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Weak and ineffective
Despite high production values, nice photography, unobtrusive direction, and a very expensive cast, this film bored me. As just pointed out, it had a lot going for it. But it did have Ben Affleck in the lead, never a favorite of mine, and he seemed even creepier than usual in this movie. Great job by Gwyneth Paltrow, who is also not personal favorite. She looked great as a brunette and totally exuded an "everywoman" vibe. Joe Morton and Johnny Galecki also turned nice work. But the chemistry between Affleck and Paltrow never really jelled, and the main plot payoff was weak and ineffective. I cannot really recommend this one.
Sexo con amor (2003)
A decent sex comedy
I thought that this was a decent sex comedy. I thought that Chile was a fairly conservative society, and though I obviously cannot make judgments based on a movie, it really seemed little different from the U. S. The photography of the unnamed Chilean city was fine. The plot was interesting, although it seemed awfully casual about the semi-incestuous encounter. It is hard to gauge an actor's performance when it is in a language not known to me, where I have to get the dialog from subtitles. But no one came across as bad, and I had to take note of Sigrid Alegria, who is stunning, playing the part of the young schoolteacher incongruously in love with the much older, toad-like parent of one of her students.
The Parole Officer (2001)
Okay old-fashioned crime caper
A decent and somewhat odd (as English movies tend to be) old-fashioned crime caper film. I was not familiar with most of the cast. Steve Coogan, the lead, is apparently a well known British comedian. His role is odd, nerdy and retiring at times, but crude and up-front at others. Omar Sharif and Jenny Agutter have small roles. Emma Williams put in a nice turn as the juvenile delinquent, fairly unsuccessful car thief. Lena Headey was gorgeous, as usual, as a policewoman. Nice location photography in Northern England. Aside from the more modern crude humor, this movie has the feel of one from the Sixties or Seventies. Nothing great, but overall, okay.
Noriega: God's Favorite (2000)
Good showing from Hoskins
This was a medium low budget, made for cable TV film. The emphasis and framing device are at least different from the usual "biopic". I cannot speak for the veracity of the film, although I do recall a fair amount of this stuff from when it was going on, particularly the invasion. The film glosses over the fact that it took a week or so to get Noriega to surrender from the papal nunciate, and that he negotiated a few small concessions in return. If the film was considered comedic, that largely escaped me. Interesting that johnnyb2000_ seems to think that the film would be more true to events if made by Oliver Stone! But he is correct that no one should try to get their history from a movie. Any movie. Bob Hoskins was odd casting for Noriega, but he seemed incapable of putting in a bad performance. Rosa Blasi was good as well. But overall, I can't really recommend this film.
Blue Crush (2002)
Formulaic, but well done
This was a very formulaic athletic/sports movie which hews closely to all of the genre's conventions. That said, however, it is all done pretty well. There were no real false notes on the acting, which means that the script had to be pretty decent, as even great actors can rarely overcome bad dialog. Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sanoe Lake also all looked very nice in swimwear. The cinematography had to be very challenging and looked great, even though surfing footage can be a bit monotonous, going all the way back to "Endless Summer". Interesting portrayal of the surf spots where a hundred or more surfers are competing for waves. There were some annoying rap "songs" on the soundtrack which detracted from the movie a bit.
Birthday Girl (2001)
Okay British film
It seemed at times that the filmmakers tried to downplay Nicole Kidman's beauty in this movie, but it shone through anyway. I like her look as a brunette. This film seems to have gotten a lot of criticism about it not fitting neatly into any genre. Why should it need to? The movie should do what it does, and then, if applicable, it can be pigeonholed by critics. I agree with a previous comment that this movie would likely not have worked if set in America. Not enough contrast, like there is here, between the boisterous Russians and the supremely uptight English. It must have been a lot of work for Kidman and the French actors to sound convincing in Russian (at least to a non-Russian speaker.) This film is okay.
Original Sin (2001)
Angelina Jolie shows herself to fine advantage
What to say about this film? Set in Cuba in the late 19th century (with steamships and trains, but before electricity and the war) the Mexican shooting locations look very good. Also looking very good is Angelina Jolie, before her current anorexia. She shows herself to fine advantage and looks lovely in the late Victorian dresses and hairstyles. She showed real acting chops as well in this movie. Antonio Banderas did a fine acting job as well in this period drama. They both have the photogenicity and charisma that makes a movie star. This film has a bit of an unlikely plot, complete with some holes. It also goes to show you about the wisdom (or lack thereof) in trusting a woman.
Attempt at Hitchcockian suspense
Decent acting from the child actors, Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin. M. Night Shyamalan played a small part himself, and did well. I can see why this film interested Mel Gibson, with the aspects of his character's faith journey. River Phoenix and the minor cast were all adequate. Despite plot holes, which most science-fiction films have, this film is largely Hitchcockian. Rather than concerning itself with explicit exposition, the main point, aside from the faith journey mentioned earlier, was the building of suspense, which requires things to be imagined, rather than shown. Some of this build-up was truly creepy. Overall it was okay.
Powerful plot twist
I thought this film was pretty good. Good work from the cast, unobtrusive direction, and the setting in Toronto, rather than the tiresome Los Angeles or New York. There was a really powerful plot twist about two-thirds through. I suppose many commentators say that they saw it coming, and perhaps they did. I do not spend much time in movies trying to guess what will happen next. I just let it flow over me, and it either works, or it doesn't. This one did. Good chemistry between Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried. Maybe not so much between Moore and Neeson. Apparently this was what Neeson was filming when he suffered his well-known personal tragedy, and that could not possibly have helped the film. But overall, it is worth checking out.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
A great deal like a video game
While you maybe can't quite call this one original, it WAS different. It is clearly evocative of "Groundhog Day' and "Star Trek" among others. It is also a great deal like a video game, where you get killed and have to start at the first level again over and over. The movie was very skilled in setting that tone, and then letting it go, just being understood, before that got boring. And, interestingly, it went the other way, too, where it became clear that Cage had been further into it than we have. There is plenty to mock about Tom Cruise, his diminutive stature, his loopy religion, etc., but he clearly has that "it" factor that makes him a movie star, and he is always easy to watch on-screen. I was quite impressed with Emily Blunt with whom I am unfamiliar.
If you like the science-fiction genre, you'll have to check this out.