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AShields's reviews view profile

Intelligent Character Study  
on January 22, 2005 - 2:29 PM PST
  of Aberdeen (2000)
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful

What a delightful film! Smart dialogue and very interesting characters combine to give an intelligent look at relationships between parents and their grown children.

The film has a slow overall pace but you never lose interest as the characters keep you hooked. For the shallow men out there (myself included) there's the added bonus of Lena Headey's breast - which get a surprising amount of screen time. For the masochists out there, there's a disturbingly long shot of Stellan Skarsgard's penis.

But for everyone else, there's a charming movie about the bonds of family. Highly recommended.
Incredibly Powerful  
on December 13, 2004 - 7:26 AM PST
  of Touching the Void (2003)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

I watched this movie when it was aired on PBS in November 2004. I didn't intend to spend the night watching public television, but this movie is so powerful it held my attention until the end. And afterward, I felt drained.

The story is told through interviews with the three men (the two main protagonists and one guy who "guards" the base camp) supported by amazingly life-like recreations using actors. It all combines to tell one intensely gripping story. The recreations reinforce the environmental conditions that the men faced while the interviews reveal their intense psychological struggle. You will not be able to turn away - either for some popcorn or to go to the bathroom. Highly recommended.
Let it grow on you  
on May 7, 2004 - 2:44 PM PDT
  of Trigun Vol. 1: The $$60,000,000,000 Man (1999)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

Trigun is a series that changes tone right around the halfway mark. I have to admit, I didn't care for it much when I started watching. Not that it was bad, it just seemed to be yet another cliched anime series filled with cliched characters - the gentle and bumbling yet misunderstood hero and the obsessed antagonists who, no matter what they see, will only consider the hero to be a bad person. Similar to just about every episode of a sitcom - a simple misunderstanding leads to hilarity. You know the formula. Yet this series handles the misunderstandings with a deft and original touch. Instead of the mind-less repetition of contrived situations leading to humorous exchanges between the otherwise similar main characters, the story and characters evolve. The overall tone of the series changes and grows more serious. I wish I could be more descriptive but it would ruin some of the major plot points. You'll have to see it for yourself.

These first four episodes serve to introduce the characters and the setting (an amusing mix of old west towns/scenery with modern technology). Vash the Stampede is a wanted man ... and how! The bounty on his head is $$60,000,000,000.00 (that's a sixty billion double-dollar bounty). He is dubbed "The Human Typhoon" and it is rumored that he can destroy whole towns in one fell swoop. Considering the substantial damage left in his wake, two insurance adjusters are sent to track him down and to double-check if these claims are valid. Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson are not prepared for what they find. The man people claim to be this horrible "human typhoon" appears to be a goofy and harmless guy who happens to love donuts. Before their very eyes, all manner of bounty hunters try to capture or kill Vash. He comedically dodges bullets (and other wacky weapons) and is able to get away while saving innocent bystanders from the indiscriminant violence of his pursuers. The high damage bills appear to be caused more by the people chasing him than by the man himself. Yet there's more to this Vash than meets the eye...

My advice? Rent this volume, but wait until you get at least through volume 3 before you form a judgement of the series. Trust me, it gets much better. Like the best of the genre, it's the characters that draw you in. Just give them some time and you'll be rewarded.
Dude, this movie sucks!  
on May 4, 2004 - 2:34 PM PDT
  of Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful

Although I like to think I have a discerning and critical mind (likely just a self-made illusion, but an illusion I'm willing to accept), I enjoy a mindless movie every now and then. Heck, I even seek them out sometimes. One can't live on The Usual Suspects, Pi and Patlabor 2 alone. And so it was that I came to rent Dude, Where's My Car?. Big mistake.

Instead of a light-hearted (and light-headed) romp through crazy situations, this is a disjointed and flat Kelso/Stifler-fest. Sometimes a non-sensical movie really works and can make for some of the funniest moments in cinema (a la Monty Python), but this film was just stupid. Scenes that could have become classic points of commonality for an entire generation just stalled due to poor dialog ... or poor acting (it's hard to tell since both are pretty bad). As a comparison, think of the scene with Bill Murray's character in Caddyshack "teeing off" on the flowers at the golf club while providing his own commentary. Classic! Everyone can identify with that. But who can identify with being locked in a cage by a crazy ostrich farmer? It just doesn't work.

I swear, I'm not a movie snob. I enjoy stupid movies. I even started watching Dude knowing that I was going to watch a stupid movie. And it still sucked. Dude, that is some sweet suckage right there.
Actually scary  
on January 16, 2004 - 2:33 PM PST
  of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Ultimate Edition) (1974)
9 out of 9 members found this review helpful

Since I've been raised on modern shock films and am highly de-sensitized to violence (blame TV, rap music, whatever, I just am), I wasn't expecting much from this film. A so-called "classic" of the horror genre? Get real. Movies have gotten scarier since the early 70s just as the effects have gotten better. Right?

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this film used it's low budget to great effect. The effects are used sparingly, don't come across as cheap and certainly don't detract from the believability of the film. Shot in what I would consider an early documentary-style, it really lulls you in just like the original "Exorcist" did. Of course you're always expecting something gruesome to happen (how can you not expect it with a title that includes the word 'massacre'?) but you end up not being ready for it. There's no big crash of music, no long drawn out struggle, and no multi-gallon blood-bath. It's much more powerful that way.

Of course the acting is sub-par to say the least and the story doesn't tax your brain. However, the film does leave you with that uneasy feeling common to what the best of what the horror genre has to offer. Recommended to anyone looking to round out their film knowledge.

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