Movie reviews: 01/2014
Movies seen this month: 8
Page # 1
  Title: The Sixth Sense
Genre: Drama  Year: 1999  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Mischa Barton  Director: M. Night Shyamalan

My Review: The Sixth Sense - 1999 (Drama, mystery, thriller, horror) This movie was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring Bruce Willis as Dr. Malcolm Crowe, Haley Joel Osment as Cole Sear, Toni Collette as Lynn Sear and many others. This was the first M. Night Shyamalan I saw (I saw an earlier film - Wide Awake - many years later), and this is the film that did it for me, I was a fan from this point on. The story is intricate, well constructed, and tightly controlled. The cast was excellent in their portrayals and execution of the script. In this movie, a young Haley Joel Osment (11 years old at the time) plays a six year old boy who ‘sees dead people’. His ‘ability’ causes problems at school, problems with his help, and problems with his relationships. His mother is very concerned, and Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Played by Bruce Willis) is brought in to help uncover the true problems behind Coel’s paranormal abilities. It’s a twisted mystery with outstanding shock value. There were moments in this movie where I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat dreading the next twist, thrilled by the revelations, consumed by the story. Engrossing and superbly directed, this movie was filled with breathtaking and breathless moments of shock and astonishment. I’ve watched it numerous times and it still affects me in much the same way as my original viewing. A thoughtful examination of the afterlife, a tense and shocking thriller, a triumphant movie by M. Night Shyamalan. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Summary: A boy who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.

  Title: The Internship
Genre: Comedy  Year: 2013  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi, Max Minghella  Director: Shawn Levy

My Review: The Internship - 2013 (Comedy) Set in the tech-savvy community, Vince Vaughn (Playing Billy McMahon) and Owen Wilson (Nick Campbell) play two out of work salesmen trying to compete in the ‘modern’ workplace. They get accepted as unpaid Interns at Google. With no tech savvy or coding skills these two troglodytes manage to navigate their way through the highly competitive environment of a modern workplace using the good old fashioned skills of hard work and social intercourse. The film attempts to draw in audiences from two generations, but the writing is a bit of a stretch. It’s very difficult to satisfy those two audiences with one movie. The fact that they were accepted as Google Interns with virtually no credentials was a little hard to swallow, their chemistry didn’t seem all that genuine (to me), and their ability to overcome a lack of technical skills in a company like Google boggles the mind. Worst of all, the movie seemed to be a giant advertisement for Google. I didn’t like it - The chemistry was off. 2 out of 5.

Summary: Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are salesmen whose careers have been torpedoed by the digital world. Trying to prove they are not obsolete, they defy the odds by talking their way into a coveted internship at Google, along with a battalion of brilliant college students. But, gaining entrance to this utopia is only half the battle. Now they must compete with a group of the nation's most elite, tech-savvy geniuses to prove that necessity really is the mother of re-invention.

  Title: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller  Year: 1999  Country: France, Germany, USA, Japan  Rating: Starring: Forest Whitaker, John Tormey, Cliff Gorman, Dennis Liu, Frank Minucci  Director: Jim Jarmusch

My Review: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai - 1999 (Action, Crime, Drama) Directed by Jim Jarmusch (Stranger than Paradise, Dead Man, Z-Channel A Magnificent Obsession, Broken Flowers, The Limits of Control), starring Forest Whitaker, John Tormey, Frank Minucci, Richard Portnow, Isaach De Bankole and many others. This is a masterpiece. A surprising movie; filled with power and energy, but lacking in explosions and action. The acting was excellent, the casting superb. The story - Classic, twisted, introspective, well directed, thoughtful. The story is one of 'Ghost Dog' an African American assassin living in Jersey City. He's dedicated himself to the Italian American mobster who saved his life. Following a very strict Bushido code, 'Ghost Dog' goes about his duty with precision, finesse and unflinching loyalty. Life throws a curve ball at Ghost Dog when his master's acquaintances decide to 'take him out'. The character development is superb. Jarmusch could easily stretch this one movie into an entire television series with several seasons worth of fresh exploration around the characters alone. The story is complicated, challenging and less predictable than any action flick in the typical 'mobster' genre. The camera work and music were instrumental in building an outstanding atmosphere and mood, establishing a setting that felt foreign, ancient, mystic and honorable in the midst of a decaying New Jersey slum, crack addicts, and mobsters who's code of honor extends only as far as their petty personal grievances. The contrast of mobsters - traditionally depicted as following a code - vs this Bushido grounded assassin makes for a fantastic movie. The dialog between Ghost dog and the ice-cream vendor was magnificent. Compelling, tragic and original. This movie pays homage to whole genres with it's outstanding pacing, performance, direction, dialog and writing. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Summary: In Jersey City, an African American hit man follows "Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai." He lives alone, in simplicity with homing pigeons for company, calling himself Ghost Dog. His master, who saved his life eight years ago, is part of the local mob. When the boss' daughter witnesses one of Ghost Dog's hits, he becomes expendable. The first victims are his birds, and in response, Ghost Dog goes right at his attackers but does not want to harm his master or the young woman. On occasion, he talks with his best friend, a French-speaking Haitian who sells ice cream in the park, and with a child with whom he discusses books. Can he stay true to his code? And if he does, what is his fate?

  Title: Stigmata
Genre: Fantasy  Year: 1999  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Jonathan Pryce, Nia Long, Thomas Kopache  Director: Rupert Wainwright

My Review: Stigmata - 1999 (Horror, Supernatural, Religion) Stigmata is a Christian religious term/phenomenon that refers to the spontaneous appearance of wounds which correspond to the wounds that Christ suffered while/when he was crucified. In this movie; Directed by Rupert Wainwright, starring Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Jonathon Pryce and others, an atheist begins to exhibit ‘Stigmata’ - The woman has no idea what is happening, and doesn’t believe that the wounds are religiously significant. The Vatican hears about the event, and they send a ‘Myth Buster’ to dispel the rumors and denounce the woman as a Fraud. As the woman’s ‘symptoms’ become more significant the couple begin to realize that something more is happening than simple fraud or an odd natural phenomenon. The movie is visually stunning, but the story is a bit heavy handed and muddled at the same time. The priest - who is also a scientist has his faith tested. The woman - an atheist - is used as the vehicle for a spiritual test. The unorthodox presentation of these religious themes makes for some interesting themes. It’s a pretty good supernatural thriller with some horror elements. The portrayal of the Vatican as a bureaucratic and uncaring gigantic ‘corporation’, more interested in the church’s image than true faith is typical of Hollywood and detracts from this movie. I give it a 3 out of 5.

Summary: A priest from the Vatican is sent to Sao Paulo, Brazil to investigate the appearance of the face of the Virgin Mary on the side of a building. While there he hears of a statue of the Virgin Mary bleeding tears in a small town outside of the city. Meanwhile, a young woman in the U.S. begins to show signs of stigmata, the wounds of Christ. The priest from the Vatican links up with her and cares for her as she is increasingly afflicted by the stigmata. Her ranting and raving finally begins to make sense to the priest who starts to question what his religion has stood for for the last 1900 years.

  Title: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Genre: Action  Year: 1991  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Christian Slater, Alan Rickman  Director: Kevin Reynolds

My Review: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - 1991 (Action, Adventure, Drama) This movie was directed by Kevin Reynolds (The Beast of War, Water World, The Count of Monte Cristo). He’s a good director for these romantic adventure pieces with a period or fantasy setting. The casting was pretty good. Kevin Costner as Robin Hood was excellent - Understated, calm, a bit clunky, but cool and collected. Despite the fact that he hasn’t got any English accent whatsoever, his character fit the character quite well. Morgan Freeman as Azeem was somewhat boring, but the role was exceptional, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Marian Dubois was good, Christian Slater as Will Scarlet, and Alan Rickman as the hilariously evil Sheriff of Nottingham. Alan Rickman’s performance was the best in this cast, but the entire cast was well suited for their roles. The acting was a bit comedic, and I believe that elevated the movie somewhat. The story is a slightly better track for the typical Robin Hood fodder. Here we have a young nobleman (Kevin Costner playing Robin Hood (of Locksley)) returned from the crusades. His experiences there have led him to a clearer vision of the role of the governed over the governed; as a result, he embarks on a mission to right the wrongs committed in his absence. To avenge his father death and restore Richard to the throne is no easy task. He becomes an outlaw and fights a righteous guerrilla campaign, recruiting the downtrodden, exiled and criminal subjects of the crown. What follows is jolly-good fun at the expense of the Sheriff. Humorous, action filled, and somewhat romantic, the movie delivers excellent entertainment in a well directed romp through Sherwood forest. I give it a 4 out of 5.

Summary: When Robin and his Moorish companion come to England and the tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham, he decides to fight back as an outlaw.

  Title: On the Road
Genre: Adventure, Drama  Year: 2012  Country: France, USA, UK, Brazil, Canada, Argentina  Rating: Starring: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge  Director: Walter Salles

My Review: On The Road - 2012 (Adventure, Drama) Based upon a book (On The Road) by Jack Kerouac, this movie is directed by Walter Salles, starring Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Kirsten Dunst, and others. This movie is supposed to be a book-to-movie adaptation of a Jack Kerouac novel. Apparently (in my opinion) some books should not be made into a movie. In this movie a writer from New York (Sal Paradise aka Jack Kerouac played by Sam Riley) is joined by his free-spirited friend Dean (Dean Moriarity aka Neal Cassady played by Garrett Hedlund) and his girl Marylou (aka LuAnne Henderson played by Kristen Stewart), in a beat era road trip across the soul of America. What a great premise. The cast did a fine job in this quest for inspiration and the meaning of life… Heavy philosophical themes permeate the movie as the characters search for god, their parents, themselves, a place to call home. A self-discovery movie from an artistic and soulful novelist point of view. There was far more drugs and sex than I would have imagined in a movie about the beat generation of the late 40s. Not nearly enough self-exploration as a compliment to the cross-country vistas portrayed in the film. I give it a 3 out of 5.

Summary: Shaken by the death of his father and discouraged by his stalled career, writer Sal Paradise goes on a road trip hoping for inspiration. While traveling, he is befriended by charismatic and fearless Dean Moriarty and Moriarty's free-spirited and seductive young wife, Marylou. Traveling across the American southwest together, they strive to break from conformity and and search the unknown, and their decisions change the very course of their lives.

  Title: The Hunt for Red October
Genre: Action  Year: 1990  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones  Director: John McTiernan

My Review: The Hunt for Red October - 1990 (Action, Adventure, Thriller) An excellent movie. Too bad it wasn't done by Russians in Russian. John McTiernan does a fine job directing an all-star cast in this taught action packed thriller. Starring Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones and several others, the casting helps immensely. Despite the fact that the dialog was done primarily in English, I really liked the way they transitioned from the original Russian dialog (admittedly strained by Connery's accent) to English. There was some very good camera work here. The plot! What a fantastic story. Thank you Tom Clancy! Commander of the latest Soviet submarine decides to defect, taking a super-silent nuclear sub with him. How will he manage to evade the combined ire of the motherland and the cautionary nature of the American military? An invisible nuclear threat off the coast of Washington DC! Sound the klaxon, non-stop thrills ahead! Excellent movie. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Summary: In 1984, the USSR's best submarine captain in their newest sub violates orders and heads for the USA. Is he trying to defect, or to start a war?

  Title: It's a Disaster
Genre: Comedy, Drama, TV Movie  Year: 2013  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Rachel Boston, Kevin M. Brennan, David Cross, America Ferrera, Jeff Grace  Director: Todd Berger

My Review: It’s a Disaster - 2012 (comedy, drama) Four couples have gathered together for a Sunday brunch get together. The movie starts out as a bland and dreary drama - Airing of the grievances. Couples therapy with no sign of resolution. Suddenly a neighbor appears with news that their city is under attack - with dirty bombs, the nerve toxin is spreading and infecting everyone. The world may be coming to an end! Despite the impending doom, these constipated urban dwellers can think of nothing but their own problems. All trust, friendship and civil behavior is thrown out the window in this climate of doom and gloom. Apparently their relationship issues are more important than the survival of all mankind. The best part of the movie was the casting and quirky character interactions. The script was well written but I never really got beyond the premise - An apocalyptic event is unfolding in their home town, and all they can think of is themselves. This movie is barely above interesting, and it quickly sinks into the forgotten category after the credits roll. I don’t really care for soap operas - Even if they dangle the premise of devastating apocalyptic destruction as a lure to make me watch. I give this a 2 out of 5.

Summary: Eight friends meet for their monthly couples brunch. But what starts as an impromptu therapy session/airing of domestic grievances takes a sudden, catastrophic turn when the city falls victim to a mysterious attack. Trapped in the house and unsure of their fates, these seemingly normal people become increasingly unhinged to surprising results.


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