Movie Reviews

One of the best of the generation-x romance movies. The movie is constructed in such a way to let you pick your own affinities. Every viewer can have their own picks as to who should end up with who. All the characters are three dimensional. They have there faults and their good sides. The grunge soundtrack is a little pass‚, but overall a good movie.

Citizen Kane
Considered by many to be the best movie of all time, and with justifiable reason. The cinematography is truly astounding. The photo to real, the great panning, and the fades are all very well done (though sometimes the fades do seem to go a little slow.) The set is also amazing - makes me wonder how they did all that without a $100 budget of today. (Well, they didn't have anyone blowing up anything with uzis either.) The movie starts with newsreel footage of Mr. Kane, who recently died. Then in flashback, we learn of his past. Starting from humble beginnings, Kane rose to become one of the wealthiest men around, and concentrated on created a great publishing empire. He had everything that anyone could want, but always seemed to be missing something. His great downfall, however, was his failure to give of himself things that really meant something. When we finally learn the meaning of his dying word, Rosebud, we are able to grasp the intensity of his position.

Citadel, The
Appearing a few years before Citizen Kane, this is another powerful epic of the encompassing, destructive power of money. Here, a small down doctor leaves his post in a mining town for ethical reasons. There, the miners just want him to give them their same-old prescriptions. He, however, stumbles upon a correlation between the mine dust and the coughs that the miners develop, and starts research in to this matter. However, the community is not pleased with this trend-breaking investigator, and even go to the extent of destroying his lab to prohibit any further investigation. They just want their pink medicine. They don't want any guinea-pigs. They allow him to stay if he conforms to the standard behavior in the town. Deciding that it would be better to have piece of mind elsewhere, he takes off to London and opens a new medical practice. It goes horribly, and months pass without any patients. However, one day as luck would have it, he runs into a rich hypochondriac, and later on old doctor-friend. He soon learns that by overcharging the rich, and by telling the hypochondriacs what they want to hear (that they are sick!), he can sweep up good money. Soon he becomes obsessed with this monetary greed. He hardly practices medicine anymore. He basically become an enhanced form of the bad doctor that he fled the mining town to avoid. This world of riches comes to a screeching halt when an old friend is hit by a car. He quickly calls a surgeon colleague to perform the 'simple' surgery. When the surgeon fails, he realizes that he is more a chameleon. This surgeon spends so much time hobnobbing with the rich that he is unable to perform even a simple operation. The death of his friend sends the young lung doctor an internal probe, leading a reexamining of his ethics. He seen finds himself at the house of a dying girl, who only shortly before he had refused to look at (due to 'busy schedule') With the aid of a 'radical' technique employed by an unregistered doctor, he helps her to recover. The movie then ends with him defending his actions before a medical board.
When times were tough, the doctor let his personal morals slip. However, it took a great tragedy for him to learn the evils of his ways, and recover to become a great doctor. The movies ethical statements are applicable to all, not just those of the medical profession. (It should be noted, that the movie started with a disclaimer saying that the doctors in the movie are not reflective of all doctors in the world.)

Twice Blessed
Here is a fun teeny-bopper movie. The plot: two identical twins try to get their parents back together. Mom is the serious influential career woman. Dad is the more down-to-earth fun-loving guy. Likewise, one daughter is the intellectual IQ-champion, while the other is a hair-down jitterbug champion. As you can expect, a plot of switched identities, boyfriend confusion, and general mayhem results. It's funny. The music is great. A definite 'fun' movie to watch. It's a cinch to relate to the vernacular and attitude of this movie. It's hard to believe that its almost 50 years old. (Of course, some of the fun may result from the fact that its so old, and seeing that people really talked that way, and things really were that cheap.) A great way to waste an hour. One question - why is it that the twins are always girls. Two similar movies- Parent Trap and It Takes Two also feature 'identicals' pulling the parental together thing. Well, hey, I guess its more of a girl thing.

Terminator, The
It's a James Cameron movie. Intense. Violent. Here Schwarzenegger is the bad guy. And boy is he one mean bad guy. Sent from a post-apocalyptic world to destroy the mother of the boy who would lead the resistance of the computer-domination, he doesn't bother with details. He takes what he needs. He shoots who he needs to shoot. He's nothing more than a cyborg programmed to terminate human life. The dark lighting and the pulsating soundtrack help to contribute to the overall effect of this movie. Though made with a budget five times less than the sequel, its actually better. It is definitely one of the most thought provoking action pieces around. But boy is it dark, mind-numbing dark. If you're in to dark science fiction check it out. I caught this one on television, so the profanity was toned down a lot. (That probably greatly improved my rating for the movie. It's nice to see an intense action picture without having to suffer through an endless stream of 4-letter words.)

Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Arnie's box-office hit, that took special effects yet another step. Yes the morphing effects are really great. But now, they don't seem as 'amazing' as they must have been back when the movie first came out. The movie is dark and bright at the same time. This time the Terminator returns, reprogrammed as a 'good guy' to keep the morphing T-1000 from destroying the young boy who will grow to be the leader of the human-resistance. The boy is definitely of the scum class, yet, he does have respect for human life, and orders Arnie to stop killing. Thus he goes on to aim for the arms the feet, etc. to incapacitate, but not kill the people. It's a nice touch, but the movie is still dark. There are also a few logic flaws that will keep you thinking. (And how does that helicopter fly so fast at a horizontal angle.) The soundtrack, doesn't quite fit as well as that of the original, and the daylight of the movie somehow plays as nighttime with the sun out. Also, it wont provoke as many deep thoughts as the first one, but like the original Terminator it will sure numb your mind. I could hardly sleep after seeing it, not because of deep thoughts or nightmares, but just because it seemed to attack my mind leaving it dead. A very scary power indeed in this one.

Most previews show the high points of a movie. Not the trailer for Dragonheart which seemed to point out all the film's faults. The preview gave me absolutely no desire to see the movie, however, after reading a few positive reviews, I gave it a try. Boy was I surprised! A Knight of the old Arthurian code is distraught by the anti-peasant attitude of the present King. However, he hangs on, serving as the trainer for the King's son, in hopes that he will return to the old code when assuming the thrown. Immediately, the old King dies while torching peasants houses, as he goes to see the destruction, the son is shot by another peasant girl. The Knight later rescues the son and carries him back to the castle. Even with the best medical attention, there seems to be no hope of survival. The Queen then remembers an old dragon, and they take the son there to try to 'rescue' him. The dragon saves the boys life by giving him half of his heart. With the new king alive and well, the Knight's worst horrors come to pass as the king reverts to his father's authoritarian ways. Thinking it is the Dragon's heart that lead to the destruction of the boy, the knight relinquishes his position in the court to begin a personal crusade to eliminate every last dragon. Eventually, he runs in to the last dragon, Draco. The dragon, being a smart animal (intelligently voiced by Sean Connery), convinces the knight that there will be no more dragonslaying if he is killed. So, they agree to work together, staging mock-dragon attacks, and dragon-slayings to gather bags of gold. Sean Connery is absolutely marvelous as the voice of Draco. The computer animation of Draco is pretty well done, similar to the Jurassic, but it seems a lot better when in intense action. Connery and Quaid make a great team working together on this movie. Eventually they grow to know more and more about each other. Both have down things in the past for high motives. However, both have taken severe blows in their attempts to do good. Both have sought a better kingdom, with a kinder, gentler king; however, they were both distraught by the new ways of the king. Together they both grow, and begin to realize (albeit forcefully) that this 'dragonslayer' show is not for them. They have greater talents which they are now hiding under a bushel. Together they can help the people to be at peace. However, this will only happen after they conquer their inner selves. It is easy to lead a destructive life style, turning down from higher goals, when all efforts seem to be in vain. However, it takes great courage to carry on, even after great difficulty. This is one of the moralistic themes that the movie carries out in a wonderful fashion. It's great to see an action movie where morals take precedence over death and destruction. A definite must see. The soundtrack by Randy Edelman is also superbly done.

Phantom, The
If you liked the old Batman TV show, you'll love the Phantom. The Phantom is a superhero who runs around in tights like all other superheros. However, he has no superpowers, other than rumors of immortality. (for 20 generation, the role of the Phantom is passed down from father to son.) Bad guys beware in the jungles of Bengali, for the Phantom and his friends (which include an intelligent horse and wolf-dog, and the natives among others) are sure to put a halt to that. If you're looking for your modern 'shoot-em up' action faire, this is not the movie for you. However, if you like superheros who accidentally drop in the wrong place, have to struggle with the cab driver to accept money, and can even jump out of airplanes on to horses, this one's for you. It copies elements relentlessly from the old thrillers, even including a classic seen in which the dog runs messages to the horse. If you're in the mood for a light-hearted action piece, check it out.

Sense and Sensibility
I've never liked Jane Austen, but I've always wanted to see this movie. I remember Pride and Prejudice back from English class. We had a choice of either doing a writing portfolio, or watching and discussing the video of Pride and Prejudice. Needless to say, we all opted for the video. However, after the first day, after falling asleep the first two times I tried watching the movie, I knew it wasn't for me. So, I tried the book - equally boring, even the Cliff's notes put me to sleep. Needless to say, I ended up doing a writing portfolio. That was supposed to be a 'good' book. Sense and Sensibility was one of her lesser known works. Hmm. I guess I like the underdog. Anyway, knowing that Patrick Doyle received an Oscar nomination for his score, I at least had something to hope for. Unfortunately, his score was nothing compared to A Little Princess or Much Ado About Nothing. The movie started out very slowly, and I found myself bored to death. But I've wanted to see this for so long, and everyone says its so good. How can I not like it? Well, after suffering through the first part, and giving up hopes of hearing a super-soundtrack, I finally started to enjoy it. It's a refreshingly clean romance. The big goal is marriage. The man who happened to impregnate his girl-friend is quickly out-cast by society. I began to feel a part of the old English country life, where a trip to London was a huge event. However, more important, I began to feel for the characters. Hugh Grant was great as the humble man who just didn't quite have the guts to go through with anything. He tried, but the slightest interference was good enough reason for him to escape. Then the Colonel, who had suffered through much, but just wasn't a charming Don Juan for whom the women swooned. What he did have, however, was a large heart, and a large supply of love which he tried to give endlessly to those in need. He was eventually able to win the heart of the girl, after she looked beyond his outside countenance and in to the deep soul that really cared. And they all live happily ever after.... And so ends the Victorian romance. The sinners punished. The good triumphant. My, if only we had more movies like this. The acting is very well done, and definitely helps make this a superb picture.

Tornadoes have never been so dramatic. Twister starts out with a super-tornado carrying a man away. Later, we see a cow flying in a tornado, a giant gasoline truck overturned, and much more. Unfortunately, there is a pesky little plot that gets in the way of these great special effect.

Mission: Impossible
The Mission: Impossible theme is so great, why didn't they use it more? Alan Silvistri's score was actually rejected before Elfman's was put in place, but it doesn't play enough. I was expecting more action. Unfortunately, the previews showed just about all the action sequences of the movie. The opening scene and credits were excellently done. The ten minutes were also great. Though, I still want to know how those helicopters can fly horizontal at such high velocities at such angles. (Of course having a rope attached probably helps.) But the middle just seemed to drag. The plot is actually pretty interesting. Maybe it would have been better just to read the book while listening to the soundtrack. (Unfortunately, the initial soundtrack released had just 4 or 5 songs that were actually in the movie, with a lot of trashy filler. When are they going to release Elfman's score?)

This surprisingly good Turner rendition of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein left me impressed me. They can actually turn out decent made for TV movies. (Though, if it had been released theatrically, they would have probably had to make some changes to air it on TV.) The music is well down and gives a special feel to the movie. It's not so much a horror story as a love story and the pangs over guilt. In this version of the classic tale, the emphasis is placed on the relationship between Dr. Frankenstein and his creation. Both are tormented by their inability to live normal lives. All the monster desires is a woman, created in a similar manner, so that they might run away and live in peace. Unfortunately this little peace is unobtainable, so he goes on a rampage, killing many people, starting with his creator's closest friends. His goal: make his creator feel as he does. Only at the end does he realize that his creator has all-along suffered from the same pains that he has gone through. His rampages did nothing more than take innocent life. The only solution is for both master and creator to go down together. Had either stopped to try to understand the other, their problems would have been avoided. They just needed a little special attention. Adding a special twist of monster-human psyche interconnection (after all, Frankenstein did create the monster as a super-human self), they create a powerful emotional tale. (Though one that leave you desiring a little more. I felt myself wanting to be deeply attached to the characters but not able to.)

  • 29 June 1996
    True Stories
    Weird and normal. This movie is normal, yet so weird. The plot basically revolves around David Byrne of the Talking Heads meandering around a small Texas town during the sesquicentennial celebration. Everyone in the town is 'almost' normal. Nothing really special (in the Hollywood sense) happens, yet all sorts of weird things happen. The movie seems so abnormal that it looks like the movie studio picked the easiest way out, promoting it as a movie with a lot of Talking Heads songs. Yes, it does have a lot of songs by them, many of which are song by the individual cast members. In a couple of spots, the movie does break for the 'music video' numbers, which at times seem to slow down the movie. (but then again, they add to the movies essence.) Some of the acting seems purposefully amateurish - it really seems like a bunch of small town people putting on their little show. But then, everything is skewed just a little bit to make us certain that they are not normal people. However, the innocence still prevails. Its a great film to watch if you are in the mood of something different, yet innocent that seems to accurately show life of really normal people in the 80s.

    Dr. Strangelove
    Another Kubrick masterpiece that will leave you confused. In this dark anti-war comedy, a general has gone bezerk and ordered a 'retaliatory' strike against Russia, then sealed off his compound as if we were at war. Since he was the only one who held the password to call off the strike, an attack seemed inevitable. Thus the only options were to attack the general's base and hope to obtain the password, or to aid the Russians in a take down of our fighters. In the decision-making we catch some interesting War Room shenanigans (How can you expect everyone to be acting normal at the eminent destruction of the world?) However, even with the comic undertones, the message remains very serious. Is it really possible for one man to cause the destruction of the world? Kubrick's comedy is masterpiece in the manner in which its comedy takes upon so much seriousness. The story is also masterfully done, and up until the very end remains entirely unpredictable. Peter Cellars also gives great performances in his three roles; and we catch a glimpse of the young James Earl Jones. This is a movie that definitely deserves a second viewing, if nothing more than to fully understand it.

    War Games
    Another anti-war movie in the vein of Dr. Strangelove. Here, a computer, in its quest to play Global Thermonuclear War almost succeeds in destroying the world. The young Matthew Broderick plays a computer hacker who changes his grades (A useful talent that he was later able to employ in Ferris Bueller's Day Of), and later uses his 'autodialer' to try to find a toy company's computer. However, he accidentally logs in to the defense department's computer, and starts to play War games with the computer. Are we giving too much power to machines? James Cameron later explored the poast-apocylyptic possibilities in his dark Terminator movies. War games, however employs a much lighter, believable approach. Even though the technology in the movie is very dated, the concepts and actions are relevant today. It manages to use computers in an accurate, yet timeless way, that makes it a classic. Only by convincing the computer of the futility of nuclear warfare through tic-tac-toe can the world be saved. The movie gave birth to 'wargames autodialers', and was probably the best 'hacker' movie ever made. It's also interesting to note that the hacker from Hackers also lived in Seattle when he made his great 'hack'. However, Broderick does not play a menacing Hacker who fearlessly delights in taking down systems; rather he is a curious introvert who just stumbles in to a few accidents.

    Blue Angel
    One of the first German 'talkies', Blue Angel tells the story of a professor who falls for the very dancer that he is trying to save his students from. He finds himself visiting the club to try to find and cast out his students who seem to be spending too much time there. However, partly due to a little trick on the student's part, he finds himself caught under the dancer's spell, and eventually asks to marry her. The students witness the act, and quickly the school finds out, causing him to loose his job. Soon he finds himself touring with the his wives group of performers, and eventually he becomes a clown himself. Soon the troupe finds its way back to his hometown, where the club draws sell-out crowds to see the professor. Enshrined with guilt, he tries to avoid coming out, but eventually makes an appearance, while at the same time, he finds his wife toying around with another guy. At this seen, I suddenly recalled the abject face of a similarly dressed clown figure earlier in the film, who seemed to be equally mad at the professor's entrance. The movie does a nice job of expressing the horrors of placing hormones in first. Sure, the professor got the girl, but he didn't get her love. As is indicated by her signature song, she is just after everyone. By compromising his morals and entering the entertainment businesses, he eventually had his worst fear come out. There is no hiding from an unorthodox course of action. You can't lead a new life without your old acquaintances soon finding out. Another key moral is the fact that you can't judge others and try to correct them. In his desire to remove his students from the evil, the professor fell victim to the evil. You're going to get burned if you get to close to the fire. The movie seems to be a lot like Lolita with an older female lead (who just happens to be named Lola.) And in bother cases, the middle-aged professor's lustful actions lead to violence and his agonizing destruction.

  • 1 July 1996
    Yawn! After seeing this, I thought that I just wasn't the type to enjoy Broadway musicals on the silver screen. Then right after that, Music Man came on, and I realized that Oklahoma! was just plain bad. Sure it has the nifty tune, "Oh What A Beautiful Morning", but that's about it. The movie drags on so long, it seems that by omitting the songs you could get it down to a 30 minute sitcom. Unfortunately, its filled with songs - songs that really don't have anything to do with the plot. But, at least they're melodic and easy to sleep to. If suffering from insomnia, just pop this one in the player, and you'll be able to wake up bright and refreshed in the beautiful morning. The basic plot consists of a couple of Oklahoma girls, and couple of guys that fight over each of them. Details? In between? Well, I had a nice nap.

    Music Man, The
    Now here is a musical the way it should be done. It's filled with memorable songs, such as "76 Trombones", "Wells Fargo Wagon", "Ya Got Trouble", and many more. But, more importantly, the songs are used to tell the story, not just to provide extra flourish. It starts on an early twentieth century train filled with traveling salesman, bemoaning the evil name that one 'Harold Hill' has brought to their profession. Only, they don't just talk, they more or less show us the early ancestors of 'rap', increasing the tempo gradually as the train increases, and finally slowing down when the train slow. Later right as the train is about to leave its stop at River City, Iowa, Hill, still unrecognized by the others, becomes enchanted by the challenge of Iowa, presents himself, and makes a quick exit. Hill is the perfect example of the charismatic salesman. He can sell anything. He even convinced the mayor to fork over money for his son's instrument - before the mayor realized he didn't have a son. In town, he starts a controversy with the new pool table, and convinces the town that there is trouble in River City due to the pool table, and the only solution is to get the boys involved with a marching band. He just so happens to be able to sell them everything they need, and he promises to be their band leader. Meanwhile, he has managed to make perform miracles in town, helping the schoolboard members to form a barbershop quartet, and become friends again, and helping a lisping boy to overcome his fear of talking. His biggest challenge, however, is Marian, the librarian, who also doubles as piano teacher. She uncovers his fraud, but is just enough convinced of his devotion to hold back the discovery on various occasions. This movie is a great portrait of small town America. And the topic of music lends perfectly to a musical. The same plot just could not be down without making it a musical (however, variations on it have been formed, such as Mr. Holland's Opus.) Unlike some other musicals, this one has believable sets, and characters that are for real. Sure they sometimes break down and dance around. But, hey, wouldn't you if you were suddenly excited with the idea of a band? The Amaryllis piano-practice scene exemplifies the way that speech is blended seemlessly in to song, and suddenly back to speech. If you like musicals, or if you hate them, this is for you.

    Rear Window
    Rear Window is an Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece. James Stewert plays a photographer who is recovering from a broken leg. Due to his condition and his curiosity, he stays up late at night watching his courtyard neighbors through a rear window. One night who witness some very suspicious activities by one of the neighbors. Gradually, piece by piece, he assembles the evidence showing a man's nearly foolproof plot to dispose of his wife. Hitchcock and Stewert are both film legends, and together they have made another legend. Even after you know the outcome, it's still a great thriller.

    To Catch a Thief
    This is definitely not your typical Hitchcock flick. Instead of his typical mystery, Hitchcock created an adventure that has the touch and feel of an early James Bond film. You have the good girl and the bad girl each battling for Cray Grant's affection. Meanwhile, Grant, formerly a cat-burglar is out to track the burglar who has been emulating his style. And like Bond, Grant places himself in the middle of the action, and narrowly escapes. About the only thing missing are all the tricky bond gadgets.

    Doc Hollywood
    Probably the hardest thing in this movie is imagining Michael J. Fox as a doctor. (He just seems so launched in the Marty McFly/ Family Ties persona, it's just hard to picture him up there - but then, again, it's the fitting advancement of his previous characters.) A recent medical school graduate on his way to California, Fox crashes his car in to a fence in a small town. There, he is forced to wait for his car to be repaired, and serve time as a physician. At first, his mind is bent on leaving town and becoming a rich plastic surgeon. Gradually, however, he becomes enamorated with the girl who drives the ambulance. Finally, his car is repaired, and on his way out of town, he stops to help deliver a baby, and while stopped, his car is destroyed again. This delivery coupled with his love of the ambulance driver, and a few words from the old doctor nearly convince Fox to stay. However, the town has pitched in and bought him a plane ticket to California. There, he works, and makes good money, but misses the personal flair of small town work. When some guys from the small town stop by and tell him that the ambulance driver really isn't married, he jumps back to the town to meet again with his love. A nice sentimental epic of the power of small town camaraderie over money. Oh wouldn't it be great to go back to a small town like that?