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James P. Hunt (Oklahoma City, OK USA)

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Paper Chase
Paper Chase
DVD ~ James Bridges
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 93.65
7 used & new from CDN$ 56.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Bogus Hollywood Moment: Throwing Grades into Sea, Nov. 5 2003
This review is from: Paper Chase (DVD)
Yeah, great film, holds up well over the years. But no Harvard law student would have thrown his unopened grades into the ocean. Particularly one that was as dedicated and competitive as Hart. It would be like a lawyer trying a case and leaving the courtroom before hearing the verdict. One can understand and, in a mercenary way, perhaps admire Hart if he pretended not to care about the grades for the sake of impressing his erratic, anti-establishment/anti-hippy girlfriend. She doesn't make much sense, but she is cute and alluring. But to actually throw the grades into the sea? No.
Apart from that, the scenes of the workings of law school are pretty terrific. The characters of the study group are, for good and bad, very similar to people you actually find at law school. Particularly Bell. (By the way, did anyone notice that Hart's 3rd year advisor was Thirtysomething's Miles Drentell? He is exactly the type that would say, "Grades matter.") Yet, like lawyers themselves, they're not on the whole really awful people. Ford, the quintessential Harvard prepster, bails out James Naughton's character in class and even goes so far as to say that the subject is very difficult to understand. Hart himself is obviously very decent. And Kingsfield is meant to be feared, but moreover respected and admired.
So the romance is a bit unrealistic, but nothing approaching Ally McBeal silliness. That aside, it's a solid film worth seeing more than once.

Cannonball!
Cannonball!
by Brock Yates
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Money, Sept. 30 2003
This review is from: Cannonball! (Paperback)
I read this book in two days. Very interesting if you're a car buff; probably dull if you're not. I think it's unfortunate and sadly ironic that Yates never saw "The Gumball Rally" because that film captured the spirit of the Cannonball race far better than "The Cannonball Run" movie that he was involved in. But as Yates points out, that's not his fault. Burt Reynolds took over the film and pretty much ruined the whole thing. When you watch "Gumball", you know it's a film put together by people that love cars and respect people that like to race them, eg. the scene where they roar through the empty streets of Manhattan at six a.m. will make you wish you're there. "Cannonball" is just a very badly written, cheaply executed comedy. The cars are merely an afterthought. (If you really want to experience a nightmare, watch "Cannonball Run II" - probably one of the three worst movies released in the eighties.)
I hope Yates will change his mind and give "Gumball" a viewing. Yeah, they stole the idea from him, as the copyright laws allow, but the film demonstrates why the race had to have been so intoxicating.

Die Another Day (Full Screen Special Edition) [2 Discs]
Die Another Day (Full Screen Special Edition) [2 Discs]
DVD ~ Pierce Brosnan
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 17.09
63 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars The elements are there, but ...., June 13 2003
But the whole package doesn't seem to satisfy. What made the other Bond films succeed is not just the action, but the style. And it's getting increasingly hard to find style in the Bond series. There are some reasons for this:
First, Pierce Brosnan. Whatever else can be said about Roger Moore, it never really seemed like he was trying too hard: to be cool, ruthless, sexy, etc. With Brosnan, you always get the sense that he's trying too hard. His face grits and contorts and the viewer thinks, okay, we get it; you're a tough guy. Moore (who never really received the credit he deserved) understood that less was more.
Connery is, of course, Connery. And even George Lazenby was kind of funny. "This never happened to the other fellah." Timothy Dalton, I'll admit, lacked the presence necessary to the Bond franchise. But I'd rank Brosnan behind the rest.
Second, a lack of imagination. For example, in Die Another Day, I'd hoped for a bit of interesting, dark quirkiness when I saw Michael "Mr. Blonde" Madsen. But no, he was totally wasted and not one good line came out of him, I suspect, for fear that it would upstage Brosnan. Halle Berry was also pretty much wasted. Her portrayal as the American agent "Cleopatra Jones" like Jinx was one note and bordered on insulting. ("Your mama!")
And the foreplay dialogue between her and Bond was just witless. Grown people in the act of seduction simply do not talk like that. Even in a movie that's more or less fantasy, the dialogue should be believable. Contrast Berry and Brosnan's eye rolling "there's a mouthful" exchange with Connery and the beautiful French agent standing outside the chateau. She says, "Anything else our office can do for you?" And he looks at her as if she were a delectable meal and says with a sly grin, "Later, perhaps." One is subtle and chauvinistic and clever, and the other just makes you groan.
Third, the action.
Swordfight between Bond and badguy could have been better. The director should have studied the swordfight in "The Great Race"; I think it would have been more effective had it been more subtle and spent less time smashing things up. Also, it would have been more effective if Bond simply had not displayed any emotion throughout. As it was, the scene was okay though when badguy grabbed the Japanese sword and ran at Bond I couldn't help but think of those hilarious fights between Inspector Clouseau and Kato in the "Pink Panther" films.
There was something unsatisfying about the car chase too. Beautiful vehicles, but I wish it had been more raw. The gadgets, in my view, always endanger a decent car chase. Too much and it just becomes a matter of you show me yours, I'll show you mine. The best chases in the Bond series almost always don't involve gadget cars. Think of Moore driving the pathetic Citroen in "For Your Eyes Only". He uses his wits in dispatching the bad guys in their considerably more powerful Peugots. Or, picture that small chase with Bond in the stolen Alfa Romeo GTV6 in "Octopussy". Short, but pretty gripping. The problem with high tech Aston Martins is they put all the money and effort into building them and then they're forced to use them to the full in the film to justify the expense.
For my money, I rank the footchase in "For Your Eyes Only" where Bond runs up the steps in the tunnel to cut off the fellah trying to get away in the Mercedes 450SEL as one of the most well choreographed action scenes in all the movies. It ends with Bond catching the man, shooting him through the windshield, then booting him and his disabled car off the cliff. In so doing, it demonstrates what makes Bond Bond. Determined and ruthless when he needs to be. And the scene did not require the use of one gadget.
All in all, the Brosnan Bond films are not bad, per se. But they're lacking overall. I think the producers need to stop and think about changing the formula. In this one, they demonstrated some courage in putting Bond behind bars. But it didn't go anywhere from there. I think it's time for a "From Russia with Love" or "For Your Eyes Only" type bona-fide spy story.

Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)
Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)
DVD ~ Lucille Ball
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 58.26
13 used & new from CDN$ 7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a great comedy, April 27 2003
This review is from: Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) (DVD)
One can set up a debate between a Jesuit priest supporting the sanctity of life and the secularist dedicated to worldwide birth control, but perhaps the message of the beauty and mystery and wonder of family would be better delivered by this comedy than by a recitation of the catechism. Henry Fonda's character is right: nothing new has been written since "Fanny Hill".
A reviewer wrote that she was disappointed at the children's disrespect toward the adults. But I thought the children's less than perfect behavior was essential to the film and the film's message. Yeah, having children, be it three or eighteen, is a burden. There's no guarantee they'll be grateful for the sacrifices you make for them or that they'll allow you to have any sort of life of your own. The children in the film are not angels. Few are. Indeed, I would argue they're rather normal, with the scales leaning heavily toward good. They're bratty, tender, difficult, warm, self-centered and giving. That's the beauty of life and humanity and it's more or less what Fonda tried to explain to Lucy's oldest daughter when she questioned him about sex. "You tell him that this is what it's all about."
Notice how the film places a certain amount of focus on Tim Matheson's character. Early on, he spikes Lucy's drink and then giggles as she humiliates herself. (Shades of the "Otter" character he would play ten years later.) But eventually he decides that she's not so bad - at about the time, not coincidentally, that he's becoming a man - then he accepts her and, being a natural leader like his father, persuades his siblings to elect her "our mother, for life".
That scene, indeed the whole film, would not have worked had the children been so unrealistically and quickly accepting of the stepmother. As it's played and as it's written, it comes off without the sense of being false or manipulative. Not an easy thing to do in film.
Without meaning any disrespect, I feel a certain amount of pity for the reviewer that grew up in Germany and wrote that they considered families of four or more "trash". (For the sake of Germany, I hope that's not true.) To each his own, I suppose. But if you can't appreciate this film and it's celebration of life and humanity, I'm not sure what you can enjoy. I will say that people that come from large families almost always laugh more than people that do not.
Still, I would not label "Yours, Mine and Hours" family values propaganda. Had that been the intention, there would not have been the classic drunk scene nor the part where a somewhat randy Fonda tells the parking valet, "Keep the motor running." I don't believe they were trying to do anything but tell a warm, funny story. They succeeded tremendously.

Pied Piper
Pied Piper
by Nevil Shute
Edition: Paperback
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable, April 26 2003
This review is from: Pied Piper (Paperback)
In college I went to a used book store to buy Shute's "On the Beach". They didn't have it, so I bought "Pied Piper" as a consolation. I've read it three times since. Tremendous novel. An aeronautical engineer by training, Shute was a gifted storyteller and writer. Piper is well paced, has many stories within the story of bringing the children back to England - a man coping with old age, feelings of uselessness, the loss of a son; the formation of a deep friendship with the woman his son left behind, and so forth. Shute hits on the timeless themes of courage, fortitude, self-sacrifice, forgiveness etc. without ever coming close to being maudlin. There are no unnecessary speeches from men standing on a hilltop talking about "what it's all for". As John Howard says, while in custody, to the German officer who tells him he must be a very brave man, "No, not a brave man. Just a very old one."
For the record, I think it was made into a movie twice. Once with Monty Wooley playing Howard and then again for television - mid eighties, perhaps - with Peter O'Toole playing the role. Still, as the story is so marvelous, it should be done again for the big screen. Considering Anthony Hopkins's performance in "The Remains of the Day" (which was superior to the entertaining but far less nuanced Hannibal Lecter), I think he would be perfect to play Howard, putting the perfect cap on his career.

Spy Game
Spy Game
VHS
10 used & new from CDN$ 0.62

2.0 out of 5 stars Well, at Least the Porsche Looks Cool, Dec 5 2002
This review is from: Spy Game (VHS Tape)
Couple of problems: First, one cannot help compare the movie with Redford's "Three Days of the Condor" which was about a thousand times better.
Second, I agree with the other reviewers who can't understand why we should feel sympathy with Brad Pitt because he's fallen in love with a British leftist who is openly sympathetic to terrorists, if not one herself. And for that reason, they can't understand why Redford would risk everything he has - life savings, career, et.al. - to save him. Wasn't Redford's character right the first time?
Ask yourself this: if the British terrorist had not been played by the beautiful, soft skinned Catherine McCormack but rather by Roseanne Barr, would you sincerely believe that she was worth breaking out of prison? Call that remark cruel if you like, but remember that it's Tony Scott who's truly insulted the viewers by suggesting that murderous, terrorist tactics are not so bad so long as the girl supporting them looks good and says things like, "and I have to live with that."
Still, the scene at the end with Redford racing the vintage Porsche off the CIA grounds is pretty cool. But cool scenes, cool cars and cool sportcoats can't complete a film.

Dark Passage [Import]
Dark Passage [Import]
VHS
3 used & new from CDN$ 23.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Not Outstanding, but Still Fun, March 14 2002
This review is from: Dark Passage [Import] (VHS Tape)
I suppose it was a risk not showing Bogie's face until an hour into the film and the plot is not at all credible, but so what? The film still more or less works, and it's fun to sit through. The initial scene with the cabbie alone is worth the price of admission. Great dialogue - "still, I like goldfish" - well delivered by D'Andrea. It's a testament to Bogie that he would allow the scene to be dominated by a very talented character actor. In that way, Bogie was sort of like Paul Newman. They're both marvelous actors who liked to surround themselves with other marvelous actors so that everybody looks good.

Dragon
Dragon
by Clive Cussler
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
65 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beneath Cussler, March 10 2002
This review is from: Dragon (Mass Market Paperback)
I read "Deep Six" and "Cyclops" and "Raise the Titanic" when I was in college. I thought the plots were absurd and the characterizations cartoonish, but no more so than any found in a James Bond film. Mostly, these books were fun reads (and arguably better written than Ian Fleming's stuff). Pitt appreciated cars and babes and the action scenes were well drawn. So the years passed and I aged and along came "Dragon". I picked it up to recapture that old feeling. Unfortunately, it was junk.
What was the problem? Well to start with, there was the thinly veiled racist undertone to the whole thing. The premise: "Japs" were out to "colonize" our country. Though many believed this nonsense in the late eighties - otherwise intelligent people thought "they" were getting too powerful, though the Japanese barely had the means to conquer anyone, let alone America - and though any action writer needs a set of bad guys, it was beneath Cussler to give into this impulse, whether or not it was popular. (Note: I've read interviews and autobiographical work by Cussler and I do not think he's a bigot. I only think that, in writing this book, he allowed himself to get caught up in what was then, unfortunately, a somewhat fashionable resentment.) The Russians Cussler drew were cardboard thugs and criminals too; but there was some truth underlying the caricatures. The Breshnev Doctrine had essentially said that whatever was not Communist was theirs for the taking and that whatever was Communist was to remain so. Ronald Reagan said that this sort of doctrine was contemptuous of freedom and human rights and was the mark of an evil empire, and people like myself thought he was right to say so.
But Ross Perot and others were wrong to apply the same argument (albeit indirectly) to the Japanese. The Japanese didn't have such evil designs. In any event, Clive Cussler's premise made it difficult to enjoy what might have been a decent book. Think of it this way: a comedian does a stand-up that is genuinely clever and funny, but before he gets into the meat of his act, he says something that is undeniably racist or ugly or offensive. You're going to be hard pressed to enjoy the performance because of that initial impression.
But even if you could show that my accusation of xenophobia is unfounded and unfair, the book still doesn't work. There are no memorable action scenes. I remember getting excited when Pitt and his pals first realized they were being followed by a van full of Ninjas because I thought I was in for a great action scene only to be quickly disappointed when it ended in an absurd, almost immediate gundown after - ready? - Pitt and his pals smash their vehicle into a sporting goods store conveniently filled with guns. There was such potential there for meaty, suspenseful action, and Cussler let it go. I remember reading such flat scenes and wondering if Cussler's heart was really in this book.
Maybe the time passes and we outgrow Dirk Pitt, maybe not. But either way, pass this one by.

Cactus Flower [Import]
Cactus Flower [Import]

5.0 out of 5 stars Leanord Maltin is Wrong, Jan. 2 2002
This review is from: Cactus Flower [Import] (VHS Tape)
This comedy is not thin. It has absolutely no sag, a good and actually believable storyline, likable and believable characters, great acting, and it's very funny. This is what they mean when they say they don't make comedies like this anymore. Written at a time when Hollywood did not presume that the audience only needed a display of bodily fluids and lame story lines to be satisfied.
The film demonstrates another point: the great comedic actors don't try to be funny. They just act. I don't know if Walter Mathau ever won an Oscar, but if he didn't he would be, like Cary Grant, one of the greatest actors never to have done so. He was not only a great comedy actor ("Cactus Flower", "Odd Couple" and "A New Leaf"), but could quite convincingly play a thug ("Strangers When We Meet") and a tough, no-nonsense cop ("The Laughing Policeman").
In this film, he's brilliant as always. With all respect to the new 20 million dollar a film generation, could Adam Sandler play the role of Julian Winston without simply playing, oh, Adam Sandler?
Ingrid Bergman is incredible. And by that, I mean incredibly sexy. You have no difficulty whatsoever seeing why Walter Mathau eventually picks her over a 21 year old Goldie Hawn. And you fully understand why the much younger man nuzzles her neck while dancing with her. While watching the film, I kept reminding myself that it had been made 25 years after "Casablanca" and yet there she was, still looking smashing.
So yeah, it's "dated". Were that more contemporary Hollywood comedies, maybe even one, were so dated.

Spencerville
Spencerville
by Nelson DeMille
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.55
92 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars When Does the Story Start?, June 5 2001
I just can't finish this book. I'm probably two thirds the way through it and the story still hasn't kicked in. I guess there's this man who moves back to his hometown for reasons that are not at all believeable who gets in something of a confrontation with the local police chief who's married to his high school sweetheart. That's the premise and perhaps not an irretrievably bad one, but when does the story begin? Perhaps unfairly, I couldn't help comparing the story to Elmore Leonard's "Valdez is Coming." There's a story of vengeance between a strong man and the town's local kingpin bully. Valdez not only stands up to the town's boss, but also steals his woman. It's perfectly paced and well told; the action scenes are very cool and macho; and at no time is at unbelievable. In short, it's everything that Spencerville is not.

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