Reviews written by registered user
J_Trex

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84 reviews in total 
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Valkyrie (2008)
168 out of 227 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Historical Drama, 27 December 2008
8/10

It was curious timing to release this film on Christmas Day. As David Letterman quipped on last night's monologue: "Nothing says Holidays like a good Nazi death plot".

Release timing not withstanding, this is a very powerful movie and by all accounts comports with the historical record. There was little embellishment for dramatic effect here. Hitler murder conspiracy dramas are abundant in Hollywood, but this one actually happened and was nearly successful. The story is riveting, and even though the outcome was already known (at least to anyone who had a rudimentary knowledge of WWII), the excitement level was sustained by not really knowing the precise timing of events or, more importantly, who would be spared in the end.

Tom Cruise was very good in the lead role as the chief conspirator (Col. von Stauffenberg). The rest of the cast was first rate, including Tom Wilkinson as Gen'l Fromm, a Nazi head honcho who was playing both sides of the fence, and many other notable actors, such as Kenneth Branagh and Terence Stamp, all excellent.

For fans of "Downfall", the German film documenting Hitler's final week in the bunker (one of the all time great WWII films and #75 on the IMDb top 250), there were two actors from that movie playing in this one. Thomas Kretschmann and Christian Berkel both were key figures in "Downfall" had supporting roles in this film.

For people with an interest in WWII or history in general, this is one film worth checking out.

The Road (2009/I)
164 out of 239 people found the following review useful:
Outstanding Adaptation, 25 November 2009
10/10

I read Cormac McCarthy's novel a few years ago & figured it would be made into a movie (this was when "No Country for Old Men" was playing) but I wondered how they could make this extremely grim tale into something that people would want to see.

This film was every bit as grim as the novel and it seemed to be a faithful adaptation of it. The characters seemed more believable in the film than in the novel. This is probably due to the medium but Viggio Mortenson did a fabulous job as the Protagonist (the unnamed father) and his son was also great. They both were tremendous and brought a lot of character development and engagement to an otherwise totally bleak story.

I loved Robert Duvall's turn as the grizzled survivor. It was a supporting role sure to win an Oscar nomination. I think this will win more than its share of Oscar nominations, for Viggio at the very least.

Great film, go check it out.

108 out of 151 people found the following review useful:
Fresh & Original Romantic Comedy, 10 August 2009
9/10

This was an excellent romantic comedy, although many might not agree that it is either romantic or a comedy. I found myself laughing out loud at many of the scenes, but the laughs in the theater were few, and I think most people would label this a drama with streaks of black comedy.

The driving force behind what makes this movie work (beside the script) is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom Hansen, who carries the movie on the basis of his physical comedy and acting ability. He is the unrequited love interest in the film. JGL does have brief glimpses of true love with Summer (Zooey Deschanel) but it's clear she's not interested in anything permanent, just a good time. After his initial sexual encounter with Summer, JGL engaged in a choreographed dance routine of Hall & Oats "Your Making my Dreams Come True", which should win JGL some type of award.

Deschanel plays the role she usually plays, soulful & pretty free spirit. She played the character very well and the movie viewer could well understand her reticence to engage in a long term affair with Tom.

These types of movies might leave some cold, but the ending turned out well.

One additional bonus was Chloe Moritz, who played Tom's younger teenage sister and Psycho-Analyst. She was great.

A very good movie worth checking out. A near perfect date movie I might add.

66 out of 76 people found the following review useful:
30's Screwball Comedy Classic, 18 March 2008
8/10

This reminded me of something that Irene Dunne or Norma Shearer would have starred in as Delysia, with Cary Grant playing the love interest, Michael. The cast was excellent. Frances McDormand in the title role was outstanding. Ciaran Hinds (Julius Ceaser from HBO's "Rome") was great. The screenplay was first-rate. The cinematography was perfect, capturing pre-WWII London flawlessly.

What really made the movie standout was Amy Adams as Delysia. She truly shined in her role. She has quickly become among the top tier female actors in Hollywood. She has great acting range in both comic and dramatic roles, and she can sing. She's got it all. Her love interest in the film, Lee Pace, was also very good. They had the type of chemistry that worked so well in the best 1930's screwball comedies with Cary Grant & Irene Dunne, among others.

This is a very good movie, well directed, written, & acted. I would recommend this movie to anyone in the mood for a good romantic comedy.

138 out of 225 people found the following review useful:
Bullock's Masterpiece, 27 November 2009
10/10

I don't think I've seen a Bullock movie since "Speed" that didn't leave me watching my cell phone for the time. Her movies have been pretty awful and worth skipping. Not this one. The story received a lot of press and one has to give her much credit for snapping up the rights to it. She also did a fabulous job as the heroine. I was simply amazed. It was really one of the most amazing career rehabilitations since Travolta in "Pulp Fiction".

I loved the story. It is a genuinely heartwarming tale of an abandoned teenager adopted by a wealthy family and guided to success. And it's all true. This is what make me love movies. What a great film! Go see this movie. I loved it and so will you.

52 out of 64 people found the following review useful:
Indie Film Perfection, 10 October 2009
10/10

Just saw this at the Ritz East. There wasn't much else playing & this had an 8.1 rating on IMDb so I thought I'd check it out. My instincts were well rewarded because this was one of the best movies I've seen. It was a very well constructed film detailing the relationship of the Romantic poet John Keats with his lover Fanny Brawne, as well as Keats' relationship with his friend and patron Charles Brown.

The actors were relatively unknown to me. I'm pretty sure I've seen Paul Schneider, who played Charles Brown, in other films. But Abbie Cornish, who played Fanny, and Ben Whishaw, who played Keats, are new to me. They were great. I can't imagine anyone doing a better job.

Jane Campion, the Director, brought the period to life. And the character development was outstanding. The viewer really felt a connection to the characters in the film, even minor characters, like Fanny's mother & siblings, were highly engaging. Fanny's younger sister was the most adorable little girl in film since Gretl in "The Sound of Music".

The music and mood of the movie fit the period and subject perfectly. I was mesmerized from the beginning to the end of this great film. I think I'll go back and see it again. It was that good.

The movie ended, while the credits rolled, with Whishaw reciting "Ode to a Nightingale" set to classical music. The audience stayed up until the last credit rolled. It was a nice touch to finish the movie with.

This movie will likely be the definitive film about Romantic poets. Maybe Campion will direct a movie about Byron in Greece or Shelley in Italy. One thing is for sure, she set the bar pretty high with "Bright Star".

Surrogates (2009)
76 out of 112 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Sci-Fi Flick with Great Action Sequences, 28 September 2009
8/10

This film was an interesting twist on the robot as human concept, with a plot that managed to keep the viewer interested right up until the dramatic ending. A high tech company has specialized in mass producing surrogates, or personal robots, which are sold to the American middle class. They are quickly adopted to perform routine functions and then essentially perform high level functions (like one's job). The main theme was how the surrogates assumed people's lives and identities to such an extent the flesh & blood owner of the surrogate could stay home and presumably pursue higher level interests. The reality was most people simply fell into a spiritual stupor, resorting to alcohol or drugs to pass their time.

The actors were all very good and up to the task of portraying themselves in robotic fashion (this doesn't require great acting skill but the screenplay was quite good). I thought Bruce Willis did a good job in the lead role(s) as FBI Agent Tom Geer (he also played his "surrogate" as a very low key robot). Bruce's surrogate is investigating the death of the son of the founder of the corporation that invented and produced the surrogates. This kicked off the main plot, which centered around an armed resistance group opposed to surrogates and attempting to defeat the surrogates and the corporation that produced them.

If the plot sounds confused, at times it is, and the ending may be less than satisfying. But for a far fetched sci-fi movie about robots, this was one of the better ones I've seen.

47 out of 55 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Historical Drama, 3 March 2010
9/10

This was an excellent historical film based on the relationship between Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) and his wife, Sofya (Helen Mirren), during Tolstoy's final years. The film also explores Tolstoy's relationship with his Assistant, Valentin (James McAvoy) and his cabal of acolytes, lead by Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti). The main tension comes between Vladimir, who wants Tolstoy to bequeath his copyrights to "The Russian People" and Sofya, who naturally would like the copyrights reserved for herself and family.

Mirren earned an Oscar nomination for Lead Actress and Plummer received one for Supporting Actor. I believe both were well earned. I liked the performance from the entire cast, particularly McAvoy as the adoring Assistant to Tolstoy. The screenplay was excellent and the Director, Michael Hoffman, did an outstanding job bringing pre-Communist Russia to life. The time period is 1910 and the cinematography beautifully captured the era. During the closing credits, actual film of Tolstoy and his Wife was run, underscoring what a great job the Director did in filming this.

A great movie and well worth seeing or renting.

Yes Man (2008)
59 out of 80 people found the following review useful:
Funnyman Jim Carrey Returns, 21 December 2008
7/10

After seeing "The Number 23" I was beginning to wonder if Jim Carrey had renounced his trademark physical comedy roles he played to such great effect in "Bruce Almighty", "Liar, Liar", "Dumb & Dumber", etc.

Carrey is back in form with "Yes Man". While the plot was lacking and somewhat formulaic, it was fun to watch the best physical comedy talent of our generation doing what he does best for two hours. Zooey Deschanel was good as the love interest (and she did a nice job singing to).

If you liked Carrey's earlier works, you'll find plenty to like in this movie. I hope Carrey keeps on doing these comedies. It's what he was born to do.

39 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Jeremiad of a Soon Lost Treasure, 25 March 2010
10/10

I've lived in the Philly area my entire life & followed the Barnes Foundation saga from the very beginning until its tawdry denouement and I don't understand some of the bizarre postings above.

No doubt the filmmakers had an agenda, which was that the Barnes should stay in Merion but the power brokers in Harrisburg and Philly colluded to drive it into the ground to force the move to the BF Parkway, which was entirely at odds with Dr. Barnes Last Will & Testament.

This was pretty convincingly driven home by the movie.

The collection isn't invitation only, you simply request a timed ticket on their website and you're in. The entrance fee is a reasonable $15 and the museum housing the collection is truly world class, on par with the Villa Borghese in Rome or the Frick in Manhatten, only better. It is truly one of a kind, one of the treasures of the art world.

It's true that the Barnes was mismanaged by Richard Glanton, the President of the Trustees, during the 1990's. His lawsuit against the Merion Neighbors Association was as disastrous as it was idiotic. But that was no excuse to move the whole operation to the Parkway. It seems it would have been quite easy to raise the money to keep it at Merion.

Who cares if the number of eyeballs weren't maximized? It was never intended to be run that way. And after Episcopal Academy moved away from it's previous City Line Ave location, an entrance from Route 1 (City Line Ave) could have easily been paved (Episcocal even offered to donate the land to make it happen, a fact oddly not mentioned in the film). This would have entirely eliminated the neighbors complaints. However, those talks went nowhere (did the power brokers intervene to squash that also?) Saint Joseph's University ended up buying the entire Episcopel property. I have no doubt SJU would have been more than willing to work something out with a treasure like the Barnes. Having a world renowned art institution as a neighbor would be woth that much, at least.

The question arises, "what would Barnes think of the move?". He despised the stuffy, Republican WASPs that ran Philadelphia and who looked down their noses at the upstart Barnes and his post impressionist art. He left control in his will to the downtrodden African Americans who ran Lincoln University, as a way to "stick it" to the powers that be. But now that those outsiders are actually the insiders, and helped engineer the move to the Parkway, would Barnes object? Who really knows.

In any event, I thought the documentary was great & recommend it highly.


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