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2006 Winter Video Roundups, Vol. IV


"Easy Rider"

I just finished watched this one at home and even though I don't really know what just happened outside of watching two guys just drive around the country on their motorcycles, I know this much:  that shit was cool.  From the soundtrack to Peter Fonda's badass shades to Dennis Hopper's easy-going touch as a first-time director, "Easy Rider" isn't so much a film as a mood, a feeling, a 90-minute commercial that has so little dialogue you'll have a hard time believing that co-star Jack Nicholson actually was nominated for an Oscar for his work in this film.  But the scenery is so crisp, the editing so roughshod and the vibe so chill that you can't help but like sitting through this experiment.  Good times, dude...

Rating:  $9.50 Show

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

So, this movie literally took home all the gold in 1976 the year after it was released--Oscars for Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay.  It's easy to see why: Jack Nicholson and a big bowl of crazy guys give us the whole shebang, with some laughs, a little drama, a bit of quickie romance, a couple horrific moments, and a badass ending.  Based on the Ken Kesey novel, this film is strong in almost every way, although I didn't like the one-note attitude of the staff that worked at the mental institution, none of whom seemed interested in being nice to the "inmates" in any way.  But, that's picky--otherwise, this is great stuff, just as good as it was 30 years ago.

Rating:  Opening Weekend

"The Butterfly Effect--The Director's Cut"

I wanted to watch the theatrical version, but the DVD I got from Netflix was only set up to show the director's cut, so I said WTF and played along.  The thing about this Ashton Kutcher thriller is that I just didn't get how his character, Evan, could keep winding back time by reading lines from his journal, escaping danger a couple of times by winding back the clock.  And why does he keep doing this?  Because he's in love with a childhood friend (Amy Smart) and he's trying to make the past work out so that this friend's bullying brother Tommy (William Lee Scott) will stop interfering with their lives.  Or something.  Shit keeps going wrong, things kept making my mind fuzzy, and Kutcher kept looking like this shit was serious.  I'll admit, there are a couple of good scare jumps in this one, but at two hours, it's way too long to be effective because the one-trick pony is up by the end of the first hour.  Ugh.

Rating:  Rental

"North Country"

The Oscar-nominated performances in "North Country" help bring attention to what was already a great film, in every way--incredible drama, some learnin' on behalf of what would be become the nation's first class action sexual harassment case, and a lot of people faking a North Country accent.  Charlize Theron, Sissy Spacek, Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand (acting here, as opposed to that horseshit that took place during her other collaboration with Theron last year, "Aeon Flux") give us strong performances and the ending--as we find out what happens in the courtroom after all of the horrific work condition are presented in full--was solid.  Directed by Niki Caro ("Whale Rider"), "North Country" isn't a pick-me-up but it is great entertainment.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09