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The Flick Chick

The Flick Chick
Films with titles beginning with "O" and "P"

You want silly, we got silly. You want scary, we got scary. You want stirring, uplifting, impassioned, classico? We got that too. Hundreds upon hundreds, some for every taste, one for every mood.

Which is which? Check with the Chick! She knows.

O Brother Where Art Thou?

      Even though it's billed as being loosely based on Homer's Oddessey (very loosely, believe me), don't miss "O Brother Where Art Thou!"
      The 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 seventeen-star film! (03/01)

Ocean's Eleven

     Fun & games, boys & girls. If you saw the old 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 Spy Game and now the picture of lazy elegance. (He looks suave, eats sloppy, and responds to questions in Chinese (and in 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 — Mirabile dictu! — was in seeing the magnificent Carl Reiner at work again! Ah, the great days are not quite gone! (12/01)

Ocean's Thirteen

            Ocean's Eleven 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 of.
           Never saw O-12, so don't know, though the word was that it lacked lustre.
           But I can say for sure that Thirteen was a bad number for Oceans. A lavish set. Great stars and more of them. Even had a few moderately funny bits, maybe, but surely surely with that 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. (7-4-07)

Once Upon A Time in Mexico

       If it were necessary to give a one-word review of this film, that word would be Excess! An 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 not predictable and that there was not 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! (9/28/03)

One Hour Photo

     Robin Williams' eerie, slow, frequently silent performance was like something out of a French film noire . 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. (10/3/02)

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 silly!
     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! (5/01)

The Others

      In a 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 end-of-summer fare.
      One thing, 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! (8/01)

The Passion

        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 anybody's mother could/would stand and watch her son take that kind of abuse and not go mix it up with his abusers!
        Feel free to differ with me, friends. And try to forgive me (and yourself) for our differences. (3/04)

The Patriot

      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:

      "Man, we need to sauce this stuff up somehow. Let's put his kids in danger."
      "Okay — how 'bout the Brits burn down his house?"
      "Yeah! And 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, too."
      "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 sunset-over-the-sea?"
      "Sure, the 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 friends&employees-like!"
      "Way to go, Great One!"

      Yeah. Way to go.
      Although it's 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! (9/00)

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! (10/00)

Pearl Harbor

     Do you 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.
     You 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 remember them. (6/01)

The Pelican Brief

     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 evening fare.

Pirates of the Caribbean

       O-kay . . . there have been jillions of films (good and bad) based on books — from Jane Eyre and The Wizard of Oz to The Shipping News and Ironweed. And recently there have been numerous films based on comic books — Spider Man to name but one. There was once a film about getting lost in a video game ( Tron ) and there have been quite a few based on video games, such as the upcoming Tomb Raider 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!
        Tour de force — 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 money well-spent! (7/2003)

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.

The Pledge

     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, even though 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 Smoke Signals. (My 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 Gets, 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 The Pledge until it was long gone from theaters. Matter of fact, I just got around to it.
     And know what? He's done it again.
     During 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. (8/01)


      There's 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! (04/01)

Public Enemy

           Who can criticize Johnny Depp?
           Yet 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 . . . emotional ambivalence ?
           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 Godfather 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 want 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 little pleased?
            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 wrong.
           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 no!" 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 effective, alas. (7/09)

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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