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Not bad, not great either
Pretty standard programmer starring Preston Foster as a lawyer who gets picked by a political machine to run for mayor. Once he's elected he wants to actually live up to his campaign promises and clean up City Hall.The machine won't have any of it and gets him framed on a murder charge to get him out of the way. Alls well that ends well and he gets his job back in the 3rd act. And he gets the girl of course. Not bad but even at under an hour it felt like a two hour film. I kept thinking that if this script had ended up at someplace like Warner Brothers instead of Poverty Row and somebody like Bogart had been assigned to it it would have been a better film. Not necessarily a classic but still better.
Safari 3000 (1980)
In the tradition of " Cannonball Run"
In the tradition of " Cannonball Run " and " The Great Race " " Safari 3000" tells the basically simple story of a African continent road race. It's not a classic and there aren't any great stunts but all the actors ( Stockard Channing and Hamilton Camp in particular) look like they're having a roaring good time with the silly dialogue and consequently so will you. There are a couple of raunchy lines that will go right over the kiddies heads so it's one for the entire family. Lots of wild animals and some natives who are aren't as primitive as they appear, actors having a great time, all in all a fun way to spend an hour and a half. Of course, as in all low budget movies there are some unintentially funny moments, like the African used car dealer at the beginning who only gets his accent down in the second half of his scene.
Casino Royale (1967)
Best watched after a few beers
I've seen this film 3 times now. The first two times I absolutely hated it and only rented it on DVD the third time because I had just read the original book by Ian Fleming and wanted to see what , if anything, was retained from the actual plot. The answer is nothing. Basically this is just a spoof made to cash in on the James Bond craze during the sixties. It has a lot of silly sequences performed by some big stars who at least all seem to be having a good time. It's also the inspiration for the Austin Powers films so if you're an Austin Powers fan ( which I'm not) you might actually "get" this film. From what I understand they're going to remake it and once again all they're keeping is the title. Why that is I have no idea. The original story written by Ian Fleming was very entertaining and hopefully one of these days we'll actually get to see it on the big screen.
Don't Bother to Knock (1952)
Based on the short running time of this film I think the real purpose of it was the studio's desire to see if Marilyn could actually act. All the film proved, however, is that she was extremely photogenic which they had probably already figured out from her walk on role in "The Asphalt Jungle". She's not horrible or anything but most of the performance is in her eyes. You don't really get the impression that she's really inside this character's skin. Widmark is really the one to watch here. He gave much better performances over the years but was always a lot of fun to watch and this film is no exception. Anne Bancroft also turns in a good performance. I don't know if she actually sang or not but if she was dubbed it's hard to tell because everything about her in this small supporting role was right on the money. 5/10
Dead Man's Walk (1996)
Great book, awful movie
Larry McMurtry's wonderful story of the early days of Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call has been transformed by the Hallmark Entertainment team into one of the worst film adaptations I've ever seen. All the blood and guts and dramatic intensity are gone. The scene where the boys have to ride through the buffalo herd to invite Buffalo Hump to parley is all of about 2 seconds long with no excitement whatsoever. In the book it was a nail-biting chapter that went on for about 20 pages. Don't waste your time. Just read the book instead. You'll be glad you did.
Yemanján tyttäret (1995)
Surrealistic Mystery shot in Rio De Janeiro.
" The Daughters of Yemanja" (Yemanjen tyttaret) is a surrealistic mystery shot in Rio de Janeiro concerning a Finnish woman's quest to solve the mystery of her sister's death. Alternating between Portogese, English and Finnish , with no subtitles ( the Director's intent), we follow the girl into the slums of Rio de Janeiro where everybody hates her because she's a white European but where she does finally solve the mystery with the help of practicioners of the Santerria religion. Not a bad little mystery whose understanding of it depends on how much of the dialogue you understand but which also forces you to really look at the characters faces to try and figure out what everybody's saying. Hand-held camera work and Brazilian music also add to the surreal aspect of the whole film.
San Pietro (1945)
It's all in the perception
While I agree with another reviewer here that " All Quiet On The Western Front" is one of the greatest anti-war films of all time I don't see this documentary as anti-war at all. San Pietro was of strategic value to the Allied Forces and yes we took it at great loss of life and yes nobody wants to die in some war in a foreign country but these brave young men died for a good cause. To try and use this film to argue that wars should never be fought does a great disservice to all the young Americans who died to free Europe from the Nazis.
I've seen "Woodstock" a few times now and basically its underrated. In my opinion the greatest rock documentary ever made was the " Isle of Wight Concert" which unfortunately hasn't been seen by many people. The only things outstnding about Woodstock were Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker and the incredible amount of people who showed up. I'd be interested in knowing what happened to some of the attendees who are interviewed during the film. I suspect they're either long dead from OD's, living in a cardboard box on one of America's many skid rows or they grew up and got their act together and are now Republicans, like this old hippie is.
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Michael Moore sells out
This really isn't an anti-gun movie unless you're somebody who's absolutely opposed to anybody but the police and the bad guys owning firearms. I don't own a gun and have never fired one but the Michigan Militia men interviewed at the beginning of the film all made perfect sense to me. People should have the right to protect themselves from the bad guys without having to always rely on the cops. This is also a film that never should have won the Oscar. It's no different than any of his other ambush interview documentaries and there were far better choices the Academy could have made. The reason I say Mike is a sell-out is because after watching this film the only conclusion one can draw is the reason we're such a violent prone country is because of the violent movies and violent video games we're bombarded with but instead of going after Hollywood Moore goes after the Government because after all, if he had gone after Hollywood he would have had a really tough time finding a distributor. The DVD has a number of goodies on it- the book signing and the speech he gives are like watching a left-wing version of Jerry Falwell . His empathy is completely fake and just an act. There's also his bit where he explains his Oscar speech which is quite hilarious in its blatant re-writing of history. No, Mike, nobody was cheering you and the booers weren't booing the cheerers. They were booing you as you rightly should have been booed. In fact they booed you right off the stage and they were so loud in their booing that the walls in my apartment 5 blocks from the Kodak Theater were shaking. And no, Mike, it wasn't just a spur of the moment thing. You gave an interview right after the ceremonies where you said the whole stunt had been pre-planned.
The Glass House (2001)
Decent thriller ruined by sloppy shooting
" The Glass House " is a decent thriller ruined by extremely sloppy shooting about half way through when the little brother, who had obviously been worked past the legal child labor law limit and been sent home for the night, mysteriously disappeared from the car his sister was driving and then miraculously re-appeared in the next scene back at the house like he'd never left. This could easily have been shot around without insulting the intelligence of viewers who were paying attention. For this reason alone, I give this film a 1 out of 10.
Killing Blue (1988)
Somebody must have friends in high places
and it must be the director of this so-called movie. How he got actors on the caliber of Armin Mueller-Stahl and Michael York to make this one I have absolutely no idea. I'm not even sure who Stahl and York are supposed to be. I guess they're cops.
It's not that bad !
"Mitchell" basically looks a cop TV show from the seventies and as far as cop shows go this one isn't all that terrible. If you're basing your review on the Mystery Science version the fact is you haven't seen the movie. All you've seen are some nerdy creatures make fun of a movie because they're not talented enough to make a movie themselves. Those guys could make "Casablanca" look like a piece of junk. That's their shtick. If you're a fan of shows like " The Rockford Files" you'll probably like this movie. It's not that bad !
This won the Oscar ?
Musicals are one of the oldest forms of American film genre there is, so there's nothing too revolutionary going on here. The question is how did such a mediocre musical win the Best Picture Oscar ? I have no idea, probably because it's good safe entertainment. The movie is mediocre all-around. Standard story, mediocre music, lyrics, choreography and performances, probably the weakest performance I have seen Renee Zellwger give yet. Catherine Zeta-Jones, like usual is just kind of there. She should look into using that pretty face for modeling because she's far from being a great actress and has a tendency of killing any scene she's in. If you want to see a good contemporary musical skip this one and watch "Moulin Rouge" or "All That Jazz". Just because the Academy decided to award it its highest honor doesn't make it any good.
Mob War (1989)
How to Make a Bad Mob Movie Worse
First you assemble a cast of actors who can't act. Then you hire a director who can't direct, writers who can't write and an editor who can't edit. To make sure that you really ruin the film you add a really bad score that runs underneath the dialogue throughout the entire film and you've got " Mob War". All kidding aside, the film is worth seeing just to see boxing champ Jake LaMotta as The Godfather. He's alright.
The St. Louis Bank Robbery (1959)
Great little film-noir
Taut, well directed heist film featuring a very young Steve McQueen as the getaway driver in a bank robbery. Well cast, well acted, well shot and well edited. Don't miss this one and do yourself a favor and ignore anybody who tells you this isn't a good film because they don't know what they're talking about. I've seen a lot of film noir and I put this one right up there with " The Killing".
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
One of the worst films I have ever seen
The first 40 minutes or so of this film, although predictable, make for interesting viewing but once the obnoxious little robot gets left in the woods the movie immediately deteriorates into one of the biggest cinematic messes of all time. If I didn't know this was a Spielberg film I would have thought it was directed by some low budget direct to video director who had conned some producer into giving him a shot at the big time. If this is the best Spielberg can do after 30 years of filmmaking maybe its time for him to start think about retiring because this movie is a real stinker.
One of America's great black comedies
For some reason this film really affected me and I personally think most viewers as well as possibly the filmmakers ( although I suspect they didn't and are just playing a big joke on you all) have missed the entire point of this film. This movie is not supposed to be taken seriously. From the opening "big wind " shot its obvious that we are in a hyper-real world. Richard Gere's character hasn't done anything to warrant putting him in the kind of situation he finds himself in. He's a nice guy who cares about his family. Diane Lane is having a fling. Why ? Who knows? I guess she's caught up in the moment. The third act is when the black comedy aspects come into play. Gere leaves as much evidence as he destroys and on top of everything else puts the corpse in the trunk of his car and then , apparently, dumps it in the town dump in his own hometown miles away from the crime scene. On top of everything else he and the arcass get stuck in the elevator which should be a big tip off that we're not in the real world. Yes, the ending is a cheat and ambiguous but it really isn't. Watch the scenes with the NYPD homicide detectives closely. They aren't dummies and its obvious they are on to something. Based on the time line even with an ambigous ending its obvious these guys are coming back, probably on New Years Eve and Gere is going to be arrested. He's their suspect. They've got all kinds of evidence and from the moment they enter the picture its apparent they aren't just fishing. They know what happened here. Director Adrian Lyne just doesn't show it to the viewer but his detectives know who committed this murder. They know it from that first visit.
The Rookie (2002)
Standard Baseball movie
If you're easily inspired or you're a couch potato who's too lazy to live out your own dream and would rather live vicariously through somebody elses dream then I guess this is your movie. This is the kind of film that Hollywood excels in these days- well shot, well-acted and utterly predictable. For those of you who think this is one of the greatest baseball movies of all time do yourself a favor and rent a copy of " The Pride of the Yankees" starring Gary Cooper. It is the greatest baseball movie of all time and nothing before or since has even come close.
Panic Room (2002)
Good Thriller that falls apart in the middle
"The Panic Room" takes off like a rocket ship but then tends to fall apart in the middle with too many props that are only there for the sake of the story and 3 references to other Hollywood movies that are 3 references too many. Forest Whitaker as always is great and Jodie Foster gives a competent performance. This is the only David Fincher film I've seen that I didn't absolutely hate with a passion but its still not the great film it could have been.
Far superior to the U.S. remake
Much has already been written about this film so I will only say that if you have seen the remake with Al Pacino you simply must see this original version, even if you can't stand films with subtitles. If you haven't seen the remake then you might want to pass on it completely and just see this one instead because this is a far superior film than the Hollywood version.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Entertaining, but hard to believe
If this wasn't based on a true story I would have thought it was just the figment of some screenwriter's imagination but it is based on a true story so it obviously must have happened. The real Frank Abagnale, Jr. must have been 10 times slicker than Leonardo because the character as he portrays him wouldn't have been able to con me out of so much as a dollar bill and the FBI agent that Tom Hanks plays isn't too bright. How he ever let Abagnale get away from him as many times as he did is beyond me, but then again, based on recent news the FBI appears to be about as bright as Barney Fife so I guess they really did let this kid slip through their fingers on more than one occasion and make fools out of them all.
Killing Me Softly (2002)
Much Ado About Nothing
SPOILER Heather Graham's character is aptly named here because like many Alices before her she's basically just living in Wonderland. Alice dumps her perfectly normal and boring boyfriend for some guy who catches her eye on the street in which the attraction is nothing but sex and more sex. The sex isn't that steamy, Heather Graham nude looks pretty much like hundreds of other women without their clothes on and the story basically goes nowhere. Alice finds out boyfriend, now husband is a psycho, dumps him and goes on with her life, presumably just waiting to be swept off her feet again by the next attractive piece of meat. Don't waste your time.
Laurel Canyon (2002)
Movie needed some pizzaz
There are some interesting characters in some interesting situations here but nothings really all that developed and variousdifferent conflicts that are there are never fully exploited. Something needs to happen here because the characters aren't fully developed enough to carry a "slice of life' story the way this story is presented. There needed to be more tension between the characters, more emotion, more sex, more something. I picked up this film because Frances McDormand is in it, but this isn't one of better performances. She doesn't really get inside her characters like she normally does. It's an external performance and consequently the viewer is just left with a forty-something actress acting the role of a forty-something record producer who gets stoned. There, unfortunately isn't a moment when Frances McDormand is on screen where we forget it's her.
The Cheap Detective (1978)
This movie is only funny if you're drunk and even that doesn't help much. This movie is an insult to Bogart, John Huston, Michael Curtiz, Peter Falk and everybody else who got involved in it or whose work was spoofed in it. It's a great example of garbage with absolutely nothing to recommend it except maybe the stiffs at the beginning of the movie who at least don't embarrass themselves by opening their mouths and saying anything. Don't waste your time.
Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
Ah, the Fifties
With the exception of "On the Waterfront" the Academy went out of its way during the fifties to award the Best Picture Oscar to movies that were safe, family friendly, non-controversial, non thought provoking and politically neutral . " Around The World in 80 Days" is no exception. Basically, this is just a 3 hour travelogue with pretty photography and alot of over the hill actors in cameo roles. Read the book by Jules Verne instead and skip this turkey. Even on a big screen, its not worth wasting 3 hours of your life.