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cinemel

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88 reviews in total 
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Excellent special effects wasted on anemic sequel, 21 July 2002
4/10

Tommie Lee Jones and Will Smith reprise their roles as Agents J & K in Barry Sonnenfeld's sequel to the enormously successful Men in Black of 5 years ago. This time their roles are reversed. Will Smith portrays the veteran anti-alien agent and Jones is the naive postal worker whose knowledge of aliens has been neuralized (wiped out). When the earth is threatened by Lara Flynn Boyle (as the new alien villain), Jones is brought out of "retirement" and restored to partnership with Smith. It sounds like it should work, but it is only fitfully amusing and not very exciting. However, the special effects are even more elaborate than in the original, but it isn't enough. The only thing that saves the film is a canine alien agent who has a leaning towards singing songs like "I Will Survive" and "Who let the dogs out?" He steals the show from the stars. The movie itself is mercifully short (88 minutes, with about 10 minutes of credits making the body of the film only 78-80 min. long, or short, as it were). So if you liked the original, you might enjoy this one. It just isn't fresh or original, just a money-making rehash.

Tadpole (2000)
Sly sweet coming-of-age tale, 21 July 2002
7/10

Sigourney Weaver and Bebe Neuwirth are best friends in this short and sweet coming-of-age tale. Weaver is married to John Ritter and is stepmother to Aaron Stanford (first film). Stanford, 15 years old, has a crush on his stepmother and plans to let her know on his Thanksgiving break from prep school. Things don't go as planned and he ends up in the bed of someone else. This may sound like a sleazy immoral tale, but Stanford's character is a bright mature young man. His superb performance makes this film rise above most films of this type. Robert Iler (son of Jas. Gandolfini on the Sopranos) is Stanford's closest friend and confidant. Weaver and Neuwirth both bring that special something to their roles. Coincidentally, both are in real life relationships with younger men (no, not that young). When the film has run its short 78 minute course, you'll wish it weren't over.

Pleasant surprise, an entertaining creative documentary, 5 June 2002
8/10

Brett Morgan and Nanette Burstein have put together a fascinating portrait of Hollywood mogul, Robert Evans. The documentary skips over his childhood to his short career as a rising star in films. He was discovered poolside by Norma Shearer who chose him to play her wunderkind husband, Irving Thalberg, in "Man of a Thousand Faces". He went on to the colorful role of the bullfighter in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises." Darryl Zanuck cast him against the desires of Hemingway, Ava Gardner and Tyrone Power who wanted a name actor in the role. When Zanuck filmed his first scene in the bullring he liked what his saw. Hence, the famous line: "The kid stays in the picture." Evans knew from that day on what he really wanted to do was what Zanuck was doing, make films, not act in them. His next role in "The Fiend that Walked the West" just solidified his resolve to drop the acting career and move into the behind the scenes part of movie making. The middle part of the story relates his rise to fame as the head of Paramount studios (Love Story, Romeo and Juliet, Harold and Maude and The Godfather) and as independent filmmaker (Chinatown). His subsequent fall from grace is the final third of the tale. The film is creatively told using constant music, film and newsreel clips, and photographs all ingeniously intertwined. Of course, the best part is the narration which is provided by Robert Evans himself. The voiceover is derived from Evans audio book of the biograpphy from which the film is adapted. I went in expecting to be bored. I was riveted for an hour and a half to this classic story of the rise and fall of a Hollywood legend.

Big fat entertaining film, 20 May 2002

This film won't win any awards, but you will walk out of it feeling good. It has lots of ethnic humor and stereotypical characters, but they all have good hearts. Of course, if you're of Greek extraction give it an extra star. Lanie Kazan and Michael Constantine portray the parents of Toula (Nia Vardalos, who also wrote the screenplay). Toula is 30 and not yet married to a nice Greek boy. They are all losing hope when Toula meets Ian (John Corbett, Aidan from Sex and the City) who is not Greek. Romantic complications ensue, but the characters are charming if loud. Andrea Martin is particularly good as an aunt. A fun romantic comedy that will not disappoint.

The Force Strikes Back, 17 May 2002
7/10



The fifth in the Star Wars galaxy blasts into that faraway long ago continuing the tale of the Skywalker clan. The Force strikes back in the extreme. In this the 2nd prequel we are introduced to Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader, in his young adult incarnation. His romance with the lovely former queen and present Senator Padme Amidala and his journey to the dark side improve on the juvenile shenanigans of the child in Episode I. The silliness of Jar Jar Binks in the earlier film is also kept to a minimum here.

George Lucas, always pushing the envelope technologically, again does so here, filming the entire movie digitally. Visually the images are sumptuous and eye filling. The variety of environments on different planets keeps the viewer engaged and delighted. The story returns to the city planet of Coruscant, the desert planet of Tatooine, and introduces a rain-swept planet where the clones of the title are being grown.

Here Lucas begins filling in the gaps leading up to the 4th episode, the original Star Wars film. The relationship between R2D2 and C3PO develops humorously. We find out the genesis of the character, Boba Fett. However, the high points of any space adventure are its action sequences. These are thrilling and more frequent than in the Phantom Menace. A fantastic chase through the skyscrapers of Coruscant gives you the feeling that these characters are really zooming and swooping between the canyons of this throbbing metropolis. A later sequence in an arena that dwarfs those in Gladiator or Ben-Hur pits our protagonists against fearsome creatures which are indescribably ugly and vicious. A final light saber duel brings the audience to applause because. . .no, I won't spoil it.

John Williams score is an integral part of Star Wars lore. Here he interweaves themes introduced in the first three films, Leia's theme, the Imperial March and others, with the new music for this opus. In particular, the love theme for Anakin and Padme is moving and effective. It really supports the actors' tentative performances during these scenes. Lucas has never been much of an actor's director. It's in this one area that he has left his two main characters out in the cold. Han Solo and Princess Leia had a perfect chemistry that is not as natural here. Ewan McGregor is evolving smoothly into Alec Guinness' Obi-Wan. Yoda is now completely in the CGI domain. Samuel L. Jackson has more to do than in Menace and always adds that something special to his roles. He even gets to wield a light saber. Wonderful Christopher Lee is the evil Count Dooku. Interesting that his counterpart in so many Hammer horror films, Peter Cushing, was a villain in the first Star Wars film.

Star Wars fans will not be disappointed. The romance in the tale will also make the tale much more accessible to women. The film builds to a rousing conclusion making the audience wish that they would not have to wait another three years to find out what events will bring the saga full circle.

Ben-Hur (1959)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A classic of the epic genre that along with "Gladiator" should help revive films of the ancient world., 29 March 2001
10/10

When we imagine the epic film as a genre, 3 films immediately come to mind: The Ten Commandments, Spartacus and Ben-Hur. Of the three, Ben-Hur is probably the most honored. It won 11 Oscars including Best Picture, Actor (Heston), Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith), and Director (William Wyler). The only Oscar it didn't win was for Screenplay (Karl Tunberg). The reason probably had something to do with the fact that several other authors, including Gore Vidal, had a hand in its re-writing. What makes Ben-Hur a great epic? First, the sweep of its locations and settings. Giant sets were constructed on the grounds of the great Cinecitta Studios in Rome. State of the art special effects enhanced the two great action sequences (the sea battle and the chariot race). Next, the larger than life performances of the principals brought to life these imagined characters of novelist, Lew Wallace. Stephen Boyd is perfect as the Roman centurion, Messala, who has returned to Judea (Israel) to assume his place as military leader anxious to suppress the Hebrews who are ruled by the Roman Empire. Boyd never again had a role to equal this. He was a fine match for Heston who embodies the princely Ben-Hur whose friend he was in their childhood. It is their enmity that lies at the core of this tale. The underlying story of Christ parallels the journey of Ben-Hur intersecting at two crucial points in the film. Wyler wisely does not show the face of Christ. Instead, he shows people's reactions to him. In one scene, a Roman soldier is trying to prevent Ben-Hur (now a prisoner) from drinking water. After Christ lets him drink the soldier tries to stop him (`I said no water for him'). His reaction to the hidden face of Christ is worth a thousand words. No discussion of Ben-Hur would be complete without mentioning the towering musical score composed and conducted by Miklos Rozsa (Academy Award). Finally, it is many qualities such as this that give Ben-Hur the stature of more than just a sword and sandal epic, but transform it into a personal drama. Its characters are living, breathing beings swept into events that make for exciting cinema. Jack Hawkins is fine as the Roman general whose life Ben-Hur saves. Hugh Griffith earned his Oscar as the humorous Sheik Ilderim who supplies Hur with the Arabian steeds that he will race against Messala in the great circus of Jerusalem. It all comes down to the chariot race that is the center of the second half of the film. There are no special effects here. The race is real. Heston and Boyd actually drive the chariots in almost all the scenes. No doubt, the chariot race is one of the greatest actions sequences in any film.

Ben-Hur has just been released on DVD in a superb new transfer with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The epic was filmed in Camera 65 an ultra-wide process that is almost completely revealed on this disc. The DVD also has a fine hour-long documentary about the making of the film. It would be something to see this classic projected on an IMAX screen. With the success of `Gladiator' someone in Hollywood should re-release the grand epics of the 50's and 60's in their original 70mm splendor. Ben-Hur could then be fully appreciated as the classic it is (one of AFI's greatest 100 films of the 20th century).

Ben-Hur (1959)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Classic epic film only improves with age., 29 March 2001
10/10



When we imagine the epic film as a genre, 3 films immediately come to mind: The Ten Commandments, Spartacus and Ben-Hur. Of the three, Ben-Hur is probably the most honored. It won 11 Oscars including Best Picture, Actor (Heston), Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith), and Director (William Wyler). The only Oscar it didn't win was for Screenplay (Karl Tunberg). The reason probably had something to do with the fact that several other authors, including Gore Vidal, had a hand in its re-writing. What makes Ben-Hur a great epic? First, the sweep of its locations and settings. Giant sets were constructed on the grounds of the great Cinecitta Studios in Rome. State of the art special effects enhanced the two great action sequences (the sea battle and the chariot race). Next, the larger than life performances of the principals brought to life these imagined characters of novelist, Lew Wallace. Stephen Boyd is perfect as the Roman centurion, Messala, who has returned to Judea (Israel) to assume his place as military leader anxious to suppress the Hebrews who are ruled by the Roman Empire. Boyd never again had a role to equal this. He was a fine match for Heston who embodies the princely Ben-Hur whose friend he was in their childhood. It is their enmity that lies at the core of this tale. The underlying story of Christ parallels the journey of Ben-Hur intersecting at two crucial points in the film. Wyler wisely does not show the face of Christ. Instead, he shows people's reactions to him. In one scene, a Roman soldier is trying to prevent Ben-Hur (now a prisoner) from drinking water. After Christ lets him drink the soldier tries to stop him (`I said no water for him'). His reaction to the hidden face of Christ is worth a thousand words. No discussion of Ben-Hur would be complete without mentioning the towering musical score composed and conducted by Miklos Rozsa (Academy Award). Finally, it is many qualities such as this that give Ben-Hur the stature of more than just a sword and sandal epic, but transform it into a personal drama. Its characters are living, breathing beings swept into events that make for exciting cinema. Jack Hawkins is fine as the Roman general whose life Ben-Hur saves (`We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well and live.'). Hugh Griffith earned his Oscar as the humorous Sheik Ilderim who supplies Hur with the Arabian steeds that he will race against Messala in the great circus of Jerusalem (`There is no law in the arena. Many are killed.'). It all comes down to the chariot race that is the center of the second half of the film. There are no special effects here. The race is real. Heston and Boyd actually drive the chariots in almost all the scenes. No doubt, the chariot race is one of the greatest actions sequences in any film.

Ben-Hur has just been released on DVD in a superb new transfer with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The epic was filmed in Camera 65 an ultra-wide process that is almost completely revealed on this disc. It would be something to see these classics projected on an IMAX screen. With the success of `Gladiator' someone in Hollywood should re-release the grand epics of the 50's and 60's in their original 70mm splendor. Ben-Hur could then be fully appreciated as the classic it is (one of AFI's greatest 100 films of the 20th century).

Adult look into modern espionage with fine performances by Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush., 29 March 2001

Pierce Brosnan portrays an anti-007 type spy in John Boorman's film of John LeCarre's novel, `The Tailor of Panama'. Boorman has filmed a rich and exciting tale peopled with complicated characters. Brosnan is the antithesis of James Bond as Andy Osnard, exiled to Panama after a romantic indiscretion. He chooses Harry Pendel, superbly portrayed by Academy Award Winner Geoffrey Rush, as his paid informer, the tailor of the title. Pendel is married to Louisa (Jamie Lee Curtis) who works for the head of the Panama Canal Authority. Now that the U.S. no longer controls the Canal Zone, the future of the canal is up for grabs among the nations of the world. The complex interrelationships of the characters is sometimes confusing. However, Boorman has used creative cinematic techniques to move his story along quickly drawing the viewer into its vortex of betrayal and greed. In particular, Boorman uses music and intercutting of a romantic dance with a love-making scene between Andy and Francesca (Catherine McCormack), a colleague at the British Embassy. It was quite courageous of Boorman to show Brosnan's character as quite reprehensible and yet charming. Brosnan pulls it off winningly. The intelligent filmgoer will not be disappointed by this adult look at modern espionage.

13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Pleasant Ashley Judd romantic comedy that keeps you smiling., 28 March 2001
5/10

Ashley Judd stars in `Someone Like You', a pleasant romantic comedy that lets her stretch her acting chops. Judd's recent films, `Eye of the Beholder' and `Double Jeopardy', placed her in mortal danger and were deadly serious, to say the least. Her current project gives her a lighter air portraying a young working woman charged with the task of getting interesting guests for a morning talk show hosted by Diane (Ellen Barkin). In the film's humorous introduction, Jane (Judd) explains the Old cow/new cow theory that she applies to men and their relationships with women. Basically, The theory says that once a bull mates with a cow (old cow) subsequently he only wants another Cow (new cow). At the job she falls for Ray (Greg Kinnear). She is the new cow to him. Meanwhile, she shares an apartment with Eddie (charismatic Hugh Jackman, recently of X-Men). Complications ensue and the finale is predictable. Performances are on the mark and the settings in Manhattan are real (not faux Toronto) adding to the film's charm. In addition, the men are treated fairly, not making this a total chick flick. There is also a sparkling performance by Marisa Tomei as Jane's best friend. The costumes are also what a $40,000/yr. salary could afford, as opposed to Armani and other designer duds. As directed by Tony Goldwyn (the bad guy in `Ghost') `Someone Like You' is a delightful way to spend a couple of hours. There are no surprises, some smiles and chuckles, and you'll feel good because the characters are basically nice folks.

10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Beautifully filmed tale of the early film industry in China., 20 March 2001

Ann Hu‘s first directorial and writing effort is an ambitious project that belies her 2 month apprenticeship at the film school at New York University. `Shadow Magic' is a fictitious tale built around the introduction of the infant film industry in China of the very early 20th century. Raymond Wallace (Jared Harris) comes to Beijing to introduce the simplest of motion pictures to its natives. Liu (Yu Xia) portrays a youthful Chinese apprentice photographer who helps him encourage the locals to attend the show he calls `Shadow Magic'. The clashes of cultures form the backbone of the conflict. Filmed beautifully on location, acting, cinematography and music coalesce magically to draw today's audiences into its story, just as its characters are instantly charmed by the movies they come to see in filmdom's first theaters. This is a movie not to be missed by anyone who loves film.


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