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Eager rookie cop Jamie Lee Curtis has just graduated from the police academy and now walks down the street in her uniform with a satisfied smile on her face. These early moments in "Blue Steel" are incredibly bracing, giving Curtis some of the best moments she's ever had as an actress. The background information on her character (who lived in an abusive household) is unconvincing and sketchy, but one wants to like this movie so much that it can pass. What doesn't pass is Ron Silver's embarrassingly written and acted role as a stocks trader-turned-psychopath who becomes obsessed with Curtis after he watches her blow away a supermarket gunman. Silver, who later "chances" to meet Jamie Lee and romances her, is cruelly exposed by this lame-duck script and by director Kathryn Bigelow's anything-for-a-jolt handling. The picture is exceptionally well-made and had a great deal going for it initially, but slowly its potential leaks out, until there's nothing left on the screen but idiocy. *1/2 from ****
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Blue's Big City Adventure had a lot of spunk, heart, and musical numbers. The kids loved seeing the storybook land, Steve & Joe, Josh's voice, and the songs. My oldest son rated this a 9/10, as an adult I would have rated it a 5 (watchable once).The movie lacked plot, continuity, and sense most of the time. There's a night dancing scene right after he gets to New York (but it's day time with a same-day audition). Did not see the point in Josh talking to inanimate objects and them coming alive throughout the film- all it did was distract him from getting where he needed to go. Loved how all the main characters were willing to help one another but the "mystery" and "solution" of finding Josh didn't make sense (and didn't work). The "Blue's Clues" didn't help Josh find where he needed to go. A sad moment had my sensitive kid in tears (that was the only complaint he had for the movie was he didn't want to watch the sad part ever again). I disliked the phrasing of "this was Josh's only chance" for him to follow his dream- life isn't just the pursuit of one dream and a win-or-lose scenario! Even the cab driver told him it's the journey and he was still making it an all-or-nothing moment at the audition.The overall themes of following your dreams, every day is a gift, & supporting your family (and family can be the ones you choose) were nice but personally felt so over-the-top that they weren't sincere.There were several nostalgic moments for the older generations. Overall I just wish the story line was better. The actors have great chemistry & passion. I know this is a children's movie but it had the potential to be really special for multi-generations.Side note: the camera shots, angles, and movements were obnoxious. Lots of jump cuts/sideways shots which got annoying. There were a few unique shots that didn't make me nauseous.
The Blue Dahlia is directed by George Marshall and written by Raymond Chandler. It stars Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix & Howard Da Silva. Plot sees Ladd playing a navy officer who returns home to his unfaithful wife after fighting in the South Pacific. When she is found murdered he is the number one suspect, he must find who is responsible before it's too late.Legend has it that Paramount Pictures were so pleased about the success of Double Indemnity, and in particular Raymond Chandler's writing on it, they handed the writer a contract, where, he produced this tightly wound film noir piece. Nominated for an Academy Award, Chandler had in fact had to give up his teetotaller way of life (he was a recovering alcoholic) so as to gain inspiration for the story. Also of note is that his original ending was shelved after objections by the U.S. Military Department, shame, because I believe that an already good film could have been a better one with Chandler's original denouement. Oh well, what's left is still rather rewarding to the genre faithful.After This Gun for Hire and The Glass Key, this was the third pairing of Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake. Their working chemistry set in stone, it's nice that the film doesn't solely rely on the pair to make Chandler's material work. True enough their scenes have a tenderness to them, acting as a sort of warm place to go to when the harsher aspects in the plot hit home hard, but the film is far more than just the Ladd & Lake show. What marks it out as a worthy point of reference in the film noir cycle, is that it delves into the psyche of the servicemen returning home from the war. Observing how they were being received and showing that some of them also carried emotional scars as well as those ones gained in battle. Then Chandler mixes it in with a hard-boiled murder investigation as our wrongly accused protagonist trawls the mean streets of L.A. searching to clear his name. With that comes grungy premises' and periods of brutal violence, all cloaked moodily by the competent Marshall. Ladd does good work, very appealing yet tough, but it's Bendix who steals the movie with an intense portrayal of an ex serviceman with psychological issues.With the original ending and a deeper exploration of the war veterans not being warmly received on homecoming, The Blue Dahlia would have been close to being a genre classic. The script and Bendix ensure, tho, that it's still very easy to recommend to like minded fans of the genre and its dark alley offshoots. 7.5/10
Pete Bell (Nick Nolte) is the hard-pressed college basketball coach of Western University running a seemingly clean program. Reporter Ed (Ed O'Neill) has been hounding him about an alleged point shaving incident four years ago. He has his first losing season after winning a few championships. He pushes his team to recruit harder. Butch McRae (Penny Hardaway)'s mother Lavada (Alfre Woodard) wants to be compensated. Farm boy Ricky Roe is more interested in girls. Neon Boudeaux (Shaq) traveled a winding road under the recruiters' radar and scored horribly with his SAT. Pete uses his ex-wife Jenny (Mary McDonnell) as his tutor. His idealism is constantly being worn away by school booster Happy (J.T. Walsh).Nick Nolte holds this together as much as possible. There are many cameos. It's overloaded and some of it is unnecessary. There's no point in having Larry Bird. The movie has so much already. It could trim some of the extras. It has to tighten the first act because it is still waiting to introduce the new players. It's not until midpoint when Shaq finally shows up. Shaq doesn't deserve his Razzie. He's got natural charisma. It's also hard to make this team an underdog with Shaq around. The college ball corruption discussion can be overwrought but I'm fine with that.
"Revenge, at first though sweet, bitter ere long back on itself recoils." - John Milton, Paradise LostKilling has become so routine in movies today that no one blinks an eye when half a dozen people are slaughtered in the space of thirty seconds. Not that many people die in so short a time in Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin, however, but the violence is, as the director himself describes it, "brutal, shocking and disturbing." The main character, Dwight (Macon Blair) is an inept bumbler but one who is driven to exact revenge for his parents murder, a decision that leads to many and varied dead ends, both literal and figurative. Though Dwight is not an especially sympathetic protagonist and is more often than not, an object of laughter, his presence throughout the film is captivating with Blair's performance superbly capturing his emotionless banality.Set in rural Virginia, we know little of Dwight's background and there are no extraneous sub-plots, one-liners, fatherly mentors, or love affairs to distract us from finding out. He is not mentally ill, bullied in school, or a man seething with anger, but a lonely and isolated individual doing what is expected of him in a society where violence is equated with manhood. When we first meet Dwight, he is a long-haired, disheveled, and generally unkempt-looking individual who you would probably want to avoid if he was walking behind you late at night. Down on his luck, he sleeps in a rusty old blue Pontiac that looks about as scruffy as he does, eats food out of garbage dumps, and sneaks into people's homes to take a shower.We only find the cause of his present state when a supportive policewoman tells him that Carl Cleland (Brent Werzner), the man who was in prison for killing his parents has just been released after serving many years. Revenge is swift and bloody when Dwight follows the newly-freed man into the men's room at a bar and stabs him to death with a knife, an attack that leaves no doubt that stabbing someone in the throat produces lots of blood. Unthinkingly leaving his registered car at the scene of the crime, Dwight, now clean shaven and looking like any suburban businessman, knows that he has opened up a war between families and that his sister Sam (Amy Hargreaves) will be targeted by the rest of the Cleland clan, stereotypically good ol' boys.The Cleland's decide not to call the police but choose to keep the feud "in house," forcing Dwight to send Sam and her two small children out of town, while he waits for the boys to arrive and they don't let him down. Though he somehow manages to escape after overpowering brother Teddy (Kevin Kolack) and locking him in the trunk of his car, he has an arrow in his leg that he tries to remove it himself with much moaning and groaning. Finally relenting, he lets the doctors finish the job at the nearest hospital (one wonders how many patients the doctors treat with arrows in their legs because they curiously don't ask any questions).Dwight knows that he needs weapons, however, if he is to stay alive and contacts Ben (Devin Ratray, Buzz in Home Alone), a friend from high school and the rest of the film unfolds in an unpredictable, but quietly riveting manner. Winner of the FIPRESCI award at Cannes last year, Blue Ruin is an intense character study that, in essence, is a cautionary tale. While it doesn't glamorize violence, it has enough of it to make us take notice. Though the Bible (Exodus 21:24) tells us that we should take an "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot," Gandhi's response that "an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind" seems to be more the point that Saulnier is making. 041b061a72