Do you want to have some romantic, exciting fun? If so, check this one out! This is one clever, keeps-you-guessing remake, all while being a wild ride. After I watched this one and loved it, I checked out the original film. The 1968 version is less exciting, more confusing and basically, in my opinion, not as good. Now, usually, I would NEVER admit to liking a remake, but I’ll make an exception here since I thought the 1999 version is such a superior film. When I say “superior” I don’t mean in the same category of Oscar winners…I mean a fun, entertaining film that holds your attention to the final minute. The plot remains the same from the 1968 film…a very wealthy man needs some “variety” in his life so he begins to find ways to steal art. Enter a seductive insurance investigator who is determined to get to the bottom of the stolen painting mystery. The methods used to steal the painting are clever…yet believable. I didn’t walk away from this film rolling my eyes thinking that NEVER could happen. It all seemed at least probable…and very clever. Maybe I’m just naïve. But, regardless of that, this film is a truly enjoyable time at the movies.

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This is my guilty pleasure of 2004. I really liked this one, even though I probably shouldn’t. First of all, it’s supposed to be based on a much better Japanese film from 1997, which I have not seen yet – though I want to now. After I finished watching this film, I just felt all good inside…like I could dance and sing around my house, all by myself. And, I think that’s what the attraction is for everyone: this is a feel good film and who doesn’t want to feel good? The story revolves around a married man (Richard Gere) who is set in his ways of working late and coming home to his wife and older children. Through no dialogue, but just through the expressions on Gere’s face, we can tell he’s frustrated with the path his life has taken. This all changes when he discovers a dance studio and begins to take lessons…begrudgingly at first. Soon, the desire and need to dance consumes…he HAS to dance. It’s a compulsion, like something he cannot control in himself. Dance is just what he needs to bring some spice and excitement back into his life. I enjoyed this one from beginning to end. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, something else comes along and surprises you. It’s not a fabulously directed film that makes any strides in the area of filmmaking…it’s just a sweet, endearing film that leaves you with a good sense of humanity and optimism about life.

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OK—I know. It’s not the BEST movie ever made. But, it’s just plain fun to watch…in more ways than one. It’s a highly entertaining action caper. You will not be bored at all during this one, trust me. Also, the entire cast is just a pleasure to look at (you can trust me on that one, too). Basically, it’s just two hours of good times and enjoyment. The plot revolves around ringleader George Clooney’s decision to rob three casinos owned by power-monger Andy Garcia. Clooney takes Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould and six others along for the ride, including ex-wife Julia Roberts. Based on the 1960 Frank Sinatra/Rat Pack film of the same title, this 2001 movie takes little from the original other than the basic premise (casino theft), the number of players, and the name of the man in charge (Danny Ocean). By adding style, class, glitz, high-tech gizmos, and a lot of good looking people, this Ocean’s Eleven will certainly satisfy your craving for entertainment.

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This film gets most of its attention because ladies around the world wouldn’t mind being in the back seat of a limo with Kevin Costner. Aside from the very famous limo romp, this is a spot-on thriller that holds the suspense right up until the end. Actually, it’s one of those films that’s best watched more than once…since after a first viewing, you’re still wondering if you can go back and find clues the would predict the ending. I have seen it more than once and trust me, there are very few clues, if any, that prepare the audience for the trick at the tail end of this one. But, before you get to that shocker of an ending, this movie will keep you guessing and writhing in your seat all the way through. Set in Washington D.C., No Way Out features Costner as a Naval officer who is assigned to lead the murder investigation of a woman who has been killed by a Russian spy. The main problem is that he knew the woman, but cannot tell anyone this since it would make him a suspect in her murder. The other problem is that he knows his boss, the Secretary of Defense (played to perfection by Gene Hackman), is the real murderer. No, I’m not ruining anything here…all of this (including the limo scene) is told pretty early on in the film. It is after the murder that the movie takes off in all directions and leaves the audiences constantly surprised. Based on the novel The Big Clock, which was also made into a 1948 movie of the same name as the novel with Ray Milland, the setting of the political climate in D.C. only enhances the look, style, and edge of this intense thriller.

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I liked Mostly Martha, so it’s always hard when a film that was good to begin with gets the remake once-over. It happens quite a bit with older films…many black and white. I guess Hollywood feels the attention span of movie-goers is about 30 years or less. But, what’s usually really frustrating is when a RECENT foreign film is remade into an English film. Um, excuse me, we CAN read subtitles, you know! So, here we go with another contemporary film…this time a very well-received German film…that is getting the Hollywood touch so Americans can go to the movies and not have to spend two hours READING. The horror, the horror! And, I’m not even that big of a fan of foreign films! Imagine how insulted staunch devotees of international cinema are!!!!! All that aside (is that possible after my rant?), Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a tough, temperamental chef who runs her NYC restaurant kitchen like clockwork until her sister dies and she’s left with the responsibility of raising her niece. Enter Aaron Eckhart as a replacement chef and more than just cooking fires begin to heat up. This is a sweet, touching film…more than just your average romantic comedy. It has edge and some truly poignant moments between the Zeta-Jones character and the young girl. Is it better than Mostly Martha? Well, no. But, I honestly didn’t expect it to be. It is a remake after all.

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The film that forced married men to think twice before straying…as well as reviving Michael Douglas’ acting career…is a top-notch thriller. It got a lot of attention when it came out in 1987 because of its graphic violence and (especially) sexuality. Sometimes, when you strip the controversy from a film, what you’re left with is a movie that really was not worth all of the attention. I would say that is not true here…this is a great film that knows how to convey fear to the audience. Never would I say something is Hitchcockian (I believe that NOTHING will ever be worthy of that label since the Master of Suspense was, just that, a Master…the one and only), but I think that IF Hitchcock would have been working in 1987, he might have made a film in this same vein. The vein being a continual threat of menacing terror that keeps growing and growing until it just cannot do anything else other than explode! So, watch this one for the thrills…not for the attention it got when it came out. And, whatever you do, please do not call it Hitchcockian. If necessary…maybe pseudo-Hitchcockian, or semi-Hitchcockian? But, only if necessary!

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When a 1950s housewife falls in love with her black gardener, her life that was already in shambles threatens to complete fall apart. A great, powerful drama in the same tone of the early 20th Century melodramas, especially the Douglas Sirk-directed melodrama All That Heaven Allows. In All That Heaven Allows, Jane Wyman plays a recent widow with two grown children and Rock Hudson plays her gardener. The catch, in the Sirk film from 1955, was the age difference and that he is a lowly gardener and she is a prominent widow with means. Far From Heaven takes off where the Sirk film began and uses racial tensions as the barrier between the two potential lovers. Even though they are two different films told in two totally diverse perspectives, both of these movies are worthy of being seen for their brilliant 1950s styles and their powerful messages.

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This is one funny film. It is not exactly politically correct and it is also not a perfect film (I just don’t like the son’s character) but all-in-all, it will make you laugh (most likely). A remake of La Cage Aux Folles, here director Mike Nichols weaves a comic web of intrigue, bawdiness, love, sex and scandal…all set in South Beach, Miami…one of the playgrounds of the world. Even though there is a great cast here including Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest, Robin Williams and Nathan Lane steal the show as gay lovers who own, manage (Williams) and perform in (Lane) a South Beach nightclub. Enter Hackman and Wiest as ultra-conservative parents of young lady who wants to marry Williams’ son. The fact that Hackman is a Republican senator involved in a sex scandal is not helping him feel more charitable. What happens? Well, you just have to watch and find out. But, I warn you, get your funny bone tuned!

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Since I wrote a post on the 2003 version, here’s my post for the 2009:
As I wrote in my post for the 2003 BBC TV production of this tale, it is a well-done, intense political thriller…that is a must see. This one is about 4 hours shorter than the British TV production, but it is just as taut and gripping as the first…maybe even better since it does that same job in a feature film length. Keeping most of the story in tact, this version has a congressman caught in a sex scandal with a murdered young researcher from his office. The congressman’s former roommate is a reporter who is on the story and trying his best to keep both his loyalties to his congressman friend and his newspaper job. Like All the President’s Men, this film really takes you inside the inner workings of a Washington D.C.’s newspaper office…keeping the nightmare pace and the cutthroat-ness in tact. I’m sure the newspaper biz is hectic and frantic in most of the country, but add in the turmoil of political and you get a hellish frenzy. Excellent performances by all make this movie a fabulous political and journalistic thriller. Watch both versions and compare for yourself!

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