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Lantana (2001) - ***
A good Aussie mystery about a lady who goes missing. Though it's more about the relationships of all those involved. There lives are all intertwined in some way. The actors performances and their stories where all very believable. A bit slower paced than you might expect, but it seems about right for this story.

The Last Wave (1977) - ***
A stylish, Australian courtroom drama directed by Peter Weir. Richard Chamberlain plays a Sydney lawyer who is defending 5 aborigines in a murder case, but he gets more than he bargained for when he's drawn into their culture and learns about his own troublesome dreams that he's had. Richard Chamberlain carries this movie with his excellent performance. We, the audience, get to figure out the movie as it unfolds right along with his character. David Gulpilil, who I've seen in several other Australian movies, was also excellent as his character was the one that help teach Richard Chamberlain about his dreams.
Rank: #5 in

Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928) - ***
For some reason I expected this to be a happier film, but often clown stories are sad ones. Tito and Simon have a very entertaining clown show. They find an abandoned young girl and Tito (Lon Chaney) decides to raise her with the show. Simonetta (Loretta Young) grows up and falls for a rich guys who helps her one day and they're married. This saddens Tito, who himself has fallen for Simonetta. That's the part that disturbs me the most. Not only is Tito 30 years older, but he was the one who raised her. It turned me off a bit. Apparently there is an alternate ending that was filmed for this movie that no longer exists. I heard that this was common and the theater could choose which ending to show it's patrons. Based on the rest of the tone of this movie, I think the current ending is the better one. There were a couple serious stunts in this movie and I'm not sure if Lon Chaney did his own stunts, but I was impressed. I was lucky to see this with the musical score composed by H. Scott Salinas in 2002. It was excellent and matched the film well. This may not be one of the great silent films, but I am glad I was able to catch this rarely seen gem on TCM (Turner Classic Movies).
Rank: #3 in
1928, #14 in 1920s

A League of Their Own (1992) - ***
This is a nice movie that tells the true story of the Women's Baseball League during WWII. The characters are great and they are played well. Before seeing this movie for the first time, I didn't really know much about this piece of American history. It's a nice tribute to the players and a fun, touching story.

Leprechaun (1993) - *1/2
Someone probably could have taken the legend of the leprechaun and made a decent horror movie, but unfortunately is not it. It falls short with it cheesiness and excessive gore...it may be the only movie I've seen with death by pogo stick. Really, the only reason to watch this movie is if you want to see Jennifer Aniston in her first feature film (pre-Friends). Her character isn't too far from Rachel Green. This is just your typical horror movie with a leprechaun doing the killing. I think a better idea for a horror story with leprechauns would have been to have the little one creatively punish people based on their wishes...then again, just about anything would have been better than this movie.
Rank: Dishonorable Mention
St. Patrick's Day Movie

Lock Up (1989) - ***
Sly is a guy in prison, just trying to serve his time to get back to his wife. 6 months from release, a warden he once made look bad is going to do everything he can to make sure Sly doesn't make it out. I liked this movie. I think parts are a little unrealistic, but I'm willing to forgive them. There are some other interesting characters...Eclipse, First-Base, Dallas, The Bird Man (There's one in every prison movie). And of course the bad yard boss and correctional officers that seem to all be controlled by the warden.

The Lodger (1927) - ***
The Lodger is universally considered the best of Hitchcock's silents. Even in this early piece we see some of Hitch's trademark theme's, like the possibility of the innocent man accused and some interesting camera shots. It's a story that's loosely based on the Jack the Ripper killings in London. In this movie the serial killer is known as The Avenger and is killing blondes, which has the fair-haired girls of London worried. During this time a mysterious man shows up looking for a room to rent from a family. This lodger has some quirky habits of going out on foggy nights and has them wondering who exactly this lodger that's living in their house really is. I particularly enjoyed the scene where the Lodger is playing chess with Daisy. This movie definitely showcases Hitchcock's early talent for the thriller genre and he keeps you guessing throughout. I have read that Hitchcock wanted a different ending, but that it was shot down by the movie executives. I won't mention the endings to avoid spoiling the movie, but I would have liked to see it Hitch's way. Unfortunately this was long before the days of shooting alternate versions, so we just have to imagine how he would have done it. It's amazing to me to watch Hitchcock's quality movies from the 1920s-1970s. He truly deserves the title, The Master of Suspense. He dedicated his life to the art of filmmaking and we get to reap the benefits.
Rank: #2 in 1927, #8 in 1920s

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) - ***1/2
The Lord of the Rings series is definitely set to be the epic of the early 2000s. This first movie has definitely revitalized the fantasy-adventure genre. I enjoyed it in the theater, but having not read the books I think I was more focused on learning the stories and characters. But on a second, more relaxed, viewing I was able to enjoy the movie even more. The story lines are interesting, the characters enjoyable and realistic, the scenery is exquisite. The special F/X and sets are fantastic, seamlessly blending characters of different proportions. The only slight negative, is that by nature, it leaves you hanging at the end. Since the rest of the series is being brought to us so quickly, I suppose that's okay. I sure am looking forward to the next installment to see the adventures continue. I guess that's one advantage of not reading the books, the movies will be that much more of a surprise.
Rank: #2 in

The Lost Boys (1987) - ***
A pretty decent 80's vampire movie. The story is good enough and it's well acted by an allstar 80's cast...Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz and the two Coreys (Haim & Feldman). After a divorce, Sam and Michael move with their Mom (Dianne Wiest) into their Grandpa's (Barnard Hughes) house in Santa Carla...The murder capital of the world. With the help of two boys, the Frog brothers who work at the local comic book store, they try to figure out how to deal with the town's vampire problem. A bit corny, but somehow it works for me. A nice blend of cheesy humor mixed in with some hard core vamps. It features a good and appropriate 80s soundtrack, including an eery original theme song, "People are Strange" performed by Echo and the Bunnymen, and Run DMC's version of "Walk This Way".

Love at First Bite (1979) - **
A pretty cheesy vampire spoof, starring George Hamilton and Susan Saint James. It's definitely a bit dated, set in the end of the disco era. As many faults as this movie has, it does have some fairly amusing scenes...like when the bat flies into the poor families apartment and they try to catch the black chicken for food. If you keep your expectations low and you go into it in the mood for a late 70s vampire spoof, you might not be too disappointed. I actually found myself mildly entertained laughing at this movie. Granted most of the laughs may have been unintentional, but there are few honest chuckles in there.


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