Sir Peter Jackson's blockbuster second entry in his epic cinematic… MoreSir Peter Jackson's blockbuster second entry in his epic cinematic prequel trilogy adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien's classic novel "The Hobbit," is a big, bold, beautiful triumph that exceeded expectations, vastly superior to the first film "An Unexpected Journey." Jackson's new sequel continues the cinematic success of the first film with a thrilling, fun extravagance that moves faster, and provides a great deal more story progression, it begins where the last film left off with our diminutive hairy-footed heroic Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, played wonderfully and with great charm by Martin Freeman, still tagging along with and the not-so-merry band of dwarves led by Thorin Oakensheid, intensely played by Richard Armitage, who are all on a quest to free their mountain kingdom from the monstrous, fire-breathing dragon Smaug. Bilbo is beginning to struggle with evil effects from the ring of power, and it's greed. The wizard Gandalf the Grey, brilliantly played by Sir Ian McKellen and a kindly boatman, nicely played by Luke Evans, will help them get to their destination. But their journey will not get any easier in this film for they will have to face a series of deadly challenges, like giant man-eating spiders, murderous Orcs, nasty and suspicious elves, and of course the film's show-stopping scene-stealer, the deadly gargantuan dragon Smaug, superbly voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Indeed Smaug is a fearsomely realistic CGI masterwork of visual effects artistry that is truly dazzling. Sir Peter Jackson's masterful direction keeps this film engaging and entertaining, there is also nice bits of humor and some fine supporting performances from Orlando Bloom, who makes a welcome return as the elf archer warrior Legolas, and Evangeline Lilly as young female elf warrior named Tauriel. The meticulous craftsmanship and technological achievements of this epic are spellbinding, as are the other amazing visual effects, the extraordinary cinematography by Andrew Lesnie. and Howard Shore's score which is beautifully evocative. If you enjoyed the first film, you will love this film even more, which is filled with great drama, fine acting, intense action, and stunning visual effects. The exciting cliffhanger ending will leave you salivating for more. It will concluded next year with the final sequel "The Battle of the Five Armies." Can't wait for it! Highly Recommended.
George C. Scott's interesting drama is well-acted and nicely directed… MoreGeorge C. Scott's interesting drama is well-acted and nicely directed by him. It concerns a peaceful rancher who goes out camping one night on his land with his beloved 12 year old son. When the military accidentally dumps a fatal dose of experimental nerve gas over his Wyoming ranch, killing his livestock and his son, and infecting him with the same fate. The military quickly drops a veil of secrecy over the "incident," when Scott discovers that his son has been dead for two days, and no one has told him nothing but lies, the embittered father goes on a deadly rampage against the military. George C. Scott delivers a solid forceful performance as the enrage rancher, and veteran actors Richard Baseheart and Barnard Hughes also give superb performances. But it is young Martin Sheen, who is the standout as a cool, manipulative army medical specialist who is part of the cover-up and is fully aware of the military's guilt. A tense unsettling film. Recommended
John McTiernan's masterful, intelligent cold war techno-thriller which… MoreJohn McTiernan's masterful, intelligent cold war techno-thriller which is based upon his best-selling novel of the same name. It takes place in the year 1984 and concerns Captain Marko Ramius, a legendary Russian sub commander, played to perfection by screen legend Sir Sean Connery, in one of his finest performances. Ramius is planning to defect to the Untied States during the maiden voyage of the Red October, a new supersecret technologically superior Soviet nuclear submarine, which has a unique revolutionary propulsion system, a mageto-hydrodynamic drive or caterpillar, that enable the Red October to run virtually silent, making it undetectable to sonar which allows the sub to approach by stealth and shower its targets with multiple independent warheads with little or no warning before impact. The Russian's have sent their entire naval and air commands to find the Red October and destroy her before it can reach America, they even have told the American government that Captain Ramius has gone insane and is planning to attack the United States with his nuclear missiles, but a lone CIA analyst named Jack Ryan, played by a young Alec Baldwin, in a terrific performance of understated elegance. Ryan believes that Ramius is really trying to defect, it now has become a race against time for Ryan for he has been aloud only three days by his superiors to prove his theory, he must go out to the Atlantic and make contact was Ramius and find out what his true intensions really are, before the United States is force to join the hunt for Red October with the Russians and sunk her. An extraordinary supporting cast all deliver superb performances they include Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones, Sam Neill, Joss Ackland, Richard Jordan, Peter Firth, Courney B. Vance, Stellan Skarsgard, Tim Curry, and Fred Dalton Thompson. But it's Connery's commanding performance that totally dominates this fine thriller. The dialogue from a brilliant screenplay by Larry Ferguson & Donald Stewart makes the events of the story seem plausible, the cinematography by Jan de Bont is truly stunning, there is a striking musical score by Basil Poledoruris, and the production design by Terence Marsh is phenomenal, "The Hunt for Red October" is an engrossing 90s classic that is simply one of the best submarine thrillers ever filmed. Highly Recommended.
Larry Clark's strikingly brutal drama which is based on actual events.… MoreLarry Clark's strikingly brutal drama which is based on actual events. About a group of amoral and sexually promiscuous high school kids who plan to murder one of their own, a heartless bully named Bobby Kent, played superby by Nick Stahl, who is the college bound golden boy of the group and is also a repressed homosexual and sadistic rapist that loves to torment and sexually abuse them. Especially his handsome, slow-witted best friend Marty Puccio, who he has bullied since childhood and has a homoerotic, sadomasochistic relationship with him. Marty is played brilliantly by the late Brad Renfro, who delivers a sensitive and realistic performance, he captures Marty's pain and the simmering rage just beneath the surface as the frequent victim of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of the cruel self-loathing Bobby, who makes Marty have phone sex with older men for money and further humilates him by also making him dance on stage at a gay strip club so patrons can stuff bills into his shorts. Even Marty's new girlfriend Lisa, well played by Rachel Miner, is not safe from Bobby's abuse, one day while having sex with Marty she is attacked, beaten and raped by Bobby who storms into the room knocking Marty off of her with a thick leather belt. Lisa's best friend Ali, played excellently by Bijou Philips, has also been viciously raped by Bobby, while he makes her watch a hardcore gay porn video. Lisa who is fed up with the way Bobby treats Marty and the sexual abuse she and Ali have endured by him, comes up with the idea to kill him as a way to solve everyones problem, they lured him to the Everglades wetlands where he is stabbed and savagely beaten to death, but that of course does not end the trouble in these teenagers aimless lives. Expertly directed by Clark, the controversial photographer and filmmaker who makes an impressive feature debut with this hard hitting film. Exceptional supporting performances by Michael Pitt, Kelli Garner, Daniel Franzese and Leo Fitzoatrick. Intense and absolutely riveting, the film contains full-frontal nudity, graphic sex, graphic violence and non-stop profanity. Note: the film's young star, the talented Brad Renfro, who was one of the hottest teen idols of the 90s, and was discovered at the age of 10, making his brilliant film debut in "The Client," which starred Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones, suffered from addiction problems in his teens and early twenties which hampered his career, sadly he died of an accidental heroin overdose on January 15, 2008 at the age of 25. A fascinating but difficult motion picture to watch, and not for all taste. Highly Recommended.
MOVIE REVIEW: "ELEPHANT" (2003) ****
Gus Van Sant's powerfully… MoreMOVIE REVIEW: "ELEPHANT" (2003) ****
Gus Van Sant's powerfully unnerving film about two high school misfits, Alex and Eric well played by Alex Frost and Eric Deulen, who calmly plan a mass execution of their class mates and school administers like the massacre at Columbine. The real strength in this film lies in its power of observation, we get a brief glimpse into the young killers personalities, who are sexually confused, Hitler-loving dweebs, who get off on playing single-person shooting video games. But what makes it all the more chilling is that they don't seem any different from any of the other high schoolers. Brilliant cinematography by Harris Sadvides with those long steady-cam tracking shots really do a great job of putting you with the characters, as they walk the long endless corridors of their high school murdering innocent people. The supporting cast of mostly unknown actors all deliver fine naturalistic performances. I think the most disturbing scene in the film is when one of the killers turns to the other and tells him, "Most important, have fun man!" just before they begin their mass killing spree. Winner of the Golden Palm at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. A starling and unforgettable motion picture. Highly Recommended.
Gerald Potterton's animated cult classic based upon the adult fantasy… MoreGerald Potterton's animated cult classic based upon the adult fantasy magazine of the same name, which has an innovative mixture of different animation styles. This anthology of stories are very original and entertaining. The central premise of the film is that of good vs. evil. It concerns a green orb called the "Loc Nar" which holds a super powerful entity of pure evil, that is involved in each of the six vignettes beginning with my personal favorite "Harry Canyon," about tough New York City yellow cab driver in a dark distant future, full of gangsters, aliens, corrupt cops and femme fatales, "Den," about a nerdy teenager who transforms into a huge hulking muscleman while being transported to another world of hot big-breasted women and murderous monsters, "Captain Sternn," which is a hilarious story that is full of wit and chaos, it concerns Captain Lincoln F. Sternn, who is a sleazy scoundrel that is on trail for his life for his many heinous indiscretions, he has the perfect plan to win, with a special character-witness named Hanover Fiste, "B-17," is a creepy segment that captures the flavor of the old E.C. comics, it concerns a flight crew of a bomber in World War II who encounter the evil power of the "Loc Nar" in the form of the living dead, "So Beautiful, So Dangerous," is full of juvenile humor, it is about a couple of wacky, stoner aliens that pilot a gigantic smiley face spaceship, they abduct a sexy hot jewish secretary, that befriends a little horny robot, and finally "Tarrna" about a beautiful, voluptuous, super lethal mute warrior woman, who is mankind's last hope to vanquish evil. Astute direction by Potterton, with fine voice performances by Richard Romanus, Al Waxman, Susan Roman, John Candy, John Vernon, Eugene Levy, and Joe Flaherty, Elemer Bernstein's lush score is superb, and the film also has an amazing 80s rock soundtrack that includes music from Black Sabbath, Blue Osyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Journey, Nazareth and Stevie Nicks. There is much inspired imagination here, this is robustly entertaining. Highly Recommended.
Walt Disney's groundbreaking eight-part innovative classic animation… MoreWalt Disney's groundbreaking eight-part innovative classic animation masterpiece, which took three years and $2,280,000 to make. It was originally planned as a short subject film, but Walt Disney and conductor Leopold Stokowski decide to make a full-length concert feature instead. The result is a vivid imaginative work of stunning genius, with a broad range of incredble animation from the abstract shapes, colours and ideas that open the film, through to the fun and engaging The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Nutcracker Suite. The science lesson in The Rite of Spring and the 'introduction-to-ballet' we have with the Dance of the Hours and to finish with the incredibly scary and unforgettably sinister devil in the Night on Bald Mountain and Ave Maria. An amazing marriage of music and animation that remains a magnificent artistic and technical achievement. One of the all-time great animation films. Highly Recommended.
Sir Ridley Scott's captivating, visually striking underrated fairy… MoreSir Ridley Scott's captivating, visually striking underrated fairy tale fantasy, which takes place in a beautiful mythical forest filled with goblins, elves, fairies, mortals, and man-eating swamp zombies. The demonic Lord of Darkness, brilliantly played by Tim Curry, in an impressive scene-stealing performance as the personification of pure evil, plans to slay the two unicorns who bring light into the world, and gain control over the young princess Lilly, played wonderfully by Mia Sara, who represents absolute innocence. Princess Lilly's true love, the young courageous forest dweller, Jack, played superbly by Tom Cruise, who is chosen by fate to protect her and the unicorns, and defeat Darkness before this dark angel can destroy light and plunged the world into a never-ending ice age. Astute direction by Sir Scott, with fine supporting performances by David Bennet, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, Kiran Shah, Robert Picardo, and Tina Martin. Special Kudos must go to Rob Bottin's extraordinary Academy Award nominated makeup which is amazing. Gorgeous set design by Assheton Gorton, and breathtaking cinematography by the late great Alex Thomson. A memorable genre motion picture. Highly Recommended.
Gus Van Sant's compelling drama that centers on the friendship of a… MoreGus Van Sant's compelling drama that centers on the friendship of a Bronx high school student named Jamal Wallace, marvelously played by Rob Brown, in an impressive screen debut, who meets a strange neighborhood resident, a famous reclusive novelist William Forrester, played magnificently by Sir Sean Connery, in a career-crowning performance, who has been hiding from the world since his first burst of fame. Forrester becomes young Wallace's mentor and the path that their unorthodox relationship creates for greater self-discovery, Forrester rediscovers his will to live when Wallace happens to step into his life, while Wallace is able to learn that he's more than just a basketball player with Forrester's help. Basketball is secondary to Finding Forrester's overall goal, which instead chooses to focus on the value of friends in unlikely places. Astute direction by Van Sant, with a superb supporting performance by F. Murray Abraham as a jealous professor. A wonderful adult drama.
Writer and director Michael Crichton's highly enjoyable… MoreWriter and director Michael Crichton's highly enjoyable tongue-in-cheek crime caper period drama, is based on his script for his own bestselling novel "The Great Train Robbery," which in turn was based on a real historical event. It was deemed impossible to rob a moving railway train back in 1855, so a dapper and cunning master thief named Edward Pierce, played sensationally by Sir Sean Connery, who is so devilishly charming, in a polished, stylish performance has quite the challenge ahead of him if he wants to steal a shipment of gold bullion from an English train outfitted with armed security guards and all manner of locks. Enlisting the aid of his clever beautifully girlfriend Miriam, played wonderfully by the ravishing Lesley-Anne Down and the jovial professional safecracker and pickpocket Agar, played brilliantly by Donald Sutherland, he sets his ingenious and wildly intricate plan in motion with his lovable troupe of rogues. Astute direction by the late Crichton, who has mounted a very handsome well-crafted production filled with attentive period detail. During the exciting climactic heist Connery did his own dangerous and impressive stunt work, in which he races on the top of a moving train, which is edge of your seat fun. This was legendary Academy Award winning cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth last film, he passed away shortly before the film's release, and his stupendous lensing for this motion picture is typically noteworthy, as is the rousing score by the late great Jerry Goldsmith. A hell of good time, and a must-see! Highly Recommended.