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41 reviews in total 
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8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Excellent, but ending was too abrupt, 26 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw "The Aviator" last night (Dec. 25, 2004), and thought it was exceptional film-making in so many ways. Scorsese captures the Hollywood scene so well, and the plot informed me of things I had never known about Howard Hughes.

DiCaprio carries the show admirably as the very complex Huges, with both zest and enthusiasm and also the ability to effectively capture Hughes' private demons at work. DiCaprio's performance is one of his very best, and I expect him to be nominated for Best Actor.

Cate Blanchett is so dead-on as Katharine Hepburn (yes, I never thought she looked anything like Hepburn, but the way she carries herself, speaks, laughs, etc. is pure Hepburn). Blanchett should be near the top of the list for consideration as Best Supporting Actress.

I also thought Alan Alda's performance as the seedy Senator out to destroy Hughes (and also on the take from Hughes' competitors), was possibly the best he's turned in on the big screen. I would not be surprised to see him nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

In all, the film features top-rate cinematography, direction, sets, a compelling tale, fantastic recreation of the making of old films, and great acting. The problem is with the choice of the ending. It should not have ended the way it did. Its ending would have been effective had the movie started out, as in "Lawrence of Arabia", with the death and funeral of Hughes. But it did not, so I think people not familiar with the final days of his life, will be disappointed -- not with the fascinating film, but the abrupt way it ends.

Breathtaking, Exceptional, 1 May 2003

This was far better than the documentary that I was led to believe I would see. It is one of the best movies from 2002, in my opinion. It strikes me as a cross between "Walkabout" (for obvious reasons) and "The Color Purple" (the emotional bond between the children, the painful depiction of being torn from their loved ones) and any number of movies about Nazis planning the Holocaust (Kenneth Branagh nails his part down with a cold, condescending but scarily earnest "protector" who sincerely believes he is doing the best for the Aborigines by tearing apart their families and trying to make the Aborigine race vanish through intermarriage with whites).

That having been said, this is an uplifting story, with exceptional cinematography and music (by Peter Gabriel) and direction by Phillip Noyce, but even more exceptional performances by the three young girls. None had ever acted before. They were picked from thousands of Aboriginal girls who tried out. Also, please note that David Gullipil (sp?), the teenage Aborigine "walkabout" in the early 1970s "Walkabout", was given a key role as the tracker of the girls.

If you get the DVD version, please see the "making of the movie" special. It is worthwhile viewing on its own. You get to know those three little girls so much better, and you get a terrific sense of genuine humanity from director-producer Phillip Noyce.

Lolita (1997)
62 out of 83 people found the following review useful:
Much better than expected, 16 March 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After seeing the Kubrick version, and thinking no one could ever make a better Humbert than James Mason or a better Lolita than Sue Lyon, I saw this updated version, and I was very impressed. It's actually an improvement.

1. Quilty: Of all the things I did not like about the Kubrick version, it was Peter Sellers' quirkily irritating and totally unclear portrayal of this jerk. The latest version completely downplays the character, other than to show that he is a dark, mysterious, monstrous person who keeps showing up in the shadows. Also, it finally clarifies that Quilty is the very worst of Humbert... It is Humbert without a soul, conscience or any redeeming quality. It becomes clear that he is truly a monster, and makes Humbert look almost saintly by comparison.

2. Humbert and Lolita: While I enjoyed the chemistry between James Mason and Sue Lyon immensely, the chemistry between Jeremy Irons and Dominique Swain is ten times better. This is due mostly to Swain, who basically portrays a part of herself. Her teasing and her battles with Irons are priceless and extremely believable. Also, the Sue Lyon version showed Humbert going after an older teen, not as repugnant as the Dominique Swain version showing Humbert going after an actual underaged teen. Also, in this version, most of the movie is about Humbert and Lolita, and their adventures, misfortunes and run from the law.

3. Humbert himself: For the first time, we see the reason for his obsession, and it isn't entirely pedophilia, as in the case of Quilty. Irons is given many additional scenes to show the conflict between his better nature and his pedophile nature, to show that he understands that what he is doing is not only wrong but will be his downfall.

4. The ending: I prefer the way it ended so much more in this later version. First, Quilty finally, for the first time, comes out of the shadows, and we see him for his repulsive self. Sellers' portrayal was too offbeat to allow us to despise this guy as he should be despised. Also, the final "fini" is so downbeat so as to let you know in no uncertain terms that you have just witnessed a multiple tragedy.

Adrian Lyne did an excellent job of directing, and the music of Ennio Morricone was a great help to the also excellent cinematography.

Enjoyable film!, 18 January 2003

I had a lot of fun watching this movie! Leonardo DiCaprio was given the role of a lifetime -- he is perfect for the role of a teenager who can pass for an adult, and he makes the most of it. Teaming him with Christopher Walken as his father was a stroke of genius, as the two really resemble one another, something that never would have occurred to me. Both of them are great, and Tom Hanks has fun with his role, too.

(I find it interesting that the Hanks role was offered first to James Gandolfini, but he had to turn it down due to his commitments to "The Sopranos". I can imagine what a great comic turn Gandolfini would have had with this role as the perplexed, straight-laced FBI agent.)

And Steven Spielberg, who inherited this film from other directors, took it and made it into a truly enjoyable experience. It is probably the lightest, funniest Spielberg movie ever.

Stimulating, 12 January 2003

One of the more thought-provoking movies in a long time. N. Cage has one of his best roles ever, and makes the most of it. He deserves a nomination for an Oscar, as does M. Steep and C. Cooper. Very original, strange but one of those movies that actually challenges you to think about life, all our options and opportunities in life and how we use them or let them slide by.

Oh by the way, it's also very funny! Very clever to start while "Being John Malkovich" is still being filmed.

0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Delightfully surprised, 21 December 2002

I happened across this on Turner Movie Channel the other evening. It was shown in widescreen. I didn't recognize the musicians at first, and then I saw this great drummer who was also singing, and really belting out the songs! It was Leroy Helm, who played Loretta Lynn's Daddy in "Coal Miner's Daughter".

Then I heard the interviewer, and I recognized that voice. "Damn, that's Martin Scorsese!" I said out loud.

I was sorry I came in late on this, because the music was fantastic, and it was a thoroughly fascinating documentary about rock music. There were so many late 70's rock stars singing, and I was just sorry that Linda Ronstadt and Kris Kristofferson weren't part of it.

6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Ice Cold, 4 November 2002

I went into the theatre expecting to be either entertained or challenged in my thinking. Nothing happened. I take it that this was a comedy, a black comedy. But even in black comedies, people laugh. No one laughed. People with full buckets of popcorn were getting up in the middle of the movie and leaving. It had occurred to me to do the same, something I have never done. I found nothing insightful or even artistic about this, unless you think that walking out of a theatre feeling chilled to the bone by a set of characters you wanted to have some feelings for, but you can find no reason to feel for them -- if this is artistic, then art sucks. This was not art. It was a self-indulgent wallowing in pity for shallow, spoiled people who deserved no pity.

If you waste your money on this movie, as I did, don't say you weren't warned. Again, I had high expectations of this film. God, I hate film reviewers who think anything ice cold must certainly be art.

P.S.: There was only one good performance in the entire movie, laden with great performers -- that of Kieran Culkin. So what were Susan Sarandon, Ryan Phillipe, Claire Danes and Jeff Goldblum thinking when they got into this?

The Others (2001)
The Ultimate Haunted House-Ghost Story!, 2 November 2002

I have for a long time had a lot of problems with the haunted house or ghost-in-the-house type movie. There is generally way too much screaming, gore, special effects, and worst of all, these movies tend to take their ridiculous premises way too seriously.

The exception has always been "Poltergeist", because so much warmth and humor was part of the story of a middle-class American family under siege in their nice suburban home, and because it definitely had some really scary moments. Thank you, Mr. Spielberg, one more time!

So, when I first saw "The Others", I was not expecting much. Was I ever blown away! First: Nicole Kidman gives one of the best performances of her career in this movie -- better even than "To Die For" -- so why was she nominated for an Oscar for that pathetic role in "Moulin Rouge"? Second: This movie throws out all the other haunted house and ghost story cliches. The premise of the story is actually quite simple and believable if you believe in ghosts, and it cannot be repeated here. See it and enjoy it. There is no blood or gore. There are, quite frankly, no special effects. It is just a great story, within the confines of a ghost story and a haunted house setting, with a dynamite twist ending, with fantastic acting from the entire cast (especially Kidman as the strictly religious, super-control-freak mother of two very different children, and kudos to the little girl who portrays the daughter who knows too much and to the elderly lady who plays the wise nanny-housekeeper who also knows more than the mother). Fantastic direction, moody cinematography and spooky music.

This was chilling, shocking and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout, and I was watching it in my own home! I saw it again tonight, and it still is every bit as fascinating and chilling.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
overrated, 24 October 2002

OK, the cinematography and the art direction and sets, combine to give a fascinating backdrop to a promising mystery-horror story. But the story is, frankly, stupid. And the plot is extremely slow, ponderous and pretentious. Often you feel you've seen that gloomy scene before, and before, and before. And when it's all over, you wonder: What the hell was that really all about? Was it worth 2 1/2 hours of "mystery" only to learn something that is ridiculous?

Titanic (1997)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
This movie is FAR better than the imdb rating!, 8 October 2002

Previously, I wrote that I loved "Titanic", cried at its ending (many times over), and I'm a guy in his 60's. I also wondered about why this great movie, which won so many awards and was applauded by so many critics, was given only a 7.0 rating by users.

Well, I looked at the breakdown of the user ratings. While 29.0% of all votes gave it a 10 rating, 10.7% gave it a 1 rating. These 10.7% of these irrational imdb users, in effect, pulled the overall rating down to 7.0.

In my previous comments, I blamed this very unusual voting pattern (a sudden surge in 1 ratings, with a high 10 rating, dropping only gradually and then suddenly reversing course and jumping at the 1 rating level) on only one thing: hatred for Leonardo DiCaprio. Believe me, I've tuned into enough chat rooms to see the banter by young people (young men, mostly), who defame him left and right. They absolutely hate the man, and they will have no part in giving him any credit in "Titanic". (To answer one other user: I am NOT talking about someone who just really doesn't like the movie that much, and gave it a 5 or a 6, etc. Everyone has, and is entitled to, his/her own taste. But no one can convince me that the imdb rating of only 7.0 overall for "Titanic", pulled to that level by an inordinate number of ridiculous 1 ratings, is a fair reflection of the overall motion picture.)

Let me demonstrate my point by comparing the imdb user voting pattern of "Titanic" to 5 randomly chosen box office and critical "bombs" (there are many more, but these 5 will prove my point). "Heaven's Gate" (1980) was pulled from the theaters quickly after a very poor box office showing, and imdb voters' ratings were: 23.2% 10 ratings and 9.2% 1 ratings (overall rating of 6.1). "Big Top Pee-wee" (1988) got 4.3% 10 ratings and 9.9% 1 ratings (overall rating of 4.5). "Cat People" (1982) got 6.1% 10 ratings and 2.6% 1 ratings (overall rating of 5.8). "Blind Date" (1987) got 3.0% 10 ratings and 2.8% 1 ratings (overall rating of 5.3). "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (1986) got 4.4% 10 ratings and 3.7% 1 ratings (overall rating of 5.2). WHAT DO ALL OF THESE FILMS HAVE IN COMMON WITH "TITANIC"? ALL OF THE PERCENTAGES OF THEIR 1 RATINGS ARE LOWER !!!! THAN "TITANIC", AND NONE OF THESE STINKERS EVER WAS NOMINATED FOR A SINGLE AWARD. Again, "Titanic" got 10.7% 1 ratings! Compare that to the other 5 movies I just mentioned.

Can there be any explanation other than the hatred of Leo factor?

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