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Saved: Fog (2006)
Season 1, Episode 4
Special episode, special thanks
21 February 2009
This will forever be my favourite episode of this now departed show. The producers, director, cast and crew were great in the way they handled the real life situation that occurred during filming of the rescue scene of Teddy. I am forever grateful for their compassion during those hours.

I am particularly appreciative that the director approved the change in the script that allowed the Teddy character's wife's name to match the tattoo on my husband's chest. To the rest of the viewing audience this was just another episode but to me and my husband it was a love note.

A lot of comments were made about the more technical aspects of the cast. True, they could have maybe paid a bit more attention to detail in some of the more technical scenes but the real story was about the people. This was a show that had promise and I think it was just starting to really come into it's own. I wish it had been given a bit more time.
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Melanie (1982)
Sweet, heartwarming, feel good movie
21 February 2009
My husband surprised me recently with the DVD - I had seen a mention of the movie when Burton Cummings had come to town to do a concert but unfortunately it was sold out anyway... I issued a challenge to my hubby to find the DVD and within an hour he had located and ordered it! Don Johnson does a great job as the hard-ass redneck husband who's fed up with his illiterate wife, Glynnis O'Connor, who plays a very strong and determined woman with just the right amount of vulnerability to make Paul Sorvino and Burton Cummings's characters want to protect her and fall in love with her.

Burton's acting was spot on, he's so charming and entertaining and his performance was effortless and natural. His singing is an especially great treat but I must confess that I did have to pause, rewind and re-watch that one particular scene a few times over. Thank goodness the sheet music was big enough!
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Space Buddies (2009 Video)
Cute, fun kiddie fare
21 February 2009
Space Buddies is just plain cute and fun. Parents with younger children don't have a lot to choose from these days and the lack of swearing, sexual and drug references make it a perfect choice for the little ones to watch anytime Mom or Dad need a break.

As in all of the Air Bud and Air Buddies franchise films, there are lessons to be learned. Lessons about cooperation, teamwork, friendship and tolerance, responsibility and following rules. Despite all of that the movie is not preachy, the puppies are cute and personable and every child is sure to have a favourite. I especially appreciate that they did not use adults speaking in baby-talk as the voices of the puppies but have child actors doing the voices.

I recommend this movie to parents & grandparents of small children and babysitters everywhere.
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A story ruined without reason
21 February 2009
This movie at a running time of 92 minutes was about 62 minutes too long. The storyline in itself was good but the problems are in the story telling. The viewer did not need to be beaten about the head with the repetition of Molly Parker's expressionless face 'seducing' the travelers finding their way to this apparently dead-end town and Batesish motel. We sorta got the idea by the time Jay Brazeau shows up looking for a room and 'company'. It would have been ever so much better to make it a short film and get to the point. I had already figured out the twist in the storyline long before the audience was supposed to get it and spent the next hour bored out of my mind. I actually took a break from the movie to clean my oven just to make it more bearable!

The second detail that disturbs me was mentioned in another user comment and I agree. Why was this Canadian film made with Canadian funding, starring Canadian actors and shot in a Canadian location set in a fictitious town Americanized? Why could it not have remained a fully Canadian film?

I'm not sure why this particular group of women are so fascinated with the idea of placing their lead female in roles of such depraved degradation - I seriously question their intentions.
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Capote (2005)
CAPOTE is a movie of conflicts and contrasts
17 November 2005
The opening shot shows the sober silence of a Midwest Sunday morning. The quiet idyllic countryside with the stand of trees on the horizon as the divider between properties in contrast to the brashness of the city with the row of wrought iron railings dividing the brownstones. The unhurried pace, soft palette and rounded corners of country life in contrast to the city life with it's hard edges and sharp corners. A visually stunning way to begin a film about a man who sets out to write a book about the power of destruction that an act of violence can have upon a small Midwestern town where things like this just don't happen. A visually subtle way to begin a movie that ultimately reveals the conflicts and contrasts between our past and present worlds.

As a writer, Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) was a keen observer of people and found ways of getting people to tell him things they probably never would have, or should have. Of Laura Kinney (Allie Mickelson) he observed that she would be now and forever looked at and thought of differently, Truman had always been looked at and thought of as 'different' and so in his feeble attempt at compassion, he tells her of his experience of being 'different' to help put her at ease. You see the girl process this and she goes off to get Nancy Clutter's diary as we see Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) look at Truman with a mixture of amazement and disapproval. We see him locate the most vulnerable spot of his subject and then pick at it like a scab until the wound begins to ooze the material he needs for his book. Truman made no apologies and Philip Seymour Hoffman's Truman doesn't either. He knows who he is and he is fully aware that he is lacking in sincerity yet there is no guilt or apologies offered because he's not trying to make you think he is anything other than what he is, unabashedly and shamelessly self-serving.

The film doesn't spend a lot of time on Truman's relationship with Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood) but it spends enough time to let you know that this was mostly a give and take partnership - Truman would take whatever Jack was willing to give. There was some genuine affection between them early in the story but we see how Truman's experience with Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.) and Richard Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) takes a toll on that relationship and on Truman himself. The deeper his involvement with Smith the more withdrawn he becomes with Jack. We witness Truman's destruction and devolution throughout the process of writing this book that initially he thought would make him but essentially destroyed him. His drunken self-indulgence and insecurities show during the scene of the premiere of "To Kill A Mockingbird" written by his friend, confidant, and research assistant, Nelle Harper Lee. There were a lot of elements to the real story that the film's running time just did not allow to be fully developed or discovered; I would be interested to see follow-up movies, not really sequels, that take a closer look at some of these elements, such as, what happened to Jack Dunphy and Nelle Harper Lee? And what about that other death row prisoner, Lowell Lee Andrews (C. Ernst Harth) who brought home the cold hard truth that Smith and Hickock were next in line for the hangman's noose, what was his story? I know the history of the Midwest is rich with stories similar to this and I think Bennett Miller and crew have the eye and sense it would take to make these stories come to life in as richly textured a way as they did with CAPOTE.

This is a good story and among it's strengths is the superior acting, photography, costuming and set decoration. It is all so well done that at times I wasn't sure if I was seeing the actors or the real people. The town felt as though it had been shocked into a state of suspended time and never moved on, it was eerie in that sense. There was real commitment within the production and it shows.

I have seen this movie twice and both times the theatre was sold out and the audience was captivated and silent from the beginning of the movie all the way through the credits - now that is the mark of a well told story!
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The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005 TV Movie)
The Muppets ain't what they used to be
5 October 2005
I was anticipating the release of the Muppet version of Wizard of Oz. I had heard that this version would be more closely identified with the Frank L. Baum book rather than the more familiar Judy Garland version so I was prepared for a 'different' story, but I was not prepared for what I saw and heard.

The Good: The Muppets were all there, the voices a little different but for all intents and purposes the personalities are still the same, I still miss Jim Henson's personal touch and flavour though. The quick-witted phrase turnings were enjoyable and the sight gags made me chuckle but for the better experience please see the DVD version with the 'edited for television' scenes added back.

The Bad & The Ugly: References to the worst parts of society, the 'Girls Gone Wild' elements, scantily clad Ashanti in clothes that were too small and unflattering. What was with the various 'Wizard' apparitions, particularly a dominatrix - how does that fit into a family film? The Muppets have always been a little edgy, part of their appeal is the ability to entertain the kiddies on one level while giving the parents enough to keep their attention too and not cause embarrassment. I enjoyed the movie overall, there are plenty of the familiar good parts of the Muppets we all know and love but parents, be prepared to do some 'splaining about some of the comments, actions and visuals presented to young children, this is not the Sesame Street version of Kermit and friends.
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The History Of Violence or How to be a psychotic mass-murder/rapist and not get arrested.
3 October 2005
Why does a director choose to put ridiculously lame, poorly scripted, poorly acted, non-plot advancing throw-away scenes in a movie? In The History Of Violence, every single scene populated by the wife and children of the main character, Tom Stall, are throw-aways. Take them completely out of the story and it doesn't change a single thing. Tom Stall has no redeeming qualities, if he did then the script was horrendously weak in revealing them to the audience, perhaps the forced, uncomfortable and lame 'small talk' moment in the diner just before Ed Harris and friends arrive was supposed to fill in that blank? There was no palpable relationship between Tom and Edie Stall nor was there a single moment that would have made me believe that Edie was the mother and Tom the father of Jack and Sara. There were no solid indications that Edie, Jack and Sara provided Tom with any motivation to maintaining his invented personality, thank goodness the script made sure that we were told who each character was in every scene. (sarcasm intended) What exactly was the purpose and intent behind this movie? Were we to be shocked by the way violence so easily invaded this nice little town full of nice little people? We weren't. Were we to be disturbed at the aftermath of the violence? We weren't. Were we to be shocked that behind closed doors Tom and Edie were violent with each other and apparently keeping a 'kinky little secret'? We weren't. The whole 'role playing cheerleader costume bit' was completely unnecessary and very badly done. Vigo Mortenson looked as turned on by Maria Bello as I am by the lint in my dryer. The rape scene on the stairs was just bad.

Cronenberg is seriously in need of fine-tuning his handle on the art of character development. His characters are flat, the dialogue improbable, contrived and beyond ridiculous. Sadly there just isn't enough substance in any of Cronenberg's movies to make it worth my while to spend a lot of time thinking and writing about them individually but as a whole it makes for an interesting psychological profile study.

My final thought on The History of Violence (and most of Cronenberg's movies) is this: What was the point of that? Are we all just indulging Cronenberg's exhibitionistic style of mental masturbation? Too often I feel like I just slipped a quarter in a slot for the peep show and it should have ended 30 minutes earlier than it did. I just wish that Cronenberg would give his audience something to latch on to and become involved with, instead, Cronenberg's audiences are largely just waiting for the movie to end.
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If the kids laugh, it's funny.
24 January 2005
Are We There Yet? is exactly what it was meant to be, a film for the family. It has moments of comedy as well as moments of sincere heart-string tugs. It's a movie about a guy who has dedicated himself to himself. He is one of those guys who is all about the "blingage". He figures if he can dazzle the ladies with flash then he doesn't have to worry about getting tangled up in love. It's also a movie about a woman divorced from a husband who has quite thoroughly moved on with his life and the kids left behind that she is trying to protect. It's also about the kids who really want their life back like it used to be and haven't quite understood what has happened. Finally, it's a movie about how these people who have so little in common with each other come together and learn to understand, like and appreciate each other for who they are. The whole movie is a metaphor with some very impossible but very funny moments representing the struggles people go through to find the inner beauty in each other.

It is unfortunate that jaded movie critics are paid to go to early morning screenings in a room full of jaded movie critics to watch a family comedy and then deem it a "bad movie". I prefer to listen to the voices of the REAL movie critics, the people who paid their hard-earned money to go see the movie. If they laugh, it's funny. I've been to two sold-out screenings of this movie in theatres full of parents with small children, groups of young and older teenagers and groups of adults. At both screenings there was much laughter and even applause at the end. One of the best parts, is when you hear a small voice point out the obvious to the other people in the darkened theatre, that the kids are responsible for the results of their behavior. Congratulations to that child's parents for successful instruction in Right vs. Wrong.

I have also read some other user comments and critic's comments that accuse this movie of being a racial stereotype. I seriously doubt that Ice Cube would produce and star in a movie that he felt was racist and I feel confident that all of the actors in this movie were treated fairly regardless of race and/or gender. It's not so much a racial stereotype as it is a personality stereotype - Nick Persons is a 'playa', formerly known as a 'ladies man', and he looks, dresses and acts the part, as have the ladies men of every generation. The divorced mother with two kids, well, I bet there's one in your neighborhood. One truck driver is of the older, hard-core family values type with a southern accent played by an actor from the southern United States and another is a gung-ho Canadian out to help someone in need, played to hilarious perfection by a Canadian. Stereotypes? Maybe, so what? I have also read some incredibly cruel comments by people directed at the child actors. If their performance as the confused and desperate 'demon spawn' made you feel so strongly that you must write paragraph after paragraph saying so, then I guess that makes them pretty good at their job doesn't it? It also makes the ugly comments you've made about the actors pretty wrong and disgusting.

Finally, parents are not being dragged to this movie by their children. They willingly drive them, buy the tickets for them, and then they sit down and watch and laugh with them. It's not the #1 opening movie for nothing. There are plenty of topics for later discussion contained in this film and parents can use those opportunities as they see fit. Some parents may be reluctant to take their kids to see this movie because of Ice Cube's reputation as a 'gangsta rapper'. Well folks, I'm glad to say that there is none of that in this film. He's a dad with kids ranging in age from 4 to 18 and he made this movie so that when his little children ask or are asked what their daddy does for a living they have something they can show their friends. Good on ya Cube!
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La Cucaracha (1998)
Film-making magic and artistry
17 October 2004
There are plenty enough reviews that summarize the plot and give the synopsis of the story but they rarely ever tell you about the movie itself and why you might like to see it. So, if you want to know what the movie is about read the plot outline, read some of the other reviews or read the back of the DVD box. If you want to know why I think this movie is really good, read on.

One of the things I like best about La Cucaracha is that nothing is revealed too soon. Like an intricately folded napkin in a fancy restaurant, the characters slowly unfold their secrets allowing glances at their true selves and in so doing, completely undo their original appearance. It is not until the very end that you know who anyone really is. Eric Roberts gives one of the most engaging performances and plays one of the most likable characters I've seen from him. He gives subtle urgency a whole new meaning. Don't be surprised if you find yourself leaning forward in your seat, your forehead furrowed as you listen to Walter coming clean with his true identity. You may even find yourself rethinking all those assumptions you've made about the people you've met in your past and the things you've done or have yet to do. The rest of the cast is spot on as well. Their characters are all dealing with the deep emotional impact and ramifactions of their own deeds and you feel their pain, you see it etched on their faces. Aspiring filmmakers can learn a lot from this one. The camera work and lighting are so precise that they work as unseen hands in helping the characters reveal themselves to us and each other. Audiences who just like watching a good movie with a good story and interesting characters will love it too. This movie shows the real magic and artistry of film-making.

James McManus wrote a really tight story with just enough humour to keep you from being drawn too deeply in the dark depression that is Walter's life. Jack Perez has once again proven his ability to pull an enormous and beautiful rabbit out of a very small hat. For a real treat and one of the best commentary tracks ever made, buy or rent the DVD.
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An edgy, fast-paced movie
2 April 2004
I wasn't really sure what to expect from this movie. I couldn't figure out why it was released in theatres in other countries but not in North America, didn't make sense. And after watching it, I'm even more puzzled, I mean this is a really good movie, edgy and fast-paced. Drew Daywalt and Dave Schneider did a great job with this. Seann William Scott (Ben McGewen) made a complete departure from his Stifler character of the American Pie movies, and that is what being an actor is all about. Timm Sharp (Rikki Simms) was really good playing the guy on the edge of a complete and total breakdown. The thieving trio of Patrick Breen (Jeffrey Jay), John B. Crye (Jake Nealson) and Suzy Nakamura (Betty Shin) were believably on the verge of killing each other in the process of helping their friend Ben make this final score.

Lou Diamond Phillips (Gregory) with his shocking white hair was at his intensely malicious best here. He played it completely straight and hard. I have recently seen Lone Hero which he literally finished filming just days before beginning work on his scenes in Stark Raving Mad and the transformation was a double shock from long black hair to short white. Anyway, Gregory is a mob boss intent on collecting a debt left behind by Ben's deceased brother, Kevin. Ben is equally intent on paying off this debt and being done with the likes of Gregory. He enlists the help of his best friend Rikki and the larcenous trinity of Betty, Jake and Jeffrey to pull off a daring bank vault robbery. The bank happens to share a wall with a nightclub providing the opportunity of the perfect cover for the job. Ben works it out with the club's owner, played by Adam Arkin, to hold a rave but the owner is having second thoughts about it and becomes a potential obstacle to Ben's success. Another obstacle comes in the guise of the DJ played by Jody Racicot. The DJ who was originally hired couldn't make it so this guy shows up with his records and an attitude. Obstacle number three is, of course, a girl, played by Monet Mazur as Vanessa, neither the actress nor the character added anything to the story.

All is going according to plan, albeit slowly and not without an assortment of problems small and large when Ben notices the noise in the club is decreasing, this is a bad thing as the bank vault alarm will go off if the vibrations from the noise drop below a certain level. Ben goes out to check with his doorman Dirk, played by Canadian character actor, C. Ernst Harth who seems to be appearing in just about everything these days. Dirk informs his boss that there are a lot of kids trying to pass off fake ids to get in, conveniently there's one suspicious young lady right there who insists that the id is not fake, she just changed her hair colour and proceeds to lift her dress to prove her point. C. Ernst gives one of the best visual reactions I've ever seen.

The snappy dialogue, driving backbeat, and a talented cast equal a very watchable and enjoyable movie and the commentary track on the DVD is hilarious. I give it a solid 9/10.
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Art History (2003)
An interesting experiment
28 March 2004
I admire Nick Bicanic for making this short film. So many people leave a theatre and say, "That movie sucked, I could've done better", so many more say they are going to make a movie and never do. Nick was ambitious enough to put an idea to paper and find a way to bring it to life, he also made a point of learning a few things along the way. I liked the lighting effects in the gym, I liked the fast-motion driving scenes, they looked quite professional. In fact, in most scenes, the lighting is one of the most remarkable details.I applaud the efforts of anyone who finds the means to make a goal realized no matter how big or small it may be to others.

Art History may not be a great film but it got made. It may not be a great story, but it got told.
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Monster Island (2004 TV Movie)
Cheese is good food, Cheeze is good fun
23 March 2004
Monster Island, a made for MTV movie, has plenty of the stuff that Hollywood has forgotten about, you know, making movies that are just fun to watch. Instead of blowing a huge wad of dough on spectacularly complicated computerized special effects for a 2-second blood splatter, these guys decided to have some fun with stop-motion animation and hired some of the best in the business to do it. Monster Island takes a step back in time to pay homage to the forefathers of the techniques that have spurred the imaginations of today's CGI animators. Before there were computers there was clay.

Adam West being cast as Dr. Harryhausen, please look up Ray Harryhausen on for a list of his movies, is inspired casting. The master of cheezy performance with the namesake of the master of cheezy monster movies. To round out the cast we have Joe MacLeod as adrenaline/candy junkie Stack, best friend of Josh, played by Daniel Letterle, his younger sister Jen is portrayed by Chelan Simmons who has the best B-Movie scream I've heard since Jamie Lee Curtis appeared opposite her murderous brother Michael in Halloween. Cascy Beddow as science enthusiast, Andy, has an obvious crush on Jen. Josh's ex-girlfriend, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, (Maddy), had a challenging role as an ancient warrior princess and tackled it head on. Chris Harrison's portrayal of the smarmy future politico Chase was dead on, his switch up between nice guy and slimeball was a little unnerving just as it should be. Chase is Maddy's current boyfriend and source of annoyance for Josh. The sextet, joined by VJ wannabe, Lil Mindi (Alana Husband) and her cameraman, G.T. (Jeff Geddis) to document the adventure, head for the jungle interior of a radioactive island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle in search of Carmen Electra after she and her bodyguard, Eightball were abducted by an enormous flying insect.

Why are they on a radioactive island? Because MTV held a contest and Jen entered the name of every 18-year-old she knew, the prize, won by her brother Josh, was an island party with concert by Carmen Electra, I just don't get that part though, I mean, Carmen Electra? Especially after seeing her "performance". On second thought, I do get it, she had her own "reality" show on MTV to plug, funny, she forgot to mention Monster Island during her talk-show appearances.

Anyway, Eightball, her attentive bodyguard, tries to save her from the giant bug but they are both scooped up and flown over the jungle, where he is unceremoniously tossed aside by the bug as it flies toward the huge mountain in the moonlight. C. Ernst Harth plays the affable Eightball, a big guy with a big heart and an enormous sense of loyalty and duty. He has one of the most heroic moments in any movie of this genre. I can't go in to detail here, but it's a scene worth watching twice.

Kudos to Jack Perez and the production team for their efforts in making this ambitious and fun movie. It is unfortunate that the audience who would have most appreciated the movie stopped watching MTV a long time ago when Yo! MTV Raps took over and music videos took a back seat to one bad "reality" show after another. Back when Michael Nesmith first devised the idea of MTV the M was for music. I'm not completely sure what it stands for now. Hopefully, the target audience will find it when it comes to DVD release.
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Mysteries and monsters, that's what Scooby Doo 2 is all about
21 March 2004
I have just returned from having seen Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed in a packed theatre, not a single seat left empty. Families with kids from toddler to teen populated the dark interior. There were some moments during the movie when I cringed, expecting to hear the frightened shrieks of the younger, more sensitive members of the audience but was relieved to hear not one single cry, not even when the sound effects got loud, not even when I jumped a couple of times at the unexpected.

The quick (and correct) plot summary is: Mystery, Inc. has donated costumes to the Coolsonian Criminology Museum. These costumes were worn by the various schemers and crooks over the years that Mystery, Inc. has unmasked when solving assorted mysteries. Someone has devised a way of creating real monsters by using these costumes and a substance called randomonium and that same someone is determined to completely destroy Mystery, Inc. and Coolsville with these new monsters.

There were some really cool moments in this movie, the Pterodactyl ghost flying away with the Evil Masked Figure was pretty awesome, Shaggy and Scooby playing with chemical potions was very funny, Seth Green is very funny as the museum curator. There are the pre-requisite fart jokes but they are funnier than what was in the first Scooby Doo movie, the theatre laughed hard at one scene involving Miner 49er during his unfortunate encounter with Shaggy and a nervously gassy Scooby. In fact, most everything about Scooby Doo 2 is better, funnier, cleaner and smarter than the first one. There were a few scenes that felt a little clumsy, Fred being masculine, Daphne being Buffy-ish and Scooby dancing makes three. For some reason the Black Knight Ghost was given a lot of dialogue, unfortunately you can't understand a single word except his last sentence, which happens to be a bad pun. The other ghosts are mostly, and appropriately, monosyllabic, as were their cartoon forerunners.

The special effects are seamless right from the beginning, the Pterodactyl-eye view of Vancouver, BC as Coolsville is stunning. The shimmer effects with the ghosts is very cool, the bright and vibrant colors lend to the completely fantastical vision of this fantastically fictional place inhabited by the most normal looking oddballs one could imagine. This time around, Matthew Lillard, (there is no better Shaggy), gets to play more with Scooby. Linda Cardellini still has the Velma vibe going and Neil Fanning is the Scooby voice master. Sadly, Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar still do not understand who Fred and Daphne are or what they are about. It's distracting to see preppie Fred turned into a valley/skaterboy and I do not remember Daphne being so vapid and self-involved. Peter Boyle makes a perfect Old Man Wickles, cranky and completely bothered by the very existence of Mystery, Inc., Tim Blake Nelson in his brief appearances as Jacobo looks completely crazed. Alicia Silverstone was adept as a TV reporter who apparently has a bit of a grudge against Daphne. That leaves the stars of this movie, the monsters, most of which are CGI and voiced by experienced voice actors in the usual cartoon manner, but four of the ghosts are actually humans inside elaborate costumes. They did an excellent job of acting through the layers of prosthetic makeup, costuming and physical absence of their CGI screen mates. The added effects of glowing randomonium and varying degrees of transparency combined with complete obedience to their leader, the Evil Masked Figure, made the danger to the inhabitants of Coolsville apparent.

The sets, costumes, music, sound effects, visual effects, it all works to transfer the small-screen cartoon to the big screen in live action. For Game Boy Advance players, stay until after the very last name in the credits has rolled to see what Scooby Doo has just for you.
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Tilt (2003)
An ambitious undertaking that would make Don Quixote proud
21 March 2004
I've seen Tilt at a few different screenings. Each time I find myself amazed at how well done this is. I am intimately familiar with most of the story behind the making of this little film and it is Quixotic in it's own right. True to form, Lance Peverley and Patrick Stark set out determined to bring this story to life and they did. It took them 4 years to get all the bits and pieces assembled into a finished product. The cast and crew getting together whenever their schedules permitted and working from donations of time, equipment and money, they held on to their vision and saw it through. To see this movie and hear the story behind it is truly an experience.

This version of the story brings the ancient tale to modern day but all the old familiar names are there. As in Cervantes's tale, Don Quixote is persistent in his belief in chivalry and honour. He clings to the old ways and is reluctant to give way to modern behaviours. He sees things in a different way, the smoke stack of a factory is a beast to be conquered, his bicycle is his trusty steed and the hapless man stranded by a transit strike who tries to help suddenly finds himself to be the sidekick to the deluded Quixote.

There are many familiar faces among the cast, you'll recognize Tom Braidwood (from The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen), C. Ernst Harth (from episodes of The X-Files, Millennium, First Wave, and countless feature films, most recently Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed), as well as Glenn Taranto and Michael Roberds from The New Addams Family.

Terry Gilliam has not been as lucky or successful in bringing his version of the Don Quixote story to life, in the documentary that tells of his efforts he alludes to a curse upon any movie version of the tales of Don Quixote. Cervantes himself had his own obstacles to overcome before bringing the story to fore. If the curse is true, then Peverley and Stark may have conquered it.
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Dreamcatcher (2003)
Creative entertainment, hallucination, nightmare or dream?
24 March 2003
Dreamcatcher the book encompasses all of the things that have gone 'bump' inside all of our heads at one time or another. Dreamcatcher the movie tries to take a small bite out of the huge smorgasbord of the book and run it straight through all the extremes as it follows 4 childhood friends who led relatively uneventful lives until the day they meet Duddits (Andrew Robb/child and Donnie Wahlberg/adult). Duddits is a special child with special gifts and lessons to give to his friends. His friends just simply accept him and his gifts without too much question but they know that it is this common bond of "being weird" that will keep them together.

As adults each of the four, Henry `H' Devlin (Thomas Jane), Gary `Jonesy' Jones (Damian Lewis), Joe "Beaver" Clarendon (Jason Lee) and Pete Moore (Timothy Olyphant), have had their successes and failures. Henry is a psychiatrist who finds himself resenting his patients. He knows what they're thinking and they are always thinking the same thing. One day he lets his dissatisfaction get the better of him and he lets one patient, Barry Nieman (C. Ernst Harth) know it. He tells Barry things that Barry has barely allowed himself to think let alone ever say out loud to anyone. Barry is completely humiliated and frightened by this and gets out of Henry's office in a hurry. Meanwhile, in a 'saved by the bell' moment, his friend, college professor Jonesy phones H just before the start of his meeting with a promising student who has been caught cheating on a test and Jonesy, perhaps seeing promise in the young man, gives David Defuniak (Jonathan Kasdan) a second chance. Then, just as Jonesy is leaving for the day, he almost gets his own 'saved by the bell' moment when friend Beaver gives him a call but isn't really sure why he called. The only person not saved by any bells was Pete. In fact, yet another belle shot him down.

We fast forward 6 months and depressed Henry, crippled Jonesy, pitiful Pete and good-time Beaver have arrived at their hunting cabin for their 20th annual deer hunt. They enjoy what turns out to be their last night of drink, laughs and reminiscing before the whole world changes. Enter two lost and gastrointestinally afflicted hunters from another party, aliens and a special US Military task force to deal with them led by a Colonel who has a set of seriously scrambled marbles in his head. Colonel Curtis (Morgan Freeman) has spent so much of his career on top-secret missions that he is completely out of touch with reality. His second-in-command, Owen Underhill (Tom Sizemore), knows the guy is nuts but he also knows that if he lets his boss know what he knows then his goose is most thoroughly cooked. His only choice is to play along and wait for the cavalry to ride in and save the day. It doesn't take long for things to go from bad to worse and straight on into impossible.

The acting is smooth; the 4 main adult characters are completely believable as lifelong buddies, the boys that portrayed them as children did a great job as did Andrew Robb as they young Duddits. The cinematography is outstanding; the opening title sequence is very cool, the CGI, animatronics and puppetry are among the best in the biz.

Dreamcatcher is not your average movie. It's a story with so many familiar scenarios that some people seem to have gotten caught up with identifying these scenarios as cheap imitations, rip-offs, cop-outs and errors. It's not that at all.... it's deja vu. This story demands that you suspend your sense of logic and reason for 135 minutes. If you can do that and enjoy the animatrix short that preceded it, then why can't you do that with a film that has live human beings acting out the fictional lives of fictitious persons?
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The Barber (2002)
The Barber is a cut above
21 November 2002
This movie has so much going for it. I've seen it several times and still can't get enough. There's a cougar, eccentric townfolk, hunters and the barber everyone knows. The Barber has some great humour, surprises and suspense all performed by a talented cast brought to life through a very smart script.

Buffalo and Levi, like Lemmon and Matthau on crack, make me laugh out loud every time. Philip Granger's Levi is deliciously lecherous and C. Ernst Harth's Buffalo is his simple yet sincere sidekick. John Destry's Cecil, the long suffering widower is a man very familiar with the edge of sanity. The troubled Chief Corgan is superbly portrayed by Jeremy Ratchford with Paul Jarrett as his sidekick, Everett. Malcolm McDowell, perfectly cast as Dexter Miles, is at his creepy best, I've always loved his voice so the fact that he narrates this movie is a real treat for me.

The story begins on the last day of daylight in Revelstoke, Alaska, finding the townsfolk preparing themselves for the dark season. Jim's Chat & Chew is the local gathering spot in the day hours with the Liquor Pig being the favorite haunt at night, somewhere in the middle, the residents of this quiet town cross paths with the barber, some getting more than they bargain for.

The lighting, scenery and atmosphere combined with the music fits so very perfectly with the story and the cast to make this a very watchable movie. Highly recommended.
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Creepy effects-laden horror, cinematic perfection
26 October 2001
The opening scene in the junkyard was gruesome, loud and spectacularly awash in bloody visuals.

The scene that introduces the audience to Arthur Kriticos and family was superbly done, the slow circular transition between what once was and what is now was a work of art. Matthew Lillard was absolutely the perfect choice for Dennis Rafkin, I can't think of any other actor that could have brought that level of manic intensity to that role. F. Murray Abraham was completely smarmy as Cyrus Kriticos and had me thinking that Cyrus's parents were perhaps never married. Rah Digga did her job well as comic relief; the audience chuckled nervously in all the right spots. Plenty of gasps and exclamations were heard from the members of the packed movie theatre.

The ghost cast, oh my, menacing, chilling, frightening. I'm not sure which ones were scarier, the noisy ones like The Juggernaut, The Hammer and The Jackal or the quietly threatening ones like The Angry Princess, The Great Child and The First Born Son. The make-up, set design and effects crews did an amazingly outstanding job; I have never seen anything like this before. The sound effects were perfect from the grinding gears to the ghostly murmurings.

I have seen the original 13 Ghosts movie complete with "Illusion-O!" effects on DVD and it was gloriously cheesy, William Castle made scary movies for fun, they were meant to be fun and the remake is no different in that respect; it is a fun movie, complete immersion in sights and sounds. This version kept the number of ghosts, the general foundational premise and both movies are loaded with tongue in cheek references and humor but that is where the two films part company, as they should, they were created 41 years apart so of course the remake should take advantage of the advances in film technology.

I really enjoyed this movie, I wish it had been a bit longer, spent a little more time on the background of those incredibly angry ghosts, fleshed out the living characters just a bit more, perhaps moved just a little bit slower but then, the fast-paced frenetic energy and aural/visual stimulation of the movie is what kept my eyes glued to the screen.

Hooray to these moviemakers for making a fun movie for the sole purpose of entertainment. I recommend this movie to all who enjoy going to the theatre to turn off your mind and just be entertained for a couple of hours, this is comic book horror in big screen perfection.
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13 Ghosts (1960)
Scary fun
19 October 2001
AMC recently aired this on television, no special viewer needed to see the ghosts. Even taking into account how much the special effects industry has advanced in the 41 years since this movie was filmed it was still scary. Margaret Hamilton was perfection as Elaine, the creepy housekeeper that comes with the house. The family members went all out with their lines, facial expressions and interactions with the ghosts - bottom line, it is still a scary movie but so much fun to watch and now a permanent addition to my movie collection.

It may be that when this movie was new and people were seeing it for the first time the effects were quite frightening. When you watch the movie today, compared to the special effects we're used to seeing, it comes off as spectacularly cheesy, reveling in all it's glory as an icon of the times. That alone is reason enough to see it at least once.
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Valentine (2001)
Hallmark won't ever carry these Valentines
24 August 2001
Seen one teen slasher movie seen them all right? Well, not exactly. This one keeps you guessing all the way to the end. I'm personally not a big fan of slasher movies, especially the ones where the villain keeps coming back to life, thank goodness the writers didn't give in to that cliche. On the whole, not a bad movie, certainly one to add to your collection and repeat. Good writing, acting, filming and no B-movie screaming.
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Clever ethereal heart touching love story
24 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Love being the driving force that sends Joseph on a quest to find and save Grace. Love being the driving force behind a lot of things people do that seem to make no sense to anyone else. Joseph would have travelled to the ends of the earth for his Grace. He never worried that his flaws would be a hindrance, without regard for himself, his only focus being on Grace and his quest to save her, all from a photo on a flyer. Crazy? perhaps, but isn't that what love is all about? Diving right in and doing anything it takes to be there with your beloved? Doing anything at all for them? Cinderella for the realist.

I loved this movie, it's clever, witty and has more than just a few sweet spots. A fine job of writing, the actors superb, the black and white filming makes this movie as timeless as any fairy tale and much more realistic too. Would be nice if a video release would come out, this is a great movie to add to one's collection.
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Dark Water (2001)
Dark Water is as clear as Evian in the hot sun
23 August 2001
I had the pleasure, yes, pleasure, of seeing this movie recently - the underlying story line itself is an intriguing subject - vigilante justice and just how far would one go to avenge others? I was most interested in seeing just how this would be handled and in which direction the writers would take us. Overall it wasn't a horrible film, certainly not quite as bad as the critics seemed to think. At times it seemed that the witty remarks came from too much concentrated effort rather than from spontaneity, the lines sometimes contrived and the dream sequence was extremely bizarre.

The circular route in the beginning didn't really serve much purpose for setting the story other than to let us know that David was a disturbed individual.

There was a bit of a lag in the middle of the movie but overall it was worth seeing. The twist at the end was a good touch though not a complete surprise, I think audiences now expect to see such twists.

The acting in some parts seemed too well rehearsed, the cameos however, were quite spontaneous in their feel.

This movie had a lot of potential, too bad it was not captured and portrayed to it's full extent.
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Fun Movie
9 August 2001
Good fun movie, okay so maybe some of the situations were a little fantastical but come on, it's a movie, right? Christopher Walken is so good at being bad, Alicia Silverstone at being pouty and poor Benecio, so good at being confused. Good movie to just sit back, relax and enjoy some stress-free time with. Pretty Boy meets Cute Princess.
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Camouflage (2001)
Camouflage Equals Hilarity
8 August 2001
There is nobody who can come close to Leslie Nielsen when it comes to spoofs and narratives and Camouflage is absolutely the best example of this exquisite talent. The movie is laugh out loud funny, and a definite must see! Perfect blend of comedic performances.
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Funny for the sake of funny
7 August 2001
Every now and then a movie comes along that reminds us that sometimes it's good to laugh at the silly, inane and ridiculous just for the sake of laughter. With all the pressures of the grown-up world this is a movie to give you a break from all that and find that kid inside you that laughs at complete and utter silliness and gross-out jokes. If you are looking for lessons or philosophies then try these on for size, simple pleasures, like pancakes, can be the best, things are rarely what they seem and no matter how well you think you've set your plans out - there's going to be a glitch somewhere so you might as well laugh and roll with the punches.
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Catch Me If You Can (1998 TV Movie)
Good, Fun Movie
7 August 2001
A bit of action, a bit of danger, a bit of comedy and even a little light romance (toasted oat cereal by candlelight - perfect!). I really enjoyed this movie, Ryan DeBoer was terrific as the obnoxious kid you start out hating and end up appreciating for his wit and guts. William Katt was positively evil, Tim Matheson did a great job of someone struggling against his own guilt and sense of duty. Luther, completely menacing in his silence was portrayed perfectly by C. Ernst Harth. Sit back and enjoy the scenic ride this movie takes you on, all sorts of little twists and turns to keep you guessing.
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