Wim Wender's film opens with Travis wandering in a Texas desert. Lost for four years, Travis' brother, Walt, travels to Texas to claim him and takes him back to Los Angeles where Walt lives with his wife and Travis' son. Given Travis' absence, his son has all but forgotten about him -- causing Travis to clean up his act and get his life back in order. Given that Travis doesn't say a word for the first 20 minutes of the film, it's a little bizarre when the film focuses solely on him in the second and third acts -- turning a blind eye to Walt and his wife, who have been moving the story along for the first half.
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But Lynch fans might find stuff to enjoy in Dune anyhow. After all, there's a floating bug monster that parlays with Jose Ferrer's space emperor in the early going, flanked by legions of somnambulant slaves in black raincoats that probably inspired the villains in Dark City. This is followed by Kenneth MacMillan's puss-faced Baron Harkonnen floating around on wires, plucking out the heart of an angel-faced boy-toy (who was planting Blue Velvet-style pastel flowers only moments earlier), and sharing some homo-erotic blubbering with his nephew Feyd (played by Sting, who can't act but lends the film his charismatic rock star presence). Even when the plot is difficult to follow -- some nonsense involving a trade war over different planets that all made sense in Frank Herbert's original novel -- there's enough giddy comic book theatrics to keep Dune interesting as it meanders along for nearly three hours.
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A dark comedy on par with Pulp Fiction, Aussie director Gregor Jordan (in his second film) transports us to Germany in 1989, on an American Army base during the waning days of the Cold War. These enlisted troops aren't your Officer and a Gentleman go-getters. They're criminals, offered the option to serve their country in lieu of staying in jail. But since there's no war on, getting in to trouble is the only thing to do. As our protagonist says, "There was nothing to kill but time."
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Frankly, I was shocked to discover how much I liked Air Force One. Yes, it has villainous Russians who can never see our good guy President (Harrison Ford) when he's hiding right in front of them (much less shoot him). Yes, it has Secret Service guys who die at the hand of the enemy like flies in a bug zapper. Yes, it has the cheesiest special effects this side of of a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Yes, it features a rambling Gary Oldman in one of his clearly improvised looney-tune terrorist/psychopath roles. I could go on and on...
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CQ stars mostly people you've never heard of in a movie about making movies that were never actually made. Don't worry, it's really not that confusing. Boring, yes, but certainly not confusing. Jeremy Davies plays Paul, a struggling young director, who funds his personal film by working as a film editor on a cheesy, big budget science-fiction movie. But his director doesn't have an ending, and eventually Paul finds himself gifted with the job.
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For most of the film, Nick and Nora are chasing about after the killer(s) and getting a quickie introduction to the jazz world, one strangely uninhabited by African-Americans. The dry-martini duo get dragged to a number of kuh-raaaaazy daddio hepcat happenings, which juices things up somewhat, as the mystery here is somewhat of a klunker and one that you quickly stop trying to bother figuring out.
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Director Jonathan Demme's remake of "The Manchurian Candidate" is eerily effective in bringing the 1962 masterpiece of chilling dark satire and dangerous political corruption up to date for a world in which corporations seemingly pocket candidates, terrorists threaten freedom and fear-mongering has virtually become a campaign platform.
In this new film, the original's stiff, communist-brainwashed war hero and would-be presidential assassin Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) has become an unstable war-hero vice-presidential candidate (Liev Schreiber) made very susceptible to suggestion by a defense-contracting conglomerate (modeled on the Carlyle Group and Halliburton). And his controlling, calculating, daunting and devious behind-the-scenes mother (the brilliantly ominous Angela Lansbury in '62) has become a bulldozing, hawkish senior senator in her own right (played slightly more shrill by Meryl Streep).
An obligatory girlfriend role filled by Janet Leigh 42 years ago is refashioned into someone altogether more pivotal to the plot (a seeming good Samaritan played by Kimberly Elise). And Maj. Bennett Marco, the nightmare-haunted central character (then Frank Sinatra, now Denzel Washington) who pieces together a startling conspiracy, has become a victim of Gulf War Syndrome and at times hangs onto his own sanity by a very thin thread.
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At once an homage to and a spoof of two signature styles of late 1960s cinema, "CQ" is an enjoyably eccentric entry into feature filmmaking by a writer-director who has the art form in his blood -- Roman Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola's son.
The title refers to an old Morse Code and ham radio signal sent to seek any kind of response ("seek you"), and it's reflective of the movie's main character. An ambivalent aspiring filmmaker (Jeremy Davies) seeking inspiration in 1969 Paris, he's torn between his desire to make a conceptual, black-and-white New Wave art film and his day job editing a studio's cheesy, sexploitive "Barbarella"-like B-movie.
Gritting his teeth over silly science fiction by day, he spends his nights locked in his bathroom, burning through miles of "borrowed" film on rambling autobiographic monologues while his live-in girlfriend frets in frustration. Davies' dilemma comes to a head when the manic director of the sexy sci-fi flick (played with comedic panache by Gerard Depardieu) is fired over creative differences.
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