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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - # 83 - February, 2002

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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"Captain Corelli's Mandolin", Universal Pictures, 2001, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1, DD, 2 Hr 9 min, Rated R; Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz, John Hurt, Christian Bale, Irene Papas; In 1940, with WW-II in full swing, a company of Italian soldiers is sent to the Greek island of Cephallonia to accept the island's surrender. While occupying the island, Captain Antonio Corelli (Cage) and a young Greek woman, Pelagia Iannis (Cruz) fall in love, despite the fact that she is betrothed to a Greek soldier named Mandras (Bale). When Italy falls, the Germans demand that the Italians surrender their arms for the Germans to use in continuing their battle against the Allies, and when Antonio discovers that the Italians are being massacred instead of sent home, he helps Mandras by giving his rebels their guns and ammunition. Following the recent trend of love stories in the middle of war ("Enemy at the Gates", "Pearl Harbor"), the film is well done, with the only blemish being Cage's failed Italian accent. With a big star like Cage, it is better not to attempt an accent at all. I remember seeing an old movie where Robert Mitchum played an Australian. Although the accent sounded OK, it just didn't fit with his huge star power image on the screen.  - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ***
Photography: ****
Violence: yes
Sex: yes
Language: the "F" word

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"Hearts in Atlantis", Castle Rock Entertainment, 2001, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 2.36:1, DD, 1 Hr 41 min, Rated PG-13; Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, Hope Davis, Mika Boorem, Will Rothaar, David Morse; When Bobby Garfield (Morse) is called to the funeral of an old friend, he recalls his boyhood in 1950's Connecticut. As an 11-year old, Bobby (Yelchin) and his pals Sully (Rothaar) and Carol (Boorem) are drawn to an old man, Ted Brautigan (Hopkins), who rents the upper floor in Bobby's house. Although Bobby's mother Liz (Davis) is suspicious of Ted, the kids know he is very special. Ted asks Bobby to be on the lookout for men dressed in black who are searching for him, but in the meantime, Ted pays Bobby a weekly allowance to have him read the newspaper to him in the evening because of poor eyesight. Ted also keeps Bobby and his friends out of trouble, especially with the local bullies. Then, the guys in black show up, and Bobby returns the favor, in spite of his mother who would just as soon see Ted in jail. Although this film did not do particularly well at the box office, it is a masterpiece of fine acting, story telling, and cinematography. - JEJ -

Entertainment: *****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ***
Photography: *****
Violence: yes
Sex: mild
Language: no

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"Hardball", Paramount Pictures, 2001, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 1.78:1, DD, 1 Hr 46 min, Rated PG-13; Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane, John Hawkes, Mike McGlone; Conor O'Neill (Reeves) is a habitual gambler, and begs friend Jimmy Fleming (McGlone) to help him pay off his bets. Instead, Jimmy gives Conor a job coaching a Little League baseball team made up of kids from the housing projects who are students at a Catholic school. Conor resists at first, but soon is caught up in coaching the team to a championship game. The kids have their problems, and so does Conor, who still must battle his urges to gamble the $500/week that Jimmy is paying him to coach. The film is a feelgood movie, of course, and we know what the outcome will be, but nevertheless, a story of victory over poverty and drug abuse is always enjoyable to watch. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: yes
Sex: no
Language: the "S" word

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"Don't Say a Word", Regency Enterprises, 2001, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 2.32:1, DD, DTS, 1 Hr 43 min, Rated R; Michael Douglas, Sean Bean, Britany Murphy, Famke Janssen, Oliver Platt; Dr. Nathan Conrad (Douglas) is a Psychiatrist at a New York hospital whose daughter is kidnapped and held for ransom. Nathan must extract a secret number from a psychotic girl - the number that holds the key to a fortune in stolen jewelry. He only has six hours to get the number, or the kidnappers will kill his daughter. So begins a journey into the depths of human psychosis. He discovers that the girl, Elisabeth Burrows (Murphy), is the daughter of one of gang members who stole the jewelry 10 years before, but who had betrayed the gang, and was killed in a subway murder, before her eyes. She had been found wandering in Potter's Field, a cemetery on a small island near New York City. Elisabeth is very resistant to giving the number, because part of her psychosis is suspicion of everyone. In order to get the secret number, Nathan must not only have Elisabeth travel back to that terrible day in her mind, but must also have her face the men who murdered her father, in person. The film is presented in an almost constantly underexposed lighting, giving an eerie effect throughout the story. Part of the horror is the condition of the state psychiatric hospital where Elisabeth is kept. As a result, the climax has to be in an even worse place: the desolation of Potter's Field on a cold windy night. It has a satisfying ending too. I guess the days of movie bad guys getting away are over. Fire up the chain saws. Clint Eastwood is back. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: yes
Sex: nudity
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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"The Fast and the Furious", 2001, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1, DD, 1 Hr 47 min, Rated PG-13; Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune; Undercover Agent Brian O’Conner (Walker) is preparing for an undercover assignment with all of the perks and glory of NASCAR, but without the rules. His job is to uncover who is behind a number of high-speed trucking heists by penetrating the underground world of street racing. O’Conner’s big mouth and cocky attitude manage to get him close to Dominic Toretto (Diesel), the known top guy in the street racing circles. Through this friendship, O’Conner is quickly introduced to other top guys in the sport and, more importantly, to who would be capable of pulling off these perfectly executed crimes with the skill necessary to loot a moving 18-wheeler. Of course, O’Conner gets too close and makes the critical mistake of falling in love at the wrong time with the wrong person, namely Dominic’s sister Mia (Brewster). The word is out, and scared truckers are now more than willing to take law matters into their own hands to defend themselves and their cargo. The inevitable decision of loyalty versus betrayal will determine the outcome of this high stakes sprint. This movie is filled from start to finish with fast cars and . . . well, not a whole lot else. Although full of young and talented actors, the storyline doesn’t leave much room to develop any of them. If you’re into cars and decent action, you should check this movie out. - JB -

Entertainment: ***
Video Quality: *****
Audio: *****
Photography: *****
Violence: yes
Sex: suggestive
Language: the "S" word

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"Evolution", Universal Studios, 2001, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1, DD, DTS, 1 Hr 42 min, Rated PG-13; David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Orlando Jones, Seann William Scott, Ted Levine, Ethan Suplee, Dan Akroyd; While out practicing to be a fireman in the middle of nowhere, Wayne Green’s (Scott) car is struck by a meteor. After he tells his story to the local authorities, they are unsure of what to make of the meteor, so they bring in local professor Dr. Ira Kane (Duchovny) and his friend Harry Block (Jones). Upon further inspection, these two find something like they have never found before. Having what could be the greatest discovery ever simply handed to them, Dr. Kane and Harry want to do everything in their power to keep their discovery under wraps. However, this unrealistic idea is cut short when the US Military comes in to take control. Headed by Dr. Allison Reed (Moore), things are about to go very bad when what was once thought of as the greatest discovery in the history of mankind is quickly turning into the greatest threat ever to mankind. It’s going to be very hard for anyone to see David Duchovny as anyone other than Fox Mulder from “The X-files”, and similar roles like this one aren’t going to help us forget. For any of you unfamiliar with the setting of this movie, it was filmed in Northern Arizona (in and around the city of Page), which is one of the most striking backdrops in the world. - JB -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ****
Photography: ****
Violence: yes
Sex: no
Language: the "S" word

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"American Pie 2", Universal Studios, 2002, Color, Presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1, DD, 1 Hr 51 min, Rated R; Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Eugene Levy; One year after graduating from high school, Jim (Biggs), Paul (Thomas), Stifler (Scott), Kevin (Nicholas), and Chris (Klein) are re-united when they decide to take summer jobs so they can live on the beach. This summer of work is leading up to one giant bash aimed at outdoing the previous year’s graduation party. However, summer fun will not be without its share of early adulthood trials. Jim is eagerly preparing himself for another visit from Nadia (Elizabeth), Chris is trying to stay faithful to his girlfriend Heather (Suvari), Kevin is trying to let go of his old girlfriend Vicky (Reid), Stifler is trying to get with anyone who is willing, while Paul is saving himself for another rendezvous with Stifler’s mom. The one sure thing is that the gang will never be the same again, until next summer that is. Alyson Hannigan is very cute as Michelle the band camp resident, and Seann William Scott is his usual completely out of control, but completely funny guy. Although this film has the exact same cast as the first movie, it couldn’t deliver the edgy and shocking situations that were so entertaining in the original. - JB -

Entertainment: ***
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ****
Photography: ****
Violence: mild
Sex: yes
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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© Copyright 2002 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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