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Sorceress (1987)
9/10
Sorceress's Magic
5 February 2005
This obscure, overlooked art-house film is a near masterpiece, full of strong acting, brilliant directing, and mythical continuity. Similar in theme to "Babette's Feast" and "Chocolat," it illustrates how the religious zealot is sometimes blinded to the true light of divinity in their search for a perfect, godly world. Tchéky Karyo gives a blazing performance as Etienne De Bourbon, full of passion and spite. Yet, it is the ensemble cast, along with beautiful scenery that makes this film so powerful. The story somewhat falls a bit too feminine, where there are only heroines, no heroes, other than the well meaning Vicar, who is more sympathetic to Elda's cause. Queue this one on Netflix!
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9/10
Illuminating the Soul
22 August 2004
Being neither a fan of Charlie Kaufman's work nor Jim Carrey's previous comic pratfalls, I met "Eternal Sunshine..." with the same reluctance of the main character meeting his soon-to-be, yet past girlfriend. Incredibly charming, witty, and powerfully surreal, the film succeeds in explaining that elusive, strange phenomena; dare we call it "fate?"

I'd call nearly half of it "Kate," in her best performance since "Titanic," she is as real as a rain soaked birthday party. What person wouldn't want to fight to not forget Winslet as Clementine? She may have a cyclonic temper, but she's a sweet and vibrant personality. She imprints herself on Carrey's Joel Barish so much that his own memory of her becomes a heroine to his invaded mind.

As for Jim Carrey, his own range of emotion, from rage to confusion to utter joy and contentment, adds a deft subtlety to a movie about great extremes. Such an impressive performance makes me want to go to the doctor to erase any preconceived notion about him.

Kaufman continues to point a frightened finger at those who take their lives like a grain of salt, easy to be thrown away or pulled like a bad tooth. Here, not as in "...Malkovich," is a message "eternally spotless:" Our memories and fantasies are what makes us human. No matter how painful they are, we should never throw them away.
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Lilo & Stitch (2002)
9/10
Oddly brilliant
22 August 2004
In a very strange twist, the story is "Dumbo" and "The Ugly Duckling," and a bit of "E.T." It's also just as pleasing as all those stories as well.

Lilo, a young native Hawaiian girl, who has been orphaned to all but her older sister, prays for an angel to come and to be her friend. At the same time, an alien mutant escapes from being locked up for his destructive tendencies. When the alien lands on Earth, Lilo mistakes him as a dog and adopts him, naming him Stitch.

While her older sister struggles to get employed, Lilo tries to get Stitch to become a model citizen using Elvis as the model of a fine citizen. But Stitch can't help but be himself, which means wreaking havoc on most everything!

Chris Sanders, animator and director of "Mulan" as well as the creator and voice of "Stitch" directs this movie to Disney Classic stardom. Sanders knows where to make it funny and where to make it touching, never skipping a beat.
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10/10
Lord of All Fantasy Movies
22 August 2004
The final 3 hours of this impeccable saga do not let up from the action, the story, nor the message. Here, Peter Jackson lovingly captures all of J. R. R. Tolkein's themes and brilliantly weaves them together for an apocalyptic finish to top of the two most brilliant fantasy features in cinematic history. "Return of the King" is alive not only with the jaw-dropping effects of WETA workshops, but the superb acting skills of Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Sean Aston, Elijah Wood, and Andy "Gollum" Serkis.

The begining of the film gives Serkis a well-deserved cameo after being behind the animation of Gollum. In a flashback, Serkis is brilliant as the dumb, and greedy river dweller who murders his own brother for the power of the ring; greatly foreshadowing the events to occur in the Crack of Doom.

Sean Aston takes the movie as Sam, who goes through all of fire and shadow, pain and passion to help his friend destroy the evil that has latched on to him. Samwise is like a Judas without flaw; we see him agonize over his actions, even as he is not guilty of any cruelty toward Frodo, but a victim of Gollum's madness.

John Noble's Denethor, vile Steward of Minas Tirith, and father to Boromir and Faramir, makes one's skin crawl with both disgust and anger. Arrogant and full of judgement and accusations, he seems the most evil without even carrying a ring!

Also, watch Miranda Otto's portrayal of Lady Eowyn as she and Merry slay the Nazguul witch-king. Her strength of character and sense of duty to her fallen king are breathtakingly played.

All Tolkein's storyline are brilliantly tied up. We see our heroes and heroines return or re-begin their lives.

Astonishingly beautiful filmmaking!
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9/10
Awesome
22 August 2004
I just watched this feature last night from my copy of "Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines," which is an excellent set with many cartoon shorts, educational films, and propaganda films that are unusual of Disney, but nonetheless retain the same feel as the ordinary Disney short.

Being a pacifist, I think that all people should try to understand warfare for what it is, but try to avoid jumping into war until it is absolutely necessary. WWII was indeed a necessary war to fight, and the film, though not specifically aimed to do so, makes this point very clear.

First, before getting directly into the battles, the film educates us on the history of flight. With cartoon humour and sight gags it comes off very entertaining.

Then, the film is turned over to Alexander de Seversky, author of the book on which the film is based. De Seversky makes a valid point that the war should be fought with an enlarged military air force as opposed to naval and land based tactics. He is made to be very informative and enjoyable to watch against the animated maps and diagrams created by Disney's finest animators.

Eerily, there is a link to the 9/11 happening in the idea de Seversky expresses that air power removes the lines between civilians and soldiers and puts the lives of any of us at risk. It is fortunate that he had not lived to see this sad day.
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Lunar: The Silver Star (1992 Video Game)
Brilliant Interactive Entertainment
18 August 2004
Originally playing this game on the Sega CD system, I was aware of the storyline, the characters, and the idea behind the beautiful musical world of Lunar. The PSX version only enhances it to a level of interactive brilliance.

We are invited to dream with a few cute kids of adventuring off in far lands. Alex, Luna, Ramus, and Nall (Alex's "flying cat.") set off on a mysterious journey to find their destinies call to them. But, the young love between our hero Alex and wise, but fragile Luna becomes tested. Is Luna's destiny somewhere adrift away beyond where Alex can go? Within a truly creative cutaway scene, Luna sings of the emptiness she feels inside and of the doom that is soon to approach. The scene is genius, recalling the quality of Disney storytelling.

With a cast of great characters, a very followable storyline, and the musical score being a treat unto itself, the World of Lunar breathes with music, magic, and fun.
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The Lion King (1994)
9/10
The Pridelands of Disney Feature Animation
17 August 2004
If Walt Disney himself had ever attempted an animated Hamlet, he wouldn't have gotten any better than The Lion King. Disney Feature Animation richly crafts a morality tale that doesn't seem preachy, yet tells us of how we are all connected in a greater "Circle of Life." A tour-de-force vocal cast includes the amazing voice of James Earl Jones, the ever so human voice of Matthew Broderick, the vicious, sarcastic and calculated voice of Jeremy Irons, and the humourous antics of Nathan Lane. A fantastic collaboration of superstar songwriter Elton John and veteran lyricist Tim Rice produces some great Disney tunes. With very likable heroes and villians, attention to mood and detail, and alive without missing a tribal beat of native Africa, The Lion King stands proudly and roars, loudly.

Enjoyed by both adult and child, alike, it clearly defines what was once great in animation. It is truly a masterpiece of filmmaking as well.
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9/10
She Wore Blue Velvet, Again
29 April 2002
Where, oh where is the identity of the amnesiac girl -- and does she really, really wish to know? Betty helps her, being a perky, ever so saccharine cuddly bunny friend. When the girls get too close, that's when Lynch's fires turn icy blue.

Right smack in the vein he started with Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, Lynch gives us nightmares of the corrupt heart of Tinseltown; sans the Black Lodges and Lumbertowns, he makes Hollywood into his own twisted backyard.

Don't veer away when you can't figure this one out. It will make sense near the end of the picture.
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Sunshine (1999)
10/10
Life vs. Politics
29 April 2002
An astounding film about a Hungarian family with the recipe for the spice of life, and how the changing times force them on both sides of political dogma to try and retain their pride. Ralph Fiennes is amazing, going from character to character in different times, showing emotional range, yet thematic continuity.
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8/10
Medium Popcorn, hold the scarabs, please.
5 February 2002
I said when I first heard about this movie: "That's gonna be so stupid." Maybe, it is somewhat of a dumb sequel. I mean, let's face it. There's no continuity, mythically, between the first film and second film. How is Imotep's soul freed from the clutches of almighty Ra in the first feature? And how is Anaksunamun resurrected without her "true soul?"

But, looky here, there's plenty of things happening to make you forget all that. And it's loaded like a pistol with the same campy, fast-paced humour, shooting sharp.
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8/10
Gryffindor 150, Muggle Director 0
21 December 2001
After reading a bit of the book, and being totally enthralled with Rowling's witty and silly sense of humour, I can see why some who are fans of the book can think Colombus's celluloid interpretation is a bit diluted. Nevertheless, there is no fault in watering down the hijinx and hilarity of the three Gryffindor adventurers. How many people would have stayed in the theater if the Hogwarts Sorting Hat had, as it did in the book, broken into a musical number?

Forget the campy effects and the somewhat messy directing. The movie belongs to the young actors, who deliver the cinematic snitch, and make Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger come alive with true magic.
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10/10
One movie to rule them all?
20 December 2001
When one takes a look back in movie history, the fantasy genre seems to be a few-and-far-between item, primarily because of the B-Movie stereotype to which they adhere. I can remember walking out of George Lucas's "Willow" and thinking it was a good fantasy film.

After seeing "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" I can without a doubt say that this film is the ultimate definitive fantasy film. Not only that though: From its talented cast of actors, to the inspired dialogue, and the jaw-dropping visual effects, Middle Earth, the grandfather of the fantasy genre, resides on celluloid with the dignity and scope only author Tolkien himself achieved with words.

Being a fan of the books and having read "Fellowship..." numerous times, as well as seeing other less adequate adaptations, Peter Jackson's adaptation is the closest, most comprehensive labour that could ever be filmed of the first book in the Ring epic.

Since "The Two Towers" and "Return of the King" were filmed with "Fellowship..." simultaneously, they must be incredible as well.
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10/10
Tragicomedy at its Best
10 July 2001
In a flood of fully corsetted period pieces by Merchant-Ivory, French Director/Producer Claude Berri gave us the sublime, poetic "Jean De Florette," along with its companion film "Manon des Sources." With humour and heartache, intrigue and passion, Berri weaves this morality tale of a city born hunchback and his quest to become a successful Provincial farmer. Gerard Depardieu acts with finesse along with the late Yves Montand, whose portrayal of "Papet" Cesar Soubeyran is astounding.
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9/10
Meow! Fsst! Fsst!
19 April 2001
Josie, Val, and Melody are "garage band" rockers from a small town with dreams of making it big. Purrrfectly acted -- respectfully -- by Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, and Tara Reid, the girls are handed their dreams way too easily by their "chance" meeting with Wyatt Frame (Alan Cummings, in another great comic role.)

Far more than being a mere retro toon remake film, though, it's an all-out nuclear warheaded cruise missle fired at the music industry commercialization machine. And BABOOM! It hits "Ground Zero" too well!!

From the parody of "BSB, Nsync, 98 Degrees, etc." group called "DuJour" to its subversive, albeit absurd plot, the picture blends its burlesqued wackiness with a touch of sweet realism, almost poetically. One never loses sight that the new "fab three" want to remain who they really feel they are inside, and that's what makes this film work.
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9/10
The Best Film of 2000
24 October 2000
Can an idea change the world? I believe so. But what if that idea has nothing to do with getting ahead in life, or coping with life? What if it was entirely altruistic?

That's the question in this wonderful film by Mimi Leder (Deep Impact). "The Sixth Sense's" brilliant young actor, Haley Joel Osment delivers another jaw-dropping performance as Trevor, the 11 year old visionary. For an extra credit assignment, Trevor devises a system where people "owe" other people favours. They "pay it forward" to the next three people (sorta ala Pyramid selling schemes.)

Oscar Winners Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt back the movie with fine acting as well.
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6/10
Rough Landing
17 October 2000
This somewhat tepid and quiet film follows three women from three different places, both socially and geographically, to a Dorset farm to work while the men who tend it go to fight in WWII. They gain each other's trust and experience the joy and pains of love.

McCormack (Braveheart) and Weisz (The Mummy) do well, but they both are wasted on a film only slightly better than dull.
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1/10
Isolationist Moaning Somehow called Comedy
17 October 2000
"Going All The Way" has that same problem I tend to encounter in lower budget films: the what-genre-is-this-really? problem.

By no means is this a comedy; it's drama -- or at least, it's a "comedy" that concentrates too much on being a very very upset film about an inwardly-angry main character, Sonny (Davies).

Sonny had just come back from the war, which might have been more pleasant for him than his regular life. On the way home he meets Gunner (Affleck), a fast-talking moving guy who wants to get real with his life.

Davies begins to get a taste of the good side of things -- namely sex -- but can't handle his own self during his moments of intimacy, which the filmmaker decides to illustrate in indulgent detail. We are trapped with Sonny in his psychosis.

Sound like comedy yet? I didn't get the joke.

"Going all the way" ... back to the video store for me!
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7/10
Weird Science
17 October 2000
"Man and woman against the world!!" Okay, maybe it has been done into the ground, and it is the basis of today's and yesterday's rehashed thriller. The welcome difference that "Chain Reaction" gives is in its cast.

Morgan Freeman, Keanu Reeves (who's at his best in action) and Rachel Weisz make this film much more engaging to watch than it should be. Reeves and Weisz look fine together as Eddie and Lily, respectively, who are two college students accused of murdering one of their colleagues and stealing their economically and ecologically-friendly fuel project. They must run from the Law AND those who have framed them, or are they the same people?

Good on action!
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Gladiator (2000)
9/10
Glad I saw it...
15 October 2000
What good is one man to an empire like the Roman Empire. Why should one man be important?

The Gladiator answers these questions fairly. With beautiful scope masterfully done by veteran director Ridley Scott, Gladiator forces us into the broken life of Maximus, played very well by Russell Crowe. A commander of the Roman Armies and a surrogate son to a dying Roman Emperor, Maximus just wants to return home. He has seen too much of war.

In his humility, he declines his dying Emperor's wishes for him to take the throne, and leaves the boon to the Emperor's spoiled rotten son, Commodus (of which Joaquin Phoenix gives a tour-de-force performance.)

Because of his jealousy over his father's love, Commodus is sick with envy over Maximus's importance. In his ignorance, he makes Maximus the main attraction of his new Collusium in Rome, where the warrior, now gladiator, must face death and thrill the crowds -- in turn, making him to be a legend beyond his own Imperial name.

With fine acting, a wonderful screenplay and excitement galore, this movie captivates.
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Sleepy Hollow (1999)
8/10
Lost in the Woods?
15 October 2000
Even in its thrills and direction by maturing (yet still somewhat the same) Tim Burton, somehow this film does define both "sleepy" and "hollow." Perhaps it is in the fact that it really isn't spooky enough. (Good thing for me -- I hate scary movies!)

It suffers from being way too forgetable, and from all the hard work involved, that's a legendary shame.
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9/10
Rock it does!
15 October 2000
I don't think I have ever seen a better performance out of "Ex-Not Ready For Prime Time Player" Bill Murray. Wow! His dramatic power as the vaudevillian Tommy Crickshaw, who will stoop for anything, is sensational!

But that's not all! Robbins directs his screenplay onto the screen like Rivera painting the Rockerfeller Center mural. He puts the gut passion of fear of Communism Era into a poignant, lyrical, beautiful pseudo-performance of the lost show, "Cradle Will Rock."

It's too much a thrill as Braveheart's Angus MacFadyen bombasts as a young Orson Welles determined to challenge the authority of the public and of society with the production of the play. We see a very willowy Emily Watson try her heart out to get a role in the play. We watch as Azaria exhumes Marc Blitzstein, describing the show to the producers. We feel the anticipation of a show that might not be put on -- might be closed down -- might be dangerous to even attempt to perform.

It's a no special effects spectacle. It's a true underdog winner! What a great movie!
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Fight Club (1999)
5/10
Keep your soap to yourself
15 October 2000
After viewing this film, I begin to wonder if the filmmakers want us to believe that every man wants to ultimately rebel and then flog themselves to near death for doing so. Evidently, they have that vision of despair; that lack of faith in humanity.

Perhaps some call it artistic expression, but pure cynical humour, to me, is self-indulgent garbage. All it does is propagate more confusion in a blatant refusal to understand.

Where Se7en had brilliance -- in the display of the seven deadly sins, the clarity of each character, the horror of the consequence of action -- Fight Club almost displays the horror of human life itself, and that's just plain bad art.

Yes, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are wonderful in it. But why are they in it?

If the filmmakers are so unhappy with themselves and humanity, they should at least give us a vision of how they feel things SHOULD be! Or let someone else get greenlighted that can at least appreciate something about humanity. Sell your soap somewhere else. I ain't buying it!
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Mystery Men (1999)
6/10
Close, but no cutlery
15 October 2000
With what seems to be one of the finest comic casts assembled of a 1999 season movie, Mystery Men seems to try to fly like a bird or a plane -- it's sad. Stiller, Garafalo, Macy, Azaria, and even Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) can help this dud film get off the ground.

It is quite a plus, though, to watch Greg Kinnear get fried. That was a sincere highlight for me!
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6/10
us using us
15 October 2000
Although brilliantly funny and wonderfully acted by the title character (actor/character -- we have no clue if he actually is himself anymore), this film deceives in being bitingly cynical. Are we, honestly, so obsessed with not being ourselves that we could stoop to stealing the identities of others -- FOR REAL? Maybe so, but should film be about dictating what life IS or what life could be?

I honestly have no pity nor sympathy for any of the characters in this film, perhaps not even Malkovich himself as he falls for the manipulative witch played by Keener. It is a puppet show of dark humour, and we the unsuspecting children are engaged to watch it.

The ending truly is the final straw, being absolutely disgusting.

Let's face it, though. It is popular to tell society that we are all perverted at heart, in some form or another. Most of us already know this fact. It's when we get past our repression and let ourselves be who we are that we might feel like we are truly worth our own lives, and therefore, in my opinion, worth celluloid.

"...Malkovich" just wallows in its shadowy tunnel.
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Aliens (1986)
9/10
Ripley is back with reinforcements
15 October 2000
James Cameron's wildly successful sequel to the brilliant shocker, Alien, is not to be discarded as most movie sequels tend to be. A very different film, Cameron gives us humans just a bit more of an advantage against the most loathsome creatures in the universe. Send in those Marines!

Ripley must go down to face her worst nightmares in order to rescue a surviving colonist, "Newt" played by the adorable Carrie Henn. Together, they face not just one -- but many of those horrifying demons of H. R. Giger's imagination, including the big bad mamma queen!

Michael Biehn plays a good guy (whew! -- I hate his villains!), and Bill Paxton blesses the screen (NOT!) with a quoteable "Game Over, Man!..."

But all jokes aside -- this film is pure entertainment! Here, Ripley shows her feminine brawn, and Weaver plays it to the max with finesse.
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