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stefaan_vanbockstal

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Better than I expected, 27 August 2004

Gwyneth Paltrow can act, there is no discussing about that, she did some great movies like "Shakespeare in Love" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley".

But what happened afterwards? She made "Bounce", "Possesions" and "A View from the Top", not that good stuff in my opinion. Shallow Hal is one of the better films that she recently made. Although it was very funny at times, it had some dull moments, but the message was beautiful: "the inside of a person count". I don't like Jason Alexander, but he did his best - still I don't see him as an A-list actor. Jack Black is way to scary to be seen as a great actor, but I look forward to his performance in "King Kong".

There is certainly hope for Gwyneth, I guess "Proof" and "Sky Captain" will be great movies, and I heard some great things about "Sylvia". But I hope that she will stop talking about where she will live 'London, Spain, New York" and also stop about the willing to stop acting to become a full-time mother .... She should better focus on acting, I am sure she is a great person and actress to, but sometimes it's too much for me and others.

Still I give this movie 7,5/10, because of the good directing and exceptable performances.

Dogville (2003)
Lauren Bacall is back in this masterpiece of Lars Von Trier, 9 July 2003

I had to see this movie for three reasons. 1- Because this movie is from Lars Von Trier and his ‘Dancer in the Dark' just shocked me in every sensible way.

2- Nicole Kidman is great in controversial films, just as in ‘The Hours' 3- But my principal reason is ‘Lauren Bacall', there are not a lot of words for her career, just stunning !

Dogville is a long film, 165 minutes of pure emotions. We have a lot of characters in the movie. All great actors and they all give fine performances. A few names ; Patricia Clarkson, Paul Bettany, Philip Baker Hall, Lauren Bacall and of course Nicole Kidman.

What strikes me the most is the way of filming. It is like theatre a kind of Bertold Brecht's work. White lines and a lot of imaginations were used to make this movie.

Yes, Nicole's performance is good, but don't forget the other ones. They give the best of themselves. There also a lot of rumors around the anti American message. I didn't see a lot of it, only in the credits, there you saw a picture of Richard Nixon. But the real message about America will come in the next movie ; ‘Mandalay'.

The story is quite simple : Grace runs away from her father and she hides herself in Dogville and the citizens have to protect her, but it causes problems...

My opinion : it is a quality movie, but I don't know if everyone will likes this. It is not a usual movie, with a usual message. But I was ready for a chance and the actors were also prepared for it. When you would ask me ; ‘which film do you prefer The HOURS or Dogville' ?Well I would go for The Hours because it was more a film that interested me and I needed a lot of imagination to follow ‘Dogville'. But it becomes better the more you think about it. It is the comeback of Lauren Bacall who retiered for a while after ‘Diamonds'. She is great and I love her. She is the only actress from the 40's who is still working and I realise now after the lose of Katharine Hepburn and Gregory Peck recently, that we have to keep in great honour. By the way it's also a small comeback for me. I stopped writing comments for a while, but now I am back just as Bacall.

Rating ; 8,5/10 or ***1/2 out of ****

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
It ‘s not Mickey (Blue Eyes) Mouse, but you will certainly have fun..., 31 December 2002



I saw this movie twice, when someone asks for a good comedy, I always refer to this one. I guess this movie is wonderful because of its great dialogue and its brilliant performances. Although I found some moments really stupid.

This film is Kelly Makin's debut. The cameos surprised me. This time they weren't big stars.

This movie includes a massive cast : Hugh Grant : Michael Felgate (Simian Films produced this movie (his company). Jeanne Tripplehorn : Gina Vitale James Caan : Frank Vitale (perfect performance) James Fox : Philip Cromwell (a stupid part, but James made it something) Burt Young : Vito Graziosi (it seems like he likes the Mafia)

Joe Viterelli : Vinnie "the Shrimp" I think this movie deserves much more than (5,8/10). I guess 7,5 is a good average for it.

This movie carries out a lot of aspects: marriage, Mafia, Italian families. This movie looks like ‘Analyze This /That'. But I liked this one better. I also liked Hugh Grant's performance, he is brilliant in comedies. ‘About A Boy' is one of the best comedies of the year and I think ‘Notthing Hill' is one of the most 90'S brilliant comedies. I think, that he is better taking a more serious part like in ‘Small Time Crooks'.

Jeanne Tripplehorn had the simple part of saying ‘I have to be beautiful and that's it.'

I thought that James Caan would stop (3 years ago) but he is active now (more than ever). With projects as ‘Incredible Mrs. Ritchie', ‘Dogville' & ‘Elf'. It seems that he is perfect for his job. I think that this part, was the part that he needed. I never saw him in a comedy and he is good in it.

James Fox, What a stupid part he chose! I guess that he wasn't happy about it. He's such a good actor. His acting was good, but the final result was a complete disaster.

I liked the movie, but it has also its dull moments, but I liked it, so I am happy that I saw it...

Rating: 7,5/10 or *** out of ****



xXx (2002)
Bond is the good one, XXX is the bad one..., 28 December 2002



Everyone is talking about this movie. I thought, ‘Maybe it isn't bad'.

In the beginning, it seemed to be a movie with a lot of action. But there was still a story. That is the thing that disappeared after 30 minutes. That was that, no plot, no story.

I only liked Samuel L. Jackson's performance, the part of August Gibbons, was well chosen, but I would have rather liked that he had played in a movie better than this one. He is always good (Jackie Brown, Unbreakable) but this time he did it completely wrong. He has so much talent, and he even decides to make another XXX movie, which is pitiful!.

We have different tastes, I guess.

Vin Diesel, I guess he did quite well (according to circumstances) but he would better do something different. I would love to see him in ‘Guys and Dolls' along with Nicole Kidman.

I guess that this isn't something for me and I guess a lot of people agree with what I am saying, because a lot of viewers returned home without joy or something to think about.

I wonder why I didn't choose to see any other movie in the teather?'

Well I'll have better luck next time...

The only good thing about this film are the visual effects

Maybe they have to try to find a good story, before they think they can imitate James Bond.

Rating: 5/10 or *1/2 out of ****

Great cinematography and great acting from Michael Sullivan Jr, 19 December 2002

The Road to the Perdition

It's been a long time ago since I saw a Tom Hanks' movie, I believe the last one was "You've got Mail" , but it wasn't that great. I haven't seen "Cast Away" yet. It's also been a long time since Tom Hanks has made movies, but finally thid movie is featuring him as main character. Sam Mendes has honored many times because of "American Beauty", I've ever seen that film either,but I will do after seeing this.

I choose this film because of old golden boy, Paul Newman. One of the greatest actors of the 20th century and you don't often get the opportunity to see a movie with these two great actors together. So I thought, what could I lose?, so the adventure of "The Perdition" began.

Cast: 1. Tom Hanks: Michael Sullivan, 2. Jude Law: Harlen Maguire, 3. Paul Newman: John Rooney, 4. Jennifer Jason Leigh: Annie Sullivan...

Story: This story took place around 30's in the USA. A time of corruption and money... Corruption, money and murder are also the main subjects in this film. John Rooney, an old "Don Corleone", Mafia man is the head of a corrupt family. His "son" Michael Sullivan helps him to murder people who want to endanger the plans of the family. But ONCE it goes totally wrong. Annie (Michael's wife) and Peter (his son) are murdered by companions of John Rooney. He has to get away with his son Michael Jr. You get two hours of the love that a father could have for his son, the danger to stay alive, the suspense of every step they make and the wonderful screen images, which were extraordinary. I loved every scene, it was rather predictable, but it was a good movie... the greatest actor was Tyler H. (Michael Sullivan) he did a wonderful job.

Oscars: would I give Oscars to this movie? Yes, I would for best cinematography and for best supporting actor, Paul Newman... But I think two Oscars are enough for this movie... This movie is a mixture of 70S' movies.. there are a lot of scenes referring to other filmmakers, especially John Ford.

Rating: 9/10 or *** 1/2 out of ****

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Nicole, Nicole, we love you all ..., 26 September 2002



In 1996, Nicole Kidman was only "madame cruise", just that. Oh yes we remember her because of To Die For with Joaquin Phoenix and Matt Dillon. And was also possible that she played once with Michael Keaton in "My Life". But 2001, a year full of surprises and tragedies (sadly). Mr. Tom Cruise said `I want to divorce, I am interested in Pénelope Cruz'. Well Mr. Cruise, Nicole Kidman is better than ever. She has become the greatest actress of this time and she plays in great films like "The Others" and "Moulin Rouge". Let's forget "Vanilla Sky".

But something that we not may forget is this film "The Portrait of a Lady" based on a book written by Henry James and directed by Jane Campion (The director of `The Piano'). Although this film got mixed reviews, it is wonderful to watch.

It is quite difficult to explain the story, but I'll try.

We are around 1800, Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) lives with her uncle ,Mr.Touchett and his wife (Shelley Winters) in England. She comes from America. She also has a cousin, Ralph Touchett (Martin Donovan). She has a lot of admirers, one of them is played by Viggo Mortesen. But she always rejects them, then she meets Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich), she also meets Serena (played by Barbara Hershey). Between Isabel and Gilbert there is strange relationship with passion, betrayal ... and then Gilbert's daughter causes problems. (I don't think she causes problems, in fact Madame Merle was the one who got Nicole in trouble because of her lies)

THE ACTORS.

NICOLE KIDMAN: [Moulin Rouge, Cold Mountain, Dogville] she is great, but I have seen a critic and he said she is everything except a gentle character and I am afraid that it is true. But it is her part so I say she is perfect.

JOHN MALKOVICH: [Le Temps Rétrouvé, "Napoléon", Being John Malkovich] this is hid role, It couldn't have been better played than the way he did. A great person and a good actor as well.

MARTIN DONOVAN: He's not well known, but he has his remarkable performance, I think he is the best actor of the whole cast.

BARBARA HERSHEY: [Dangerous Woman] a good actress, she was nominated for an oscar, BUT she didn't get it. But 1996 was also a tough year for the oscars, it is difficult to choose among Lauren Bacall, Juliette Binoche and Barbara Hershey. Although Juliette won, it was a great surprise.

JOHN GIELGUD: [The Elephant Man, Shine, Julius Caesar, Arthur] he has a small part, but he was 92 when he played this part and he made 6 films that year. A great actor, who his known for his great Hamlet performances and it is very good that he appears in this film.

SHELLEY WINTERS: [The Secret Diary of Anne Frank, Alfie] also a small part, but also great to see.

I loved it, I really did!

When you want to see another great comment about his film, check the comment of Hernan Amado (hernan_amado@hotmail.com), he is the greatest lover of this movie, that I know of.

Rating: 8,5 /10 or *** out of ****

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Killing me softly: The critics hate it, BUT I didn't!, 22 September 2002



I guess everyone knows Joseph Fiennes, the actor of "Shakespeare in Love" and "Elizabeth", it is quite a long-time that we hear something of him. Well we've got some films but they are not great. Only "Enemy at the Gates" was well known, the rest of his work was forgotten. Now it is always difficult to make a comeback and certainly when you have a brother who is more successful than you are. Yes indeed his great brother Ralph, who he is always mentioned with.

Joseph Fiennes hoped to make a success together with actress Heather Graham, who was quite successful in "From Hell", although the film received some negative reviews, and it was especially the performance of Johnny Depp, who helped the film and not the performance of Heather.

But they both took a risk choosing a quite bad script, but a director who you can trust, because of his better films before this one. "Killing Me Softly" based on a book with some violent scenes.

All critics didn't give good comments on this movie, they didn't see one good thing in this movie and I think that is not true. Ok, I admit, it isn't perfect, but which film is really good these days?

Yes, the script is bad, but you can't say that the performances were that bad. Although I didn't like the character of Heather Graham at all, and her performance was not good, and I didn't like her because she had such a stupid character. She has everything that she needs but then she meets another guy and she leaves her boyfriend, just like that. I don't like those people, they think they 're the kings of the world.

But al least you can say something about Joseph's performance. He did it well, and I hope he will receive more attention in his next films; "Leo" with Dennis Hopper, "Luther" with Peter Ustinov and "The Great Raid" with Benjamin Bratt".

He was good, but not really what I expected after seeing "Shakespeare in Love" He can be better, but I have seen worse performances.

As for scenes; well I think that the nudity in the film is overrated Heather doesn't have problems to appear nude in front of the screen, well that is her problem, not mine. But she can't save the film being nude. I think that the film would be totally different if Gwyneth Paltrow or Kate Winslet replaced her. They are much better (playing that part) in my opinion at least. Joseph Fiennes also appeared nude, but certainly not much. I think that there isn't as much nudity as you see in "Irréversible" or "The Pillow Book"; however I didn't see these films.

But there are also some beautiful images of mountains and London, but that 's all.

The story:

Alice meets Adam Tallis, she falls in love with him and she leaves her friend Jake. laTer she meets his sister, after she married Jake, she discovers some weird things about him. What is the past of this man?

You would think that this film is a thriller, but just see it as a step out of reality.

AS I said: "the critics hate it, BUT I didn't". I don't mean that I loved it, but you can say 'it is bad' just like that. A lot of people have worked on this movie and you can say your opinion with some respect.

Rating: 6,5/10 or ** out of ****

Two Much (1996)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A disappointing result, but still some good performances., 13 September 2002



*The cast:

- Antonio Banderas : Art / Bart Dodge

- Daryl Hannah: Liz Kerner

- Melanie Griffith: Betty

- Joan Cusack: Gloria

- Eli Wallach: Sheldon

*The story:

Art Dodge is an art swindler. He looks at the death announcements in the papers. At the day of the funeral, thên he goes to the family and says that the dead person had bought a painting of him a few weeks before he died. At that moment, he meets Betty a rich woman who divorced the same man twice.

They fall in love with each other, but love becomes complicated when Art meets Betty's sister... he is deeply in love with her too. So he decides to transform himself in Bart (his twin brother) and then you get some humoristic moments, which aren't very funny at some moments.

Sheldon is the father of Art. Joan Cusack is the employee of Art.

An interesting note is that Melanie and Antonio fall in love on the set, and they married and had 1 child, Stella Banderas.

*Appreciation: This film is too confusing and although Daryl Hannah played her part wonderfully, the film has something of a disaster. Although the actors did their best to make a comedy. A catastrophe occurred

But don't forget that alL these actors had done some wonderful acting. Some examples; Melanie Griffith: Cecil B. Demented -- Daryl Hannah: Steel Magnolias -- Antonio Banderas: Philadelphia and Eli Wallach: the Misfits.

Sadly they made this time a wrong choice...

Mostly I like the movies that I saw and on the whole I give good comments about them. But this time I can only say that this film was a big disappointment and I hoped that it would have finished quickly. However I didn't lose my faith in the actors because it was just the wrong script that didn't work.

Rating: 5,5 /10

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A good movie about the war with great performances from Rachel Weisz & Jude Law., 13 September 2002



"Enemy at the Gates" is a movie about World War II. Most movies about this part in the history are full of violence and murders. And in this film it isn't different. But it is always fine to see how each director sees it. The best war movie so far is "Saving Private Ryan".

This movie is quite interesting because you have a great cast again;

1.Jude Law: Vasseli (lead actor) 2.Joseph Fiennes 3.Rachel Weisz 4.Ed Harris

This movie is About the fight around "Stalingrad" in Russia. Vasseli is a Russian too but he is well known because he is so good at shooting. The Germans send Major Köning (Ed Harris) to Russia, with the intention to kill Vasseli.

A commander (Joseph Fiennes) and his good girlfriend (Rachel Weisz) support Vasseli.

For me every movie has something special also in this movie there are some interesting things to see:

-How children play an important part in the war and how they become victims. This movie has given a wonderful part to a child, Sacha. He did it amazingly .

-You could say that the movie has a slogan: "Love don't declear war".

-There is also place for a twist about the love of someone.

-You see how crazy war is.

The performances were really strong especially those from Rachel Weisz and Jude Law. They were perfect.

Joseph Fiennes was good too, but I like the acting of his brother (Ralph Fiennes) more.

Ed Harris is great too.

Also the supporting parts were wonderful.

I can't see a lot of bad things in this movie, maybe that the love in the war was idealised and the end was too romantic... but life has to go on...

Rating: 8/10



1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Great cast and a good direction, 21 August 2002



I saw two movies with Robert Altman as director; "Prêt à Porter" with Julia Roberts and Lauren Bacall and "Cookie's Fortune" with Glenn Close, Chris O'Donnell. They were both a little disappointing, although there were great performances. But I can assure you Altman is back with this British whodunit story, plenty of great British actors (Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Alan Bates, Hellen Mirren...) and also a few Americans like Jeremy Northam. Altman is known for his cast, there are always great actors in his films.

He still is a great director, he was responsible for 'M*A*S*H' or 'Short Cuts'. I was wondered what this Agatha Christie story would bring?

Well like in the most films of Robert, there are a lot of characters and that makes it sometimes confusing. We have 2 groups of people in this film.

(1) The servants, the butlers, the maids, the cooks... = the people from downstairs like Helen Mirren, Emily Watson, Alan Bates...

(2) The countesses and people with a lot of money = the people from upstairs like Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas. So we get an upstairs, downstairs film, where the two classes are wonderfully shown to us.

We have almost 15 characters in this film and you hardly know all their names. But grace to the director and screenwriter you can follow the film very good. There is also a guide in this story, Kelly Macdonald (the maid of Mrs. Trentham). Well you don't see clearly, but she is there in every important scene. Every character gets the time to show to the public, who they are, what they want. This kind of cinema is a good opportunity for the actors to give the best from themselves and you see that they enjoy it, but I give lather some more details about the performances of each actor.

Now something about the story: The shooting party in "Gosford Park" is always a great event; a lot of visitors come to enjoy the event together with their employees. But than suddenly Sir William (M. Gambon), the head of Gosford Park is killed and nearly everyone could do it and almost everyone has a motive. So detective Thompson (S. Fry) comes to look at the case.

In this movie you have two things to follow; - Who has murdered Sir William? - The evolution of each character.

I choose the most important characters to follow, because follow every character is too difficult.

Some words about the performances of the actors:

Maggie Smith: {Harry Potter, Richard III, Death on the Nile, Sister Act...} plays Countess Constant Trentham. She is one of the greatest leading actresses of England, and also one of the oldest. But she is great as snobistic countess. I am happy that in Europe the older actresses aren't forgotten like in Hollywood. Maggie is great and she is still acting wonderful. Her Academy Award nomination is totally deserved, she even deserved the Oscar.

Kristin Scott Thomas: {Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient} plays Lady Sylvia the wife of Sir William. She is beautiful in this film, the perfect actress, in the perfect part. The scenes between Maggie & Kristin were the most beautiful of the movie.

Helen Mirren: {Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (2002 - tv movie), The Madness of King George} played one of the servants. One worth for here performance GREAT. She said in the movie, I have no life, because I am the perfect servant, well she also the perfect actress.

Ryan Phillipe: {Cruel Intentions, Igby Goes Down, AntiTrust} a great talent, wonderful performance and a great Scottish accent, he has nearly the same accent as Sean Connery. He played wonderful as Henry Denton, also a servant of an American guest.

Alan Bates: {The Sum of all Fears, Far from the Madding Crowd} played in his own, good style a very good butler, Jennings. His performance was similar to these of Derek Jacobi.

Other actors are E. Atkins, S. Fry, M. Gambom, E. Watson, J. Northam...

This a great, I hope that `Voltage', the next film from Robert will be as good as this one or even better. He has again a great cast for that one; Joaquin Phoenix, Liv Tyler...

Who murdered is the question, but don't forget that there is so much more to enjoy. Enjoy every moment of this is long movie (but one with quality).

Thanks Robert for the fantastic 2 hours (and 17 minutes) of cinema pleasure.

Rating: 9/10 or ***1/2 out of ****


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