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The Last Boy Scout
A classic "buddy" action flick starring Bruce Willis and Dameon Wayans, directed in 1991 by Tony Scott.  Scott has directed other great movies such as The Hunger (1983), Top Gun (1986), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), True Romance (1993 - one of my absolute favourites), and Crimson Tide (a.k.a. The Hunt for Crimson October, 1995), as well as certainly well-made blockbusters of less entertainment quality such as Spy Game (2001), Enemy of the State (1998), The Fan (1996) and Days of Thunder (1990).  This is a good movie and I have seen it many times.
Full Review

Bend it like Beckham

This was an excellent movie about a young (East) Indian girl living in England and the family troubles she has around becoming a professional (or maybe semi-professional) soccer ("football") player.   Parminder K. Nagra does an excellent job starring in this movie and it is a cute film that is worth a watch.  It is, however, definitely family entertainment and should not be watched with the hopes of seeing a lot of explosions, blood, violence nudity or, strangely enough, soccer.


Full Review

SAW SAW

This movie is about the premise and ONLY about the premise.  James Wan (Director, Writer) and Leigh Whannell (just writer - oh and lead actor) put this sloppy little horror number together and it is worth a view if you appreciate the genre and can deal WITH ALL THE STUPID MISTAKES.  This was a good idea that James and Leigh came up with (I am assuming while under the influence of something) but to keep the plot going they kept having to add things that just didn't get a passing grade.  Somehow, for example, the bad guy manages to electrocute his prisoners despite the fact that they are chained (single chains mind you) to water pipes.  This is just impossible. The laws of physics will not allow it.  Perhaps more troubling is that, given more than 6 hours and two hack saws, two relatively young men can not hack through what appears to be some three inch non-galvanized chain.  Sure, sawing through that chain would be time consuming and if I had to do it in my workshop I would take it to someone with a metal shop but, seeing as these guys are going to die.... well, I think I would take the time.  Problems like this are too numerous to mention and range from the protagonists being idiots to really odd architectural choices (why use a barn for an underground garage?) and photo backgrounds that don't match up with the video shots.  Then there is the poor attempt at split-narrative story-telling.  This is Wan's debut (and there is no one to blame but the director for the problems this movie has) and maybe he should have stuck with a linear tale.  In fact, this could have easily been done as a linear tale and been better.  With all the moving backward and forward in time it often took a minute to decide "when" in the story the action we were watching was happening.  Despite an amazing array of problems that really demonstrate that no one cared about anything other than luring us to the theatre with a few gruesome scenes (well, more than a few) this movie still managed to hold my attention.  More gross than scary with a ethereal villan who is so completely not there that he (or she) is not even scary, this movie is worth the price of a rental if you are into this sort of thing.  Carey Elwes (who hasn't done a thing I liked since Robin Hood: Men in Tights) was passable but a stronger actor could have been found as Carey can't pull off that much screen time, Whannell on the other hand, does a great job well above the caliber of the movie, and I am real sorry that Danny Glover has been reduced to this. I certainly can wait for Saw 2 which opens October 28, 2005.

Bollywood/Hollywood

There are worse things you could be doing with your time besides watching this movie.  On the other hand, if you want to see a movie that juxtaposes Indian and British/American culture I would recommend Bend it Like Beckham over this cutesy flick.  This movie, like many Indian movies (but not BilB) is a musical and a romantic comedy.  The plot was pretty boring and predictable but for a movie the whole family could (might) enjoy, you could do a lot worse.


Full Review

Unfaithful
Directed by Adrian Lyne who has done such GREAT movies as Jacob's Ladder (1990), and such influential movies as Flashdance (1983) and Fatal Attraction (1987) as well as such controversial favourites as 9 1/2 Weeks (1986), this particular movie sucked hard. I can see why Richard Gere and Diane Lane might have bought into the project as there is enough here that the original script might have been passable but in the final edit these two had nothing to act with.  Not only did Lane's character lack the motivation (other than purely physical... not that there is anything wrong with that) to have an affair but her character was so lacking in redeeming qualities that one had to wonder why Gere's character cared.  This movie had all the moral depth of an episode of Scooby-Doo but lacked the suspense and intrigue.
Full review

The Hunted
Worth a hung-over Saturady afternoon on the couch, this Poor Man's First Blood probably would not appeal to anyone who would not usually be spending Saturady hung over on the couch.  I like both Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Torro even though it is often dificult to tell if either of them id good as acting like a robot or just robotic in their acting abilities.  This was a decent try by director, William Friedkin, who hasn't made a decent flick since To Live and Die in LA in 1985 (and the Exorcist before that way back in 1973).  Ir suprises me that Friedkin could not do better but the plot was used too well by Stalone and T-L Jones has done this part to death.  If you have never seen First Blood you may even appreciate this movie but if you have seen it you are just going to sit there and compare. 
Full review

Johnny English

This movie is not to James Bond what Galaxy Quest is to Star Trek. Neither did this get great reviews.  Therefore, you should not expect too much but, as far as spy movie spoofs go, it was worth the rental fee.  Rowan Atkinson is his usual goofy self playing a non-field agent forced into the field when every other British agent is accidentally blown up.  John Malkovich, usually one of my favorite thesbians, throws the evil mad man character too far over the top and is annoying for most of the movie (thankfully he really isn’t in it that much).  The director, Peter Howitt, really hasn’t ever done much of anything (Laws of Attraction in 2004 and Antitrust, with that painfully pouting Ryan Philippe in 2001) but did a good job here with what is essentially his directorial debut.  Screenwriter, Neil Pervis, was a co-writer on Die Another Day, Robert Wade, co-writer for Johnny English also wrote on Die Another Day as well as The World is Not Enough while screenwriter William Davies brought no past Bond experience to the table.  As an interesting side note, I believe that:  “The World is Not Enough” is the motto on the Bond coat of arms as stated by Ian Flemming in (possibly) Goldfinger.



The Tomorrow Man
This time travelling sci-fi B flick could have been a decent movie but there were too many things wrong with it.  To begin with, Beth Kennedy, who plays the co-hero in the movie, is dreadful, with Morgan Rusler, the villan, not far behind.  Corbin Bernsen (who has had small parts in a lot of small movies), was quite good as the hero.  In this movie, the bad guy (Rusler) steals a time machine from a time cop (Kennedy) and goes back in time to kidnap himself as a young man.  Kennedy must then work with the father (Bernsen) to get things back to right.  This is really the story of a very bad father who learns the error of his ways by seeing first hand how awful his son turns out.  It is about changing things before it is too late.  It is a morality tale with unexamined time-travel (rather than any kind of real or even pseudo science) as the key to lighting up the moral insight.  It really drops the ball as far as the science goes but, in all honesty, the dropped ball doesn’t fall far from a whole bunch of early sci-fi balls thrown by such greats such as Asimov, Heinlien and Hubbard.  In fact, while the whole story could have used some tightening (and better actors), it was nice to see a very obvious tale of morality done in this manner.  If you appreciate the subtle nuances of B movies, you might consider renting this one.  If, like most people, you would rather watch a good movie, then you probably should give it a pass.

Who is Cletis Tout

This is a MUST SEE MOVIE!!!  Starring Christian Slater, Tim Allen, Portia de Rossi and Richard Dryfus, this marks an amazing directorial debut for stand-up comic, Chris Ver Weil.  This movie is funny, full of adventure and intrigue and the split narrative style (think Pulp Fiction where the story jumps back and forth) is excellently done.  Tim Allen once again proves that he is not just Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor as he masterfully pulls off (of all things) a quirky hit man.  If you have walked past this movie over and over again at the video store, walk past it no more.  Rent it and enjoy.


Full Review

Wasabi

This 2002 pop-adventure flick centres on a French agent (Reno) who must return to Tokyo after 19 years to deal with the death (murder?) of his ex girlfriend.  On arrival he finds out that he has become the guardian of his ex’s daughter who just happens to be 19 years old.  Chaos ensues… only, too much chaos of a somewhat low quality.  Directed by Gerard Krawczyk (who was second unit director for the fun but fatally flawed Joan of Ark flop, The Messenger) the love story between Reno and a woman he meets (played by French actress Carole Bouquet), quite frankly, blows with no substance or believability at all.   Luc Besson wrote and directed Wasabi. He has to his credit at least seven movies I have heard of, The Transporter, 2002 (producer and Screenwriter), Kiss of the Dragon, 1999 (Producer and Screenwriter), The Messenger, 1999 (director and screenwriter), The Fifth Element, 1997 (director, screenwriter), The Point of No Return, 1993 (book author), La Femme Nakita, 1990 (director and screenwriter) and The Big Blue, 1988 (director and screenwriter).  You would think with this kind of resume, Besson could have done a better job but Wassabi came out seriously over the top and Jean Reno (the star) is not a big enough action hero to pull off this sot of campy crap.  Even if the writing and direction had been better, Reno just cannot pull it off.  Maybe he can in France.  Ryoko Hirosue is hot and cute at the same time playing Reno’s daughter, but the character could have been just as effectively played by a puppy and a copy of Hustler.



2 Weeks Notice
I am not a huge Hugh Grant fan and I find Sandra Bullock difficult to watch (she looks too much like the after photo of a serious plastic surgery operation) but this movie was cute.  In it, Grant plays his standard role of a shallow rich fella who really has a heart of gold and Bullock plays her standard role as a somehow unnoticed woman who unearths hearts of gold.  Actor/Director Marc Lawrence (The Shipping News, Miss Congeniality, The Out of Towners) did a good, solid job with this romantic comedy and there is little that I can complain about (other than the fact that it is, after all, a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock).  If you have to watch this kind of stuff with your better half it may as well be something done well, right? Right?

School of Rock

Because I think a lot of Jack Black I was disappointed with this movie.  It had a fair amount going for it (I guess) with amazing appearances by some truly talented young musicians, but the whole movie lacked a certain appeal for me.  This often happens when I think I am going to like something and don’t. Interestingly, Mike White, who plays Jack’s socially inept roommate in the movie, also wrote the flick (and wrote Orange County - also starring Black).  This movie might be worth a Sunday afternoon on the couch but don’t expect a whole lot.  Black plays a character that has become known as "himself" but with a little less over the top-ness than usual.  Joan Cussack (if you had to do a funny looking girl... huh?, huh?!) is good as the principle of the school where Black takes part in his shenanigans but, in the end, it is just shenanigans with no real depth at all.  I saw the previews so I wasn’t expecting a whole lot but even still I wanted something more.



Out of Time
Not to be confused with movies of the same name made in 2001, 1998, 1991, 1989, 1988 and 1985, this 2003 movie stares Denzel Washington  as a small town police cheif who gets caught up in a world of thrill (I guess) when the married woman he is dating and her husband are killed and he appears to be the prime suspect.  Eva Mendez (hot as ever) plays Washington’s ex wife and Detective in this movie that, for some strange reason, was premiered at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival.   Do not let that premiere fool you.  This is not a “fill-emn”.  It is only a "movie". And it is a fairly good movie.  Carl Franklin (who never did anything that impressed me) directed this and, in keeping with Washinton’s over-thought delivery, directed it a bit slowly so it lacks a certain “oomph” that it might have had otherwise. Screenwriter, Dave Collard, gets kudos for what appears to be his first movie credit and Editor Carole Kravetz-Aykanian gets a big thumbs up for leaving the plot in the movie rather than on the editing room floor where so much plot must end up these days.  As stated, this movie was a bit slower than it could have been but it had its “thriller” moments and certainly did its job. I would suggest renting it.

A Beautiful Mind

Russell Crowe stars in this Ron Howard (director) movie about Dr. John Nash Jr., a brilliant mathematician who suffers from schizophrenia.   Take me very seriously when I say this because I never have said it before about any actor: Russel Crowe’s performance was captivating.  This was, without a doubt, one of the most incredibly acted parts I have ever seen.  The story itself is fantastic too and all the other cast members did a great job as well but Crowe portrayed this still-living intellectual hero with a skill and grace that one rarely gets to see. 

 

This movie received 4 Academy Awards in 2001 (Director, Picture, Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay) but Crowe did not win.  Instead, best Actor went to Denzel Washington in Training Day.  Training Day was a good movie and Washington is a fine actor (on rare occasions) but Crowe should have gotten this award (and Washington should not have, not for Training Day).

 

Jennifer Conolly was good in her role as Nash’s wife (and she is a hottie). Ed Harris and Paul Bettany (The Reckoning and Master and Commander) were both good as well with Harris being, well, Harris and Bettany being extremely good as an hallucination.

 

This is a MUST SEE MOVIE!!!! Not many of these come along and this one is a bit long but what a story and what a telling of it! 



Blade (1998)

With Blade III (The Search for Curly’s Gold) in theatres as I write this, I felt that I needed to see the first one again.  I fell asleep near the end. That being said this was a decent vampire flick with lots of decent, blood-filled scenes and an heroic attempt by Wesley Snipes to bring some depth to the lead role. And when I say “depth”, I am, of course, kidding.  Still, if you are keen on vampires and have already seen all the better movies about them, this should be on your list. 

 

Stephen Dorff (Cold Creek Manor, Fear dot Com, The Gate, and I shot Andy Warhol) does a good job as the badest of the bad vampires and Kris Kristopherson (who plays Sam Elliott’s character from Road House) should not have even been in this movie.

 

David S. Goyer (who wrote this movie) also wrote Dark City (1998) which was an excellent movie and one I highly recommend.  On the other hand, as punnishment for making J-C Van Damme’s Death Warrant, a horrendous adaptation of  Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters  (1994), Seagal’s major flop On Deadly Ground (1994), the dreadful The Crow: City of Angels (1996), and Freddy vs. Jason (2000), which hardly needs a comment,  Goyer reduced to “generator operator” on The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) which was the complete loser follow-up to the masterpiece Pitch Black.  I guess what I am saying is that Goyer is obviously a hack despite Dark City and I find it hard to believe that Blade Trinity will be any better.



Blade 2 (2002)
Oh…. just thought I should warn you: Blade II sucks!! And I mean, it really, REALLY sucks.

Blade Trinity

This Blade movie obviously has the best poster and probably cost the most money to make.  I have not seen it.  This is not so odd when on econsiders that Blade was only a marginally decent Vampire movie and Blade 2 sucked big-time.  What is odd is that I want to see Blade: Trinity even though just the fact that the name makes it sound like part of the Matrix series scares me. In any case, as of March 2005 I have still not seen the latest installment of this series but I am certain to do so soon.



Dodgeball

DO NOT COUNT THIS MOVIE OUT JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK IT LOOKS STUPID!!  IT IS GOOD.

 

Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Christine Taylor star in this funny movie about being the underdog.  Essentially based on … well take your pick… let’s say .. Revenge of The Nerds (1984), Dodgeball is a funny movie!! No really! Although I like most of the things Ben Stiller has done (at least since There’s Something About Mary) I wasn’t expecting much (did you know Stiller directed Reality Bites [1994], the Cable Guy [1996] and wrote as well as directed and starred in Zoolander [2001]?  How about that he did a voice over for an episode of Frasier called A Miracle on Third or Fourth Street?).

 

NOTE: The previews for Dodgeball looked goofy funny (not usually my cup of tea) but the writing and direction (both provided by Rawson Marshall Thurber  - and it seems that it might be his first Hollywood flick) were excellent.  I thought, however, that the alternate ending (curse you DVDs) was worse than the one used.  In his online commentary (double damn DVDs) Thurber claims he was “forced by the Studio” to make the new ending and Stiller pokes fun at it during the credits but the story provided in the commentary seems bogus to me.  To begin with, the ending Thurber claims to have wanted sucks.  I do not mean that the theme of the ending sucks or how things work out for the characters sucks I just mean that the ending is boring, stupid and says nothing.  Sure, the ending that was finally chosen is happy and predictable but at least it doesn’t suck.

 

In any case, that little bit of commentary on the alternate ending made me worry about how good this Thurber guy really is and whether his rise in power will see him being allowed to make bad decisions.  So now that he has worked with the Big Boys, watch out for Thurber’s next movie cause they might let him actually write and direct it.



Cold Mountain

THIS MOVIE WAS REALLY BAD.  To begin with, this melodramatic piece of drivel featured the vastly overrated and over acting Nichole Kidman.  Thankfully her performance was tempered by the performances of Renee Zellweger and even, and I hate to say it, Jude Law. On the other hand, despite the fact that Zellweger won an Academy Award for her performance and Law was nominated, neither actor really got to do much. 

 

This movie, based on a book by Charles Frazier and adapted to the screen by director Anthony Minghella, was, in my opinion, simply a bad story.  Essentially it is a story of Love and Faith but nothing in it got beyond the level of a adolescent crush or really depicted either of these themes in a meaningful way.  Add to that the items put in it purely for daytime soap opera level melodrama. Take, for example, the completely unnecessary death of the male protagonist at the end (I can wreck the ending since you don’t want to watch it).  Now quite frankly I could not care less whether he lived or died but it was a meaningless death.  This movie was not about futility.  1984 was about futility.  Crime and Punnishment was about futility.  Cold Mountain was supposed to be about romance and, sappy and stupid as it is, in a romance, things generally should end well.  Just like in action movies where the good guys win.  Romantic movies are not about being real or depicting the angst that most of us suffer with in the world.  Killing Jude Law’s character (a good idea in itself) was just the author’s attempt to have himself (and us) believe that this was something more than a sappy romance story, that there was something important being said here.  Well, guess what, there wasn’t and I found the attempt at some sort of pseudo-intellectualism insulting and pretentious.

 

As a related note, I have been informed by a half decent source that the death of the male lead was well done in the book version of this story and was in keeping with the theme of the novel.  What this means is that Anthony Minghella did an even worse job than I originally thought and (if you must expose yourself to this drivel) you should read the book and not watch the movie.

 

If you want to watch a movie that is a lot like this movie but does not suck quite as much then rent Far and Away (Tom Cruise and Nichole Kidman, 1992).



 
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