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


2004

July 5, 2004
Showtime
USA
English

Story about hookers in a fictional Nevada brothel. Tries to get behind the giggles. One woman leaves to marry the man who thought she was a stewardess. One woman thinks she's saving children from pedophiles by dressing as a school girl. Another wants to be a normal PTA-attending mother, but fears for the impression she makes on her young daughter. The manager of the place, played by the great Amy Madigan, only stays because she can't find work anywhere else. There is nothing here that you can't learn from any of the stripper documentaries, or the porn documentaries, or, believe it or not, HBO's G-String Divas, which focused on a different girl and her personal problems in her chosen career each episode.

This was really disappointing.


0 comments




1977

July 5, 2004
Showtime
USA
English
89 minutes

For They Shall Inherit The Earth...Sooner Than You Think -- EMPIRE OF THE ANTS.

You know when there's a movie you remember from your childhood with complete joy and then you sit down and see how great it was, even all these years later? This was not that movie. I can't believe that I once thought this was the coolest thing ever. Terrible from start to finish. Notable only because of the wacky fashions that the characters wore, and the appearance of both Joan Collins and the boss on CHiPs.


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2000

July 2, 2004
TMC
UK / USA
English / Spanish / Vietnamese

A Delicious Comedy Of Table Manners -- WHAT'S COOKING?

In Los Angeles, the Thanksgiving celebrations overlap of four differing American families: African American, Jewish, Latino, and Vietnamese.

Basically a checklist of racial stereotypes all connected by food preparation.

The Black family is the most prosperous, with mother-in-law expressing her opinion on every possible food topic. An estranged son also is added to the mix. I'm always happy to see Alfre Woodard. As the family with the most money, they of course pick up the organic turkey.

The Vietnamese family makes a turkey half coated in pepper sauce. Noodles are included in the meal. The daughter has to hide her boyfriend so as not to "dishonor the family". The son claims to be studying too hard at college to be able to make it home. Mother says "studies come first". One casting issue is that Joan Chen plays the mother. Of a Vietnamese family. Her name is Chen. Of course grandma lives with them and offers snippets of advice, and teenage son wears sports jerseys and acts like a gangsta.

The Jewish family has a lesbian daughter who has brought her longtime girlfriend back home. However, they must keep their secret from the rest of the family during the meal. They have marshmallows and other "wacky Jewish food". George Costanza's mother makes an appearance in all her red-haired glory.

The Latin family seems to have the most fun. They buy and cook the most food, tamales, tortillas, and a huge turkey. Extra deserts. Their angst is in the estranged father of the family being invited without the mother's knowledge.

Each meal needs to have a blow-up eventually. It wouldn't be a Thanksgiving film without one.

The big ending involving the Vietnamese family was almost laughable in its afterschool special mentality. It seemed to be a plot device simply to connect the families.

The music tells us which house we're about to enter. There is mariachi, then klezmer, then that borderline racists chingy music when we find ourselves in the Vietnamese kitchen. One truthful part is the way that several members of the Latin family insist on discussing both Bruce Lee and "Jackie Chang" with the Asian boy their sister has brought home.

A noble failure about the great melting pot of America. I must say that I was hungry after watching.

6.4 Critical Consensus
***^ Ebert
** Berardinelli
* Halliwells


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2002

June 30, 2004
DVD
USA / Germany / Italy / UK / Netherlands
English / Gaelic
166 minutes

America Was Born In The Streets -- THE GANGS OF NEW YORK.

I found it to be overly long. Well acted, especially by Daniel Day Lewis, but ultimately unsatisfying. Dark and violent, which is usually fine with me, but in this case I didn't feel any connection with the characters. Scorsese is a master with the angles as usual. Nice use of Mr. Gabriel's "Signal To Noise" without words during the first battle. Probably most interesting to me in its history lessons. DiCaprio should just give up on the accent for all future films.

7.2 Critical Consensus
***^ Ebert
*** Berardinelli


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2004



June 29, 2004
Oakridge
USA
English
115 minutes

Behind Every Great Love Is A Great Story -- THE NOTEBOOK.

I fell for this thing hook, line, and sinker. Present-day oldtimer James Garner reads to Gena Rowlands from a book about two young lovers back in the 40s meeting and falling in love during a summer vacation. Realistic and funny and touching--as well as the nervousness coupled with feelings of invincibility that all young lovers feel. Captured perfectly. Red-hot arguments turn to red-hot make-out sessions.

Rachel McAdams is so charismatic that she seems to glow when she smiles. Gosling is all aw-shucks, but underneath he is proud of his humble lifestyle.

I liked this one a lot.

5.1 Critical Consensus
***^ Ebert
**^ Berardinelli
**^ EW


0 comments




2004

June 29, 2004
Oakridge
USA
English / French / Russian
128 minutes

Life Is Waiting -- THE TERMINAL

Enjoyable, if pretty light, story of a guy from a fictional Russian/Baltic-ish country whose homeland undergoes a coup just as he arrives at JFK. His passport is no longer valid and he is forced to live in the airport until the US Government acknowledges the new government.

Hanks is as good as you'd expect. He masters an accent with skill. The lighting and music were pure Speilberg. We never have to decide how we feel because he does it for us. Stanley Tucci plays a Customs guy who is by-the-book to the point of being blind to the way things are. There is really no doubt as we watch this who will come out victorious.

There's one of those scenes where a rag tag band of people use items at their disposal to help one of their members woo a woman. There is a big reveal at the end that choked me up even though I pissed at the way I was played.

Technically flawless, but without much soul.

4.9 Critical Consensus
***^ Ebert
*** Berardinelli
**^ EW


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2004



June 29, 2004
Oakridge
USA
English
122 minutes

The Temperature Where Freedom Burns -- FAHRENHEIT 9/11.

I've spent several dozen hours both before and after seeing this film reading the many opinions about what exactly this film means, what it is and isn't, who's on what side of the issue, etc. I've read the Hitchens and the Slate and seen the New York Post guy on TV and listened to Ebert and Roeper talk about the greatness. I've read the National Review's take and David Brooks' Op Ed New York Times tongue-in-cheek rant. Tonight I will read the Entertainment Weekly cover story and tomorrow I'll probably watch the Charlie Rose interview. This melding of politics and film is too exciting for me to avoid. After all, while living in DC I actually ordered a pizza for my roommates and I to eat while watching the NAFTA debates on CSPAN.

I've also heard from people who used to work on Michael Moore's crew, back before Columbine, who told me what a complete asshole he is.

But none of that matters to me. I consider him a national treasure. I have every episode of every TV show he's ever done. I've watched him force an insurance company to give a guy a life-saving transplant. I've seen the Christmas Voicebox Choir sing at the Phillip Morris offices. I've seen him fill a boat up with black and latin people and then storm the beaches of Connecticut. I am not a gullible person. Michael Moore is a hero to me, despite, or perhaps because of, his ability to piss so many people off.

I don't throw out all of what he said in BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE because he craftily edited the scenes for stronger effect. Filmmakers do this all the time. I know he didn't walk into a bank and walk out with a gun four minutes later. I'm not stupid. In this film, he shows an Iraqi boy flying a kite in the sunshine the day before we began bombing, and then shows an angry grandmother standing over rubble the day after. Of course it wasn't summer camp before we got there. And of course we didn't target that grandmother's family.

People are to the point now that they're mad that he implies so much without saying it. He puts pictures on the screen, speaks only in complete truths, except when he's clearly being ironic or using his own opinions, and lets us decide. Are the people who are against this film so afraid that we can't decide for ourselves? Give us a bit more credit.

I realize that a Congressman cannot sign his son or daughter up to go serve in Iraq. I realize that before appearing on TV, politicians need to get hair and makeup done. I realize that this film cannot be called a documentary and Moore has said as much himself. Moore has the camera. He gets to decide what goes in it.

I've heard Moore's quotes when he speaks to European audiences. Much of his humor doesn't come across on paper. He's called Americans "stupid" and called the terrorists "freedom fighters".

To the first point I give you the scene in this film when he visits the small town in Virginia, I believe, that was mistakenly announced as a terrorist target. The response he got when asking what exactly the terrorists might hit in their small town, more than one resident says "they could hit the Wal-Mart". Yeah. An Islamic extremist is planning to attack a rural Wal-Mart for maximum terror effect. I would, however, substitute Moore's quote of "stupid" with "narcissistic". Whenever the terror alert is raised, every local newscast begins speculating on which local building or bridge is atop the list of targets. Get over yourselves, people. They will not be at your 4th of July parade.

To the "freedom fighter" thing. Get out a history book and look at how the Colonists won the American Revolution. By being terrorists. By hiding in trees, instead of marching in formation. By quick strikes instead of planned and announced attacks. By sometimes wearing the clothing of the other side.

Putting all that manipulation stuff aside, it's an interesting and funny film. He makes people look stupid. Both the powerful, like Rummy and Cheney and Bush, and the not-so-powerful, like the woman who sticks her foot in her mouth in the park across from the Whitehouse.

The free ride this president has gotten from the people and the press is really remarkable. Especially in the aftermath of Clinton who was nearly ruined along with the very office of President, simply for getting a blowjob in the oval office from someone who wasn't his wife. The difference between the hatred of Clinton and the forgiveness of Bush is something I still simply can't fathom.

Bush's combination of arrogance and dimwittedness is something I hope to never see again in my lifetime.

But what about the film? Go see it. If you hate Moore and the left, you'll find much ammunition here. If you hate Bush and the right, you'll cheer as you finally hear someone echo your thoughts. If you aren't either, you'll enjoy an entertaining fact-filled movie, and be able to talk about it at your next cocktail party.

There are parts of it that infuriated me towards Moore. He shows great restraint in not showing us the planes hit the Towers, instead having the screen stay black. But a moment later, while showing Bush stunned and unmoving as he helps read that book to the schoolchildren, he can't keep his mouth shut. These shots of Bush sitting there for nine minutes, doing nothing are powerful and scary. Moore didn't need any voiceover at all, much less one that says "what is he thinking?"

Will it change your mind? Probably not. But think for a moment. If just one of the many allegations against Bush is true, wouldn't that warrant some sort of investigation?

7.5 Critical Consensus
***^ Ebert
**^ Berardinelli
***^ Gleiberman
**** LaSalle
**^ Lumenick


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2003

June 20, 2004
HBO
USA
English
83 minutes

Documentary about a Bay Area woman named Susan Tom who adopted a dozen special needs kids. Some have no legs, one has a disease that makes him reject his own skin, one has horribly burned, etc. You quickly get past how she could possibly handle simply feeding these kids and move on to how she can keep them all safe. I didn't for a minute believe that she didn't care as much for these kids as for her biological ones. And you can quickly get past the physical malformations to see the person beneath. First crushes, dangerous sexual urges, confidence and crying are all over the place. Susan is pretty impressive.

Her grocery bill runs $600 a week. She actually loads the multiple Albertson's carts right into her van and drives them home with her after shopping. There are scenes of the collagen-deficient 18-year-old Anthony, being given a bath where you can just about feel the excruciating pain that he goes through in simply staying alive.

There is also humor. When you have a group of kids without limbs, your Halloween haunted house takes on a special significance. Several of the girls have an almost superhuman optimism.

A scene that hit close to home was when Joe, by far the most troubled of the kids, visits his birth mother, a recovering meth addict, all but begging for her to take him back.

There is some concern that Ms. Tom takes care of these kids because the state pays more for hard-to-place children than for "normal" foster kids. Indeed, she has no job--where would she find the time, really. And watching her dismiss a crying teenage girl who really needs to talk to her about her feelings after attending her first college counseling class, you begin to wonder how on earth she finds enough time to give the kids the nurturing that they need. There simply is not enough time in the day.

**** Curiel


2 comments




2000

June 19, 2004
DVD
USA
English / Tagalog
88 minutes

One Night Can Change A Lifetime -- THE DEBUT.

Perhaps over-heralded as the first mainstream Filipino-American film. The acting and story are nothing special. It's the little touches that hit home and made me laugh in recognition of my Filipino In-Laws. The story revolves around a high school graduate who is headed not to medical school like his father wants (or insists), but to art school where his heart lies. He has mostly white and latin friends, is considered a "coconut" by his contemporaries. His sister is having sort of a debutante ball and birthday party, but he would rather be at a white kid's house party.

There's a hot love interest that causes him to see his culture in a different way.
There are pseudo-gangbangers with tricked out Civics.
There is a brutal pick-up basketball game.
There is a drunk white girl who actually calls our hero a "chink", even though they both attend high school in Orange County. I found this impossible to believe. His response: "I'm not Chinese".
There is the inevitable line dancing at the party.
There is the stern grandfather, in town for the party.
There is a "you got served" dance-off.
There is mid-sentence language switching.
There is the paranoid guy (sort of a Filipino Spike Lee Furious Styles type).
There is a white husband who tries to explain that we say "asian" not "oriental".
There is a guy who after all this time living in So Cal, still mixes up his "Ps" and "Fs". "It wouldn't be a pair pight."
There are kitchens full of "aunties", which is something with which I'm quite familiar.

And there is food. Holy cow is there food.

But if these characters were white, there would be no film.

If you are Filipino or know Filipinos, you should see this film simply to support the idea of making another, better, film about the experience of not exactly belonging in either American or Filipino culture.

A funny DVD extra is the student film of the writer which is a mockumentary about a Filipino gang. At the park, while playing Mai Jong, one doo-ragged guy slaps down a tile yelling "Domino, Motherfucker!" in true Ice Cube style. "You've got the wrong game, bro" says another player.

*** Ebert
** Guthmann


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2004

June 18, 2004
HBO
USA
English
85 minutes

Documentary about three jockeys in different stages of their career. It describes the dangers of the rides themselves as the jockeys are strapped to 1200 pound animals. We see horrific accidents where horses need to be destroyed. As a recent 60 Minutes piece said, this is the only sport where an ambulance follows the athletes. We also hear about the non-stop obsession with weight loss. We see a locker room bathroom stall with a special toilet that simply couldn't be used for anything except vomiting.


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2004

June 16, 2004
Camera 3
USA
Arabic / English
84 minutes

Documentary about the Al Jazeera television network which broadcasts out of Qatar. It will not hold many surprises to viewers who know just how controlled information is in the Persian Gulf during wartime.

Al Jazeera is important as it is not state-run and has been condemned by both Arab countries and our very own U S of A. The military and government don't like it when they don't control what people see on the air. Al Jazeera is a professional newsgathering organization that shows its viewers the results of war. It is not anti-American anymore than CNN is anti-Arab.

Something I didn't know about was the apparent targeting of an Al Jazeera reporter on a Baghdad rooftop by American planes. Claiming that gunfire had been seen coming from the building, American planes bombed the offices of Al Jazeera causing the death of a popular frontline reporter. It seems to have been too precise to be simply an accidental targeting mistake.

Former BBC reporter Hassan Ibrahim makes a compelling (and large) character as he navigates between Arabic and English, explaining in frank detail how different sides in the war might see facts differently.

The US Military is seen to be a bit bumbling, especially when they announce the famous deck of cards with targets listed and a full news conference, only to not release any of the decks to the large assembled press pool. Even the most rah-rah networks can't hide their mockery of those in charge of the military press briefings.

There is also the accusation that the cheering crowd who watched the statue of Saddam come down in that famous footage were not Iraqi at all. One producer says "I'm from Iraq. Don't you think I would recognize a Baghdad accent?"

The film is about the struggle between the military to control the flow of information, and the networks (in all countries) to get the most up-to-date and accurate information that they can. It is surprisingly evenhanded.

8.5 Critical Consensus
**** Curiel
*** Ebert
*** Caro


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2003

June 16, 2004
Camera 3
Canada
English / Spanish
145 minutes

Documentary about the history, benefits, and most importantly, detriments of the legal entity known as the Corporation. At 145 minutes, this film isn't short. But what amazed me was that it packed more information into its running time than any documentary I've ever seen, and I see a lot of them. About one-third of all films I see can be described as non-fiction.

Recently there has been a number of docs getting commercial release: CONTROL ROOM, FAHRENHEIT 911, FOG OF WAR, SUPERSIZE ME, to name just a few. Most people, and I am no exception, go into these films with a point of view. You are for or against GW Bush, you know McDonald's is bad for you, you are aware that the US military skews the coverage of war. The chances of a documentary changing your mind are pretty slim. It's more of a solidification of beliefs already held.

The thing about THE CORPORATION is, unless you're living off the grid in the mountains somewhere, you can't be inherently _against_ corporations. You can't be anti-corporation at your core. They run our communication, entertainment, clothing, and scientific communities. We can be against some of the bad things they do, but it's hard to rail against corporations while enjoying a Venti Mocha from Starbucks, which I enjoy quite often, I must say.

The film had to do several tricky things. Make us understand how corporations came into being in the legal sense, let us see that some corporations are doing their best to answer to both their community and their shareholders, while also showing us how dangerous they can be.

At the risk of sounding like a know-it-all I also have to say that I usually don't learn much at these documentaries. If it's a subject I am interested in, I have usually read about it before seeing a film about it. THE CORPORATION was so jam-packed with info that my head was spinning. I kept saying to myself, you have to remember this fact, only to be given another thing I had no idea about. The trouble seems to have started when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations had the same rights as individuals, with the same protections as people had. The film then sets out to psychoanalyze what sort of human a corporation is. In the course of this analysis, the new info (at least to me) came fast and furious.

I didn't know that Bechtel privatized the water supply in Bolivia, making it illegal to collect rainwater. I didn't know that the first corporation was formed to pump out water from coal mines in England. I didn't know that there was a CEO of a carpet company, a man named Ray Anderson, who had pledged to be self-sustaining in the next few years. I didn't know that there wasn't a law in Florida banning a news report from being purposely false. I didn't know that dairy cow supplements had not been "the most thoroughly tested product in human history", but rather injected into a few lab mice. I felt like I needed a companion text book to follow along.

This fact-packing made it much more interesting than, say, Supersize Me, where we know exactly what's going to happen as it happens. That film survives on its humor, with small patches of information. This one somehow connects all its facts into a coherent package.

I need to go back to something. I grew angry, as expected, when I saw the sweatshops and human rights violations. But I have bought cheap t-shirts, and eaten at chain restaurants, and drank overpriced coffee. I don't know what the solution is. Neither does the film. It doesn't rail against corporations, but while watching you can't help but feel uneasy about the whole thing. When the courts ruled that actual human genes can be patented, it suddenly became no laughing matter.

I was most impressed with the way that so many facts were wrapped up so palatably.

**** LaSalle
***^ Schwarzbaum


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THE LIFE AND ART OF CHARLES CHAPLIN
2003


June 14, 2004
TCM
USA
English
132 minutes.

I was not looking forward to a more than two hour documentary on the genius of Charlie Chaplin. I already know he's a genius. There are scenes in his films that are etched in all of film-memory. I didn't need to be reminded.

But the thing is, I did need to be reminded. I thought I'd give it 15 minutes and by then it was too late. I was hooked. Geniuses of today (Depp, Downey, Allen, Scorsese (can we please just make him poet laureate of film for life now?), etc.) are interviewed taking apart particular scenes in specific Chaplin films. I learned plenty about his life and I gained a new appreciation of his films and what they meant in the context of their time.

Incredibly interesting from start to finish.


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2004

June 13, 2004
Camera Cinema Club
USA
English
95 minutes

One of the producers of Chicago Hope decides that his actress wife isn't getting the roles she deserves and mounts a small theater production of FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE. It is a true story with true participants. His friends call him crazy, things go awry, he spends much more money than he expects to.

But in the end, this film is the story of a privileged producer who lives in Venice, California, calling in the favors of his more-famous friends, and whining about not being able to cheaply mount another unwanted theater production. We see Hector Elizondo, Kathy Baker, David E. Kelley, Mandy Patinkin, and Les Moonves.

We don't care if the production succeeds. We don't care if these two people can't "express their art". It seemed much longer than 95 minutes.

*** Meyer


0 comments




1994

June 10, 2004
TMC
USA
English
93 minutes

One Girl. Two Guys. Three Possibilities -- THREESOME.

At College, one woman and two men share a room and their sexuality.

Not terrible story of suite-mates at UCLA who are attracted to people in their triangle who are in turn attracted to the other member of the triangle. Some funny moments. Reasonably charismatic actors in one of the Baldwins, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Josh Charles of the late, great Sportsnight.

*** Ebert
** Berardinelli

0 comments




2003



June 10, 2004
DVD
USA
English
88 minutes

No Special Effects. No Stuntmen. No Stereotypes. No Other Feeling Comes Close -- STEP INTO LIQUID.

There is no other sport that remotely approaches the beauty of surfing. I could watch surf footage for hours at a time without getting bored. Each wave is different and therefore each ride is different. The athletes are attractive and tan, the sun is usually out, the beaches are beautiful. It's hard to look away.

This documentary adds to those great things by having fantastic surf photographers in the water with these surfers. We see the reefs, the undertows, the sheer size of the waves from inside the water. The story, such as it is, is just following people around the world as they sort of use surfing as a bridge across different cultures. But it's really just a travelogue on waves. Which is enough for me.

6.8 Critical Consensus
*** Nevius


0 comments




2003



June 9, 2004
Camera 7
UK
English
112 minutes

It Can Take A Lifetime To Feel Alive -- THE MOTHER.

A woman in her mid-sixties loses her husband and begins living like she wished she always had. She moves in with her children, to their obvious chagrin. She becomes more outspoken, picks up long-forgotten art tools. And most importantly, she has loud, passionate, sloppy, realistic sex. This is a revelation to her. She and her elderly husband were in love to be sure, but it had clearly moved from a physical to more of an emotional bond. With his death, she discovers, to her delight, that feelings of ecstasy are no longer lost to her.

Lead Actress Anne Reid is 69 years old. She is in no way a Hollywood actress who is still sexy even over the prohibited (at least in America) age of 45. She isn't Susan Sarandon or Charlotte Rampling or Helen Mirren. She looks just like your grandmother. She isn't a sporty dresser, doesn't have good bone structure, is the personification of "frumpy".

However--and I'm not sure how they managed to do this--I believed to my core, that she could have successfully seduced the man half her age and he would have enjoyed it. She at first makes lunch for, then converses with, and eventually ends up orally pleasuring the contractor who is fixing up her son's London home. As he is a married man, employed by one of her children, while sleeping with the other, she realizes that this is a more than risky move. It is selfish, and she has spent the latter part of her life as unselfishly as she could. She needs to grab a few things for herself before it's too late.

To see her come alive during and after these sexual encounters is something to behold. She had clearly been held dormant for too long. These scenes weren't exactly erotic, it was a bit like walking in on your grandparents, but they weren't offputting either. I sort of liked watching a woman who was sure her ticket had been punched for the last time, getting off. It was strangely liberating. She had been resigned to never being touched again, apart from the undertaker.

Again, it was believable that a frumpy housewife from the English countryside could re-establish her sexuality with a handsome, rugged man, half her age.

Besides this sexual aspect is the larger storyline about how we wish the elderly would stay away from us. Her kids could not be less happy about mom coming into London to live. As this is a quiet English film, there is slow pacing and character development. Thank you for making this and thank you to Reid for being brave enough to do what the role required.

6.8 Critical Consensus
***^ Ebert
**** Stein
*** Wilmington


0 comments




(How To Get The Man's Foot Outta Your Ass)
2003


June 9, 2004
Camera 7
USA
English
108 minutes

A father. A son. A revolution. -- BAADASSSSS!

Story of the making of Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song in 1971. Mario Van Peebles plays his own father who through sheer will completed the film on his own terms. Fascinating look into guerrilla filmmaking, writing bad checks, hiding from the unions. Creative and had a good 70s look.

Two things bothered me. Either the sound was terrible at my screening or it was purposely supposed to be muddy in a 70s way. It was hard to decipher the dialogue over the music.

A larger problem was the importance given to the 1971 film. I remember learning about it when I was learning about film, and I realize that it was important to black audiences and low-budget audiences alike. But this film makes it appear that had this film not opened and succeeded, at whatever low level, slavery might not have been abolished, there would still be two drinking fountains, and lynching would still take place. Plot-wise, the whole success of the film seems to hinge on a single Black Panther sitting in a single theater in downtown Detroit, who is so impressed with what he sees during a matinee, that he leaves early, tells his friends, and a near mob-scene develops five minutes before the evening showtime, with hundreds of people pushing to get in. I have a hard time believing that this one guy, who appears to have more power than Roger Ebert and Elvis Mitchell combined, could make or break any film playing in the Great Lakes region.

I'm sure this film means much more to people who had never seen their own lives represented on screen before. I was too young to know about it when it opened. And it's a dramatic version of events, not a documentary.

**** Ebert


0 comments




1990

June 6, 2004
Sundance
USA
English

A group of homosexuals, watching their lovers and friends dying of AIDS, decide to become actively involved in fighting the disease -- LONGTIME COMPANION.

A bit clunky and dated now, but what an impression it made back in 1990. There is none of the QUEER AS FOLK explicit sex that is becoming more and more routine. But the thought of two men kissing was monumental fourteen years ago. Bruce Davison urging his lover to "just let go" is still wrenching. A young Campbell Scott plays the paranoid friend, who scrubs after every possible encounter with an infected person. The cast also includes Mary-Louise Parker, whose southern accent comes and goes. Also, playing the biggest flamer of the group, is Dermot Mulroney, who has matching Ray Ban frames for every occasion. And finally, in answer to that trivia question we've all been wondering about: whatever happened to that hot guy from SIXTEEN CANDLES last seen on the dining room table with Molly Ringwald? Well, here he is.

There have been much better films made about life during AIDS, but this one was the first from a major studio.

~~Oscar nomination for Bruce Davison for Best Supporting Actor.

***^ Ebert


0 comments




1997

June 3, 2004
March 15, 1997
TMC
USA
English
127 minutes

In 1978, the US government waged a war against organized crime. One man was left behind the lines -- DONNIE BRASCO.

After he successfully infiltrates the mafia, an undercover agent for the FBI finds himself torn between duty and friendship for the gangster who vouched for him.

Al Pacino. Johnny Depp. Still great after all these years. Pacino stays away from all his acting ticks that have made him unbearable to watch. There is scarcely a "hoo haw" in sight. Depp is fantastic as always. Pacino is really a middle-management guy in the mafia and is just as unhappy about someone else getting the credit for his good job as any IBM employee in a cubicle. Ended more abruptly than I remember from the first viewing. Anne Heche good as Depp's wife. Pacino is actually warm and fatherly.

~~Oscar Nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

8.3 Critical Consensus
***^ Ebert
*** Berardinelli
*** Halliwells


0 comments




2004

May 28, 2004
PBS
Frontline

Documentary follows two recording artists as they try to "break into" the music business. One is the cousin of Kate Hudson, with no experience, who sings sort of like a more honest Avrille Levine or Jewel. The other is Velvet Revolver, with members of Stone Temple Pilots and the late, great, Guns N Roses. All the bases are covered on why music today sucks. Only a handful of companies, video too important, yada yada. David Crosby lends some old-school insight. KCRW is represented as well.


0 comments