Monday, April 25, 2011

Carlito's Way

Carlito's Way- 1993, starring Al Pacino, Penelope Ann Miller, Sean Penn, John Leguizamo, and Viggo Mortensen

He says-  Street-wise Puerto Rican Pacino winds up a five-year jail term and tries to go straight, but loyalty to his sleazy lawyer (Penn), and his inability to accept the fact that "the street" has changed, seal his doom.  Flawed, but still compelling; based on two Edwin Torres novels about a man with an outmoded code of honor.  Pacino is arresting as always; so is an almost unrecognizable Penn.  Director Paul Mazursky has a terrific cameo as a judge at the beginning of the story.  Followed by a direct-to-video "prequel" in 2005.  3 stars.

I say- I don't get why so many people love this movie and put it in the same category as the Godfather or Goodfellas.  The acting is great, and Maltin is correct that I didn't even recognize Sean Penn, but I felt this movie was slowly paced, and that the mob story has been done to death.  1 star.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Adam's Rib

Adam's Rib-1949, starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
He says-  Smart, sophisticated comedy (by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin) about husband and wife lawyers on opposing sides of the same attempted-murder case.  One of Hollywood's greatest comedies about the battle of the sexes, with peerless Tracy and Hepburn supported by movie newcomers Holiday, Ewell, Hagen, and Wayne.  Cole Porter contributed the song "Farewell, Amanda."  Remade in Bulgaria in 1956 (in this version the heroine rebels against tradition as a result of her conversion to Marxism-Lenninism!).  Later a TV series.  Also shown in computer-colored version.  4 stars.

I say-  Dated.  It's enjoyable, but you can really tell how far film has come.  For instance, in a very early scene, Hepburn is driving and you can tell she's driving against a background screen, and the car is shaking far more than a baby met by a vicious au pair!  Worth watching for the acting, and I can tell that this movie has been stolen from many times.  2 stars.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Adam's Apples

Adam's Apples- 2005, starring a bunch of foreign actors

Leonard says- Ineffectual black-comedy allegory about a clash of wills between Ivan (Mikkelsen), a hard-luck soul who embraces religion and is in denial about the existence of evil, and Adam (Thomsen), a hardened career criminal and neo-Nazi.  Means to be profound, as it deals with the nature of good and evil, but it's merely overwrought.  2 stars.

I say- Man what a snoozer.  For me, a subtitled film has to be REALLY interesting for me to enjoy it (Oldboy, Pan's Labyrinth) and this is not one of them.  Avoid.  BOMB.

Adam Ressurected

And again, Netflix does not have Adam at 6 A.M., so I'm at

Adam Ressurected-2008, starring Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe

He says- Take a dash of Kirk Douglas in The Juggler, sprinkle in what you've heard about Jerry Lewis' The Day the Clown Cried, then imagine what Schrader at his most left-field-ish could bring to a Holocuse story.  Flashback film from Yoram Kaniuk's eponymous 1968 novel finds a once-popular prewar Berlin clown (Goldblum) in a postwar Israeli mental facility recalling concentration camp life- where he was forced to walk around on all fours like a dog by a commandant (Dafoe) who remembered him from his performing days.  This merely scratches the weird surfaces of a brave, barely released movie (with a Goldblum performance tough to fault) that's at once flamboyant yet too chilly to engage many viewers.  2 stars.

I say- This is a freakin' weird movie.    Jeff Goldblum is amazing in this movie, however, this movie just didn't really capture a lot of my attention.  1 star.

Monday, April 18, 2011


So Netflix doesn't have Act One, Actors and Sin, The Actress, Ada, and Adalen 31.  My biggest problem with netflix is that they don't have all of the movies I am required to watch, hopefully they add them soon.  But hey, look at that, I'm in the "Ad's" now!

Adam-2009, starring Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, and Peter Gallagher

He says- Sweet contemporary love story about a man with Asperger's syndrome who has little control over what he says or how he reacts to people; when his father dies he's left to face the world by himself for the first time.  Then he meets a new neighbor in his NYC apartment building and a tentative relationship blossoms.  Writer-director Mayer avoids cliche and formula in this winning, well-acted film.  3 stars.

I say-  I thought this was a really lovely movie.  Not much as far as plot goes, however, the interaction between the characters was amazing, and I'm really surprised I don't see Hugh Dancy in more films.  Very enjoyable.  3 stars.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Dolls-1987, starring Carrie Lorraine

Maltin says-  OK horror from the director of Re-Animator has unsuspecting people taking shelter from a storm in mansion owned by elderly couple who make murderous dolls.  Nothing special here.  2 stars.

I say-  Wow, I'm surprised this movie is in this book, considering all of the other movies that are straight to dvd that aren't in this book.  This is an odd movie.  The lead is a kid, who really can't act.  She seriously has made no othr movies since this once.  She did an episode of ALF prior to this.  She's terrible and you want her to die.  That said, this movie is very violent, and it jumps back from a kid's flick to a violent gore movie.  Really confusing on that end.  Overly cheesy, but a great drunk movie.  2 stars.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Act of Violence

So Netflix doesn't have Act of Love, An Act of Murder, or The Act of the Heart, so I'm on to:

Act of Violence-1949, starring Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, and Janet Leigh
He says-Stark, well-acted drama, with crippled, embittered Ryan stalking former senior officer Heflin, who betrayed his men while a POW.  Fine vigentte by Astor as a sympathetic call girl.  3 stars.

Grant says- This was a terrible netflix disc.  Granted, the movie was 1948, so the transfer was not expected to be great, but they threw it on a disc with some other random movie, so the transfer was crap.  The movie was barely watchable and the sound was terrible.  BOMB

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Queen

The Queen-2006, starring Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, and James Cromwell
Leonard says-  Intriguing look inside the private life of England's royal family as Queen Elizabeth II contends with the death of Princess Diana, while her new, "modernist" Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Sheen), tries to persuade her that her stoic silence is out of step with the public's grief.  Perceptive, persuasive, witty, and poignant, Peter Morgan's script humanizes the public figure it portrays, while actual TV news footage sets the stage for the events being dramatized.  Mirren's flawless, Oscar-winning performance sets a standard met by all of her costars.  Evocative and imaginative score by Alexandre Desplat.  A follow-up to Frears' and Morgan's British TV movie The Deal, in which Sheen first played Blair.  3 and a half stars.

I say-  Very enjoyable performance, but I would have preferred it more had it been a history of Queen Elizabeth rather than just showing one week in her life.  Acting is great all around, however, I feel no need to watch it again.  The movie is only 107 minutes, but it feels much longer,  2 and a half stars.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Crush

The Crush-1993, starring Cary Elwes, Alicia Silverstone, Amber Benson, and Kurtwood Smith
Maltin says- Ridiculous thriller about a thick-witted, twentysomething journalist (Elwes) who becomes the target of a pretty, obsessive fourteen-year-old Lolita (Silverstone).  A completely unnecessary Fatal Attraction/Hand That Rocks the Cradle/Single White Female clone; for a perceptive, non-exploitive look at the same subject, see the 1981 French film Beau Pere.  One and a half stars.

I say- I agree that this was unnecessary.  The whole thing made me uncomfortable, especially even more knowing that Alicia was 15 at the time of filming.  This is her first movie (according to the title credits "Introducing Alicia Silverstone"), and it's not like her career did much more except for a few films afterwords.  I mean seriously, where is she now?  But this is one of those movies that I've seen a million times in other iterations, and you can pass on it.  One half of a star.

Action Jackson

Action Jackson-1988, starring Carl Weathers, Craig T. Nelson, Vanity, Robert Davi, and Sharon Stone

He says- Strictly standard B-movie fare pitting good guy Weathers (a cop) vs. bad guy Nelson.  Plenty of explosions, car chases, corpses, and noise.  2 stars.

I say- Very standard movie.  I agree with Maltin.  I was excited when I saw Carl Weathers was in this, but it almost seemed as though they were trying to make a modern blaxploitation movie and it just didn't come together.  1 star.

Action in the North Atlantic

So unable to view Across the Wide Missouri, which takes me to:

Action in the North Atlantic- 1943, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ruth Gordon, and the skipper from Gilligan's Island
Maltin says- Rousing tribute to WW2 Merchant Marine, with officers Bogart and Massey, seamen Hale and Levene, usual hothead Clark, and Gordon as Masey's wife.  Also shown in computer-colored version.  3 stars.

I say-  Bleh.  Very standard world war 2 movie, just thought it was incredibly slow and boring.  Not much to say here.  BOMB

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In the Electric Mist

In the Electric Mist- 2009, starring Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman, Ned Beatty, Mary Steenburgen, and Peter Sarsgaard

Maltin says- Recovering alcoholic Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux (Jones) is trying to solve a series of gruesome murders when the corpse of a black man killed 40 years ago surfaces in a nearby marsh.  Atmospheric and well cast, this police procedural with mystical undertones is highly watchable, although some of the characters and relationships seem a bit sketchy (and may come to life more fully in James Lee Burke's novel or Tavernier's European cut, whih runs 117m.).  John Sayles has a hilarious cameo as a foulmouthed movie director.  Alec Baldwin played Robicheaux in 1996's Heaven's Prisoners.  2 and a half stars.

I say-  Odds are, you've heard of almost every cast member.  Odds are you've never heard of this movie.  There's a good reason for that!  I had really high hopes for this movie, but it just felt....long and awkward.  Jones is great, the rest of the cast is great, the cinematography is great, but the plot stunk.  Maybe a decent rental if you're a huge John Goodman fan.  1 and a half stars.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Across the Universe

Across the Universe-2007, starring Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Cocker, Salma Hayek, and Bono
Maltin says- A young Brit comes to the U.S. in search of his father, and falls in love with an all-American girl, just as she (and her entire generation) experience the mind-bending changes of the Vietnam era.  Routine story is just an excuse to pictorialize- and attempt to contextualize- more than 30 landmark Beatles songs.  Imaginative at times but increasingly wearying as the song cues line up (yes, there are characters named Prudence, Maxwell, Jude, et al), famous faces appear, and the plotline bogs down.  Our favorite number: Joe Cocker singing "Come Together."  2 and a half stars.

I say- I'm going to stick with the same opinion I had of this movie when I first saw it 4 years ago: this is not that great of a movie.  I saw it today, and had the same feeling.  The plot, which is incredibly basic, is very similar to a 15 minute sequence in Forrest Gump, where it was done much better.  Seriously, take away the Beatles songs and what do you have?  Just a basic, standard, Vietnam story.  It is a beautiful looking movie though, and I feel that it would work much better on stage than it does in film.  1 and a half stars.