Reviews

15 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
9/10
Quirky, fun and even scary if like to be
13 November 2004
Neil Gaiman is one of the finest writers out there not only today, but ever. He is also one of the nicest people I have ever met.

This is Neil's first foray into the medium of film as a director, ask him to tell you about the first screenplay he wrote if you want to hear another good scary story. This is a great little short film about one of his favorite Artists and how Mr. Bolton 'finds' his inspiration. I can't tell you much more without making the fun of the film less fun. If you like good stories and creative low budget film that only makes the story that much better, this one is for you.

This film premiered at Comic Con International 2003 to absolutely one the best audience responses I have ever experienced and I have experienced many films over the years with excited audiences, but only one, or two with this much energy and enthusiasm. I can't wait for his Death film.
12 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Slice of life with a side of football
28 May 2003
If you like slice of life stories with lots of fun and true details told in a way that you're sure you have been in a situation just like that, well, you'll love this film. It is just plain fun and sweet. Not sappy, or goofy, but truly enjoyable and one to watch over and over again down the road. If you liked The Full Monty, Waking Ned Divine, and/or My Big Fat Greek Wedding you will love this film. If you appreciate works that capture something you are interested in like food, or football, you love this film. If you love woman's football(soccer for the under educated) then you must see this film. It doesn't hurt that the lead actors are beautiful and people you wish were your friends!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Fabulous Ride for mind, body and soul!
16 May 2003
I have been anticipating this film for quite some time. I have avoided most all the "hype" and advertising of it because I knew this film would be good and didn't want to have anything potentially spoil any element of the story for me, like reading a sound track title which gives away a major plot point, or something equally as lame which was the case with "The Phantom Menace" and the track, 'The Death of Qui-Gon' for many folks. Once again I was treated to a incredible experience full of fun, thought and an excitement level I have felt only a dozen, or so times in the theater in my 30+ years of movie going. This film was not only action packed, but intellectually packed just like its predecessor. It is wonderfully designed again with superb pacing, innovative and attractive costumes, solid dialog, strong acting and of course 'kick ass' special effects and beautiful choreography! My favorite thing about this film is what I loved about its predecessor and films such as "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", which is the balance of a meaty story and exquisite action choreography that allow the actors nearly unprecedented opportunities to shine and create meaningful characters that are interesting to most anyone and loved by millions: something any good story does no matter the medium in which is told.

Woo-ping Yuen should receive a special academy award for his years of beautiful and outstanding choreography in so many wonderful films! Reeves used to bother me at worst ("Dracula" 92) and was tolerable at his best ("Little Buddha") and my wife couldn't stand him at all, yet we both loved him in both Matrix films (even when he says "Whoa. Free your mind, free your mind" and sound a lot like 'Ted'). Fishburne is the epitome of cool and confidence and that ability is allowed to shine here even more than before. It is only bonus that all he believes in falls into question once more in his life! Again, the hallmark of a great story.

I could go on and on in so many directions, but I will not. Suffice it to say that if you are a fan, or even have some interest in action movies that have not only heart, but actual soul you will enjoy this film. You might even find yourself loving it. The Wachowski brothers are a pair to watch out for since all the films they have made are far above average. These two have done more to make films more visually interesting than any other directors save perhaps Ridley Scott and Akira Kurosawa. The fact that they are also the writers of their stories makes them all that much more exciting. I have seen "Reloaded" twice now and will see it again in a few days. I am sure I will continue to find more to love. Having a super enthusiastic audience, as my first viewing (5/14/03 at 10 PM) did, makes it all that much more enjoyable. You know a film is good when most of the audience not only laughs at the same time, but OOOHs and Ahhhs as well and then stays through all the credits (something I do 95% of the time) as a scant few do! Yeee Ha can't wait till November!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Good "dancing", but not as good a story.
25 January 2003
While still a fun romp with a pair of humorous guys Knights was not nearly as good as Noon. Some of the jokes where very good and well timed and the "singin' in the rain" tribute was excellent in its construction and flawlessly executed. There was not much substance in this adventure however and nothing new was learned about our "heros". The creation of a sister was a good touch, making her more than capable of taking care of herself was also nice. Not showing her using her brain much, was sad: making her the damsel in distress was depressing. I will not waste your time any more than to say that if you like pure action flicks, or are a huge Chan fan than it will be a fun ride, but nothing more. Worth a watch on DVD.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Narc (2002)
9/10
Beautiful, harsh, intimate and intensely real
14 January 2003
This is not one for the faint of heart, or those who can not handle violence well. This isn't for those of who want a happy, or even happish ending. This is not for those who want a simple story that is feed in simple easy pieces. This is for folks who want to see the medium of cinema used to the fullest. This is for those who want a story that is about characters just being human beings. This is a film for those who are not afraid to deal with dark things in overt and subtle ways, just like life. This is for folks who have a desire to inspect themselves and the lives they lead. Narc is one the best edited and over all crafted films I have ever seen. The entire creative cast and crew of this films deserves a resounding round of applause. Thank you for telling a hard story well and not holding back, or over blowing any of the elements. Thank you for not trying to Lighten up the ending. Thank you.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Good ride again, but...
20 November 2002
I am a big Harry Potter book fan, thus I am sad to say that this film is again greatly lacking in the wonderfulness of the books. However, it is decent film that is fun to watch with Grint again giving the best performance. Branagh and Coulson close seconds. Both owned the parts wholly. I am sad that again Columbus missed some of the finer points about the characters, especially the Weasly family and their importance. Too much effort with the "action" rather than the story which is truly unnecessary and often unbelievable, such as the Quiditch match that missed much of the point of it and put the story action out of view of the characters for us the audiences sake. Wonderful art direction and cinematography, but still lacking in the emotion of the books.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Frida (2002)
10/10
lusciously divine!
20 November 2002
Frida is a passionately luscious film, just like the woman herself. Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina are outstanding in all they bring to an already wonderful story that was superbly adapted (too bad Edward Norton doesn't get "official" credit for the final draft). One of the more beautiful films of the last ten years with an outstanding use of music to give an English language "Spanish" film its Hispanic heart. What I loved most about this fine work was not just the story of several interesting folk, but how delectable our journey is as we learn about them and the juxtaposition of the subtleties and meretriciousness of the personalities; art, politics and passions of the two main characters. One the best edited films of all time and much of the reason the story sucks you into it. Yes, there are "sex scenes", but they are not only warranted by the story, but beautifully crafted like the painting of the artists and even those who are not fond of sex scenes shouldn't be offended. This was also one of the few films I have ever seen where the entire audience clapped at the end and then began to discus it for some time. A must see if you love the medium of film and would like to see the person who may well be able to replace Kubrick!
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Ring (2002)
10/10
A new classic film telling a story that everyone should experience and learn from: accept children for who they are and listen to them, or else!
29 October 2002
This film was wonderfully thrilling. I have not seen its like since Psycho, Jaws, or Alien. Genuinely creepy with believable dark tones and still a twisted sort of happy ending: like any good "classic" fairy tale. Many a Homage to many a classic thriller and/or scary film with the most obvious being Psycho (you will notice without me saying). It has it all the "must haves" of a stereo typical "thriller" including the car chase; the damsel in distress (and getting herself out with minimal assistance), and people looking for trouble and walking into certain death. Oh yeah, and the obligatory up the stairwell shot. None of this detracts from the film however, it only adds texture and flavor! The cinematography is lush and only makes the pacing taste even richer. My favorite spice in this endeavor however was the sound and music which are outstanding and as integral to the scare and fun as they were in Psycho and Jaws. Zimmer bows to Herman all over the place. I will say no more for you shouldn't know to much before you see it, else you might not have as much fun. All I will say is if you love movies and all the "little touches" that can be put in, sit through ALL the credits, all of them and listen carefully to the little song being sung at the end, it is the icing on the cake!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Best of the Modern Myth that is Star Wars
15 May 2002
Tomorrow night at Midnight I will see the next chapter in the saga that is Star Wars. Tonight I watched them all again to refresh my memory of what it is all about to give a better viewing of Episode II: Attack of the Clones tomorrow night at 12 am. I initially saw Episode VI: Return of the Jedi on its opening weekend in Eureka, CA as a full fledged, but young movie aficionado of sixteen years. Hitchcock flicks were my favorite at that time. Hitch is still one of my favorite past filmmaker with Hawks and Capra close seconds. These days my tastes lean to Scorsese, Aronofsky and the Coen Brothers. Coppola, Speilburg and Lucas are wonderful and very good, but to me are more great craftsman than great artists. All have had artistic successes (The Godfather, Schindler's List and THX 1138), but I think they are better craftsman than artists over all. Lucas is by far one of the greatest producers and craftsman of all time and has done more for true independent film and the medium of film than possibly any director/producer since Chaplin. I also feel strongly that Jedi is the best Star Wars film thus far. It has tighter pacing, more realistic and fluid dialog and wonderful performances all around. Richard Marquand probably has a great deal to do with this, but the experience of cast and crew may be the primary reason. There was a fluidity in Jedi that the first one lacked, and the second one nearly reached, but not quite. The cinematography was astounding with a mastery of the effects the first two pioneered. The campy stuff was still there, but it was more natural and the cast was comfortable with it using it as a tool without stumbling over it. The cast and crew had found a chemistry that was remarkable for any film. The "weaknesses" of any of the Star Wars films as pieces of "art", or even craft are dwarfed by their emotional impact and timing of release. I was ten when I saw Episode IV: A New Hope for the first time (several weeks after it was released) and I had to share a seat in the front row with my younger brother who didn't like me much at the time. Once the music started and the words rolled up the screen we didn't care and loved every single second! All we told our dad when he met us out front afterwards was "can we see it again dad, can we see it again dad...". I saw it eleven time in the theater that summer including three time in a row on a great day. This is amazing since my town had only one theatre/screen and it was exceptional that it stayed around long enough for me see it as often as I did. The Trilogy was the first VHS I ever owned (my mother paid $70 each in 85). I saw Jedi only for times that summer, I had to work unlike in my younger days. My point is that emotional attachment, or detachment to a film is as equally important to what a person may think of it critically as a piece of art, or entertainment. I have loved all the Star Wars films and have seen them all except for the first one on its opening day and even the first show of that day with the last two! All that said however, I wouldn't call all of them "great films". Important and amazing films, "Hell Ya!". Some of the best rides I have ever had, "Hell Ya!". Worth watching all in a row every now and again, you bet. Episode VI is the most "artistic" of all the films thus far because it has the advantage of tons of rehearsal and chemistry to rely upon and the advantage of a creator/producer who is responsible to no one but himself and to a much lesser extent the fans. I think part of why Jedi is the best may be the fact that I knew that the "Blue Harvest" film shot near Crescent City (where I lived at the time) was really Star Wars III (episode VI), where they shot all the wonderful "forest" scenes. I didn't watch them do it, but knowing it was happening and that the speeder chases were truly impossible (since I lived and played Star Wars in those woods for years), yet there they were right in front of my eyes in truly believable DeLuxe color (my favorite by the way) . This may be why Jedi still has the strongest hold on my heart! I don't think that the story of Jedi is vastly superior to that of Empire, but it is more complex and deals with sophisticated things that I enjoy. I am more into temptation, redemption and what is and is not destiny and how much control over such a thing do we have. These things are more deeply explored and acted out in Jedi as is the love aspect of family, friends and romance. A touch sappy in some spots and simplistic in others, but hey George always tells us that he is trying to reach your average twelve year old more than anyone else and these films do just that! Love one, love them all it is tough to chose in some ways, but Jedi has my vote.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
An even more fluid and fun ride than the first one.
15 May 2002
Tomorrow night at Midnight I will see the next chapter in the saga that is Star Wars. Tonight I watched them all again to refresh my memory of what it is all about to give a better viewing of Episode II: Attack of the Clones tomorrow night at 12 am. I initially saw Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back on its opening weekend in a small theater in Crescent City, CA as a touch more than a neophyte movie aficionado. Hitchcock flicks were my favorite at that time. Hitch is still one of my favorite past filmmaker with Hawks and Capra close seconds. These days my tastes lean to Scorsese, Aronofsky and the Coen Brothers. Coppola, Speilburg and Lucas are very good, but to me are more great craftsman than great artists. All have had artistic successes (The Godfather, Schindler's List and THX 1138), but I think they are better craftsman than artists over all. Lucas is by far one of the greatest producers and craftsman of all time and has done more for true independent film than possibly any director/producer since Chaplin. I also feel strongly that Empire is a far better film than Star Wars with tighter pacing, dialog and performances all around. The was a fluidity that the first one lacked and feel that was built in was not only what was "tight about it". The "weaknesses" of Star Wars as a piece of "art", or even craft is dwarfed by its emotional impact and timing of release. I was ten when I saw it the first time (several weeks after it was released) and I had to share a seat in the front row with my younger brother who didn't like me much at the time. Once the music started and the words rolled up the screen we didn't care and loved every single second! All we told our dad when he met us out front afterwards was "can we see it again dad, can we see it again dad...". I saw it eleven time in the theater that summer including three time in a row on a great day. This is amazing since my town had only one theatre/screen and it was exceptional that it stayed around long enough for me see it as often as I did. The Trilogy was the first VHS I ever owned (my mother paid $70 each in 85). My point is that emotional attachment, or detachment to a film is equally important to what a person may think of it critically as a piece of art, or entertainment. I have loved all the Star Wars films and have seen them all except for the first one on its opening day and even the first show of that day with the last two! All that said however, I wouldn't call any of them "great films". Important and amazing films, "Hell Ya!". Some of the best rides I have ever had, "Hell Ya!". Worth watching all in a row every now and again, you bet. Episode V is more of a love story and character developing episode IV which is why it tends to be many folks favorite thus far. Knowing it will be a blast and finding out that Vader is really Luke's dads only bolsters it. I think Jedi is the best still and part of that may be the fact that I knew that Blue Harvest was really Star Wars III (episode VI) when they shot all the wonderful "forest" scenes. I didn't watch them do it, but knowing it was happening and that the speeder chases were truly impossible (since I lived and played Star Wars in those woods), yet there they were right in front of my eyes. This may be why it still has the strongest hold on my heart! I don't think that the story of Jedi significantly better than Empire, but I am more into temptation, redemption and what is and is not destiny which is more deeply explored and acted out in Jedi. Love one, love them all it is tough to chose.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Spider-Man (2002)
7/10
Poignant, fun and a faithful adaptation to the original comic book
1 May 2002
Poignant, fun and a faithful adaptation to the original comic book. I am very critical of comic book movies since I am a huge fan of the medium and was tremendously disappointed in the Superman and Batman movies (all of them, some greatly!). This film however has again demonstrated that an adaptation of a comic book story can be fun and faithful to the story, yet be a film for all ages and those who may not have ever even read a comic book. The Crow was the only other good comic book movie in my opinion, but it was not an all ages fun ride as this is!

I had the privilege of seeing the film last night, 4-30-02, in SF with the press and 300+ other folks for its "Bay Area Premiere".

The acting is the finest portion of the film with the leads giving us depth that I was unsure would be allowed by the style of story chosen. Maguire was outstanding at being a guy who can rarely catch a break, but attract difficulty with ease and aplomb. He is awkward with the woman he loves, but eloquent when dealing with the familiar, just as most teenagers are even today. He gave us wonderful joy at the prospect of "web swinging" and kicking some much deserved ass! Dafoe is wonderfully scary as the man who has succumbed to the power games of the corporate world that drives a decent man mad striving for perfection in himself while trying to hard to please all the wrong people to no avail and then being consumed by guilt that has built over the years of family neglect which finally helps to push him over the edge when an opportunity to make a huge mistake presents itself.

The rest of cast is nearly as spectacular with the J.K. Simmons turning in the best performance in the film as J. Jonah Jamason. When he appeared on screen things lite up even more and he was on fire making everyone in the audience laugh and myself nearly p** my pants. Harris as Aunt May and Robertson as Uncle Ben were excellent choices and gave the film a great deal of its credibility and finesse. Letting what happens to Ben and Peter (I am not telling) was wonderful and the best punctuation to what makes Peter do what he does and brings complete credibility to the story. I am not a huge Dunst fan, but she was just fine as the love of Peter Parker's life and a person much like Peter only neither was conscious of the fact. This to me is a more real version of "true love".

The script was far stronger than I expected with some wonderful dialog; verbal exchanges, solid plot points and pacing. Many a good parenting lesson can be found in this film as well as interesting thoughts about the choices that we make in life that we might think are no big deal when in the heat of passion, but may well come back to haunt us if we don't think before we act/speak: which is the trust of the film in my humble opinion.

The direction from Raimi was also much better than I anticipated coming from someone who is known (and loved) for his over the top camp and action. Many of the fight and action sequences where more "over done" than I like, but they were solid and much like a comic of the Silver Age from whence the story comes so it fit the film fine. Nice cinematography without the CGI taking over and detracting from the realism, in fact it made much of the web swinging truly believable. A few points made things a bit hard to "believe", but over all I think most folks will be able to suspend their disbelief.

Danny Elfman. Need I say more? He is the man when it comes to "super hero" music and is the closest thing to John Willams and the late great Bernard Herman there is today. He subtly sets the mood and most of the audience probably doesn't even realize it. Tomorrow is my day off and I will be purchasing the score to add to my collection!
83 out of 118 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Amadeus (1984)
10/10
Exquisite journey into two tormented souls
18 April 2002
The directors cut of Amadeus is far better than I initially anticipated. I knew I would find it satisfying since it's one of my top 20 films of all time, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was significantly better. Much like the directors cuts of The Abyss, or more appropriately, Touch of Evil's "restored" edition the film has a clearer story and smoother pace with a tighter climax. It is too bad that many studios and/or producers feel the need to shorten films for fear of the audience being lost and/or bored. One would think that with the success of so many "long" films even since the early days of the medium the industry would have learned that folks do not mind a well done story even if it is long no matter the medium. Anyway, I had not seen this film on the Big Screen since its initial release and not on video for many years so it was wonderful to see it as it was meant to be viewed. The print was of above average quality for one that had made the rounds for sometime which was also wonderful since it let the fabulous sound resound and stir the passions of the film as it was designed. The power of the music and the imagery was nearly breathtaking (it was a small screen with a slightly aging sound system where I watched it) and more powerful than I remember as a senior in high school. My favorite aspects of the film however are still a toss up between the score and the performances of Abrahms and Hulce, exquisite it the only word that comes close. The costumes and set where of course first rate and helped create the mood without over powering it and I found that the cinematography was more interesting and subtle than I remember. The script was witty with just a few dashes of charm which accentuated the horror and sadness wonderfully, like your favorite meal, or piece of music! It is still wonderful to delve into the depths of tormented soul as this film does so perfectly. See this film again, especially if you have yet to see this cut!
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Goofy, Sappy... Damn Fun
7 April 2002
This is the most fun I have had at a film in some time. Goofy, sappy, and deadly serious all balanced like a wonderful meal. The performances are top notch, which is to be expected from Williams and Norton, but the whole cast was perfect. The first thing out my best friend's mouth when we left was "I am ready to see it again.", my wife and I agreed. Few films, or stories in any medium, have thought to attack the subjects this film does and none have achieved the level of thoughtfulness, humor and pure enjoyment. The "morals" of this story are simple and clear, not that they don't show the complexity of life and every situation, but it makes clear that there are basic ideals that most folks agree with and try to live by and that no matter how dark and/or difficult things may seem, if you let things like the "Golden Rule" influence your thinking process, things will work out for the best in the end. Oh yeah, if Barney, the Tella Tubies, or the Beatles (All You Need is Love) bug you this film's thrashing of them as well as elevating them will make you feel better. Few folks can combine Dark humor with Lite humor and serious issues in a way that make you not only pay attention, but love the ride no matter where it takes you. The music in this film stand out as much as the subject and the fact that Norton wrote some of the tunes and made you like them while in a big "fuchsia" rhino suit, well you decide.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
In your face Adventure
2 February 2002
Bang!! Off you go with beautiful visual; sound music and ideas. The presentation is brutally harsh, but believable and interesting (at first) to those open to it. Folks with weak stomachs for brutality should definitely beware since it one of the most realistic and harsh movies ever brought to the screen. Some nice dialog that is witty and well delivered (or lack of dialog in Mark Dacoscos' case) in the first half. The first half of the film is beautifully crafted even if some of the performances and story elements are weak. The film unfortunately suffers in the last half when the director tries to hard to have lots of "action" and tie up the story ideas that had already been laid out while adding a few new things for flavor. Too much concentration on the gruesomeness and action leaves the story far behind and most of the performances reflect this. These weaknesses don't make this a bad film, but weaken it significantly unlike From Hell which made use of the gruesome elements to punctuate the story. A good movie over all, lots of fun in many places with Mark Dacascos giving the best performance overall and (not just because he kicked a lot of butt!) Edith Scob and Emilie Dequenne close seconds. It is worth watching in good theater with a big screen and great sound, but it provides little in the sense of intellectual stimulation and romance as one might hope it would. I give a 7.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Unbreakable (2000)
8/10
Examining the Icon of the Hero
25 November 2000
M. Night Shyamalan has again created a wonderful film that is unique and surprising. Pacing is something Shyamalan pays a lot of attention to and it pays off here just as it did in Sixth Sense. The story is well thought out with wonderful touches of social commentary that are anything, but preachy.

The cinematography and camera work are superb and well matched by the sound design and editing. The costumes are perfectly real while still putting the characters into the look necessary to represent their place in the heroic cycle that this film represents. The drama is real, be it harsh, funny, or thought provoking. A great examination of what is a hero.

I would say that this film is very in the tradition of Hitchcock; it has a man who doesn't want to be a hero becoming the hero, this man must face things within himself that he doesn't want to, a woman/love is his primary weakness and the thrills come from the pacing and drama that creates the tension we all know and love. The action and music are the spices!

Enough about the more technical stuff. This is the best comic book movie ever made because it concentrates on the subject of the Hero as Icon and explains why comics have had the power they have always had. Comics are very much like movies an let us hope the audience realizes this by the end of the film. The power of words and pictures (or no words at all) is astounding and if you don't think this is true then you need to think about this idea a good deal more. This film many well be as misunderstood as the medium of comics, but it will help many see them a little bite differently.

The best thing though, is this was still a fun film with good suspense and action for those who need either, or.

The acting was top notch as we expect from the primary actors with Samuel L. Jackson showing us again why he is "the man", or one "Bad Mother----". Willis is once again the super hero he is nearly always cast as, but never so blatantly. This film would not be what it is without these two actors. Robin Wright Penn and Spencer Treat Clark also wonderfully accent them leads and their themes.

A must see for folks who just love film, who love comics, or who love good father and son flicks.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this