Larry H's Movie Reviews for 2000 (51)
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This movie is about the Marquis de Sade. He was doing his thing late 1700's early 1800's. He wrote with a "quill" pen. The only place it's showing currently is River Oaks which is a long way from Sugar Land. I tried to talk myself into seeing "What Women Want" starring Mel Gibson, but I was worried that there might be syrup flowing out of the theatre and I might step in it and soil my Hi-Techs. Then, I pondered the even harder question: do I go see "Dude, Where's My Car?" While I can certainly relate to the loss of one's car, I feared that "Quills" would turn out to be a big winner of awards and I would hate myself if I, Larry H., did not see it before you people.
Inner city theatres are a step back in time, and this one is classic. There are two theatres at this establishment located in the River Oaks Shopping Center (Center, not Mall) and I guess that it was built shortly after W.W.II and there are a few famous people and politicians that sat in those non rocking no-coke-holder chairs such as Lyndon, George H., George W. and yes Larry H. has been there before. I had great difficulty finding a parking spot. Had to park behind a building down the road and way over there. Obviously, these people do not know who I am; no reserved parking for Larry H.! On the way back to my car, I stopped to speak to a man on the street corner and said "Dude, where's my car?"
I'm was looking forward to traveling to the city and seeing how those heathens act when one attends a movie about one of the original Kings of Sex. The ticket clerk and concession lady both wore funky hats. Must be a requirement. When I walked in the theatre, the crowd of about fifty was talking loudly among themselves as though they had just come from the garden party. I could hear some juicy gossip. The movie was suppose to start at 1:30 PM, but by 1:50 PM the movie had not started and the voices and gossip was getting louder. It was still very dark in the house. An elderly woman ( had to be 80 if she was a nickel) was walking down the aisle carrying a cup in each hand and her "boyfriend" was following her and she walked up to me in my aisle seat and got about 12 inches from my nose and hollered out in a pretty healthy stage whisper "...is that a human in that seat?... I don't want to sit on a human...." Being the quick study that I am, I blurted out "hello" just in time to stop a human dog pile.
Now we are 25 minutes into the wait for the movie to start and the lady with the hat that had been the concessionaire walked down about two thirds of the way toward the front and turned to the crowd and explained that there had been some problems, but she had the help of a "strong man" and the movie should start soon. Three of the locals replied with a genuine "thank you" and the gossip was turned up a notch since it was clear we had a little time on our hands. I was loving the whole experience and figured the movie could not be any better than what was already going on, but I was worried that I was a long way from home and it was Friday afternoon during the Christmas season. I've got to write my review in a timely manner....
The movie is set in Paris and the Marquis (Geoffrey Rush) is in an asylum/prison because his writings have upset the local establishment. Napoleon is the head honcho and he must decide to "kill or train" the Marquis to act right. The French people love the Marquis' sexual writings and can not get enough of his very graphic depiction of sexual fantasies. Not to worry, the chambermaid (Kate Winslet) smuggles his writings to the outside world and the mystique continues. Napoleon decides that "training" is an option, so he sends a sadistic medical doctor (Michael Caine) that enjoys torture, if it's necessary, to assist in the training. The asylum is run by a young priest/abbe named Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix). The Abbe has his hands full - what with dealing with Mr. de Sade, a twisted doctor, and a chambermaid that runs around the place with herself pooching out the top of her tight-fitting dress the way only a ....chambermaid can.
Geoffrey Rush turns in a nomination quality performance. He exhibited the genius of Truman Capote, the rebellion of James Dean, the hardheadedness of Paul Newman, and the morals of Larry Flint. That's the good news; the bad news is that I did not like any of the characters and the story was slow and predictable. If you are a teenager or taking viagra, you should not see this movie. I am a semi-trained moviegoer and I am suppose to see this kind of stuff and report it to you; it's what I do. But some of you people need to stay home. There is frontal nudity, as well as backal and breastal. Be warned. Rock 'n roll.
Grade 81. Larry H.
I'm back Jack! I have not been to a movie or the pistol range in weeks and I was suffering from the DT's. But I was not going to let anything (except a large pile of money) get in my way of the 12:15 pm showing of the new movie out today starring Russell "Gladiator" Crowe and Meg Ryan. I got my assigned parking spot at Loew's at the Fountains and one of the workers even held the door open for me as I entered because they were power washing the back porch of the theatre. I like a theatre with clean concrete.
This flick is decidedly mediocre. David "St. Elsewhere" Morse plays the husband of Alice (Ryan) and he gets kidnapped in South America. He works for a mean 'ole pipeline company headquatered in Houston. His employment does not bode well for his plight. Morse plays a good second banana and a victim. He's not handsome enough for Meg, so you know there's got to be some duplicitous stuff going on when K & R expert Russell Crowe comes on the scene to negotiate for the return of the husband. You know what K & R means: kidnap and ransom. Seems these guerillas that pulled off the kidnap actually do it for the money rather than a political statement.
There are some really nice guns in this movie. There's a plus. One scene alone had close-ups of a S&W .357, Beretta 92 FS, and a Glock 17. And the AK 47's, M-16's and shotguns were so cool that they looked like maybe they had been tricked out by my gunsmith Vanden Berg Custom.
Meg is too skinny. She's been working out too much. I could see the muscles and veins. She needs more meat on her bones. The hair is the same, but that body needs an overhaul in the opposite direction.
The story is slow. About one out of five scenes was significant and stirred interest. That's a pretty poor average. There was enough gun battles and bombs to keep me hanging in there, but at times my attendance was a close call. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 79. Larry H.
The acting is fantastic, the story is simple, and the emotions are high. Bobby De Niro is such a great actor that I think he should win an Academy Award almost every time he's on the big screen. Not counting "Meet the Parents" of course.
The movie is based on the life of Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who is willing to do just about anything to become a U.S. Navy diver in spite of intense racial bigotry in the military in the late '40's and '50's. Brashear's diving instructor is Navy master diver Billy Sunday (De Niro) who is a cross between De Niro's character in "Cape Fear" and Paul Newman's Cool Hand Luke. Crusty, scary, and zero tolerance for authority. Master Chief Sunday explains to his new diving students that there is also a famous preacher by the same name, but the difference is "...he works for God and I am God."
Gooding is solid as the tenacious diver, but his character explodes when interacting with De Niro. The story covers Brashear's life as a youngster in 1943 through the 60's and Gooding handles the changes with skill. De Niro appears to be making about two movies a year which is lucky for us, but Ms. Charlize "Bagger Vance Fox" Theron gets around, too. She plays De Niro's lushy wife and is wonderful without showing any skin. Please pay special attention when Theron and De Niro appear at a formal party as a semi drunk couple. They may be an odd match, but that screen appearance standing together immediately before De Niro gets into yet another fight with an officer is classic.. I want a poster of them together in that scene.
I got teary eyed in the beginning and the end of the movie, but the real story is De Niro, Gooding, Theron, and the rest of the cast. Not a great movie, but has great moments. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 89. Larry H.
November 3, 2000. I could talk about some of my pre-movie drivel about trying to eat popcorn (buttered) using a new method (eating directly from the sack by holding the bag at a 45 degree angle and shaking) in an attempt not to get butter all over my hands, but alas the butter became smeared onto my glasses and approximately a handful fell onto my shirt...but I won't. This is an important movie. Why?
It's a fantastic flick because Robert "Hair" Redford has directed a near perfect movie about over- coming fears and other piles of life's baggage when blessed with a guardian angel. Remember that the movie is called a "Legend" for good reason. It's based on the novel by Steven Pressfield. Some would have you believe that it's just a metaphor about life and golf is merely a backdrop and it could have been about any sport. Wrong screenplay breath! This story could have been about any sport about as much as "Rocky" need not involve boxing or "Titanic" could do without a sinking ship. All movies are about life; this one is about a golfer and golfing. "I've lost my swing," explains Rannulph Junah (Matt Damon). And Bagger Vance helps him get his "authentic swing." Not his authentic bat or ball...his swing! Of course, the script is peppered with life's lessons such as "a game that can't be won only played," but this story about life needs to be a sport/game that involves "just you and the ball." And that's golf, sports fans. You golf ho's need to drop what you're doing and see this.
The setting is Savannah, GA, during the beginning of the Great Depression. Captain Junah has been back from the war to end all wars for over ten years and has not snapped out of his post-war funk and pretty much drinks whiskey and plays poker in spite of his previous bright golf career. He was one of the best golfers in the South. The local beautiful southern belle Adele (Charlize Theron) who is strapped for cash convinces Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones, who are real-life legendary golfers, to come to Savannah to play an exhibition match for $10,000 for the winner. Then the locals, always mindful of the need for a hometown angle, convince their home grown golf hero, Junah, to be the third in this unprecedented golf tournament of 72 holes on a Saturday and Sunday.
But Junah initially refuses to participate because he rarely sucks a sober breath and he has lost his swing. He wants "to forget and be forgotten." You know the metaphor: he lost his mojo. Enter Will Smith as Bagger Vance. We don't know anything about Bagger except he knows things before they happen and has the insight of God. Hmmm? When watching this movie, do not discount the significance of the character (Hardy Greaves) played by young L. Michael Moncrief as a wise little boy that has a special relationship with Captain Junah and Bagger. The three of them form the ideal vehicle for Redford to communicate the story and pull at our heart while never sacrificing entertainment. Ms. Theron is a fox and brings passion, power and sensuality to the mix. Her wardrobe alone is worthy of a nomination for Best Costume.
The movie's opening scene depicts an old Hardy Greaves (the little boy) played by Jack Lemmon who is struck with his fifth heart attack while on the golf course. Old Hardy wonders "...why do I play a game that's destine to kill me?" Old Hardy/Lemmon then becomes our narrator with flashbacks within a flashback. Watch closely for the name on Hardy's club head. The noontime crowd of 90-100 laughed and gasped in all the right places. This will be a mega hit and has Best Picture potential. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 95. Larry H.
"The Yards" are the subway yards of New York. And there is corruption, bribery, and payoffs among city officials and contractors who want to do business with the city. Man, who would've thunk that? 60 Minutes should do an expose. This movie is not about the Mafia and even your average run of the mill Gangsters. It's about some business guys that make payoffs to get contracts and sometimes cross the line and somebody gets killed and all involved say, "....oooooooh, now whatta we gonna do now..." I say, " why don't you go down to the yards and jump in front of a subway train and lets end it right now."
Part of the problem with the plot is that about 45 minutes into this thing I realized that I did not really know or care what was going on. That 10-15 minute nap I took might have had something to do with my comprehension level. I am not sure. I recovered and concluded that "I must get outta here before I become sick from boredom." Since this movie is set in New York and the Yankees just won the World Series and Bobby De Niro and I are close, I would like to give some sage advice: Forget about it! Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 69 SW Larry H.
As I walked out of "The Yards" I realized it was only 1:30 pm. I was feeling a little blue, but then I got my second wind to see a second movie. I was at Tinseltown and that was good for my team because outside the entrance and at the end of each hallway starting times for movies are listed. I quickly checked the times and "bingo" there's one starting at 1:35...lets see...what is it? It's "Ladies Man." And I'm thinking, "Lord, please don't make me see Ladies Man." So I walked all the way across the big entryway and continued the search for a replacement movie and "bam" (good sound effects, huh) Blair Witch Whatever is just about to start.
I loved the original Blair Witch. This story opens with interviews (tongue in cheek) of some of the locals of Burkittsville, Maryland, as they mock the tourist and myths of the Blair Witch phenomenon. One enterprising lad has put together a tour of the woods via his mini van, camping equipment etc. The customers (5) for this inaugural tour are basically a bunch of loser Satan wannabes that have nothing better to do than buy in on this really stupid premise. Ten minutes into the film, we see flashes of dead people (unidentified or explained) with bloody heads and other gruesome acts and a close up of a large knife shoved into some unknown person's guts and then mass quantities of blood start gushing and a hand slowly turns the knife. Ex-squeeze me? O for 2. Rock 'n Roll
Grade 65W. Larry H.
I was on my way to my gunsmith's and I stopped off at Tinseltown on the Tollway to see "Pay It Forward." I was very suspect of this movie because any director can take three first round draft choices like Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment and make a movie. But will it be any good and is the screen big enough for all that star/Oscar power. Yes and yes. Director Mimi Leder and screenwriter Leslie Dixon pulled it off.
Random acts of kindness for three other people and helping them in a "big way" is the basic concept of "paying it forward." Then those three people will in turn help three other people and so on and so on. Spacey plays Eugene Simonet, a seventh grade social studies teacher in a Las Vegas public school that has metal detectors. Mr. Simonet's face and neck are severely scarred and he tries to lead a quiet, protected life. But he willing challenges his students to be bold by doing something to "..make a change in the world..." These eleven year olds are given all year to accomplish this school project if it takes that long. Mr. Simonet assigns this task annually with little or no outstanding accomplishments. Until Trevor (Osment) takes the idea very seriously and attempts to change his world by helping three people in a really big, bold manner.
Trevor's mother (Helen Hunt) is an bottle-hiding alcoholic who works as a waitress and topless dancer. She has the body to do it and will "take off my shirt ...when I get 5 beers in me." Do Hunt and Spacey get together? Does Trevor accomplish all of his goals in his plan to pay it forward? Did I cry twice and have goose bumps throughout the movie?
The acting by these three is superb. I admitted my skepticism, but all three of these "Oscar wannabes because I have a good rep and a darn good chance at the Big O every time I go out there" actually turned in individually stunning performances. Great actors drag each other along. Ask Helen about Jack. Fear, sadness, joy, love, hate, bitterness, and passion. The story never stops beginning.
Mr. Simonet explains to Trevor's mom that he can't ... because his life is "...familiar and manageable." And the mom's life is a classic example of Step 1 unmanageability. We don't like to change our lives if it's tragic or triumphant. Unless someone changes our world?
This film has the best chance yet at multiple nominations of any movie of the year. Best Actors (3), Screenplay/adapted, director, and picture. It will be mega hit. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 94. Larry H.
When one's dog wins the overall championship at the 125th Annual Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show, it is referred to as "Best In Show." This show is about the competitors as they pack their bags and groom their dogs and head off from all over the country to Philadelphia, PA, for the 125th Annual extravaganza. Satire and spoof. And funny! Very funny.
A couple of friends had highly recommended this movie or I would not have seen it. I took a leap of faith. When the movie started, I thought, "oh, no, this really is a movie about a dog show in a documentary style with one shaky camera" and then quickly Eugene Levy's character with fake front teeth and his wife Catherine O"hara with a low cut blouse hit the screen and I knew we had hope for laughter. Levy was the supreme nerd married to the perfect ex-fluzzy who has had "hundreds of boyfriends" who pop up throughout the movie. O'hara explains that when she met her husband he refused to dance because he had "two left feet." Then, the camera pans down and sure enough he has two left feet. I can deal with a plot that is that goofy.
The competitors that we followed were: two gay men, two lesbians, a good 'ole Southern boy Christopher Guest (director and co-writer with Levy), a yuppie couple with braces who have sex in front of their dog and all three of them have to seek counseling (the couple and the dog) and Levy and O'hara. Nothing is sacred or off limits. The humor crescendos. By the end of the movie, I had tears in my eyes from laughter.
Fred Willard is the color commentator at the big show. You know the show - it's the one where the "trainers/owners" hold the dog's leash about chest high and then run like a gleek alongside the dog as the judge looks on. These people are big funny. They even run funny. Willard is a scream as the commentator because he does not know jack about the dog show business, so he just says whatever comes into his mind and he makes a lot of baseball metaphors. When the movie was over, rather abruptly, the audience of about 15 refused to get up because they wanted more. No higher compliment. This low budget movie that is showing in very few theatres has an outside shot at Best Original Screenplay. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 91. Larry H.
I wanted a hot dog so bad I could taste it. Haven't you ever just sat at your desk and counted off the minutes till you could leave (early) on a Friday afternoon and sink your teeth in a big juicy semi-warm hot dog with mustard, ketchup, and relish scooped out of a half empty dish of public condiments? Well, I know exactly how you feel. Throw in some buttered popcorn and a medium DP and life don't get no better than that. I got my parking spot, too. I'm not superstitious, but when things just happen to fall into place I always believe that the movie will be appropriately entertaining. When I leave my parking spot at Loew's, I take the exact same route in the left rear door, swing to right and ease past the video games, past the concession stand briskly and approach the ticket counter as though I (and my staff) have arrived and the fun may begin! I'm a blessed man.
"The Contender" is Joan Allen as Senator Laine Hanson who has been nominated as Vice President by President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges) to replace the Veep who recently died. The movie is about the process the first woman nominee for a national office must endure in order to get confirmed. And the politics of meanness kicks in early and often. Seems that Sen. Hanson had some sexual "deviant" acts in her past. You get to decide how deviant etc. But House Judiciary Chairman Sheldon Runyon played by Gary Oldham with a really bad hairdo tries to undermine her at every turn and doesn't mind ripping her guts out on national TV so long as the President withdraws her name and nominates Runyon's boy. We as veterans of the Clarence Thomas hearings and Clinton's impeachment trial already have an inkling of such goings-on. This is Hollywood's version of the political process, so don't get your panties in a wad if certain normal political traditions are not followed. It's a movie.
The cast is wonderful and large. Director and writer Rod Lurie (a former film critic...hmmm?) jumps from scene to close up to dialogue of the next scene with quickness. He's got to move fast so we don't get too bored with the complicated story and many characters. Sam Elliott plays the President's Chief of Staff. I've always like Elliott. It's the voice and hair and he use to mess around with Kathryn Ross. I digress. Christian Slater is able as the seemingly awe struck twenty eight year old Congressman that slithers from snake to saint. Gary, Jeff and Joan are the central characters and carry the show adequately with moments of brilliance.
The plot is simple and sappy at times and diminishes an otherwise high grade. This movie is a chick flick, but not in the usual way. A central theme is the "first" woman for national office and how she is treated differently on issues of sex. But can she shed a tear and also be strong and principled? One mark of a good acting job by Joan Allen is that I liked her character ok in spite of her admission that she was an atheist who worships at the "Chapel of Democracy" and ....wants to get guns out of every household in America. Excuse me, did she just blaspheme the 2nd Amendment or what? This is sure enough a "R" movie for sex and cussin'. Rock 'n roll.
Grade 88. Larry H.
I was feeling kinda blue and even admitted it to Monique H. on the phone on the way to the flicks. I told the lovely wife that I was about to snap out of my funk because I was on the way to see the new comedy starring Bobby De Niro. Only his close friends call him Bobby. We been buds a long time. Well, sorta. Anyway, I go to the movies for a lot of reasons, but I believe "pulling one's self out of a blue funk" is certainly worthy of a trip to the movies. Can't miss with Bobby and Ben Stiller.
Wrong, Academy Award breath! This movie is the pits. Misses on all cylinders. It was slow, stupid, shallow, simple, and oh yeah, it sucked! A Randy Newman song "A Fool in Love" is in the background as the opening scenes and credits begin. Nice beginning. Down hill from there. The only fool is the one that sees "Meet the Parents."
Story line: Jewish male nurse (Stiller) goes to his girlfriend's home to meet the fam and things go poorly. Bobby is the girl's mysterious father. The young man's last name is Focker. And there are about 30 jokes about that; 25 jokes about male nurses. Some good jokes; some stinkers. I did not like any of the characters and the God Bomb Theory kicked in very early. I would have walked, but De Niro kept me hanging in there. I just couldn't walk out on my ole bud Bobby. But I wanted all the characters to die - soon. Unfortunately, none of them die. Oops, I didn't mean to let the cat out of the bag. Speaking of cats. Ah, forget it. Do you think maybe I'm still in a Blue Funk? Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 74. Larry H.