Reviews

183 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Sex and the City (1998–2004)
Every ep, gets a little weaker.. .. ..
2 June 1999
Start with a brilliant book by Candace Bushnell, recreate it virtually verbatim in 6 half-hour episodes, and you have an inventive, hilarious comedy. But, once you've exhausted all the clever anecdotes, the curiously comedic character traits of the principals, where do you go?

DOWN, I guess is the only answer, or at least it is here. I give Darren Star (of Melrose Place) credit for bringing S&TC to the tube. But the second six episodes of this comedy's first season were at best rivals to such mundane and idiotic fare as "Who's the Boss" and "Full House", with added profanity and sexual situations.

Early looks at season two only support the idea that this series is in a death spiral. My guess is the line between very clever and ludicrous is a fine one indeed.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Jagged Edge (1985)
The script that made Joe Eszterhas famous.
2 June 1999
Forget Showgirls and Sliver, and Flashdance, and Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge gave Big Joe his bones, his legitimacy.

A good suspenseful thriller, a bit dated, a trifle cliché (the suspect's wife had been sleeping with the country-club tennis pro, of all things), but well-paced, and well-acted.

Glenn Close takes her place in rarefied air here, the strong, but attractive adult female lead. An air uninhabited in film throughout the 90s..Susan Sarandon may try best to fill this spot, but she is nowhere near the attractive, desirable lead that Close was during this period.

Beautiful Bay-area landscapes only add to the overall package.

I wouldn't rate this high in the genre, but I see absolutely no reason to diss it either.

A solid overall effort.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Easy Money (1983)
The best Rodney Dangerfield movie. Really.
2 June 1999
Not a single classless cliché has been omitted from this all-time comedy classic. From the lime-green and lavender wedding gowns and the magic fingers bed assist, to the all timer, the "Regular Guy Look", Easy Money just keeps coming at you with one hilarious situation, another memorable line after another.

Joe Pesci brings just as much to the table as Rodney here alternately feeding, then stealing the yucks. And Jeffrey Jones plays the perfect foil-the genesis of his famous Dean Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Add Taylor Negron and Tom Noonan, not to mention Jennifer Jason Leigh and you have some serious talent working hard for the money.

And they're so good, they make it look easy.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Ms .45 (1981)
Super-duper.
2 June 1999
But only for the fan of the off-beat, this early Abel Ferrara flic hits all the right (wrong) spots. The premise is strictly mainstream(not): young mute woman gets raped TWICE in one afternoon, then decides to take out her revenge on every man (and dog) in sight.

I don't look for a Ron Howard re-make anytime in the near future.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Oooh. Time has not been kind to this stinker.
23 May 1999
In watching Presumed Innocent again, not even 10 years after it's initial release, a movie starring a man who is still arguably the biggest male star in movies, I am surprised at how weak it is, how dated, how pale a presentation.

Now I'll admit I'm no Alan Pakula fan, but he really outdid himself here. My biggest gripe could well be the horrendous production design-canned interiors matched with poor wardrobe-but the failures in this area are so overshadowed by its totally inept casting: the film reeks from the weak portrayals.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Gettysburg (1993)
Learn more about the Civil War than you ever knew.
7 May 1999
Wonderful depiction of the events leading to a pivotal battle of the Civil War, the battle of Gettysburg, with a focus on 3 key individuals: Confederate General Robert E. Lee (played brilliantly by Martin Sheen), Lee's second, Lt. General James Longstreet (Tom Berenger), and Union Col Joshua Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels).

Truly classic storytelling beautifully presented. Each key event is intelligently and gently depicted leaving little of the battles, the personalities, and the actions to be misunderstood. I felt much closer to the unfortunate events that were our Civil War than I ever imagined. I don't consider myself ignorant as a rule, but to tell the truth I never envisioned that the battles were basically fought hand-to-hand, face-to-face, long lines of fighting men falling, almost randomly, on both sides.

This movie, along with John Frankenheimer's "Andersonville" jump-started a serious interest for me in these historical docudramas, and the Civil War in particular. Thank you Mr. Frankenheimer, and Mr. Ronald Maxwell (director of "Gettysburg").
28 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Governess (1998)
Starts slow, then comes to a complete stop.
6 May 1999
Minnie Driver is horribly miscast as the lead in this film, in as much as her on-screen appearance is neither friendly, nor inviting (in the future she should also shy away from anything that involves her getting 'wet' argh!-I can't Even imagine watching "Hard Rain"). As the Annabella Sciorras, and the Emma Thompsons before her, Ms. Driver will have to quickly accept the fact that she has little to offer in a role that is supposed to 'carry' a film. She just has not the acting skills, nor the on-screen magic that someone like Kate Winslet or Gwyneth Paltrow has, nor has she the energy or effervescence that, say Rose McGowan has.

I grabbed the film for Tom Wilkinson anyway, having recently become quite the fan of this British J.T. Walsh. A wonderful character actor who has raised his profile in the US significantly of late with appearances in "Shakespeare in Love", "The Full Monty", and "Sense and Sensibility".

The story fails even the Driver-factor, ambling on like one of those scripts developed in a screen-writing class: 'who has an idea?' 'how about a young Jewess loses her money and has to take on work in Scotland in the 1800s' 'good, but we need some conflict in the first act'.'maybe she falls for the master of the house, but the son has eyes for her as well'.'good'.you know the rest.

And it goes from bad to worse. It's impossible to complete this puzzle with so many ill-fitting pieces.
0 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Deep Impact (1998)
Formula action piece maintains interest, barely.
6 May 1999
Some feel the action picture of the 1980's is now going the way of "classic rock" music and I tend to agree. "Deep Impact" tries hard to recreate many of the steps to failure to which we've become accustomed as this genre develops (and plays out) in the late 1990's. When your lead character's parents have good-sized speaking parts, and they are played by once-high-profile, and now grist mill fodder such as Maximilian Schell and Vanessa Redgrave you may want to start to worry (although I'll admit Schell did have a great turn in "The Freshman"(1990)). I mean what, if any value could these 'parents' play in the story? It's fairly easy to predict that our main character will be 'flawed' but can't he just hit the bottle, or just show some irregular sociopathic behavior? Could I really care about his (her) relation ship with mommy and daddy? Just pour some more eFx on top if you please.

Perhaps scripters Bruce Joel Rubin (My Life) and Michel Tolkin (The Player), neither of whom have ever had the word 'action' associated with their writing offer a freshness with their script. Preferring not to depend on a lead role, "Deep Impact" is entirely story-driven--thankfully, since every time Tea Leoni takes the screen I get that 'fingernails on the chalkboard' feeling-can you say "Flirting With Disaster"?.

Have seen the film twice now, and must say I found it perfectly agreeable although, aside from the 'comet to hit earth--rescue mission engaged--will the world survive?' normal story progression, I have no idea really what the dang thing was about.

Maybe it's all the well.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Normal Life (1996)
Embarrassing.
6 May 1999
More often than not, an early title card that reads "inspired by a true story" translates to a film maker's apology for what is going to be an embarrassing work. And electronic titles as well, the cheapest possible-cheap like they use for the late-night cable movies suggests this project was scrapped-pieces pasted together into something presentable, but hardly watchable.

And when you're right, you're right.

Good, lonely boy meets bad, bad girl, in a bad, bad, bad, movie

It seems inappropriate to criticize the actors, as I can't imagine there was even a script. Every scene seems to be a series of bad improvs, almost amateurish audition pieces. I was a John McNaughton fan based on his first feature: "Henry:Portrait of a Serial Killer", a low budget, but high-energy, inventive piece of film making. But this mess is only familiar to that film as regards overall production value.

By my count this makes 5 movies in a row where the high point of Ashley Judd's performance seems to be her undressing and /or use of dirty language. This list includes her role as the young Norma Jean Baker (Marilyn Monroe). Maybe a case of life imitates art?
3 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Nico Icon (1995)
Don't waste your time.
6 May 1999
Came to this film, with a few good recommendations, but no knowledge at all about the woman, Christa Paffgen (NICO) about whom this documentary is based.

NICO, a young German woman, model, created an image in conjunction with Andy Warhol and his group as an asexual junkie. As a biography, the film is weak, short on information, with a limited and jaded perspective.

As a tribute, it fails miserably. I'm still uncertain where ICON fits in the whole picture aside from looking good in the title. There is little substance in the film to suggest she 'earned' any sort of recognition, stature, or approval from anyone but miscreants and lost souls. From my vantagepoint her life seems little different than many misguided college youth who gave up their lives to confusion and drugs, far too early. It's a tragic tale, I guess, but far from distinctive.

The whole deal is some sort of inside joke and I sit outside, unfortunately--maybe it all got lost in the translation.
2 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The story of a man too smart for everybody's good.
6 May 1999
Brilliant storytelling (almost fable-like original novel by Paul Theroux) highlights this underrated film of a man's quest for -God only knows.

Idealistic inventor Allie Fox (Harrison Ford) packs up the wife and kids, and heads off to the deep part of the Central American jungle, with an ice-making machine, no less.

A man of unquenchable thirst, Fox's obsessive, driving quest destroys not only himself and his family, but all that surrounds him as well. There can be no satisfaction in his world, no accomplishment, no salvation.

Saul Zaentz (English Patient) produced and Peter Weir (Truman Show) directed, this Paul Schrader script. That's a good enough reason to suggest right here, but Ford is brilliant as he turns from idealistic inventor to self-described deity.

Beautiful jungle landscapes only add to the experience.

But the moral to the story is?
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Beauty, romance, history--all finely arranged and superbly presented.
2 May 1999
Before there was Shakespeare in Love, there was Dangerous Beauty, a costume drama, a wonderful tale, a tragic love story. Brilliant, beautiful, and breathtaking.

I was not previously familiar with the book 'The Honest Courtesan" from which the film was based, but my assumption is that the film is in most part based on fact. Another in the fine group of films from Ed Zwick/Marshall Herskovitz, a pair who's trendy and mainstream prime time soap "Thirtysomething" seems a distant memory as titles like this one, "Glory", and "Courage Under Fire" carry their banner.

Caroline McCormack is certainly going to be a huge star. She truly has the combination of beauty and intelligence that is so rare, and so valuable in film. From "Braveheart" to "Dangerous Beauty" and beyond-her future success seems destined.

Films can be many things to many people, and some will choose to make social commentary, or possibly discount authenticity when looking at a film such as this. I prefer to let the beautiful images and wonderful love story engulf me and leave the microscopic inspection to another forum.

To each his own, to me a wonderful movie going experience.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Wonderful possibilities, strong cast, disappointing failure.
1 May 1999
Great cast, including E.G. Marshall in a reprise of his role in the 60's TV series, John Laroquette, Beau Bridges, Mark Blum, good premise, familiar territory--more than enough for a good-ole courtroom whodunit.

But this presentation begins to unnerve almost immediately. Martha Plimpton's upstart young attorney is so annoying, it throws the whole meter of the drama off the rails, time after time.

Her dialogue is so trite, so predictable, that it gives the viewer absolutely no room to let her character provide the conflict that's necessary to give the story some depth. Her delivery is so harsh you almost reach for the volume-down button every time she speaks.

Lack of subtlety, in the story, and the dialogue are really the major culprits, Even the scenes without Plimpton are cliché, and heavy-handed. Plimpton's performance is merely the cherry on top.

It's a real shame.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Don King: Only in America (1997 TV Movie)
Ving Rhames is the champ, Don King nothing but chump.
30 April 1999
Don King is a self-promoter the likes that few have seen in our lifetime. This film takes a novel approach to telling the King story, blowing KING up into as big a buffoon as possible, and using King himself (actor Ving Rhames) in telling the tale. I give director John Herzfeld credit-it's a novel and appropriate approach to the biography of a man who truly is more caricature than real.

Rhames gives an inspired and convincing performance as King, breathing much life into a film from a book that was for all practical purposes stillborn.

Enjoy the movie for Rhames and pay little attention to the details.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dark City (1998)
Dark City = Bright Spot
30 April 1999
This is likely what the makers of BATMAN envisioned, but missed. Had BATMAN, from a style standpoint, been the 'one small step for film' then Dark City is the 'one giant leap for film kind'. It is superb at translating theme through the use of the moody visuals and music. A heady approach to the future of filmmaking.

Think L.A. Confidential goes to Gotham City, and you have all you need to know to sit back and let this visionary piece of work wash over you.

I'll be the first to admit all the nay-saying I did in the theatres playing the Dark City trailers, but I gladly eat my words and look forward to seeing another like this from Mr. Proyas.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I'm not laughing AT it. I'm laughing WITH it.
30 April 1999
This deal is a bigger mistake than usual. I mean it starts with Henry Czerny delivering the famous 'Good Morning Mr. Phelps' line. Are you kidding me? Henry Czerny? (and I like Henry Czerny!) It is blasphemy of the highest order. Maybe Fran Drescher will be available for the sequel.

On to our 'hero'-his name is Ethan Hunt. All the on-screen presence of Ethan Hawke, plus all the machismo of Helen Hunt. Now I don't know how many focus groups it took to come up with it, but every time Mr. Cruise's on-screen monniker was spoken throughout the film, I couldn't help but think I was either at a polo match or a drug-anon meeting.

A superb cast. Emmanuelle Beart-wasted, Jean Reno-wasted, Kristin Scott Thomas, Henry Czerny, Ving Rhames, Jon Voight-wasted, wasted, wasted, and wasted. Dale Dye even gets a chance to make a less than meaningful impression.

I can't agree that the story was confusing--it was just plain stupid. David Koepp should've done better-although sadly (without giant dinosaurs) this might just be his best , and Steven Zaillian, a true talent should be ashamed.

An out and out embarrassment at every level.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Forget the flirting…
30 April 1999
After seeing an interview with Mary Tyler Moore shortly before the release of this film, I knew this was one film I might want to watch--never. She was literally gushing about a possible resurgence of her career, possibly as a mature sex symbol. But I decided not to overly prejudge based on that one extremely scary thought, so I went to the filmography: Ben Stiller in the lead (ouch), Tea Leoni (argh-thankfully not above the title), directed by David O. Russell (it just gets worse and worse).

Nothing aof any note yet, let's get to the film. Neuroses, uncertainty, more neuroses--support bra humor, vomit humor incessantly crying baby humor. (add Tea Leoni-interruptus). It's like a bad Neil Simon play (that being worse than a regular Neil Simon play).

Sorry kids, but enough is enough. Not even funny in a 15-year old's dreams.

Total elapsed viewing time 11 minutes and 30 seconds.

Alternate title suggestions: Clear and Present Disaster, The Towering Disaster, The Poseidon Disaster, Disaster 1996, Spanking the Disaster, Disaster in Yonkers, Mad About You (whoops already taken by a similar attempt at dysfunctional, neurotic coupled-comedy).
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Tuskegee Airmen (1995 TV Movie)
HBO upholds its role as educator.
30 April 1999
I love these World War II docu-dramas, and no one does them better than HBO. They take an important, but little known piece of the war, the focus on an individual, a group, or an action, where heroism, personal fortitude, or some other extremely admirable qualities have prevailed, but sadly overlooked, and build a story around the theme.

They get some great actors, many who have some sort of direct or distant connection to the cause, to contribute. The Tuskegee Airmen loads Larry Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr., Courtney B. Vance, Allen Payne, Malcolm Jamal Warner, and Andre Braugher all onto the same plate, and there's plenty of room for great performances from each of them.

The story is a little predictable, a little melodramatic, but no less inspirational.

After you see Tuskegee Airmen check out another HBO movie in this vain (Against the Wall, Rat Pack, Stalin, And the Band Played On, Citizen X, Gotti, Indictment:The McMartin Trial, When Trumpets Fade are some examples), it's educational, and tonic for your soul.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Klute (1971)
Keeps trying, but never makes it.
30 April 1999
I've never liked Alan Pakula movies, never, not even one. The best I can offer is indifference to titles like "Presumed Innocent" and "All the President's Men" two of the absolute BIGGEST books, turned into ordinary films. For my money he's a director that starts with a 'sure thing' book or script, then by the time he's done it is something less. Often times dramatically so.

Klute is a movie that in time and tone is similar to Coppola's 'The Conversation' but where "The Conversation" tends to be mysterious, subversive, this film is vacant. It simply lacks the invention and backbone.

Jane Fonda's Academy Award performance in this movie, is probably the best of her career, but although informative, is, like many of her performances, emotionless. Donald Sutherland's job is merely to stand in the center, while Fonda dances around him, and he does that well enough.

This attempt at a psychological thriller is mindless.
1 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dead Calm (1989)
But what if you really don't care anything about boats?
29 April 1999
Dead Calm is one of those movies that many have told me they liked, yet I have never really gotten into it. Maybe under one circumstance or another I've started watching it, or had an opportunity (maybe its coming on HBO in 20 minutes?) But just never got far past the opening.

So I finally sit down in front of it for 96 mins. I guess it tries hard to be a serious thriller, yet I can't take anything very seriously on a sailboat in the middle of nowhere. Phillip Noyce directed it, and, besides the two Jack Ryan movies he directed, he's made a couple of seriously flawed films (The Saint, Sliver). Maybe this movie takes itself a little too seriously.

I far prefer a campier version, like Kill Cruise (with Jurgen Prochnow, Jennifer Rubin, and Patsy Kensit) There the captain is a drunk, and his two passengers are the lowest form of party girls. When the crap starts to hit the fan there, you expect it. You've waited for it. You want it. You love it.

Here it's hard to imagine why Nicole Kidman didn't just kill Billy Zane any of the 1st 50 or so opportunities she had. The sort of needless and forced tension her hesitancy produces tends to lose my interest quickly. In the film's so called climax, she performs the Herculean task of driving the boat, and shining the light, and pulling her husband-200lbs of wet, exhausted man-to safety from a fast-moving boat. Yet in the film's opening she can't drive and talk at the same time without causing a fatal accident.

One man's irony is another's idiocy.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The definitive chronicle of the American Space Program.
27 April 1999
Until the movie Apollo 13 came to the screen, many were unaware, or had forgotten of that event, or of the many facets, the visions, the energies that made up the American Space program in the 1960s. A program with a dictate set forth by President Kennedy: to get men to the moon, and return, safely, before the end of the decade.

This 12-hour (12 x one-hour segments) tribute is the personal mission of two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks, a man with a childhood love for the astronauts and the space program, and a man with enough clout to get this big-budget extravaganza made.

Each segment is in and of itself a story, each with a different point-of-view on the major aspects of the program. Certainly the main events-the first manned flight, the Apollo 1 fire, the lunar landing, the Apollo 13 emergency, are all there. But quite differently than what we've seen previously, here we have an opportunity to relive much of the day-to-day, aspects-the politics, the personalities, the emotions, of many, many of the key individuals. The astronauts, the engineers, the administrators, the news people, the wives-they all get wonderfully recognized.

Since I'm about the same age as Mr. Hanks, I admit to being a space freak myself as a youngster-at the time these events actually happened. At that time I waited every week, for Time, Newsweek and Life magazine to give me the pictures, and accounts of the activity at NASA.

It's oh so appropriate to have this wonderful tribute to this important piece of American history.
33 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Better than surprisingly good.
25 April 1999
Two great actors (Ben Kingsley, Donald Sutherland) and one really good one (Aidan Quinn) give superb performances in this tight as a string thriller involving spies, lies, and the one and only CARLOS.

CIA man Jack Shaw (Sutherland) masterminds a plot to get Carlos, once and for all, when he stumbles upon Annabel Ramirez (Quinn) a Navy officer and a dead ringer for the Jackal.

Absolutely non-stop action and suspense, this thriller never telegraphs its punches, twisting and turning over and over.

Highest recommendation.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Infiltrator (1995 TV Movie)
Passionate true account of journalist turned Nazi-Hunter.
25 April 1999
Based on the true story of Yaron Svoray, an Israeli freelance reporter living in the US. "The Infiltrator" recounts Svoray's infiltration of Nazi-sympathizers in Germany and beyond.

Oliver Platt plays Svoray, and does a good job in a very serious role. But Svoray's self-imposed mission, with the cooperation and support of the Wiesenthal Center is a Bunyonesques task, and, he is somewhat ill-equipped. If the film initially is to show us how direct exposure to the atrocities of Nazism might fuel unbridled fire within a person, Jewish or otherwise, then it fails in act one.

It's exposition regarding the state of Nazism today, is important, somewhat startling, and much more dramatic. That a Jewish reporter could infiltrate this infra-structure is somewhat unbelievable, but it serves to validate Svoray's passion.

All in all, the film struggles in no-man's land between documentary and thriller, battling to fill time between real life events. Curiously, actor Arliss Howard takes a major role as an Israeli agent-he will go on to play Mossad operative Peter Malkin in the bio-pic 'The Man Who Captured Eichmann (1996)".

Svoray's story is compelling, sadly the film gives us a less than satisfying conclusion. A worthwhile watch, nonetheless.
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Klute (1971)
Keeps trying to the end, but never makes it.
24 April 1999
I've never liked Alan Pakula movies, never, not even one. The best I can offer is indifference to titles like `Presumed Innocent' and `All the President's Men' two of the absolute BIGGEST books, turned into ordinary films. For my money he's a director that starts with a ‘sure thing' book or script, then by the time he's done it is something less. Often times dramatically so.

Klute is a movie that in time and tone is similar to Coppola's ‘The Conversation' but where `The Conversation' tends to be mysterious, subversive, this film is vacant. It simply lacks the invention and backbone.

Jane Fonda's Academy Award performance here, is probably the best of her career, but although informative, is, like many of her performances, emotionless. Donald Sutherland's job is merely to stand in the center, while Fonda dances around him, and he does that well enough.

In the hands of another, this might have been an action thriller, though unnecessary. Pakula's attempt at a psychological thriller is mindless.
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Break (1997)
Sometimes you gotta take it with you.
22 April 1999
Seems when a movie starts with a prison break, the story predictably goes in one of two directions. (1) Our protagonist has a big score already planned, and all the resources are at his fingertips. He's upbeat and optimistic. The air of freedom, albeit temporary, smells good. Or, (2) He looks toward a redemptive arc. Probably he finds a good woman in the most unlikely of places, and strives to go, with her, toward a better end. He will meet with some success, only to find a prohibitive obstacle in his path. I mean we can't let a guy escape from prison and get away clean, can we?

In ‘The Break' (USA title) Stephen Rea again does a masterful job of underplaying the character of Sean Dowd, trying option #2 on for size. He breaks out of an Irish prison, then relocates to New York, where he works in an obscure restaurant washing dishes.

The story then follows a rather predictable path, with a somewhat surprising ending. Director Roger Dornhelm does a good job keeping the film on track.

Overall a solid thriller.
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.