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Average User Score: 8.5Jun 18, 2016One of the year’s most intriguing film premises – a callow young hustler (Tom Cruise) must gain the confidence of his autistic brother (DustinOne of the year’s most intriguing film premises – a callow young hustler (Tom Cruise) must gain the confidence of his autistic brother (Dustin Hoffman) in order to pry away from him an enormous inheritance.
Hoffman’s character Raymond Babbitt is an autistic savant, a person extremely limited in some mental areas and extremely gifted in others. His younger brother, hard-driving luxury car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Cruise), has his limitations, too – mostly in the areas of kindness and understanding.
Unaware of Raymond’s existence (he’d been institutionalized when Charlie was very young) until his estranged father dies, Charlie is brought up short when he learns the old man’s entire $3 million fortune has been willed to his brother.
After a trip to the East Coast institution where Raymond resides, Charlie shanghais him, without regard for his welfare, into a cross-country trip to L.A., dangling a Dodger game as bait. Meanwhile, he threatens Raymond’s guardian, the bland Dr. Bruner (Jerry Molen), with a custody battle unless he hands over half the fortune.
Director Barry Levinson (“Diner,” “Good Morning, Vietnam,”) lingers long on the road trip segment, building the relationship between the brothers degree by degree and decorating it with spectacular, if self-conscious, landscapes shot through tinted lenses. Result is lightly engrossing, buoyed here and there by emergence of Raymond’s unique abilities (for example, he can memorize half a telephone book in an evening and also can perform extravagant multiplications in a flash).
f an actor with more range than Cruise had been cast, pic might have gone over the top in its final scenes. As is, it stops a little short. It’s a mature assignment for Cruise and he’s at his best in the darker scenes. When the executor of the will shields information from him, the actor displays an utterly grim, brickheaded determination that is frightening.
Hoffman achieves an exacting physical characterization of Raymond, ftom his constant nervous movements to his rigid, hunched shoulders and childish gait. Though he can neither look anyone in the eye nor engage in real conversation, Raymond certainly can be funny, with his well-timed offhand responses to Charlie’s hammering questions. (Cruise: Raymond, am I using you? Hoffman: Yeah.)
Italian actress Valeria Golino strikes just the right chord as Charlie’s sensitive, long-suffering girlfriend.
“Rain Man” does offer some delightful scenes of droll comedy in running gags between the two brothers, built around such daily trivia as maple syrup and boxer shorts.
Locations, costumes and tech contributions are good, particularly considering pic was lensed in a rushed nine weeks of location work.
The music by Hans Zimmer is fresh and provocative.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.7Jun 18, 2016During the civil war in Sierra Leone, fisherman Solomon (Hounsou) is forced to pan for diamonds. He finds a large one, but it soon draws theDuring the civil war in Sierra Leone, fisherman Solomon (Hounsou) is forced to pan for diamonds. He finds a large one, but it soon draws the attention of mercenary Danny Archer (DiCaprio) among others.
Violence is an overused word. Primarily we associate it with fantasy, either in the gory netherworlds of the Hostel or Saw movies or the escapist universe of Bond and Bourne, where tension and excitement overshadow the realities of torture, mutilation and death. Violence, for the most part, is about the human capacity to hurt others; and about the way it destroys lives, communities and countries.
So when you hear that Blood Diamond is a very violent movie, don’t take it lightly. This isn’t simply about gunfights and car chases (although both are present and very much correct); Edward Zwick’s film launches with scenes that startle with their savagery, rivalling even Saving Private Ryan’s opening salvo for squirm value. As Sierra Leone’s anti-government warriors spread across the country, villages are razed, women raped and their children shot or abducted. To ensure voter apathy at the upcoming elections, hands are severed with axes and machetes.
It’s against this hellish backdrop that we first meet Solomon (Djimon Hounsou), a family man whose dreams of medical school for his son Dia (Caruso Kuypers) are dashed by the guerrilla insurgency. While Solomon is spared to pan for diamonds at gunpoint, Dia is taken, brainwashed, given a new identity and a gun. This, we soon learn, is what Sierra Leone is up against: beer-swilling bandits who bankroll their fight with smuggled diamonds and spend their gains on, disturbingly, US gangsta rap.
Solomon’s camp is raided and the inhabitants jailed, which is where Leonardo DiCaprio’s Danny Archer comes in; a sharp-witted player whose eyes widen as he learns of Solomon’s million-dollar find. Though there are similarities with the protean trickster of Catch Me If You Can, this is a Leo we’ve never seen before. Amoral and selfish but self-aware, DiCaprio expands on the reservoirs of darkness that Scorsese found in him. In the film’s final straits, when the diamond becomes his Shangri-La, his power and conviction are something to see.
But Blood Diamond falls maddeningly short of greatness in its final hour, partly because of an abundance of subplots. Alongside Solomon and Archer, Zwick introduces journalist Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), a hard-nosed war reporter just in from Afghanistan, who looks to Archer to help her find the white-collar criminals in the diamond trade. Though her acting is faultless, Connelly’s presence leads to a romance that, however understated, simply stores up trouble for later, requiring redemption and emotional closure on an already overheated climax. On top of that, add an unnecessary political framing device, and what begins as a tough, risk-taking thriller winds down to become a familiar Hollywood triumph-over-adversity story. It’s a heartbreaker. After feeling so much danger, it’s a shame to leave the cinema on a note so safe.
Great performances, provocative ideas and gripping action scenes fall prey to Hollywood logic and pat storytelling in the final hour.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.1Jun 18, 2016"You trying to tell me the F.B.I.'s going to pay me to learn to surf?"
Yes, dude, that's exactly what his superiors are trying to tell"You trying to tell me the F.B.I.'s going to pay me to learn to surf?"
Yes, dude, that's exactly what his superiors are trying to tell Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), a clean-cut rookie officer with a secret flair for being bodacious. In "Point Break," Johnny happens to be available when a gang of bank robbers leaves behind a surfboard-wax sample (in a footprint), some beach-related toxins (in a strand of hair) and photographic evidence of a tan line (in a surveillance camera shot of one masked robber delivering a kind of humorous message by dropping his pants).
Hey, heavy evidence. This turns out to be one of those beach bum-cosmic high armed robberies with which Southern California F.B.I. agents are no doubt constantly plagued. And Johnny turns out to be the perfect candidate for the job of surfing detective. He looks good in a wet suit. He figures out how to extract information from a nice-looking female surf expert (Lori Petty). Pretty soon he is showing up at the office saying things like "Caught my first tube this morning, sir." He totes his surfboard with him to prove the point.
"Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world," as the Beach Boys put it in more innocent times. But the surf culture represented in "Point Break" is much more far-reaching and diffuse, in the manner of something left out too long in the sun. It is principally embodied by Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), which is short for Bodhisattva, which is Sanskrit for "being of wisdom" and therefore of no relevance here. Bodhi, who has a cult following among the kind of people who like to re-enact their finest surfing moments at parties, speaks a fluid line of Zen wavethink as he encourages acolytes to accept the water's energy and observes, "It's not tragic to die doing what you love." Among the things Bodhi loves are skydiving, extra-risky surfing and possibly even chancier pursuits.
Just as she did in "Blue Steel," the director Kathryn Bigelow observes the peculiar complicity that develops between a law officer and a seductive criminal. And once again Ms. Bigelow moves so fast and so far with this idea that her film (with a screenplay by W. Peter Iliff) eventually spins out of control. But "Point Break," though it's anything but watertight where plotting is concerned, again reveals Ms. Bigelow's real talents as a director of fast-paced, high-adrenaline action. Whenever the flakiness of "Point Break" threatens to become lulling, Ms. Bigelow wakes up her audience with a formidable jolt.
Among the film's especially energetic sequences are a furious two-man chase on foot through a heavily populated neighborhood, shot vigorously with a hand-held camera; sustained and amazing sky-diving scenes guaranteed to make the palms sweat, and a police raid on a house that becomes a wild melee and turns a lawnmower into a potentially deadly weapon. This last episode, and others like it, prove definitively that testosterone-crazed movie violence is by no means the sole province of male directors.
Ms. Bigelow also gives many of the film's conversational scenes a crisp, punchy momentum and a lot of energy. A lot of the snap comes, surprisingly, from Mr. Reeves, who displays considerable discipline and range. He moves easily between the buttoned-down demeanor that suits a police procedural story and the loose-jointed manner of his comic roles.
Especially fiery and scene-stealing is Gary Busey, as the gruff Nick Nolte-style wild man who is Johnny's F.B.I. partner and foil. Mr. Swayze, more tranquil, is best when showing off his proficiency for glamorous athletics and least good when taking the screenplay seriously. When another character says, of Mr. Swayze's Bodhi, "He's got this gift for blankness," the thought seems all too true.
Mr. Iliff's screenplay includes some egregious silliness and a long string of false endings, but occasionally it sounds the kind of tough-guy note that gets one's attention. "It's been paper targets up till today, huh?" says the more experienced F.B.I. man (Mr. Busey) to the rookie (Mr. Reeves) after the latter's first kill. "It's no different, Johnny. Just a little more to clean up."… Expand
Average User Score: 8.5Jun 18, 2016In aptly named Bill & Ted ‘s Bogus Journey, the characters of the dopey, sweet-spirited dudes from San Dimas, Calif, go undeveloped in aIn aptly named Bill & Ted ‘s Bogus Journey, the characters of the dopey, sweet-spirited dudes from San Dimas, Calif, go undeveloped in a sequel that contrives another elaborate but non-excellent adventure. Same producing and writing team pumps much effort into production design and special effects, creating a few triumphant moments, but not enough to sustain pic’s running time.
This time, evil robot versions of Bill and Ted (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) have been sent from the future to kill the duo before their band, Wyld Stallyns, can win a local talent contest and inspire a Bill and Ted following that changes the world.
The ‘evil us’s,’ as B&T call them, throw the good dudes off a cliff, but before the Grim Reaper can claim them, they get to try to beat him in a contest, and since they pick the games (Battleship, Clue, Twister), they win. His Royal Deathness (played by William Sadler in a takeoff on Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal) is then at their service as they embark on an odyssey to try to overcome the evil robot dudes and win the battle of the bands.
These guileless airheads with the outrageous vocabulary are obviously a beloved creation, and filmmakers might have gotten more mileage if they’d rooted their adventure a bit more in reality.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.6Jun 18, 2016Keanu Reeves (Ted) and Alex Winter (Bill) play San Dimas ‘dudes’ so close they seem wired together.
Preoccupied with plans for ‘a mostKeanu Reeves (Ted) and Alex Winter (Bill) play San Dimas ‘dudes’ so close they seem wired together.
Preoccupied with plans for ‘a most triumphant video’ to launch their two-man rock band, The Wyld Stallyns, they’re suddenly, as Bill put it, ‘in danger of flunking most heinously’ out of history.
George Carlin appears as a cosmic benefactor who offers them a chance to travel back through history and gather up the speakers they need for an awesome presentation.
Through brief, perilous stops here and there, they end up jamming Napoleon, Billy The Kid, Sigmund Freud, Socrates, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln and Mozart into their time-traveling phone booth.
Each encounter is so brief and utterly cliched that history has little chance to contribute anything to this pic’s two dimensions.
Reeves, with his beguilingly blank face and loose-limbed, happy-go-lucky physical vocabulary, and Winter, with his golden curls, gleefully good vibes and ‘bodacious’ vocabulary, propel this adventure as long as they can.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.6Jun 18, 2016Francis Coppola has made a well acted and crafted but highly conventional film out of S.E. Hinton’s popular youth novel, The Outsiders.Francis Coppola has made a well acted and crafted but highly conventional film out of S.E. Hinton’s popular youth novel, The Outsiders. Although set in the mid-1960s, pic feels very much like a 1950s drama about problem kids.
Screenplay is extremely faithful to the source material, even down to having the film open with the leading character and narrator, C. Thomas Howell, reciting the first lines of his literary effort while we see him writing them.
But dialog which reads naturally and evocatively on the page doesn’t play as well on screen, and there’s a decided difficulty of tone during the early sequences, as Howell and his buddies (Matt Dillon and Ralph Macchio) horse around town, sneak into a drive-in and have an unpleasant confrontation with the Socs, rival gang from the well-heeled part of town.
When the Socs attack Howell and Macchio in the middle of the night, latter ends up killing a boy to save his friend, and the two flee to a hideaway in an abandoned rural church. It is during this mid-section that the film starts coming to life, largely due to the integrity of the performances by Howell and Macchio.
Howell is truly impressive, a bulwark of relative stability in a sea of posturing and pretense. Macchio is also outstanding as his doomed friend, and Patrick Swayze is fine as the oldest brother forced into the role of parent.… Expand