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8682 reviews in total 
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Wildcats (1986)
standard white savior movie with a side of sexism, 9 January 2017

Molly McGrath (Goldie Hawn) is a divorced mother of two girls and a Chicago high school girls' track coach. Verna (Swoosie Kurtz) is her sister best friend. Molly knows more about football than her male colleagues due to her late famed coach father. She wants to be the JV football coach but head coach Dan Darwell (Bruce McGill) picks the clueless home-ed teacher instead. He offers her the varsity coaching job at the rundown inner-city Central High. Levander 'Bird' Williams (Mykelti Williamson) is the local hustler and Ben Edwards is the principal. First, she has to win over the players.

Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson play two of the players. It's a standard white savior movie with a bit of fun and a healthy side of sexism. It's a bit funny but not too much. It's nothing great. Goldie Hawn is solid. There isn't anything special but it's good enough.

less Lori better, 9 January 2017

Marnie (Susan Sarandon) lives an empty life after the death of her husband Joey. His death left her with more money than she needs. She moved from New York to L.A. to be close to her TV writer daughter Lori (Rose Byrne) and her grand-doggies. It's a struggle to fill her days and she is constantly trying to get into Lori's life. She's even going to Lori's therapist. Lori is suffering about her ex Jacob and from Marnie's meddling. Lori travels to New York. Marnie promises to pay for Lori's friend Jillian (Cecily Strong)'s wedding. She gives rides to Freddy from the Apple genius store. She volunteers at the hospital. Zipper (J.K. Simmons) is a retired cop working on a movie set that Marnie accidentally works onto.

This actually works better after Lori leaves town. Marnie's adventures are fun. Jillian's wedding feels a little Bridesmaids. There is an overload of funny women but it's fine. Jerrod Carmichael is a fun little appetizer but the main course is J.K. Simmons. I actually missed these characters when Marnie goes to New York. I would rather have an indie about Marnie with Jillian, Freddy, and Zipper. It's a bit depressing without them and I can only take so much.

Nichols does screwball, 9 January 2017

During the 1920's, the Mann-Act criminalizes transporting women across State lines for immoral purposes. Nicky Wilson (Warren Beatty) and Oscar Sullivan (Jack Nicholson) are inept con-artists trying to take rich heiress Fredericka Quintessa Bigard (Stockard Channing). She falls for Nicky but he's already married. Oscar marries Freddie in order to run away to L.A. across state lines. Her father threatens to disown her. The boys fight over her for her money.

This movie threw me. I expected good characters, and good acting from a Mike Nichols movie but he adds a screwball element to his comedy this time. I didn't see it coming. It takes me a little time to get used to it. I'm shaken by Oscar suddenly walking the wing on the plane. I don't think it's Nichols' strong suit. It's a lot of wacky screwball comedy that don't really generate laughs. The energy isn't there. He needs quicker edits and sharper gags. His brand of comedy isn't quite that. At its core, there are the three great actors and they shine.

cheesy premise with pun title, 8 January 2017

In the small town of Cherry Falls, horny teens are being murdered by a mysterious killer. Jody Marken (Brittany Murphy) makes out with her boyfriend Kenny but he dumps her when she wouldn't put out. It doesn't help that she's the daughter of the strict local sheriff (Michael Biehn). Leonard Marliston (Jay Mohr) is the English teacher. Clues indicate that the killer is targeting virgins. The kids organize a sex party.

It's a cheesy premise with a cheesy title to match. Some may see this as calling out a standard horror trope. At its core, there is a passable horror. It is never good enough to be scary nor smart enough to be biting. It's not funny or at least not intentionally funny. The best friend is a bit of a dud. As a logical construct, there is a shocking lack of parental guidance out at the party considering a serial killer is on the loose. On the plus side, Brittany Murphy is a solid scream queen. The bar is raised higher by the obvious pun in the premise and title. The movie fails to clear that higher bar.

Agatha (1979)
premise has so many different possibilities, 8 January 2017

It's a famous real life case. Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days in December 1926. For some, she never explained it convincingly and this is a fictional account of those days. Col. Archibald Christie (Timothy Dalton) asks his wife Agatha Christie (Vanessa Redgrave) for a divorce so that he can marry his secretary Nancy Neele. Agatha is under tremendous stress and desperate to keep her husband. When American reporter Wally Stanton (Dustin Hoffman) arrives at her doors for a scheduled interview, the colonel sends him away. Agatha's abandoned car is later found and the search is on.

The fictionalization gives the scriptwriter a blank slate. It could have gone a million different ways from the outlandish to the poignant. This doesn't do much of anything and that is the most disappointing aspect. I don't care about Stanton or the Colonel or the search. I would love to follow only Agatha but she just spends her time at a spa. It's probably the least intriguing destination although it's fun to have her do research during her stay. I don't find her budding relationship with Stanton based on mutual lies that compelling. Despite the great acting power available, it's not until well into the second half before something interesting happens.

romanticism, 8 January 2017

Investment broker Lisa Walker (Mary Stuart Masterson) is sad. After her foster father Stanley's death, she breaks down at home. She was abandoned as a baby. Her foster mother died early on and Stanley was an uncaring drunk. Danny (Josh Brolin) is her inattentive boyfriend. Kim (Pamela Adlon) is her best and only friend. Lewis Farrell (Christian Slater) delivers flowers to her. He's a shy florist who also suffered losses. At first, he's unwilling to tell her the anonymous sender. He finally reveals that he sent the flowers after seeing her crying through her window.

This is a sappy romance but not much of a tear jerker. It's romanticism without any pretense of being more. Masterson and Slater are an appealing photogenic couple. Most importantly, one really likes both characters because of the actors. The story is not overly dramatic. It's certainly not great cinema. However, it is romantic for those open to it.

great bits but deviates from rom-com formula, 8 January 2017

NBA referee Mickey Gordon (Billy Crystal) is willing to make the tough calls on the court. His best friend sports writer Andy (Joe Mantegna) is on a group date with Liz (Cynthia Stevenson) waiting for Mickey and others to show up. Andy recounts Mickey's strangest first meeting ever with Ellen Gordon (Debra Winger). Mickey traveled to France to bury his late hated father with his war comrades. The airline lost the body and it's up to customer service rep Ellen to help. After a wonderful time in Paris, he had to return for the new NBA season.

There are some great stuff in this slightly offkilter rom-com. Crystal and Winger get to say some great lines with their fun delivery. In general, they are able to project a good relationship chemistry. There are fun observational bits like Ellen's muttering father. This is also noted for many cameos by NBA players. There are small deviations from the rom-com formula that keeps this from being better. Usually the formulaic start is more combative. This one is quirky but not heated. It fails to raise the temperature of the relationship. The relationship is retold by others. It leaves the flow disjointed but at least, they are able to keep the final status of the relationship a mystery. Overall, there are some great bits and lines by great comedic actors.

the clash of the two stories, 8 January 2017

It's 1965 Alabama. Peejoe (Lucas Black) is 13 living a simple life until his eccentric aunt Lucille (Melanie Griffith) kills her abusive husband. She cuts off his head and takes it with her to Hollywood. Her brother Dove (David Morse) and wife Earlene (Cathy Moriarty) run the funeral home. They take in Peejoe and his brother. It's the time of the Civil Rights movement. Local black youth Taylor Jackson gets kicked out of the white public swimming pool and returns with a group of black youths for a peaceful sit-in. During a confrontation, Sheriff John Doggett (Meat Loaf) kills Taylor. Peejoe is the only witness.

This movie is oddly split in two with the two stories. I don't know the reason unless it's in the book. Melanie Griffith tries to be quirky but it wears down by the time she gets to Hollywood. The tone gets so far away from the more serious Alabama side that it becomes untethered. The Alabama side is deadly serious but Antonio Banderas may be a little loose with the directing. I would rather follow either one side or the other but following both is distracting.

hard-boiled crime drama, 8 January 2017

A group of young Chinese thugs in NYC murders triad leader Jackie Wong. They also murder a store owner protected by the Italians. Police Captain Stanley White (Mickey Rourke) is one Polock unwilling to uphold the established understanding between the cops and the Chinese leaders. His marriage to Connie is on the rocks when TV reporter Tracy Tzu (Ariane Koizumi) comes into his life. Joey Tai (John Lone) is the ambitious leader who pushes his way to the top as he advocates a risky strategy to ramp up the drug trade from Thailand. Stanley recruits rookie cop Herbert Kwong to infiltrate Chinatown.

First of all, this is not reality. This is a hard-boiled crime drama and it's not going to put Chinatown in a good light. Certainly, Michael Cimino and Oliver Stone are willing to write in some Chinese stereotypes such as bad driving. There are some fun surprising bits like the Chinese speaking nuns translating the wiretaps. Despite the hard-boiled unreality, I find the semi-claustrophobic feel of Chinatown very compelling. That's why John Lone going to Thailand takes away some of the tension. Otherwise, John Lone is great and Mickey Rourke is pretty good at this role. Ariane is basically a model-turned-actress. It would have been better to sacrifice a little on the looks for better acting. Part of it is the jarring dialogue like when she injects her rape into an argument out of nowhere. I watched this again after these many years and I'm surprised at so many of these memorable scenes. Cimino is capable of great visual mastery but once in awhile, he loses his way through his excesses.

The War (1994)
borderline sincere coming-of-age fable, 8 January 2017

Lidia Joanne Simmons recalls her family's tough times in Juliette, Mississippi. Her shell-shocked Vietnam-vet father Stephen Simmons (Kevin Costner) is struggling to keep any job while her mother Lois (Mare Winningham) keeps the family together. Lidia and her twin brother Stu (Elijah Wood) make peace between the girls and boys to build a tree house together. They are always bullied by the junkyard Lipnicki kids. Stephen befriends Moe Henry who helps him get a job in the mine.

There is a lot of mannered southern accents especially from the kids. LaToya Chisholm is the broadest character of them all and it's somewhat bothersome. She plays the sassy black friend to its tilt. The kids have varying success and that's the problem. The movie relies on mostly amateur child actors and not all of them work well. Kevin Costner gives his wise lessons that border on preaching. This is dripping in sincerity and suffers from its heavy-handedness. The combination of Vietnam war action with a kids' coming-of-age fable creates an uneasy mix. If one's willing to buy into it, the film could be a sincere watch.

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