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5/10
surprisingly disappointing.
22 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I was really disappointed in this movie and I read some of the reviews and it appears I am not the only one. While I would not rate this a 1 or a 2, or even say it was bad or horrible, it WAS a major disappointment as well as one of the more baffling movies I have seen in awhile. At times it almost seems rather funnily disappointing, as if it was done deliberately. While that's obviously not the case,(who sets out to make a disappointing film ON PURPOSE?), I was left at the end not just disappointed but completely weirded out.

Where to begin? Well.....first is the lack of storyline development. There were many aspects of the movie that were interesting but it seems like they were developed in a way as to make them as uninteresting as possible. I was actually very interested in the marriage of Marie Antoinette and thought that the performers' did a good job. But just when the story was at it's most interesting..after all the time spent(a lot) on this plot line..it is just done. And in a "blink and you might miss it" kind of way. It is beyond disappointing, it is really really annoying.

Add to that, the lack of dialog. And what little dialog there is,can be quite mundane at times..and much of it is kind of muted. Asia Argento's character provides some brightness and drama until..HELLO!..She is written out of the movie very abruptly. In fact a lot that happen in this movie is abrupt. That is the perfect word to describe this movie. Whether it is writing various characters' out of the script, resolving long plot lines in the blink of an eye, or ending on an unusually rosy, Abrupt(yes-there's that word again) light, it seems Marie Antoinette is all things abrupt.

Except of coarse, for the food. I must not forget to mention that as the long, drawn out(extremely drawn out) scenes of brightly colored food, delicious treats and people chewing, did seem in fact to be a major focus of the movie and if some of the important story lines and characters, were shown in half as much detail as the glowingly beautiful arrays of goodies this probably would have been a halfway decent movie. Alas that was not to be.

Now for the good. I loved the photography. the brightly colored hues did not just pertain to the food but to the whole picture. If there had been some depth and substance to the film it really could have been great. The visual style was wonderful but very little other stuff was.I did however appreciate the use of music and though many don't like current music being used in a period piece, I sometimes do and just thought the song selections fit here.

I do disagree however with people who did not think Dunst did a good job. I think she did. She is not one of my favorite actresses either. But she brought a sweetness and lovable mischievousness to the role and by the abrupt end, was able to have introduced an element of sober solemnity. I would rate her performance as one of the highlights of this movie.

My vote ultimately is a 5 of 10. It isn't horrible but is sure a long way from being good and is a major disappointment.
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Fracture (2007)
7/10
a good though not great movie elevated because of Hopkins and Gosling.
22 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I really enjoyed Fracture though I did not think it was a 10. Since psychological thrillers are one of my favorite types of films, I have seen a lot of them. This would not fall among the best though not many really good ones have come out lately so it definitely makes an impact.

Without getting into the details of the plot to much, here is what I liked about it. The film pits Gosling against Hopkins and their both among the most talented performers around. They share a screen really well together and I throughly enjoyed watching the cat and mouse game they indulged in. The movie also had a few surprises....just when you think you know exactly what is going to happen next, it sort of goes off in another direction. And Fracture is one of those films that keeps you glued to your seat. And I have to Say I have been sort of disappointed with 2007 in terms of new movies so it was great to see this type of film.

But there was some things I did not like as well. First off, the movie does not tell you anything about Hopkin's character. One knows even less about His wife. One knows even less about their marriage. What kept her with him? Was he abusive? Had she loved him once and just fallen out of love? I have to say the film provides woefully little detail about major aspects of the movie.

Then there is the fact that the audience knows from the beginning who the shooter is. I could not help thinking how much more genuinely suspenseful it would have been if we did not know for sure who did it. And the cat and mouse game as interesting as it is becomes a little repetitious. There is a feeling that the movie will end with Hopkins being found out because as the movie progresses his behavior gets more audacious and it is a rare movie that would end with him NOT having a final showdown with Gosling. So watching the movie, as interesting a movie as it is, also tries one's Patience at times because it becomes a series of near misses of Golsing trying to Bring Hopkins to justice. Even though some of the twists and turns do not go in the expected direction, as I mentioned earlier, there is something sort of predictable about the movie as a whole and something oddly repetitious about it.

Then there's the romance between Gosling and the female lawyer. It didn't really serve a purpose and was kind of a distraction. This was such a good movie in a lot of ways. But I did feel some things were lacking and my overall vote would be a 7.5 out of 10.
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Factory Girl (2006)
7/10
There were times I loved it, times I hated it, most moments fell somewhere in between.
19 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I had heard such awful things about Factory Girl I went in not knowing what to expect. I had hoped it would be a masterpiece. I got something that fell short of both "dreadful" or "excellent".

First the good. Some great acting. Guy Pierce was the standout as Warhol and Sienna Miller, who I have only seen in one movie "Casanova" was excellent. It wasn't just her acting. She has an amazing screen presence, a charisma that makes it difficult to look away while she's on screen. I will admit I would not have expected that mainly because I knew little about Miller except as Jude Law's ex. Not making assumptions would have been good in this case because she was purely outstanding and even academy award worthy. I guess I shouldn't always judge an actress by her gossip.

Also great was the atmosphere of the time period. And, though the movie starts out almost clinical, as it goes on, one's emotions do get involved mainly do to the depth of feeling in Miller's performance as Factory Girl starts getting more involving. By the end you feel very involved and very sad.

Now the bad. I mentioned the movie starts as "clinical". I am not sure I even know what I mean by that except maybe that it feels so IMPERSONAL. The film skips from one thing to another and many of the scenes are so short that nothing whatsoever feels developed. The characters don't feel developed. Edie sure doesn't despite Miller's great performance. It seems she meets Warhol almost immediately and we don't even know much about who who she is yet. Plus the meeting between them isn't developed. And forget the meeting between Miller and Christainson. Plus I really didn't buy Heydon in this role. He came off as trying to hard. But the characters just aren't developed. neither is the movie as a whole. It seems at times you don't know anything ABOUT anyone. Plus the whole movie just seems so MOVIEISH. The quick scene after scene change definitely contributes to that as you always know your watching a movie. You feel at times like this movie is a quick moving impersonal docudrama.

Even the Factory isn't developed as much as it could have been nor are any of the people there. I will freely admit I absolutely HATED this movie when it first started and as it went on I began to doubt I would make it through the whole thing. I really disliked it.

But it does change a bit and become somewhat more interesting. And the fact is, although it takes an awful long while, one is eventually pulled into the movie. I must comment on the intensity of two of the scenes toward the end, both between Warhol and Edie. These scenes are heartbreaking and really show how great performances can save a film and how good the whole movie could have been if all of it had the same depth and soul as a few standout scenes.

So this is definitely a movie I would say was love/hate for me but mostly somewhere in the middle. I would rate it a low 7 and say it is definitely worth checking out as long as one does not expect something perfect.
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Bandidas (2006)
5/10
not awful but not great either.
19 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

With Bandidas, I had a difficult time keeping my attention focused. It's not that this is awful or even bad. But somehow I thought it would be better then it was. I did not know a lot about the plot before seeing it. Mainly I knew it was a period piece and Penelope Cruz and Selma Hayek starred as two women who became outlaws. I thought it sounded interesting, particularly since "Thelma and Louese" is my favorite movie in the world and it sounded like this movie had a similar premise. So I tuned in and was pretty disappointed overall.

I had wondered whether Bandidas would be played as a drama or would go into more of the comedic. Unfortunately it does both. And I say unfortunately because I didn't think the film worked very well combining drama with comedy. The drama was very intense and then suddenly it would go into not just comedy, but camp. Hayek and Cruz did not played off each other well at all. To the contrary, some of their scenes seemed very forced and I found myself losing interest. There was also a lot of fighting between them, kind of mock fighting, which seemed kind of silly and actually made it difficult for me to take the movie very seriously at all.

I think it should have stayed a drama or been more of an adventure/comedy. There wasn't much adventure that I could see although the scenery was absolutely magnificent. But the movie was just not very enjoyable. It was almost impossible for me to buy into the premise. This seemed more like just a vehicle for Cruz and Hayek and they seemed more like actresses dressed up in period costumes then outlaws of any sort. And though I like both, their characters were not developed all that well. I really could have done without all the arguing between them as it became rather tedious.

It was also slow moving and there was little tension. I generally don't like movies that combine camp with serious drama so that may have been part of the problem but I also think this just wasn't all that great. I'd rate it around average.
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8/10
takes me back a bit to "Wedding Singer".
19 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I enjoyed Music and Lyrics which was a surprise because it looked absolutely awful in the previews. But I found it much better then average. This is a movie that actually wound up being better.. far better..then it looked which is a surprise because it is usually the other way around.

Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant have a great deal of chemistry and make their budding relationship feel realistic and sweet. Their one major love scene is pretty short and not at all graphic but manages to be more sizzling then a lot of love scenes that do have the other above mentioned elements.

Drew Barrymore seems to star in a lot of movies that recall the 80's and that is just fine with me since that was a time period loved. There are several aspects of this movie that remind me of "The Wedding Singer" which is one of my all time favorite romantic comedies so that definitely works in this movie's favor. It also gives a look into the music business and I found a lot of this movie surprisingly poignant.

Basically this is a movie I was sure I would hate that I found to kind of adore. It is sweet, flows very well and feels natural, and has an enormous amount of depth and a surprising amount of humor(there are many things played for laughs that are indeed actually funny). In addition the music featured is great, very 80's and it's a lot of fun to see Hugh Grant seeing. The music is very reminiscent of "ABC", "Wham" and many other bands from that time period and the relationship between Grant and Barrymore's characters is one that the audience gets invested in. The supporting cast is excellent as well.

I would give this an 8.5 out of 10. I wish the previews had been a little stronger. I'd have probably seen it in the theaters. This is definitely a must see for romantic comedy lovers and fans of the eighties.
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Accepted (2006)
6/10
not realistic in the slightest but a perfect "guilty pleasure" movie and actually quite funny in some areas.
21 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

This is the sort of movie you couldn't call outstanding or a perfect comedy but it's fine to watch if your just going for something light with some laughs and a great message at it's center. It's about a kid who doesn't get into any of the colleges he applies to so he starts his own make believe college. Originally this idea is known only to him and a few friends. but with a fictitious website and an actually physical location for the college,things start to spin out of control and soon hundreds of kids who didn't get in anywhere else are showing up at this fictional college ready to start class.. and what interesting classes they are too!

This premise is really REALLY good, very creative and the movie's message is absolutely great. And the movie itself actually isn't bad. In terms of humor, I thought the beginning and end were quite funny and fun. Unfortunately the middle has some problems as it drags quite a lot and isn't as funny as other areas of the movie. There's a lot of attention on the daily life at the college only some scenes go on a really long time which I think could have been shortened a bit and there is no realism to some aspects of the movie at all. Yet, in a way, it doesn't really matter. The movie has fun with itself and it's a nice hour and one half of laughs and fun. There are worse ways to spend some time.

I liked the ending. Predictable as anything but it works so well. For me movies I think are good I rate a 7 and REALLY good or excellent an 8 or above. The rating of 6 is for guilty pleasure type movies-just like this one. I think this actually could have been a classic comedy because of the great premise and the message to it. Good teen comedies that do comedy well and have a message..and a good one at that..are not plentiful. But I just thought the movie as a whole could have been funnier and there could have been some attempt to explain some of the plot holes and develop some of the characters a bit more. Also I will say I don't think the title was a great choice..it isn't all that attention getting and I was having problems remembering it myself. But I liked the premise, enjoyed the movie and laughed many a time. Not perfect but pretty funny and it's strongest point is the great message that has plenty of basis in reality and I must say I would have appreciated a movie like this when I was in High School. And darn that school looked fun! I'd actually give this a 6.5 of 10. It's both funny and sweet and sure has a great premise. Better then what one might expect.
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Aquamarine (2006)
7/10
a really fun movie.
15 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I am a big movie buff and I watch all kinds. That definitely includes movies that maybe classified as "teen movies" or "movies for kids". I am well past my kid years but I think there are many movies' whose target demographic maybe "kids" that can still be enjoyed..and enjoyed greatly..by other age groups. Aquamarine is such a movie.

This isn't a movie that's going to win any Oscars. It has a sweet simple plot(two young girls find a mermaid who can't stay on land unless she finds love). No heavy complex movie here. And it's delightful. I not only throughly enjoyed Aquamarine I'd watch it again. (And will.) There is another mermaid movie "Splash" that I have seen many a time and which remains one of my favorite, if not my favorite, romantic comedy. Aquamarine is not in that league but it is a delightfully fun, summery, purely enjoyable type of flick that's perfect for a day when one wants a movie to watch but doesn't want anything to heavy. There is nothing here except fun, winsomeness and a refreshing sweetness that one does not get much in movies these days. I would definitely recommend it.

Sara Paxton plays the mermaid, Aquamarine and she does a great job. Everyone else is good as well. There's not a lot to say about this, it's pretty much what you see is what you get. Aquamarine starts a bit slowly(and there are some cheesy moments to be sure) and also some moments where one might question why they are watching this because of the cheese factor, but the movie's so lovable and has so much charm that you just get into it. It's a breezy bit of summery fun that develops it's characters well, actually has some unpredictable moments, has a sweet message, and even some really great lines(I love the line about love as magic.) For adults who still like the occasional or more then occasional kid movie this is a wonderful choice. For kids this is a wonderful choice. It's also a great family film and even fun date movie as well as a great one to watch with friends since friendship is such a strong theme of the movie.

And of coarse the mystical element is there. Mermaids and the sea. That quality is there and it did take me back to Splash a bit. Sure this movie isn't going to win any Oscars but it doesn't need to. It does what a movie like this should do and that's good enough for me. I've already recommended it to several people.

One of my favorite elements of the movie are the Star Fish(those beautiful Star Fish.) The magical Star Fish are absolutely adorable and add greatly to the story.

So go ahead and watch this-it's a pure delight. My vote is 7.5 out of 10-I wouldn't even mind a sequel!!
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6/10
I liked the premise, just wish it had played a little differently.
15 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I sure didn't expect so many negative comments on this movie. Although I didn't love it myself, I wouldn't call it the worst movie ever made. I'd actually give it about a 6 which basically means I neither loved it nor hated it. I really liked the premise and I sure felt the poignancy but did not really love how the movie played out in general.

In case someone is reading this who has no idea what it is about and does not mind major spoilers, I will say only that it concerns three individuals in the sex industry, Valentino, Mary Carmen and Gary. Valentino is bi sexual and having a relationship with both characters and they become a sort of little family, particularly when one of the characters becomes very ill(with something that appears to be Aids though the word is never really used). Anyway..this is their story-theirs and a few supporting characters along the way and a dog....Anyway....

First the good. The performances ranged from good to outstanding with Salma Hayak being the scene stealer. Although the main characters are in the sex industry this movie's major focus is not sex, although some of that is certainly present. It is more about how the characters' relate to each other and the interaction between Mary Carmen and Gary is pretty interesting and for people who like to analyze human behavior in movies, there will be a lot to analyze here.

And then there's the poignancy itself. I was very moved by the story. It was very sad and the performers do a very good job in portraying the range of emotions their characters are feeling. I really felt a lot was well done and really don't think this film deserves a below average rating.

Now the negatives. I felt the way the movie played was just to arty in tone. It didn't need to be because the story was there. It took away from the story though. There was a lot from the imagery to the individual scenes themselves that just reeked of an arty experimental quality that was distracting and took away from the movie.

I also felt that there was just to much squabbling between Gary and Mary Carmen and frankly, the movie just wasn't very enjoyable to watch as a whole. The whole subplot with the dog disappearing(and his journey and re appearance) I didn't feel added much. I felt the strength of the film was the human element to the characters, the clear feelings of both love and anger that were so apparent-not much difference from many real life relationships..and the ability of the movie to immerse one in it's plot, even if it isn't much fun to watch overall. But I think I would have liked it more, if it had toned down some of the arty aspects and some of the previous stuff mentioned.

I would neither recommend this movie or not recommend it. I liked the premise and appreciated the movie even if it isn't one of my favorites. My rating's a perfect 6.
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Exotica (1994)
8/10
Almost to deep if there is such a thing-great movie.
15 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

It was almost inevitable I'd get around to watching Exotica. I have heard nothing but outstanding things about the film for some time now and it's been on my radar as a film to check out. Although I had heard great things about it I did not know much about the plot. My thoughts after seeing it are many.

First of all, the movie is fantastic. Yet I didn't think so at first. I will freely admit that it starts slowly and a certain amount of patience is required when viewing it. If it had been almost any other film I might have given up myself and turned it off but I had heard so many great things from critics, friends, IMDb reviewers and such, I felt almost required to sit through it. So I did. The plot unfolded in a way that is certainly unconventional and the story, which was mildly interesting becomes gripping.

Even though I listed "spoilers" I don't want to say to much about the plot. I will comment that it was almost impossible for me to understand the whole film to the end and even now there are some things I am unclear on. Some might call the end a "twist" but it is more like an unraveling.I am sure many people have seen a movie they found so intelligent but also so complex, that even at the end, there were things that they were unclear on. That is how I feel about Exotica. This film certainly deserved the incredible reviews it received.

I found the characters to be believable, the acting to be exceptional and as Oscar Worthy as anything I've seen lately, and the writing to be basically remarkable. There is such a human sadness to the story that it is not easy to shake it off after the film is over. This is a must see for indie purists, film buffs in general and for people who like movies about life, emotion, and the human soul. It is an unconventional movie with a biting sadness through the whole film that is palpable.

Negatives? Not to many. If this movie is viewed by someone who hates slow moving films or hates movies that don't explain everything right away this might not be for them. I will freely admit I am a fan of the above mentioned type of films (SOMETIMES) and I like many indie films but even I had problems with Exotica and were it not for the outstanding things I have heard about it I may have written it off. (IMDB reviews had a little hand in that). In addition I don't think one should be in a strongly sad state of mind when they view this. This film isn't just dark, it's VERY VERY VERY VERY DARK and puts some other pictures I think of as dark, to shame. So one should make sure they are in the right mood when watching this as gloom permeates throughout and it can be a little tough to take.

I would firmly recommend this film. Many have described this film as "brilliant" which I thought was a little excessive but even as I thought that, I couldn't quite convince myself. My ultimate rating is 8 out of 10. One of the best I've seen lately with some of the best acting I've seen in years.
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5/10
Really really disappointing.
15 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I gave Ocean's 11 a 9 out of 10. To say I loved that film is an understatement. I skipped Ocean's 12 but felt compelled to see this mainly because Al Pachino was in it. Maybe I shouldn't have because as far as I am concerned he was the only good thing about it.

All the wit, all the cleverness, all the charm and the great one liners, the excitement, the wonderful, energetic atmosphere....all that is gone. It's like everything that was good about 11 was cut and in it's place the direct opposite was done. Very disappointing. Except of coarse for the exceptional Mr. Pacino who of coarse, is wonderful but I do think he's kind of in the wrong movie. What I didn't like is listed below.

I liked Ocean's 11 because it was a "caper film"..and an incredibly clever one. What was clever about this? Not much. (And not much "caper" either.) Instead we get a series of jokes and pranks, some of them more annoying then funny, a series of short quick scenes(seriously-did any of the scenes last more then a minute?) I was getting a little dizzy with all the quick takes. And the movie drags too. I kept waiting for something to happen(or at least something with more interest then what was happening.) I think the original premise was good but at least make the "revenge" story a bit clever or different or INTERESTING. This was ordinary and even a bit below ordinary. In Ocean's 11 we get something incredibly complicated but exciting,with incredible energy. Here we get jokes and tricks and stunts about smells and rashes and a lot of the central plot didn't even make sense. (There is a difference between plot holes in the movie and the movie itself being one long plot hole.)I could go on but why bother? Suffice to say this was not what I expected.

And the absence of Roberts is disappointing as well as the fact that Clooney and Pitt do not even appear to be acting half the time rather then basically playing themselves or just being cute. The whole movie was a letdown.

The positives? Al Pachino, Al Pachino, Al Pachino! It was great seeing him in the flick and whatever else I say about it, seeing Al in it was maybe worth seeing the movie. In fact even though I basically disliked Ocean's 13 intensely it is not unwatchable and maybe major Pachino fans should check it out. But it is nowhere near the level of 11 and I'd rate this a 4 (am giving it an extra point for the Pachino factor.)My vote is 5 of 10.
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Tape (2001)
8/10
Fascinating.
3 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

Wow, what a film. I'd heard of this before I saw it and really enjoyed the whole movie. I will be recommending this to everyone I know.

I am assuming most people reading this review already know about the movie, especially since I did list this as having spoilers,(and it will continue to have spoilers) but for those who don't know much about it and are still reading.....it's about two male friends and a woman. Way back in the mens' pasts an event occurred between one of the men and the woman. The other man wants to find out the truth of what happened and force a confrontation between the woman and his friend and himself. There is so much more to it but that's a kind of basic sketch...being as general as I can be.

This is an indie movie purist's dream come true. The movie really grabbed me and there wasn't one boring moment throughout. That's significant because of the type of movie it is. It has only three characters and it all takes place in a hotel room. Now many movies in general, even good movies, heck even GREAT films, can drag at times or have a few dull moments. And so, being that many movies can drag or have their dull moments, one might figure this little indie film, taking place in a room and consisting of..essentially words and conversation would have many.

It has none. Not a one. There isn't a dull, draggy, or unimportant moment in the whole movie. It's absolutely riveting and I was taken with the whole thing. In terms of action there is little. Nobody ever leaves the hotel room. There are three characters. It's talky to the point where it could have been agonizing to watch but somehow the whole thing works. I'd strongly recommend it.

And the scene stealer is...Uma Thurman. What a performance from her. She is fast becoming my favorite actress and even though she doesn't make an appearance to well into the flick she's great. So were the two males. (By the way is it me or does Ethan hawk's performance remind one of a few Sean Penn movies?) But Uma dominates the screen here.

I'd give this a high 8. 5 of 10. Watch it as it's a gem. Strongly recommended.
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7/10
not as good as the original but still worth seeing.
3 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

As a remake, this wasn't bad at all. It isn't as god as the original, in my opinion but is still a lot of fun to watch. The essential story is the same though a few minor details are changed.

I liked Lohan's work in this but found the casting of Natasha Richardson to be the best thing about it. This is the kind of story that never feels dated. It's completely family friendly and kind of a classic, so, even though I don't always like remakes, I think this was a great movie to remake.

I'd say this version is a little wackier then the original(though I saw the first one so long ago it's tough to remember) but by and large there are not all that many differences and if one is seeing the story for the first time, without having seen the original they will still probably get a lot of enjoyment from this version.

The fact that the story wasn't to changed, as well as the wonderful casting made this a lot of fun to watch. I;d give this a strong 7.5 and recommend it..the original AND the remake.
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The Jackal (1997)
5/10
It's tension producing all right but not much fun to watch.
3 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

This is the type of movie that has a lot of the type of elements that I don't like in a movie. Long drawn out chases, lots of tension producing moments that go on(and on and on), and the kicker, the one who gets killed who isn't really dead. It's all in here and that's why this movie isn't exactly my thing.

I will say the cast does a good job. Willis is so evil, it's pretty chilling. But the movie seems to go on forever and the violence and endless chase scenes does nothing for me and neither does the plot in general. There is a mix of many other movies in this one.

The action sequences are pretty well done so if one likes action sequences they may appreciate those. But I didn't find much here that was really enjoyable. Although some might think that the movie's ability to be tension producing is a good thing, I felt it was almost to much so if that makes sense. The Jackal isn't unique with having that quality to it but it isn't the kind of movie where I'd think "wow" at the end. rather at the end I was just glad it was over. I've seen a lot of movies and wouldn't call this one of the worst or dreadful or anything like that. But I have no desire to see it again. I'd rate it around a 5.
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The Holiday (2006)
8/10
definitely NOT your typical romantic comedy.
3 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS THROUGH:

One of my best friends saw this and hated it. Our tastes are similar so I went in thinking it wouldn't be my cup of tea. Well this is one where we differed radically because I absolutely adored it.

The Holiday definitely had some problems but by and large I found it to be an enamoring story and quite fun to watch. It was definitely much better then I expected.

The main pluses of the movie are it's characters who you get really invested in as the movie goes along, and the writing. I felt much of the dialog was very intelligent and well written, particularly the scene where Winslet's character has that monologue with Jack Black where she talks about unrequited love. As Hollywood as the movie is....and it's VERY Hollywood..the acting and writing are good enough to elevate it and the film kind of taps into a certain element, a bittersweet aspect that one really would not expect to find in a movie such as this. Very "Bridget Jonesey" but in a good way.

It also reminded me of "Love Actually". Although Love Actually is clearly a better movie there were some similarities. The characters are developed very well and a lot of the dialog, besides being intelligent, is surprisingly down to earth. The Diez and Law romance, even though there are some aspects that are completely unrealistic, is developed so slowly and naturally that it's breath of fresh air. The chemistry between them is also absolutely sizzling and they are the kind of screen couple where you kind of hope they get together off screen as well because there is just something very natural and real about their on screen romance.

Winselt and Balck's relationship is developed too but the romantic aspect feel a bit rushed. In reality, sadly, there's a good chance these characters would not have got together but instead gone back to their toxic relationships. There is a false note about their romance because it happens way to quick and both were simply to in love with other people to make their coming together look completely natural but by that time, I was so happy Winslet was over that jerk she was with, it was OK to rush it a little. And her and Black made a pretty good couple as well.

The main negative to The Holiday is that there is some cheesy scenes and dialog and it's all interspersed with the intelligent parts. Sometimes the audience gets cheese and intelligent writing in the same scene, in a matter of seconds. So it's somewhat difficult, at times, to take the serious things seriously and the non serious things non seriously. And yes it is predictable. (Did we not know Cameron's character would finally be able to cry as she said goodbye to Jude Law?) But really the movie is so much fun, one can try to overlook those aspects.

There is some very good comedy in the movie too. As far as performances, Winslet is the scene stealer-bar none. Jude law is...Jude law. A charismatic and fun Jude Law but still law. Jack Black is...Jack Black. A lovable Jack Black most definitely but still Jack Black. Cameron Diez is...Cameron Diez. A complex, moody and fragile Diez to be sure but still Diez. But Winslet is....something else again. This is not an Oscar Worthy film, as good as it is, but Winslet's performance is luminous. She is pure magic.

I would definitely recommend the movie, except to people who absolutely can't stand romantic comedies. I'd give it an 8 and definitely see it again.
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7/10
rather odd movie that starts slow and grows on you as you watch
2 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

This soft spoken, slow moving, almost arty tale of two families, set in the fifties, is an unusual and very engrossing movie. When I saw this, I started off rather impatient for it to speed up and get where it was going at a brisker pace. While the pace never really takes off as much as I would have liked, the story does gain momentum and the characters become more fully realized as you watch. It just takes some time.

In terms of my thoughts on this film I will say I didn't love it nor did I dislike it. I was a little let down after as I thought I would have liked a bit more then I did. But it really is the epitome of a movie that grows on you and I will say I was very touched by the end of the film. It's a tough movie to give a rating to because I kind of get the feeling I might like it more if I see it a second time. But I will say what my primary likes and dislikes were.

First the dislikes. There was so much that was abstract and so many things that were never explained fully or at all. I had a lot of questions at the end. So did the group of people I saw this with. I wont get into the list of those things as there are a lot and this review would be way to long but suffice to say it was probably more then half a dozen things and these were major plot points. There's a difference between ambiguity and complete vagueness over key plot elements and I felt this movie had more of the latter.

Another oddity that I didn't care for was the Strong resemblance between Doug and Jc. Now Crudup and Phoenix do not look much alike in real life but in this movie it seems nearly impossible to tell them apart. Therefore in the beginning when everything was unfolding I could not tell at times which brother was on screen at any given moment. And my friends felt that too. The resemblance between them was to much.

Also the narration added to the movie's element of confusion.Key characters didn't get enough screen time. One of my friends had already seen this and shocked me by accidentally revealing in the movie that Jennifer Connoly's character was all but gone after her dad ships her out of town. I had assumed she would be back as a key character. I was very disappointed when this was not the case.

Alice gets little to no screen time. Who is she as a person? We are really never told. Pam played by Liv Tyler was supposed to be a sympathetic character but she wound up really annoying me as well as some of my friends. There was so much game playing with her and Joaquin Phoenix the whole movie started to be about them. They sure did have chemistry but that took away from other characters' screen time. And the mother's story was fascinating, she was fascinating and Kathy Baker is my pic for most Oscar caliber performance. We should have seen more of her and her story as well.

And there was no confrontation between JC and ....well....anyone. I thought the movie was building toward that but other then the whole Pam drama we really never see much of that on screen. I thought there would be a confrontation between him and the mother. Also I really REALLY wanted a confrontation between the mother and Mr. Abbott as well as someone to tell off Joan, without a doubt one of the most dislike able characters I've seen in awhile. But there isn't anything like that and maybe that's to be expected because the movie is kind of..for lack of a better word..soft spoken.

Then there is the predictable element. As soon as Kathy Baker's character had that cough I knew something was gonna happen to her and that scene at the end(writing "I love you" on the glass) as sweet and poignant as it was, was so sugar sweet and predictable and didn't really go with the movie. And the movie ends kind of abruptly as well.

Now for the likes...great acting. In fact the acting was just superb...by everyone. Strong on mood and atmosphere. Good running time(long enough but not to long.) Poignant storyline. Poignant(that word again!), believable characters and a certain bittersweet element that made it very believable as well as tremendous chemistry between Liv and Joaqueen, and in spite of the negatives a really interesting storyline.It is the story that hooks one in and despite all I did not like about it, I still became really engrossed as the movie went on.

I think this movie's above average and the cast worked very well together. Everyone was believable in their respective roles. It will never be one of my favorites but it definitely is not your typical movie. 7 of 10.
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The Hoax (2006)
8/10
Not perfect but pretty good all the same.
13 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I didn't know a lot about the story before seeing this. In fact this wasn't really a must see of mine though I was interested. But I found it to be surprisingly good and I say surprisingly because it was really much better then I expected.

Richard Gere, who I've long felt was under-appreciated as an actor, is excellent as Cliford Irving and does his best work since Chicago. The supporting cast is incredibly good to. It's also FUN to watch which is in itself a bit odd as a lot of these types of movies aren't that fun but The Hoax really is. The movie moves at a snappy pace(maybe a bit to snappy) and the whole story is so fascinating that there is an aspect of being glued to your seat even though it moves quickly and doesn't provide a lot of details about certain things along the way.

That part, to me, is the biggest weakness of The Hoax. There's a lot that's skimmed over. It isn't terribly long and there's just to much material in the running time so certain things just are not explained and I could see at the end where many would be confused. (I certainly was.) I'd have liked to know more about Clifford's ultimate motivations as well as more about certain other characters in the film. There's a scene at the end that seems to contradict what the audience saw earlier but then again maybe it's not a contradiction because it is never fully explained. So there is a strong feeling of frustration at the end because the movie is ultimately so powerful and thought provoking but so non self explanatory.

With that being said, I would still recommend this as a very good movie. I doubt it will win any academy awards(though if a few other things were different I could have seen it being a contender) but it is still an absorbing and interesting film. I'd easily give this around an 8.5 of 10 and would definitely see it again.
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Casanova (2005)
5/10
Seems like it tried to hard.
13 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I really struggled with this movie. As talented as Heath Ledger is and as entertaining (at times) this movie was, ultimately I didn't like it very much.

Part of the problem for me, was that some of the aspects that seemed to be there for comedic purposes were not funny at all. There were times when actually instead of being funny, they were more then a bit obnoxious. The movie really didn't seem to take itself seriously enough but it didn't make up for that with the humor because it wasn't very funny. Not that it didn't try to be because it did. To much so. It was like it was trying to hard to be funny. I'd have preferred that aspect have been toned down because I felt it was at it's best when that element was not present. I just wanted to get involved in the story and was constantly distracted by the weak attempts at comedy.

Also I just didn't feel the love story was really all that interesting. I didn't feel especially intrigued or invested in the characters. I will say the acting was really good. I've not seen much of Sienna Miller's work but she was really good and Ledger dominated the screen in a way that seemed almost effortless. I could see where maybe this would be a fun movie to be in. But the movie couldn't keep my attention very much.

I'd have preferred the whole thing was played seriously or that the humor was less in your face. It was difficult for me to buy into the movie at all and I wouldn't really call it a guilty pleasure either since it was not all that enjoyable and dragged at times. I'd ultimately say it's around average and it's major strength is Ledger in the main role. I did enjoy the strong period feel as well. It's probably not something I'd see again though. My vote is around a 5 of 10.
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9/10
superb.
21 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

So what's a guy to do when he finds out he is a character in an author's budding manuscript? That's the dilemma of a certain IRS Agent played by Will Ferrell in this delightful and different little gem. This is one of the best movies I've seen in awhile and is a definite must see. It's superb.

Stanger then fiction reminded me of another favorite of mine, "The Truman Show". This movie though, while being quite serious at times, is not nearly as dark. The storyline works for many reasons. The cast are all great. I've only seen a few of Maggie Gylenhall's movies but it's difficult to think of her being better then she is here. She is absolutely wonderful as the feisty Anna and Emma Thompson is riveting as the author/narrator.

One thing that really makes Stranger Then Fiction so good is that this movie has the ability to combine comedy with some very serious moments and it does both with excellence. The special effects must be mentioned because they are great and very creative. The story itself, while being refreshingly different is also thought provoking and very poignant. The pace of the whole movie is good as well.

The character development is also excellent as these characters are developed slowly and precisely and we, the viewer, get to witness transformations in nearly everyone. One gets really invested in the outcome as well, and out of the quirkiness and imaginative element, combined with the sprinklings of surprisingly effective comedy, and the delicate poignancy of the story, comes a movie that's a pure joy to watch.

Stranger Then Fiction is a movie that deserves to be an instant classic and is so much more then a movie about a guy who finds he's a character in a book. It's about life, love, and letting go. I've racked my brain but can't think of much of anything negative about it at all. I'd strongly recommend it. It's always good to see a movie that both entertains and has such a large amount of emotional depth. 9.5 out of 10.
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Trust the Man (2005)
5/10
seems more could have been done with it overall.
6 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

What a cast this movie had! And the story sounded interesting too with a lot of potential. This is the kind of thing that I would normally like. But I really didn't care for the movie at all. I found it mostly average and was surprisingly disappointed.

The performers were fine. Nobody really jumped out at me but nobody was awful either. But the movie itself just was not all that interesting. The characters were not all that compelling and the overall story didn't have a lot of oomph to it. With a cast like this I thought it would be a lot better then it wound up being.

On paper this movie sounds great. It's got it all. A Great cast, a good story, it's got that New York flavor that I often love in movies. But somehow it didn't add up to as much as it should have. Not much of the movie was funny. In fact I am not sure I laughed more then once or twice. And the situations were very talky but a lot of them didn't go anywhere. I wasn't all that interested in any of the characters except Crudup's Toby and even then I wasn't hooked. It seems like something was missing overall. I think the humor could have been more biting and edgy. Some of it seemed very sitcomish and there was so much emphasis on and joking about sex. I could see this more as a television series then as a movie.

It was also rather slow moving and at times just seemed to be drifting along. I did think the city feel to the film was one of the strong points. I would say this movie's around average.

The ending was cute though. Very cutesy but surprisingly fun and a bit more creative then I would have expected. I think this movie had such a great cast and such a good storyline that more could have been done with it to give it more of an offbeat, fun feel. I'd also have liked to have the characters fleshed out a little bit more and seen more of an edge to the humor and more energy to the movie as a whole. I'd give this a 5.5 or so but wouldn't really say it's a must see.
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7/10
above average.
4 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

This type of picture doesn't always turn out that good but with Just Like Heaven, luckily it wound up being pretty good. For fans of sweet rather ethereal romantic flicks they might want to check this one out. It's really adorable and a lot of fun to watch.

With a movie like this, the Chemistry factor really needs to be there between the the two romantic leads. With Just Like Heaven, we get Reese Witherspoon as the reserved, down to earth Doctor and Mark Ruffalo as the man who winds up falling in love with her. I adored this pairing. The two of them easily had enough chemistry to carry the picture. I think this is the best pairing I've seen for Ruffalo and though I don't think that's so with Witherspoon(nothing can beat her and Joaquin Phoenix in "Walk The Line") it was definitely more then enough. In fact the last scene where they come together, highlights their chemistry extremely well and was a great, really great closing scene to a very sweet romantic movie. The garden cinematography was breathtaking as well.

People who are not fans of the sugar sweet will probably want to stay away from this one but I liked it a lot and will say that there have not been a lot of movies like this in the last few years that have been up there in terms of being enjoyable, sweet, and well made in general and I think Just Like Heaven is.

I would't give this a 10 of 10(It was of coarse predictable and there were some things that tried to be funny that were not.) But I would definitely recommend this to fans of the whimsical romance. It reminded me somewhat of "Heaven Can Wait" which was a favorite of mine growing up. It's a charmer and I thought it was above average. My vote's 7.5 out of 10.
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The In Crowd (2000)
3/10
so bad it's bad.
4 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I really didn't care for this at all. I am always up for a good psychological thriller but there wasn't much here with this one. The story was very predictable and while I did not expect it to break any new ground at least it could have been somewhat interesting. Alas that was not to be. This movie bordered on dull. Actually scratch the "bordered", it WAS dull. And rather annoying.

There wasn't one surprise throughout the whole thing and many of the characters were very one dimensional. The length of the movie didn't help. It's not that it is unreasonably long, but it FEELS like it is. One feels every second of this movie and when your waiting for a movie to end that is definitely not a good thing.

Plus there are oodles of other movies similar to this one and many of those just do the whole storyline better. The In Crowd lacked that compelling component that can sometimes make a psychological thriller, even a not so good one, really really fun to watch. But it was kind of lackluster and it also didn't help that there was very little done in other areas as well such as cinematography and music.

Speaking of the music, it was very very annoying. It didn't fit with the movie at all. And the movie itself just crept along and almost every scene could easily have been predicted. Plus there's very little of the campy factor so it doesn't even venture into the "so bad it's good" area.

As far as positives go I will say this is not unwatchable and watching it is not an unbearable experience. but it is rather bland and is easily lost among a sea of other similar such movies. I wouldn't call this the worst of the worst but it sounded to be much more fun then it wound up being and is definitely below average. Great title that can hook one into wanting to check it out but is ultimately a letdown.
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6/10
a bit mixed on this movie.
17 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I'm a bit mixed on this movie. On the one hand, I thought it was a very touching, well acted movie. On the other, I didn't necessarily love the film as a whole.

First my thoughts on the cast. It seems everyone thought Scarlet Johanson stole the film. I don't really agree with that. I don't think she was bad. But I didn't think she was flawless either. Basically I'd say this was neither the best nor worst of her performances. But I actually was a bit more impressed with Travolta.

John Travolta is not an actor I've been a major fan of over the years but I think that's more to do with his choice of movie roles then anything about him as an actor. This was actually a great choice for him because it's a role unlike anything he's done before and you can really see he put his all into it. Although there were a few times where I saw Travolta, rather then Bobby, those times were less then I would have thought they'd be and his portrayal of Bobby was sensitive and heartfelt. I was glad to have seen him in a very different type of role and I was a bit more impressed with him then Johanson.

But here's the thing....the BEST performer, for me, was not either of them, it was Gabrial Macht as Lawson and I guess that's where I differ from a lot of people. His role may have been technically a supporting role but I thought he gave a beautiful performance and he, not Johanson was the one who stole the movie a bit from Travolta. Maybe I am in the minority on that but I really bought into his character and thought his performance exceptional.

In terms of the positives about the movie other then various performances....obviously it was very touching and the characters multi dimensional and the story an interesting one. But the movie's biggest plus was it's rich southern atmosphere. This is a MUST SEE for people who are fans of movies that take place in the south. It's rare that a movie takes such good advantage of atmosphere and Bobby Long did that so skillfully. It was drenched in southern atmosphere and if one didn't love the south before seeing this film, they sure will after seeing it. And if one did love it before(as I did), it will be wonderful to see the south celebrated so much. If there was an academy award for "best atmosphere" Bobby Long would have won that year hands down.

All that being said, I did not love the movie as a whole. I felt it was very slow moving in places and more then that, extremely predictable. The "twist" is all to easy to guess and honestly if the film had not had the strong atmospheric component I am not sure I'd even like it to the extent I did. As it stands, I felt it was slightly above average and certainly had it's good points but won't go down as one of my favorites. My vote's 6. 5 out of 10.
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8/10
Everyone should see it at least once.
17 March 2007
Oh man they don't make movies like this anymore! What a lot of fun this movie is! How great Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell are on screen together! It's a greatly fun filled movie packed with glamor, comedy and terrific music. Everyone should see it at least once.

Marilyn Monroe had the kind of beauty and screen presence where it's just hard to look away. Jane Russell is sassy and fun and the two played off each other wonderfully. And the musical numbers were fresh and upbeat and delightful to watch. Seeing this now is a weird experience because of how much movies have changed since then.

Definitely check it out if you haven't. It's a wonderfully fun, one of a kind, classic.
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Pushing Tin (1999)
6/10
not terrible, just OK but the cast is great and Billy Bob Thornton is superb.
10 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton play two air traffic controllers who develop a sort of rivalry and are constantly trying to one up each other. Oh there's more to the movie-a lot-but that is the central focus.

Pushing Tin sounded great on paper. It's one of those movies that has a great cast and a plot that sounds fascinating. But the movie as a whole is just OK. Not dreadful, definitely interesting but something seems a bit lacking. I wouldn't call this a great movie but it's moderately involving although it develops slowly.

Cusack and Thornton both turn in good performances as do Jolie and Blanchet as the wives. I really really thought Billy Bob was incredible and he jumped out at me the most. It was weird watching this because it came out a long time ago and seeing Jolie and Blanchett was a kick. I thought they were both great in somewhat small roles though Cate's was larger then Jolie's. The part of the confused Nick could have been tailor made for Cusack but it is Billy Bob who comes close to stealing the film at times as the complex and quiet Russell.

Pushing Tin, even though it had a great cast, with complex characters doing fascinating work, wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be. First off, it takes a rather long time to get going(there were times the movie didn't really seem to have much of a plot) and even once it does get going it drags at times. And the brief bits of the air traffic controllers themselves, hard at work, were so involving I wished there were more of those scenes. Ultimately the rivalry between Nick and Russell was not all that interesting, it was more on the obnoxious side and came this close to actually being rather dull. It did become interesting when Nick goes to visit Russell in Colorado. In fact the scene by the water is just great. But it takes SO very long to get there and a lot of what happens along the way isn't terribly interesting. I didn't like Nick very much at all through most of the movie although that changed a bit after the above mentioned scene with Thornton. But there was a flatness to a lot of the movie, and a lot of it didn't seem to flow real well either. I was rather disappointed.

Ultimatelty I wish the story had focused less on the power struggle of Nich and Russell and more on the relationships between all the people. The moments where the audience sees these people on the job are thrilling but there's not enough of them. And I wish there had been more characters and a different sort of main plot. I don't think this is dreadful or even bad. I would give it a 6 or 6.5 of 10. I don't think this is the type of film where one would turn it off mid stream but I do think it could have been better. Slightly above average is my vote.
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9/10
got so much right where so many other movies get the same things so wrong....
10 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS:

I had to comment on this movie because I just watched "The Black Dahlia" recently and the difference between the two films is quite extreme. LA Confidential is a great movie. It's received so much recognition and has so many positive comments I don't even know what to say about it. But everything that's wrong with certain other, similar films, is what's right about this one.

The cast is great. The story isn't GOOD, it's fascinating and plays out in a way that's transfixing. I must agree with many that there are few movies of this kind around today and that's a shame. But there's not much negative to say on this one because the film gets just about everything right....and how common is that? I won't single out any one member of the cast but will say that my one complaint is that Kim Bassenger is the only one who won an Acadeny Award for this film. And I am glad she won an academy award because I'm a major Bassenger fan and always felt she was under rated. But there were other films she was better in then this one. And there's so many others in this film who were as good or honestly even better-where were their awards? There are certain films that one watches where it's almost unbelievable that they or the performers, don't receive even more recognition and this is definitely such a film.

Basically anyone who likes Film Noir or just a really good film with a sensational cast, intelligent writing and a fascinating plot should check this out. My vote's 9.5 out of 10.
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