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Night Shift (1982)
7/10
Underrated comedy
2 September 2002
I saw this film a long time ago, just when it was new (1982) and was blown away by the very talented Mr. Keaton.

Also notable are Henry Winkler in a most restrained and touching way.

A welcome surprise is Shelley Long (For the record: I am NOT her fan) as a prostitute "with a heart of gold".

A small, early gem from the Ron Howard-Ganz-Mandel team, with some personal touches, to wit: The line when `Belinda' (Shelley Long) tells `Chuck' (Henry Winkler) just after they made love that `she is not wearing her watch' to let him know that she loves him is just beautiful, a nice, semi-polished little gem that I think most people can appreciate and enjoy.

Trivia: Clint Howard in a small role (His brother, Ron almost always gives him work.)

Trivia: In the closing credits Rod Stewart sings a beautiful version of `That's what friends are for' that would later be made really popular by "Dionne Warwick and friends".
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Stick (1985)
5/10
80's flick, that entertains.
24 June 2001
The Good Stuff:

Candice Bergen looks gorgeous. Small role by David Reynoso. The late Dar Robinson as the "Albino Hitman". The Albino Hitman falling to his death while emptying his six shooter looks real cool.

The Bad Stuff:

Charles Durning in a blond wig is really hard to take (those crazy looking eyebrows!).

The Verdict:

Typical 80's flick with lots of flashy cars, drug dealers, one colorful hitman, directed by Mr. Reynolds, that even if looking dated manages to entertain.
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7/10
Great animation, never mind the reviews, see this one.
20 June 2001
The Good Stuff: Great blend of traditional and computer animation; great voices (all of them full of personality); great character design (loved the blond femme-fatale).

The Bad Stuff: Milo looking too much like Harry Potter; the unpleasant "Mole" character

The Verdict: Never mind the reviews or the comparisons with Shreck, see this one, it has the right balance of adventure and excitement, it was written for kids, but the adults can enjoy it too, (I sure did), and it's always a blast when I see my nephews so immersed in the film that they "dodge" the rocks or bullets "coming" from the screen, I'm pretty sure you'll like it!
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Loved it as a kid.
8 June 2001
It really comes as a surprise the limited number of episodes for this series (just 18 episodes).

I didn't care much for Frankenstein Jr., but boy!, "The Impossibles", they were something else!

A Quartet of musicians (like the Fab Four) that were also superheroes, real fun concept, silly superpowers and the drawings were slightly stylized, great, healthy, harmless fun.

If you can see these, I highly recommend it!
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Entertaining, but not a perennial work of art.
31 May 2001
The Good Stuff:

Jesus Ochoa, with great balance being serious as well as comedic, but not cartoonish. Lisa Owen and her quite evident breasts. Ximena Sariñana looks well as the "precocious" daughter.

The Bad Stuff:

Lisa Owen acting like a silly cartoon, not like a college professor. Lorge Alberto Poza (Ricardo), trying hard to be "beefcake", while just being boring, bland and dull. The too-sudden conversion of Ochoa's character.

The Verdict:

Entertaining time filler, that tries (hard) to be like a cross between a mexican and a foreign comedy.
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Jake and the Fatman: Fatal Attraction (1987)
Season 1, Episode 2
7/10
Fun, 80's style, let's cancel it.
25 May 2001
It started with some right elements:

Penny as Jake, a suave police detective, presumably a gigolo, that drove around in a silver porsche speedster wore fancy suits and basically, got things done.

William Conrad as a fat, gruff, unkempt district attorney with a dog called max.

It had a urban background and it worked.

Then they transferred the locale to Hawaii (presumably to reduce costs) and Jake was driving a cheaper car while at the same time, somehow he became some sort of milk-drinking/boy scout/social worker, but it still worked (kinda).

Then they really scrimped on the production values, the series stunk and , surprise! it had to be cancelled.
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6/10
A consistent Robert Redford film.
24 May 2001
The Good Stuff:

The beautiful imagery. Will Smith's sometimes very subdued acting. The always Gorgeous Miss Theron.

The Bad Stuff:

Bagger Vance portrayed as some sort of ancient stereotype. The melodrama. (Did Charlize Theron HAVE to faint while scattering the ashes?)

The Verdict:

Manipulative, nice-to-look at, slightly patronizing "golf-is-like-life", fable/parable.

Note that "Bagger Vance" sounds like Bhagavad (Gita), a part of the epic indian novel Mhabarata in which a god in disguise guides a prince, or something like that.
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Pitch Black (2000)
6/10
Very competent Sci-Fi film
24 May 2001
The Good Stuff:

The editor not showing too much stuff to build up the suspense. Complex, 3-dimensional characters. The way we learn that not all the characters are what, at first glance they might seem. The quite realistic crashlanding. Excellent effects! (Richard Riddick's first escape has to be seen, yet it is subtle).

The Bad Stuff:

The editor not showing too much stuff to build up the suspense. The design of the aliens. The cheesy catchphrase at takeoff. ("We have to say goodbye".)

The Verdict:

A most competent film that entertains and keeps you on the edge of the seat and guessing more than once.
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Knock Off (1998)
3/10
Good actors, good director, exotic locations, why is it so bad?
19 May 2001
The Good Stuff.

Great cast. Some good special effects. Dynamic fight choreography. Lela Rochon.

The Bad Stuff.

Ridiculous plot about micro-bombs. Sometimes-too-Dynamic fight choreography.

The Verdict.

I was invited for free at the premiere, thought it was bad manners to leave before movie finished. Watch it (for free!) on cable, DO NOT spend your money on it, not even on video.
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7/10
Mexican film with an "European flavor"
19 May 2001
The story of an older man living in the floor below a young woman's flat, where he must endure all sorts of noises and loud music from said woman and her friends. We get to see her romantic choices in men and the old man's crusade to make her stop partying in such a noisy manner. As a result the young woman starts a prank that causes the older man that hated her in the beginning to care for her, leading to an unexpected outcome.

I found it slightly reminiscent of Patrice Leconte's Monsieur Hire (1989).

Not the best sample of new Mexican cinema, but not too bad either.
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Goofs.
10 May 2001
Factual errors: Rick, carrying Alex in his arms, is able to outrace the sunrise; we see the line of sunlight moving on the ground right behind them. If the Earth is about 25,000 miles around, and since there are 24 hours in a day, Rick was running approximately 1,041 miles an hour.

Factual errors: In London we see Tower Bridge, the dome of St. Paul's and Big Ben clustered closely together in one shot. This is no doubt to make it easy for the geographically challenged.

Plot holes: Much of the story involves a magical pyramid of which it is written, "No one who has seen it has ever returned alive." That logically leads us to wonder how they ever found out about it.

All from Roger Ebert's May 4 review.
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4/10
Avoid it, despite the leading stars.
10 May 2001
The Good stuff.

k.d. Lang, just perfect, just perfect! Creative use of SFX for the changes in scenery. Attractive leads.

The Bad stuff.

Too many gratuitous SFX for the changes in scenery. The completely gratuitous snow-globes that tell us where we *WILL be* instead of where we have been. The cheesy dialogue "The Fox in the Mink is cool as a cucumber", ¡Man, it bad! The annoying little girl.

The implausible stuff.

Ewan Mc Gregor picking *everything up* (spy equipment) all the time. Ewan Mc Gregor carrying all the spy equipment without making noises. Ashley Judd not noticing video cameras right outside her window. Living inside a bell tower in a church. Nobody is that motivated. How did McGregor pay his bills for more than a year? And it goes on......

The Verdict.

Catch it on cable, but do not rent it.
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NO review, this goes to the "Goofs" section.
7 May 2001
Much of the story involves a magical pyramid of which it is written, "No one who has seen it has ever returned alive." That logically leads us to wonder how they ever found out about it.

"Factual error" or "Error in Geography"

When the action returns to London, and we see Tower Bridge, the dome of St. Paul's and Big Ben clustered closely together in one shot. This is no doubt to make it easy for the geographically challenged.

Copyright © Chicago Sun-Times Inc.

(By ROGER EBERT)
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6/10
Interesting, but fails in "reeling you in"
21 April 2001
The Bad stuff: Some shots of male genitalia and some scenes of males kissing and fondling, but it all seems done for shock value. John Depp as Lieutenant Víctor (the guy with the big penis).

The Good Stuff: Bardem's movements as a gay man, subtle, tastefully done, quite a challenge for someone who has made a living as a leading, macho, tough guy. Bardem's cuban accent and rhythm, incredible, without a trace of a spaniard's accent, ¡Bravo! The very proper and undistracting use of grainy fotography. The short snippets of poetry, ¡Beautiful! Some scenes of everyday life in the island. Pedro Armendariz as the grandfather, brief and powerful. John Depp and bon-bon; ¡Incredible!

The Verdict:

A very good movie, that shows us two things; Bardem's "best actor" oscar win got stolen and It shows that a good film can still fail become "an event" and to hook you in.
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Alive (1993)
6/10
Honest, unsensationalized treatment of a true story.
18 April 2001
Based on the true story of a rugby team that crashed in the Andes and had to resort to cannibalism in order to survive, having gotten that subject out of the way they chose to show the "cutting up" of the corpses in a most tasteful and respectful manner as to not sensationalize the potential "gore" factor, just as was done in Survive!.

Well done, even if sometimes the acting is a little wooden, of interest to see a young, Danny Nucci, Illeana Douglas, Ethan Hawke and others.

A little slow paced at times, but they were stranded for over a month, and the director has to convey that, not a flawless masterpiece, but a good film nonetheless.

Previously made in México as Survive! (1976), but on a shoestring budget and it showed, needless to say it hasn't aged well.
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8/10
Confusing History, unforgetable Story...
14 April 2001
The Good stuff:

The "Black & White" images with color at the begining, specially the red star when the workers "punch out" brilliant! All the big name actors (just one american!). The story's span of about 50 years. The set design, in those days before CGI, they had to drape the far countryside in white plastic to simulate snow!

The Bad stuff:

The unclear "disease" of Lara's mother (couldn't elaborate for censorship reasons). The slightly repetitive Jarre music. The too obvious "plastic" (fake) touches; the falling sunflower petals when Lara leaves, the "ice castle" (abandoned house sequences), though in those times such resources were quite original and unused. Zhivago's spectator/narrator role, makes him seem too pasive.

The Verdict:

An ambitious, slightly political, personal, romantic and great film that has aged well.
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Unclear ending for an otherwise enjoyable little film.
13 April 2001
The plot:

The movie revolves about a theology professor that discovers the date for the coming of the Anti-Christ (December 25, 1995), and tries to kill him in order to save the world, he is aided by two unlikely allies a brain-dead metal-head and a bogus TV psychic.

The Good Stuff:

1.- The opening title, those first 3 minutes and the comment by the other priest are worth the price of admission alone. 2.- The Darkly lit imagery. 3.- The hiding of the devil "in plain sight". 4.- The revelation of who REALLY kills the devil (Ooops, gave it away). 5.- Proves that a short, balding little priest looks more believable as a Satan-killer, with apologies to Mr. Schwarzenegger. 6.- María Grazia Cuccinotta in a skimpy red dress, need I say more?.

The Bad stuff:

1.- The movie rambles a little in the middle. 2.- The escape by the building façade is unpolished. 3.- The Satan killers look all over for him, yet when he appears they hide away, quite realistic, but anti-climactic. 4.- Satan's first appearance as a goat, when being "summoned".

The Verdict:

Shows Hollywood that you do not need a trillion dollars to make a decently entertaining movie with good imagery, if you watch it with an open attitude you'll find lots to like.
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Proof of Life (2000)
7/10
Deliberately paced, but not slow.
6 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Much better than what I expected, after all this is the same man that directed the terrible "Devil's Advocate".

The Actors.

Russel Crowe, again plays "himself", quiet, strong, silent, sure of himself, and appears quite believable. Meg Ryan, is still beautiful, but deglamourizes herself a little, and it works. David Caruso, always a treat to see him, plays a very cool security specialist, that just becomes euphoric at the end and kind of spoils it, but, it had to be like that, otherwise the movie would be too much of "a downer". David Morse, very nicely playing an engineer with a social conscience.

The plot, is quite realistic, showing that the hostage negotiations take a long time (over 4 months), not like in the movies where commandos save the day in under 24 hours.

Very realistic portrayal of the national negotiators that just want to take advantage of the stressed relatives of the hostage, those of us in the third world know that to be a familiar story.

The romantic relationship between the leads (the worried wife and the cool negotiator), nicely underplayed (I loved it when she absently-minded drinks from his beer glass while David Caruso silently just watches it all, or when she rubs his shoulders after a hard day's work), and still, they did NOT have sex, because, quite logically, she was waiting for her husband (shocking for a Hollywood film, isn't it).

In the end the husband and wife realize that they were losing their marriage over stupid things and accept that being married requires an effort.

Bottom line:

If you like your entertainment real: Go see this one! If you want a "Rambo" flick: Avoid at all costs.

*****SPOILER ALERT********

No, in the end she doesn't leave her husband for the negotiator, Crowe goes home alone, sorry if it isn't Hollywood enough for some, great REALISTIC ending for me.
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Amores Perros (2000)
Deserving Oscar contender (Film in Foreign Language)
17 March 2001
Although this is not "groundbreaking" in any technical aspect, it is a extremely professional film, this shouldn't be a surprise, since the guy has been a professional commercial director for some years. And manages to shoot the urban grime and decay without sensationalizing it or glamorizing it either.

Some "allegories" a a little heavy handed, as a balloon symbolizing loves deflates in the model's appartment as her relationship with his lover goes sour, up to here it's fine, but did the balloon have have to have the word "Love" printed on it?

It truly is a "work of love", that was shot over different periods of time, but doesn't show it.

If you enjoy non-linear storytelling, watch it, you'll like it.



One for the "Goofs" section. In "the morning after" scenes the Gag in Jorge Salinas' ("Luis Miranda") mouth is considerably smaller .

"Memorable quotes". Marco Pérez ("Ramiro", a Thief, preparing to rob a drugstore). "I'm moving out soon, there's no safety in this city".
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"Tao" means "The way", if I'm not mistaken.
17 March 2001
This delightful little film proves that you do NOT have to spend a trillion-gazillion dollars to make good films.

In a nutshell, Dex (Donal Logue) knows that: "Men and women both want to have sex, but women want to have sex 15 minutes after us, so if you hold out for 20, she'll be chasing you for five" and this is the premise for the movie, if you know Dex's secrets you'll be cool, like all the coolest guys ever; Steve McQueen, Steve ("The 6 Million Dollar Man") Austin and Steve ("Hawaii 5-0") McGarrett.

So "Seduction for dummies" (or "The Tao of Steve") is as follows;

1.- "Be desireless" ("Women can smell an agenda"). 2.- "Be excellent" (Everyone is good at something, and you have to be excellent at least in one thing). 3.- "Be gone" (that's the power of the "20-minute-strategy").

With this knowledge Dex keeps scoring with all sort of girls and women, despite being a beer-drinking, dope-smoking underachiever, that is until he meets Syd (Greer Goodman, sister of the director) and in the end HE falls for the girl and has to make a commitment, great film.

Go see this one, you will NOT regret it.

By the way the Antithesis of cool is being "Stu".
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The Good Guys (1968–1970)
Small comedy, if it's available, watch it, you'll laugh
21 January 2001
The plot outline pretty much sums it all up.

It was just some sort of a warm-down for Edelman (bit on "The Odd Couple") and Denver (Gilligan's Island), but a most enjoyable little show with a very pleasant, understated Joyce Van Patten.

The show was Seinfeld-esque, little happened in it, but was still very enjoyable. A fun show was when, in anger, they revealed each other's middle names Bertrand "Ranravenald" Gramus & Rufus "Fahquart" Buttterworth.

Silly and nice.
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Night Shift (1982)
7/10
Personal favorite
11 January 2001
I saw this film a long time ago, just when it was new (1982) and was blown away by the very talented (and hyperkinetic) Mr. Keaton. Also notable are Henry Winkler in a most restrained and touching way. A welcome surprise is Shelley Long (For the record: I am NOT her fan) as a prostitute with a heart of gold. A small, early gem from the Ron Howard-Ganz-Mandel, with personal touches, to wit: The line when `Belinda' (Shelley Long) tells `Chuck' (Henry Winkler) just after they made love that `she is not wearing her watch' to tell him that she loves him is just beautiful, a nicely semi-polished little gem that I think most people can appreciate and enjoy.

Trivia: Clint Howard in a small role (His brother, Ron always gives him work.)

Trivia: In the closing credits Rod Stewart sings a beautiful version of `That's what friends are for' that would later be made popular by Dionne Warwick..
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Saturn 3 (1980)
Long-Lost "Labor-of Love"
11 January 2001
A pet-project for John Barry (NOT the musician), the man died before finishing the film from meningitis in so fast a manner that: "had it been in film it would be 'poetic license'" (quoting from a writer, IF memory serves right). Second "big Break" for Farrah Fawcett ("Logan's Run" being the first) First time I saw Harvey Keitel (Made "Big Impression") Mr. Douglas seemed a "bit old" for the leading lady. Nice understated effects (zero-gravity, people walking 'upside-down', etc.), Harvey Keitel's "death". (¡oops, gave that away!). Hector "The Droid" was a little Dorky, but the design (Inspired by Michelangelo & Leonardo) is timeless.

A labor of love that became a harmless, timeless, time-filler.

If you love the genre you'll like it.
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8/10
Unexpected Gem
10 January 2001
A great if underrated movie, made with love and respect for the "cowboy" genre.

Nicely cast, with Henry Thomas as a very believable cowboy, Lucas Black slightly stretching it as a young "tough kid", Rubén Blades pretty convincing as a wealthy landowner, Penélope Cruz with a terrible accent (she speaks as a Spaniard -she is-, instead of sounding Mexican), and Matt Damon looking too "soft" for a cowboy, but he is supposed to be a "Boy becoming a Man", thing is, he still looks too soft as a "Man".

Some other outstanding actors; Robert Patrick as Damon's father, subtle and understated, Bruce Dern very nice playing an old coot in a most restrained fashion, "no chewing the scenery" here and it certainly works.

The music is great, I was surprised to see three persons credited with the music for this movie, and expected a mess, I was most pleasantly surprised, the sound is quite authentic.

Beautiful cinematography, images that are breathtaking in their simplicity and very honest, they just let the natural beauty carry the scene, no gimmicks or "artsy" camera moves, certainly Mr. Thornton has a way of knowing how to present nice images to the viewer.

The urban locations were quite well chosen even if the last ones (Damon and Thomas having lunch) were too modern, these guys have a very good "location scout".

As for the chemistry, well, do not expect too much, even if both Cruz and Damon are very attractive something seems to be missing, they cry and hug, but somehow they failed to make me feel they were in love.

If Mr. Thornton keeps making good choices about material and collaborators I wouldn't be surprised to see him getting an Academy Award in some years from now, I predicted it for Clint Eastwood and it came to happen (with "Unforgiven"), I believe it can happen for Mr. Thorton too.

P.S. As far as I know no mexican jail has food as good as the one shown in the movie.
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Unbreakable (2000)
8/10
Well rounded, Willis-Shyamalan second collaboration.
27 December 2000
I went to see this movie with mixed feelings, after reading some not-too-good reviews, Was I glad I saw it!

Even if the overall look of the picture is dark, it is tolerable and help explain the sadness of Mr. Willis character and his constant wearing of the raincoat. His never ending melancholy gets explained as well, what I liked best is Samuel L. Jackson's character's line, he says: "life can't be contained inside a little square box" (or something to that effect), and the next few scenes are shot in a very "comic book style", with static camera and framing the scenes in "square boxes", playful and beautiful!

The director gave us plenty of clues to the ending, but we didn't use them, I like that.

Never mind the people that hated the "ending" it explains everything and definitely closes the picture.

I highly recommend it!
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