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7770 reviews in total 
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great relationship, 27 July 2016

Eugene (Ray Liotta) and Dominick 'Nicky' Luciano (Tom Hulce) are twins living in Pittsburgh together. Eugene is studying to be a doctor and finds out that he got into Stanford. Nicky is mentally slow and working as a trash man paying for Eugene's school. Eugene is leery of Nicky's crass work partner Larry Higgins. Nicky wants to live with Eugene in a house by the lake but Eugene is wondering if Nicky could live by himself. Eugene starts a relationship with nurse Jennifer Reston (Jamie Lee Curtis).

These are two good performances especially Tom Hulce. The brothers' chemistry is great. There is real dramatic complexity with their relationship. Everybody is great including Curtis. It's a good sentimental melodramatic movie. It would be nice to make Mikey more of a constant sidekick to Nicky and a more central part of the movie from the start.

R (2010)
brutal prison drama, 27 July 2016

Rune Pedersen is a new inmate in a tough Danish prison serving a two-year sentence. He's threatened by the brutal inmates and the harsh guards. He becomes the lowest member of the white gang. He works out a way to smuggle into the prison with the help of Muslim Rashid. He starts to get more luxury from his gang. Then he gets squeezed by the ruthless Bazhir.

It's another tough prison movie of drugs, brutality, and racial division from Europe. It is heartless, ugly, and relentless. There is a change in protagonist from Rune to Rashid in the last act. It's a place where brutality works and the monsters rule.

Proof (2005)
Paltrow good, 27 July 2016

Catherine Llewellyn (Gwyneth Paltrow) is struggling to deal with the death of her genius math professor father Robert (Anthony Hopkins). He deteriorated mentally in his last years which forced her to quit school and take care of him. His former student Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal) is working through a mountain of Robert's incoherent notebooks to find anything worth saving. Catherine's sister Claire (Hope Davis) arrives for the funeral and seeks to bring Catherine back to New York for treatment. When Hal discovers a notebook filled with a ground-breaking math proof, Catherine claims it to be written by her.

This is a compelling portrayal of the mathematical obsession. It's not as flashy or romantic as cinema tries to dress up math sometimes. It is a bit sad. Paltrow does great work following Hopkins. She shows that she's not simply a romantic lead. It's a compelling character study.

really old timey, 27 July 2016

It's 1854. West Point is run by respected commandant Col. Robert E. Lee. Cadet Carl Rader brings in pamphlets from abolitionist John Brown leading to a fight among the cadets. Rader is dishonorably discharged by Lee after a fight with Jeb Stuart (Errol Flynn). Stuart and others are happy to be stationed in the toughest outpost. Stuart and Custer (Ronald Reagan) are sent to Fort Leavenworth in the Kansas Territory. On the train there, they're taken with 'Kit Carson' Holliday (Olivia de Havilland). Oliver Brown tries to smuggle Negroes out and is confronted. He escapes by shooting one of the bounty hunters. Everyone agrees that bloody Kansas needs to rid itself of the villainous abolitionist John Brown (Raymond Massey), father of Oliver.

This is a Bizarro world of yore where slavery is no big deal, abolitionists are villains, and people should simply let things be. The movie is definitely made in another era and serves as a time capsule for 1940 as much as for 1854. The rooting interest is against John Brown and the abolitionist, and for everybody especially slave-owing Stuart and flamboyant Custer in fighting against the revolutionaries. It's well made with plenty of action. The rooting interest is horribly tone-deaf in the modern sense. It is fascinating to see the old popular culture that is so different.

Ran (1985)
Shakespearean Samurai Epic, 27 July 2016

Warlord Hidetora Ichimonji is haunted. He divides his kingdom among his three sons; Taro, Jiro, and Saburo. The oldest Taro is given the First Castle to lead the younger brothers. The youngest Saburo objects and he is banished. Another lord Fujimaki takes him in and offers his daughter for marriage. Taro's wife Lady Kaede lost her blood family to Hidetora's ruthless conquest and plots to destroy the family from within. Taro and Jiro force Hidetora from power driving him to madness.

Legendary director Akira Kurosawa delivers a big production of mass battles and epic drama. It's one of the grandest samurai epics. It is wonderfully beautiful. The acting is big. It is visually stunning.

slow dreamy beauty, 26 July 2016

It's 1607. John Smith (Colin Farrell) arrives in the new world in chains. Captain Christopher Newport establishes the Jamestown, Virginia settlement. He pardons John Smith and puts him in charge of an expedition. With rising tension, John is taken prisoner by the natives. Pocahontas is the favorite of Chief Powhatan. She saves John's life and he becomes a part of the community. He is released back to the settlement to find starvation and death stalking the remaining settlers. They are saved by Pocahontas. Powhatan banishes her and orders an attack when the English won't leave.

Terrence Malick has mastered the slow dreamy beautiful visual style. He makes the native world an idyllic paradise. The English world is the one with a foreboding menace. The dreamy mood works well for the native civilization. The action also works well with surprisingly scary quick native warriors. The English world feels disjointed. The story is told in snippets. Malick is much more interested in the dreamlike mood. It doesn't have the intensity and urgency of the story which leads me to wonder if a fictional story would be better. In that way, accuracy and specificity would not matter quite as much. Pocahontas in the English world is not as compelling as John Smith in the native world. Q'orianka Kilcher is an intriguing new actress. She's able to maintain interest throughout.

Gigli (2003)
unlikable character in bland-unfunny-comedy, 26 July 2016

Larry Gigli (Ben Affleck) is a low level mob thug in L.A. Louis (Lenny Venito) orders him to kidnap autistic Brian (Justin Bartha). Brian is obsessed with Baywatch and brother of the D.A. prosecuting mobster Starkman (Al Pacino). Gigli pretends to be working for "The Baywatch". Louis puts Ricki (Jennifer Lopez) in charge. She's a lesbian and Gigli is frustrated. Police Det. Stanley Jacobellis (Christopher Walken) investigates Gigli for the kidnapping.

I don't see where the comedy is supposed to be coming from. The plot drags along slowly. It's terribly long. A bad movie can make time stand still. Gigli is such an unlikable character, Riki is stiff, and they have no chemistry together. His treatment of Brian is cringe-worthy and Brian is no treat either. The three lead characters sound like a bad joke; a meat-head, a lesbian, and a retard. I feel like this movie is begging for somebody like Tarantino to make the dialog sing. I don't think Martin Brest is capable of doing the writing that is required. Walken tries his best but the words lack the fun and power. There isn't one single smile-worthy humorous moment in the whole movie.

Sisters (2015/III)
SNL overload, 26 July 2016

Maura Ellis (Amy Poehler) is the overly responsible divorced nurse. Her sister Kate Ellis (Tina Fey) is the irresponsible one who lost her job and her home. Kate's daughter Haley (Madison Davenport) is tired of her irresponsibility and secretly moves in with Maura. The sisters are shocked when their parents (James Brolin, Dianne Wiest) sell their childhood Orlando home. The girls decide to throw one final blowout party with their former school friends. Maura invites cute neighbor James (Ike Barinholtz). Kate reluctantly accepts being "party mom" and not invite enemy Brinda (Maya Rudolph). Dave (John Leguizamo) calls up drug dealer Pazuzu (John Cena).

I love Tina-Amy and I hope they don't turn into Adam Sandler. He is repeating the worst of his humor with his gang of regulars. The ladies are showing signs of a similar crutch. It's a bunch of SNL friends doing a wild premise. It doesn't work quite as well. The funniest scene is Korean pedicurist Hae-Won (Greta Lee). Even the post credit bloopers of that scene are the funniest. Yet they step on the comedy by changing her character at the party. There are familiar faces like Bobby Moynihan, Rachel Dratch, and Samantha Bee. John Cena was funnier in Trainwreck and Barinholtz is funnier in most everything else since he's more of a straight man here. The butt thing is funny but they need to be daring and pull it out. I still love the Tina-Amy team but I would like for them to get out of the SNL trap.

small indie, 26 July 2016

Sam (Jeannine Kaspar) is found by her daughter half-dead with a plastic bag over her head in a suicide attempt. She loses custody and placed in the care of Dr. Gold. She stays with her controlling older sister Ed who gets her an office cleaning job. A young executive asks her out on a date. The deli clerk always gives her a flower. She plays Paper Rock Scissors with bike shop owner for a wheel.

This is a very small indie of limited means. Jeannine Kaspar plays a very quiet character. There is limited flash in her acting until a big scene at the end. It's very much reserved film. The drama with her sister could be more demonstrative. It has a couple of big scenes. Nothing really stands out but it's a fine micro budget indie.

O'Horten (2007)
surreal and a bit rambling, 25 July 2016

Odd Horton is dependable and cautious Norwegian train engineer facing retirement. His fellow train workers throw him a big retirement party. He gets locked out of his own party and tries to sneak back in climbing up a scaffolding. He finds a boy who asks him to stay while he sleeps. He oversleeps and misses his train. It's a series of disjointed rambling situations leading him to reconsider his life. As a character, Odd Horten lacks any charisma. It starts off slowly. When it turns strange, the movie lost me. I would rather it go crazy. I couldn't really follow him down the rabbit hole. The movie is well-made and it aims to be profound. I don't hate the attempt but it's not for me.

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