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How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days-6/10 is just another so-so silly romantic comedy
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is just another so-so silly romantic comedy that tries to be charming and fun. I have just about hit the wall with these type of films...for the most part they are silly, formulaic, predictable and their only saving grace is maybe two decent leads who have some form of chemistry and maybe the movie is filled with some witty and fun dialogue. I am not a fan of these type of movies, but if you are I'm sure you will enjoy this one too. The lovely Kate Hudson is quite fun and charming as Holly, the "How to" girl of Composure Magazine (the fastest growing women's magazine in the country). Call it what you want...its Cosmo, Vogue, Elle etc. a trashy women's magazine about beauty, fashion, cosmetics, health, gossip and realtionships etc. Anyway Holly's newest assignment is to get with a guy and then get him to leave her within 10 days by doing all the annoying things that women do in relationships and guys hate. Matthew McConaughey plays Ben, a hot young advertising executive who pitches sports equipment, alcohol etc. He is gunning for the account of a major diamond company and is competing with two other ladies. They strike up a side bet where Ben must make a woman fall in love with him within 10 days...and if he succeeds he gets the diamond account. Naturally of course the two of them wind up meeting each other in a bar just after the assignment and bets have been made. That is really my major problem with films like these. There has to be some sort of cute, stupid way,to get the two leads together,which of course leads to somebody finding out about a bet at the end and getting mad...only to realize they really are in love. Please! It's enough wih these moronic "meeting ideas"...what happend to just two people meeting under normal circumstances and things not working out. Anyway as I said Hudson and McConaughey are qute good together, with Hudson doing every imaginable annoying thing to drive a guy away including redecorating his bathroom, keeping him away from sporting events and ruining his guys night poker game and McConughey still never takes the bait. You can figure out the rest fom there. Overall, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is not a terrible movie by any means...its just another silly romantic comedy that puts two young leads in a silly formulaic plot and has a little fun and not much else.
Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)
Cradle 2 the Grave-5/10 is just another in a long line of ill-conceived bad action films...
Cradle 2 the Grave is just another in a long line of ill-conceived bad action films that pits rappers with kung-fu stars and a funny white guy for comic relief. An excuse to sell soundtracks with blaring, offensive rap tunes and guys like DMX to have some sort of career in the movie industry. I wasn't expecting much going into this film and that's pretty much what I got. DMX plays Tony Fait a high-class thief who leads a high-risk diamond heist to obtain very rare and valuable "black diamonds" which are much more than they seem...as we find out later. The other members of his team include friend and partner in crime Miles played by Drag-On?!(What the hell kind of name is this?!), sexy temptress Daria played by Gabrielle Union and diversion and disguise expert Tommy played by the usually fun Anthony Anderson. At first the robbery is a success until their contact sells them out to Su played by Jet Li who plays an ass-kicking Taiwanese intelligence agent...who is trying to get back the black diamonds for the Taiwanese government, where the diamonds came from. Another interested party in the loot is Ling played by Mark Dacascos, a ruthless thief and killer, and he is partnered with sultry bitch Sona played by Kelly Hu. He plans to sell the diamonds on the black market to various world arms-dealers because of their destructive power(Hilariously stupid watching these people bid for the diamonds). He kidnaps Fait's little daughter so that he can get the diamonds from him. Basically the whole movie is DMX teaming up with Jet Li and his other cohorts to get his kidnapped daughter back. Joining them is Archie played by Tom Arnold, a bumbling, obnoxious weapons and arms dealer and basically the comic relief of the film. There is even an appearance by Chi McBride as a imprisoned crime boss living in luxury. The plot is redundant and overdone and the characters are card-board cliches as usual. The action scenes are somewhat interesting but nothing spectacular, except a pretty amusing and cool cage/ring fight and a chase through L.A. involving an ATV. As per usual we get the loud and offensive rap soundtrack supplied by DMX. The movie is slickly made and fast paced, but still this is standard fare. Overall, Cradle 2 the Grave is what it is...a fast-paced action film with rappers, kung-fu stars, hot babes and sporadic comic relief. We've seen it done and overdone in the past few years and this is just another one to add to the list.
Old School (2003)
Old School-7/10 is a fun, crude comedy...
Old School is a fun, crude comedy in the style of National Lampoon's Animal House. The plot is silly and the characters are pretty one dimensonal, but this movie is consistently funny throughout. It made me smile and it made me laugh and I certainly enjoyed it for what it is. Luke Wilson plays Mitch Martin aka The Godfather, who comes home from his dreary job to find his girlfriend played by Juliette Lewis mixed up in some wild orgy. Will Ferrell is very funny as Frank a man who is just getting married to the wrong woman and Vince Vaughn is also very good as Beanie, a sarcastic, witty guy who spends no time with his woman, but looks after their son. Mitch tries to move on with his life by moving into a new house that happens to be on a college campus. Vince Vaughn sees this as an opportunity to rekindle his youth by moving in and starting a fraternity. Ferrell, after being on the outs with his wife needs a place to crash and joins the other two. Mitch is rather conservative and resists the idea of a fraternity at first...a fraternity which gets mostly old guys who are trying to find ways to still have some fun...and none of these guys go to the school. Of course they are a hit with the students as the fraternity throws wild parties, and gets into all sorts of trouble etc. and basically do what fraternities do. The always fun Jeremy Piven plays Dean Pritchard, who naturally disapproves of the unorthodox fraternity and tries to get them kicked out of the house...he wants to put them on "double secret probation!" Anyway I found it rather amusing that Piven was in this cliche role going against type of roles he usually does as in the character he played in the college comedy PCU(1994). The fun of this movie just comes from guys like Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn and the absurd and funny situations everbody gets in to. It's a comedy that doesn't hold back on the crude humor, but it never really is gross-out type stuff which is a good thing. Mitch's love interest Nicole is played by Ellen Pompeo, who is very sweet and while watching her I realized she reminds me of Renee Zellweger. There are also appearances in this film by Late Night talk show host Craig Kilborn, rapper Snoop Dogg, 24 sweetie Elisha Cuthbert, King of Queens' Leah Remini and American Pie's Stiffler aka Sean William Scott, who appears in a very funny scene. Overall, Old School is what it is...a funny, uproarious comedy about having all the fun of college without having to go to school. It's silly, crude and fun and guys like Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn make it so.
Shanghai Knights (2003)
Shanghai Knights-7/10 is a wildly entertaining, fun, action-packed movie...
Shanghai Knights is a wildly entertaining, fun, action-packed movie filled with funny one-liners, wonderful fight scenes, daring escapes and adds a few nice touches to boot. A sequel to the enjoyable 2000 movie Shanghai Noon that teamed up Jackie Chan as devoted Chinese Imperial guard Chon Wang(John Wayne a terrible cowboy name) and Owen Wilson as wise-cracking gunslinger Roy O'Bannon. In movies like this the plot has become irrelevant but the two stars make for two loveable rogues and the action and funness make the movies enjoyable...and this sequel was slightly better I would say. This time around a royal heir to the throne(20th in line...nope make that 10th) Rathbone played by Aiden Gillen has murdered Wang's estranged father and keeper of the Imperial seal...and is plotting to eliminate the royal family along with a Chinese traitor who also has aspirations to rule. This time we get Chon Wang's sister Chon Lin played by Fann Wong(who also gets to do some ass-kicking and plays Roy's love interest) and she follows the murderer to London as do Chan and Wilson. The film is peppered with jokes about English weather and food etc. and we are treated to all of London's landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The Tower of London and Madame Tusauds Wax Museum but once again we are treated to Jackie Chan's unparalleled imaginitive style of fighting using all kinds of objects and structures as both weapons and defense. I especially loved the Singin' in the Rain umbrella fight scene. As I said earlier this movie also has some nice touches with its historical cameos of sort. Although exact periods of time are slightly off that is easily forgiven. I loved the numerous references to Jack the Ripper(the serial killer who murdered several prostitutes in the White Chapel district and was never found...its hilarious to think maybe some little Chinese chic just kicked his ass off a bridge and he drowned). Also Tom Fisher is delightful as tender Scotland Yard detective/writer Artie Doyle(Arthur Conan Doyle creator of Sherlock Holmes). We are also treated to a cute little thief who would become known as Charlie Chaplin. Funny since Chan has sometimes been called a modern day action version of Chaplin. Wonderful historical cameos like that really added to the sense of fun this movie has. Overall, Shanghai Knights is a very enjoyble sequel starring the amazing fighting talents of Jackie Chan and the fun antics of Owen Wilson. Forget the plot and just enjoy the action, the humor and the fun of it all.
Chicago-9/10 is a wonderful, lively and truly entertaining musical...
Chicago is a wonderful, lively and truly entertaining musical featuring a great cast and technically is great. Chicago is set during the roaring 1920's where the city was full of corruption, scandals, murder, Al Capone, bootleggers and lots of razzle-dazzle. That is really what this film is...its all a show and its an eye-popping one at that. Renee Zellweger is great as Roxie Heart in an Oscar worthy performance as a young performer trying to get into vaudeville and have her own show. She winds up in jail after murdering her lover after she learns he has been just stringing her along with promises of getting into the music business. In jail she finds Velma Kelly played by Catherine Zeta-Jones equally impressive in a forceful performance as the established star that Roxie admires, who is also in jail for killing her adulterous husband and her sister. Roxie needs help in a clear open and shut case so she hires flamboyant and unbeatable lawyer Billy Flynn played by Richard Gere who is also terrific. A media storm is created as the trial of the century is under full scrutiny from the eager press and a town where you are only as popular as the newest news you can produce. Chicago is obviously a musical and there are plenty of amazing and wonderful musical numbers throughout the film from Velma's opening of "All that Jazz" to the final rousing duo beween Roxie and Velma...and in between there are plenty more even people like Richard Gere and John C. Reilly who plays Amos, Roxie's neglected and unnoticed husband get into the act of singing and dancing. Queen Latifah also has a strong presence as Mama Morton, the corrupt head of the jail and even Lucy Liu makes a fun appearance as a murdering heiress. A couple of my favorite moments was when Zellweger was a ventriliquist dummy moved and controlled by Gere...and Gere's tap-dance courtroom scene. This also brings me to another point that the film technically is a marvel...from the glorious setting of 1920's Chcago and the production design needs to be credited with the wonderful way the musical numbers are shot, edited and the lighting was amazing. Overall, Chicago is a wildly fun and entertaining movie musical that features great music and a wonderful cast especially Renee Zellweger in a great performance. One of the year's best fims...don't miss it.
The Life of David Gale (2003)
The Life of David Gale-8/10 is a tremendous mystery, thriller of a film...
The Life of David Gale is a tremendous mystery, thriller of a film that is an indictment of capital punishment. This film on the outside looks like just a murder mystery about a man who may or may not be guilty or innocent, but it takes a wonderful and unexpected turn and ends up being a lot more than that. I have been looking forward to his film ever since I saw the previews for it late last year, and was disappointed when it got pushed back to February. I am a huge fan of Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet, two of my favorite actors and actresses respectively. Kate Winslet plays Bitsey Bloom, a hard nosed take no prisoners attitude reporter for "News" magazine...effectively Newsweek. She has been sent down along with a bright, young intern Zack Stemmons played by Gabriel Mann, to the bible-belt of Huntington, Texas to interview a death row inmate 4 days shy of his execution. That man is David Gale played by Kevin Spacey, a man who has been sentenced to death for the murder of his colleague and friend Constance Harraway played by Laura Linney, who was found raped and murdered in her house six years earlier. Bitsey is to conduct three 2 hour interviews leading up to Gale's execution by lethal injection on the fourth day. She does not really know why she is there or what story will come from this. It is a major story because of who David Gale was and what he stood for. That man was an intellectual and professor of philosophy at Austin Unversity and he was the state's leading death penalty abolishinist along with Constance Harroway they lead an anti-capital punishment organization. The story is intercut between Bitsey's interviews, where we see David Gale's life leading up to the murder and Bitsey and her intern trying to figure out what really happened and why it did...did David Gale kill her? Was he framed or set up? etc. Now with this type of film usually the suspected inmate comes off as a decent guy and you know he didn't do it and eventually the real killer's are found out and brought to justice at the last minute...involving some convoluted conpiracy involving money, revenge etc. I am so glad this film did not take that easy route...it takes a startling and ultimately ver convincing path leading up to a story that is truly about self-sacrfice the ultimate of human experience that Spacey's character Gale talks about in one of his earlier scenes as a professor of philosophy. I won't really say too much than that because it might ruin what is a delicious surprise of a film. I understand that some might feel manipulated by this film and dismiss it as taking a one-sided stand on the subject of the death penalty. Let me say right now that I am for the death penalty, but that doesn't distract from what I think is a very good film condemning the death penalty. Politics is not an issue here for me. The system obviously has flaws(one being you have to wait 9 years on death row, which I find absurd) and this film proves they can be exploited. Overall, The Life of David Gale is not exploitative or manipulative...it doesn't pull a fast one on the audience. Howeer, it is a film about three people who exploit and manipulate capital punishment to brilliant affect. A story about self-sacrifice for what you believe in and featuring an excellent cast which includes Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet and Laura Linney. Just a superb gem of a film.
Daredevil-8/10 is a very entertaining, fun, action-packed comic/super hero movie...
Daredevil is a very entertaining, fun, action-packed comic/super hero movie that is dark, intense and a very surprising film...and I left the theatre with a big grin on my face. After seeing the hugely popular and well done Spider-Man last year I said this is how comic book movies should be made and future ones should take note. The makers of Daredevil obviously did...because they have taken that successful and winning formula(literally) but added their own touch and style in the creation of Daredevil. Ben Affleck plays Matt Murdock...the reluctant hero Daredevil, son of a former boxing champ and bullied as a kid. A chemical spill and accident leaves the young kid blind, but his other four senses have now grown accutely more stronger and effective...leaving him with a special "radar sense" where sounds bring to life what Matt can't see. This effect in the film is absolutely brilliant and is used very well throughout the entire film...including a beautiful and sad scene involving Elektra in the rain. In his later life Matt fights for justice as a small time lawyer partnered by the very funny Jon Favreau. They represent the innocent and the unfortunate, always seeking truth and justice. At night Murdoch assumes the identity of Daredevil a masked avenger of sorts, fighting for those same down-trodden folk who have been wronged by the system. As reluctant as Murdoch is as Daredevil...the public is as reluctant to accept him as their savior...he is seen more as a villain, an outlaw, an outcast rather than a hero. Daredevil isn't exactly merciful and he is basically seen as a bad guy. The very stong and powerful presence of Michael Clarke Duncan plays Kingpin...mythic crime boss of the city whose exploits seem thwarted by Daredevil and a war of attrition ensues. Matters are even more complicated when Murdoch meets Elektra played by the sexy and strong willed Jennifer Garner, who happens to be the daughter of one of Kingpin's stooges. The man who steals the show is absolutely Colin Farrell as hot-tempered and deadly Irish assassin Bullseye. he chews up the scenery and has loads of fun being an over-the-top villain. This kid Farrell is great and as I said after seeing The Recruit he seems like he can do no wrong. He is a wonderful young talent and has the charisma and style to become a huge star...I just love this dude. Joe Pantaliano also lends some solid support as a tabloid journalist, a role which easily could have become a simple cliche but doesn't. As good as Daredevil is...it is not without its faults. The fight scenes seemed at best pretty average at times and some smoother editing is needed...but as I said this film is darker, more richer than Spider-Man and as it is stands on its own right there with Spidey. Overall Daredevil is a very entertaining comic/superhero movie that takes a winning formula and adds its own style and flair and it boasts an outstanding cast led by the solid Ben Affleck and the talented young Irish assassin Colin Farrell. It's the first can't miss movie of the year and you should have loads of fun watching it.
Dark Blue (2002)
Dark Blue-8/10 is a surprisingly good cop thriller...
Dark Blue is a surprisingly good cop thriller that is tense, taut and quite riveting from start to finish. This film takes police corruption to a whole different level. I really wasn't expecting much going ino this film but I was really surprised at how much it grabbed me and held me interested througout. Kurt Russell gives his best performance in years (it's probably his best performance since Tombstone(1993)) as Sgt. Eldon Perry an elite detective in the L.A.P.D. who breaks procedure and bends the rules to get the job done. He doesn't do it because he can or wants to, but because he has to. To get the job done he has to falsify evidence and even take down criminals, who while they deserve what they get, don't get a fair shake. Scott Speedman plays Bobby, Eldon's young and bright partner, who ultimately wants to do the right thing and be an honest cop, but begins to fall into the same trap as his elder partner, who is in too deep as it is. Their boss is Jack Van Meter played by Brendan Gleeson, who is abolutely superb in this film as a corrupt captain who pulls the strings and has Perry and Bobby on his leash. The backdrop for this film is early 1990's Los Angeles and centers around the Rodney King beating and the subsequent riots that took place after the four officers who beat King were found not guilty. The racial tension that was so present at that time adds to this film immensely as their is also real, palpable racial tesion within the L.A.P.D. One of my favorite scenes in the entire film is when Bobby and his black girlfriend/cop played by Michael Michele are in a car when the Rodney King verdict is annouced over the police radio. The look on her face is just amazing...because she knows what is coming as all the cops do...the city is going to burn and boy does it! The always good and interesting Ving Rhames plays Dep. Chief Arthur Holland...a man who knows he is dealing with corupt cops and shady officials and is also motivated by becoming chief of the department one day. The story centers on a brutal robbery/murder of a convenience store by two young thuglike killers (one white and one black). I wont go into the reasons for the robbery, but I will say this opening scene is a startling one. It is a shockingly brutal and intense scene that it immedately grabs you at the begining of this film. From then on I was hooked. Perry and Bobby naturally take on the brutal investigation and their dilemna is fleshed out by what happens to the case and the road it takes. Kurt Russell's position as a corrupt monster of a cop with no return also has a deep affect on his wife Sally, played by Lolita Davidovich. This was handled in a very real and sad sort of way. You sort of see the signs but it is still a surprise when it happens. This film surprised and thrilled me on many levels and it really deserves to be seen. The ending is thrilling and the depiction of the chaos of the L.A. riots is expertly done as is Russell's impassioned confession and speech at the end of this film. Overall, Dark Blue is a very well done and effective cop drama about corruption and racial tension set amid the Rodney King beating and L.A. Riots. A superb performance by Kurt Russell, and much more than just an over the top caricature (Denzel Washington in Trainng Day). A very good film and the best I've seen so far this year...don't miss it.
Gods and Generals (2003)
Gods and Generals-7/10 is certainly not a great film, but it is fairly decent...
Gods and Generals is certainly not a great film, nor a very good one. It is a fairly decent film, but if this isn't your type of film in the first place there is little chance you will survive the 4 hour running time, which includes an intermission. It's no secret I am a huge fan of war movies and historical epics. History is a subject I am forever fascinated with and stories of human history have always interested me. As far as the Civil War goes I am not that much of a fan as opposed to wars of the 20th century...though it looked like it had all the elements I expect in a historical war epic. The film however is extremely slow and it is not helped by very stagey acting and pompous dialogue...if you find most 21/2 hour movies slow or borng there is little chance you can sustain this. When I saw this saturday night the theatre was pretty much full. About half of them didn't return after the intermission. Apart from that I expect to see great battles and gory war violence and this film to my surprise sort of goes away from that. At times it seemed the battles lacked a tenseness and urgency about them. As far as the story goes it concerns the defense of Virginia by the South lead by General Robert E. Lee played by Robert Duvall and General "Stonewall" Jackson played by Stephen Lang, who is the main focus of the film. The North is represented by Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Chamberlain played by Jeff Daniels, who also appeared in the 1993 film Gettysburg, to which this film is a prequel to. A major problem with this film is the focus on Jackson especially in the preachy and pompous way he appraches the war. There are numerous speeches of professing his love for the state of Virginia and praying to God to see him through the war. Another problem is I fealt the film was very biased towards the South and how they are fighting for freedom from the Union, with little mention of slavery. Reading this you might think how the hell could I possibly like this film, but I do have my reasons. The film is beautifully shot and the overall look of the film is quite stunning. The costumes, sets, etc. are all very authentic despite a few squiry looking beards! As a historical piece it seems like a very straight forward telling of the events of the time...but that leaves the viewer feeling emotionally uninvolved most of the time. However, there were two particular scenes that were really quite touching, during the battle of Fredericksburg there is an exchange between the two Irish units of the opposing sides...both of whom have fought against oppression and tyranny for many years. Another scene I loved was a quiet exchange between a soldier from the South and one from the North, who exchange a cup of coffee and a smoking pipe, while standing in the middle of a queit river. Nothing is said between the two and I found it touching because even at a time of horrific bloodshed and turmoil there is time for tenderness and civility. Overall, Gods and Generals is not even a very good film about the civil war. It is too long, too stagey and leaves the audience emotionally detached. It certainly is not a film for everyone and few are likely to enjoy it, but I am one of them who did. Ultimately this film would be better served as some sort of primetime mini-series on PBS or something. As a piece of theatre entertainment on a saturdy night, I would strongly recommend against it, because the average movie-goer just won't be able to survive it.
The Hours (2002)
The Hours-7/10 is an interesting but depressing film...
The Hours is an interesting but depressing film about life, death and suicide connected by the lives of 3 different women from different eras. Unfortunately the film really fails at what it is trying to say about these issues and is only worth seeing because of the performances of the 3 actresses. Nicole Kidman stars as acclaimed and troubled author Virginia Woolf, living in England in the early 1940's with her distant husband. Suffering from mental illness she longs for the big city and feels stifled and suffocated in the small town. She is writing a book called Mrs. Dalloway about an ineffectual woman contemplating suicide who is throwing a party. Julianne Moore is a suburban housewife living in 1950's Los Angeles with her young son and content husband played by John C. Reilly. She is reading Woolf's book "Mrs. Dalloway" and also preparing things for her husband's birthday. Meryl Streep plays Clarissa Vaughn, nicknamed Mrs. Dalloway by a writer dying of AIDs played by Ed Harris(terrific in the two scenes he is in), who she is throwing a party for. she lives in modern day new York with her lover played by Allison Janney and has a daughter played by Claire Danes. The 3 women are all connected by "Mrs. Dalloway"-Kidman is writing it, Moore is reading it and Streep is living it. All have feelings of unhappiness and contemplate suicide for different reasons as does Ed Harris' character. My problem with the film is that some of them have legitimate reasons and some don't. I think the film really fails at what it is trying to say about suicide. Naturally it should be that life is worth living, but to me it didn't really drive home that point enough. Apart from what the film is trying to accomplish the performances are great especially Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf unrecognizable but great as the tortured and miserable writer. Meryl Streep was also good too and Ed Harris as I mentioned earlier. The film is quite choppy switching from era to era, however I liked how they did it with the women doing and saying the same things or using different props and settings to move from one time line to another. There is a surprise revelation at the end of the film that felt forced and manufactured and I just didn't buy it. Overall, The Hours is an interesting film that conects life and death through the lives of 3 women and the writings of Virginia Wolf. It ddn't fully connect with me but it is worth seeing for the performances especially Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Ed Harris.