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Not a fan of The director since Unbreakable. It was slightly above average but no whee near the quality of The Sixth Sense. I don't know why I keep watching his movies, probably hoping one will be the same extraordinary quality. With all the pre-release buzz I thought this was finally that movie.
I was so disappointed. I rated it slightly lower than Unbreakable. I don't know exactly where it where it went off the rails, but it never held my attention (and I'm not ADHD- I sit though three hours of a good bio pic.
A good part of this was the girls trying asinine ways to escape; at other time we see McAvoy play several personalities half heartily. After all the award talk I expected a much better and diverse McAvoy. Sadly, just like the majority of Night's films he has his actors perform methodically. It actually felt McAlvoy was pushing his talents against the brick wall of what the director wanted.
He wasn't the only actor who underplayed the role. So did the doctor and the three teenage girls. First, after all these late night calls for extra appointment why didn't she get upset earlier or pull a personality up (which she has stated she can do) to discover the emergency instead of A casual bye--you-leave when another dominant personality shows up to the appointment.
I rate this in the same category of Nights's films except the quality Sisth Sense and Devil, which he did not direct and only wrote the original story,
As for,the ending, I felt it was a cheap shot. If the point was they are in the same time, the message came across far too,strong. If it is a hint to an Unbreakable 2 I'll pass and see another big screen feature.
The Business of Recovery (2015)
First, I want to make it clear many people do receive help from the twelve steps. That said scientific studies prove it is no more effective than Congitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and less effective than the two combined and much less effective than simply quitting. I am all for multiple options being available to a person seeking help from an addiction.
When I first saw this title I declined to view it as the subject can be upsetting. Having had a parent who was one of the majority that was not successful in concurring her addiction (although she later naturally aged out and had several years of sobriety before her unrelated early death.) Another close friend I lost after two stays at Betty Ford didn't notice he was a manic depressive. So with trepidation I sat down expecting a lot of 12 step cheerleading. How wrong I was.
This factual documentary interviews addicts who have and have not been helped in their addictions along with caring family, professionals with vested interests in rehabs, the President of an alternative non-profit recovery method SMART Recovery founded by the psychologist and founder of CBT Albert Ellis.
I was shocked at what I saw the "help" these rehabs offer for their expensive price tags. I firmly believe this documentary would help many families as they struggle to find help for their or a family member receive the help they need for addiction.
A journey back in time
As I sat down to write this review I was going to give this a 9. I started my mental list of issues with this film. I couldn't find one issue against this film and not one. It's very hard for me to score a ten (except Gone With the Wind), I rate on the low end generally. So here's what I was thinking
Cinematography- Check Costumes-check Casting- check, Plot- check, direction-check, Acting-check Strong emotions without being manipulative - check
When I go to the cinema I have a choice - a movie or a film. With this I expected a movie, I ended up seeing a film. This should be shown in film courses. It reminds me of Chinatown. It transports you to the place where the screen takes you, and when characters cry their makeup runs.
Making a Murderer (2015)
Great entertainment but nothing more
After watching this film I felt Avery was guilty as charged. This was before I did reading on all the damaging evidence mentioned in passing if at all by the filmmakers. It felt more like an extremely long episode of DatelineNBC instead of the first Paradise Lost film on the West Memphis Three. Unlike the Thin Blue Line, Making A Murderer doesn't show us there was very little evidence in Avery's case that would have exonerated him. DNA of his inside both her car and on the hood. The *69 calls to the victim to hide his number on the day of the murder. A key found several days after the initial searches of his residence. Evidence missed is not unusual, several key pieces that tied Manson's family to the Tate murders were found on subsequent searches. Lack of fingerprints? Profiler John Douglas wrote it's Mike rarer than one thinks to find identifying fingerprints at crime scenes; this while he was still with the FBI. After finishing this series I did some investigation and found even more evidence than covered in the film. On the other hand, I do believe there is a good chance his mentally slow cousin was fed his false confession.
If you like true crime I think you will really enjoy this for the entertainment value. It's not as depressing as My Brother's Keeper.
For entertainment value- 9 stars For being so biased on the "railroading" of Avery I give it 4 stars.
I rated my average down as by the eighth show I was beginning to lose interest.
This is my type of film...what went wrong?
I caught this on Netflix tonight and was extremely disappointed. I understand the choice of grainy footage. It worked as well as the experimental bleached film did in Three Kings, which considering is in my top ten movies, says a lot. The ethical dilemmas throughout this film, until the final one, are realistic. Some doctors will bend the rules and play *wink wink nod nod* if a person can have lifesaving treatment in another country with a different set, or unenforced, rules as the child's Doctor did in this film. The mother opening up Harrison's (played expertly by Sam Shepard) medicine cabinet and the father confronting him on the golf course by mentioning the medications found which were all for post-transplant patients.
Suddenly the father starts on what appears to be a wild goose chase to find Harrison's surgeon went on far too long. Most of us know by now how dangerous that area of Mexico is.
While the mother is driving down to Mexico with ailing daughter, with a week left to live, in tow we finally feel some urgency. The ending from there is a let down.
*spoiler* Once the street urchin was run over by the transplant surgeon's ordered motorcycle arrives at the hospital and has his chest open, along with a leg needing amputating, his chances of survival are very low. Yet suddenly the dying girls father has an ethical moment and allows his daughter to die so this child may, although in reality unlikely, live a full life. At the end we see him with a very western prosthesis with the other children living on the street. We also see the American couple bury their daughter . The mother, not forgiving the father, walks away from the funeral with anger at her husband. The husband, having taken the high road, is more comfortable with her death as a natural progression of her terminal disease.
I'm sorry. Although not a parent, if I had the chance to save my child's life by transplanting the organs of a murdered child who already lost a leg and chest pried open my child would have his organs in a heartbeat. Not for the reason I believe the attempted murder was wrong: that wouldn't be a factor. I would accept the donated organ for the simple reason both children likely will die. Why not save one life?
Dark Hearts (2014)
Even better than Finding Melissa
I didn't expect much from this, I'm honestly not a sequel person. The fact I can now stream it was my deal breaker and I figured I'd watch the 8 short freebie scions to make up my mind.
By the time I was done my credit card was out to pay for the season pass. I am not disappointed. It appears the budget is a bit larger as there are more extras in scenes (the mental hospital comes to mind).
Yes, the delivery method will make you wait in anticipation for each next chapter. Never fear! If you re watch earlier chapters small things have changed.and there is also a bulletin board to discuss each session.
I'm picky about my horror films, this is a keeper.
The Cure (2014)
Cure for cancer(s)
First, this film is based on a false premise to anyone who had a family member with cancer. It is actually over 100 diseases, most of which the causes are unknown. That's why chemotherapy is so hard on the body. It has to kill both healthy and unhealthy cells. In addition, many of the drugs are dozens of years past their patent. Now imagine that in fact a drug did exists that would cure everything from the ranges starting at childhood leukemia progressing to prostate and breast cancers. Any company in their right mind would want to make the trillions a drug like this would be worth. Not to mention that in 7 years they could release an extended form like Ambian did with Ambian CR to avoid secondary cancers from the initial chemo and so on to extend the patent.
The acting is sub-par, only the female lead shows future promise. This is the first full length feature by Gould who wrote/directed/produced this film. With the pounding music I wonder if he also did the sound editing as well.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Could not stop laughing
It was the first cool day since the record breaking heat here in Southern California's January. I decided to take a risk and watch this on Amazon Prime. I'm not sorry I did.
You have a narrator who purposely can't narrate his own story (Downey Jr), Val Kilmer (underrated in my opinion), and the female lead. In the woman they did not make her a bimbo except when it was in her best interest to appear this way. The sexual themes were there but didn't slow down the plot long enough to get that soda refill in the theater.
So many things had me laughing out loud but the scene of the dog taking an item from the ice was one of my favorites.
This isn't a full laugh out loud movie, although it has its times. What it is is a film that makes your insides smile.
Just poor all around
When this film came out I was attending one of the most liberal universities in America. In a required course for those of us planning on a basic Liberal Arts degree we were assigned to see it. None of us found it informative past some basics and all of us questioned the facts as they were presented in such a biased tone. This was a critical thinking course that bought Inconvient Truth hook, line & sinker.
When handing back our papers the teacher noted only one of us graded it above a 5/10. Interestingly the woman who graded it a 6 was our classes token member of the Religious Right.
Without spending hours breaking down the details this film never dealt with the forced separation in Cuba of those with HIV (great health care though) and the portion about Canada does not match what I've heard in antidotal stories.
Unlike Bowling for Columbine which although as much a propaganda piece, this wasn't even entertaining.
The John Larroquette Show (1993)
Until yesterday I hadn't seen this show since it originally aired when I was a teen. When I found season 1 on line I am in heaven. This dark comedy was far ahead of its time so like WKRP it's so good I'm happy to have a crappy streaming copy from an aging VHS tape.
The fact I've kept looking all these years later speaks volumes as I'm not a sitcom fan. Season 1 is a gem. Sadly like Dirty, Sexy, Money they made too many changes in an attempt to reach the main sitcom audience. Season 1 was so excellent I still give the series an A. If you are like me keep an eye out for this dark comedy. You won't be disappointed
The basic premise is a man decides he's going to stop drinking and begins a New life as a manager of an inner city bus terminal. This is an ensemble cast despite the name
Looking for Lenny (2011)
After watching this film for a second time, I still don't feel I've watched the same film as the other reviewers. Generally I'm more critical then other people that have viewed certain films. Not in this case.
This film discusses the influence of Lenny Bruce on the free speech as it pertains to comedy, and our reactions to it.
This film is never lost in what it wants to be. Élan Gale knows and he drives is from point A to point B until the credits finish running at the end. It's available on Netflix Streaming. It's definitely worth your hour and ten minutes.
Eviction Day (2012)
Raised questions but no answers
This short film probes a subsection of the homeless population in Ventura City on the riverbed. They were to be evicted in September 2012, after the film was made.
This documentary short interviews people on all sides of the spectrum from the Surftider Foundation to the chronically homeless. The basic question of where these people will go was not answered. Instead we see the many obstacles in their way to reintegration into society. Also many if not all of the homeless on the riverbed chose this lifestyle.
This film doesn't bite off more than it can chew in discussing the issue but you can bet I'm going to Google once I finish this review to see how it is turning out.
Different from other Khmer Rouge Films
For me, there are other films that deal with the full atrocities of the Khmer Rouge I would have watched one of them. Instead I wished to view the first hand accounts of guards and survivors, and this is what the film gave me.
It doesn't make this a good or bad film on this basis alone, I'm simply explaining on the criteria which I'm judging it.
Bringing together 2 of the 3 surviving prisoners, a few guards, and a doctor from the death factory of S21 to show one of several face to face encounters they have shared, we get the chance to have a front row seat to what they experienced. There were several mentions of these gatherings, plural, that it is clear this is not something the filmmaker took upon himself for the sake of the audience.
We hear of the punishments, the torture, and most upsetting to me the fact the they were coerced and beaten, sometimes treated medically so they would survive the torture until they would give a confession. Yet all admit the confessions were for the simple reason the prisoners were executed. This sent shivers down my spine.
The beginning scene to me was like a scene in a modern motion picture: it frames how we will view the rest of the footage. It succeeded very well on this extent.
I marked this film slightly lower than perfect for two reasons. The first is that there was no outside footage, except for a Kampuchea Loyalty song. Since this was the only outside influence I recall, it threw me out of the context when it played. Second a few scenes would have been handled better in a longer, slightly shorter single scene. The two separate daytime examples one guard gave of his behavior to called prisoners would have really benefited from this treatment. It also would have allowed the single nighttime example this guard gave of his treatments to these walking-dead men and women an added punch.
Overall, still an excellent film, as was Shoah which took the same technique. Don't expect a primer on the Khmer Roige, there are plenty of good ones around.
Seoul Train (2004)
Life changing film
I watched this in between Crossing The Line and National Geographic Explorer: Inside South Korea. Now I'm viewing Camp 41: Total Control Zone about life in one camps. I want to know more about the places these poor people went. In every interview I think of the North Koreans forced back by China.
I chose this film on another's recommendation in the users comments in Crossing and I'm not sorry I did. It is not, however, a film you want to go to sleep right after. Nothing is tied in a pretty bow. Just the opposite in fact. This film studies the North Koreans who escape across the border with China. China, fearing a refugee crisis, sends them back although the punishment is abusive at best, fatal very often as defecting is a capital offense in their home country.
As a consequence an Underground Railroad of sorts is run in China between it and Mongolia. This film follows two of the groups. One to Mongolia, another who attempts to defect via the Japanese consulate. Through the filmmaker we follow the results, as best we can. It's heart wrenching. I read on the message boards one IMDb member jointed Annesty International after viewing this and is active a number of years later. This is that kind of film. You will be changed in someway once you've seen it. Even if it is only to perk up your ears when North Korea is mentioned on the nightly news
Who Killed Nancy? (2009)
This is not as much of a who-did-it as it is a profile of Sid and Nancy. If you take it as that, its very good. I've seen several films that detail their lives, but this one is the best.
Clocking at about 100 minutes, this film has an excellent soundtrack that will take you back to the time of Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols.
After viewing this documentary, you may not know who killed Nancy but you will feel this need to take a shower after being exposed to a lot of seedy people who knew Sid and Nancy at the time of their deaths.
If you are interested in Punk Rock or just looking to pass a couple hours, you'll be pleased with "Who Killed Nancy?"
Black Swan (2010)
Good for what it is.
Saw this film tonight, and was impressed. This story of a woman (Portman) who is overtaken by the evil black swan as she prepares for her first performance as a principal dancer was quite frightening at times.
Barbara Hershey (botox and all) did a great job as the stage mother in this film.
Although this is by no means a Oscar level film (I was very surprised to see it nominated) Portman does give an Oscar winning performance in the lead.
A little above a popcorn movie I highly recommend this film to all lovers of dance.
In many ways it captures the behind the scenes look and feel of what I saw with women who trained with the hopes of a professional dancing career with the twist of a woman who has gone beyond the normal stressors of someone under this type of pressure.
Pushing Tin (1999)
Not what expected but good
Saw this as I was in the mood for a comedy. It was a rainy day and I needed to be uplifted. Wrong move.
For me, this was a heavy handed drama with workplace humor. When you are dealing with a job as stressful as air traffic controllers, these jokes can be funny. In context, to many on the outside world they are also sick and sad at the same time.
The plot is more a device to move the character of Nick "No Fly" Falzone through the movie. Billy Bob Thornton's character Russell Bell is never fully developed, making him two dimensional.In no way is his character equal to Nick, no matter how the movie poster and ads portray him.
To get an idea of how "funny" this movie is, within the first ten minutes we have Mrs. Falzone (Cate Blanchett) being asked by her husband "You're happy, aren't you Connie?". Half an hour into it we see the controllers getting "liquored up" at a bar-b-que while the wives discuss dealing with the grinding jaws of their husbands.
By the time Russell and Nick are requesting more planes, and Russell gets the 747 you can see where this movie is going. Yeap, Russell is going to move Nick outside of his comfortable place in life.
This film doesn't tie itself in a pretty little bow. If you are looking for that, I recommend another film. If you are in the mood to see a tiny slice of the life of an aircraft controller, you might want to try Pushing Tin.
Brother's Keeper (1992)
Just misses the mark...
The fact I even started writing this in my head before the verdict should tell you something. I am a documentary fan and so when this Academy Award winner showed up as available to watch on Netflix instant queue (generally filled with good documentaries) I grabbed it.
Why seven stars then? This movie was that close to that many marks I just didn't have the heart to knock it down to six. I loved meeting the people of the town, especially the effected brothers. The big city vs. rural had a grab to it.
What is wrong with this film then? It tried just that little too hard for me, and that caused it to fall farther than if it hadn't placed itself their in the first half hour.
Over all, an excellent movie. Just expect a rather quick ending.
The Box (2006)
Highly recommend The Box
Originally, I hit the "Watch It!" button simply because the story of The Box is based off of a Richard Matheson story, and I generally like his tales. It was a smart move.
This eighteen minute film brought the story of a mysterious box to the masses. In Kvon Chen's version, We spend the first third of the film meeting our main character through his viewpoint of society. The hobo then finds a dumpster filled with food and other items. He also comes across "the box".
This box is where the mysterious story begins to play out on our screens. Suffice to say, Chen is able to bring a more modern view of Matheson's Button, Button to audiences while keeping the original material sacrosanct.
This film is minimalistic. There is very little speaking roles, and the few words are important. The sound effects, especially in the first half of the film, are too too strong in tone. This may be from my ears adjusting to the lack of unnecessary background noise.
This film is a perfect example that one does not need to have an extensive budget to make a wonderful film with a great twist ending. I am planning on watching this again when I recommend it to a friend this evening.
Easy Rider (1969)
I haven't seen this film in several years. Although it was released the year I was born, I still enjoy it. With the odd, almost clean-cut Captain America and more anti-social Billy the audience travels across the country on their motorcycles showing America through the intoxicated eyes of both of them.
Jack Nicholson shines. As a "square" he soon shows that for all the differences people are the same (the way he reaches for his flask just as naturally as the counter-culture reached for their joints).
This movie opened the door for directors to take quite a bit of power away from the producers in the industry. The importance of Easy Rider is documented in the book and documentary "Easy Rider, Raging Bulls" as well as "Outrageous Conduct: Art, Ego and the Twilight Zone Case". In fact, it was the second book that brought me back to watch Easy Rider. I wanted to see the importance of this influence in the late 70's and early 80's Hollywood.
Back to the film, it comes from the same time period as Midnight Cowboy. If you didn't like this film there is a good chance you won't enjoy Easy Rider.
It is not a story as much as a story of the character's current situation. Not their life before, nor their influence on others, or even a resemblance of a plot driven movie. It's what a call a "Film Film"...that is a film that is just that, a film. Not a show or a story.
This is not for a time when you want to watch a conventional film, but if you want to take a journey with some strange characters, this is your film.
The Happening (2008)
More wooden than Pinocchio
I have followed this film since the first copy of the script was leaked out on the internet. I had high hopes that once it went through a few rewrites it would actually be a good film. I had been disappointed by Lady in the Water and The Village, and wanted to see another quality movie by the man behind The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.
To say I was disappointed by The Happening is the understatement of the year. The original script was actually better than the film. It gives the term "B-Movie" a bad name.
The wooden acting destroyed this film. Wahlberg plays a high school teacher. His character is beyond wooden. He just recites his lines. I am surprised he took this role. He'll be lucky if it doesn't set his acting career behind eight years. Zooey Deschanel's Alma is not any better.
MNS is known to work his actors hard in rehearsals prior to filming. He wants to make sure they will give the presentation he wants to see on the screen. This leads me to believe the horrible acting was done on purpose. The poor execution of the script also led me to this conclusion.
Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964)
My kind of movie...This B Movie is
My grandfather grew up in Chicago during the time period represented in this film. As a child, I remember him singing My Kind of Town(Chicago is). I saw it once as a teen and loved it, so when it came out on DVD I went out and bought it. I was wondering if it was as good as I remember. It was actually better.
The fact it is a B-movie speaks of the quality of films back in the 60s, not the lack of quality of this film.
I'm not a Rat Pack fan, but I love Robin and Seven Hoods. It has just the right touch of comedy, music, and great ending.
I knocked it down one point for the lengthy Bang...Bang! but yet I always find myself singing along with Sammy Davis Jr.
Just try to get this on DVD, as they often cut a couple of the better numbers on TV(such as Don't be a Do-Badder) that add to the plot.
Not as unbiased as you would think
This episode of the show was very biased. You get an idea by the introduction when Bill Kurtis mentions that Pscyhiatrists are the ones attacking the Church of Scientology, not visa versa.
It went downhill from there. There are brief mentions of the negative press that was unavoidable (Lisa McPherson) but it was sandwiched between happy Scientologists and John Travolta.
I understand that Kurtis had to play nice-nice to get the big interviews, but I don't think it was worth damaging the Investigative Reports brand. I now research any topic that may be controversial if it airs on his A&E series of shows.
Oh Teacher (1927)
Worth the wait
I have been a fan of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit since I was a child. The majority of the cartoons were not available on VHS or DVD until recently. This is one of the few that had been floating around the internet prior before Disney obtained the rights to distribute these old cartoons again. That version did not have the new musical score that accompanies the DVD version.
The animation is slightly crude pen and ink. This was made in 1927, and it shows. However, I find the style very good for Oswald because it forces the story board to be stronger.
Oh Teacher! (1931 re-release of the 1927 film) was one of the earlier Oswald Cartoons. However, the original was lost. So the re-release by Walter Lantz is the only copy available. As a consequence some scenes have been moved around, and other scenes are deleted altogether. It features the "oldest version of Oswald" and he was more Rabbit features. Some of these features got in the way a bit and for this reason I scored the short 9/10. For example, his whiskers were awkward in the opening scene when he is plucking the petals of the flower off the "She loves me, She loves me not" flower.
The lack of budget shows through a bit. Oswald's style of clothes changes, and the first scene he has whiskers which disappear altogether.
The style is similar to early Mickey Mouse Cartoons that soon followed (such as Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie). The work of Hugh Harman, Ham Hamilton and others. The chief animator Harman, actually split scenes with Ham. Keep an eye out of the second half of the brick scene between the evil cat and Oswald to see the two styles at work. It was a wonderful partnership which worked well in this film.
This is what makes the short so enjoyable. The story line is thin, but the sight gags are very clever. Watching Oswald stretch out like a Marvel cartoon character. Somehow this style does not appear as unrealistic as one would expect. Other portions, such as when Oswald's head falls off, did give the feeling of unrealism, and it is one of the styles that Disney soon dropped from his cartoons soon after. In this cartoon the humor makes one think "how funny".
The new music by Robert Israel's new score added much to this animated short. However, the changes in scene transition and deletion of scenes from the original were emphasized by the score.
Note: There is one scene in which an evil character is knocked off the school bus and he gets hit with the exhaust, causing black-face. This is missing from this copy. According to the audio commentator, this was removed from the DVD copy. Now, the cat has a mild gray face.
The Two of Us (1981)
That I remember this show twenty plus years later says a lot about the quality of it. I am not a sitcom fan, but there was something in the cast and premise that caused me to enjoy this show quite a bit. It also exposed me as a child to Peter Cook, and as I grew up I learned to appreciate his other work.
This series stars Mimi Kennedy, also known as the former Mrs. Tom Cruise, Peter Cook, and the late Dana Hill as Gabby. When Gabby's Mom (Kennedy) needs help around the house, she ends up hiring a man. Not just any man, but a not so friendly English bloke played up to the nines (but not overplayed) by Cook.
If cable ever airs this show, I recommend a view or two.