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Mud Review


Very Good

Writer-director Nichols continues to get inside the heads of his characters with this involving but overlong dramatic thriller. Like his previous film Take Shelter, this is another fable-like movie, this time harking back to Huck Finn with a boys' adventure story set on the waterways of rural Arkansas. It's impeccably shot and edited, with terrific performances even from side characters. But at over two hours, the long running-time tries our patience.

Our hero is Ellis (Sheridan), a shy but steely 14-year-old who dreams of one day escaping his backwoods community. For entertainment, he explores the rivers with his pal Neckbone (Lofland), and when they hear rumours of a boat stranded in a tree, they have to investigate. Sure enough, there it is, then inside it they discover the fugitive Mud (McConaughey). Even though he's wanted for murder, they decide to help free the boat so he can escape with his battered girlfriend Juniper (Witherspoon), who's hiding in a local motel. But Ellis and Neckbone need some help with this elaborate plan, so they turn to the scary old man (Shepard) who lives across the river.

Cinematographer Adam Stone beautifully captures both the evocative settings and the expressive faces of the actors, who all bring an introspective touch to their characters. Sheridan and Lofland are excellent in the lead roles, which are pretty demanding as these two teens have to grow up quickly. And McConaughey and Witherspoon dive fully into their much flashier roles, constantly surprising us with sparky details that take these people in unexpected directions. There's also a telling smaller role for Nichols' regular Shannon as Neckbone's haunted, sidelined guardian.

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Mud - Clips


Ellis and Neckbone are two young boys from Mississippi who spend their time exploring the wilderness and river near their home. When they discover a sizeable motor boat stuck in a tree after a flood, they think they've hit the jackpot of all discoveries and claim it as their own. However, they soon notice that food has been left there, leading them to believe that someone has been sleeping there. Unnerved, they leave to find their boat and venture home, only to come across a new neighbour on the isolated island, Mud. Mud is hiding from some bounty hunters who want to arrest him for killing a man in Texas who attempted to steal his girlfriend Juniper. Initially, wary of him, the boys soon warm to him and agree to bring him food if he helps them mend their motor boat before Juniper arrives to meet him. However, things aren't as easy as they seem when the boys start becoming suspicious of Mud and Juniper has problems of her own.

Continue: Mud - Clips

Mud Trailer


Ellis and Neckbone are two fourteen year old boys from Mississippi who, after crossing a river in a small boat on one of their regular explorations, discover a larger motor boat stuck in a tree on an island after a previous flood. They claim the boat as their own but soon begin to discover that someone has been sleeping there and they come across Mud. Mud is a man who has been hiding from a group of bounty hunters who have been hired by the family of a man he murdered in Texas for attempting to steal his beautiful girlfriend Juniper. The boys are sympathetic and captivated by him and agree to help him mend the boat while he makes plans to meet Juniper, who is hiding out in a motel, and run away with her. Things don't go as smoothly as planned and deceptions and suspicion causes tensions to rise between Mud, Juniper and the boys. 

'Mud' is an emotional journey tackling issues about right and wrong and good guys and bad guys. It has been directed and written by Jeff Nichols ('Take Shelter', 'Shotgun Stories') and received a last minute nomination for the Palme d'Or award on its showing at the Cannes Film Festival. It is set to hit cinemas on April 17th 2013.

Director: Jeff Nichols

Continue: Mud Trailer

Strange Wilderness Review


Weak
Take the second-tier crew from both Adam Sandler's posse (Allen Covert, Peter Dante) and Judd Apatow's regulars (Jonah Hill, Justin Long) and throw them together in a comedic spin on a Wild Kingdom type set and what do you get? A few chuckles rolled in with a lot of gross-out humor.

Steve Zahn headlines the directorial debut of Joe Dirt screenwriter Fred Wolf, playing Peter Gaulke, the stoner son of a famous Crocodile Hunter-like dad whose show Strange Wilderness was once a mega-hit. After dad died and Peter took over, things went downhill, with Peter turning in episodes punctuated by absurd narration and questionable nature... unless you count girls flashing their breasts in the shrubs behind the office building "nature." Peter defends the segment, of course, claiming them to be "natives."

Continue reading: Strange Wilderness Review

Fletch Review


Very Good
If you were in junior high or high school when Fletch came out, the movie holds enormous nostalgia value, particularly if you also happened to live in L.A. at the time (like me). Fletch revealed the L.A. that its denizens knew well -- the grungy beaches, the sun-cracked streets, the drab apartment buildings. Fletch's Lakers fetish, and the offices of the Los Angeles Times-like newspaper where he worked completed the L.A. milieu that audiences here immediately hooked into. What's more, we got Chevy Chase at his wise-ass best, in a crime caper tailored to the Beverly Hills Cop crowd (of which I was an admiring member), and thrumming with Harold Faltermeyer on the soundtrack. Sure, Faltermeyer's synthesizers sound supremely cheesy today, but this was the '80s, man. And nothing speaks the '80s like Faltermeyer's Casio keyboards, tuneful yet pulsing with that moneyed urban vibe; I think of it as the safe, consumer-friendly edge of high '80s decadence.

On first viewing (the movie's opening weekend), I admit I didn't get all of Fletch's jokes, but found myself pleasantly amused. Twenty-two years later, I get all the jokes, but I remain only pleasantly amused, nothing more, nothing less. This is a comfort movie -- smart and sassy enough to make good company, but a notch short of brilliant.

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The Natural Review


Good
Robert Redford is beloved for his roles in numerous films, but his work in The Natural has to rank as one of the few on top, despite the fact that, with a $48 million box office, it hardly ranks as one of his bigger hits.

The film remains, next to Field of Dreams, one of the world's oddest baseball movies. Roy Hobbs (Redford) is a child wunderkind at the game. After playing some ball at a carnival, he's summarily shot in the chest by a femme fatale (Barbara Hershey), who is clearly working for agents that want him not to be the greatest player of all time, which Hobbs says he aims to be.

Continue reading: The Natural Review

Tomorrow Never Dies Review


Bad
The arguable nadir of the Bond series, Tomorrow Never Dies finds a weary Brosnan battling, ahem, a Rupert Murdoch-like media mogul who uses mercenaries to start wars just so he can write about them in his newspapers first. Oh, the humanity. While there's a glimmer of sincerity in Tomorrow's notion of current events as media spectacle, the movie gets just about everything dead wrong, from its bad guy (Jonathan Pryce, who I love, is possible the worst villain ever) to its Bond girl (Michelle Yeoh). Even the evil henchman is badly picked: Ricky Jay is a lovable magician, not a hard-nosed killer. Need I mention director Roger Spottiswoode previously helmed Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! Maybe Bond could have taken her out too.

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The Living Daylights Review


Good
The casting of Timothy Dalton as James Bond in this 15th entry into the adventures of 007 is widely considered a classic mistake: Dalton isn't suave like Sean Connery or even Roger Moore. It's hard to explain, but he's too outright mean and gruff, and he doesn't come across with the sly sense of humor that, in my opinion, is essential in a good Bond. The vehicle he has to work with in The Living Daylights isn't exactly stellar, tagging along with a European cellist (Maryam d'Abo) as he unravels a KGB plot to kill MI-6 agents. The settings are on the lackluster side (Afghanistan?), aside from one notable sequence which gives Bond a trip down a snow-covered mountain in the Bond girl's cello case.

Continue reading: The Living Daylights Review

Walking Tall (1973) Review


Very Good
Joe Don Baker plays the "based on a true story" sheriff of a small Tennessee town, Buford Pusser, who cleans up the burg of gambling kingpins, whores, and murderers with the aid of a four-foot long cudgel and a style of justice not often seen in the days of the ACLU. (Illegal search and siezure? Police brutality? No problem!) Walking Tall spawned two sequels, a TV series, and a remake (30 years later!). Joe Don Baker pioneered the "hixploitation" genre with his performance here, and the film deserves credit for that. But don't forget the exploitation side of the film, which makes for some cheesy fights, cheesy one-liners, and a gaggle of cheesy villains. Still, there's no denying the power of Baker and his club.

The Dukes Of Hazzard Review


Weak
Once the largely inept and uncouth cast shuts the heckup (i.e. stops trying to act) and starts burnin' rubber and wreckin' cars,there's some good ol' fun to be had in the slipshod big-screen rehash of"The Dukes of Hazzard."

But the first hour of the movie is a punishing parade ofprotracted establishing, colorless characters and painful performancesthat make the picture's amusingly harebrained TV inspiration look likesophisticated action-comedy by comparison.

Seann William Scott (Stiffler from "AmericanPie") and Johnny Knoxville (MTV's "Jackass")play moonshine-running country cousins Bo and Luke Duke -- although theyhave little in common with the sexy charmers in cowboy hats and sparklingsmiles created so charismatically by John Schneider and Tom Wopat in 1979.Scott and Knoxville have re-imagined the characters as the Appalachianequivalent of frat boys, and their acting consists mostly of screaming"woo-hoo!" as they drive around dirt roads at 80 mph.

But at least these two are good for the occasional lowbrowlaugh. Candy-pop "singer" and professional celebrity JessicaSimpson steps into Catherine Bach's butt-hugging cut-off Levi's as sexpotkin Daisy Duke, and she's such a catastrophe as an actress that every timeshe opens her Barbie-doll mouth, just her fake Georgia drawl is enoughto make your ears bleed -- never mind her fumbling dialogue. Knowing whereher assets lie, writer-director Jay Chandrasekhar ("Club Dread,""Super Troopers") does his best to keep Simpson as silent andscantily clad as possible. But even in a bikini, she seems rigid and plastic.

Continue reading: The Dukes Of Hazzard Review

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Joe Don Baker Movies

Mud Movie Review

Mud Movie Review

Writer-director Nichols continues to get inside the heads of his characters with this involving but...

Mud Trailer

Mud Trailer

Ellis and Neckbone are two fourteen year old boys from Mississippi who, after crossing a...

Strange Wilderness Movie Review

Strange Wilderness Movie Review

Take the second-tier crew from both Adam Sandler's posse (Allen Covert, Peter Dante) and Judd...

Strange Wilderness Trailer

Strange Wilderness Trailer

Strange WildernessTrailerAnimal enthusiast Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn) and his sidekick Fred Wolf (Allen Covert) host...

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The Dukes of Hazzard Movie Review

The Dukes of Hazzard Movie Review

Once the largely inept and uncouth cast shuts the heckup (i.e. stops trying to act)...

Joe Dirt Movie Review

Joe Dirt Movie Review

"Joe Dirt" was obviously written by people who owe their careers to sketch comedy. This...

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