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5008 reviews in total 
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Longitude (2000) (TV)
enlightening history lesson, 22 May 2015

In the 18th century, latitude is readily observable but longitude is nearly impossible. The inability to find longitude is the difference between life and death. After one particularly devastating loss, the government offers £20k for a practical solution. The solution lies in a marine chronometer that can work on the rolling seas. Clockmaker John Harrison (Michael Gambon) creates such a clock as he struggles to prove his invention's accuracy. In post-WWII, Rupert Gould (Jeremy Irons) becomes obsessed with finding Harrison's clocks and restoring them to their working conditions.

It's an eye opening slice of scientific and exploration history. It seems like such an unsexy slice of history but it's such an important one. Surprisingly, this movie makes it compelling. It's a great way to see into another era. Harrison is the quintessential underdog and Michael Gambon does a great job making him a socially awkward man. There is a compelling competition with the scientific old guard. Jeremy Irons' modern story isn't quite as compelling. Overall, this is very enlightening history lesson and a well-made one at that.

needs more intensity, 22 May 2015

Marianne (Hope Davis) dies in a car crash with her daughters in the back. The youngest Mary causes the crash. Joe (Colin Firth) goes to teach English Literature at the University in Genova, Italy and brings his daughters Mary and Kelly (Willa Holland) over for the summer. Mary is racked with guilt and Kelly falls in love with a local boy. Joe is struggling to move on with college Barbara (Catherine Keener).

The movie is dealing with some heavy issues. The problem is that these people are trying to avoid the issues. It doesn't make for great intensity. I wish Mary and Kelly have some better conversation. This is basically a foreign vacation with some dark undertones beneath it. The most compelling parts are a couple things with Mary. Kelly isn't doing anything outrageous that the audience can attribute to more than simple teenage rebellion. It's OK to have the characters avoid the subject matter but they have to go off on other tangents to get the intensity.

Dead Man (1995)
indie western with some interesting weirdness, 22 May 2015

William Blake (Johnny Depp) is a meek accountant traveling to the American west frontiers from Cleveland. He is welcomed by the train boilerman. He arrives at Dickinson Metal Works. Manager John Scholfield tells him that he's too late. The owner John Dickinson sends him packing with a shotgun. He befriends former prostitute Thel Russell. John's son Charlie Dickinson is her jealous ex and kills her. Blake kills Charlie in return. He is helped by a native American named Nobody. John Dickinson sends a posse of Cole Wilson, Conway Twill and Johnny 'The Kid' Pickett to go after him.

I really like some of the odder surreal touches from Jim Jarmusch. The movie starts well with the train trip and the muddy town. The movie loses steam after the killings. Gary Farmer is a little funny but I get a sense that he's meant to be much funnier. Jarmusch's indie camera work lacks style. I can sense where this movie is trying to go. It's trying to subvert the western with a lot of weird takes. It doesn't really succeed as a movie.

JCVD (2008)
Meta Good, 22 May 2015

JCVD (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is a struggling B-movie action actor trying to maintain some artistic integrity despite everyone around him. He has custody problems and returned from family court in LA. He has been sleepless for 2 days. He goes into the bank and shots ring out. He's taken hostage but the cops think that he's the hostage taker.

JCVD shows some acting chop or he's tapping into his inner self. It's so fascinating that he is such a mess. It's also a mess that isn't unrealistic. There is a bit of action but that's not the heart of this movie. It is to watch JCVD break down his public image and then break down his character. The movie could use an A-list actor to be the bad guy as his foil. Nevertheless this is one of the greatest performance from JCVD ever.

Jumanji (1995)
wild CGI destruction gets repetitive, 22 May 2015

In 1869, two boys bury a mysterious dangerous wooden chest. In 1969 Brantford, New Hampshire, young Alan Parrish gets picked on by bullies. He finds the box in a local construction site. He opens the chest to find a board game Jumanji. His father is sending him to boarding school. He is about to run away when his best friend Sarah Whittle comes by. They play the game and Alan is pulled into the board game. Twenty six years later, Nora Shepherd (Bebe Neuwirth) buys the rundown mansion planning to open a bed-and-breakfast. She brings her niece Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and nephew Peter (Bradley Pierce) who lost their parents in a car accident. The kids find the board game in the attic and start playing it. Alan (Robin Williams) is released. They track down Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) to finish the game and bring all the released apparitions to an end. Carl Bentley (David Alan Grier) was a friend who worked at Alan's shoe factory and is now a cop. The game brings out big game hunter Van Pelt (Jonathan Hyde) who looks like Alan's father Sam.

The basic idea of a board game that comes alive is one with great possibilities. I wish that it is more than just a series of crazy CGI destruction. I wish that the players needed to use their brain power to solve clues. The constant escaping from one thing to the next gets a little bit repetitive. They start piling on top of one another. Williams is not quite as lovable as expected. Bonnie Hunt and David Alan Grier are kind of fun. There is an uncontrolled quality to this children's movie.

The Giver (2014)
promising but doesn't completely deliver, 21 May 2015

After the Ruin, the Community was build as an utopia where everybody is the same, emotions are suppressed and memories of the past are restricted. When Jonas turns 18, he's selected to be the community's Receiver of Memories. His best friends Fiona and Asher also turn 18. He goes to train with The Giver (Jeff Bridges) to learn the memories of the past. Meryl Streep plays the Chief Elder. Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgård play Jonas' parents. The previous Receiver Rosemary (Taylor Swift) 10 years ago came to a tragic end.

The idea of colors and memories are interesting. I especially like the idea of memories which reminds me a little of 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'. This is not nearly as artistic or compelling. There is just enough that one gets a small taste of something much better and what this could have been.

I also have questions about this world. This world feels incomplete like the author explained it in a paragraph and the reader fills in the gap. The movie just hasn't filled those gaps with enough precision. I do have to praise this franchise. It seems to be a little bit more ambitious than the others but I wouldn't say it's complete. Also it fails as a movie to be intense. The climax is there but without much excitement. The final scene is really just asking for a sequel which is probably not coming.

The acting is functional. Most of them are required to be distant and controlled. Jeff Bridges, Odeya Rush and Brenton Thwaites are the only ones required to act out emotions. Meryl Streep may actually be acting too much. I have to say that I like Katie Holmes acting removed which kind of fits her. Thwaites is asked to calibrate his acting and he does a reasonable job. Rush is pretty effective and quite touching. Jeff Bridges is doing basically the same note.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
weak sequel to classic, 21 May 2015

Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl)'s mother was sent away when she was a child. Her foster parents only care about the money. Her best friend Lisa Parker (Mena Suvari) lost her virginity to Eric (Zachery Ty Bryan) but it's only a game for the football players. He rejects her and she commits suicide. Rachel tells school counselor Sue Snell (Amy Irving) and Sheriff Kelton. Sue pushes Kelton to charge Eric for statutory rape. Jesse Ryan (Jason London) is a popular kind-hearted jock who falls for Rachel. Eric and the football players try to intimidate Rachel and her burgeoning telekinetic power is unleashed. Sue investigates and discovers that Ralph White is Rachel's biological father.

Director Katt Shea can only do TV movie level work. Emily Bergl is a bit too old to play a teenager and so is Jason London. Sissy Spacek was so much better and she looked so innocent. Everything like the constant flashback to the original reminds me how much better that was. Amy Irving's return helps a little but in other ways, she doesn't help at all. Her investigation diverges attention away from the schoolmates. It's also questionable how easily she is pulled into the party. The special effects are generally poor until the last section when the film throws everything into it. This is a weak sequel to a horror classic.

meandering movie, 21 May 2015

It's 1972 Marrakesh. Julia (Kate Winslet) moves from London to Morocco with his young daughters Bea and Lucy. The girls' father has another woman in London. They struggle waiting for the father's check to come in. Julia falls for acrobat street performer Bilal (Saïd Taghmaoui). She goes to study in Algiers with Sufi mystic Ben Said.

There is a meandering pointlessness about this movie. It doesn't have enough exotic style. The movie doesn't tap into a child's wonder. It doesn't have tension of surviving in a foreign land. Kate Winslet looks downbeat which somewhat fits her character. She may want to be someone looking for spirituality but she strikes as someone self-obsessed running away from her troubled home. She's more about her love life than taking care of her children.

Tommy Boy (1995)
dynamic duo Farley and Spade, 21 May 2015

Tommy Callahan III (Chris Farley) is a dumb good-natured klutz who finally graduates college after seven years. His father Big Tom Callahan (Brian Dennehy) owns a family auto parts empire in Sandusky, Ohio but it's not going well. Nevertheless, Big Tom is taking out new loans to start up a new brake pad factory and marrying Beverly (Bo Derek). Beverly's son Paul (Rob Lowe) is a jerk. Big Tom puts resentful Richard Hayden (David Spade) in charge of looking after Tommy. Tommy reconnects with former schoolmate and shipping manager Michelle Brock (Julie Warner). When Big Tom dies, the bank reneges on the promise loan until Tommy puts everything he owns on the line. Tommy goes on the road to sell brake pads with a reluctant Richard Hayden.

Chris Farley is naturally adorable and a great physical comic. He exudes charm. David Spade is his perfect partner with his sarcastic superior manner. The movie excels when the duo is on the screen together. It doesn't work quite as well without both guys together. They are simply a hilarious team.

weird history in place of a compelling story, 21 May 2015

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (Anthony Hopkins) invented corn flakes. Along with his other believes in health, he opened a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. William (Matthew Broderick) is a new patient following his wife Eleanor Lightbody (Bridget Fonda) who is a Kellogg devotee. On the train there, they encounter Charles Ossining (John Cusack) who is trying to profit from the health food craze with partner Goodloe Bender (Michael Lerner). George (Dana Carvey) is Kellogg's disappointing adopted son who is always looking for money.

This is a lot wacky turn-of-the-century health ideas. The problem is that the movie is in love with them. They take the place of a compelling story. The vast cast of characters keep the plot scattered and unfocused. It tries to be a screwball comedy but it's not funny. Alan Parker seems happy to let the plot lines drift while he pays more attention to the unusual health practices. It doesn't help that almost every character is played odd and broad.

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