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Brilliant Expose' on Desperation
I am surprised that so few people understand and/or relate with this movie. It's one of the most intelligently-written and psychologically- potent movies I have seen. The cool and controlled style portrayed by Kevin Spacey was brilliant, and played perfect counterpoint to Sean Penn's drug-and-trauma-induced paranoia and denial.
Penn's character, Eddie, superbly displayed all of the psychological defense mechanisms, and the constant, simmering tension bubbling under the surface of Eddie and Palminteri's character, Phil, provided an added dynamic of intensity.
Some of the dialogue between Penn and Spacey are among the best examples of rationality vs mental and emotional chaos ever filmed.
Although I think Palminteri's character should have left the movie about 30 minutes sooner than it did, It did consistently underline the threat of violence always present when amoral lives spin out of control, especially when drugs are involved.
This is not your average film of "hollywood insiders". This is a very well-written, -acted and -directed psychological tour-de-force, with possibly Kevin Spacey's best lines of his career, as well as Sean Penn's best acting job.
The Dream Chasers (1984)
Where Old and Young are Equal
The Dream Chasers is a very good movie with a novel "road trip" idea: Put an old man facing his mortality and unsatisfying life with a boy with a terminal illness and an unrewarding life. The combination of the two is very much worth watching as one gains insight from both participants.
Harold Gould does a great job. His character goes from powerless to vital by the end of the movie. Young Justin Dana plays the part of an assertive, confident young man and he is really the motivating force behind the big road trip.
The movie is low-budget, but unpretentious. If you like movies with a kind heart. The Dream Chasers is definitely worth watching.
The Secret Life of Bees (2008)
The Secret Life of Unnecessary Violence
I don't know whether this is the fault of the screenplay writer or the novelist (I didn't read the book), but it makes me very disappointed to see stories such as this, with so much potential for inspiration and redemption, to succumb to gratuitous violence. Who feels a sense of fulfillment to see good people beaten and end up suicide victims because of the brutality of the world? Where does this come from? How is this entertainment?
I understand that some will say, "This is reality. Don't run away from it". To that, I would reply, "If I wanted reality, I would watch the evening news." Why would I want to magnify and focus on those sordid aspects of human nature to enhance my life? Is this a type of psychosis I am witnessing? Did the movie producer select this script in the hope of selling a great number of tickets to those who need something to feel angry about and to whom violence on innocent people is entirely acceptable?
I hope I never become so jaded that this kind of movie does not bother me. What a waste of a film that really could have been something.
This Movie Is a Joke
It's hard for me to not like a music-related movie, but this guy's songwriting and singing/playing ability was so lacking that it was hard to watch. I cringed every time he opened his mouth or took the guitar out of his git-bag.
There is no way that a woman who plays as well as she did would ever become interested in such talentless music. After the scene at the music instrument shop, when he stood there wide-eyed while she played, I was hoping that when she finished, he would beg her to make him a better musician.
Then, they walk into a record company with a cassette in a portable desktop unit and actually have the nerve to play it for the guy. Absolute rubbish.
There is no real chemistry between the two, no real romance or showings of affection. He did want to boink her, and I'll give him a half point for that, but he shot and missed.
The potential for so many good scenes were missed in this movie. As it is, the dialogue and screenplay are abysmal. I don't know who is a more talentless hack, the singer/guitarist or the producer of this movie.
Search and Destroy (1995)
Something Great That Gradually Loses Steam
I found the dialogue, acting, direction and screenplay creative and even ingenious. This is the best movie I've seen in a long time. The first half of the movie was the most creative and fresh, since Dennis Hopper's character was the main support role. The second half of the movie, when Christopher Walken's character is in full force, defines and even limits the movie into a more formulaic display.
Griffin Dunne does a great job in characterizing someone who has been fully deluded by a materialistic, simplistic self-help guru (Hopper). The opening scene in the I.R.S. office is precious, and had me laughing, as did Hopper's admonitions. Walken's character brought a heavy dose of sobriety to Dunne's efforts and schemes, and it is to Walken's credit how seamlessly he fused Dunne's fantasy world with the brutal reality of his role as drug kingpin.
Illeanna Douglas was excellent, as always, evoking many tones and moods with her facial expressiveness. The script was well-thought-out, maximizing the impact and credibility of all the characters.
The philosophical message of this movie is inherent, and although the ending is morose and disappointing, I suppose it needed to end in a similar fashion to get the point across.
During the second half of the movie, some momentum was lost as we see that Dunne's character experiences no change and we continue to see him as a very cardboard character. Douglas' character needed to inspire and evoke in him a desire to produce results on his own, and not rely so much on others.
The main scene the movie missed was a high-energy verbal spar between Hopper and Walken's characters: fantasy vs reality. This movie is well worth watching, especially if and when you think your life or work is tedious and you think that "reaching for the stars" can be quick and/or easy. You will end up appreciating your stable, honest mindset and lifestyle.
Impressive Sequel with Bizarre, Ridiculous Ending
I will still give it an 8, but the ending is one of the worst I've ever seen to a good movie. The writer obviously couldn't figure out a good, logical ending, so they thought they would try to be clever. The result is almost embarrassing.
The worst ending to a good movie that I have ever seen. It makes no sense at all and defies the logic of the rest of the movie.
I'm going to ignore the non-sensical ending and give the rest of City Slickers 2 the eight stars that it deserves.
That being said, I think John Lovitz is the star of this movie, because of the strong performance of Bruno Kirby in the original. Lovitz came into this one with some big shoes to fill, and did it in his own way, actually showing strong depth-of-emotion in his character. His was a character we really cared about.
I laughed out loud several times at scenes in this movie. It was an enjoyable adventure with strong casting, script, direction and screenplay. Certainly as strong as City Slickers.
What an opportunity was missed at the end, when an alternate ending could have solidified the relationship between Billy Crystal's and John Lotitz' characters. On the walk out of the desert, this movie could have had an emotionally-strong and meaningful ending, while still being funny in parts. Such a shame.
Not Well-conceived or Written
A smug bohemian poet, a decidedly-philosophical scientist and a soul-searching politician. These characters seem fabricated and unlikely, and none of their statements actually lead to any conclusions or revelations of any kind. Liv Ullman's character has wild enthusiasm for great social concepts but no discussion of a plan of implementation ever takes place.
Sam Waterson constantly reiterates the political process and seems far too nice to be a politician. John Heard plays a retired poet living in France who is not very friendly and a bit of a snob.
Nothing ever gets decided and no really good dialogue is ever present in the movie. Listening to Liv Ullman's character is torture, for her ideas are wonderful and need some serious treatment. I think any one of these actors could have written much better dialogue for themselves. As it is, it is anti-climactic.
I found almost nothing that worked well in this film. For one thing, someone who comes to this country illegally is not an "immigrant".., they are an illegal alien. They way the movie trivializes this crime is just the first indication that there is an elitist subtext to Spanglish.
When Flora comes to the Clasky's house, she needs an interpreter. This is ridiculous that no one in the household was able to communicate with her. When the wife starts yelling at her about the dog's ball, I felt an insanity regarding this movie. Why would someone yell at someone else who does not understand them?
Then, when the cook, himself, starts going off on Flora in the car (so generously driving her to the "bus station"), I felt so sorry for this nice person that I took the DVD out of my machine and threw it in the trash. Other problems I had with this movie was the fact that a cook does not earn enough to be considered "high-class". The daughter took me aback by her unusual approach to glamor. Yikes. What kind of statement was Spanglish trying to make? All I could make out of it was a dis-functional, middle-class family, disguising itself as rich and therefore feeling entitled to toy with and abuse the help, both at home and in the restaurant. A very poor movie.
Iron Man (2008)
Your Money will Not Protect You
This film is just more formulaic propaganda of the type that seeks to demonize cultures other than industrialized (especially Arab or Persian), and which tries to pound into our heads, over-and-over, that the rich (in this case, Stark) are our friends.
I can not ignore nor accept this attempt at political/psychological manipulation, and contend that it is the rich (like Stark) who we need to protect ourselves from. The insinuation that money, and what money can afford, will protect the rich from those who do not value riches leaves me with a great deal of suspicion, and it is not hard to determine the cultural genesis of those who inspire and support movies like this. Inexcusable and transparent.
Don't Try to Figure This Movie Out
Never before has a movie that I issued a score of 8 stars to, left me with such a queasy feeling in my stomach. I do understand that this is a drama/comedy and that it was written for entertainment value, but I can't help but feel somewhat offended and manipulated by the inference that everyone in Kazakh is like Borat: Foul-mouthed, without morals and both ignorant and disrespectful of other cultures. Borat, himself, is a horrible, bloated stereo-type, but a funny one at times. There are times in the movie when he actually offers to help us think outside of the box, when we realize that we are almost as enculturated and dogmatic as he is. I was disgusted by the scene in the hotel room, and afterward, when they were running through the lobby naked. The sight of that fat man without clothing horrified me for days afterward, and I am trying hard not to think about it. Forever. Somehow, there is some value in this movie, in accepting others, but I feel this character was written as someone unrealistically vile. Please, whatever you do, do not equate nor associate the character Borat with the multitude of normal and good people in Kazakh. Watching this movie was like reading a copy of Hustler and listening to a Frank Zappa album at the same time. I still don't fully understand what I liked about it.
Le violon rouge (1998)
The Reduced Violin
The Red Violin is a random series of events that are not connected in any way, shape or form. I understand the fact that European films often have no point and are usually just "slice of life", but this film is even worse. It tells us nothing of the construction of the violin and very little about what it was intended for.
A hole in the plot is that the violin was intended for the creator's "son", but we never learn whether his newborn is male of female. What happened to his dream of giving it to his "son"? How did it end up in a monastery? Why was the violin "red"?
The whole movie just doesn't add up, but I was willing to bear with it because of the marvelous solo violin playing supplied by Joshua Bell.
Then, came an impasse. The Chinese lady who tried to hide and save the instrument from the cultural revolution had her door kicked in by storm-troopers? I can not forgive the screen-writer this travesty. This kind of cruelty was unnecessary in this film and I ejected the movie and threw it in the trash because of this. Why do they think that seeing a pure heart betrayed is entertaining? I will not accept such darkness in my art. Is there any reason why we couldn't have been shown a happy segment involving Chinese people in China?
With no plot, no point and no kindness, this film is a joke.
A Tiger's Tale (1987)
Insensitive, Mostly Fluff
I was expecting a movie about the relationship between the two lead actors. If that had been true, then I would have been able to give this movie 7 stars. The inclusion of the tiger, as a cheap, sensational distraction, to "keep us interested", brought it down to 6 stars.
The cavalier and cold way that Rose approached the prospect of abortion intensified the coldness of her character to the point that I stopped liking her and began wondering why Bubber was dedicated to her. The reference to abortion in such a trivializing way, akin to taking out the garbage, brought my rating of this film to 4 stars.
The scene where the small dog was killed by the tiger, in front of the children, was totally un-necessary, impertinent and vicious on the part of the screen-writer and director. This event compelled me to give the movie its present rating of two stars.
Only the good acting and decent dialogue from C. Thomas Howell prevented me from issuing A Tiger's Tale a score of 1 star.
The Other Side of the Coin
I enjoyed Quicksilver. Most movies with the theme of renegades I will like. I'm glad Jack turned his back on the stock exchange and found something that made him feel alive. The worlds of messenger and stock broker were vastly different, but ironically similar in some aspects.
The reality of the seedy, urban element that abuses parcel deliverers gave Quicksilver a gutty feel. In other words, the movie was not just doing stunts on a fixed-gear bike or barreling down one way streets the wrong way. The character of Hector gave some good context to the movie, and Jack showed his good side by helping him in whatever way he could.
What I don't understand about Quicksilver are a couple of scenes where Jack seemed downright mean. One was when the female messenger Terri, played by Jami Gertz, showed up at his door, asking to stay the night because of necessity. Why did Jack have to act like such a @#$%? What was his point?
The other scene was when Jack was eating dinner with his mother and father and he brought up the subject of seeing his father cry. He didn't have to say that. He was the one who lost all his father's money, and then insults him for crying about it?
The messenger's hat that Jack picked up off the street at the beginning of the movie I expected him to return to its owner. Isn't that just poetic justice? Nothing ever comes of it.
While Quicksilver is a little uneven at times and I was a little annoyed by the raucus and dangerous style of cycle riding displayed, this movie gives us a rare glimpse into the individualistic, rebellious, fleeting, demanding and carnival nature of urban bicycle messengers (and their dispatchers). I was convinced that a vital change had taken place in Jack's world view.., a change that would assist him no matter what he did for work in the future.
Big Stan (2007)
This movie had a lot going for it. The theme of beating the bad guy is always welcome to me. The writing was decent, the characters memorable and the location (state prison) in which Stan prevails is unusual. This movie could have been great had it stayed focused and had something to say (better dialogue, more development of Stan's character).
I think there were three major scenes that caused diffusion in the movie, though; One is the scene where Stan re-appears outside the dojo to do combat with the head instructor. This is childish and ridiculous. The instructor had every right to determine what happened or didn't inside his dojo, and Stan's earlier rudeness deserved to be met with some resistance. He ended up being a big cry baby because he was an arrogant punk.
The second scene was brief, but showed one of his aggressors in prison wearing a diaper, unable to control his bodily functions and on an I.V. drip. obviously, the movie screenwriter and director wanted to impart the opinion that raping someone is okay as long as they, too, are an aggressor. I found that scene one of the most vulgar and unnecessary I have ever seen.
The third scene that I found to be ill-conceived was the ending, when the warden was firing a rifle into the courtyard of prisoners. Stan suggested that he "give it up", and he did. A really lack-luster and disappointing ending to what could have been a decent movie.
This is a very dubious movie with many holes in the plot, and it is necessary, throughout, to "suspend your disbelief". No one looks, sounds and acts enough like another person to bamboozle an entire town, filled with friends and relatives. It's just ridiculous. I think this movie is a real waste of two hours.
The way the main character is directed, it is obvious from the start that she is not Caroline. The private investigator was not able to find anything on her? Preposterous.
What, exactly, does the handicapped girl have to do with this identity crisis and deception that the movie is about? It is like watching two movies at once, squashed together. It is so unbelievable, you almost expect Heidi at some point to say, "I am not Heidi! I have been pretending all these years!" and for the woman impersonating Caroline to declare, "I am handicapped! I am not normal!"
What a stupid, ill-conceived movie this is. Nothing like it could ever happen in real life. It is just a 2 hour soap opera. The imposter gets her hands on the inheritance and then has a change of heart (twice) to help Heidi, echoing the lie she told about moving to India? All the while, lying straight-faced to everyone involved, while crying about having hurt them?! Give me a break. Oh, and the party thrown for "Caroline" should have been proof to everyone that something was wrong. Instead, everybody was snookered. She even stated that she "loves" Winston. Yes. of course. That's why she lied to everyone, Heidi included. (Rolls eyes).
Big Ideas (1992)
Decent Australian Film
This movie was surprisingly good, in an under-stated way. During the first half, it seemed like it lacked momentum and frankly, was kind of depressing, because we see bad things happening to good people. Once Sam the retired engineer shows up, things start to gel and we see good things happening. I think the movie could have been more even by Jimmy's mom working on (struggling with) her reading skills during the first half of the movie and for Jimmy to show more enthusiasm for either his inventiveness, the environment, or both. The way it was filmed, he seemed "half-in and half-out". The introduction of Sam was a necessary addition to dig this movie out of a morose rut. It may not have been the environmental Tour De Force of a On Deadly Ground or Erin Brokovich, bu the acting by all was very, very good and Big Ideas is well worth a watch. It teaches that results do not often come immediately.
Mind If I Horn-In?
I found this one of the better, recent Woody Allen movies. While there are some small lacks-of-development in the script, I found it funny, and believable enough to keep me watching and make me interested.
I suppose the one aspect of this film that I came away with is the funny lines that Allen cracks. (I thought his defense for eating bread was hilarious).
My main objection with the film was that it did not explore why Sondra Pransky agreed to spend alone-time with someone she thought was a serial killer of women. This certainly did increase the tension of the film, however, and at every moment, we expected her to be assaulted by Jackman's character, or at least she and/or Allen's character to be discovered.
The fact that she had asked him, casually, about his knowledge of tarot cards should and would have tipped him off that she was "onto" him. The next thing we know, she is in his cellar. Opting to be alone with him after that point was sheer madness on her part. This potentially-fatal error did not seem consistent with her character: That of someone both bright and sober.
Waterman's ruse is revealed, at one point, and this antiquities room scene was an excellent opportunity for him to show some spontaneous ingenuity in his "explanation" of his behavior, but he dis-appoints by resorting to the shtick that he repeats several times in the film, while meeting new people.
I found offensive the line, "You are a credit to your race". Is this an allusion to gentiles? I hope not. Why was it uttered five different times in the film?
One would think that with all Allen has been through in the last 20 years, that he would have achieved some sobriety and deep thought. While many of his lines in Scoop are funny, it is basically the same old Woody, and the lines could have been inserted into any of his movies. Nevertheless, the plot works, and the acting is good.
Something that I think could have been developed is the relationship, or at least the emotional connection, between Pransky and Lyman. When did true feelings develop in her.., and why? The 14th century lute?
One other thing that I would have done differently is to have the spirit of Strombel offer somewhat more information on just why he thinks the lord's son is the murderer. There is bare-little to go on, and we would doubt the soundness of Sondra's and Sid's "investigation", if it were not for the obviously-shady, ambitious and cold nature of Peter Lyman.
This movie is one that has an inherent fluidity-of-perception, and I think this was intentional: There are different ways to view the events, and I can appreciate that. The last Woody Allen film that I liked was Deconstructing Harry, and I thought Scoop is the best since then: If it had explored some fear and dread on the part of Pransky, colliding with unrestrained passion (or lust for money), a stronger dynamic and film could have been presented.
The character Sid Waterman needed some development, too: Where does he live, and what makes him the person he is today? Pransky needed to be able to get him to calm down long enough to say something real.
I may sound overly-harsh about this film, but as I said, I enjoyed it. The one thing I have always admired about Woody Allen (besides some of his humor) is the fact that he has always found it important to reveal, or even magnify, his weaknesses. By doing this, he informs, enlightens and reminds us about the nature of our humanity.
Fairies and Leprechauns Maybe Not So Different After All
I thought this movie was excellent. The acting, casting, script, direction, special effects and music were flawless. A warm-hearted visit to the land of Irish folk tradition and mythology, with adventure, romance and surprises at every turn.
The script and screenplay were so well done that it is the best movie I have seen this year. The movie shows us just how good of a dramatic actor Randy Quaid is. Whoopi Goldberg is on-screen for maybe four minutes altogether, and cudos to the director John Henderson for understanding that her intensity works best in small doses. Colm Meaney was brilliant as Seamus (King of the Kerry Leprechauns).
Roger Daltry was surprisingly good and did an inspired job as a somewhat receding and inept King of the Fairies. His acting job was particularly good in view of the fact that most of his fans remember him as leader of the dramatic and brash group The Who^.
Daniel Betts (as Mickey Muldoon ) and Caroline Carver as Princess Jessica are one of the most attractive couples I have ever seen on screen. Zoe Wanamaker was great (as always) as Seamus' wife, Mary. Orla Brady plays a powerful woman, and it is heart-warming to see her fall in love with Jack (Randy Quaid).
I could have easily issued nine stars to The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns. If some of the second and third battle scenes had been substituted with or altered (softened) by scenes of Irish magical spells confounding both sides, I would have. Certainly, Mickey and Jessica could have taught Jack and Kathleen these rituals and joined forces with the humans to thwart the aggression.
The love scene underneath the barren tree was beautiful. My review would be incomplete if I did not mention the vivid characters played by Tony Curran (as Sean Divine) and Frank Finlay (as General Bulstrode).
Obviously, everybody from hair and wardrobe on up was at the top of their game in this movie. A film with a great amount of kindness and imagination that missed a beat only during the later battles.
Also, it has a great ending. I am grateful to all involved for this movie, and it is going into my permanent collection. (It's been over a year since I've added a film to it).
Raise the Titanic (1980)
Raise the Titanic: But Lower the Military
I would have issued this film a 7 rating but for one scene: When the Russian captain came aboard the Titanic and informed the Americans that the byzanium (sp?) was Soviet property. I was appalled that the American commander felt compelled to resort to a show of one-upsmanship as a threat to keep the radioactive mineral.
What should have happened was that in a spirit of international peace, the American captain should have offered half of the byzanium to the Soviets. That way, both countries could feel safe without the other having a major strategical,military advantage.
The greed and ignorance that is "the American way" really makes me sick: It is as though we have some kind of right and imperative that no one else is entitled to, and that all other countries are evil and the "enemy".
If I were the Russian captain, I would have stayed on the Titanic past the eight-minute limit, just so that the ship was torpedoed. The American sub (and aircraft) could not have stopped that.
The scenes in the movie were very well filmed and the Titanic was re-created to an astounding level. The water would not have been as clear at 12,000 feet, but I can forgive that, because the clarity of the water allowed us to see everything.
Another element of the movie that is perhaps unrealistic but forgivable is the mechanics involved in raising the Titanic: Balloons and "foam" would not have been enough, and the concept of "foam" that was supposed to be injected by tubing or hoses is frankly ridiculous at that depth and considering the complexity of the ship's chambers.
One final, small item is that I wish that the submersible had indicated its depth (and maximum depth capacity) as it entered the trough in which the Titanic was ultimately found: It would have added to the suspense.
Nevertheless, the acting, direction and replication of the actual ship are excellent in this film. It is just unfortunate that the producer felt as though he needed to resort to cold war rhetoric and sabre rattling to make a compelling picture. Certainly, all the elements to captivate an audience were already and otherwise inherent.
Save Willy...So That We Can Put Him In a Fishtank
I need to explain why I gave this movie a rating of one star. It was the advertisement before the film starts for the glorified fish tank that they were building in Seattle to house (detain) orcas and other marine mammals. These mammals are dependent on their natural habitat for survival, and languish under captivity. I find it appalling that the lead actors in Free Willy 2 were paid off to express their support for such a jail for orcas. I find it doubly reprehensible because in the advertisement (as in the movie), it is acknowledged and repeated that these animals spend their entire lives in the company of their families. Many die in captivity, and the state of depression that these whales go into is so profound that even the ones who survive have a dorsal fin that is curled down. The character of the oil company representative in the film said it best in the coffee shop at the dock: "Just as long as we make it seem like we have the whales' best interest in mind". I would have given this film a seven-star rating because of the decent acting, good direction and potent environmental message. Apparently, the actors in this movie are nothing more than actors: Their forked tongue disgusts me.
Watch With a Magnifying Lens and Ultra-Violet Light
I was looking forward to watching this movie. I tried to watch a few minutes of it, and then threw it out. Why? Because I could not read the sub-titles. They are too small and often, are on a white background.
I find it incredible that any movie producer could be that stupid as to include sub-titles that are indiscernible. I would have had to have gotten maybe 2-3 feet from the television set to read these subtitles, and even then, I would not be able to see the ones that are on a white object in the movie.
Is this a trend in foreign films? To include sub-titles that are 1/2" tall and we are supposed to see them from 20-30 feet away? I would really like Mr. Urushadze's comments on this. I find such incompetence very unsettling.
Extraordinary Measures (2010)
Lucid Look at the Pharmaceutical Industry
This film gives a pretty thorough look at the hard truth about the pharmaceutical/medical industries. It is no place for renegades (Ford's character) or idealists (Fraser's character). Even so, these two unlikely associates, through their reputations, talents and determination, manage to parlay themselves into the world of multi-million dollar clinical trials.
Brendon Fraser did a superb acting job, and John Crowley manages to retain his integrity and manners while under intense pressure from several sources. Harrison Ford was not given the chance to flex his muscle, though. If his character had been made to have been a more dynamic and less-misanthropic researcher, the movie would have been more entertaining. I think the director and screenwriter handcuffed Harrison Ford's character a bit. I can forgive this, because I know that in reality, avoidant people like Dr. Stillwell do exist.
I also think the audience could have benefited from a little bit more technical talk: There was very little talk of exactly what they were doing in the lab.
Never-the-less, Extraordinary Measures is an extremely good film for those of us who appreciate being inspired by our art. Brendan has come a long way from Encino Man, and with Extraordinary Measures, as in the earlier Still Breathing, he shows us once again that he is very good at dramatic roles.
One final note: It would have been nice for the screen dialogue at the end of the film to have included some background on the disease and its present numbers. More importantly, we would have liked to have learned more about the present status of the enzyme transport drug: How many have benefited from it? Only infants? How much money does it cost, etc. A movie well worth watching.
Happy, Texas (1999)
An Example of Great Movie-Making
Happy Texas is one of the best movies I've ever seen. It has laughs, suspense, kindness and intelligence. The acting and inter-personal dynamics are excellent. Besides the stellar performances by everyone in the cast, I think special mention should go to Ally Walker as Josephine McClintock. The scene at her house, where she and Jeremy Northam's character are painting props, and all of the scenes between her and him, are extremely well-done. Harry Sawyer's reserved, rather civilized demeanor somehow works well with Wayne Wayne Jr.'s outspokenness and physical aggressiveness. The re-introduction of Bob Maslow was done at a perfect time, and that is an unexpected twist in the plot. I appreciated many things about the ending scene at the prison performance by the Happy Girls: Doreen and Wayne still wanted each other. Josephine and Harry still had a chance at a (delayed) reunion. Harry could be out in under two years. The girls' performance of What's So Great About Love (complete with the spastic moves Wayne taught them) was excellent. I love how the movie was filmed in big, bright colors with lots of outdoor scenes: None of the morose, ashen tones that are prevalent today. The soundtrack is great. Some of the best scenes are between Northam and Walker:
Jo: "I haven't had a girlfriend in a really long time..."
Harry: "Neither have I." (him having been in prison)
Jo: "That's funny." (thinking he is referring to his gayness).
Jo (yelling from tow truck): "What are you doing?"
Harry: "I'm trying to save you!"
Jo: Well stop! I'm trying to save you! If i don't kill you, first...
Steve Zahn should have won an Oscar for his performance.
"Remember to keep the beat!"
I have watched Happy, Texas many times and it always "brings em' back alive".
Really Good Movie that Rips Your Heart Out at the End
I was hoping to give a 7 or an 8 to this movie, because of the sensitivity and caring that it embodied and illustrated. The acting was good from the entire cast. Everything was going along fine until David's daughter, Rachael, changed her mind and decided to go live with her aunt and uncle. That was an extremely cruel, unexplained and unwarranted twist in the plot that came with no warning.
If the producer of this movie wanted to play that black card at the end of the movie, they needed to supply some context...Some reasons why. We see no real reason for the young woman to make this decision: Leaving her dad all alone at a time when he he needs her the most. Indeed, she should have known that her leaving could bring on another suicide attempt by her father.
Her going to go live with that "bee with an itch on the end" was unacceptable to me, and ruined a perfectly good movie and one that could have been great. The young lady should have fought for her dad tooth-and-nail. She should have believed him that he does indeed commune with the spirit of her mother.
The scene that re-inforces the absurdity of the final decision by Rachael is when Wendy Crewson's and Kathy Baker's characters are on the beach one night and The former defends David's behavior and opposes the latter's intrusiveness:
Kevin: Imagine him losing his daughter for taking long walks on the beach.
Esther: It's not just that.
Kevin: Then what is it? Is there something else you're not telling me?
Kevin: Then I don't see his crime.
I have a philosophical objection to the movie, as well: Nowhere in To Gillian is it even suggested or hinted that there is a possibility that David might be perfectly sane and that spirits of loved ones are sometimes able to communicate with us. When his daughter selfishly drop-kicked him like that with no warning or reason (while she was hung-over), I just wonder what could have been.
The movie could have had a great ending with the daughter urging her dad to allow her to go along with him on his beach walks so that the mother's spirit could come through to her, too. The daughter should have fought with the aunt.., physically, and thrown her out of their home. Instead, we get a very black and disturbing ending to a movie that had so much potential.
Brothers' Destiny (1995)
The Great Depression
While I think this is a good story and had some good acting (Danny Aiello), there wasn't a happy moment in the movie. It was all depressing. When the kid they were traveling with got caught (and charged with kidnapping?) and then the homeless people that helped the kids got beaten up by FBI or investigators, that was enough for me. I don't know why the screenwriter insisted on writing a movie where no one was ever happy.., not even for a moment. By the way, having a kids' parents burned like that is not the way to start a movie. This should have been a movie about liberation and possibilities. The tone was more like terror and violence, though. The fact that I still gave it six stars shows that it had something. It could have been great.