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The Siege (1998)
A gripping, shocking picture ... ever since the events of the 11th of September 2001!!
Just like "Wag the dog", this film was nothing special when being released in 1998 and ultimately an average attempt, but just like "Wag the dog" the film got really interesting when the fiction became facts!
Every single soul on Earth will watch this film through a different perspective after the horrible events of the 11th of September 2001! I only got to see this film on television yesterday (27 april 2002) and I must admit that I was both shocked and awestruck by this film which gained real interest and real importance after the 'Twin Towers-incident'. If I would have seen this picture before, I wouldn't have given a damn about it, but now I do. Because what I saw in that film (or at least 85 to 90% of what I saw; leaving just 10 to 15% Hollywood-material to keep things commercial enough to sell it), would eventually really happen. And after a situation like that, you see things differently.
The same happened with "Wag the dog". Before the incident, it was merely an average picture (with some very fine acting though), but it wasn't until after the incident that that picture got the full attention for telling the truth BEFORE it actually happened. The same goes for this one here.
Acting performances are great. Bruce Willis isn't bad, but he's nothing comparing to Denzel Washington who gives one of his best performances ever. The rest of the cast (especially Tony Shalhoub) is believable too.
Watch this film (especially when you're American) and you'll notice that you'll be shocked by what the film has to tell you (in case you didn't like the film a couple of years ago). ... the horror ... ... the horror ... ...
We all know that the '60s wasn't the greatest decade of Hollywood. By 1963 Hollywood decided to give up on those big-budget, massive-movies such as "The Ten Commandments", "Ben-Hur", "El Cid" or "Lawrence of Arabia" simply because the 1963-movie "Cleopatra" had become the most expensive movie of all time. The release of this gigantic love-drama immediately killed off this particular genre. Hollywood was left empty-handed for a couple of years and that's where Great-Brittain came in.
After this change, the movie business had changed too and was then divided into two different kinds of categories. At one hand, you still had some very good American movies such as "The great escape", "The dirty dozen" and "Planet of the apes". Unfortunately, the 60's was the ultimate invasion of Great-Brittain in America; both in music (with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Erik Clapton) and in film. America had its share of great movies, but it felt as if Great-Brittain had total control over the '60s. Not only did they begin the greatest film series of all time in 1962 with the release of the first Bond-film, but there were also many British directors who came up with extra-ordinary movies. Alfred Hitchcock with "Psycho" and "The Birds" and Stanley Kubrick with classics such as "Spartacus" and "2001: A space odyssey". By the beginning of the '70s, America would take full control again as many fantastic American directors and actors would start their career or have their breakthrough. Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese are only a few of the utterly important names who would dominate the movie business. Hollywood had a great time making movies in the '70s, but the '60s were quite different for them. And this film here is living proof of that.
"Bullitt" is your typical cop-movie. The script is boring, there aren't any interesting characters whatsoever and there's only one great scene worth-mentioning; and that is the 5-minute car chase-scene that truly looks fantastic! But apart from that, there's nothing to look forward too. One has to wait too long for something to happen and when that moment arrives, you're often left empty-handed. Steve McQueen tries his best to uplift the quality of this boring action movie, but fails. Simply put: this movie could have been a lot better if they only had added more action scenes. This isn't a actors' movie and that's why all of the characters and their acting performances fail. Maybe back in the '60s this film looked interesting, but I got used to watch so many dull cop-action-movies over the years that this picture has got nothing new to offer and contains a lot of things I've seen before.
The 6th Day (2000)
I 'might' be back!
After having played in a few minor films, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns with the kind of action film that reminds us of his earlier work. Although his movies will always have a bit of a simplistic story (the James Cameron-classics being an indisputable exception here), there are other far more superior things that make most of his films quite enjoyable. One hardly ever goes to see an Arnie-film for the brilliant acting and the Oscar-worthy scenario. Instead, you're treated with first-rate action and catchy one-liners.
And things aren't any different in "The 6th day". The action scenes are sometimes a bit farfetched but always fun to watch. The story has little depth, but contains a few clever puns. The characters are poor but not uninteresting and almost all of the acting is beneath average but not annoying. With Tony Goldwyn and Arnold Scharzenegger as the hardly convincing baddie and goodie, it's Academy Award-winner Robert Duvall who deserves all the credit for his fine performance as the 'cloning' doctor in this movie.
***SPOILER*** Somehow 'James Bond: Tomorrow never dies'-director Roger Spottiswoode has included two clones in his film of two of the most famous modern horror-characters. The first one is when Schwarzenegger decides to buy a living doll for his daughter. You might notice that this non-stop speaking piece of plastic is an actual she-Chucky. It's an ugly doll and it's more frightening than playful. The second link is at the end of the movie after Tony Goldwyn has tried to clone himself. The process of cloning was interrupted by Schwarzie himself and as a result of that the ultimate baddie of this movie looks very much like Freddy Krueger. Whether these two similarities were done by accident or are indeed deliberate choices, is not really known. What is known, is that the worst part of the movie is when Schwarzenegger has cloned himself and they both try and rescue their wife. It's so farfetched that it's actually funny yet it weakens the script of the film.
Although "The 6th day" is a pretty good popcorn-action movie, there are still quite a few flaws to discover. But if you look beyond these, you might enjoy the picture after all.
Last but not least: the funniest part of this film is when Arnold Schwarzenegger (while looking for a present for his daughter) is mocking himself and his favorite one-liner. Instead of saying:" I'll be back" he decides to give it a little twist and says to the salesman:" I might be back."
From Russia with Love (1963)
From Belgium with disappointment!
The second installment of the James Bond-series is a weak one. It has a few interesting action scenes that still look good after almost more than 40 years, but this film makes the same mistake as "Dr. No"; the very first James Bond-movie. Both films are short of action and a good script. All of the bad characters presented in this film are very unexciting and that goes for the acting as well. The good characters on the other hand are far more interesting. Sean Connery plays James Bond for the second time and he does it with the same flawless mix of style and coolness as he did before. The same goes for Lois Maxwell who's the ultimate Miss Moneypenny of the entire James Bond-franchise. She plays it with such sweetness that it's become impossible not to love her.
In this film, we get a first glimpse of Bond's archenemy Blofeld; he'll return more than once in some of the next Bond-films. This is also the first time that we get to see Bond's 'gadget-provider' Q played by the late Desmond Llewelyn. It's a nice and fresh change to have him in this and many other James Bond-films to come. Amongst the better scenes in "From Russia with love", are the ones which introduce Q's thrilling and little yet dangerous devices perfectly hidden in the most normal-looking and every-day objects such as ballpoints, spectacles, watches, suitcases and even cars.
Just like in the first and practically every other Bond-movie ever made, this film also introduces the kind of indestructible baddie sent out to kill James Bond. Here, his name is Red Grant and it's Robert Shaw who gets to play this character; ten years from this film's release we will see the same Robert Shaw in Spielberg's thrilling and ground-breaking fish-film "Jaws". The fighting scene in the small train compartment between Bond and Grant is great and probably the best part of the whole film.
The idea of creating a character such as James Bond may be very original, but not everything about these movies is. One of the film's last action scenes in which James Bond is chased and nearly killed by an airplane is a direct copy of Hitchcock's masterpiece "North by northwest" which was released only a few years before. Seeing it a second time in a James Bond-movie is nothing but an excessive déjà-vu. As for the other action scenes; they're nice and that's all there's to say about them. The ending is not such a big surprise as it was meant to be and therefore another disappointing scene.
All in all, "From Russia with love" isn't a bad movie, but could've been a lot better if there were more and more original action scenes. It contains too many flaws and too many lengthy sequences that make you forget about the few interesting moments this film truly has.
A View to a Kill (1985)
A view to the greatest performance ever in a Bond-film!
Roger Moore has taken the part of James Bond seven times and this is his last appearance as the British secret agent. Originally, he wanted to quit after having done "Octopussy" of 1983, but apparently he must have liked the script of this film so much that he wanted to play 007 one more time. But Roger Moore isn't the only one who's planning on leaving the James Bond-series. In "A view to a kill" Lois Maxwell is going to play her character Miss Moneypenny one last time. She's the only one who's been in every single Bond-film since the very first episode: "Dr. No" of 1962. And therefore it's kind of sad to watch her leave.
"A view to a kill" is often accused of being a "Goldfinger" re-hash, but this is just plain stupid. There are hardly any similarities and this film is simply no match for the 1964-classic.
The best thing about "A view to a kill" is Christopher Walken's fantastic performance as the villain Max Zorin. One may notice that he's the first and only Oscar-winning actor ever to appear in the James Bond-series. He's so good that you may eventually begin to root for him. Roger Moore as 007 is good, but that's mainly because of his experience during the years. Nine times out of ten, James Bond-films also have more than just one baddie and this time it's no different. There's always a master-villain; usually a normal guy who's trying to carry out a flawed plan to destroy or take over the world. And this person is more often than not backed up by an enjoyable yet almost unbreakable henchman - or should I say: henchwoman. Because throughout the many Bond-films, we've seen all kinds of imaginative baddies. And in this film here, we're treated with the athletic character May Day; a woman so masculine that she looks like a personification of a she-Hulk. Nevertheless, her jump from the highest platform of the Eiffeltower is truly one of the most excellent action scenes of "A view to a kill."
There are one or two other action scenes worth mentioning, but they all take place in the first half of the film. Thus, what started as a great action film became soon enough your average Bond-journey. The whole mine-sequence seems irrelevant and the climax of the film is not as thrilling as it wants to be, and as a result of that a bit disappointing.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
James Bond versus Jaws!
This is Roger Moore's first James Bond-film that combines all of the many standard 007-elements into one story! We haven't seen this great mix of action and intrigue since the first James Bond-movies with Sean Connery (of which "Goldfinger" is still his very best). They're the most enjoyable ones because of the many wonderful locations, beautiful women, exceptional action-sequences and a few interesting baddies. All of this plays an important role in the storyline which is kept very simple. Because if they make the story too complex, they might lose sight of the action. And action is the one thing a James Bond-film truly needs. In the end, every one of these films is a one-dimensional 'cat-and-mouse-game' between James Bond and the bad guy(s). Nevertheless, this is the way I like it the most!
Roger Moore's first two Bond-films did not contain all the necessary 007-features mentioned above. "Live and let die" is nearly as good as this one here, but it's set in a different, almost 'non James Bond-like' atmosphere; while Moore's previous Bond-film "The man with the golden gun" does indeed take place in such a familiar environment, but it simply isn't a good movie because of the lack of the required action. So you see: there are certain rules to successfully make a good James Bond-movie. And "The spy who loved me" has done so.
Despite the many wonderful action-scenes in this film, there are other things far more interesting to look forward to. First of all, there's James Bond who must work with his female Soviet counterpart Major Anya Amasova. She is not your typical James Bond-girl who has to be saved every five minutes or so; she's an independent woman who's more than a match for the British secret agent. This has never been done before. Women have always been portrayed as victims in the James Bond-series.
Secondly, there's this mean character named 'Jaws'. He is not the real enemy, but merely an amazing almost indestructible henchman sent out to stop James Bond. Of all the villains that came and went through the years, this human version of Spielberg's unstoppable evil is one of the most fascinating baddies in the whole James Bond-series. That's why they implemented this character in the next Bond-film as well. A pity however is that his boss and therefore the real criminal of this film is such a monotonous character who only seems to be able to give orders instead of joining the action himself. If it weren't for Jaws, this film would've only been half as good. As usual, the action scenes in this film are very good. This is due to the many ingenious tools created by Q.
All in all, "The spy who loved me" is a pretty good action film that brings you a bit of all the necessary 007-aspects.
Live and Let Die (1973)
Moore action than usual!
Although Sean Connery had decided to leave the James Bond-series for good after having played the British secret agent five times, he came back one more time in 1971 to star in the film "Diamonds are forever". It must have been the huge amount of money they offered him that eventually changed his mind. But after having done this film, he got really fed up with it and the producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had to go and look for a new Bond. They thought about getting George Lazenby back (who had played James Bond in 1969 when Sean Connery had left), but eventually they selected an actor who had been described as the "ideal Bond" by no one less than Sean Connery himself.
British actor Roger Moore, who had become famous with the television show "The Saint", proved to be more than an excellent choice for the part of 007. Ultimately he would appear in as many James Bond-movies as his forerunner Sean Connery; a total of seven! The reason why Roger Moore truly deserves his title as 'second best Bond-actor' is because he's nearly as good as Sean Connery ... who himself, of course, has always been the absolute number one.
Still, there's a clear difference between a Sean Connery-007 and a Roger Moore-007 movie. Overall, the first one has a better storyline with more interesting dialogues and very good acting whereas the latter provides you with more action and better villains. Also, Bond-films with Roger Moore have always been a bit more of a comedy, because the actor has added his own share of irony.
Roger Moore's first appearance as the British secret agent is just as good as any of the others that were about to follow in the years to come. His first Bond-film is a good one despite the unusual, almost 'non James Bond-like' atmosphere. This film has no beautiful locations whatsoever, but instead they decided to maintain a rather eerie tone throughout the entire picture. To make it as real and creepy as possible, they only picked colorless, seemingly uninteresting locations: Harlem in New York and some deserted places in Jamaica; not particularly the sort of environment where you'll normally find James Bond adventuring. Practically all of the characters are simply too weird for a James Bond-film; especially when throwing in a voodoo culture with its own bizarre way of life ... and death! The weakest scene of the film is a tribe of dancing body-painted Africans who join a ritual. Fortunately, wacky moments like these are very rare.
Naturally, Roger Moore-007 movies are full of many great action scenes. There are quite a few interesting ones such as the car chase at the beginning of the film through the streets of New York or the speedboat chase that looks really good at first, but unfortunately tends to get a little boring after a while. The very best scene of "Live and let die" is, beyond any doubt, Bond's remarkable escape from a dozen ravenous crocodiles. If it weren't for the brainless script, this film may have been somewhat better.
But that is where the many interesting characters come in. After having used the same evil character Blofeld in the last three Bond-films, they thought about creating a new, fresh enemy for James Bond. In "Live and let die" the big boss goes by the name of Mr. Big and he's not only a black person, but he also happens to be a normal guy with no side effects whatsoever. Typically he tells everyone what to do, but does not get anywhere the action is. I didn't quite like this Mr. Big although I do have to admit that he died an awesome death. What the point of his other character Kananga was, is beyond me.
As usual there's always an intriguing, seemingly indestructible henchman around the corner sent out by the big boss to kill James Bond. This time we're treated with a guy who has a steel hook for a hand. Of course, he doesn't die until the very end of the film; even after the big boss has been killed. James Bond-films always seem to be using the same pattern over and over again. But Bond's toughest opponent is the card-reading girl Solitaire who's aware of every single step he takes. With her in the film, we get the only yet very beautiful Bond-girl.
Last but not least: despite Q's absence in this film, there are still quite a few of his handy tools he's left behind.
All in all, "Live and let die" is a pretty good film with some nice features (such as the great title track written by Paul and Linda McCartney), but it's a pity that the atmosphere is so dark and alternative and also that Roger Moore doesn't play in a more jokey way since this suits him best.
This never happened to the other fellow!
When Sean Connery decided to give up his James Bond-character after having done five successful films, they had to go and look for someone else. Eventually it became the unknown British actor George Lazenby and so "On her Majesty's secret service" became the very first James Bond-film without Sean Connery. As James Bond would walk around with a slightly different look than before, they came up with the idea of mentioning that he's had a face-lift. A seemingly original idea, but yet so stupid that they decided to drop it immediately.
One may notice that George Lazenby has never done any professional acting before this film. It's his debut as an actor and it shows. He's by far the worst Bond-actor of the whole series which is why they probably got Sean Connery back for the next Bond-film. Fortunately, this minor incident is put aside by the great performance of Telly 'Dirty Dozen' Savalas; the bold-headed actor who now plays the role of Bond's archenemy Blofeld. This evil character, who appears in more Bond-films than any other villain, first showed up in "You only live twice" of 1967. Blofeld would eventually show his face in four Bond-films and it's never been played by the same actor twice.
The thing that makes "On her Majesty's secret service" just not good enough is the useless attempt of turning this film into an acting movie. Sure, there are a few great action scenes involved. But on the whole this film can get really tedious from time to time. The script isn't very good, but the dialogues are simply execrable. And on top of that, this film has also a number of romantic scenes which are both cheesy and unnecessary. Especially the romantic Christmas scene which is soaked with stupid Christmas songs, really got on my nerves. Fortunately for me, an action scene was just around the corner to break off this cheap and annoying charade between James Bond and the woman who would eventually become his wife.
***SPOILER*** I did like that part very much however: James Bond gets finally married! It was a complete new and daring feature that would change everything about the British hero and womanizer. Being married, he was going to give up his job as secret agent which also included that he wouldn't be fooling around anymore with these strange yet beautiful women. He was going to have a normal life from now on. Of course, everyone knows the ending of this movie by now, and being married with a dead woman isn't a marriage at all. Despite the dramatic ending (and the fact that this is the only James Bond-film without a happy end), watching James Bond's new bride getting shot to death really didn't get to me and I blame George Lazenby for it. He was never convincing as James Bond.
"On her Majesty's secret service" isn't a bad film at all, but there are just too many flaws. George Lazenby's weak performance as James Bond, the absence of good ironic humor and some pretty long-lasting scenes. On the other hand however, you're treated with some great action and wonderful locations.
This is by no means the worst Bond-film ever made (that honor will go to "The man with the golden gun"), but somehow it did become the one Bond that flopped at the box office.
Pauline & Paulette (2001)
A typical Belgian film
I never expected much of this film although it was a Belgian picture and it had gained some reasonable success in (and even outside) Belgium. When I went to see it, I got what I thought I would get.
"Pauline en Paulette" is not a bad movie, but it has its flaws. First of all, the film doesn't provide any fresh material. It's a mix of some of the better 'retarded-movies' Hollywood has given us throughout the years: "Rain man", "Awakenings" and "What's eating Gilbert Grape". Especially the Leonardo DiCaprio film has some serious similarities with this one here. In both films, the autistic person is not always welcome and does not always get the required attention and caring. So, the story had been used before.
The acting was pretty good and the classical music within the film was a nice and fresh change. I respect this film for it is a Belgian one (and Belgian films are always low-budget), but it simply didn't get to me. I watched it, but I never felt anything. I couldn't care less about the characters. The fact that three old women take the lead might have something to do with it, but I think it's mainly because the whole film is so monotonous. And the few jokes can't help refreshing the gloomy script. Still, I stayed seated and underwent the film.
Not bad for a debut, but with a more original storyline and more colorful characters, this film might have been truly worth-watching.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Shyamalan's sixth sense!
Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan (who was born in India and whose real name is Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan begins his career with the making of two minor films: Praying with Anger (1992) and Wide Awake (1998). In spite of its seemingly low-quality structure, these two films have a certain rank of importance, as they were to announce Shyamalan's third film: "The sixth sense". Considerably, this new film has had some influence from its predecessors. Unlike the first two films, "The sixth sense" becomes an instant hit all around the world AND Shyamalan's breakthrough in the film industry. But the success of this film is not just because of the appearance of famous actor Bruce Willis; who was given a leading role. There is so much more going on.
For example, the directing of the film. Shyamalan uses the same, remarkable technique Hitchcock came up with 50 years ago. They both manage to let the camera create the sinister atmosphere ... which is of such importance in a thriller. The cinematography of this extraordinary film is absolutely perfect. Although Hitchcock may be a more impressive director, Shyamalan's camera positioning is still quite exceptional.
Besides the directing of Shyamalan, "The sixth sense" also provides beautiful acting performances. Bruce Willis gives his best performance ever. His acting has improved by the years. Toni Collette may not be a well-known actress, but her performance as the mother of this special kid is touching. But the greatest acting comes from the smallest actor. At the age of 11, Haley Joel Osment stuns the world with what appears to be one of the greatest performances ever by a kid.
But a good film is more than a great director and great actors. It also implies an original story and that is exactly what "The sixth sense" is all about. Notice also how Shyamalan uses spiritual elements in his films. This film and the one before ('Wide Awake': a story in which a child is searching for God after his grandfather died) were both mystical and religious.
"The sixth sense" is, without doubt, an exceptional thriller and his next film 'Unbreakable' is to prove to the world that he can do it all over again; that it wasn't just beginner's luck.
Rules of Engagement (2000)
The rules of Jones and Jackson!
"Rules of engagement" is a military film about courage, duty and honor. Sadly enough this film doesn't live up to the expectations. Personally, I think there are only two great scenes in it: the Vietnam-scene at the very beginning of the film and the evacuation-scene in which many demonstrators are killed by the American troops. Everything else is either predictable (because it's been done before) or monotonous (because certain scenes last too long). Overall, this is not a bad film though (despite its brainless ending). It's just a pity that only the first 15 to 20 minutes are so good and that the rest of the film is less original and interesting. Also, it reminded me a lot of "A few good men" sometimes.
But director William Friedkin wanted to ensure the success of his film and therefore he got himself two of today's greatest actors: JFK-Fugitive Tommy Lee Jones and Pulp Fiction-Negotiator Samuel L. Jackson. Both do a great job (as usual) and for that reason only this film is worth watching. Because without Jones & Jackson there wouldn't be any ... "Rules of engagement."
Rob Roy (1995)
A highly underrated film!
Comparable to "Braveheart" because of the Scottish environment in which it took place, "Rob Roy" was released the exact same year. Somehow "Braveheart" got all the attention while this film was hardly mentioned. Although "Braveheart" may be a tad better, it's still unfair how this film here was misjudged by many.
"Rob Roy" is a beautiful film about honor and courage. The scenery is absolutely eye-catching and by far more beautiful than it was with "Braveheart." The story was good even if it became a little predictable now and then. The acting performances are quite outstanding. Jessica Lange proves (again) to be a great actress. Liam Neeson on the other hand is as 'Scottish' as Mel Gibson was. And, as for John Hurt and Tim Roth: they're very good as the 'baddies'.
Still, I like "Braveheart" better than "Rob Roy." Most likely, because Mel Gibson's epic had some very impressive battle scenes and this is, I believe, the one thing that's missing from "Rob Roy". Nevertheless, this film has its own remarkable scenes; such as the great sword fight at the end of the film for example.
All things considered "Rob Roy" is a very good film that will keep you attached to the screen for the whole time being.
Sea of Love (1989)
Sea the movie
"Sea of love" is not as well-known as many other Pacino-films, but it's worth watching; at least once. It's not a great thriller that you want to see over and over again, but it keeps your attention throughout the whole film the first time you watch it.
In fact, I believe that this is not a thriller at all. If you want to see a true thriller, you have to watch films such as "The sixth sense", "What lies beneath", "The name of the rose" and almost every film made by the 'master of suspense': Alfred Hitchcock.
No, this film is more of a cop film that reminded me a bit of Pacino's earlier "Serpico". Even so, it does rely on some tense moments and a pretty original storyline. There are even a few romantic moments involved between Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin.
And that takes us straight to the actors in this film. As expected, Al Pacino is the greatest one; by far. Ellen Barkin en John Goodman are good, but Pacino is simply better. Check out Samuel L. Jackson in a very small part as well.
Overall, this is not a bad film, and it's definitely good enough to spend your money on. Near the end the film becomes somewhat predictable and the plot is not nearly as good as I had hoped for. But this shouldn't ruin the film.
In short: go 'sea' the movie!
One of the best Vietnam-films ever made
In this great film Oliver Stone paints a nice but realistic (and therefore sometimes shocking) picture of what the Vietnam War must have been like in those days. In a brilliant way, Stone shows us how the Americans were rather fighting amongst themselves than against the 'real' enemy out there. He also points out that this must have been one of the main reasons why America didn't win the war. This piece of information is what the film is all about. Besides the actual Vietnam War you can see the development of another 'personal' war that starts with a stupid incident but becomes just as strong and dangerous as the real war. Good men were killed when they could have been saved.
In this film, Charlie Sheen is a young soldier who's just started out in Vietnam. He's caught between two superiors who (as he said so himself) fight for the possession of their souls. There's the morally corrupt, merciless 'killer machine' Sgt. Barnes and the much more humane Sgt. Elias who wants to teach his men a sense of compassion and responsibility.
"Platoon" is a great film, in particular because Oliver Stone creates such a thrilling and realistic atmosphere throughout the entire picture. The camera-work is great but unusual as Stone becomes a part of his own film by acting as if he were one of those soldiers. This technique is often used to create a rather claustrophobic and panicky atmosphere and it's best-known as 'subjective camera shots'.
Most of the film takes place in the jungle, but this so-called lack of variation is never boring. The scenes in the jungle are really nerve-wracking, as you never know what could happen next. One moment you have piece and quiet where you can literally hear the birds singing; it's almost as if the war has suddenly ended ... and then there's the ear-deafening noise of gunfire and grenades which, to anyone's surprise, immediately follows in the scene hereafter.
Because of an interesting story with great acting performances, Oliver Stone manages to keep you emotionally involved for the whole time being. Both Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe do a good job, but the most notable performance comes from Charlie Sheen. Interesting to know is that Charlie Sheen's father Martin has also starred in a Vietnam movie many years ago.
Personally, I think "Platoon" is a very good film that gives the viewer an insightful representation of how the Americans may have lost the Vietnam War.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Polanski's colorful classic
Normally, I'm not very keen on diabolical films, but "Rosemary's baby" is a good film and possibly even a classic in its genre. Talking about genres, I think this is not really a horror movie as there's simply no gore to be found whatsoever. Roman Polanski made a fine thriller in which a young woman experiences the great but somewhat mysterious hospitality of her neighbours. At first she accepts everything what has been offered to her. But after a while (and certain suspicious happenings later) she starts to reconsider.
The storyline of "Rosemary's baby" isn't bad, but there are other and far more impressive things about this film. For example: the way how Polanski builds up the tension by adding some very nice twists to the story now and then. Not to mention the great camera work as well as the use of different colors to create a certain atmosphere in the film. Much of the film is shot in close-up. This is another typical Polanski characteristic. By doing so, he points out the expressions on the faces of the different characters in this film. This is done in a truly magnificent but nevertheless dramatic way.
Another aspect of the Polish director is the way in which he represents a dream or a hallucination by the use of amateurish images. This is all brilliantly mixed with a dreadful silence that lasts through the whole sequence. These are often the most realistic scenes in the whole film as no steady-camera was used for such shooting. Polanski's directing is one of the main reasons why this film was so successful. He's really made a difference here.
What about the acting then? John Cassavetes is all right and Ruth Gordon as the nosy and annoying neighbour is even better. But the star of this film is, beyond any doubt, Mia Farrow. Her acting is so life-like that I felt sorry for her at times; even when I knew that she was only playing a character in a film.
Tragically enough, Polanski's wife was brutally murdered by Charles Manson and his cult members. This horrible incident happened right after this film had been released. I guess some people shouldn't watch films at all.
The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
I liked every yard of it!
The reason why I think this film is somewhat similar to "Three to Tango" is because Friends-actor Matthew Perry is in both films; presenting us with the exact same character twice. Although both his performances are very good, it's quite obvious how little difference there is between one another. Personally, I think that's all he's capable of. In this film he plays the part of Oz; a very nervous dentist who doesn't stand up for himself until the moment he falls in love with Natasha Henstridge.
But the same goes for Bruce Willis. The character he gets to play in this comedy is very similar to any cool character he's done before. Nevertheless, it's still very entertaining to watch him play the tough, self-confident macho again. Especially in a comedy such as this one here where he makes fun of his own stereotypical "Die hard" and "The fifth element"-characters. And guess what? It's funny all the way.
As for Natasha Henstridge: I think this is her first decent performance. Michael Clarke Duncan isn't bad as well, but his acting may seem rather stiff at times. Kevin Pollak is better and funnier than I expected and Amanda Peet plays the part of the very refreshing (dentist and criminal) assistant.
The script of the film is both very funny and original and it stays that way throughout the entire film. Highly recommended if you want to have a good laugh!
The Story of Us (1999)
A delightful true-life love story
From the director of "A few good men" comes a beautiful story about a married couple looking back on their 15 years of marriage, only to realize that they might no longer love each other.
"The story of us" is a great film in every way it wants to be. The script is simply brilliant. It's a delightful, realistic, touching and insightful story (of us). It represents so many typical things of life we're all familiar with that it becomes an enjoyable -yet true to life- love story.
Director Rob Reiner did a great job in making this film. The most surprising thing about his directing is the way in which he manages to do something which is actually against the rules of film making. At certain moments, he allows his main characters to watch STRAIGHT into the camera as they look back upon their lives and 15 years of marriage. This technique creates a different, almost interactive impression which is normally only used on television shows, interviews and commercials. In doing so, the director creates a virtual connection between the actors on screen and the people watching the film.
Talking about characters: who would Rob Reiner want for the married couple? This is another great thing about "The Story of us". The actors are very well chosen. Bruce Willis does a great job and hereby proves that he's really grown as an actor throughout the years. I don't think he could have done the same great performance 10 years ago when he was still dodging bullets in "Die hard". But even better is the acting of Michelle Pfeiffer. Now, I know it's hard to stay objective about her acting once you've seen her, but I think (apart from that everlasting beauty) this performance of hers is quite outstanding. And if you disagree with me on that, take a look at her famous monologue at the end of the film. This should prove of what a great actress Michelle Pfeiffer truly is!
Of course, practice makes perfect! And to make sure that both actors would appear natural on screen, Bruce Willis started flirting with Michelle Pfeiffer everytime he saw her on the film set. After all, their characters were married to each other for 15 years and their job was to give that exact same impression. Although the flirting with Hollywood's most beautiful actress must have been a true joy for Bruce Willis; it also improved the acting of both actors.
Last but not least: there's Erik Clapton with his many wonderful songs which you can hear throughout the entire film.
All things considered "The story of us" is one of the best romantic comedies I've ever seen
Disrespectful adaptation of a Shakespearean play
Don't be taken in by this rubbish! Many were fooled because this picture had some great names in it. I was one of those fools. I expected to see a film with overwhelming visuals and a realistic storyline. I was hoping for a great historical drama such as 'Gladiator' or 'The Patriot'. But what I got instead was a complete failure that lasted three hours (when it only needed two hours to do the same), that was so absurd almost the whole time through that it became awfully annoying. If Shakespeare were still alive, he'd never allow something like this to happen.
One thing has to be said though. This is one of Shakespeare's earliest and surely least popular works. I do realize that this is no 'Othello', 'Macbeth' or 'Richard III' and that it doesn't even come close to 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Hamlet'. But I'm not going to blame Shakespeare for it. I will however hold Julie Taymor responsible as she made the same huge mistake Baz Luhrmann ('Romeo + Juliet') did in 1996. Both directors add modern elements to the original Shakespearean play, only to end up with nothing more but a boring and disgraceful version of what once used to be an interesting tale. These modernized adaptations combine elements of the past with elements of the present and it is exactly this 'mix' of two different worlds that guarantees the chaos. It simply doesn't work!
But not everything is bad; surprisingly enough. Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange prove to be excellent actors, and particularly Lange is wonderful! But even with their great performances, they can't save the day. Things are simply too messed-up here.
And then there's the mindless plot with its ridiculous Matrix-imitation which has been done before and which only looks too stupid in a film like this. You might think I'm exaggerating, but this film was the biggest flop in my country along with "The Blair Witch project II". In less than a month, both films were taken out of most of the Belgian cinemas. I just hope that this film will be a lesson for the next director who considers modernizing a Shakespearean novel.
De witte (1980)
Comical drama of superlative quality
"De Witte" is a typical Flemish film that gives the viewer an idea of how the conditions were at the beginning of this century in Flanders (this is the Dutch-speaking, Northern side of Belgium.) Director Robbe De Hert manages to create a realistic portrait of this particular atmosphere. It represents a world in which poor people have to work hard for little money. They work on the farm or in factories. People were very religious and went to church every Sunday wearing their best clothing. The father was a severe workingman; respected by his children and wife. If any of his children had said or done something wrong, they were to be punished. They were beaten and then they had to kneel on the floor facing the wall and praying for their sins.
But all this is just background information. The actual story is less dramatic. It's about an annoying little fellow who takes pleasure in doing wrong. There are certain rules in life everyone must obey, but he finds it amusing to bend or even break them whenever the opportunity knocks. In short: he has some serious trouble with discipline. Naturally, he is the main character of the film and goes by the name of 'De Witte van Sichem' (literally translated: 'The white-haired from Sichem').
Because of the many practical jokes and reckless pranks that endure throughout the entire film, 'De Witte' becomes more and more of a comedy than a drama. Before you even know it, you've forgotten about the dark side of the film. Instead, it is the main character that claims your full attention. This is still, beyond any doubt, Robbe De Hert's best film. He hasn't made too many good films, but this one is a Belgian classic. Also many good acting performances, but Eric Clerckx (as De Witte van Sichem) is 'picture perfect'.
All things considered 'De Witte' is an enjoyable film, although it is probably of no interest to foreigners as the spoken language is Flemish. And the use of this particular dialect in this film is too important to be replaced by any other language; this would only mess up the entire picture.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The film with the boring script
The second Bond film starring Roger Moore is not only the worst I've seen of the whole series, but it's also the total opposite of what a good James Bond-movie should be like. This film has only got one great scene: it's the car chase between James Bond and an American, annoying tourist on one hand and Scaramanga and his 'little' helper Nick Nack on the other hand. After this thrilling ride, the scene ends with the only yet amazing stunt in this picture. James Bond's car makes an incredible 360° spiral jump over a broken bridge. Unfortunately, this spectacular act was destroyed by a misplaced sound effect that gave you the idea that you were watching a Disney-picture.
The Karate-sequence is plain stupid and especially the part where the two girls fight a whole army of trained Karate-kids. The whole thing appears to come straight out of a B-movie for children. It's laughable and cheap. The rest of the film is nothing but a monotonous 'cat-and-mouse' game between James Bond and Scaramanga. And when you have waited more than an hour for these two rivals to actually fight each other, all you get is a huge let-down at the end. Rather than instantly killing Scaramanga when he got the chance, James Bond decides to first take a tour in his house.
And on top of all that, there are no cool baddies in this film. The little Nick Nack is a disturbing character that could have easily been left out and Scaramanga isn't half as bad as he wants to be. Although Christopher Lee did a fairly good job playing Frankenstein, Dracula and even the mummy in the 50's, he doesn't do too well in here. Of all the James Bond-performances by Roger Moore, I like this one the least. And the come-back of Q (who was clearly absent in both Sean Connery's first and Roger Moore's first Bond film: "Dr. No" and "Live and let die") cannot change anything about this.
I guess the only truly redeeming factor of this film are ... the beautiful women.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
... and so is James Bond!
"Diamonds are forever" is your typical James Bond-film: there's nothing spectacular which you haven't seen before. Still, it has some new ideas that work out pretty well. The car chase through the streets of Las Vegas is both thrilling and inventive and the same (perhaps even more since it's also very funny) goes for the moonbuggy chase.
Sean Connery proves (again) to be the absolute best Bond-actor of all time. With him this film also provides the usual amount of beautiful women, exceptional stunts done with unique-looking tools invented by Q and a few funny one-liners to spice up the script a bit. Typically Bond-films, there's also a small number of well-liked villains who all try to kill the same person; namely James Bond.
It's a good thing that Blofeld (who returns after his appearances in "You only live twice" and "On her Majesty's secret service") isn't the only baddie in this film, because that might have been somewhat boring. All he does is petting his cat and giving orders to kill people and those things don't make him a very interesting character. The actual killing is done by two goons who happen to be professional murderers and who truly give James Bond a hard time.
Despite the somewhat weak and chaotic fighting scene at the end of this film, we are treated with a lovely surprise when one thinks it's all over. The biggest let-down of "Diamonds are forever" is that there's absolutely no mentioning of James Bond's ex-wife Tracy who died in the previous movie. This film should have been about revenge; it should have been somewhat darker than usual. But instead, it seems as if James Bond has already forgotten about her. Therefore, I think this film is sometimes too optimistic.
Nevertheless, it's a good action-movie that proves (again) that they can make many more Bond-films like this. My favorite scene is still Sean Connery being demolished by those two sexy, female gymnasts. I guess James Bond expected a whole lot different when he first saw them.
Dr. No (1962)
Did I enjoy this film? The answer is hidden within the title
The very first James Bond film ever made isn't a bad one, but some scenes may seem a little lengthy while a few others can even be somewhat boring and unnecessary to the story. Many things in this picture tell that this is truly the first adaptation of one of Ian Fleming's great novels presenting the -at all times- classy, British secret agent 007 alias James Bond!
Despite the decent storyline and Sean Connery's flawless appearance as the best Bond-actor ever, "Dr. No" could have been a bit better. The whole film through, everything seemed so one-dimensional. There's hardly any action and this is not a very good thing, because James Bond movies have always been (and will always be) action-packed popcorn-pictures that have a little sense of romance and intrigue within them. In these particular films, the action is very essential since they cannot survive on their acting performances alone. I'm not saying that the acting in "Dr. No" is bad (check out Joseph Wiseman's enjoyable performance as Dr. No!), but one goes to see a Bond-movie because of the special effects and the stunts and the many action that comes with it. In second place, one can also show a little interest in some of the actors (especially the women!) and some of the weird-looking and evil characters who came and went throughout the whole James Bond-series.
Because of Desmond Llewelyn's absence as Q (he only first showed up in "From Russia with love"; the next Bond-movie), this film doesn't have any great-looking stunts whatsoever. To try and compensate this weak point, the script contains a few funny one-liners. The scene in which Dr. No and James Bond first meet is the best of the whole film. The ultimate fight between good and evil at the end of this film however is disappointing again.
"Dr. No" isn't a bad start for 007, because it set the standards for every other Bond-movie afterwards. But it misses the few important elements which would only be implemented later on. A funny, little detail is that Sean Connery's first words as James Bond (even before we get to see him) were: "Bond ... James Bond."
Another 48 Hrs. (1990)
Mind the word: another!
It's a good thing that director Walter Hill has waited 8 years before making a sequel of the original "48 hrs." If he had released this film immediately after the first one, it would have become a flop. The reason is because both films are very much alike. "Another 48 hrs." hasn't got anything new to offer; it's an almost exact copy of the first one. And that's precisely why they waited so long before making this sequel.
Nothing really changed actually. There's Nick Nolte who plays the same cigarette-smoking and alcohol-addicted tough-guy cop forced to team together with Eddy Murphy who takes up his part as the noisy, bad-mouth and know-it-all convict-character again. Just like in the first film, it's the chemistry between these two actors that makes "Another 48 hrs." really worth-watching. And just like in the first film, the only decent acting comes from Nick Nolte and Eddy Murphy while the rest of the cast is merely below average. Once more the action scenes are great to watch. This is a good thing, because it makes you forget about the weak script. The dialogues are funny, but they're overloaded again with harsh language. Some might find this annoying; I honestly thought it became funny after a while.
The ending is pretty weak and predictable, but on the whole "Another 48 hrs." is almost as good as its predecessor and good waste of time; not money.
48 Hrs. (1982)
The first of many 'buddy cop-movies'
At first sight, "48 hrs." may seem like your typical action movie in which two conflicting characters HAVE to work together in order to catch the bad guys ... and guess what? That's exactly what it is. The only difference here is that this film was the very first of its kind. Its unique style has been copied over and over again, but no film nor series has ever done a better job. Series such as "Miami Vice" and films such as "Rising sun", "Rush hour", "Beverly Hills cop" or "Lethal weapon" all contain the same obvious elements that this film came up with back in 1982.
The most satisfying thing about "48 hrs." is without a doubt the chemistry between Nick Nolte and Eddy Murphy. Nick Nolte is flawless as the rusty, tough-guy who's constantly smoking cigarettes in order to forget that he has a drinking problem. Eddy Murphy, on the other hand, is a hyper, non-stop babbling, know-it-all convict and as expected from someone like Eddy Murphy: before we even get a first glimpse of him, we already hear his voice loud and clear from a great distance. Eventually, it would be this very character that he would get to play several times over and over again. In "Trading places", "Beverly Hills cop", "Metro" and even as Buddy Love in "The nutty professor" or as the voice of Donkey in "Shrek"; all these characters share the same obvious characteristics. Come to think of it: Eddy Murphy is one of the very first Afro-American comedians; that is ... after Richard Pryor of course.
Although the acting performances of both Nick Nolte and Eddy Murphy are top-notch, not everything about "48 hrs." is that good. It's a pity that the film only has two interesting characters overshadowing the rest of the cast. And that goes for the acting as well. The storyline is pretty lame, but it's backed up by the great action scenes. And the dialogues CAN be funny if you don't mind the bad language that lasts throughout the entire picture.
All in all, this is an important action movie that has become a classic in its own right.
28 Days (2000)
A comic drama or a dramatic comedy?
What starts as a bittersweet comedy, quickly develops into a drama ... or semi-drama; for that matter. Because "28 days" never seems to know precisely what it wants to be: a comedy or a drama?
The film begins as an amusing comedy in which Sandra Bullock, drunk as she truly is, ruins her sister's wedding by falling over the cake and crashing the limousine in a nearby house. She's then given the choice of going to prison or joining a drug and alcohol rehab center. Although she chooses rehab, she's still very persistent ... only due to the fact that she refuses to admit she has a problem.
This is the moment where the film changes atmosphere and becomes somewhat gloomy and a lot more serious. Sandra Bullock's 'drunk and inconsiderate' character is very miserable now, but as time goes by she'll realize that this place is here to help her and that this is probably the only way to ever get a normal life again. Despite the drama of Sandra Bullock being locked away against her will, there are still a few jokes around the corner to keep the film from becoming too heavy.
As usual, Sandra Bullock is very amusing. She's got great personality and she plays her role beautifully. There are only a few people I can think of who can switch so easily from a comic to a dramatic performance and back again like she does. The only other actor worth mentioning is Steve Buscemi.
All in all "28 days" is pretty good, but it would have been better if it hadn't been so unstable.