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Bad Company (PG-13, 2002) ... Average: 2.0
(Chris Rock, Anthony Hopkins, Gabriel Macht, John Slattery, Peter Stormare)

Movie ImageSue Hohenadel
I'll be the first to admit that I agreed to see this movie because I am in awe of Sir Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock makes me laugh.  By the end of the movie, I was not disappointed.

Bad Company is the story of a CIA director (Hopkins) who is involved in an underground sting operation to purchase some kind of nuclear devise from the Czech mafia.  Rock is an agent who has infiltrated the Czech organization as a potential buyer.  Unfortunately, he gets killed before the deal goes through.

Enter Chris Rock (again) as the twin brother of the slain CIA agent.  Rock has no idea that he had a brother and even less of an idea how to be a well educated, cultured CIA agent.  How he transitions from street hustler to man-about-town operative is good for a couple of belly laughs.

Bad Company is a little far-fetched -- most of Jerry Bruckheimer's films are.  But there's enough laughs, suspense and action to hold your attention for a couple of hours.  It's a better than most popcorn flick that isn't overly taxing, overly gruesome, or over directed.

And if nothing else, you'll find yourself staring at Anthony Hopkins just waiting for him to sneer, "Hello, Clarice..."

 

Bandits (PG-13, 2001) ... Average: 2.5
(Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Troy Garity, Bobby Slayton)

Movie ImageChris Mal
Bandits is the story of an odd-couple of X-cons (Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton) who have broken out of prison, and begin robbing banks to in an effort to finance their dream "paradise" in Acapulco.  Willis plays the impulsive, suave and irresistible "Joe," while Thornton plays the gentle hypochondriac worry-wart "Terry."  They become famous for their unique scheme of robbing the banks by first going to the house of the bank manager, staying overnight with their families, treating them quite nicely and then having them open the bank early to take the money.  Their bank robbing plans and their love lives become unexpectedly complicated when they are joined by a crazy, manic-depressive and bored housewife (Cate Blanchett) in search of herself and an escape from her ordinary life.

The problem with Bandits is that it doesn't seem to know what it wants to be.  Is it a comedy?  Or is it an action film?  As such it doesn't strike a cord strongly in any direction.  As a comedy it was mildly amusing, but not greatly so.  As an action film, there were too many times when it just wasn't moving along fast enough.

Oddly, individually, I was quite pleased with the efforts of the main characters - Willis, Thornton and Blanchett.  It's a rare case of the sum equaling less than the parts.  The plot probably sounded really good on paper.  And I can't really explain why, but the execution of the plot just seemed forced to me.  It's not a bad movie, but definitely just a rental.

 

Bare Wench Project (R, 2000) ... Average: 0.5
(Nikki Fritz, Julie Strain, Lorissa McComas, Antonia Dorian, Lenny Juliano, Julie Smith)

Movie ImageDrew Gallagher
In an effort at full disclosure, I must concede that I never saw "The Blair Witch Project" but feel that this hidden gem probably did it tremendous justice. It was true to the plot of the original provided that the original was about four sorority girls with really big breasts seeking out the mythical Bare Wench.  Without giving away too much of the textured plot, these four women climb a "mountain" (Everest it isn't, but the money saved on setting was obviously pumped back into the film in the hiring of gifted actresses and scriptwriters) taking their tops off at constructive intervals in search of proof that the Bare Wench really exists.  It is a haunted "mountain" with the women getting hornier with each step of ascent.  The suspense of the final scene when they are confronted by the actual Bare Wench is right up there with who shot Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.  The only lingering mystery of this film is where was it at Oscar time?  But as my good friend Greg Ciambruschini pointed out, when you have such a talented ensemble cast they often blend so well that the efforts of the whole surpass those of the individual.

 

Beautiful Girls (R, 1996) ... Average: 4.0
(Natalie Portman, Rosie O'Donnell, Uma Thurman, Matt Dillon, Noah Emmerich)

Chris Mal
Yes, this could possibly be considered one of those proverbial "chick flicks" but I liked it, and I liked it quite a bit.  Maybe because if you are a guy, you've probably either felt the growing pains of sorting out your true views on women, or that misplaced desire to be with a "perfect" woman or, at least, a perfect looking woman.  Anyone who's ever been in a long-term relationship should see this movie.  Wow, that sounded really chick-flickish, but it's not really a mushy movie.

It's a wide cast of characters, brought together for a 10-year class reunion, all of the men sorting out their problems.  They are a motley crew, not unlike your typical group of high school buddies, none of them quite turning out to be the people they thought they'd be.  Wow, again that sounds like the basis for a total girl movie ... but, again, it's not, really.

When it comes down to it, this is really just a movie about people in general.  Initially I thought there wasn't too much of a point to the movie beyond the voyeuristic pleasure of watching the characters interact - almost like the movie "Diner" (which, conversely, I thought sucked out loud).  But then as the movie rolls along you begin to grasp the subtle point.

The dialog in the movie is fantastic and very real.  The characters were all very compelling.  The cast is EXCELLENT and the chemistry between the characters is equal to the quality of the cast.

Natalie Portman has fewer scenes than some of the other characters, but gets top billing - and for good reason.  I believe she's only about 13 when this movie was filmed, but she is dazzling and totally beguiling.  An absolutely brilliant child performance.  It's no surprise that she has gone on to star in other movies and performed admirably.

It's entertaining, it's touching, it mixes comedy with real-life everyday situations, it's thought-provoking, and it's highly recommended next time you're in the mood for something refreshing.

 

A Beautiful Mind (PG-13, 2001) ... Average: 4.5
(Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Adam Goldberg, Paul Bettany, Christopher Plummer,
Judd Hirsch, Anthony Rapp, Josh Lucas ... And directed by Ron Howard!)

Movie ImageChris Mal
Russell Crowe plays John Forbes Nash, Jr. a seemingly eccentric and arrogant mathematical genius and loner at Princeton University.  The movie follows his life from his first days as a graduate student in 1947, obsessed with finding an idea that will make him matter ... through the heights of his notoriety when the ensuing acclaim wins him a coveted teaching and research position at M.I.T.  It is there that he meets his wife who loves him for his oddball mind and not despite it, as well as a shadowy government agent (played by Ed Harris) who recruits him for a top-secret project ... to the depths of sorrow when you realize that his social awkwardness and misbehaviors were due to schizophrenia. The film is fearless in its depiction of schizophrenia, which is presented as very real, very scary and very much a disease. This is not madness as whimsy or anti-authority rebellion. It’s madness as something difficult, something intrusive, something literally sickening.

From there he deteriorates, ultimately finding himself institutionalized and medicated.  And, it is there that he would have remained if it were not for his incredibly loyal and loving wife (played by the insanely beautiful Jennifer Connelly) who stands by his side through their harrowing journey.  If this were fiction, Nash's wife would have seemed extremely unrealistic - way too good to be true.  But, as it is, this is
a true story!  Thanks to her, the story ultimately has a very happy ending.  It's hard to give many details of just how great this movie is without spoiling it for you, so I'll have to refrain from saying any more for the sake of anyone who has yet to see this gem.

This movie is absolutely fantastic, a definite must-see - A BEAUTIFUL MOVIE.  Now that I've seen "Training Day" and this, there is no doubt in my mind that Russell Crowe was shafted on this one simply because he (deservedly) won Best Actor last year (for "Gladiator"), and they apparently wanted to give it to Denzel Washington who had never won before.  Don't get me wrong, Denzel was awesome in "Training Day," but Crowe's performance here was phenomenal.

A Beautiful Mind is an inspiration, a triumph of the human spirit.

 

Bedazzled (PG-13, 2000) ... Average: 3.0
(Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O'Connor, Orlando Jones, Lou Ferrigno)

Movie ImageMike Capilo
Interesting concept, 7 wishes granted by the devil.  You can imagine how they get twisted.  Not a great film, but amusing.  Worth a rental.

 

Being John Malkovich (R, 1999) ... Average: 4.5
(John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Chatherine Kenner, Orson Bean, John Malkovich)

Jena Dietrich
Very entertaining and slightly disturbing.

 

Best in Show (PG-13, 2000) ... Average: 4.0
(Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, Michael Hitchcock, Catherine O'Hara)

Movie ImageDrew Gallagher
Very funny movie.  I've seen it twice now and had beer coming out of my nose the second time I watched it even though I already knew the punchlines.

 

Big Fish (PG-13, 2003) ... Average: 3.0
(Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Danny DeVito, Helena Bonham Carter)

Movie ImageMike Capilo (a.k.a. E. Kim Olipac)
At first I wanted to see this movie because I thought there might be some Sea Bass shots.  (not shot, Mr. Mal; rather photos so I could revel in their beauty.)  But, I was wrong...no sea bass at all.  Instead, only a  lousy catfish!  That makes this fish movie a sea bass haters dream.  As for the rest of the movie...wait for the video.  It's not a bad flick.  It also isn't a date movie, a movie that makes you think, great visually or anything that requires it to be seen on the big screen.

To summerize:  no sea bass, no cinematic appeal, and no reason to run out to see it....did I mention the actors did a nice job?  Well, they did!
 

Black Hawk Down (R, 2001) ... Average: 2.75
(Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, William Fichtner)

Drew Gallagher

coverBrian Hohenadel (courtesy of Sue Hohenadel)
(Editor's Note: This review is provided by my husband -- I did not see this movie.)

Hey...I like to see things blown up as much as the next guy, but this movie was too much.  It was long, it got boring, and all it is is people, buildings, people, cars, people, tanks, people, planes, more people and anything else standing getting blown to smithereens.

I thought "Saving Private Ryan" was graphic, but this movie takes the cake.  I can only take so many intestines falling out, limbs being blown off and dead and horribly wounded people all over the screen.

Be glad you (Sue) didn't go -- you would have bitched the whole time!

(Editor's Note: Thanks, Honey.)

 

Blair Witch Project (R, 1999) ... Average: 4.5
(Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael Williams, Bob Griffith, Jim King)

Photo GalleryChris Mal
I don't usually go back and review movies that I saw prior to creating this web site, but I thought I'd give this movie the backing that I think it deserves.  This was THE scariest movie that I have ever seen.  No lie, and no exaggeration.  I am telling you with conviction that I was mortified during this movie.

It seems you either loved this movie or you hated it.  I know some people who actually thought I was joking when I said it was one of the best horror movies of all time, but I'm baffled as to how anyone could feel that way.

Yes, I thought the "we're filming this in the woods with a hand-held camera" thing was a bit overdone in the beginning of the movie, but it seemed to me that was done just to get the point across.  That "effect" was minimized and utilized only when necessary to make the movie seem more real as the movie went along.

I also found Donahue's screaming to be a bit TOO ear-piercing at times, but then again, if you can get caught up in the situation of the movie - which I certainly did - I bet I would have screamed my ass off at times as well if I was her.

What made some people hate the movie was that you don't totally see "the witch" at any point during the entire movie.  But, to that I say, so what?  What is more terrifying that something that you know is there but can't be seen?  What is more scary then being lost in the woods in near total darkness knowing there is something lurking about?

If you love scary movies, this was the scariest!

Tony Porco (CLICK HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
When I was growing up in Phoenix, my family spent a lot of time camping in rural Arizona and Utah. I remember these trips well, and they will always be among my favorite memories from childhood.  Nevertheless, there was one thing I always hated about those trips–the dark, dark nights in the middle of nowhere, with no lights except the stars, and even those sometimes hard to see from deep in a thick forest.  I can still remember how scared I used to be, how I loved the bucolic outdoor days but dreaded the nights. What does any of this have to do with The Blair Witch Project?  Plenty, because it is a film that recreates this kind of irrational, primal terror, along with the odd and paradoxical excitement that comes with it.  I don't normally like to be scared, in movies or in real life.  This movie compelled me, and even moved me in a strange way, with its almost palpable recreation of those scary, black woods, and the old legends that grow in them as readily as the tall pines.

By now, most of you know the story–three young film students, full of urban-artist cockiness, set off for a small town north of Frederick, Maryland to make a documentary on the local legend of the Blair Witch, a haunting, possibly deadly presence in the woods around the town.

Instead of the omniscient observing camera that most movies have, everything that is seen and experienced comes through their hand-held devices.  (Much has been made of the film's mock-documentary feel, and how irritating it is to watch these cameras shaking and getting jostled.  Personally, I got used to this about fifteen minutes into the film, and didn't think of it much after that).

There are plenty of implausibilities; for one thing, I've been to the town where the film is set, and there aren't quite enough woods for what transpires there.  That said, I gave the credibility stretches little thought, because I was too glued to the screen to even consider them.  That, of course, is one of my major criteria for judging the worth of any movie. 

 

Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows (R, 2000) ... Average: 0.5
(Tristan Skylar, Stephen Barker Turner, Jeffrey Donovan, Kim Director, Erica Leerhsen)

Tony Porco (CLICK HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
Movie ImageAs I have mentioned before, I usually don't like sequels; most of them are just cheap money-makers.  The Star Wars and Star Trek franchises are among the few exceptions.  So why did I see this movie?  I liked the first Blair Witch project, and I figured that if I liked the first and second Star Trek movies and the first and second Star Wars movies, I would end up liking the first and second Blair Witch movies.  Boy, was I stupid.  This so-called movie does everything it can to eliminate every last likable thing about the first film, while coasting on that film's success.  The suspense and tension are gone, replaced by a predictable (and slow) plot.  The eerie silences are gone, replaced by a tiresome, please-as-many-teenagers-as-possible grunge-rock soundtrack.  The primal, dark-woods scariness is gone, with much of the movie taking place in a slacker's old warehouse.  Even the local characters and their ominous warnings are gone, replaced with tiresome redneck cliches.

Meanwhile, everything that was merely tolerable (or downright annoying) about the first BWP is back, this time about ten times worse.  Instead of three over-actors playing somewhat grating characters, we have five of them, and with (maybe) one exception, they're all twice as irritating as anyone in the first movie.  Even the plot is more minimal in the sequel than in the first movie; it all revolves around a local slacker/bad boy (Jeff Patterson) who takes curious fans of the first movie (yes, you guessed it--all the other characters) out for excursions to the mysterious sights in rural Maryland associated with the first movie.  Maybe that's the whole problem; there was just too much hip, postmodern reference-to-pop-culture pablum here, and not enough thought as to what would make a decent movie, let alone a decent sequel.  Even the movie's few good ideas, like a twist that is (or would have been) a genuine surprise, are so buried in the murk that is the script that they end up totally unenjoyable.

I have one word that sums up this movie, or rather, one acronym: MST3K. It is the worst movie I've seen in recent years, except for The Matrix. (As a postscript, I remember reading after the first BWP came out that some followers of the Wiccan religion were offended by that movie. That surprised me, since the whole Blair Witch thing has nothing to do with real witches beyond its title, but of course they have a right to think about the movie whatever they want. These people need to think carefully before seeing this sequel, because its cast of characters includes a tiresome self-proclaimed "witch," played by the normally attractive Erica Leehrson, who will offend them far more than anything in the first movie did. If you fall into this category, consider yourself warned.)
 

Bless the Child (R, 2000) ... Average: 3.0
(Kim Basinger, Angela Bettis, Jimmy Smits, Rufus Sewell, Christina Ricci, Holliston Coleman)

Bill DeHaven
Intense, suspenseful.

Chris Mal
In "Bless the Child," the second-coming of Jesus Christ is born as a girl (Holliston Coleman) to a drug addict.  The mother abandons the little girl leaving her with her sister, played by Kim Basinger.  A Satanic cult, led by a character played by Rufus Sewell, learns of the fact that "the savior" was born on a specific date, and begins weeding out children born on that day.  This appears to the police initially as just the ploy of some sort of serial killer until clues - revealed by an FBI Agent played by Jimmy Smits - lead them to a more frightening realization.

Holliston Coleman and Kim Basinger in "Bless the Child"The movie has a very "Omen"-like feel to it, with plenty of bizarre happenings, and some intense confrontations between good and evil that are creepy and very real.

Unfortunately, there are a few too many holes in the plot.  For example, clearly the FBI and Police were hot on the trail of this Cult, yet Kim Basinger's character was constantly frustrating the audience by defying them and running off on her own.  Why?  It was totally out of character, and seemed unnecessary.  The two heroes of the film - Smits and Basinger - make stupid decision after stupid decision to the point of annoyance.  Then, during the dramatic conclusion, where the heck did everyone go?  Kim Bassinger and Jimmy Smits were left all by themselves to fight evil and then, once victorious, all of a sudden everyone else showed up?  Minor, yes, but there were a long string of that sort of minor example throughout the movie.

The acting as a whole was sub-par.  Kim Basinger, in particular, seemed extremely flat in her delivery - and I must not have imagined it because Bev said that same thing just before I was going to make the same comment.

The film also becomes a little too....literal, is, I guess, the best word.  Did we need to see flying demons, horned devils and such silliness?  Hard to explain what I mean if you didn't see the movie, but the clearly-superimposed animated demons were a little hokey.

Speaking of silly, I found it amusing that when Basinger's car was falling off of a bridge that it couldn't just splash into the cold waters below.  It, of course, had to explode into a ball of flames first.

All of the police are stereo-typically dumb.  While the FBI guy (Smits) uncovers clues they - stereo-typically - think he's just a nuisance and a crack-pot.  (Why is this the case in all movies where the FBI and police have to intermix?  I would love to know if all cops really despise FBI agents as Hollywood has portrayed so many times over.)

The little girl - played by Holliston Coleman - is VERY impressive.  Unlike most child actors and actresses, she's very believable and convincing.

Aside from all of that, it did keep my attention, at least, so I guess I can give it a mediocre 2.5 stars, but there are better rentals than this.

 

Blow (R, 2001) ... Average: 3.5
(Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Jordi Molla, Ray Liotta, Rachel Griffiths)

Sue Hohenadel (a.k.a. Catgirl)
I was a little skeptical about seeing "Blow" since I'm not well versed in drug smuggling.  It didn't matter.

"Blow" is based on the true story of George Jung, an average guy from an average family who decides that he wants to make money without working for it.  He and his friend head to California where they start selling small bags of weed on the beach.  That's the beginning of the end.

There are two recurring messages throughout the movie -- enough never seems to be enough, and you can't have any sort of heart or conscience in the drug trade.  Too bad that George never gets either of those messages.

The movie chronicles George's highs (figuratively and literally) and lows.  Along the way, he loses friends, family, money, and what's left of his mind.

Blow is a sad story -- I found myself feeling sorry for George because he's really a nice -- if pathetically gullible -- guy.  In the end, he doesn't want to continue selling drugs, but it's all he knows how to do.  The only justification I have for my reaction to George is Johnny Depp's dead-on portrayal of the character.
Franka Potente and Johnny Depp in "Blow"
And speaking of Johnny Depp...how hot is he?

Strange career notwithstanding (21 Jump Street to Edward Scissorhands to Donnie Brasco), Depp is great in the lead role.  He made me laugh, made me cringe and made me feel sorry for the character.  And I was wasn't alone, judging from the collective "oooohs and aaaaahs" in the theater.

Ray Liotta is sad as George's father -- a man worn down by life and family.  George's mother is a witch from the beginning of the movie until the bitter end.

"Blow" is worth the ticket price; minimal violence, bizarre cinematography (a Demme production ritual), a few laughs and uninterrupted Depp-gazing.

 

Boiler Room (R, 2000) ... Average: 3.0
(Giovanna Ribisi, Ben Affleck [kind of], Nia Long)

Cat Girl (a.k.a. Sue Hohenadel)
I went to see this movie for two reasons: the trailers promoting it looked good, and to see my future husband (although he doesn't know it yet) Ben Affleck. The movie lives up to the commercials -- it's a slick, gritty depiction of small-time, stock broker wannabes and how they'll do and say anything to make money and screw gullible people. This is one of the few movies I've seen recently in which I DID NOT look at my watch. The characters hold your attention in a "morbid curiosity" sort of way. You know your supposed to be repulsed by these guys, but you can't help watching and wondering what they're going to do next. As for the second of the two reasons I went to see this movie, I got screwed. Ben is in the movie for all of 5 minutes. He's great when he's on screen, but he is not a main character. If you wanna see a Ben Affleck movie, rent "Chasing Amy." All-in-all, a good Wednesday night, I-can't-watch-Regis-one-more-time-this-week-or-I'll-snap kind of movie.

 

Bone Collector, The (R, 1999) ... Average: 3.0
(Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifa)

coverChris Mal
I'm apparently into serial killer movies...some of my favorite movies include "Silence of the Lambs", "Seven" and "Copy Cat".  This was good, but not as good as the aforementioned if you are feeling the urge to see a movie about a psycho killer.

The suspense and the thrill of the movie was all there and well done.  But the way the characters of the movie were thrown together without much logic or reason bothered me a little.  Denzel plays a super-genius forensic cop who was paralyzed by a fallen beam in the first scene of the movie (well, we needed to cripple him somehow!).  Jolie plays a feisty entry level cop with NO background in forensics who is very oddly just taken off of her beat and made to be head forensic expert because she did a good job collecting evidence. (There had to be a better way to mesh her character into the role than this.)  She then plays the eyes and ears of Denzel's character throughout the movie as she walks through crime scenes and describes everything to him through a head-set.

I couldn't help but keep thinking to myself that this movie would have better had they NOT made Denzel crippled, and simply had him and Jolie working together with her as an "apprentice" of sorts.  The idea of him being crippled seemed like nothing more than a "gimmick" to make this movie different than other serial killer movies.

 

Bounce (PG-13, 2000) ... Average: 3.5
(Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alex D. Linz, Jennifer Grey, Tony Goldwyn, Natasha Henstridge)

Chris Mal
Gwyneth Paltrow, a dog and Ben Affleck in "Bounce"This movie looked like a winner from the previews that I saw, and didn't disappoint.  It was a very cute movie, and very well acted.  It also was, however, one MAJOR "chick flick."  Guys, if you don't like this sort of sensitive emotional aww-isn't-that-sweet kind of movie - STAY AWAY!  I can, on occasion, find it in myself to "get in touch with my feminine side" and enjoy this sort of movie, and this was pretty good.

The movie sets Ben Affleck, a big-time advertising agent who is completely full of himself, in an airport about to get on a plane to fly back home to L.A.  He meets a hot woman in the airport and decides to stay and "get a piece."  So, he gives his ticket to a sweet middle-aged guy who was flying home but had his earlier flight delayed.  The plane crashes, and Affleck's life follows suit.  A year later, Affleck, still feeling guilty and somehow responsible for the guy's death, turns his life around, and stops in to see the widow to make sure she is doing OK.  She has no idea that he was supposed to be the one on the plane.  I won't give the rest away but you can see where it is going, and that is probably the movie's only real flaw - it was somewhat predictable, but that didn't really take away from my enjoyment of the story very much.

Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow really made this movie work.  Both are brilliant.  (And for all of you ladies, I'm told that even if your sound isn't working Ben Affleck is probably worth the price of the rental!)

In a similar genre (and actually, now that I think about it, a similar story) "Return to Me" (with David Duchovny and Minnie Driver) was better, but this was still a good movie.  Recommended.

 

The Bourne Supremacy (PG-13, 2004) ... Average: 3.5
(Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles)

Mike Capilo
Good cast, not a bad movie.  Don't see it in the theater unless you have the ability to time travel, because it's now on DVD.  The only thing the movie lacked was a Chris Mal cameo.  Come to think of it all movies lack that ingredient.

 

Boys Don't Cry (R, 1999) ... Average: 3.13
(Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Alison Folland, Brendan Sexton III)

coverTony Porco (CLICK HERE to go to Tony Porco's Movie Reviews Page)
In 1993, Teena Brandon, a young Nebraska woman dealing with what she described as a "sexual identity crisis," began living as a man and calling herself Brandon Teena.  For this affront, two despicable ex-cons brutally murdered her.  This true story was made into a powerful, tragic film by Kimberly Peirce that attacks the hatred of gays and lesbians that is all too common in this country and this world.

Hilary Swank is perfectly cast as young Teena; her characterization is thoroughly believable, and sympathetic without a lot of idealization or bathos.  Chloe Sevigny (who first appeared in Kids back in the early 90's) does almost as good a job as her main love interest, a bored teenage girl.  The supporting players are all (too) believable as well, and the only major objection is a technical one--Peirce and her cinematographer use shots of fast-motion clouds over the flat Nebraska landscape one too many times.

The story is so strong that it seems almost unfair to point this out.  This is a movie that will not permit you to forget it, or to forget an unfortunate person that hate destroyed.

Chris Mal
Wow..........I don't know what else to say...............I've described movies as "disturbing" before, but this movie totally redefines the word "disturbing."  And that really has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that this is a true story about a woman with a "sexual identity crisis."  That facet of the movie didn't really phase me.  In fact, Hilary Swank does such a good job of playing the role that you almost forget she's a woman mid-way through the movie.

The disturbing parts are, firstly, the freaking trailer trash losers that her life was thrown into. These people were so ungodly low on the food chain that it actually made me uncomfortable.  The Photo Galleryuncomfortably was escalated by Swank's character (remember, this is a true story) masking her true identity throughout the movie.  The whole situation had me nervous from start to finish - the kind of nervous you feel when something bad is about to happen.  This, I would say, is a tribute to the tremendous job done by Swank.  And finally, the ultimate in disturbing was the last 45 minutes or so - absolutely horrific and graphic....and wow, disturbing.  I won't go into details as to not spoil it for those who haven't seen it.

There are also some sexual parts of the movie that I imagine would make some people's skin crawl, but it didn't really bother me at all. Unlike your typical gratuitous movie sex scenes, the sexual parts of this movie are necessary to the plot.  Unless your a serious homophobe you should be able to deal with it.

The movie, essentially, is just a look into the tragic life of someone with one of the most peculiar disorders imaginable.  In a way it's just voyeuristic, but certainly does keep you on the edge of your edgy seat.  If you're looking for an up-lifter, this sure isn't it.  If you are looking for theatrical gem, I think you just found it.
Rory Pfeifer
To quote Rory, "Even though I'm a big fan of the Art of Lesbianism, it just didn't do anything for me.  I'll give it 3 stars, but mostly just for her acting.  Besides that it was just depressing."
Janel Pfeifer
Yes, Dad, it was depressing. I guess we are looking at two point of views. Women, please watch it with a man. Great acting but tough to watch. Remember it is a true story. :)
 

Bringing Out the Dead (R, 1999) ... Average: 0.0
(Nicolas Cage, John Goodman, Patricia Arquette, Ving Rhames, Mary Beth Hurt)

(No Stars)

Movie ImageKerry McGuinness
This movie was stupid and boring, almost painful to have to sit through. Even Nicholas Cage was a dum dum in this flick. If you watch it, all you want is for the movie to end. I do not recommend even picking it up and reading the back of the box in the video store. Just swear it off. Don't be fooled (like me) if you see the trailer for it when you rent another movie. Don't even consider it -- even if you are a Martin Scorsese fan. This movie, in a word, sucked.

 

Brokedown Palace (PG-13, 1999) ... Average: 2.0
(Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale, Bill Pullman)

Rory Pfeifer

 

Bruce Almighty (PG-13, 2003) ... Average: 3.0
(Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Lisa Ann Walter, Nora Dunn)

Movie ImageSue Hohenadel
Let me get this out of the way before I say anything else -- I am not a Jim Carrey fan.  He reminds me of Robin Williams -- too much.  Always on, always over-the-top, and always annoying.  That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.

Bruce Almighty is the story of Bruce Nolan, a tv reporter -- the guy who gets the "cutesy" stories that makes folks laugh, but is never taken seriously enough to get the coveted anchorperson job.  When one of the nightly newscasters is set to retire, Bruce and his nemesis, Evan, are up for the job.  Of course, Bruce doesn't get it and finds out during a live feed.  He has  meltdown in front of the camera and subsequently loses his job.

Things start to unravel from there.  Bruce starts a huge pity party for himself and, when all else fails, turns to God to find out why his life sucks.

The scenes with Carrey and Morgan Freeman -- who plays God -- are terrific.  Freeman's low-key delivery offsets Carrey's manic facial expressions and silliness.  And Carrey is relatively contained throughout the movie, trying to figure out what he should do with his new-found powers and learning some valuable lessons in the meantime.  And Jennifer Anniston is actually very good as Carrey's girlfriend -- she plays well off him and you can see that she must have had a blast making the movie.

Bruce Almighty is a movie with a message.  Through the laughs and the antics, there are some powerful lessons to be learned.  Some are subtle, and others smack you right out of your seat.  In all, it's just a nice, little movie that gives you a subtle kick in the ass.

See the movie -- in theaters or rental.  It may change your mind about a lot of things, including Jim Carrey.

And if I ever have the opportunity to meet God, I hope he really is Morgan Freeman.