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Children of Men (2006)
Don't Buy It! - Rent ONLY
I read lots of reviews for this movie, applauding it - "thumbs up" as it were. NOT. It's actually quite boring, and half the time you can't understand what the pregnant girl "Kee" is saying. The sound quality may have had a part in that - it's not very good. Julianne Moore and Michael Caine are totally wasted as actors in this. Clive Owen is pretty good, but I was truly disappointed with the plot in general. Unfortunately, I actually bought the movie - thinking that the paid critics must be right about it being worthwhile. It's not - if you really, really have to see it - rent it; don't buy it. My copy's going to end up in a used DVD store shortly.
The Good Shepherd (2006)
Espionage - Alive & Well
I enjoyed this movie, but it's a little slow for my taste. The plot is believable, the dialog well-written, and all the actors are great. I'm not a fan of Matt Damon, but he gives a laudable, understated, performance as Edward Wilson. John Turturro also provides a boost in his supporting role (as usual). The background behind the early years of the Central Intelligence Agency was interesting, including counter-intelligence during World War II, and later during the Cold War with the U.S.S.R./Cuba during the Bay of Pigs. I'm not entirely sure if this was Robert De Niro's first try and directing, but he should continue to do so - he's definitely an actor's director - along the lines of Clint Eastwood.
I think this film was really overlooked at the box office! I rented it on DVD recently with some hesitation because none of my friends had seen it, and I had no first-hand opinions to go by. I'm not even sure what the "critics" said about it, and quite frankly I don't care because I absolutely loved it. Full of wry humor, and very witty; with a terrific performance by Jeremy Irons (as usual). The movie pokes fun at the Inquisition in general, and the Catholic Church during that time period in particular which I liked. (Sorry, just not big on religion of any kind really). Oliver Platt, Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, and Lena Olin also give good performances, as does the actor who plays The Doge of Venice, and the actor who plays Casanova's butler. Truly a gem, and definitely a worthwhile watch!
Anger Management (2003)
A Really Worthwhile Comedy
Personally, I'm not much for comedy movies. I prefer action, drama, horror, or sci-fi because frankly most comedies are either too lame, too full of swearing, or just plain too stupid to bother watching. Especially many comedies in recent years.
Not Anger Management! It's one of the best comedies I've ever seen, and Adam Sandler isn't even a favorite actor of mine. However, this movie does the trick. I laughed almost continuously throughout it.
Jack Nicholson is great as the anger management coach. The supporting cast, including Marisa Tomei, John Turturro and the rest of the "anger management" group, and Woody Harrelson and Heather Graham in hilarious cameos make this a fine movie to watch. I highly recommend it.
The Last Samurai (2003)
TRULY Academy Award-worthy!
You know, I'm not really a fan of Tom Cruise, and therefore it took me forever to rent this movie and watch it. Boy, am I glad I did! The plot is good; the script well-written; the cinematography excellent, and the battle scenes unparalleled since "Braveheart".
Obviously a morality-play, this movie could be capable of teaching people the difference between right and wrong; might versus right; conscience versus corruptibility; dignity versus shame. The acting is first rate, and I wish more movies of this calibre were being made today.
The only thing I found fault with, and this is negligible, were the subtitles displayed on the screen barely long enough to read them (and I'm a fast reader). I highly recommend this movie!
The 51st State (2001)
Formula 51 (as it's also known) rocks!
What do you get when you put Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Meatloaf, Rhys Ifans, and Emily Mortimer together in a movie? A rollicking good time! This movie is pure entertainment and has some very, very funny moments. The dialogue is mostly tongue-in-cheek and snappy. The soundtrack is excellent (this coming from someone who doesn't really like techno, club, rap, or hip-hop music), and I would definitely buy this movie to watch again. It may not be for everyone, but the cast is first-rate; the story line believable, and seeing Samuel L. Jackson in a kilt couldn't be beat! I give this movie a 9 out of 10. It's not Academy Award material, but who cares!
Cold Creek Manor (2003)
This movie is definitely a "B" movie.
The plot is thin; the script is weak; the acting is adequate. In all, this is NOT a very good movie. I had to fight to stay awake just to watch it! We're never told WHY Stephen Dorff's character is such a psycho-case. (Yes, there are hints based on dialogue we hear from his father (played by Christopher Plummer), but not enough to explain much). Dennis Quaid, as the documentary-making husband to Sharon Stone, delves into Cold Creek Manor's history, but we learn very little.
This is basically a movie where Stephen Dorff gets to show off his six-pack abs, and handsome face. Sharon Stone's character doesn't get nearly as much dialogue or screen time as she deserves. Ms. Stone is a terrific actress, but she's wasted in this role. I don't recommend buying this movie. Rent it only if you've seen everything else, and you have the hots for Stephen Dorff.
Great Special Effects; Fair Acting
Special effects? You got it! Some great fight scenes? Yup! The acting isn't the greatest, but the plot's not half bad and the dialogue is adequate. The best part of this movie is Colin Farrell. He's quite "over the top" as Bullseye; very funny too - in a sick, twisted way. Jennifer Garner brings a bit of spark to her role as Electra Natchios, and obviously trained hard for the role. I'm not a fan of Ben Affleck whatsoever! In fact, I can't stand his acting per se, but he was alright in this movie. Michael Clark Duncan is good, as is Jon Favreau as Ben Affleck's lawyer partner. It's a movie worth renting, but it's certainly not one I would go out and buy to watch again and again.
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Still Presents Misconceptions about Canadians
"Bowling for Columbine" had me alternately in stitches, and shaking my head. Americans certainly seem to love their guns! However, as Michael Moore points out, so do Canadians. Unfortunately, Mr. Moore didn't delve deeper into Canadian facts and statistics. Canada is much larger than the United States, but has only 1/10th the population. Yes, there's lots of guns here, and YES - they do get used to commit crimes.
Canada even went so far as to legislate a national gun registry that's supposed to stop guns from getting into the wrong hands, but while the intentions may have been good to begin with, the implementation of this "registry" is out of control spending-wise. Criminals will continue to get guns no matter what legislation is passed to try to stop them.
Mr. Moore also indicates that Toronto, Ontario has a low crime rate. This is simply untrue. The crime rate in Toronto has risen steadily over the past 25 years; gun-related murders included. Other than the misconception that Canadians are all peace-loving pacifists, "Bowling for Columbine" is an excellent movie that deservedly won the Oscar for Best Documentary.
Dark Blue (2002)
Kurt Russell nails this one! 8 out of 10
Kurt Russell gives one of the strongest performances of his lengthy career - if not the strongest. Brendan Gleeson as Kurt's corrupt boss is compellingly evil. Ving Rhames is great as well, but we really don't see enough of him in this movie. The acting of Scott Speedman and Michael Michele is also top notch. Lolita Davidovitch as Russell's troubled wife gives a commanding performance. The script was well-written, the plot feasible/plausible, and the acting all around was excellent. A good film about troubling issues on any police force. Although "Dark Blue" is an action movie, I didn't find the violence to be over the top. It fit the story line. This film is definitely worth renting or buying!