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J R's Images & Ideas

Latest Movies    Other alphabetized pages include:

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Movies on this page start with
J, K or  L

S = sex, NS = no sex, pink date is either when the movie was made or when I saw it, + = especially good DVE special features.


I've grown to love Terry Gilliam movies — Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen, Time Bandits, Fisher King, 12 Monkeys — so, that when I learned there was a post-Python production I'd never seen, I did. And, well, sometimes I'm kinda slow.

I hated watching what I first took for a long, dull heap of stupidity upon inanity upon gross-out Middle Ages satire. I thought Jabberwocky*** was completely without humor, although I did like the dragon/monster that gets slain, near the end.

Later, while watching most of it again with Gilliam and Michael Palin's commentary, I warmed to the insanity. Suddenly, all the tedious idiocies were laugh-out-loud funny, and I did — like it took talking about it to understand all those gags buried in the mire. It helps that these two guys genuinely like each other and have for decades. And that they make fun of the movie and each other all during.

Jackass*** is fabulously funny in a few places, but oftener innane, macho or downright masochistic. Not as good as the early episodes of the TV show. 2003

Post-Modernism gave permission. It let architects and everybody else mix styles in the same structure. Not be bound by traditional rules. Set your chickens free. It let movie-makers mix time lines, well beyond A to B with flashbacks. Allowed them to confuse their viewers without the promise of bringing it all back together in logic and time by the end. When that feat is delivered, we have lift off. But it's a dark place in the beginnings and the middles, when it was always before, the ends that gave us fits.

This one ends well, with the second death of our hero. But it's what goes on in the big middle that gathers into sense in The Jacket****. There's where the characters develop and the story is told. Masterfully with superb performances by some I'd thought lost to great films — Kris Kristopherson, Jennifer Jason Lee. Adrien Brody's no slouch, either.

Shortly after the beginning I didn't want to watch anymore. I cleaned my kitchen instead. I futzed with this website. Eventually, I rejoined the story where I'd let if off. Big payoff. I want to see it again, watch all the Special Features, see if there's a commentary, dig that. Maybe ***** instead of just 4 asterisks.

Long-time readers of my reviews remember how I love chronosynclastic infidelium, an idea introduced in Kurt Vonnegut's story about Billy Pilgrim's slide through time and space. This is another time-travel scenario, but more in the vein of Somewhere In Time than The Time Machine. Grimy and noir, crazy at first, like its hero, this film develops into a human film.


Jackie Brown***/ is a lot like Pulp Fiction. Maybe too much. Implied violence (blood splatters but you don't get to see the wounds), altered time-lines. Real-life dialogue, believable characters. Smart, intricate plot. Funny, sharp. 1997

Jackie Brown** is a joyous little cinemagraphic romp. Not quite Pulp Fiction, but close. Lots of unique characters, some we almost even care about. It's an intricate double-cross caper flick with a Black Sploitation flavor and a log of famous actors doing a good job. It's fun to watch. 1998

James & the Giant Peach **** is delightful, funny, mature — I laughed out loud more than the kids all around us. Smart, pretty wonderful, all told. A delight. 1996

Jane Eyre *** is competent and beautiful, but something's missing — like great heaping gobs of the plot. 1996

Started to say it didn't count, but I checked. It's not on these lists, so seeing Jaws**** again after all these years does count. What a rip-roaring movie. Oooof!

I watched as much as I could of Jeff Dunham: Arguing with Myself**/ but there is a limit. Kinda funny for a comedy TV show, but the hilarity doesn't hold up, the dummies are innane, and I could almost always see his mouth and throat moving.

I hoped to really like Jesus’ Son**/, but that never happened. Now I cannot remember much about the movie except I really never much liked it.

Jerry McGuire**/ — See Tom Cruise acquire character. So what? 1996

More poignant than any other emotion, I suppose. Jeremiah Johnson**** is a mountain man, seen some trouble, too little joy, Keeps going higher into those hills. A gentle movie for all its killing and retribution. Robert Redford in a classic. Memorable. It keeps coming back, not to haunt, but to think through.

Jesse Stone - Thin Ice*** with Tom Seleck as the gentle, kind police chief is another one of those movies I know what to expect, and get it every time. Has to have been a made for some cable channel TV movie, and it was delicious.

I love Jesse Stone mysteries. I've just added three more, No Remorse, Sea Change and Night Passage, and I hope to see all the rest soon as they become available as DVDs or digital movies to watch on my Mac. Jesse, as played by Tom Selleck, is a compassionate and intelligent crime-solver with a drinking problem and a haranguing ex-wife — and a marvelous collection of good and bad friends who help him.

I don't remember anything about Jesus' Son*** now, two weeks later, except that I think I remember that I liked it.

Hard to imagine Joan Rivers as endearing, and she probably would not appreciate ir or approve, but in Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work***, she gradually builds up to endearing. If only because of her brutal honesty. I hoped it would be funny, and it was — well, funny enough. I hoped I'd learn who she really is, and I have. I sincerely hoped I'd get to see behind the mask, and there's much to be seen back there.

Joe Gould's Secret**** is gentle, odd, bittersweetness building slowly to to truly eccentric and quite mad. The first Tucci little movie I've ever really loved. Simultaneously lovable and abhorrent characters. Sometimes joyous, but just as often sad, the story of a crazy man in the streets of New York, supposedly writing one of the Great Books.

Joe's Apartment * is easily one of the worst movies ever made — except for the cockroaches, which are wonderful***/. They shoulda dumped all the stupid actors and just let the roaches run through their routines. 1996

Jude *** has great novelistic scope. Joy in the middle and only one predictable scene. Beautiful. Historic. Take someone you love, but not your cousin. 1996

Judy Berlin***/ was hard to watch. It's slow, dark and in black and white. Gradually, it draws together into an uplifting little piece of film with memorable snippets and strange characters. 2000

Julien Donkey Boy**** is one of those rare independent movies that create a new and different world that looks very strange indeed, with its garrish colors, grainy film and surrealistic style, as well as its unique yet extremely sympathetic characters. It's appropriately slow, never tedious, but amazing, affecting and memorable. 1999

I blew it. I had the chance to go see Julie & Julia**** with dear friends soon after it came out, and I didn't go, because I imagined an entirely different kind of movie than what I've just watched and joyed all the way through. Corny to call it delightful after probably every other movie reviewer in the known universe probably did, too, but it was. It still lingers. The mingling of the two characters in the two time periods and all their friends and lovers was magnificent.

Jumanji *** is a fun scary movie, except for the dumb looking animated monkeys. 1996

I knew Jumper***/ wasn't going to be great, and it has plot holes the size of Gibraltar. Either nobody could figure how to bridge them, or with so much else physical absurdity going on, nobody noticed or cared. I remember local film critic Philip Wunch saying he didn't like the movie Stargate because the story was improbable. When you're talking — or movieing — teleportation, you know it's going to be a little different. So we got teenaged angst, puppy love that never gets much beyond that, and a lot of action with Samuel L. Jackson and other paladins running around murdering jumpers, so the action gets high-powered, and to a limited but unpredictable extent, smart. But it's wild, mostly true to the premise, fast and exciting fun.

Junebug**** encompasses a sweet earnestness. A high powered art dealer from Chicago and her husband, who's from there, visit North Carolina. He for family. She to get a very strange Outsider Artist under contract. Everybody we meet is a distinctive human being with follies, foibles, undercurrents and heart. Netflix calls the family dysfunctional, but that's just because they are, as usual, not paying attention. Although there's some palpable dysfunction going on — especially in the homecomer's mostly incapable and uncomprehending little brother, whose wife is about to give birth. It's a poignant, subtle and deeply human story of homecoming and the connections and disconnections that matter, but often can't be helped. Muted, gentle and heartfelt.

The Juniper Tree*** is Bjork's first film, a strange, little, affecting black and white movie, set in a mythical, rural Iceland, about two sisters who find a man whose wife has died, and his son who does not accept the elder as his new mother. Gently, slowly, the sisters' sorcery is revealed. One's magic is dark — and the other, who learns her powers as we watch, is not. A simple tale, revealed carefully and efficiently. 2003 VHS

A little over several edges with quirk, but lotsa great lines, more than a few great characters and an outstanding story put together craftfully, even artfully. Juno****

Just Another Love Story**** is anything but. Norse film about a man who assumes the identify of another man to comfort a woman, leaving his wife and children behind in the mists of memory. The truth of this-trans identity story is told in lies, and it is believed and eventually understood.



Kabluey***/ has major quirk and, at the beginning at least, thoroughly despicable and unlikable characters, who, by the end, are all hunky-dory again. The progress between is strange, unlikely and difficult, but the ending is happy, even if it doesn't make all the sense it might or should.

I avoided this movie for more than two years till tonight, when I needed a time-travel flick. In it Meg Ryan plays a snot, her brother a boob, and Hugh Jack man a duke wrenched unceremoniously from a prior century to contemporary New York. If Meg had more charm I might have begun to like this one earlier, but she didn't until near the end, and while ya gotta admire a little character development, Meg turns the corners so fast nobody can believe the hogwash. Still, it's an almost charming little movie about a woman who probably still doesn't believe, but she's back there now, and who cares? Kate & Leopold**. Not the worst time-travel flick ever. In fact, almost pleasant but not very smart, and it ignores logic and any of the enigmas of traveling in time.

Keeping the Faith***/ is broadly funny, even slapstick sometimes. But it's also smart, sad, sharp, and and on-target romance. The actors are eminently believable, and the movie fairly sings. April's best flick saved till the end. 2000

Kerouac *** is a public TV documentary about beat poet and novelist Jack Kerouac, his life and times, informative, interesting... 1996

Lemme see if I got this right: Two kids of two lesbian moms want to see the sperm donator for each of their births, contact him, find a nice-enough guy who's made something of himself since selling the sperm, though not academically. He falls for one of the moms, and she for him, so they have an affair. Just as the other mom is falling for the sperm donor, they are overheard fighting about it, and everybody's mad at Dad but mostly okay with the mom in the affair. Then the family takes the daughter who initiated contact to college, and they all decide to keep Dad out of their lives forever and ever. But at least The Kids Are All Right***, and it's nobody's fault but his. Right?

Kiki's Delivery Service*** is yet another one of Hayao Miyazaki's heartwarming animations from a world where no one has ulterior motives or evil thoughts. Refreshing, actually, and a world that accepts magic without getting het up about its presence everywhere. This time it's a witch moving to a new town to extend her training.

I don't think I've ever checked the time-left info so often in one movie, but Kill Bill 2** wore and bore on with thinly connected plot lines and thick, glitzy, orange style. Not bad if you like that sort of thing, but I don't. Tedious.

The Killing*** was a complex heist flick seriously marred by my Netflix disk stopping short never to go again at just the crucial moment. I know what happened and mostly don't care. Okay for a early 60s flick but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it through, didn't ask Netflix to send me another copy.

Kind of a Funny Thing** is a long, slow, tedious, minutely quirkesque but mostly boring movie about a teenager who checks himself into a psych ward so he won't kill himself. It has its moments but not enough. A couple characters are unique, most are in every mildly romantic or shrink ward flick out there. It is badly done, badly organized. Falls apart entirely several times, muggles it together, then dies on the vine. It is possible they can put it all back together, but I doubt it.

I saw Kingdom of Heaven**, because Jeremy Irons is in it, even though director Ridley Scott didn't make much use of him. This essentially stupid movie has a plot, of sorts, and a bunch of whom I suspect are famous actors and a solid cinnematographer, ignoring some really cheesy special effects and remarkably bad editing. Oh, and moral ambiguity. Not so much in the story, but in the minds of who made this mess.

Kings and Queen*** is a French film with subtitles about one woman and the men in her life. Many of the characters are fascinating, but I got bored about half way through, then didn't watch the rest sequentially and that and the damned subtitles drove me crazy. It won a bunch of awards, so I probably have not done it justice, but I was so glad to mail it back.

I saw The King Is Alive*** at the Video Association of Dallas' Magnolia Lounge, and except for the cold ( to keep the projector from melting ) and unslumpable chairs, it was a delightful experience. The King is the fourth of the DOGME films, which eschew fake settings, lighting and tricky cinnematography. It took some getting used to the rawness of the visual presentations sometimes, but the story and actors were riveting. 2001

I wondered whether an update of King Kong***/ could possibly be worth sitting through three hours of a story we all already know. Well, it's a mixed bag. Old Kong and the young lady scenes are probably worth the admission, but we have to put up with a lot of stupidity to get to those golden scenes, laced with Hollywoodian sincerity. What this version has a lot more of is empathy. Yup, it's a love story, and an impossible one at that. We all know how it ends, as it always does when we humans encounter a new speices. 2006

The King of Masks*** — heart-warming. good story. wonderful characters. odd, set in 1930s China. Interesting place and time, neat old man, ingenious little boy girl.

Kinsey*** is obviously extracted and extrapolated from the truth, one of those stories of courageous endeavors that seem in hindsight to have been essential to our current understanding of that most controversial of human activities, sex. Then, though, it was a battle against almost everybody just to find out what we humans do, how we express our sexuality. Now, thanks to Kinsey, we know. Then, such knowledge was taboo. Now, it's almost common knowledge. Almost. Good enough flick, noble fictionalized story, decent acting.

Kissed***/ — Obviously, a movie about a woman who gets off on dead men is not for everybody. Still, it's beautiful ( the carwash scene is exquisite. ) and intense, if predictable plot. 1997

In Kiss or Kill***the dialogue is mostly spontaneous. Editing is oddball and annoying — but we got used to it. An On The Road murder mystery, sorta. Appealing but not great. 1997

Kolya***/ is a heart-warming, real-people flick set on the background of de-Communisting Central Europe. 1997

Nature: Koko****, on the same topic and using the same characters, is fascinating, humane and beautiful. The biggest difference between these two documentaries is time. Hokey in the 70s. Beautiful when Nature does it 35 years later.

Barbet Schroeder's Koko: A Talking Gorilla* is lame and so unintelligent it's unwatchable by anyone with a soul. Its mindset is stuck in the 1950s, confusing communication with rote signing. Monkeys have thoughts and feelings, but this movie does not.

The Knife In the Water second disk*** of Roman Polanski's early, mostly student, mostly black and white films was historically interesting, quirky, odd, sometimes goofy, sometimes mean. But with Netflix a double disk set counts as two flix, so I'll have to wait for the other disk to see Knife itslef. Slowly, slowly, I'm crawling through the DVD history of film.  

[The one, major drawback about the interface on this disk, is that you can never go back or forward, slow or fast. Ya just gotta watch it or end it, and I was tempted to end it several times when I'd wanted to go back and figure something out. A major drawback when I'm trying to figure things out.]

I seem to be in a cheap sci-fi mode these days, although this one probably cost a pretty penny. Knowing***, like any mediocre Nick Cage flick these years, is a little goofy, a lot of action that doesn't really go anywhere, some hyper hysterics with a dollop or more of science and a little religion. Strange enough bedfellows. This is an end of the world scenario that can only go one where. Depressing but entertaining and more than a little depressing.

K-PAX**** is two simultaneous, seemingly mutually exclusive plot lines converging in one bizarre, but credibly science fiction clash between space cadet Kevin Spacey, and his anything but calm shrink, Jeff Bridges. Solid acting, of course, and often beautiful filming, centering on the movie's central metaphor of light and darkness. And there are moments of filmic joy. Visually, it's usually dark, but the gist of the story is light, and it's often funny — only rarely, darkly so. In an oddly oblique fashion, the movie mixes Awakenings, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, a good detective novel, and the gentlest of mind-warp science fiction. It's a guessing game that leaves us questioning till well after the flick is finished. 2001

I wasn't at all sure about a movie named Kung Fu Panda***/. Sounded like a kid's flick, but would I like it, too? Yes, indeedy. Great animation, good solid story. The intro/titles were art. Real visual art. The rest of the movie is pretty terrific action, characters, etc, but very different from Pixar, Disney and the rest. But the titles are real live graphic art. Wasn't anything else I didn't like about it, either. It works, and it works good. With a **** for the title sequence.

Kurosawa*** - A Documentary of the Acclaimed Director offers a great biography, not nearly enough film clips.

Kurt Cobain: About A Son**** is a searing set of interviews with the man who became the amazing rock star. A different sort of story telling with Kurt talking straight about who he is, his life, loves and everything; superb visuals of the people and places of the cities he grew up in; a scintillating soundtrack of appropriate music by everybody else; and Kurt's and Courtney's and the interviewer's voices. Gorgeous visuals. No soundtrack CD. I looked.

Kwik Stop***/ is one of the quirkiest flicks I've seen in a long long time. Starts off looking like yet another hoodly wild teenagers off to LA road trip movie, then veers significantly into accidental true love and abandonment, goes off to prison awhile, brakes into an oddly escape and ends up with the real thing in one of the stranger couplings we've seen. But it might just work.



L.A.Confidential**** may well be the best drama of the year. Murky, dark, violent, Chinatown-esque film noir with great acting, superb plot, and incredible dark, moody cinematography. 1997

We saw Cynthia Mondell's The Ladies Room** at Dallas' last (my) neighborhood theater, The Lakewood. It's women of all ages talking about what women talk about in the ladies room. Only 42 minutes long, it's carefully paced, funny, sad, serious, nearly X-rated and smart. 1998

Ladder 49*** is a good enough movie about firemen. The fires are a little fakey, but everything else is a hair above good enough.

M. Night Shyamalan is why I watched. Slow to start, it gathers pace and a band of misfits to fight the evil after a woman who lives under the apartment swimming pool. A story about a Story within a story, self-reflexive and interlocking like a complex clock. Intelligent and magic. Good vs. Evil. Lady In the Water*** is a little movie big on heart with a heavy dose of quirk and multicultural community.

The Lady Vanishes** is a truly minor Hitchcock, one of his early, successful stepping stones, but I never really cared if they found the lady, who shows up eventually anyway. Ho hum.

La Jette***/is the French "movie" upon which 12 Monkeys was based. Tale told in narration and still black & white photos. Terrible print but nice story. It almost explains the 12 Monkeys plot. 1996

Some movies are exterior, full of action, adventure, sweeping panoramas, beautiful sights. Though Lantana**** is visually beautiful, it is deeply interior. What's inside these oddly intertwined characters is important. Their relationships, trust, honesty or lack, what they tell each other is important, and it becomes important to us. This fine film is full of little ironies and similar in important ways to Ice Storm, yet original to itself. 2002

Larry Flint***/ presents a superb performance by Courtney Love. Her hopeless Heroin addict was perfect. Solid story. Sudden, inexplicable development in Woody Harrelson (Larry Flint)'s otherwise fine-crafted character. Memorable and meaningful. 1997

Sometimes the real world, as it's called, is just too much of a pain, so it's comforting to find a movie as quirky and humanely moving, yet deeply funny, as Lars and the Real Girl***/, where once we accept this difficult alternate reality, like everyone else in the movie gradually comes to, everything is beautiful. Amazing movie about acceptance. Lars, it probably should be mentioned, buys a blow-up woman and keeps her and goes out with her and seems to think she's real.

The Last Airbender**/ goes around bending a bunch of stuff, and there's a planet's worth of good and bad soldiers, and good spirits and, oh, what a mess. I enjoyed it but perversely. I especially liked its pop (or is that pap) magic, but as a movie it is a disgrace and disaster. Plenty grandiosity, not nearly enough story to hold it together.

The Last Castle** sappy2002

Last Dance **** — Beautiful cinematography. Sharon Stone finally gets to act. And does it well. Excellent flick. Forever overshadowed by Dead Man Walking. They shoulda kept this one in the can awhile longer, so more people would have seen it. 1996

The Last Detective*** — a TV series about an older detective in a Brit cop shop — he's the last detective his boss would want to set on a case, yet he plods away at their complexity and solves every one.

Like every other Hollywoodish movie involving famous — or infamous — Black people, Idi & The White Kid somehow had to be made with a white star. Hardly matters that the White kid plays a stupid, naive fool, he still gets more screen time and plot involvement than the remarkably fine actor Forest Whittaker. Not for nothing that the inane, grinning White Kid didn't get nominated. The Last King of Scotland**/ is an over-dramatic (the music at the end is truly stupid) film documenting the ineptitude of White People verses the true, but inspired insanity of one Black man. Interesting but not notable.

Last of the Dogmen */ — Mediocre writing and plodding, stupid hollywood plot. Still, I enjoyed this romp in sci fi anthropology. The last of the Cherokees in the wild. Yeah, sure. 1996

The Last Supper ***/ is somewhere among Shallow Grave, Eating Raul and My Dinner with Andre. Sardonically funny. Goofy plot. Tense. 1996

The Last Mimzy***/ is a science fiction children's tale — about them, not for them (rated NR) — in which a young brother and sister discover a mysterious lump that, when they think about it and explore, becomes something like a toy box that makes them smarter, then becomes much more, expanding their minds — all the while shrinking all the adults' — helping heal future generations. Unfortunately, that far future bit is terminally cute, way too flowery and just goofy, while the present tense, where it's genius children vs. freaked-out scared stupid adults, in a sort of a thinking person's Disney (Think Flubber, not Herbie.) An odd, but often intriguing cross of new age jumbo mumbo, real science and hope.

Been busy and kept getting bored with Last Orders***, so I saw it over about a week late at night. Seemed humdrum, querulous, slow but with a fine cast including Michael Caine, Helen Mirren and Bob Hoskins, but gradually the glorified pub crawl road movie unfurls the story of Jack, his wife, son, daughter and their friends in a bittersweet charmer.

The Last Waltz*** has been on my NetFlix queue for more than a year. I wanted to see it but not that much. I was never caught up in The Band. Nice to see those other musicians, though. Especially Joni Mitchell singing Coyote; Bob Dylan having obvious fun being himself among old friends, no pretense or holding back; did not care any for many of the players or The Band itself. I fast-forwarded through many of their bits; Lawrence Ferlinghetti was fabulous and brief; Emmylou Harris is probably why I rented the flick. She was awful young, didn't seem to participate past her brief appearance. Another marvelous long moment was the excised "informal jam." I guess there are formal jams, but isn't that the point? This one included Ringo, Dr. John, Ron Wood, Neil Young, Garth Hudson, Eric Clapton, Levon Helm, Carl Raddle, Robbie Robertson, Stephen Stills and Paul Butterfield. Wow. I played it four times. Liked it much better than the movie.

Richard Chamberlain stars in Peter Weir's The Last Wave**** from 1977, in which Chamberlain's character, an Australian lawyer attempts to defend tribal aborigines from the Aussie court system, fails notably but reconnects with his own mythical past. Lots of very credible magic shown with great compassion and deep understanding. Amazing film, sterling story, timeless. Nice, quick interview with writer/director Weir is the only special feature.

Laura Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life**** out-Bonds Bond. She's sex-y without being sex-ist; has gobs of gorgeous scenery; luscious special effects; a story way more than reminsicent of Indie and the Ark; a goofy, over-the-top and gone again evil villain; more culturally diverse collaborators than The Hoards of the Rings; and bigger and better and yes, faster, adventures than anybody in a long time — especially including all the Matrix and T clones. I've played and replayed and slo-mode and reverse slowmoed the amazing Hong Kong flying escape sequence dozens of times, and now I'm gonna go back and re-view the orb projection scene a couple more times, then back to the Shadow Protectors... Wow. 2003

Little movies aren't necessarily shorter movies, they just have shorter reach. This weekend I saw the big movie, The Horse Whisperers,**/ which was superb, if (but not at all too) long. And I saw a superb little movie, The Leading Man.***/ The big movie had two, essentially simple, intertwining plots — healing and romance. The little movie had a fairly simple plot of arranged romance, but it proceeded so complexly that the audience had to keep thinking all the way through. It was a much wilder ride than horseback — We didn't have to think during the big movie, but we wept and honked all through it. The little movie hardly jerked a tear, but it kept our minds engaged. The big flick was gorgeous and sentimental and grandly Hollywood. The little flick was intellectual, engaging, sardonic and Independent. The big movie had Robert Redford. The little movie had Bon Jovi. Both were just short of superb. 1998

I first saw Leap of Faith***/ when it came out, and it made a strong and lasting impression. I like movies where the lead always knows what's going on and what to do about it and does it. Here, Steve Martin is a bad faith preacher with a big show who, quite by fate, discovers the real thing. And it blows his mind. Excellent choral gospel music holds the story and presentation together. Maudlin characters and characterizations keep this from being a truly great movie, but I loved it, and I'll probably love it again in another decade. 1995

Mistuh Redford, he puts together sech fine, sentimental movies that are so pretty to watch and gentle in plot that I end up talking like Mistuh Bagger hisseff. A phlegm filler but a pleasant one, excellent characterizations, gorgeous cinematography, humane story, heavy on the moral, but Bobby cain't seem to hep hisseff. The Legend of Bagger Vance*** 2000

I'd long heard that it was, and Legend of the Drunken Master 2***/ is truly the all-time classic Jackie Chan movie. Amazingly fast-paced action sequences with the usual lame plot. Nobody goes to a Jackie Chan movie for the story. His and everybody else in this amazing movie's blazing action is fascinating to watch. I only wish I could have slo-motioned those scenes and clicked them frame-by-frame. 2000

It'd been a long time since I'd seen Lenny****. It was every bit as good as I remembered it — maybe better. The flawed hero fights the good fight. A fight that needs refighting every couple of decades, it seems — something about Freedom of Speech. The power of words. The humor of shock. Great acting, especially by lead Dustin Hoffman. Scintillating story. An 8 or 9 in historical accuracy. I remember being shocked last time I saw it. Not this time.

I would like to have heard and seen Leonard Cohen sing his own songs in the tribute, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man****, but I could almost always hear his voice vibrating below, inside or behind the singers anyway. Some performances were amazing — Martha and Rufus Wainright separately and together and Antony, who brought tears he was so perfect. That it also comprised an Cohen biography, instersticed into the bridges of songs and between them, made it nearly complete.

Letters from Iwo Jima*** is another war is stupid movie. Noble, ambitious, spectacularly better than its English-language companion, Flags of Our Fathers, stronger story, probably more accurate, better acting. But

LEXX**/ is a Brit Sci Fi named for its giant, bug-like mother ship. Unlike Red Dwarf, it's not played entirely for laughs, but it's not altogether serious, either. The bad guy is over the edge. The unrequited Love Slut shows a lot of skin sometimes and hangs out with a former Divine Assassin who's been dead for 6,000 years but can still kill multiple ATF agents (the real bad guys) in a flash. 2003

Liar Liar***is perhaps the best Jim Carrey movie ever. Lots of goofiness in service to a great plot. What if you had to tell the truth? 1997

I thought I'd seen a movie called Limbo***/ before, but not, apparently, this particular limbo. Alaska, a singer, her estranged daughter and her new boyfriend, a former fisherman with nightmares but not much discernable past, go on what they perceive as a pleasure cruise with his half-brother, only the half-brother is also only half-real, gets murdered, their boat's stolen, and they are hunted, but not found, leaving them on a cold island where they find what food they can and the daughter discovers another, long-ago daughter's diary and reads a little of it each night until help, if that's what it is, comes. The ending is whatever we think it is. We learn that the singer's daughter made most of the diary up, and the end just stops. Entertaining, engrossing, interesting, genuinely human, the diary stories are fascinating, the acting excellent, as is the story and credible characters.

The Lives of Others**** is about Stasi (secret police) and some of their victims in East Germany before the wall fell. This movie is exquisite. Gloomy but with a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Smart. Long enough to develop a deep plot. Superbly acted, the story is about mind control, loyalty, freedom, ideas, and of course, treachery.

Liberty Heights*** is another Jewish kids growing up in New York, real life, racism, budding romances and race-bridging friendships. Sweet movie. Gentle, mostly kind. Very nice. 2000


Most movies — even the great ones — made in the 1940 are so dated, even the colors reek of it. The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp***/ let me forget for most of the 2+ hours. A long novel of a movie, about the fleshing out of a cartoon character who became a hero early and a leader later. Fun story, solid acting and a new color technique called Technicolor make it a great watch.

Two truly absurd movies — Life is Beautiful***/ and Pleasantville***** are staying in my mind. 'Life' is brightly absurd for the first half, as a surrealistic tale of courtship plays out in this excellent Italian film. The second half is dark, set in the holocaust, but still the absurdist fantasy continues. Marvelous story, delightful characters, believable despite all the unpredictable joy and doom.

Pleasantville is a once-in-a-lifetime film that could only be a film, no other medium could support this primarily visual look at conformity and non. Great acting, outstanding dialog, truly superb and original film. You've never seen anything like either of these two films. Like I've said only rarely before, after you see these gems, you know you've been movied! 1998

Most of Light Sleeper***, I'm floating along watching, hoping that guy doesn't sing next time our hero thinks something. Fine enough little movie, except the stupid soundtrack guy singing every emotion, like it wasn't already obvious.

Good filming, a little bright maybe, noir flicks need dark. But good actors. David Spade — not that he's a good actor. But name people. Mostly the blurb says Susan Sarandon and Willem Defoe. He's the star. She's just there. He does all the gritty. Some other recognizable faces. Dena Delany — I've missed seeing her.

Impressive cast, characters, story, plot (maybe a little simplistic), filming. Everything but the stupid music. This movie is not marred by it, it's mauled. Anyway, I'm floating along, when it hits me I've seen this last 40 mintues before.

I remember it dark. Like an old TV with bad, dense color. Late night Cable. Nice to see the set-up, though. Okay flick. Terrible, dated soundtrack. Probably the best thing about it was the art in the background, and there wasn't near enough time to absorb that, too.


Limbo***/ is John Sayles' latest and greatest, exploring humans and their relationships, outliving the past and family. 1999

I saw The Limey,*** because of Peter Fonda's appearance in Ulee's Honey, where he was very well directed and actually appeared to be acting. In this violent film he puts up no pretence at all, but Terrence Stamp is fine. Because the film is presented in stacatto film style and editing, it looks different and difficult. The plot? Revenge. 1999

Little Dieter Needs to Fly***/ is a lot better than it sounds but not bigger. It's a little movie, oddened by its hero, who really is a hero, shot down in Viet Nam after knowing he needed to fly from the first time a Nazi plane buzzed his home on the way to destroying his villiage. I don't think I knew it was going to be another Werner Herzog movie, but it was a good one, full of hard quirk and entirely apt backgrounds and amazing retellings — it's usually just Dieter standing or leaning there telling his story, and what an amazing story, of escape, high and low adventure, of need, and of redemption.

Little Miss Sunshine*** is pleasant, fun, alternating silly and serious, even ironic, interesting, not exactly precisely plotted, but it does have some intriguing swerves, if not exactly twists, and even employs interesting characters with some development and a bunch of famous actors. But not hardly the best movie of last year.

I love Die Hard movies. All of them. Probably, they're all riddled with plot holes with all the bullet holes, but I don't care. I don't even care that Bruce Willis, whom I'll see anything he's in, is a nazi. I love his movies And Live Free or Die Hard***/ is another one. Exciting from the get go. Lots of fights and killing and mayhem and even some beautifully choreographed flying hamster scenes. Yee-haw.

Live from Baghdad*** was an unexpected delight. Of course, I'm a journalist, so I enjoyed that aspect, but made for TV or not, this is an intellectual adventure. Where has Michael Keaton been these years. I miss him.

I remember now, that I saw Living Out Loud***, a heart-warming romance between two very different people. Nice, but I can't remember very much about it, except it seemed very human and realistic, not Hollywooded to death. NS 1998

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels**/ is complex and confusing and often stupid. Violent, but most of that's off-screen. Three gangs inter-react in a 1999

Some movies age well. It's difficult to imagine a time when Logan's Run*/ was considered credible or intelligent. Old future sci fi comprises more contradictions and conundrums than time travel, which this movie is nowhere near as interesting as. Fanciful futures seem really old hat. Hard, too, to imagine that anyone anywhen considered the acting in this movie intelligible. Farah Fawcett plays a dumb blonde. Badly, of course, but remarkably badly. The "actors" (except Peter Ustinov), the plot, the dialog, the concepts, the director, the continuity, the story, the main set (a mall), the "future" are all lame. The only visual interests are the use of Fort Worth's Water Gardens as the secret underwater portal to The City and the circle dance to rebirth, which is actually death warmed over.

It was on TV, but it's a first-run movie, and I've been waiting six months to see it...

Lolita**** is a superb filmic adaption of Nobokov's classic American novel. The movie is deliciously, sinfully sensual, beautiful and stylish to see. The actors are outstanding. We read the book at my reading group recently — actually I had Jeremy Irons whisper it into my ear, via audio book — so it was vivid in my memory. The 60s movie version looks awful — dated and stupid — now. When the new movie hits theaters, I fervently look forward to seeing the other half of the movie lost to TV imaging (the left and right sides chopped off my reformatting to my TV set). Then I want to buy the letterbox version. This is an all-time great movie.

Saw it again, and loved it again. 1998

When its producers couldn't get anyone to distribute Lolita****, it was shown on HBO, so, a lot of people got to see it on TV (minus the half of the proscenium we miss when Cinemascope is adapted to video). But it never made it to the theaters, because United Artists dumped it without a chance. Superbly adapted from Nobokov's quintessential American novel, the story is about pedophilia and the nature of love and obsession. It is truly gorgeous to watch, full of superb performances and subtly visual progressions, it comes to an extremely violent end, and — of course — it's sexy all the way through. V+ but it's all in the novel. S, but usually subtle.

Certainly one of my all-time favorite movies is the 1997, Jeremy Irons remake of
Lolita**** I wanted to test the DVD, see whether I'd want to own it , add it to my tiny collection ( and I definitely do ) now comprising Breaking The Waves and Fargo. Lolita acquits itself nicely, replete with a full director's commentary, very nice additional footage and screen tests, as well as the near obligatory trailer, featurette and short bios of actors.

I'd forgot that it is 152 minutes long, but I knew it went on and on — as did author Vladimir Nobokov's superb, original novel ( This flick nets a rating of 8 out of 10 for sticking so close to the novel ). I'd never seen it in its full, wide-screen version before, since it was deemed too shocking to be theatrically distributed, although it was played endlessly on cable. I saw it there at least twice and had made a tape but always feel robbed, when I can only see movies reformatted for TV, with that tedious format's noxious pan and scan tricks that only hint at the more than half of the original movie's screen area that's missing. Worse, I suspect several scenes were deleted, even on cable.

This new Lolita is a luscious and sensuous film of a still controversial Great American Novel. It is simultaneously tantalizing and satisfying, titillating and chaste — blatantly subtle yet thoroughly complex. Irons is one of my all-time favorite actors, and here he scintilates, especially balanced against the virginal Dominique Swain.

It is a deeply guilty pleasure — and a treasure. +


. . . . . I kept thinking about both Lolitas — Stanley Kubrick's 1962***/ version and the 1997**** Jeremy Irons one. The earlier version is not trash, as some have reminded. The screenplay, after all, was written by the novel's author, Vladimir Nobokov, although he must have had some ghoulish ghostwriting.

Fascinating to watch the same scenes, or more often, the same subject matter or themes portrayed in such divergent linear and visual styles.

Several of the questions raised by the more recent version are answered by the earlier film, which reads like a morbid 50s sitcom.

Where the 1997 version is subtle and sensual, the Kubrick v. is running scared of any such thing. Yes, of course, movie morals progressed in 25 years. So did acting and directing. And cinematography has grown has by leaps and bounds.

Still, there's magical qualities in the 1962 big L, but not enough to make me want to see it for at least another 25 years. I'll gladly, however, see the new one again and again.

Lone Star may truly be one of the five best movies this year. Certainly John Sayle's best. It's about fathers and sons and to a less extent, daughters and mothers. It's bigger than Texas, too. Kris Kristopherson as the bad guy is a hoot. ***** 1996

Longitude**/ is long, too slow, but its momentum builds, made for TV treatise paralleling 200 years apart the men who made it possible for ships at sea to know what longitude they were and the man (Jeremy Irons) who put their accomplishment in the history books. Before them, naval navigation was primitive matter trial and much error. This movie is a life-long lesson in the abject stupidity of governmental boards. Not a thriller, fascinating but slow.

And Look Both Ways***/, one of those serendipitous intersections of a bunch of people through their lives along the route of a transit railroad. Individual lives with unplanned crossings into and around each other, several of them love stories with different endings and one main one happily. People ricocheting off each other in various states of grace or not, then everybody denoues toward the end, together in the rain. All interspersed with generous but momentary flashes of annimation that fits, that are revealing of inner fears and greater joys.

In Looking for Richard****, Al Pacino directs a movie about filming the movie of Shakespeare's Richard III, which informs, explains, amplifies, detracts from and gives the actor's view of this, the most oft-performed of Williams works. Intriguing film-in-film, great documentary and excellent renditionof Richard III. 1996

The Lookout*** is another movie about a damaged human being who gets better, figures some stuff out but doesn't know everything he needs to yet. He has traumatic brain damage he caused himself, killing two friends and breaking major parts of another. In the pursuit of beauty, engaging in stupidity. We get flash backs later. He gets involved with rough people, thinks he's tough, too, then remembers again and ... Well, ya gotta see the movie. Nice but not fabulous, unless you have such a brain injury, then either you will be devoted to this movie or you won't quite understand. It's a heist flick and a buddy movie, and a couple other things.

Bugs Bunny Lives in Looney Tunes Golden: Volume I, Disc 1***. I thought it was going to be all the Tooony Loons, now I appreciate Bugs much much less. I can go another decade without seeing another.

Sometimes with NetFlix I'll try something without knowing all that much about it. Long Way Round* (I'll never go beyond) Disk 1, is another documentary on two (I guess) rock stars who drive around the world on motorcylces. Boring. 2006

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers**/ is a bunch of big and little people running around on endless adventures killing endless nasty, ugly and usually pretty stupid armies of other creatures. Gollum is marvelously slithery and sly and slimy, and we could never quite tell which wizened old wizzard this or that one was, but I'm pretty tired of everybody in this giant mess.

Lord of War***/ was a surprise. I was looking for a little Nicolas Cage adventure. What I got was a visually stimulating, deeply ironic comi-tragedy about running guns, yeah, but also about violence and love and family. I needed a B movie fix, and I got a much stronger experience. Laced with laugh-out-loud funny and deep, dark tragedy. Well enough acted, particularly well plotted and amazingly political. Until the cutesy trick ending that extended the anti-war, anti-gun message, but ignored all the rules of story-telling and was really really stupid.

Lost and Delirous**/ is an overblown and pretentious, but not inept, film about a young lesbian affair gone straight, with a lyrical, but totally uncredible ending. 2002

Not exactly a time-travel movie, but with many similarities, Lost in Austen***/ follows a big fan of Jane Austen's through a doorway that only sometimes works to the very place Austen wrote about in that book. Only the 'real' characters are different from the Austen wrote about them, and they have different motives, which our heroine stirs then rearranges the way she remembers from rereading the book since she was a child. Amusing, endearing, goofy, entertaining and involving. Slightly time-travelish.

Lost Highway****is a long, slow (but perfectly paced ), dark, forboding, gloomy, deeply mysterious, spooky, deadly serious flick with simple twists. Sexy, surreal, inexplicable with always the expectation of explication, and, finally, it comes. Truly fantastic and Kafka-esque. Visually amazing, moody and deeply affecting. Intriguing cameos. Amazingly well cast stars. Superbly intercut video. Leaving this movie I knew I'd been movied. 1997

I've used that last phrase several times since this review, but this was the first.

Lost in La Mancha**/ is not nearly as interesting a film about the Don Quixote movie failure as my hero, the director Terry Gilliam must have thought this long, slow, essentially sad, tragedy was. And I'd still like to see what they did manage to get on film — and much of it may well have got to Disk Two, but I doubt I'll ever see it. Tedious and only vaguely referential to the movie that failed MUCH worse than his Baron Von Munchausen, which I loved the first time I saw it...

Lost in Space** was goofy — I think they shuffled the screenplay, lost some pages, and just stuck it back together — but it was fun. 1998

I'd just been asking whether the Sci Fi Channel had any intelligent and subtle movies when I stumbled into The Lost Room****, three DVDs of shows that tell the long and winding tale back through that room that was never there and all the evil and good people who believed and what they believed and the guy who figured it out. Fascinating. Subtle. Deeply intelligent. Wicked witty.

Lost Souls*** made me shudder. The story — unfortunately the film's weakest element — follows a formerly exorcised woman's obsessive certainty that a prominent psychobabble writer will be the Anti-Christ. It seems realistic as we watch. But if we dare think about it later, plot disintegrates. Visually, however, this dark, deliberately paced thriller is spooky in subtle filmic special effect details, with lots of translucencies, reflections and wavy textures intruding between us and the actors — producing a haunting series of slight reality shifts. Excellent acting. And it would have been truly haunting, if only the story made more sense. 2000

The Lost World**/-- This Jurassic Park sequel is sometimes scary but unrelentingly predictable and stupid. Great fun laughing at the idiocy of the characters and film-makers. 1997

I've seen a whole buncha DVD movies lately — thanks to NetFlix, but only a spare few stand out. I'm not sure how I managed to miss Love and Basketball****. I think I heard of it, but I didn't see it on the big screen, and more's the pity. It's a truly great flick, with wonderful characterizations and scintilating character development, novel-like scope, gorgeous cinematography, superb acting and even some remarkable sport action. I was enraptrued by the love story and managed to identify with both ends of this marvelous romance.

Lord of the Rings **** was fabulous, exciting, near as I can remember, true to the book, luscious to look at, fascinating to follow. Long but not too long. The beginning of a wonderful journey. I can't wait for the other two parts — and the DVD. 2001

What grabbed my attention was that this was Terry Swigoff's first feature documentary before Crumb. And this, too, is a revealing film about a creative person, but the dark side, so evident on Swigoff's amazing Crumb is here only thinly, a little hijinks porn. Nice music, though. Really fine Old Blues with tweaks of great new blues, too. Louie Bluie*** is a born entertainer in several mediums, obviously including music but story-telling, poetry and painting, too.

Love Actually***/ is a smarmy little sentimental tearjerker with scads of really famous actors who must have had a lot of fun with this charmer. Tears jerked, I loved it and after watching all the deleted scenes would be delighted to view an unexpurgated or director's cut version in the future.

Love in the Time of Cholera***/ is a big movie, maybe not in the sense of Hollywood's latest big movie, but in the sense of the lives it concerns. There's lots of those. And the story is loved the world over, so it's big there, too. It's a long-term romance. A love that lasts nearly lifetimes. The movie is not as poetic as the novel, and I missed that. But it has its own filmic poetry that is reassuring, if not empowering.

Lovely & Amazing** — quirkish, dysfunctional White Upper Middle Class family of weak women and even weaker men — with one good exception, who happens to be a movie star — wandering through life, despite a tummy-tuck gone bad, little or no self-confidence; not a single good marriage among them, one sister a statutory rapist; one a shy actress who thinks she has no sex appeal; and one a fat, little Black girl — all charming enough characters but seriously lacking character development. This lame made for TV looking flick goes on for awhile, then it stops. 2003

Love Seranade*** is a quirky Aussie flick about a fishy love triangle. Funny and strange. 1997

I saw this one because it has Tim Robbins in it, and Netflix made it sound good. It was, but I don't read the idiocy they put on DVD envelopes any more, because the dolts who write that stuff see a different movie than I'm seeing every time. This is about accidental friendships (Is there any other kind?) and resolving issues by just going along for the ride, learning a little more about humanity and humans, then go back to doing what you were. But it's a road trip. So we have three human beings telling the truth, even though they didn't really want to, and intereacting, for a little while. Humane, intelligent, deep enough, comfortable and gently funny. The Lucky Ones***

I rarely count renta flicks as real movies, but Lulu on the Bridge***/, which I missed in theatric release is fascinating, beautiful and subtle. From the folks who brought us Smoke and Blue in the Face, this film combines genres in a mix and match world that intrigues with subtle nuances, sweetens with a lyrical love story played off against a malevolent bad guy who's almost as good as he is bad, and still has plenty of time to play out a movie within the movie.

Certainly the best movie of the spate of political titles I've been watching recently was Lumumba***. Unfortunately, it starts by showing two white guys hacking him to bits and burning what was left, so it was difficult to have much hope through the watching. I'm glad to know that other Colonial Powers are as bad as we (The United States of America) are. Who would have guessed the Belgians were so rotten. A solid, true tale that shows major mistakes made by both sides in this stirring story of The Congo's attempt to become independent.