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26 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
What could have been..., 9 March 2008

I went into this film thinking it would be awful. Plug Will Smith in Action Movie Will Smith mode into just about anything, and I'm bound to dislike it. What I found, for the first half of this film, instead, was a beautifully photographed and very well acted piece. Smith, a solid actor when he chooses material that suits his gifts, carries the weight of being the film's only character for about an hour in an effortless, engaging manner. It's one of his best performances. The film, which slowly reveals its (and its character's) history in flashbacks, is engaging for this hour. Then...the plot thickens.

I won't give away the ending except to say that the film deviates DEEPLY from the novel's second act. In doing so, it not only loses me by going for a safe, semi-happy ending, but it perverts the author's very meaning of the title of the novel.

Matheson (is he still alive?) should be pretty displeased. I am.

Fall Time (1995)
21 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Good Obscure Thriller About Lost Innocence, 4 September 2003

Rebellious post-high school buddies Tim (Jason London), Dave (David Arquette), and Joe (Jonah Blechman) are in the middle of their last summer together. Tim is off to college in the fall, and wherever the other two wind up, it will not be in the same place he will be. So the three of them, the bored threesome decide to pull of their most elaborate prank of all time. The plan is simple. Tim, all decked out in a nice suit that makes him slightly more than conspicuous in a small town like Caledonia, Wisconsin, will stand on a street corner near the bank, while the other two pull up fast in their black Buick (stolen from Dave's cruel father) and pretend, with blanks, to gun him down in the street, toss him into the trunk and speed away. After this reports about the Buick will be all over the news, and Dave's father will have a heavy dose of explaining to do. But while they plan the lark, ex-cons Florence (Mickey Rourke), and Leon (Stephen Baldwin) are planning to rob the very same bank. When the boys mistakenly abduct Leon (who is dressed in a suit similar to Tim's), and in effect, foil the crime, the stronger Florence immediately hunts down the suspicious Tim, and strong-arms him into assisting in the heist without Leon. Leon, meanwhile, once out of the trunk, easily detains Dave and Joe, and begins a paranoid investigation of their true motives before forcing Dave to reel off a conspiracy tale about himself and Florence, exactly what the very edgy Leon wants to hear. Leon, who is shown through his homosexual relationship with Florence (which began while the two served time) as being subservient and pliant, explodes when given the opportunity to call the shots for the two young boys, and becomes unhinged to the tune of torturous interrogation scenes that are almost too emotionally painful to watch. What follows is a violent, icy depiction of loss of innocence in the Eisenhower America, which ends the only way it can, with bodies on the floor. Though the film, made in 1995, was denied a theatrical release by co-stars bickering over billing, director Paul Warner spins a tightly wound tale of a adolescent joy-ride that goes awfully wrong. And perhaps the most interesting spin on the script is the parallel between the subservient relationship of Leon to Florence to the hero-worship Joe holds for Dave, and even paralleling Leon's treatment of the boys with the relationship of Dave to his father. This amounts to a perverse little twist of script that Freudians would love, where the two criminals do serve to provide a sort of perverse fathering of the children. The young cast is outstanding, exuding the requisite disbelief and innocence we expect from these boys. A particular standout is Arquette, who I previously did not feel could act his way out of a paper bag. Mickey Rourke is absolutely chilling as Florence, and Baldwin gives perhaps even a better performance than he did in The Usual Suspects, an absolutely brilliant turn as the explosive Leon. In all, Fall Time is a very good movie that snuck through the cracks, and is well worth a look if you can find a copy.

With Another Actor, This Could Have Been Quite Good, 4 September 2003

`You cloned the wrong man." Despite a clever concept, and an ambitious story, it is lines like this, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger's trademark hammy one-liners, that relegate The 6th Day to second-tier filmdom. It's the near future, where a hologram can be your girlfriend, cars drive themselves (a neat little trick borrowed from the 1994 Van Damme thriller Time Cop, another ambitious sci-fi vehicle damaged by its star's presence), and if your pet dies, you just have to stop in at RePet and get him cloned, and if you Mickey Mantle your liver to death, you can always order a new one. The only thing you cannot do is clone a human being. After the first attempt, which created an awful freak of nature, congress passed what are known as Sixth Day Laws (as in, on the sixth day God created man), which hand out strict penalties to anyone even attempting to clone a human being, and extermination for any such clone. Enter Adam Gibson (Arnold) and his best friend and partner Hank (Michael Rapaport), who run a helicopter service that caters to the rich and the powerful. Their new client is Michael Drucker, the Billionaire power behind Replacement Technologies, who are responsible for RePet as well as the organ cloning clinics. The job is Adam's, but when the family dog dies, he passes it on to Hank so that he can drop by RePet and get a new dog before his daughter realizes. Soon Adam returns home to find a duplicate of himself celebrating his birthday with his family. Before he can even comprehend the situation, Adam becomes the target of murderous thugs, who hunt him all around town. The whole thing revolves around a case of mistaken identity, Drucker's (Tony Goldwyn) greed, and the flawed medical ethics of Dr. Griffin Weir, the brains of the cloning operation, played by the ever-superb Robert Duvall. The story is interesting, taking on the ethics of cloning from both the pro and con side, and dealing with it in a fairly even-handed way, as well as taking on the corporate environment that would choose to exploit such a technology. While this could have been handled in a preachy, channel 67 (what I like to call the Jesus Knows Your Credit Limit Network) sort of way, writers Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, and director Roger Spotisswoode present it as an intelligent debate where both sides have valid points, and neither side is portrayed as particularly evil aside from the corporate component. The main flaw of the film is Arnold himself. While his hammy performances may have delighted audiences in Twins, and his muscle-bound butt-kicking may have thrilled in the Terminator movies, here it rings with a resounding lack of authenticity. Adam is meant, by his very name, to be a sort of everyman. Instead he is a body-building physique, whose accent challenges suspension of disbelief (how many Austrian immigrants do we have, and why are they the only ones who wind up in random conspiratorial fire fights?), and whose combat skills only serve to make him into a cartoon character of a protagonist. As with End of Days, this is a movie that would best have been served by plot rather than special effects and gun play. And while that Arnold picture at least attempted to pull away from the typical shoot-em up that is its star's trademark for most of the picture, The 6th Day embraces such foolishness when the movie really should have been much more. Watching this movie I could not help but wonder how much better a film it might have been had someone like Gary Sinise, whose work has always been electrifying even in severely flawed films, or Denzel Washington, or any of the legion of far more talented actors than Schwarzenegger. Director Spottiswoode, who has worked on successful films such as the funny Eddie Murphy-Nick Nolte actioner 48 Hours (co-writer), and the absolutely brilliant, but seldom mentioned Straw Dogs (editor), featuring Dustin Hoffman and David Warner, has found little success as a director. Spottiswoode has spat out such forgettable films as Air America, and the movie that killed Stallone even before Judge Dredd could, Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot. However, with The Sixth Day, he uses the juicy plot and elaborate effects to his advantage and guides the film with a fairly even hand. The only times the film itself goes sour plot-wise is the rather conventional identity twist (if you've ever watched the Twilight Zone or the Outer Limits you will see this one coming a mile away), and the end result of Arnold and his clone, which ends the movie on a plus note, but does not ring very true in looking far ahead. This is not a bad movie by any means. It may be the best movie involving Arnold made since T2, and is graced with a terrific performance by Duvall and a sufficiently scum-bag turn by Goldwyn. Veteran Bad Guy Michael Rooker (Eight Men Out, Rosewood) comfortably fills the role of Goldwyn's head thug. All in all an interesting watch, as long as you can look past that accent.

Farrell is Superb Here, 4 September 2003

Joel Schumacher's Phone Booth starts off following a day in the life of sleazy New York P.R. man Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) who's got a quick wit and a knack for double-talk. He's a small time guy pitching small time names, based on the principle that "Getting mentioned is the first step to getting noticed."

On this particular morning, Stu is, like every morning, on his way to a phone booth in the middle of Manhattan to call Pamela (Katie Holmes), a cute young actress whose name he's been dropping, and whom he calls every day from this very same phone booth.

To call on his cell phone, understand, would tip his hand to his wife (Radha Mitchell), whom Pamela knows nothing about.

It's just an ordinary day of misleading and little white lies for Stu, until the payphone rings.

When Stu answers the phone, he is told by the caller (the disembodied voice of Kiefer Sutherland) that if he tries to leave the booth or hang up, he will be shot with a high powered rifle. To prove his point, Sutherland first shoots a toy robot at a nearby vendor stand, and follows with the execution of a strip club owner who has been harassing Stu to get out of the booth.

Soon the police have gathered in force, led by Forrest Whitaker, believing that Stu was the one who shot the club owner, trying to diffuse what they think is a man gone berserk on a city street.

Before his afternoon is over, Stu Shepard will be made to confess his two-faced, conniving ways to his wife, his would-be mistress, and to the world, at the hands of an unseen killer.

What follows is a surprisingly gripping, entertaining hour and a half of movie packed with more than enough twists, turns and verbal pyrotechnics to make this thin premise work.

For all that this film doesn't do in terms of movement, it more than compensates with a thick, verbal tension that rises and falls with moments of sheer terror and of much needed comedic relief.

And while the film does possess a poorly hidden "trick" ending that doesn't wash down easily, when it's all over, the whole overcomes the lesser sum of its parts.

Instead of the action-oriented drama created by such mindless "thrillers" as The Fast and the Furious and XXX, this film's refreshing hook is its use of words and genuine emotion to propel its story with as little gunplay and actual physical violence as is possible.

This is the genius of this film, and why it's easy to overlook its flaws.

For his part, Sutherland (The Lost Boys, TV's 24) is terrific. Both sadistic and moralistic, his caller is a man whose methods (illustrated in a brief description of two other victims) may be vicious and unnerving, but whose moral center seems uncomfortably familiar. It's easy to identify with his distaste for Stu and for other people he deems phony and dishonest.

He is a mirror of our own morality and values.

The case of Amadou Diallo, shot 41 times when the police mistook his wallet for a gun being pulled from his pants, is mentioned more than a few times, and it serves as also as a part of this film's mosaic of violence and morality.

In an age of ambiguous morality, where people are waging war in the name of peace and where even police are prone to irrational acts of sudden panic and violence, this movie asks the question of how different are we than Sutherland's gunman?

This film continues the credibility comeback for Schumacher, whose work here and in 2000's Tigerland, also with Farrell, have just about dug him all the way out of the hole his Batman movies dug for him more than half a decade ago.

The real story here is Farrell.

A steadily rising star since his head-turning performance in Tigerland, Farrell has scored supporting roles in such big budget, big profile flicks as Daredevil and Minority Report, and here delivers the goods as a leading man.

His Stu Shepard is both disgusting and sympathetic, deceitful but painfully honest when pressed, and his performance is completely moving.

When Stu finally breaks down under the weight of his impending death and threats to his wife's and to Pamela's safety, his confession is a raw, soul-bearing wrench of sobs and half-hearted laughs that is so raw and uncomfortable that it barely feels like acting.

Here Farrell, a regular in the gossip columns for his various affairs with the likes of Britney Spears and Demi Moore, and a talk show regular for his boundless energy and profanity-laced humor, is absolutely astonishing, and every bit worth the hype that has surrounded his name.

Written by B movie legend Larry Cohen (It's Alive, and The Stuff), Phone Booth has more than its share of holes and inconsistencies, and nobody is going to mistake it for great, but the performances and the sharp dialogue keep this movie well above sinking level. Farrell's performance alone would be worth the price of admission.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Year's Most Star-Studded Flop, 4 September 2003

The premise for Dreamcatcher, Lawrence Kasdan's adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by Stephen King, is simple enough. But, by the time this movie blessedly ends, an alien possession, a childhood pact with an autistic boy, and a psychotic Army colonel will twist and turn and beat this plot to death as this King-Kasdan collaboration turns into the most star-studded flop of the spring.

Pete, Henry, Jonesy, and Beaver are four ordinary, almost excruciatingly witty guys who lead mostly ordinary lives, but who are blessed with a kind of ESP. Pete (Timothy Olyphant) is a car salesman with a knack for finding lost objects, Henry (Thomas Jane) is a psychiatrist, near suicidal with guilt over his humiliation of an overweight patient who eventually killed himself, and Jonesy (British actor Damian Lewis) is a professor at a New England university who can read minds without even trying.

It is never really established what Beaver (the solid Jason Lee) does for a living, but his gift is quite similar to that of Jonesy. The four were given these gifts by an extraordinary local autistic (Donnie Wahlberg), whom they saved from a bullying attack when they were all just boys. In spite of their powers, the four today live mostly unhappy and unfulfilled lives.

Their only solace appears to be their annual trip into the woods to drink, hunt, and relive their youth with their best friends in the world. But when a mysterious stranger wanders into camp with what looks like radiation burns on much of his body and a lapsed memory, they find themselves at odds with a murderous alien force that will threaten all of their lives.

Two of their party wind up quickly and almost casually dead, while Jonesy is taken possession of and the alien within him (which calls itself Mr. Gray and speaks in the ridiculous accent of a British gentleman) will try to evade a mad military man (a disinterested Morgan Freeman) and infect the rest of the world's population before Henry and the dying autistic can unlock the secret of the mutual destiny that they all share with this creature.

The problem with this movie is its effort to do way too much. The trailer suggests that this movie is some kind of cross between John Carpenter's The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. What it is instead is a mostly over-acted, over-sentimental clunker that starts with a strong, suspenseful opening hook, but spirals into an ending that feels rushed and is unfaithful to the novel.

Kasdan, with co-writer William Goldman (whose lone previous King adaptation, Hearts of Atlantis, also took tremendous liberties with its source material, much to its detriment) put together a terrific cast for this movie, but nearly every performance feels stiff or lampooned.

Lee is very good as Beaver, but his character is dead before the movie really begins to move. Lewis, so good in HBO's Band of Brothers, is good here too, but that seems lost in the logic problem that is his character, and Freeman seems to just be playing out the string.

Tom Sizemore, as the more reasonable aid to Freeman's Colonel Kurtis, feels like little more than a body and a famous face in a fleshless role.

The worst thing about this movie is the dialogue between the four friends, which wants to be clever in a very Kasdan, Big Chill kind of way, but instead becomes as grating as twisted machinery by the time they utter their thousandth or so acronym or childhood catch phrase.

How in the world can a film with this cast, and with the pedigree of two Oscar nominees and the world's best-selling novelist be so boring?

By the time this movie's third act comes along, it's so long and drawn out and boring that its silly climax feels less silly than it does absolutely unforgivable.

Once again, someone adapting King doesn't trust the source material enough to stick to it, and the film suffers for this lack of confidence.

Don't believe the trailer, and don't trust all the big names you see in the credits, this movie is one thing: bad. You'll be wasting your money on it.

35 out of 51 people found the following review useful:
The End of the World as We Know it, 30 April 2003

The very existence of this movie, the very idea that this has a major theater release, has me waving a razor over my wrist. The only people who would like this piece of trash are the same variety of vacuous young people that make The Real WOrld popular and listen to ass-bumping, mindless techno and the shallow end of hip hop and give my generation a bad name. good movies like Donnie Darko and Igby Goes Down are met with limited or no theater exposure, and this trash gets the big time treatment? Thank God, thank a God I don't even believe in, that this thing bombed in its opening weekend. THe success of this thing would be a pandora's box that would kill the film industry the same way its killed TV. Film, like painting, sculpture, music and writing, is an art form. The sad thing is that a huge number of people would just as soon see miles and miles of tits and ass over a real plot, good acting, and a keep directorial eye. screw this movie and everyone involved.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The End of the World as We Know it, 30 April 2003

The very existence of this movie, the very idea that this has a major theater release, has me waving a razor over my wrist. The only people who would like this piece of trash are the same variety of vacuous young people that make The Real WOrld popular and listen to ass-bumping, mindless techno and the shallow end of hip hop and give my generation a bad name. good movies like Donnie Darko and Igby Goes Down are met with limited or no theater exposure, and this trash gets the big time treatment? Thank God, thank a God I don't even believe in, that this thing bombed in its opening weekend. THe success of this thing would be a pandora's box that would kill the film industry the same way its killed TV. Film, like painting, sculpture, music and writing, is an art form. The sad thing is that a huge number of people would just as soon see miles and miles of tits and ass over a real plot, good acting, and a keep directorial eye. screw this movie and everyone involved.

Session 9 (2001)
subtle, atmospheric horror, 2 April 2003

The comtemporary horror film is awash in music video visuals and pop music sountracks. What Brad Anderson does with this film is create a classic horror movie, the kind of horror created by what you can't see, what you think you hear. Peter Mullan is terrific as Gordon, and David Caruso, even in his lean years in awful movies like Jade, has always been a terrific actor. What a terrific little video store find this movie is.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
shattering story about greed, 2 April 2003

Whenever HBO airs this little gem of a documentary, I stop what I'm doing and watch it. Narrated by Liev Schrieber, who is establishing himself as one of the most accomplished vocal performers in the business, this is just a remarkable story. What makes the story of CCNY so shattering is to see the impact that it has had on college basketball in New York. Yeah, St. John's usually fields a good team, and now and again Manhattan sends a team to the NCAA Tournament, as they did this year, but for the most part, college basketball in the city died when this scandal erupted. Brilliant.

Swingers (1996)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One of the funniest films of the 90s, 1 January 2003

The very best part of this movie is in the last scene, where a suddenly at peace Favreau is just about to make a point, just about to explain why he's changed, just when he's about to give this movie a deeper meaning, Vaughn does his "I'm getting vibed in a wierd way here" bit. I love how this movie is only about real life, and how perfectly Favreau's script captured the ups and downs of romance, the pointless conversation of male friendship, and the simple bonding experience of playing NHL '95. The dialogue feels so real that you feel like Sue, Mike, Rob and Trent are the guys you hang out with. Favreau is good, but Vince Vaughn really shines here. This is his breakout role, and it is completely brilliant. This movie is a lot better than what some of the jerks who've dismissed it on this page think it is. Ten out of ten. Anyone who says otherwise gets a kick in the face.

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