I recently saw the new crime drama "The Road to Perdition" starring Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump), Paul Newman (The Color of Money), Jude Law(A.I.)and Stanley Tucci (Conspiracy).   Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty), The Road to Perdition is based upon a 1998 graphic novel, of the same name, written by Max Allan Collins.  Tom Hanks plays Michael Sullivan an enforcer for crime boss John Rooney (Newman).  One night when Sullivan and Connor Rooney are out dealing with business, Rooney pulls a fast one and kills the guy that they're negotiating with.  Little do they know, Sullivan's eldest son Michael Jr. sees the man killed and is shocked to learn what his father does for a living.  Moments later, Sullivan and Rooney spot Michael Jr., and tell him to keep his mouth shut about what he saw.  Unfortunately, when John Rooney hears about Sullivan's son, he doesn't believe that he can keep a secret, and orders his son Connor to murder Sullivan and his family.  When he arrives at Sullivan's residence, he finds Sullivan's wife and youngest child.  In a heartbeat, they're gunned down.  Michael Sullivan and his eldest son aren't home when this occurs, but soon find out when they see their loved ones on the floor dead.  Sullivan takes his son to Chicago.  There he plans to join a crime family under Frank Nitti(Tucci) as a way of protection to avoid any harm to him and his son, but also as a way to track down the man who murdered his family.  Nitti doesn't let him in the family because he's really working with John Rooney under Al Capone.  After their meeting, John Looney and his son who were listening in the next room decide to have Michael and his son whacked.  They hire a photographer named Maguire(Law) who shoots dead bodies to do the job.   Sullivan then begins to fight against the Mafia by going to banks in Chicago and stealing the deposits that Al Capone has stored.  Later, he encounters Maguire and has a gun duel with him.  Both are hit but don't die.  Later on, he seeks his revenge by killing all those responsible in the death of his wife and child.  This film is just as good as one of those 1930 crime dramas with Cagney, Robinson, or Bogart.  The acting, story, dark and light hearted cinematography, and directing is top-notch.  My advice is to go see it because there won't be something this astounding for a long, long time.  
RATING: R for violence and language
LENGTH: 1 hr. 59 min.
RELEASE DATE: July 12th, 2002.
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Three years after the release of the second Austin Powers movie (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), Austin Powers returns to the screen in the third installment to the Austin Powers trilogy.  This time, Austin surprisingly arrests Dr. Evil and his clone ¾'s his size, Mini Me.  Soon after being sent to prison, Austin learns that a Dutch, skin-pealing villain named Goldmember has kidnapped his father Nigel Powers and sent him back to 1975.  Austin goes back in time to rescue his father.  Unfortunately, Goldmember escapes Austin, and takes his father back into the present time.  While in the groovy 1975 era, Austin teams up with his old flame Foxxy Cleopatra.  They go to present time to rescue Nigel Powers who is held captive by Dr. Evil who broke out of prison with Mini Me.  This movie is very funny, and like always Mike Meyers plays a variety of roles.  There are also many cameos from big stars including Kevin Spacey, Tom Cruise, Brittany Spears, Danny Devito, Gwyneth Paltrow, Steven Spielberg, The Osbornes, and many more.  My only, and huge complaint about this movie is that it's too much.  What I mean is that it's like frosting in a cake.  Frosting makes a cake sweet, but too much of it can make a cake too sweet to the point where it's unbearable.  Austin Powers: Goldmember is just like that.  There's too much humor and jokes to the point where it's unbearable.  Other cast includes Michael Caine (Nigel Powers), Seth Green (Scott Evil), Verne Troyer (Mini Me), Michael York (Basil Exposition), Beyoncé Knowles (Foxxy Cleopatra), Robert Wagner (#2), & Fred Savage (The Mole)







RATING: PG-13 sexual innuendo, crude humor and language..
LENGTH: 1 hr. 33 min.
RELEASE DATE: July 26th, 2002
Clint Eastwood stars in the murder, thriller Blood Work.  Based on the novel by Michael Connelly, Blood Work is about retired FBI profiler Terry McCaleb (Eastwood) who after two years off the job is approached by a woman who asks him to solve the murder of her sister.  Her dead sister happens to be the previous owner of the heart Terry was given from his heart transplant two years before.  Now Terry is on the job once again trying to solve one murder, which gradually turns out to be more than he expected.  He soon finds messages at the murder scenes addressed to him.  Terry realizes that these messages are the same messages from the killer he was hunting two years ago, "The Code Killer."   With the help of his neighbor (Jeff Daniels), and the sister of the dead woman whose heart beats within him (Wanda De Jesus), Terry is out hunting once again for a psychopath.  This is a great movie.  I definitely recommend seeing it.  The acting is exceptional, as well as the story.  My only two complaints about this movie are that it is too predictable early on in the film as to what happens, and the love scene between Eastwood and De Jesus is not necessary.  
RATING: R for violence and language.
LENGTH: 1 hr. 51 min.
RELEASE DATE: August 9, 2002
RATING: G
LENGTH: 3hrs 31mins.
RELEASE DATE: November 18, 1959
Winner of 11 academy awards including Best Picture and Actor, the 1959 version of Ben-Hur is truly one of the greatest movies ever created.  The film documents the epic story of the Judean prince, Judah Ben-Hur.  The film has a brilliant beginning with the birth of Christ, and a new sense of hope for the Jews.  In the next scene, years later in A.D. 26, the movie begins to focus on the protagonist of the film, Judah who returns to live with his family in Judea.  Judah's childhood friend Messala, a Roman, who is a Tribune returns to Judea after studying for five years in Rome.  Messala meets up with Judah and the two regain their friendship for a brief period of time until Messala asks Judah to turn his back on his people.  Conflict immediately erupts between the two.  Later, the Romans arrest Judah and his mother and sister after what appeared to be an assassination attempt on the Governor of Rome, but was only an accident.  The rapid transition from friend to foe between the two would normally seem clumsy or artificial in a movie; but in this movie it is handled very dramatically and is believable.  Judah is made into a slave while Messala receives political power in Rome. 
One of the most unforgettable scenes occurs when Judah is traveling in the dessert, chained up with other slaves.  All of the slaves, dehydrated and weak are offered some water.  When the water comes towards Judah, a Roman soldier denies him a sip.  Judah falls to the sandy ground and prays to god.  Then suspended over him is a holy man [Jesus Christ] with water.  Judah sips the water and regains his strength.  What makes this scene so powerful and buoyant is Judah's recognition of the fact that his life is not over and he still has hope.  Later, Judah is ordered to be a rower on a Roman battle ship.  Hell breaks lose when the Roman battle ship is attacked.  Judah who was ordered not to be chained up by a Roman commander escapes the burning ship, and rescues the commander who ordered him not to be chained.  The commander and him make it to land, and both become close friends.  The commander adopts Judah as his son. 
Eventually, Judah leaves Rome to find his family.  He travels back to his home and finds his old friend Esther and her father.  This scene is heart-warming because of the reunion between Judah and his friends.  Esther and her father seem to have lost all hope under the oppressive Roman occupation, but their spirits rise when they see Judah.  Eventually Judah meets an Arab chariot horse owner named Sheik Ilderim.  Judah impresses the Sheik with his knowledge of horses and lectures him on what is wrong with the way his horses are assembled during chariot races.  Judah offers to ride his chariot in a race against Messala at the Circus Maximus.  Judah explains that he wants vengeance on Messala for what he did to his family.  Sheik, concerned only for profits, blissfully agrees, and then shows Judah the horses that he will be riding.  This brings the first moments of comical relief.  Sheik begins talking to his horses as if they are his wives.  In fact, prior to showing Judah the horses, Sheik brags about having many loves which he says he will show to Judah.  Then when the audience suspects that some beautiful women are about to walk out from a curtain, we see four horses.  The comical relief is good because up until this point in the movie, it has been pretty much depressing.  Later, Judah goes to talk to Messala and demands that he release his mother and sister from the Roman prison.  Messala is surprised by the fact that Judah who was supposed to be this weak slave is now the adopted son of a great Roman commander.  A highlight of this scene is the expression on Messala face when Judah leaves him and he faces complex emotions of fear, remorse, pity and arrogance thinking about the fate of Judah's family and of his former friend.  Judah's mom and sister are released, but are horrifically deformed by Leprosy that has corrupted their bodies.  The mother and daughter travel to their home and find Esther.  Esther is happy and relieved when she hears their voices after so long, but her face full of glee quickly drops to grief when she sees the horrific appearance of the two.  Moments later Esther tells Judah that his mom and sister are dead so she can hide the horrible truth about the leprosy and stop Judah from competing in the chariot race against Messala.  But, Judah is full of rage, and now is even more determined to beat Messala in the race. 
In this movie, Judah starts off as a humble man but gradually changes into a man who cares only about revenge, and nothing else.  The most famous and exciting scene in this movie takes place next at the Circus Maximus, the chariot scene.  This scene took about a year to create and only was on film for twenty minutes.  Judah is prepared to race against several other charioteers one of which is Messala.  The Sheik notices metal spikes that are attached to the wheels of Messala's chariot.  He warns Judah to be extra careful during the race.  The chariot racers slowly travel a lap on their chariots around the arena.  The Roman ruler signals the chariot racers to begin, and all of them take off with rapid speed.  Several minutes go by and already several racers are knocked off their chariots presumably dead.  This whole scene is so suspenseful because the audience wants the heroic Judah to win the race, but that looks near to impossible when Messala mutilates Judah's chariot with his spikes.  Towards the end of the race Messala and Judah are riding neck to neck.  Suddenly, Messala's chariot gets destroyed, and he is hanging on by arms trying not to get trampled by another horse.  Unfortunately for him, another horse crushes his whole body.  Judah wins the race, and his honored as a god to the people of Rome.  The next scene shows Messala who is squirming with pain in his own blood.  Judah comes to talk to him.  Judah is full of bliss prior to seeing Messala.  When his eyes come in contact with the dying Messala, he is full of ire.  Before Messala dies, he tells Judah that his mother and sister are not dead but living in the valley of the Lepers.  Judah goes quickly to the valley to find them.  When he is there, he sees Esther who comes to give food to Judah's mom and sister.  Esther explains to Judah that the only reason she kept the truth of his family's fate from him was to protect him.  She wanted him to remember his family the way they were, and not the way they are.  Judah does not come in contact with his family, and instead goes home with Esther.  The two have a long talk about his family.  Judah gets angry during the conversation, and Esther tells Judah that he has turned into Messala.  His reaction to that is the equivalent of being stabbed in the heart and fed to the pigs.  The next day, Judah and Esther go to the valley of the Lepers to take his family, and take them to Jesus Christ to be healed.  Unfortunately, by the time they find Jesus, he is about to be crucified.  When he is crucified, all of his followers are peering at the mutilated body of their leader.  This scene is the saddest scene not only for Judah but also for everyone because now that the Jews have lost the Son of God, they have no one to protect them from the Romans and the other many dangers in the world.  After Jesus finally dies on the cross, it begins to rain, and Judah, Esther, Judah's mom, and sister seek shelter in a cave below Jesus's body.  The sky becomes pitch black in the middle of the day, and lighting strikes, God is sending a message.  Miraculously the two lepers in the cave are cured from their illnesses.  The next day, Judah, Esther, and his family live together happy and safe.  This movie definitely is one of my favorites.  It's clearly a beautiful movie that anyone can enjoy.  The acting, photography, and lines are wonderful.  Despite the fact that it is three and a half hours long, it is too exciting to stop watching.             
Winner of 11 academy awards including Best Picture and Actor, the 1959 version of Ben-Hur is truly one of the greatest movies ever created.  The film documents the epic story of the Judean prince, Judah Ben-Hur.  The film has a brilliant beginning with the birth of Christ, and a new sense of hope for the Jews.  In the next scene, years later in A.D. 26, the movie begins to focus on the protagonist of the film, Judah who returns to live with his family in Judea.  Judah's childhood friend Messala, a Roman, who is a Tribune returns to Judea after studying for five years in Rome.  Messala meets up with Judah and the two regain their friendship for a brief period of time until Messala asks Judah to turn his back on his people.  Conflict immediately erupts between the two.  Later, the Romans arrest Judah and his mother and sister after what appeared to be an assassination attempt on the Governor of Rome, but was only an accident.  The rapid transition from friend to foe between the two would normally seem clumsy or artificial in a movie; but in this movie it is handled very dramatically and is believable.  Judah is made into a slave while Messala receives political power in Rome. 
One of the most unforgettable scenes occurs when Judah is traveling in the dessert, chained up with other slaves.  All of the slaves, dehydrated and weak are offered some water.  When the water comes towards Judah, a Roman soldier denies him a sip.  Judah falls to the sandy ground and prays to god.  Then suspended over him is a holy man [Jesus Christ] with water.  Judah sips the water and regains his strength.  What makes this scene so powerful and buoyant is Judah's recognition of the fact that his life is not over and he still has hope.  Later, Judah is ordered to be a rower on a Roman battle ship.  Hell breaks lose when the Roman battle ship is attacked.  Judah who was ordered not to be chained up by a Roman commander escapes the burning ship, and rescues the commander who ordered him not to be chained.  The commander and him make it to land, and both become close friends.  The commander adopts Judah as his son. 
Eventually, Judah leaves Rome to find his family.  He travels back to his home and finds his old friend Esther and her father.  This scene is heart-warming because of the reunion between Judah and his friends.  Esther and her father seem to have lost all hope under the oppressive Roman occupation, but their spirits rise when they see Judah.  Eventually Judah meets an Arab chariot horse owner named Sheik Ilderim.  Judah impresses the Sheik with his knowledge of horses and lectures him on what is wrong with the way his horses are assembled during chariot races.  Judah offers to ride his chariot in a race against Messala at the Circus Maximus.  Judah explains that he wants vengeance on Messala for what he did to his family.  Sheik, concerned only for profits, blissfully agrees, and then shows Judah the horses that he will be riding.  This brings the first moments of comical relief.  Sheik begins talking to his horses as if they are his wives.  In fact, prior to showing Judah the horses, Sheik brags about having many loves which he says he will show to Judah.  Then when the audience suspects that some beautiful women are about to walk out from a curtain, we see four horses.  The comical relief is good because up until this point in the movie, it has been pretty much depressing.  Later, Judah goes to talk to Messala and demands that he release his mother and sister from the Roman prison.  Messala is surprised by the fact that Judah who was supposed to be this weak slave is now the adopted son of a great Roman commander.  A highlight of this scene is the expression on Messala face when Judah leaves him and he faces complex emotions of fear, remorse, pity and arrogance thinking about the fate of Judah's family and of his former friend.  Judah's mom and sister are released, but are horrifically deformed by Leprosy that has corrupted their bodies.  The mother and daughter travel to their home and find Esther.  Esther is happy and relieved when she hears their voices after so long, but her face full of glee quickly drops to grief when she sees the horrific appearance of the two.  Moments later Esther tells Judah that his mom and sister are dead so she can hide the horrible truth about the leprosy and stop Judah from competing in the chariot race against Messala.  But, Judah is full of rage, and now is even more determined to beat Messala in the race. 
In this movie, Judah starts off as a humble man but gradually changes into a man who cares only about revenge, and nothing else.  The most famous and exciting scene in this movie takes place next at the Circus Maximus, the chariot scene.  This scene took about a year to create and only was on film for twenty minutes.  Judah is prepared to race against several other charioteers one of which is Messala.  The Sheik notices metal spikes that are attached to the wheels of Messala's chariot.  He warns Judah to be extra careful during the race.  The chariot racers slowly travel a lap on their chariots around the arena.  The Roman ruler signals the chariot racers to begin, and all of them take off with rapid speed.  Several minutes go by and already several racers are knocked off their chariots presumably dead.  This whole scene is so suspenseful because the audience wants the heroic Judah to win the race, but that looks near to impossible when Messala mutilates Judah's chariot with his spikes.  Towards the end of the race Messala and Judah are riding neck to neck.  Suddenly, Messala's chariot gets destroyed, and he is hanging on by arms trying not to get trampled by another horse.  Unfortunately for him, another horse crushes his whole body.  Judah wins the race, and his honored as a god to the people of Rome.  The next scene shows Messala who is squirming with pain in his own blood.  Judah comes to talk to him.  Judah is full of bliss prior to seeing Messala.  When his eyes come in contact with the dying Messala, he is full of ire.  Before Messala dies, he tells Judah that his mother and sister are not dead but living in the valley of the Lepers.  Judah goes quickly to the valley to find them.  When he is there, he sees Esther who comes to give food to Judah's mom and sister.  Esther explains to Judah that the only reason she kept the truth of his family's fate from him was to protect him.  She wanted him to remember his family the way they were, and not the way they are.  Judah does not come in contact with his family, and instead goes home with Esther.  The two have a long talk about his family.  Judah gets angry during the conversation, and Esther tells Judah that he has turned into Messala.  His reaction to that is the equivalent of being stabbed in the heart and fed to the pigs.  The next day, Judah and Esther go to the valley of the Lepers to take his family, and take them to Jesus Christ to be healed.  Unfortunately, by the time they find Jesus, he is about to be crucified.  When he is crucified, all of his followers are peering at the mutilated body of their leader.  This scene is the saddest scene not only for Judah but also for everyone because now that the Jews have lost the Son of God, they have no one to protect them from the Romans and the other many dangers in the world.  After Jesus finally dies on the cross, it begins to rain, and Judah, Esther, Judah's mom, and sister seek shelter in a cave below Jesus's body.  The sky becomes pitch black in the middle of the day, and lighting strikes, God is sending a message.  Miraculously the two lepers in the cave are cured from their illnesses.  The next day, Judah, Esther, and his family live together happy and safe.  This movie definitely is one of my favorites.  It's clearly a beautiful movie that anyone can enjoy.  The acting, photography, and lines are wonderful.  Despite the fact that it is three and a half hours long, it is too exciting to stop watching.