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See "For the Love of Movies" and get the other perspective that is being shut out from our society.
18 June 2009
I recently viewed Gerald Peary's "For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism," at the Lake Placid Film Forum. It drew a small crowd. It wasn't aided by the seasonable weather, or its matinée schedule. But the audience knew there was something genuine about it. For the first time, to my knowledge, a critic has taken their discussion to the screen in order to prove the influence of film critique on cinema culture. The result was a fascinating look back to the beginning of the medium up to the modern age of internet based critics.

The film gives us a brief history of film review, from the early writings of Robert Sherwood, to the debating Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael. It further goes into the age of recognized television personalities like Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel leading up to the current realm where printed media is on the way out and people look to the web for reviews.

The film asks its audience the question of why do we need film critics? Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe argues that they "expand and inform the reader about what is more than just a movie." Stuart Kalwans of The Nation further explains that "criticism is about your relationship to the work, the world and the shifting ways of that world."

Each of these opinions is correct. However, a mentor of mine who recently passed away left these words—"I believe in writing and the power of art to transform consciousness." His name was Donald Kearns, a local resident of Plattsburgh NY who loved film and literature. It is my belief that this is the true nature of film critique, as is any critical opinion: to allow the reader to see another perspective. The film clearly illustrates that many of the original recognized film critics, like Sarris, were devout film lovers. The art of cinema set them free and provided for intellectual stimulation that encouraged their discussions.

One of the reasons that I enjoyed this film so much was because of my own interest in film review. Several years ago I wrote for a local news-magazine near my hometown. I wrote a review for every movie that I saw theatrically, although only a handful were ever published. But it allowed me, a lonely film buff, the opportunity to reach out to others and create a discussion. In so doing, I met the most extraordinary people: film lovers, writers, exhibitors, musicians, professors and people from all walks of life. And every one of them had something to comment on, whether they liked the movies or not.

Moreover, "For the Love of Movies" expanded my own knowledge not only of the review process, but of influential theories by Sarris and Kael. Their collected works influenced filmmakers of their generation and the next. But as we head father into the future, and critique jobs become eliminated by online clip-quotes, movie marketing campaigns only emphasize what is big, loud and aggressive. As such, we lose something so valuable—the genuine voice of those who love film.

There is debate between filmmakers and critics as some movies reviewed are poorly received. Filmmakers may ask the question to critics, do you think you can make a better movie? Maybe they can. Maybe they cannot. The truth is that it does not matter. Critics are connoisseurs of film. They do not have to go and produce something better because that's not their job. My advice to filmmakers is to take it all in stride. The process of making a movie is like crafting an art form. Not everyone will appreciate your perspective. After all, a person can be a wine lover and have never made their own bottle. And how many people do you know who love cars but have no idea what is going on beneath the hood.

Alarmingly enough, over 28 major film critics for printed journals have lost their jobs in recent years. The situation is not helped by the current economic times, as well as the push to websites. Some formerly employed critics are now heading to the web. However, the internet has given rise to its own breed—James Berardinelli is a perfect example. He is a web based film critic who can actually write a fine review whether you agree with him or not. But there are so many others who only comment on what is flashy or the current fads in the market. Therefore, how can their opinions be justified if they cannot provide a backdrop to compare a film against?

My advice to the average reader seeking movie recommendations is trust your best judgment. It's easy to see the hacks and the ones who actually care about film. Even with the shift from print media to online sources, critics will go on. There's always going to be a different perspective out there that deserves its recognition. But who will be the next film critic, online or in print, to truly change the way films are perceived? We'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, see "For the Love of Movies" and get the other perspective that is being shut out from our society.
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A Major Disappointment
3 October 2006
Usually when a production manages to assemble an ensemble cast of some of the best in commercial cinema, you would expect the end result to be something special. The only thing special about the remake of "All the King's Men," is how bad it is. The movie is flat out boring reflecting a script from director/screenwriter Steven Zaillian ("A Civil Action") that fails to recapture the flare of a great American novel and the wit of an earlier great American movie.

"All The King's Men" is essentially the same story as the original film followed from Robert Penn Warren's novel. Politician Willie Stark (Sean Penn), who starts out as a honest man seeking a seat as county treasurer is quickly encouraged to run for governor after a school house catastrophe he warned the public about. However, Stark soon realizes that he is the fall-guy for another candidate and his campaign for governor swings into all out sensation. His speeches are loud, boisterous and truthful reminding the simple country folk that greedy city politicians will ruin them by "stealing every nickel out of your pocket saying thank you, please!" With the help of local reporter, Jack Burden (Jude Law), Stark soon becomes corrupt by using the power given to him by the people. He funds colleges, roads, bridges and hospitals—but he takes plenty for himself along the way. When his exploits come to the attention of family friend to Burden and public figure Judge Irwin (Anthony Hopkins), Stark seeks to quiet the judge through methods of intimidation. A spiraling affect takes place on all figures involved as Stark comes under investigation by the state courts. Burden sees his past ties to loved ones and friends diminished by the greed of power he now helps Stark keep, all ending in the finality of innocent lives.

By all rights, this remake should have worked well. The plot holds up by today's standards and could even have been updated somewhat to reflect the current political climate. What is more, the production had the capacity to do so with a great cast—especially by Penn. Penn's performance as Stark is not an emulation of the fantastic role played by Broderick Crawford in 1949, but one of his own. Penn's image of Stark is a hybrid of a minister and potential nutcase. When Penn starts swinging his arms yelling at voters, "You give me the hammer and I'll nail them up," I could feel the blood begin to flow to my brain again after the first dull 15 minutes.

The screenplay is the real problem; it simply does not allow the characters to come to life because it is underdeveloped. The dialogue is simple and the actors do the best with what they have to work with. But it is crucial to note that the original film brought more elements to its plot in a shorter running time than this film and managed to pull it off successfully. Even though I could not help but approach this remake with a sense of bias, it does not change the fact that the original is a much better film.

There is also the subplot of Burden's past—his love for a woman who becomes Stark's mistress, Anne Stanton (Kate Winslet). The movie flashes back to a point where Stanton and Burden are about to make love for the first time. While Stanton lies on the bed waiting for Burden to make his move, he simply looks at her with want, where he proceeds to tell her it is not the right time. As Burden narrates the scene, he explains that an innocence was about to be lost that he could not accept yet? Well…that makes sense considering that is what the loss of virginity is: the acceptance of adulthood and moving forward to another element of life. I could almost see the parallel between innocence and corruption that the film was trying to make, but then I came to my senses and realized that I was just trying to rationalize a subplot that does not work. Instead we are left with a scene where a central character gives up on what could have been an amazing love. But I did not feel sympathy or pity for Burden—I felt he was pathetic. In the original film, we never see Burden and Stanton in any sexual situations, but it is implied that it has probably happened. Moreover, we can identify with the Burden character in the original movie, but not here. The scene is miserably misused and does not coincide with the rest of the film nor does it justify the point it wants to make about innocence.

"All the King's Men" is one of the most disappointing movies I have seen this year. Even if I had seen this film without high hopes, it would not change the fact that the very foundations of the screenplay were severely flawed and would ultimately make for a weak movie.
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Style without restraint
18 September 2006
"The Black Dahlia" is a hybrid among noir films. It is as if the film exists in a plain of the perverse world of "Sin City" combined with a realistic image of Los Angeles in the late 1940s, as in "L.A. Confidential." Although the red hearings that inhabit this world are depraved in one form or another, as are most of the villains in the Noir Genre, there is a point where "The Black Dahlia," based on James Elroy's novel and on a true event, becomes absurd—our suspension of disbelief has to carry us to accept the conclusion. However, in this highly-stylized world that director Brian De Palma has created, there is a devilish fascination where I found intrigue in its decadence.

The story involves that of two cops, Officer Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert, played by Josh Hartnett and Sergeant Leland "Lee" Blanchard, portrayed by Aaron Eckhart, boxing buddies who work a beat tracking down local L.A. hoods. On one of their potential sting operations, they happen upon the mutilated body of an actress, Elizabeth Short (mutilated is an understatement—she has been cut in half and several of her organs have been removed). As the case unfolds, Blanchard becomes obsessed and it manages to take over his life. What's more, the clues to solve this bizarre puzzle lead Bleichert down the path to the young and sultry Madeleine Linscott (Hilary Swank), a bisexual woman who once slept with Short because they the two looked alike. As the world of the normal begins to combine with that of the eccentric, the details of the Ms. Short's murder enter a realm that neither detective could have explained.

When a person hears the words Film-Noir, naturally the greats come to mind like "The Maltese Falcon," and "Chinatown." One of the most recent and best examples of Film-Noir was "L.A. Confidential," which although considered as part of Film-Noir, is actually an almost realistic take on the genre. The events depicted actually had characters who had been real people, like the crime-boss Mickey Cohen and his henchman, Johnny Stompanato. "The Black Dahlia" wants to be like "L.A. Confidential," and it is not simply because both stories were written by James Elroy and share a key character. Rather, "The Black Dahlia's" story exists in a realistic setting, where much sensationalized movie-techniques happen. The style of director De Palma is fantastic as he uses sweeping continuous shots that crane over buildings and follow parallel events without the use of cross-cutting. The use of deep-focus to portray events directly in the foreground and background of a scene keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Also, cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond often places the camera right in front of the actors so when they deliver their dialogue, it is as if they are speaking directly to the audience and to another character in the scene. This technique gives the audience a claustrophobic feel; a technique used by Hitchcock in several films.

Yet, for all these grand technical wonders, the film lacks subtlety. The great sweeping shots, the use of deep focus, even melodramatic performances all mask an almost failure of the director to properly put the film together. It cannot be denied that this movie could have been extremely realistic and shockingly menacing; perhaps on par with "The Silence of the Lambs." After all, the story of the Elizabeth Short murder is not only sensational…it is unsolved to this day. De Palma had the chance to create an original film that borrowed on a noir setting. Instead, he went for broke and settled for noir setting alone.

I have been trying to rationalize in my mind that the film's error was in the script and not the direction (I often find that directors take all the heat for the failures of other aspects of a film—let's face it, more often than not they have to work with what they are given). I wanted to blame the adaptation by Josh Friedman. However, after pondering it for some time, I suppose a more restrained approach to the ending in terms of its final produced setup could have made it seem more realistic. Regardless of the films missteps, I ultimately like the picture. I am a sucker for Film-Noir and was in the right mood when I saw this film to be easy-going on it. "The Black Dahlia" comes off like the younger brother to a better film, "L.A. Confidential." But this is one of those situations where those who compare both films might say "Gee, why can't you be more like your older brother!"
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Crash (I) (2004)
Compelling and Powerful Like No Other Film of 2005!
4 February 2006
Paul Haggis, the writer of the Academy Award Winning "Million Dollar Baby," makes his directorial debut in the year's most compelling drama, "Crash." Unintentionally, Haggis has created a film about race relations in Los Angeles, however, the situations could relate to almost any American city. What is unique about the many characters is that through their discrimination, be it serious or in jest, all present fallacies on the parts of others. Yet, they all speak from a perspective where the viewer, of any ethnic background, can find reasoning in their racial profiling. It is as if the film acknowledges racism, finds understanding and sympathy for it, and then manages to show how absolutely detrimental it is not only for society, but the individual person as a whole. By writing the film in such a way where the characters can be understood by the viewer, Haggis allows the audience to be intimate with those characters. We know that their assumptions are dead wrong, but we never find ourselves truly hating any of them. Take Matt Dillon, for example, who plays a racist, sexist cop. On a routine pull-over, he makes a black couple get out of their car. He frisks them both, but actually gropes the wife. In a later scene, we see this same woman, played by Thandie Newton who has gotten into a terrible accident. She is trapped in her burning car. Who should show up and save her life, but the same cop who accosted her. This is actually one of the films lighter moments of genuine intensity through emotion. But what it represents is the hypocrisy of all the characters. This was a racist cop who pulled this husband and wife over because they were black, and he groped the woman. Yet, he is here saving her life and wants nothing more than to protect her from a horrible death. Watching "Crash," I felt so affected by its brutal honesty and ability to unite its many characters into one giant understanding of the story as a whole. It is the most powerful film to tackle race relations since Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing."
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Syriana (2005)
The messages of the film, along with its elaborate plot will stay with you long after seeing the film.
4 February 2006
One of 2005s most important and intricate films, "Syriana" paints a harsh picture of the dealings of oil companies with Middle East politics. An all star cast leads the show with George Clooney playing a disenfranchised spy, Matt Damon as a financial adviser and Jeffrey Wright as a lawyer whose job is to look for problems with a merger between two of the nations largest oil conglomerates. The film starts as fractured short stories that eventually intertwine into the whole film. The complexities of the plot are too detailed to delve into in such a short description; however, the messages are clear. Corporate responsibilities in a third world country where poverty and political unrest reside are very crucial. Also, the film is not shy to show the failure of governments to recognize the needs of their own people. Corruption is the name of the game. As Wright's character soon finds during his investigation of the merger, corruption plays a key role in the winners and losers of any major economic or political battle. As a political insider says to him, "Corruption ain't nothing more than government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulation." While watching "Syriana," I felt glued to the story. The messages of the film, along with its elaborate plot will stay with you long after seeing the film.
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Murray's Minimalist Performance Resonates Long After The Film Ends!
4 February 2006
No one can portray emptiness like Bill Murray. That stoic countenance shows more loneliness and confusion about a life devoid of meaning than almost any other character in a movie this year. The movie tells the story of Don (Murray) who is a real Don Juan. However, when an anonymous letter arrives one day stating that he is the father of a son he does not know about, Don's life turns upside down. At first, he does not care. But his sleuth-life neighbor, Winston, insists that Don go on a road trip to visit his ex-girlfriends to discover who the mysterious mother of his son could be. Don hits the road and begins his search. But what he discovers after a series of unusual reunions is just how much he has missed out on in his life. There is a scene around the films beginning where Don is sitting in his living room. He sits on the edge of his couch, his arms on his knees and he looks at a bottle of wine in front of him. He reaches for it, and then pulls back. He taps his fingers together. We simply watch as this character becomes indecisive due to his uncertainty of anything pertinent in his life. He has become truly lost and cannot make up his mind as to whether or not he simply would like a glass of wine. Murray pulls the meaninglessness of this character's life off fantastically. Moreover, the script and direction from Jim Jarmusch ("Coffee and Cigarettes") show an artistic flare for film-making long devoid in most mainstream films.
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Integrity And Truth In The Public's Best Interests!
4 February 2006
Gorge Clooney takes the director's chair for his second time and has crafted a well detailed and hauntingly documented look at how Edward R. Murrow took on Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. Murrow is played by David Staithairn ("L.A. Confidential") in what has become his most recognized performance. Filmed entirely in black and white to give the film a feel of authenticity, the movie exhibits how scare tactics and the like were used on American society in such frivolous ways that even reporters ran in fear of McCarthy and his committee hearings. But not Murrow—the man set a standard in integrity that has become bedrock in the journalism industry today to report the truth, which was and is always in the public's best interests. His famous lines, "We will not walk in fear, one of another," and "We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home," show that he was a reporter out simply to do what was right. It was not about ratings. It was not about vanity. It was not black and white; it was about right and wrong. That standard of integrity is hard to find these days, even in the news business where sensationalism has crafted the news into 'info-tainment.'
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King Kong (2005)
Jackson's Remake Is Astonishing!
4 February 2006
It is surprising to say, but Peter Jackson's "King Kong" is even better than the original 1933 classic. What both the classic and this remake have in common are visual effects and suspense so profound for their times that they leave the audience blown away. Jackson's "Kong" had the finest creature visual effects seen since "Jurassic Park." Moreover, its ability to leave one on the edge of their seat was amazing—there were so many moments in this three hour saga where my hands clenched the theater chairs. But what separates this remake from the classic is its human connection. The relationship between Kong and Ann Darrow, played marvelously by Naomi Watts, is deeply moving. Kong is entranced by Darrow's beauty and feels a need to protect and possess her. After the movies' amazing fight between Kong and three tyrannosauruses, Kong takes Ann to a secluded cliff and they watch the sunset together. Ann looks at Kong and says 'beautiful' while she pats her heart. Later, while on top of the Empire State Building, Kong looks at the sunrise and back at Ann. He stares at her with those lost, lonely eyes and he pats lightly on his chest to signify her being 'beautiful' to him. This was a deeply moving film in a way that the original was not. The character development is top-notch. The screenplay is not a direct rehash of the original film. You get the impression that Jackson and his crew truly care about the story. In the end, they made the best of the big-budge visual effects films of the year—probably one of the best visual effects movies in the past ten years.
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Saraband (2003 TV Movie)
Bergman's Final Great Film
4 February 2006
Ingmar Bergman's last film, and his first in twenty years, proves that this avant-garde filmmaker was one of the best directors in the history of cinema. In this case, we have a story of a woman named Marianne (Liv Ullmann) who one day decides to visit her ex-husband, Johan (Erland Josephson) only to find that Johan's life is in shambles—his relationship with his son Henrik is a disaster due to Johan's abandonment of Henrik as a younger man. Moreover, Henrik has become a widower and his relationship with his own daughter Karin is based upon replacing his dead wife that Henrik cannot forget. It is a painful film to witness and yet, that is part of its beauty. Bergman's movies focused upon subconscious desires. Bergman faces this film, like his others, with truths we do not want to face. In this case, Johan is an old man in his mid eighties and he comes to the realization that every relationship he has ever had with a woman has been disappointing. Perhaps this is due to an unfair standard or his unwillingness to accept the differences and faults of others. Only Marianne can appreciate this lost soul and deal with the pains of her own life with an open mind. This is an extraordinary film for its truth in story telling and profound direction from a filmmaker who set a standard upon what would become art-house, or independent film-making.
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Masterful Cinema
4 February 2006
Jane Austen's classic novel about a young poor woman who falls in love with a rich man is masterfully crafted as one of the best love stories to hit cinema in a very long time. The story crosses the boundaries of Victorian England to be ever pertinent in today's society as it portrays relationships among different classes. Keira Knightly gives the finest performance of her career portraying the strong willed Elizabeth Bennet. Outstanding performances resonate throughout this film, most notably by Matthew Macfadyen, Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn. But it is more than a beautiful and honest love story—it is film-making at its most breathtaking. The cinematography by Roman Oshin is lavish throughout with its continuous shots that had to be meticulously choreographed. The dialogue of the screenplay is taken almost directly from Austen's book and is a fine representation of the era. Even the musical score by Dario Marianelli adds to the greatness of this moving and comical love story that was so finely directed by Joe Wright. It is the year's most delightful film.
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The New World (2005)
"The New World" is a marvelous film built on reflective images through both its cinematography and narration.
22 January 2006
The story of Pocahontas and her relationship with John Smith has long been renowned in early American history. The common misconception is that she and Smith were lovers. This notion has been played upon in literature and even popular family entertainment such as Disney's 1995 movie, "Pocahontas." Terrence Malick's new film, "The New World" takes that road, as well. However,it never becomes a sexual relationship; at least not that we ever see.

The characters at most share a kiss from time and time and admit they love one another. The film's producer, Sarah Green, defends this by implying that the filmmakers wanted to maintain an element where the film combines the actual history with the mythology of Pocahontas' life. The implied love between Smith and Pocahontas is highly effective in telling the story. The love story is what drives her to help the colonials and to persuade her future choices to marry Rolfe and go to England. In the end, we see a woman who is more than a lover and a diplomat, but a truly courageous and open minded individual who bridged the cultural gap between nations.

The basic facts are known about Pocahontas—she and Smith were friends and she helped the Jamestown colony by providing food during the harsh winter. But "The New World" goes beyond the fundamentals and delivers her entire life. Smith eventually is sent back to England on an expedition to the Northern American lands for the King. Pocahontas is eventually captured by the colonials as leverage between the then warring English and as the films refers to, Naturals (Natives). During that time, Pocahontas assimilates into the English culture through style of dress and the like, while never forgetting her past. She eventually meets John Rolfe, marries him and has a son. They go to England where she is received by the King and Queen and are treated as royalty. She eventually dies of disease.

What separates this film from being a documentary is how it is crafted. "The New World" is a film built on reflective images through both its cinematography and narration. The cinematography often focuses on the wind in the trees, the flowing of water, the changing of the seasons, sunrises and sunsets. Not at any time does this film succumb to being a common entertainment—it is not built on useless action scenes or unnecessary violence. Nor does it pursue any sexual element between either love stories involving Pocahontas with Smith or Rolfe. After all, when she met Smith, Pocahontas was no more than 14 years old.

Still the film is glorious to observe. Its narration, perhaps the poetry of a journal or the ramblings of characters in their elder years, brings an evocative feel to the picture. It is as if director Malick wants the audience to feel the passage of time as the characters did. Moreover, the film asks us to slow down and appreciate elements of nature before a time when development would take over these lands. We are immersed in shots of the forests, the rivers that lead to the ocean and of the sandy beaches of the Virginia coastline. Combined with the musical score of composer James Horner, this being the finest score he has produced since "A Beautiful Mind," the film takes on a form of escapism like no other film of 2005.

Pocahontas is played by newcomer Q'Orianka Kilcher in a very fine performance. She plays the young princess with subtlety showing the free-spirited antics of a young woman combined with a maturity beyond her years.

Colin Farrell plays Smith with finesse. He represents the famed British soldier with a warrior's drive combined with the mind of appreciation for the new world he is discovering. In other scenes, he portrays the care he feels for Pocahontas through expressionism. In one particular scene, he comes to the realization that any pursuit of a future with Pocahontas is out of the question. We see his eyes well up and his somber countenance evoking a deeper, inner sorrow.

Even more credit needs to be given to Christopher Plummer's short performance of the leader of the English crew at the film's beginning. Plummer has a presence of authority that few actors command. His constant dignified look and manners or speech represent not only those of a refined character, but of a refined actor. Also, Christian Bale is terrific as Rolfe. His love for the native princess is disheartened by her grief over loosing Smith and leaving her people. But the character never becomes enraged or jealous of Smith—he is a gentleman and will not be reduced to that level. He loves her and understands that her relationship with Smith was something that he could not be. Bale portrays this performance with the class of veteran actors like Michael Caine. Incidentally, Bale played a voice in Disney's 1995 "Pocahontas" as one of the English settlers.

The very title signifies more than the new world that the English found. It represents the new world that the native princess would find herself in, and every new world that she would encounter on the road of her short, yet amazing life.

I have always noted that film is an expression of life. "The New World" is a film that expresses a different kind of life, in a different time amongst diverse individuals. Regardless of whether or not an intimate relationship existed between Smith and Pocahontas is a myth that is disputed by countless historians. But in this case, I do not care. This film is so effective through the subtlety of its storytelling, cinematography, performance, musical score and direction that it transcends the simplicity of the term 'history' to become 'legend.' What a marvelous film!
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Munich (2005)
One of 2005s Best Films!
8 January 2006
This is one of Spielberg's best films. The reason for that is simply that Spielberg addresses both sides of the issues between Israelis and Palestinians. Certainly he is pro-Israeli. But he is not anti-Palestinian. What we see in "Munich" that is even more convincing is how the leader of the Israeli assassination squad, Avner, played by Eric Bana, is that with every step of reciprocity that the Israeli's take, they lose something more internalized—their very identity is threatened to become everything that they have sought to prove and believed in. For example, in one scene, one member on the squad approaches Avner and says that he cannot go on doing this. He begins to weep. He says he doesn't even feel Jewish anymore and that the ones involved in the terrorist plot in Munich must be brought to justice—not simply murdered. As the film approaches its end, we see Avner, then living in New York City with his wife and child. After his mission, he has become extremely paranoid and feels that the Israeli Government may be trying to kill him to cover up any relationship to the assassination squad. One of the government officials played by Geoffrey Rush approached him and tells him essentially to calm down and not worry—they aren't after him. However, as their conversation goes on, Bana invites Rush's character to dinner at his home. Bana says something along the lines of, "Well, you're a Jew. I'm a Jew. Isn't their something written in stone that I have to invite you to my home for dinner? We can break bread together." Rush's character simply says no and walks away. You come to realize that everything they stood for has been lost in search of revenge, rather than justice. It all comes to bare on the most popular quote in the movie, given by the actress who plays Golda Meir, "Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values."
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8 January 2006
This is a very emotionally painful film to watch, and for many more reasons than the obvious. Certainly the story is upsetting when you see two people who are deeply in love with each other and because of circumstance it cannot be pursued, or must be kept a secret. But what about the people involved in the whole circle, and the times they live in. These two men, Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhall) meet as young sheepherders in 1963. They are from the Great Plains where the notions of everyday people are not really liberal or fair-minded. They know the danger that could await them if their secret got out. Moreover, what about their families? Each character has children and a wife. How would this affect their relationships with those members? Obviously their wives would probably divorce them and maybe they would never see their children again. All these men eventually have is a seasonal trip to Brokeback Mountain where they first met. The film is not shy about the subject homosexuality or showing the intimacy of their relationship. But I never found it to be anything offensive, pornographic, amoral, etc. This movie is not a film that seeks the why of anything. It does not try to be a psychological, physiological or morality study. It is simply a tragic love story between two people who are forced to keep their affections a secret. Nothing more or less, this is the reason why the film is so painful to watch. It strikes an emotional core that we can all relate to. The performances are outstanding, especially Ledger's, as he is the protagonist of the film. But that's not to down Gyllenhall is any way. He's a fine young actor and I've been a fan of his ever since I saw "October Sky" in 1999. What is more? The cinematography is breathtaking. Ang Lee's direction is terrific. He's a director who has quite a diverse pallet—from "Sense & Sensibility, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," even "Hulk" was a fine film. There have been other films that have tackled gay relationships before, but not so mainstreamed as this. And, certainly not with one of the greatest and most conservative of American images—the cowboy.
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Malèna (2000)
Director Tornatore has crafted a film that is deeply personal.
1 August 2005
It was two years ago when I first saw "Malena" and no matter how many times I see it, I am deeply captivated by it. I am probably so connected to the film because I can relate to it one form or another. The story of a boy coming of age and his fascination with a woman who he cannot have is a common idea for a film, however, it is done here so exquisitely through director Giuseppe Tornatore's realistic writing style, cinematography and the moving score of composer Ennio Morricone. The end result is a film of longing and bittersweet memories of people and times that we all must let go of in order to grow up. It is a story about innocence lost and the love gained through obsession.

"Malena" follows the story of a young man named Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro) and his obsession with a local woman, Malena (Monica Bellucci) widowed during World War II in Sicily. He follows her around town, fantasizes about her constantly, even spies on her through a peep hole in the wall of her house. But he is not a pervert. Renato is getting his first taste of infatuation—one that would turn to love. Regardless of his obsession, Malena is ostracized by the community for her beauty. Men want her and tell their wives that she is disgusting and all of the town's women despise her—so much so in fact that she is denied work. As such, she is forced into prostitution in order to afford food. Renato understands her circumstance and does not hate her, but learns to loathe the town for what they have made Malena into. All the while, Renato is growing into a young man and learning the ups and downs of adolescence. His obsession for Malena grows over time until the point Malena is driven out of the community by an angry mob of women who beat her for being a whore. But everything will change when Malena's thought-to-be dead husband shows up in search of the love he left behind for the war.

"Malena" is not simply a whimsical story of the exploits of a young man. It is much deeper than that. It is about a young man growing and understanding the world through his obsession. He learns to understand the power of love and the hypocrisy and setbacks that societies intend upon those it does not want to succeed. Malena is the would-be victim of circumstance and the ultimate victim of society's cruelty. In the beginning, Malena is a pure woman. But to be looked at as a whore and forced to become one in order to survive, Malena becomes the scapegoat for the insecurities of those around her. The character Renato knows this. He vows to protect her, but there are only so many things that a young man no older than thirteen can do.

Director Tornatore has crafted a film that is deeply personal. Taking place during the hardest of times and when the world was changing so rapidly in the face of revolution, the real revolution is that of the one occurring inside Renato's character. The war not only brews in the environment around him, but also inside himself with his passion for this woman. As such, Tornatore has given us reason to reflect upon ourselves and the times long since gone when we faced our first heartaches. The film's last lines are the most poignant as the narrator, an adult Renato reflects on his feelings for Malena after seeing her for the last time, "I peddled as fast as I could as if I were escaping from longing, from innocence, from her. Time has passed and I have loved many women. And as they have held me close and asked if I will remember them, I've said, 'yes, I will remember you.' But the only I've never forgotten is the one who never asked—Malena." **** Out of ****
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Fork-in-the-Road Story Gives Way To Sappy Love Story.
5 June 2005
"For Love of the Game" is the story of one baseball player's final game shown through flashbacks from the meeting of a beautiful woman up to the final game in his career. It is a concept that could have worked if the film had not fallen to the melodrama of its love story. Where it manages to stay afloat is in its portrayal of its principal character, Billy Chapel, played by Kevin Costner.

In one of the opening scenes, Billy is confronted by the team's owner, Mr. Wheeler (Brian Cox.) Wheeler informs Billy that he has sold the team and the new owners want to trade Billy. Since Billy is 40 years old and at the end of a poor season, Wheeler encourages him to retire. Not exactly what Billy wanted to hear on an exceptionally rough morning—his girlfriend Jane (Kelly Preston) never showed up for their dinner date the night before. Soon Jane calls and tells Billy that she is moving to London for a new job and that she can no longer be with him. She tells Billy that all he needs are the ball, the plate and the game to get by.

With that in mind, Billy heads out to the plate in Yankee Stadium to pitch the last game of the season. He throws well but the slightest reminder of the past triggers bittersweet memories, from meeting Jane, the flourishing of their relationship and their ups and downs. Then Billy remembers when he cut his hand in a sawing accident. Thanks to Jane, he manages to get to a hospital and save his hand. But as Billy recovers, he is faced with the notions that he might never throw again. Unwilling to accept this, he pushes Jane away. This is the point in the present that Billy starts to feel the pain in his arm and his throwing becomes a problem.

From the pain his arm, to his regret at loosing Jane, we see Billy struggle to top his career. But he swallows his emotions and pain and remembers the words of his father, "simply play catch, Billy. Just throw the ball." With that, Billy manages to pitch the perfect game. But naturally, one thing is missing, Jane and it all leads to inevitable airport confrontation ending. The problem with this movie is not in poor performances, but rather in the sappiness of its love story. Preston plays Jane as the kind of woman who can make the simplest things complicated, but with a genuine tenderness that cannot be denied. She is quirky but cares for Billy. But as the film goes into a montage of their early years, we see just about every relationship cliché play out. She asks him the foreseeable questions—"Do you believe in God? Have you ever gotten your heart broken?" And my favorite, "Do you like the dark meat or the white meat, because the dark meat is the fatty part and it's not good for you." Between the rolling of my eyes and my cringing at the embarrassment of these questions, I could not help but ask myself, shouldn't they have established all of this long before now?

The biggest problem is the ending. The two kiss, and Billy says to Jane that he loves her. Jane responds, "I never believed it." Billy replies, "Believe it." The two kiss some more and fades out. It leaves you with nothing to embrace and the picture becomes instantly forgettable. You simply want to walk away saying, "Well, there it is."

What I do like about the movie is that the central character is faced with a life changing decision—ending his career, his life's passion. Baseball is what he loves and he cannot let it go. Ironically enough, director Raimi would bring this same concept up in his excellent film, "Spider-Man 2," five years after "For Love of the Game." As Peter Parker/Spider-Man says, "Sometimes we have to give up the thing we want the most to do what is right—even our dreams." That is a tough decision for any person to make when they are part of something they love and for one reason or another, it has to end. In film, if done correctly, this can make for a powerful storytelling riddled with conflict and ultimate resolution. Unfortunately, that is not done here.

"For Love of the Game" is neither entirely bad, nor entirely good. The concept of facing the fork-in-the-road choices work well, and adding a love story was to be expected. However, the film becomes half chick-flick and half a story about moving on. If it could only find a better balance with improved writing, it could have worked out. **1/2 out of ****
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Downfall (2004)
A deeply disturbing, intimate portrait of the insanity of Hitler and the blind faith of his followers at the end.
5 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In recent years, war films have given a new exposure to the sheer nature of war. In "Saving Private Ryan," "Black Hawk Down" and "Born on the Fourth of July," we were exposed to the realities that a soldier endures not only on the battlefield, but what they take with them long after the battles end. However, "Downfall," a German film nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2005 Oscars, brings a unique perspective to the table. It is about the last days of Hitler and the Third Reich and the ultimate demise of both. More so than a war movie, this feature exposes the insanity of Hitler and the blind faith of his followers at the end. It is a deeply disturbing, intimate portrait of the cruelty that he inflicted not only upon 6 million Jews, but ultimately on his own countryman at the end.

Based on the book "Inside Hitler's Bunker" by Joachim Fest, "Downfall" is in a word, shocking. The last act in the great horrific play of the Third Reich plays out like that of a cult—so many men and woman who swore allegiance to Hitler commit suicide by either shooting themselves in the head or by ingesting poison capsules. But the madness of Hitler himself is horrifically captivating. He changes his mind and opinion on a whim. One moment he advises his SS-Guards and Generals to leave the city after learning that he does not have enough troops to protect Berlin. A particular one named Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein , who was Eva Braun's brother-in-law, takes the Fuhrer for his word and leaves Berlin. When Hitler realizes this, he denounces Fegelein and orders him executed. What is more, Hitler discusses the final demise of the German people. He explains that this failure is not only that of the military, but of the civilians themselves. As such, his soldiers do not protect the people from the coming onslaught of the Soviet Army. He advises, "In a war as such there are no civilians."

Hitler is recreated by the superlative performance of Bruno Ganz, who appeared in the 2004 remake of "The Manchurian Candidate." Ganz captures the movement, voice, even the involuntary shaking of Hitler's left hand so well, that the audience would feel as if they are watching the dictator himself. We are often left with shivers down our spine at how realistic Ganz's depiction is.

Surprisingly enough, Thomas Kretschmann, who played the Nazi captain that gave Wladyslaw Szpilman a coat and food in "The Pianist" is seen here as Fegelein. I first noticed Kretschmann as a German U-Boat commander in 2000s, "U-571." He is a remarkable actor who brings with him a demanding presence on the screen through his stern looks and ultimate resolve.

Unfortunately my knowledge of Eva Braun other than Hitler's mistress is limited. So it was refreshing to see a film that revealed her. Based on "Downfall's" depiction, Braun, portrayed by Juliane Kohler, was either one of the shallowest individuals I have ever seen, or she was so blinded by her faith in Hitler that she disregarded almost any sense of reality. For example, during Berlin's first days of bombardment, she becomes bored with being in the bunker and orders a party in an above ball room—not surprisingly during that party a shell lands nearby and blows out windows in the room. Secondly, during later heavy bombardment, realizing that she will commit suicide with Hitler, she writes a letter to a relative where she states what jewelry she will leave behind. She is simply detached from reality and lost in the fanatical jargon of the Fuhrer.

Certainly the film's most disturbing instances occur when Magda and Joseph Goebbels poison their children in the name of the Fatherland. One of their children, a girl probably about 10 years old, has a dim understanding of what is happening and refuses to take the drink given. She is then forced to drink it by her mother and a guard. Later on, Magda would come into her children's room while they were asleep and would give them the final capsule to eliminate them.

"Downfall" is certainly one of the most powerful film's I have ever seen. As stated above, Hitler and his followers played out their existence as if they were in a cult. The blind faith of his followers and the insanity of the man are so well realized by director Oliver Herschbiegel, that it changes one's perception from that of simply being history to that of realism.

These events happened less than a century ago and although most have learned to forgive Germany's past, no one will ever forget it. It is the stigma that haunts this generation of German youth because many of their grandparents or great-grandparents were a part of one of history's most infamous armies. But the fact that this film is German was surprising to me. I would have guessed that no one in Germany would have wanted to dig up their past in this way. However, if one looks at this film as closure to Germany's transgressions, then maybe this new generation of German youth can learn to have a sense of national identity without the horrors of the past seen in their shadows. **** out of ****
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Uplifting Film Powered By Unconventional Story!
3 June 2005
Two years ago, during the summer of 2003, I was working at a movie theater in my home town. "Seabiscuit" was playing and this particular showing was on a run-of-the-mill Wednesday night. As the show was breaking, I opened the door to the house and saw the ending and the audience applauding. The result was the same when I saw the film a week prior on a Sunday afternoon. The new film, "Cinderella Man," had the same effect on the audience the night I saw it. The movie is so inspiring and uplifting in the classic sense of Hollywood splendor, that one finds themselves moved to tears and cheering on the hero of the show. What makes this unique is the fact that this audience is in a movie theater. What we see on the screen is not live. Yet we feel transformed to Madison Square Garden during that amazing night in June of 1935 when James J. Braddock took on Max Baer for the Championship of the World. It is as close to the real thing as we can get these days—and what an experience it is at that. It is what makes going to the movies so magical.

"Cinderella Man" tells the story of once great boxer Jim Braddock played masterfully by Russell Crowe. Early on in his career, Braddock made lots of dough and was adored by family and fans. But after the stock market crash and during the Great Depression, his career goes down the tubes and his abilities dwindle as a fighter. He struggles to find work at the pier and to keep his family fed. It leads to desperate measures on the part of his son to stealing salami from a butcher, his wife sending their children to relatives because they cannot afford to take care of them, to Braddock having to beg for cash. After a time, Braddock's old manager Joe (Paul Giamatti) comes to him with an opportunity by chance to make some quick cash in the ring. Since

Braddock realizes the hardships he has faced, he takes the opportunity for exactly what it is—an opportunity. To him, it is more than just a fight or something he loves; it is a chance to see Madison Square Garden again, a chance to hear the roar of the crowd. And a chance to show his children that he still has what it takes to be a champ. Braddock wins the fight and amazes the audience who barely remembered his existence. He generates a comeback and starts to win fights regardless of his age or condition. This is because his reasons for boxing have changed, "This time around I know what I'm fightin' for—milk!" He has a family and needs to support them. However, the chances become far more dangerous when Braddock is asked to fight against Max Bear, a boxer who killed two men in the ring with his power punches to the head. Regardless of the danger, Braddock agrees to go ahead with the fight, even against his wife's urges to get out of it. It all leads to a stirring finally that will leave the audience breathless and emotional.

One of the film's most touching moments comes when Braddock realizes that his wife Mae (Renee Zellweger) has sent their children away to relatives because they can no longer afford to take care of them. He is deeply upset because he has made a promise to his son that no matter how bad things would get, he would never send the children away. As a desperate measure, he goes to see his old bosses and asks for any money they can spare. He holds out his hat and most drop some coins or a few dollars in. We see Crowe's face at this point, his eyes welling up. You feel his humility and how pathetic his existence has become by begging for money. And yet, he is not a beggar. He simply has nothing left and it is easy to sympathize with him.

There are excellent uses of cinematography in this picture. As the film opens, the camera shots are steady as we see Braddock as a winner in his early days, living in a nice home in New Jersey with plen ty of worldly possessions. Then, as we see Braddock and his family living in a slum apartment, the camera shots become shaky and convey the lack of stability in his life. Some great moments of editing occur during scenes where Braddock gets injured. There is a slow motion shot of the blow to the body. Then the screen goes white momentarily with an ex-ray shot of Braddock,conveying the severity of the pain.

What truly makes "Cinderella Man" go beyond the predictable aspect of an uplifting story is Braddock's merit for his comeback. He is no longer fighting with his passion for the sport or to gain a higher place in society. He fights so his children can eat and be brought up in a home with heat. What began as a man motivated by passion brought down by ability and circumstance, becomes a man motivated by the ability to exist and provide for his family. That, in and of itself, is the true greatness of this film. (***1/2 out of ****)
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Goodfellas (1990)
A Mob-Epic!
13 March 2005
There is a fascination with the underworld that exists in everyone. We find ourselves drawn to the headlines of gang wars and those caught in the middle. After all, Al Copone was a crook, but also a celebrity. It is this fascination that has captivated audiences with gangster pictures from the 1930s with James Cagney in "The Public Enemy" to the more recent "Goodfellas" from director Martin Scorsese. The latter picture, with its sense of realism, like "The Public Enemy" stands the test of time. Its characters are every bit as terrifying, especially Tommy De Vito played by Joe Pesci as was Cagney's portrayal of Tom Powers. And of course with Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta, one can only expect explosive portrayals.

"Goodfellas" tells the story of Henry Hill (Liotta), who from childhood had aspirations of being a gangster. He starts out small, parking Cadillacs for wise guys and eventually works his way up to top of the food chain. By the time he is 21, he has more money than anyone else does his age, a sexy girlfriend, and the respect of the mob. Henry soon teams up with Tommy De Vito (Pesci) and the two work the streets with Jimmy Conway (De Niro) for Paul Cicero (Paul Sorvino). What begins, as robbery becomes another crime: murder, extortion, booze, etc. But after Henry gets married and finds himself rooted deeper into the mob, he begins to take on more than he can handle. Director Scorsese grew up on the streets of New York and witnessed the rough life that people could have. He incorporates his own history into the characters of the film. This is a common practice in most of his films from "Raging Bull," "Taxi Driver," and "Mean Streets," as he has a fascination and love for the Big Apple. But the most obvious aspect of that life is the violence. It is portrayed in "Goodfellas" from a realistic point of view. Scorsese does not hide the blood. He does not hide way people die or where they may end up. He simply shows the gut-wrenching reality of the mob world as is. The most affective example of that realistic violence is Pesci's performance, which garnered him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1990. Tommy's character is a homicidal maniac, and a reminder of Cagney's performance in "White Heat." Pesci is horrifying to watch in action. From the opening scene where he stabs a body that is not quite dead, to his shooting of a young man named Spider who is slow to serve him a drink, the man is simply on fire. Pesci had a similar affect in "Raging Bull." As such, "Goodfellas" is Pesci's "Raging Bull." A scene in "Raging Bull" shows Pesci throwing a drink in a guy's face, then after a merciless beating, drags the guy out onto the street and repeatedly thrashes the man with a car door as the man's body lays half in the car and half outside it. The scene is horrific, but also enthralling. What is even more affective is Scorsese's use of music throughout the film. The time frame ranges from the 1960s to the late 1980s and the film's soundtrack plays like a time warp. The best use of music is Eric Clapton's "Layla," in which Scorsese plays the song's last four minutes—a piano and guitar duo that masterfully captures the feeling for the events in the film. Ultimately, "Goodfellas" is the equivalent of a mob-epic. Like the gangster pictures of the 1930s, there is also social commentary—it is the government that tries to crack down on these criminals, however, it is the police and other public sectors that are hand-in-hand with the mob…and little is ever done to change the situation. ****
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The Aviator (2004)
Martin Scorsese's take on a 20 year period in Howard Hughes' life can only be called spectacular.
31 January 2005
Martin Scorsese's take on a 20 year period in Howard Hughes' life can only be called spectacular. This film has had me raving since the first time I saw it several weeks back. It is an epic that has everything that makes an epic film extraordinary with its story of a person who are bigger than life itself, combined with great visual effects, wonderfully colorful performances, and exposing the utter genius of Hughes, "The Aviator" proves not only be entertaining, but enlightening. Opening with the shot of Hughes as a boy being bathed by his mother and her spelling the word 'quarantine' to him, she instills a fear of disease on what was a fragile mind. We watch how Hughes subtly becomes obsessed with his business ventures into TWA airlines, his scandalous movies, and his building of the world's largest airplane, the Hercules. Furthermore, we see an intimate look at the man from escapades with teenage girls to Hollywood actresses Eva Gardener and Katharine Hepburn, played by Kate Beckinsale and Cate Blanchette, respectively. Blanchette's performance as Hepburn is so colorful and amusing that she proves to be the film's most intriguing performance. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hughes in an excellent performance. The only thing that works against DiCaprio is that he physically looks young, a look he's had trouble shedding considering he is in his early 30s. But it is easy to disregard considering his dialogue delivery and movements are superb. The film flows at a furious rate for a three hour picture and it manages to hold the audience's attention the whole period without succumbing to a single dull moment. Simply put, "The Aviator" is the best film of 2004!
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Debatably it is the best film of 2004.
31 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard to believe it, but Clint Eastwood has done it again. After 2003s "Mystic River," he has managed to direct another powerhouse film, but this time about a young female boxer named Maggie played effortlessly by Hillary Swank. She is trained by a hardened, old school trainer named Frankie who at first does not want to be bothered with her since she is a woman and he "doesn't train girls." But after some persuasion, Maggie manages to get Frankie to train her and their relationship takes on a father/daughter dynamic. She is poor and far away from home and he has lost his daughter's love by some act we never really know about. They learn to depend on each other for strength and guidance. The love they have is deep and cannot be shattered. With his training and wisdom, Frankie gets Maggie to be a major player in the female boxing arena until she gets injured. It now becomes Frankie's job to look after her and to find a piece of family in the least likely of persons. Amazing performances by Swank and Eastwood, and credit must be given to Morgan Freeman as Frankie's gym manager/assistant and for his narration throughout the picture. Debatably it is the best film of 2004.
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Wakey Wakey!!! Eggs and Bakey...
31 January 2005
Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" hits home with the writing guns blazing! The whole movie is an exercise in homage to two particular genres of film: the spaghetti western and kung fu. The film is remarkably introspective and its characters reach a depth that they were not allowed to in "Vol. 1." Especially during the final scene between "the Bride" and Bill, and their daughter, whom "the Bride" did not know was alive. The final confrontation between "the Bride" and Bill, although abrupt, is so powerful that it leaves the audience stunned. Combined with excellent cinematography and a hip soundtrack, "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" along with "Vol. 1" is an epic that will not be forgotten.
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Closer (I) (2004)
And so it is...
31 January 2005
Mike Nichols' version of the play "Closer" is one of 2004s most engrossing films with its sharp dialogue and astonishing performances. Everything about this film cuts to the core of the viewer. We watch as two couples, both formed by chance meetings find themselves involved in adultery and manipulation. Each character claims to love their companion, but at the same point they are willing to use them for sexual gratification and deceit. The performances by Jude Law, Julia Roberts and Natalie Portman are sterling. However, the best comes from Clive Owen who delivers his dialogue with such ferocity that he strikes at the audience as well. You cannot help but be taken aback by how emotionally charged and powerful Owen's acting is—certainly worth his award for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes and his Oscar nomination, as well.
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Sideways (2004)
About...Paul Giamatti!
31 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Alexander Payne ("About Schmidt") takes us on a journey into California wine country to tell his tale of two friends traveling before one takes the vows. One of those friends is Miles, played masterfully by Paul Giamatti. The other, getting married is Jack played with humorous grace by Thomas Haden Church. The two bumbling buddies stumble upon one screwball adventure after another from Jack's sexual escapades to Miles' depression and anti-social behavior leading to excessive drinking. This is one of those movies that puts its characters at turning points in their lives and asks them to move on to something new. A clichéd concept, however, Payne's story-line and dialogue are so fresh that the film becomes a moving portrait, in particular of Miles' life and his downward spiral after his divorce and failures as a writer. Proving to be fresh and funny, "Sideways" has some of 2004s best writing and best performances.
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Kinsey (2004)
"There crime is no crime at all."
31 January 2005
Liam Neeson portrays the famed Alfred Kinsey, a professor at the University of Indiana who took it upon himself to teach the subject of sexuality during the late 1940s. It would be his work that would bring about the sexual revolution. Directed by Bill Condon ("Gods & Monsters"), "Kinsey" is one of the year's most interesting biographical pictures for its honesty and dignity that it brings to the subject of human sexuality. Kinsey himself was a man hell bent on understanding the reasons and reactions that human's have during sex. He approached the subjects of masturbation, different sexual positions, bi-sexuality and homosexuality with such an open mind that he gave people a reason not to be ashamed of themselves for their very nature. "There crime is no crime at all," he says to reporters in response to his findings and books he wrote. Today, there are those who chose to discredit Kinsey for his findings saying that the sexual revolution brought about STDs, unplanned pregnancies, homosexuality, etc. Clearly such notions are preposterous considering people have been engaging in a wealth of different sexual acts since the beginning of time. To blame Kinsey for exposing the truth and adding some dignity to the subject is absurd.
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Before Sunset (2004)
A willingness to drop everything in their world for each other.
31 January 2005
Richard Linklater returns the characters of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) in this sequel to 1995s "Before Sunrise." This time finds the two meeting in Paris during Jesse's book tour and their desire for each other is still ever present. In under an hour and a half, shot in real time, the two discuss the past nine years of their lives from the loss of Celine's grandmother, a profound influence in her life, to Jesse's marital problems. More importantly, the question of what would have been if they had had the chance to stay together beyond their one night of passion nine years before. It is a question they examine throughout the film and a desire for one another that cannot be denied. But the film does not get lost in sexuality. Rather, it focuses on their unique relationship: the moments they share from her singing, to his writing. There are profound truths in this film brought about by their discussions, some of which are practically existential and the questions that most naïve youths have. But that is the beauty of their relationship—the naiveté they bring about. That willingness to drop everything in their world for each other.
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