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Cold Mountain (2003)
Rebel with a cause: but he gave it up
Very enjoyable film about a southerner who gleefully goes off to battle only to find it wasn't the grand adventure he had envisioned. Sick of the carnage he takes the long road home, experiencing many rough knocks as he does. The picture bounces back and forth from 1861 to 1863 showing us the man before and after his soldiering experience. Primarily we see his relationship with a woman as it gets a rocky start and gradually forms into something permanent. Many fine performances in the movie made it memorable; I particularly liked the interplay between Ruby and Ada. I had to laugh a couple of times at Ruby's habit of counting off points she wanted to make. Hilarious. Well played out ending; fit in well with the mood preceding it.
13 Going on 30 (2004)
Nothing new, but I loved it
As usual in these romance embedded comedies I wiped many happy tears as the lovable couple made their way towards a lovably enthusiastic display of eternally intense affection. Besides which, it had a message for us all: 'don't be a nasty person'. While I wasn't bowled over like I was in "Sleepless in Seattle" and "My Best Friend's Wedding", and I just knew what was going to happen, I nevertheless had a fine time kicked back and letting the action play out in it's own way. No getting mad at Tom Tom for being an arrogant little snot, no hand wringing worrying if the cutesy little couple would ever manage to beat the odds and form a lasting union which would burn brightly for eternity. None of that because, let's face it, one doesn't turn 30 over night and get to live all the mistakes over and right them. Fun film and JG is, like, totally hot you know.
The Last Rebel (1971)
The producers of this horse dung should be incarcerated
Yes, I've seen worse films but this was so bad they had trouble keeping horses during the shooting; the critters would all run off at night. To say Joe Willie's talents lay elsewhere would be the understatement of the decade. His dismal performance wasn't all that noticeable, however, because everybody else stunk like a week old corpse in a broken icebox during a Texas heat wave. Even Elam, one of my all time faves, couldn't keep a straight face in many of his scenes. There was so much ham in this turkey that if Jimmy Dean bought it he would have to open up a new building to process all the pork. Seldom have I seen a greater collection of grinning jackasses than were displayed in this thinly plotted venture. The soundtrack was interesting but all that rock music never quite dovetailed with the action on the screen.
Next Stop Wonderland (1998)
Boy almost doesn't meet girl
Spiffy little romance/comedy which didn't follow in the footsteps of most in this genre. Perfectly paced with nice doses of nifty dialogue, a plethora of all sorts of characters, and a pair of leading players who came off as real people with the same needs as all of us. The leading lady was torn between her need for a mate and her distaste for all the hubbub that such a search entails. The leading man didn't appear to need a mate as much as he needed to shuck his routine job in favor of the more interesting marine biologist. This, at times, paled in comparison to his money problems and having to deal with a shady character and his muscle bound crony lurking menacingly just behind. Good film, and you'll love that aquarium.
Lady in Cement (1968)
IL' cross eyes does it again.....fails, that is
Another bland concoction featuring the boozy, down-on-his-luck *read:lazy* Tony Rome. While not as goofy, just almost, as "Tony Rome", I still enjoyed the cornball humor and tough guy action especially from Dan Blockbuster as he waltzed through his big and bad bit. Had to snort at the unseen nod to "Bonanza", somehow I knew that would pop up. Maybe Lorne Green should have been the lead instead of Snotra, eh? The only bright spot in this gibberish was the sensational Lanie Kazan and her go-go dancing self. Even an 'in her heyday' Raquel couldn't hold a candle to this voluptuous doll. OK, she could too hold a candle but it didn't shine with the fervor of Kazan's. Actually, the better title for this turkey would have been "Lady in Concrete" since cement is the wet form of concrete. Or, how about "Concrete Blonde"?
The Pawnbroker (1964)
Money as God makes for an empty life
Excellent drama centering around the workings of a money laundering outlet posing as a pawn shop. The pawnbroker is a heartless, money loving sort who insists that the only thing worth having is more and more filthy lucre no matter the cost. As a parade of pathetic thieves and losers flow through his establishment daily he has no more feeling for them than a bug on the wall; they are simply another source of revenue. He does get a 'religion' of sorts when he discovers the point of origin of much of the money he is laundering because of his experiences during World War 2. Not that this turn in his thoughts leads him to become a less obnoxious person. I liked the shop the story takes place in; smacked of the genuine article. I wasn't aware that nudity was this overt in film as early as '64.
Open Range (2003)
Mr. Dillon weren't never this good with a revolver
Much better than I expected. Costner was superb as the slow talking, quick handed gunslinger/raw-hider who has a low threshold for bull crap from a loud mouth, arrogant little pasture Hitler intent on keeping the open range open strictly to HIS bovine. When things reach a boiling point in an ongoing battle of words and nasty deeds the range becomes a place of gun-smoke and flying lead. I consider the shootout one of the best I've ever seen in a western - sorta the old west version of "Heat". Very realistic looking as this went down much like I would expect the real deal to play out. I especially appreciated the townsfolk getting a spine and chasing some of the thugs down and applying a little shotgun surgery. And that romantic ending.......lovely
I've always wanted to be the assistant manager of a convenience store
Funny, fast paced story of an assortment of pathetic losers, their dreams, girlfriends, and go nowhere lives. I laughed all the way through at the give and take between the two lead characters and their stupid friends and lovers. Both intelligent, sometimes even sagely; the two men lead lives of loneliness and boredom leading to a careless attitude about their jobs which, in time, will become their position on all things unless they choose to reverse the course they are following. I was groaning with glee as the store clerk had it out with his lady friend over how many men she had fellatio with. I liked the way the film was broken up into titled parts, each comprising a small story within the tale. Zany, well worth the price of entry.
Wild West Tech (2003)
The code of the west wasn't always as it appeared
Entertaining and interesting: revisionist in many ways as it shows what really happened as compared to what we have been told occurred through books and film. The hosts introduce various characters such as quick draw artists or bull whip masters and allow them to demonstrate their respective arts of the old west. Throughout are commentaries by a group of western historians and students who give their take on the 'technologies' and events of historical record. The series started off with Keith Carradine as the host, but he was superseded by his brother David. Both bring their own personality to the screen with Keith being more on the serious side, while David engages the viewer with a comedic style, occasionally making comments to someone off camera. Very informative series for anyone interested in America's past.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Not the best RC ever made
"Notting Hill", "My Best Friends Wedding", and "Sleepless in Seattle" is what this comedy wants to be but can't. Whereas I didn't yawn all the way through, I never did get on the 'love' bandwagon and have a joyous, romantic journey. I believe the opposite sexes can and do act in this fashion, but to have it play out in such a perfect setting with these two 'professional' lovers was a bit overdone. The dialogue was sometimes corny beyond description, and all the scenes where the girl tries to lead the guy got to be a little tedious. Nothing against the performances, they were fine: I merely felt the writers were reaching to far for a tale of unrequited commitment against seemingly overwhelming odds. Besides, I knew 5 minutes into the film exactly what the outcome would be.....and it was.
Halls of Montezuma (1951)
Another sillyassed look at the art of war
Entertaining look at combat from the viewpoint of a small band of Americans slugging it out with the Nips over a dinky, but important, section of real estate on some nothing little island. I chuckled mirthlessly at the "no shoot" landing the jarheads made against a handful of sneaky, albeit useless, soldiers of the Imperial Army. The Americans were fortunate to have had that old building to base in; it took rocket after rocket and was little the worse for wear after a couple of days of constant shelling. I really appreciated the robotic, killing machine gyrene sarge who lost his eyes but valiantly stated: "just point me in the right direction and I'll keep fighting". What a hoss! As usual, we had to have the comic relief: this time in the form of a hard drinking, harder fighting GI who actually carried his private still around with him. I enjoyed seeing some of the old faces, but Widmark was the only bright spot in the entire production. Fun but corny.
Buffalo '66 (1998)
Never even heard of Gallo: just happened onto this film on IFC one night and totally loved it. The acting was superb, the story even more so; and that camera work! Gallo's character, Billy Brown, was a picture of hate and resentment due to his unfeeling, unloving parents who made it clear from day one that he wasn't wanted, much less loved. This pushing away by these heartless, empty people turned young Billy into a introvert who was only able to find love within the confines of his own dreamy mind. Of course, this was insufficient which drove Billy to acting out in some bizarre and dangerous ways. Finally, when love does come it terrifies him and causes him to push away this affection continuing the cycle started by his parents. At times I found myself rocking with laughter at the antics of these hurting and emotionally scarred folks, but the tale was anything but comical. I wish there were more pictures coming out as interesting and dramatic as this.
Telling Lies in America (1997)
Ever felt like an outsider? Sure, lots of times.
Interesting and well done look at the American pop scene in the sexy sixties. Featuring a oversexed, insecure loser named Karchy who teams up with another oversexed loser disc jockey intent on preying and playing just one more gig in the nowhere business of top 40 music. The charismatic DJ, a burned out cynic, has a history of using unpopular teens to make illegal profits or to cheat them in business deals; which, of course, continues as he rolls into a new town amid a flurry of excitement and adulation. As the rollicking DJ and the impressionable teen play out their drama, another is occurring as Karchy tries to woo an older woman who, for some reason, shows an interest in the love struck teen. Different from most of the gunk coming out today: well worth seeing.
The boys must have needed a payday in the worst way
As bad as this silliness was it still outshone The Beatles "Help" by a wide margin. It was, however, not in the same class as "A Hard Days Night" by the Fab 4 which was a masterpiece - well, sorta. In Mrs. Brown we have the 5 cute Hermits running around England trying to become big time dog racers, making time with cute birds, grinning like blind apes, playing their abysmal songs, and proving their talents lie not in acting. I enjoyed the film very much because it showcased one of the original 'invasion' groups, not because it was an award winner; although it really wasn't all that bad either. Is it possible the Hermits popularity waned because at the time of this filming most rock groups has gone beyond the squeaky clean, suit and tie, short/mod hair Herman and the boys were sporting? These blokes looked like advertising men when compared to Big Brother or the Dead.
The Last Broadcast (1998)
Nice little mockumentary...and the viewer was the one mocked
If you are looking for a film with big names you won't find it here: many of these actors are working for the first and last time; which may be a Godsend. I thought it was an effective and fun movie as this group of devil busters head off into the wilds of Jersey looking for this area's version of Bigfoot. If played out well right down to the realistic looking footage they were shooting, including the "interviews" with various associates and professionals. In the end the producers give the entire thing away with a rather hokey finale. The players were just unprofessional enough to come off as the real McCoy and in a way they really were since this was a first and only shot for many of them. I liked the concept of the entire picture, unique and interesting.
Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000)
Sexy, swaggering, saucy, silly sluts slink & sashay for psyche stunted, stupid, slobbering studs
I liked this strange, erotic look into the backstage lives of dancing doxies and their crazed, wasted lives. Although some of these girls are way past their prime they still look good in a g-string. These pathetic losers are all tied up in their own personal bondage ranging from drugs, unwanted pregnancies, aspirations of future glory or loving husbands to one solid, down home, deeply embedded case of total, unrestrained dumbass. The boys running the dance hall were most assuredly not members of the local church choir: in fact, the boss was one sweet Hitler. He kept his dancers under his thumb with a balance of cool and meanness designed to keep them filling he house and not making one of their own.
Von Ryan's Express (1965)
This train should have been derailed in the station
Who in the name of all that is holy came up with this puppy excrement? Who ever heard of a middle aged geezer flying missions against der fuerer? What was the purpose of mis-casting Frank Snotra as the smooth talking flyboy; because he was just as slick off camera? The POW's were out in a desert area but ol' brown eyes just had to don that leather jacket before he could even go to the latrine. If the Italians were as inept as this bunch, it's no wonder they had to bow out of the war early. Out of all the phony 'excitement' shoveled up in this mess, I gotta say the kraut troop train that stopped on a dime after noticing the missing rail was my best belly laugh. Even on a boring rainy afternoon you'd be ahead picking up a good novel over viewing this drivel. Thumbs down.
Big city beckons to country lad
Don't know how the hot headed Hemmingway felt about this makeover of his book but I sure liked it. The likable Beymer was just right as the backwoods 19 year old eager to leave the lakeside cabin and taste the world. Finally he makes his plunge and, after almost calling it quits, makes it to the big apple while meeting several interesting characters along the way. His visions of the 'new world' didn't pan out as he had dreamed and he winds up involved in a world war. This was the pivotal event which caused the boy to become a man giving him the underpinning to take on a life formerly denied because of inexperience. As always, it was fun seeing some of the old, familiar faces again. 5 stars.
The Limey (1999)
To kill or not to kill
You gotta love the limey because he has a mindset that allows no gray area to infiltrate his thinking. Either he gets his wishes or you get a throttling or a gut full of lead. All the bloodletting was possibly unnecessary because what Wilson really wanted was to be informed of the nature of his daughter's death. As he told the DEA supervisor, "after a while, you can just let things go: prison teaches you that." On the other hand, Wilson was a testosterone filled missile with a guidance system made in hell; unpredictable to say the least. He wavered back and forth between a seriously questioning senior citizen and a swaggering Cockney street punk totally capable of capping several tough guys without a change of expression. Fonda was good as the high living record exec caught in a web of danger because of his inability to manage his life. The bit with the dialogue overriding other sequences of the film was a bit offputting but this was still a nicely done little package.
What was with the crop flattening?
If the aliens were so intent on offing the ex-priest and his brood why not just smoke them and go back to Planet X? Instead they hang around running across his roof, killing the dog, stomping his corn down, then trashing his home. How could these beings come here from 900 zillion lights years away and be unable to work a simple door latch? Couldn't they point a laser beam and cut the hinges? Just wondering. I actually enjoyed the film after putting off watching it for months, figuring it to be another "Alien", a movie I detested. I especially appreciated the finale as the ex-priest comes face to face with his lack of spiritual principles. Seems as though these downfallen zealots are nearly always Catholic.
Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
Hooligans ride their boards to.....where?
A group of teen-age punks with a burning need to ride a piece of wood with wheels run rampant through L.A. They let nothing get in the way of their "sport" which consisted of whizzing around on their boards getting low and grabbing air. Many of these kids came from broken homes and, having no supervision at all, were turned loose to waste their lives 'sidewalk surfing' while harassing others who came into contact with them. Some of these little thugs grew up and did alright; others formed their own broken homes, giving life to a new generation of castoffs, while one did a stint in the pen. Excellent documentary showing how lives can become a disaster when parents show no interest.
The Big One (1997)
But I thought my company would take care of me!
Very good documentary on the uncaring greed of corporate Amerika. I was, as usual, vastly amused by the corporate "whores" who went scampering for the shadows when Moore turned his light on them. Many wouldn't even let him stay in the lobby. These little weasel butt kissers will someday, if there is any justice, feel the unemployment boot crunching down on their own pathetic, fearful little craniums. Amazing how some folks can downsize their brains into feeling "my company" is always right: they need to stop genuflecting at the alter of this false god and wake up to a world of charity for their fellow man. I've been watching Moore for a while, and I don't always agree with him, but I feel he is dead on in his indictment of American conglomerates and their villainous leaders. The reply of Nike's CEO to Moore's question about his employees in the far east was telling indeed: "I don't care." Chilling.
Kind hearted liberal thinks he can reform criminals
Well, Murray Hamilton once again proves he is the champ at playing the obnoxious, arrogant ass who has to prove he is the lord and master over his domain. Really enjoyed this one; it had the look and feel of an actual prison; not a place for any human being to be forced to reside in. I doubt than any real warden would come into a prison exactly this way but it did make the picture more exciting. Brubaker had some good ideas and, left along, could have most likely turned this hellhole around. Unfortunately, greed, arrogance, personal agendas, and indifference are the rule of the day in jails as well as the corporate prisons most of us are serving time in every day. 4 stars.
This explains why there is no trust in the world
Excellent documentary dealing with a almost likable used car pitchman, his sidekick Mud, a glum disk jockey, and a host of car salesmen. I refuse to buy a car from a lot just because of the phony "smiling faces" which were represented here in abundance. These salesmen all were adept at saying one thing while plotting how to run a game on the buyer. A game in which the dice were loaded heavily in favor of the dealership, of course. The Slasher claimed he never lies to a buyer, yet in reality the entire shell game he is running is based on a layer cake of sweet sounding half truths, deceptive number crunching, and a sham facade of glib friendliness hiding a hideous mask of evil greed. It was sad to see easily swayed folks wanting to believe they were getting a good car for $88, but what may have been even more grievous was the toll on the Slasher himself; not to mention his cronies. One simply cannot build a fruitful life leading into a pleasant future while deceiving not only his customers but himself with shady business practices. I feel that goes doubly for the "dollar is God" money men who hired this hyperactive, miserably unhappy 'whore' to do the dirty work they were unable to do themselves.
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Carrey does it again
Well, was Morgan Freeman any more unusual as God than George Burns? This film sure was better than that bore, "Oh, God". I was totally engrossed and LMAO all the way through. Carrey was perfect as the out of sorts anchorman wannabe, and Aniston carried off her part as the frustrated girlfriend in her usual well played performance. I, for one, don't consider her to be either ugly or untalented. I think my favorite scene was when Carrey opened up the file cabinet thinking it could never hold his life history. See if you can spot the file in the cabinet that holds the events of his bathroom humor: I was rolling over this one. Well written and even better played out, this comedy will go down as one of this funnyman's best.