Larry H's Movie Reviews for 1999 (64)
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Dates are United States release dates
I got up this morning already pumped to see this movie in hopes that it would be one of the biggies of the Christmas season. About 125 other folks had the same idea when they showed up at Tinseltown for the 11:00 am premier. I was the sixth car to arrive on the south side of Tinseltown's giant parking lot. Told you I was pumped. The next 30-40 days (mid Dec-Jan) historically is the season for the nomination-worthy film releases. Get ready. This movie is a masterpiece. Adapted from a book by Stephen King, writer and director Frank Darabont has earned himself a seat at the big show March '00.
And Tom Hanks is the Michael Jordan of the big screen. His performance is so powerful that he makes all around him play to a higher level. The entire cast turned in splendid performances. Perhaps five characters in this movie could receive my vote for best supporting actor which means that none of them might make it. Those worth mentioning are: David Morse ("St. Elsewhere"), Michael Clarke Duncan, James Cromwell, Sam Rockwell, Graham Greene, Doug Hutchison, Bonnie Hunt, Patricia Clarkson, Harry Dean Stanton, and Gary "Lt. Dan" Sinise.
1935 Louisiana death row. Prison guards wear full uniforms and ties and carry pistols and black jacks and they are not timid about using them. Paul Edgecomb (Hanks) is the head guard at Cold Mountain Prison E Block. This death row has lime colored tile, hence "The Green Mile." The small area where Edgecomb and the other guards must maintain order and the spirits of the condemned is the primary stage for the story. The character development is massive and effective. This is a time of the Great Depression and the electric chair ("Old Sparky') is still the top choice for execution. And the audience is not spared any details of death by electrocution which is administered by our five prison guards.
Those waiting for their turn in the chair are: Billy the Kid - a psychopath, Del - the Frenchman that befriends a mouse, and Paul Coffey - a giant of a man with mythical powers. Much love, death, forgiveness, revenge, redemption, violence, more death, hatred, gentleness, healing, blood, life, and atonement occur, but "...what happens on 'the mile' stays on the mile."
Hanks has done it again. Does he choose great scripts or make them great? Frank Darabont also directed "The Shawshank Redemption" which makes him the King of Prison Movies of the 90's. This movie will gross $20+ million during its opening weekend. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 95. Larry H.
I sat on the top row in theatre #15 at Loew's in order to regain my equilibrium.
Johnny Depp is Ichabod Crane. This Washington Irving character has one of the most memorable literary names of all time. So what's in a name? The female lead character is named Katrina Van Tassel. And the Headless Horseman who cuts off folk's heads is a pretty cool name itself. Speaking of cool, David Letterman said that Johnny Depp is the "...coolest guy that ever appeared..." on his late night show. However, the color of Johnny's skin has not changed since "Edward Scissorhand."
Sleepy Hollow is a small town in 18th Century New York and they were plagued by a Headless Horseman that is decapitating some of the locals. Constable Crane is sent to the sleepy town that is perpetually eerie and devoid of sunlight to solve the mystery. I didn't care if Mr. Horseman cut off all their heads. I was glad that I was sitting on the top row because there was a lot of blood splatter.
There was enough symbolism is the story to confound a high school English teacher. Oh boy. For example, Ichabod bravely fought the Headless Horseman then routinely fainted from pure fright. My kinda guy. The God Bomb Theory almost kicked in, but I decided that I did not want God to blow them up rather to let them each receive the sword under the chin. Bring on the Christmas-time movie releases so we can get on with the major competition for Academy Awards. You have not seen the 1999 Best Picture yet so don't give up hope. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 75. Larry H.
Arnold vs. The Devil
And the winner is...? Arnold Schwarzenegger (Jericho Cane) is an ex-cop with suicidal tendencies, a side-kick in Kevin Pollack, a perpetual three-day growth and hangover, and a Glock 9 millimeter. Arnold has lots of cool guns and gives new meaning to "backup" gun(s). One must be fully armed if one fights the Devil (Gabriel Byrne).
The devil has plans to take over the body of a human at the end of the millennium and "mate" with The Chosen One (Robin Tunney) at 11:00 pm on December 31, 1999, thus bearing him a devil son and ending existence as we know it. Seems simple enough. The Pope and other Catholics get wind of this plan and attempt to "protect" the twenty year old Chosen One, but they have no guns and do not know her name or whereabouts. But Arnold has both, and he is willing to kick some devil butt if necessary.
The action is nonstop and predictable. Plenty of blood and violence and some repulsive stuff. That devil gave me the creeps. The whole movie caused me to feel a bit uneasy and the blood sucking baby scene affected my early popcorn intake. Special effects are good just like all movies these days. Lots of fire. Go figure - a devil movie with fire - what will they come up with next?
I am glad that Arnold is Back and that his ticker is all better. We need Arnold to make these action movies. Rock 'n Roll
Grade 85. Larry H.
Its Saturday and the show starts at 4:00 pm so I had to leave the competitive pistol match shortly after I shot my last stage. A man's got to have his priorities straight. I swung by the house to pick up the boy (Eric H.) because he was pretty amped up to see TS2 as well as his old man. I intentionally arrived at AMC five minutes early so we would get a good seat. NOT. The crowd was awesome. We tried sitting in the upper section where the normal folks sit rather than the lower section which is for losers. Tough cookies. We could not find a seat so Eric H. suggested that we sit down front. And he meant front, as in front row. Being the adventurous sort and wanting to please the little tike, I said "sure! as a matter of fact let's just sit smack dab in the middle of the front row... that'll show 'em that they can't push us around.?" I literally sat in the absolute middle of the front row. Man, those screens are big. And wide. And loud. My whiplash is worse!
Disney and Pixar ( Apple's Steve Job) have got this animation thing figured out. Its a great show with wonderful voices from Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, George Constanza's mother, and Cheers' Cliff. Music is splendid punctuated by Robert Goulet's "You've Got a Friend in Me." Buz and the other toys must save Woody the Cowboy who is stolen by a character that looks and acts like Newman from "Seinfeld" which is no coincident since Wayne Knight is the villainous voice.
I do not recommend sitting in the front row unless one is very limber and tolerant. I am neither. Therefore, unfortunately, my movie experience was tainted and a meaningful grade can not be rendered. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade NR. Larry H.
A good Bond flick. The opening scene (15 minutes) showcases bombs, babes, bullets, boats, and bridges. And the rest of the story centers on bombs and babes... and oil and plutonium. And bullets...really fine pistols and machine guns. The stage is Europe and Asia Pierce Brosnan has become the modern standard bearer for James Bond and I am ok with that. I am not going to say we look alike, but we do have similar sunglasses.
The other bond characters are: Elecktra King (fox/villian), Christmas Jones (fox/tight sports bra/short shorts/nuclear scientist), Renard (terrorist), "M" female head of MI6 (British Secret Intelligence). Need I say more?
Renard has a bullet in his brain that the Brits deposited there during a previous misunderstanding and as a result of this mishap he can not feel any pain, "...but he will get stronger each day until he dies." This movie is part of the British Full Employment Act beginning with the obligatory role by Judi Dench as "M" and the Monty Brothers - Robert Carlyle and John Cleese from The Full Monty and Monty Python.
This Bond will shoot you with multiple rounds and kill you even if you are beautiful and at point blank range. A spy's gotta do what a spy's gotta do. And Brosnan does it well. The projector malfunctioned and the house lights went up with less than ten minutes remaining, but I do not think it was a conspiracy. Each of us got a free pass that read "We are reel sorry." This Friday-10:40 am crowd did not get unruly during the outage. One must tread lightly with a bunch of folks that are in a movie theatre mid-morning. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 88. Larry H.
If you like medieval (1420-1431) epic (141 min.) movies about a conquering peasant woman who knows the business end of a sword, then this movie is for you. England is having its way with France and young Joan (model Milla Jovovich) hears voices and sees visions that she interprets to mean that God wants her to lead the French armies against its enemies, but only after she has taken time out to find a catholic priest so she can have confession before battle. At first, the French soldiers are not too keen on following the lead of a "girl" but she inspires a few battle victories and the war rages on. She does not condone cursing during battle, however. Gotta have some discipline. "No cussing" is difficult for a brown, snaggled toothed soldier who is accustomed to hand to hand combat.
Joan deeply believes in her calling by God to be a "Messenger" and shares her revelations with the king to be John Malkovich, the Dauphin. As royalty goes, the Dauphin and then as King Charles, is foppish and ultimately unsupportive of Joan's ongoing mission to liberate France. It does not help Joan's cause that the King's mother in law is the very mouthy and influential Faye Dunaway who rises to an oscar caliber performance. Malkovich is skilled as always as the king, even though he is still "Being John Malkovich." Dustin Hoffman has a small part as The Conscience of Joan and his booming voice is unmistakable. Hoffman is Hoffman.
The battle scenes are spectacular. And heads will roll - literally. And arms and feet, too. Director Luc Besson does not spare the faint of heart. Blood rules. This is a pretty movie. Cinematography is outstanding. Music is foreboding and fun when needed. Costumes are a sure bet for nomination consideration.
Joan has many hair changes, but its the heresy charges that finally catch up to this gallant gal of God. Her final stake is fiery. Forgive me. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 90. Larry H.
Nap time. I got so sleepy during the first segment of this 168 minute film, that I knew it was time to leave when the "Insider" was losing his house and his wife was crying because the mean 'ole tobacco company was doing him wrong and all I could think about was "can I make it a little longer?" without snoring. I felt I could not so I did the honorable thing and left with about two hours to go. Yikes. I left the theatre to go shopping at Oshman's for some socks with the intention of returning to Loew's to catch a substitute flick, but I was so groggy from my experience that I could not shake it so I had to come back to the office. As I prepare this "review" the movie is still going. Please note that I got eight hours sleep last night. A bad movie just knocks me out!
The stars in this movie are Al Pacino as a CBS producer, Russell Crowe as the insider of a big tobacco company that wants to tell his story but is afraid, and Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace of CBS. And the story is about...I do not give a rat's foot. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 65 SW. Larry H.
Please see http://www.larryharrison.com for SW rating
Here's the short version of my Sunday. I went to Bailey's Gun Range this morning with my newly discovered video camera because my pistol is getting a tune-up so I was in a hurry to get to the 12:30 pm show time at River Oaks Plaza, which is the only place to see this movie and its inside the loop and a long way from Sugar Land so I might have been driving a tad fast and unfocused when a caution light unexpectedly turned red and shortly thereafter a HPD patrol car was behind me at the next light with only a blue light blinking instead of the traditional red/blue/white alternating etc., when it dawned on me that maybe I ought to pull over and see what's up. Well, I quickly got out of my car and walked back to the HPD officer's car who by the way did not exit his vehicle during the entire incident and he appeared to be a bit peeved. I squat down with hands on knees and license in hand and semi-boldly say "hello, Officer" which I thought was a good opening line. He was not smiling. He explained that he was going somewhere when I entered his intersection. We had some serious small talk and he told me to be careful. I said "Yes, sir, Officer" which I thought was a good closing line. Whew! During the conversation I quietly, yet firmly, explained to the Officer that his emergency lights were flashing blue only in the front and red and blue in the back. He was not interested. I'm glad he had somewhere important to go.
"Being John Malkovich" is a unique screenplay. That means there has never been one like it. The simple aspect of the plot is that for a fee of $200 a person can enter a secret portal which allows that person to spend 15 minutes in the brain (you can also see out) of an unsuspecting John Malkovich the actor. At the end of the 15 minutes experience, the person is ejected from Malkovich's brain/being and deposited rather crudely in a ditch on the New Jersey Turnpike. This trip is experienced by many. However, the complicated aspect of this movie involves yet another level of "forbidden love" that takes sexuality, passion, and commitment to a new realm. The "lovers" are Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) his wife Lottie (Cameron Diaz) Maxine the coworker (Catherine Keener) my personal favorite, and John Malkovich himself.
The acting is superb and the writing is clever and funny. In a R+ kinda way. Writer Charlie Kaufman and Director Spike Jonze clearly had a hazy existence in the 70's and are just now getting around to putting their thoughts on paper and the big screen. Craig and Maxine work on the 7 1/2 floor of a building which means the ceilings of the entire office complex are only five feet high. Therefore, everyone walks around stooped over. I expected Leslie Nielsen to pop out any minute. The only way to get off at the 7 1/2 floor is to stop the elevator suddenly after the 7th floor then use a crowbar to pry the door open. I'm laughing just thinking about it. This story moves freely between black humor, slapstick, and serious relationship confrontation. Its a must see for movie freaks and video only when the kids are sleep for most. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 89. Larry H.
Katy Mills Mall. Heard it was the biggest mall in the world. Just opened October 28th so I figured I better go check it out. Thirty minute trip. As I first entered the outside door of the Bass Pro Store, I looked up and it read: "Welcome to Fishermen, Hunters, and other Liars." Gotta love a place with that attitude. The 20 AMC theatre are in "Neighborhood Number 1" which is in the rear of the mall. There are seven "neighborhoods." Its big and nice. The AMC theatres are attached to the mall so there is ample room to eat and roam around in and near the theatre. The mega theatres recently constructed seem to be across the parking lot a ways from the main mall. I like this setup. Update: ate popcorn with butter, hot dog, and medium drink without incident; thanks for the hints from last week!
Denzel Washington plays a NYPD cop/forensic expert named Lincoln Rhyme who is paralyzed because of an on-the-job injury. He has written twelve books on forensics and is such a guru on the subject that when a brutal, flesh-cutting serial killer strikes, the department seeks Rhyme's help and sets up shop in his home so it will be easy for him to bark orders and stay in the center of the action even though he can only work his giant computer screen by moving the joy stick with his mouth. He chooses young Officer Amelia Donaghy (Angelina Jolie) to be his eyes on the scene and she reluctantly accepts the task even though she admires his work. She is a cop fox. In the movie, sometimes she points her gun with her left hand and sometimes with her right hand. What's up with that?
This movie is suspenseful and well acted in the spirit of "Silence of the Lambs," "Seven," and "Copy Cat." All have savage serial killers and two of them, and now three, have the mystical hero handicapped: prison/armor/straight jacket, phobia, and quadriplegic. The killer leaves taunting clues and we and the hero must solve the case. The cop fox represents us in this movie. The sounds and camera angles are notable. Queen Latifah as Rhyme's full time nurse and Married With Children's Ed O'Neill as a good cop added credibility to the story. If you did not see any of the other three movies mentioned because you thought they might be too gory or scary, skip this one. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 87. Larry H.
I will get to the review in a minute, but I have developed a problem on my Friday afternoon movie going and I am not sure what to do about. My favorite snack for a movie if I've had lunch and/or a big breakfast is medium drink, small popcorn (not medium for only 25 cents more) with lots of butter and salt. The popcorn is messy. Recently, I have been eating the popcorn with my right hand (non dominant) and then realizing that my right is not as adroit as my left, and switching to my left for a better flow. Now both hands have butter on them! Not pretty. I need to make a commitment and stick with it. Always keep napkins handy no matter the choice. Will keep you informed on this interesting subject.
Meryl Streep as Roberta Guaspari is the star in this based-on-truth story about a white violin teacher in East Harlem who resorts to teaching because she is desperate for a job since hubby ran off with another woman and left her with two young boys. Much of the feel and emotion of the movie is about family and divorce and heart ache. The other theme is the dedication of a teacher and the difference she can make in young lives in spite of some bad odds.
This is not just another teacher-makes-good movie because Meryl the Great is in it. She is a Hall of Famer. She's Da Man. When you see this movie, and you will, note Ms. Streep's many hair styles and color and her breathing. What you talkin' bout "breathing," Larry H? Gotta see it to understand. But she takes deep breaths and sighs with style. When she looks down rather than in the eye of the other character, her sneaky vulnerability is overpowering. Her smile and nervous giggles are legendary.
Great cast: Angela Bassett as the school principal, Cloris Leachman as Streep's mom, and Aidan Quinn as the boyfriend. The myriad of kids in the movie are well cast and directed by Wes Craven with soulful dialogue provided by Pamela Gray.
By the numbers:
95 - percent chance that Streep will get a nomination
40 - percent chance that she will win the big enchilada
30 - folks in the noon showing with a wide cross section
2 - buttery hands
This a feel-good movie that tugs on your ....well ... the "Music of the Heart" and does not have any violence, blood, guns, cussing, or nudity. Skit scat how 'bout that? Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 92. Larry H.