Movie Review Archive - E
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Eight Legged Freaks (PG13)
Giant spiders terrorize an Arizona town in the campy Eight Legged Freaks. This B-movie is just plain fun. Freaks is the type of picture that our parents used to go see in the 50's and 60's. Fill the cooler, load up the car and go see this at a drive-in. 99 minutes.
8 Mile (R)
At get togethers in Ireland, everyone has a "party piece". A "party piece" is a song that they can sing, an instrument that they can play, a poem, a dance, a joke or presumably, a stupid human trick. In 8 Mile, it would seem that everyone has a rap. Just as it is on The Emerald Isle, this is a way that people in 8 Mile's Detroit ghetto can express and entertain themselves. If they are good enough, maybe they can become famous and make a lot of money. Bunny Rabbit (M&M) is White, poor and comes from a broken home. But he, just like his mostly Black friends and enemies, dreams of getting a record deal. Throughout most of the film, Rabbit is encouraged to perform but he refuses. This builds to a climax during which he finally gets to strut his stuff. And oh, what a finish. Rabbit (Hip-hop. Get it?) mounts the stage sporting a nifty blue ski cap, a very fashionable hooded sweatshirt and light grey sweatpants. He then begins to recite "street poetry" into a wireless microphone while wildly gesticulating with his free hand. As if that weren't enough, a gentleman (who I think is some sort of disc jockey) standing almost directly behind him, manipulates a small mixer and a couple of turntables. The pre-recorded electronic music (predominantly thumping bass and kick drum) sends the already rabid crowd into a frenzy. Not since Beatlemania have I witnessed such a hullabaloo. 8 Mile the movie is everything that rap the music is: loud, violent, misogynistic, unoriginal, crude, vulgar, completely lacking in subtlety, exciting, primitive, base and ultimately embarrassing. Several times during the screening, I was tempted to plunge white hot knitting needles into my eyeballs, tar my earholes shut and chew tin foil. If a traveler from another planet were to sit hovering in the distance and pick this up via satellite or whatever, they would definitely keep going and warn others to stay away. If this is what pop culture in America has become, I would beg them to take me with them. "Hey, Mr. Spaceman. Won't you please take me along....." Also starring Kim Bassinger, Brittany Murphy and Mekhi Phifer. 118 minutes.
Drew (Orlando Bloom), a depressed young man who has just been fired from his job meets Claire (Kirsten Dunst), a perky and relentlessly optimistic flight attendant. Drew is flying to Kentucky to bury his father. They meet cute, part cute and keep meeting again cute. Claire is able to show Drew that the USA can be a wonderful place and that life is worth living. Is Kirsten Dunst trying to be the new Meg Ryan or what? Also starring Sir Alec Baldwin and Susan Saranwrap. 123 minutes.
After an attempt on his life by a rival and news of his girlfriend's pregnancy, a successful Bronx drug dealer (John Leguizamo) decides to try to go legit. He hooks up with a Wall Street investment banker who is willing to take his pile of cash and turn it into real wealth. Too macho. Too predictable. Too many guns pointed sideways and too much gratuitous language. Empire was a nice idea that doesn't really work. Also starring Isabella Rosselini, Peter Sarsgaard (Isn't that a device that male porn-stars are required to wear while performing their own stunts?) and Denise Richards. 90 minutes.
End Of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones (Unrated)
A must-see documentary for any fan of rock. The Ramones virtually invented punk rock when they burst out of Forest Hills, Queens in 1974. Their sound was a welcome reaction to mainstream rock's bloated production, extended solos and pretty-boy stars. When you first listened to The Ramones it seemed as though they couldn't really sing or play very well. Joey actually had an excellent voice full of emotion and range. Johnny's "crude" guitar work was brilliant. On bass and drums, Dee Dee's and Tommy's (later Marky) relentless barrage of eighth and sixteenth notes would leave most Berklee and Julliard music grads cramped, gasping for breath and unable to continue after twelve bars. They wrote great two-minute songs, had a look and an original sound. Whereas the chord progressions for Ramones faves such as "Blitzkrieg Bop", "Beat On The Brat", "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "Judy Is A Punk" were fairly standard, many of their other songs like "Loudmouth", "I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement" and "Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World" were built around very basic chords that came at you in very unconventional ways. Most Ramones tunes are deceivingly complex. They were different and they were exciting. Their aggressive, minimalist style spawned countless bands in the USA. They started Britain's punk scene which gave birth to The Clash and The Sex Pistols. The Ramones may have, in a sense, saved rock and roll. But unlike their offspring, The Ramones were never a commercial success and constant touring in a van took its toll. Worse still, the British Punk Invasion, with its razor blades, safety pins, blood and vomit, caused most radio programmers, who were reluctant in the first place, to not play any of this new music. Even though The Ramones were never about violence or bad vibes they were lumped in with Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten. No airplay meant no mass commercial success. The 80's brought the horrible MTV network and once again pretty young faces and insipid music ruled the industry. The Ramones soldiered on into the 90's but they finally disbanded in 1996. They were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002 but, sadly, lead singer Joey Ramone had already passed away from cancer. Two months after their induction bassist Dee Dee Ramone died of a heroin overdose. Guitarist Johnny Ramone succumbed to cancer just after the film's completion. 110 minutes.
Jennifer Lopez (Angel Eyes, The Wedding Planner) portrays a housewife and mother of a young daughter who is beaten and abused by her Neanderthal husband (Billy Campbell). The two keep running away, but he always finds them. Finally, she hires a self-defense tutor. Once properly trained, she finds her hubby and opens up a can of whoop-ass. This is a typical American mainstream domestic violence yarn. Enough is preposterous, gratuitous and just plain dumb. Skip it. Also starring Juliette Lewis. 105 minutes.
Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room (Not Rated)
An American tragedy told in documentary form. Enron, a US energy company went from one of the largest to bankrupt in a couple of years. Through phony bookkeeping, they showed a profit quarter after quarter and their stock price skyrocketed as a result. The greedy top executives sold their stock for millions just before the company crashed while long time Enron employees lost all of their retirement funds. President and CEO's Lay and Skilling's cases go to trial in January, 2006. Director Alex Gibney suggests that it could happen again. 110 minutes.
ET The Extra-Terrestrial (PG)
Unlike most others, I saw ET only once, the week that it was released in1982. Having long since forgotten most of it, I was looking forward to seeing it again for the first time. Heck, they even added some footage and re-mastered the sound. Henry Thomas plays Elliot, a young boy who brings home a visitor from another planet. ET was left behind when its spaceship was forced to fly away abruptly. Before long, his older brother Michael (Robert McNaughton), younger sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and mother (Dee Wallace Stone) are in on the secret. Much like 2001's Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, ET is populated by adult characters who are, for the most part, inept, unimaginative and uncaring. In the world of ET, kids are king. And that is as it should be because this, like Potter, is a kid's film. Director Steven Spielberg has deservedly been given just about every award and accolade imaginable since ET. He has become one of America's finest directors. Here he utilizes gimmicks like, for most of the film, shooting grown-ups (except Stone) either from behind or at the waist only, thereby rendering them faceless and sinister. And making Elliot and ET's bicycle fly through the air past a full moon, creating a silhouette, not once but TWICE. These are parlor tricks and should not be confused with genius. This is a very good motion picture. However, ET was and is certainly one of Hollywood's most over-rated films. I was surrounded by young children who talked non-stop throughout the entire movie. Parents; it's never too early to teach your little ones that it is rude and inconsiderate to talk in a theater. 120 minutes.
After an unemployed man's wife leaves him, the court takes away his three small children. A legal battle ensues. Set in 1950's Dublin, Evelyn features a good cast and a compelling story. Unfortunately, the film is nothing more than a string of cliches, stereotypes and tear-jerks. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Julianna Marguiles, Steven Rea, Aidan Quinn and Alan Bates. 95 minutes.
Everything Is Illuminated (PG13)
An odd young man (Elijah Wood) travels from America to the Ukraine to explore his family's roots. What starts out as a fine road comedy turns deadly serious as we discover that his grandfather was a Holocaust survivor. This thought provoking film was directed by Liev Schreiber who obviously saw The Wizard Of Oz a few times. 100 minutes.