Larry H's Movie Reviews for 1998 (64)
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GO, GO, GOdzilla! I felt like I was a kid again going to see aJapanese movie about a big creature that caused people to speak funnyand the words not match the movement of their mouths. Sneak preveiw atLoew's The Fountains Wednesday night May 19th."Size Does Matter" is part of the hype and I must admit that it was thebiggest lizard that I have ever seen attack New York City. Did I sayattack? That might not be accurate because the army types that wereshooting at it/him were dumb as a board and did not seek good lines ofcommunication with the creature. Even though Matthew Broderick, thebiologist, aka "the worm guy," tried to explain stuff; folks take offhalf-cocked whenever an enormously large lizard comes out of the oceanwith an attitude.
The basic plot is the same as before, but there are some new twists andsurprises. The special effects and computer enhanced images control theflow of the show which is expected in the 90's. But I was disappointedthat I did not bond with the creature as much as I wanted. Bonding witha giant lizard can be a wonderful experience if the director allows thetrue character of the monster to evolve. The involvement of the French"CIA" was a nice addition and the subtle humor of their leader played byJean Reno was fun. This flick was a combo of "Jaws," "Jurassic Park,"and "Fatal Attraction" with a backdrop of an almost constant rain onManhattan. The command headquarters was in New Jersey. The proverbialnews cameraman was named "Animal" and his sidekick was the proverbialdumb blonde. I did not say this movie had a lot of imagination, but ifyou think you will like to see "Godzilla" then you will probably like itand will not like it unless you show up with an appropriate attitude. Ienjoyed the movie because I do not mind "silly". Oh, come on, if youcan buy in on a giant lizard the rest is easy. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 86. Larry H.
I confess that I have done a very bad thing by seeing "Very Bad Things." At least I only did one bad thing. There are so many people dying and blood flowing in this movie that a program to keep up with who will be the next to die and bleed would be helpful. If ever there was a movie that deserved to be termed "black comedy," this is it. The weather was cold and rainy and the wind chill must have been near zero - in Sugar Land - not the movie (ok, I am exaggerating but "really nasty" is accurate). I needed an inside sport and it was Friday afternoon and I just could not make myself go to "Jack Frost" and see Michael Keaton come back as a snowman even though I am sure that it was based on a true story.
Five men on a bachelor party trip to Las Vegas and da boys do some really evil stuff. Alcohol, drugs, and sex were bad enough until the murdering and dismembering kicked in. So where's the humor? Black, huh? So these five totally immature nut-burgers curse and scream at each other and then they get a grip on the situation and turn on each other which is certainly understandable. Especially since they are the most despicable humans I've had the pleasure to watch in a long time. Worse than "Pulp Fiction" and "Boogie Nights" combined. Is that possible? Carmen Diaz and Christian Slater are the smart, self absorbed killers and they are the protagonists.
I was overwhelmed during much of this movie and was haunted by the looming task of writing this review without the required insight to capture the essence of the carnage and decadence. I know I am a professional movie-goer, but sometimes even the pros are skunked. Another confession: toward the end of the movie, I laughed several times. Loudly. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade NR. Larry H
I am not near as tick as Alfred Hitchcock. Director Gus Van Sant took a big chance when he tried to repaint the Mona Lisa. That's like pulling on Superman's cape or the mask of the Lone Ranger. Don't do it, man. Well, ole Gus took a shot at it and at least he followed the script which is as wonderful today as it was when Hitch brought it to the screen in 1960. Where's Anthony Perkins when you need him? Nobody plays crazy better than Tony! Even though Vince Vaughn's Norman Bates was a gallant effort, he's still not the real Norman. I compared Vaughn's every movement and gesture to Perkin's Norman Bates and that's not fun for a viewer; such an effort causes disappointment and fatigue rather than intrigue.
Marion Crane (Anne Heche) steals 400K this time, what with inflation and all (setting is Dec 11,1998) and leaves Phoenix, AZ, to parts unknown. The close-up scenes of Marion driving and hearing the voices accuse her "in her mind" and yet she is determined to keep driving and get away while the music is playing is still a work of art. That Hitchcockian/Psycho music can and was duplicated and it is the finest aspect of the movie. The violins, bass, and harps are still mysterious and scary.
The Shower Scene. Yes, it is reproduced, but something is lost when done in color and this time round Norman's wielding of the knife is more violent and bloody. The terror is missing. The terror IS the shower scene, so what happen? Van Sant tries to be true to the record even to the point of the close-ups of the shower head from below as the water is harmlessly falling on Marion immediately before you-know-what-happens.
Milton Arbogast. One of the all time great literary names. Private Investigator Arbogast was played magnificently by William H "Fargo" Macy. The boyfriend Sam Loomis was ably performed by Viggo Mortensen and perhaps the brightest and only improvement from the original cast was the part of the worried sister Lila Crane (Julianne Moore) who pushed the investigation of the missing Marion.
Great lines that live forever: "Yes, we have a vacancy - 12 rooms - 12 vacancies.... No one ever comes around much anymore since the new highway .... Why don't you stay in Room #1 so you will be close to the office.... ( so Norman can look through the peep hole).... I stuff things - you know - taxidermy.... Norman, don't you put me back in that fruit cellar.... Norman WAS his mother....
The first sight of the neon sign "Bates Motel" still causes fear and Van Sant captures a few memorable scenes of fright, but he cannot stand up to the scrutiny of a Hitchcock fan. This movie did not meet my expectations; and I am feeling very smug about it. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 78. Larry H.
I've seen both of these animations. I don't like animations as a general rule. Eric H. (age 12) liked both of them. I still don't like animations. Rock 'n Roll.
Rugrats - Grade 70
A Bug's Life - Grade 69 S
On the way to see "American History X" I stopped off to watch about an hour of "Elizabeth." Set in 1554, the Elizabeth is Queen Elizabeth I who took the British throne after her half-sister Mary I died. The complicated and not yet mature Queen E was superbly portrayed by Cate Blanchett who will have a shot at least a nomination for her performance. Other nomination possibilities are "costume" and "cinematography." It was a pretty film. I did not see the beginning or the end of this movie so I will give it only half of its probable full grade: 44. I quietly slipped out of theatre #3 and made my way to theatre #8 where the seating capacity at Loew's on this beautiful November 28th was a mere 100.
"American History X" is one of those rare films that tackles tough social issues like race and hatred, but does not sacrifice the portrayal of the deep competing emotions of the human struggle endured by all races. Edward Norton as Derek stars as the murdering Nazi skinhead that goes to prison for savagely killing two black men. Derek committed the killings and "...did not feel any different after doing it." So what's the point? That is the point!
Much of the character and story developed through flashbacks that were in black and white which was a nice touch primarily because the past history of Derek and his family was stark, scary, and sad. This is an extraordinary film. The feelings of rage, love, vengeance, cruelty, hatred, loyalty, betrayal, conviction, confusion, and fear serve this story well. The movie is about the terrible things that involve being a skinhead, but this story is another example that a movie can rip your heart out, make you angry, and cause a caring tear IF the movie has that magic quality that Hollywood producers and directors search for and so rarely find - it works! Why don't THEY ever make a movie anymore that really says something and causes me to think and get involved in the story and not just another Bruce Willis shoot 'em up mall movie. Well, THEY did and this is it.
Edward Norton delivers his part with the energy and passion of an "On the Water Front" Brando or a "Bad Boys" Sean Penn. A nomination for Norton is almost a certainty which means he might get one. Derek's younger and impressionable brother Danny (Edward Furlong) was also outstanding and has an outside shot at Best Supporting Actor. The cast is loaded: Beverly D'Angelo, Avery Brooks, and Elliott Gould. The screenplay by David McKenna is on my short list. What a fun time at the flicks - I love America! Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 94. Larry H.
The enemy is Robert Dean (Will Smith) a nice labor lawyer who gets caught up in a dangerous web of the Mob, National Security Administration, FBI, his law firm, his wife, and a dropout NSA spook, to name a few. Just another lawyer trying to do the Lord's work by helping his clients, but noooooo all the bad guys in D.C. end up wanting a piece of his action. At the bottom of this complicated plot is money and politics. Oh, duh. Jon Voight plays a NSA power broker who has the bullets and brains to make it happen up side your head. The politics involve the "Telecommunications and Security Act" which is the irony in the movie because every microphone, camera, spy satellite, and listening devise known to man is used in this film to aid the bad guys to catch Mr. Dean, the innocent victim. Side note: Jon Voight was the previous owner of the car purchased by George Constanza.
The "Enemy of the State" appeals to all age groups which is part of its box office magic. Its already made a gazillion dollars in less than one week. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Director Tony Scott again team up to create a fast-paced scene-changing flick with lots of action, plots, sub plots, counter plots, and a great cast. Gene Hackman is one of my favorites and he shines in his role as an over-the-hill paranoid secret agent of the NSA that had to disappear 18 years ago because the agency needed to disavow his existence, "but I don't hold a grudge against them, I would do the same thing... it had to be done." A spy's life is dangerous. Ok, so there's this murder and a video of it and Bobby Dean accidentally ends up with the tape maybe kinda sorta and the NSA and Jon V want it. And we are off to the races over hill and dale and rooftops and alleys and lingerie shops and fast cars. Can Mr. Dean survive such an onslaught of all out surveillance war. Neat spy gadgets and guns abound. This show will keep your attention if you are an action suspense kind of guy. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 87. Larry H.
November 20, 1998. So what's the big deal about "The Waterboy" that its already grossed over $24 million in only its second week? I gotta know. We need to laugh and goofy sells! Oh, now I get it. Adam Sandler is The Waterboy who is a little dimwitted and lacks some social skills, but serves a mean cup of water. Bobby Boucher (Boo-shay) takes his job as "water distribution engineer" very seriously even at the tender age of 31, but all the college football players in Louisiana use Bobby for football fodder and the usual humiliation. That's ok though because part of the shtick of this movie is the age-old story that the downtrodden will rise up and "open a can of whip ass" on all the jerks that deserve such treatment but we the viewer do not have what it takes to deliver. Bobby does. In spite of his mama played by Kathy Bates who is ideal for the overbearing and fiercely protective Mama Boucher. Mama serves snake and alligator as regular meals in her Louisiana swamp shack and believes Bobby's girlfriend Vicki Vallencourt (Fairuza Balk) is "...the devil and ...so was Benjamin Franklin." Mama also has a mule living in her house named Steve, and tells Bobby to come to her room before he goes to bed "...so I can brush your hair." Bobby's in a mess.
But wait, he and the mentally deranged Coach Klein (Henry "The Fonz" Winkler) discover that if Bobby gets angry at some of the people that have treated him badly in the past and envisions them as opposing football players he then becomes Dick Butkus-like and can rip their heads off and help the 0-40 football team win enough games to make it to the Bourbon Bowl at the end of the season. Makes perfect sense: 31 year old waterboy saves football season. Come on folks - play along.
I attended this movie by myself. No I mean it. No one else was in the theatre. It was very freeing. I did some things. Try it sometime.
The reason Bobby was a waterboy as his life's quest is also very logical. His mother told him that his father had gone to the Sahara Desert and died of dehydration, but for a drink of water. Sometimes Bobby likes to call it H2O. Despised Gatorade. Even checked the pH in the water before allowing the players to drink it and had categories: Rain Water, Spring Water, and Distilled Water. He was a darn good waterboy.
His girlfriend Vicki Vallencourt had a couple of tattoos and recently gotten out of prison, and her picture is in the latest dictionary next to "Skank." Ms. Balk plays beautifully next to the hapless Bobby who thinks he is a virgo. Sandler and Tim Herlihy co-wrote this film and they know how to push an audience without going too far and lace the lovable story with some knee-slappers. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 84. Larry H.
Its is a cold and rainy afternoon and I am in a hurry because I'm running late for the 11:50am show time and I'm thinking about how I'm going to Hobby Airport after the show to pick up my friend Arnie "The Body" Christianson (He's from Minnesota) and something really embarrassing happens. I was wearing my usual Friday afternoon going-to-the-movie attire of tight wranglers, HiTech hiking shoes, casual shirt, and a lock of my hair was hanging down almost touching one eye when I heard a female voice over my left shoulder cry out "...Brad....Brad.... oh Brad..." I thought surely she is not calling to me, but she came closer and began to follow me...and I began to run toward the ticket counter...and she was coming ever closer...when I whirled around and looked her right in the eye and softly yet firmly said "...my dear woman I am not Brad Pitt... I am the humble Larry H." A small tear formed in the corner of her eye and began to trickle down her cheek, and I headed to theatre #1. Whew, that fame must be difficult for some to handle.
"Meet Joe Black" starring Brad Pitt as Death, who has come to get William Parrish (Anthony Hopkins), has a memorable and attention-getting beginning, a spectacular ending that will bring tears to your eyes, and all the right stuff in between that makes a wonderful experience at the movies. I was riveted to the screen the entire three hours and cared deeply about the characters. Bill Parrish is a very rich chairman of the board kind of guy that is also a pretty nice man. So why has Mr. Death come to get him? Bill and Death enter into an agreement that Bill will not reveal who Death is and in turn Bill will have a little longer to live. The Brad Pitt body is chosen by Death in order to "take a holiday" and experience being a human. However, Bill must cope with this unusual situation as best he can and awkwardly introduces Death to his family as Joe Black. To complicate things more, Joe falls in love with Bill's daughter Susan. The stares, glances, and touching between Joe and Susan are things of legendary love. I've said it before - there's nothing greater than love unless its forbidden love. Claire Forlani, as Susan, is magnificent and on my short list of Academy nominations. Brad Pitt could come out of this movie with a new reputation as an actor and not just another Robert Redford look alike. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, the boy's hair is more dominant than Redford's, if that's possible. Watch his hair in this movie; its amazing. Sir Anthony is astonishing as always and soon will get one of those Lifetime Achievement Awards. I want one of those.
This is billed as a remake of the old movie "Death Takes a Holiday" and scores with intrigue and immortality. Nobody took a holiday when making this film, so high marks for Producer/Director Martin Brest. Brest delivered love, death, sadness, anger, suspense, and the best of all - gratitude! Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 94. Larry H.
I had been to a 12:00 pm appointment with my gunsmith (Briley Mfg/Claudio Salassa) to get my pistol tuned up for a match in Somerville on Sunday when I swung by the Fountains Loew's Theatres just in time to catch the 1:00 pm showing on opening day of "The Siege." I had to see this flick because I had to know if New York survived yet another catastrophe - what with Godzilla hitting them earlier in the year and all. We all know from the TV ads that Brooklyn is in for some bad times when allegedly Arab Terrorists set off a series of bombs starting with a bus and climaxing with the death of hundreds including the rich and famous. Uh oh, now they have gone and done it. Killing the ordinary bus citizens is manageable, but these wackos went too far so the President and Washington folks declare Marshall Law and deploy troops into the city to get things under control because these Arabs ...." are threatening our way of life."
The Army troops are commanded by Bruce Willis/ Gen William Devereaux (same name as the bad guy in "Silver Streak" but no relation) and the good general is wound a little tight and lacks certain sensitivities to be running such an operation. He took a page out of World War II history books and rounded up all the young male Arabs and "herded" them into football field cages with barbed wire. Meanwhile, the good guy is FBI agent Anthony "Hub" Hubbard who tries to do the right thing and catch the bad-guy terrorists within the restraints of the US Constitution. Then we have a CIA spook that has a couple of names - Elise and Sharon - depending on the situation who is played by Annette Bening. Elise/Sharon gives new meaning to "sleeping with the enemy." Hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do for her country! These three get entangled and so does the Army, FBI, and CIA. The best character was played by Hub's partner Frank (Tony Shalhoub) who is Lebanese and has his own ethnic problems with the Army. But at least Frank had a family and a sense of humor which more than I can say for the three stars in this movie. Character development weak.
The story started out suspenseful and action-packed and peaked midway and coasted home with a documentary mentality. I grade the first half of this film 88 and the second half 78. You do the math. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 83. Larry H.
I took a chance on this movie. It started at 12:10 pm at Loew's which is my ideal time to go to my Friday afternoon flick. 98 minutes is also viewer friendly. If you liked "Rambo" and/or "Terminator" then this is a must see. Kurt Russell is the star as Todd the Soldier that acts in almost robotic fashion to carry out his orders of war and destruction. He has been programmed to be a fighting machine since birth and he can kill you a hundred different ways - with his hands and feet. Not to mention some Terminator-type weapons. Kurt bulked up for this role and looks great a la Stallone muscles and veins sticking out with a glare of Swartzenegger. His total dialogue is 25-50 words. On the left side of Todd's face are tattoos: TODD O POS 3465. All of the soldiers have such markings. On the right side of his face beginning above his eye is an impressive scar that healed badly.
Mid 21st century and Todd is in his early 40's. Oops, now we have a new brand of soldier and Todd and his boys are "replaced by better soldiers." Todd was not only replaced, he was left for dead after Caine 607 beat the crap out of him. Caine 607 was the result of improved DNA engineering, so the older out-of-date soldiers were expendable. Appropriately, Todd and some other dead soldiers are dropped off in a space junkyard located on Arcadia Waste Disposal Planet. This planet was supposed to be uninhabited, but come to find out there were some refugees living a cave-like existence that had formed a "community" in order to survive. Loving-type people that did not trust the soldier who mysteriously shows up. These people have the normal emotions of love and fear, but Todd does not fit in because he only feels "fear and discipline." Ok, you get the idea - there is a big fight between the good guys and the bad guys and guess who wins! Interesting note: some people are now saying that my body favors Kurt Russell's.
We are both in our 40's; it could happen. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 86. Larry H.