Reviews

32 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
6/10
an elephant in the room
22 March 2006
This is a good movie, because it is a documentary, and documentaries by nature start on such a higher playing field. As a documentary, it is somewhat below average. There are gaping holes and topics that are completely ignored that are integral to the subject matter. For one thing, there was not a single speaking agent or pro scout/rep in the movie. It is basically a summary of the games he played as a senior, a post season all-star game, the announcement of his shoe deal, one cover shoot, and coverage from the draft. That said, the content of the film is excellent... it is just not complete. I found Telfair's two older brothers to be radiant characters... the kind of stuff you'd never see in scripted material. Telfair's high school coach (not in as many scenes) was another highlight. Another odd thing about the movie is that it is clearly avoiding what is common knowledge to almost anyone who actually watched this. Telfair is struggling. He is arguably the 2nd/3rd PG on the worst team in the Western Conference... losing minutes to Jarret Jack (a late first round rookie) and Steve Blake (a backup on any other team). Lebron James was the first, and thus far only, elite performing star straight out of high school. This movie was clearly made in the wake of Lebron James in an effort to capture Lebron II. So instead of looking at the hype from the outside as a documentary, this movie itself is part of the hype. This is made clear based on the futile efforts to skirt Telfair's pro career. For one thing, this movie was released almost two years after its final event, the 2004 draft. Not all that suspicious, except that there was no text at the end of the movie, updating us with information on his pro career. Put those two together and it appears that ESPN tried to wait for him to be successful before airing the movie. Which gets us to what reeks about this movie. Telfair and his brothers seem intelligent and honorable, and they are being exploited in an effort to make money. This common nowadays with reality TV, but Telfair's career is at stake here. Dollar-crazed industries scrambled for the next Lebron, knowing and banking on the fact that plenty of money could be made before one of these guys even made it to the pros. This juicy topic is not addressed in the movie... as I said before, the packaging of this movie is just another example. The result is fans hating on Telfair and calling him a bust, which he is not. He isn't Todd Van Popple or Brian Bosworth... there was almost zero assurance for all the Telfair hype, again not his fault. That this movie was aired instead of the World Baseball Classic is another strike against the sickeningly self-indulgent ESPN. ESPN doesn't seem to realize that people like it and watch it because it is a window to sports, and not because of its slapdash, substandard original programing or haughty, moronic personalities.
10 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Empire Falls (2005)
5/10
an empire falls.... wow, get it!!!???
10 March 2006
Its pretty obvious that the author wrote the screenplay here... given that his pontificating prose makes the transition to the film as voice-over narration. Come to think of it... I didn't see a credit for the narrator, and I didn't recognize the goofy voice either... I wonder if this guy could possibly be THAT self-indulgent.

Anyway, this movie is OK. I'd say about half the scenes are good and half are bad. It's pretty inconsistent in its level of phony-ness.

It is overall an interesting and engaging story, but I think it is greatly hindered by the cheap crutch of a purely evil character.

Hoffman and Robin Wright Penn were both really good in the flash backs. William Fichtner struck me as the only guy who carried his weight in the modern scenes. Dennis Farina was good, but it was a one note job.

The glove box and the cat were painful.

I have to say, my jaw about hit the floor when a lowered newspaper revealed Josh Lucas in a cameo as a young Paul Newman... it was a brief but unbelievable scene.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Garden State (2004)
6/10
Your basic movie trying hard to be original
21 June 2005
This movie is well-intentioned, but it ends up really falling in line with your basic movie... not necessarily a bad thing.

One reason why I say this is that movie stands stalwart behind it's two main characters. During the course of the movie they are inspirational, whimsical and seemingly never wrong, yet somehow they have highly-checkered pasts. They also conveniently don't spend enough time together to get into the guts of what their relationship would be like... a sort of post-Sleepless-in-Seattle phenomenon that this movie does nothing to break away from.

Of course there must be an enemy, in this case it is his father. I don't understand why he is made to play the villain. It is certainly not necessary. The character is designed to have excellent inner-conflict and motivation for his actions, he's also played by a fantastic actor, yet he is made to be a cold, plotting, one-dimensional villain from start to finish. A villain such that the movie can climax with him being put in his place by his son, as any cheap trick movie would.

The movie is nice, but utterly fanciful in the same way as say, The Shawshank Redemption or Forest Gump, where it has a realistic plot, but unrealistic execution. This is not Mean Streets... not that a movie has to play it straight to ring true. An outside-the-box movie can have an unrealistic plot, but realistic execution. Take Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; the plot is out there, but the movie is genuine. If you've seen both Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Garden State, think of the weight and depth of the central characters. In Garden State, the characters are fun and neat, but their depth is falsely created in a few sentences of plot-work that doesn't match what's on the screen. What's on the screen is NOT a study of an over-drugged boy (with a severely traumatizing incident) falling in love with a girl who has clinical mental issues. That topic is really left for documentary because how, as sane people, can we begin to structure the feelings behind such a plot? What's on the screen fits a couple normal slackers, there's nothing wrong with simply making them slackers and that's who these characters should be. Slackers can be clever and endearing like these characters, they don't have to be defined as insane and on drugs.

Maybe I was in a grumpy mood... but what was with all those barely funny sight gags? These 2-3 second, no-dialogue shots of stuff like, all of them on the motorcycle, or all of them wearing the plastic bags for the rain etc. It looked like the stuff on sitcoms, I was wondering where the laugh-track was (cue laugh-track)
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Mr. Destiny (1990)
6/10
Thoughts on entire movie… contains inherent spoilers.
21 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Mr. Destiny is in many ways similar to Back to the Future, but it is sort of the anti-Back to Future because of its message. In Back to the Future, problems are fixed by going back in time and making changes that result in a greater level of material existence, in Mr. Destiny we are taught to simply appreciate what we already have.

Oddly, the ending muddles this message. After we have learned with Belushi that riches are corrupt and un-endearing, and that a simpler life of love is his choice of life, he is lavished with a six-figure salary and a company Mercedes,. This opens some dark possibilities; let's hope he's learned his lesson.

The movie is very movie-like. Take Belushi's lingering befuddlement at what is going on and all of his plot questions, the answers of which are clearly directed at all of the children watching the movie.

Also the baseball is really embellished for effect. Because of the percentages involved, failing to get a hit (esp. a home run) is a lot different than a truly horrific moment like dropping a pop-up or letting a grounder go through your legs with two outs. That's not to say that someone wouldn't long regret having not gotten a home-run or key hit, but in that situation having a teammate sneer "way to go, BURroughs" and being a town-goat is ridiculous and only realistic if he pulled a Bill Buckner like move. Like I said, you are always very conscious of it being a movie, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Surprisingly, the antagonists are pretty compelling, almost believable, which is rare for such a movie-like atmosphere. Most movies in this mold include a one-dimensional villain who is motivated seemingly only by evil, a cheap character to give the cheap-thrill of being put in his place or humiliated. Such a character is notably lacking in Mr. Destiny. The threatening characters, Courteney Cox and a gem named Niles Pender, are unsavory but somewhat realistic people, driven by understandable motives like spite and money. The key is that their behavior and level of antagonism is reflective of the different actions and personalities of John Belushi, which, in an interesting twist, makes him the villain.

The potential of the Rene Russo character is a little lost, one problem with the weight of the movie is that Belushi is in his altered life as a visitor, and the potential feelings (good or bad) he has built for 10-15 years with his other-dimensional wife (Russo) are not present in him, only implied.

Another thing that isn't addressed is the sheer insult to Linda Hamilton by having him want out of his life. She says to him something like, "If things were so great, why did you want to change?" and he answers with "I guess I didn't realize what I had" which in a way is more insulting in that he didn't say something like, "I didn't think I'd lose you."

Lastly, what was up with the dog? After having a woman try to kill him, and while being chased by the police for a murder he didn't commit and getting fired all over the fact that a man he knows has been murdered, he doesn't "give up" in disappointment until he accidentally runs over his own dog? Then in the end of the move, he is happy (but under control) when seeing his old wife again and getting the great new job, but he's only ecstatic when he sees the dog alive again?
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Not Good
23 September 2003
After watching this movie I went to the trivia section expecting to see something to the effect of:

The Morlocks were intentionally made to look distractingly cheesy in homage to the ground breaking but now lame-looking 1960 version.

It wasn't there. Go figure.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
F Murray Abraham... not the man now, dog.
24 February 2003
**don't read this if you don't want to know what happens, but what happens will be SO obvious it shouldn't really matter

What does pathetic Professor Crawford have that Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, Robert Redford, Jodie Foster and most other huge stars don't??? An Academy Award for Best Actor. Any one who's seen 'Amadeus' will see F Murray Abraham in what would be the performance of any actor's life. Unfortunately, the difference isn't Abraham at all, it's the role. The Crawford character is hilarious to watch... he's like Eric from Billy Madison or Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore or a similar character from any other silly comedy. He's a 100% villain from his first scene to his last, with the obvious fate of huge and repeated public humiliation. Since Connery has a beef with him too, we get to see both protagonists take a homerun swing through Crawford's dignity. The scene toward the end is classic when Crawford performs the huge Hollywood retread of desperately and futilely trying to quiet the crowd cheering for Jamal, the crowd of course includes Crawford's superiors who in turn belittle the meek authority that Crawford's bitter and empty soul clings to. I was seriously waiting for a warm Connery/Jamal hug to be interrupted by shrieks from the audience as Crawford menacingly approached with a gun, only to have Connery, now cool and now confident in his return to society, perform a few quick Judo moves, disarming Crawford and sending him to the ground in a pile of his own waste.

This is basically an interesting movie ruined by painfully predictable characters and scenes. When you watch it, see if you can guess everything that will happen, you'll probably be right.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
wish they would have just done the play
13 April 2001
I have a feeling that Al Pacino will soon be (or already is) too embarrassed to watch this movie. Certain ideas probably seemed great at the time while they were swept up in the documentary style, (like lying on an old stage to soak up a vibe and choosing to wear the same mis-shaped hat backwards the whole time) but they really end up looking silly. The parts I liked from the documentary aspects were the arguments and the interviews, but overall, I think the movie (with the cast Pacino got) would have been much better if they just stuck to the play. Al Pacino makes a solid Richard. For the most part he is not playing Al Pacino, but Michael Corleone and Big Boy Caprice occasionally show up in his portrayal. I found the casting of Alec Baldwin as Clarence (Richard's benevolent older brother) a little odd, since Baldwin is almost 20 years younger then Pacino, but he was excellent. Clarence has one of the most dramatic and powerful scenes of the play, and Baldwin was all over it. Winonna Rider was good as Anne, who appears in the most difficult scene of the play, which worked well thanks to the work by Pacino and Rider. Estelle Parsons was perfect as Margaret, I was really amazed. Kevin Spacey and Adian Quinn were excellent choices for Buckingham (crumb) and Richmond (hero), I thought they were both really good. All in all, I found myself groaning every time the movie switched from the marvelous scenes of the play to the obnoxious documentary scenes, but I would definitely not discourage anyone from seeing it. **1/2
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
not very good, but not without high-points
11 April 2001
This adaption was ah, weird. A lot of the fairies looked pretty messed up, like multiple faces and other stuff that i think was beyond the scope of a magic forest. Since the movie comes from a play, the story is character driven and therefore the most important part is the acting which varied a lot. Michelle Pfiffer was the best part, she was pretty much perfect as Titania. Rupert Everett got the job done. I thought Stanley Tucci was a great pick for Puck, I never imagined Puck aged (40ish and balding), but I though he was excellent. Calista Flockhart was pretty good, although as a unit I thought that the four main characters (especially the other three) were pretty lackluster, I mean I can't even recall anything they did. I thought that Kevin Kline was amazingly piss-poor as Nick Bottom. What a lousy job, and what was up with the raspy voice? David Strathrain and Sophie Marceau (by far the most talented actors in the cast) were fantastic as the stately Theseus and Hippolota. They were in far too little of the movie considering their great chemistry; they really glow on the screen.

So what was up with the bicycles? They were used with astonishing frequency throughout the movie to the point were I was wondering what was up with the director, like does he ride bikes around without the seat or what? **
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
God, this movie was bad
24 March 2001
This movie borrowed a lot from Major League. Veteran guy's guy with diminishing skills has on and off relationship with bookwormish girl who used to be wild while an evil owner looks to replace the veteran, a one-dimensional upscale arty man appears in one scene looking to steal the girl and a boorish Yankee villain threatens the pitcher on the field.

What it doesn't have that Major League had was a great supporting cast of characters, real dialogue, chemistry between the lovers, realistically crass on the field behavior (on the field scenes were so corny in For Love of the Game) a ton of great humor and just being an overall good movie.

One more thing, maybe I missed something... but the Costner cutting his hand scene was one of the most laughably ridiculous scenes I've ever seen in a movie. I once cut my hand with a chainsaw, wrapped a glove over it, got driven to the hospital, stood in the lobby waiting three hours because its obviously not at all life-threatening or critical, then got stitches and left. Costner is cut on the pouch of skin between his thumb and finger by a table saw. He then stammers back toward the house losing consciousness. He is rushed to the Hospital where he appears delirious as Kelly Preston makes the most embarrassing rant I've ever scene in a movie because no one will help him. He is then taken by helicopter somewhere else (no one in that hospital can stitch a cut?) and on top of all that he has oxygen tubes? How ridiculous is that? It was as if he'd been shot 3 times in every vital organ when instead he has a one inch cut on his hand.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Natural (1984)
At times stunning, but it could use some editing
21 January 2001
This is a movie with a great story: an unknown aged ballplayer appears who has magical talent. This concept leads to a couple of wonderful scenes. Most of all, the scene featuring Roy Hobbs first at bat as a Knight is spectacular. I would be willing to say that every shot of this scene is perfect. The growing storm that accompanies him, the foreshadowing, the music, the magic... it is the stuff of legend, again, fabulously done. Unfortunately this movie is too long and boring. I very much enjoy a slow developing story, if every scene in this movie featured an amazing home run by Roy Hobbs, the power would be lost, thus its necessary to keep things slow. However it is not necessary to tie in ridiculous side-stories, such as an evil owner trying to take an idiot manager's shares of the ball-club. Yeah!! Roy Hobbs fights corruption to save the dunce manager!!! How idiotic, how about just plain Roy Hobbs plays baseball because he loves baseball; that's what the movie's trying to say, why try to add more suspense? Cutting this kind of uselessness would really help this movie on a couple levels. I'm very tolerant of slow movies and I love baseball, but this movie is boring. Robert Redford is ok, some may disagree, but I think he comes off as too much of a prick in this movie, especially since it seems clear that from the script Roy Hobbs is a very good guy, yet somewhat mysterious. I think Redford turns mysterious into prick. The manager is annoying, Kim Bassinger is not that great, Glenn Close is good but not at all attractive, Michael Madsen was great and Robert Duvall is very good as well. ***
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
NOT THAT GREAT!!! OPEN YOUR FRIGGIN EYES!!!!!!
7 January 2001
Many, many people jock this movie, calling it an intelligent, philosophical and moving epic, but It's really not all that. It is a good movie, but it is not great or thought provoking at all. That year, 1994, was a great year for movies considering Pulp Fiction, Ed Wood and Quiz Show among others, yet people think Forrest Gump and Shawshank Redemption are ‘great' movies? Gag me.

Here's some of the problems (Don't read this if you haven't seen the movie)

Morgan Freeman's character - Don't get me wrong Freeman is a great actor (even if he always plays the same part) but seriously, did you ever watch MTV's ‘Scared Straight' or listened to Chris Rock's stand-up? Now tell me what kind of 18-year-old murderer goes to prison and kicks around using words that would make Edgar Allen Poe go get his copy of Webster's? Freeman's character's narration also served as a purpose to constantly bludgeon the viewer with 2nd rate philosophy people who've never been to prison come up with. By the end I was literally exhausted from the constant stream of corny insight I've already heard. Tell the truth now... If you saw a murderer on the evening news you'd probably want him dead or at least in prison for life, yet here you're supposed to rejoice in his parole as a result of a tired, bitch-em-out-I-don't-care speech that only seems to come up in movies. Another detraction to the narration is Morgan Freeman dropping the F, it never sounds right.

The Warden - How many absolutely despicable characters has that guy played? Has anyone that evil ever run a prison? That is classic jail movie material. Obviously the filmmakers realize people will be upset about glorifying criminals so the answer is to make the authority pure evil. How irritating… If you want to convey criminals, just show them having fun and being real people; don't try to cover it up with evil police, try Bonnie and Clyde or Pulp Fiction, much more interesting.

Brooks – Some serious button pushing here. Brooks is a typical, lame attempt to draw out some sentiment. The bird thing is a rip off of Escape from Alcatraz and like Freeman's character he's a great guy who happened to commit an offense so despicable he's in one of the most secure prisons in the country, but we can forget about that, right? The `Brooks was here' hanging himself because he can't keep up is another Hollywood favorite. Who hangs themselves? My gosh, at Nuremberg guys took poison to avoid being hanged because of the shame and disrespect. Yet, Brooks hung himself when at his age he could have waited a week and let nature take its course. Or better yet if Brooks got an old-fashioned whore and binged himself to death on alcohol and mind-altering drugs. Almost sounds like fun, who would prefer hanging? You know who, a character in a movie. That pretty much sums up the Shawshank Redemption, for what its aiming for it misfires because there is nothing genuine or authentic about it.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Eight Men Out (1988)
Great Historical Work
17 October 2000
John Sayles' Eight Men Out is a fantastic historical movie. We are told the story of the 1919 White Sox from so many angles with so many well developed characters that the result is beautifully authentic. If you have any questions about why and how the World Series was fixed your answers are here. Every character seems so true to the point were you can see yourself maybe taking the path of many of those players if you were in their shoes. That sums up the movie perfectly, in this movie better then any other historical drama I've ever seen, you are in the shoes of the characters. The acting is phenomenal, David Strathairn gives the performance of the movie as veteran pitcher Ed Cicotte. Strathairn in particular along with John Cusack (Buck Weaver) and John Mahoney (Manager) elevate the movie from a history book to a heart-breaking story about real people without resorting to cheap sentiment tricks. Sayles nicely downplayed the role of Joe Jackson (DB Sweeney). Jackson was not the focus of the scandal, he was simply the best player involved. We see Jackson as ignorant and vulnerable, (unable to read and write) the scene when he tells Kid Gleason he doesn't want to play is a fabulous touch, Jackson worries about the scandal and like a child, he tries to run away. All supporting characters do a fine job especially Christopher Lloyd, Charlie Sheen, Sayles himself, Michael Lerner and the actors who played "College Boy" Eddie Collins (good court scene) and Commissioner Landis (dead ringer). Although this is the greatest sports movie ever made, it goes far beyond sports and it will appeal to non-sports fan as a touching morality tale about real people. ****
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Pretty good, but embarrassing to watch Eriq Le Salle
13 October 2000
**this review gives away some of the plot, be careful!**

It was good to see Don Cheadle, he's a fine actor, but don't expect a performance on par with his tough guys in Out of Sight and Devil in a Blue Dress. Cheadle was a good pick, the part of a great basketball player is tough because you can get a real player who has good basketball skills but says every line like he's reading a foreign language (Ray Allen), or you can get a great actor who shoots like he's using the wrong hand (Ed Norton). Cheadle's game (dribbling, shooting) looks pretty good, the only thing that wasn't convincing were the scenes displaying Manigault's amazing leaping. Because Cheadle obviously cannot get that high, we get a shot of him taking off, then another shot of him up by the rim standing on a ladder or something; its just not convincing. Manigault's alleged dunks are so unreal that I would have really liked to actually see the entire dunk just like the real goat, in one shot, whether it took computer graphics or a double that looks nothing like him (Vince Carter), or a springboard disguised as part of the court.

Watching director Eriq Le Salle act in this movie is painfully embarrassing. For example, in his basketball scenes in the beginning (btw I REALLY liked the casual dress of the players) Le Salle adorns a pantyhose style hat, its out of place, but what's so embarrassing is that since he was the director he chose to brandish the hat himself. Similarly embarrassing is that he tries to steal more of the spotlight by having his character go to Vietnam, like the pantyhose hat, this is utterly useless to the story but he includes it to promote himself. And on top of that, Le Salle has his character come back from 'Nam having lost both arms (cheap, cheap, cheap) then overdose on bad heroin. You'll get a huge laugh watching LaSalle shake on the ground with his prosthetic limbs, easily a foot longer then they should be with obvious lumps in the forearms (hands holding the prop arms.) This shows no class on the part of Eriq, who as the director introduces a character who provides no insight and is useless to the story so HE can play it and have a chance to act like a brotha and convulse like he's overdosing, how embarrassing!!

Aside from that, this movie is pretty good and I recommend it to a basketball fan. Clarence Williams III and Forest Whitaker are both very good as always.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Gettysburg (1993)
A Fabulous Tribute
7 August 2000
Watch this movie and you will get a great four-hour lesson on America's most important event. In part, Gettysburg teaches us the strategy and important events from the battle. During or before the battle scenes we see the men in charge discuss the plan of attack so the viewer can learn a lot about the astounding achievements and blunders that occurred. As an added bonus, between the battle scenes we watch the various characters discuss the moral and political issues of the war, and while this may or may not be completely realistic (it must have gone on to a certain extent) it serves as some great room for thought. These conversations (particularly between Chamberlain and his sergeant) are quite graceful. No opinions are forced, instead the expressions of the individuals serve as characterization and a chance to consider different viewpoints. The music by Randy Edelman (Last of the Mohicans) is hugely effective, it complements every emotion perfectly. The cast is just as brilliant. Supporting actors C Thomas Howell (Tom Chamberlain), Stephen Lang (George Pickett), Brian Mallon (Hancock) and Kevin Connelly (Kilrain) all especially nailed their characters, but the clear standouts are Richard Jordan and especially Jeff Dainels who apparently geared up for Dumb and Dumber by playing Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain (the huge underdog hero) as well as any actor has ever performed. Jordan, as Confederate Gen. Armstead, brings unparalleled emotion to his powerful, powerful death scene. As it was, Jordan was aware that he himself was dying of brain cancer while the scene was filmed, the result is crushingly authentic.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Great Movie? nope, there's no truth to it
6 August 2000
Many, many people jock this movie, calling it an intelligent, philosophical and moving epic, but It's really not all that. It is a good movie, but it is not great or thought provoking at all. That year, 1994, was a great year for movies considering Pulp Fiction, Ed Wood and Quiz Show among others, yet people think Forrest Gump and Shawshank Redemption are ‘great' movies? Gag me.

Here's some of the problems (Don't read this if you haven't seen the movie)

Morgan Freeman's character - Don't get me wrong Freeman is a great actor (even if he always plays the same part) but seriously, did you ever watch MTV's ‘Scared Straight' or listened to Chris Rock's stand-up? Now tell me what kind of 18-year-old murderer goes to prison and kicks around using words that would make Edgar Allen Poe go get his copy of Webster's? Freeman's character's narration also served as a purpose to constantly bludgeon the viewer with 2nd rate philosophy people who've never been to prison come up with. By the end I was literally exhausted from the constant stream of corny insight I've already heard. Tell the truth now... If you saw a murderer on the evening news you'd probably want him dead or at least in prison for life, yet here you're supposed to rejoice in his parole as a result of a tired, bitch-em-out-I-don't-care speech that only seems to come up in movies. Another detraction to the narration is Morgan Freeman dropping the F, it never sounds right.

The Warden - How many absolutely despicable characters has that guy played? Has anyone that evil ever run a prison? That is classic jail movie material. Obviously the filmmakers realize people will be upset about glorifying criminals so the answer is to make the authority pure evil. How irritating… If you want to convey criminals, just show them having fun and being real people; don't try to cover it up with evil police, try Bonnie and Clyde or Pulp Fiction, much more interesting.

Brooks – Some serious button pushing here. Brooks is a typical, lame attempt to draw out some sentiment. The bird thing is a rip off of Escape from Alcatraz and like Freeman's character he's a great guy who happened to commit an offense so despicable he's in one of the most secure prisons in the country, but we can forget about that, right? The `Brooks was here' hanging himself because he can't keep up is another Hollywood favorite. Who hangs themselves? My gosh, at Nuremberg guys took poison to avoid being hanged because of the shame and disrespect. Yet, Brooks hung himself when at his age he could have waited a week and let nature take its course. Or better yet if Brooks got an old-fashioned whore and binged himself to death on alcohol and mind-altering drugs. Almost sounds like fun, who would prefer hanging? You know who, a character in a movie. That pretty much sums up the Shawshank Redemption, for what its aiming for it misfires because there is nothing genuine or authentic about it.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Barton Fink (1991)
Top movies of the decade? The Thin Red Line, Pulp Fiction, Fargo, Quiz Show, Ed Wood, Gettysburg and BARTON FINK
6 August 2000
*Read this review only if you've seen Barton Fink and want to read analysis, not if your thinking of seeing the movie.

First of all, Barton Fink is some serious brain candy. There are so many issues and so many symbols in this movie that are great to discuss. To name a few big ones, think companionship, jealousy, damnation, fascism, racism, vigilantism, interventionism, pretentiousness, creativity, the right to be a jerk, corporate power and dumb Hollywood style all rolled into a movie that IS writer's block. Like the other Coen brother's movies, there is an absolutely unique feel to the movie, created mostly by fabulous imagery and a handful of great characters. The acting is about the best I've ever seen in a movie. The cast has a lot of 'hey I've seen that guy' guys who are all awesome. They include:

John Turturro - Is there a better actor in the business? No. The Coen brothers and Spike Lee seem to know this, when will the Academy? Turturro carries the movie as Barton Fink, there's amazing depth to his expressions. I love his trance, sort of a "what the hell happened" expression during the scenes on the beach and beside the pool... does the serenity of water signify something about that... maybe a serenity he desires yet would kill his writing? Who knows, there's A LOT to think about in this movie.

Michael Lerner - This guy was fabulous as Lipnick, the studio boss. While his long, loud, chatty lines, are extremely funny but not particularly original, his praise of Barton is genius, hitting a ridiculous high that is absolutely hysterical. Like the other characters, listen carefully to his lines, (if you're not laughing too hard), the second time you see the movie you'll undoubtedly notice something very funny about the line, "Never heard of it. Let's move him to the Grand, or the Wilshire, or hell, he can stay at my place."

Tony Shaloub - He's a great actor and he shows it here. He's a stressed out producer who seems to be the last one to know what movies he's producing. He has a couple great lines.

John Mahoney - He was great in Eight Men Out and Frasier, and he's good in this movie too as a drunk southern writer (Faulkner?) who is somewhat belligerent but at the same time very lofty and whimsical, explaining that he writes simply because he loves to create, the antithesis of Barton's belief that a writer must have pain. It's classic how Barton very quickly turns from admiring him so much to thinking he's a son of a bitch.

Steve Buscemi - He is the perfect cast as Chet (Charon?) the friendly but very eerie hotel clerk. The hotel is already quite bizarre with its odd wallpaper and long empty hallways and Buscemi is the perfect complement to it.

John Goodman - He truly elevates this movie to greatness. His performance was perfect. He captures the essence of the everyman with astounding detail. In his handful of simple scenes with Turturro he is so convincing and genuine that his truth is hard to stomach, could the everyday man slip into evil so easily (Nazism?) and still be such a nice guy? The transition from the very authentic real life feel of the movie to the ridiculous and allegorical conclusion follows Goodman, and he absolutely makes it happen. The transition is jarring at first, but when you think back on it, it makes perfect sense and there are many clues that lead up to it. It is a fantastic finale to an all-time great movie.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Amistad (1997)
Very, Very Good
3 July 2000
Warning: Spoilers
*possible spoilers if your very picky

First of all, this is a great movie. I believe it to be Spielberg's best, way better then his hugely over-rated movies like ET and Saving Private Ryan.

A lot of people complain about this movie pretty much ending half way through, only to have the Africans put on trial again with the movie dragging its way to a second ending. Hey, get real, complaining about that is pretty petty considering it was probably a little more annoying for the real men who had to be tried for their freedom twice then for you sitting on your ass.

A more reasonable complaints would be that Morgan Freeman is wasted in a role that's a static copy of the roles he always plays. Another problem is the once African taken into the British Navy who translates for them. His style is way too nineties-cool-black-dude, the actor who plays him is not very good and clips of him whispering the captives victory chants and sailing back to Africa with them are unecessary and inaccurate respectively.

That said, the good stuff totally out weighs the bad thanks in large part to Djimon Hounsou who is just really damn good. You will be blown away, enough said. Another guy worth watching is the British Naval Officer who is a dead-cool-hard-ass. He's fun to watch and subtly let's you know that Britain really had a lot of the right ideas at that time, more forward then the US and the rest of Europe. Anthony Hopkins is magical of course, you should expect nothing less from him.

One more thing, watch for the scene where one of the Africans is describing what he has deciphered from pictures in the New Testament to Cinque... it is absolutely stunning.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
OVER-RATED!!!!!!
29 May 2000
To many, Dances with Wolves may appear as a beautiful window into a lost culture. If you think so, take a closer look, its not. As a white person myself I find it amusing that every "great" movie about foreign culture features a white protagonist who must integrate. Why not skip that crud and just make the lead character an Indian? What a novel idea, there are surely many candidates (especially since Hollywood can make someone who most of history until 1995 referred to as a tyrant, William Wallace, look like a saint.) Kevin Costner butchers yet another lead character in this movie (his Elliott Ness was just pathetic, I won't start on JFK) as a Union soldier who befriends a group of Indians and begins to adhere to their culture. Luckily for him there just happens to be a white girl kicking it with the tribe, (nothing against Mary McDonnell, her performance was about the only bright spot here) other wise he'd been out of luck. God forbid his integration would go so far as him marrying an Indian, no, no, that might actually have been interesting. Also, every other character in this movie besides Costner and McDonnell falls into one of the following three types: good Indian, bad Indian, absolutely completely despicable rotten white guy. The Scenes with the buffalo are equally ridiculous. We watch the Indians tracking the buffalo down, "Horay! isn't this great, they're slaughtering them but they will use the entire animal!" as opposed to the white people slaughtering them, with disgusting looking skinned carcasses covering the fields (we didn't see any gross carcasses when the Indians killed them) and as if that wasn't enough we get sappy sad music blaring while a baby buffalo wanders the fields looking for his slaughtered mother. PUUUUULLLLLLESE!!!! Do not subject yourself to that kind of manipulative crap! Why didn't the Indians just go collect the dead animals and score an easy meal and a few pairs of liver skin shoes? And besides, I'm sure Indians killed quite a few baby buffalo's parents, AND DIDN'T CARE. This movie is painfully slow, and can basically be partitioned into scenes of Kevin Costner getting his butt kicked, scenes of Costner recovering from the butt kicking and beautiful clips of the country side over a span of only three hours. This movie is totally overrated, stereotyped and racist, the fact that it won the Academy Award is ridiculous but consistent.
9 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
He Got Game (1998)
Pretty lousy
1 April 2000
Overall this movie pretty much sucked, its kind of boring and contrary to what some people say, All-Star Ray Allen is a terrible actor and detracted a lot from the power of the movie, especially when he is paired with the awesome force of Denzel Washington. On the plus side the boy who played young Jesus Shuttlesworth was very similar to Allen... also a terrible actor. Denzel Washington is once again amazingly convincing in his role, this time as a mostly ignorant father with some intriguing wisdom who was sent to prison for accidentally killing his own wife (that scene is ridiculous, unless his wife had a completely separate unnoticed brain tumor that coincidentally hemorrhaged just as Denzel pushed her a whole two feet into the stove.) Other pluses in the movie are an amazing scene involving an agent who talks a great game and Laker Rick Fox, a much more natural actor than Allen, who makes a cameo in an amusing scene as a black college baller who likes his chocolate white. The scenes between Denzel Washington and Milla Jovovich are very nicely done (especially the work by Denzel) although it seems odd that a bum who killed his wife and a cheap tramp shacked up in a sleazy hotel would be two of the most attractive people on the planet. Unfortunately the movie's handful of great scenes are buried by areas of ill-conceived situations and dialogue, blaring music that is poorly chosen and a vintage Spike-Lee-totally-wacked ending.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
October Sky (1999)
Take it for what it is
14 March 2000
Although October Sky is based on a true story, the movie's characters all fall into very specific charactures I'm sure you've seen hundreds of times. That said, its important to watch this movie not looking for 2001 a space odyssey, but for something simple and sweet. The movie uses a variety of common button-pushing/sentimental tricks like: good music (both powerful and sad), family stuff, underdog themes, dirty faces, dying young etc. Although these scenes are very easy to spot, its tough to resist they're charm. In particular is the finale which is button-pushing at its most, yet the facial expressions of the characters, especially Chris Cooper (fine performance) got me. My button was pushed!! Good movie, but not provacative or particularly intruiging, but oh well, October Sky is not that kind of movie. Not every movie can (or should) be an Apocalypse Now or an Amadeus.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A Masterpiece
21 January 2000
Full of rich imagery and detail, Terrance Malick's The Thin Red Line is one of the finest movies ever made. The movie is gripping and poignant, anyone who says its boring and defends that by saying "I got the point" is missing the point. The Thin Red Line is not a lesson to learn, it is a moment to experience, offering the viewer a chance to make his or her own insight. Because of the subject matter and the time of the release, The Thin Red Line begs comparisons to Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, so I'll tell you, The Thin Red Line is far better then Saving Private Ryan. The Thin Red Line derives its power from characters, not graphic violence. Violence is cheap. It seems that Steven Spielberg nailed every detail recreating the carnage of D-Day, that was his goal, the next step was to come up with a silly plot, then the step after that was to come up with a set of cliche laden characters to carry out the plot to show the violence. Life-like characters and scenes take precedence to life-like violence in Malick's film. The acting is stellar, Woody Harleson, Nick Nolte, Sean Penn (perfect cast), Ben Chaplin, John Cusack, Elias Koteas as well as many of the Japanese actors are all outstanding. The only one out of place is Sergeant McCron (horrible performance by John Savage) who is wildly over-the-top in a movie where everything is so beautifully understated. Fortunately he is only in a couple minutes of the movie. The stand-out is no-name James Caviezel who is stunningly brilliant as Kentuckian Private Witt, who speaks volumes with his face alone. This movie is very intelligent, more so than I can fully grasp, but don't watch it thinking that there is some hidden message you have to discover that most Hollywood movies would pummel you with using every cheap sentiment trick. Simply involve yourself in this movie and soak up every image and emotion and when the final credits role and you listen to the Guadalcanal natives singing, you will have appreciated and enjoined a masterpiece.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A Christmas Carol (1999 TV Movie)
Well Done!
12 December 1999
This is a fine version of the classic story. The best move was casting Patrick Stewart as Scrooge. He does a wonderful job. The special effects are good too. Joel Grey was a good cast as the first ghost. I enjoyed seeing him, this being the first movie I've seen him in since his brilliant performance in Cabaret over 25 years ago. Stewart is particularly delightful in the scene of Scrooge's redemption, showing wonderful kindness (with the Cratchits), humility (with his nefew's family) and a rocket for an arm, seriously, check out the strike he playfully throws right into the back of one of the kids laughing and running a way. Good version, well done, great acting by Nolan Ryan, oops I mean Patrick Stewart. ***
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
How come aliens never wear clothes?
6 October 1999
The best thing this movie has going for it is that it is very suspenseful. The acting is unexpectedly pretty good as well. T1000 from terminator was good and so was Andy McCarthy, or was that DB Sweeney? maybe it was John Cusack, or was it Judd Nelson? who gives a damn, they all look alike.

This movie raises a couple questions. These aliens are obviously advanced beyond us, at what point did they decide to stop wearing clothes? Seriously, what would you think if your veterinarian was operating on your dog in the buff? What about their spaceship, how come it can fly all the way to Earth, has an atmosphere suitable for most organisms, has different gravitational pulls in different areas, and can shoot that light beam thing yet looks like the inside of a cave? If the ship is that advanced, why wouldn't they try to make it look nicer? Its all dark with goo all over the place. What kind of advanced beings wouldn't even tile the floors?

Aside from that the puppeteering is pretty lame. The aliens move like muppets, their arms don't bend at the elbows and their eyes look in different directions. They're really cheap.
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
This movie is average
15 August 1999
The acting in this movie is excellent from Oscar winners Jodie Foster and Sir Tony as well as Scott Glenn who was great as the FBI guy and the no-name who played the psycho (excellent job portraying an EXTREMELY ILL character) but the movie is flawed. In reality it won Best Picture because of a severe lack of good movies (seriously, if they decided to make Speed II or Muppets from Outer Space that year, the competition would have been tougher) The movie's big mistake was totally selling out by having Hannibal Lector escape. This draws the movie too far away from its central plot making the movie too much about him. The way I see it, whoever wrote it at first intended Lector to be a deep psychological informant then decided he was too cool to keep under control then decided audiences would prefer him to get out so he damages the story to appease the masses in typical Hollywood fasion, when it would have been much better for him to be locked up the whole time. Had they stuck to having him in the asylum the whole time, the movie would be a totally psychological thirller as opposed to a cheap "whats the nutty douche going to do next now that he's escaped" thriller. Huge mistake, average movie. **1/2
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Alice in Wonderland (1999 TV Movie)
Haven't read read the book, but I liked it
13 August 1999
Boring, strange, but not without its great parts. When I say its strange, I dont mean in the way its intended to be, a lot of the animals that were played by people like the cat and the lizard looked bizarre beyond the scope of the movie. This movie is pretty boring mainly because its remarkable cast (must be at least five oscar nominated people in it) is spread out over bit parts. There's a certain charm to the idea that first rate, famous actors were brought in to play 5 minute spots that were totally unimportant; Pete Posthelwaite, Ben Kingsley, George Wendt and Peter Ustinov to name a few. The best parts in this movie are the ones with the playing card characters. The King, Queen and Jack are by far the most enjoyable characters in the movie, wonderfully played by two guys Ive never heard of, (Jason Flemyng, Simon Russell Beale) and with Miranda Richardson who is just a total riot as the queen of hearts. She and her two counterparts make this movie well worth watching, and their costumes are fabulous. ***
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

Recently Viewed