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10/10
Everything's better with maturity
27 February 2013
I just saw Richard Linklater's Before Midnight his newest and third film about Jesse and Celine the couple who meet as young adults in Before Sunrise and re-meet as adults in Before Sunset (one of my five favorite films).

This is simply brilliant film making: funny, raw, emotionally honest and complicated. The couple (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy who both co-wrote with Linklater) are now in their 40s and face some very real challenges to their menage. I started laughing and crying within about 3 minutes and both emotions kept up until the very end. Everyone sat through the credits so they could wipe their faces clean. Brilliant acting . . .

This film gives one hope for the state of American film making and reminds you that Linklater is one of our most underrated auteurs. I sincerely hope he continues and I live long enough to see the couple well into their senior years.

Even if you have never seen the first two movies, do not miss this one.
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7/10
Sometimes a Horror
6 May 2006
Let's face it, great scary movies are hard to make. How many truly terrifying ones can you actually name? How many can sustain the terror and tension over the course of the film? The opening sequence is near perfect and so is the first hour. nearly. The tension does fall apart as the haunting continues. This is due largely to repetition of haunting sequences. Somehow what was once scary becomes a tad boring.

On the other hand there are some very fine performances, notably by Donald Southerland.

The efeect are very good and well within a framework that works for both the 19th century setting and a 21st century viewer s expectations.

All and all this is better than so many films that haunt the multiplexes
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4/10
A thin film
5 May 2006
I am sure the die hards will hate my assessment, but the film is very thin. Unless you happen to enjoy Keeler's self conscious winking at the audience in a "shucks-aren't-I-amusing" kind of way the movie will fall flat. This is the intellectual equivalent of HeeHaw, just for a different demographic. The plot is hackneyed, and nothing much really happens.

There is some increbibly fine acting, and the scene between Marylouise Burke, Virginia Madsen and L.Q. Jones is some of the best acting I have seen in many a day. It is amazingly moving. Lohan, Tomlin and Streep all comport themselves beautifully and take turns warbling in pleasant ways. Madsen's character is the most interesting thing on screen, and one wishes she had many more scenes.

If this were the best film of the year, as one commentator suggests, this is a very weak year.
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8/10
Annabella Sciorra is Guilty's Pleasure
6 January 2006
I went to a preview screening of this film, so the version I saw may not make it onto the screen. I was pretty hesitant when I heard that Mr. Diesel was in it. I have to report that he did justice to the role. OK, he was no young Al Pacino, but he was certainly better than the old Al Pacino would be in the role. And Pacino has to be the patron saint of the film. His performance could have been loud, it could have been slick, instead he adds surprising depth to an essentially obnoxious character.

The story isn't surprising, but it does carry a bit of a cultural wallop, and Deisel, using dialog drawn from actual courtroom testimony is able to convey a real sense of outrage over being societal discrimination. It is a testimony to Lumet's direction, that the film never veers into the didactic or preachy.

The real surprise to me was Annabella Sciorra. The print I saw had no credits, so I wasn't expecting her and it took me a bit to place her face. She was electrifying. She truly lit up the screen in her 5 minutes. In an extended dialog with Diesel as her husband, she goes from dispassion, to jealousy, to outrage, to sexual hunger in the most nuanced and natural performance I have seen in a long while. Sciorra is a major talent and needs to get some larger roles, maybe even a few where she isn't the Wife/Fiancée of a N.J. mobster.
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9/10
A wonder filled Life
21 September 2004
To take the Japrisot novel and make a movie out of it was, I thought, a doomed project. Especially from such a fanciful Director as Jeunet. I was wrong. His lightness of touch keeps the movie from getting bogged down in the horrors of war. Yet, his absurdist stylizing is the perfect foil for the madness that was the first world war. His ability to pull perfect performances from talented actors never ceases to amaze. With this, Amelie, and Dirty, Pretty Things, Audrey Tautou proves herself to be one of the finest actors of our generation. Actually the entire cast is amazing, particularly noteworthy is the older woman who plays Mathilde's aunt. The last face that expressive was Farmer Hoggett's wife in Babe. There is a very sweet cameo by a woman who looks so much like Jodie Foster, it just happens to be her speaking french!
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3/10
House of Wax in 2d
21 December 2003
What an utter waste of a cast in a film so LARGE and leaden with BIG emotions and themes you can barely sit through it. The ultimate illustration of the Shakespearean adage of a tale told full of sound and fury signifying nothing. There is no universal moral in this pic, just good people misbehaving. What can you take away from this film? If you are an addict, you will always be an addict, so avoid psycho policeman who fall in love with you when the lay eyes on you? How about Iranian strong men need to mellow out in the US, or their wives need to adapt their budgets to their new surroundings. Kingsley's one note performance is all sexy beast and no turtle diary--an out poring of words and anger-- Jennifer connolly reminds me of the worst excesses of sybil. Only Shohreh Aghdashloo really performs with any great authority. She is an actress to watch.
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6/10
Wrung
21 December 2003
You kind of have to take the movie on its own terms. It is what it is...long, confusing, battles that don't matter. On the other hand there are great characters, good acting, amazing effects, great direction (esp the spider sequences). The film just sort of is...it won't change the world, won't make sense if you have not seen the others, but it is an enjoyable way to kill an evening
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Confidence (2003)
9/10
Pros as Cons
4 April 2003
Everyone must love a good con artist tale. We all see our selves as both victim and perpetrator. We love the thrill of the ride, of the something for nothing, of doing bad, but not really hurting anyone who does not deserve it. These are the archetypical elements of a good con movie, and Confidence delivers them with panache.

There is nothing really new here. No mind bending twists beyond the twists that have to be constructed for a picture like this to succeed, and succeed it does. Why? It is the cast. Everyone delivers the performance of their career in the film, and I mean everyone. I have not seen Dustin Hoffman act in a long time, and here he does much more than phone in the part. He proves himself to be a real risk taker. Nothing less can be said of any of the cast members, some familiar, others not so. This may be the defining role of Edward Burns' career, and likewise for Rachel Weisz. I did not even recognize Andy Garcia, that is how transformed we has. Imagine Paul Giamatti in a role that you did not want to slap him for or ask why he was wasting his talents!

This film is like a really rich dessert. Even though you know it is not good for you, you just cannot help yourself because it is so delicious.
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Confidence (2003)
9/10
Pros as Cons
4 April 2003
Everyone must love a good con artist tale. We all see our selves as both victim and perpetrator. We love the thrill of the ride, of the something for nothing, of doing bad, but not really hurting anyone who does not deserve it. These are the archetypical elements of a good con movie, and Confidence delivers them with panache.

There is nothing really new here. No mind bending twists beyond the twists that have to be constructed for a picture like this to succeed, and succeed it does. Why? It is the cast. Everyone delivers the performance of their career in the film, and I mean everyone. I have not seen Dustin Hoffman act in a long time, and here he does much more than phone in the part. He proves himself to be a real risk taker. Nothing less can be said of any of the cast members, some familiar, others not so. This may be the defining role of Edward Burns' career, and likewise for Rachel Weisz. I did not even recognize Andy Garcia, that is how transformed we has. Imagine Paul Giamatti in a role that you did not to slap him for or ask why he was wasting his talents!

This film is like a really rich dessert. Even though you know it is not good for you, you just cannot help yourself because it is so delicious.
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8/10
An interesting experiment
7 September 2002
Writer Director Miller has taken a lot a formal risks in this film and it pays off with some extremely fine storytelling. My big complaint was that the three portraits did not add up to one story, but the viewing was really worth while. Miller is definitely a filmmaker to watch.
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The Stand (1994)
1/10
Being Boring
7 September 2002
Stephen King seems to have gone thru a period where he must have been so in love with his words that he would not let anything be cut. That is the only explanation for a slew of bloated and over written books and their mini-series spawn.

This opus, which is truly one of his lesser and most over-rated efforts, was one he stewarded to the screen with great excitement. Like all his Mini series--Rose Red, The Shining remake, and It (the evil clown film)--this would have been best left unmade. The script is over-long, nearly twice the length of War & Peace; badly plotted; and the actors are forced too say badly written cliches like," I'll see you in hell, Randall, holding your baby in my arms." (Which one will be holding the baby?)

The actors literally chew the scenery of the "Great American West" (which they refer to every third moment.) But with this ploddingly plotted opus, it is not their fault folks--it is their agents!

Poor Ray Walston, a generation that never saw My Favorite Martian might actually remember him for his horrible down home faithfulness. Oh and Ruby Dee as the voice of god---I am sorry, the poor woman should never have been so desperate for money as to have needed this role.
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Iris (I) (2001)
9/10
A beautiful film about difficult moments in life
9 December 2001
Iris Murdoch was one of the greatest and most overlooked authors of the twentieth century. Her novels were peopled with characters trying to go about doing good in their own quirky ways. Some were comedic, some tragic and in the end, so too was her life.

Iris presents us with the author at two basic moments in her life, just after completing her first novel, and just after completing her last. Kate Winslet is wonderful as the young Iris, but Dame Judi Dench steals the film with her portrait of the artist as she descends into dementia. It is naturalistic and never over played. Jim Broadbent also delivers a very strong role as Murdoch's husband.
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