O Brother Where Art Thou?
Even though it's billed as being loosely
based on Homer's
(very loosely, believe me), don't miss
"O Brother Where Art Thou!"
weird and wonderful Cohen brothers strike again, and they've hit it out
of the ball park this time! I'd rather made a point of not seeing
movies that featured George Clooney but he gets top marks for this one
in charm, chutzpah, and general adorability. And the wild and grungy
cuties who are in it with him (notably John Turturro!) well!
Loved them, loved the humor, loved the costumes, loved the whole flick.
No description of the story line could do it justice (or even encourage
you to see it). But take it from the Flick-Chick: this is a
Fun & games, boys & girls. If you saw the
Ocean's Eleven, don't worry about it. The only thing these
films have in common is the name, a Las Vegas setting, and the quantity
of cool star-dudes in the cast. But it oozes charm, the puzzle features
marvelous acrobatics, both physical and mental, and the sappy
obligatory romance is blessedly brief.
The most fun of all, however, lies in
seeing how much all these dazzling luminaries are enjoying themselves.
There's George Clooney batting his big browns with winsome insincerity.
There's Brad Pitt, no longer in the desperate earnest of last week's
and now the picture of lazy elegance. (He looks
suave, eats sloppy, and responds to questions in Chinese (and
Chinese) without breaking stride.) Here's Andy Garcia, all blued steel
as the impossibly impeccable Casino owner. And Elliot Gould, grinning
like a bansheee as he reels off Jewish mobster lingo. There's Matt
Damon, looking mildly outclassed, accompanied by a younger but
also cute Affleck brother and a hulking Caan. The immortal Don
Cheadle is done up in Cockney, of all things! Hey, I can't even carp at
having to root for the safe-breakers, because the joint taking the hit
is even more reprehensible than the perps!
But greatest treat of all
was in seeing the magnificent Carl
Reiner at work again! Ah, the great days are not quite gone!
was great! Fast, funny, cogent. All the many stars each got
a star-turn, and they each gave the impression that they were having a
blast. It was a joy to watch them work. And it even had a plot. Sort
know, though the word was that it lacked
But I can say for sure that
was a bad number for Oceans. A lavish set. Great stars
and more of them. Even had a few moderately funny bits, maybe, but
much talent on hand, they could
have come up with something better than the stale, uncharming rehash we
saw on the Fourth. Pity. So much talent. Such a waste.
Once Upon A Time in Mexico
If it were necessary to give
a one-word review of this film, that word would be
excess of violence. An excess of romanticism. An excess of smoldering
looks from the still-handsome-but-now-less-so Antonio Banderas.
Possibly even an excess of betrayals. All this was predictable to one
who had seen the previous two films in this series. The only thing.
perhaps, that that was
predictable and that there was
too much of was the entirely-over-the-top-of-the-top
performance by the (again!) wonderful, splendid, and eccentric Johnny
Depp! Oh yeah, bigger budget, but same brooding music, same unkempt
guitar, same noble Antonio, same evil henchpersons, but with one hugely
satisfying diff Depp is never the same, never boring, and never
like anything he has been before!
So . . . definitely okay see
if you liked the earlier films in this series. And definitely okay to
see if your spirit is enlarged by admiring several beautiful (and
several ugly) hunky guys. But if you're turned on by radically
different, exciting, inspired character acting by the truly talented
and beautiful-to-look-at Johnny Depp DEFINITELY here's
one for you, Babe!
Robin Williams' eerie,
slow, frequently silent performance was like something out of a French
. Except that it different in a great many ways. And
it was not visually dark. Williams is splendid. The climax is
satisfying. But it's really, really depressing. So if you plan to see
it after a bad day . . . think twice.
One Night at Mc'Cools
Y'know . . . I don't quite know what to tell you about this. Billed as
film noire, it's about as noire as you get, American style! This is not
a socially acceptable film, and on that level I guess I disapprove of
it it is to gratuitous sex and violence what movie popcorn is to
cholesterol! That said, I have to admit that it's comic book sex and
comic book violence, and that I laughed myself
The all-stars did a good job:
Liv Taylor was acceptably bodacious (Jozie tells me some gentlemen of
her acquaintance found her more than acceptable), Matt Dillon was
charmingly dumb-but-beautiful, John Goodman hugely, loweringly funny,
and Paul Reiser hilariously, neurotically kinky, but I have to give the
topmost tarnished star to Michael Douglas's perfectly-turned
sleazeball. (And you know how I feel about Michael Douglas!) One
question: was that or was that not an uncredited Andrew Dyce Clay
playing the twins?
See it at your
own risk and don't say I didn't warn you!
word, spooky. There's loads of mist, moors, dark rooms, mysterious
servants, and inexplicable sounds, plus plenty of weird behavior,
especially on the part of an uptight Nicole Kidman in a very attractive
1945 wig, as she forces her small children to read the Bible aloud for
days on end without stopping except for the occasional sighting
of one or more mysterious vanishing strangers. (She, by the way, is now
so verrrry thin that she looks like a wraith herself. Does the woman
live on nothing but water and vitamin pills?)
Of course, I admit that my heightened
Chick sensibilities allowed me to foresee the ending sting long before
it arrived, but the rattles and screams made me jump right along with
the rest of the Friday night crowd. Overall, it was a nice scary ghost
story, suitable for all us campers around the fire that night. Good
though: why did she get so upset with the grand piano began playing
itself? Me, I want one save me a bundle on classical DVDs!
This is a really big film
a really big subject. Even so, all I can provide you is a
review-in-a-nutshell. And here it is:
The film is provocative and
thought provoking. While I was watching it, I kept thinking about all
the other people across the world who would be watching it also
Christians, and Moslems, and people from India and from China and from
Africa . . . all the world's people with their diverse lives and their
diverse beliefs. And the thing that most struck me most was that the
unique truth that the Christian religion has to offer is . . . love
your neighbors. And forgive them . . . for they know not what they do.
Any more than we know what we do, either. Everybody needs love.
Everybody needs to be forgiven for something. Probably for a lot of
things. So I guess that was the essence of the film for me.
See it if you like that sort
of thing, but be warned: It's very, very violent; it is not necessarily
historically accurate, and I feel that it's only for the strong minded.
And only for grownups who can think and judge for themselves.
Footnote. Films and history
to the contrary, I cannot believe
stand and watch her son take that kind of abuse and not go mix it up
with his abusers!
free to differ with me, friends. And try to forgive me (and yourself)
for our differences.
The verdict on this one
depends on how well you love Mel Gibson. The storyline is loosely based
on the war career of Marion the Swamp Fox, only without mosquitoes.
Incidental plot bits were sort of slung in for convenience. I can see
the story conference now:
we need to sauce this stuff up somehow. Let's put his kids in danger."
"Okay how 'bout the Brits
burn down his house?"
since we need to give that girlfriend more scene-time, we can have the
kids go to the girlfriend's and then the Brits'll burn down her house,
"Yeah! Say, later on, when Mel
& the girl start smooching, the art directors want to have a nice ocean
in the bg. Think we can work that in some way? Some kinda
chick and the kids can take refuge in somebody's seashore hideaway."
"Hold on, I just thought of
something South Carolina? Those guys all had slaves, didn't
they? We can't have Mel owning slaves!"
"No problem, somebody can just
casually mention that they're all free sort of
go, Great One!"
Yeah. Way to go.
exciting enough, the film's historical accuracy is less than so-so. One
of our Denver correspondents, 11-year-old Andrea Brown, has pointed out
a few anomalies. Her mother notes that: "Andrea . . . loves that time
period. [But] She said that the soldiers couldn't shoot with bayonets
in their guns. She also said that they added the bayonets after they
were finished shooting and ready for close combat. I don't know if this
is right, but she said that they didn't have a national flag until
closer to the end of the war that the militia would have had a
South Carolina flag, something more local. They studied the
Revolutionary War last year. She liked the film, though."
In closing, I must mention that the
Friday night audience I was part of loved every minute of this very
long picture. It was really touching the way everyone applauded every
time us Rebs took coup! And guess what? We win!
Pay It Forward
Doubtless, you've read all those one- and two-star reviews of that film
with Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and the cute little kid who was in
"Sixth Sense". Well, never mind the buzz, it's a three-handkerchief
picture that most people seem to have enjoyed rather a lot. True, its
cop-out ending shamelessly jerks your heartstrings, and everything in
the film telegraphs exactly what's coming next. But Spacey's
performance was believable and genuinely touching, and both Hunt and
the kid were excellent. Overall, viewing this film was an odd
experience: The editor in my head was raving mad about the kitschy
content and all the cheap shots, while my emotions went right ahead and
got blown away!
remember Pearl Harbor?
Were you there? What was it like?
Yes, Dearie, I remember it well. Ah, we
were all so young then, and we were how can I explain it
we were so noble, all of us. We cared about the real things. Like
flying. And keeping ourselves Pure. And Loyalty. Maybe we posed a
little, when we were far from home, and lonely, and expecting to die.
But if we did, well, that was part of it. Because it was true; a lot of
us did die.
What else was it like?
Oh, the girls were all pretty and eager and innocent, and the young men
were all good looking. Maybe a little heedless at first. Maybe we even
pretended we could hardly read and needed help, if the nurse who
examined our eyes happened to be soft-hearted and desirable. And we
wanted to get her attention.
see, we were real people then, just as you are now. We bled real, red
blood, not manufactured gore. And whether the stories we tell about it
cast light on the recollection of those times, or whether they cast a
little veil across the worst of those times . . . they stay with us. We
Not much on tonight? This
1993 Julia Roberts/Denzel Washington thriller is highly watchable. Her
anxious, veined forehead and huge eyes were just as magnetic then as
now. His unlined face was just as compelling. Plus some scenes with the
wonderfully craggy Sam Shepard and a nice, complex plot. Pleasant
Pirates of the Caribbean
O-kay . . . there have been
jillions of films (good and bad) based on books from
The Wizard of Oz
The Shipping News
And recently there have been numerous films based on
to name but one. There was once a
film about getting lost in a video game (
) and there have
been quite a few
on video games, such as the upcoming
biggie. But I think what we have here is a real
first a flicker based on a theme park ride!
And with that in mind, the
Disney folks should get down on their kneebones and thank their lucky
stars that Johnny Depp is as clever, and innovative, and adorable, and
wierd as he is!
you know what that means? Show of strength. True,
Orlando Bloom is cute and Geoffrey Rush does a good job, but nothing in
this world could have turned this very puny concept into the utterly
delightful entertainment it is except the star-strength of Depp's
talent and his drunken-appearing, amazingly decked-out charm. Wow!
The Chick advises you to
expect nothing. And everything. And that the cost of your ticket is
Later note: Other "Pirates" films
diminish in relation to their place in line. Depp is still first rate,
but he should strike for better material.
Well, he surprised me
again. For a number of years Jack Nicholson specialized in playing a
certain kind of wild and (literally) crazy guy. And it got old.
Although he did it extraordinarily well, I began wanting to not-see his
movies. So I quietly boycotted
As Good As It Gets,
it also starred the beautiful and talented Helen Hunt. Even after he
and she both took an Oscar to wild applause, I continued sulking,
because I thought the film award belonged to
solid gold attaway still goes to that great indie film. As always.)
Then one of the friends who had
been nagging me go see it actually bought a copy of
As Good As It
and presented it to me as a unbirthday present. So I watched
it and behold! Jack had expanded his repertoire.
Good. Even so I never bothered to see
until it was long gone from theaters. Matter of
fact, I just got around to it.
know what? He's done it again.
the precredits, which so often set the scene or the pace, I did not
even recognize him! That sure set the pace all right. Here he plays a
low-key under-control character who, a little at a time is subjected to
greater and greater pressure by the dreadful murder of a young child,
just on the day he is to retire as the officer in charge. He does
retire, but the crime haunts him, and he struggles throughout the film
to find the fleeting shadow of the criminal. Been done? Yes, but he
makes it live. It's dark and saddening, but if you have not yet done
so, see it now. You must not miss this one.
still some debate about whether or not Jackson Pollock was a great
painter, but there's no debating Ed Harris' splendid acting and his
directing of this film depicting Pollock's life and creative energy. I
was especially impressed by the attention that was devoted to actually
portraying the continual effort the agonizing and recurring
struggle toward creation. Most bio-pix content themselves with
love'em-and-leave'em, tantrum-and-tribulation views of an artist's
life. Of course, there was certainly plenty of that in Pollock's life
and also in the film, but Art itself is the real focus of this very
beautiful and effective work of art.
Also note that all the supporting roles
were well handled, especially that of Pollock's long-suffering wife:
Marcia Gay Harden really deserved her Oscar.
Bravo, Ed Harris!
Who can criticize Johnny Depp?
is not really John Dillinger, although we are seeing him and thinking
of him as Dillinger in this film. And one wonders . . . how many
gangster movies can one see without beginning to feel a certain . . .
um . . .
Of course, there have been films in
which the gang members are really bad. All bad. Shown to be bad, as
when Jimmy Cagney pushed a grapefruit into the pretty girl's face.
Proven to be bad, by machine gunning innocents. But since the
films, we have grown to know many of these
law-breakers intimately. We know their mothers and their tastes in
cuisine. We have insight into their motives and the pressures that
drive them. We see their louche surroundings, and feel a certain
sympathy for the good-bad hero. We develop awkward emotions toward
ending the career of our protagonist and supporting the the Forces of
Law and Order. Do we maybe
that gorgeous burgler or bank
robber to commit his next robbery? How do we really feel when he fires
that pistol? That tommy gun? Are we ever just a little . . . just a
Ah, but ought we to be pleased
when the bad guy wins?
Sometimes our "hero" gets away with
a bundle and sometimes not. Sometimes he glories in his loot, but more
often than not, it seems so paltry that he must go on. And on. And we,
also, go along with him, into a deepening grey area between right and
Don't get me wrong. This is an
enjoyable film. Johnny Depp does a fine job. There is a charming scene
in which he ambles innocently (!) into a police station one hot summer
afternoon. Hands in pockets, stylish straw hat cocked back on his head,
he looks around through his cool sunglasses and strolls up a flight of
stairs. A policeman is listening to a ball game on the radio, and
Depp/Dillinger asks, "Who's ahead?" The officer glances over his
shoulder (excitement deepens) and answers casually. Depp nods and moves
on. Eventually, he descends the stairs and goes outside again. And goes
on his way. A few days later he is shot down as he leaves a movie
theater. He had been watching a Clark Gable picture. Gable was playing
a hoodlum, and he, too, was executed at the end of the film. Poetic
justice? Yes. But when the shot was fired, I flinched and thought, "Oh
Yes, I did.
Dillinger's pretty girlfriend (in
jail for a few years) hated the cops and was loyal to Dillinger's
memory all her life. That was the last scene in our film. Very
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)