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The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Allow me to, first off, show you (albeit simplistically) how I rate movies (in terms of 5 stars).



*****-I loved the film/ Perfect.
*** 1/2-I really liked the film/Great movie.
***-I liked the film/Good movie.



** 1/2-Close to being good, but hindered by something or another.
**-Ok, nothin' special
* 1/2- May have some redeeming value, but this is a pretty bad movie.
*-Bad movie, don't waste your time.
1/2-On beyond terrible.
ZERO STARS-Beyond forgiveness. Avoid this film like the plague.

Note: I'm really easy to please when it comes to films. If it's good, I'll like it. It just depends on to what degree. Some people really make films work for stars, and I'm not quite like that. All that I really require for a film is that it entertain me. When it does so to a great degree, I love the film. When I really love a film, I'm deeply touched by it, or I wouldn't mind watching it over and over. That, to me at least, is perfection.

Now on to the reviews...
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The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Holes



Allow me to open with a quote:

"Here's the scoop: They should have called this Plot Holes. Shoveling aside the best stuff from the popular kids book it's based on, what remains is just a big pile.

Teenager Shia LeBeouf gets sent to a cruel Texas jail for boys where he's forced to dig into the sun-hardened ground to develop character -- and possibly heat stroke. Water gets doled out by ornery Jon Voight, a ruthless overseer who mugs relentlessly for the camera...and the film's few laughs. There's also a pointless backstory with Patricia Arquette as an Old West schoolteacher on a crime spree. There's way too much violence and cruelty here for the younger ones, and readers of the book are sure to be disappointed. Here's wishing director Andrew Davis could've dug a little deeper to reach out to the PG crowd -- dig?"


So says Anderson Jones of E! Online. Allow me to be the first to tell you that Anderson Jones either never read the novel or was stoned out of his mind while watching the movie. It has been a little while since I read the novel, (1-2 years to be more precise), but the movie portrayed everything I recalled in the book. This may be a slightly biased review, as I loved the novel so much, but I will try to review this film solely from a movie buff stance for the benefit of those who haven't read Holes.

For those not familiar with the novel, it concerns one Stanley Yelnats IV (played here by Shia LaBeouf). Stanley, after being convicted of a crime which he didn't commit, is sent to Camp Greenlake, a bizarre juvenile correction center that sits in the middle of the desert, surrounded by countless holes. Every day Stanley and the other boys at Camp Greenlake are forced to dig a hole 5 feet wide and 5 feet deep. What follows is a mystery that is slowly revealed, a romance, a rescue and much, much more.

On top of the principal plot there are two other stories that are told in flashbacks. One involves an outlaw and the other a family curse. The beauty is that all of these plots blend together flawlessly, creating a tapestry of cinema. (It was strangely reminiscent of Lone Star).

My biggest fear was that the movie would attempt to be cute. This came to me while watching the trailers before the movie, all of them bathing in pre-teen cuteness. Much to my relief, this was far from the case. The young actors (most notably Shia LaBeouf and Khleo Thomas) played their roles with a surprising amount of conviction. The adult actors in Camp Greenlake, including Sigourney Weaver and Jon Voight, portray the right amount of menace and are frightening enough to let the viewer know how Camp Greenlake is a hell for those involved but not make the movie uncomfortable to watch. The only casting I wasn't crazy about was that of Patricia Arquette as an outlaw, but she, too, was good in her role. Overall, I'd say the cast and acting was about as perfect as possible for this movie. (playing a supporting role is Henry Winkler, who has a small but delightful role as Stanley's father).

Andrew Davis (of The Fugitive fame) directs, and his direction brings a unique feel to the movie. The thrills are, for the most part, subtle. He is directing for a younger audience, so things almost must be this way There are some pretty suspenseful scenes, though. The movie is, as I stated earlier, very faithful to the novel. (The script is written by the author of Holes himself, Louis Sachar).

I really had no real problems with this movie. Some elements were aimed towards younger viewers, but that much can be expected from a Disney film. On the whole I was very, very pleased with the maturity of this film. (Its amazing how it compares to Anger Management). It could've been a bit more developed and longer, but the length is a good balance for younger and older viewers. The combination of the storyline, acting, and direction should treat for all movie lovers.

Overall, Holes is a great film that can be enjoyed by movie lovers of all ages.

***1/2 out of ****



The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Big Fish



I recently watched Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation, in which Gene Hackman tries desperately to decipher the meaning of a conversation he taped. Hackman finds out by the end that the importance lies not in what is said, but how it is said. Oddly enough, that is essentially the same theme which drives Big Fish.

Big Fish is the tale of Edward Bloom's extraordinary life. Or, more specifically, the tale of Edward Bloom's tale of his extraordinary life. As the movie opens, we see Bloom (played in his youth by Ewan McGregor and in his twilight by Albert Finney) telling the same story of how he caught an enormous catfish to his son, William Bloom (Billy Crudup) at different stages of his life. By the time Bloom tells the tale at his son's wedding, the son makes it known he is fed up with his father's tendency to make up stories. The rest of the movie is basically consists of William trying to establish what actually happened during his father's life. This reconciliation takes the form of Bloom telling the fairy tale that is his life to his son (I donít wish to give out much more of the plot, for fear of taking the element of surprise out of this movie).

This movie lives on the knife's edge between tragedy and comedy, between reality and fantasy. The scenes between father and son are deeply moving, sometimes heartbreaking, other times strangely uplifting. Bloom's tales are so wonderfully outlandish that they could've only been cooked up in Tim Burton's mind. Here you can find humorously warped depictions of giants and witches, as well as things more traditional like small town life and true love.

This movie works on so many different levels. It is an engaging drama, a beautifully crafted (and often darkly funny) fairy tale, a heart-warming romance, and a satire (on stories and stereotypes amongst other things). In short, you can go to this film expecting almost anything and leave very happy. Burton gives some of the most inspired direction in his career. This movie is stunning to behold; I might go so far as to say magical. All of the actors give top-notch performances, especially McGregor and Finney. Every scene that is centered on Bloom is one for the history books, and I cannot give enough credit to the men who brought this wonderful character so perfectly to the big screen. Big Fish is, without a doubt, one of the best films to come out this year.

You need to see this sentimentally disturbed, beautifully crafted movie.

**** out of ****



The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust



Anyone that knows me knows that I'm not the worldís biggest anime fan. It's not that I have anything against it...it's just when going to rent movies, I very rarely rent them. It just isn't what catches my eye. Add to the fact that this is the sequel to a movie which I've read is horrible, and it's a miracle that I rented this in the first place. It's even more amazing that I love it so.

There are so many wonderful things about this movie...first off, we'll start with the title character. Here we have the vampire version of Eastwood's Man with No Name. D is the ultimate bounty hunter. (One with vampire blood in his veins and a cross-sword). He is also at war with himself about his nature and what he should do. Best of all, his left hand talks to him, and is quite often very funny.

While we're talking about characters, I'll touch upon those that I really liked. First off, we have the Markus Brothers. They are a family of vampire hunters, and each has his unique weapon a style. All are pretty well fleshed out as well, but one stands out as the coolest. (See the spoiler paragraph below for more on that) The Markus Brothers provide for the great horror trend of "who will die next", and for once, (as it is used as a side-show), I really like that.

WARNING: "Grove" spoilers below
That character is Grove, who is young, ailing, has white hair and almost grey skin. What's awesome is that he is the most powerful of all the Markus Brothers. He injects himself with some sort of drug, and then proceeds to kill vampires with his soul. Tell me that isn't awesome.


Aside from the Brothers, we have Meier Link, a powerful vampire who kidnaps the daughter of a noble family. What's wonderful about him is his character is fleshed out wonderfully, and isn't a one dimensional villain.

WARNING: "The Kiddnapping" spoilers below
In fact, he isn't a villain at all. He is constantly fighting his ugly nature, and is deeply in love with the girl he kidnaps. In fact, the girl loves him too. My favorite scenes in this film are those between the lovers. They have a clean love here which is entirely pure, and I love them for it. Imagine the purest love from any Disney movie and you'll have some idea what I'm talking about. (Except this is much greater). This is where the film truly shines.


The real villain of the film is so very vile, I have to love it...but I don't feel like typing spoilers on that.

Aside from the characters, the film is BEAUTIFUL to behold. This here is some of the best animation I've EVER seen.

The musical score does everything it should, adding to chills and thrills whenever needed.

The only thing that isn't perfect in this movie (for me at least, as I realize that there are some things that might not go as well with other people...it's just that this film gave me exactly what I wanted to see when, so, like The Name of the Rose before it, it rises to the top of my personal favorite films ever. Others, I'm sure, will find it merely awesome or not even that, soÖbut now I'm off topic), is the dialogue, which (in certain scenes as I've mentioned earlier), is either really intentionally funny, touching, or bland anime talk. The coolness of some of the dialogue and the drabness kind of level each other out, so I really didn't feel one way or the other in the end. It doesn't really matter, because my feelings for the rest of the film are so great that I love it no matter what.

**** out of ****



The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Fudoh: The New Generation



I checked this film out because Audition and Ichi the Killer are a whole world of classic, and I wanted to see what else Miike had up his sleeve. The next film I was able to get my hands on was one of his earliest. I enjoyed this film, Ďtis true, but not as much as the film sickened, and continues to sicken me. Miike again treats us sadism, violence, revenge, and sex, but this time, he doesnít have the flair or visual poetry that made all these elements not only watch-able but entertaining in the films I mentioned above. Sure, they were disturbing there as well, but here, this has a certain raw character to it.

The plot is interesting enough, a young yakuza named Riki Fudoh takes out the elder generation of gangsters with an army of school children. He takes special pains against his father, the elder Fudoh having brutally murdered Riki Fudohís brother fight before his eyes. Among Rikiís gang are elementary school children with guns, a 7 foot Asian wrestler type, and a high school girl who shoots darts with help of her nether-regions.

Where this film lost me is how it executed this plot. There is such a lack of care for human life (which in itself, isnít a problem, it merely accentuates the overall depressingly disturbing quality this film has), and little kids are seen kicking around an English teachers head as if itís a soccer ball. A student finds this amusing, and joins in. The violence itself, though excessive, is not what brings my major problems with the film. It is how the film views sex. Here, we have a very bizarre and sleazy look at how people procreate.

WARNING: "Sexual Acts Beale Found Distracting" spoilers below
Among these were a 70ish year old man committing homosexual incest with his son while the old manís twin brother looks on, and the aforementioned girl with darts turning out to be a hermaphrodite and having sex with another woman. This acts, (mainly the latter) were COMPLEYELY out of the blue, excessive, and ultimately distracting (the hermaphroditic sex scene being an extended and very random bit to the final act.) Special focus is also paid to the dart shooting sequences, and there are about 2-3 too many.


The film isnít without its strong points though. Riki Fudoh is quite the cool protagonist, sporting a samurai sword (as well as having a loyal army of children). The fight scenes, and in particular the weapon designs are inspired. Rikiís father is a very evil and sadistic man (a fact which is downplayed by the fact that everyone else is also evil and sadisticÖbut this is a good thing nonetheless). The themes presented, though flawed, are quite neat in conjunction (Donít mess with the family/Cycle of Violence/Out with the OldÖ). Best of all though, is the wicked awesome soundtrack.

There is a lot going for this film. With its premise, it itíd been saved for, say, this point right now in Takashi Miikeís career to make, his by now perfected (though ever evolving) style wouldíve made this movie a force to be reckoned with. Instead, the movie only has the style needed in some scenes, and, as such, falls flat on disturbances when it should be sadistically entertaining. Speaking of sadism, the amount of style put into the film determines how sadism is portrayed. In Kill Bill, sadism is seen as a means of revenge, and itís nothing short of catharsis to see the villains get their revenge. This is the romantic view of sadism. Ichi the Killer, (about to explode with style), treats sadism as a way of life, and, as such, satires violence and the way itís carried out. House of 1,000 Corpses, devoid of all Iíd feel comfortable calling style, shows sadism as a great horror, and continues to force it upon us for 90 mins, never allowing for a buildup of fear concerning the sadism. It is because of this that the film lacks any form of punch, and the viewer is numbed by the experience, devoid of emotions. I loathe this feeling, and I loathe that movie. Fudoh plays it half and half, allowing for the romantic vengeance of sadism to root itself at the films heart, but surrounding it with forced and (the problem being) artless violence, thus dulling the impact of the revenge and depressing the viewer in the long run.

Seen as a work in progress, at least in terms of style, Takashi Miike still scores. He had the right idea, he just at the time, as Iíve said, couldnít portray this idea the way he shouldíve. For all those but Miikeís biggest fans, and fans of Asian crime and gore, you may want to opt for another film. I personally would suggest Audition, and, for those with slightly stronger stomachs, Ichi the Killer (which, although much more violent, isnít nearly as disturbing or depressing.) Fudoh: The New Generation is an entertaining movie with a great premise, but it leaves such a bitter aftertaste that it is hardly worth it in the long run.

**1/2 out of *****



The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Ghost in the Shell



Blade Runner has always been my very favorite sci-fi movie. It has everything: it's noir, it's got a great plot, great acting, great set design and effects. Best of all, though, is that Blade Runner makes you think. It probes the question, "What are we?" and because of this, the movie stays with us LONG after the credits have stopped rolling. This weekend, I had the privilege of seeing another movie like this. Now, make no mistake, this wasn't nearly as great or beautiful as Blade Runner. This movie did, however, share the same thought provoking theme. This movie is the anime Ghost in the Shell.

Production I. G. (the guys behind the anime sequence in Kill Bill) score big in this wonderfully animated and written movie. I just started to fall back in love with animation (beginning with Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust ), and I'm very glad I did, having seen this movie.

Those of you that love animation, you must see this movie. Here you'll find some of the best animation I've ever seen. It's almost amazing that people were able to pull something like this off (the same goes for any animated movie that works on this scale, as I'm sure there's some out there). The characters are given distinct looks, and the lovely animation design of the cyborgs...wow. The fight scenes are so great to look at.
WARNING: "The Animated Fights" spoilers below
There is a grand chase sequence between the protagonist and a "puppet" -or a man who has been hacked into by the character "The Puppet Master", who I, for fear of ruining the movie, won't talk any more about- who is wearing an invisibility device and running through a market. Aside from that, my favorite sequence is the final battle between two different types of robots...(another thing I'm not going to completely spoil. Anyway, just know that they're amazing).


Ghost in the Shell also tackles the universal question of one's importance and individuality, as well as what makes us what we are. The way this is done, (through a cyborg named Motoko Kusanagi discovering the nature of her "ghost", and the hunt for the elusive Puppet Master who just may know the answers to her questions), is nothing short of stunning.

The only flaw lies in it being too intellectual. The plot of the film is overly complex, and it's comprehensibility is often lost in a flurry of dialogue or action. This happens far too often in the film. The wonderful questions the film asks, however, makes up for this somewhat.

I really know not what else I can say without spoiling the movie, other than it is a great animated movie propelled by thought provoking twists and turns. Here is a movie which has as much brains as it has brawn.

*** out of ****



The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Samurai Rebellion



ďThou wast born of woman,
But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn,
Brandish'd by man that's of a woman born.Ē


So says the title character of MacBeth, close to the end of his life. At this moment, he taunts a soldier who he just killed and manages to strike fear in the hearts of those that oppose him.

He is invincible. Nothing can stop MacBeth, and heís making short work of an enemy army all by himself.

Thereís always been something frighteningly beautiful to me about this particular display of power. Itís like seeing the Angel of Death at work. People try their best to bring it down, but none can manage. (If you havenít read MacBeth and donít wish to know the ending, skip the rest of this paragraph) Now, heís eventually killed and beheaded by MacDuff, but even then, MacBeth doesnít yield. He fights to the last.

You may at this moment be asking yourself why Iím writing about MacBeth when Iím reviewing Masaki Kobayashiís Samurai Rebellion. The answer to said question being that I recently saw Throne of Blood (which also stars Toshiro Mifune and is a masterpiece among masterpieces), and that the same beauty found in MacBethís last stand (or even Washizuís, if you will) is also found in this movie (but Iíll describe that after introducing the movie).

Samurai Rebellion is the story of Isaburo Sasahara and his family. Isaburo has been faithful to Japan's feudal system all his life. He is a master-swordsman, and lives with an unhappy marriage. Isaburoís greatest ambition in life is for his son to experience true love with the one he marries, something he himself never was able to do. One day, Isaburoís lord becomes displeased with one of his mistresses, (named Ichi), who, after bearing the lord a child, attacked him. The lord requests that Isaburo accept Ichi into his household, and that Isaburoís son, Yogoro, take Ichi for wife. Isaburo initially refuses, wanting his son to love the girl he marries, but, as the lord request is truly a demand, gives in. Surprisingly enough to both the viewer and Isaburo, Ichi proves to be an ideal wife, bears a child and find true love with Yogoro. Unfortunately, due to an unexpected death, the son Ichi bore the lord becomes the heir to the throne, and Ichi is ordered to return to raise the child. Ichi, Yogoro and Isaburo unconditionally refuse, and in doing so, set in motion a series of battles and revenges that probe the nature of honor, bravery, and love.

Here youíll find another uniformly great performance by Mifune, as well a grand work from the supporting cast, which includes the honor-bound Tatsuya Nakadai, the touching lovers Go Kato and Yoko Tsukasa, and the chilling Shigeru Koyama. These are characters you really care for.

The direction is wonderful. Every scene is framed is such a manner that I never think for a second Iím watching a movie, that instead, Iím looking at some kind of moving painting. (This isnít a unique occurrence, however. Many films, to me at least, feel this way, but the rate of the occurrence makes it no less wondrous.)

I could list several other aspects in which I was impressed (among them being the musical selection being comprised of traditional Japanese instruments that is touching, thrilling and haunting), but the true area I which this movie shines is the storyline. The story makes for the vicious satirizing of Japanís feudal system and how vile it could be, and often was. The story shows the beauties of love and sacrifice.

The story shows us what true honor is.

Forgive me if my review is a bit underwhelming. Iím literally at a loss. I donít wish to sound redundant, and there are some things I just canít put to words. Ah yes! And as for the whole MacBeth-Last Stand-Angel of Death thing, there are two of those. And just like for the rest of the movie, I donít know just what Iím to say, other than to label them with one word I already use too much: Beautiful.

**** out of ****



I was never bothered about watching 'Holes'. I always saw it as a bit of a lame kiddies film and I've never read the book. Your review Beale certainly opens it up for me.

The other film's you've reviewed cover area's of Genre I really look for and enjoy to watch.

'Big Fish' I really wanted to watch in the cinema but never got a around to seeing.

I've seen the original 'Vampire Hunter D' movie and was frankly not that impressed. However, 'Bloodlust' of your review looks an ultimately more enduring film with deeper resonating plot developments. I'm going to keep an eye out for this.

I'll give 'Fudoh' a miss though. I liked Auditon with it's psychological subtly and have yet to see 'Ichi The Killer', but 'Fudoh: The Next Generation' doesn't quite have the same appeal to me. Nothing to do with your reviewing skill but rather the actual contents of the plot. I would give it a go, maybe, but it just doesn't seem to be quite up my alley.

The only film of your reviews I've seen is 'Ghost In The Shell'. That was a long time ago and although I was not that impressed by it, I may have given a poor reception out of turn. One I intend to give another chance now that I'm older and a bit more wiser.

'Samurai Rebellion' looks intriguing. It is certainly the one film you have mentioned thus far that I would be most eager to see. I appreciate a film that does not rely on action scene's to get an audience. Plot is often mentioned when refering to a film but from your review and synopsis I would use the word 'story' instead for this. 'Story' seems more familar and personal then the word 'plot'. Story is to delve, plot is to dissect. I already like this film and I've yet to see it.
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The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Originally Posted by Revenant
I was never bothered about watching 'Holes'. I always saw it as a bit of a lame kiddies film and I've never read the book. Your review Beale certainly opens it up for me.
I'm glad. The film is surprisingly dark.


Originally Posted by Revenant
I'll give 'Fudoh' a miss though. I liked Auditon with it's psychological subtly and have yet to see 'Ichi The Killer', but 'Fudoh: The Next Generation' doesn't quite have the same appeal to me. Nothing to do with your reviewing skill but rather the actual contents of the plot. I would give it a go, maybe, but it just doesn't seem to be quite up my alley.
I'm a huge fan of Audition, and, as far as Fudoh goes, I'm with you there. The film wasn't really up my alley either. I do, however, think you might like Ichi. It's pretty graphic, but it's a wonderful and often hilarious satire of violence. As far as the director's, (Takashi Miike), cannon of work goes, the only other film I've seen is The Happiness of the Katakuris, which is a dysfunctional family/zombie-horror/romantic musical. It's bizarre, (like all of his films I've seen) I really loved it.


Originally Posted by Revenant
The only film of your reviews I've seen is 'Ghost In The Shell'. That was a long time ago and although I was not that impressed by it, I may have given a poor reception out of turn. One I intend to give another chance now that I'm older and a bit more wiser.
I don't imagine it's for everyone. Renting it, I was expecting a more 'robot-assassins at work' than what I got. The actual film was much deeper and plot driven than I'd formerly surmised it would be. As is, the film is slow and largely action-less, but I liked the questions it asked.


Originally Posted by Revenant
'Samurai Rebellion' looks intriguing. It is certainly the one film you have mentioned thus far that I would be most eager to see. I appreciate a film that does not rely on action scene's to get an audience. Plot is often mentioned when refering to a film but from your review and synopsis I would use the word 'story' instead for this. 'Story' seems more familar and personal then the word 'plot'. Story is to delve, plot is to dissect. I already like this film and I've yet to see it.
Thanks Rev! I'm always looking for words to substitute, and, while this one is somewhat obvious, I seem to have missed it. It is, in a fact, a much better word...and I think I'll edit it in really quick.

NOTE: Coming Soon!

Beale Reviews Secret Window
Beale Reviews House of 1000 Corpses



Iíve only seen one movie on your list so far, and it was because of your review. That movie is Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. It was a very imaginative film, with some impressive animation. To be truthful, itís not really my cup of tea. I liked it, but not enough to get its predecessor. I may be remembering my enthusiasm incorrectly though, I remember being touched by the ending, but other than thatÖ

I really like your reviews though. Youíll probably wind up being the siteís Asian and animation reviewer.

EDIT: Oh crap, I forgot you reviewed Big Fish. I liked the film quite a bit, but I'm glad that it didn't get nominated for any major awards. I thought it was a bit overrated.
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The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Originally Posted by LordSlaytan
Youíll probably wind up being the siteís Asian and animation reviewer.
That's a pretty tall order, but I'd more than love to accept the position (not that it's anything official). I guess I'll just need to get to writing more reviews on Asian cinema....


Originally Posted by LordSlaytan
EDIT: Oh crap, I forgot you reviewed Big Fish. I liked the film quite a bit, but I'm glad that it didn't get nominated for any major awards. I thought it was a bit overrated.
Yeah. I wasn't disappointed it didn't get nominated. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved the film, but it wasn't the kind of thing I see getting many awards, and to nominate it would be robbing another film of a potential award. This film, to me, was like Elf and School of Rock. It wasn't a deep movie (although it was multi-faceted, and, thus, should, in some way, please anyone), it was pure entertainment and, because I found it as such, emotion found it's way into my viewing experience. This is the kind of movie that I don't expect other people to love, as my feelings for the film are so intertwined with my personal taste in cinema...well...as I've said (I think at least), anyone should be able to tell whether a film is good or not. It's just up to their taste to determine how good, through their personal feelings towards it.

Jeez I'm long winded!

Anyway, thanks for reading my reviews! As long as someone does, I'm overjoyed to write them.



Great reviews Beale... welcome to the sticky club...
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AiSv Nv wa do hi ya do...
(Walk in Peace)




Put me in your pocket...
Originally Posted by Caitlyn
Great reviews Beale...
Very nice.~

You know how I feel about Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust from the other thread, but in the past few weeks I've also seen Holes a few times with my kids. At first I wasn't looking forward to it, but my daughter read the book and was very excited about seeing it. I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed this movie. All of the boys were wonderful and likeable.....and I liked the supporting cast...especially Sigourney Weaver.

You're right Beale...Holes is the type of movie any age group can enjoy.



The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Secret Window



Walking into the theater, I didnít know what to expect from this movie. Stephen Kingís movies are a VERY mixed bag, so, even with the names Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Charles S. Dutton and David Koepp attached to the project, there was always some room to doubt the movieís success. Witnessing the opening scene, however, whatever doubts I had were put to rest.

The plot of the movie is something like this: Mort Rainey (an always original Depp), a writer recently separated from his wife (Maria Bello), is accused of plagiarism by a southern writer named Shooter (the excellent Turturro). Rainey, who swears he didnít steal the story, is ordered to fix the ending according to Shooterís ďoriginalĒ story, and to get the story published, giving all the rights and profits to Shooter. As sure as Rainey may be that he didnít take Shooterís story, he has NO idea how far Shooter is willing to go to see his ending through.

The acting, as I somewhat hinted at, is largely top notch. Depp brings Mort to life, giving him personality and quirks, Turturro is menacingly effective as the ďwrongedĒ scribe and Dutton mustíve been genetically bred to play the ex-cop / private-eye / bodyguard type. Maria Bello and Timothy Hutton (who plays Mariaís lover) didnít impress me really. They seemed to be more plot device than characters.

The direction was VERY stylish. I mentioned the opening sequence early on in the review, and, let me tell you, itís something special. Itís a pity the rest of the movie didnít really live up to it, but itís almost worth the price of admission on its own. I donít know how to discuss it without downplaying it, so Iíll avoid it other than to see itís quite well done. Koepp, even though he sets his high mark right off and never reaches it (in his defense, near the end he comes VERY close), has overseen a very nice looking film. A few shots are inspired and genuinely frightening and Koepp is someone that Iím going to be looking out for. He impressed me with movie.

The problem with the movie isnít found within any technical aspect of the movie really, as the elements going into the movie are, for the greater part, well done. For example, the editing is crisp and make for many tense scenes, and even the mediocre musical score is able to hit the right notes and accentuate the suspense when needed. No. The flaws in this movie are interesting but all too familiar story. The plot of the movie was (for lack of better description) too Stephen King. I found MANY of the elements of this movie to be recycled from earlier King novels and movie adaptations, a few notable being cryptic names (which, while quite cool, I found to be too similar to ďRedrumĒÖalthough that may just be me), character structuring, and the secluded writer. In any other case, I might not have been distracted, but in Secret Window, the movie felt terribly familiar.

My only other real problem with the movie was the ending (which I will not fully discuss here). The movie has two really, and the second one is a direct and pointless rehash of the first. It couldíve ended on the perfect note: a really dark one. This movie went on a few minutes too long, and itís a true shame it did.

In the end, this is a good movie, not a great one. Iíve seen and loved Stephen King movies before, such as Misery, The Dead Zone, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and The Shining, and Secret Window movie falls a bit short of being mentioned in that group. It still, however, works well as both a stylish thriller and a psychological portrait of those involved in a failed marriage. There are a lot of great things in the movieÖitís a shame the movie is less than the sum of its parts.

*** out of ****


WARNING: "Concerning clues to the ending" spoilers below
NOTE: Looking back at the movie, I see that there are several clues relating to the solution of the mystery. If you do plan on seeing the movie, pay attention to mirrors and windows. It's quite interesting.



A system of cells interlinked
I felt pretty much exactly the same, chaulk it up to typical King I guess. Solid review Beale, I am glad you mention Charles S. Dutton, which I somehow failed to do in my review. I thought he was good as well, but a bit underused all in all.

_S
__________________
"Thereís absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP



The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
Originally Posted by Sedai
I thought he was good as well, but a bit underused all in all.
Exactly. Dutton can do the part effortlessly, and he was great in the few scenes he was in, but he's largely a wasted character due to the script (or, I guess, the story).

EDIT: I just read your review, and it was great! You have a better way with words than I.



A system of cells interlinked
Originally Posted by Beale the Rippe
Exactly. Dutton can do the part effortlessly, and he was great in the few scenes he was in, but he's largely a wasted character due to the script (or, I guess, the story).
If I remember correctly, Koepp wrote the story/screenplay and just sort of used information from King's story as plot devices/characters etc. I haven't read the novella, so I can't comment on how closely the film stuck to the ideas. I just remember seeing Koepp with the story credits and the familiar "Based on" before King's credit. Did you see the end coming as well? I had just recently watched The Dark Half and Fight Club and just kept getting reminded of those films, so:

WARNING: "Secret Window" spoilers below
The writer duality concept just popped right out at me. Timothy Hutton didn't help, as he was the dual writer character in The Dark Half and I started thinking about that movie during the credits after I saw his name. So that got me thinking about dual characters that didn't know about the other half, and Tyler Durden popped into my head. Then once the opening scene was over, I felt I had been shunted into a Friday the 13th back lot somewhere, music and all.


EDIT: I just read your review, and it was great! You have a better way with words than I.
I wouldn't say that

You're review rocked as well



The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
To answer:

WARNING: "Secret Window-DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE YET TO SEE THE MOVIE" spoilers below
I saw something similar like that coming, but, I must confess, I didn't see the whole 'Shooter' thing. Should've though...I somewhat suspected the whole 'fragmented personalities' thing when Depp thought he saw Shooter in his bathroom mirror, finally deciding upon shattering the mirror. He soon see's himself in the mirror, and I thought to myself, "That too symbolic in too many ways to overlook."



A system of cells interlinked
Originally Posted by Beale the Rippe
To answer:

WARNING: "Secret Window-DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE YET TO SEE THE MOVIE" spoilers below
I saw something similar like that coming, but, I must confess, I didn't see the whole 'Shooter' thing. Should've though...I somewhat suspected the whole 'fragmented personalities' thing when Depp thought he saw Shooter in his bathroom mirror, finally deciding upon shattering the mirror. He soon see's himself in the mirror, and I thought to myself, "That too symbolic in too many ways to overlook."
Exactly, that's what I meant about the anvils, or heavy handed slinging about of clues or hints. But I also felt the film had many redeeming qualities, and I reviewed this one without following my cardinal review rule of watching it twice, but to tell the truth, I felt I had seen it all in one viewing



The Mad Prophet of the Movie Forums
House of 1,000 Corpses



Well, Iíve written several positive reviews (even my review on Fudoh, which I didnít like, wasnít that negative), now Iíll take the time to review some films to avoid. One such film is House of 1,000 Corpses, of which I will relate to you now. NOTE: This is a cautionary tale which uses some spoilers to make the case for not seeing it. I donít usually do this, but I profoundly desire people not to watch this film. If you have no intention of seeing this movie, you may not wish to read this review. It isn't that pleasent. In fact, it's VERY nasty and disturbing.

I just finish watching Kill Bill: Volume 1, and the day is a good one (Kill Bill being my pick for best film of 2003, and, at least in my mind, brilliant). Aside from being wonderful, the film was the most violent and intense thing Iíd ever seen. My friend and I (stupidly, looking back) decided that we should try to find a movie that tops it in terms of bloodshed, as we didnít believe it readily possible. One such movie to possibly fit the bill was said House, and, after watching, we both found that we were not only wrong, but we were so depressed that we didnít care to live anymore (not in a suicidal wayÖitís justÖI dunno).

The DVD menu was entertaining enough, it featured the character dressed as a clown (we would soon know this character as Captain Spaulding) cracking jokes at those viewing the film. After getting a few kicks, we decided we might as well play (I should note, although Iím not sure if it should be here, that you know youíre in trouble when your menu screen is more entertaining than your movie).

What followed was literally the worst movie Iíve ever seen. EVER. Most of the bad movies Iíve seen can, at the very least, be made fun of. Not this one. It was terrible in every possible respect. But Iím already a bit off topicÖ

The movieís small plot is something like four 20-something year-olds searching for a certain serial killer named Dr. Satan. Theyíre captured by a family of sadistic hillbillies. The rest isÖwellÖless than important. The less than important scenes are the ones that star Captain Spaulding, who runs a middle-of-nowhere freak show tourist attraction. His scenes, though terrible, seem wonderful in comparison to the rest of the movie, which is the very worst kind of sadism. Some of the film is done in documentary style, making it fare worse to bear. In the hopes of dissuading people from seeing the movie, I will discuss some of the more horrible scenes as best I can. Fist, a man is tied to a wall and hatchets are thrown at him. A hillbilly cuts off his hand and taunts him with it. A girls father is killed by a hillbilly, his face is cut off, the hillbilly wears the face and kisses the girl and says ďgive daddy a kissĒ while the hillbillies laugh at her. A girl tries desperately to run away, and is caught and horribly stabbed over and over and over and over again, long after sheís dead. The hillbillies then laugh at the dead girl. These are just a few of the terrible things that happen in this movie while satanic subliminal messages are thrown at the screen. The worst part is that Rob Zombie empowers these madmen. They are shown as right, powerful, their acts are glorified, and, in the end, they get away completely unpunished.

The movie is comprised of terrible concepts (if this movie wasnít some sort of demonic fluke, then Rob Zombie must be the sickest alive to be able to visualize all this), horrendous acting, random acts of depravity, an incoherent plot...you name it, itís terrible in this movie (to be honest and fair, the makeup was decent).

I donít know what else to say, other than my hatred for this film knows no boundaries, and Iíve never felt such disgust in my life. In fact, just recalling this movie to write of it is quite depressing. And I honestly mean this.

As much as Iíve talked about sadism, this movie is also masochistic, in the sense that to watch this film is painful. Anyone that knowingly wishes to inflict such emotional, psychological and visual pain upon themselves is definitely a masochist. I think Harry Knowles coined the term, but House of 1,000 Corpses is cinematic terrorism of the highest order. I wouldnít show this film to my worst enemy.

In short, avoid this film like the plague.

ZERO STARS out of ****