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Utterly Predictable "Thriller"
7 February 2003
About 15 minutes in, there is a moment that gives away the entire film. I sat through the rest of the film (I was with friends or I would have just left) knowing the ending, and wondering just how long they could drag it out. It was a long time - believe me.

This wasn't a terrible movie, it was just predictable, like 95% of all the films I see now. I want something original, whether it's story, or visual, or just plain funny. This movie has none of that. Kevin Spacey is good as usual, but there's not much for him to work with. Laura Linney played the same role she always plays, and Kate Winslet seemed to be somewhere else.

It also has nothing new to say on the Death Penalty, which a movie like this should. I think their argument is that it should be abolished, but it's hard to tell. I went to a screening that Spacey and Linney were at, and they answered questions about the film afterward. Spacey summed up the film's view on the Death Penalty when he said (I'm paraphrasing, of course) that he'd personally like to be against it, but so many factors weigh on on each case, it's hard to choose one way or the other. I just wish the film had taken a stance and stuck to it, one way or the other. It would have been much more entertaining.
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Hilarious, fantastic portrayal of disaffected college grads
16 January 2003
If I had to pick one movie that I was forced to watch again and again, it may be this one. Not that this is Citizen Kane or The Godfather, it's just that it speaks to me. Never has anyone dealt with disaffection in such a witty manner. Every character has something to say on the subject, and it's hysterical. I really GET all of the characters, even if I can't identify with some of them. None of the actors appear to be TRYING, which most seem to do in films of this genre. Josh Hamilton's portrayal of Grover is subtle but outstanding. Olivia d'Abo is radiant, and (retainer and all), I can't take my eyes off of her. Chris Eigeman steals every scene he's in, as usual, and missed his calling as a stand-up comedian - he's that funny. Baumbach's use of flashbacks is one of the most effective I've ever seen, and the transitions to flashbacks look amazing. And finally, this movie is infinitely quotable. "Cookie Man, go away", "I gotta go - I gotta sleep with a freshman", "Jane 2: Electric Boogaloo?", and "Oh, I've been to Prague" still crack me up after 20 or 30 viewings of this film (need the DVD to come out before my tape wears out).

So I can't say enough about this film. If you haven't seen it, go buy it.

P.S. What happened to Noah Baumbach? Sophomore and Junior jinxes with his two follow-ups. Bad movies. Oh well, "Kicking and Screaming" more than makes up for them.
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Bizarre, Hilarious, Story of True Love.
28 October 2002
I haven't been more pleased leaving a theater since I saw Mulholland Drive for the third time late last year. While I was not a big fan of P.T. Anderson's previous movies, I found myself wanting to see this movie again, and I probably wouldn't even mind paying for it (this was a free screening). Adam Sandler is basically himself without the childish impersonations and the anger turned up a few notches. He has quite a few nice moments, not the least of which is an impromptu dance of joy. Emily Watson is actually smart and radiant (haven't liked a single one of her films until now) and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Luis Guzman were perfect as usual.

There are a couple of sub-plots (one based on a true story of pudding and frequent flier miles) that are as bizarre as Adam Sandler actually acting, but they really work in this film.

It's hard to call this a "romantic comedy", but our leads fall in love and I laughed out loud throughout the film, so it gets that label. But it's certainly the most unconventional romantic comedy I've seen in years.
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Pretty average
28 October 2002
If you're Greek (I'm not), this might be funny, but otherwise, it's not very clever. Just a standard romantic comedy with an un-charismatic leading lady and a wasted John Corbett. Utterly predictable, completed by the "surprise" family acceptance at the end.
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xXx (2002)
Consistently Cheesy and Great Action
8 August 2002
About what I expected. XXX is filled with the standard corny one-liners you always see in action movies, but in this one Vin Diesel gets to deliver most of them. He's about the coolest guy on the planet right now. And the stunts looked great - like Vin really was jumping off of a car falling off of a bridge or outrunning an avalanche (great sequence, even if totally unbelievable). If you loved the "good" 80s and early 90s Schwarzenegger flicks (or if you could recognize Tony Hawk in a crowd), then you'll love this movie. Definitely 95% entertainment (meaning it's meant for the 95% of moviegoers who wouldn't know a Bergman film from a Buñuel film), but it's also a glimpse at how big Vin will become.
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The One (2001)
Great Cheesy Action Flick
3 November 2001
This movie has everything you want from a Cheesy Action Flick(TM). Scientifically Impossible Plot(also TM), great fight scenes, nice effects, and even a cameo from someone only a true film buff would recognize ("American Movie", anyone?). Worth the price of admission to see Jet Li kick the crap out of himself! Best Cheesy Action Flick (TM) since "The Rock"!
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Lynch's best film, and Film of the Year
12 October 2001
Lynch's best movie to date - a brilliant ode to insanity, and what Lost Highway should have been (and I loved that movie). Naomi Watts is amazing as Betty as there is much more to her than her backwoods Canada persona. Mulholland Dr. is full of electric scenes (including the most haunting lip-sync I've ever seen) and plot twists and characters that will have you talking about this film for weeks. Certainly better than Memento, but I don't know why it draws comparison as they are completely different in tone and subject. This gets my vote for best film of the year.
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Mediocre at best
30 August 2000
It is a sad day when a film like American Beauty wins an Oscar for Best Picture (although the Academy hardly ever chooses the absolute best film of the year anymore), and is currently 3rd on a list (IMDB Top 250) with Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Dr. Strangelove and so many other truly great films behind it. As far as the Academy goes, they can be forgiven because 1999 was such a poor year for good films. The Matrix, Election, Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, and maybe one or two others deserved attention. Since it had the hype, and an amazing actor in Kevin Spacey, winning over the above-mentioned films was easy. As far as the IMDB voters go, they (we) can be forgiven for pretty much the same reason. Films today suck. There are exceptions, as with everything, but when a mediocre film like American Beauty gets raves like it has, you know something is wrong. The script was the worst part of this movie. Colonel Fitts and all three females were caricatures and made me cringe anytime any of them did ANYTHING! Kevin Spacey was great as usual - I would love to see this character in a good film. Wes Bentley proved himself a very good actor, but didn't have much to work with. And talk about predictable! What's up with telling us Lester's going to die in a year? As soon as I saw the guns in Fitt's house, I knew he would kill him. As soon as we understood Fitts was a homophobe, I knew why he would kill him. (That scene where he watches through the obscured window belonged on a bad sitcom) As soon as Angela ran her mouth about sleeping with the photographer to get a job, I knew she was a virgin. There were so many scenes that were laughable (not funny, but so bad I had to laugh). Extreme amateur writing. Not that I could do any better, but hey, I'm an amateur too. Admittedly I usually figure out the mysteries 10 minutes in, and so most films bore me. But this one insulted me. It looked worth a rental from the trailer (mainly because of Spacey), but I finally gave in and paid to see it at a theater just before the Oscars so I could compare all of the nominees. Mistake.

Another reviewer said that anyone who rated this poorly missed out. Well, if missing out means liking amateurish scripts, then I'll gladly "miss out" the rest of my life. I urge all of you to watch this again and compare it to an Oscar winner from the 40s through the 70s (The Apartment, Annie Hall, On the Waterfront all immediately come to mind). Doesn't belong anywhere in the neighborhood of any of these.
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10/10? Hardly
7 January 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Note: Minor spoilers follow: This has been a very sad year for movies. American Beauty and The Green Mile get praise like this? Not in a good year for Hollywood. I can think of only 4 films that would even be mentioned on a Top Ten list, and this certainly isn't one of them. Sure, it was well done and the acting was top-notch, but the screenplay was horrible. Cut the "bookends" with the old man, get rid of the mouse, have the characters show some kind of intelligence, and cut the movie to about 120-130 minutes, and I'd be on the bandwagon. Too many problems to call a masterpiece, or even "great".
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Fargo (1996)
7 January 2000
The most "blah" of the Coen's films (At least The Big Lebowski had that hilariously bad musical number and Jeff Bridges). Average in every way, except it was acted extremely well. William Macy was especially good; Buscemi and Stormare were great. Ms McDormand was competent, but hardly deserved a nomination, much less the award. It's way too easy to play a caricature like that. The script was predictable, which is very surprising for the Coens. They usually take me on a fantastic journey, but here I was just wishing for mute button (those accents! ugh!) and a good book.
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Barton Fink (1991)
This is why I love the Coens
7 January 2000
If you think Fargo was brilliant, then you haven't seen Barton Fink. Of all of the Coen's movies, this is by far the best. John Turturro gives the most exquisite performance, and everyone else seemed to be elevated to his level. Tony Shaloub is especially memorable - any actor would have loved to have that part. John Goodman is very good here, which surprised me a bit. The writing is top-notch, and the timing of what comedy there is is impeccable. Before Fargo, the Coens didn't make anything less than a great film. I hope they get back to this kind of genius soon.
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Brazil (1985)
Now this is a movie!
7 January 2000
Possibly the most perfect movie I have ever seen. Gilliam shines here, as do all of the actors. The sets are wonderful and fit the tone of the movie perfectly. At the end, I was surprised and satisfied at the same time. If the movie ended any other way (yes, I'm talking to you Sid), it would have been disastrous. Bravo, Terry!
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