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Shoot 'Em Up (2007)
a "postured" film
Long on style- of a sort, Shoot 'em Up was as annoying as it was intriguing. While the back-story was interesting but sparse, the movie had the look and feel of a gritty graphic novel set annoyingly to the loudest and possibly most raucous soundtrack I've heard since the end of Hot Fuzz. I kept wanting to hit the mute key. I kept feeling as if Mr Owen was at some point going to strike one of the Matrix freeze-frame poses after his more outlandish stunts. The best thing about it was Mr Owen and his female 'friend' which made the experience bearable, but not worth recommending. Unfortunately, while Paul Giamatti had some of the best lines, i didn't find him particularly menacing, just unpleasant.
A Good Year (2006)
seduction on film
this film was so amazing - not for the main story line, which although pleasant was no great shakes but for the quiet seduction of the viewer (as max) by Provence and its people. This film FELT like a sunny Sunday in Provence. The ambiance charmed even more than the characters. Unfortunately, it was hard for me to believe that max could change character so promptly as the story progressed. I kept wondering where the conniving @#)* was going to peek out, and this was distracting. After a second viewing, it was better and this didn't bother me as much. Likewise, it seemed that the love story was a bit rushed, and the interplay from his cousin and his friend just seemed wasted (although it was quite fun).
If i had to compare the charm of this movie to any other, i would say Chocolat.
total popcorn fun!
At last, a horror movie that's meant to be fun. Not that there is anything here played for a joke, that would be taking the easy way out. Rather, the comedy is in the reactions of people to the situation and to each other. The lead actor, played by Nathan Fillion is appropriately darling, manly and actually has one or two of the best lines, but it's the expressions on his face that got us going a couple of times. Last seen playing the hard-edged but valiant captain of the Firefly, he is still the leader, quick to take charge but is a kinder, gentler guy. The mayor, played by Greg Henry (who had a guest role on Firefly) was terrifically fun to watch as well. Special effects were alternately pretty good and slightly cheesy, but on the whole not so bad. After it ended, we were still sitting there laughing.
A grossly fun time.
Starsky & Hutch (2004)
i tried, really i tried.....(spoiler)
but i couldn't stand this movie. It's not that the premise was unreasonable, but rather, that the script was just not funny except very very very rarely.
I enjoyed some aspects of Owen Wilson's and Ben Stiller's performances, but they were wasted with this bad of a script. The new Huggy Bear was an enjoyable addition to the lackadaisical action, but even he could not pull this one out of the trash can. I appreciate that this was equal parts sendup and satire, but the problem is while you are spending all your time remembering the old series, you forget about the movie... There was nothing in either of the main characters that made you care in any way for or about what happened to them. In fact after 3/4 of the way through the movie, i wanted to shoot them and spare myself any more pain.
The best part of the movie? (spoiler) the end when the "REAL" David Starsky had to hand over his Torino to Stiller.
an underfunded MATRIX (spoiler)
I admit I came to this movie just for Sean Bean, but since he left early in the film (as usual), I stayed because it was pretty fascinating. Christian Bale's performance was great- he nailed the character and the changes the character must experience. Perfect for the role. Sean was great as always... I found the set design and locations fit the movie very well, really drawing on the historical horror we feel for the former east germany. Quite stylish in it's own way (ala matrix). However, the cars were a really jarring note. What awful cheap concepts! Far from being futuristic, they looked very dated. I also appreciated the energy the director brought to the production. Considering where it was filmed and in what conditions, very easily it could have sunk into a stultifying mass of 'greyness' - but he was able to successfully keep the energy up and make you want to see it to the end. The martial arts moves and man to man combat were quite good and interesting, even to someone who's seen matrix multiple times.
The storyline is exceedingly interesting. What WOULD you sacrifice to remove violence from your world? A question that we are asking more and more at the present time. Perhaps our esteemed leaders should pay attention to this storyline.
Overall, i enjoyed this movie very much. My expectations were low, but it was really very good. I just dont understand why it was removed from the theatres after only one or two weeks. I really think it could have been improved by a larger budget for certain scenes (and for some better cars!). But I recommend it very much.
The Quiet American (2002)
what a cynical tale.... or is it?
A very good movie that takes place during that gray time 'tween the exit of the French from Vietnam, but just before America enters in significant scale. A time when certain small groups were 'consulting' with the Vietnamese. Michael Caine is perfect in the role of the English reporter based in Vietnam, who has settled into his role of the dissolute ex-patriot who has a stable, comfortable life and is easing his way along to retirement. Into his world comes an increasing level of violence due to the turmoil of the vietnamese situation. Also into his world comes a fresh, young, seemingly idealistic and naive boy-man from america, come to do medical aide work. This young man is respectful and appears to admire the englishman, a hard combination to refuse. Michael Caine's character is drawn to this young man and he befriends him, opening up his world and his personal life. But very soon, small things cause Caine to sit up and take notice.... An attempt is made on his own life, but comes to naught due to the young american's interference and apparent ability. Also, his personal life has become a quagmire. His boss is requiring him to return to England, his mistress's sister is cold-bloodedly shopping for a better deal for her sister, his hated wife back in England wont cooperate in a divorce and now the new American friend has come to him to say that he loves the mistress and wants to take her back to America! What is a man to do? Well, you do what you have to. Especially if you find out that the idealistic young man isnt what you thought he was. Especially if you find out he really isnt naive at all, speaks vietnamese like a native, is an agent of a foreign power and is trafficking in explosives that are being used as terrorist weapons. How easily the decision is made. How rapidly the rationalization is adopted. How lucky for the englishman that there is someone to do the dirty work of removing his rival.
I really enjoyed this movie. Michael Caine, although not a personal favorite, really nailed the character. Brendan Frasier's character is a hard one to achieve.... first so unable to deal with life in a foreign country, then totally adept, but having to be believable in both guises. He does a pretty good job, but in the end, its not that important as Caine's performance overshadows everyone else's.
an excellent "picture" window on apartheid
This moody, mystery (of a sort) is a real gem. I enjoyed it from beginning to end and my only complaint is that it ended too quickly! Sean Bean has an amazing facility with accents and demonstrates his wonderful acting ability in the von heerdon character - showing the embarrasment,anger and angst that an elightened afrikaaner feels about the apartheid-bound stupidities in his world. John Hurt also does a good job with the older journalist who condemns but in effect condones because he wont question the system. All this is wrapped up in the search for a killer - a killer that becomes more to von heerden than a story. Without giving anything away, the end of the movie, while totally predictable, is so angst-filled that i ended up crying for von heerden. Oh, and catch the music at the end of the film - great stuff!
Stormy Monday (1988)
highly recommended for fans
Believe it or not, i saw this movie when it first came out on video around a decade ago. While i remember Sting and TL Jones, i had NO idea that Sean Bean was is in it! Since Ive now joined the loyal club devoted to him, i was happy to find it on DVD. Must say first that this movie has held up extremely well to the test of time. Other than we notice how young the actors look, the plot has not aged. TL Jones as usual gives a masterful performance as the "bad" guy, but with a plaintive twist as one who just cant believe he cant get what he wants. Sting gives a restrained but polished performance (why i watched it all those years ago), and Mr. Bean is fantastic as the naive but determinedly loyal employee who has a heart. I would recommend this to all fans of his. The setting is gritty enough for the plot to be believable and is somewhat film noir. Other than a slightly weak start, it holds yr attention and builds to a tense finale successfully. The only thing i didnt like was the "american week" radio schtick... dont know, but somehow found it embarrassing. The DVD features are no great shakes, but then considering the age of the film, i wasnt expecting even a trailer (which you do get).
Essex Boys (2000)
This movie was reviewed as the English version of Goodfellas, and although the plot lines are similar in a way, and the insanity is much the same, it felt much grittier and harder-edged. Maybe it's the way they treat their women or something. Although the camraderie amongst the 'boys' appeared much the same superficially, underneath there was no 'club'. Sean Bean was so realistic as a bad-guy, that he was REALLY scary. Really hope it was great acting and not a window into his soul showing here. I was surprised at the quality of acting shown by Alex Kingston too. The supporting cast was fine, and it was interesting to see Essex for those of us who live on the other side of the pond. My interest was actually captured farther on in the film by the quick-paced events and the twisted plot line. Imaginative and surprising writing, although the dialogue wasnt as good as Goodfellas. Overall, i recommend it, but it was a hard one to watch -
Sharpe's Eagle (1993)
Sooo good! (minor spoilers?)
The action and, let's face it, Sean Bean are what brought me to this series, but the wit and humor are what make me watch it over and over. One of the best one-liners from "Harper" requires you to know the historical context behind it, but mostly you can enjoy this series without knowing much history at all. Sean Bean is wonderful as the romantic hero who is not afraid of anyone or anything as he takes on the daring missions his superiors set for him. And Brian Cox is a real standout as the finageling Irishman who pulls many of Sharpe's strings. Daragh O'Malley is a rare find as Sharpe's sargeant too. The production quality is good and the locations and set dressing are very realistic. I especially appreciate that the actors actually get dirty when they fight (something you don't always see in these period pieces). A great episode chock full of 'eye candy'. It's going to be hard not to wear out the DVD with this episode.