Welcome to my website!
Have you ever wondered why some critics review films? They don't even seem to like movies that much from what they write. I LOVE movies, and think about them long after the last credits roll across the screen. My reviews are meant to inform, entertain and never have a spoiler.
Enjoy my reviews and please comment and come back frequently! Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Shawshank Redemption

In my blog profile I have listed five of my favorite movies, and I think it’s time I reviewed them for you, beginning with The Shawshank Redemption. Stephen King wrote a short novel, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (which appears in the book Different Seasons
Different Seasons
). Frank Darabont adapted the story into a feature length screenplay. After I originally viewed the film, I read the novella, and concluded that Mr. Darabont couldn’t have done a better job of bringing Mr. King’s tale to the screen. Mr. Darabont also directs the film, and later The Green Mile. It is rated R for language and prison violence.

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is a banker convicted in 1947 of murdering his wife and her lover. He is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the crime, which he maintains he did not commit. Andy arrives at Shawshank Prison, where he has to adapt to the rough prison life, sometimes having to fight for his life. He becomes friends with a group of men, and especially with Red (Morgan Freeman), a man who has already served 20 years of a life sentence, and who is someone who knows how to get things smuggled into the prison. Morgan Freeman provides the narration in the film from Red’s point of view.

Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) believes in discipline and the Bible, and is as amoral as a prison warden could get. Andy’s skills on the outside as a banker and financial planner also serve him well in prison. I was initially worried about the violence that I knew would be depicted in this movie, but it is held to a minimum. I don’t want to say much more because I’d like you to be as delighted, moved, and surprised as I was, as the film unfolds (never let anyone tell you how this movie ends if you haven’t seen it before).

The story of Andy and his imprisonment is a metaphor for life, and the film is just brilliant. Beautifully written jewels of wisdom are sprinkled throughout the dialogue and narration. Thomas Newman composed a beautiful and haunting score for the film. The Shawshank Redemption received 7 Academy Award nominations, and didn’t win any of them. Yet it is a classic film, and once people see it, they will never forget it, sure to become a favorite for the rest of their lives.

This is the role Mr. Freeman should have won his Academy Award for. He lost to Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, which also won Best Picture. Had Forrest Gump not come along that year, it may have fared better at the Awards. I think that ultimately it is the better film, even though I loved Forrest Gump. The Shawshank Redemption is one of the few films I’ll watch again and again, just to be reminded of its message of hope.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Disney's The Kid

Bruce Willis stars in Disney's The Kid, a light family comedy/drama/fantasy rated PG. Children will enjoy this film as it is very entertaining and funny, and it is also a poignant film for adults to watch sans children as the screenplay goes deep into the psyche of middle age.

Bruce is Russ Duritz, a high-powered image consultant soon to be 40 years old. He is mysteriously visited by himself when he was an overweight 8-year-old called Rusty (Spencer Breslin). The question is: Is Rusty there to help Russ, or is Russ there to help Rusty?

Don’t stress out about the impossibility of the situation; this is a fantasy after all. Russ, although highly successful in his career, lacks all the important things in life: a wife, a family, and a dog. Rusty is very critical of this, and despairs that he grows up to be a loser.

Russ meanwhile is embarrassed by this young version of himself. Rusty is a painful reminder to him of all he has struggled to overcome. It’s fun to watch Rusty go after what he wants as an adult while only a child, much to Russ’ dismay. I know that sounds cryptic, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises for you.

Russ and Rusty finally work things out, and in the process of regaining memories of his childhood, Russ is able to see a brighter future for “them”, with all the important things present that he wished for when he was 8-year-old Rusty.

The film also stars Lily Tomlin as Russ’ long-suffering assistant Janet, and you may recognize other character actors Jean Smart and Dana Ivey. This is a very funny movie, and very touching as well. The screenwriter did a great job bringing childhood into physical form in the persona of Rusty, so that what could have been just a mental exercise digging into childhood memories in a therapist’s office, becomes a flesh-and-blood person for Russ to talk to as he sorts out his life.

Rent this one soon. And have your box of Kleenex handy.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

King Kong

King Kong, directed by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame, is outstanding entertainment. I missed it in the theatres, but I had the good fortune to view it on a friend’s wide screen TV complete with surround sound. The 187-minute film held my interest from beginning to end.

The story begins in depression era New York City. A film producer, Carl Denham (Jack Black) has notions about making a film on a remote island. He has an actor lined up for the male lead, but lacks a woman to star opposite him. He comes across Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts), a vaudeville performer hungry for food and work, and entices her to join him on ship to sail to the island to make his masterpiece.

Joining them is the author Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody). Ann and Jack quickly form a romantic interest in one another. I smiled at the sight of Jack composing his screenplay in the ship’s hold where animals are normally kept, behind bars.

Once on Skull Island, the action begins and what a ride it is! I flashed back to the Indiana Jones movies, as the nonstop thrills and chills are of a similar intensity. Ann is captured by natives and sacrificed to Kong. The men set off to rescue her, and as they make their way through the jungle, they have to battle some of the creepiest creatures I have ever seen on screen, creatures so awful, I sat curled up on the sofa, hands ready to cover my eyes, emitting sounds of panic as the humans struggled to survive and not be eaten alive. It is adrenaline pumping nonstop action during this part of the film.

Meanwhile, Ann has saved herself from Kong. He is brought back to New York City, and some of you may know the rest of the story, so I won’t say much about the ending. One of my favorite scenes in the film is set in Central Park and is visually stunning as Kong and Ann share a sweet, tender, playful moment together.

King Kong won three Academy Awards, for Best Achievement in Sound, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects. The film is rated PG-13 for frightening adventure violence and some disturbing images. Despite that somber rating, I will definitely see this film again, and highly recommend it to you. It’s a very well developed story with romance and adventure, the actors are great, the special effects extraordinary, and every frame is beautifully rendered to create the times of the depression, the sea voyage, and the beautiful, dangerous jungle.