Reviews written by registered user
|44 reviews in total|
If you like the jargon and swagger of "Guys & Dolls," you should enjoy "Bloodhounds of Broadway," another collection of Damon Runyon stories pieces together to make an ensemble film, without quite as much music. This one unfolds much like a three-act play. The first act takes place during the day on December 31, 1928. The second rings in the New Year and the third shows our characters meeting their (mostly) happy endings the next morning. The fact that 1929 will not be universally kind to all of them adds a bittersweet note to the final frames. Madonna has a small role, and it's not her finest performance, but saddled with the clichéd "showgirl with a heart of gold" character, she does well, and her final moments with co-star Randy Quaid are charming. Quaid himself gives a marvelous performance, as does Julie Hagerty as a "society dame" who'd rather be a gun moll, and Rutger Hauer as a dying gangster in an effective and underplayed morality story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved this movie. Johnny Depp was a wonderful J.M. Barrie. If his
performance hadn't been so genuine and heartfelt, he'd be receiving
lots of kudos for his mastery of the Scottish accent -- but a real
emotional performance always overshadows technical skill. Kate Winslet
was also fantastic, as Barrie's platonic friend and mother to four
Radha Mitchell and Julie Christie has less to do in fairly one-dimensional roles, but both are able to surprise you in their respective final scenes of the picture.
But it's the final-final scene that will slay you. Without "giving it away," I'll simply say this: If you don't cry at the end of this movie, you're not human. Either that, or you've had your tear ducts surgically removed.
I was immovable during the final scene of "Finding Neverland," rendered helpless and unable to get up from my seat until I had composed myself after the final credits had finished rolling.
Definitely see this film. But bring a tissue. Or three.
Anyone who enjoys the catty, female-driven movies of old (All About
Eve, The Women, et. al.) and bemoans the idea that they don't make 'em
like they used to should see "Being Julia." Annette Bening is at her
best when she's *not* playing saints, and while Julia isn't nearly as
awful as the roles she played in "The Grifters" or "American Beauty,"
she's wicked enough to delight throughout (and vulnerable enough to
Most of the reviews and award nominations associated with this film will likely heap loads of praise on Annette Bening and little else. She is in nearly every scene, so it's hard to separate her performance from anything else -- and while she is brilliant; the story, direction, costumes, cinematography, art direction, and supporting performances are equally worthy of praise.
Every once in a while, they make one like they used to.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"You got your Christ on?"
(Possible spoilers ahead)
This movie made me howl with laughter. Tears were literally streaming down my face. In the interest of fair and accurate reporting, I was in a full theatre, and my friend and I seemed to be the only ones getting the jokes (or the only ones not the least bit offended by them) -- so perhaps this movie isn't for everyone.
What I enjoyed most was obviously the humor. What I APPRECIATED most was how balanced it was. Yes, the most likeable characters (Roland and Cassandra) were not Christian (agnostic and Jewish, respectively). But characters like Patrick and Mary (and even Dean) WERE, and they kept hold of their faith throughout. The movie wasn't an attack on Christians or Christian education, but rather an attack on Christian hypocrisy. Patrick, Mary, and Dean eventually learn how to believe AND treat people well, while Hilary Faye and Pastor Skip still have a ways to go on that score when the film ends. To me, the message wasn't: Christian people are bad -- only the ones who do mean things and use God to justify their anti-social behavior... and while the film certainly doesn't strive to be political, I couldn't help thinking, "George W. Bush, anyone?"
A movie that makes me convulse with laughter and then gives my friends and I something to talk about on the ride home -- you can't ask for much more than that ...
It seems that all of the "gay" dramas created in the 80s and 90s focused on either coming out or AIDS, to the point where gay audiences have seen way too many of these films and are more than ready for something else: would a romantic comedy be too much to ask? A crime caper? Anything??!! However... even if this is your mindset, "Andre's Mother" is worth your time. AIDS is a significant subplot, but the heart of the film is the rocky relationship between Andre's conservative mother and his lover, Cal. Andre himself is never seen; as such, he achieves an almost saintly presence in the film -- everyone seems to adore him. But in this movie, it works. All that Andre's mother and Andre's lover have in common is their unconditional love for the same man. The central question of the film is: is that enough? The performances are stellar and the writing is both spare and profound. Is this film availble to buy or rent? I'm not sure, but ... if you can, you should.
If you rent "21 Grams" (and I think you should), know that it won't make any sense at all until about 40 minutes into the film (a half hour if you're really sharp). Don't worry about it -- just watch the scenes as they unfold, and wait for it all to crystallize. Theatre plays have been bopping around chronologically for some time. "Pulp Fiction" was the first mainstream film that I ever saw that was presented out of chronological sequence -- but "21 Grams" takes the practice to a whole new level. And yet... if you give it enough time ... it all works. It's a gritty story that gets really ugly at times. Naomi Watts and Benecio Del Toro were nominated for Oscars for more-than-deserving performances. Sean Penn won an Oscar in 2004 for "Mystic River" but probably should have won it for this movie instead. Melissa Leo gives an expert performance as Del Toro's wife (in a perfect world, she would have been nominated as well); Charlotte Gainsbourg is slightly less effective as Penn's wife, partly because the character and her motivations are so inscrutable. Clea DuVall ("Carnivale") and Tony-Award winner Denis O'Hare ("Take Me Out") have small, supporting roles.
I rented "Pieces of April" after Patricia Clarkson was nominated for an Oscar for her role in this movie, as a terminally ill mother traveling to New York City to celebrate Thanksgiving with her troubled, estranged daughter. This movie proves that you can make a comedy about anything -- even that. "Pieces of April" is essentially two movies happening simultaneously. One movie is about April (Katie Holmes) and Bobby (Derek Luke), an interracial pair of lovebirds preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged family in the Lower East Side, with the assistance of just about everyone in their apartment building. The other movie is about the family (Oliver Platt, Patricia Clarkson, Alison Pill, Alice Drummond, and John Gallagher Jr.) as they travel from suburbia (Connecticut? New Jersey?) to the city, all the while doubting the wisdom and necessity of such a trip, never saying but always knowing that this is likely to be Mom's last Thanksgiving. The only false note in the entire film is that a bad dye job wasn't enough to convince me that Katie Holmes was anyone's monster child. She has such a sweet, vulnerable face that it was hard to believe that this was the girl that her mother feared so much. But the movie has so many strong points (beautiful performances, a spare script that says volumes with minimal dialogue and/or silence, and a great menagerie of characters you've never seen in the same movie before). If nothing else, Patricia Clarkson's acerbic mother is more than worth the price of a rental.
"Victim" is probably the first mainstream film on either side of the Atlantic to feature a gay hero. Granted, Dirk Bogarde plays a married closet case who hasn't actually engaged in a homosexual act in many years. Nonetheless, it's fairly amazing that, given what we know about attitudes toward gay people in the 1950's that a film this affirming of gay rights could have been made in 1961. It's a movie that's much more about "gay" as an identity than it is about sexuality; it centers on a blackmail ring that includes our closeted hero, a star of the London theatre, a lonely old barber, a Rolls-Royce salesman, and others. As a group, the gay men are intermittently desperate, proud, accepting, self-loathing, and scared -- which said more to me about 1961 than it said about gay men. The title is interesting to me; it seems that the journey of Bogarde's character seems to be the road out of victimization and toward (if this isn't too corny) self-actualization. It's a mildly entertaining movie, but a fascinating historical artifact.
"X2" is a great action movie sequel (with a brain) that easily surpasses
What makes the movie such a treat (for me) is all of the sociopolitical commentary it makes with regard to diversity issues. The "mutant experimentation" in the film is eerily reminiscent of what you might see at the Holocaust Museum, and when Bobby Drake (Iceman) tells his unknowing parents of his mutation, it's a "coming out" scene that any gay or lesbian audience member can identify with.
Yes, the movie kicks ass -- but at its heart, it's a plea for tolerance in disguise as an action movie. Five stars.
I saw this last night, and just loved it. For those who require neat and
clean stories with a single throughline, you might not enjoy it -- this film
is more like a play by Chekhov than your usual summer movie
But like Chekhov, it gets you to care about it's myriad characters even if it never quite approves of them. Gwyneth Paltrow, Phoebe Cates, Mina Badie, Michael Panes, Jane Adams, Jennifer Beals, John Benjamin Hickey, John C. Reilly, and Cumming & Leigh themselves are all fantastic. And some of the one-liners are priceless.
Granted, my tastes are a bit left of center, but this movie is my favorite (so far) of 2001 -- possibly the best movie I've seen since You Can Count On Me.
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