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Lost in America (1985)
One of the best
I really enjoyed this film. Albert Brooks and Julie Haggerty play a successful yuppie couple who seem to be perfectly happy. A new house, a new Mercedes Benz, etc. This all changes when Albert Brooks is denied a promotion at his advertising firm. Of course, Albert Brooks has a breakdown and convinces his wife into buying a motor-home and traveling across the country. Brooks sees this as the perfect opportunity for he and his wife to let loose, stop being responsible, and find themselves. The results are very funny and very entertaining. Albert Brooks is as likable as ever in this thought provoking and true to life comedy. ***1/2 out of ****.
Very disturbing film
This extremely unpleasant and explicit film depicts the lives of a group of late teens(mostly high-school drop outs) who decide to plan to murder an abusive member of their group(Nick Stahl). All logic is thrown out the window from this point on as the group continues to sustain abuse from this menace and then finally come up with a plan to kill him. The rest of the film is filled with meaningless and almost random sex scenes. The question that most people should ask themselves during and after this film is what could possibly possess these people to actually kill this kid? Sure people can be awful, but why kill them? There is no way that they could ever get away with it. Are there not other ways to punish this kid? Reporting him to the police, pressing charges. That is how ridiculous this film is, it just doesn't make any sense. Nobody could be that stupid.
Natural Born Killers (1994)
A different kind of love story
After seeing this film I have now seen all of Oliver Stone's films. This was by far the turkey of the bunch, but when we are talking about Oliver Stone it can't be all that bad. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis play two lovers who were abused as children who now for some reason feel that the best way to spend their time is to travel around brutally murdering people. By the time they finally end up in jail, they end up becoming media superstars and worshiped. This film is basically a satire on America's fascination with criminals and nothing more than that. The cast is terrific including a great cameo from Rodney Dangerfield as Mallory's father. This film does make you wonder what possessed these people to do such things. Watch it with a strong stomach. **1/2 out of ****.
Michael Mann's great movie
This was director Michael Mann's(Collateral, Heat) first and in my opinion greatest film. James Caan plays a self employed diamond thief who has dreams of a normal life, complete with a house in the suburbs, a wife, and a child. He realizes that in order to do this he must give up his career as a thief. This all gets even more complicated when powerful gangster Robert Prosky gives him the opportunity to work with him on one last big score, which will give him enough money to quit and retire to a normal life. He soon realizes that if he stopped working for the gangster, his family will die and everything he owns will be taken away. This is a terrific film about a man with dreams that progessively get destroyed as he descends further and further into the world of crime. ***1/2 out of ****.
Friday Night Lights (2004)
Terrific Sports Drama
This is one of the few thoroughly well made sports dramas. Billy Bob Thornton gives one of his best performances as the small town high school football coach that is determined to see his team succeed. We get to see all of the disappointments and mishaps that are involved with sports as well as all of the tension and heartache that occurs behind the scenes.
The aspect that I admired most about this film was that it didn't rely on happy endings and romance to win the audience over. It is a realistic film that tells its story like it is, without any gimmicks or fancy tricks. Tim McGraw was terrific as one of the players' abrasive and abusive fathers. This is a film that tells it like it is. ***1/2 out of ****.
The Party (1968)
Good for a few laughs
In his first non "Pink Panther" film directed by Blake Edwards, Peter Sellers plays a bumbling Indian film extra who accidentally blows up a whole movie set. He is supposed to be sent letter to confirm his firing, but instead the producer's secretary sees his name written down and assumes that he is being invited to the big party that is coming up and sends him an invitation. Of course, Sellers comes to the party and you just know what happens. His bumbling antics destroy the whole party and practically ruin the home of the producer who is hosting it.
This is a film that has basically no real plot or meaning to it, just a lot of inspired slapstick that will at least put a smile on ones face. Peter Sellers makes the most out of almost nothing. 6/10.
Harmless Richard Pryor Comedy
In this silly, but fun comedy from director Alan Metter(Back To School), Richard Pryor plays an engineer finds what seems to be the perfect job. The only problem is that the job is in Idaho, which means that his family would have to sell their home in Chicago and move out to Idaho. Several disasters occur as Pryor attempts to pack up and move across country, everything that could possibly go wrong does. The film is not exactly a laugh fest, but Pryor keeps the film entertaining with his great comic energy. Dave Thomas and Dana Carvey are fun in supporting roles, as well as Rodney Dangerfield as a gambling loan officer. Overall, a harmless film that benefits greatly from the presence of Pryor. 5.8/10.
Broadcast News (1987)
Very well made and often quite moving, but the comedy can be awfully corny
This is a very well made film from director James L. Brooks. William Hurt, Holly Hunter, and Albert Brooks play a group of reporters and producer at a big news network. William Hurt is the new big shot anchorperson who everybody just seems to love, even though he didn't go to college and isn't even very knowledgeable about the news he is reading. Holly Hunter is the producer that cannot stand to see him become so successful because she does not believe that a reporter should be respected and loved just because they "look good" but soon finds herself attracted to him anyway. Albert Brooks plays a highly intelligent and knowledgeable reporter that simply does not have the looks and charisma to become a successful anchorperson. Brooks gets extremely jealous of Hurt because he is so successful and Holly Hunter has romantic feelings for him, which he wishes she had for Brooks himself. This is basically the whole story, and an interesting one at that. The comedy which is supplied mostly by Brooks is often embarrassingly corny and even childish at times. There is one scene where he almost randomly starts singing along with some Spanish song on the radio which really was not needed in the film. Overall a fine film that works better as a drama/romance than a comedy. ***/****.
50 First Dates (2004)
Not a great Adam Sandler movie, but still watchable and entertaining
After a string of truly poor comedies(Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, and Anger Management), Adam Sandler somewhat gets back on his feet with this silly, but good natured comedy. Sandler plays sea animal veterinarian living in Hawaii who enjoys having several short flings with tourists. He spots an attractive Drew Barrymore in a diner one morning and strikes up a romance with her. He goes back again to meet her the next morning, but she has no idea who he is. He realizes that her short term memory gets erases every night and she starts out with a clean slate every morning. He figures that she is worth his time, so he tries to go back to the diner every morning and win her over again and again. The story consists of one running joke that quickly runs thin, but there are still enough funny/touching moments to make it worthwhile. Dan Aykroyd has a fun cameo as Barrymore's doctor and Sean Astin is a hoot as her brother. 6/10.
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
A Very Special Movie
Every time I see this film, it leaves me thinking about it for days. The subject of time travel is a fascinating subject and this is the only non sci-fi film that I can think of that revolves around the subject. Kathleen Turner is wonderful as the 40-something year old mother of two who is in the process of getting divorced from her husband(Nicolas Cage), but gets hurled 25 years into the past when she passes out at her high school reunion. This is a truly touching film about going back in time and being able to experience your youth and priceless times that you will never be able to experience again. One of the most touching scenes is when Peggy Sue gets a call from her long dead Grandmother and doesn't know what to do or say. Also, be sure to watch out for some very early bits from Joan Allen, Jim Carrey, and Helen Hunt. ***1/2 out of ****.
The Star Chamber (1983)
An entertaining, if imperfect film
In this quietly released early eighties film, Michael Douglas plays a young city judge who is sick and tired of being forced to allow obviously guilty criminals off the hook due to technicalities built up by lawyers. He realizes that there may be a way to correct this problem once one of the older, more experienced judges(Hal Holbrook) lets him in on a group of judges that meet privately to set up murders of the guilty criminals that got off the hook.
For the most part this is a highly entertaining and thought provoking film which always leaves you wondering where its going to turn next. However, there are a few important things that are left unexplained or just plain forgotten about, which was somewhat sloppy. Otherwise, a good film about an interesting topic. Certainly one of Douglas' best. 7/10.
Fantastic in every way
This a truly terrific period piece directed by Milos Forman(Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus) and starring terrific cast. The film takes place in the very early 1900's and follows the lives of at least four different people/families. As the movie gets going, it begins to focus mostly on an African American man and his struggle to be heard in society after he is mistreated by a group of firemen. Everything that follows is equally powerful and fascinating as the man tries to find justice in the turn of the century America. This fine film is richly textured with turn of the century atmosphere, music and actual newsreels from the period which all contribute to this fascinating story. Also nice to see James Cagney one more time. This is a film that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in what life was like at the turn of century. A fantastic film. ***3/4 out of ****.
Raising Arizona (1987)
Wonderfully Offbeat Comedy
This is probably the Coen brothers' most funny film, next to The Big Lebowski. Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter play an unlikely couple (an ex-convict and a cop) who are unable to have children of their own or even adopt one due to Cage's criminal record. When they find out that a big-wig department store owner and his wife just gave birth to a set of quintuplets, they figure that if they steal one of them the man and his wife won't care. What follows is a wonderfully offbeat story sprinkled with hilarious dry humor and bits of slapstick comedy. This is a movie that will leave you thinking and laughing about it long after its over. Nicolas Cage has never been more hilarious in a movie. A must see. 8.4/10.
The Changeling (1980)
Very scary and atmospheric horror film
In this sadly forgotten horror film, George C. Scott plays a music composer who has just moved to Oregon to escape the painful memories of his wife and daughter who were killed in a car crash. He rents an old and secluded mansion from the historical society as a place to live. Soon after he moves into the house, strange occurrences begin.
This is one of those horror movies that can be scary without being bloody and gory. It simply relies on atmosphere and frightening, but subtle images to deliver its chills, and it works. I will never be able to understand that "R" rating mainly because there is only very mild profanity and there is no blood or gore. Anyway, I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a good scary ghost story. 8/10.
Wall Street (1987)
Entertaining movie about a greedy and heartless bastard
Dear lord, I have never seen so many greedy and heartless people in my entire life!! This movie is about a young and impatient stock broker who feels the need to get to the top. He spends his time idolizing and trying to get in touch with billionaire Wall Street tycoon, Gordon Gecko(Douglas in a good, but heartless Oscar winning performance.) He finally gets in touch with him and soon begins working for him, giving him inside tips about his father's(Martin Sheen, as an aircraft mechanic) company and helping him buy up other company stocks. But things soon start to get ugly when Gecko begins to have sinister plans for his father's company that will put even more money in his pockets.
An entertaining story, but an absence of any likable characters, except for the two Sheen's as father and son leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth. Hearing Gordon Gecko say that "greed is good" and that its your own fault if you are not rich was enough to make me hate his character. This movie truly shows how capitalism can get way out of hand, and how some people just do not care about anything except for being the richest person in the country. Some people just have way too much and many times its just luck.
I would recommend this movie for anyone who enjoys a good business film, but don't be surprised if you find yourself hating many of the characters in this greedy film. ***1/2 out of *****.
I'm Not Rappaport (1996)
Yes You Are
This is a predictable little film about two old geezers puttering around Central Park. Worth seeing for Matthau's and Davis' chemistry, but thats about it. The biggest problem with this film is that it runs far too long for its subject matter. The same story could have been told in about 75 minutes, but they had to extend it to a long 135 minutes, which was a mistake. Many people will be bored by this film, but a few may really enjoy it, especially those really interested in politics. **/****. If you really want to see this two old actors together, your best bet would be Grumpy Old Men, which was a truly funny and entertaining movie.
Cocoon: The Return (1988)
A worthy follow up to the original
After I enjoyed the first Cocoon so much I decided that the sequel could not be too bad. For the most part, the Cocoon: The Return remains a generally enjoyable film even if most of the magic remained in the original. In this one, the elderly friends return back to earth to catch up on everything that had missed out on while they were away. The biggest problem when they get back to earth is that all of the special protection from illness and aging that they had with the aliens eventually wears off, and if they don't get back to their planet with the aliens quickly, some of them may die. Overall, an enjoyable and harmless sequel to the original. If you liked the original you will most likely enjoy this sequel. ***1/2 out of *****.
Dated, plot less, and not very funny
This is a simplistic comedy about a summer camp and the counselors that work there. This film is nothing more than that. Bill Murray tries his best to save this fitfully funny comedy, but the film still fails. It may have been funny back when it first came out, but now it just looks sad. Time has not been kind to this one. It even tries to be sentimental at times, which also fails. I realize that this comment will probably be placed near the bottom, because whenever I write a negative comment it always gets voted as "not helpful" which is understandable I guess. Anyway, back to the film. All in all this is a dated comedy which should only be viewed for nostalgic value. **/*****.
My Dog Skip (2000)
A very depressing version of a familiar story
After a promising start, this simple and seemingly good natured story about a boy and his beloved dog turns into another depressing and often mean spirited movie. The film would have been much more effective and have left a better taste in my mouth if it didn't take that nasty, violent turn in the last act. The story itself has been told before, a lonely young boy seems to have all his problems answered when he receives the gift of a pet, but we get an overload of mean spirit, mainly the violence being inflicted on the dog in a few scenes, including that brutal final act which just leaves a sour taste in our mouths. If it wasn't for the mean spirit in this film, it could have maybe been salvaged, but unfortunately it failed in my eyes. **/****.
The Final Countdown (1980)
I really enjoyed it
This was a highly entertaining sleeper about a naval ship that happens to go through a time warp and end up at Pearl Harbor just hours before the attack in 1941. Realistic acting, special effects and air scenes really make this movie stand out from other similar movies. I'm really surprised that this film is not more popular, because this was a very unique and fascinating concept for a movie, especially back in 1980. I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a good science-fiction film. I'm also surprised that it has such a low rating, I was expecting it to be rated at least a 7. Ill give it an 8 out of 10. Well worth viewing.
Henry & June (1990)
An enchanting and overlooked film
Director Phillip Kaufman stirred up quite a bit of controversy when this film was first being released, most likely because of the intensity of the love scenes, but after watching the DVD I am now thinking that this film could have maybe slipped by with an R rating. The film faired poorly at the box-office, but seemed to have received generally positive reviews. The best element of this film is the atmosphere, which truly resembles the time period in which the film takes place. The story of the romance between the two writers is interesting on its own, but the great acting gives it a boost. Overall, a highly worthwhile film that will come as a pleasant surprise. The 6.3 rating is too low. I would say it deserves at the very least a 7. Ill give it an 8.
Cape Fear (1991)
One of the better thrillers of the 90's
I have wanted to see this movie for quite some time, and I finally saw it, and I thought that it was great. I am a huge Martin Scorsese fan, and I would have to say this is one of his most true to life films, even though its not his best film. The acting is great,and so is the music. The film will send shivers through your body. This is also one of DeNiro's most underrated performances and deserved more attention at the time of its release. Its also great to see some of the actors from the original version show up in cameo roles. If you like horror films and thrillers, you will most likely enjoy this. ***1/2 out of ****. A recommended viewing.
Baby Boom (1987)
Diane Keaton plays a top New York City business executive who's life is turned upside down by inheriting a baby from a distant relative. The best quality of this film is the way that it shows how a baby can drastically change a persons life. It is also very heartwarming watching Keaton become atatched to the baby. The only part that bothered me about this film was the way that Keaton refused her company's offer to buy her baby food invention. I cant see how anyone on earth could ever refuse the salary and compensation she would have received if she had gone through with the deal. Other than that, this is a generally entertaining and cute comedy. ***/****.
The Rainmaker (1997)
Not always realistic, but a highly entertaining story
This film was sort of a comeback for Francis Ford Coppola, considering that he had not really made any films since "The Godfather Part 3", other than "Jack". In this film Matt Damon plays a young lawyer fresh out of law school, who by chance meets up with spitfire paralegal Danny DeVito, and takes on a huge and difficult case. Fully entertaining throughout, although the ending is almost completely unbeleivable, which is the only negative aspect of this film. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good courtroom drama, I thought it was one of the better ones that I have seen. I rate it *** out of ****, or maybe even a little higher.
Heaven & Earth (1993)
Not too bad
After a long string of box office and critical successes, Oliver Stone tried making a different kind of war film, this one being shown from a Vietnamese woman's perspective. Very interesting and entertaining throughout, but it does have some extremely unpleasant and cruel scenes, not unlike many other war films. The first hour of the film takes place in Vietnam during the war and is full of Vietnamese culture and feeling. As soon as Tommy Lee Jones comes into the picture as an unstable American soldier, the film soon feels and becomes much more Americanized and eventually very depressing. An interesting work from Oliver Stone that unfortunately was barely released in 1993 and received lukewarm reviews from critics. Still, its worth watching, and its never boring. 7/10.