Reviews written by registered user
classicalsteve

Send an IMDb private message to this author or view their message board profile.

Page 1 of 31:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]
308 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

Rudy (1993)
Uplifting True Story About An Unlikely Working-Class Kid Who Fights His Way to Notre Dame and Its Football Team, 18 August 2014
9/10

Part-way into the film, Daniel Ruettiger, Sr. (Ned Beatty), the father of "Rudy", tells the story of how his immigrant father, Rudy's grandfather, came to America and gave his family a new life. Later he decided to create a dairy farm out in the country. He bought land and about 200 cows, probably on credit. Unfortunately, according to Beatty, the cows died of disease after only a few months. Because it was the Depression, they couldn't sell the land. As a result, Rudy's grandfather disappeared, never to be seen again, and younger siblings were split up to live with other family members. We assume he left his family because of the shame of failure. Rudy's father then goes on to say that universities like Notre Dame just aren't in the cards for members of the Ruettiger family of laborers. Institutions like Notre Dame are for rich and connected people, not for those who don hard-hats at steel mills and factories.

The moral of Beatty's story: if you try and don't succeed, it would have been better if you hadn't tried at all. Rudy's father tells him this story at a bus station where Rudy is going to travel to South Bend, Indiana, hoping to not only enroll into Notre Dame University, but also play for their illustrious football team. Rudy decides not to take heed of his father's story and instead travels to South Bend anyway with nothing except a cheap traveling pack. Which is I think the point of "Rudy": that we must try and risk failure if we are to have any chance to succeed.

Rudy's chances of getting into Notre Dame as a student are slim at best and almost negligible in regards to joining the Fighting Irish football team. He has every disadvantage imaginable. But he has one thing in his favor: he has nothing to lose, and he knows he will have to put in 400% to achieve his goals. To give him an edge, Rudy thinks outside the box and does things other kids wouldn't have thought to do, such as befriending the grounds-keeper at the Notre Dame stadium and introducing himself to the Notre Dame coach even before he's a student. But his road is hard and arduous. In a very interesting shot about mid-way through the film, we see Rudy on the outside of the Notre Dame stadium while a game is in-progress. The shot is a bird's eye view with Rudy at ground-level to the right of the large wall of the stadium to the left. This is the seemingly impenetrable wall Rudy is trying to climb. Physically, he is right near the stadium yet he is still on the outside.

This is a remarkable film about a highly implausible story that is truly a great inspirational films. While the supporting cast is perfect for the film, it's the performance of Sean Astin as Rudy which takes us all the way. Every step of Astin as Rudy is completely believable. And the film never lapses into cliché sentiment but sticks with the facts of most of the true story, with one small change towards the end. If Astin and/or the script had ever once lapsed into idealistic fantasy it would have become almost satirical farce, but luckily it never does. It ranks as one of best sports films of all time.

Interesting But Over-Long and Single-Sided Examination of the So-Called "Magdalen papyrus", 10 August 2014
7/10

A relatively interesting documentary which explores the recent provenance and later historical analysis of New Testament fragments dating from Antiquity, now referred to as the "Magdalen papyrus", because they contain fragments of the story about Mary Magdalen. The film focuses on recent revelations about New Testament manuscript fragments which had been housed in Oxford for over a century. Charles Huleatt, a somewhat forgotten Anglican priest, purchased the manuscript fragments in Cairo, circa 1900. When pictures of the fragments were sent to other scholars in the early 20th century, the general consensus at that time was the fragments probably dated to the 4th or 5th centuries CE and therefore were nothing that special apart from being very old. They were certainly interesting, but nothing which might challenge or change current historical research and sensibility. Part of the point of the documentary is to right an historical wrong.

The documentary suffers from two major shortcomings. On the first front, the claims and conclusions made by the documentary seem not only tenuous at best but mostly one-sided. The film appears to be more than just an exploration of the fragments but also determined to prove these particular fragments date nearly to the time of Jesus. The other issue is the documentary takes far too long to get to the crux of the matter.

The fragments in question, three small pieces of written papyrus less than the size of a credit card each appear to be from the Gospel of Matthew. The documentary claims that if these fragments prove to date from before circa 50 CE, then they could make a case the Gospel of Matthew was in fact written by an eye-witness of Jesus rather than later writers who probably lived a few generations after Jesus' death. They make the further claim if these fragments date from when they hope they do, therefore nearly all Gospels could have been written by eyewitnesses, particularly since most scholars believe the Gospel of Mark was the basis for Matthew and later Luke.

Most current Biblical scholars assert the Gospel Writers were not in fact eyewitnesses to Jesus but lived and wrote much later. This is based on long intensive and extensive research based on very scant primary source evidence. While I don't have a problem with the documentary, proposing the possibility the fragments were written in the middle of the 1st century CE, the overall rhetoric seems bent on making this conclusion the final interpretation of the fragments.

The narrator often uses phrases like "therefore the date of the manuscript must be..." or "it is difficult not to conclude..." The conclusions that the fragments are highly likely to be from the middle of the 1st century are based solely on the analysis of a single scholar, a German New Testament historian Carsten Peter Thiede. Thiede concluded the handwriting styles were similar to those of the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Khirbet Qumran near the Dead Sea, and therefore must be from the same time. This seems like water under the bridge because the handwriting of ancient papyrus seems very consistent from the time of Jesus all the way to circa 200 CE. The documentary shows similar characteristics between the fragments and the Dead Sea Scrolls, but the handwriting style appeared quite different between the two, and this is coming from someone who is not a professional scholar. The Dead Sea Scroll letters were pushed together much more tightly, while there seemed to be much greater spaces between the letters of the fragments in question.

I got the feeling Thiede desperately wanted the fragments to be from the middle of the first century to take credit for not only revealing the oldest known fragments of the New Testament but proving that the writer Matthew and therefore other Gospel writers were actual eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus of Nazareth. According to some brief research I engaged in after viewing the film, the consensus among scholars today is that the fragment dates probably closer to the middle of the 2nd century CE, circa 135-175 CE, about 100 years after Thiede's claim. Simultaneously, this is no question one of the oldest New Testament fragments known to exist, which is still a remarkable discovery by any standard.

The other difficulty with the documentary is its length. Over half the documentary is spent retracing the steps of a somewhat forgotten Anglican priest, Charles Huleatt and his residency in Egypt as an Anglican priest and Evangelical. The documentary clocks in at 90 minutes, with 45 to 50 minutes devoted to retracing the journey of the Anglican priest from Britain to Cairo who bought the fragments from an antiquities dealer over 100 years ago. I wanted to get to the matter of the manuscripts themselves a little bit sooner than the documentary allowed. I found I was less interested in knowing so much about Huleatt and the culture of Cairo circa 1900. For example, the kinds of outdoor vendors who sell tourist items, often replicas of Ancient Egyptian art, were giving much screen time.

Overall still an interesting documentary about a subject with which I was unfamiliar. Since scholarship has failed to prove with relative conclusiveness these fragments actually date from near the time of Jesus, they haven't altered current Christian scholarship. They are more of an interesting curiosity than a ground-breaking discovery. By contrast, the ancient codices found at Nag Hammadi proved to be previously unknown Christian texts (deemed heretical) and did fundamentally alter Christian scholarship. Previously, it was assumed Christianity developed through a more or less traceable linear history. The so-called Nag Hammadi Library proved Christianity was far more diverse with many more off-shoot groups than previously known. While the "Magdalen papyrus" is certainly a note-worthy discovery, it does not appear poised to radically alter New Testament scholarship.

Underrated Indie Film Dramatizing the Eve of the Financial Collapse of 2008, 3 August 2014
10/10

New York, a nameless financial firm, circa Fall of 2008. A woman in a business suit is hunting for someone in the offices of one of New York's high-rise office buildings. She's obviously a stranger since the other workers don't seem to recognize her, and she doesn't know what the person she seeks looks like. Finally, she finds him and asks him to accompany her into a private conference room. In the conference room she lowers the boom: the firm is letting him go. She's part of a hired agency who visits firms to lay off and/or fire workers instead of the firm having to do the dirty work themselves. They act as a cushion between the firm and the poor schmuck who's getting the ax.

During the meeting, he tells the representative that he's currently working on an important project, but the agent offers a generic reply that whatever he's working is no longer his concern, and the firm will take care of it. Of course, it's obvious she has no idea what she's talking about because she's from an outside firm simply engaged to lower the ax on unsuspecting office works. She really has nothing to do with the intricacies of the firm itself. After he's cleaned out his desk, he gives a flash-drive to one of his underlings who's still with the firm and says "Just be careful." Later Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), a traders manager, holds a meeting and breaks the news that 80% of the firm had been let go, but those who remain were the most successful, the survivors. At first everything is upbeat despite the lay-offs. This is the beginning of one of the best films of its type about the cut-throat world of financial firms on Wall Street, "Margin Call".

The man they let go, Eric Dale, was some kind of senior risk-management adviser, and he was working on the profit-income-risk of the company and realizing something was terribly wrong. He had given the flash-drive to one of the lower level risk-management advisers, Peter Sullivan, who looks through the data on the flash-drive and fills in the missing pieces. The firm is in huge financial trouble. He calls his co-worker Seth at a nearby bar/strip club, who informs his boss, Will Emerson (Paul Bettany, the Albino of the Da Vinci Code)that they need to return to the firm and see the data, even though by now it's 11:00pm. (We learn later that Emerson spends just under $70,000 a year on booze and broads.) And they need Eric Dale to return to the offices, even though they not only just fired him but they disconnected his company cell phone. Sullivan shows Rogers and Emerson the data, which demonstrates the company is more heavily in debt than its entire worth. In other words, the company owes more than what the company could be sold for on the open market.

Eventually, Chief Risk-Management Officer Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore) and Simon Baker (Jared Cohen), one of the top executives, are brought together with Rogers, Emerson, Sullivan, and Seth into a meeting on one of the top floors of the executive suites to discuss the nature of the problem. By 3:00am in the morning, the CEO of the entire firm flies in by helicopter. What is the nature of the problem and what is the short-term solution? Apparently, these after-midnight meetings were occurring at many New York financial firms on the eve of the crisis.

An outstanding completely character/drama-driven film. The cast is first rate. No real big "stars" but a cast of heavy hitters in acting. And a first-rate script, one of the best since David Mamet's "Glen Garry Glen Ross". While not an escapist film, the story demonstrates an insider's view of what was going on during the eve of the financial crisis.

Pawnography Essentially Ben Stein's Money with an Insufferable Host: Should be Called "Win Rick Harrison's Stuff", 31 July 2014
4/10

In the late 1990's to early 2000's, Comedy Central broadcast a game show called "Win Ben Stein's Money". Ben Stein was a rather obnoxious and opinionated right-winger who produced and co-hosted the show with Jimmy Kimmel who now has his own late-night show on ABC. "Pawnography", a spin-off show from History's "Pawn Stars" is essentially the same format as "Win Ben Stein's Money". Instead the prize isn't money but collectible "stuff". And the host is a bit different, but we'll get to that.

The premise of Ben Stein's original show was simple enough. Stein would put $5000 in the "bank", and the first round consisted of three contestants answering Jeopardy-like questions in "funny categories" with dollar values which would extract money from "the bank". Contestants won money which was always being propagated as being Stein's, even though it was really the money of the show. (Stein made millions from the show, so whatever money was supposedly lost during his show were negligible overall.) After the first round, the last place contestant (the one with the least amount of dough) had to leave, his or her money would return to the bank, and Ben Stein would become the third participant. Although Stein couldn't actually win, he could prevent the other contestants from obtaining "his money" by answering correct questions.

In the final round, the contestant with the most "cash" had to beat Stein directly by going head-to-head with the host/producer in order to win an additional $5000. Stein and the contestant each try and answer correctly as many of 10 questions as possible in 60 seconds. The higher number of right answers was the winner. Each contestant would be in a booth. The contestant's booth looked like a one-room brown-stone while Stein's booth looked like the sitting room of a posh château. If the contestant beat Stein, he would win an extra $5000. If not, the contestant would receive the money he had won during the other rounds plus maybe "Win Ben Stein's Money" the board game. During each airing Stein would repeatedly say things like "These contestants are trying to take MY money!"

Now fast-forward 10 years. With the success of "Pawn Stars", the History Channel has decided to resurrect "Win Ben Stein's Money" with a bit of a twist. Instead of cash, contestants are trying to win collectibles at the Pawn Shop. Each round has up for grabs a collectible item plus the virtual "cash" earnings won by answering correct questions. The first round involves two contestants, and Corey and Chumlee acting as a third contestant. In the second round, Rick Harrison becomes the third contestant. They answer similar questions as in "Stein's Money" but there are no set categories. If the Pawn Stars team ever wins the round, the item up for grabs is lost. If a contestant wins the round, they "sort of" win the item, but not entirely. After the second round, the contestant with the highest "cash" winnings must play all three Pawn Stars in the same head-to-head as "Stein's Money". Another item is now up for grabs, but the contestant must beat the Pawn Stars to win the other item(s) of the other rounds, plus the cash. (If the Pawn Star contestants came out ahead in the previous rounds, only the item of the 3rd round can be won plus the cash.) If the contestant loses the head-to-head round, he or she wins nothing. However there is one final "round" after the questions. Before revealing how the outcome of the head-to-head round, the contestant and Rick Harrison can negotiate for a money "deal" in lieu of the contestant taking away the cash and the prize(s).

In the original show, Ben Stein was a somewhat over-bearing conservative who, strangely, had charm, personality, and a good sense of humor. Despite his politics might drive liberals into setting fire to effigies of Barry Goldwater, Stein had enough of a spark in his eye to make the show at least modestly entertaining. And you always laughed when he griped about losing "his money". And contestants at least kept the money they won during the other rounds.

However, in "Pawnography" the contestant gains no prizes unless they beat the Pawn Stars in the last round, which I think is a total sham. And, Christopher Titus, the current host of "Pawnography", is an over-bearing humorless and down-right insufferable jerk. He has the dis-respectfulness of a John McEnroe and the crassness of a Howard Stern, cubed. Titus has the kind of personality which makes King Kong look like an honorable gentleman. His cutting little comments are about as funny as Joseph McCarthy during his hearings in the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security in the early 1950's. Whether Titus is liberal or conservative, I don't care. I might have rated the show about a 7, but with Titus, it rates 3 points lower. Only Titus could make Stein seem like a courteous gentleman. Maybe the reason they got Titus is he makes the other Pawn Stars, Harrison, Corey and Chumlee, seem much more socially courteous and respectful. As long as Titus is hosting, I probably won't be able to suffer the insufferable.

Godzilla (1954)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Japanese Original of Godzilla Stomps the Americanized-Burr Version to Smithereens, 20 July 2014
9/10

After having watched the original Japanese version of Godzilla, a.k.a. "Gojira", for the first time (strangely never officially released in the US with English subtitles for over 50 years) and then watching a bit of the American studio version (aka "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" with Raymond Burr), I could only come to one minor conclusion. The original Japanese version destroys the American one. Stomps on it, breathes radioactive fire on it, and obliterates it with extreme prejudice. After this viewing, the American version is laid waste, just as Godzilla lays waste to urban Japan.

The original Japanese Godzilla is in fact a cautionary tale concerning the proliferation of nuclear arms research and testing. However, the American version, which I enjoyed as a kid, purposefully left out more than the cautionary tale about the dangers of the Nuclear Age. It also cut references to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which ended the War in the Pacific, bringing a sudden and sobering end to World War II. The war was only 9 years in the past when Godzilla (aka Gojira) was released in Japan in 1954, and only two years after the end of American occupation in Japan.

However, the shortcomings of the American version doesn't end with Godzilla losing much of its political and social undertones. It loses much of its teeth as compared with the Japanese version. In the original, similar to Hollywood's "King Kong", the film employs a much more extended arc before the terrible face of Godzilla is finally revealed. Even before the monster's head is shown, we see giant legs stomping a village on an island. Much like "King Kong" in 1933 and later "Jaws" in 1975, the monster in the Japanese version reeks havoc on unsuspecting and innocent victims long before the audience actually sees the thing itself. There is much less build-up in the American version. (In Spielberg's "Jaws", the director had insisted the shark shouldn't be shown until nearly half-way into the film.)

The other aspects of the Japanese original missing from the American version concern the extended political debates. The characters are dealing with moral dilemmas which are even greater than the monster itself. The story involves, at first, the destruction of fishing boats and fisherman off the coast of Japan. Eventually the large reptilian creature, a cross between a t-rex and stegosaurus with the destructive and malevolent demeanor of Adolph Hitler is finally revealed crushing and annihilating everything in site. Four characters emerge who become the focus of the film: Hideto Ogata, a kind of coast guard/naval officer, his girlfriend, Emiko, Emiko's father, Professor Tanabe, and Dr. Serizawa, a reclusive scientist and inventor.

Professor Tanabe and the young Ogata clash, because the older scientist wishes to study Godzilla while Ogata believes it needs to be destroyed before it destroys Japan and possibly the rest of the world. The young lovers have a mutual friend, Serizawa, who sports a patch over his eye which was lost during World War II. The scientist has a secret which he reveals to Emiko but insists she swears she will never reveal it. Eventually, Ogata learns of the secret, but the secret itself presents a moral dilemma which fits in with the rhetoric of the rest of the film.

A brilliant film, which is as much a cautionary tale as a monster movie. The political overtones which permeate as much as Godzilla's destructive power play a large part in what the original version is really about but sadly lacking from the Americanized version. The large hulking creature which demolishes civilization may represent the potential horrors of the nuclear age as it does simply as a roller-coaster scary monster. Unlike American monster films, in which the monsters are very separate and deserve destruction, Godzilla appears to be something not from without but from within. The real horror of the original is that Godzilla may have been created by the human race, albeit inadvertently.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An Outstanding Film About One of the Most Troubling Murder Cases of the Late 20th Century -- Unjustly Snubbed By Critics, 7 July 2014
9/10

In 1996, HBO produced a documentary, "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills", about the much-publicized murder case of three pre-teen boys, Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers, who were murdered in the wooded creeks called Robin Hood Hills near West Memphis, Arkansas. The local authorities were convinced the murders were enacted by three older male teens, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., and Jason Baldwin. According to the present film and the HBO documentaries, the local authorities targeted the older teens as suspects in a kind of modern-day witch-hunt because of their interest in the occult, horror films, and Heavy Metal music. Echols was often seen wearing black clothing, an affront to the predominant Christian community of West Memphis. He later admitted to reading about Aleister Crowley but asserted he had never read any of Crowley's actual writings.

The case against the three teens hinged primarily on the notion that the murders were committed as a kind of sacrifice in a satanic ritual. Also, dubious testimony, particularly that of Vicki Hutcheson and her son Aaron, was later recanted. Hutcheson claimed initially that she had seen the three teens involved in Satanic rituals and that Damien Eckles had bragged about committing the murders at the event. She later said she had been coerced by police to offer false evidence, fearing authorities might take away her son. Her son Aaron in a video-taped interview said he had seen the actual murders, but then later when he was older withdrew his testimony claiming he knew nothing about the crimes. Other evidence, such as the possible involvement of an African-American who ended up in the ladies' room and smeared blood on the walls at Bojangles Restaurant the night of the murders was never adequately followed up on. No actual physical evidence linked the boys with the murders. Their prosecution was mainly based on circumstantial evidence concerning their interest in the occult.

Twenty years after the convictions of the so-called "West Memphis Three" and 17 years after the HBO Documentary "Paradise Lost", the film "the Devil's Knot" based on the book of the same name was released, starring Colin Firth as Ron Lax, a private investigator who became interested in the case, and Reese Witherspoon as Pamela Hobbs, the mother of victim Stevie Branch. First off, the film is beautifully shot. The lush swampy areas portraying the Robin Hood Hills appear almost like photos you might see in a postcard. The night shots are particularly beautiful, although simultaneously horrific as the setting for the brutal murders.

Critics claimed the film didn't add anything new to the understanding of the case, but I don't believe this was the filmmakers' intentions. The point of the film I believe was simply to tell the story in a dramatic/narrative format rather than a documentary. (HBO produced three documentaries in all about the case and probably assisted in the revelation about the poor police investigation, the witch-hunt sensibilities towards members of their community interested in the occult, and the dubious testimonies which led eventually to the release of the West Memphis Three.) Apart from whether or not audiences will believe the West Memphis Three are guilty or innocent, much of the film is about the complexity of such cases. Unless a defendant truthfully confesses to a crime, many questions and strange circumstances surround most cases. In many instances, the whole truth may be nearly unobtainable, such as questions which still surround the JFK Assassination.

An excellent and underrated film. The main reasons "The Devil's Knot" works as well as it does is because of the fine acting, particularly Witherspoon, Firth, and an honorable mention to James Hamrick as Damien Echols, the wonderful direction, and also because of the film's point of view. The film shows both sides of the case. The local authorities were pressured by the community to find the three teens guilty since a rift between conservative Christians and those interested in the occult was growing wider. In the film, one character states that those interested in the occult were bound to become enmeshed in a crime case sooner or later. Of course, the most informative details can be found in the three HBO documentaries, "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills" (1996), "Paradise Lost 2: Revelations" (2000), and "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" (2011).

Good Talent and Premise Wasted on Poor Screenplay -- Instead of a 1990's "Hot Rock" we get Warner Bros Cartoons, 28 June 2014
5/10

It isn't enough to come up with a good premise in terms of a storyline for a film script. The script has to realize its potential. Unfortunately the talents of Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello weren't enough to save this disjointed and largely un-entertaining excuse for a movie. What makes "Hudson Hawk" so frustrating is that the initial premise is actually a good one which had a lot of potential. While I understand the filmmakers probably wanted to make a movie which was a kind of comedy-caper, much like similar films of the 1960's, they made so many over-the-top efforts to "to be funny" that "Hawk" is nearly unwatchable in some scenes.

Usually heist films and other similar fair where the baddies are essentially the main characters have a lot of comedy which can evolve out of the situations rather than being forced. "The Hot Rock" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" are cases in point. I wish the screenwriters of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and/or "The Hot Rock" had been the ones to write this screenplay, or at least they should have offered advice to the writers of "Hawk". In "Butch and Sundance", some of the funniest moments are when the two outlaws are arguing with each other about what to do next and how to handle the situation. Never do we feel like the jokes are forced upon the characters. That's what I felt with "Hawk", that the humor was forced by the hand of the screenwriters rather than coming from the characters' mouths naturally.

The premise is simple but could have been affective if handled better. A cat burglar is let out of prison and takes on some "jobs" to lift some of Leonardo da Vinci's artwork. Unfortunately, as a kind of introduction, we meet da Vinci and his world and it looks like a bad scene from Mel Brooks' "History of the World Part 5". From here on out we know the film is not only going to be over-the-top in the humour department, but it's never going to take itself seriously enough for there to be any real meat to the story. It's over the top humour for humour's sake, and I felt I really didn't care about anything the characters were doing, unlike "Butch and Sundance" where at every moment I was riveted by their actions.

Even films like the first Superman film with Christopher Reeve had a lot of humour but ultimately took itself seriously enough that we cared what happened to its characters. Hawk could have been a really good film if the writing had been better, the characters less cardboard, and the humour less cheap. Instead, the filmmakers made a film not unlike many of the Warner Bros. cartoons of the 1940's and 50's. The action is over the top, the acting is over the top, and the lines were just downright ridiculous at times. And yet at other times, the plot seemed a bit more serious, as if the film didn't quite know what it wanted to be. Great potential wasted.

Quirky and Refreshing English Comedy -- Sort of Marriage of Figaro meets Three's Company, 27 June 2014
8/10

The setting is in a fictional English village, Grantleigh, residing inside the fictional town of Marlbury in Somerset, England. The locals in this quaint countryside are a bit quirky. In the first scene, Richard DeVere (Peter Bowles), a stranger to the town and among the "nouveau riche", meets the town Vicar at the local parish church to ask for directions and where he might meet Mr Forbes-Hamilton. To which the Vicar replies, that Mr Forbes-Hamilton "will be here at any moment now (but) I doubt you'll get much out of him." And then Mr DeVere sees some pall-bearers carrying a casket. From the get-go, this is the kind of irreverent yet refreshing humour which permeates the entire show.

Mr DeVere is looking for some real estate to buy in the area and learns that the manor house is owned by the late Mr Forbes-Hamilton and his opinionated and talkative wife, Audrey. Audrey Forbes-Hamilton (Penelope Keith) is a fast-talking aristocrat who would tell a perfect stranger he looks retched because he bought his clothes at the British-equivalent of Sears. Her family, the Forbes-Hamilton's, have lived in the manor house in the English countryside since the time of Queen Elizabeth I. After laying her husband to rest, she tells the vicar that it was a "lovely funeral, we must have another one sometime." Now she has to sell the manor because of debts. And who should buy the manor but Ricard DeVeer, the new stranger who is not only wealthy and non-aristocrat but was "dressed like a chessboard" according to Audrey at the funeral reception. He then makes an unexpected offer: Audrey may continue to reside at the manor if she wishes, and she accepts the offer, beginning one of the more entertaining sitcom's of its type. DeVeer and Mrs. Forbes-Hamilton become sort of reluctant bedfellows in a kind of clash of the classes, in this case old aristocracy versus bourgeoisie.

A delightful British comedy in which the many lines are simultaneously unexpected and yet fit each character's personality. Peter Bowles plays "straight-man" to the quirky characters of the town. But it's the sharp-tongued Penelope Keith as Audrey Forbes-Hamilton who steals the show. Keith is perfectly cast as Audrey whose biting rhetoric would give any politician significant cause to run and hide under a nearby bed. Not to be missed if you like British comedy of this sort.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Throughly Engaging Suspense/Serial Killer Thriller with Cusak in an Outstanding Performance, 16 June 2014
8/10

"The Frozen Ground" is loosely based on the Robert Hansen abductions and murders in Anchorage, Alaska. In the 1970's and early 1980's, young women in their late teens and twenties were mysteriously disappearing in the urban area of Anchorage, Alaska. Since many people go missing in the United States, law enforcement thought these were simply unsolved and unrelated cases. However, when Cindy Paulson, a local prostitute, was found handcuffed and bloody in a motel in Anchorage, local authorities wanted to hear more about this case. She claimed she had been abducted by a strange man who had promised money for oral sex. He had handcuffed her and sexually molested, raped and tortured her. Luckily she escaped when he tried to force her into a monoplane, and she made it to a motel back in Anchorage. However, local authorities don't believe her because she's a prostitute and she continually lies about her age. The man she accuses of these crimes against her is a relatively upstanding citizen.

Detective Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) reluctantly takes the case and speculates whether some of these disappearances could be related to Paulson's case. Is it possible this man could be responsible for the disappearances of the many young women for the last ten years? A few other bodies are then discovered around the mostly frozen areas outside the Anchorage urban center. Halcombe broadens his investigation inquiring into the seedier areas of Anchorage, mostly where strippers, erotic dancers and prostitutes apply their trades. At the same time, Halcombe wants Paulson to testify against her abductor if he's caught, but Paulson is reluctant to get involved.

Robert ("Bob") Hansen (John Cusak in an exemplary performance) seems like a quiet upstanding citizen of Anchorage who likes to engage in animal hunting. In the film he runs some kind of restaurant or bakery where he manages the baking of bread and cakes. He is also an excellent marksman, and he displays the heads of many animals as trophies in his house. The real Hansen apparently set several local hunting records. However, we see Hansen's "other side" as he abducts another woman, Debbie Peters, and has her chained to a pole on the floor in his house. A friendly neighbor stops by to offer Hansen leftovers, and he politely declines. He had threatened Peters not to scream when his neighbor dropped in.

Meanwhile, a kind of subplot is the story of Cindy Paulson and how she begins working as an erotic/exotic dancer at a strip club. Eventually, the two other stories collide with the third: the investigation of the missing women, the further abductions by Hansen, and Paulson's life as an erotic dancer. We also learn that Paulson had an African-American pimp who is upset about her exotic dancing.

Overall, a very compelling and well-written film. The stand-out has to be Cusak who plays a kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When he's Hansen, the well-meaning recluse and amateur hunter, he seems like a reasonable person. However, as Hansen the abductor, we learn that his hunting hobby has a much more sinister side. One of the better films of its type and dedicated to the many women who were Hansen's victims in real life. The film actually uses pictures from the real photos of the many women whose lives were cut short by Hansen.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Cruise in One of His Better SF/Thriller Role: The Title Hints at Main Character's Primary Dilemma, 15 June 2014
8/10

Of Cruise's several recent science fiction roles, including "Minority Report", "War of the Worlds" and "Jack Reacher", "Edge of Tomorrow" ranks as one of his better offerings. Even some of the later Mission:Impossible installments are not as strong as this latest action-SF thriller. The one issue with this film is that if I describe the main plot line, all future viewers' cinematic experiences will be spoiled beyond repair. I will offer only some basic premises and refrain with giving away the main plot twist which occurs early in the film.

Tom Cruise plays Lieutenant Cage, a former ROTC student at University who ends up producing advertisements for the US military. Extra-terrestrial baddies, sort of a cross between "Predator" and "Alien" with the speed of the parasitic "Alien" creatures who impregnate unsuspecting human beings, have infiltrated the world and threaten to exterminate all human existence. We learn from the get-go that humankind and "baddiekind" have already engaged in several confrontations. Cage has gone on a television campaign to recruit the best and the brightest to fight the baddies.

Cage is then summoned to Europe and learns from a gung-ho Scottish/British commanding officer, General Brigham, that the latest military operation is to throw everything the international military has at the beasties on the western front of France, sort of an SF reenactment of D-Day near the beaches of Normandy. The General wants Cage to command the mission. Cage declines siting as his excuse that he's only an officer in name, but not really a soldier. And besides he's in the US military, and not under British or European jurisdiction. However, he finds he has been put under the general's command and after trying to weasel his way out of military service, Cage is forced to become a low-level combat soldier. He becomes, in a sense, his own recruitment.

Thrust into the middle of regular enlisted men and women who use large body armor suits, similar to the one used by Ripley in "Aliens", Cage engages the battle with other soldiers. The battle turns out to be a route in favor of the alien baddies since they appeared to know every step and every move the humans made during the combat even before they made it. And then towards the end of the battle, a strange circumstance pivots Cage into another reality of sorts, the details of which I will fore-go revealing lest I be banned from writing further reviews on IMDb.com! And this is actually where the story really begins...

A very satisfying cinematic SF experience. The film has an excellent balance between action and a compelling storyline. Cruise is excellent at pulling his viewers with him where he wants to go, provided it's a compelling script, which "Edge of Tomorrow" is. Emily Blunt plays a fellow soldier, far more seasoned in the "ready aim" department than Cruise, and the two achieve good chemistry. I will mention, by the way, Blunt's character's name is Rita. Interestingly, another film, whose main character has a similar dilemma to the one experienced by Cage has a female lead character, also name of Rita. This is essentially the SF equivalent of that other film, which shall remain nameless.


Page 1 of 31:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]