Alvin Sargent

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The Amazing Spider Man Review


Good
Just 10 years after Sam Raimi's now-iconic Spider-man, Marvel has decided to tell the character's origin story again, using a slightly different mythology. The main difference is the presence of appropriately named director Marc Webb, whose last film was the imaginative romantic-comedy (500) Days of Summer. Sure enough, the interpersonal drama is the best thing about this reboot. Much less successful is the action storyline, which feels awkwardly forced into the film to justify its blockbuster status.

A huge asset here is gifted lead actor Andrew Garfield, who takes on the role of Peter Parker with real passion. Peter is a 17-year-old science nerd in high school who has real depth due to his personal history. Growing up in New York with his aunt and uncle (Field and Sheen) after his parents disappeared, he's more than a little unsettled when the object of his secret crush, sexy-brainy Gwen (Stone), notices him. Meanwhile, he's bitten by a mutant spider and develops some strange powers, which he exercises by chasing down bad guys all over the city.

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Spider-Man 3 Review


Weak
Did Batman & Robin teach us nothing?

Universally considered the worst superhero sequel ever, Joel Schumacher's bloated monstrosity temporarily derailed Warner's lucrative Dark Knight franchise when it tried in vain to fill gaping plot holes with a multitude of C-list villains and unnecessarily whiny sidekicks.

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Spider-Man 2 Review


OK
What better way to celebrate the 4th of July than by spending a good two hours with America's favorite super hero, Spider-Man?

Tobey Maguire returns to the massively popular Spider-Man franchise after a two-year hiatus. And in case you forgot what happened in the summer of 2002, director Sam Raimi is happy to synopsize it for us in the first 40 minutes of this sequel. Poor Peter Parker can't win: He didn't get the girl (Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane), his beloved uncle is dead, Aunt May is about to lose her house, and he's failing out of college because he doesn't have time to study - he's too busy chasing down street thugs in his spidey suit.

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Paper Moon Review


Extraordinary
Has the Depression ever been this much fun?

Tatum O'Neal's celebrated (and Oscar-winning) turn as the daughter of a traveling grifter (played by dad Ryan O'Neal) is reason number one to watch the film, but dad's not too shabby, either. Their story is a pretty simple one: Con man Moses (Ryan) finds himself the sole caretaker of otherwise orphaned daughter Addie (Tatum). He can't pawn her off, but soon finds her pulling her own weight as she helps size up rubes as part of his scam: selling "deluxe" Bibles to the widows of the recently deceased. Eventually dad and daughter move on to bigger crimes and more amusing hijinks, including a stint with dad falling for a bawdy lounge singer (Madeline Kahn) and the duo nearly getting busted for bootlegging whisky.

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Unfaithful Review


Grim
Adrian Lyne is a director in flux. His mainstream film pedigree shows an aptitude for the making of great porn with films containing soft lighting, perfect bodies, and well-choreographed sex. Lyne's resume tells stories of incest (Lolita), adultery (Fatal Attraction), sex for money (Indecent Proposal) and carnal lust (Nine 1/2 Weeks). With Unfaithful, Lyne uses pieces from several prior efforts to tell a more complete adult drama, but he fails to create anything we have not seen before.

In Unfaithful, as with Fatal Attraction, Lyne uses a seemingly normal suburban family as the target for adulterous activities. Edward Sumner (Richard Gere) is the owner of an armored car company who works long hours in the office and at home. Edward's wife, Connie (Diane Lane), appears to be the happy housewife as she gets their son Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan) dressed, fed, and off to school every morning. Connie is working on an auction fundraiser for Charlie's school when a dark, exotic stranger Paul (Olivier Martinez) drifts into her life. (Sounds like porn, doesn't it?) Their initial encounter is innocent, but built on a series of lies and deceptions, a fanatical love affair is struck between the two strangers.

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Anywhere But Here Review


Unbearable
Anywhere But Here? A more apt title you will not find on a motion picture this decade.

After a witty lead like that, at this point in the movie review, I usually launch into a brief plot synopsis. So here goes: A down-to-earth teenage girl hates her crazy mother.

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Bogus Review


OK
If you were going to invent an imaginary friend, would it be GĂ©rard Depardieu? And would you call him "Bogus"? And would you call your movie Bogus? Nope, neither would I. Still, this "older kids" production is a cut above the usual kiddie fare. Yes, that's Haley Joel Osment appearing in one of his first films.

Ordinary People Review


Extraordinary
Before Good Will Hunting turned psychiatry into pop culture and before The Ice Storm made suburban angst into a fashion show, Ordinary People opened the eyes of all of us. A bitter and heart-wrenching tale of teen suicide and alienation, Timothy Hutton takes center stage as Conrad Jarrett, a troubled teenager trying to cope with the accidental death of his big brother -- and not doing a good job of it. In fact, he tried to "off himself" and, having not succeeded, he finds himself the sole exhibition in a virtual and delicate menagerie for his friends and his parents.

We soon see that Conrad's problems run deep, as what should be quaint little interactions between he and doting mom (Mary Tyler Moore, excellent here), or he and imperviously upbeat dad (Donald Sutherland, ditto) turn perverse and creepy. His shrink (Judd Hirsch) doesn't offer any "It's not your fault" platitudes, leaving Conrad's healing process up to himself. The only joy he finds is with his new girl Jeannine (Elizabeth McGovern, in her second role ever), who would be perfectly cast -- except she looks too much like Karen (Dinah Manoff), Conrad's friend from the hospital.

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