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54 reviews in total 
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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Worth seeing for Paul Muni alone..., 30 March 2008

Paul Muni was an actor who was way ahead of his time. Who else could have played Louis Pasteur, Emile Zola, and a gangster, all with perfect accents, inflections, and facial expressions? His kind of acting was so way ahead of his time - most actors in the 1930s and 1940s were typecast into roles that didn't allow them to play a variety of characters. But not Paul Muni. Most actors in the 1930s and 1940s did NOT do accents, even though by today's standards, we consider this a requirement - but not Paul Muni.

Having just watched "The Life of Emile Zola", Here his portrayal of Eddie Kagel blew me away. The movie itself is slight, and has some humorous moments. But Paul Muni's performance raises it above the rest.

9 out of 150 people found the following review useful:
Sleep inducing, 1 February 2008

The animation in this re-imagining of Peter & the Wolf is excellent, but at 29 minutes, the film is sleep inducing. They should have called it "Peter & the Snails", because everything moves at a snail's pace. I couldn't even watch the film in one sitting - I had to watch it 15 minutes at a time, and it was pure torture.

Save yourself 30 minutes - do not watch this film - and you will thank me.

I can only guess that the Oscar nominating committee only watched the first few minutes of the nominees. Unfortunately, to vote for the winner in the Best Animated Short (short!) category, the voters will have to sit through the whole thing. I already feel sorry for them - and must predict that there's no way this film will come close to winning.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
7 out of 10, but for Harry Potter fans only, 19 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm giving this a 7 out of 10, and that is generous - and I do this to say that Harry Potter fans will need to see this (I assume they will see all the films) but others (casual fans, people who are just looking for a random film to see) will not understand nor like this film.

I will second what most of the critical pans of this film say, and that's that a lot of the book's important plot and themes were glossed over in favor of trying to cover too much in too little time. Even at 2:40, the movie definitely dragged, and yet they try to capture key plot points in 5 seconds at best. It seemed that they filmed a lot more than was shown, and edited out everything that seemed not 100% necessary to explain what was happening. However, adding a line here or there COULD have explained enough to the casual fan. For example, why not say that the Weasley Twins decided to quit school and go into business? That's one line of dialogue - and it would help explain why they would risk expulsion by flying through the OWL exam room making fireworks.

In the book, Harry getting kicked out of Hogwarts was a BIG DEAL. That's his ENTIRE LIFE - yes, it's a big deal. In the film, he's mildly upset, and quickly gets voted back in. In the book, Umbridge takes each teacher, one by one, to task and humiliates them in front of their own classes. In the film, she speaks one line in each class, and we're supposed to see that as bad behavior.

Very disappointing. How Yates gets the next HP movie before this one was even released is beyond me. Perhaps he learned something from this one, however, and the next one will be better.

3 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Crying out for a remake..., 16 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film has good intentions, and as an anti-war film in 1957, I'm sure it was groundbreaking. However, in 2007, it doesn't hold up. Stanley Kubrick is a genius and one of my favorite directors. So what's the problem? Simply put - the accents of the actors. American actors, a lot of them from New York, are playing French soldiers in World War I. I just can't get past their wooden and sometimes unintentionally funny delivery of lines - "Youse don' understand, faddah, I don' wanna die!".

If this movie were made today, not only would they cast French actors, but it's likely it would be in French with subtitles, even if it were made by a US studio. Even casting British actors would have been better; somehow it's easier for us Americans to accept British accents for French, Romans, and all sorts of other nationalities.

It's unfortunate because I can see that the direction, cinematography, screenplay, and all the rest are top-notch. But the film as a whole failed me.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Extremely disappointing, 15 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Pirates 2 is an extremely overlong, disappointing mess of a movie. It's about 1 hour too long. At 90 minutes, this film could have been very good. The effects are good, the makeup is outstanding, but there is no story to speak of. The acting is passable, saved mostly by Keira Knightly who, like in the first film, acts everyone off the screen.

I didn't stay for the "extra scene after the credits" - I was already exhausted by the film. The ending was disappointing - even though I knew there was a twist coming, I didn't know what. My idea for a BETTER twist (and what I thought was actually coming) is to have Tia Dalma say that SHE will captain the ship that will go to find Jack. THEN you'd have me lining up for Pirates 3 tickets. As it stands now, with an old retreaded character promising to appear in Pirates 3, I am finished with this series for good.

Save your money and see it on DVD if you must.

1941 (1979)
20 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever, 8 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Steven Spielberg is my favorite director, but clearly "1941" is his worst film. It would be any director's worst film, and is quite possibly the worst film I have ever seen (and I've seen a lot of them). If I could give it 0 out of 10, I would, but IMDb forces me to give it at least a 1. I couldn't possibly check off "contains spoiler" because there is no plot to spoil!

Basically, here's the formula: take a bunch of TV actors (John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Joe Flaherty, Lenny & Squiggy, Wendy Jo Sperber, Robert Stack, etc.), lose the script because there's no need for any plot or character development, and even though it's a comedy, you don't need any jokes - just blow something up with really expensive special effects or have things crash around the actors when you want to make people laugh.

Frankly I really don't see how this even got past the concept phase. Someone somewhere was afraid to say "No." I am writing this review only to warn people out there - DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WATCHING THIS MOVIE! I watched it through to completion (albeit having to read a magazine to keep my sanity during the last half-hour) only because I love Steven Spielberg and wanted to see every one of his films.

You have been warned.

7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Good acting but generally overrated, 16 January 2005

I wanted to like this movie, especially since I am a fan of Clint Eastwood as a director and Hilary Swank as an actress. The previews didn't interest me at all - but the almost universal praise heaped on this film did make me want to see it.

I agree with the reviewer who said the film felt "scripted" - not only that, but watching scenes (near the beginning) with Clint and Morgan were like watching people "act" and "play the scene". Hilary Swank saves the day with her performance, believable and truthful. Clint's work later in the film is exemplary. Morgan Freeman is, well, Morgan Freeman, and here he plays simply a variation on his "Driving Miss Daisy" character, mumbling through some scenes making his words incomprehensible.

I didn't feel an emotional connection to this film at all - I don't see it as "Clint's masterpiece" at all - "Mystic River" is a far superior film, which had me extremely emotionally involved. The Morgan Freeman voice-over really got on my nerves very early on. I am not a fan of voice-over - I believe it's an easy way out of explaining things rather than SHOWING them.

I can't understand all the hype about MDB - I really can't. I give it (a very generous) 7 out of 10.

Troy (2004)
1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

This movie is so bad that I kept looking for the little guys at the bottom of the screen, for I was sure I was watching an episode of "Mystery Science Theatre 3000".

I cannot begin to describe everything that is wrong with this film. Others have already done so many times over. Please read Roger Ebert's review - he nails it on the head but is still much too kind. This movie is boring, too long, and has virtually no redeeming qualities.

I NEVER walk out of movies, no matter how bad they are. Last night, while watching "Troy", I was tempted. In fact, the desperation, confusion, and uncertainty in my trying to decide whether to leave at about the 45-minute mark was more moving and involving than anything in the film! Alas, I stayed, and hence lost 2:40 of my life and $7 of my money (I used a pass).

Never mind whether ancient Greeks should be introspective (although if you believe in anything Julian Jaynes said, they probably even COULDN'T do so), this entire production was a waste of time. I can't even imagine anyone watching the dailies and thinking, "yes, that's good". This movie makes "Gladiator" look like the best movie ever made, simply because it succeeded in bringing an ancient civilization to life. After watching "Troy", you will have no clue as to what life was like in ancient Greece.

Brad Pitt and Eric Bana do a decent job with what they are given. The young woman playing Achilles' Trojan "love-slave" (I forget her name) gives perhaps the only really great performance in this movie. Peter O'Toole thinks that going bug-eyed somehow conveys some emotion, and Julie Christie is virtually unrecognizable. The woman playing Helen of Troy is not nearly beautiful enough and is a terrible actress.

Save your money. Save your time. PLEASE - you are now warned as I was not fortunate enough to be. Rating: 4 out of 10.

Lots of homages to other films..., 11 June 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Instead of reviewing this movie, I thought I'd mention that it is chock full of scenes featuring homages to previous films. For some reason, none of these are listed in the "Movie Connections" section of iMDB. Here are the ones I noticed (*** possible spoilers ***):

"Close Encounters..." - floor cleaner opening door with bright light behind it

"Titanic" - going downstairs to use the payphone in a flooded hallway

"Poseidon Adventure" - guy hanging into shopping mall and ultimately falling

"Planet of the Apes" - top half of Statue of Liberty sticking out of the ground

"The Matrix" - jumping over the crack in the ice in Antarctica

"Twister" - tornado scenes in Los Angeles

"The Perfect Storm" - shot of wave approaching Manhattan

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Jane Wyman steals the show..., 20 February 2004

"The Yearling", an adaptation of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings novel about a Florida family in the 1800s, is a fairly well-made family film that suffers mostly from bad acting and a slow plot.

Jane Wyman, as the mother, blows every one else off the screen. You can see why she would go on to win the Oscar only a couple of years later for a non-speaking role in "Johnny Belinda".

Gregory Peck, an excellent actor otherwise, is out of his league, poorly attempting a southern accent while trying to play the staid father.

The worst acting of all comes from Claude Jarman Jr. who portrays the young Jody as if he were acting in a silent film. Less is more, Claude. He thankfully retired from acting about 10 years later, after as many films.

The cinematography is beautiful, and worthy of the awards it won.

Overall, I give this film 6 out of 10 - thumbs down, except for fans of Jane Wyman.

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