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10/10
A Christmas Masterpiece!
13 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'm so happy for the late Bob Clark who got to see his Masterpiece become an annual TV Christmas classic. Kudos also to the great humorist Jean Shepherd for choosing and trusting in Bob to put his gem of a Christmas story on film. Where does one begin? Well, you need a great, engrossing story to make a classic film and Jean Sherpherd's "In God we trust..." is perfection. His childhood recollections are "spot on"! It was a risk to choose Bob Clark, whose credits included "Black Christmas" and "Porky's" and who'd a thunk he'd deliver in spades! Next, and extremely important, is a good cast. Here's where the film excels. The casting is superb, from the leads to the smaller roles. Peter Billingsley is a perfect 'Ralphie' (who has been portrayed by Matt Dillon, Jerry O'Connell and Kieran Culkin). Darren McGavin is excellent as 'the Old Man' as is Melinda Dillon as 'Mom'. Both are perfect parents, strict yet loving and in the end supportive. McGavin is terrific as a short-tempered furnace hating dad. Dillon adds moments of humor, wonder and warmth. Ian Petrella steals ever scene he's in as whiny, frustrated younger brother Randy. Jean Shepherd has a small cameo role as a grumpy man waiting in the line for visiting Santa Claus. Ralphie's buddies, Flick (Scott Schwartz), and Schwartz (R.D. Robb) and neighborhood bully, Scut Farkas (Zack Ward) are also wonderful in their roles. The movie is charmingly nostalgic and anyone who celebrated Christmas as a kid should be able to relate to this film. The entire film is seen from a kid's perspective. Shepherd and Clark do such a fantastic job of capturing the trials and tribulations of pre-teen kids that it's just remarkable. Though set in the early 1940s, it so closely mirrors my childhood in the 1950s and most likely many of the following generations of kids. Watching this film in December guarantees the viewer a very Merry Christmas!
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Centurion (2010)
9/10
A Surprising Gem of a film!
15 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I stumbled on the DVD of "Centurion" knowing nothing about it and was rewarded with a fascinating, involving and enjoyable film. I figured it was probably a Roman epic film, which is a genre I truly enjoy, but it was even more. It involves the Roman invasion of Britain and their eventual confrontations with the Picts in Northern Scotland which led to the building of Hadrian's Wall (which still stands to this day). The Wall was built as the end of the Roman line in Britain AND to keep out the Picts. The film is well cast, expertly directed, cinematically stunning with its cold landscapes and it really moves along at a furious pace while never "boring" the viewer. Michael Fassbender plays Quintus Dias, the titular Centurion whose Roman stronghold has been attacked by the Picts. Because he speaks the Pict language he is taken hostage and while in captivity learns much about the Picts. He escapes and encounters Rome's famed 9th Legion. They are about to quell the "Pict situation" led by a Pict scout, Etain (Olga Kurylenko) who is leading them straight into a deadly ambush. From there the story builds into an escape for survival. Dominic West is excellent as the legendary General Titus Flavius Virilus, leader of the Roman 9th Legion as are Ulric Thomsen as Gorlacon, King of the Picts; David Morrissey as Bothos a fellow escapee; Imogen Poots is lovely as Arianne the witch and the rest of the cast also shines. This is a Braveheart type epic with bloody battles and a fascinating story based on truth. There was a Roman 9th Legion who headed into Scotland and was never seen nor heard of again. Although this story is speculation by writer/director Neil Marshall, it is based on various facts and actual historical figures. I do not understand the first review here where the reviewer could not empathize with the Romans, as they were invaders, nor the savage Picts. To me this is like blaming soldiers for policy for which they are not involved. This is more a story of humans rather than soldiers or warriors and survival rather than war or conflict. I highly recommend this film, but a warning for those who cannot take scenes of blood and gore; this film has some of those!
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10/10
Awesome Historical Epic!
9 October 2010
One of the best films ever, I can't get enough of this masterpiece. It has all the elements of a classic film, excellent direction by Michael Mann which keeps the film moving, stunning cinematography of lush landscapes, a brilliant cast, beautiful production values (sets, props, art direction, costumes), a fabulous music score by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman (I play the CD quite often), a literate script and more. The cast is perfection, with Daniel Day-Lewis an extremely masculine and rugged Hawkeye, Madeline Stowe so beautiful and stunning as Cora Munro, Jodhi May is the beautiful, Alice Munro and gives a wonderful touch of sadness to her doomed character, Russell Means is brilliant as Chingachcook, Eric Schweig handsome and stoic as Uncas does much with very few lines, the terrific Wes Studi as the vengeful Magua is cunning and evil, yet sympathetic, Maurice Roeves as Munro created an interesting British officer as did Steven Waddington as the rival lover of Cora. To fully enjoy this film in all its glory I would suggest seeing it on blu-ray to experience the sounds and lush colors of this masterpiece. I was quite surprised at Russell Means' performance. It was a very physical and emotional role and he pulled it off magnificently for a non-professional actor. Dennis Banks appeared in a small role as Ongewasgone and he too nailed it. I suspect this film was divinely inspired in some way. This is a film you can watch over and over again!
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Charade (1963)
10/10
Best Hitchcock film that Alfred never made!
27 September 2010
This is one of my all time favorite films and I've seen it about 40 or more times over the years. You can't go wrong with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. This is Stanley Donen's masterpiece. He gathered together a fantastic cast: Grant and Hepburn, Walter Matthau, a wily trio of thugs including: James Coburn, George Kennedy and Ned Glass and a smattering of excellent French supporting actors. One of its many charms is that is filmed in Paris. Art direction, sound, editing, a wonderful music score by Henry Mancini, costumes for Hepburn by Givenchy that add to her glamour and more assure its status a classic. Donen adds quite a few Hitchcockian touches in the dialog and cinematic scenes. An example: Peter Joshua, Alexander Dyle, Adam Canfield and Brian Cruikshank. If you see the movie you'll know who they are. Plot involves gold stolen from the Nazis in World War II by a few GI's and what's become of it. From the first frame to the last Charade delivers comedy, thrills, chills and romance. What more could a film give an audience. Don't miss Charade!
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10/10
One of the Great Action Movies...with a lot of Heart
23 September 2010
I never tire of this terrific film. It has it all! A truly involving, complex story that really moves thanks to director Harold Becker and the script based on Ryne Douglas Pearson's novel "Simple Simon" is enhanced by screenwriters Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. The superb cast is led by Bruce Willis, Chi McBride, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Conway, John Carroll Lynch and Camryn Manheim, but it is Miko Hughes whose astonishing performance as an autistic boy that carries the film. Story involves an autistic child who cracks a government code that is too complex to recreate, leading a government head to order the child to be terminated. There are thrills and chills and nail-biting moments in this gem. Excellent cinematography of Chicago cityscapes by Michael Seresin and a terrific score by John Barry. A highly underrated film that really delivers!
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Avatar (2009)
10/10
A True Movie Experience!
20 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
James Cameron scores again! I have seen this terrific film three times now. First in the theater in 3-D, the best way to truly experience its awe and beauty, and twice on Blu-Ray DVD. This film is like nothing you've seen on film before. First off, it is visually stunning and brilliantly imaginative. It has everything a film needs to be a classic: fast paced direction, a fine cast, awesome cinematography by Mauro Fiore, a beautiful music score by the brilliant James Horner, unbelievable special effects by a fabulous crew of hundreds, fantastic sound and sound effects which make one feel like they are there on the planet Pandora. James Cameron is expert at directing wonderful films and he finds such talented people to work with. The cast is overall very good with the likes of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver in the lead roles and such stalwarts as Giovanni Ribisi, Michelle Rodriguez, Wes Studi, CCH Pounder and Stephen Lang in the supporting roles.. Many criticize the storyline, but I find little wrong with it. It borrows from Dances with Wolves, Braveheart and maybe Wall Street. It mainly deals with corporate greed. Topical? Hmmm. It's main selling point is truly the visuals, but the story is involving and the cast is good. I felt Stephen Lang played it a little over-the-top, but that's excusable. Cameron likes a bit of gung hoi-sm in his films. I find that so far the film holds up very well after 3 viewings and I'm sure it will after many more viewings. I wish I had a 3D TV.
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The Notebook (2004)
10/10
One of the Best Love Stories Ever!
19 May 2010
This film is so brilliant in every aspect and ranks at the Top of any list of great love story movies. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are superb in the role of two star-crossed lovers who experience all the joys and heartbreaks of unconditional love as do James Garner and Gena Rowlands as lovers in their twilight years. The rest of the cast is also top notch including Joan Allen, as a controlling, but penitent mother and Sam Shepard as a down-to-earth, caring father. The story is simple but it rings so true that it moves one's heart and tear ducts. The cinematography is stunning, the direction well-paced, the music score not to sugary, bland or predictable, but just right to add to the perfection of this film. All the chemistry is there on the screen and it just draws you in to the story almost immediately. Normally, I prefer unconventional love stories like "Marty" or "The African Queen", but this one strikes a perfect chord for me and I highly recommend it.
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Tombstone (1993)
9/10
One of the All-Time Great Westerns!
7 May 2010
It took me about three viewings to appreciate this movie the way it deserves. Sometimes when you watch a film alone and uninterrupted you can really get "into it" and that was the case for me. This great western has it all: a terrific cast, great dialog, deft directing, stunning cinematography, a wonderful music score, plenty of action and even narration by the great Robert Mitchum. At 129 minutes, it moves along swiftly with no unnecessary scenes or dragging. The cast, led by Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, are perfection, many turning in their greatest performances ever, especially Kilmer and Sam Elliott. I'm not a historian, but it seemed to me to be fairly accurate in its facts. Of all its pluses, I can't say enough about the cast. Powers Booth, Stephen Lang, Michael Biehn, Billy Bob Thornton and Thomas Haden Church all portray terrific villains, while Kilmer, Russell, Elliott, Harry Carey Jr., Buck Taylor, Bill Paxton, Charlton Heston, Billy Zane and Jason Priestley are solid as the good guys. Dana Delaney, Paula Malcomson, Lisa Collins and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson are the love interests. Besides all the great western action, this film is about love, loyalty, friendship and life choices. See it on blu-ray DVD to really enjoy the sights and sounds of this fabulous western!
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Analyze That (2002)
8/10
A Terrific Sequel
10 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of those rare instances in which the sequel tops the original film. Both films are very funny, but this one made me laugh more and more often. DeNiro does a fabulous job of satirizing his many gangster roles and Billy Crystal is at his best. The same cast and crew returns with a few new additions including Cathy Moriarty as a female crime boss. The plot involves DeNiro again as Crime Boss Paul Vitti trying to extricate himself out of prison as rivals are trying to "knock him off" inside the prison. Crystal as Dr. Ben Sobel will not return his calls so he feigns psychotic acts and the feds call upon Dr. Sobel for help. He ends up right back where he started from with Crime Boss DeNiro. Some of the funniest scenes involve DeNiro job hunting. Both films, "Analyze This" and "Analyze That" are available on DVD and Blu-Ray as a dual-pack.
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Analyze This (1999)
8/10
Surprisingly good!
10 March 2010
This film was a pleasant surprise to me. I just watched it on DVD 11 years after it came out. The title never grabbed me, but recently someone told me it was a pretty good comedy. When it came out on Blu-Ray paired with its sequel "Analyze That" recently I took a chance and bought it. I found myself laughing and really enjoying the story. Oddly enough, DeNiro and Crystal make a pretty decent comedy team. A funny script co-wriiten by Peter Tolan, Kenneth Lonergan & Harold Ramis plus well paced directing by Ramis and a terrific supporting cast led by Joe Viterelli as a bumbling, but lovable gangster, Chaz Palminteri, Lisa Kudrow and newcomer, Kyle Sabihy all makes for an absorbing, fast-paced, funny comedy. The plot in a nutshell involves Gangster boss DeNiro who is malfunctioning in running his "business" hiring, or rather snatching, Psychiatrist Crystal to help him get back to normal and then the fun ensues. The film also has a neat soundtrack and excellent cinematography.
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Brainstorm (1983)
9/10
This is a great movie!
26 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The critics and audiences of the early 1980s dismissed this film as banal and tripe. They certainly didn't see what I saw in the many viewings at the theater, on TV and video and now DVD. Sadly, the great actress Natalie Wood died during the filming of "Brainstorm" and maybe that affected their views and opinions. The story is very involving. It's about the invention/creation of a mind recorder. It records the sensations, feelings and thoughts of individuals on a type of tape recorder. The user experiences these sensations while wearing headphones that replay the recorded thoughts. The film is moving and fascinating during the creation and demonstrations of this fabulous device but it bogs down when the government becomes involved in the usual clichés of "military takeover." Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood are terrific as a divorced couple who utilize the device to rekindle their romantic past through their feelings and thoughts. The film is very thought provoking on how and why such a device can or might be used. Louise Fletcher also shines as the co-creator of the Brainstorm device, who fights to keep the "rights" of the device in the right hands. Cliff Robertson also stars as a supporter of the Brainstorm device. What really works best is the device itself as it presents so many functional possibilities. One wonders, is such a thing possible? Watch this film and enjoy.
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10/10
Perfection!
17 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"The Green Mile" is a GREAT movie, a Masterpiece. In a great movie everything "clicks" during the filming and this is a perfect example. The cast of Green Mile is so perfect that one cannot picture or imagine anyone else in these roles. The most crucial character in this film was John Coffey, and he was the last one cast. John Coffey is such a complex character not only in psychologically but in physical appearance. Michael Clarke Duncan was suggested by Bruce Willis, who'd read Stephen King's book, at the last moment and he delivered in spades. He is the heart of this movie. The other cast members: the always dependable, Tom Hanks, David Morse and James Cromwell, the brilliant Sam Rockwell and Barry Pepper, the terrific character actors Jeffrey DeMunn, Graham Greene, Harry Dean Stanton and veteran Dabbs Greer, along with Bonnie Hunt and Patricia Clarkson and newcomer Doug Hutchison. The late Michael Jeter turned in an Oscar worthy performance as the Cajun prisoner Eduard Delacroix. Last but not least was Mr. Jingles the talented mouse, who was portrayed by a group of equally talented stunt-mice. Frank Darabont deserves credit for his vision and directing which put everything into place. Kudos also to David Tattersall's stunning cinematography, Thomas Newman's whimsical score and to Stephen King for a brilliant story. There are so many great scenes in this film that it's difficult to single out one, but the scene where Paul Edgecombe (Hanks) asks John Coffey (Duncan) what he can do for him, when he knows Coffey is innocent is extremely poignant. I should also give credit to Terence Marsh and William Cruse who "created" the Green Mile set. This film is on a par with its counterpart "The Shawshank Redemption" also by Stephen King and directed by Frank Darabont.
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8/10
Princess Bride gets better with every viewing!
14 February 2010
I first saw this film during the 5th Game of the 1987 World Series, an intense game (my Minnesota Twins vs. the Atlanta Braves), that I just couldn't watch. My mind wasn't on the film, so I couldn't appreciate it as I knew whoever won that Game would take the series. After that I began to see it on TV and video and realized it was an OK film. My most recent viewing on the Blu-Ray DVD helped me not only enjoy the beauty of its cinematography, but its story, pacing, acting, directing, music score, swordplay and stunts. The cast is perfection save for over-the-top performances by Billy Crystal & Carol Kane. Cary Elwes shines as both a humble farm-boy and later as a debonair, swashbuckling pirate in his portrayal of the hero Westley. Wallace Shawn is brilliant as Vizzini, a sly but silly, lisping villain, Andre the Giant is absolutely charming as Fezzik the hulking, but kindly Giant, Mandy Patinkin is terrific as Inigo Montoya the dashing Spanish swashbuckler as are Chris Sarandon as evil Prince Humperdinck and Christopher Guest as Count Rugin the six-fingered scoundrel. Robin Wright was stunningly beautiful and endearing as Buttercup and Peter Falk and Fred Savage as Storyteller and grandson were fine. The story is clever, funny, dashingly adventurous and expertly directed by Rob Reiner. I even liked the song Storybook Love by Mark Knopfler. You must see it on Blu-Ray DVD, it's AWESOME. BTW, the Braves won that game but my Twins won the World Series.
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10/10
Everything you could want in an action-thriller and more!
11 February 2010
I just watched this timeless thriller for about the 9th or 10th time and it's still a nail-biting, edge of your seat film. The cast in 1985 was pretty much unknown, save for Willem Dafoe. William Petersen showed his chops as an actor in this film as did John Pankow, an under-appreciated, gifted actor. The film has brilliant cinematography of L.A. by Robby Muller and state of the art editing by M. Scott Smith. Director William Friedkin (The French Connection) shows us his deftness as an action-adventure director extraordinaire as if we needed any more proof. This film has one of the top 3 chase scenes ever. It made me sweat. It was an unbelievably nerve-wracking part of a really tense, but enjoyable film. There are one or two shocking scenes that I won't go into, but if and when you see this terrific film you'll know exactly of what I'm speaking. Anyone who considers older films "dated" has absolutely no sense of history. This is a story/document about events that happened in the 1980s with music, clothing, cars and other milieu of that era. Get with it!
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Primal Fear (1996)
8/10
Nerve Wracking Thriller!
3 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
For its genre, this is an excellent film. It's creepy, tense and disturbing, but that is its intention. The cast is topnotch with the likes of Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard and others, all "at the top of their game"! It is Oscar Best Actor nominee, Edward Norton, who steals the show. The film is tautly directed by Gregory Hoblit and the cinematography by Michael Chapman is exceptional for an action thriller. The city of Chicago is also a star as it shines brilliantly, thanks to Chapman's eye. Gere plays a hotshot attorney, looking to be in the limelight, and is attracted to the case of an Archbishop's bloody murder. Linney is the prosecuting attorney who has a "past" with Gere, who defends the only suspect. A subplot involves Gere's dealings with a Spanish gangster who may or may not have ties to the Archbishop case. I usually don't appreciate bloody, creepy movies, but this one has its merits and it is quite involving.
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Heartland (1979)
10/10
Phenomenal and as close to reality as a film can get!
17 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I love this movie and have seen it quite a few times over the years. It does get better with every viewing. I agree with all of the positive reviews here. Yes, it's gritty and brutally realistic as life on the prairie was in those days. I found myself doing commentary as I watched it. Someone on here said Rip Torn was miscast. I couldn't disagree more. He is brilliant as the dour, miserly Clyde Stewart who says little and works like a slave/workhorse. Conchatta Farrell is fantastic as the widowed Elinor, whom Clyde hires as a housekeeper/cook (along with her 7 old daughter). Lilia Skala is excellent as distant neighbor called grandma. Also a star is the stark Montana prairie. It is both beautiful and brutal country in which to settle. There are some scenes that are both repulsive and necessary. No special effects here, what you see is real! It even has a terrificly perfect music score and a great script. Once you see Heartland, you'll never forget it. It deserves all the 10s it gets here.
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9/10
Very Entertaining B Movie!
10 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I've been waiting for years for "Back from Eternity" to come out on DVD. It, along with many other older movies, is on my Website King Spud's Movie & TV Pages on my Up to the Minute Page. For a time many films on my List were coming out on DVD, but of late nothing, save The African Queen has been released. Back from Eternity is an absolutely terrific little film, albeit a B movie. It has an excellent cast led by Robert Ryan and Rod Steiger in an early role. The rest of the cast are doing some of their best work, Beulah Bondi, Cameron PrudHomme, Jesse White, Phyllis Kirk, Gene Barry, Fred Clark, little Jon Provost and especially Keith Andes, who makes one wonder why he wasn't a bigger star. This is an edge of your seat film, a real nail-biter. The tension builds as the pilots and passengers scuttle to repair the downed plane's engine while the danger of an attack by Jivaro headhunters increases. A fine score by the great Franz Waxman also helps elevate this film to almost classic stature. I saw it as a kid and never forgot it. After all these years it was great to see it has held up to all my expectations of its thrills.
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Rome (2005–2007)
10/10
Magnificent Look at Rome, Its History and Its People!
6 January 2010
This Review includes Rome: the Complete Series Parts 1 & 2. I'll begin by crowning HBO "King of the Mini-Series". Any doubt, just look at Rasputin, Citizen X, John Adams, Band of Brothers, From Earth to the Moon, Grey Gardens and others. Rome the Series has it all, a literate script, a superb cast, fantastic production values, unbelievable special effects, makeup and stunt-work, brilliant directing by ALL directors involved, excellent pacing and a terrific music score throughout. It is pretty much historically accurate in events and history. Even Vorenus and Pullo were actually mentioned in Caesar's writings, the only non-aristocrats who were. The grittiness of Rome and its people stands out. The lascivious, decadent society is portrayed in all its lewdness. The violence of these people is oft times shocking and gross as well it should be. No candy-coating here! The politics and lifestyles of Rome are fascinatingly presented. Standouts in a perfect cast are: Kevin McKidd & Ray Stevenson as Vorenus & Pullo; James Purefoy aptly schizophrenic as Marc Antony; Ciaran Hinds properly regal as Julius Caesar; Polly Walker schemingly wicked as Atia; Max Pirkis & Simon Woods as the younger and older Octavian; Lyndsey Marshal voluptuous and cunning as Cleopatra and Kenneth Cranham wonderfully sympathetic as Pompey Magnus. I wish I could list them all. The only negative with Rome the Series is that it does not continue on thru Octavian (Augustus), Caligula, Claudius and the rest. I really didn't want this series to end.
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A Christmas Carol (1984 TV Movie)
10/10
Best Version Ever!
25 December 2009
We all grew up with the b&w Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol and Mr. Sim was excellent as are Albert Finney and Michael Caine, but this version with George C. Scott in his 2nd greatest role is superb in all aspects. The nuances of his portrayal add so much to the role. The entire cast is terrific as are the production values, the script and the cinematography. Frank Finlay as Jacob Marley's Ghost is scary and awesome. David Warner as Bob Cratchit is a surprise, in a sympathetic role for a change and Anthony Walters was the best Tiny Tim ever. I like all the versions of this great Dickens masterpiece, including "Scrooge" (the Musical) and "The Muppet's A Christmas Carol", but this 1984 version is quite special!
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7/10
Very Disappointing!
10 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I am reviewing the DVD version of this sequel to the very clever and wonderful Transformers film. This one is lacking in a lot of things: story, plot, coherence, good dialog and much more. It is utterly confusing at some points, very loud and noisy, the characters are not as endearing as in the first film. I'm getting tired of Shia LaBeouf's rat-a-tat, rambling, improv style of speech. He acts like he's on speed and Megan Fox comes off as a bitchy spoiled brat, Kevin Dunn and Julie White as LaBeouf's parents act idiotic up until towards the end of the film when the seem to "snap out of it". There are way too many Transfomers (hint: less is more) and it becomes confusing determining just who's who? The film was terribly paced by director Michael Bay, who comes off on the DVD like some kind of jerk in his attitude. I will say that the effects are good, as are the stunts, but there are way too many. The plot was OK but took forever to unfold. It's not the worst film out there, but it could have been so much better.
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9/10
This is simply a Masterpiece!
8 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I have been waiting for this Gem to come out on DVD since the 90s and finally it's here. It's available only through Warner Bros. Archive Collection at $17.99 plus tax & shipping and unfortunately it is a bare-bones DVD with NO Extra Features. It was worth it to me as this film is so great. I agree with the bulk of the reviews here that: the acting is superior and riveting, the script and dialog are spot on, Paul Brickman (Risky Business) co-wrote and directed with aplomb. The story takes us through so many emotions but in the end we are rewarded for "taking the ride." Jessica Lange is always good but this is one of her finest performances. Arliss Howard is an unlikely "hero" and Chris O'Donnell and Charlie Korsmo are perfect as Lange's sons. The always quirky but dependable Joan Cusack is excellent as a care-giver nurse. Kathy Bates has a small role as Lange's boss and as always she makes the most of her performance. This is a very moving, emotional film and one of the Best of the 90s films.
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9/10
Definitely a Classic!
6 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I really liked this film and am surprised I haven't seen it before. It's a very nostalgic film with great characters, a wonderful story and crisp, sharp dialog by the Master, Neil Simon. The acting is superior all around, the art direction, costuming, music score and cinematography are also topnotch. Story involves a middle class, New York Jewish family who endure hard times during World War II, as Eddie, the father's (Jack Laufer), business has to be shut down, the mother is deceased, and Eddie plans to sell scrap metal to get established again and to aid the War effort. In order to do so he arranges with his stern, no-nonsense mother to take in the boys, Jay (Brad Stoll) and Arty (Mike Damus). Their demanding grandmother (Irene Worth) is so hard core that the boys have to earn their keep via hard labor. Their fear of her is alleviated somewhat by their dizzy, but loving Aunt Bella (Mercedes Ruehl) and the arrival of their small time crook Uncle Louie (Richard Dreyfuss) who is being pursued by two inept gangsters. Director Martha Coolidge keeps the story moving along and with panache. It's too difficult to single out any of the cast for best performance as all are superb in their roles. This is one terrific film which I will eventually rate a 10 after another viewing. For a Neil Simon film it is very emotionally fulfilling and heart-warming, but it does have its comic moments too.
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8/10
Jimmy Stewart Never Lets You Down!
25 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Any film with Jimmy Stewart of Henry Fonda in it is a guaranteed very good film. "Carbine Williams" is no exception. When he takes on a role, you can't imagine anyone else doing a better job. Here he plays a man from a large country family in North Carolina who is very self-centered, but a decent fellow. After busting up rocks for a railroad for 40 cents an hour, he finds building boilers a better option. It turns out these boilers are used for illegal 'stills' and before long he is distilling whiskey. This leads to trouble and a prison sentence. It goes on from there. Stewart is terrific as is Wendell Corey and Jean Hagen as his loving wife. The true story is based on an article in Reader's Digest "Most Unforgettable Person" series. It is available from Warner Bros. Archive Collection on (barebones) DVD.
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The Search (1948)
9/10
Nifty Post WWII Film!
25 October 2009
I saw this title in the Warner Bros. Archive Collection and was curious about it. After reading the synopsis and finding it to be Montgomery Clift's first film and filmed in Post-War Germany where it takes place I felt that it seemed like a potential good film. Boy, was I right. I won't discuss the plot only to say it involves refugee children. It grabs you from the beginning and keeps you glued to its story, its brilliant B&W cinematography and its wonderful cast led by Clift, the great character actress Aline McMahon and Ivan Landl in his first and only film for which he was awarded a Special Oscar. Clift was nominated as Best Actor in his screen debut and Aline McMahon should have been nominated as Best Supporting Actress, but there were some great films and portrayals up against her. I highly recommend this excellent film!
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17 Again (2009)
9/10
What a neat Surprise!
22 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very surprisingly good movie. I liked the premise of a guy becoming young again, but wondered if this would work. Surprise, this is a very funny, very charming and a really warm hearted film. The actors make it work. I had no problem believing Zac Efron as a younger Matthew Perry. Both guys really pulled it off brilliantly. The rest of the cast was perfection also, especially Tom Lennon as Perry's very wealthy, nerdy buddy and the O'Donnell family, wife Scarlet (Leslie Mann), son Alex (Sterling Knight), daughter Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg). The story is well paced and very engaging with a terrific script. Even though this scenario has been done before in "Freaky Friday", "13 Going on 30" and others but the premise works very well because of fine directing by Burr Steers and an excellent cast of actors. Take my word for it, you will enjoy this movie!
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