Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A Basketball CLASSIC for the Ages!!!
If ever there was a basketball film that made you stand up and cheer, this one is it! Gene Hackman was simply brilliant in his portrayal of Norman Dale, the once failed college coach who gets another chance to make a mark for good. This is a film about redemption, about second chances and about coming together. It is a film about life itself. Perhaps this is why writer Angelo Pizzo said emphatically, "This is NOT a sports movie!" It all begins when Norman Dale is hired as a replacement for the previous coach who had died, and the blatant hostility that small town Hickory, Indiana gives him as part of his welcome. The locals complain that he has 'unconventional' coaching methods; he has closed practices in that the local townspeople are not allowed to attend; he has a specified regimen he expects his players to adhere to; and his word is law on matters pertaining to the team. All of this while the best player sits out because Norman is not "the old coach".
Keep in mind that Norman has been out of coaching for a while and has learned some life's lessons along the way. He's smart enough to learn as I did that athletics for almost all of us is a means to an end, and that most of use basketball or other sports either for increasing skill, or learning lessons that will help us in our lives after high school or college, and that we are not going into the NBA upon graduation.
The townspeople get restless and want results, and as Coach gets results, the tide begins to turn and the locals begin to see the long-range vision of what Coach had in mind all along.
Co-starring with Hackman is Dennis Hopper (in an Oscar®-nominated role) and Barbara Hershey as one of the teachers/vice-principal who learns there is another side to the coach, and in the process we see all the things that make this not a sports movie.
HOOSIERS is indeed a modern American classic that will be more and more treasured over time. It is well worth the purchase price and a welcome addition to any film library.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 10/10. ***
Brigham City (2001)
Don't look now you may be the killer!!
Richard Dutcher's follow-up to his spectacularly successful indie film GOD'S ARMY was this little gem called BRIGHAM CITY. Dutcher plays small-town sheriff Wes, who finds his little corner of paradise deep in not only a murder mystery, but also in the grip of a serial killer. All of a sudden, this quiet sleepy town is thrust into the national spotlight and bodies start showing up all over the place.
Wes is not only the sheriff; he is also the bishop of one of the local wards (congregations) in town, so he is placed in a dual role as both physical protector from a law enforcement standpoint and spiritual leader as well. His young deputy Terry (played by Matthew Brown) helps him out as does an FBI Special Agent (played by Tayva Patch) who flies in from New York to help out on the case.
As panic builds within the town and as they try to find who is doing all the killing, everyone is considered suspect. A town that has long lived on faith and trust begins to look at itself and each other in a new light now that the world has invaded on their corner of paradise and left their indelible mark on what for many of them had once been hallowed ground. It's certain that many of them will never look at life the same again.
Dutcher does an exceptional job of doing something nobody has dared do before, and that is exploring the dark side of the Mormon psyche, and doing so in a manner that does not denigrate either the Church, its members or the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for that, he has my everlasting respect. All of us have our dark sides; if sufficiently provoked, even the most mild-mannered of society's members in or out of the Church can be provoked or driven to do things that are beyond the pale such as serial killings and the like.
BRIGHAM CITY will leave you guessing all the way to the final scene before you realize who the killer is, and the end will leave you satisfied that you have indeed watched a true cinematic masterpiece. Of all the films I have seen that were directed to a primarily LDS-oriented audience, this one disturbed them the most, which tells me this one is BY FAR the best, as most of the Utah-types are still mind warped in the "Happy Valley" mode, and for them, they are better off staying in their own little world. It disturbed them because it hit home, and they did not like that not in the least and the fact that it did, had me cheering all the louder for Dutcher.
Dutcher's film reminds us to use common sense in conjunction with our faith. I can think of at least THREE preventable tragedies in the last several years out in Utah that could have easily been avoided had more of the "Happy Valley" mindsets used a little street sense hand-in-hand with their faith. Come to think of it, we could all use more of both in our lives.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 12/10. ***
Better Off Dead... (1985)
The ultimate teen angst flick!
If there was ever a role that John Cusack milked until it mooed, this one would have to have been it. His portrayal of Lane Meyer will forever be remembered in high school lore as the Ultimate Champion of the Underdog. I laughed so hard my sides ached and tears were running down my cheeks. What has long been a cult classic, this film did an excellent job of portraying the awkwardness of those teenage years that all adults thank God every day that we now have behind us. "Savage" Steve Holland's directorial debut was simply sensational; he could not have picked a better vehicle in which to make his mark!
Rounding out the cast includes Amanda Wyss as the fickle girlfriend who is more interested in her popularity than anything else; David Ogden Stiers (Major Winchester from M*A*S*H fame) as the dad who tries too hard to be "in", Kim Darby is priceless here as the mother who is completely, absolutely and utterly clueless, Scooter Stevens as Lane's little brother Badger is one ongoing surprise after another, and what is probably going to go down as BY FAR the most coveted film role in the 20th century, Demian Slade plays the paperboy from Hell. His portrayal alone makes the film not only worth watching, but worth buying! To close matters off in the casting department, the chemistry between Cusack and Diane Franklin who plays the French foreign exchange student Monique Junot, is something that simply cannot be denied. Keep in mind however, that whatever you do that like The Cable Guy DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT take your eyes off that paperboy!
Cusack and Holland do a perfect job of capturing that period of time in the 1980's better than any other film of the period. This film is well worth an evening's entertainment. Rent it once, and then buy it, as you will want to watch it many times over. It took me SEVEN YEARS to find a copy in VHS. The DVD was just bought for $10.00 and change from from Wal-Mart.com. I highly recommend this film to one and all as a MUST-OWN!
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 12/10. ***
A Few Good Men (1992)
Compelling military drama; take with grain of salt...
This Tom Cruise/Jack Nicholson film caught my attention the moment I saw the posters promoting its upcoming release back in the fall of 1992. Rare as it was even back then I went with a date and saw it opening night.
First and foremost, I need to set the record straight on one matter: My youngest brother spent a year and change in Rifle Security Company at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and he thought the movie was Aaron Sorkin bull. While I think Sorkin has his own agenda, I can only speak from my perspective as both a former Marine and as one who takes a closer look at movies after I've seen them a couple of times.
Adapted from the play which Sorkin also wrote, yet there were some subtle differences where necessary liberties were taken in order to capture the appeal of a film audience.
Cruise plays Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, a Navy JAG (Judge Advocate General) officer (military lawyer), and the son of Alistair Kaffee, who had also been a JAG officer and former U.S. Attorney General, who has a well-known track record for making plea bargains. All of a sudden, he gets a murder case dropped in his lap by Division in the hopes it will just go away, and Kaffee wants to know why.
Being one who likes to make her presence known for its sake alone, enter Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway played by Demi Moore in one of her rare decently played roles and we have the potential for some real explosive personality problems, at least at first. Kaffee is new on the block, Galloway is a desk jockey whose skills are shall we say overly specific, and after they get past the kinks. They build up a mutual respect.
What appealed to me the most in this move despite what I felt was an unjustified R rating was that there was no desire on the part of either Cruise's or Moore's character for the gratuitous or obligatory sex scene that proliferates R-rated movies. There was no innuendo either; these were two professionals military officers working with a third officer played by Kevin Pollak that busted their chops in getting their clients acquitted.
The showdown in the courtroom, coupled with the shocking twist during the film will make you a fan of this film and enjoy it with repeated viewing. For a directorial debut, Rob Reiner makes a noticeable splash with style and some measure of substance.
Not for children, A Few Good Men joins the ranks of the modern American classics.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 9/10. ***
A Modern American Classsic for the Ages!!!
The first time I saw this was at a sneak peek with my fiancée in 1980. I laughed so hard that it drove Deseret News film critic Christopher Hicks nuts; I believe he had to come back a second night as did most of us in order to catch most of the gags, they were flying at us so fast and furious.
The genius in this film existed in multiple places and at multiple levels: The Zucker Brothers were able to sell Paramount Pictures on the script of spoofing disaster movies that was their first big sell and then, they were able to stand up to studio pressure and not place comedic actors in the roles, but rather, long known dramatic actors who had never before done comedy, thus launching a few new careers, most notably Leslie Nielsen who before then had best been for his role in the television series of the 1960's The Bold Ones.
What we got is the stuff of which legends were made: Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Peter Graves, and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar of the Los Angeles Lakers. Even Jill Whelan of The Love Boat was able to get in on the act by playing a pediatric patient in need of surgery across the country. This movie took non-stop slapstick to a new level never before traveled to. It made fun of so many films both disaster and non-disaster flicks which you needed a scorecard in order to keep track of how many.
Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty were simply brilliant in their roles as the star-crossed (or should I say star cross-eyed) lovers who just weren't quite the right fit for one another. Look for cameo appearances by Barbara Billingsley in a role that will surprise you, Jimmie Walker (CBS'Good Times in the 1970's); and for Ethel Merman. I won't tell you where he appears in the film. They will simply crack you up! This is a film that you will want to check out for a week on DVD rental for at least a week in order to catch all the gags and full subtleties and not-so-subtleties of the humor involved. After rental, you will want to BUY a copy of the DVD to keep.
Already honored by the American Film Institute as one of the Top 100 films of all time, this truly is a modern American classic! On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film an 11/10. ***
A Stranger Among Us (1992)
Great views of Crown Heights neighborhood; not much else...
First of all, I must admit I enjoyed this film a great deal, despite a number of problems. It had its strengths and its weaknesses, those being:
1. Director Sidney Lumet.
2. Brooklyn's Crown Heights Neighborhood.
3. Lee Richardson playing the Rebbe.
1. Melanie Griffith
2. Melanie Griffith
3. Melanie Griffith
Despite the glaring weakness of miscasting Melanie Griffith in the role of Emily Eden, A Stranger Among Us still remains one of the better films I have liked in the last 15 years. I give it the favored status based on the cinematography and the strength of Sidney Lumet's direction in showing the world a side of New York the few people would see otherwise.
While some of the elements of the story are indeed quite fascinating to watch, some of the others are flat-out hard to watch. Jamey Sheridan as her partner that appears only here and there in the film is hard to watch because he is more in lust with her than anything else. Griffith's character (Detective Emily Eden) tries to come across as sympathetic by dying her hair and going undercover to catch the killer, but looks too much like a Cover Girl® model to be convincing as either a Hassidim or as a cop.
There was some good supporting cast around her in the film, but all in all, while I found the film fun to watch for the cultural value, Griffith's performance and especially that of Burtt Harris who plays Emily's loathsomely dysfunctional father, was just not enough to carry the day in this film.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 5/10. ***
A League of Their Own (1992)
Strikes a balance between sports movie and chick-flick!
Of all the baseball movies I have had the pleasure of watching, this one was one of the better ones, and clearly ranks up there with "Field of Dreams" and "Pride of the Yankees".
With Tom Hanks as a washed-up has-been who gets another chance at baseball through managing a girls professional baseball team during World War II, Geena Davis and Lori Petty as dueling siblings who make the team in tryouts at what clearly looks like Wrigley Field in Chicago, coupled with Jon Lovitz as the eccentric scout, Madonna as the resident tart and Rosie O'Donnell as the smart-mouthed member of the team, you just know you that are in for a treat. A League of Their Own does not disappoint.
As the team is put together, one both sees how silly some of the societal norms and rules were back then, yet just how talented these women were in playing the game of baseball. The film artfully shows how they were made fun of at first; yet through their hard work ethic, they gained the respect of the fans that came out to see them.
With the weaving of story lines of the individual players throughout the film, one can identify with the struggles of the players and of the others in the movie, and in a sense much like baseball itself they become a part of us; after all, baseball is an American institution that has in large measure stayed constant through the years.
A word of advice: GUYS: If you want to go to both a baseball movie and satisfy your sweetheart with a 'chick flick' THIS is the movie for both of you. It will leave a smile on both of your faces and the reinforce the belief that baseball steroids aside in many respects baseball really does reflect on all that is good and right with America.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film an 8/10. ***
Wedding Crashers (2005)
You will see the nation's capital in a whole new light!!!!!
CAUTION: May contain spoilers; however, I will do my best NOT to give away key points in the storyline.
I laughed so much on this one until it hurt!! By far the best comedy/'buddy' movie of the summer, WEDDING CRASHERS lives up to its pre-release hype. It stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as two long-time buddies who make it their hobby and mission in life or rather, lifestyle to crash weddings as a means of hitting on and 'bagging' beautiful single women; all this when they aren't at their day job mediating divorces.
This formula has worked for them for a number of years by following a number of rules they have committed to memory and which they have flawlessly executed to perfection. Whether the wedding is Catholic, open-air, Jewish, Hindu or even the coup-de-grace, the wedding of one of the daughters of the Secretary of the Treasury (brilliantly played by Christopher Walken), these two buddies have the art of crashing weddings down to a science; only thing is, it is this last wedding where they get jammed up, or rather, hoisted up by their own petard.
Both Wilson and Vaughn's characters endear themselves to the Treasury Secretary's family, and as a result of the friendliness that runs both ways, get themselves invited out to the family's island home on Maryland's Eastern Shore for a few days.
(An example of the 'friendliness': Jane Seymour who is playing in wicked and wanton form in this film as Walken's wife in a scene with Wilson where she is clearly coming on to him says: "The Secretary and I have been married 30 years". Wilson makes a complimentary remark. She continues, "We've been faithful for two.")
With the (psychotic) youngest daughter Gloria (played by Isla Fisher, who stole just about every scene she was in) and the deranged, sicko homosexual son 'Todd', who were BOTH white hot on the trail of Vaughn's character, and Wilson doing what he can to get past the mean-spirited control-freak 'boyfriend' of the other drop-dead gorgeous daughter (Rachel McAdams), the sparks fly all-around in one non-stop laugh after another, all coming down to a showdown in a wedding at the end involving one of the players that will leave your jaw hanging wide open.
The only real complaints of note I had with this movie was way too much dropping of the 'f-bombs' when there was simply no need. This movie was genuinely funny without the need to drop them, and it would have still earned its R-rating. The gratuitous showing of quick flashes of female flesh had no artistic merit to it; the simple innuendo or suggestion of taking these girls to bed would have gone much further with moviegoers, as our imaginations are far more lurid than anything they could have come with. We could also have done without the one cameo towards the end of the film, as it added nothing noteworthy towards the movie.
WEDDING CRASHERS is a definite MUST-SEE for serious movie-goers and the DVD will be well worth the purchase at Thanksgiving or Christmas time; HOWEVER, it is for GROWN-UPS only, and the R rating was given for good reason. DO NOT bring children to this movie under any circumstances as most of the jokes would fly over their heads. Let them wait until they are old enough to experience juvenile adulthood for themselves that is, if they want to.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film an 'easy' 9! ***
The Best Two Years (2004)
Well worth the time watching!!
Up until the time it was made, 'The Best Two Years' was by far the best film made for LDS audiences on a number of fronts: First, it was well produced by a great ensemble cast; second, Kirby Heyborne was in a role that truly allowed him to stretch into the kind of actor I suspected he could be once he got away from that horrid role in 'The R.M.', third, it was filmed completely OUTSIDE of Utah and in fact in location in Holland; fourth, it went outside of stereotype; fifth, it did not rely on the continuous 'in' jokes that only Mormons would understand; and sixth, it had a broad appeal that people of all faiths and persuasions could appreciate.
The film starts out as a 'greenie' (brand new missionary) is assigned to this specific area in Holland to a bunch of veteran missionaries. Not having experienced any of the rejection that so many missionaries do such as door slamming, dogs turned on them and the like remember, he JUST got there he believes that he alone can make a difference, and is determined to make a difference all by himself. Keep in mind that Holland is one of the most difficult proselyting missions in the world and that many missionaries who serve there come home without having performed any baptisms at all.
Unlike God's Army which had some slapstick humor such as the bathroom scenes where a bunch of 19-year-old boys are playing pranks on each other, this movie handled the missionary experience with a great deal of dignity and class. These years in any young man's life are tough enough as it is; whether on active duty in the military, in college, on a mission as these young men were, each of them find themselves faced with choices they will be making that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Their ability to look past themselves to the long-term picture is a testament to their faith in God, themselves and to their belief something larger than themselves.
'The Best Two Years' goes to show that for many of these young men that it really is the best two years of their lives to that point, and that this missionary service lays in place a strong foundation on which the remainder of a successful, productive and rewarding life can and will be built. This film was definitely time well spent watching and is a must-add to any film library.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 10! ***
The Work and the Glory (2004)
Definitely a MUST SEE for the whole family!!! ****
After much procrastination, I finally went to see this movie with my wife and a close friend while we were in Utah on a visit from our home in Wisconsin. Truth be told, I was expecting to be somewhat disappointed on a couple of fronts; first, in that the movies are generally not as true to the books as they should be, and second, given that this movie was geared to the LDS community, past movies that were geared to LDS audiences (with the exceptions of The Singles Ward, Brigham City and The Best Two Years) have left me with very low expectations for LDS filmmakers.
I am happy to say that this film far exceeded my expectations on both fronts, and has proved that LDS filmmakers can and indeed do produce excellent work that is not limited to Richard Dutcher alone, and that the bar has indeed been considerably raised for future work within the LDS film community. What's more, those who are not of the LDS persuasion will be far less likely to look at LDS movies and giggle and titter, much like I did.
Let's face it, fellow church members. Didn't you giggle yourselves silly through some of the cheesy films that were made either by BYU Films or others who could at best be described as wannabes? After all, for the longest time (and I may add, WAY TOO LONG) previous LDS-oriented films at one time were those cheesy second or even third-rate productions that seemed more like after-school projects for BYU students looking for some extra part-time cash.
Unlike the abomination that had the gall/temerity to pass itself off as the 'so-called' Book of Mormon 'movie' in which half of any group watching the film had the good sense to get up and walk out, lest that sacred volume of scripture have any more injustice done to it by a bunch of amateurs who should be working at Burger King instead, the dialog in 'The Work and The Glory' was realistic and era-appropriate. The scenery was well-done for the time portrayed, and great attention to detail was paid to ensure that the film was historically accurate while staying true to the book. The characters were well-developed and multi-dimensional, exposing both their flaws and strengths, thus making themselves people that many of us could identify with. Whether it is sibling rivalry as in the two brothers competing for Lydia McBride's heart, or Joseph Smith finding himself thrust into a role he neither sought nor expected, we see through a confluence of events, a meeting of ordinary people under extraordinary circumstances, and that is what makes this film work so well.
While overall casting in the film was exceptional, as it pertains to Joseph Smith's role in the film: Jonathan Scarfe was (simply put) inspired casting for the part. I have seen others portray the prophet in the past, but nobody, and I mean NOBODY can hold a candle to Jonathan in his portrayal of young Joseph.
Regardless of your religious persuasion or even if you have no religious leaning at all 'The Work and The Glory' is a welcome addition to any video library, as it will provide many hours of enjoyable viewing with repeated watching.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 12/10! ***