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My Hero (2000)
British comedy at its best
"My Hero" is a concept which enables the script-writers to be as wild and wacky as they like. Its satirical technique relies on the Gullivers Travels' ploy of two cultures, in this case, Terrestrial and Ultronian, whose customs are totally foreign to each other, and need explaining - many of the laughs come from that; as what seems eminently sensible to one, is patently absurd to the other. It is also a spoof on all superheroes, yet Thermoman is believable, in his own way. The cast are all unique characters, with their own appeal to viewers.
No doubt "Doctor Who" was regarded with some diffidence by the BBC when it first appeared, yet went on to bigger and better things. I think this show has the same potential. Like "Doctor Who", it has a basic premise which allows for endless variation. Episodes of "My Hero" can vary from mildly amusing to outright hilarious. One of my all-time favourite TV shows.
A Man's Gotta Do (2004)
"What's to understand?"
Edwin Burke (John Howard) is a burly fisherman who doesn't quite understand his 20-yr-old daughter who is about to marry, and enlists young employee, Dominic (Gyton Grantley), to help him - by reading her diary. Mum, Yvonne (Rebecca Frith) is ignored by all concerned, except Paul the Plumber.
The daughter, Chantelle (Alyssa McClelland) has a friend Dolores (Amie Mckenna), and they discuss father and fiancé. A local fortune-teller uncannily predicts events.
This movie's in the likable Australian laconic, larrikan, tradition, which, while it may be rather stereotyped, is possibly worth retaining; though we may note "chicks and guys" has replaced "sheilas and blokes". The story is mildly amusing, rather than unroariously funny, but is well-acted and has its moments. ==============================================================
How not to be a hit-man
About all this film has going for it, is the cinematography. The story is confusing and open ended; the dialogue mumbled; but who cares anyway. At one early stage, it seemed we were going to have a black comedy about a bumbling serial killer who had problem disposing of his corpses, but that opportunity was lost.
The basic flaw in the whole saga is: no experienced contract killer (six years in the job?) would think of using a taxi to do his work; or, certainly not the same taxi, much less chat to the driver. He wouldn't leave incriminating evidence on the back seat, nor have the vehicle parked directly outside the crime scene.
As to who the killer, Vincent, is killing and why, is not explained. It seems he might be hired by one gang to bump off key figures in another. The cops come into the picture, yet fade out again. They are virtually irrelevant to the supposed "bonding" between killer Vince, and taxi-driver, Max, which seems to be the main theme.
Still, professional critics will rave over this movie, and it will go on to win awards, and make a fortune. Tom Cruise sits stony-faced in the back of the cab most of the time; reminding us of Val Kilmer in Spartan, and Matt Damon in The Bourne Supremacy - the ruthless operative, hired to do a job, who gets on with it.
Yes, this is the way to make a successful movie. Let everyone think it's highly sophisticated; the critics are only too willing to climb on the bandwagon (just as they did in panning Catwoman). All you need is: a couple of good actors, some extras, a few expendable vehicles, and a city. Bang, bang, you're dead, does the rest. 5/10
I enjoyed this movie, and am not ashamed to say so. It is independent of the Batman+Catwoman tradition, so if you expected that type of film you'll be disappointed. It stands alone, and only flaw I could detect was that cat, Midnight, was an obvious computer-animation at one significant juncture - but even this can be forgiven. Hence, for sheer entertainment, I give this movie 9 out of 10. It is a cartoon-creation and not to be taken too seriously, hence cardboard cut-out characters, and corny dialogue; but such is permissible in this kind of film. If this movie happened to flop at the box office, I'd claim it's not the film's fault, but more a stupid and unreasoning bandwagon chorus of condemnation. This is a super heroine movie and not inferior to others of its type - if you judge it purely on its own merits. The story is easy to follow, music and sound effects blend in well, and computer-animation supports the story and doesn't overpower it. All actors do a good job. The whole is a pleasant experience.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)
Daffy - but deft
Being somewhat of a fan of both Brendan Fraser and Bugs Bunny, I went to see "Looney Tunes, Back in Action", and was quite entertained. This is not to say that the movie is all that funny, more silly really, but it's good entertainment even so. Daffy Duck is the one who holds centre-stage, and is both victim and hero. If there was any doubt, consider the names given to the main roles of DJ Drake (Fraser) and his captured super-spy father, Damien Drake (Timothy Dalton). The main fault is the film tries a bit too hard; it goes at a frenetic pace, and involves that constant theme of Hollywood movies nowadays, a plot by an evil megalomaniac to conquer the world. A muscular Brendan Fraser is accompanied by a rather thin Jenna Elfman, to counter the wildly wicked Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) and his gang at ACME corporation. We have appearances by Heather Locklear and Joan Cusack, for good measure. Bugs and Daffy rival each other for top billing. What you expect is what you get, insofar as the seamless computer technology is concerned, and the movie is worth viewing for that alone. There are references to other movies, including, of all things, "Psycho"; plus the presence of Robbie the Robot, some Daleks, and the other characters from WB cartoons. The "Warner Brothers" are there, looking like Tweedledum and Tweedledee, played by identical twins, Don and Dan Stanton. So, if you want light-hearted nonsense, then this movie fits the bill. Looney is the word.
Down with Love (2003)
A really HAPPY movie
It's not often nowadays that you see a film and come away feeling uplifted in spirit, but this movie did this for me. It's almost impossible not to be entertained. The film oozes good-natured charm, and is light-hearted and very musical. It's somewhat satirical, and littered with innuendo. The "soliloquy" makes Hamlet's seem like a Bob Hope one-liner. The four principal actors are excellent, and the whole movie has a positive underlying message about the battle-of-the-sexes and human relationships. It appears superficial, but has a clever plot. It's one of the best romantic comedies ever made, in my opinion, and deserves to become a classic.
Bad Eggs (2003)
This movie describes itself as "a deadly serious comedy", but to me it is more of a "comedic thriller" in that the thriller aspect tends to predominate, with some laughs thrown in. It's well made, the plot being quite convoluted, and suspense maintained. Set in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, it can be compared with the movie "You Can't Stop the Murders" which was set in New South Wales. This latter film had more laughs, and less of the thriller element - but both are good movies and worth viewing. Bad Eggs gets 7 out of 10 from me.
Love Story - with a difference
(Possible spoilers) She was only a timid secretary, Banging on typing keys. Suave boss, he had his eye on her, Soon had her on her knees. He gave her though some kind advice, Stop self-inflicted pain. Yet he had problems of his own, He couldn't quite explain. Their relationship it was quite odd, Not entirely due to work. They soon developed some rapport, Each knew the other's quirk. They found they couldn't live apart, So why should each be lonely? You can indeed have love and bliss, If found your "one and only". Not everyone likes kinky sex, It's called the last taboo; But though you boss your secretary, She may have her eye on you!
You Can't Stop the Murders (2003)
Good for a laugh
This movie is so laid-back it's like a female contortionist. The sort of movie which could only be made in Australia; laconic in the Croc Dundee style, yet not so emphatically dinkum aussie as in "G'day mate" jargon. Professional film critics may give it one-and-a-half stars, but I'd give it a good three. Then maybe I'm easily pleased. I found it entertaining and amusing - if you're not too critical. You get a lot of chuckles and also some real laughs. I can imagine off-duty police seeing this picture, because it centres on the relationship between two local cops in a small town, and how their lives are fairly humdrum - until the murders start. A serial killer is loose, and the clue to his/her identity is in the occupation of the victim, and the symbolism of the corpse. The plot seems mainly a vehicle for sight gags and other humour, in Jacques Tati manner (Mon Oncle; M.Hulot's Holiday; Jour de Fête); yet there is an underlying tension due to apprehension as to who's going to be next victim. It's good to see perky Kirstie Hutton again (remember her from "Bullpitt!" on TV?), and all the lead actors are interesting characters; with an able and varied supporting cast. I think this movie should have popular appeal, at least in Australia, and might prove more successful than some would anticipate. ====================================================
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
Too Much Focus
George Wade's a Man of Action, Who's also worth a packet; (His life is like Monopoly). He can swing a tennis racket./ George can knock down buildings, But his life goes all awry, If, without the steely Lucy, He has to choose a tie./ Lucy Kelson is so earnest, Devoted to her Aim, Preserving Sites Historic, She seems no Heart, just Brain./ Yet the two fall for each other, Although like Cheese and Chalk; George finally melting Lucy, When he proves he's not just talk./ In the Battle of the Sexes, Is there Win, or Loss, or Truce? 'Cos Mr. Wong can testify - That George belongs to Luce./
This is a romantic comedy, and the ending is predictable, but it is how we get there which is the enjoyable part. Superficially, this film seems not so good - but it clicks! With two good performers such as Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, plus script by Marc Lawrence - and good music - this film is a winner. Should become a classic. 10/10
Keeps you wide awake
I've seen "Sleeper"(1973) again recently. It's still my favorite Woody Allen movie - not that I'm a great fan of his. Even mentions cloning way back then. Big Brother is watching you, has current overtones also. I like the jazz music, Diane Keaton, and all the robots. There are a multitude of funny slapstick incidents in this film, and repays successive viewings - you can always get something more out of it.
Shang Hai zhi yen (1984)
Entertaining Musical Comedy
"Shanghai Blues" (English title) is spoken in Cantonese, but has English subtitles - in the version I saw. It's a most entertaining comedy with catchy tunes, and well worth viewing. The slapstick comedy action and farcical scenes, provide the humor; while romance is the general theme. Thoroughly recommended. Should be a classic.
Enjoyable musical comedy
If you like plenty of good songs in a movie, then this is for you. It's a film by John Waters about teenagers: "squares" and "delinquents", though who are really (or always) goodies or baddies is not so obvious. As with a typical John Waters' movie, it has a satirical edge and somewhat exaggerated characters, but is all good fun. The ever-versatile Johnny Depp is Wade 'Cry Baby' Walker, who has the ability to shed a single tear, which sends the girls wild. He is no sook, but is leader of the delinquents, and falls for rich 'square' Allison (Amy Locane), and she for him. This complicates his life somewhat.... People seem to either love or hate this film; but don't get too serious about it; just sit back and watch. If you like the satirical nature of this movie, then try also another John Waters' classic: "Serial Mom".
The Majestic (2001)
This movie delivers!
This film delivers what it sets out to deliver, and although some critics say it's too long (over 2 hrs), I didn't find it so - because I was so absorbed in its content. Those who might be expecting Carrey to be doing his rubber-faced, hyperactive, super-cool, Ace Ventura act, or anything like it will be disappointed, cos it's not that type of film. JC allegedly admires Jimmy Stewart, and wants to emulate him - in this movie he succeeds; and can't be faulted. This film is not Escapist fare, but Realistic, and makes you think. The McCarthy Era in the US was traumatic for many in the movie industry, and this film pulls no punches. Also, what happens when a Regular Guy loses his memory, and how does he regain it? This is a four-star movie (insofar as I'm concerned) and is recommended viewing.
A Perfect Score
I recently purchased this movie on video, sight unseen, and was pleasantly surprised. It's not often I consider a movie worth 10 out of 10, but "Swing" deserves a perfect score - because it has "a perfect score". This musical movie is a gem (in my view), because it's got a good story, fine acting, and all the other aspects which go to make a movie worthy (cinematography, editing, etc.) The only other recent movie which I consider in the "little gem" category, is the rather obscure USA "Mumford"(1999); "Swing" can be considered the British equivalent, in that regard. "Swing" is about a young chap, Martin Luxford (Hugo Speer), just released from prison, who, with saxophone, is determined to form his own 'swing' jazz band. The movie tells how he goes about this, the troubles he encounters, and his relationship with his "one true love", Joan (Lisa Stansfield), who aspires to be a singer. He offers her that opportunity, even though she has married - to a psychotic cop. But he needs other band members, and gradually acquires them: a double-bass player, and a drummer. Throughout the film, he remembers the advice of his mentor, a black musician, Jack (Clarence Clemons), who is still in prison. This movie is basically a comedy, but has dramatic moments. Music is the key factor, and popular tunes occur throughout, as the band grows and practices. Mighty Mac (Alexei Sayle) and his boys form the brass section - seconded from Orangemen marching bands. Indeed, Catholic-Protestant rivalry is a theme, but is trivialised, as all concerned devote themselves to the much higher ideal of - music, and dance. So, for a most enjoyable experience, I recommend watching "Swing". PS. For New Orleans' jazz, try the movie "Undercover Blues"! ========================================================
My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988)
This is a movie which "grows on you". At first viewing you might think it is just a lot of silly nonsense, but then see it again and take a more considered view. Of course it is light entertainment, and not meant to be taken too seriously. But, in my opinion, it has a good story-line, and is well acted - Dan Aykroyd, Kim Basinger, etc - and holds your interest throughout. It is a better movie than many people give it credit for, and should become a classic. It has its poignant moments too. It has become one of my favourite films, and I reckon it's worth 7 out of 10.
Ingenious and Entertaining
This movie has an ingenious plot and sharp repartee between its main protagonists, played by Woody Allen, Helen Hunt, Charlize Theron and Dan Aykroyd. Well worth seeing, as the only criticism is that maybe Woody Allen is getting a bit old to be the romantic lead with young actresses; but this is a minor matter in what is otherwise a good comedy-romance-thriller. They say "there's nothing new under the sun", and it's hard to make a movie which is entirely without recycled ideas, whether these ideas have been spontaneously produced or consciously recast. For example, Woody plays C.W.Briggs, an insurance fraud investigator who solves his cases by putting himself into the mind of the criminal. This attitude was mooted years ago by a character created by that great crime fiction writer, Edgar Wallace, in his book "The Mind of Mr.J.G.Reeder". Reeder worked in the Public Prosecutor's Office, and was a tall, thin, seemingly benign person - but was really as deadly as a mamba. He constantly deplored the fact that "I see wrong in everything. ...I have a criminal mind." Again, the battle-of-the-sexes in this film was anticipated much earlier in a movie of that name (1960), starring Peter Sellers as a mild-mannered and conservative Scottish clerk, whose clothing firm is invaded by a female American efficiency expert, whose efforts Sellers tries to sabotage - but he ends up falling romantically for his enemy. However, none of this detracts from the film, and it is hypnosis which is the core element, producing the main problem for Briggs and Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt). How this is resolved is the source of most of the humour and suspense. Dan Aykroyd is Briggs' boss, Chris Magruder, in the insurance company, with romantic entanglement with Fitzgerald; while the glamorous Charlize Theron is Laura Kensington, a rich good-time girl. All is set in 1940, and the year is recreated quite authentically. For good entertainment, don't miss this movie.
A Great Little Movie
This is a great little movie, with a good ensemble cast who all give value. What is a doctor? Someone who heals people! This film struck just the right spot with me, so I'm giving it 10 out of 10; just my opinion, of course....
Love, Lust - and Loss
A two-hour mystery-drama mainly about four couples (married, de facto, or separated); the first hour is devoted to establishing their character and relationships, both marital and extra-marital. The second hour involves the strange disappearance of one of these persons, what caused this, and the effect it has on those remaining. It is a "Who dunnit?" with some interesting psychological features. Well acted by all in this ensemble, with Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia) as the detective with problems, both personal and investigatory. A movie which holds your interest throughout.
The Man Who Sued God (2001)
Something for everyone
This is one of those "must see" movies which has something for everyone: there is comedy, romance, drama, and adventure (or rather, misadventure). It is an entirely enjoyable experience, and makes you think also. "Act of God"? Is this nowadays entirely confined to the insurance industry? It is certainly a long time since lightning was, indeed, deemed to be the god Thor throwing his hammer in a fit of rage. And what happens if you sue the churches, as God's representatives, when the insurance company refuses to pay? The script has gone into all the ramifications, and the result is a delightful movie which will be appreciated by all who see it. (There's a bit of swearing, but it is in context and not overdone.) 8 out 10 from me.
Mullet, mullet, in the river, Are you a getter or a giver? Will you lose your best mate, Because you don't appreciate; And offend another chum, Simply 'cos you can't stay dumb? When you feel you're out-of-water, Maybe it's 'cos then you oughter - Say or do something caring, Instead of being slow and wearing. But maybe you're not only one Who can't communicate by tongue. It's a fault of everybody, Not just of a fish we see as oddy. Especially so between the sexes, We often do that which vexes. So fishes all, let's swim as a shoal, Let's have a heart, let's have a soul; Then even if we silent be, Love conquers all eventually. * * * * * Mullet is a very ordinary fish, Which some folk think is a tasteless dish; Others may not really mind, But perhaps they're only being kind.
Joe Dirt (2001)
A funny film
I've just seen "Joe Dirt" starring David Spade, and quite enjoyed it. Don't think it will win any Academy Award, but still is a good movie in its own right. Some old friends are evident - Christopher Walken from "Sleepy Hollow", Fred Ward from "Tremors", and Rosanna Arquette from "Desperately Seeking Susan" (see her fingernails/talons in Joe Dirt!). Joe Dirt has a moral to it, which is not too apparent; it is also somewhat of a detective story. Altogether, a funny film.
Miss Congeniality (2000)
Sandra Bullock is great!
Sandra Bullock has comedic talents, and this movie gives full play to them. She can be regarded as the female equivalent of Jim Carrey, in that they both tend to be "physical comedians", ie. relying more on facial expression, actions, and mannerisms, rather than wisecracks or sit-coms. This film is of the "My Fair Lady" variety, with tomboy Sandra as Gracie being transformed into a beauty pageant contestant. While so many women nowadays want to be like men, here's one who ends up going the opposite way - by force of circumstance. She discovers her feminine side. The beauty pageant participants are not ridiculed, but are shown to have brains as well as beauty. Gracie comes to realise that her girlfriends in the pageant aren't bimbos. The whole movie is an FBI thriller, and quite coherent, but comedic also. Sandra Bullock is central to it, of course, and I regard this as one of her best movies. This seems to be reflected at the box office.
AFI awards for cinematography and film editing
I'd forgotten how good this movie is, until I saw it again recently. It justly won two Australian Film Institute Awards - for cinematography and film editing. It's a horror movie, and not for the faint-hearted, as it doesn't let-up throughout. What helps makes it so, is that most of the humans are as rough,wild, and treacherous, as the huge boar named in the title. Directed by Russell Mulcahy, it's worth viewing by anyone who can take it! "Babe" turned feral!
Undercover Blues (1993)
A light-hearted espionage thriller
Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner are Jeff and Jane Blue, undercover agents of the US Federal Govt. They are down in New Orleans, with baby, and are merely trying to have a well-deserved holiday. However, they are interrupted by special work, and by Muerte ("Death") (Stanley Tucci), a knife-wielding low-life who insists on trying to kill them. However, the main villains are more formidable. Keep a look-out for the little tracking device!