Reviews written by registered user
|4 reviews in total|
When I read a review saying something like "If you like American History
then you should see Romper Stomper for a truly terrifying look at
neo-Nazism," I felt compelled to find this film. Sadly, I couldn't find it
locally until Russell Crowe became a megastar, but it was well worth the
Romper Stomper is a truly ugly, brutish film that examines the mentality and inherent contradictions of white supremacy. The film is dark and grainy with muted colors, perfect to set the tone. Russell Crowe turns in a very fine performance as Hando, the leader of the skinhead group. I was surprised at how Crowe was able to wrestle a three-dimensional character out of what could have been a flat charicature. The supporting cast is almost as good, and they play their parts effectively.
The movie overtly and subtly points out the contradictions of white supremacy. One example is the scene where the skinheads pick a fight at a local Vietnamese restaurant in order to drive the owners out. The Vietnamese in the area have had enough of skinhead attacks, and come to their friends' defense en masse. The kicker is the soundtrack, playing a skinhead song about bravery and fighting to the end while the skinheads scatter like roaches. The movie does it's best to show the skinhead lifestyle and mentality as unglamorous and simpleminded, despite the skinheads' statements to the contrary.
The only thing going against this film was it's lack of originality. This is only a tiny knock, for the film does what it does very well. And from this film, it's very obvious that Russell Crowe was destined for stardom from the beginning. Well worth seeing.
My rating: 8 out of a possible 10.
A previous review on this site made a succinct, apt comment about this
"This movie is for people who like to think...." I cannot sum up my
impressions of this film better than that. "The Insider" treats the
as if it is intelligent, never force-feeding us data. Those of you who
prefer to turn off your brain when watching movies, do yourself a favor -
rent this movie and realize what you have been missing all this
Russell Crowe (excellent as Bud White in "L.A. Confidential") plays Jeffrey Wigand, a tobacco executive ousted from his job because he won't play ball. Without saying too much, he has an insider's story to tell - about how the tobacco companies manipulate nicotine to make it more addictive and how he knows the "Seven Dwarves" (Wigand's term for the executives of the main seven tobacco companies) lied in their testimony to Congress.
Al Pacino's character, Lowell Bergman, is a producer for 60 Minutes who wants his show to be the public conduit for Wigand's information. The film chronicles how difficult it is to publicize this damaging information not just because of retaliation by the the tobacco companies but by CBS's unwillingness to stick it's neck out on a vital public health issue.
Crowe is marvelous - he effectively conveys the emotions of a tormented man, yet he never becomes a characture. Wigand is intelligent and wants to protect his family, and that never changes despite the odds. Al Pacino is excellent as usual - he convincingly portrays Bergman's dogmatic pursuit of truth and his high standard of never leaving a source hanging out to dry. The suspension of disbelief took over quickly for me. Early on, I stopped looking at Pacino and Crowe as Pacino and Crowe - they were Bergman and Wigand to me.
This film affected me much in the same way "Quiz Show" did. Both films are in ways about "the end of innocence" by selling out principles to the almighty dollar. One convicting scene involves Bergman battling CBS legal department over the story. The gist of the lawyer's position is simply this: the more truth you tell, the more liable CBS is. If that's not twisted, I don't know what is.
This movie should get you thinking about a variety of issues: what is a corporation's responsibility to the public well-being? Does corporate ownership of the media compromise what is reported? Is it worth all the personal sacrifices to make certain information public? If you're not thinking about larger issues after watching this film, you simply weren't paying attention.
My rating: 9 out of a possible 10
"Runaway Bride" is one of those films that probably looked good on paper -
bankable stars like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere trying to rework their
"Pretty Woman" magic in a similar plot - but is so horribly mishandled it
became painful to watch.
I rented it because my wife wanted to see it, and besides it was only an extra $1.00 with another 5-day rental at the local video store. How bad could it be for a dollar?
Let's put it this way - paying $1.00 to see this film was a rip-off. I shut off the movie after 30 minutes. My wife, who likes romantic comedies, stopped watching after an hour. The only reason I think she lasted that long was she was on allergy medication and lacked the strength to push the "Stop" button. The last movie I can recall her refusing to finish was "10 Violent Women" (we were in B-Movie/MST3K mode when we rented that one). As you have already determined, lumping "10 Violent Women" and "Runaway Bride" together is a huge red flag for the discriminating moviegoer.
First of all, Richard Gere's character is at best confused, but he is also conniving and mean. He's piggish yet suave - a great combination for a modern romance, I guess. He writes for USA Today, but is surprised when he's fired for not checking the 'facts' of his story. He tries to vindicate himself by getting the real story on Julia Robert's character, but he annoyingly turns up everywhere prying into every last detail of her life - and even though he just skewered her in a nationwide newspaper, everyone including Julia's fiance accepts and loves him. He's not a journalist - he's a stalker.
Julia Roberts is her usual cutesy self. At best, she gets by on charm, and if that's all you require I guess you'll like this film.
Most scenes are predictable and/or require the use of Roger Ebert's infamous "idiot plot." For example - in the first scene in the beauty shop, where I shut off the videotape. I won't give it away for those who want to see this film, but just watch and think about it for one second - would a big-city reporter fall for the towel gag? Why on earth would we buy this as a plot twist?
I found it impossible to identify with or care about any of the characters. Since both main characters and the plot are thin and uninteresting, the smaller aspects of the film might as well be problematic too. Some scenes and dialog, especially those of the minor characters like Julia's family and the ladies at the salon, would be better left on the cutting room floor. Most of the actors either seem uneasy with their dialog or are sleepwalking through stereotypical roles. The first 30 minutes seemed like a continuous product placement ad for USA Today and Z28's. The soundtrack songs are unimaginative - "Maneater" for crying out loud? I felt like I was watching a UPN sitcom instead of a movie.
I wish I could find something positive about this film, but it is only a transparent attempt to sequel "Pretty Woman" and make a bundle. My advice is short: don't see this film. Save yourself the time and money, even if it's only a dollar.
My Rating: 1 out of a possible 10
Saving Private Ryan certainly deserves some accolades. The now infamous
Omaha Beach scene is probably the best-choreographed war sequence I've
seen. It captures the horrors of war in many respects - the confusion,
bloodiness, the futility of soldiers being no more than cannon fodder.
direction is, of course, stellar - after all, we are talking about
Spielberg. The choice to mute the colors palette to washed out greens and
greys is an especially nice touch.
However, Spielberg refuses to lay off the schmaltz. Oftentimes, the scenes where he injects some humanity or includes the everyman "average joe" character (in this case the soldier-interpreter) to me appears forced. The opening and closing scenes also revel in this schmaltz, trying to bring the story into modern times and connecting it to today's audience. Spielberg tried something similar with "Schindler's List," with the stone-piling scene at the end. To me, both movies work well enough on their own without these extras. As good of a director as Spielberg is, he often resorts to these over-the-top techniques to jerk a tear or to invoke sadness. I wish he would show more restraint or find a less obvious way of expressing the same emotion.
Don't get me wrong - I liked the movie well enough to give it a 7 and gladly recommend it. A bit of trimming would have made "Saving Private Ryan" a much better film though.