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Persona (1966)
Pseudo Artistic Hogwash
22 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If you are one of the sheep who believes an Ingmar Bergman film must be a masterpiece because you've been told they are, then by all means watch this pseudo artistic piece of baloney.

On the other hand, if you prefer a film that actually has a plot, a definite ending, some point to it, explanations for why the characters behave as they do and where something happens - skip this one.

In the opening, prior to the title, the film just jumps around from meaningless image to meaningless image, mostly centering on a scrawny young boy running his hand over the close-up of some woman's face, accompanied by music akin to fingernails on a blackboard.

However, once the title is shown then the film settles down to center around two women.

One is an actress, Elisabeth Vogler who has gone mute, the other is Alma, who has been hired as her nurse. Why she needs a nurse is unclear, since physically she is all right--and the nurse does nothing to aid her psychologically. Neither does Ms. Vogler's doctor. Instead, Ms. Vogler, accompanied by Alma, is sent to stay at the doctor's beach cottage, in a rather isolated area. How this is suppose to help her condition is never explained, beyond resting.

Since Elisabeth does not speak, Alma more than makes up for it by talking at her endlessly.

We are teased by undercurrents of lesbianism on the part of the two women, but this comes to nothing--just like the rest of the film.

Eventually, Alma confesses an unbelievable, graphically described, rather disgusting sex scene in which she was involved, and reads a letter Elisbath leaves unsealed, which the actress wrote to the doctor. The letter makes Alma mad and she rants quite a bit at Elisabeth. I think this is the one time Elisabeth does speak--gets too scared not to, I suppose.

Alma also rants at Elisabeth about Elisabeth's feelings in regards to her young son. How Alma would know any of this, is never explained. In fact, she does the same exact scene twice in a row--why the director decided to repeat this, like everything else in this film--unknown.

There is also an odd scene where Elisabeth's husband visits. Although never said, I assumed he was blind since he was wearing black glasses. He seems to think Alma is his wife and she goes along with it for some unknown reason, while nimble-wits Elisabeth merely stands by watching.

Even a blind person would know their own spouse, so this scene is absurd and completely unbelievable.

The film comes to no particular conclusion.

Although Alma is shown driving a car at one point in the film, it ends with her getting on a bus as if she has no other transportation, nor do we know where she is going.

2 stars is being generous.
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Don't watch this unless you have a couple of barf bags handy
25 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers

I watched this film because critics had lauded it so highly, and because one of my favorite actors, Michael Caine appears in it. Mr. Caine does fine work, as I suppose everyone in the cast does, but the characters and story line were so annoying, irritating, selfish and stupid, I could barely sit through it.

Even the children at the orphanage were not exactly speckled pups in a little red wagon.

First we have Michael Caine's character Dr. Larch, who is basically a father figure to Toby Maguire's character Homer Wells. Now on the surface Dr. Larch appears to be almost an angel--here is this saintly Dr. caring for these unwanted orphans, and being kind and loving. But Dr. Larch wants to browbeat Homer into also being a doctor, and we get the distinct impression that is not necessarily what Homer wants to do.

Dr. Larch also has a problem dealing with reality when it comes to the orphanage children. These children are so protected from reality they have no concept of it whatsoever. When a young child dies, Dr. Larch secretly buries him, and the other children instead of attending a funeral and coming to terms with the fact there is such a thing as human death--are lied to, and told the deceased child has been adopted.

I wondered, toward the end of the film, when an adult personage who worked at the orphanage passed away, if the kids were going to be told the adult had been adopted!

Then we have Charlize Theron, as Candy Worthington, and her boyfriend Wally--who apparently are too stupid to use birth control--and too selfish and irresponsible to marry and become parents. But not to worry, Dr. Larch will solve that little problem that's getting in their way of a good time.

Homer decides to suddenly leave the orphanage and go pick apples instead of becoming a doctor at the orphanage, which is what Dr. Larch plans him to be--never mind that he has no schooling and has not served any kind of internship at a hospital.

Wally goes off to war, and Candy is left behind with a bad case of "hot pants." Well there's Homer all handy, ready and willing-- faithfulness is not part of Candy's make up, and Toby feels no loyalty to his friend Wally--so soon he and Candy are rolling in the hay. I fully expected her to have a second pregnancy and abortion.

The love scenes between Candy and Homer were definitely nothing I'd care to ever have to see again. Toby McGuire is a fine actor, but he is about as far from being a romantic leading man as you could get. His character, quite frankly, came across as an ignorant,homely nerd.

We also have a little side story with some blacks who work at the apple farm. Now I'm quite familiar with migrant Mexicans traveling with the crops--but this is the first time I've ever seen or heard of any migrant crop and fruit picking blacks traveling with the crops.

Get the barf bag ready because here comes the worst part of this movie--Rose Rose, one of the black migrants, gets pregnant. And just guess who Daddy is. What makes this so barf-worthy, however, is how they make this man, who is guilty of completely selfish lust--turn into this sacrificing, caring, sensitive person. Character reality flew completely out the window on that one.

Then we learn that Wally is now paralyzed from the waist down. Good old Homer is more than ready to marry Candy, but no, she may shag everything in sight, but Wally is her one true love--yeah, right! One can only wonder how someone with the kind of sex drive Candy obviously has, is going to be able to deal with a husband, whom we are led to believe, has become totally impotent. But that's just one more stupid decision a character makes in this movie.

Definitely THE worst film I have seen in some time.

I voted it ONE star because I could not vote anything lower.
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Delightful English Comedy
28 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Betty and Boris eye each other at a junior dance when they're still kids, but unfortunately Hugh gets to her first and thirty years later when we tune back in--Betty is married to Hugh and putting up with his fussy mother, who also lives with them.

Neither Boris, nor Betty, however, have forgotten each other and when their paths cross again, they soon declare their feelings.

But Betty feels she can't divorce Hugh, a Councilman, it would hurt him too much. What Betty doesn't know is, Hugh isn't hurting at all. He's rolling in the sheets with his beautiful secretary Meredith.

Boris, an undertaker, thinks he has the answer. They'll fake her death.

Christopher Walken plays Frank Featherbed, an outrageous, competing undertaker in their medium-sized town--that causes additional problems for Boris and Betty.

All kinds of complications arise as Boris and Betty try to pull off this major coup.

There are laugh out-loud scenes, some delightful dancing, and nary a curse word to be heard. In short, the film was a pleasure to watch.

10 stars.
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The old wanting to be in the young's arms
22 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The subject title I gave is the total sum of this movie.

I have seen tissue paper thicker than the plot for this film.

Set in the 1930's, two elderly sisters,Ursula and Janet, share a house in the English countryside, when one morning they discover a young man washed up on shore, more dead then alive.

They have him carted up to their house and call the doctor--who is an elderly gentleman.

Both sisters are delighted to have him--buy him a suit of new clothes, and learn to communicate with him. He is Polish, speaks no English, but does speak German.

One of the sisters, Ursula, falls in love with this young man whose name is Andrea. Frankly, I didn't find him that appealing--he was not that attractive either physically or his personality.

Andrea, of course, has zero interest in this lady romantically or sexually. That a lady in her 70s, I would guess her to be, would for even a single moment think that a man in his 20s would be the slightest bit interested in her was mind-boggling.

Ursula's romantic interest in him is played so subtly--that if I had not read it in a description of the film, I would never have guessed it.

Andrea plays the violin beautifully and becomes romantically interested in Olga, a German-speaking young woman artist, who's visiting the area.

The doctor, a man in his late 60s at least--is romantically interested in Olga.

That's it--that is all this film amounted to.

4 Stars
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Road Trip with a Hit-man!
15 February 2007
Definitely goes in my top 5 of all time favorite films. This is a very satisfying film on many levels.

Although I would have preferred younger males in the lead roles--I can see where having them older works.

This movie is pure Hollywood fiction (based on a novel), where we have a hit-man who is: understanding, kind, sensitive, empathetic to the heroine, yet tough enough to handle any threatening situation that turns up.

The heroine is the beautiful Mexican actress, Giovanna Zacarias. In this film, she's got two men who are interested in her. One is down on his luck writer, Danny Pastor (Craig Wasson) who tends to fly off the handle a bit at times and get overly emotional during tense situations, and the super cool, super bad Clayton Price,(Scott Glenn) a dangerous hit-man.

Following some killings Clayton does, he needs a ride out of Mexico to the U.S. border and he's got the bucks to tempt Danny Pastor into taking him. At the last moment, Luz (Giovanna), Danny's sort of girlfriend/sort of hooker, decides to go with them.

In addition to the three above characters, we've also got Walter McGrane (Harvey Keitel), a government man and his young trainee. Harvey did so well in this role, I positively hated Walter McGrane with a passion! All of the cast did top notch performances in this film, the story is tight as well, along with lots of suspense and some unexpected turns in the tale.

I highly recommend it.

10 stars.
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The Beguiled (1971)
1977 film ahead of it's time
8 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This film has some rather shocking scenes and subject matter considering it was made in 1971.

Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page, and Elizabeth Hartman do excellent work in the film, as do all the cast members.

Set during the Civil War, the film begins when a wounded Yankee soldier, Johnny, portrayed by Clint Eastwood, is given refuge and help at a girls academy located in the south.

The headmistress of the school, Ms. Farnsworth (Geraldine Page), the one teacher-Edwina (Elizabeth Hartman), and a small group of half grown girls have been without a man in their midst for perhaps a little too long.

While their loyalties lay with the Confederacy-- their emotions and physical needs definitely lead them in the opposite direction. Johnny immediately uses his masculine charms to try to win the women over to his side--and keep them from turning him over to the patrollers.

However, feelings previously stoked by incestuous behavior, an adulterous father, a brutal rape, and adolescent inexperience combined with jealousies--turn things upside down with some unexpected consequences for both Johnny and the school's residents.

10 stars
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The last 15 mins are rocking, but
8 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I found the rest of it somewhat disappointing--it wasn't quite what I expected. I thought it was going to be a buddy movie all the way through, with hunky William DeVane and super sexy Tommy Lee Jones teamed up together kicking major butt! However, they don't team up until the last 15 minutes of the movie for some hard-hitting action with plenty of shooting.

William DeVane's character, a Colonel, who has been a POW for seven years in Vietnam, returns home to his wife and the son he hasn't seen since he was a baby.

It is obvious his years in captivity and torture has had its effect on him. He is sort of unemotional, very un-talkative, almost robotic. While I don't doubt this is the result of what happened to the character--it doesn't work well in a film--where dialog is frequently needed in order to convey what the character is thinking or feeling.

Since what I had read about the plot of the film indicated that the Colonel is going to be avenging the brutal death of his wife and son-- I expected him and his wife to still be in love with each other. But no, that is not the case.

Wifey has taken up with a police officer named Cliff. While having an affair with a married woman is bad enough--having an affair with a married woman whose husband is a POW is about as low as you can scrape, in my opinion. However the Colonel was quite understanding of this.

As it turns out, the Colonel has his own little blonde groupie, who has worn his bracelet the entire time he was a POW. Instead of him and Tommy Lee Jones (who was also a POW at the same prison camp)immediately going after the bad guys--at first, we have to put up with him having Ms. Groupie accompany him on the hunt for the bad guys--and sit through their budding romantic relationship.

Since this was filmed in 1977--Tommy Lee Jones,as you can well imagine, was so sexy he just about melted my TV screen. To have been with him physically, in person, would have had to have been completely overwhelming. I don't know when I have seen a man so sexy.

There is a scene with Tommy Lee Jones and a hooker in Mexico that has a steamy moment. I wouldn't have minded playing her role!

The main problem with this film was not enough screen time for Tommy Lee Jones. For that reason I gave it 5 stars.
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Hidden Places (2006 TV Movie)
Wonderful Film on the Hallmark Channel
6 February 2007
I really liked this film about decent people being kind to each other and trying to do the best they could. Kindness and decency are rare things to find in a film these days.

I was very pleased with the cast of this film--Jason Gedrick is one of my favorite actors, who unfortunately doesn't get the roles and recognition he should. He reminds me quite a lot of another actor I really like Anthony Zerbe. Other members of the cast were Sydney Penny--a very pretty young actress, whom I had not seen before, and the wonderful Shirley Jones.

The story revolves around a young widow, with two young children, who is trying to hold things together following the death of her father-in-law.

I quite liked the setting which was a farm (an orange grove to be specific), during the early 1930s. The big old house they lived in was an absolute delight to see-- there are so few houses like that left anymore.

A young man named Gabe Harper (Jason Gedrick), a drifter, arrives in the area and is stopped by the sheriff in questioned. As it turns out, the sheriff is a really good guy and he gets Gabe on at Eliza's farm.

To say too much more would be to give the plot away.

9 stars
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It takes it's own sweet time........
5 February 2007
This film, set in the late 30s, dealing with Europeans in Shanghai just prior to World War II and the Japanese invasion of China, takes it's own sweet time getting anywhere, not that it really ever got much of any place.

There really isn't that much of a plot--there are a great many scenes that are very much like scenes already shown.

The main problem I had with this film was that the romantic side of it is too little and too late.

Ralph Fiennes (and his brother) seem to be the only actors in Hollywood who have any interest in playing in a romantic historical drama. I'm thankful that the Fiennes brothers are willing to do this, or we'd never get any historical,romantic dramas at all.

Natasha Richardson plays the widowed Countess Sofia, an exiled Russian aristocrat, who is in Shanghai with her late husband's family and her little girl, Katya.

In order to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, Sofia works as a taxi dancer in a club. Her in-laws look down their noses at her--criticize her and feel her work is shameful--while they sit on their butts doing nothing, other than trying to figure out how they can regain their previous status in society. For reasons that were never clear to me, they seem to think if they can go to Hong Kong (an expensive undertaking)their lives will turn around.

Ralph Fiennes plays a blind man named Todd Jackson--I never did understand exactly what he did for a living, and his blindness never really contributed that much to the story, other than a couple of times.

Anyway, his dream is to own a nightclub where all kinds of different political factions will gather--why he wants this, I don't know--since it seemed to me such a mixture was just asking for trouble. Quite a lot of the movie focuses on this, and quite frankly I had very little interest in that part of the story.

Eventually we have some romantic passion between Mr. Jackson and the Countess, but it is pitifully little--and the film is more than half over before we get this reward.

Therefore, I only gave the movie three stars.
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Gang of Roses (2003)
Black Spaghetti
2 February 2007
I think a great many viewers missed entirely the fact that this is obviously a parody of western films.

This is not a bad movie - it is a clever tongue in cheek take on westerns. I don't believe this film was taking itself seriously for a moment.

What makes this film even more unique is the fact it is centered around 4 strong, beautiful women, two of which are black, one Asian, and a Mexican/Hispanic character.

These aren't your usual western women--they're tough--they can draw fast and shoot straight.

They're so tough even the bartender is shaking when he pours their whiskey.

The plot which moves this story along is typical of westerns--in the vein of "you shot my brother--so I'm gonna get you!" Only in this western, a woman's sister has been shot and she's out for vengeance on the gang who did it.

So she goes and rounds up her old cronies from her bank robbing days.

One of them, Maria, is not really all that interested in avenging Rachel's sister, but she is motived by the fact there's gold and jewelry hidden in the town where they're headed.

There are a couple of scenes that don't quite make sense, not that they interfere that much, they can be ignored, but I wondered why they were there. So the film could use a little tightening, but over all, this is a well made film that has failed to find an audience that recognized what it is.

My only disappointment was that the only lesbian in the film is a villain--of the "heroines", one is obviously straight, the others sexual orientations are never disclosed.

7 Stars
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I Want You (I) (1998)
Four characters in need of a good psychiatrist
14 January 2007
This was an interesting film with some very quirky characters.

Honda (Luka Petrusic) is a tall, thin 14-year-old boy who usually went everywhere at kind of a gallop, and is a mute. He lives in a house on the beach with his sister named Smokey(Labina Mitevska)--he also has a little hideaway in an old boat that has washed up on the beach.

Honda has a rather strange hobby of listening constantly to other people's conversations and other activities, and recording them.

Honda can even record people in a car not too distant from where he is, and he even has mobile equipment.

One day Honda runs into a beautiful young woman named Helen(Rachel Weisz), quite literally. After making her acquaintance, Honda and her become friends.

A young man named Martin,(Alessandro Nivola)out of prison and on parole, with whom Helen was previously involved, is stalking her.

Smokey, a sultry nightclub singer, who has a very unusual hairstyle, upon meeting Martin, becomes very interested in him.

All four of these people have some psychological issues. Helen - has some obvious sexual problems Martin- is a stalker Smokey- is going to bed with every man she encounters. And Honda with his muteness,eavesdropping and obsession with Helen is also in need of Dr. Freud.

We discover as the film progresses, why Honda is mute and what transpired between Martin and Helen in the past.

How this all concludes was quite surprising and unexpected to me.

8 stars
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Amy Foster (1997)
Beautiful, tragic love story
13 January 2007
Set in England, probably in the 1800s, this film deals not only with a beautiful love story, but with being an outsider--and the kind of ugly hatred some people exhibit towards those they consider different from themselves. It also deals with blaming others and not accepting the responsibilities of your own faults.

Yanko Gooral(played by gorgeous Vincent Perez) is a young man from the Ukraine, who, with some other young men from the Ukraine, decides to go to America.

Amy Foster (played by beautiful Rachel Weisz) is a young Englishwoman, who works as a servant, and helps support her hateful parents and younger siblings. Eventually we discover a shocking secret about Amy and her parents, that explains their warped bitterness.

The ship Yanko is on is destroyed in a storm, flinging him up onto the coast of England; when he wanders ashore, he is at first treated like a lunatic by the fearful inhabitants.

Unable to speak English, Yanko is unable to communicate with anyone and Amy is the only person who treats him with any human kindness.

Eventually he is befriended by a Dr. Kennedy, and another family in the area, learns English, and his life seems to be becoming somewhat better. However the ignorant and bigoted, of which there are many, continue to give both him and Amy a hard time. In fact, the actions of the bigots lead indirectly to what finally happens to this young man.

I didn't pick it up until almost the end of the movie, but in my opinion, there's a bit of an undercurrent of homo-eroticism in the doctor's feelings regarding Yanko--which ties in to the doctor's behavior towards Amy, and leads eventually to an unexpected scene between him and Amy at the conclusion of the film.

10 stars
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The Keeper (2004)
A Good Thriller
12 January 2007
When I saw the plot outline for this film, plus the fact Dennis Hopper was in it, I had a feeling it was a film I would enjoy-- and it definitely was.

Dennis Hopper plays a demented cop in this film-- the type of role that he does so well.

The story begins with an exotic dancer named Gina (Asia Argento) and her worthless boyfriend. The two of them run into some heavy trouble at the motel where they're staying, but that is just the beginning of Gina's problems.

Lt. Krebs (Dennis Hopper) has some rather quirky ideas about what's best for Gina, and once she crosses his path, he implements them.

The characters in this film were interesting, the script was well written, and everyone in the cast did a bang up job. The plot had plenty of twists, yet remained clear and easy to follow-- something I can't say about very many films that I see these days. It kept me guessing, and it also got me involved with the characters-- wanting to know more about them and caring what happened to them.

I highly recommend this film for anyone who likes psychological suspense thrillers.

9 Stars
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High Noon off daylight savings time!
11 January 2007
At 11 o'clock Judge Jim Scott has to hand down a sentence on Rudy Hayes, a man being held in the town jail on the charge of murder-- having been found guilty by a jury of his peers.

It looks to be a tough job for Judge Scott, played by Fred MacMurray with his pants tucked almost under his armpits. The job gets made tougher when four members of the Hayes family ride into town and begin threatening everyone in sight.

As if that isn't enough for Judge Scott to contend with, his best girl Myra, whom he has been dating for six years, is involved in an affair behind his back with the young sheriff of the town.

There are fistfights aplenty along with plenty of gunfire and quite a few character revelations as the story proceeds.

I thought it was a better than the average western. Although it does end somewhat abruptly, there are no major loose ends left hanging.

7 stars
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No story, no plot, and nothing happens
2 January 2007
There's no reason to watch this unless you're in love with Dylan McDermott.

Dylan plays a down on his luck writer, who is given a house to sell. It is a large spooky Spanish mansion. Since he is so down on his luck he doesn't even have a car with a roof on it to sleep in, he moves into the mansion.

Apparently a very brutal bloody murder has taken place in this mansion.

Shortly after he moves in, another man shows up wanting to rent a room. This oddball goes by the name of Eddie and says he works at a supermarket.

So here you have two nutty fruit loops in an old spooky mansion. It comes to nothing.

Sharon Stone puts in an appearance as Bruce's beautiful agent-- for all her role contributes to the film she might as well have not been there.

The ending is as anticlimactic as the rest of the movie.

One star.
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King Kong (2005)
The 1,054th re-make of King Kong
30 December 2006
At three hours the film is somewhat overly long. The real star of this film is, of course, the special effects-- and they are wonderful. There is quite a bit of action in the film and it also is very well done.

The cast for the most part also does a fine job. However, I do have to comment on Naomi Watts-the poor dear went through the entire film with her mouth hanging open slightly as if she were catching flies; and since her two front teeth are a little large, it gave her the look of a slightly demented rabbit.

It would be interesting if Hollywood would put a new twist on this old story, unfortunately, in this re-make film, they failed to do that. I would have liked to have seen the subject of King Kong's exploitation addressed-- even though I know it would have been an enlightened viewpoint for those times--since the film apparently takes place in the late 20s or early 30s.

I consider the film really only average, and gave it five stars.
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I gave up on anything happening & just prayed for it to end!
26 December 2006
The biggest star in this vehicle was Harry Hamlin, playing a character named Dan Smith, so that shows you how important that role was.

Robert Forster, looking like a poor man's Alec Baldwin, plays Jack Waters, a middle-aged man who is a contestant on the live (on the air) game show "Road to Riches". He thinks he's going to win $50,000. He doesn't. He's so enraged he begins cursing and has to be physically restrained and led from the set. Strangely enough, despite this fact, and the fact he later destroys property--as well as making threats--he is never barred from the studio. That is just one example of the lack of believability in this film.

The next character to enter the non-plot of this storyline is young Henry Fields played by Kip Pardue. Henry, new in town, is the poster child for naive yokel.

Henry & Jack fall into conversation outside the studio and hook up.

Jack takes Henry to a strip joint, where Henry sees Moira Kennedy(our third character--played by Rose McGowan), on stage, performing what is supposed to be an erotic, exotic Asian dance. What actually happened is, the girl came out and did a little wriggling and weaving that lasted maybe five minutes and was nothing exceptional.

Moira is a friend of Jack's, so she's conveniently handy from then on.

Nothing of much interest happens throughout the rest of the film. There's some kind of offer made by Dan Smith to Jack to screw over Henry for an undisclosed amount of money. Why Dan would make this offer was never clear.

Eventually we have both men up for grabs by the unexceptional Moira. There's balding Jack, a loser old enough to be her grandfather, and Henry, another loser, dumber than dirt. Gosh! Golly! Gee-willikers Folks!--which one will she chose!? I know I didn't care.

1 star
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An American Girl Holiday (2004 TV Movie)
Sweet, Lovely Film
3 December 2006
10 stars

I greatly enjoyed this sweet, gentle film set in 1904, about two young girls who become friends, and the troubles that befall them and how they deal with those problems.

The young actresses playing these roles did very well and made the characters seem real, and made me care about them. All the little girls were adorable.

Samantha is well off financially and lives with her grandmother (played by Mia Farrow - a treat to see her), but Samantha is an orphan and has lost both her parents in a boating accident.

Grandmother's beautiful, old mansion is out in the countryside and Samantha is a little bit lonely, when an Irish lass, Nellie, her father, and Nellie's two younger sisters arrive, to work at the neighbor's home next door.

Nellie's mother is deceased, and her family is poor, so they all have to work, despite being only children. (The film also deals with child labor.) Nellie and Samantha become fast friends, and Samantha is quite resourceful in helping her friends.

I really liked this movie and highly recommend it. Young girls will love it, and it has enough story interest that an adult will not be bored watching it either.
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WTF Kind of mess WAS this!?!
3 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers

The author couldn't decide what she wanted to tell her audience.

All the main characters in this film are, quite frankly, insane.

Mona, whose real name is Lisa, lives with her brother, Phil, above a pub called The Swan.

Much to Mona's disappointment, Phil has recently become a religious nut,and turned The Swan into a place for prayer meetings. What they're living on since The Swan is no longer a pub, I never figured out, but with this delusional mess, it doesn't much matter.

Mona, meanwhile has been messing around with a married man, who is a real jerk. Not only is he cheating on his wife, but he has sex with Mona and THEN tells her their affair is over.

Mona next meets the young, attractive Tamsin, a girl who has been temporarily suspended from boarding school, so is home for the summer, and living nearby.

The two develop a friendship and then a romance. Tamsin, however, is ever bit as unstable as Mona, and the two indulge in breaking out a car window, harassing Mona's ex-boyfriend's wife, conducting a semi-séance session, and eventually Tamsin even leads Phil into nearly succumbing to her seductiveness.

Phil, meanwhile, is running around like a nut-case, building a huge wooden cross and trying to force his newfound religious beliefs down his sister's unwilling throat, what time he isn't kicking her, shoving her lover Tamsin, or locking Mona up in her room. Yeah, this guy is really filled to the brim with the "gentle love" of Jesus!

Finally, when Mona tries to hang herself, Phil loses his religion, and Mona packs her suitcase and trots over to Tamsin's house. There she finds Tamsin packing her own suitcase and calmly announcing she's returning to school.

Disheartened Mona then encounters Tamsin's sister, Sadie, whom she and us, had been led to believe died due to anorexia. So what the heck was THAT ABOUT? And where was Sadie all that time? No explanation is really given.

After a near murder attempt, the film concludes with no real ending.

I gave this convoluted, nearly plot less film, with its nutty characters a 4 and that was being darn generous.
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Makes you wonder how America ever got established.
27 November 2006
The thing that struck me the most in this film about the Puritans was the fact that they were dumber than yesterday's dirt. They planned to go to America for months and months and yet their plans went no further than the end of their nose.

They knew they were coming to a wilderness, yet beyond laying in supplies for the journey on the ship and apparently bringing some axes and saws they had no plan for what they would do when they got there.

The captain of the Mayflower had a devil of a time even getting them off the ship once they reached America. Considering the conditions of the stinking hold in which they traveled one would have thought that they wouldn't even wait for the gang plank to be put down.

Very talky and draggy, the only truly interesting parts of this film were when they brought in the Native Americans.

William Bradford is more prominently featured than the other Puritans, unfortunately he was played by an actor so homely, he shouldn't appear on camera without a grocery bag over his head.

6 stars out of 10 and that's being generous.
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Separate Lies (2005)
Well written, well done film, but with characters so annoying I just
16 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
wanted to strangle all three of them before the film finished.

James Manning (Tom Wilkinson) is a nice, older man, an attorney of some sort, perhaps dealing with corporate law - he seemed to have a lot of meetings about various projects.

His wife, Anne Manning (Emily Watson)seems to be somewhat younger than him, although she, too, is middle-aged.

They are a childless couple, living in a huge manor house in the English countryside.

Life seems perfect for them. James thinks they are happy, but his world is about to fall shatteringly apart as one betrayal after another is revealed by his wife.

Anne Manning is a selfish piece of work and why James kept putting up with her and her lover,(the trashy, worthless Bill Bule--played by Rupert Everett), time and time again I don't know. James Manning must have been born a saint, or perhaps he wasn't human, he was an angel descended from heaven! Eventually he practically apologizes to Anne for not understanding sooner and stepping completely aside so she could enjoy her sordid affair guilt-free.

I don't advocate violence, but in this instance I think I would have greatly enjoyed it if James had at least given Anne a good solid kick in the backside.

However, I have to acknowledge the acting, dialog, directing and storyline are all extremely well done and, surprising for today's films--it even has a clearly defined plot. The ending is somewhat non-conclusive, but considering how things had been going, one can almost guess what dumb, good-hearted, ol' James will do, yet again!

6 stars out of 10
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Shopgirl (2005)
Sad, Tender, Romantic Story
26 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
9 stars out of 10

I liked this movie a lot. It really took me back to when I was young and single and lonely and desperate, like many women (and men) are, and just how awkward and difficult those first meetings and dates can be.

The story (based on a novella by Steve Martin), centers around Mirabelle Buttersfield, a shopgirl, who works in the glove department of Saks Fifth Avenue in L.A..

Mirabelle is played by Claire Danes, who reminded me a great deal of Julia Roberts, just as this film reminded me somewhat of "Pretty Woman."

Claire Danes, unfortunately, like 99% of today's actresses, is seriously underweight and would look better if she gained about 30 lbs. However, aside from that issue, she is an attractive young woman.

Mirabelle doesn't have a lot of customers at the glove counter, so there's plenty of time to watch couples who happen to be shopping. It's plain Mirabelle longs to be part of a happy couple, herself.

The first man she meets is a scruffy, oddball, dorky kind of guy named Jeremy Kraft (Jason Schwartzman)at the local laundromat. Frankly, I considered him an unwashed loser. I think Mirabelle did too, but she goes out with him.

Then one day, like a scene from a movie, an older, sophisticated, distinguished and handsome gentleman stops by her glove counter. He purchases the pair of long, black evening gloves that Mirabelle recommends, and to her surprise, the gloves are delivered to her at her apartment.

His name is Ray Porter (Steve Martin)and he would like to go out with her.

Ray is an entirely different ballgame from nerdy Jeremy. Ray takes her to the very best places. He's a smooth conversationalist, and as it turns out, he's quite wealthy.

Mirabelle and Ray start a romance, which Ray makes clear from the beginning will not be exclusive or necessarily permanent.

Mirabelle falls in love with him anyway. Is Ray likewise in love with her--that's the question Mirabelle wants answered, and that the film ultimately supplies.

I wasn't really satisfied with the ending of this film, although it certainly brought home memories of people loved and lost due to various expectations and personal stupidity that we often commit in relationships.
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One of the largest plot holes I've ever seen in a film!
19 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This oddball black'n'white movie from 1955, early on inserts a plot-hole so large it haunted me throughout the entire film.

Dirk Borgarde plays a charming but evil young man with the unbelievable name of Teddy Bare. Yes, that's right - this character's name is Edward Bare, and he is called Teddy throughout most of the film.

When we first meet him, he is newly wed to a woman who is supposed to be old enough to be his mother - but actually she looked old enough to be his grandmother.

Of course he has married this older woman, named Mony, for one reason and one reason only - her money. Mony, money - hmmm - another odd character name. So, we in the audience are expecting him to off her at any time.

Shortly after her marriage to Teddy, Mony made out a will leaving her new husband the large mansion they live in, along with a beach shack, but with all the money going to her sister, Dora. Teddy knows nothing about this will.

Now Mony has had second thoughts and decided she wants to make a new will, leaving everything to her dear Teddy Bare. This she discussed with her lawyer, Philip Mortimer, I think was the character's name. He advises against it, but she has the bit in her teeth and she has decided she will sign the new will into effect first thing tomorrow morning.

She then tells Teddy about her plan to leave everything to him, saying she hasn't even seen her sister Dora in 20 years. He tells her that isn't necessary, whoever the surviving spouse is will get it anyway and that he doesn't want her to do this. I assumed it was to throw her off the scent of the fact he's after her money--because there was certainly no other good reason for him to tell her this. She, however, has decided she will definitely sign the will tomorrow morning.

Now what happens next is what threw a monkey wrench into the entire thing--creating the Grand Canyon of plot holes.

Teddy then arranges for Mony's death that very night, and is successful. Now this stopped me right in my tracks - it made no logical sense of any kind.

She was signing a new will the next morning that would guarantee that he would get everything. Having a will makes things much simpler and easier than when an estate has to go through probate which can take up to a year or longer. This was in Britain, so perhaps their laws are somewhat different, but it still made no sense for him to off her just before she was to sign this wonderful document that was completely in his favor and that cut out the sister entirely.

Well, the story moves on. Teddy discovers he is bound by the first will, which he knew nothing about. He goes hunting for a new wealthy wife and comes up with one - a very disagreeable, but outspoken, older widow, Freda, whose husband passed away six months previous. They wed.

Then a woman named Charlotte Young, pretty, sweet, wealthy and older than Teddy, enters Teddy and Freda's lives.

Eventually there's a confrontational scene between Teddy and Charlotte. This scene is very strange - with Teddy making all sorts of wild-eyed confessions, followed by the two of them literally screaming at each other.

The scene is much too long and drawn out and rather unrealistic as well.

The ending one can see coming a mile away.

5 stars out of 10.
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Brilliant, well done thriller film
17 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
9 stars out of 10

The reason I did not give it 10 stars is because this film has some of THE ugliest actors I've seen in awhile.

I'm sorry, but while Viggo Mortensen may be a good actor - he's not very easy on the eyeballs. Aston Holmes who plays his son, Jack, is another one that really needed a grocery bag over his head.

Aside from that, the story was very well done.

Tom Stall is just an easy-going guy running a restaurant in a mid-sized town. He's got a pretty wife, a son, and a cute little daughter and the family is happy. Tom's got the American dream going for him.

Then one day two punks show up and decide to rob the restaurant. Faster than you can say Jack Robinson, Tom has leaped over the counter and saved the day! Not only is Tom a local hero, but the media latches onto the story and it spreads far and wide.

This incident is about to change Tom and his family's life forever. Especially when Carl Fogarty (played brilliantly by Ed Harris), and his goons, show up. It's obvious these bad boys are Mafia.

What do they want with Tom Stalls? Well, it seems Fogarty is convinced Stalls is really Joey Cusack, a man who almost put his eye out years ago and was a member of the Mafia.

The twists and turns this takes, due to Fogarty showing up, leads to some hard action in the film.

If you find violence isn't your cuppa tea then you might want to re-consider watching this film (although the violence is no worse than most in today's films), but there are some bloody battles.

The ending was rather strange, I thought, the people just sitting there, no one saying a word. In fact, no one ever does say anything in the closing scene.
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Lightweight Musical of the life of Bobby Darin
10 October 2006
Kevin Spacey does such a great job,(he should have won an Oscar), there were times when I questioned whether I was seeing Spacey or Darin, although Spacey was a bit long in the tooth for the role by the time he got the chance to play it.

The film is told in kind of an odd way, with the adult Darin interacting with his younger self, or maybe he's interacting with the actor who is to portray his younger self - not that it really matters which way it was.

There was dancing a plenty and LOTS of Darin songs, and I'm not sure, but I think Kevin Spacey did his own singing in Darin's style - if so -he did a very good job of that, as well.

About the only reason to watch this film is either (a)to see Spacey's outstanding performance or (b)you're a big fan of Bobby Darin's and liked his music, as there really isn't much else there.

The film does inform us of Bobby Darin's heart condition, the truth about his parentage, and we get a glimpse of his marriage to Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth). That's pretty much it.

6 stars out of 10
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