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26 reviews in total 
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5 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Silly Clooney parody fails to move audience, 9 November 2009

"Stupid" was the first word out of everyone's mouth as soon as we cleared the theater. Three out of four of us thought it was a waste of time. One fell asleep. I thought it was interesting and entertaining. Despite the notable cast, with good performances, of George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey, this is another silly Clooney parody, this time of New Age and creaking Sixties philosophy. It mocks Buddhist legends, paranormal experiences and physic healing.

Unlike the Coen brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, this flick has neither the superb music soundtrack, which made that 2000 movie such a hit, or a plot as compelling as Homer's epic "Odyssey."

Director Grant Heslov is probably best known as The Rock's goofy sidekick in The Scorpion King. He and the two unknown writers should keep their day jobs.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The Ugly Truth about Julie & Julia, 30 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Ugly Truth about Julie & Julia The Ugly Truth, as Gerald Butler tells us in the movie of the same name is that nobody wants to f**k a woman who dresses for comfort and efficiency. This caveman wisdom, and other harsh realities of the dating scene, are the core of this enjoyable chick flick.

The obvious plot revolves around a gorgeous Katherine Heigl, who for some strange reason, is not gunning for the most handsome successful man she can land, except for her face in the lap (literally) of the sexy and hunky surgeon next door. Instead, she is intrigued and tormented by Butler's sophomoric Man Show TV personality. They inevitably get together in the end, but along the way, he manages to educate a smart, sexy and successful TV producer (Heigl) of his wisdom and foresight in all things related to man and women and dating. As if.

As if girls at age three don't already know that their looks are important. As if girls at thirteen don't already know that boys are excited more about having sex with them than they are about them. As if a smart, sexy and successful blonde would have any trouble getting the hunky surgeon next door interested in her.

With over 30 movies already to her credit, most notably Judd Apatow's Knocked Up with Seth Rogan, actress Heigl seems poised to capture the American "sweetheart next-door" void so aptly filled by Meg Ryan and Sally Fields.

Scruffy Scot Butler (P.S. I Love You) also seems poised for larger roles, though the pair never generate the heat of classic on-screen pairings such as Tom Hanks and Ryan, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.

Nowhere in this movie is the implicit sexual tension that roiled the black and white classics. We don't have passionate couples held apart by thin bed sheets. We don't have headstrong women swimming, perhaps naked, in the middle of the night with men. Instead, we are left with the pithy lines that count as humor these days: Heigl: My cat stepped on the remote. Butler: Well, be sure to thank your pussy for me.

This movie is a mindless, but entertaining, dumbing down of what women need to do to catch and hold man's basic desires.

In stark contrast to The Ugly Truth are the roles portrayed by both sexes in Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia. Ephron writes romantic comedies, such as You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and When Harry Met Sally.

In yet another awesome performance by the incredible Meryl Streep (and Amy Adams, both in the wonderful Doubt), we see not just how intelligent, charming and beguiling real, full grown, adult women can be, but also how strong, sensitive, and supportive their real life husbands are. The movie builds from the real life insights of Julie Powell (

The Ugly Truth shows that to catch a guy's fancy, women need to be sharp, sexy and a bit coy. Julie & Julia shows that to have an honest-to-god real relationship with an honest-to-god real man, women need to be kind, intelligent, thoughtful, honest and open.

Don't have a relationship yet? Then by all means, go see The Ugly Truth. It is a funny, entertaining date flick. Already got a relationship? One where somebody does the cooking, or has ambitions? Then go see Julie & Julia. The first is a fantasy where gorgeous blonds can't get the attention of hunky doctors. The second is two true stories welded together with honesty, compassion, influences of the outside world and true honest-to-god commitments.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Just too much., 30 August 2009

I saw Stars Wars V (the second episode) and so did not expect much from this movie. The computer animation is very good these days (I really like Jurassic Park III), but this movie left me cold, mad and feeling ripped off. I thought George Lucas was aiming for a much younger audience, setting them up for the next one and the next one after that. It was a kid's movie, much like Lord of the Rings. This one is also just too much. Too many characters, with too little depth. Too many scenes with so little meaning. Too many words with so little dialogue.

This is a long movie. I got bored with all the action sequences, and I love sci-fi action movies (Commando, Terminator, Blade Runner, 2001, The Rock, Total Recall, Star Gate, The Abyss, Men in Black, U-571, Matrix, Speed, Independence Day, Time Cop). These characters are wooden, except for the engaging Natalie Portman. Nobody gets a scuff on their face. Nobody shows any sign of emotion. It looks like the actors expected their emotions to be added in digitally after they read their lines. The scenes look gorgeously fake. Rich in detail, weak in content.

Oh, it was celebration of all things that are Star Wars, of course. The committee that planned this movie didn't miss a single bureaucratic reference to any of the future characters. Hints of upcoming events were subtle etched into the dialogue. Right. As subtly as a whore's lipstick. The new ideas and innovations, such as the rolling fighters in the fourth movie (Episode I) come at you by the dozens, the plot line spins you around good and evil themes like a Ferris Wheel. In fact, the whole thing was one big, noisy carnival ride. Nothing but special effects. It is not a dramatic movie. It is a big costume drama. Think Wild, Wild West or Batman. There you have a good, entertaining, money making movie that people will forget in a few years time.

This is not the original. It is not the significant blockbuster that they should teach about in film school. This was not a drama. It is not "prose telling a serious story" or a "serious narrative work." It does not portray "a dramatic progression or emotional effect." This is not The Sixth Sense, American Beauty, Cider House Rules, As Good as It Gets, Notting Hill or even the charming Amelie. It isn't even the simple romp of Gone in Sixty Seconds.

The sound is as good as you can expect these days. I enjoyed the airplane crash sequence in Jurassic Park III a lot more. Much better use of the medium. Or the ship's horn in Titanic. There was a reason that The Matrix trounced Star Wars IV at the Academy Awards. It is a much better movie.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fails to explore the hysteria that gripped the nation, 30 August 2009

In times like these, when President Bush is willfully violating one of the founding principles of this country, and reporters are going to jail for not disclosing their government sources (or worse, the newspapers are turning over their notes!), it is appropriate to be thinking of how far wrong is the political right.

This movie was considered for an Academy Award, as perhaps it should have been. It tells a story of unbelievable courage, fueled by righteous indignation and some typical misguided liberalism. Edward R Morrow was a voice of compassion and liberalism in a country scarred by war and afraid of the future.

Then, as now, they faced a world growing ever smaller with the threat of formidable foes. Then, as now, the knee jerk reaction was to raise fences, throw up barriers, run for shelter and hide under rules, regulations and desks. Yet, this is not the American way. The great American progressive social experiment is one of meeting new challenges, adopting new solutions and succeeding.

The plot of this movie stays within the recording studio. It doesn't show what is happening in the world outside of the newsroom. It only hints at the horrors of that day and age. It doesn't depict the attitude of people on the street. Many people supported McCarthy, Nixon Hoover and Cohen. Then, as now, the country was polarized between red and blue states (although I think the colors have changed). In fact, Morrow was incensed because a friend of his was accused of being a spy and then committed suicide. This and many of the other allegations turn out later to be true. Soviet President Gorbachev revealed many Russian secrets in the spirit of Glasnost. There were sleeper moles planted in the US. The Rosenbergs were indeed guilty. Hiss was a spy. So was Morrow's friend.

What the movie fails to communicate sufficiently enough was how the basic American principles, upon which this country is founded, were treacherously ignored (not by Nixon!) in the interest of sensationalism and political power. Principles of equality were trampled. The rule of law was set aside. The right of a fair trail ignored. To like communism, attend a meeting or read about it was a crime. Many Jews and liberals were accused of being Reds.

Watch this movie after seeing the incredible Schindler's List. There was an awesome enemy out there after the end of the Second World War. Russia shared more similarities with the Axis school of thinking than with the progressive Americans and the allied powers. But as Hussein knows, Stalin was a master politician, even among world-class champions, and he choose to go his own route – an uneasy alliance with the one world power that could help him fend off his aggressive neighbors (gee, sounds like Saudi Arabia, doesn't it?). The world was divided then, much as it is now, between two very different schools of thought.

What the movie fails to explore, and another one certainly should, is the hysteria that gripped the nation. We need a movie about the Hollywood 10 (20 really) whose lives and careers were changed because of government prosecution and persecution due to their political beliefs. Even today, we think there is something wrong with people who like communism, instead of respecting their political opinion (and then rushing to outvote them at the polls).

In a year of some solid contenders (finally), Good Night and Good Luck falls behind in the pack. Though it is one of the best motion pictures of last year, it does not have the modern intrigue of Syrianna. Nor is Good Night the heart-warming tale, with wonderful portrayals, of Walk the Line. It is not the disturbing performance and tale of Capote. Nor does Good Night have the powerful, emotional-moving majesty of Brokeback Mountain. Rent it yes, but be sure to get the others too.

Then, just for kicks, sit down and reread one of the all-time-great classics of courage, compassion, sensitivity, awareness, truth and honesty in the face of public adversity and scorn. Read To Kill A Mocking Bird again.

X-Men (2000)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
the audience is left siding with the evil Magneto, 30 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am not a fan of the comic book – never read it that I recall. But one of the things that bothers me is the role changes they made in the movie.

The professor is abrupt with Wolverine, defending his mind games with gorgeous Jean – which apparently lead her to the dark side of the force. This sets us up for his demise. We are disappointed, especially since new students with new abilities and problems coming to his school would be an ideal setting for continues the series, but not sad. In the previous X-Men movie, the evil Magneto wants the mutants to dominate the world because of their superior powers. This cause is muted in this movie. Instead the evil Magneto is merely fighting for humane treatment of mutants. One can't help but feel that he is right: a majority of mutants will choose the cure (except for those who excel at sports, entertainment and finance) and become normal. Not only that, but he is right about society too. At first, it will pressure young mutants to conform. When they don't and more mutants dominate the lucative industries, society will force the cure upon them. So in this movie, the audience is left siding with the evil Magneto, instead of the democratic Professor.

The best of the 2006 movie season may be upon us, for it is far too early for even whispers of what Hollywood contenders for the golden Oscar await us. Three very good blockbusters fill the start of summer for action movie lovers. The only other big action movie left to make the season that comes to mind is the painted face of Captain Jack Sparrow. (Ok, Superman with Kevin Spacey as the evil Lex Luther might be good.) So far each of these thrillers provides the goods. While not better than King Kong or Lord of the Rings, none of them was worse either. They are not too long or too blurry with CGI effects. Therefore, it is hard for me to pick a favorite among them.

The superstar status of Tom Cruise and modern weapons of MI3 provides a worldly edge to the first. The fantastic scope of powers and sights provides the hook in the comic book world of the last (think so?) X-Men.

Kurt Russell is on a roll, with what two, three movies in a row? This only proves what women know so well. Their shelf life is short. No more so shorter than in the blink of Hollywood's eye, while the staying power of men's graceful aging endures. In Poseidon, Russell and Josh Lucas, whose name I will now remember, give memorable performances in a fresh, gripping remake of the watery adventure.

Because some new movie theaters do have larger screens and sometimes slightly better sound than big ole horn systems, each of these thrillers rate 7-8 $s on my dollar scale: worth the price of theater admission. This scale also includes the lower cost of rental, and that is true. I think this trio is worth renting at the video store, but if I were the producers, I would not be rushing them into stores just yet.

Ownership? Well, I am not the one to ask. As much as I enjoy the thunder of Master & Commander, Total Recall and U-571 again and again for my reviews, I generally prefer to watch even mediocre new fare over a repeat costing several times the price.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Cronenberg hits one out of the park, 30 August 2009

After four decades of making creepy movies like Scanners, the Dead Zone and Dead Ringers, director David Cronenberg hits one out of the park in a movie which captures the swift, unfair, coldly-calculating raw emotions of violence and the sheer impact its micro-second life has on the rest of ours lives forever.

Last year, A History of Violence was toted as one of the Academy's best candidates for movie of the year. After finally getting a chance to see it from Blockbuster, I can see why. This movie slowly gathers force and rips through our sleepily lives like a tornado. There are no plot surprises here.

A mere whiff of a hint of what we already know. A peek at the deep abiding love only a few of us are luckily enough to know. A truth about the quiet little joys in life, the power of love and the frightening, big bad world that surrounds us. With a tenderness that almost makes it a love story, a warmth that encompasses a family flick and a sudden horror that never looks away from blood, gore and an awesome talent for killing, Croneberg builds upon Viggo Mortenson's heroic Lord of the Ring performance with few words, intimate close-ups and a thoughtfulness reminiscent of Clint Eastwoods' wonderful Unforgiven, Mystic River and Million-Dollar Baby, in which company, this excellent film certainly deserves to be mentioned.

On my dollar scale, where rentals score $5 and ownership is $20, I give History an easy $15, maybe $20. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I could rent this again, if only to comprehend the swift brutality of the action scenes juxtaposition with the raw sexual attraction the husband and wife feel for each other and the vastitude of familial bond. Powerful stuff, their lovemaking. Incredible stuff, this horror of butchery. Hard to see this movie as a mere R rating.

Own it? Perhaps, if only to prevent this vision of yin and yang in our lives from disappearing into the gray horizon. "Balance," the late Pat Morita extolled in The Karate Kid. Life is about balance. What makes this movie so good is the horror film master balances the fast scenes of unbelievable and unremittingly carnage with the ingrained sedateness and yet passion of a successful everyday life. We have within us, each of everyday us, the capacity to unleash a road rage of anger at the frustrations of modern life. Cronenberg unleashes the fire here with the deft skill of a pyro who loves the flame.

Bobby (2006)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Weak as water, 30 August 2009

I wish this movie was about Bobby Kennedy. It certainly ends up with some excellent speeches by him. In fact, the majesty of Bobby's vision at the end of the movie overpowers the all of the previous parts of the movie.

Instead the movie is about the people at the hotel on the day he died. And then it drops their stories cold once Kennedy is shot. It is not a good story, political commentary or documentary. Despite an excellent cast, it is weak as water. Emilio won't find himself producing another movie soon.

More text required. More text added here.

1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
3 Oscars is only half the story., 30 August 2009

Guillermo del Toro's foreign film won 3 Oscars for 2006, for Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Cinematography and Best Achievement in Makeup. That is only half the story.

Look at the nominations and you can see why this is an outstanding film and one of the best movies of last year. Pan's Labyrinth was nominated for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures/Original Score, Best Foreign Language Film of the Year and Best Writing/Original Screenplay (great story by Guillermo del Toro).

Del Toro has indeed created something very special - part war movie, part fantasy, that everyone should see. This is a very 'visual' film that does not rely overly on dialogue. I wish I had seen it in the movie theater. I had none of the why questions. It is much better than the closet tale of Narnia, more compelling and easier easy to watch than Lord of the Rings 2, and yet as political as Schindler's List.

Although the young girl's fantasy world juxtaposes her harsh real world, it is not mere escapism. The movie is too shocking for most kids, and some adults. It is not gory, but it is realistically violent. If you liked V for Vendetta and History of Violence, you will like this movie.

Like V, the real world dilemma of the plot is simple: good versus shocking evil. Face-to-face fascism in a glance. Submission of good and kind souls. The evil that men do. The young girl and her mother are trapped by circumstances. While the promise of the fantasy world is appropriately extraordinary, the fantasy challenges (tests) Pan's heroine faces are more realistic that the outlandish ones in Lord of the Rings. In Rings, each challenge is supposedly impossible to overcome, yet its group of heroes easily wins and not with special gifts that aid them in overcoming their adversary. Besides, the computer generated graphic images (CGI) fills the screen endlessly with fake backgrounds. In Pan's, the heroine succeeds because of her innate goodness, and yet makes tragic mistakes.

Pan's graphics intrude into the stark reality of WWII. In the beginning, CGI offer a glimmer of magic, hope and possibility, which we and the young heroine spy. The tension of the real world drama adds to the movie as the girl moves back and forth between the real world and fantasy land. The tragedy of the real world, and the failings in the fantasy, add suspense, moving the story along and keeping it interesting. In Narnia, there is no interaction between real and fantasy world, the heroes somehow easily conquer and win their fantastic destinies, all in gorgeous and endless CGI packed landscapes.

I normally can't watch the audio commentary; it is so full of meaningless crap. Yet the one for this film was as interesting as the one for Young Frankenstein. If you are an avid movie lover, as am I, I found de Toro's references to other movies and techniques fascinating.

I've seen a few good movies recently. I also like the wonderful Judi Dench and Cate Blanchette (always good) in Notes on A Scandal, Sharon Stone's incredible and Justin Timberlake's surprisingly good performance in the disturbing Alpha Dog and the fantastic Helen Mirren in The Queen (see the bizarre The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)

0 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Futuristic British world, where the media panders to neo-Nazi thugss, 30 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As I pen this in the balmy days of spring, the tax days of mid-April are still in the rear view mirror, but I am looking forward to baking my body in Florida's relentless summer sunshine.

It is "betwixt and between" time for movies. It is too soon for the teenage, guilty-pleasure blockbuster of summer and the Academy nominees are drifting to the DVD and rental shelves. Nonetheless, for me, the movie theater still beckons.

I knew nothing about the V for Vendetta comic book series before seeing the movie. I was quite surprised by it. This is a futuristic British world, festooned with government cameras, where the media panders to neo-Nazi dressing fascist government of thugs.

The hero is a dark, Shakespearean quoting knight, wielding a chest full of Japanese fighting swords and a weirdly disturbing, grinning white mask. He saves the girl and introduces himself with a tongue-twisting soliloquy. The hero, V for Vendetta, challenges the government by threatening to blow-up a government building in the British tradition of Guy Fawkes. He is always one-step ahead of the bad guys, wreaking his murderous revenge for their cruelty and corruption.

The movie makes a unwittingly, depiction of the madness and inspiration of terrorists. Blow up the building, V thinks, and the public will see that a government trampling their individual rights is more of a threat than their irrational fears (yeah, right).

Although I pump my movies through my almost fantastic classic Klipsch Khorn loudspeakers system, I still appreciate movie theaters with speakers lining the walls and stadium seating. These venues are particularly good for action films, my favorite genre being the sci-fi action movie. In this case, it was a delight to wander into the big box and see a late spring entry. If you like the same genre, I think you will like V for Vendetta.

The domino scene (where V tips over black and red dominoes to form a giant letter V) involved 22,000 dominoes, was assembled by four professional domino assemblers, and took 200 hours to set up.

In the scene where V has Creedy cornered in the greenhouse, V plays Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. In Morse Code, the opening notes of this piece are "... _", or V. This is also the reason for the piece's enormous popularity in England during World War Two. (The Allied slogan was "V for Victory".) The Symphony's opening was used as a call-sign in the European broadcasts of the BBC during World War II in reference to Winston Churchill's "V for Victory".

The name Evey is pronounced EV, with E being the fifth letter of the alphabet, V being five in Latin and Y being the 25th letter (5 squared) On a clock that has an hour hand and a minute hand, the time 11:05 makes a V. These two numbers, 11 and 5, where 11 is November, and 5 is the day of November, spell out: the fifth of November. "Remember, remember the 5th of November." The voice-overs about the futility of non-violence and the definition of humanism that can be heard during the end credits are sound bites from speeches given by Malcolm X and Gloria Steinem, respectively.

In the memorial for those that died as a result of the virus, the statues are of children playing "Ring around the Rosie". There is a frequently cited (though untrue) urban legend that this nursery rhyme was about the bubonic plague.

SPOILER: When Evey is being captured by a member of the commando outside Dietrich's house, if we look closer, we can see that the commando member has burnt flesh (it is visible trough the commando mask's hole for the eyes), so it is obvious that he is V. But it is visible only for a second.

Black and blues and the music that buys Cadillacs, 30 August 2009

Black and blues and the music that buys Cadillacs.

This movies doesn't move you like Ray. Nor does it charm you like High Fidelity. But if you like the blues, music or entertainment industry, Cadillac Records is a fascinating portrait of the evolution of blacks, blues and rock n' roll.

Adrain Brody puts in another solid performance. Chess Records produced and released many important singles and albums. These are now regarded as central to the rock music canon. They signed Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Etta James. BTW, Eamonn Walker of Oz and ER fame does a great job as Howlin' Wolf.

Add this movie to your list of music movies.

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