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Dead by Midnight

A Hilarious Comedy!
hahahaholycowthat'shystericalheheheehcan'tstoplaughingsomeonehelpmehehehehe! = My reaction to this entire TV movie. This is a hysterical laugh-out-loud yuckfest.

The fact that it's a drama makes it even funnier. I make a point not to review made-for-television movies since they're obviously low-budget time fillers that don't aspire to be anything more. But this one is the King. Truly an exceptional work. The acting is a step below atrocious, like watching a high school play, only slightly worse. Then there are the golden nuggets of dialogue destined to cause a couple of laughter-induced hernias:

"Are you telling me you've lost control of my precious creation?" "I have the right to know who I am!" "Those were my eyes he pleaded with!"

The plot is so ridiculous it's fabulous...I've seen more complex commercials. The most intriguing question here is WHY did Academy Award-winning actor Timothy Hutton resort to this trash, and why has his acting deteriorated to the point of idiocy?

It's too bad Mystery Science Theater is now defunct. They could have had a field day with this.

A Beautiful Mind

Let me tell you just how good "A Beautiful Mind" really is. I have a kidney disorder that makes it necessary for me to visit the restroom every hour. I was on the verge of exploding halfway through this movie and yet I didn't move for fear of missing even three minutes of this fascinating event. (As soon as the closing credits rolled, I ran.)

"Mind's" greatest achievement, in my humble opinion, is the way it makes schizophrenia accessible to sane people. The general public knows schizophrenics tend to talk to themselves, repeat certain actions and do things generally at odds with the norm. But why? It's nearly impossible for a sane individual to understand why this happens...and more importantly, what that feels like. Without this essential empathy, many people become frustrated with the mentally ill, asking why patients can't pull themselves together and just bear up. We express this same impatience with the criminally insane who act upon delusions with disastrous results. It is incomprehensible.

"Mind" does all it can to change that, and it succeeds. Unless you are familiar with John Nash's story, you probably won't guess he's schizophrenic until partway into the movie. He's eccentric, abrupt, and highly intelligent, but doesn't seem crazy. The reason: His delusions are as real as reality to Nash, and likewise, they are real to the audience. *(SPOILER)* I suspected the decoding fantasies weren't real, especially when Nash began postering the walls with newspaper clippings. But his fictictious roommate threw me---and there is the point. The audience is just as fooled by the delusion as Nash is, who cannot tell the difference between truth and delusion.

Incidentally, I came across a professional review that blasted "Mind" for including "all that spying stuff that had nothing to do with Nash's work that was thrown in for Hollywood thrill." I feel badly for that chap, since he missed the entire point of the film. But that just proves Ron Howard's genius in creating a picture of insanity indistinguishable from reality.

There are some truly shocking moments in "Mind." When Alicia finds her husband's secret cache of newspaper clippings behind their house, I was eerily reminded of Jack Nicholson's wife in "The Shining" discovering his endless, typewritten pages of the same phrase. The scene that follows, culminating with Nash's realization that his delusions are indeed a false reality is brilliant. In a moment, remembering "Marcie," Nash has a flash of insight, and he finally accepts his illness--ironically, through his intellect.

When Nash imagines that someone is going to kill Alicia, he lunges at her--and only through his eyes do we see how a seemingly senseless actof violence is a gesture of love, filtered through the smog of delusion.

Now my take on the acting: Superb in every sense of the word. Russell Crowe sure knows his trade. There's never any question about the authenticity of his character, although the accent wasn't consistant. Crowe doesn't rely on his elaborate makeup to age Nash---his walk, words, and voice do that elegantly in the movie's end. Crowe will probably get at least another Oscar nomination out of this one. Heck, he might even win it again.

Ed Harris is, as always, perfect. Harris continues to be one of my favorite actors, simply because he's flawless. With delusions like these, no wonder Nash was torn between treatment and "spying."

I hope people see this film. Not just because Russell Crowe is cute or because it's a Ron Howard piece, but because you will learn something important. You will learn why compassion is an absolute must when dealing with the mentally ill. You won't glare at the next person you see muttering to themself. And when someone you love is dealing with a disorder, be it schizophrenia or depression, you won't ask them to "pull themself together." You will understand why they need your love--because they are just as confused as you are.

Dead by Sunset

Read the book
If you enjoy true crime (well, as much as anyone can "enjoy" it) read Ann Rule's book by the same name. The movie is a typical Lifetime production (overwrought acting, breathlessly uttered corny lines, and a truly laughable soundtrack.) Brad Cunningham seems like a villain that could only exist in a TV movie, but sadly, he really did the monstrous acts portrayed. Read the book, which goes into far greater detail and will leave you wondering how anyone could be this evil.

The Dead Zone

Stephen King Cameo?!?
Other users have graciously critiqued this movie, and I agree with the majority in saying it's a wonderful, creepy movie. (It had the same effect on me as "American Beauty"...I just couldn't get it out of my head afterwards.) So I won't repeat the same praises. But I do want to point out what I think was Stephen King's customary cameo. I was looking hard for his face, and although it seems odd I think he was the seriel killer--but just in the glimpse of him in the gazebo, when he rips off the hat. Look for it; I could be mistaken but it sure looks like the master of horror!

Atomic Train

For lack of a harsher adjective, this movie was bad. I suppose you're not surprised, considering it's a TV movie with the requisite impossible plot, wimpy soundtrack and endless....endless.......poor writing.

My only question: Why on earth did Mena Suvari do this movie?

Ein Toter hing im Netz

Gee, a REAL classic!
I make it a point to occasionally review a truly awful movie, and Spider Island certainly fits the bill. The only way on God's green earth I'd recommend watching it is on Mystery Science Theater. The blistering wisecracks highlight and mock this horror of a movie, which is really quite funny when the women start making idiots out of the female race. Other than that, don't watch Spider Island--opt for watching apples rot, or something of comprable excitement

Dead Again

Dead at the end
Dead Again is a hammy name for a melodramatic farce. I never would have rented it, but I saw its trailer on another video and thought it looked interesting. That it is, but I found myself losing interest and faith in the last half-hour. (I will not reveal it, for there IS a good plot twist leading up to it.)

Dead Again sports many familiar faces: Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson (real life husband-and-wife), Wayne Knight (Newman in a reincarnation flick??!), and even Robin Williams (who knew?) Branagh is especially charming as Roman--his meeting with pianist Margaret while madly directing the symphony is memorable. But although Dead Again serves up some very inventive, creative moments, the final scene was hideously overdone and much too melodramatic. The slow motion sequences never settle well with me, and here they only highlighted the incredulity.

However, Roger Ebert gave Dead Again four stars, so many people will enjoy it. I did, up until that unbelievable finale. Afterwards I did get to thinking (and I say a movie is only good if it makes you think.) So if "fate" really determines who we meet, who we will spend eternity with, and we DO have multiple incarnations, then that creep who followed me around downtown last week will keep coming back, and back....and back.....???


Get one!
Clue is just down right hysterical. Not only do we recognise most of the faces in the dinner party, the writing is fabulously on target. The dialogue and one-lines fly fast and furiously. Tim Curry displays enormous, very entertaining energy near the end trying to explain what happened(choreographed to music, very funny) while the rest of the cast shout unison retorts. It's great. The multiple endings are hammy and hilarious.

Independence Day

ID4 isn't meant to be a thinking person's movie. You don't hold life-altering discussions afterward. It IS, however, a roller-coaster ride with plenty of dips and loops to make it worthwhile. Roger Ebert described it as "silly summer fun," and that it is. Much of the story remains under-developed (I wanted to know where those beastly little b***ers came from) but the triumphant spirit in the end really is something.

ID4 also boasts an impressive ensemble of big-name performers. Will Smith demonstrates he's a darn funny guy. Bill Pullman carrys himself and his charisma much like the ideal President should--(and whether it's formulatic or not, you've gotta love it when he takes to the skies with the rest of humanity.) Brent Spiner--Star Trek's Data without the gold makeup, throws in a colored cameo as an underground mad scientist type. Harry Connick, Jr. is as suave as ever. Judd Hirsch is Jewish. And of course anything with Jeff Goldblum in it won't be a total loss. Also, watch for the actor who plays Mr. Nubicki (Bill Pullman fires him in the end.) I swear he's the biggest character actor in Hollywood today--he's everywhere! (Basic Instinct, The Game, several others I can't remember...)

I also liked the cute tie-in to Jurassic Park. When fleeing the Mothership, Jeff Goldblum repeats his same line from the dino-fleeing scene in JP: Must Go Faster! Who thought of that one??

A final note: Independence Day really is a decent film as far as action blockbusters go. You do develop some caring for the characters, and the idea of all humanity teaming up against E.T. from Hell is heartening. Watch Armageddon and you'll feel like nominating ID4 for an Oscar.

A Grand Day Out

Although A Grand Day Out is arguably the weakest of the three existing Wallace and Gromit films, it's still very funny, and very entertaining. This was my first W and G experience. I heard the uncontrolled sounds of hysterical laughter from my family in the next room as a refrigerator on the moon dreamt of skiing down slopes (don't ask, watch.) Everyone, from ages 3-103 will be at least slightly amused by any W and G skit. I also recommend A Close Shave and The Wrong Trousers, which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Basic Instinct

Basically trash
I am one of the few females actually reviewing this film on IMDb, and the obvious reason for that is Sharon Stone. The guys claim she's the only reason to watch Basic Instinct. I suppose. I couldn't think of ANY, unless you're a very lonely person who likes garbage that should have been rated NC-17 as was originally intended. This movie is labeled "soft porn"--a conservative title at that. Anything erotic that happens here is simple that--it's emotionless, loveless, and inhuman. Seeing two big-name actors portray the most primative of all human drives is fine--as long as it's in the Back Room: Must Be 18 to Enter section. This porn masquerades as a mystery-thriller. The end shot, built up to be the best surprise ending, isn't a surprise. Nor does it matter. Anyone could've done it. Plus, Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas are wickedly uninvolving as the leads. Stone's character is far more developed, and Douglas's cop-turned-wrong-turned-good is left with so many blanks we still know too little about him in the end to care. I am not a staunch feminist who retches at the sight of any passion in movies. No. But the violent sex is the sole reason for this movie. The film has nothing to do with love, only hormones.

Solar Crisis

Crisis is right
What was Charlton Heston thinking when he signed up for this disaster?? Alright, I'll be fair. I rented Solar Crisis (translation: wasted a buck) with an open mind. It had an interesting plot, so it seemed, and some famous guys. So there must be something there. Man oh man was I wrong. I realized that with the opening scene in which cheap subtitles scrolled across the screen, describing the Impeding Doom of Earth. To make matters worse, a voice-over further insulted my intelligence by reading the words too. Gee, since I was dumb enough to rent the film, they must figure I can't read either. Then came the real blow: The weak, weak acting (usually showcased by laughably over-dramatic monologues) coupled with the bland, bland writing, strewn together with the lousy, lousy soundtrack make for one nose-wrinkling mess. Dr. Haas was especially bad, as was the ship's commander whose name escapes me. We are treated to such memorable lines as: "Our only security blanket out there is ourselves" and the immortal "I'm the only one who can ever free you!" Please. Free me, for the love of God.

Dial M for Murder

Good, but linear
While it's not my favorite Hitchcock classic, Dial M for Murder is a decent film in its own right. Grace Kelly, a charming actress of times gone by, is at her shining best. The suspense near the end scene is palpable and raw--a splendid trademark of Hitch's terse directorial style. However, Murder simply lacked the complexity of Vertigo and Psycho. We knew the motive, we knew the method, we just didn't know if the rest of the cast would eventually know.

The Crying Game

Thought-provoking and bizarre
A very shocking and disturbing movie, The Crying Game was not at all what I expected. Set in the heated world of IRA terrorists, the film introduces us to Fergis, a kidnaper who loves his country but finds he can't kill for it. His friendship with his hostage, played by Forest Whitaker, is convincing, and indeed a thought-provoking idea. When Whitaker is killed, it is a riveting, surprising, but somehow grateful tragedy: Fergis did not have to face his conflict and shoot him.

Perhaps the most shocking moment in the movie (okay, it definitely IS the most shocking) is that abrupt scene between Fergis and his man-woman. I had thankfully NOT seen a review of this movie before renting it, so my surprise was sudden and complete. Fergis's reaction to this strange "discovery" is understandable, and although he still cares for Dil, it is in a different way than before. This situation left me wondering how exactly one would deal with that; Dil suggests that Fergis kiss her and "pretend," when he obliges she encourages more, and Fergis acknowledges, "I can't pretend that far." Dil's hidden sexuality is foreshadowed subtlely by clues I missed the first time around: Jody mentions Jude "wasn't his type," Dil stops Fergis from going too far while kissing (so when she insists he knew she was a man, we are led to believe he did not know--she wouldn't let him know.)

However one may dwell on the unusual relationship defined in The Crying Game, there are other issues at stake here: the fight for humanity and country, the choice between one's self and one's love, the conflict between freedom and righteousness. This movie presents such a tangible taste of these moral dilemmas, I recommend it to all.

Citizen Kane

For all generations
Some of my generation have pegged Citizen Kane as boring and out-dated. Perhaps it is like Crime and Punishment or some equally long and laborious book: it is important, revolutionary, but not thrilling if you aren't completely into that kind of thing. However, as an American I thought it my duty to watch Citizen Kane, which is considered a "timeless classic." Incidentally, Kane is Number One on the AFI Top 100 list--bu the best movie of all time did not even receive the Oscar that year!!! This certainly exemplifies the differences in opinion here. I enjoyed this movie because of its tragic nature: Kane's sad fall from grace and innocence, brought on by the lust for power and wealth. At one point, Kane says, " yes, I bought many...things." And he sounds regretful. I suddenly realized we do buy so many things that do NOT bring us the happiness we anticipated. Kane lacks the one thing he cannot buy-love, and ultimately no one can survive without it.

Perhaps the most famous scene in all of cinematic history, the closing shot of the Rosebud sled is at once the saddest and most riveting I believe I've seen. In that moment we see how that young boy in the snow, ripped from his parents, succombed to corruption and greed, and died as alone as he felt when taken from his parents.

The Long, Long Trailer

from TV to the big screen...Lucy's still funny
I'm a die-hard fan of I Love Lucy, so I was bound to love Trailer. Even if you're not a Lucy fanatic, if you enjoy the cheerful, Technicolor innocence of the 1950's, you'll love Trailer. The plot's central idea--carting a 40-ft train of a trailer up a mountain, through rosebushes and along a muddy logging road--is pure Lucy shtick. I've seen the movie so many times, heard that annoying-as-hell doorbell as much, that I sometimes feel I've actually lived in that all-metal monster. It's sunny, light-hearted comedy at its innocuous best.

Single White Female

SWF ISO better resolution
Single White Female begins innocuously, delves into something dark and fascinating, then resorts to a typical slasher-style ending. I was ultimately disappointed with the film, as the deaths incurred here were predictable. But SWF is still an interesting character study about two roommates, seemingly opposite, who eventually look like twins when Hedra/Ellie desperately changes herself to become Allie's double. She is possessive, insecure, lonely, and destructive. I thought this was the real focus of the story, and I wish the ending would have dealt more specifically with that instead of the expected battle. I find this movie especially disconcerting since I am soon to be in college and confined to a very small room with someone I know nothing about. Needless to say, SWF struck a rather sinister nerve.

Night Train to Mundo Fine

The only hope
Only watch Red Zone Cuba in MST3K. This is a truly pathetic movie and only by severely mocking it will one ever escape suicidal tendancies.

Back to the Future Part III

the grand finale!??
I'm not a fan of Westerns, so BTTF3 isn't among my favorite of films. But since it's the finale to one of my beloved trilogies, I often watch it after the other two for a sense of closure.

We aren't treated to much time-hopping paradoxes here as in the first two--and that's where the main fault lies. Suddenly, the movie isn't nearly as inventive as the first two because of that missing element. It resorts to cliches of the Old West (saloon hostilities, shootouts at high noon, hey, Marty introduces himself as Clint Eastwood) instead of its creative time-warp adventure. The sense of urgency is lost here, as there's no chance Marty will run into himself. However, it's not a bad film in its own right, since we love the characters by now and we desperately want them to get themselves out of this one final mess.

An interesting paradox surfaces early in the movie, and I wonder if anyone else caught it: On Doc Brown's grave is something to the effect of "from Beloved Clara." Well Doc never met Clara UNTIL Marty traveled back to meet him. In fact, Clara originally died in an accident which Marty and Doc saved her from. So when Marty looks at that gravestone, it's technically impossible since he has yet to go back, save her life, and introduce her to Doc.

Anyway, just wanted to point that out. One thing that really keeps the style of the BTTF series is the common use of repetition: the scene with Marty awaking to a woman he thinks is his mother (and it usually is), being mocked for his time-inappropriate attire, running into his ancestors, and generally having to solve time-related dilemmas. BTTF3 is a decent finish to an overall outstanding series.

Back to the Future Part II

Second act twist
It's easy to get confused by the second installment in the Back to the Future series. But if you're an avid BTTF buff and an attentive viewer, you will greatly enjoy the twists and turns Michael J. Fox's Marty encounters in this creative film. We are treated to three different time periods, plus scenes that overlap from the first film. (Hint: If you are attempting to watch Part Two before seeing Part One, give up.)

The actors here are competent and entertaining, with the exception of Marty's girlfriend, Jennifer, who acts pretty dense. No worry, she's not important or central in the film; she only provides the set-up for the future time travel.

We see the characters in different stages of life, which is amazingly realistic through expert make-up. Fox plays himself, himself as an older man, his son, AND his daughter. What a family. The paradoxed start piling up at this point, but if you can try not to become too confused and stick around for the fun, it's a great thrill ride. Biff and Marty duke it out in a surrealistic future, which is caused by Marty's own greedy negligence.

My favorite part of the film are the scenes intercut with the first movie. It's interesting to watch Marty go back in time to fix his current problem while managing to not screw up his FIRST encounter, which we witnessed in Part One. Follow??? It's a slick sense of deja vu.

This movie is darker in tone than its predecessor, mostly due to Marty's efforts to thrawt the Evil Biff. I enjoy it more with every viewing. It's the same with all the BTTF films--you simply catch more of the time-dependent details with multiple viewings. Plus there's obvious repetition within the trilogy, and that lends to a sort of cohesiveness between the three.

Back to the Future

The start of a very entertaining trilogy
Ohhhh...such a great film, even after so many years! I first saw Back to the Future as a seven-year-old, and while I enjoyed it then, I didn't grasp all the subtle implications. The idea of a teenager accidentally mucking around in his parent's first romance is mind-boggling, but enjoyable. In some ways, this is not only a sci-fi flick (which really it isn't) but a character drama, a comedy (at many times) and a period piece. The contrast between the 80's and the 50's is comical in a time when both decades are part of America's colorful past. After you've seen Back to the Future at least a dozen times, you start to pick up on the attention to detail--and how one incident in the past can drastically affect the future. The name of the mall, for instance, is changed from Twin Pine to Lone Pine in one fell swoop of an out-of-control DeLorean. Such comedy arises from Marty's encounters with his family-to-be. Lorraine, his mother, is infatuated with him, much to the dismay of her family; her father remarks, "He's an idiot. Parents probably idiots too. Lorraine, if you ever have a kid like that I'll disown you." If he only knew!!!

BTTF also sets the pace for the rest of the trilogy, and you really have to watch the first to understand any of the movies. Plus, if you look at the trilogy as a whole, one big incorporate story, it's really a very inventive, involving joyride. Plus, Christopher Lloyd makes a very amusing nutty professor-type, and the soundtrack's great. The costumes are convincing, as is 50's Hill Valley. A great experience for anyone.

Scent of a Woman

Modern classic
One of the most overall pleasing movies I've seen, Scent of a Woman wins on all levels--emotional and intellectual. Of course the primary reason it succeeds is Al Pacino, whose Oscar was well-deserved, needless to say. Chris O'Donnell doesn't overplay his part, and in doing so is realistic and natural. The tango scene, the Ferrari scene, the pseudo-courtroom scene are excellent. Pacino is wholly believable, and although at first he seems overly gruff and nasty, we grow to sympathize with him--especially when that twerp Randy insults him cutthroat-style at Thanksgiving. It's obvious that while Slade acts like he doesn't care, his repetitious "hoo-ha" response makes it obvious he does. My favorite line comes during the Ferrari scene (I was laughing so hard when the cop left, failing to realize Slade is blind.) As Slade careens down the street at 70 mph, Charlie yells, "You're going to get us killed!" Slade answers, "Can you blame me? I'm blind!" On that note, Pacino succeeds marvellously in portraying a blind man. We never doubt for a second that he does, in fact, live in total darkness. Yet others, like the cop, probably the spectators in the restaurant in the tango scene, don't realize it. Ironically enough, Slade acts as though he doesn't want to be treated as the proverbial blind man who needs a cane and a guiding arm. However, in the final scene, he emerges with a never-before-seen pair of dark glasses (after which follows the charismatic speech.) I wonder, was this to throw them off guard??

This movie is a modern classic. Some find it too long, but I enjoyed every minute and didn't acutely notice the 2 1/2 hrs gone by. A wonderful film that I recommend to all.

Rising Sun

Savior: Sean Connery
I really wasn't left with much of an impression after watching Rising Sun. Of course, Sean Connery is terrific as usual, but that doesn't come as much of a surprise for anyone accustomed to his slick acting. Unfortunately, I think Rising Sun tries to be more than it is--in the end, as the mystery of who-did-it must be solved, suddenly we are provided with so many twists and turns that it's so muddled and unbelievable we don't care anymore. The final scene seems pretty uncalled for.

A Few Good Men

a few good actors
I liked this movie solely for the acting talent so boldly showcased here. Tom Cruise stars as the smart but initially laid-back Navy lawyer--and he makes such a good lawyer (see The Firm.) Demi Moore co-stars as his tough but patient sidekick--and SHE makes such a good Navy woman (see G.I. Jane.) Of course Jack Nicholson is one of the most entertaining actors alive today; his malicious facial expressions are beyond comparison. If it wasn't for the army fatigues, I could almost see that little dog from As Good As it Gets yipping at him. Kevin Bacon also sneaks in a quaint, nicely-played role as the friend-but-prosecuting-attourney. The acting here was extremely well-done, but our big scene in the courtroom, which reaches new levels of emotional intensity is practically thrown away because the Big Moment is revealed to us in a preceeding scene!! That's a pretty noticeable flaw. But even so, it's a charged, heated scene and the actors here milk it for all it's worth.

Rear Window

Hitchcock classic
This was my first Alfred Hitchcock movie, and I wasn't disappointed. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from this masterful director, but Rear Window generates such a tangible feeling of suspense you won't soon forget it. Plus, it's laden with symbolism--so much, in fact, that I won't go into detail here; many film review web sites offer extensive summaries of the movie. The apartment complex in which the movie is set entirely in seems so familiar, so very possible that when James Stewart suspects a neighbor of murder, you suddenly find yourself wondering, Well, what would one do?? All the so-called evidence he has is purely circumstancial: only what he witnesses in his neighbor's apartment through his window. The best, most intense moments come near the end. I will not reveal what exactly happens here but when one specific person looks up and realizes he's being watched, it's the creepiest moment I've seen on film.

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