Category Archives: Drama

School Ties (1992)

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School Ties

School Ties

A Jewish boy goes to an elite prep school in the 1950’s and hides his religion until a jealous bigot forces it out in the open.

A while back I went through Blockbuster online and added a bunch of Brendan Fraser movies to my queue, every now and then one shows up. Some are throw aways (i.e. Airheads) some are surprisingly good. Like School Ties.

I didn’t watch it right away, once I saw that Ben Affleck was in it I was prepared for major suckage. I would have to say that this may well be Affleck’s best movie, in much the same way that The Outsiders was Tom Cruise’s best movie.

I was expecting just your standard prep school conflict type movie but, while there were certainly a lot of cliches, I was quite pleasantly surprised. Prejudice, traditions, friendship, conscience – and Brendan Fraser (oh, and Matt Damon, Chris O’Donnell….) My circle will love it.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 68%; Audience 67%

Like Something The Lord Made (2004)

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Something The Lord Made

Something The Lord Made

It loses half a star for being hard to get my hands on.Something The Lord Made

The true story of two medical pioneers — one celebrated, one overlooked — is brought to life in this made-for-cable drama. Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman) is chief surgeon at Johns Hopkins University, where he is pioneering new techniques in heart surgery. Blalock makes the acquaintance of Vivien Thomas (Mos Def), a carpenter hired to work at the University, and to his surprise discovers a man of keen intelligence who has a great interest in medicine. However, as a poor black man in the Jim Crow South, Thomas lacks the financial resources to obtain a medical degree, though he certainly has the knowledge and the desire. Blalock takes Thomas on as his lab assistant, and together they develop a technique that allows them to correct a common congenital heart defect in children.

Wow! I watched Something The Lord Made tonight last night and was thoroughly captivated. I have been wanting to see it for some time and have had it on my Blockbuster Online list almost from the start (it actually got sent out once but never made it to me) SG, being the thoughtful guy that he is and knowing I have been wanting to see it, noticed it was on Monday night and programmed it in for us to watch during dinner.

Consummately captivated – I love small movies like this. Alan Rickman was, as usual, brilliant. Mos Def showcased Vivien Thomas’ genius, and his vulnerability. The story held your attention, even though you know how it turns out. (I do wonder how much of it was fictionalized, though I would love for every frame to have been true)

Can’t think of anyone in my circle I wouldn’t expect to enjoy and benefit from this film.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics N/A; Audience 90%

 

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I Am David (2003)

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I Am David

I Am David

When I watched The 13th Warrior (which I liked, wanna make something of it?!?!) I was mesmerized by the Scandinavian babe, Maria Bonnevie, Maria Bonneviewho treated Antonio Banderas‘ wounds.

 
I was wondering the other day what other movies she may have done and found one on Blockbuster. It turned out that James Caviezel * was in it, too, and since I like him I rented it.

The movie is I Am David and it is wonderful. It took me a few days to get around to watching it…unfortunately. As it turns out, the two performers I had originally hoped to see were barely in the film – though what they did was pivotal.

David, a 12-year-old, escapes from a Communist concentration camp with little more than a compass, a sealed letter, a loaf of bread, and instructions to carry the letter to Copenhagen, Denmark. David is thrust into the free world for the first time in his young life as he travels across Europe. His spiritual voyage of discovery, where David slowly loses his instinctive mistrust of humanity and begins to smile, share, trust and ultimately, love, addresses the cruelties, politics, and suffering of warfare while celebrating the resilience of youth and the unbreakable spirit of a child.

There is only one person in my immediate circle that I wouldn’t expect to really enjoy this film. It is currently making the rounds in my family; my sister had it last night, my mom and step-dad have it now….

That earns it a rare perfect score on the Word of Mouth Scale.

* the actor who portrayed Pilate, condemning Caviezl’s Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, here portrays the prison commander, condemning Caviezel’s Johannes.

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Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 38%; Audience 84%

De-Lovely (2004)

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De-Lovely

De-Lovely

I have been curious to see this movie since I heard it was in the works. Kevin Kline is always fun to watch, and Ashley Judd (as much of a dip as she may be) is ridiculously beautiful. The story of Cole Porter’s life is one that lends itself to movie making.

Unfortunately, the story has never been well told. This telling was a bit too “All That Jazz” in it’s presentation. I enjoyed the technique in that movie, don’t get me wrong, but it’s already been done – and much more effectively. I did enjoy Jonathan Pryce in the role of ‘host’, but he is no Ben Vereen (the host in All That Jazz).

I enjoyed De-Lovely, and I am glad I watched it, but it was not the movie it could have (or should have) been. The only two people in my life that I would recommend it to watched it with me, so on the Word of Mouth Scale it only rates one.

I think perhaps my disappointment may have been fueled by the songs, made over by contemporary artists. Singers who are not up to the task. Alanis Morrisette’s version of “Let’s Do It” is particularly painful. Sheryl Crow has nowhere near the vocal talent required for “Begin The Beguine”. Whether it was the performers or the arrangers, the wink and a smile that Porter wrote into his songs is sadly absent on most of the film tracks. The interpretations feature affectations that would not have been heard in that era.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 48%; Audience 61%

The Outsiders (1983)

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Outsiders

The Outsiders

SG Jr wanted to watch The Outsiders after his game yesterday. I wasn’t really in the mood for the teen angst genre, but he is too sweet to turn down.

He said a friend of his had said that it was one of Tom Cruise‘s best movies. Since he is on screen for less than 10 minutes, I have to agree – I’ve never seen him better

Fun to see all the stars sooooo young. It is a good story, or should I say a good adaptation of a good story, and it is well acted. But, since I can’t think of many people in my circle I would recommend it to (and those have probably already seen it) it doesn’t score too high on the Word of Mouth scale.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 64%; Audience 81%

The Lovely Bones (2004)

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Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

How do you make a beautiful story out of the rape and murder of a 14 year old girl? You let Alice Sebold write it. I bought this book a while back but hadn’t had the guts to dig in – just couldn’t wrap my mind around the premise. I needn’t have worried. Though there are a couple of missteps, or rather “unnecessary detours” which I will discuss in more since they are spoilers, all in all it is a wonderful ride.

I have not yet decided whether to recommend this to my sister, as the Heaven presented here is not the one she believes in. But the way it follows the characters and their different grieving processes is remarkable. Those type of questions cost it on the word of mouth scale, which you may remember is based not on how good the product is but on how likely I am to recommend it to my family & friends.

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Pay It Forward (2000)

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Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward

OK, so I am a bit behind. We just saw this movie Thursday. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think I would ever watch it because of the Helen Hunt factor [how does this horrible actress keep getting parts?] In the end, Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment were too promising to pass up. The movie was generally nice, Spacey and Osment were moving (boy does that kid sell the “I’m brokenhearted” look!), Hunt didn’t suck any more than expected, Angie Dickinson was amusing as a bag lady. I do have a gripe, however – but don’t read any further if you haven’t seen the movie yet…


Rotten Tomatoes: 40% critics, 82% users

I give it 3.5 because it is the kind of movie most of my family & friends would/will enjoy


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