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Ghastly, gratuitous violence
If you are into beheadings, dismemberment, disembowelment and any number of other horrors, then this is the movie for you. But don't go expecting to learn anything of worth about the Mayan culture. What's here has nothing much to do with historical accuracy, apart from the costumes perhaps. This is just a lot of gratuitous gore that makes one wonder about the filmmakers' own personal appetites. The shocking thing to me is that critics are even taking this film seriously. There was so much blood and guts that after a while you have to start laughing for sheer relief from the nonstop violence. Please, please don't take your children to see this movie. If you do you will be sorry before the first scene ends.
No Man's Land (2001)
One of the best on the subject
This is an excellent movie, one of the best I've seen on the subject of the Bosnian-Serbian war. It says so much in understated action than any amount of proselytizing could say about the futility, and often sad ridiculousness of war. It gave an insight into the personal feelings and resentment of the individual soldiers that I had not previously seen. I especially liked seeing the responses to and by the UN soldiers, the complexity of that situation, and how their hands are tied by bureaucratic wrangling. A superb, highly recommended movie for anyone with an interest in the subject of modern war.
Ich war neunzehn (1968)
No candy-coating on this one.
Director Wolf has a small masterpiece in this film, which is about the exploration of a young German-born Russian soldier's attempt to find his roots during the final days of World War II as the Russian Army advances on Berlin. This is also an unsweetened account of the chaos of war. Many suspenseful moments and never boring. Gregor, the nineteen-year-old of the title reveals himself throughout as the confused, self-conscious, prideful and sometimes ruthless young man that he is, not unlike any young man of 19 caught up in wartime situations. Highly recommended. Another look but an unusual one at the war that marked the 20th Century.
Gosford Park (2001)
The best movie of the year!
Gosford Park is simply a masterpiece. I was just awed by how well all those characters are developed, how the dialogue is so sharp and revealing. It has some of my favorite British actors in it anyway, so maybe I was biased going in, but if Maggie Smith doesn't get nominated for Supporting Actress there's no justice. Jeremy Northam is another stand out. I just didn't want the movie to end, and was tempted to immediately purchase another ticket and sit through it again. I may do so yet. This one smart and funny and poignant and all those good things you want a movie to be. If, God forbid, I could see only one movie this year it would be Gosford Park.
The Perfect Storm (2000)
Do we need these smarmy endings?
This movie was riveting and realistic, right up to the ending, when the filmmakers copped out, once again, with loading on the smarm for the ending. Is the American movie goer so unintelligent, so unforgiving that we can't deal with the reality of people dying, even when it a film is based on actual events? Give me a break! I think the sophistication of the American people has been underestimated.
The Lamp Still Burns (1943)
Some nice moments
There are some nice historical details in this movie about the miserable conditions for student nurses in a wartime hospital in London during the Blitz. Rosamund John is a likeable heroine, although at the end you're left wondering if she's made the right choices and why she even had to make them at all. This part of the plot seems dated, until you look at it from the historical aspect--women didn't have careers AND a married life too often in those days. Definitely worth the look, if for nothing else than for a sample of the times.
Angels One Five (1952)
Repeat viewer is captivated.
I don't know why I can't stop watching this film. It certainly has its moments of high "corn," although the British have never been as dedicated to the requisite happy ending as American filmmakers, which is again the case with this one. I think it's the peek into life at an English aerodrome during World War Two that keeps me coming back again and again to view this picture. In my opinion ANGELS ONE FIVE is a kind of mini war classic.
Little Voice (1998)
The whole movie is worth the 15 minute onstage performance by "L.V." What a talent! What a delight!
The Tango Lesson (1997)
An unexpected surprise!
How much is true, and how much is fiction? That is the genius behind this quiet movie. And as a viewer you yearn to know the answer to that question. A little gem by screenwriter, Sally Potter. Hats off!
La promesse (1996)
More of Renier!
What a fabulous actor Jérémie Renier is! He IS this movie, and while watching you can't take your eyes off of him. A riveting performance for such a young actor. More of him, please--more, more! One of the finest movies I've seen in ages.
Dream for an Insomniac (1996)
Too bad Jennifer Aniston wasn't the "girl" in the movie. Maybe there would've been more chemistry between Frankie and David Schrader. As it is, nothing could convince me that Ione Skye and MacKenzie Astin even liked each other much, let alone fell madly in love. On that note, this movie misses, and it's too bad because the promise was a good one. Just didn't fulfill.
Love Songs (1999)
Wonderfully realized trilogy.
This trilogy of "love songs" promotes the spirit of good inside people, and completely transcends the racial question you think might be coming. These are simply men and women trying to get along in a perverse world, to find love and peace in their lives. Well-written, smart, and uplifting though not in a gratuitous way, "Love Stories" is one of the best trilogy movies I've ever seen. Each segment is loosely tied into the other, and each segues into the another seamlessly, sort of like visiting a few of the folks on the block for an hour and a half. This is cable TV at its very finest.
Miss Rose White (1992)
Tear-jerker extraordinaire. Well-acted, dramatic, satisfying. Even this cynic needed some hankies. Recommended.
A Simple Plan (1998)
Smart, devilishly good plot with fine acting.
This is a smart movie that has--somehow--avoided the dumbing down of most of the current crop of Hollywood movies. Bill Paxton deserves an Oscar nomination for his role, although Billy Bob Thornton will probably be the one to get it. His role is more quirky and thus perceived as harder to act. Not true. Bill Paxton was completely believable, in fact, it was his acting that made some of the surreal events believable. One of the best movies of the year!
The Student Prince (1997)
Robson Green should be a star!
A smart, thoroughly enchanting romantic comedy with a little Cyrano DeBergerac thrown in while it thumbs its nose at class distinctions and the monarchy. Give me more of Robson Green!!!
Feast of July (1995)
Yummy good love story.
Beautiful scenery and details, authentic costumes and language. After six viewings, Ben Chaplin still lights up the screen.
Simon Birch (1998)
Simon Birch a waste of time.
I can see why John Irving wanted the characters' names changed, and why he wanted to distance himself from this smarmy film. The movie is a shoddy waste of a glorious novel.