director: michael almereyda
It looked like a bad idea on paper, but this most recent "Modernized Shakespeare" production is surprisingly effective and loyal to it's source material. Ethan Hawke may be the youngest actor to ever play the Melancholy Dane and he is quite good; the film gets a bit choppy at the end as things wrap up a little too quickly to reach it's inevitable conclusion (but we don't really ever need another 4 hour Hamlet) but this is a solid highly entertaining film.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend

director: ridley scott
While this film never gets as bad as I thought it was capable
of being it still manages to be pretty lame. There is no focus,
suspense, or a decent character to get attached to; towards
the end things start getting a little too over the top and the
movie tries to hard to make Lecter the hero.......pretty dumb
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  February 2001 [link] |  recommend

happy accidents
director: brad anderson
Entertaining little charmer about a woman who thinks she's met the right guy until he tells her that he's from the future. Anderson has a great directing style (if you haven't seen his 1998 film Next Stop Wonderland, it's worth a look) and the cast is incredibly likeable, things get a touch predicatable towards the end but it's fun getting there.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  August 2001 [link] |  recommend

director: mike leigh
Not much happens in a Mike Leigh film except these completely realized characters (after months of workshopping, they say) leap out at you and practically lick your face with trueness. What a pleasure just to watch these characters be.
reviewed by: adina |  October 2008 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up

harry potter & the chamber of secrets
director: chris columbus
The second Potter movie is pretty entertaining – or at least the first half is. For me, the second half just got bogged down with details where I would think, “Well, I guess I can see that happening. Maybe. Now why would they know to do this?”. (bonus, illegal third sentence: lets all play a drinking game where you’d drink everytime someone says, “Potter”)
reviewed by: rich |  November 2002 [link] |  recommend

harry potter & the prisoner of azkaban
director: alfonso cuarón
The new ‘Potter’ movie I thought looked a lot better (maybe due to the new director) and was an enjoyable enough two hours of my time with the broomsticks and the monsters and the hocus and/or pocus that you come to expect from the series. I have read the books, and even after doing that, there seemed to be a few plot holes or situations that weren’t really fleshed out, making me suspect that someone who hadn’t read the book might be confused, or worse, bored.
reviewed by: rich |  June 2004 [link] |  recommend 5 thumbs up

head of state
director: chris rock
Awfully dumb and moderately funny, HEAD OF STATE is set in an alternate reality, vaguely similar to our own, but where this shit makes a half a shred of sense. Chris Rock, like Jerry Seinfeld -- another stand-up comic turned "actor" -- overcomes his total lack of thespian skill by being hammily bad in a really enjoyable way (i.e. his hysterical reaction early in the film when his bike gets run over by a bus).
reviewed by: matthewS |  April 2003 [link] |  recommend

hedwig & the angry inch
director: john cameron mitchell
While things sort of peter out towards the end this musical about a glam diva and his abbreviated member is still highly entertaining. The first half is really innovative and visually pretty great; the last half hour is a bit of a jumble with one musical number after another but I was never bored watching this....and the soundtrack is great.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  August 2001 [link] |  recommend

director: david mamet
After this one I'm starting to suspect that David Mamet may truly be a short con operator and his entire career has been a setup to get me to see this lame film. They are doublecrosses at an exponential rate here folks, but where is the love; Matt Johnson asked if this was like a second rate "The Conversation" but I would have to say it's more a second rate "Hoosiers".
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  December 2001 [link] |  recommend

director: zhang yimou
Beautifully shot, gorgeous use of color as only Zhang Yimou can do, fantastic (literally!) action sequences, thought-provoking Borgesian structure. But deeply nationalist, the kind of movie the Chinese Army would screen for its soldiers just before they invade Taiwan; as the credits rolled, my wife, who is a hugh Zhang fan, turned to me with a stricken look and said, "I feel like I just watched a film by Leni Riefenstahl."
reviewed by: Ishbadiddle |  October 2004 [link] |  recommend 3 thumbs up

high fidelity
director: stephen frears
John Cusack, cool soundtrack, record snob smirkiness, based on a cult novel: no wonder this looked good on paper, unfortunately, what's up on the screen isn't half as exciting as it should be. I never really believed that the character was as in love with music as the audience is being told he is and if I didn't know better I'd swear the people who made this film never owned any vinyl….on top of all that, there's way to much talking directly into the camera.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend

himitsu (the secret)
director: yojiro takita
After an ill-fated bus accident, the spirit of a dying mother enters her teenage daughter's body, and throws this small family into turmoil. Given this somewhat cliché yet bizarre plot, this is a surprisingly balanced movie with remarkable performances from both Kaoru Kobayashi and Ryoko Hirosue as father and daughter.
reviewed by: taiwai |  August 2001 [link] |  recommend

hollywood homicide
director: ron shelton
This alleged comedy pairs Harrison Ford (as the veteran dick who's getting too old for this shit) with the poor woman's Keanu Reeves, Josh Hartnett. Such a waste -- if this laughless turd had fewer Motown cameos by two, more fruity suit-vests by four, and 600% more humor, it might have made a perfectly adequate episode of NASH BRIDGES.
reviewed by: matthewS |  June 2003 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up

holy smoke
director: jane campion
This story about a young woman who joins a cult in India and her relationship with her "deprogrammer" starts off as an interesting enough film. Unfortunately halfway into things, the characters cease to be characters and become what they thematically represent and then none of it seems very credible.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend

hotel rwanda
director: terry george
Don Cheadle turns in an amazing performance with the story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who turned his hotel into a refugee camp during the genocide in Rwanda. This is a heart-wrenching, nail-biting movie set smack dab in the middle of one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time – that said, it's a must see.
reviewed by: rich |  February 2005 [link] |  recommend 7 thumbs up

house of sand and fog
director: vadim perelman
Movies are, obviously, the dominant form of expression in our time, yet somehow manage to almost entirely ignore classic tragedy--tragic things happen, sure, but usually the bad guys get a fistful of revenge, or the hero reinvents himself, wins the girl and starts a fresh life on the opposite coast from where their troubles began. That said, "House of Sand and Fog" is a pure tragedy, and because of its precious rarity, I barely know how to describe it, other than to say it will break your fucking heart (respect to all who made this film for staying so close to the novel by Andre Dubus III, son of writer Andre Dubus, whose story "The Killings" was made into Todd Field's exceptional "In the Bedroom," and odd enough, to power-wielding-culture-shaping Oprah, who in 2000 chose "House of Sand and Fog" for her bookclub).
reviewed by: john ball |  December 2003 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up

director: ang lee
OK, granted, Bruce Banner's explosive rage is pretty serious, but can you think of anybody who's likable when he's angry? Ang Lee does a great job with the latest Marvel blockbuster, and the wardrobe department even contrives to keep Big Green in purple pants.
reviewed by: matthewS |  June 2003 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up

director: bruno dumont
From the incredible opening shot on, this disturbing film pulled me in and wormed it's way under my skin. A very unique take on the detective film which might not be for all tastes but will definitely follow you around for days.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  August 2000 [link] |  recommend

hysteria: the def leppard story
director: ?
In what is quite possibly the only biographical film in which the actors are less attractive than their respective real-life counterparts (with the exception of Anthony Michael Hall as Mutt Lange), VHI continues its transformation into a Rock and Roll Lifetime Network complete with endless Album Title-Colon-The Musical Artist Story films. Merideth Baxter Birney's absence notwithstanding, Hysteria is a fun, trashy re-enactment and would garner a C+ for the goosebump-inducing "Studio Magick" moments of the Pyromania sessions alone if they didn't rush us through the more critical moments of the story - namely reducing Steve Clarke's death to a stop-motion end credits blurb.

(by scott hicks)
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2001 [link] |  recommend

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