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The Flick Chick

The Flick Chick
Films with titles beginning with "G" and "H"

In the dark of the night , the Chick roams the vast wasteland! Far into the outermost reaches of the Box, where mere mortals hesitate to tread, the Chick, intrepid as ever, searches the night for gems, seeking to bring you film jewels buried in the desert . . . Yet there is hope!

Garden State

           Here's an interesting phenomenon: Take a fairly ordinary-looking young man, give us the illusion that we are understanding what moves him, what frightens him, what hurts him, what bewilders him, what makes him angry, and what he needs. And let us acquire this information mostly by staring at him while other things happen around him, no matter how wierd they are . . . and the Chick begins to feel interest, concern, sympathy and even affection for said young man. Wonder why that takes place. The Chick feels no corresponding emotion for the well-being and future welfare of similarly presentable young women, no matter how frightened, hurt, bewildered, angry, or needy they may be. Inexplicable, isn't it!
           Zach Braff wrote, directed, starred. Also starring Natalie Portman with Ian Holm. (10/04)


     This 1997 release is already a classic. Three or four cuts above standard SF fare in structure, stars, and acting, with the talents of Ethan Hawke, a luminous Uma Thurman, and Jude Law as (most believably) a man perfect in all ways except one, it also has a deeply moving premise: that we are all of us far more than we think we are. Even if you don't care for science fiction, see this for its suspense and emotional power.

Get Low

           Oh, what a pleasure it is to see great workmen excel at their trade! Robert Duval is one of the treasures of the acting profession — and Bill Murray is another, so we are double-dipping with this fine film that relies on character, excellent writing, and superb styling to carry its pure little storyline. By the bye, how rare it is that a film should rely on character, rather than action; we rather expect it in a fine novel, but it is (excuse me) novel to find that, even in a good film. Duval plays a type that he has refined exquisitely over the years, and he captures us at hello. Murray, who has come a long, long way from his youth on Saturday Night Live, still carries a deep, deep cool note. And that note rings true.
           Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black, and Bill Cobbs live their parts, and the settings and the music suit the film perfectly. And just for the record, this is reputed to be retold from a true story.
            As it has taken a while for this 2009 film to reach the outlands where the Chick resides, you may already have missed it in theaters. If so — go for the DVD! (9/10)

Get Smart

           If you remember and loved the Get Smart of yore . . . forget that. This ain't it. Smart himself is a bit too smart to be so dumb, and the wide-eyed dumb-like-a-fox 99 that we loved and laughed at is too street-smart by half. Every punchline from the original is replayed — and replayed — but most are out of context and fall very flat. (Although the Chick has to admit that the ballroom dancing scene really was pretty funny.)
           However, if you never saw the original series, maybe you'll think all those infantile bathroom jokes are funny. Who knows? (Reviewed: Summer, 2008)


      Russell Crowe, you'll remember, played the cig. company stoolie in The Insider, in a poignant, low-key performance. And of course he Oscared in L.A. Confidential, as he did in this role. He is Gladiator's appealingly buff protagonist. The contrast between the Insider role and the others shows his impressive versatility. As to the flick itself, I' m a sucker for the strong silent type — but history this ain't . And there's lots of blood, of course. Bit too much for my taste. Others complained of that, and said they disliked the slow-mo & blurry treatment of the violence during the battles. That aspect of it didn't bother me. I would think that kind of fighting might truly seem blurry & slow-mo, in retrospect.
      However, it irritates me when a film preaches non-violence and then serves it up in huge dollops, saying "Yum-Yum!"
      Overall I liked the film (saw both film and video) and found it moving each time I viewed it, but I must add some strongly felt criticisms of its historical accuracy. For one thing, the Emperor Commodus did not die in the arena. More importantly, Emperor Marcus Aurelius was one hellova warrior as well as one of the greatest philosophers in history. Here he comes off as a wimp. Pity. His own story is better that the film's plot. And, unlike the fictional Maximus, Marcus Aurelius really existed! The FreeLook Classics Club has a copy of Aurelius's book "Meditations" — Good stuff to read on an airplane (. . .especially during severe turbulence!) (8/00)

Godzilla XVIII

           Each of us has a right to his or her own taste, and I am a real fan of the most recent Godzilla — the one that starred Matthew Broderick. See, in all the other ones, the hero is a big-chinned beefcake. Now realistically . . . if a guy who comes on like Kirk Douglas tells you he's got the solution to your probs, you're going to believe him, right? And that fact lent a certain lack of versimilitude to earlier Godzilla vers. When all the experts turn him down, I mean, and he has to go Do It Alone.
          But when a cute, wimpy young innocent like MB tells you he knows how to kill the big, bad monster, the character actors have maybe the right to look dubious. So why did the earlier flick-folks build in that problem? What can I say; did they make me casting director? They did not — The dummies!
           The scene I absolutely loved best was the one in which MB comes face to face with the Monster. Broderick looked so thrilled! Exactly the way a real enthusiast would have treated such a situation. And then, as he begins to realize that this large and fascinating creature might represent some personal danger to himself . . . his expression of longing, mingles with a certain degree of anxiety. Rather like courtship — though the possible outcome of a courtship is usually not fatal. So anyway, consider this one. As a Horrid-Monster-Flick, it takes the scaly green cake.

Gone in 60 Seconds

      Ah, the Great Nicholas Cage; elegant, prolific, and accomplished. (And speaking of versatile!) I enjoyed this, even though I'm not a big car nut. Nor a car-thief nut. But I fault it for the same reason I fault Gladiator: it's immoral. I just hate rooting for the perps! True, our hero is a Good Guy. And the plot makes a case for his being Forced Into doing this Bad Stuff. But the whole time these flicks are decrying violence, they keep serving up bigger and bigger dollops of the very Bad Stuff they pretend to abhor. That's a no-no!

Good Night and Good Luck ****

           Seeing this film, one realizes that George Clooney has become a man of parts. More than just a sexy smile, now, and big brown eyes, his portrayal of Fred Friendly is so low in tone that it takes a while to recognize him. And he is now a capable director, a dedicated student of history . . . maybe even a visionary. The film is faithful to the time: it's shot in black and white; the women's hair and clothes hark back to the days when things were not quite movie-sleek — and the "girls" run errands for the guys; David Strathairn actually looks very much like Edward R. Murrow; and the old-fashioned equipment, the cramped quarters and the contrast between the formality of the characters' behavior and the intimate handling of the star (someone actually sits at Murrow's knee and taps him with a pencil to cue him in) all ring true.
          The unease of the atmosphere rings true, too. Most film viewers are probably too young to remember what it was like. But those were desperate times. "Witch hunting," the victims called it, though the hunters called it patriotism. Lives were destroyed. Talented people went to jail. Some of the victims really did kill themselves. Years ago, Woody Allen made a film called "The Front," which co-starred Zero Mostel. It dealt with the same interval in history, the same political paranoia. It, too, was undervalued and comparatively unsuccessful. But it told the same sort of tragic tale.
          Let's hope those times are gone for good.
          A fine film. If you have not yet seen it, get the video when you can. (12/05)

The Good Shepherd

           Don't trust anybody. Not your partner. Not your friend. Not your handler. Nobody. They're all out to betray you. And they do.
            Paranoia? Nope, all true in the life of a spy. Little by little the gentle, poetic character of our protagonist (Matt Damon) begins to darken, to harden. As years pass and the story line develops, all Damon's kind feelings, all his relationships, and every aspect of his trustful nature begins to turn to stone. The viewer keeps wondering, "Will the last gate hold?"
            Not telling. Watch it and see.
            The star studded, noire studded, cast glitters darkly: Angelina Jolie, William Hurt, John Tuturro, De Niro (who directed), and even those less well known would make the viewing worth while. Add a darkly convoluted plot and, well, if you like this sort of thing, this is your meat! (12/06)

Gosford Park

     Altman has a winner here. It's not M*A*S*H, but it is certainly a charming, bitchy, three-dimensional and sometimes poignant film that keeps you scrambling to maintain mental contact with a broad cast of memorable characters. Everywhere you look, there's a star: Maggie Smith, Alan Bates, Jeremy Northam, Kristin Scott Thomas, Clive Owen, Kelly MacDonald, and the splendid Helen Mirren, to name a very few.
     One literary convention after another is overturned in this story. The English-country-house-murder frame, complete with a corpse that has been both stabbed and poisoned, appears at first to be no more than a clever setting — yet it is the crux of the film. The greatest no-no for the budding playwrite, that of carrying the plot by means of servants' dialogue, is brilliantly employed. And although there is hardly a single sympathetic character, the watcher must empathize with them all, both upstairs and down.
     No doubt this film will win prizes. Whether or not it will win the big-grosser gold medal is still in question. In the Sunday afternoon crowd who saw it with us, there were many gray heads and few young people. Maybe the teasers should be featuring the constant intrigues and dozens of sexual encounters that make this plot run. Hey guys — Sex and violence at Gosford Park! Come and get it! (1/13/02)


      Miss it! Tony Hopkins is just as ravishingly seductive as billed — but do you really want to go around rooting for a cannibal serial killer? (2/01)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone

      What's not to love about Harry Potter? The young actors are excellent and very good looking. The adult actors are warm (or appropriately cold) and involved, and they never put their tongues into their cheeks and descend into camp. The visuals are gorgeous. The story line deviates hardly an iota from the book. And once the feature appeared, the noisy theater audience became silent as stones themselves. (Except for occasional cheering!) What more could a Harry Potter fan ask? 11/16/01

Harry Potter II

      Harry is taller now. He looks a little more mature. He has learned a couple of new spells, and he's a little braver. Otherwise, he is still the same blue-eyed noble-hearted, innocent, earnest, honest, thoughtful, jock-enchanter he ever was. The good guys are still good-clean-through, and the bad guys are still distinctly ba-a-a-a-d. And there's the same gorgeous castle of a school, the same moving staircases, the same ghosts and talking pictures, even the same Dumbledor as before. (New Dumbledor next time, I guess.) And Harry wins at Quidditch again. Why are you not surprised?
     The flying car is new, however, and you get to meet Ron's family. Kenneth Branagh (as in THE Kenneth Branagh) does a comic guest bit that is worth the price of the ticket. Also Hermione's hair looks nicer, and at one point she throws herself into Harry's arms, at which, they both stop and look embarassed. The monster is a great monster, and the spiders made even the Chick's skin crawl. So overall, if you want more of the same, you'll be as wild about Harry II as you were about Harry I. Even if not, you may as well see it and enjoy the phenomenon. (HP fans will be glad to note that earlier spelling errors have been corrected, thanks to contributing writer, Amanda Meredith. Sorry HP fans; the Chick is fallable.) (11/15)

Harry Potter in '07

           Our Boy is taller, leaner, and filled with angst, interested in girls, but too busy moping and racing around doing magic for romance. So what keeps it from merely being More Of The Same? (That is, supposing you didn't attend for the express purpose of enjoying More Of The Same.) No sports event, for one thing. And a Hateful Housemother for another.
            But on sober consideration, the Chick must admit that she was, like Harry's mass of admirers, really in the market for the same old enchanter and the same old enchantment. A strong storyline, the visual beauty of the environment, the wonderful shifting staircase, the "moving" pictures on the walls, the sense that the world is shifting under your feet . . . that's what we came for: not just the Magic, but the magic of open-ended wonder for what-the-world-might-become. That's what brings us in again and again. Oh, Harry Potter — live forever! (7/07)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

           All our favorite characters. Lots of excitement. Mysterious doings. Hagrid weeping over the death of a giant spider (one of his numerous pets). Love potions. Noble sentiments. Horrid threats. A quick game of quidditch. Major and minor villians. Several passionate kisses. Lowering skies. But there was, for me, something missing. There were almost no lovely bits of occasional magic. Oh, there was still a lot of neat stuff. Still lots of action for Harry and the gang. But not so many grace notes. And (sigh) I missed them. ( 7/09 )

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

           If the Chick had to give it a four-word review, it would be "Less magic; more angst."
           This is much more of a relationship narrative than any of the past Potter films: all about Harry, Hermione, and Ron in the Eternal Triangle, as they struggle to overcome the Dark Powers. Will there be more of this to come? Probably.
           But I do miss the little, elegant magics that decorated the earlier films. (Sigh) (12/2010)

The Final Harry Potter

           It's tough, living in Fantasyland. Fun, but tough. Heroes must suffer bruises, terror, betrayal, threats, scorn, injustice, and the loss of friends and loved ones — and they must maintain their dignity and integrity through it all. (Of course, non-heroes, although they may seem to win countless times, must expect a bitter end, shriveled, imploded, exploded, sliced-and-diced, or otherwise done away with.)
           Let's think about this: Magical heroes do get to do neat magic; often they get the girl of their choice, and of course they Win in the End. But . . . then what? Do they get to be King of the World? And if so, which world? Kings of Fantasyland? Might that not prove dull? The prettier aspects of magic have been dwindling down as they have grown up. Owls die. Magical feasts sate the appetite. Must our Heroes spend the rest of their lives dispensing justice among warlocks, centaurs and Very Large Spiders?
            Then what if they become Kings in Real Life? Will their days be spent arguing with Parliament, resisting lobbiests, and going to meetings about the National Debt?
            Or perhaps they just step back into the real world to become insurance salesmen who help make breakfast for the family? Is that just . . . it? What becomes of them afterward? Isn't there anything attractive a fantasy hero can train for?
           Makes you wonder, doesn't it? (Summer 2011)


           Great Dustin Hoffman vehicle. Neat Story. Neat switcheroos. Nice romance. And Hoffman does that great thing he does once in a while: watching him, you can read the emotions flicker across his face like shadows on the lawn. A really good flick — but even if if were not, it would be worth seeing for that last little scene at the end.

High Crimes

      Heyyyy. It's fun to eat hamburgers. And fries. Masses of chocolate chip cookies. Even though you know they aren't particularly good food, and not especially good for you, and you may feel vaguely embarrassed about it later? Okay. Then you know how you'll feel about enjoying High Crimes. Like you're a little embarrassed to have enjoyed it — but you did.
     Ashley Judd turns in a good performance: not Ruby in Paradise, maybe.Not Double Jeopardy. But she's perky, and pretty, and convincing. And Morgan Freeman is his own magnificent self. There are good-enough supporting players, the timing is good, the dialogue is plenty good enough. There's lots of action and some pretty good suspense. Nice satisfying tweak at the end. Even a nice tweak to the tweak — although that very final scene is cute enough to make you gag.
      But unfortunately (yeah, I already telegraphed this) the basic premise is pathetic. I'm not talking about the X-files paranoia, or the original Terrible Incident. Sadly, terrible stuff does indeed happen, and far too often. (Although the circumstances explained in the film seem pretty farfetched.) But when it's all over, you have to ask yourself — why the devil did they indict the young man at all?
     My movie buddy had the best answer: "Because otherwise there would have been no film."
     Yeah! But maybe the film makers should go a little easier on the junk food. (4/15/02)


           Some actors have that special Something.
           Example: All Cary Grant ever had to do was stand there onscreen and look dumbstruck — and the men and women in those dark popcorny seats just melted. He could do no wrong.
           Only Real Stars have that quality. It's a gift.
           And Will Smith has that gift. Whether he's hotdogging it after bug-eyed monsters or getting himself chased by mad assassins, he always has that big-time Meltdown Factor working for him. And Hitch is no exception. With only a moderately cute plot and one very good second banana, Smith turns this film into a great, long-running feature. Although we have to admit that it's easier to believe in the Hitch character as Mr. Supercool, rather than as his Stumblebum-in-love alter ego, we both melted, right on schedule. Cute film. Especially if you adore Will Smith. (3/05)

Hitchhiker's Guide

          Maybe you have to be an SF nut to like this film . . . but I don't think so. Maybe you have to be an afficianado of the books to be nuts about this film . . . but I don't think so. Maybe you have to have the sense of humor of a crazy person to have afficion for this film . . . I don't think that either. I think all you really need is to be a citizen of the Galaxy. Any Galaxy.
          Funny, wierd, mildly touching, innovative, exciting to the mind, dazzling to the eye, provocative to the imagination . . . bang-up laughs. Gotta see it! (5/05)

Hollywood Ending

     Woody Allen is up to snuff here. He still writes the smoothest dialogue in town, and if he ran out of steam toward the end of filming a fictionalized backstory of "Bullets over Broadway" (which is what this film appears to be), it is still charming, even though the ending is all the title implies. As usual, there is a star-studded cast. Tea Leone, for example, looks stunning and handles the trademark-Allen-stammer very well, and it was heartwarming to see George Hamilton's glowingly uneasy smile as an affectless (thoroughly tanned) supernumarary.
     At our Sunday afternoon performance, the theater was packed. Justly so. (5/4/02)

The Hours

     It's hard to criticize a film that includes Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, West Wing's Allison Janney, and the great and spooky Ed Harris.
      This one was brilliantly acted throughout.
      But . . .
      Hmm . . .
     Too brilliantly acted, somehow. One could never lose sight of the fact that the three-count'em-three leading ladies were Movie Stars, all Brilliantly Acting. Ed Harris did convince me that he was nuts. Allison Janney, what we saw of her, did look wonderful with curly hair. The Big Three really Showed their Stuff. But Virginia Woolf, that strange, splendid, cruel, tender, and tortured writer, never made it to the silver screen that day. Good movie, but I only saw Stars. (2/03)

House of Sand and Fog

       Brilliant performance by Ben Kingsley — he should walk away with an Academy Award. Jennifer Connelly was excellent. First-rate supporting performances. Wept like a baby. Beautiful film. Don't see if you are at all depressed. (12/03)


          Sorry, folks. Not enchanted. Cute kids, wonderful clockwork, neat robot drawing neat pix, and I even like those silly Flash-Gordon silent flix, but, well, truly . . . the whole was less than the sum of its parts. Sorry. (11/11)

The Flick Chick Reviews New Films
More Film Reviews. Click the appropriate letter for films whose titles begin with . . .
A-B  #  C-D  #  E-F  #  G-H  #  I-J  #  K-L  #  M-N  #  O-P  #  Q-R  #  S  #  T-U  #  V-W  #  X-Y-Z
A few choice foreign films (subtitles)

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