J.e. Freeman

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Wild At Heart Review


OK
Was there any film so anxiously awaited in the late 1980s and early 1990s as Wild at Heart? The picture was released to a cult that had just been born: that of its director, David Lynch, whose Blue Velvet, in 1986, had reaped an enthusiastic following among the mainstream hipsters who had missed Eraserhead in 1977, and whose budding appetite for Lynch's singular brand of the macabre had been whetted by the prime-time ghoulishness of 1990's Twin Peaks. Wild at Heart's Palme d'Or win at Cannes just before its 1990 release only tantalized more; and after what seemed for Lynch's starving fans a nearly eternal wait, the film opened at last to high expectations, but decidedly mixed reviews.

Wild at Heart was puzzling, because it was screwed up and it was hard to figure out why. Time - and, 14 years later, the DVD release - helps to clear up that central enigma. Based very loosely on Barry Gifford's novel, this manic, Southern Gothic road movie now seems too deliberately weird. And in retrospect the cause seems to be that its creator, a strange man if the available evidence of his films is to be believed, and one who then was only recently revered as a certain type of genius, was trying so hard just to be himself.

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Patriot Games Review


Very Good
Out with Alec Baldwin and in with Harrison Ford -- as CIA analyst Jack Ryan becomes caught up in an international incident again as he lectures in London, throwing so much action at us that we are meant to forget they switched the lead actors on us.

Turns out it doesn't matter much. Ford is of course a talented action/adventure hero, maybe the best ever. It's too bad that this Jack Ryan adventure has less epic-ness than Red October; it's written small, with Ryan caught up in an IRA attack on British bigwigs. After capping off a few of them in an impromptu streetfight, Ryan finds his family hunted down in America. Eventually -- of course -- he has to save them (using his litany of superspy tricks and tactics).

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Go Review


Essential
Believe it or not, this is a Christmas movie! And here it is, the middle of April, and there's nothing else I'd rather see.

Let me put it this way: Go is the best movie I've seen since Fargo. Doug Liman, the man behind the brilliant Swingers, (which, I realized, came out much too long ago, in 1996), has concocted such a film that I'm almost compelled to pay the whopping $8.50 to see it again.

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Miller's Crossing Review


Good
The Coen brothers went all Clockwork Orangey in their most violent but least ironic picture, Miller's Crossing. It's a relatively run of the mill gangster thriller, though oddly the film has found an intensely loyal audience. (Many even consider it to be the best of the Coens' films.) The story follows a Prohibition era crime boss's aide (Gabriel Byrne), who finds himself trying to keep the peace between his boss and a warring faction. He loves his boss's gal, too.

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Suspended Animation Review


Good
Here's a weird little item. Somewhere between a nighttime soap opera and an EC Horror comic book is Suspended Animation. Hollywood animator Tom Kempton (Alex McArthur) is accosted by some psychopathic women on a snowmobile trip, and given some Misery-style torture by the old crones (played by Laura Esterman and Sage Allen, making for a pair of spooky sisters). Those who think they might have fallen into a B-version of Stephen King's popular novel might not enjoy the opening third, which is as familiar as Kathy Bates's mallet. But they're advised to stick with it. Suspended Animation isn't content to play itself out as a ham-fisted rip-off. (Those who plan on seeing the movie should know that the whacked-out twists in the narrative are pretty much the entire pleasure of Suspended Animation, and are advised to check out of this review now.)

Still here? I thought so. Suspended Animation quickly dispenses with the kidnapped author premise, as Tom's friends sweep in for a daring rescue and a bloody snowmobile chase quickly follows. Just as I predicted the opening of the movie as a pale rip-off of Misery, I now thought it was going to be a girl hunter version of Deliverance. Not so. Again, Suspended Animation jets through this section with economy and an appropriate level of menace. Unlike most low budget thrillers that dawdle their way through 90 minutes, Suspended Animation briskly covers that territory in less than half of its entire running time (a surprisingly fast two hours).

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Go Movie Review

Go Movie Review

Believe it or not, this is a Christmas movie! And here it is, the...

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