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The Flick Chick:
Films with titles beginning with "C" and "D"
Bad films go stale, but the pleasures of good films never end. They stickify your memory like the reminders of a jam and honey sandwich.
They adhere to the roof of your mind like peanut butter. Second
helpings via video can be twice (or half) as satisfying as you hoped.
And in among the broken crackers and cheese rinds of aged titles
on TV, and Netflix, and Roku. we sometimes discover the unexpected petit four.
So here they are: the good dinners kept warm, the delicious last
dollop of ice cream from the freezer . . . and a few cold leftovers. Yum!
It's hard to express how satisfying it is to see a film so richly conceived and so tenderly made. Whereas the heavily advertised Something's Gotta Give ridiculed vulnerability and affection and ladled out ersatz feeling and a corn-syrupy happy ending, Calendar Girls, though it offers plenty of broad humor treats love and grief (and embarassment) with genuine respect.
The film is reputedly based on a true story of how a dozen mature-and-then-some Yorkshire women created a "girlie" calender in which they bared (almost) all to the eye, in order to earn money for a local hospital in which the beloved husband of one of them had died. And earn it they did, together with international celebrity! Although the film casts an amused and sympathetic eye on their quailing approach to the camera, unlike The Full Monty their Moment of Truth is not the whole point, or even the high point of the film. Indeed it is almost incidental to the baseline story of affectionate loyalty and friendship.
Headed by the superb, beautiful (and not-so-young) Helen Mirren, every member of the cast is memorable, all the women and their various husbands and children as well. Their troubles are real troubles, their activities are real activities, and their solutions real solutions. Bravo!
This film will stay with you. It nourishes hope. And it's not just some chick-flick, guys. Those old broads look darn good, by golly! (3/04)
This is a brilliant and well-made film. Just as in Capote's writing, the reader can never quite judge the sincerity of his words, so in this film, Hoffman's brilliant performance leaves you wondering
. . . wondering how much of the writer himself was truth and how much was illusion.
Two things, however, are certain: First: when Capote said that his work would change the character of modern literature, he was correct; Second this is a film (and a set of performances) worth seeing! (3/06)
Cast Away - *****
A film so well-acted that it defies description. Cast Away missed the Big Award, but pretty much all the good things said about this film are true. Tthough it's a bit late for this advice, try not to
read too many reviews before you see it knowing too much
beforehand may take the edge off your enjoyment of Hanks' (and Hunt's)
excellent performances. (1/01)
The Cat's Meow
Sure, it's been out a while, but sometimes even the Chick slows down. Despite Peter Bognanovich's big rep, this is not a dazzling film, but it's fun for us movie buffs. It's really doubtful that William Randolph Hearst actually shot Thomas Ince, but Edward Herrmann was convincingly besotted with Kirsten Dunst (as Marion Davies), who looked 95% better than she did recently in Spider-Man and almost as cute as she looked in Interview With The Vampire all those years ago. (How come she's grown up now and Tom Cruise is still a kid, hmmm?) Eddie Izzard, who played Chaplin, did not do any Chaplinesque acrobatics, such as the Little Tramp was reputed to perform on all occasions, but the real surprise was the hitherto fatally attractive Cary Elwes (Princess Bride?) playing the mean guy. Oh, the heart is broken! (7/9/02/02)
Charlie Wilson's War ****
One splendid film with everything in place: Razor sharp structure; a strong and believable storyline; immensely cool dialogue; Julia Roberts looking luscious; mustached Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a tough, smart-alec professional spy (Capote has vanished!); and Tom Hanks easing his way from hot-tub to ballroom, from to Kabul to smoke-filled congressional offices. Whether in the battlefield or in bed with Julia his performance is this central gem in this superb jewel of a flick. Hate films? See this one. Love films? See this one.
Aaron Sorkin wrote it. Mike Nichols directed. Need I say more? And oh yes, by the way, it's a true story. (12/25/07)
Well, that toddlin' film won a lot of awards. I do think the Zeta-Jones' hoofin' legs were worth every Oscar in the lot. And Queen Latifa's an absolute crackerjack. (Wotta solo song!) But much as I like the Rene' and willing as I am to add that any chance to look at Richard Gere's male beauty is welcome and although it was an amusing film, with some sparkle and a workmanlike try at a plot, hmmm . . . stellar? Sorry. Not quite.
Sorry romance fans, but I thought it was punko. And as unconvincing to me as the book, although in a different way. I do believe in the struggle between good and evil . . . and I like stories about magic, as stories, but neither the GvE nor the enchantment jelled for me. Wonder whether I would have liked the film better if I hadn't read the book?
Saving graces: The gorgeous Juliette Binoche, who makes looking like an adult look really good. Judi Dench. The cinematography and the French countryside. But the real pleasure came in sitting there and looking at Johnny Depp who is as beautiful as Brad Pitt any day, and with a countenance far more expressive of thought and pain.
Hate, hate, HATE prizefighting. But when Ron Howard directs, and Russell Crowe stars, well . . . even that bitter repugnance can be overcome.
Set against the grinding poverty of the 1930s Depression, this true story of prize fighter James Braddock needed no preachy plot embellishments. But it was Crowe's presentation of Braddock's real-life character as unshakably honest and loyal but never a wimp; as unflinchingly courageous but without any hint of arrogance that showed us a great man . . . and Crowe as a great actor. Despite the actor's troubled personal life, he was able to convince us of Braddock's gentle good humor, and that he possessed a kind of innocence that strikes the heart. Seeing this film, we can believe that Braddock could indeed inspire hope in a generation that had lost all hope in the future and in itself.
One interesting note: throughout the film, Braddock is repeatedly referred to as "an old man," "too old to fight," and "far past his prime." And indeed, at the time of his comback in 1933, he was already the father of three children. Yet almost ten years later he served honorably in World War II for which the ceiling age was 35. "Old" means something different now, I guess. Or maybe youth isn't everything.
This is a great film, well-written and beautifully directed, with a moving theme, a great star, and a fine supporting cast. I urge you to see it . . . even if, like the Chick, you occasionaly hide under the seat during the boxing segments. (6/05)
To know more about Braddock, try this site: http://www.jamesjbraddock.com/
Are The Beautiful People of the world really more cruel, more deceitful, more likely to cheat on the people who love them? Do they have more trouble with their love affairs than normal people like you and me? (Okay, maybe normal is too strong a word, but . . .whatever.) The gorgeous Jude Law, the ravishing Natalie Portman, the star-person Julia Roberts, and the not-to-be-forgotten Clive Owen try to get us to believe that an obituary writer, a stripper, a photographer, and an MD can fall madly in love, betray, double-cross, wound each other, and engage in stellar lovemaking while continuing to be lovable, beautiful, and breathtakingly desirable. Well maybe. But you try those shenannigans on this woman, Buster, and you won't find me getting any Closer.
Of course, I'm not Natalie Portman or Julia Roberts. Maybe they're used to it. But I'm not. And I don't plan to be.
Not impressed. Just depressed. (12/04)
Piqued by the reviews, Chick & Co., went to the picture show after an extended absence, and now it is the Chick's job to pique and persuade you to do the same. Yes, it is a strange film/films. (Because there are five or more semi-connected story lines, interconnected characters, and numerous interconnected lives.) But it is also extremely beautiful and often deeply moving. And, admittedly, confusing at times. But . . . it's nourishing. It unselfconsciously (And, yes sometimes selfconsciously) deals in subjects like honor, and courage, and self-respect. And it's a great film anyway! So there!
Now that you're shaking your head, let me remind you that it stars Tom Hanks (who looks to be in excellent shape), Halle Berry (in even more attractive shape), Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, and a very beautiful young actress named Xun Zhou to name a very few. The actors each play a variety of parts in a variety of story lines, but the viewer is not aggressively conscious of this most of the time; there is too much story-line to follow.
Maybe none of this convinces you of the worth of this film? Go see it anyway. You'll enjoy it! (11/12)
Did you read the book? Great book. And the film closely follows the storyline, though the war scenes are much more graphically depicted. (After a lifetime of horror-packed war movies, I feel like a battle-hardened veteran: WW-II, Nam, WW-I, the War of 1812, the Alamo, the Battle of the Roses, Star Wars, the Pelopennesian War, the Battle of Hastings, Troy, the Cold, and now again the Civil . . . I've about supped full of horrors yeah, Will Shkspr.)
Jude Law is one of the most gorgeous men in film today, rivaling even the hitherto unrivaled Daniel Day Lewis, and Nicole Kidman was breathtakingly lovely, so we could be in no doubt as to why those two might fall in love with each other . . . but one wonders whether that overpowering combination of beauties is truly in the best interest of the story. Although it is a given that the requirements of film and literature differ, it was the dogged, desperate attachment of the lonely literary characters, clinging to their love like a life-raft in the face of their raging seas of difficulties that stirred this reader. Film viewers, more likely may believe that the lovers had been beguiled by the considerable pleasures that met their eyes, rather than a blind hunger for love's light in the darkness.
Oops! A little too poetic there, maybe. Sorry about that.
Anyhoo, it was a compelling film, very dark (lotsa dark films this season), and pretty sad. If the holidays have depressed you, maybe you should go back to work before seeing this one. But do, indeed, see it. It's a fine film.(12/03)
The Corpse Bride (anime')
In brief, a neurotically timid Victorian hero (Victor) is to marry astonishingly sheltered Sweet Young Thing (Victoria). As Victor is too nervous to master his lines for the ceremony, he goes off into the woods to practice. Once there, he inadvertantly drops the ring on the the skeletal fingers of the sexy corpse of an abandoned bride (stay with me here, because there's more of this) who claims him as her own and drags him underground to the Land of the Dead, where they are serenaded by more corpses in varying degrees of disintegration. Oh, did I mention that this is sort of a musical? And although the singing skeletons were very much like the singing skeletons in Betty-Boop-era cartoons, the music is rather pleasant, otherwise.
Meanwhile, a nefarious wrongdoer (who is, concidentally, the same wrongdoer who wrongdid the Corpse Bride when she was alive) steps in to announce that Victor is both absent and unfaithful. He claims the hand of the Sweet Thing, her parents accept him, and they are married. Much action ensues, together with some very cute and touching meetings between the various corpses and their still-living ancient sweethearts. True love is served. Bad guys are vanquished, and everybody is presumed to live (or stay dead, maybe) Happily Ever After.
This makes for a silly, pleasant evening of cotton candy. Very Charles Adams-type visuals, but quirky and interesting. (It's an anime, in case you didn't see the teasers.) Let me add that Johnny Depp did the voiceover for the hero, so that give you an idea of the budget, the quality, and the character of the film. Enjoy! (9/05)
Bet I know exactly how it went: His agent called him up and said:
So listen Keeno-baby, you gotta do this film. It's right up your alley you're this noble stranger, see, in black clothes, and you got mysterious powers that nobody knows about or understands, and you're in contact with other people who know deep, dark stuff. Real nuh-war, stuff, like you been doing. Your fans will eat it up, and it'll make mint!
Yeah, sure, but this is different nuh-war! It's religious. Nope real religion, I swear it, and the producer says it's full of real hot special effects. Yeah, trust me, really hot specials! And at the end, when you go save the girl, you get to blow away a whole buncha real bad guys with this swell, wierd gun so, come on! You owe this to your fans, man. Otherwise, you're gonna donate your mindshare to some other dude. Because it's been a while, y'know? And it'll be good bucks, maybe a piece of the action, if we negotiate it right I tell you, it'll be . . . what? You will? Really? Great! If I do what? You want me to . . . oh, sure. I'll hang up now. Right away but hey, one more thing . . . Keeno? Keeno? Gee, must of lost his signal."
So there we were, and the film was over. My friend and I usually sit through the credits, letting the crowd get out ahead of us, but this time they emptied out before the assistant grips and prop lists were done rolling. When there was only one other person left in the theater, and we were still there, she spoke to us.
"If you wait till this is all over," she said, "There's something more, right at the end that's really nice."
So we waited. And it was nice. Maybe the nicest bit of all. Thanks, Jesseka, If it had not been for you, we would have missed it! We're grateful; you gave us good advice, which is always hard to come by. Pity Keano didn't have you for an agent. He could have used some better advice.(3/05)
Some joys never grow old; the measured artistry of Gene Hackman is one of them. Hackman's wonderfully controlled performance is only one of the pleasures of this splendid 1974 film noire. And as if his accomplished presence were not enough, a startled double-take reveals that one of the antagonists, amazingly, is a juvenile, bland-faced Harrison Ford! Need more? Try the almost-silent brooding presence of young Robert Duval!
Despite the fact that all the surveillance tools and techniques crucial plot hinges are more than 25 years dead and gone, the story is so beautifully written and so splendidly directed that it could open tomorrow to rave reviews. Guess that's what happens when you let Francis Ford Coppola direct a film.
Cowboys and Aliens
Look out, Pard! Double-ought Seven and a very elderly Han Solo have moved out to the Old West and acquired some horses and some sidekicks and a beautiful humanoid alien, and they're off to do battle with a horde of greenish simian-like extra-terrestrials who are out to gol-durn it! STEAL ALL OUR GOLD! (And our memories. And some of our women, of course maybe to enslave or maybe just to eat them for supper, that was never made clear.) Of course a lot of the minor characters must die in battle, including some non-hostile Native Americans, many of them in the process of saving our heroes. And of course, at the end of the film the Noble Outlaw rides off into the sunset. (Sigh.) So many stereotypes, so little time.
But it was a really amusing and harmless evening, and the Chick will go see Cowboys and Aliens II, if and when it comes around. (Unless she has something better to do.)
Broken-down country-western singer/composers who have drowned their lives and talents in alcohol are grist for the Hollywood mill. But Jeff Bridges is always a sweetheart, and he does a great job in this one, although he is sort of turning into Robert Duvall before our eyes. (Robert Duvall also has a cameo in this film, as if to remind us that he won an Oscar some years ago for portraying a broken-down c-w s/c [see above] in a film titled Tender Mercies.)
Overall, this is an enjoyable flick, with a cute kid and a pretty girl and several fine performances, especially by Bridges, and some attractive music. And we enjoyed it. Not The Big Lebowski. Not Starman. But a solid film.(2/2010)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Okay: it was a ninja movie.
It was also gorgeous to look at. The
characters were gorgeous, the costumes, the landscape, the closeups,
the staging, the wirework, the props everything: A feast for
the eyes. There was more subtlety and character development than I
have ever seen in any film of this kind. (But remember, it's a
Yun Fat (the only member of the cast really familiar to me), Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, and Cheng Pei Pei were all effective. Example: the scene in which the ninja master and the powerful-young-woman-ninja-student
are standing in the treetops, supported only by leaves, air, and their
powerful wills. She snarls at him, "What do you want of me!" Chow Yun Fat reaches softly forward and answers,
"To teach you," and touches her forehead
the moment was so beautiful, and he was so beautiful that I
actually caught my breath! And when the woman-ninja master forgives
the young-woman-ninja-student, it was as gentle and moving a moment
as anyone could ask for in any film of any kind. The character of the
woman was especially well-rounded. She comes across as a real
Nevertheless, Oscars notwithstanding, it was a ninja movie from front to back, and you have to
be able to tolerate that in order to love this perfectly beautiful
Curse of the Jade Scorpion
Yes, Fans! This is what a Woody Allen film is supposed to be like. It's
the best since "Everybody Says I Love You" funny, witty,
charming, and even tender in spots. The Woodman has put rubber to the
road this time.
I also appreciate his giving himself a
sympathetic part, because really, after all these years it's an insult
to our intelligence for him to pretend to be anything other than the
elegant sharpshooter he obviously is. Allen and the lovely-and-talented
Helen Hunt trade insults and lightning wisecrackers, the funny stuff
is Marx Brothers quality, and pretty nearly every loose end gets
tucked neatly into place by the end of the film. (Except for the silent
brunette accomplice. Who IS she? And hmmm, I don't think girls began
wearing tight, short-sleeved sweaters until those Betty Grable's pinups in
I'd also like to add a personal thank
you for the great pleasure it gives this Chick to see Dan Aykroyd get a
serious smooch of his own. (And you, Woodman. Yes, and you too!) Thank you
also for giving us the opportunity to bask in the beaming benevolence of
Wallace Shawn's wonderful smile. And vicariously enjoy the warm loyalty and
good will of all the office workers who needs
realism in such a charming fantasy, anyway!
Sixteen stars on this one, film fans! And bravo, Woody Allen: those
Firecrackers and Skyrockets went off for us at his command! (9/01)
Da Vinci Code
Dopey book. Dopey movie. Not believeable. Not exciting. Even Tom Hanks couldn't save this one. (And he looked as if he were worried about it, too.) Hope he chooses better material next time. 5/06
The Day After Tomorrow
Global warming is a reality. No argument there.
Whether, however, it's logical for us to conclude that New York will immediately become a major deep freeze because the Earth is getting warmer . . . ah, that's another question.
However, in Day After Tomorrow Kirk Russell says it will, and then it does, so in the movie at least, he was right. But if he knew that was going to happen, why did he let his son and his son's high-school friends go there? And why did they choose the New York Public Library to hole up in? Wouldn't a supermarket have been a more satisfactory place to camp? And why does Kirk Russell have to walk from Pennsylvania to New York; are there no snowmobiles handy? And how does that ocean liner get into the streets of New York without crushing a building or else sinking itself? And what happened to the crew? And why was the ocean liner not squished and sunk by the ice, anyway? Ice expands. (Remember what happened to The Challenger in the Arctic? Oops! Sorry. Antarctic) And if all the people froze, why didn't the wolves freeze, too? And would the rich kid and the homeless street person really have gotten to be such buddies on such short notice? And how long had they been living on candy bars when they were rescued? So many questions; so little time. (I'm glad the nameless man saved the Gutenberg Bible, though. That really is priceless.)
But for a disaster movie, it was swell! (6/04)
It is intensely interesting to watch an actor grow. In this film, Clooney has taken yet another major step forward. Some time ago, in Good Night and Good Luck he made himself invisible unhandsome and unimpressive, which was what the role called for but soon after that, he became a major star, and for a while he fell into the Cary Grant charming rogue trap and although it fit him well, he might have become a Beloved Icon, which would have meant the end of him as a fine actor.
Ah, but this was a growth film. Here he walks the fine line between tragedy and comedy, touching our hearts and making us smile, both at the same time. Bravo!
Don't miss it. (2/12)
The Deep End
This dazzlingly suspenseful film has no shoot-outs, no acrobatics, no plots to destroy the world. What it has is turn after unbearable turn of the vise, in combination with an emotional impact so broad and so wide that it leaves you breathless! Granted the initial premise, the story unfolds with relentless inevitability, even though no next-step is predictable. Yet it is, in part and in whole, entirely character-driven. Really interesting. See this one! (9/30/01)
Devil Wears Prada
Meryl Streep is handsome, suave, enigmatic, and somewhat cruel. The rest of the cast looks pretty, dresses stunningly, and reacts predictably. The story line is pretty much what you'd expect, there is little or no romance, not much suspense, but (to repeat myself) plenty of neat fashion stuff. Nice bit of fluff. (8/06)
The Flick Chick Reviews New Films
More Film Reviews. Click the appropriate letter for films whose titles begin with . . .
A few choice foreign films (subtitles)
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