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Jericho: Season One Review


Excellent
Jericho certainly didn't go wanting for ambition. Episode one drops nuclear bombs on U.S. soil, stranding the members of the Kansas town of Jericho in darkness and confusion, fearing for nuclear winter and oblivious to what's just happened. Over the next 21 episodes -- some of which are exceptionally taut -- we'll find out, for the most part.

The early episodes pan out exactly like you'd expect: What would happen if a bomb obliterated a nearby town, cutting off communications and sending a radioactive raincloud your way? Residents dust out the bomb shelters, prepare for the worst, and deal with human nature: Looting, man vs. man, and the question of whether those who are away will ever return.

Continue reading: Jericho: Season One Review

Why Do Fools Fall In Love? Review


Weak
Or, a better question: Why would anyone think a movie about a battle over music royalties by three vengeful women, starring Little Richard as himself, would be any good?

Proof Of Life Review


Extraordinary
Good films are hard to find these days. Great films are beyond rare. Proof of Life, Russell Crowe's one-two punch of a deft kidnap and rescue thriller, is one of those rare gems. A taut drama laced with strong and subtle acting, an intelligent script, and masterful directing, together it delivers something virtually unheard of in the film industry these days, genuine motivation in a story that rings true.

Consider the strange coincidence of Russell Crowe's character in Proof of Life making the moves on a distraught wife played by Meg Ryan's character in the film -- all while the real Russell Crowe was hitching up with married woman Meg Ryan in the outside world. I haven't seen this much chemistry between actors since McQueen and MacGraw teamed up in Peckinpah's masterpiece, The Getaway.

Continue reading: Proof Of Life Review

Tanner '88 Review


Good
Originally made as a series for broadcast on HBO during the 1988 presidential primary season, Robert Altman's Tanner '88 charts the unsuccessful presidential bid of a fictional Michigan congressman named Jack Tanner (played by Altman stalwart Michael Murphy), beginning with the New Hampshire primary and continuing through the Democratic National Convention. The series was written by Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau on an episode-by-episode basis in order to stay abreast of actual developments in the '88 campaign; it ran for 11 episodes then and is currently slated for a mini-update of four new episodes. And just in time for the upcoming elections, the Criterion Collection has made the entire series available on DVD.

Politics have changed in the past 16 years - they had to have, right? - but the first thing that strikes you upon revisiting Tanner '88 today is how familiar this whole circus seems. Squint your eyes, change the names - throw in, say, a Dick Cheney and remove a Bob Dole or two - and the experience of watching Tanner '88 seems eerily close to watching current campaign coverage on CNN. In a clever, recently filmed introduction to the first episode (one of these new intros appears before each of the 11), Tanner remarks in a modern "interview" that the business of campaigning changed after that year. After '88, he says, "the curtain on [candidates'] private lives got pulled back... In '88 Johnny Carson might have done a couple of slightly risque jokes about Hart. But ten years later Jay Leno is doing six blowjob jokes a night on Clinton." Except that the candidate is make-believe, everything about this sentiment sounds authentic. Political campaigns did indeed move closer to show business; the only question is when?

Continue reading: Tanner '88 Review

The Right Stuff Review


Extraordinary
Fortuitous time for The Right Stuff to hit DVD, when the American space program is nearing rock bottom in the court of public opinion.

Based on Tom Wolfe's novel (though heavily inspired by the truth), The Right Stuff follows the formative years of the space race, from 1947 to 1963, when it was us vs. the Russians. The film begins as we first punch through Mach 1 in experimental aircraft and ends with seventh and final Mercury astronaut blasting off.

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Junior Review


Weak
I've seen better movies, but I've certainly seen worse. If the idea of Arnold Schwarzengger gone preggers sounds like fun to you, well, you'll love Junior. Teamed up with Danny DeVito, his diminutive Twins costar, this baby isn't the product of some sick coupling between the Austrian and the shrimp -- rather, it's a freak scientific experiment, with Thompson's stolen egg implanted in Arnie's belly. Umbilical cord, you ask? Quiet, or Arnie will punch you in the face!!!

Standing On Fishes Review


OK
OK, this is odd. What business do two unknown actors have making a highfalutin vanity project? From the writing/directing/acting team of Meredith Scott Lynn (you'd recognize her as a frequent supporting actress if you saw her) and Bradford Tatum (you wouldn't) comes this oddball comedy about relationships and prosthetic vaginas.

Seriously.

Continue reading: Standing On Fishes Review

Proof Of Life Review


OK

Put out of your head the truly awful trailers and the even worse TV commercials that make "Proof of Life" look like some kind of action-amour hybrid. Forget all the rumors about an ill-advised romantic subplot in the movie (there isn't one) and on the set (no comment!). Thanks to the solid work of journeyman director Taylor Hackford, "Proof" is a bona fide Third World thriller that deserves to be seen without all the prejudicial baggage and BS that has swirled around the movie for the last few months.

Fresh from becoming a bankable star thanks to "Gladiator," Russell Crowe stars as a desensitized yet sympathetic kidnap-and-rescue specialist ("KNR" in the trade jargon) dispatched to an unnamed Central American country to negotiate for the return of an American hydroelectric engineer (David Morse). The man has been abducted by drug-running rebels looking to score a big ransom from his oil conglomerate employer.

Meg Ryan plays Morse's distraught wife who grows to trust this brusque KNR man just as the oil company tries to weasel out of its responsibility, dismissing Crowe's high-rent expert and bringing in a crooked, inexperienced local yokel instead.

Continue reading: Proof Of Life Review

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