What could easily have been a sentimental slog is given a spark of intelligent wit by writer-director Helgeland (A Knight's Tale). This is the story of an iconic figure from American sport who had a massive impact on society at large, and Helgeland focusses on the elements we can most readily identify with while quietly stressing how important and, yes, inspirational this story is.
In 1945 post-War America, most states still have segregation laws on the books, and black baseball players are sidelined in their own league. But Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Ford) wants to break this barrier, and drafts Jackie Robinson (Boseman), making him the first black player in the Major League. Jackie is a determined, principled young man who struggles to hold his tongue in the face of blatant bigotry. But he gets help from Branch and team manager Leo (Meloni), and support from his equally feisty wife Rachel (Beharie). There's also a young black journalist (Holland) who works with him to further both their causes. But it takes Jackie a little longer to win over his teammates.
The film portrays endemic racism as the hideously ugly thing it is: socially accepted cruelty and prejudice. In truth, it was probably a lot worse than shown here, but we certainly don't miss the point. Especially since this kind of abusive language is never heard in today's politically correct climate. And Helgeland also creates complex characters who can't be tagged as heroes or villains, played with cheeky energy by a very strong cast. Boseman oozes charisma in the central role, undercutting what could be a too-saintly characterisation with sensitivity and steeliness. And Ford shines in a rare character role as a cantankerous old guy who simply won't take no for an answer.
Continue reading: 42 Review
42 is the true to life story of Jackie Robinson and his rise to the top as one of America's best and most respected Baseball players and the manager of Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, who decided to end racial segregation by enlisting Robinson onto his team.
In 1947, Branch Rickey controversially made a name for himself when he signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. At the time, this kind of behaviour was unheard of, and both Robinson and Rickey were sure to cause problems for themselves - both on and off the pitch. Racism was rife between player on every team including the Dodgers and Robinson's transition was one of the most courageous of its time.
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With Final Destination 3, first impressions are good impressions.
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The eighth installment of the horror series (and the ending practically announces that yet another is coming), has masked serial killer Michael Myers wreaking more havoc. After disposing of his sister (Jamie Lee Curtis in a pointless, sad cameo) he returns to his childhood home, where six college students are hunting for clues as part of a live Halloween webcast. However, no one knows that Michael still lives there. I guess no one bothered to do a background check.
Continue reading: Halloween: Resurrection Review
The title is evidently the former, though the movie is hardly the overwrought mess that I'd expected to see (for example: Message in a Bottle). Instead, The Deep End of the Ocean is a surprisingly thoughtful and laconic character study, full of nuance and genuine emotion, largely driven by Pfeiffer's unraveling character Beth. The well-known plot involves the sudden disappearance of Beth's 2 year-old son Ben, who vanishes while she is visiting Chicago. Nine agonizing years later, a kid who can only be Ben shows up -- as Sam, a neighbor's boy who wants to mow the lawn. Sure enough, it's him, but he doesn't remember his family,
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Just Looking is the story of Leny (played perfectly by Ryan Merriman) who is a boy like any other 14 year old, curious about sex. So much so that his goal for the summer of 1955 is to see two people "engaged in the act of love" as he puts it. But his innocent curiosity ends up getting him caught and his mother (Patti LuPone) and stepfather decide to ship him off to "the country" (also known as the Bronx) where he meets a new set of friends who just happen to share a similar interest.
Continue reading: Just Looking (1999) Review
Abandoning the gimmicky defining premise of itspredecessor, about the ghost of an evil littlegirl exacting blood-curdling vengeance on anyone who watched a hauntedvideo tape, "The Ring Two" seems also to have jettisoned allnotions of pacing, creative chills and common sense.
Catching up with newspaper reporter NaomiWatts (whose talents are wasted on B-movie screams)and her hollow-eyed son (David Dorfman) after they've survived the firstfilm by slipping through a gaping hole in its own internal logic, "TheRing Two" gives its poltergeist arbitrary new powers to track thesetwo down to a small West Coast town and possess the boy's body.
Little else happens in the course of the story, exceptthat Watts' suspicious attempts at exorcism draw the attention of the localChild Protective Services. The kid ends up in the hospital (from whichhe easily escapes and no search is ever mounted) while Watts tracks downthe ghostly girl's asylum-confined birth mother (Sissy Spacek) for somelong-winded exposition laying out the new rules of the plot.
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Here's another cliché-riddled caper about a Jewish kid coming of age in 1950s New York. This boy's name is Lenny. He's 14 and his singular mission for the summer before 9th grade is to watch two grown-ups do it.
He had a scheme to watch his mom (Patti LuPone) with her new husband, the sweaty neighborhood butcher (Richard V. Licata). But when Lenny is packed off for three months in Queens with his aunt and uncle (Ilana Levine and Peter Onorati), he makes a discovery beyond his wildest dreams: The next door neighbor is a breathtakingly beautiful nurse named Hedy (the breathtakingly beautiful Gretchen Mol) and a former bra model with an active sex life. And her bedroom window faces an empty lot of overgrown grass -- perfect to hide in with binoculars.
Directed by Jason Alexander (you know, George on "Seinfeld"), seemingly from some kind of do-it-yourself kit, the very first shot in the movie is a camera sweep of a Bronx street packed with every stereotypical Eisenhower era image the director could muster. The walls of Lenny's room are covered with baseball team pennants and pictures, all hanging at angles mathematically calculated to inspire the maximum of nostalgia. The picture's production design is like a Norman Rockwell painting run amok.
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I had a problem with "The Deep End of the Ocean" right off thebat because Michelle Pfeiffer loses her kid (that's the plot) at one ofthose 15th class reunions that take place only in the movies.
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Trying to breath a little "Blair Witch"/reality TV life into a horror franchise that has been on creative life-support for over 20 years, "Halloween: Resurrection" features masked psycho Michael Meyers going Ginsu on a bunch of teenagers (no, really?) who spend the night in his dilapidated childhood home as part of a live internet broadcast called "Dangertainment."
The college kids vying for tuition money wear headsets with little cameras in them so we can see their point of view as they get hacked to death, and one of the program's producers (played by over-acting, incessantly yapping hip-hop star Busta Rhymes) dresses up as Michael Meyers to give the kids a scare, not knowing the real dude is in da house. But while this camera gimmick is put to good use once the bodies start piling up, the movie fails in several other ways -- not the least of which is that it's never even a little bit scary.
The picture opens with a prologue that includes perpetual franchise victim Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, making her final appearance in the series) locked in a sanitarium so explanations can be offered for how Mike is back after she beheaded him at the end of 1998's "Halloween: H20." (What isn't explained is the absence of Laurie's son, played by the now too-hot-for-horror Josh Hartnett in "H20.")
Continue reading: Halloween: Resurrection Review