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|560 reviews in total|
Don;t know how I missed HIGHER LEARNING when it first came out. This look at the first year of college at a major university has the ring of truth about it, although perhaps hyped up a bit for dramatic appeal. The primary player in the group is Omar Epps, a student on an athletic scholarship who is trying not to be compartmentalized by everyone. A fellow black student who seems to be living in the 1970s (Ice Cube) sees him as a sellout while one of his professors (Larry Fishburne) is working hard to get him to learn. Michael Rapaport is a loner with a hearing problem who falls in with a gang of skinheads. Kirsty Swanson is a naive miss from the boonies who undergoes a major transformation after being raped by a fellow student. The film is dotted with familiar faces, most if not all of whom have gone on to stardom of one sort or another, including Cole Hauser, Jennifer Connelly and Tyra Banks. Definitely worth a look.
I will admit I have been unhappy with the final season of SCRUBS. The episodes I have seen rarely rose above the mediocre, and used many well-worn gimmicks and plot devices from the previous six seasons. Laughs have been few. Now comes what appears to be the final episode of the series, MY PRINCESS. It starts out ordinarily enough, with the crew trying to save a patient, but takes a turn for the verse when Cox tells his son a bedtime fairy tale that has Janitor playing a 10-foot ogre with a taste for babies, Ted as a hideous hunchback, Turk and Carla as a two-headed something or other, Cox as (what else?) a heroic knight, Kelso as an evil warlock, J.D. as the village idiot and Elliott as a very fetching princess. This fairy tale goes back and forth from Cox's fantastic telling to the actual events in the hospital that parallel Cox's Grimm Brothers version. The laugh meter is on high and the cleverness of the episode helps make up for the debacle of Season 7. If this indeed is the final episode, it is a fitting one. One small plot hole: Kelso apparently is back in charge of the hospital. No explanation. But who cares, really?
Part 2 of a 2-parter to close out Season 3 has Melinda coming to grips with her father and her childhood. In the previous episode, she thought her father Tom Gordon (Martin Donovan) may have shot himself to death, but discovers he has survived. He has been intermittently possessed by a masked ghost who spent time in jail on a murder charge thanks to Tom Gordon when he wass a prosecutor and appears to want revenge on Gordon and family. But nothing in this episode is as it seems, and it takes a very long hour before things get straightened out. Anne Archer is back as Melinda's mom. By the way, the spectre behind the mask in this and the previous episode is Corin Nemec, a former child actor who has popped up on TV and in some "B" flicks in more recent years. Not one of GW's beter episodes, this season ender plays more like a soap opera than a thriller drama. The very end, with everyone marching arm in arm, contains an unexpected gag.
If I recall this episode correctly, Professor Payne asks Melinda to mentor a young lady who is herself being haunted. I think I have that right. Of course, the sinister-looking ghost hovering around the gal turns out to be something other than we think. This show often seems to be about not judging a book by its cover. And while we're at it, let me say a few words about the professor. When Jay Mohr was first introduced to the series, I thought this will be the ruination of the show. I was wrong. Mohr has brought an added touch of comedy and pathos to the series, which could easily have stagnated without his character. He is the polar opposite of Melinda's stony-faced, even-tempered husband. This episode is a strong one for Mohr.
Professor Payne runs into an old girlfriend with some shocking news: she had a child by him years before, and now she's hoping for some financial assistance. Some of you may recognize the actress playing the girlfriend. She is Nikki Cox, who used to be on a TV sitcom that aped MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, called UNHAPPILY EVER AFTER, or something like that. In this episode, she is barely recognizable as the daughter from that show due to a major cosmetic change in her facial appearance. Meanwhile, Melinda frets about whether to have kids or not. We've heard this before, of course. Her decision at the finale may surprise some of you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I never go above an 8, but I sure felt like it for this first of a two-part story that wraps up the show's fourth season. House finds himself suffering from a slight case of amnesia. He's also bleeding from a head wound. Turns out he was drunk and had to take the bus home, but the bus gets hit by a truck. As a wobbily House and his crew tend to the injured, he finds he has a partial memory of something severe having happened during the crash. Under hypnosis, he relives bits and pieces of the crash. He then decides to take more drastic measures, and this is when the suspense kicks into high gear. Along the way, House confesses feelings for Amber, which sort of amuses Wilson. And us. We also get to see Cuddy stripped down to a pair of sheer, French-cut panties, performing a private pole dance for House. Cuddy and House also lock lips. God, I have waited so long for this. Anyhow, the bus crash itself is incredible, filmed in the style of the airplane crash in FEARLESS, one of Jeff Bridges' best films. That, and some tricky photography as House relives the events leading up to the crash, are the highlights of the episode. A must-see, but definitely keep the little ones away. The gore quotient is off the scale.
I missed the very beginning and end of BABEL, but the film I saw made me wonder why it was made at all. Even foreign film fans will be hard-pressed to make sense of this one, or admire it for being a foreign film. Brad Pitt and wife Cate Blanchet go off on the road to Morocco, miss Bing and Bob by a hair, and she gets shot. Instead of putting her back on the tour bus they arrived in, Pitt awaits an ambulance that never comes. A helicopter finally arrives, but before then we get to watch Blanchet use a bedpan. In closeup. Back home, an illegal Mexican nanny takes Pitt's two children along with her to a relative's wedding in Mexico. On the return trip, she loses them in the desert for awhile. Over in Japan, an emotionally disturbed deaf girl who has witnessed -- or may have caused -- her mother's death gets naked in front of the cop interviewing her. I wish I could say she was the Japanese equivalent of Jennifer Love Hewitt, but no such luck. Her only connection to the plot is that her father, who apparently abuses her, sold his gun to the Moroccan who shot Blanchet. Watch MAGNOLIA instead.
An all-star production, CRADLE WILL ROCK chronicles the events leading up to the debut of Mark Blitzstein's "The Cradle Will Rock," a labor-oriented drama with music, written in the turbulent 1930s. It is to be performed at the WPA Federal Theater, but the government gets cold feet at the last minute and closes the theater. So the players take their production to a private theater and perform before an SRO crowd. Oddly enough, the performance turns out to be the least interesting part of the film, done up in a "Let's fix up the old barn and put on a show" routine seen in countless Andy Hardy and Little Rascals films. It is what happens before that is fascinating, as we shift back and forth between New York and Washington and are exposed to the "isms" of this post Depression/pre-WWII time: communism and fascism. One supposes most of what writer/director Tim Robbins portrays here is real enough, but keep in mind Robbins is an avowed leftist and so the film is probably best taken with a large dose of salt. But what a cast: John and Joan Cusack, Susan (Mrs. Tim Robbins) Sarandon, Cary Elwes, John Turturro, Jack Black, Bill Murray, Vanessa Redgrave, Ruben Blades and Hank Azaria. All play real-life figures of the era, including Orson Welles and John Rockefeller. A must-see for art-house film lovers and those interested in the period. All others, beware.
I know I have written about this show in the past, but I cannot find that post. THE SOPRANOS is a comedic take on THE GODFATHER, and clearly inspired by GOOD FELLAS, with mob boss Tony Soprano (Gandolfini) torn between his family problems and gangster lifestyle. It gets so bad, he ends up seeing a shrink (Bracco), who is frightened of yet fascinated with this flinty-eyed serpent of a sociopath. The show is all on the surface. It is no LAW AND ORDER, God knows. Occasional outbursts of violence obviously satisfy the male viewers and keep them coming back for more. For those who come to this for the outright comedy, nothing is as funny as Tony's skewed relationship with his messed-up, slovenly, brassy-mouthed sister (Tuturro). The encounters between the two are comedy gold. And Turturro is bound to remind everyone of you of someone you know. Guaranteed. Watch it for the curiosity factor, if nothing else. Gandolfini is the main attraction. Hell, he could probably interact with mops and brooms and still be fascinating unto himself, the way Fred Astaire used to do.
Kurt Russell gives the performance of his career as Wyatt Earp in 1993's TOMBSTONE, a fairly accurate rendition of the Earp brothers adventures in a booming mining town. It's Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt versus a loose-knit gang of thugs known as The Cowboys for control of Tombstone. Things heat up after a showdown adjacent to the OK Corral, and Wyatt -- now a federal marshal -- creates a special posse including Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer in top form) and a trio of Cowboy deserters to hunt down the remaining Cowboys. Many familiar faces dot the landscape, including Sam Elliott as Virgil Earp, Powers Boothe as Curly Bill, leader of The Cowboys, and Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo, second-in-command of The Cowboys. Russell is given two women to romance in this film, Earp's drug-addicted wife Mattie (Dana Nicholson) and saloon singer Josephine Marcus (Danas Delaney) who has her sights set on Wyatt. A big production with a genuine feel for the mythical cowboy era, although the truth is more likely that the Earps and Holliday were as ruthless a gang as The Cowboys. The only concession to modern times is the Maybelline-style makeup on all the ladies and the contemporary use of the English language.
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