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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
As good as the original..., 27 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sequel to the original Godfather is slower moving than the original but maybe better. The first was fresh material and Brando's presence was a huge plus. But this one digs into the blood and guts of the two main characters, provoking more thought, as well as introducing us to one of the most prolific actors today.

Michael's descent into darkness is terrible to behold. Tragedy surrounds him as he struggles to maintain his empire but alienates himself in the process. Hey, it's not easy holding a crime empire together. I think this film sets out to make Michael a tragic figure but how do you feel sympathy for a guy who murders family members? It's a cold world obviously, and takes a strong man to stay on top. Very interesting final scene, grim and stark, as Michael sits contemplating on a chair watching the dead leaves blow around him.

Pacino's performance is magnificent. Some great scenes, especially when Michael realizes Fredo betrayed him. That simple movement of covering his forehead in shock and despair conveys so much. Michael becomes a three dimensional character in this film as opposed to the first. Pacino just nails the part.

The secondary story is the rise of Michael's father, Vito Corleone and we watch the birth of a star. DeNiro even surpasses Pacino in his part, if that is possible. The calculating Vito as he calmly stalks Don Fanucci from the rooftops is classic film. DeNiro plays the role of Death himself: knife thin, pale yet slick and immaculate in appearance. How many other hit men in the movies borrowed DeNiro's look?

What the Godfather does, unlike so many other films of it's generation is convey thought in simple movements. Watch DeNiro as he pales visibly, staring at an old Italian remedy of his sick baby. We know right then that Vito Corleone will do whatever it takes to protect and save his family. Watch him as Don Fanucci boards his car and leans on him. By DeNiro's expression, we know Fanucci is already a dead man. That's unsurpassed acting.

The sets are beautiful to behold and this is probably the best cinematography I have seen in any movie. Early 1900's New York, in the Italian neighborhood is unreal. Watch the pedestrians and background movement while the focus of the scene is occurring. That's sheer magic. Once again, watch Hyman Roth in Cuba lie on the couch, shirtless and a gentle wind moving the drapes. We can practically feel the heat and hear and smell the city of Havana. It made me think how much care and calculation was put into this movie.

Some weak points: Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth was not on par with the other actors. Gazzo as Pentangeli just grated on my nerves, especially in the first hour. I was hoping he would get whacked so he would not appear in the rest of the film. The rest of the cast is great as usual, especially Duvall and Kirby. Not much to complain about.

The second Godfather, tries to do what the first does, a study of Vito vs. Michael. They both have different motivations for ruling their empire. Whereas Vito tries to do whatever it takes to rise from poverty and provide for his family out of love, Michael rules out of ruthlessness and a need to succeed to maintain his empire. You can see where the results have taken both.

One of the greatest films of all time.

0 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Strange ride., 26 April 2006

Bizarre, graphic tale of two Irish lads from a Boston neighborhood who get embroiled in a clash with the Russian mafia that lead them waging a holy war on the hoods of the city. Wildly entertaining with some outlandish performances by Willem Dafoe, Billy Connelly and newcomer David Della Rocco. Unfettered swearing, gore galore and some genuine funny moments make this a movie for the macho masses.

Willem Dafoe plays a gay FBI agent tracking the executions of the young hit men squad and ends up admiring the boys and their mission. He is over the top and hilarious as the brilliant G-man who regularly puts the inept Boston Police Homicide Squad to shame. Billy Connolly is almost unrecognizable as the fearsome "Il Duce", a furry hit-man released from prison by the mob to track down the boys. David Della Rocco as the wild "Funny Man" is a riot to watch on the screen. The two boys, played by Flannery and Reedus have an on screen chemistry with so much charisma, it has us rooting for them at every turn. Even porn star Ron Jeremy shows up as a sleazy Russian underboss and as you guessed it: nails the role.

For those negative reviews you read on this movie, it's from those who never got swept away in the zaniness of it all and took it too serious. Please gentlemen, just enjoy the ride and take it for what it is. It's not Casablanca or Citizen Kane, nor does it try to be.

One-liners zing, animals are splattered against walls, James Bond style hits, torture scenes, cartridge flying gunfights, bar fights and even court room drama make this a manic adventure in the style of Tarantino. My one problem with the film is it aims to convey a disturbing message near the end instead of letting us revel in the wild ride. Still, this almost cartoonish adventure is to be indulged by action fans who want style and uniqueness in their viewing. Chances are, you will either love this movie or hate it, but either way, it will affect you. One of the best of the genre.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
What to say that hasn't been said?, 26 April 2006

Great story of a mafia family. Although this story does not reflect real mafia workings (a fairy tale in comparison) it's great entertainment with a lot of class and a lot of style. The sets are spectacular, acting flawless and characters intriguing.

There is a lot of subtle material ocuuring in the continuous power struggle the mafia family is undergoing, especially with Michael. His gradual change, from war hero to Godfather is brought on by the violent events around him. He can't help but be sucked in. His icy cold demeanor is a reflection of the violent world around him and how the human character adapts to it, the transformation from doting husband to ruthless killer. Various events; the assassination attempt on his father, his brother and wife's murder, the betrayal by associates, the beating of his sister, gives him insight into the workings of the human mind. As the cold, clear thinker (as opposed to his animal-like brother, Sonny) he survives and becomes king.

Brando is great as the older Don who is starting to lose his edge with oncoming age and the love of his family. His old school mentality does not adapt to the more businesslike, colder generation of mafia hoods where honor and respect are becoming a thing of the past.

This movie is marvelous character study comparison between father and son in a violent world. Intelligently done and should hold up for generations to come.

Classic 80's comedy., 25 April 2006

Easy going charm and an assortment of nutty characters make this one of the most entertaining sport's comedies ever. Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Rene Russo and Wesley Snipes all star as the "Bad News" Cleveland Indians who are searching for their first pennant in thirty years. The Plot: Rachel Phelps as Margaret Whitton inherits the management of the baseball team after her husband dies and puts together a roster of players with a sure fire recipe to lose. However the team overcomes it's difficulties and fights Mrs. Whitton's various hurdles to: you guessed it.

Some great characters and great scenes make this one a winner. Charlie Sheen as the juvenile delinquent "Wild Thing" has a scene stealing moment as he exits the bullpen and enters the last game against the Yanks. Dennis Haybert as the voodoo worshiping Pedro Cerano adds more flavor. Wesley Snipes (before he started taking himself too serious) was charismatic as the speedy Willie Mays Hays. James Gammon is great as the barking, gruff manager who does a classic with Corben Bernson's character's contract. Even Bernsen, who plays a spoiled playboy type is marvelous. Berenger and Russo, who play the romantic side, do it well, keeping it low key as to not take anything away from the main plot. Very upbeat, funny film.

Two of my favorite moments: Wild Thing in the restaurant with cut off shirt, crazy hairdo, earring and a tie wrapped around his bare neck says deadpan "I look like a banker." Classic Charlie Sheen. Also Tom Berenger in slow motion in the final game headed for first. The look of heart, as the movie certainly has.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Interesting Idea, 24 April 2006

This must have been a hell of a movie back in '78. The idea of cloning tagged with the wackiest plot line for a movie to that date, it must have had audiences in shock.

I kind of like this movie in a weird way. It is original, I grant you that.

I will not unveil the plot for this movie for it is better left unsaid; to be discovered by the watcher. What needs to be revealed is the acting. The acting in this movie is so comical that I can't believe it was two of the greatest actors ever on the screen. Gregory Peck as a pasty faced Josef Mengele with the lamest German accent I ever heard is totally miscast. Laurence Olivier as Ezra Lieberman was so terrible as the cliché older Jewish Nazi Hunter that they nominated him for an academy award. It's obvious movies have come a long way from the seventies. I dare anyone to watch Ben Kingsley in House of Sand and Fog and Olivier in this role and think they should be nominated for the same award. He must have been laughing out of his ass when he was nominated. Another aspect of this movie that needs to be mentioned is the horrible music score at the start. Talk about grating.

All that aside, the sets were great and the plot line was so unbelievable it kept me guessing. I really didn't know where it was going to take me next because it was coming so far out of left field. The greatest point in this movie comes three quarters of the way through when Liebermen visits a scientist and they discover the truth behind Mengeles's experiments. I can imagine a seventies audience trying to digest that bit of news.

To a 2000+ decade audience, this movie should be taken as good campy fun and nothing else. I kept expecting Elvira, Mistress of the Dark to pop up and give us a little comment. It would make a great plot line to another Castle Wolfenstein video game. This movie needs to be seen for it's wonderful strangeness and to watch two of the centuries greatest actors hamming it up for the screen. Good Fun.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Poor script ruins movie., 24 April 2006

This movie has a terrible script. Every epic cliché line written in Braveheart, LOTR and Gladiator was thrown into this movie and mishmashed to suit the director's purpose. From the upraising of swords and all the hooting and chest thumping that goes on, it becomes a terrible spectacle. Uninspired to say the least. For example, one scene has Arthur emerging from the city gates to meet Cerdic, the Saxon chief. Fog and smoke roil around him, making him look like a rock star from the 80's walking on stage. Just plain cheesy.

Clive Owen, great in roles like Derailed and Sin City just doesn't seem right for this part. Although he has movie star looks, he does not have the screen presence to carry off an effective Arthur. Keira Knightly is not as bad in this movie as everyone says, but her lines are poorly written. She has an intriguing character though and a different twist on Guinevere. Ioan Gruffudd is wooden as the passionate Lancelot. Even the great Ray Winstone, marvelous in all those British gangster films, overacts his part. His over the top role as the crazy warrior becomes annoying very quickly.

What good can be said about this film? Low key actors like Mads Mikkelson as Tristan and Stellan Skarsgard as Cerdic are simply great. Maybe their roles, because they didn't have to deliver many lines from the terrible script, made them shine. Regardless, they are fun to watch on the screen. Stellan as the old Saxon chief with that murderous axe and sweeping beard truly looks the part of an ancient warrior.

The sets are simply phenomenal. From the burning villages to the mortared cities, they were inspired as much as the script wasn't. Details for armor, weapons, horses are flawless.

The battle scenes? Spectacular! Swordplay, hails of arrows and flinging fireballs were a treat to watch. It's too bad there wasn't more of them. All the knights of Arthur have different fighting styles, with Tristan's saber to Lancelot's two sword fighting skill to Arthur's traditional longsword. Great stuff. The final battle scene was rousing to say the least. With flying bodies, splattered blood, classic one on one matches and the chaos of life and death mêlée, it was amazingly portrayed on the screen.

The final word? If you want to watch a movie that has eye candy but little emotional content, an uninspired script and ho hum acting then by all means, rent this flick. It's really too bad that this movie hadn't really poured some work into these areas, because it could have been on par with the other epic classics.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Triumph of the Human Spirit!, 21 April 2006

I have been watching through a lot of the sixties and seventies movies recently and most do not stand the test of time. They have dated badly, the language is stilted and the camera work seems shoddy compared to today's standards. A select few have subject matter that carries over and still resonates to today's moviegoers. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is one of these films.

Why this movie works: We do not feel pity for the patients at the start. Instead, we identify with them. They are ordinary people, all original yet still very likable despite their various problems. The first group session could be a family gathering or a supper table discussion. We immediately bond with them. The introduction to the characters this way is very clever because it subtly reveals their character flaws without being blatantly obvious.

Enter Jack Nicholson, the charismatic and strong Randle Patrick Murphy. Murphy reaches out to every one of the patients in his own way and ends up changing their lives by breathing life into their solitary and lonely existence. How? He makes them laugh and shows them a good time. He treats them like human beings, not something to be shunned or cast down. Is he crazy? Who is to judge who is crazy or not? We all take our different paths and that is what this film reveals. It is a character study into every personality from Nurse Ratched to Turkle and how they intermingle with each other. Whether Murphy is crazy or not, he is a leader. I think only Jack Nicholson could have carried off being crazy and charismatic in this role.

I found myself smiling and hurting with these guys throughout the whole movie. The fishing trip, the Christmas party, the fights, awaiting their punishments. The movie quietly hits you on an emotional level until you are wrapped up into it. This is in large part do to the acting.

The acting in this movie is phenomenal. From the quiet, demure Martini, the noble and thoughtful Chief, the loud, raucous Murphy and the manipulative, controlling Ratched. Never have I saw such varied and powerful performances by so many talented actors.

Truly a great and original film.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Norton's performance!, 17 April 2006

This is Norton's vehicle and I don't think he will give a performance like this again. He played the innocent altar boy so well. And his first role! Whoever decided to cast Norton as this character deserves an Oscar themselves. Brilliant insight!

I can see casting Gere for the role of Vail. Gere would be an obvious choice as a player due to all the beautiful women he's seen. But what is it about Gere that women love and men hate? He just seems so bland and phony that it ruined the movie. Very unconvincing. When he was on the screen, my attention strayed but I was electrified when Norton appeared. Gere simply paled in comparison.

Great story with scandal, politics, mobsters, murder and the church. The player getting played is a great touch. I would give this movie almost another two stars rating if another actor rather than Gere had played the role. But if you are a Gere fan or can see past him, definitely see this movie for Norton's performance alone.

Hostel (2005)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not bad!, 17 April 2006

The thing about Hostel that separates it from movies such as Saw and other gross out films is it is built on a premise that could be very real, knowing the fall of the USSR. It is an original idea. I recently saw a Law and Order episode where whole blocks of a city in Russia catered to child prostitution so this is not much of a stretch. The gloomy look of the worn out city captures much of the fallen society it is portraying and it's medieval atmosphere. Those two aspects work great.

However what it does wrong is it doesn't take time to make us like the characters headed into the lion's den. I didn't feel anything for any of the suffering characters except for likable Oli, but we don't really experience his pain. Pot smoking, partying teenagers is too much of a cliché and we kind of know where they are headed from square one. Because of that, it loses much of it's impact. The ending escape scene just seemed rushed, contrived and resorts to gross out tactics. This is where Wolf Creek becomes a better film. Wolf Creek went for an unprotected jugular and never let go. Although it resorted to unabashed torture and cringing acts of dominance, torture is never something that should ever be portrayed lightly. This is where Hostel should have went with it's real and horrible subject matter to make it a real classic shocker.

Still I recommend this to anyone except those with no aptitude for watching graphic violence depicted on the screen. It's premise could very well be real and the look of the old city of Bratislava is the stuff horror movies are made of.

7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
An eye opener for men!, 16 April 2006

First things first. I know that this movie is about a femme fatale who preys on men using her sexuality and manipulation, so I don't expect her to be a good girl. But this woman just gets away with too much. The men are just witless pawns to whatever game she plays, even a street smart PI. The scene in her jeep is just laughable. The film would have definitely benefited from a worthy adversary chasing her down. I could imagine a scene with Denis Farina as a cop putting a good scare in Fiorentino's character in the smoky bar.

All that said, the movie is finely acted and finely done. It hits some right notes on small town values and the way people treat each other compared to city-folk. The way the seen it all bartender treats Fiorentino's character near the start says it all. Peter Berg is great as the naive, small town boy with big dreams who is looking for a way out. But this is Linda Fiorentino's film and she absolutely sizzles as the cold hearted, manipulative, scheming predatory bitch. She is unattainable, sexy and smart, causing men to rise to the challenge, thereby allowing her to play the dominant role. To all you guys who think that they are in charge in their relationship, watch this film and beware!

I also enjoyed the ending. It does not fall into the usual Hollywood cliché of bad people getting their just due. A scary film for all single guys looking for Mrs. Right.

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