First of all, I’m not a rough and outdoorsy type. I love (LOVE) to travel but the thought of heading to a place where the food consist of things I couldn’t even look at or the thought of being without modern (and sadly, essential) conveniences (like a coffee maker, laundry machine, etc.) or having to sleep outside among the dirt and animals and bugs (THE HORROR!) is just unthinkable to me. But, of course, my idea of travel is not the only one out there. Movie star Ewan McGregor and his pal Charley Boorman come up with a plan to drive motorcycles from London to New York eastbound, meaning the long way around. And, at over 20,000 miles, long is an understatement. In a trip that they estimated would take them three and a half months, they started several months before the departure getting financial backing for their worldwide quest. They accepted an offer to do an ongoing documentary for British TV, they organized a crew of producers and camera people who would be accompanying them (only one cameraperson rode with Ewan and Charley…the other crew members drove different routes in SUVs), they scouted out the best roads, they talked with officials of each of the countries, they exercised to get in shape, and on and on and on. The DVD set (two DVDs at approx. five hours) is the resulting documentary they produced and is simply fascinating to watch. There is a good hour of pre-trek information, but most of the documentary is spent with Ewan and Charley on the road….in Britain, France, Germany, Croatia, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, and finally North America. Each country they go to and each minute they ride gets more and more captivating. It is a story of adventure, survival and most of all, friendship.

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The second installment of the McGregor/Boorman world trek via motorcycles was even more exciting than the first (Long Way Round). This time, most of the episodes were devoted to the trip…rather than all of the preliminary work. Sure, the first few episodes cover some of the pre-trip stuff, but it felt like it moved along faster this time. And, once they got on the road, it was pure enjoyment. Though parts of Europe and then the entire length of Africa, Charley and Ewan ride gravel roads, sand highways, and rocky passages, all while we follow along. Not the most action-packed fun you can have, but for travel buffs who can never get the wanderlust out of their systems, this is a great way to do some good armchair traveling.

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A fun, big budget romp that was one of the better “disaster” movies of the 1970s…mostly because of Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, who anchor the all-star cast. Not much in the story department here…a fire starts in a high-rise which is poorly built because of cost-cutting. The nature of the “disaster film” beast is that they are not made to be GREAT films…they are made to entertain and thrill. This one does that in spades and even features some strong performances. If you want a good, mindless flick, you really cannot go wrong with this film.

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Unlike Goldfinger which makes a valid attempt at solid, strong filmmaking, You Only Live Twice is just plain fun. It is not to best in the series, nor is it the best of the Connery Bond’s. It’s just a truly guilty pleasure…gadgets, action, romance and super spies…what could be better! The pretty inconsequential plot revolves around Blofeld (again) and his continued drive for world domination. This time, Blofeld is capturing spaceships…in space! First, a Russian one, then a British one…so who is doing this. The Russians, of course, think it is the British. And the British, of course, this it is the Russians. Enter James Bond to save the day and clear everything up for everyone (not!). Along the way he fakes being Japanese (don’t ask!), fakes getting married, and fakes being dead. Too bad he spends all of that time faking and doesn’t get around to taking care of Blofeld for good. Instead, the one-eyed villain comes back for two of the next films…plus a great intro in For Your Eyes Only. Basically, this is not the finest piece of filmmaking ever but, after all, do you watch a Bond movie for purely aesthetic reasons? Probably not. So, this one will satisfy your spy thriller craving.

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An above-average James Bond film with enough explosions and chases to spill into the next film. This time, 007 goes up again an “un-killable” foe who is slowly dying from a bullet another MI-6 agent shot into his head. The plot involves stealing a nuclear bomb that’s needed to destroy an oil pipeline. The un-believability level is high here, but regardless of that, the script is strong. Bond is very human in this film…he shows all sides of his persona and even a little weakness. The third of Pierce Brosnan’s four Bond films, he really seems to shine here as the British spy. Maybe it’s because he’s used to the role after two other pictures. Or maybe because he’s just getting better. Regardless, this is a film that will satisfy your thirst for action and adventure…while tossing in a good deal of romance in between.

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Surprisingly, I liked this one. I didn’t see it right away after it came out on DVD since I wasn’t sure it was a film for me. But, the relationship of the brothers and also of the father and sons was captivating and kept me watching. Even though I felt parts (especially the ending) went a little too into the “melodramatic” realm, I felt that most of the movie was strong and convincing. Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix give believable performances as brothers initially pitted against each other. When Wahlberg’s character falls victim to a crime Phoenix might be in on. I bought Phoenix’s reaction and turmoil. It’s not the best crime drama ever made but over-all, it’s a good one.

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Not for the faint of heart, but this one is just fun! It’s OVERLY violent, but I think that was what they were intending here. The filmmaker seems to be having fun with the violence…intentionally making it so over the top it becomes campy. And Clive Owen here is almost charming in his sorta-bad-guy/ hero role. The plot is pretty inconsequential…as it usually is in movies like this. Clive Owen sees a pregnant woman being chased and he jumps in to save her…but he ends up only saving her baby. The other part of the plot (WHY the woman is being chased) is completely ludicrous but again, that doesn’t seem to affect the film. It is not a movie for everyone but if you liked Sin City or Lucky Number Sleven or if you like intense action movies, check this one out. I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

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This is by far my favorite Roger Moore “Bond” outing. And, even one of the best in the entire Bond series. The Spy Who Loved Me begins very similar to another one of my favorite Bond films…You Only Live Twice with Sean Connery. Both films start with the capturing of crafts…in You Only Live Twice it is a space rocket and in The Spy Who Loved Me it is a submarine. Obviously, we know that these “stolen” crafts are not to work of a sane person or entity. But, who is it? Is it Russia? Is it China? Basically once the craft is captured, it is up to 007 to save the day, as usual. Where both films differ is in the villain. You Only Live Twice has the ever-popular Blofeld, who by the time You Only Live Twice came out, was getting a little passé. But, in The Spy Who Loved Me, Curd Jürgens plays Stromberg…one of the best Bond villains. His evilness is intense and not prolonged…if he wants to kill someone, he just does it (unlike the other Bond baddies who talk and talk and talk about killing before they actually get around to it). Moore also has excellent chemistry with his Russian counterpart…played by Barbara Bach. They play well off of each other, even though Bach is a little stiff at times. Moore’s quips usually get to be too much after a while but Bach does a good job of countering his jibes with some of her own.

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Gritty and intense, this film is one of the more noir-esque films of the end of the 20th Century. It’s dark and brooding, as film noir films of yesterday, but it is quite brutal, which of course is the sign it’s a movie of the modern era. Brad Pitt plays a newly transferred cop who gets partnered with a soon-to-be-retiring cop, played by Morgan Freeman. The two begins to investigate a series of very brutal crimes based on the seven deadly sins. Freeman’s character is methodical and deliberate. Pitt’s cop is brash and overeager. Together, though, they solve the crimes and find the criminal…but is it too late? The use of a film technique called “bleach bypass” helped the movie get its dark, shadow-filled look. And, boy does it work…because even when nothing sinister is going on, the film retains its stark feel…giving the audience a constant feeling of dread.

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