Visit the Video/DVD review archives
All Reviews by Jason Aaron
The most interesting characters are the ones who try to do the right
thing but simply cant because of something in their nature,
something even they themselves dont fully understand.
The main character in the Assassination of Richard Nixon,
Sam Bicke, is a perfect example of a flawed and pathetic yet sympathetic
protagonist. Bicke struggles to hold down a steady job, still clinging
to the dim hope of reconciling with his ex-wife and regaining the
love of his children, yet he eventually finds it impossible to succeed
as a salesman because he refuses to lie to the customers. Once he
hits rock bottom, Bicke feels corrupted by the system yet finds himself
still unable to succeed within it. Who does he blame? Who else but
the man who turned out to be the biggest liar of them all, President
Based on a true story, this debut film from director Niels Mueller
mostly plays like Taxi Driver-lite. Its the cast that
elevates the movie to greatness. Don Cheadle, who plays Bickes
only friend, is simply one of the best all-around actors working today,
though he rarely gets the recognition he deserves. Naomi Watts, as
the ex-wife, follows up her stellar role in 2003s 21 Grams
with another solid performance. And Sean Penn, as Bicke, once more
proves hes the most gifted actor of his generation. His Bicke
is a shriveled, stammering mess who seems constantly on the verge
of snapping, until he finally does.
Still, underneath it all, you can sense that Bicke is actually a good guy who just somehow slipped through the cracks of society. The violent, downbeat ending, while predictable, is still shocking and powerful, just like the film as a whole. (R) Rating: 4
Once upon a time members of the militant American Indian Movement
were considered dangerous radicals, even terrorists. One of their
members, Leonard Peltier, still sits in Leavenworth Penitentiary (wrongly)
convicted for the murder of two FBI agents in 1975. How far did the
worm have to turn before AIM leader Russell Means could become a voice
actor for Disney?
Thats just what happened in 1995 when Means lent his voice
to Powhatan, father of Pocahontas and chief of their tribe. Means
may have helped give Disney some credibility with Native Americans,
but the film still failed to find an audience in part because its
way more somber than the average animated yarn.
Available for the first time on DVD, this 10th Anniversary Edition features the usual mix of behind-the-scenes features, bland music videos and games for the kiddies. Though Pocahontas is unlikely to rival The Lion King or Aladdin as your childs favorite Disney flick, its still far bolder than anything the Mouseketeers are attempting these days. (G) Rating: 3
This isnt Martin Scorceses best film, not by a long shot,
but The Aviator is the one that should have finally won him
a long overdue Oscar for Best Director. Instead, Clint Eastwood took
home the honor for the extravagantly overrated Million Dollar Baby.
Thats two directing Oscars for Eastwood (he previously won,
deservedly so, for Unforgiven). But none for Scorcese, the
man who has produced classic films in three different decades: Taxi
Driver in the 70s, Raging Bull in the 80s and
Good Fellas in the 90s.
The Aviator never achieves classic status but its still
a gorgeous, sprawling epic that boasts a pair of memorable performances.
Cate Blanchett is amazing, given the impossible task of playing legendary
actress Katharine Hepburn, and Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of the
most impressive performances of his career as Howard Hughes, the infamous
aviator and movie mogul who descends into madness. Though the film
is fragmented at times, The Aviator is maybe Scorceses
best film since Good Fellas, but obviously thats still
not enough to earn an Oscar. (PG-13) Rating: 4
For a movie that deals extensively with sex, Kinsey is a pretty
bland and boring experience.
This is the story of Alfred Kinsey, the first researcher to address
human sexual behavior in a serious scientific manner. His findings,
first published in 1948, sent massive shockwaves through post-war
American culture. Kinsey addresses that controversy, as well
as the various sexual shenanigans of Kinsey and his research team.
Writer/director Bill Condon casts a wide net in terms of subject
matter and manages to produce some enjoyable scenes, but as a whole,
the film seems to bite off more than it can chew and doesnt
do justice to its various characters, including Liam Neeson as Kinsey,
Laura Linney as his wife and Chris ODonnell as the young assistant
who sleeps with them both.
Still, Condon does earn points for tackling the darker side of Kinseys research, including his interview with a professed pedophile. Overall, Kinsey is a memorable effort but not that memorable of a film. (R) Rating: 2
© 2004 Discovery
Publications, Inc. 104 E. 5th St., Ste. 201, Kansas City, MO 64106
contents of eKC are the property of Discovery Publications, Inc.,
and protected under Copyright.