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John’s Hall of Fame

My most essential movies. You’ll see plenty of four-star reviews around these parts, but John’s Hall of Fame represents the best of the best.

The Departed Review

The Departed Review

RATING: (4 STARS) “The Departed” is director Martin Scorsese’s best work since “Taxi Driver.” Yeah, I said it. I think this film is better than “Goodfellas” and “Raging Bull.” In fact, for a long time, this film was my standard answer for the dreaded “What’s your favorite movie?” question. I no longer hold it in […]

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Review

RATING: (4 STARS) After two phenomenal films, Peter Jackson and the crew for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” had a lot to live up to. It’s hard to believe what an accomplishment this film is. What could they do that wasn’t in the first two movies? I asked myself that […]

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Often, the second in a trilogy is the strongest of the bunch. Look at “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Spider-Man 2.” Other times, they are the worst in the series. For proof of this, look at the other Star Wars trilogy and its subpar entry, “Attack of the Clones.” The “Lord of […]

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Review

RATING: (4 STARS) When New Line Cinema executives agreed to bankroll this massive project, to be filmed in New Zealand by a relatively unheralded director, they were risking their entire company. Sure, J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is beloved by many around the world, but plenty of folks in the know at […]

Requiem for a Dream Review

Requiem for a Dream Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Requiem for a Dream, Darren Aronofsky’s sophomore effort and his best film to date, is an unshakable cry in the dark, a stern and impassioned warning about the dangers of addiction and the depths one will go to for another fix. It’s an extreme film, but it’s also as powerful as any […]

Chinatown Review

Chinatown Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Chinatown is an undeniable classic from a true master of cinema, Roman Polanski. An important (perhaps the definitive) entry into the “neo-noir” subgenre, the film also marks a turning point in Jack Nicholson’s career and the high point of director Roman Polanski’s. It’s a brilliant film, everything a good noir film should […]

United 93 Review

United 93 Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Perfectly capturing the chaos of the defining moment of my generation, “United 93” is not about the events of September 11, 2001 per se. Instead, it celebrates the human spirit. It’s a phenomenal achievement, a film of unparalleled power and emotion. I named the film my favorite from the last decade. A […]

Magnolia Review

Magnolia Review

RATING: (4 STARS) After the critical and financial success he had with “Boogie Nights,” New Line essentially gave P.T. Anderson the freedom to do anything he wanted. The result is “Magnolia,” a picture that wouldn’t have been made, couldn’t have been made, without such freedom. This is a bold motion picture, a 3-hour tale about […]

The Bridge on the River Kwai Review

The Bridge on the River Kwai Review

RATING: (4 STARS) “The Bridge on the River Kwai” is a fascinating look at war, its rules, and the madness often required to follow them. What is the responsibility of a prisoner-of-war? Should he follow the orders of his captors and work to assist their cause? Or should he sabotage their efforts by any means […]

Double Indemnity Review

Double Indemnity Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Everyone knows film noir. Film fans have enjoyed (or been subjected to, depending on your tastes) its conventions for decades. From Humphrey Bogart’s famous line, “It’s the stuff dreams are made of” in The Maltese Falcon through the present day’s machinations of film noir, like the twisted noir-comedy Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, […]

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