Reviews

24 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Big Fish (2003)
6/10
big fish - small return
13 January 2004
One word: "cute". The movie is cute, the characters are cute, the moral is cute... damn, mr. burton, you went soft!

Visually the movie is strong, and i think it was well done all around, but as the third act started i was wondering where all this was going. While it did start to loss me, the ending grabbed me and got me back. It wrapped it all up very nicely and drove the message home in a pretty powerful way.

With that said, and while there were several enjoyable "burton" moments, i just felt like i was watching a "nice, cute" kids movie. Why did they bother with the pg-13 rating? Cut 3 swear words out and about 5 seconds of film, and this thing is PG and more directed at its target audience. I really am a fan of Mr. Burton's work, but i think "beetle juice" was edgier. And i read that someone thought the movie was violent? Did i miss something?

Its nice, its sweet, its sentimental and gets a few laughs; but i have to say that i expected more. My vote: less cute, more burton.
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Love Actually (2003)
7/10
This is some good cheesy love, actually...
17 November 2003
Going beyond the typical love story and the dreaded "chic flick" label is always tough. Essentially, there has to be a certain amount of "feel-good" cheesy stuff that makes these movies sappy and lovable. I was happily surprised to see this film, what may be wrongly classed as a "chic flick", having equal parts of comedy/drama and a great balance of "cheese" and reality to make it thoroughly enjoyable.

The visual tie-in of the Airport arrivals and the line that "Love is actually all around" is really poignant. After that, each story represents a piece of the spectrum of how powerful this love can be. What you end up with is a lot of fun, and hardly any opportunities for the story to drag; it clips along and entertains throughout.

If this movie was filmed in the US, they would have plucked one story out of it and cast Sandra Bullock and the dude of the month, and it would have been total garbage. (Gotta love the portrayal of the US president, hilarious ;)
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7/10
the worst is the best
22 July 2002
Come on people - it's part seven for god sakes! Of course it is going to be one of the worst movies of all time, but that's what makes it so great. But what I think people are missing is that this is one of the funniest squeals of them all. The effects are pretty good and the kills are top notch. (the sleeping bag against the tree [also relived in Jason X] has to one of the best of all times) Some of the greatest nonsense ever.
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5/10
Everybody loves Spielberg...
29 June 2002
...except for me. Well I don't hate the guy; he has made some of the best films of all time, but also some of the worst. This one falls somewhere in-between. I did enjoy parts of the film and the effects, but it did fall short of my expectations. But its not all Steve's fault, I would have to blame Scott Frank's script for most of the flaws.

How many times did we have to hear, "My father once told me…" or "Some-one once said…"; did every character have to have at least one line of grand insightfulness? And I guess I never really bought Cruise's character to be this distraught, unbalanced individual. It all seemed too cut-and-dry for me (well, it's a Spielberg). The film also never seemed very confident in its story telling. Taking a very serious premise (though far fetched) and adding in campy violence and a few gross-outs, it just seemed totally out of place. I also thought just about every bit character was completely over done. I could not stand that wheel chair cop guy, not only was he cheesy – but in a wheel chair, in 2054 – when humans could get a new pair of eye balls if they wanted? Come on people…
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Promises (2001)
9/10
Incredible
6 May 2002
It was so poignant to see this film now, with all the strife that is taking place in Israel. To say that this film is a must see is an understatement; it should be mandatory for all Palestinians and Jews to see it together. We can only hope that its projects like this that will open the rest of the world's eyes and let them understand what life is like there. People who only watch CNN in the states will never understand what it means to be apart of this world. It's just too bad that so many millions will be in line to see "Star Wars" next week, and maybe less than 1% of those people will see this film. In a perfect world, it would be the other way around. But until the generations to come find a way to stop harboring hatred and to stop continuing a way of repression and violence, this is the world we will be in. It will take a long time, but I hope some day we will all be able to put our religious differences aside, and realize that we are ALL right.

What an inspiring and terrifying film. It was so well documented, almost every scene and every word is important. A brave project with a wonderful message; I can't say anything bad about it.
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Green Snake (1993)
6/10
What the #$%! did I just watch!
28 March 2002
This film was wacky, weird, and just plain nutty. It absolutely amazes me how Hong Kong Cinema, and Asian cinema in general, tries to pull off such lavish and fantastic movies on such small budgets. I can only imagine how much money a Hollywood exec. would think of throwing into a picture like this. When some guy is China is saying, "Hmmm, you need a giant talking snake, huh? Give me $20 and a new bicycle and u got it by next week."

What a wild ride, (got lucky and saw it on the big screen) but what would you expect from Tsui Hark. The guy is just awesome with the camera, its so kinetic, it can make the weak sick. The story line of this movie is also kinetic - part myth, part fantasy, part romance, part comedy, with a little bit of kung-fu thrown in as well. I loved the setting; the canal town, it was really beautiful. The effects wern't bad either.

The whole move is basically about the struggles of female sexuality in a male world. I think the points of the story are great, but the action is just so nuts, its almost hard to watch. Seeing Maggie Cheung and her co-star slither around on their bellies was really funny. The two were quite sexy together, and there were some fantastic scenes in the movie, but, I think it was just a little too much for me to take. I was a bit disappointed because I was hoping for a little more action than the silly comedy. Fans of the fantasy genre should get a kick out of it. But, I'd rather see some Wu-tang clan stuff, or just watch Maggie Cheung for 2 hours. (oh - the title song will haunt you!)
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8/10
Top-notch Horror
8 October 2001
A fierce, violent film, the Devil's Backbone packs a serious punch. Del Toro's direction is superb. The tension and suspense are paced perfectly. Unlike most American horror films, the situations never seem forced or too over the top. The story is also great. The setting allows for many war references, as we see the internal struggle of the orphanage juxtaposed with the war is Spain raging beyond its gates. The symbol of the large, disabled bomb that stuck into the ground in the middle of the orphanage's court yard, becomes a center piece of the action, and also foreshadows the violent sequences that are to take place in the films stunning climax. All this is supported by a near perfect cast, especially the two lead boys who both deliver great performances. No character seems to be incomplete, they are all well written and each important to the story.

This film was getting compared to "the Sixth Sense", but frankly, it blows it away. This film is much scarier and much more polished for an adult audience. One of the best horror films I have seen in along time. Believe me, there are plenty of times to wince and throw your hands over your eyes. This film is worth hunting for.
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Waking Life (2001)
10/10
Truly amazing
8 October 2001
There have been maybe a handful of films throughout time that could actually transcend the screen as you watched them. What I mean to say is, to witness something that is more than just film, more than just a story with a plot, theme and characters. Waking Life is one of these special films; it is a series of powerful ideas placed into a beautifully painted package.

I was lucky enough to see this film on its opening night at the Chicago International Film Festival. It was great to see Richard Linklater introduce the film and then answer questions afterward. Some of the most insightful things he spoke of was his collaborations with the many actors on the dialog. As he came up with specific characters, he chose the actors that best fit the scene, and then allowed them to bring their own ideas into the dialog. (ie: the scene with the scientist who discusses his theory on evolution was actually a bio-chemist discussing his real ideas) I think that this allowed the film to take on a very real identity, as you plunge into the complex ideas presented, and then become mesmerized by the beautiful animation. I can't wait to see this film again. I might have to view it a few more times to be sure, but I think this is one of the best films I have ever seen. >
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Jidu zhongfan (1998)
7/10
A good movie, but not an "action" film.
20 August 2001
Ringo Lam has made a decent drama here, not an action film. The only real action sequence comes at the end of the movie, and while it is very strong, the rest of the film deals with the ideas of loyalty, friendship, and morality. The main character is trying to start a new life after just being released from prison, he was convicted of murder at a young age, but after some strings were pulled (without his knowledge) he is free after 12 years. But before he can start this new life, the triad pulls him back in, and wants him to commit another murder, or face the consequences. What ensues is an "on the run", fugitive type story, that has our main character fleeing from the triad, the cops, and his best friend. A pretty solid film that tests the themes that are present in many Hong Kong stories. A tough, gritty film with a great "action" ending, and of course, a strong performance from Simon Yam.
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6/10
Bullets and kung-fu too…
20 August 2001
…make Mission Kill a slightly better than average Hong Kong action flick. The plot seems pretty simple at first: young woman cop + side kicks battle evil drug dealers and a team of deadly assassins, but with the help of Simon Yam, a few surprises are added to make the film that much more enjoyable. With an obviously low budget, the filmmakers were able to pull off some well choreographed action sequences involving good gun-play and strong kung-fu. Moon Lee is great as she kicks lots of butt and still adds some comic relief. If you have a mind for some low-budget, fun action, this film is worth a look.
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6/10
A new look at the same old story.
20 August 2001
Sworn Brothers stands out from the crowd of Hong Kong films with the same themes because it's just a bit more brutal, and just a bit more entertaining. The name says it all, "sworn brothers" one is a cop – the other a crook, bla, bla, bla, uncle gets hurt, brothers go to war. So the plot is not new, but with some exciting action sequences and over the top violence, the film rises slightly above the endless HK flicks that deal with the same subjects of honor, loyalty and family. (OK – it's no John Woo flick or anything, it's just fun.)
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4/10
Silly nonsense
3 August 2001
What a disappointment. Someone keeps forgetting that in movies there are things called "characters". These "characters" should be written well and portrayed with good acting so as the audience that has spent its hard earned money may relate to them, believe in them, and ultimately give a damn about them. Poor Mr. Burton, this film has but a trace of his talent. It you love bad dialogue and some cool looking dudes in Ape suits – this movie is for you. The best part was when Bubbles got his but kicked. I'm sorry, but not even a descent performance by Tim Roth could save this plotless film. I haven't seen the original since I was a kid, but from what I remember there were a few characters in it that people gave a damn about. Two thumbs down.
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The Visitors (1972)
5/10
Unexpectedly Savage
5 February 2001
I recently saw this obscure film on cable and was not ready for the disturbance it set in me afterwards. It is a basic retelling of many story's we've seen before, (old army buddies come back after the war to seek redemption on the friend that did them wrong) but it was a bit of a stand out in the it has a very unexpected, shocking ending. It explores the violence and the tension of the situation well, moving slowly and methodically, which works for a while but then falls short, as you have to say "enough all ready" and get on with it.

Decent performance by a young James Woods and also by Steve Railsback in his first film (who later goes on to star if the cult classic "Life Force". All and all, if you can get past the amateurish production value, an OK exploration of violence and invasion that just takes forever to get going. If you liked Michael Haneke's "Funny Games" (though I particularly didn't) I would recommend this film.
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6/10
Some very stark, disturbing cinema
14 September 2000
Warning: Spoilers
This film, the second feature film by Erick Zonca, has a very rough, unrefined edge to it. Even more so than his first feature `The Dream Life of Angels'. The style is very similar, the loose camera, the natural settings (very French cinema) but the writing seemed to be lacking a great deal of compassion and depth that `..Dream Life..' had. At first this put me off a bit, but after some consideration of the subject matter, I think what Zonca has done is something truly unique.

In `..Dream Life..'(A wonderfully acted and written film, better all around than `The Little Thief'.) our main character and main supporting character are both female. I believe this is the reason for the film having more emotional depth. The journey of life we go on with these female characters is much more emotional motivated, and while we see that the characters are disturbed, they are by no means ignorant. The same basic ideas are present in both films, (just like in Zonca's short film `Alone') the characters are trying to find themselves, and how they fit in and try to become a part of life. But the reason `Little Thief' lacks this depth of emotion is because our main character `Esse' lacks it as well. He is totally ignorant, as are all the characters around him. Here, Zonca has created a totally dominating, masculine world. All the characters are male, and have no concern or understating of themselves emotionally. They spend their time trying to prove to each other who is strong, who has more power. So as we watch `Esse' spend his time thieving and learning how to box, we have no window into his thoughts, we just WATCH him slowly throw his life away.

So, here we have two films with very similar subject matter, even similar type of characters, but two totally different ways of telling a story. For this reason I liked `The Little Thief' and think what Zonca has done here is genuine. For what the film did lack in emotional depth on screen, it defiantly made up for it by evoking some powerful emotions from its audience members. (There is one very disturbing scene that stuck with me for a few days after, I don't want to be a spoiler, so that's all I'll say.)
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True Romance (1993)
9/10
A ridiculous masterpiece.
28 August 2000
This over-the-top, violent, hilarious movie has to be at the top of anybody's list who loves the outrageous style of Tarantino (this is defiantly some of his best work). One of the best casts EVER assembled, it's a perfect mix of seasoned actors with relative newcomers (it's great to see a young James Gandolfini and Michael Rapaport). I think it's also safe to say that you will see some of Christian Slater's best work, along with one of Gary Oldman's greatest characters, Drexler the pimp.

The story does start slow, but that is all part of the films appeal as it develops the romance between Slater and Arquette, then slams us into a full blown Tarantino world full of surprises and mayhem. Look for some great cameos – some cool comic references – Elvis sightings – the John Woo homage – and lots of other insanity with excellent directing by Tony Scott . Not many films can hold together with this much intensity, but True Romance really delivers at all times.
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Dinosaur (2000)
6/10
A kids movie with BITE!
21 May 2000
Dinosaur is a very cool kids movie, that will probably scare the heck out of a lot of kids. It's nice to see a Disney movie with NO singing for once, and second this film has some real action to it – almost as much as heavy hitter `Gladiator' and certainly more than the poorly done `Romeo Must Die'. I thinks it's cause you walk into those movies expecting tons of action and violence, and then can't help but be let down. With a Disney movie, any action you get is totally unexpected and ultimately appreciated.

The animation is just incredible, the combination of live action backgrounds and animated characters works great. Some scenes are questionable, but the movement of the creatures and the scenes at night and in the rain are flawless – a must see for the animation achievement alone.

Oh course, it's a Disney movie, so the story is very simplistic as are the characters. But combine the animation and the action of the film and it's just a fun movie, and a push in the right direction for Disney to use their huge budgets for some move powerful images. It's no Toy Story, but I give Dinosaur a nice solid 6.
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10/10
Pure Genius!
21 May 2000
The Big Lebowski has to be for of the single funniest films I have ever seen. I love the Coen brothers and think their sense of comedy and character is one of best in Hollywood. As in most of their films, they deal with a lot of seemingly simplistic story lines that seen erratic and confusing at first, but you have to dig into their movies, see then a few time, and watch the magic of the story unfold.

The characters in this film are all incredibly done. They are so well written you can taken any of them right out of the movie and they would still be more interesting alone then the entire cast of characters in most Hollywood movies. The cast is flawless – the dialogue hilarious (like I said, you have to see this movie more than once, the humor is fast and the dialogue often overlaps, so its hard to catch every thing the first time) and the direction is awesome. Not many films can boast that them have covered all the bases so completely.

Oh course, the Coen brothers have unusual ways of telling a story – here they have kind of turned it into an Old West Legend, as the narrator tells us of the man named `The Dude'. Of all the awesome characters in the movie – not taking anything away from Jeff Bridges - I have to just love John Goodman the most. He is just so under rated – and so incredible funny, I can't believe that he is not used more in Hollywood as a total manic. He is the best!

If you see this movie, sit back and watch every scene unfold, and you will find a bit of humor in every single scene of the movie. And what you are left with is a testament to the early 90's; commentary on the human condition, war, politics, social standards, and some truly hilarious moments all through out. This movie will be a cult classic and should be praised, thanks to the genius of the Coen brothers.
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Gladiator (2000)
3/10
The big epic that forgets about character.
14 May 2000
OK, everybody loves this movie, which can only make me wonder, why? Why has America become so easy to fool? We see the trailer for a film like `Gladiator' and get all pumped up and slap our $8.00 down as soon as we can. But after sitting through 2 ½ hours of a slow, unoriginal story, I could feel nothing but disappointment.

Yes, I will admit that there are some cool scenes (the first fight in the Roman Coliseum is by far the best), but that's not enough to make a good movie. We start with an ok plot, but one key element is missing – CHARACTER. None of these characters have any substance to them at all. They are all flat, stereotypical boring characters that have little to nothing of importance to say. I won't blame the actors, I think all of them have shown what they are capable of with a good script, but with a bad one – not even the most talented of actors can save a film. So, that is probably the biggest problem here, a poor script that lacks true character development and interesting dialogue.

But the direction is also poor. It was like Ridley was trying to do a little `Saving Private Ryan' but did not succeed in doing it nearly as well. To compare it to a similar film - `Braveheart' – we see why `Braveheart' was a much more interesting film, because it had a great bunch of characters that the audience identified with and cheered on. `Gladiator' just could not deliver, and boy – was the ending disappointing. I'm sorry people – if anybody can tell me why this is such a movie, please do so, but this movie just reinforces for me the idea that Hollywood will always undermine the intelligence of its audience. `Gladiator' gets a big fat 3 from me.
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1/10
Romeo Should Have Died...
13 April 2000
DISAPPOINTING, completely. This movie is so wrongly billed as an `action' movie it makes me sick.

I've just been introduced to Jet Li recently and was excited to see the trailers for this movie.

WOW – what a bunch of nonsense. This movie had more monologs in it then a Spielberg flick. What a waste of film, and to think we get about 3 fight sense with Jet Li - and the only real good one is at the end, the rest is all wasted on trying to make Jet the next Jackie Chan. What a marketing scam… Hollywood never fails to make a bunch of promises it can't keep, and this poor excuse of an action movie is a great example. Jet Li will be a huge star, but nobody will ever talk about this movie again, at least I hope not.
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I Stand Alone (1998)
8/10
Warning: not for the weak, of body or mind.
24 March 2000
A brilliantly disturbing film, unlike anything I have ever seen. This is an incredibly detailed account of how a disturbed human mind rationalizes everyday reality. It's like looking right into the mind of a man pushed to the brink, a man capable of anything. The film darkly builds as we watch the main character fall lower and lower, becoming more and more desperate. I love a movie that can capture an emotion so strongly, and this film defiantly grabs you and does not let go. The tension literally drips off the screen making it difficult at times to take, but like a car crash, you can't take your eyes off of it.

Noe's direction is excellent. The pace is slow and methodical and cut up with a surprising sound affect that makes you jump almost every time you hear it. This just adds to the disturbing, uneasy atmosphere that the film creates.

Its a trip that not all people should take, but those of you how are not easily offended, and have a strong stomach and a good eye for art, you should go far out of you way to see this film.
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Jacob's Ladder (I) (1990)
8/10
A visual masterpiece of horror and conspiracy.
21 March 2000
This is easily one of Adrian Lyne's best films. Tim Robbins is excellent and the visual affects were just awesome. I saw this movie for the first time in the theatre and it blew me away. I've seen it many times after that, purely for the visuals that were done so well. The plot twists and turns as it spirals downward slowly revealing the truth and keeps you guessing all the way to the surprising ending. This is a dark, violent, beautiful movie that I recommend to all people who love horror, and just a smart story that will keep you in suspense until the very end.
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Hardware (1990)
7/10
This movie is not as bad as it sounds
21 March 2000
This is a very cool little sci-fi flick. OK, it's no Aliens, but it has a lot of really interesting things happening. First off it has a slick look, filmed very well by first time director/writer Richard Stanley, a lot of strobes and brilliant colour give it a perfect setting for the `robot goes crazy' plot. I also liked the post-apocalyptic landscape, which I think worked well along with Iggy Pop's narration as `Angry Bob'. It takes a little while to build, but the ending packs a decent punch, along with just enough gratuitous violence to keep me happy. There are also plenty of religious references and imagery to look for, all centering around the `MARK 13 Cyborg.' So, if you like sci-fi, I think you should give this movie a try, it's a pretty cool ride with some very cool imagery.
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Scream 3 (2000)
2/10
What the hell is wrong with everybody?
15 February 2000
OK - It's very simple... if you like real movies - you will hate this one, if you loved Scream I - you will hate this one, if you are 12 yrs. old and going to the mall to see a dumb movie like this is one of the most important things you do all week - then you will LOVE this movie.

If you have half a brain, don't see this movie. Nuff said (Oh I gave it a 2 cause even though the movie sucked, Parker Posey still rules.)
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Begotten (1990)
8/10
`Begotten' makes `Eraserhead' look like a Disney flick.
1 February 2000
This has to be one of the most beautifully morbid films I have ever seen. Merhige has created a living painting that unfolds with horrific violence, sex, and a minimalist retelling of the life of Jesus Christ. The high contrast and thick layer of grain make you question yourself as to what you are really seeing at times, but the use of texture, combined with the extreme contrast, create an incredible viewing experience. This film is not for everyone. I think you have to keep an open mind and not be so quick to condemn this film for its content, which if extremely rough, but does make a fairly important statement about creation, god and humanity. Whether this film is a work of art, or shock value trash is open to discussion.
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