(Black Note Films/C+ Pictures)

The Last International Playboy is a well-written, well-acted film about an immature man finally growing up. Jason Behr stars as writer and semi-professional lady charmer Jack Frost, who jumps from bed to bed with super model-type women---sometimes up to five at a time. But, he has always been smitten with his childhood friend, Carolina (Monet Mazur), who had vowed to marry him when they were growing up. Jack's life was a self-destructive spiral of "booze and broads", until he learns that Carolina is planning to get married to a fellow writer. He obsesses to her about the "promise" she made to him. When she insists on marrying the other man, he becomes depressed, and gives up (as demonstrated by him throwing his phone in the ocean.) His good friends Ozzy (Krysten Ritter), Scotch (Mike Landry), and Kate (Lucy Gordon) struggle to bring their depressed friend back to life, and reality. But, this group of peers can't really do it. It takes his eleven year old neighbor, Sophie (India Ennenga) to impart wisdom well beyond her years. Despite him hurting her (by breaking her guitar) in one of his nasty moods, she forgives him, and through wise and mature words---far beyond her years---helps the self-absorbed jerk shake off his lost love, cut down on his drinking, and avoid what could have ultimately led to his final demise.

This is a love story, a growing up story, a friend film, and much more. The script, by Steve Clark and Thomas Moffett, is excellent, and the dialogue flows so well that the hour and a half truly flies by. The pace is brisk, and credit goes to Clark, who also directed the film. Lydia Hearst, daughter of Patty Hearst, and great-granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, also stars in the film and her beauty lights up the screen. In an ironic note, Lucy Gordon committed suicide in May of 2009. What a tragedy that no one was able to help her, like Jack was helped. Of course, one is fictional, the other all too real.

If this film comes to a theatre near you, go see it. If it's doesn't, don't miss the video when it's released.

*** (Three Stars/Very Good)




A Documentary Film

To Order:

Review by Mark Snyder for, the internet's entertainment superstation

The Holocaust: Memory and Legacy is a 72 minute visit to when Hell once ruled many parts of the planet. Susie Davidson, a writer for the Jewish Advocate, has produced a video that shall be viewed in perpetuity, and alongside her book, "I Refused to Die: Stories of Boston-based Holocaust Survivors and Soldiers who Liberated the Concentration Camps of World War II", provides strong evidence that should silence forever the deniers of the Holocaust. Davidson also reminds the world that other Holocausts continue to take place (Dafur) and, despite the dictum "Never Again", there are indeed more genocides now, and probably will be in the future.

Davidson's film allows the viewers snippets of her interviews with a number of survivors, their children, and their rescuers. Interspersed with dialogue are poems and songs inspired by the suffering of the millions of victims of the Nazis.....some by those who did not make it out of the concentration camps. This film contains graphics images, including those of naked corpses piled high, photos of other corpses in ovens, and other horrors of something that is hard for us to comprehend ever happening. Survivor Israel "Izzy" Arbeiter said he can understand why many don't believe the stories of the hell of the concentration camps, "I wouldn't believe them myself if I was not there."

The film is narrated with the rich pipes of Randolph native Jordan Rich, a late night talk show host at WBZ Radio, and has a great theme song by the famed Ronnie Earl. It features Survivors including Stephan Ross (whose son Michael is Boston's City Council president and appears in the film), Sonia Schreiber Weitz, Sam Bak, Rena Finder, Edgar Krasa, Tania Lefman, Hannah Lushan, Stella Penzer (who speaks about the way her name was changed to save her life), Ida Rozenberg, and Rosian Zerner. Liberating Soldiers featured include Cranston Rogers, Ellsworth Rosen, and Phil Minsky.

I would also highly recommend the book, which I have read twice. I dare anyone to read the book, watch the film, and not be ready to become an activist! With a president in office who seems hell bent on forcing Israel to its knees, and coddles those who want Israel wiped off the map, it makes interesting conversation---why did 70% of American Jews vote for Obama? And, for further discussion---could the "final solution" arise again? Our children don't think so, but they have short memories.

In the next generation, there will be no witnesses to the horrors of Hitler, Himler and the gang. That is why films and books of these kinds are so important, and why Jews must stand up and fight, and never lie down again for the enemy.

My Grade: ** (Good)





Review by Cindy Pazyra for, the internet's entertainment superstation

This movie touches on many issues of faith within the social climate and religious dogma of a Catholic Elementary school in New York. At the movie's center is a seemingly rigid nun, Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep), who, as principal at St. Nicholas Church School, is tough and inflexible when it comes not only to rules, but to the mere thought of any caring and sensitivity in her dealings with her students.

At odds with her style of discipline and interaction with the children is Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who wants to run a more sensitive and nurturing school, and who is very popular with the students. These two cannot find a middle ground, and their relationship falls into an even deeper rift when Sister Aloysius begins to suspect that Father Flynn is involved in an inappropriate relationship with a young 12-year-old male student.

The film opens with Father Flynn's sermon to the congregation on the subject of doubt; and this theme permeates throughout. Should we trust our instincts? Does one need visual proof to make an accusation? Sister Aloysius has no such proof; but she is so certain about her allegation that she informs the boy's mother of her suspicions and reports Father Flynn to the church higher-ups and has him removed from St. Nicholas.

At no time during the film does the viewer see anything that substantiates Sister Aloysius' claim. What we see is a Priest taking a special interest in a withdrawn and socially isolated boy; the only non-white child at St. Nicholas. Is this wrong? One isn't sure, since the relationship between the Priest and the young student appears to be helping the boy cope with a difficult situation at home. Is Father Flynn molesting him? Or, is he merely trying to help?

Unfortunately, we never find out. The film ends without ever answering the one question we want answered. Even Sister Aloysius, in the final scene, pours her tormented heart out to another nun on a park bench, sobbing and admitting that she has doubts. In the end, she is not absolutely sure that she did the right thing. She is not sure that her accusation was correct.

I don't like being left in the dark at the end of a film. But, this story was more about the torment and agony of doubt than it was about the actual events taking place. At its heart it shows us that even the most staunchly religious and devoted among us cannot always find the answers by turning to God. And our faith and trust in God, and most especially ourselves, will sometimes leave us with unanswered questions.

(My Grade: *** Very Good)




(Anchor Bay/$19.97/NR)

Movie Review by Mark Snyder for, the internet's entertainment superstation

I loved this Mark Freiburger ("The Ultimate Gift") film. I will admit, it gets off to a slow start, but once it picks up steam, it becomes a fascinating study in the old cliche, "You can't judge a book by its cover." Whether it's a town, a pastor, or a child, sometimes what lies beneath the surface is much different than what we all see.

In this delightful, if chilling, film, Eli Cottonmouth (Will Patton) shows up in a small town with a camera, assigned to do a scaled-down miniature model of the town for its big celebration. He charms the town citizens, although they start to distrust him, when they don't see any immediate progress in his work. Two young boys, Jackson Patch (Colin Ford) and Philip Walden (Devon Gearhart) befriend the stranger, and get a very life-changing education from him.

As Eli recreates the true essence of the community, he uses the boys as his eyes and ears to gather information. Armed with his ancient camera, the kids snap photos all over town. With each new photo they take, the boys perception of where they live changes drastically. Their childish innocence is shattered when they witness the underside of their community.

Eli's perception, captured like an episode of "Twilight Zone," digs deep the gathering gloom, and presents a foreshadowing of a future in peril. The videography is superb, with the beauty and the beastly captured in intense portrayals.

Pastor Sam (R. Keith Harris) has a big ugly secret. Town elder Frank Cooper (familiar character actor Richard Herd) worries that Eli may be a con artist, ripping off the town. But, in the end we see the town got more than it's money's worth---it got an effective warning.

This is an excellent film, which I can heartily endorse. You can buy it at Walmart, Best Buy, or

*** (Three Stars/Very Good)



(Screen Media Films/R/$24.98)

Movie Review by Mark Snyder for, the internet's entertainment superstation

A recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Dark Matter marks the American film debut of Ye Liu, a huge star in China's cinema industry. The film features multiple Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep as an elite academic patron who welcomes a Chinese mathematics prodigy Liu Xing(Liu) to Valley State University. His theories, which fly in the face of those of his cosmology professor (Aidan Quinn), result in dissolving of his dreams of a doctorate, a Nobel Prize, and the solving of the "big bang theory" of creation.

The difference in cultures, the political climate in secondary schools, and the pressures of ambition and success, all collide in this motion picture that will leave you in shock as the credits roll. Liu is a gifted actor, and Streep is one of America's finest thespians. In one scene, a coffee shop waitress flirts with Xing, and asks what he does. He replies that he is studying cosmology (the study of the universe). She replies, "Maybe I can get a makeover," thinking he is referring to cosmetology.

This ninety minute drama is rated R, but I think that's a bit extreme. It's not good for young children, but I think it is an excellent piece for teenagers and older to watch. The pressures of success start hitting children in middle school, and rocket with high school, and college. The pressure to achieve at all costs is fraught with danger, as illustrated effectively by director Chen Shi-Zheng.

Based on actual events, Dark Matter is a thrilling examination of the origins of the universe, juxtaposed against the dark side of academics, and the casualties that fall in the pursuit of the American Dream. The writing, with screenplay by Billy Shebar, and based on the story of Shi-Zheng and Shebar, is effective, and the acting first rate, that brings alive this tragic tale.

My Grade: *** Two Stars/Good



(LIONS GATE/$19.98)

Review by Mark Snyder,, The Internet's Entertainment Superstation

This may be the first "horror" film I have seen that was grip-to-the-chair terrifying, yet really had no explicit violence. This film is more of a psychological thriller, that features some nifty acting, all around. This eerie tale of terror follows Jack (Reynaldo Rosales of TV's "Medium") and Stephanie (Heidi Dippold of "The Sopranos"), as they have some great misfortune in the middle of nowhere. They end up on the road they shouldn't be taking, in Robert Frost's nightmares.

Michael Madsen ("Kill Bill Volume 2") does a great job as a menacing and totally scary sheriff, who leads them astray. They end up at a desolate inn, run by a very strange woman (Leslie Easterbrook), and her even stranger psychologically and physically-impaired killer son (Bill Moseley). "Dad" isn't much better.

This couple runs into another couple in the Inn (with a very hot wife and their own set of psychological issues.) But the purest terror comes when both couples confront their own pasts sins--and the pain that those memories bring on. A masked psychopath is also part of the equation, and he leaves a tin can with a message that someone must die before sunrise. But, I'm not a big fan of masked psychopaths. Nor, do I particularly like the stereotypical horror film family, with the psychotic parents and kids. But, this film actually climbs beyond the level of your ordinary horror film.

This roller coaster of a movie spans emotions from love and loyalty to fear and bravery. John Lennon talked about "Mind Games." This movie is one giant mind game, and it goes by quickly. Like an episode of "24", this will have you glued to your chair, until the raw emotional ending lets you unclench your fists and relax.

*** (Three Stars: Very Good)



(Screen Media Film/$24.98)

Review by Mark Snyder,, the internet's entertainment superstation

"Lake City" is a wonderful gritty film about love, pain, forgiveness, guilt, and rejuvenation. Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek stars as a small town mom who locks away her feelings as easily as closing a bedroom door. Troy Garrity, as her son Billy, plays a character who also denies some painful truths, as well. He is a recovering alcoholic whose girlfriend rips off some serious drug dealers, and takes off. He is left holding the bag (a son played by excellent newcomer Colin Ford), and dodging the bad guys. A local cop, played by a dressed-down Rebecca Romijn, helps him fight for truth, justice, and the sober way.

Together, mom and son confront haunting flashbacks of their past, and the dangerous drug dealers, one of whom is played by rocker Dave Matthews, A garage mechanic who pines for Maggie (Spacek) is played by another Academy Award winner, Keith Carradine. The spaced-out mom (played by Sopranos actress Drea De Matteo), who chooses drugs over her young son, confronts Billy in a great scene in the film. Another, involving a chase through a corn field, is equally strong.

Hunter Hill and Perry Moore wrote and directed this effective film. My only squabble is not with the film, but the ratings board. This "R" film (for violence) is more tame than most "PG" films I've seen. I really liked it, and watched it until the end---something most reviewers just don't have then time to do.

*** (Three Stars: Very Good)

Watch the Trailer:



(Vivendi Entertainment/SRP: $26.99)
Review by Mark Snyder,

Mix a little of Dickens Christmas Carol, a drop of David Zucker's crazy humor, and a funny take on Left-Wing looney Michael Moore, and you have "An American Carol", a hilarious film for the holiday season (and beyond!). If you're a middle-of-the-road American, sick of the crazies on the left (and right), this film is for you! I laughed the entire 84 minutes of running time, at the sight gags, the hilarious dialogue, and the right-on parody of Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and the exploitive and slanted media.

Kevin Farley (look-alike brother of the late Chris), stars as the filmmaker, who undergoes some changes. Other stars showing up in the film include Kelsey Grammer, country singer Trace Adkins, Leslie Nielsen, Dennis Hopper, James Woods, and Jon Voight. The cast, the script, and the film work well, and kept my attention for almost an hour and a half--with my Blackberry going wild on vibrate.

Rent or buy this film, grab a space on the couch, and laugh yourself silly.

***1/2 Very Good


(Universal/SRP: $29.98 (2 Disc Special Edition $34.98)
Review by Mark Snyder,

I'm not a big Abba fan--neither is my wife. I do, however, admire Meryl Streep's acting chops, and my wife enjoys Pierce Brosnan doing just about anything. Who would have thought that both of us would sit through about two hours of both of them singing Abba tunes and ENJOYING it???

Mamma Mia! has been seen on stage by over 32 million people around the world (including this reviewer.) As I write this, eight productions of Mamma Mia! are playing around the world!

The film centers around Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and her wedding, where she decides to invite three men who could be her father. Her mom (Meryl Streep) had slept with all three, according to her diary, which Sophie read. The hilarity--and music--ensue.

The beauty of the island, and the fantastic cinematography, grab you along with the cast, plot, and tunes. The movie really is a revelation in positive energy, a mini-Woodstock of pleasure, and hilarity.

Fun is an understatement. And, it's not just a "girl's film." I think it is a wonderful film to share with family. Light the fireplace, make some hot apple cider, and enjoy a film you'll want to see more than once.

And---by the way--I thought Streep sang as any musical diva would. She surprised me. Brosnan should stick with acting, but his voice was serviceable, and he pulled off the character as well as he did James Bond.

I really liked this film. Go rent (or buy) it!

***1/2 Very Good

The Hottie & The Nottie
Liberation Entertainment

Review by Mark Snyder,

Paris Hilton is not only the star of this film, she's a co-Executive Producer with Hans Syz. As you would expect, this is not going to tax your brain. But, it is also something unexpected---entertaining. It's a cute story of love, beauty, and what really counts.

Nate Cooper (Joel David Moore) is head over heels in love--since first grade--with Cristabel Abbott (Hilton). But, his family moved away before he could ever have a chance to act on scoring with his crush. Now, years later, he moves to the West Coast--L.A. to be specific--to rekindle his lost childhood puppy love.

He finds Cristabel is single, and could even be interested. But, there's a wrench in his plans in the form of June Phigg (Christine Lakin), the "ugly" girl he remembers from their same first grade class. Seems June is lonely, and unless he can fix her up, he's not going to get a chance with Cristabel.

The results, predictably, throw Nate in a different direction altogether. In a story that humorously illustrates how beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder--and that what the eye sees can change--this film ends on an upbeat note.

Paris has never been hotter (in a PG-13 environment) and the movie is a fun escape for an hour and a half. In addition, there are a couple of nifty features, including Paris putting makeup on Moore, and a short film on how to making a video dating personal ad!


WIN A COPY OF THIS FILM. Send your "best crush" story to, and winners will be selected from among the best entries! Courtesy of our friends at Liberation Entertainment.

Christmas at Maxwell's
Review by Mark Snyder,

Christmas at Maxwell's is part fantasy, part inspiration, part romance, and part holiday film. It is a story about human struggles, forgiveness, trust, Faith, and the power of love. It is the story of a man, his cancer-stricken wife, and how each reacts to their circumstances.

Yes, the ending is as neatly wrapped as a child's Christmas toy (and who has kids that get along that well together), but that didn't detract from the spirit of this wonderful film. William Lauffer has produced and written a film that needs to be seen to be appreciated. The film, running less than ninety minutes, will be in your mind for long after it is over.

Bill's story of his grandmother living life to the fullest--despite illness--was an inspiration for the film. She lived in remission for 16 years, and taught Lauffer many lessons about life---and living.

This movie was truly a family experience. Lauffer's daughter Tiffany was the lead cinematographer. He and his daughter both graduated from Georgetown University.

Andrew May plays the husband and does an excellent job. May is an unknown version of Tom Hanks---with his acting chops, and on camera effectiveness. Keeping with the family experience mentioned earlier, his dad plays the "Gus" (angel) character. In addition, his daughter Julia and son Charlie play his children in the film.

Jacqueline "Jack" Hourigan, a "Second City" comedy grad, shines as the wife who battles a life-threatening disease, while trying to hold together the family. May's character spends much of the film searching for his spirituality. His Faith (and ours) is constantly tested. Does he believe?

Singer Helen Welch does a great job providing the soulful voice of stage performances lip-synched by Hourigan.

This film is a wonderful Christmas story of Faith, the Power of Prayer, Love, Death, Sickness, and Helplessness. I give it four stars---I LOVED IT! So will you!

**** (Excellent)


Quality: * * * *

THE GAME PLAN stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Joe Kingman, the toughest quarterback in the NFL who has never won a Super Bowl. On and off the field, he is stronger, more agile and more egotistical than anyone. Into this solipsistic world steps his beautiful, brilliant 8-year-old daughter Peyton. Joe did not know he had a daughter, but is convinced by her birth certificate. Joe’s agent tells him to keep things low key, or it will destroy his merchandising contracts. Peyton turns Joe's world upside down and transforms him from a self-centered jerk into a loving father whose priorities are in order.

If you love children and families, THE GAME PLAN will make you feel great! It is a very entertaining movie with lots of good moral points. This role is made for The Rock and Madison Pettis is perfect as his daughter, Peyton. In fact, their interaction pulls the movie together because she is so good. The direction, lighting, music, and camerawork in THE GAME PLAN are of the highest quality. They do not detract from the simple premise that love is more important than fame or fortune.

(from the Christian Film & Television Commission)

Reviews by Mark Snyder for

EXORCISM (NR) One of the most notorious films in the exorcism genre (vintage 1974), this stars and was written by legendary Spanish filmmaker Paul Naschy. The film, which has some nudity, also features an alternative version that is "clothed." Naschy plays a priest who tries to "save" an ailing young woman, who has evolved into a repulsive and profane ogre, due to demonic forces. ** (Victory Films: $19.98)

THE NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS (NR) Another classic from 1974, this one features a group of explorers in Africa, where a brutal native ritual occurred in 1910. It features zombie natives, scantily-clad vampire women, devil worship and more. It's a film that couldn't be made today. ** (Victory Films: $19.98)

MOTHER OF MINE (NR) During WW II, more than 70,000 Finnish children were evacuated to neutral Sweden to avoid the conflict. This film, from award-winning Klaus Haro (Elina) tackles that painful patch of history in a tale of 9-year old Eero, a child who feels increasingly abandoned by his biological Finnish mother, and not attached to his surrogate Swedish mom. When Eero is returned after the war to Finland, his confusion and feeling of loneliness increases exponentially. *** (

ROADS TO KOKTEBEL (NR) A father goes to Moscow with his 11-year old son heading to his sister's house in Koktebel (by the Black Sea). With no money or means of transportation, the pair drift through expansive and mesmeric landscapes at the mercy of chance. For the dad, the journey is an attempt to restore self-respect, to piece together his broken life and win back the trust of his son. The for the boy, Koktebel holds the key to a new life and emancipation. *** (

ISLAM: WHAT THE WEST NEEDS TO KNOW (NR) Scary documentary into what Islam really is. Through interviews with scholars of the Koran, and a look into other Islamic texts, this film brings a chilling---and terrifying--look into what the West faces. Every Senator and U.S. Representative should be required to watch it--from beginning to end! *** (

ANTIBODIES (2 Disc Special Edition) A tormented small town police man named Michael Martins is obsessed with trying to solve the murder of his son's girl friend. He goers to Berlin in search for answers, after a notorious serial killer named Gabriel Engel is captured. Convinced Engel is behind the brutal murder, he conducts an interrogation. Engel's twisted mind games convince him of his innocence. It also sways him to believe Engel knows who actually committed the horrific crime. But, in order to solve the crime, Martins needs to get "down and dirty" with the dark Engel. He goes to a place that has been repressed for years. Can Michael handle the darkness? Can you? **1/2 (Dark Sky Films/

CONFESSIONS OF A THUG (NR) This hard-hitting hip hop musical comes directly from the streets. At the intersection where crime, redemption and revenge meet, comes this smashing combination of rap music, and dramatic interpretation. With solid performances from Daron Fordham, Lady of Rage, Gucci Mane, JT Money, Angel Tyree, John Martino, and Alvetta Smith, this is a lesson for suburban dwellers who want a taste of the urban ghetto. (Daron Fordham Films/$19.98)

CAFFEINE (R) Mean Suvari, Marsha Thomason, Ketherine Heigl (I love her) and Breckin Meyer star in this irreverent comedy that might mix in a few tears. The strange doings at the Black Bar Cafe explore fidelity, betrayal, forgiveness and commitment. It's a bit of fun! ** (First Look Entertainment/$24.98)

CRUSH ON YOU (PG) Young rap star/actor Romeo is the big attraction to this film, that will appeal to the teen and pre-teen girls living in your home. Rome (Romeo), a high school sophomore, has everything a young kid could want--good looks, personality, and the attention of all the girls. Rome's best friend makes a bit of a mistake. He asks Romeo to look after his little sister, while he goes on a date. Matt's little sister, Forest (Forest Lipton), has a BIG crush on Romeo and wants to take him to the school dance. Instead, he sends his younger brother. The movie features some great music, and some purity that I liked. *** (First Look Entertainment)

THE CASE FOR CHRIST'S RESURRECTION (G) Did Christ really rise from the dead? This documentary investigates the historical record, draws upon medical knowledge, searches for evidence in the lives of the Apostles, explores ancient Jewish burial customs, and examines the 2000 year old burial cloth of Christ--with new scientific technologies. ***1/2 (Grizzly Adams Productions/$14.99)

THE BEST OF THE TONY AWARDS: THE PLAYS (G) This amazing DVD features 19 rare performances from Broadway's "greatest hits." A virtual Who's Who of entertainment perform on this CD, including james Earl Jones, Jane Alexander, Gary Sinise, Maggie Smith, John Lithgow, Robert Prosky, Sam Waterston, Annette Benning, Timothy Daly, Robert Klein, Madeline Kahn, Art Carney, Linda Lavin, Tony Roberts, and Morgan Freeman. From Hamlet, to As You Like It, from the Great White Hope to M. Butterfly, this covers a lot of ground. Loved it! **** (Acorn Media/$19.99)

CAMELOT (G) The quintessential version of this play, this version of the Broadway sensation aired on HBO, and is now available to everyone. Starring Richard Harris (who else?), the musical also features great work from Meg Bussert as Queen Guenevere and Richard Muenz as Lancelot. This film was recommended for children by the National Education Association. I won't hold that against it. This is great. ***1/2 (Acorn Media/$19.95)

SURVIVAL QUEST (R) Don Coscarelli, the creator of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep, brings back this 17 year old film to video. Five strangers meet up at survival school and excitement and drama ensues. Starring Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, and Lance Henriksen, and Paul Provenza. There's a lesson to be learned here: Don't go to survival school when a bunch of paramilitary people chose the same place for their vacation. This one didn't hold my attention--too far fetched. *1/2 (Anchor Bay/$14.98)

(First Look Studios/22.99 at Amazon)
Review by Mark Snyder -

This movie was written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, known for his juvenile comedic talent and annoying voice. I was not expecting much here, but was I in for a gigantic surprise! He has put together a brilliant film that features a helping of romance and a touch of philosophy.

Amy (Melinda Page Hamilton in an inspired turn) is a successful, achieving "good girl", whose parents are proud of her, brother is jealous, and fiance (Bryce Johnson) is looking forward to marrying her. They discuss the importance of being totally honest and committed to one another. After she spills her secret from her college days ( a secret with a lot of bark to it, that will dog you --and her--throughout the film), her life goes down the proverbial tubes. Her hubby-to-be splits, her family shuns her, and her brother proudly spreads her nasty tale.

The basic question: "Is honesty always the right policy? Should dead dogs lie? The answers to these questions, coupled by a wonderful screenplay, excellent acting, and an upbeat ending, makes this film an excellent choice! The story illustrates that some secrets are best left unspoken. Sleeping dogs DO need to lie, in Goldthwait's world.

Kudos to Melinda, Bonita Friedericy (as her mom), Geoff Pierson (as her dad), Jack Plotnick (as her brother), and Brian Posehn (who steals the show as wild friend Randy). A perfectly written and performed movie--right to the Roy Orbison song at the end!



(MTI Home Video/$24.95)
Film Review by Mark Snyder -

"Always Will" is an excellent, well put together inspirational film, composed of one part "The Wonder Years" and another part "Back To The Future." This independent release, featuring an unknown cast, is one of the most outstanding DVD's I have seen in the past year---and I have watched over 100 during that time.

The story focuses on Will (Andrew Baglini), a nondescript child, who through a "magic" time capsule, is able to manipulate himself into a popular football player. The premise requires the viewer to lay his beliefs at the movie entrance door, as Baglini is tiny of stature. But his acting chops, and the role developed from an excellent script and filmmaker Michael Sammaciccia's talented lens, makes this movie an exciting trip down memory lane, and a lesson in growing up, too. Each time he changes something in the past, the future has resultant problems.

The entire cast was chosen from the student body of Upper Darby High School and Hillcrest Elementary School in Pennsylvania. This authenticity gives the film its spiritual anchor. The students not only acted, but even added their own ideas to the final product.

Will's mother (Jody Seymour) endures the death of his father, before meeting another Al (Bart Mallard), a mean and demeaning man. Her advice to Will, "You'll find your way. Follow your gut," becomes an integral part of the plot. Will's statement in the film, "Everyone tastes the heartache and insecurity somewhere along the way" is a microcosm for the reason this film clicks. Everyone watching can identify with one of the characters. The three "oddballs" who are the core of the film, are the average kids you see in schools around the world.

This is a film that should be mandatory viewing in high schools, stocked in libraries, and used to illustrate the true meaning of friendship and "growing up." Every stereotype--from the jocks to the bullies--is illustrated to perfection. From the pretty cheerleader to the clumsy nerd, they are all there in their visual splendor. In the film, Will's narrator says, "People may not remember what you do and say,but they remember how you made them feel." This film made me feel like a middle-aged man enjoying a birthday cake from my youth. Blow out the candles, this movie is a winner!



The Last Tomb of Christ:

A team of experts in biblical archeology and research who have spent years producing 90 major network television documentaries on discoveries related to biblical accounts and antiquities have stepped forward to challenge claims that a new Hollywood documentary demonstrates that the Jesus Christ of the Bible married a woman mentioned in New Testament accounts, that the two had a child, and that the family’s remains were found in a burial cave site in Israel.

"There is simply nothing new in the baseless claims made in the new movie 'The Lost Tomb of Christ,' "said David W. Balsiger, Senior Producer at Grizzly Adams® Productions, who with a team of 28 veteran scientists, archeologists, and scholars recently produced a pair of scientifically and biblically based documentaries on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"For years we’ve been addressing the unscientific claims and sloppy scholarship of movies, books, and other projects just like this latest pop-science TV special," said Balsiger. "They’re always highly sensational, make bold claims that play to public hunger for excitement—and when you dig deep into what they’re claiming, their case against the Jesus of the Bible is always full of holes."

Balsiger noted that while there has been plenty of media attention over the upcoming television program, produced by "Titanic" director James Cameron, no noted archeologists have stepped forward to support the project. "It’s strange that a television producer makes a sensational announcement about the supposed discovery of Christ’s burial site in Israel, yet no one from the Israeli Antiquities Authority corroborates the claim and no Israeli archeologists step forward in support," said Balsiger. "In fact, many bona fide archaeologists, researchers, and Bible scholars have stepped forward to debunk the claims by these filmmakers."

In addition to those experts are Balsiger, who has coauthored a book with Charles E. Sellier, The Case for Christ's Resurrection (Bridge-Logos). Filmmakers Balsiger and Sellier, have recently produced two solid programs about the Christ of the Bible, both scheduled for broadcast during the upcoming Easter season. The Fabric of Time: Secrets of the Universe, scheduled for broadcast on the i Network, is a scientific analysis on the world famous Shroud of Turin, thought by many to be the shroud in which Christ was buried—and from which he was miraculously resurrected. The Case for Christ’s Resurrection, scheduled for broadcast on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, also looks at the death and resurrection of Christ, but from a more traditional biblical evidences point of view.

"The Fabric of Time program proves scientifically with highly respected scientists and scholars that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a scientific fact," said Balsiger. "Consequently, there can be no bones nor anything else of substance pertaining to the so-called body of Jesus Christ in a Jerusalem cave tomb."

"Both of these documentaries are well-researched, thought-provoking, and very compelling to viewers," explained Balsiger. "And most importantly, neither stoop to the sensational—these are quality programs that will stand up to critical, scientific, and scholarly examination by any peer review group."


Review by Mark Snyder

This Peter Chatmon penned and directed film is an urban love story that grips you from the start, takes you for a ride, and sends you to a place you don't expect.

Reginald "Cool" Coolidge (Dorian Missick "Two Weeks Notice") is a struggling actor, trying to break from the chains of playing stereotyped "black" roles and looking to break out in a big way onscreen. Despite his manager Cole Carter's (William Sadler "The Green Mile", "Die hard 2") attempts to get him work, the bicycle-riding Cool lives with his mom, and works part time at a gas station (when he bothers to show up or even stay for a complete shift.) Suddenly one day his former fiance drives into the station and triggers an emotional outpouring from Cool. Charli (Zoe Saldana "Guess Who", "The Terminal") is scheduled to get married that weekend to a successful lawyer. Cool goes into superdrive to try to stop her, and get her back.

Cool sports a bravado front, despite a lack of self-confidence (he says to himself in a mirror, "I hate you sometimes, man."). This film explores love, values, self-esteem and so much more. As Reggie says to Charli, "This is Life. No Script. Raw emotion." And mom adds this piece of advice for Reggie, "If it's true and it's right, love will show its way home."

This films shows a lot more than love, it's a powerful portrayal of the black male in society, as well as the role that the big movie and TV studios play in the caricatures passed off as characters. The cast is effective, the writing smooth, and the film keeps you thinking after the closing credits. Bravo, Mr. Chatmon.

Rating ****   Excellent


THE SEDUCTION (Anchor Bay: $14.98)
Review by Mark Snyder for

Before stalking became criminal behavior, it was just considered a nuisance by local police departments. This film, way before its time, is an erotic, jaw-dropping trip into the terror that is stalking. Anchorwoman Jamie Douglas (played by a gorgeous young Morgan Fairchild) has everything--the successful career, the amazing home, and a loving boyfriend. She also has a "fan" named Derek who considers himself her soul mate. He takes pictures of her--including in her backyard pool skinny dipping--and obsesses about her constantly. When he becomes a threat to her, she notifies the police, who don't seem much concerned. So, it's her against the stalker. Will she surrender to The Seduction or fight until the end? This is a film that is far superior to the many recycled videos on the market. The film, which came out in 1982 originally, has lost nothing in the decades since its release. In fact, due to the subject matter, it is actually more relevant today! Writer/director David Schmoeller's violent and suspenseful drama gets Three Stars. Very good, indeed!   ***Very Good


JENIFER (IDT/Anchor Bay)
ROOM 6 (IDT/Anchor Bay)

Reviews by Mark Snyder for


A captivating drama in the Masters of Horror series, featuring Steven Weber, who has expanded his acting Wings as a man who starts out doing what he thinks is the right thing, and who spirals out of control by a series of unexpected events. He plays Frank Spivey, a detective who rescues a girl named Jenifer (Carrie Anne Fleming), in this tale based on a comic book. Jenifer has a smoking body and a disfigured face. Fleming says she had to wear a prosthetic,big huge fangs and dentures to make herself (a real beauty) look so frightening. Jenifer is not what she seems, as Spivey finds out, after losing his job, his family, and a few family pets to her. This is a short thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seats for the hour. Strap yourself in, it's quite a ride!   **1/2 (Good)


Lochlyn Munro and the lovely Chandra West star in this horror story, directed by TV legend Stephen J. Cannell, about a tooth-collecting axe-wielding witch. I always thought the tooth fairy was a nice woman doling out change to kids who lose their baby teeth. Not here. This film portrays the tooth fairy as an evil witch, who lures children through shiny bicycles and collects their last baby teeth. You'll never look at a wood chip machine the same way after viewing this bloodfest. Nicole Munoz does a wonderful job portraying an eleven year old with a connection to children in the afterlife, who have been victimized by the witch, and are looking to get to Heaven. Total terror takes the viewer by the hair and pulls them into a world none of us ever wants to go to. Carrie Anne Fleming shows up again in this film, and again, unveils her perfectly pert breasts. This may be a horror story, but it's also a love story. Enjoy it with a toothy grin.   *** (Very Good)


A gripping edge of your seat thriller that is worth every penny of its suggested $19.98 price. This is high above your average thriller, a story where leaving the hospital can make a difference between life and death. It borders on being an instant classic that grips the heart. This horror story reflects on the strong bonds between father and daughter, which makes it the most frightening of all! It's a cross between Love Story and Freddy Krueger. Christine Taylor shines in this flick.   *** (Very Good)


Review by Douglas Kern

[SPOILER NOTE: This review gives away every major plot point. It's almost as bad as the trailer. But don't worry about it. The Sixth Sense, this isn't.]

They shaved her freaking armpits. Behold Natalie Portman (yes, her character has a name; do you care?) confronting the deranged anti-hero V after he tortured her as a way of improving her will to power – think Anthony Robbins meets Torquemada. She's been beaten; she's been starved; she's been nearly drowned; her body double was given ice-cold showers; and she's been sleep-deprived (you know this because the brown make-up under her eyes resembles dark circles). Upon realizing that her torment was V's doing, she explodes with rage.

"You cut my hair!" she shrieks, and the audience laughs -- inappropriately, and not for the first time during this movie. But Natalie isn't kidding. As she stands out in the cleansing rain to celebrate the death of fear, she raises her arms in triumph after days if not weeks of brutal, inhumane incarceration -- and check out those pits! Baby smooth.

That's V for Vendetta for you. It's darkly gorgeous, it's effortlessly slick, and at all times, it's three beers away from comedy gold.

Don't assume from my snarky tone that I disliked V for Vendetta. To the contrary, I loved every IQ-reducing minute of it. To call the movie stupid or dishonest is like complaining that Batman's mask couldn't conceal his identity, or that Superman's hair could never be cut: it's true but it misses the point.

Superhero action of any kind, logical or otherwise, is an inherent cinematic good, and any movie that features an unstable super-powered vigilante in a costume beating up other deranged weirdoes in costumes is A-OK by me.

V For Vendetta portrays a bleak futuristic Britain in which an Orwellian dictatorship controls a dazed populace with equal parts fear, lies, and bad dental work. Super powered from a biological warfare experiment gone wrong, the masked crime-fighter/revolutionary/art connoisseur known only as V fights against totalitarian thugs even as he hunts down the bureaucrats who tormented him in a concentration camp, years earlier. Along the way, he blows up some buildings, delivers a few banal speeches (in that patented Wachowski-Brothers use-big-words-and-talk-fast-to-sound-smart patter), and finds love with an unwilling sidekick: an American girl feigning a British accent (Natalie Portman, playing Natalie Portman playing a London office worker).

The totalitarian Britain of V for Vendetta is a blow-dried, CGI-enhanced Hollywood affair, long on gory appliances glued to supporting actors but short on real horror. Of course Natalie Portman wasn't Iraqi-industrial-shredder-style tortured; of course she wasn't harmed in a way that would blemish that flawless skin or remove an ounce of poutiness from those bee-stung lips. V for Vendetta is far too polished and elegant to allow for broken jaws or disfiguring burns or, well, hairy armpits.

Everything in V for Vendetta is subordinate to its visual aesthetic; moral distinctions and gory realities are lost to the tyranny of cool. That's why you won't object to this movie, my right-wing droogies; every objectionable idea and image is just grist for V for Vendetta's visual mill. Images reminiscent of Abu Ghraib? The Wachowski Brothers aren't making a political statement; they're just mining the media for jarring, transgressive images. Riffs on The O'Reilly Factor? It's no slam against Bill O'Reilly; it's just an arresting visual gimmick. The V for Vendetta graphic novel captured the essence of totalitarian drabness; its near-infinite palette of grays and browns and blacks reflected a world drained of color and joy. By contrast, the movie adaptation of V for Vendetta can't help but make its nightmare Britain seem electric and deliciously decadent, like a run-down Berlin nightclub during the Cold War. So while torture is cool and self-transformation is cool, underarm hair on a pretty girl is not cool. Thus, realism got shaved.

Make no mistake: in the world of V for Vendetta, cool makes right. V kills non-combatants, even as the government kills non-combatants. V lies; the government lies. V tortures; the government tortures. But V is the hero, you see, because he likes fine art and jazz and classic movies; he cooks well and dresses with panache and venerates a dead lesbian movie star. When V bombs government buildings, he does it with aplomb, a good classical music soundtrack, and a dry witticism on his unmoving masked lips. He's cool. And that makes it okay.

Fascism is always cool. We forget just how cool fascism was; to concede its dark appeal is to risk seduction to its tenebrous charms. We forget the glamour of Nazism: the handsome uniforms, the brisk, cut-the-crap efficiency; the glorious parades and compelling symbols and hypnotic propaganda -- so unlike the sloppy, ineffectual, dithering Weimer Republic and its painfully uncool parliamentarians.

We forget that, not so very long ago, a very different costumed crusader fought his lonely fight against the forces that oppressed him, employing violence as a means of transcending their petty boundaries and cruel injustices. Every tyrant needs a symbol to make the power of the People seem greater than the flawed and petty men from which it springs. Every fuehrer needs his Parsifal. And today's fascist now has V.

Fascism doesn't rise to power by advertising its death camps and invasions of Ethiopia. Fascism portrays itself to be the voice of the oppressed little guy, fighting back against the forces that keep the average jerk pinned down to his life of quiet desperation. Real fascism doesn't promise to protect us from what we fear; real fascism promises what V promises little Natalie after he tortures her: freedom from fear itself. Every dictator dreams of torturing his society into toughness; in this fantasy, society will be as pretty as ever after the torture, and grateful to boot. Natalie is the perfect victim for the fascist: the weakling who grows strong through pain, and learns to love her tormentor. This madness would be offensive if it could be taken seriously; it would be evil, but for those nice smooth armpits.

V for Vendetta isn't an apology for Nazism; it isn't smart enough. It is rather a joyous paean to unadorned, un-hyphenated fascism. First, I wear the mask: now I am the solitary defender of decency in a world gone mad, and you are the cackling, over-the-top oppressor whom I can kill without compunction. Now you wear the mask: now my soliloquies and resounding calls for freedom are the rants of the maniacal Chancellor, and your evil plans and acts of violence are the tools by which a free people overthrow tyranny. My fascism. Your fascism. It doesn't really matter which buzzwords and justifications we use, does it? What matters is what's cool and sexy and violent.

Oh, violence -- glorious, precious, luscious violence, you are a supporting character in V for Vendetta all by yourself, and you might be the prettiest actor of them all. V doesn't just kill his soulless opponents; he dissects them, carves them like a sculptor, filets them like a steak chef at Benihana's. You can ignore the generic, non-committal political rhetoric of V for Vendetta, but you can't idly dismiss those crimson arcs of pearls that spray so gorgeously every time V flashes his deadly blades. You sigh at the tiresome boilerplate rhetoric, but you marvel at the Pollock-esque masterpieces of human evisceration, and you wonder: which one captured the director's attention more completely? In what does the director place the force of his artistic vision? In what does he place his faith? The blather? Or the blood?

By the movie's end, the stage is set for a perfect fascist Ragnarok. Having perished in honorable combat, V is immolated in explosions and fires of his own making – a magnificent pagan funeral. The V Youth are assembled in stylish masks and smart uniforms to cheer the chaos; the only government character with a shred of decency has switched sides, and the world is redeemed through a little of the old ultra-violence. (It was cured, all right.) And there's Natalie, fetching in her buzz-cut amidst the mayhem and fireworks, eager to inform us that "V is my father. V is my mother. V is my brother." V is everyone, and anyone. V could be you.

So try on the mask. It will give you super powers, and elegance, and an endless sense of grievance, and countless foes to kill with glee. It won't give you moral direction or any sense of the relevant distinctions between righteous violence and thinly rationalized psychosis, but so what? Try on the mask of V for Vendetta. It will fit so well, and feel so good, and look so very, very cool.

Douglas Kern is a lawyer and contributing writer.


Review by Fred Yaitanes

"Glory Road" is the story of the improbable season of the West Texas College basketball team in 1965. A terrific film starring Josh Lucas in the lead. Who is Josh Lucas, you ask? See the film and you will know. I don't want to give the story away, so this is brief. If you are a sports fan, a film lover or just want to enjoy an amazing story of people who beat the odds, take a couple of hours and see the film. You won't be disappointed. A quick note.....stay through the credits until the end. The interviews which follow late in the credits are insightful and worth the extra five minutes. Enjoy and see you at the movies! ****Excellent


review by Fred "Vegas" Yaitanes

I have always been intrigued by Alexander the Great. I wrote a report on him in the sixth grade and being of Greek heritage, was always proud that he was of one of us, or vice versa.
I rented the DVD of Alexander because I missed it in the theaters, not because I was away, but because it was gone in a few days. I can see why. This may be one of the most unwatchable films of all time. Despite the cast of Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie and Val Kilmer, all of whom have done noteworthy work in the past, I can't believe this movie was so bad. The investors must be still reeling from the cost of the film and the loss they incurred.

The film is confusing, goes back and forward in time repeatedly, has dialogue that is difficult to follow and battle scenes that I couldn't keep straight as to who was who. In addition, I was constantly adjusting the volume as the audio was at times so soft I couldn't hear and at other times so loud, I couldn't make out what was being said. I'm still trying to figure out what the battle chants were.

I want to know who the brilliant mind was that cast Angelina as the mother? The person should never work again, unless he/she was strong-armed into casting her.
The score is ok and some of the scenery is beautiful. Other than that, not much is worth mentioning. Take a pass on this, save the $4.00 and buy a chocolate bar instead. It will be more enjoyable.

(Empire Pictures Home Entertainment/ $26.98)

Review by Mark Snyder

This is the story about a tortured soul, whose troubled mind is opened like a can of sardines, and exposed for all the world to see. This highly entertaining and suspenseful drama was made in 1983, and was based on the novel by Robert Cormier. This is its first DVD release.

Imagine discovering that your entire life has been fictitious and your identity is not as you knew it. You were given a new family history and you can trust no one--not even yourself. Originally published in 1977, I Am The Cheese is a classic that still is read in many schools around the country. This subtly-crafted film adaptation, directed by Robert Jiras, tells the story of 14-year old Adam Farmer (Robert MacNaughton), who must unfold the mystery of his parent's disappearance in order to move forward with his life. As he seeks to uncover deep dark secrets lost in his subconscious, he quickly discovers that by unraveling his past, he might harm his future. Suspense picks up big time when Dr. Brint (Robert Wagner), a psychiatrist, helps him piece together the fragments of his life.

Government corruption, espionage, the witness protection program and honest citizenry is skewered in the film, as we all root for Adam to be able to free himself from his twisted past. The Cheese melts in your mind. I really enjoyed this film. After a slow start, it picked up steam and provided food for thought, as well as some entertainment.

A Review by Mark Snyder

(Vital Fluid/End of All Cinema $19.98)

This is Toxic Avenger, with better acting and an improved script. I really enjoyed this film and recommend it on many levels--it's entertaining, erotic, and even offers some environmental philosophy lessons. The lovely Kristi Russell stars as Dr. Barbara Michaels, a lesbian E.P.A. worker. She butts heads with a wealthy community scion who wrecks havoc with the local environment with his illegal dumping. His brother-in-law, the local sheriff needs to be convinced that Michaels is not a nut. A horny toad--the size of a man--tries to procreate with every living and breathing woman on his way. His successful seed implantation? With the crooked businessman's daughter. I see a sequel here! I really liked this film. It provides eighty minutes of escapist fun. And, please don't count me as a sexist, the lesbian scenes were (tastefully) HOT! My grade: ***1/2 (Excellent)

by Mark Snyder,

(Vital Fluid Release $19.98)

Flashbacks capture the tender moments in the life of Charlie Durham (Phoebe Dollar) with her sister. After her sister is murdered, with the cooperation of a local gang under the blind eye of a policeman, Durham begins a Charles Bronson-like revenge against the people who killed her sister. The pulsating hard rock soundtrack mimics the violent action on the screen as, one by one, Durham takes on her sister's killers. Former porn star Ron Jeremy plays a cop who covets Durham, although seemingly realizing she is a ruthless killer. This is really the perfect DVD--it will afford a fun viewing and costs the same as two tickets to the movies! The films also features Motorhead's Lemmy, Dizzy Reed of Guns and Roses, and Tracii Guns of L.A. Guns in acting roles. It is bloody in a comic book way, and despite the unusual look of the star, I found myself strangely drawn to Dollar. Rating: **1/2 (out of four stars) GOOD
(Go Kart/Dumpster Films--$19.98)

Writer and Producer Beth Dewey has caught some of the ups and downs (mostly pitfalls) of the drug culture in our country. Tweeked is the tale of Carrie (Darling Narita) and Michelle (Ali Raymer), two party babes who learn that their brand of drug-induced fun can have dire consequences. Carrie's roommate shoots himself dead after a drug-induced depression gets the better of him. Carrie meets a rich, successful computer geek, who doesn't fit her description of "hot", but becomes her savior. This a really a truly realistic portrait of the underbelly of the drug culture, inside the dark and desperate world inhabited by coke, meth and crack addicts. It has won national awards, and deservedly so. The acting, and writing, are first rate. Michelle's metamorphosis from gorgeous blonde social butterfly to strung-out mess is a testament to the acting of Raymer and the makeup people. Check it out.
Rating: *** VERY GOOD

Go Kart Films--$19.98

This film by Hayder Mousa Daffar, an Iraqi filmmaker, is an excellent piece of history that will please both sides of the war argument. From the older Iraqi woman who has plastered her "savior" George W. Bush's portrait in every room, to the citizens who denounce the Americans (and, of course, the Israelis), the film covers a lot of ground. Daffar and a few other filmmakers, talk to people in all walks of life, explore the arts and culture of Bagdad, and draw the viewer into the daily life and turmoil of Iraqi life. The piece on Abu Ghraib is worth the DVD. As the world speaks of the U.S. "torture" there (consisting of mocking a few prisoners), a man talks of the unspeakable horrors unleashed in that same location, by one of Saddam Hussein's sons. It's something that the viewer will internalize and think about long after shutting off the film. The Americans, first welcomed by many as heroes, are now looked upon by many as having overstayed their welcome as "occupiers." This films will make you think. I believe it should be REQUIRED viewing in high school social studies classes in America. Rating: **** (Excellent)

STAR WARS: EPISODE III: Revenge of the Sith
Review By Craig Winneker, Editor of Tech Central Station Europe, based in Brussels
May 10, 2005

BRUSSELS -- I just saw a press screening of the new Star Wars movie, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and here's my capsule review: It's superb; the last 15 minutes are better than anything George Lucas has ever done; and as Yoda would say, "This film must you see; love it, you will." However, I left the theater with something more than the feeling that after nearly 30 years as a Star Wars fan, a cinematic era of my life -- with plenty of ups and downs along the way -- had been closed on a thrilling and thoroughly satisfying note. I also wondered why George Lucas suddenly felt the need to add so much topicality into the story line.

Everyone knows what is going to happen in this movie -- where it starts and how it will end. Part of its brilliance is the way it turns a foregone conclusion into a kind of challenging plot puzzle. You know what the picture's going to look like at the end, but you want to see how all the pieces will fit together. And Lucas has fun with this game, throwing in a lot of cheeky references to other films -- from Frankenstein and Nosferatu to Commando Cody and Apocalypse Now and even, yes, to other Star Wars movies -- to lighten the otherwise darkening mood.

But something else is disturbingly -- and rather awkwardly - evident: a recurring anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war message. Forget about the merits of the argument in question. This stuff has no place in a Star Wars flick.

The dialogue in ROTS is rife with distinctly unsubtle references to the current political situation. "This war represents a failure to listen," Padme laments at one point, before declaring after a vote to give executive power to Chancellor Palpatine: "So this is how liberty dies -- to thunderous applause." The wicked Chancellor, played brilliantly by Ian McDiarmid, talks on and on about "security", giving it an evilly sibilant S, and about "peace". As he lures Anakin over to the dark side, telling him what to say in Jedi Council meetings, you wonder if he's supposed to be Karl Rove. He does, after all, appear to be the smartest man in the movie.

The ultimate reference comes in the climactic duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi on the planet of Mustafar, which seems to have long ago failed in its struggle against global warming. "If you're not with me, you're my enemy," Anakin shouts to Obi-Wan, who responds: "Only a Sith lord deals in absolutes." Yes, and so, it would seem, do neo-cons.

Meanwhile, at that very instant in the Senate chamber, there is a cool fight scene between Yoda and Darth Sidious that, as one reviewer has already pointed out, evokes Democrats and Republicans in violent deadlock. (I was just glad there weren't any more endless Congressional debates like the ones that bogged down the previous two Star Wars chapters. Episode I: The Phantom Menace had more talk of trade pacts and intergalactic confederations than an EU summit.)

The internet has been rife with rumors that Lucas had some script-doctoring help from noted playwright Tom Stoppard. Given the greatly improved quality of much of this film's dialogue over its predecessors (Lucas has a brilliant imagination but he is terrible at scripting a believable conversation between two or more humanoids), I'm apt to believe them. Could Stoppard have injected a dose of left-wing sentiment into our beloved film franchise? It's tough to say. The Czechoslovakian-born British writer has long been a foe of communism and once had nice things to say about Margaret Thatcher. But he was a vocal opponent of the Iraq war and recently wrote a dramatic trilogy idealizing the roots of socialism.

Again, all of this shouldn't matter. The film is exciting enough that I overlooked the few annoying instances when it veered away from its fantasy world and towards today's front pages. The rest of the time, thankfully, this movie took place right where it is supposed to: in a galaxy far, far away.



BJ Davis Bids Farewell to Beverly Hills Film Studios

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., March 4, 2005 -- Founder and Creator
of Beverly Hills Film Studios, Producer/Director BJ Davis,
is departing Beverly Hills Film Studios to take the helm of
a newly created company, Pear Mound Pictures, that will
produce bigger budgeted films and television product for the

Davis is currently preparing a feature film for Hoboken
Pictures entitled "Murder On The Hudson" to be shot in
Hoboken, New Jersey later this year with Producers John D.
Schofield and Anthony Falco, with an original story and
screenplay by Michelle Landegraf and Julie Rice-Davis.

Davis created Beverly Hills Film Studios in late 2003 as a
privately funded company, along with Hollywood icon,
Producer John D. Schofield, known as the producer of Academy
Award-winning films such as "As Good As It Gets," "Jerry
McGuire" and "Ali."

Davis brought a variety of film projects to the Beverly
Hills Film Studios and produced several of the company's
current film slate. "It was truly a pleasure, creating a new
company that already produced two wonderful films and is
well on its way to becoming a viable commercial success.
During my tenure with Beverly Hills Film Studios, we managed
to employ well-known film stars as well as helped to get
people started in their new careers. It has been a
fulfilling experience," said Davis. The film library and
properties Davis brought to the company will now return to
him and his partners.

One of the films slated to be produced, "El Coyote," will be
filmed as an internationally funded co-production written by
renowned Mexican author and screenwriter Manuel Flores.
Currently "A" list talent is being sought to finalize this
very commercial package for Davis' new company, Pear Mound

Davis originally greenlit the feature film "Dirty Love,"
which was well received by buyers and film critics at the
Sundance Film Festival, starring Jenny McCarthy and Carmen
Electra along with a host of other talented young actors.

Davis is finalizing post-production for the feature film
comedy "Forget About It" that he produced and directed,
starring Burt Reynolds, Raquel Welch, Michael Paloma,
Charles Durning and Robert Loggia. The picture is to be
released at the Cannes Film Festival.

In assuring the company's success, Davis utilized his track
record as a bondable and bankable film director coming from
the ranks of Academy Award-winning directors Oliver Stone,
Clint Eastwood and television Emmy Award-winning directors
such as Arthur A. Siedelman.

BJ Davis is very proud of Beverly Hills Film Studios as part
of his colorful history in the film industry, having started
his career as a Hollywood Stuntman, doubling five Academy
Award Winners: Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Tommy Lee Jones,
Michael Cane and Art Carney, inducted into the Hollywood
Stuntman Hall of Fame and still holding two world records.
BJ Davis can now add "successfully running a company" to the
long list of his achievements.

Consumer Corner:
Chevrolet SS Comes Standard with Vibration
By Nathan Tabor

Many people have many problems with many things. Some you have control over and some you don't. The real problem begins when you can't get your problem solved. What? You won't help me? But? You have my money! My product doesn't work!

Have you ever been in this situation? I have had problems with products or services several times and they are usually quickly resolved. Well, over the past year I have had several problems that just haven't gotten resolved. So, what better place to take them than to the public.

I may even make this a recurring column and discuss other people's problems.

In October 2003 I purchased a Chevrolet SS pickup truck for my soon-to-be wife. The sales rep, which happened to be the manager, told me this truck was the best truck on the road. Well, having owned Chevrolet's all my life and trusting this sales rep and dealership, away I went in my new truck.

Things were good for the first few months. Then, my wife drove the truck to see her parents an hour away. She called me and said the truck was vibrating so much that it was giving her a headache. When she took it by the dealership they told her it was normal and couldn't be fixed. At the time I didn't have a chance to deal with the situation because of a race for Congress. I figured it wouldn't hurt to wait a few more months.

In August of 2004 I took the truck to the Chevrolet dealership. They said they found nothing technically wrong with the vehicle. Technically? Interesting term in customer service. After several more visits to the dealership and after being turned down by the GM rep to have a meeting I contacted the Better Business Bureau.

I filled out the normal paperwork for the Bureau and waited to hear back. After I did not, I contacted the GM Corporation Customer Service Center. I was promptly contacted by 'Regina.' Hmm, getting places, I thought. Several, several weeks later -- and three skipped conference calls by Regina -- I was told that my Chevrolet SS pickup truck comes standard with vibration. Can I get that in writing? 'No. We can't give you anything in writing.'

Excuse me? Regina with GM told me that the shaking and rattling in my brand new SS was normal. But, but Regina, GM and my local Chevrolet dealership? Why would you sell me a brand new SS that vibrates and then refuse to fix it?

Like I said before, I have driven Z71's and Tahoe's all my life. They don't come standard with vibration.

My wife and I now have a six-week old baby. For those who have children you know it is a feat to get them to sleep. Well, we can't even drive the best truck on the road because it wakes our baby. Now, Chevrolet is proudly releasing an entire line of SS trucks and cars. The commercial is catchy and brilliantly put together. However, instead of driving a car that is smooth like a record it feels more like an accordion.

Chevrolet says it has better resale value then Ford or Dodge. Well, the SS pickup's sticker price is over $40,000 new and you can buy a year and a half old one for $24,000.

My advice to consumers is to only purchase these vehicles if you want a ride that will give you a headache, chatter your teeth and keep your baby awake. So, buyer (and stock-holder) beware. The new Super Sport is one sport short of being super. Your best bet? Get a few horses and a log wagon, it's a lot cheaper and just as smooth.

Alien Hominid

"Alien Hominid is a great game for kids 11- 13. The controls are easy to learn and there is just the right amount of violence for the age group. The levels are a bit challenging but not to the point where it is impossible. Overall, Alien Hominid is a good game. It has humor, excitement, and a challenge. What more could you want?" Rated four out out five stars (****)---Review by Dan Snyder (age 13, eighth grader) for (Using Game Cube Version $29.95)

by Fred Yaitanes

Coach Carter stars Samuel L. Jackson as the highly principled basketball
coach of an inner city high school. It's the same old story where the kids
think about basketball all the time and his mission is to create
student-athletes out of them. The twist is in his unorthodox methods of inspiring the kids and gaining the support of the faculty and the community. This film is rapid
and will keep your interest. The basketball scenes are believable. The story
is uplifting, but predictable.

Meet the Fockers: This is a sometimes funny movie and a sequel to Meet
the Parents. The trailer (the preview) actually contains most of the laughs.
Casting Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand as Greg Focker's (Ben Stiller)
parents was a brilliant marketing move. Robert DeNiro is the father of the
future bride and is ex CIA. If you liked the first you should probably see this.
If not, take a pass and spend your money on one of the Oscar- nominated films

The Aviator. This is a wonderful movie based on the early life of Howard
Hughes. The cinematography (camera design) is very grand. Leonardo DiCaprio
stars in the lead role and won the Golden Globe for his performance 2 weeks
ago. He is up for best actor at the Oscars in February as well. The film is
directed by Martin Scorsese. Anything directed by him should be seen. The Aviator leads the Oscar parade with 11 nominations.

Hotel Rwanda: This is the story about the genocide that took over a
million lives in Rwanda in an ethnic cleansing. It is riveting, disturbing and
well acted. Don Cheadle is nominated for best actor for his role as the
manager of a hotel in Rwanda who saves over 1200 people from being massacred by housing them in his hotel. The frustration shown by Cheadle when his country is
abandoned in their time of need by the Belgians, French, American and United
Nations is heart rendering. It reminded us of Schindler's List, which won for
best picture several years ago. With Oscar nominations for best movie and
best actor, we loved this film. Don't miss it.

Sideways: I'm going to go out on a limb here and take an unpopular
position like I did with Chicago two years ago. Everyone who I spoke with who had
seen this movie has raved about it. I was disappointed, maybe because of all
the hype. It's the story of two friends who go on a road trip to wine country
in California for a week before they need to be back on Saturday for the
marriage of one of them. Paul Giamatti is cast in the lead as the neurotic,
recently-divorced wine connoisseur who always looks at the dark side of life. His
friend, who is played by an actor I'm not familiar with, is nominated for best
supporting actor. It is well written and depicts what guys can be like when
they are around their friends. Virginia Madsen plays the love interest of
Giamatti and a thinking woman who loves wine almost as much as he does. The film flows naturally and showcases wine country with the cinematography. Multiple
Oscar nominations including Madsen for best supporting actress. The film
hits all the emotions and should be seen.

Maria Full of Grace: (seen on DVD.) Great movie! So disturbing and
mesmerizing, we didn't breath at times, it was so gripping. It's the story of
the drug trade in Colombia and their use of young girls as mules to carry
drugs into the U.S. The young lady cast in the lead is nominated as best
actress. She, or Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby, I predict will win. Another
don't miss film.

Million Dollar Baby: Another fabulous film! Clint Eastwood keeps getting
better with age. He produced, directed, stars and wrote the music for the
film. The film is powerful and unpredictable. The story is about a young woman
who wants to become a boxer. The film is nominated in multiple categories
including best picture, best director, best actor, best actress and best
supporting actor. Hilary Swank is amazing and the boxing scenes are very believable. Morgan Freeman plays the wise old ex-boxer and Clint plays the complex gym owner. Everything about the film will move you. Everything. I loved it! See this at the movies. Don't wait for DVD.

Los Angeles, California - Nominations for the 11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards ® for outstanding performances in 2004 in five film and eight prime-time television categories were announced in Los Angeles at the Pacific Design Center's Silver Screen Theater.

Screen Actors Guild President Melissa Gilbert introduced Rosario Dawson (Alexander) and James Denton (Desperate Housewives), who announced the nominees for this year's Actors ®.

Screen Actors Guild will honor its own at its 11th Annual Awards ceremonies on Saturday, February 5, at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center, televised nationally on Turner Network Television (TNT) at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. CT, and 6 p.m. MT.

Of the top industry accolades presented to performers, only the Screen Actors Guild Awards ® are selected purely by actors' peers. Two selected panels--one for television and one for film--each comprised of 2100 SAG members from across the United States, chose this year's Actor ® nominees. The secret ballots were mailed Friday, December 10, 2004 and returned by the deadline of noon on January 7, 2005 to Integrity Voting Systems, the Awards' official teller.

Awards ballots will be mailed on January 11, 2005. The entire active membership of the Guild across the country will vote on all acting categories. Ballots must be returned to Integrity Voting Systems by noon on Thursday, February 3, where results will be tallied and sealed until they are opened by the presenters at the 11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® ceremonies on February 5.

The Screen Actors Guild Post-Awards Gala, benefiting the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, will be hosted for the ninth consecutive year by People magazine and by the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF).



Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Don Cheadle / HOTEL RWANDA
Leonardo DiCaprio / THE AVIATOR
*Jamie Foxx / RAY - Ray Charles

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Annette Bening / BEING JULIA
Catalina Sandino Moreno / MARIA FULL OF GRACE
Imelda Staunton / VERA DRAKE

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

*Thomas Haden Church / SIDEWAYS
James Garner / THE NOTEBOOK
Freddie Highmore / FINDING NEVERLAND

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Cate Blanchett / THE AVIATOR
Cloris Leachman / SPANGLISH
Laura Linney / KINSEY
*Virginia Madsen / SIDEWAYS
Sophie Okonedo / HOTEL RWANDA


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

*William H. Macy / THE WOOL CAP

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Keke Palmer / THE WOOL CAP

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Hank Azaria / HUFF
James Gandolfini / THE SOPRANOS
Anthony LaPaglia / WITHOUT A TRACE
*Jerry Orbach / LAW & ORDER
Kiefer Sutherland / 24

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Drea De Matteo / THE SOPRANOS
*Edie Falco / THE SOPRANOS
Jennifer Garner / ALIAS
Allison Janney / THE WEST WING
Christine Lahti / JACK & BOBBY

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

Sean Hayes / WILL & GRACE
*Tony Shalhoub / MONK
Charlie Sheen / TWO AND A HALF MEN

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Megan Mullally / WILL & GRACE
Sarah Jessica Parker / SEX AND THE CITY

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

*Cast of 24 on FOX





Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series





Cast of WILL & GRACE on NBC

Screen Actors Guild Awards 41st Annual Life Achievement Award

James Garner

* denotes's picks for winner

from Mark Snyder &

If you're like me, you look for movies with uplifting messages, with positive reinforcement, and with a strong moral structure. Cloud Ten Pictures has been putting out some amazing films the past few years. I've had a chance to speak to Peter and Paul LaLonde, the brothers behind the series of films, a couple of times on my radio show. There are currently NINE films in the series and some lucky listeners will win the WHOLE SERIES! You'll get:

Left Behind 1 & 2 starring Kirk Cameron, Chelsea Noble, Brad Johnson and Clarence Gilyard

Deceived starring Judd Nelson and Lou Gossett, Jr.

Waterproof starring Whitman Mayo, Burt Reynolds, and Orlando Jones

Judgement starring Corbin Bernsen, Jessica Steen and Mr. T

Revelation starring Jeff Fahey, Nick Mancuso and Carol Alt

Apocalypse starring Richard Nester and Leigh Lewis

The Miracle of the Cards starring Catherine Oxenberg, Richard Thomas and Kirk Cameron

Tribulation starring Gary Busey, Margot Kidder and Howie Mandel

Tell me your own story of redemption, revelation or an epiphany. Winners will receive ALL NINE films on DVD. Email to: No purchase necessary. Contest ends December 31, 2004.

Ray Charles: Live In Brazil
(Rhino Home Video)


O-Genio translates to "the Genius". Ray Charles has proven to be a genius at providing music that transended generations of music affectioniados. This live performance, caught in concert from San Paulo, Brazil in 1963, provides a glimpse at Ray at his absolute best.

The DVD, as always when Rhino is involved it's a gem, inlcudes two rare concerts and an even rarer studio rehearsal, along with the complete Brazilian commercials that aired with the original program. Listen to Ray sing his classic tunes like "Hit The Road Jack", "What'd I Say", "You Are My Sunshine", "Take These Chains From My Heart", and "I Can't Stop Loving You". This one is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. We give it **** (out of four)

(WIN A COPY. Listen to the interviews on Live Channel 1 and 2 at for your chance!)



Los Angeles, California-April 14, 2004-Stronghold Productions will be holding a private screening of Runaways (distribution through Echelon Entertainment) at the AFI Mark Goodson Theater, 2021 N. Western Avenue in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22 at 7:00 PM.

Along with the producers, cast and crew of the film, members of the press are invited to attend the event which will coincide with its opening in Los Angeles.

Reviews of the project have been encouraging as Mark Snyder of writes, "Brent Bambic has put together a brilliant film that powerfully illustrates the problems of runaways, through an interesting portrayal of kids who have fallen into the trap of abuse".

Public response has also been positive according to Bambic, the project's writer/director and who also produced it along with Ethan Black, "The movie has been extremely well received by audiences back east and in the Midwest".

The film tells the story of a runaway teenage boy's (Austin O'Brien) struggles on the streets of Los Angeles although, according to Bambic, anyone can relate to his dilemma, "Although the movie happens to take place in L.A., it could be any city where Steve's story unfolds".

Operating on a budget of around $1 million, Bambic put aside his other projects in order to bring this story, which he felt needed to be told, to the big screen.

Bambic says, "There are approximately 500,000 children and teen runaways each year, some of them as young as 10. And an average of 1.3 million runaway and homeless youth live on the streets of America". He adds, "Hopefully those who are in a position to help will see the film and react to it". The young filmmaker is also donating a portion of the project's proceeds to programs which deal with this issue.

To attend the screening, contact Stronghold Productions at 310.420.2014 or, and to learn more about the movie itself, look up the film's website at


Passion of the Christ
Review by Seth Curtis

With all the controversy and discussion surrounding Mel Gibson's depiction of the last hours of the life of Jesus Christ, my curiosity was peaked. I'm always fascinated by people's reactions to a film of this nature and equally fascinated by people I've talked with who have a strong opinion about this
film and didn't bother to see it. And since the various factions of the organized religious community chimed in with their predictable slants even before the film opened, I will try to provide an unbiased, non-factioned, and yes, "I paid my ten bucks" view of "Passion of the Christ".
Overall, a very powerful film. Flawed? Yes, but only in the flashback sequences and the level of violence. In the flashback sequences, Mel went for the "easy" with the off-the-rack scenes( ie: the stoning of Mary Magdeline, the last supper, etc.) Mel could have challenged the audience a bit there.
As far as the violence goes, I'd have to say that "Passion" is the most violent, brutal film I've ever seen. Was I offended? No. Was it necessary? No. The level of violence was over the top and in your face. My guess is this was Mel's intention for the shock value. The other side of "Passion" is that Mel Gibson isn't trying to rewrite biblical history here. From a historical standpoint, he simply emphasized and sometimes over- emphasized the events leading to the crucifixion of
Christ. Another interesting controversy surrounding this film was the anti-Semitic label it was given. Knowing this going in, I was consciously looking for it, but it simply wasn't there.
If you're looking for anti-Semitic, check out "The Believer" or "American History X". "Passion" has nothing on these films.
Remember, this film is based on biblical history. This didn't appear to be an agenda-driven, pro-Christian, anti-anybody movie, just Mel Gibson's depiction of the persecution and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Since when do
we get so uptight about what Mel Gibson, or anybody else for that matter, thinks. Historically, religion gets a lot of people in a lot of trouble and everyone needs to just lighten up a little. Besides, "The Last Temptation Of Christ" by Martin Scorceses I thought was a far more adverse film.
While "Passion of the Christ" may be a bit strong for children, there's a lighter alternative such as "Jesus of Nazereth".


Los Angeles, California - Screen Actors Guild presented its coveted Actor® statuette for the outstanding motion picture and primetime television performances of 2003 at the 10th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® in ceremonies attended by film and television's leading actors, held Sunday, February 22, 2004 at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. The 10th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® was telecast on Turner Network Television (TNT) at 8 p.m., ET/PT, 7 p.m. Central and 6 p.m. Mountain

The honorees were selected by the active Guild membership nationwide.

Karl Malden was presented with Screen Actors Guild's highest honor, the 40th Annual Life Achievement Award by Michael Douglas, following a filmed tribute featuring Kirk Douglas, Patty Duke, Angela Lansbury and Eva Marie Saint.

Honored with individual awards were Johnny Depp, Tim Robbins, Charlize Theron and Renee' Zellweger for performances in motion pictures and Frances Conroy, Megan Mullally, Al Pacino, Tony Shalhoub, Meryl Streep, Kiefer Sutherland and for performances in television. Screen Actors Guild originated awards for the outstanding performances by a motion picture cast and by television drama and comedy ensembles. The Actor® for a motion picture cast performance went this year to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and the Actors® for television drama and comedy ensemble performances went this year to Six Feet Under and Sex and the City..

Commemorating the Screen Actors Guild Awards® 10th annual ceremony, Sean Hayes introduced And The Actor Went To an exuberant look back at a decade of memorable SAG Awards moments.

PEOPLE magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) hosted the Screen Actors Guild Post-Awards Gala for the eighth-consecutive year. This exclusive event honors the philanthropic causes and good works of the members of the Screen Actors Guild. The gala, benefiting the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, immediately followed the SAG Awards on the backlot of the Shrine Exposition Center and celebrated the 10th Annual SAG Awards, the 70th Anniversary of SAG as well as PEOPLE's 30th Anniversary.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards® is a presentation of Jeff Margolis Productions in association with Screen Actors Guild. Jeff Margolis is the executive producer and Kathy Connell is the producer. Yale Summers, Karla Tamburrelli, Daryl Anderson, Shelley Fabares and Paul Napier are producers for SAG. Gloria Fujita O'Brien and Mick McCullough are supervising producers. Ron De Moraes is the director and Stephen Pouliot is the writer. Benn Fleishman is executive in charge of production.

The complete list of recipients of the 10th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® follows.

NOTE TO MEDIA: A downloadable version of this announcement is available to you online at



Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Johnny Depp / PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL - Jack Sparrow / Buena Vista Pictures

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Charlize Theron / MONSTER - Aileen Wuornos / Newmarket Films

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Tim Robbins / MYSTIC RIVER - Dave Boyle / Warner Bros.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Renee' Zellweger / COLD MOUNTAIN - Ruby Thewes / Miramax Films

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture


Sean Astin Sam Gamgee
Sean Bean Boromir
Cate Blanchett Galadriel
Orlando Bloom Legolas Greenleaf
Billy Boyd Peregrin Pippin Took
Bernard Hill Theoden
Ian Holm Bilbo Baggins
Ian McKellen Gandalf
Dominic Monaghan Meriadoc Merry Brandybuck
Viggo Mortensen Aragorn
John Noble Denethor
Miranda Otto Eowyn
John Rhys-Davies Gimli
Andy Serkis Gollum
Liv Tyler Arwen
Karl Urban Eomer
Hugo Weaving Elrond
David Wenham Faramir
Elijah Wood Frodo Baggins


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Al Pacino / ANGELS IN AMERICA - Roy Cohn / Home Box Office

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

Meryl Streep / ANGELS IN AMERICA - Hannah Pitt / Home Box Office

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Kiefer Sutherland / 24 - Jack Bauer / FOX

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

Frances Conroy / SIX FEET UNDER - Ruth Fisher / Home Box Office

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

Tony Shalhoub / MONK - Adrian Monk / USA

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Megan Mullally / WILL & GRACE - Karen Walker / NBC

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

SIX FEET UNDER Home Box Office

Lauren Ambrose Claire Fisher
Frances Conroy Ruth Fisher
Ben Foster Russell
Rachel Griffiths Brenda Chenowith
Michael C. Hall David Fisher
Peter Krause Nate Fisher
Peter Macdissi Olivier Castro-Staal
Justina Machado Vanessa Diaz
Freddy Rodriguez Federico Diaz
Mathew ST Patrick Keith Charles
Lili Taylor Lisa Kimmel Fisher
Rainn Wilson Arthur Martin

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

SEX AND THE CITY Home Box Office

Kim Cattrall Samantha Jones
Kristin Davis Charlotte York
Cynthia Nixon Miranda Hobbes
Sarah Jessica Parker Carrie Bradshaw

Screen Actors Guild Awards 40th Annual Life Achievement Award

Karl Malden

Hackademy Awards Honor Depp and Best Actor Nominees with Pink Lung; Best Pictures Earn Gray Lung for So-So Effort to Limit Tobacco Use

SACRAMENTO, Calif. A virtually smoke-free slate of Best Actor nominees for this year's Oscars earned a Pink Lung Award in the ninth annual Hackademy Awards, the Academy Awards spoof sponsored by the American Lung Association's Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! program.

However, nominees for Best Actress received the Hackademy Award for the heavy tobacco use of three of the five nominees. Teen reviewers with Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! also gave Best Picture nominees a Gray Lung. For the most part, the five nominated movies didn't go out of the way to promote tobacco, but neither did they display a willingness to cut smoking completely.

"None of the Best Picture nominees stand out as deserving of a Hackademy, but at the same time, they certainly weren't perfect. They all had more than 25 instances of smoking, but the plot lines would not have been any different in any of the films if tobacco had been eliminated," said Sacramento reviewer Lauralee Brown, 17, of Fair Oaks, Calif.

Individual movies recognized were:

* "American Wedding," which earned a Pink Lung for staying blissfully free of tobacco, even ignoring the old cliche imagery of cigar smoking during a bachelor party.

* "Mona Lisa Smile," which received a Hackademy. There's nothing to smile about when a movie blatantly links intellectual women with cigarette use, even going as far as displaying particular brands.

Meanwhile, reviewers found better news within the Best Actor category, where Bill Murray's cigar puffing character from "Lost in Translation" was the lone smoker among five nominees. That included Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," where the swashbuckling movie apparently threw tobacco overboard — a pleasant surprise for reviewers.

"You would expect to see smoking in 'Pirates of the Caribbean' because pirates are dirty and gross, and because of the time period. But it wasn't there. They easily could have included smoking as a prop, but obviously chose not to," said reviewer Aimee Nishimura, 17, of Sacramento.

In awarding a Hackademy for the Best Actress nominees, reviewers pointed to Diane Keaton in "Something's Gotta Give" as an example. In the movie, Keaton plays a character who is ardently anti-tobacco at the start of the film and then is seen smoking in Paris, joking that she may as well because, "I'm in Paris. The smoke will kill me anyway."

Sean Penn turned in a smokeless performance in "Mystic River," which was otherwise awash with cigarettes and displays of cigarette brands. Reviewers found Penn's character promising because most past characters played by the star are smokers.

However, the rest of the Hackademys reflected a dismal year, especially for PG-13 movies. A shocking 80 percent of PG-13 movies produced during the past year featured tobacco use, nearly all of it in a positive light, according to a the most recent annual report on tobacco use in movies compiled by Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!

"We're right back up where we were before, after a significant drop in smoking. It's the highest since 1995. Total tobacco use in PG-13 movies is skyrocketing," said Curt Mekemson, a consultant with the American Lung Association of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails.

In awarding the Gray Lung, teen reviewers also mentioned "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" as an example of Hollywood's stubborn devotion to tobacco as a prop. Even though scenes of pipe smoking were fleeting, they seemed to prove that Hollywood can approach the very edge of making a tobacco-free movie, but in the end just can't bear to toss smoking away for good.

Reviewers acknowledged that author J.R.R Tolkien's trilogy contained pipe smoking, but with so much of the original left out of the movie, they wondered why the pipe puffing had to stay.

"Of all the movies this year, "Lord of the Rings" had the greatest reach, drawing millions of adults and kids into theaters. People even wore costumes and modeled behavior after the movie's heroes. So it's frustrating for us to see tobacco use given even a tiny role, considering the consequences if kids extend that role-playing into smoking," said Kori Titus, Director of Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!

Besides "Lord of the Rings," the other Best Picture nominees are "Lost in Translation," "Mystic River," "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" and "Seabiscuit." "Master and Commander" contained scenes of young sailors smoking pipes and the family-friendly "Seabiscuit" missed few opportunities to display smoking as a part of 1930s life; however, in awarding the Gray Lung, reviewers acknowledged that the subjects of the book smoked in real life.

The Hackademy Awards, a takeoff on the Academy Awards, focus on the effect that tobacco use in movies has on American pre-teens and teenagers. The nearly 10-year-old campaign highlights studies that prove the direct link between smoking in movies and an increased willingness by young people to try tobacco — and get hooked.

Major findings in the report also discovered that:

* PG-13 movies provide the greatest tobacco exposure to young people.

* Leading actors light up in 60 percent of the top box office movies.

* According to youth reviewers, pro-tobacco messages are included in 74 percent of movies depicting tobacco use.

"The American Lung Association urges the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to change the rating system to eliminate smoking in new movies intended for children, teens and young audiences," said John Kirkwood, President and CEO, American Lung Association.

Mekemson said the link between teen smoking and movies has been made clear to the entertainment industry, but that a tremendous amount of work remains in motivating industry members to take action.

"There's just a great deal of addiction within the entertainment industry culture itself, and I think another reason is that tobacco continues to be perceived as a handy prop," Mekemson said. "A third reason is the continuing influence of the tobacco industry. Big tobacco has invested billions into creating images of tobacco as sexy, cool and rebellious. Unfortunately, the entertainment industry is still picking up those images, and in the end, kids are picking up cigarettes and cigars."

Even worse, visuals of specific cigarette brands still make it into many movies, years after public pressure drove the tobacco industry to stop manipulating movie makers into allowing such brand placement. But apparently, the effects of Big Tobacco's efforts linger on because 10 percent of recently reviewed movies contained scenes showing specific brands, which basically turns the production into a tobacco ad and delivers it to a captive, often young, audience. Marlboro received most of this free advertising.

"Fandom" Wins Top Honor

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 2, 2004)_ The mockumentary "Fandom," the study of a young man's obsession with actress Natalie Portman, is the grand prize winner of the 2004 DIY Film Festival.

"Fandom" depicts the passionate celebrity worship of Gordon Coleman, a nerdish yarn shop worker who sets out to meet the celebrity of his dreams. The examination of his Portman-fueled lifestyle is hilarious, at times heartbreaking and always disturbing as the film crew follows him to an attempted meet-up with his idol.

Director Nick Turner and other festival winners will be celebrated at a screening held on Friday, February 6th at the Gallery Theatre at the Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood. The event is part of the fourth annual DIY Convention: Do It Yourself in Film, Music & Books, which runs from Feb. 5-7. Doors open at 7 p.m. on Friday and the event is free and open to the public.

"Fandom" uses digital video in its best form, capturing reality and manufacturing drama," says festival programming director Richard Martini. "It draws the viewer into the filmmaker's world with terrific performances and unusual direction. It's DIY filmmaking at its best."

The Friday night DIY Film Festival screening will also be highlighted by the world premiere of "King Leisure, S.O.B. (Straight Outta The 'Burbs)," the hilarious, Spinal Tap-esque story of a comebacking rocker who turns to hip-hop. The film was written and directed by Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens, who will be on hand with cast members to answer questions about the making of the movie.

The other winners in the 2004 DIY Film Festival include:

*** Michael Wolk, whose "You Think You Really Know Me," a study of the rediscovery of DIY pioneer Gary Wilson, wins the best documentary - feature category;

*** Dallas Morgan, a 16-year old North Carolina resident whose stylishly-shot study in teen angst, "Noble Selection," is the winner of the best student film category;

*** Mike Miley, winner of the best short film award for "Bug Man," a compelling examination of the life of an exterminator;

*** Brian A. Green, whose directorial debut, "Fish Without A Bicycle," is the winner of the best feature/drama and best screenplay;

*** James Harvey, whose stunning examination of the stress experienced by a group of musicians in war-torn Sarajevo, "Rave Against The Machine," wins best short documentary;

*** Paul Bunch, who exhibited a deft touch in the always-trick area of romantic entanglements in "Waiting For Michelle," winner of the best comedy short;

*** Chieh Huang, whose delightful tale of an existential parrot in "BirdOn" wins best animation;

*** Jeremy Paul, whose sense of composition wins him the best cinematography award for "Static," a beautiful rendering of a snow storm.

Honorable mentions in the competition go to "Trading Women," a documentary on the sex trade with voiceover by Angelina Jolie; "Nellie," a moving story of a handicapped coach; "Don't Nobody Love The Game More Than Me," a short talk on basketball that's also about life; "Brass Tacks," a drama about an Atlanta rock band; "Sensitive Johnson," a comedy feature about a certain part of the anatomy; "Six and the City," a comedic parody about everyone's favorite TV show as seen through pre-pubescent eyes; "Man and Mouse," a hilarious comedy short; the disturbing animation "Bid 'Em In"; and the screenplay for "One Shot."

The DIY Film Festival is sponsored by BMI, Primera's Bravo CD/DVD Disc Publisher;;; Sonicbids;; Bryan Farrish Radio Promotions; Luck Media & Marketing; Sound Exchange; Imagic; Final Draft Screenplay Software, The Hollywood Creative Directory, SESAC, Discmakers,, SESAC and the

24 Hollytree Rd.
Stoughton, MA 02072

781-341-8332 (voice)
781-344-7207 (fax)


List Of SAG Nominees


-- Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"
-- Peter Dinklage, "The Station Agent"
-- Ben Kingsley, "House of Sand and Fog"
-- Bill Murray, "Lost in Translation"
-- Sean Penn, "Mystic River"

-- Patricia Clarkson "The Station Agent"
-- Diane Keaton, "Something's Gotta Give"
-- Charlize Theron, "Monster"
-- Naomi Watts, "21 Grams"
-- Evan Rachel Wood, "Thirteen"

-- Alec Baldwin "The Cooler"
-- Chris Cooper, "Seabiscuit"
-- Benicio Del Toro, "21 Grams"
-- Tim Robbins, "Mystic River"
-- Ken Watanabe, "The Last Samurai"

-- Maria Bello, "The Cooler"
-- Keisha Castle-Hughes, "Whale Rider"
-- Patricia Clarkson, "Pieces of April"
-- Holly Hunter, "Thirteen"
-- Renee Zellweger, "Cold Mountain"

-- "In America"
-- "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
-- "Mystic River"
-- "Seabiscuit"
-- "The Station Agent"


-- Justin Kirk, "Angels in America"
-- Paul Newman, "Our Town"
-- Al Pacino, "Angels in America"
-- Forest Whitaker, "Deacons for Defense"
-- Jeffrey Wright, "Angels in America"

-- Anne Bancroft, "Tennessee Williams' The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone"
-- Helen Mirren, "Tennessee Williams' The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone"
-- Mary-Louise Parker, "Angels in America"
-- Meryl Streep, "Angels in America"
-- Emma Thompson, "Angels in America"

-- Peter Krause, "Six Feet Under"
-- Anthony LaPaglia, "Without a Trace"
-- Martin Sheen, "The West Wing"
-- Kiefer Sutherland, "24"
-- Treat Williams, "Everwood"

-- Stockard Channing, "The West Wing"
-- Frances Conroy, "Six Feet Under"
-- Tyne Daly, "Judging Amy"
-- Jennifer Garner, "Alias"
-- Mariska Hargitay, "Law and Order"
-- Allison Janney, "The West Wing"

-- Peter Boyle, "Everybody Loves Raymond"
-- Brad Garrett, "Everybody Loves Raymond"
-- Sean Hayes, "Will & Grace"
-- Ray Romano, "Everybody Loves Raymond"
-- Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"

-- Patricia Heaton, "Every Loves Raymond"
-- Lisa Kudrow, "Friends"
-- Debra Messing, "Will & Grace"
-- Megan Mullally, "Will & Grace"
-- Doris Roberts, "Everybody Loves Raymond"

-- "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"
-- "Law & Order"
-- "Six Feet Under"
-- "The West Wing"
-- "Without a Trace"

-- "Everybody Loves Raymond"
-- "Frasier"
-- "Friends"
-- "Sex and the City"
-- "Will & Grace"


Review by Mark Snyder

The problem of children being tossed aside by uncaring and abusive parents has reached epidemic proportions in some parts of our country. No politicians have taken up their mantel. Many end up
addicted to drugs and turning "tricks" just to stay alive.

Brent Bambic has put together a brilliant film that powerfully illustrates the problems of runaways, through an interesting portrayal of kids who have fallen into the trap of abuse.

Austin O'Brien ("Promised Land") plays Steve, a young man who is living a nightmare with his mom's abusive and violent boyfriend John (menacing played by Rik Asemo) and his victim mom,
who cares more about herself than her young children. Susan Johnston plays mom Cheryl Moore perfectly. You hate her. You hate her for allowing the abuse of her children. You hate her for allowing
herself to be abused, and most of all, you hate her for placing herself before her children.

Young Steve meets up with druggie burnout Andy (Esteban Powell); beautiful, but rejected young socialite Sally Donaldson (played by future star Arielle Paul); and nice guy Mike (Demetrius
Navarro). The movie illustrates how close we all are to being homeless. It also shows how a small break and a lot of hard work can truly form miracles.

It is loosely based on the life of Steve Moore, from his own story. Jack Forcinito is warm and wonderful as counselor Tony Perez, and the direction, production and photography are gritty and

This movie is a winner and should be shown at every high school in America. Give it FOUR STARS. Go to for shows in your area.

(c) 2003 by

Terminator3: Rise of the Machines
Review by Joe Viglione

When Arnold Schwarzenegger lost half of his arm fighting Robert Patrick towards the end of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" one might have thought that Skynet and Cyberdine would come back to life via that route. Out the window went such an opportunity along with series creator James Cameron, original actress Linda Hamilton and even the second John Connor, Edward Furlong (his older self never given more than a few seconds onscreen anyway). What has resulted is a film with great texture that can stand on its own or as a component of this saga which takes decades to unfold. 1984 seems so George Orwell and without actors from the original flick, Michael Biehn, Rick Rossovich and Bill Paxton (who were about as unknown as this cast way back when), it's an entirely new change of scenery - well, except for Schwarzenegger, of course. Not only was actor Nick Stahl only about five years of age when the first Terminator film crushed the little toy in the street before shooting one of his Sarah Connor victims, so was Claire Danes. Arnold doesn't look like he has aged at all, and what is totally surprising about Terminator 3 is that the plot, the mechanics, the cinematography, the pacing, the clever script, prove that the franchise has also aged very well. While the series it spawned, The Matrix--a film program which owes more to The Terminator than anything else-- gets heady and complex, Terminator 3 just crashes through the screen doing what Charlies Angels: Full Throttle tried so hard to do, and failed so miserably at. It delivers the knockout punch. Even more impressive is that Ang Lee's The Hulk had so much potential and despite Eric Bana's opportunity, parallel to Nick Stahl here, The Hulk is diminished by Terminator's staying power. That shouldn't be the case. The Hulk is an American icon, a marvelous Marvel comic which had Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Lou Ferrigno going for it. But just as the Batman series failed to put Adam West, Caesar Romero and Frank Gorshin into pivotal roles in more serious updated versions, Hulk didn't recognize its legacy, either. The revisionist history leap Ang Lee took is a huge step backward while Jonathan Mostow is in a position predecessor James Cameron found himself in when given 18 million in 1986 to create Aliens. Shaking things up and making the most of opportunities is the key to the success of both Aliens and Terminator 3. There is some heavy handed humor, Schwarzenegger too often quoting past Terminator trademarks, but subtle comedy as well, the feline being taken to the vet is "a cat named Hercules", a line out of an Elton John song from his Honky Chateau album. The remote control mayhem of T-X Kristanna Loken is very cool - police cars, not with minds of their own, but the mind of the new Terminator directing them to cause extreme mayhem that Matt LeBlanc could only promise, not deliver, in Charlies Angel's FULL THROTTLE. The emasculation of LeBlanc - such a virile sci-fi star in Lost in Space - is a statement on Drew Barrymore's lack of vision. It shouldn't be so hard to give the people what they want and Schwarzenegger and company do it with relish. The robots out of control are on a mission, and they succeed. Where Matrix Reloaded boasts a car chase scene that may never be duplicated, the barbaric truck ride T-X takes T-800 on while chasing Stahl and Danes is far more effective. Reloaded gets the award for deep, thought provoking science fiction while Terminator 3 wins hands down for action, unexpected twists, and a brilliant surprise ending leaving the door open for lots more electronic thrashing. It's an intense demolition derby with terrific carnage - it is a Marvel Comic come to life, and despite the same old plot line from 1984 and 1991, the magic is in the new perspective - Terminator 3 truly takes us further down the rabbit hole of this Catch 22 of Artificial Intelligence initiating full scale war. Note the differences between Terminator and Matrix. Terminators are real robots, Lost In Space metallic entities with evil on their mind, while Matrix a.i. are computer programs. The mechanics behind the robots is key and that both film franchises are on the playing field at the same moment in time is truly an amazing conversation piece for future film historians. This is revolutionary science fiction - the Ozzie & Harriet sleepover Kate and her fiance have, in bed and fully clothed - the 4:30 a.m. phone call allowing us to peer into their private life, is in stark contrast to Kristanna Loken's point blank effortless murders. The original Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator was a hulky bulky machine, the Wizard of Oz tin man with an axe to grind, while Kristanna Loken takes even Robert Patrick's icy knifings to a more brutal extension - she points the gun and fires - bang, bang, bang. Terminator 3 doesn't celebrate violence as much as use it to show how unfeeling mankind is. The nuclear weapons were made for protection but create an imbalance. Only the Terminators make sense, equal power against equal power when Arnold turns the future weapon on another futuristic weapon at Robert Brewster's command central. The moral of the story is found in Matrix Reloaded when The Oracle and a human both surmise that working together is the only possibility. Mankind can't get along and the violent solutions mankind creates fulfill David Andrews prediction that he has opened pandora's box. Terminator 3 is as successful as Aliens in terms of taking a logical step forward. It is more successful than Aliens because there is a deeper meaning coated with enormous dazzle and anticipation. There was a buzz on the street and in the press the moment this film hit the big screen - it is one of the few movies to be far more exciting than its trailer. Would love to see this one on an Imax screen - it makes The Hulk come off like Finding Nemo - Bruce Banner can say "you don't want to see me when I'm angry" - Schwarzenegger is much more menacing when he notes "anger is more useful than despair", the paternal robot finding emotions in John Connor which piss him off and give him a reason to live. Fascinating stuff on many levels. There's a weird father/son thing between the Hulk and Nick Nolte, reiterated by his girlfriend Betty Ross and her dad, the Captain Ahab of the Hulk. Claire Danes and David Andrews have the other side of that - he's too busy to see his daughter, she falls apart at the thought of losing him. But the T-800 is still there for John Connor. Which means Mr. Anderson/Neo in Matrix is truly an orphan, the anomaly hatched by machines, and called in Matrix 1 by his teacher "a machine." Which means, Hollywood has gone beyond stealing ideas from each other, these films have serious overlap that may be the start of some future movie fusion. Spiderman meets Superman? It's already been done in the comics, and to pull it off, Terminator 3 is going to have to be the prototype. (c) 2003 by Joe Viglione

A Film Review by Joe Viglione

X-2 is one of, if not the, best comic book put to
film. Perhaps that's why a Joyce Kulhawik might not
understand the relevance. For years and years and
years serious fans of Marvel and DC comics have had to
put up with alterations to successful stories and
captivating artwork, Hollywood often forgetting the
importance of the ideal: if it ain't broke, don't fix
it. Adam West and Burt Ward made a great Batman and
Robin, and Caesar Romero WAS The Joker. Take that
Jack Nicholson! Where the TV show went wrong was that
it turned one of the darker characters of comic books
something Alfred Hitchcock could relate to - and made
it a comedy. It was desecration on the level of
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. Boris Karloff's
brilliant performances in Frankenstein and The Bride
Of Frankenstein spoofed by a Hollywood that thought
nothing of turning Lon Chaney Jr. or Bela Lugosi into
Frankenstein's monster. Let's have Madonna sing some
Dixie Chick Tunes.

X-2 rises above all our fears about sacred territory
not allowed to translate to the big screen. Patrick
Stewart IS Professor X. It was always the hope of the
true fan that the dude who was too stiff to play a
Starship Captain would be allowed to play the role he
was born to bring to life. Ian McKellen is a superb
Magneto (you say Magneeto, I say Magnet-Oh) - the one
flaw in the film - and to this writer it is a big one
- is the plastic Magneto hat. Please! It should be
metal, sturdy, like a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica
in its flow and glow. But the acting is grade A.
Academy Awards won't be handed out, though they should
be. Stewart and McKellen have that symbiotic
love/hate thing going on, and are wonderful.
But having the likes of Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman
settling INTO the role as opposed to Jack Nicholson in
the aforementioned other Batman overtaking the role,
now that takes guts and humility. These are actors
who know how to act, for they jump into their roles
with relish and become the part, rather than
force-feeding the audience a George Clooney, a Jim
Morrison wannabe and the always dreadful Michael
Keaton, all three in their attempts to play Batman as
awkward as Lugosi in the role of Frankenstein's
monster. Adam West would have been the guy to put
some demonic sparkle into Tim Burton's original
Batman, and Caesar
Romero did (like Frank Gorshin, Eartha Kitt, Julie
Newmar, Burgess Meredith and the gang) what Berry,
Jackman, Stewart, McKellen, Marsden and crew do here -
they bring a comic book to life.

Spiderman may have been the biggest film of last year
in terms of sales, but the costumes, the acting, the
condensed plot, it was not satisfying to someone who
grew up on the hero. Tobey Maguire is a great Peter
Parker, but by not taking the hint from George Lucas
and having someone else be Spiderman, the film lost
much. Darth Vader was David Prowse (he himself a
Frankenstein in a Hammer film) as much as he was the
voice of James Earl Jones. Christopher Reeves as
Superman came close, it held the crown until this X-2
burst on the scene. A 12:30 AM showing with a 3/4 or
more house is pretty telling, fans were in the lobby
of the Woburn Showcase cinema chatting after the film
ended, so this franchise is doing what Star Wars did.

Professor X is a better version of Captain Picard, and
these X Men are like his second generation Star Trek
the Next Generation. Is Wolverine not Whorf? Jean
Grey just Dianna Troy? James Marsden a much better
(and cuter) #1. Which brings us to the Queer As Folk
aspect of the film. The blatant homosexual aspect of
the movie does not take away from its power, it adds
to it. Mutants in the closet, nature or nurture, all
the sound bites hit so very close to home, and the
chemstry between Marsden and Jackman as they both seek
the affections of Famke Janssen - Jean Grey doesn't
need to be a mind reader to see the jealousy between
the two blokes is sexual tension between the two male
stars...ok, ok, I'm getting carried away here, but
that's the beauty of this film, it has stunning
visuals and allows the imagination to take flight.

Also a plus are the beautiful sets straight out of
STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT, arguably the best of the
latter generation Trek films. The kind of stuff you
expect to see in Star Wars, all derived from
Metropolis, of course, a good science fiction film
needs to have those generators, that underground
dungeon/science-gone-wrong lab, all the bells and
whistles. X-2 has all those bells and whistles and
more. Great acting, good script like a comic book
episode, it stays focused, and it is easy on the eyes.
X-MEN are characters much like Spiderman and The
Fantastic Four, really special heroes which deserve
really special treatment. Comic book fans finally get
their due here, and if "critics" and the masses don't
get it, that's ok, because the fans deserve this one.
For the fans, it is simply great.

(c) 2003 by Joe Viglione

Review by Joe Viglione

Daredevil is a special creature from "the House of Ideas", Marvel Comics, though there is no denying he is based on Batman. Minus the wealth and young buddy, this vigilante one ups Bruce Wayne because rather than wealth to buy James Bond-ish cars and build a BatCave, Attorney Matt Murdock has heightened senses rather than "just" the intuition that the Bat relies on.

When Superman delivered Christopher Reeves, and the Batman TV series brought us Adam West, it spoke volumes about NOT bringing in a name actor to overshadow the colorful characters from the pulpy pages adored by millions. Not only did Michael Keaton destroy the strong image that actor West forced through the comedic routines, Jack Nicholson upstaged The Joker. That West and Cesar Romero didn't get to play their mindgames inside the otherwise fine Tim Burton BATMAN is a cinematic tragedy.

Which brings us to Ben Affleck. You know, it's not as frightening a prospect as the thought of a latter-day Nicholas Cage playing SUPERMAN, and Affleck does create a wonderful Matt Murdock. Not only that, David Keith was born to play the short-lived Jack Murdock, the similarities are very interesting. The problem with Daredevil is that when it stays within the world created by Stan Lee (who, when doing his Alfred Hitchcock walk on, is just stunning for Marvel Comics fans), it is fantastic. When it becomes The Matrix meets Tim Burton's Batman by way of the Sopranos, it gets watered down by typical Hollywood colour-by-the-numbers dreck. Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich is very good, but he gives out a yelp much like when Keanu Reeves came up behind him in Matrix, and isn't Keanu the cinematic cousin of Ben Affleck - two actors with better looks than acting talent? Affleck's stiffness works to Murdock's benefit - who better to play a blind man than an actor still groping and wandering in the dark? Affleck could turn out to be the next Rock Hudson, an actor who - legend has it -made one of the worst screen tests in film history, a screen test allegedly shown to aspiring actors so that they would get a sense of how great an unskilled individual could become. The mob story gets more than just a clone of actor Robert Iler from The Sopranos as one of the bullies beating up on Scott Terra, the youthful Matt Murdock. Michael Clarke Duncan hardly resembles the lost soul from The Green Mile - as the powerful African American version of Kingpin (and what a unique take on one of Marvel's most compelling villains!) his abilities add immensely to the mood.

The clip shown on the Jay Leno show of Kingpin meeting with Matt Murdock is simply brilliant, Duncan's comment that "no one is innocent" details the master criminal's philosophy succinctly and with a charm not in the comic books. What is becoming a bore today in film, though, is this incessant "Martial Arts" kick. From James Bond to all the Matrix clones you can imagine, enough is enough. There is a wealth of activity in the comics and why oh why won't Hollywood go to that well and keep bringing fresh water to motion pictures?

Which takes this full circle back to Timothy Burton's BATMAN. The parallel between the creation of these anti-heroes down to the red roses is too close to cloning. Colin Farrell hits a bullseye with Bullseye, his good looks removed for acting skill that upstages Ben Affleck. Farrell and Michael Clarke Duncan have true chemistry plotting their villainy, while the true sparks could've been generated if Bullseye had a "normal" alter ego and got buddy- buddy with Matt Murdock. If Hollywood is going to stray from the original concept at least they could do it with a bit of cleverness -see Ben Affleck's quote in a February issue of Entertainment Weekly where he wants people to start a rumor he's having an affair with Farrell.

Daredevil has much to be proud of; Affleck is finding his way as an actor and looks great as the attorney -the sets are dark and beautiful, but there's a sense of restraint from director/screenwriter Mark Steven Johnson. A feeling of "let's not stray from what we think the public wants." This attitude certainly did much for Spiderman, to the chagrin of true Spiderman fans, and Daredevil does not get abused in the same way. But it still isn't what those of us who grew up on the character expect, know or love. Maybe it will take Dr. Stephen Strange to break the mold and be a comic book hero that Hollywood doesn't desecrate, a character that can be himself. Then a movie masterpiece can be expected. For now Daredevil is good escapism, a PG13 world full of action and violence with images of The Exorcist overflowing, so much Hunch Back Of Notre Dame Catholic Church stuff permeating the decor. And what a time to have so much Catholicism on celluloid - what on Earth is that all about? The Stigmata finale is also rather suspect, but all in all, Daredevil is a lot better than the fears many fans had regarding what the big screen would do to a beloved cult creature. When all is said and done it's enjoyable and worth watching a few more times when it hits cable.

(C) 2003 by Joe Viglione


Dear Mark & Fans:
Oscar Nominations are in and Auto Focus loses once again! is proud to announce that
Auto Focus did not receive one single nomination from the following organizations:
The Academy Awards (The Oscars)
The Golden Globes (Hollywood Foreign Press)
The National Board of Review
The American Film Institute (AFI)
The Independent Spirit Awards
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association
The New York Film Critics Association
The Boston Film Critics Association
The Broadcast Film Critics Association
The Directors Guild of America
The Writers Guild of America
The Screen Actors Guild of America
The Shaken, Not Stirred Dingleberry Awards In addition to this, Auto Focus also failed to garner
a single award at either the Toronto, London, or New York film festivals. We also take great pride and
pleasure in announcing that after 8 weeks in American theaters, Auto Focus grossed only $1,874,791 * . For
comparison, the bio-pic
Frida took in $18,478,584 * in it's first 8 weeks of release.
* figures according to Box Office Mojo Movie Report.

While the Auto Focus CD Soundtrack, with 13 weeks in release,
has sold a total of 296 copies * . To earn a Gold Record, the
Auto Focus Soundtrack would have to sell and additional
499,704 copies. * figures according to Soundscan and Billboard. Auto Focus . . . A flop, anyway you look at it. Our congratulations go out to Mr.
Paul Schrader on yet another
directorial failure. You deserve it!

Sincerely, Scotty Crane (son of Hogan's Heroes Bob Crane)




For Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role:
Adrien Brody / THE PIANIST - Wladyslaw Szpilman Focus Features
Nicolas Cage / ADAPTATION - Charlie Kaufman/Donald Kaufman Columbia
Daniel Day-Lewis / GANGS OF NEW YORK - Bill "The Butcher" Cutting Miramax
Richard Gere / CHICAGO - Billy Flynn Miramax Films
Jack Nicholson / ABOUT SCHMIDT - Warren Schmidt New Line Cinema

For Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role:

Salma Hayek / FRIDA - Frida Kahlo Miramax Films
Nicole Kidman / THE HOURS - Virginia Woolf Paramount Pictures/Miramax
Diane Lane / UNFAITHFUL - Connie Sumner 20th Century Fox
Julianne Moore / FAR FROM HEAVEN - Cathy Whitaker Focus Features
Renée Zellweger / CHICAGO - Roxie Hart Miramax Films

For Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting

Chris Cooper / ADAPTATION - Guy LaRoche Columbia Pictures
Ed Harris / THE HOURS - Richard Brown Paramount Pictures
Alfred Molina / FRIDA - Diego Rivera Miramax Films
Dennis Quaid / FAR FROM HEAVEN - Frank Whitaker Miramax Films
Christopher Walken / CATCH ME IF YOU CAN - Frank Abagnale Dreamworks SKG

For Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role:

Kathy Bates / ABOUT SCHMIDT - Roberta Hertzel New Line Cinema
Julianne Moore / THE HOURS - Laura Brown Paramount Pictures
Michelle Pfeiffer / WHITE OLEANDER - Ingrid Magnussen Warner Bros.
Queen Latifah / CHICAGO - Matron Mama Morton Miramax Fillms
Catherine Zeta-Jones / CHICAGO - Velma Kelly Miramax Fillms

For Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture:

ADAPTATION Columbia Pictures
Nicolas Cage _________Charlie Kaufman / Donald Kaufman
Chris Cooper____________ John LaRoche
Brian Cox __________Robert McKee

Cara Seymour ____________Amelia
Meryl Streep __________Susan Orlean
Tilda Swinton _________Valerie

CHICAGO Miramax Films
Christine Baranski ____________Mary Sunshine
Taye Diggs ____________Bandleader
Colm Feore _________Harrison
Richard Gere ________Billy Flynn
Mya Harrison _______Mona
Lucy Liu _________Kitty Baxter
Queen Latifah __________Matron Mama Morton
John C. Reilly___________ Amos Hart
Dominic West _________Fred Casely
Renée Zellweger ________Roxie Hart
Catherine Zeta-Jones _______Velma Kelly

THE HOURS Paramount Pictures / Miramax Films
Toni Collette __________Kitty
Claire Danes _____Julia Vaughan
Jeff Daniels ________Louis Waters
Stephen Dillane _________Leonard Woolf
Ed Harris _________Richard Brown
Allison Janney __________Sally Lester
Nicole Kidman _________Virginia Woolf
Julianne Moore__________ Laura Brown
John C. Reilly_________ Dan Brown
Miranda Richardson________ Vanessa Bell
Meryl Streep ____________Clarissa Vaughan

THE TWO TOWERS New Line Cinema
Sean Astin _________Sam
Cate Blanchett ___________Galadriel
Orlando Bloom _________Legolas
Billy Boyd _________Pippin
Brad Dourif ___________Wormtongue
Bernard Hill __________Theoden
Christopher Lee __________Saruman
Ian McKellen __________Gandalf
Dominic Monaghan ___________Merry
Viggo Mortensen _________Aragorn
Miranda Otto ________Eowyn
John Rhys-Davies ______Gimli
Andy Serkis __________Gollum
Liv Tyler ________Arwen
Hugo Weaving ___________Elrond
David Wenham _______Faramir
Elijah Wood _______Frodo Baggins

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING Playtone / IFC / Gold Circle Films / HBO
Gia Carides _____Nikki
Michael Constantine __________Gus Portokalos
John Corbett __________Ian Miller
Joey Fatone __________Angelo
Lainie Kazan____________ Maria Portokalos
Andrea Martin _________Aunt Voula
Nia Vardalos __________Toula Portokalos


For Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or
Albert Finney / THE GATHERING STORM - Winston Churchill HBO
Brad Garrett / GLEASON - Jackie Gleason CBS
n Hayes / MARTIN & LEWIS - Jerry Lewis CBS
William H. Macy / DOOR TO DOOR - Bill Porter TNT
John Turturro / MONDAY NIGHT MAYHEM - Howard Cosell TNT

For Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or
Kathy Bates / MY SISTER'S KEEPER - Christine CBS
Stockard Channing / THE MATTHEW SHEPARD STORY - Judy Shepard NBC
Helen Mirren / DOOR TO DOOR - Irene Porter TNT
Vanessa Redgrave / THE GATHERING STORM - Clemmie Churchill HBO

For Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series:
Michael Chiklis / THE SHIELD - Det. Vic Mackey FX
James Gandolfini / THE SOPRANOS - Tony Soprano HBO
Martin Sheen / THE WEST WING - President Josiah Bartlet NBC
Kiefer Sutherland / 24 - Jack Bauer FOX
Treat Williams / EVERWOOD - Dr. Andrew Brown The WB

For Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series:
ine Bracco / THE SOPRANOS - Dr. Jennifer Melfi HBO
Amy Brenneman / JUDGING AMY - Judge Amy Gray CBS
Edie Falco / THE SOPRANOS - Carmela Soprano HBO
Allison Janney / THE WEST WING - C.J. Cregg NBC
Lily Tomlin / THE WEST WING - Deborah Fiderer NBC

For Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series:
Sean Hayes / WILL & GRACE - Jack McFarland NBC
Matt Le Blanc / FRIENDS - Joey Tribbiani NBC
Bernie Mac / THE BERNIE MAC SHOW - Bernie Mac FOX
Tony Shalhoub / MONK - Adrian Monk USA

For Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series:
Jennifer Aniston / FRIENDS - Rachel Green NBC
Kim Cattrall / SEX AND THE CITY - Samantha Jones HBO
Patricia Heaton / EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND - Debra Barone CBS
Jane Kaczmarek / MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE - Lois FOX
Megan Mullally / WILL & GRACE - Karen Walker NBC

For Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series:

24 FOX
Reiko Aylesworth ______Michelle Dessler
Xander Berkeley_________ George Mason
Carlos Bernard _________Tony Almeida
Sarah Clarke ________Nina Myers
Elisha Cuthbert ___________Kim Bauer
Dennis Haysbert ________David Palmer
Leslie Hope __________Teri Bauer
Penny Johnson Jerald ________Sherry Palmer
Kiefer Sutherland _________Jack Bauer
Sarah Wynter________ Kate Warner

Gary Dourdan __________Warrick Brown
George Eads __________Nick Stokes
Jorja Fox_________ Sara Sidle
Paul Guilfoyle__________ Jim Brass
Robert David __________Hall Dr. Robbins
Marg Helgenberger ___________Catherine Willows
William Petersen _________Gil Grissom
Eric Szmanda___________ Greg Sanders

Lauren Ambrose _____________Claire Fisher
Frances Conroy ___________Ruth Fisher
Rachel Griffiths___________ Brenda Chenowith
Michael C. Hall__________ David Fisher
Peter Krause _________Nate Fisher
Freddy Rodriguez ________Federico Diaz
Mathew ST. Patrick __________Keith Charles

Lorraine Bracco _________Dr. Jennifer Melfi
Federico Castelluccio_________ Furio Giunta
Dominic Chianese_________ Corrado "Junior" Soprano
Vincent Curatola _________Johnny "Sack" Sacrimoni
Drea De Matteo _________Adriana La Cerva
Edie Falco _____________Carmela Soprano
James Gandolfini________ Tony Soprano
Robert Iler __________Anthony Soprano, Jr.
Michael Imperioli _________Christopher Moltisanti
Joe Pantoliano ________Ralph Cifaretto
Steven R. Schirripa________ Bobby "Bacala" Baccilieri
Jamie-Lynn Sigler __________Meadow Soprano
Tony Sirico ________Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri
Aida Turturro __________Janice Soprano
Steven Van Zandt ______Silvio Dante
John Ventimiglia ___________Artie Bucco

Stockard Channing_________ Dr. Abigail Bartlet
Dulé Hill _________CharlieYoung
Allison Janney_________ C.J. Cregg
Rob Lowe ________Sam Seaborn
Joshua Malina _______Will Bailey
Janel Moloney________ Donna Moss
Mary-Louise Parker_________ Amy Gardner
Richard Schiff ______Toby Ziegler
Martin Sheen _________President Josiah Bartlet
John Spencer _______Leo McGarry
Lily Tomlin _________Debbie Federer
Bradley Whitford ________Josh Lyman

For Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series:

Peter Boyle ____________Frank Barone
Brad Garrett _________Robert Barone
Patricia Heaton _________Debra Barone
Doris Roberts _________Marie Barone
Ray Romano __________Raymond Barone
Madylin Sweetin _________Ally Barone

Peri Gilpin ___________Roz Doyle
Kelsey Grammer_________ Dr. Frasier Crane
Jane Leeves _________Daphne Moon
John Mahoney _______Martin Crane
David Hyde Pierce_________ Dr. Niles Crane

Jennifer Aniston _________Rachel Green
Courteney Cox Arquette _______Monica Geller Bing
Lisa Kudrow __________Phoebe Buffay
Matt Le Blanc _________Joey Tribbiani
Matthew Perry ________Chandler Bing
David Schwimmer __________Ross Geller

Kim Cattrall____________ Samantha Jones
Kristin Davis __________Charlotte York
Cynthia Nixon _________Miranda Hobbes
Sarah Jessica Parker ________Carrie Bradshaw

Sean Hayes_____________ Jack McFarland
Eric McCormack _________Will Truman
Debra Messing _________Grace Adler
Megan Mullally __________Karen Walker

Screen Actors Guild 39th Annual Life Achievement Award:
Clint Eastwood

24 2


*"The Hours" is a co-production of Paramount and Miramax and therefore
nominations are shared.

NBC 12
HBO 10
FX 1

Movie Review by Joe Viglione

For fans of the original Jeffrey Hunter/William Shatner spawned Star Trek, there is something unsettling about The Next Generation, and fifteen years after brining a bit of Star Trek back to television, there is something forced about the acting of Patrick Stewart, Marinia Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes, the three major stars. Even the stiff Kate Mulgrew with her even stiffer upper lip comes across more human and is a welcome sight (though she was so out of place on Voyager) which means that if the plot and the effects are decent, we Trekkies (we original Star Trek fans will ALWAYS be Trekkies, NOT Trekkers) will put up with it.

Let's start with what is good about this film. It is a wonderful parody of 1950's black & white science fiction movies, and that is its strength. Beauty & The Beast's Ron Perlman as Viceroy is lost in the makeup, though - you only know it is Linda Hamilton's buddy when you see the credits. ANYONE could have played Viceroy, so why waste a valuable name inside a Halloween costume? The sets are marvelous, but we expect that, and the contrast of the bad make-up vs. the stunning visuals is the real dilemma. Gene Rodenberry can't be happy about his visionary series of Gospel-like lessons on life copping the riffs of boring incidentals like Babylon 5. Star Trek was supposed to go where no man has gone before, but Deep Space Nine was less than Martin Landau meeting Leonard Nimoy on a Science Fiction version of TJ Hooker, and the name of Scott Bakula's new show escapes me, let alone the time it is on (is it still on?) Tom Hardy's villain, Shinzon, is more Clockwork Orange Roddy McDowell in the Nexus than Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones, while a clone of Picard as well as a pre-sprout model of Data - Brent Spiner's dual role with the B-4 character, could have been written and put together so much better. Then again, we have the editor of Superman and Superman II dir ecting this, so Hollywood once again graduates its own rather than finding people with fresh ideas to put some life into the series. When a studio implies that "Nemesis" will be the last feature film with The Next Generation, one has to wonder how much faith they had in this particular "enterprise" to begin with?

Star Trek Fans can come up with glorious ideas which would make Rodenberry proud, but the people currently in charge are more content to ride the name into the ground and let the cash cow keep the milk flowing. They are killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Sure this is ten times the film John Travolta's travesty that was L.Ron Hubbard's attempt at Sci-Fi was, but being better than bad is not what Star Trek is supposed to be about. Star Trek is (or was) the exception as well as the rule. No longer.

Dina Meyer is excellent as Romulan Commander Donatra (too limited in her usefulness) while Majel Barrett is hard to find, and was that little Will sitting next to Gates McFadden at the boring, tired ceremony for Riker and Troi? LeVar Burton is better with his ray-gun glasses on a la The X Men, and the disintegration of the Romulan council reminds us of the old Batman movie with Adam West where Cat Woman, Joker, Riddler and Penguin would change the human form into dust! Whoopi Goldberg adds so much to any film, why limit her here? She and Dina Meyer could have had some real fun as their moments on the screen are magnetic.

The bottom line is, we love Star Trek so much we allow for the insipid interaction between The Next Generation family. Shatner/Nimoy/Kelley were tough to take when they were sappy, but forcing their sequels to be as cutesy is thoroughly insulting to the long-time fans. Yes, it is good two hour Science Fiction entertainment, better than Bakula's "Enterprise" (OK, I had to look up the title on the All Movie Guide), and Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine, but it is hardly THE X MEN, and Patrick Stewart is the PERFECT Professor X. The perfect Professor X is neither Captain Kirk or Christopher Pike, and even Scott Bakula would have been more fun had they integrated Quantum Leap into the Star Trek series. We fans are not asking for imagination, for it is clear Hollywood has none; we are asking for a mind-meld of what we love from the past, the best elements of Star Trek, Quantum Leap, Star Wars, and The Thing From Another World. Unfortunately, all we have is two hours of entertainment and nothing for the ages. It sure beats John Travolta looking like an escapee from Planet Of The Apes (oh, the dune buggy scene is somewhat like the new 007 "Die Another Day" battle of the bulge beginning, and the film textures with Picard, Whorf and Data driving over the desert sands is actually quite fun) but Gene Rodenberry must be about as pleased with this as Jesus is with Boston's Cardinal Law, which is to say Rodenberry must be CRINGING. Didn't Melanie sing "Look what they've done to my song , ma?" Old Gene Rodenberry is wondering, "Look what they've done to my franchise, Majel."

Fun Science Fiction but not Star Trek at its best. Then again, the first Star Trek film with Shatner & Company lacked something too, didn't it? It's time to return to Talos IV. My idea was to script the best actors from Next Generation and the original series (those still living) for a big screen epic RETURN TO TALOS IV,but alas, Rick Berman and company wouldn't know what the hell to do with it. Guess I'll get to work on it for the purists. Going back to the roots is what this series needs, and some new blood. Many of the individuals involved with Star Trek need to be shown the door before it can continue. The good news is, unlike The Catholic Church, Star Trek still has a chance.

Movie Review by Joe Viglione

When I was a young boy in St. Agnes School, the nuns would post the "Condemned" movies on the bulletin board. They would cut out the page from THE PILOT where the powers that be informed us how we would go to hell if we viewed the despicable films listed. To my impressionable mind, people were condemned - how could a motion picture be treated as if it were Charles Manson or Timothy McVie?

When David - as Biblical a name as you can get - touches the Virgin Mary and the idol comes crashing down - Spielberg's message that even praying to an image for 2000 years is not going to make your wish come true. But it does come true, and as the film quotes Shakespeare - there lies the rub.

The statue of the Virgin Mary is actually the Blue Fairy from Pinnochio in some submerged New York long after Planet Of The Apes has happened - and let us check off the films that have influenced this epic:

The X Men - Mutants Vs Humanity

As the Mechas go for the bait - the spare parts from the Flesh Fairs, they face off against the enemy - humankind - right out of Marvel Comics and the recently released picture.

Star Trek The Next Generation

Jean Luc Picard gets both his identities in this flick. Data wants to become human throughout the series, and David reiterates the sentiment

Classic Star Trek

The Aliens are Close Encounters meets ET meets The Talosians from the Star Trek Pilot "thousands of us are probing his mind, Magistrate..." indeed

Poor David. When he sees the trademark on his name, and the little boy in the box shaking like a Mexican jumping bean, the (R) trademark symbol next to his name, he realizes he is not the prostitute that Spielberg declares he is throughout the film --- even going to great lengths to have Jude Law make it clear the parents who buy this boy toy for love are as shallow as the clients who purchase a mechanical hustler --- no, he is even lower than a prostitute - he is a product sold on a grocery shelf!

At least a prostitute can go home and deal with the reality of it all, this is really love in a jar.

That the Creator, William Hurt (and maybe Spielberg wanted the name Hurt to be even more blunt) chooses
the family of Monica and Henry Swinton ---knowing --- counting on the fact that they will reject the boy - is the first abuse of this new life form; the actual rejection is the second. Martin could have had the perfect little brother, but his jealousy evokes Cain and Abel

"Now Abel became a shepherd and kept flocks, while Cain tilled the soil. Time passed and Cain brought some of the produce of the soil as an offering for Yahweh, while Abel for his part brought the first-born of his flock and some of their fat as well. Yahweh looked with favour on Abel and his offering. But he did not look with favour on Cain and his offering and Cain was very angry and downcast." And you know the rest of the story.

There was no need for Martin, dressed in his best Darth Vader attire, the half-man / half-machine, kept alive by Cryogenics, fitted with computer legs, trying to convince David he is organic, thus he is real. But that doesn't stop David from holding on to his brother for dear life with the neighborhood kids put a knife to the robo-boy...KEEP ME SAFE is the theme, and when the
human family lets him down, he turns to The Blue Fairy. This is also the product of malice - Martin, with evil in his heart - demands his mother read Pinnochio, and it is the concept of the Blue Fairy which inspires David to do the impossible. William Hurt also uses this to his advantage to trap David again.

Hurt loves his creation - it is an extension of himself, but like Dr. Frankenstein he failed to impart any OF himself to the creature - thus he can be cold and detached - - his office full of pictures of the creation with himself are not part of David's memory banks, even if David experienced this interaction with his maker prior to Monica imprinting her essence on his programming with the words that serve as the combination to unlock the love of this new life form.

Oh there's Arnold's SIXTH DAY in this with the helicopter scenes, as well as SIXTH SENSE. Haley Joel Osment is no McCauley Kulkin one hit wonder, his acting is brilliant and totally believable, he is both human and machine, and for
him to be able to be so believable in two major films shows a depth Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney could only envy - this is real Judy Garland stuff, just keep the kid off the drugs... There's Terminator here, but no Matrix, there is lots of Wizard of Oz, lots of it, but no Dracula, when Monica gets her first glimpse of David it is a combination of Boris Karloff's The Mummy (Beware the beat of the padded feet), The Thing From Another World, or even ET - a little ET obscured by clouds "Henry what have you done"...Uncle Henry, Anty Emm,

..and like Tommy Lee Jones in Double Jeapordy (talk about Double Jeapordy, Osment goes into the drink twice, not once!),Jude Law comes in mid-film - this becomes The Talented Mr. Ripley meets Sixth Sense - and the two actors deny typecasting with these marvelous performances.

But it is the Gladiator scenes in the Coliseum where Gigolo Joe and young David have to fight The Wicked Witch. In total film paradox, Spielberg has a Christian type evangelist feeding the Mechas (almost an hybrid of Messiah and Christ, Mechis...)to the lions. The Mechas resemble the Christians here, but in what is even more of a blatant attack on Catholicism, Spielberg,
in essence, is saying that the Catholic Church preys on its own.

And he's right. It's just that - it is supposed to be politically incorrect to make that kind of a statement unlessyou yourself are an ex-Catholic - and know first-hand the hypocrisy of a religion which refuses to adhere to the policies and ideas that Jesus set forth. But Spielberg is Spielberg, he can do this and get away with it, and the Catholic Church probably wil not condemn this because it is a "Family Film", so a movie like PRIEST gets roasted while A.I. will be able to infiltrate impressionable minds.
Don't you love it?

Exodus 2:3 "When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him; coating it with bitumen and pitch, she put the child inside and laid it among the reeds at the river's edge. His sister stood some distance away to see what would
happen to him."

Well, the Darlene (R) doll never got to follow David as Monica rejected him and deposited him in the forest where the Tin Woodsman (Gigolo Joe) and Toto (Teddy Bear) would not find the Emerald City but the lusty red city, Rouge.

Gotta hand it to Steven Spielberg, subtle he is not. He isn't a story teller, Spielberg is a story re-teller, but it is marvelous and very well photographed.

Like The Wizard Of Oz, this film will take years for people to appreciate its depth and its beauty - everyone is caught up in the ET and Close Encounters and Dr. Strangelove (or how about James Bond and Dr. No, I mean Dr. Know) - but what the filmmaker is saying is what Jim Morrison said "You cannot petition the Lord with Prayer".

Then he turns around and says you can. although Mary Poppins (a marvelous Clara Bellar as a machine who truly loves the little lad, and smiles at him as acid is poured over her - this is NOT Tina Turner as the acid queen, but as Clara Bellar gets it, Tina Turner as Thunderdrome is a very real part of the equation as Mad Max Factors in heavily ).

The moral of the story : Machines can love better than people. Read Ray Kurzweil's THE SPIRITUAL AGE OFMACHINES, and understand that Spielberg's nicking of riffs from The Twilight Zone to Babes In Toyland is a true message with hidden meanings. That man is incapable of caring about anyone but himself, and if Dr. Frankenstein was stroking his ego by playing God, William Hurt was stroking his pocket book. Both had less than noble reasons for bringing life to the unliving, and
were hardly responsible for cleaning up the toxic waste after opening Pandora's Box.

My opinion is that A.I. is an incredible motion picture on many levels,
and that few people will really get it until reading my review.


COPYRIGHT (2001) By Joe Viglione
This review may not be copied or
re-printed without permission from
the author

"The Animal" Starring Rob Schneider
Movie Review by Thomas A. Carder

Gross-out toilet humor. There is no better description. Definitely geared toward the intellect of the elementary school locker room wise guys.

Marvin Mange (Rob Schneider) -- what a name -- is a cop wannabe evidence room clerk for the Elkerton Police Department. He tries every year to make it through the obstacle course to get on the force. But he is physically incapable of completing the course. Mange, for reasons known only to the writers and filmmakers, had his face at the posterior of a large tryout participant while she was bent over. And, of course, every fold and detail was obvious. Discovering what Mange had done she told him something to the effect to keep his nose where it was because that is all he will see of her.

One day, unable to locate a uniformed police officer to respond to a "211" call, Mange decides to take it himself. But on his way, he is victim to a rather graphic car wreck which leaves him all but dead. Dr. Wilder (Michael Caton) comes along looking like the Saskatchewan and drags Mange off to the doctor's laboratory where the good doctor rebuilds Mange ... but uses animal parts to do it. Somehow, the traits of the animals were transferred into Mange: the sense of smell of a canine; the aquatic abilities of a dolphin; the sex drive of a horse. Other traits of a dog were transferred as well such as lapping his drink instead of sipping it, and cleaning himself as a dog does. And the opportunity was not missed to have a fellow actor (the Police Chief played by Ed Asner) ask Mange to teach him how to do it.

Now that Mange has all the powers of animals, he makes it on the police force by using his heightened sense of smell to detect narcotics inside the colon of a smuggler. Nothing was left out, not even the retrieval of the drugs. There are many such instances of toilet humor in this 76-minute Adam Sandler-produced flick. I'll describe a couple more just so you'll know what you are paying for if you go to see this flick. In a brawl with an Orangutan, Mange twists one of the Orangutan's mammae to subdue him. A sultry lady, dressed to maximize the female form and skin exposure, struts by and conveniently drops something to permit exposing as much of her crotch at first,then of her cleavage, as possible. Mange, noticing this in detail, has intercourse with a street corner mailbox. In a restaurant, Mange sexually satisfies himself (unseen but heard) twice when excited by his date, Rianna (Colleen Haskell of "Survivor"). And Mange tries to sexually subdue a goat in heat. While maybe it is ugly to read this, it is uglier onscreen. And it is all for your 13 year old and younger kids ... IF you let them watch it.

*The Animal* earned a CAP Final Score of 54, placing it at the very top of the range of scores earned by R-rated movies (zero to 54). Part of the contributors to such a low score in addition to all those mentioned so far included 23 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, adolescent arrogance at fair authority and open urination. Other contributors include drinking, smoking, using women as toys or tools, and homosexual suggestions.

ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture

Review by Thomas A. Carder

I was disappointed. Most of the 179 minute show seemed to be much ado in forming a love triangle rather than in sharing with us the truth about Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This is not a movie about the more than 3,000 who died in that attack by the Japanese government. It is just a movie.

*Pearl Harbor* starts out in 1923 Tennessee with footage of two young boys, Danny Walker (later by Josh Hartman) and Rafe McCawley (later by Ben Affleck) building a strong relationship as lifelong buddies. Danny's father was a crop duster burned out by warfare. After sneaking a few minutes in his father's plane, Danny and Rafe get an unexpected short flight. Then Danny gets a brutal beating from dad -- a fist to the face abusive beating. Then, the writers had Rafe come to Danny's rescue - which seemed to be mentioned a lot - and clobbered Danny's dad with a two-by-four board, thus sealing the bonding between Danny and Rafe. What better imagery to portray lifelong friendship-building than a young boy rescuing another from an abusive father. We get what we plant, folks. The scenery of Danny and his dad finally walking off arm in arm was not even a good mask.

We discover Rafe, after signing up for the Army Air Corps, now Lt. McCawley, suffers dyslexia and cannot read the eye chart. So, he cheats and memorizes the last line. Not fooled by his shenanigans, army nurse Lt. Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale) tells Rafe to read the bottom line of the chart like every body else but to read it backwards - every other letter. After a song and dance sob story, Rafe convinces Evelyn to pass his eye test, and there begins the romance. But to get even and to let Lt. McCawley know where he stands, she gives him an intermuscular shot in a forceful manner in the place of greatest muscle density. While we are not subjected directly the glutei of Affleck, we are provided ample opportunity to witness the anatomy of the human male posterior, more than once. In one case, the audience is subjected to full side male nudity (a sunburn victim). While embedded in a crop of ignominious weeds, a clever and touching (especially to Rafe's nose) romance does grow and eventually takes over the field -- until the bombs start to fall.

Soon we see Rafe volunteering to be shipped off to England to help the Brits fight the Nazis. As a matter of duty, Lt. Col. Jimmy Dolittle (Alec Baldwin) tried to convince Rafe to not go, but would have gone himself if the roles were reversed. But neither Danny nor Evelyn wants him to go because it is real war over there. On their last night together before shipping off to England, Rafe and Evelyn start for her apartment but Rafe's honorable values took over and prevented the expected in a quiet barrage of righteous morality. After a stint of aero-heroism, Rafe is shot down and presumed dead. And as buddies do, Danny took on the obligatory duty to take care of the girl if the hero does not come back. And that is precisely what Danny does, and takes care of himself using her. Though no genitals are seen, intercourse is presented and an unwed pregnancy started.

That describes about 75% of this 3-hour show. Interspersed with the romance and romantic treachery are clips showing the progression of Japanese aggression -- the very reason for Pearl Harbor being a warfare landmark and the title of this movie. Then Rafe appears, tries to claim his "prize", and the war begins. Noteworthy is the performance of Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Dorie (Doris Miller), a Navy cook's aide. Though forbidden by the Navy to operate firearms, Dorie manages to operate an anti-aircraft weapon and downs two Japanese planes.

After about half an hour of computer-aided warfare and war gore, the famous Dolittle raid takes both Rafe an Danny to Tokyo for the "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo." But this time, Danny does not come back.

The center of this film -- the Pearl Harbor tragedy -- could have been taken out and the film would have been nearly the same. It was a lot of hype to make a buck, capitalizing on a gut-wrenching, heart-ripping period of our history. I doubt this flick will return its $140 million budget.

Of probable concern to parents and grandparents are the sexual matters including the masked intercourse, the several instances of brief rear male nudity, the full side male nudity, and the sexual innuendo. Also of likely concern are the most graphic deaths, injuries and battle-related horrors. Within the violence envelope was forced the contemplation of life over death: the life-death decision making under triage procedures by the medical crew -- the "setting aside" of those with mortal injuries to die in favor of those with treatable injuries. While triage is indeed a battle reality, we get enough death and dying in Death & Dying in public schools. We don't need any more with an entertainment mask. And whether our 13-year old and younger kids need to see bodies being piled atop each other or seared walking corpses is mom/dad's choice.

And with this review, I am giving back to mom/dad that authority which the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and advertisers have stolen. With a CAP Final Score of 53, this PG-13 movie fell just under the bottom of the CAP scoring range earned by PG-13 movies (55 to 67) -- just one point under the top of the CAP scoring range for R-rated movies (54 and below). Thus, it is an "R-13" but a lite "R-13" almost entirely due to violence and language. The CAP Influence Density figure of 0.84 is relatively light for typical war/action R-rated movie due to the extraordinary length of the movie and its dominating weight in romance-related issues.
ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture

Film Review by Joe Viglione

Prior to seeing this a friend predicted that the creepiness of the old Universal films would be absent, and he was so right. What this film needed was the star power of a Karloff, and there's only one man alive who can deliver that. Let me tell you, Christopher Lee's absence is felt. To those Batman fans who saw Timothy Burton's bastardization of our hero as blasphemous as Oliver Stone's desecration of The Doors, well, Imhotep isn't as sacred as those icons.

Brendan Fraser is no Ben Affleck, and his handsome physique suffers the same fate experienced in Monkeybone. These are comedies that want to be dramas. Monkeybone was too adult to bring the kids to, and too childish for adults to be amused by. But, where Whoopi Goldberg delivered a wonderful wicked witch as Satan, there is no one, not a living soul, who punctures the cardboard characters in this charade. There are highlights - the special effects are decent, although a bit careless. You can feel where real life merges with the artwork, and this isn't Monkeybone's mixture of live action with animation. With action a plenty, the audience is going to shell out close to ten bucks to get a roller coaster ride, and the premiere on May 1st was packed to the rafters (this critic had to ask the manager to see if there were extra seats. There were, but not many). Audience reaction after the film was positive, but here's the problem with that: people are basically accepting what is thrown on the screen, and look at the dearth of good flicks so far this spring. No X-Men, no Matrix. And speaking of The Matrix, when Fraser utters the line "Sorry, wrong guy" - it is a direct rip - both Keanu Reeves as "Neo" - "the one", and Brendan Fraser as Rick O'Connell (what a vapid name for a hero!) reject the mantle of saviour they must wear. Ho hum. Gimme the arrogance of James Bond, thank you very much, false humility drains both pictures. Fraser also gets the Keanu Reeves award for lackluster acting, proving Woody Allen wrong about 85 or whatever percentage of it all is just showing up. The press release calls this "adventure action and violence", but the violence is bloodless. The only death that matters in the film is that of a pet - it's the only human moment in a film where you really want Arnold Vosloo as The Mummy to rip newcomer Freddi Boath limb from limb. The annoying little Alex O'Connell, son of Fraser and Rachel Weisz is the worst child "star" since Arnold (Schwarz, not Vosloo) faced that forgettable brat in Last Action Hero. At least Furlong and Kulkin know how to be young and clever by doing real things, displaying true antagonism. Alex is not scared of Imhotep, his annoyance of the man guarding him is more cat and mouse.

The tragedy of this film is that, like Monkeybone, there are moments of real genius here. The "magic carpet ride" to the lost world is stunning filmmaking. Rick O'Connel's brother in law should have been left out. He adds nothing, is a major distraction, and if the filmmakers were thinking of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein they would be better served by resurrecting Abbott & Costello.

You've seen it all before, in the first edition of THE MUMMY. There is absolutely no character development, the acting is terrible, the soundtrack is loud, the special effects passable - but there is one redeeming quality this film has which will insure it will be a hit this summer. LOTS OF ACTION. That is it. The secret ingredient. Forget a decent plot, Writer / Director Stephen Sommers put more thought into the dramatic score running over the credits. Breaking the bad guy's heart is a neat idea, if you have a villain that you can love, or hate. But Vosloo is no Hannibal Lecter, he doesn't have that Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde charm of Anthony Hopkins, or the macabre elegance of Christopher Lee in "Dracula Has Risen >From The Grave" - a film with more drama and passion than this, a lost classic from Hammer.

Hammer Films gave the Universal Pictures legacy new meaning. Universal wants to bring in the hundred million plus by prostituting the old monsters. This film is the magazine FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND come to life, where Forrest J. Ackerman and the fans desperately wanted a serious film magazine a la Cinefantastique, and - was it the publisher, Warren, who wanted the twisted humor to appeal to the kids - to sell magazines?

With six billion people on the planet, one would think a good, well-paced, perfectly scripted, finely acted Night Of The Living Dead or Frankenstein or Freaks or Lugosi as Dracula, a tremendous film with vision, passion, art, a Star Wars of horror films, would find an audience.

Had Brendan Fraser demanded a film that began with the Hot Air balloon sequence (there are two references to The Wizard Of Oz - Imhotep as a male Wicked Witch turning the hour glass upside down, and the Hot Air balloon - which most fans of The Wizard of Oz never got to travel in.) There are flavors of The Matrix, Oz, Spiderman - especially the black suit Spiderman which would ooze across enemies - the black shadow consumes the desert in this flick, and the battle which looks like an out-take from Liz & Dick's big scale Cleopatra or Ben Hur is, as mentioned above, just so totally bloodless.

The Scorpion King is not frightening, the little mummies walking on walls would be very effective if they weren't chasing a double decker bus in a film that can't decide if it should be a terror vehicle or light-hearted family fare.

Stephen Sommers comes off like Ed Wood with a big budget. So sad. This sequel, like the film that spawned it, had the potential to revitalize a genre in need of modernization. Fraser needs to be associated with a series that will establish him as more than a pretty boy, and Hollywood needs to take a book and bring it to life the way the author intended. The space alien version of Spiderman which Marvel developed to change Peter Parker's suit would be a "marvelous" thing to behold transferred to the screen as originally conceived.

The Mummy Returns is a roller coaster ride which is good for a spin or two, but repeated viewings on cable will become boring because of the very bad comic relief. The Army of Annubis should've killed all the actors in this film and overtaken the Earth, but perhaps that's asking too much. Then they could've brought Fraser back from the tomb, and maybe his shirt, and the shirts of the other actors, would have some real dirt on them instead of the make-up applied to their clothing, so ho hum, so unrealistic, so - Hollywood. Mindless escapism.

(c) 2001 by Visual Radio Productions


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