LatigoMeans

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Reviews

The Sunshine Boys
(1996)

Disappointed
I was so looking forward to seeing this remake/rewrite having missed it when it was originally broadcast. I so enjoyed the original with Burns and Matthau, and always wondered what the pairing of Falk and Allen would bring to the story. Alas, very little. Allen was better than OK, but Falk seemed totally miscast. This is strange as I find his work in comedies is usually very good. But as has been mentioned in other comments here, there was absolutely no chemistry between the two actors. I think the reason was Allen took his role to a newer place while keeping the basis of the relationship between his character and Falk's true to the story. He didn't play George Burns playing Lewis. He let his personality and comic delivery take over the role. Falk, on the other hand, didn't seem to rise above the Willy Clark as done by Walter Matthau. He didn't even seem to me to have ever been Allen's comic partner. Just not his role. Unfair to compare the two versions? Perhaps, but if one is going to try and redo what was done so well before, one has to expect the yardstick to be what it is.

Where Sleeping Dogs Lie
(1991)

Not so surprising film
There are three reasons to watch, and enjoy, this film... Sizemore, Sizemore and Sizemore.

Dylan McDermott is alright and all, beefcake does nothing for me. A dozen guys could've played this part. A half dozen would've made something of it. Sharon Stone... anyone could have played her part, and she acted as if she was proving just that. She looked good doing it, no surprise. A little slow moving and the plot is very predictable but a nice ending semi-twist.

It is Tom Sizemore's performance that makes this film worth watching. I always liked this guy but he does a good-to-great weirdo in this movie.

7 out of 10... Too generous?? To each his own.

Ash Wednesday
(2002)

Not great but OK
First of all, it could have been shorter due to the redundant establishment of the primary story line. A couple more scenes of Ed Burns walking around the streets with that boring musical theme and I may have given up on this film.

Elijah Wood was totally miscast. A more wrong casting of the role of Sean is not imaginable. OK, maybe imaginable if you include Pee Wee Herman. I agree with another writer here that Oliver Platt could've gotten some more dialog and scenes, but that's what it is. He probably liked the idea of playing a heavy for a change. He should do more I think.

I figured the closing scenes to a "T"... from the saloon showdown to the reason for the crew cap and peacoat. I claim no particular brilliance, it seemed pretty obvious.

All in all I'd say watch it when it appears on cable, save the rental fee. A 6.5 - 7.0 rating is generous but I like Ed Burns, stories about Irish street hoods and a plus when it's Hells Kitchen in NYC instead of the Southies. No offense Boston.

Little Odessa
(1994)

A better film than some may think
*** SPOILERS*****

I enjoyed this film primarily because of Tim Roth, Max Schell and the location... Brighton Beach, Brooklyn... the "Little Odessa" of the title. Russian immigrants have made this part of Brooklyn their own over the years... both good and bad Russian immigrants. Such is life.

Roth's need for a family re-connect drives him to put himself at risk as he assumes a murder contract in the "old neighborhood," a place his past has made very dangerous for him. This is not his first "contract" as he is a hired gun, hence his banishment from his family... more specifically his father - Max Schell.

Throughout the film his struggle to connect on any level with where he "comes from" is the underlying theme and ultimately the ruination of his family and love(?) - in parts natural (his Mother), associative (his Lover), accidental (his Brother) and finally purposeful (his Father). For it is his Father's body that he disposes of at the films conclusion (note the slippers and the weight of the body). His stare into space at the fade to black after remembering his last visit with his Mother and Brother, merely enforces the total loss of what he so wanted - to go home. A home now empty of all that mattered to him.

Anyway, that's the way I saw it.

Putney Swope
(1969)

How Many Syllables, Mario?
I can't say how many times that one line has made me laugh or how often I've described that scene to folks not familiar with this film. I saw it the year it was released, I was 19. I don't think there were a dozen people in that East Village theater that night. For years I thought we were the only ones who saw it. Nice to see here that others found it as hysterical as I had, and see it's lasting value despite the time gone by. Rent it, buy it or steal it.... a must see.

Stranded
(2001)

El Supremo Stinko
The only two good things about this film were: 1) The opening credits because they gave me an idea for something I am working on completely unrelated to this film or others like it. 2) The closing credits because they indicated the end of this tragedy.

They should have taken all the money spent in the making of this film, including the salaries paid to the 'actors,' piled it up in the middle of a room and set it ablaze. That would have made a better film then this turkey.

In fact using the term turkey is an insult to turkeys the world over.

Don't just pass it by... run, very fast, very far away.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin
(2001)

Not as bad as all that ***Some Spoilers***
I was expecting much worse, remembering the negative reviews I read when it was originally released in theatres, and most of the user comments here are certainly not kind at all, but when this popped up on Showtime I figured I'd give it a go. Certainly the 'free' viewing may contribute to my less than eager attitude about panning this film as many others have done, but after it finished I found myself thinking for a casual night of TV film it was OK. I thought also, as others have mentioned, that Cage's attempt at an Italian accent was unnecessary. Viewers can easily make the mental leap to an Italian officer without benefit of a poor accent. I mean it's not like we think they're all speaking English in Greece, right? Just opens you up to the kind of criticism it garnered. I confess to not reading the book, but now knowing (via the posts here) the Cruz/Cage characters get back together in their 80's, and not a mere two years after the war's end, would have been a more striking, and satisfactory conclusion to the story. As far as the period, "Mediterraneo" was a much better film, but this had it's moments. A happy ending on a rainy Tuesday night in Georgia is OK, and the world goes on as one expects it would even if the film isn't the brightest of cinematic efforts. 5/10 - 6/10, maybe even a 7/10 if you have no reason to expect more than a casual evening's entertainment.

Bye Bye Birdie
(1963)

Simply an all-time favorite!
First of all let's get one thing out in the open up front, I saw this film in a movie theater when I was 13. I can not sufficiently describe the effect Ann-Margaret up there on the big screen had on me, though your best guesses are right except probably not strong enough. Yes, I know, completely un-PC and all that, but I WAS 13 after all and absolutely blown away. The opening and closing title song sequences, and the club dance for 'Got A Lot Of Livin" are still favorites, though now more smile provoking and heart warming then what the original effect had been. So there's that perspective.

As far as the negative comments about it's comparison to the Broadway show, I had, and have still no frame of reference. And if the dull lifeless TV rendition, which held so much promise with folks like Jason Alexander, George Wendt, Vanessa Williams, etc., is a measure of what could have been, I'm glad BBB'63 wasn't. When compared to BBB'63 it was a boring stinker.

So often movies of plays, or of books don't live up to the original. More often than not for reasons of brevity and cinematic needs. That's Hollywood then and today. But BBB'63 took advantage of the 'then' expanding medium and the updates made the film a bit more topical for it's release date, as in the Russian bits. So why not! It was, and still is a fun romp as a parody of the Elvis phenom and all that schtick. Another year or two and it would have probably been reworked with 4 English moptops as the central characters... that's the way it goes. I've seen a lot of plays and musicals that would be stiffs if simply transferred intact to the screen. Yes, there are some exceptions, there always are. And maybe for some folks Birdie transgressed, but taken out of that reference it is not an unenjoyable movie. By a long shot. Get over it.

Paul Lynde has the funniest lines in the movie, and "Kids" always tickles me. Janet Leigh, OK no Chita, but less Janet and more Ann was OK with me, still is. Though the sequence with the shriners was a hoot. Dick Van Dyke, the usual talent, and mug shots, shined through even though he is on record as not liking the screen version. Bobby Rydell for what the role was does a great job, especially the club dance. In fact the only one I never got was Birdie. This guy was from out of nowhere and just didn't have enough edge, though I thought he carried the tunes OK, especially Lot Of Living and Sincere. But the whole motorcycle, gold lame, jack boot thing was already kind of, well dated. I think BBB'63 needed a tad updating to make it successful in a 1963 marketplace. I don't think a real appreciation of 50's nostalgia happened until Grease showed up. And then enough time had gone by for it to happen.

And speaking of Grease, if you want to compare the stage production to the 'thing' that was delivered on screen, now that IS a whole other story.

Illtown
(1996)

Had me until the end ++ Possible Spoilers ++
I enjoyed "Laws of Gravity" and figured this would be as good. I like watching Michael Rappaport, and this was no exception. Tony Danza was a surprise heavy and the rest of the cast held their own. Kevin Corrigan was excellent as was his delivery of the story about his wife. All in all, a film whose characters kept you involved in their life of crime, the criminal's own concepts of honor and their delivery of retribution. The youth gang standing around after Dante's payback for Cisco didn't make much sense, unless you are to suppose they were merely robots and did not act unless directed accordingly. Neither did the casual attitude about bodies laying around until the requisite characters in the film got their 'look see'. Poetic justice? OK. But that ending was the most confusing in a long time. It just leaves me unsatisfied with any spin I've put on it. That ending golf cart sequence sure didn't help clarify anything either <G>. Fore!!!

The Man Who Cried
(2000)

ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz
I figured Turturro, what could be bad. Depp and Ricci, certainly nice to look at, at the very least. Harry Dean Stanton, a favorite character actor. But this was a snorer. And I caught it on the Sundance channel so I didn't have any financial investment keeping me tuned in till the end. And it's not that I don't relish rich character development over incendiary special effects, but midway through I was praying for Bruce Willis to come along and blow something up! Anything! Reds, Nazis, 1930's Paris, Opera and Gypsies and this is all that could be made of it? And how many times can Depp milk this same character. Ricci did look great, but I kept waiting for dialog. Blanchett and Turturro did their jobs but I have to agree, the horse stole the show!

The Gods Must Be Crazy
(1980)

A classic.
I've read the reviews denouncing this movie as racist and too violent in parts. I can not totally discount the feelings some may have about it's racism, and finding comedy in anything related to war and death is always a gamble, but I don't relate to this film on those levels. For me it is a simple funny film, more of an homage to our classic American slapstick comedies of the 30's than anything else.

See it for yourself, and I think you'll 'see' Chaplin, Keystone Kops, Keaton and enjoy it for what it is, a funny, make-you-chuckle-out-loud entertainer you can watch again and again.

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