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About a Boy
(PG-13, 2002) ... Average:
(Hugh Grant, Rachel Weisz, Toni Collette, Nicholas Hoult, Isabel Brook)
The rare example of the movie-based-on-a-book that works better than
the book itself. The ending of the book is MUCH different, & somewhat
protracted & anticlimactic. If you read & liked Nick Hornby's novel,
you'll probably enjoy the film as well. Hugh Grant nails the shallow
cad as well as -- if not better than -- the stuttering fop of "Four
Weddings & a Funeral," etc. His character here is similar to the one he
plays in the Bridget Jones movies. The kid who plays Marcus is really
Highly enjoyable. Great soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy. (I have similar
also based on a Nick Hornby novel.)
Nice Hugh Grant vehicle. And he sounds so cool when he says "fuck"
(R, 1999) ... Average: 1.0
(Nick Nolte, James Coburn, Sissy Spacek, Willem
Clearly one of those movies where the critics and "Movie
experts" were looking from a completely different direction.
list of awards this movie received is as long as this review! From
the perspective of pure entertainment - the view of the average movie-goer
- this was one of the worst movies I've seen since
"Election". Obviously well acted, and the premise of the
movie - the struggle to escape a past filled with child abuse - is a good
subject for a movie, but the plot is weak, the story moves unbearably
slow, and the tone of movie never shifts gears from anything but mildly
morbid. A good indication of how well it keeps your attention: Bev
fell asleep about 45 minutes in.
Furthermore, none of the characters
are at all likeable. Nolte's character, the main focus of the movie,
is a person who tries to do the right thing occasionally but fails
miserably across the board. None of the secondary characters really
added anything: Nolte's girlfriend (Spacek) has very few lines, pretty
much just takes up space and then leaves him. Nolte's brother (DaFoe)
appears only for only a few brief scenes and narrates other parts of the
movie - the narration was unnecessary and the final monologue was cheesy.
Many of the tertiary characters are just plain boring - all of them just mildly
angry for no apparent reason. Coburn gives a good performance as the
evil father, but pretty much just spends two hours being an drunken ass
What was the point of this movie? At first I thought it
was going to be a murder-mystery - nope. Then I thought we'd get a
lesson on child abuse? Nope - unless you count "Look what
happens to people who are abused - they either become jerks like their
abusive father, mousy introverts, or born-again Christians." Please don't see this
Life (Not Rated, 1999) ... Average: 4.0
(Arata, Erika Oda, Susumu Terasima, Sadao Abe, Kazuko
HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
Japanese director Hirukazu Koreeda's vision of the afterlife is one
that is rather different from most others' notions of it. As a result,
many in the audience thought that his film was perplexing; I, on the other
hand, found it downright refreshing. In Koreeda's version, which is a sort
of purgatory, the recently-deceased have one week to decide on the best
and most beautiful memory of their lives. Then, a crew of scriptwriters
and filmmakers (one hesitates to call them angels) re-create the memories
with B-movie techniques and special effects that magically work, lifting
the dead souls to their final, blissful nirvanas.
Although it looks amateurish and almost slackerish at first, Koreeda's
direction actually compliments this strange premise well. The hostel-type
institution where the crew and the intendant souls stay has the look of an
old school or office building, aged but with some character, and it
suggests the insulation of this world-between-worlds quite well.
There is almost nothing that tells us explicitly that this is "the
afterlife," as there would be in any Western movie on the same
subject (except for a bright and rather abstract entryway into the
institution, seen only at the beginning of the movie). This is clever,
because it allows the cinematography to tell us about it implicitly. When
plot elements begin to occur, they seem almost intrusive to this
sereneness--it doesn't help that they're not very believable. Overall,
however, the idea for this movie is much more interesting than the plot,
and that alone makes it worth seeing.
Famous (R, 2000) ... Average: 4.0
(Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee, Frances McDormand,
Phillip Seymour Hoffman)
Set in the early 1970s, Patrick Fugit plays uncool William Miller who
is left his sister's rock-and-roll record collection when she moves out of
the house at the age of 18 to get away from their overprotective paranoid
mother (played by Frances McDormand.) William, who at 15 is 2
younger than all of his senior classmates because he skipped 2 grades in
elementary school, begins sending in essays to "Cream" magazine
about his new found love of and knowledge of the music. His
brilliantly written work eventually winds up in the hands of "Rolling
Stone" magazine who hires him - unaware of his age - to write a
interview-story on an up-and-coming rock band called
"Stillwater" which has a new hit single and is in the middle of
That story could stand on its own, but it's the mesh of personalities in
this fabulous film that makes the movie. On the surface, the basic
premise of the movie is William's crash course in learning about life,
growing up and learning who he is. But on a deeper and even more
interesting level, the other characters, by
thrown together, are forced to learn the same things about themselves -
from charismatic bandleader Russell Hammond (played by Billy Crudup) who
is just another drug-using rock-star curmudgeon on the surface but very
human underneath, to groupie "Penny Lane" (played by Academy
Award nominee Kate Hudson) who is left to sort out her true feelings and
perspective on reality.
The movie has a harsh-reality feel to it, but at the same time warms the
audience with a dose of innocent charm and unexpected wit.
Frances McDormand is brilliant. She's excellent in this role, and if
you haven't seen her in Fargo, please go rent both movies and watch them
back-to-back. Fargo, predates my movie reviews, but would most
certainly be one of the few movies I'd rate 5-stars.
Came a Spider (R,
2001) ... Average: 2.5
(Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott, Penelope Ann Miller,
Middle of the road flick. Interesting plot twists, but
predictable. Good cast, mediocare screen plan and script.
Amélie (R, 2001) ... Average: 4.5
(Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta, Claire Maurier)
The charming Amélie, already a hit in its native France, is bound to
capture American hearts and imaginations with its whimsical fable of random
acts of kindness. Its color-drenched view of Paris and stylistic camera work
is a visual treat. But the most engaging aspect is the performance of
23-year-old Audrey Tautou as a kindhearted, shy waitress whose interior life
is much more compelling than her day-to-day existence.
--Taken from the movie review in USA Today.
"Amélie" opens with one of the most delightful sequences of the year, a
lengthy montage full of sometimes sad, sometimes joyous images. As it
unfolds, an omniscient narrator describes the obscure likes and dislikes of
the people inhabiting Amélie's world. Her mother, for instance, is keen on
how fingers look when they wrinkle in the bathtub, and her dad can't get
enough of vacuuming and re-organizing his tool box. When she's older, Amélie
will work at a café where a regular customer's favorite pastime is secretly
popping bubble wrap.
-- Chicago Times review
My new favorite movie. The best part is the garden gnome, too funny. It's
subtitled but well worth reading.
-- taken from my brain.
See it and enjoy.
-- also from my brain
(R, 1999) ... Average: 3.21
(Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning, Thora Birch, Scott Bakula, Mena Suvari)
This was a great movie from start to finish. It truly is the modern day version of "The Graduate"
starring Dustin Huffman (which was also a great movie). This movie has it all sex, drugs,
and rock & roll (good soundtrack). It reveals how "F@#& up" the lives of your neighbors
they are behind the closed door of their homes.
"Kevin Spacey 'RULED' in this movie"...raves DeHaven of the Detroit Free Press
"Extremely funny, all time great movie"...barks DeHaven's dog Galvin
American Beauty is one of the greatest films ever made. Its
photography, cinematography, directing, writing, and acting are all
fantastic. Those who give it a bad review do not understand the
film's incredible depth and have no grasp of what a good film is.
They could have subtitled this movie "A World of
Dysfunction". (The movie's title, if you hadn't already guessed, is
meant to be ironic.)
I really hope this isn't a slice of what is really going on in the homes
of our neighbors (or "beleaguered middle class America" as Kerry
noted.) If it is I am quite frightened. Let's see: the Dad (Spacey) is in
a mid-life crisis and lusts after the daughter's girlfriend, the Mom
(Benning) is the most
artificial person in the history of man and is
cheating on her husband, the daughter is an awkward rebelling teen-ager
who despises her parents, the neighbors on one side are gay, the neighbors
on the other side: Dad is a militant ex-Marine who beats his kid, the Mom
just stares into space, the son is an outcast and drug dealer. Totally
realistic, maybe, maybe not; but it's the exaggeration of their dysfunctionality that makes every character entertaining and very
interesting (even if it's only in a "morbid curiosity" kind of
way at times.)
Yes, perhaps there are some places they could have sped things along, but it
kept my attention with its quirky drama, uniqueness and dark humor.
The story is like no other and the cast is excellent. Normally I'm
not a fan of films where every character is essentially a low-life, but in
a sick way you want to fight for most of them. This was an
above-average and memorable film, but all-in-all I'm not sure why this it
got quite as much press as it did. As my friend Drew said, if Kevin
Spacey wasn't in the movie, you probably would have never heard about it.
quite difficult for me to provide an objective review, seeing as how I saw
the movie with catgirl and Bill Bartle. They, by the way, were yawning and
sighing and looking at their watches CONSTANTLY, thereby taking all the
fun out of my theatre experience. But, what I can say, is that the movie
stays with you for a long while after seeing it. Great characters. My
friend, Suzanne loved the movie and said it was different from anything
else she had seen in a long time. I felt sad for the beleaguered middle
had a very witty response that used to be here, but I accidentally deleted
it. I am virtually certain that Mr. DeHaven of the Detroit Free
Press had something to do with it.)
HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
And you thought Ishtar was bad!! I've sat through root
canal that passed quicker than this movie. As it stands this is two
hours of my life that I can never get back.
History X (R, 1998) ... Average: 4.17
(Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Avery Brooks, Beverly D'Angelo, Elliot
I came away from this film feeling the same way about Ed Norton as I
did about Kevin Spacey when I first saw Usual Suspects. Very intense.
Ed Norton gives a tremendous performance as a Skin Head who realizes
the error of his hate-filled ways while in prison, and returns home after
getting out to see his little brother going down all the wrong paths that
he had traveled.
This movie is both tremendous and tremendously disturbing at the same
time. It's a bit violent and the hatred oozes out of the screen at times
during the movie to the point where it's frightening. (I actually
screamed out loud in mock pain during the scene in the street, and winced
during the shower scene in the prison.) I would imagine that's why
this movie kind of came and went without much fanfare. Hard for me to
imagine my G-rated in-laws enjoying this movie, for example, even though
it's a movie that has a lot of important things to say, and says them very
But, let me tell you, this movie is DEFINITELY worth seeing. Every
character is fantastic (particularly Norton who received a well deserved
Oscar nomination for his intense performance.) The sequence in which they
show you the events of the story is brilliant. The plot is incredibly
moving and thought-provoking. And the ending is surprising and
shocking. VERY VERY much recommended.
Pie (R, 1999) ... Average: 2.5
(Jason Biggs, Jennifer Coolidge, Shannon
Don't listen to Steve Stremba...this movie is funny.
HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
American Pie is a movie that, for me, did not quite live up to its reputation. There are, as you
have undoubtedly heard, moments of real vulgarity--a few of them hilarious, most
of them just childish and boring. On the other hand, the characters and
relationships are just real and involving enough to make a movie that's at
least as much John Hughes as it is John Belushi.
The plot is tried-and-paved territory. A foursome of male high school
seniors make a pact to lose their virginity by graduation, or die (of
embarrassment) trying. One, a jock (Chris Klein), joins choir to impress a cute singer
(the singularly charming Mena Suvari); another (Thomas
Ian Nicholas) works on
getting around the bases with a smart-but-willing longtime girlfriend (Tara Reid). The nerdiest of the four
(Jason Biggs) goes after both a leggy foreign exchange student (Shannon Elizabeth) and a loquacious band member
(Alyson Hannigan), while the quietest (the wonderfully deadpan Eddie Kaye Thomas) stays quiet while allowing rumors to spread about his "prowess." All this is entertaining because the
situations are reasonably well-honed, and the characterizations, while not
exactly what you could call deep, are at least somewhat real (far more real, for
example, than anything in Can't Hardly
Wait, or in most of the 80's raunch-fests like Fast Times at Ridgemont High
that supposedly inspired this movie).
The pleasure one gets from these characters is enough that one wonders why most of the raunchy scenes were even
necessary. Another rather unnecessary component is Natasha Lyonne, playing a
wisecracking young woman who advises the other characters, especially those of
Reid and Nicholas. It's never explained why she is so much more knowledgeable
than anyone else-- she just seems bothersome to me. All that said, I was still able to put aside such annoyances,
and ended up enjoying the film more than I expected, even if it was still a long
jump short of becoming a favorite.
Everyone said "You have to rent this movie", well everyone
is an idiot because this movie blows (no pun intended). The only reason it
got a 1/2 star was because of the one and only line at the end of the
movie that made me laugh.
Wedding (R, 1999) ... Average:
(Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eugene Levy, January Jones, Seann William
Scott, Nikki Ziering)
There are a few genuinely funny scenes in the movie. The rest is
complete trash. If you feel like laughing every twenty minutes rent
it. If you'd prefer more laughs per minute stay away.
Ashes (R, 1999) ... Average: 3.0
Robert Carlyle, Michael Legge)
Was this movie well done? Yes. Was this movie well acted? Yes. Was it
eye-opening? Yes. If I was a professional film critic, this movie probably
gets 4-1/2, maybe 5 stars. But from the pure standpoint of
entertainment, it just didn't do it for me. If you break down 99.9%
of all movies to their basics, the plot is naturally, "What is going
to happen to the main characters?" For "Angela's
Ashes", that simple statement WAS the entire plot. And even so,
you never really find out what happened to the father, what happens to the
mother or any of the surviving brothers - likely because nothing really happens
to them - they just went on living their poverty stricken lives. I
felt more like I was watching a documentary about life growing up in lower
class Ireland in the first half of the 20th century, than I did watching a
As anyone who as read the book knows, this is not just BASED
on a true story, it IS a true story. In fact, the REAL Frank McCourt
- the character which is the focal point of the movie - narrates
parts of the movie. The sheer reality of the movie, however, made it
morbidly depressing and dreary - which, I admit, was the point. It
was kind of like a cross between watching "Party of Five" and
MTV's "Real World" set in Limerick in 1935, if that makes any
I highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes to watch
2-1/2 hours of people simply going about their depressing awful
lives. As an aside - I'm not sure the significance of this - the
theater was nearly sold-out, but I would say 90% of the attendees were 50+
years old. Also, perhaps I totally missed it, but I can't figure out
what the title of the movie has to do with anything - Angela was the
mother in the story, but I remember no ashes!
Given Sunday (1999)
... Average: 0.5
(Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool
J, James Woods,
Elizabeth Berkley, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, Charlton Heston)
The only reason I did not give this film a "0" is because it
has Elizabeth Berkley in it and she's necked. I watched many an
episode of "Saved by the Bell" wondering what she would look
like as a call girl bent over, well not necessarily Al Pacino, but you
probably get the point...This movie is about football and uses Jamie Foxx
as its vehicle. Sorry, not buying it and neither should you.
Flip on the XFL and you'll get the same effect at no cost to you or your
(R, 1999) ... Average: 3.25
Bridges, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Hope Davis)
If I could sum this movie up in a word: Creepy. It is also quite
gripping, one of those movies where you have no idea how long it was
because it keeps your attention from start to finish. You'll find
yourself clenching your teeth through most of the movie - you'll feel the almost helplessness of the lead character
(Bridges). I'm finding it hard to give a summary of what the movie
is about without giving away the entire plot - essentially it's a movie
about American Terrorism, and you'll be pleasantly surprised how that fits
into the movie about 1/3 of the way in, as you - and Jeff Bridges'
character - start picking up terrifying clues. The ending is
shocking - again, that's all I can tell you without giving it away.
Unless I missed something, the title, "Arlington Road", really
has nothing to do with the movie - it's just the street that all the
characters live on. This is a quality movie, with great casting, and
I would definitely recommend it to anyone. It definitely deserved
much more attention than it got in the box office.
2001) ... Average: 2.2
(Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Sam
Robards, William Hurt, Jake Thomas, Ashley Scott)
The movie looked very pretty at times, and was entertaining enough not
to be boring. But what I really want from science fiction, this
movie delivered: it was thought-provoking.
Sure, there were some conceptual flaws. Robots did not seem to need
a power source, ever, and while they worked just fine underwater, a little
spinach in their mouth could seriously hurt them. And global warming
supposedly raised sea levels far beyond anything plausible.
The one thing the movie does very well was what it was apparently trying
to do, it makes us care deeply and emotionally about a single robot.
I suppose its similar to the way Spielberg's E.T. made many people care
about aliens for the first time.
For me, this is also what was most thought-provoking, and saddening.
You see, the movie portrays people as very morally shallow. A
stadium of people gleefully massacre robots, robots who could not do what
they did without having complex internal lives, great knowledge, a will to
live, and at least some rudimentary understanding of and use of emotions.
And yet that same audience is horrified at the prospect of killing
something that looks like a boy crying. This boy robot will
murder another similar robot, and almost kills a human boy, but all that
really matters, to the people on screen and I suspect most of the audience
in the theatre, is that this one robot knows how to pout and cry like a
little human boy. The moral seems to be that the essence of moral
worth is the feeling of strong emotions.
During most of the movie it looks like it is going to be a tragedy of
human hubris gone terribly wrong. But at the end we find a more
positive scenario. But then they invoke some silly mysticism to shy
away from the natural really positive scenario. It should have been
easy to create a robot mother who loves him as much as he loves her, and
let them both live forever. Instead, they create a mother that can only
last a day, at which point they both die. What a crying shame.
I've given this movie some thought since I saw
it. It's a bit disturbing, a bit too vague and a bit
entertaining. I've never claimed to comprehend movies that aren't in
your face action or obvious in their intention. This movie has a
message, but it was lost on me. One review I read likened the movie
to Pinocchio and the Wizard of Oz...sort of a robotic boy, David, trying
to become human. While on this quest he meets his Oz-like guide who
helps him in finding the grail.
The movie can be broken into distinct parts. First, the boy meets
the family, bonds with the mother and after a series of events is abandoned,
in New Jersey. Never a good situation even today. At this
point the second part arrives, he meets Joe, a robot gigolo, who becomes
his guide. Together, they try to find a way to make David
human. More interesting situations occur and eventually they find
their way to Rouge City, formally known as Philadelphia. As an
aside, I hope I live long enough to see this transformation, very
nice. Again, the plot, God sends us to the next and final
part. This is where it gets weird. I won't go into what
happens I'll just say this is where the movie gets disturbing and tedious.
If you have to see A.I., go for it. However, nothing will be lost if
you wait until it comes on video....except time.
The worst movie of the decade! If you get off on
torturing androids by pouring acid on them or enjoy child abandonment and
boring nothing in between, then this movie is for you. The people
that like this movie think everyone else doesn't get it and they are
intellectually superior....forget it! AI fans are losers with no
life. This move tries to find a plot and then once it does it goes
down another meaningless path. It's obvious this movie was pieced
together by two directors going in opposite directions. Don't waste
your time or money on this blockBUSTER piece of crap!
in New York (PG-13, 2000) ... Average: 0.5
(Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, Anthony LaPaglia, Elaine Stritch, Sherry
At the risk of being tagged on this website as "she hates
everything," I have to say this movie BROUGHT ME TO TEARS!!!! That's
right. (Stop here if you haven't seen the movie) I mean, those were tears
of BOREDOM, not because Winona kicks the bucket at the end. And I like
But, Richard Gere is easy on the eyes -- wouldn't kick
him out of bed for eating crackers.