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5 reviews in total 
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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Hokey Delivery of Overt Metaphor, 26 May 2009

Director Robert Redford weaved a spiritual metaphor into "A River Runs through It" that flowed with its plot points. He attempted to do the same with "The Legend of Bagger Vance," this time golf was the metaphor instead of fly fishing, but the spiritual message seemed more contrived, preachy, and hokey than in his previous work. It's a shame that the theme was so overt: a little subtly would have strengthened the plot, which was seriously weakened by the over-emphasis on metaphor.

Matt Damon was unconvincing as a professional golfer, spiritual journeyman, and lover to Charlize Theron. I've read other reviews criticizing the choice of Will Smith as a servile, uneducated caddy. Racism did not occur to me when I watched the movie, but in hindsight I must agree that the casting choice seems at best careless. While conveying an interesting theme, the movie was over-ambitious and, perhaps, too self-important to accomplish its goal with grace.

Sideways (2004)
Enjoy Film with Fine Wine, 26 May 2009

Good wine can enhance the enjoyment and nuance of other fine things - cheeses, steaks, conversation, and this movie. Sideways is a smart comedy about two middle-aged men and their shenanigans in wine country that they should have outgrown years ago. Miles, the protagonist, is divorced and depressed but hopes to give Jack a sophisticated entrée into married life through a week-long wine tour through Napa Valley. Jack, meanwhile, has a more perfidious motive for the trip: to get laid one more time before he gets married.

Like good wine, the film has rich ingredients that ferment together for a sum that is better than its parts. Paul Giamatti plays a superb narcissist in Miles, who bemoans the loss of his marriage and his failure to succeed as a published author. Thomas Hayden Church brings a self-deceitful charm to Jack that is both believable and humorous. And, if there has ever been a score that contributed so much to the mood of a movie, it's the one Rolfe Kent provided for Sideways.

It's a film with both overt and subtle humor, overt and subtle drama. There are qualities to both characters the audience will find despicable. Director Alexander Payne makes a compelling effort to humanize the characters, but some audience members may find their actions unredeemable nevertheless. It's a movie best savored amongst friends and can generate some interesting post-credit discussion.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Fun Film But Lots of Goofs, 26 May 2009

I like NASCAR, and I enjoyed Days of Thunder. The opening sequence at the Daytona 500 gives me goosebumps and makes me want to crank up the surround sound - a homage to NASCAR, the late 80s, and Americana. There were other fun sequences in the movie, like when Cole Trickle is crashing his car every week and when his crew played a prank on him after winning his first race. The movie came out during the height of the "Tom Cruise is Cool" era. And, Cruise is cool in this movie. Robert Duvall, who plays his crew chief, is even better in the film.

That said, there were so many errors in this film, it's laughable. The racing shots were taken from real races, and the film editing did a poor job of disguising real race cars (like Dale Earnhardt's No. 3) for fictional ones. The timing is off. There's a scene where Tom Cruise is talking but his lips don't move. There's another scene where a character in the movie calls him Tom instead of Cole - really inexcusable that a error that big was missed. The scenes of cars ramming into one another while leading the race wouldn't be possible in reality: they would wreck or cause too much damage to remain at top speed.

By conventional standards, it's a terrible movie. But, somehow, it's still a fun movie! Action on the race track is similar to the action in the sky in Top Gun. If you're up for a little escapism and wish fulfillment, then Days of Thunder lives up to the billing. But, if you're a critical viewer, you won't be impressed by this film - unless you're looking for ways to laugh at its mistakes.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Legendary Portrayal of the Masculine Heart, 26 May 2009

Deep spiritual themes are easy to miss in the first viewing of Edward Zwick's "Legends of the Fall." I dismissed the film as a beautiful but slow-paced chick-flick ten years ago; but, upon later viewings I came to appreciate the film's messages about masculinity, grief, maturity, and responsibility.

The film's three brothers - Samuel, Alfred, and Tristan - have very different motives. Samuel is immature and naive: he wants to fight in WWI to prove his honor and masculinity to himself, his family, and his fiancé. Alfred is the ambitious older brother, believing that success, power and prestige will satisfy his inner longings for love and respect. Tristan is the only one who truly listens to his inner spiritual voice, no matter how extreme and seemingly selfish his actions may be viewed by others.

Ultimately, it is Tristan that everyone admires, both on screen and in the audience for the freedom of his heart. The imagery that Zwick uses in the Montana, WWI, and travel scenes are breathtaking and enhance the story's message. The dialogue is poignant and the feelings are powerful.

I understand some of the criticism of the film. Anthony Hopkins and Aiden Quinn's strong supporting roles, perhaps, overshadow Brad Pitt's acting ability. The film is melodramatic, but I think the melodrama actually enhances its themes. Only true drama lovers would like this film. There is little comic relief and lots of depressing turns. But, you would be hard-pressed to find a better written screenplay or better cinematography than in this film.

Gives Raw in Wrestling New Meaning, 26 May 2009

"The Wrestler" is the most emotionally raw movie I have ever seen. Director Darren Aronofsky's other film, "Requiem for a Dream," comes close, but that film shows the drastic lengths that addicts will go to avoid feeling their emotions. In this film, the audience feels Randy the Ram's pain as he feels it. Mickey Rourke portrays The Ram so honestly because he lived such a similar life. Aronofsky deserves a lot of credit for taming the wild-man Rourke and for drawing such an honest performance from him.

It's not a film for the faint of heart. There is self-mutilation, violence, steroid and drug use, public fornication, nudity, profanity, and lots of adult situations - all of which was necessary to convey the movie's truth.

The Wrestler is a surprisingly simple film. If you've seen Aronofsky's other work, the straight-forwardness of his approach in The Wrestler is unexpected. Yet, the film's genius is the depth of emotion that can be conveyed within its simplicity. I found it almost impossible not to reflect on my own aging, disappointments, mistakes, and relationships when I watched this's that profound.