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Halloween (1978) - ***
John Carpenter's Halloween gave birth to the modern day slasher film. While not of the same caliber as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Halloween does stand out as the best slasher film made in my lifetime. Jamie Lee Curtis is excellent and believable in her first feature film role. While the supporting cast, like Donald Pleasance and P.J. Soles, aren't totally realistic, they are fun to watch in their stereotypical roles. With the film's low budget, they do surprising well at bringing us a suspensful film with the use of simplistic, yet eery, musical score and a psychopath wearing a modified William Shatner mask. It has become a regular viewing for me during the Halloween season. The sequels leave much to be desired, though the ones with Jamie Lee Curtis are a little better than those without.
Rank: #10 in
1978, #1 Halloween Movie

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) - ***
The Harry Potter story is brought from the books to the big screen. Never having read the books, I have to rely on anecdotal evidence that the movie stayed pretty true to the stories. I first saw the movie with my family, who've all read the books. But my youngest sister, Kelly, is the biggest fan. After the movie she was telling me all the things that were different or left out. I jokingly asked her, "So, you didn't like the movie?"...to which she replied that it was her favorite movie of all-time. That alone, tells me that the movie succeeded. I enjoyed the movie myself and think it's a fun fantasy story that's good for the whole family. The director, Chris Columbus, did a nice job and the actors, especially the kids, were great. Harry Potter is a feast for the eyes and obviously a lot of thought went into the detail. It's heartwarming for me to see this kind of movie made...Something healthy that kids of all ages can be excited about. As a side note, I am especially happy with the books being so popular. It seems like I hardly talk to a kid who hasn't read the books. That says a lot.

Hart's War (2002) - **1/2
An okay movie set in a WWII Nazi prison camp. I think this movie could have been a bit better with a different actor in Bruce Willis' part. He didn't seem to be a good fit. One point of the movie is to point out the irony of the US fighting the Germans, while unable themselves to deal with the issue of racial equality on the homefront and in the military.

Heartbreak Ridge (1986) - ***
Clint Eastwood plays the combat-hardened Gunnery Sgt., Tom Highway, who has a hard time staying out of trouble when he's not fighting a war. He's put in charge of a group of undisciplined recon marines and his personal objective is to whip them into shape at any cost. Though this isn't one of the best military movies ever made, Eastwood's ability to play a good tough guy makes this film. There are a few things that keep it from being a great film. Some of the supporting cast aren't top caliber and come across a little hard to take seriously. And probably the one thing that bothers me the most is Eastwood's repeatedly verbally reminding us that a marine is supposed to "Adapt, Improvise, Overcome". He must have uttered those words a half dozen times throughout the movie. I think more than twice is overkill and the constant reminder made it a little less meaningful. He does have some good lines and plays the part well. Though cliche, I enjoyed his I-Don't-Give-A-Rat's-Ass-About-The-Rules attitude when dealing with his inexperienced superiors. He was going to do what he thought best. I don't think that's how it really works in the marines and I doubt he could actually get away with as much as he did in the real military, but it makes for good entertainment.

Heaven (2002) - **1/2
This movie was not only highly watchable, but very intriguing...but ultimately left me a little flat. The two main characters are played very well by Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi and they make you want to root for them, but it's a bit hard to watch a police officer help a killer escape after just meeting her. It's not bad and some may like this movie more than I did.

Higher Learning (1995) - ***
I'd seen this movie once before, but liked it a little bit better the second time around. Directed by John Singleton, this movie deals with the racial tension in college where young adults are in the transitional phase of their life and trying to figure out who they are. I thought most of the main actors played their parts very well...Omar Epps, Ice Cube, Jennifer Connelly, Michael Rappaport, Kristy Swanson, Tyra Banks, and Laurence Fishburne.

His Girl Friday (1940) - ***1/2
This is a very entertaining comedy. The dialogue is lightning paced and flows quickly from one character to the next without a break in between. Cary Grant is excellent in his attempts to keep his ex-wife from re-marrying and on the staff of the newspaper. Rosalind Russell plays the part of his ex-wife well, matching his banter in kind. This movie is worthy of all the praise it gets. One thing I realized while watching this film, a lot of the classic comedies are founded on good witty dialogue. Unlike most of the comedies made today which seem to be founded in silly site gags and bathroom humor. Given a choice, give me the classics any day.
Rank: #3 in

History of the World: Part I (1981) - **1/2
This movie bombards us with jokes...some work and some don't. There are marginally enough to make you laugh more than groan. I think I found this movie a bit more funny as a kid, though I'm sure some of the humor passed over my 11 year old head. This movie is probably the one where Mel Brooks movies started going a bit downhill in my opinion. Still enough laughs to provide some entertainment though.

Hit & Run (1997) - *
This is one of those movies that you wonder why you bothered sitting through the whole thing. It's bad writing, bad acting, pretty much bad everything. It's somewhat a derivative combination of Joy Ride and something Wild. We knew something was up when we couldn't find the movie in IMDB. Hit & Run is what it was called when we watched it on cable, but it turns out it goes by many different names: Red Blooded American Girl II, Hot Blooded, Red Blooded II. By any name, this movie is awful on all levels. You'll be wise to avoid this on at all cost!
Rank: 1997
Worst, Truck Driving Scene

Hocus Pocus (1993) - **1/2
A good family fun Halloween movie. While it is rated PG, I would think most kids could handle this one. It does have a few frights, mixed in with a goodly amount of humor. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker play the Sanderson sisters, three witches that are inadvertently released on Halloween night. While not a great film, a good alternative to watching a gory horror film during the Halloween season.
Rank: #10
Halloween Movie

Holiday Inn (1942) - ***
A fun little musical with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Bing gets the idea to open the Holiday Inn, a place where they can put on shows ONLY on hoildays. It's fun to watch them go through the holidays, playing appropriate shows for the occasions. In one scene, Astaire performs a dance while he's drunk...in between takes he took real drinks of bourbon and they used the 7th and last take. Just some simple entertainment for the holidays. One more thing to note, this is the first time Bing performs "White Christmas" and the movie White Christmas is pretty much a remake of this movie.
Rank: #5 in
1942, Other Thanksgiving Movie

Home for the Holidays (1995) - ***
This was the first time I'd seen this movie, but it's sure to be a Thanksgiving regular from now on. Holly Hunter is dreading heading home to spend Thanksgiving with her dysfunctional family. Her brother, Robert Downey Jr., is certainly a good instigator and gets things rolling from the start. Sometimes these kind of stories work and sometimes they fall short, but this one works for me. The characters push the envelope of believability, but manage to remain realistic enough to follow through their story.
Rank: #2
Thanksgiving Movie

The Horse Whisperer (1998) - ***
I've been wanting to watch this movie since it came out and finally got around to it. Robert Redford plays The Horse Whisperer, who's hired to help cure a horse who was in a traumatic accident. It turns out he's as much a people whisperer as he helps heal the daughter, Scarlett Johansson, who was also in the accident. There's also the side romance with Kristin Scott Thomas. It always bothers me a bit how easy it often seems that people who are married can fall for someone else in a movie. For me, this detracted slightly from my enjoyment of an otherwise really good movie.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) - **
A fairly typical romantic comedy. Not really anything new, but there rarely is in the genre. The premise is pretty unbelievable, but Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey are pleasant to watch and were a believable couple to be. I enjoyed several scenes in the movie, especially the "Bullshit" card game with his family. No real surprises.

The Hunt for Red October (1990) - ***1/2
I think Alec Baldwin had a good first portrayal of Jack Ryan and Connery was excellent as the Russian Sub Commander. It was the start to what's been a great series of movies based on Tom Clancy's books.
Rank: #2 in
1990, #3 Submarine Movie


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