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Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
Excellent fun !
Not sure what to expect, I went along to see Mr & Mrs Smith based largely on the cast ... particularly Angelina Jolie :) I was very pleasantly surprised by what was often silly, but harmless fun throughout as contract killers Pitt and Jolie get pitted against each other as their supposedly final hits.
Jolie was fantastic, Pitt was very good and this is very cleverly written, directed and acted. It's not Oscar winning material, but it's thoroughly enjoyable if you're looking for a non serious film to while an evening away.
Definitely one to see.
The Ladykillers (2004)
Decidedly weird ...
Tom Hanks in a Coen brothers film sounds like it should be an excellent watch. However, I came away from seeing the Ladkillers occasionally bored, sometimes annoyed but always bemused with its weirdness.
As masterful as you would expect him to be as a casino robbing professor, Hanks is also baffling on occasion - is he I wonder trying too hard to fit into his role and get the accent, look and phraseology correct?
The Coen brothers have made some fantastic films in the past, but to be honest I would give this one a miss unless you are a complete devotee and fan of the highest magnitude.
Either way this is definitely one for the DVD market and not one I'd fork out to see at the cinema.
Stallone's best ?
Some might say that it's not the greatest of accolades to call a film Stallone's best cinematic effort.
Actually, I think over the years he has been under-rated and has done some good material, but there is no doubt that Rocky is his masterpiece.
As journeyman boxer Rocky Balboa, Stallone impresses throughout with both his physique and his character acting, in the ultimate story of David vs Goliath - his bout with undisputed heavyweight champion Apollo Creed not exactly something that seems realistic in these heady days of Don King dominated 'show' boxing.
Immensely enjoyable and excellent throughout, even 25 years on this is still an excellent film and good entertainment.
Often I've not been the world's biggest Johnny Depp fan, and any film made by Disney is usually by default corny rubbish targeted at raking in as much cash as possible with no merit whatsoever.
This is very different.
Depp plays a wonderfully camp pirate captain helping the sickeningly annoying (as usual) Orlando Bloom get the girl while battling against the new pirate captain Geoffrey Rush, who mutineered Depp when he was his captain.
Swashbucklingly funny frequently, the highlight is definitely Depp's performance is what is a very enjoyable ride.
Team America: World Police (2004)
I'm so ronery ...
The latest effort in cinema from Parker and Stone is nowhere near as offensive as the South Park movie, but also only mildly less funny.
As a mickey take nobody is spared in this tale of America dominating the world ("America, f*** yeah") and saving everyone from the terrorist threat co-ordinated by the North Korean president.
Particularly commendable is the music as ever, and the characterisations of some of the Politically Correct Hollywood brigade such as Tim Robbins, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Helen Hunt are amusingly accurate.
The funniest part though is definitely the puppet sex scene - this is how the Thunderbirds film should have been made!
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Decidedly average ...
Despite featuring the wonderful Chjristopher Walken in another excellent performance, catch me if you can is a decidedly average Hollywood portrayal of the life of a playboy conman.
Matt Damon (cue silly voice from Team America: World Police) is his usual wooden self as he continues his quest to become the new Keanu Reeves of his day.
Tom Hanks is annoying as usual and only some good performances from peripheral cast members and a half decent story hold together and make it watchable.
I'd watch it again, but only if it involved much beer!
Natural Born Killers (1994)
The story of Mickey and Mallory
Lewis and Harrelson are both brilliant in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, with this being the role that really threw off the shackles of Harrelson's dopey character in Cheers and showing that he can act after all.
Tarantino's genius is probably at its pinnacle at this time in history, with his fantastic script and sardonic wit making this a great film of its time.
While not feted as much as Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, where he combined scriptwriting with his directorial skills, this lacks the pretentiousness of Tarantino's recent scripts in the mid 2000's, and is a fantastically fun roller-coaster ride.
One interesting aside is Robert Downey Jr's accent - he does sound positively Australian!
Surprisingly not rubbish
Is it a chick flick? Undoubtedly, yes.
Is it rubbish therefore? Actually no.
Despite having read many bad reviews on this, as it being more of the same from the first film, I actually enjoyed it generally in a light hearted way.
Yes, there was plenty that was also seen in the original, but there were also some very amusing parts such as Jones' singing performance when locked up in a Thai prison.
The interplay between Firth, Grant and Zellweger is good as previously, and there is definitely some chemistry present.
Not the greatest film of all time, but also by no means anywhere near the worst. Worth a look and generally rather fun.
Geoffrey Rush has got all the plaudits for his performance as Peter Sellers in Steven Hopkins' portrayal, and all of the praise he has gotten is widely deserved. Rush puts in a truly remarkable performance as Sellers, particularly in his portrayal as the character Dr Strangelove.
Hopkins has done a masterful piece of directing, with the autobiographical asides being particularly well done, if a little unusual with Rush becoming each of the main characters (not that Sellers didn't do similar of course in Dr Strangelove!).
There is no doubt that Sellers was a flawed individual - I mean, what kind of person would really treat Britt Ekland like that? - but he was also a comic genius, and this comes across as an honest and accurate portrayal of the man.
It's criminal that this film isn't eligible for the academy awards as it's not getting a cinema release in the USA, as Rush and Hopkins would both be strong contenders.
Rush is backed up by a number of strong backup performances by Charlize Theron, John Lithgow (superb as Blake Edwards, and would also deserve an Oscar nomination), Stephen Fry and Sonia Aquino as Sophia Loren (although her double, newcomer Kate Burrell was actually better in my opinion!). And does Emily Watson ever get sick of being typecast as the long suffering woman in such films? She doesn't seem to, and I find that curious!
Would definitely recommend seeing, as I found it quirkily good.
Super Size Me (2004)
As documentaries go, this is one of the most powerful I've seen. It definitely overshadows any efforts by "documentary" maker Michael Moore, with his legendary "facts".
Seeing the effects on the body of a month of eating at McDonald's 3 meals a day and as an analysis of their mass marketing techniques, this was thoughtful, insightful and well structured.
Definitely a must see, and the only disconcerting thing was how much his GP looked like Saddam Hussein ! I must admit though, I found his vegan girlfriend annoying, and that would be enough to drive me to McDonald's just to annoy her ...
Office Space (1999)
Cutting but dated
Occasionally cutting and well written, this tale of cubicle land has unfortunately been superseded by the great TV series The Office in a satirical attack on the modern day office.
This is more 1980s in theme however (or maybe dotcom boom days) in style, and the tale of a hypnotism gone wrong on a boring office worker is frequently hilarious, and makes a number of salient points underneath the surface to trick you into thinking about things and the same time (the evil beggars).
Recommended. This is certainly one that I'd see again, and every petty minded middle manager is well represented by Gary Cole's character. Even Jennifer Aniston wasn't appalling, and that's unusual.
The Cooler (2003)
Macy is superb
I often wonder why William H Macy doesn't get more headline starring roles in big films. He's a superb actor and plays characters such as his one in the Cooler without compare.
The name of the film comes from the role that Alec Baldwin employs Macy as -- his job is to use his inherent bad luck on the gambling floor at Baldwin's casino to make people lose when they're on winning streaks.
Macy unlikely falls for hooker Natalie, who has been employed to keep him company so he does not leave his job at the casino, and she falls in love with him. It's because Mara Bello, who plays Natalie, is so gorgeous that one can find it unlikely!
The average performance of Baldwin who has become typecast in the type of character he plays is the one downer on this film, which seems to have been held up in being released presumably because it is an independent film.
Which can only be unfair, as I thoroughly enjoyed the film.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
If you go to see a big Hollywood blockbuster nowadays, you can at least rely on the special effects being good. In the case of The Day After Tomorrow they're a lot better than that, and some of the action on the big screen is truly jawdropping.
As you can also expect with Hollywood blockbusters, the money's been invested in the effects and the script suffers it accordingly. A cast of nobodies [other than Quaid] seemed to do well enough with it, but the dialogue was a bit corny and was lacking craft.
That's what you've come to expect though, and if you go to see a big name film that's been much hyped expecting anything else, you *are* as stupid as they think you are!
I enjoyed it as some harmless fun.
One of his better performances
Dennis Quaid has made some rubbish films over the years, with many below average performances. In reality, I probably rate this as his best performance [of films I've seen] since The Right Stuff.
An ingenious plot has Quaid [thanks to atmospheric circumstances] speaking to his son 30 years into the future via his shortwave radio. Fireman Quaid actually died in a fire when his son [Caviezel] was a small boy.
This seems to have haunted his son throughout his life, and when he gets the opportunity to speak to his father, the now policeman takes the obvious action [the only really predictable part of the plot] and attempts to save him.
No more information on what actually happens ... :-)
However, it's an interesting plot and reasonably well acted, without being really gripping.
Harmless enough, but it's still like the Daleks!
I've tried very hard, but it's almost impossible to take Patrick Stewart's character serious in these films, looking as much like Davros, leader of the Daleks from the Dr Who series as he does.
Resisting the temptation to loudly shout "exterminate" when he's duped into attempting to wipe out the mutants from the planet earth, he joins forces with his arch enemy Magneto [Ian McKellen] to attempt to save the mutant race when the president declares war on mutants.
With Hugh Jackman reprising his role of Wolverine well, and with some competent performances from co stars Anna Paquin, Halle Berry, McKellen and the lovely Famke Janssen, this is one of the better Hollywood sequels of recent years, and is worth a look if you're after some harmless enough fun.
Give it a miss
Right. Ancient Greek History for Americans.
There was some Greeks, and some Trojans. They fought a bit, spoke in appalling dialogue, acted shockingly and then got into a trojan horse that looked more like a rabbit. And stuff. And then some.
This has got to be one of the most dumbed down historical "epics" ever filmed. Get a cast of well known actors, a terrible script with shocking dialogue [about as deep as a specimen dish], terrible acting and drag it out over 3 hours.
The star is the CGI, which doesn't look as choreographed as it usually does, and that's probably the one saving grace.
Probably harmless enough tosh, but surely you can find better things to do for 3 hours? I wonder if Terry Jones is going to sue over the rabbit?
K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
He's not exactly Sean Connery is he?
As far as russian submarine flicks go, there's only one Hunt for Red October. Although hopefully this is better than the inevitable Kursk film that must come along and is bound to be a bunch of sentimental clap trap!
K-19 [wasn't that the robot in Doctor Who?] is a sub that fails in a nuclear incident, and then Harrison Ford & Liam Neeson brush up against each other trying to make a decision as to what to do.
And that's about as interesting as it gets.
As an old man 25 years on, Liam Neeson looks about the same age with a dodgy grey wig on. Plenty of playing of meaningful music and all that Hollywood rubbish abounds too.
Definitely an average film, and disappointing at 6/10.
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Good, but is it getting old hat?
Kill Bill Vol 2 is the latest in Tarantino's epics, and is very good with it. As a sequel to last year's very over the top and very violent flick with many throwbacks to martial arts classics, it's often funny but also well put together and watchable elsewhere.
However, is it time to ask the question as to whether Tarantino is becoming old hat? Throughout the film I had an undercurrent going around in my head that this was following what is becoming a set pattern for Tarantino films -- they're becoming a tad manufactured. As he makes them at significant intervals, this isn't as much of an issue but are his films now becoming over crafted? Is he becoming a parody of himself?
As ever, let's see his next move.
About Schmidt (2002)
Nobody does cantankerous like Jack
Jack is the recently retired insurance man who, when trying to get involved in his daughter's life after years of putting his job first, he comes to several realisations as he goes a little bonkers at the same time.
Travelling the country on the way to her wedding, he gets more life experiences than he has had in his own over the years, and his often cantankerous nature is done in the way that only Jack can.
Many will highlight the Shining at the end of his career as being his best role, but I actually think he is now doing the best work of his career -- not as good as As Good As It gets, but a great performance in a role that is enthralling and often funny, but keeps you glued to the screen throughout.
There's only one Jack.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Lots of fun
As comedy zombie films go [and it's not the hugest genre to be honest!], this is one of the best. It's not in the same league as Braindead, but Peter Jackson's the king of comedy horror paradies, so it's not fair to compare.
Shaun is a electronics salesman who finds himself in the position of needing to save his friends and family when London is over-run by zombies.
This doesn't have a go at horror films, as much as actually pay a lot of respect to them and there's enough references there to keep the avid horror buff entertained.
In Dawn of the Dead, the mindless braindead zombies go to the mall. In Shaun of the dead, they go down the pub - a take modern day life if ever this was one.
A rollicking good laugh throughout.
Found absolutely excellent
Not knowing what to expect, I followed a friend's recommendation and went to see this film, knowing that I disagreed with much of the man's politics.
In fact, disagree might be an understatement.
As an analysis -- in fact, a self analysis -- of a man and his actions in his life, I can't think of a piece of film of comparative quality. This is an absolutely excellent documentary film, and in the same league as the other great documentary of our time, Bowling for Columbine.
McNamara is an engaging man coming towards the end of his life, and offers some amazing insights in which he is often self critical, but always reasoned and thought provoking.
It's not often said, but this really is a must see that had me thinking for hours afterwards about what is truly a great man and his contribution to the world.
Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)
Of its time
At the time this was made, it was quite usual for films to be -- to put it politely -- biased towards their subject matter.
Even taking this into account, with little analysis of Stroud's criminal activities, this is an excellent viewing, and as one of the last "commercial" black and white blockbusters, it's also one of Lancaster's finest performances.
Disappointingly the performances of his mother and his wife were somewhat less convincing and a bit cheesy.
Definitely one to see again now it's out on DVD. The DVD disappointingly had a complete absence of extra items, when some insight to Stroud's later years would have been worthwhile.
Nothing So Strange (2002)
Nothing So Strange is based on the fictional assassination of Bill Gates, and the reactionary pressure group that afterwards demands "the truth". To be a believable portrayal, it needed to be a realistic fictional event, and came across as so.
This film created much controversy from the hand wringing classes, much of it presumably coming out of Microsoft itself via its media contacts. However, this misses the point.
This is an analysis of the dynamics of a group environment on the fringe left, in balance to Tim Robbins' political masterpiece Bob Roberts.
The excellent way in that real life meetings and press conferences were hijacked by this "mockumentary" to raise questions about this fictional event showed imaginative film making and, in the case of the Democratic National Conference, possibly even genius.
Definitely one to see, and as something new in film making, more of this needs to be encouraged.
Compared to the book, this was a disappointing potrayal of the tale of Papillon and seemed to be skewed as to the natural timescale of the tale.
Much emphasis was put on Papi's early days in the penal colonies, with not enough time spent on his days after his escape, and with his Indian tribe. There was even none of his days in venezuela, which came across so powerfully in the book.
On a lighter note, Dustin Hoffman was passable as Dega, even if I didn't find Steve McQueen particularly believable as Papi.
Perhaps I just watched this too soon after I finished reading the book, and its sequel Banco.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Many years on, T2 is still one of the best sci fi films ever, and is definitely the Governator's best performance in his acting career.
Arnie as the robotic "good" Terminator becomes more human by the end of the tale as he attempts to save the Connors from the liquid metal "bad" Terminator.
The special effects are still spectacular today, and the only downside is some of Linda Hamilton's voiceover cheeseyness.