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Fright Night (2011)
excellent remake; so sad that it went down in such a spectacular fashion
28 September 2011
I finally got to see the remake of Fright Night. As a fan of the original who has seen it countless times since the 80s, I can wholeheartedly state that this new version is one of the best remakes I have ever seen.

The original story was brought wonderfully up to date. It was so clear that everything was deeply thought out. The original had a slight balance toward comedy. Here that balance is shifted a bit more towards the horror side so the film has a perfect mix of both elements in my opinion. It made me seriously tense and left me creeped out and this coming from someone who knows the flow of the main story by heart! Colin Farrell was in one word spectacular. Here is a vampire that really scares you underneath those extreme good looks, capable of turning out to be a ruthless monster in the blink of an eye. The violence by the way was pretty strong. I was positively surprised by the amount of gore for such a big budget studio production. And the 3D. I loved the 3D of the film. So subtle but at the same time as in your face as it gets when the scene necessitates it.

Which brings me to the unbelievable box office failure of this wonderful film Stateside. How did this happen? I will tell you. An unfortunate release at the tail end of the summer when in fact the film practically screams for a fall Halloween release date, coupled with two other 3D pictures (Conan the Barbarian and Spy Kids 4) at the same week not to mention another regular 2D release (One Day). They all died a quick death, with American audiences rejecting all four of them and flocking to a Southern anti-racist drama and an ape movie in huge numbers. I did not see the other 3 films as of today but I have to say that the flopping of Fright Night 2011 is one of the most unjust failures in the whole history of movies. The current 3D fatigue of Anmerican public was the main benefactor in this case. How else can you explain that all three of these 3D releases flopped in such a spectacular fashion during the same week? They clearly did not bother to make any distinction among the good and bad films that week and went with a to- hell-with-them-all attitude. Sorry but this I can not understand. Another thing I cannot understand is why this film was also practically ripped to pieces by professional critics and internet commentators unanimously. What's wrong with you guys? Is none of you able to spot a decently made gem of a film among all the family entertainment trash anymore? This film certainly did not deserve the fate it endured. I am soo sad about it all..

And one side note: meticulously analyzes and rates each 3D release regularly which greatly helps me when picking up what to watch in 3D. But in the case of Fright Night 2011, even that trusted site seems to have erred. At the time of the film's release in the US, the relevant article headed "Fright Night: To 3D or Not to 3D" specifically stated that the film was a terrible choice to be filmed in 3D since the many night scenes did not fare well in 3D mode because of the dimming of the projection light by the 3D glasses and that as a result it was impossible to see what was going on during most of the film's night scenes. Wroooooong! In the showing I attended at my local cinema, the film was very clear and there was absolutely nothing wrong with the dimness settings of the picture. The action was very clear to follow and at no point did I experience any difficulties regarding the 3D aspect of the film. So I am itching to ask: Could there possibly be something wrong with the projection settings of the films shown in the US theaters in general? American moviegoers seem to be really upset about these 3D projection issues for quite some time now and the whole thing now started to result in such box office anomalies as what was experienced by this unfortunate movie. Someone better do something Stateside about this whole issue or the future of 3D really is in trouble as regards the American market in my opinion since the notion of "3D" itself seems to have turned into box office poison as of late. Ooops!
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very fine drama; old style and that's why it is so appealing
20 April 2011
Water For Elephants got released here a full week ahead of the US and first let me indulge in the joy of being able to review such a highly anticipated film before my fellow American film-loving counterparts.

The film completely fulfilled my expectations. It is a well scripted, meticulously shot and finely acted period drama, the likes of which are increasingly less to come by at the movies these days. A big congratulations to all those involved with the production for having the confidence to delve into this venture. Actually I am very curious about its box-office. Last year was a surprisingly profitable year for adult dramas and if that is any indication, this fine film should continue the same trend.

Water For Elephants really impresses with the production design, atmosphere, costumes and stunts. Most of the time I felt like I was watching a classic film made during the studio era; it looked that authentic and faultless. The three main actors all seem satisfied for having such meaty parts and deliver more than satisfactory performances. Robert Pattinson shines and proves that he is capable as a serious actor. Reese Witherspoon has always been a true professional and here with her stunts demonstrates that again. She also fits surprisingly well to the 1930s platinum blonde beauty type. Christopher Waltz is a wonderful actor and here it becomes very clear that his success in Inglorious Basterds was not a one-off. The story is very emotional and while it touches the heart romantically, it also manages to lay down a heretofore unseen dark aspect of old era circus entertainment in particular and also crowd entertainment as a whole. I almost wished for a three hour epic after it ended; it left me wanting more. The whole thing was really interesting.

All in all a wonderful and deeply satisfying experience at the movies, well worth every dime. Go see it so that adult dramas of this caliber (in terms of star power, production budget and subsequent attention to detail) could continue to be made.
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The Tourist (2010)
definitely not the disaster you are led to believe it is
15 December 2010
Just over a month ago I finally took the time to see the French film Anthony Zimmer in order to be able to correctly review and evaluate its remake The Tourist when it would be released in cinemas. Now after having seen the remake I am completely astonished at how unnecessarily harsh its reviews are turning at to be.

For starters everyone seems to be obsessed with its Golden Globe nomination under the Comedy/Musical genre. Sorry folks, there is no mistake about that. The film is definitely a thriller with heavy comedic tones. Johnny Depp spends the whole film with a perpetual clueless expression on his face that leads the viewer towards comedic feel against which Angelina Jolie's mysterious aura is intentionally contrasted. Those easily judging the actress' performance as robotic and one-note seem to have missed the entire point of her character's function. The story is actually a complete gender reversal of Charade which was also classified as a comedic thriller the last time I checked so anyone not objecting towards that film's classification should also keep their mouth shut when it comes to The Tourist.

Antony Zimmer on the other hand is a totally different affair. The French original absolutely has no comedic approach to its dense crime story. It takes place under the bright sun of the French Riviera and has its protagonist on the run from the mob barefoot on the streets of Cannes in heavy sweat. Compare that scene with its leisurely equivalent in the remake this time taking place on the rooftops of a foggy Venice which culminates with a slapstick scene and the differences in both films really stand out. The French film was also shot with many quirky angles and close ups of objects and faces, effectively underlining the main character's helpless situation whereas the remake is bathed in gloriously composed anamorphic vistas of the canals. Also Sophie Marceau's leading lady is presented as a heartless and manipulative opportunist mercilessly making use of an unsuspecting man she spots on a train. The woman in the remake on the other hand has a kinder spirit. The original ultimately comes off as a gritty crime thriller but this remake is a deliberate attempt at recreating the lightweight atmosphere of a 60s era comedy thriller a la Charade or Gambit. There were many times during the film where I felt like I was watching a homage at those films, from the pace of the movements of the actors and the placement of camera to the heavy eye shadow applied to Angelina Jolie's utterly beautiful face, effectively elevating her already mesmerizing physicality to an even higher level appeal of, say, a 60s era Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren or Claudia Cardinale.

At the end I must say that the the film is nowhere near the disaster it is presented as being. It is just a finely made and with two international stars, a beautifully and attractively cast adult entertainment. Of course it is no award fodder but don't we need this type of filmmaking every now and then to draw some breath among the flood of family entertainment hurled toward us at every opportunity by the Hollywood money machine? I for one am content with what I saw this evening.
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The Invasion (I) (2007)
does not deserve so much indifference
20 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This latest incarnation of the famous alien pod people invasion story has gone through so much misfortune that I consider it a miracle that it was even given a cinematic release. As a matter of fact that said release can be deemed a cover-up. The studio, as if ashamed of its treatment of the film during production has done nothing to promote it. Thus, as a fan of any science fiction movie and someone who has watched and enjoyed all three previous versions of the story, it was understandable why I was worried about it entering the local cinema last night. Now I can safely say that all the indifference and negativity is quite unfair. Nowadays people sadly tend to be prejudiced about films prior to their releases, getting affected by positive or negative hype. What I watched last night was pretty decent science-fiction if not ranking among the best of the genre.

First of all, I liked the way the story has been updated for yet another installment. Abel Ferrera's update in 1993 kept the basic premise of people being replaced by alien pods during their sleep and with the support of nice special effects was highly effective. This new version completely drops the pods in favour of a virus that reprogrammes the human DNA to turn it into a lifeless and monotonic being, devoid of any features that define it as a separate human identity in the first place. Thus the story comes bang up to date, displaying all the anxieties of current global society as regards the genetic issues and controversies. All the scientific aspects of the story appeared believable and probable to me.

By turning humans into monotonic beings, the alien virus actually manages the utopia of definite peace in the world. This was a nice and well-thought-of point of irony by the filmmakers and continued to resonate in my mind after the film ended. Is it better or worse for us to keep our personalities intact, with all our inherent genetical psychological defects included that create all those never-ending conflicts both at global and daily life basis? Nice philosophical aspects of the screenplay and a well-deserved 10 points to the film for that matter.

Upon this ground base, the usual stages of the Body Snatchers story structure are ticked in an economical running time of 100 minutes, but with an added twist. Here the filmmakers try to do something different and tell the story in a very quick fashion. The viewer experiences the same sense of confusion as the heroine. She goes through her daily routine while the inhabitants of the city around her change abruptly during every passage of nighttime and sleep. The panic she feels after 3-4 days is very believable as a consequence. This sense of helplessness is further enhanced by a style of flash-forward editing structure utilised in some scenes. I found myself quite breathless during certain parts of the film as a result.

The two high profile stars of the film give decent performances, with special mention going to Nicole Kidman. She reminded me of Hitchcockian heroines, appearing cold from outside but taking control of the situation if necessary. She is in my opinion the right casting choice since her perfect features and stiff posture blend wonderfully with the background of lifeless virus-influenced people during the mid section of the film, making her imitation tactics for survival believable. Also I liked the chemistry she had with both the child actor playing her son and Daniel Craig.

The highly criticised ending was also satisfying to me. With the vaccine changing people back to their normal selves, the violence and war throughout the world continues as if nothing had happened. The alien phase is experienced as a blackout by the brain so humanity can safely go on in its routine of self destruction until the end of time. The doubtful look on the heroine's face at the last shot while the latest TV announcements about the killings in Iraq is heard in the background neatly wraps the story. No alien invasion can stop humans from being humans, for better or worse.
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Evening (2007)
nice looking but a little hollow
14 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
So many wonderful actresses in one film serve as a practical invitation to the local movie house so I duly responded. Here are some remarks..

Vanessa Redgrave is great even while lying in bed. She also looks very old and I don't think this is achieved with much make-up which is a good thing for the film but a sad thing for us cinema-goers. I think her aging got a bit harsh in recent years. Claire Danes continues her welcome return to the movies and exudes a definite warmth. Mamie Gummer's resemblance to her mother Merly Streep both in terms of physical appearance and acting style is so striking that I lost my concentration to the film for a couple of minutes after her entrance. She is surprisingly good; however such a resemblance has the danger of working against her favor. I agree with a previous comment: Natasha Richardson definitely had some plastic job done to her face. She certainly does not look like how I remember her from previous films ("Nell" for example.) Both she and Toni Collette sadly do not make much impression partly because they do not look convincing as sisters. Their interplay is weak. Toni Collette additionally is way too old for her character. Glenn Close and Meryl Streep had to have more screen time. Streep's performance actually is little more than a cameo. Her scenes on the other hand have bigger emotional resonance than the rest of the film. Eileen Atkins provides some welcome dry wit, especially in her second role as an imaginary nighttime companion to Redgrave's character. As for the men; Hugh Dancy enlivenes the film considerably even though he gives a broader performance than needed. As a matter of fact as soon as he exits the story it starts to drag. It is also to his credit that he manages to create the exact necessary sense of boyish charm in the viewer. Patrick Wilson on the other hand is a complete void at the center of the film. He also has the misfortune that the script is insufficient in explaining why three people (one of them a man) are so much smitten by this man. The backstory to this should have been developed more.

The cinematography is excellent as expected. However the main summer house set failed to convince me. It does not look natural on the top of that rocky hill, particularly with its grass patch in the front. A bit too cardboard like.

Overall, the film is a classy production, but a seen-it-all-before, cried-at-it-all-before feeling took over me during most of its duration and consequently it failed to make the kind of impact on me that I expected from a tearjerker. However, it still managed to make me thoughtful about the passing of time, about one's expectations from life and the extent to which these are fulfilled or not. Worth trying at least on DVD if not at the movies...
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so many talking heads, so much boredom
22 December 2004
I'm really angry at the makers of this film. They took one of the greatest films of all time and made a total mess out of it. Generally I'm in favor of remakes if they are done effectively and any update of an older film has my interest automatically before seeing a single frame. That's why I was so disappointed with the new "Manchurian Candidate". Actually they shouldn't have bothered to call it that way, there are that few things in common between the two films. Only the basic idea is there and the rest is changed entirely. I cannot remember the last time I was this much bored in a movie. There is zero energy throughout the proceedings and it doesn't help that all the actors deliver their lines in hushed tones without any reason. The sound mix is horrible, one of the worst I've heard in any Hollywood movie. The dialogue track is inconsistent resulting in different levels of speaking tones for all the actors. The cinematography is unexciting and unnecessarily hazy. There are many extreme closeups just for the sake of visual dressing which only serve to draw unnecessary attention towards the huge nostrils of Liev Schreiber (a huge disappointment of a performance by the way, I think this may halt any further hopes of him emerging as a leading man. He's simply not sufficient as an actor). Denzel Washington is yet another example for the curse of the Academy Award as he continues his downfall both in respect of the quality of his films and the monotonousness of his performances. Nothing exciting here about him either. Which leaves Meryl Streep and even she is only so-so. (The viciousness of Angela Lansbury's performance is very much missed.) It's as if director Demme intentionally sucked the life out of his performers to put the viewer into a deliberate state of hypnosis so that it would suit the theme of the film! As another reviewer noticed, the rally sequences are glaringly fake and it was so apparent that Liev Schreiber was delivering his so-called motivating speeches in front of a camera by himself. It is unforgivable to remake the original only to omit everything, I repeat, everything that gave it its charm: no Queen of Hearts, no kung-fu sequence, no jumping at the lake, no strange and to-date-still-undecipherable dialogue sequence at the train, no brainwashing sequence, no idyllic summer by the river for Shaw with his beloved and her father... The list goes saddeningly on and on. By the 90-minute mark I was so turned off by the whole thing that I walked off it without any single trace of regret. (Something which I never do during such high profile movies.) Besides director Demme I think this whole fiasco was due to the part of producer Scott Rudin whose films have always promised but never quite delivered (as exemplified previously by the First Wives Club and the Stepford Wives). For a change he tried drama but here his failure is more in your face since there is no wild histrionics of a comedy to save the day. Definitely not recommended....
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a masterpiece
13 November 2001
After watching this classic once again last night after several years, I have to say that this is a masterpiece. Rouben Mamoulian was one of the most stylish directors of the classic Hollywood era, and he has imbued this film with many unforgettable moments. Of course, his efforts are greatly complemented by some screen goddess called Greta Garbo! I did not watch any of his famous silent films which actually developed her screen persona, but her famous '30s talkie performances in this film, together with those in Anna Karenina and Camille are more than enough for me to land her in my top 10 favourite performers of all time. Her screen allure is something which cannot be properly described in words. So sensual, touching and strangely contemporary and not a bit dated after all these years. Her famous scenes in this film, all classics in their own rights, shows us an actor in strict command of her art, mastered by effortlessly opening her inner self to the camera and letting her radiant charisma take over the audience. Whether scrolling the inn room she spent her happiest days with her lover to memorize its details, addressing an angry crowd of citizens with a firm stance or in that undescribably moving final shot, staring enigmatically at a future of loneliness and hard-earned freedom, she is pure movie magic destined to enchant many generations long after she has left these mortal shores. Immensely aided by Herbert Stothart's original score and William Daniels's lush photography, Queen Christina is a true delight. Enjoy.
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Moulin Rouge! (2001)
sadly not a great musical
11 November 2001
I am a huge fan of musicals and have watched the best of this genre. So I am extremely sad to admit that I did not like this latest Luhrmann film too much. From the moment I read that this film was in pre-production I was afraid that he would drown this film in his usual excessive style. And it turned out to be true. The first 10 minutes of Moulin Rouge should be taught in film schools as a lesson on how not-to begin a film! It was so confusing. Fortunately, the plot-of what little there is- was slowly introduced after that and the movie became more accessible. However, the last half-hour was a truly unbearable affair: If I would hear the line "The greatest thing you'll ever learn bla bla" one more time towards the end, I could throw up. The greatest thing Luhrmann will never learn, I suppose, is that sometimes less is more. I'm one of the biggest advocates of in-your-face visual style when it comes to movies but this time I was only tired trying to make a sense out of never-ending cuts and the never-ending on screen parade of colours and tableux. This director was more in control of his art when he made "Strictly Ballroom", in my opinion still his best film. It had all the right doses from everything. Moulin Rouge is yet another proof that he went berserk when he was given free rein by Fox. On the other hand, I can only applaud what Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor have done in this film. The former is DEFINITELY up there in the top 10 of the most-breathtaking portrayals of women on screen. She is a goddess of charm, beauty and sex appeal. She also has great comic timing throughout the whole wrong-man-seduced scene. This performance clearly has Oscar written on it. I hope the Academy finally pays its due on her and rewards her with her first nomination this year. She deserved it for "To Die For" years ago so it is time to undo that mistake. EwanMc Gregor is all wide-eyed charm and delight the whole film through and displays yet again what a wide-range of talents he has. So this film will leave its mark on me mostly with the performances of these two bright actors.
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21 October 2001
The man who directed this soulless and totally unnecessary new version of Planet of the Apes cannot be the same man I have been adoring for the last 15 years. Where is the man who gave us wonderful and entirely unique movie experiences such as Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas and Sleepy Hollow? My theory is that he desperately wanted that his films make money again after the not-too-enthusiastically-received likes of Ed Wood and Mars Attacks, (how else can you explain his fruitless endeavour to resurrect the Superman franchise?) and after the relative success of Sleepy Hollow, he managed to gain access to Fox's resurrection of the Planet of the Apes franchise. However, I think that the studio interfered heavily with this "reimagining" of their beloved franchise and prevented him from making a usual Tim Burton film. The result is a terribly ordinary action adventure which is also an insult to the tradition of pessimistic sci-fi films that the original was so proudly part of. I cannot believe that my favourite director has his name stamped on this. I feel really deserted and I'm sure there are many Burton fans out there who feel the same way as I do. I WANT MY TIM BURTON BACK!!!
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excellent miniseries
20 October 2001
I happened to watch this miniseries over the course of two nights on the Hallmark Channel and what a joy it was! The script was very well-done. All the supporting characters were nicely developed with very few light touches. The two main characters of H. G. Wells and his scientist wife were really charming. Their story of courting was told so effectively in parallel with the main storyline of various mysterious events. The period details were faultless and lively. I almost felt I was there with all of them! And the most important of all, the stories themselves (6 in total) gave me the kind of pleasure and fun mixed with curiosity that I used to feel two decades ago as a child, reading Jules Verne books and dreaming of those faraway exotic worlds and adventures. Thanks to everyone involved in this production.
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open your eyes IMDB users!!!
3 September 2000
Open your eyes, give your brains some spring cleaning and then go and see this film again. For God's sake, were 95 percent of these 207 IMDB users really watching the same film as me? Ýf so, then so many years of being fed "Star Trek", "Star Wars" and "Forrest Gump" must have done their intellectual functions some permanent harm. "Eye of the Beholder" was one of the most entertaining, cleverly-written, well-directed, beautifully-photographed, mystically-acted and melodically-scored films of the last few years. Ýt gripped me right from the opening credits and never let go. The screenplay was crisp and only included as much dialogue as was needed to further the plot. Many aspects of the plot was intentionally left to the viewer's deduction meaning that it requires a bit more audience participation than it is usual with standard Hollywood fare. I guess that's why so many people complained about the film being hard to follow. This is pretty normal if you are only used to be spoon-fed every plot detail. However, a real moviefan should be able to give a little thought to what is on screen while watching. For instance, many reviewers claim that the little girl simply disappears halfway through the film without any reason. Those people should be ashamed for not paying attention and then going even farther by spreading their false accusations here. Since Eye gradually gets obsessed with Joanna, the girl loses its importance in his mind and she actually threatens him not to return if he leaves to find Joanna which he does anyway. That's why the girl disappears.

On the other hand, everyone is right about Evan McGregor's being miscast. The script calls for someone middle-aged so that the business with lost daughter/surrogate daughter/guardian angel topics could really click. Actually the lady at the reception desk of the pension Joanna lives near the beginning makes that fact obvious by saying that he is her age which must be at least mid-40s judging by her physical appearance. Thus the whole above-mentioned psychological context becomes suspended in the air because looking as young as he does Eye can only be Joanna's lover, not her father and to the viewer he simply appears like a nutcase obsessed with his assignment. Ýf the creators of the film would be held responsible for anything it could only be their casting of the male lead. Every other aspect of the film, including the casting of the other lead, the gorgeous Ashley Judd is faultless. She is really believable in all her various disguises and plays the character with just the right amount of mystery. Ýt is ranked among one of her defining performances on screen. kd Lang gives her usual down-to-earth sassiness to her character and is actually the only realistic element in this film which carries a dreamy atmosphere all the time.

The photography and the special effects are simply gorgeous. The cinema is first and foremost a visual medium and any film that creates a distinctive visual landscape must be considered worthy in my opinion, whatever its other faults may be. (Yes I am a defendant of style-over-content school when it comes to movies.) In this regard "Eye of the Beholder" is a classic consisting of beautiful imagery for all of its running time. The sound design is faultless. The use and selection of music are also wonderful, greatly enhanced by the electronic score and the haunting ballad sung by Chrissie Hynde. Last but not least, the costume design is also excellent, giving Ashley Judd an incredible femme fatale look ranging from the 30s to the 90s.

I am not a litle bit modest when it comes to movies and I am sure that this film will be given cult status in the years ahead. Enjoy it.

PS: For those of you complaining about the ending, the alternate ending on the DVD must be satisfactory.
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Dead Calm (1989)
still strong after more than a decade
5 June 2000
Warning: Spoilers

Tonight I had the opportunity to watch Dead Calm once again after more than a decade. I am pleased to state that it has lost none of its power.

This is surely a classic suspense film. Actually it is one of the best suspense films of the 80s. The storyline is basic yet gripping in the extreme. Even if the mechanisms of the plot bear some usual cliches (the fragile heroine suddenly becomes a tough survivor; she has to seduce and sleep with the bad guy to divert his attention; the hero leaves the heroine alone with a total stranger in the middle of nowhere without even thinking of the possible consequences; the psychopathic bad guy rises once again for a final messy ending and so on) the film has such a unique set-up and atmosphere that it becomes easy to forgive its weaknesses. It is interesting to note that dialogue is actually sparse which consequently necessitates some style for the film to become effective. Director Philip Noyce certainly succeeded in this task. He was clearly very ambitious while making this and he injected everything he could in terms of style. His efforts were amply rewarded since he continued with a highly prolific Hollywood career. However none of his later films had much distinction (including the much overrated Tom Clancy adaptations) and Dead Calm is still his best film do date. The sea, the sky, the two boats and the isolation resulting from being on the wide open sea are eerily combined and as a result the viewer is completely drawn into the story. Working on sea is always a hard thing as demonstrated with widely reported on-set troubles of recent water-pics such as Waterworld, Cutthroat Island and Deep Blue Sea; however, the makers of this film manage to make it look all so easy. The changes in the sea and weather conditions are so smoothly integrated into the film that most of the time you forget this was filmed and feel as if this really took place and those people are alone by themselves at sea.

The three leads, all major stars nowadays, are fine and interesting to watch. When I first saw it, I was aware that Nicole Kidman was a rising star in her home country and that this became her international breakthrough. She had striked me with her otherworldly beauty as well as her acting ability. Watching her tonight, I once again admired her determination which made her a big star in her own right despite the always looming presence of her fantastically famous husband. Her ability to attain important roles in major movies was most of the time attributed to her spouse's links and the couple's spiritual affiliations. While some of this may be true, it is also very clear that she is a very talented actress (just remember To Die For) and one of the few noble-looking stars around, in the best tradition of legends such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. She is always a delight to watch and has academical training to boot. It is no surprise that 12 years after the making of Dead Calm, she is on the Hollywood A-list.

Sam Neill was more famous than his co-stars during that time following his starring roles in many British television series in early Eighties. He has become a household name now in many different genres, be it a big-budget extravaganza such as Jurassic Park or an arthouse period picture such as The Piano and the conviction he brings to his scenes alone on the sinking boat and his performance during the calculated survival tactics makes you realize the reason why. Billy Zane was an immediate center of attention in this film due to his extremely good looks and it is nice to see that he has not followed the usual Hollywood path of becoming the bland leading man in the intervening years. He made different acting choices instead and alternated supporting roles in big films-see Titanic- with more indie-oriented low budget pictures. He even made a credible comic hero in the much-maligned The Phantom. However it is apparent that being a bad guy suits him more, considering his performances here and in Titanic.

On the more technical side, the cinematography is simply a joy to watch; production design, which here naturally consists mainly of the design of the ship is effective and makes good use of the limited space indoors and outdoors; sound design is simple albeit effective in reflecting the natural sounds of a ship sailing at sea. The opening car accident is very realistic and gives you the creeps. An honourable mention also goes to composer Graeme Revell whose first big assignment this film was. His pulsating and breathing score makes the viewer literally breathless and in the later scenes the use of a solo soprano voice brings a definitely haunting quality to the proceedings. A sparkling Hollywood career was in the waiting and he created memorable music for many distinguished Hollywood films, mainly in the action-suspense-fantasy genres.

And finally, a real surprise: the dog dies.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10
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one of the funniest films ever!!
3 June 2000
Tonight I had the opportunity to watch this film for the second time after my first viewing 2 years ago. It was released with close-to-none publicity in summer 1997 and I guess I was one of the handful people who went to see it. I had nearly dropped dead from laughing at that time and the effect was exactly the same this time: This really is one of the funniest films ever made. It is full of great one-liners, it moves at a brisk pace (in fact so brisk that when it ends you definitely wish that it would last a little longer) and Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino are dead-on in their portrayals of these two girls whom all of us would easily recognize from our own high school years. The film's design is an important element in enhancing its feel-good factor. The flashbacks and the dream sequence are very clever. As always Jeneane Garofolo is hilarious in a role which is tailor-suited to her: I still think she is under utilized in current filmmaking in Hollywood. And last but not least: The soundtrack is to die for for anyone who was a teenager during the 80s like me: "Time After Time", "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", "Venus", "Heaven is A Place on Earth" and many more on the same movie!

My rating: 9 out of 10
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The Haunting (1963)
the scariest thing ever committed to celluloid
31 March 2000
Running through all the comments about "The Haunting", I saw one thing recurring for most viewers: They were never able to forget the first time they saw this horror masterpiece. And it is also true for me. My first viewing of it was 7-8 years ago. It was a classic films zone aired once a week on public television in Turkey and although mentioning that it was considered pretty effective at the time of its release, the presenter of the show did not give enough hints or warnings as to the true nature of this film. And so my sister and I sat down to watch another low budget thriller from the '60s. However, once the film started, we were completely enthralled. Even at that time, I was an experienced film buff and had seen enough horror films to the end that they had lost their ability to scare me. What a lesson I learned! By the infamous hand-holding sequence, I was a complete wreck. My heart was beating as fast as it could, all my senses were on full alert, yet I could not stop watching that hypnotizing piece of celluloid. But towards the end, I was not able to stand it anymore, so I declared to my sister that I had to go to sleep right then if I wanted to retain my ability to sleep for the rest of my life, stuck myself into bed, drew the blanket way over my head and tried to calm myself. Of course it was a vain attempt and that night turned out to be the worst sleeping (or more correctly, non-sleeping experience) of my whole life.

The film was never shown again here in Turkey and the final ten minutes or so remain unwatched to me. Yet it is as vivid in my mind as it could be and whenever a new so-called horror film is released that turns out to be a complete mess, I start raving about "The Haunting" to my friends none of which have seen the film. So I beg you, MGM Home Video, to finally release this on DVD in the best Collectors Edition version you could manage and make it possible for fans all over the world to introduce new people to the pleasures of THE horror film to end all discussions on horror films, period. As another user correctly stated, if I was able to give this one a higher rating than 10, I would give it. I dare anyone to watch it on an ordinary night with the lights turned off, or even during daytime, alone. You will find out new things about your primary fears. A masterpiece, no less.
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23 March 2000
Sorry folks, but somebody has to reveal the awful truth, however bitter a pill it will be: This is one of the most overrated films I have seen in many years and it is pretty bad. There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING extraordinary here to merit a film adaptation. It could be a two-parts TV film on HBO or something and go completely unnoticed. The screenplay by John Irving is a incoherent and boring mess of floating ideas. The dialogue is stilted and lacks any basis in reality. It is so obviously adapted by cutting and pasting the most important bits from a seemingly endless book. Every single event is predictable ways earlier and worse, totaly uninteresting to begin with. This poor material is dealt a final deadly blow by Lasse Halström by means of his faceless direction. He could as well be directing a documentary on the change of seasons in New England! The supporting cast seems to be wondering how they have gotten themselves into this project and consequently, deliver every single line they are given with unnecessary gusto. With the exception of Tobey Maguire. Kind of interesting in The Ice Storm and Pleasantville, he was such a disappointment for me in this movie that by the end of the film I decided that he was an overrated one-note performer. He created a total void at the center of the movie. He was supposed to draw us into the saga of Homer Wells but due to his monotonous delivery and expressionless face, he pushed away the viewer from the whole story as far as he could.

I really can not understand what the Academy members saw in this film to grant it 7 nominations. It was a total waste of time and ticket fee. I recommend anyone with a sense of cinema to avoid it and not believe the hype. 1/10
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Well done Scott Terek for your excellent review
28 February 2000
Well done Mr. Scott Terek! After watching "The Astronaut's Wife" belatedly from DVD last night(it was not released theatrically here in Turkey), I looked through all the user's comments as well as external reviews and discovered in horror that no single person except him (and that includes some of the most notable American critics) understood what this film is really all about: namely tension and style, as he has correctly analyzed and revealed in detail in his excellent review in August 1999. It is so sad that nowadays most cinemagoers prefer in-your-face special effects over slow buildup of terror and tension. To hell with all other IMDB users in this case: this film was an excellent example of those seemingly long-forgotten cinematic devices and for me at least, as much of a thrill ride and as much fun as the overrated "The Sixth Sense". From the first minute of the film to the last one of it -and for me this includes the end credits as well since George S. Clinton's cue for those credits so wonderfully maintained the mood of the main film- I was having pleasant shivers all over my spine and felt an extended satisfaction after the film ended. All those camera angles, the moody lighting, the eerie score and sound effects and the production design which seemingly so much irritated most of the public came together to a create a great horror atmosphere I came to be missing so much in the last few years. Those comparing the film with "Rosemary's Baby" and degrading it in the final analysis clearly are not aware that that horror benchmark was also a stylistic exercise of its time, and in this case one which was conceived by a very young and ambitious European filmmaker who was determined to teach a lesson or two to Hollywood filmmakers of that era. I also fully agree with Mr. Terek's comments regarding Charlize Theron's performance. Wake up everybody, this is a clearly talented young actress who also radiates warmth and beauty every single moment she's on screen in every film she's in. Unfortunately, this seems to be a fatal mistake in contemporary Hollywood where most young actresses' physical appearances are artificially moulded into perfect shape. I can only assume that Miss Theron has drawn the envy of most of the Hollywood population for being able to look so gorgeous naturally as well as for landing key parts in highly commercial features, with the additional bonuses of being totally down-to-earth, accessible and talented. It's a shame that such discrimination and illogical criticism could still be directed to an aspiring young actress in our time for just being beautiful. Charlize Theron is totally believable in every single frame of this film and deserves much bigger praise than that. On the other hand, the only minor fault of the film is certainly Johnny Depp's performance but every great actor has the right to make mistakes from time to time.
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the best film of 1999
19 February 2000
Today I finally saw American Beauty and I must say that it is awesome. Actually only one other film made me feel this way in 1999 which is Fight Club and as much as I feel sad for the ultimate commercial failure of that one, I am extremely happy that for once, a film as mercilessly critical of the consumerist society of our contemporary world as American Beauty has for once been embraced by the American film-going public. It clearly struck a chord throughout that country and deservedly so. A faultless and constantly witty script turns all the cliches of American suburban life, that seemingly untouchable microcosm of American lifestyle upside down. That said, its main themes and considerations are apparently universal enough since it was able to draw constant heartfelt response -whether chokeful aughter, worried cry or deadly silence - from a packed audience of all ages as far away from the troubles and tribulances of the American family as Turkey at the screening I attended. All of the cast shines but the film is a clear tour de force for Kevin Spacey. His is a performance that is able to connect with the viewer even though the character does not invite 100 per cent identification. If there is any justice, he should be given every acting trophy in this world for this performance. After an instable choice of fils and big voids of non-acting due to pregnancies, it is a relief to see Annette Bening on top form again. She is one of the finest actresses around and she perfectly captures this all-American careerwoman who is constantly on the verge of hysteria although the character sometimes dangerously ventures into the territories of caricature. The three young actors are all incredibly talented and sholud be congratulated for bravely taking these roles in an age where most young actors choose to chart the safe waters of teen comedies and slasher flicks. It is hard to believe in the transformation of Thora Birch from the cute little girl she has been in the likes of Monkey Trouble and All I Want for Christmas into the confused and, frankly, evil-intentioned adolescent of this film. Mena Süvari displays the perfect physical embodiment of what constitutes beauty and both she and Wes Bentley have clearly great career prospects ahead of them. A gem through and through.
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nervecrackingly funny
8 August 1999
This movie is absolutely hilarious! I first saw it a couple of years ago and had my belly aching from laughing by the time it was over. Yesterday it was shown again on TV and it had exactly the same effect on me throughout this second viewing. Playwright Neil Simon, who scripted this film had a real grasp on his prose all through the 70s and 80s, and this film is a delight for everyone familiar with his style of lining up one-liners in such a way that the viewer barely has time to breathe from laughter. All three leads are great. This is real evidence for all those who have doubts about Goldie Hawn's talents, since she is delightful from start to finish and once again proves that she was and still is one of the greatest comediennes Hollywood ever produced. A comedy classic of sorts.
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a truly great slasher piece
30 June 1999
Dressed to Kill is one of my all-time favourites and it's easy to guess why. First, it's a homage to Psycho which is the one of the greatest films of all time. Second, it has one of the most beautiful original scores ever written for a film. Third, its director is the great Brian de Palma, in my opinion still the most underrated director of his generation. Although he was on a winning streak after the success of Carrie, his beautiful films began to be ripped apart by critics who couldn't differentiate between a rip-off and and a homage, thus paving the way for the bad reputation of his films which continue even today, the most striking example of which is the total critical (and commercial) failure of Snake Eyes. (In my opinion better than most of the films released last year) Dressed to Kill opens with a shower sequence that Hithcock would be proud to devise of. (If only censorship would allow him in those days.)Accompanied by Pino Donaggio's lush music, Angie Dickinson imagines her most violent fantasies become true which, later in the film,ironically will. The film moves from one stunning setpiece to another. The next one is an elongated dream-like chase through an Arts Museum. Depalma's use of split-screen in this sequence is incredible. The audience has totally identified with this middle-aged woman at this point and together with her,we desperately search for the man who made a pass at her through the long and endless corridors, only to be relieved when she finds him outside in a cab. The film is entirely dialogue-free for nearly 20 minutes and the enjoyment at a cinematic level is enormous. The murder sequence at the elevator therefore comes as a total shock, killing our heroine just as in Psycho (Hitchcock surely would have blessed DePalma for this alone) and turning the movie into a totally different direction. The remainder of the film is slasher piece of the highest order, including lots of trademark DePalma slow-motion, split-screen, amazing camerawork and a definitely breathtaking climax. It's a film to be seen again and again, each viewing giving purely cinematic fun. I highly recommend it to everyone bored with the teen-slasher pics drowning the market nowadays.
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a perfect love story
27 June 1999
I went to see Message in a Bottle with no great expectations. In fact I had deep preconceptions because of Variety's panning review. But what a pleasant surprise it was! The mood and pace of the film were cleverly arranged to have you wrapped within a wave of emotions. By the end of the film all I could do was to clear my throat, leave the theater and rush out to buy the soundtrack. I think this is one of those films where the soundtrack plays a great role and the images are fixed to your brain in close relation to the music. Gabriel Yared's original score really blew me in this context. Hollywood is so lucky to have discovered him. Is there another composer currently working who gave three awe-inspiring scores back to back? After The English Patient, City of Angels and now this, he's one of my top three composers. The cast was mostly on autopilot but Robin Wright Penn did a good job expressing her character's feelings about this man of sea in a convincing manner. This surely is one of my all-time favourite romantic films, right up there with Titanic and City of Angels.
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A surprisingly well-executed modernization of a literary classic
27 June 1999
I just came out of Cruel Intentions and it really impressed me. This must surely rank among the best literary adaptations as well as the best remakes in the 90s. The movie takes most of its power from its cleverly written script and I think the director who also wrote the screenplay deserves big praise for his work here. All the vital plot strands of the classic novel are there in neatly updated form and not for a single moment do they lose their credibility. While watching, I really wondered why no one has came up with the idea of doing this film before but in fact, the timing could not be more right. The millennium ends with a great question mark about the behaviour of young people, particularly in the US, and the film creates a terrifying view concerning the moral degeneration of a section of that demographic group, exactly the same thing achieved by Delachlos on the eve of the French Revolution. The director stated that that he decided to make the film after he saw Stephen Frears' 1988 version and although that film's influences are obvious (He even found a manor for Ms. Rosemond which looks exactly the same as the one in the previous film!)this new version creates a mood which is uniquely its own. As for the cast, the three leads are fine but I think this film belongs to Ryan Phillippe. His is a really nuanced performance, on par with John Malkovich in the previous one. While imitating Malkovich's vocal mannerisms to great comic effect, he also makes the character of a teen Valmont a really convincing one so that the end of the film rises to the same level of heart-wrenching tragedy as the previous version. All involved should really be proud of this one.
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