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Silver Linings Playbook

Unconventional, But Could Have Been Ripped From Today's News
For one reason or another I don't see many movies these days, so I had never seen or heard of the two primary actors in this movie, Bradley Cooper and the beautiful Jennifer Laurence. Watching them on screen in this movie, though, has truly been eye opening. They are both brilliant, if not totally realistic, in this film in their depiction of mentally ill people trying to return to "normalcy." The only actor I recognized immediately was Robert DeNiro, and his performance was, I think, his best in may years. The supporting actors in the cast were also uniformly good, especially Chris Tucker. Severe mental illness and other neuroses are not a laughing matter, but this film uses fantastic humor to bring those problems to our attention. And that mentally ill people - rather beautiful people in this film - need love as much, if not more, that the rest of us is something to think about. Despite the subject matter, this is still a romantic comedy. It's poignant as well as terrifically funny. Go see it.

The Bourne Legacy

Car chases and foot races, we've seen this all before.
Car chases and foot races; boring! we've seen it in dozens of other movies - since the 1930's at least (when they were better done.) I swear that whole scenes in this movie have been lifted from other films. Merely having a few good actors (Renner, Weisz, Norton) in the movie cannot turn this sow's ear into a silk purse. Watching this film wasn't even painless (especially a mass murder scene that could have been lifted directly from today's headlines), but it most definitely was brainless. It also seems to have been made with a sharp eye on its budget. It's just less expensive to shoot parts of the film in an East Asian slum.

And why is the great actor Albert Finney making a cameo appearance in this movie. Is he doing someone a favor, or is he down and out?

I wonder what they are going to call the next sequel in this series, "The Bourne Repetition"?

Serbuan maut

Doesn't anyone in Indonesia have a telephone?
SWAT team of Indonesia's finest invades 15-story apartment building in order to arrest criminal gang. Martial arts battles, firefights, and non-stop mayhem continue for hours, but apparently no one calls for more cops! Maybe the martial arts episodes - in fact, they are the whole movie - are of interest to aficionados, but their extreme length just bored me. If I had gone out for a ham sandwich, the same fight would still be going one when I came back. This film has the distinction of being both extremely loud and extremely boring. Don't believe the good IMDb ratings this movie is receiving - they must all be from 14-year old boys. Adults should give this movie a pass.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Compares poorly with the brilliant 1979 British television version
I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of this 2011 version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy with Gary Oldman, but when it finally arrived I was so disappointed that I considered leaving the theater shortly after the movie began. I didn't, but I should have.

To be fair to this current film, I admit that I have seen the British TV series version with Alec Guinness many times, so perhaps I'm merely biased. Frankly, though, - and despite the wonderful reviews of this film from many people - I don't see how anyone can take this dull, lifeless version seriously.

The acting in this film runs the entire gamut from A to B. Gary Oldman is no Alec Guinness. For all the taciturnity of his George Smiley, Guinness imbued his Smiley with genuine character, whereas Oldman is reduced to maintaining a stone-faced, unemotional countenance for the entire 2 hours 40 minutes duration of this film. Much has been made of Oldman's not saying a word in the first 18 minutes of the film, but this can be easily matched by some characters who had barely a sentence of two in the whole production. The usually formidable actor Ciaran Hinds must not have had more than 10 words total, and they were of absolutely no consequence. Academy Award winner Colin Firth had barely more to say, and I doubt if his role in the film contained even a whole page of dialog. Compare that to the brilliant 1979 performance in that role by the late Ian Richardson. The only character in this film who exuded any sense of real life was that of Jim Prideaux, played by Mark Strong. But Strong was not allowed to be anywhere near as "strong" as that of the character played in 1979 by the late Ian Bannen.

If I had not seen the earlier British television series I honestly doubt if I would have been able to follow the plot of this current movie. The film is dark, the characters rather dull, and flashbacks abound. I really believe the makers of this film expect viewers to already know the plot before arriving in the theater.

I have other quibbles. This film has the headquarters of MI-6 located in what looks to be a former warehouse. Inasmuch as MI-6 is an arm of the U. K. Foreign Office, are we expected to believe that the elite of the British intelligence establishment would be housed in those dark, dank conditions? And would spies work in an open office environment with no privacy? Hard to believe.

If you go to this film I hope you enjoy it. But I'd also recommend you get a DVD of the 1979 British TV series in which the acting, atmosphere, locations, and music are all far superior to this current version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy.

The Guard

Disappointing, Derivative Movie. Only A Couple Of Mild Chuckles.
I found "The Guard" to be at times quite humorous but, as in so many films of the past 20 years or so, it has been negatively influenced by the "Pulp Fiction" school of film-making. It's more a parody of a film than a film.

Are we really to believe that the Irish have no point of reference in their lives other than the American entertainment industry? In this film the Irish police are incompetent oafs who seem to think they are living in a movie script and who are enthralled to be in a partnership with the FBI. That's the U.S. FBI. Ludicrous. The whole plot is absurd and is not remotely redeemed by having some sort of pseudo-repartee between the characters played by Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. All the characters in this movie are so over the top that I can almost see the figures of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson lurking behind the scenes. "Pulp Fiction", "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", and even "Trainspotting", may be been very unique movies in their time, but that time has passed. The same can be said for this movie. Its style is merely repetitious. Too bad; it could have been something special

The Company Men

So, we already know the basic plot: a company's well-paid executives are let go (fired) as part of the plan to "downsize" the organization. Thus, the company's reduced payroll obligations leads to an increase in the company's stock price, making whoever owns the stock that much richer; in some cases, much, much richer! But can we really generate much sympathy for the fired executives who had at least 6-figure salaries, much less a probable huge array of benefits? Yes, they might be the working class writ large, but they are not the working class. And as for the ethics of the company itself, it's enough to make you want to punish them by running out and buying the equivalent of more Chinese junk - or Japanese non-junk.

One might just ask how this situation came about. My own take on it relates to the famous quote attributed to a former chief of General Motors: "GM is not in the business of making cars; GM is in the business of making money." That philosophy was endorsed, and especially seemed to take hold of corporate America, during the time in office of a particular American president. It's that philosophy which the executives in this film probably accepted without reservation, and for which they wound up paying the price - along with the rest of us.

Just as with the unemployed executives in this movie, we'll do what we can, but there's no turning back the clock.


PELADA: A Brilliant Film About Soccer, Life, and More. Highly Recommended!
While PELADA may be regarded as a film about soccer, it is really much more. This is a film about perseverance, love of a game, love for one's friends - and for strangers, too. Dare I say it, it's even a little bit about romance. This film is a behind the scenes look not only at football - soccer - but at the lives of ordinary people around the world.

This movie calls one's attention to one's values, and doesn't preach about what those values should be. To a great extent, this is a film about the need we all feel for play. Seeing women in Teheran "playing" is bound to make one think about the effect of religion and politics even on such a basic human desire as the need for play.

This is not a political film,though it may shine a light on some politics. Basically, it's just a film about people - about humanity, even. Whether the young film makers knew it at the time or not, they've made a very profound film. I most highly recommend PELADA.


Juvenile Fantasy
"Salt" is pretty much a nothing film. It is full of irrational action, though, and that does appeal to much of the movie-going public. Does any of it make sense? No. Does anybody care that it makes no sense? Probably not.

Here's something else that needs to be said: Angelina Jolie is not an especially attractive woman. She's not. She has unusual facial features, but that's about it. That, and she's a "celebrity.

As opposed to that other terrible "spy" movie that's making the rounds right now ("The American", with George Clooney), "Salt" at least has a plot, totally nonsensical that it is. So that's what it comes down to for summer 2010 films, a movie with absolutely no plot or a movie with an absolutely ridiculous and nonsensical plot. And the winner is ...

The American

Pretentious, Idiotic Clap-Trap. An Absolutely Awful Movie.
I can't believe the exaggerated ratings this horrible little movie is getting. Absolutely nothing in whatever there is of a plot fits together. Guy shows up with just the clothes on his back, and pretty soon out of nowhere he's running a full-up gunsmith shop in his rented house in a foreign country! Professional hookers are seen kissing their clients, there isn't a condom in sight anywhere, and yet the hero is seen going muff diving on a working girl. Is this planet Earth we're talking about here? Clooney's character is seen walking, running, and firing his pistol all over this small Italian town, yet there's hardly another soul in sight, and certainly no police. Apparently, the townsfolk here stay in their houses all day and night, only to come out for religious processions an saints' feast days. Wow, only in the movies.

If you don't "get" this movie, don't worry. There really is nothing to get.

Robin Hood

Ridley Scott's ROBIN HOOD is a horrible disappointment. The movie is dark and depressing, and every man in it seems to be a thug, including the hero himself.

Scott has made every character in this film loathsome, irritating or ridiculous. Friar Tuck is a smarmy half-wit, Little John has the intelligence of a tree stump, and Russel Crowe's Robin Hood must be the most uncharismatic hero of all time. Maid Marian would have to be really hard up to have anything to do with the likes of this plebeian Robin Hood. Of all the characters in this movie, only the one played by Max Von Sydow generates any real empathy. This movie is so bad that in one of the final battles I actually found myself laughing. Frankly, Scott should stick to making movies about Avatars and leave Britain's legends, culture and traditions alone.

The director almost seems to be attempting to destroy the legend of Robin Hood with this abysmal movie. What's really going to happen, of course, is that the legend of Robin Hood will survive, but this film will quickly find it's way into your local supermarket's DVD bargain bin.

Youth in Revolt

I'm too old for this movie, and so is Michael Cera!
"Youth in Revolt" may have the seed of a good movie somewhere inside itself, but the film is just too slow-moving and tepid for my taste. I have to admit to walking out of the theater after only an hour.

Once again I was led astray by a far too favorable review in the NY Times, this time by film critic Manohla Dargis, who described the film as a "sweet and slight and often charming coming-of-age tale ..." Well, she was certainly right about the "slight" part.

As for coming of age, Michael Cera may have a youthful visage, but he was at least 21 when he played the 17/18-year old character in this film. Two or three years may not seem like much, but Cera was obviously more mature than his screen character was supposed to be. One can say somewhat the same for the very pretty Portia Doubleday, who also was playing a high school-aged character.

The only highlights of the film for me were the brief appearances by Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, M. Emmet Walsh, and especially by Ray Liotta. Now there is a group of guys who definitely look their ages! Cameos, though, do not make a movie.

Edge of Darkness

A Portrait of Middle-Age Masculinity
I enjoyed this movie very much, not only for the story, but especially for Mel Gibson's very masculine portrayal of a distraught father. The film also has a very atmospheric, almost "film noir", quality to it.

Whenever I see this sort of film I always think of the Charles Bronson movies, but Gibson plays a much stronger and more realistic character here than Bronson ever played.

If I had to come up with an alternate title for this very good policier, I might go with something like, "Grief Carries a Gun." Watching this film also brings to mind Peter Finch's famous exclamation from the film "Network": "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." And for Mel Gibson's character, with good reason.

The Blind Side

"Hoop Dreams" it ain't.
Whatever the real story behind the film story of this movie (i.e., upper middle-class white family taking in and propelling a poor - but physically massive - black youth to football success) I didn't especially care for the film. One should read the book of the Blind Side to get the real story that sparked this movie.

As for the movie, itself, it seems to be from the same attitude that brought us "Ozzie and Harriet", as well as "Father Knows Best", on TV in the 50's and early 60's when white people ruled the earth. This current movie, though, is not about those TV families. It's really about the White, Southern, God of high-school football, and if it takes a hulking, disadvantaged black boy to keep that image of God going, then so be it.

For a less romanticized, but more objective, view of disadvantaged black athletes in a white, Christian, school environment you should compare this movie with the classic movie "Hoop Dreams" (reviewed in IMDb at:

I'm very glad to see Sandra Bullock win awards for her performance in this film, but keep in mind the awards are for her, not for this movie.

Inglourious Basterds

One too many turns of the screw; and surprisingly pro-German.
By far the most enjoyable thing about "Inglourious Basterds" (sic, sic) are the performances by the cast of outstanding European actors. These Europeans really know their stuff. In fact, this film's real stars are the Europeans, especially Christoph Waltz from Austria and Melanie Laurent from France. Their performances are wonderful. As for top-billed Brad Pitt, he has only a supporting role as Tarantino's 21st Century stand-in for Lee Marvin. Pitt may be the star on the marquis, but he's far from being the star of this film.

Some reviewers here seem to think the movie is anti-German. I can't imagine how they can possibly think that. Perhaps the bravest man in the whole film is a captured German soldier who courageously chooses death before dishonor. Sure, there are the usual Teutonic sadists and pigs, but on the level of plain soldiers, both sides seem to be more or less equal in executing their inglorious duties. In fact, in their manner of carrying out their parts in total war, the Americans and British in this film don't seem much of a step up from their German enemies. Indeed, these irregulars of the OSS and SOE employ many of the same methods used by their Nazi opponents: torture, threats of retaliation against families, etc. Is it possible for a particular group of sadists to claim the high moral ground?

Despite the excellent acting, and superb photography and costuming, this film eventually disappoints. The last 1/4 of the film descends into the realm of pure nonsense, fantasy and ludicrous, contrived situations: a country bumpkin milkmaid becomes a cinema owner; dozens of the Reich's highest ranking officials and officers gather in a hostile city with barely a guard in sight. That's so ludicrous that anyone from the Secret Service watching this film would have tears of laughter rolling down his or her cheeks. Just like a person who always gives a screw one too many turns and breaks something, director Tarantino just doesn't know how to leave well enough alone or quit when he is ahead. Like a child, he insists on demonstrating how much he knows (or thinks he knows) about movies and their history, and so he winds up damaging his own movie.

With his in-jokes and his sly aural and visual references to other films and their makers Tarantino wants to impress us, but he really only manages to foul his own work. I know who Aldo Ray was; I've seen him and the late, great Lee Marvin. Is Tarantino trying to impress me with the fact that he knows them, too?

The very talented Tarantino should spend less time being referential and reverential, and more time mastering his movie-making skills.

O' Horten

The Norwegian Everyman
What I most liked about "O'Horten" was the quiet likability of all the characters, and from the most staid to the most eccentric, characters they all are. It's almost as if Norwegians come from a different place than the rest of us.

We've seen lots of Swedish films over the decades, but these stoic Norwegians make the Swedes seem positively Mediterranean in comparison! The emotions expressed quietly - very quietly - in the film include love, respect, loyalty, and non-judgmental relationships between strangers. What's more, it's quietly funny! Of course, there is a bigger point, too; i.e., It's never too late.

Baard Owe, perfectly cast as Odd Horten, is wonderfully supported by a cast that includes Espen Skjonberg and Henny Moan. A quiet, captivating film.


Terribly Unfunny; Major Disappointment
I think the star of this movie, Sacha Baron Cohen (SBC) of "Borat" fame, has a real penis problem. He seems fixated by the organ and, like a baby, just can't stop playing around with it. And that's the level of this movie, a baby movie.

Of course there's some real humor in the movie, but it's totally buried in the silly, swish, fashionista, Teutonic gay sex scenario that SBC has used as a plot device. Frankly, though, I've seen more humor on "Candid Camera" or on one of those best/worst home video shows on television. It's almost as if "Bruno" were made by a sexually confused teenager, unsure of his identity, not by a man with an idea. If SBC ever had a coherent idea about this movie, he lost it somewhere along the way.

I went to see "Bruno" against the advice of all the critics. For once, I should have heeded their advice. Other than to understand what people are actually saying about this train wreck of a film, I cannot recommend it to anyone.

Angels & Demons

Multi, Multi Crappi
What an awful piece of nothingness this movie turned out to be: an absolutely idiotic plot coupled with ridiculous dialog and totally uninteresting characters. As soon as I saw the name of "writer" Akiva Goldsman in the credits I knew a large part of why this movie is such a turkey.

Director Ron Howard has done a really poor job with this movie, providing nothing but 2 1/4 hours of police cars racing around Vatican City/Rome while searching for statues with their extended fingers seemingly exclaiming "that-a-way". What utter tripe.

You can be sure that no one in any way associated with this lemon will be called up on stage during the next Academy Awards ceremony. In fact, the makers of this movie deserve to lose their shirts on it.

I notice I've called this movie a "turkey", "tripe", and a "lemon". What it really is, though, is what comes out your end after you've consumed all that stuff.


Superb Performances (but some audio problems for me.)
I found this movie to be a theatrical feast, but with a couple of nagging annoyances.

I want to get the annoying parts off my chest first, because chronologically that's how I encountered the movie. It seems to me that Russians have never mastered the art of sound mixing. Whether in old Soviet films or in this modern Russian one, there is always something not quite right with the sound.

As the film began I found that the background noises were much louder than the speech of the actors. The sounds of doors slamming, children yelling, workers working, and so on were loud and clear, but the actors' voices were practically whispers in that maelstrom. I don't know why that is. Could it be only in the foreign, sub-titled version of the film? I don't see complaints about the sound levels from anyone else, but I'm pretty sure it's not just me. I desperately wanted to listen to the Russian dialog, but the low audio level of the voices forced me to read the sub-titles throughout most of the film. It was a bit like walking with a small stone in my shoe.

Not having seen the "12 Angry Men" movie on which this current film was based, I was forced to accept "12" on its own merits. Thus, I experienced this film not as a remake of a previous movie, but as a filmed a stage play with phenomenal actors. Perhaps as a result, I unequivocally enjoyed this acting extravaganza. There may have been some occasional carpet chewing, but overall the performances were astounding. I certainly wish the IMDb list of players had more information about who played which role and had more biographical information about the individual actors. Perhaps someone familiar with Russian films and actors could throw more light on the matter. Much the same criticism, of course, could apply to IMDb's level of information on foreign films in general.

Frankly, I didn't take the matter of the guilt or innocence of the "accused" very seriously. With all the theorizing the jurors were doing, and with the serious lack of real information for us in the audience, there was absolutely no way to determine real guilt or innocence. If anything, the flashback scenes were more confusing than enlightening. So, as far as I was concerned, it was the jurors, particularly the "Great Russians" among them - who were at the center of the film. Watching their "paralysis by analysis" was the real treat, irrespective of whether they reached the right conclusion in the end. As far as that conclusion is concerned, I have no idea what Mikhalkov means by it. His own screen character was obviously implying that he has a unique insight into things, intimating that perhaps he had been at one time in the KGB, GRU, or had been a member of some other allegedly all-knowing organization? Frankly, this was a bit off-putting and seemed to imply that the State and its workers knew things that the average citizen just hadn't a need to know. In any event, despite having a relatively modest role for most of the film, at the end Mikhalkov came a little too much to the fore for my taste. I'd be very happy to read a Russian reviewer's explanation of Mikhalkov's character.

A word or two about the depiction of Chechens. The music, dancing, and overwhelming maleness of Chechen culture were solidly, if briefly, presented. One certainly cannot stereotype all Chechen men as being similar to the Chechen fighters depicted in this film, but the characterization of those fighters was phenomenal. In this film the Chechens fighters' raw power to intimidate, threaten, and attack their enemies those was palpable. I'm aware that even Alexander Solzhenitsyn praised the indomitable culture of Chechens in the Gulag. They just never, ever, yielded to the Soviets.

So, I rate this film very highly. Perhaps I'm missing the film's more subtle propaganda that some here have mentioned, but that's something I can continue to think more about. I highly recommend "12."


This Movie Stunk So Bad I Thought I Had Poo On My Shoe
All the way home from the theater I wondered how I could possibly convey to readers here just how bad "DUPLICITY" really is. As far as I am concerned, director-writer Tony Gilroy should be considered to be the Bernie Madoff of movies. Essentially, just as with Madoff's "investments", there really is nothing here. Instead of being a movie, it is merely a "vehicle" for making money and for 41-year old actress Julia Roberts to try to convince herself and us that she's 20 years younger. As she descends the ladder of professional accomplishment in movies like this it appears that Clive Owen is trying to parlay a connection with her to enhance his own fortunes. If they kissed on screen once they must have kissed each other 20 times. Both of them are in danger of becoming mere entertainment celebrities.

I can only shake my head as I wonder how Roberts, Owen, Paul Giamatti, and Tom Wilkinson could possibly do this to the movie-going public - their own people! The only answer I can come up with is this: money.

Several years ago Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made a silly, puerile, idiotic movie of a similar sort called "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." That movie was, indeed, terrible, but compared to "Duplicity" it was a work of high art. In any event, there's not a dumpster deep enough to bury either of those movies.

The Belly of an Architect

Bought it; Watched much of it; Tossed it in the Trash
Undoubtedly one of the worst movies I have ever seen. It was the cheapest DVD in the store, but it had all these blurbs on it about how gorgeous and artful it was, so I bought it. Who made this thing ...Bernie Madoff? Even though it appears to have been shown in occasional art houses around 1990, this film could very well have been a straight to DVD production (assuming that there even were DVDs in 1987 when it was made.) If not, it must have been a scam of some sort. Not even the lowest Italian swords and sandals flick could possibly plumb the movie-making depths as much as this movie.

So, that's life. Barnes and Noble has my $5.00, the State of Texas has another 40 cents or so in taxes, and the garbage man has another crappy movie to add to his collection of garbage can DVDs.

Revolutionary Road

Most of us live on Revolutionary Road
I could watch the wonderful Kate Winslett read a cook book aloud and not be bored, but what's the purpose of this film? I would imagine 7 out of 10 Americans live in one way or another on their own version of Revolutionary Road. When there's no particular struggle to obtain food or shelter one is left pondering the meaning of life and why one is so dissatisfied with one's lot. It's the middle class curse.

There is nothing special about this film or, I expect, the book on which it is based. For many, the American Dream is just a long, dull, pointless exercise on a treadmill while waiting for the inevitable. What's the point of seeing it played out in a film? Does the filmmaker think we're not aware of all this?

Il y a longtemps que je t'aime

Very Strong Acting; But Still An Artificial Melodrama
All the actors/actresses in "I've Loved You So Long" are uniformly wonderful. Kristin Scott Thomas was truly fine, as was the superb Elsa Zylberstein. My favorite actor in this film, though, was Frederic Pierrot. His portrayal of a policeman who is desperate for companionship was excellent, and I think he made his character the most interesting person in the film.

Nevertheless, the plot itself is just too artificial for my taste. The film has pretensions of depth without actually having any depth. I won't go so far as to call it a middle-class soap opera, but that wouldn't be far off.

New in Town

Unfunny, Weak, Winter-in-Minnesota, Sitcom
The so-called romantic comedy "New in Town" is a total mess of a movie in which small town, blue-collar Minnesotans are stereotypically depicted as hard working, but totally naive and dense. The director and writers of this movie should be made to live for a year in rural Minnesota just to get the feel for their subject.

Renee Zellweger's starring role is a relative cipher, meaning that she contributes nothing special to the movie. Any actress could have played this part.

Harry Connick, Jr.'s role was the only substantial one in the film, and at least he was allowed to demonstrate some intelligence and masculinity, traits not allowed to the other fake Minnesotans.

Especially unfunny and disappointing was the role played by J.K. Simmons. His performances are usually the highlight of any movie - but not in this case. The writers have given him absolutely nothing to work with.

The first significant aberration in the movie, though, was the jarring, totally inappropriate music. None of it fit the scenes in which it was played, not to mention that its volume often drowned out the scenes to which it was matched.

To be honest, I did hear a few females in the theater laughing on occasion, but not on so many occasions for this movie to be called a comedy.

This whole movie is an amateurish, paint-by-the-numbers effort and is already at the top of my list of Worst Movies of 2009.


Only Average At Best
The very high profile cast of this film notwithstanding, I'm afraid that "Valkyrie" has all the gravitas of a made-for-TV movie. How some of the top names in British and continental cinema got roped into accepting parts in this film I will never understand - unless it was a matter of money, of course. Especially disappointing is the practically non-existent parts for actresses Carice van Houten and Halina Reijn. What a waste of two talented actresses. And as for the actor who played Hitler, all I can say is that after the phenomenal performance of Austrian Actor Bruno Ganz as Hitler in the film "The Downfall" no other actor should ever be allowed to play the Fuhrer.

The plot of the film certainly has some large holes in it, too. The very idea that German Army colonels were ordering around various German generals seems pretty far fetched.

Finally, of course, there's Tom Cruise playing Colonel Stauffenberg. Cruise brings nothing special to the role. If the makers of this movie were at all serious in the subject matter they should have chosen a different actor to play the role. Cruise is just too lightweight to carry off such an important role.

The highlights of the film were the tri-motor aircraft at the beginning, and the very good musical score played at the ending credits. Everything in between was neither here nor there.

Ghost Town

Brilliant, Funny Gervais; Superb Cast; Touching Story
What a fine, funny, intelligent, and human film "Ghost Town" is.

Ricky Gervais's performance is certainly the highlight of the film, with his dry, wry, sense of humor and perfect delivery. Before seeing Ghost Town I was deathly afraid that Ricky could have been hijacked by "Hollywood", but was I ever wrong. He's the same sardonic, brilliant comic his millions of fans have come to appreciate.

For the first time I really enjoyed a part played by Greg Kinnear. In this film he has a role that does not reduce him to a mere schlep for the likes of Jack Nicholson to beat up on. Greg did a fine job. Tea Leoni, too, was excellent, and I think she is actually getting more beautiful with age. Another very pleasant surprise was seeing Aasif Mandvi and discovering that this mainstay of the Daily Show is also a fine actor.

What I know about making movies would fit into a thimble, but ultimately, I suppose, it's David Koepp's direction and writing (along with co-writer John Kamps) that put those talented actors and the plot together.

Normally I would try to avoid any modern movie described as "a romantic comedy", but I'm certainly glad I went to see Ghost Town. No film has touched me this much since 1976's "Heaven Can Wait" (Warren Beatty/Julie Christie) and 1978's "Robin and Marian" (Sean Connery/Audrey Hepburn). Ricky Gervais may not be a Beatty or Connery, but his 21st century Everyman is certainly funnier than either of those acclaimed actors. I highly recommend this modest, but brilliant, film. It may become a modern classic.

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