Jurgen Prochnow

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Nanking Review


Excellent
Four years before Pearl Harbor, Japan was already on the march in China, grabbing territory in its quest for imperial expansion. After Shanghai fell, Japanese troops set their sights on Nanking, the capital of China at the time. It was just 160 miles up the Yangtze River.

The events later known as the rape of Nanking happened quickly, over just six horrific weeks at the end of 1937 and into 1938, and because the city was so cut off at the time and the war went on for eight more years, much of the story went untold for decades. It wasn't until writer Iris Chang documented the tragedy in her 1998 book The Rape of Nanking that the true scope of the horror was made apparent. It was that book that inspired Nanking, a highly effective documentary that uses interesting techniques to tell its remarkable story.

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The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum Review


Excellent
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum was made in 1975 but it feels timelier than many movies made today, especially in regard to the world's current political situations.

The main theme of the film, which is about the way that the state and the press use their power and influence to entirely degrade a person who has no means of self defense, is pretty effective. But another message that really comes across is simply, "Beware who you sleep with."

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Primeval Review


Terrible
If there was ever a film that was so awful it practically begged for the resurrection of the cult TV show Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (or MST3K), where geeks made fun of films while watching them, it's Primeval. Not only is this killer croc flop not frightening, it's insultingly stupid. The plot is a flimsy mishmash of every nature-run-amok and adventure-in-Africa film of the past 50 years, and there are sequences that feel so old -- so moth-eaten -- that I expected a man in a gorilla suit to appear and carry off the leading (white) lady.

So, this killer crocodile, with the absurd handle of Gustave, is munching on Africans in war-torn Burundi. And he's like super hungry. Given that he can live to 100 years and eats hundreds of people a year, the croc's a one-lizard population safeguard. Unfortunately for the villagers who live in fear of this monster, there's another Gustave in the bush: Little Gustave, a nasty decapitating warlord. (His name is a great example of Hollywood slap-your-forehead allegory.) When an American news network sends in a television crew to film the capture of the croc, they run afoul of both the cold-blooded river beast and the hot-tempered warlord. Hysterics ensue.

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Beerfest Review


OK
Has there been one laugh-out-loud comedy, with the exception of Ricky Bobby, this summer? The excellent Little Miss Sunshine was more of a drama, though Abigail Breslin's pageant finale was hilarious. The Break-Up, with its force feeding of wacky characters, was terrible. Scoop felt too much like a compilation of Woody Allen's not-so greatest hits. Clerks II had its moments, but it lacked the spontaneity and rawness that made the first one so great. Poseidon was funny for all the wrong reasons.

Now enter Beerfest, the newest comedy from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. It's not nearly as funny as Super Troopers, but it's not nearly as atrocious as the laugh-empty Club Dread. In this dead season of laughs, that makes Beerfest almost a rousing success.

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Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me Review


Weak
You can almost plot David Lynch's lunacy on a graph. From perfect form in 1990, with the original Twin Peaks TV show, to borderline schizophrenia with the second season in 1991, to absolute lunacy in 1992, with the prequel movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Filled with non-sequitur imagery and symbolism, Fire ostensibly tells how Laura Palmer came to be wrapped in that sheet of plastic which so fatefully washed ashore in the first episode of the TV series. But Fire doesn't really tell any story at all. There are scenes of exposition, but these are sandwiched between the endless dream sequences, the lunatic characters (like the woman in red and the one-armed man) who appear and vanish just as suddenly, and bonus raunch added just for the purpose of titillating the audience.

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Dune (1984) Review


Good
Did you know David Lynch at one time considered directing Return of the Jedi? Legions of George Lucas fans are probably delighted that he never got the shot, because for better or for worse (probably for worse) it might have turned out like the bizarre sci-fi experiment Dune. I've sometimes been accused of defending Lynch even when he's not working at his best. That's clearly the case here, resulting in a compromised megabudget effort where Lynch attempts to indulge his graphic art sensibility and please a mass audience at the same time. It just doesn't fly.

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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The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum Review


Excellent
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum was made in 1975 but it feels timelier than many movies made today, especially in regard to the world's current political situations.

The main theme of the film, which is about the way that the state and the press use their power and influence to entirely degrade a person who has no means of self defense, is pretty effective. But another message that really comes across is simply, "Beware who you sleep with."

Continue reading: The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum Review

Wing Commander Review


Terrible
You've played the game, now see the movie. Right?

Wrong-o. I've never played the game aside from a 30-minute tour, and now I wish I hadn't seen the movie, either.

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The English Patient Review


Excellent
Just so you know, "patient" refers to a man with a medical condition, not the ability to sit through a film that flirts with a three hour running time.

You think I'm kidding, but I'm serious -- The English Patient has got to be the longest romance movie I've ever seen [This was before Titanic. -Ed.]. Well, Out of Africa was awfully long, too, but that doesn't make it okay! (Like your mother might say, "If Meryl Streep jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?")

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Heart of America Review


Grim
You say Heart of America. I think Disney, helicopter shops of forest rangers, Imax, maybe 3-D, maybe some fireworks.

You say a thinly-veiled fictionalization of the Columbine massacre. I say directed by Uwe Boll (He'll make four movies based on video games from 2003 to 2006.)

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The Replacement Killers Review


OK
Antoine Fuqua tries to blend Hong Kong action fare with gritty urban sensibilities in The Replacement Killers, to mixed effect. Surprisingly, Mira Sorvino holds her own as an unlikely action star, and the shots of her ass don't hurt matters.

Tease Review


Grim
Remember Alicia Silverstone's breakthrough in The Crush? Well Mandy Schaffer is probably ten times hotter than Alicia, but her movie is unfortunately ten times worse. Any film that has Rosanna Arquette accepting an Academy Award in flashback just forces us to suspend disbelief a little too much. In the end, little Traci's flirtatious ways seem like they could have been reined in if only mom had sprung for a couple of bras to cinch in the kid's heaving chest and a leash to keep her from hitting on (and, ya know, murdering) every guy in town.

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House of the Dead Review


Unbearable
I've seen a lot of bad movies in my short career as a movie critic, but the video-game-inspired House of the Dead poses a new challenge. I feel a typical review would do little or no good. You've seen the commercials with a bunch of young people firing endless rounds into zombies. Well, that's the movie, minus DMX's rapping. Sure, there are a couple of bare breasts here and there, but what you see in those 90-second spots is what's waiting for you at the multiplex.

There's nothing of substance to discuss. All I have is a lot of hatred welling inside of me. So, I figured a timeline would work, that way I can see what went wrong. I didn't have a watch on me at the screening, but I figured since time passed so slowly, my estimates are pretty accurate

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See Arnold Run Review


OK
Originally made for A&E television, this is a visualization of the early career and later political leanings of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was at the center of California's unprecedented and unbearably tacky 2003 Governer recall election.

Say what you will about the movie itself: The casting is either inspired or excruciating or both. Jürgen Prochnow as the older Schwarzenegger. Mariel Hemingway as Maria Shriver, and Nora Dunn as Ariana Huffington. Wow. Prochnow alone is terrifying: He doesn't really look much like Arnold (and he's about 120 pounds light), but they've done his hair up to make him look like a bizarro approximation of him. Hemingway and Dunn are equally disturbing: Hemingway lowers her voice an octave to play Shriver. Dunn sounds like she's been listening to Huffington on the radio for an hour, and this is her best approximation. I was disappointed that the producers didn't pull out a little guy to play Gary Coleman (who also ran for Governor) or get porn star Mary Carey to play herself.

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Dark Asylum Review


Unbearable
Stop me if you've heard this one before: A mental patient (Larry Drake) terrorizes a comely doctor (Paulina Porizkova) in a mental asylum... and no one can get out!

The only thing clever about Dark Asylum is its casting of Judd Nelson as a fellow inmate who ends up helping Porizkova's doctor to escape "The Trasher," an obese and nearly mute psychopath who lives up to his moniker by destroying everything he touches... including his victims.

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