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Another FBI agent who's not just a pretty face.
"Vanished" falls under a new sub-genre of action/suspense fare created by "24" and "Prison Break." No new ground here, but worth a look, if you're into serialized stories rather than seven-year-soap-operas. I have seen only the season premier, so the data are definitely not in on this one. The premier episode of any TV series is usually a shake-down cruise; you get to know the premise, the actors, the style. Gale Harold, as the star FBI senior agent, is setting the action-hero style and tone of "Vanished" and if they'll just let him run with the character, this could become the best offbeat FBI-in-action since "Bones" or "Numbers". Check out "Vanished" and see if you don't come away curious to see where it all leads.

Listen Up

A cast that really clicks together!
I have watched all the "Listen Up" episodes to date. It started, as most TV sitcoms, rather slowly, but now the cast have hit their stride. The teenage son, Mickey, played by Will Rothhaar, has gradually become a main character of the ensemble cast. Rothhaar is a gifted comedian with truly inspired deadpan delivery. He's on his way to becoming a Major Talent, someday! The show's episodes are now well-crafted plots acted out by cast members who are really "clicking" together. In one recent episode, Mickey dated a girlfriend who turned out to be into Civil War Reenactment; she took him to Gettysburg in full 1860's regalia, and when he walked into the room dressed as a Confederate soldier, I nearly fell out of my recliner laughing. The look on his face was perfect! The boyfriend who can't believe he's really doing this for his girlfriend. Every show is a gem, now. Watch "Listen Up!" regularly and you'll find yourself becoming a delighted fan.

The Fast and the Furious

A rebuttal of Theo Robertson's critique.
The user comments by 36-year-old Theo Robertson of Isle of Bute, Scotland, are sort of valid, although he is very dismissive and critical of TFATF's plot and "product placement." Like it's a bad thing. Perhaps living on an island in Scotland does not equip one to understand or fairly "criticise" a southern Californian car-cult movie. And he's 36, "...too old to enjoy TFATF by about...oh, twenty years?" I am 61 and I thought it was a fun movie. In New Mexico, we know A LOT about custom cars, low-riders and high-riders, and we understand how (and WHY)one might put tens of thousands of dollars into creating a really boss machine. Sure, TFATF is pure science fiction, the science being the cars and the fiction being the likelihood of scores of custom race car afficionados being able to commandeer a "deserted" street for a midnight race. But yes, the car cult does cross race and ethnic lines, because it's all about the cars.... And so what if the film has a lot of "product placement"? Personally, I didn't even understand half of what the characters were talking about when it came to custom engine parts. The movie does one thing very well: it entertains. Obviously. There's a very successful sequel out now. Compared to other movies in its sub-genre, The Fast and The Furious deserves an 8 or 9.

Black Hawk Down

America's elite soldiers are the best!
I view Black Hawk Down as an extraordinary example of the high quality and overwhelming capabilities of America's modern military. The mission failed, but the members' performance of their "job" was inspiring. Thank god the US has such men, such amazing equipment, and such competent leadership at its disposal. (I thought the stupidity and incompetence of letting the White House micro-manage field operations on the other side of the world was demonstrated in Viet-Nam and Iran. Apparently, long-range political management of military missions still prevails. Alas.) BHD is a must-see for anyone wishing to see a very realistic depiction of modern warfare. It's not for the squeamish.

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Tales of Innocence

Engrossing, entertaining, surprisingly accurate
The first episode, in northern Italy, is light, romantic fare (Young Indy, what else?)delightful comedy. Indy does something heroic, but the main plot takes place in town, competing for Giuletta's attention. The second part, in Morocco, is back to James Bondian adventure, and is very well done. Indy, as an intelligence officer, discovers dirty doings in the Foreign Legion. Coincidentally, he romances Edith Wharton a la "40 Carats" (See it. You'll love it!) Some women, perhaps twentysomethings, may not like (or understand) the "May/December" romance of a twentysomething Indy for a fortysomething Edith, but it's truly moving. This is Episode 16. What can 17 hold in store?

Relax... It's Just Sex

Surprisingly good. Give it a chance!
This movie follows nine characters (four couples and one "loner") in their relationships to each other and to their "extended family." The first 20 minutes, you wonder, "Where are they going with this? Gay couples, straight couples?" Then, something really, really dramatic happens and the plot takes off like a rocket. This movie doesn't end up anywhere near where you thought it would from the beginning! See it! Don't worry about the "nudity" and "sex" warnings at the beginning -- the scenes are explicit but very artistic and underplayed. The real story is elsewhere. Surprisingly good. Give it a chance!

Drôle de Félix

A very believable story, just the way it could happen.
This is a charming film, very believable, just the way it could happen. Felix may be HIV+, but that is not exactly the issue here (he practices very safe sex). It's just a young man's odessy to find his biological father. Don't worry, it's a five-day trip. And, he interacts with some very interesting people. Very French. Very European in its conceit. I am 59 and if I were twenty-something again, I might try, like Felix, to find my biological father in much the same way. I would hope I could meet a "grand-mere" as delightful as Felix did. Felix is HIV+, but that is not the issue here -- it's more about a gay youngman's five-day odyssey. In the end, well, you will have enjoyed it all, but perhaps you won't know exactly why.


The fun in this movie is predicting which characters will get eaten and in what order.
So bad, it's entertaining, especially during cocktail hour, and believe me, you'll need a beer, a drink, or whatever to get through this turkey. Where do they get the financial backing for such paint-by-the-numbers "horror" flicks? The fun in this movie is predicting which characters will get eaten and in what order, and trashing the so-called "uniforms" the "military" jokers wear. The raptors, by the way, are not the same raptors we met in "Jurassic Park," but a cousin species. (Sorry, no spoilers here. You'll have to watch it to find out for yourself) Don't expect the plot to make sense, simple as it is, just go along for the ride. You could make it a game... take another drink each time you hear a certain sound... or better yet, every time someone gets crunched by a "raptor." With a little luck, you won't even remember having seen this "C-grade" made-for-TV movie!

The Musketeer

A Saturday afternoon matinee movie in the old tradition!
This movie's detractors seem to miss the point. The Musketeer is not a re-telling of the great Three Musketeers story. It is simply a story set in the TM universe. It has great costuming, sets, and photography. The plot and acting are certainly sufficient to entertain. I mean, hey people, this is Saturday afternoon matinee fare and it's fun! Alexandre Dumas (pere) would approve!

Free Enterprise

Almost everything you need was in Star Trek -- Almost.
I was there when Star Trek premiered. While I'm not exactly a Trekkie/Trekker, I have 40 years of reading and watching sci-fi. Yes, "Free Enterprise" is a flawed movie (too long, slow pacing) but strangely compelling. Offers you a chance to see Eric McCormack before he become "Will" of "Will & Grace," same shtick, only not gay. Two almost 30-trekkers encounter Bill Shatner, and their lives are changed forever. They grow up, finally. Shatner is surprisingly good, playing himeself, playing himself. If you're not familiar with sci-fi stuff in general, skip "Free Enterprise;" you won't get it at all. If you are a sci-fi nut, you'll love it, even if it is too long.

The Whole Nine Yards

See it, you'll love it!
How much trouble can a mousy dentist in Montreal get into? According to The Whole Nine Yards, a lot! This is one of the funniest movies of all times. If Matthew Perry made no other movie but this one, his reputation as a master comedian would be secure forever. I'm not an artsy critic -- I just know a great, fun movie when I see one. And I almost fell out of my chair several times from laughing, laughing til it hurt! See it! You'll love it!


Second son survives in Victorian saga, but why?
"Basil" is a curiously compelling film. I rented it purely because it "looked Victorian" and I was in the mood for something different. It turned out to be very Victorian, a family saga set somewhere in the 19th Century. Wealthy, but not titled, father has two sons. His pompous and hypocritical Victorian "family values" provide the dramatic force for the story -- otherwise, it's just a bland Harlequin-type romance. The father's confrontations with sons over women end each time with decisions totally alien to our modern sensibilities. Very jarring. Jared Leto as Basil is a little strained in his acting, but always nice to look at. C. Slater is surprisingly (and obviously) good in this "historical" role, and he has a secret which provides a twist near the end. The end itself provides a strange turn that may make you wonder if Basil wouldn't have been happier in a new-age commune in modern New Mexico. Of course, it is basically a chick-flick....

Battlefield Earth

Better than the critics say and worth a look!
I honestly don't understand why the critics have gone out of their way to be so unkind to Battlefield Earth. With 43 years of science fiction reading and movie-going behind me, I think B.E. is a rousing sci-fi adventure movie that does one thing very well: it entertains you. Its gritty view of the future gives you an idea of what being conquered by plundering aliens might do to the Earth. It's set in the year 3000, a thousand years after the aliens arrived -- man has become "man-animal." B.E. is simply 18th Cen European colonialism in a futuristic setting. To get into the spirit of B.E., you have to suspend credulity and go with the flow... Don't get sidetracked with "But that can't happen," or "They couldn't do that in 7 days!" Sure, Harrier jets would not be able to fly after a 1,000 years (or even ten years) of neglect. The alien humor in B.E. is right on -- the Psychlos (why not spelled "Syklos"?) comment about and treat the man-animals exactly the same way the British did the wogs in India. Battlefield Earth deserves a look -- Don't expect Blade Runner, just let it entertain you!


Canibalism as a social disease
One of the finest (if one may use that term in this context) horror movies I've ever seen. Right up front, I seriously warn you to not see this movie if very graphic, very realistic gore upset you. If this movie were a chile, it would be rated a 10. On a horror meter, I would rate it a 10, and I can think of no other horror movie I would rate so high. In Albuquerque, Ravenous carries a PG-13 rating, something which seemed horribly out of synch with the reality of a movie that shows butchered body parts. I see from imdb's listing that it should carry an "R". Do not take young children to this movie! That said, let me assure you that the "dark comedy" epitaph fits it to a t-bone. Guy Pearce is an incredible actor (remember him in Priscilla, Q of the D? Well, you ain't ready for him in this kind of a movie.) Capt Boyd (GP) is such a wimp, at first you're hoping he'll get consumed first -- but he's the "hero," so everyone else ends up in the pot before the final confrontation between good and evil. Can't give away the plot, but I wonder, why didn't the Indians hightail it out of there when they first realized who was coming to dinner?

The acting is superb. The plot works. But it's a heavy, heavy movie.

Veronica's Closet

In step with the 30-something white collars and bras
Veronica's Closet is a sophisticated "sitcom," obviously aimed at the thirtysomething, fortysomething demographics. A lot of its humor is probably too subtle for the x-gen, even the high school graduates. Kirstie Alley and Kathy Najimy are old pros who play off one another with a grace and professionalism that's a joy to watch. Ron Silver was probably brought in to add star quality to the production and he succeeds admirably. His style is definitely "old school suave and debonair." Dan Cortese, Wallace Langham, and Daryl Mitchell provide the thirtysomething flavor, sexy young men who fill three slots: darkly handsome, boy-next-door, and even more darkly sexy. The humor is right on, just what you'd expect in a workplace called Veronica's Closet.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back

Relationships are in the head, not the heart.
I am a happily married male. When I was 40, I had a wonderful relationship like Stella's, and it was very natural and laid-back. Stella is every man's dream of the perfect mate, and Winsten is certainly too good to be true, but he's definitely every woman's dream come true, no matter what the respective ages. This film goes on a little too long, but it's so sweet and so lush in its photography, you forgive it. Whoopie Goldberg did a marvelous "supporting" role (I think the movie had 3 stars, not just 2). It's definitely a date movie AND a romantic Saturday night "late dinner movie" for old married folks.

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