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29 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Holes (contains spoilers), 15 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(1) When Kitty drops the crystals out of the helicopter, they will eventually end up in the water. How come nothing happens?

(2) Why is Lex completely oblivious / unconcerned about the potential shuttle catastrophe? Granted, it wasn't critical to that phase of his plan, but one suspects for continuity he would have at least known about it.

(3) Was the bank robber connected with Lex or not? This is never clarified.

(4) How is Superman able to return to the island / continent without suffering any effects from the kryptonite?

(5) Why is Jason's supposed super-power(s) limited to exactly one incident (the piano)? Why can't he help his "parents" get out of the sinking pantry?

(6) What happens to Lois and Richard? Do they stay together? Does Richard find out about Jason?

(7) When we first go to the Kent farm, there is a truck pulling away from the house and someone says "Goodbye, Martha." Since's Martha's husband is dead, who is driving the truck?

(8) How in the world is Lois able to SURVIVE getting knocked around in the plane, let alone emerge looking like she just stepped out of a beauty parlor? Did Kate Bosworth have this in her contract or something?

6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
A curiosity and very little else, 28 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've read just about every major book about the Manhattan Project. Most people know what it was, but few people understand the depth and breadth of the project. Its scope was immeasurably massive -- rivaled in US history perhaps only by the space program of the 1960's.

There were -- literally -- MILLIONS of people involved from all walks of life at numerous sites (most clandestine) around the country, each involved in a specific and different aspect of the project that they couldn't talk about to the person sitting in the cubicle next to them, much less their family. The logistics are overwhelming, particularly given the considerations of wartime communication, security and transportation in the 1940's.

As an example -- my colleague's father was a carpenter who worked for one of the companies that had a contract with the federal government for the Manhattan Project. His job was to supervise a crew of about 30 other carpenters, who were responsible for manufacturing forms for the pouring of concrete for the massive research installations at Hanford, Washington. That's "all" he did, six days a week for nearly two years. These carpenters needed food, housing, sanitary facilities, hospitals and materials just as much as did Oppenheimer and his crowd at the top of the pyramid. Just think about it! That being said, it's simply impossible to do the subject justice in a 2-hour movie. In defense of Joffe, however, I would say that they had an impossible task, particularly since he chose to have a diverse screenplay with multiple plots, multiple angles, and multiple characters. What, exactly, was he thinking, and how could he be so arrogant to think that this would work? That's Hollywood, I guess.

FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY has so many flaws that it would take a book to list them all. Horrible casting. Dreadful (and politically-motivated) writing. Bad science. The portrayals of Groves and Oppie are particularly inaccurate and downright galling. Notwithstanding the screenplay's all-too-obvious agenda, it is STILL incredibly bland and sloppy.

These flaws have been listed elsewhere on IMDb, but I was particularly struck by the fact that the scientists had so much time on their hands -- softball, horseback riding, parties, semi-formal dinners, ballet, etc., not to mention romance, and of course circulating political petitions. According to FM&LB, if these great brains had gotten off their duffs and actually spent some time in the lab instead of seducing Laura Dern, we might have won the war before D-Day.

One final gripe -- FM&LB mentions that "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" were the code names of the two atomic bombs, but it doesn't mention that these names were a semi-good-natured jab at Groves ("Fat Man", for heavy stature) and Oppenheimer ("Little Boy," for his slight stature). Another reason Paul Newman should not have been in this movie...

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Better Off Dead -- 15 Years Later, 3 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***Some cryptic spoilers possibly ahead*** In many ways, this is the sequel to BETTER OFF DEAD (1985). Rob / Lane is 15 years older, has a job, but still struggling with relationships. The movies are strikingly similar -- music plays a key role in both; Cusack's character is dumped at the beginning; he finds true love at the end (albeit in BOD with a different person); there's a hodgepodge of bizarre supporting characters that move in and out of the story with, in the end, Rob / Lane and his "true love" being the only ones that are anything close to "normal." There are differences, also, of course -- Rob speaks directly to the audience throughout, something Lane never does. For that reason, HF is a heavier film -- more drama, more "black" comedy, versus BOD with its lighter comedy bordering on slapstick at times, and dramatic elements which are present primarily in the background. Then there's the constant profanity, again perhaps inevitable, but an obvious difference.

Even without making the comparison (unfortunately, for me every Cusack role ends up being inevitably compared to BOD), HF is still rather rough around the edges. Granted, it will have meaning to many, but I found myself halfway through being grateful that I got married young and don't have to worry about all this serial dating / relationship nonsense. Cusack is about my age, so I look at his roles as portraying people my age. I got married at 22 and have never regretted it; the idea of cohabitation with multiple partners without any sense of security of stability is therefore entirely foreign to me. Again, it probably means something to other people in my age group, but I'm personally glad I "missed out" on all that.

My other criticism, alluded to earlier, is that this really isn't a comedy. I don't think I laughed once. On the DVD, I watched the trailer after seeing the movie and laughed out loud. The trailer is a thousand times funnier than the movie itself (and, in fact, contains several scenes that aren't in the final cut, while misrepresenting other scenes). The movie really isn't that funny -- some black comedy, some irony, some clever twists and dialog, but it's really a "heavy" film about struggling in relationships, work, friends, parents and overall identity for twenty- and thirty-somethings.

50 out of 66 people found the following review useful:
Better than Expected, 19 July 2005

Having seen "Torn Curtain" about a year ago, I wasn't all that enthusiastic about seeing another of Hitchcock's "late" works (indeed, his final film). "TC" was absolutely abysmal, as reflected in my comments there, so I had no great expectations for "Family Plot." I was pleasantly surprised, however. Although true Hitchcock buffs may not rank "FP" alongside the "classics" like "Psycho" and "NxNW," "FP" is an evenly-paced film with strong central characters, an interesting supporting cast, good acting, humor, innuendo, mystery and, of course, suspense. A good all-around film by the master in his final effort. It won't leave your palms sweating and your blood running cold, and there are a couple of flaws that a younger Hitch might have caught (I, for one, wonder how Blanche's car got fixed so quickly -- hard to believe it wasn't totaled in the first place).

Nonetheless, Family Plot will hold your attention and keep you guessing until the very end. I'm glad I took the time to seek it out and watch it.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Overlong, overwrought, and over finally, 15 July 2005

I looked forward to seeing GODS AND GENERALS as I had recently read and enjoyed Shaara's book of the same title. I was greatly disappointed that the film was not true to the book's format or balance. The book is a series of chronological vignettes of four Civil War commanders -- two Federal, two Confederate -- Lee, Jackson, Chamberlain and Hancock. Moving from one character to another (with occasional overlap), Shaara has ample time to develop each character and narrate the War's impact on each (social, spiritual, psychological, professional, family, etc.). This is also a very balanced approach, at roughly 50% union and 50% rebel.

In the movie, to begin with, Hancock completely disappears, leaving Chamberlain as the sole and primary union representative. Chamberlain has always been of interest to me as I once lived in the state of Maine, so there was still hope. Unfortunately, Chamberlain's role is rather meager, and with few memorable scenes or lines.

Insteads, the film focuses at least 75% of the time on Stonewall Jackson, with a few cameos of Robert E. Lee and an appearance or two by Chamberlain. Nothing wrong with that -- Stonewall is a near-mythical figure in American history, and well-deserving of the attention. But that's not what GODS AND GENERALS (the book) was about. In other words, if you want to do a biopic of Stonewall, go for it, but don't call it GODS AND GENERALS.

With nearly the entire movie being told from the Confederate perspective, the propaganda is inevitable. Certainly the rebs have the right to rally their troops in the name of "fending off an invasion," as convoluted as that sounds historically (i.e. maintaining their "freedom" so they can keep the institution of slavery). However, the North is never given the on-screen opportunity to clearly define its mission -- Is it to preserve the union? Free the slaves? Cash in on the Southern economy? Certainly, the South fought valiantly, and given equal numbers and resources they would have certainly prevailed (they already had the better field commanders). It's worth honoring that, but not at the expense of the truth.

That the film is ridiculously long is readily apparent. Countless scenes could have been shortened or omitted. And since the characters of Lee and Chamberlain aren't really developed, anyway, those scenes could have been completely left out and the movie renamed STONEWALL.

Watching the DVD, I had hopes that perhaps the experience could be salvaged by the "extras" on the disc. Alas, I was disappointed there, also. In one feature we have Donzaleigh Abernathy (an African-American) insisting that the CW was about "freeing the slaves," with Ronald Maxwell countering that, well, it wasn't, really, but, well, sorta, kinda, and then offering the brilliant historical insight that "had it not been for slavery, we would not have had the Civil War." Thanks for clearing that up, Ron. I had always thought we slaughtered thousands of our countrymen because of candy bars or something.

The only extra feature worth my time was the 14-minute biography of Stonewall Jackson. Unfortunately, this, too was marred by the completely inexplicable and inexcusable shaking camera during the various interviews. Good grief. Ted Turner spent $60 million and he couldn't get a tripod? Really a disappointment and really not worth seeing, once or again. Had they at least followed the format of the book, they could have done something good if not great.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Nothing New Here, 15 June 2004

I had low expectations for this movie, and they were fulfilled. I have read the book (the diary), read the play, seen the play, performed in the play, BEEN TO THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE IN AMSTERDAM -- and, in three hours, the movie added nothing. It's not a bad film, and some would probably enjoy it, but it is far too long to maintain any level of energy, and far too short to do justice to the book or the original play. Add to that the fact that Anne's concluding entries in her diary (as presented in the movie) are totally fabricated, and it's all the more disappointing.

For those who haven't done any of the above, the movie might be worthwhile. I felt it was a waste of three hours. Now that I've seen it, I won't have to see it again.

DIARY was awarded three OSCARS -- one for Shelly Winters' performance, one for art direction, and one for cinematography (B&W). I wasn't overly impressed with Winters' hammy performance, and I'm not entirely convinced she stood out any more than any of the other "supporting" actors (i.e. everyone other than Anne / Millie Perkins). While the art direction was excellent, I can't say that the cinematography was all that impressive, either, although Mellor probably got the nod over the other nominees because he worked successfully on a very restrictive site.

Sometimes I encourage people to see the movie before or after they read the book because the film will add something to the experience of reading it. Not in this case. Then again, how can you possibly hope to add anything to the impact of Anne Frank's diary?

1776 (1972)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
One Complaint, 15 June 2004

The characters are well-developed, the music is lively, and, for all the humor and artistic license, the script is surprisingly accurate in at least the broader details, with parts of the dialogue drawn from actual quotes by the historic individuals. The writers and producers seem to have the general chronology and key events of the Declaration correct.

Even Adams' and Jefferson's rather overt (for 1972) discussion on sexual prowess is palatable. My complaint is really one of irony: I find it odd that the characters feel free to take the Lord's name in vain (Adams' repeated "Good God!" and McNair's equally repetitive "Sweet Jesus!"), yet when actually *referring* to God, they use synonyms ("The Supreme Being" "The Almighty" "Divine Providence").

I suppose it's debatable whether this is the way the Founders actually talked; they probably did. Nonetheless, it was this profanity which jarred an otherwise fairly enjoyable film. Not only was it all totally unnecesaary, but it will keep me from showing it to my kids, where it would have served as a light and reasonably entertaining introduction to that period of history.

Apart from that, it's a good film; not great, but good to have on in the background and to watch in spurts throughout.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Couldn't watch the murder scene, 15 April 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Possible spoilers)

IN COLD BLOOD, both in print and on screen, succeeds in capturing the brutality of murder because it takes time to develop the character, humanity and innocence of the victims, not to mention the pain and anguish suffered by those who are left behind. Thus, it's several degrees removed from a typical murder movie or "slasher" film because you are able to form some type of identity and sympathy with the victims.

Nearly ten years ago, I had a friend who was senselessly murdered at the age of 41, leaving behind a wife and three young daughters. The assailants (there were 4 of them) had thought that he would be carrying a large amount of cash (i.e. thousands), but they only made off with a few hundred dollars. While watching IN COLD BLOOD, I was at first relieved that the actual murders weren't depicted. Then, when they appeared later in the movie as Perry was recreating them for the police, I simply couldn't watch and hit the FF button until they returned to the police car.

Maybe someday I'll go back and watch it, but it was far too real and senselessly brutal for me to endure, not to mention rather "close to home" for me personally. Ironically, it's this realism that makes IN COLD BLOOD stand out as an excellent piece of filmmaking.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Better than I expected, 11 February 2004

This movie is NOT a documentary, nor is it FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. The first hour is bogged down with a rather contrived love story that is almost unbearable. Nonetheless, the final 2/3 of PEARL HARBOR redeems the picture. The love triangle is ultimately resolved somewhat plausibly, with the final scenes actually being rather touching. While obvious liberties were taken with historical accounts for various reasons, the integrity of the film remains intact -- the attack scenes and the American response to Pearl Harbor is authentic in principle, as is the portrayal of FDR and his leadership. The cinematography, including the action scenes, are outstanding and believable, as one would expect for the budget of this picture. Finally, devoting the final hour of the film to the Doolittle raid is a rather satisfying resolution, as it allows the story to come something close to full circle. PEARL HARBOR was rapped in part because of the subpar acting, and there the critics have a point -- Ben Affleck still can't act his way out of a paper bag, but he is fairly well-cast as the stoic, confident fighter pilot. Alec Baldwin is a surprise as Jimmy Doolittle (a rather ironic casting given Baldwin's politics, but he is actually a highlight of the film). The supporting cast is adequate, not sensational, which makes the "slow" scenes a little tedious, but all told a film worth seeing.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Asleep at the Hitch, 22 December 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***semi-spoilers included / nothing too serious***

This movie is awful. It's not Alfred Hitchcock; it's not even somebody trying to be Alfred Hitchcock. For a director known for his tight plots, attention to detail, brilliant and innovative camera angles, unending suspense and getting the most from his actors, TORN CURTAIN fails on all fronts. The pace is so sluggish and uneven that it makes Stanley Kubrick look exciting. The plot is simply ludicrous, with far too many untenable points and downright errors and gaps to list here [Flick a lighter in a house full of natural gas? I doubt it. Leave the party after only one dance and not attract suspicion? Unlikely!]. Hitch and/or his screenwriter(s) simply did not know how to -- or didn't make the effort to try to -- construct a plausible scenario of international intrigue.

The cinematography is average at best, bad at worst. The short shot of Prof. Armstrong (Newman) falling down the stairs is almost cartoonish. The fight scene is thoroughly contrived and so bad it is almost unwatchable.

As for suspense, there is some, but it, like the plot, is uneven to the point where it loses its impact. Most of the suspensful points -- such as Armstrong's and, later, Sherman's (Andrews') motives -- are resolved quickly, and early in the film. TORN CURTAIN lacks the ongoing intensity and emotional absorption of nearly all of Hitch's other films.

Finally, the acting, which is downright dreadful. In addition to Hitch's name above the title, I looked forward to seeing Paul Newman and Julie Andrews perform together during their early years. They try, but even these two great actors cannot redeem this picture. Their performances are uninspiring to the point where they show little interest or emotional attachment to the events around them. Paul Newman doesn't seem convinced that he himself is a brilliant scientist, so how could he convince the East Germans? Julie Andrews fares a little better, but is still annoying in this role that, some say, she didn't really want. The supporting cast, unfortunately, is far worse, made up of wooden characters who are entirely stereotyped and performed by either very bad actors or, at best, actors who Hitch made no effort to inspire. The only brief glimpses of humanity are in Dr. Koska's daughter and the farmer / PI agent neither of whom, unfortunately, appear on screen long enough to redeem this amateurish production.

Was Hitch lazy, inept, or distracted in his later years? Did he need more help? He was 66 at the time. Was it a bad time for him to start new collaborations? TORN CURTAIN raises some questions. In fairness, I have not seen his final three films, but having just seen the film which preceeded them, I am not exactly in a mad rush to check them off my list.

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