“Understated” isn’t a word you’d ordinarily use to describe a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but that’s surprisingly what 12 Strong ends up being.
Q. Good calls on "The Searchers", but there's also this: It's the grave marker -- her grand-mother's -- that Debbie is sent out to hide behind when the Comanches attack, where Scar finds her. It allows us to raise the question of Ethan being a man who hates Comanches because of what they are or because of what some of them did. The inscription on the marker itself is virtually invisible in the movie. It says, "Here lies Mary Jane Edwards. Killed by Commanches May 12, 1852. A good wife and mother in her 41st year." I obtained it through a computer screen capture -- technology unavailable to anyone in a movie audience in 1956. I think the question of who was meant to see it is pretty obvious; it was there for Wayne to see.
Q. So, how coincidental is this? “2001: A Space Odyssey” includes a character named Dr. Heywood Floyd. The new movie “Moon” evokes “2001” powerfully for you and is directed by someone whose birth name is Duncan Zowie Heywood Jones. Heywood isn’t exactly a common name. Maybe he was born to direct this movie.
Q. I just noticed your driver’s education high school teacher (from your “License To Drive” review) and your boss at Crystal Lake Pool in Urbana (from your “Adventureland” review) are both amazingly named Oscar Adams! He sure got around and played some important roles in your early life!
Q. Regarding your review of "The Girlfriend Experience": Prostitutes in movies are never used for what they provide in real life, which is sex. In movies, prostitutes are paid for anything and everything but the thing they actually provide. See: "Pretty Woman," "The Girlfriend Experience" and countless others. Eliot Spitzer or any other man never paid large amounts of money to talk to a woman.
Q. I believe the film did try to address the issue of why the characters "have to physically parachute to land on a platform." If I'm not mistaken, it is mentioned that the drill is interfering precisely with the function of the beam; the drill must therefore be disabled manually before the beam can be used. In this case, then, the logic may not be entirely puzzling.
Q. A few minutes ago I read Stephen Hunter’s 2001 review of “2001: A Space Odyssey” and almost vomited. Here’s an excerpt: “Now, seen in the actual 2001, it’s less a visionary masterpiece than a crackpot Looney Tune, pretentious, abysmally slow, amateurishly acted and, above all, wrong." A crackpot Looney Tune? Amateurishly acted? Wrong? What does that even mean, "wrong?" Wrong about what? Is this guy seriously criticizing this 1968 film for not exactly predicting all of the inventions of the new millennium? How could a Pulitzer-prize winning critic miss the point so badly? (Robert Ford, Coquitlam, BC)
Q. In the review that you and Siskel did of "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer," you said the movie drained years, even centuries, out of the human "time pool." I did some calculations and learned that it's worse than you feared.
Q. You wrote: "It's like the dilemma of the 10 hot dogs and eight buns: You can never come out even at the end." Well, of course you can come out even: Four packs of wienies and five packs of buns yields 40 hot dogs.
Q. I read your Great Movie review of "Magnolia" and asked myself why the film was titled like that and thought of all the different characters, all beautiful blossoms, alone, but connected at the root of one great magnolia. I see "Magnolia" as a story about redemption. The film so closely observes its sinners, and we suffer as we watch them trapped in their self-made cages of misery. But all along, a change is coming; from the very outset, something is in the air. The religious allegory here is about receiving a second chance.
Q. Why has no acclaim gone to David Kross, who brilliantly played the young Michael Berg in "The Reader"? The courtroom scene when he realizes what Hanna has done, tears streaming down his face, is heartbreaking. Yet he's received virtually no mention. It's as if Kate Winslet did the movie by herself. She was great, [yet] there is no doubt this young man was so moving and went through so many emotions onscreen but he has not once been mentioned.