Baby stars Hilary Swank,
who should win an Oscar for her portrayal of a novice 30 year old
boxer with nowhere to go but down for the count (or, alternately,
rocket to pugilistic stardom). Director Clint Eastwood stars
as the trainer who refuses to work with girls. He will, of course.
Co-starring Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby is
a hard core drama that ranks with the finest of the year. A tough
sit, but a good sit for those who want nothing but good acting
and drama. [we know that's a couple of y'all out there <g>].
Kids expecting a female Rocky will be bored silly.
Hotel Rwanda stars Don
Cheadle as manager of an African four star hotel in a country
beset by tribal civil war. That means atrocities every- where you
look. Nick Nolte appears as a UN Forces commander but, as
you cynics can guess, his idea of saving the day isn't the same
as the Manager's. Hotel Rwanda is violent and shocking;
it is as uplifting as it is hard core drama. One of the best "art
house" oriented films we've seen this year. Djimon Hounsou and Joaquin
For everyone not
in a Top Ten market, multiple Oscar nominee Sideways stars Paul
Giamatti (who didn't get a nomination) and Thomas Hayden Church (who
did) as two pals on a road trip into California wine country prior
to the latter's wedding. Add ladies Sandra Oh and Virginia
Madsen (the latter also nominated) to the mix and you've got
one of the top indieflicks of the year -- at least it's getting all
the awards it can carry home. Try and figure out why the Academy
gave short shrift to Giamatti. We can't.
The Aviator stars Leonardo
DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in the days when quirky wasn't the
equivalent of off the wall whacko. Cate Blanchett co-stars
as girlfriend Katharine Hepburn. Directed by Martin Scorsese it
is another addition to our best film of the year list. At
a shade under three hours it only feels like two and, for those
who haven't trusted us on this since Gangs of New York,
our femme friend shares your pain and even she says to go. This
will take most of the Oscars, come Sunday.
Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou stars Bill
Murray as a Jacques Cousteau-like deep sea explorer whose best
friend is eaten by a shark. Murray's character vows revenge.
That's it. There's nothing more in
the way of story or plot or character development (which also wastes
co-stars Cate Blanchett and Angelica Huston) in a
total waste of time that has even less to offer than last year's
Oscar nom Lost in Translation -- y'all know if you should spend
your money on this loser, based on your reaction to that flick. One
day Bill Murray's fanbase will make enough noise to get him the Oscar
nomination that he deserves. We wish they'd do it for a film that deserves
A Love Song for
Bobby Long stars Scarlett
Johansson, John Travolta and Gabriel Macht. Johansson's
character heads home for the first time in ten years, following her
mom's death. There she finds two drunks -- Travolta as an ex-professor
and Macht as a student determined to write a book about his prof's
life. From there on out it's all Travolta doing his best to show
his chops and get an Oscar nomination. The story isn't interesting.
Neither are the characters or the performances.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's
The Phantom of the Opera is
impressively directed by Joel Schumacher (he always does manage
lovely pictures) but if Andrew Lloyd Webber's score leaves you flat
-- in our case it bores the stuffing out of us -- this Phantom is
a tiresome run of pretty pictures. But that's just us.
Better we should say that our
femme friend adored the thing and leave it as a dateflick reco. That is the
definition of our $5 dateflick rating after all, a movie which will
thrill one end of the date and stupefy the other.
of Richard Nixon stars Sean
Penn in a based on real life story of a miserable businessman
who, back in 1974, got it into his head that all his woes would disappear
if only the country weren't run by Richard Nixon. How he decides
to do it should ring a bell with anyone who remembers 9/11. Yeah,
the one 25+ years on. As much as it is Penn's try for Oscar nomination,
this is a better balanced film than the two described to the right.
Those who live for the arthouse, which this week seems to include
all the posters on the IMDB, will walk out drooling over Penn's performance.
Wait 'til March and see if he gets nominated. Then rent. Either way
you'll thank us for saving you money.
Beyond thes Sea stars Kevin
Spacey as the late singer, and star of the pre-Beatles time Bobby
Darin with Kate Bosworth as his wife, movie star Sandra Dee.
Yes, the same Dee dissed in the musical Grease. Those fans
who grew up with Darin first hand, like Cranky's mom, will enjoy
this greatly. Spacey is way too old to be playing the lead role,
though his singing is fine, and the life story is not all that interesting
to those raised on rock 'n' roll.
a Mike Nichols film with A-listers Julia Roberts, Jude
Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen as a pair of couples
whose lives go to pot when a wee bit of amorous dalliance gets in
the way. We actually sat for this thing twice for the simple
reason that we didn't believe such a cast and helmer could turn out
such a piece of crap. Our first reaction was correct. Avoid this
film unless you prefer arthouse fare that sets y'all up with light
comedy and drops the hammer with extreme unpleasant stuff and a ton
of four letter words in the back half.
the new Téa Leoni dramedy (drama and comedy) about
an illegal Mexican immigrant (Paz Vega) and the self absorbed
mistress of the house ( Leoni) she will come to serve. From James
L Brooks, who never wrote a teevee sitcom that didn't make us
laugh nor a film that made us want to stay -- yeah, we know all about
all the Oscars won by As Good As It Gets. This time out Brooks
managed to hit all our negative buttons inside of the first five
minutes of film.
Oh. Wait. You thought it was a new Adam
Sandler comedy? It's a Ha Ha Ha Ha-free flick. Sorry.
White Noise used
to be found on TV screens late at night when local stations sent
out an unmodulated carrier wave after signing off for the night.
With cable and 24 hour local stations we don't have this in most
of the USA anymore, thus this worst of the year tale of a
dead wife communicating via the electronic ether, dreamed up by Brits
who still have plenty of noise. Michael Keaton and Chandra
West are the happy loving couple unhappily separated early on
in the film. A man (Ian McNiece) appears to say he is receiving
personal messages from beyond the grave (he's doing the same for Deborah
Kara Unger) but the script and production are so second rate
it is too painful to describe let alone sit through. Avoid.