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The Arrival (1996)
Must watch for sci-fi fans
This is Half Life the movie- I am not kidding. Charlie Sheen in The Arrival is dead ringer for Gordon Freeman. Even the plot has similarities. The Arrival is low key, which is refreshing at this time of year, and it's as much horror as pure science fiction. This is the kind of movie that a director like John Carpenter might have made during his late-70s/early-80s heyday. It's creepy and atmospheric, and, after a rather protracted opening forty minutes, well-paced. Spectacled and bearded, Charlie Sheen is surprisingly effective as the paranoid protagonist. He's more of an everyday sort of guy than a superhero, and, as a result, is easy to identify with. Everyone else in the cast is basically a supporting player, including Ron Silver as an oily CETI executive, so the responsibility for the movie lies fully on Sheen's shoulders, and he carries the burden admirably.
Albino Alligator (1996)
Spacey's directorial debut is exciting
Albino Alligator, the directorial debut of 1996's Best Supporting Oscar winner, Kevin Spacey, is a cagey, claustrophobic noir thriller highlighted by a few clever plot twists, some nicely- honed dialogue, and a half-dozen top-notch performances. Many will doubtless compare this movie to Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, but, while there are similarities in plot, intent, and style, Albino Alligator is a more intimate film. If not for the car chase that opens the movie and sets up everything that follows, this could easily be mistaken for the screen adaptation of a play. In an era when Tarantino-flavored crime thrillers are becoming more commonplace, Albino Alligator manages to distinguish itself. For the most part, Christian Forte's script is smart, even if the characters aren't, and Spacey's direction is sure-handed. There's something darkly delightful about watching a movie like this, which, despite occasionally falling back on formulaic conventions, still manages to surprise its audience from time-to-time.
Where Eagles Dare (1968)
Decent Clint western, though one of his lesser ones
Director Ted Post's "Hang 'em High" qualifies as Clint Eastwood's least appealing western. This release served as the first Eastwood epic after Sergio Leone's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." Composer Dominic Frontiere's powerful orchestral score ranks as its best asset and enhances the formulaic Leonard Freeman & Mel Goldberg screenplay about western justice, circa 1889. Frontiere composed the scores for television shows such as "The Invaders" and "The Rat Patrol." His score for the Lee Van Cleef western "Barquero" sounds like variations on his "Hang 'em High" theme. Mind you, Eastwood looks cool as a glacier in his dark blue outfit and flat-brimmed hat, and he kills bad guys who deserve to die without a qualm. Nevertheless, "Hang 'em High" resembles a tautly made television drama. The surroundings, even the sandy desert scenes, lack the majestic sprawl of his inspired Italian westerns and his later sagebrushers such as "The Outlaw Josey Wales," "The Pale Rider," and "Unforgiven.
The Player (1992)
Robert Altman's cynical take on Hollywood and the movie business
Robert Altman was a master filmmaker. Not everyone's cup of tea but if you like him I think you will enjoy The Player- a satirical take on the film industry. Starring Tim Robbins and a host of cameos (An Altman trait) the Player follows a studio executive's fight for survival after he accidently kills a screenwriter. Featuring some amazing sequences including an astonishing opening scene long take this film is one of the finest examples of Altman's wit and craftsmanship. The film wasn't a huge success upon release, but it is considered a great film now. I suggest you give this film a chance because this is auteur theory in tinsel town at its finest.
Fantastic visuals but not much else
Legend was Ridley Scott's follow up to his most personal film Blade Runner. And it was the start of his "average" phase. Legend is a decent film- it looks astonishing Ill give it that. But the story is basic and Tom Cruise is simply adequate. Tim Curry as the bad guy actually completely steals the show but overall this is just an okay film filled with pretty visuals. If you want to watch a fantasy there are other better films. Unless you're a fan of Ridley Scott or Tom Cruise I think you can safely avoid this.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Hanks and Di-Caprio collaborate in this Spielberg film
Tom Hanks and Leonardo Di Caprio unite in this Steven Spielberg crime caper from 2002. Leo plays Frank Abagnale Jr. who happens to be a con artist of the finest order despite being only 19. He is pursued diligently by FBI agent Carl Hanratty played by Hanks. This is a great casual film to watch and appreciate. Apart from the aforementioned actors we also have minor characters played by the then new Amy Adams, Martin Sheen and Christopher Walken and all come together to create a near perfect feature film. Speilberg should be commended for taking on such a light fare and making something so interesting out of it.
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
This train ride with Washington and Travolta is a must watch
This is a remake of an older film made in the 1070s and judging by other reviews- an improvement. It is an intense ride and both Denzel Washington and John Travolta shine. The late Tony Scott excelled in making certain types of films and this is the kind of film that he was happiest making, as opposed to elder brother Ridley who tends to choose more cerebral fare. Taking of Pelham 123 is a ride you don't wanna miss. Go see it.