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Random Movie Reviews

This is it, the happy fun surprise!! Aren't you thrilled? Oh yeah, well same to you buddy! Anyway, this is my first new page in over 3 months, so I'm a tad rusty. So bare with me.

As for the specifics of this page, it is actually a really great page. . .for me. You see, I will review whatever damn movies I feel like reviewing, and I'll update it whenever I damn well please! See why this is such a great page from my perspective? Anyway, hope you enjoy my reviews, and please feel free to respond to anything I say here. I love angry feedback. I might even post some of the letters I get if they're interesting enough. So read on, and please, until next time, save Roger Ebert the aisle seat. Goodness knows he needs it!

The Reviews

**** One Of My Favorites, Should Be One Of Yours Too
*** I Like It, But I'll Excuse You If You Don't
** Watchable, But If You Really Like This Movie I Think You're Strange
* A Sacrificial Burning to the God of Dust Bunnies Would Be Too Good For This Film

Saving Private Ryan- Everybody's Oscar favorite for 1998. Well, ' that's all well and good, but frankly I thought it was a MAJOR disappointment. Spielburg was so concerned with making the violence seem real that he apparently forgot the cardinal rule: violence isn't repulsive unless it happens to someone you give a damn about. What do I care if Tom Hanks had some fake guts spilled? His performance was just as fake as the guts! This movie was far too impersonal to really involve me. I concede that the images of the horrors of war were excellent, but where's the human touch? Hanks might have saved Private Ryan, but he didn't save this movie from my scrap pile. *1/2

There's Something About Mary- Just to show I'm not critical for the sake of being critical, here's I movie I really enjoyed. Sure, it was in incredibly poor taste, it was lewd, and it was obvious, but it was frigging hilarious! And there really IS something about Mary. By the end of the movie (well, OK, the beginning for most guys), every guy in the theater is in love with Mary. This was a movie that made you care about the characters. This was a really good movie. ***

The Lost World: Jurassic Park- Just when you thought you might be able to associate the word "good" with the word "sequel," a Tyrannosaurus Rex stepped on the thought, as well as a good chunk of Southern California. Stephen Spielberg has made some wonderful movies in his day; this is one of them. It's wonderfully, magnificently awful. If giant reptiles causing havoc in big cities is Spielberg's thing, he should have directed Godzilla and left the good name of Jurassic Park out of it. Of course, judging what we saw in this movie, Spielberg's Godzilla might have managed the most asounding feat of all: he might have been worse than the ACTUAL Godzilla! *

Amistad- Now, just so you don't think I am a Spielberg hater, here's a movie that was shamefully ignored at last year's academy awards. Every one in the cast turns in a great performance, and Spielberg shows he can depict horrible, unspeakable violence and still maintain the human feeling that makes it so repulsive. This film is a masterpiece. ***1/2

Batman and Robin- This series started out with a solid if not great movie in the original Batman, and has been moving slowly downhill ever since. I am a big Bat-fan; I love Batman. But this is the most astonishingly, jaw-droppingly awful film I have ever seen. From the first scene's "Ice Hockey Team From Hell" to Schwartzenegger's immortal line, "Gotham City, I am going to kick your ice," this movie constantly makes you cringe at the thought of how much it cost to make it. I couldn't make a worse movie if I tried. Holy Crap, Batman! 1/2 *

Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm- For those of you who feel Batman has yet to get the script he so richly deserves, you're wrong. This movie is what Batman is all about; while the live-action films squandered big name stars and obscene amounts of cash to produce movies of appallingly low quality, the animation team produced this smart, tense action thriller with all the ambiance and mystique of the comic. I cannot reccommend this movie highly enough to Bat-fans and casual moviegoers alike; this is the Dark Knight the way he was meant to be. ***1/2

Titanic- These days, it seems like the in thing is to talk about how much you hate this movie. Yet, as best as I can recall, there weren't too many people complaining when they left the theater after seeing it. I must say I liked it; the main plot is hoky, but they did an awful lot of things right in this movie. All of the imagery is fantastic, and they generate a genuine human interest in the entire tragedy, not just in the plight of the stars. It's not perfect; maybe it shouldn't have one best picture. But it sure didn't feel like three and half hours. ***1/2

Con Air- Another 1997 summer blockbuster, another major disappointment. Nicholas Cage is a whiny and annoying, and the action is so completely unrealistic I can't take it. Landing on a Las Vegas freeway? I can only think of one thing more unrealistic than that: Nicholas Cage's acting. Thank God he won't be donning thevenerable Superman outfit. * 1/2

Amadeus- One of my personal favorites. This movie is entertaining to the last, with strong performances by every one of the film's stars. Hulce plays a delightfully reprehensible Mozart, and he is complemented nicely by the self-righteous Salieri, played by F. Murray Abraham. Although the historical accurateness leaves something to be desired, the movie does capture the spirit and draw you into the life of one of the most interesting and troubling characters in the musical world. An excellent film. *** 1/2

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996 Disney)- This is one of my pet movies. It would take several pages to properly discuss this movie, but for here I'll be as brief as possible. Disney chose a difficult movie to make with kids in mind, that's for sure; adult themes are prevalent throughout the picture. Excellent performances are found throughout the film, especially the incredibly nasty Minister Frollo, voiced by Tony Jay. The film's score is a perfect compliment to the imagery and feel of the animation. And, speaking of the animation, it is astounding. It stands as one of the most successful blendings of computer and hand-drawn animation that I have ever seen; the cathedral is particularly awe-inspiring. And for those of you who feel that Hugo's story was marred by the Disney writers, I think it is possibly even more tragic than his ending. After all, why does Esmerelda choose Phoebus over Quasimodo? Think about it. . . ****

The Last Temptation of Christ- This is one of those movies that usually offends people just at the mention of the title. But if those same people would bother to watch it instead of look down on it, they'd be amazed at how thoughtful and religiously uplifiting a portrayal of Christ this really is. Though a tad over long, the film presents Jesus as fully human, as he struggles to reconcile his humanity with his Divinity. It is a magnificent character study and period piece, and I reccommend it to anyone trying to understand how Jesus felt, not just what he said. *** 1/2

Gone Fishin'- I saw this movie in a double feature with the immortal Con Air, discussed above. By comparison, Con Air is a veritable masterpiece. This movie is someone's idea of a comedy, and whoever that person is should be shot. It is just so amazingly bad, with pathetic performance by two normally competent actors, Joe Pesci and Danny Glover. This movie is mesmerizingly awful. *

The Fugitive- This is the yardstick by which I measure all other action films. Harrison Ford is typically excellent as the accused killer Dr. Richard Kimball, but he is upstaged by the flamboyant, driven US Marshall Sam Girard, played by a captivating Tommy Lee Jones. This movie provides intense action and thrills from the first minute to the last, and never breaches the threshold of credibility. A first-rate flick. ****

Wild Things- Some amazingly stupid dialogue is semi-balanced by a fairly decent plot and some first rate nudity. Neve Campbell turns in the most interesting performance, while Matt Dillon annoys the living hell out of me. The question here is: Does the nudity redeem the overall quality of the film? Well, not entirely, but enough to keep it off my shit list. ** 1/2

Jaws- This movie amazes me because it's one of a very select group that gets better the more you watch it. The characters in this film have amazing amounts of depth for what is essentially a horror film; Quint (Robert Shaw), especially, has an ambiguous quality that is particularly fascinating. Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider also turn in excellent performances. What really makes this movie work are the relationships between these three leads and some amazing directing by Spielburg with the shark. And John Williams, you're the f***ing man! ****

Carnival of Souls- Made in the early 1960s, this is still by far the scariest horror movie I have ever seen. Made for just $30,000 and filmed in glorious black and white, the movie keeps up a level of suspense and confusion that resembles a long, terrible nightmare. It is an atmospheric masterpiece, with competent performances turned in by all the leads under superior directing by Herk Harvey and cinematography by Maurice Prather, not to mention an eerie score by Gene Moore. ****

Pulp Fiction- Now, here's a good action flick. This movie proves it doesn't take loud, overdone explosions and outrageously stupid villains to make an action movie people will like. It's just an excellent film top to bottom, with top-notch performances by all of the leads (and there ae quite a few of them). Quentin Tarantino follows his art-house success Reservoir Dogs with a very solid offering. The script is tightly written and the cinematography is superb. And who could forget Ezekiel 25:17? *** 1/2

Face/Off- John Travolta made be Hollywood's comeback kid, but even he can't save a script with so many turns it'd make a good DNA strand. The performances by the lea are admirable, but the plot is sucha stretch and the action so unrealistic that it's hard to take the film seriously. Still, the movie has some admirable qualities, and I can't say I didn't enjoy my viewing of it. ** 1/2

Jurassic Park- Here's a special effects movie for the ages. Spielberg uses all the tools in his command to make one of the most visually stunning films of all time. All the performances are competent, highlighted by Sir Richard Attenborough and Jeff Goldblum as the geeky Ian Malcolm. The script contains many thrills and chills, and Spielburg generates a sense of wonder and excitement unparalleled by any movie since Raiders of the Lost Ark. An excellent production, top to bottom. *** 1/2

Batman- Excellent production design and first-rate performances by Keaton and Nicholson in the leads keep this movie from sinking under its own weight. Tim Burton creates a dark, menacing Gotham City, and Keaton portrays an equally dark and mysterious Bruce Wayne/Batman. Nicholson is wonderfully psychotic as the Joker, and balances Keaton nicely. Basinger also puts in a nice performance as the outsider lover. Holes in the script and missing elements of the Batman mythos keep this movie from being a four star flick, but it is the best live-action Batman movie there is. ***

Cobb- To my surprise, this was an excellent bio pic of one of the biggest bastards who's ever lived. Tommy Lee Jones leads as the volatile Ty Cobb, one of baseball's all-time greats. Robert Wuhl turns in an excellent performance as the writer Cobb hires as his biographer. The movie is told from Wuhl's point of view, and keeps a surprisingly objective view point of its star. The script is particularly good in this regard, never quite allowing the viewer to feel sorry for Cobb, no matter how pathetic or endearing he becomes. Extremely well done. *** 1/2

Clean & Sober- A tough, hard look at the world of drug addiction and the pain and ruin it causes. Michael Keaton is captivating as a man who uses a drug rehab center to hide from police (because they promise total anonimity), and while there starts to come to grips with his own drug problem. The movie is relentless in its showing of how drugs can wreck a life, but, then again, so is life. *** 1/2

Donnie Brasco- Thoughtful and original take on gangster life in New York. Pacino is dazzling as a long time mafia member who has seen others around him promoted while he remains in his lowly position. Johnny Depp is well played as the undercover FBI agent who Pacino takes under his wing. The movie is interesting and gripping every step of the way, led by a colorful cast and a fluid script. Forget about it! ****

Enemy of the State- Another typically overproduced action movie from the Hollywood braintrust. This one, however, has two particularly good leads, namely Will Smith and Gene Hackman. Their personalities keep the film afloat through some obvious & unlikely twists and turns. The finale, though, IS surprising and funny, if not terribly realistic. ***

What Dreams May Come- Robin Williams turns a second straight performance of Oscar-caliber quality. The imagery of death, Heaven, and Hell in this movie alone is enough to get it a three-star rating. The strong performances turned in by all the leads push it over the top. As thoughtful and emotional a movie about death as I have ever seen. ****

Patch Adams- A lot like Dead Poets Society, but better. Williams turns in another grade-A perfpormance as a physician who thinks that the world would be better served if hospitals were a bit more fun. Maybe not quite realistic at all times, but it is based on a true story, so the movie at least approximates the truth (presumably). Williams is what really carries this movie, make no mistake. A great vehicle for showing exactly how endearing he can be. ***

Awakenings- Truly excellent film about a shy doctor who discovers that certain patients in a mental instituion are suffering from high order Parkinson's, and manages to help bring them back to a normal life. Robert DeNiro plays one of these patients, the first to be "awakened." His performance is truly compelling, and he is complemented nicely by a strangely reserved Williams. One of the best films of the 1990s. Based on a true story. ****

A Civil Action- John Travolta plays an ambulance chaser type lawyer wo suddenly decides to go for broke on a case involving the mysteriously high lukemia rate among children in a small Massachusetts town. Another movie based on a true story, this fim does not back down from its star's less than noble initial motives. It features a good script and solid performances by its stars, which usually leads to a pretty good rating. *** 1/2

Schindler's List- Steven Spielberg's intensely personal film about Oskar Schindler, a German war profiteer who eventually uses his factory to help rescue Jews from concentration camps. The movie is highlighted by the performance of the three major stars, Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and Ralph Fiennes. Every one is excellent in his role, especially Fiennes as the creepy Nazi work camp general. No question about this one, it's a keeper. ****

The Mask of Zorro- An enthusiastic cast carries a marginal script to respectable heights in this action thriller. Antonio Banderas is particularly effective as the young man who takes the role of Zorro when Anthony Hopkins is too old to do it. Not a fantastic film, but certainly enjoyable and a lot of fun. ***

Shakespeare in Love- A clever and well acted-film, and Best Picture of 1998. All of the acting is absolutely exceptional, and is largely responsible for this film's Best Picture status. The movie is a fun and enjoyable look at the life of the great Bard, and certainly deserves an Oscar over the reprehensible Saving Private Ryan. *** 1/2

Can't Hardly Wait- A movie where the actors try hard, but can't save a script lacking a single original thought. Supposedly a truthful and insightful look at high school life, it is nothing but a contrived story, a conglomeration of every high school movie ever made. Part of its intent is comedy, and it does well enough with that, but the story is so weak that it is hard to truly recommend it. **

Office Space- Very funny movie with a Bartleby, the Scrivener premise. A man who grows tired of working in corporate America just decides to stop showing up one day. The movie proceeds from there, very much in the spirit of the hit cartoon strip Dilbert. A clever script and appropriately tongue-in-cheek performances earn this movie high marks. *** 1/2

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance- On its surface, this is a typical old Western. It stars John Wayne, its got a clear cut villain, and its got a climactic gun battle (as the title suggests). But this movie goes well beyond a typical Western. Shot in stylistic black and white, it is a carefully woven and deeply felt love story. The story is told not only with dialogue, but with gestures and settings. The movie can only be appreciated with many viewings. Truly a remarkable film. ****

The Last Picture Show- The Best Picture of 1971 is truly one of the best pictures of all time. The movie is about the death of a small Western town, and how all the people deal with their fading way of life. The movie is sad in a suggestive, longing sense. In the film, the town itself becomes the most important character, largely due to beautiful cinematography in stylistic black and white. The film is one of the best mergings of novel with the film medium ever produced; it shows how the film medium can enhance a story and become an excellent method of "narrating" a book. **** incessant march of time. Well, that's it for now, but I assure you there will be more later!

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