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The Paper (1994)
Implausible storyline, but well acted film on inner workings of a tabloid paper
'The Paper' is solid entertainment. The film shows the high tension jobs of reporters working in a big city tabloid paper. The plot is rather implausible, but the film has a cracking pace and good performances all round. Michael Keaton is dynamite as the workaholic editor of the paper who's immersed in his job and neglecting his pregnant wife Marisa Tomei. Robert Duvall, Glenn Close and Jason Robards all do well in supporting roles. The ending is full of loop-holes but somehow manages to work. Worth watching for it's energy and fine acting.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Good Robin Williams in reasonable comedy-drama
'Mrs. Doubtfire' is a reasonable comedy-drama with Robin Williams disguising himself as an elderly female housekeeper so that he can spend some time with his children who are currently living with estranged wife Sally Field. The film belongs completely to Williams who is very believable as an old lady. He is quite restrained in the film and we rarely see his manic persona. There are some laughs but the film also has many dramatic moments. The climax (MINOR SPOILERS) is rather poignant. The children act well and Pierce Brosnan has a brief role. The film is good family entertainment.
One Fine Day (1996)
Pleasant romantic comedy, charming Clooney and Pfeiffer
'One fine Day' is a breezy romantic comedy with winning performances by Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney. The plot is standard Hollywood fluff as both of them keep running into each other while trying to get their respective kids to a school field trip. Both Clooney and Pfeiffer are charming and share good chemistry with each other. If there's a fault, it's that the two remain apart for most of the running time. It would have been nice to see them sharing more screen time together. Still, the film is pleasant fun and well worth watching, specially as a date movie.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
memorable Javier Bardem in intriguing film, masterfully directed
This is an intriguing film with cracking dialog directed masterfully by the Coen Brothers. The plot line is ambiguous and the ending very anticlimactic, but all that is expected from the Coens. Javier Bardem is memorable as a menacing killer Anton Chigurh who's after Josh Brolin (also great). The third main character is sheriff Tommy Lee Jones, who can't understand the brutality of an ever-changing world. The film is at times dense, with many issues subtly raised. There's an impressive cat and mouse sequence in the mid-section that's thrilling to watch. Highly recommended and deserves multiple viewings.
A Good Year (2006)
Watchable romantic comedy but miscast Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe is miscast in the lead of 'A Good Year'. While he is believable as a tough stock-broker, he looks totally out of place in rural France. Slapstick comedy is clearly not his forte and the role needed someone with a lighter touch. In fact, Tom Hollander, who plays Crowe's buddy in the film, would probably have made a better lead. Still, its not all bad. The scenery is gorgeous, and Albert Finney turns in an assured supporting performance. Marion Cotillard looks beautiful but has little chemistry with Crowe. The film is watchable preferably at home on TV/DVD.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Miscast Orlando and flawed screenplay but good action scenes
Ridley Scott period epic is watchable but never comes close to his 'Gladiator'. The fault is partially in the screen-play. It shows most of the protagonists having extremely secular views on religion which feels too modern for a film about the crusades. The acting is generally good with Jeremy Irons, Ghassan Massoud and specially Edward Norton doing well. However, Orlando Bloom is simply miscast in the film. He tries hard but lacks the charisma to pull off the role of Balian. The film remains a grand spectacle and the action scenes are worth watching. See it at home, preferably the superior directer's cut.
Intense Russell Crowe and visceral action scenes in period epic
'Gladiator' is a period epic with an amazingly intense performance by Russell Crowe. He almost singlehandedly raises the movie and makes it a must watch film. Directed by Ridley Scott, the film's pacing is slow and the story is essentially a revenge drama. Joaquin Phoenix is very effective playing the malevolent but tortured Commodus. Richard Harris adds a touch of class as Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Derek Jacobi is good in a brief role. The opening battle scene is brilliant. The rest of the action is visceral and bloody. Some of the CGI-aided Special Effects look a bit dated but the film remains impressive.
Simplistic storyline but rousing battles and good Gibson
This film is extremely one-sided in its depiction of history but it remains watchable. The story is simplistic showing the simple-minded, oppressed Scots rising up against the blood-thirsty English. Patrick McGoohan is virtually a caricature of pure evil as Edward I. However, the film has rousing and extremely bloody battle scenes. The action is visceral and very effective. Mel Gibson is good in the lead. His charisma makes (MINOR SPOILERS) his final death scene very difficult to watch. The film is well photographed and Scotland has never looked better. Watchable epic.
Impressive performances in gritty political thriller
'Elizabeth' features some impressive performances all round, including a star-making turn by Cate Blanchett in the lead. Her performance alone makes the film well worth watching. The film is essentially a political thriller and there's lots of intrigue and double-crosses. The tone of the film is rather gritty and it is consistently absorbing, even if events seem a bit murky at times. Geoffrey Rush and Christopher Eccleston both excel. Joseph Fiennes is effective as Robert Dudley and his romance with Elizabeth is touching. The film is violent, and the conclusion feels a little rushed. Recommended.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Watchable sequel but weaker than the first film
This sequel to 'Elizabeth' is really two movies in one. The first focuses on court intrigue and assassination plots against Queen Elizabeth. The second is the Spanish Armada and how England faces up to the challenge.While the first segment is reasonably engrossing despite being convoluted, the second feels rushed. The Spanish invasion probably deserved a movie of its own. Cate Blanchett is decent in the lead but doesn't come close to her nuanced performance in 'Elizabeth'. Her emotional entanglements occasionally annoy. Samantha Morton is excellent in a brief appearance. Geoffrey Rush and Clive Owen are adequate. Watchable but weaker than the first film.