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dr. gonzo

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The Dude abides., 27 May 2000
10/10

After the darkly surreal, snowswept landscapes of the Minnesota depicted in Fargo (1996), the Coen brothers have wisely opted for a different locale with The Big Lebowski. Set in Los Angeles (circa 1991 during the Persian Gulf War), this film tells a decidedly unconventional

tale about a man known as The Dude.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is a laid-back

kinda guy, an aging Hippie who spends his days drinking

White Russians, smoking pot, and bowling with his buddies. One day, this all changes when two thugs invade

his home, rough him up, and urinate on his rug. It seems

that they have The Dude confused with another Lebowski,

a rich millionaire whose young wife owes money all over

town.

Bummed at having his prized rug ruined, The Dude decides to contact the other Lebowski and in doing so becomes immersed in a very strange, convoluted plot that

involves nihilists, a kidnapping, Busby Berkley dream sequences, British performance artists, and bowling.

Sound a little strange? It's all par for the course with the

Coen brothers, a clever filmmaking duo that loves tweaking

existing genres to the point that they become something

very different and distinctly Coenesque.

This includes fully-realized characters, both major and

minor, that have their own unique habits and mannerisms.

Most films do not take the time to flesh out their respective

worlds or the characters that live in them but this is not the

case with the Coens.

The world that the Coens create in The Big Lebowski is

populated by a humourous and often bizarre collection of

characters that range from an obnoxiously narcissistic

bowler (John Turturro) to a feminist performance artist/painter of the British persuasion (Julianne Moore).

You would think that all of these wildly eccentric characters

would overshadow the main character, but they merely enhance the wonderful performance by Jeff Bridges, who is

the heart and soul of The Big Lebowski. He creates mannerisms and habits that flesh out his character perfectly. From the first time we see him, Bridges is The

Dude. And even though he is a down-and-out loser, there

is something undeniably likable about him, and this is due

in large part to Bridges' performance.

The Big Lebowski may not have the dramatic weight or substance of Fargo, but it has a distinctive charm uniquely

its own. Instead, the Coens have done what Robert Altman

did in the '70s with The Long Goodbye: use the hard-boiled

world of Raymond Chandler has a starting point to satirize

Los Angeles culture. Like Altman's film, The Big Lebowski

dispenses with conventional narrative in favour of atmosphere and colourful characters. The joy of this film is

in watching the entertaining diversions, subplots and minor

characters and how The Dude interacts with them all. You're not supposed to really care about what happens to

the convoluted storyline or how it is resolved. That is merely

window-dressing for the Coens to showcase this highly engaging world that they've created.

45 out of 56 people found the following review useful:
small, oddball little film with a definite, quirky, dark sense of humour and a cast of eccentric characters that are never colourful for the sake of it., 10 May 2000
9/10

I have to admit that when i first saw the trailer for this film, I thought, "Sweet Jesus, this looks a lot like Rushmore!" complete with a dishelved Michael Douglas doing the Bill Murray/Mr. Blume thing and Tobey Maguire as a rambunctious, upstart kid a la Max Fischer. Man, was I wrong. Wonder Boys is the kind of small, oddball little film with a definite, quirky, dark sense of humour and a cast of eccentric characters that are never colourful for the sake of it. Michael Douglas disappears completely into the role of Grady Tripp, a burnt out English professor, who once wrote a much celebrated novel but has since been having a hard time with his follow-up. He just keeps writing and writing with no end in sight (current page count sits around 2100 pages!). the film starts at the beginning of a truly hellish day for Tripp as his wife leaves him, his girlfriend tells him she's pregnant and he almost gets killed by her husband's blind dog. throw in an eccentric writing protege (Tobey Maguire), Tripp's bi-sexual literary agent (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his transvestite date, and you've got quite an interesting mix of characters. in some ways, Douglas' character is a pot-smoking burn-out like the Dude from THE BIG LEBOWSKI. he is content to live outside of society, putt around, write his novel, teaching his classes but when he crosses paths with Maguire's character, he realizes that he's got to change. Douglas is more than up for this role. i'm not a huge fan of the man's work (WALL STREET and THE GAME excepted) but he's perfectly cast in this film. he hits just the right note of world-weary cynicism but with a romantic streak buried underneath. you can tell that he's got the capacity to do something about his miserable lot in life and during the course of the film his character undergoes a fascinating arc. the real stand out of this film, though, is Tobey Maguire. i've only seen him in a few things, here and there and i never really noticed him all that much before (although, he was great in PLEASANTVILLE. everyone in the film keeps harping on what a genius writer Douglas' character is, but it quickly becomes apparent that Maguire's character is the true genius. he writes pages and pages of beautiful prose in minutes. and like any true talent, it just comes pouring out of him effortlessly. Maguire nails that kind of visionary talent perfectly. his character is so different from his peers and you are never sure what makes him tick, until 3/4 of the way through when another side of his intriguing personality is revealed. at first, you think his character is pretty one-dimensional -- the oddball genius -- but Maguire provides all sorts of layers and subtle nuances to his character that are great to watch. it doesn't hurt that Steve Kloves' script is a solid piece of writing. clever, insightful dialogue that tells you volumes about these characters. the dialogue is humourous and offbeat in one scene, touching and thoughtful in the next. Kloves also wisely avoids the usual cliches... ie. the romance between the older man and younger woman. just when you think it's going to go there, the film veers off to something different and better. every character has their moment to really define themselves with the possible exception of Katie Holmes who seems to be sorely underused. which is too bad, really, because the scenes she does have are good. it's nice to see that she can do more than just DAWSON'S CREEK. and lastly, the mood and atmosphere of this movie is so magical. to me, the best films are ones that you lose yourself in completely. the characters and the world they inhabit are so real, so three-dimensional that you can't help but get sucked in. WONDER BOYS does that so well. the attention to detail -- a snowy winter in Pittsburgh -- is beautiful realized. esp. the night time scenes, like one in which Douglas and Maguire talk outside in a backyard while the snow falls gently around them... are so well done, i felt like i was right there. and isn't that what a good film should do? make it able for you to escape for a couple of hours? hard to believe that the guy who made L.A. CONFIDENTIAL did this one. a complete change of pace and mood and... everything. amazing stuff. anyways, i reallly dug WONDER BOYS. it's the first film i've seen this year that has really affected me in a profoundly personal way. a film that as soon as it was over, i wanted to go right back in and watch it again.

a refreshingly honest and cliché-free romantic comedy., 10 May 2000
9/10

Have you ever spent hours organizing your record collection in chronological order and by genre? Have you

ever had heated debates with your friends about the merits

of a band who lost one of its founding members? Or argued about your top five favourite B-sides? If so, chances

are you will love High Fidelity, a film for and about characters obsessed with their favourite bands and music.

Rob Gordon (John Cusack) is an obsessed music junkie who owns a record store called Championship Vinyl. He has just broken up with Laura (Iben Hjejle), a long-time

girlfriend and the latest in a countless string of failed

relationships. Rob addresses us directly throughout the

film (just like Woody Allen did in his 1977 film, Annie Hall)

about this latest breakup and how his top five break-ups of

all-time inform his most recent one. It's a great way for

which Rob to try and come to terms with his shortcomings

and the reasons why his past relationships did not work

out. He is talking directly to us and in doing so we relate to

him and his dilemma a lot easier.

Along the way we meet a colourful assortment of characters, from his past girlfriends (that includes the

diverse likes of Lili Taylor and Catherine Zeta Jones) to his

co-workers at Championship Vinyl (Jack Black and Todd Louiso). They really flesh out the film to such a degree that I

felt like I was seeing aspects of my friends and myself in

these characters. Being a self-confessed obsessive type

when it comes to music and film, I could easily relate to

these people and their problems.

And that's why High Fidelity works so well for me. The

extremely funny and wryly observant script by D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, and John Cusack (the same team

behind the excellent Grosse Pointe Blank) not only zeroes

in on what it is to love something so passionately but why

other things (like relationships) often take a backseat as a

result. A girlfriend might not always be there for you, but

your favourite album or film will. A song will never judge you

or walk out on you and there is a kind of comfort in that.

The screenplay also makes some fantastic observations on how men view love and relationships. Throughout the

film Cusack's character delivers several monologues to us

about his thoughts on past love affairs, one of my favourite

being the top five things he liked about Laura. It's a

touching, hopelessly romantic speech that reminded me a

lot of Woody Allen's list of things to live for in Manhattan

(1979).

The screenplay works so well because not only it is well

written but it also features a solid ensemble cast. The role

of Rob Gordon is clearly tailor-made for John Cusack. Rob

contains all the trademarks of the kinds of characters he's

known for: the cynical, self-deprecating humour, the love of

‘80s music, and the inability to commit to the woman of his

dreams. Even though High Fidelity is not directed by Cusack, like Grosse Pointe Blank, it is clearly his film, right

down to the casting of friends in front of and behind the

camera (i.e. actors Tim Robbins, Lili Taylor, his sister

Joan, and screenwriters, D.V. DeVincentis and Steve Pink).

The rest of the cast is also fantastic, in particular, Jack

Black and Todd Louiso as the two guys who work at Championship Vinyl. Louiso's Dick is a shy, introverted guy

that you can imagine listening to The Smiths religiously,

while Black's Barry is a rude, annoying blowhard who says

everything you wish you could actually say in public. It's a

flashy, scene-stealing role that Black does to perfection.

And yet, his character isn't overused and only appears at

the right moments and for maximum comic effect. His sparing usage in High Fidelity made me want to see more

of him, which is why he works so well.

Even though the world and the characters in High Fidelity

are unashamedly of a rarified type: the obsessive music

geek or elitist, which some people may have trouble relating to, the film's conclusion suggests that there is

much more to life than one's all-consuming passion for

these things. It also helps to be passionate about someone. And that message is delivered in a refreshingly

honest and cliché-free fashion as it provides what is ultimately the humanist core of High Fidelity.

not a straight-forward supernatural thriller but rather showcases Polanski in a darkly humourous mood as he plays around with the conventions of this genre., 10 May 2000
8/10

Critical and commercial reaction to Roman Polanski's films has always been mixed at best. To say that his films are an acquired taste is an understatement. The Ninth Gate is no exception. Despite what the film's trailer would have you believe, Polanski's film is not a straight-forward supernatural thriller but rather showcases the auteur in a darkly humourous mood as he plays around with the conventions of this genre. Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is an unscrupulous book dealer whose motivation is purely for financial gain. He swindles a naïve couple from a set of rare and priceless books in an amusing scene that sets up his character beautifully. A very rich book collector (Frank Langella) who owns a copy of The Ninth Gate (a book reputedly co-written by Satan) hires Corso to validate the two other existing copies in the world. It seems like a simple enough task but as Corso soon finds out, someone doesn't want him to complete the job. He crosses paths with an odd assortment of characters, from a mysterious woman (Emmanuelle Seigner) who seems to help him in his quest, to another, more obviously evil, woman (Lena Olin) intent on impeding his progress and quite possibly killing him. While this rather standard, cliché-ridden story coupled with slow, deliberate pacing has turned off many, I felt that there was a method to Polanski's madness. The gradual pacing drew me into this engaging world. Perhaps it was the European setting but the film has an otherworldly atmosphere that I really enjoyed. The attention to detail and Darius Khondji's richly textured cinematography is exquisite and contributes a lot the overall mood of this vivid world. However, The Ninth Gate doesn't just have atmosphere going for it. Johnny Depp adds yet another intriguing character to his roster of unconventional roles. Corso is an unethical cheat who would do anything to make a buck. He really doesn't care about others and yet, despite all of his reprehensible qualities, Depp's natural charisma and charm makes him kind of endearing character that you care more about as he delves deeper into dangerous waters. As for the cliché aspects of the film, I was less concerned at anticipating plot twists and predictable elements in favour of simply enjoying the ride. I get the impression that Polanski was aware of this and decided to have fun with them. Balkan's "666" password, Corso's perchance for getting the crap kicked out of him, and the one-armed woman book dealer all contributed to a playful mood that punctuated the film whenever it ran dangerously close to getting pretentious or self-important. The Ninth Gate is a refreshing change from the trend of mundane Hollywood supernatural schlock (i.e. The Bone Collector, Stigmata, End of Days, et al.) that takes itself way too seriously and tries too hard. Unlike those films, The Ninth Gate never falls into that trap. It contains some truly vintage Polanski black humour that, alas, North American audiences don't seem to appreciate. They seem to want meat and potatoes filmmaking, which he has always resisted in favour of subversive thrills and following his own muse come hell or high water.

Fight Club (1999)
662 out of 883 people found the following review useful:
a dangerously brilliant film that entertains as well as enlightens., 10 May 2000
10/10

"Fight Club" an aggressive, confrontational, often brutal satire that is quite possibly a brilliant masterpiece. Taking the "Choose life," anti-consumerism rant at the beginning of "Trainspotting," and carrying it to its logical -- albeit extreme -- conclusion this is a big budget, mainstream film that takes a lot of risks by biting the hand that feeds it. The film's narrator (Edward Norton) is an insignificant cog in the drab, corporate machine, dutifully doing his job and what he's told without question. He's an insomniac slave to his IKEA possessions and only finds joy in going to as many self-help/dealing with terminal diseases sessions as he can. It provides him with an escape from his sleepless nights. That is, until Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), a trashy chain-smoking poser, enters his life and upsets his routine. The narrator also meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a charismatic soap salesman whose straightforward honesty, candor and sleazy lounge-lizard outfits are a breath of fresh air. One night, after the two men have bonded over beers, Tyler asks the narrator to hit him. At first, it seems like an absurd request but after they pound on each other for a bit, a strange feeling overcomes them. They feel a kind of release and satisfaction at inflicting pain on one another. In a world where people are desensitized to everything around them, the physical contact of fighting wakes them up and makes them feel truly alive. Others soon join in and pretty soon Fight Club becomes an underground sensation. However, it becomes readily apparent that Tyler has more elaborate plans than just organizing brawls at the local bar. David Fincher has taken the dark, pessimistic worldview of "Seven" and married it with the clever plot twists and turns of "The Game" and assembled his strongest effort to date. "Fight Club" is a $50+ million studio film that remains true to its anti-consumer, anti-society, anti-everything message -- right up to the last, sneaky subliminal frame. What makes "Fight Club" a subversive delight is not only its refreshing anti-corporate message but how it delivers said message. As Fincher has explained in interviews, you don't really watch the film but rather download it. Its structure is extremely playful as it messes around with linear time to an incredible degree. The narrative bounces back and forth all over the place like a novel, or surfing on the Internet -- even making a hilarious dead stop to draw attention to itself in a funny, interesting way that completely works. Yet Norton's deadpanned narration holds everything together and allows the viewer to get a handle on what's happening. This is the way films should be made. Why must we always have to go through the A+B+C formula? "Fight Club" openly rejects this tired, clearly outdated structure in favour of a stylized frenzy of jump cuts, freeze frames, slow motion and every other film technique in the book that only reinforces its anarchistic message. A film like this would have never been greenlighted by a major studio if Brad Pitt had not been attached to the project. Once you see the film, it becomes obvious that he was the only choice for Tyler Durden. Like he did with "Kalifornia" and "Twelve Monkeys", Pitt grunges himself down and disappears completely into his role to a frighteningly convincing degree. During many of the brutal fight scenes, he is transformed into a bloody, pulpy mess that'll surely have the "Legends of the Fall" fans running for the exits. It is an incredible performance -- probably his best -- for the simple fact that he becomes the character so completely. If Pitt has the flashy, gonzo role, Edward Norton is his perfect foil as the seemingly meek yet sardonic narrator. It's a deceptively understated performance as the last third of the film reveals but Norton nails it perfectly. He is clearly our surrogate, our introduction into this strange world and his wry observations on our consumer-obsessed culture are right on the money. They are the perfect setup for Tyler's introduction and his view on the world which is clearly a call to arms of sorts, a manifesto that rejects the notion that we are what we own. And ultimately, that is what "Fight Club" tries to do. The film is a cinematic punch to the head as it challenges the status quo and offers a wakeup call to people immersed in a materialistic world where those who have the most stuff, "win." I think that Fincher's film wants us to tear all that down, reject corporate monsters like Starbucks and Blockbuster, and try to figure out what we really want out of life. It's almost as if the film is suggesting salvation through self-destruction. And it is these thought-provoking ideas that makes "Fight Club" a dangerously brilliant film that entertains as well as enlightens.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
more to this film than snappy banter and a hip soundtrack..., 10 May 2000
10/10

"It's like seeing someone for the first time. You can be

passing on the street and you look at each other and for a

few seconds there's this kind of recognition. Like you both

know something, and the next moment the person's gone.

And it's too late to do anything about it. And you always

remember it because it was there and you let it go. And you

think to yourself, what if I stopped? What if I said something? What if?"

This bit of dialogue from "Out of Sight" perfectly captures

the essence of the relationships between characters in this

film. "Out of Sight" is about what ifs and what could have

beens. What the characters do and more importantly what

they don't do directly shapes their fate.

As the film begins, Jack Foley (George Clooney), an aging

career criminal, escapes from a Florida prison with the

help of his loyal accomplice Buddy (Ving Rhames). In the

heat of the moment, they kidnap a beautiful Federal Marshall named Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez). She and Jack are stuffed in the trunk of her car as the trio make a

hasty retreat. Trapped in such a small, confined space, the

two of them have nothing to do but engage in idle chitchat.

Even though they are on completely opposite sides of the

law there's a spark, an initial attraction that blossoms into

something more as the film progresses and their paths inevitably cross again.

And so begins one of the finest Elmore Leonard adaptations ever put to film. Where "Get Shorty" was a little

too goofy and "Jackie Brown" was a little too Tarantino,

director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Frank

achieve a perfect mix with "Out of Sight." The film is fast and

loose when it needs to be but knows when to slow it down

and savour the moment as well. The result is a smart, funny and stylish character-driven story.

It doesn't hurt that the film features two very attractive leads.

After a series of so-so films, George Clooney finally hits

paydirt with "Out of Sight." His style of acting is perfect for

this role as he plays Foley with the perfect amount of

laid-back charm. This is typified by his character's introduction -- the most pleasant, non-violent bank robbery

ever committed to film. Clooney has such a likable screen

presence that you just want to see his character succeed.

Conversely, Jennifer Lopez is his perfect foil as a smart,

tough law enforcement officer who can't help but fall in love

with this charismatic criminal. She is a very attractive

woman but not above wielding a shotgun to apprehend a fugitive.

There is a genuine chemistry between the two actors that

makes their romance work. And it is this relationship that

gives "Out of Sight" its depth. There is more to this film than

snappy banter and a hip soundtrack. It's a film about making choices and taking chances despite the sometimes inevitable, painful consequences. It is also an

entertaining look at a collection of colourful characters and

the exciting world they inhabit.

a wonderfully demented cinematic masterpiece, 9 November 1998
10/10

After more than 20 years of failed attempts and missed opportunities, Terry Gilliam has done what many thought impossible -- transformed Hunter S. Thompson's classic novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, into the cinematic equivalent of having a sledgehammer whacked across your frontal lobes. Thompson's book has been fully-realized and brought to the big screen in all of its demented glory.

It is 1971 and journalist Raoul Duke (Depp) and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo (Del Toro), drive to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race for Sports Illustrated magazine. The assignment is merely an excuse for the duo to abuse their expense account and indulge in a galaxy of drugs. What was initially a simple trip to cover a sports event mutates into a search for the American Dream.

Fear and Loathing contains many funny moments, bits of dialogue, and visual zingers as Duke and Dr. Gonzo make their way through the surreal landscape that is Las Vegas. The humour in this film is simultaneously disturbing and hilarious -- a pitch black satire of American culture and excess. Around the 3/4 way mark, Fear and Loathing veers off into really dark territory as the horror that accompanies chemical dependency rears its ugly head. I was worried that this element would be lost in the transfer from book to film in favour of a more straightforward comedy. Thankfully, the darker edge of the novel has been retained and reinforced. After all, their odyssey is supposed to be a savage journey into the heart of the American Dream.

I think that Fear and Loathing is indeed some kind of genius film, but in a really demented way that I would have a hard time explaining to someone who didn't tap into what Gilliam and Co. were trying to do. Visually, it is a masterpiece with a whacked out kaleidoscope of colours and insanely inventive camera angles and perspectives that make you feel like you're actually on drugs.

I can see why Fear and Loathing has received a critical shellacking from all the usual pundits (Ebert et al). It's a very odd film -- a 128 minute acid trip from beginning to end with no respite, no rest stops, no objective distance from which to view the whole insane picture safely. You are plunged headlong into this weird, wild world along with the characters.

This is the kind of film that people will either really love or hate -- there is no middle ground. Gilliam's film is going to be one of those movies that's destined to become an instant cult item. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a monster movie, complete with the grotesque Dr. Gonzo, a malevolent creature who gobbles up drugs and then goes on a chemical-induced rampage. It's pure gonzo filmmaking for people who like weird, challenging films. Otherwise, stay clear of this cinematic oddity for it is a truly bizarre and bleak film that chronicles the destructive effects of substance abuse.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Dude abides and so does this film., 9 November 1998
10/10

After the darkly surreal, snowswept landscapes of the Minnesota depicted in Fargo (1996), the Coen brothers have wisely opted for a different locale with The Big Lebowski. Set in Los Angeles (circa 1991 at the height of the Persian Gulf War), this effort from the inventive duo is a whimsical tale about a man known as The Dude.

Jeff `The Dude' Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is a laid-back kinda guy, an aging Hippie who spends his days drinking White Russians, smoking pot, and bowling with his buddies. One day, this all changes when two thugs invade his home, rough him up, and urinate on his rug. It seems that they have The Dude confused with another Lebowski, a rich millionaire whose young wife owes money all over town.

Bummed at having his prized rug ruined, The Dude decides to contact the other Lebowski and in doing so becomes immersed in a very strange, convoluted plot that involves nihilists, a kidnapping, Busby Berkley dream sequences, British performance artists, and bowling.

Sound a little strange? It's all par for the course with the Coen brothers, a clever filmmaking duo that loves tweaking existing genres to the point that they become something very different and distinctly Coenesque.

This includes fully-realized characters, both major and minor, that have their own unique habits and mannerisms. Most films do not take the time to flesh out their respective worlds or the characters that live in them but this is not the case with the Coens.

The Big Lebowski presents a world rich in detail and atmosphere and is subsequently populated by often a humourous and sometimes bizarre collection of characters that range from an obnoxiously narcissistic bowler named Jesus (John Turturro) to Walter Sobchak (John Goodman), The Dude's loyal bowling buddy who just happens to be a Vietnam vet with a short fuse.

The cast do a great job in supporting the main character, played wonderfully by Jeff Bridges. He creates mannerisms and habits that flesh out his character perfectly. From the first time we see him, Bridges is The Dude. And even though he is a down-and-out loser, there is something undeniably likable about him, and this is due in large part to Bridges' performance.

From start to finish, The Big Lebowski is an engaging comedy that is very entertaining and a lot of fun to watch. It is a visual feast for the eyes -- in particular, The Dude's dream sequences which are simultaneously hilarious and breathtaking. This is the Coens in top form.

The Big Lebowski may not have the dramatic weight or substance of Fargo, but it has a distinctive charm uniquely its own. The joy of this film is in watching all the entertaining diversions, subplots and minor characters and how The Dude interacts with them all. You are not supposed to really care about what happens to the convoluted storyline or how it is resolved. That is merely window-dressing for the Coens to showcase this highly engaging world they've created. The Big Lebowski is definitely worth the trip.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
action films don't get any nastier than this one..., 9 November 1998

"I had this period where I didn't think I was any good at anything and fought desperately to stay afloat." And with that feeling in mind, Shane Black wrote a movie that pushes the world-weary detective stereotype to new, surreal levels. Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) is a shamus hired by his best friend to protect a stripper. The best friend is subsequently blown up in a car and the stripper gunned down by thugs. Her washed-up football playing boyfriend (Damon Wayans) hooks up with Joe to find out whodunit and why.

Willis' performance and Black's screenplay combine to produce a portrait of a guy who is so down and out that our first glimpse is a shot of him passed out in his own car while being harassed by snotty neighbourhood kids. Throughout the whole movie, Willis delivers deadpanned one-liners while constantly getting the crap kicked out him. The Last Boy Scout is a guilty pleasure. It is mindless, formulaic, and particularly hateful towards women (and men as well) in spots with an uncompromisingly un-PC attitude that is very unusual in this day and age... and very funny. Action films don't get any nastier than this one.

memorable line: "Water's wet, the sky is blue, women have secrets... who gives a f***?"

Rushmore (1998)
a cinematic original, 22 September 1998

Wes Anderson's second film is an oddly original coming-of-age story about an eccentric teenager named Max (Jason Schwartzman) who ambitiously participates in almost every extra-curricular activity at Rushmore Private School. However, all of these clubs cause his grades to suffer and threaten his existence at the school. His life begins to change upon meeting two people: a rich businessman (Bill Murray) and a beautiful school teacher (Olivia Williams). Max befriends the former and develops an obsessive crush on the latter.

Rushmore is a very funny and refreshing inventive new spin on the coming-of-age genre. Max's world and the people that populate it are quite original -- esp. Max who is a creative, albeit misguided genius who is able to adapt the Al Pacino film, Serpico into a high school play. Jason Schwartzman does an incredible job of transforming Max into something more than a goofy caricature. His performance runs the whole spectrum of emotions -- an incredible achievement for his debut film role. He even holds his own against a veteran like Bill Murray, whose appearance in this film is a surprising revelation. Murray never mugs for the camera but instead creates a very subtle, nuanced performance that is hilarious and also quite tragic at times.

Rushmore is truly a unique film that is a quantum leap from Anderson's debut film, Bottle Rocket (1996). With a killer soundtrack of obscure '60s British Invasion rock 'n' roll music, Rushmore is an entertaining look at a fascinating world and the characters that inhabit it. It's touching without being too sappy and funny without being too obvious.

Brilliant stuff.


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