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Imaginary Heroes Review


Very Good
Considering that Imaginary Heroes starts off with a teenager's suicide and then follows what happens to his family in the following year, it's a surprisingly energetic film that refuses to send its characters through either easy therapeutic resolution or cinematically pretty depression. This is more about how people grieve in reality, how they keep on moving through the days and plowing through the grief. And though it can't avoid all the potential clichés that come into its path, this is a tale of suburban angst that can easily stand beside works like American Beauty and The Ice Storm, if not surpass them completely.

The feature directing debut of Dan Harris, the scriptwriting wunderkind behind X2 and a batch of upcoming superhero flicks (from Superman to The Fantastic Four), Imaginary Heroes is a breathtakingly assured piece of work. Notable are the shimmering cinematography and unusually nuanced performances from both veteran actors we tend to take for granted and several fresh, younger faces. It starts off with Matt Travis (Kip Pardue), a high school swimming legend who always hated swimming and so shoots himself in the head one night. Although we only really see him in retrospect, talked about in narration by his younger brother, Matt (Emile Hirsch), it's quickly obvious that Matt was the shining star of the family and so everything quickly goes to pot in his absence. The dad (Jeff Daniels) collapses into an unshaven, sullen drunk, and the sister (Michelle Williams) dashes back to the safe haven of college. Matt - the film's closest thing to a protagonist - buries everything deep, hiding all emotions from his best friend Kyle (Ryan Donowho) and girlfriend, breaking up with her after she keeps asking how he's feeling and why his body is covered in bruises.

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Heat Review


Excellent
I hate to condone the making of 3-hour long movies, but Heat is one in which you're not going to fall asleep. Comparisons to Casino are going to be inevitable, with both hitting the 180-minute mark and starring Robert De Niro as a crook, but unlike that film, Heat manages to keep the interest level high throughout the whole picture.

Heat is the instantly gripping tale of a large-scale heist leader and die-hard loner named Neil McCauley (De Niro). As the film opens, he and his team of brutal, precision thieves (including Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore) knock over (literally) an armored car for a stash of bearer bonds. On the case is Detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), a troubled, angst-ridden veteran of the LAPD. Over the course of the film, McCauley and Hanna develop a strange sort of kinship, even as McCauley's crimes increasingly raise the stakes and Hanna's efforts to stop him become more and more desperate.

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The Untouchables Review


Excellent
Why would anybody still want to watch a movie as deeply flawed as The Untouchables? Certainly it's not for historical accuracy: The real Federal Agent Elliot Ness was perfectly happy to dun mob kingpin Al Capone on tax evasion and avoid the intense gunplay that the movie depicts. It's not De Palma: Scarface is his better mob picture, and Blow Out has more drama. And Lord knows it's not the performances: Kevin Costner earned much of his rep as a wet blanket here, and Sean Connery's stubborn refusal to change his accent for his role is almost comic. Never has an Irish cop sounded so Scottish, though Connery did get the last laugh - he took home a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Jim Malone.

Why watch? Because despite its flaws, The Untouchables is a magnificent movie about political clout -- a worthy subject that Hollywood's rarely bothered to tackle and usually gets wrong. Clout isn't bribing a police chief with a briefcase full of hundred-dollar bills; it's making sure the police chief's son gets a cushy job at your concrete firm, thereby ensuring you're the low bidder on sidewalk contracts. Clout isn't hiring hit men to off your worst enemy and toss him in a ditch; it's buying drinks for a high school buddy who works at the county assessor's office who just happens to find so many structural problems with your enemy's grocery store that he's forced to close shop and leave town. Those aren't events in The Untouchables, but they echo the kind of emotional noise that David Mamet's script makes - it's a revenge fantasy for any person who wondered why they had to suck up to their alderman or local ward heeler just to get their trash picked up on time. Clout isn't muscle - it's clever muscle. And The Untouchables understands that cleverness.

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Fast Times At Ridgemont High Review


Excellent
What, you ask, is this movie of movies? This one which you've heard about? It's an eighties thing, with not much appeal for the modern troupe because its slower paced, less funny, than what you might see today. But, like a lot of eighties movies, it holds its own merit. This adaptation of the book by Cameron Crowe (don't know who he is? I'll give you a hint. He wrote and directed the famous line "Did you know the human brain weighs eight pounds?" That's right, the maker of Jerry Maguire and Singles) is a coming-of-age drama about a young girl making the choice all of us make, sex or a relationship.Sure, we tell ourselves that both can exist, and they can, but there is the line that she draws: if she wants to sleep around or if she wants to have something to hold onto. And the movie, in a nutshell, is about that. It follows her and her friends during their last year in High School in the small town of Ridgemont. Where each one of them ends up with their troubles, ranging from no girlfriend to an abortion to adultery. It sounds serious, right?That's not quite on target.The movie has its serious moments, but it has its funny moments too: from two girls practicing blow jobs on a carat at a lunch table to a guy cruising for chicks dressed in a pirate cap. The movie is sublimely funny. And interesting. It's very sad, in my mind, that those things are so rarely seen in the 90s.

Melvin And Howard Review


Good
Much less fun than I'd remembered: Melvin and Howard is the true-ish about Melvin Dummar (Paul Le Mat), a guy who claims to have picked up a desert wanderer... who in turns claimed to have been Howard Hughes (Jason Robards). Dummar later claimed to receive a letter from Hughes, willing his fortune to him. The courts disagreed. This movie, however, isn't much about that. The bulk concerns Melvin's life in the time between the pickup and the will, namely his quest to be Milkman of the Month, and his wife's white-trash ways. More time with Hughes would have been highly preferable.

Pushing Tin Review


OK
Pushing Tin is being promoted as a funny, endearing look at the crazy-wacky lives of air traffic controllers, with a little romance in the mix.

Pushing Tin is actually a droll, relatively lifeless look at the crazy-wacky lives of two rival air traffic controllers (Cusack and Thornton), neither of whom you'll actually like very much nor care about.

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Fight Club Review


Excellent
The first rule of Fight Club is "Do not talk about Fight Club."

So I'm breaking the rule. I figured you'd want to hear about it.

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The Edge Review


Excellent
What do you get when you combine a bear, a man that may or may not want to kill another for his wife, and an entrapanuer with a seemingly infinite wealth of knowledge? Ask me that a month ago and I'd say that I wouldn't see a movie with that plotline if you paid me. But after a barrage of good advertising and even better hype, I decided that I'd go see it.

What a surprise.

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Heist Review


Good
David Mamet is a good director. Mamet's an even better screenwriter and playwright. The guy's authored some of the best film and theatre works in the past decade -- The Verdict, House of Games, Wag the Dog, State and Main, and the guy even won a Pulitzer Prize for his play Glengarry Glen Ross. With that said, it's such a shame that his latest crime caper, Heist, falls apart by employing too many of the well-known devices of a Mamet production -- double-crossing femmes fatale, overtly memorable characters, and deceptive plot lines.

But movies like The Spanish Prisoner, Things Change, and The Winslow Boy display a roundness to Mamet's innate abilities. And it's almost a crime to witness how all of that goes awry in his latest film, Heist.

Continue reading: Heist Review

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