As actors go, Charlie Chaplin is at least a worthy candidate for a biopic. His impact on the acting profession and especially physical comedy is hard to overstate, and the man remains an icon whose face (or silhouette) embodies cinema. In the hands of Richard Attenborough, Chaplin's life is digested into the highlights -- from vaudevillian youth to his arrival in Hollywood to his amazingly fast rise to fame. Attenborough even dabbles in Chaplin's investigation by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. Naturally, the running series of Chaplin's famous romantic entanglements are carefully tallied, the actresses playing the various Mrs. Chaplins (and near misses) making up a who's who of early-'90s starlets.
Continue reading: Chaplin Review
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.
Continue reading: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Review
Joshua, a long-time Little Odessa expatriate, is called back to the neighborhood to perform a hit on a big shot resident. When he arrives, he encounters his worshipful brother Reuben (Edward Furlong), former lover Alla (Moira Kelly), hateful father Arkady (Maximilian Schell), and dying mother Irina (Vanessa Redgrave). Together, the cast creates a highly dysfunctional family the likes of which you've probably never seen before.
Continue reading: Little Odessa Review
After botching his suicide, the titular Henry Hill (Jamie Harrold, seen as a bit player in movies from Erin Brockovich to The Sum of All Fears) leaves New York City to live with his folks at their trashy, rural diner/gas station. Why so glum? His stage fright is so bad he just isn't going to make it as a professional concert violinist.
Continue reading: Henry Hill Review
One of Disney's greatest achievements, this is to my knowledge the only animated film to be turned into a Broadway musical. (Beauty and the Beast doesn't count, since that film had prior life outside the Disneyverse.)
The Lion King is primarily memorable because it's not based on a fairy tale or a children's story, and thus avoids the cliches that saddle so many Disney flicks. There's no "love conquers all" message, no moral about how trying hard will make everything come out OK. In fact, for much of its running time, The Lion King says the exact opposite: Hakuna Matata means "no worries," right? It's in the past, so let it go. But The Lion King also tells us that we can learn from the past, that tyrants should be overthrown, and that we should own up to our mistakes in the end.
This also makes The Lion King one of Disney's most adult movies. Though it's rated G, it features numerous scenes of peril and death -- with lion cub Simba orphaned after his uncle kills off his dad to usurp the throne and title of king of the jungle. But that too is part of the famed Circle of Life. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Simba runs off to live in the jungle -- gettin' real, ya know -- stricken with guilt that he (thinks he) killed his father. Eventually he returns home to showdown with evil uncle Scar, who has been ruling the jungle with an iron fist, disrupting the Circle of Life.
The Lion King is one of Disney's last great 2-D creations, with computers aiding in some truly stellar moments such as the wildebeest stampede. Lots of perspective shots and moving cameras make this one of the genre's most film-like movies.
If there's anything annoying about the film, it's the singing, young Simba sounds like a young Michael Jackson. On the new song added to the just-out DVD release of the movie, the atrociously vapid "Morning Report," he sounds like a castrato Michael Jackson. You almost don't want him to succeed, but thankfully, Simba eventually grows up and is replaced, voice-wise, by Matthew Broderick. By way of other extras, there's a whole second disc of goodies, including an extensive selection of making-of footage, a deleted scene or two, an alternate first verse of "Hakuna Matata," a special home theater audio mix (sounds good), and about a bazillion kid-friendly features like games and singalongs.
The Lion King has rightfully spawned one of the most enduring industrial complexes ever to come from an animated cat. Way to go, Disney.
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Ah, the majesty.
Despite an awful title that's perfectly suited for a hospital or construction site safety guide, the objects in question are not dirty syringes or rusty nails; rather, The Safety of Objects is brimming with narrative strands about people coping with life's most difficult and daunting elements (the loss of a loved one, sexual frustration, professional ennui) by focusing their quests for happiness on either their unsatisfying careers or mundane possessions such as dishwashers, guitars, and treadmills. Esther Gold (Glenn Close) fanatically dotes on her comatose songwriter son Paul (Joshua Jackson) in lieu of caring for her husband Howard (Robert Klein) and rebellious daughter Julie (Jessica Campbell). Neighbor Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson) is a single mother trying to take care of her two kids while waging a financial and personal battle with her ex-husband. Lawyer Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney) can't see the forest from the trees because of his fixation with work, and his constant absence from his wife and kids has made him unaware of son Jake's (Alex House) creepy relationship with a Barbie-esque doll that speaks to him. And in a prime example of dysfunctional overload, we even get sexually frustrated, fanatically health conscious housewife Helen Christiansen (Mary Kay Place), as well as neighborhood gardener Randy (Timothy Olyphant), who's dealing with the death of his adolescent brother.
Continue reading: The Safety Of Objects Review
Every song you ever needed to hear by the legendary Chuck Berry.
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