Susan Egan

Susan Egan

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Hercules Review


OK
Tepid Disney animated entry is redeemed by self-referential jokes about merchandising, and James Woods' neat Hades. Probably the beginning of the Disney-mocking-Disney genre of animated films... something which has saved the studio in recent years.

Porco Rosso Review


Excellent
Even Hayao Miyazaki's biggest fans are unlikely to have seen Porco Rosso, one of his most delightful -- and socially important -- works.

Title character Porco Rosso is, well, a man with the head of a pig, the result of a curse placed on him in some unknown earlier era. In 1930s Italy, he works as a bounty hunter, living on a quiet island beach in a little tent. When the phone rings, he jumps in his red prop plane and heads off to save whoever's calling from pirates, keeping his cool (as voiced by Michael Keaton in the U.S. dub) all the while.

Continue reading: Porco Rosso Review

Hercules Review


OK
Tepid Disney animated entry is redeemed by self-referential jokes about merchandising, and James Woods' neat Hades. Probably the beginning of the Disney-mocking-Disney genre of animated films... something which has saved the studio in recent years.

Continue reading: Hercules Review

Spirited Away Review


Excellent
Bizarre events unfold with an easy inevitability in the world of Spirited Away, director Hayao Miyazaki's latest anime opus. Miyazaki's heroine Chihiro is a modern-day Alice, trying to make sense of a fantastic and threatening looking glass world. But Spirited Away shares the soul of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, if the chocolate factory was replaced by a giant spa for stressed out ghosts. Like Charlie in Wonka's factory, Chihiro spends two hours navigating a byzantine bathhouse, transcending danger and chaos with innocent courage and naïve common sense. Spirited Away's imagination, visual brilliance, and humanity make this trip one of the most satisfying film experiences of the year.

Spirited Away begins with the young Chihiro reluctantly accompanying her family as they explore a deserted amusement park. The girl's parents are seduced by a feast set up in one of the park's food stands and eventually turn into pigs. At sunset Chihiro is transported into an alternate phantom universe filled with lumbering radish men, the shrill and controlling witch Yubaba (voiced by Suzanne Pleshette in her finest performance since Oh God, Book II), and a trio of bouncing, disembodied heads. Looking for a way to free her parents and find a way home keeps Chihiro exploring this world long enough to uncover enough strange and amazing creatures to keep us glued to the screen for the duration.

Continue reading: Spirited Away Review

Man Of The Century Review


OK
Cute movie. Johnny Twennies (Gibson Frazier) lives in the '90s but behaves like it's his last name -- talking about moxie, flappers, and dames. And no one else is in on the joke. His encounters with modern-day women and situations are priceless but it's of course a one-note movie -- and why no one calls Johnny on his peccadilloes is never explained. Like I said, cute but hardly a comic masterpiece.

Man Of The Century Review


OK

Everything's jake to Johnny Twenties. Johnny is a newspaper man, see. He's got moxie and nobody's gonna play him for a sucker -- even if he is blissfully unaware of the world he lives in.

You see, Johnny Twenties is about 70 years behind the times. He's a fast-talkin', wise-crackin' upright joe straight out of a Howard Hawks comedy -- but he's resides in Manhattan, circa 1999.

The fedora-sporting hero of the neo-B-grade, screwball comedy "Man of the Century," Johnny is the invention of screenwriters Adam Abraham (who directed the film) and Gibson Frazier (who plays Johnny), who have created an ingenious homage to the kind of flicks that came and went in a week the 1920s and 1930s -- the kind of dime-a-dozen comedies that delighted the masses during the Depression, but will probably never be seen on American Movie Classics now.

Continue reading: Man Of The Century Review

Spirited Away Review


Weak

Maybe I just don't "get" anime. I've been trying for years, and several movies from this often-mythological genre of Japanese animation have bowled me over: "The Ghost in the Shell," "Akira" and this year's "Metropolis," for starters. The enchanting, fantastic "Kiki's Delivery Service," by Hayao Miyazaki, the Steven Spielberg of anime, is a particular favorite of mine.

But while all my fellow film critics seem to think Miyazaki's new film, "Spirited Away," is one of his very best, the fable-istic story of a little girl trapped in a parallel world of spirits left me unaffected and completely indifferent.

The picture begins with 10-year-old Chihiro (given the voice of Daveigh Chase -- Lilo in Disney's "Lilo and Stitch" -- for the film's American release) reluctantly following her curious, irresponsibly clueless parents into a hidden, abandoned building while looking for a back road to the new house they're just about to move in to.

Continue reading: Spirited Away Review

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