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phillipstephenso

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54 reviews in total 
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Mamma Mia! (2008)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Charming nonsense?, 28 July 2008
10/10

Yes, these are the same old "Swedish-exchange-student-trying-to-rhyme-in-good-English" songs. And yes, the plot is the same, old, and admittedly goofy series of romantic encounters.

But, I would submit that the sentiments of the film and the songs somehow ring true and universal. And, the creaky plot is more believable that those of many Academy Award winners, in my opinion. So, this film ends up being a triumphant paradox, full of good and bad, just like life.

Who cannot empathize with the young girl, about to be married, who does not know who her real father is? Who cannot relate with the young dancing queen, only 17, who "loses control" and has sexual relations with many males in the era of "free love?" But, "free love" had undesirable consequences to the next generation, as we have come to see. And paradoxically, hope remains that true love will triumph, after all these years of pain and maturation, due to the child of one of these unions, who is "slipping through the fingers" of her parents, who hate to see their little girl mature and grow up and be married. This plot thus takes on a deeper meaning than the surface goofiness, flirtations, whimsicality, and goings-on. Goofy waters sometimes run deep? And, this production is more creative than the Broadway show, in many ways. In particular, I enjoyed the creativity of the dance number of the scuba divers on the pier. I confess that I have never seen a troupe of scuba diver dancers dance so brilliantly. And, Meryl Streep continues to amaze with her almost limitless versatility. Also, Pierce Brosnan is properly dramatic in his speaking roles, although some of his singing needs improvement. So, will the handsome and endearing Mr. Brosnan practice a little more and participate in a forthcoming "Mamma Mia Returns?" Please?

Routine sex film, 23 May 2008

Paul assumes ownership of Fred's Nighthawk leather jacket. Johnny and Skip as a couple of merchant marines go out. Then Johnny gets a Nighthawk leather jacket. So now Johnny begins to have sexual adventures. Johnny and Skip explore three positions. This has some classic gay actors who are experienced in all phases of gay life. It's too bad that Scott O'Hara was not available for this film, however. Scott was just beginning his gay film career in 1983 with his first film California Blue at the time. "When the manager of Savages asked me if I'd like to be in a porn flick, Scott said, "Sure, I'd love to." I mean, it wasn't something I'd spent a lot of time thinking about, but who hasn't fantasized about being in a porn video?"

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Unrealistic, 9 February 2008
7/10

This is a good mystery yarn that seems to be plausible on the surface. But, the yarn is chock full of technological holes, which are pretty easy and fun to note. For example, the FBI would never allow the electricity for the Seattle (and Portland) areas to continue running without interruption (or the Internet itself to continue operating normally) during an online execution of an FBI agent on the Internet. The execution is obviously occurring in the Seattle (or Portland) areas. In fact, it is fairly simple to disconnect electric and Internet service to millions of customers, if the FBI is desperate to save the life of an FBI agent.

It is also much easier to trace an ISP address than suggested in the opening sequences. There is no chance that a modern ISP would be unwilling or unable to shut down not only the origin of such an Internet snuff site (and also the mirrored sites). This may have been more difficult ten years ago at the dawn of the Internet, but it is relatively simple to do so in 2008.

Also, an FBI agent (and especially a computer expert) would never been so careless as to allow her daughter to play with her laptop to the point that a Trojan horse virus would infect the laptop. Is it plausible that the FBI uses laptops without firewalls or antivirus programs? In fact, the FBI must be disturbed at all the organizational weakness assumed by this snuff flick, because if this is all the taxpayers are getting with our tax money, the taxpayers need to fire everybody at the FBI and start all over again.

With these reservations, there is a lot of fine acting and camera work in this film. In fact, the appropriate emotions are displayed expertly by all the fine actors and actresses with every line of the script expertly uttered. And, the emotions and motives of the plot seem plausible, even if the plot is not plausible in many of its details.

Hairspray (2007)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Zac Rules, 5 August 2007
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A musical is by definition a celebration of song and dance. This film does both, in this stunning romp of a musical, set in the gritty city of Baltimore in 1962, before integration of the races is completed there.

Zac Efron is the gritty Elvis-like teen idol crush for Nikki Blonsky and one of the stars of her favorite black and white television show. In fact, Nikki and her girlfriend never miss the Corny Collins teen dance show, hosted by handsome James Marsden, similar to Dick Clark's American Bandstand. The Corny Collins show has several peculiarities, however. These include, of course, hairspray as its advertising sponsor, a token "Negro Day," in which the local black population shows off their fascinating dance moves, and a prejudiced and vain former Miss Baltimore producer, hysterically portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer. But, Nikki is obsessed with the dance show, even though she and her mother John Travolta, are "two tons of fun" in the weight department and resemble the dancing hippos of Fantasia, most of the time, as they mimic the moves they see on TV.

So, Nikki goes to detention at her high school and learns how to dance in the "Negro Day" way from the blacks also in detention at her already integrated high school. And, Nikki gets her chance to get on the television show. It goes from there, a regular Elvis story, in which a child of the lower classes makes it big in show business and wins the affection of her love interest.

Along the way, we meet fetching portrayals by Queen Latifah of a local civil rights leader and by Christopher Walken of Nikki's affectionate father. If you love song and dance and vivid portrayals of the early 1960s, with all its growing pains and celebrations, you will not just like, but adore "Hairspray."

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Excellent, 26 July 2007
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

John Krasinski is charming in this film, concerning the pitfalls of lack of communication and insight in himself as a prospective husband before marriage. Chicago is the setting of the young couple John and Mandy Moore, dating and then falling in love and then going through the traditional courting process. And, Robin Williams is the priest chosen for the marriage by Mandy, soon to be John's bride.

Robin is typically antic in the presentation of himself as a priest, who puts the couple through hoops, a process which supposedly enhances communication between the man and the woman. Robin, evidently, has his patented process down to a science, in which the development of marriage communication and even child rearing skills is not to be left to chance and "playing it by ear." Robin even cares enough to bug the couple's shared bedroom to make sure they don't have sex before marriage and to gather hints concerning their communications between each other.

Meanwhile, Mandy becomes excessively fixated on the small details of the wedding. She becomes frustrated by all these small things to the point she is ready to call the whole thing off. This comes to a head during the rehearsal of the wedding. A temporary breakup and the resolution of this crisis is very touching as both Mandy and John become convinced that they want only each other, through communication with friends and family.

John continues to display his lovable combination of guileless awkwardness, big eyes, handsome body, and gorgeous smile. And, Mandy is convincing as a typical young lady, who gains insight during a brief breakup and who wakes up to the reality that she cannot live without John. Finally, Robin is convincing as a hip priest, who barely escapes accusations of voyeurism and being a control freak, by not so gently guiding his clients through a preview of the challenges of married life with his almost boot camp style of counseling for engaged couples. Not every day will be roses in marriage. And, Robin does a good job of enlightening John and Mandy to inevitable problems found in many marriages. Finally, John and Mandy discover the strength of their mutual love to the point that they become life partners, committed to being with each other and destined to not being able to live without each other, overwhelming the suddenly minor disagreements and frustrations they discover along the way with the bright sunshine of their mutual love and admiration.

21 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Manly Love, 17 July 2007
9/10

This film manages to drag out all the stereotypes about gays and gay marriage and to actually present them in an entertaining and even uplifting manner. There is something to be said for frankness, when dealing with the inner (and outer) gayness. So, there are subplots galore involving very horny men of various persuasions and closet gays, who are inspired to come out, based on their perceptions of the openly gay marriage of Adam Sandler and Kevin James.

Adam and Kevin are hilarious as the New York firemen, who decide to undergo gay marriage, in order to gain domestic benefits. Their NYFD captain and the New York Government become suspicious, because of their long history of heterosexuality. So, an investigation commences. But, all the snitching in the world cannot break the bonds of male solidarity and affection in the end, between those firemen, who support each other and even save each other's lives.

Along the way, Adam and Kevin find out that they deeply care for each other (as friends) and that gays are real human beings, too, who deserve courtesy and respect, instead of casual loathing and fear. Even Adam opens his eyes to the tremendous hurt visited upon gays, in regard to name-calling and contempt heaped upon them. So, Adam determines that he is not going to use the hurtful words about gays any more. Just as the NAACP buried the N word, Adam buries the F word.

The film features tremendously beautiful choreography, cinematography, costumes, and music. And, one scene features the beautiful voice of Lance Bass, the out and about former member of 'Nsync.

The humor and gags, as in just about all movies featuring Adam Sandler, just "keep on coming." And at the end of the movie, the audience at my preview show could not refrain from rotating palms onto palms and applauding this tremendous romp of a movie, which simultaneously entertains and inspires.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
More, 21 June 2007
9/10

The hits keep on coming. The story of the group of handsome and charming males, who want to relieve a casino of its treasures, is irresistible to the big stars in this film. The setup allows them plenty of room to show off their various talents. So, a relaxed and compatible group of all-star actors are gathered together again, like moths drawn to a light, as in the two preceding Danny Ocean films.

The setting of Las Vegas is also irresistible, with beautiful date palm trees lining the streets, its constant solicitude of the comfort and entertainment of its many guests, its beautiful neon lights and fountains and unique architecture, and its fascinating casinos, of course. Living close to Tunica, Mississippi, with plenty of casinos of its own, I was amused to hear the lines uttered by Al Pacino, "Tunica. Isn't that where games go to die?" And, surely Tunica will never approach the brilliance of Las Vegas, which is shown off to its best advantage in this film.

Al Pacino adds much to this final film of the trilogy. Pacino knows how to assume the style of a successful and rich hotel-casino owner, without betraying boredom, impatience, or hostility. A hotel-casino owner should be the perfect host, especially during the opening day of the hotel-casino. And, Pacino is the perfect, if somewhat paranoid, host as Pacino puts on the skin of his character in a convincing manner. Also, Andy Garcia is a pleasure as the competing hotel-casino owner and co-conspirator with Danny Ocean.

The film again features computer wizardry and cunning technical gadgetry along with the quick wits and physical dexterity necessary to bring such a difficult heist off, as in the previous two films of the trilogy. This film, like Las Vegas itself, has so many attractions that it is hard to not overlook some brilliant moments in this fascinating film. The film is like the diamond necklaces, featured in the film. Every changing facet of the diamonds gives the viewer a new pleasure and delightful view.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Avast, 14 June 2007
9/10

If you like romance, fantasy, and whimsical dialog, you will love this film. The setting ranges from Singapore to the ends of the earth and beyond. The actors include pirates from every conceivable sea-faring country in the world and every accent from London Cockney to Valley Girl California.

Orlando Bloom, whether dead or alive, stirs the female heart to romance, even as cannonballs fly by enraptured faces amid pirate mayhem. Meanwhile, Johnny Depp rises from the dead to lead the Black Pearl to new miracles of bravery in the face of overwhelming forces, whether the English Navy out to stretch Johnny's neck or rival pirates, who want to merely eliminate the business competition.

This is the latest of the trilogy of films called Pirates of the Caribbean, and it sustains all the energy of its predecessors in its battle scenes and with the originality of the dialog. In addition, the score for this film features splendidly performed and stirring orchestral music.

Of course, the plot is murky, much like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with lots of fantastical creatures and situations. So, this film might be even better at the second viewing, as somewhat puzzling dialog and motifs begin to resolve.

Ahoy and smartly there, me hearties, mates, and sea dogs. Don't miss boarding for this pirate voyage, and learn something at each new turn of the helm wheel at your favorite theater.

Knocked Up (2007)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Charming, 11 June 2007
9/10

This movie reminds me of my own youth, when I experimented with marijuana and other drugs, and when I lived in an apartment with other irresponsible young males, living week to week, from slender paycheck to slender paycheck. And, then I found a woman, who had a real job and was not content to live on cheap thrills and silly male self-indulgence.

This is the lifestyle, also, of Seth Rogen in this film, when he encounters Katherine Heigl as a young woman, who is celebrating a new job at a bar. Seth, even though he is overweight and not exactly mature, comes on to her. They wind up in bed. Eight weeks later, she calls him with the news that she is pregnant.

Suddenly, Seth has to grow up fast and lose the marijuana habit, so that he can support his woman and his fast-arriving little baby. Like Sleeping Beauty, Seth's maturation, as a potential husband and father, suddenly has to quicken from its long slumber. And, Seth is as amazed as the viewers are, when all these mature feelings suddenly spring to life, like a flower that reaches its time to bloom.

Another touching part of this film is the realistic depiction of pregnancy and childbirth. So soon after another pregnancy film, Waitress, this film focuses, this time, more on the male side of the mating dance, just in time for Father's Day. Don't miss this film, which celebrates fatherhood.

Waitress (2007)
4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Life, 7 May 2007
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Life begins and ends in this fine production, which also celebrates motherhood, just in time for this year's celebration of Mother's Day. Keri Russell is the expectant mother, who is no longer in love with her husband, Jeremy Sisto. She remembers him getting her drunk one night, as the origin of her being knocked up. Meanwhile, she works as waitress and the "pie genius" at a pie restaurant, that serves untold numbers of different and unusual sorts of pies. In fact, she is constantly day-dreaming of different recipes for pies.

Her waitress friends are also two engaging and well-developed characters, who have problems of their own, but no pregnancy. The owner of the restaurant is Andy Griffith, who is marvelous as a grumpy but ultimately golden-hearted daily customer and confidant of Keri. Finally, Nathan Fillion is the doctor, who supervises the progress of Keri's pregnancy, with unexpected results.

Without giving away too many more of the further twists and turns of the plot, this is a charming ensemble of actors and actresses, who depict expertly the common personalities found often in small-town America, something similar to Andy Griffith's Mayberry, in fact.

But, the film's focus on a pregnant woman is touching and realistic. In fact, few films do such a good job of capturing the ambivalence and serious issues of love, life, vulnerability, violence, and death faced by a pregnant woman like this one.


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