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12 reviews in total 
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34 out of 62 people found the following review useful:
Not Raiders Redux,but a worthy return, 22 May 2008

There were times in this film where I cringed, because Lucas and Spielberg ask the audience to suspend their disbelief one big step beyond anything that was asked of them in the previous three films. But on the other hand, those films were a collective homage to a different kind of adventure serial. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an homage to B grade Sci-fi movies of the 1950s. When you keep that in mind, the cringing goes away a bit... and when you REALLY think about it, you wonder why they didn't take it a step even further in that direction than they already have.

But I digress. On the whole, this is a very entertaining film, and contains one extended action sequence that is truly on a par with the best of the first three movies. Cate Blanchett is an effective enough villain, although perhaps not as memorable as Belloq and his henchmen from Raiders. The supporting players (Winstone, Broadbent, and John Hurt) all do a fine job of the roles they've been assigned. And it's nice to see Karen Allen back again, even though she's a bit rusty in terms of the acting skills.

Still, Marian and Indy do give the film some of its best dialogue. I understand that Lawrence Kasdan was consulted on some of the more "romantic" scenes in the film, and I think it shows. There is one scene in particular, that I won't get more specific about here, that really brings back the magic of the Marian-Indy banter from Raiders, if only for a few short moments.

And then there's Shia and his character Mutt. I was ready to hate this character, but really, he didn't bother me.

Anyhow, enough said. If you're looking for a good movie to have a enjoyable summer night at the movies, this one will do the trick. I think most of you will be glad you did.

Fiction (2006)
11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Extraordinary Work, 16 September 2006

I don't rate very many films ten out of ten, but this one makes the cut. I felt clobbered coming out of the theatre at the Toronto Film Festival. For anyone who has ever experienced a love that cannot be, you will understand the language of this film. It's all in the glances, the smiles, the unspoken words between the lines of conversation. The actors bring their characters to life to the point that you feel as though you know these people.

Suffice it to say, Ficcion did it for me. And from the warm round of applause it received at the screening I attended, I suspect many others felt the same way. Hopefully it will find some success in a broader North American release.

7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Good, but not Egoyan's best, 7 October 2005

Well, I saw this film fairly soon after seeing David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. Both films deal intimately with issues of sex and power, and Egoyan's film does provoke thought... just not nearly as much as Cronenberg's.

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not Alison Lohman was right for the central role she plays in this film. In my opinion, she's not quite believable. She comes across as a bit too naive, while I believe that her character is intended to be quite wily. There's no such problems with Rachel Blanchard, who does a terrific job with a much smaller, but also key role. Still, Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon really rescue this one with their portrayal of a comedy duo gone wrong. Bacon is especially effective at capturing the swagger and confidence of a showman, with all of the benefits it brings.

Let me also say a quick word or two about the sex in this film, since there has been a ratings controversy. I found the sex to be quite mild in comparison to some of the sex in Cronenberg's History of Violence. That said, I'm not sure that the NC-17 rating in the US will really hurt the film all that much, since I don't think anybody would ever pretend that this is a film for minors anyhow.

On the whole, has some obvious flaws, but it's definitely worth the price of admission.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Riveting, 25 September 2005

I really liked David Cronenberg's films from the 1980s. Videodrome, the Dead Zone, the Fly and especially Dead Ringers were expertly assembled films that caught my attention and held it. With the exception of M Butterfly, I really didn't care for anything he did in the 1990s. It seemed as though the man had lost his touch. But what really happened was that he was just in his cocoon... he went in as an expert horror/thriller director and emerged as a fully realized master. Spider was a good warm up. Now he has made, in my opinion, the finest film in his career to this point.

Cronenberg expertly plays his key themes off of one another: family, the disturbing connection between intimacy and violence, and the uncontrolled nature of violence, no matter how skillfully used. We see that even the most controlled violence is not a scalpel, it is a sledgehammer that spreads unanticipated waves of destruction rocketing outwards. This is no lightweight film... it will leave you with a great deal to discuss if you are open to what it has to tell you.

A History of Violence also benefits from very strong performances from all of the principal actors, and an appropriately modest score from Howard Shore.

It's probably the best film I've seen this year.

Frankie (2005)
17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
A Showcase for Kruger, 17 September 2005

Frankie is a good example of how much can be achieved on a limited budget. Shot for only about three thousand dollars (Kruger was cast before making it big), this film is an intriguing meditation on the impact that the fashion industry has on young models. It's far from perfect... some scenes drag on for longer than they need to, but there is plenty to keep the viewer satisfied. Most importantly of all, Diane Kruger confirms that she knows how to act. In the critical central role, Kruger conveys a believability that draws you in and makes you empathize with her plight... only 26 years old and already at the end of her career in an industry that draws young women in, chews them up and spits them out like a mere commodity. Definitely worth viewing.

Red Eye (2005)
Return of the low-tech Thriller, 25 August 2005

There are hardly any visual effects shots in Red Eye, and I'm absolutely delighted by their absence. After trudging through several summers overpopulated by dumb, loud action spectacles that rely on visual effects to compensate for their almost total lack of sophistication, it was a real treat to sit down and watch Wes Craven school Hollywood on how a real thriller should look. Craven understands that suspense is best created by making characters feel the same fears that real people have in their everyday lives.

Yes, there are the requisite gory moments that show up in so many Hollywood productions, but Craven is wise enough not to dwell on them. Instead, he spends a lot of time quietly focusing on all the little things that you so often see on flights, and on all the little fears that people have about flying. The result is a verisimilitude that makes it so much easier to swallow whatever leaps of faith the screenplay throws at us.

One the surface, Red Eye is just another entry in the thriller genre (albeit a very good entry). But the more I think about it, the more impressed I am by how much Craven has managed to achieve with such a minimalist approach. One can only hope that younger directors and studio executives are sitting up and taking notice.

In short: definitely recommended. One of the few mainstream films this summer that didn't make me want to ask for my money back.

14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
A clever and engaging comedy/mystery, 12 September 2004

Unconscious, which just had its international (outside of Spain) premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, is a very good comedy/mystery. The art direction is very convincing, the dialogue is charming and fast paced and the plot twists are satisfyingly unpredictable. The Spanish cinema is blessed with a broad selection of films that focus on early twentieth century Spain, and this is a welcome addition to that group. It also features a strong comedic performance from Leonor Watling (from Almodovar's Talk to Her) who richly deserves an increased amount of recognition on the international cinema scene. Luis Tosar also does a very fine job as Salvador, the somewhat hapless male lead.

"Dune" (2000)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A risky approach pays off, 5 May 2003

The first time I watched this mini-series, I was somewhat disturbed by the surreal nature of Vittorio Storaro's cinematography. But once the viewer has accepted that this is not intended to be hyper-realistic (as so many science fiction productions are these days), his amazing achievement can be enjoyed. Ultimately, the feel that I got was one of sitting in an opera house, watching a great drama unfold onstage. In many places, Storaro's lighting design becomes a narrative device all by itself. It does a great job of highlighting emotional undercurrents. "Dune" also benefits from a very original and moving score by Graeme Revell. Most of the principle actors also do a fine job, although some of them do not enjoy enough screen time to really develop their performances.

That said, some of the broad city shots on Arrakis are fairly low quality attempts at the conventional realist approach to sci-fi moviemaking. This ends up being a little jarring when combined with Storaro's more abstract approach.

On the whole, a highly entertaining and thoughtful adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel. Don't see it if you have a phobia of minor changes in the plot. But for anyone else, I would recommend this genuinely engaging and intelligent mini-series.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A splendid bit of visual storytelling, 30 March 2003

This is certainly not a film for everybody. But if you are truly interested in cinema (and not just in Hollywood movies, which are merely one component of the larger art form), you would be hard pressed to find a recent film that does such a good job of visual storytelling.

I will resist the urge to give a long film history lesson that illustrates how the cinema first evolved as a visual art form that communicated plot and broader ideas with images alone. Suffice it to say that many filmmakers were highly resistant to the idea of even using sound when the technology first became available. Charlie Chaplin was initially profoundly opposed until he realized that sound effects could help him advance the plot (it was this, rather than the "usefulness" of dialogue, that moved him into the sound camp).

Mike Figgis is a brave man. He used the currency earned by the highly admired "Leaving Las Vegas" to make a bold little film that returns us to the very roots of cinema by letting his pictures tell the story instead of spelling it all out in dialogue. And if you don't like it, just leave it alone. There's no need to waste your time (not to mention everybody else's) by hurling useless invective.

An Orgy of Skill, 16 October 2002

PT Anderson and Adam Sandler have created a very mature, exquisitely skilled film. Punch-Drunk Love does not feature the manic Sandler of so many previous films. We knew that Sandler could act. The Wedding Singer showed that he could give us a character with reasonable emotional complexity. In Punch-Drunk Love, we can see the tremendous emotional burdens that his character carries around every day... until a series of seemingly random events suddenly bring out a violent flurry of changes in his life. He has always been made to feel small, yet love makes him stronger and bolder than he had ever imagined he could be.

Punch-Drunk Love is the sort of film that gets better and better as you replay it in your mind. Like Magnolia, it builds to an emotional climax in which a lifetime of self-repression is exploded. But unlike that film, it places its burning gaze onto a single character... and Adam Sandler is given a chance to show that he can make both real emotion and genuine catharsis come to life on the silver screen. I, for one, found myself completely charmed by the film, taken into the improbable life and redemption of a shy, pained little man in a big blue suit. I suspect and hope that many others will too.

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