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14 reviews in total 
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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
The Secret War of Indiana Jones., 23 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I won't bother rehashing the plot that anyone reading this is sure to already know. I won't bother to talk about how I "grew up with Indiana Jones," or go into my feelings for the Star Wars prequels, as many have felt the need to do. I defended Spider-man 3 when it came to theaters, not because I thought it was without its flaws (there were many), but because I thought there were some shining moments in the film that I could not discredit from the Spider-man canon.

For Indiana Jones, well I think the film is flawed but misunderstood. I, like most fanboys, LOVE Raiders, am mixed with Temple, and think Last Crusade is flawed but love it anyway. Crystal Skull falls in the category I've put Last Crusade in. It has its flaws, its plot is not completely fleshed out, but it's still a good movie. Everything an Indy fan could want. People forget Temple and Crusade were met with mixed reactions and took years for everyone to really appreciate, not to mention, many of us were children when we saw these films. The problems, flaws, plot holes, etc. were brushed off as "Indy charm." Short Round was not annoying, he was just funny. If he were in any other movie, we'd hate him, but he was in an Indy movie, so that was excusable. Things in the 80s, before action movies and movies in general, started trying to raise the bar and top each other, were more easily forgivable. I have no doubt if this film were made twenty-five years ago, it would be met with mixed reactions as it is now, but then again, wasn't Temple and Crusade?

True, there is no sense of urgency or high stakes, the legend of the crystal skulls are not completely fleshed out, they never stay in one setting for too long, and in the third act, there isn't much Indy needs to do or prevent. He's just a spectator to what happens. But what happens is truly glorious and awe-inspiring, something Spielberg is good at. And while it does not completely make sense, did people exploding and faces melting in Raiders make sense? Did Henry Sr. leaving the tomb and his wound remaining healed make complete sense? No, because there was a majestic presence to the artifact that made us suspend our disbelief a little bit. After all, the world of Indiana Jones isn't exactly our world.

Now I heard Lucas babble on and on about a macguffin in every interview that he was given. Maybe that macguffin was nothing more than a thin device not meant for anything more than Indys own redemption from his late mid-life crisis. One of the best lines in the film is delivered by Jim Broadbents character when he says early on, "we're at the stage of our lives where life stops giving and starts taking away," or something to that effect. So his latest adventure brings two revelations, first, he has a son, and second, it's with Marion Ravenwood, the woman he never fully recovered from. And this is the redemption from his crisis. Just as the film could be called "The Secret War or Indiana Jones," it could just as easily be called "Indiana Jones," mirroring Rocky Balboa (don't get me wrong here, that film was terrible). Both are films about an aging hero we've grown with in a personal crisis. The film is more about their internal conflict than the chase.

True, it can be both, as many films are. Indiana Jones has spectacular set pieces (though no single scene really stands out as the boulder scene and the rail cart scene, but we might have to wait a few years to see), plenty of action (though Indy doesn't use his whip as much as he used to) and as much absurd action and humor as the originals. Harrison Ford seems to have had no trouble getting back into character, but he's not the Indy from Raiders. Marion is not that Marion either. They are both older, mature, Indy is slightly more disgruntled and marion slightly wiser. But they are not out of character, they are their characters, nineteen years later. And just like that, Spielberg has directed like a director of these films, nineteen years later.

In an interview recently, Spielberg said that if he filmed "Close Encounters" today, he would not have made Richard Dryfuss abandon his family at the end of the film. In that way, he has made an Indiana Jones film with the sensibilities he has accumulated over the past nineteen years. But he never loses sight of the character. Like his old self, he keeps the action framed in medium shots, kept the dialogue slightly campy, and looked to serials and b-movies for inspiration. The things that made the originals endearing. But true to the Spielberg who would no longer make Richard Dryfuss leave his family, the Spielberg who has aged nineteen years, effortlessly ties in subplots and nuances of loss, personal crisis, and undying love.

If Raiders is about taking a leap of faith, Temple is about learning to believe in magic, Crusade is about letting go of obsession, Crystal Skull is about putting the past behind you.

Kickin It High (2004) (V)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Taking all things into consideration..., 10 April 2006

I am aware that the film was shot on a shoestring budget, the actors are not experienced and the it was intended as a direct-to-video movie. Taking all these things into consideration, and going in with low expectations, the film was still terrible. One does not need experienced actors or a big budget in order to make a good film. Look at Gus Van Sants "Elephant," Kevin Smiths "Clerks." Okay i'm being trite, you can think of dozens of extremely low-budget films that were well-done, taking things into consideration. I'm in no way expecting Juney Smith to be Kevin Smith or Hal Hartley, but I was also not expecting him or anyone else to make this movie. I didn't think it was even possible. People have intentionally tried to make bad movies and they have not been as bad as this. If you hand a six-year old or a Troma film producer a camera, he or she will turn out something better than this.

I got to see this at the "premiere" at a small theater in NYC that probably rents out theaters for screenings such as this. Part of the film was shot at Gleasons Gym in Brooklyn, NY, where my sister happens to train. She was an extra in the film, so they invited her to see the film. Being a filmmaker myself, and taking budget constraints into consideration, I went in with an open mind.

The film is about a group of high school friends who live on the mean streets of, well some urban ghetto. One of them is an aspiring boxer, he has the usual slew of hoodish friends who bring him down. They come up with some plan to rob a potato chip factory. I'll give points for originality there. So they rob the place, almost get caught, have a chip-eating montage, and the main character is shot to death. It ends at his funeral, and then with a big title card, telling us to avoid a life of crime. If you were bothered by this spoiler, had any intentions on seeing this film, or are even reading this review because you were unfortunate enough to have stumbled upon this movie, than you deserve the film to be spoiled for you.

I got a chance to speak with the director afterward. I had to work really hard to avoid him asking any questions that would require me to lie while trying to keep a straight face while answering. I think I asked him what stock he used (it was obviously 16mm, shot poorly). Had I not have been promised refreshments afterward, I would have walked out. It turns out that all they had were cheese cubes (which had that i've been sitting out all day" dried/oily look) and those water crackers that come in five different variants per box. I felt like two hours of my life were wasted. I could not even take this film as a learning experience, as I already knew that this was not the way to make a movie. At no point did I see something that I have considered or ever considered putting in a movie. Therefore, i couldn't even say, "Well, I would NEVER do that!" I am quite confident in saying that anyone with half a brain cell would have known not to do anything that Juney Smith has done in this film. It is that bad.

The ONLY reason you should ever see this film, is if you need proof of the existence of Satan. This film will not only prove this but also make you believe that he rules the world. Or at least whatever production company it was that made this film.

In closing, the following are things you could do with your time instead of watching this film...

-have your tires rotated. -Find one of those video dealers who specialize in episodes of any show, and get episodes of "Still the Beaver." -Make invitations for a celebrity dress-up day at your work or school. -Make Kool-aid ice pops by filling ice-cube trays with kool-aid, covering with a sheet of wrap and putting a toothpick in each cube hole. -Have a "Problem Child" Marathon. -Sing "Amazing Grace" to any sitcom theme song tune of your choosing. -Chew broken glass.

Use your imagination. If ever you are given the opportunity to see this film, please don't. If you want to, you can spend your two hours writing me a thank-you letter. Although you will never really know if I was right or not, when you die and are at the gates of St. Peter, and he asks you if you have seen "Kickin' it High," you can say an honest "no," and not suffer eternal damnation.

30 out of 57 people found the following review useful:
Not Impressed., 28 September 2005

I saw this film at the New York Film Festival two nights ago. The entire cast was there, which helped to boost my spirits a little. The film seemed like it had great promise. It started out with great promise, but half-way through the film, I was getting more and more disappointed by it.

Noah Baumbach, the filmmaker behind "Kicking and Screaming," and Wes Anderson's new partner has some talent, and it is apparent in the film. It is perceptive and it has a few good ideas. The film itself does not flow well. The acting is very good, I will say that much. However, the problems it faces are the writing and the directing.

Baumbach has led us into the lives of characters with NO redeeming qualities whatsoever. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but when you make a movie dealing with the topics he did, empathy and understanding is almost crucial. Most of their qualities could have been avoided, if Baumbach had not played so much of it out for comic value. The Royal Tenenbaums did something very similar, but despite all the family's anger and arrogant/eccentric ways, they still managed to gain emotion from the audience. Squid and the Whale just makes you feel empty.

Not much is wrapped up in the end and not much is said. We see how divorce effects the lives of two boys and how they both suffer from it. We see one who has his mind warped by his father and his regret in the end. We also get a lot of moments and nuances where we are unsure if they are supposed to be taken seriously or not. By the end of the movie we are not left with hope for the characters, we aren't left thinking they are doomed either.

It is also quite apparent that Baumbach is Andersons protégé'. Many moments, many colors and styles play out as if it were one of Andersons. The only problem is, all these moments are forced, as opposed to the natural feel that Anderson has. Anderson did produce this film, so it could have a bit to do with it, but if he helped him write the screenplay, perhaps it would have been a bit more cohesive. It feels like Baumbach had a laundry list of quirks and ideas and formed a movie around them. This isn't a bad thing, but it almost felt like he had something to say at the same time.

In the end, the film, while not bad, turned out to be trite and almost self-indulgent on Baumbachs part. I cannot recommend this film, simply because there are movies out there that deal with this subject matter in a much better way. S&W is too busy trying to find meaning that it gets lost in its own eccentricity and never emerges again.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A rare kind of beauty., 6 May 2005

This is Wes Anderson's fourth movie and while it is not his finest, it is still fabulous. A quick note, I always find it amusing that most reviewers go out of their way to make reference to Wes in their film while when reviewing something like "Sideways" or say "Finding Neverland," you would not expect to see the same respect paid to the director. Wes certainly has made a name for himself.

The story is about Steve Zissou, an oceanographer who's best friend was killed by the mythical Jaguar Shark in his last voyage. He vows revenge on the shark but things are a little complicated when he is introduced to his long lost son, Ned Plimpton, his wife separates and one of his men is kidnapped by Filipino pirates.

Sound a little overly complex? It is. My first screen writing professor HATED when a filmmaker would have too many subplots, tangents and characters. He often complained about that in my writing. It is a dangerous thing to do, however, Wes does it well. The beauty about Wes is that he is optimistic in regards to his characters. Although the world is full of disappointment, the characters may not be fit socially or anything like that but they attempt to leave a dent in the world with what they do have. There is a lot of sharp writing here and while it may not have as many quotable lines as his previous efforts("little bananas," "That's the last time you stick a knife in me," etc), he certainly does well.

The film has a lot of rare unique characteristics to it, and that does not just refer to the stop-motion fish or the portugese Bowie music. Like a good director, Wes pays close attention to every detail in every scene and it pays off.

The problem with Wes's films is that they are all billed as straight out comedies. I was reading a moviefone article that billed The Life Aquatic as a "dramady" and that is the best way to describe his films. His use of drama and relationships is what makes Wes stand out so much. Don't get me wrong, his movies are often hilarious but can make you cry moments later. The movie is about struggling with age, lost brilliance, a parental relationship, loss and redemption.

It is a film that must be viewed more than once and while it may be a bit too absurd for many, there still is a lot of humanity to the film. I give this film my highest recommendation and applaud Wes, considering the fact he is one of the best current filmmakers.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A Karma thing., 21 March 2005

I am not a buddist however, I do believe that there are often times where one will do something and it will eventually come back to him. I myself admit I am not always the best person going. I try and help my neighbors with groceries, hold the door for women, etc. However, I must have done something, possibly in another lifetime that brought this movie about. Lets see shall we...

Before I was thirteen, I snuck into the movies every Saturday. I got suspended in the middle school for fighting with another student. I didn't start going to church until the fifth grade. I tried cigarettes when I was fourteen. I had some of those "must be over 18 magazines" when I was going through those "awkward" stages.

Thats about all I can come up with. I don't think I have ever done anything bad enough to deserve this movie. It is a lasting punishment as well. Setting aside the two hours I spent watching the movie, the film caused so much mental anguish, I feel troubled to this day. I hope someday I can be forgiven for my destructive past and this curse will be lifted.

Well perhaps its not THAT bad a movie. Maybe if I re-watch it as a comedy, I can chuckle at Arnies "Adam and Evil" and "What killed the dinosaurs...THE ICE AGE!" lines. But until I can demonstrate my knowledge of the doctrine of stoicism, I do not think I am quite ready for that.

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Classy? Subtle? Poignant?, 17 December 2004

I credit Natalie Portman for being extremely talented but unfortunately, she has given two good performances this year in uneven movies.

Garden State is not a 'bad' movie, please do not get me wrong. Natalie Portman absolutely shines in it, but it is also an empty, narcassistic film not worthy of comments like "defines a generation" and "beautifully crafted." It does not fail to entertain and it is nice and fluffy. Although I do not know if that is necessarily complementary.

This movie is a great outlet for Zach Braff to show how much of an ego he has. He is NOT a very good actor nor is he a writer. He borrows a lot from "The Graduate" and in return produces a very similar film for the typical "misunderstood" indie teen crowd.

The film has been called "quirky" far too often. Okay, ill give it that. But a lot of style and no substance do not make a movie. It appears that Braff has taken directing lessons from Wes Anderson, PT Anderson, Alexander Payne and Todd Schlondz but fell asleep during their screen writing seminar. The scene in the end where Largeman gives his speech to his father about "this being life" is so badly written and tries so hard to be down to earth that it has the ability to destroy the movie, had it been good up to this point.

There are things about the film I did enjoy. I liked the scene in Sams bedroom where she talks about doing something no one has ever done before. I liked the scene where Peter Sarrsgard takes Sam and Largeman to get his mothers necklace back. If only the entire thing had been that well-written.

So see this movie for good performances from Peter Sarrsgard and Natalie Portman. Don't see it thinking its going to "define your generation" or you are "totally going to relate with it." And if your looking for quirky film-making, stick with Wes Anderson, someone who actually does have talent.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Over-rated pile of trash., 25 December 2003

Okay, please allow me to start off by explaining to you that I am by no means a prude in terms of movies. I am a big fan of graphic realism in movies. However, only when necessary. Gritty movies like Requiem for a Dream and Boogie Nights provided us with vast quantities of nudity, sex and drug use. All for the good of the movie.

So now then, onto the review.

Monsters Ball is a story about an excecution guard who falls for the widow of a man he recently excecuted(P Diddy?? what the...?) Her son just recently died as well so we are supposed to feel sympathy for her when she indulges in gratuitous sex with Billy Bob.

The movie is NOT that well acted. Halle Berry did not even deserve an Oscar nom for the movie. I seriously cannot believe she was nominated, let alone won. Even if I dont like a movie or a particular actor, I can acknowledge when they deserve recognition from the Academy(Chris Cooper). I have seen better acting from an actress in films like Earth Girls are Easy and Slumber Party '59(or maybe its just the Debra Winger fan in me talking). And after Halle Berry won the award over GOOD actresses like Renee Zellweger and Nicole Kidman, she further pushes the injustice by making such a racist speech, so swamped with tears that had we acknowledged this, we would be considered heartless.

The sex in the movie is long and unnecessary. As I said before, I certainly do not mind this, when it is needed to further enhance the film. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Just a poor excuse to show Halle naked, further drawing buzz around the film. Acting on Billy Bobs part is good, but we have seen better in Sling Blade and A Simple Plan. If you are looking for high art, this is not it. This is truely a film wearing sheeps clothing. A bad, trashy hollywood product cleverly disguised as art. If you want to rent good, graphic art films, look to Darren Arronofsky, Paul Thomas Anderson or Stanley Kubrick. Stay away from this self-indulgent pile of garbage.

Big Fish (2003)
Pure magic by Burton, 18 December 2003

Lets clear one thing up before I start. I am a big fan of The lord of the Rings movies, the books, etc. I saw the first two multiple times and plan to see the third many more times to come(I saw it opening night). Return of the King was a masterful work of art but I cant help thinking I would have enjoyed it more it I had not seen Big Fish the night before.

The story begins with Edward Bloom(played masterfully by both Albert Finny and Ewan McGregor) telling a story at his son Will's wedding, of how he caught the biggest fish going the day of Will's birth. Edward loves to tell stories of his life, all seem to be too amazing to be true. Everyone seems to enjoy them, except his son . Both have not spoken three years since his wedding night so when Will finds out his father is dying, he sets out to learn the truth about his father. The film is told in series of flashbacks as we learn of young Edwards extraordinary achievements, as well as his failures. He meets all kinds of colorful people, from a friendly giant to a witch with a special power to the love of his life.

The film has spectacular acting all around. Both Finny and McGregor give the performances of a lifetime. Both Oscar worthy. The supporting cast including but not exclusive to Danny Devito, Alison Lohman, Jessica Lange and Billy Crudup all do their best to show off, and do a good job of it. Two scenes that particularly stood out were the bathtub scene and the one where we find out just what Edward saw the day he met the witch.

This is without a doubt, Tim Burtons best film to date. The film can make you laugh and make you cry in a heartbeat. The chemestry between the characters feels so real, you would swear it was not a movie.

I usually must wait a few months or a year and view a movie multiple times to really say that a movie is one of my absolute favorate films. With Big Fish, I have never in my life, as a child or as an adult been so blown away by a film before. As I said, I am a HUGE 'Rings fan and the feeling I got seeing all three of them combined, could not compare to the awe I felt seeing Big Fish. It is simply the best movie I have seen this year(close by The Magdalene Sisters, Lost in Translation, Kill Bill, Mystic River, Return of the King and Matchstick Men, okay so I see lots of movies) and in a years time, I may say its the best movie I have ever seen. Well maybe not THE best but a favorate.

10/10- Go see this film as many times as you possibly can.

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Genuinely the worst movie I've seen in a long time, 22 November 2003

First off lets clear things up, most of the time you can see a bad movie a mile away. its not always the same with a good movie but when its a genuine piece of garbage you can spot it pretty quick. Some key things a bad movie has are a lot of bad teen actors, an MTV soundtrack, celebrity cameos or Lyle Lovett. This film manages to have all of them.

I'm a pretty bad sleeper and when this was the only notible thing on TV one late night I put it on and watched it through. I figured it would be bad so I pushed myself to watch it as I've not seen a bad movie in a while. This exceeded my expectations. I guess you know the movie is bad when you cannot stop remarking on how hidious the main character is. heres the plot in a nutshell

DJ Qualls goes to prison for some unknown reason to meet Luther (played by Eddie Griffin, who at times, can be moderately amusing) who teaches him how to be cool. He decides to use this device at his new school and pick of chicks, become popular etc. Naturally it works and he dates the head cheerleader only in the end to be exposed by the head bully and come to terms with who he is etc. sound familiar, oh it is.

The film could have been an entertaining piece had it used jokes that were not stale, unfunny and horribly out of date. I've read so many reviews of films with old jokes but this is the first one where i have noted this myself. If you are looking for a film to watch one night and this is the only thing on than by all means, don't watch it. If you must though, be prepared for the worst, but doing that will still leave you with high expectations compared to what this film turned out to be.

Rating: 1/2 * (I have no idea why)

Added to this, DJ Qualls may be the worst, ugliest, most uncharismatic actor on the planet. He could make Paul Walker look like Gene Hackman. Excuse me, he could make Paul Walker look BETTER than Gene Hackman.

Radio (2003)
Well done, 25 October 2003

Radio is done in the style of other "feel good" sports films such as Rocky, Rudy, Cool Runnings and Seabiscuit. All use a specific formula we see very often, but than why do we love them so?

Well lets start off giving the brief summary of the film. Radio, well played by Cuba Gooding Jr. is our hero this time. He is mentally handicapped and each day passes the school in which Coach Jones(Ed Harris) teaches. He stops to watch the team practice and after a few events, Jones takes a liking to him as does the team and soon, the whole town.

Sound like a lot of other movies? It is. Im not one for films following a formula but Disney does it so often and dont we love their movies? Indeed we do. Because despite being formulaic, Radio still has a lot of heart to it. Maybe im a sucker for such sentiment. However, the film is paced well and performances by Cuba, Ed Harris and Debra Winger are top notch. And its always good to see Mrs. Winger making a movie every now and again.

Each character is likeable and we get some genuine feelings for them. Im not one for the usual hollywood sap fest but this is one that is admittedly well done. As said before, done in the form of Rocky and Seabiscuit how can you go wrong. Perhaps I should be being harder on it for following such a formula or perhaps because of its good acting and writing, it was able to rise above being just another film of that formula(and believe me, there have been films following that same formula that calling awful would be a compliment). Either way, Radio is well done and hopefully Cuba wont go un-noticed come Oscar time.

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