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The Flick Chick
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!
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!
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.
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)
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
Saturday Night Live,
still carries a deep, deep cool
note. And that note rings true.
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.)
Crowe, you'll remember, played the cig. company stoolie in
in a poignant, low-key performance. And of course he
as he did in this role. He is
appealingly buff protagonist. The contrast between
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.
Each of us
has a right to his or her own taste, and I am a real fan of the most
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.
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 Good Shepherd
trust anybody. Not your partner. Not your friend. Not your handler.
Nobody. They're all out to betray you. And they do.
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.
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?
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.
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
Chick had to give it a four-word review, it would be "Less magic; more
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.)
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.
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
Like you're a little embarrassed to have enjoyed it
but you did.
actors have that special Something.
have to be an SF nut to like this film . . . but I don't think so.
Maybe you have to be an
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
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.
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.
It's hard to criticize a film that
includes Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore,
Allison Janney, and the great and spooky Ed Harris.
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)
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)