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13 reviews in total 
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39 out of 45 people found the following review useful:
Lavish but listless, 9 November 2004

As I see it, one important element is missing from David Rosenbaum's lavish production of the Oscar Wilde morality story and that is Oscar Wilde himself. His words are all here, the witticisms and wry comments on social manners that shocked Victorian England, but they rarely punch through the wooden acting and listless pace. It must have seemed a good idea to do a modern remake of the now classic tale of the portrait that ages while the sitter himself remains eternally young but what was perhaps less wise was to cast as principles actors who give the impression they don't fully understand the value of what they're saying.

Literary gems trip from their lips like so many throwaway lines and I kept wanting to tell them to slow down the timing and to pace themselves. In the title role, Josh Duhamel (NBC's Las Vegas) lacks, in my opinion, the experience to carry the role of a man who has sold his soul to the Devil. We are told he is festering in his own private hell but where is the fire behind his eyes, the internal destructive force driving him towards his own annihilation? Having purchased immortality, the young man embraces a life of perversion and debauchery which, for the most part, is played out off screen. Whether the reasons are economic or moral, I neither know nor care but as a member of an audience, I have to see for myself just how far he has sunken if the final climactic scene is to work for me. The cynic Harry Wotton, once splendidly portrayed by George Sanders, is a disappointment here too in the hands of Branden Waugh. Harry is an individual loath to recognize goodness in anything or anyone but Waugh doesn't exude the obligatory world weariness for all his cigarette waving and posing by the sofa. Rosenbaum took the unusual step of casting a woman, Rainer Judd, in the role of the painter, Basil Ward and it succeeds, surprisingly enough. She brings a lightness to the trio of principals which might otherwise have sunk under its own weight. The director explains on the IMDb message board the reason for this notable bit of creative casting...because it was the natural thing to do after he read that Wilde wanted Basil to represent his feminine side in what was, in effect, a love triangle between three men. I liked particularly the choice of opulent locales in Bulgaria which were beautifully photographed by Voythech Todorow. The film was viewed at the American Film Market 2004 in Santa Monica

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Good things going for it., 8 May 2003

Occasionally, a movie made overseas for domestic filmgoers is worthy of seeking a wider audience and this gem from Britain, screened at the 2003 American Film Market, is one of them. It has a lot of good stuff going for it.

Two American Mafioso types flee to Scotland when a deal in Kiev goes wrong. In Glasgow, they hide out with Bobbie, a cousin, who operates an ice cream parlor and fish-and-chip shop. Complications arise when a couple of inept Liverpool thugs, contracted by the Russian Mob, turn up to hunt down the visitors. As if this wasn't enough, loansharks are after Bobbie to collect on a loan.

All in all, a pleasant minor comedy which I liked a lot, mainly for its good intentions and above standard acting. Danny Nucci delivers a sympathetic performance as Bobbie augmented by Scottish-born Shirley Henderson, who plays Alice his wife.. She is an actress who first came to my attention with a brilliant performance as Marie Melmonte in the PBS tv miniseries "The Way We Live Now."

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Tries a little too hard for laughs., 1 May 2003

The tagline: "Rule #1: Don't Trust Broads" says it all! This not-too smart, not-too funny comedy, seen at the 2003 American Film Market, is about a Russian mail-order bride who returns home with money stolen from her new American husband, a Mafia kingpin. The Family Don, played in his usual laid-back style by Danny Aiello, responds by dispatching his inept nephew (Robert Capelli, Jr. ) to retrieve the loot.

Capelli, who co-directs with Jeffrey Wolf, pursues stereotyping throughout but what came as a genuine surprise to me were the Russian locations. I thought I'd never see the day an American film company could stage a comedy car chase around the outer walls of the Kremlin. In a related scene, a couple are walking across Red Square and pause at the entrance of Lenin's Tomb. "Who's in there?," asks the American. His Russian companion replies: "The Devil" Vladimir Ilyich must be turning in his grave!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not a recommended public offering., 1 May 2003

Anyone who's portfolio has plummeted this past few years should enjoy this movie if they're into metaphors. It's all about stockbrokers acting as predators, rampaging in a pack to ensnare unsuspecting investors.

I'm all in favor of a "Ripped-from-the Headlines" opus but it's too bad the filmmakers don't have a better vehicle than this rickety contraption with its low production values and stilted dialogue.

Into the brokerage house of Woolf Brothers comes Jeff Allen, just out of business school with a dufflebag full of suits and no experience. Surprisingly, he qualifies to gain access to the Woolf's lair and adopts the firm's highly touted instinct to "focus, seek and attack." Sooner than it takes to say:"Look, there's another full moon" Jeff has acquired a taste for lots of purchasing orders and raw red meat.

I think there was an opportunity here to develop a stronger storyline -- even a fun comedy -- but director David DeCoteau seems not to have risen above the mundane. Seen at the 2003 American Film Market in Santa Monica.

Bad Boy (2002)
8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Light entertainment., 20 April 2002

Bad Boy, screened at the American Film Market 2002 under its working title "Dawg", overcomes a lightweight premise with some believable acting by Denis Leary and Elizabeth Hurley.

Leary is Dawg who is so busy womanizing he arrives too late for his grandmother's funeral but, no matter, she has left him a cool million subject to one condition. As explained by estate executor Anna Lockhart (Hurley), Dawg must contact at least a dozen of the scores of women he has loved and left during his lifetime and beg for their forgiveness. Reluctantly, Dawg sets out on his odyssey which takes him, and the lawyer, to venues throughout California.

Director Victoria Hotchberg, better known for her work in episodic television, keeps the pace lively and interesting and imparts a degree of charm to the project. Not a major film but an entertaining candidate for anyone's date-movie list.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Funny and entertaining., 29 March 2002

If it is true that Rodney Dangerfield "don't get no respect," then it is not for the want of trying. This latest outing into features by the 80-year-old comedian, who had a star unveiled recently on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, keeps the sight gags coming fast although a little restrained.

Rodney is Lupo, the owner of an Italian restaurant who employs singing waiters and waitresses. He is in love with one waitress whose operatic areas pack them in every night but she doesn't return the favor,

understandable as Lupo's singing voice could stop a clock. In a move to impress her, he flies to Italy for the best singing coaches.He has an open checkbook so he is quickly aided and abetted by a couple of con artists who see a crock of gold at the end of this particular rainbow.

If anything, this movie is lighter on extraneous humor and heavier on plot which, in my opinion, is an improvement over his earlier excursions. Dangerfield has good rapport with the assembled cast headed by Robert Davi as the chief antagonist. Once Lupo is in Italy, "The 4th Tenor" takes on a sort of fairy tale quality which increases the entertainment quotient and is sure to please more than the usual Rodney Dangerfield fans.

Dummy (2002)
10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
I'd say this is an entertaining comedy with heart., 3 March 2002

I had a premonition I was about to see a comedy with a lot of heart even before the main titles played out at a screening of "Dummy" at the American Film Market 2000 recently.

In the opening scene, Steven, who lives with his eccentric parents and sister, sits enthralled watching the flickering tv image of ventriloquist Edgar Bergan and his dummy, Charlie McCarthy. As the camera moves in on the young man, we see in his eyes the depth of his dreams and aspirations to at last make something of his humdrum life. The next day, he gives up his 9-to-5 job and announces to his dysfunctional family that he wants to be a ventriloquist. His ever-busy mother(Jessica Walter), making yet another tuna sandwich, remarks that his career choice is" nice but not very realistic" while his sister observes that with the dummy on his lap, Steven looks like a child molester.

Casting is right on the mark. Adrien Brody brings a sympathetic and likable quality to the role of Steven as he manipulates his dummy to express his own private fears and feelings to the people around him. Vera Farmiga, the love interest, is extremely engaging as his employment counselor and Illeana Douglas, the very unmarried sister, is constantly funny. Outstanding too is Milla Javovich as Steven's best friend, a punk rocker with layers of attitude. Writer and director Greg Pritikin skillfully holds down the pathos and gives his film just the right touch of humor. An entertaining movie that is worth a look.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Not enough thrills to overcome predictable situations., 1 March 2002

This conventional woman-in-jeopardy suspencer, screened at the American Film Market in February, has enough predictable situations to place it in the lightweight horror category.

A young Chicago couple, married two years, move into their country dream home only to discover their neighbors are not all they appear to be. The young wife (A.J.Cook) is left vulnerable when husband (Matthew Harrison) has to spend two weeks in LA on business. James Russo provides so-so excitement as the heavy-next-door.

While Joey Travolta directs competently, we don't get to know enough about the characters to make us care very much what happens to them in the situations they are placed.

Good ethnic humor makes this worth seeing., 1 March 2002

I'm a sucker for a movie with "wedding" in its title and this one does not disappoint. Lots of ethnic humor, lots of ethnic dancing and lots of ethnic charm too.

Toula, played by Nia Vardalos who also wrote the screenplay, is the so unmarried daughter of Gus Portokalos (Michael Constantine), Greek restaurant owner who believes all knowledge and understanding emanates from Greece. He goes ballistic when Toula falls for Ian (John Corbett) who happens not to be from the Old Country. The fun starts when Gus's prolific family conspire to convince him you don't have to be Greek to be a nice guy.

There are the usual cousins/nephews/sons and daughters-in-law/fathers and mothers-in-law/ lots of people called Nick interacting and acting out genuine humor as the wedding switches off and on and then off again. Director Joel Zwick keeps the fun low key, an aspect I found surprisingly affective. Certainly worth seeing for those who like this sort of thing.

A fascinating, highly recommended film, 28 February 2002

13 Conversations About One Thing

Combine a cadre of fine actors and some sharp and intuitive writing and the result is a independent movie that is as fresh and stimulating as anything coming out of mainstream Hollywood.

In "13 Conversations", nine ordinary people come to grips with the fundamental question of why fortune smiles on some, laughs at others.

At first, their lives run separately, then parallel and finally, interweave to form a tapestry that highlights the hope, guilt, honesty, love and triumph that is the fabric of the human condition.

Top acting honors go to Alan Arkin, middle manager watching his luckless life unravel; house cleaner Clea DuVall questioning the part fate plays in her life; Matthew McConaughey, the prosecuting attorney shocked into reassessing his moral character following a late-night accident; math teacher John Turturro, whose chalkboard formulas take on tragic significance and his distraught wife, Amy Irving, a shattered life made whole by a casual human gesture.

The writing by Karen Sprecher and Jill Sprecher is revealing in substance, economic in style. Director Jill Sprecher has brought it all together into a fascinating film that I highly recommend. Seen at the American Film Market in February.

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