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2001



July 30, 2002
DVD
USA
English

Jon Favreau. Vince Vaughn. Puff Daddy. Famke Janssen. Peter Falk. Jonathan Silverman. Three castmembers from THE SOPRANOS.

Made. Two dimwitted men go on a mission to New York City for a mob boss.

I wanted it to be better. The story really plays a backseat to the interaction between Jon and Vince. They really have the timing down. Jon as the serious, quiet, angry guy, and Vince as the cocky, nervous, talky idiot. I laughed a lot when they were talking. Vince's character wasn't sure exactly what was complimentary on their first class flight, for example. The DVD extras point out that the title was Jon's quote "Let's just get this movie Made". He and Vince were tired of waiting around for a film to start so Jon wrote it and they both got involved and for five million they made this. Falk is funny and tough. Puffy is surprisingly good and pretty funny himself. Big Pussy is quiet and drives the limo around. Silverman may not even have a line. I like him and I'm not sure what he was doing here. There isn't much to this, but it's fun to hang out with these characters. Vaughn has sort of cornered the market on his particular kind of humor. He's like a hyperactive kid who talks before thinking and then gets his feelings hurt if someone is rude to him.

Bonus points for having two of my favorite hotties. Spin City's Jennifer Esposito plays a Jersey club girl. And porn star Jenteal, who I am proud to say I recognized even though she used a fake name in the credits, plays a stripper (shockingly!). And any film that has a cameo by Saved By The Bell's Screech, and then disses him, can't be all bad.

7.0 Critical Consensus


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2001



July 28, 2002
DVD
Australia/Germany
English

Lantana--Love Is The Greatest Mystery

Anthony LaPaglia. Geoffrey Rush. Barbara Hershey. A cast of terrifice Australian actors.

LaPaglia is a detective enjoying a nooner with a woman who is not his wife. We learn they know each other from a dance class that LaPaglia's wife has dragged him to. Hershey plays a famous psychiatrist married to Rush. Among her patients is LaPaglia's wife. These are all characters in their 40s who are in relationships that aren't fulfilling them as much as they want them to. There is a gay man, having an affair with a married man. There is a wife who thinks her husband my be bisexual. A woman who is pretty sure her husband is steppng out. An attractive wife who needs to feel wanted, even if its by the 20-something guy she meets in a club. There is also a young couple, with three kids, who are so newly in love, that they can't seem to understand the problems these older couples are having.

There is also a missing woman that ends up affecting all the other characters. The mystery of her whereabouts is just the icing on the cake in this film. The story could have been about anything and the relationships in this movie still would have been compelling.

This is an adult film. Humans aren't perfect. They react to relationship problems in different ways and some of these ways are destructive to their partners and what they've built as a couple. Every actor is fantastic and although many motivations are left unsaid, we can 'feel' why they do what they do. It's nice to see 40-somethings who need to be needed in one way or another. I really liked the vibe and the pace of this film.

8.6 Critical Consensus


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2001

July 28, 2002
DVD
Czech Republic/USA
English

From Hell--Only The Legend Will Survive

Johnny Depp. MichaelVox Top Five Heather Graham. Ian Holm. Robbie Coltrane.

Actually better than I expected. Depp is great, as usual. Graham is hot as usual, and does a relatively admiral job with the accent. The art direction is fantastic, the streets look scary even before Jack the Ripper shows up. I haven't read the comic book that this is based on, but several of the shots seemed very comic-like. Creepy and full of suspense.

6.1 Critical Consensus


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2001

July 27, 2002
DVD
USA
English

Tilda Swinton. Goran Visnjic.

The Deep End. A good friend of mine saw this in the theater when it first came out and hated it. She thought that it was one implausibility after another. Because I had this impression before watching it, it turned out to be much better than I thought it would be. Plot-wise, there is a single mistake made early by Swinton's character and she spends the rest of the film trying to make up for it. This is the story of a mother who will do anything, regardless of how illogical or unneccesary, to protect her children. The photography is fantastic, not that Lake Tahoe needs any help in that department. The Deep End has many meanings in this film: a gay bar, the lake itself, the mother finding herself unable to get out of a problem she helped create. Swinton has proved herself to be a fantastic actress (ORLANDO, and the fantastic THE WAR ZONE) and she doesn't disappoint here either. Not the greatest, but not the train wreck I heard it was.

* Best Actress of 2001 for Tilda Swinton--Boston Film Critics Winner; Chicago Film Critics Nomination; Independent Spirit Awards Nomination; Online Film Critics Society Nomination
* Best Cinematography of 2001 for Giles Nuttgens--Independent Spirit Awards Nomination; Sundance Film Festival Winner
* Best Picture of 2001--Sundance Film Festival Nomination

8.3 Critical Consensus


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2002

July 27, 2002
Century 21
USA
English

The Road To Perdition--Every Father Is A Hero To His Son

Tom Hanks. Paul Newman. Jude Law. Jennifer Jason Leigh. Stanley Tucci. Dylan Baker. Shot by Connie Hall. Directed by Sam Mendes.

12-year-old son discovers that his father is a hitman.

The cast and crew is among the most decorated in film history. It would probably be harder for this film to turn out poorly, than to turn out fabulous. The pacing is slow, the mood dreary and cold. It was filmed in small towns around Lake Michigan, where I spent much of my formative years. The photography is perfect. Every craftsperson is at the top of their game, except the music, which I swear was note-for-note the same score as SIX FEET UNDER. This actually took me out of the film from time to time. However, with the exception of the music, this was the result of brilliant filmmakers put together in the service of a pretty good story.

While I was sitting in the theater, I was mesmerized. The performances were fantastic. Tom Hanks should be the most hated man in Hollywood. He makes everything seem so effortless. But I am more convinced than ever that he deserves every accolade, every penny, and every drop of power that he now enjoys in Hollywood. He is an actual actor. He isnít a movie star. His face shows us whatís going on inside him, even though his role here is quieter than usual. Paul Newman brings the sheer force of his Hollywood history to his role. He is full of integrity because we Ďknowí him through his countless other roles. In this role he has some unearned integrity that oozes from him, even though his profession is not one we should aspire to. Jude Law plays another hitman, who, by enjoying his profession gleefully, is more of a monster than Hanks, even though they basically do the exact same thing. So while I sat there watching, I was happy as can be.

Iíve had four days to think about this film. And the more I think, the less I like it. Itís not with the acting or the direction and it sure as hell isnít the way it was shot. Itís the story and the lack of character development. This is one film where the negative comments you read from people seem to have much more truth behind them than the positive one you felt while watching. I feel sort of betrayed.

There is Catholic imagery that only shows up to prove that Hanksí character is good. Leigh is among our greatest actresses but she has such little character development as to be a ghost. We should welcome her because when she isnít onscreen, there are no females to take her place. This movie was shot in that one rare area of the Midwest where women donít exist, I suppose. The character that Law plays only magnifies the problem with the central part of the film. That Hanks is loyal and doing his job because Newman helped him when he was younger. Hanks is a family man who prays and keeps his business separate from his home life. He doesnít relish the violence he has to inflict in the name of Newman. Law, on the other hand, is happy, joyful; he poses his victims for photographs. He has no family and we donít see him in church, therefore he is somehow a worse hitman. Both Law and Hanks work for the same man. They both kill people for a living. Law is creepy and has bad teeth and lives alone. Hanks dresses like a businessman, is well groomed and loves his family. This alone somehow makes Hanks a better man. The victims of Hanks are unknown to us, while the victims of Law are beloved by us.

My basic problem is that Hanks does not earn the love that we as the audience give him. It doesnít matter that he had a bad childhood, he is a killer, but we think heís cool. When Law kills someone, we see blood and hear screams. When Hanks does, itís clean, often off-camera, and the music takes over.

This film isnít without its charms. A scene where Newman and Hanks talk about the sonís discovery is quiet and says more without dialogue than more typically wordy films would. ďHe saw everything,Ē says Hanks. Newman answers, ďItís tough to see that for the first time, but then you turned out.Ē Is Hanks pissed that Newman forced him into the family business? Does Hanks think heís messed up and didnít Ďturn outí? Was Newman apologizing for Hanks having seen the same thing his son did all those years ago? We are forced to make up our own conclusions, which makes the film good. There is a shot outside in the rain in Chicago when Newman is surrounded by his men and Hanks is in the shadows that I may never forget. The time period is faithfully rendered, with the exception of choppy CGI work when we see old-town Chicago.

A better story having characters who donít appear to have a checklist of character traits, but simply are characters would have made the film less obvious and more thought provoking. We are told what to think by scenes in a familyís kitchen and at church. Bad guys smoke and arenít attractive. Good guys are quiet and have families.

The praise for this film is way overboard. It will surely be nominated for multiple Oscars. Iíd give a nomination to Conrad Hall for the photography and Hanks for inhabiting his role.


7.8 Critical Consensus


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2001

July 26, 2002
DVD
France/USA
English/Spanish

Mulholland Drive--A Love Story In The City Of Dreams

Naomi Watts. Laura Harring. Directed by David Lynch.

This was one of my top five films of 2001 and upon second viewing, I still believe this. In fact, watching this on DVD was better than in the theater. Mostly because of the intricate sound design that Lynch came up with. It is much scarier watching this on your TV alone at home than it was in a theater full of people.

I loved that entire philosophies of this film sprung up on the internet when it first came out. What does the box mean? What is the timeline? I read every word and agreed with many of the theories. They still hold up after watching again. The sex scenes are still hot, the ending still creepy, and the performance of Watts looks even better. I'd like to know where in Australia Watts has been hiding because she was unbelievable.

As this is a Lynch film, there are red herrings galore. What was the meeting in the board room all about? What's the deal with the cowboy? Why do we care about the director's wife and Billy Ray Cyrus? But this all makes the film more fun.

* Best Actress of 2001 for Naomi Watts--Boston Film Critics Nomination; Chicago Film Critics Winner; Online Film Critics Society Winner
* Best Director of 2001 for David Lynch--Academy Award Nomination; Boston Film Critics Winner; Cannes Film Festival Winner; Chicago Film Critics Winner; Los Angeles Film Critics Winner; Online Film Critics Society Winner; Toronto Film Festival Winner
* Best Picture of 2001--Boston Film Critics Winner; Broadcast Critics Association Nomination; Chicago Film Critics Winner; Cesar Award Winner; New York Film Critics Winner; Online Film Critics Society Winner
* Best Cinematography of 2001 for Peter Deming--Chicago Film Critics Nomination; Independent Spirit Award Winner; Online Film Critics Society Nomination
* Best Screenplay of 2001 for David Lynch--Online Film Critics Society Nomination

7.3 Critical Consensus


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2000

July 26, 2002
HBO
Germany/UK/USA
English

The Million Dollar Hotel. An FBI agent investigates the death of the son of a media tycoon, who fell off the roof of a seedy Los Angeles hotel inhabited by social misfits.

See my longer entry here


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2001

July 20, 2002
DVD
USA
English/Russian/Spanish

Denzel Washington. Ethan Hawke.

Training Day. Denzel deserved his Oscar win. I'm just as surprised as you are. I had heard that this was a routine police film about an out-of-control cop and a newby. Which it was. But somehow Denzel is such an acting stud that anything that comes out of his mouth has this sort of power that mere mortals can't possibly match. Hawke is not my favorite guy, but he leaves behind 'author-smart-guy Hawke' to play a new guy, eager to make a good impression and provide for his family. The fact that he isn't acted off the screen is a testament to his skill. Denzel is powerful as a guy in charge of a group of narco cops in L.A. He bends and breaks the rules with impunity. He stares at his young charge and seems to be making up dialogue on the spot. I believed that he was from the streets of L.A. He swaggered like the homies he was arresting. He went from being a serious role model cop, to funny jokester in a single breath.

The film crumbles under a single coincidence that couldn't possibly happen, which is the only thing keeping this from being something special. We know how its going to end and it ends exactly that way.

Watch this for the performances. Not just of Denzel and Ethan, but of Macy Gray and Dr Dre and Snoop Dog. Great acting, not-so-great story.

Denzel Washington won the Best Actor of 2001 from the Academy Awards, Boston Society of Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and was nominated for a SAG Award.
Ethan Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor of 2001 by the Academy Awards and SAG.

6.2 A Critical Consensus


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PAR-DELA LES NUAGES
(BEYOND THE CLOUDS)
1995


July 20, 2002
Sundance Channel
Italy/France/Germany
English/French/Italian

A film director imagines or remembers four stories involving partings between a man and a woman.

John Malkovich. Irene Jacob (RED). Sophie Marceau (BRAVEHEART). Vincent Perez. Jean Reno (THE PROFESSIONAL). Peter Weller (is ROBOCOP). Marcello Mastroianni. Jeanne Moreau.

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders.

Beautiful and dreamy series of stories about love, both passionate and unrequited. Malkovich plays a filmmaker who observes the pairings going on around him and he gets to partake in one himself. The little scenes in between the stories were directed by Wenders and they have that beautiful, bird's-eye-view, crane manipulation-type shot that he's become famous for. Malkovich does the voiceover in English, but switches to French for his scene. Peter Weller who is best known for being Robocop, does his entire character in French. This is a truly international production using international actors speaking three different languages. This film also stars two of the world's most beautiful women and one unknown to me, but who instantly rocketed to the top of the list. Irene Jacob plays a straight-laced woman who is followed by a hunky man to a church while they talk about love and satisfaction. Sophie Marceau is almost hard to look at, she's so beautiful, and Malkovich finds that simply going into a clothing boutique will eventually get him in the sack with her. And as this is a European film, we see _all_ of Marceau in her love scene. There are arguments and infidelity and teasing and beautiful bodies and mistresses and passionate sex and tearful goodbyes. The music is great, the locations beautiful, though usually cloudy, and the photography stunning.

The first vignette starred an Italian woman named Ines Sastre, who is absolutely stunning. She's like a more beautiful, thinner Cindy Crawford, with stronger eyebrows and Italian flair. Holy cow.

This is a good one to watch when you're already sort of tired. It's dreamy.

** Halliwell's


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1994

July 17, 2002
Videotape
USA
English

Four friends, newly graduated, try to survive in the real world in Houston; one makes a video documentary of their lives and becomes emotionally involved with another, an articulate rock musician, and with an ambitious TV executive.

At one time, this was the coolest movie ever about 20-something alienation. Now I just want the characters to grow up. Ethan Hawke as one of the snobbiest underachievers in movie history. Winona as a woman who just wants to hold on to her 'art', which seems to consist mainly of home movies. She certainly is adorable. Janeane Garofalo as the wacky slut. It is hard to believe that she's such a hottie now. It can't just be the terrible haircut she has, can it? And Steve Zahn is forgotten as a guy who's entire character is based on him being gay, although he only has five lines or so.

Good music and Ben Stiller still funny.


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BOOMTOWN
2002


July 15, 2002
PBS P.O.V.
USA
English

Documentary about Native Americans selling fireworks on reservations. The uneasy relationship between white folks and Indians, the strangeness of celebrating the holiday of Independence Day with people whose ancestors tried to kill all your ancestors, the legal differences between tribal land and the State of Washington, and the make-or-break business situation for most of these small dealers. Exciting shots of the big finale when most of the unsold merchandise is used on a basketball court on the night of July 4th.


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BANDITS
2001


July 14, 2002
DVD
USA
English

Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett.

Story (which is sort of based on a true pair) of bank robbers who are polite and non-violent. They go to the bank managers' homes the night before a robbery and eat dinner with them and then rob the bank early the next morning before anyone gets there. This results in the nickname, 'the sleepover bandits'. The cast is great, especially hypocondriac Thornton, and wacko Blanchett, who calls Bonnie Tyler's TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART, 'a haiku to lost love'. It's easy to see why both men fall for her. The Oregon/No Cal locations show off God's country in all its glory. You can tell they had fun making this.

6.3 Critical Consensus


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GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS
1992


July 14, 2002
IFC
USA
English

Four real estate salesmen are in competition to see who can sell the most, with the sack facing the two losers.

Jack Lemmon. Kevin Spacey. Al Pacino. Alan Arkin. Ed Harris. Alec Baldwin. Jonathan Pryce.

Take a look at that cast again. I have to confess that before I became a movie snob, I watched this when it first came out in 1992. And hated every minute of it. I didn't appreciate the casting or the Mamet language, I just saw pathetic people unhappy with their chosen occupation. I'm glad I gave it another chance.

This is as close to a male acting clinic as you can find in a motion picture. Alec Baldwin does more with his three minutes of screentime than any actor ever has. Lemmon is so perfect as the disheveled former wonderboy that THE SIMPSONS now uses his character as their official 'bumbling salesguy' whenever they need to. Spacey was just a kid, but holds his own against these other guys. The interplay between Harris and Arkin as they talk about their honor and manhood is great, and though I'm no fan of Pacino's later work, he makes magic with the script here as he reels in mark Pryce.

This is obviously a stage play. They only need one set, really. And it's a bit old-fashioned as only Pacino has invested in a cell phone. But I can now appreciate just how perfect the performances were.

Jack Lemmon won Best Actor of 1992 award from the National Board of Review.
Al Pacino was nominated for Best Supporting Actor of 1992 by the Academy Awards.

9.0 Critical Consensus


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THE SMITH FAMILY
2002


July 14, 2002
PBS P.O.V.
USA
English

Documentary about a perfect Mormon family, living in Utah, whose lives are shattered when it becomes clear that the husband and father has been sleeping with men and has infected both he and his wife with HIV.


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SUNSHINE STATE
2002


July 10, 2002
Camera 3
USA
English

Developers are eager to build on the coast of Florida where now only an old motel/restaurant stands. John Sayles is a workingman's Robert Altman, and he does a great job with a large cast. Standouts are the always terrific Angie Bassett, who returns to her hometown after leaving while pregnant at the age of 15. Edie Falco, TV's Mrs. Soprano, is surprisingly good as the manager of the restaurant. She has the wardrobe, hair, and walk of a native Floridian down, if not always the accent. Perhaps a bit long.

7.6 Critical Consensus


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ATANARJUAT
(THE FAST RUNNER)
2001


July 9, 2002
Towne Theater
Canada
Inuktitut

It's unique, if nothing else. I went on a day when it was about 100 degrees out and the vistas of never-ending ice flows and igloos soothed me as I sat in air-conditioned splendor. The film is nearly three hours long, but doesn't drag. It is hard to figure out who is who and what curse is being put on which person, but it mostly becomes clear by the end. There are shots in this film that I've never seen before. The one getting the most justifiable praise is when our hero escapes from an attempted murder and runs, while completely naked, over the ice flows. I mean, he's naked, barefoot, and running at top speed through icy puddles and jumping over cracks in the ice. The camera zooms in on his feet as they splash and begin bleeding. He falls in puddles, the bad men giving chase, the music thumping, his breath loud. Simply amazing. No stuntman, no body double, long shots that go far into the distance.

The story has something to do with a curse that an older generation had that follows through to their children. The time period is never mentioned. There is jealously and there are slutty girls and good girls and honest hardworking men and dickheads. We see igloos being built and seal being eaten. The dogsled is the only form of transportation and seaweed is often the only thing to burn for cooking purposes. And movie sex sounds the same in any language.

I feel that this film may be a bit overrated, but it is clearly like nothing we've seen before. And yes, I own NANOOK OF THE NORTH.

8.6 Critical Consensus


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LOVELY AND AMAZING
2001


July 5, 2002
Santa Monica
USA
English


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HATUNA MEUHERET
(LATE MARRIAGE)
2001


July 3, 2002
Towne Theater
Israel/France
Georgian/Hebrew

I'm still thinking about this one two weeks later. A 31 year old man makes the incredible mistake of remaining single. He is set up with hottie after hottie (seriously, you should see these actresses, who look like they stepped out of the pages of Hebrew Seventeen), but he doesn't like any of them. He is looking for passion and love, not a convenient set-up. After spurning a woman half his age who playfully dares him to kiss her and then lies there like a dead fish, he buys some groceries and heads to his lover's house. She is 34 and has a daughter from a previous relationship. She is beautiful, but a bit trashy. His father discovers this and all hell breaks loose.

What could have been a comedy is absolutely not played for laughs. Once you get past the possible 'domineering mother' jokes, you realize that the family is dead serious about who is acceptable to be seen with. The woman is threatened and her house is ransacked. The man is all but kicked out of his family.

There are touches that are perfect. After the woman is humiliated in front of her daughter, the oldest member of the boy's family, the grandma, lovingly touches her as if to say 'what can we do, this is the way it is'. The boy's younger sister, who should be the most progressive says 'I know my mother, she will never give up'. These women know that any of them could find themselves single and 34 and in love with a man who is above their station. We find that the father had his own affair many years back and it took a threat of bodily harm for him to end that relationship.

There is an incredibly honest sex scene between the lovers that finds them having sex, then pausing and talking, then stopping, then starting again, then talking. It was so real and raw. And when the woman's daughter crawls into bed with them the next morning, there is none of the uneasiness that we'd feel if it was an American film.

Very well done.

8.1 Critical Consensus


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REQUIEM FOR FRANK LEE SMITH
2002


June 30, 2002
PBS Frontline
USA
English


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THE DISH
2000


June 29, 2002
HBO
Australia
English

A power cut threatens the success of a team of Australian engineers, working under NASA supervision, who have been assigned to track Apollo II and relay to the world TV pictures of the first lunar landing.

8.6 Critical Consensus


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DAS VERSPRECHEN
(THE PROMISE)
1994


June 29, 2002
IFC
Germany/France/Switzerland
German

Lovers are separated for more than 20 years by the Berlin Wall.

8.9 Critical Consensus


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SOUTHERN COMFORT
2001


June 29, 2002
HBO
USA
English


0 comments






ELLING
2001


June 26, 2002
Camera 3 Sneak Preview
Norway
Norwegian

Oscar Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film of 2001.


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THE CLAIM
2000


June 24, 2002
DVD
UK/France/Canada
English

The owner of a mining town in the Sierra Nevada finds his past has come back to haunt him, in the persons of his abandoned wife and child.

6.2 Critical Consensus


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THE BOURNE IDENTITY
2002


June 23, 2002
AMC Saratoga
Czech Republic/USA
English

6.8 Critical Consensus


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MINORITY REPORT
2002


June 23, 2002
AMC Saratoga
USA
English

7.9 Critical Consensus


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THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
1999


June 22, 2002
Videotape
USA
English/German/French

After a billionaire steals a Monet from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, he is hounded by a female insurance agent determined to snare him.

6.3 Critical Consensus
** Halliwell's


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THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE
2001


June 20, 2002
DVD
USA
English

7.9 Critical Consensus


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13 CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ONE THING
2001


June 19, 2002
Camera 3
USA
English


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