Larry H's Movie Reviews for 1998 (64)
First Prev Next
Sort by Title:
Sort by Date:
Dates are United States release dates
October 23, 1998. Opening Day. Loew's at the Fountains and some Bubba driving a big white pickup got my parking spot. Where's Pleasantville when you need it? How many of you more mature folks on this list were alive in 1958? That's the flashback year for the setting of this flick. Teenage brother and sister in the '90's are fighting over a special remote control that was given to them by the TV repairman (Don Knotts) and - voila - they are transported into TV Pleasantville that is currently being shown on a Nickelodeon type all night marathon of the show that is set in the '50's called "Pleasantville." This town and its inhabitants and the story line are a combination of "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" "Father Knows Best" "Twilight Zone" "Back to the Future" and the "Wizard of Oz."
The teenagers are David (Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon); from a broken home and still young enough to be full of dreams and fears and not have a clue who they really are. So they are good candidates to go off to the land of "Pleasantville" where everything is literally black and white without change, discord, disease, rain, or a missed goal in basketball. And the Ozzie-father comes home everyday from work and hangs his hat, drops his briefcase, and declares "Honey, I'm home." and then Harriet/June Cleaver-mother greets him in flowing dress and pearls. The problem is that our two teenagers that are the children of Ozzie (William H. Macy) and Harriet (Joan Allen) feel compelled to show the dull little folks "the ways of the world" and all heck breaks loose.
This film is a satire of every aspect of American culture: sex, race, nudity, stupidity, and some other idities. I cared what happened to these folks and the towns people, especially the owner of the malt shop played by Jeff Daniels. Dorothy and Toto could have been in this movie and explained to the viewer...."is there someplace where there is no trouble?....do you think it exists, Toto?....maybe somewhere over the rainbow, but no - we don't even have any color here on this farm that's about to get hit by a tornado....but wait, Toto, now that we are in the Land of Oz (Pleasantville) we have color and we can find our dreams in..... in our own backyard ... it was in us all the time.... oh Toto its so good to be home." Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 89. Larry H.
This movie will garner 6-9 nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Screenplay Adaptation, and for acting: Oprah Winfrey (Sethe), Danny Glover (Paul D) Thandie Newton (Beloved), and Kimberly Elise (Denver).
The story is a combination of "Roots," "Shindler's List," "Poltergeist," and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" And you ask, "But, Larry H, how can that be?" Gotta see this one to believe it. I was at the noon showing at Loew's and the crowd was near 100. Screenplay is based on the novel by Toni Morrison and it must have been a doozy.
Winfrey plays Sethe who "walked" away from her slave beginnings in Kentucky. She made this walk over a 28 day period and was eight months pregnant and had no shoes. The pain and anguish that Sethe suffered were of Biblical proportions. When she made it to Ohio, her life was still under a cloud and death and sadness were near overwhelming. Sethe's human spirit and the will to survive and her "thick love" for her children is the fabric of this film. Sethe found some comfort in Paul D who was also from "Sweet Home" which was their name for the slave existence that they had survived. Sethe explained to Paul D that "...this ain't the good life, but it ain't the other." Sethe has an eighteen year old daughter that was born at the end of her "walk" and there is a mystery about her other children especially the one name "Beloved" that shows up to live with her. Is Beloved real or is she just a spirit? Is her presence to comfort Sethe or condemn her? Or torture her?
Glover and Winfrey have several passionate scenes where each tenderly caresses the numerous scars from the whip on the other's back. And those scenes are emotional lightweights compared to the overall movie of 172 minutes. This is heavy stuff with many flashbacks and subtle, yet powerful dialogue. Most of the movie takes place in Ohio after Sethe has left her "Sweet Home" and proudly resettled in her Ohio home that she described to Paul D as "... not evil, just sad."
Sometime the movie-going experience is not fun but is important to better understand humans, love, suffering, hatred, perseverance, betrayal, and deep foreboding grief. I am glad I saw this film, but it will be a while before I do it again. If ever. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 91. Larry H.
October 15, 1998, 12:10 pm Loew's #11. I swear I thought it was Friday (Pants on Fire!) Ok, so maybe I was just slipping off to catch a little ole 96 minute movie and I was back at the office before anyone missed me. I needed to laugh.
And laughs is what I got. This movie is a knee-slapper if you, too, are goofy and/or like slap-stick. Setting: LA. Plot: eleven year old daughter of Chinese diplomat is kidnapped by Hong Kong mafia-types and demands $50 million for her safe return. Enter the egotistical FBI who do not want the help of Detective Lee (Jackie Chan) who is flying in from Hong Kong to help out. So, the FBI gets the LAPD to assign someone to baby-sit this Chinese detective and keep him out of their business. The LAPD cop assigned to this silly task is Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker). Tucker plays a jive talking hip-hop cop that does not want a partner including the high-kicking Lee.
Tucker gets in one mess after another and Lee bails him out when possible and the quips between them and Tucker and anyone he comes into contact with are hilarious. Meanwhile, the little girl will be blown up real good unless somebody saves the day.
Jackie Chan's karate/kung fu kicks, spins, jumps, and all around butt stomping of bad guys is a thing of beauty - even if you do not like such foolishness. This movie is fun and does not let the stupid story line get in the way of some good guns, bombs, bad guys, gags, and guffaws. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 86. Larry H.
Opening day - the crowd was a little sparse. There were seven of us. Can't fool the public. The backdrop of this almost Capraesque movie is a home shopping network that will do anything to increase sales. The studio stage, control room etc. of the Good Buy Shopping Network is the work and playground of Ricky (Jeff Goldblum) and Kate (Kelly Preston). Ricky is an on-air talent and his sales have been "flat" for months and he is given an ultimatum to do better or else. Kate is a marketing person who has all the answers if Ricky will follow her suggestions. Ricky is the fallen guy that must be rescued by a angel-type person a la Capra and then grow into doing the right thing. The angel type person is the "Holy Man" played by Eddie Murphy. The Holy Man who wears only a robe-like shirt and flowing pants the entire movie is named simply "G". Apparently, he has no past, drivers license, social security number etc. Yet, this Holy Man talks softly and with confidence that all you have to do is "Let go and .......Let God" - negative on that. G says, as he hawks products on the failing network, "Let go and trust your inner desires... and continue your journey." That's not an angel, that's New Wave mumbo jumbo. But the ploy works in this film and convinces the shopping network public and G is on the cover of "Time" and "Newsweek" and yada, yada, yada.
This is not "Touched By An Angel"; it's "Touched By A Baldheaded Eddie Murphy Speaking Feel-Good Lines While Saving Jeff Goldblum From His Sorry Self So He Can Love Kate, Save The Network, And G Can Keep Moving On His Journey." I say "G"ood riddance.
The amazing aspect of this movie is that the acting was outstanding. But the story was sappy, sophomoric, and stupid. The viewers around the country bought "G" shirts with such captions as "G is Good" and "The G Generation" and made statements like "Higher Consciousness...Lower Prices!" Geez.
This is the second movie in a row that I have seen whose leading character had a single letter of the alphabet as a name. Z and now G. I think I will change my name. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 75. L
Its been raining all day (Oct 6) so there is no soccer practice today. "Hey, Eric, you wanna go see "AntZ"....Have Mom bring you to AMC 24 ....meet you out front at 5:00 pm...Ok, Dad, I'm down for that!" This animation movie has been very appealing to him and he's been bugging me about taking him.
"AntZ" is an attempt by DreamWorks to show-off its advanced skills in animation and ability to get an all-star voice cast while showcasing life in a colony of ants that displays human humor without losing the charm of ants. Nice try. Did not work.
The "Z" in "AntZ" is a puny-bodied ant that is a reluctant hero and neurotic personality with the voice of Woody Allen. Now, there's a stretch. One of the other lead characters was a beefed-up ant worker/soldier that had an "Aaaadrian accent" with the voice of - you guessed it - Sylvester Stallone. The princess was Sharon Stone and the Queen was Jane Curtin's voice. The plot involved love between Z and the Princess and a coup attempt by a General with the voice of Gene Hackman who sounded like a whiny "Little Bill" (C. Eastwood's "Unforgiven"). The highlight of the movie was a confrontation between Eric and me involving Gummi Bears - those "yellows" are terrible. A small fight broke out between us and there was some spitting and throwing, but I was able to restore order. It was ugly, but fun. We considered buying some Raid on the way home to give the ants some pay back for what they had done to us.
I did not actually "walk" this movie because Eric wanted to hang in there until the very end just to see how it finished. Good news: 77 minutes. However, I did go out of theatre #20 and sit on a bench for 10-15 minutes to take the edge off my boredom. I told Eric that he had some work to do if he wants to grow up and be like his "Old Man" and he needed to learn the finer points of the "The Art of the Walk." Guidelines to live by:
- If its spit you must quit
- If it sucks save your bucks
- If its no fun start to run
- If it takes a toll then Rock 'n Roll
Grade 65 W*. Larry H. * partial walk
October 2, 1998, AMC Theatres at First Colony in Sugar Land. Theatre # 23; very small and intimate. Simon Birch (Ian Michael Smith) is a twelve year old boy that was abnormally small (under three feet) since birth. His parents were embarrassed of him and provided little emotional support. But Simon was blessed with his dear friend Joe Wentworth (Joseph Mazzello) who was very normal, cute, athletic, and had a loving mother (Ashley Judd) that treated Simon as a son. Joe and Simon had a lot in common though: Simon had no parental support and Joe had no father; the kids called Simon names like "Little Munchin" and Joe "the little Bastard". Joe and Simon were buds in a small town that was big on gossip and judging their neighbors. They played baseball, swam, and Joe rode his bike with a side cart that fit Simon perfectly.
They attended the local New England church together, too. The Sunday School teacher was superbly portrayed by Jan Hooks whose specialty was shame. And the Rev. Russell was at a loss to answer Simon's many questions: "Does God have a plan for each us?....I think he has plan for me and I think he has a special purpose for me..." Simon has a deep faith in God. Joe is not so sure.
This is a "tug at your heart" film and it makes no apology. The story begins with Joe as an adult in the cemetery with the church in the background looking down on the grave of "Simon Birch 1952-1964" so I was feeling sad even before the opening narration by adult Joe (Jim Carrey - yes that Jim Carrey) told us that "Simon Birch taught me more about God than...." Whoa, we're not even finished with the opening credits and we know death and loving friendship is the backbone of the story. The bond between these two twelve year olds, the love of a mother, a fatherless boy , a misunderstood boy, misguided Christians, a loving God, romance. Joe's mother dies an accidental and tragic death and takes the secret of the identity of Joe's real father with her. Not knowing the identity of his real father and his perceived need to know is one of the compelling themes of the movie.
Simon represents the good in people and the qualities that we strive for: love, understanding, intelligence, forgiveness, loyalty, mischievous, unbending beliefs, strength of conviction, fun loving, appreciative. He also likes to go under water while swimming and test his little body's ability to hold air while he counts "... one Mississippi, two Mississippi...etc " and seems to increase his ability to stay under water longer and longer. Simon gets frustrated when Joe does not share his enthusiasm about holding his breath. Joe tells Simon "..that nobody cares how long you can hold your breath..." but Simon keeps pushing the issue because "...who knows why..." Simon loved baseball, Roger Maris, airplanes, and Joe. This story captures love on many levels. One of the "loving" characters was Ms. Wentworth's last boyfriend Ben played by Oliver Platt who is fast becoming one of the great character actors of the 90's. Ben is the adult that the two boys trust.
The relationship between Simon and Joe should be required viewing for anyone that has trouble expressing love or understanding God. I made a mistake today. I did not take my twelve year old son with me to see "Simon Birch". I will correct that mistake this weekend. I added four points to this grade based on the last twenty minutes of the movie. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 90. Larry H.
September 25, 1998. Theatre #1 at Loew's. 12:10pm. 80-90 folks. Small theatre. I told the manager that he needed to shift this movie to a larger venue because "Ronin" will be a box office hit. I am always trying to help others. He thanked me. I think the manager at Loew's likes me because he thinks that my patronage is important to his pension and profit sharing plan.
What in the world is Robert De Niro doing in a movie like this - you ask yourself. Because its one of the most thoughtful, fun, and exciting guns and bombs movie in a long time and Bobby knew it. This flick is a combination of Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much," a James Bond movie, and a good episode of "Mission Impossible" with a couple of car chases worthy of Steve McQueen in "Bullit". I am getting all mushy just thinking about it.
De Niro (Sam) plays a worn out CIA guy who is hired to do a job for reasons unknown, but he needs the money. He is hooked up with a rag-tag group of other KGB types that are seemingly out of work and are willing to be a "Ronin" which is according to Japanese tradition is a former samurai warrior who is out on his own because his master has died. Sam's main partner is Vincent the French guy played by Jean Reno. The head of the group is Dierdre, an Irish gal that knows how to use a weapon and manipulate men to accomplish the very dangerous task of ambushing a 2-3 car caravan and capturing a suitcase type container before the Russians buy or steal it. What's in the case? That's part of the fun and why they call it "action suspense." The movie takes place in various parts of France and on the very narrow streets of Europe.
Casting was a cinch for this movie. Let's get De Niro and make sure the lines in his face are not touched up and that he always has a two day growth and get Jean Reno for the weird French flare and throw in Natascha McElhone (Dierdre) for long legs and golden blond hair and keep it moving and provide only enough hints to the story so the viewer will have to think and wish for a program that would help keep up with all the characters, plots, and double crosses.
Sam's favorite gun was a "1911 style ....45 caliber" pistol and miscellaneous anti-tank weapons that blow up cars and stuff. High marks for guns and bombs. Director John Frankenheimer has produced an action movie that does not rely heavily on special effects, but rather an actor's glance or stare with sound contrasts that go from loud explosions to a quick cut to a singing choir. Camera positions were Hitchcockian. The story is interesting the entire 121 minutes. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 92. Larry H.
September 18, 1998. About 30 minutes ago I wrote a heart-felt review about "One True Thing" and its gone into cyberspace never to be retrieved. I don't have time or the energy to recreate it. So, here's the short version. Great movie. 4-6 nominations including best picture. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 94. Larry H. 4:30 pm Friday
September 11, 1998. I ain't scared of no flood. Frances was just a little 'ole TD - wasn't no 'cane, so you water wussies quit trying to play the rain card and get out on the street and watch a good movie. Ok, so this is not the Ken Starr report, but at least its only rated "R". Theatre #17 Loew's- about 80-90 folks at a noon showing. Matt Damon is a big star with mega box office quality. As the movie starts I am drinking a big Dr. Pepper and eating buttered popcorn with one hand and chocolate covered almonds with the other. I was wound a little tight for this one.
"Rounders" is about the game of poker/Texas Hold 'Em and the characters that make up the players. We get to know these players and most importantly their defects which are painful. Damon stars as Mike McDermott and serves as a part-time narrator and explains to us before the title of the movie "... that after a half hour, if you have not figured out who the sucker is, then its probably you." What a great line! McDermott is in law school paid for by his gambling money and is living with classmate Jo (Gretchen Mol) who is not too happy with the boy's obsessive behavior, but Mike is trying to give up gambling and playing cards even though he emphasizes that "... its not about luck" - its about odds and knowing when to fold a hand and walk away. Mike's old high school buddy "Worm" (Edward Norton) is getting out of prison for fixing a basketball game which involved Mike, but Worm did not rat him out which is the good news and the bad news for Mike. Trying to return this favor with loyalty is playing with fire when dealing with the hapless, loser Worm. I found myself wanting to scream out to Mike - "Hey, Mike, why do you think they call him Worm?" already. Mike and Worm win some and lose some and sometimes do not know when to fold em. Worm owes $15,000.00 to the local Mafia wannabe. The enforcer is named "Grama" who leans on the boys to make payment in five days or else. Grama's boss is Teddy KGB. I give high marks for the name alone. Teddy is a Russian goon that also is a top player in the "clubs" in the New York City area. Teddy has his own club and is superbly played by John Malkovich even though one would not mistake his accent for a real Ruskie. We learn in this movie that professional players do not think and act like you and me and can "read" the tourist player by watching for "tells" which reveals the cards held by the unschooled by knowing what the casual touch of the cards or hand over the mouth really means. Or the obvious check-raise by the rookie who is trying to finesse the big boys and is merely falling into their trap.
Before going to this movie I interviewed my semi-professional poker playing brother, Hold 'Em Harrison. We agreed that the all time greatest poker playing movie was "The Cincinnati Kid" starring Edward G. Robinson and Steve McQueen. "Rounders" will at least cause an argument among players when discussing this subject. You poker players will be glad to see that Johnny Chan, former winner of the million dollar World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, is given a revered role in this flick.
Damon carries this movie. The boy is hot. Don't forget that in December of '97 we first saw "Good Will Hunting" and only a few weeks ago we saw him play the title role in "Saving Private Ryan." His Mike McDermott is played with ease by what now appears to be a veteran actor who is not yet 30. I think he needs an agent from Sugar Land. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 88. Larry H.
Its about 1:05 pm August 28, 1998. I "walked" out on "54" about 54 seconds ago and am trying to salvage my Friday afternoon of movie-watching which is my part-time job. I've got another job, but man can not live by the law alone. So I slide into my seat just as "Blade" starring Wesley Snipes is starting and I'm impressed that my skills at changing movie theatres is at its peak. The opening scene of "Blade" involves some dude going into a warehouse that turns out to be a dance club of young hip people that seem a little strange, but these crowded dance floors can cause people to seem strange when they are really quite normal. Loud music and camera panning. Then the sprinkler system starts spraying everyone with blood. Lots of blood. Everyone is covered in blood. Snipes mystically shows up and starts shooting the dancers who have now turned into angry vampires. Being the quick wit that I am and borderline professional moviegoer, I say "I am outta here." Darn. Two "walks" in 30 minutes. Rock 'n Roll
65 W. Larry H