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Young Adam (2003)
I have seen many movies, and I think this is one of the worst. I have never walked out of a movie, and I walked out of this one last night. I wanted to like it because of the wonderful actors in it and I generally appreciate British film. I kept wanting it to get better, and it never did. The story could be interesting, if there was more of it. There is a lack of much dialogue at all, so I didn't really understand the main characters. The flashback sequences were quite confusing and misleading. I left after the custard/rape scene because I just couldn't handle any more. If you like soft-core porn, then this movie is for you. Out of the hour and fifteen minutes I saw, about 45 minutes of that was sex. I exagerrate SLIGHTLY. I will admit, there were a few shots that struck me as being beautifully shot. I think the cinematography is the best part of the film. It isn't good enough to save it, though.
You would think that with this cast, you couldn't go wrong. Think again. This movie is AWFUL and I cannot recommend it. It is a muddled mess that never becomes clear. The singing is not worth it. The acting is definitely not worth it. It is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and I have seen a good number of them. If you want to see Gwyneth Paltrow in a good film, check out "Emma". To see Andre Braugher in top form, watch "Homicide: Life on the Street". Watching this film just isn't worth your time, I promise.
María de mi corazón (1979)
freaked me out
We watched this film in Spanish class when I was in high school. I have seen quite a number of films since then, yet this one is ingrained in my memory because it FREAKED ME OUT. It is obviously by Garcia-Marquez, since it is such a twisted story.
Maria is a runaway bride. She was supposed to marry Hector a while ago, but left him at the altar. Months later, she shows up in a wedding dress after leaving yet another man at the altar and she and Hector start their romance back up again. Hector is a magician and she helps him with his act. Then one day, they split up in their two vans and he takes the tollway and she the freeway. Her van (with all the animals in it from the act) breaks down and she can't figure out what to do. A bus drives up and she asks if they can take her to a place that has a phone. She talks about all the animals in her van and how she needs to call Hector and tell him. The bus takes her to an institution where she walks around muttering, "I just needed to use the phone" and Hector thinks she has just left him again, since it's part of her nature.
I won't tell you how it ends, but let me just say that it is one of the reasons I'm glad to have a cell phone. It just goes to show you - you should always take the tollroad, otherwise you'll end up in an asylum.
Seriously, though - it is a BIZARRE film and is a bit on the campy side. If you like reading Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, then you might like this film. Otherwise, I can't recommend it.
Pieces of April (2003)
simple and moving
I think this movie is the best Thanksgiving movie I've seen. It takes place all on Thanksgiving Day and tells the story of April, who is preparing Thanksgiving dinner for her family. While we view her entertaining attempts at fixing a typical meal, we get to see her family's trip to New York. This meal is such a big deal to April because her mother is very sick, and they have never gotten along. I love the simplicity of this film, and the writing is wonderful. All the actors are great, but I was especially impressed by Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson's performances. Because of the honesty of their acting, you really feel the chasm between them and their exasperation with each other is evident.
The only negative aspect (and it isn't that bad) to this film is the shakiness of the camera shots (mostly obvious in the outdoor scenes of the family). This lends itself to creating the feeling of watching a home video. I don't know if it was meant to, but it works.
'Pieces of April' is worth seeing in the theatre, but if it doesn't come to your town, check it out on DVD ASAP. This is one of the best movies I've seen this year. I got choked up a bit, but I laughed a whole lot. I can't recommend it enough.
Richard Gere can sing?
Things I learned from Chicago, one of the best films of 2002:
1) Not only is Catherine Zeta-Jones a marvelous dancer, but she can sing, too! She is terrific as Velma.
2) Yes, Richard Gere can sing, and he can dance. Although his singing style is a bit nasal and he seems to adopt a British accent when he sings, he does a great job, especially in the "They Both Reached for the Gun" number. And "Razzle Dazzle" ain't bad, either.
3) While Renee Zellweger isn't the world's greatest dancer (she looked a bit shoddy in comparison to Zeta-Jones), her voice is amazing! She gives Roxie a believable vulnerability, even when she is giving her best lies.
4) The supporting roles almost steal the show. Queen Latifah's number gave me goose-bumps, and John C. Reilly was so pitiful as Amos that you have to feel sorry for him.
There was no one in this film whose singing made me cringe (and I do cringe easily). It is a beautiful film, with great costumes (mostly lingerie, it seemed) and amazing acting AND singing. I strongly recommend it to any fan of musicals. I will say if you liked "Cabaret", you will probably enjoy this film, since they both use the "stream-of-conciousness" plan for inserting the musical numbers. I don't think this film will disappoint you.
Gangs of New York (2002)
Day-Lewis is breathtaking.
This was my first Scorcese film, I have to admit. Because of what I had heard about this film, I wasn't too hyped up about seeing it. However, since I am huge Daniel Day-Lewis fan, I went to see it anyway. It was so much better than I thought it would be. It is not great film-making, but it is a whole sight better than a lot of the crap Hollywood has been putting out lately. I actually got very involved in the characters and the plot until the end which I won't go into too much detail about, but is way too confusing. I think I got the point of the film, but I am not really sure.
Some of the special effects were extremely cheesy, especially one shot where a man is cut by another's knife and blood spurts out his side. Perhaps if I hadn't been watching bits from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" the day before I wouldn't have giggled at that part, but it really is laughable. Basically, the fight scenes are corny, but they aren't the majority of the film, so you can deal with them.
Either way, you have to see this film if you are a Day-Lewis fan. He owns it. Leonardo DiCaprio is good, and Jim Broadbent is very believable as a New York politician, but they can't hold a candle to Day-Lewis. You believe that he really lost an eye, you see his respect for the only man he killed worth remembering, and his anger at being lied to. He is just perfect for this role, and is definitely the best thing about the film.
Also, I found the music entrancing. There is music throughout the film, and the songs chosen are so wonderful. Well, the U2 song at the end didn't do much for me, but the Civil War-era music placed throughout just fits in amazingly well. I loved the scene of the men boxing with a hammer-dulcimer player in the room.
So while I think this film is far from the best of the year, it is good, and worth seeing for Daniel Day-Lewis amazing performance as Bill "the Butcher".
The Voice of the Turtle (1947)
almost makes me want to be a Republican.
I discovered this film a few years ago when TCM did a month of movies not available on video. And how sad that this was one of them! It is such a charming film. I didn't really care much for Ronald Reagan or Eleanor Parker before I saw this film, but after seeing it I tried to find out more about Ms. Parker. She is perfect in the role of Sally, an actress very serious about her profession. Her naivete is a bit too strong, but you love her anyway. Eve Arden is perfect (as always) as Olive, Sally's fellow actress who mistakenly made two dates for the weekend. Ronald Reagan plays Bill, a soldier home on short leave who falls for Sally and all her faults. This movie isn't award-winning or anything, but it is good. It is a nice little film about love, breakfast and having people sleep over. It seems a bit risque for the 40s! If you love romantic comedies, I strongly recommend this one. I just love it, even with Reagan in it (and he isn't bad, either). Watch out for it on TCM or hope it comes out on video soon!
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
This film is well-done and beautifully shot. It is a great romantic film, yet full of wit and difficult situations. I saw it once and knew I had to buy it! The music is great, also. I think any fan of great film will appreciate this one.
Breakfast for Two (1937)
This movie was my first Barbara Stanwyck experience, so I perhaps enjoy it for more sentimental reasons than most. However, it is a terrific screwball comedy. Where else do you get Eric Blore (being his wonderful self), a talking dog, and Barbara Stanwyck wearing a boxing glove? I strongly recommend it to any Stanwyck fan. It is quite humorous and enjoyable. It's a cute little film and one of my all-time favorite comedies.
a terrific sequel
I just saw the area premiere for this film in Austin last night. It is so well done, and the special effects are amazing! I don't know if I'd say it is better than the original, but it is certainly just as great. The kids have grown up a smidge, and the actors who play them still have their characters down pat. I am a picky film viewer, but I must say that there is nothing bad about this film. The music is great, the acting is well-done, the dialogue is witty and there are a few surprises thrown in. I strongly recommend it to any fan of Rodriguez, since he was so intricately involved in anything that had to do with this film. He calls it his "home movie". If you liked "Spy Kids", you have to see this sequel.
City of Angels (2000)
Not the first to attempt an hour-long drama with a mostly minority cast, this series looks like it might be the most successful of those that have attempted. The main action takes place in a Los Angeles hospital with a lack of adequate funds. Blair Underwood and Viveca Fox are the main players, and do a great job of getting into character. I've only seen two episodes, so there hasn't been enough time to flesh out the characters more. However, I think what the series is trying to do is amazing, and I commend it. I think it is a sad state of affairs that an attempt has to be made to include more minorities in other shows. "City of Angels" is and will be an example for others to follow. I hope it stays on TV for a long while. If you have a desire for something different and closer to reality, check this show out. Other shows with all-white casts are quite unrealistic. Life is not all-white, and this show exemplifies that fact. I look forward to learning more from and about the characters in "City of Angels".
Among the wonderful musical performances in this film, I think the best reason to watch is for the portrayal of Sophie. We see her awakening. The actress is perfect in her performance. Sophie is portrayed as a sad sort of person, deeply touched by anything. The ending is a bit unexpected. I found myself yearning for more for Sophie. She is so naive and inexperienced, even after working with Irene.
The costume and lighting in this film are very well done. Distinct scenes stand out in my mind, even though I saw it a few years ago. I recommend this film to anyone interested in French film or World War II-era portrayals. What a powerful film.
This is one of the best films we watched in my high school Spanish class. If you are a fan of the opera, this film will strongly entertain you. Of course, the dancing is wonderful. Watching these amazing dancers moving to the music of Bizet is well worth checking out.
American Beauty (1999)
a very well-made film
This film is extremely dark and twisted, and I would recommend that depressed persons veer away from it. I am not sure what I thought of the plot, although it was quite original. I don't know if I could watch it again, because I don't know if my emotions could handle it. I would venture to say that the best part of the film is the acting. Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Wes Bentley, and Thora Birch are amazing. I was awed at Annette's ability, having only previously seen her in "An American President" (in which she is also good). The last few minutes of the film make it all worth watching. The sweetness of the ending ultimately leaves you with a bittersweet feeling. My friend, sister, and I stayed to watch the credits because we were just stunned. It is so new, fresh, and makes you glad for the goodness in your own life because of the crappiness of the characters' lives. I would recommend it to anyone who thinks their emotional state can handle it. You will be thinking about it for many hours afterwards, I promise you.
an amazing series
I have followed "Bramwell" since I started watching the mini-series on PBS's "Masterpiece Theatre" a few years ago. The depiction of a female doctor in Victorian England is very entertaining and groundbreaking. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in period drama or the history of medical practice.
Norma Rae (1979)
This film is in no way a documentary, but the filming style and plot line lend to its feeling so. Sally Field's acting in this movie is impeccable. She becomes Norma Rae. We see her fear, her disgust, her anger at the mill's treatment of its employees, and the passion she has for what she believes in. Although the best known scene from the movie is her standing at the mill with the "Union" sign, I believe the most memorable scene is towards the end when she talks to her children, telling them what to expect. The movie tends to turn away from her children, but this scene focuses in on her relationship with them. Beau Bridges is great, and the character of the Union leader (can't remember his name) is terrific. The sexual tension between Norma Rae and he is palpable. I strongly recommend this film to any Sally Field fans, or anyone interested in social issue films.
Homicide: Life on the Street (1993)
"Homicide": the greatest show on television
It was a gloomy day when NBC cancelled this amazing show, but unfortunately, not enough viewers were watching. It can now be viewed in syndication - as of January 1999 it is shown on Court-TV weeknights. "Homicide" was an Emmy and Peabody-award-winning show. Because of its unique shooting style, magnificent writers, and terrific actors, it is the best show I ever watched. Other cop shows are no comparison. In fact, no other drama on network television had such a racially diverse cast. This is the only drama I have seen with African-American actors in leading roles. It is a sad fact that there aren't other shows like it out now.
This show truly did duck the "system" of other dramas, staying true to the source and portraying realistic characters. Anguish, joy, anger, humiliation, and respect are evident in the faces of the characters in assorted episodes. The first few seasons were the best, in my opinion, but the other seasons were still better than anything else on the networks. I shudder to think that "Nash Bridges" beat this amazing show in the ratings. If you are at all interested, try to find this show on television in your area. There is no middle ground with this show; you will either hate it or love it. All that I know have become addicted to it.
I'll See You in My Dreams (1951)
a good movie
"I'll See You in My Dreams" has great songs and terrific acting. Doris Day and Danny Thomas are extremely believable as the characters of songwriter Gus Kahn and his wife Grace. Their story is quite sweet, but not overly sappy as some classic bio - pics tend to be.
Doris Day portrays the character of Grace LeBoy, a rather comandeering woman who works at a music publisher. She falls for Gus Kahn, an aspiring lyricist, who eventually will write "Pretty Baby", "I'll See You in My Dreams", "Tootsie", and other such memorable songs. While showcasing Kahn's classic songs, the film also shows the ups and downs of their marriage. Doris sings many of the songs, but Danny Thomas sings a few himself. Most of the songs are recognizable, so perhaps you will be singing along with the film. This movie had me singing along, crying a little bit, and laughing a lot.
I strongly recommend this film to fans of Doris Day and Danny Thomas. Both deliver marvelous performances. Check it out, and keep an eye out for Mary Wickes as the stern but lovable housekeeper.
Young Man with a Horn (1950)
Day and Douglass give great performances
Before I saw this film, I didn't think of Doris Day as a serious actress, so seeing her performances in both "Young Man with a Horn" and "I'll See You in My Dreams" gave me a pleasant surprise. Doris Day is perfect in this film for the character of Jo Jordan, the big-band singer who falls for Rick Martin (Kurt Douglass). This is almost a tour-de-force for Day. It is not a comedy, and she acts accordingly. We see her anguish upon realizing that Martin (who is the protagonist) is smitten with her acquaintance Amy North (Lauren Bacall). Douglass plays a trumpet-player who is aware of his amazing gift and is careful with himself, that is, until he meets Bacall's confused character. The story is quite interesting, based on the true story of a gifted trumpet player who died of alcoholism at the age of 28. The movie stays pretty true to the real story, with a few elaborations. Martin is an orphan who is taught the trumpet and almost raised by a black trumpeter by the name of Art Hazzard (Juano Hernandez). He grows up to be a great talent and plays in big bands for money, then plays his own kind of music til the wee hours for himself. He is said to "speak" through his trumpet by the film's narrator, "Smoke" (Hoagy Carmichael). Martin carries his horn around with him everywhere and is lost without it. Day's character tells him that people will refer to him as the "young man with a horn" because he refuses to part with it. Bacall's character refers to the horn as Martin's "alter ego". The supporting cast is great - Day, Carmichael, and Hernandez are terrific. Douglass was not the first choice to play the main character, but he does a good job. We see his naivete at the beginning, and then his clear anguish at his downfall. Bacall is the antagonist of the film. Her character is not perfect, but symbolizes wealth and everything that Martin is not. I was not blown away by her performance; she seemed to me rather wooden. The viewer really is given no insight into her reasoning or her character. I couldn't understand her motivation at all and I think her portrayal takes away from how great the film might have been. However, I think the performances of Douglass and the supporting cast are worth watching the movie for. The cinematography is also very interesting, especially one scene at a train station. The film is not sappy, but is not perfect, either. Overall, I would give it 2 and 1/2 stars out of 4.
The Opposite of Sex (1998)
Christina Ricci is surprising
I thought Ricci's performance disturbing, yet perfect for the part. I can't think of another actress able to play her character so bitterly. This movie is a terrific dark comedy. I do think the supporting actors are the best things about the film. Christina Ricci is good, but they are better. Lisa Kudrow is perfect as the sister of Bill's dead lover, and Lyle Lovett is wonderful as the unexpected love interest for her character. I think these two make the film as great as it is. Definitely worth renting if you are into black comedies. Not recommended to anyone with a fear of vulgar language, however.