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return of the king (lotr 3)
director: jackson, peter
The weakest of the three, but Chris thought it the best (because the story follows one narrative thread) but when they are not fighting, they spend a lot of time staring at each other in moments of cringey dramatic import. Frodo spends the whole film looking nauseated or stricken, Arwen (Liv) is wimpy or cutesy, the battle scenes are awesome, and the blonde human lady (with a crush on Aragorn) and her dad the king and the secondary hobbits are the only ones who seem to make any character progression.
reviewed by: adina |  December 2003 [link] |  recommend 5 thumbs up


winged migration
director: jacques cluzaud, michel debats, jacques perrin
A visually stunning documentary that follows the migration of birds from the Poles and points in between. Watching the birds make their way through many obstacles will definitely hold your interest and the camerawork will leave you wondering “how did they do that?”- note no special effects were used in the film- it’s nothing but the real thing.
reviewed by: rachel |  September 2003 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


american pie 2
director: james b rogers
If you saw the first one and laughed you should go see this one and laugh too. If you saw the first one and didn't laugh then maybe you are dead on the inside, I don't know.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  October 2001 [link] |  recommend


identity
director: james mangold
John Cusack or not, this film would have been entertaining for me even with Ray Liotta's puffy, pockmarked mug overacting surprise and terror all over the rain soaked set. Don't most fast-eye-twitching, multi personality disordered, psycho killers have a whore, wannabe orange farmer lurking deep in their psyche?
reviewed by: nate |  April 2003 [link] |  recommend


walk the line
director: james mangold
reviewed by: jen |  December 2005 [link] |  recommend 7 thumbs up


3:10 to yuma
director: james mangold
This loud, gun-toting, tough guy action western (a remake of the 1957 film) is chuck-full of guy-guys who get dirty, bloody, and mangled (Peter Fonda is the baddest of them all), and it's fun to watch at times. Maybe I'm a girlie girl, but I saw the film as a love story between the charasmastic gun-toting outlaw (played with relaxed glee by Russell Crowe) and the one-legged good rancher (played by the subtle and great Christian Bale) who must get him to the prison train on time. Third sentence about a trivial observation: When Crowe's character first appears in the film, he watches a little bird fly away–-this is very similar to the beginning of Gladiator when the Gladiator watches the little bird fly away with a wistful look before unleasing heck–-fly away little Russell bird, fly, fly away.
reviewed by: jen |  August 2007 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


wisconsin death trip
director: james marsh
Through a series of archival photos, narration's of old news stories, and dramatic re-creations this film tells the history of murder, suicide, and madness in the town of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. While technically impressive, this film is ultimately hollow and a bit pretentious and you don't know much about the town at all by the time it's over.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend


little otik
director: jan svankmajer
Inspired film based on a Czech fairytale, a childless couple raise a log as their offspring (really). Reminiscent of David Lynch’s Eraserhead, this is another great film about the fear of reproducing (a legit fear at that), while it runs a bit long it is still fresh and entertaining throughout.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  February 2002 [link] |  recommend


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


bright star
director: jane campion
I knew from English Lit class and Keats' first cough how it was going to end, but watching young Fanny cry out for her dead love was such a thing of beauty that I wept right along with her.
reviewed by: jen |  September 2009 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


napolean dynamite
director: jared hess
Welcome to the Dollhouse with a dash of Footloose, Jon Heder is painfully hilarious as the ultimate high school geek. Deadpan acting and food fights are elevated to new heights in this must-see indie which will take you back in a time machine to your own high school in Idaho.
reviewed by: raquel |  August 2004 [link] |  recommend 8 thumbs up


juno
director: jason reitman
Miss Juno and her wild band are apparently in the hip Indie film of the season. At times, it felt like Indie Film 101, but I still liked it and was especially moved by the lead character's quirky and quite unlikely journey to a state that I can only describe as grace.
reviewed by: jen |  January 2008 [link] |  recommend


meet the parents
director: jay roach
An enjoyable little movie highlighting the comedic stylings of Ben Stiller and Bobby D. Hell, I'm hard pressed not to enjoy any movie where character tells another to shut their pie-hole.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  November 2000 [link] |  recommend


amelie
director: jean-pierre jeunet
I'm a sucker (most of you are probably nodding right now but please let me finish the sentence first) for stories about the role fate plays in our lives. So this light little gem was straight up my proverbial alley; a beautifully made confectionary charmer that held me from start to finish...intelligent eye candy.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  November 2001 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


army in the shadows (l'armee des ombres)
director: jean-pierre melville
reviewed by: jen |  June 2006 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up


the devil and daniel johnston
director: jeff feuerzeig
Daniel Johnston has to be about one of the most ideal subjects for a documentary since he and his siblings apparently loved making home movies and recordings (and saved them all as well). Nonetheless, this is a swell documentary about the man, his family, the legend - and features some amazing footage of Daniel and other musicians.
reviewed by: rich |  April 2006 [link] |  recommend 3 thumbs up


jackass number two
director: jeff tremaine
reviewed by: Eve |  October 2006 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


jackass: the movie
director: jeff tremaine
It's clear why Johnny Knoxville is the star: he's obnoxious, but endearingly so -- while many of his colleaugues are just reckless dopes, whose exploits are amazing, but with whom you probably wouldn't want to hang out. At the beginning of the film, when a "don't try this at home" type warning came on the screen, a kid at the front of the theatre piped up "yeah, right," which made me a little nervous, since I have to share a neighborhood with him and his nutjob pals.
reviewed by: matthewS |  October 2002 [link] |  recommend


spellbound
director: jeffrey blitz
Being one who can’t complete a correct sentence without the spell check function on the computer I was amazed by these youngsters’ ability and desire to spell under extreme pressure as I watched first time director Jeffrey Blitz's documentary profiling 8 students and their unique paths to the National Spelling Bee in Washington DC. Using the right amount of drama and humor this film provides a loving portrayal of the true diversity of America and celebrates the often misunderstood “smart kid” - this is the best film I've seen in a long time.
reviewed by: rachel |  May 2003 [link] |  recommend 4 thumbs up


tao of steve, the
director: jenniphr goodman
A big guy comes up with a foolproof philosophy for chatting up the ladies. Very entertaining and sharply written, this is one of the most likeable films I've seen in a while.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  September 2000 [link] |  recommend


v for vendetta
director: jerry mcteigue
Remember, remember the 5th of November: it's a timely, surprisingly emotional and visually stunning film starring the loquacious Hugo Weaving (Elrond in Lord of the Rings; Agent Smith in The Matrix) as a modern-day Guy Fawkes anti-hero in fascist Britain. Natalie Portman takes a complicated and terrific journey to rebellion. See it in IMAX.
reviewed by: mina |  April 2006 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up


13 conversations about one thing
director: jill sprecher
Interesting series of loosely connected stories about the fluid nature of happiness. It's the type of film that plays in your head long after it's over; it also boasts a terrific performance from the always amazing Alan Arkin.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  June 2002 [link] |  recommend


ghost dog: the way of the samurai
director: jim jarmusch
Contrived and uneven, this film is too self-consciously hip for it's own good.
Though not without it's good moments (the score and the visuals are pretty great) it just plods along and makes the same points again
and again with none of the subtlety and humor that was apparent in his earlier efforts like "Down by Law".
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend


broken flowers
director: jim jarmusch
Jim seems to be losing a bit of steam or inspiration or something because he directs Bill Murray exactly the way Sofia Coppola directed Bill Murray and it is a little sad to see a guy of Jim's stature ripping off directors who are younger than I am. That said, 'Broken Flowers' is funny in that Jarmucshian way, but disappointing in a way that makes me wonder if my expectations were too high (oh and btw, Jeffrey Wright is hysterical and Jim's magic at choosing locations and soundtrack remain undiminished).
reviewed by: blaine |  August 2005 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


coffee and cigarettes
director: jim jarmusch
Jim Jarmusch is a cool old-school indie filmmaker, and his new film, Coffee and Cigarettes is really cool with a lot of cool performances. I wish I still smoked.
reviewed by: jen |  May 2004 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up


blair witch 2-book of shadows
director: joe berlinger
Book of Crap is more like it, I didn't really expect much from this film to be honest and I got a hell of a lot less than I bargained for. Where the first film was an interesting one-shot experiment this plays like the umpteenth installment of the Nightmare on Elm St series, pray that no more "footage" is "found".
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  October 2000 [link] |  recommend


atonement
director: joe wright
I went to see this movie not really knowing what it was about but I was promised a tragic love story claiming to be "one of the year's best films." Other than the beautiful costumes and stunning scenery this movie left me totally bored and uninspired.
reviewed by: kelly |  January 2008 [link] |  recommend


the ladykillers
director: joel and ethan coen
The Coen brothers lend their clever, dark twist to a story that should have been funnier and possibly darker. Tom Hanks proves again that he can do excellent character portrayal, but the all too tidy ending--and really, just in general--the movie left me wanting more.
reviewed by: nate |  May 2004 [link] |  recommend


blood simple-director's cut
director: joel coen
The prototype of Fargo, this film is still an entertainingly twisty little game after all these years. Not as much obvious humor as in their later films, this is really the Coen Brothers at their darkest…great film noir is a wonderful thing.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  August 2000 [link] |  recommend


o brother, where art thou?
director: joel coen
Not their best work but there is still plenty to love about this
film, practically every shot in it is beautiful and seems
painstakingly planned out. George Clooney delivers an
incredible human cartoon performance which is almost as
good as Nick Cage in Raising Arizona, the music is really
amazing too.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  January 2001 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


man who wasn't there, the
director: joel coen
Any film that has opening credits casting a shadow on the barbershop in the background is okay in my book. Just how Billy Bob Thornton manages to dangle that cigarette from his lower lip for nearly two hours is just the tip of the iceberg in this beautiful piece of work.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  November 2001 [link] |  recommend


phone booth
director: joel schumacher
Colin Farrell's a game little actor, even if his "Bronx accent" in this movie is ludicrously, distractingly bad. Staging the whole film in a -- uh, oh yeah, PHONE BOOTH -- is a fun formal gimmick, and gives this degraded little Hitchcockian thriller a bit of a trashy stage play feel.
reviewed by: matthewS |  April 2003 [link] |  recommend


my big fat greek wedding
director: joel zwick
i finally got a chance to see this sweet little film with my mom and we laughed our tushies off. whatever nationaility you are, the same message resonates with all: your family is crazy.
reviewed by: lisa may |  November 2002 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


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


once
director: john carney
This is the quietest movie musical I have ever seen. It stayed with me for a long time after I walked away from it.
reviewed by: jen |  August 2007 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


dancer upstairs, the
director: john malkovich
When the money gathered around a completely disimilar sceenplay with Dance in the title, "Dances with Wolves," the money said "you can't make this picture if you kill the dog," the idea being that a dead dog just doesn't sell. In Nicolas Shakespeare's screen adaptation of his novel, boy are there plenty of dead dogs--strung up on poles with revolutionary placards attached or strapped with explosives in a crowded marketplace--and the effect is profoundly violent and disturbing in this oddly believable yet surreal (in the strictest sense) grand-scale detective story; but don't see this for the dead dogs, please, go for Javier Bardem, possibly the best actor working, and don't go for the one weak plot hinge (an unconvincing love interest), again, go for Javier Bardem, and the amazing landscape, dogs and all (no animals were actually harmed).
reviewed by: john ball |  June 2003 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


sunshine state
director: john sayles
John Sayles's latest follows a small run-down coastal community in Florida that is ripe for the picking from an out-of-state resort developer. This movie moves about as fast as I do during an August day but the characters are intriguing (Edie Falco does an amazing job with her role) and their stories unfold in a natural way that it gives it almost a documentary feel.
reviewed by: rachel |  July 2002 [link] |  recommend


limbo
director: john sayles
John Sayles is a national treasure, his characters are so fully developed they could be people plucked from your own life. The first hour of the film sets up a group of compelling characters, then something big happens (I won't spoil it) and you have so much invested in these people that you will be (quite literally) dying to see what happens next.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend


billy liar
director: john schlesinger
Poor Billy, can't stand his job working in a funeral home, his parents don't get it and his only solace comes from a dream land he has invented called Ambrosia. I wonder why I could relate to this movie so well.....hmm; a cracking good time for all.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  November 2000 [link] |  recommend


shaft
director: john singleton
I was pretty thrilled when the Paramount logo came up and the Isaac Hayes music kicked in, it was all pretty much downhill from there. It seems as though the notion of Sam Jackson as Shaft was high concept enough so that no one felt the need to actually make the film entertaining; the original was no gem but it was fun to watch (remember when Richard Roundtree said that line,"I began to feel like a machine….and that ain't no way for a man to feel"), unfortunately this film reminded me that it didn't really need to be remade.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend


cecil b demented
director: john waters
Pretty weak entry from director Waters which I'm sure looked good and trashy on paper but on the screen it just falls flat. That's not to say that the film is not without it's more inspired moments of gross out humor, why does it seem that everyone is trying way too hard these days?
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  August 2000 [link] |  recommend


malibu's most wanted
director: john whitesell
My neighborhood theatre projected the first few minutes of MMW without sound, which was irritating enough, but once they finally corrected the problem, the movie got much, much, much, much, much, much worse. Stephen Hawking would walk out of this movie.
reviewed by: matthewS |  April 2003 [link] |  recommend


mission impossible 2
director: john woo
This is a sad case of been there-seen that and unfortunately it just isn't all that fun anymore. Tom Cruise primps his way (in slow motion no less, I swear this movie is only an hour long, but they run it at half speed so we can spend more time ogling Tom) through this weak-assed steaming pile of a movie which steals from "The Matrix", "Notorious", not to mention the original Mission Impossible movie (I mean he did the hanging in mid-air thing again), it's high time for John Woo to purchase another bag of tricks and go see what Chow Yun-Fat is up to.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend


made
director: jon favreau
Very funny movie about two awful boxers who become bagmen for the mob with disastrous results. While the story is really nothing new the best part of this film is the relationship between the two boxers, who play characters somewhat similar to those they played in “Swingers”.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2001 [link] |  recommend


little miss sunshine
director: jonathan dayton & valerie faris
It's funny. I laughed.
reviewed by: jen |  July 2006 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up


rachel getting married
director: jonathan demme
This movie annoyed me and made me physically ill.
reviewed by: jen |  October 2008 [link] |  recommend


manchurian candidate
director: jonathan demme
Sure, the mood is entirely different from the Frankenheimer classic (sinister replaces satirical and Corporation replaces Communist) but this engrossing remake offers up plenty of new twists and turns to keep fans of the original guessing. For my second sentence I just wanna say that A) musician Robyn Hitchcock is a most interesting casting pick, and B) the score is creepy as hell, with (caution: music dork terms ahead) a simple yet effective two-note motif and cello glissandos that give you (or at least ME) the willies...

...and they STILL come up with a way to make Shaw get in the cold water!
reviewed by: eric w |  August 2004 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


sexy beast
director: jonathan glazer
Thinking that someone had finally commited the John Lawton story to celluloid I happily plunked down $9.75 to check out this film. While it is in fact not about me, I found it to be a really enjoyable character driven crime film; it definitely takes a different angle on the criminal returning for one last job genre, and Ben Kingsley has finally exorcised himself of that pesky Gandhi fellow.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  June 2001 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


u-571
director: jonathan mostow
Loud (lots of depth charges going off) and sloppy (where did Bon Jovi go, anyway), this movie is a bit of a mess. There's a lot of scenes with guys staring as things blow up around them and the submarine starts crunching under the pressure and all the while I was thinking about how much I really like Das Boot and that Matthew McConaughey is so much more effective when playing a burnout.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend


save the green planet
director: joon-hwan jang
Imagine "2001: A Space Odyssey meets "SAW" meets "The Eighth Day meets "Les Quatre Cents Coups" meets "Mars Attacks." Not exactly a comedy–but if you're in the mood for something that defies categorization, this is a good choice.
reviewed by: victoria |  January 2007 [link] |  recommend


avengers assemble
director: joss whedon
For the first time in two months, I stepped into a cinema and experienced this wham bang boom super hero extravaganza. Afterwards, I wasn't sure what I saw, but I had to wear sunglasses on a cloudy day.
reviewed by: jen |  May 2012 [link] |  recommend


intacto
director: juan carlos fresnadillo (director/writer)
This strange Spanish sci-fi thriller is an interesting tale about a group of gamblers who play freaky-deaky games with chance. Drawing from TV's Strange Luck with a touch of Unbreakable this movie where the luckiest guys in the world have a face-off is an engaging love it or hate it film (which I hated, but Ben loved).
reviewed by: raquel |  December 2002 [link] |  recommend


knocked up
director: judd apatow
Knocked Up is ripe with humour and light on plot, a good distraction from the pain of every day worklife. Condoms not required.
reviewed by: elanamatic |  June 2007 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up


the 40-year-old virgin
director: judd apatow
I can't really say that this is a great movie in the "Citizen Kane" or even the "Animal House" sense, but I can't remember the last time I laughed this hard during a movie. Skip it if you are a pretentious git who doesn't like your sides to ache until you can't remember how to breathe.
reviewed by: Stu |  September 2005 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up


before night falls
director: julian schnabel
A somewhat interesting cinematic exploration of a
homosexual poet longing for freedom in 1960's Cuba. The
film would have been better if someone learned how to use
an editing machine. (Guest Review courtesy of Mr. Ian Katz,
sorry folks, I haven't been to a talkie in two weeks)
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  March 2001 [link] |  recommend


frida
director: julie taymor
Freida has a few fascinating and inspired typically Taymoresque visual moments incorporating Mexican imagery and Kahlo's paintings into an seemingly interesting tale of sex, pain and jealousy that isn't really taken full advantage of by the screenwriter. Evan F. says, "that Frida Kahlo, she had great tits."
reviewed by: raquel |  December 2002 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up


better luck tomorrow
director: justin lin
This breakthrough Asian-American teen flick reminded me a little of the Breakfast Club except 1) the kids aren't in detention; 2) the prom queen doesn't eat sushi; and 3) the prom queen doesn't put lipstick on with her boobs. But anyway, these disaffected Asian-American teens in Southern California are not satisfied with their perfect grades and being Ivy-league shoe-ins so they seek respect from their classmates in good ol' American style (ie guns and coke).
reviewed by: robin |  May 2003 [link] |  recommend



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