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You Kill Me Review


OK
Ben Kingsley can do just about anything, and that's basically why he is able to walk the tightrope he does. As popular and talented as Kingsley is, he also has an unmistakable air of anonymity. He's one of the few actors in the game who can play any character and somehow trick us into believing he's not Ben Kingsley playing a character; we just accept him as the character. It's this very talent that gives lesser material (House of Sand and Fog, Suspect Zero) a needed kick of rhythm and believability. Though he's not the only good thing in John Dahl's pulpy You Kill Me, his presence makes the fun all the more refreshing.

As Polish-mob hit-man Frank Falenczyk (pronounced Fail-an-chik), Kingsley has the most fun he's had onscreen since he muttered a red-streak as the frenzied madman Don Logan in Jonathan Glazer's superb Sexy Beast. This time, his gangster-take has a more reserved and subdued nature, playing more for deadpan hilarity than ballistic scares. That deadpan ability serves Frank best when he's banished from his New York home to San Francisco for botching a job after too many drinks. His boss (Philip Baker Hall) has had enough of his alcoholism, and his best friend (Marcus Thomas) can't help him any more. So, it's off to the Bay for him.

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My First Mister Review


OK
Looking back, My First Mister started to fall apart when John Goodman was first introduced as a pot-smoking, long-haired hippie remnant from The Big Lebowski. After that a terminal illness surfaces, then a character goes on a road trip, where the seeds of love are planted.

Somewhere between the first and second event I sighed in frustration. Another perfectly good movie gets ruined because of an extended trip into Clicheville. For a good fifty minutes or so, My First Mister rarely makes a mistake in detailing the friendship between a middle-aged, repressed clothing store manager Randall (Albert Brooks) and his 17-year-old Goth employee, Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski).

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Fly Away Home Review


Weak
Anna Paquin's first starring role after stealing an Oscar for The Piano is the harmless family movie Fly Away Home. Following in the footsteps of countless family movies before it, Fly Away Home tries too hard to appeal to both children and their parents and ultimately loses much of its appeal to everybody.

In case you missed the movie's trailer, which provides a nice plot synopsis, Fly Away Home is about a teenage girl (Paquin) from New Zealand who moves in with her Canadian father (Jeff Daniels) after her mother dies. The young girl is utterly bored and lonely until she finds a family of young goose eggs (eventually geese) to take care of. After she becomes the geese's mother, she finds happiness, and the whole family bands together to figure out how to take care of the geese. This ultimately leads to the decision to have young Anna fly the geese down south for the winter.

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Sexual Life Review


OK
Deja vu. I've now seen this movie three times: Only the first two times it was called Chain of Desire and Love in the Time of Money. Fortunately, Sexual Life is the marginal best of these three remarkably similar films: Each of which uses the new cliche of "six degrees of (sexual) separation" to tell its story. We start with one couple: Then she goes off to another guy, then he hooks up with another girl, and so on and so on until the movie comes full circle, of course. See, we're all screwing each other! Deep? Hardly, but a number of engaging performances here, most notably Elizabeth Banks and a less-crazy Anne Heche, elevate this into reasonable watchability.

Carolina Review


Weak
Just by looking at the cover you'll be able to figure out a fair amount of the content of Carolina. Sure, there will be a love triangle forming its central struggle, and a kindly old grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) will be on hand to dispense wisdom to young Carolina (Julia Stiles).

But will you guess that a major subplot will blatantly (and explicitly) rip off The Rocking Horse Winner? Or that MacLaine will spew a monologue about rubbing manure on her breasts? Wow. How could you?

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Father Of The Bride Review


OK
It's really hard to feel too terribly sorry for the uptight George Banks (Steve Martin) when he bitches and moans about the ever-rising costs of his daughter's wedding in Father of the Bride. After all, he lives in overstuffed opulence in a Pasadena mini-mansion, runs his own company, drives an antique sports car, has a perfect and gainfully employed wife (Diane Keaton), and two perfect kids (Kimberly Williams and Kieran Culkin). Is the wedding cake outrageously expensive? Get over it, George.

In fact, that's what wife Nina (Keaton) spends most of the movie saying. And that's what you'll be saying, too, as George whines about having to buy a tuxedo, mopes about the disruption to the house, disapproves of the perfect young man (George Newbern) who has deflowered his daughter, and gets all frantic about meeting his future in-laws (who are even richer than he is). What's really happening, of course, is that George simply doesn't want his daughter to grow up, and his way of raging against life's forward progression is to get cranky about the upcoming wedding day. How do we know? Because George tells us in his self-pitying narration. This is the kind of movie that has plenty of both show and tell.

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Shining Through Review


Terrible
Shining Through, the 1992 Melanie Griffith WWII espionage vehicle, scares me. If the U.S. government really behaved in any way as it does here, then "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" would be our national anthem. Shining Through is not a documentary or a Stephen Ambrose adaptation, but director/writer David Seltzer (Lucas) is presenting this as historical drama.

The movie revolves around baby-voiced Griffith posing as a domestic (from Düsseldorf, no less) for a high-ranking Nazi (Liam Neeson), tending to his kids while picking up information on the sly. That's not a bad idea, but it becomes a terrible idea since Griffith makes no attempt at a German accent. You keep wondering how the Nazis were able to make a sandwich. They maintained a military juggernaut? Thank God they were so oblivious.

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