Larry H's Movie Reviews for 2005 (38)
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I wanted to see "Hotel Rwanda" or Clint's "Million Dollar Baby" but I could not get the time and logistics to work. Monique H. saw Michael Keaton, star of "White Noise," interviewed on the "Today Show" and she was all amped up to see it, but she copped out at the last minute, so I was headed to another (better) movie. But noooooooooo, I just couldn't make it work so I ended up at theatre 18 at Loew's for the noon showing of "White Noise."
This movie is about EVP's. That stands for Electronic Voice Phenomenon's, I think. Keaton plays Jonathan Rivers the architect married to a young hottie who dies mysteriously and then starts sending back some EVP's via TV's and radios to another guy who teaches Keaton how to do it. And the story gets deeper and more far-fetched as the plot thickens and the warnings from the "other side" start mounting. There are some scary moments created by sound and special effects, but the good news is that the movie is not very long - 97 minutes - and it was warm and dry in the theatre. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 75. Larry H.
I had to travel inside the loop to the Edwards Grand Palace 24 near the new Lakewood Church formerly known as Compac Center. I don't like leaving the 'burbs to see my movies, but this Clint Eastwood movie is only playing in two theatres in all of Houston. What's up with that?
I even considered seeing "In Good Company" or "Coach Carter" but I followed my bud Wes F.'s advice to see the new Eastwood directed movie. Wes does not give me the nod that "...you must see this movie" very often so I made the trek to the inner city.
Clint Eastwood plays Frankie Dunn, an old has-been boxing trainer, who has had some success, but has never made it to a championship fight. Morgan Freeman is once again his sidekick and partner as Scrap-Iron who lives in the boxing gym own by Dunn. Scrap-Iron cleans and maintains the gym but does not back down from the curmudgeon owner. Dunn loses his main fighter to a more progressive manager and then a "girl" named Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) shows up in the gym. Maggie is from southwest Missouri from a town "...between nowhere and goodbye" as explained in an ongoing voiceover narration by the Scrap-Iron character.
Against his instincts, Dunn agrees to train Maggie if she does everything he tells her to do and does not ask any questions. He further explains to her that she is too old at 31 and that she is not very good. The movie then takes off at a fast pace with Maggie making much progress in the ring. Swank's body is certainly believable as a well toned muscular fighter.
But this movie is all about the relationships between these three wonderful characters. Each has a distinct connection with the other two. The character development in this movie is phenomenal. All three are complicated, tragic, and powerful yet full of deep love without being able to express it. The audience was mesmerized. I was gasping for air to calm down and my stomach was gurgling and I don't think it was from bad popcorn.
If you have any decency about you at all, (and you are a movie freak) you will stop what you are doing and go see this outstanding movie. Eastwood has become an undisputed Hall of Fame director. And the acting by these three is off the charts; glorious, spectacular...and Oscar worthy. Swank is my new frontrunner for her second Best Actress award. The screenplay by Paul Haggis, adapted from the short stories called "Rope Burn" by F.X. Toole, should be nominated. I have much more to say about this masterpiece but I will end with "Thank you, Wes." Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 95. Larry H.
I know I'm a week late in seeing this movie, but I've been busy. Supposedly this flick sold 45 million dollars worth of tickets in the first three days. I was shocked when I read that in the paper. Now I know why.
There were about 20 people in the noon audience today which is a lot for a second Friday. Will Smith stars as the Manhattan Date Doctor that helps men get dates and treat women the way they want to be treated and he also is one of the Executive Producers so he is raking it in on this one. And it will continue to be a box office hit all the way through the DVD stage. The script is clever and it has a feel of charm throughout. If you want to see a modern-day romance, then this is the movie for you. And it's funny. I laughed a lot; some might call it a guffaw.
After the first few scenes, I thought I was going to be bored and might have to leave early, but then Smith's "Hitch" started doing his thing and the story was interesting and even hilarious when Kevin "King of Queens" James arrived on the screen as the hapless accountant who wanted Hitch's help to land a date with a rich celebrity (Amber Valleta). Meanwhile, another plot thickens with Hitch chasing his own love interest (Eva Mendes) who also happens to be a gossip columnist. The two couples weave a web of confusion and contradiction but not to worry too much in this light hearted comedy romance. Only after the movie was over did I notice that the men were buffoonish and the women were rich, powerful, and smarter...but nice in a "There's Something About Mary" kind of way.
Will Smith still sports a chiseled body and big guns which made me wonder if he ever "juiced up" with former Major League Baseball player Jose Conseco. When I was running the streets, the only 'roids we had were Polaroids and that's my story. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 89. Larry H.
John Travolta is laughing all the way to the bank on this one. He once again plays the wiseguy character Chili Palmer. When I grow up, I'm changing my name to "Chili." That's way cool so you better "be cool."
Travolta is the big draw for this movie about the gangsta side of the music business in LA, but it has a killer cast: Harvey Keitel as a second rate thug, The Rock as a gay bodyguard, Cedric the Entertainer as Sin LaSalle, a hip hop mafia type with a bunch of jersey wearing gun totin' posse on steroids, Andre 3000 as "Dabu" who is part of that posse with a hair trigger and no brains, Vince Vaughn as Keitel's partner who dresses like a pimp and talks like he wants to be black with some street cred, Christina Milian who looks good and is the focal point of the music aspect of the "plot", Steven Tyler - enough said, James Woods who is murdered in the opening scene, and throw in James Godolofini and Danny DeVito, and be-still-my-heart Uma Thurman as Edie.
I didn't like any of the characters very much, but most of them made me laugh...occasionally. The story is dumb and disjointed and is completely driven by the numerous over-the-top characters. I started to walk out of this flick and something told me to stay a little longer. And lo and behold, Johnny T. and Uma took to the dance floor and recreated their dancing magic. The camera and lighting concentrated on Uma's dance moves more than Johnny T's which was ok with me.
The big winners in this movie are Vince Vaughn, The Rock, and Andre 3000. This movie also has the best and most close-ups of semi-automatic pistols which is the way it should be. Other than the one whack job on James Woods, these wannabe wiseguys mostly dangle their pistols at each other and threaten to break bad, but nobody's really bad which is good. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 79. Larry H.
PS: I forgot about one Russian that got whacked.
Eric H. told me to see "Robots" today because it was going to win some Academy Awards just like "The Incredibles." I don't doubt that, but I'm lukewarm on animation on a good day. I much prefer a good shoot 'em up.
I got my wish with this latest Bruce Willis plays a cop with a past that must rise to the occasion and save the day movie. "Hostage" is very intense. I watched most of the movie with my hands clasped in my lap and sitting erect in my chair. Hands were slightly sweating and I developed minor pit action about halfway through the movie. I was drained and unsteady in my gait as I exited Loew's Theatre #17. Director Florent Siri keeps the action and suspense popping from scene to scene with enough twists and bad guys that one might profit from a scorecard.
If you can't stand a lot of blood, guts, cruelty, and death, then go see "Robots." Here's the basic plot: three young men looking to steal a Cadillac Escalade from a rich guy with a swanky house in the hills of California; things go awry and before you can say "Fargo" we have a bloody hostage situation with small town Chief Jeff Talley (Willis) trying to negotiate with these knuckleheads to release the family being held hostage. But wait there' more...a lot more. This movie is very well done. Go see it unless you're an animation sissy. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 91. Larry H.
I tried to be strong. There's not much to choose from at the theatres these days. Hollywood ought to throw us a bone for the Easter weekend. But nooooo, they are holding the good stuff for Memorial Day and after. Meanwhile, those of us with a brain and a scintilla of good taste must suffer.
Here's the quick version: this movie sucked and I walked out. Ok, I laugh a little in the beginning and I'm a little sweet on Sandra Bullock; she loves living in Austin and says good things about Texas so I forgive her. But it's time to move on and let this FBI Special Agent Hart thing go.
I'm getting nauseated just thinking about "Miss Congeniality 3." Short plot for MC2: Miss United States while wearing her crown (a friend of Hart's from their former beauty contest days) and William "Capt Kirk" Shatner are kidnapped and Hart ties to save the day. And I liked the kidnappers better than most of the "good" guys. On this Good Friday I know God seriously considered answering my prayer and blowing up the movie screen and thus confirming the God Bomb Theory. (See my web page at larryharrison.com for further explanation.)
When I left Loew's and was walking to my car in my assigned parking spot, I took in a deep breath of fresh air at 75 degrees and knew all was right with the world. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 69 W. Larry H.
It was a close call between "Sahara" and "Fever Pitch". McConaughey v. Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore and the Boston Red Sox. Now don't get me wrong...the Red Sox don't mean diddly to me but they are a Major League Baseball team and Ted Williams did play for them so I opted for baseball and love.
Jimmy (Ben the School Teacher) and Drew (Lindsay the Power Businesswoman) start dating and things are really heating up when Ben admits that he is a "Red Sox Fan." Lindsay can appreciate that a young man might love a sport, but Ben explains that he has not missed a Red Sox home game in 11 years, his apartment is completely decked out in Red Sox memorabilia, and he hangs with other guys that are also Sox freaks...and women in the past have dumped him because of his "addiction" during the spring and summer.
The previous paragraph description of a movie plot sounds lame...and it is. This movie was showing in Theatre #18, one of Loew's big venues; at the beginning of the flick there were a total of three in the audience and only two in the end. And I was one of the two. Some woman walked out and I stayed. What's up with that? The movie was painful and I would have walked out except I'm a romantic sap and small-time baseball freak which kept me mildly interested and occasionally engaged. But I'll never do it again.
This movie should go straight to video. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 74. Larry H.
I seriously considered seeing the two "local" movies about Yao Ming and Enron, but I figured I already knew those stories. This movie directed by Sidney Pollack and starring Sean Penn as a Secret Service agent and Nicole "Too Tall" Kidman as an interpreter who works at the UN building is the first big-time movie of the new season. It is rare for an Oscar-worthy movie to debut in April and that tradition lives.
Kidman's work station is a booth above the UN General Assembly where she interprets for diplomats. She wears cool, little frameless glasses and has her beautiful blond hair cascading down around her shoulders. She looks very sophisticated and hot; just your average UN worker trying to participate in the peace process. Sean Penn also has his usual full head of hair. His hair is second only to Robert Redford. These two actors are in my Hair Hall of Fame.
Ok, so here's the deal: Too Tall Kidman accidentally overhears a plot to kill the President of Matobo, Africa, who will be speaking at the UN in a few days. Lucky for us, Kidman the interpreter has dual citizenship in Matobo and the US because she is one of the few folks that can understand the tribal dialect of the plotting assassins. She tells the authorities about the conversation that she heard, so Agent Sean Penn enters the picture to solve the case and save Kidman.
The storyline is very complicated and convoluted which creates too much of a guessing game and unwarranted gaps. This flick was interesting but not compelling. Sidney Pollack should have known this so I blame him. The magnificent acting of Kidman and Penn carried this movie as far as possible, but they could not completely save this methodical, sophomoric screenplay. But make no mistake, these two are at the peak of their craft and I enjoyed watching them work.
Sean Penn is not the tallest leading man and Pollack took great pains to make sure that he appeared not to be dwarfed by Too Tall. In one scene, Penn is sitting on a railing looking directly into the eyes of Kidman when they should have been at close range... face to face. I thought Kidman had to be over six feet tall, but I "Asked Jeeves" and he revealed that she was 180 cm. I need inches Jeeves! So I had to look that up; according my research, Too Tall Kidman is about 5' 11". That's too tall for Sean Penn, but about right for me. Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 87. Larry H.
I know it's only Wednesday, but I was at the EZ Tag store on a Monique mission just down the toll road from Tinseltown when I noticed that there was a noon showing of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." My friend Ed P. had called this morning raving about this flick. He'd read all five books by Douglas Adams who also co-wrote the screenplay before he died in 2001. The story originated on BBC radio in the late 70's. I missed going to a movie last Friday due to some very important business on the pistol range so I figured God wanted me to see this movie today.
Here's a hint about the cleverness of this movie: the opening theme song is from dolphins entitled "So Long & Thanks for the Fish". Within five minutes, our British hero Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) hooks up with a human-looking alien who convinces the Brit that the earth is about to be destroyed to make room for a hyperspace bypass. So, the alien and Arthur "hitch" a ride on a giant spaceship and begin their quest for life's answers and survival.
I have not read any of the Douglas Adams books, but I found myself marveling at the written word that could produce such a fantastic story with sublime wit mixed with charm and satire on the big screen. The movie's environment is a little like Stars Wars with a dash of "The Wizard of Oz" and a pinch of a Saturday Night Live sketch starring Will Ferrel as President Bush.
The movie is fast-paced even though I repeatedly had the feeling that some folks were laughing at certain jokes that I did not understand since I had not read the books. I resent that. This is a movie and the director should provide enough information for the entire audience to enjoy the show! The special effects are special.
This movie is not for everyone. I was surprised that there were abut 25 folks in attendance. Don't these people have a job? Amazingly, there were a high number of 75+ year olds in attendance. What's up with that? Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 88. Larry H.
There's nothing like a good 12th Century war movie where the men carry long heavy swords strapped over their shoulders like a modern-day soldier carrying an M-16 in generally the same neck of the woods: the Holy Land. This latest epic directed by Ridley Scott ("Gladiator") and written by William Monahan sets the Christians against the Muslims in vicious bloody fighting for control of Jerusalem.
In the first 45 minutes we are introduced to our common man hero Balian the Blacksmith aptly played by Orlando Bloom who is the son of Godfrey (Liam Neeson). Balian's wife commits suicide and if that was not bad enough, the local priest tells him that his wife will burn in hell. Well that really upset Balian so he runs a sword through the priest and shoves him into a fire. That did not go over well with the local village so Balian flees in an attempt to catch up with his father and fight the good fight in saving Jerusalem. Soon we find out what makes these warriors tick - they ain't scared of nothing and will kill you with a sword, staff or spear while bleeding from serious wounds. This courage or stupidity (close call) sets the stage for the rest of the movie which is dominated by close quarter combat and much blood.
Balian is confused about his trust of God and goes to the place of Christ's crucifixion to seek God's purpose and reconcile his sins. He quickly is befriended by his father's old knight buddies and inherits his father's estate and reputation. Meanwhile, King Baldwin (Edward Norton) who is a leper that wears a golden mask tries to maintain peace with the Muslims led by Saladin (Ghassam Massoud). But the age-old battle of "where do you spend your Sundays?" wages on and the Mother of all Battles to save Jerusalem looms.
The love interest is the King's sister Sibylla (Eva Green) whose husband is an instigator of war, but she has her eye on the gallant and brave Balian. One of the outstanding performances is by Jeremy Irons who plays Tiberias a trusted advisor to the king and a successful knight. The other actor worthy of accolades is the powerful portrayal of Saladin by Massoud.
This is a must see for all movie aficionados, but be warned: of the 22 people in attendance, there were only three women! The music by Harry Gregson-Williams and background singing were beautiful as well as the set design and special effects.
William Monahan wrote some classic lines for these characters: "What are you praying for...for the strength to endure what is to come. A King can move a man but his soul belongs to the man. Tell the truth even if it leads to your death. We must go to war...it is God's will. It is the Kingdom of Conscience...the Kingdom of Heaven. Peace be with you." And part of the Knight's oath: "Be without fear in the face of your enemies..."
Rock 'n Roll.
Grade 93. Larry H.