Movie Critiques and Raves

Movie Critiques & Raves

Catching Up On a Great List of Movies – April 2006 – July 2007

Hello everyone. It’s been along time since I posted a movie review because of my duties to my company, Lancer Media, Inc. I haven’t stopped attending movies, though. My favorite theaters these days are The Galleria in Sherman Oaks (which is soon becoming an Arclight Theater!), the ArcLight Cinema in Hollywood and the Laemmle in Encino. The Laemmle, named after Max and Kurt Laemmle who started the Los Angeles-based chain in 1938, is a haven for independent films, much like the Kendall Square Theater in Cambridge, MA. By the way, the Laemmle’s cousin Carl Laemmle founded Universal Pictures so I guess movies run in the family.

Most people enjoy movies and most people enjoy weighing in on the best movies of all time so I recommend List of Favorite Movies which discusses best DVD movies, best drive-in movies, best movies with soundtracks, best thrillers, best suspense, best comedies, you name it.

Must See – 4 STARS from April 2006 – Dec 2006
Paris, je t’aime Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Steve Buscemi

Children of Men Clive Owen

Pan’s Labyrinth Ivana Baquero

Dreamgirls Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose

Friends with Money Catherine Keener, Jason Isaacs, Timm Sharp, Joan Cusack, Frances McDormand

Lady in the Water Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Bob Balaban

The Ant Bully Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Paul Giamatti

Mission Impossible III Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan

The Omen Liev Schreiber, Predrag Bjelac

The Lake House Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer

Superman Returns Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, Parker Posey

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly

Man of the Year Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Jeff Goldblum

Stranger then Fiction Will Ferrel, Queen Latifah

Pursuit of Happyness Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton

The Break-Up Vince Vaughn, Jennife Aniston

Must See – 4 STARS from Jan 2007
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint

Spiderman 3 Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace

Ocean’s Thirteen George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Elliott Gould, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, Al Pacino, Casey Affleck, Carl Reiner, Ellen Barkin

Evan Almighty Steve Carrell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham

Knocked Up Seth Rogan, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd

Movie Critique and Rave for APRIL 2006

Marisa Tomei photo

Must See – 4 STARS
Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen, Sean Astin, Donnie Wahlberg, John Goodman and many other great actors. Directed by Randall Miller. John Goodman is emotive (phenomenal). Robert Carlyle is brilliant and understated. Marisa Tomei puts in another endearing, credulous, solid performance.

Movie Critique and Rave for MARCH 2006

Natalie Portman photo

You Must See This
V for Vendetta – Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving . Directed by James McTeigue. This movie should figure prominently in Oscar voting for 2007. Natalie Portman continues to deliver and mature as an actress. Best Actress nominee in 2007. Although you only encounter the mask – not the face – of “V, ” Hugo Weaving’s character, his performance is extraordinary, polished, cadenced and powerful. Don’t miss this film, especially if you get the chance to view it on IMAX or in CineramaDome as I did at the ArcLight Cinema in Hollywood.

Transamerica – Felicity Huffman. Directed by Duncan Tucker. Reese Witherspoon performed admirably in Walk the Line but Felicity Huffman deserved the 2006 Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of transgendered Bree Osbourne. Kevin Zegers shines as Bree’s son Toby.

Walk the Line – Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon. Directed by James Mangold. I’ve not seen many of his performances but I can’t imagine Joaquin Phoenix, as Johnny Cash, giving a better performance. He certainly deserved the Best Oscar nomination he received in 2006. Philip Seymour Hoffman won Best Actor for Capote in 2006.

Sex, Relationships and Sometimes Love – a play. ErinRose Widner. Directed by Joelle Arqueros. Fifteen (15) plot vignettes performed by 15 actors delve into familiar yet confusing (terrifying) territory. The play examines the connection (sometimes, sometimes, not) between sex and love and how they translate in relationships. We are bound to identify with at least one of the characters.

The Breakup Notebook – The Lesbian Musical – Heidi Godt, Patrick Bristow, Melody Butiu, Jacqueline Maloney, Christine Lakin, Whitney Allen, Lori Scarlett, Kara Maguire, Jodi Dominick, Deb Snyder, Amy Reiss. Directed by Rose Marcario. Brilliantly written, produced and performed. Worth every penny!

16 Blocks – Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse. Directed by Richard Donner.

Movie Critique and Rave for JANUARY 2006

pierce brosnan photo
The Matador – Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis. Directed by Richard Shepard. Pierce Brosnan’s best acting job since The Thomas Crown Affair. Absolutely superb. Great comic timing as well. Greg Kinnear is one of the most underrated actors of our time and Hope Davis underplayed her role to perfection, was laugh out loud funny and brilliant.

You Have to See This
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson. Directed by Mike Newell.

Brokeback Mountain – Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal. Directed by Ang Lee.

Good – Suspenseful
Firewall – Harrison Ford, Virginia Madsen, Paul Bettany. Directed by Richard Loncraine. Paul Bettany is proving he belongs with the best of them. Harrison Ford was good but needs another genre. Virginia Madsen acted well.

If Movies Only Came with a Money-Back Guarantee …
Fun with Dick and Jane – Jim Carrey, Tea Leoni. Directed by Dean Parisot.

Movie Critique and Rave for DECEMBER 2005

morgan freeman photo
You Have to See This
Impossible Boulevard – A play performed at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, CA by Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman, Eva Mendes, Tim Robbins, Marisa Tomei, Alfre Woodard. Guest Musician: Tom Waits. Directed by Brent Hinkley. A wonderful reading performance where each actor portrayed the 40 lives of the homeless, poverty-stricken and abused. A look into these lives asks us to question the role of all this in our society.

As Colette Brooks, Board Trustee of The Actor’s Gang, put it: ” There are 90,000 people sleeping on the streets of Los Angeles … many of whom are victims of circumstance caught in a cycle for which there is little to no public assistance. And while it took a natural disaster to bring the issue of homelessness and poverty to the national stage, it is here … on this Culver City Stage (at the Kirk Douglas Theare) that we witness what is possible when communities work together to address chronic homelessness, mental illness, and domestic violence which has sadly become part of the urban landscape across the country.

naomi watts photo
King Kong – Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks. Directed by Peter Jackson.

The Family Stone – Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Craig T. Nelson, Claire Danes, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, Dermot Mulroney. Directed by Thomas Bezucha.

Movie Critique and Rave for OCTOBER 2005

In Her Shoes – Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, Shirley MacLaine. Directed by Curtis Hanson. Diaz and Collette are good. MacLaine is as good as ever – perfect edge. Mark Feuerstein adds an insightful character edge as Simon Stein.

Movie Critique and Rave for SEPTEMBER 2005

Highly Recommended
An Unfinished Life – Morgan Freeman, Robert Redford, Josh Lucas, Jennifer Lopez, Becca Gardner. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom.

Everything is Illuminated – Elijah Wood, Eugene Hutz. Directed by Liev Schreiber.

Good Fun
Just Like Heaven – Mark Ruffalo, Reese Witherspoon. Directed by Mark Waters.

Movie Critique and Rave for AUGUST 2005

Highly Recommended
March of the Penguins – Narrated with class by Morgan Freeman. Directed by Luc Jacquet.
Broken Flowers – Bill Murray, Julie Delpy. Directed by Jim Jarmusch.
Wedding Crashers – Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn. Directed by David Dobkin.
Who wouldda thought!

Should Have Been Better
Must Love Dogs – Diane Lane, John Cusack
Elizabeth Perkins, Christopher Plummer and Stockard Channing gave great performances to help save the movie. I think the world of John Cusack and Diane Lane’s acting but it didnt work in this movie. Directed by Gary David Goldberg.

Movie Critique and Rave for JULY 2005

Highly Recommended
Star Wars III – Revenge of the Sith – Ewan MacGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, George Lucas

Good Fun
War of the Worlds – Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Steven Spielberg, novel by HG Wells

Wait for the DVD
Bewitched – Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Nora Ephron (Director credit)

Movie Critique and Rave for JUNE 2005

Highly Recommended
Mr. and Mrs. Smith – Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie

Movie Critique and Rave for MAY 2005

Highly Recommended
A Lot Like Love – Amanda Peet, Ashton Kutcher
Kung Fu Hustle – Stephen Chow (Director credit)

Wait for the DVD
Monster in Law – Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – John Malkovich, Kelly Macdonald
I used to trust the movie critiques and raves of Siskel and Ebert implicitly. Two thumbs up signaled a must-see movie. Didn’t even have to read other reviews. Heck, even one-thumb up and I went to see the movie.

The problem with movie critics today is that they forget who they are when critiquing and raving against movies. Movie critics today, shirttailing on the success of Siskel and Ebert, try to shock in order to gain a reading audience. I’ve never read so many negative and scathing reviews of good movies. Conversely, I think the positive reviews of bad movies is on the rise.

So, it’s been left to me. I am my own Movie Critique and Rave. I don’t provide movie storylines. Pick up your local Sunday newspaper for those or click on the movie link below. I also don’t go see every movie. But, I do see many of them. Here, I just tell you what I liked.

Note: I love movies. There are not many movies that I would not recommend seeing whether in the movie theater or at home on DVD. My reasoning is that a so-so plot might be made more tolerable with great acting (The Matador – break out role for Pierce Brosnan, best since The Thomas Crown Affair). Or a bad movie is made worse with bad acting by typically good actors (Nicole Kidman in Bewitched – horrible all around).

Movie Critique and Rave for APRIL 2005

Highly Recommended
El Otro Lado de La Cama – Spanish – Paz Vega
Spanglish – Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni, Paz Vega
Lucia y El Sexo – Spanish – Paz Vega
The Upside of Anger – Joan Allen, Kevin Costner
A Love Song for Bobby Long – John Travolta, Scarlett Johannson

Good Fun
The Interpreter – Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn
Sahara – Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, Steve Zaun
Fever Pitch – Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon
Robots – Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Mel Brooks, Drew Carey, Paul Giamatti

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