Arnold Kopelson

Arnold Kopelson

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Platoon Review


Extraordinary
Like no other movie could tell, Platoon shows us categorically that war -- and especially the Vietnam War -- is hell.

The story is vintage Oliver Stone -- based on his own experiences in the bush with only a few moments of fictionalization. In Platoon, Charlie Sheen plays a young and naive Private Chris Taylor, a newbie in Nam who is thrown waist-deep into the jungle only hours after arrival. Within a week he's regretting having volunteered, already a shell of the man he was in the States.

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Twisted Review


Unbearable
Few cities on earth make for a better backdrop for murder mysteries than San Francisco. Its naturally spooky features - the fog-shrouded skyline, the damp city streets, and the massive bay - are all instant mood setters. It's the ultimate studio backlot. And yet, it amazes me that the thriller Twisted wastes all of the suspense and atmosphere that is so intrinsic in the San Francisco surroundings.

Ashley Judd plays newbie homicide detective Jessica Shepard, a former street beat cop whose quick rise in the department is due to her connections with the police commissioner John Mills (Samuel L. Jackson). When Shepard's parents were killed in a murder-suicide decades before, Mills (who was Shepard's father's former partner) became Shepard's surrogate father and mentor. She still struggles with the death of her family today and attends mandated counseling sessions with Dr. Melvin Frank (David Strathairn). Yet, despite the professional help, she drinks heavy doses of alcohol, sleeps with any man she finds at a bar, and fights with fellow detectives.

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Outbreak Review


OK
You know this story by now: Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo are medical researchers, sent to save a town infected with a virus brought in from an African monkey. Donald Sutherland is the bad guy: he wants to use the virus as a weapon. Morgan Freeman mediates, and Wolfgang Petersen directs.

The painfully obvious plotline makes this an overly long medical thriller with no thrill. All that's left is some spewed-out medical terms, a sappy love story, and a few million bucks worth of military surplus jeeps and tanks. Luckily, Dustin and Co. are able to put this stuff to fairly good work, with strong performances by Hoffman and Russo saving the day, and the eerie feeling that all this military goofiness is just a bit too real.

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Seven Review


Excellent
Would somebody turn on the lights already? Geez...in the nameless city that is the setting of Seven, it seems you can only get a 10-watt bulb, and that's when the power works at all. I liked the film, but with the constant thunderclouds, rain, and shadows, it's terribly difficult to tell what's going on.

The title refers to the Seven Deadly Sins--and a serial killer who is planning to knock off one "evil person" for each vice. The first to go is "gluttony," an obese man whom the killer force-feeds until he pops. And trust me, after that, it only gets worse.

Continue reading: Seven Review

Platoon Review


Extraordinary
Like no other movie could tell, Platoon shows us categorically that war -- and especially the Vietnam War -- is hell.

The story is vintage Oliver Stone -- based on his own experiences in the bush with only a few moments of fictionalization. In Platoon, Charlie Sheen plays a young and naive Private Chris Taylor, a newbie in Nam who is thrown waist-deep into the jungle only hours after arrival. Within a week he's regretting having volunteered, already a shell of the man he was in the States.

Continue reading: Platoon Review

Joe Somebody Review


Grim
The premise for Joe Somebody could fit on the back of a Cuban postcard. But here's the long version: Allen plays Joe Scheffer -- a poster boy for cubical bleakness -- who works as a video editor at a generic pharmaceutical company in Minnesota, who spends his days cutting together ridiculous ads for nameless health products. Joe's divorced, has an annoyingly clever pre-teen daughter, and dresses like a substitute teacher. One day, while parking his tan sedan in the "10-year associates" parking lot during family day at the office -- don't ask -- a confrontation occurs between Joe and salesman named Mark McKinney. No kids, not the guy from Kids in the Hall who crushes heads with his thumb and index finger, McKinney is played by Patrick Warburton, who stars in yet another bad movie role. After getting bitch-slapped in the most unbelievable scene in recent cinema memory, Joe retreats into a state of drunkenness, ashamed of failing in the eyes of his daughter and getting further pummeled by McKinney.

After emotional prodding by the company's "wellness director" Meg Harper (hotcake Julie Bowen), Joe is awakened from his corporate stupor and challenges McKinney to a rematch to regain his honor. In the process, Joe gains the admiration of the entire company, as everyone in the place appears somehow pissed off at him. On the road to recovery, Joe lands the promotion he always wanted, kicks ass at squash, leads fellow co-workers in karaoke, and eventually evolves into the kind of generic corporate schmuck that we all hate far worse than any big league bully.

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Falling Down Review


Excellent
Falling Down proved in 1993 that Joel Schumacher can make a good movie if he tries. A minor cult favorite, Falling Down tells the simple story of a guy (Michael Douglas) trying to get home from work... only he's been laid off, he gets stuck in traffic, he can't order breakfast, his wife refuses to let him see his kid, and... well, and our anti-hero snaps, resulting in a manhunt led by last-day-on-the-job cop Robert Duvall. Two interesting characters intertwine while a raucous and wry adventure develops underneath them. Quite a fascinating and original work of art.

Eraser Review


Weak
Is it just me, or is Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent getting worse? I think it is, as is his acting ability, as well as his choice of films to star in. This time it's Eraser, a big-budget, small-plot, fair-to-middling feature that continues the testosterone-infused series that Arnie's been working on since Pumping Iron.

It's the cheeseball role to end all cheeseball roles: John Kruger (Arnie) works for the Witness Relocation Program as an "identity eraser," and he answers to no one (sorta). His charge is Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams), an executive with "Cyrez," who discovers that her company is selling next generation weapons to Russkie terrorists. The FBI uses her just to get the goods on Cyrez, and it's up to Arnie to save her hide from the bad guys, which includes turncoat fellow eraser Robert Deguerin (James Caan).

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The Devil's Advocate Review


Good
It takes a story this ridiculous to be this good. Imagine The Firm, but with the Devil. (Cue demonic laughter.) Keanu Reeves stars as a rising star of a lawyer, and Al Pacino stars as the Devil himself (sample line: "Call me dad!"). The movie plays perfectly into Pacino's penchant to overact the crap out of his part -- only this part has no limit to the attitude you can throw at it. The rest of the film is simply very well-made. Special effects, acting (particularly Charlize Theron as Keanu's sanity-vacating wife), music, set design -- it's all there. No, it ain't Oscar bait, it's just one, ahem, hell of a good time.

Don't Say A Word Review


Grim
Surrounded by hype, high hopes, and the promise of an over-the-top performance by Clueless's Brittany Murphy, Don't Say a Word looked full of promise. Hell, when I hear that "I'll never tell" whisper on the TV commercial, goose bumps run up my spine.

Alas, Word is filled with little but disappointment, a kooky mix of Girl, Interrupted and Ransom, with Michael Douglas and company collecting a paycheck to plod through a vapid and dull kidnapping thriller.

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The Fugitive Review


Good
I never "got" the fascination with this picture -- basically a big chase film with yet another wrongfully-accused guy on the wrong end of the law. But Harrison Ford is awfully good, as usual, looking genuinely frantic and haggard for the first time since, well, Frantic.

Tommy Lee Jones also has the role of his life. Fugitive mania still continues, spawning a sequel (U.S. Marshals) and a TV show reviving our hero's run (albeit, a show that only lasted one season). Go, Harrison, go!

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