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A must see slice-of-pie film
I just returned from seeing this delightful film at the Harkins Camelview 5 in Scottsdale, AZ. I was so excited to see it. And my anticipation was well worth the wait. This is a tiny, little story with a big heart shaped pie.

From the moment the story started I was totally absorbed. The writing is so smart, and so funny. Throughout the film my heart laughed and ached with longing. Each actor was perfectly attuned to their character. And it was so wonderful to see Andy Griffith on the big screen.

I am sorry to say that I had not heard of Adrienne Shelly until this film. But from this film alone, I can see what a remarkable writer, director, and actress she was.

If you enjoy slice-of-life stories and pie, this is the film for you.

The Crow: Wicked Prayer

A third disappointment
This film had such potential. A well known story to build upon, and a great cast. But I would not be surprised if every actor did this film because they were contracted to, not because they wanted to. At least that's what the limited amount of actual acting indicates. I've seen all the main stars in other productions, and all of them are sooooo much better than their efforts (or lack there of) here.

For anyone familiar with The Crow, already understands what the basic storyline is going to be. I think the thing to do is to really focus on character development, the Gothic romance, and the gritty violence. None of which is done here. All of it seem contrived, silly even. The characters are just "there", no depth to them. There's romance, but its short and soulless. And there is no creativity to the violence. With the exception of one character, there is waaaaay too much character cockiness. Makes for immediate boredom. There is something to be said for character humbleness (see Indiana Jones).

I really adore the first Crow movie. Such romance, excellent ugly, ruthless, savage supporting characters. Perfect decaying city. The sequels do not come even close to the greatness of the first film. And this one is no exception. Its unfortunate. I'm always hoping for better, but so far, no dice.

Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

The most brightly whimsical film I have ever seen
Amélie is by far my most favorite film. I almost cannot describe how magically wonderful this film is. From the story, the characters, the hair styles, the fashion, the special effects, and especially the actors. There is not one single thing that I dislike about Amélie.

This is one of the most original and ingenious love stories ever written. The world of Amélie's mind is truly a wondrous place to reside.

Major kudos to director Jean-Pierre Jeunet for one of the most creative efforts ever put forth on film. Every character was cast perfectly. I am so pleased that Audrey Tautou was selected over Jeunet's original choice of Emily Watson.

If you like any type of romance story, or foreign films, this is the story for you.

The DVD is packed with tons of extras that make the story go on and on. I highly recommend this film to be added to anyone's film collection. J'aime Amélie.

Silent Tongue

Unfortunately an abysmal western
While renting this film, I had high viewing hopes, seeing who was in the cast, and the fact that it was River Phoenix's last performance. After watching about an hours worth, my hopes were dashed. The story itself is attention-grabbing, but the presentation is way too drawn out. The film never quite gets up to speed.

My father, who watched this with me, is a big fan of westerns, and even he did not enjoy this film. Although, I do have to say, this film is a couple steps up from Pursuit (an even more abysmal western, which I have unfortunately watched).

The ONLY reason I rated this film a 2 instead of a 1, is because you get to see Bill Irwin, a young Dermont Mulroney, some good trick riding, and, of course, River's final performance. Without those, if I could have, I would have rated this film a .5.

The Bourne Supremacy

Quit jerking the camera around!!!
For the love of G-d, keep that camera still! Jeez-louise, I had such high hopes for this film. I knew the story would be good; it had an excellent cast, and another chance for some great stunts and special effects. I'm sure the acting was good. But between the poor editing, and the abominable direction, it was hard to tell. I do not know who gave the green light to director Paul Greengrass, but as soon as the first dailies starting coming in, a gargantuan red light should have popped up. I have not seen anything else directed by Greengrass, but I will be sure to avoid anything else he does.

The type of direction applied to this film was totally immature. There is a lot to be said for keeping the camera still, and letting your audience actually see what is happening. After viewing this film, I could kind of tell you what was going on with the story, but as far as the action sequences go, I've got nothing. Every action sequence was so fast and so jerky, that after a while, I stopped trying to follow what was going on. I figure wait until the end and then see where the story goes from there.

I was really, Really, REALLY excited to see this sequel, and oh so terribly disappointed. Doug Liman did such a superior (no pun intended) job with the first film, I was pretty sure that The Bourne Supremacy would be its equal. Instead it is its jerky younger brother who doesn't know how to take direction.

Save yourself the money. Stick with The Bourne Identity, and avoid The Bourne Supremacy.

Children of Chernobyl

Tears, tears, and more tears
This was a film I watched in one of my anthropology classes at the UofA, spring of '98. Not even 'Schindler's List' made me cry as much as this film. Don't get me wrong, 'Schindler's List' is gut wrenchingly serious, and made my heart ache, but it happened long before I was born. The accident at Chernobyl sticks out in my mind not only because of its horrific nature, the multitude of lies that followed, but also because it happened in my lifetime.

Viewing this film one begins to barely understand the perpetual after shocks of Chernobyl. From the cycle of the contaminated land, the poisoned grass that grows on it, the cows who eat the toxic grass, to the people who eat and drink the tainted cow products, and all the illness that stems from the radiation. Illness that the government, at the time, refused to step up and recognize, and help treat.

A bulk of the film is shot right after Chernobyl blew its top. Meaning that not only are the people being filmed receiving more than their share of radiation, but those filming do as well. After a while, you begin to think, why on earth are these people filming this? Normally when you watch a film, fiction or non, you understand what is happening to the characters, but in real life the actors and the rest of the crew are fine. But everything you see in 'Children of Chernobyl' has been contaminated by radiation. There is no way to get away from it.

Be sure to have a box of tissues, and maybe some paper towels when you watch this. You are going to need it.

Murphy's Law

Should not have been canceled
I remember really, really enjoying this show. It had fantastic writing and great rapport between its actors. I had high hopes for a long run. No such luck for this show. Despite the above mentioned qualities, it was canceled after one season.

I thought that both George Segal and Maggie Han did a great job with unorthodox characters. Who ever heard of an ex-alcoholic insurance investigator living with a extremely beautiful Asian model? Their living situation was even more odd. The apartment they shared was basically one big room, so their respective areas were separated by a wool blanket hung from the ceiling. It was one of the few shows with an Asian character that wasn't terribly pigeonholed into a typical Asian stereotype. Her character was a breath of fresh air in the late 80's.

If you ever get a chance to catch it in reruns, I highly recommend watching it.

Apache Blood

Better to watch it via fast forwarding
This is truly one of the worst films I have had the misfortunate of seeing. It was my dad's turn to rent a film, and for some reason he came home 'Pursuit' a.k.a 'Apache Blood.' The fact that it is a western, piqued his interest. As we began to watch it, we recognized that the acting (what little there was) was horrid, and the plot, insipid. Upon this discovery, we realized that our evenings entertainment was ruined. But maybe not. My dad ingeniously decided to run the tape on fast forward while in play function. With a few added silly sound effects, what was drivel, turned into a hilarious father/daughter evening.

Rocks with Wings

Culture shock and emphasis on girls high school sports
This is a fantastic documentary. It was exciting to watch these players develop a real sense of aggressive competition, a concept not normally associated with (female) Navajo culture. You get to see each Lady Chieftian talk about how they felt about themselves as a person and as a basketball player. So often media attention is placed on boys high school sports, it is refreshing to see a film about girls experiences.

The discussion of the evolution that they went through with their new coach was very insightful. It is rare to hear and see about the meshing of two such diverse minorities. They discovered they had a lot more in common than they would have thought so in the beginning of their coach/player relationship. It was also great to hear about the culture shock that Coach Richardson went through.

By the end, you are so proud of how everyone worked together, and achieved their goals.

The Electric Grandmother

Cute movie
I remember seeing this movie when I was in grade school (eons ago). It was always shown to us during the holiday season. I remember not liking the little girl, for not liking the 'new' grandmother.

This is a cute family movie, that demonstrates aptly the range of emotions some children go through after the loss of a loved one.

Maureen Stapleton does a great job portraying the 'Electric Grandmother.'

Watching Ellie

Great use of real time action.
I recorded the premiere of "Watching Ellie" last night to view after watching my other standard Tuesday night shows. I'm so glad I did, because this show is totally worth watching.

The show's use of real time action is not a not a new concept to television (as seen on HBO and Showtime), but it is rather new to advertiser supported networks like NBC. The concept of using real time action is a breath of fresh air in the land of the half hour sitcom, with their story lines frequently interupted by commercials. The actual length of a 'half-hour' sitcom is twenty-two minutes. "Watching Ellie" broke this into two halves, with only on stop for commercials in the middle. I noticed, thankfully, that there was no laugh track used (an overused concept).

The ability of the actors to accurately portray what is really going on in a twenty-two minute span obviously gives it a sense of real time passing, rather than a beginning-middle-end storyline where everything falls into place perfectly. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my sitcoms. I am frequently glued to my TV in the evenings. But it is nice to see something new every once in a while.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Ellie, a single lounge singer who happens to be sleeping with the married guitarist of her backup band. So far, the show seem to be about watching her everyday life as a lounge singer.

Watching this show reminded me of an episode of "Mad About You" that broached this same concept. The story was about Jamie and Paul as they were trying to put their little Mabel to sleep with out hovering over her. The whole episode was shot in one take, with no commercial interuptions.

I really hope this show makes it. I am looking forward to future episodes.

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