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Dames (1934)
6/10
Wait for the Berkeley Magic
23 November 2017
With 25 minutes to go, I opened up a browser window to IMDb and went ahead and gave this film a 3-star rating. Yes, it had the origin of the classic song "I Only Had Eyes for You", but was otherwise mediocre most of the time, and anywhere from inane or offensive the rest of the time. Even an ear-catching bit of very non-timeless dialog like, "I can do what I want! I'm free, white, and 21!" Worst of all, with 25 minutes to go, no vintage dazzling Berkeley choreography. It was obvious why it was not to be mentioned in the same breath as "42nd Street", "Footlight Parade", or "Gold Diggers of 1933."

Then...wow! Berkeley choreography/cinematography goes into overdrive! Some of the wackiest, most beautiful visually stunning pieces ever featuring Berkeley's movement, Ruby Keeler's face (several of them, in fact), some amazing dissolves, and the beautiful black and white images dominate the last third of the film. I wish the first hour wasn't so underwhelming, but the rest of it does its best to make up for it!
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7/10
A highlight reel of great moments
16 December 2007
Why I waited until I had seen this film for what must be the fifteenth time to comment on it, I don't know. It has taken me a while to decide exactly what I think of the film. It is a movie that I can never go through a Christmas without watching at least part of it. Although it plays homage to "It's a Wonderful Life", it does not quite align itself as a classic, nor does it sustain itself in humor and delight as "A Christmas Story". This movie is supposed to be over-the-top and sometimes it is difficult to suspend the disbelief. Randy Quaid as Eddie simultaneously induces nausea and laughter. That may be the best way to describe "Christmas Vacation."

There are maybe a total of twenty minutes that I now frequently skip in my annual Christmas watching. What can never be missed, however, are: Any scene with Aunt Bethany, both attempts of lighting the house, all the scenes with Todd and Margot, the opening scene of finding the Christmas tree, the brilliant title animation, Clark Griswold's great monologue after receiving his "bonus", and the payoff during the reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas". This a just a great highlight reel of really funny Christmas moments.
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Mixed Nuts (1994)
8/10
Underrated Christmas Comedy
16 December 2007
This film is a remake of a 1982 French film, "Le Pere Noel est une ordure." I am unfamiliar with the original, so I cannot compare the two. On its own, "Mixed Nuts" probably averages three or four laughs per minute. How could it not? The dialog is snappy, and some of the funniest people in America at the time appear in this film such as Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn (who can sometimes make me laugh without saying a word), Adam Sandler, Parker Posey and Liev Schreiber before they had any noteworthy films. There are cameos by funnymen Steven Wright, Jon Stewart, Garry Shandling. Even a barely post-toddler Haley Joel Osment makes an appearance.

The movie has its flaws, but even those are amusing. For instance, every time there is shouting among the characters (which happens frequently) the music score actually competes for attention with some peppy arrangement of a Christmas carol. While this is unnecessary and potentially annoying, it adds one more element for laughter. The setting is original, a soon-to-be-closed apartment used for a suicide hot-line headquarters. The conflict is predictable and maybe a bit shallow (money miracle needed to avoid shutting down), and the payoff is the most unbelievable use of et deux machina that is conceivable. In spite of this, the movie's strengths (dialog and comedy performances) far outweigh these flaws. Take off your serious film face and enjoy this entertaining flick, one which definitely needs a better DVD release.
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1984 (1984)
7/10
Faithful adaptation - maybe too much?
22 June 2005
George Orwell's literary masterpiece "1984" is presented with amazing accuracy and detail in this version filmed during the very months of the author's vision. The casting, set design, and atmosphere are all right on the mark for how I envisioned them during reading the book. This film is dark and uncompromising, and follows many of the dialogs verbatim from the book.

The flaw in the film, for me, is that I felt like I only enjoyed and understood this movie BECAUSE I had read the book already. There is a theory I once heard and agree with: the closer an adaptation is to the source, the more necessary it is to read the source. A good adaptation is faithful to the essentials of a story but makes necessary changes so that it not only becomes cinematic, yet also becomes something that a viewer unfamiliar with the source material can understand. I think if I were ignorant of the story, there are too many things that would confuse me in this film which the book seems to go out of its way to explain.

For example: Who/Where exactly is Oceania? How did the countries go from their current political state to the envisioned one? Why do the people gather in mass and scream passionate hateful exclamations at the screen? What exactly does Winston actually do? Who are the proles? I praise movies that can effectively tell a story without means of voice-over, a much overused device in films. In this case though, I think a little may have helped, not necessarily wall-to-wall, but sparingly used. The movie is effective by being more ambiguous than the book, but I tend to think maybe it is too ambiguous.

In summary, read the book if you haven't (either before or after seeing the film) to get a complete overview of the author's vision. With that as a foundation, this really is a good cinematic portrayal, and of a story that is still relevant and not impossible to come to pass. Obviously 1984 is long since gone bye-bye, but 2084 or 2054? Oppression can always come as long as people desire self-centered power and the masses don't pay close attention.
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5/10
Critically acclaimed film devoid of entertainment
24 December 2004
You'll have to excuse me if I am hesitant to jump on the bandwagon of films like these, even though the elite film critics suggest that I should. It seems there have always been extreme classes of movie watchers since the era of films began. There is the class that finds "Armageddon" and the theatrical "How the Green Dog (I mean Grinch) Stole Christmas" as the definition of a good film. Then there are those who think that a film is only good when it is harsh, uncompromising, filled with tragedy, portraying "realism". In these movies, the merit comes from the acting and dialog. Anything else remotely entertaining classifies it as an artless Hollywood film.

I myself like to wander in between categories. I enjoy good Summer movies, but acknowledge them like great tasting junk-food. I also enjoy the deeper, more intelligent, artistic films that draws flocks of critical praise. Yet, when films such as "Leaving Las Vegas" are considered the best films of good movie years such as 1995, it makes me wonder much about the people who harbor such opinions. Is your life so good that you need hopelessness portrayed on the screen as a change of pace? Is your life as bleak as Nicholas Cage's and Elizabeth Shue's character that you need to see it visually to feel validated in your own decisions? Do you hate "unrealisitic" hope-filled movies because you have no incentive to change your own life? Does seeing this movie actually make a positive difference in your life? Movies have always had two purposes for me: entertainment and education. Really good movies (best of a certain year) do both. "Leaving Las Vegas" did neither for me. I cannot deny that there are powerful scenes nor that the two lead actors are first-rate. The dialog is also engaging. Yet, here lies a movie that shows the ugliness of throwing your life away without any hope of change. It is this colored with harsh profanity and unpleasantness and labeled "true to life".

To whom is this movie for? People I know personally do not act like this or speak like this. Real life for me is filled with hope and dreams. It is about going through trials and overcoming them. Watching a movie that makes me feel unpleasant from beginning to end without one ounce of inspiration is not a way to spend two hours of my time. How can this film be considered greater than "Braveheart?" That is a movie that is also considered a tragedy, yet on the way is filled with love, adventure, dedication, and hope. It does what a movie should do. Filmmakers, let's make high-quality films without thinking we need the bleakest point-of-view to classify it as a great work.
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10/10
Surprisingly wonderful
24 December 2004
Since I was so impressed the the 1959 version of this film, I figured there was no way I could watch this 1925 version and not be let down by it. Not only is this original adaptation very good, but it stands very strongly next to the heralded remake. In some regards, I enjoyed this adaptation better than the remake. Romon Navarro makes an excellent title character. The highlight of this film for me is early on when the star of Bethlehem is formed. Eye-popping visuals especially considering the time they were produced. It blows away any CGI we have today.

The version I saw of this was the newly scored version by Carl Davis, who continues to impress me with his scores for silent films including those he has written for "Greed", "Safety Last", "The Crowd", "Intolerance", "The Phantom of the Opera", and "The Wind".
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10/10
Welcome to the Buster Keaton Show
24 December 2004
For some reason, I find the Buster Keaton features such as "the General" and "Steamboat Bill Jr." to be well-made, yet lacking in the explosive laughter I would expect. His short films however, pack a punch with comedy. "The Playhouse" is his best work ever - a showcase of his versatility and unparalleled comedic techniques. Any musician watching his clarinet technique (gnawing on the mouthpiece) can't help but hit the floor when they watch the opening orchestra scene. Likewise, the variety of audience members he plays, this is amazing. I can't help but wonder... how long (given makeup and costumes) did this one scene take to film? There are also more Warner Brothers cartoon foreshadowing in this than most other films I've seen. For a true short film masterpiece, see this film.
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Chicken Run (2000)
9/10
Animated version of 'The Great Escape'
8 August 2003
OK, I made a mistake in an another review. For the review of 'Shrek,' I hastily claimed that it was (along with the Toy Story movies) the only worthwhile animated features of the past 10 years or so. I failed to mention two other features: 'A Nightmare Before Christmas,' which I covered already… and this film. As the title of this review states, the movie is a loosely-based version of 'The Great Escape.' It's Aardman and Nick Park at the wheel, the 'Wallace and Gromit' team. I love the Wallace and Gromit cartoons so much that I actually had too high of expectations to immensely enjoy this film at the time. Nevertheless, in retrospect it is a very charming film. Repeated viewings show that Aardman has done very well with this feature film, and I can't wait for the 2005 release of Wallace and Gromit's feature film.
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Dark City (1998)
5/10
Wall-to-wall scoring weakens the film
8 August 2003
Dark City is an dark, interesting picture with acceptable to good acting, and a very strange character portrayed by Keifer Sutherland.

What hurts this film is the score and the way it is used. The music starts with the main title and doesn't let up until the end credits. There is not a single unscored scene in the movie. The music itself is not bad. It's synth heavy and therefore gets to be monotonous in its orchestration. But the viewer becomes numb to the score after several minutes, and thus the music is no longer able to effectively engage the viewer into the film. It becomes more of a distraction. If 1/3 of the music could be intelligently eliminated, then this is a much smarter film and goes from a 5 in my ratings to an 8 or 9.

Incidentally, the Star Wars movies are almost wall-to-wall, so are cartoons. Cartoons are generally shorter and historically stylistically acceptable with constant music. As far as the Star-Wars comparison: there isn't one. SW has much more eye-popping cinematography contrast, more diverse sound effects, and constantly shifting locations. Then there are two other points: the skill of John Williams is better than most film composers, including Christopher Young. JW also had the advantage of the London Symphony Orchestra. CY only had a synthesizer. No comparison.

Incidentally, Young cannot be blamed for any decision as to how the score was spotted. Director Alex Proyas would have the final say. Too much music is usually a symptom of a director not having confidence in the visuals and storytelling on its own.
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10/10
A Halloween Film, Not a Christmas film
8 August 2003
I loved this film. My first experience with this in the theaters was not so great. First of all, although it features both Halloween and Christmas in the film, it is to me a Halloween movie. This is such a more thrilling movie at that time. Nevertheless, when this released where I lived, it was just before Christmas, and that didn't go to well. Plus, it was a late-night showing on a weekend in a theater packed with loud drinkers. So I didn't get too much out of it. But as soon as I saw it in my own home, around Halloween, it became apparent what a great film this is. The story is highly creative, and the characters are awesome. Beautiful animation, Tim Burton, and the multi-talents of Danny Elfman (who wrote the music, lyrics, and sang at least three parts) put this over-the-top.
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10/10
The Scooby Doo Formula (mild spoilers!)
8 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
A favorite from my childhood, it amazes me how this cartoon still wins new fans over 30 years later. There's a lot of comedy that as a kid, I just took so literal, that make it refreshing to view them again as an adult. For example, Shaggy and Scooby retrieving a discarded key to escape by going out the window, going back in the window just to open the door to get out again. You gotta love it.

(Spoiler alert!) Two things to know when trying to figure out who did it. This primarily pertains to the first two seasons, but carry over into some later seasons of "the Scooby Doo Show" and "the New Scooby-Doo Movies." 1. If a character recalls a firsthand flashback in which they were the first to meet the ghost, etc.. then they are the bad guy. 2. At least five out of six times, which ever character is being voiced by John Stephenson (a.k.a. Mr. Slate) is the bad guy.

(End Spoiler alert!)

I also love how every villain is a ghost. Not just a werewolf.. but a ghost of a werewolf. Not just a witch, but a ghost of a witch. Hanna-Barbera never matched the quality level on their cartoons after this one.
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9/10
Arnie's Best
24 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
It's been a while since I last saw this movie. With T3 coming out soon, which thus far I've no desire to see, it's had me remembering the first two installments of this series. Both are well done, but there are a lot of reasons I prefer this original movie.

1. The freshness of it. Arnold Schwarzenegger was relatively unknown (except for Conan the Barbarian fans)as an actor. James Cameron was unknown as a director. Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn were all unknowns. It is a straightforward story with incredible tension.

2. Arnold makes a better bad guy than good guy. This is my biggest reason for preferring the original. Arnold doesn't say much more than a dozen words. Being unknown, he's viewed less as Schwarzenegger playing yet another action role, and more as the character himself - a superstrong, persistent, unstoppable terminator with no conscience.

3. The dark tone of the film. T2 is a load of fun, but it's a blatantly intended summer film. It's choreographed with scenes that just pack it in for the box office. Terminator is anything but this, being sinister and foreboding. It's my impression that this was a nice personal project from Cameron that started this franchise when it had as much success as it did, but even more so when Arnold's box-office status really took off.

----------{Spoiler Alert!}------------

I have two main drawbacks with this film. The special effects with the bare terminator were probably cutting-edge at the time. But it looks so much like a cartoon super-imposed in the wide-angle shots.

Then there is the paradox of John Connor's conception. It's not enough to diminish the entertainment value of this movie, but this one absurdity stands out since everything else (given a 1984 viewpoint of world history and politics) seems at least possible. It does make for an entertaining twist to discover Kyle Reese as the father. But it can't help but rack your brain to think... how can John Connor send Kyle back on this assignment, if he has not yet gone to conceive him? But I know by now this is a tired argument. Like I said, it's still highly entertaining, but sticks out as the biggest absurdity

---------{END SPOILER ALERT}-------

One last interesting note is the inclusion of Franco Columbu as the future terminator, who in real life was one of Arnold's best friends and bodybuilding competitors.
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Something Is Out There (I) (1988–1989)
What little I remember was scary
23 June 2003
I remember seeing the pilot of this short-lived series as a 13-year old and thinking it was the scariest thing I'd ever seen made-for-tv. Later I saw one of the other 7 episodes or so on the Sci-fi channel, and was entertained by the macabre and sinister tone of it. Granted, my tastes in films and television have markedly changed since then, so who knows how I'd view it now. It's difficult to find though and, for some reason,was a complete flop with the general public.

My guess is that the storylines of each episode (involving supernatural evil) were much better than the storyline of the whole series - that being a male human cop teaming with an alien cop in beautiful female human form. I guess this angle didn't grasp TV's audience, and therefore overshadowed some good sci-fi/horror entertainment.
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10/10
Absolutely Hilarious!
26 March 2002
This movie ranks #61 on AFI's Funniest Movies list, and that is definitely way too low of a ranking for this film. This film is not the critical success of the higher rankers on the list, but it's certainly funnier. I'd be hard-pressed to think of 5 other films where I laughed as hard for as long as I did in this movie. For some tastes, it probably comes off as ridiculous or annoying. For my tastes, it is just right. The "choreography" of the sight gags is brilliant. Ryan O'Neal plays a great nerdy musicologist. Barbara Streisand is even wonderful as persistent, zany, and encyclopediac heroine. Madeline Kahn (in her first credited role) is, as usual, perfect as a neurotic fiancee (ala "Young Frankenstein"). Yes, the film is a homage to the screwball comedies of the '30s but, as funny as some of those were, I never laughed as hard as I did at this film.
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10/10
How has this gem remained hidden?
18 January 2002
I had never heard of this movie when my wife just randomly chose it to rent at a video store. The first viewing of this was mainly curiosity as to how Stephen Sondheim (famed Broadway composer/lyricist) and Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates) would fare at a screenplay for a mystery. After one viewing, I thought it was pretty good. Upon repeated viewings, I realized that this is among the top who-dunits that I've ever seen. The Mediterranean location is wonderful. The all-star cast is superb, but the screenplay really is top-notch. You become so interested in the characters, and the script is just full of wit. Chances are that you'll be surprised at who the murderer is. However, when you watch the movie again, you'll want to kick yourself for not guessing sooner. There are no fast ones. All the clues to solve the murder are right in front of you. But like I said, you'll be too interested in the characters to notice on the first viewing.
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Mame (1974)
6/10
Bomb?!?
17 January 2002
I admit that this is not one of the landmark filmed musicals of our time, but it's not, as Maltin says, a BOMB! Bea Arthur's performance alone (which is much better than the Vera Charles character in "Auntie Mame") is worth 3 stars. The remainder of the elements shouldn't drag this film down beyond 1.5 or 2 stars. And I hate to sound unintelligent, but I just don't see what everyone finds so bad and embarrassing about Lucille Ball's performance. I just watched "Auntie Mame" and didn't think Rosalind Russell was much if any more convincing. That's not a criticism of Russell. Just comparing the two performances, I don't see how Ball's performance is much worse. As far as style and visual appeal, the 1958 version is much better.. but this is not an unworthy or "embarrassing" remake at all!
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Memento (2000)
10/10
Great movie that should be seen at least twice
24 October 2001
This movie is so complex and well-planned that it actually made my head spin after seeing it twice. It's not the information - it's the way you receive it. Leonard is a man incapable of making new memories due to an injury he sustained in trying to foil the rape and murder of his wife. Christopher Nolan puts you in his head with his rewind editing. You see a scene, but like Leonard you don't know what happened the scene before. So you don't know what is really happening. You don't know who the other characters really are. You have the watch the next scene (i.e. what happened earlier) to piece the film together. It is this format of time that forces your own mind to get a little dizzy trying to keep up.

I say see this twice because it takes that to fully grab the movie. From my own experience, I got the overall gist of it the first time, but I spent so much time trying to piece the movie together that I missed some important, obvious details. It takes a second viewing (once you're not as confused as Leonard is) to catch these details and grasp a more full understanding of it.

The scenes pasted together going backward is the big thing making this movie special. If it were conventional in its use of time, Leonard would be nobody we could relate to. But by going back in time in increments at a time, we experience the movie with an even greater suspense, while getting a firsthand lesson in what it's like to have no short-term memory. It's brilliant enough to come up with this concept to tell the story, but the details within each scenes, and set of scenes, make this an outstanding script and direction by Christopher Nolan. It's as good as advertised - see it.. at least twice!
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Gladiator (2000)
9/10
Nice Tale of the Roman Empire
18 October 2001
This is yet another successful film starring Russell Crowe, who has turned in some of the most versatile acting performances in the past decade, including "A Beautiful Mind", "The Insider", and "L.A. Confidential". This film is a well-paced, action-packed (if not always realistic) film. What my wife liked about it (of which I'd have to agree) is that it is simple in its plot, very easy to follow, yet is never lacking in the right amount of action or momentum. It is a summer-movie… but a well-made summer movie. I'm not sure that I would have voted this for the Best Picture Oscar it received ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" had more depth and "Almost Famous" was very witty), but I certainly can't say it was a bad choice. This is definitely worth a look at least once.
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The Exorcist (1973)
5/10
A must-see for film fans (but that doesn't mean you'll like it)
18 October 2001
This movie defined horror in a whole new visual language, and for that reason it is a must see. The film actually has positive Christian messages to an extent, but there a lot of facts that are too misconstrued for this to be recommended as a Christian. Demon possessions and exorcisms are real… but how the devil himself works is not in this manner. If evil were always so ugly and sinister, then so many people would stay away from it… but that's not how it works. Keep in mind that this film was 'inspired' by a true story, not based on one. It is very fictitious, and more of a catholic vehicle than anything. Linda Blair actually shows promise as a young actress that never really developed. Max Von Sydow is wonderful in a limited amount of time. Ellen Burstyn does a good job, but really got on my nerves with her emotional outbursts. Like I said, see it at least once. Then pop in a cartoon or something to get it out of your mind.
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10/10
One of my all-time favorites
18 October 2001
I don't know how I could ever choose one movie as my #1 all-time favorite to even begin a top-movies list. There are just too many great films I have seen before. But I can certainly say, if I narrowed it down to 10, maybe even 5 films… this movie would be on that list. 3-hours does not make this movie too long at all. Every character is captivating, and what a great all-star cast of Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasance.. just to get started! Then add the cinematography, great Elmer Bernstein score, screenplay, and direction. The visuals, acting, and action are all first-rate. These are the ingredients of a fantastic film. With plenty of humor and suspense, this is a movie for everyone to see at least once. However, even repeated viewings don't diminish this film.
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10/10
A film well-deserving of its praise
18 October 2001
This is a wonderful epic film about the account of T.E. Lawrence. I've always loved Lean's other epics: 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' and 'Doctor Zhivago.' However, this outshines them both. The grand trek across the desert is a masterpiece. For the most dramatic marriage of music and picture to ever come before 'Star Wars'… pay attention to Maurice Jarre's best ever score, especially in these sequences.

Maurice Jarre is an unusual example of a composing career. He composed highly original, and well orchestrated masterpieces in the 1960's. Besides 'Lawrence,' he also composed great scores for 'The Train,' 'Doctor Zhivago' among others. Yet, in the '80s he developed this fascination with cheap sounding synth scores. These scores showed only a tiny fraction of what he could do and, unfortunately, most of the time were too distracting for me in the films they are in. Now I realize I am harping on critically acclaimed scores such as 'Witness' and 'Ghost'… but I'm sorry, they just don't work well. The suspense scenes work well, but then he does something that is meant to be orchestral, but it's a cheap synth version of it.

Well, enough about that. The point is that there was NO better composer in 1962 than Maurice Jarre, and his own choice and opinion of the direction of music in general led to the biggest decline of quality over a 30-year period for a composer than I can ever remember.

Back to the film: Whether or not you are for or against letterbox (which I am definitely for), you MUST see the widescreen version of this film. Otherwise, you miss the most fascinating desert visuals ever filmed. The cast and acting was superb… once I accepted Alec Guinness as an Arabian Prince. The second half lets up quite a bit, but that's saying it goes from about a 12 (out of only 10) down to a 9. I still give it a 10!
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4/10
Scary? No... Disturbing? Yes!
4 October 2001
I checked out the definition of "horror" in the dictionary recently, and I noticed that the American Heritage lists 5 definitions. In the case of this movie, I don't believe the first definition ("an intense painful feeling of repugnance and fear") completely applies. Take out "and fear" and that definition applies. Instead, for this film I prefer definition four: "Something unpleasant, ugly, or disagreeable."

Before I continue, I thought that "Night of the Living Dead" was a good film. I admit it's not great, but there's something campy and claustrophobic about it. "Dawn of the Dead" has an overall interesting concept, and neat smaller ideas within. But there are a couple of things that bothered me about this film.

1. It is not scary. The flesh-eating zombies are indeed disgusting, comical, but not scary. Only two things in a film can cause a scare. The first is by way of the jolt or shock, where something unexpected just suddenly happens. The second way is through sustained tension where you absolutely dread what is going to happen as you see it unfold in front of you. I experienced neither of these things in this film. There are bluntly no jolts. The attempted sustained suspense fails because none of the characters are worth sympathizing over. Good horror has terrible things happening to people whom you don't want to see it happen to. Whether it be Romero's overly emphasized social message in this film of the inhumanity that comes within tragic times or what.. for some reason, I am never concerned with what happens to these people.

2. The graphic violence of this (and I'm referring to the Director's Cut version)is absurd, extravagant and unnecessary. It almost seemed like the movie was an experiment for a special-effects artist to try out his latest toys. A scene here and there showing the flesh-eaters at work in all of their gruesomeness could justify some of the content. By the time the movie ends (which I thought it never would), literally all hell has broken loose, and the gore is just completely uncalled for. I thought I'd never see a movie that rivals the 80's version of "The Fly" as the goriest movie ever made, but this definitely does, and maybe even tops it.

The whole movie is not completely atrocious. The aforementioned social message, and the totalitarian society built by 4 people in a mall work really well in this film. For that, I gave it a 4, but I couldn't rate it any higher.

Final thoughts: Another reviewer has already noted that this is more of an extremely black comedy than horror. I would have to agree. This is probably a movie worth taking a look at once.. if you have the stomach for it. But unlike most users of this site, I can not rank it anywhere near my Top 50 for best horror films.
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12 Angry Men (1957)
10/10
Wonderful screenplay, great acting.
30 September 2001
Talk about a simple film! 12 guys as jurors are in one room for all but maybe 3 minutes of the film. In 90+ minutes, they talk through the details of the murder case, some aforementioned in the courtroom and some underlooked, to either determine a verdict - which must be unanimous or else the trial is "hung."

The fact of a unanimous vote being required makes the foundation for a very gripping film. However, with no visual flashbacks or anything, if one is going to be successful for a film with such a monotonous setting, some guidelines are required. 1. The running time must not be overlong. At some point, we'd feel as frustrated as some of the jurors. 2. The screenplay must be first-rate. and 3. The acting must be believable.

This film passes all three criteria with flying colors. The running time is barely over 90 minutes, ample time to throughly develop every idea. The script was great! The details of the case are thought out wonderfully. And the character development: It's amazing what you learn about all 12 men, without learning their names! While I won't reveal the outcome, I will say that the way the momentum swings is almost like watching a football game or something. The final point about the screenplay (as well as the acting) is that it's all very believable. It sounds like a conversation I might expect to encounter in 1957 in a jury room. Even in 2001, however, the substance of the movie is still valid. The situation in real-life still occurs.

One final thing about the acting. While all 12 men did great performances, I am continually amazed by Henry Fonda. He is one of the few men of his time I have seen fit each role he plays to a tee.. without ever overacting.

In summary, this is a movie that very deserving of the praise it receives.
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10/10
Outstanding Silent Film
18 September 2001
This is one of the best silent movies ever made, and probably the best WWI movie ever made, silent or sound. It's one of the greatest movies I have seen to show how war can turn one man's world upside down, yet not necessarily in a completely negative way as have other films. The direction is superb. The acting is wonderful. In particular, Renee Adoree's character is adorable as the French heroine. In one of the movie's most romantic scenes (and a much parodied one), Renee's character anxiously finds Gilbert, who is in the process of moving on to battle. When they unite, the two almost can't be seperated, even as the cars are moving. It's one of the most emotional scenes ever.

Then there are the battle scenes, which are stellar. The character development is wonderful, as lazy, rich boy Jim joins the war only to please his friends and fiancee. Then, he finds out what war is all about, as well as true love. "Slim" makes a nice comedic supporting character, who again is finally seen in a different light in the face of battle.

One thing I should note, is that the version of this film I saw is the one scored by Carl Davis. I also heard his score for "the Lodger" and thought it was distracting if anything. But this score is an example of the perfect silent score. It actually shows the maximum "potential" of the film. It's always appropriate, is molded to every scene, takes advantage of a modern orchestra while still preserving several stylistic nuances of older films. Kudos to Mr. Davis for a fine score.

Finally, why wasn't there room for this on AFI's 100 list? It's certainly better than "the Jazz Singer" or "Easy Rider", and probably a ton of others on the list. Part of the problem, I realize is that so few people have seen this. There's only about 150 votes so far on this site. This masterpiece should be seen at least once by any serious film lover. A perfect 10!
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The Others (2001)
10/10
Atmospheric, brilliant
2 September 2001
This is a great, chilling film. I won't mention anything about the plot, because the less you know the better. There are SOME similarities to "Sixth Sense," but to compare the two films or judge this against the other is not fair. "Sixth Sense" was a classic, but "The Others" stands by itself as a great work. Alejandro Amenábar is an enviously talented guy. Besides the brilliant script and direction, he wrote a score that darn well should be at least nominated come oscar time.

Also, you may hear about how "slow" this movie is. I completely disagree. First of all, it's not an action movie. But, if it developed any faster than it does, it would be silly. I can also say that I felt tense at least 90% of the time, all the way up to the finale. In fact at 114 minutes, I almost wanted a bit more, ALMOST. The great direction, close-ups, acting, low-lighting, and creepy cinematography allow you to feel the fear as the characters do. There's not an ounce of gore, and none is needed. Definitely among the best 3 or 4 films of the year thus far!
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