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A Sad Misfire
There is so much talent involved in this movie, what happened? The cast and crew have a combined lifetime 61 Oscar nominations and 16 wins. How could this not be a better movie? It is well produced, the cinematography and costumes are fine and well done. The main flaws are the poorly written screenplay, the paper thin plot and the lack of spark from the main stars. It's not without some funny moments, but they are too scarce. The humor wears thin in less than an hour and it becomes a challenge to stay interested in the plot. The lovely Isabelle Adjani is wasted. Charles Grodin does score in a supporting role and outshines the rest of the cast.

Conversations with God

A Religious Infomercial for Suckers.
"God, if you exist, why do you keep letting morons like Walsch get rich?', this is such a perceptive quote from New York Post critic Kyle Smith. The film starts out fairly well, and it means well, but about 50 minutes in, it falls apart with a preachy screenplay and over the top dramatics. The film never convinces, the production is purely amateur and is nothing more than a 109 minute infomercial. The score is particularly poor and the acting, for the most part is acceptable, but the central character needed a stronger actor than Henry Czerny. This is just another monetary notch in Neale Walsch's money belt. It is amazing how well religion can sell.

A Single Man

This film was mesmerizing from the opening scene right through to the end. The stylish and meticulous direction of Tom Ford evokes an amazing mood. The cinematography is impressive and so expressive. Superb costume design and outstanding period flavor, very very detailed and it genuinely evokes the era in which it is set. Above all is the bravura performance by Colin Firth. I have always liked him as an actor, but this role puts him in a whole new league. All the performances are excellent, and Julianne Moore excels in a supporting role. The pacing is perfect. The score does what a score is supposed to do, to compliment and subtly enhance the scenes. Beautifully done in every way. Fascinating, thought provoking and brilliant.

The Money Pit

Good stars, poor screenplay.
Tom Hanks rises well above the material, as does Shelley Long and Maureen Stapleton, and it's a shame their talents are not used more to make the film funnier. The screenplay just takes the stars to extremes that are unnecessary. It would have been so much funnier if they just had normal problems with buying a house instead of such unrealistic ones. It's not without a few laughs, but it should have been so much better. It has a good score at least. There is a much better story with a similar theme, 1948's Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, watch that one instead. Supposedly this is based on that film, but only the very basic plot is familiar.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Excellent Harry Potter Entry
The imagination used in this and all the Harry Potter films is really quite remarkable. The special effects are creative and amazing, beautifully done. The production values are top notch in all areas. Excellent cinematography, sound, score, editing, art direction, lighting, costume design and screenplay. Very well acted, especially from the established older actors, like Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Alan Rickman etc. Daniel Radcliffe is aging very well into the Harry Potter role, as is Rupert Grint. A wonderful movie that is often enthralling and has touches of humor to keep it light and entertaining throughout.

All About Steve

A Disaster
It is hard to believe Sandra Bullock made this turkey the same year as her Academy Award winning performance in The Blind Side, as well as her charming film The Proposal. Her character is so stupid and annoying. I like Sandra Bullock, but I can't imagine what possessed her to do this role. Her usual comic charm simply doesn't work here, she is more gratingly irritating than cute. As for the rest of the cast, they are no better. The story is so poorly conceived and it's portrayal of journalists is absurd. The pacing is poor, the writing is atrocious. An embarrassment to all involved. At least his has a decent score, as well as some respectable cinematography, but other than that, it has nothing to offer.

Little House on the Prairie

Heartwarming but flawed.
It is a heartwarming story, pleasant production. not too bad on period detail and the acting is fine. Considering it's length, the pacing is surprisingly good. It is also filled with inaccuracies. Since when do you cross canyons from Wisconsin to Kansas, and since when are their high mountains in Kansas? At times it is unintentionally funny, like when Caroline, concerned with Indian attacks, demands a latch be put on the house door, yet the house doesn't have a roof yet. In general though, it kept me entertained and is certainly many notches above the television series from the 1970's. It does tend to be over sentimental, but that is also the nature of the stories. Good score and art direction.

Married to It

Unconvincing Yuppie dramatics.
The problem with this film is the characters. These aren't real people, they don't convince. Real people don't talk like that and they are so obviously fictional people created by a writer who doesn't have a clue as to how real people are and talk. The cast does try, but Stockard Channing is the only cast member that actually rises above the material, she is the only one you care about at all, and Mary Stuart Masterson is pretty good. It isn't a complete disaster, there are some interesting scenes between the cliché's. It could of used a little more trimming as well, it overlong at an hour and 52 minutes, and there are definitely a few obvious scenes that should have been edited out.

In Cold Blood

Overlong and too detailed.
Meticulously detailed, way too much so, making this a very long and drawn out version of the famed novel. It's admirable they wanted to include as much of the book in the film, but sometimes being more selective in what you include is an asset in a movie. It does have respectable period detail, and it is well acted by everyone, good cinematography. It's main problem is it's extreme length and the fact it takes way too long to climax. . Still, there are rewarding moments along the way. It is surprisingly subdued and non violent. The 1967 Richard Brooks version is far better and much shorter. Check out a very young Ryan Reynolds who plays Bobby Rupp.

Shutter Island

Good, but not Scorsese at his best.
The cinematography is very impressive and the supporting cast is exceptionally good. Patricia Clarkson and Mark Ruffalo stand out. Ben Kingsley's role is very stereotypically him, perhaps a little offbeat casting would have made the role more interesting. Very well produced in all areas, and the attention to period detail is exceptionally well done. But I have to agree with the critics on this one, although it is good, it is not up with most Scorsese films, it is distant emotionally and has one too many dream fantasy sequences for it's own good. The two hour and eighteen minute length is a bit excessive and unnecessary. Still, along the way there is much to entertain.

The Man from Laramie

Great Jimmy Stewart Western.
Top notch western. I have always felt Jimmy Stewart made the finest westerns, and this is one of his best. He is excellent, and the supporting cast is great as well, mainly Donald Crisp and Aline MacMahon. Great production values, well written, good color cinematography and better than average period detail. It rises above most westerns because it has more than just a basic plot, there are complexities to the story and the characters. More violent than most westerns from this period. Director Anthony Mann does a great job developing the story and characters. Cathy O'Donnell is surprisingly effective, I had a hard time visualizing her in a western role, but she does fine.

The Concorde... Airport '79

Interesting cast, not an interesting film.
Any movie with Alain Delon, Bibi Andersson, Charo, Martha Raye, Cicely Tyson and Mercedes McCambridge in the cast is at least worth a look. But, the odd cast combination is unfortunately the only interesting thing about this film. It is long and drawn out, far too many scenes where not much of anything happens. The score is over done, the special effects are surprisingly poor and obvious. The melodramatic acting is not very good in spite of the caliber of performers, although Martha Raye is memorable. The screenplay is actually rather stupid and is not in the least bit convincing. Watch Airport or better yet, Airplane! instead.

A Serious Man

Another Coen Brother's winner...
The Coen brother's direction is once again so adept and perceptive. The period detail is exquisite without the painfully obvious attempts to evoke an era. The acting by everyone is excellent, especially Michael Stuhlbarg, who perfectly captures his role. The writing is great, the score is subtle but memorable. It is skillfully crafted and never boring. The pacing enhances the film. This is a real gem that is memorable and thought provoking.

Hats off again to the directors. They have a unique style all their own and it very effective. All aspects of the film come together beautifully. The art direction, cinematography to the editing all mesh for a coherent result.

First Love, Last Rites

Slow and Strange
This is a strange movie. The young stars spend a lot of time at home being bored, then they have sex, get bored again, listen to a phonograph, have sex, get bored again, talk, talk and talk. Natasha Gregson Wagner looks and sounds so much like her mother sometimes it is eerie. Slow moving, I think it was meant to be that way, perhaps to get the feeling of swampy Louisiana. Wagner's character is very unappealing, and it really hurts the film, but I liked her performance. Offbeat, and it sure doesn't make you feel warm all over. There didn't seem to be much point to the film. No one in the cast but Wagner stands out and the direction is simply bland.

Alice in Wonderland

Typical Tim Burton
Alice in Wonderland has never been one of my favorite stories, and although Tim Burton doesn't quite capture the essence of the book, for me it was a good thing. The look of the film is very expressive with the typical Burton trademark of wildly imaginative visuals and expressiveness. The performances are quite good, particularly Helena Bonham Carter doing a great job imitating Bette Davis in The Virgin Queen and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Wonderfully photographed, superb costume design and the score is well suited to the film. It's not perfect by any means, but Tim Burton is always worth a look, and I was not disappointed.


A visual masterpiece
It certainly is one of the most visually impressive films ever made. The special effects are amazing. The imagination used in the visual effects is incredible. James Cameron has crafted such an impressive film to look at, so why could he not have used this gift to create a screenplay that was more original, that had more depth and that wasn't so predictable? It's still a good story and the film is enormously entertaining, but the script prevents it from achieving that level of greatness that would distinguish it as a truly landmark film. Great score, the art direction and cinematography are superb. It's certainly memorable and good performances from everyone.

Sherlock Holmes

Visually magnificent
78/100. Impressive feel for the era it was set in, absolutely amazing art direction. The camera-work is also impressive and inventive as well. Great costume design. The score is amazingly good and contributes very much to the films success. I am not a big fan of Robert Downey Jr., but he is quite good. Jude Law gives his best performance in years. The humor in the film is welcome and used appropriately. Fine supporting cast. Sometimes it does go a bit over the top and I don't feel that it is true to the original stories. I don't think Guy Ritchie was the best choice to direct, his style isn't best suited to a film of this nature. Overall the movie is remarkable, and is worth watching for the visuals alone.

Paper Moon

Paper Moon (1973)
Peter Bogdonovich's brilliance in the early 1970's is unsurpassed. This and The Last Picture Show are two of the best films of that decade. Both were very effectively filmed in black and white and both are monumental achievements in film making. The cast is amazing. Tatum O'Neal is outstanding in an Academy Award winning performance. Madeline Kahn is hysterically funny, and Ryan O'Neal gives one of the best performances of his career. The movie is filled with memorable and unforgettable scenes. The period detail is among the best of all time. The cinematography is superb, the art direction is flawless and the score is wonderful. It is a pleasure to watch and the pacing is perfect.

My Sister's Keeper

Handles tough issues with flair.
80/100. This was so much more interesting than I was expecting. It tackles several issues and does so with finesse and without the over the top melodrama movies of this type so often have. It's touching, thought provoking and it is certainly not predictable. Nick Cassavettes deserves a lot of credit for creating a film that faces the issues without getting too maudlin and does so with sensitivity and objectiveness. The performances are good from everyone. The casting of Cameron Diaz isn't perhaps the best, but I admire the effort she put into the role. She did very well. The character development is outstanding, you get to know each character and you understand each of their perspectives. Joan Cusack is particularly affecting in an offbeat role for her. Good score, the subtle cinematography is effective.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Capra Classic
100/100. Among the best films of all time, this film works on every level. What a cast. Jimmy Stewart is perfectly cast. Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, Eugene Palette, Guy Kibbee, Thomas Mitchell, Beulah Bondi, Harry Carey, H.B. Warner and William Demarest are all fantastic. It boasts one of the best supporting casts ever gathered for a film. Filled with Capra touches. Wonderful story, superb score. Nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won an Oscar for best original story. Inspiring, moving and one of those rare and incredible films that is superb in every way. A delightful Capraesque slice of Americana and his best film.

The Long Voyage Home

A fine John Ford classic.
79/100. John Ford combined four of Eugene O'Neill stories into this film. He does a great job directing and does exceptional developing the characters, as he usually does. The cinematography is stunning, the use of light and shadows is so effective. The score is superb. Good cast, although casting John Wayne is a Swede was a curious choice. Although Wayne doesn't hurt the overall effect of the film, he doesn't help it either. Thomas Mitchell, Barry Fitzgerald, Mildred Natwick and John Qualen stand out in the cast. A beautifully done film. The Long Voyage Home was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Not surprisingly, cinematography as well.

Ball of Fire

Outstanding classic romantic comedy.
98/100. Romantic/Comedy. A nerdy professor and his colleagues are writing an encyclopedia and inadvertently get involved with a group of gangsters. This is one of those films I could never tire of watching, and this is my 18th viewing. Barbara Stanwyck once again shows what flair and brilliance she has for comedy. Gary Cooper is perfectly cast, surprisingly so, as the innocent and sheltered professor. The supporting cast is outstanding, Richard Haydn, Oscar Homolka, S.Z. Sakall, Henry Travers, Dan Duryea and Allen Jenkins stand out. Stanwyck is outstanding in the "Drum Boogie" musical number. Hysterically funny, one of the best romantic comedies of all time. Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck had such chemistry together.

Old Dogs

Dradful and unoriginal.
Humorless and predictable comedy. Even the unusually subdued Robin Williams can't breathe any life into this clunker. John Travolta has no screen presence, something he usually does have. There is nothing original about it, the stale screenplay brings the viewer through a serious of unfunny situations that barely even got me to crack a minor grim. The children in the picture come off more as spoiled and irritating kids than anything resembling likable characters. Conner Rayburn and Ella Bleu (she was named after a cheese???!) Travolta are downright bad. Shallow and a waste of time for everyone involved, and likely a career low point for many involved as well.

The Time Traveler's Wife

A pleasant surprise.
74/100. I wasn't expecting to like The Time Traveler's Wife, but I was pleasantly surprised. It handled a very complex plot extremely well. What was going on was clear to me without it being painfully spelled out. Very imaginative and what really works is that there is a lightness to the tone of the screenplay that prevents it from being too turgid and sluggish. The performances were fine, Rachel McAdam and Eric Bana are competent in their roles. Director Robert Schwentke skillfully steers the film in the right direction. It's not a perfect film, but it is very entertaining and clever. Nicely photographed, good music score and the editing is great.

The Lady Eve

Stanwyck is ingenious
Barbara Stanwyck absolutely amazes me, she can play any type of role with skill, gusto and panache and has to be the most versatile actress of all time. This is one of her top five performances of all time, she is brilliant. Every movie she is in she seems to have such rapport with the rest of the cast. Henry Fonda is also at his best, a great performance. Preston Sturges direction is sublime, the screenplay is ingenious. Certainly one of the funniest movies of ever made. Highly entertaining and what a supporting cast - Charles Coburn, Eugene Palette and William Demarest are all amazing. It is a joy from start to finish, never a dull moment. Wonderful.

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