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Baby Boy (2001) - **1/2
Another pretty decent movie about life in the hood from John Singleton. Though not anywhere near the caliber of
Boyz N the Hood, it has some good things in it. It's focus on a young man who hasn't grown up yet. He's 20, lives at home with his mama, and has 2 babies & 2 baby's mamas. Good performances by all the cast. I think the movie would have been a little better with the conflict that Snoop's character brings. He plays a good bad guy, but I thought the movie could have done without it.

Bad Company (2002) - **1/2
Right in the middle of watching some quality espionage movies, I decided to see this movie at the $3 theater. I had low expectations and that's what I got. I feel Chris Rock was way out of place in this role and even Anthony Hopkins didn't seem his usual self. It wasn't horrible, but it didn't seem to be a good fit from the beginning.

The Bank Dick (1940) - ***
An enjoyable little tale of W.C. Fields playing a colorful Bank Dick. One interesting note, this movie is set and was filmed in Lompoc, California...where I lived from 1980-1988. It's pronounced "Lom-Poke", but in this movie (and many others) they pronounce it "Lom-Pock". At least while I lived there, once a year they'd celebrate W.C. Field Days...mostly because there's not much else to do there. One other actor to note in this movie, Shemp Howard (of Three Stooges fame) plays the bartender at the Black Pussy Cat Cafe. Just a simple little comedy with W.C. Fields entertaining with his trademark style.
Rank: #9 in
1940

Barbershop (2002) - **1/2
I had pretty low expectations going in and was pleasantly surprised at how watchable it was. Not great by any means, but marginally entertaining for most of the movie. Ice Cube and his surrounding cast provide a few laughs along the way. As long as you don't take the film too seriously, it meets it's minimal expectations.

A Beautiful Mind (2001) - ***1/2
Ron Howards brings us the very sympathetic tale of John Nash's life. I was not overly familiar with his story prior to this movie, so watching this movie unfold held a few surprises for me. I'm not usually a big Russell Crowe fan, but he was outstanding in this role, as were the supporting cast. Though it's not easy to watch the deterioration of a brilliant mind, I found this movie to be very touching. In college I took an abnormal psychology class, but it is safe to say that I learned much more about the disease of schizophrenia from this movie and how it not only affects the person afflicted with it, but how heartbreaking it can be for the loved ones. I believe it was the love of Alicia Nash that helped Nash overcome his illness.
Rank: #1 in
2001, #9 in 2000s

Beijing Bicycle (Shiqi sui de dan che) (2001) - ***
While watching this movie I couldn't help but be reminded of The Bicycle Thief (Ladri di biciclette). This is a story of determination of two young men. One works hard for a bicycle courier and on the day he would have earned the bike, it is stolen. The other steals money from his family and buys a bike so that he can impress a girl. Yes, it's the same bike. Amazingly, Guo is able to find his stolen bike, but that isn't the end of his troubles. I couldn't help but feel for all the crap he has to put up with, especially since all he wanted was to be a hard worker. Yet, like us all, life threw him a curveball and he does everything in his power to deal with the situation.
Rank: #2
Bicycle Movie

Below (2002) - **
I was slightly disappointed even though I didn't expect too much going into this movie. It's set aboard the U.S.S. Tiger Shark in the Atlantic during WWII. It begins with a rescue of three survivors of an English Hospital Ship...and one of them is a "skirt". Pretty quickly she figures out something's not quite right abord the submarine. While the story unfolds, we go through lots of your typical sub issues...Depth charges, hooks from enemy subs, lack of oxygen. The story was a questionable one to begin with, but it didn't really come off as believable. The acting wasn't that impressive and the script they were working with was a bit lacking to make it seem realistic. I was never drawn into the movie.
Rank: Other
Submarine Movie

Bicentennial Man (1999) - ***
This is a pretty good sci-fi tale of an android, Andrew, who seems to have more human characteristics that he's supposed to. It's good story that covers all the issues you'd expect and probably some you might not. The only drawback is that I wish there was a little more science in this sci-fi. It's never really explained why he's special. Was it the fall out the window? As he goes through upgrades, very little detail is given. Where the movie is strong is the emotional side of the story. Some of the things are a little unbelievable, but it's well-intentioned and succeeds on some levels. Especially the relationship of him with the family who purchased him. Robin Williams plays the android well and Embeth Davidtz in the double roll of Little Miss and Portia. It's pretty good, but I do think it falls a little short of what it could have been.

Big Wednesday (1978) - ***1/2
The all-time best surf movie and a really good story of friends growing up. I think I may like this movie more than anyone else, but it's stood the test of time as I've seen it several times over the years and still just as good as the first time I saw it.
Rank: #1 in
1978

Black Dog (1998) - *1/2
Pretty bad movie about a truck driver coerced into running a load of illegal weapons. A lot of your typical stuff in this second-rate action flick. Betrayals, threating of family members, exploding vehicles. No real reason to watch this movie that I can think of. Unless you're really bored and want some cheap and unbelievable action.
Rank:
Other Trucker Movie

Black Hawk Down (2001) - ***1/2
One evening I first saw the preview for this movie and it gave me chills. I knew they had written a book about this incident, but didn't realize they were making it into a movie. My best friend in school joined the Army shortly after high school and became a helicopter mechanic. An admirable occupation for sure, but we sure worried about him when he spent the Gulf War in Saudi Arabia/Kuwait/Iraq. And shortly after hearing about trouble in Somalia, he was on his way over there. I admit that before this movie, I didn't know that much about this incident. I had heard about the book, but didn't really know the details. Shortly after seeing the preview for the movie, I emailed Charlie to find out more. Yes, he was a Black Hawk Mechanic in Somalia, but he had come home shortly before this event took place. However, he did know many of the people who were involved in it. He told me about what he went through personally waiting for the outcome and how hard it was for him. His story really brought it home for me and personalized this movie like no other war movie. It was more real when seeing the soldiers injured and killed. I just watched this movie for the second time and the effect wasn't lessened. I found myself getting chills like never before when watching a war movie. The movie itself is excellently and realistically filmed. It definitely puts you in the middle of the battle. The most frustrating thing for me was watching the poor command decisions being made by guys in charge that lead to this incident being worse than it had to be. Keeping the chopper circling over head, when those on board wanted so much to get in there and help the trapped soldiers. I know the chain of command is important in the military, but sometimes I think it's important to trust the soldiers who are there in the battle. I have always had a great respect for soldiers who are willing to put their life on the line for the sake of the country, but am often frustrated by the leaders that put them in such awful situations in the first place. It's a great story of comraderie between the soldiers. The scenes where the soldiers make it back to base, but go back out again are very touching. It is so hard for me to fully comprehend having one's life depend on the randomness of where a bullet happens to fly in battle. I'm pretty sure I could handle myself as good as the next guy, but I don't ever want to be in that situation. Because if it's not you, then it's probably your buddy next to you. I definitely sleep better at night knowing Charlie has retired from the military and is now launching rockets for Boeing. I respect his service that he put in for our country, but am happy to know that I'm not going to get a phone call that he's off to some God awful part of the globe. Though, unfortunately we are currently shipping soldiers back to the gulf...my friend's husband just left on the U.S.S. Nimitz for an undetermined amount of time. Everyone say their prayers.
Rank: #4 in
2001

The Black Pirate (1926) - ***
I knew little of this film before watching it, but am glad I found it. It's an excellent early film about a group of cutthroats. The thing that surprised me the most was that it was in color. It was filmed using the experimental two-color technicolor process. After watching the "Making of", apparently Douglas Fairbanks was a real pioneer in that area and did much research on color film. This was my first Fairbanks film and I was quite impressed with not only his screen presence, but his ability to do impressive stuntwork, including the infamous sliding down a sail on a knife. This film had all the requirements of a pirate movie... Swordplay, torture, murder, robbery, kidnapping, romance, and even walking the plank. As well as the infamous quote, "Dead men tell no tales!". It had a decent score by Mortimer Wilson that was mostly fitting. One scene I found amusing, was when the pirates drew lots for the monkey. If you're a fan of pirate movies, this is a must see. I found it quite enjoyable.
#1 in
1926, #3 in 1920s

Blacktop (2000) - *
This movie starts bad and just keeps getting worse! Meatloaf plays a psycho trucker trying to teach the young couple the importance of commitment by kidnapping the girl. Yes, it is as bad as it sounds. Worse actually. After Blackdog and Blacktop, I'm hoping Meatloaf doesn't do any more trucker movies.
Rank:
Other Trucker Movie

Blood Work (2002) - **1/2
This movie starts out with the makings of a good mystery. Unfortunately as it unfolds it gets a bit sloppy. Clint's acting was good as always, but I think that's his strength and not sitting in the director's chair. It's highly watchable and as long as expectations aren't too high, you probably won't be too disappointed. There was a bit of product placement in the movie...the Krispy Kreme scene was just a little too obvious for a non-parody...I was laughing outloud at how blatant it was.

Bloody Sunday (2002) - ***
This movie tells the true story of "Bloody Sunday". On January 30, 1972, there was a civil rights March that took place in the Northern Ireland town of Derry. The protestors who were marching against internment were fired upon by English troops...27 were shot, killing 13 protestors. The protestors, led by Ivan Cooper, took great care to insure that it was a peaceful march. Yet, reminiscent of the Kent State incident here in the United States, the military was over zealous and fired on unarmed protestors. This film was shot with hand held cameras and had long takes, giving much the feel of a documentary...putting you right in the middle of the action. The majority of the film focused on the preparation of the March both by the protestors and the military, leading up to the big conflict at the end. Though I wouldn't call this a great film, I am really glad to have seen it since it is a piece of history I wasn't previously aware of. Although being very familiar with the civil rights movement in the United States, the story seemed very familiar to me.

Blue Crush (2002) - **1/2
Nothing too special in this surfer girl flic, but nothing too bad either. Also, not too interesting of a plot, but it wasn't bad. The characters are marginally interesting, but had room for improvement. Kate Bosworth did pretty well as the lead surfer girl. There is some pretty good cinematography of the bigs waves on the North Shore of Hawaii. It's about what I expected, though had potential to be a little better.

The Bodyguard (1992) - **
I thought Whitney's performance seemed really forced and Kevin Costner played his usual self. This was a pretty predictible movie.

Boiler Room (2000) - ***
Giovanni Ribisi plays Seth Davis a young entrepreneur who has dropped out of college and opened a casino in his house. But really all he wants in the respect of his hard-ass father, a federal judge, that puts down Seth every time he talks to him. Seth gets an opportunity to join a brokerage firm, with hopes of making huge amounts of money and gaining the respect of his father, but everything doesn't work out as planned when it comes to his attention that the company may not be on the up and up. For me this movie is really about a young man who so desparately wants his father to love him, that he's willing to do anything to get his father to love and respect him. The supporting cast does a really good job...Ben Affleck, Vin Diesel (in my favorite performance of his), Nia Long. I've watched this movie a few times and it holds up for me, as I can feel Seth's emotions as he's going through this story. Most people I mention this movie to haven't seen it, and I've let a few friends & family borrow it. If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend it to most adults.

Das Boot (The Boat) (1981) - ***1/2
A very good and really emotional film set on a German U-Boat in WWII. I watched the Director's Cut DVD which has the 3 1/2+ hour version of the movie and though it took more than one sitting, I was never bored...even when feeling the boredom of the men on the submarine. When the movie starts, it gives a little one page of history and then flashes to a second screen with a statistic that puts it all in perspective right from the start, "40,000 German sailors served on U-Boats during World War II. 30,000 never returned". I am guessing this movie is a very authentic portrayal of life on a U-Boat, both technically and emotionally. As I was watching it, I didn't really think of the fact that these were German's, our enemies during the war, but just as men who had to deal with their situation. I think that's a credit to the director, Wolfgang Peterson. This is definitely the movie the best movie I've seen that shows what life on the submarine back then was like. Even seeing all the movies made since this one, didn't detract from the feeling of this movie. I think the sound was really well done in this movie. From the simple tinging of the sonar of the destroyer getting further away, then closer...to the creaking of the metal as it's pushed to the limits as the sub goes deeper and deeper. The parts where all played well, by actors that I'd never seen before. There's a USA version, "The Boat", that runs over an hour shorter. I'd guess that would just leave too much out. If you're going to see it, invest the time in the Director's Cut.
Rank: #2 in
1981, #1 Submarine Movie

The Bourne Identity (2002) - ***
A good spy, on-the-run-for-your-life with someone innocent you just met, thriller. I knew I recognized the girl in the movie, but couldn't place her. I looked it up when I got home and she's the girl from Run Lola Run. Guess she's good at running.

Bowling for Columbine (2002) - ***1/2
Regardless of your feelings about the topic, I think you should see this film. Michael Moore has created an excellent and very thought provoking documentary on the issue of gun violence in the United States. Some might think they won't like this due to his hard approach in asking questions of Charlton Heston, president of the NRA, and others. But Moore grew up with guns, won sharp shooting trophies as a teen and is a lifetime member of the NRA. This documentary takes on a journey in quest of the answer to the question as why the U.S. has such a higher rate of gun murders than other western countries. The question is never really answered, but it makes the viewer ponder the question while he interviews many people on various sides of gun issues. Before this movie came out, I hadn't heard the fact that the two students who attacked their school in Columbine had attended their bowling class before killing their classmates. Should bowling be banned, because it leads to violence? No, of course not. But it's nearly as ridiculous as blaming Marilyn Manson's music or violent video games that so many would have you think. I'd highly recommend this movie to anyone.

Boyz N the Hood (1991) - ****
The best and most realistic movie about a group of boys growing up in the hood. It follows them from their youth through high school, showing how their lives take different turns while dealing with the environment that they live in. It shows the realism of gang violence and the consequences of it. I think that's one thing that sets this movie apart from others in the genre. You really care about these characters and what happens to them. Excellent performances by all the actors and the first and best film directed by John Singleton.
"Increase the Peace"
Rank: #1 in
1991, #1 in 1990s, 4 Star Movie

Breakdown (1997) - **1/2
It seems a little farfetched to me that a yuppie would send his wife off with a trucker in the middle of nowhere. But if you're able to get past that, this is a decent thriller. It was reminiscent of The Vanishing (Spoorloos), which was much better. But it's different enough to stand on it's own. As long as you don't expect too much and know going in that it's a mediocre thriller, it will probably keep your attention throughout.
Rank: Other
Trucker Movie

Butterfly (La Lengua de las Mariposas) (1999) - ***
A good coming of age story set in 1930s Spain. It follows a young boy, Moncho, through his first year of school. He is befriended by his teacher, Don Gregorio, who is full of knowledge...both facts and life. He encounters all of the things common to boys this age...friends, girls, fights, etc. But in the background, it is a political time. His father is an Athiest, Republican...the same as Don Gregorio...a dangerous thing to be during these political turbulent times in Spain. It's a nice story, the characters are very likeable. It's also beautifully filmed. I rarely suggest films should have been different and just accept them for what they are...liking them or not. But in this case I wish the boy's reaction at the very end was different. I don't even think I'm really faulting it, just that it wasn't what I wanted.

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