mikepwong

IMDb member since January 2001
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    IMDb Member
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Reviews

Ocean's Twelve
(2004)

Mixed feelings towards this movie
Rating: 7 out of 10. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.

I have mixed feelings about Ocean's Twelve. It has some good moments in it and I plan to see it again when it comes out on DVD, but at times I found myself quite bored during some scenes and found myself desiring to see Ocean's Eleven.

Its fun to see all the actors back together, especially George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Andy Garcia. I also liked the humorous scenes, even the cameo appearance of Bruce Willis worked well.

As a huge fan of the first movie, my expectations were high, unfortunately this movie did not measure up. However, my rating is relatively high since it is a movie that I'd like to see again, perhaps it would work well as a movie to put on in the background during a session of poker.

Narc
(2002)

Poignant mystery thriller known for its bad cop plus bad cop pairing
Rating: 8 out of 10. Written and Directed by Joe Carnahan.

Narc is one of the best movies that I have seen in recent months, I rented it several weeks ago from the video store and caught most of it again just last week on a movie channel. This is a story of bad cop and bad cop working together, which is a relief to me since the good cop plus bad cop pairing is too over done. Joe Carnahan shows that he is an extremely talented writer and director.

I have found myself thinking back to this movie several times since seeing it. It has a unique quality and excellent style to it. It also does not hurt to have good writing and directing that was complimented with the great acting of Jason Patric and Ray Liotta.

Jason Patric is Nick Tellis, an undercover narcotics officer. The movie opens with Tellis chasing a drug dealer through backyards and into a park until the chase ends with a shooting, the suspect gets hit, but so does a pregnant woman that was a bystander. The next scene takes place over a year later, and Tellis is in a boardroom meeting with a police board of inquiry. We find out that the pregnant woman that got shot lost her unborn child and that Tellis has been on an administrative leave all this time for over a year. The board offers him a deal, which is to solve the murder of a slain undercover narcotics officer named Michael Calvess. If he solves this murder, he will be fully reinstated with a choice assignment. Tellis storms out of the meeting declining the offer. A police captain played by Chi McBride follows Tellis out the room and is able to convince Tellis to reconsider.

As Tellis starts to investigate the murder, he requests the help of Calvess' former partner Henry Oak played by Ray Liotta. Initially the police captain says that Oak is off limits to the Calvess case and mentions that Oak is unstable. Oak isn't just unstable, he is a brutal cop, and we see a few flashback scenes of Oak viciously beating up suspects. Police Internal Affairs is always on the look out to find Oak guilty of brutality or planting evidence or any of the violations of conduct that Oak is suspected of doing. What allows Oak to continue to roam around like a vigilante is his impressive work record, the majority of Oak's arrests end up with a conviction. Therefore, Tellis is able to get Oak back onto the case.

As we see Tellis and Oak investigate, we see some very unusual characters and a couple of twists to the storyline. Of course Oak is quite brutal and Tellis is okay with using police brutality at times but is sometimes surprised at Oak's actions and methods. The movie ends with some shocking revelations.

Narc was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. Which is not a surprise since this was a very good film.

Road to Perdition
(2002)

Excellent acting in this well made crime drama
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by Sam Mendes.

Many movie lovers think of Tom Hanks as one of the best actors ever, I have never felt this way about him, in my opinion, he just does not rank up there with actors such as Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Robert Duvall. However, my opinion of Tom Hanks has changed after seeing 'Road to Perdition'. I thought he was awesome as Michael Sullivan in this movie. I'd prefer to see Tom Hanks in roles like this one instead of what he usually portrays.

'Road to Perdition' has top notch acting, in addition to Tom Hanks, Paul Newman as mob boss John Rooney is quite good as well, Newman was nominated for a best supporting actor academy award for this role. Jude Law as the assassin Maguire was dark, strange, and disturbed, yet interesting to watch. It is nice to see Stanley Tucci as mob figure Frank Nitti, Tucci did a very good job playing this character.

As a mob movie 'Road to Perdition' is quite good, but not as grand as Coppola's 'The Godfather' or Scorsese's 'Goodfellas'. Sam Mendes did a great job directed this film and perhaps one day will be up there with Coppola and Scorsese as a top crime drama director.

Strangers on a Train
(1951)

Another Great Hitchcock Thriller
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Tennis star Guy Haines (Farley Granger) meets the mysterious Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) on a train. Soon afterwards, Guy finds himself drawn into the psychotic realm of Bruno's world.

Guy is separated from his wife and is now involved with a senator's daughter. Guy is interested in entering into politics after he retires from tennis. Bruno wants to kill his own father but doesn't want to do it himself.

Bruno proposes that he disposes with Guy's wife, while Guy's part of the deal is to eliminate Bruno's father. Guy dismisses this idea since he isn't interested in having his troublesome wife killed.

Bruno goes ahead with his half of the proposal. While Guy becomes the prime suspect of his wife's murder. As law enforcement continues to investigate Guy, Bruno continues to torment Guy, wanting him to complete the other half of the proposal.

'Strangers on a Train' has one of the most exciting endings of all Hitchcock movies.

The Station Agent
(2003)

Thoughtful and witty
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by Thomas McCarthy.

This was the movie that I wanted to see more than any other at this year's Whistler Film Festival. The winner of three awards at the Sundance Film Festival, ‘The Station Agent' is very entertaining and funny.

The story is about a dwarf named Fin, who works at a model train store in Hoboken, New Jersey, and early on in the film his boss and best friend dies. The train store is closed but his former employer bequests a train depot station for Fin that is in Newfoundland, New Jersey. Fin packs up and moves to this station. When he gets there, he meets a few unusual yet interesting people.

The acting could not be better in this movie. Fin McBride is played by Peter Dinklage, I just loved the way Dinklage brought Fin to life on screen, very interesting to watch. Patricia Clarkson (you might remember her as a guest star on the show Frasier from a couple of years ago) was wonderful as the tormented Olivia Harris, a woman recently separated from her husband and struggling with the death of her son. The other main character is the likeable and flamboyant hot dog vendor Joe Oramas, played by the talented Bobby Cannavale. Michelle Williams has a supporting role as the town librarian. The other supporting character is a young pleasant African-American girl Cleo played by Raven Goodwin.

‘The Station Agent' ends quite suddenly while the viewer is prepared to watch a bit longer. I thought about this ending quite a bit the day after viewing this movie and found that it was appropriate to end on a high note for the main characters.

I highly recommend ‘The Station Agent' and I look forward to seeing it again.

From Hell
(2001)

Dark audacious thriller
Rating: 7 out of 10. Directed by Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes.

'From Hell' stars Johnny Depp as police Inspector Fred Abberline investing a series of murders in the Whitechapel area of London. His partner is Sergeant Peter Godley played by Robbie Coltrane. Heather Graham plays Mary Kelly, an Irish prostitute that helps Abberline with the investigation.

Abberline is an opium addict whose dreams provide a clairvoyant insight into his investigations. In fact, the movie opens and ends with Abberline in an opium den. Depp does a great job with this character, showing the viewers that his acting ability improves as he ages.

The story has a number of subplots that are interconnected. The Royal family is somewhat involved due to a little problem in their family that could cause a scandal; we see a secret society that is linked to Royalty and the government - even Abberline's superior officer is a part of this group; there is also a secret police described as the Special Branch involved with the plot. To top it all off, an appearance of the 'Elephant Man' makes its way into the movie. All these subplot points make this movie sound like an 'X-Files' story.

'From Hell' is dark and violent, similar to 'Se7en' and '8mm', yet the first three-quarters of the movie is quite stimulating. In my opinion the movie doesn't finish well. The alternative last scene shown on the DVD special features would have been better since it would have been less ambiguous with what happens to Abberline after the case is closed.

The Matrix Revolutions
(2003)

This One does not deliver
Rating: 7 out of 10. Directed by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski.

As I left the theater I couldn't help but feel disappointed. The Matrix trilogy was 95% build up and 5% let down.

What were the Wachowski Brothers thinking? While 'The Matrix Revolutions' isn't an awful movie, it isn't an incredible one either. It did not not deliver the big ending that fans were hoping for. Most viewers were looking forward to a climax that was going to be surprising and amazing. So instead we saw something that is somewhat surprising, but simple and uninteresting.

The first move 'The Matrix' was entertaining and fun to watch even with all its flaws. The second movie 'The Matrix Reloaded' was also entertaining but not as fun to watch as the original. Unfortunately, 'The Matrix Revolutions' is barely entertaining and at times, will make the viewer feel melancholy.

If you must see this movie, see it as a matinee and keep your expectations low.

Se7en
(1995)

Possibly the best crime thriller ever
Se7en

Rating: 9 out of 10. Directed by David Fincher.

When I first saw 'Se7en' eight years ago, I thought that I'd never see it again. The first viewing left me in a horrified and miserable mood. Even though I felt the movie was really well made, the dark empty feeling was so intense. Eight years later, I find myself viewing 'Se7en' for the eighth time. So on average, I see this movie once a year. It is still intense to view, but much easier to take in, yet on each viewing, I notice little details that I missed on previous viewings.

'Se7en' follows the story of a deranged killer John Doe played brilliantly by Kevin Spacey. John Doe viciously kills his victims, treating his acts as sentences for those who sin.

Investigating the murders are Detective Somerset played by Morgan Freeman, and Detective Mills played by Brad Pitt. As their investigation goes deeper, the two detectives find themselves subjugated in John Doe's plan.

Some quotes from 'Se7en':

William Somerset (Morgan Freeman): If we catch John Doe and he turns out to be the devil, I mean if he's Satan himself, that might live up to our expectations, but he's not the devil. He's just a man.

William Somerset (Morgan Freeman): This guy's methodical, exacting, and worst of all, patient.

David Mills (Brad Pitt): He's a nut-bag! Just because the f#@ker's got a library card doesn't make him Yoda!

John Doe (Kevin Spacey): We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it's common, it's trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I'm setting the example. And what I've done is going to be puzzled over, and studied, and followed... forever.

8 Mile
(2002)

Not bad at all
Rating: 7 out of 10. Directed by Curtis Hanson. This movie is quite good and has an uplifting climax. Here we have Marshall Mathers portraying a young man in Detroit aspiring to become a rap star. Since the character he portrays is a lot like him, Eminem is able to deliver an honest and acceptable performance.

Like other viewers, I also noticed the similarity to `The Karate Kid', the overall plot is similar – a tale of a young man going through struggle, pain, and then triumph, but instead of karate fighting, we have rap competitions in `8 Mile'.

I didn't think that I was going like `8 Mile', but it really surprised me. I'd actually recommend this movie to people who have absolutely no interest in Eminem or rap music. Check it out.

Hatuna Meuheret
(2001)

Refreshing and notable
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by Dover Koshashvili. This film takes place in Israel and is about a very traditional Georgian-Jewish immigrant family. The main character is Zaza, played superbly by Lior Loui Ashkenazi. Early on in the film, we see the 31-year-old Zaza take part with his family as they play matchmaker for him, introducing him to much younger beautiful eligible women of suitable ethnic backgrounds, and wealthy if possible. Zaza has been introduced to many potential brides, without success, yet his family will not give up.

Zaza is not interested in the women that his family tries to pair him up with. He is involved with an older lovely divorced single mother named Judith, played by Ronit Elkabetz. Since his family would not approve of Judith, Zaza has never mentioned her to them.

Zaza's family suspect that Zaza has a lover and stake out Judith's home. After parking in front of Judith's home all day and into the night, Zaza arrives to visit Judith and her daughter, not long after wards, Zaza's mother, father, sister, grandmother, two aunts, and two uncles barge in on Zaza and Judith. The family members call Judith a whore. Zaza's mother says that she would never allow a divorced woman enter their family. Zaza's father goes on about how in their family, the wife is always younger than the husband. The family demands that the relationship ends. Zaza reluctantly acquiesces to his family's demands.

The last scene is a bit strange, but at least it wasn't a `Hollywood' ending. This is a great movie for drama-comedy fans and people with an interest in foreign films.

Notorious
(1946)

First-rate suspense story
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. `Notorious' is a unique, distinguished, and brilliant suspense film from Hitch. Starring Cary Grant as a shadowy American spy T.R. Devlin, and Ingrid Bergman as the notorious yet patriotic Alicia Huberman, the daughter of a convicted Nazi.

Devlin recruits Huberman as a spy to infiltrate the Rio operations of renegade Nazi Alexander Sebastian, played by Claude Rains.

The movie is full of famous visual Hitchcockian scenes; most between the two lead characters, but the utmost haunting scene is the subtle one at the end where we envision the fate of Sebastian.

Hitch's last big success of the Nineteen-Forties, and Oscar nominated for best writing-original screenplay (Ben Hecht) and best supporting actor (Claude Rains), `Notorious' is highly recommended.

Apocalypse Now
(1979)

Francis Ford Coppola's Third Masterpiece
Apocalypse Now Redux.

Rating: 9 out of 10. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The original version was excellent, which I rated 9 out of 10 as well. The Redux version is a really long 202 minutes but is slightly better. The scenes that make up the extra 49 minutes give the movie a more complete feel.

After seeing Apocalypse Now Redux for the second time recently (the first time was a year and a half ago), I just had to write a comment about it. While a really long movie, I find that it goes by really fast, a sign that the film is truly interesting. For some strange reason, the Redux version seems to go by faster than the original version to me.

Some believe that Coppola failed to make a great movie here. Don't listen to these type of comments, this movie is a wonderful piece of art deserving a viewing every couple of years.

The great things about Apocalypse Now:

1. Martin Sheen as Captain Willard.

2. The sardonicism of the Vietnam war.

3. Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz.

4. The music.

5. Robert Duvall as Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore.

6. The narration by Martin Sheen.

7. Francis Ford Coppola's personal touch.

Signs
(2002)

Well Executed
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. I have to say that before seeing this movie, I was bracing myself for a disappointment due to mixed reviews. I must now say that I found the movie to be quite remarkable, well executed, and nicely crafted. M. Night Shyamalan rightly deserves respect for putting out a film with a lot of his personal touches instead of putting out something that people expect to see. While `Signs' will have scenes of the traditional or convention variety, it is the ambiance of the scenes that is unique.

Shyamalan made good use of the films lead actors. Mel Gibson as recent widower Graham Hess, and Joaquin Phoenix as the younger brother Merrill Hess are both well cast and interesting to watch. They both brought a lot to the movie. Shyamalan himself has a somewhat key supporting role in the movie as well.

It was a good choice to make the movie focus on the Hess family instead of the global distress of an alien invasion. The few times that we did see an alien during the middle of the movie was really frightening. Especially the first time Graham Hess (Gibson) sees one right outside the window of his children's bedroom. I believe we see an alien (or part of one) seven times in the movie, and the first six appearances were only for a split second, at first I was dissatisfied that we didn't see more. Yet in hindsight, less appearances of an alien does accomplish more for the movie.

We never find out why the aliens were invading, but the viewer does realize that they were hostile. Here is one qualm that I have with this movie, it seemed a little illogical to me that the aliens would think that humans wouldn't realize their (the aliens) weakness since this substance is so abundant on our planet.

`Signs' really held my attention and I highly recommend it. In fact, I look forward to seeing it again.

Mulholland Dr.
(2001)

Perplexing allegorical mystery
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by David Lynch. I felt confused and cheated right after watching ‘Mulholland Dr.' the other day, I suppose that I was expecting more explanations during the conclusion.

The movie continues to haunt me since seeing it, and I've been thinking about the story scene by scene, I have come to appreciate it now. David Lynch has made a winner here and I look forward to another viewing of this film.

The first two-thirds of the movie is extremely engaging, I didn't want to take my eyes off the screen for even a second. It has been a long time since I've felt so hypnotized by a movie.

Lead actors Naomi Watts as Betty Elms/Diane Selwyn, and Laura Elena Harring as Rita/Camilla Rhodes are fantastic and both are visually stunning.

A movie about dreams, love, relationships, and the darker side of Hollywood, ‘Mulholland Dr.' is a wonderful piece of cinematic art. Even though there are many unanswered questions, I would highly recommend ‘Mulholland Dr.' for its intrigue.

Murder by Numbers
(2002)

Great movie if you want to see psychotically disturbing characters
Rating: 7 out of 10. Directed by Barbet Schroeder. If you like Hitchcock's `Rope', then you will like this movie. `Murder by Numbers' stars Sandra Bullock as psychologically troubled yet brilliant police detective Cassie Mayweather. Her partner is Sam Kennedy, a non-discriminatory detective played by Ben Chaplin.

The teenage killers are high school students Richard Haywood (Ryan Gosling) and Justin Pendleton (Michael Pitt). These young psychotics are out to prove their superiority by committing the perfect murder and getting away with it, but the nearness of capture is exciting and thrilling to at least one of the killers.

The supporting characters include a police chief, an assistant district attorney, and the high school janitor that the killers pin the murder on. The movie reminds me of various `Hitchcock' movies crossed with the TV show `Law and Order'. We see a fair bit of police work and it is really interesting to see which clues the detectives follow and which ones they don't.

The other plot in the movie relates to Cassie Mayweather's past and incarcerated ex-husband. Most viewers found this aspect of the movie unnecessary and slow moving, but I found this to the most intriguing part of the story.

`Murder by Numbers' is a nicely crafted movie if you are looking for safe, or should I say dangerous, murder mystery. For more thrills and suspense, try `Se7en' or Hitchcock's `Dial M for Murder'.

Torn Curtain
(1966)

Middle-of-the-road Hitchcock movie
Rating: 7 out of 10. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. While `Torn Curtain' has some interesting scenes, it is not a remarkable movie and to some extent a let down to Hitch fans.

The rather well known scenes including the bizarre murder in the farmhouse, the captivating chase through the museum, the bus scene, and the chalkboard moment were droll and entertaining. However many other scenes left me bored, which rarely happens with Hitchcock movies. It was also hard to believe Paul Newman's character as a renowned scientist.

I wouldn't recommend this movie to just anyone, only Hitchcock fans and enthusiasts of the suspense thriller genre.

The 39 Steps
(1935)

Early and Distinctive Thriller by Hitch
Rating: 7 out of 10. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Many call this the original Hitchcock 'wrong man' thriller. It is the story of Richard Hannay, played by Robert Donat, who is a Canadian visiting London, England in the 1930's. Due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Hannay is caught up in a web of espionage and becomes a wanted man on the run.

Hitchcock's direction is excellent. Many fans call "The 39 Steps" his breakthrough movie. It also appears to be the original outline for his `North by Northwest' made more than twenty years later.

Although a very good movie, my rating of 7 does not suggest that it is incredible, this is because compared to all movies since the 1930's in general, "The 39 Steps" is quite dated. However, many scenes are as riveting as ones in other Hitchcock films, so therefore this movie is not to be missed by Hitch fans.

Frenzy
(1972)

Intense comeback movie for Hitch
Rating: 7 out of 10. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. This is Hitch's second last movie and a comeback for him since his two movies right before this one, "Topaz" and "Torn Curtain" were somewhat lackluster and not well received by fans.

Like most Hitchcock movies, the 'wrong man' and 'manhunt' themes are used. Hitch was going with what he knew best instead of experimenting with something different.

Unlike most Hitchcock movies, "Frenzy" does not have a famous lead actor. Previous Hitchcock 'wrong man' movies had Cary Grant or James Stewart. The other thing that was a departure for a Hitchcock movie was the abundant use of nudity.

The story takes place in London, England. A bartender, Richard Blaney, played by Jon Finch, is fired from his job by his unbearable boss. Now unemployed, he has to rely on the charity of his ex-wife to get by.

While this is happening, a flood of serial killings has been happening in London. Things get worse for Blaney when he becomes the prime suspect of these murders.

If you like Hitchcock's work then you should see this movie.

Manon des sources
(1986)

The Saga Continues with Vengeance and Revelation
Rating: 7 out of 10. Directed by Claude Berri. In this sequel to `Jean de Florette', ten years have passed. Jean's daughter, Manon, has been living in the area near where her father died, she has been tending goats, has a dog, but has been living in poverty.

At the end of ‘Jean de Florette', we see Manon realizing that the Soubeyran's had blocked off her father's water supply, the movie ended with a horrified Manon. Early on in this concluding installment to the story, Manon realizes that the people in the nearby village knew about the water spring on their land but did not say anything. Some of these people were even distant cousins to Jean, but only the Soubeyran's knew this at the time and did not share this information.

Near the halfway point in this movie, Manon discovers the source of the water for the whole village, she has her revenge by cutting off the water of those who killed her father. A bold and brazen move, but one that sends a strong message. This all seems very sensational and theatric, but the director's message of philosophical justice comes across in a satisfying way.

The climax of the movie contains surprises that I won't mention here. While shocking, the viewers will find themselves thinking that they should have realized these plot points during the first movie.

While this is a great movie, I thought the first installment was better, therefore, `Manon of the Spring' gets a 7 out of 10. I think the two movies should have been released as one long epic, it would have had a greater impact.

All the President's Men
(1976)

Exciting Investigative Journalism
Rating: 9 out of 10. Directed by Alan Pakula. Robert Redford does a great job playing the role of journalist Bob Woodward. The more talented Dustin Hoffman gives an excellent performance as Carl Bernstein. I once heard that this movie is a good guide for 'how-to' and 'how-not-to' conduct investigative journalism.

The two journalists team up right after the Watergate burglars get arrested. They follow their own clues, but these tips only lead to dead ends, the puzzle is complicated. However, these Watergate burglars seem to be linked to the Republican Party and possibly to the White House.

Alan Pakula does an incredible job of keeping the movie suspenseful and intriguing. As the story progresses, the viewer feels deeply involved in how these two journalists uncover the conspiracy. The contrast between the two main characters adds to the movie. Redford as Woodward has a relaxed and charming approach, while Hoffman as Bernstein is more persistent and sometimes daring.

Woodward has a White House contact played by Hal Holbrook named 'Deep Throat' that he meets in 'Cloak and Dagger' style in a dark undercover parking lot, we never see his face clearly and he speaks in a rough rasping voice. 'Deep Throat' provides Woodward information in an indirect manner and keeps the journalists on the right track. This type of informant character has been replicated many times over in suspense movies and TV, especially on the TV series 'The X-Files'.

Jason Robarbs as Bill Bradlee, editor of 'The Washington Post' performs remarkably as boss of the newspaper. Constantly reminding Woodward and Bernstein to find good solid evidence, but he also gets frustrated when none of the informants will go on the record with what they know. Robarbs won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role.

I never get bored with watching this movie. If you have not seen it before, treat yourself to a viewing.

Jean de Florette
(1986)

The epitome of relentlessness and greed
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by Claude Berri. This is one of the most impressive French language films ever, "Jean de Florette" is thoughtfully powerful and kept me extremely interested throughout the movie.

Set in Provence, France in the 1920s, `Jean de Florette' is a story of how two farmers of the Soubeyran family methodically extinguish the happiness of their new neighbour, Jean, played by well renowned French actor Gérard Depardieu, who left his job as a tax collector and has moved from the city to build a utopia for his family to live in.

Jean has inherited the house and land next to the Soubeyran's farm. Before Jean moves onto his new land, the Soubeyran's had plans to buy it because of a valuable supply of water; they block this water spring with concrete, hoping that the lack of a good source of water will discourage the new owner so that they could buy the land cheaply.

Initially, Jean has some success growing his crops and raising his rabbits, but then a long drought comes, forcing Jean to bring water from a far away well, this starts Jean's plunge into desolation.

The story continues in the sequel, `Manon of the Spring'.

The Matrix Reloaded
(2003)

Enjoyable
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. I just saw `The Matrix Reloaded' today on its opening day. Ever since the `The Matrix' came out in 1999, fans have eagerly waited for this sequel and the upcoming `The Matrix Revolutions'. I waited several minutes in rainy cold weather to buy my ticket, and while waiting, I was constantly thinking that this better be worth it. It was worth it, but barely.

Three good things about `The Matrix Reloaded': One, the special effects are great. There is this highway chase scene that is visually stunning. Two, it is appealingly stylish in a very artistic way. Three, it doesn't suffer from the ‘strong beginning but weak ending' syndrome, it gets better as the story progresses, however, the ending is a cliff hanger that shocks the viewer.

Three terrible things about `The Matrix Reloaded': One, the trite annoying dialogue that plagued the first movie is here as well. Two, there are several new characters that are not well introduced, and therefore, become distractions that add little to the movie, however, a couple of these characters are visually welcoming diversions. Three, the fight scenes get a bit tedious.

Like the first Matrix movie, the special effects and fight scenes dominate, and the story is lacking in substance, but I gave it a high rating anyways for its entertainment value. I also found myself laughing several times, there is some subtle humor thrown in.

The Matrix
(1999)

Refreshing
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. `The Matrix' is an action packed science fiction story full of movie aphorisms, but fortunately has many innovative ideas. The surprise hit of the summer of 1999 grossing over $170 million, `The Matrix' was the fifth highest grossing movie in North America that year.

I love many genres of film, but I mostly watch drama or thriller movies, and generally avoid the action genre. So I was pleasantly surprised by `The Matrix', it was a great diversion that was welcomed when I first watched it. Having just seen `Matrix Reloaded' today, I feel the need to see this movie again sometime soon.

There were two things I didn't like about this movie. One, the acting is unremarkable and nearly nonexistent, there is more dancing than real acting. Two, the dialogue is terribly cliched.

Even with its flaws, `The Matrix' isn't bad at all and worth viewing for anyone that has not seen it yet.

The Grapes of Wrath
(1940)

Sad and Inspirational at the same time
Rating: 8 out of 10. Directed by John Ford. "The Grapes of Wrath" is based on John Steinbeck's novel, takes place in the Great Depression, and effectively portrays the grief and hopelessness of what many people went through during this time.

Henry Fonda plays the lead character as the eldest Joad family son returning home from serving time in jail for manslaughter. Expecting to work on the family farm, he finds the farm deserted and run-down. His family has been kicked off the land. After reuniting with his family, they begin a long difficult trip to California in search of work.

Nominated for seven academy awards, winner of two, including John Ford's second of four best director awards.

How Green Was My Valley
(1941)

One of the Greatest Films Ever
Rating: 9 out of 10. Directed by John Ford, "How Green Was My Valley" is one of the best movies ever made. Winner of five academy awards including a best director award for Ford, and best picture beating out movies "Citizen Kane" and "The Maltese Falcon".

This story is about a Welsh family in a coal mining town in the late 19th century. Donald Crisp, who won an academy award in this film for best supporting actor, does a superb job playing the head of the Morgan family, his wife played by Sara Allgood (nominated for best supporting actress) is in a strong role as well. The female lead character is the daughter of the Morgan family, played by Maureen O'Hara as Angharad. A really young Roddy McDowell plays Huw, the youngest son. Walter Pidgeon is brilliant as the village preacher. Writing this comment makes me want want to see it again.

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