BABE: A PIG IN THE CITY
The now-infamous sheep pig and his master's wife head to the city to help save the economically ailing farm in this 1998 sequel to the surprise hit of 1995. Charming and whimsical, Babe ultimately wins out but not before encountering sundry animals jaded by a life in the urban jungle. The animal techtronics and human voiceovers are, if possible, better than those in BABE and help to add up to an engrossing fairy tale for children and their higher-ups.
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH
This is possibly the weirdest lesbian-themed, science fiction black comedy I have ever seen. Although a bit too long, the premise (akin to using John Malkovich as a ride in Disneyland) is definitely intriguing and worth a look. The cast, which includes John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener and the eponymous actor, is great in roles they have undoubtedly not inhabited before and never will again.
A wonderful triumvirate of acting by Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn and a wisely underplayed Janeane Garafolo (as an FBI agent!) together with the quirky script add up to a little surprise pf a movie. Starting off with a literal bang, the twists and turns of this comedy-like thriller never let up. A great soundtrack of new and old country tunes makes this one a must-see.
DROP DEAD GORGEOUS
This amalgam of Waiting for Guffman and The Stepford Wives might not be for everyone but, it certainly made me laugh. Superlative acting by Kirstie Alley, Kristen Dunst, Denise Richards (finally work that belies the hype) and especially Ellen Barkin (who's part was not big enough for me) is what really gives this film its power. Funny with some original touches, the ending of the film was also very touching; as well the ending could show Hollywood that a self-contained film (read: no sequel) can still be made.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER
The "Morton Fisherman" goes ballistic in this slasher movie with, comparatively speaking, very little blood. Pat cinematic values, an above-average screenplay, attractive leads and enough chills combine to elevate this just a notch above the expected. It's not Hamlet but, then what is these days?
THE IRON GIANT
This animated feature, mixing well-developed characters, winning animation and wonderful voices supplied by, among others, Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick, Jr. and Cloris Leachman, is an uncharacteristically (considering its milieu) upbeat film made for kids but smart and enjoyable enough for adults. Set during the Cold War in 1950s America, the title character drops out of the sky, engendering fear in all but Hogarth Hughes, a young boy who takes it upon himself to help the townspeople to understand the gentle giant. Executive produced by Pete Townsend, this film could've easily been made in live-action but whose to say if it would've maintained the realistic tone and old-fashioned charm it exudes here so well.
I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER
Shouldn't the title
be I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID THE SUMMER BEFORE LAST - or are
they referring back to the summer of the first movie and not
the summer that the first movie was referring to? Does anyone
care? Not even Brandy and Jennifer Love Hewitt can elevate this
carbon copy screenplay to high-gore art.
THE MASK / AT FIRST SIGHT
A Special Six LInes Review
These two movies are reviewed together because I watched them together: the video of At First Sight was turned on during commercials for the television broadcast of The Mask. Why? Because At First Sight starts out with Mira Sorvino (who, along with Val Kilmer and Kelly McGillis, does an admirable job acting this material) doing a stupid thing: she meets a blind guy, falls in love in one day and decides to get him an operation that would enable him to see within the week. It was one of the most ridiculous plots I had to endure in years so, since I had not seen it, I toggled TV/Video and turned on The Mask. Jim Carrey is adorable as Stanley, Cameron Diaz is jaw-dropping and Milo (who Max is really much cuter than) saves the day, of course. And The Mask is an enjoyable bit of fluff and technical wizardry.
This atmospheric yet creepy horror film from 1963 takes its inspiration from the 1930s horror films of Universal (think Young Frankenstein without the laughs). Ominous yet benign compositions (like a frog jumping in a puddle) are edited neatly with ghoulish shots of witches returning from the dead to build to a tenseful crescendo. Despite some inadvertant yet glaring errors of continuity, Mario Bava and his muse Barbara Steel (sic) have joined together for a masterful fright fest perfect for your next Halloween celebration.
With a premise that never fails to intrigue, the Warschoyski Brothers have fully realized their own screenplay with exemplary art and set direction and spot-on special effects. The action never lets up and Keanu Reeves and company are having a ripping good time. So don't think: get some cookies and a huge refreshing glass of rice milk, sit back and enjoy!
In this follow-up to her Oscar-winning turn in MIGHTY APHRODITE, Mira Sorvino acquits herself nicely as an entomologist who unwittingly unleashes a strain of man-eating insects on the public of New York City. This fast-paced science fiction thriller has some monsterously good life-size insects and almost imperceptible special effects but is ultimately very routine. Ahhh...give me the days of THEM!
MY DOG SKIP
My Dog Skip has an emotional pull that even non-dog people and non-kid people will love. A wonderful cast (especially the young boy who's name escapes me, the one day everyone will know what I've known since 'A Little Romance' Diane Lane and Eddie) and some very clever dog stunts propel the slight story to a happy/sad ending. Having a Jack Russell Terrier (Eddie's breed) probably didn't hurt my enjoyment of the film either.
This entertaining yet emotionally static film is the story of a young Jewish actor who moves to Greenwich Village in 1953. Paul Mazursky's semi-autobiographical film successfully evokes the era but, despite abortions, suicides and breakups, never deeply involves the viewer. Lenny Baker, Ellen Greene and Shelley Winters as the actor, his girlfriend and his mother, respectively, are standouts in this stellar cast which also includes Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum and, quite briefly, Bill Murray.
THE RAGE: CARRIE 2
Amy Irving returns as Sue Snell, now a high school guidance counselor, who attempts to alleviate the suffering of another 'Carrie' at the hands of her peers. Although an unmistakable rehash with not an original idea in the script, the film does move along briskly just as it reminds us just how brutal high school can be. Editing in clips from the classic first film doesn't detract but reminds, in light of recent real-life high school violence, that the more things change, the more things stay the same.
ROMY AND MICHELLE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
Clocked in at 91 minutes, this thoroughy enjoyable movie could've been tightened by 20 minutes: the pre-high school reunion 'high school reunion dream sequence' is totally insular to moving the plot forward. But with Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino in their finest Judy Holliday acting garb, it gives them twenty more minutes of screen time so why complain. And Janeanne Garafolo is a howl as the chain-smoking, profanity-spewing...uh...Janeane Garafolo?
This jaunty follow-up to the genre-breaking original is most enjoyable on its own terms, delivering intrigues, thrills and irony. Although the screenplay does tread awfully close to the storyline of the first, the film does let you know this before you fault it. Laurie Metcalfe as reporter Debbie Salt is wonderfully droll, as are Courtney Cox and David Arquette; it stretches credibility though to hear her drama professor extoll the virtues of Neve Campbell as "the only actress on campus" worthy of the role of CASSANDRA in their college production of the Greek tragedy.
Woody Allen does Ingmar Bergman doing Harold Robbins. This self-conscious attempt at exploring six people's angst is just an extremely well-acted soap opera with no real reason for us to care who beds whom. Fortunately for us, Elaine Stritch, Dianne Wiest, Sam Waterston, Mia Farrow, Jack Warden and Denholm Elliot manage to rise above the banality.
After years of bad reviews in dramatic pictures, Marion Davies finally proved herself a bright comic presence in this very funny, and very silent, spoof of Hollywood made in 1927. Davies, the paramour of William Randolph Hearst, is natural and believable in her role as a babe in the 'Holly' woods trying to break into the business. Don't let the fact that you have to read stop you from catching this film, directed by King Vidor; you'll miss a classic worth watching again and again.
THE STATION AGENT
An intelligent script and great actors (including Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale and Michelle Williams) make for a rich and rewarding film written and directed by Tom McCarthy. Peter Dinklage heads the cast in a brilliantly, shaded performance as a dwarf who inherits an abandoned train depot and slowly learns that everyone, in their own way, is little. The Station Agent is a sweet film that testifies to the power of friendship.
I don't know which denigrates this movie more: the superhero-like performance - in a non-superhero-like role - of Roy Scheider, the semi-orgiastic scenes of Bob Balaban and his computers, the homo-erotic tinglings between John Lithgow and his Russian counterpart, or Helen Mirren's curly hair. Peter Hyams directed this sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey that has none of the nuances, or for that matter interest, of its predecessor. Whether it was his screenplay or the source Arthur C. Clarke novel I don't know but I shouldn't have bothered.