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Iggy's Movie Reviews Weblog

Independent reviews of recently released major motion pictures

Last Build Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2005 05:10:32 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2005 David Schwartz

Mon, 28 Feb 2005 05:07:38 GMT

HELLO & GOODBYE In the past three years, despite almost no promotion, over 200,000 people have stopped by my little corner of the web. I am very grateful for all those who visted this site and I hope you found it to be useful in determining your movie-going choices. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, time constraints no longer permit me to put in the time and energy it takes to maintain this site. As a result I will no longer be adding new reviews. I'll leave you with my favorite personal saying; "Fond Memories Play Havoc With Reality". Thanks for stopping by. Yours truly, Iggy

Sun, 13 Feb 2005 20:25:36 GMT

WORST MOVIES OF 2004 The movies included in this list have the dubious distinction of not only being bad but being major disappointments as well. 1) ALEXANDER 2) GODSEND 3) I HEART HUCKABEES 4) THE VILLAGE 5) ENVY (image)

Sun, 13 Feb 2005 19:32:01 GMT

MOVIE - MILLION DOLLAR BABY - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Clint Eastwood (Frankie Dunn), Hilary Swank (Maggie Fitzgerald) & Morgan Freeman (Scrap). DIRECTOR - Clint Eastwood Million Dollar Baby may be set in the boxing ring but that's not what it is really about. The struggle for success between the ropes is a metaphor for the struggle to achieve success and a sense of self-worth in life itself. Million Dollar Baby is a story from the heart that will make you laugh, cry and think as the trials and tribulations of the main protagonists unfold. In typical Eastwood fashion the directorial hand is a feint jab. Eastwood has enough confidence in the material and the performances to let them deliver the knockout punch without adding superflurious directorial sunker punches. The performances are brilliant. Hilary Swank epitomizes what great acting is supposed to be in her riveting portrayal of a young lady who refuses to succumb to the society's low expectations for her. John Wayne would be impressed with the "grit" she demonstrates in the process. There has been some controvesy regarding the ending of Million Dollar Baby. Without giving the ending away it is safe to say that these critics miss the point completely. The film is not a referendum on a particular social issue. It is simply an eloquent examination of a man dealing with a crushing burden of guilt arising from past and current mistakes. Million Dollar Baby is worth its weight in gold. Running time - 133 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Wed, 09 Feb 2005 18:56:29 GMT

MOVIE - HOTEL RWANDA - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Don Cheadle (Paul Rusesabagina), Sophie Okonedo (Tatiana), Nick Nolte (Col. Oliver) & Joaquin Phoenix (Jack). DIRECTOR/CO-WRITER - Terry George The most difficult hurdle films like Hotel Rwanda face is authentically conveying the full scope of the tradegy being recounted. Hotel Rwanda brings this deplorable genocide to life without undue sentimentality or in your face guilt. The facts, for the most part, are allowed to speak for themselves. Hotel Rwanda, in a similar vien to Schindler's List, tackles the tricky subject of the competing values of self-preservation and altruism when faced with unspeakable evil. Heroic efforts, more often than not, are originally motivated by selfishness. This impetus has multiple outcomes depending on the nature of the person these forces are applied to. The good join the forces of Light and lesser individuals become Storm Troopers for the forces of Darkness. The history of the world indicates, sadly, that there are more Storm Troopers than Knights in Shining Armour. Hotel Rwanda demonstrates the difference one person can make. Just think how different the outcome would have been, for untold thousands, if only a few more people and/or nations had lifted a finger to help. Running Time - 110 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Wed, 09 Feb 2005 18:00:33 GMT

MOVIE - FINDING NEVERLAND - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Johnny Depp (J. M. Barrie), Kate Winslet (Sylvia Llewelyn Davies), Radha Mitchell (Mary Ansell Barrie), Julie Christie (Emma du Maurier), Dustin Hoffman (Charles Frohman) & Freddie Highmore (Peter). DIRECTOR - Marc Forster Based on the Play "The Man Who was Peter Pan" by Allan Knee. This wholesome adventure breathes new life into the story of Peter Pan and will make both adults and children believe again. Depp turns in another brilliant off-beat performance. Running time - 101 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Wed, 09 Feb 2005 17:34:04 GMT

MOVIE - CLOSER - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$ (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Julia Roberts (Anna), Jude Law (Dan), Natalie Portman (Alice) & Clive Owen (Larry). DIRECTOR - Mike Nichols Love, of the untrue variety, is a minefield of emotions involving pride, hyprocrisy and self-delusion. Closer captures this bitter reality better than any recent similar film (See Wicker Park & We Don't Live Here Anymore). Julia Roberts gives her best performance in recent memory and Natalie Portman (Garden State) lights up the screen. Closer may be difficult for some to watch because both Love and Truth hurt. Running time - 101 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Wed, 08 Dec 2004 05:42:39 GMT

MOVIE - ALEXANDER - Review Rating $$ (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Colin Farrell (Alexander), Angelina Jolie (Olympias), Val Kilmer (King Philip), Jared Leto (Hephaistion), Rosario Dawson (Roxane), Anthony Hopkins (Old Ptolemy), & Christopher Plummer (Aristotle). DIRECTOR/CO-WRITER - Oliver Stone It's not surprising that Oliver Stone, the man who brought us Natural Born Killers, would want to get inside the head of one of history's greatest killers. What is surprising is what a poor job Stone did of making history, and Alexander, come alive. The story of Alexander, as presented by Stone, boils downs to having a Hollywood stage mother, a severe Oedipus complex, not knowing when to stop and an obsession with bisexuality. This psychological examination fails to capture one's imagination as a result of its shallow, repetitive and speculative nature. Being beat over the head with conjecture just isn't my idea of a good time. Lost in the psychological "intrigue" is a credible examination of the other historical factors that contributed to Alexander's rise to greatness. The opposing forces, decisive battles, with the exception of two major ones, and most of the Palace intrigue, are given short shrift. Stone even papers over most of Alexander's tyrannical war crimes with catchy brief rationalizations uttered by Sir Anthony Hopkins. This historical retrospective is about as fair and balanced as a typical Michael Moore documentary. Adding insult to injury is a cast, with the exception of Hopkins and Plummer, who are way out of their league. While Farrell is the current bad boy of Hollywood he has yet to live up to to his own hype. There's nothing in this performance that proves he is anything but a rather ordinary actor. Jolie is credible in her youth but less so as she ages and Kilmer isn't credible at all. All three lack the gravitas to play these characters. To be fair the script doesn't do them any favors. The only thing that Stone does accomplish, in Alexander, is to create a genuine appreciation of battle fatigue. At about the same time as Alexander is faced with a revolt within the ranks you too will be rising up demanding an end to this seemingly endless flaccid expose. Alexander is an epic waste of celluloid. Running time - 175 minutes Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Wed, 08 Dec 2004 04:44:17 GMT

MOVIE - SIDEWAYS - Review Rating $$$$$ $$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Paul Giamatti (Miles), Thomas Haden Church (Jack), Virginia Madsen (Maya), Sandra Oh (Stephanie), Marylouise Burke (Miles' mother) & Jessica Hecht (Victoria). DIRECTOR - Alexander Payne Sideways true strength is its attempt to infuse the buddy movie genre with insight instead of one liners. The bonds that tie these former college roommates together are very thin. This odd couple sticks by each other, through thick and thin, because they apparently don't have anyone else to cling too. That degree of honesty, in a "major motion picture", is refreshingly depressing. Sideways does have a few weaknesses. The degree of character development doesn't justify the two hour plus length of the movie. The wine aficionado subplot also lacks robustness. For all of the story's depth it fails to tackle the issue of alcoholism head on. Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) would also no doubt be appalled by the script's failure to even remotely suggest drinking and driving isn't a bright idea. Sideways, like a good wine, has to be savoured to be appreciated. Upon deeper introspection, however, you'll come to the conclusion that this offbeat buddy film needed a little more flavour to be considered a classic. Running time - 124 minutes Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Toatoes Review (image)

Sat, 20 Nov 2004 05:27:04 GMT

MOVIE - NATIONAL TREASURE - Review Rating $$$$$ $$ (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Nicolas Cage (Benj Gates), Harvey Keitel (Sadusky), Jon Voight (Patrick Gates), Diane Kruger (Abigail Chase), Sean Bean (Ian Howe), Justin Bartha (Riley Poole), David Dayan Fisher (Shaw) & Christopher Plummer (John Adams Gates). DIRECTOR - Jon Turteltaub The history of "Art" includes a sub-history of artful forgeries. Movies are "Art" of a particular form and National Treasure is, if nothing else, an artful forgery. There is nary an original idea in this film that borrows heavily from both The Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Da Vinci Code. In fact, National Treasure so completely rips off The Da Vinci Code that unknowing viewers, of the future movie based on that book, may well think it to be a forgery. The artfulness of this particular forgery lies in its pacing. The first hour goes by so quickly that you barely have time to ponder the gaping plot holes or lament the lack of significant character development. National Treasure does bog down a bit near the end and the conclusion is anti-climatic (the movie has happy ending written all over it) but it's nevertheless really hard to resist going along for the ride. Forgeries aren't as good as the real thing but National Treasure is at least smart enough to steal from the best and the end result is an entertaining, if unoriginal, movie. Running time - 100 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Fri, 12 Nov 2004 04:41:32 GMT

MOVIE - THE INCREDIBLES - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$ (OUT OF 10) VOICED BY - Craig T. Nelson (Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Helen Parr/Elastigirl), Samuel L. Jackson (Lucius Best/Frozone), Jason Lee (Buddy Pine/Syndrome), Wallace Shawn (Gilbert Huph), Sarah Vowell (Violet Parr), Spencer Fox (Dashiell (Dash) Parr), Brad Bird (Edna "E" Mode) & Elizabeth Pena (Mirage). DIRECTOR/WRITER - Brad Bird The Incredibles is the latest effort of the Pixar animation studio that has brought us previous animated hits like Toy Story and A Bug's Life. These movies, and other recent animated films like the Shrek series, have had two things in common: 1) better than average story lines with cross-generational appeal and 2) mind blowing graphics. The Incredibles has more and less of both. With each subsequent release of this new generation of animated films the "wow" factor is diminished. The story takes on greater importance as a result. The first half of The Incredibles is great stuff. A combination of Dilbertian drudgery, mid-life crisis and social commentary the story delivers rapid fire laughs and angst in equal measure. Its the second half of the movie that stumbles as it takes on an eerie resemblance to a Hollywood blockbuster action movie. The wit is replaced with action scenes, destined for inclusion in the subsequent video game, leading to the "thrilling" redemptive conclusion. While most of the animated movies follow the same formula, to be honest, the problem with The Incredibles is that it's more obvious. When the leading edge graphics no longer "wow" and the stories are no longer better than average the real appeal of these animated films disappear. The Incredibles is an entertaining movie that is slightly better than the average Hollywood film but not by an incredibly big margin. Running time - 115 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Mon, 01 Nov 2004 05:52:37 GMT

MOVIE - RAY - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$ (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Jamie Foxx (Ray Charles), Kerry Washington (Della Bea Robinson), Regina King (Margie Hendricks), Larenz Tate (Quincy Jones), Bokeem Woodbine (Fathead Newman), Sharon Warren (Aretha Robinson), Curtis Armstrong (Ahmet Ertegun), Warwick Davis (Oberon) & Richard Schiff (Jerry Wexler). DIRECTOR/CO-WRITER - Taylor Hackford Ray Charles's energy and pure talent shine brightly in this moving biographical tribute that is honest enough to document his womanizing and heroin abuse. Honesty isn't the equivalent of depth, however, and after watching "Ray" you may leave the theater feeling you still don't know the man, or those who shared his life, very well. Demons and distrust permeate the story and contradict the public image but they fail to fully convey the person. Ray's harsh coldness, at times, is displayed without being adequately explored. There is an underlying hard done-by bitterness, that runs through a life of otherwise unparalleled success, that is worthy of further retrospection. Jamie Foxx (Collateral), who is a classically trained pianist, gives his second brilliant performance this year and deserves the Oscar for this role. This comedian is a great serious actor. "Ray" the movie isn't as brilliant as Ray the man but its does do him justice. Running time - 152 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Mon, 01 Nov 2004 05:02:06 GMT

MOVIE - I HEART HUCKABEES - Review Rating $$$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Jason Schwartzman (Albert), Dustin Hoffman (Bernard), Isabelle Huppert (Caterine), Jude Law (Brad Stand), Lily Tomlin (Vivian), Mark Wahlberg (Tommy Corn) & Naomi Watts (Dawn). DIRECTOR/CO-WRITER - David O. Russell This well acted attempt at high brow comedy will have existentialists and philosophy professors rolling in the aisles and everyone else rushing for the exits. Your understanding of infinity, after watching I Heart Huckabees, will be limited to the discovery that, depending on the circumstances, 105 minutes can seem like a lifetime. I Heart Huckabees is a smart comedy that forgets to be funny. Running time - 105 minutes ALTERNATIVE REVIEWS: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Mon, 01 Nov 2004 04:33:13 GMT

MOVIE - TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE - Review Rating $$$$$ $$ (OUT OF 10) VOICED BY - Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller and Daran Norris. DIRECTOR/CO-WRITER - Trey Parker The "creative" minds behind South Park produce a crude, rude, grossly oversimplified take on world affairs that is, surprisingly, mildly thought provoking. They deserve kudos for being smart enough, unlike some world leaders, to figure out which tyrant is the greatest threat to world peace and for the funniest sex scene in movie history. World Police would have been much better, however, if Parker et al could have resisted their tendency to rely on gratuitous vulgarity. That being said, World Police is both funny and smart. Running time - 98 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Mon, 11 Oct 2004 18:29:11 GMT

MOVIE - FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$ (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Billy Bob Thornton (Coach Gaines), Lucas Black (Mike Winchell), Garrett Hedlund (Don Billingsley), Derek Luke (Boobie Miles), Jay Hernandez (Brian Chavez), Lee Jackson (Ivory Christian), Lee Thompson Young (Chris Comer), Tim McGraw (Charles Billingsley) & Grover Coulson (L.V. Miles). DIRECTOR/CO-WRITER - Peter Berg Football (U.S. style) has been described as "war by other means". In Friday Night Lights the analogy is expanded to make high school football synonymous with our entire lives. It's a postulation worthy of consideration by both fans of the game and those who think a zebra is just an animal. The true strength of Friday Night Lights is that, for the most part, it presents the hypothesis without reaching a conclusion for the viewer. In the process the movie presents a realistic view of the remoteness of future stardom. Glory may be achieved but it will most likely be short-lived and come at a significant cost. The scariest aspect of Friday Night Lights is the suggestion that success must be achieved on the high school gridiron because it may be your one and only chance to be a hero before the responsibilities of adulthood wear you down. The film asks the question whether the best years of our lives are already behind us or whether we need to redefine those activities that should be glorified This, and other questions poised by Friday Night Lights, make it a movie worth seeing for sport fans and non-fans alike. Running time - 117 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Fri, 01 Oct 2004 17:44:06 GMT

MOVIE - SHAUN OF THE DEAD - Review Rating $$$$$ $$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Simon Pegg (Shaun), Kate Ashfield (Liz), Nick Frost (Ed), Lucy Davis (Dianne), Dylan Moran (David) & Nicola Cunningham (Mary) DIRECTOR/WRITER - Edgar Wright Never before, in the history of cinema, has so much effort been put into disguising a romantic comedy/ buddy film. The effort put into the back story, the attack of the zombies, both helps and hurts Shaun of the Dead. The "help" arrives in the form of the understated similarity of Shaun's current lifestyle and the mindlessness of the zombie's themselves. The zombies provide numerous opportunities for humorous escapades. The "hurt" results from the fact that the Shaun of the Dead is one of the few movies where the back story is so well done that it begins to intrude upon, and at times overwhelm, the frat boy humour that propels the rest of the movie. This is an inconsistency that leaves the viewer, especially those who enjoy films like28 Days Later, wanting a greater exploration of the moral dilemmas posed by the subplot from a movie that is not willing to provide them. Shaun of the Dead is a deadly serious comedy. Oxymoron's are only so funny. Running time - 99 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Sun, 19 Sep 2004 07:22:09 GMT

MOVIE - SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW - Review Rating $$$$$ $$ (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Jude Law (Sky Captain), Gwyneth Paltrow (Polly Perkins), Angelina Jolie (Capt. Franky Cook), Giovanni Ribisi (Dex Dearborn), Michael Gambon (Editor Morris Paley), Ling Bai (Assassin) & Omid Djalili (Kaji). DIRECTOR/WRITER - Kerry Conran (debut) The real strength of Sky Captain is its use of a new CGI technology, developed by director/writer Conran, that allows the imaginary to become real. The entire movie, except for the actors, is one large special effect. The immersiveness of this new technology is so complete that Sky Captain's special effects are only obvious on a self-conscious level. This provides Conran the opportunity to conjure up completely believeable worlds filled with a variety of monters that never seem artifical though in the back of your mind you know they are. These images also have a mesmerizing effect that engulfs the viewer in this artifical landscape and makes you either ignore or forgive the numerous plot holes. The story of Sky Captain, a loving ode to the sci-fi films of yore, isn't on a par with the special effects and the mood they create but its good enough to keep the other side of your brain interested. The actors play their larger than life movie hero throwbacks with the required swagger. Sky Captain is a movie that is more likely to be appreciated than outright loved but its worth the price of admission. Running time - 107 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Wed, 08 Sep 2004 04:52:31 GMT

MOVIE - WICKER PARK - Review Rating $$$$ (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Josh Hartnett (Matthew), Rose Byrne (Alex), Diane Kruger (Lisa), Matthew Lillard (Luke), Jessica Pare (Rebecca), Stefanie Buxton (Ticket Agent) & Gillian Ferrabee (Robin). DIRECTOR - Paul McGuigan Love has been described as a many splendid thing but you wouldn't know it from watching Wicker Park. Love is presented as a one dimensional beast. If your not obsessed and prepared to to act on your obsession, in very dubious ways, your not in love according to Wicker Park. The obsessed also apparently don't act rationally. Our hero, Matthew (Harnett), refuses to follow his girl to London, where he knew she abruptly went, but two years later is prepared to sacrifice career, reputation and risk being charged with any number of offenses to track down his true love. The contrivances and "plot twists" are so numerous in this movie that they become laughable (and the audience I watched with did indeed giggle). Those looking for steaming romance will be disappointed as well. This is PG obsession with only a few very brief wardrobe malfunctions. Wicker Park had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't wait for it to end and make a quick exit. Running time - 115 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Mon, 06 Sep 2004 02:15:25 GMT

MOVIE - MARIA FULL OF GRACE - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria), Yenny Paola Vega (Blanca), Giulied Lopez (Lucy), John Alex Toro (Franklin), Patricia Rae (Carla) & Wilson Guerrero (Juan). DIRECTOR/WRITER - Joshua Marston America is often referred to as the "land of opportunity". Opportunity fuels desire. Those that have opportunities often waste them on desires of the self-indulgent variety. Those who don't have opportunities, and wish they did, often find themselves enslaved in the service of those who do and to their own desires for upward mobility. Maria Full of Grace, without an ounce of sentimantality or undue glorification, puts a very human face on the drug mules who facilitate the cocaine trade. In so doing, it artfully makes the point that excessive disparity in the number of economic opportunities, between the have's and the have not's, helps to make the trade in illicit dugs both possible and profitable. The war on drugs will never be successful unless the root causes of the problem are addressed in a meaningful way. America, which champions and exports its "dreams", on a global basis, must assume some responsibility for those who adopt these values but have no legitimate means to achieve them. Failure to do so only perpetuates the vicious cycle of exploitation that ensnares the givers and receivers of the drug world. The Maria's of the world are, sadly, a dime a dozen. Candidates for exploitation, many will be arrested and more will endure less glamourous fates. But, they'll keep on coming if attitudes and policies don't change. Maria Full of Grace attempts to explain, but not excuse, why many choose to be drug mules. In putting a face on the villified it seeks to shake up your preconceptions. It's a worthy cause and a film worthy of seeing. Running time - 109 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Sun, 05 Sep 2004 00:27:40 GMT

MOVIE - HERO - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING -Jet Li (Nameless), Tony Leung (Broken Sword), Maggie Cheung (Flying Snow), Zhang Ziyi (Moon), Chen Dao Ming (King of Qin) & Donnie Yen (Long Sky). DIRECTOR/CO-WRITER - Zhang Yimou Hero is not just another karate movie. Rather, it is a very compelling morality tale that happens to showcase the artistry of the martial arts. Those that do not enjoy martial arts will still be impressed with the highly choreographed fight scenes. Set against majestic backdrop these scenes, as in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", are meant to symbolize the underlying angst the characters are struggling with as well as the symmetry of the martial arts. Some may wish that these scenes were devoid of gravity defying feats, myself included, but they remain mesmerizing. Hero's real strength lies in its excellent story. The irony of most conflicts is that the opponents profess to be righteously defending their enlightened beliefs through the use of violence. Hero forcefully argues there is, in the tradition of Gandhi et al, a better way. We often make the mistake of limiting our definition of hero to those who die in a blaze of glory and/or triumphantly ride off into the sunset. The truth is that the definition of a hero is much broader and many other forms of sacrifice are equally heroic. In our tumultuous times this is a powerful message that bears heeding whether your a leader of a nation or merely trying to coexist with your neighbors. Hero reaffirms the notion that the word is mightier than the sword and that a "sensitive" approach is often the wiser course of action. Running time - 96 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Mon, 30 Aug 2004 21:34:20 GMT

MOVIE - WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE - Review Rating $$$$$ (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Mark Ruffalo (Jack Linden), Laura Dern (Terry Linden), Peter Krause (Hank Evans), Naomi Watts (Edith Evans), Sam Charles (Sean Linden), Haili Page (Natasha Linden) & Jennifer Bishop (Sharon Evans). DIRECTOR - John Curran Another movie on the subject of adultery that can't quite bring itself to suggest that its a bad thing. Indeed, of the two couples portrayed experiencing matrimonial difficulties, one couple is brought closer together as a result of their mutual affairs and the other long suffering but cheating spouse is "liberated" by her extra-martial dalliance. We Don't Live Here Anymore's moral compass is guided by the principle "it must be okay since everybody is doing it". While the film offers various rationales for justifying cheating (revenge, lack of attention etc) it never even remotely suggests that fidelity, trust and sticking to your principles are important values. The one bright spot in the movie is that its well acted though you'll find yourself wondering how these married couples with children find so much free time to carry on their respective affairs. We Don't Live Here Anymore is neither insightful nor that entertaining. Running time - 101 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Sun, 22 Aug 2004 22:24:11 GMT

MOVIE - GARDEN STATE - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Zach Braff (Andrew Largeman), Natalie Portman (Sam), Peter Sarsgaard (Mark), Ian Holm (Gideon Largeman), Ron Leibman (Dr. Cohen) & Method Man (Diego). DIRECTOR/WRITER - Zach Braff (debut, star of T.V.'s Scrubs [NBC]) If you were thinking about not going to see Garden State because you think its just another romantic comedy you are making a big mistake. Garden State is a brilliant, quirky, comedic ode to life's struggles that just happens to include an offbeat PG rated romance. This is a date movie the Trailer Park Boys would enjoy. The real beauty of Garden State is its ability to repeatedly succintly summarize life's numerous trials and tribulations in fresh and hilarious ways. The film is smart enough, for the most part, not to flog any one joke for too long. Along the way you'll meet a host of characters you've encountered in one form or another unless you've led a very sheltered life. And unlike Napoleon Dynamite you'll be laughing with these characters as opposed to at them. The audience I watched the film with roared with preserve pleasure throughout the film. Garden State falters near the very end, as it tries to meaningfully wrap up its various themes, but what has come before is so rich and original that this lapse is forgiveable. Do yourself a big favor and go see Garden State. You'll be laughing all the way home. Running time - 109 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Sat, 21 Aug 2004 22:05:16 GMT

MOVIE - OPEN WATER - Review Rating $$$$$ $$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Blanchard Ryan (Susan), Daniel Travis (Daniel), Saul Stein (Seth), Estelle Lau (Estelle), Michael E. Williamson (Davis), John Charles (Junior) & Christina Zenaro (Linda). DIRECTOR/WRITER - Chirs Kentis Based on true events. Open Water reminded me of the ghost stories told around crackling fires on late summer eves when you were a child. As the story progresses you get caught up in the tale without realizing it. The shadows cast by the flickering flames take on ominous dimensions and you your skin tingles as the tension rises and you begin to believe in things that go bump in the night. As with all good ghost stories the tale contains sufficient attention to detail (i.e. a pointless arguement about who's to blame) to give added credence to the unfolding drama and acts as an ominous warning about potential dangerous real world behavior (the true underlying purpose of such tales). The only problem with Open Water is that, like campfire ghost stories, the degree it gets under your skin is highly dependent upon the atmosphere in which it is told. In the wilderness, a well-timed Owl's hoot or branches creaking in the wind can ratchet up the tension. Unfortunately, I watched the film with an audience that had several talkers and another group who laughed for 2 minutes at a brief scene of female nudity. Who you watch this movie with may effect your enjoyment of it. Open Water will rattle your nerves. (FYI - the sharks are real) Running time - 79 mins Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Mon, 09 Aug 2004 07:45:46 GMT

MOVIE - COLLATERAL - Review Rating $$$$$ $$$$ (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Tom Cruise (Vincent), Jamie Foxx (Max), Javier Bardem (Felix), Jada Pinkett Smith (Annie), Emilio Rivera (Paco), Barry Shabaka Henley (Daniel), Irma P. Hall (Max's mother). DIRECTOR - Michael Mann (Thief, Heat & The Insider) Collateral is a pleasure to watch because it relishes the opportunity to develop its characters. In the process Collateral proves that doing so can actually ratchet up the intensity of the action sequences that are "interrupted" in the process. The result, of taking the time to do it right, is that the characters drive the action as opposed to the other way around. Though both, Cruise and Foxx, turn in impressive performances it's Foxx's character (Max) that is more complex and undergoes a greater transformation during the evening. Foxx, better known as a comic actor, handles the transition magnificantly. Cruise, admirably, plays the cold-blooded assassin with subdued intensity. The performances of both actors lend credibility to the unfolding story. While there is murderous mayhem on tap Collateral is not just another "thriller" filled with car chases (there are none) and snappy one-liners. The movie also isn't filled with scenes obviously included to form the basis of a future video game. In the tradition, of Quentin Tarantino, Collateral is a thinking man's crime thriller. The movie does deviate, from its successful formula, in the rush to the dramatic conclusion and there are a few plot holes a long the way as well. Neither of these flaws is enough to distract from what is an otherwise excellent film. Collateral, simply put, is the best movie of the Summer of 2004. Running time - 119 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)

Fri, 06 Aug 2004 15:19:33 GMT

MOVIE - THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE - Review Rating $$$$$ $$1/2 (OUT OF 10) STARRING - Denzel Washington (Ben Marco), Meryl Streep (Eleanor Shaw), Liev Schreiber (Raymond Shaw), Kimberly Elise (Rosie), Vera Farmiga (Jocelyn Jordan) & Jon Voight (Senator Jordan). DIRECTOR - Jonathan Demme (Philadelphia, The Truth About Charlie, The Silence of the Lambs, Beloved & Married to the Mob) A remake of the 1962 film based on the novel by Richard Condon. The villains in the original book/film were Communist provacatuers. The end of the Cold War reqired a new villain for The Manchurian Candidate to remain relevant. Sadly, due to wide spread abuse of trust, corruption, scandals and out-right greed, Corporate America has proven itself to be a worthy replacement as the villain of choice for the new millenium. Ironic, to say the least. Reality gives the implausible plot of The Manchurian Candidate the required degree of credibility to be taken seriously. However, much of this credibility is squandered away. A few years back the major broadcast networks and their staffs were prohibited from participating in commercials films. It was felt, rightly or wrongly, that their presence would blur the line between fact and fiction. Thus, The Manchurian Candidate has to make due with pretend reporters (for the most part). This, combined with the monumental task of recreating a political convention, convincingly, and a few plot holes leads to large portions of The Manchurian Candidate coming off as unbelievable. The ying and yang between the great performances, political intrigue and unconvincing backdrops is disconcerting enough that it manages to lower the intensity level and impact of the film. Political junkies and conspiracy theorists will enjoy The Manchurian Candidate despite its flaws. Running time - 130 minutes Alternative Reviews: Roger Ebert's Review Peter Travers / Rolling Stone Review Rotten Tomatoes Reviews (image)