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The Fan (1981)
9/10
Wonderful Thriller
2 February 2006
I'm surprised that so many people think this film is so bad. Everyone in it is first-rate in the acting department, and the overall story is both fun and fascinating. It completely grabs your attention, from the opening credits, while Michael Biehn (who is excellent in his stalker role) is typing a letter to Lauren Bacall, underscored by Pino Donaggio's effective music. Bacall and Stapleton have tremendous chemistry, and their characters are utterly believable. So too, are the musical numbers which Bacall performs, during the film. Singer or not, Bacall was quite successful in musicals on Broadway, and the songs in the film, are the type she would have performed. Dialog appears unscripted and completely natural, particularly between Bacall and Stapleton. James Garner and Hector Elizondo, are solid in their supporting roles. This film is a favorite of mine. Recommended.
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9/10
Enjoyable Musical
19 May 2004
When "Half A Sixpence" moved from London to New York, the producers added a lot of dancing to a show that had almost none. Because of this, a couple of songs were cut (to make-up the time taken by the dancing). The film version restores most of the music (even adds a number) and keeps the dancing. On Broadway, the incredible Onna White was the choreographer. Unfortunately, she was not used for the film (busy doing "Oliver!"), and the job went to Gillian Lynne (Cats), who's less than incredible. The cast gives it all they've got (especially Tommy Steele and Grover Dale), but each number falls short of being great. Regardless, "Half A Sixpence" is lots of fun, and while the plot and characters are a bit thin, it has wonderful musical numbers, a more than competent cast, and it's a joy to see, after all these years, in it's original widescreen splendor. Get the DVD and enjoy!
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Femme Fatale (2002)
10/10
De Palma's Flawed Masterpiece
18 February 2004
This film is so beautifully crafted that I am tempted to ignore its one flaw. But I can't. Brian De Palma weaves a beautiful web with so many classic moments that it is, immediately, apparent that the master has not lost a single bit of his genius. The film is stunning to look at, and engrossing from beginning to end. A much-touted stripping scene, late in the film, is its one BIG flaw. It adds nothing to the narrative and brings the film to such an abrupt halt, it's like hitting a brick wall. Immediately following, the film returns to its engrossing glory. Even with this unfortunate flaw, the film is De Palma's greatest achievement. Highly recommended!
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5/10
Parody? Homage?
17 December 2003
Watching "Down With Love" was a bit of a frustrating experience for me. It falls somewhere between an homage and a parody of 1960's sex comedies that, most successfully, starred Doris Day. From the standpoint of an homage the film, mostly, succeeds. As a parody, it fails. What is impressive about the film is its attention to detail. The clothes, sets, color-scheme, widescreen cinematography (telephone call splits, etc.), and the New York City stock footage were incredibly accurate. Marc Shaiman's score was fairly perfect, as well. While the cast, mostly, impresses, especially David Hyde Pierce playing a role that Tony Randall did in many Doris Day films (and playing it like Randall), it mostly gets ruined by Rene Zellweger's take on the lead role. She never rings true, and she comes off as if she's in a completely different film from the rest of the cast (her performance accounts for most of the parody aspect of the film). The story, itself, is no better or worse (well, maybe slightly worse), that those done in the 60's with Miss Day. The BIG (and it is enormous) difference here is that Zellweger is NO Doris Day. She comes off like a little girl pretending to be a grown-up. She just doesn't have the 'stuff' to deliver the silliness of the film. Now, in all fairness, my problems with Zellweger, may be more by comparison to Doris Day, a comparison I cannot avoid. Others, who never saw one of these Doris Day films, may find her perfectly acceptable. I couldn't get past her inability to pull off the lines without making them sound like she was making fun of those old films (McGregor and the rest of the cast avoid this), and her vamping and exaggerated facial expressions are out of place. My other issue with her is that she is, facially, a bit of a train wreck to me. I find her utterly unattractive and, once again, comparing her in the physical attributes department to Miss Day, she loses. Doris Day had one of, if not THE greatest figure on any woman, ever, in Hollywood. Zellweger's figure is just okay, and facially, she looks like she's been punched a few times and is on high doses of prescription drugs. And, what's up with those pursed lips???? Her physicality has much to do with the film. Every other woman in the film is more attractive than the leading lady. In a Doris Day film, while there were, certainly, other attractive ladies in them, they were never MORE attractive than Day. And, in a sex-comedy, the attractiveness of its stars is key. Ewan McGregor is just fine in his performance, and he, stylishly, looks the part, although I did find him to be a bit on the puny side, and he kept reminding me of Charlie Sheen. He doesn't cut the same figure as some of Day's co-stars, Cary Grant, James Garner, Rock Hudson or Rod Taylor, for example; but he's far more talented than Zellweger in the acting department, and what he lacks in physical presence (his puniness and he has a bit of a blemished face), he makes-up for in his demeanor. Secondary leads David Hyde Pierce and Sarah Paulson actually steal the film from its stars, and aptly support them, as well (the only time the leads are bearable is when they are paired with Pierce or Paulson. Together they are dull). The sex jokes are all of the overt variety. Day and company were always far too clever for that. The problem I have with the film, is that, while I can watch a Doris Day film, at the drop of a hat, and always enjoy them (no matter how many times I've seen them), I cannot imagine ever watching this film again. With a different leading lady and a straight-on approach to the material I would have liked this movie. As it is, it's a curiosity piece on how well they handled material that was a big part of my early movie-going experience. Overall, they succeeded.
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Phone Booth (2002)
1/10
Call Somebody Who Cares!
14 July 2003
Wretched little film about a man, stuck in a phone booth, completely at the mercy of a mad-sniper. What could have been an engrossing movie, suffers from an unsympathetic hero and an insufferably dull and verbose villain. Enormous plot holes, profanity-laden script and a pointless, seemingly endless, run-in with hookers and an even more pointless, unexplained, conflict between two police officers, undermine any attempt at infusing the film with tension. NOT recommended!
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The Music Man (2003 TV Movie)
1/10
TROUBLE, TROUBLE, TROUBLE!
17 February 2003
Utterly pointless remake of the 1962 masterpiece. Worse than pointless, it is completely off the mark with character interpretations and actual line delivery. The director doesn't appear to know the work or how it is supposed to be portrayed, since every single character is depicted incorrectly. Worse yet, is the dull, humorless pacing and lackluster production design. The whole thing is a pale, faded (literally as well as figuratively) retelling of a FAR superior film. By comparison with the original, the entire cast and production team come off like a bunch of rank amateurs, void of talent. While many in this production DO have talent, the bad direction prevent them from shining, here. The best thing that can be said of this film, is that it is superior to the television remake of "South Pacific". However, that has more to do with the source material ("The Music Man is a better show than "South Pacific"), than the execution of this production. There is absolutely no reason to see this version, when the perfectly crafted original is readily available. Not recommended!
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10/10
Engrossing
3 December 2002
This television film, which focuses on the police pursuit of John Wayne Gacy, is utterly engrossing. Sparing us the more grotesque details of Gacy's crimes, we are treated to the investigation and the frustrations of the police, who are trying to "catch" him. Brian Dennehey is always good, and, his performance in this film, is no exception. The cast is fine, throughout, and the direction is solid; but, it is Michael Riley, as Detective Joe Kozenczak, who owns the film. His role gives him most of the screen time, and his performance is completely compelling. A wonderful performance! Highly recommended.
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24 (2001–2010)
Superb Television
12 November 2002
I didn't watch "24" during its original, first-season run, so I can't comment on how it played, week after week; but, I did watch all 24 episodes on DVD, over a four day period. WOW! From beginning to end, this show is the most riveting and suspenseful thing ever captured on film. It is a masterwork of deceit, and its success is in the fact that it never allows the viewer to relax for a second. You are never sure who you can trust. Certainly one of, if not the best 24 hours of television, ever! Highly recommended!
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The Ring (2002)
Silly
4 November 2002
Not silly in a real laughable, unintentionally funny way (except maybe once or twice); but, what could have been original (and, at times, is), ultimately comes off as a rip-off of every other horror film that came before it. It's never really scary (long sequences where you are fooled into thinking something scary is about to occur; but it doesn't), and, it suffers from characters that aren't particularly likeable. You never find yourself caring about what happens to them, mainly because the plot is so murky and the characters under-developed. There is a kid whose characterization is blatantly stolen from "The Sixth Sense", and, his presence adds nothing to the proceedings. Goofy in plot, and in desperate need of better editing, this movie is just plain silly. Not recommended
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Spider-Man (2002)
Excellent Comic Book To Film Adaptation
4 November 2002
This is the film that proves it CAN be done! "Spider-Man" gets it right, on all counts. Where "Superman" was too camp, and "Batman" was too dark, "Spider-Man" plays it right down the middle, and is a delight to behold. It's success is due, in no small part, to the wonderful performances from its cast. Most notably, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, who really know how to act; and, more importantly, react. Their performances are perfection. Wonderful direction, cast, screenplay and score make this a must see. Highly recommended!
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Please Stop!
1 May 2002
Jaw-dropingly bad, on every conceivable level. Perhaps as a party film, where you can feed off the comments of others watching - this film has some potential; but, on its own, it is simply dire. Energy abounds (Steve Guttenberg appears to be ready to self-combust at any moment), but it is completely wasted on third rate schtick and incredibly awful dialog. The musical numbers have no sense of structure or style; and they all stink. If disco wasn't already pretty much dead, by the time of this film's release, this surely would have killed it. On DVD, Anchor Bay has given it a first-rate treatment (2.35:1 widescreen and 6.1 DTS ES Surround Sound!!) Not that it helps at all, the film is so poorly made. Although the film is loaded with homoerotic overtones, it couldn't possibly appeal to anyone, regardless of their sexual preference. NOT recommended!
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The Rookie (2002)
10/10
Wonderful Film
22 April 2002
Wonder of wonders, a G Rated adult entertainment. "The Rookie", is a real baseball film, besting most others, in the genre, while presenting real characters, without resorting to foul language and crude gestures, that plague almost every motion picture, today. What we get with "The Rookie", is adult entertainment, in the truest sense. An intelligent screenplay, with quiet, careful direction, and a thoughtful, almost mesmerizing performance, by Dennis Quaid. This movie is like a wonderful gift, that is slowly unwrapped before our eyes. While it is rated G, the film's real, quiet tone, would probably not appeal to today's kids audience. Sad, really, since this is the type of film, that I saw often, as a kid. Highly recommended!
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8/10
Good Solid Entertainment
22 April 2002
Even though the potty-mouthed aspects of the script often work against them, Gina Philips and Justin Long, rise above it all, to turn in likeable and entertaining performances. The first half hour or so, is more satisfying than what follows; but the entire film is engrossing, with more than a few scares, to jolt even the most hardened horror film fan. The supporting cast is first-rate, and the direction is mostly competent. Excellent cinematography, effects and editing. Destined to take its place among the horror classics! Highly recommended.
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5/10
Stupid But Fun!
22 April 2002
One of the dumbest screenplays, ever written, with almost nothing happening, that could remotely pass for plausible. However, the film is a lot of fun, and a good updating of the equally silly William Castle original, and infinitely better than their remake of "House On Haunted Hill, which was an utter bore. First-rate special effects, scenic design, make-up, and good enveloping surround sound, make this film a must for horror-film fans. Tony Shalhoub and Matthew Lillard are fine, and Rah Digga, utters one of the funniest (and dumbest) lines, I've ever heard in a film (while looking at the lawyer). Recommended for modern horror film fans, only!
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Lost Horizon (1973)
4/10
Lost Possibilities
26 March 2002
To remake "Lost Horizon", as a musical, the need for a Rodgers & Hammerstein or Lerner & Lowe type musical composition was needed. Burt Bacharach and Hal David were the wrong choice. Having said that, my favorite thing about "Lost Horizon", is its score. It's just that the score doesn't fit the piece. The cast, is made-up of mostly non-musical talents (Ullman, Finch and Hussey, were all dubbed, and still don't sound all that great).

Frankly, the novella, on which this, and the earlier non-musical film versions were based, is mediocre, at best. While the possibilities for a truly good, cinematic musical version exist, they are not realized here. The film succeeds at being a good, rainy-day vehicle, to pass the time. Otherwise, you are better off, buying the CD of its soundtrack. Only recommended as a curiosity piece, due to the film's awful reputation. I've seen much better; but I've seen MUCH worse.
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6/10
Should Have Been Better
6 January 2002
This sometime compelling film, suffers from easily solved mystery (you'll have it by about the 1 hour mark), uneven plotlines, and unlikeable, uninteresting, potty-mouthed characters. Kevin Bacon's fine performance and some truly creepy and suspenseful moments help save it from being a complete washout. I still recommend it; but it could and should have been a better film.
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1/10
Grotesque
3 January 2002
In the hands of director Ron Howard and star Jim Carrey, "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas", is a loud, obnoxious, excessive, CHARMLESS bore. This very short story is expanded to 1 hour and 45 minutes of grotesque imagery that focuses on repugnant characters, who wear out their welcome within 30 seconds. Carrey's schtick is beyond unbearable. Easily one of the worst films I have ever seen. NOT recommended!
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U-571 (2000)
10/10
Hollywood Action/Suspense At Its Best!
3 January 2002
U-571 takes many events involving the capture of German U-Boats, during World War II, and spins an engrossing, suspenseful tale, that will have you on the edge of your seat. Those looking for historical accuracy, should look elsewhere. Those wanting an involving, gripping, thrill-ride of a film, need look no further. Highly recommended!
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10/10
Spine Tingling
3 January 2002
I have been aware of this film for years, but for some reason, have never seen it. Until now. Wow! What a perfect example of what a scary movie should be. Understated, without excessive gore, profanity or violence. Plenty of atmosphere and real chill-inducing moments; AND a mystery, too! So, George C. Scott stars in TWO of the creepiest, underrated films ever made (this and Exorcist 3). Highly recommended.
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Too Much Of A Good Thing?
28 September 2001
Unlike its predecessor, this hugely successful sequel to 1999's superior "The Mummy", is light on character and heavy on spectacle. Too much spectacle perhaps. The charm of the original, which came from the relationship of its characters, and was its strongpoint, is gone, in favor of overwrought computer generated special effects. The film is almost exclusively action sequences; one after the other. The original's cast is back, and that helps defray the onslaught of action; but this sequel is about half as good as the original. "The Mummy" is the greatest adventure film ever made, so half as good is still entertaining. If you're a sucker for heavy-handed CGI-created action scenes, then you simply cannot go wrong with "The Mummy Returns"; and while I would have preferred the character interplay of the original, as a fun piece of fluff, it is recommended.
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10/10
Hilarious!
28 September 2001
A true comedy masterpiece, from director/writer John Waters (Hairspray, Pink Flamingos), starring the very large Divine, in a tour de force performance. While it has some rather crude, shocking moments, much like "Pink Flamingos" (along with much of that film's cast), it has 10 times the wit of that film. High levels of camp and gross imagery, combined with a laugh-a-minute script, make this low-budget (shot on 16mm film), underground movie (even today it would repulse most mainstream audiences), one of the funniest films ever made. Any film that contains lines such as - "If you ever get tired of being a Hare Krishna person, you can come live with me and be a lesbian", is okay by me. Highly Recommended!
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7/10
Charming and Fun
29 August 2001
The fact that the action is completely predictable from beginning to end does not detract from what is a wholly enjoyable movie experience. Anne Hathaway is beautiful, fun and charming as the heroine, and Julie Andrews IS screen royalty, which makes her perfection, as the queen. Obviously geared to young ladies, everyone will find something to enjoy in this rarity; a family film. Recommended.
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Unbreakable (2000)
10/10
An Engrossing Film
12 July 2001
M. Night Shyamalan's follow-up film to "The Sixth Sense", is a real winner. Like "The Sixth Sense", "Unbreakable" is a relatively quiet picture, which moves slowly and deliberately, to its climax. The film is about people and the words they speak, not special effects (thank God!)

I found some of the panning and scanning and tilting and circling of the camera to be somewhat distracting; but overall, "Unbreakable" is a mesmerizing tale of an everyman, who comes to grips with his place in the world. It has solid performances from its cast, a wonderfully appropriate score by James Newton Howard, and first rate direction from Shyamalan. See only the widescreen version. Recommended.
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Airport (1970)
10/10
Highly Entertaining
3 July 2001
An old-fashioned "Hollywood Picture", with a bevy of stars. "Airport" was the number one money-making film of 1970, and created a cottage industry of disaster films. It is low on disaster, and high on character development. Today's audiences may find it dull, with its generous amount of dialog; but I relish in the interplay of characters and story lines. Great cast, first-rate score and good widescreen photography. See the widescreen version on DVD. Recommended!
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4/10
Beautiful, but...
19 June 2001
This film is stunning to look at, and the star quality screen presence of Michelle Yeoh, set this film apart from others in its category. However, ultimately it is yet another in an endless line of Kung-fu films. It is all a matter of how into these fight sequences you are. After the second one, I had my fill. Certainly a mountain above the others, but basically the same old thing. Recommended for the Kung-fu crowd, only.
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