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Film Prophet's Movie Reviews Page 15

 

Gran Torino (2008)
Starring Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed by Clint Eastwood, a Korean War veteran is the only white person in a Detroit neighborhood full of Japanese and aggression. Walt Kowalski played by Eastwood protects his neighbor, a Hmong teenage boy, who once tried to steal his car. Gran Torino is actually his 1972 car he has in his garage and part of the story concerns it throughout. The movie is full of name calling, racial slurs, and a violent Japanese neighborhood basically coming from one gang. Eastwood bringing in the Hmong teenage boy to a barbershop on how to have a man to man talk will make the audience laugh hard when the boy calls the barber an ‘old Italian prick.’ The others also dish it out as they take it. Practically everyone is a vocal bigot and then acts tough as Eastwood reassures that some have humanity. Although Eastwood’s character is one himself, he teaches them how to be an American with tolerance. In a movie that's such an urban drama, there was plenty of humor in this lenient paced film with funny and intense scenes. Eastwood grumbles and growls his whole performance. He’s a grumpy, but quirky old man who can't live down what he did in Korea. It is delight to watch him insult everybody and he's always been great at doing so. However, no one could really hold up acting next to Eastwood in plenty of scenes, especially when his character's estranged son and daughter-in-law communicate to him on his birthday. The other performers appear to all have first time roles. Eastwood directs this movie and he controls the entire movie on screen too. When he was ticked off, the film went straight to an irate type of mood. When he was chill, he was still bothered. The film is mostly interested in Eastwood's part because people go to see him on screen while he says ‘get off my lawn’ with a rifle. Walt Kowalski attempts at coming to peace unwilling while failing to connect to his two grown sons and defining life and death during interactions between him and a priest. He goes to solve problems of his neighbors when he is very reluctant to. He just wants to be left alone with his Pabst Blue Ribbon and his dog at home. It’s the type of movie knowing the gang is going to come around and try to kill him. It’s also personally satisfying that the movie occurs in the dirty Detroit. Though, it is awkward how most of the attempted assaults take place during broad daylight. After Walt receives poor news about his health, he makes amends with his past and moves on to redemption.

Final Grade: B+/B

In Bruges (2008)
Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clémence Poésy, Jordan Prentice

Film Prophet's Review...
The first initial thought heading into the movie was that it's just going to be another banal English crime-comedy that's a bloody mess and not funny like it aims to be. To no surprise, that's what it is, but even worse, the unlikable Colin Farrell is at the helm. It is although Colin's best performance, but that's not saying much since he's had a load of duds during his career. A tale of two hitmen hide out in Bruges, Belgium after a difficult job in London. As they become entangled with tourists and the locals, their views on death alter. It appears the two men who are friends can't really stand each other sometimes, although not true later. Most of the movie plays out with the interaction between the two in the beginning as sometimes it seems like they're the only two characters in the film who matter. Immediately one should know the f word floats around by the two men involuntary also. Ordinary conversation occurs between the hitmen who are essentially bored and just waiting around. Jordan Prentice is a midget in the film who looks exactly like the best midget actor ever, Peter Dinklage. The two men wander around checking out the gorgeous backdrop. The cinematography is solid. The movie never seems to take off, until much later when it is too late, with an inexistent plot of just hiding out In Bruges as tedious discussions happen in an unexciting movie about hitmen. If it wasn't for the scenery in the background, it would be a quite fruitless. It's really all European location. There is no connection to anything going on in this insensitive film. For one thing, it's not a comedy as there aren't even attempted jokes or behavior that would be close. There’s an abundance of racial jokes about people from other countries and dwarf jokes that all fail on many levels. Strong language with tons of swearing is not funny too. Many viewers probably couldn't care less what happens to anyone in the story just as they don't care about anyone in it either, but again, before much later. A sense of guilt undertakes the two hitmen after one of them botches a previous job and the movie becomes even more worthless to continue watching… that is until Fiennes shows himself. Ralph Fiennes starts as a voice on the phone who gives out orders and he is never shown until much later. He's the reason to actually stay tuned to watch the film as he's the second best part of the film aside from the cinematography. There’s nothing else going on to pump some juice in this film. The long, big finale of a gun chase around Bruges during a snowy night is abiding to say the least.

Final Grade: C

Doubt (2008)
Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Joseph Foster, Mike Roukis

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed and written by John Patrick Shanley, a Catholic school and church in the sixties goes through change as a Sister who goes by the book has her suspicions that are hostile to the Father who is accused of having relations with a black boy student. These two characters are both antagonists and protagonists in a way. It is Streep as Sister Aloysius Beauvier who starts out and is mostly the antagonist and the intolerable joke by Father was subtlety delicate. The Father’s opening sermon puts the viewers in the position to have doubts as he becomes secretive and uneven to the Sister who has a knack to open up everyone. The setting is Saint Nicholas Church School in the Bronx and the entire film is pretty much there. Acting and dialogue doesn't get any better with legendary veteran performers in meaty roles and material. It wouldn't be the same without them. There are two huge verbal scenes in the principal's office that are quite lengthy and these scenes are perfect for drama. It is the highest drama possible by exchange of words with characters and direction that stands out with the issues. The script sticks so closely to the one conflict at hand. It is provoking and argumentative and it all starts with the uncompromising disciplinarian of a Sister with an old-school attitude played by Streep. She is super strict and there is no pleasing her. Tiny details get to her. For examples, pens and sugar she prohibits. Streep in this role is dead on daunting to the children and even the viewers. Her wrath shows great determination. Philip Seymour Hoffman holds his own in his scenes with Streep and very few actors can do that. His portrayal is self-assured with just enough doubt to make viewers wonder. Amy Adams is a young, kind-hearted Sister who is caught in the middle of the two sides so she relates to the viewers the most. Just by the look on her face displays the depth and matter… it was great acting already when the film just showed her positioning. The fat steak scene with her and Streep at the Sisters’ dinner table is hilarious. Viola Davis arrives later in the movie and has a short but great performance as a bothered but realistic mother. The student roles are fleshed out enough for those kids who meant something to the whole act. It is a strong little film, but calling it a little film is an understatement. The script is powerful along with the performances and the direction and those carry the film's weight over being just little. This movie was along the lines of There Will Be Blood… Meryl Streep put on the year's best performance similar to Daniel Day Lewis' the year before. The matter about change and remorse are ongoing and never answered and thus everyone doubts the beliefs they have.

Final Grade: B+

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Starring Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Chris Messina, Patricia Clarkson

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed and written by Woody Allen, Vicky and Cristina visit Barcelona on a summer vacation in Spain and become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife is about to re-enter the picture. Vicky is practical and also engaged as a love triangle ensues to more than just three people. Vicky and Cristina’s names are united under the one movie title so it shows they’ll share something in the film. There’s a narrator who states the obvious and this voiceover sounds like an audio tape record for a book that is so plainspoken and dull. Woody has to work with an immense cast in a small film. Locations are also a big element as much as the performers are. Allen has moved away from the familiarity of his New York City to European locales of late. The film moves from fancy locations to tidy dining like Woody has recently done with his settings in his most up to date films. Meanwhile, the annoying voiceover narration explaining everything continues as it goes along and it was quite unnecessary. It was a lazy way for a Woody Allen movie to express the storytelling. Javier Bardem plays the painter as a gentleman. His amusing introduction to two women contains the most comedic deadpan moment in the movie. ‘Life is short, life is dull, life is full of pain, and this is a chance for something special.’ The movie sticks with this scene with the droll dialogue and the well-acted performers longer than they should go on and it’s the best scene in the movie. Bardem acts as a rather carefree womanizer and his character connects to the very easy going and simple manner in this movie. Part of the film seems trapped by the beauty of Scarlett by just her presence alone in the beginning and she creates attraction mindlessly as she's so relaxed. Bardem pursues her but when it shifts to just Bardem and Rebecca Hall, it somewhat loses that beauty and turns it into exquisiteness resorting to site-seeing, wine drinking, and just too much kindness. There are zero explosions and action scenes. It’s just charming performers from the delights of sexual encounters to a summer of tourism to soul searching. The anticipation of Cruz’s supporting role awaits and it occurs midway through when Bardem seems to take the leading act as he has the most importance to that point with almost every character as well as the majority of the scenes than others, although all he tells Cruz is to ‘Speak English.’ The movie is soft and light-hearted with very few dramatic pulls. Later on, it loses focus on characters as there are too many. It could have been stronger had it more time to dedicate on them instead of being spread out especially after all of them are introduced. It went from the first hour or so of charm to ambiguity of a movie that is not truly a comedy and it doesn’t intend to be. It tries to define love through young adults as the empty conclusion leaves the viewers with only the pleasure of watching the adult characters mingle around with appeal.

Final Grade: B-

Revolutionary Road (2008)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, David Harbour, Kathryn Hahn, Michael Shannon, Kathy Bates

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed by Sam Mendes, the movie is set in suburbia fifties and it centers around a marriage lacking on hope and choice with false idealization. Their exterior creates frustration within at their inability to be fulfilled with their relationships. They decide to change things up with a move but their miserable relationship still deteriorates into an endless cycle to jeopardy. It is not what they'd envisioned it to be. Misery is even experienced by their neighbors. Their marital despair causes agony, but it is so well acted by the two leads. ‘If you don't try at anything, you can't fail.’ The acting and dialogue are both top-notch here. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet go toe to toe backed up by strong supporting acts such as from Michael Shannon and Kathy Bates. Winslet personifies personal dilemma and cold emotion with her expressions that are both believable and flawed. It's what the best performers do, but here with despair too. DiCaprio achieves this too but in his own way. He varies with emotion and defends his adulthood. He displays charisma even when he first interacts with Maureen from work. This is a movie that improves by each imploding scene. It paints a suburban couple as having empty lives. The point is that they surround themselves around nothingness that drives them crazy. In the opening minutes, they first meet and socialize as the film skips right over wedding or anything like that and they're already married with distress arguing over little things to keep things simple. It does this to signify the rush that took place by moving fast. Next moments it shifts quickly without a narration, fade, or text as they have two young children. In the meantime, they complain about careers, living location, who else they talk to, and the like. This is what happens when they don't have true excitement, so they go creating a Paris travel plan. Another example is when they park on the side of a street and they yell at each other when they get out of the car to dispute and even later on in the movie they are still unable to communicate how they truly feel about situations. With all this that goes on between the couple and the mad acting, viewers can get the impression of the movie Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. It's an actor's movie also of married couples just acting livid at each other. This movie pinpoints humdrum activities and conversations that a young married couple living in the suburb would get tired of and doing things just because they are right to do. Happiness can only be achieved by compromising into a stale existence with two disconnected people. Either way, Leo and Kate share instant chemistry in every scene together. Leo is also a company man commuting to a lifeless cubicle and doesn’t like his job. ‘Actually it's, well sort of a stupid job really. There's nothing interesting about it at all.’ Michael Shannon's neurotic performance as mental patient is a nice surprise after forty minutes when he meets the couple. Other great scenes are when Winslet announces she is pregnant to Shannon and Bates and an intense and calm scrambled eggs scene with a discussion that is fantastic after a heated argument the night before. This eggs scene which was mildly hilarious starts a day to a contemplative but bittersweet ending accompanied by Thomas Newman's brilliant breathtaking film score.

Final Grade: B+

The Wrestler (2008)
Starring Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Ernest Miller

Film Prophet's Review...
The story tells the agony of an eighties-era pro wrestler named Randy ‘The Ram’ near the end of his wrestling career long after his body has had enough of it. The career is sliding down for the aging wrestler as he does local matches at wrestling clubs and gymnasiums. He is living in a trailer park in New Jersey and twenties years have gone by since his best moments, but he is still well respected by his peers. Rourke plays this character with a muscled and damaged body, and adequate exhaustion and desperation while rekindling relationships still with aspiration. Marisa Tomei gives a fine performance as Cassidy, his stripper friend and interest who is also past her prime. Evan Rachel Wood as his estranged daughter he never sees fits this picture. ‘There's no more fixing this. It's broke, permanently.’ A hard rock and roll soundtrack fills up the music remarkably for the eighties style character behind in the time, and even Madonna's Jump song plays. There’s a scene where he plays an old Nintendo game with a kid and the kid talks about a new Call of Duty game Randy has no clue about. The wrestling violence is choreographed to the point to show it is real and the matches are presented in a way that they are believable. Darren Aronofsky does an excellent job putting all of this together with closely intimate camera work to make the audience feel the pains Randy goes through. It captures his private moments by putting the sole focus on his step by step of daily mundane activities. The beginning has the sole focus on a day of the wrestler before any female comes into his life once more. It’s in a forlorn state of accustoms to little or no hassle or problems leading up to and after his wrestling matches, such as steroid intakes, weight lifting, long hair grooming, bandaging up before a match in the dress room, going to stripper bar, tanning, and so on. The camera is on the one character in every scene, usually behind him when he walks, and using all angles. It’s a compelling character study that the camera usage puts to the screen. It works excellently when he entrusts right into his first wrestling match. There’s huge emphasis on pains during a wild hardcore match along with crowd chants and the effects after it along with showing on how to actually use flashback properly. The movie almost has the impression of an indie looking small film and it feels like something Gus Van Sant would do. Nothing is fancy or over the top and it has a slowed down pace with a straightforward and blunt approach. Rourke’s performance is brutally realistic like the film. To show the authenticity of Randy’s desire for acceptance, he does want he wants to do. His attempts are flawed and heartbreaking as he seeks what makes his life worth living for and where be belongs before his time is up. The movie is not so much about wrestling after that hardcore match, such when he begins working at a store serving deli meats. The ‘a little more, a little less’ scene pushed the movie over the edge to where it was waiting to finally go with vigor along with the ‘I'm here, I'm really here’ part later when the audience understands the sacrifices Randy is about to make. It brings amazing momentum leading to the final swing going out on top.

Final Grade: B+/A-

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Jason Flemyng, Jared Harris, Tilda Swinton

Film Prophet's Review...
Director David Fincher’s scope and vivacity of humans in this film is unmatched by nearly every movie in its release year. Narrated backwards from Benjamin's journal entries and postcards, Brad Pitt stars as the man aging backward. He’s born as a small old male and ages from birth in reverse. It takes about an hour until Benjamin shapes into Brad Pitt full form as he is presently. Benjamin is serenely uplifting, never angry, and kind, as he is granted many unanticipated opportunities and connections during his life. Running at almost three hours long, the story unfolds about a man's complete life including his significant times. If any movie was compared to Forrest Gump, this would be the one and it's just as engrossing and sweeping. Both were written by Eric Roth. Like Forrest, Benjamin began as an outcast. Although Benjamin couldn’t go outside the perimeters of his home at a young age, both had a cure in their legs and walking ability. There’s the war time period, nicely placed humor like when people call Benjamin an old man, visiting numerous locales around the world, and experiencing many close deaths. The reactions Fincher gets from the audience during these moments are golden. Benjamin worked on a tugboat with a feral captain, almost similar to Forrest and his shrimp boat, and meets several nameless characters who play big supporting roles in the life of the protagonist. Other characters are Benjamin’s biological dad, the lightening guy being struck seven times, and Taraji P. Henson as the caring woman to give the old looking child a chance at growing up. A romantic relationship plays out as two people reunite at several points during their young adult years mostly. The spirited Daisy played by Blanchett becomes sultry with work like Jenny did and just about forgets the man, but both end up from the beginning years to the final years. There’s a hummingbird that appears as a symbolic device on and off like the feather. The submarine attack on the Benjamin’s boat and crew is the most violent the movie gets and the most painful part comes near the end through seeing a baby dying. It’s based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, though the Hurricane Katrina setting from the narration just happens to be convenient to insert in the film since most of it takes place in New Orleans. The makeup is one of the strong points in the film. For example, taking Cate Blanchett from a young woman to an old woman and having Pitt in the face to appear older and younger looked impeccable. People come and they go in the life of Benjamin. He becomes younger on the surface as the people around him grow old. It ultimately poses the question, how will we each die and what memories will be left. This is a movie for all ages.

Final Grade: A-

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Starring Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto, Irrfan Khan, Madhur Mittal

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed by Danny Boyle and based on a book, it’s a story of a poor Mumbai kid who goes on the Indian version of the television game show ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ as he eventually is arrested for allegedly cheating before his segment finishes. In the midst is his search of the love of his life. The movie is edited and overlapped from the start with the game show where Jamal, the orphan from the slums, recalls childhood memories to answer the questions. Jamal tells the story of his youth in the slums to the inspectors where he and his brother grew up and their adventures together and ultimately encounters with local gangs and of course the girl he loved and he loses. Orphans live through hardships and find ways of making money surviving with street smarts. The despair enters the narrative and it is what makes the movie so different because Jamal keeps his integrity. It’s done edited with a non-linear way of storytelling revolving around the game show and the side effects. It cuts to various memories of this young man as a third world protagonist who recalls a fragmented story for every present game show question as the movie shifts to his childhood growing up in the slums to discover his harsh reality behind every unique answer. The storyline plays with Jamal thinking back to his street experiences in order to answer the questions, but the questions are not even that difficult by standards and they go in order of his lifetime. Though not really emotionally sound, it is splendidly photographed with its locations in Mumbai and more with the sound effects and the song of 'Paper Planes.' The beginning has some real quick edits moving from scenes to scene, character to character in different locale in a heartbeat moving along quickly. Boyle chops up the past and present segments in non-chronological order that later connect the obstacles of Jamal. American audiences are unfamiliar with the cast of unknowns so viewers could think they are closely suited to the characters in the film than their previous roles or anything like that. Dev Patel plays Jamal and this is his first movie ever. He acts his lead character as a confused and bewildered individual just as he looks and has not much to say most of the time but appears omniscient of everything that brings him back to his vicious childhood which divides the movie switching between the past and present stories how his past leads up to present. One might ponder each of these childhood sequences if they serve an actual purpose to the present time but some before the middle appear needless in this urban drama. Sooner or later, it is evident Jamal has no desire for winning the money because when he answers the questions correctly, he shows no emotion. He is more interested in finding the girl than winning money on the show.

Final Grade: B+/B

Role Models (2008)
Starring Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Elizabeth Banks

Film Prophet's Review...
A reckless behavior stint forces a pair of energy drink reps to enroll in a Big Brother program in this adult-kid bonding comedy. The grotesque behavior is just enough and it’s not to be overly done and can be enjoyably funny in some parts. The performers execute silly dialogue and gags at precise moments and times. Seann William Scott holds the lead role and consumes all of it quite well under the typical comedy film. Him and Paul Rudd parade around in schools for the first ten or so minutes telling kids not to do drugs and substituting them with an energy drink. Elizabeth Banks’ role is so flashback to what she just did as Miri in Kevin Smith's movie from beginning to end. Banks gladly disappears for the fun parts when the two guys start hanging out with their kid assignments. Seann can't grow out us his profane adolescent behavior character because this is what he does best and Rudd is standard with his deadpan. As result of their comedy together, both and with their child assignments have chemistry right away. On day two of their assignment, the movie begins to lose some of the comedy value the movie had on day one for a more settle down approach with the kids than comic delight. Still, the oddball adult characters mess up their lives and try to make a positive impact to the two oddball kids. Everyone has problems so it is eases audiences to identify with them. There’s a modest amount of foul language bordering the appalling type of raunchiness side. Even though there are plenty of kids in it, the subject matter may be of course than what nineties comedies used to enclose where now it’s an unfriendly R rating with a PG premise has some profanity and nudity. The jokes range about breasts and dicks from candid sex chats with the two pre-teens to cocaine and a white Ben Affleck joke. Jane Lynch who plays the Big Brother director nails her performance as a former cocaine addict now fully dedicated to her job. The third act is a bunch of attempted apologizes and trying to make up for mistakes that eventually leads into a medieval fantasy role playing land of nobles and swordsmen that controls the entire finale which is twenty or so minutes of everyone meshing together.

Final Grade: B-

Frost/Nixon (2008)
Starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Matthew Macfadyen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Rebecca Hall

Film Prophet's Review...
The political interview movie follows David Frost, a British talk show host, surrounding the famed 1977 television interviews between him and former president Richard Nixon. It covers Nixon, the first president to submit a resignation, after his presidency is over with. Though, the interviews don’t begin between the two until the second portion of the movie after it sets up some anticipation to the actual confronting positioning and it is divided up by days for the interviews. It’s a battle of an interviewer and interviewee to a grand scale of who has the upper-hand, as Bacon character's addresses it in one of the short side bits, as a boxing match. However, there are no grand standpoints like there shouldn’t be to this story. There are very little dramatic pieces in this Biography-Drama until a half hour elapses when frustration boils Nixon over Watergate questions. These points are kept to a minimum and when they happen, they erupt for like five seconds and that is that. It’s a historic account of a reenactment with impersonations aimed for audiences who experienced the time and decade of the seventies, or Nixon buffs. The ensemble plays dress up to seventies attire and there are several countless sit down interviews with other actors who talk about Nixon in bits. The best catch early in the film is the small supporting act by Toby Jones as Swifty Lazar, but he’s only in the beginning just because he simply looks different and he's feisty. Kevin Bacon looks mute through most of the film and just stands there as a background advisor to Nixon. Matthew Macfadyen had a complete makeover to look like Frost's producer and most people probably couldn’t even identify it was him. Langella does not necessary look like Nixon, but reconstructs him as what most of this movie does and excels at it. One might be wondering if this movie is in fact necessary since the subject has been beat over and over with. The movie recreates parts from the actual interviews. There’s an elongated unexpected phone call at night from Nixon to Frost later in the movie and the cheeseburgers punch-line near the end of the film is neat. It’s not the type of film family audiences will buy into and really shouldn't, although it never feels boring but it's not really exciting ever and anywhere in it. It is astounding that the movie knows how to stretch one center subject to about two hours surrounding a series of interviews. The first ten or so minutes is ‘Nixon is leaving’ followed by another ten or so minutes of gently discussing whether to go ahead to do an interview with Nixon and that he'll accept. Both sides have a big opportunity also to prove to themselves and their peers. Ron Howard directs with a carefree approach and it’s wholly professional to every aspect of filming… nothing is over the top or too heavy. Still, All the President's Men is still the more entertaining and perceptive film around the subject.

Final Grade: B

Milk (2008)
Starring Sean Penn, James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Alison Pill, Victor Garber, Diego Luna

Film Prophet's Review...
It’s assumed most people are not familiar with the winning Harvey Milk title story. The movie focuses on the true story of Harvey Milk and how he was elected as the first openly gay city councilor in San Francisco in 1978. It follows how he got there, how he got people to help him, his various campaigns before, his lovers, and his tragic murder along with the mayor of San Francisco by Dan White. Aging black and white picture quality to actual flashbacks of the era with newspaper headlines opens the title screen. Penn sits back and narrates his story on a tape recorder from eight years to the past to his current state of his narration. The mix of the archival footage and the movie itself makes it appear just like the seventies with no artificial representation. The movie is not shy to tell the audience the fates of a couple of characters in the opening of the film since after all it is a true story, so how the movie gets there to the end weighs in on a man inspiring a portion of the country's population. Gus Van Sant's homosexual political film is so credible and it all starts with Sean Penn from his sincerity, compassion, and purity as Harvey Milk. Sean Penn is among the greatest screen actors of nearly the past thirty years with his range and selective roles. There is much warmth and humanity to Penn’s moving work as Harvey Milk and he nuances at his mannerisms well to role. He smiles so often with humility as he catches the hearts and minds of many in the movie. The audience will begin rooting for him due to his sensational personality and following support. When Franco and Penn share their first scene together, instant chemistry transpires and one is natural to smile, or even chuckle, as the two men smile so big innocently face to face. There's an inexplicable purity not only in the characters, but the movie too effortlessly in how it portrays them with taste in the movie as a whole. It starts with the interaction of Franco and Penn and only their interaction before any interruption from the outside or activist movements take place. It shortly shows the wholesomeness of being together without a third party view. The audience subconsciously should demand more scenes between the on screen couple of Penn and Franco because they’re the best in the film. Penn seems naturally charismatically as everyone else magnets to his performance just as he posts a death threat letter on a refrigerator. Brolin doesn’t step into the film until like forty-five minutes later to pledge his support for family values on the council though he’s not treated as the typical villain. Harvey Milk dedicated his life to creating equality and giving people hope. Van Sant avoids any nasty flamboyant stereotypes in subculture San Francisco and puts sympathy into a few scenes. For example, the scene when Penn receives a call from some boy in Minnesota or the 'I could have come back at six o'clock instead of six-fifteen' scene. ‘The more out you make us, the more you incite them.’ The movie tells a fresh and poignant story of as a genuinely kind man getting into simple, casual campaigning on the street at first and rising to some power. ‘Privacy is the enemy.’

Final Grade: B+

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
Starring Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Katie Morgan, Jason Mewes, Jeff Anderson

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed and written by Kevin Smith, the movie revolves around a man and a woman living together in debt as they enlist in the help of their friends to make a porn video for some cash. For the final third of the movie, Zack and Miri realize that they might have feelings for each other than they previously had thought. The movie begins in winter season and eventually there’s racial Black Friday dialogue that’s quite funny. However, a chunk of the first hour contains profane humor that goes off without any rules. Pretty much over half the script contains profanity or a crude reference with comeback lines that are either one of two things: sex or profanity. This is what the majority of the movie contains anyhow as it fits in what the movie's premise surrounds and even the title of the film. Though, there is no real porn in this movie. The recorded sex scenes are not too graphic, but there are plenty of flashes of the anatomy along with foul language of course. Most discussions involve sex practices in a humorous way. The long high school reunion sequence with Justin Long didn't move away from this as they all talk about problems that deal with the same. Rogen’s character always seeks and looks to engage in the topic. He screams furiously when something surprises him. Some of the humor tone goes toward this direction of his reactions then turning them into a sex joke or antic. ‘We are just talking about sex and it's for purpose to get rich.’ Roll out the abundance of f words and when it's said too much, it loses its funny value. There’s also an extremely awkward choice of songs for the movie with too much range in genres and time periods. The middle portion is where Zach and Miri realize the opportunity then discuss possible concepts for their video, including tossing out comical creative names and casting individuals, all while expecting to hear and see what would be done in the process of making a porno. A goal of a comedy film should give the audience something new to laugh about, but most of the movie stays the same for a long time until it takes a sentimental turn in the final third with a dilemma about Rogen and Banks possibly with having sex with others and it gets totally unfunny and tangled when Miri and Zach realize they feelings for one another. It goes from a crass comedy to a romantic-comedy just like that focusing the story more on the romantic aspect. Kevin Smith’s regulars, Jason Mewes and Jeff Anderson, play small supporting acts. The leads in Rogen and Banks do keep some of their dignity on screen by not showing anything physically.

Final Grade: C+

The Duchess (2008)
Starring Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper, Charlotte Rampling

Film Prophet's Review...
Set in Eighteenth century England, the movie tells the story of Georgiana Spencer, a notoriety of her time after her wedding to the Duke of Devonshire. The movie sets up gracefully and captures the essence of the gorgeous cinematography and it doesn't hurt at all when Keira Knightley is in the costume period piece. Cheerful and exuberant Keira shines as the central character. This is the typecast she's been in with her past few roles and relishes in every single one of them as the star. Sometimes it's just her presence and expressions alone that carries this movie when there isn't much going on verbally, even during the intimate scenes she shares with Fiennes, but no sense of humor anywhere from him. She plays the wife of a Duke and marries him as soon as the movie starts going. Minus the drama about wanting a male newborn and some forced love making scenes, the Duchess is ultimately to be the mother of the Duke's children from an affair he had as she cannot birth a son for the Duke. While this happens, Georgina finds a real love who she can’t give in fully for her children and people around the Duke. There may have been inadequacy in the movie that could have added something new to the period drama genre that hasn’t been seen before. Behind the top-notch acting and scenery, there isn't much in the rear what is visually seen. Females wear big corsets and males wear wigs and similar things are very standard. It is a well crafted movie with set designs with a story that sheds the light on what it means to be free from judgment and pressure. Essentially, it's about class structures entertaining each other at formal parties with aristocratic men and things aren't all cheery. The Duke is unfaithful which makes up for a bitter second half and tries to keep Georgiana with him even though he has no passion. She even shows more interest in politics than her husband as he makes toasts than being with his wife in labor or fathering. The story is just familiar with the rest of its kind, like The Other Boleyn Girl of wanting a new born son as an heir, an inability to conceive a boy, but not up to the dramatic measures it was. Again, the film pleasing to look at rather than grasping any dramatics which are mostly void. It’s more of a soap opera surrounding various newborn babies in and out of wedlock. There’s great attention to scenes handled with care and music scores, as people go around parading in front of social events and scooping up in infidelity and forbidden affairs.

Final Grade: B-/C+

Changeling (2008)
Starring Angelina Jolie, Michael Kelly, Jeffrey Donovan, John Malkovich, Jason Butler Harner, Eddie Alderson

Film Prophet's Review...
In the backdrop of a twenties Los Angeles period, director Clint Eastwood examines a brutal story about child loss, police distortion, and a murderer. It is based on real life facts of a woman whose son disappears. Months later, police tell her they have found him, only she says he is not her son. The movie sets up the twenties scenery in the beginning from costumes and living style to the monotonous score with dull shaded blue and black colors. It transports the audience right into the era. A single mother takes care of her son while the movie spends about its first ten or twenty minutes to show and emphasize this period of time. The dim mother-son relationship plays in front of the surroundings but it is plain and simple. Nothing special happens until the son goes missing and when the mother searches for him as the movie misses something more than what is simply portrayed. However, when more things are added later to the early basic story, it becomes muddled and brimful and detracts from the central character. The melodramatic movie shifts from a child missing to abuse treatment in the psych ward to a gruesome killer plot to kidnapping investigation to a long resolution. ‘If you smile too much, you're delusional. If you don't smile, you're depressed. If you remain neutral, you're emotionally withdrawn.’ There’s a limited amount of characters from the start and time for them to do anything to develop until the investigation force takes place. A chain of ‘that is not my son’ scenes occur and afterwards, the film confuses itself whether it wants to play out as a mystery, crime, or horror piece which is unknown. The mother finds things physically and mentally different with the son she receives that leaves more doubts that he isn't her real son. Jolie does deliver a powerhouse performance who is treated unfair but at times she seems overacted but that may because nothing else really goes on during her big moments in the beginning besides heavy production values and raw acting for the first third of the film. A woman wanted to be heard then the later portions show about child abduction parts and her stepping aside for other superior people finally doing their work and she becomes a passive character. It loses dramatics after the protagonist, a distraught mother at the disappearance of her only child and determined to find the truth behind it, eventually gets support behind her and in the court room. It moves away from her but it’s no better and turns into a child murdering crime story where none of the previous issues were ever truly resolved until they are all at once about thirty minutes before the end. The whole supposedly theme of the movie was blaming police for mistakes they deceive about and the consequences that happen elsewhere.

Final Grade: B-

Quantum of Solace (2008)
Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko, Giancarlo Giannini

Film Prophet's Review...
The sequel takes places right after the end of Casino Royale as Daniel Craig reprises his role as James Bond. Here, Bond sets out to stop an environmentalist from taking control of a water supply. M lays photographs in front of him and explains his assignment. Craig seems to have plenty of poise and demeanor during his interactions, but the Bond film was lacking outside of the action and ingredients of a Bond movie. Minus some of the action and Craig, the film was just deficient. There were no fancy gadgets to play around with than a mobile phone and there was no grand entrance for double zero seven either. Even the third mission impossible movie had characters using gadgets during exciting sequences. There are tons of stunts, jumps, loud noises, and a lot of debris that follow as Bond walks away harmless. It's also edited precisely that it looks really fast than what in actuality looks like. It glides away from the original concepts of Bond and tries to advance the franchise by duplicating what recent fast paced action films have done already. Violence bursts in plenty of locales like the ones from the Bourne series out of the blue ranging from martial combats to leaps out of buildings. If Matt Damon was Bond, it'd be too similar to the Bourne series. Bond fights while running around and the enemies are not identified who just got beaten. Every enemy in Bond's way is arbitrary. The villains and the Bond girl’s plans are vague for the most part. All the background characters have no real significance. There’s little insight and time dedicated to them. The cast is also unrecognizable outside of Craig and Dench and they’re centered on action to captivate viewers and hold them. Dench is in the film just as much as any other character and the Bond girl played by Kurylenko is more of an ally than a darling interest. ‘Get in.’ The movie moves from one exotic location to another. Around the middle of the movie is just terrible. Without bond, these background characters just go in and out of scene changing locations every minute. It can't hold one decent scene together for over a minute without breaking it up with action or a change of exotic scenery during the rush of pace. Action scenes joint the film together rather than any use of true dialogue. A few inside jokes only the characters would understand happen. The story is fruitless and uninviting while Bond is almost immortal as he just can't be defeated.

Final Grade: C+/B-

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Starring Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner, Sam Levene

Film Prophet's Review...
The movie concerns a rigid gossip columnist who has a controlling temper for his younger sister and dominates the lives around him, especially his P.R. agent who does favors for him to get him space in the newspaper column. In this black and white picture, everything is mostly shot during the night where there are more black colors than white and the black colors are dark. It’s set with a noir touch of New York City's night life in a seamy environment. The story is over a course of about two very long night sequences. The city is jammed with not only flashing lights, billboards, and bundles of newspapers, but adults. These adults are full of greed and cynicism; the unglamorous of the glamorous spots dinginess in nightclubs and restaurants. The only time to know these people is during the night when they're sleazy. No one starts or ends up really happy and they maintain being lousy and to others. Grumpy men are distressed over columns not being printed and display menacing and bitter flaunts over tabloids and publicity and how they handle it. It’s all unsympathetic because the men all act stern. They are mostly fuming or sarcastic. The first twenty or so minutes the women are interchanged being paired up with Tony Curtis during the first long night scene out in the city. The movie is also very anti-romantic with plenty of selfish moves as Curtis moves in and out of different places at night he chats with a new woman every so often it seemed and it flows under the radar. Well-dressed people listen to jazz music at the clubs while columnists and press agents float around and act as sophisticated street hooligans in suits. What's on the outside is not always what's in the inside. It still looks like they are in business formal clothes going to work when they are out at night and not having true fun. They're all mid-aged adults too. There's no one really young besides the sister. There are virtually no brawls despite the constant drinking and repulsive attitudes. The sharp dialogue is sometimes too much to keep listening to in the same tough-talking columnist tone on the street at night. It goes no where now and then and slows down during the night as they become pitiful and wretched exchanging lines back and forth that are endless resulting in few drama bursts besides the words. The plot of the movie gets knotty trying to figure out who is doing what to whom and it is blurred with who is with who. It becomes further uncurious as it repeats the same night format. The only consistent character is that of the lead by Tony Curtis, but he is trapped in the manipulation of romantic and business associations.

Final Grade: B-

The Ice Storm (1997)
Starring Kevin Kline, Tobey Maguire, Joan Allen, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Sigourney Weaver

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed by Ang Lee, the story centers on two married couples and their teenage children in a wealthy suburb. As a husband carries on an affair with the wife from the other couple, the teenage kids explore their own sexual boundaries in the middle of the Nixon era, drugs, and the excess of the seventies where a television is now found in every home. Family turmoil is nuanced and kept distant in the film pretty much. The children step outside of their social norms left to their own upbringing. The movie is tight and realistic; a complete solemn mood is stressed through the icy landscape and the Japanese numinous music score. The movie has patience with its conveyance of its material and it delivers. The cast does a wonderful job and has instant chemistry. They give their best efforts to not only their characters, like the attraction young Ricci creates, but what they each offer to the film in a way of a nostalgia emotion. The drugs and sex conducting during the political time frame works well. When characters are uncaring and unsympathetic between others, the movie undoubtedly becomes empathic when they are oblivious of their consequences to their decisions. The friction between the characters was tremendously done; there were no blown portions and they’re accomplished to settle as distressed. Ang Lee's direction helps this realism strongly to engross the story. Each person is complex, none of them are perfect, and each holds their own flaws. Praise to Lee for not rushing anything and giving time without a tedious note. The depictions of dissatisfaction with family and school life are provocative and crafted. Everyone is seeking for answers sexually. For the adults, a great example is the key party and for the children, the part at night in a house alone where Katie Holmes asks Maguire, ‘Paul, are you gonna get home okay?’ and the look on his male friend’s face displays enormous subtlety to what that meant. The ‘I'll show you mine if you show me yours’ scene captures the epitome of adolescence. The kids are open to what they want while the adults tend to conceal it. Yet, both age groups are parallel in the film to both understand their relationships. Mostly reclusive, they all don't know how to proceed with anything but don't go to extreme or wild measures or wallow away. There’s great symbolism in the film. One scene has Kevin Kline cracking ice for ice cubes in the kitchen or the movie shows rain frozen somewhere realizing the film is called the ice storm, a bracing detachment, and there will be an ice storm to come. The photography of that ice storm is excellent too. Discoveries and the development of the parents and their children are made but it all rises on the personnel level too with Ang Lee’s smooth direction and how the performers represent themselves.

Final Grade: A-

The Iron Giant (1999)
Voices by Eli Marienthal, Vin Diesel, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Christopher McDonald

Film Prophet's Review...
In Brad Bird's first motion picture venture, this animated tale is set in a fictional town in Maine about an adventurous boy who befriends a huge, metal-munching, but congenial fifty foot iron robot in the woods. When townsfolk begin to wonder why their automobiles are found with large bites taken out of them, they begin to track for the culprit and the government tries to get the boy to lead them to the Giant. This movie was among the last big animation pictures of standard two-dimensional drawings before computer generation images broke free. Coming to realize though, the cartoon dimensions were flat and the details in the background weren't too dense. Running at ninety minutes long, it is a child friendly action movie, but that doesn’t go without some anti-Cold War themes. The film is also based on a children’s book set in the fifties. Roughly ninety percent of the movie concerns the friendship between the robot and the fatherless boy against the efforts of odious government agents to destroy the misunderstood Giant. It easily brings back notions of E.T. where a lonely boy befriends a one of a kind being. It is the boy and no one else from the start as he meets this robot in the woods. One might wonder how this robot has been unnoticeable for so long in the deep forest. The boy teaches the robot things in the forest and ways of human life or even fixing a railroad. Camera views are always low on the robot which is great as it is never dead on, low from the boy's view to make the robot larger and maybe ever scarier than it appears. However, nothing outside of this relationship happens. It’s a boy meets robot, becomes friends, and then departs. The robot is in fact the most interesting character even though it doesn't really speak. The dialogue between government agents and any guy in a suit isn't as demanding to watch or listen to as witnessing the robot on screen. There are sticky situations where the boy tries to conceal the robot from his mom and authorities when the robot is away from the forest habitat or the junkyard. Most of the human characters in this movie were humdrum. The government agent Kent Mansley is the most irritating person in the film. As predicted, moral choices of personally deciding what's right and wrong are issued. The film is against hunting and the authority, preaching whenever the human characters are on screen, and then it eventually turns into an anti-gun, anti-nuclear film. As when the robot says, 'I am not a gun,' just after, the robot is fired upon. It’s more mature than childish, often sad at times. There are no cute characters or humorous gags. There just wasn't anything great in the movie either to say this part of the movie was better than this other animation picture's. It is a little film and a simplistic story with political suggestions.

Final Grade: B-

City of Ember (2008)
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway, Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Mary Kay Place

Film Prophet's Review...
In this sci-fi fantasy adventure where people have moved to an underground town when the planet's atmosphere grows toxic, a child becomes a messenger because the job will allow her to venture above ground, while another works underground to repair a generator that contains the town's power supply. Based on the children's science fiction-fantasy novel, an underground town was built to house a human community for two hundred years as a shelter. During the movie’s release period, there was poor marketing and it could have been bigger than what the early reception was getting. However, it was planted where it should be. The abnormal set design fits the fictional standpoint with flickering lighting, sounds of being underneath a railroad, and an entire world that's falling apart. A not strong enough exposition opens up the story that sparks little attention. A big part of the movie deals with the children roles and what they are assigned to do. They report to duties to help the town, follow instructions, and that's it. Music runs off like it is some kind of adventure following kids to do blue-collar industry jobs. The movie might bore family audiences after twenty minutes. Everyone in the movie was so worried, like finding food and not being able to go out of the perimeter of the town. Much of the time is spent wandering around in dark paths without a threat, besides some moles and moths. 'You were right. There’s nothing but darkness.’ It runs around while people fix pipes or patch up something else. Some strange problem occurs in the tunnels and they follow the noises to see what else is breaking down. No real conversations or dialogue happens between the characters as if the script was written to create bland scenarios to ruin the little underground town. The town is the most important piece of the story; characters are just there to help sustain it. Murray and Robbins aren't given anything substantial to do and maybe have a third of the film time total. Both have somewhat mean-spirited characters with egos. The best of the bunch is Saoirse Ronan but all she is given to do is look wondered and amazed. Everyone else acts so methodical, business like, and they only care about the town and most of the people are selfish. It is actually much worse than the fantasy picture Stardust. Here, there's no humor or communication that develops somewhere worthy of human tenderness. Another poor aspect of the film was that the town setting was jumbled up. At one point characters look at a ripped map and they go from point a to point c and skip any direction in the middle. There’s no transition between scenes. They just end up somewhere breaking up the continuity of the underground setting, which would be important to have since the town is number one item in the film and it doesn't have anything enthralling to connect everything together.

Final Grade: C/C-

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen, Rockmond Dunbar

Film Prophet's Review...
Robert Downey Jr. is a petty thief sent out to Los Angeles to research a movie role after an improbable audition and work with Val Kilmer as a private investigator. They find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation in this comic crime story. Michelle Monaghan makes for an anomalous and attractive femme fatale like in old noir film as an aspirant actress. Downey is the narrator in his own story describing people and his views on things. He is never annoying and he blends into the storytelling because it is his narration that guides the movie from introduction to the drama. However, his narration breaks up the film picture and pause it to interrupt the movie saying a scene was pointless or says he was a bad narrator in a previous scene and then corrects his cynical self to agree with what the audience was most likely thinking during it. He knows he's talking to a movie audience. There's much less of this though during the movie though, sadly, but maybe not since more of it would have been pompous. It seems like voiceover scenes are missing to explain something but perhaps the narrator deliberately forgot to include his outlook and explanation or push it off in the middle of the story. Inside of Downey's acting digs a fascination and ignition right away that makes him comical and shrewd… just see his fake acting audition in an early scene. He commands attention to his performance and to what he says on screen. Dialogue is spoken in a chaotic manner while the story unfolds being creatively different offering a few quick surprises and laughs. Plenty of jibes are made during the film and the film doesn’t take itself seriously so the audience shouldn't either. Sometimes it's frantic and ludicrous with its silly humor violence and wordplay like The Big Lebowski meets Fight Club except a much lesser version of both. ‘No biggie? A guy grabs your tit, that's life, no biggie? I mean what kind of talk is that?’ The biggest distraction in the movie was a cut off finger that seemed to play out throughout the movie. The murder case keeps developing as it gets more complex with shootings that wear off with the numerous, countless goons. It goes further out of control all in less than one week of the movie’s story. It’s far-fetched and sketchy in places and the plot doesn’t seem important. Audiences will find liking and watching interactions and see what next idiotic mess of adultery they get into than mostly anything else.

Final Grade: B/B-

Appaloosa (2008)
Starring Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons

Film Prophet's Review...
Ed Harris directs, stars, and co-writes in a story adapted a novel centering on a pair of friends in New Mexico hired to protect a lawless town suffering at the hands of a renegade rancher. Ed Harris is a gunman to be the town’s marshal who acts like a bad guy. Mortensen is some humble traveler. The arrival of a widow disrupts their plans and bores the film. It has what a sixties western in color would be made out of with the music score, landscapes, horses, guns, and all that. However, anytime, which is most of the time, men sit around and talk about tedious laws and regulations, it is tired out until some sort of interruption takes place, preferably a notion of violence but that never happens. The film opens the men characters with random shootings close to each other, but there aren't the archetypal face to face shootouts or gunfights. There should have been more standoffs than dull talks. There aren’t even the clear cut heroes or villains and they appear like a group of boring murderers. The motivations of the characters are never clear either and no one fits neatly into any old western stereotypes. The underdeveloped characters all seem the same and there's nothing that really separates them. There are no big events for them to grow some characterizations. There are pacing troubles too plodding along while the men scope and peer around the frontier. The town is also lifeless and there is no sense of happiness or families or anything worthy of it being a town. Another problem was that the film had a landscape, but it was empty of anything appealing. The set was kept to a minimum for some reason and the cinematography was lacking awfully. When the woman arrives in town, it becomes very slow and useless. Her role could be eliminated entirely since it provides plenty of the dull and long moments during the movie as the woman and marshal relationship could have been cut out. They seriously slept walk through their roles since there was no straight focus on anyone or any storyline. The movie does not pick up any concentration and it goes the whole duration without any kind of crucial conflict. It quickly becomes stale like Ed Harris' humor in the movie. Too many times does he and others just sit around on patios of pubs. The movie didn’t put in material that was anywhere near gripping and it barely progressed.

Final Grade: C-/C

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
Starring Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks, Robert Armstrong, Noble Johnson

Film Prophet's Review...
The central premise is around a hunter on an island who chooses to hunt humans when they arrive abandoned for a sport. It’s a story of an animal hunter being hunted by a human just as that. The movie commences right on a ship with hunters and sailors on board and their suspicions about the destination route and the captain. It doesn’t last too long as the indecisions made the ship foreshadow what's to come on the island. One of the men who was being eaten by a shark yells, ‘It got me,’ which is humorous due to the poor writing. The film also runs at a mere hour and fifteen minutes. Fay Wray steps in a bit later as a vulnerable woman who just screams, but she is the only female in the cast. The chasing doesn't begin till the final twenty or so minutes, which is after the night the survivor gets acquainted with the habitants on the island at some castle. This is the introduction of Count Zaroff by Leslie Bank who appeals as a cultured individual who eventually rises so to say as the madman hunter. The talks during the exposition about hunting drag for almost a third of the time till the action sequence happens. One can get a weird vibe with the men with beards who just stare, but all audiences should know what's bound to happen since it is all talk in the beginning about hunting and it is so obvious that it carries out so long before it actually begins. By the time it rolls around, it isn't as exciting anymore as it should have been. Perhaps this area could have been edited down and then expand the jungle scenes a bit or even have the madman hunter hunt some other humans in the jungle before the lone survivor. The survivor and the woman dodge through the jungle from hounds and the best scene in the film is when the survivor sets a tree trap and hides out in a cave watching onward. The film throws in many genre aspects, such as adventure and horror, being through the jungle and being chased by an enigmatic person on unfamiliar territory, which turns out to be a private island run by the madman hunter. There are only a handful of strong thirties films that haven't aged through the decades. This movie is somewhere in between. The plot isn’t sophisticated, young audiences might lose some interest due to the late beginning of the actual hunting after the men discuss about hunting for a stretch of a time at the castle, but the film is short in run time again and the film isn't too noteworthy overall. It might actually warrant a new version of it but there's been plenty of tales alike it.

Final Grade: B-

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
Starring Bette Davis, Victor Buono, Victor Buono, Maidie Norman, Wesley Addy

Film Prophet's Review...
The movie starts out with the childhood years of two young sisters with one being a popular stage kid singer on stage. This is Baby Jane as her introduction as the movie's titled character to be played by Bette Davis. From that moment in her life, Jane has never really moved forward and finds herself rehearsing the same moves and lines she once did as a child as an adult now. When Jane and her sister grow older, they live together with a maid in an old mansion and Jane still throws fits when she doesn't get her way. Jealousy and envy play out from both sisters in this classic story of sister rivals. Both had budding film careers that were flushed down. It can be said it is a parody of their real lives, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, as aging actresses in their fifties at the time with popular careers in the past doing macabre roles. The black and white motion picture is a realistic decay of Hollywood actresses and yearning the past like in Sunset Boulevard with an All About Eve twist. A controlling madwoman fades away because she is obsessively impelled by her childhood memories. There isn’t much of a story going on in the film as it develops the sisters from their growth during their big times of career down to living together and despising one another. It’s like that for about two hours of the two hours and fifteen minutes runtime. Old ladies sit around wearing unsightly costumes with pretty looking objects inside their house and watch older pictures. The former child star’s sister is crippled to a wheelchair so she is restrained to the upstairs bedroom for most of the movie. Before then, she pushed her sister out of the movie spotlight. Now, she feels caged in and confined to her room upstairs while her sister gets madder by the day. It surrounds the two sisters who are emotionally perturbed as they fight back and forth doing miserable things to each other. It’s either bickering or silence for the most part. Besides that, there are some horror aspects. For examples, the dead animals on dinner plates as a sadistic prank by one sister and it’ll get worse when one ties up someone in bed. There’s by and large complaining and a few frenetic moments. There are solitary things like phone calls, drinking alcohol, playing piano, and of course, nagging on one another too. For example, yelling about selling the house. The quiet tension is between the sisters and does not make a big splash to the viewing audience as it’s very melodramatic. The film can be trimmed down by a half hour by reducing the empty moments of no discussions or any tension that have signs of little progress for either sister in the movie. The same sort of scenes occur that are mimicked over again during the movie like the annoying buzzing sound of a bell for attention, talking about the finances of the house, and just two older sisters never getting along.

Final Grade: B-

Burn After Reading (2008)
Starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton

Film Prophet's Review...
The goofy spy film surrounds a computer disk containing memoirs of a CIA agent that ends up in the hands of two dodgy gym employees who attempt to sell it. Directed by the Coen brothers, favorites Brad Pitt and George Clooney return under them but don't team on screen until about an hour which is succinctly for an instant in a bedroom closet scene. The humor in the movie is near morbid as they act serious with slurs coming out their mouths then there’s a moment of silence after it to have the paranoid characters comprehend it. It’s the type that won't make audiences laugh but sort of understand the screwball behavior which isn't too outlandish. There is not one scene or conversation to make an example out of that has laughable comedy in it. Something was missing in the first dozen or so minutes and that was Brad Pitt to turn the gears for his small portion as a dimwitted gym employee. The movie appeared to be a story about John Malkovich making a memoir shifting to Frances McDormand's neurotic desires of cosmetic surgeries. The script wouldn't be enough without the quirky acting like when McDormand first speaks with her doctor about the procedures. It’s a story about frantic people who follow other adults acting inane and childish, as there are several different things going on. It all moves around infidelities which cause small events, like dating and blackmail. Swinton really had nothing to do but act cold toward Clooney sometimes in bits. There’s tremendous paranoia surrounding Clooney's character who thinks everyone is after him in the second half of the movie. If it weren't for the cast list that acts poor material in an attempt to be funny that isn’t, it would be absolutely no where close to the adventure comedy it advertised to be. It is a silly drama that has concerns about jobs, marriage with divorce actions, and weight issues and the like that deals with aging boring middle aged people who are unsure of themselves and don't know what they want to be doing. There’s way too much marriage infidelity ignoring the issue mainly by not making it big even though it happens often in the unexciting movie. They act hysterical and over think on many occasions because they have nothing else to do and the movie’s pace portrays this well by playing it unruffled and not fast despite going at roughly ninety minutes total. There are several petite stories about different characters that all have plenty of agonizing and worrying. It's like a dead dramatic serial with people sleeping with whomever without the big romances. Someone even says in the movie about the characters, ‘so we don't know what anyone is after.’ The ending is dumbfounded, sudden, and inconclusive.

Final Grade: C+/C

Body of Lies (2008)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Golshifteh Farahani

Film Prophet's Review...
A CIA operative is sent to Jordan to track a high-priority terrorist. The spy is aided by the head of Jordan's covert operations that leads to cultural and moral clashes between the men. Directed by Ridley Scott, the political war effect surrounding the Iranian government is quite similar in premise to last year’s dreary movie of Rendition and its star-studded cast that didn't turn out well. There is not much difference between the two really, except Rendition had slightly more punishment and torture. Most people should be over this subject matter of affairs in the Middle East and their relations with America and tired of watching it in a lifeless movie. ‘Ain’t nobody likes the Middle East buddy. There's nothing here to like.’ One would question how the script would move beyond the dullness of modern intelligence operations. When it begins, the conversations start out choppy and uninteresting and it soon needed to provide some interest to the story. Mundane talks about safety, kidnappings, executions, and negotiations won't do it. The execution assignments are brief and somewhat of a mess. DiCaprio would walk through in some desert or crowded marketplaces and the movie would cut between monitors in a room of agents then satellite images of a bird's eye view of what’s going on, followed up by watching artificial news reels. It's the type of action where one can't tell who is shooting at whom and why and understanding what's happening within the shootings. There’s no purpose that comes with or before these scenes as they just fly by. Crowe sits in front of monitors scheming and eating while DiCaprio does all the foot work. Crowe really doesn’t get to do anything, besides packing on pounds for this part and working again for Ridley Scott, but he is much better than this. He says everything in an oblique monotony, which could be the reason, but his character is gone for lengthy portions in the film. There are plenty of Muslims and guys in suits as extras and they all are not dynamic overall. DiCaprio also has a romance a Muslim nurse. Meeting her sister and nephews pops out from the scenes in the movie but it seems like an extra part that's needless to the center story, but it easily the most human scrap of the film. As the movie title points out, there are several lies in the movie, but none big enough to mention. There really isn't a betrayal where so many films end up to either as it shows ambiguity in the intelligence field. The topic has proved over the years to make movies dull, but it is kept in a way that is realistic, but it is not an engaging experience whatsoever.

Final Grade: C+/C

Sleuth (1972)
Starring Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Alec Cawthorne

Film Prophet's Review...
In form of playful charades, it’s a mystery film based on a Broadway play that has predictable surprises. Michael Caine’s character is invited to an old estate of Laurence Olivier’s character, as he is known for his involving puzzles and games. Two British men in suits on some country home chatter and it is assumed Olivier is the antagonist as he is the one who proposes a scheme to his wife’s lover. The two received Best Oscar Actor nominations for their roles in this. They basically have the entire speaking parts in this one movie. Only two characters have lines and dialogue to speak. It’s mainly a two man show, minus an inspector who shows up in the middle when another sidesteps his way, but still there are just two men to hold a movie for two and a half hours. The duel starts out as a contest of old wits than games. What goes unnoticeable is game number one of a lawn labyrinth maze to the house because the opening credits still are playing basically but it’s just strange to have one. The games aren’t sophisticated or daring when they begin. As a whole, it’s a cat and mouse game to outsmart the other, but it’s just trivial excitement for the two men who come up with plans. Sometimes, it’s goofy. For example, Caine dresses up as a clown to steal the wife's jewels. Olivier has these irritating little speeches where he raises his voice and talks too fast as he is overexcited. The dialogue solely is between two men who appear to be the gentlemen type with the type of conversation where nothing is really talked about but the talks are constant without small breaks. They do get to know each other's background and talk about the wife who never shows besides pictured in photographs. These talks would turn off modern audiences and not understand the endless chatter. This movie is one of the few older movies that may be dated to mainstream American audiences. There is no cinematic display, it’s inside one setting, there’s tons of untamed dialogue, and none of it thickens anything up. It would bore most people as it’s not at all compelling. There are no big taunts between the two men really either and they don’t construct any deep panic. The atmosphere is a huge house that feels empty with lots of items and antiques. The whole movie happens all within this one lonely setting. It’s a nonstop series of two men having joy in the film than some audiences might enjoy it.

Final Grade: C

Eagle Eye (2008)
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Chiklis, Rosario Dawson

Film Prophet's Review...
An innocent young man, whose older brother just died mysteriously, and a single mother find themselves framed as terrorists. They are forced to carry out plans from a computer voice for a political assassination. The film opens to some muddled communications of unknown military personal in a five minute beginning. There’s no steam in this until Shia appears to do something, but all he does is run and yell to a disappointment. Before he gets to that, there’s a numbing, forlorn mourning over his dead brother for about ten minutes. After that, it just features Shia walking around looking at miscellaneous items without a destination in mind, ducking cars and the FBI. There's no suspense before or during unwarranted explosions and sirens. After a half hour into this, it was a pain realizing it was only a quarter a way through. The frantically edited crashes and effects are aimed to awe mindless viewers. Even the scenes of regular, but futile talk are entirely dry. Any scene of authority figures that cut in the middle of this drivel is also just as uninteresting and tedious. It tries to be like a modern and technological advancement of Enemy of the State and The Game, but those were more realistic within the setting of the film. Here, it's computer versus human establishing a surveillance and government arc. This technology has the plan to execute the president because he is not doing a proper job, so electronics tell the two characters what to do and how to proceed with it. Nevertheless, no matter how clever the computer is, it still needs humans to do their work. Cell phones call them and tell them what to do. There’s no prelude to any of the computer voice command contact and the audience is left with the same clueless expression as the characters are in this senseless excess. By the time the film heads into the finale, a careless final half hour that's shoddy leaves indifferent concerns to anything going on. Minus the stars and expensive effects out of this film, one could tell it could have been made with the idea for some poor school festival or something. It has an inability to create virtually anything intriguing or cautionary on today's society on cyber terror attacks like it set ought to. Two people follow voice commands then head into some moving vehicle followed by the next command to the next movement to no where in particular than just computer voices explaining where to go and what to do. These scenes don’t advance anything. Viewers could get off their seats, go else where, and return to watching this and see the same thing and not miss anything. It is easily Shia LaBeouf's worst movie to date, although Constantine is close. It’s an empty motion picture that delivers fake thrill over nothing worth following.

Final Grade: D/C-

Mallrats (1995)
Starring Jeremy London, Jason Lee, Claire Forlani, Shannen Doherty, Ben Affleck, Ethan Suplee

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed and written by Kevin Smith, it’s about two suburban teenage slackers who go to a shopping mall after being dumped by their girlfriends. One guy’s girlfriend has to fill in to be on a game show at the mall and the other guy is so inattentive to his girlfriend and more attentive to his video games that she leaves him. Time is killed at the mall easily and it is toward much waste in the movie until the dating game show in the mall and this is where it culminates at the taping in an attempt to win back their girlfriends. They’re typical slackers by the male characters with no direction in a slacking movie. There are references of the things from nineties culture, like sixteen-bit video games and grunge music, even with Star Wars and Batman, in an attempt to be like a recreation of the bland The Breakfast Club of the eighties with teenage slackers. The lead guy looked way too much like Will Friedle from Boy Meets World and thought it was actually him for quite some time and not this Jeremy London, who was actually in 7th Heaven. Both guys in the movie discuss their insightful problems with their other slacker friends at the mall. This is Jay and Silent Bob’s second appearance in a movie together after their debut in Clerks. They appear to add the cartoon flair with physical gags and plans that end up in embarrassment. Among everyone, they find meager teenage problems that don't have any wit or jokes to them, but that is when the movie isn't trying to be a comedy, maybe. Kevin Smith in the movie struggles to use the force to levitate some object and Ethan Suplee stands in one position to try to figure out an optical illusion painting. There are plenty of sidetracks during and after pointless arguments. For examples, characters talk about a game show and ask about it in the beginning then go back to what they were talking about, the smelly shaking hand, ‘that kid is back on that escalator again,’ and the third nipple distraction. The movie does try to make a mall exciting. However, it basically moves the two lead male characters around the mall in front of different spots, but yet they still have mundane conversations. They are just moved around with different backdrops, but it's all the same jabber and acting like bums. As Ben Affleck truthfully says in the movie, they hang out without a shopping agenda. Although, they all have that mark since every teenager in relation is at the mall that day. One of the only people with the real laughing matter is Jason Mewes. He stays pretty constant. The third suitors' responses in the game show were also hilarious complemented by Jason Lee’s comments. The game show humor does redeem and overtake the amount of comedy displayed in the previous bits. It’s a juvenile comedy that rests on immaturity and its silliness could provide some laughs.

Final Grade: C/C+

SherryBaby (2006)
Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Brad William Henke, Sandra Rodríguez, Danny Trejo, Giancarlo Esposito

Film Prophet's Review...
A female parolee named Sherry tries to get her life in order after three years in prison. Sherry enters a halfway home in New Jersey and some of her family is unwelcoming for the most part. Her brother and sister-in-law have custody of her young daughter. The recovering junkie is keen on establishing a strong relationship with her young daughter, but she finds out it is more difficult than she imagined. The movie is worth seeing for Gyllenhaal's performance. Roughly every scene has her in it and she holds the movie together as the sole star performer. Sherry is dirty and in poverty, but there’s some likeability and allure by Gyllenhaal for even having an unpleasant character. It begins where viewers don't know about her parole or anything when she’s out. One can predict it dealt with drugs. In the first few scenes, she lives in a halfway house where habitants are Africans and there’s a disconnection of not talking to any of them. She is focused on seeing her daughter and earning that relationship than the ones with neighbors or strangers who live around her. It’s probably accurate on what a mother or any woman goes through after she is released from prison and this movie shows the composed process to it. It’s obviously not a mainstream film, like Half Nelson was around the same time frame and similar lead performance. There’s no Hollywood happy ending and the low budget scale aims to make the people and issues within the film appear real as can be. Some of the relationships with Sherry are sorrowful, much like the bleak, gritty drama. She will do anything, and by anything means anything physically and emotionally in front of the camera to get her life back on track. The directions of the movie hints at making her thrive well and get clean. There’s no correct way at re-connecting with her daughter and it’s harder with reluctant characters to help her such as her brother, his wife, and Sherry's parole officer, as they try to believe in second chances for her. Almost every character smokes cigarettes and the harm in that is barely a concern. She's chosen to represent herself like a tramp in her outfits and she sticks out. Every guy acts like he is attracted to her and some try to help her with advice, but she still feels unwanted and unaccepted. There are still people who put the fear in her that she may violate. There are some awkward moments in the movie with her. For example, she stands up and sings at a dinner table to her daughter with family around and at the gift giving on her daughter’s birthday. There are mostly low moments for Sherry, and Gyllenhaal elevates above the slim, dim story and shows than addicts are humans with a heart and just as liable as anyone else.

Final Grade: B-/B

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Starring Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Burl Ives, Jack Carson, Judith Anderson, Madeleine Sherwood

Film Prophet's Review...
Tennessee Williams' play was very much like a play in this movie. It gave the impression that it was staged in one bedroom basically making a poor theatrical vibe. It boils down to family members screaming and yelling at each other in an upstairs bedroom for two hours. ‘I don't want things!’ Mississippian Big Daddy visits his family and celebrates his sixty-fifth birthday unaware that he is dying of cancer. His son is detached to his life and family in a childless, distraught marriage with an attractive woman who taunts him about his obsession with alcohol and his deceased friend. The alcoholic coins the cat nickname to his wife. It was confirmed that censorship acted in the movie by removing an oversexed wife’s intentions and other sexuality conditions. Therefore, it was left on a few things like who would take over Big Daddy’s estate when he does die. All Big Daddy talks about is how he will still live and just asks Newman why he drinks. There were plenty of Southern standards with families, foods, parades, clothes, and their accents. One of the most annoying parts in the movie is the kids. They walk around with their horns in the background and cut in tame scenes. All their random singing is a pain and the rest of the family can agree. Newman plays the alcohol-driven character and he keeps to himself. Taylor is just thwarted by his unloving ways and frustrated. Other family members are added in, but it’s too cozy even with the yelling. ‘I'm not living with you; we occupy the same cage, that's all!’ When Taylor is talking to Newman who is in a leg cast drinking, it goes nowhere and it is almost apparent since Newman can't move that he wants to be left alone. It's almost something ideal for an Audrey Hepburn character, but Taylor plays the talkative Southern with splendor and grace. However, it's going take a lot more than having two stars talk about nothing and when one of them just drinks and dwells and the other has all the dialogue. Despite minor quarrels that aren't too crucial for a marriage to be on the rocks, nothing much happens and it's steady like this. There's a scene where the two argue in the bedroom, like most of the scenes that similar, and a young girl comes in through the door fake shooting from a gun like she's playing Cowboys and Indians. The kids come in and incense them and it seems like the only bursts of excitement comes from the kids that aren’t in anger. The couple talks about having a child and he just comes back about saying how he can't stand her. They also talk about a character that is never on screen. Anytime anyone brings up his friend Skipper and blames someone for his death, Newman finally raises his voice. One may say these are authentic problems about an unhappy Southern family when the truth is told, that is when the kids stop coming in, but the movie was chained basically. Nearly all the scenes are shot in one bedroom and Newman is rarely outside or in different room in the mansion. Viewers may lose interest with the duplicating, incessant arguments that go nowhere in the same setting.

Final Grade: C

Mildred Pierce (1945)
Starring Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Bruce Bennett, Eve Arden

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed by Michael Curtiz, Mildred makes it through as a housewife to divorce to poverty to working and that's just the few first scenes. The review is on the title character, Mildred Pierce. In a versatile performance by Joan Crawford who won the Best Oscar Actress, she conveys selflessness, looking distressed often, and at the same time she’s vulnerable and cynical. Her sympathetic performance draws the crowd into the noir atmosphere. The audience is glad for her when she does well. Max Steiner's score sweeps through scenes and it helps maintains the audiences’ concern even more. At one moment, she slaps her daughter on the cheek twice and breaks down. It's all classic stuff. She controls the movie but not the people around her and it is a story about her. When it seems predictable, it becomes unpredictable. Thanks to the script, it contains surprises especially in the second half like double-crossing and blackmail that deal with Mildred’s vile daughter with twists that happen one after another. The conclusion will reveal a conniving unforeseen plan that was made before the narrative started and these were blind setups and traps to other people. It’s quite as grand as a mother-daughter relationship can proceed on in a movie. Mildred is brought down by her own daughter, who she puts first over everything. The daughter is spoiled and unloving, only caring about money and fancy things in her life. Mildred provides for her financially as she becomes successful with her restaurant but her daughter is selfish and stubborn; the opposite of her mother. The men roles are proper on screen and there are three in Mildred’s life: the divorced husband, the estate seller, and the friendly business man. A confrontation with Monty the estate seller to stop taking her daughter out so much and realizing she is drifting away from her is an exceptional scene. 'You look down on me because I work for a living, don't you.' The daughter doesn’t really establish herself as unappreciative of her mother's efforts till after a half hour when she shows up, but Mildred has a sense of duty that she won’t give up on her. The story is told through a flashback narrative by Mildred in a policeman's office. It has a Citizen Kane style of an opening with a death and a final word. It also effectively changes between daylight Santa Monica to nighttime dark scenes, both with shadows. The crafty camera work and very sharp dialogue create superb, easygoing sequences. The score, scenery, acting, and drama mesh into the noir, dim mood. The work here is undervalued in comparison to some other movies to lighting and camera work going on in the early forties, and the script takes the movie to greater heights. The movie is visually gorgeous and it’s one to see again.

Final Grade: A-

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
Starring Kerwin Mathews, Kathryn Grant, Torin Thatcher, Richard Eyer

Film Prophet's Review...
Ray Harryhausen's fantasy adventure features ancient Mythology and animated creatures in a live-action movie. A captain and his crew help to salvage his miniature princess on his seventh voyage. A devious magician, a young boy genie, a Cyclops, skeleton warrior, a man eating bird, and a dragon are just some of the facets to the film. These are the kind of screen creatures that were imaginative and astonishing in terms to the decade. It even takes a look inside a genie lamp's tiny setting. The film opens right away to the captain sailor on a dark night not sure what to expect. When they arrive on a sandy land during daylight, they see monster size foot steps which lead them to the big Cyclops monster. This is what the audience wants to see. They are setup with traces that may lead to some horrific creature while in the background a menacing score by Bernard Herrmann plays. All of this happens in the first ten minutes of the film. From there, the film takes the audience to an Arabian style Baghdad. The Baghdad setting is not necessarily an amazing locale and just relaxes away from the creature violence and toward wishes and magic. There is a large gap of time in this period in Baghdad till they get on a ship again and back on the sandy island of monsters. It misses much action between a third and half of the film. The movie goes without any big acting names, but the fantastic creatures and the fantasy tale are the stars that kick in after the midway point. It doesn't care about focusing on a plot, which is really making every character scared based on foretold illusions. It’s never the real reason why people watch these types of films. The real draw is the special effects and encounters with these intelligent creatures, that aren’t so dumb, no one has seen before as sailors try to attack and survive from the various creatures. The movie offers stop-motion animation and effects by Ray Harryhausen blending in scenes of live-action and animation together that hasn’t lost its touch over the years. Computer graphics can not replicate what was done in this old-fashioned adventure. It was a successful project at the time and a milestone in visual effects.

Final Grade: B

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
Starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Jim Sturgess, Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas

Film Prophet's Review...
The story revolves around the Boleyn sisters, Mary, played by Johansson, and Anne, played by Portman, who are on and off rivals for the bed and heart of sixteenth century English King Henry VIII, played by Bana. There was much delay in the release date of this film to the theaters, and then in personally watching this movie finally and reviewing it. It was also a former most wanted movie on the year's list prior to when it came out. Of course, the main attraction to the film on a movie scale is the three co-stars and the scope of their acting together. Historically, the story surrounds the Tudor dynasty in England and the upcoming biological parents of Elizabeth I. It centers on two sisters set in the medieval times with fancy wardrobes and centuries old sets. It’s an attention battle to Henry's affection, but he has a queen who never really appears. However, it came down to Henry wanting to mate with the sisters so he can have a son. Historical dramas work well when the material contains livid conflicts and few giddy moments, like what The Lion in Winter had in similar context. Viewers will question if this movie is an historical romance or an historical drama movie. Well, it's more like neither. This is adapted from the book, but the characterizations in the opening are bleak when all one can get out of it is that the two sisters were close to each other and uninteresting supporting characters talk about joyless marriage struggles. The other men aside from Henry aren't even that menacing or callous. They blend in and don't stick out, but have more to say than the king and discuss what's fine for the king politically and personally. Any guy who isn’t Eric Bana is not engaging and Bana's appearances in the beginning are short lived and he speaks few words unless he is alone with one of the sisters in make-out sessions on a bed. The editing is rough in the first hour. Very little is known about anything happening and the movie displays a portrait of individuals like a soap opera would without much intimacy. The story isn’t told from anyone’s point of view as there is no center character to follow. It goes without giving the king much importance or the script some polish to assimilate everything. None of the slightest action happens until the final ten or so minutes with trials and desperation. It was a series of scenes with little purpose until the final moments of harsh decisions. The history lesson in the film only comes out until the near end because they’re resulted by sex, deaths, and births.

Final Grade: C+/C

Righteous Kill (2008)
Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Carla Gugino, Curtis Jackson, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg

Film Prophet's Review...
A cop serial killer who kills criminals may be at large as two veteran detectives partner up to solve the case between someone they already locked up or one of their own. It’s actually only the third movie both De Niro and Pacino are in together and only the second they share time on screen. In Heat, they had very limited time together too. In this movie, there’s somewhat of a story that suits for both of their typecasts in cop roles like in Heat, but it's more The Fan than Heat for De Niro by fooling people with his persona or so that what it appears so. Thus, the roles are both unchallenging for them also. Their partnership begins where they are already a team like in a center of another movie as there's not a whole lot of story to begin with. It's not really a big problem since they're both veteran actors playing old-aged detectives, but the poor writing is void of an introduction. It’s also vacant of puns or irony for laughs that would be appropriate for the genre, but it’s full-fledged on a lifeless crime drama. Since there's noticeably a lack of energy or passion, there are fewer reasons to care about what happens. The editing in the movie is a bit out of sequence and there’s no smoothness. De Niro opens up with a confession statement that's broken up throughout the film as random short scenes cut in, such as when he is in bed with Carla Gugino or at some unrelated baseball game. The cinematography is rather dull and unspectacular. It is actually set in New York City though the streets and sheltered locations make it look to be any city or town. The real display could have been Curtis Jackson who plays his villain character with some vigor that's he given to work with, except he disappears and becomes a useless act in later portions of the film. His role is sadly minimized to a waste to become anything villainous of a criminal since it's all set on the cops’ ethical, but imprudent crime choices. There's a part where he just stands aside and watches four cops argue with no input about twenty minutes before the end. He simply has a trivial character and poor acting when he is adrift. It was all about an insipid cop serial killer agenda and nothing more. The title of the movie uses the word kill as singular. However, there's plenty of kills by gun shots, but from the not so opposite side of the law. The question that floats around asks if they are the real scoundrels being numb to innocent killings as Pacino once says in it. The kills are a quick way to solve and end things abruptly and all of them were just way too thin to notice. When they don't like or agree with anything, they solve it with the trigger as if nobody would suspect cops killing suspects and then anyone missing the suspect. The writing tries to make this seem important, but it all comes down to the same old moral cop, bad cop, lawyers, serial killer, and the occasional twist before the finale. The killer describes the motives in confusing and bad poems and there is no action around it… no chases or explosions and not even enough gunplay until the final scenes. It’s just crass arguments full of misdirections.

Final Grade: C/C+

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
Starring Rosanna Arquette, Madonna, Aidan Quinn, Mark Blum, Laurie Metcalf, Robert Joy, Will Patton

Film Prophet's Review...
Living on a straight edge, a jaded housewife sees the ad for Seeking Susan and becomes curious in becoming her. After following her around, she accidentally bumps her head and is now being called Susan. The action of mass encounters is all near the end… merged problems of misinterpretation of who the real Susan is. It starts off dry, unenergetic, and at sometimes, even hollow of material in the beginning, but only for the parts when Madonna isn't involved enough which is the majority of the middle piece or when Rosanna Arquette isn't presented with intrigue, but is still bracing. Arquette follows the real Susan, Madonna, around the city to see what she does so she can mimic her appeal like wearing gloves when it isn't cold out. The most striking part of the appearance is the pyramid leather jacket. Similar to those sequences of her trying to be Susan, the movie goes at a mediocre pace. This is first true motion picture for Madonna who didn't really have to change or adapt to any new character that much. Susan was really a humble clone of Madonna... just by dress and appearance, and that's all that really mattered to this character for the most part. Most of what she's given and says is just all stiff like everyone else. There’s hardly any real dialogue. Conversations are kept to a minimum and when people speak, it's short and dull, like someone screaming the name Susan to get the woman's attention. Nothing important comes out of their mouths until things become complex when people are confused by Susan and such. There are plenty of minutes in the beginning as to why it is dry where nothing is said. Several times the ad in the newspaper for Seeking Susan is shown and people look at it and do nothing about it. There’s a bunch of gazes and men gawking at the two leading ladies in skimpy clothes followed by misunderstandings by the supporting characters who don't really know either woman when they all cross paths near the end. There are some subtle comedy pieces that are actually added in the script for people to say later on based on how much trouble the housewife has gotten herself into. The movie could have employed more of Madonna's charm and statue, like when Madonna checks out the housewife's husband's home, than just strutting around lazy, free-spirited, and spending her time observing… add more dynamic to her like when she was reading a diary on a bed to the husband with interest. It’s a movie now initially for an audience of Madonna fans who plays the title part of Susan to reminisce on the eighties and see her in something other than for what she's best at and that's being a music artist.

Final Grade: C+/C