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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Mira Sorvino

Reservation Road (2007)

Still though, those little bastards gotta hurry their asses up off those buses!

Ethan and Grace Lerner (Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly) are more than happy with the way things have been going for their lives, but all of that happiness ends when their son gets killed in a hit-and-run accident. Even worse, the person in the car (Mark Ruffalo) who caused it, knows who they are, is still stuck with the guilt, and has yet to fess-up to what he’s done. That’s when Ethan decides to take matters into his own hands and figure out just who the hell is responsible for all of this pain and misery that has been inflicted on him and his family.

Even though the idea of watching a bunch of people go through grief and suffer through pain and agony doesn’t sound like the most exciting bit of an-hour-and-a-half I’d like to spend, you can never, ever go wrong with a cast like this. People know Phoenix to be the type of guy who takes rich and hearty-material that challenges himself, Ruffalo is always a guy that’s capable of taking anything the world throws at him and make it totally and completely work in his favor, and having Sorvino and Connelly round things out ain’t so shabby, either. So, the big question on your mind may be, “How the hell did all of this go wrong?”

My answer? “Script, man. Script.”

The main problem with this script is that even though it does pay attention to the problems its characters face on a day-to-day basis when it comes to dealing with their own levels of grief, the movie still feels the need to rush things up and make this almost like a type of thriller. That sounds all fine and dandy for people who want more than just a character-based story and want some action and excitement to go along with their tears and heavy-grieving, but for a movie like this where we essentially know what happened, who did what, and what the only way to end this could be, it’s a little silly and not all that thrilling. We know who killed the kid, who’s responsible, where this could go, and that this can only end in two ways, either death or imprisonment  so what the hell is all of the tension supposed to be there for?

Pictured: A guy who just got done thinking.

“Damn. Paparazzi.”

And it’s odd, because the tension in this movie is supposed to lie in the fact that everything this driver goes through in life, always has him ending up in one way or another, connecting with the kid’s family. For example, his ex-wife just so happens to be the kid’s sister’s music teacher that is totally superfluous to the plot, except to only include the always wonderful Mira Sorvino (more on her in a bit). Then, it gets even worse when Ethan decides to take the investigation into his own hands and get lawyers involved and in case you couldn’t tell where this is going, get ready, because guess what? The man who killed Ethan’s son, just so happens to be that lawyer he asks for help.

Shocked yet?

Anyway yeah, this movie is just chock full of coincidence-after-coincidence and they don’t seem to serve any other purpose to this story, other than to keep the audiences minds awake for when the flick decides to actually focus in on its characters. You could also argue that the flick only added in those thriller-elements to appeal to a larger-audience that wouldn’t really feel the need to venture out to some movie about a bunch of people crying and being sad all of the time, and if that is the case, well then that’s a damn shame because there is a lot of promise for this type of material to work, regardless of if it’s a mainstream, or indie production.

But regardless, it almost shouldn’t matter when you have a cast like this, because they’re supposed to be able to do no wrong. And that sort of happens, but not really. Joaquin Phoenix may seem a tad miscast at first as the grieving simpleton father of a suburban-family, but shows us differently when he unleashes those raw and honest emotions we always see in each and every one of his performances. You feel bad for the guy and you just want to give him a hug and tap on the back, whispering into his ear that “everything’s going to be alright.” It’s not Phoenix’s most daring role, but it was a true sign that he could play a normal, everyday dude.

Pictured: Sad actors

Pictured: Sad Actors

The same can definitely be said for Mark Ruffalo who never seems to phone-in a performance, no matter how crappy the movie may be, which is what happens here. Ruffalo is great as the driver that kills this boy and runs away without getting caught, because he makes you feel something for the guy, even though he is totally in the wrong, through-and-through. You can sort of see why a guy like him would run away from the punishment of being arrested, but after awhile, it does start to get a bit ridiculous that it hides this all for so long, and for all of the reasons that he apparently has to himself, as well. Still, Ruffalo prevails and shows why you can give him anything, and he can make it work.

Jennifer Connelly is simply used here to be another grieving character of the whole movie and does that very well. Connelly is always good in what she does and that’s why it’s so weird to barely see her around anymore, but it should always be noted that she’s a good actress, when the material is there. It’s sort of here for her, and sort of not, so it’s hard to fully judge her.

Oh and yeah, I previously mentioned Mira Sorvino and it isn’t because she does anything simply out-of-this-world with this movie (mainly because she isn’t given much to work with in the first place), but, without any type of spoilers or giving-away major plot-points (like it really matters), there’s this one scene with her and Ruffalo that is probably the most endearing and emotionally-truthful out of the whole movie, and it really took me by surprise. Rarely does this movie ever talk about how Sorvino’s and Ruffalo’s character used to be married and a loving-couple with one another, other than when they yell, fight, and argue with one other, but that one scene, that one moment between these two, not only made this movie just a tad better, but made me feel like there could have been so much more had they just dropped the whole death-of-the-kid angle and even went so far as to focus on Ruffalo’s character trying to actually get through the divorce and make ends meet. Sure, it’s not the movie we got, but man, I imagine wonders could have been made going down this road, especially with the always dependable Sorvino who, like Connelly, needs to be in more.

Much, much more. Come on, Hollywood!

Consensus: Even with a solid cast on-deck, Reservation Road can’t get its head together quick enough to where it fully works as a small drama about sadness and grief, or as a nail-biting thriller.

5 / 10

I guess he's going to start taking after his kid. Hayyoh! Okay, I'm done.

I guess he’s going to start taking after his kid now. Hayyoh! Okay, I’m done.

Photos Courtesy of: Focus Features

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Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)

Yeah, I’m totally telling my high-school classmates I know Brad Pitt.

Romy and Michele (Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow) are two 28-year-old women who have been best-friends for life and have always been there for the other no matter what the situation called for. However, their ten year high-school reunion is coming up and they both come to the realization that they haven’t done crap with their lives other sit around, piss, moan, and talk about random stuff. In order to have people think differently of the wastes of life they’ve become, they decide to make lies about themselves and what they’ve been up to in the past years since high-school. Basically, it comes down to them being co-inventors of the “Post-it Note”, among many other glamorous lies.

What’s genius about Romy and Michele is that, sure, yeah, it doesn’t set-out to light the movie world on fire, however, it comes away more meaningful than most movies with that certain level of importance attached to itself from the very beginning. What it does is, essentially, show how these two have essentially done nothing new or cool with their lives since high school ended, but also doesn’t show that as such a terrible thing. They’ve always stayed themselves, have never really hid away from what they thought was cool, and actually have sweet souls, even if they do seem like the types of chicks who’d be out first in the spelling bee. And it’s not like I, or the movie is ragging on them either – they are pretty much those types of Valley Girls that talk, sound, and dress like they’re hot stuff, yet, have no clue what the result of two plus two is – however, the movie never judges them for this.

Those girls sure can dance!

Those girls sure can dance! They probably don’t know calculus, but hey, who cares?

If anything, the movie itself is almost too “nostalgic” to really frown on these two, nor should it have to.

Because honestly, Romy and Michele really do deserve their own movie, whether we know it right away or not. They may be dumb, but they have good hearts and are there for each other and whenever they aren’t thinking of what cool things they could do or say next to impress the hell out of the popular ones from school, they are just talking to each other and being the best friends that they can honestly be. If that doesn’t warm your heart a tad bit, I don’t know what will. It looks at high school as a joke and isn’t very serious when it comes to its depiction of what high school is and used to be, and shows that, honestly, that crap doesn’t matter; who you surround yourself around and care for is all that you need in life.

It’s all incredibly corny, but you know what? It works. If not for the script, but for the amazing chemistry between Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino. You get a sense that these two have been side-by-side for as long as they can remember and you also get the sense that they understand each other, in more ways then one. Though the movie has them doing a whole bunch of embarrassingly silly stuff, the movie also doesn’t forget that they’re also very happy to be with one another, even if they still don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

But what really makes these characters work is that they aren’t necessarily the same person, in and out, and both Kudrow and Sorvino show that off perfectly.

Oh, you 80's-looking-but-stuck-in-the-90's-gals.

Oh, you 80’s-looking-but-stuck-in-the-90’s-gals.

Kudrow is always hilarious in anything she does and even though I am always impressed with what she can do when it comes to showing her more dramatic side, her comedic side never seems to falter and it’s always a blast to watch. She has a lot of choice lines that make this movie any funnier than it has any right to be, but if you get to thinking about it, she’s just another-rendition of Phoebe, with a smaller-brain. That’s not even that much of a complaint either, because that character still works, no matter what!

Then, there’s Sorvino who really knew and understand just what it took to make someone as beautiful as her, look and sound so incredibly idiotic, yet, pull it off so wonderfully, that it was actually genuine. She’s more of the stand-out here because she really sets herself apart from the rest of the crowd for being so damn beautiful, but is also able to make us believe that a lot of people would just push her to the side for being a bit of a weirdo, as well as a bit of a dummy. Like Michele, she’s a not terrible person for being dumb and thinking she’s all that, and if anything, it makes us like her a little more.

Others like Alan Cumming and Janeane Garofalo, show up and do what they can, but really, it’s all Sorvino and Kudrow from the very beginning, to the end. In fact, the movie is so reliant that, after awhile, it can tend to be a bit obvious. No problem with playing to your strengths, but honestly, there was probably more within this movie that could have worked, had there been more polishing and focus. However, it doesn’t really matter, because the movie’s entertaining, funny and yeah, that’s all you need.

So I’ll shut up now.

Consensus: Thanks to a heartfelt, endearing and funny chemistry between Kudrow and Sorvino, Romy and Michele is a lot better than it has any right to be, showing that high school, ten years down the line or whenever, doesn’t really matter, so long as you’re happy and love the people you’re with.

6.5 / 10 

So, uh, sequel anyone?

So, uh, sequel anyone?

Photos Courtesy of: Cineplex, IFC, AV Club

Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

I never pay prostitutes to have brains. Just enough low self-esteem that they’d consider to be with me.

Lenny (Woody Allen) and Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter) are in love and want to start a family. However, Lenny’s not quite ready for that yet so they decide to adopt a child named Max. A couple of years go by, Lenny is feeling neglected from Amanda, but is always there for Max and surprised by how smart and knowing he is. That intrigues Lenny so much that he starts to begin a search, behind Amanda’s back, for Max’s birth-mother and finds out that she’s a porn star/prostitute named Linda Ash (Mira Sorvino). Lenny is obviously shocked by this result but he doesn’t let it get to him, and tries to change her so that she can meet-up to his vision and leave the life that she’s been living, despite it being the only way she can manage a steady-income. While Lenny is off being a counselor of sorts, Amanda’s off on her own having her own sort of affairs, main which being one with her art-gallery owner (Peter Weller).

An “okay” Woody Allen movie, is better than no Woody Allen movie. That’s all there is to say about the man, especially since he churns out a movie every year, gets an even-more stacked-cast than before, and continues to find more and more interesting ideas for his stories, and how to tell them. They don’t always work, but it’s always nice to see the guy back on the big-screen, no matter how regular or average the film he’s working with may be. Although some may definitely disagree with me on this: Yes, Mighty Aphrodite is average and regular.

Mighty1

“32 years younger? Good enough for me.”

As usual, what I always like about Woody’s flicks is that the guy has a keen sense of humor, no matter how dark or grim the subject-matter may be. Which is weird considering how the movie starts off light and straight-forward with him and his girl adopting a kid. It feels like a film that’s a bit too innocent and sweet, especially coming from the finger-prints of Woody Allen himself. Thankfully, once the movie goes about 20 minutes into itself, we are then introduced to a whole other story-line that makes the film any bit of being memorable. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you: Ms. Mira Sorvino herself as the screechy-voiced prostitute herself, Linda Ash.

See, I can’t go on and on any further without mentioning her right off the bat because she makes this movie. Sure, Woody’s good, his writing is inspired, and everybody else in the cast has their bright and shiny moments, but it’s this woman who takes this movie, brings it up by the grips of her hands, and never lets go of it, even when she isn’t on-screen. Her presence is always felt in this movie, and that’s a good thing because she keeps it hilarious and fun, while also giving it it’s right amount of heart and sympathy as well. Of course this is Mira’s best performance, not only because she won the Oscar for this, but because she hasn’t really done much after this. And hell, even the stuff that she did do with her career, was nowhere near as challenging or as exciting as this role.

She’s given the hard task of taking a character that would be easily considered “annoying” and “bothersome” by about the first 10 seconds of screen-time that we spend with her fine-ass, but surprisingly, the girl keeps her rompy, to where it’s almost like a whole person herself. Easily, without a doubt, she could have been played-up for just a bunch of laughs as if she was more of a caricature that we usually see in these types of flicks that concern a low-bit, NYC hooker, but the combination of Woody’s sharp-writing and Sorvino’s general likability, is what keeps this character more than just a cliché. She actually has a heart and soul that you feel for, not because she’s way too in over-her-head with certain things, but because she actually does plan on being a person that makes a difference in someone’s life, even if it does concern still hooking around and whatnot. Sorvino’s so good here, in fact, that knowing that she hasn’t really done much with her career ever since, makes it all the more better because it’s the snap-shot of brilliance that comes every once and awhile.

Did that hype the performance up enough for ya?

"So uh, yeah. You do stuff, right?"

“So uh, yeah. You do stuff, right?”

As I said though, saying that she’s the best part of this movie isn’t too discredit any other aspect of this movie that makes it work. It’s a joint-effort and more than likely, the flick works. Woody’s always been, and probably forever will be, a welcome-presence of the big screen, even if it is a bit odd to see a 60-year-old man, adopt and raise a child as if it was the most casual act of kindness on the entire face of the planet. Others are good too, especially the highly-underrated Michael Rapaport, who plays a boxer at a gym that Lenny cons into going out on a date with Linda and has the under-lining, good-boy sweetness to him that allows you to get past the fact that he’s a total idiot. Then again though, she is too and watching them together is probably the high-lights of the movie. In fact, those scenes are so good, as sparse as they may be, I probably wouldn’t have minded seeing one whole flick just surrounding them and their blossoming relationship. Now that would be a Woody Allen flick I’d be very excited to see, but probably may never, ever get.

The ones in this cast who I don’t think worked were very small problems here and there. I like F. Murray Abraham in just about everything he does, and is even good here, but the whole act that his legion of cult-singers narrate the story and tell us what’s lingering at the end of it, as if it were a Greek, modern-tragedy, got old and only took steam out of the flick. Also, it served as a pitch perfect example of what it’s like when Woody can get a little too up his own ass and seem a bit pretentious. And before I go and forget to mention it, Peter Weller, as snarling and oozy as he may be, feels like he’s here more than nothing else to be a dick, and nothing but. Come on, Woody! You can do better than that!

Consensus: Whenever Mira Sorvino isn’t on the screen at all, Mighty Aphrodite isn’t as sharp or as entertaining, but when she is around, for us to set our eyes on, she’s fun, exciting, hilarious, and heartfelt, in only the type of way an Oscar-winning performance could be.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"One day, I'm going to be a star and do something with my post-Oscar career."

“One day, I’m going to be a star and do something with my post-Oscar career.”

Mimic (1997)

As if the sewers weren’t disgusting enough.

After an insane roach problem threatened half of humanity three years ago, Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) and her husband Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) feel as if there is nothing else out there in the world to worry about, other than having a couple of babies and starting a family. However, all of those settling-down ideas are put to the side once some roaches stay alive and find a way to mutate into any species they oh so desire. Even humans! This means that Tyler and Mann have to get back into the groove of things, show up to work, and get ready to kill the roaches once and for all, but this time, they’re a little bit more powerful and hungry this time around and it’s going to be a lot easier said then done. Maybe.

This is the epitome of the type of creepy, gushy-flicks that Gulliermo del Toro loves to make. There’s oodles amounts of slime, creatures, people in distress, and even a couple of kids wandering around. It’s exactly the type of movie you expect from this dude, except for the fact that this one sort of blows. Okay, maybe it’s not as bad as I already have made it out to be, but you can already tell, right from the very beginning that this is the work of a guy who’s whining and dining at a bigger table than he’s used to, and eventually, the jig is going to be up and they’re going to ask for the check.

That means that del Toro bit-off a bit more than he could chew. Does that label it down for you out there?

Cool beans.

Scientists can get down and party too! Woo!

Scientists can get down and party too! Woo!

What I will say positive about del Toro’s direction is that the dude obviously loves the creatures and the havoc he has created for us to watch on screen. Most of the creatures are computer-animated, but each and every one has a fine line of detail that looks and feels real, as if you are almost right there. They don’t scare you like they should because they’re a bit corny to look at, but when they are all up in your grill here and show their violent-ways, I have to admit, even I was a bit freaked-out. Not because I thought I was going to get killed or anything, but because they were just disgusting-looking. Many horror movies do that with their monsters in order to have them be scary: the grosser, the scarier. It doesn’t quite work for me as much as it may for some horror-hounds out there, but I do have to admit that some of it does work, and some of it doesn’t. More good, than bad, but the bad does show.

However, the bad barely even shows because the whole freakin’ movie is dark. Seriously, practically the last 20 minutes of this movie is lit-up by a glow-stick and a small flashlight. That’s it. I get that, literally and figuratively, keeping the audience in the dark is supposed to keep us on the edge of our seats and even more scared with what’s next to come, but I need to see something, hell, anything in order to feel that way! I trust that del Toro really had some suspense to build on here, but it never quite latched onto me, mostly because I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on, and mostly, because I wasn’t all that interested.

Basically, the whole problem with this movie comes down to the script and how poorly-written it is. When I watch a horror movie, I don’t ask for a winning-screenplay about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, but I do ask for a little something more than just the same old lines I’ve heard time and time again. Somebody saying to an on-looker, “Look out!”, right before they get all caught up by a monster and eaten alive, or a moment where people decide to split-up because “that’s what’s best for now”, all just piss me off to high heavens and make it obviously clear why the horror genre has failed me so much in the past. That’s why come every Halloween, I’m always packing on the quality horror flicks that I’ve most likely missed, and get on top of them so I can actually feel happy for the genre that will never, ever go away, not even as each and every one that came before it gets a remake.

Look out! It's a buggy/roachy thingy!

Look out! It’s a buggy/roachy thingy!

Yup, wasn’t a fan of that one either.

But at least the Oscar-caliber cast is good and here to save the day, right? Ehhhh! Wrong! Despite Mira Sorvino being about 2 years past her Oscar win, she still seemed to want to cash in on the money, and not the respect, especially when she took a role as cut-and-dry as this. I’ll give Sorvino some credit, the lady’s natural charm and cuteness to her look makes this character more interesting than your usual, heroine in horror movies, but she does fall victim to some pretty shitty lines and uninspired actions her character takes. Then again, the gal’s smokin’, so I can’t be on her ass too much.

Jeremy Northam is here as her dorky hubby and does what he’s asked of, even if that is being insanely hokey; Charles S. Dutton is meant to be here for comedic-relief, and because every horror movie is strictly in need of a black character to kill off, especially once the murder-toll begins to tally-up; Josh Brolin plays Northam’s hot-shot buddy that’s a bit too big for his britches, but gets by on wit and just being cool (as always); F. Murray Abraham plays an aging, college professor who knows a bit too much dangerous shit to walk around and not tell anybody about, even though he plays it with enough class to make us feel like he knows what he’s doing and talking about, even if it is completely idiotic; and rounding it all out is Giancarlo Giannini plays a shoe-shiner who works in the subway where all of these roaches are hibernating, and gives the movie some much-needed warmth and depth as we see that the dude obviously cares for his “special” son, no matter how “special” he may be. And by “special”, I mean that the kid walks around, playing tunes with two spoons and his legs, and calling somebody “Mr. Funny Shoes”. Wow, nice subtlety there del Toro!

Consensus: People who love del Toro flicks, as well as the creature-feature flicks that are obviously famous in the horror genre, will have a blast with Mimic, if they can get by the over-familiarity of the plot, as well as the sure dumbness of the script and characters.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Sooooo rad."

“Sooooo rad.”

Quiz Show (1994)

Ken Jennings and Alex Trebek were secretly in cahoots this whole time.

This is the true story of Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), who rocketed to national fame as a repeat winner on the TV quiz show “Twenty-One.” In the late 1950s, prime-time game shows were a cultural phenomenon. But the American public didn’t realize it was being hoodwinked … until persevering congressional investigator Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow) unmasked the corruption behind the show’s glittering façade.

I never fully knew anything about these cases that took place back in the 50’s but I was somehow always interested in them. However when my interest is compared to the interest of Robert Redford, I don’t even stand anywhere close.

Redford is a great actor but also a great director and he shows that well here with showing true passion that he feels for this subject material. Every little fine detail that Redford can get, he puts right up there on screen and you can feel that he not only feels strongly about what is happening here but what is also being told through these historic events.

We as people do not look at the way we make our own choices. Most of the time we look at the rewards we get from making that choice, or what happens to us after wards, or just anything that has to do with something positive coming out of the choice, but we never look at the moral side of it. Is what I am doing right, not just for me but for another person as well? There were many moments where this film brought this up and by the end of the flick a lot of it really starts to show up but not in a very over-powering way. It’s somehow a subtle message that this film shows very well without throwing it right into our faces.

Screenwriter Paul Attanasio is the real reason why this film works so well because he does a lot of great stuff with this subject matter and keeps it going and going. There is a lot of the constant talking back-and-forth between two characters with plenty of intelligence, wit, and sharpness to what everybody is saying and made this film so entertaining in the first place. It’s weird to even say that I was actually tense in many occasions and I could tell that Attanasio had a lot to do here as a screen-writer, but does a superb job at handling it all.

The problem that I had with this screenplay was that I felt it felt too much like historical fiction, which I knew that it was going for in the first place, but for some odd reason took me out of the film a bit. The film uses real characters in some real situations but then there are other times where the situations these characters find themselves into seem a bit too fake to even be considered real. Yes, I do wish these actual real-life people had these type of conversations but it was almost too hard to believe that anyone would ever talk like they were reading an Aaron Sorkin script.

Something that Redford should really receive big-time credit for was getting this whole ensemble cast together and have them all do perfect jobs. John Turturro is fun to watch as the crazy and a bit loopy former-champ, Herb Stompel, and actually provides a very zany character that is also very sad; Ralph Fiennes is just about perfect as Charles Van Doren who is so cool, so charming, and so smart that it almost is a total shocker that he ends up being a bad dude after all, and no that was not a spoiler because they basically show you within the first 20 to 30 minutes; and Paul Scofield is terrific as his father, Mark Van Doren, and makes it abundantly clear why he was the only actor from this whole cast to get nominated for an Oscar. To be honest though, how could they have picked from this huge cast of A-list actors that all have reputations to do great.

The one performance I felt that was the weakest of all was the one given by Rob Morrow as Dick Goodwin. This guy is essentially our main protagonist who goes through this whole discovery and gives us his little insight on everything, which was supposed to have us root for him but it made me just want to see more of Fiennes instead. The problem with Morrow is that this Jewish-like Brooklyn accent he does throughout the whole film seems a little too flat and almost like he just went to a baseball game in New York and came back doing impersonations of the Yankee fans for his buds. Another reason why it was a big problem because without me really being able to believe or even stand seeing Morrow up on screen, I couldn’t get behind him fully and that sort of created an empty center.

Consensus: Robert Redford may lose some moments in script-writing with Quiz Show but other than it’s amazing with pitch-perfect performances from the whole cast (except for maybe Morrow), a nice deal of subject material goes a long way, and just a great message about morals and why they should come in the way of almost every decision we ever make in our lives, even if it does concern a game-show. That Robert Redford, not only is he handsome as hell, he can write and direct like a legend.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Beautiful Girls (1996)

Being snowed in makes me all warm and fuzzy, except I wouldn’t want that feeling all year round.

Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) returns to the small town he left behind as erstwhile friends, lovers and the scary thought of settling down swirl around him. A friend’s unapproachable cousin (Uma Thurman) and the winsome teenager next door (Natalie Portman) couldn’t be more different, but they afford glimpses of two possible futures.

Those “small-town” films have always been a favorite of mine since I like to feel like I’m right there with the story, and this one did not disappoint.

The script here by Scott Rosenberg is what really has this film clickin’. Rosenberg does a great job of expressing the insecurity’s that men have, and the sexual politics between men and women. Us men, we can sometimes be horny mofo’s and not always do the brightest things, and this film shows that it’s alright because that’s how life is. There is also plenty of comedy to go along here that won’t have you laughing-out-loud, but it will at least give you this breezy feeling throughout the whole film.

Most of the problem with this film that people will actually have is that not much happens here. The whole film is basically conversational, and nothing eventful really goes down and some will be bored by this, but I actually didn’t mind it because they gave us things interesting and witty to talk about.

However, my problem with this film is that it does get schmaltzy at times which sort of took away from the whole cool feel that this film gave me. I didn’t mind the little emotional scenes they had, but I think they were unnecessary especially with that cheesy score they had pop in every once and awhile. Also, I wish there was more viewpoints from the gals here too, but I can’t lie, I still liked what I heard from both sides.

The ensemble cast is good-looking, but don’t let that actually fool you because their all so good. Timothy Hutton is good as Willie and handles the film really well bringing in that coolio charm, and actual “realistic-guy” feel to him. I don’t know if that made any sense but the point I’m trying to make is that he’s a cool dude. Matt Dillon, Noah Emmerich, and my favorite no matter what he does, Michael Rapaport, all do great jobs as the other dudes here. Martha Plimpton, Mira Sorvino, and Lauren Holly are good too. But my favorites out of this cast are from three gals actually. Rosie O’Donnell has a totally hilarious scene here where she talk’s about dudes and our sexual fantasies, and it’s all so true, but the way she puts everything just made me crack up the whole time. Uma Thurman is also awesome as the really cool chick named Andera, who really made me wish I had here as a “fake date” when I needed one the most. But the best performance from the whole cast is Natalie Portman, who at 13, took this little role, and made it so memorable. Her character, Marty, is really quirky and Portman does a great job at bringing out that quirkiness within her character, and make almost every scene she has hilarious but also very interesting. This was a star-making role for her, and with good reason because she’s awesome in this role.

Consensus: Nothing much really happens here other than a bunch of conversations, but Beautiful Girls’ script is so good, that it kind of makes up for that, with it’s themes about men and women, and performances from a great cast, especially Natalie Portman.

7/10=Rental!!

Summer of Sam (1999)

Good thing I was born in 1993, and didn’t live in New York.

During the sweltering summer of 1977, the notorious killer Son of Sam set New York City on fire, and a chance encounter with the homicidal maniac sends the life of a philandering Bronx hairdresser named Vinny (John Leguizamo) spinning out of control. As the authorities hunt the killer, Vinny’s life unravels amid a haze of suspicion, drugs and promiscuity. Mira Sorvino and Adrien Brody also star in this tense crime drama from director Spike Lee.

Spike Lee has always been one of my favorites no matter what he’s directing really. He is very smart, innovative, and thought-provoking, but not without entertaining. Here, he does almost all of that.

There is a lot of stuff going on in this film, and for the most part Lee handles it all pretty well. It’s just that some parts feel like they shouldn’t have even been put in, and you can tell where the film drags. The editing seems like it could have been better, because the tone goes up and down, as well as the story.

However, Lee always steps up to the plate. He perfectly captures the fear and paranoia that was going through the mind of many New Yorkers during the Summer of Sam. He uses a lot of intense visuals, as well as some incredible set pieces, to really show you how everything back in those days, were so tense. The soundtrack also gives us more of a feel that we are in the 70s, and there are a couple of cool little musical montages to 2 songs from The Who, and it really is amazing. It’s always nice to see Lee branch out and do something different, while still making it fresh and enjoyable.

The problem with this film is that it is that for some viewers this may be too much. There is a lot of ugliness within this film that will take some people by surprise, and leave others in total disgust. I didn’t mind it at all really, but the many sex scenes, drugs, and violence will actually be hard for others to watch. For 142 minutes, I think some people will find themselves switching the channels about 30 minutes into it.

The acting is superb, especially from John Leguizamo. His sex-addicted, Catholic-guilt-ridden, married, adulterous, drug-taking, smoking, swearing, messed-up is out of control. Cool. Adrien Brody‘s sexually-confused, swinging, punk, radical, liberated, drug-taking, smoking, swearing, messed-up, Brit wannabe is more subtle, but equally as out of it. They both have great scenes when their together, and you can feel the real chemistry between these two, as we follow their two different lives. Mira Sorvino is beautiful, but also amazing as Leguizamo’s wife, and shows that she doesn’t need to be that goody-goody we all know her for, she can be equally as sexy, and tear down the house. Jennifer Esposito doesn’t do much anymore, and it’s actually a shame because she’s very good here, and it makes me miss her a whole lot more.

Consensus: At times, it’s a muddled mess, at other times brilliantly entertaining. Spike Lee handles this material with plenty of ugliness, but also with great visuals, and amazing performances from the cast.

7.5/10=Rental!!!

The Replacement Killers (1998)

So much action, so little time.

Hit man John Lee (Chow Yun-Fat) refuses an assignment to kill a police officer’s 7-year-old son — defiance that doesn’t sit well with his Chinatown drug lord boss, Mr. Wei (Kenneth Tsang). Wei hires “replacement killers” to finish the job and take care of Lee, and the hit man’s only chance to escape is with a new passport from forger Meg Coburn (Mira Sorvino). But Wei is hot on their bloody trail in director Antoine Fuqua’s actioner.

This film tries too hard to blend these two different styles together: fast-paced action of John Woo, and the visualizing style of MTV and Hollywood. I liked some of the visuals in the film but I think they relied more on that then the rest of the film.

The writing is at-the-most very cheesy and terribly written. The scenes where Yun-Fat and Sorvino are talking just wreak with utter distaste in how real people actually talk. The story sort of starts to lose itself after the 1 hour minute mark so they just decide to add in the crazy gun sequences.

Now don’t get me wrong I did like the action and gun sequences here, even though they caused so much havoc and distortion, that you yourself were bound just to get lost in the mess. I have seen plenty of other Hong Kong shoot em up films and to be honest this is a lukewarm attempt to restate that. Mostly, cause the action isn’t as gory and in your face as plenty of other Honk Kong films of this nature. But despite that I found these scenes to actually kind of be the stronghold of the film.

When it comes to acting let’s just say that Yun-Fat isn’t the best. He doesn’t have much lines but when he does, sort of delivers them in such a terrible way your wondering if hes starting to learn English. Sorvino tries with this script, and brings some humor to the picture, but can’t quite hit the right note. I think the reason for this was just to put a big action Foreign star with some sassy sidekick and make a movie out of it, honestly.

Consensus: The Replacement Killers isn’t boring and has a style, but is a bad blend of Honk Kong Cinema and the MTV visuals, bad acting with even worse writing, and ultimately a lukewarm attempt at capturing the essence of those Honk Kong films.

3.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!!