This will be very much a mixed-bag of reviews as it ranges from the current to the underground and even includes an old classic.

departed324.jpgTony and Julie took me to see The Departed the other night and I really liked it. It seems like it has been years since I have seen a movie without an agenda, a big commercial tie-in, or just utterly stupid (ala Employee of the Month.) The Departed is an old-fashioned movie in that it has a story, it has good writing, it has good acting, and it was fun to watch.

The cast alone was amazing. Usually when I see this many stars in a film, I prepare for an hour and half of garbage (Ocean’s 11+.) We are talking Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Leonardo DiCaprio – far too many to bother putting all the IMDB links. The great thing about this film is that despite all the larger-than-life actors, they didn’t get in the way of the story.

I found out later that this is a remake of a Hong Kong cinema film and am told that the other one is just as good. I don’t know, but like I said, I did like this one.

RATING 8 out of 10

under-siege_cover.jpgSpeaking of films with agendas, I also saw One Nation Under Siege. WOW! Talk about scary stuff. You won’t see this one listed at IMDB or advertised on television because it is not the sort of thing that mainstream media will allow.

The documentary points out some of the things that I personally have been ranting about for years – things like the unconstitionality and danger of the Patriot Act, things like misinformation campaigns, you know – the whole gamut of conspiracy stuff. While there are very few things in the film that I take issue with, the sheer volume of the facts are overwhelming. I cannot see a film like this making any headway in educating people or changing behavior… it is just too much.

By themselves, each of the points in the film would make great conversation starters and would go a long way to educating the population, but in total, it is so big that your only choice is to paint the whole thing with a “conspiracy nut” brush and go back to watching your favorite sitcom.

RATING 7 out of 10

lastamericanhero.jpgI also caught the 1973 Jeff Bridges film, The Last American Hero. Its one of those movies that you look at and think, “surely, I must have seen this one,” but then you can’t really remember how it goes. So, whether I never saw it in the first place, saw bits and pieces on a Saturday matinee, or just forgot the whole darn thing, I enjoyed watching it.

It was good to take that trip back in time… not just the trip with the characters where Bridges’ Junior Jackson is based on early NASCAR hero Junior Johnson, but the trip back in time in terms of filmmaking. It was interesting to look at how shots have changed, how drama was portrayed then versus the films of today, the techy-film-nerd stuff. Even the craft of acting has changed over the years and jumping 33 years back in time was a lot of fun. Plus, it was loaded with clever country quips, fast cars, and fast women… what more could you want?

RATING 7 out of 10