George Plimpton

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Soul Power Review


Excellent
Shot at the same time as the award-winning doc When We Were Kings, this companion film is even better. In linking the legendary 1974 Rumble in the Jungle with the music festival that ran alongside it, we get a remarkable glimpse of the day's racial and political issues.

President Mobuto himself provided the venue for the three-day music festival, although Don King concentrated on the Ali-Foreman main event. A Liberian investment group funded both the festival and the documentary, which goes some way in explaining why it took 35 years to edit together footage that covers everything from the Zaire-bound plane flights to the amazing performances. The best moments are when the participants land in Africa, seeing the home of their ancestors for the first time and interacting with the community around them.

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Sam the Man Review


Terrible
Gary Winick's first -- and biggest -- gaffe is in casting uber-nerd Fisher "Johnny Five!" Stevens as a slick lothario that beds countless women. Christening him "The Man" in the film's title is just adding insult to injury.

And so we come to the strange, sad, and rather crass case of Sam the Man, a creepy and just plain wrong romantic dramedy that's got no romance, few laughs, minimal drama, and a parade of hateful characters. Wrap them up in a cheap, out-of-focus, underlit, and inaudible package shot on cheap digital video, and the recipe for disaster is complete. Microwave on high for three minutes.

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Just Visiting Review


OK
In 1993, director Jean-Marie Poiré created a small comedy sensation about two 12th century Frenchmen (played by Jean Reno and popular French comic actor Christian Clavier) who are mistakenly transported to the modern world. The film made nearly $100 million worldwide and was never released theatrically in the US.

It's eight years later, and Poiré has directed another small comedy about two 12th century Frenchmen (hmm, played by Jean Reno and that same popular French guy) who are mistakenly transported to Chicago 2000. Hey, wait a minute!

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Breakfast With Hunter Review


Good
"Breakfast" for Hunter S. Thompson means a tray full of uneaten food and a large glass of ice filled with Chivas Regal.

With the meal out of the way, we can sit down to the rest of this documentary, a rough and unpolished chronicle of a few years in Thompson's life, roughly 1996-1998, during the planning and making of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Director Wayne Ewing must be great friends with the notorious writer, as he appears to have unhindered access to the minutiae of Hunter's life. In addition to the various meetings (lots of honorary dinners, lots of speeches in his honor, a handful of public appearances), we go behind the scenes -- most notably to bear witness to his squabbles with Repo Man director Alex Cox, the original director of Fear and Loathing, who wants to have a cartoon opening to the movie.

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Just Visiting Review


Weak

Imagine "Crocodile Dundee" with a 12th Century knight in Chicago instead of a leathery lifelong Outbacker in New York, and you've pretty much got the crux of "Just Visiting," a slapsticky, Hollywood remake of 1993's slapsticky French mega-hit "Les Visiteurs."

Jean Reno and Christian Clavier reprise their roles from the original as Count Thibault of Malfete and his groveling servant-sidekick André, who are transported to modern times by a wizard's miscalculated spell.

How they have the dumb luck to materialize in a Chicago history museum where a Malfete descendent (Christina Applegate) is in charge of the 12th Century France exhibit isn't explained. In fact, the vast majority of the movie is dependent on the audience blindly accepting supremely stupid plot holes. But somehow director Jean-Marie Gaubert (also returning from the '93 version) manages to keep this fish-out-of-water stuff amusing, even though the film seems a little too pleased with its own self-aware cartoony-ness.

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