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Slap Shot Review


OK
What's all the fuss about? Canadians, hockey enthusiasts, and especially Canadian hockey enthusiasts absolutely love this movie, but it's hardly the comic masterpiece it's made out to be. Sure, there's plenty of ranuchy one-liners, filthy language (almost shocking coming out of Paul Newman's mouth), and male moonings, but the most amusing tidbit is that is was actually written by a woman. Go figure.

Lemon Sky Review


Excellent
You can't choose your family. And even if you could, chances are all the good ones would already be taken. So, as young Alan (Kevin Bacon) learns in this film presentation of Lanford Wilson's play, you might as well try to squeak by until the dysfunction reaches critical mass.

Alan is a hopeful young man in a hopeless situation. After years estranged from his father Doug (Tom Atkins), he heads to San Diego for a long overdue reunion with the hope of starting anew. But as soon as he arrives, he sees that things are different in this late-1950s household. His new stepmother Ronnie (Lindsay Crouse), is warm and welcoming, but the house is already full and brimming with conflict.

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The Insider Review


Excellent
Listen up! A movie adapted from a magazine article about the making of a four-year old segment of a television program: Does this pitch have you hooked yet? No? Well, despite a potentially dry-as-dust premise, The Insider manages to rise above its inherent limitations and provides a compelling look inside the politics of 60 Minutes and the tobacco industry.

They say you should never see two things being made: Sausage and legislation. Add journalism to that list. I've been in this racket long enough to know that objectivity is painfully lacking in the places you expect to find it the most. Backroom deals make strange bedfellows of interest-conflicted parties (e.g. Time-Warner owns Entertainment Weekly magazine, which reviews Warner Bros. films, etc.) So when 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Pacino) decided to do a story about the hazards of cigarettes in 1996, he found himself embroiled in controversy.

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The Arrival Review


OK
Worse alien-invader films have been made, but none of them have starred Charlie Sheen! What's a poor astronomer to do when he learns of a plot of Body Snatcher-types threatening to take over the world? Well, he's going to make damn sure there's room for a sequel, that's what. Surprisingly average.

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Prefontaine Review


OK
Slightly less-realized than late-to-the-race competitor Without Limits, Prefontaine is still a reasonably good retelling of the life story of Steve Prefontaine, the opinionated and brash distance runner who choked during the Munich Olympics and died in an untimely car crash before he could redeem himself in Montreal in 1976. Prefontaine focuses more on tertiary characters than Limits, some of which are interesting and some of which are not, but really gets annoying for its mock-documentary style. Namely, the actors are "aged" and interviewed in the present day, talking about Pre, complete with subtitles identifying who they are. The problem, of course, is that it's all fake -- and the last thing you want to feel when watching a biography is that you're being lied to.

House of Games Review


Essential
"A sucker born every minute, huh?" "And two to take him!" So goes one of the greatest exchanges between con-man (Mantegna) and conned-woman (Crouse) in David Mamet's directorial debut, ten years ago. It might be you that plays the sucker, though (and I mean that in a good way), after indulging in Mamet's triple-crossed tale of "dinosaur con-men" having their proverbial way with a hapless (and wealthy) psychotherapist. Mamet's signature staccato dialogue is nailed to perfection, especially by Mantegna, in the performance that put him on the map. No aspect of the film has avoided a clever touch, from the upbeat-yet-creepy piano music, to the wickedly low lighting, to the irony of Mamet casting his own wife in the role of a woman obsessed with the confidence game. House of Games makes a powerful impact, but, inexplicably, it was completely ignored in theatrical release. Its twists and turns may leave you a little shaken up by the delicious ending, but you'll inevitably take to heart one of Mantegna's principles of conduct: "Don't trust nobody."

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Cherish Review


Grim

Don't tell the other movie critics I said this, but once in a very great while I see an independent film I wish could have been a big budget Hollywood studio picture. Sometimes a good idea, a lot of enthusiasm and a shoestring budget just aren't enough.

Take "Cherish," for example. This creative but contrived and gimmick-driven comedy-thriller is about a geeky, socially inept young beauty (Robin Tunney), who is falsely accused of a hit-and-run and incarcerated in her own sparse and funky loft while awaiting trial, monitored by one of those electronic ankle bracelet programs.

Going stir-crazy because she's the kind of girl who can't stand to be alone (of men she says "I don't think I'd go out with so many if any one would call me back"), Tunney spends the movie trying to outwit the system that will set off an alarm at police headquarters if she wanders out of the bracelet's range.

Continue reading: Cherish Review

Lindsay Crouse

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