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July 30, 2002

The Client

Low quality Grisham cash-in

Two young brothers witness a suicide in a wood. Before he actually kills himself the man reveals where a body has been buried by the mob, and that fearing he'll be next he is killing himself instead. An unlikely start to a film with many unlikely twists and uncertain motives. One of the boys goes into a coma from the shock, and the other is taken on by lawyer Susan Sarandon. Tommy Lee Jones plays a government agent who tries to get Sarandon's client to give up the location of the body. While this is going on the mobsters are also threatening to kill the boy if he says anything.

We never really find out why Sarandon takes the case on for free, and risks her life. The mobsters are crude characatures, reminiscent of the villains in a Home Alone film, and in one laughable scene the boy even manages to escape from jail leaving the film with no credibility at all.

In the end Sarandon outwits Jones and secures places on the witness protection program for the two boys and their mother, but the legal mumbo jumbo used to reach this conclusion has made any outcome welcome, as long as it means the end of this terrible film. It should have been a TV movie. It was obviously hastily made to cash in on the previous successes of Grishams other novels "The Firm" and "The Pelican Brief", which are far superior films.


Posted by se71 at 05:47 PM | Comments (0)

Stuart Little 2

Charming childrens comedy

All the main characters are back from the first outing, and this is a welcome addition to the story of the mouse who lives in New York as a normal son to Mr and Mrs Little. This time Stuart makes friends with a small bird he rescues from an evil falcon. She comes to stay in the house, but is really a crook and accomplice to the falcon who uses her to steal jewellry. She steals Mrs Little's wedding ring and leaves. Stuart thinks she has been kidnapped, and with the cat goes across the city to rescue her.

There are some good chases, and in the end Stuart rescues the bird from the falcon in a little plane. It turns out she was being forced against her will to steal in true Oliver Twist fashion, and she comes back to the Littles house before realising her dream of flying south for the winter with her other bird friends.

Lipnicki as the real son of the Littles has a smaller part than last time, but this is good as he is now growing up and is starting to lose his cute kid appeal. Davis and Laurie as mom and dad are excellently unflappable in the face of adversity. This is a fun film for kids of any age. Beautifully filmed, you can almost believe the mouse is real.


Posted by se71 at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2002

A Rather English Marriage

Two widowers form an unlikely relationship.

Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay both lose their wives to old age on the same day in the same hospital. Finney is an ex-RAF officer, and Courtney an ex-milkman. Finney has a terrible secret that we gradually learn; he was looking after his 2 year old daughter when she ran in front of a car and was killed. Since then his wife has denied him the marital bed, and he has had a string of affairs, impressing the women with his wealth. Courtney however married his childhood sweetheart and stayed faithful till the end.

As Finney can't cook but has a big house, and as Courtenay looked after his wife during her illness and has a small house, social services decide that it would be a good idea to put these two characters together for companionship as they can both offer the other something.

It's a rocky path, not made any easier when Finney starts courting Joanna Lumley. She is obviously only after his money, not realising that he doesn't really have any, and when he has a stroke and she finds out, he is left back at his house with Courtenay, in a strange relationship that resembles a marriage in many ways.

A funny and poignant film, well acted if a little over-the-top from Finney.


Posted by se71 at 05:47 PM | Comments (0)

The Spring

Sinister goings on in small town

Kyle MacLachlan and young son take a detour to a town where all is not as it seems. It gradually emerges that there is a spring that gives eternal life, and the townsfolk keep it secret from the rest of the world to avoid them being inundated by outsiders.

But as usual in films, there must be a downside. In this case, the people of the town have decided that when someone reaches 100 years of age they must stop drinking the water, and so will die. They actually age very rapidly, and can choose to have a public drowning ceremony instead to make their death less painful.

MacLachlan falls in love with a local woman (we find out she is aged 96 but looks about 25). He asks to stay ewith his son in the town for good as his wife and mother have both died, and he doesn't want to die and leave his son alone. He is accepted, but is asked to perform the drowning ceremony on a man he has made frineds with, but just can't do it, and escapes from the town never to return.

As TV movies go, this one is fairly good, if a bit ridiculous in its public drowning premise.


Posted by se71 at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)


Comedy Horror

A young couple die in a car accident, but they come back to their house as ghosts. Some time later another couple with their teenage angst-ridden daughter move into the house, and the ghosts want to get rid of them. Beetlejuice is a bio-exorcist, he advertises his services on the afterlife TV station, and saying his name three times calls him up. So ensues madcap action as the two couples try to exorcise each other, but eventually decide to live together in peace.

This is typical Tim Burton, and has some very amusing sight gags especially when the action is in the afterlife. The special effects don't look very special anymore though, a bit like Ray Harryhausen on acid with stop motion plasticine modelling.

Overall then, it's a bit hit-or-miss, and does suffer from it's bad special effects; it looked much better when it was first released. Michael Keaton as our eponymous villain is very good, in what must be one of his first starring roles, and the film is worth a watch just to see him. The story was a little confusing, and never adequately explained who Beetlejuice actually is!

On a side note: Glenn Shadix, who plays Otho, turned up in Ally Mcbeal recently as her shrink looking much less chubby.


Posted by se71 at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2002

Private Benjamin

Soft housewife gets tough in the army

Goldie Hawn plays Judy Benjamin, a rich divorcee whose second husband dies in action on their wedding night. Cast adrift she gets suckered into joining the army and ends up at Camp Biloxi for 6 weeks basic training. This is a shock to the system, with the usual sadistic drill sergeants, and she trys to escape. But then her parents turn up, and tell her she must leave with them as she is obviously mentally ill. This annoys her so much that she decides to stay, and becomes a model soldier passing with top marks.

Curiously, this is really where the film should have ended, as it's the familiar formula of rookie failing then coming good in the end. Police Academy, A League of their Own, The Karate Kid, even films like Rocky follow this story, so why did they decide to extend the film foolishly and do it all again. Benjamin is relocated to army office work in Europe, and starts a relationship with a rich frenchman. She loses her individuality and independence to him, and he starts treating her like a slave. They plan to get married, but at the wedding she finally realises what has happened to her, and ditches him at the altar. Haven't we just watched her make this mental leap already. Instead of ending the film on a real upbeat, we leave thinking she probably hasn't learnt her lesson and will just go on making the same mistakes again and again.

The first half of the film is very funny, and Hawn has gone on to make a career out of variations on this character, but her decay in the second half is just plain tedious. Eileen Brennan is excellent as her vindictive sergeant, jealous of Hawn's money and good looks; it's a bit steroetypical by todays standards, but very funny when she gets her come-uppance.

AE 0.2

Posted by se71 at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2002

Top Gun

Empty macho posturing

Not really worth watching Tom Cruise failing to act in this excuse for 80's boy racers to ogle fast jets dog-fighting.

It didn't ring true to me that the love affair would have happened, Kelly McGinnis would not have fallen for Cruise's character so quickly that she would risk not just her job, but her whole career for him.

The sub-plot about Cruise's father was very weak, obviously an attempt to give Cruise a reason for his moody posturing.

The manufactured confrontation with Russian MIG jets was just too convenient, and of course there were no repercussions from it, and the US gave those ruskies the thrashing they deserved.

Most people will just remember the jets fighting (which are actually pretty good) and the music (which is pretty bad in retrospect)

AE 1

Posted by se71 at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

Bad Company

Tense serial killer road movie (spoilers)

A travelling salesman (Lance Henrickson) is more than he appears, and when he meets a crazed junkie (Jason Roberts) they form an unlikely and explosive partnership. One is running from the mob in Vegas having stolen a suitcase of money, and the other is a serial killer. Roberts needs a lift and Henrickson is blackmailed into providing it as they drive across the state and the bodies pile up in their wake. It all comes to a head when Henrickson stops at his country cabin; he can't take any more and ties up Roberts and gives him a heroin overdose. He then buries him, but he's not dead and so unsues a battle in the cabin and we find out the shock ending - Henrickson is actually the serial killer and his suitcase isn't fully of mob money - but with knives.

It's a surprisingly good film with excellent performances by the lead actors. The twist at the end isn't as unexpected as the director probably thought it would be because you feel all the way through that there must be a surprise ending, and that's the only reasonable one, but it doesn't spoil the film at all. Quite violent in places, but Henrickson's strap-on beer belly provides some comic relief!

AE 1

Posted by se71 at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

Hannah And Her Sisters

Infidelity in New York

Woody Allen treads the familiar relationship and hypochondriac two-step and for some reason got a lot of awards for this one. It's got Mia Farrow as Hannah and Michael Caine as her confused husband who thinks he is in love with her sister. Woody is Hannah's ex-husband and he ends up with her other sister. These sisters are much younger than the male leads which makes it faintly ridiculous, but you go along with it as that is what you are used to with Woody's films. As usual Woody thinks he is ill, but we don't get any really funny lines this time, in fact the humour is rather downplayed throughout, and is only expressed in the embarassment of the situations.


Posted by se71 at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

Meet The Parents

Slapstick comedy

Ben Stiller plays a haplesss male nurse going to meet his girlfriend's parents for the first time - and the dad is ex-CIA agent Robert De Niro. You could almost write the rest yourself, as the accidents get more extreme, and Stiller floods the garden with sewage before nearly burning the house down and singing the family cat. He gets thrown out eventually, and De Niro has an unchararacteristic change of heart to give us the happy ending we need.

It's quite a funny film, and the line "Well I have nipples, can you milk me" from De Niro makes it a worthwhile watch alone, but the comedy is far too undemanding. If Laurel and Hardy were around today they would be making better films than this; if they removed just a couple of unnecessary scenes, and perhaps not named the main character Gaylord Fucer, it could easily be placed on the kids shelf in the video store, and that's where it should have been aimed along with titles like "The Nutty Professor" and "Flubber".


Posted by se71 at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)


Corrupt Cops brought to book by Sly

Sylvester Stallone famously did this film to improve his acting credentials after a career of high grunting action flicks. Does he succeeed, well, almost. He wanders around looking moody most of the time, and is good at that, but has to make an impassioned speech at one point which really doesn't work. Play to your strengths Sly! He plays the sherrif of a small town over the river from New York where lots of cops live to get away from the crime and grime of the city. But most of these cops bought their houses with mob money they took while looking the other way. One of these cops messes up and shoots two black kids in a car on the George Washington bridge, and is abviously going to get arrested himself. Harvey Keitel is on the scene and fakes the young cop jumping from the bridge and smuggles him to Stallone's town to hide out; the corrupt cops don't want the youngster in prison where he might talk and incriminate them.

Robert De Niro works for Internal Affairs and is investigating Keitel and his cronies. He goes to Stallone to try and get him to help. Stallone is too indecisive until he discovers that the young cop is still alive and that Keitel is actually trying to kill him. In the climax Stallone can't resist taking on the cop gang almost single handed in a shoot-out where they all get killed and he gets shot in the shoulder and just shrugs it off.

There is a subplot about Stallone saving a girl from drowning and losing the hearing in one ear; this is merely a device to explain why he is just a small town sherrif and not a NY Cop and an excuse for the the presence of the only real female character, Anabella Sciorra.

It's a fairly standard film about police corruption, well worth watching, but not spectacular. Watch out for Robert Patrick's silly moustache!


Posted by se71 at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

Abigail's Party (first draught)

Classic slice of 70's life

Beverley and her husband Lawrence give a small cocktail party in a suburban house. They invite a couple who have recently moved into the street, and local divorcee Sue, Abigail's mother, to get her out of her house while her teenage daughter is giving a completely different kind of party a few doors away.

This is a play mostly about class; Lawrence is an estate agent, the new neighbours are a computer operator, Tony, and a nurse, Angela. Sue's husband was an architect; so we have lower-middle, working and upper-middle class represented. Lawrence looks down on Tony's job, Tony resents Lawrence, and Sue manages to remain aloof from the class jibes.

The play is also about failed marriages. As the alcohol levels rise, Beverley and Tony operator dance together, obviously taunting their partners, and she also makes frequent jibes at her husbands small stature and his upper class pretensions about art and music. Sue is a very disappointed middle aged woman who thinks her life is over now that her husband has left her for a younger woman.

Lawrence eventually collapses with a stress induced heart attack and dies, ending the play on a very low note.

Whilst the play is very serious on the one hand, there is a lot of comedy in the superb performances by the cast. We laugh at them though, never with them, as they show us their pettiness and prejudices, and their unintentional ignorance.

Strangely, our eponymous heroine never appears.


Posted by se71 at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

The Others

Genuinely chilling ghost story

Nicole Kidman is brilliant as the mother of two children living in a haunted house in the middle of nowhere in 1945. The children are allergic to light, and so the curtains are kept drawn, and to protect them, all the doors are kept locked. As the house is surrounded by fog, our creepy dark atmosphere is assured.

Kidman wakes from a nightmare, and hears the doorbell. Three rather creepy people are at the door applying for jobs and are taken in as gardener (Eric Sykes being fabulously understated) nanny and cleaner. Kidman's daughter can see "the others", people who come to her and talk to her, but who aren't really there. She delights in scaring her brother with this, and we are not quite sure whether she is making it all up or not.

Kidmans husband is absent, missing since the end of the war, and midway through the film she goes walking in the woods and finds him in the fog. He is lost, and is very distracted and distant. Though he comes back to the house for a while, mostly to see his children, he doesn't really talk to his wife and soon leaves again. It's obvious that he was a ghost, and he did really die in the war.

There are an increasing amount of spooky noises, and Kidman makes the servants search the house, but they don't find anything. Then one morning the curtains are all gone, and she makes the servants leave at gunpoint, suspecting them of trying to harm her children.

That night the children go walking in the garden, and find some graves. In a frantic last 5 minutes we learn everything. The servants died at the house more than 50 years ago, Kidman actually killed her children and herself when she heard the news that her husband wouldn't be returning from the war and they don't realise they are dead. "The Others" are the current owners of the house holding seances that contact the dead. The living and the dead are breaking through to each others worlds, and the living owners are so spooked that they leave. Kidman realises what happened, the servants return, and 'life' goes on for them.

This is a scary film, and achieves it's effect with no real violence and absolutely no grissly effects. This is a tribute to the filmmaker's skills, because as the tension rises throughout the film, right up to the tragic denoument, we never get bored by all the ghostly goings on, and actually aren't really sure whether the ghosts are real until about 5 minutes from the end.

Well worth a second watch too, to see the clues that lead to the surprising climax, which is not totally unlike "The Sixth Sense".


Posted by se71 at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

The Forever War - Joe Haldeman

Future War Love Story

Private Mandala is enlisted in the war against an alien race who are threatening all of humanity. For training he is sent to a freezing world where he learns to wear a fighting suit, a kind of space suit that he can live in for weeks and fight in any terrain. Training is tough, and many are wounded or killed, and then they are sent into battle. Sex in the army is obligatory and performed on a rota basis, but gradually Mandala becomes attached to Marygay Potter. After the campaign, they return to Earth together, and due to time dilation it's 20 years in their future. They try to adjust to a world where homosexuality is the norm, violence is everywhere, and jobs are non-existent. But Marygay's parents are killed in a gunfight, and Mandala's mother dies because her usefulness quotient is too low to entitle her to medicines, and so they reenlist.

They are sent on separate missions, Mandala making a jump to a planet as far away as humans have ever ventured. He knows that if he returns it will be centuries in the future, and his likelihood of seeing Marygay again is minimal. Against all odds he survives and returns to find that the war is over, and that it had been a huge misunderstanding anyway. Humanity now consists of clones of a perfect human specimen, except for a couple of planets where breeders live. He finds a note from Marygay, who is waiting for him one one of the planets, and is making time dilation jumps every month to 10 years in the future, and so they do manage to meet.

This is a novel about Vietnam. The futility of war, and the alienation of returning home after war, written by a Vietnam veteran in 1974, could be very dry and bitter in other hands. Haldeman manages to make it into an exciting space opera, but one based on the harsh realities. People die; people are mutilated; people lose their loved ones; and all of this is finally revealed to have been for nothing. The technology is fascinating and believable, and the battles with the aliens make your heart pump. The enduring memory though may be the lovers reunion. All through the second half of the book there is a tension; will they ever manage to meet again, and if so, how vould they manage it. There is a relief when they do finally meet, that would have been turned into a huge disappointment is Haldeman had been cruel, and would have spoiled the book.

Even for people who have never heard of Vietnam, or think that science fiction may have moved on in the 40 years since it was written, this is a book that gives a clear anti-war message that hasn't dated, and is a bloody good read too.


Posted by se71 at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

The Fourth Hand - John Irving

Womanising reporter finds lasting relationship

'Disaster Man' Wallingford has his left hand eaten by a lion whilst doing a news report at a circus in India. This is the story of how he finds a transplant hand, and falls in love with the deceased donor's wife. She has seen the incident on the TV news, and feels drawn to him to such an extent that she even had her husband give his permission before he had his own fatal accident. She is obsessed with the hand, and forces Wallingford to have a baby with her before he can have the tranplant. As the baby boy grows up, so does Wallingford, and he decides he wants to move from New York where he is a news anchor, up to Wisconson to be with the boy and his mother. Eventually she agrees.

There are quite a few side stories; one is of the surgeon who performs the operations and his relationship with his own son, another is about a woman who works with Wallingford and desperately wants to have a baby with him too. The author even toys with drug induced dreams of future events that nearly come true, but stop just short.

Irving likes to have bizarre situations in his novels, and many of these involve sex. He writes with a lot of humour though so that the books come across as funny rather than seedy. It's difficult to explain why the book is so good, maybe it's just the way the prose flows, and the storytelling skill. It is a very engaging read though, building on the themes he's introduced in earlier books about divorce, bereavement, and amputation!

It's a story of life and love at the tail end of the 20th century, told with humour and warmth, highly recommended.

AE 3

Posted by se71 at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

Small Soldiers

Updated Gremlins. Toy soldiers terrorise a family

A toy company need a new success, and the boys in the lab come up with soldiers that can actually fight each other. As usual in this kind of situation, someone screws up and uses advanced military computer chips in the toys. And they make a range of soldiers, and a race of aliens called Gorgonites that are the soldiers sworn enemies. Can you work out the plot yet?

A teenage boy works in his father's toy shop, and gets an advance order of these toys. He makes friends with the Gorgonites who are a peaceful race, and then the soldiers escape and try to kill them. The toy soldiers capture and torture any real people who get in the way, but at the end of the day, they are all destroyed. The Gorgonites head for the hills to look for a peaceful life away from everyone.

This is a film with mixed animation and real life, and works really well. Although billed as a kids film, it's pretty scary for the very young, and will appeal mostly to boys aged 8-12. There isn't much for adults, but if you do have children it's an enjoyable enough hour and a half you can spend with them.


Posted by se71 at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

Monsters INC

Toy Story 3 ?

It's a fantastically well made film, not a dull moment, far more to see and hear than it's possible to manage in one viewing. Children and parents will love it, and I suspect that a lot of adults without children will find an excuse to see it too.

Sully is a big blue monster. He lives and works in a parallel world that is hidden behind the closet doors in children's bedrooms. His job on the production line is to leap through a procession of doors and scare the bejesus out of the kids so that their screams can be harvested as energy to power the monster's world. He's a nice guy, John Goodman does the voice. He has a wise-cracking one-eyed monster sidekick voiced by Billy Crystal.

But things are not well in Monstertopia; scream quotas are down, power cuts are imminent, and Sully's rival on the scream/week competition is cheating. After hours, Sully finds a door out of place, and looks inside. A tiny girl escapes into the Monster's world, and all hell breaks loose. Sully and sidekick try and keep her hidden, as they think children are toxic and they will lose their jobs if she is discovered. But the factory boss and the rival have other plans, they want to take her and attach her to a new machine that will torture screams out of her for the powerplant.

So, we have a big chase. This is where a scene with thousands of doors that is very reminiscent of the airport baggage conveyorbelts from Toy Story happens. But Sully rescues the child, the baddies get arrested, and it is discovered that children's laughs are 10 times more powerful energy than their screams, so the monsters retrain to amuse kids, and everyone lives happily ever after.

There is so much more to describe about this film, with many amusing side characters and sub-plots. You will definitely want to see it twice, and no one can fail to be amused and charmed by this masterpiece.

AE 0

Posted by se71 at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

The Fifth Element

Comedy SF Chase Thriller!

The Fifth Element is a perfect being, who along with 4 ancient stones, will save all life in the universe from an ancient evil every 5000 years.

This film is set on one of those anniversaries, and Milla Jovovich is the perfect (bodied) one, who gets regenerated by scientists and falls into Bruce Willis' flying taxi-cab.

There are evil shape changing aliens (who incidentally provide most of the comic scenes), a despotic mad business empire overlord (Gary Oldman), a camp radio presenter (Chris Tucker), junior and senior priests (more comedy), a blue opera singing alien, all wearing costumes designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. It's madcap action throughout, and Willis plays his wise-cracking Die Hard hero to hold it all together.

If you like the bizarre, and are an SF fan, you'll love this. The performances are excellent, the special effects too, and it all works out in the end.

Oh, and that blue opera singer is very good indeed, and provides the soundtrack for one of the best fight scenes ever, with Jovovich high kicking aliens to kingdom come.

AE 0.1

Posted by se71 at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

What Women Want

Amusing romantic comedy

In a freak electrical accident, Mel Gibson is unharmed, but gains the power to hear everything women are thinking. He uses this power to make friends with his estranged daughter, save an employee from committing suicide, picking up a girl in the coffee-shop, and kicking his new female boss out of her job and getting it for himself. Obviously he loses his powers at the end.

Well, it's not quite as simple as that, and Gibson is much more of a sympathetic character than that plot might indicate. He actually falls in love with his boss, Helen Hunt, and gets her her job back before they live happily ever after. Gibson is also very agreeable, which is a good thing as he is in almost every scene.

Gibson hated Hunt when he thought he was a hard business woman, but when he heard her thoughts and saw how she was insecure and actually doubted her talent, he fell for her. As this film was made by a women, I thought that that message was a bit odd.

Definitely worth a rewatch, as it's actually pretty funny.

AE 1

Posted by se71 at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

2001:A Space Odyssey

Beautifully crafted SF classic

It really is a beautiful film, full of images that still look good decades later, though fashions are obviously a bit sixtyish in the way that the original Star Trek's were.

Apes are a bit stupid on pre-historic Earth, until a black obelisk appears, and this sparks the tribe from fairly peaceful hunter gatherers to tool wielding flesh eating aggressors. Cue bone throwing spaceship segue.

In the future then, another obelisk is found hiding under the surface of the Moon. It sends a signal to Jupiter, and a spaceship is sent there to investigate. The HAL9000 computer looks after the ship and people on board, though a meteor strike knocks it off kilter and it goes mad and starts killing everyone. The last survivor (named David Bowman) eventually manages to shut it down.

Another obelisk is found orbiting Jupiter, and Bowman takes a look. Psychedelic visuals, then a dodgy ending where he is transformed into an old man, then finally a baby back orbiting Earth, must have left audiences baffled, and it only makes any sense when you see 2010, the sequel.

Having read "The Sentinel", a short story by Arthur C Clarke on which the film was based, I'll explain what was going on. An ancient extra-terrestrial civilization gave intelligence a kick start, and hid the obelisk on the moon so that when life on Earth was advanced enough they would find it, and it would then send a signal that the next stage could be started. Mr Clarke insists that the book and film are only slightly related, but I think he was only saying this to boost Kubrick's ego, there is more in a 2 hour film than a 15 page short story, but not that much.

Strauss Waltzes and spoked orbital spacestations are an enduring memory, much better than that other avant-guard music trying to sound spooky.

AE 0

Posted by se71 at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

The Deer Hunter

Scary and poignant

De Niro and friends are hunting buddies, who go for weekends in the woods shooting deer. He, and two others, get drafted to go and fight in Vietnam.

Captured and tortured, and forced to play Russian roulette with each other, they eventually kill their guards and escape. One loses his legs in a fall and is sent home, De Niro also goes home, but doesn't fit in with his friends much any more, and discovers that he can't shoot defenceless deer.

He discovers that his other buddy Christopher Walken has stayed in Vietnam and is sending money home. He realises that this money must come from the illegal Russian roulette contests that he witnessed back in Vietnam, and goes back there to try and rescue Walken.

He finds Walken, whose mind is so lost through the experiences he had under torture, and through drugs, that he doesn't even recognise him. In an attempt to force Walken to remember him, de Niro enters into the Russian roulette contest with him; bad move; Walken kills himself with the gun.

There is a love sub-plot with Meryl Streep, but I didn't find it very interesting.

Nice guitar music. Very famous obviously.

AE 0.5

Posted by se71 at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

What Dreams May Come

A bit mushy, but good effects make it enjoyable

Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra are soulmates who meet, marry, have kids, and then their kids die in a car crash. Sciorra gets suicidal, though Williams eventually, through his love, gets her back on the straight and narrow.

Then Williams dies, bummer. This allows some excellent visions of heaven, especially when he moves through the landscape as an oil painting, and probably made this an excellent feast for the eyes on the big screen, and not bad on my TV too.

He meets his children (both disguised as other people), and when his wife commits suicide, he decides to go searching hell to get her back (all suicides go to hell). He does, they live(die?) happily ever after.

Told in flashback, this film moves along fairly quickly for it's 2 hour length. It is a bit mushy, as American films like this tend to be, but is fairly enjoyable.

AE 0.1

Posted by se71 at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone

Good fun adaptation of the book

This film was exactly what I expected, no more, no less. Very enjoyable, but you'd probably be best to take a child along with you to the cinema as they will enjoy it much much more. The child actors were all very impressive, except maybe Malfoy who overdid it a bit in my opinion. Harry was spot on, looking and sounding like a young Harry Enfield I thought, and


Posted by se71 at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

The Fellowship Of The Ring


At last, and adaptation of a book that is true to the original, but not so exact that you get bored. Everyone knows that The Lord Of The Rings is a great story, but many people will never read it as it's very long. This is an ideal substitute for the book as you can get moving images of beautiful scenery instead of pages of prose, a snappy history of the Ring to start the film off, and a complete lack of Tom Bombadil and his songs.

Excellent make-up and costumes make all the characters come to life in the just the way I envisioned them special effects are flawless, and only used where they are needed, and with orcs, sea monsters, wizards and the rest, they certainly are required. It has been said that it is only now that the technology is of a high enough standard to even think about filming LOTR, I think Ray Harryhausen could have had a go at it, but his balrog would have been a poor substitute for the CGI one we have here. A must see film, even for non-fans, though a bit scary in places for young children.


Posted by se71 at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

Meet Joe Black

Good story, but drags a bit.

There is a good story here, but as with a lot of recent films, many scenes would have been better left on the cutting room floor. Hopkins is excellent as usual as the big-business man approaching his 65th birthday. Pitt plays an unusual Death, who forces Hopkins to show him around, and falls in love with his daughter. Pitt seems to know so much, but doesn't know many of the simplest thinks about life, and this jarred for me - how come he understands the IRS and tax law, but hasn't heard of peanut butter!

Obviously, the romance between Pitt and Hopkin's daughter is doomed, and is played out in a very predictable way. Not really worth a rewatch, except maybe for the bit near the start where Pitt is hit by two cars.


Posted by se71 at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

Shakespeare In Love

Amusing and entertaining.

Another Oscar winner, but this time deservedly so. The main characters are engaging and the pace never flags, except perhaps for a few of the Romeo and Juliet recitations, though to complain about that would be churlish. Fiennes plays a Shakespeare reminiscent of Mozart's character in Amadeus; a womaniser, more interested in his art than in paying the bills, and anti-authority, and I don't think this is a coincidence, it makes for an impetuousness that keeps us guessing what he'll do next.

Paltrow, in the best Shakespearean tradition, pretends to be a man, and fools everyone. This is a film about female repression too, which is underlined by Dench as Queen Elizabeth in one of her scene stealing performances.


Posted by se71 at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)


A trailblazer, but not as scary any more

Everyone knows the story, but anyway here goes. The crew of the mining ship Nostromo are awakened from cryogenic sleep to go and investigate a signal from a deserted planet. Whilst exploring, a creature (face hugger) attaches itself to John Hurt's face. Back on the ship it is eventually removed, but in probably the most famous SF/horror scene ever, a few hours later an alien (chest ripper) rips out through his chest and escapes into the ship.

Cue chasing around to get it, while it gets bigger and scarier and kills everyone except Sigourney Weaver ( Ripley ).

As the last survivor, she decides that the only option is to destroy the ship and use the escape capsule to get away herself. This just about works and she goes into cryogenic sleep waiting for her company to pick her up.

It's justly a classic, and spawned a whole industry not just with the Alien franchise of films, games and comics, but also with the whole outer-space horror film as successful money-spinner thing.

Even on DVD widescreen, with surround sound and the lights turned down, this fails to scare me now. Maybe I'm too familiar with it to let myself be scared, maybe the suspense doesn't work as I know exactly what is about to happen. I enjoyed HR Giger's designs a lot, and the performances are good, but I think that too little actually happens to keep me interested anymore, which is a shame, but there is always Aliens!

AE0, even counting the scene with Weaver in her pants.

Posted by se71 at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

The English Patient

Too long by far.

Lots of slow and stilted upper class speech between the main stars, make this film really drag. There really is no sense of drama either, as the identity of the patient (Ralph Feinnes) is known, and the fate of his lover (Kirsten Scott Thomas) can easily be guessed. And what were the end of the war scenes with Juliet Binoche there for anyway, this could have been cut almost entirely. There was an interesting story here, about Feinne's betrayal of England and the capture/torture and revenge/retribution of Dafoe's character

Perhaps the novel is more interesting, the scenery and filming of the desert certainly are, but there really isn't enough here to deserve all the Oscars the film received.


Posted by se71 at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2002

Snow Falling On Cedars

Courtroom Drama in US postwar American/Japanese community

Ethan Hawke plays a newspaperman in small town America just after WW2. The town has a large Japanese community, and we discover that before the war he had had a japanese girl as his first love. The war broke them up, and afterwards she married a Japanese man. Hawke is still obsessively in love with her, and when her husband is accused of murder his detective work uncovers information that could save him. At the eleventh hour, Hawke does finally divulge the information, earning the girls gratitude, and perhaps releasing his demons.

So this is a story about lost love, but there are two other main plot themes. It's also a story about prejudice, and a murder mystery. When Japan entered the Second World War by bombing Pearl Harbour, all Japanese people living in the US came under suspicion. Many thousands were relocated to concentration camps, but some Japanese men entisted in the army and fought on the side of the Allies. Even before the war Japanese people were not allowed to own land, and this is what initiates the murder case. The japanese man tries to buy some land that had been promised to his father but taken back and sold to someone else for a higher price when he was sent to a camp during the war. He feels betrayed, and when one night the land owner is drowned in his own fishing net with his head bashed in, the japanese is suspected of the murder. As he had been at the scene and left incriminating evidence there, things don't look too good for him. The community are still suspicious of Japanese people, and so in their prejudice want him to be guilty. Hawkes information reveals that it was just a tragic accident all along

It's a very slow, atmospheric film, told mostly in flashback. Like the book on which it is closely based, this is a lot more about feelings than story, but this isn't a bad thing. That's not to say the story isn't good, it unravels organically up to the satisfying climax. The scenery is fantastic, and the music, though slightly overpowering in places, blends in well.


Posted by se71 at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)