The MichaelVox Movie Review Weblog
Proudly Spewing Unsolicited Film Opinion Online Since 1996


RUNAWAY BRIDE
1999


June 23, 2001
Satellite Dish

A fired newspaper columnist goes to find the thrice-bolting bride who cost him his job.

The only worthwhile thing about this film is that they use a U2 song during the opening credits.


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SCOUT'S HONOR
2001


June 23, 2001
P.O.V.

Surprisingly moving documentary of straight Petaluma 12 year old, who learns that gay men and boys are not allowed to join the boy scouts. He is encouraged by his parents to gather signatures and protest and march and he becomes a quite literate spokesman for the cause. He's just a normal kid who likes skateboarding and soccer and lives in a suburb. He becomes a hero almost in spite of himself. Interviews are shown of famous gay scouts and those on both side of the issue. It's too early to call this boy a hero, but he's pretty close.


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SEUNLAU NGAKIAU
TIME AND TIDE
2000


June 22, 2001
Towne Theater

I have no idea what happened in this film, but it sure was fun to look at. Has a bit of that John Woo 'good cop respects honorable bad guy' idea, but I don't know who was good or bad. There was a sweet scene involving a gun chase while rappelling down a tenement building. Also there is a slow motion toss of a grenade which is kicked back towards the bad guy. Not the greatest Hong Kong film, but had its moments.


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MEMENTO
2000


June 22, 2001
Towne Theater

This one is even better than you've heard. I was late seeing this. By the time I got to the theater MEMENTO had already tripled last year's Indy Film Champ CROUPIER. I went in not believing that it could be a great as advertised, but it was.

Guy with no short-term memory sets out to find the killer of his wife.

Guy Pearce is the guy without memory. Carrie Ann Moss has officially left THE MATRIX behind and Joey Pants is Teddy, a corrupt cop. The story is told backwards in about five minute increments. The first scene of the film is the last that happens. So while we watch, we learn that what we've already seen has a completely different meaning than we thought it did when we first saw it. This may be the single best reason for DVDs to exist. Hopefully, we'll be able to watch the film chronologically when the DVD is released.

The sheer invention of a guy who must tattoo himself and take polaroids simply to remember what kind of car he drives is a blast to watch. Go see it before it leaves the theater.


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WO DE FU QIN MU QIN
THE ROAD HOME
1999


June 19, 2001
Camera One

A Chinese man returns to his mountain village to bury his father and recounts the romance his parents had fifty years prior.

-->Directed.....Zhang Yimou [Ju Dou, Raise The Red Lantern, The Story of Qui Ju, To Live, Shanghai Triad]
-->Written.....Bao Shi
-->Young Di Zhao.....Zhang Ziyi [the cutey from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon]

Light as a feather, but gorgeously photographed love story, told by the only son of the couple many years later. A teacher comes from the city to a small mountain village to open the new schoolhouse. Ziyi plays the most beautiful single girl in the village. Their love affair becomes village legend.

I could probably watch Ziyi's face for 90 minutes and be entertained and there were some funny courting scenes, often involving food, but after it's over it just evaporates.


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JEROME
1999


June 17, 2001
Camera Cinema Club

A welder walks off his job, steals a car, and begins driving towards an artists' community in Arizona. Along the way he meets an attractive free-spirited hitchhiker who changes his life forever.

-->Written and Directed....Thomas Johnston [Raising Arizona, Millers Crossing, The Addams Family, Barton Fink, Striking Distance, The Hudsucker Proxy, Beverly Hills Cop III, The Horse Whisperer, O Brother Where Art Thou?] and David Elton [Gridlock'd, City Of Angels] and Eric Tignini [So I Married An Axe Murderer, Forrest Gump, Terminal Velocity, Nine Months, Mulholland Falls, Phenomenon, City Of Angels]
-->Wade Hamton.....Drew Pillsbury [Mulholland Falls]
-->Jane.....Wendie Malick [Dream On, Bugsy, The American President]

Basically a two-person set piece, but because it mostly takes place in cars, it had no hint of claustrophobia.

Wade Hamton is a quiet welder who is sick and tired of his boss looking over his shoulder during the work day. He clocks in at 8 a.m. and clocks out at 9 a.m. He quietly goes to his locker, gets his lunchbox, and gets in his car. It won’t start so he goes into his boss’ office and finds his car keys and then takes his car instead. On the way he picks up a piece of scrap metal and puts it in the back seat. He is apparently a frustrated metal sculpture artist.

He calmly drives away without saying a word. He holds up a postcard with an old Arizona town on it called ‘Jerome’. He’s heard it’s an artist’s community. He begins driving towards Arizona from Bakersfield. He passes a woman in front of a broken-down Mercedes. He goes to a rest area and when he comes out, he finds a boot in the trash can which he takes to incorporate into a sculpture of some sort. Jane, an attractive free-spirit in a sundress is sitting on his bumper and says ‘It must be my lucky day’. At first he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to pick up any hitchhikers but she politely accepts his refusal and walks on down the road. He pulls up next to her and picks her up and they’re off.

She’s conversational and witty. He’s honest to a fault. Within minutes he tells her that the car is stolen. She counters with ‘that’s ok, I have a gun.” He’s a bit afraid of her but she has an quality that seems trustworthy. The two of them head east in a stolen car with a gun onboard. Usually at this point the film would go in the same direction as any of the hundreds of other on-the-road-with-a-gun films that come out all the time. But in a surprising number of ways, it goes north when you expect south.

There are long scenes in which nothing happens but driving. The soundtrack is much sparcer than you’d imagine. The radio in the car is never played once the two characters get into the car. The conversations are natural, starting and stopping whenever. She naps, she reads, and he stays quiet.

She is naturally sexy in her sundress. She’s a bit weathered, but has a happy disposition. She is much more trusting than she should be. After all, she’s an attractive woman getting into a car with a stranger.

The mood of the film is hopeful with an undercurrent of danger. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but with the flash-forwards we can tell it’s not good. The guy appears to be a normal easy-going man, but then we haven’t spent time with him for very long. He’s honest (he even punched out before walking off his job). He’s less sleazy than many men who have an apparently willing woman in his car. He just seems good, but again, we know something’s going to happen, but we don’t know what.

The leads are both attractive and we don’t know much about either of their pasts but we know that the man is happy to be out of his dead-end job. She nurtures his artistic aspirations and it makes him happy. This accounts for a great deal of her attractiveness. She makes him believe in himself.

A long scene when the guy runs over a broom is great. There is a funny sex scene that starts out very touchingly when he picks up Jane for the second time. She scoots over to the middle seat and wipes tears from her eyes. At first he doesn’t know what to do, but she seem so sad that he puts his arm around her. She leans in to his chest. Keep in mind this is all happening very slowly. She then begins kissing his neck and licking his ear. This leads to them having sex off the highway in the front seat with legs sticking out of windows.

I thought it was wonderful. It created a mood of a slow, hot desert day. It showed two characters with time on their hands and in no hurry. The two leads were attractive and real sounding.

Johnston and Tignini attended the screening. David Spade was Executive Producer. They knew him from high school.


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FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
1994


June 13, 2001
Videotape

A confirmed bachelor chases the woman of his dreams from one wedding to another.

See the U2 Pop Culture Database entry.


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TWO GIRLS AND A GUY
1997


June 13, 2001
Independent Film Channel

-->Written and Directed.....James Toback [The Pick-Up Artist, Bugsy]
-->Blake Allen.....Robert Downey Jr. [Weird Science, Back To School, The Pick-Up Artist, Less Than Zero, Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam, 1969, Chances Are, True Believer, Air America, Soap Dish, Chaplin, Short Cuts, Hearts And Souls, Natural Born Killers, Home For The Holidays, Restoration, One Night Stand, U.S. Marshalls, Bowfinger, Ally McBeal]
-->Carla Bennett.....Heather Graham [MichaelVox's Top Five List, Twins, Drugstore Cowboy, Twin Peaks, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Six Degrees Of Separation, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Swingers, Boogie Nights, Bowfinger]
-->Louise Lou Johnson.....Natasha Gregson Wagner [Daughter of Natalie Wood, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, High Fidelity]

Two women discover that they're dating the same actor, and confront him about his duplicity.

A one-set piece with just three actors. It could have been worse. Downey must try to explain how he could tell each of the women the same thing and still believe it. Wagner is cute and spacey. Graham is a goddess. Downey shows again that he is probably the most talented heroin abuser in Hollywood history. Not great, but the dialogue seems natural.

5.0 Maltin


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SWORDFISH
2001


June 12, 2001
AMC Saratoga

-->Directed.....Dominic Sena [Kalifornia, Gone In Sixty Seconds]
-->Gabriel Shear.....John Travolta [Welcome Back Kotter, The Boy In The Plastic Bubble, Carrie, Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Urban Cowboy, Blow Out, Staying Alive, Perfect, Look Who's Talking, Look Who's Talking Too, Pulp Fiction, White Man's Burden, Get Shorty, Broken Arrow, Phenomenon, Michael, She's So Lovely, Face/Off, Primary Colors, The Thin Red Line, The General's Daughter]
-->Stanley Jobson.....Hugh Jackman
-->Ginger.....Halle Berry [Goddess, Strictly Business, The Last Boy Scout, Jungle Fever, Boomerang, CB4, The Program, The Flintstones, Executive Decision, Girl 6, Bulworth, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge]
-->Agent A.D. Roberts.....Don Cheadle [Hamburger Hill, Colors, Devil In A Blue Dress, Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, Rosewood, Volcano, Boogie Nights, Bulworth, Out Of Sight, The Rat Pack, Fail Safe, Traffic]

Hacker is recruited by rich guy to break into a computer system for ten million dollars.

I have no idea what this was about. All I can say is that it wasn't painful to watch. We all know they never get computer-related films correct. Why do they feel the need to have text going across a screen make noise? Why does the hacker have to say everything he's typing? Because hacking as it really is, is boring indeed. Anyone remember THE NET? Some of the hacking is cool, or at least, unique. This film marks the first time that a hacker has been both given a blow job and had a gun held to his head as he tries to break into the Defense Department system. The computer at Travolta's house is cool with seven screens all mounted on a modern sculpture-type thing. There is an explosion at the beginning that was pretty sweet, taking the MATRIX 360 degree thing a step further. Unfortunately nothing after it lived up to expectations. There were cool cars and good shootouts but no reason to root either for or against any of the characters.

Travolta was appealing as a smooth rich guy with twisted loyalties. Jackman was fine, although there is no chance that a hacker as skillful as he looks like him. Halle Berry plays and ornament and we're not sure what to make of her. She reportedly received a $500,000 bonus for taking her top off and the scene is set up with such fanfare that you completely leave the film and say to yourself 'that's Halle Berry and she's topless'. There's no doubt that she's a hottie, but I prefer the scene she has where she holds a gun while dressed in spectacular lingerie (again, don't go looking for a reason in this film). I didn't hate it, but I felt removed.


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BLOWN AWAY
1994


June 7, 2001
Videotape

A Boston bomb disposal expert hunts down an escaped Irish bomber who knows his guilty secret and is killing his friends.

See the MichaelVox U2 Pop Culture Database.


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SOUS LE SABLE
(UNDER THE SAND)
2000


June 5, 2001
Camera 3

I've had a soft spot for Charlotte Rampling ever since THE NIGHT PORTER which had a little something to offend everybody in it. In this one she plays the loving wife of a French lawyer. While vacationing at the beach she awakes from a nap to find her husband missing. She speaks of him as if he was just back at their apartment.

It was completely French in its story and ambiguity. The ending does not provide any answers. There are nice touches in the filmmaking. We don't hear every conversation, just like real life. Some are behind doors or in cars, etc. Rampling is incredibly sexy, though more than a little nutty. She is in every frame of the film and she's strong enough to pull it off. A good conversation-starter.


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PEARL HARBOR
2001


June 1, 2001
Century 21

-->Directed.....Michael Bay [Indecent Proposal, Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon]
-->Written.....Randall Wallace [Braveheart]
-->Cinematography.....John Schwartzman [Heathers, Benny & Joon, Airheads, The Rock, Armageddon]
-->Captain Rafe McCawley.....Ben Affleck [School Ties, Dazed And Confused, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting, Armageddon, Shakespeare In Love, Forces of Nature, Dogma, Boiler Room, Bounce]
-->Captain Danny Walker.....Josh Hartnett [Cracker, The Virgin Suicides]
-->Lieutenant Evelyn Stewart.....Kate Beckinsale [Much Ado About Nothing, Cold Comfort Farm, Shooting Fish, The Last Days Of Disco, Brokedown Palace]
-->Petty Officer Doris 'Dorie' Miller.....Cuba Gooding, Jr. [Coming To America, Boyz N The Hood, A Few Good Men, Judgment Night, Outbreak, The Tuskegee Airmen, Jerry Maguire, As Good As It Gets, Men Of Honor]
-->Colonel Jimmy Doolittle.....Alec Baldwin [Beetlejuice, Married To The Mob, Working Girl, Talk Radio, She's Having A Baby, Great Balls Of Fire, The Hunt For Red October, Miami Blues, Glengarry Glen Ross, Prelude To A Kiss, Malice, The Juror, Heaven's Prisoners, Looking For Richard, Mercury Rising, Notting Hill]

Two childhood friends fall for the same woman on the eve of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Pretty terrible. However, the uproar from the Japanese American community appears to be unfounded. There is one character, a Japanese spy, who apparently never existed. But the Japanese soldiers are all honorable and nervous, just like the U.S. ones. Affleck gives his worst performance as his accent comes and goes and his eyes roll to show emotional heaviness. He just can't pull it off. Hartnett is quieter and therefor seems smarter (the less dialogue in something like this, the better). Beckinsale is hot and nice and smart and why wouldn't both guys fall for her? These two guys, by the way, are the two best pilots before the war, get transferred together, are away from the barracks during the raid, lead a crew to an unbombed airstrip, get in the two remaining undamaged planes, personally shoot down 25% of all Japanese planes that went down, land safely, help pull men out of sinking boats, get recruited for a top secret mission, bomb Japan, crash land successfully, and get the girl. Are you kidding me?

It's like a pop-film quiz as you see shades of every movie you've ever seen. I'm a huge sucker for patriotic cornball (I loved Armageddon, I'm embarrassed to say), but this one didn't get me at any point.

The bombing scenes were pretty cool and when the Arizona blows up it's unforgettable.


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