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The Recruit (2003) - **
As usual, I was disappointed with my first film of the year. I am a big fan of much of Al Pacino's prolific career, but this performance let me down with a lack of his usual passion for his characters. I think this movies biggest problem was the script, it is very lacking and ordinary. There are definitely some similarities to the movie Training Day. Al Pacino recruits Colin Farrell into the CIA. You're never sure what's real or just part of the training (at least that's the premise). All in all, a very lack-luster movie.

Red Dragon (2002) - ***
A good, but unnecessary remake. Manhunter was already a really good movie. I just figure they wanted to cash in on the popularity of the series. That being said, they did a pretty good job retelling the story. They rounded up some quality actors...Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, and Anthony Hopkins. They all did a fine job, but not their best performances by a long shot. It's good and different enough to make it worth seeing, but you should definitely see the superior Manhunter as well.

Red Heat (1988) - **1/2
Another cop movie matching a couple of unlikely partners, James Belushi a Chicago cop & Arnold a Russian cop in town to catch the Russian bad guy. Not particularly good, but marginally entertaining. More violent and less comedic than you might guess.

Reign of Fire (2002) - *1/2
Fire-breathing dragons causing trouble in the year 2020. Not really expecting much and I didn't get it. I thought there might be some good special effects and/or maybe even an interesting story, but there were neither.

Reservoir Dogs (1992) - ***1/2
Though a bit on the violent side for some, I found Quentin Tarantino's first movie highly enjoyable. The acting was great, especially Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, and Tim Roth...and Michael Madsen, Chris Penn were at their best. For me, this movie is made great by the characters...they are well written and well acted. And as seems to always be the case in Tarantino's movies, the soundtrack is not only excellent but very fitting to the film.
Rank: #1 in
1992, #8 in 1990s

The Ring (2002) - **1/2
If you want to see a scary movie, this is a good one. There are a fair amount of scenes to make you jump, but there's more than that. The story line is decent and it's well filmed and acted. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security by it's PG-13 rating. It's not a gore-fest, but there are some unpleasant images that cross the screen. I'm pretty hardened after watching scary movies all my life, but I can still appreciate them. If you're going to see this movie, you should see it in a theater. I got much amusement from the crowds responses. There were three ladies in their 30s on my right, about half way through the movies I noticed they were curled up in their seats with their hands on their foreheads, covering their eyes anytime they thought something scary would happen. Then on my left there was a couple...they guy got a bit verbal at some of the last quarter of the movie. Not talking to his mate, but usually uttering one curse word at key moments. It all added to my enjoyment of the film. As a kicker, for those that have seen the movie, I got home and turned on my cell phone and the it immediately went off with a message. I laughed out loud. No worries, it was just my friend, Vince, inviting me to come over and watch the world series. I have not seen the original Japanese Ringu yet, but I am looking forward to seeing it as I've heard it's better and scarier!

Ringu (1998) - ***
I saw the U.S. remake, The Ring (2002), a week before seeing this Japanese original. The remake stuck very close to this original, really only changing the background story a bit. Ringu definitely earns the originality points for this quality horror story. Though there were a couple added elements and variations that I liked in the U.S. version. Remakes are coming to Hollywood in droves. One pattern, I've noticed lately is to take a good, lesser-known, foreign made film and churn out a Hollywood version to make a quick buck. I have mixed feelings, because on one hand they are somewhat unnecessary, while still some of the recent remakes have been quality movies, like Insomnia. I prefer to see the original first, but it doesn't always work out that way. Ringu is a quality original story that is well directed and acted. It should be seen, but a lot of U.S. movie goers will never know about it and assume The Ring is an original film, while in reality it is just a slightly Americanized version with a few more jump cuts thrown in.

Road to Perdition (2002) - ***
A good movie, but lacked anything special to make it great. Good acting all around and a decent story. But nothing particularly new or unexpected in this tale. I had hoped for a little more.

Roger & Me (1989) - ***1/2
Michael Moore's first film that put him on the map as one of the best documentary filmmakers of our time. He questions why GM shut down their plant in his home town of Flint Michigan, while they were making record profits. He really captures the devastation that is done to Flint as a result. It's heart wrenching to see the families being evicted from their homes during Christmas time because they were laid off from the plant. One thing I liked about Moore's style in this film, and his subsequent films, is that he's not offering definite answers, but at least he's asking the questions and bring these topics to the foreground for discussion.
Rank: #4
Labor Day Movie

The Rookie (2002) - ***
This was a pretty good Disney movie about rediscovering lost dreams. Based on a little known true story. Nothing really outstanding, but a nice story and it could have gone too far over the top, but didn't.

Rosewood (1997) - ***
Another winner from John Singleton. Based on true and awful events. The story takes place in a small black town in Florida in 1923. I don't want to give too much away, but things get really ugly. These types of movies really have an affect on me and get my emotions going. Mostly they make me angry that people can treat human beings so poorly, and also very sad and frustrated.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) - ***
A very enjoyable tale about a very disfunctional family. All of the actors played their roles well. And it was an all-star cast...Gene Hackman, Anjelica Houston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, etc. And I liked the soundtrack, which was fitting, and has one of my all time favorite songs, "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard".

The Running Man (1987) - **1/2
Though not a great movie, it's good 80's Schwarzenegger entertainment. He's full of his usual one-liners. With a supporting cast of Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Maria Conchita Alonso, and Richard Dawson as the ratings-crazed game show host, how can you go wrong ;-)

Running Out Of Time (An Zahn) (1999) - ***
A good Hong Kong movie about a police negotiator and a bad guy who wants to play games. Good action and highly enjoyable as it plays out.

Running Out of Time 2 (2001) - **1/2
Quite a bit different from the style of the original. Not quite as good, but highly watchable. I found the highjinks of the bad guy who's a magician very entertaining. I couldn't help but laugh at the continuing coin flip bit that runs through the movie. One of the most unique chase scenes I've seen in a long time...They start off chasing a bald eagle that leads them to the bad guy...then the chase is on. They run full speed on foot from day into night...then a wild bicycle chase and crash...until finally they give up to continue another day out of sheer exhaustion. Though it's not quite good, it did keep my interest throughout.


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