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409 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Entertaining blockbuster, no more or less, 30 April 2005


Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)

Sound formats: Dolby Digital / DTS

Toward the end of the 19th century, Prof. Quatermain (Sean Connery) is recruited to lead a band of superheroes - each drawn from popular literature of the day, each blessed with distinctive powers - to defeat a monstrous villain who is plotting to take over the world.

Based on the celebrated graphic novel by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, Stephen Norrington's high-concept melodrama combines the Gothic splendor of Victorian 'penny dreadfuls' with the excesses of modern Hollywood, resulting in a curious hybrid of 'Boy's Own' adventure story and turbo-charged blockbuster (set-pieces include a spectacular recreation of Captain Nemo's 'Nautilus', the sinking of Venice, and several destructive rampages by the hulking Mr. Hyde!), though James Dale Robinson's clever script never seems forced or arbitrary. Connery coasts through proceedings on the strength of his established screen persona, while scene-stealer Stuart Townsend (QUEEN OF THE DAMNED) camps it up as a dandified Dorian Gray whose skirmishes with vampire/ex-girlfriend Mina Harker (Peta Wilson, TV's "La Femme Nikita") are charged with sexual tension - these characters surely deserve a movie of their own! Sadly, the film is undermined by a mediocre villain, whose lack of visual presence leaves a significant hole in the narrative. However, despite this minor drawback and some well-documented production troubles (Connery and Norrington were at loggerheads throughout), the finished article is much better than its modest box-office performance would otherwise suggest.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
High-concept horror has its faults and virtues, 29 April 2005


Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Dolby Digital

Survivors of a virus which turns infected victims into murderous zombie-like creatures struggle to stay alive amidst the chaos.

High-concept horror from TRAINSPOTTING director Danny Boyle and novelist-cum-screenwriter Alex Garland (THE BEACH), produced on a modest budget and filmed with digital video cameras (transferred to 35mm for theatrical exhibition). Cillian Murphy is the hapless hero, compelled to join forces with a motley band of survivors (including Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson and Noah Huntley) who run afoul of an Army encampment run by well-meaning - but deluded - military officer Christopher Eccleston, whose rash behavior unleashes a fresh wave of horror. Comparisons with the work of George A. Romero are inevitable, though the film's impact is blunted by rapid editing which curtails the violence and renders some of the action scenes incomprehensible in places. However, Boyle uses edgy visuals to keep the audience off-guard at all times, and the narrative builds to a satisfying conclusion. The opening sequence, in which Murphy stumbles through deserted London streets, is truly haunting.

The Trip (2002)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Big-hearted comedy-drama hits all the right notes, 29 April 2005


Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Stereo

The relationship between a free-spirited gay activist (Steve Braun) and a conservative closet-case (Larry Sullivan) is tested to breaking point during the political turbulence of the 1970's and reaches a bittersweet conclusion during the Reaganite 80's, when AIDS begins to decimate the gay community.

Miles Swain's warm-hearted comedy-drama ploughs a far-reaching furrow through two decades of gay liberation. As the opposites who attract each other against their better judgment, Braun (EVERYBODY'S DOING IT) and Sullivan (FORBIDDEN CITY) are perfectly matched, and both young men are profoundly altered by their burgeoning love for one another, while an eccentric supporting cast spins a magical web around them, including former Bond girl Jill St. John (DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER) as Sullivan's daffy, kleptomaniac mother, veteran character actor Ray Baker (WHAT LIES BENEATH) as the scheming politician who covets Sullivan for his own bed, Sirena Irwin (TV's "Stripperella") as a bubble-headed blonde who is forced to step aside as the two main men in her life begin to fall in love with each other, and the ubiquitous Alexis Arquette (I THINK I DO) as an activist more interested in bedding guys than changing the world. The fads and fashions of ages past are exploited to the hilt by costume designers Kristen Anacker and Cherie Sevilla Granger and art directors David Touster and Donna Willinsky, while the changing political landscape is charted through a series of contemporary news clips (including the glorious moment when Anita Bryant was ambushed during a live TV broadcast!). Best of all, the romance between Braun and Sullivan is depicted with heartfelt sincerity, making their final scenes together all the more tender and poignant.

For all its good intentions, however, the movie is weakened by a significant flaw: Despite Swain's clever screenplay (loaded with fruity one-liners), his depiction of Braun's activism is both underwritten and underplayed, resulting in a narrative imbalance which fails to convey the zest and forcefulness that characterized the gay liberation movement of the 1970's. Braun does his best with the material - he and Sullivan give fine performances in their own right - but his character lacks the sheer dynamism that might have elevated proceedings to a whole new level of achievement. Despite its flaws, however, THE TRIP is one of the most romantic gay films to emerge from independent US cinema in many years, and is heartily recommended. Lovely music score by Steven Chesne.

Citizen X (1995) (TV)
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Grim drama, based on a shocking true story, 28 April 2005


Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Sound format: Dolby Stereo

1980's Russia: The true story of a low-paid forensics expert (Stephen Rea) and his struggle to overcome the paranoia and bureaucracy of his Communist bosses whilst searching for serial killer Andrei Chikatilo (Jeffrey DeMunn), who tortured, killed and cannibalized dozens of young people and children over a period of eight years.

Anchored by Rea's committed performance as the dogged pathologist-cum-detective who risked his reputation and livelihood in pursuit of Russia's most prolific mass murderer, CITIZEN X - a conflation of events outlined in Robert Cullen's book 'The Killer Department' - points the finger of blame at an unyielding political system which allowed a monster to operate virtually unhindered for almost a decade. Veteran Brit actor Joss Ackland essays the role of a hardline Communist official whose allegiance to the State proves the single biggest obstacle to the apprehension of Chikatilo, while Donald Sutherland suffers manfully as the only high-ranking officer prepared to assist Rea's investigation, at great personal sacrifice.

Writer-director Chris Gerolmo's bleak but compelling film marshals a wealth of information, conveyed for the most part through dialogue rather than action, as the body count rises and the authorities struggle to hide their secrets from the outside world. Crucially, Chikatilo is portrayed as a desperate man, trapped in appalling social conditions (he's regularly humiliated by workmates and lives with a shrewish, loveless wife), whose repressed emotions and psychopathic tendencies find expression in appalling acts of violence (depicted mostly in long shot, with the worst mutilations occurring off-screen). Fine technical credits, excellent performances, including Max von Sydow in a small - but pivotal - cameo role.

9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Sweet-natured comedy hits all the right grace notes, 27 April 2005

"Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss"

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)

Sound format: Dolby Stereo

An LA photographer (Sean Hayes) falls madly in lust with an aspiring model (Brad Rowe) who's been hired to pose in a series of pictures inspired by old-time Hollywood movies. But Hayes receives mixed signals from the object of his desire - is he gay, or isn't he? - which leads to complications of the heart...

Described as a 'trifle' by writer-director Tommy O'Haver (ELLA ENCHANTED), this unassuming confection asks little more of its audience than to enjoy the scenery (both geographical and human!) and to pine along with its luckless protagonist as he pursues the hunk of his dreams. Those familiar with Hayes' outrageous turn in TV's "Will & Grace" may be disappointed by his restraint as a bland, scatterbrained idealist who learns the hard way that the course of true love never ran smoothly, especially in LA. Spiced with dream sequences that recreate moments from Hollywood's 'golden age' (most impressively, an Astaire-Rogers dance routine between Hayes and Rowe to the strains of Petula Clark, with drag queens on backing vocals!), the film pays affectionate tribute to the movies of a bygone era, movies which inspire the leading character on his never-ending quest for perfect happiness. Watch out for the magical scene in which Hayes and Rowe share a bed for purely platonic reasons, only to end up touching each other by 'accident'...

Also starring Meredith Scott Lynn (STANDING ON FISHES), Richard Ganoung (PARTING GLANCES), Paul Bartel (EATING RAOUL), Carmine D. Giovinazzo (IN ENEMY HANDS), and Warhol 'superstar' Holly Woodlawn (WOMEN IN REVOLT) as a musical attraction at the gayest party in town! Beautiful widescreen cinematography by Mark Mervis (HELLBENT).

12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Sex, violence and soap opera melodramatics, 26 April 2005


Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Sound format: Mono

Abandoned by his American lover, a naive country boy (Alan Paule) seeks his fortune in Manila, where he's drawn into a world of erotic dancing, prostitution and drug running, leading to betrayal and murder.

Combining elements of melodrama and social commentary, MACHO DANCER marks a return to the subject of male prostitution for director Lino Brocka (MANILA: IN THE CLAWS OF NEON), who paints a picture of the Filippino sex industry as a dangerous arena, fuelled by drugs and police corruption, where innocent young men must compromise their virtue in an effort to stay alive. The densely plotted screenplay (co-written by Ricardo Lee and Amato Lacuesta) is filmed with genuine gusto, though Brocka fails to break any new ground on the subject (see also MIDNIGHT DANCERS and BURLESK KING, both directed by Mel Chionglo), and proceedings are stifled by Paule's amateurish performance as the gullible waif who struggles to keep his head while all around him are succumbing to the worst excesses of their unhappy lifestyle. More successful is ultra-sexy Daniel Fernando (star of Peque Gallaga's influential erotic drama SCORPIO NIGHTS) as a veteran 'macho dancer' whose association with a crooked police officer (Johnny Vicar) results in tragedy and horror, and Jacklyn Jose (YOUR WIFE, MY WIFE) as the stereotypical 'tart with a heart' who succumbs to Paule's dubious charms (yes, another 'gay' film in which the leading man falls for his leading lady!).

The running time is padded with lengthy excerpts from the various stage performances, in which naked young guys oil each other up and gyrate to synth music (Fernando's dance sequence with co-star William Lorenzo is worth the price of admission alone!), though the film's sexual content is fairly coy by western standards. Some of the dramatic sequences are allowed to overrun, and the climax is predictably ironic, but the narrative still packs something of an emotional wallop, and while production values are modest, the film's mixture of beefcake, sentimentality and violence is frankly irresistible.

(Tagalog dialogue)

Red Planet (2000)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bland but watchable sci-fi epic, 25 April 2005


Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)

Sound formats: Dolby Digital / DTS / SDDS

2050: Sent to investigate the failure of a science project on Mars, a group of astronauts become stranded on the 'red planet', at the mercy of a dangerous, malfunctioning robot.

Antony Hoffman's good-looking space opera is a bland but watchable enterprise, toplined by Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Benjamin Bratt and Terence Stamp, in which a group of disparate characters are cast adrift on an alien world and forced to endure a series of life-threatening crises. Hoffman and his scriptwriters (Chuck Pfarrer and Jonathan Lemkin) pull few surprises out of the hat, and some of the computer-generated visual effects are too fake-looking to make much of an impact, though performances and production values are uniformly fine. Released at the same time as Brian DePalma's equally lacklustre MISSION TO MARS (2000).

18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Fine film, but Miramax's US version is cut, 25 April 2005


Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Ultra-Stereo

Used as an unwitting pawn by his pro-revolutionary colleagues, a naive student (Vladmir Cruz) is encouraged to develop a platonic relationship with a flamboyant gay artist (Jorge Perugorria), whose political allegiances have fallen under suspicion. But as their friendship deepens, Cruz is transformed by Perugorria's resistance to the Cuban regime, even as the forces of oppression begin to close around them.

Based on a short story ('El Lobo, el Bosque y el Hombre Nuevo') by screenwriter Senel Paz, STRAWBERRY AND CHOCOLATE is a joyous celebration of life and non-conformity, distinguished by Perugorria's vivid performance as a self-proclaimed 'outsider' who rejects his friend's unquestioning loyalty to the Cuban political system that is stifling their beloved homeland. Their budding relationship is complicated by Perugorria's unrequited love for Cruz, depicted here with dignity and compassion, though it's their political differences which ultimately unite the two characters, even as Perugorria is forced to reap the whirlwind of his public defiance. Also starring Mirta Ibarra as Perugorria's flaky neighbor, who introduces virginal Cruz to the joys of sexual liberation! It isn't a terribly cinematic film, but production values are solid, and the characters are played with such integrity, it hardly matters; this is a movie in which ideas take precedence over action, and the emotional payoff is quite powerful indeed. Beautiful music score by Jose Maria Vitier, too. Directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío.

NB. The original US version (released by Miramax) is missing approximately six minutes of footage. Absent material includes a brief conversation about racism during Cruz's first visit to Perugorria's apartment, and a sad little sequence in which the two characters pretend not to notice each other after meeting by accident in a bookstore.

(Spanish dialogue)

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Light-hearted monster pic with terrific cast, 24 April 2005


Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)

Sound format: Dolby Stereo

Unable to convince anyone that his new neighbor (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire, a desperate teenager (William Ragsdale) summons the help of a reluctant TV 'horror host' (Roddy McDowall) to confront the monsters in their midst...

Bridging the gap between 'traditional' horror and contemporary, effects-driven blockbusters, Tom Holland's enjoyable potboiler saves most of its fireworks for the second half, when the forces of Good and Evil square off against a barrage of monsters and mayhem, courtesy of Richard Edlund's extravagant visual effects. Ragsdale and love interest Amanda Bearse are saddled with stock juvenile characters, but Sarandon relishes his role as the vampiric predator, and McDowall is superb as a faded horror star whose old-fashioned values are shaken to the core by his confrontation with modern evil.

Some observers have discerned a homoerotic subtext in Ragsdale's obsession with his handsome, vampiric neighbor, and also in Sarandon's pursuit of Ragsdale's high school buddy (Stephen Geoffreys, later known as 'Sam Ritter', star of gay adult movies like VIRTUAL STUD and SEX ON THE BEACH), but homophobes are reassured that this particular subtext isn't allowed to interfere with the slam-bang pyrotechnics. Geoffreys employs a range of tics and mannerisms which will infuriate some viewers and endear him to others, but his final sequence - one of the best in the entire movie - is charged with genuine emotion (rendered even moreso by McDowall's extraordinary, wordless performance on the sidelines), and the 'death rattle' which accompanies his departure is one of the creepiest sound effects this reviewer has ever heard! Followed by FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2 (1988).

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Grab-bag of 'supernatural' horrors in space, 23 April 2005


Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)

Sound formats: Dolby Digital / DTS

In 2047, an interstellar rescue team boards a spacecraft in orbit around Neptune which has been missing since disappearing through a black hole, and they're stalked by an alien presence which uses their worst fears against them.

Paul Anderson's overblown space shocker has a great cast (including Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Joely Richardson and Kathleen Quinlan) and some eye-popping space vistas, but the storyline doesn't amount to very much, and the set-pieces are variable in quality and effectiveness. Fantastic visual effects, gruesome "Hellraiser"-style imagery in places. Well made, and certainly watchable, but equally missable.

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