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Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
The truth really hurts...
From the opening credits, the audience knew something big was unfolding. As the cast of characters (George W., Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powel, Rice and a disgusting Wolfowitz [sp?]) prepared for their "roles," a sinking feeling took hold of my gut. I was about to see what the failed administration (and irresponsible media) had been hiding (or maybe just withholding) for three years. The cost of war can be calculated in the haves and the have-mores (Bush's words, not mine), dead babies, mutilated American soldiers, beheadings and many, many, many destroyed lives. And Bush has many friends with their fingers moving feverishly over the calculator ringing up profits from this quagmire. These are the same folks who beat their chests to the Star Spangled Banner and constantly refer to the bravery of the soldiers (the same soldiers who ironically make it possible for these folks to cash in). Anyone can wave the flag and spout on about liberty, freedom and the importance of defending these rights. But it took a true blue American to rip the sheep's clothing from these wolves misleading the American people. Thank you, Mr. Moore, for proving to the world how dangerous Bush and Co. truly are. Every patriot must know this and make it a No. 1 priority to pile-drive him from his throne.
Helter Skelter (2004)
too tame TV movie
I got about halfway through this contrived, reserved flick before I began nodding off. By not seeing the murders inside the Tate estate (only photo negative flashes), I felt little disgust for a very disgusting crime. I didn't need to see every gory detail, but by not showing anything (not even the blood smeared "Helter Skelter" upon the wall), the audience never got the full effect of the slaughter. Master directors and screenwriters can elicit gore without showing it (Carpenter, Hitchcock). But this true-crime light never appeals to the audience's imagination or emotion. This was not an accurate portrayal of what really went down that August 1969 night on Cielo Ave. Instead, this was an obvious all-holds-barred TV movie of the week. The original 1976 feature was much more frightening.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
More rip-off than remake
Being a huge fan of Romero's original, I couldn't wait to see an updated version of the movie that haunted my teen years. I even was all ready to get advanced tix for the opening day. But after seeing the film's first 10 minutes on the USA network, I became less than enthused. And after seeing the rest of the movie, I feel more than cheated. This version is more like a rip-off of 28 Days Later than a remake of the original Dawn. The sluggish, dreamlike movements of the zombies are replaced with the jerky, rabid sprint that rendered 28 Days refreshing and original. This lame "remake" even stole the staccato camera style of 28 Days. Of course, the plot is laughable (not in an ironic way either) and the characters half dimensional - but what really ruined this flick is its utter disregard to its original material. The CGI peppered throughout also prove that nothing can beat the low-budget creepiness created by good old Karo syrup, red food color and overcooked pasta (see brains and intestines). At best, this is an above-ground Resident Evil. 4 out of 10.
Performance of the millennium
If for no other reason than to witness acting magic, see Monster. I have never been a huge fan of Ms. Theron's (she was slightly amusing in Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Celebrity), but this isn't Theron per se. Instead, the actress becomes female serial killer Wuornos - an external and internal transformation that is arresting, haunting and beautiful in its art and craft. I can't remember a better performance that continually grabs the audience by the lapels and elicits both shock and sympathy all in the same moment. The supporting performances are fine (Ricci passes in a complex and demanding role). But Theron's turn made me more than once wonder if this were a Hollywood movie or a riveting A&E documentary.
Mystic River (2003)
Overwritten, over-directed, over-acted and overblown. Much of this (yes) overhyped drama runs head-on into thematic roadblocks or just peters off in some wayward direction. Fishburn's character only serves as a sounding board for Kevin Bacon's underbaked detective, then he just disappears with no explanation. And Bacon's "wife"? We only see the lower half of her face as she "speaks" to him in a phone. This subplot was a complete deadend and had many in the audience scratching their heads. Sean Penn gets my vote for overacting award of the year. Some were giggling during his so-called dramatic moments. But the film's biggest problem is its overall message: that humanity stops after being sexually assaulted and that murdering these victims is warranted - or should have no consequences. AND somebody please inform Eastwood that not all gay men are sissy stereotypes or child molesters. A very irresponsible film - and boring in many scenes.
Bringing Down the House (2003)
Bringing Down My IQ
What a waste. Four and a half minutes of funny material does not a comedy movie make. While watching this one-trick pony, I felt the black movement had been set back by 30 years. How could the talented royal Ms. Latifah stoop to this low? If you get a kick out of seeing bleached white Republicans try to speak ebonics, this is right up your alley. For the other 64 percent of intelligent Americans, stay home and watch reruns of Diff'rent Strokes - it's much more progressive. I was actually waiting for the Queen to bulge her eyes out and exclaim, "What you talkin' about, Stevey?"
The Hours (2002)
best of '02 - despite its derivative source
This is the first film I've seen where the entire cast steals the show. I haven't read Mrs. Dalloway (or any Woolf book for that matter), nor could I suffer through the novel The Hours (and have no desire to after seeing this immaculate movie). I did, however, read 'Was,' which was published years before The Hours and the first book to weave the past with the present and fact with fiction into a yarn based on a literary masterwork (Was tackled imaginary and real events surrounding the 'Wizard of Oz'). Despite The Hours' (the novel) blatant rip off of the signature 'Was' structure, the film transcends the deriviative nature with seamless editing and some of the best acting ever preserved on celluloid. Even the mouthy servant deserves recognition. The best movie of 2002.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
the only joke's on you
The opposite of funny, this film is a cheap rip-off of 1977 TV's funny series, Soap. Gene Hackman is decent as a male counterpart to Katherine Helmond's more original matriarch, Jessica Tate. But the rest of the cast stumbles through this drivel, practically begging for laughs. Unfortunately, the only ones come at the audience's expense. Another lame installment in the much lacking American comedy diet.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
good movie, bad accent
A Beautiful Mind would have been flawless if not for one
inconsistenency: Russell Crowe's accent -- which is straight out
of the Mel Gibson School for Hunky Aussie Males Who Want to
Play Complex American Leads. To his credit, Crowe does pull off a
very complicated character -- but just barely. John Nash is U.S.
born and bred and never really strayed far from his W. Virginia
roots. So why did the filmmakers find it necessary to cast an
Australian lead? Yer guess is as g'das mine, mate. Granted,
Russell Crowe was awesome as the soft-spoken detective in L.A.
Confidential (keyword 'soft-spoken') and as the outspoken Roman
warrior in Gladiator, but as a complex leading man from a very
provincial area of the U.S., Crowe misses the mark at times. At
one point, I thought I was hearing Crocodile Dundee speaking at a
Princeton checker match. Where was Kevin Spacey when the
producers were casting Beautiful Mind? Kevin Kline? Or even Guy
Pearce -- who also is Australian but can affect a flawless U.S.
accent (ala Memento)? The best thing about the movie, other than
an amazing story about an amazing man, is Jennifer Connelly's
absolutely hands-down no-argument flawless performance as
Mrs. Nash. She even helps the audience forget the voice from
When will HW learn?
The movie pretty much ruined the good feeling I got from the book. The first three quarters of the HP was well-acted, well-directed and well-effected (sfx). The remaining fourth took a nose dive into cheap HW gimmicks and cheesy computer effects. The centaur (only one in the movie) looked so unreal and laughable, as did the finale with the two-faced Prof. Quirrel Overall: long, empty, disappointing.
Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Just when you thought you've seen everything celluloid. Along comes Bjork. She and the movie are mesmerizing. A perfect blend of music, humor and gut-wrenching drama. Did I say "Wow!" already? Dancer in the Dark isn't for everyone. Those people can rent Charlie's Angels.
Meet the Parents (2000)
Only laugh came when Pepsi shot from my friend's nostrils
What's up with the American public? No doubt we're starving for something, anything that smacks of entertainment. But this movie's lame premise, a male nurse meeting his 8-month girlfriend's parents, shouldn't warrant a No. 1 movie for many weeks. All the jokes in it are recycled from another better movie. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM! S*** being splattered onto an unwary family? Come on, Trainspotting did that four years ago and to a better comedic effect. MTP is a waste of time and money. Go see Best in Show again if you want new comedy.