A mostly pleasant surprise in a year that has produced a lack of stellar animated outings.
Gerardo Valero was born in 1962 in Mexico City, where he currently resides with his wife Monica. He has a degree in Architecture and an MBA from the IPADE Business School in Mexico. His interest in movies started at a very young age as his father used to take him and his brothers to double or even triple features at their neighborhood theater. He mostly remembers seeing Tarzan movies and Disney classics, though mostly they watched a lot of forgettable war and cowboy movies. He remembers "The Poseidon Adventure" being talked about by everyone at his school, and by the time he saw "Jaws" at age thirteen, it became his favorite all-time film and somehow still remains so, even after watching it more times than he can recall.
Valero first learned of Siskel & Ebert in the mid-eighties during one of many summers he spent with friends in Columbus, Ohio. By 1988 it appeared on a cable station in Mexico and soon became a must-watch for him. Then the internet came along, and in 1999, he emailed Roger his very first suggestion for his "Little Movie Glossary," which, incredibly, he chose for one of his coming Yearbooks! Since then Valero has sent him dozens (or hundreds) of suggestions and, even though his days of batting 1.000 in that department didn't last very long, he has happily been published about 20 times in Roger's annual "Movie Yearbook." He has also contributed to Time Magazine's “10 Questions” (segments on Alex Trebek, Andy Roddick and Hillary Swank) and to "Freeze That Frame" in the long-defunct Video Review Magazine (1991).
Valero has won prizes in a number of trivia contests: an Omega watch for the James Bond contest (1995) and a VCR for the Lethal Weapon one (1996), both by Premiere Magazine (Mexico Premiere), and his first DVD player in the Godfather trivia contest by Cinemex, a Mexican movie chain (1998). His main interests are movies and DVDs, playing tennis, following the NY Yankees and, whenever possible, traveling. His favorite film is still "Jaws," but the first two Godfather movies make him question his standings every time he watches them.
Clint Eastwood is one of the few filmmakers whose work I always attend on his reputation alone. This is not to say they've been classics (think of his orangutan movies) but when entering a theater I can be reasonably confident, worst case scenario, of seeing something above average.
Eastwood has had several defined periods, such as his Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s and the cop pictures of the 70s and 80s (which arrived a bit late here in Mexico because "Dirty Harry" was censored). In a career that spans five decades and included dozens of features, a single splits it into Pre and Post, and that film is "Unforgiven." It's hard to think of a single feature that puts into perspective a filmmaker's career like this one does for Eastwood, and it opens the door to his current stage which has included some of his best work.
There's something fascinating about films with characters who have mastered a unique way of living their lives or professions, no matter how unusual or obscure, and the two best recent examples I can think of both star George Clooney. One of them is his Frequent-Flyer-Mileage-loving-liquidator in "Up in the Air" and the other is the title character of "Michael Clayton", the subject of this review.
Can any subject matter end up making a great movie?. That's the question that Siskel & Ebert's old review of "North" left me with many years ago. While Roger blasted the film's overall, twisted theme (if you don't like your parents, dump them and go get new ones), Gene dismissed this as the main problem by saying: "any subject can be done well".
One of the best things that can happen to a moviegoer is showing up expecting a standard genre film and ending up seeing something better. This was my experience with Roger Donaldson's "The Bank Job" which at first sight seemed like just another Hollywood caper movie in which the inevitable elements could be timed with a stopwatch.
One of my earliest and most memorable movie going experiences was Franklin Schaffner's 1968's "Planet of the Apes". It was presented in my grade school's Cine Club (sort of a small film festival that played one different, semi-recent movie every Saturday during a period of about a month). For weeks prior to the showing I was mesmerized by the publicity artwork which depicted a caged Charlton Heston being repressed by a gorilla. As an eight year old the movie originally struck me purely as a horror piece but it is the other "little things" that still compel me to write about it after all these years.
What's more, I believe "Planet of the Apes" with all of its different incarnations: original classic, sequels, remakes and TV adaptations, makes for a wonderful example of cinematic "dos and don'ts" At a glance the first entry in the series may seem like just another monster movie but this is hardly the case. It's too bad neither the majority of the filmmakers involved in the sequels, nor Tim Burton in his remake, were ever able to figure this out.
Is Frank Darabont's "The Shawshank Redemption" the best motion-picture of all time? According to Internet Movie Database users, that is exactly the case. The advent of the internet likely brought together the largest congregation of movie fans in history, ready to express their opinions in the most accessed movie data base ever, and the best rated film there is "The Shawshank Redemption."
This isn't something to take lightly, true, but there are peculiarities about the website's data that needs to be considered. If you've followed their rankings in the past you may have noticed that the response by users to recently released films tends to be more extreme than that of older ones, in other words, a recent good movie might initially appear with a higher rating and a bad one with a lower one; films only seem to reach their rightful place with the passage of time and particularly with the accumulation of a larger number of votes. Their opening weekend is not the most accurate of moments to evaluate what audiences really think about them.
A few film directors end up becoming masters of specific subjects. Scorsese grew up in an environment that allowed him to understand organized crime from the inside. Tarantino has a grasp on the language that some street people, their drugs of choice and their methods of use, and so on. Michael Mann is the Hollywood Epic Techno-Crime expert. Did he grow up with it? Did he research it? A few years ago, I came across an old 70s Starsky & Hutch episode which happened to be written by him; in it, a serial killer claimed to receive his murdering orders from outer space and wore a tin-foil pointy-shaped hat for just that purpose. This means I'm basically leaning towards research, but your guess is as good as mine.
Hi, this is Gerardo Valero and today I'd like to talk to you about "Changing Lanes" in which Ben Affleck plays the typical bright but self-absorbed, school-smart Yuppie who gets to marry the boss' daughter but his knowledge of the ways of the world are rather limited, specially since he's mastered the art of lying to himself all his life. His best friend and ex-lover played by the always excellent Toni Colette is much more self-aware than him but she doesn't have his ambitions, or simply put, she knows the ways of the world too well to want anything to do with what it would require from her, to take the next step in life. It is only because of her love for Banek that she tries to help him by providing ill-advised solutions to his problems, which despite her good intentions only make things worse.
Attending the latest James Bond films has been a tradition in my family ever since I can remember, and why not? If anybody went to the movies as often as we did, they were bound to get plenty of "B" grade turkeys, yet the years made clear that just about any 007 film would have something more to offer than most, at the very least those terrific production values. The first one I can recall going to was "Goldfinger" sometime around age 9, to one of those theatrical re-re-releases which were so common before the days of multiplexes and home video. I have to admit that what really motivated me to go see it back then was solely the possibility of being witness to the cinematic version of my old Corgi Aston Martin DB5 model car but, like most audiences, I found many facets which I had become familiar with, in other movies, being taken to a whole new level.
If one is to make a balanced judgment of Walter Hill's 1979 "The Warriors" it is crucial to view this film exactly for what it is, one of the most exhilarating and peculiar action films of the 1970s, famous for the riots it provoked but much closer to Greek mythology than to reality.
Clearly a cult classic, "The Warriors" can also be seen as simply a great "chase movie", sort of a concrete jungle's "Apocalypto." An unusual film even in today's terms, during times when we feel we've seen it all.
"The Warriors" follows the adventures of the group in what turns out to be a very bad night for them.