Recently Reviewed Movies

Recently Reviewed Movies
Updated: June 19, 2005

Having seen over 3000 movies in my lifetime, I decided to start fresh on this website. I will list the most recently reviewed movies on this page, rank them on a 4 star star system (1 star is the lowest rating), and give a few lines of what struck me about the movie. All the movies I review are located in my Review Archive.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - ***
I really enjoyed this Coen Brothers film where we follow Everett (George Clooney), Pete (John Turturrow), and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) on their Odyssey. For me this movie is brought to life with the rich characters they meet along the way and their interactions with them in the deep South in the 1930s. It all has a very authentic feel to it. I also really liked the old-time American music, highlighted by 'Man of Constant Sorrow'.
Rank: #9 in
2000

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.

Million Dollar Baby (2004) - ***1/2
Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this wonderful movie. On the surface this is a film about an up and coming girl boxer, Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), but really is about much more. It's a movie about life, about family, about accomplishment. The acting of the three stars is excellent. Eastwood turns in a very subdued and impressive performance as Frankie, a trainer and owner of the gym. Hilary swank was magnificent as Maggie Fitzgerald, the self-defined 'white trash' who's been waiting tables since she was 13, but who has aspirations of being a female boxer. And Morgan Freeman was good as usual in his supporting role as Scrap, Frankie's long time friend, and the catalyst between Frank and Maggie. The rest of the supporting cast came off a little on the stereotypical side and one dimensional, but part of that was because they weren't important to the story. I will admit, that as the movie got going, I was starting to feel that the movie was going to be derivative, with some early elements from Rocky V and other movies, but that was just the set up for the rest of the film, which doesn't take too long to unfold. By the end you'll know the meaning of "Mo Cuishle".
Rank: #1 in
2004, #6 in 2000s

Spider-Man 2 (2004) - ***
A solid sequel to my favorite superhero movie. While I have been unimpressed with most of the recent superhero movies (The Punisher, Hulk), the Spider-Man movies have continued to remain a step or two ahead of the pack. While not staying 100% true to the original comics, they don't stray too far. The production is top-notch and give us a visual treat with out going too far beyond believability. Despite some initial reservations, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst have proven to be quality choices for the roles of Spider-Man and Mary Jane. Along with a solid supporting cast and good direction by Sam Raimi, the Spider-Man movie franchise has set the bar for superhero movies in the 2000s. I'm looking forward to the next installment. Unfortunately Spider-Man 3 isn't coming until 2007. Meanwhile, I remain hopeful for other quality additions to the genre.
Rank: #6 in
2004

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) (TV) - ***
I've been watching the classic Charlie Brown specials my whole life, it's still a little hard to see just how cruel everyone treats poor Charlie Brown and this is one of the worst in that department. Still, these specials are near and dear to me and essential holiday viewing. Even knowing the outcome, I still root for Linus to have the Great Pumpkin show up...one of these years I'm sure he will find the most sincere pumpkin patch.
Rank: #6 in
1966, #2 Halloween Movie

Hocus Pocus (1993) - **1/2
A good family fun Halloween movie. While it is rated PG, I would think most kids could handle this one. It does have a few frights, mixed in with a goodly amount of humor. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker play the Sanderson sisters, three witches that are inadvertently released on Halloween night. While not a great film, a good alternative to watching a gory horror film during the Halloween season.
Rank:#6
Halloween Movie

Halloween (1978) - ***
John Carpenter's Halloween gave birth to the modern day slasher film. While not of the same caliber as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Halloween does stand out as the best slasher film made in my lifetime. Jamie Lee Curtis is excellent and believable in her first feature film role. While the supporting cast, like Donald Pleasance and P.J. Soles, aren't totally realistic, they are fun to watch in their stereotypical roles. With the film's low budget, they do surprising well at bringing us a suspensful film with the use of simplistic, yet eery, musical score and a psychopath wearing a modified William Shatner mask. It has become a regular viewing for me during the Halloween season. The sequels leave much to be desired, though the ones with Jamie Lee Curtis are a little better than those without.
Rank: #8 in
1978, #1 Halloween Movie

My Dog Skip (2000) - ***
I'm definitely a sucker for "a boy and his dog" movies. I spent a lot of time with my dog, riding my bike around the neighborhood with him following behind. While this movie might not be old yeller. It's a very good movie that's good for the just about the whole family, though it is rated PG for some serious issues. This is a quality coming of age story and has all the right elements...baseball, bike riding, girls, bullies, Huck Finn (my favorite childhood book), and his dog Skip. Though there's plenty different in this story from my experiences, but there are enough similarities in stories like these that really take me back to the time when I was a boy, roaming the neighborhood learning about life.
Rank: #7 in
2000

Downhill (1927) - ***
Review:
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, #10 in 1920s

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.
Rank: #10 in
2000

U-571 (2000) - ***
U-571 is a quality addition to the submarine genre. They're on a mission to recover an enigma decoder from a stranded German U-Boat. It deals some of the typical issues involved in life on a submarine and at sea in general. And this movie particularly focuses on the relationship between the captain (Bill Paxton) and the XO (Matthew McConaughey) and the critical differences in their jobs. Harvey Keitel is great in his supporting role as the Chief.
Rank: #8 in
2000, #5 Submarine Movie

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) - **
The only positive thing I can say for this movie is that it's slighty better than it's the first Scooby movie. I don't think either of the movies really capture the feeling of the original cartoon. While there a couple chuckles, it's chocked full of jokes, fart humor, and gags that really aren't funny.

Citizen's Band (1977) - **1/2
I found this movie a somewhat interesting look into the CB culture that was so popular in the late 1970s. The movie's biggest flaw is that it takes itself a little too seriously. Paul Le Mat was believable in the somewhat unbelievable role of "Spider", the crusader, trying to cut down on the misuse of the Citizen's Band by tracking down the offenders. I also enjoyed seeing him matched up with Candy Clark who he worked with in my all-time favorite movie, American Graffiti. Not a great movie and pretty dated, but it held my interest.
Rank:
Other Trucker Movie

Erin Brockovich (2000) - ***
Julia Roberts portrayal of the real life Erin Brockovich is, in my opinion, the finest of her career. This movie is based on a true story of a struggling single mom who does whatever it takes to get a job to support her kids. She ends up convincing a law office to hire her and ends up breaking open a major case against a big power company. Albert Finney is excellent in the role of her boss who doesn't know quite how to handle such a strong outspoken woman, but ultimately they make an great team in their common goal of holding PG&E accountable for their actions.
Rank: #6 in
2000

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, #6 in 2000s

Memento (2000) - ***1/2
A very intriguing mystery starring Guy Pearce who convincingly plays a man who can no longer make new memories after an injury during which his wife is killed. He's on a mission to find the killer, while having to overcome his handicap with some interesting use of notes, polaroids, tatoos, and routine. Had someone told me this plotline, I would have never thought they could have pulled off such a wonderful movie. The movie doesn't play in chronological order which adds to the mystery as you try and figure out the truth and who can be trusted along with Leonard. If I didn't know, I would have guessed this condition he suffers from was made up for the movie, but apparently there is such a condition called Anterograde Amnesia, which prevents a person from creating new memories after an injury to the brain. I can't say if the movie follows all the rules of Anterograde Amnesia, but it is highly believable as it plays out. At least for me, I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to live with this handicap, much less trying to deal with this guy's situation. Carrie-Anne Moss and Joey Pants are excellent in their supporting roles.
Rank: #4 in
2000, #7 in 2000s


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