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10/10
Before the Revolution?
12 October 2006
December 22, 1989. What exactly happened that day in Bucharest? We know Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu left the country bringing about the end of Communism, but, was there ever really a revolt?

This might be a touchy subject for a movie to some Romanians. I mean, after all, the movie is asking questions and challenging the country's history. And there are people who are still alive who can tell us what happened. But, Corneliu Porumboiu's feature lenght directorial debut shouldn't cause any controversy.

"12:08 East of Bucharest" is many things. First of all it is one of the best Romanian movies I have ever seen. It is also one of the best films I've seen in 2006. It is one of the funniest movies I've seen this year and was the best movie I saw at the Chicago International Film Festival this year. But the one thing it is not is a controversial film.

What makes a film just as this so good is the way it weaves a serious subject with humor. Who would have thought a subject about the Romanian revolution could have been so funny? Romanians, and really most of us Eastern Europeans (I'm Hungarian) have a very sarcastic sense of humor. And that humor is shown in spades in this film. In fact the audience I saw this film with (and it was a packed house) were also in fits of laughter. I started laughing at myself for laughing. I was even trying to hold it in so I wouldn't disturb the people sitting next to me.

The film mostly follows three men, Virgil Jderescu (Teodor Corban) the host of a TV show that is going to discuss the 16th anniversary of that fateful day and his two guest, both of whom claim to have been there, Mr. Manescu (Ion Sapdaru) and Mr. Piscoci (Mircea Andeescu).

The first half of the movie introduces these characters to us as each gets ready for the show. The second half of the movie is the TV show itself.

I've complained lately that one of the reason Romanian films don't get distributed in America is because Romanians are going away from what they know. The country has tried so hard to maintain the image it is not behind with the times and wants to impress Western society. This is a big mistake. Don't care what Western audiences will think. Just make films about your country and deal with subjects that are meaningful to you (by "you" I mean Romanian directors). Earlier this year we saw "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu". There was a film that dealt with a "Romanian" problem and people all over the world not only enjoyed it, but, were able to relate to it. This, I believe, would happen more often if Romanian directors followed their hearts instead of some demographic.

"12:08 East of Bucharest" is dealing with a major part of Romanian history and the outcome is a brilliant film that all audience members should be able to relate to. The humor also helps the film by keeping the audience engaged.

I hope we see more films like this. And I also hope director Corneliu Porumboiu keeps making films and hopefully they will be shown in America.

p.s. I also wanted to quickly point out a similarity I found between this film and Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Spider's Stratagem". Both films question a time in history. Are there such things as heroes? Does fact ever get mixed with fiction? How can we separate the two? When is a lie more important than the truth, if ever? These are important things to think about.
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Rokonok (2006)
10/10
All in the Family
10 October 2006
Hungarian Attorney General caught amid web of scandal!

No wait! That's not taken from the headlines. It's just one way to describe Istvan Szabo's new film Rokonok.

Up and coming Hungarian actor Sandor Csanyi (who starred in last year's "Kontroll" and the upcoming "Just Sex and Nothing Else") plays the newly appointed attorney general Istvan Kopjass, who suspiciously finds on the day of his appointment, a whole new set of distant relatives, all of whom want some sort of political favor.

The film is based on a novel written by Zsigmond Moricz, which was filmed once before in 1954. Then, as now, Hungary was in political turmoil. Back in '54 when the novel was written it could have been seen as an attack on the Soviet led Communist government in Hungary. Today it plays as an attack on all politicians. Of course the recent news about Prime Minister Gyurcsany doesn't help matters much either.

Szabo, who is the only Hungarian director to have won an Academy Award back in 1981 for his film "Mephisto", is working with one of his favorite themes. The corruption power can bring and the moral responsibility that comes with power. Unlike his trilogy of doomed figures in historic times ("Mephisto", "Colonel Redl" and "Hanussen") Szabo approaches this material as comedy. The film is mostly concerned with getting laughs and visual eye candy.

The cinematography by longtime Szabo regular Lajos Koltai gives the film an old-fashioned look. The film is suppose to take place during the 1930s. The film displays a wonderful use of bright colors, yet despite the color, I felt a hint of nostalgia.

The performances are quite effective as well. Csanyi, who is something of a heartthrob in Hungary, displays an impressive range. He exhibits a good gift for comedy. He mostly plays the part straight, never relying upon broad comedic slapstick gestures. By playing it straight Csanyi makes the part even funnier. This allows the audience the slight chance to accept his character and the situation as possible.

Ildiko Toth is the moral center of the film as she tries to keep Kopjass grounded and warns him to watch the people around him. Her performance contradicts Csanyi in this sense. Csanyi is more free and loose where Toth is more reserved and restricted.

It's hard to say how most audience members will react to this film. Casual moviegoers may like it. The audience I saw this film with at the Chicago International Film Festival seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. It was a packed house. Hardcore Szabo fans may complain the film doesn't dwell deep enough into Kopjass dilemma and make use of all the psychological undertones that could have been. But, to view the film in that context I think is a mistake. Only because Szabo doesn't seem interested in that aspect with this film. Szabo simply wanted to make something lighthearted and for that you can't hold it against him. The film accomplishes what it set out to do.
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Anything Else (2003)
7/10
"Anything Else" Reminds Us Of Everything Else Woody Allen Has Made!
20 September 2003
When it comes to Woody Allen films I'm at opposite ends with the rest of the world because I actually like Woody Allen. He makes me laugh. And I keep the annual ritual of attending his film opening day. I unlike many enjoy his recent films. "Small Time Crooks", "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" and "Hollywood Ending" all made me laugh. I think they were all amusing charming diversions worth 90 or so minutes of your time. And also unlike the rest of the world, I like to see Woody in the starring role. I wait every year to see him in his new movie. I love the persona he has created. I love the stammering, neurotic, wise-cracking smarta@@ he plays. But, "Anything Else" has me in middle-ground. I'm not going to be like others and say Woody has lost his touch. Because I honestly don't feel he has. But "Anything Else" has two main problems. And one of them I predicted before seeing this movie. Number one, I dislike the cast. I'm not a big fan of Danny DeVito or Stockard Channing. I don't find Jimmy Fallon funny. And although I do think Christina Ricci was great in "The Ice Storm" I couldn't quite see her in a "Woody Allen film". Same goes for Jason Biggs. The other problem is, Woody seemed to burrow too much from his older films with this one. I mean it even goes as far as to repeated dialogue from other films. If your really a Woody Allen fan I can't imagine people not being able to find comparisons to other films like "Annie Hall" (I think of "Anything Else" as mostly "Annie Hall" for the kids), "Manhattan", "Broadway Danny Rose", and "Hannah & Her Sisters". "Anything Else" has Jason Biggs playing Jerry Falk. A young up-and-coming comedy writer. He is just too nice of a guy. He lets everyone walk all over him including his manager Harvey (DeVito) who actually takes 25% of his cut. Then there's Amanda (Christine Ricci). His girlfriend who drives him up the wall. In her Jerry just finds one problem after another. She always late for everything, she thinks she's fat, she doesn't want to sleep with him anymore, she tells her mother played by Stockard Channing, that she can move in with them. And on top of everything she openly admits to have been cheating on him! And he puts up with it. But, through everything Jerry does have one friend, David Dobel (Woody Allen). Dobel is a comedy writer also. And he too is trying to make it in the business. Of course he's a 60 year old school teacher. Now for all of those people who have been complaining that Allen doesn't make films like he use to I must say "Anything Else" comes closest to fulling that spot than anything else (no pun intended) he has made recently. The movie has it's characters speaking about old movies, and jazz music. They discuss literature and goes to jazz clubs and quote poems and lines from books. In the same way Allen made his character talk in films like "Annie Hall", "Manhattan" and "Husbands & Wives". The movie has nice location shots of New York, mostly central park. The liked the soundtrack to the movie. In the opening credits Allen has Billie Holiday singing Cole Porter's "Easy to Love". But, this leads to another problem. Does Allen or the people at Dreamworks really think that this kind of material will relate to younger crowds. Do you think that teens will understand the name dropping that goes on in this movie naming people like Humphrey Bogart, Cole Porter, Dostoevsky, Frank Sinatra and Freud? Even though the movie was not marketed this way it IS really for Allen fans. This is I guess "classic" Allen material. Nothing for the young kids. Is "Anything Else" going to please everyone? Are you kidding me! Of course not. People will always come up with some reason to bash him. If your a longtime fan of Allen's you may enjoy the film more than those who were "tricked" into the marketing ploy used by Dreamworks. I'm giving the movie *** out of **** or 6 out of 10.
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7/10
A Wonderful Movie That Is Not "Gloomy"
24 July 2003
"Gloomy Sunday" was a movie I happen to see by chance. Apparently my city is the only city in North America that is showing this movie. It is playing in one theatre in a small suburb. My father and I went to see this movie he wanted to see it because we are Hungarian and wanted to hear what kind of music would be played. To my surprise I found that I had actually enjoyed the movie. My expectations were low, only because I didn't have a clue as to what to expect but, I'm very happy I saw this film. It's one of the best films I've seen so far this year. The movie is about a few things. One of it's main story-lines concerns a love triangle concerning Laszlo (Joachim Krol), Ilona (Erika Marazan) and Andras (Stefano Dionisi). Laszlo owns a restaurant and Ilona is his girlfriend. Laszlo is hoping to have some music in his restaurant and hires a piano player, Andras. Andras likes Ilona. And Ilona it seems likes Andras. So he movie it seems will be a love story set during the beginning of WW2. But, there's also another story building. Andras has written a song called "Gloomy Sunday". He has written for Ilona. But soon the song becomes a hit. It's a beautiful song that seems to have a very strange effect on whoever listens to it. Soon afterwards people are committing suicide. And here we have a case of fact stranger than fiction. For it is this part of the story that is actually true. "Gloomy Sunday" is based on this story with the love theme used as a backdrop. I don't know if or when this movie will be wider release in North America. But I hope people will go see this movie. In fact though I doubt that people from this country have even heard of this movie. Here is a movie that NEEDS to be better known. It is a small gem. *** out of **** or a 7\10.
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Hulk (2003)
3/10
The Best Comic Book Movie Of Late, But, That's Not Saying Much
30 June 2003
One of the problems I have with Hollywood making comic book movies every month is that none of them are good. I've noticed that all of these comic book movies being made are just for the fans. None of these movies have strong enough character development. They are all campy. A movie like "Spider-Man" did try to make us believe what we saw, but I felt that the casting was wrong. "X-Men" movies are strickly for the fans. So if you know little to nothing about it don't even bother. It's a mess of a film. And then "Hulk" came out. I admit I thought it was going to be junk. And I couldn't for the life of me believe that Ang Lee was going to direct it. He has such talent. Movies like "The Ice Storm" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" are masterpieces of modern day cinema so why would he waste of talents here? I read good reviews for this film. The critics stated that the movie was unlike previous lame brain comic book movies and this one had depth to it. That Ang Lee was interested in telling a story and not so concerned with action scenes. This all sounded like a good idea to me. I thought just maybe I might enjoy this movie. But, alas it's not a very good movie. One of the first problems with the movie is it takes too long with it's set-up. Most people, even those unfamiliar with "The Hulk" comic books I think understand the character. You don't have to read a "Superman" comic to know who he is, do you? So there is fault one. We all pretty much know the basic premise of this movie already and the movie drags before it starts to make it's point. Flaw number two, "Hulk" wants us to take it serious and yet at the same time it's campy. The line "Your making me angry. You won't like me when I'm angry." sounds like something out of a second rate "b" movie. The final scenes involving the big fight is just well...lame. I mean think about it for a second. Just think about what Nolte is doing. The man turns into water!!!!!!! Another problem I had was that somewhere along the way Ang Lee got confused and though that the "Hulk" was "Superman" or "Spider-Man" because all of a sudden it seems like "Hulk" can fly. When he jumps he's flying almost. Lets be logical for a second. If a 15 ft 1,000 pound "thing" was to jump, would he A) fly away or B) Create a hole in the ground and maybe even get stuck? You chose. If I were to grade you, I would hope you all said B. Also a conversation between Connelly and Elliot it states takes place one year after the events when infact the way they are talking you would believe only a day, week, or a month has passed. There are some good things to say about this movie. It is the best comic book movie to come out. It's better than "Spider-Man", "Daredevil", "X-Men" and it's sequel. Ang Lee does TRY to create something more but, I just feel he was the wrong choice to direct this piece. Maybe somebody like John Woo. There's an idea huh? "Hulk" could of been a good movie. All comic book movies haven't attempted to create the atmosphere this movie does. All they allowed on was the audience already being familiar with the characters and just having lots and lots of fight scenes but never given the movie any depth. Here with the "Hulk" they tried to give the movie depth but forgot to make it exciting. The movie does offer hope. I honestly thought you couldn't make a good movie out of a comic book. But here with this movie maybe one day it could be done. Someone just has to find out how to blend the depth and the action together in a way that won't single the other out but yet balance the two out evenly so we are getting the best of both worlds. I feel it can be done now. We will just have to wait and see. "Hulk" gets ** out of **** or on a scale of 1 - 10 I give it a 3. p.s. Look out for a cameo from Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno (the original "Hulk" from the old tv show)
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6/10
Not Quite "Double" The Fun, But Close
24 June 2003
When I first saw this short to be truthful I didn't like. It's not that I don't like Laurel & Hardy's comedy style, I think they are the greatest comedy team in history, but, something about the material didn't seem correct to me. It didn't play off as well as other Laurel & Hardy shorts. Right now I'm thinking of "The Music Box", "Brats", "Going Bye-Bye!" & "County Hospital". I also felt that the timing was missing. Well, I watched it one more time. I now feel I made a misjudgment. I can see now that there does seem to be some chemistry. The next short after this one would be "Berth Marks". I felt that "Marks" was sort of the one that "seal the deal". When the team became the two guys we expect them to be. "Double Whoopee" has "the boys" working in a hotel as a doorman and a footman. It just so happens that a prince is coming to the hotel that same day. A lot of mishaps happen. And the piece does have some laughs. I do not feel this is their best effort. But, is nice to add to one's collection of Laurel & Hardy movies. I would mostly recommend this to people who are already fans. "Double Whoopee" is noted for having a young Jean Harlow in it. And even she gets the Laurel & Hardy treatment. I managed to see this on the dvd "The Lost Films Of Laurel & Hardy Vol. 7" the version shown on there is not silent. It has been dubbed. Laurel & Hardy's voices ARE NOT heard on it. Many may find this to be annoying. But, if you can endure it I think you'll be pleased with it. Also of note is the fact that this was the last obscure Laurel & Hardy piece. After this one everything the team made is one all of their fans have seen. *** out of ****
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8/10
Wild About Harry?
29 April 2003
"Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets" I suppose in some ways is better then the first film. It is an endlessly creative and imaginative movie. It has flying cars, trees that fight, a small elf and many other things that set the movie apart from others. But, the real downside to the movie is it's story. It's rather weak. And I even thought this of the first one, but, moreso here, now that I can compare the two.

"Harry Potter 2" (Which is how I will refer to the movie from now on) is enjoyable in it's opening moments. We are revisiting a world we have not seen in a year. We meet the same old characters, some new ones, but, I personally became bored with the movie after a while. I felt that the viewer is just going along with the movie to mainly see the special effect. Well, after the appeal of that rubs off, than what? The story in both films was never strong enough to hold the viewers interest for the entire length of the film. I believe, or at least it felt like this one was longer than the first! At 2 hours and 30 some odd minutes, "Harry Potter 2" should of been cut down by at least 40 mins. Imagine what kind of truly amazing film that would of been. Because than the movie would move faster, we would see this amazing world that has been created and the action and adventure would be coming from all sides. Then you would really have an exciting movie filled with laughs, special effects, and action.

This movie is about Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) being warned not to return to Hogwarts for fear someone will harm him. Of course Harry doesn't listen because he claims Hogwarts is the only place where he feels he belongs and it's the only place where he has any friends. Once he arrives strange things start to happen. And soon we are told about a secrets chamber that was created a long time ago. The chamber has been opened again and is causing harm to the students. Now, Harry and company must find out who opened the chamber of secrets and save Hogwarts. Does this honestly sound like it can hold your attention for over 2 hours?! Don't get me wrong. I did slightly enjoy the movie. I think it does possess more "magic" then the first one. But, the advantage the first one had naturally was it was introducing us to these characters. There was more of a story there then here. The first one had much more to tell since it was opening up a series. This one just seems like it wants to get by on it's creative special effects. I will admit one of the things I liked about this movie is the introducton of Professor Gideroy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh). I found his character to be very amusing. Is this something the kids will like? I suppose so. I do think the ending may scare them though. But, maybe not, kids seem to be a lot more braver than I was when I was a kid lol. I guess this is a movie the whole family may enjoy but I think the adults may become bored with it before the kids do. If you enjoyed the books and the first movie, "The Chamber of Secrets" will entertain you. *** ( out of ****)

ps - I'm not very "schooled" in this whole Harry Potter thing, but, why is he the main character. When at one point in the movie someone actually says what I was thinking. He doesn't seem to have any magical powers. He just seems to be getting himself in trouble and it's up to his friends namely Hermione to get him out. He never does anything remarkable that makes you believe he would have the reputation that he does.
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8/10
Welcome Lloyd
15 April 2003
"Welcome Danger" was Harold Lloyd's first sound film, and I must admit while contrary to public opinion I enjoy Lloyd's sound films. And "Welcome Danger" I think might be his best sound picture ("Movie Crazy" is also another contender), and one of Lloyd's best period. Some people complain that when Lloyd starting making "talkies" he abandoned his usual style of humor, sight gags and such, but for some reason I don't care and I'm not bothered by it. I think what most people are missing out on is the fact that movies were entering a "new" era. We were heading into a "new" way of making films. And they wasn't time for anything "old". So when Harold Lloyd starting making pictures I think he knew that he was going to have to keep up with the times and create something "new". A lot of people don't like the witty one-linners Lloyd gives, they feel the character is out of place doing that. What they're problem is they don't realize, this isn't the old character Lloyd was playing. And "Welcome Danger" starts off fast and funny. One-linners, sights gags, puns, it's flying everywhere.

I guess my opinion of Lloyd differs some everyone else, but, I wouldn't pass up the chance to see this one. It's very funny. *** 1\2 out of ****
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Ying xiong (2002)
10/10
The Emperor & the Assassin
26 March 2003
Zhang Yimou's films are like the "perfect woman". They are beautiful to look at and intelligent. And "Hero", the Academy Award nominated film is no exception.

I have been lucky enough to buy a dvd copy of this film and I think it's the best film of 2003! And I'm almost certain as the year continues I will not see a movie that could beat it.

As I read people's comments on here, it seem many feel "Hero" is similar to Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". But, I feel people who say that, are not familiar with Chen Kaige's "The Emperor & the Assassin". It's these two films that draw a comparison. Both films take place in the same time period. And both films deal with the same subject.

"Hero" is the story of a man named "nameless" (Jet Li). He has assassinated three of the most feared assassins who have made attempts on the King's life. For this impressive feat, he gets to meet the king. And it is there he explains to the king how exactly he was able to do it. But, about halfway through the film, something happens. And it sets the movie in a whole new direction. And this is where I became hooked. And "Hero" turns itself into a compassionate, tender, and absorbing film. There are so many heartfelt moments. So many moment where we glad give our emotions to the characters. We almost feel what they are feeling. This is what makes "Hero" a great film.

As I first watched the movie I started thinking this film doesn't seem to have the grandeur of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "The Emperor & the Assassin". The fight scenes were not as amazing as those in "Crouching Tiger...ect" either. But, I've never known Yimou to make a film like this. Then again, I was surprised by last year's "Happy Times". I never thought I'd see him a make a comedy. But, trust me as "Hero" goes on, you'll find the movie to be just as involving in the end. The movie's ultimate message, without spoiling the film for you, is about peace. I'll leave it up to you to catch the connection in today's modern world.

"Hero" is yet again another masterpiece made by Zhang Yimou. When the movie hits theatres please make an effort to see it. I really do feel this is the best film of the year!
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Barbershop (2002)
5/10
Don't Get A Haircut From This Place
20 September 2002
I'm one of the few people around who still has respect for the "critic". Once in a while I'll go see a movie strickly because a critic I like recommended it. And when I do this, my results are mixed. "Barbershop" was a movie that just didn't appeal to my taste. But, Roger Ebert and Michael Wilmington (He writes for the Chicago Tribune) both recommended this movie. But, I still didn't want to see it, well, I've just came back from seeing it since I was dragged by my friends, who insisted the movie will turn out to be good. We all hated it! "Barbershop"'s problem lies with it's script. It's first of all, boring, secondly it's not well paced, thirdly, it has a few loop holes. The movie is filled with cliches that I'm surprised that the black community has gotten behind this movie. "Barbershop" doesn't do anything that Spike Lee hasn't done, and may I add much better. The movie reminded me at moments of Lee's "Do the Right Thing". Not story wise, but, the "feel" of the movie made me think of it at certain moments. The way the community is shown. The scenes showing everyone at the barbershop itself are kind of boring and to me are only occassionally amusing. The sub-plot of the movie which involves a stolen ATM machine is one of the stupidest things I've ever seen. It doesn't help take this story anywhere. I guess these were suppose to be the moments seen as comic relief, but, they just didn't work. The sub-plot takes the movie off track. It just doesn't belong in this movie. The acting is somewhat enjoyable, but, I never came to like any of the characters really. None of them seemed real enough for me to give them my emotion. Like I said before they all seemed to be cliches. There's the black man who has an education and is seen as a "sell out" there's the white guy who thinks he's "black" and so on. These characters aren't very interesting when put together. The directing by Tim Story is decent. And if given better material may become a good director. He gave the film some flavor but not enough to fully entertain me. The screenplay has it faults and I've went over all of them. "Barbershop" is a movie I guess could of been better. What could of made it better? I don't know. As the movie stands the way it is, it's not a total dud, but, it's not a winner either. ** out of ****
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10/10
The Sounds of Broadway!
23 July 2002
Sadly now considered by critics and modern movie fans as "the worst film to ever win best picture". And I couldn't disagree more with everyone on here! People, this film was made in 1929!!!!!! I agree with those who say modern movie fans shouldn't watch this film, that's true. They have no appreciation for older things. This film, now has been reduced to ONLY be viewed by real film lovers. And, I'm sure it will be hard for some people to try and remember not to judge this film by today's awful, tasteless standards but by the standards of films through-out the 20's. I don't care what anyone says, this film has a charm to it that has been lost in films today. And I enjoyed it for what it is. "The Broadway Melody" is the story of two sisters, the Mahoney sisters; Queenie (Anita Page) and Hank (Bessie Love). Who come to New York so they can make it on Broadway with the help of Hank's boyfriend, Eddie Kearns (Charles King). Soon a love triangle follows. I admit, that the film fails as a musical, but, I think as a drama it works. The film doesn't have the pizazz of other films from the early 30's. The dance numbers seem stale and flat. Just watch "Whoopee" made one year after and see those dance numbers. They seem more "splashy". Though, they did try with the "Wedding of the Painted Doll" number. That one sort of had some "glitz and glamour" to it. But, watch the "Broadway Melody" number, and you'll think it's just plain. There's nothing to it. Some might find it interesting to know that Edmund Goulding came up with the film's story. He I believe directed the 1932 film "Grand Hotel" which happened to win the Oscar that year as well. Bottom-line: Though it is seen as merely an important film due to it being the first all talking all singing film, it does carry more with it than that. It has a lost charm to it and I personally like hearing some of the songs; "The Broadway Melody" and "You Were Meant For Me". An entertaining film, that ONLY serious film fans should see! I voted it 10\10
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The 74th Annual Academy Awards (2002 TV Special)
1/10
The Worst Oscar Show, Ever!
10 May 2002
There are two points I need to make clear right at the beginning. First of all we all know what this year's Oscar's were REALLY all about this year. It was the Academy's way of showing people that they are no racist,and never have been. They wanted to clear all preconceived notions about themselves. Secondly, it's kinda pointless to make remarks about the show, because really, what difference will it make? But, it's fun to write about it. This is the year I became fed-up with the Oscar's! I will never watch the show again. Every year they do something wrong. Before Crowe wins for "Gladaitor" when they real winner should of been Ralph Fiennes for "Sunshine". If you haven't seen this movie yet, watch it and you'll agree. "Eyes Wide Shut" when released receieved no nominations. And as far as this year goes, well, the bad choices were all over the place! Baz Lurhmann gets no "Best Director" nomination! Are you joking!! "A Beautiful Mind" is up for "Best Make-up"???? "Training Day" gets nominated?? The movie was awful, and it seemed like Washington didn't even turn in a performance, all he proved was, he knows how to use four letter words! That's what h won the award for! Take away the language and I bet he was almost playing himself! I liked "Gosford Park", I really did, but why 7 nominations? And how on Earth could they not give it too Altman! I mean, c'mon, if there just giving the award to people to clear up any bad feelings, what about Altman? The man has been in the public's eye for 32 years now and no Oscar! There were many, many things that bothered me about this year's Oscar's, but, I'll live with it, as long as I never have to watch another show again! The highpoint ( and the ONLY one) of the show was when Woody Allen made his first appearance ever to the award show. That will go down as one of the greatest moments in he history of the show.
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Spider-Man (2002)
1/10
Spider-Man: A Web Of Garbage?
7 May 2002
First I feel it's only fair that I start my review off by saying that I usually dislike the American public's taste in movies. I personally feel they are attracted to garbage. 9\10 whenever I know the American public gets beind a movie, I usually expect the worst. "Spider-Man" is a moronic, juvenile, tasteless, poorly acted excuse for a movie. Know, yes, yes I know people are going to say well, it's just a good "popcorn flick". It's a guilty pleasure. Okay, I can understand that way of thinking, but, "Spider-Man" isn't even a good "popcorn flick". I have guilty pleasures too. I like "teen" movies. I like films like "Scream", "Can't Hardly Wait", "I Know What You Did Last Summer"...ect. But, there's a line that has to be drawn to seperate good and bad films. And "Spider-Man" is one of the year's worst films! I don't think I can fully express my sheer hatred for this movie. Is\was this movie actually worth all the attention it's getting? Absolutely not! There have been so many great films made over the years and this is the film that breaks all records! "Spider-Man"! What does that say about us? Nothing good, I'll tell you that right now! I'm not really a fan of Tobey Maguie, though, I do admit he has been in some good films, "The Ice Storm", Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry", & "Wonder Boys". But, in this film, Maguire, is life-less. His performance is awful. He just seems to drone on & on. People who say he gave a good performance have no clue as to what they are talking about. He does a really bad job. Next Kirsten Dunst. Now, I have a lot of admiration of Dunst. I think she is a very good actress. She has a presence to her that reminds me of something that older actresses have had. She seems to make the screen come alive with her "sunny disposition". Here however, is another story. Not even she turns in a good performance. I don't understand how people could say the have chemistry together. THEY DON'T! William Dafoe, another great actor. One of the most under-rated actors of our time I feel, and he's bad in this too! Now, is the problem really the actors or the script. In Maguire's case, he's the problem. He didn't and still doesn't seem to me to be the right choice for the movie. He doesn't seem, "heroic" enough for the part. He doesn't seem like a "leading man" to me. In the case of Dunst and Dafoe, the script ruined them. Dunst doesn't have a good role. She doesn't really have anything to act with. There is nothing special about her part. I can only think that she accepted the role on two things. 1 - the pay was probably great and 2 - everyone involved probably knew this film would have mass appeal to it. The same goes for Dafoe. Another problem I had with the film was, for a movie who's budget was 139 million dollars, where did the money go? Many scenes looked cheap. Especially he scenes where we see Spider-Man fly. It looked much more impressive in "Superman" which was made back in 1978! I was really suprised to see how bad some scenes looked. I have many many more problem with this film, but, I won't get into it. Bottomline: "Spider-Man" is a tasteless, lifeless movies that stinks from beginning to end. One of the year's worst films!
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Crossroads (I) (2002)
5/10
I'm Kinda "Crossed" Between This Film.
28 February 2002
Some people were actually awaiting Britney Spears' acting debut. I personally was mildly interrested. I'm sorta a Britney Spears fan, but, as time goes on, I'm sorta getting a little sick of her whole image thing about how we all must accept the fact that she's not a girl but not yet a woman. It's really growing thin. I think, we all know that she's definitely no young girl! WE CAN ALL SEE THAT. But anyway, I'm going off track here. "Crossroads" is a movie going into I know I wouldn't like. Why do you ask? Because, to be completely honest, exactly how good can a film starring Britney Spears be? And secondly, why would I even want to go see a movie where I know I won't like it? That's because 2002 is shaping into a year of dreck. There's not one good film that has started to come out. "Crossroads" I think will please it's target audiences. I'm guessing young 12 - 16 (?) year old girls. Other people who bash this film had, to be honest, no business going to see this movie. Yeah it's true, I didn't care for the film very much, but, I don't like reading or listening to older people who are already against Britney Spears bash the film. If you dislike the lead star so much, there's very little chance you'll give yourself a chance to enjoy it. As you watch the film the whole time you'll be critical of what your seeing. I on the other hand, wanted to like it. I wanted to be able to fully defend it. I wanted to be able to say Britney Spears deserves more attention than what she's getting, I can only mildly defend her and this movie. And I only defend her because I'm a fan of her music, not so much the film itself. I just like her, for her, nothing more nothing less. "Crossroads" lags. It really is kinda boring. The viewer isn't drawn into these characters enough to honestly care about what happens to them. Sure, we can say this is a sad movie, and when certain tragic events happen we can for that moment say,"Awwwwwww, I don't know what I would do if that was me?", but 99% of the time, we only say these things because we're not heartless. "Crossroads" coulda been a good movie. There were themes of date rape, peer pressure that young girls face in losing their virginity, and self discovering. All elements that some very good films have dealt with. "Crossroads" chickens out. And for this we blame not Spears, but scriptwriter Shonda Rhimes. Because of undevelopped characters and awful pacing I can't say I enjoyed this movie. Do I think everyone will dislike this film? No. I think it's target audience will enjoy. And they should. I'm giving it ** out of **** or a 5 on a scale of 1-10.
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9/10
The Longest Story Ever Told!!
6 January 2002
Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" was eagerly awaited by many. From the very first time I heard of it, I had no interest to EVER see this film. After I came across a very positive review by a critic I enjoy very much, I thought to myself, well, why not. I'll go and see this movie.

Now, to be honest, in the first 20-30 minutes of the film it has a nice fairly-tale quality to it. I liked the production designs and the costumes and the art direction all of that stuff! It was a film where you can tell took a lot of time and craft to finish. And, if you have any appreciation for films, you would have taken noticed to that. But, for me, the charm wears off! When you have a movie that is 47 hours long, no story can sustain that time frame. The story to this film is not "strong" enough to go on so long. As I sat in the theatre I kept asking, 'Why can't the movie end now?'.

Certain books make wonderful films. Alexandre Dumas' "The Three Musketeer's" is one of those kinds of books. James' "The Portrait of a Lady", and Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days" & 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". These books work in a visual medium. But for some reason, I don't think this book works in this medium. I've never read this book before, and I plan on keeping it that way, but, I'm sure if I did read it, it might be an exciting book. Full of suspense of action. And my mind would go to work on how everything must look. And might of taken me to a new world, as the best books do. But, this book, just doesn't work! I know many will disagree, saying it's full of life, and charm. But I sat in that theatre bored half way - no - completely OUT OF MY MIND! I couldn't take it anymore. I honestly don't mind a long movie. I've seen my share. "The Godfather", "Gone With The Wind", Bernardo Bertolucci's "1900" (which is actually longer than this film. That movie is 4 hours long.) and Theo Angelopoulos' "Ulysses' Gaze". And I enjoyed them all. Because they all had a story! A story in which we felt for the characters, we went along with them enjoying the experience. "Lord of the Rings" did not affect me in this way. The acting in the film is good. I liked Ian McKellan as Gandalf, I also liked Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins, and I thought Elijah Wood did a nice job as well. There are some mildly good points to say about this film. But, the story goes on far too long. Many will say, so what! If that's your only complaint about a movie, well, that's not a good one. I got news for you, it's the best one! Cause if your bored watching a movie, clearly what your watching is not holding your attention. Your not interested in the characters, the action, or anything else for that matter. If they would of cut this movie down to at least two hours maybe my reaction would be so strongly against it. I will never understand the hype surrounding this movie, nor will I ever understand why it's the #1 pick on this database. It's actually over such films as "The Godfather", "Wild Strawberries", & "The Bicycle Thief"! Truly a major disappointment of a movie. * 1\2 out of ****
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5/10
Ocean's Eleven Doesn't Score!
9 December 2001
Like me start off by saying I'm a fan of Steven Soderbergh. I think both "Erin Brockovich" & "Traffic" were two of the best films of 2000! But, "Ocean's Eleven", just didn't work for me. I didn't want to go see this film in the first place, but, a friend of mine dragged me to go see it. I admit, I did like it more than I expected, but, it's not something I would recommend that people I know should go see. "Ocean's Eleven" tries to keep the spirit of the original. It tries to stay loose and free-spirited. Witty, and intelligent. But, somewhere along the line, we're just not buying what it's selling. It tries to be serious and aloof whenever it feels like it. That's a mistake. There's an old saying that goes, you can't have your cake and eat it too! Make up your mind! Which way do you want this film to go? I don't mind if they wanted the film to be a fun, silly homage to the original, but don't try to get all serious on me! Like how the ending tries. The screenplay by Ted Griffin at times is sharp and funny. The character are not dumbed down. They know what they are doing, and they do it well. The acting between everyone however seems, sorta stiff. I didn't feel a connection between everyone on screen. I mean, I'm sure they had fun while making the movie, but that doesn't completely show on-screen. I didn't feel a lost romance between Clooney and Roberts at all. And it's like that for all the characters. Another problem I had with the film is, there are too, too many character, so many infact that no one has anything to work with! Clooney, Pitt, Roberts, Garcia, Damon, Cheadle, Gould, Reiner, Affleck, Mac, & Caan are all struggling for screen time. The so called "supporting" cast actually has just as much time as the supposed "stars" of the film. Carl Reiner, who is probably billed as the 20th person, actually has more screen time and a greater importance to the story then Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Scott Caan, Casey Affleck, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia,& Elliot Gould! Infact it's Reiner's, Gould's and Roberts' show all the way! That's right! Forget Clooney and Pitt. I had more fun watching Carl Reiner, then any of them. I would love to see him nominated for a "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar, and believe it or not, but, that buzz is flying around. Elliot Gould is someone I enjoyed watching as well. These guys (Reiner and Gould) are such pros that, they don't need to seem over-pushy to steal scenes. They do it by remaining subtle. They may seem like they are doing very little, but, when the film is over, you'll probably remember them more then the other characters. As for Julia Roberts, well, I like for the obvious reasons. Plus she's the only female in the cast. But other wise, there's nothing here for her. For someone who's just won an Oscar, she's been playing very bland roles lately. This and "America's Sweethearts". The directing by Soderbergh admittedly does have it's moments. But, this film is just a walk in the park for everyone. This seems to be the reason why everyone likes this movie. To me, this is trying to turn a negative into a positive. I've seen much worst films this year, but, for all the hype to one got, I would of thought this would of turned out better. ** 1\2 out of ****
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1/10
The Worst Film Of 2001! And, that's putting it nicely.
26 October 2001
First of all, let me just start off by saying, yes, I HATE Tom Green! To be honest, I really don't understand why the few people who do like him do!? What's the appeal? I'm speaking honestly right now. I'm not trying to seem like a snob, or insult people who like him, but, why? How can you feel what he does is funny? I'm not going to just bash him and his movie, I'm going to try and be fair in my review and actually try to discuss this movie, if such a thing is even possible. I think there is a story somewhere lurking behind all of this, about a grown man, he leads the life of a loser, and while yes he knows he's a loser, and seeks the acceptance of his father. It in a way is a coming to terms with one's self type of movie. But, in order for ANY movie to work, especially these types of movies, the viewer has to connect with the lead character, in this case, that would be Tom Green. How on Earth do I connect with this guy! How can I feel sorry for the way someone treats him? I think they're too easy on him! If I did even half of what this guy does to his family, let me tell you, I wouldn't be here right now typing this! I don't feel sorry for him, but instead I felt more sorry for the father. But, then again, can you really take a movie by Tom Green serious? Probably not. So how do I view this movie? Do I just try to lay back and enjoy it? Just take in whatever the movie offers? OK, if I do that, then I think this is one of the most tasteless, pointless, mindless, moronic, senseless, boring, dull, long, crude, disturbing, offensive, vile movies I've seen. Second worst to "Pink Flamingos", which is the ultimate king of bad movies! I could go on and keep on writing trying to prove my point, but, who cares, bottomline: STAY AWAY FROM THIS FU#$@^& PIECE OF JUNK. Here's a serious question for everyone. Should people like Tom Green be able to walk among the normal? ZERO out of ****
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10/10
My Favorite Keaton Film!
19 October 2001
First of all, I don't quite understand why all these people have been saying this is a "lesser" film by Keaton! I think it's a fast energetic and hilarious film, that shows Keaton to be in fine form! Now, when I called this film my favorite by Keaton some might agrue, that's not the "correct" choice. One MUST say they love "The General" or "Sherlock Jr." While I do think both films are great and funny. But there's something about this one that I enjoy just a bit more. I like the film's spirit. As everyone mentions there are several funny moments in this film. If your a Keaton fan, you should definitely see this one. If you've never seen a Keaton film, I personally think this is a wonderful place to start. **** out of ****
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Celebrity (1998)
6/10
One Of The Best Films Of 1998!
10 July 2001
I guess it would be evitable that most people would draw comparisons with this movie and Fellini's "La Dolce Vita". Woody Allen's "Celebrity" is basically a harsh criticism on modern day society, I say it had it coming! Allen is trying to show us the we (the American public) like to accept odd things, which is perfectly true about us (and to be fair, so people don't think I'm being a snob, I freely throw myself into the ring also). As in the movie, when people do terrible things, they are turned into "celebrities"! Why do we do this? This is what's at the core of Allen's film. Why are we so quick to give a basketball player 20 million dollars, but, shy away from giving that same amount of money to some sort of medical research? Why has politics turned into some sorta daytime soap opera? These are things "Celebrity" trys to answer. The only problem I have with the movie is, it's not "mean" enough. It's not "tough" enough! The movie needed more bite to it. I think perhaps one of the reasons many people hated this movie is because Allen is trying to tell us, we're stupid. I know not one person who likes to hear someone bad mouth them. And the same goes with this movie. If it's telling us we do moronic things, some people could get a bit mad. Now, do start to think that's why I feel everyone hates this movie. The other reason is because Woody Allen wrote and directed it. I often wonder if Allen would keep his name away from his movies if people would go see them. It's as if once people find out Woody Allen made the film people are turned off. Kenneth Branagh and Judy Davis star as a divorced married couple, Lee and Robin Simon. Lee (Branagh) is a second rate journalist who is trying to sell a screenplay. Robin (Davis) is trying to get her life back on track and put Lee behind her. After Lee interviews or has run in's with people like famous actress Nicole Oliver (Melanie Griffith), and a supermodel (Charlize Theron) Lee starts to think his life is meaningless. And who are we to disagree. I don't want to give away all of the plot here, but, Branagh by the end of the movie is where Robin started and Robin is where Lee dreams of being, happy! The acting by Famke Janssen and Winona Ryder is delightful to watch, especially Ryder. I thought Bebe Neuwirth was very funny as a hooker who trys to teach Robin a few "tricks". And Joe Mantegna was pretty good as well, only problem is he wasn't given enough screentime. I absolutelly hated, Leonardo DiCapro! He just cannot act, I'm sorry all you Leo fans. All he does in his scene is scream, while yes, I'll give him credit, he has a very loud voice, that doesn't make up for his zombie look through his part. Wonderful black & white photography by Sven Nykvist, truly one of the highpoints of the film. And Allen has written a very sharp and witty script that is just as great as his directing. This is not Allen's best, but it's not his worst. I see it has one of the best films of 1998. *** out of ****
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Nixon (1995)
5/10
Greatness was within this film's grasp!
23 April 2001
One of the best arguments that can be made to defend this movie is that Oliver Stone and Anthony Hopkins went at this movie with the intention to take on the material with a lot of care. Anthony Hopkins delivers a performance that truly deserved his Oscar nomination. His acting is amazing. There are so many scenes where he is able to connect with the viewer. I only wish I could say the same about the rest of the cast. Here's a movie that has an all star cast; Joan Allen, James Woods, Bob Hoskins, E.G. Marshall, Paul Sorvino, and Ed Harris. And among all of them, not one of them stand out! Was Stone really that unaware of the talent he had in this movie. Lets take Joan Allen for example. Here's a great actress and she was given such an awful, bland role! There were no memorable moments. The same thing is true with James Woods. I would go as far as to say that James Woods is one of the best actor we have alive today. But, what's the good of it?! Everyone in this movie is mildly or barely used. Another bad thing about this movie is it was filmmed so low key. And by that I mean, there are moments were the film carries no energy. It's just so dull! There were many scenes were I sat there bored. The only other good thing I can say about this movie is I like the way the film doesn't take sides. It doesn't try to lean towards the left by saying that Nixon was a bad President. That he didn't end the war soon enough. And, it doesn't try to lean towards the right. By stating that he was a great President who was misunderstood or wasn't giving a chance. Even though the ending does seem a bit sentimental. The movie doesn't try to be preachy. It lets us decide for our own how we want to look at what Nixon did while in office. It merely trys to state the facts. For people who are young and know little about Nixon the movie can be informative. You will learn about the him and what happened durning his Presidency. For those who were around when it actually happened, there's nothing here that's new for you to see. Overall I can't help feel that this movie is way too long. It a little bit over the 3 hour mark. But, it feels so much longer! It's low key, and has no energy. ** out of ****
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Dreams (1990)
6/10
Disjointed "Dream"
15 January 2001
Kurosawa is one of the truly great filmmakers that ever lived! He has made films, that, to me, are among some of the greatest films ever made, such as "Rashomon", "Ran","Yojimbo", and "Seven Samuri". But, my thoughts on this film, are indeed mixed. As the film first began I kept thinking to myself, what exactly is this movie about? For those of you who don't know, this film is a collection of dreams supposedly the director (Kurosawa) actually had, and all of them (there are 8 ) were made into one film. The dreams vary so much that I honestly didn't know what I was watching. The very first dream in this film is about a young boy who happens to watch a foxes wedding ( if this sounds odd to you, don't blame me lol ) and, since the foxes don't like that, the little boy must now kill himself or go and ask for forgiveness. Another story is about a commander who actually runs into a group of soliders who were killed in battle! Now, what exactly do these two dreams have to do with each other? That's a very good question lol. There are two other dreams that come to mind that also confuse me, I won't mention them because I don't want to ruin it for others. But, the movie seems so disjointed. I didn't understand it's being. I couldn't see it's purpose. That is untill the fifth dream. If your willing to sit through the first four dreams, you'll start to notice a pattern take place in the dreams. It's ONLY then that the movie comes together. The movie is about the beauty of nature. How mankind is slowing but surely destroying nature. We see beautiful photography, great acting, and first rate directing. It's for these reasons I suggest that ONLY Kurosawa fans watch this movie. If you've never seen a foreign film, don't start with this one. If you've never seen a Kurosawa film and want to watch one, again, don't start here! Try watching "Rashomon". This film is just for those who have seen a lot of his films already. *** out of ****
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10/10
One Of The Best Films Of 2000!
10 January 2001
A powerful film that deserves much more attenion and credit than what it's getting. It barely played in theathers here, it was only in for about a week! The movie has wonderful acting by the entire cast. The standouts to me are Monica Keena who is the star of the film. I'm not sure on exactly how old she is, but, I honestly feel, that she does have a future in films. I think an Oscar nomination would be in order for her. But the chances of that happening are slim to none. And Ellen Barkin was wonderful in this movie as Monica's mother. It would also be wonderful to see her up for an Oscar also. But, again, the Academy would never nominate this film for anything. It's not mainstream enough. This is suppose to be a mordern retelling of Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment", while I fail to see any real comparisons other than the moral dilemma of murder, the film does a bad job retelling the story. But even so, I don't think the screenplay was bad. I think it was a very well written film, that makes sense, and is enjoyable to watch. I have nothing but great things to say about this films, but, I don't think it's for everyone. I think that has become obvious due to the very unwarm comments made by not only critics but also viewers. This is a movie I really hope people would watch and give it a try.
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8/10
I Can't Understand Why People Didn't like This Film!
15 August 2000
I guess one of the main reasons people disliked this film so much was cause Woody Allen wrote,directed,and starred in the movie. It's apparent that many people just...to put simply...HATE HIM! Whenever they hear Allen has come out with a new film they almost immediately dismiss it as another annoying typical,self indulgent film. As I've been reading what costumers have to say about not only this film but Allen's other recent films (Deconstructing Harry,Celebrity,Sweet and Lowdown) it seems no matter what Allen does there's ALWAYS someone out there who has something bad to say about his films. Either,his films are too depressing,why doesn't he stop complaining! As in the case of "Another Women", "Stardust Memories", "Deconstructing Harry", and "Crimes and Misdemeanors". Or his films aren't depressing enough! Why doesn't he go back to making films like "Another Women", Crimes and Misdemeanors", "Stardust Memories", instead of making "fun" movies like "Everyone Says I Love You", "Sweet and Lowdown", and this movie. When Allen tries to give the public what they want,they change their minds! It's almost funny reading what people have to say about his films. I know I always can't stop laughing at them. One minute it's make more movies like "Take the Money and Run", and the next minute it's make more movies like "Hannah and Her Sisters". Well to anyone who's reading this review: THIS IS A GOOD,FUNNY MOVIE! I don't care what all these other people had to say. The movie is filled with laughs. And it's not only Allen who delivers them. My own personal favorite is Elaine May! I think she's the highpoint of the film. She's the funniest thing in the movie. You should just go see it for her. Then we have Tracy Ullman. She's quite funny as well. She definitely "keeps up" with Allen,as far as one liners are concerned. I wasn't too crazy about Hugh Grant in the movie. But with his own personality he manages to pull it off quite well. A very good movie done by one of the greatest American comedy filmmaker we have. *** out of **** stars.
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5/10
This Movie Needed More Than Ellington To Save It!
12 August 2000
A rather disappointing film by a great filmmaker. What was Coppola thinking when he made this, apparently not very much! Too much attention was paid to the costume and production designs in the film(which by the way are quite good)and not enough attention to the story. The movie doesn't seem to have a strong,solid storyline that's easy for viewers to watch. The movie has lots of ideas,but that's the mistake of the film. Everything seems to be happening so fast,where you can't really follow anything that's going on. My favorite parts of the film were without any doubt the music scenes,with Gere playing his cornet(amazingly,the guy can actually play! I was quite impressed.)I love films about the 20's and 30's. I love the music from the era,I love looking at the cars,and the way people dressed. And this film does offer this to me. But I wouldn't dare watch this movie again. It really needed to be better planned out. Unfortunately Coppola missed big time with this one. Incase your interested in watching a good jazz movie I suggest Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown","Stormy Weather",or "The Jazz Singer".
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