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Too Perfect (2011)
Barely passable flick lacking any cohesive, core storyline
This is a low budget flick. You can tell from the really bad musical numbers that litter the film...every five minutes sees yet another musical montage with some poorly done rock tune in the background, odd camera angles, bad editing, three shots overlaid atop each other making your head hurt. And the story is even more lackluster. Every attempt at humor falls flat on its face, the acting is usually so-so to quite bad, and the dialogue is stiff and mostly boring. On top of all of that the story itself lacks any cohesion. You get the feeling the writer/director is way out of her league here, and a co-writer would have been a godsend. Too much of the film is comprised of various stories that seem to go nowhere, have little overall purpose, and you constantly meander back and forth with no real solid foundation...it seems if the writer had many stories to tell but had no idea how to tell any of them completely.
The running time of the actual story is a few minutes shy of an hour, making it feel even more after school special-ish than it does from the acting and writing alone. There is clearly an attempt here to toss in every cheesy "issue" facing teens today- bullying, divorce, half siblings, step parents, illness, death, all while trying to wow us with the kids doing crazy techno things like uhh texting.
Barely passable as a feature, not worth the scant run time. A definite pass.
All Hallows' Eve (2013)
Wrap Around story is mediocre- the frame stories are horrendous
Overall, it's truly an awful film, and thank God it was only $9.96 at Walmart. The idea sounds interesting enough, despite the terrible anthology horror films lately (V/H/S is another example of awful writing, bad acting, etc)...but the clown set it apart, and the character seems interesting enough a twist. The wrap around story is actually really well shot, the photography is really nice, atmospheric, gives you a good Halloween vibe. The main actress, despite the constant scowl on her face, wasn't terrible, and the two kids who she is babysitting are both cute kids, and are probably the best actors in the entire movie. The twist at the end of the wrap around story is nice as well.
The three frame stories in the anthology - all movies played back on a VHS one of the kids finds in his treat bag, are, let's be honest- terrible by any standard. There are no scares, and there is a brutality that is wholly unnecessary and serves no purpose. Violence is okay, and I'm certainly no prude, but it has to serve a purpose, and in this film it doesn't at all. The stories aren't even remotely scary, there's no tension buildup, and you consistently ask yourself, what purpose do these poorly written, badly acted stories serve? It's filled with horror cliché situations, bad acting (some truly awful stuff), and silly dialogue.
The only tense moments or scares at all are found in the wrap around story, and those are mostly door knobs turning, noises in the closet, or the main actress being scared while drinking wine, her nerves getting more and more on edge as time goes by, waiting for the parents to return home.
This could have worked, it seems like a nice idea on paper, and with a better writer, the different stories could have gone somewhere. The wrap around story being mediocre tells me that there's not a complete absence of talent, but what you get isn't worth the price of admission. I'd avoid at all costs.
Near perfect despite some clichéd horror tactics
MAYBE some minor spoilers, but nothing too substantial.
I had this movie sitting around for a bit, and I finally decided to watch it this afternoon. With so many movies, I end up watching in chunks, getting up to do other things that pop into my head as I'm watching, but this was one of those movies I started and couldn't pull myself away. The premise sounded interesting to me, a couple stuck on various British motorways, a menacing fella in a semi truck after them, the scares that come along with all of that.
Tho they used many clichéd horror movie elements, they all seem to work here because the plotting is so well paced, the storyline makes so much sense. Some examples:
The bad guy is always brooding around, his face just out of reach of the light, so you never see his face- this tactic is old, but it works as you use your imagination to paint the scariest face ever on this guy, even if it turns out he probably looks fairly normal. Definitely reminded me of the baddie from I Know What You Did Last Summer (Gordon's Fisherman rain coat and all).
The cell phone signal that drops out at the worst moment. The cell phone that rings at the worst possible second. These are used here, but it seems to just make sense, and it's not overly done, so it doesn't get in the way of a good scare.
Dumb characters making dumb decisions. This was the one that lowered the rating to an 8.5 or an 8 for me. Zakes' decisions in the start of the film were too much to overlook. You understand why they added them, because the story had to progress somewhere, but this was an area to work on. I won't spoil anything, but you kinda wanted to smack the guy a few times in the start of the film. They did a nice job of making you dislike him a bit in the beginning, that way later on you liked him all that much more.
Direction was nice, with some really cool special effects shots on the rainy road, the acting was pretty spot on, and the photography was eerie throughout- nice scenery and locations here...the massive gas station complex/truck stop reminded me of the scenes from High Tension, especially the bathroom stuff. Always fun to see a game of cat and mouse in a horror film like this.
Not a perfect film, but darned near it with a fulfilling ending, some really good scares, a lot of nail biting tension, and atmosphere to boot. A definite gem, and a high point of the 'stuck on the road with crazy guy after me' sub-genre. Highly recommended.
Big Rig (2007)
Almost interesting doc that lacks any narrative
I had high hopes for this based on the description and the reviews of others. I was, needless to say based on my headline, disappointed completely. The movie follows way too many people, very little of it is actually about big rigs or the life of a truck driver, much of it was too political (seemed mostly like fairly uninformed political discussion), and too much of it merely solidified the stereotypes of truckers that the film seemed to want to get away from. On top of all that, none of it was very interesting.
The main problem is the film lacks a solid narrative foundation. The editing is horrendous, jumps all around the country, often leaving you with no idea where we're off to next or if there's any goal in mind. They'd introduce a character, spend 2 mins with him then suddenly leave and never bring the guy back. One guy's entire time on camera was basically him sitting in his broken down truck, and only after nearly 2 hours do we see what on earth happened- yet, even here, we don't get a true sense of what a trucker would do in such a circumstance. The MTV style editing with a millisecond of a random object was distracting as well. It seems like the director didn't get enough coverage for any of the scenes- why else leave in all the annoying zoom in shots where he tried, often in vain, to get an object in focus- an object that had no bearing on the story itself? That took away from the film's aesthetic, and with the shabby narrative, this movie needed all it could get in that dept.
Just generally a disappointing effort throughout. I enjoyed a couple of the stories, and we did get small glimpses into the lives of truck drivers, but nowhere near enough to justify 100+ mins. And let's even discuss in too much detail the endless montages of random road signs and roadway accompanied by music that was a good 3 times louder than any of the dialogue- I had to turn the volume up and down, up and down the entire time. Interesting idea, tragically flawed result.
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
Equal to the original- so much fun
I've been looking forward to this for, I guess, about two years now. The very idea of a new TCM just excites me. A massive fan of the original, I liked most of what came after, minus the terrible New Generation sequel which stunk. I even liked TCM2 and Leatherface a lot. I just like the series, and the character of leatherface is creepy as heck in general.
I personally loved this one. 10 mins or so in, I wasn't sure how I felt. The girl's family was too over the top redneck, some of the dialog was a bit silly, but it felt like a true homage to the original, a loving tribute made by people who I suspect truly adored the first film. The introduction to leatherface is brilliant, the house itself is super creepy, the stairs, the door so very much like the door in the original, the kills were inventive enough, and there was a good deal of atmosphere. When that chainsaw starts and it overpowers every other sound- it's scary as hell.
I had issues with the timeline, of course (wouldn't she be in her 40's in the present day? How on earth did the police chief look younger today than in 1974? etc), and I had issues with some of the stuff the characters did (SPOILER!!!- If Heather's friends were just butchered, why is she calmly reading through documents in the police station, okay to be left alone- if I had a run-in with leatherface, I'd demand never to be alone again in my life, including trips to the bathroom and shower! That just didn't ring true at all- she seemed way too composed and way too easy with being left alone to browse newspaper clippings...speaking of which, that scene went on WAY too long, and what was with the constant camera pans over various parts of the documents? It hurt my eyes...just have the character read the info. out loud for heaven's sake).
So, yeah, not a perfect movie, but it was so much fun, it was scary enough, it had enough inventive kills that I looked past those problems. This, for me, might be equal to the original. In some ways, I might even go as far to say it's superior. The house, for example, is way more creepy...that long stairway down and the metal door beyond it, yikes!!
I loved every minute of it. 9/10 for sure.
Sorry, Thanks (2009)
Annoying jerky twenty somethings in a movie devoid of any purpose or entertainment value
Maybe I'm old fashioned, and call me crazy for feeling this way, but I sort of think movies need to have a point. They need to be entertaining, and if they're not, they need to have some redeeming value that makes their very existence worthwhile.
Watching boring people live their boring lives just doesn't cut it with me. Especially when those boring people happen to be either idiotic, amoral, or a little of both. In, Sorry Thanks, I wouldn't even want to be friends with half of these people, let alone be involved in their lives in any manner whatsoever, so why would I care to watch them for 90 minutes?
Main character, Max is an idiot twenty-something who has a dead end job he doesn't even try at...when not at said job, he's with his adorable girlfriend whom he pretty much treats like garbage or friends who seem to think he is a douche bag lacking in morals (in fact, there are two scenes where they tell him he is immoral and an ass). Oh, and on the side, he's having sex with Kira behind his adorable and loving girlfriend's back. Kira is. Well, how do you even describe Kira? First off, she's odd. She makes odd faces, she makes odd jokes, and she just acts odd. Max is somehow attracted to this, so why not destroy another person by sleeping with odd girl? Kira has a new job as a copy editor and a string of random boyfriends who aren't boyfriends. Like Max, she seems to be down with messing with people- her friends seem to do the same thing Max's friends do- sort of push the idea that she's kind of a jerk. Kira is, admittedly, slightly less of a douche bag than Max.
Now that I've explained the two main characters, people whom you'd probably want to get AS far away from in real life, I'll explain the plot. Oh wait, I can't, as there is no plot. It's basically 90 mins of watching two assholes who think they're clever and cool do whatever the hell they want.
There are small flashes of likability among the two main characters, and we keep getting scenes of Max being semi-charming in a "I'm 20 something but I act like I'm 6" way. But, in the end, little tidbits of charm don't change the fact that these are just unlikeable characters that serve little purpose other than to exist on video. None of them drive any story forward (as there really is no story), none of them add anything to the overall mood of the movie, and none of them really matter at all. If I wanted to watch morons be boring and violating all sorts of trust with other people, I'd turn on reality TV. Like I said- movies need to fulfill a purpose. God only knows what purpose writers, Dia Sokol and Lauren Veloski, thought their movie served. I can only assume they were bored one day.
Sadly, it's films like Sorry, Thanks that will continue to give indie films a bad name. People will watch this and say, "see, this is why I never watch independent cinema! The writing sucks, the characters suck, and the acting is, in some parts, miserable." (the cat lady comes to mind immediately).
It's a shame, because there are some really great indie films out there. This just isn't one of them.
Death at a Funeral (2010)
Hilarious. Equal to or Better than the Original
I saw the original on DVD shortly after it came out. Loved it. It was quirky, ridiculous, and the humor mostly subtle. The remake, I had my doubts about. You just shouldn't mess with such a funny movie, definitely not this soon after the original. So, I went in setting the bar low, wasn't even going to see it at all, until a friend invited me to go check it out.
I loved it. The humor is definitely not subtle, it's more in your face and over the top, it's hallmark American film comedy, but it works on almost every level. I don't usually care for poop humor, but the scene with Tracy Morgan had everyone in the theatre rolling. I had fears that this would have a lot of the stereotypical black comedy trademarks, but it didn't. It was comedy anyone could enjoy, without a lot of the jokes that a lot of white audiences just don't get.
Marsden's character never went too overboard for me, they played it well, and though his antics lasted the whole film, they were original enough and varied enough that they didn't start to tire me out. Rock was the straight guy for the most part, his one liners made me chuckle a couple of times, but nothing too funny. Morgan was hilarious with the rash stuff and the toilet (literally) humor. Martin Lawrence's character was poorly written- his lines were annoying and I don't think I laughed at him once. I think that came down to the script and not his performance, even though he did get a bit annoying in parts.
Luke Wilson was pretty much pointless here, not offering much in terms of anything worthwhile. Again, script issues.
The editing was a bit off. Jokes that could have landed were ruined by cuts that came too soon, quickly transitioning to another character's action. That stood out several times especially in the first half.
Compared to the original, it held up well. I think I may have liked this one better, which is definitely a surprise to me. The comedy was much less black comedy and more traditional- much louder than the original. Much more high key overall. It all worked though. Highly recommend.
Absurd characters with no sense keep a thin plot afloat just barely
This sounds like a nice premise. A British couple in Australia who meet up with a psychotic American who seems nice at first but turns deadly.
Unfortunately, this isn't really what happens...the guy slowly becomes weird and creepy, but it's all completely one sided.
Alex arrives alone in Australia and will meet his girlfriend Sophie in a couple of days. Taylor meets him and invites him for drinks the night Alex arrives in Australia sans Sophie. Alex gets drunk and falls asleep next to a girl and Taylor gets a polaroid of it...just a taste of the creepiness to come. When Sophie arrives, Taylor brings out his massive stack of polaroids (weird), and proceeds to toss the photo of Alex and the girl into the trash. Except he never really throws it away and holds it over Alex's head. Slowly, Taylor starts making it seem that he and Sophie have a thing going on, doing everything he can to turn the lovers against each other.
This is either a horror movie or a thriller as described on this site and the on screen guide when I watched it on Chiller. Unfortunately, it's neither thrilling nor horrifying, and Taylor isn't really all that weird. We get the impression that he's probably pretty dark deep down inside his core, but he's more malicious in small ways. For example, he sees Alex come into the bar where he and Sophie are sitting together, Sophie's back to the door- he immediately pretends to have a burning in his hand, so Sophie grabs it, making it look to Alex as if they're holding hands. (thrillingly scary and creepy!) The fact is, all Alex has to do is say- look, Sophie, I fell asleep next to some girl, nothing happened, but this guy keeps popping out this pic and being creepy weird. Sophie, if she had any sense, would say, "okay, honey. Let's head off without him." Too bad the characters are dreadfully stupid. They do everything they SHOULDN'T do in a movie like this, and that makes it all tedious and frustrating. When about 20 mins before the end, it gets really dumb. I won't ruin the ending, but let's say it's just as stupid as the rest of the film.
The acting is decent, I guess. It's hard to tell, as they all have so little to work with. They're just basically cruising around from place to place, not doing much, drinking a lot, arguing a bit here and there, and just being completely dumb characters. Taylor isn't some evil super genius, and he doesn't need to be. He only needs to find a couple who are so desperately stupid, they'd fall for any dumb tactics, and he's set.
Dumb characters ruin what sounds like a good premise. On top of that, very little takes place in the movie. With 15 mins left in the flick, you're wondering if anything IS going to happen at all. No thrills to be had here, I can assure you.
Nice scenery, nice setting, fantastic premise, but poorly executed in every manner. Skip it.
The Overbrook Brothers (2009)
Weird, Quirky, and Full of Heart
I ran across this film's trailer on the IFC ONdemand website while trying to track down another film. I happened to check the Ondemand last night and had to watch it. I had no idea what to expect, hadn't heard any word of mouth or any reviews...definitely not disappointed.
It's the story of two brothers who, as it turns out, discover they aren't really brothers and their road trip to the adoption agency that landed them with the parents they've always known. It's really about the friendship (and utter lack of friendship) of these two young men. Quirky is an understatement, as we follow them across several states, first with one brother's girlfriend in tow (she's soon gone, and it's just the two of them).
There were some uncomfortable parts- the deal with the freeze out was just bizarre and unfunny...it didn't match the rest of the movie in some aspect's of the main character's persona. It felt weird to me. The immature brother was over the top, but not so much that you didn't believe it- we've all met people close to this level of annoying and childish, but this guy takes the cake. Madcap adventures ensue, and we get some good bonding between two brothers who aren't actually brothers at all. When you grow up together, you become brothers and stay brothers, even when you find out you were adopted and you have no idea who your "real" parents are.
Great acting here throughout, and there's some really nice scenery. Direction is done well, and there's not a lot of that characteristic low budget stuff where the camera op constantly walks around the scene, lending that documentary feel when it's not needed. This was all pretty solid stuff, and you even get some decent effects scenes with the king Arthur stuff (another quirky side story, don't ask).
Totally recommend this one. The Duplass brothers' movies immediately came to mind, and in fact Steve Zissis (from Baghead) has a small role in the film. This is definitely one to add to your mumblecore collection.
Enjoyable doc, another reason to dislike Trump
I happened upon this documentary series 30 for 30 the other night when ESPN 2 aired a repeat of the Univ of Miami film...It was solid, so I tuned in for this one by Tollin thinking it'd be just as enjoyable. It did not let me down.
I'm not a big sports fan, and I was only a few years old when the USFL was around, so I had never even heard of it until this film. My lack of a love of sports didn't matter here, as it was more about what could be accomplished with a small upstart in such a short period of time. These guys had some big names- Steve Young and Jim Kelley are names I immediately recognize, and most others would too- no matter if you're a big sports fan or not. So, it was obvious that this league had a lot going for it.
Much of the film focuses on "The Donald." As in, Donald Trump, the world's biggest ego. His ego is on constant display here, in clips from the time of the USFL and even in the clips today. Tollin is trying to interview him, and Trump is complaining nonstop asking 'how long is this going to take,' whining that he will only answer a few questions, etc. After whining a bit and getting up to leave, informing them he didn't have time for any more questions (I'm sorry, but NO ONE's schedule is this full), he walks past the director and says "it would have been small potatoes" and pats him on the back. The back pat was patronizing and annoying, and why did he ever get involved if it would have been "small potatoes?"
Trump contradicts himself when he says that he never gets into anything small and always wants to do it big. Yet, he was sure it would have been small potatoes?! I guess when a massive ego is involved, making sense doesn't matter so much. Trump explains, in the interview from today, that he was never interested in spring football and wanted to compete directly with the NFL in the fall. This immediately brings forth the question- why did he get involved at all? He was never interested in spring football, so he paid millions for a team playing spring football? Again with the ego- his ego is SO big, he only got into the league originally to force the other team owners (some of them fairly poor compared to Trump) to embrace The Donald's vision and move the season to the fall where it would compete head to head with the much larger NFL that had already established itself...only to get eaten up by the NFL.
In fact, the league was taken down by a lawsuit that I won't go into, but it's also an interesting story that's told.
Tollin does a nice job, but some of it does seem to generalized. It seems there isn't a solid focus on one topic, but I think it worked overall. It could have been refined a bit, but telling a story this big in 45 mins is hard enough as it is- I've edited down documentary footage, and it's easy for the thing to become really long really quickly, so I definitely understand the hardship in trying to tell a story on a limited time frame. The fact that Tollin ran the company that had exclusive rights to do the "films" for the USFL (in the same sense that NFL FILMS does highlights and reels for the NFL) is a nice bonus. He comes at it all from an insider's perspective, and you get the feeling throughout that he knows his stuff here.
Nothing too fancy visually, it's mostly one camera interview setups and old USFL footage, but it's solid on all levels technically. The story is an entertaining one that really needed to be told. The focus on the Donald is nice, because it seems that most involved point the blame his way, so he probably deserves it. Overall, a great look at an inspiring league that could have been so much more, if only things had worked out better. Definitely recommend this whether you're a sports fan or not.
Poker Run (2009)
Moderate suspense ruined by silly characters and absurd script
This will contain some spoilers...
Two city dwelling lawyers want to live out some adventure in their lives, so they decide they want to buy motorcycles to attend this poker run event with their wives. They happen upon two weirdos who just happen to be selling 2 bikes on the cheap. The two weirdos are just as they seem- weird. They kidnap the guys' wives and lead the men on a chase, making them follow clues along the way to their women.
The idea is decent, but stupid characters and a dumb plot line ruin any good that could come out of this.
The two main characters aren't all that likable, and they're pretty bland. You just don't know anything about them outside of their broad stereotypical traits. The younger guy is more clean cut with short hair, the older attorney has longer hair and is a bit more on the wild side as far as looks go. Throughout the whole ordeal, we hardly care what happens to either of them or either of their wives.
The two villains are so over the top that no one with any brain cells in their head would ever buy anything from them, let alone $10, 000 motorcycles, and they sure as heck wouldn't follow these guys into the desert for a trip together. That's what ruins the script, the characters keep doing stuff that makes no sense. A hallmark of bad horror movies, of course, but better writing would have allowed us to skip this annoying hallmark and get on with a decent storyline.
There are some inventive death scenes here, if you're into that sort of thing, but ultimately they serve no purpose, as most of the characters are just so over the top that you can't take any of them seriously. A deranged family on vacation in cahoots with the villains, everyone along this route seem to be in the pockets of these two guys- but why? Money? Can they really be making that much money by selling the same bikes over and over? The plot holes are, of course, so big that it's hard to suspend disbelief for even a second.
There are some tense moments, and you get a sense of the movie SAW and a bit of Wolfcreek. It's shot well for the most part, but the audio is, from the version I watched, sub-par, at best. The acting is decent for what it is- the problem comes in with the dialog and the way some of the characters act. Again, it's just too over the top, so you end up laughing at how absurd it is when I guess you're supposed to be scared.
I'd skip this completely. It's not a terrible movie, but it's too far from good to even waste the 90 mins. The synopsis sounded interesting, but the execution falls completely flat.
An odd little doco that hits and misses
I happened across this documentary on the Disney-founded city of Celebration the other day on Sundance Channel, I believe it was. Very enjoyable overall. It had an odd style-- they'd interview someone, yet they'd show that person standing in an odd position and the interview stuff was often them in voice-over. That and when you'd see this, it's usually involve these weird, rigid, mechanical camera moves that would pan around the scenery and end back up on the person "talking." That got annoying after a while, and I found it rather distracting.
They had some good information on the city, the background of the city, the controversies involved...the stuff they gave only scratched the surface, but it's easily a nice springboard for further, more in-depth research on the specifics.
I had heard about the city some years ago and did a little research, just because the idea sounded so odd. So, when I saw the info. on this one in the on screen guide, I had to check it out. An interesting take on the city and some of its people, but it hit in some spots and missed totally in others. Somewhat uneven in the end. I've never seen another movie on the town, so this is as good a place to start as any.
Very weird, sometimes annoying, but Schaeffer's charisma cannot be denied
"I Can't Believe..." is odd. That's putting it mildly. We follow Eric Schaeffer in his quest for his true love, or something as close to that as possible. He's still single and he's nearly 40. He doesn't understand how he's still single, especially considering he's a semi-famous actor, writer, and director. It's easy to see why Schaeffer is still single. A few reasons come to mind immediately- he's very picky, he's often immature, he's sometimes quite annoying, and he's fairly gross.
The scenes of him out and about on his book tour, trying to meet a girl, just doing his regular thing are cut with these interview scenes with what could be the ugliest girl on the planet- piercings, pale skin that's almost white (has she ever seen the sun?), those gross ear lobe stretchy things, what looks to be facial hair, gross hair that she clearly spends time on to make it look as "different" as possible. Who is this girl who gets so much screen time? None other than a dominatrix of sorts who spends time sticking large objects up Schaeffer's butt, spanking him, and all sorts of other weird sexual stuff I'd rather not know too much about.
These scenes tell us a lot about Schaeffer and why a lot of women wouldn't want anything to do with him, let alone a love affair with him. The stuff this woman talks about doing to him makes him seem gross and, let's be honest, not very sweet or romantic or any of the other things women usually want men to be.
So, I hate the show, right? No. In fact, I like Schaeffer. I think he's a talented writer- I loved his film Fall and the FX series Starved. He's got a quirky charisma that outshines the ickiness he talks about in this series. Even when he's coming off as totally manufactured and even annoying in the show, that charisma is there under the surface, always semi-visible. Eric has an energy about him that I cannot be denied. He's often times witty and funny even when he's being gross or immature...and that wit makes up for the bad for the most part. He sometimes comes off as phony, as if parts of this whole thing are scripted out, but even then he plays the role with comedy and keeps you entertained and involved in what's going to happen next.
So far, after 3 episodes, the show seems more like a vehicle for Schaeffer in general. It seems less a journey to find love and more like an extension of his book tour and a little bit more publicity for himself as a whole in order to maybe get more acting gigs and keep his name out there. I'm okay with that...so he's doing all he can to extend his time in the limelight, there's nothing new about that, and he's quaint in some sense to the point where you can easily overlook this minor offense.
I'd think the audience for the show is limited because of the weirdness and the off-the-wall quirky nature of the lead talent, but fans of Schaeffer will surely enjoy parts of it, if not the whole thing.
Choking Man (2006)
Flawed movie, annoying main character, played out atop wonderful score
I was going thru the cable guide one Saturday night, and I added a bunch of indie films from Sundance and IFC to my DVR record list. I recorded a few movies, and tonight I watched the first- Choking Man. It's the story of an Ecuadorian dishwasher working at a small diner in Queens who suffers from severe social anxiety and falls in love with a new Chinese waitress.
The film is well made, the director knew what he was doing and the DP did a very nice job of making it all look fantastic. The action was broken up by scenes of animation dominated by bunny rabbits and other odd stuff. Those animated sequences were dream-like, and it all blended together nicely.
The music was really fantastic- a lot of bells, toy piano sounding stuff, slow yet flowing music that added a nice depth to the action on screen. The music was a character in itself in some places, used aptly to convey a whole slew of emotions that a lot of the character themselves never portrayed all that strongly.
The movie overall- not all that great. The main character, Jorge who supposedly suffers from morbid shyness well, he came off as retarded. You would meet someone like this and wonder if there was something wrong with them mentally. Shyness is one thing, but refusing to even look at people or say anything to them when they ask you a question- I've never encountered anyone like that, and if I did I'd probably just assume they suffer from mental retardation and leave it at that.
The problem with this movie is that Jorge isn't just unlikeable. He's worse. He's annoying. He's SO weird you don't really care what happens to him. I'm sure people like him exist in this world, but they're so far out on the periphery that in a film like this- he almost seems completely fake. The guy just comes off so badly to me that I didn't even want to see him. I would have rather watched scenes from any other character in this movie, as long as Jorge never showed his face.
That is a major problem for me, and one that cannot be overcome. It's the film's downfall. That and it was weird. There are a number of very odd things that happen in the movie and don't make a lot of sense. Someone will try to say it's deep and thoughtful, and that I just didn't get it. If so- I say 'oh well.' I certainly won't cry over that.
Der Wald vor lauter Bäumen (2003)
Main character too pathetic to even like
This will contain slight spoilers...
This wasn't an awful movie...but I don't think it's a wonderful look at the human condition either.
I'd like to like Melanie- but this woman is beyond all help. It's one thing to be a bit shy or awkward in trying to find new friends, settle into a new job, and that sort of thing. But, when you get to the point where you're nearly stalking a neighbor who clearly doesn't want to be your friend- how can most of us relate to that? How can I care or even get anywhere near sympathizing with a character that I want to reach through the screen and choke? I mean, wow- she's so utterly pathetic it's not even sad...it's beyond the point of it being sad.
In the end- not much happens. We see the most mundane aspects of her day. She folds some clothes and sits in her apartment. She's in class, simply refusing to get any of these brats in line. She's back at her apartment again sitting at a desk. It's just void of a lot of action. Which is fine, if we were getting a realistic character storyline here, but as I've said, I don't think she's all too realistic. I don't know that I've personally met anyone this frustratingly sad and pathetic. And her refusal to tell anyone the truth about how bad things are going. I didn't get it. She's so pathetic, she'll stalk her neighbor, but she suddenly has too much pride to be nice to the one co-worker who is trying to be friends with her? Too full of pride to even be honest with her own mother as to the troubles she's having? And that ending- Call me stupid, but I just didn't get it. She loses it and then sits in the back of her car as it drives itself? Over my head, I guess, but I wasn't sure what the message was.
The cheap quality to the video didn't help this film either. It looked to be shot on a midrange home camera of sorts. Maybe if the main character wasn't so unlikeable for her sheer lack of ANY social skills, the film would have overcome the limitation in video quality, but I don't the story did that. Being socially awkward or downright inept doesn't always turn you off from a character- outright stalking, in my view, does. Being a weirdo makes it hard to sympathize with you, and much harder to feel sorry for you.
Science of the Bible (2005)
Revisionism at Its Worst
This short review might contain seem minor spoilers...
The main contributors to this program are, no shocker here- members of the fringe Jesus Seminar, the revisionists who claimed to want to find the "truth" of Christ, yet started their "search" with a number of a priori demands on what Christ could and could not be. He could not be the son of God, he could not be above or beyond nature, he could not have performed miracles, he could not have said anything that would support any of these items...
That's not how you do history- it's the way to do propaganda, which is precisely what National Geographic has done with this abysmal series. Jesus COULDN'T have carried any part of his cross- why? Well, because they got a strong volunteer to try to carry a large piece of wood from a particular tree they picked out...heavens knows that the piece they picked out was the same wood, the same length, the same width, the same weight, etc. as the piece of the cross that Christ carried (they know this how? no one knows! the bible doesn't mention the weight of the cross!)...thus, Christ could not have carried any part of the cross- it's impossible, question solved, the "tale" is a mere myth.
Funny tho- we have numerous accounts of Roman crucifixions where the executed, GASP, carried parts of their own crosses! Forget those historical records, we proved it with out massive piece of wood that we made! Case closed! The show's main goal, whether it admits to it or not, is to DEBUNK the bible stories. This much is clear from the preview of the next segment- "next, we'll show you what really happened" (as opposed to what that silly bible says!) This isn't science, this isn't history, it's propaganda. You don't set out to debunk things- you look into the issues with an open mind, and 99% of the people featured on the show are anti-biblical historians and such...as I mentioned, the show heavily features the members of the Jesus Seminar, men who aren't even taken seriously anymore by most scholars. It'd be a miracle if National Geographic featured an open minded historian in this show, but alas they only really feature a number of outright skeptics.
Did Jesus heal the lame? Well, the story stands up to historical scrutiny, but there was confusion in the room in the bible story, so that's "enough" to leave doubt...and then they completely leave that story! Christ actually just made people FEEL a bit better because they BELIEVED they were better! Amazing! The show on miracles and 1st century medicine started out with the presupposition that miracles never happen, and they want to find the "truth" as to what "really" happened. That's not how you search for truth- you don't say...'this and this and this are totally false, because I say so...now, let's figure out what REALLY HAPPENED.' Again, that's not history, it's propaganda.
The entire show starts out with the premise that the bible is false, that the stories are the relics of backwards people who will believe anything. That just isn't the way it was. The people in the 1st century weren't fools who believed in anything. They weren't all fooled by hucksters. The biblical stories have been hammered by thousands of different people for 2, 000 years...yet, very smart people look into them and still stand by their accuracy.
If you're anti-Christian, if you want to debunk the bible by listening to those singing to the choir- this show might be for you. I, myself, don't search for truth with numerous a priori assumptions in placed before I journey out to find that truth...I don't close my mind before the journey even starts. That's what Natl. Geo. has done with this pathetic series, and it's clear that their agenda was to diminish all biblical stories with a number of 'just-so' explanations, confusing antics, and more. I'll say it one last time- this isn't history, it's not a search for truth, it's mere propaganda. Forget the many experts in various fields that stand by the bible stories- the National Geographic Channel has hired a number of anti-biblical minimalists, and THEY'RE right, the others are wrong. End of story, case closed.
Malice Aforethought (2005)
Great story where you actually side with the "bad" guy
So, you can't help feel sorry for Dr. Bickleigh...his older wife constantly puts him down, bosses him around, and is a general pain in the butt. He isn't a saint himself, he chose to marry her and also to have numerous women on the side. All the while tho, you can't help but root for Bickleigh and hope that he gets away with his actions. A horrifying idea really, since his motives are quite evil. Even worse, when you watch the film, you start to think to yourself that his motives aren't that evil at all, and you almost understand why he does what he does. Maybe, in the same situation, you might think of plotting the way he does as well.
Odd how a film can make you feel the opposite of what you should feel morally and reasonably. But this story does just that, and to me that's a sign of a good story when it can affect you on that level.
The cast is wonderful, and the settings are gorgeous- you never once feel as if you're watching a modern day tale merely set in the early part of the century, you just feel like you're there with them in a small British town, nearly a century in the past.
Ben Miller, who I only saw once before in a British comedy series called The Worst Week of My Life, was great as Bickleigh. He played the part so well, he was the real reason you rooted for him even when he was acting in such vile ways. He did a good of making you sympathize with the character and you easily found yourself understanding why he did what he did.
The plot was interesting, nothing too fancy or complicated, but a few twists were thrown in. I had no idea what the final outcome would ultimately be, and in the end, I was partly smiling to myself due to irony of it all, and I was also partly upset because it didn't seem as believable as the rest of the story. It seemed too easy the way things turned out, and after all that happened, it doesn't make sense that this would be his downfall- especially since there were some logical holes with the way things turned out. (I'm trying to explain this without spoiling any of the plot!) Anyhow, a nice piece of storytelling here, which is usually the case with the Mystery! films.
Death in Gaza (2004)
shows how truly barbaric the adults in the palestinian territories are
This is a disgusting film...disgusting in that- it shows you how horrible the adults in the palestinian areas are, and how they will ensure the terrorism continues, by teaching their children to hate the "pigs" (the word they use for israelis- millions of whom are peaceful people who just want to live a happy, safe life like these people who hate them). you see militants, who always hide their faces behind black masks- the mark of true cowards...they can blow an innocent israeli child up, but they cant even show their faces when they do it. they take these kids- this film is centered around the kids- into the camps and urge them to fight as well, teaching the kids that becoming a martyr and being killed in the purpose of fighting the terrorists (israelis- clearly these kids have it backward).
you see how sick some of these people are...one of the militants talks about how he loves ahmed- one of the very young boys, and how he is like a little brother. then, the true nature of these sick human comes out- when asked by the filmmaker (the woman on the team) if ahmed is too young to fight and maybe be killed- the militant tells her...dont worry about responsibility, when ahmed says goodbye to us, there are a thousand other children just like him- exposing this animal for who hs truly is, not a man who cares about this little boy, but a man who will brain wash this child into hating all israelis- tricking him into thinking that the state of israel is the terrorist group, not the man hugging him holding the gun, vowing to kill innocent people for allah.
this film does one big thing- it shows the world that we must have a free press in the palestinian areas...and we must make sure children are taught REALITY. in one scene the teacher talks about israel stole their land in 1948 and in 1967- never mentioning that the land was taken in 1967 because israel was attacked by NUMEROUS surrounding nations, and they were forced to take much of that land as a security buffer- israel was on the DEFENSE, they were the ones attacked, yet the teacher uses propaganda to convince the girls that israel is evil and they stole land from these poor innocent people (innocent people who teach their kids to throw boulders at passing military vehicles- who teach their kids to get in the middle of battles, hoping for a casualty- which they can use for international propaganda purposes.)
im not really sure what the filmmakers opinions on the overall subject matter is, just that the kids are being abused by the adults- brainwashed and tricked into shooting at forces who are merely routing out terrorists. i truly believe from watching this film that palestinian society, as a whole, is downright barbaric- and they pass these barbaric thoughts on to their children, and their children do the same- and, in the end, it's a never ending cycle, and it's because of this that there is no peace in the region.
STOP using these poor kids for your brutal ways- stop doing all you can to recruit kids into your terrorist groups, urging them to die for the cause- to die for allah. it's sick, and until these parents stop abusing these children, i'm afraid very little will change.
very well animated and charming
I think Fatherhood is a very charming show, the Bindlebeeps are a nice family with strong values, and each story has a lesson attached to it- the importance of not lying and not to be judgemental are the two I have seen so far (I think there is at least one more I missed.) It's not given to you in a preaching manner either, and ultimately- it's a show for entertaining, not for teaching that lesson...the lesson is sort of a bonus that the family learns together.
The animation is pretty slick- it looks like it's computer animated, there are some really cool sweeping moves across the town they live in, the colors are very bright and crisp, and the characters all have unique and interesting designs. The animation itself lends itself very well to the grown up category the show is trying to fit it, tho I think the entire family could watch this show and enjoy it.
The actors do a nice job with the voices--Blair Underwoods deep, calm voice lends well to his character, it just feels warm when he says the things he says- like these people are living in a safe world that's all nice and comfy. The woman who played the oldest daughter on the Cosby Show (I forget her name- tho, she's also on the PBS series, Smart Gardening) does the voice of the mother, who works in a book store or a library from what I can gather from seeing the two episodes I've seen. The other voices are done really well also- the one daughter is voiced by one of the girl's from Bick's All That, no idea who does the son's voice (tho it's all listed on the previous page, of course.)
Not only are the voices spot on- but the sound design to the show is interesting too...very well done with the effects track that add just that much more depth to the series.
A series the entire family could watch, or just a 25 yr old guy like me- I find the show to be really heartwarming, the animation is gorgeous, and the storylines are fun and completely endearing. Let's hope this stays around for a good while- it's definitely good television.
one of the best dramas I've seen in some time
I have watched all 6 episodes of the series on BBC America. I loved the show, myself. It's so very well shot, the DP did a perfect job showing the corporate offices, the outside meetings within various parts of London, wide shots of the city- seeing all the new stuff being built, getting the quick traffic effects with the fast moving camera- all of this together with the wonderful score, it makes for great television. It's very slick, and I'm sure that's what most people notice right off the top.
The acting is actually very good. Robson Green, who plays the main character, is one of the best actors I have seen in any british series. He's been great in everything I've seen him in, and he has that look of a man with confidence, which lends very well to the character he plays. The other actors do a very nice job as well- all getting their characters down wonderfully. From Annie the obsessed-to-get-ahead in a 'man's' business...pushing her husband further and further away with this obsession, to Greg who plays the laid back gay guy character so well. The show might be worth it just to watch the actress who plays Serene do her scenes...she's drop dead gorgeous, and who couldn't love a woman who makes so many cute faces. All together- the acting is spot on.
The storylines all deal with corporate law- not the most exciting topic in the world, but the writers make it work by adding drama to nearly each deal...and the confidence that these lawyers have when dealing with clients, and how they show their expertise in the field is awe inspiring. There's always some comedy thrown about here and there, but it's not a comedy series, so it's not laugh out loud funny or anything like that. The plotlines are always interesting in that you get to see how they make the deals and how they broker deals with clients who sometimes can't seem to see eye to eye. Some of the stuff in a cpl of the episodes if actually somewhat complex, especially the story about the oil company deal and the drama going on behind the scenes with some of the players. It's all kept together in a nice coherent package tho, and that's a definite plus.
I was sad to see that they only made 6 episodes of this show. I would have caught every episode had it gone on for longer...great characters, great acting, and the stories were just plain fun to watch. Slick, stylish TV- this is what it's all about in my eyes.
The Swan (2004)
I have to agree with what the other person who commented. This is just disgusting. It's clear to anyone who watches these women for five minutes that they all are dealing with some serious underlying mental issues that no surgery will fix. These problems cannot be fixed with a new nose or a chin implant.
Self esteem cannot be attained in this manner either. True self esteem rises above all of this meaningless nonsense. A new nose will not truly make you confident...that comes from an attitude that has nothing to do with how you look on the outside. If it did, all beautiful people would be confident- but, they're not. Everyone with a big nose and bags under their eyes would have no confidence, but that's not the case either.
This is just the lowest of what TV has to offer, and it's no shock that it's being brought to us by Fox, who keeps going lower and lower, scraping the bottom of the garbage can for ideas for ridiculous, shameless programs like this.
Not only do the women competing in this show need mental help...but, the creators and execs at fox need it just as bad.
clever for a bit, but overall misses the mark
I won't go over the details of the plot, since other's have mentioned them, and you can read them in the summary...
The supposed wonderful things that happen in this movie, due to the actions of others aren't all that wonderful. The stories contained in the film are just not exciting. I found the idea clever for a while, but it wore thin and started to get annoying after about an hour.
What's so great about these random acts? One guy is going for some girl who doesn't like him...another man is slowly losing his mind and is obsessed about germs, a couple- well, they actually turn out fairly well...the one guy loses his girlfriend and nothing else good happens to him. The trailer, which I only watched after the film, made it seem as tho wonderful things were happening to all these people, all caused by the small acts of others around them.
The fact is- there's nothing big happening to any of them...and these small, random acts don't lead to life changing events. Well, that's not exactly true...but, overall, no one learned some huge lesson, no one changed their entire personality. Nothing like that.
This is a hard movie to criticize, as it is a hard movie to explain to someone who hasn't seen it. It was just missing something for me. Sure, events around us affect our lives- this isn't a newsflash...but, I was just hoping for bigger things in the end- not a bunch of people loosely connected to one another going to Hawaii.
Club Dread (2004)
how did broken lizard get so bad?
First off, I love Super Troopers and Puddle Cruiser (the first two films from Broken Lizard.) I really wasn't sure what this movie was about, but I think the group is funny, and the other two movies were good- so, this should be pretty good as well.
I sat there waiting for it to get funny...and I waited, and waited, and waited. I don't think I laughed one single time. That's sad, seeing as how I WANTED so badly to like this movie.
The horror spoof plot got old fast...and, unlike the previous two films from BL, the guys didn't complement each other at all...there were no funny lines, there were annoying characters (the two stoned guys who were supposed to be funny were just plain idiotic.) I expect more from these guys, so I was really disappointed.
There's not so much to critique...just the fact that it was a comedy that was 'dread'fully unfunny. This could have been a good movie with a decent script and some funny lines- all of the jokes just totally missed the mark. Not to mention, it seemed it dragged on a bit too long. With no laughs to be found, you can't take the horror aspects seriously (as is the point, of course), and I found myself begging- please let them find the killer THIS time...wait, THIS time...no, please let THIS be where they discover the truth. It went on and on and on and on...
I like Broken Lizard, and hopefully they do more movies...I just hope they're more like puddle cruiser and super troopers, and a lot less like dread.
somewhat informative, but way too biased to be used as evidence alone
First off- the documentary is entertaining. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, since it's such a serious matter.
There seem to be some huge screwups with ATF and FBI, and there are many contradicting stories. Too many different stories from too many different people to possibly ever know the complete truth.
This movie seems to be very biased to paint the picture that Koresh wasn't brainwashing his people, that he was generally an okay guy who didn't do anything wrong- you don't get both points of view in this film. They also attack the ATF and FBI a lot, but don't seem to show the point of view supporting these agencies...only showing the supporters in the congressional hearings. Like I said, the film is very biased in this sense, so it makes it hard to get a complete picture of the entire situation. Showing all the evidence, not just from the side attacking ATF would have been helpful.
Also- during phone calls, I noticed that there is text on the screen many times that no one even speaks- a big mistake like is telling overall...in that, how can I sit here and trust all the evidence the filmmakers put forward, if they can't even accurately transcribe a phone call between negotiators and Koresh? When I noticed these mistakes, it, of course, made me wonder about all the rest of the "facts" put forward in the film.
No doubt Koresh was an unstable individual- there's evidence from many that he had sexual relations with children, he talks about his many "wives" and "children" when interviewed by other davidian members, he claims to be a final prophet of God...all of that points to a man who is not all there. And the fact that a religious sect has stockpiles of weapons (even if they did go to gun shows and tradeshows) is extremely creepy, and to me- that points to danger.
It seems most likely that both sides are wrong here. Members of the davidians did not have a right to shoot at ATF law enforcement agents, and ATF and FBI had no right to contradict themselves, and report things that were not true (the spokesman says that its unlikely that they used psychological tactics, such as loud music and bright lights, to agitate members, when it's clear from press footage that that happened a number of times.) Also, some congressional panel members investigating the issue seemed to attack all evidence by the koresh side, and abusing them verbally unnecessarily. I can understand the bias one would have against a religious sect like this- since, it's so outside of the norm, but it seemed unfair in a lot of points for congressmen, law enforcement spokespersons, etc to jump on certain stataments that were made.
In the end, this film doesn't help any of us get to the bottom of the issue- it's too biased one way, and there are mistakes made that make it unclear what evidence they put forward is true, and what isn't. It's unreliable in those aspects, and that affects the overall integrity of the film in my opinion.
Dead Ringers (2002)
who ARE half of these people?
okay...being in the US, i have no idea who theyre trying to impersonate half the time. so, the comedy falls flat for me, and im guessing this is the case for most americans who might catch an episode.
the few celebs i recognize so far- the impressions of them are pretty awful. the guy who did ozzy osbourne is good- but george bush is awful- sounds nothing like him, and im sorry, but tony blair does NOT sound like a flaming homosexual like this show would have you believe. also, i just noticed a very poor impression of graham norton.
i was actually really looking forward to this series- but after seeing most of this episode and part of another (at least i think it was a different episode), i'm not at all impressed. the impressionists here are nowhere close to being "dead ringers" of their actual counterparts, and im not finding much humor in any of their segments. i like a lot of shows on bbc america (coupling, father ted, men behaving badly, graham norton, 3 non blondes, etc)- but this, so far, isn't one of them.