(New Line Cinema)
Warnings: Strong Language, Graphic Violence, Gore, Nudity, Sexual References, Adult Themes
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Edward Burns, Kelsey Grammer, Melina Kanakaredes, Avery Brooks, Karel Roden, Oleg Taktarov.
New York City is terrorized by a couple of Eastern Europeans with a penchant for murder and chaos who video tape all their crimes.
Written and directed by John Herzfeld.
I sure was glad that everyone knew their moves and their lines in this movie, it's just too bad they all acted like they didn't care about being there. Every scene seemed like drudgery for the entire cast, with the exception of the two villains - in the beginning anyway. By the end, even they didn't seem to care anymore.
DeNiro, as a celeb NY cop, doesn't seem to have his usual spark in the tough guy role, maybe he's getting tired of playing them. But his role seems minor in comparison to the role, arson investigator, played by Edward Burns. Burns is good, but seems to be in over his head in more ways than one.
A surprise for some viewers, is the role of the sleazy tv tabloid journalist played by Kelsey Grammer - Hey, Frasier he ain't.
GET OVER IT!
Warnings: Language, Violence, Partial Nudity, Brief Sexual Situations, Adult Themes
Starring: Ben Foster, Kirsten Dunst, Shane West, Colin Hanks, Swoosie Kurtz, Ed Begley Jr., Martin Short
After getting dumped, a high school basketball player auditions for the school play in hopes of winning his girlfriend back - with the assistance of his best friends little sister, who he's just realized isn't so little anymore.
Some pretty funny situations and the premis is good but the execution is seriously lacking.
Kirsten Dunst is once again risking being typecast as the cutesy high school sweetie. At least this time she's not such an airhead.
All the acting is extremely overdone. Gags are played out way too long. There's really no one in the entire movie that the audience will like or feel sympathetic towards.
The high school production "A Midsummer Night's Rockin' Eve" is laughable at best, but really fits in this movie because it would feel severely out of place if it actually turned out to be any good.
STILL PLAYING IN THEATRES
ALL THE PRETTY HORSES (Miramax)
* * * 1/2
Warnings: Language, Violence, Mild Gore, Partial Nudity, Mild Sexual Situations, Adult Themes
Starring: Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz, Henry Thomas, Ruben Blades, Lukas Black, Sam Shepard, Bruce Dern
Set in the 1940's, a young Texan travels across the border into Mexico to find work as a ranch hand, only to fall in love with the owner's daughter and get into trouble with the law.
Based on the 1992 novel by Cormac McCarthy.
The story (directed by Billy Bob Thornton), rambles along at a nice, slow gait, but never once loses your attention.
Filmed on location at Gallagher Headquarters Ranch in San Antonio (Texas), the cinematography is just outstanding. Lots of wide-open, uncluttered, quiet vistas. Very fitting for the time frame the movie captures.
This is the type of movie I could envision that Robert Redford would have made in his younger days.
BEST IN SHOW
* * *
Warnings: Moderate Language, Mild Violence, Sexual References, Adult Themes
Starring: Parker Posey, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr, Larry Miller, Bob Balaban
Follows 5 hopefuls and their owners/handlers as they prepare to participate in the pinnacle of dog shows, The 125th Annual Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show.
Directed by Christopher Guest from a screenplay he co-wrote with Eugene Levy. In this mock documentary, Guest captures the idiosyncrasies and neurotic tendencies of some pretty extreme individuals with hilarious results. He does for dog shows what he did for community theatre with WAITING FOR GUFFMAN.
Each of the 5 spotlighted dogs and their people are an extreme, from the neurotic preppies and their psychoanalyzed Weimeraner to the gool ole' boy and his Bloodhound. All delightful and full of funny moments.
One of the funniest characters is the play by play commentator, Fred Willard, who not only knows nothing about dogs but also shows his extreme lacking in many other conversational people skills as well.
Whether you're a dog person or not, this small gem is a hit.
CAST AWAY (20th Century Fox)
* * * *
Warnings: Language, Violence, Some Gore, Partial Nudity, Adult Themes
Starring: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt
A Fed-Ex employee is the sole survivor of a plane crash at sea and finds himself stranded on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific.
In essence, this is a story about a man who's entire life was ruled by time and the fact that there wasn't enough of it who suddenly finds himself in a situation where all he has is time.
The plane crash scene is the most vivid and frightening I've seen depicted on film.
The majority of the movie is just Hanks alone on the island. There's at least an hour and a half where there's no dialogue, no music, nothing. Just a solitary man trying to survive the elements and the isolation.
Tom Hanks is, as always, an incredible actor and this is yet another Oscar worthy performance.
* * * *
Warnings: Language, Moderate Violence, Partial Nudity, Mild Sexual Situations, Adult Themes
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Carrie-Anne Moss, Peter Stormare, Leslie Caron
The tranquility of a small staid French village is seriously disrupted when a mysterious woman and her daughter come to town and set up a chocolate shop during Lent.
"One winter day, a sly wind blew in from the north" and brought a wonderfully delicious and heartwarming story to the screen. The story is small and intimate. The dialogue is quietly melodic and the pace is deliberately gentle. Sure to melt in your mouth, this is a true gem of a motion picture.
Nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Juliette Binoche), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench) and Best Picture.
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON
* * * *
Warnings: Violence, Partial Nudity, Mild Sexual Situations, Adult Themes
Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen
Master Li, growing tired of a wudan warrior's life, asks his friend Shu Lien to deliver his infamous Green Destiny Sword to a mutual acquaintance in Peking. Upon it's arrival, the sword is stolen by the notorious Jade Fox and her young disciple.
Based on a book by Wang Du Lu and directed by Ang Lee (THE ICE STORM, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY), ...DRAGON is composed of mythic legends from China.
This is a spectacular period piece.
The martial arts action is intense, choreographed by Yeun Wo Ping.
The characters "fly" up and over walls and across water as easy as you and I breathe. Filming these sequences wasn't so easy for the stars as they were hoisted into a harnass and suspended by cables dangling from atop large industrial cranes for hours at a time.
The cinematography is exquisite. The scenery is breathtaking. Subtitled - The dialogue is spoken in Mandarin Chinese.
Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Foreign Film (Taiwan) and Best Picture.
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence, Gore, Nudity, Sexual Situations, Adult Themes
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jonny Lee Miller, Jennifer Esposito, Danny Masterson, Jeri Ryan, Omar Epps, Christopher Plummer (Produced by Wes Craven)
A team of thieves break into a highly guarded London antique store housing a large silver coffin they believe contains a priceless religous relic, only to discover enroute to New Orleans that they've unleased Dracula, the Prince of Darkness.
This movie sure sucks all the life out of the Dracula story - it's been done to death. The special effects are mediocre and the story is a snooze. Then there's this whole ridiculous subplot that tries to explain that Dracula is really Judas from biblical times. Oh please.
No suspense, solely relies on scares induced by "creepy things" jumping out from darkened corners.
Tries pretty unsuccessfully to be sexy. It's not, except for previously unknown Scottish actor Gerard Butler as Dracula (now HE's sexy). For that reason alone, this movie receives the rating I've given it.
THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE
* * * 1/2
Starring the Voices of: David Spade, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton, Eartha Kitt
A pompous, egomaniacal South American emperor of a pre-Columbian kingdom finds himself targeted for termination by his power hungry advisor and her rather inept right hand man, but they goof and turn him into a llama instead.
This was supposed to be another animated, grand epic style Disney musical. Somewhere along the line, they ditched that idea. It's predominately a non-musical (except for a couple of songs by Sting and Tom Jones) and it's definitely a non-epic. Fact is, the story is really rather simple. And then there's David Spade who basically just plays himself.
I went into this absolutely positive I was going to hate this movie, that's why I'd avoided seeing it for so long. I've never been a fan of David Spade. Truth is, I've always detested him. Everything about him grates on my every nerve. Unfortunately, it's really hard for me to hate a movie that makes me laugh this much. It's totally hip and extremely funny.
THE FAMILY MAN
* * 1/2
Warnings: Language, Mild Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual References, Adult Themes
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Tea Leoni, Jeremy Piven, Saul Rubinek, Don Cheadle, Harve Presnell
An ultra-successful, power wielding Wall Street big wig wakes up Christmas morning to find he's suddenly living the life he would have lead if only he hadn't left his college sweetheart at the airport 13 years ago.
Basically, this is an updated version of "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE", though not nearly so squeaky clean and saccharine sweet.
This is Tea Leoni's first movie since taking a break to pursue motherhood. Not much for her to sink her acting chops into, pretty much the only acting she does is look starry eyed at Nicholas Cage. Almost as much acting as she'll be doing in the film she's currently working on - JURASSIC PARK 3.
There are a few funny moments, but mostly this is pretty dull and as far as I'm concerned, kind of depressing.
* * * *
Warnings: Language, Mild Sexual References, Adult Themes
Starring: Sean Connery, F Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Busta Rhymes, Michael Nouri, Rob Brown
A reclusive writer living in the Bronx, unwillingly befriends and later mentors an African-American youth with an exceptional penchant for writing.
Directed by Gus Van Sant (GOOD WILL HUNTING).
Moves a little slow in the beginning but that doesn't last long.
Warmly and intelligently written by Mike Rich. Well developed characters - you care about them from the start. Plausible situations. No loose ends.
Connery is as always wonderful to watch. He is a very complex individual. An absolute SOB - gruff, abrupt, and at times downright mean - and plays it beautifully. Why wouldn't he?
Features newcomer Rob Brown. He originally auditioned to be an extra in the movie in hopes of paying off an outstanding cell phone bill, and ended up starring opposite a legend. That must have been some audition.
* * * 1/2
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence, Gore, Nudity, Sexual Situations, Adult Themes
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves, Greg Kinnear, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Michael Jeter, Gary Cole
A southern woman with psychic powers becomes involved in solving the disappearance of a young woman who may have been killed by the abusive husband of one of her clients.
Directed by Sam Raimi from a screenplay written by Tom Epperson and Billy Bob Thornton.
Exceptionally written and very suspenseful story full of amazing twists and surprises.
Very powerful performances by the entire cast but most notably by Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi and Keanu Reeves. Anyone who thought that Keanu's acting abilities were at all questionable would immediately have those notions squelched upon seeing this movie - he's incredible.
There are some really disturbing scenes, as when the psychic envisions elements of a murder, that are hard to sit through but the story is so compelling you can't take your eyes off the screen.
* * * 1/2
Warnings: Language, Extreme and Graphic Violence, Gore, Sexual References, Adult Themes
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Ray Liotta, Giancarlo Giannini
Hannibal Lecter, escaped from the asylum and living under an assumed name in Italy, is pursued by a number of forces for a multitude of reasons ranging from reward to revenge to recapture.
Based on Thomas Harris' 1999 followup novel to the ultra-successful hit SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.
Directed by Ridley Scott (GLADIATOR), the story this time around has more romantic overtones than grisly and murderous suspense, but don't get me wrong there's plenty of that this time too. Scott did however, decide to change the ending Harris had written in the novel to one a little more appetizing for everyone involved.
Anthony Hopkins reprises the role that won him an Oscar with his usual teasing joviality. You can almost see him wink each time Lecter closes in on a new victim.
The role of FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling is now inhabited by Julianne Moore (BOOGIE NIGHTS), who does a fair job considering the large shadow left by her predecessor (Oscar winner Jodie Foster).
The story doesn't quite hit the same emotional notes of SILENCE, but it's full of chills and thrills and a few new recipes. Just don't try them at home.
* * 1/2
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence, Mild Gore, Sexual References, Adult Themes
Starring: Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Bob Balaban
A clumsy and reluctant mob bagman is forced to leave his demanding girlfriend (he's being threatened with his life) and travel to Mexico to find and bring back a legandary and priceless antique pistol known as "The Mexican".
Directed by Gore Verbinski, most known for commercial direction (remember those Budweiser Frogs?), takes two of Hollywoods top box office draws (Roberts and Pitt) and spends most of the movie keeping them apart. The two stars only spend minimal time together onscreen, and when they are together they're mostly fighting and yelling at each other.
The story, written by J.H.Wyman, somewhat flawed, would have been much better suited to casting of relative unknowns or minor stars, not the likes of Roberts and Pitt.
The scenes with Pitt trying to track down the object of his desire (I'm talking about the gun here) are mildly entertaining, but really lack any kind of energy. He just schleps his way through most of the movie. Roberts' character describes him best when she tells him "You've managed to Forrest Gump your way through your life."
Roberts is also mildly entertaining, that is until her character is kidnapped by a hitman hired to "regulate the funkiness" of the situation.
The abducter, played by Soprano's tough guy James Gandolfini, is the highlight of the whole movie. His character is complex and charismatic. Anytime his character isn't onscreen, that's when the movie falls flat.
(20th Century Fox)
Warnings: Language, Crude Humor, Violence, Mild Gore, Sexual Situations, Adult Themes
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Brigit Fonda, Chris Kattan, David Foley, Whoopi Goldberg, Rose McGowen, Giancarlo Esposito
When an accident causes a cartoonist to slip into a coma, the animated character he created (his alter-ego) Monkeybone, takes over his body and wreaks havoc on his life.
Directed by David Selick (TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS), this is a very dark and predominately not funny proposed journey into the inner psyche.
While in his coma, Stu Milou (Brendan Fraser) ends up in a type of amusement park - the limbo between life and death - where the landscape is filled with grotesque, bizarre and extremely nightmarish images.
There are only a few rare moments where the movie is enjoyable or even funny - for example when Stu's soul inhabits the body of a dead gymnast with a broken neck, laughably played by Chris Kattan (SNL fame) or when MonkeyboneStu does a bump and grind routine singing Rick James' Brickhouse before a roomful of museum patrons.
The majority of the "jokes" here are sick and in very poor taste and there are a multitude of instances that I think the PG-13 rating was really rather lenient.
SAVE THE LAST DANCE
* * * 1/2
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence, Sexual References, Adult Themes
Starring: Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Terry Kinney, Kerry Washington
Following her mother's unexpected death, a middle class high school student with dreams of attending Julliard is forced to move in with her estranged father, a jazz musician, who lives in a predominately black neighborhood on the south side of Chicago.
Directed by Thomas Carter (METRO), this is part FAME, part FLASHDANCE, part ROMEO & JULIET with a hip-hop beat.
The dialogue of the kids sounds natural instead of the usual teen fare. They don't sound too much like the adults that wrote the script, and they are capable of carrying on conversations without the usual teen trash talk.
Where it does tread pretty lightly over more serious inner-city issues such as race relations and gang violence, the story takes an optimistic approach to life with messages of starting over, second chances and reaching for your dreams.
* * 1/2
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Gore, Nudity, Adult Themes
Starring: Benecio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, Rade Serbedzija, Jason Statham
Set against the backdrop of underground betting on illegal boxing matches in London, the lives of two bit boxing promotors, a Russian gun dealer, pawn brokers, contract killers, an Irish bare knuckle boxer, and diamond merchants all converge and their goal ultimately becomes one. To get hold of the 86 carat flawless diamond without being fed to the pigs.
Directed by Guy Ritchie (LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS).
This is Ritchie's second feature, and again double dealings and double crosses abound. It even stars alot of the same actors, and you guessed it, it's basically a remake of his first film.
Ritchie's film world is again filled with vibrant character names like Turkish, Franky Four Fingers, Bullet Tooth Tony, Boris the Bullet Dodger, Gorgeous George and Brick Top. Too bad we've been here before.
Like Ritchie's previous film, the accents are extremely thick. None more so than Brad Pitt's (one of the only Americans in the cast) who's Irish gypsy verbage is so incoherent even the other people in the movie don't know what he's saying.
Ultra-violent. Seedy. Thickly British. Snappy camera work. The soundtrack is good (not surprisingly, it's filled with alot of Madonna songs). Ritchie is seriously trying to become the next Quentin Tarantino (hey that name rings a bell, but what has he done lately? Hmmm).
SUGAR AND SPICE
Warnings: Language, Violence, Sexual References, Adult Themes
Starring: Francine MacDougall, Marley Shelton, Melissa George, Sara Marsh, James Marsden, Rachel Blanchard, Marla Sokoloff
When a member of Lincoln High School's A-Squad Cheerleaders gets into trouble and need of some cash, the team decides to help her by holding up a bank branch in a grocery store.
Oh. Can movies become any more inane?
The writing is so severely lacking in so many ways, this review would be pages long if I went into any kind of detail. So I'll spare us both.
The girls get the "brilliant" idea to rob banks after watching POINT BREAK, of all things, during a sleepover. Now, I love Keanu as much as the next gal, but come on, I'm not using any of his movies as fodder for my life altering decisions.
* * 1/2
Warnings: Language, Violence, Partial Nudity, Mild Sexual Situations, Adult Themes
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Jason Isaacs, Liam Aikan
A free-spirited woman offers to "help" a high-strung, workaholic San Francisco ad executive loosen up and enjoy life. All he has to do is move in with her for 30 days starting November first.
A remake of the 1968 Sandy Dennis film of the same name, the original was somewhat implausible and this one is too. There's never a good reason why this seemingly intelligent ad exec decides to take this rather flaky woman up on her offer.
And why is the offer only good for 30 days? As the character puts it, that's "long enough to be meaningful, and short enough to stay out of trouble". Okay, if you say so.
Keanu is very charming (as always) and Charlize is very believeable as the flaky woman with "ulterior" motives all her own. Most of the supporting roles are stereotypes.
Yes this story, directed by Pat O'Conner, hits a few emotional chords, but there are too many holes in the storyline to sustain any degree of emotional involvement all the way through.
Did I need my tissues? You bet I did.
Do I recommend this movie? Not exactly.
Will I own this on video? It stars Keanu Reeves, doesn't it? 'Nuf said.
3000 MILES TO GRACELAND
* * *
Warnings: Strong Language, Extreme Violence, Gore, Partial Nudity, Sexual Situations, Adult Themes
Starring: Kevin Costner, Kurt Russell, Courtney Cox-Arquette, Christian Slater, David Arquette, Bokeem Woodbine, Howie Long, Thomas Haden Church, Ice-T, Kevin Pollack, Jon Lovitz
A band of criminals, posing as Elvis impersonators, decide to rob a Las Vegas casino during an Elvis convention.
Directed by commercial and music video veteran Demian Lichtenstein (from a story he co-wrote with Richard Recco), this is a somewhat cliche'd grand heist/road picture. What gives it it's edge, is it's high octane, high adrenaline pacing.
Kevin Costner, playing his first villain since his role in THE PERFECT WORLD, is the ultimate bad-ass criminal. No conscience. No remorse. Yet, there's something very interesting about this character, and not just that he believes he is the illegitimate son of the King himself.
As for Kurt Russell, the Elvis theme is nothing new. At age 10, his film debut was in a movie called IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD'S FAIR which starred some guy named Elvis Presley. Then some time later, Kurt Russell played Elvis Presley in a made for tv movie. Lets put it this way, the man looks quite at home in a sequined jumpsuit.
Big surprise for me came from Courtney Cox-Arquette. Though her character is pretty much the bimbo type, Courtney displays some real acting chops. I guess all those years on Friends really paid off.
There are numerous gunfights throughout this movie and the body count is so high you might think this was a Quentin Tarantino movie, but the anti-chemistry of Costner, Russell and Cox-Arquette is very entertaining. It's really quite a rush.
* * *
Warnings: Language, Violence, Adult Themes
Starring: Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steve Culp, Dylan Baker, Michael Fairman, Frank Wood, Bill Smitrovich, Elya Baskin
In depth look inside John F Kennedy's White House at how closely we came to war during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Directed by Roger Donaldson and written by David Self.
Although this is produced by and stars Kevin Costner, he plays a fairly backseat role as presidential aide Kenneth P. O'Donnell. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean you're exempt from sitting through yet another insufferable accent.
Aside from Costner, the casting seems to be drawn primarily by appearrance. Some of the actors are near dead-ringers for the historical figures they portray.
Both the roles of the Kennedy's, Robert F (Steven Culp) and John F (Bruce Greenwood) are handled beautifully. The mannerisms are perfect, the accents are somewhat subdued but they're there and they look enough like them to be totally believeable.
The camera work is a little distracting at times. The film alternates from Color to B&W and back again.
I understand the need to keep the story events in chronological order for history's sake, but the film takes on a feeling of: This happened. And then this happened. And then this happened...
Over all, Thirteen Days is a frightening look back at America's history.
THE WEDDING PLANNER
* * *
Warnings: Language, Mild Violence, Sexual References, Adult Themes
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridget Wilson Sampras, Justin Chambers, Judy Greer, Alex Rocco, Joanna Gleason, Fred Willard
A San Francisco woman who plans elaborate weddings for other people, falls in love with a man who came to her rescue only to find he's the prospective groom of her next assignment. The largest wedding she has ever handled and the one destined to make her a partner in the company.
San Francisco is a beautiful city and it's many picturesque locations lend well to a romantic comedy of this sort. Beautiful churches. Beautiful parks. Beautiful gardens.
The pairing of Lopez and McConaughey works primarily because they're good looking people who look good together. The soft focus camera work doesn't hurt either.
The writing is fairly adequate, the tone doesn't remain consistant throughout. The humour is good, obviously some moments are much funnier than others.
Lopez and McConaughey are not necessarily known for their work in romantic comedies (this is her first, and his second if you call EDtv a romantic comedy), but pull off the task pretty well.
WHAT WOMEN WANT
* * * 1/2
Warnings: Language, Mild Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Situations, Adult Themes
Starring: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Lauren Holly, Ashley Johnson, Delta Burke, Valerie Perrine, Alan Alda
Nick Marshall, the ultimate male chauvenist, endures a life altering experience - the result of a mishap in his bathroom involving a hairdryer and a filled bathtub - that leaves him with the uncanny ability of listening in on the inner thoughts of the women around him.
Mel Gibson is hilariously funny. Why he hasn't done more romantic comedies before is beyond me. He has an innate comedic ability and his timing is impeccable. He can even sing and dance.
The wit and dialogue is crisp and quick. The characters are fully developed and the humour is delightfully insightful.
Each and every performance, no matter how small the role, is just wonderful.
On a personal note, I'm really grateful that no one actually has the ability to read a woman's mind. I know I wouldn't want anyone reading my thoughts. It would frighten them.