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Saturday Night Fever

Night Fever
I believe that this was the first movie that I saw in the theatre when I four-years-old. (My second movie was Star Wars-also in 1978-then the Muppet Movie, and then I am sure the next was Popeye). The baby sitter took me to Saturday Night Fever, and I remember my legs fell asleep sitting in the seat for so long. I viewed the movie again tonight, and this time nothing fell asleep.

Despite the fact that the lead actress was completely the wrong chick for this film, and although the movies ending was sort of lackadaisical; nevertheless, the acting was all pretty honest, nothing was forced, and the film flowed very, very well. Coupled with the fact that the soundtrack is superb & the dancing was top-notch it tells us a lot about how we took a relatively cool style of music and mistreated it with coked-up lifestyles and loud polyester. Sure, it might look cool en-retro; however, asked someone who lived the discotheque life and they will grin and bow their heads in shame.

This is really a fun movie that actually contains substance.

I think Saturday Night Fever deserves a lot better rating than most IMDB users give it. As for me, I am going to break out my platform shoes and give it a solid 8/10.


The songs are wonderful (all but the `Sandra Dee' number), the scene with Travolta trying out for the different sports is top notch, and this musical/movie has been an inspiration for many. The last 15 minutes of the movie is pure musical brilliance (except for possibly the dumbest scene in musical history: when the car started to fly). Personally, I had not seen this movie in 18 or 20 years, and I must admit that it has tarnished quite a bit for me over time. In fact, I can only give it a 6.8/10…Bottom line, I think most people must have a sentimental attachment to `Grease' in order to like it after all these years. Too much fluff for me, but I can see why people dig it. Not that I cannot get into syrupy type movies; however, I found myself loathing the parts where it sounded like everyone talking at once. There was very little breathing space and only so many leather jackets and 30-year-old teenagers the eye could take. Also I am more of a film-as-art critic than I was the first million times I saw `Grease" )back in the early eighties).

Don't get me wrong. I mean, I am of the generation in which this movie came out; nevertheless, I have since become a firm believer in keeping stage productions off the silver screen. Combining the two genres has done nothing but muddy the waters a bit. It is like 99% of the time when a band covers a song it is never as great as when the original artists did it. What's more, it does not really seem like art to me when a Director or a Producer takes an existing stage production and trys to pass it off to the film crowd as something new. If all it takes to make a box office smash is to take someone elses work, add a few extra lights, nifty camera angles, and a few big names, then hell, I want a piece of that action! It is a lazy man's game and it does not support artistic integrity. A case in point, take any opera, film it, put it on DVD...a few people will buy it, but most of the purist will snub their collective noses at it. Then again, the movie going public (in general) do not SEEM to be so pure in the search for excellence in their chosen genre. *NOTE* I am not so much talking about "Grease" here, but a certain movie named after the Windy City, that won a best picture Oscar. What a travesty But, hey, if people never mixed different styles of art together then we would not have nearly half the music that we have today…so who am I to complain?

Nonetheless, as pure film/art I think `Grease' would have been better off on Broadway. And I bet John Travolta was not even driving that car in the big car race scene (ha) (Not really funny).

Fun to watch 68% of the time. 6.8/10

I could say so more, but nobody reads this stuff anyway.

The Recruit

Al Pacino Deserves An Oscar...
And that's the little mean/green Oscar that lives in a garbage can and not the golden-boy Oscar that lives on caviar and talent. I mean, Pacino use to be quite talented; but he has been playing the exact same role since the `Scent of a Woman' wafted down the Hollywood hills and was never smelt again. Now all I smell is trash. I pray that the man will one day snap to it and re-invent himself, because the same fire that made him so great throughout the 70s and 80s has long vanished.

Enter `The Recruit.' I give this movie a 5.2/10…and that is only because after the first 10 minutes the movie got interesting. However, I lost complete interest 45 later. I have to admit, Collin Farrell will be interesting to watch in the future, but the future can never save the present (therefore, so much for that notion).

God help me! And I love spy/ C.I.A / F.B.I films! Nevertheless, I have seen better film on my tongue in the morning.

Maybe I am not being fair. Maybe I just want the old Al Pacino back. Then again, maybe this movie just plain sucked. I don't know anymore. All I have to say is:


Love Liza

Unleaded Please...
Computers, radio controlled airplanes & boats, suicide, and huffing gasoline: these are just a few oddities that make up `Love Liza.' A strange, strange movie that is beautifully stranger the more you think about it. Once again Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant, and although I found very little humor in the movie (as advertised), this movie could very well speak to the hearts of anyone who has experienced a deep loss in their lives.

Depressing? My God, I have not seen a movie this depressing in a long while. So very sad. And now I must end my review, for it is 2:46 A.M. and I have a lot to think about. I give `Love Liza' an `8.2'

One Hour Photo

One Hour & Thirty-Six Minute Photo
I have a friend who will hear nothing good about Robin Williams (and that's cool, because there is nothing wrong with dissenting opinions-in fact I will always welcome the other side of the coin). Nevertheless, `One Hour Photo' is just another example that proves my friend wrong, and if he doesn't like it he knows what he can do with his opinion.

I did not set out to make a brief survey of Robin William's acting career, but `One Hour Photo' prompted me to do so. Now, the chances are that Mr. Williams will never go down as one of the greatest actors of our (or any time), and rightly so. However, his contributions to film cannot be overlooked. I can think of no other comedian that has ever tried his hand at `serious' roles and actually succeeded the way he has. I mean, Robin Williams does, in fact, hold an Oscar and has been nominated on numerous occasions. What's more, unlike Jim Carrey (who might have a shot at the `serious' tip), Williams started with a dramatic role in only his second feature film! That would be `The World According to Garp;' and along with such noble (if not pretty darn cool) efforts such as, `Dead Poet's Society,' `Awakenings,' `The Fisher King,' `Good Will Hunting,' and `What Dreams May Come,' we can see that he has risen to the occasion (sometimes in grand style) and he is not so much of a hack. Which brings me to back to `One Hour Photo'…

There was nothing wrong with this movie; nothing wrong with Robin Williams' performance (he was convincing, well suited for the role, and showed nice acting nuances). The movie had an interesting plot, it was well paced; it had a nice color palate, and it had a few subtle plot strokes. However, I only feel compelled to give it a 7.6/10, overall. I don't know why. Maybe the movie was just too NICE. But, I did enjoy it! I will even venture to say that if Robin Williams had not played the lead, then the movie might not have been anything.

Anyway, a `7.6' is not too shabby in my book. If I saw it for 10 bucks, used, I would purchase it for my collection.

Gods and Generals

An "A" for almost...
The acting was melodramatic and often contrived; there was not enough Robert Duvall; and the mustaches and beards (again) looked fake. But who cares?!!!? `Gods and Generals' still contains the best Civil War action sequences to date! Unlike its predecessor, `Gettysburg,' this movie has three major battles instead of just one; moreover, it shows how the south was completely winning the war until General Jackson died.

Another cool thing about `Gods & Generals' is that it relegates the issue of slavery in antebellum America where it actually was. It was the least of reasons why the Civil War was fought, yet most Americans, today, think it was primary. Just watch `Gangs of New York' to see how the common Northern man viewed the situation of African Americans (but please don't think you can get your history lessons from watching movies. Try a good book).

Anyway, the movie stinks in many places, but greatly makes up for it in others. I give it an `8' for scope, ambition, and super real combat sequences.

P.S. I really missed Tom Berenger (fake beard and all).

P.S.S. Hats off to the Civil War re-enactors who corrected their efforts this time around.

The Hours

Sleeping Through The Hours
What an awesome multi-layered story! What a great host of actresses and actors! What a great performance by Nicole Kidman! Nevertheless (whether I am shortchanging myself or not), there were deeper implications: deeper levels to this movie that I did not care to sink my teeth into. Forget the fact that you could see the line of demarcation in Nicole's false nose (aren't the big bucks paid to makeup artists to detect such obvious flubs?); and forget the fact that this movie is the most depressing flick that I have seen in recent memory. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I simply could not bare to go further than the layers the movie presented on a superficial basis.

Having said that: Taking nothing away from Daniel Day-Lewis in `Gangs of New York,' (my personal choice for best actor of 2002), when will Ed Harris get a best actor Oscar? The guy was brilliant in `The Hours'-not to mention the fact that he just keeps getting better with time.

*A Special Note* I don't know if anybody realized this or not, but John C. Riley's character in `The Hours' was explaining to his son how when he was in World War II, fighting in the south pacific, he thought of his son's mother the whole time. Well, in `The Thin Red Line' John C. Riley played a soldier fighting on Guadalcanal, in the south pacific in WWII. Of course they are two different characters; nonetheless, I thought it was an interesting coincidence.

I give `The Hours': `7'

Singin' in the Rain

Said Before...(I'm Sure)
I have to admit that I am not much up on my musicals. Nevertheless, after watching this movie it makes loads of sense why this might very well be the greatest musical of all time. This flick was really enjoyable from start to finish! However, not being a big musical buff, a few things really stuck out to me: 1.) For all the greatness of Gene Kelly, Donald O' Conner stole the show (although I realize that Kelly is the one who choreographed all the moves). 2.) The only thing that keeps the movie from being a "10" in my book is the whole "Broadway Melody." While it is very entertaining in itself; nevertheless, it made no sense in the grand scheme of the movie. In other words, it seemed liked SUPERB filler...yet it is still seemed to be filler material. There is no excuse for any movie, no matter how good it is, to contain stuff with no relevance to the picture as a whole. Not that anybody will read any of this, but I thought Singin In The Rain was great!

The Godfather: Part II

I simply will not be suckered into all the hype surrounding a movie with no plot and as slow as turtle soup. I know this movie is a "classic," but so are Vlasic pickles--and that does not mean they are any less sour. Now, the Robert Deniro segments are nice, but so is "Once Upon A Time In America." Along with "Annie Hall" (and I love Woody Allen films) & "Shakespear In Love," we see how the best movies for their respective years do not always win the little gold statue. I guess that is all I have to say (besides why did Brando have to die so soon in the trilogy/).

Gangs of New York

Sad but True
It is kind of sad, but 90% of the people who go see this movie will never realize that 95% of the movie either really happened, is based on real events; the people were one time real people, the costumes were very close to real (maybe a tad exaggerated, but not by much), and that New York City, of 2003, is probably a much more wholesome place than it was 140 years ago. Read the book `Gangs of New York,' published in the 1920s, in which the movie is roughly based. The movie will look less fantastical, and maybe people will appreciate the movie for all its `realism.' (Although you can bet Hollywood creeps in from time to time.).

Rose Red

All Is Forgiven
Perhaps I am looking over some of the obvious "cheese" in this movie because I am a die hard Stephen King fan; and perhaps I watched this movie as if I were reading a book. Whatever the case may be, I loved the movie for its shear magnitude, its basic premise, and the majority of the acting was not half bad, as well (for a made for TV flick). I just can't help but to read between the lines of "Rose Red" and see it as a book that would have made a much better movie had it been a bit "grittier": not PG-13. Neverthless, like I said, I am biased; and I don't think the movie is too cheesy for the average viewer (I could be wrong)...The movie leaves room for my own imagination, and that I am pleased with. God help me; I am giving this movie a *9*

Bringing Out the Dead

Snow Falling To The Sky
I have never really known what to think of Nick Cage as an actor, but the guy can be pretty cool at times, and it is not like he sucks. In fact, I think he probably fluctuates more than any other actor I know of. It is my belief that in Bringing Out The Dead, however, it is not so much Nick Cage's acting that is the draw but seeing something that we haven't seen before on film (I'm sorry but the old sitcom "Emergency" just does not cut it). Bringing Out The Dead has a real pulse, and I think it is largely due to the cinematography, photography, camera manipulation, and let us not forget, a pretty wacky story that despite some lapses, is still very believable, not to mention straight up cool! Is Martin Scorcese the reason that it the movie is a hit for me? Probably so (though I cannot claim to be a big fan of his). It would have been a "9" if it were not for a few slow moments; therefore, I believe an "8.7" is in order for a job well done, and a movie that is certainly not a waste of viewing time. It might just make you laugh (or even creep you out a bit). I just hope I would not have to call on these guys to get me to the E.R....Alive!!!!!


It's A Mitzvah
(Drum Roll, Please)…And just when you thought that Edward Norton was going to steal the show, enter the elder statesman, John Malkovich, and you witness a showstopper that is seldom seen this side of Wayne Newton at the MGM Grand (that was a joke). No foolin', however, when I say that `Being John Malkovich' must be a whole lot of fun! Edward Norton was superb in his roll leading up to `Fight Club,' and you can always bet the bank on John Turturro. The biggest surprise came in the form of Matt Damon, who I am gaining quite a respect for, and the most likeliest candidate to receive my `Actors Who I Have Tried To Hate, But Just Can't Bring Myself To It' award. Damon was the mystery cream filling, sandwiched between the likes of Norton & Malkovich; and who in the heck doesn't like the cream filling in Oreos? Enter an above average plot, a girlfriend who stays out of the picture, and a young man by the name of Martin Landau (who, by the way, could still put on a better acting clinic than most of the soft soap coming out of Hollywood these days), and what you have is a movie worth watching, not to mention worth owning. Don't thank the Academy yet! But, still, an `8.7' is nothing to fold on!

The Boondock Saints

First Time's The Charm...
Like it says in my summary, I guess The Boondock Saints lost some of its charm upon subsequent viewings. Don't get me wrong, the movie is great; however, I remember my first time seeing, and I would have probably given it a "9.5"...These days, for whatever reason, I give it a deserved "8", and that's that. William Dafoe is pretty much always a winner in my book (though he sometimes goes a bit over-the-top), and you can always get a laugh from Ron Jeremy. Hey, I know how I can sum up the Boondock Saints without trying to hunt around for things to say about it. The movie is just a really solid flick (as solid as week old oatmeal left to dry in the sun): pretty solid, yet slightly permeable. "8"

A Midnight Clear

A Dead Boy Named Matt
There is the classic, or `Golden Age,' of WWII based movies, from the 50s, 60s and 70s; and then there is the age of ultra-realism: those movies about WWII (or any war for that matter), that because you can show more on film, be more graphic in war's depiction, and because cinema has changed so much, it allows us to see more of how war actual was, instead of the watered down versions we had been getting for years. Don't get me wrong. When most of us speak of such classics like `Sands of Iwo Jima,' `The Longest Day,' or `A Bridge Too Far' (and so many other great WWII movies), we are perfectly right to sing our praises of such timeless standards. Nevertheless, there is a good chance that we should be even more grateful for these modern WWII gems that have raised the bar to permit us a closer glimpse of how this war really felt to those who fought in it. I suppose all I can say at this point would be to watch `A Midnight Clear,' and perhaps you would understand why I would choose this movie to be ranked only behind the likes of `Band of Brothers' and `Saving Private Ryan.' Then watch some other modern ultra-real WWII flicks like `When Trumpets Fade,' `Das Boot' and maybe even `Cross of Iron;' and then gauge for yourself. `A Midnight Clear,' though not really smacking of anti-war themes, yet showing the futility and absurdity that only propels us to hold our breath; it is a perfect example of not only reality, but of how a WWII movie works with probably no more than 50 rounds fired throughout the whole film. Poetic (though not as much as `The Thin Red Line'), great dialog, and a premise that is built much on fact. Largely based upon a true story, and taken from the book by a WWII veteran that was actually there, this movie keeps great company among the new ultra-real films; and it simply moves me. I hope it moves you, as well. 9.4

We Were Soldiers

Not Black Hawk Down (thank God)
The opposite of Black Hawk Down, it was nice to see a post-World War II movie that did not condone our actions there. I am convinced that the American experience in Vietnam was not one that all of the soldiers who fought there shared, but more of a highly personal experience: that is, more than any other war in our history, each man viewed it radically different from the next, but they seem to always agree on the major points. We Were Soldiers agrees on the major points, and shows another side of the war that we are not use to seeing in the movies. All points are valid; but a few are just different. I am so glad this movie did not try to delude us into thinking that patriotism is watching your friends die for nothing. I give it an 8.75

Mississippi Burning

House Burning Down
What keeps this movie from being a "9" in my book? Well, it is not the story. It is not the acting or the cast. It is too many houses burning down, when all we needed to see was a couple: a couple of houses burning, maybe one or two acts of viloence--we would have gotten the picture, and maybe the movie could have been trimmed down to about an hour and forty-five minutes. Believe me, I love a good move that can just take you in and you don't care how long it is. It is just too bad that this one keeps its length in repetition, and not solid content. Please don't get me wrong, however, the movie is rather brilliant, and Gene Hackman is perfect as always; therefore, I will give it a solid 8.2

This Is Spinal Tap

The lyrics to "Big Bottom" says it all in this classic rockumentary: Clever, witty, stupid, and loud! I love humor where it is great on the surface and also when you read between the lines. For anyone that loves the sound of a major 5th played on guitars set to 11! I give it an 8.5

Sling Blade

Har d do wn
With so many comments on such an excellent movie I am not sure if I can say anything new; nevertheless, an unlikely cast that really made the movie, and just the right amount of sick dialog and seediness made Sling Blade a fantastic watch. A great story! Cudos for Jack Tripper!

Austin Powers in Goldmember

Skin eating...
I liked the first two movies, and it is a good thing that I used my girfriend's cupons for this one, because the movie really was horrid, in my opinion. There were a few funny, original parts, however the rest of the movie was a mere re-hash of the first two, and you cannot carry a movie by sight-gags alone. I really like Mike Meyers as a real talent. Don't do another Austin Powers movie, Mike. You would only be degrading your talent.

The Royal Tenenbaums

Too Nothing
A clever way of TELLING a story is really not a substitute for a complete LACK of story. Furthermore, it really is a sin to try and justify a whole movie just by the contents of its ending. I give at a "6" for presentation alone.

La guerre du feu

What keeps this movie from being a perfect "10" in my book? The unrealistic looking tribes that our "heroes" must go against. They look a bit silly, but otherwise, I think the movie is perfect. It really is. Please, please, please, let's see this re-mastered on DVD soon! One of my all time faves. It really looks like we are seeing through a window of time 80,000 years ago, in all its beauty and ugliness. "9.5"

Sidewalks of New York

Take the A-Train...
Edward Burns likes Woody Allen. Edward Burns is a very clever writer. Woody Allen is a very clever writer. Both Edward Burns & Woody Allen are from New York. Woody Allen does not appear in "Sidewalks of New York." I expected Woody Allen to walk on the set at any time during "Sidewalks of New York," but Woody Allen does not appear in "Sidewalks of New York." Edward Burns stars in "Sidewalks of New York." Imitation is the perfect form of flattery. Flatter yourself, Edward Burns; you have touched graces with a master (on the sidewalks of New York). Good Job!

Paths of Glory

Always Needed
What is amazing, and given that it was made in 1957, is the almost complete lack of "cheese" that this movie could have had. "Paths of Glory" was way ahead of its time as a war movie: a semi-film noir masterpiece that shows Kubrick stretching his wings and getting a real feel for the world outside of Leave It To Beaver. However, thank the great acting, as well, that carries this movie. Although the groups of actors, including the great Kirk Douglas, never even attempts to try out a French accent; nevertheless, the whole cast does a great job, and only a few times do the actors get carried away into some "stage theatrics" that was common in the movies of this time period. But, we need WWI movies like this, and I am almost ashamed that I had not seen it until now. The photography is beautiful, as well as the realistic battle scenes, and please take special note of even how the soldiers wore their facial hair back in 1916. Everything looks authentic and down to the wire. Even the extras in the film are shown how they really were in the French enlisted army of that time: a mixture of all ages, from very young to men in their 50s. The complete absence of showing the Germans? The enemy is truly within! I could go on about this flick: from the walking down the trench scene, to the photographs of grand halls and architecture, but I will end here, and just say to watch this film, even if you are not a fan of "old" movies. Almost a 10!


Made With Plenty of Charlie
Peter Falk? How can his acting be anything other than a perfect 10? Peter Falk is undeniably `money!' But, he does not make the whole movie, however. Nay, Peter Falk is only one part of what I would call `Swingers with Balls.' Swingers was a great movie, but Made was even better. `Made' is more in your face! Sure Vince Vaughn is more obnoxious in Made, and sure the characters are pretty close to the same as Swingers; nevertheless, I have this distinct feeling that if Made were released first, instead of Swingers, Made would have been the movie people were talking about, and not the other way around. Maybe it is just my personality and my love for the shock value in movies, but I just feel that this one was more on the `money.' Did I mention Peter Falk's great acting? Oh yeah, there is some real talent and dark humor in Jon Favreau's writing and directing. Jon cannot afford to make too many more movies like this one, and I hope he has some other creative colors in his pallet, but only time will tell, and I would love to see some more dark humor from this guy.

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