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The Good Girl (2002)
14 August 2002
Another in the recent spate of films that are content to display characters in odd settings and walking through plots that have no originality. If it were not for Jennifer Anniston, The Good Girl would pass through the art film circuit nearly unnoticed. The characters are funny, but in a pathetic way that causes embarrassed twitters from the audience. The plot is thin and drags, even in a movie that was only 90 minutes long.

The unoriginal themes are similar to those presented in "Lovely & Amazing" and "The Serpent's Kiss." All three movies attempt to slide by on cinematic style without bothering with niceties such as character development. The characters were not sympathetic and lacked any insight into their actions, and were unable to communicate with each other. Watching The Good Girl was like peeping through the curtains to watch the neighbors in their bedroom - I could see the actions of the people, but had no idea what the activity meant.
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Stanley's Gig (2000)
A sweet surprise
10 July 2001
A slow starter, well worth hanging on to the end, Stanley's Gig is a beautiful, understated story of redemption, full of quiet humor and amusingly real characters. William Sanderson, an actor with a memorable voice and a forgettable face, was perfect as Stanley, a recovering alcoholic who has wasted much of his life, but finds his talent as a ukulele-playing music therapist at a drab Los Angeles nursing home. Marla Gibbs, as Eleanor, was equally effective as an aged jazz singer who reclaims her past. Faye Dunaway, in an uncharacteristically unglamorous role, plays Stanley's friend and another recovering alcoholic. The plot is thin, but it is not the plot that matters. Stanley, in his quirky way, brings pride to Eleanor's memories of her past and at the same time finds his way late in life. The reward is well worth the journey.
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Company Man (2000)
They forgot the plot.
8 March 2001
A waste of time, a waste of an excellent cast, and only because I saw a free preview, was it not a waste of money. Company Man began with a good premise, but nothing ever developed. The movie was a series of mostly unrelated comedy sketches centering around one joke - a "hero" who was so bland and boring that he was the perfect CIA agent. Characters popped in and out with no explanation, and the director appeared to be more interested in costuming than plot. I laughed through the first half hour and then. quite suddenly, the movie ceased to be amusing. Quite a number of the audience walked out midway through the movie, which is not a testament to quality, especially when we were attending a free preview.
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It's amazing what I will watch when I can't fall asleep
1 November 2000
Having been unable to sleep last night, I watched Made in Heaven on cable TV. It's amazing what I will watch when I can't fall asleep! Made in Heaven is is so cute and precious that I'm surprised that I didn't wake up with diabetes.

This film started with the decent premise that a man who died young and heroically should go directly to heaven, where he falls in love with a woman who is a "new soul" and has never lived on earth. Drawing on any religious beliefs that may conveniently move the plot forward, the writers send the woman to earth to be born into an American family in the 1950's. The young man, heartbroken, asks Emmett (Debra Winger in drag and totally bizarre), the guy who runs heaven (but not God) to send the young man back to earth to find his love. Emmett sends the young man to be born as Elmo, and gives him until his 30th birthday to find his true love or forever lose her. From this point forward, the plot degenerates into a loose collection of misadventures for both Elmo and his love, culminating the the typical Hollywood "cute" meeting on Elmo's 30th birthday.

Participating in the misadventures are a string of actors, writers, musicians, cartoonists, and probably the director's dentist, none of whom add anything except a strange voyeuristic quality to the movie. Made in Heaven is yet another example of Hollywood run amok and writers in search of an editor. What could have been a rather charming little fantasy becomes an exercise in guessing who is playing the weird characters parading across the screen, while wondering what they are doing in the movie in the first place.
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Bedazzled (2000)
25 October 2000
This is the remake without a cause. Mildly amusing, it in no way competes with the biting humor of the original. The characters are fuzzy, the acting is mediocre and the plot lacks the complexity of the original. The public would have been better served by a revival of the original Dudley Moore/Peter Cook version.
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Local Hero (1983)
Life as we wish it were
24 October 2000
Local Hero, a sly, subtle comedy, is an American's dream of small town life. Everyone who sees this movie immediately wants to find the town, move there, and become one of the local "characters." Facing the impossibility of this wish, instead I watch the movie repeatedly, especially on cold winter days. The endearing quirks of the characters and the intricacies of the relationships warm any day.

Peter Riegert is perfect as the over-technologized American who desperately wants to become part of life - any life - and will gladly trade job and possessions to become Gordon Urquhart and "putter around" Scotland. Burt Lancaster, as Mr. Happer, the owner of the oil company, has seen it all, done it all, and is not impressed by any of it. He wants to be remembered not for his money and power, but for the discovery of "Comet Happer." However, it is not the Americans who are interesting in this movie. The Scots (and the Russian), every last unexplained one of them, continue their lives during the disruptions caused by the visiting Americans and provide the sheer joy of this movie - people watching at its finest. Bill Forsyth resists Hollywood's need to explain every last detail and the film acquires a mystical, mysterious quality which enhances the comedy.
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