Ann's Reviews of Semi-Recent Movies

Wells | AnnMovies

Boy, you can tell that it's been awhile (1997!) since I worked on this page!  Everyone has done a few movies since these, but they're still good.  

Braveheart: I saw this on the first go-round, but it's worth seeing again. Mel Gibson does a great job on the battle scenes, and a respectable job on the rest of it. This isn't how it really happened, but once you put aside the expectation of seeing history, it's just a great movie. My Aunt thought that there was too much violence, but no one agrees with her.

Dead Man Walking: This is a very POWERFUL, very thought-provoking film. I am a supporter of Capital Punishment, or I was. This film is making me consider my position again. It is not a prettified story, Sean Penn is not an innocent man, or even a good one. But he is a man, and the film makes the point that killing is wrong, no matter if it's done by an individual or by a government. So, I guess that I'm changing my stand. That still leaves the question of what do we DO with our violent criminals, but this is not the forum for that discussion.

Leaving Las Vegas: Elizabeth Shue and Nicolas Cage are both excellent. But the story is truly depressing. This is not a 'light' film. Partly, this is a cautionary tale about the effects of alcohol and I might use it on my son if he ever starts drinking.

Dunstan Checks In: Okay, the chimpanzee has the best lines (and lips!), but the cute kid and his hardworking, long suffering father are almost as good. I wish that I had thought up such good pranks when I was a child. Not much plot, but Faye Dunaway plays the hotel's owner as a great villainess. With a rehabilitated Peewee Herman as a wildlife catcher/tamer.

Waiting to Exhale: I'm not a black woman, but if those guys are the normal run of who's out there, I would opt for spinsterhood. The way to tell the good from the bad guys: only good guys keep their pants on. The 4 women actresses are good, Angela Bassett is excellent.

Persuasion: This is a good time for period films, isn't it? A faithful adaptation of Jane Austen's book. Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, as the couple who eventually gets together again, are excellent. It is a good ensemble cast, everyone was believable.

American President: Michael Douglas is the (very liberal) President, Annette Benning is the beautiful lobbyist, and you can guess what happens. Very predictable, but everyone does a good job. fun to see.

Get Shorty: John Travolta's second film in this comeback, and more proof that the man is talented. Danny DeVito is fair as the movie star that everyone knows MUST be in the film they're working on setting up, Gene Hackman is totally believable as the director of grade-B monster movies, and Rene Russo is good as the movie star/ex-screamer-in-monster-movies that Travolta lusts after. or maybe it's love?

Babe: this is one of those movies that both kids and their parents will like. The tale of a pig raised with and by sheep-herding collies is believable, once you accept that they can talk among themselves, it's just that we hear their speech as barking, "bah-h-h-ing" or "oink"-ing. . Lots of good advice about how to live (like valuing diversity) wrapped up in a sweet story. And the mice as a Greek chorus are hilarious.

Up Close and Personal: Everyone says that this is really the story of Jessica Savitch, and mention is made in the credits to the book, Golden Girl. But really, this is the plot of "A Star is Born", applied to the television news business. Michelle Pfeifer looks good even with brown hair, and Robert Redford doesn't look as tired as he has lately. I kept thinking that it was all going to work out fine, and they'd have the ending any second now... But it all follows the old plot. The supporting cast is very good, especially the black cameraman (why can't I remember the names of these people? They're good!) Stockard Channing is completely stiff, not just her jaw, as fits the role. And I wish that I could know these people in real life.

Broken Arrow: Okay, the plot has holes in it that you could drive a train through. But you don't really notice until you're walking out. Christian Slater proves that he has a future as an action film hero (and great arms with which to hold the girl), and I was VERY pleased to see that the girl here (Samantha Mathis) is competent and not just along for the ride. John Travolta has great fun with the bad guy role. And just how many helicopters do they destroy by the end?!?

Beautiful Girls: The girls are much more interesting than the guys, especially Rosie O'Donnell (O'Donnell's drugstore rant should be required watching for all males). Uma Thurman and Annabeth Gish aren't given chances to develop their characters enough, but then, neither are any of the guys. Everyone might be a very interesting person, but at the end, I just didn't feel like I knew them.

White Squall: It all fits together very neatly, and you know from the first 15 minutes how it's going to end. See it for the sailing footage, which is worth all the rest. Jeff Bridges as the captain, and a nice ensemble cast for the students.

Mr. Holland's Opus: 30 years as a teacher. Richard Dreyfuss gives a GREAT performance, and Olympia Dukakis is good in a minor role. The first 15 years are covered in detail, then we skip to his retirement. It's a long film, but I would have liked to see what Dreyfuss learned/how he coped in the second 15 years. I wish that any/all of my high school teachers had been that perceptive (or honest!).

Restoration: A very bright, colorful movie, with a good cast. Robert Downey, Jr. is a gifted physician who comes to the attention of King James, shortly after James' Restoration. Sam Neill plays the King, with many a lifted eyebrow, and a calm assumption that he can, will and Should order everyone's life for them, or at least everyone in the court. The story is rather complicated, but Downey gains a wife (in name only) and an estate. He loves the wife, loses the estate, regains his self respect as a physican, learns what love really is, loses that love, but gains another(a daughter), almost loses that love, and then (finally) has it all: a daughter's love, the estate that he has come to love, and a profession that he is good at and loves. And so they all lived happily ever after. Robert Downey Jr. is good here, his face shows all his character's emotions so clearly. And the supporting cast is very good, especially Ian McKellan as the Estate's Steward.

Bed of Roses: a great date movie, although the plot has a few holes in it, and the characters are not entirely consistent. Mary Stuart Masterson at first distrusts Christian Slater so much that she might zap him with one of those tazer weapons, and then kisses him just because he shows her his rooftop garden? Come on! This is New York City! And some of the teaser scenes did not make it into the movie, which is sad.

Toy Story: Finally, an American animated movie that an adult can like also! The characters are real, there is actually a plot, there is character development, and it all looks VERY good.

Two If By Sea: Sandra Bullock is very good here, and Denis Leary tries, but the script doesn't give him much to work with. I wish that his character here was as sharp as his character was in The Ref.

Richard III: Truly well done. Ian McKellan is magnificent- smooth-talking, always plotting, lying to everyone but himself (and the camera), and just a great nasty. The rest of the cast is great too, especially Dame Maggie Smith as Richard's mother, the Dowager Queen, and Adrian Dunbar (from Hear my Song) as Tyrrell. Classic Shakespeare, done as well as possible

12 Monkeys: Madeline Stow is good, Bruce Willis once more proves that he CAN act, and Brad Pitt shows that if he grew up some, he might be able to act. In this one, he doesn't even have great hair to help, just distracting mannerisms. The story is set as science fiction, but it's really a chase/whodunit. With an inevitable, tragic ending.

Heat: Al Pacino brings his drive and singleminded-ness to his role of a cop in charge of investigating a string of major thefts, with a few homicides thrown in as clues. DeNiro is just as good as the head thief. Kilmer's role is small, but well done. A few holes in the plot, and I'm certain that real cops don't behave/conduct investigations this way, but still a good time.

Sabrina: Why is Julia Ormond always playing the woman in a love triangle? Does she think that she can't do anything else? She's competent here, but not as entrancing as Audrey Hepburn. The scriptwriters saved just enough of the lines from the original movie that we keep making comparisons. Unfortunantly, this one keeps showing as a pale shadow of the original. Harrison Ford is good as the workaholic older brother.

Sense and Sensibility: Emma Thompson is great as the 'sensible' sister, Elinor, and Kate Winslet is good as Marianne, the one with 'sensibilities'. Alan Rickman plays Marianne's lover just as well as he did the villain in Die Hard I. Hugh Grant as Edward, the man for Emma, and Amanda Plummer ('Honey Bunny' in Pulp Fiction), as Edward's sister who is also Elinor & Marianne's poisonous sister-in-law.

Shanghai Triad: a richly dark look at life in 1930's Shanghai, where the only way to get ahead was in the Triads, climbing over the dead bodies. The cinematography is great, I kept wanting to reach out to touch the walls, fabrics and reeds.

Contact | Updated 28 August, 2005
Wells | AnnMovies