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Dance of a Dream (Oi gwan yu mung) (2001) - **1/2
This time Andy Lau is a dance instructor. This is a fun little movie with interesting characters, highlighted by the goofy Kam, played by Sandra Ng. No martial arts or big action scenes, but some good dancing and fun bits of comedy...though some of the biggest laughs came from the bad subtitles (I am really curious what "Toady" was supposed to mean).

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002) - ***
I remember seeing a preview for this movie and for some reason really wanting to see it. I'm not exactly sure why. Though it does have Jodie Foster who I like and I'm also partial to coming of age stories. I think it was literally only in Santa Barbara for one week and I wasn't able make it. So when it was release on DVD, I picked it up and I'm glad I did. Jodie Foster is good as always, but hers is really a minor role in this story that is centered around Emile Hirsh's character, Francis. The movie deals with his first Love, Margie Flynn played well by Jena Malone, who has some deeper issues that your typical teenage girl. And his partner in crime Tim, played by Kieran Culkin who is always planning some way to get into trouble. This story basically deals with your standard typical teen issues, but they are taken to the limits and things that your average teen probably doesn't have to consider. One of this movies big strengths is that the live action is interlaced with animated sequences by Todd McFarlane, who's arguably the best. Francis is an artist who fantasizes about becoming a comic book artist. The boys have created their own characters and these characters are brought to life in their thoughts and they are shown in the movie in the animated scenes. The mix of live action and animation blend together really well and are appropriately timed so that the film flows very well. I'm not sure if this film will appeal to everyone as much as it did to me, but it is a good quality story nonetheless.

Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959) - ***1/2
Disney brought us this very fun Irish tale that I've been watching my whole life. Darby (Albert Sharp) is an aging caretaker who tells many tales of the little people. Michael McBride (Sean Connery) is his replacement who falls for Darby's daughter Katie (Janet Munro). Most people of the town don't quite believe Darby's tales he tells in the pub, but many humor him out of respect for Darby and the art of Irish storytelling. Though when he catches King Brian (Jimmy O'Dea), the head leprechaun, no one believes him. I really enjoy everything about this movie. It has some nice songs, including a bit by a young Sean Connery and "The Wishin' Song". The special affects are pretty good, especially mixing the little people with the big people. As fun as it is, it does have a couple dark parts that could be scary for really young children, but I was able to appreciate it them, even as a wee lad me self. Though this is an American film, it definitely evokes the Irish spirit in my blood.
Rank: #5 in
1959, #1 St. Patrick's Day Movie

Daredevil (2003) - ***
I should start by saying I'm a fan of Daredevil comics. It's always a tricky thing bringing a story from the comics to the big screen. With the varied success of previous endeavors, you're never sure what you're going to get. But Marvel seems to be getting it right recently. I enjoyed this film as a whole, though I thought it had some flaws. Ben Affleck played Daredevil pretty well, but I don't think he was the perfect choice for the role. He doesn't seem quite dark enough to do the character his proper justice. There was even one scene where he flashed typical "Ben" smirk that made me cringe. I also felt the movie ran too short and lacked a bit in the character/story development. I enjoyed the supporting cast, especially Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios. She had a great screen presence and seemed like a natural in the role. Colin Farrell was an excellent Bullseye. I really enjoyed Jon Favreau as "Foggy" Nelson, but his role was one that could have been stronger with a little more screen time. There are some fun bit parts by those who've worked on the Daredevil comic...Kevin Smith, Stan Lee, Frank Miller. I think the film is very well made visually and is dark in tone which is appropriate to the Daredevil story. I had hoped for a little better, but was pleased overall with the movie.

Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys (2005) - **
Last night I watched the world premiere of this movie at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. While it made me chuckle several times, it just didn't seem to be very cohesive. I tended to enjoy the bits set in the modern day versus the silly caveman scenes. Though I am a big fan of John Cleese, his scenes didn't do much for me in this movie. One my favorite bits was Dan Marino explaining proper urinal etiquette. I think that was one of problems, it was more just a collection of bits than a complete movie. Some of the scenes were tied together, but it didn't seem to flow very well. With a $17.50 ticket price for this 72 minute film, I didn't feel I got my money's worth.

Die Another Day (2002) - **1/2
I've been a fan of the Bond movies since I was a little kid watching them with my dad. I have to wonder if maybe they're not running out of ideas. This movie reminded me a lot of some old Connery Bond movies, primarily Diamond are Forever. And the scene of Jinx, Halle Berry, coming out of the water in Cuba couldn't help but conjure up memories of Dr. No...without the "Mangos, Bananas, and Tangerines...". I don't actually fault the film for the similarities to previous Bond films, but the movie has some flaws. The thing that concerns me most is the mindless action level increasing to keep up with modern additions to the action genre, like The Transporter and The Fast and the Furious. We expect a bit of unbelievablity in the action sequences, but Die Another Day went over the quota for completely implausible and physic-defying scenes for my taste. It manages to stay above the likes of XXX with the qualities we love in a Bond film...interesting characters and bits of humor. I have particularly enjoyed John Cleese taking over the role as Q and the rest of the cast plays their parts well. If they keep making them, I'll probably keep watching them...but when I'm in the mood for a Bond movie, 9 times out of 10 I'll choose one with Sean Connery.

Dogtown (1997) - **1/2
This movie is set in Cuba, Missouri. Apparently this is where all the Jerry Springer guests come from. It's not a particularly good movie, but probably like watching the Jerry Springer show these people draw you in because you find it hard to believe that a place with people like this can actually exist (Even though this is fiction). Some of the roles are well played, but some seem a bit forced.

Donnie Darko (2001) - **1/2
Sort of an interesting concept, but it never really seemed to come together for me. A troubled teen who sees an imaginary rabbit who tells him when the world will end. Frank is no Harvey. It kept my attention though. It's filled with quirky characters that kept me entertained.

The Doors (1991) - ***
Val Kilmer does an excellent job portraying Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's biopic. While some people say this isn't a perfect movie in getting across everything that Jim Morrison was, most don't discount most of what made it into the film. The rise and fall of a talented person isn't usually an easy thing to watch and this movie is no exception, but I enjoyed learning a little bit more about the man and his experiences he and the people around him went through. I was also quite impressed with Meg Ryan in her role as Pam Morrison which is much harser than most of her cutesy romantic comedies. I'd recommend this movie to anyone interested in the subject and just realize that this is just Oliver Stone's take on it and not the complete story. As a side note, a friend of mine played an extra in the movie.
Thanksgiving Scene

Downhill (1927) - ***
My copy of this movie is truly silent with no musical score. Whenever I watch a movie that is completely silent, initially I find it a little hard. But when the film is well made, as this one is, it doesn't take long to adjust and focus on the story as you are drawn into it. I feel Hitchcock was a master of the silent film genre with his ability to tell such a deep story with very few intertitles. Relying instead on the expressions of the actors and written notes and signs in the movie, without having to cut away to an intertitle, which allows the film to flow more fluidly instead of constant cutting between the live action and the title cards. Ivor Novello in the lead role of Roddy and in his prior work with Hitchcock in The Lodger really impressed me with his talent of conveying his feelings strictly through facial expressions and acting without the use of sound. Hitch is also good at using subtle exaggeration and focus on action to help take the place of the sound in his silent films. The story is that of a young man in school who is falsely accused of theft by a lady that he had danced with and he is willing to take the blame for a friend of his and is expelled from school. This leads to the downhill spiral of his life as leaves home after his father calls him a "LIAR!". Things get worse from there as ends up working as a gigolo in Paris, getting in fights, losing a large sum of money, and eventually hitting bottom. In this film we really begin seeing a lot of Hitchcock's visual style that he is so famous for. He has some really good use of fades and graphic matches between scenes. Two of my favorite where the fading out on the pocket watch and into a large clock, and the other being the scene where he fades out on a photograph and then back in on the real person. I really enjoyed the symbolic shot of Roddy heading down the escalator, showing us that is in heading downhill in his life. And my favorite "Hitch" shot in this movie was the point-of-view shot when the lady was leaning back in her chair and it cuts to Roddy walking into the room and we see him upside down on the screen. I also thought Hitchcock did a great job of portraying Roddy's seasickness towards the end of the film. I really enjoy seeing Hitchcock's style developing in his early silent films, that will become so prominent in his later, more famous movies. I also really appreciate Hitch's working in comedic scenes into his serious movies. My favorite humorous scene in this movie is the peashooter scene early in the film.Without giving too much away, I would have liked to see a more typical Hitchcock ending to this film.
Rank: #2 in 1927

Dreamcatcher (2003) - *
Lawrence Kasdan brought this Stephen King novel to the big screen. It started off like a Stand by Me later in life with Four buddies in Boston. It becomes obvious that there has been some dark events in their past. They take a hunting trip and next thing you know they are battling shit weasels. Initially this movie seemed like it had potential, but by the end I couldn't wait for the movie to be over. I didn't care what happened at that point. Morgan Freeman's talent was wasted on this horrible movie.
Rank: 2003
Worst Movie


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