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Annapolis Review


Grim
We've all seen the title card "Inspired by true events." Justin Lin needs the slightly altered "Inspired by other movies" disclaimer attached to his studio-guided Annapolis, a disappointing and formulaic follow-up to the filmmaker's kinetic pet project Better Luck Tomorrow.

The day before he's set to enter the Annapolis-based U.S. Naval Academy, Jake Huard (James Franco) paints the town one last time with his crew. On his buddy's urging, he flirts with watering-hole floozie Ali (Jordana Brewster) but gets distracted when a bar fight breaks out. The next morning, during warm-up drills, Huard is shocked to discover this petite, exotic beauty is one of his Naval instructors.

Continue reading: Annapolis Review

Freedom Song Review


Weak
Long and annoying have been the boasts of TNT of its status as "the best movie studio on television." With that celebrity narrator whose voice you know by heart and whose name always escapes you, TNT's advertisements for its latest western directed by Bill Pullman, or, in this case, Gandhi-rip off starring Danny Glover pop up right in the middle of the TV edit for an old movie that you could probably go without seeing and normally cause people like me to switch to the upper-channel echelon of HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and The Movie Channel... where I don't have to bother about hearing from some moron boasting that their station produces really good "made-for-TV" movies as if this was something to be proud about.

Having finally caved in and sampled TNT, having sampled HBO on a fairly regular basis, I can now say without a doubt that not only is TNT not the best movie studio on television... it is by far one of the worst. With large payments towards directors who do not demonstrate fair ability, TNT seems to reward the kind of schlock-TV that has made "TV-movie" into a status symbol in the film industry.

Continue reading: Freedom Song Review

The Hurricane Review


Good
If anyone even dares to hum the lyrics of the Bob Dylan song, I'm going to have to kill them. All right. So this is an empty threat. I have zero way of knowing whether or not you are humming the Bob Dylan song just to spite me, but please don't do it anyway. After seeing The Hurricane, I have Bob Dylan stuck in my head.

In fact, Bob Dylan and Denzel Washington are about the only things stuck in my head after that movie... that and enormous sense of racial injustice and a newfound respect for the residents of Toronto.

Continue reading: The Hurricane Review

The Hurricane Review


OK

It doesn't matter who else is nominated for 1999's Best Actor Oscar, the race will come down to Kevin Spacey's mid-life crisis and suburban ennui in "American Beauty" and the intensely defiant, deeply immersed performance Denzel Washington gives as a wrongly-imprisoned former boxer in "The Hurricane."

Washington burns with the festering, subterranean anger of miscarried justice in a role perfectly suited to his brand of charismatic integrity -- with a dollop of sullied toughness thrown into the mix.

He gives predictably profound, barnstorming monologues, he plays out an edge-of-sanity, internal dialogue with himself while "in the hole" for insubordination, he vehemently declares his innocence again and again -- but every word of it feels like god's truth, because Denzel Washington is that good.

Continue reading: The Hurricane Review

Hart's War Review


OK

One might think that after 60 years of World War II pictures, big budget Hollywood's supply of fresh ideas for such ventures would be fully exhausted. But the court-martial-within-a-POW-escape drama "Hart's War" breathes surprising new life into the familiar by amalgamating genres and adding true human complexity to its not-so-stock characters.

Adapted from a novel by John Katzenbach, the film's recipe combines the prisoners' internal mistrust from "Stalag 17" with the wrongly-accused military trial from "A Few Good Men," leavened with a racial element and accentuated by a tunneling-to-freedom subplot from "The Great Escape" for good measure. Director Gregory Hoblit ("Frequency," "Primal Fear") proves himself a good cook, seamlessly blending these ingredients into a fresh and appetizing dramatic stew.

Talented but over-hyped Colin Farrell ("Tigerland," "American Outlaws") stars as Lt. Thomas Hart, a senator's son with no combat experience and a safe desk job in intelligence near the German lines in 1944. Captured in a roadblock ambush while escorting a commander back to the front, he's interrogated by the SS in a series of scenes that let the our imaginations get the worst of us.

Continue reading: Hart's War Review

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