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Radman  Movie  Reviews

Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace
     I don't understand all the hoopla over this movie. It is overpackaged, oversold, and overhyped. It is the poorest of the four Star Wars movies mainly because the acting is so weak.
     Liam Neeson uses the same expression throughout the film. I guess the way he looks at it is: why use a cross-section of expressions if I can get by using one. By far, one of the least motivated performances in a stellar career.
     Ewan McGregor is a little better, maybe due to the writing, but I wonder why he took this rather unchallenging role coming off of movies like "Trainspotting."
     Natalie Portman as the queen is listless, stolid, unconvincing, and frankly, boring. I shudder to think of having to watch her plod through at least two more Star Wars movies.
     To those who have seen this film fourteen times, I ask, why? There is no real writing or direction here, only a skeleton of the 1977 Star Wars. It shows. To George Lucas, whose best film by far was 1973's "American Graffiti," I ask, how many more?
     Truly, Star Wars has disintegrated from a once noble idea into a perfect example of American materialism, commercialism and capitalism overshadowing the art. The saddest part: no one cares.  Return to top of page

An Ideal Husband

   In this age of accelerating violence in schools, neighborhoods and on television and movie screens, it's a good thing we haven't forgotten about Oscar Wilde. His wit, idealism and charm are put to good use in "An Ideal Husband," a play written by him, and turned into a movie by screenwriter and director Oliver Parker.

   Rupert Everett gives a moving and intelligent performance as an unmarried 36-year-old English Lord living off family money. Julianne Moore, late of "Boogie Nights" and the second "Jurassic Park," steals the film with her portrayal of a greedy Countess more interested in blackmailing a politician and winning wagers than getting married or helping her homeland.

   The banter is sharp, the acting is tight, but the words are more important than the performances. After all, this is the genius of Oscar Wilde. Not before or after, has there been a better observer of human behavior.   Return to top of page

The Red Violin

  This is a thoroughly engrossing and passionately sweeping work of art. It speaks to the artist in us all. An international cast led by Samuel Jackson documents the construction and passing down of a beautiful violin. Anyone who has ever wanted to be a musician will fall in love with this touching tale.

    The red violin is a masterpiece created by a 16th century Italian violin-maker who endows this his best work with a formula made of elements that are dear to him. The movie allows us to get a glimpse into the hearts of people to whom a violin is more important than freedom, love or life itself. Truly, one of the best films of the year marred only by a bad ending.    Return to top of page

Summer of Sam

   This is one of the best movies of the summer, though as is the case with many of director Spike Lee's films ("Malcolm X," "Jungle Fever" ..." Mo Better Blues"), it is not being seen by a wide audience. Different than most Lee films because there are few African-Americans in the cast, the film still boasts the sizzling and sensitive Oscar-winning Mira Sorvino, and the intense John Leguizamo, getting away from the antics of his stand-up comedy routines and one-man show as well as a blistering performance by Ben Gazzara. Hey, Ben, where have you been lately?

   "Sam" is the story of one New York City neighborhood scared to death by the killing spree of serial killer David Berkowitz during the summer of 1977. It doesn't just tell us about the fear, it drowns us in it, and we are never able to get our heads above the water. This film is alive, it is electric, it is New York City, the Yankees, disco, looting and what was one very eventful summer in the history of probably the most loathed and beloved city in the world.

   Lee paints a canvas of fear, paranoia and almost Hitler-like fascism thanks to one man  with a gun. Adrian Brody as a young punk singer takes the movie under his arm and never lets go. Brody is a new star, the kind the screen loves. The kind who says more in one look than an entire paragraph. 

  If you've never seen a Spike Lee film, do yourself a favor and see this one. Be prepared for two hours of battle with yourself Afterwards, though, you will be cleansed. Oh, yeah, Spike, next time forget the talking dogs.  Return to top of page


  Many reviewers seem to be falling for this latest version of the king of the jungle. I do not. The animation doesn't come close to Disney's best of this decade such as "The Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast." The child sitting next to me was scared by some of the unnecessary violence. 

  Though this animated version stays true to the original Edgar Rice Burroughs story, the songs, written and sung by Phil Collins, leave much to be desired, like rhythm, music and lyrics. Truly, Collins has not recovered from falling off a rather talented horse in 1993. Since then his music has lacked the energy and eloquence of his former work.

   And a Disney movie without memorable music is a movie soon forgotten. Really, only for the kids, and even then be careful.   Return to top of page