the offering. Even Claude Rains is not that great. Again, I say it for this movie as well, mediocre at best.

Walkabout
Walkabout(1971)
½

A troubled father takes his two young children to the Australian outback and attempts to kill him. Instead he kills himself and sets his car on fire at the same time and the children escape with just the clothes on the back into the desert. There, they find a young Aboriginal and wander off with him, watching and following his extremely primitive behaviour in hunting and wandering the desert and sparse forests. Essentially, the children become self-sufficient thanks to their new friend. Lavishly filmed Australian feature that seems very natural and surrealistic. It sort of remind of the haunting "Picnic at Hanging Rock" released four years later, which also contained a mysterious and fascinating story like this. Australia released some very nice movies out of the 1970's and this is definitely one of them.

The Vanishing (Spoorloos)

Two separate storylines intertwine: the first is of a couple, in which the woman vanishes at a rest stop in France, which causes him to go on obsessive search to find out what happened to her. The other plot involves a respected man that is married with children, who is a serial killer and the kidnapper of the woman, and begins to stock the obsessive searcher. It does not end well for the searcher and nor for myself. I was pretty disappointed with this movie. It is so well praised and yet I lost interest 40 minutes in. I thought it was mediocre at best and I did not care for the characters or the story. If the 1993 American remake is considered poor, it must be extraordinarily bad, because this ain't no masterpiece either.

WarGames (War Games)

Strange little film for which a young teenager, David Lightman (Matthew Broderick), and his friend, Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy), hack into a computer system of US Air Force to change their report cards. In addition, David starts to use a source for playing games. This, as a result, leads to humongous complications when somehow they send threatening messages to the USSR, which nearly launches a nuclear war between them and the USA. Not likely to happen, unless there were more Sheldon Cooper's from "The Big Bang Theory" within our society, but still a pretty entertaining movie to say the least. Broderick and Mack are quite fine together as the rest of the cast. Gets a little slow by the end, however, but otherwise worth the watch.

Wilson
Wilson(1944)
½

Sincere, yet simple and dated biographical feature on U.S. president Woodrow Wilson (Alexander Knox), who works his way from professor at Princeton in 1909 to president in 1913. The film shows his political triumphs and tragedies, including the death of his wife Ellen Axson. It tries it's hardest to be a compelling biography on the legendary leader, including acknowledging his Fourteen Points Policy on World War I, but it has just has not aged well. Most of the film is sadly not that memorable, except the lavish colour and set designs. Knox's performance is not bad, but was not worth an Oscar nomination. Considering this film won four Academy Awards, it was box office failure and is unknown to film critics today. Has not stood the test of time.

I Want to Live!

Generally interesting movie which chronicles the real life story of Barbara Graham (Susan Hayward), a crooked woman who clearly gets involved with the wrong crowd. She ends ups marrying a man and having child, but that relationship falls apart due to the man's substance abuse and Graham gets involved with a group a vicious criminals. Unfortunately, Graham life gets worse when she becomes accused, along with the group of men, of a rich widow's murder, Mabel Monahan. It's a good performance by Wayward and a pretty compelling film, but comparing it to the likes "Vertigo" which includes an extraordinary performance by Kim Novak, it is not worth her Oscar. However, it is recommendable because give a well delivered account on Graham's miserable life. It also better than a lot of other Oscar winning performances by females during the years.

Blossoms in the Dust
½

Unbelievable drama conceptually follows the life of Edna Gladney (Greer Garson) who wants to give orphan children a name after the are put up by their parents. This inspiration originates from a younger friend (Marsha Hunt) who killed herself years before after she was adopted and the death of her young son from her doctor husband (Walter Pigeon). She then tries to get this issue overturned by the state of Texas. It fails to connect to the viewer as the film is contrived and unrealistic, and the acting is forgettable. Oddly enough, what deters the film further is the fact that it is in colour. It does not utilize the lesser used filming strategy for its time to its advantage (like other movies of the time like "Gone With the Wind" or "The Wizard of Oz") and it becomes a damaging aspect for the film, rather than a benefit. Sadly, this movie fails and has been forgotten for all the right reasons.

Peyton Place
Peyton Place(1957)
½

A pretty hideous mess, based on the allegedly very steamy novel of the same name from the year before its release, of the issues surrounding the citizens of a small town in New England. One plot concerns a young woman and her disgusting stepfather, another revolves around a daughter and her relationship with her mother (Lana Turner), while another plot attempts to describe a brewing romance. My review is incomplete. So is every plotline in this movie. Performances that are good (although most are artificial) are overshadowed by every single forgettable, rambling story surrounding the characters. Virtually nothing is memorable and it is most forgettable. For me, this film works more as a miniseries, and interesting, it was made into one in the early 1960's. There was just too much to handle for the directors, screenwriters, actors, actresses, and everyone else involved in this project. What a shame!

A Prophet (Un prophete)
½

Violent, compelling look at a French Arab man (Tahar Rahim) who ends up in prison as a result of his criminal mischief (reason for incarceration not disclosed in the movie). There, he begins to befriend what any normal human being would call the wrong crowd and starts to build a connection empire. He begins to befriend both French and Corcican, along with other Arab, prisoners and ultimately becoming the exchange for narcotics. With that, he begins to disobey his connections generally one at time, which leads to gun battles and violent beatings and of course, death. He even gets out of prison to conduct his cruel trading regime, which only lands him back into his cell. Very intriguing movie that is both believable and an ugly in equal doses, all the more reason why it is smart not to do criminal things (although there are many other movies that pretty much establish that kind of message). The film production is very strong in that it captures the grim atmosphere that these people operate in, inside and outside of incarceration. Quite long, but well-made drama.

Adaptation
Adaptation(2002)
½

Two storylines seem to begin at different points of time. The first begins on the set of "Being John Malkovich" for which twins Charlie and Donald Kaufman (both played by Nicolas Cage, to whom I originally thought was schizophrenic and talking to himself) want to work their way up in the movie industry (Cage was not in the film "Being John Malkovich by the way). Charlie, the in-content twin, is assigned with a script related to a film called "The Orchid Thief" (has been made into a film by the way), but lacks the inspiration to complete it. The other story focuses on a novel writer (Meryl Streep), who becomes intensely fascinated by an orchid thief (Chris Cooper), who has serious personal problems (not to mention his addiction to larceny). Charlie then stumbles onto the novel writer's book and wants to meet her, in order to become inspired for his play. Takes a little while to get used to, but the film works, as the characters are deep, thoughtful, and compelling. Has a surprisingly violent and tragic ending that leaves all the characters permanently damaged. The performances by Cage, Streep, and Cooper are highly memorable. Not as good (or random) as "Being John Malkovich," but still very good nonetheless.

Highlander
Highlander(1986)

In the present day (as in the 1980's), a man (Christopher Lambert) murders a swordsman in a parking garage and is sought out by the police as a result of the sudden, random, violent murder. That, by the way, was in New York City. Then, back in the 1600's in Scotland (!), another young man, replicating the image of the present day man, learns how to fight through the teachings of an incredibly ugly mentor (Sean Connery). It seems that both realms collide, despite the fact that geographically they are separated by the Atlantic Ocean. This movie has for whatever reason attracted a cult following. If you want to see some great stuff associated with sword fighting, and for that matter special effects, watch the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. This film sucks! The acting is insipid, weak, idiotic, and annoying. Perhaps to be atmospheric, it was filmed in semi-darkness, but that makes watching the movie a greater ordeal. Script is so bad, it yields some unintentional laughs. Sean Connery should be embarrassed for himself in being associated with this movie (he is so ugly, although apparently, the awfulness here does not compare to "Highlander 2: The Quickening" but I can't judge that sequel since I have never seen the movie). Just terrible!

Tokyo-Ga
Tokyo-Ga(2003)
½

Generally dull documentary where famed German director Werner Herzog follows the path of classic director Yosujiro Ozu in Japan (where else?). Through this, he tries to feel the emotions of the famed director when he produced his films up until his death in 1963. He does this associating the with cast members of his famed movies, including "The End of Summer" from 1961. Not particularly involving story and kind of strange to boot. I feel that it just doesn't work, even though he does associate with the various cast members that made them all classics.

Last Train Home
½

Surprisingly good documentary of a family in China in which the parents have the left daughter with the grandparents to pursue work in the city. They take the overcrowded train from a rural, desolate area of the country to Guangzhou, China. The daughter works on the family plantation, although grows weary of this and pursues work as well in the city. This does not impress her family and the relationship between her and her loved ones becomes very strained. What a unique film. I had never known that 100,000 million people travelled by train to get to the city to work and for that matter, only travelled back once a year to Chinese New Year (as indicated in the movie, when the system has mechanical issues, it becomes total chaos). Very well-made and compelling!

You Can Count On Me

Siblings Sammy and Terry Prescott (Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney, respectively) are leading completely different lives, yet are scarred due to the untimely death of their parents' years before. Terry works in a financial institution under a newly appointed boss (Matthew Broderick), for which she doesn't seem to like for some reason; and at the same time, she is also raising a young son. One day, her emotionally disturbed brother, Sammy, shows up as a recovering drug addict at her door and makes her seemingly balanced life in content. It gets more complicated when Terry begins to sleep with her boss. Well-praised comedy and drama did very little for me. Starts out pretty good but degenerates into mediocrity, mainly thanks to the story and the acting, especially that of annoying Ruffalo. I'm pretty disappointed with this one, as I expected this to be a good film from 2000 (I am finding that year to not have very many good movies).

Fight Club
Fight Club(1999)

In the disturbed world of a man (Edward Norton, only credited as the narrator), an insurance firm worker I believe, he gets depressed and wants to try something wild and fresh. He starts doing this going to support groups for deadly or debilitating diseases, of which he has neither, and meets another faker (Helena Bodham Carter). They begin to loath each other after a short while and he eventually abandons this current venture...and then he meets Tyler Durban (Brad Pitt). He becomes obsessed and fascinated by him through his attitude, his crudity, and his evilness, and moves in with him in an abandoned, unsanitary house. Essentially, this is where they begin their legendary fighting club, although it begins to evolve into much more sinister organization than that. Super acid black comedy, possibly too long, but absolutely brilliant in presentation and everything else. Film begins to ravel into something big each and every moment into the alarming, intense and surprising conclusion (even the foreshadowing at the beginning does not predict what is upcoming). Norton and Carter are truly mesmerizing, delivering performances of a life times. Some may find this film lengthy violent; others will be blown away by its message and entertainment. I certainly was and it is an excellent movie.

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara

An extraordinary, informative, very risky detail of the life and career of Robert McNamara, who was Secretary of Defence for several U.S. presidents (JFK, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Nixon) during the 1960's. Starts by telling of his early days, how he enlisted to serve during World War II, describing the shocking supply chain of transporting the contents of the atomic bomb from India to China, then dropping it on Japan. Then he goes on to describe the bloodshed and destruction of many parts of the major cities outside of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki (yes that includes Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, presently the three largest cities of the nation). He describes the horrors of the Vietnam War and his belief is that the U.S. involvement was not needed in the conflict and that they likely made the situation transcendently worse (especially from the evidence that he brought up). It is an eye opening documentary, of superb detail and very simple interviewing (essentially the cameraman is asking questions and he is answering them). McNamara was the longest serving Secretary of Deference (1961 to 1968 in which he resigned) and this movie should be considered one of his greatest accomplishments. An absolutely great film!

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)
½

Very riveting movie in which Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is a steroid induced, magnet of blood-dripping injuries wrestler who partakes in this show, along with his violent colleagues, that involves brutal fighting and deranged side acts. He is a man that lacks social skills, without a doubt, and brains, as he awkwardly balances his brutal lifestyle with that of his outside life, which includes working in a grocery store as well as trying to re-connect with his estranged daughter (Even Rachael Wood) who despises him. The Ram is also closely associated with a stripper (Marisa Tomei) at a local nightclub, to whom he almost gets romantically involved with. His lifestyle, however, begins to crash down when he suffers a mild heart attack which puts his wrestling career on potentially permanent hold. Rourke, Tomei, and Wood are the stars of this and they all give very creditable, unforgettable performances. The method of filming is really intriguing in that it successfully makes the fighting scenes look real (almost as one was watching a WWF fight). This is a really fine film, most likely one of the best movies of 2008. A must-see entertainment!

In the Shadow of the Moon

Compelling chronicle on the processes leading up to the events of the first man on the moon. The film discusses the attempts to shuttle people up into space (although that was after the rockets were tested and a number of them failed to even lift off, thankfully not resulting in fatalities) during the late 1960's and early 1970's, which included several moon landings. Those telling their stories of being sent to the moon include Al Bean, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and about five other crew members. I think that is a well-made documentary on the space age and landing on the orbiting body that circles the Earth, although I am sort hyped up on the suspicions that the moonwalking was real. I have some hesitation on the situation and I found it really fascinating how at the end, the astronauts made it clear that all the conspiracies are false (at least they had the bravery to face the issue). It is certainly Americana, but it always nice to watch movies that have to do with outer space, at least that's how I see it.

My Winnipeg
My Winnipeg(2007)

Strange though different documentary of the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba's capital, narrated by the director, Guy Maddin, who is startling dysfunctional. Oddly enough, the recollection of his life is portrayed by another actor named Darcy Fehr, while the actress who portrays his nutcase mother is Ann Savage (the other film I saw in was "Detour" from 1945!). There are many images that are shown throughout the movie that show a city that show minor catastrophes of Winnipeg, including a horse tragedy; the closure of an arena; and many bone chilling winters that leave the city barren of any normal function. It also shows the troubled childhood of Maddin, through the strictness of his parents; his father's untimely death; and disturbing situations that I will let the viewer find out (they are sick events that occur). Though the film is kind of disorganized, it has significant creditability is in its bizarre display footage and peculiar story.

Microcosmos
Microcosmos(1996)

Documentary that shows in mesmerizing magnification insects in the hills of what I believe is in the United Kingdom. Many bugs are outlined in the various weather patterns that pass by including a torrential down poor, which allows the mosquitoes to sadly hatch (everyone hates these insects). Very little narration and nothing in terms of plot or story, but mainly footage that shows the day and life of many types of bugs, such as ladybugs, bees, dragonflies, water-bugs, aphids, and ants. They may be gross and disgusting to many, but quite a few of them are cool to me. The colours realized from this film are a gem. Though, I find it strange that the credits are French yet the narration is in English (and surprisingly by Kristin Scott Thomas who was in "The English Patient" that same year).

After Hours
After Hours(1985)
½

Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) is a word processor who meets a woman (Rosanna Arquette) at a bar, who says that he has a special type of paperweight at her apartment. She leaves him her number and ends up going to the apartment, and from there on, the strenuous, long lasting night gets incredibly weird. Of the characters that Hackette meets, this includes a sculptor (Linda Fiorentino), thieves (Cheech and Chong), two crazy females who plot revenge against him for no apparent reason against him (Catherino O'Hare and Terri Garr), and a nutty bartender (John Heard). Mixing from plaster to ice-cream trucks, this is one Scorsese's strangest movies. He certainly liked his black comedies during the 1980's, as shown in "The King of Comedy," and although this one doesn't have the same greatness as that movie does, it is still highly interesting. Dunne's straight man performance is really well played, as is all the supporting cast. Bizarre on all levels which makes for a peculiar experience.

Sita Sings the Blues

Unique animated feature that describes three parallel stories. The first two stories are of an Indian princess who is kidnapped by villains and held at ransom until her man finds her, only to reject her when he concludes that she had an affair with her captor (even though she didn't!). Both stories differ in the fact that one is narrated by several characters in present day, while the other is narrated through songs, with the princess singing songs by Annette Hanshaw (who passed away in 1985, many years before the movie was even made). The other story is of an American who relocates to India for work, leaving his woman behind in the U.S.A. When she travels to India, she receives little intimacy and later departs unsatisfied. Typical stories are given life thanks to the eye popping imagery and cartoons, which are wonderful to watch. The songs are also nice too and we know when they end... "that's all!"

Oslo, August 31st
½

MAJOR NOTE: this film has no relation to the tragic situation that unfolded in July 2011 that left 77 people dead, including many children. I wanted to clear that up as this situation did occur when this film was in production and released within a year after that event took place. Rather, this is a meticulous study of a young man (Anders Danielson Lie, coincidentally having the same of the assailant in the same situation) who is a recovering drug addict. After he is released from his rehab centre, he begins to discuss his situation with his friends and family...and sadly drifts down the original path for which severely altered his life and only this time he doesn't turn back. Very brutal film that concludes on the day of title and compellingly well-acted by Lie. Film works better as a result of being in a documentary like format and it also shows that narcotics are sadly found in all other parts of the world, even ones that generally peaceful.

Late Spring
Late Spring(1949)
½

Very observant study of young woman who begins a relationship, while her father is on his second marriage after her mother/his wife passed away years before. She enjoys her happiness of being with a vibrant companion; except for one thing...she does not want her father to be left alone. Her father even urges her to leave home as he is deeply involved in his new relationship, although he still secretly wishes his daughter stays home. The drama works really well as this is situation that is typical of many households. Children still feel attached to their parents, whether they are single or married or onto another relationship, and do not want to leave them alone when they leave. This film examines that subject well, even if it is a little too slow paced at times. Very well acted by all cast members and another nicely filmed and directed movie by Yosujiro Ozu.

The Earrings of Madame De... (Madame de...)
½

Visually splendid chronicle of a wealthy, extravagant socialite (Danielle Darrieux) who is married to a well-known general (Charley Boyer), who is has bought her so many valuables, that has led to him being embraced in debt. As a result, she begins to look to other men for new gifts and affection, especially that of an Italian baron (Vittorio de Sica(!)), who begins to swoon her with jewelry. Now, the two men begin to compete for one another, which eventually lead to a heartbreaking conclusion. Quiet memorable due to the beautifully filmed photography, set pieces, and the stage presence of Darrieux and Boyer. Shocking to see de Sica in an acting role, especially a French film for that matter. Overall, a generally well-made movie!

Croupier
Croupier(2000)

Fairly different drama that observes the life of a croupier (Clive Owen), who often works odd hours at casino, while balancing a relationship with his woman (Gina McKee) and his job. However, his profession (along with his love life with his woman) gets sticky when he starts to have flings with other females, including a supervisor (Kate Hardie) and a mature South-African woman (Alex Kingston). In addition, he begins to see the laundering industry come into play with the gambling industry, and some of those players involved are pretty vicious. Clive Owen is the main player here and he is the best thing within the movie, although McKee, Hardie, and Kingston supporting are also quite good. For me, though, there is really not much of a plot, as their some disjointedness in the storyline, but more of a character study, and the payoff surprisingly works. Also, the irony of the film is quite memorable, as the term "croupier" comes from the French for gambler and Owen claims he is not a gambler (although he does take a job in a casino that leads to his risking his own life so essentially he is mistaken about that).

Election
Election(1999)

In the election time at an Omaha high school and an overachieving, generally unpleasant and thorough intelligent senior Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is running for school president for her final year. This is under the grudging allowance of one of her teachers, Mr. Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), since she had an affair with another staff member (Mark Harelik), who had since been terminated due to his actions (and also divorced from his wife). In addition, she gains new competition, of which consists of two siblings: Paul Metzler (Chris Klein), a very nice and popular athlete and his sister Tammy (Jessica Campbell), a lesbian outcast. As a result, the election gets weird and generally dramatic, with amusing consequences for the viewer. Pretty funny movie, that stands out well compared to the many other films that attempt to actually be funny. Well-acted and memorable and also pretty crude, but in a good sort of way! Interestingly, to me, the poster for this film shows an actress doesn't really look like Witherspoon (it looks more like someone else, possibly Drew Barrymore).

The Straight Story

Captivating, disheartening tale in which an old man, Alvin Straight, (Richard Farnworth), is discovered to have an increasing number of health issues as he tries to run his Iowa farm. In addition, his mentally handicapped daughter Rose (Sissy Spacek) lives with him. One day, they receive a letter saying that Alvin's brother (Harry Dean Stanton) has had a stroke. So, with all his health problem still abundant and against the word of both his doctor and daughter, Alvin heads from Iowa to Wisconsin with a tractor (for which the first breakdown so he has to immediately buy a second one) and a huge trailer of personal belongings. As he travels to his destination, he meets a number of friendly strangers who help him along his way, either by aiding his huge mass transport or by telling tales of their past. Beautifully composed movie, with stirring performances by Farnworth and Spacek. In fact, Spacek's performance is so accurately portrayed that it is shameful that she was not nominated for this fine act. There is such a natural feeling that overcomes this film, rendering it completely unforgettable. The final scene is highly emotionally riveting. This is perhaps the best movie David Lynch ever directed.

Being John Malkovich

Superbly random movie in which a doomed-to-fail puppeteer, Craig Schwartz (John Cusack), gets a job at a firm with an extremely narrow floor and meets the beautiful Maxine Lund (Catherine Keener), his supervisor. His wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz) is a psychotic pet store owner who has a dog, a chimp, and a cockatoo living in their apartment. At the firm, he finds a strange portal, surprisingly enters without consideration, and ends up inside...John Malkovich's brain! After ten minutes, he materializes out of the sky adjacent to an oil refinery and goes back to the portal, brings his wife, supervisor, and a whole mess of others into this strange relm, providing a new revenue source for his firm. In addition, a strange love triangle ensures, in both Craig and Lotte fall in love with Maxine and manipulate their romance through the mind of Malkovich. Hilariously original, priceless movie has to rank as one of the best comedies from the 1990's...and it's from 1999! Wonderful performances, script and everything else melds into one great movie. The cameo of Charlie Sheen is a riot (so similar to his character on "Two-and-a-Half-Men." An absolute must-see!

The Big Clock

George Straud (Ray Milland) is a writer for a tabloid magazine company who cannot any time with his family, particularly his wife (Maureen O'Sullivan) who are supposed to go on a honeymoon together. He begins to become close with the bosses' mistress (Pauline York), although in a plutonic manner, and they begin to complain about the him (Charles Laughton). Then, after George has left for the night, the mistress initiates an argument with the boss and in a rage the boss murders her with a statuette. Then he decides to pin the killing on George, who had left a souvenir near the murder the scene. Generally satisfying thriller that acknowledges both the pressures of the tabloids and as well contains an interesting story. Laughton and Milland both shine in their performances and the constant fascination of the clock that towers the building is quite unique.

Werckmeister Harmonies
½

In an extremely remote town in the desolate plains of Hungary, a young man (Lars Rudoph) fantasizes about a weird phenomenon that is about to descend onto his town. He spreads the strange enthusiasm around his workplace and home, only to be rejected by everyone for his thoughts. Then, a trailer with torso of a whale shows up, and flocks of men surround the trailer, expecting some sort of show to accompany the bizarre exhibit. They, along with the town, got more than they bargained for. This film certainly portrays the Hungarians as poor, lonely, hostile, and pitiful people and sadly they are right. Seeing as a I am half Hungarian and have been to the nation, it seems fairly potent to me as the nation's citizens severly lack significant social etiquette (not to say that I don't either but this nation seems significantly anti-social compared to the other I have been to). Disturbing, haunting, and interesting chronicle, very nicely filmed in black and white to add grand effect!

Mulholland Drive
½

Incredibly convoluted drama in which several lives are examined in the grungy Hollywood. A woman (Laura Harring) who is nearly murdered by several thugs in her luxurious vehicle until gets involved in a head-on crash in the hills. She stumbles away as her near-assailants either are killed or injured (not that clear) in the wreck and she loses all memory, including the knowledge of her own name. She meets an aspiring actress (Naomi Watts) who tries to help her find her origination, which leads them down a strange and dark path. The other story concerns a director's life (Justin Theroux) who is blackmailed into accepting the application of unknown actress or facing the alternative of getting into deep trouble. Another small plotline also concerns a hit man (Mark Pellegrino), the one behind the near killing of the amnesiac woman, who commits three acts of murder, which includes two innocent bystanders, and then just disappears. Such a weird story warrants a definite viewing from all viewers who like strange mysteries with REALLY disjointed narrations. Well-acted and includes a pretty memorable lesbian love scene. A little too hard to follow at times, but is never boring and is always interesting.

Paris, Texas
Paris, Texas(1984)
½

A man, Walt (Harry Dean Stanton), is seen wandering the prairie outside of a small town in Texas. His brother, Travis (Dean Stockwell), who is searching for Walt, spots him and takes him, who is mute and obviously damaged by something, to a nearby hotel to try get some sort of information out of him. The next day, as they drive to California, Walt begins to talk, but not a sufficient amount to indicate what happened to him or his woman (Nastassja Kinski), who is the father of his child (Hunter Carson), being cared for by Travis and his French wife Anne (Aurore Clement). There, Walt begins to bond with his son, although remaining somewhat distant at times, but eventually allowing him to accompany him back to Texas to find the mother/his woman. Very slow moving drama hits the mark, thanks to its ability to generate evocation of curiosity from start to finish. The photography is quite fine, as is the acting and the conclusion to the long story. It definitely is an off-beat movie, yet it does work quite well.

Melvin and Howard
½

One of Jonathan Demme's earliest works is splendid, with milk man Melvin (Paul le Mat) driving one night and picks up a very grubby individual, who happens to be Howard Hughes (Jason Robards). They have an in depth conversation as he drives him to Las Vegas, which includes singing "Bye Black Bird." After that, Melvin never sees him again. As the story progresses, Melvin's wife (Mary Steenburgen) leaves him, becomes a stripper, remarries him, and wins a talent contest which includes several nice prices. Melvin wants to utilize the money and that enrages his wife, and he leaves him again! He quits his job as milk man and moves to Utah. Then he receives the astonishing news: Hughes has passed away and named him a beneficiary in his will for $156 million dollars. Memorable story, characters, songs, and photography make this unfortunately underrated work one of better films of 1980. Wonderful conclusion as it shows that the down-on-his-luck guy can win against a higher authority.

The Sixth Sense
½

Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) and his wife (Olivia Williams) are enjoying a night of a romance, until a deranged, mentally disturbed intruder (Donnie Walberg), formally Malcolm's patient, enters their house. He shoots Malcolm in the groin and then puts the gun on himself. The screen turns black. The story than shifts to a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who sees people who are deceased any day of his life (bluntly he says "I see dead people!"). Malcolm becomes his assistor in order for him to deal with his psychological troubles. Compelling, disturbing drama, part horror I suppose as well, that is gripping throughout. Willis gives likely one of the best performances of his careers, with the rest of the cast, including Toni Collette, the young boy's mother, providing fine support. The film comes with a legendary twist ending that will have you thinking for days. Very nice movie.

Erin Brockovich

Looks like Oscar screwed it up again! Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) is a thoroughly unpleasant divorcee with two kids who gets into a car accident and loses a case, along with her representing lawyer Ed (Albert Finney). She is now broke and is looking for work, and ends working for the firm that represented her and Ed is her new boss. Erin then gets her hand on a waterworks file in which 100's, possibly thousands of people, were poisoned by a well (probably aquifer, but that word is too big for the script writers). This is film crap! Roberts' breasts are what netted her the Oscar and to understand how people could find her attractive (apparently her character won a beauty contest!) is a mystery that could net another movie in itself. She's is not attractive! Roberts is miscast in the role and is too crude to be accepted, using any type of word she wants too in front of anyone. She has no restraint in a professional setting and single-handedly ruins the entire movie. There is nothing interesting about her acting capabilities in this film, including that ugly, cocky smirk she consistently possesses, and from what I have heard any other film that she is in for that matter. The Academy Awards without question has given Best Actress to a lot of wrong recipients, but Roberts may be the candidate for the worst one. This film sucked!

Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump(1994)
½

Famed title character (Tom Hanks) sits on a bench, awaiting for a bus and tells a woman (and others who sit beside him) his life story up until that day. The man with an IQ of only 75 starts at being brought to his day of his by his mother (Sally Field) and his meeting with Jenny (Hanna R. Hall than Robin Wright), the woman he can't stop thinking about. Then they go their certain ways. He, astonishingly, ends up a good runner, than on a football team in college, than graduating college, than the army, than the Vietnam War, than a ping-pong championship, than a shrimp business and then several other events occur. During his eventful life, he ends up meeting Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, as well John Lennon, and mentions how two of these famed individual untimely dooms.

It is the second last Best Picture winner I have seen (I yet to see the recently crowned "Argo") and the second year in a row Hanks took home Best Actor, and all my friends love this film. I didn't! I thought it was ludicrous, made my face cringe, and contained dialogue that was so unsophisticated and simple that a one months old would be able to comprehend this film. Seeing Hanks photo shopped into photos and clips with those famous celebrities and events, including the introduction of the black girls into segregated schools of Alabama, is inane. For a man of a 75 IQ to tell an extraordinary tale like that is ludicrous, especially with the limited vocabulary. There are so many questions that also remain, like, what was his major in college or how did he even get into college academically or how did his father die? A good film covers those questions with answers of any sort of way. I do not, will not get this movie, nor its legacy. I have no desire to recommend or watch this movie again. There are MANY better movies from that year of 1994, as well from 1990's, as well as of all years. Just ridiculous this overrated film is! Ugh!

Philadelphia
Philadelphia(1993)
½

Very compelling, involved drama for which a homosexual lawyer (Tom Hanks) works his way up to becoming a senior partner of a prestigious law firm in Philadelphia. Sadly, although prior medical tests find nothing, purple gashes begin to appear all over his face and torso, in which he has to go to the doctor and call in several days sick to his upgraded position. Unfortunately, an important file he is working on goes missing and his absent (and possible disorganization) causes him to endure instant termination right at the same time he diagnosed with AIDS. He believes that someone knew of his diagnosis and he builds a case, along with a competing lawyer (Denzel Washington), against his firm, even though his health deteriorates severely. Hanks and Washington shine in fine performances through this slow, though rewarding film. Quite sad and tragic and definitely doesn't get pretentious in displaying the equality between homosexual and heterosexuals (no over indulgence in physical affection between characters that is). The supporting cast, including Mary Steenburgen and Jason Robards, are quite good. Perhaps a little more in-depth with character background would have added to this film, but the story is very good otherwise. The first of two years in a row where Tom Hanks took home a leading actor Oscar.

My Favorite Year
½

A studio that struggles to maintain a successful variety show wants to recruit an actor, Alan Swann (Peter O'Toole). This actor is irresponsible, heavily attracted to alcohol and loves hanging with the ladies. He also takes after the late Errol Flynn. One of the crew members (Mark-Linn Baker) attempts at all costs to lure him into the show. With another astonishingly high rating on RT attached to a Peter O'Toole film, I have to disagree with other critics AGAIN because I thought this film sucks! I found the comedy fairly non-existent and the movie to be quite boring. O'Toole seems to have established a generally empty, over dramatic performance during the 1980's which has worn out thin with me. Not a very good film what-so-ever. Incidentally, 1954 is the year the title is referring to and in terms of movies, this is a great year ("Rear Window," "The Seven Samurai," "Sansho the Bailiff," etc.).

The Stunt Man

Extremely overblown and pretentious spectacle in which a criminal (Steve Railsback) is on the run from the law and gets mixed up in a movie set. He is recruited by the overly demanding and bizarre director (Peter O'Toole) to be a stunt performing during the dangerous scenes of apparently a war film. In addition, he falls for an actress on set (Barbara Hershey). Starts interesting, degrades itself into very negative territory thanks to constant intercutting between scenes and overall showiness of what people can do behind the camera. Performances are just annoying, stemming from O'Toole irritating over-the-top crude director performance to Railsback extreme attempts at acting (I understand why I have never heard of this actor up until this movie). The dialogue is just awful and the nice set pieces are drowned in an overlong storyline, which has an ending that lasts an eternity. It has a very high rating on Rotten Tomatoes and O'Toole was nominated for Best Actor (thank goodness Robert de Niro won for "Raging Bull" in 1980). Not sure why because it sucks! One of the sole negative reviews is from Roger Ebert and he is right.

Breaking the Waves
½

Eerie story in which a young woman named Bess (Emily Watson) is consumed by religion and will engage in inhumane acts to satisfy her elders in her small coastal town. This is includes her husband Jan (Stellan Skarsgard), who virtually controls her through compassion and abuse (mainly mental). One day, Jan gets severely injured on an oil rig off the coast and he is left bed ridden in his hospital where he believes his death is near, and demands that Bess find another man right away. She goes out in search in her demented, disturbed way, only to get into very deep trouble. What is frightening about this movie is that there are situations like this around the world in which the process of religion is severely abused and interpretations get way out of hand. It is prophetic and it is just another powerful view on how the process of religion can get out hand. Watson and Skarsgard's performance are fine and unforgettable (Watson should have been the winner of her Academy Award nomination). Quite long and the filming process is a way to bumpy (camera is too shaky at times), but very compelling.

Lorenzo's Oil

One day, Lorenzo Odone (Zack O'Malley Greenburg) causes trouble in school and his parents (Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte) are quite surprised because he is usually a well-behaved kid. Unfortunately, his acts of behaviour further deteriorates and most believe that this is mental problem, but the persistence of Mr. and Mrs. Odone find further discovery. He has adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a genetic brain disorder that ends in death within a few years of diagnosis. Now the parents are on a quest to find the remedy for this horrendous diagnosis. Based on a true story of Lorenzo Odone, who past away in 2008 at the age of 30, this film chronicles the situation fairly well. The story is interesting and the performances are generally good...except one! Nick Nolte as the Italian father is weak and the pitfall for the film from being great. He is miscast and it should have been another actor portraying Mr. Odone. Otherwise, it makes for good food-for-thought entertainment.

Thelma & Louise

The title gals (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) head on a road trip in Arkansas, both of whom want to get away from the men of their life. Their plans, however, significantly change when they murder a man who tries to rape Thelma after she picks him up at a bar. Now, they are on the run and intend to escape the authorities by travelling to Mexico, but not via Texas. Entertaining road trip movie that is both amusing and entertaining. Brad Pitt's small performance of as thief J.D. is memorable, and Harvey Kietel's sympathetic performance as an FBI agent shows that he is an understated actor. One small problem I had with this film is when it took place, because I initially thought it was way before the 1990's at times, but it was definitely taking place in present times. The ending is also a bit disappointing (and memorable in the way a "Simpsons" episode taunted it in 1994, but otherwise, the exuberance and fun of this picture towers all faults.

Face to Face (Ansikte mot Ansikte)

A doctor, Jenny Isaksson (Liv Ullman), works at a mental hospital, whose parents are deceased and still has a living set of grandparents for which she is very close with. Her husband (Erland Josephson) is also a doctor that caters to the mentally ill and as a couple and doctors, they seem content at first. Then, her job begins to create grief for her and she starts to both gradually and explosively breakdown. Her past, along with the death of her parents and return of past patients, come back to haunt her. Obviously a topic for a film that Bergmann had returned to over and over again, but yet it is so watchable and interesting, especially thanks to Ullman. Bizarre, complex, and always watchable, although it is pretty repetitive in terms of line of interests for Bergman.

The Naked City
½

Decent film noir in which a woman is brutally attacked and murdered in New York City, a population of 8 million back then (not it metropolitan population is 22 million). It is now up Lt. Dan Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald) to unravel the spider web story surrounding the victim's death and track down her malicious killer(s). Fitzgerald is the only shining light (and only cast member that I am familiar with) of this movie, thanks to his quirky, memorable performance. Unfortunately, it just doesn't stand out as a fine mystery film. The storyline and all the players are not that great, and the two parts of the film that are memorable is the beginning and the end. The rest is insignificant and the narration is not needed. A bit of a letdown!

Three Coins in the Fountain
½

Three coins, pennies assumedly, were likely used to fund the script and cast members of this enormously dull soaper. A young secretary (Maggie McNamara) heads to Rome, Italy to replace another secretary (Jean Peters) who allegedly is going back to the United States to get married. She meets a man (Rossano Brazzi) that screws everything up. Then there's Dorothy McGuire, Clifton Webb and Louis Jordon that are all part of the forgettable supporting mix. There is no chemistry among the cast members, nor any passion or soul to contribute to the film. Nothing is going on here. I have still have yet to see a good movie with McGuire as she has now entered my least preferred actress books. This film is a prime example of highway robbery, as it was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture (!) of 1954 and was a box office success. People back then deserve better entertainment than this.

It's portrayal of Italy is so Hollywoodized. "La Strada," an ITALIAN movie directed by Federico Felini, was released that same year and portrays Italy in a much more natural, more beautiful way than this limpness. "La Strada" is also a great movie in terms of acting and entertainment, one of the best of 1954. This isn't and look at all the nominations it received! Interestingly, this film is part of a group mediocre releases from the 1950's that shares it name with a classic or great song (the other embarrassments are "Love Is a Many Splendored Things" from 1955 and "A Summer Place" from 1959). The one redeeming feature is Frank Sinatra's take on the title tune. Just depressing this movie is and it ranks among the Best Picture nominees "embarrassment" list.

The Informer
The Informer(1935)

Mainly dated movie in which a large thug (Victor McLaghen) rules the streets of an Irish city. He often beats up those who get in his way, and a few are innocent and don't even provoke him. The police are constantly on his tail to try and try to catch him in a dangerous act as he gladly declares himself of the leader on the streets. McLaghen Oscar winning performance is not enough to bring this one up to worthiness of watching. His performance does not compare to the two nominated ones in "Mutiny on the Bounty" released the same year, of which were Charles Laughton and Clark Gable. The film is also way too predictable as any viewer would be able to guess what happens at the end. What a disappointment, but it actually captures the atmosphere in a satisfying manner.

Broadcast News
½

Reporter Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) works at a bustling news agency is often paired with her co-worker Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks). He has a crush on her, but is afraid to express his feelings in that matter. One day, however, his dreams of making with her crash when a phony new reporter (William Hurt) is hired onto the team. Interesting start by showing the days of childhood each of three characters and also good to see the set pieces in the news studio. However, a major problem that diminishes quality of this film is sentimentalism. It becomes so overwhelmingly sappy through the mid-point that it can barely recover. In addition, I didn't mind Brooks or Hurts' performances, but Hunter's got quite irritating after a while and contributed to being a flaw of the movie. What a shame that is film is not as good as it should be. Note: even though Jack Nicholson is billed as a major player of this movie, his contribution is unfortunately minimal.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
½

As an accounting graduate from university, I have not stopped hearing about the Enron scandal of the late 1990's and early 2000's. As also an individual of integrity, I had not even imagined how disgusted I would be with people associated with this situation. Enron, a Texas based energy company run by Kenneth Lay, who drove the company's value up by heavily contributing to the alteration of the organization's financials, over valuating assets, revenue, and share prices, along with everything else. Essentially, many stock brokers and corporate employees, such as directors, vice presidents, and other high ranking officials, cashed in on the hideous, easily combustible situation. Thorough indeed is how the situation is documented and directed by Alex Gibney and narrated very nicely by Peter Coyote. It is particularly awful that an accounting firm called Arthur Andersen, which was founded by the namesake more than five decades before, went out of business due to their unethical acts of alteration associated with this company. The founder, who is long deceased, must be rolling over in his grave. I had never known that the CEO was associated with the Bush family (makes me wonder of George H.W. Bush's presidency). What is sadder is CEO Lay committed suicide in 2006, a year after this documentary was released and two years after he was arrested for corruption. Definitely a riveting film, highly suggested for all, especially those in business related careers.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Extremely convoluted movie in which Jim Carrey plays a lonely man named Joel Ballish who travels by train to get his car fixed. On the train, he meets this generally strange and somewhat psycho red-haired woman (Kate Winslet) for which he begins to spend time with and she becomes exceptionally obsessive with him. Then all of sudden, after hanging out with him for a while, she dumps him and seems to not even acknowledge his existent. Joel goes bananas and sees a psychiatrist (Tom Wilkinson), who, along with several others (Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, and Mark Ruffalo), try to counteract his problem by erasing his memory of the woman. Almost like a spider-web that is weaved right of control, yet the story is never a boring him. Hard to follow at many times, but always well-acted, especially by Winslet.

The Truman Show
½

Very interesting movie, or reality show as one could perceive it, about a man named Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), who is un-a where that his life is being televised to the world. He seems to be living his life normally and perfectly as an insurance salesman...although he starts to feel an increase in paranoia. He discovers his seemingly perfect life begins to get weird, when his father, to whom he thought was deceased after falling off a boat when he was young, turns up alive one day. It also gets odd when he, along with his supposed wife (Laura Linney), try to flee for trip of his coastal village and his attempts fail when he is stopped every single time. Frustrating and entertaining comedy works, even if Carrey can get annoying after a while. Definitely a freaky movie in that shows like this do exist today, although my assumption is that 1) they don't take place in a dome; and 2) the person being filmed is aware of the camera. The climax is highly impressive!

Michael Clayton
½

Very complex drama in which George Clooney plays a lawyer, Michael Clayton, who represents a partner, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), of a law firm, who seems to know too much about a situation between his company and an agrochemicals organization. However, everyone is unsure about Edens credibility, since he has a severe bipolar disorder, and that puts Clayton's job at risk. Although, there seems to be something else going on, as another lawyer (Tilda Swinton) knows that Edens knows too much and hires two hit men in order make him go away. She also eventually hires the hit men to get rid of Clayton. Again, sometimes the story is really hard to follow, but the performances are so good by the entire cast, that you are pretty much swept away during the process. Clooney's performance is probably among the best of his career and the ending in the taxi is quiet interesting (and rather unique). Detailed, very well-made chronicle.

Murderball
Murderball(2005)

Arresting documentary on those of people who have permanently ended up in wheel chairs under various circumstances. In order to utilize their particular paralysis, these individuals engage in wheel-chair basketball and even head to the 2004 Olympics in Greece. What's interesting about this film is, even despite being confined to this type of mobility for the remainder of their lives, the characters sure harbour a lot of anger and the origins of their injuries is not always debilitating disease. The main person at the centre and featured on the DVD cover of this movie, Mark Zupan, ended up in wheel chair as a result of drunk driving relating incident (he was the intoxicated passenger of the drunk driver). Another one's situation resulted from being tossed off a porch during a drunken brawl. Some of these guys were clearly not all there during their situations. Interesting film, although the swearing amongst the participants gets out of hand after a while. Nice to see my home town of Burnaby, British Columbia in one clip of the picture.

As Good as It Gets
½

Before I begin with my review for this movie, I want to make a note that the title "As Good AS It Gets" does not refer to the production capabilities of films in general, because there are MANY, MANY better movies than this. Jack Nicholson plays an obsessive-compulsive writer who hates everything around him, until he interacts closely with the dog of a gay artist neighbour (Greg Kinnear). Then he starts to become fond of a waitress (Helen Hunt) at the restaurant he tortures with his presence. Predictable, WAY overlong movie that is essentially a "chick flick" in disguise. Nicholson, who worked with director James L. Brooks in "Term of Endearment" with much better Oscar winning performance, can't save this generally hammy movie. The dialogue, characters, story, and script are very mediocre and I generally wanted this production to end so badly. That is now three Best Actress winning performances, in this case being Hunt, I have seen in a row that did not deserve those accolades (the other two were "Coming Home" in 1978 for Jane Fonda and "Kitty Foyle" in 1940 for Ginger Rogers). What is wrong with the Academy Awards? It is like they have particularly bad tastes for those they feel deserve the Best Actress award. Such an annoying love story!

Kitty Foyle
Kitty Foyle(1940)
½

Kitty Foyle (Ginger Rogers) is being courted by a handsome gentleman (Dennis Morgan) to whom she's known for long time. He asks for her hand in marriage but her answer is ambiguous. She then recollects the events leading up to her meeting, befriending, and the dumping the love of her life for a wealthy suitor (James Craig). The movie tries, admittedly very hard to be good, but just does not work today. It is okay at best. Ginger Rogers Oscar winning performance is not bad, but the film is barely special to recommend. Another generally disappointing movie that was acknowledged in a variety of ways by the 1940 Academy Awards.

Coming Home
Coming Home(1978)

In California in the late 1960's, Sally Ryde (Jane Fonda) goes to volunteer at the hospital, that is loaded with permanently injured Vietnam war vets, when her husband (Bruce Dern) heads to Vietnam to serve in the war. At the hospital, a severely paralyzed, bitter, and disgruntled veteran named Luke Martin (Jon Voight) begins to actually like her presence, unlike everyone else in the facility. He eventually gains the strength to leave the hospital as a result and begins an illicit affair with Sally.

In 1978, two major films pertaining to the Vietnam War were released: this one and "The Deer Hunter." Both were very successful at the Academy Awards as "Coming Home" took three Oscars while "Deer Hunter" took five, including Best Picture. Sadly, only one works today: "The Deer Hunter." Voight's performance is not bad, but Robert de Niro natural, spectacular performance towers miles above him and he should have received the Oscar for Best Actor. Fonda's performance is definitely not Oscar worthy; it should have gone to Jill Clayburgh for "An Unmarried Woman." I'm pretty disappointed with this film, because it should have been way better due to its accolades. It's too long and it just doesn't compare to other Vietnam War related films in terms of age, emotion, tenseness, or script. I also think that the score of classic 1960's songs doesn't work very well here and it becomes a nuisance after a while. In addition and I saw another review that said this, for which I agree, the movie tried to be like "The Best Years of Our Lives" since it recognized the pain the veterans were facing after the conflict but it is nowhere near that league of films ("The Deer Hunter" is also in that same superior league). What a shame! It may have stood out better with an improved script and story.

Man on Wire
Man on Wire(2008)

Captivating, perplexing documentary of a French stunt artist named Philippe Petit who takes extraordinary risks by using a tight rope to walk across from one point to another. His trials begin in France where he essentially uses simple posts to suspend the wires, gradually the heights of the pillars used. However, his hunger for risk grows as her goes to places, such as the Notre Dame building. Then, it was the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia. Finally, a year after they were built, the legendary Twin Towers in New York City in 1973. With the support of his peers, including a now ex-girlfriend, he attracts media attention. Interestingly, World Trade Centre walk yields unsatisfying results for him and his peers. Fascinating to every degree and such a bizarre, dangerous obsession that did not result in Petit's death. Ironically, the man's last name is clearly not a way of describing his level of risk nor heights for which he single-handedly crossed. Incredibly impressive chronicle!

Vera Drake
Vera Drake(2004)
½

In the years following World War II, the title character nurse (Imelda Staunton), working for an independent agency, is a door-to-door specialist who does abortions for ladies in need. These females are embarrassed, ashamed, and/or too poor to go a doctor and/or tell their families of their predicament so they take this generally risky, volatile route which could jeopardize their health. Unfortunately, one of the girls ends up in the hospital due to a contaminated instrument used in the process and to the mother's belief that she had suffered a miscarriage, but in actual fact, she had an abortion. Vera Drake is than arrested, with her believing she did nothing wrong. Really sad, potent film that tackles a pretty shocking, controversial topic during a period where you never hear about abortion. Really takes a risk and the results come out wonderfully. Staunton's performance is so sad, so good, that you can feel her sadness when she is charged with her unique crimes. Hauntingly good movie!

Passion Fish
Passion Fish(1992)
½

Strangely enticing drama for which a soap opera star Mary Alice Culhane (Mary McDonnell) wakes up in the hospital after a spine injury resulting from being hit by a taxi (that taxi was hit by another taxi as she was getting out of it). She is then totally confined to a wheel chair and does not take this well at all. Mary then relocates back to New Orleans where she goes through one nurse after another, thanks to her extremely crude and vicious attitude, until finally she clicks with the "one" (Alfre Woodard). I never would have imagined soap opera stars to be divas in an extraordinary way, but McDonnell pulls this off so well that it helps the generally slow moving film progress quite nicely. Woodard's performance is also very strong. The movie works really well and is one that has fallen more or less into the shadows of 1992's releases.

Big
Big(1988)
½

Very likable comedy of a young boy named Josh (David Moscow) who wishes at a carnival to be an adult. He gets his wish and becomes a thirty year old man (Tom Hanks), causing havoc by becoming the centerpiece of Missing Children campaigns (on the classic milk boxes) and also a president of a toy company in New York City. There, he begins to fall in love with an attractive associate (Elisabeth Perkins). Funny, entertaining, tender, and not totally idiotic to the point where it becomes repellent. Hanks is terrific in his role, an early one within his career and one which should rank among the best. What a nice movie this is. One funny scene is the thirty year old Josh watching the masterpiece film "The French Connection" and the beginning of the infamous chase scene with awe.

Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo Cinema Paradiso)
½

Surprisingly relevant film, that is to me, of a man named Salvatore (Salvatore Cascio) who recollects how the movies were introduced to his town back in the 1940's. As a child (Marco Leonardi), Salvatore is under a strict mother, is badly behaved, and begins an intense interest in the local theatre "Cinema Paradiso," often watching the films with the man Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) alongside the projector. Sadly, a tragic situation occurs in which a fire significantly and nearly kills Alfredo, but thankfully the young Salvatore saves him, but sadly not his sight, in which the chemicals from the fire render him permanently blind. Eventually, as the years' progress, Salvatore discovers a love for a girl and his interest in movies begins to fade, as well as his relationship with Alfredo. Wonderful, entertaining chronicle that rings true to myself as I am very interested in watching unique, offbeat films, as I have here. Everything works well, although it is a little long.

Pan's Labyrinth

Superbly detailed fairy tale that takes place during a revolt in 1944 within Spain, separate from the events of World War II. The movie starts with the foreshadowing of poor young girl, named Ofelia (Ivano Baquero), is shown dying in a wooded area, adjacent to a lodge for which she was previously brought to by her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil) and vicious, evil stepfather (Sergio Lopez), a captain of the offensive. While there, Ofelia wonders into the forest and daydreams, meeting a bizarre creature called "faun" (Doug Jones) who claims that she is the Princess Moanna and that she is the one who help him and other bizarre creatures, along with her pregnant mother, who becomes very, very ill. At the same time, Ofelia's vicious stepfather starts his kill into the forest and begins murdering those who he believes have betrayed him and Spain, including dictator De Franco (who presided over Spain for more than thirty years).

Exceptionally grim but devastating and stunning piece of work that will leave anyone haunted for days. The performances of Baquero and Lopez are unforgettable, as well as Meribel Verdu, the wonderful and helpful housekeeper whose brother is trying to takedown the captain and his crew. Really sad and oppressive, but the films works on an extraordinary level. There is a very good chance that this film will leave you in tears. Notably and understandably, not a kids movie by any means!

Breaking Away

Likable sports movie about a group of young men known locally as the Cutters who often get into disputes with the jocks of Bloomington University (which is located in the state of Indiana). One of the four Cutters, Dave Stoller (Dennis Christopher), is an avid cyclist who is influenced by the Italians and drives his parents (Paul Dooley and Barbara Barrie) crazy with his behaviour, up to including speaking Italian and shaving his legs. Eventually he cons an attractive university student (Robyn Douglas) in pretending to be an Italian exchange student. That doesn't end with for him, along with taking after the influence of being a mock Italian cyclist. Not always a successful story, but one that contains believable characters and situations. I can relate to the four young guys who are not sure what do with their lives after high school.

Children of a Lesser God

James Leeds (William Hurt) heads to a special school for the deaf in a coastal village in New England. There, he is surrounded by a genuinely intelligent though somewhat in-content group of students (as well as staff), to whom he tries to assist in learning and speaking. One staff member, however, named Sarah Norman (Marlee Matlin), is silent, demonstrates increasing hostility towards him and everyone else in the school, even leaving her job at one point, and eventually being intrigued and romanced by the new faculty member. Peculiar, genuinely unique story of an outsider falling in love with a hostile employee of the institution for which he becomes part of. Good performances by Hurt, Matlin, and Piper Laurie, who plays the less than affectionate mother of Matlin. A little long, but effective movie.

Cat Ballou
Cat Ballou(1965)

A schoolteacher named Cat Ballou (Jane Fonda) recalls, in a jail cell, how she returned to her father's farm on after an exciting train ride. Two men, a priest (Dwayne Hickman) and a castle rustler (Michael Callan), escape a train and only to meet Ballou at her farm later on. Ballou's father Frankie (John Marley), along with his Indian helper (Tom Nardini), believes that his farm will be acquired by the town and so they go on the defensive. Tragically, he is gunned down by Tim Strawn (Lee Marvin) and the rest of the gang hires his brother, Kid Sheleen (also Lee Marvin) to hunt him down as well as rob a train. Pretty silly and corny, but also entertaining for its camp value. Marvin is good is his Oscar winning performance and Fonda is really attractive. The scenery in the film is splendid as well. Fun to see Nat King Cole in one of his few screen appearances during his spectacular music career. It is shame that he was dead of lung cancer shortly after production of "Cat Ballou."

Disraeli (Disraeli: The Noble Ladies of Scandal)

Insignificant effort to recall the life of the famed British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli (George Arliss), who died nearly 50 years prior to the release of this movie. It shows of him trying to implement all his policies around his supporters, who have varying opinions on what is appropriate and what is not. Although Arliss' performance yields some part marks and everyone is speaking with an English accent, "Disraeli" is generally forgettable. It is better than some other films that have been acknowledged by the Academy Awards during the period, but otherwise, it isn't a great movie by any means. Best Actor should have gone to Lew Ayers for "All Quiet on the Western Front" in 1930.

Rififi (Du Rififi Chez les Hommes)

Four men, three French and one Italian, plot a jewel heist of store within the downtown part of Paris. The leader Tony (Jean Servais), who initially did not want to take part in the scheme, has just been released from prison and took out part of his madness on an ex by beating her after she went off to be with someone else. Before they rob the store, the crew of four meticulously plan the heist by using an alarm that would be associated with the protection of the jewels in the store, which includes analyzing its sensitivity as well as its location to where they would enter the building. As such, they eventually conduct their plan, but the end result is anything but satisfying (even if they had successfully obtained the loot). During the same era, two other heists film was released from France: "Touchez Pas au Grisbi" (1954) and "Bob the Gambler" (1955). Neither film comes close to the greatness of this movie, not nearly obtaining the same level of suspense, storyline quality, nor stage presence of the actors that "Rififi" unleashes to the viewers. The heist, which is pretty much the mid-point of the movie, spawns an ending hour that is completely unforgettable. For the time released, the deaths depicted within are graphic and shocking. Amazing, superb work!

Diabolique (Les Diaboliques)

Extremely suspenseful movie in which an abusive, nasty schoolmaster (Paul Merisse) is married to the owner (Vera Clouzot) of the school and is incredibly cruel to her, often physically, mentally, and sexually harming her. In addition, he is having an affair with a teacher (Simone Signoret), to whom he also treats very poorly. Oddly, the two females draft a plan to kill him, as by taking him from the school in the country to an apartment in Paris and drowning in a bathtub after giving him sleeping pills to take. They shove the body into a trunk and plan on throwing it into the neglected pool of the school, but the body dissapears and the film takes an astonishingly bizarre turn. Although the situation at the end is near possible, it is absolutely riveting, capitivating thriller from France by the same great director of "The Wages of Fear," Henri-George Clouzot (Vera is his wife). Excellently acted, especially by Signoret. Truly a great watch!

A Separation
A Separation(2011)

A separated couple (Leila Hatami and Peyman Moadi) are on the verge of declaring divorce as the wife (Hatami) wants to leave their home in Iran with their daughter (Sarina Farhadi), while the husband (Moadi) wants to stay to tend to his ailing father. Tensions rise as the wife and daughter move in with her mother, while the husband goes back home to get a caretaker, who unbeknownst to him is pregnant. Unfortunately, the caretaker he hires possibly stole money and he pushes her out of his apartment, which inadvertently causes her to down some stairs, and looking at circumstances, caused her to have a miscarriage. However, evidence that seems likely begins to fade and the truth about her miscarriage begins to emerge in an entirely different way. Absolute honest, natural, believable movie, which rightfully garnered outright praise from around the world, is by far the greatest film I have so far seen from 2011 and from Iran. Everything is real and superbly well-acted. Even the settings and cultural aspects of Iran, such as the scarfs covering the women's heads, are brilliantly adapted into this tragic situation of the movie. Surprisingly, it seems the number of best films of the last few years are from outside of the United States.

Little Miss Sunshine

A rather dysfunctional concept finds the young daughter (Abigail Breslin) given the green light to participate in a Little Miss Sunshine fashion show in California. The leads the whole family spontaneously packing up into a weird looking van and travelling from New Mexico to the showbiz state. This includes an unsuccessful working father (Greg Kinnear); the disgruntled mother (Toni Collette); the gay, mentally disturbed uncle (Steve Carell); the mute brother (Paul Dano), who won't speak until he becomes a fighter pilot; and the drug addicted, hippy, promiscuous grandfather (Alan Arkin). The journey to California is no normal journey, especially due to several humongous tragic or hideous situations that occur, yet they remain upbeat, which leads to the surprising success of this movie. It works, thanks to the cast and script, and the ending, despite not exactly would it should have been, is wonderful. Nice movie and much better than I would have imagined.

The Insider
The Insider(1999)
½

Scientist Jeffrey Wingand (Russell Crowe) has just been terminated from his job from the Brown and Williamson Company, a humongous cigarette manufacturer. The initial reason for dismissal was because of poor communication between himself and others at his workplace, although it actually otherwise. It is actually due to him knowing the contents of the produced tobacco products which included a lethal chemical called "coumarin" which was neglected to be acknowledged from the company and telling his bosses about that. A reporter named Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) from the TV show "60 Minutes" approaches him to describe his findings and whistleblowing of the tobacco company and do on air interview with Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer). He reluctantly does, but it comes at many costs and puts his life surprisingly in danger and "60 Minutes" in hot water.

Fascinating drama that shows Wingand as one of the few prolific individuals to come and rat on a company who was doing dangerous things to make a buck and at the same time, putting people's lives at risk even further (not cigarettes were bad for you anyway). Everyone in their performances are good and so is the story, as it even has greater relevance to me since I learned a lot about this in university since I am a business graduate (integrity is a major player for those majoring in accounting). I do have a hard time believing that the actual players in this scandal were extensive users of profanities. That seemed over dramatized (and a bit indulgent). Other than that one minor deficiency, it is still really fine film. Nice parallel with the news story of the legendary criminal, "The Unibomber."

The Palm Beach Story
½

In the late 1930's, a couple (Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert) enter into marriage and the first few years seem great. However, the wife begins to contemplate whether it was a good idea or not and one night, she leaves him. She then heads down to Florida to get a divorce and gets mixed up with one of the nation's wealthiest men (Rudy Vallee) and his sister (Mary Astor), and the husband follows her into the web of confusion. It seems to me that the best comedies from the 1940's are always directed by Preston Surges, and this one, along with several others, proves it. A nice combination of good dialogue and slapstick humours. The shooting brigade on the train is a riot. The first ten minutes are also interesting in that Colbert speaks so much that I thought I was going to have an asthma attack. She doesn't take one breath, which is fairly impressive.

The Thin Blue Line
½

Mildly successful documentary in which an assassination of a police officer in the mid-1970's had taken place. The murder result is in question because the person, Randall Adams, for which they had originally detained, convicted, and sentenced to death had claimed he had not committed the heinous act and a number of discrepancies begin to occur in the prior evidence, including several problematic eye-witness claims. The finger than shifts towards a younger man, David Harris, who was convicted of another murder that occurred several years after the original one. Amazingly, this documentary overturned the conviction of the original criminal and landed other one with a second life sentence. Unfortunately, I was not jumping out of my seat with excitement of the movie, as I have seen documentaries that were more interesting and emotionally perplexing. In fact, I much prefer the TV series "Unsolved Mysteries" way more this. Maybe Robert Stack could have been involved. I thought it wasn't bad, but it could have somehow been better.

Mon Oncle d'Amérique

Amusing French film that focuses on three individuals who seemed to be connected through a deserted island off the coast of their small town. One young man (Gerard Depardieu) expresses generally dislike towards his job in a textile factory. The other man (Roger Pierre) begins dating an actress (Nicole Garcia) who seems to be resistant of his affection and at the same time, has a fling with the other individual. Despite the film being rather upbeat, everyone seems miserable and also somehow get back to the island for which their ancestors had landed on. Weird and bit confusing at times, but still quite entertaining and well performed by the cast.

March of the Penguins

Generally well-made documentary on the lives of the emperor penguins in Antarctica. Essentially, this movie chronicles a year in a life of a penguin, which includes their mating season; their handling of their eggs; the harsh winters they bare on the isolated continent; and the predators they face during all the seasons. It is hard not fall in love with the animals of this film, as penguins are so cute, especially their babies. Amazingly and impressively, the photographers and crew of the movie went to Antarctica to brave the excessively cold weather to film the flightless, beautiful birds (I think temperatures can down to as low as -60 degrees Celsius). It is TV like, but still quite compelling and likable.

The Story of Louis Pasteur
½

Stale, dated autobiographical movie of the iconic doctor, portrayed by Paul Muni, who is on the verge of finding the cure for anthrax. He becomes the hype of the village and everyone seems to respect him. Hard to understand how this film is any bit watchable these days, as it is completely forgettable. Muni is surprisingly better than other films I have recently watched with him, but definitely not Oscar worthy as the Academy awarded him for this. Seems rather ridiculous to have characters who are supposed to be French have English and American(!) accents, which damages the film substantially. Not very good!

Professione: reporter (The Passenger)

Somewhere in Africa, a reporter named David Locke (Jack Nicholson) gets stuck in a small, isolated town in the absolute arid middle of nowhere. The hotel goes to contains only cold showers, limited electricity, and a dead man in the next room that looks like him. He takes his identity and that becomes a paranoid, bizarre sage for the man, as he gets mixed up with foreigners, who he believes are trying to kill or arrest him and an attractive French woman (Maria Schneider). Essentially, his travels take him into more of Africa and Western Europe. Super slow moving film works thanks to its surprisingly endless fascination for the viewer. Nicholson is good, but his performance does not compare to that of that even more famous movie from 1975 "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Ending is quite interesting and mainly unforgettable.

Saraband
Saraband(2003)
½

Well-made Ingmar Bergmann drama chronicling an elderly divorced couple, Marianne and Johan (Liv Ullman and Erland Josephman), who reunite in many years after their relationship disbanded. They are able to get along surprisingly well, but they are faced with a substantial problem. Johan's granddaughter (Julia Dufvenius) comes to them in need of help, because her father and Johan's son, Henrik (Borje Ahlstedt) is a suicidal, obsessive, and insane cello player who is on the verge of taking his own life. Generally compelling drama that reunites two older actors from director Bergmann's 1974 hit, "Scenes from a Marriage." Nicely filmed and acted, but a bit confusing at times.

Green Fire
Green Fire(1954)

Period piece set in South America reeks of dullness from the first minute to the 100th minute. Stewart Granger plays an explorer who wants to open an emerald mine in Colombia, and has to persuade the villagers and a gorgeous owner (Grace Kelly) of a coffee plantation. Not much happens for the bulk of the film, with just forgettable dialogue (and performances for that matter) throughout this near-ordeal. One scene of particular silliness is when the first man of Kelly's interest (John Ericson) is killed when a rock during a mine renovation falls and allegedly kills him. From what I saw, the rock missed him and landed at his groin when he fell down (it barely hit his body). What a laughable death to accompany a non-recommendable film. A particular waste of Grace Kelly's fine acting capabilities (she was in five movies that year, and the two worth watching over the others are "The Country Girl," which contains her Oscar winning performance, and of course, "Rear Window").

Kohayagawa-ke no aki (The End of Summer) (Early Autumn)
½

Nice, leisurely paced movie surrounding the life of an old man, who watches over the lives of the younger folk in the small fishing village during a heat wave. Sadly, as he watches over those surrounding him, his health begins to quickly deteriorate and heart attacks start to occur. Although sad, the film has a type of naturalness that makes it compelling from start to finish. Essentially, it just conversations among the residence and there does not seem to be ounce of disappointment towards life, even if death is imminent. Everyone seems to be quite happy. Very likable film in beautiful technicolour.

Story of Drunken Master

Utterly bizarre tale of an old wise man (Yang Pan Pan) whose intoxicated fighting powers influence the younger villagers in his town. Then all war breaks out among every younger fighter in the vicinity of this man, in order to maintain power in the village. Totally odd and at times funny, since the key to great fighting is alcohol, although some, as expected take too much of it. That being said, the film is pretty entertaining, even if the fighting goes WAY, WAY overboard in terms of acrobatics.

Possessed
Possessed(1947)

The second "Possessed" for which Joan Crawford was in, 16 years after the previous one, this one is completely different and much better. Crawford plays an insane nurse who tells to her doctors in a hospital who David (Van Heflin) was, after constantly chanting his name in a catatonic state. Prior to her breakdown, she worked as a nurse for a wealthy family, tending to the insane wife of wealthy businessman (Raymond Massey), to whom she eventually weds after the wife kills herself in a lake adjacent to the home. However, she still loves David, a friend of her new husband. Not the greatest film noir, but a compelling one, of which shows Crawford in better than in her previous "Possessed." Nice filming techniques and photography. Strange how she was in two films of same name but completely different subject matter.

Possessed
Possessed(1931)

Joan Crawford plays a woman who finds her poor, working man (Wallace Ford) boring and wants to leave him. She does and travels by train to New York, where she meets a successful lawyer (Clark Gable). They eventually wed, only for Joan to discover that her prior man becomes rich as an infrastructure builder. Odd, unbelievable drama by especially todays' standards seems silly, but is not too bad due to the presence of Gable. Not Crawford's greatest performance. Definitely her best ones came later.

Glory
Glory(1989)

Fantastic movie in that shows the involvement of Robert Shaw (Matthew Broderick) commandment during the American Civil War. Film starts with him leading the Yankees into an ugly battle (almost verging on a suicide mission) against the fighters of the south. After this brutal battle, he is then assigned a new task: recruit African-Americans to the battlefront. It takes a lot of power and tolerance (especially since the black people were significantly looked down upon during the time) to integrate the masses of them (including Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington) into the war and he surprising succeeds. It also took Shaw a lot of courage to persuade his superiors to have his crew actually fight, rather than just do manual labour and steal. Exciting, very informative movie for which I had no idea that African-Americans fought during the civil war. Broderick's quiet, courageous performance is an asset to the movie, as the is the support of Washington and Freeman (who is much better in this film than "Driving Miss Daisy," for which he unbelievably nominated for that dull performance). Excellent battle sequences and pretty sad and tragic conclusion to the movie that renders it totally unforgettable.

The Verdict
The Verdict(1982)

An irresponsible, alcoholic lawyer Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) is in the beginning process of entering into a new case, despite many of his peers' reluctance. The purpose of this case to fight for justice of the family of a woman who given improper treatment by a doctor and get them the compensation for which they deserve. However, support by all, including the judge (Milo O'Shea) is minimal due to Frank's constant lateness and inappropriate requests, which demonstrate a potential lack of commitment. Doesn't rank alongside the best of courtroom dramas (which were in the late 1950's and early 1960's) or as one of Sidney Lumet's best, but it still works. It has the special characteristic of progressing with mainly silence in order to acknowledge the characters concentration of the topics of concern. The performances by Newman and James Mason, who plays a doctor that is assisting the defendant, are quite good.

The Tree of Life
½

Strange, unique and different chronicle of a Jack O'Brien (Sean Penn), who recollects the memories of his childhood in Waco, Texas. Back in the 1950's, he was under the household of his easygoing, loving mother (Jessica Chastain) and his very strict father (Brad Pitt). Generally, as he and his siblings grow up, his father's harshness towards them and their mother begins to accelerate, even leading to some physical abuse and blow-ups within the household. There were also times of tragedy, for which young friends both drowned and were burned in a fire. What is most interesting of this film is the beginning were it shows the mother crying due to the death of her son (one of Jack's brothers), then it fast forwards into the present, and then reverts back to time well before the occurrence of their lives. It shows scenes of the development of outer space, as well as the dinosaur age, and then finally goes into the main observation of the O'Brien's family's lives. Such a peculiar drama of the how life progresses with a specific look at the pitfalls, but also love and responsibility, in which the end result coming out quite strong. Even though top billing goes Pitt, Penn, and Chastain, they do not have as much as airtime as young actor Hunter McCracken, who also plays Jack. Very compelling and memorable.

The Broadway Melody
½

If this is what a Broadway melody sounds like, than I want earplugs. This 1929 release features two sisters (Anita Page and Bessie Love) who want to get into Broadway and are swooned by a man named Warinner (Charles King). I am not even to go in more detail with this plot. I had always said that "Oliver" from 1968 was the worst Best Picture, but we have new winner in that category. Where do I even start? The dialogue is just is horrendous, the acting is hideous, the plot is a fiasco, and the production quality is a mess. The singing talent they accept for the play is worse the most auditions on American Idol. Ranked as one of the worst Best Picture recipients, it is not that bad...it is worse! I still haven't seen "Forrest Gump" or any of the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards, but none of them could fair as poor than this category five meltdown. 1929 must have been one of the worst film years of all time if this was deemed the Best Picture (I saw "In Old Arizona," and it was pretty insipid as well). Ugh!

Note: I have no idea what planet Rotten Tomatoes is on but (1) this film is from 1929; and (2) the cast does not consist of Elenor Powell or any other ones listed on the page. Bad website to complement a bad film!

A Night to Remember

Not remotely the same story released in Britain 15 years to do with the Titanic, but a strange mystery concerning a married couple (Loretta Young and Brian Aherne) and there house. They are in the process of moving, but people keep coming in and out of the premise, and then there the turtle "Hickory." It gets even stranger, not scary, when a murder victim shows up in their backyard. Silly but likable movie that contains enjoyable performances by the cast and some amusing light-hearted comedy. Ironically, despite the film sharing the title with another to do with the famous tragic voyage, Aherne was the captain of the vessel in the 1953 version of the "Titanic!"

A Night to Remember
½

Well-made and detailed chronicle of the doomed voyage of the Titanic in 1912 that is shown from several different perspectives. Of course, we, the viewers, see the points of view of the passengers (and ultimately many victims) of the Titanic, chronicling their confusion and then fear and anxiety when ship sinks into its doom. Interestingly, there are also two other perspectives in this film. The first one is of the ship Californian, who are wondering who the ship even belongs to and debate on whether or not to help them, as they are unclear of the whole situation. The other is the ship Carpathia, which is being radioed to come to assist to pick up the Titanic...in unfortunately four hours. Fascinating, well filmed spectacle and I feel, a bit better than the film "Titanic" in 1997. The British have delivered a fine retelling of the famous story. Notably, the only cast member I am familiar with in this movie is Honor Blackman, who is the famous Pussy Galore in the James Bond film "Goldfinger."

The Spanish Earth (This Spanish Earth)

Very short (only 53 minutes) documentary, narrated by Ernest Hemingway, on the Spanish Civil War during the 1930's. Mainly, this small collection of footage shows the battle scenes and people suffering through the events of this violent conflict. It just doesn't however have the same greatness as other documentaries (such as "The Sorrow and the Pity"). In fact, Hemingway's narration becomes annoying after a few minutes. Interviews with people who were directly affected by the conflict would have improved the film significantly, by both quality and age. I give it credit however for the battle scene footage.

Bordertown
Bordertown(1935)

Very irritating drama in which Paul Muni graduates from an alleged school and become a-way-in-over-his-head lawyer, only to impress his mother. He fails to do so miserably (like this film in terms of convincing the viewer for it to be believable) and looks for other work, of which a criminal (Eugene Pallette) hires him to be his secretary, where he gets involved with him, and his wife (Bette Davis). Performances by other cast members are overshadowed by Muni's hammy, inconsistent (especially in terms of Mexican accent, which sounds Italian and American at times) contribution to this deservedly forgotten movie. Annoying, pretty predictable, and once again, Muni ruins the whole the movie. One of Davis' worst as well.

Red Beard
Red Beard(1965)

In a small Japanese village, a young man (Yuzo Kayama) is on the final stages of complete his education to become a doctor and is under the leadership of Dr. Kyojo Niide (Toshiro Mifune). He then goes through the village and tends to those who need assistance and at the same time, they recall their lives, in his presence, that had and had not lead to their current condition (some became ill due to natural causes and others due to natural disasters). Not anywhere near one of director Akira Kurosawa's best, but it does show a sensitive, different side to the master for which he should be given credit for. The performances are good and so is the photography, but it just doesn't contain the same magic or pace as prior films have. It is a good Kurosawa film, not a great one.

Juliet of the Spirits (Giulietta degli Spiriti)
½

Delightful fantasy movie, directed by Federico Fellini and starring his wife, Guilietta Masina, which shows a very dysfunctional household. Juliet (Masina), who is rich thanks to her spouse, is concerned with lack of intimacy with her husband and suspects that he is engaging in an extra-marital affair. Her bizarre friends, associates, and family try to persuade her to confront the husband and the hussy to which they believe he is courting. In addition, Juliet has these strange dreams, both through sleep and crossing her mind otherwise, of weird creatures and happenings with the areas that she lives in and goes to, thanks to the people she hangs around with. Very colourful film by Fellini also proves not only is he a good director, but also the combination of him and his wife through movies works well (not as great as "La Strada" or "Nights of Cabiria," but still very good nonetheless). The movie also contains wonderful imagery to add to its assets.

Fort Apache
Fort Apache(1948)
½

Unspectacular western, set after the American Civil War, of which shows an army of soldiers (led by Henry Fonda and John Wayne) trying a battle for land against the Indians. In addition, a younger lieutenant (John Egar) is being swooned by a country girl (Shirley Temple, in one of her last roles and the first film I have watched contained her as a cast member). The scenery is nice and the concluding battle scene is good, but the film is too long, too sentimental, does not contain great dialogue, and is not all that memorable. The whole cast tries its best, but it just work as well as should have. That same, John Wayne is the great western of "Red River," which is one of the best films of 1948. This does even come to close it's beauty. What a shame, especially considering who the players are! Also that same year, Wayne is in another western called "3 Godfathers," which I have yet to see.

My Night at Maud's (Ma Nuit chez Maud)
½

Strange, compelling drama of which a man (Jean-Louis Tritigant), who has lost faith in being a relationship with woman, runs into an old friend (Antoine Vitez). He then has dinner with him and a recently divorced Maud (Francoise Fabian). They engage in a complex conversation on life and the man spends the night Mauds and the relationship then deepens into some more (but not a quite romance though to restore his confidence in woman). Generally talky drama has some sort of memorable magic attached to it that has left me thinking of the situation afterwards for quite a while, probably because everything seems rather natural. Well-acted and very well filmed. The nicest scenes are the characters talking during dinner or right before bed time.

If....
If....(1968)

At a boy's boarding school in London, three young men (Malcolm McDowell, Richard Warwick, and David Wood) are becoming restless and begin to exhibit erratic behaviour in front their peers, which begins to concern the instructors and staff of the institution. They begin to engage in disorderly conduct, such as drinking, larceny, and exemplary rudeness. However, that is only the beginning of what lead to an ugly conclusion (and a frightening forshadowing event during a war game in the country that precedes the final showdown). Slow, thoroughly paced, but absolutely fascinating, well-made movie which shows the rebelliousness of the counterculture movement during the late 1960's through a small population of individuals. McDowell, in apparently his screen debut, is at his most creepiest, and the film primarily falls on observing his increasing sickening attitude towards life. The conclusion makes the film prophetic, because of number of events that have occurred in the world over the past few years seem to be similar circumstances. From the year that brought the world "2001: A Space Odyssey," for me, this film exceeds it in greatness.

Naughty Marietta
½

Super irritating musical that finds Jeanette MacDonald as a bride who escapes an arranged marriage and finds herself with other bridesmaids. They are then captured by pirates and what do you know, she falls in love with one of them (Nelson Eddy). Many songs that are the equivalent to the sound of an endless line of squeaking shrews that are begging for food, which essentially means annoying. No one comes out looking good after this one. The first of MacDonald/Eddy musicals and a possible foreshadowing of more poor musicals to come (if I decide to watch them which I probably to will for the sake of doing so). Ranks among the worst of movies to be nominated for Best Picture.

The Magnificent Trio
½

Very well made Chinese of which a young soldier stumbles on a hut in which three men have kidnapped a beautiful woman. Although, strangely, he sides with their decision as it is way to stop government corruption within their part of the nation. That leads to a petition being made to help de-throne the current government, though sending that petition becomes a significant task. May well-choreographed fight scenes and beautiful filming make me question why on earth these films are not better known. I just don't understand. This movie is so quick moving and entertaining that it ranks among the best films of 1966. Well, hopefully, my reviews may spark some interest from main stream critics. At least I won't forget about them.

Zhong kui niang zi (The Lady Hermit)
½

Highly underrated work from China, one of many it seems, of a young villager who becomes fascinated with an eldor, due to her mysterious background. She witnesses her ability to fight off sword bandits that invade the village and becomes entranced by her techniques in fending off enemies. The villager than begins to stock the older villager and is in demand of wanting to learn to fight like her. The older woman also has her own goal, to take down the vicious, violent "Black Demon." Exciting, entertaining pic that contains a fair amount of violence and well done story.

The Story of Adele H

In the 1800's, a woman named Adele (Isabelle Adjani), disguising herself as Ms. Lewly, comes to Halifax (only four years before Canada became a country) in search of her man (Bruce Robinson), a British officer. She starts to get erratic and emotionally disturbed, often having breakdowns, and wants her man back, who is now committed to another woman and eventually is to wed. She is also being harassed through mail from her parents, the father being famed poet Victor Hugo, to come back home, especially since her mother is very ill. Interesting Francois Truffaut film, much different compared to his other works, of the life of Adele Hugo, who died during World War I (not part of the film). Pretty good, especially with simultaneous use of both English and French dialogue, but not among Truffaut's best works, thanks some overboard performance techniques of Adjani.

Die Feuerzangenbowle

Interesting tale of five older men recalling their days in college. The reminisce on how they caused havoc for their instructors by playing pranks on them, from stealing their shoes to drawing pictures of nude females on the chalkboard to bringing girls into the science labs. Amazingly, they even made for a day that no one came to school, which aggravated the dean of the college and they managed to get away with that without being expelled. Pretty good and extremely unknown, since no one has written a review on this movie, not even Leonard Maltin who has seen virtually every film known to mankind. Watched without the help of subtitles and I strongly believe I figured out the plot of the movie.

Springtime in the Rockies
½

A Broadway musical is put on hiatus when their star, Vicky Lane (Betty Grable) dumps her fiancée (John Payne) after discovering that he had fling with another woman. She heads to the Canadian Rockies (!), Lake Louise of all places and her man follows. He schemes, along with several others (Cesar Romero, Carmen Miranda, Edward Norton, and Charlotte Greenwood) to patch up the relationship and bring her back to New York. Predicable story that gets by marginally thanks to the supporting cast, especially Miranda. A little bit insulting the portrayal of Indians (since I am Canadian, Aboriginals do not nor have ever looked like that!).

Dead of Night
½

Fascinating tale of a meeting between a number of individuals who tell stories with strange details. The first story revolves around a man who has nightmares that become a reality. The second of a man who can't see his wife in a mirror. The third story is of man who talks to a ghost of man in public who played golf with him and killed himself during a round. Finally, a story of a ventriloquist who has very detailed conversations with his puppet, on for which that is capable of murder. All tales are really interesting and well filmed, the script and cast are both quirky and entertaining, a really good combination. The United Kingdom delivered some fine mysteries during this era, and this along, with another 1945 film "And Then There Were None" rank most likely among the best.

The Thing from Another World
½

Suspenseful tale of a crew of scientists that head up from their station in Alaska to a cold, isolated one in the North Pole (we will assume today that is in Nunavut, for Northwest Territories, part of Canada). When up there, they find a strange ship below the ice for which they try to blow out of there. They don't entirely succeed with getting ship up to the surface with their explosives, however, something does emerge from this bizarre spectacle. Quite chilling, literally and figuratively, this film is, with a B-cast (none of the cast members I am familiar with) providing strong performances. Also scary, considering that there really is no way for anyone to survive up there unless they have shelter and indeed something does. Well-made and definitely worth the watch. Christian Nyby, another unknown for me, directed, with the assistance of one of my favourite directors, Howard Hawks (who produced). He probably improved the quality of the film highly.

Miracle on 34th Street

Likable movie in which a businesswoman (Maureen O'hara) is trying to recruit a Santa Claus for Macy's parade. She finds one (Edmund Gwenn), who tries to persuade her than he is the real Santa Claus, although has second thoughts based on his odd behaviour. In addition, O'hara is becoming courted by a smooth talking gentleman (John Payne), who wants to bring Christmas spirit back into her life. Very sentimental, but still watchable thanks to the compelling performances by all, including O'hara, Gwenn, and a very young Natalie Wood. The fact that the film is still in black-and-white cinematography has helped it aged much better than it should.

The Scarlet Empress
½

Very beautiful chronicle of Catherine the Great, portrayed magnificently by actress Marlene Dietrich. Starts with her residing to the reign and gets interesting when she begins fooling around with the various men in her kingdom, eventually making everyone fear her and become discontent with her presence. She also goes on to take over the Russian army. Fascinating and beautifully shot. The set pieces are so good and so classical that they cannot be forgotten. One particular scene of memory is when Catherine overlooks feast on a huge table, in which there is a massive roast in the middle of the table. Dietrich is cold and evil in her role. The movie is able to capture the era for which Catherine was part very well.

Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work

Sensitive documentary about the crude humour Joan Rivers that shows the background about the famous comedian. The film discusses her beginnings to current success, including her feud with Johnny Carson on having her own (unsuccessful) talk show, clips of her on The Ed Sullivan Show (much less crude), as well her ability to fill up her journal in order to get revenue. The film also mentions of her and her daughters' participation on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" and there reaction to the death of River's husband Edgar Rosenburg, who killed himself in 1987 after making many miserable business deals. Quite crude, using every expletive imaginable in the English language, but also fascinating, especially since a celebrity in her mid-to-late 70's could be so successful. Generally good!

Last Summer
Last Summer(1969)

Provocative tale of three teenagers (Barbara Hershey, Richard Thomas, and Bruce Davison) who are beginning to get hormones and wanting sex. They start to experiment with one another, and drag another poor girl (Cathy Burns) into the mix. Could be compared to "The Last Picture Show" released two years later, but does not have the same greatness as that film does. However, it is still interesting and they are quite a few memorable scenes. One notable segment is when the three teenagers take care of seagull and try to help it fly again. Unfortunately, it does not survive, thanks to Hershey's anger issues. Performances are strong, especially by Burns, and the cinematography, for which the film takes place on Fire Island, off the coast of Long Island (I thought further south than that).

Funny Girl
Funny Girl(1968)
½

Much better than expected musical that presents a part of Fanny Brice's life, which is portrayed by Barbra Streisand, that shows her rise to stardom. Fanny Brice goes into her old theatre and re-collects she came out of her poor, Jewish household. She is hired by director Flo Ziegfeld (Walter Pigeon) who puts in her in they play and she screws with it by acting silly, which inadvertently makes it and her popular with crowds. Brice then finds an admirer Nicky Arnstein (Omar Shareif), who has a checkered past in the gambling world. Interestingly, they do marry and life seems good for both of them, though cracks begin to appear in later years. Streisand is superb in her role and the songs, for which I knew most of them (and have on CD), are wonderful. The movie really works and the flows at a genuinely good pace. I enjoyed the whole 154 minutes of the film.

Manhattan
Manhattan(1979)

In New York City, we find Woody Allen dating a woman (Mariel Hemingway, who was famed writer's Ernest daughter) that is more than two decades younger than him. He is a divorced man, whose ex-wife (Meryl Streep) has become a lesbian and writes a book that slams his ability to have sex. In addition, Woody is also friends with a married couple (Anne Byrne and Michael Murphy), in which the husband, who is a total visionary, begins engaging in a relationship with a writer (Diane Keaton). Oddly, the writer and Woody start to have an affair themselves, two-timing their other relationships. Interesting character study that is almost a Jerry Springer scene waiting to explode, but thankfully doesn't materialize to that extent (three different people are being screwed by others for others for goodness sakes). Not one of my favourites by Allen, but still pretty interesting and entertaining. It should be noted that Streep and Hemingways' performances exceed everyone else's by a mile.

Libeled Lady
Libeled Lady(1936)

Entertaining comedy in which a newspaper editor (Spencer Tracy) writes an offensive, highly inaccurate article about a woman (Myrna Loy) who stole her husband's fortune. She sues and it screws over himself and his fiancée (Jean Harlow), to whom he delays the wedding of in order concentrate on preventing the suit. In order to do so though, he arranges for a man (William Powell) to falsely marry his fiancée and then court the wealthy woman, to initiate a new scandal to counteract the original one. Surprisingly funny comment has many nice moments and it is interesting how the stars of "The Thin Man" franchise are found within this film, though they do play the same characters. Likable performances particularly from Powell and Loy.

Auntie Mame
Auntie Mame(1958)

In the days leading up to the Great Depression (1929), a young boy (Jan Handzlik, as an adult played by actor Roger Smith) is forced to move into his Auntie Mame's (Rosalind Russell) penthouse and grow up there. She loves the lavish style and is living off stock income until the crash on the markets occurs. In addition, the trustee (Fred Clark) for the father's inheritance arranges for the boy to be sent to a school away from his aunt, leaving her greatly disappointed. Surprisingly, this comedy is not as bad as others from the era, so it stands up slightly better thanks to Russell's performance and some good lines. Unfortunately, it has a major problem. There are too many depressing scenes, such as Mame's new husband (Forrest Tucker) falling to his death in the Alps in Switzerland as well as Mame's loneliness when her nephew is taken away. Those parts wreck a potentially good film and make sad, deteriorating the laughs I endured. Had those several scenes been cut, it may have stood a lot better. It would have also been shorter. Thankfully, not the most dated comedy of the era.

The Good Earth
½

What a shame! It seems that the Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress awards of 1937 all went to three wrong films: "The Life of Emile Zola," "Captains Courageous," and here we are, "The Good Earth." Generally odd, ugly drama in which recalls a farming couple (Paul Muni and Luise Rainer) who start off successful in the Chinese agriculture industry, but end up in trouble, and at times split up, when a revolution occurs. This film just doesn't work by today's standards. Rainer's performance, the second of two in a row which netted her an Oscar (the other for "The Great Ziegfeld," another highly dated movie), is okay and actually memorable. Muni's performance is also memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. He comes over as an American actor in Chinese-inspired makeup acting like a drunk cowboy. Muni ruins the whole film thank to his performance. Some of the supporting cast also treat the film as if it were an American western. I also was not a fan of the locust scene (not because it was gross, but I just not did find them burning the insects to death appealing). Good it is not!

The Bishop's Wife
½

Lesser Christmas tail of angel (Cary Grant) who brings good to people who lack charity. One couple (Loretta Young and David Niven) and their son become involved with this angel, who insists that the wife start becoming more giving to society. The husband seems annoyed and starts to fear the angel has more tricks up his leave in order to get his wife to leave him. In addition, the husband grows even more concerned by his possible magical powers. Too much sentimentality for this movie, although Cary Grant is quite charming and Niven is fair. It somewhat sucks the viewer in with its suckiness.

All This, and Heaven Too
½

Henriette Deluzy-Desportes (Bette Davis) returns to a classroom only to be berated by young students and forced to describe her history, which includes a scandal. It begins with being a nanny for family back in Great Britain. Unfortunately, the husband (Charles Boyer) begins to fall in love and then starts to have an impact on the wife (Barbara O'Neill), who begins to threaten Desportes. Tragically, the actions eventually lead to murder and Desportes becomes the scapegoat in all this. Good acting, mainly O'Neill, and set pieces in this film are diminished by the length and pacing. A good story from a novel with too much of it used. This movie would likely have aged better if it were cut by 20-30 minutes.

Samurai Rebellion

Slow, but ultimately satisfying samurai film of which a small village that seems content starts to disintegrate. A samurai (Toshiro Mifune) becomes enraged by his superiors and the woman associated with strange powers and starts to pursue violent action. He ultimately leads the small village into disarray and many of the villagers suffer tragic fates as a consequence. A little too much talk and little too long, but the ending is quite strong enough to save the film. Mifune is without question the highlight of this movie.

Skyfall
Skyfall(2012)

Within the most recent installment to the long series of 007, we Mr. Bond (Daniel Craig) chasing a criminal (Ola Rapace), who has stolen a computer loaded with confidential data, on train in Turkey, only to lose him when he is accidentally shot by his associate (Naomi Harris) and falls into a river. He then escapes to an isolated beach, only to discover on the news that the United Kingdom's secret headquarters is bombed in a terrorist attack. He returns to the U.K., only to be ordered by M (Judi Dench) to undergo a physical to be deemed fit for his highly stressed position. He is sent to China, and tracks the criminal down, only to see him fall to his death and obtain the data. Then he follows a mission to capture an even more cruel, despicable terrorist (Javier Bardem), who has a ploy of his own back in the United Kingdom.

The two prior James Bond films I saw months prior to this one ("You Only Live Twice," which also a setting in China, and "Diamonds are Forever", both Sean Connery) vastly paled in comparison to this film. Truly spectacular movie which exemplifies that the franchise has not been exhausted and storylines of such high calibre can still be delivered. Amazing on all fronts! No slow bits, pure action, excellent score, acting, special effects, and dialogue. Daniel Craig makes a terrific Bond and Judi Dench's performance is magnificent. The first film I saw of the 2011 releases was awful. The first film I have now seen from 2012 is an incredibly great film. Absolutely worth the watch!

The Lavender Hill Mob
½

Highly enjoyable comedy in which we hear the story of Henry Holland (Alec Guinness), who is hosting a party (of which a gorgeous young woman played by Audrey Hepburn is in attendance) and telling of how he got his riches. A former transporter of gold bullions, Henry decides that the wants a reward, so he, his associate Alfred (Stanley Holloway), and several others decide to transport the gold as miniature replicas of Eiffel Towers and steal them in the process. It works and escape scheme is hatched when Henry is made to look like a victim of the ordeal. It is believed he and the others get away with this alleged mastery crime, only to have it blow up his face by the end. Very amusing movie from start to finish, with wonderful performances by both Holloway and Guinness. One of three popular comedies between 1949 and 1955 starring Guinness (the other two being "Kind Hearts and Coronets" and "The Ladykillers") and it is nice to see that all of these films are splendid and have not dated badly one bit.

Local Hero
Local Hero(1983)

Superb comedy-drama for which an executive Mac (Peter Riegert) is sent by the oil chief Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster) to a small, isolated town in Scotland to build an oil refinery. When he finally reaches the nation, he meets and ultimately befriends a young man named Danny (Peter Capaldi) and they drive to small town of Ferness (of which the oil refinery is expected to be built) and Mac becomes accustomed to the relaxed, tame mood of the friendly coastal village. There is something extraordinary special when film is able to develop such naturalness to it and is also able to allow the viewer to laugh at an assortment of scenes throughout. Everything is right about "Local Hero" and this marks another great movie for Lancaster late into his long career.

Masculin Feminin
½

Jean-Luc Godard is known for his unique dramas, and this ranks among the bunch. The main story focuses on Paul (Jean Pierre Leaud), a young man who falls for a singer (Chantal Goya), but also embraces in an affair with her two roommates at the same time (Catherine-Isabelle Duport and Marlene Jobert). During the various romances, random people die either by gunshot (murder) or suicide during civil unrest in the city of Paris. One particularly memorable scene is when a stranger steals a lighter from Paul, douses himself with a bunch of gasoline and lights himself on fire. The characters are somehow able to carry on with their lives even despite the problems happening in their surroundings. Weird film but very fascinating.

Decision Before Dawn
½

During World War II, the U.S. forces, unbeknownst to my myself as fanatic of history from the era, used German soldiers as moles for their army during the conflict. The German forces are used to spy on the Nazi's. This documentary like movie, of which Bette Davis' ex-husband Gary Merrill and Richard Baseheart are the main stars, tries really hard to make the film process interesting and life like. The results are okay, with some nice filming techniques and some chase scenes. Otherwise, it is really a routine war film that does not have all that many special characteristics to make it stand out. As well, there is too much talk and not all that much action. Not great by any means.

Sommarlek (Summerplay) (Illicit Interlude) (Summer Interlude)
½

A secluded ballerina (Maj-Britt Nilsson) is recalling in her mind a special summer where she met a young man (Birger Malmsten), while staying with her uncle. The relationship starts as a friendship, but quickly turns into love. They then plan to marry, even based on their very quick love, only to have that tragically be scrapped, when the man dives onto rocks (rather than into the ocean) and succumbs to his injuries. She then becomes consumed with constant mourning, even unable to break out of it with another young man (Alf Kjellin). Very early Bergman from 1951 is very underrated. Well shot and quite emotionally stirring. You can feel the woman's pain she loses her love. Must be seen by all fans of the director. Interestingly, I have never seen of these cast members in later films, even though all their performances are very good.

The Magician (Ansiktet)

Peculiar, low key work by Ingmar Bergman following a group of unusual people, who travel the countryside, with their strange act. They are almost like a circus, since they have an odd collection of talent, but they fall short of being classified that. One day, they venture into a household in the countryside and vastly intimidate the owners of the place with their strange acts. One magician (Max von Sydow) is particularly odd, expelling magic that truly concerns them. Unique Bergman film, with interesting imagery and a good performance by Sydow. As usual, nice cinematography. It is a little too slow at times, but it still works and is memorable.

A View to a Kill

I admit the special effects and the imminent disaster plaguing San Francisco is quite neat, but the film itself seems idiotic and slightly beyong sick at times. It is not that good of a James Bond film and one in which I will never watch again. Not the worst James Bond film, but not the greatest.

Darling
Darling(1965)
½

Dated movie in which a model (Julie Christie) moves up in the world of fashion by fooling around with every slimy man she comes across. This includes Laurence Harvey, who looks like he is still in his role from "The Manchurian Candidate." The movie is dreary, uninteresting, slow and extremely forgettable. There is nothing really special about this picture, one which netted an Oscar, for some reason, for Julie Christie. She has been in better performances in other films ("Doctor Zhivago" from that year, and as well as "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and "Don't Look Now" from the 1970's) for which a nomination for an Oscar was never acknowledged. Apparently ground breaking for its time; undeniably bland by today's standards.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
½

Highly odd, fairly graphic movie in which a wealthy socialite (Helen Mirren) is married to the worst type of abusive pig gangster (Michael Gambon), in which they eat at his own restaurant every night and he assaults in her every sort of way. The restaurant is run by a French chef (Richard Bohringer) who can barely tolerate the man as well as frequented by a handsome, quiet individual (Alan Howard), to whom the wife begins to fool around with. Pretty graphic in terms of nudity, sex, and oppression, but ultimately rewarding thanks to a strange, detailed plot and a memorable performance by Helen Mirren. The dialogue is also pretty graphic, but spoken in such way that it can't be forgotten. Pretty sick, but also very interesting.

And Then There Were None
½

Wonderful adaption of the famed novel by Agatha Christie in which ten individuals end up on island off the coast of England due to a note regarding a fortune. Interestingly, as they await for a final guest, Mr. Owen, who us viewers never see, they begin to die one by one, all by murder. All suspect it's the other, but every guess they make fails since that one is then killed. Agatha Christie has been known to reject films based on her famous books for their inadequacy of retelling the tail, but this film does a fine job, thanks its quirkiness, cast (Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, and Judith Anderson are the standouts), film techniques, and suspense. He we are with another movie that has been forgotten. Easily, one of the best films of 1945.

The Little Foxes
½

Very well made drama in which Regina Giddens (Bette Davis) is the centre of attention in her mansion in which her and several others, all close friends and relatives of the family, want after her husband, Horace's (Herbert Marshall), fortune, since his health deteriorating. At the same time, their daughter Alexandria (Teresa Wright) is trying to court a boy, who is also interested in the fortune concealed by her father. Unfortunately, things begin to crash when Regina decides to aid the death of process of Horace a little faster. Nice dialogue, fine acting, especially by Davis, and another gem by director William Wyler. Once again, here is a film under this master that has sadly fallen into the shadows for unknown reasons.

Meshes of the Afternoon
½

Highly bizarre and inventive horror movie, which only lasts 15 minutes, done by husband-and-wife Mayan Deren and Alexander Hammid. It is about the grim reaper, who inflicts his finger of death every thirty seconds and attempt to kill the woman within a small house (although kills others at the same time). Very violent for the time and, without question, unforgettable. Definitely one of the few experimental films that should not be missed, although based on its length, calling it a film would be challenging since it is only 15 minutes long.

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa(1986)
½

Exciting drama in which a chauffeur, George (Bob Hoskins), provides a taxi service for his colleagues who are engaged in a prostitution ring, run by big time pimp (Michael Caine). Unfortunately for him, George's activities are known to his ex-wife, who keeps his daughter from seeing him, making him essentially go crazy and infuriated with his dark life. Eventually, he inadvertently gets entangled with one the hookers (Kathy Tyson), although funnily enough, not sexually, and even wants to attempt to rescue her. Fascinating movie, directed by Neil Jordan (same director who gave us "The Crying Game") with unflinching performances by Tyson and especially Hoskins. Love the song "Mona Lisa" by Nat King Cole on the soundtrack. A little hard to understand at times, however, due to the thick accents.

Crumb
Crumb(1995)
½

Highly strange documentary that displays the life of Robert Crumb, a comic writer who has a super deranged mind. It seems that Crumb is obsessed with sex with strange creatures, and so he feels that he is obliged to display graphic and disturbing images of nudity in his strips. Interestingly, he has a huge following with his underground comics, even with the women. Such a fascinating documentary, but one perhaps that is memorable for all the wrong reasons, which is of course the intent. Crumb is so peculiar, so creepy, that is it hard to understand how he has a wife and daughter based on his mind. He also comes from such a tragic family, composed of one brother who lived with his family in Los Angeles (and tragically killed himself after the documentary was made); and another brother who was heavily on drugs in San Francisco. He also had sisters who declined to be interviewed for the film. Definitely worth a viewing, even for those who like lesser graphic and more famous comics such as Peanuts or Garfield.

The Passion of Anna (En Passion)

The third film directed by Ingmar Bergman, starring Liv Ullman and Max Von Sydow, shows a marriage of Sydow's that seems to be on the rocks. He looks to Ullman for consoling, who seems have a troubled background life, as it starts to return to her. Essentially, she is nuts. If it isn't a great work, it is still a good work, as Bergman films are always fun to watch, even if they are complex, confusing, and high bizarre. The cinematography is always dazzling and compelling. The acting by the two leading actors in this film, like in "Shame" and "Hour of the Wolf" are good.

Hour of the Wolf (Vargtimmen)

The first of three films directed by Ingmar Bergman and starring both Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullman shows a couple descent into hell with the husband going nuts. He starts to hang around a bizarre cult that drives him insane and greatly concerns his wife, who tries to help him out of his predicament and eventually, fails. For me, this ranks as one Bergman's finest, exemplifying superbly acting and black-and-white cinematography, and the second brings in you in so strongly that you, as the viewer, can never get out. Excellent movie and so far the best that I have seen from 1968.

Skammen (Shame)

Not as a strong as "Hour of Wolf" but still quite good, the second Ingmar Bergmann starring Liv Ullman and Max Von Sydow puts them into a civil war situation. Their generally peaceful, secluded lives get caught up in the uproar of the government and rebels and they become surrounded by forces, only to be held captive. They lose everything, including their animals and farm, except for themselves, in the bombs and the generally graphic violence. Well moving chronicle, but also quite confusing at times, a little too fast. Unfortunately, and I can't blame this on the film itself, but it is a turnoff when the Swedish dialogue is dubbed in hideous English, but a couple annoying American actors. I may have to watch it again in Swedish. Not to be confused with the even more graphic "Shame" with Michael Fassbender in 2011.

Inchon
Inchon(1981)

In the shocking movie, General MacArthur (Laurence Olivier) takes command of the American involvement of the Korean War, while wearing makeup that makes him look like a clown. In South Korea, sporadic presence of white people (Jacqueline Bisset and Ben Gazzara) somehow make the translation barrier between the foreigners and residents very easy. The bombs are constantly exploding without any meaning throughout this renegade garbage and the Americans are considered all that. Terrible film that is both incoherent and unintentionally laughable includes abysmal script, dialogue, and special effects. Embarrassing for Olivier (who as I understand was the verge of senility during this wreck) and everyone else sucks as well (I loathed alleged hero Gazarra and actually wanted him to die). Funny there are not that many movies to show the battle front of the Korean War. Perhaps everyone was turned off by this junk.

Executive Action

Two men (Burt Lancaster and Robert Ryan) take a minute by minute perspective (or second by second as it felt like to this viewer) of the murder of John F. Kennedy. They go essentially through one paragraph or sentence of information and present it in the slowest form to the viewers at home. As one critic noted this "excruciatingly dull thriller [was supposedly intended] to clear the air about the JFK assassination but was more successful at clearing theatres." I can see why! Hard to understand how two fine actors, Lancaster and Ryan, got themselves into this boring disaster. 18 years later, Oliver Stone came out with the film JFK, one of best films of the 1990's. Watch that one! Don't watch this!

Wait Until Dark

Odd thriller in which a blind woman (Audrey Hepburn) inadvertently becomes in entangled in strange murder scenario between a several mobsters, which involves a murder in Montreal (although the primary setting is an apartment in New York City) and doll that was that of the murder victims. In the apartment, the mobsters use place as a base and confuse the poor woman criminal situations progress throughout the story. It tries, but this thriller is particularly convincing or all that compelling. Generally a disappointment and Hepburn's performance is just okay. Alan Arkin's performance is slight better than hers at least.

The Southerner

Strong depression era film in which a family strives to make a living off their farm plantation in the southern United States. Sam Tucker (Zachary Scott) is husband who initiates the farming practise with the assistance of his wife, Nona (Betty Field), along with their two young kids. Unfortunately, two factors are against their building of the farm. One, the weather, for which they have struggle against of opposing elements of both flooding and drought. Two, they have to deal with the presence of the wife's bitter, generally immobile and stubborn mother (Beulah Bondi). The cinematography, as usual for director Jean Renoir's film, is the strongest asset, with setting superbly photographed by the camera, allowing us to feel that the time and setting is the 1930's. However, I wish that the movie progressed a bit faster and smoother than it did.

A Date with Judy

A rather unspectacular comedy/musical, I guess, in which a high school prom is approaching and one young teenager Judy Foster (Jane Powell) is trying to figure what man she wants to take to the event, after the boy (Scotty Beckett) she is interested in declines her invitation. On the side, the boy's sister (Elizabeth Taylor) has booked bandleader Xavier Cugat (himself), who fiancée (Carmen Miranda) is teaching the Mr. Foster (Wallace Beery) how to dance. To add to this, a soda shop sets Judy up with his hansom nephew (Robert Stack). Strange cast and catchy tunes barely help this film pass by. Not great, although Miranda is good to look and watch and has her amusing moments.

D.O.A.
D.O.A.(1950)
½

Riveting mystery and suspense film in which a businessman (Edmond O'brien) is lethally and inadvertently poisoned through drink at a bar by an unknown assailant, who was actually aiming to kill someone else. It just starts out as a normal business trip for the individual, going from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but goes in a strange direction when he meets his neighbours and clients at his hotel, who seemed to be celebrating for some unknown reason. He then stumbles in the dark world of these people and becomes mixed up with them, which leads to deadly consequences. Short, strange, beautifully shot, moving, and very well-acted. O'brien proves that can act as also a leading actor, not just a supporting actor as he normally does.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

From what I had read in various reviews, I knew these films were hammy, but I certainly didn't expect unintentionally funny. Two or three or four agents (which includes annoying actors like Megan Fox and Shia Laboeuf) go after bad forces by somehow travelling from the United States (looks some Italian joint in New York City) to Egypt. There, they fight poorly functioning robots in some of the ugliest film quality shown on screen in recent times. One area of the movie that truly is confusing is when they are in a museum, than a desert full of planes, than an extremely arid, inhabitable desert then...who really cares? The acting and dialogue were downright bottom-of-the-barrel. The people I sat with while watching this also laughed, but they said they would pay money to watch this film so I suppose "it so bad that it's good." Just terrible!

The First Wives Club
½

One of the many dud chick flicks from the 1990's, this one finds three middle-aged ladies (Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, and Mia Farrow) plotting revenge on their ex-husbands and their love affairs. This comes through forced laughs, contrived situations, and one against the non-acting Sarah Jessica Parker, who admittedly looks more attractive than usual. To understand how any of these broads became wives (or for that matter the men who became husbands) in the first place would require some sort extensive scrutiny, which is likely beyond the intelligence of the scriptwriters. To understand how actresses like Diana Keaton and Maggie Smith, who plays one of the mothers of the wives, also got involved in this mess (I am more forgiving of Midler and Farrow because they in many stinkers during the time) is beyond question. Not worth any wives' viewing.

Diamonds Are Forever

Connery's last film in which he played the legendary Bond is a disappointment. Here we have, once again and I am still surprised by this, Bond tracking down "M" who screws his plans up by creating duplicates of himself and his cat. He searches for him in The Netherlands and the United States (specifically Las Vegas) and gets mixed with a broad and two gay guys. Some good sequences but a letdown thanks to the insignificant concluding fight scene at the end. My mouth dropped to how non-dramatic that was. With a name like "Diamonds Are Forever," which spawned a hit single Shirley Bassey, it's a real shame that it is not great film, nor a particularly good one.

You Only Live Twice
½

The beginning of the end for the James Bond franchise I'm afraid, although it is not all bad. Here we see James Bond (Sean Connery) assassinated in hoax plot in Hong Kong and then dumped at the bottom of the ocean. He is then rescued and given his new assignment...kill "M," who is trying to initiate a war between the USSR and the United States. There are a lot of really good elements, but it is not smooth ride for viewers (although I sure many viewers unlike me would not care about plot deficiencies). At times, some of the scenes were very hard to follow and I became lost. The special effects were generally powerful, however, but it just didn't contain specialties that "Goldfinger" or the other previous films had.

The Story of G.I. Joe

Well-presented war film that chronicles a group of infantrymen during World War II, led by Burgess Meredith, who is corresponded by fellow soldier Ernie Pyle (Robert Mitchum). The troop heads through the ugly battle terrain of Tunisia and Italy, and as they progress, the relationships between one another grow and they become very close during their brutal journey. They also pick up an adorable dog during the trip (which thankfully survives by the end). Quite a nice film to say the least, with good battle scenes and set pieces, and a fine performance by Robert Mitchum that established him as a star. May not be in the same league as "All Quiet on the Western Front," but still worthy of a watch.

The Gentle Sex

A relatively unknown movie that looks that female involved in World War II. Generally less exposed cast (as in non-high profile) shows how the ladies helped assist the bases at the war front during the early days of the saga. Sadly, this film tries and the results are forgettable. Tragically unknown for perhaps all the right reasons.

King Solomon's Mines
½

The wife (Deborah Kerr) of an explorer travels to Africa in search of her missing husband. When she arrives, she is met by a guide (Stewart Granger), also an ambitious explorer and they follow the trail they believe the husband took during his trek. Unfortunately, it is an intense and unsettling ride for the two individuals, who eventual develop a romance between one another. Has nice production values and great scenery, especially the animals, but it was not a great film for me by any means. It lacked power in terms of both drama and chemistry and the film, by today's standards, does not stick in the memory box for me. It is an okay saga of exploration.

San Francisco

Melodrama that chronicles the days of a famous fictional stage actress (Jeanette McDonald), who rises to fame, along with help of her man (Clark Gable). In addition, a priest (Spencer Tracy) intervenes and is generally reluctant to accept the two as lovers. Taken place in the days leading up to the massive earthquake in San Francisco back in 1906, the drama plot surrounding the characters is relatively silly and forgettable, although the performances and singing McDonald stick out. The minutes surrounding the final performance before the earthquake and the earthquake itself are not forgettable by any means. The special effects are quite impressive at the time and save what could have been an embarrassment for the entire cast. Not bad and still works thanks to the ending.

Cyrano de Bergerac

Well that makes two! Both Best Actress and Best Actor Oscars were given to performers in 1950 that delivered what I believe are two of the most ludicrous acts I have seen. Jose Ferrer tortures present viewers of this schlock with a hammy take on the iconic duelist from France, who starts the movie by shutting down a play...for some reason. There, he has a duel with a citizen in which he mortally wounds and the ladies, including this relatively attractive one (Mala Powers, who I have never in any film and perhaps for GOOD reason), are wooed by him. By the time you get through the first ten minutes, you'll want any character to behead Ferrer his annoying, pretentious, and irritating performance. She should have married Judy Holliday since she delivered an equally idiotic Academy Award winning performance for "Born Yesterday." Poor William Holden, Gloria Swanson, and Bette Davis.

Harry and Tonto

Likable, sentimental story in which a senior citizen (Art Carney) is forcibly evicted from his condemned New York apartment, along with his cat, and move into his son's home. He then takes a cross-country journey, along with his cat, to Chicago, Boulder (CO.), Las Vegas, and finally, his new spot, Los Angeles. Through his lengthy trip, in which he uses bus, a used-car, and hitchhiking, he meets a variety of kind individuals, including an old girlfriend (Geraldine Fitzgerald) who was placed senior's home in Ohio years' earlier. Although I would have preferred the 1974 Oscar for Best Actor to have gone to Al Pacino in "The Godfather Part II" or Jack Nicholson for "Chinatown," Carney's performance is good enough to generate enjoyment for viewers. The supporting cast is also fine as well, especially Ellen Burstyn as his daughter.

The Black Cat

Amusing, haunting yarn in which a couple who are traveling in Eastern Europe, along with a chauffeur (Bela Lugosi) and driver, and end up in a serious car accident. The wife (Julie Bishop) is rendered unconscious and they decide to travel to the house of individual (Boris Karloff) owns and is friends with Lugosi. It is a disturbing house and Karloff ends up taking control of the wife and husband (David Manners) through potions and threats. In addition, a black cat wonders the mansion and threatens anyone who visits if they look at it. Campy and silly, but entertaining and has some haunting sequences.

Four Daughters

A household is comprised of a musical family in which a father (Claude Rains) conducts a choir and band of out his four daughters (Priscilla, Rosemary, and Lola Lane, along with Gale Page). In a process of a year, all begin to take diverting routes, two falling in love with the same guy, ensuing a strange love triangle, another one gets married, while the remaining one gets accepted into school. To me, this leads to a disappointing, mediocre film, especially under "Casablanca" director Michael Curtiz. It says this is a musical drama, but it's just relentless protégé of situations revolving around the four daughters that slightly go somewhere, with minimal singing and if there is any, it's not memorable. Passable, but forgettable entertainment.

Dead End
Dead End(1937)
½

Title refers to an area of what I believe is New York City where there the poor really have no way moving up in class in life. They include a group of hopeless kids who only succeed through acts of hurting others. One situation of cruelty occurs when a rich kid is lured into a warehouse, severely beaten and robbed and then his father is stabbed by one of the delinquents when they try and arrest. There are further complications with the adults who hang around there, including a criminal (Humphrey Bogart), who finally loses it toward the middle part of the film with another, kinder individual (Joel McCrea). It has nice photography and direction, but it is just not all that memorable for me. The acting is okay by the grownups, but the kids can get really annoying after awhile. Like "Dodsworth," this ranks among William Wyler's decent films. His best ones start with "Wuthering Heights" in 1939.

Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
½

The other of two films nominated for Best Picture starring William Holden and like "Picnic" along with "Mister Roberts" from 1955, this one was also a bad choice for being a candidate of the award. This time, Holden plays the love interest of a doctor (Jennifer Jones), who is half Asian and half European, while he is visiting Hong Kong. There is a problem, however, and that is Holden married to another woman. When reviewed in 1955, New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther used the term "clichés" to describe the plot of the movie and he ain't kidding. Just a lot chatting and googly eyes and not much else interesting occurs. I also found the portrayal of the Chinese to be fairly poor, with their handling of the English language to be quite insultingly presented. My theory is that Holden, who came off much better films like "Sunset Boulevard" and "Stalag 17" thought he could be good in anything he read. He was possibly right at the time, but he wouldn't be remotely right today. At least the colour and set pieces are nice. So that make three out five of the nominees for Best Picture of 1955 as total duds. At least "Marty," the Best Picture winner, was good. Interestingly, like the very mediocre "A Summer Place" from 1959, this film spawned the title song of huge #1 for a group called The Four Aces, which is not featured in the film.

Picnic
Picnic(1955)

Tremendously dated movie in which William Holden plays a hobo or vagabond that travels to small town in Texas to meet up with friend (Cliff Robertson), only to be wooed by his woman (Kim Novak). All the girls yearn for the new man in town, believing his hokum stories of his past life. In a subplot, a teacher (Rosalind Russell) is the girlfriend of drunken nut (Arthur O'Connell). Hard to understand that films like "Rebel Without a Cause" or "To Catch a Thief" or "The Night of the Hunter" were ignored for a nomination of Best Picture over this. The script is downright embarrassing at times and the acting is so juvenile and dull. Ranks among the worst nominees of any such Academy Award.

Doctor Zhivago

Omar Sharif plays the title character, Doctor Yuri Andreyevich Zhivago, in this very long epic that spans two decades where Zhivago braves through several major events from the 1910's to the 1950's in Russia. During the 1910's, in the early stages of both the Revolution and World War I, he meets his love interest (Julie Christie), but he marries another woman (Geraldine Chaplin), for which they have a young son. Then, the love interest engages in relationships with an abusive wealthy individual (Ralph Richardson) and a commander (Tom Courtney). All of this told by his younger brother, Yevgraf (Alec Guiness) to the daughter of Doctor Zhivago and his lover.

"Doctor Zhivago" is lengthy indeed, perhaps too long in fact, but it is also engrossing, with fairly well-defined performances and generally nice scenery. Parts of the film where shot in other places, rather than Russia, including several winter sequences in the Canadian prairies. I personally liked this film a little bit better than both of David Lean's epics "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Bridge on the River Kwai," because I did not think it was all that pretentious or overrated, even though the others are good and I gave them the same rating as this. Note: In the winter train sequence featuring both Sharif and Chaplin, Klaus Kinski, who is well known for being in Werner Herzog's enjoyable films, plays an angry individual that needs to be hand-cuffed.

They Won't Believe Me
½

Robert Young plays a man on trial for possibly murdering two females that he was having extramarital affairs with. It starts with him deciding to leave his wife (Rita Johnson) and engaging in relationships with one woman (Jane Greer), who is in the process of being transferred one from office to another; and an employee of his business (Rita Hayworth). Unfortunately, under his presence, tragedies occur, of which Johnson is killed in a fiery crash on a highway, with him as the driver; and Greer is killed in a fall off a cliff, at a ranch in which he was staying. Severely underrated drama that has fine performances, spicy dialogue, and several surprising twists, including a heartbreaking ending. It is said director Irving Pichel worked with Joan Harrison, an individual who often worked with Alfred Hitchcock. A wise move; it's just too bad that this film has fallen into the shadows of cinema. Hopefully you will believe that you have to watch this.

The King of Marvin Gardens

From the same director that brought us "Five Easy Pieces," this oddball drama features one of Jack Nicholson's most different performances. Nicholson plays the brother of a man (Bruce Dern) who keeps ending up incarcerated for misconduct, mainly due to fraud. His brother also never takes any responsibility for himself. In addition, he hangs out with some a weird people, particularly a psychotic mother (Ellen Burstyn) and her less nutty, but still strange daughter (Julia Anne Robinson), to whom Dern fools around with both. Although very non-linear in terms of plot, this makes for an unusually engrossing film that is filled with good performances, especially Nicholson and Burstyn. Don't let the rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This film is pretty interesting, although it does divert of course at times.

Conflict
Conflict(1945)

One of Humphrey Bogart's silliest films, this one puts him between his wife (Alexis Smith) and another woman (Rose Hobart). Bogart decides to plot a murder against his wife, with his leg in a cast, so that he can be with the other woman. She ventures on a trip into the mountain and somehow Bogart gets there first in order to kill her and run the vehicle off an adjacent cliff. Amazingly, he gets back his house with now problems and tries to determine (artificially) what happened to his wife. Even despite some suspense, this film is pretty ridiculous. Not known by many Bogart fans, and very much understandably. Very unbelievable!

A Star Is Born
½

Although it has to be said that most likely the best version of this story is 1954's version with Judy Garland and James Mason, the original 1937 movie is also quite fine in its own way. In this one, Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) travels from her small town in North Dakota to Hollywood to pursue her dream as an actress. There she struggles, picking at best a job as a waitress, thanks to her friend (Andy Devine), at a party for big movie stars, including one Norman Maine (Frederic March), who gets her into show biz. However, his career is in decline thanks to his various issues, including alcoholism. Acting, production, and flow of story are pretty much first rate, as is the story and photography. Like the 1954 film, this one is also worth the watch.

Ulee's Gold
Ulee's Gold(1997)

Small and riveting tale about a beekeeper, Ulee (Peter Fonda), who has run into several problems with regards to his family in recent years. It starts with his son (Tom Wood) in jail for grand larceny and hiding the stolen cash in an unknown location. In addition, his incapacitated wife (Christine Dunford) is being held by two thugs while their two daughters (Jessica Biel and Vanessa Zima) are under Ulee's care. Now, he ends up getting involved when he takes his daughter-in-law into his care and the thugs demand the stolen money, for which he learns of the location of the cash from his son. Absorbing mainly thanks to Fonda's performance, which is likely one of his best. I thought it could have been better, perhaps with a more powerful ending, but it was still good because it showed how devastated the daughters and Ulee were from the current, upsetting circumstances.

The Town
The Town(2010)
½

Really compelling bank robbery movie about a suburb, Charlestown, part of Boston, that is under siege by four bank robbers (two including Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner). One day, they decide to rob a bank, of which they successfully pull off, but with two caveats: one, they critically wound one of the senior employees; and two, they kidnap the bank manager (Rebecca Hall) that recognizes a tattoo on one of the robber's necks. Oddly, Affleck and the bank manager engage in an intimate relationship soon after, without her knowing of his background. In addition, the FBI believes now that the bank manager was in on the plan (clearly a staggering coincidence). Complex, but absorbing tale that moves at a brisk pace, while successfully integrating the many profanities used into the dialogue as if it was part of the English language. Affleck's proposal of exiting the crime renders some of the plot as cliché, but the rest of the film is very juicy. Nice directing job by Affleck, as well as performance, as well as the support by the rest of the cast.

Ice Station Zebra

According to people that I know who have read his books, Alistair MacLean novels have a tendency to be pretty formula and talky. I am not sure if that was the case with "Ice Station Zebra," but that may have been reason why this movie is a near disaster. A Soviet satellite crashes into the Arctic Ocean, of which a submarine sent with a quite a few individuals, including head Rock Hudson and Russian Ernest Borgnine. What could have been a fascinating, intense epic turned in 152 minute ordeal to watch, with nothing happening for virtually the whole film and an awful insignificant conclusion. There is not one ounce of suspense, nor interesting performance, and has so much talk that is enough send anyone into dreamland...hopefully for a better movie the next time around. Cast and everything else used are wasted. Ranks among the most boring high profile films from the 1960's.

Mutiny on the Bounty
½

Insufficient remake of the 1935 classic: this time, Marlon Brando portrays the hero Fletcher Christian, who is off on the infamous journey through to the South Indian Ocean. Trevor Howard plays the villainous Captain William Bligh, who dictates all orders and punishes those who do not respect him, including one poor John Mills (Richard Harris). It's in colour and has an okay score, but the acting does not compensate it, nor does its very long running time. Brando is generally considered to miscast as the title character (which was originally portrayed by Clark Gable), but I also did not like Trevor Howard that much either. Harris' performance is forgettable. Limp version of the famed story.

Cleopatra
Cleopatra(1934)
½

Lavishly photographed, but ultimately goofy take on the famous queen (Claudette Colbert) in ancient Egypt. The queen-to-be is kidnapped and taken to a new kingdom, where she sleeps her way to the stop and has scores of people serving and dancing for her. In addition, she becomes enveloped in a romance with the Julius Caesar (William Warren), but her reign on the kingdom eventually leads to despair and tragedy for the region. Pretty silly and dated, but it has its amusing moments. Would have been much better if the acting was of higher quality. It is has to be said, however, that the set pieces are quite well made. Interestingly, it is one of three films nominated for the Best Picture that starred Colbert (the other two being "Imitation of Life" and the 1934 winner "It Happened One Night," for which she one Best Actress).

Fat City
Fat City(1972)

Fairly disappointing boxing movie in which two losers (Stacy Keach and Jeff Bridges) who strive to succeed at the sport for which they love. Keach's character is an alcoholic who is in the rough love affair with this unpleasantly nasty woman (Susan Tyrrell), but not saying he's not also nasty would be leaving out a chunk of information to describe his character. Bridges' character is also in a relationship with a woman (Candy Clark), but is heavily impacted by his inadequate fighting methods in the sport. Generally sincere, but mainly forgettable and indulges too heavily in feeling pity for the characters, despite who the director is (John Huston, which is too bad because I have enjoyed many of his others movies). "Fat City," by the way, refers to a region of the city for which they live in coined by the African-Americans.

A Man and a Woman
½

A widow (Anouk Aimee) meets a man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) one day at the school in which their children, a son and daughter, respectively, attend. They begin to spend time together as friends, getting to know one another and the loves previous to them meeting. The woman was married to an actor who was tragically killed on the set of a war movie. The man was heavily involved with a woman to whom he just lost interest. He also described he was involved in race car driving. Soon, their friendly relationship evolves into something much deeper and more complex. Fascinating, inventively filmed movie that has two very strong lead performances, as well an interesting soundtrack. It is the first time I have ever seen a film shot in black-and-white, colour, and gold multiple times throughout the picture. One of the more odder films to originate out of France.

All Through the Night

Crazy spoof movie, starring Humphrey Bogart, in which he is part of underground world where he discovers an espionage ring related to World War II and headed by Conrad Veidt. This comes after two people are murdered, one of these which Bogart is framed for that occurs at a club. There is also a kidnapping a beautiful German woman (Kaaren Verne) that gets entangled in this web of crime. Quick moving, silly, and likable film that has a really interesting cast (other supporting characters include Judith Anderson, William Demehearst, Jane Darwell, and of course, Peter Lorre), that results in funny ending. Fairly amusing from start to finish.

Dead Reckoning

In this film noir starring Humphrey Bogart, he plays a paratrooper in which he and his colleague/friend (William Prince) are given an unusual assignment to travel to the U.S. capital for irregular duties. Unfortunately, one night, his colleague vanishes and he soon learns that he was killed in a car wreck, which may have been as a result of a murder. Bogart than tries to get to the bottom of this tragedy, for which he dives down into the underworld of gambling, blackmail, and a mysterious woman (Lizabeth Scott). Minor, but compelling movie to which is always watchable and suspenseful, even if it doesn't rank among Bogart's finest. Scott's performance is adequate, even though other critics have slammed it due to it being a poorer imitation of Lauren Bacall's (Bogart's wife) performance in movie with him at around the same time. I found it enjoyable.

Hoop Dreams
Hoop Dreams(1994)
½

Powerful documentary about the lives of two up-and-coming basketball players, William Gates and Arthur Agee, about their long journey to becoming players in the National Basketball League (NBA). During their journey, however, both face impending struggles while working their way up to the top of the game from the poorer Chicago suburbs. The first major issue both face is that they are recruited to secondary school that has an abundant Caucasian population, for which they are African-American and it is a little awkward for them to adjust. In addition, Gates had issues with reading material, which in turn, heavily impacts his grades in school. Agee has his own problems, which includes his father leaving his family to engage in the drug trade, and the lack of financial resources to pay for his schooling at times. Even despite these problems, both slowly progress through to reaching their objectives. Fascinating, very well made movie, with a nice balance of pitfalls and triumphs. Quite long, a little too long, but worth watching for all viewers.

La Double Vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Veronique)

In the peculiar world of two different woman (Irene Jacob), one in Poland and the other in France, both begin to discover themselves. In Poland, Weronika, starts to have dissolutions on her singing is going to affect her life, including one scenario where she drops dead at a concert. Veronique in France is involved in an intense affair with a man to whom she doesn't really know. Right in the middle of sex, in fact, she begins to cry profusely due to her lack of knowledge of her man. Challenging drama, that can be very hard to interpret, with strong acting and strange storyline. This is before director Krzyzstof Kieselowski's "Three Color's Trilogy" and it is certainly odd, but memorable.

Fox and His Friends

Fox (played by director Rainier Werner Fassbinder himself) is a carnival worker and homo-sexual, who loses his lover and job when his significant other is arrested for tax fraud. Broke, he decides to find another lover, of which is a supervisor for major manufacturing company, at a party and the two hook up. In addition, Fox also wins the lottery, for which he spends much of his money on his new love. While the story is interesting enough, my major reservation is the male nudity. There is a WAY TOO MUCH full frontal and I know that the majority of the characters are gay, but the movie did not need to show their penises. I figured that the director was homosexual when I saw extensive male nudity in two of his others films "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul" and "The Marriage of Maria Braun," although nudity was used in those films with more reservation, thankfully. Had there been less full frontal male nudity, the film would have been better.

Grizzly
Grizzly(1976)

Disgusting horror film that starts with nice scenery and score, but gets worse and worse and absolutely increasingly worse as it goes along. A grizzly bear, without any motive what-so-ever, terrorizes tourists in the woods of someplace believed to be the Pacific Northwest (though according to Vincent Canby's review, it is filmed in Georgia). At first it looks a black bear killing everyone, but somehow, it turns into a grizzly bear (!) and it at times doesn't look very mean. In fact, the bear at times has a black body and a brown head. The filmmakers decided that it was good idea to a show kid, a black bear cub (of which I believe the idiotic characters think it is also a grizzly bear and decide to cuddle and pet), and a horse, get killed or mutilated by a grizzly bear. Lame, sad, and pathetic, and to my disappointment, not funny for all the wrong reasons.

The Clock
The Clock(1945)
½

Decent but dated melodrama in which, by random, a woman (Judy Garland) meets a soldier (Robert Walker) in front of a giant clock in New York City. The begin talking and instantly fall in love, lose each other on the subway, meet again in front of the clock, determine their names so they won't lose each other again, and decide to get married. It's got some emotion and two good stars, but it just doesn't work perfectly anymore. I can see being a big hit back in 1945, but sadly not today. The score is however good.

They Drive by Night
½

George Raft and his brother, played by Humphrey Bogart, are truckers who begin to feel tolled by their jobs in the industry. Bogart, who does not have the lead in this film, is being pressured by his wife (Gale Page) to get another job as well as have children with her. Raft wants to change his position and begin to try dating, and finds a woman (Ann Sheridan) to which digs him. Unfortunately, he also runs into an old friend (Alan Hale), who has an uninterested wife (Ida Lupino), and wants Raft, and will do anything to be with him. Interesting premise revolving around the business and psychological repercussions of trucking is good, but the plot just didn't do it for me. It lacked something and it was also slow at times. I wish I could like this film more, but I felt a bit overwhelmed, perhaps because Bogart was not the lead man.

A Summer Place

Limp drama in which two very wealthy families, the Hunters and the Jorgensons, go to their summer vacation spot along the coast of Maine. The father (Richard Egan) of Molly (Sandra Dee) has an affair with the mother (Dorothy McGuire) of Johnny (Troy Donahue), destroying each set of parents' marriages. This causes the two younger lovers, Johnny and Molly, to be split apart. The trailer to this film suggested that "A Summer Place" had not aged well since its 1959 released, and it looked unintentionally funny. Instead, it was just plain dull and is not worth anybody's time. One thing to note, however, is the stunning piece of music "Theme From a Summer Place," of which the recorded version, which was not part of the film, was released in 1960 and hit number one for many weeks. Considering that is a great song, that may be a good thing.

Seconds
Seconds(1966)

Comparably irregular John Frankenheimer movie to his others where an older man (John Randolph), who is happily married, is taken in by an organization ("Company" is what it is titled) who take current lives and change them completely. There, he sworn into an operation after a bizarre interview, goes through extensive surgery, and becomes a younger man (Rock Hudson), with a new name, fingerprints and background history. The organization then declares him dead in a hotel fire, which will be reported to his wife, and he begins to adjust to his new life, although not in the way the "Company" likes. At times hokey, this odd movie has a compelling residue to it that it makes more interesting than should be. Hudson's performance is pretty good as the new individual, although he doesn't appear until around 25 to 30 minutes into the movie. Goofy, but very watchable.

A Touch of Zen
½

During the 14th Century in China, a nervous, clumsy, yet intelligent painter (Shih Jun) lives in a village that seems peaceful and quiet, although that is about to drastically change. A young woman (Hsu Feng) moves to the area and soon after, bizarre, haunting individuals are brought along creating havoc for the residents of the small community, especially the young painter. Eventually, several of these individuals end up on the hit list, including the mysterious woman and young painter. Complex and absorbing, underrated tale that is amusing, colourfully fascinating, and very memorable. Quite a few impressive fight scenes with heavy sword use, probably influenced by the masterpiece "The Seven Samurai" although there are some additional acrobatics involved. A little long and at times somewhat hard to follow, but generally a joy to watch. According to film historians, this is the inspiration to the 2000 hit "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Claire's Knee (Le genou de Claire)

On Lake Annecy along the Swiss/French border, a boater (Jean Claude Brialy) meets a woman to whom he knew from previous years and they begin to have an affair. He then gets involved with her and her wealthy extended family, for which he also develops a strange, romantic relationship with the sister. In addition, a young niece of the family develops a crush on the intriguing boater. Strange, romantic entourage completely surrounding Claude-Brialy's flirtatious character is amusing and bizarre. Contains a heavy script with a lot of dialogue, but is inventively told with a screen card showing every day of the relationships between the boater and the family (all the days which are in July). Nicely photographed to help add to the film.

The Killer
The Killer(1989)
½

In Hong Kong, the gangsters essentially rule the city. A hit man (Yun Fat Chow) goes a collection of individuals in a small apartment, leaving a singer (Sally Yeh) as the lone survivor, although severely damaging her eye sight with gunshot wound to the head. One detective (Danny Lee) begins a widespread hunt for the hit man, only to get entangled in the violent uprising of the mobsters. Riveting from pretty much start to finish, with shootouts and chase scenes involved in a couple of apartments, a house, a beach, a parkade, a hospital, and a church. Surprisingly violent, with death and blood over the place, and putting many innocent bystanders tragically caught in the crossfire (including a little girl who is rescued by the hit man and taken to the hospital during a pursuit). One issue is the scenes between Chow and Lee, in which Chow admits that he wants out of the mob, which is kind of cliché and was really not needed. However, this is still one worthwhile film to watch and contains non-stop action.

Santa Sangre
Santa Sangre(1989)
½

Violent, gory oddity that tells the story, in both present time and through flashbacks, about a man who is in a psychiatric ward and has grown up in a circus. The first part of the film shows how he is raised in a circus, in which this fat sword slower is having an affair with both his mom and a heavily tattooed lover. He is emotionally scarred when his mom's arms are sliced off by the sword thrower, who then kills himself, while the other woman kidnaps a deaf mute, in which the man was close with, from the circus. The next part shows his escape from the ward, his intense love for his mom, and her control over him to kill his love interests due to her hatred towards younger woman. I would classify this as another "Suspiria," but much better in terms entertainment, fascination, and interest, as well completeness. Both pretty effective and weird, and memorable for all the good reasons. No shortage of blood throughout this movie. Some maybe repelled; I however really enjoyed this movie.

Scenes from a Marriage (Scener ur ett äktenskap)
½

Very compelling chronicle of a professional couple that have reached a stump in their life-long relationship. Marianne (Liv Ullman), a lawyer, and Johan (Erland Josephson), a scientist, invite a couple over for the evening, who are both hostile and announce their divorce. Afterwards, Marianne and Johan begin discussing their relationship and soon afterwards, it begins to cripple and their relationship also results in a divorce. In addition, the mainly calm character of Johan unravels as a cruel, nasty individual that verbally and mentally destroys Marianne. Sad, ugly display of a disintegrating marriage is deservedly among the best of Ingmar Bergmann, as well as Ullman and Josephsons' films. One small caveat is it is long and talky for some, but even that is overshadowed by the power of its characters and story. Ending can be interpreted in several ways, and for me, it comes as quite a surprise.

Children of Men
½

Very compelling science fiction film set in 2027 in a world where people cannot (and not since 2009) reproduce anymore. One man, a city worker (Clive Owen) gets involved in the underground forces, led by an American associate (Juliana Moore), when the United Kingdom is overrun by immigrants and takes an intense, emotional interest to the youngest individual to saving the current youngest person (Claire Hope Ashitey), after the previous youngest person was murdered. After a violent intervention by foreign rebels, which kills the American associate, they take shelter in an isolated farm area where the city worker discovers the youngest woman is pregnant. Now he takes incredible precautions to protect her and get away from the madness in the United Kingdom. Violent, intense, fascinating thriller was shockingly not a box office success nor acknowledged properly at the 78th Academy Awards. Have no idea why because it is well filmed, acted, and unusual photographed movie with these peculiar long-shot segments of action sequences. Two small faults: a little slow and a bit too creepy. However, it is still a must-see for filmgoers!

Chloe in the Afternoon (L'amour l'après-midi)

A career man (Bernard Verley), who has a wife to whom he refers as a nut, becomes prone to flirting with other women. One woman, Chloe (Zouzou), intrigues him and they begin to heavily get involved in discussions, of which he then makes excuses to both his wife, who delivers a new baby, and his employer. Eventually, this strange relationship quickly escapes. Interesting enough story helps get this usual, near-affair focused film up to speed, and that is mainly due to the very well done acting. Some situations are little interesting, but the end result is quite profound and saves "Chloe in the Afternoon," literally.

Three Colors: White (Trois Couleurs: Blanc)

In the second of Krysztof Kieslowski's Three Color's Trilogy, a Polish man Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) and his French wife (Julie Delpy) are in the final stages of their divorce. Karol is still in love with her, but eventually leaves back to Poland. There, he begins a new life with his friends, becoming wealthy, learning French, and also plotting revenge against his ex-wife. The second movie in the famed trilogy and the only one in Polish is an excellent turn for the director. Superb storyline in which a hurt man declares revenge on the one who destroyed makes me ultra-happy. I truly loved this film in the way in went a sort step-by-step where lonely, depressed individual who lost everything capitalizes on his wealth through getting back at the woman that once loved him and successfully for that matter. The best movie I have seen out of Poland so far by a mile.

The Killer Shrews

Only 69 minutes long, and I could only last 40 of them. Deadening, boring horror/science fiction attempt finds several individuals stumble onto an island than seems mysterious. They discover a lab that studies specifically shrews and plays around with there DNA, I guess. Inexplicably or based on my lack of attention span due to its dullness, the shrews grow to unbelievable proportions and become aggressive and deadly. Hopefully on what I have previously said, and the fact that shrews look more like and I think are possums, you should be so smart to use 69 minutes to watch a much better film from 1959 than this.

Deliver Us from Evil

Tremendously disturbing documentary focusing on the victims of a catholic priest named Oliver O'Grady. This putrid individual was part of church in Stockton, California, a city south of Sacramento and he essentially raped his victims as young a few months old. It is a raw look at the reactions of the victims and parents affected by this truly corrupt person. It also shows how people have lost faith in churches of any sort because of this (and other) scandals of this type. There is no hold back on the telling of their torture or sexual misconducts imposed towards them. The filmmakers have effectively displayed the tragic lives that O'Grady's victims are still living and how they will be unable to cope with their futures without thinking of their pasts. It is also appalling how this man became a further priest for a church back in his home country of Ireland when he was deported there. One of the greatest documentaries one could ever see. Also note, O'Grady is currently in prison for possession of child porn, which I believe makes the film even more potent.

Enemy at the Gates

Looks I will be disagreeing with a number of other critics here. Chronicle of World War II in Russia of which the allies descend on Stalingrad is grim, entertaining, and ugly. One soldier, Vasilli Zaitsev (Jude Law), becomes an ace shooter against the Nazi's and his objective is to capture one particular general (Ed Harris). This is generally good plot, with very nice emphasis on the war scenes and special effects. I also feel it over shadows the other conflicting, inadequately developed plot of the romance between Vasilli and two other characters (Joseph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz), which is sadly not appropriate. It is a good film, but it could have been much better had the writers omitted the secondary story. It could have been a film like "The Longest Day" from 1962, which focused on the battle scenes along the western coast of France, but instead it would have taken place in Russia. I do like, but I am not crazy about it.

Three Colors: Red (Trois couleurs: Rouge)
½

In the conclusion of three-part series, Valentine Duscot (Irene Jacob), while driving, hits and (thankfully only) wounds a dog the ends up in traffic. She than locates the owner (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who does not seem to care about the dog, of which she than takes ownership. Valentine proceeds to take the dog to vet and he is operated on by the doctor, who helps give him a clean bill of health. The next day, Valentine and the dog go for a walk and the dog runs off...back to its original owner. There, Valentine discovers a weird wire-tapping scheme in which the dog's owner is listening in on conversations abroad...including an ugly one between a young man and woman, in which the woman is having an affair. In addition, Valentine initiates a friendship with the man. A very nice conclusion to the Three Colors Trilogy. Well-acted, interesting, and funny, and ends with all the main characters of each trilogy at the end, of which a major disaster takes place.

Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu)

A tragedy erupts in the countryside: Julie (Juliette Binoche) is involved a horrific car accident that kills her daughter and her famed, composer husband. As she recovers, secrets begin to unravel out of control. First off, there is huge speculation that she became a significant contributor the music of her late husband. This, as a result, causes her leave her mansion and live in an apartment within Paris. Second, Julie discovers a woman that claims to have had an affair with her late husband...and is also pregnant. Finally, Julie starts to have a relationship with a family friend (Benoit Regent), who also helped to compose the music of the deceased. The first of Krysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy is not the best, but it is still pretty compelling. Very nice use of colour, particularly red, throughout the film, but the pauses between certain scenes into darkness is a bit awkward. The acting is fine overall!

I Walked With a Zombie

Intriguing, early zombie movie in which a Canadian nurse (Frances Dee) heads to an island in the Caribbean, of which she becomes involved in a deep, perplexing mystery. Her patient (Edith Barrett) is under a strange, voodoo hypnosis by the native residents of the island. The patient's husband (Tom Conway, brother of more famous actor George Sanders who looks exactly like him) is the owner of a plantation on the island. Very short and at times silly, but also interesting and a unique movie that displays peculiar performances and very nice set pieces along with cinematography. I think the film could have been a bit better had they strung out the plot a little longer than its 69 minute running time.

Above Suspicion

An American couple (Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray) are on vacation in Europe and are about to be recruited into a spy ring. Their mission is to spy on Nazi's during the days leading up to the Second World War and bring back information back to the British involving the construction of a weapon that could destroy lives. Of course this film is totally beyond unbelievable, but it is also very funny and quite entertaining. Really weird casting choices for MacMurray and Crawford in roles like this. Nice photography to add to the some suspense of this tail. Awkward, but quite enjoyable.

La Jetée (The Pier)

Brief but engrossing little film about a man who is confined in what looks like a lab after another world war. He is incarcerated in small cell where is constantly operated on by some strange individual or individuals. Strange imagery and unusual narration (can be found in both English and French) making this highly odd film a one of kind. So, so bizarre and only 28 minutes!

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Ieri, oggi, domani)

One of Vittorio de Sica's strangest films, this one stars two of the most famous Italians of all time: Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. The movie is set in three places, with the two stars playing three different roles. In the first setting, both characters are involved in a black market to sell cigarettes, of which Loren gets arrest for her wrongdoings and is sent to jail, causing uproar as a result. The second setting involves the couple as wealthy individuals of society, who really don't seem to care for one another or anybody else for that matter. The third follows Mastroianni having an affair with a prostitute (of course, Loren). Amusing, odd Italian movie from the master maybe just minor one for him, but is fun to watch, especially considering the stars.

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Likable comedy about a man, Charles (Hugh Grant) who ends up meeting a woman, Carrie (Andie McDowall) at the first of several events (obviously both weddings and funerals) they attend. The first event is a wedding in which they have conversation, before they part ways, where Carrie heads back to the USA. The second wedding, of which it is for two friends who only just met at the previous wedding nine months before, brings the pair back together. This time, their relationship escalates and they have a rendezvous at the hotel, before once again, they part ways. Sadly, there relationship abruptly ends when Carrie marries a man that does not last long, thus initiating another wedding. It is essentially a chick flick tip of movie, as it was major success at the box office, but the characters are good enough to warrant at least one viewing by movie goers. It also has its funny parts added to make the watchable and enjoyable.

Hud
Hud(1963)

Paul Newman, Brandon de Wilde, and Melvyn Douglas play cattle ranchers in a forgettable western. They yield success through their hard work on the farm, only to have it negatively impacted when hoof-and-mouth disease breaks out among ranches in their area of Texas. Interesting concept with the disease, but it is not by an means that particularly interesting film. Sad to say, it is forgettable. Douglas and Patricia Neal, who plays the housekeeper on the farm, received Oscars for their performances, although only Douglas I would say deserved his (and it is not anywhere as good as his performance in "Being There" which netted him another Oscar). Newman's performance is completely forgettable. A disappointment, despite the nice photography.

Watch on the Rhine
½

Okay war film in which a family, which includes husband and wife Paul Lukas and Bette Davis, respectively, of their return to the United States from Germany, in the early stages of World War II. When they return, the two conceal a secret that the husband is an agent who is on a spy mission in the USA. At once a very effective movie from the 1940's, this movie, which once again contains an Oscar winning performance (that being Paul Lukas), has lost its luster. It could have been a great drama, but instead it underwhelms because there is too much dialogue for the viewer to handle. It's unfortunate and a bit of a letdown to see stars, such as Davis, not be in a great movie and one that has not aged well. The performances and score are the virtues to "Watch on the Rhine."

Young Man With a Horn

Peculiar, mainly unknown drama about a trumpet player (Kirk Douglas) who plays with a band to whom he does not like his boss and finds interest in an attractive singer (Doris Day). He quits his band, taking the piano player (Hoagy Carmichel) along with him so that he can concentrate more heavily on his music and his woman. They begin to fall in love, only to be interrupted by a friend of Day's character, a mysterious, sexy doctor (Lauren Bacall), to whom he eventually weds. Strange, compelling drama that is quite odd, but succeeds thanks to the big band music and good performances by Bacall and Douglas. It is notable film, because of what happens in the second half with Bacall, where it is implied she is a lesbian. Certain terms to describe Bacall's lesbianism that Douglas uses, such carnival side show, are definitely not used today. Fairly underrated movie with an odd outcome.

The Three Faces of Eve
½

A woman, Eve (Joanne Woodward), is on the verge of her marriage disintegrating thanks to her mental problems, particularly schizophrenia. Her uncaring husband (David Wayne) brings her to a doctor (Lee J. Cobb) to cure of her of her psychological predicament. This results in her husband leaving her, taking the kids to Florida, as well as Eve finding a new man herself. When you look at other films dealing with schizophrenia, such as Hitchcock's "Psycho," they treat with fascinating and entertaining results. This one is just too simple in its treatment for the disease and the film is than enveloped by corniness. This includes Woodward's way over-the-top Oscar winning performance. Again, it is a film that tries, with some success, but mainly in a ridiculous and sometimes unintentionally funny way.

Sounder
Sounder(1972)
½

During the days of the Great Depression, an African-American family in Louisiana barely gets through the days. The father, Nathan Lee (Cecil Winfield) is so desperate to get food for his family, that he and his son David Lee (Kevin Hooks) hunt for raccoons... and fail, which leads to him stealing a loaf of bread from another residences. He gets caught and as they haul him away, their dog, Sounder, chases after them and is shot in the face, of which he runs away to what we assume to his death. This leaves the mother (Cicely Tyson) raising the children and running their small farm all by themselves, with Kevin searching for both his dog and his the prison camp to where his father has been sent. Although it seems surprising that Sounder returns to the family, this movie shows a unique perspective of African-Americans just getting by during the early 1930's. It is not big on continuously slamming the black people, but just showing their way living poor life and thankfully getting through. The characters are likable, and the acting is generally quite good. As well, the directors are able to successfully chronicle the roughness of the time period by placing the viewer back into the 1930's. Worth the watch for movie buffs.

Ostre Sledované Vlaky (Closely Watched Trains)
½

A young man (Vaclav Neckar) becomes a platform worker for trains arriving into his small town, during the days of World War II. He becomes immersed into the bizarre activities of Nazi's who seem want to take over the town. Then, he and a co-worker scheme to destroy a train that is loaded with German artillery and explosives. Several critics have noted this film is overrated, including Leonard Maltin, and I am afraid to say, I agree. It's got a pretty good ending and some interesting sequences, but there is just too much talking. That unfortunately tarnishes the overall effectiveness of this potentially compelling film. A slight disappointment!

Field of Dreams

Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) lives on a farm with his wife (Amy Madigan) and begins to hear voices that persuade him to build a baseball diamond over his corn crops to attract legendary now deceased players. Surprisingly it does, but in the Kinsella's imaginations and reality takes over real life situations, such as their unpaid mortgage. Yet, he still persuades him to fulfill this voice's answer, evening travelling far to find a novelist (James Earl Jones) and a doctor (Burt Lancaster), who is supposed to be deceased. The second of two consecutive years in which Costner was in a film revolving around baseball (the first being Bull Durham), this film is excessive in the sentimental department. It is so sucky and so good natured, that it becomes forgettable and barfy. It tries, it really does, but it is just so gooey and overly sweet. Oddly, the overlook of the crops give me a weird reminder a watching a totally irrelevant film, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Pretty goofy movie.

Bull Durham
Bull Durham(1988)

Engaging baseball movie where two baseball players vie to be among the top players of the same team. Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh (Tim Robbins) begins a strange friendship with "Crash" Davis (Kevin Costner), as well as physical relationship with a cougar (Susan Sarandon). Crash coaches Nuke on how to become a better pitcher for the team, but his playing skills as a back catcher begin to falter. In addition, Nuke's relation with his woman begins to decline in quality when it is determined that to be a better player, who cannot have sex. Although not as good as it could be, this comedy/drama is saved by Susan Sarandon's lusty, fun performance, as well as Robbin's support. Perhaps this is a good thing, Costner's character's unpleasant attitude gets a taste of his own medicine when management begins to full criticize his playing skills. It's too bad about the ending, and I don't mean it any bad way.

Rocco and His Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli)

Excellent Luschino Visconti movie about young man named Rocco (Alain Deloin), his three brothers, and mother (Katina Paxinou) who move from the countryside to the city after the father passes away. Another brother (Spiros Focas) just becomes engaged to an attractive woman (Claudia Cardinale) and helps his siblings and mother get an apartment, rather than stay with him in his cramped place. He even assists on them in getting jobs, but what really intrigues several of the brothers is boxing, particularly Rocco. This makes another one of the brothers, Simone (Renato Salvatori), quite jealous because he is also a boxer and it cause a stir between them. To make matters worse, a prostitute (Annie Garardot), intervenes in the brothers' lives, which eventually leads to tragedy. The movie is told in episode like form, with five sections split among the five brothers. Superbly shot and acted, with the set pieces making the movie almost real life to the viewer. One of the great films of Italy and another great film from 1960!

Sex, Lies, and Videotape
½

A housewife (Andie McDowall) is concerned over her sex life with her husband (Peter Gallagher) and for the right reasons. He, a lawyer, is having an affair with her sister (Laura San Giacoma) behind the wife's back. Interestingly, a college friend (James Spader) of the husband moves into the area, with a relatively perverted job of filming females taking about sex, performing self-conflicting sexual acts, and then masturbating to them. The housewife and the college friend end up hooking up. Very slow and really absorbing movie of the strange intimacy diversions among four individuals. Though the pace is snail like, it's an incredibly thorough examination of a sterile love life that gone to the pits. Interestingly despite the title, you never any cast member in the film fully nude. What I found also interesting is the husband had an affair on McDowall's character, a much more attractive individual than San Giacoma's character. Perhaps it was the voice, because my dad has said that is a turnoff for him of Andie McDowell's.

Lilies of the Field
½

Dated, but decent story of an African-American handyman (Sidney Poitier) who stumbles onto a convent in the middle of the desert. His intent is to stay one night with at the convent, run by five German nuns, but they end up taking advantage of him by putting his skills towards building a church. Oddly, he reluctantly does so, even though the head nun (Lilia Skala) doesn't really treat him with much respect. "Lilies of the Field" was probably much more effective back in 1963, but now it has kind of fallen into the background. It isn't terrible. It's just not great mainly because it is silly. Poitier's performance is likable enough, however, to carry through the film.

Shoeshine (Sciuscià)
½

Two young children (Pacifico Astrologo and Franco Interlenghi) work as shoe shiners in order to buy a high calibre race horse. Unfortunately, they end up arrested after being accused for scamming a fortune teller, of which they end up being sellers for their counterparts, for which they do not know of their misconduct. They are sent to juvenile detention and their friendship becomes significantly strained when the patrolmen of the facility gets one of them to be a spy and successfully get the other to admit to the crime for which neither initially committed. One of Vittorio de Sica's earliest films, this one still retains its effect around 65 years later. Sad, realistic, and unfair, and also, the film is very underrated. Another very good movie by the director, with powerful performances by both Astrologo and Interlenghi.

Killer of Sheep
½

Most films that I have seen lately dealing with racism have been fairly pretentious and quite annoying. Thankfully, this one stands out. Documentary like, "Killer of Sheep" is an observation on African-Americans living in the slums of Los Angeles. One man (Henry J. Sanders) works at a slaughterhouse to support his family that struggles to maintain themselves in society. The wife (Kaycee Moore) is so desperate to look good, that it affects the relationship between the husband and herself along with their kids. Uniquely filmed in black-and-white, what I believe the director, Charles Burnett, successfully does is making the characters look as poor as one can imagine. Colour would not leave as gritty an impact if this film were be enveloped in that type of photography. Definitely, the script captures the characters types of dialogue, even if the "n" word is often used. One flaw with the film: the score interferes with the sound and it is hard to hear what the characters are saying at times. However, really interesting movie!

Ray
Ray(2004)
½

Ray Charles, one of the greatest singers of all time, is chronicled in a decent autobiography through thirty year period of his life (approximately 1948 to 1978). The film shows him recording some of his greatest hits, including the number ones "Hit the Road Jack," "I Can't Stop Loving You," and "Georgia on My Mind." Included in the film are a number of his recordings, originally sung by the master but also sung by the actor portraying him, Jaime Foxx. I would not call that good of a film based on several reasons. One, I think Foxx was too muscular to be an appropriately replica of the famed, blind singer. Two, I found the flashback sequences to his childhood to be distracting and odd. Finally, the movie seemed fairly to downbeat at times, portraying Charles too negatively. I think this film could have been done a whole letter, but I am not sure how. I also think that the Best Actor winner for the year 2004 should have been either Leonardo di Caprio for "The Aviator," Clint Eastwood for "Million Dollar Baby," or Don Cheadle for "Hotel Rwanda." Foxx, I am afraid, was the wrong recipient, although it is not a bad performance, just an okay one.

L' Argent de Poche (Pocket Money) (Small Change)

Minor, but effective Francois Truffait movie of a various children within a Paris superb. There is no consistent story within the film, just sequences of observations of young ones in Paris, although one child that is often seen is one that has no known home or family what-so-ever. Even though it is episodic, there are several scenes that are very memorable. Take one in which a young girl is stranded in an apartment, and she calls out for help. The neighbours around the courtyard of which she makes her voice heard rush to her aid, sending up food (and wine) in order to feed her. This is kind of interesting communication and response process. Another interesting scene is an infant who tries to get a cat that has fallen out of a window, with his mother in the other room. He is too young to realize the dangers of crawling onto the sill and also falls out of the window. Although everything is okay, that segment is particularly gripping. Not one Truffait's best, but none-the-less, another good one by him.

Stop Making Sense

It has to be said that before viewing this film, I really had no idea what to expect since I was not familiar with the band "The Talking Heads." What may be more surprising is how astounded I was by the whole the 88 minutes of their three day concert in Hollywood that just rolled on by. Unlike typical concert films, this one is just pretty much continuous footage of this group performing their songs, including title tune, with no plot line what-so-ever. This maybe the best film from 1984. Tremendously riveting concert film that needs no additional storyline or corruption or background footage to succeed. The movie is essentially the members of the famous, unique rock band performing their songs, and wow, they are excellent performances. The instruments are very unique, the costumes are cool, the ladies are hot, and the singing is incredibly good. A must for any movie, documentary, and music (everything in general, not just rock or punk or new wave) buff!

The Shop On Main Street (Obchod na Korze)
½

In a small town in Czechoslovakia, a relatively lazy, dumb carpenter (Josef Kroner) becomes employed at a button shop run by an old Jewish woman (Ida Kaminska). They begin a simple, close friendship, sort of like a mother-son bond. Unfortunately, the Nazi's come into there small community and begin to classify and round-up the Jewish residents. As well, the carpenter is torn between protecting the old lady or being greedy, by reporting her to the authorities and taking ownership of the shop. Strange, both funny and sad, and surprising intense story of Nazi occupation in an essentially a developing town of Czechoslovakia. Slow at times, but very absorbing and ends quite tragically and in a relatively unexpected manner. Once again, another foreign language film that was beautifully shot in black-and-white.

Suspiria
Suspiria(1977)

A young American (Jessica Harper) heads to Germany for ballet school, one of which has some haunting happenings. The night after she arrives, she and the other students learn that a student who left the previous night was viciously murdered, along with a friend of the student, by an unknown assailant. This puts everyone on edge, and unfortunately for them, others in the establishment start meeting similar fates. At the beginning of the movie, there is one very savage, scary murder scene, and there is some really interesting use of colour within the film throughout. Unfortunately, the plot between the scares, along with the acting, is pretty limp. Performances are fairly wooden, and this does not compare to other horror films of the decade, such as "Halloween," "Alien," and "The Exorcist." Also, I found the ending to be very rushed and pretty silly. Sadly, a very second rate horror film.

Viridiana
Viridiana(1961)
½

A young nun (Silvia Pinal) goes to live with her uncle (Fernando Rey), who develops a sick love for her. Allegedly, he robs her of her virginity, screwing her as a nun. The nun refuses to comply with any further requests and in order to prove his seriousness for her, he hangs himself in a tree in the yard. As a result of his death, she takes in a whole bunch of hostile homeless people into the home, and the place becomes a scene of chaos. Strange, funny, odd, and compulsively peculiar movie adds to the list unique subject matters directed by Luis Bunuel. Very risky to bring in incest within a movie from the early 1960's, which definitely stupefied a few critics. Once again, another foreign language that was beautiful photographed in black-and-white, with nice set pieces to complement the images.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini)

A high society club, operated by the Finzi-Continis, in which teenagers often frequent and play tennis, among other activities, is thrown astray in the days leading up to World War II. It seems, those with Jewish blood are being rounded and classified by the government, run by Mussolini. One storyline involves an individual (Lino Capolicchio), the son in the Finzi-Continis, has been barred from the library and attending school, even despite his intelligence. As well, his girlfriend (Dominique Sanda) dumps and moves to another place, hooking up with a soldier. Eventually, all of the family members are exiled from Italy, either moving on own terms and transported out by the Nazi's. Though not one of Vittorio de Sica's best, this is still an interesting and sad film that shows the youths exclusively as the victims of Adolph Hitler's reign of terror in the 1930's and 1940's. A little slow at times, but very well shot and in beautiful colour.

Babel
Babel(2006)

In Morocco, two children obtain their father's gun and begin to shoot objects with it. They decide to head over to an arid hillside, in which there is aim is a bus on a lonely, steep stretch of highway, with little belief they can successfully hit it. They do, severely wounding an American passenger (Cate Blanchett), in which her husband (Brad Pitt) must find a way to get them to a hospital in very remote part of the nation. The two boys end up on the run from the authorities. In the U.S.A., the American couple's kids are being cared for a nanny (Adrianna Brazza) who ends up bringing them across the border into Mexico for her son's wedding. Their trip eventually goes awry while coming back into America. Finally, in Japan, a deaf mute (Rinko Kikuchi) strives to get a man. Oddly, her father's gun was the one used in Morocco shooting. Sort of like "Crash" released the year before, only much better, this strange story is about victims of circumstance, not of intended crimes. As well, it examines how small a world people live, of which four different countries connect in two or three story lines. Pretty interesting from start to finish, with generally god performances. One notable flaw is incompleteness with Mexican storyline, in which we, as viewers, don't know what happens to the nephew (Gael Garcia Bernal), and I don't think that was intended. As well, that storyline also ends kind of overly and unfairly sour for the nanny.

Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d'un curé de campagne)

Absolutely stunning account of a priest (Claude Laydu) who has an assortment of problems to deal with in his life. First, he is unable to communicate with those to which he serves in the community, leaving him to become inferior to everyone he knows. Two, those in the community feel that he is inconsistent with his help and support, leading to significant contentions between the townspeople and himself. Finally, his health, of which his constant diet of wine and bread is leading to a serious deterioration in his strength, well-being, and his ability to work. He finally decides to leave to go and live with his brother, who will aid to him until he succumbs to his illness. Emotionally draining and perplexing drama that may be one of the greatest movies to involve priests. Laydu is superb as the priest that consumed in pain, loneliness, and frustration. A truly masterful work!

Pixote (Pixote: A Lei do Mais Fraco)
½

Pretty shocking and alarming documentary of a young boy (Fernando Ramos De Silva) who is abandoned by his parents and ends up in a really rough juvenile detention centre. Within this compound, he strives to get out in which those running the facility torture and even kill his young prison mates if they step out of line in any sort. Befriending obviously the wrong people, he and several others succeed at escaping the centre, only getting into the life of drugs, prostitution, and sadly, murder. Painful and effective examination of kid with no emotions whose future has little to no hope. Seriously graphic at times, especially several of the sequences in which the kid ends killing and or seriously hurting others within the film. This film really works, but word of caution: it may be too much for some people.

Fitzcarraldo
Fitzcarraldo(1982)
½

Captivating chronicle of a man named Fitzcarraldo (Klaus Kinski) who wants to change his business interests from a now bankrupt railroad venture to building an opera house, to suit his love of the music, in the isolated mountains of Peru. To do this, he rounds up a crew of individuals to be part of his massive vessel, purchased by a wealthy brothel owner (Claudia Cardinale), which he will use to get up the Ucayali River (a tributary of the Amazon). As the journey commences, problems and tensions mount, including the voyage into the jungle with tribes that could or could not be blood thirsty, as well dragging the massive vessel across a hill from one body of water to another. Fascinating spectacle with an unusual pairing of Cardinale and Kinski in one movie, with wonderful photography and sense of being part of the actual spectacle. Herzog's films are always bizarre, and thankfully, always interesting, especially this one. He must of loved South America, since he did at least two films down there (the other being the great "Aguirre: Wrath of God" released in 1972).

Tristana
Tristana(1970)

Corrupt story of a nun (Catherine Denueve) who joins a church school, catering specifically to special children, in a small Spanish town (Deneuve, who is originally French, had her voice dubbed Spanish into within the movie). When she joins, she is hit on by the main priest (Fernando Rey, also dubbed) of the church, and they begin discreet affair. Unfortunately, the nun begins enveloped in a tragic illness, for which she loses her leg as a result. Amusing and odd story, with signature Bunuel direction and humour. Though not his best, it is still intriguing, peculiar study of an evil congregation under the master.

Touchez Pas au Grisbi (Hands Off the Loot)

Two organized crime members, an aging gangster (Jean Gabin) and his friend (Rene Dary), scheme to rob a casino of gold bars. Everything goes according to plan, but sadly, one of the friends is kidnapped by enemy gangsters, which involves a new clause for an exchange of gold bars for the friend's life with the rival criminals. Though the film is slow at times, the pay-off at the end is very strong, as well as the black-and-white photography used throughout at the movie. It could have been so good had there been more action and less chatting during the middle part, but thankfully the payoff is strong. The relatively skimpy female dancers at the beginning at quite a nice surprise as well.

Okuribito (Departures)
½

After losing his job as a cellist for an orchestra in Tokyo, Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) and his wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) move back to his home in the interior of Japan. As such, he looks for a job and gets a well-paying one as an individual who gives respect or prepares those who have just died. He at first disdains the job but ends up keeping it, which for some reason is resented by the towns' people, and to whom he keeps this a secret from his wife, of which she eventually finds out due to some bizarre, humorous tapes. Daigo also gains a better understanding of life, and remembering back to his happy childhood, wondering what did become of his father after he left his family when he was very young. Both funny and powerful, this slow-paced movie is a memorable character study on an individual, as well as informative film one on a career type that I had never really hurt of. I find it ironic that people declare this career as disgusting, since they are the ones who hired Daigo and his company to perform the act of preparing the deceased individual. Nicely composed story, with very nice photography to spare. Incidentally, actor Motoki has some sort of defining age thing going. The actor is in his mid-40's here, but he really looks like someone who is still in his 20's.

Badlands
Badlands(1974)
½

Holly Sargis (Sissy Spacek) is lonely, South Dakota girl who becomes intrigued by an off-beat individual, Kit Carruthers (Martin Sheen). They begin to see each other in secrecy, only to be found out by Holly?s father (Warren Oates), who bars her from any contact with the man. This does not come off well for Kit, who ultimately breaks into their home and shoots the father dead. They then take as many belongings as they can, burn the house down, and run away together, living in the woods, until they are found out by bounty hunters, which ultimately leads to further murder. Slow, very absorbing break-through movie for Terence Mallick is very well done, and does not, like ?Days of Heaven,? indulge in the beautiful scenery for support in the plot and drag on in sequences. Sad and poignant, with interesting performances by both Spacek and Sheen. This was based on a true story of a couple an adult and teen that go on a blood thirsty and the female of the couple is still alive and ending up being released in 1976 (her companion was executed the year they were captured). Also, like many others have pointed, this seems more so like a modern day ?Bonnie and Clyde.?

L'Avventura
L'Avventura(1960)
½

A mystery begins on a deserted island: Anna is a nearly secluded, disappointed female who has lost interest in her life and begins to show signs of losing interest in her boyfriend, Sandro, along with her associates. One summer day, a group of them travel to some rock islands off the coast of Italy, where everything seems fine until land on this one fair sized. Anna's best friend, Claudia, notices after a while that Anna has disappeared. A full scale search of the island by her friends yields nothing and the police are quickly notified. There is now suspect that she did not kill herself by jumping into the Mediterranean rather cast off with the some fisherman, who were also on the island at the same time, ultimately allowing her run away. Both Sandro and Anna begin trace the path Anna has possibly taken, leading to nowhere, except an affair between the missing's two closest ones. Strange, haunting, and disturbing story that is fascinating and sexy from start to finish, and concludes with a very open ending. Very well-acted and beautifully shot.

Das Boot
Das Boot(1981)
½

During a party at the height of World War II, a captain (Jurgen Prochnow) is assigned to a U-boat, along with a very inexperienced crew to the Atlantic Ocean with objective to sink freighters traversing the waters. These crew members have no idea what they are in for as the go into the Atlantic Ocean. Mainly the film, of which I watched the Wolfgang Peterson's director's cut of 209 minutes, chronicles a journey of submarine that has the intent sinking supply ships going between North America and Europe. However, these ships are part of arm convoys, known in the film as "destroyers," that aim to sink these German underwater seacrafts. Very intense film in which silence is the key to fright and patience leads to essentially explosions. Scary, to say the least! I will admit, though, some of the characters and situations are little annoying, especially the ones that are girl hungry. The tragic ending is a knockout, especially considering where the disaster occurs. A film that has aged well and looks good on the big-screen.

Angst Essen Seele auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul)
½

In a rather racist, discriminate Germany, an older woman (Brigette Mara) sits a bar one night and meets a black man (El Hedi ben Salem), who is native to Morocco and much younger than her. They begin an unusual, intimate relationship for which she begins to fall in love with him and he begins demonstrate a reflective interest in the romance...although the question is if he actually loves her or not. They end of getting married, much to the opposition of the woman's children who despise the sudden commitment and break off ties with her. The women's friends and co-workers also despise the relationship and shun both of them as a result. Quiet and emotionally stirring drama that boasts very good performances by both Mara and Salem. Story turns sad when we discover that Salem's character is not totally committed to the relationship. Another really nice film by Fassbender.

Prizzi's Honor
½

Jack Nicholson plays a hit-man for the Prizzi family, a powerful and violent group of mobsters, who falls in love with an enemy's ex or possibly current wife (Kathleen Turner and were not sure what her position is at this point). At the same time, he discards a Prizzi (Anjelica Houston) for this woman, who still loves him. Despite their differences, the hit-man and the wife begin a sultry affair, eventually wedding, despite the fact that she is also a person who launches out hits for her mob. Gets really interesting after that. Although, a little overlong, the film is both intriguing and funny, with Nicholson's sarcasm showing in a relatively different performance than usual. The best performance, however, is by Angelica Huston, the director John Huston's daughter, who is really good as the granddaughter of the Prizzi leader (William Hickey). A fine film for John Huston late in his career.

The Long Goodbye

In what seems like a more modern take on the classic Raymond Chandler story, Philip Marlowe (Elliot Gould) is a sloppy drunk who owns a cat and stumbles onto a strange mystery of what happened to friend of his. It is thought that this friend (Jim Bouton) had left for Mexico and was ultimately murdered. In addition, he also run off with a pile of money for which a gangster and his associates are trying to collect, for which they go to Marlowe as a result. In addition, Marlowe becomes acquainted with a wife (Nina Van Pallandt), who is looking for her alcoholic husband. One it comes to Philip Marlowe, no one compares to Humphrey Bogart's portrayal in "The Big Sleep," yet this one still works thanks to its strange, disorienting storyline and the surprise ending. Gould is decent as Marlowe, but he is outdone by the supporting cast members. Note: look for Schwarzenegger in an amusing, un-credited cameo as a bodybuilder guard for the corrupt gangster Marlowe is facing during a meeting.

Mahanagar (The Big City) (The Great City)
½

Very underrated Satyajit Ray movie, for which a housewife, who has completed her post-secondary education, wants to get a job in a consulting firm. Her husband disapproves and wants to stay at home wife the kids and his parents while he works, causing her to suffer while at the same time enjoying her challenging job. At the same, the husband's job as a bookkeeper is in jeopardy because the bank that he works for unexpectedly closes, with him being the scapegoat in the situation. Compelling, fascinating story of cultural perspectives of people living in a major city of India (the major city is never disclosed during Mahanagar). Certainly an incredible amount of opposition portrayed in this movie against Indian woman employed in the workforce. Another well-made movie by Bengali master Ray.

The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie)

Three fairly wealthy couples are trying to have dinner with each other, but for various reasons, there plans are often interrupted by an unforeseen event. One situation includes an Ambassador (Fernando Rey) who is being sought by terrorist who are attempting to kill him, only to confront his killer and let her get way. Another situation involves the three wives (Stephane Audren, Delphine Seyrig, Bulle Ogier) who sit down and try to have drink, only to be interrupted by a handsome, yet corrupt young soldier, who tells his utterly graphic story of being in the military. There are also sequences of affairs between the ambassador and the wives, as well as when they are arrested and another one where they are killed by set of terrorists. Portions of the film are reality while other portions are dreams. Who really knows what happened, but oh boy was this a riot to watch. Highly original, hilarious movie that moves at a breathtaking face with several wonderful, bizarre sequences that cannot be forgotten. Everyone, especially Rey, is excellent, along with the superb set pieces to add to the many great aspects of this crazy movie.

Blazing Saddles

Frantic, fairly racist comedy for which black cowboys and white cowboys co-exist in the dessert while building a railway. One black cowboy (Cleavon Little) becomes a victim of discrimination by a small town and then becomes sheriff, establishing an alliance with an alcoholic gunslinger (Gene Wilder). Meanwhile, a wealthy Texan (Harvey Corman) wants to continue on with the project, I think, to get rich, while his associates engage in sultry affairs. Pretty crude, strange, a lot of utterances of "n" word, but also funny and even in its awkward pacing, it progresses well. Falls into the same category as "Airplane," which is not a clever comedy, but an insane one to spark enough intrigue and attention by me.

Moneyball
Moneyball(2011)
½

Very well made baseball movie for which a manager, Billy Beanne (Brad Pitt), wants to develop a team for the Oakland Athletics that will bring them out of their losing streak. Beanne himself has had his own losing streak, being recruited at a young age by a major league baseball team, only to not succeed in the end. He wants to change his strategy by first recruiting an individual (Jonah Hill) who can predict the success of various baseball players, although this is met with steep opposition by his committee, especially by one stakeholder the Athletics' manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The strategy does not begin to well, but takes a really sideways turn when Beanne begins to trade his players to other teams. I suppose would call this predictable, but really does work as a movie. Pitt is very good as the down-on-his-luck, and for that matter superstitious manager, while Hill is amusing as the sort-of confident doe-eyed forecaster. The fifth film I have seen from 2011 nominated for Best Picture and I liked it better than all of the others I have seen thus far.

Klute
Klute(1971)
½

When a friend of his disappears (and suspected to be the victim of a homicide) in New York City, Detective Gruneman (Donald Sutherland) heads to "The Big Apple" to determine what happened to his wealthy friends. He stumbles onto a paranoid prostitute (Jane Fonda) who seems to fear something and perhaps conceals several secrets that may help the detective to determine what happened to his friend. The prostitute also continues with her duties and focuses on her grimy clientele. Even despite being stuck in the period for which it was released, this mystery film still retains its intrigue in a weird hip, art-like sort of way. Sutherland puts on a very good performance as the detective while Fonda, whom I have only seen in really irritating roles prior to this one, is quite fine. Quite a well-made suspense film.

Pygmalion
Pygmalion(1938)

The predecessor to the musical "My Fair Lady," with no singing what-so-ever. Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller) is an individual that lacks any social etiquette and only means of life is by selling flowers to support her and her father (Wilfred Lawson). A rich professor (Leslie Howard) finds her fascinating and decides to her on as a project in which he coaches to speak and act properly in front of other people (as well as give her bath in order to cure her personal hygiene issues). Just as good as "My Fair Lady" from 1964, but thankfully shorter and perhaps slightly better. It is hard not to compare the performances between "Pygmalion" and "My Fair Lady," but I think Rex Harrison was better than Howard, but I think Hiller was quite a bit better than Audrey Hepburn. Pretty good and surprisingly fun.

The Longest Day
½

Riveting war film chronicling the invasion of Normandy during World War II in 1944. There are a number of points of view during the movie. One that shows the Germans' perspective, for which they demonstrate some concern, but are also fairly positive that they can resist this takedown. Another perspective by the French, for which Normandy is obviously located, shows their worry of the overall operations. Then, there is the one of the English, who is closely associated with the United States in their operations. Finally, the United States' point of view, for which we find most of the all-star cast, including John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, and many, many other stars. They enter Normandy with leadership conflict, fear, and enthusiasm. Despite its length, the movie is compelling from start to finish. One of its assets is the fact that sections revolving both the Germans and French personnel are in their respective language with English subtitles, rather than just in English. As well, we also get all these perspectives as the film unfolds and the beginning of the movie does not start out with the American perspective, but the German. The battle scenes are also very good. Could have been potentially bad, as it is around 50 years old, but ended being really well done.

It Happened One Night
½

Fun, fluid comedy for which an heiress (Claude Colbert) escapes a ship and eventually lands herself on a bus up the East Coast. On the bus, she meets a generally unpleasent newspaper personnel (Clark Gable) to which they end up stranded together along side the road, even after the heiress' belongings are stolen. For some reason, even despite the pairing not liking one another, they determine a way to get up the East Coast, even spending a night together to which their relationship begins to materialize into love. Funny, well-scripted, and well-acted, Capra's "It Happened One Night" purpose was to make people laugh and he has succeeded nearly eight decades later. Notable as well for taking home the Big Five Academy Awards, for which it deserved I would say. A delightful film.

The Marriage of Maria Braun (Die Ehe der Maria Braun)

The Second World War has come to close leaving Germany in complete shambles. Maria Braun (Hanna Schygulla) is totally poor, living with her parents and sister, and is convinced her husband is deceased, leading her to date an obese African-American soldier. However, one night when Maria and the soldier are about to engage in coitus, the husband returns and they end up accidently killing the soldier. He takes the blame for the wrongdoing and goes to jail for the murder. Afterwards, she takes a train and runs into a wealthy businessman, in which the man hires her to become his assistant...and mistress. Essentially afterwards, Maria sleeps her way to the top of the company. Fascinating, compelling, richly filmed drama that successfully at displaying that when people are so desperate that they will use sex as a weapon and succeed...in this case highly. Schygulla is excellent as the title character (sadly, she was not nominated for an Oscar). Brilliant chronicle of people in post-war Germany.

The Dirty Dozen

Lee Marvin plays a general that wants that leads a pack of crooked criminals, who strike a plea deal to engage in a mission to kill Germans in order to avoid lengthy jail sentences or a death sentence for their misconduct. Their training involves continuous, grueling training sessions, as well as a drill to enact the mission. I am not sure what to think about this film. I really don't know what to say. I found the story compelling and engaging, but I found most of the characters repellent (especially Marvin and John Cassavetes'), unlikable, and a little unrealistically disturbing. I also found the movie choppy and the ending scene seemed just beyond unbelievable (and pretty depressing). Was not a big fan of this war film!

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Another Woody Allen movie with multiple stories that are staggering different: in one, Allen plays a man who wants to broadcast a documentary to the world, but is triumphed by a cocky, self-indulgent ignorant superior (Alan Alda). Allen confides to two people for his problem: one, his young niece to whom he watches movies religiously with; and two, a producer (Mia Farrow), of which he begins to fall for. The other story revolves around a married doctor (Martin Landau), who is engaging in an affair with a hysterical woman (Angelica Huston) that wants to rendezvous with him again. He also confides in a friend, stating that he wants to get rid of her, and sadly, those plans materialize with fatal results. Though the characters are as flat as the Canadian Prairies, the story is interesting enough for me to overlook this fault (a number of critics have pointed out this flaw, some consider it damaging to the film). An unusual comedy that contains Allen's usual wit and intelligence.

The Dead
The Dead(1987)

Confusing, yet interesting and perplexing at times, "The Dead" is one of John Huston's more unusual films. The movie is taken place in Ireland and involves the gathering of a family in mid-sized farm house, which includes characters played by Angelica Huston, Don McCann, Dan O'Herlily, and Patrick Gallagher, among others. I am little unsure what was going on many of the times, but the movie seemed like a mourning process for several relatives who have passed and the recollections of them through several stories told by the various characters. The script is actually rather good, mostly in poetic form, along with the filmmaking, which establishes a sort of haunting, foggy atmosphere. Again, I wasn't sure what was going on, but it is worth the watch, especially since it is famed director Huston's final film.

Risky Business
½

When his parents go to visit relatives in Florida, high school senior Joel Goodman (Tom Cruise) is left in his him all alone. He has yearning to become free spirited, intensely focused on taking wild risks and oh boy, he does. Joel scans through the personal ads in the newspaper and finds a prostitute (Rebecca De Mornay). That is when his relatively uninteresting life takes an extraordinarily wild turn, one to which may be too overwhelming for him (it would certainly be overwhelmingly for me!). Surprisingly good, fun, very amusing comedy that has full rounded actors and moves at a quick pace. Cruise, in one of his very first roles, if not at least his first starring role, is really, really good. It is so far the best film I have seen with him, in fact. Really enjoyable movie, one that should be viewed by all teenagers.

Exotica
Exotica(1994)

Odd, sad movie in which a strip club is the main focal point a small town, containing several different stories that are told in backwards chronology. One story involves a man (Bruce Greenwood) hiring a babysitter for his household which contains no children so that he can go to the strip club. Another story involves a young homosexual man (Don McKellar) that is being audited by the same individual who compulsively heads to the club. The homosexual also attends the club quite often. Finally, one of the strippers dislikes her position at the club, because of a murder of a stripper several years before, which causes conflicts between her and the DJ. Compelling, slow moving drama takes a generally thorough look at those who work and/or attend the strip club, which is general well-acted by all the cast members. Thankfully, unlike two other high profile stripper related films released around the same time, which BOMBED at the box office and with critics ("Striptease" and "Showgirls"), this one offers a very human look and not an excruciating nor humourous portrayal at the issues surrounding this type of locale.

Ninotchka
Ninotchka(1939)
½

Decent, somewhat disappointing iconic comedy in which three Russians want to sell jewelry possessed at the end of the Russian Revolution (which was in 1917). Their plans are thwarted when the jewelry owner's husband (Melvyn Douglas) comes to retrieve it, which in response, the Russians bring in their own representative (Greta Garbo), a stern, uptight national, to intervene. This results in a strange love affair between Garbo and Douglas. Some scenes are funny within this film, but like many other comedies during this era, time has taken off a portion of the fun. Garbo is the most memorable of the cast members.

Missing
Missing(1982)

Genuinely informative drama in which several American reporters are caught up in state of political unrest in Chile, for which the streets are flooded with soldiers who will kill anyone who disobeys the nightly curfew. Unfortunately, their presence in the nation turns in tragic when one of the reporters, Charles Horman (John Shea) is suspected to be kidnapped and in great danger. His father (Jack Lemmon) flies down to accompany Horman's wife (Sissy Spacek) in the search for their loved one, of which turns out to be a depressing, unsatisfying struggle, especially due to the personality conflicts between Spacek and Lemmons' characters. It is little underwhelming in terms of story and suspense, but it shows political instability in nation that I thought didn't have as a many problems as other nations in South America (Argentina being one of them with regards to the Falkland Island crisis). There are is also some intensity to it, since the characters were usually in great danger themselves. It is actually a true story as well, one which tragically remains unsolved today.

Of Mice and Men
½

Highly underrated movie in which two migrant workers George (Burgess Meredith) and Lennie (Lon Chaney Jr) find work on a farm in Central California during the Depression. Both seem to start out on the right foot while working on the farm, but Lennie's work ethic is poorer than his colleagues due to his mental incapacity. This makes his job much more challenging for him as life progresses and his lack of abilities eventually lead to total tragedy. Heartbreaking, well-filmed movie that has not received the recognition it has deserved in the years since. Very well acted by the entire cast and has aged quite well. A very nice film.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Popular classic in which a young man named Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) replaces a late Senator in the wake of mass corruption in the United States Congress. Through his awkwardly charming personality, he has to face stiff competition for bill as well as a very angry, unlikable superior Senator (Claude Rains). However, Smith is supported for his strange opposing bills, which include that of a National Boy's Camp against a bill to build a damn, by a young group of rambunctious children as well as an attractive news reporter (Jean Arthur). Charming, if silly and strident, movie, helped by a collection of nice performances. Deservedly helped to launch the career of Stewart, one of the greatest actors of all time.

The Song of Bernadette

Slightly dated, but still sporadically fascinating tale, taken place during the 19th century, of a peasant girl (Jennifer Jones) who believes she has direct connections to God. She spreads her belief to those in her town, which draws polarizing reactions from her family, friends, and many others. This includes a political and religious expert (Vincent); and a doctor (Lee J. Cobb), who both seems very interested in examining the behaviour of the young peasant girl. Odd and also a bit lengthy in terms of running time to say the least, but not usually boring. Since it was filmed in black and white photography, that helps the film age better with time, and the imagery is quite intriguing. Jones' performance is adequate as well (although I don't know if it was particularly worthy of the Best Actress Oscar).

High Sierra
High Sierra(1941)

Another film from 1941 (additional to the iconic "The Maltese Falcons") starring Bogart, this film finds the actor as a gangster, who has just been released from prison and has just been recruited by an associate (Donald MacBride) to rob a resort and casino. Another three gangsters (Cornel Wilde, Arthur Kennedy, and Alan Curtis) are also brought into the plan, of which one has a girl (Ida Lupino) to whom Bogart finds intriguing. They eventually fall in love, especially after their associates are killed in a subsequent car accident after the robbery. Typical gangster movie is given power thanks to Bogart; the generally good photography that movie is shot in; and the strong, memorable climax. Sometimes too sentimental, but otherwise quite good.

Gran Torino
Gran Torino(2009)
½

Clint Eastwood is a bigoted widow that lives in a violent neighbourhood that is terrorized by a bunch ethnically composed gangs. This includes a prominent Hoong group, who originate from a region located in southeastern Asia, who want to lure the shy son (Bee Vang) of Eastwood's neighbours into the world of crime. He is reluctant to be part of that, especially when Eastwood catches him trying to steal his antique vehicle. Subsequently, the son and Eastwood become acquainted when Vang makes up for his mistakes and Eastwood attempts to teach him to become a strong-willed man, even despite the corruption with the cruel gang members involved. Eastwood takes a pretty bitter story and spins out yet another compelling film late in his career. He is good as usual, along with all the cast members, including those, such as Vang, who are fresh into their career. Another well-made movie by the master.

Kes
Kes(1969)
½

Depressing and very effective character study about a young boy named Billy (David Bradley) in his final year of school before heading into the working world in lower class England. He has really nothing to go for, and is victim of abuse and bad influences in pretty much every department. The most troubling people in his life are his cruel, older brother, and the disgusting gym teacher. The only way out to escape his cruel, miserable peers is training a falcon, for which he names Kes, and develops a fond relationship with. Not a tale, thankfully, of sentimentality, but more a strong examination of the hardships of life and the unfortunate instances when someone so very young has no one really to turn to for comfort or for positive change. The ending is a real heartbreaker. A truly sad film, but one that also needs to be seen by film fanatics.

Love Affair
Love Affair(1939)

The predecessor to "An Affair to Remember" in 1957, which stars Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, the 1939 film directed by George Cukor and starring Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne is pretty much the same story, only different actors and in black and white. Couple meets on cruise, travel, fall in love, leave previous lovers, but it all comes crashing down when the woman gets hit by a car and is left totally paralyzed from the waste down. Then, she does not want to see her love again because she feels embarrassed. More mediocre than that of sequel and also, more boring. Except the score, nothing really stands out with this drama.

Russian Ark
Russian Ark(2002)

Bizarre foreign film in which the camera is the main narrator to which the viewer sees through his eyes as he walks through a variety of passages in a major hall. "Russian Ark" takes place in the early 1900's, right before the USSR is created, right as a huge ball is about to take place. Through the main character's eyes, he sees joy, sorrow, exuberance, historic art, ballet dancers and much more. He also converses with several of the characters, to whom all have different hardships, ranging from success to frustration to abuse, to which he passes by during his journey through the major hall. Interesting, generally innovative film is one single shot that never breaks once during its 93 minute time period. Definitely some nice art is photographed within the movie. Some may find the film boring, while others will find this involving and opt to go along with it. Perhaps it could have been better, but it was overall a unique experience. There are some strange films out of the Russian film industry.

Modern Times
Modern Times(1936)
½

In this Charlie Chaplin classic, the actor finds himself working in a factory and causing chaos, especially along the production line. He is eventually fired for driving everyone nuts and attempts to find work elsewhere. He does so as an advertiser on the streets, but inadvertently causes a riot and loses his job. Soon after, Chaplin gets into further trouble for being sought out as a thief of a loaf of bread and for some reason, takes the blame even though he doesn't take it, but the charges are eventually dropped thanks to a lovely dame (Paulette Goddard). The two pair up and cause even more chaos for the town and themselves, even despite the fact they are both falling deeply in love with one another. "Modern Times" still retains its magic after seven-and-a-half decades after the initial release, with Chaplin shining thanks to his signature walk and slapstick comedy. The integration of some sound, with none that is from Chaplin himself, also adds to fineness of this movie.

American Gangster

Russell Crowe plays a corrupt cop whose objective is to end the life a drug mafia enveloping New Jersey. At the same, he is in the process of finalizing an ugly divorce and continuing a relationship with his son and balancing his career and relationships with corrupt friends. On the other end, Denzel Washington plays the mastermind behind the massive drug cartel, making millions off of it and keeping it a secret from his family, especially his mother (Rudy Dee), even though he is lavishly spending on everyone. Life for both Crowe and Washington's characters start to spiral out of control and eventually, their two completely different lives collide. Based on a true story, "American Gangster" is an interesting thriller that thoroughly looks at two characters from both sides of the law during the 1970's. Successfully shows the bleak side of the narcotics industry, but I think it could have been better, perhaps because it was too long or flabby. The acting, however, was good and it certainly shows that Ridley Scott has versatility in directing movies. There are two versions: one which is 157 minutes and the other that is 176 minutes, of which extensive nudity is seen, and that is the version I watched.

The Outlaw Josey Wales
½

While Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) is working in his yard one day, his property is stormed by a bunch of cruel, ruthless criminals, who destroy everything and murder both his wife and son. He plots revenge and pretends to be part of the devious pack, only to be eventually singled out as an outsider and at the same time, killing several of the criminals. His namesake is than awarded to him and he becomes a wanted person. Thankfully, he also collects a following to aid his revenge. The movie starts out a bit incoherently for me, but thanks to the action sequences, and incredibly exciting second half, the film triumphs over its weaknesses. This is the mid-range of Eastwood's acting career and early point in his directing career. In both perspectives, it is once again another wonderful film by the master. The ending is particularly satisfying.

Ivan the Terrible, Part II (Ivan Grozniy: Skaz Vmroy - Boyarskiy Zagovor)

The continuation of the strange film saga finds Ivan up to even odder, more sinister activities. Again fight sequences are prominent and same with the strange translated dialogue, but to add to that there are several bizarre dance sequences. In addition, the black and white sequences turn into colour sequences in the later part of the saga, which seem to be immersed in exuberance throughout this portion. As I understand, the film went into production problems when director Sergei Eisenstein died and it was not fully complete, so they had to re-film and add some stuff, resulting in a delay of fourteen years. Very odd, but again, it has to be recognized for its existence and must be viewed by all.

Ivan the Terrible, Part I (Ivan Grozniy)

The first of the two part series finds the beginning of Ivan's career, where he becomes Tsar of Russia and has the intent of unifying the nation. Many spectacular scenes erupt, with battles galore and bizarre, perplexing black and white imagery. Fairly corny, and also a times pretty funny, but also significant for being an unusual tale of the famed Tsar. The dialogue is generally amusing and odd. If you thought Part I was weird, wait until you see Part II.

Forbidden Games (Jeux interdits)
½

Really ugly movie in which a young girl is part of a mass evacuation from the countryside in France along with her parents and dog during World War II. Her parents and dog are killed in gunfire, and she is left alone. The girl wanders away, holding the corpse of dog, and eventually reaches a farm run by simple peasants. She is then taken by the family and begins a close relationship with the younger son. There, they collect dead animals to and take them to an abandoned barn, where they start a mass graveyard that accompanies the girl's deceased dog. Sad situations abound, but very absorbing movie that is filmed quite well and nearly brings tears to my eyes. Mainly compelling from start to finish.

Rachel, Rachel

It is noticeable that "Rachel, Rachel" has fallen into the world of Best Picture nominees forgotten from the 494 that have been nominated so far up to the 84th Academy Awards and for good reason. Pretty ridiculous, super pretentious movie for which Rachel (Joanne Woodward) is a single school teacher, who begins to get hormones and wants change. She obviously needs a man in her life. Hard to believe that anyone would want her in her life based on this performance, including director and husband and actor (not in this film, probably a wise choice), Paul Newman. Silly, stupid, and idiotic sequences that add to the bad films released from 1968 and nominated for Best Picture. Everything is forgettable, especially the performances, some of which were nominated, like Woodward's.

Penny Serenade

Sad film in which a couple (Irene Dunne and Cary Grant) meet, marry, and decide to live in Japan. Dunne becomes impregnated and Grant is about to inherit a fortune from a deceased relative as well initiate a newspaper business, in which life for them seems good. However, that takes a brutal turn in which an earthquake occurs, severely injuring the wife and causing her to miscarriage. This puts the couple in a tragic situation, but soon after they decide to adopt. After several struggles, they finally obtain a young infant. They have their child for several years, until they lose it to an illness, which then ultimately threatens to destroy the couple's marriage. I would like to think a situation like this does not occur often, but director George Stevens does a pretty good job of chronicling a couple that are going through significant hardships. Both Grant and Dunne perform quite well. It is a little slow and overly depressing at times, but it overall, "Penny Serenade" works.

An Unmarried Woman
½

Surprisingly absorbing character study in which Jill Clayburgh plays a happily married housewife and mother in New York City. However, those days of happiness take an ugly turn when her husband confesses to her in having an ongoing affair, of which she dumps him as a result. She then begins to slowly discover herself, finding new men to meet as well seeing a psychologist. In addition, she begins to develop a stronger relationship with her daughter. Clayburgh, whose films have sort of disappeared off the radar, is fine as the betrayed housewife and the film does not trend into sentimentality, as far as I'm concerned. It is never boring and oddly, the cast members are not well known yet they all add fine support to the story. Very good film.

Norma Rae
Norma Rae(1979)
½

Title character Norma Rae (Sally Field) works a sewing mill and has changed positions from seamstress to monitor of duties performed by her colleagues. She soon becomes frustrated with the working conditions of the facilities for which she is part of and becomes intrigued by a union member from the east for wants to help her protest the major issue. Now Norma is at the height of controversy in her small town. The actress, Field, also succeeds at being the height of annoyance perhaps within this film. This is what the Academy deems as Oscar worthy acting? Ugh! The film takes too long to get to get going and when it does, the viewer, me, does not want to watch it. Pretty pretentious, irritating, and forgettable.

Taxi to the Dark Side
½

Tragic documentary that paints a real brutal picture of the U.S. Army during the Afghan War. It seems that during the war between 2002 and 2006, there were a number of scandals that were arising with the detainment and torture of potential war criminals during the early to middle stages of the war. Several of the detainees had subsequently been released and were interviewed to be part of this movie, of which they were actually innocent and had not ties to criminal activities. Others died during the process, including other ones who were innocent. This caused a stir in the U.S. Congress and emphasized how ugly the war was from a completely different angle than the bloodshed and suicide bombings. Certainly defamation to the U.S. Army's character and deservedly so. Sad and very, very effective. Even the soldiers who were involved in the torturing process, either directly or indirectly, were psychologically damaged during this process.

Lacombe Lucien

A young man (Pierre Blaise) wants to be part of the French Resistance during the final stages of World War II. However, he is restricted by the organization and joins the French Gestapo, harassing and arresting individuals who are thought to be against the Germans. He also develops a love affair with a woman who is from the opposite side from him. Pretty compelling movie that fully shows a corrupt young man who obviously has a yearning to kill. Solidly acted and very nice photographed. Sadly, he also loves to kill animals just for the fun of it, especially in the first twenty minutes of the movie. I really not sure if that was needed to show the animals killed and for that, the movie loses points for. Even despite the interesting story, a warning must be issued to viewers with regards to the animal cruelty, which was controversial upon release in 1974.

Sense and Sensibility

Forgettable affair taken place in England in the 1800's, for which a husband dies and leaves a 500 pound inheritance to his wife and three daughters (Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Emile Francois). The rest, which includes some major estate assets, goes to the son and his wife, who take in a friend (Hugh Grant), for which he intrigues both Thompson and Winslet throughout the story. One of the few films that has an incredibly high critics' rating yet I did not care for. Even despite being released in 1995, the movie has already aged awkwardly and the situations, acting, and story are not very memorable. It is also very long and Grant is just irritating. The cinematography is the main virtue to this movie, very little else. There are many better films from 1995 than this.

The Ladykillers
½

A very nice, elderly widow (Katie Johnson) is advertising a room for rent in her home and there she finds a strange, buck-teethed individual (Alec Guinness) to come and be part of her household. He also brings his alleged music posse (Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Hebert Lom, and Cecil Parker) to be part of this household, to which she reluctantly agrees. There, there real criminal side is revealed and they plot the robbing of bank by using the elderly widow as a ploy without her knowing it. They succeed but they also decide to attempt to murder their kind old landlord. Another wonderfully, deliciously dark comedy from the United Kingdom that has stood the test of time, thanks to its script, ironies, and fun story. Everyone deserves credit for success with this film. Really good movie and has a happy ending, I would say!

Kind Hearts and Coronets
½

A jailed duke (Dennis Price) recalls his journey to avenge the accidental death of his mother. Through this, he plots to kill all of his relatives (eight of them played by Alec Guinness). His killing spree journey consists of drowning relative and his mistress, blowing up his employer uncle, poisoning another relative and engaging in affair with his woman (Valerie Hobson), and obviously much, much more. Even though this film is more than six decades old, it still retains it humourous powers. A very funny film with a script that has lost very little effect in the years since its release in 1949. Sellers and Price are very good in their roles and the situations are highly entertaining. Clever concepts and dialogue abound, making this a delightful, worthwhile watch.

Braveheart
Braveheart(1995)
½

One wonders how this movie won Best Picture, especially with all the violence for which it contains. William Wallace (Mel Gibson) wants to fight the English in Scotland, ever since he was a little boy, and especially when his wife is killed. He collects of group of rugged individuals on doing so. I suppose that is essentially the film. The battle scenes and situations start out compelling and entertaining but the quality of the movie declines when just because it overindulges in such battles. Lots of graphic scenes of violence, with tons of battles and excessive bloodshed. Gibson loves his blood splattering and exploding body parts, but it just goes out of control (thankfully not as much as his later film in 2000 called "The Patriot"). Some scenes are also idiotic, which includes one that consists of the Scottish mooning their enemies. The movie is not a total write-off, but it does contain some nice cinematography and set pieces, and some sequences are somewhat entertaining. Still, it is not a great movie, at least for me. Interestingly, I not basing my review on the historically inaccuracies, although I doubt they mooned their enemies to initiate a battle.

The Music Man
½

A scam artist salesman (Robert Preston) arrives by train to River City (fictional place), Iowa, run by a bunch of gullible, incompetent individuals. He takes there money and persuades them to begin a stage show. At the same time, he is wooed by a stubborn local girl (Shirley Jones) when at the time swindling the public. Starts with an interesting musical number at the beginning on a passenger car, but "The Music Man" seriously slides downhill as the movie progresses. Oh dear oh dear! The actors are progressively annoying especially that of Preston's and Ron Howards; and the film has a fairly forgettable script. The movie is also FAR TOO LONG at around 2.5 hours. Songs do not convey the same memorability as that of other musicals from the same era, such as "Mary Poppins" or "West Side Story." A really big disappointment!

The Graduate
The Graduate(1967)
½

Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) returns home from as a new college graduate, but with a strong feeling of dissatisfaction and disappointment. He feels that not much has come up of his life, but that is about to change. He meets with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) at his party, a family friend, and then head to her place in which she tries to engage in sexual activities with him. Benjamin declines but later relents, in which a hotel is used for their dirty affairs. Sadly, Benjamin becomes eventually wooed by Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine (Katherine Ross). With the perception of being dated, based on several notable critics' reviews, including Roger Ebert's, this iconic movie turned out very fine. Perhaps what struck me the most is that I am about to be graduate from post-secondary who is unsure what to do with his life. It seems surprisingly relevant to me, although I wouldn't engage in an affair like Hoffman and Bancroft's'. Works as both a comedy and drama and promotion to the classic singing duo Simon and Garfunkel because of the sound track (I love "Scarborough Fair"). Wonderful landmark movie!

Séance on a Wet Afternoon

Strange movie in which a middle-aged couple (Kim Stanley and Richard Attenborough) scheme to earn a living by conducting séances to bring back the spirit of the dead or perhaps find answers in situations of mystery. This couple, however, takes their scam one step further by going to a private school and kidnapping the daughter (Judith Donner) of a wealthy family and holding her for ransom. At the same time, the couple conduct séances with the police to try and find this girl when she is being held hostage in their own house. Their plan, however, backfires when the little girl becomes very ill. Quite peculiar and interesting movie that isn't a total success, but it does warrant a viewing, especially because of Kim Stanley's odd, amusing performance. Nicely filmed and strange score add to the effects of this film.

East of Eden
East of Eden(1955)
½

Sad and powerful story, based on the book by John Steinbeck of the name, about a young man named Cal (James Dean) who is in search of himself and quite distraught for that matter. He is still wounded by the fact his mother (Jo Van Fleet) left (although initially there was belief she died) his unbelievably religious father (Raymond Massey) when he was young. Cal is also struggling to gain affection from his father, since he has to compete against his brother (Richard Davalos). To achieve some possible affection by his father, Cal decides to borrow money from his recently discovered mother in order to grow beans to offset losses from a failed business venture that his father had through a refrigeration failure of vegetables on a train. If there are parts of the novel left out, the remainder used for the movie is compelling enough to get through. Dean, Van Fleet, and Julie Harris, who plays the role of his brother's fiancée, are fine in their performances. It is also the last film I needed to see with Dean, in which this is his breakthrough role. It was also released the same year as another wonderful film with Dean, "Rebel Without a Cause," which I thought was a bit better than "East of Eden." However, this film is still very well done.

The Elephant Man
½

Bizarrely fascinating story for that describes a man named Merrick (John Hurt) born with serious deformities and is raised by an abusive ringleader (Freddie Jones) in an ugly street carnival. One day, a doctor (Anthony Hopkins) from a hospital for the mentally unstable comes to his aid and rescues him. His goal is give him the dignity the "Elephant Man" very much deserves, although it is not an easy task, especially when his colleagues find it difficult to care for him. It also becomes harder when a nasty employee (Michael Elphick) cashes in on his deformed state and also brings in the ringleader to accompany his cruel intentions. Engrossing, even if there is little plot to speak of, film that is not boring for a minute. Very atmospheric in black and white photography. The performances, even if you want to count Hurt's despite being under mountains of makeup, are fine, most particularly Hopkins and Hiller as a nurse. Bancroft is odd in her minor performance as an actress with what seems to be a heart for Merrick. A very good film.

Quo Vadis?
Quo Vadis?(1951)
½

Decent but not great epic movie for which in Ancient Rome, a commander (Robert Taylor) walks into luminous city right before the excitement begins. He meets the beautiful daughter (Deborah Kerr) of wealthy family, to whom she rejects his offers for love. Then the problems begin when the current empire Nero (Peter Ustinov) rounds up a bunch of innocent people, including the commander and daughter, and puts them into slavery... and the possible state of being eaten by the lions. Long, nice to look at and very corny. Kerr is good, Taylor is okay, but as far as I am concerned, Ustinov deserves to die after chewing up every piece of scenery that exists in the film. The chariot scene and the burning of Rome are good, but there is not enough power to this movie to deem it as an overall "good." Apparently, Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor make cameo appearances, but I was disappointed not to notice them. Note: one actress, Patricia Laffan, looks a lot like Agnes Moorehead, but she is not!

Bob le Flambeur

A group of men gather to plot a major heist of a casino that has plenty of cash on hand. One of these men, Bob (Roger Duschesne), has had intermittent luck in the past and willing to gamble his reputation and life over this robbery. Another member, much younger than the others, is entangled in an affair with young woman, who funnily has an affair with Bob as well. Interesting, though at times a bit slow thriller that seems very familiar to the 1950 John Huston noir, "The Asphalt Jungle." Not in the same league, but it still a good enough film to yield a viewing. All the actors are, however, very good and the concluding scene is quite memorable.

Ship of Fools
½

Irritating melodramatic affair on board a discriminatory and racist ship in the 1930's, leading up to the days of World War II. Vivien Leigh is a gold digger and nutty socialite, flirting with what she perceives are handsome men and discussing her previous marriages. Simone Signoret and Oskar Werner are in love and Lee Marvin is an overbearing baseball player (I didn't remember his occupation because his character was annoying and the film was becoming forgettable). Jose Ferrer is an obnoxious businessman who makes me want to punch the lights out of the television set. Other than the photography and big cast, this movie has not aged well. It is also in need of some juice or significant amounts of caffeine. I wish a sinking or battle scene ensued. The ending is also a disappointment. I was letdown by this film and I feel like, as the title suggests, a fool to have spent the entire two-and-a-half hours watching it.

Winchester '73
½

Two friends (James Stewart and Millard Mitchell) are on the trail of an outlaw into the town of Dodge City, Kansas (irrelevant to this movie, it is southwestern Kansas close to the Oklahoma border). When they arrive in town, they are forced to give up their guns. In the process, these friends enter a shooting contest to collect a valuable shooting instrument called "Winchester." Stewart wins it with great skill and aim, but is beaten and robbed by the man (Stephen McNally) to which he and his friend had pursued. The outlaw and his cohorts escape town, only to leave their artillery behind. On another note, an entertainer (Shelley Winters) and her fiancée (Charles Drake) ride out of town, only to be caught in the uproar of the violent Indians and outlaws. Lively, entertaining Western features much in the way of fun and interest. Rock Hudson looks hilarious in his screen debut as an Indian (certainly a difference between this film and subsequent features). Stewart and Millard are charming and Winters sounds different compared to "A Place in the Sun" and "The Night of the Hunter." For some reason her voices sounds less winey. A very good film! Note, a character is seen briefly named Doan, who is played by Tony Curtis, looking much younger than later films and also credit with the named "Anthony Curtis."

Woman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna)
½

Mysterious, bizarre drama in which a bug collecting instructor (Eije Okada) heads into the sand dunes outside of Tokyo to do some research on the creatures within the region. There, he runs into some individuals that lure him into a sandy crevasse for which a lonely woman (Kyoko Kishida) lives and potentially find more bugs for his studies. Interestingly, when goes down the ladder and into the woman's shack, she clearly states that he is now under her and the villagers' control. He initially blows that statement off only discover he is indeed being held outside. Many attempts to escape throughout the course of the movie fail. To add to that, the man begins to fall for this secluded female. Very long film is surprisingly never boring, despite the fact that for the entire 147 minutes, it is taken place in virtually the same location. Very well photographed and quite interesting, even if this is odd tale. Sort of reminds of a Spanish film from 1962 called "The Exterminating Angel," but this is more serious. Japan loves to send such unique films into the world of cinema.

The Westerner

Low-key western in which Gary Cooper wanders into a town in the country, only to be arrested for crop stealing. This is just after a horse murderer has been hanged under the alleged sheriff?s command (Walter Brennan). Cooper is now under investigation as being an associate of these horse murderers, who were also crop stealers, but the suspicion turns when many members of the community question Brennan?s authority and motives. Not the greatest western told, but good enough, especially because of the lively performance by Brennan, which netted him a third Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He is good fun. I wish the film was a little more memorable, though.

The Robe
The Robe(1953)

The fact that this movie was the first to be released in widescreen Cinemascope (which I have seen in subsequent films with the side cuts off by the television set) does not help it from overcoming its damaging weaknesses. Two different people meet (Richard Burton and Victor Mature) meet in Ancient Rome. One has a girl (Jean Simmons). As one can see, my interest with this film was lost by the twenty-five minute point. Incredibly boring, to say the least. All it is a bunch a yakking between characters and overacting among all the cast members. Not even the costumes, score, or set pieces can save this annoyance from its aging process. I will note, though, that one child named David, who has black, curly hair, is played by an un-credited Harry Shearer (who is most famous for "This is Spinal Tap" and various characters from the television series "The Simpsons."). That doesn't help this ordeal though.

Salt of the Earth

A small town of mainly Spanish immigrants in New Mexico are having trouble with the local authorities: the men working in the mines want to be paid higher wages due to rough working conditions. The mayor of the small town, someone who is white, will not allow for it, so they strike. Then the wives of the workers also get ticked off, so they follow their picket and even drama ensues. I suppose one would find this film significant since it demonstrates union and protest. I found this film tedious, annoying, and dated. "Salt of the Earth" has not aged well. It is saved (barely) by the black-and-white photography. Fairly mediocre stuff.

Fantasia
Fantasia(1940)
½

This iconic Disney film is not really for children, as I will say. The two-hour plus movie is eight parts, all with cartoon dramatics with a score conducted by orchestrator Leopold Stowolski. The most iconic segments include the ever so infamous one of Mickey Mouse, who notably speaks while he is a silhouette talking to Stowolski, rather than when he is in command of his magic brooms transporting water from the well to a basement in the castle. I have always remembered that. Another iconic segment, which incredibly I did not remember, features the end of the dinosaur era, in which it starts with them being hunted down a by Tyrannosaurus Rex (in fairly graphic manner) and finishes with the dinosaurs suffering in the midst of extinction. One of Disney's impressive classics. A little long, definitely couldn't remember most of "Fantasia" as a child, but nonetheless, a very good movie. More a film for classic movie buffs rather than kids.

Mon Oncle
Mon Oncle(1958)

The middle of film of the iconic trilogy featuring director/actor Jacques Tati playing Monsieur Hulot was not supposed to be this good. Instead, it was great. Here we find this lovable, simple, charming character in his home in what looks like a major French city's suburb (could be Paris or Nice, but who cares?). He is adored by his nephew, who looks up to him as father figure or older brother. He seems much closer to him than does his own parents. As well, Tati must adjust to his relatives advanced, robotic household (pretty good mechanisms for 1958 I must say). Consistently clever sight gags and Tati's wonderful character bring out another terrific movie by this individual. The parents of Hulot's nephew are hysterical as people attempting to live the high society life. Another really interesting aspect of this film is the fact that this movie is of course in French, but subtitles are, oddly enough, not needed. It is pretty much eye candy with no need for dialogue. That makes this film even more superior! I love the dogs, by the way.

My Life to Live (It's My Life) (Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux)

Strange movie for which a woman (Anna Karina) needs to pay the basic necessities of life, so she looks for a job. She decides to become a prostitute, a pretty stuck up one for that matter. This woman does not like to respect her bosses demand because she has dignity (despite the irony of becoming a hooker in the first place) and doesn't want to have sex with specific individuals. Unusual look at the dark side of the streets in Paris does not always work, but it is interesting. Karina provides a solid performance and the photography is general good, in which it helps to overcome slow spots in this short film.

The Miracle Worker
½

Powerful chronicle of young girl named Helen Killer (Patty Duke), who has Scarlett Fever, in which she has the unfortunate birth defects of being born without hearing or sight (that would suck!). Her behaviour is beyond eractic due to her tragic condition and communication from those around her is impossible. He parents decide to call on Anne Sullivan (Anne Bancroft) for her assistance in teaching their daughter to be able to communicate with those around. It is a challenge, and that is an understatement. Pretty brutal movie, that doesn't hold back much in terms of situational issues, is compelling and interesting, without going far overboard. Both Bancroft and Duke give worthy Oscar winning performances for their portrayals of their respective characters. Very good film that has sadly been overlooked by film fanatics today.

Le samouraï
Le samouraï(1967)

Is it possible to find a film better than Jean-Pierre Melville than this? It may not be! Utterly suspenseful film for which a man (Alain Delon) is a professional hit man for the French mob with no emotion, carrying a duty of killing anyone that is assigned to eliminate anybody in Paris. His previous hit, a restaurant owner, however, came as a threat to his career and life, for which the police round up every potential suspect who could have killed this man. He is removed from suspicion, for the time being, only to be under surveillance by the mob (and with a target on his back). As well, the police are not wholly convinced on his innocence. Tense, fantastically made thriller that deserves the attention of everyone who watches movies. Alain Delon is stylish and terrific as the hit man. I want his jacket, suit, and hat for myself. I love the way he turns his hat when leaving his lonely apartment. Every bit of this film is gripping and it may be one of the best films out of the French industry (and there are so many!).

The Great Dictator

Pretty appalling but sadly effective comedy from Charles Chaplin in his first sound feature (at least thirteen years after talkies began). Chaplin decides to mock Adolph Hitler during the early stages of World War II, by dressing up, putting on a small moustache, and insulting his accent. He also plays, what looks like, a British soldier and Jewish barber, who is picked on by an incompetent German soldier (although saying that this barber is much more intelligent than his bullies would be step too far). Very crude (not in terms of language but actions) and silly, and also fairly funny. Chaplin's attempts at German are embarrassingly bad, which adds to the hilarity of this movie (reminds me of Laurence Olivier's Henry V from 1944 where several sequences involving French heiresses attempting to speak the language). Quite amusing, even if pretty offensive. It seemed to have been really well received upon. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther loved the film.

Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew)

Engrossing, haunting and alarmingly fascinating movie, based on the story of Jesus Christ (played by Enrique Izoqui). The plot follows the main character guiding everyone through life, and obeying specific rituals in accordance to God. His beliefs polarize people, in which he gathers a dedicated following, but in turn, also draws a lot of criticism and hate by the leaders in the community. If they do not, they are haunted by demons and must face dire consequences that could result life or death. The sequences which involve in battles between various groups, including peasant women and soldiers, are stunning. The set pieces are also stunning, along with the cinematography and natural acting. The photography of this film causes it to remain disturbing, compelling, and just plain beautiful. Even at 133 minutes, it is never slow for a minute. It has also never aged a day since its release in 1964. Absolutely fantastic, and even you are not religious, this is worth putting on your list!

Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari)

A family of three (mother, father, and son) engaged in the pottery trade is struggling to survive in the midst of a civil war crisis in Japan. Sickening soldiers run the country side and ransack villages, in order to kills the residents or run them, and take their food and valuables. Eventually, the family of three are split up: the son is kidnapped in a larger village under his parents nose; the woman is forced into the sex trade; and the husband has become enticed by a wealthy, mysterious heiress, to whom he weds, and is also trying to become a warrior to fight off the disgusting soldiers. Then there are the scenes that involve ghosts haunting all the different characters. Based on this film, the Japanese movie industry just keeps spitting out moving, gorgeous, and incredibly compelling stories, in which some, like this one and "Sansho and the Bailiff," are overlooked by critics, back then and today (except Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin). Beautifully photographed and incredibly well structured, along with excellent performances by its simple cast. Another great one from Japan! Note: one of the actresses, Muchiko Kyo, was in Akira Kurosawa's breakthrough hit "Rashomon."

Day for Night
½

In this film, Francois Truffaut stars as a director making a movie (funny, he directed himself directing a fictional movie). The point is that it is not the type of movie he is directing. It is the behaviours of the cast and crew on the sets, as well as the use of technique in terms of filming and positioning. Everything and everyone seems dysfunctional, with characters stressed by the script, workload, and relationships between one-another. Two young cast members, in particular, played by Jean-Pierre Laud and Jacqueline Bisset, are in a friendship quickly turning into a romance, despite the fact that the woman of the pair is married to older man. Quick-moving and very interesting look at the background production of making a movie of any type. Less corrupt and odd than Felini's 1963 hit "8 1/2" and perhaps, better, since more straightforward and serious, at least I thought so. It's too bad that the version I watched was English dubbed. I much prefer films in French when they are originally filmed in French. Another really good film by the master Truffaut.

A Star Is Born

Esther Blodgett (Judy Garland), who eventually becomes Vicki Lester, is intrigued by a drunkard Norman Maine (James Mason), a man that claims the ability of bringing to high success in showbiz. Although, due to his behaviour, which may a contributor to his career decline as a matinee idol in Hollywood, he is not all there, even though Blodgett wants to pair up with him. Blodgett than gets a whirlwind start to her acting career, being walk all and going through her new name change. However, she finally achieves success, despite the many pitfalls that she had to endure. Blodgett also falls deeply in love with Maine and they marry, which sparks a real rough ride for both of them, eventually leading to heartbreak and tragedy. Powerful, impressive movie boasts the best film I have seen under the direction of George Cukor. Tragic and prophetic since it essentially chronicles the life of Garland through the character of Norman Maine, as well sequences for which she suffered through studio disputes. Both Garland and Mason's performances are absolutely top-notch and the musical numbers are fantastic. Really interesting to see photos in the place of areas that needed heavy editing, as this film was several cut back in the 1950's. It has been a long time since I have seen a musical this great. It is shame that a film so big and Academy Award worthy (was not nominated for Best Picture or Director) to be acknowledged at the Oscars. I wish it could have seen released in 1955, rather than in 1954. It would have taken home many awards. This is a triumphant film!

The Caine Mutiny

Solid war film on corruption at sea in which a young new-comer (Robery Francis) to the fleet. He finds that while on board, the current captain (Tom Tully) is not pulling his weight around the ship, annoying him and other Lieutenants (including Fred MacMurray and Van Johnson). He is re-assigned to another job, and the position is taken over the Lieutenant Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart). That is when the problems and corruptions begin. Long but stellar film for which succeeds thanks to three major scenes: a typhoon at sea, the courtroom, and the climax at the party. Acting is adequate, surprisingly done best by Jose Ferrer, but script has sadly become a bit weak (one line that bothered me "boiled in oil"). Not a great World War II, nor does it contain one of Bogart's best performances, but one that is good enough for a viewing.

Room at the Top

Laurence Harvey plays a man who works his way up the ladder of a company for which he has just recently meet. On the side, he has meet two very different women. One, is very attractive actress (Heather Sears) to which he eventually impregnates. The other, an older actress (Simone Signoret), for which their affair gets hot and she falls deeply in love with him. Pretty gripping drama with good performances by all cast, but it has lost some of its edge since its release in 1959. The two lead performances by Harvey and Signoret are quite good particularly and the script and story are surprisingly adequate. Interestingly, for two years in a row (1959 and 1960), Harvey starred along two actresses who won Best Actress. The other in 1960 was Elizabeth Taylor in "Butterfield 8," a film that was not very good.

The Razor's Edge
½

Two individuals (Gene Tierney and Tyrone Power) meet and begin to fall in love. The woman's uncle (Clifton Webb) disapproves, yet they still retain their romance between one another, even after they part ways. Another couple (Anne Baxter and Frank Latimore) get married and have child, but tragically, the husband and child get killed in a car accident. The wife than becomes an alcoholic. Okay film shows some interest in plot, but time has hit the quality of production very hard. Set pieces and black and white photography are the most memorable; everything else is mainly forgettable. The film is also too long at 2.5 hours. A disappointment, considering the cast and the fact that Baxter, who is the best performer within the film, won an Oscar for her supporting performance.

Wings
Wings(1927)

The first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture is actually pretty good, better than I had expected. Prospective U.S. soldiers are gearing up to head to the battle line in France in order to fight Axis Powers in World War I. Of those soldiers, two are close friends (Charles Buddy Rogers and Richard Allen), vying for the same woman (Jobyna Ralston), although one them later discovers another overlooked woman (Clara Bow), who also becomes in involved in the war. Despite its age, the war sequences work well, especially when the colour orange in inserted when planes begin to fall to the ground after being shot down. Score is also pretty good. Though it's not the best Best Picture recipient, it is still a pretty interesting movie. Look for Gary Cooper in what apparently is his break through role. He is also sadly killed during the course of action.

Rancho Notorious
½

Highly entertaining western by legendary director Fritz Lang in which a rancher (Arthur Kennedy) loses his fiancée (Gloria Henry) in bank heist to vicious outlaw (Mel Ferrer), along with an accompanying associate. He seeks to hunt these two thieves, only learning the associate has been murdered by his partner, for which his dying words reveal the name of the murderous criminal. The rancher also discovers that a woman (Marlene Dietrich), a saloon singer, is associated closely with the vicious murder. As westerns from the 1950's go, this one is very underrated. It fun, beautifully filmed, and well-acted, especially by Dietrich. It also ends with an exciting and tragic shootout. Definitely worth the watch, even if it really silly. Certainly a difference compared to Lang's next year's release "The Big Heat." In addition, the smart part of William Frawley is also hilarious (he was filming "I Love Lucy" at the time).

Captain Blood

Fairly entertaining swashbuckler movie for which Errol Flynn, a doctor, is a prisoner who has been convicted of treason and ends up being shipped as a slave to the island of Port Royal, in order to avoid the death penalty. There, he is sold to a wealthy family, in which he is treated with little respect by his boss (Lionel Atwill), but loved by his niece (Olivia de Havilland). He schemes to escape, trying to round up all the prisoners in order to leave their horrible jobs. Not as wonderful as "The Adventures of Robin Hood," but still fun. Flynn and Havilland meld together as their romance begin to heat up by the end. Climactic war scene with the Spanish fleet is impressive.

The River
The River(1959)
½

An English family lives in India engaging in the cultures of their neighbours. They wander through villages and towns and are acquainted with the religious methods of their peers. There is really not much in terms of plot Jean Renoir's "The River" which may put off some viewers. The reason, though, that this film succeeds is because of its colour, cinematography and relaxed pace while leaving the viewer awing at the eye candy. It is told mainly through a young girl's eyes, who sees everything that the camera sees. Slow and not much happening at times, but it is still worth watching because of its meticulous examination on the ways of life within India. Interestingly, the cast members are not major ones that most people would know of, but there acting is suitably natural to add to the high qualities of this movie.

The Life of Emile Zola

Biography of the famed writer who helps an innocent man out of jail yields another underserving winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture. Very little to find special about this film. Controversial Zola (Paul Muni) is constantly censored for his novels by the government for being accurate and truthful. One day, a captain (Joseph Schildkraut) is arrested, tried, and convicted of treason. Zola determines to find the truth about the accusations, but he also gets in trouble during the investigation process, for which he has to flee France to England, where he is still determined to help this innocent man. Although there are some interesting sequences, the end result is unsatisfying and the overall movie is insignificant. Muni is not as good as he is in earlier works. A general letdown!

Crash
Crash(2004)
½

A look at number of different characters in the Los Angeles area: a housewife (Sandra Bullock) is racist to her maid and the locksmith, who has own problems with a nasty Iranian man. A police officer gropes a black woman and threatens a black director while they pull them over so suspected drunk driving. Two black guys (one of them rapper Ludicrous) are thugs who steal vehicles including the nasty housewife's. One of these thugs has a police officer brother (Don Cheadle), who is in a relationship with a Caucasian woman. Although the intent of "Crash" is to exemplify the problems of racism, I do not think the film does that in an accurate or appropriate manner. My problem stems from the characters, for which I found unrealistic, unpleasant, and swearing at any opportunity possible. The profanities were not utilized properly, especially when they swore on their jobs or in situations that made little sense with the dialogue. Come on! The ending is particularly annoying, for the last twenty-five minutes are journeys to redemption, playing out like a Grey's Anatomy episode, with annoying music in the background. I suppose this garnered Academy Award winning status because it tries to steal with racism. Unfortunately, it deservedly gets the status at being one of the worst films to win Best Picture. Memo to directors: do not deal with racism in film topics, unless you do like Spike Lee did with "Do the Right Thing."

The Thin Red Line
½

A deserter, now a missionary (Jim Caviezel), is recruited back into the arm by Sergeant Edward Welsh (Sean Penn). They are part of the US army preparing to be part of the Battle of Mt. Austen on the tropical island of Guadacanal in the South Pacific during World War II. Through long grass, mountainside, and some jungle, they fight the natives, who are part of the Axis powers. The battles are bloody, with the scenes being fairly intense and more so than any World War II film I have ever seen. Terrence Malick chose an interesting topic for a movie here, because I have never of heard of this battle, much less the island itself and I now where many regions of the world are. It is a heartbreaking film that moves quite quickly, as compared to Malick's "Days of Heaven." Sad, to say the least, with many characters losing their lives along the battle lines, including one key character that which to the film to a heartbreaking conclusion. Though not as good as other war films, it is still an incredibly well made movie, and perhaps, one of Malick's best. Also, a very impressive ensemble cast to boot.

Milk
Milk(2008)
½

Fascinating recollection of the politician who surprisingly could, with the ultimate result being tragedy. Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), a 40 year old homosexual from San Francisco, aims to achieve equality with others by establishing rights for gays and lesbians. He begins to run for office, facing steep opposition from many others, while at the same time, battling his crew and personal relationships, including a much younger individual for which he has a fling with (James Franco). Although the scenes between Penn and other male cast members at times are nauseating, the film is very sincere, and very well made. Penn demonstrates in his Oscar winning role versatility, giving a much different performance compared to that of "Mystic River," for which also won Best Actor. The rest of the cast, especially Alison Pill, provide fine support. Even if the make out scenes are a bit gross, they are needed to make the film more believable. Long, but very good film.

Letters from Iwo Jima

A grim reminder of how devastating World War II was for the Axis Powers: Clint Eastwood's provides a shattering look at the other side of the battlefront from a Japanese perspective. Japanese ineffectively soldiers prepare for a battle with the Americans on the island of Iwo Jima, south of Tokyo into the Pacific Ocean of about 1040 kilometres. The Japanese go through extensive training so that they are able to protect their island. None of it is helpful and the results are truly devastating. Many of the soldiers, include a teenager (Kazunari Ninomiya), suffer through the treachery, and many are not only killed by American artillery, but are also driven to suicide. When we think of Japan during the Second World War, we always think of them being bad guys with their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. We never think of them as being victims, as portrayed in "Letters from Iwo Jima." Affecting and sad from start to finish and never bogs down into sentimentality. One the greats directed by Clint Eastwood. Also impressive is that the bulk of them is in Japanese. Look for Mark Moses in the small clips taken place in the United States.

Out of Sight
Out of Sight(1998)

George Clooney is a serial bank robber who manages to escape a prison through a dugout and takes an attractive female FBI agent (Jennifer Lopez) hostage while on his initial run. He and his fellow crooks (which include Don Cheadle) successfully flee and Lopez is finally found by her colleagues. Then the story gets weird: while in pursuit for Clooney, Lopez begins to fantasize a steamy affair, which eventually does materialize, with the hunky criminal himself. Silly and fun film that has slow spots, but is full of charm and wit for which it can be forgiven. Lopez, who has been subsequently in number of films that have not been a critical success, shines in her role, as does Clooney. Both stars have very good chemistry. Pretty entertaining movie.

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)
½

Very suspenseful story of a young man named Aron Ralston (James Franco) who heads into Canyonlands National Park in Eastern Utah on mountain biking and hiking trip. He leaves without telling anyone about his whereabouts, which proved to be a costly mistake. While jumping from one rock to the next, Ralston ends up falling into a narrow crevasse, getting his hand trapped in between two rocks. He survives, but is permanently damaged by the incident. Compelling story that is told through flashbacks, home footage, and modern technological advancements (a camera for which he is narrating his ugly journey) makes this a really interesting film. Franco is key to success with this movie, as he portrays the survivor of the ordeal with believability. Well-told story.

On Golden Pond
½

An elderly couple visit their summer cottage in Maine. It is along a fair-sized lake and is owned by husband Norman (Henry Fonda) and the wife Ethel (Katherine Hepburn). Norman is a stubborn crouch who wants to go boating and fishing, for which Ethel also accompanies him. In addition, he is also becoming senile and 80 years old. Soon their daughter (Jane Fonda) shows up with her fiancée and his son from a previous marriage. They drop the kid off for the summer and head to Europe. Fairly sappy drama and alleged comedy in which it's only asset is the beautiful scenery. Henry Fonda is out of element in this movie, of which his performance certainly doesn't ring true as like 41 years earlier in "The Grapes of Wrath." Hepburn is okay, but looks ridiculous diving into the lake when Fonda needs assistance. Jane Fonda, along with her future stepson, are truly annoying. Script is inappropriately mishandled and crude. Again, like I said in my review for "Chariots of Fire," "Atlantic City" was ripped in 1981. Best Actor should have been Burt Lancaster and Best Actress should have been Susan Sarandon. Awkward choices for these particular awards.

Requiem for a Dream

A young man (Jared Leto) is desperate to get his cocaine fix, and will do anything for himself and his friend (Marlon Wayans) to get their stuff. The young man also finds a girl (Jennifer Connelly) and brings her into the world of dangerous and deadly narcotics. At the same time, the man's overweight mother (Ellen Burnstyn) is desperate to lose weight so she become an attractive contestant on a game show, so she prescribes to diet pills. However, she too falls into the world of ugliness when she takes well over the recommended amount of the medication. Extremely ugly, gruesome movie certainly alarmed critics upon release and still polarizes people over a decade later. Any reason to engage in drug abuse certainly is proven to yield bad results if I was thinking (which I certainly wasn't) of doing this. A little too sick, but still, very effective at the same time. May repel, but hopefully it will prevent people from using dangerous hallucinogens, as well as abusing the prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Wuthering Heights
½

Although it is said that the film adaption of the famed novel may not include a large portion of the book, it still non-the-less comes out to very well-made movie. A drifter (Miles Mander) stumbles upon the estate of Wuthering Heights and family inside that seems very depressed. They allow him to stay, although when he enters their guestroom upstairs, he spots the ghost of a woman named Cathy (Merle Oberon), who passed away years before. One of the family members, Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier), who once loved Cathy, re-acts and runs into the snow, ultimately vanishing in the white material. Thus, the housekeeper (Flora Robson), than recalls the story of the forbidden romance of Heathcliff and Cathy, and the man (David Niven without a moustache!) to whom she married, preventing the love to occur. Surprisingly compelling movie, with wonderful score and fine photography. Acting is top-notch, especially by Olivier, and this is the oldest film that I can classify under the direction of William Wyler as very good.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)
½

Erotic drama for which a ballet dancer (Natalie Portman) vies for the lead role as the dark, evil bird, but is too turgid to successfully portray the role. To add to this, she is surrounded by generally ugly people that make her life and ballet a living hell. First, her coach (Vincent Cassel) wants to romance her which would ultimately lead to star gazing role in the title ballet number. Second, her mother (Barbara Hershey) wants her to be happy, but is also way to controlling and has a different opinion on what is good for Portman that what she does. Finally, she has to deal with her unusual, lesbian attraction to another ballet dancer (Mila Kunis), who is also her understudy. Pretty disturbing at times, but also very interesting and entertaining. Natalie Portman is worthy of her Oscar in this magnificent performance. The additional cast also provide strong support and artfulness of the film is compelling. Perhaps a little indulgent, but never boring. Incidently, has no relation to the 1942 film of the same name, starring Maureen O'hara and Tyrone Power.

The Muppets
The Muppets(2011)

Amusing fluff in which two brothers (one, a man played by Jason Segal and the other brother a puppet) who head to Hollywood to see the Muppets museum. This is also a vacation with the brother's very tolerable girlfriend (Amy Adams) accompanies them and obvious yearns for affection and some time with the live brother. When the trio head there, they see none of the classic Muppets, but discover that the establishment is being turned into an oil well by a greedy, wealthy man (Chris Cooper). The two brothers than go on a trek to find Kermit, Miss Piggy and rest of the gang to do a show into order to save the original establishment, which involves a comedic telethon. Shamefully, I really like "The Muppets" and enjoyed the corny jokes and silly acting numbers. The songs are awful, but at least the characters admit it. Juvenile but still pretty enjoyable.

The Purple Rose of Cairo

One Woody Allen's strangest films (up there with "Sleeper" from 1973), a poor waitress (another Mia Farrow vehicle!), is stuck in a worthless job and terrible marriage during the Great Depression. Her husband (Danny Aeillo) is a bum, who can't find work, is abusive physically and emotionally to Farrow, and fools around with other woman. After she finally is fired from her job, she retorts to a love addition to a film (not real) called "The Purple Rose of Cairo," to which the lead actor (Jeff Daniels) comes off the screen and takes her into his arms. The film, both the fictional and actual movie, gets weird from there. Certainly not one of Allen's best, but pretty funny at times and quite original. Quite inventive and nice use of black and white photography. Ending is sure a...shock! I will put it that way.

Husbands and Wives
½

Grueling account of couples in marriages on the brink of collapse. Woody Allen and Mia Farrow are one couple who become fixated on the fact that their friends (Sydney Pollack and Judy Davis) announce their divorce, but with little emotional impact. As a result, Allen and Farrow's relationship starts to crumble, due to oversensitivity and interests in other relationships (including Farrow's interest in a man played by Liam Neeson, to whom has been set up with recent divorcee Davis). Interestingly, Davis and Pollack's relationship after the break-up is also not going so well, because both still love each other. Not so much a comedy, perhaps some funny lines though, but more an ugly drama well-acted by everyone involved. Certainly more profanities used in this Woody Allen film compared to others. Perhaps a little too direct at times! However, very effective on nearly every level and probably one of Allen's best films.

Back to the Future

Good science fiction fun for which Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) comes from a dysfunctional family, including a situation for which his father can't stand up to a bully. He is also devotedly attached to a bizarre scientist (Christopher Lloyd), for which could be considered a second father, who sets up a time machine with a junky car. Unfortunately, because of some plutonium usage, the scientist is hunted down by the some Arab terrorists, who kill him in front of McFly. He manages to escape head back in time to when his parents were teens who had not met yet, but sadly has trouble getting back to present times (that is the 1980's). He also has other mammoth issues. Pretty corny by today's standards, but one can see the profound importance of this film, especially since it has become namesake from the 1980's. It is also full of charm and vibrant performances by the cast.

The Player
The Player(1992)
½

Tim Robbins plays a film producer Griffin Mill, not well liked in Hollywood, who is being stocked by someone who wants to kill him. He has been receiving letters by an unknown assailant, for which he thinks is a screenwriter (Vincent D'Onofrio) of script for which he has recently rejected. Unfortunately, Mill discovers it was not him, the day after he confronts the screenwriter in a back alley during a drunken rage and kills him. He then romances the screenwriter's girlfriend (Greta Scracchi) and is still spied on by his scary stocker. Very funny and interesting movie, with really good performances by an ensemble cast, including Whoopi Golberg as an investigator who is particularly fascinated by Mill. Many interesting cameos by famous stars, including Cher, Malcolm McDowell, and Angelica Huston, as well movie a number of movie posters of old movies released in the 1940's and 1950's. Surprisingly not overlong, despite being more than two hours, the film utilizes length quite well. One of the top films directed by Robert Altman.

Hugo
Hugo(2011)

One of the strangest films ever directed by Scorsese does not rank among his best, but it is entertaining in its own way. Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is a young boy who lives with his father (Jude Law) at the train station in Paris. The father is the clock master, of which Hugo often explores within the station. Unfortunately, his father perishes in a museum fire and Hugo is adopted by his nasty uncle (Ben Kingsley), who owns a watch repair. Hugo then begins to play with toys that he fixes at his uncle's shop and starts to fall in love with films, particularly becoming interested in a 1902 silent feature called "A Trip to the Moon" (a film which I saw on Turner Classic Movies in August 2009). Pretty interesting Scorsese movie certainly a difference compared his previous films, especially in terms of script. Really nice cinematography and set pieces, along with special effects, help improve on slow spots during "Hugo." Quite imaginative and especially bereft of profanities for Martin Scorsese, as compared to "The Departed" and especially "Goodfellas." Not his greatest, but one worth seeing none-the-less.

The Big Chill

A group of friends from high school form a reunion at a guest house after a friend of theirs killed himself in the same place. Among these friends, along with their situations, are a doctor (Glenn Close) and her husband; a drug user (William Hurt); a lawyer who wants a kid (Mary Kay Place); an unhappy housewife (JoBeth Williams); the girlfriend (Meg Tilly) of the deceased; a sex addict journalist (Jeff Goldblum); and a TV star (Tom Berenger). There they reminisce and discuss various problems that each one has. Although there are notable weaknesses, perhaps some of the situations and script, this film gets through thanks to its star power. The two strongest of the bunch are Glenn Close and Tom Berenger. I like the score of songs from the 1960's and 1970's, although when the characters attempt to sing them, it becomes ugly. Some versions of this film contain Kevin Costner, the man who killed himself. You actually seem him getting dressed for his funeral during the opening credits.

Chariots of Fire
½

A group of men set out to become runners at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Two men (Ben Cross and Ian Charleson) compete against one another in a race, where Cross loses. He is then mentored by an eccentric Scotsman (Ian Holm). Both characters, despite some difficulties including Charleson's neglect for God, are eventually accepted to compete in the summer Olympics. Considering I am a runner for a university athletic team, I found it very difficult to really like this film. Certainly it did not inspire me. It is not all bad. There was a lot of effort put into it and the set pieces are good, but it doesn't have a substantial bite and there are parts that are unintentionally funny. Sadly, there are also a few parts that a forgettable. It is only an "okay" film for me, for which being crowned Best Picture it should not have been. Best Picture for that year should have been the underrated "Atlantic City."

Driving Miss Daisy

Very slow and plodding film for which took home the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Academy Award for Best Actress for a not so special performance by Jessica Tandy, plus two other Oscars. Tandy's character is a southern Jewish bell who is old and becoming senile, at least according to her son (Dan Akroyd). He hires a black man (Morgan Freeman), to whom she doesn't like him at first. His job is to drive her around from one place to another, and they soon become best friends. However, Freeman, in is odd southern accent, can't help to contribute to driving this viewer to boredom. For me, there is nothing special or particularly interesting about this film. I really wanted to be over after the first half, and it was only 99 minutes long. It lacked any impact what-so-ever. Really forgettable and a shame considering the two lead stars.

A Beautiful Mind
½

At Princeton University, John Forbes Nash (Russell Crowe) is determined to compose a study that is original and will leave a legacy under his name. He is aided by his roommate (Paul Bettany), who is imaginary, in developing his legacy. Nash eventually works his way to being a professor at Princeton and developing a relationship with an attractive woman (Jennifer Connelly). Sadly, his imaginary friend, now along with a little girl and an out-of-control sergeant, envelop his life, for which he behaves strangely and erratically and thinks he is being hunted down by the CIA for knowing too much. It drives him and his wife nuts. Surprisingly compelling and believable story of a man stuck in schizophrenia. Crowe and Connelly are really good in their performances and it works as an emotionally uplifting story. Not overlong, surprisingly, and doesn't really look down towards those who suffer the unfortunate disorder. Very good film!

Total Recall
Total Recall(1990)

Far into the future, a man from Mars (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wakes up from a dream on Earth, I believe. The dream consists of him dying when his helmet breaks and he loses all his oxygen. He then goes on a strange vacation at a clinic to Mars, but spills out information that implies he is a spy on Earth, and gets pursued by a number of police officers and agents (including his on-Earth wife Sharon Stone). Then he ends up on Mars. Yes, that is the plot line. Severely crude, with a lot of unnecessary swearing incidents that make "Goodfellas" from the same year look less offensive, but it is also quite amusing in the same sense as the Naked Gun movies. Strange plot and bizarre...alright, flat acting still don't destroy this strange, special effects spectacle. Arnie is of course entertaining in his silly performance. Wild film I suppose is a good way to sum up this review. It is indeed worth the watch.

Reversal of Fortune
½

While immersed in a coma, a wealthy wife (Glenn Close) recalls the events that have taken place around her current state. Her husband (Jeremy Irons) has been indicted in her murder (her coma is not recoverable) since he was engaging in an affair with a young mistress. Now, in an unusual turn of events, a lawyer (Ron Silver) decides to attack the case from another angle, building one that actually gets him his conviction overturned. However, that seems to be hard because he not very convinced he get escape prosecution without being found guilty. Although heavy on plot, the film is pretty amusing and also very interesting. The performances and script are what keep the film rolling, particularly those of Irons and Close, who are both really good. I suppose an unsatisfactory outcome results by the end of the film, but it adds to the entertainment. Wonderful film!

American Splendor
½

Harvey Pekar (real person) describes the creation of his comic "American Splendor" through flashbacks and his younger self (Paul Giamati). Pekar's career originally started out as a clerk at a doctor's office, but his life became boring. So he decides to dive into his hobby of drawing and derives the comic strip from his daily activities. His life begins to improve (although there are downfalls, such as his cancer). At least he gets married to a very strange wife (Hope Davis). What a unique and inventive film, told through a combination of natural performances and actually comic strip animation. Funny and dramatic in equal measure! The performances are very good. Who knew boring people could be so watchable on reel.

The Descendants
½

Considering all the praise this film has been getting, I was fairly overwhelmed with disappointment by the way the story went. A real estate agent (George Clooney) lives in Oahu with two daughters, has a wife in a coma thanks to a boating accident, and a dysfunctional daughter who misbehaves at school. The story takes another interesting turn when the daughter (Shailene Widley) shows little sadness towards the tragedy because of something: the wife had an affair with another real estate agent. To add to this underlying issue, the wife is going to die. If the film had primarily dealt with the mourning of the wife debilitating state, it probably would have been pretty good, but instead, they add all these other issues. It initially becomes sour and depressing. One character of particular annoyance, who, for some reason hangs out with the family in a totally nasty and repugnant state, is this friend (Nick Krause) of the elder daughter. Hard to understand the overall liking to this film. Also, hard to get through this film.

Shakespeare in Love

Williams Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is in the midst of composing a famous play (of course that being Romeo and Juliet), without the thought of personally engaging in a romance for himself. However, he becomes in intrigued by the daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow) of a wealthy society man. They begin to romance, even though she has been forced to commit to another much richer man (Colin Firth). Not sure why many of the characters are wearing earrings, but still, despite what it could have been, this is likeable film. It moves at a quick enough pace, with very few slow spots, and the performances are fun (Paltrow is pretty good). The dialogue is not annoying, as I had not suspected, and the stage scenes of Romeo and Juliet are quite amusing. Judi Dench is fine in her supporting role as Queen Elizabeth I. Not bad, considering I was expected a sappy love fest, but it turned out to be charming.

The Artist
The Artist(2011)

Silent feature films are certainly my preference, but on a technical and story scale, it is a fairly charming film. Famed actor George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) experiences difficulty in the transformation process of silent to sound on the big screen. It drives him crazy, resulting in a divorce, depression, and even impotence with the fact he can't have the love of his new mistress (Berenice Bejo), who is a dancer looking forward to the technological changes. Pleasant film in black and white shows that the idea of making films without a colour still works. Nice throwback to old films, even one that is sound, colour, and a musical, which deals with the same topic: "Singin' in the Rain." John Goodman and James Cromwell are good in supporting roles. I thought the score was good, but I have admit that I am not sure if it was a good idea to borrow, correction, directly use the score from Hitchcock's "Vertigo" at the end of the movie. If you love that film, like I do, it isn't really appropriate for this kind of movie...and some, like Kim Novak, may consider it total plagiarism.

Shame
Shame(2011)

The closest mainstream films get possibly to without being classified as pornography. A disturbed man (Michael Fassbender) gets by through feeding his sexual needs. However, they are interrupted by his psycho, over-bearing sister (Carry Mulligan, to whom I have seen quite a few films with latterly in short period of time). She stays with him and they fight and fight and fight until an devastating incident occurs. Definitely crude, but interestingly portrayed and told. There is for sure a story here. You also see a lot of explosive and explicit nudity in this film, which at times becomes a bit nauseating. Pretty unique and directed by Steve McQueen (not the deceased star of "Bullitt," and "The Great Escape).

Blood Simple
Blood Simple(1984)

The first collaboration of Joel and Ethan Coen is a masterpiece. Abby (Frances McDormond in her screen debut!) begins to have an affair with a bartender (Samm-Art Williams), who works for her husband (Dan Hedaya). Her husband begins to suspect something is up between the two of them and ultimately finds out, declaring revenge. He hires a private detective to murder the two of them and according to strange-looking photos, the look they have been killed by multiple gun-shot wounds...although what happens next will not be described by me. It must be seen! "Blood Simple," which the title even indicates, was created on a tiny budget and yielded success that what was well deserved. For several of these cast members, it is their first screen appearance and they end up creating this shockingly fantastic movie. McDormond is excellent! It is compelling and even intense from start to finish, and the characters are terrifically funny. You can see elements used again in later hits such as "No Country for Old Men." What an astonishing breakthrough film!

The Terminator

In 1984, for which this movie along "Amadeus" and "This is Spinal Tap" was released, a Cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) comes from the future to kill an innocent woman named Sarah O'Connor (there are at least three in Los Angeles but the one we are looking for is played by Linda Hamilton). At the time, another man, a soldier (Michael Biehn) also comes from the future to be the protector of O'Connor, although stopping this evil thing from killing her is really tough...and I suppose an ordeal. Action packed hokum is utterly silly and gore galore, but entertaining in its own right. We see quite a bit of Schwarzenegger, whose human features are pretty surprising conceived considering he is a man-made object. The dialogue is pretty ridiculous, but the film has a right to obtain such an asset and it is also very funny at times. Arnie is the centre of the movie and he is pretty hilarious. Better than most action packed films that followed its trail.

Quiz Show
Quiz Show(1994)

In the late 1950's, a complaint ensues after an eight-week champion Herbert Stempel (John Toturro) on the TV game show 21 is forced to answer a question incorrectly (the question is "Who won Best Picture for 1955?"). He is outraged and does end up answering wrongly ("On the Waterfront" was his response) on purpose, allowing a new champion Charles Van Doren (Ralph Diennes) to replace him on the podium. Stempel is disgusted and tries to find a way to expose this conflict into a full-blow scandal. Meanwhile, a newspaper quarters begins to smell something rotten with this game show. Pretty good chronicle of the outrageous events that shook the game show world in the late 1950's. Solid performances by all and the film succeeds at capturing the period of time quite nicely. It is a little long, though, but the overall feeling is satisfaction. It's funny, regarding the question asked earlier, everyone knew the answer was "Marty." Today, no one I know has probably ever heard of the film "Marty."

Drive
Drive(2011)
½

Fascinating action movie finds a man (Ryan Gosling) who is driver for criminals and also is being put for sale to the police force as a driver. The story finds him living in an apartment adjacent to a woman (Carry Mulligan) and her son, in which a plutonic love interest begins to bloom. However, the husband (Oscar Isaac) returns from jail, after being caught in the midst of a bank heist, for which Gosling's character was the driver in. They then enter into a further plow to rob a loan shady loan agency outside of town, which leads to tragedy. Involving, intelligently made and violent thriller that easily gets the viewer thinking. Not one of those bang-bang films, but a relaxed and intense movie which has both slow (deliberately paced) and fast spots. Pretty graphic at times but very compelling.

Memento
Memento(2000)
½

One of the strangest mystery stories of all time. Lenny or Leonard (Guy Pierce) is trying to piece together his life after his wife is murdered (or so it seems at first). He has an exceptionally short-term memory for which he forgets things that happen in front of him a moment later (hence the title). The way he lost his memory was when his wife was being attacked (and ultimately murdered), in which he was also severely assaulted. He recalls the events leading up to his current placement backwards and through notes on pictures of people he has met, plus tattoos covering his body. Odd, bizarre, but very interesting movie that one must see just because of its strange style of storytelling, filled a collection of weird characters. Compelling inventive narrative to say the least. Pretty open ending without much closure but still of good film.

Hannah and Her Sisters
½

Immensely charming story about three sisters and their lives somehow intertwining with one-another and the strange conflicts surrounding them. Hannah (Mia Farrow) has divorced Mickey (Woody Allen) and has married Elliot (Michael Caine). However, Elliot has had an affair with Hannah's sister Lee (Barbara Hershey), who is sort of still in love with her reclusive man (Max Von Sydow) and is also living with him at the same time. Meanwhile, Mickey is having personal problems with his TV show (a comedy skit proposed of child molestation) as well as the fear he has a brain tumour. Finally, the Holly (Dianne West) and her friend (Carrie Fisher) vie for the same man (Sam Waterston, who is uncredited). Wonderful cast provide fine, quiet performances (Caine and West won Oscars for their parts). I also want to point Julia-Louis Dreyfus as an assistant to Allen; she is wonderful here like she is in "Seinfeld." The narratives by the several different characters are fun and so are the comedic situations. Very good Woody Allen film!

Traffic
Traffic(2000)
½

Fascinating film of the drug world exploding in four difference realms within two countries. In Mexico, a police officer (Benicio del Toro) works undercover in order to stop the Tijuana drug cartel from spiraling out of control. In Washington D.C., the director of cabinet for drug control policy (Michael Douglas) is on top of also stopping the drug cartel from exploding in a much bigger issue. Unfortunately, he also has to deal with his teenage daughter (Erika Christensen), who is an honour student, becoming addictive to cocaine and other dangerous narcotics. In San Diego, a woman (Catherine Zeta-Jones) discovers her husband may not be a legitimate business man and be part of the illegal industry. She then inadvertently becomes entangled in the world of hell. Finally, two police officers (Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman) are in persuit of busting drug kingpins, along with their associates. Exciting, sometimes intense, mainly absorbing examination of the drug cartel that at the height of complexity between the United States and Mexico. Never boring despite being nearly two-and-a-half hours long and very well photographed, continuously interchanging smoothly between scenes. One small fault was Catherine Zeta Jones, who kept changing her accent throughout the film (I seem be seeing this problem among actors and actresses a lot lately). However, that is a minor fault, and it worth the watch. Note: Michael Douglas sure sounds like his father, Kirk.

An Education
An Education(2009)
½

Very interesting story of upper class school girl (Carry Mulligan) who finds that her education is not being utilized her dreams of going to Paris and being part of life there, rather than pursuing an English major at Oxford University. With that in mind, she meets a Jewish man (Peter Saarsgard), to whom is much order than her, and they become entangled in a passionate relationship. Unfortunately, her man has some dark secrets that eventual begin to unravel. Fascinating time capsule from the 1960's involves into an interesting character study on life of the upper class citizens of the United Kingdom. Everyone is very snobby and full of themselves, but they also have another layer to them that shows tenderness. I would have liked to have understood one thing a little more closely is the repellence of Saarsgard's character for the fact he is a Jew, since everyone, including the parents, were not happy with that. Emma Thompson's appearance was quite interesting as she being the principal of the all girl's school. Really good film that passes by quite quickly.

Out of Africa
½

Karen Dinesen (Meryl Streep) is an author recalling her years spent in Africa. When she was young, she married a wealthy suitor (Klaus Maria Baundauer), sort of a take advantage of the situation relationship, in order to move from Denmark to Africa, British East Africa (now Kenya). There she meets and falls in love with another man (Robert Redford), a hunter and gets to interact with the people and animals of her new home. The most exciting of this film is the lions attacking the humans, but then that is diminished when they are shot dead (won't go well in this day and age). Other than that, it may be the most dull Best Picture winner since "A Man for All Seasons" in 1966. Too long, too slow, and not very well acted. Streep's performance cannot hold consistency, with her accent fluctuating between Danish and English, which became thoroughly confusing. Redford's performance is just not very good overall. Not a very good film. It doesn't even hold out as an interesting travelogue.

Sideways
Sideways(2004)

"Sideways" is sort of the predecessor in a weird sort of way to 2009 hit "The Hangover." Two guys go on an alcohol fueled week-long trip right before one is about to get married and they get into trouble. The only difference is this film is far superior. Miles (Paul Giamati) is an unsuccessful author, still recovering from an ugly divorce, and is the best man at his friend's (Thomas Haden Church) wedding. They decide to go on in trip into the hills and tour the wineries. The friend who wants to get married wants to have one last fling before he gets married, so they hook up with two females working in the winery industry (Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh). Miles' friend quickly hooks up with his woman (Oh), while he slowly develops his relationship with Madsen.

The reason this film so, so good is because of the integration of both comedy and drama. Some scenes are silly (and ultimately hilarious) while others chronicle the depressed man of Miles so well that it is all too familiar. At least it was to me, because I thought I was looking in a mirror. Mind you, I don't speak that kind of profane language, but I have felt a sort of heartbreak like that towards life. It is a compelling character study of a scorn man. You can also see his guilt with this trip because of his friend's adulterous behaviour and his upset by his failed book. Everything is great in this film, especially Madsen and Giamati (who I saw in "Big Fat Liar" and that film made him out to be undeservedly annoying) and the photography and score to accompany it. I feel pity, though, on the new wife of Hayden's character. Poor woman; fantastic film!

The Help
The Help(2011)
½

What this film is supposed to do is bring an emotional account to the screen of blacks during the 1930's, not 1950's, no and this the correct one, 1960's. You know have problem the view can't establish, at first, the correct decade. Continuing on, the story starts to examine the life of black maids, who are disrespected by the white folk in Mississippi, which was, I guess, built of population of thoroughly racist rednecks, which I don't doubt...although, that is a lot of people. The blacks are treated like objects and one white girl (Emma Stone) wants to expose this insulting way of life to the rest of the world through a book, based on the maids' stories.

Interesting, I suppose, at times, but a real mess in other areas. Length is a severe problem with the film, along with several sequences and character likability. It is fairly hard to like to any other characters in the film, other than Stone's, since everyone seems to want the view to feel sorry for them or because they are flat out annoying and very thin. There does not seem to be much in terms of character development. Some of the casting is dumb, particularly Sissy Spacek in a role as an old person, looking rather ridiculous and overacting her bits. Definitely a change from "In the Bedroom" in 2001, and pretty much anything else she has done. What should have been done with this movie is it should have been a mini-series, perhaps five hour-long (or actually 42 minutes accounting for commercials) episodes that chronicle the lives black maids during the 1960's. There could have been stronger character and story development. Instead, they rolled out a movie that was both hard to sit through and fairly forgettable. Oh well, opportunity lost.

Capote
Capote(2005)

Story based on Truman Capote penning his famous novel "In Cold Blood" is substantial. It is about a couple criminals who murder a family in the lonely prairie of Kansas for no apparent reason. They are captured in Las Vegas and extradited back to Kansas City to face trial for murder. Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) heads to the trial and starts to interview the ruthless criminals, getting an inside look at both of them for his novel, particularly Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.) who seems generally relaxed. They are convicted and given the death penalty for the slayings, although Capote is convinced there is more to the story and begins to fight for them, although his sympathy starts to diminish as his interviews and book progresses. Engrossing account of the creation of the famous novel yields a fantastic film, Hoffman, who took home Best Actor, is excellent in his role as the famed writer, who sort of has a split personality: nasty in one scene while emotional in another. Supporting cast also adds to the brilliance of this movie, including Catherine Keener as Harper Lee, who was friends with the famed writer. It is though-provoking, intelligent, and a well-told story. An absolute must-see! Also, check the 1967 film adaption of "In Cold Blood." It is also a great work.

A Room With a View

Lucy (Helena Bodham Carter) is vacationing in Italy and becomes reluctantly intrigued by wealthy suitor (Julian Sands). His cousin and chaperone (Maggie Smith) does not approve and sends her back to England. There, she becomes involved with another wealthy suitor (Daniel Day Lewis) and they become engaged. Unfortunately and coincidently, the wealthy suitor who romanced Lucy in Italy moves, along with his father, into their neighbourhood and much to her dismay, her fiancée's family befriends them. Not as good as the Merchant/Ivory hits in the early 1990's, but it is still a very nice acted, presented film that tells a pretty good story of love and deceit. The dialogue is generally good and funny at times. The bathing scene is a howl. Its faults include that it is not all interesting at times, and Carter is not are her best in terms of performance. Most of the cast members, particularly Smith and Lewis, are what make the film move along.

The Sundowners

Better than expected chronicle of an Australian family (Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, Michael Anderson Jr.) as a travelling working family, mainly geared to transporting wool. The mother (Kerr) and son (Anderson) want to settle down, while the father (Mitchum) wants to continue travelling. The finally reach an agreement to settle down and go into the sheep shearing business, which sadly does take a toll on the father. Amazingly, Kerr and Mitchum are tolerable and likable as Australian characters, and they don't do in a mocking fashion towards the country. The film is well photographed to boot, which really nice. The one problem is Peter Ustinov, who is annoying and takes a bit away from the film. At least the movie is quite likable.

The English Patient

A British World War II soldier (Ralph Fiennes) is critically injured and defaced after his plane is shot down by rebels across the Egyption desert. He is found barely alive by Egyptians and then transported to a makeshift hospital in Italy and cared for by a young female soldier (Juliette Binoche) in an abandoned house. It is there where he re-collects that past several years in Northern Africa, and the love of his life (Kristin Scott Thomas) and his life during World War II. Long and flabby at points, compelling at others, "The English Patient" is an epic, not spectacular one but still watchable. The acting is mainly well done, best by Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, and Willem Dafoe. Sort of in the same league as "Gandhi" and "Lawrence of Arabia," all Best Picture winning epics but not great films nor the best film of their years. Only good enough.

The Departed
The Departed(2006)

Martin Scorsese has outdone himself again, and this time, he actually received the Oscars for Best Picture and Director this time. Excruciatingly compelling thriller finds a man named Sullivan (Matt Damon), who has been raised by a mobster, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), and works his way into the police department. This way, he is able to collect on information from the police for Costello in order for him to deal with his drug associates. At the same time, another man, Costigan (Leonardo di Caprio), who has worked his way up into the police department, has been given a rough, mole-like assignment of becoming part of the crime underworld. There, his aim is to directly deal with Costello and it takes an overbearing toll on his psychological well-being. Costigan, who has had rough ridings with past, thanks to his father, is trying to redeem himself, only to face exceptional scrutiny by his peers. Eventually, the end result is shocking and both satisfying to the viewer.

Incredibly violent, profanity insanity thriller (certainly a lot of usage of the "f" word) is another great one for Scorsese, who already has a number of other great films to accompany this one. Damon and DiCaprio shine, with some of the best performances of their careers, while Nicholson puts on an evil, nasty performance of delight. Walhberg is someone to note: his character becomes quite repellent, at least for me, after a while, almost causing the quality of the film to decline a little. However, by the end, you'll ironically real like him, do himself becoming a surprising hero. Not one minute is slow; the two and a half hours just fly by. Once you start, you can't stop watching.

Moonstruck
Moonstruck(1987)
½

Surprisingly nice comedy finds an Italian woman (Cher), who ends being proposed to by her awkward boyfriend (Danny Aiello) and plan for a wedding that is to be a month later. She announces her engagement to her very Italian family: mother (Olympia Dukakis) is fine (actually tolerates) with it, while father (Vincent Gardenia) does not approve. She then is asked by her fiancée to invite his estranged brother (a very young Nicolas Cage) to the wedding, but unfortunately, she takes pity on him and they begin to have an affair. The father has also got his own sidepiece to boot. Tender, really likable comedy perhaps has some slow spots, but leaves a great deal of satisfaction with the viewer by end. Nicely acted by the entire cast and a fun look at the family dealings of those who are Italian.

Elmer Gantry
Elmer Gantry(1960)
½

Disturbing story of the title character (Burt Lancaster), an evil salesman, who lies and manipulates his way to be part of organized religious group. Gantry, who gives his overall creepy appeal to the viewer at the beginning of the film, cons his way up through various people to be partners with this leader of the pact (Jean Simmons). She begins to fall into his scheme, him building himself to look a perfect, sincere character, and they eventually become partners. Unfortunately for him, an ugly part of his past comes back to haunt him, of which is a hooker (Shirley Jones), who attempts and ultimately ends up humiliating in a sultry scandal. Lancaster provides another terrific performance to add to his relatively long line of them throughout his acting career, and Simmons and Jones, the latter also winning an Oscar like Lancaster, provide strong support. Another film released that year, "Inherit the Wind," taunts everything that is subject in "Elmer Gantry," since it emphasizes those who are devoutly religious to substantially frightening point. The former was released three months after the latter in 1960. Is it possible that one was making fun of the other? Perhaps, and it is nice that both have held up well today.

In Old Arizona

Warner Baxter, in one of the first Best Actor winning performances (certainly one not well picked), is an outlaw on the run in the deserts of Arizona. He meets an array of individuals, many Mexicans and is taken in by their hospitality. He also steals from the wealthy people that travel through his territory and has a strange taste in women, to say the least. In current day Arizona, this film would be reviewed by critics as severely dated. In current day British Columbia, which is where I am from, it would be dismissed. Lame western is mainly screechy and annoying, and drags on and on. Westerns like "Red River" and "The Searchers" exceed two hours and are heck of a lot better than this and also much faster to get through. Very boring!

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre)

Werner Herzog's tale of the famed, blood sucking vampire is very silly, but is also entertaining. A woman is haunted by demons and her man is determined to stop them from harassing her. He ventures into a long journey to stop this vampire from his evil deeds, I guess. He meets the vampire (Klaus Kinski, who looks incredibly different here than in "Aguirre: Wrath of Good") and invites him to stay in his old mansion. However, when the man sleeps, he sucks on his neck for his blood and eventually leaves to cause chaos and havoc, including killing everyone on ship at sea. The man is then left confused and week minded. Bizarre story is corny, but it is fun to watch. One can tell that Herzog did this with a sense of humour and I suppose that is the important thing for a view, like me, to have during the movie. Who doesn't love vampires anyways?

Mystic River
Mystic River(2003)
½

The children right their names in a neighbourhood sidewalk, while a police officer, or so it seems, drives up and sternly lectures them on their misconduct. He takes one of the boys and drives away, for which this man rapes and molests him for four days, though eventually he escapes. They do not talk after that horrifying incident until decades later when they have their own families, although when the reunite, it is for a more devastating tragedy. One of them, a store owner (Sean Penn), lets his daughter go out for the night and she is seen by one of the others (Tim Robbins) at the bar. Robbins' character is the one involved in the incident when he was a child. He ends up at home at 2:00 AM with a stab wound to his abdomen, claiming he was mugged, although his wife fears a worse scenario then and later on. The next day, a car is found abandoned on a street, with a blood stains in the passenger seat. A few meters away, two police officers (Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Bacon) find the body of the driver. That is the body of store owner's daughter. Now, all the characters, while mourning loss, are bound to determine who murdered her. Sad, gloomy atmospheric mystery of a middle-class Boston neighbourhood supported by a compelling story and fine performances by Robbins, Penn, and the rest of the cast. All the characters have their own problems, and two of theirs intertwine leading to ultimately tragic results. Another real good film by actor and director Clint Eastwood.

Gosford Park
Gosford Park(2001)
½

A weekend at a mansion some year in the 1930's in the country of Scotland features an assortment of rich characters, each one as ugly as the next. Some desire love, others money, others a need to high up, while others faked their way into being at the house. The first hour of this film examines the characters and their activities through the house on that fateful weekend, showing what they are like. They are interesting, but mainly hard to like. Most are snobby, nasty, rude, and don't really care about each other, only about themselves. One of them (Michael Gambon) is involved in a scheme with another (Tom Hollander), with a target put on his back. He is murdered and a number of characters end up being suspects in his death. Slow moving, but ultimately fascinating story with very good collection of performances and a highly enjoyable movie going experience. One of the best films directed by Robert Altman, and in my opinion, his best for me so far.

Crossfire
Crossfire(1947)

Often engaging film noir finds three Roberts (Ryan, Mitchum, and Young) embroiled in a murder mystery. A group of soldiers come into town and one ends up dead. A police officer (Mitchum) involved in the case tries to clear one of the soldiers, to whom is a friend of his, by retrieving a witness (Gloria Grahame), who is a sultry prostitute. Meanwhile, the investigator (Young) is concerned that one of the soldiers (Ryan) is behind the murder due to his strange behaviour. Not as good as other film noirs, but still intriguing enough for a watch. Grahame and Ryan have the best performances of the cast. It is a shame, though, this good, not great, film noir was one of the few nominated for Best Picture, while other great ones from the 1940's, such as "The Third Man," "Notorious," "The Big Sleep," and "Shadow of Doubt" to name a few, were not.

Leolo
Leolo(1992)

A young boy is brought up in a poor Montreal housing development through an extremely dysfunctional family. He discovers that he was not born to his French father but an Italian man, for which he changes his name from Leo to Leolo. I assume that French-Canadian director Jean Claude Lauzon wanted to do a film through the eyes of young boy, like Ingmar Bergman did with "Fanny and Alexander" and people liked this movie. After a while, I found it repellent. Starts off haunting but degenerates into scenes of nauseation and utter stupidity, which include a psychotic grandfather that lives with the family after attempting to kill Leolo years before; the carcass of a dead dog floating in the river (assumingly the St. Lawrence); the abuse of a cat; and a family business of defecating, with the assistance of laxatives. Characters all around are unappealing and the result is unpleasant. Really nasty film goes from interesting character study to trashy, relentless footage. Note: we also get to see the grandfather naked, in which a mass of soap strategically covers a specific part of the body!

Gattaca
Gattaca(1997)

Though not a great science fiction film as one would have hoped for, "Gattaca" is good enough for a watch. The story is about a man (Ethan Hawke) who is born with the probability of generating many health problems. As such, his family neglects him for his intended short lifespan and finally, he abandons them to work for a company that launches a dozen annual trips into space. To get there, he starts as a janitor, but then decides to steal the identity of superiorly intelligent individual (Jude Law). He succeeds at becoming the new person, with his permission and help of that individual. Although, his plans for going into space become threatened by a murder than occurs at the launching station. Interesting science fiction has it slows spots, but it is still likable. The art direction and cinematography are quite good.

Million Dollar Baby

A topic of a young woman (Hilary Swank) who wants to be successful boxer would lead the viewer to expect predictable results within this movie. Not so much! Instead, it becomes an absorbing character study. A boxing gym owner (Clint Eastwood) grudgingly trains a female boxer, with the impression that she is doomed to fail, since she is too old (31) to fight and a woman for that matter (his belief is that boxing is exclusively a man's sport). However, her persistence in fighting pays off and her and her trainer begin to go on the road, leading to substantial generation of income. Unfortunately, her success in the ring leads to utter tragedy. Slightly slow start generates into an incredibly, powerful film, with great performances by Eastwood, Swank, and Morgan Freeman. The story unfolds layer by layer, successfully drawing the viewer so that we are emotionally attached to all the characters. The last thirty minutes are real shock. The boxing scenes are terrifically filmed. It may not be "Raging Bull," but it should be given so kind of recognition of greatness, because "Million Dollar Baby" is a true gem. By far much better than the overrated "Rocky."

Good Night, And Good Luck
½

Short, but very compelling documentary on legendary news broadcaster, Edward R. Murrow (David Straithaim). The film, which looks at his career from 1953 to 1955, chronicles Murrow finding the famous Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy (which shows him in old footage), a man who wanted to rid the United States of all those involved in communism movements. Murrow's ultimate goal is to exploit McCarthy for the crook he really is, even if it costs his news station, CBS, viewers and substantial amounts of money, not to mention their jobs. Fascinating from start to finish, with fine performances and a terrific jazz score. The black and white cinematography adds to the high quality of this film. I wish the film had been a bit longer, but it still proves to be a really good picture.

The King of Comedy

Considering within the previous ten years, Scorsese released powerhouse films such as "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," and especially, "Raging Bull," one would not get substantial effect from this movie, also starring Robert de Niro. I was shocked! Rupert PUPkin (De Niro), not Pumpkin, is a man who wants to break into show business as a stand-up comedian and through the likes of a TV television personality Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). The viewer is tricked a variation of times through intercutting scenes, with the thoughts that "yes, Pupkin is now a star"; "no, he is not yet a star"; and "perhaps, he will be a star." This eventually leads to Pupkin so desperate that he and deranged female sidekick (Sandra Berhnard) kidnap and hold Langford at gunpoint. The film is evil, vicious, annoying, hysterical, hilarious, and excruciating in ways that predecessor films of Scorsese were, but very different in comparison. De Niro demonstrates versatility within his career in an excellent performance, and Lewis also give a really one to accompany his. It is a sad character study, but it is a really funny film. Interesting how the swearing in this film is minimal in comparison to Scorsese's other major hits, both before and after. The scenes where De Niro is yelling at his un-seen mother may have inspired the scenes between Howard Wolowitz and his mother on the sitcom "The Big Bang Theory." Here is, yet, another great film by the master director, starring one of the best actors of all time.

Frost/Nixon
Frost/Nixon(2008)

Interesting chronicle about the days after Richard Nixon's resignation in the Mid-1970's. A British television personality, David Frost (Michael Sheen) tries to score big by trying to get a guilty confession out of the ex-president (Frank Langella) by showing an on air interview, scooping up undiscovered and theorized (by the people) faults of the disgraced leader. However, a number of problems ensue, including the fact that Frost has dig out of his whole pocket to fund the broadcast. Pretty interesting documentary of the late president, who many declared as the worst in U.S. history (probably that is not in debate because of the leadership of George Bush Jr.). One small problem I had was that I compared it with the great film "All the President's Men" which showed the events, due to the investigations of reporters Woodward/Bernstein, that lead to Richard Nixon's resignation. It wasn't as good and for that, I was somewhat disappointed. It is still good film, none-the-less, even though I wish it was in the same league as the 1976 hit.

Dangerous Liaisons
½

Adaption on Francois Choderlos de Laclos novel is ultra-juicy, for which two evil characters (Glenn Close and John Malkovich) try and humiliate a high-ranking British family by blackmailing several descendants (specifically Michelle Pfeifer and Uma Thurman). The two characters are also lovers, consistently trying to raise the stakes for one another, which ultimately puts a strain on their own relationship. However, their plan also yields success when several of their victims being entangled in their devilish affairs, due to blackmail to impregnation. Very slow paced, but comes off with really fun payoff. Performances particularly that of Close, are all very good. Script is incredibly well written and costumes bring viewer back to their days for which this story takes place. Very nice film indeed.

Henry V (The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France)

Laurence Olivier's take on the famous Shakespeare film is, for me, not as great as "Hamlet" but does have some really good sequences. The film starts out with a 24-minute play, which does not go to well since the script within the play is read by the performers and consistently falls on the floor. The story then changes course, when Olivier as the title character decides to fight France after he has been insulted. The conquest for France, which eventually leads to the English to victory, is filled with very well done battle sequences. One particular scene which initiates the war is when the whole English army lifts up their bow and arrows and shoots right at the same time. That was a real memorable scene. The one glaring problem with "Henry V" is the length. It just seems very slow at times. Perhaps another problem I have, although it really shouldn't, is that unlike "Hamlet," it isn't in black-and-white, but I don't think that is the problem. "Hamlet" is a completely different story, in which the black-and-white gave a more haunting feeling and there are ghost within than story. Actually, the colour in "Henry V" was really good touch. Could have been better, but a pretty good adaption on the Shakespeare play.

Groundhog Day

Refreshing comedy (considering the drek previously viewed by me) about a cranky weatherman (Bill Murray), who despises an upcoming event surrounding the February holiday which predicts whether it will be a longer or shorter winter. This involves travelling to a small town and his attitude towards everyone there really does drag down the crowd. After doing his stint, he falls into a bizarre cycle for which he cannot escape that day. Ways that he tries to escape: staying awake through the morning; breaking his alarm clock; trying to be nice for once; and killing himself. Amusing, entertaining film has pretty likable characters and good performance by Murray. Some of the gags are quite funny and surprisingly effective.

Chocolat
Chocolat(2000)
½

In this movie nominated for Best Picture (yup, Best Picture), Binoche takes in a woman who is on the run from her nutty husband. At the same time, a chocolate shop opens for business. In another part of town, Judi Dench is a cranky old woman who is bitter to everyone. Also, there a business man who is nasty and everyone visits the church for confession because they apparently like junk food. In the film "Chocolat," everyone is eating Chocolat, which is French for chocolate. They look like their enjoying themselves. I, on the other hand, found this dreary melodrama to be as boring as they come, not enjoying myself. Script is so lifeless; clichés are highly abundant; and the acting is forced (and Dench and Binoche were nominated at the Academy Awards). Everyone is French but few speak it and for that matter, have accents (I guess Leslie Caron, but I don't remember her character). Perfect English a plenty! Like "No Reservations" from 2007, good food wasted. Watch it if you want to cure your sleeping disorders.

Cimarron
Cimarron(1931)

I suppose the plot revolves around the establishment of Oklahoma and the settlers involved and it is deemed a western and is a Best Picture (!) and is one of the weakest winners of the gold in the history of the Academy Awards. It is also a big waste of time. Yuck! As films go, this one is pretty dull and annoying. Irene Dunne is okay in her role, but Richard Dix' performance is ridiculous and laughable. The attempts at acting by the supporting cast are oddly upsetting, along with the confusing, noisy, and barely coherent plot that accompanies the flaws with "Cimarron." The best film of that year is Fritz Lang's German "M," which is light-years better than this mess. I am not sure about the other nominees for 1931, but not one was in 1001 Movies list, like this film. What a mess and what a miss for the Oscars.

Taste of Cherry (Ta'm e Guilass)

A man drives around and around. He is looking for someone to pay all his money to for an interesting job. The viewer eventually finds out after 30 minutes what his job offering is when he picks up a young soldier. He wants to give the boy all his money after he kills himself with an overdose of sleeping pills, with his helper burying him after he goes into his pit. Pretty odd, but original film, that shows a strange side of life, with a man's willpower to kill him and find someone, because he obviously has no heirs, to give all his wealth to. Pretty depressing, but also absorbing to an extent. Some may find this film very boring, but I thought it was engaging.

Ride the High Country
½

A much less violent predecessor to Sam Peckinpah's beauty "The Wild Bunch," "Ride the High Country" is a captivating western that shows a much more tender side of the director. Steve and Gil (Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott) are re-united after years when they sign onto a job for transporting gold from mines in the high mountains to their hometown. However, Gil and his younger partner Heck (Ron Starr) want to steal the gold and run off with it, although they are not for sure on this plan. Also, another problem arises when the gang gets mixed with a complex girl (Mariette Hartley). Very good western, with nice scenery and interesting plot line, which I feel was much better than that of another 1962 western "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."

Popiól i diament (Ashes and Diamonds)

In the final days of the Second World War, a group of Polish extremists plot to murder a German officer. One (Zbigniew Cybulski), who is the leader in the assassination plot, is a playboy, fooling around girls, particularly one bartender while renting a hotel room under his intended victim. Another one tries to get into a hall where the German officer is set to be part of an evening event. Compelling at times, but could have been better. I found the film little to flabby and slow, but it was interesting and it also presented another side to those who had suffered through World War II (the Polish people that is). Pretty good film.

Julius Caesar

Solid adaption of Shakepeare's famous play has Marlon Brando playing Marc Anthony and James Mason playing Brutus. The plot follows Shakepeare's famous play, for which Julius Caesar (Louis Calhern) is killed by a number of enemies for his money, with the final, lethal stabbing caused by Brutus. Marc Anthony avenges his death by going after those who have killed him, or conspired to the death of their wealthy king. Sometimes slow and uneven, but a pretty good version of the play. Brando's performance is good, but Mason outdoes him by quite a bit. The photography, set pieces, and thankfully, the acting of Shakespeare written dialogue are all pretty well done. I don't like Shakespeare, but I did like this film.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Mr. Chips (Robert Donat) is an instructor at a boy school in England and has been there for around fifty years. One day, he falls into a sleep, of which a dream emerges recalling the days he started at the school. Chip's journey as instructor started quite tumultuous, with his students disliking him and behaving poorly and his colleagues not happy with his presence. However, everyone begins to grow on his charming attitude and they become fond of him. Another part of the story has him meeting his future wife (Greer Garson) in the rough mountain terrain of Austria and falling love. Though I would have probably asked for Best Actor to have gone to Clark Gable for "Gone With the Wind," Donat puts on a very solid performance in a nice film, that balances both accomplishment and sadness. Fairly involving and quite likeable. Garson's performance, though small, is also good.

The Train
The Train(1965)
½

Paul Scoffeld and Burt Lancaster are enemies at the end of World War II, when a train, with valuable cargo, is being transported by one side of France to the other. Scoffeld, a German officer, wants the cargo sent to Germany; Lancaster, a French railway inspector, wants it to stay within France's boundaries. However, he does not want to control the train, although the Nazi's enforce him to do so and bad things start to happen to everyone around Lancaster. The only glaring flaw with this film is Lancaster, with the fact he has a French accent and holds not consistency throughout the movie. Other than that, it is a really exciting film, moving at a really quick pace and utilizing all 133 minutes very well. Scofield's performance as the Nazi soldier is excellent and Jean Morreau also provides fine support. One of John Frankenheimer's best films.

Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe(1952)

Some sort of uninspired bore for which Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor), a knight looking for a missing king, gets mixed up with enemies, women (Joan Fontaine and Elizabeth Taylor), and an event that shows him knocking (and severely injuring, if not killing) opponents of courses with a long paddle. Climaxes with a chaotic battle scene that sparks some laughter, because people are seriously faking it when they are getting killed by arrows or swords. I am sure Richard Thorpe wanted to do a movie along the lines Michael Curtiz' "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and it was liked back then because it beat "Singin' in the Rain" for a nominee for Best Picture. Pretty embarrassing by today's standards. Weak dialogue and acting, wasting talents of both Taylor's, Fontaine, and Sanders, and the beautiful set pieces. A real shame!

Boys Town
Boys Town(1938)
½

Spencer Tracy plays a priest in in a mainly sentimental biographical film to where he builds a special school for boys. Mainly goes well, but one boy (Mickey Rooney), tries to derail his plans but causing problems between himself and Tracy and the rest of the school boys. Better than Tracy's performance in "Captains Courageous" in 1937, for which he won Oscar in this and "Boy Towns," but by no means a great film. Pretty soggy and depressing, along with the fault of being dated. I can understand why critics would reject this movie (Dave Kehr did and Leonard Maltin has reservations, which are, as usual, not listed on Rotten Tomatoes).

Gunga Din
Gunga Din(1939)

Three British soldiers (Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) are caught in middle of a very violent uprising in India in the late 1800's. One, Grant, finds out that there is a temple, which is Gunga Din, filled with diamonds for which a camp worker (Sam Jaffe, who becomes an unlikely hero) leads him to the establishment. Another event: Fairbanks Jr. is to wed his love (Joan Fontaine) when is due to finish his service within days of the violent uprisings. Grant and McLaglen scheme to stop breaking up their trio of friendship. Solid, mainly exciting film is pretty entertaining from start to finish. There is a lot of corniness and silly scenes, but that also adds to the pleasure of watching "Gunga Din." In terms of acting, Cary Grant is best of the three.

Pépé le Moko

The title character of this movie is a gangster (Jean Gabin) who is in hiding in national capital of Algeria, in which he is trying all his best to escape the police. However, a new problem arises when he falls in love with a city girl (Marielle Balin), and begins to spend a lot of time with her. She has not a clue what the background of her Pepe is. Pretty good stuff helps film move a relatively brisk pace. A bit confusing at times and perhaps a little dated, but it is still good watch.

Mr. Hulot's Holiday (Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot)

I had viewed Jacques Tati's "Play Time" a couple of weeks ago and thought the film was one of best films of the 1960's. His earlier predecessor, in which his title character, played by Tati, has his name in the film, is a shockingly funny gem. In this film, Mr. Hulot takes a trip to a small coastal town and inadvertently gets into several minor situations, surprisingly only coming out with a bandage on his nose. Considering the circumstances, he should have been in a body cast. As comedies from the 1950's go, this may be the best comedy from the decade where dramas, westerns, and mystery and suspense films dominate the great ones. It has aged incredibly well. The film contains one well calculated, clever scene after another, with refreshingly humourous results. The characters, stemming from Hulot to other citizens, are charming. The on location filming in small town for which was Saint-Marc-sur-Mar is beautiful, which makes the viewing in some way very life like. The jazz score adds to the greatness of this movie. One can tell that this film inspired the English comedy "Mr. Bean," and even though the latter is funny, this is much more original and fun to watch. Favourite scene: the opening where people are rushing from one platform to the other while an incoherent speaker announces the train's arrival zone.

The Wild Child (L'enfant sauvage)
½

A nun is in the woods picking flowers and sees a naked boy, dirty and in need of a haircut, climbing trees and running around like a dog. She alerts the town, and the people head into the forests to capture the boy. When they do, they send him to a research facility and study him. This an interesting film, because the question of the kid ended up growing in the woods remains a mystery. What happens next is a doctor, played by director Francois Truffaut, decides to teach the kid how speak, respond to sound (initially everyone thought he was deaf!), and to speak (French of course but English would be a bonus). The movie ends up being a question of this kid's behaviour can be improved upon, so he can act like a normally functioning human being. Perhaps not as powerful as it should be, this none-the-less is another really good film from the master Truffaut. It is interesting, fascinating, and bizarre; the black-and-white photography is also a nice touch. I was always interested in what happens by the end, that is, if the kid would be improved or completely cured.

The Great Ziegfeld
½

Within "The Great Ziegfeld," William Powell's title character exclaims "I don't to have play that is dated or old fashioned" or a statement somewhere along the lines of that. Unfortunately, he stared in film that fell out of date probably three years after release, garnishing the title of being one of the worst recipients of Best Picture. It is unfortunate, too, because the bad aspects of the film include the length, the acting, and the plot, as the set pieces and song pieces are not too bad. The film is autobiography on Florenz Ziegfeld, a man who wanted to create a money-making play that was new and inventive. In the process, he comes across Anna Held (Luise Rainer), to become his starring lady. Rainer's performance won her the Academy Award for Best Actress...god only knows why. This film does not make the cut and should have not taken home the gold. The Academy must have been asleep at the wheel here. Check out William Powell in what should have been the Best Picture of 1936 (a film nominated for a pile of Academy Awards including Best Actor William Powell but not Best Picture) called "My Man Godfrey," which is a superb film and has stood the test of time.

Gladiator
Gladiator(2000)

Many centuries ago, a warrior (Russell Crowe) is captured by a ringleader to become a fighter, with the objective to kill those in every coliseum his city travels to. He is brutal fighter, killing everyone he fights in the process and then it comes down to the ultimate fight, one against his evil emesis (Joquin Phoenix), who is angry at him for being granted leadership by the emesis' dying father (Richard Harris) over the kingdom. Lots of fighting, lots of blood, lots of battle scenes, but only marginally interesting. I found this film to be fairly confusing and I lost interest very quickly. Apparently, there were much historical accuracy within the movie, but I don't care. What I care about is entertainment, and I felt this film lacked in that category. Just an okay film, and for that reason, not one that deserved the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Diva
Diva(1981)

Exciting, captivating thriller about a man (Frederic Andrei), who steals a dress and the voice of an opera singer (Wilhemenia Wiggins Fernandez) by tape-recording her voice at a concert. Subsequently, he also begins a strange, plutonic relationship with the opera singer. Unfortunately, a problem occurs when he inadvertently picks up another tape that contains a confession of a sex worker, stating that the police chief in Paris, to whom she worked for, is the ringleader of a prostitute and drug ring. Two brutal looking thugs, employees of this chief, stalk the man down from one part of the city to the next. Exhilarating film steps from one to scene to the next, with a combination of murder, blackmail, fascination, explosions, and chase scenes. One chase scene involves a motorcycle run through the Paris subway system. The characters are all interesting, including Andrei's, who is both innocent and evil, since he wants to profit illegally off the opera singer's voice and is a thief, yet is also a bystander in a murder. Outstanding, severely overlooked film, possibly because it was released the same year as the iconic, great "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

Jalsaghar (The Music Room)

Sayatjit Ray's "Jalsaghar" is about a man who lives in a kingdom, in which everyone is at his command or service. However, though he is in command, events take place that are beyond his control and are not in his favour, such as the deaths of his family members. This eventually drives him to insanity. Made in the middle of Ray's Apu Trilogy but not part of it, Jalsaghar is a unique movie, which contains exotic dances and interesting music. It is well filmed, but it does not rank in the same category as other movies. It still interesting to watch, of course, because the music is very memorable.

The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear

Yes I liked this film. The Naked Gun series has a tendency to fall under the radar in terms of quality entertainment, but I have enjoyed all of them. In the second part of the series, a Lt. Drebin (Leslie Neilson) embarks on a mission to stop an evil mastermind (Robert Goulet) from destroying the world by using energy sources in dangerous way (resources being nuclear power). Also, he wants to stop him from stealing his love (Prescilla Presley). Yaah, the jokes are pretty bad, but the important thing, it allows the viewer, or at least me, to escape the world. Many jokes are fairly and ultimately funny. If you turn your brain off, you'll succeed through this.

Body Heat
Body Heat(1981)

A lawyer (William Hurt), who loves to sleep around with every woman in a hot Florida city, becomes overwhelmed by a particularly attractive woman (Kathleen Turner, who ain't so attractive these days), who begins by playing hard to get. She's married, but they embark on a steamy affair, eventually wanting to plot murder against the husband so they can continue their adultery and rake up a fortune based on the husband's wealth. The plan to murder him proves successful, but strange mysteries and consequences occur soon after his death. Definitely dated mystery and suspense still has some punch to it, even though some aspects, especially the dialogue, are pretty much flat. There is always intrigue within the film for which I wanted to know what will happen next, and the score along with sex scenes are pretty good. As well, the constant feel of a heat wave in Florida works for the viewer, well at least it did for me. As pointed out by other critics, Billy Wilder's 1944 masterpiece "Double Indemnity," which has aged a million times better than "Body Heat," was the inspiration to the film, although MacMurray's character was an insurance salesman, betting on a profit from an accidental death insurance (double indemnity is an insurance clause); and the film was not as graphic.

Le Cercle Rouge

Intriguing thriller finds one criminal (Gian Maria Volonte) escaping from a train, avoiding capture by the police officer, who initially holds him captive during the trip and ends up pursuing him, at the escape and in further days to follow. A second criminal (Alain Delon), recently released from jail and asking a friend (Yves Montand) at gunpoint for a significant loan in order to buy a car, also goes on the run after killing a police officer in a pool hall. Both criminals join forces, and along with the friend, scheme to rob a building in order to get a giant, valuable gem. Mainly compelling thriller works most of the time, although it is flabby in spots and could have been trimmed. It is also slow at times, which does take away from the suspense. However, the performances are good though, and the film at least has an exciting payoff. The heist is also very well calculated.

A Story of Floating Weeds (Ukikusa monogatari)

Similar in terms of plot to that of "Floating Weeds" from 1958, an actor returns to his family in a small Japanese fishing village. The son believes he is the uncle rather than his father, and a mistress who once had a fling with the actor tries to ruin. The 1934 version, in comparison to Yosujiro Ozu's remake, is silent, incredibly silent, and sadly for me, it takes away from the film. Most silent films at least some music in the background to guild it along. This one didn't even have that, and I was not much of a fan of this film for mainly that reason. It was hard to pay attention to the story, which could have been a lot better with some sort of score. I could have played music from ABBA or The Beatles as a complimentary soundtrack. Not such a great film; the remake is much better.

Seven (Se7en)

David Fincher's chilling mystery and suspense is a disturbing, intense, masterful study on a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who has to satisfy the seven deadly sins from the bible. David Mills (Brad Pitt) and William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) are assigned as detectives to crack the murders and determine if, indeed, they are connected to one another. However, when they are able to figure out the killer's headquarters, the fascination turns into a frightening experience. Transitioning from a film looking at the process of trying to crack the case to survive and save lives, "Se7en" is a film that will keep your eyes glued to the screen from the first to the very last minute. The cinematography and photography are first-rate, and the performances, particularly that of Freeman and Spacey are fantastic. The conclusion will never be forgotten. Probably one of the best films of the 1990's.

Nights of Cabiria (Le Notti di Cabiria)

Frederico Felini's films are often sad, but a real joy to watch, and Nights of Cabiria is a truly wonderful film by the master. Cabiria (Guilietta Masina) is a hooker looking for love, and is constantly getting used by her men. The one at the beginning steals her money and tries to kill by purchase into the fast moving river. She thankfully survives thanks to some passersby who save her, but she continues her journey into pain and neglect. Cabiria is also full of herself, stating she has money and she owns her own house. Masina is magnificent as the lead actress, constantly getting into trouble and demeaning herself to new and bizarre lows throughout the film, not even learning from her mistakes. Interestingly enough, her and Felini were husband and wife until his death (a 50 year marriage), and they did three movies together. This, and "La Strada" from 1954 rank among the director and actress' finest films (the other film was Juliet of Spirits from 1965 which I have not seen). The additional characters, score, exuberance, and visuals are truly a delight, making this one fantastic wonder from Italy.

Knife in the Water

A middle-aged couple pick up a young hitchhiker on their way to the lake, for which they have a boat stationed. They invite this young man onto their boat for their joyride on the lake. A plotline that has been recycled many a time, which results in a surprising conclusion, is very tense from start to finish. Polanski's break through film often fools the viewer from one situation to the next. The payoff may not satisfy some viewers, but this first time film for a very famous director is worth more than a curious glance.

Gimme Shelter
½

Documentary recalling a major free outdoor concert, put on by the Rolling Stones, at the point of Altamont, located in the hills east of San Francisco in December 1969. The purpose of this concert was in response to the major one in upstate New York, that being Woodstock. Sadly, the concert did not lead to the same results as Woodstock, turning into both an utter mess and tragedy, for which the protectors of the Rolling Stones, who were the Hell's Angels, murdered an irate fan. Very interesting documentary that shows live performances by the Stones, along with Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Ike and Tina Turner. It also documents the craziness of the crowd, the bizarreness of these people, along with the actual murder scene. One small issue, though, is the lack of footage on the other members of the band, which has been pointed out be many other critics, and more so on Mick Jagger, who mainly did the documentary. However, the film is still very compelling and exemplifies the odd behaviours of the hippies.

Floating Weeds (Ukigusa)
½

An actor (Ganjuro Nakamara) returns from his acting career to his small hometown village along the shore to be with his child and the mother. However, the child, who is now a grown man, refers to him as his live-in uncle, with the belief that his father passed away when he was very young. Unfortunately, when the actor returns, a woman, claiming to be his mistress wants to ruin his life by exposing him for the fake that he really his and wrecking his relationship with both his son and the mother. Yasujiro Ozu's "Floating Weeds" is not as good as his 1953 work "Tokyo Story," but it is a very interesting character study and examination of life surrounding theatre work in small town Japan. Though the film runs at a fairly slow pace, the set pieces, bizarre photography, and performances make up for the film's minor shortcomings. Very well acted and also, a visual treat.
Note: Though this irrelevant to the review, notice how "Tokyo Story" has 37 reviews and no consensus while "Floating Weeds" has 20 reviews and a consensus. Huh?! Just like to point out Rotten Tomatoes' incompetence.

The World of Apu

The final beauty of the trilogy finds Apu, alone in the world, dropping out of college, looking for a job and getting married out of the blue. It turned out that his friend, Pulu, had a cousin who was about to get married, but the groom was mentally disturbed and unable to commit to marriage, and therefore, Apu became the groom. The marriage succeeds, but unfortunately, turns tragic, when she becomes pregnant and delivers the baby very early in the process, dying as a result. Even though the baby, a son, survives, Apu's world turns upside down and he goes astray. What a sad movie. What an experience. Another crowning achievement for the Indian film director, with fine performances, cimetography, and storyline all around. Though circumstances in the film are devastating, the conclusion is absolutely satisfying. The whole trilogy must be watched by avid moviewatchers.

Aparajito
Aparajito(1956)

Following the film "Pather Panchali," Sayatjit Ray's "Aparajito" is an overwhelming masterpiece that has vastly grown with age. This superior motion picture shows the family in the city, Benaris to be exact, where tragic circumstances (both in the previous and current picture), leave the father and sister dead due to illnesses. This causes Apu and his mother to move out of the city, where Apu goes to grade school and then gets the opportunity to go college, leaving his mother in a very lonesome state. Even though this film takes place in the 1950's and is in India, someone today like me living in Canada could sadly find themselves in the same situation. All the situations are realistically depicted. The loneliness the mother faces is so overwhelming, that it eventually leads to a significant decline in her health and sadly, her death. If you don't feel tears run down your face, you did not watch this film properly. Absolutely stunning!

Pather Panchali
½

The first of Sayatjit Ray's Apu Trilogy films presents the title character, Apu, as a child growing up. He, along with his sister, mother, aunt, and father, live in India's interior, where it is combination of jungle and fields. They are fairly poor, but are able to cope with life, even though the father at one point is working as a bookkeeper for a friend and eventually, has to travel away from home to find work elsewhere. The film shows the behaviours and surroundings of Apu very clearly and this genuine gem for the Bengali classic, with a very interesting looking at the hardships of those living in India decades ago. I was not as emotionally perplexed as I should have been, but it is still a very nice film, with some very unfortunate situations.

Odd Man Out
Odd Man Out(1947)

Four men plan out a bank robbery in a local mill, for which there is a getaway car in the process. With firearms, they successfully rob the finance part of the mill, but unfortunately, the process ends with a tragic situation. One of the men, Johnny (James Mason), gets into a fight with a gun wielding employee. This man shoots Johnny in the shoulder, but in return, Johnny mortally wounds the employee. He gets away in the car, but only after a few blocks, he falls out and escapes on foot. A film for which the viewers' most likely begin watching the film with dislike towards the main characters, since they are criminals. However, the changes, after Johnny escapes on foot and tries to make his way back to the headquarters, with aid from passers buy who actually do not support him...nor are against. As film goes, this one is fantastic. The suspense from start to finish is wonderful, with a fantastic plotline to boot. James Mason shines as the lead actor under the marvellous direction of Carol Reed. Remember, Reed released this film two years before his class "The Third Man." It's too bad neither of these two films was nominated for Best Picture, and his 1968 film "Oliver" sadly took home the gold.

Sansho the Bailiff (Sanshô dayû)

The same Akira Kurosawa's great "The Seven Samurai" was released, this extremely underrated work, with only ten reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, was released. "Sansho the Bailiff" is about a family that gets split up during time of political unrest in Japan. The father is the first to leave the family, in order to fight for his kingdom, while the mother and children escape. Unfortunately, the children and mother are also split up, with the children being sold into slavery and the other being sent to another land. The children are left to fight on their own, for which they spend at least ten years in a slavery camp, providing free services to the ruthless title character. Mainly told through the eyes of the children, it is a sad, beautiful movie that is intense, well-acted, stunningly photographed, and emotional stirring. The ending provides satisfaction and heartache. Once again, the Japanese film industry has released a film that should be considered among the greats.

Children of Paradise (Les Enfants du Paradis)

"Children of Paradise" follows a woman and a number of men who drool over her appearances. The movie takes place in the in the early 1800's during a fairly joyous period, where plays and acting scenarios are fairly abundant among the citizens. Claire (Arletty) has four different men, for which she is torn between, following her: an aristocrat (Louis Salou); someone who steals (Marcel Harround); a mime (Jean-Louis Barrault); and an actor (Pierre Brasseur). All four men try their best to woe the woman over a period of several years, and they succeed...at times. Long but entertaining film shows a really interesting side of France during the 19th century. The best parts of the film are the stage and play bits, because they are really fun watch and seem real. Other parts are also good, such as the affairs materializing, but length of the film gets tiring. Even though it runs over three hours, it is still an interesting movie to get through and photography and set pieces are very good.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg)
½

Have you ever seen a musical in which every line is sung before? I had not until watching this very charming movie. Guy Foucher (Nino Castelnuovo, Italian actor by the way) works as a mechanic at a gas station while awaiting his call to the army, while balancing a relationship with his gorgeous girl Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve). He eventually gets his call to serve and spends one last night with Genevieve, which leads to her becoming impregnated. Guy heads off for his two years of service, while the other begins to fall in love with a wealthy suitor Roland (Marc Michel), to her mother's happiness (Anne Vernon). One of many musical released during the 1964 (along with "My Fair Lady," "Mary Poppins," and "A Hard Day's Night"), and is better than the lot of them. Highly unique to see that the script provides every lyric to the film and score is quite nice. Plot is familiar to that of particular the movie "Fanny" from 1961, but still makes for a really nice experience.

The Sorrow and the Pity (Le Chagrin et la Pitié)

One of the longest films I have ever seen at four hours and ten minutes none-the-less has an astonishing amount of power. The lengthy documentary chronicles the days of France during the Second World War or from the years of 1939 to 1945. Told through a collection of interviews, conducted mainly in the late 1960's, survivors and prisoners describe a theories of events and incidences that occurred those days, which include the capturing of France; the changing of Paris to Auvergne as the capital from 1940 to 1944; the debate of the Charles de Gaulle's usefulness as president during the war; the treatment of Jews within the nation; and the survival stories of those who were imprisoned and nearly faced death. So many items discussed throughout the film make for an engrossing experience, along with the old black-and-white footage placed into to show images in Paris during the Second World War. My favourite part, which was in the first half, was the discussion on the movies that the Germans implemented into the theories, which were mainly propaganda films, which not even the Germans who moved to France liked. The stories of people's sentences are very interesting and the fact that the French actually did not mind the Jewish, treating them as equal citizens. Very long and talkative, but ultimately impressive film. Due to the length, my suggestion is to watch in two two-hour installments.

Playtime
Playtime(1973)

M. Hulot (Jacques Tati) leaves Paris Orly International Airport and ends up in a technologically advanced (that is for 1967) city, which stupefies him. He becomes utterly disoriented and starts to wander, trying to understand the technologically changes that are obviously so beyond him. This includes heading into an office building where cubicles and elevator buttons make sounds when people touch them. Hulot is completely perplexed and mortified by these instances. At the same time, an American tourist (Barbara Dennek) is adjusted to the innovations, and eventually their lives intertwine with one another. What a bizarre film. Not much in terms of plot or dialogue but tremendously well done and frighteningly relevant. Terrifically filmed, photographed, set-up, and even in some sort of natural way, acted. The scenes in fancy restaurant are outstanding the music played and along with failure of the building are both wonderful and hilarious. The collection of characters makes this film so fun that it requires repeated viewings by movie watchers. The relevance issue reminds me how I have to deal with technological changes, such as text messaging on cell phones or changes with the Internet. Easily ranks as one of the best movies out of France ever made.

Lawrence of Arabia

David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" is an epic chronicling the life of a World War I hero, T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole). The film begins with his death in a motorcycle accident, and then it flashes back to him being sent to the Middle East to fight against the Arab revolt. There, he makes enemies and befriends others, including a guide (Omar Sharif), whose life is cut short when he drinks from a private well. The film, which on Best Picture of 1962 along with six other Oscars, has been deemed as one of the greatest films ever made. For me, it is good, not great. I think the movie is fairly overrated and unnecessarily overshadows a number of other great films from 1962 that have now gained the recognition they deserve (this especially includes "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Jules and Jim"). One problem I have is the length. It is too long and there are not enough memorable scenes to support the 220 or so minutes it takes to watch the film. The other problem is O'Toole. He indeed looks like Lawrence, but his acting does not fit the role. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther was one of the few wrote a negative review on the film, just on the basis of his performance and I agree with him. It is not all that great, or for that matter, that good. The Best Actor Academy Award of 1962 went to Gregory Peck for "To Kill a Mockingbird," which also for me is not one of the best films of the year. However, the film does have great cinematography and very well staged battle scenes. Watchable but given way to much hype.

The Innocents

A tutor (Deborrah Kerr) gets hired at a mansion for which her position requires her to teach two young school children. Both children seem relatively smart, but happenings begin to occur. Their actions begin to become erratic and Kerr also starts to see things, including people in the house. Sounds like good mystery and suspense, and seems to be respected by a lot of people. Unfortunately, I was let down. I found the first sixty minutes (of the running time of approximately 100) too long, and the film was unable to recover from the slog. It also seemed too melodramatic to be taken seriously, and some parts of the movie just seemed utterly silly. At least the camerawork is well done. I was really looking forward to watching this, and with the end result, I feel so disappointed. Too bad (sigh).

The Rescuers
The Rescuers(1977)
½

Two mice (Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor) are on a mission to rescue an orphaned child who has been kidnapped by an evil, diamond hungry trashy whore (yes that is the best was to describe this character). They attempt to do so, but it takes a while to succeed. It also takes a while for the movie to heat up, and by the end, it is almost too late. Not one of Disney's greatest movies. The creators still had "101 Dalmatians" kidnapping style film with an animal focus on their minds with the kidnapping and they failed to re-create it in "The Aristocats." They were marginally more successful with "The Rescuers," but it was still not a great feature. The mice are cute, but the plot runs short (the film is only 74 minutes long) and they should have had a few more attempts in the rescuing process. I am little disappointed, but I suppose children may find it entertaining.

Little Caesar

Interesting crime feature for which a corrupt police officer (Edward G. Robinson) leads a police station into success after busting a number of crime rings. Ironically, he has a dark side attached to him, for which he has bad deals that have not been favourable to him with mobsters. He is ultimately in an ugly state with these criminals along with his co-workers by the end. Typical and dated, but good enough action feature, with a strong performance by Robinson.

42nd Street
42nd Street(1933)

Surprisingly charming and likable musical with an ensemble cast about a group of performers putting on a show in New York City theatre, along the title street. It is mainly drama that surrounds the issues and inconveniences regarding the preparation for the show. Storylines include a romance building between one of the managers and a stage performing along with the exhaustion of another performing; another one's ties with gang related activities; and ultimately, the one who can't perform in the show at the last minute to an injury. I suppose these plots are bit cliché, but the songs, dancing, and script are what get the film rolling. It is also not too long and even though it is nearly 80 years old, it works as nice entertainment.

Stroszek
Stroszek(1977)

A man gets released from prison for his mischievous deeds, from the looks of things related to alcoholism. He is in the city and meets a woman, for which is a friend he had interacted with before he went to prison and is being picked on by several other people. There is also an old guy and all three agree that they are sick of atmosphere of Germany and decide to immigrate to the United States. They pick, of all places, Indiana for destination of living. Then they lead excruciatingly lazy lives. Very strange film, with perhaps some of the dumbest, sloppiest characters you could ever see on reel. Yet, that is the point of the film and it is kind of real. What these people expected was that they would get rich by sitting around and doing nothing, rather than work their way towards success. Unfortunately, that is what a lot people are like today, even immigrants and director Werner Herzog does a pretty good job at expressing people like this throughout his film. Quite interesting, but utterly bizarre.

Eraserhead
Eraserhead(1977)

Strange, extremely B-movie budget horror film that has somehow spawned success. The film follows a lonely man (Jack Nance), who knocks up a woman (Charlotte Stewart), and they have a baby. The baby is not human, though, but a strange creature that cannot nearly be easily described. The film meant to be a taunt towards the raising of children shortly after birth. It is pretty miserable, but also effective. There are scenes that are hilarious, but also scenes that are sick and also scenes that strike emotional chords. Even though the view is appalled by the creature the new-born (among other things, like the children has bowl movements when being served during dinner), it is very watchable, mainly because it is intriguing, funny, and unique. One can tell it was made a very small budget, according to resources, only $100,000!

The Crying Game
½

A black British soldier (Forrest Whitaker) is kidnapped in Ireland during a fair and is taken hostage by some insane Irish radicals. Their intent to kill him within a few days, although one (Stephen Rea) befriends him. After he is dead (but not for the reasons one suspects), Rea tries to locate his girlfriend...in which he does, if want to finish the sentence off like that. At the time, Rea's colleagues try to locate him and recruit in assassination plot. Really strange though very intense political, romantic thriller with some very surprise twists during the movie. Boy did my mouth drop in one specific scene! My one concern was the swearing, which seemed too much at times, and a little overdone (even "Goodfellas" and "Pulp Fiction" which used curse words much more seemed more appropriate than the way the script used them here). Other than that, it was a very good film. Interestingly, the title cover, featuring Miranda Richardson, for this film resembles that of the one featuring Uma Thurman of "Pulp Fiction."

Eyes Without a Face
½

A young woman (Edith Scob) loses her face in a car accident thanks to her surgeon father (Pierre Brasseur), although her eyes avoid the unfortunate fate. The father and an assistant (Alida Valli) scheme to find another young woman's pretty face, for which they will surgically remove to use on the daughter's face. In the meantime, the daughter is forced to wear a mask that stragecially fits on the surface of her face. Fairly sick horror film, released the same year as Hitchcock's "Psycho." Not as great, but still really good. Well-acted, fascinating, troubling, amusing, and I suppose, part of the French New Wave. Interesting to see actress Alida Valli, who's most famous film role was in "The Third Man," within this film, especially since she is Italian and not French. Worth the watch, especially for the very funny score.

Great Expectations

David Lean's take on the lengthy Charles Dickens' 799 page novel yields is his greatest film. Pip (Anthony Wager as a boy; John Mills as an adult) begins his life under the care of his blacksmith and older sister. One day, he is intervened by a criminal (Finley Curie) in a graveyard, who forces him to get him food and wine. Pip does that and he almost gets caught, had the criminal not taken the blame for himself, allowing him avoid any blame what-so-ever. Then, he ends up at the mansion of an old lady (Marita Hunt), who cares for a snotty orphan named Estella (Jean Simmons as a girl; Valerie Hobsan as an adult). At the same place, he meets a soon-to-be long-time friend Herbert (John Fort as a boy; Alec Guinness as an adult), and they begin to fight. As he grows, he moves from his small house along the coast to London to become an apprentice.

"Great Expectations" has seen widely acclaimed since the day of release in 1946, and has continued to garnish praise in the years since. I had strong expectations for this film, even though I was wary of the old English language, since it was a Dickens novel, and the fact I had not read the book, and still, I got great results. The imagery is magnificent, the storytelling is breathtaking, and the rest of feature is just magnificent. The acting and score are terrific additions to the brilliant aspects of this movie. A superior feature, and indeed, it is much better than Lean's other films, including the Best Pictures "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Bridge on the River Kwai." Also, "Great Expectations" adds to the great films released in 1946. It was also lucky to be of the few right ones to be nominated for Best Picture, but in 1947 instead. It was pushed back a year. Unfortunately, it lost to the not-so-great film "Gentleman's Agreement."

Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction(1994)

Vincent and Jules (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson) are hit-men for a drug-pin king, Marsellus (Ving Rhames), who swear insanely but have surprisingly intelligent conversations. Mia (Uma Thurman) is the drug-pin king's wife, who as infinite access to dangerous narcotics, yet under the influence she would likely be able to complete a Master's degree. Butch (Bruce Willis) is a fighter, who disobeys his boss, the drug-pin king and ends up on the run after winning a major event (and also killing the opponent in the process). Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) are robbers, who find it too easy to rob banks, discussing their criminal activities in a restaurant, and then, they decide to hold up the restaurant. The rest of the characters (played by director Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken, and others) are just weird.

"Pulp Fiction" is very crude, evil, vicious, and disgusting at times, and unfortunately, with all those terms in mind, it is a great movie. It is moviemaking at its most bizarre and quite ironic. Most of these characters, the ones specifically in the drug industry, should be brain-dead idiots. Instead, they could be majors in English for that matter. The film is both unusual and funny, with black-humour during many scenes. The narrative structure is truly fascinating, and adds to the peculiar experience. The weird thing is it takes time for the humour to settle. I thought it was a really, really exciting film at first, and then the facts finally rested in my brain and fully determined it is a truly excellent movie. One wonders if Tarantino thought it would be the success it was.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Third time is the charm with me and the Academy Awards: this film holds the records for winning the most Academy Awards (11 along with "Titanic" and "Ben-Hur") and the most awards without losing a nomination to another film, beating "The Last Emperor." That being said, the Return of the King, continues the journey of the frightened characters. The final battle between the humans and the Orcs comes done, with unusual looking creatures, that replicate mammoths and rhinocerouses playing a role in the spectacularly illustrated scenes. At the time, Frodo and Sam, and there creepy friend, Smeagol, who we discover held the ring at one point, which turned him into a murderer and from human to little monster, is much more than meets the eye. Admittingly so, the film is a bit flabby in the first bit, but results are still beautiful. Everything plays out tremendously well, with a fantastic cast and spectacular special effects and camera work, this brings together film so brilliantly staged and utterly exhilirating. This may be the best film series of them all, evening succeeding past trilogies or sequel sets, such as the Godfather and the Star Wars films. Masterfully well done.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Continuing on with the journey, the characters have now split: Frodo and his friend Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Aston, respctively) are continuing their journey with the ring, but are now accompanied by a suspicious character, Smeagol (Andy Serkis); the two hobbits, Pippin and Merry (Dominic Monoghan and Billy Boyd, respectively) have now been captured by Orc's and go on their own quest to stop them; and the remaining men begin to discover the horrors that the Orc's and along with the evil kingdom have caused the world. In addition, Gandolf (Ian McKlennan) returns after he falls down a cravass in underground cave after battle a fire-breathing dragon. As opposed to the 179 minute theatrical release, I watched the 225 minute extended-cut and it is astonishingly superb. This is an unbelievable experience, filled with life, involvement, beauty, and capitalizing on the superb traits of its predecessor. The three hours and 45 minutes flew by. Length is never a problem, nor anything else, in this glorious film!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

I had been putting off watching this film for a long time, because of the relatively long length and the fact that I had not read the J.R. Tolken novels. To say the least, my fears of not liking this film were diminished during the experience. A powerful ring, which had gone missing after several battles in the fact centuries, is uncovered by a hobbit named Bilbo (Ian Holms, shockingly!) and this, in turn, is discovered by a friend of his named Gandolf (Ian McKlennan). He takes the ring away and Bilbo ages severly as a result. The ring is than given to Frodo (Elijah Wood). Soon after, the long journey to bring the ring to its rightful home persists. Though long at 178 minutes, this is an impressive movie, for which the characters begin their battles with Orcs and the cruel individual who controls and wants to takeover the world. I don't really want to go in detail in giving the plotline away, but I will say this: the special effects, cinematography, acting (surprisingly), and script are first rate. Truly a great start to the trilogy.

Morocco
Morocco(1930)

Early film from 1930 stills has entertainment value. During World War I, an American infantry unit enters a cafe in Morocco, for which soldier Gary Cooper is part of. There, he meets a flirtatious female singer, Marlene Dietrich, and they begin to entangle in brief, but deep relationship. However, Cooper begins to fall for another woman (Eve Southern), who is married, and the relationship between him and Dietrich disintigrates. Has not mainly stood the test of time, but it is an interesting movie in the sense that it shows two of the most famous stars on screen during the transition from silent to talkie films. Only an hour and a half in length, so worth more than a glance.

Minority Report

John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is a police captain in the year 2054, and part of a special unit that is able to prevent murders by reading the minds of the assailants before the act occurs. This includes an opening scene for which one murder almost happens, but gets avoided, when the husband is caught before killing his wife and her lover. However, the tables of the unit turn when Anderton, himself, is predicted in murdering a man for which he has never met. His life turns completely upsidedown and the unit tries to hunt him down. Not one of Spielberg's best, as the RT consensus suggests, but it is still a pretty good film. The special effects and acting are fairly well done, along with the fascinating plot. The length of the movie, however, is a little long. I also felt it was not as involving as his other hits, such as "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." However, it is hard to match early craftmanship as superb as that with his previous films.

Brick
Brick(2006)

Strange thriller for which a teenager (Joseph Love Hewitt) gets entangled in deep mystery for which his girlfriend is found slain outside a sewer. As a result, he decides to embark on the task in finding out who killed her, but he endures a modest amount of violence within the process. In addition, he also takes copious amounts of drugs which render him dissilutional at times. This bizarre independent film is an interesting make, with odd situations and excrutiating confusing dialogue. A good portion of the film, because of the script for Hewitt, is fairly incoherent and guesses have to be taken by the audience to forward the plot. Nevertheless, it makes for one very interesting experience for a viewer. I thought it was actually quite intriguing.

Taken
Taken(2009)

I suppose this may be one of my first reviews that is outside the majority. I actually liked this film. It isn't a great thriller by any means, but it is fun. Liam Neeson plays an secret agent who is assigned to protect and save others. Unfortunately, his daughter falls victim to an abduction ring in Europe, specifically France, with the intent of her captors of turning her into a prostitute, to be part of their massive empire. It is a silly film at times, particularly the scene between Neeson and the singer in regards to getting cliched advice, but it is quite exciting at times, and therefore, I found it to be worth the watch.

The Manchurian Candidate

One of the greatest films of all time, "The Manchurian Candidate" follows the paths of two soldiers who fought in the same infantry during the Korean War. One, Raymond (Laurence Harvey), is put under a bizarre, hypnotic spell that causes him to re-act to the red queen within a standard deck of cards and to re-act in a way of violence to those who are possibly communist. His evil, EVIL mother (Angela Lansbury) uses him to kill those that are pinpointed as communists so that his stepfather (James Gregory) can be in the running for presidency. The other soldier, Marco (Frank Sinatra), becomes haunted by these bizarre, sickening, disturbing dreams of a hostage taking event that may or may not have taked place with him and Raymond back in Korea. Soldiers in the infantry are being murdered by Raymond, one by one. In addition, he becomes courted the most mysterious Rosie (Janet Leigh).

In the year in which two of the most respected films of all time, "Lawrence of Arabia" and "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Manchurian Candidate" stands in another league compared to these famous movies. A second viewing yields more mysteries, more involvement, more understanding, more beauty. The sequences are harsh and frightening. The assassinations are cold and calculated with such realism. The ending sequence of events are thrilling and cannot be forgotten (and remember this was released the year before the JFK assassination!). The opening score is one of the best attached to any film. The performances are superb from all cast members. A political thriller masterpiece!

The Shawshank Redemption

One of the chief complaints against this film is its inefficient use of its 142 or so minutes. Not sure why. Take it from me, every minute of this film is highly engrossing and fascinating, not forced or flabby for one minute. Essentially the plot is Robbins is convicted is a double murder that he claims he did not commit and is sentenced two life sentences at Shawshank prison in Maine, where he befriends other inmates including Morgan Freeman. The greatness of this film lies in the fact that the story unfolds in layers and Robbins and Freemans' characters essentially build a hierarchy of work within the prison. One could say it is the "Casablanca" of the 1990's, because the characters, story, and situations are so memorable and the ironies abound are incredible. The concluding 40 minutes are truly magnificent. Gunton's character goes from what supporting to sinister adds to the assets of this major work. Freeman's narration adds to beauty of this movie, as well as the chemistry between him and Robbins and the other characters. Shawshank has been praised for all the right reasons. A must-see movie!

Of Human Bondage

Sadly for Davis and Howard, their once fine drama has turned to be creaky in this day and age. Leslie Howard, who is a prospective doctor, falls for a waitress (Bette Davis). They start into an affair, although she eventually, or she says, finds another love and marries. He still has feelings for her, and he then discovers she is pregnant with that other man's child and isn't actually married, or even in a relationship to him. Then he discovers it's his child and she eventually goes mad. Even despite this plot, the execution is less than satisfying and has not stood the test of time. Davis performance is way over the top! Two of the few virtues is the set pieces and score, and that is it. This is not by any means a film that has aged well.

Shine
Shine(1996)
½

"Shine" features Geoffrey Rush in his Oscar winning performance as a mentally disturbed pianist. Funny thing though, he is not in half of this film. Generally, a good chunk of the film, most of the first hour that is, chronicles the man's, who by the way is David Helfgott, life as a teenager (Noah Taylor), who was troubled by his thoughtless, overbearing father (Armin Mueller Stahl). David's father controls his life and wants him to play the piano under his supervision and within the home country of Australia, although they are Jewish family. Eventually, David leaves his family for school, with his father disowning him and moves to prestige school in England. Sadly, though, his playing piano and thought of not seeing his father drives him mad. Even though Rush is only half the film, his performance is compelling, along with Stahl, and the rest of the cast. His character does check into a mental institution, where he finds love, and surprisingly this adds a nice touch to the story. The score, which is essentially piano pieces, are terrific to listen to. Generally, a very upbeat, interesting film, that manages to draw a very satisfying conclusion.

Freaks
Freaks(1932)
½

One of the most bizarre film from the 1930's. A circus comes to town, and the result is odd. Those that are part of circus crew include conjoined twins, a half man and half woman (hemaphrodite it looks like), midgets, a man without legs, a man without legs and arms, a muscle man, and gorgeous broad. The broad however is the one calls her co-workers "freaks!" It was released exactly 20 years before "The Greatest Show on Earth," also a circus film, and has aged much, much better than the predecessor (which was pretty embarrassing, especially since that one Best Picture). This an alarming film, featuring those with deformaties and mental problems, yet is also very effective in its presentation. Not much in terms of plot and some scenes will cause your hairs on your skin to stand, but it is worth the watch. Possibly the best horror film from the early 1930's.

A Farewell to Arms

As I much appreciate the star actor, Gary Cooper, I found this film to be a dissapointment. Cooper stars as a soldier to finds love in a World War I camp. He meets a nurse (Helen Hayes), and the spent several short periods of time together enjoying each other's company. Sadly, Cooper has to return to war and Hayes has been moved to another camp. I wanted to like this film, but I it found slow and relatively dated. It just didn't have the magic that it once had back in 1932 and alas, I could only marginally accept it. I will admit, however, the special effects were pretty explosive and there were few scenes with some passion.

Secrets & Lies

In a surburban town within the United Kingdon, an optometrist (Marianne Jean Baptiste), who was adopted when she an infant, recently loses her mother, and years prior, her father had also passed away. She then decides that it is time to research her birth parents. In another part of town, a mother (Brenda Blethyn), has to deal with several situations. First, her strident relationship with her older daughter (Claire Rushbrook), who is a city worker mainly picking litter on the street, who seems high embarrassed to be around her (and the irony is she isn't all that appealing herself), especially when she is with her boyfriend. Second, her daughter-in-law (Phyllis Logan), married to her photographer son (Timothy Spall), is quite annoyed with her because they have decided not to have children, although "decided" may not be the reason they have not had children. Finally, her long kept secret, which is about to come alive thanks to the optometrist.

The deliberately slow paced "Secrets and Lies" is surprisingly perplexing and stunning look at the lives of characters connecting in a situation where re-unites with an additional offspring. The film is sort of like "Tokyo Story," of which we, the viewer, examine the different lives of the characters and the connections they make even with their vast differences. It seems so real, almost documentary like. When the characters of Marienne Jean Baptiste Brenda Blethyn finally meet, despite their differences, they manage to cope with it and begin what seems like a life long relationship. The performances from the film are so beautiful, particularly Brenda Blethyn who is so poignant and meticulous. Filmmaking from the 1990's at its best.

In the Bedroom

A family barbeque is in the midst, with one couple (Marisa Tomei and Nick Stahl) who are very much in love. There are two unique factors within this couple's relationship: the wife is much older than the son (more than a decade) and has two kids. The parents (Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson), are unstandably, not big fans of this relationship, especially during the barbeque, when the woman's soon-to-be ex husband (Willaim Mapother) interupts, wanting to take the kids for the evening, a possible indication to the viewer that he wants her back in his life. As the story unfolds, we start to understand the consequences of the relationship and the growing, irratic behaviour of the man. Eventually, the younger man, gets caught in the crossfire, and tragically, is shot and killed. Then the film takes off.

"In the Bedroom" is heartbreakingly effective film. From the point when Stahl's character is murdered, we really never see Tomei's character much after that, but more of Spacek and Wilkinson's characters, the parents of the young man of course, going through the incredible grieving process. The pain, suffering, emotional damages, take a toll, understandably, on their own relationship, and leads to even more shocking circumstances. Spacek and Wilkinson performances are so stunning, that this marks major milestones in their careers. The camera observes every moment torture these two characters go through. The last thirty minutes of the film are astonishing! Excrutiatingly painful to watch and observe, but thorougly compelling, and perhaps, one of the greatest films released after the year 2000.

Robot Monster

The film is 66, count them, 66 minutes long (!) and the scenes last forever. This moronic concoction tells of us of gorilla in a space helmet from another planet, who apparently (and this point I vastly lost interest), rids the world of humans except one family. The film takes place in a cave and narrow canyon. The end result: pretty pointless. The 3-D images ruin the movie totally, along with stale acting and the stupid creature that apparently is a killing machine. The quality and sound are also amazingly poor. The movie drags on and on and on with no end in sight. I have seen films recently more than double this length which go by much quicker. I will admit, however, that I was surprised the composer of the embarassing score was Elmer Bernstein, who did scores for famous films like "The Ten Commandments" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." Hopefully, he eventually forgot about this turkey.

The Right Stuff
½

A strong, smartly made motion picture in which begins in the 1940's and ends in the early 1960's. Several pilots, who flew in World War II, begin testing out speedy fighter speeds in the remote desert (either Arizona or New Mexico), in which they want to determine if they can through the ozone layer and see fast fighter jets can go. Eventually, a developing space program, NASA, becomes interested in their activities and wants to recruit them for a potential space mission. As a result, they go through a number of physical, mental, and endurance tests to see if they are capable of becoming astronauts. This very watchable movie, despite its three hour plus length. It actually goes by quite quickly and always spawns interest. The images, which I never knew of, of the rockets consistently failing to take off are fascinating and shocking. One flaw is the during the various tests, the scenes become unrealistically silly, but it surprisingly adds good humour, although it likely irrelevant to the actual space mission. I really did not know much on how the space program, and now, I know more. I definately recommend this film.

Imitation of Life
½

The remake of the 1934 film adds some different twists to the story. Lana Turner plays an actress, destined to make it, while the Juanita Moore is essentially her housemaid. This time, the two, along with their kids, meet on the beach in the New York City area (I believe), and you can probably guess what happens next. Surprisingly, I think the 1934 version is better than the 1959. I don't really care for the use of colour, nor the turn of the story. I thought it was watchable most of the time, but a bit too stagy. I will admit, though, I liked Susan Kohner who played Jessie. It's too bad, because I loved Douglas Sirk's "Written' on the Wind" from three years earlier. Decent version of the classic story.

Imitation of Life

Generally a classic about the social issues revolving around African Americans. One day, a black lady named Dalilah (Louise Beavers), along with her very pale skin child show up at the doorstep of a business woman (Claudette Colbert), who specializes in making maple syrup. The decide to live together, with Beavers being Colbert's maid at first. Then one day, they decide to open a pancake stand along the boardwalk (of Los Angeles I think), and it becomes a success, spawning them to begin a multi-million dollar company, Aunt Dalilah pancake mix. Sadly, the relationship between Dalilah and her daughter is severed, because the daughter is a ashamed of being black. Perhaps slightly dated, this is none-the-less a well made, well acted film. Colbert and Beavers are so likable most flaws become in significant. Incidentally, Aunt Dalilah is sort of taunt towards the classic maple syrup brand, Aunt Jamima.

Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey

Odd, effective horror film on a vampire that begins to haunt a house. A family, including servants, lives in a remote house in the countryside, uncovering a bizarre situation. Eventually, a human awakes from the grave of the house and begins to haunt the killing, taking in victims from the family in the process. Most of the film is German transcript translated to English, which adds to the niceness of this film. The photography is splendid and the acting is fun. It does pack some sort of punch in its brief running time of 73 minutes, even though, at times, it is silly.

The Killing Fields
½

Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterston) arrives in Cambodia during the Vietnam War in 1973. He finds carnage galore and is accompanied by a translator (Haing S. Ngor) who speaks the language of rebel group, Khmer Rouge. They begin to sift through the wreckage of various cities that have been torn apart by war, finding that the Americans screwed up their coordinates in the process of bombing cities within Cambodia and to be imprisoned by times by Cambodian forces. Soon they are fighting for their lives. Fairly grim film looks at the journalist and Cambodian perspective of the devastating war during the late 1960's and early 1970's. Fairly intense at times, but most intense during the middle sequences of the film. Quite sad as well and very graphic. It's length, admittedly, it not used to the full extent and the film does not rank as great as entertainment as other Vietnam War related movies, but it is very effective. Here is a successful movie that does not need soldiers fighting each other to demand full attention from the viewer.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit
½

A really unique combination of animation and live action moviemaking. Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer) is animated character who is not all that successful within the business, with possibility of his character being written off at any time. Unfortunately, his life takes a low-point turn, when his gorgeous Veronica Lake look-a-like wife, Jessica (uncredited Kathleen Turner), is believed to be having an affair; and at the same time, is also framed for murder. He asks for the assistance of his live-action pal (Bob Hoskins). The story definately drifts a bit, but the film itself is very entertaining none-the-less and moves at extremely fast tempo. Quite fun to see a variation of cartoon characters from other companies (Warner Bros., Disney, Hanna Barbara) within the same movie. The animation is also quite explosive, especially Jessica Rabbit. The only other film I know of to combine live-action with animation before this was "Anchor's Aweigh" in 1945 starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Mighty Mouse. Surprisingly the first time I have seen this film and definately worth the watch.

The Exterminating Angel (El Ángel Exterminador)

"The Exterminating Angel" is one of the most spectacularily strangest movies I have seen in many a long day. It starts out as an elegant dinner party for the upper class. Then, the servants go home and the guests are unable to function properly. They feel confined to the room in which they in and are unable to leave for no apparent reason. The doors are unlocked and the windows are open, yet they don't leave, starving themselves of food and water. It's crazy. Bizarre. Insane. Compulsively watchable and at times, very funny. So odd beyond belief, the sheep and the bears seemed amused by the guests' decent into utter madness. The ending is hilarious. After watching this, you'll be asking "What in the world?" Definately, a great film!

The Change-Up

ZERO! Wobegone comedy features many laughless gags. The plot follows two idiots who want each others' lives, and pee in a fountain, in which the fountain's magical powers cause them to switch bodies, I guess. Lawyer Jason Bateman seems to change into...a more foul-mouthed ignorant dumber Jason Bateman while Ryan Reynolds goes from foul-mouthed ignorant to...still foul-mouthed, less ignorant (that's a stretch) Ryan Reynolds. Then they both adjust to their new lives, which many appalling situations abound. The first film I have seen in 2011 is hopefully considered one of the worst for the year. This stupefying movie is bereft of humour and charm and contains one scene after another of amazing excrutiation for the viewer. The first opening five minutes sets the tone, when Bateman opens his kids' diapers and well...very unwatchable is the words. Calling this junk bottom-of-the-barrel would be kind. Just change the channel.

No Reservations
½

Well, I certainly believe that no reservations will be omitted from my critical analysis. This dreary drama, possibly comedy, follows a chef (Catherine Zeta Jones) who stuck up and intimidating to her co-workers and is forced to cope with the loss of her sister and adopt her daughter. Than, a cocky, annoying chef (Aaron Eckhart) becomes part of the crew at the fancy restaurant, of which she begins to find a appealing after awhile. Can you guess what happens next? Alas, many problems is what this film has. The script is incredibily weak, the acting is stale and depressing, the situations are enough to make any viewer gag, and the food is not utilized properly. The meals should placed in a great film that emphasizes good eating, such as "Goodfellas." A really unfortunate misfire.

Knocked Up
Knocked Up(2007)

Ahhhh...a drunken night at the bar for a TV reporter(Katherine Heigl) results in her meeting a real loser (Seth Rogan), with a surprisingly awkward/nice personality, and they hook-up for a one night stand...I guess that is what you would call it in this case. They go back to her place, and have sex WITHOUT PROTECTION. About eight weeks later, Heigl is interviewing James Franco (cameo), and starts throwing up. She, with the aid of her sister (Leslie Mann), and finds she is pregnant and then the antics ensue. Calling it predictable would not be fair, because the movie is genuinely pretty funny at times, even though the upcome we expect is probably the most likely. Very raunchy and profane, but somehow that is forgiven because not every single person is blurting out expletives and they don't do in front of the kids. The characters in this film are very likable, and that surprisingly includes Katherine Heigl, who is usually pretty annoying on TV, especially when she was in Grey's Anatomy. I also like the Canadian connections with Seth Rogan (the car he drives has a British Columbia license plate!) and Jay Baruchel (a Canadian tattoo). One of the better comedies of today that will likely age well.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
½

Very mindless and silly version of the classic story of which Spencer Tracy places the title character(s). Balancing all the problems he has in his life, Jekyll (pronounced normally this time around) of course draws up his unusual sirem and is supposed to be Hyde as a result...although he looks the same or even Spencer Tracy for that matter. The film lacks the charm, makeup, and magic that the 1931 version with Frederic March has. Again, the American accent in England thing with Tracy is a bit, possibly more annoying, but Lana Turner as English is also a bit of a joke. Ingrid Bergman is severly miscast as the flirtatious Ivy, of which she is supposed to be English, but still sounds Swedish. The film overall seems way more stale and restrained to gain momentum than it's predecessor. More flaws, and sadly much less fun that the 1931 version.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Dr. Jekyl (Frederic March) has three things to deal with in his life: his patients, his woman, and himself. He is constantly obsessed with his experiments, but also madly in love with his fiancee (Rose Hobart), whose father (Halliwell Hobbes) keeps her away from him. In addition, he has fling with a poorer, flirty girl (Mariam Hopkins). Then he invents the potion and...well, guess who? Mr. Hyde of course. If you can get past the few flaws, such as the overracting or March's American accent when the film taken place in England, this is an interesting original. Some scenes are very funny, but mostly it is entertaining. March's SURPRISING Oscar winning performance doesn't match his other one from "The Best Years of Our Lives," but it still better than Wallace Beery's role in "The Champ" from the same year (there was a tie for Best Actor at the Academy Awards in 1931/1932). The makeup of Jekyl/Hyde is the best aspect of this film, because it so well done. Strange, though weirdly likable movie. Note how the citizens pronouce Jekyl, JEEEkyl!

Johnny Guitar

Vienna (Joan Crawford) owns a saloon in an empty, desert valley of Arizona, adjacent to small town that doesn't like her too much. One day, her world comes spiralling down altogether within her saloon, when her ex-love Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden) comes back; her enemy (Mercedes McCambridge) makes a stink that local gunslingers slayed her brother; and the gunslingers themselves (Ernest Borgnin, Scott Brady, Ward Bond, Ben Cooper). Vienna is ordered to close shop and the gunslingers, who were innocent, decide to rob the local bank. The townspeople, thanks mainly to McCambridge, connect Vienna to the robbery and her brother's murder, and order that they all be killed.

I can understand why critics were repelled by this film's release in 1954 because it is bizarre. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther was particularly dumbfounded, calling the film "a fiasco." It is considered one of the strangest westerns, but it also undeniably entertaining and very exciting. Crawford has rarely been in better form as the rock-hard Vienna, and McCambridge gives one her greatest performances on reel. As usual, the cinematography for a western is gorgeous, along with the fantastic score and notable costumes. The ending is truly one a kind. It is a western that a viewer will love her hate, of which many hated back them, but it has gained greater appeal today. I personally adore this film.

Dead Man Walking
½

A inmate (Sean Penn) is on death row, awaiting execution in Louisiana. A nun (Susan Sarandon) is assigned to meet him and help through to his untimely death. His crime is the double murder of teenage couple in the woods. One day, his execution is scheduled within a week and the nun is forced to sit with him through the days until his death, even almost becoming convinced he did not murder the children and trying to get his death overturned, to no success. The film does not support nor does it go against the death penalty. This is finely detailed character study of inmate and nun beginning a strange relationship. Most of the film takes place in the prison, where it is able to capture the penetentiary life so well. The best aspect of this film is that doesn't focus on any side of the death penalty. The camera just witnesses the events leading up to the inmates dimise. Though Surandon won Best Actress, both her and Penn deserve equal praise for their performances. A very well done film. Note: look for Jack Black as one of Penn's friends.

Say Anything...

One of many simple teenage love stories that were released during the 1980's, but this one has much more power than the others. Average teen Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) falls for a smart, sophisticated, but lonely and socially reserved Diane Court (Ione Skye). Diane is reluctant to accept his invite, mainly because she is shy and hardly knows Lloyd, but eventually does and two begin to fall in love. What is here in this simple, though breathtaking film are well-developed characters, possible real life situations, and very natural acting. The characters are so immenently likable that we can't keep falling in love with them as well, even if they are socially awkward. When the two face a crisis situation, as in a breakup, they aren't the only ones heartbroken. The viewers are as well. Everything about this film works. It is indeed a gem.

Judgment at Nuremberg
½

Funny how two of Best Picture nominees of 1961 were fictional accounts of events surrounding World War II (the other one being "The Guns of Navarone"). "Judgment at Nuremburg" is a fictional courtroom drama centering around the war criminals of the Second World War. It is based on actual events but the real names of the people it is chronicling are not used. Spencer Tracy is brought from the U.S.A. to be the juress of the lengthy, disturbing trials. Running at 178 minutes, the film is very compelling and also much better than "The Guns of Navarone." The reason for me is that there is a lot of intelligence here, as well as more to think about afterwards. Explosions and missions are not needed, only concentration is asked for from the viewer. Maximillian Schell took home Best Actor for his powerful performance, but the cast is all fine, especially Spencer Tracy. Other cast members include Judy Garland, Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Marlene Dietrich, Richard Wildmark, and a young William Shatner. Mainly engrossing film and I feel, an underrated classic from the early 1960's.

A Fish Called Wanda
½

A group of bank robbers consist of following: Jaime Lee Curtis is the manipulative hottie; Kevin Kline is bumble headed lover, although he pretends to be Curtis's brother; Palin is the studdering nut who loves fish, hates dogs, and wants revenge on an old lady; and Tom Georgeson is another lover of Wendy. In addition, John Cleese is the lawyer of Georgeson when he is blamed for the heist, and also the lover of Curtis (yes a third one). The film is shockingly quick witted, contrived, evil, mean, a scream and delight. Many, many funny moments throughout and most likely marks career highpoints for all involved. The script is also quite silly and the pace very effective. Wonderful comedy!

The King and I
½

Anna Leonowens (Deborrah Kerr), a widowed schoolteacher and her son, Louis Leonowens, head to Siem, where Anna is to teach the King's (Yul Brynner) 106(!) school children. As they arrive, both Anna and the King notice major personality differences and have to fight over them as she lives in the palace, of which she actually wanted to live in a separate house off the palace premises. However, though they have differences, they start to ease their problems and begin to form what looks like a fond relationship, but not really romantic. Fine film adaption of the lengendary Rogers and Hammerstein play, with a very good score, beautiful colour, and tremendous set pieces. Brynner and more so Kerr, shine in their performances. Rita Moreno is unrecognizable as a wife of the king, and that is also very good. Although Brynner's singing could have been MUCH better at times, I feel this film has unfairly fallen into the shadows of other films from the 1950's. It should be revieved into the world of cinema.

There are also some interesting similarities between this film and Pressburger and Powells' beauty "Black Narcissus." First off, Deborrah Kerr is in both of them. Second, her character is from England in both movies. Third, both stories are taken place in the same area of the world ("Black Narcissus" in Nepal or Bhutan, and "The King and I" in what is today, Thailand/Cambodia, of which Siem Reap is the capital of Cambodia). Fourth, both films consist of Kerr's character fighting with others in terms of differences, either the way she runs the program or the problematic personality of the other characters. Fifth, both films are shot in gorgeous technicolour. Sixth, Kerr develops relationships with men which do not blossom into romances. Finally, both films consist of Kerr teaching young oriental kids (although she is a nun in "Black Narccisus"). Since both films are based on novels, the story of "Black Narcissus came into 1939 while "The King and I," novel being titled "Anna and the King of Siam," I think the "The King and I" is somewhat based on the other. One major difference between the two films: "Black Narcissus" is much better! Having said that, "The King and I" is still very good film.

Rain Man
Rain Man(1988)

Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is car dealership owner, who recently discovers his father dies and heads out, along with girlfriend (Valeria Goleno), to the memorial service and reading of the will. Because the he and his father did not have a great relationship, the 3 million dollar will is left to his brother he never knew named Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman), who is an autistic savant and in a mental institution. Charlie decides to kidnap Raymond and they go on an unusual journey. An often interesting, low-key comedy-drama that surprisingly took home Best Picture. It is actually quite likable. Hoffman pulls off a different and very amusing performance as the autistic person, and Cruise is very good at being the unsympethic brother. The film is however a little long and the script and some of the situations could have used some fine tuning, but altogether, it is a pretty good movie.

Battleground
Battleground(1949)
½

During the days of World War II, several soldiers are assigned a mission to the rural part of France. These soldiers, who include actors Van Johnson, James Whitemore, and John Hodiak, brave brutal conditions, such as cold temperatures and snow to survive in the war torn region. In addition, the have to avoid the Nazi bombing brigades over the forest they are stationed in and the German soldiers who lurk in the woods. I suppose that "Battleground" was wanting to be the World War II version of "All Quiet on the Western Front," especially since both films are taken place in France and during famous World Wars, but this one doesn't compare. I don't think it has aged all too well. It is not all that well remembered and the snow that they fight in looks fake. In addition, the background looks like the set of a Hollywood studio. It does have some merits, such as some intensity, but it doesn't compare to "All Quiet on the Western Front" or many other war films for that matter. I guess the best way to put is "sufficiently watchable."

A Tale of Two Cities
½

A story of the French Revolution and how the citizens begin to rebel against the other higher class. The two cities are composed of the following: first, there are the poorer residences, who have had enough of being condescended on by the higher class, which are the second residence, who live in a confined castle. Eventually, the lower class gets there way, in which a number of assassinations occur and eventually, several officials are hung. The film version of the famed Charlie Dickens' novel has aged quite well since its release in 1935. The images and the fight scenes are very memorable, not to mention the assasinations. I cannot remember the performances of the main cast members, such as Ronald Colman, but it doesn't really matter. What matters here is the plot and the entertainment, and it is worth the watch. By the way, the set pieces are beautiful!

Brokeback Mountain

An interesting romance story set in the mountains of Wyoming. Two cowboys (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) meet one another through there work, in which they heard sheep over mountain ranges. As they work together, they begin to establish a fond relationship, in which becomes physical. Eventually, the two fall in love but sadly, there term of work begins to end and the continue on separate paths. Both of them establish relationships with other females (Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway), but also find ways of getting away from them and seeing one another. It then begins to take a toll on their relationship, as well as the relationship with their women. It is an unusual romantic story of two cowboys that fall in love, only to hide it in secrecy from society, and for that, it deserves to be commended. The cinematography and score are also quite memorable. One flaw though is the dialogue in which the film becomes impacted by ineffective profanties. Though, it is unusual and very memorable western, if a western is what you would call it.

Monty Python's Life of Brian

The cast members of the popular TV series have become with a super outrageous satire on religion. Brian is the chosen individual who is, I guess, to lead a rebellion in the confined Roman city of Judea, even though the group has listed more good things than bad in plotting towards the government. Then the citizens mistaken him as the "chosen one" and well...it just gets bizarre from there on. The film is pretty awful at times, because the characters swear a lot in a religious time, but it is also quite funny. Many gags are very silly and quite humourous. The film strays heavily off target, especially when the aliens come down and kidnap Brian. Graham Chapman is the only member to portray one character, Brain of course, while all the others are both men and woman. It is super silly, but it is still worth the watch, even if it gets so utterly annoying after awhile.

A Letter to Three Wives
½

Jeanne Crain is married to Jeffrey Lynn; Anne Southern is married to Kirk Douglas; and Linda Darnell is married to Paul Douglas. One day the three wives go on picnic with school children and learn that same morning, there so-called friend (Celeste Holm) has moved out of town. As well, she has taken one of their husbands. They each then recall through flashbacks disagreements with their husbands that may give them inidcation of them ending their marriage. Very entertaining movie with a very good story, that has influenced many takes and satires on it. The script is really, really good, but it also has a problem. Half the cast members cannot handle it, especially Jeanne Crain! Either they wre not cast that great or the script too big for them. Perhaps this is why director Manckiewicz did not put any of these cast members in his next year's masterpiece and 1950's Best Picture winner, "All About Eve," with the exception of his two UNCREDITED cast members, Thelma Ritter and Celeste Holm (who is the narrator), and they are good. I will say though Kirk Douglas' performance was also strong. Even with that one flaw in mind, this is still very smart, funny film.

The Aviator
The Aviator(2004)

Martin Scorsese's thorough study on about 25-30 years of lengendary director/producer/aviation fanatic Howard Hughes yields another triumpth of a film by the lengendary director. The film begins with Hughes (Leonard di Caprio) filming his first movie, "Hell's Angels" and the pessimism of the movie industry for the success of this relatively expensive $4,000,000 project (for its time that is). At the same time, he is desgning a series of blueprints for his up and coming airplane projects, not only for his films but also to fix his obsessive fascination. He also buys Trans World Airlines. In addition, Hughes also has to deal with his fear of crowds, his mental problems including his paranoia of other people's feelings towards him, and his fear of germs. "The Aviator" flies by and is both an involving and entertaining story. Dicaprio's performance is one of best, and Cate Blanchett's performance as Katherine Hepburn is superb (of which she got a well deserved Oscar for). They are also many other intriguing, minor, and memorable performances, which includes Gwen Stefani as a waitress, Willem Dafoe as a reporter, Alec Baldwin as the president of Pan American Airways, Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner, and John C. Reilly as the owner Howard Hughes' tool company and also his assistant. The special effects, especially the crash sequence, and Scorsese's script plus the ability to re-capture the late 1920's to the early 1950's is fantastic. Another great film by the master...also much different compared to his previous hits.

Leaving Las Vegas
½

Super ugly and disturbing movie chronicling the life of a screenwriter (Nicolas Cage) from Las Vegas, who has a serious alcohal problem. Eventually, it becomes a burden to everyone else in his life, causing him to lose his job, family, and friends. He decides to then go to Las Vegas to drink himself to death, and at the same, he starts a bizarre and mainly PLUTONIC relationship with a prostitute (Elisabeth Shue), who also faces real crisises with her life and job. Pretty grueling and sick at times. The damaging effects of alcohal are seriously examined through Cage's fine Oscar winning performance, and Shue's performance is also quite good. The dialogue to the film is equally disturbing and some of the scenes are pretty depressing. It just goes to show what kind of people head to Las Vegas. Funny enough, "Showgirls" was released the same year and at least this film is very good (as most of you hopefully know, that other film sucks!).

Goodbye, Children (Au Revoir Les Enfants)
½

A true story of young French boy (Gaspard Manesse) who is sent, by his mother, to a private school in Vichy during World War II. There he meets one other boy (Rapheal Fejto) who is kind of odd and is at the centre of all the other boys bullying. He eventually discovers that this other boy is special indeed, a Jewish posing as a French citizen in order to not be sent to the concentration camps. A fascinating story of the troubles of a French private school run by priests and nuns. Relatively slow and engrossing towards the tragic finale, with a upsetting but very affecting payoff. Though he uses a different name, Louie Malle is the young boy, who witnessed this attrocity when he was a boy.

GoodFellas
GoodFellas(1990)

It is said that the f-word is used approximately 300 times, and I don't doubt that for one second. The amount of times it is said by Joe Pesci must be at least half that amount. However, the extensive use of the profanities does not matter. What matters is how Martin Scorsese has directed such an endlessly fascinating film about a mob empire, as well the life of man named Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who wanted to be a gangster, starting at the age of twelve. At the age of twelve, I wanted to be a news broadcaster (today that has changed, and I want to be an accountant). Hill had a rather unique career choice. Obviously, Hill had got some brain cells entangled and had no very good role models.

As he grows older, his understanding of how the mob works expands, which includes the supply chain, the origination of the cargo, the cargo itself, and the handling process (particularly interesting to me because I am a business student). Essentially they control everything in New York City, including Idewide (now JFK International Airport) and the incoming airliners. Hill than becomes associates with two very dangerous men: Jimmy Burke (Robert de Niro) and Thomas Dimone (Joe Pesci). In addition, he also begins a relationship with a brunette (Lorraine Bracco), who adjusts to his secret life, not knowing his the origination of his incredible income source for many years. She does eventually find out when a deal goes awry in Florida and he ends up in prison as a result. By the way, Hill also has a side piece of his own, in addition to Bracco.

One can't stress the number of fantastic features to Scorsese's "Goodfellas." The score to the film consists of many songs from the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's, including Johnny Mathis' "It's Not for Me to Say," which many characters do during the film. Another one is the Marvellette's "Playboy," which of course describes all the mobster characters. Scorsese's signature use of free-hand camera style can also be seen a number of times during the movie, one which was extensively used in earlier works as "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," "Raging Bull," and "Mean Streets." There are really no lead characters, but that doesn't take away from the film any bit. Every character is equally as important and fascinating, and supported by top notch acting. The script is nearly perfect, with the dialogue using the profanities so efficiently and effectively that it makes it sound like an integral part of the English language. One of the most disturbing aspects of the film is the fact that Hill lives in a middle-class neighbourhood, filled with normal working citizens, while he is part of the mob. That is scary thought, just thinking of the possibility that there may be people like this is my neighbourhood, not only filled with professionals or working-class citizens. One of the other shocking aspects of this film, while in production, is Hill was still in the witness protection program at the time. I believe that the cast and crew had to make secret appointments with him to get more information for the film. Scorsese adds yet another superlative film to his collection of greats.

WARNING: My movie experience with "Goodfellas" was nearly ruined because I watched the film on my PVR (TV database), which was originally showing on A&E. If you do come up across the film on this station and most likely, AMC, DON'T WATCH ON THESE STATIONS! The movie is censored. I realized it when Pesci's character said "Go 'fear' your mother!" That is certainly not the word used by him and somehow, the editors amazingly made it look like he actually used the word "fear" too. The script sounded laughable at that point. Watch the film on DVD to get the fur-filling experience of "Goodfellas!"

Dances With Wolves
½

Kevin Costner's directed and stars as Lt. John Dunbar in this sprawling epic taken place during the American civil war. Dunbar survives a suicide mission as he rides on a horse into a gun battle and afterwards, is assigned to a post in the remote area of the prairies. There he befriends a wolf and begins to find to encounter native Indians living in a camp nearby, fearing they may steal his ammunition, supplies and horses. In addition, living with the Indians is a white female (Mary McDonnell), whose family was killed by aggressive, vengeful Indians (different tribe than the ones who took her in) when she was little. Dunbar than discovers these Indians are actually quite friendly and begins to befriend and hang out with them. Not cracked to the epic it wants to be, "Dances With Wolves" is for the most part a very well done motion picture. The acting is very good, the speaking of Dakota language is great, and vast cinematography and landscapes are beautiful. The length is also not a problem, despite its three hours. There is some toilet humour at the beginning, however, that is a bit silly and out of place. However, it is still a fine film.

The Private Life of Henry VIII

Bizarre, fairly enjoyable autobiographical pick of King Henry the 8th of England (Charles Laughton). The film begins after he has already has had two wives, Catharine of Aragon (of which the film humourously dismisses the long marriage as boring); and Anne Boleyn (Merle Oberon), of which he executes during the film. Then the film tells the story of marrying his remaining four wives, one being Anne of Cleves, played by Laughton's actual wife Elsa Lanchester. Laughton keeps the film going with his funny, Oscar winning performance, and the visuals are very nice too look. The film is a little dated and bit inaccurate of biography of King Henry, but it does provide sufficient entertainment value for a re-watch.

Tender Mercies
½

Mac Sledge (Robert Duvall) is a former singer/songwriter who has moved into the quiet Texas prairies and married a widowed woman named Rosa Lee (Tess Harper). His past involves several previous wives that ended in divorce, which were related to alcohalism. With his previous ex-wife, he had a daughter to whom they had seen for seven years. They finally met again during the film, but there relationship was cut short due to tragedy (which I will let the viewers find out if they care to watch this). The film has a lot heart, but at times is very slow. There is not enough tension to generate discussion, albeit there are some virtues which include a couple of nice songs. It is alright, but not really anything special and I am not sure if Duvall deserved Best Actor for his role.

The Conqueror

It's got nice scenery and beautiful landscape that is chewed up severly by the embarassment of this laughably inept film. Tartars versus Mongrols in the atomic deserts of Utah, where John Wayne plays Ghenghis Khan as if he playing a cowboy hero in his westerns. I suppose the plot of this film is he wants his people the Mongrols to conquer the world and rid the area of Tartars. In that respect, Susan Hayward plays the deer-trapped-in-headlights princess of Tartars who is also conquered by John Wayne and his Texas accent. It doesn't take an idiot to know why this film stinks, which is what the body odour of most of characters in this movie was probably like. I think John Wayne was still stuck in his Ethan Edwards' role of "The Searchers" (which hilariously was released the same month of "The Conqueror" in 1956!!!!!!). A career nadir for all the talents involved.

Do the Right Thing

Mookie (Spike Lee) works in an Italian run pizza place in Brooklyn. The restaurant is run by a father (Danny Aeilo) and his two sons. The neighbourhood, located in Brooklyn, is immensed in a heatwave and the residents are compiled of Italians, Koreans, Latin Americans, and most populated with African Americans. Mookie has a girlfriend (Rosie Davis), to whom he has son with, and does not spend enough time with either of them. Mean time, the town drunk called Da Mayor (Ossie Davis), a senior, tries to woo an older lady (Ruby Dee) and Buggin' Out (Giancarlo Esposito), a friend of Mookie's, wants to famous black people on the wall of the Italian pizza place (on the wall, it features Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, who was to play as the pizza owner but declined for the film, Sophia Loren, and John Travolta...anyone see a similarity among these stars).

The film does not really offer much on plot, but this is such a miniscule issue. What we have here is a rich character study and examination of those who live in this small part of Brooklyn, obviously full of racial tensions. One of the many greatnesses of this film is made on a small budget (6.5 million), with a screenplay by Spike Lee done in two weeks. The script is full of fascinating and inventive dialogue that is spoken so naturally that the film almost looks like a documentary on life. The film could be called a time capsule of the very late 1980's or reflection of times above. It should be considered both! The film sparks much discussion, just by the way it is presented and how the whole situation. The film only looks at 24 hours of day and yet the viewer is felt satisfied just by the brief slice of life. It feels so relevant to me just by the way my neighbours' sons behave and dress. What a spectacular film!

Saving Private Ryan

Spielberg's already has great films of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "E.T. Extra Terrestrial," and "Schindler's List" (and "Jaws" is also another very good film), so why not add "Saving Private Ryan" to the repetoire. Tom Hanks plays Captain Miller is assigned to find Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), who lost all three of his brothers in separate battles during World War II. That is simply the plot. What comes are incredibly designed and shot war scenes. The first 25 minutes sets the tone for the film. The one scene of intensity that struck me was when army vehicle drove up to the little house in Iowa to tell the Ryan mother of her tragic loss. While "Platoon" is probably the most intense Vietnam War film, "Saving Private Ryan" is easily the most frightening, intense World War II film. It is also one of the finest to deal with the that war. Tom Hanks gives one of his greatest performances of his career. A must see!

Seven Days in May

In the mid months of may, the president (Frederic March) becomes nervous when a colonel (Kirk Douglas) becomes seriously concerned with the bizarre actions of a prominent general (Burt Lancaster). The actions include lying about his whereabouts, a bizarre meeting with the president in a remote area, and the possibility of a secret mission to remove the cabinet, including the president, from the White House. Mainly compelling thriller boasts solid performances and moves at a relatively quick pace. However, I felt slightly unsatisfied by the plot. For me it lacked something, possibly because I expected something extraordinary like Frankenheimer's masterpiece "The Manchurian Candidate." Still, it was a really interesting film.

L'Atalante
L'Atalante(1934)
½

"L'Atalante" is a film about a love affair that starts with a young couple celebrating their wedding. Then they go and live on a ship, for which the husband works. Sadly after awhile, the wife cannot take it anymore being on the ship and she finally leaves him. Unlike other French films from the 1930's, I was not a very big fan of this one. I thought it was okay, but it just didn't grab my attention as other have done so. I did like the set pieces and the black and white cinematography, but it just could come altogether for me. I think am I going to revisit this film in a year from now to see what I think of it later on.

Sheena
Sheena(1984)

Deranged jungle film finds a young girl left abandoned after her parents are apparently killed in a cave collapse. She is adopted by Shaman, a jungle woman who likes a black version of Faye Dunnaway for some reason, and she begins to learn the life of the jungle while being surrounded by relatively calm, exotic animals. Then one day, she grows up, and invaders from the outside world arrive and she tries to protect her civilization.

So many questions are asked after watching this film, which include: why does that zebra look so bizarre and go "naah"? Or why does Sharman not age for twenty years (not even plastic surgery, if there is any in the jungle, could save her from wrinkles)? Or why does no one go out and search for Sheena and her missing parents at the beginning of the film? Or why does the background African images resemble the Great Salt Flats of Utah? Or why does that helicopter being attacked by the flamingoes resemble the scenes from Hitchcock's "The Birds"? Or why does everything explode in a ball of fury? Or what happened to the scripwriters of this film? Or why does this film have a rating of PG (Parental Guidance) when you see explosive Tanya Roberts nudity? So many questions, none of them can answered in this contrived, incoherent empty-headed joke! In her 1984 review, New York Times critic Janet Maslin said "'Sheena' is the perfect summer movie for anyone who's dissatisfied with the season's intentional comedies..." Considering it is 27 years later and there are not many good comedies this summer, it could work!

Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata)
½

A couple (Liv Ullmann, Halvan Bjork), along with wife's mentally and physically sister (Lena Nyman), live in rural Norway. One day, the wife and her sisters' mother (Ingrid Bergman), who is a famous pianist, comes to visit them. The mother, however, has many deemons harrassing her and they begin to show. In addition, the wife begins to let out her outrage to how she was neglected by the mother. The pairing of the Ingrid, Ingmar, and Liv yields strong results and touching performances in this sad Swedish drama. All, plus Bjork and especially Nyman, put on fine performances around. One small problem is it begins in the last to heavily indulge in the drama, but that is only a minor technicality. Not Bergman's best, but still a good one. Also like seeing Ingrid speaking both Swedish and English.

Striptease
Striptease(1996)

ZERO! The response and taunt to the movie "Showgirls," trying to spin it off as a comedy, actually came out much worse then the previous year disaster. The amazingly dreadful film finds a mother (Demi Moore) fighting for custody of her daughter from her drug using ex-husband and earning her income through a stripclub (or through the owner of the establishment's perspective, dancer). Then she gets involved in scandal with a famed US Congressman (Burt Reynolds, who looks unrecognizable and has a southern accent). This film is as bad as they come. Demi Moore is a rotten apple of the film, where apparently it was supposed to be funny, but she is dramatic, and now the film is ultra-unfunny, depressing, and seriously boring. Burt Reynolds is just plain idiotic. Makes me almost want to reccomend "Showgirls" over this and that's not much of an improvement. A suggestion to filmmakers, current and prospective ones: stear clear of ideas relating to strippers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Golden Age (L'Âge d'Or)
½

If you can tell me what happens from the seventh minute to the last minute of this film, you deserve some kind of special award. The first seven minutes consist of small silent documentary feature on scorpians. I have no idea what the rest of film was about, but I believe the title is related to the wealthy citizens of France, and how the poor were becoming agitated with the condescending ways. The film like "The Rules of the Game" from 1939, caused me to become dumbstruck by the plot, but also very entertained. The visuals and the acting and scenes are hypnotically contrived and also very entertaining. The combination of silent and sound is also very well done. Astoundingly bizarre film!

Titanic
Titanic(1997)
½

An present day expedition into the Titanic for diamonds yields nothing and makes headline news. The very elderly Rose Dewitt Bukateer Dawson (Gloria Stuart) calls them to tell her perspective on the Titanic as well as the location of the diamonds. She recalls how she (now younger and played by Kate Winslet) was engaged on the doomed ship across the Atlantic to wealthy suitor (Bill Zane). However, a poorer man (Leonardo DiCaprio) makes a LUCKY (well) win to his way through a poker game onto ship wooes her and save her from jumping off the ship. Their love blooms, to Rose's family annoyance, and continues, even into the disaster of ship's sinking.

Fictional or not (of which some of the characters are fictional), this is a very impressive film. The time (194 minutes) is used extremely effectively, as every minute passes by quite quickly. The acting, particularly from Winslet and Stuart, is mainly very good. The special effects, especially during the sinking process of Titanic, is really well done and the narration and direction is quite fine. My only problem with this film is the script, which seems a little choppy at times and weak. This does get annoying after while. Other than that, this is a very good film!

Stromboli
Stromboli(1950)

Fairly depressing film. Ingrid Bergman, a Lithuanian refugee, escapes an internment in the aftermath of World War II and marries an Italian, who takes her to Stromboli. There, she is miserable and tries escape the island through a port on the opposite side of the island. Much suffering throughout, but only a small satisfaction for the viewer. The scenery is at least nice to look at, but the premise and ending are relatively problematic. "Rome, Open City" it's not! Not a great film for Rosselini nor lengendary actress, Ingrid Bergman.

The Petrified Forest

In the vast, empty desert of Arizona, a lonely diner and gas station is under threat of being seiged by a notorious gangster (Humphrey Bogart). Working there is waitress/cashier (Bette Davis), which is owned by her father and grandfather, who is wooed by a poetry speaking hitchhiker (Leslie Howard). Sadly for them, the establishment does become under seige by the ruthless, notorious gangster. The film is worth seeing for Bogart and Howard's performance, mainly Bogart, since he is one of the greatest actors of all time (and he is not billed as the top actor). There are flaws, which include Davis' performance (definately not her best), the background set pieces in which there was some holes by accident (and this was before any guns were fired), and the staginess, but for some strange reason, this film was very memorable.

Rembrandt
Rembrandt(1936)

An ambitious and bizarre take on the lengendary painter. The life of Rembrandt (Charles Laughton) is re-created with his major obsession for painting. It shows his life with choosing his paintings over his loves (including Gertrude Lawrence) and as well as experiencing personal tragedies, including losing his son near the end of his life. It is a fairly odd take on the life of the famed painter from the 1600's, but it is redeemed thanks to a very good performance by Charles Laughton. The script, direction and set pieces provide nice visuals within the film. Laughton is also quite funny at times, with some very good lines and his reciting of poetry.

Raffles
Raffles(1930)

I am finding it very difficult to uncover good films from the year of 1930. "Raffles" is another boring movie from the beginning of the 1930's. The plot surrounds a mansion were it is expected that several crooks are about to pull off robbery of the home's safe. I have seen films, as recent as yesterday, that seem shorter within the first 20 minutes than the entirity of this movie (and it's only 70 minutes). I don't understand this, because the Best Picture of that year "All Quiet on the Western Front" is a great film. Very boring movie!

Kiss of the Spider Woman

I have seen four films from the year of 1985, and two of them are utterly bizarre: "Brazil" and "Kiss of the Spider Woman." The latter of the two is so strange. It follows to inmates (William Hurt and Raul Julia) who are roomates within their small cell. Hurt is flamboyant homosexual who is in there for trying for having gay sex with a minor while Julia is a political activist, who is actually tortured while in the prison for his views. As time progresses, the relationship between Hurt and Julia grows, although the fact that Hurt is being bribed by the prison guards to get secret information out of Julia might diminish it. It is such an odd film, just by Hurt's Oscar winning performance, but it is also pretty interesting one. I liked how Hurt's character is super obsesses with old films (like me) and continues to recall ones from start to end. I also like the performances and the surprising conclusion. Although there are some slow parts within the middle of the film, but it still provides good entertainment value.

Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji)

A Chinese opera known as "Farewell My Concubine" is chronicled through a 53 year history (1924-1977). In the 1920's, young children, abandoned or orphaned, are recruited to a performance school, where they are beaten for whatever reason the masters can possibly think of (if they are well-behaved, they are beaten). Quite cruel and harsh, and sadly very effective. The beating stops (or at least subsides) when one of the very young students kills himself. Also, the physical abuse scars them for life, as you continue to watch the film. One student, a female (Gong Li) mixed in with the masses of male students, survives along with them and stays with the opera for many years, of which she marries another actor. After the students grow older, the opera suffers through World War II and the Japanese takeover, as well the controversial leadership of Chiang Kai Shek. It is pretty good film in how it shows off the opera through several performances, troubled history, costumes, and the early days of the students. It is, however, too long (and I watched the longer version of 170 minutes and I know there is and edited version at 155 minutes). The first half is much better than the second half, at least I think so.

The Last Metro (Le Dernier Métro)
½

Taken place during 1942 in Paris, France, a performance theatre struggles to survive during the invasion from Axis Powers during World War II. Marion and Lucas Steiner (Catherine Deneuve and Heinz Bennent) cast, through much difficulty, members of their new play "Dissapearance," but at the same time, Lucas cannot have any direct involvement with the project since he is Jewish, and so he hides out in a secret den in which only he and his wife know about. Meanwhile, another cast member (Gerard Depardieu), falls for Marion, but they resist on letting their feelings out. I don't why, but I really liked this film. Maybe it was the process of casting for their play or the surprisingly fast pace of the film thanks to the dialogue or the really nice pieces. It is probably all of that. The acting is also pretty good, along with the story. It does not compare to Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" or "Jules and Jim," but to me, this is still a really good film.

I Know Who Killed Me

"I Know Why this Movie Sucks!" Plodding, boring thriller finds Lindsay Lohan kidnapped, tortured, nearly murdered, and found at the side of the road, with her right-hand and right-leg chopped off. When she awakes in the hospital, she begins to believe she is another woman, who was by her now deceased crack-whore mother and at one time, was a stripper, and that she was also stalked. The acting is poor; the dialogue is weak, especially after she awakes in the hospital bed; the film is too dark to see; and it is very uninteresting. It is isn't scary or thrilling, as indicated by its topic, yet the people who created this mess seem to of thought so. Direction and screenwriters were needed, perhaps other humans than the those working on set. Pretty stupid film. I will admit though its quite weird that this film failed at the box office, considering Lohan was in it and I had though she was a draw to audiences. I guess the critical backlash and the those first audiences who saw it thought it was so awful, word-of-mouth caused it to be a BOMB!

Young Dr. Kildare

Solid (and seemingly unknown drama according to this website) movie about a doctor (Lew Ayres) who has just graduated from medical school and is looking for place to work. His love for the occupation takes after his father, another doctor, in which he wants to work out of his home like he currently does, but then goes to New York City instead. There, his position as doctor becomes tough, as he tries to fit in with the others around him, including a wheelchair bound physician (Lionel Barrymore). It is a small film, from a unknown point of view especially from this website, that inspired the series of Dr. Kildare, as well as dramas centering around doctors and patients. I think it is a rather important drama, especially since there are series of TV shows, such as ER or Grey's Anatomy, that would trace its routes back to films like this. Ayres performance is quite good. Minor and sometimes silly, but interesting film.

Point Blank
Point Blank(1967)
½

An gangster (Lee Marvin) is out to seek revenge on a man (John Vernon) who stole his wife after shooting him, leaving him for dead in historical abandoned prison on Alcatraz Island, and to collect a large sum of money ($93,000). By doing this, he uses the assistance of mysterious person (Keenan Wynn) to track his wife down. He finds her and then she kills herself, and then he is able to track down her sister (Angie Dickinson) and use her help to find his assailant. This plot may seem straightforward, but it is actually a bizarre film. As the movie progresses it goes between present times and flashbacks (usually previous points in the film) that haunt the mind of Marvin's character. He is