Movie Review Archive - O
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O is a story of jealousy, deceit, betrayal and death. It is based on William Shakespeare's (Romeo And Juliet) tragedy Othello. Set in a contemporary prep school, this effective fable stars moon faced Julia Stiles (Save The Last Dance) as Desi, a pretty co-ed who is dating the school's black basketball star Odin (Mekhi Phifer). Odin's teammate Hugo, played by Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor), is envious of all the attention that Odin is receiving and sets into motion a complex chain of events that he hopes will bring O down. This film was set for release in 1999 but was shelved because of the then recent Colombine massacre. Like American Beauty, the tone of this movie is very dream-like and melancholy but lacks any of that flick's humorous irony. Also starring Martin Sheen ("The West Wing", Apocalypse Now), John Heard ("The Sopranos") and Rain Phoenix. Yon moving picture stinketh not.
Ocean's Eleven (PG13)
A remake of the 1960 Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford) film. 2001's Ocean's Eleven is less fun and more high tech than the original. This latest in a seemingly endless succession of "caper movies" is another glorification of charismatic career criminals who steal from honest (albeit unlikable) businessmen. George Clooney stars as Danny Ocean and Julia Roberts (aren't we all just a little bit sick of her?) as Tess, his estranged wife. Not a bad film but where's the ring-a ding-ding baby? Also starring Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould and Andy Garcia.
Off The Map (PG13)
A decidedly unconventional couple living in the beautifully remote wilderness outside Taos, New Mexico circa 1974, is found by an IRS auditor (Jim True-Frost) who becomes so overwhelmed that he never leaves. The story is narrated in the present by their only child (Amy Brenneman). This seemingly simple, bucolic story builds to an amazingly emotional climax. First rate performances by stars Joan Allen, Sam Elliot and Valentina de Angelis. Also starring JK Simmons (Ladykillers, "Law And Order"). Directed by Campbell Scott. 110 minutes.
Old School (R)
Three friends, all in their 30's, rent a house near a college and decide to start a frat. This poorly written Animal House wanna-be is full of the usual breasts, buttocks and bananas. Despite good performances by Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson, Old School smells like old ass. Also starring Jeremy Pivin (Serendipity). 91 minutes.
Oliver Twist (PG13)
Screen adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens' story. Oliver Twist (Barney Clark), a young orphan in 19th century England, escapes from a workhouse, walks to London and is "adopted" by Fagin (Ben Kingsley), the adult leader of a group of child pickpockets. With the exception of some cheesy panoramic matte shots and a slightly elongated running time, this film is a gem. Kudos to director Roman Polanski for not casting the usual flavors of the month. The only familiar name in the cast is the superbly talented Kingsley who virtually disappears into his character. 133 minutes.
On The Line (PG13)
I heard that Lance Bass had a starring role in a new romantic comedy. "What's a Lance Bass?" I thought. Well, I found out that Lance Bass is a member of the teen sensation vocal group 'N Sync. "What a coincidence" I thought. Just the other night I got really sick and threw up 'N Sync. On The Line is a romantic comedy reminiscent of Serendipity except that Serendipity is superior in every way. Bass' character and all of his friends are complete dorks and instead of rooting for any of them I wished that they all would fail miserably and then go away. One of them plays in a band that apparently performs at the same club every night of the week and plays sets whenever they feel like walking up on stage. Oh yeah; watching him lip sync and fake playing the guitar was an insult to anyone who has ever successfully formed a "D" chord. It's hard to imagine that Mr. Bass sings in a group that has millions of fans because on the screen he has zero presence. Skip this horrible piece of garbage and go see Serendipity again. I did.
One Hour Photo (R)
If you like fast paced and violent films, stay away. This well crafted character study centers around Sy, a one hour photo technician (Robin Williams) who is a walking time bomb, much like DeNiro's Travis Bickel. "Sy The Photo Guy" becomes fixated on the Yorkin family. They are friendly, long time customers. By studying their prints over the years, Sy has learned much about them and he often fantasizes that he is part of their family. One Hour Photo is a chilling contemporary look at loneliness and alienation. Williams is great and director Mark Romanek brilliantly captures William's Sy in fluorescent light and stark sets, making him appear as a solitary, washed out and over-exposed photographic print. Also starring Eriq La Salle, Michael Vartan, Connie Nielsen and Dylan Smith. 98 minutes.
Orange County (PG13)
Before the accolades, the autographs and the Oscars, Tom Hanks was in a TV sitcom called Bosom Buddies. He displayed nothing in that wretched show that would give anyone the slightest inkling of his considerable talent. I guess Tom's son Colin Hanks will be huge in about 10 years because he is bland and forgettable in the tepid new teen comedy Orange County. So is Schuyler Fisk (daughter of Sissy Spacechick). Young director Jake Kasdan (son of director Lawrence Kasdan) fares a bit better. Nepotism: n. favoritism shown to a relative (as by giving an appointive job). Luckily, veteran actors John Lithgow and Catherine O'Hara turn in fine performances. Jack Black (your 15 minutes are up) plays Hanks' drugged out older brother. What a surprise. There are cameos and small roles for many big names as if to give this movie some sort of pedigree. Also starring Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, Harold Ramis, Garry Marshall, Ben Stiller and Chevy Chase. 90 minutes.
The Others (PG13)
This is a dark and suspenseful thriller that begins ever so slowly. Don't give up. The payoff is worth the wait. Starring Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge) who looks and sounds eerily like the late Grace Kelly circa Rear Window. Kidman's character's name in the film is Grace. Coincidence? I think not.
Out Cold (PG13)
A wealthy businessman (Lee Majors) buys an Alaskan ski resort and plans to turn it into an upscale tourist destination much to the chagrin of the locals in the new comedy Out Cold. Besides Majors, the cast is made up of unknowns, and for good reason. There is plenty of bad acting, drunken mayhem and sexual situations but surprisingly little snow boarding, skiing or comedy for that matter. The young protagonists are supposed to be outrageous partiers and charismatic personalities but in reality are little more than boring young adults getting their ya-yas out. A steaming pile of cinematic poo.