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Are We Done Yet? Review


Grim
In normal movie world, Are We Done Yet? would have been the first movie in this series. First, newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Nia Long) would redo their new home, then Nick would take the bratty kids on a road trip.

Often vilified as one of the worst films ever made, Are We Done Yet? is far better than its pedigree would suggest. Mining the home improvement milieu has been done before, and if you've seen The Money Pit you know exactly what's going to happen here. Nick and co. will move into what looks like a dream house, but it will fall apart before their very eyes. A group of incompetant repairmen and contractors will attempt to save it. Nick will have a lot of drywall fall on his head. And the stress will cause much marital strife. The "original" spin here vs. The Money Pit: Suzanne is pregnant.

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Frankenstein Unbound Review


Grim
John Hurt, Bridget Fonda, Raul Julia... Roger Corman??? This bizarre mashup of Frankenstein and Back to the Future is alternately interesting (with good production values, at least for some of the time) and completely bizarre. Hurt plays a futuristic scientist (dig his clothes... dig the kids' clothes!) who opens a portal in time and ends up in Victorian England, along with a real-life Dr. Frankenstein. The usual mayhem breaks loose as Frank marauds the countryside, before being zapped into an alternate reality. How's that? Don't ask. It involves lasers.

Bull Durham Review


Excellent
The first thing you notice in watching Bull Durham 14 years later (now that it has reappeared on a Special Edition DVD) is how incredibly young the players are. Costner's hairline is way up front, Sarandon is a little less wrinkled, and little Tim Robbins looks like he could be in high school.

The story, however, still feels ahead of its time, with Sarandon's femme fatale narrating a tale of how she adopts one player at her local Durham Bulls minor league baseball franchise every year -- providing him with countless years of expertise about the game and essentially screwing him silly along the way. This season, it's "Nuke" LaLoosh (Robbins), a wild pitcher who could use same taming. Also on the case is catcher "Crash" Davis (Costner), whose life lessons also help him out on the field.

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Frantic Review


Excellent
It's a common nightmare. A simple mistake -- a mixed-up bag at the airport -- lands you in a world of shit far away from familiar surroundings. In this case, Harrison Ford plays an American in Paris whose wife goes missing while he's in the shower at their hotel. Soon he's mixed up in a drug ring and a smuggling gig, with a sexy vixen (Emmanuelle Seigner, wife of director Roman Polanski) along for the ride. Polanski paces the film very deliberately, with Ford in almost every scene, proving he's an exceptional actor. It's surprisingly taut, quite realistic, and worth watching. It isn't Polanski's greatest work, but it's a great success.

Death And The Maiden Review


Extraordinary
Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley are together in Roman Polanski's new film, Death and the Maiden, a haunting and powerful work of genius. Based on the acclaimed stage play, the story goes that Weaver is the wife of rich South American lawyer/politician Gerardo Escobar (played by Stuart Wilson), and they live alone in the wilderness of this unnamed country. One day, Dr. Miranda (Kingsley) shows up at the house after helping Escobar with a flat tire, and he comes in for a drink.

Paulina (Weaver) begins to inexplicably break down after his arrival, going so far as to sneak out of the house and destroy Miranda's car. Only when she returns do we discover the shocking reason for this insanity. Paulina suspects Miranda was the doctor who tortured and raped her 15 years earlier: the doctor, she says, who played the Schubert composition "Death and the Maiden" while he applied his evil ministrations. Paulina then turns the tables, tying Miranda up, beating him, and holding an impromptu trial to get his confession to the deeds.

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Night Falls on Manhattan Review


OK
With Night Falls on Manhattan, Sidney Lumet has created one of the most dedicated issue movies in a long time. As a high-profile, yet righteous, defense attorney (a first in modern film), Richard Dreyfuss's character admits that he took an unwinnable case because he wanted to expose corruption in the NYPD. Lumet seems to have created an unwinnable film for similar reasons.

Lumet has taken a very bare-bones approach with the plot of Night Falls on Manhattan. One minute Andy Garcia's Sean Casey is an assistant DA trainee, the next minute he is the District Attorney of New York. Likewise, the first twenty minutes of the film set up a courtroom drama which Lumet flies through in a series of quick scenes. Unconventional editing techniques, including periodic jump cuts and abrupt truncations of scenes that barely seem to have begun, help push the narrative forward, all of which serves to confuse the audience as to the film's true focus.

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