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Holy Matrimony (1943)
Great premise - but the result is a mess
I'm not familiar with the novel upon which this movie was based, so I can't say how loyal this movie was to it. But I suspect it was entirely too loyal and should have abandoned the original plot once Monty Woolley was cast in the role of a very shy man. The plot is a mess. Through the last half of the film Woolley alternates in his claim of who he is and the resulting complications make very little sense even within the internal logic of the plot. Something much more interesting could have been done, instead it has a pointless trial in which his claims of identity continue to alternate. The elements are all there, but they're all squandered and the result is a mess, which somehow was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Whatever appeal Gracie Fields had entirely escapes me.
The Hot Zone (2019)
Overly dramatized with stock characters and portentous music
I never read "The Hot Zone" but I did read "Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC" and I thought it was very interesting. This movie could have been interesting but they had to throw in all these tiresome stock characters: the power couple at odds in their jobs; the ass-covering business types; the ass-covering military types; the bureaucrats; the guy who knows the real deal but has burned all this bridges with the brass; the enemies who have to work together if they're ever going to get through this crisis. And on, and on. It's such a shame. Just a straightforward telling without all the dramatics and music would have been infinitely better than this.
The Highwaymen (2019)
Enjoyable but more facts would have been nice
If you're going to make a movie that makes it clear that Bonnie and Clyde were not heroes but instead were murderers, it would be nice if you have more facts about the real people and their incidents. Why is there a scene where Clyde's father talks about what a good boy he was and there is no mention that there was a brother named Buck who was also a criminal? Buck Barrow gets mentioned only once and Blanche not at all, and even if the story begins after Buck's death there would have been a way to work that information into the narrative. There's a lot of time wasted and the film's a bit overlong. The scenes of impoverished neighborhoods and camps fall a bit short of authentic-looking, and invariably in period pieces too many cars look too pristine and new.
A Kind of Murder (2016)
This "Mad Men with a murder" just put me to sleep
I'm normally a sucker for period pieces from this era but this one put me to sleep. Someone clearly wanted to make a "Mad Men with a murder," a story of quiet desperation in period suits and stilted lives. It even has Vincent Kartheiser from Mad Men, but my god Patrick Wilson's blank empty face in a suit would put anyone to sleep. Were these people supposed to look like mannequins? Watch this movie instead of taking Ambien!
A Better Place (2016)
This could have been a better film in better hands
I wanted to like this film and a tolerated the fact that it was underfunded and that with the exception of the two leads most of the characters were poorly-acted cartoon villains, but just as it looked like it was going to go somewhere it ducked into a building and ended stupidly, in a way that didn't make any sense at all. Then to underscore how badly the ending failed, they tacked on another ending, apparently made when one of the leads was unavailable for reshoots. And the second ending didn't make any more sense or answer any of the questions left by the first ending, so all in all a disappointment of a film.
Like Father Like Son (2005)
An overwrought British "Lifetime Movie."
This program had everything going for it: a great cast, good production values, a good story line, but what it didn't have a good director and perhaps not a well-crafted screenplay. It plays more like an overwrought soap opera than a tense thriller. Emotions are overplayed and characters make unbelievable decisions in order keep the contrived tension going. I was disappointed. It could have been so much better with a better director and screenplay. And I had a pretty good idea whodunnit fairly early in the story.
The Children (2008)
Excellent Family Drama that falls apart at the end
9-year-old Emma has been found dead in her back yard, and the series flashes back to the troubled relationships in the broken households where their children are not always welcome. Emma becomes unwelcome in her father's house because she's not trusted around the new baby. Jack, a surly 14-year-old, is not wanted in his mother's house because he gets into trouble and cramps her social life. And Jack becomes a problem in his father's house because he is not trusted around Emma, the daughter of the father's new girlfriend. It is an excruciating dilemma but the drama falls apart when multiple scenarios of Emma being killed are offered. It is a waste of time that would have been better spent giving more about the aftermath of this tragedy, but instead the answer of "whodunnit" is given, not very effectively, and the program abruptly ends.
Baisers cachés (2016)
I kept thinking "Afternoon Special"
I don't know anything about the culture in Belgium but this whole movie struck me as simplistic and heavy-handed in the way the gay teen is openly attacked and harassed and the way teachers and school staff were not responding in any way, and how openly anti-gay and bigoted the students and adults were portrayed. I couldn't believe this was movie was made in 2016.
The Five (2016)
Too Many young pretty actors - no one over 40 except the parents
I watched with trepidation the first episode and I couldn't take it seriously because it seemed like no one is the cast was over 36 except for the parents of the long-missing boy. The police were all young, the female cops were all pretty, and that raises a flag to me that the program was not to be taken seriously. I jumped to the last episode to see how it turned out and I thought the ending was done well. Too bad that it lost me early on.
A good film ruined (spoiler)
This was a good film until it was ruined by a twist ending, and not even an honest twist ending, but a cheating one. It took a great film and used a hackneyed device and ruined it. I don't know why they couldn't just trust they plot to play itself out. I also thought the form of the father's madness was a bit too predictable and not terribly realistic. The lead character's performance was very good. RIP Bill Paxton and Powers Boothe.
South of the Moon (2008)
A good coming-of-age film with some hackneyed plot devices
I don't want to fill my review with spoilers, so I'm trying to hold back a little. I am a sucker for coming-of-age movies, so I enjoyed much of this film, but it seems like the script just wasn't ready and it contains some real howlers. There are scenes were people die, and they are so ineptly done they seem comical. There's a scene where two boys might have fooled around, but it's so coyly portrayed you can't tell if anything happened at all. The boy is supposed to be enormously endowed but doesn't know it until he asks. Masturbation scenes look more like torture scenes. The boy is supposed to be an Olympic-level swimmer but he doesn't seem to care at all for swimming. Secrets are kept that can't be believed, and are revealed in a way that also can't be believed. The boy is troubled by dreams -- this whole movie seems like a dream, held together only by dream logic. You enjoy it more for how your can rewrite it in you head than for what's actually on the screen.
Not bad but painfully hits all the tiresome clichés of the honest cop drama
Bosch is an unsmiling cop who doesn't always obey the rules but he has integrity. He has a corrupt boss who is out to end his career, and a female boss who is sympathetic but can't always help him. An irresponsible journalist is happy to use him as fodder for his stories and doesn't care who he hurts. The District Attorneys and police officials cops are all cold and cynical and only care about how events will affect their own careers. Bosch is an absent father who misses his daughter but instead of doing something about it finds it easier to bury himself in the job. He's a veteran who was wounded in the wars. The killer he's chasing feels that he and Bosch have a special relationship. Season One contains so many tropes that they are tripping over each other. And then there are the howlers, like where his home has a view a multi-millionaire would envy. I wonder how many of these crappy details are in the novels, because they are tiresome, tiresome, tiresome. The show is worth watching, but for this to be one of the few productions that Amazon is willing to mount is kind of sad. You would think it would be something special, but it's only good in a rather pedestrian way, and sometimes it lands so heavily on a cliché that it almost feels like a parody of a cop drama.
A long awaited... disappointment
I waited a long time for this to become available on DVD. It's an interesting idea for a movie and the trailer made it look like it could be a credible film, but it is close to bottom-of-the-barrel film making. Barely a notch above homemade YouTube video productions. For such a prurient plot line there is nothing in this movie that would make a nun blush. The most memorable sex scene involves them jumping on the bed as the camera moves away and points to the floor as the couple's articles of clothing are thrown there into a pile while music from Swan Lake is played. Swan Lake! It was like a parody of a bad lovemaking scene! The boy is appealing enough in the lead but every other performance in the movie seems amateurish. The young woman is nowhere near credible as a skilled and dangerous war veteran. And it ends abruptly with several captions to explain what happened after, which were both inane and unsatisfying. Somebody had an provocative idea for a movie, but no ability to deliver one.
What Remains (2013)
A complaint about the ending (may be spoiler, may not be)
This review is ABOUT the ending, but it doesn't reveal the ending.
I just sat through the 4-part "What Remains," about the various characters in a small apartment house, and a retired detective's obsession with finding out what happened to an overweight girl whose body was found in the attic and whose disappearance had gone unnoticed for two years. I found it easily held my interest until the end, when it decided to have multiple endings. I'm always disappointed with British mysteries when they do that. I expect them to be mature enough to play out their mystery and denouement and say "that's it," but too often shows like this will lose faith in the resolution of the story, and think they have to throw in a twist or two or three at the end to give a shock to the sheeple. It just seems very immature and destroys any credibility the story had. Like the end of FATAL ATTRACTION, when the murderous woman is drowned in the bathtub, but that's not enough, so they have her jump out of the water ready to kill and the wife shoots her, because she suddenly has a gun and knows how to use it. It's a cheap gimmick you'd expect to find in crappy horror films, not a fine British drama. MAYDAY, from earlier this year, was another decent drama that twisted and was ultimately a complete cheat at the end.
I would have rated this program an 8 or better if not for the ending.
The Town (2012)
Good atmosphere and characters but ultimately ruined by implausible plot
This is one of those stories that as it goes along, more and more is revealed until it gets to the point of being ridiculous. It has good characters, a good atmosphere, and I enjoyed everything about it but that core aspect of the plot, with twists and turns that make it so ridiculous that it leaves a bad feeling when you've finished watching it, like you've been cheated. It starts off with deaths so mysterious that you share how devastated the son is in being unable to comprehend or cope with it, then it is answered in a somewhat plausible though unsatisfactory manner, then that's up-ended by a twist, then THAT'S up-ended by another twist and then it's over.
Boys' Ranch (1946)
I want to rush to the defense of Butch Jenkins, railed at by another reviewer who found his performance to be "wooden." Perhaps he wasn't paying attention, but "wooden" was what his character was supposed to be. He played a boy who had been raised by an old grandfather with very little understanding of childhood, leaving Jenkins' character an emotionally distant little adult, with very little experience or understanding of child-like pleasures. I caught this movie about a month ago and Jenkins was the best thing about this movie. It was nice to see Skip Homier in another youthful role after "Tomorrow the World," though I wasn't terribly impressed with his performance. A major plot devices was rather simplistic and contrived: A rich man will give the land for the ranch if it does well, but after one of the lamest thefts in movie history, he may reconsider and the whole future of the ranch is threatened.
This comedy is a tragedy
It's nice to see the three great characters actresses, but they are given very little to work with. Marjorie Main's is the only developed character, and she seems miscast in it. Fine production values, to be sure, but this film is a mess from beginning to end. The script desperately needed many more re-writes, as you can't tell who's supposed to be in love with whom. People that you think are supposed to be good do cruel things, and then you're supposed to turn around and find them good again. Terribly tragic events are used as contrived plot devices, and passed over by the characters with little more than an "oh, too bad" by the characters. Then to compound the tragedy of this comedy is the back story: Susan Peters, so young and beautiful in this film married Richard Quine who played her love interest. She was paralyzed in a gun accident a few years later, and after trying to recover her career by working in a wheelchair, she fell into depression and decline and died. She had divorced Quine. He had a successful but largely forgotten career as a director, until he also fell into depression and committed suicide.
Jet Boy (2001)
A Flawed Wonder
I gave this a 9 out of 10, which is extraordinary for what, in many ways, is a pretty bad film. Sometimes a movie can touch you, like this one does, even though you know it has some terribly bad aspects like cardboard-cutout characters and unbelievable plot turns. In a movie that often has the complexity and production values of an ABC Afternoon Special, there is the stirring performance of Branden Nadon as Nathan, a young male prostitute, latching onto a drifter he wants to be his ... father figure? lover? both? There are many unanswered questions here, opportunities missed, time spent on uninteresting plot lines. But instead of walking away in disgust, Nadon's performance and character just leaves you hungry for more, and wishing scenes had been expanded. There's a scene where Nathan tells a gay teen who has just kissed him, "I just want to be a good kid," and it so excruciating and sweet and sad you wish the scene had gone on forever. When Nathan accompanies the drifter to the drifter's home town, none of the people he encounters there know how worldly he is, or how wounded he is, and how he longs to belong to someone. It's a poignant performance you won't easily forget.
A low-budget gem from the 70's
I first saw this on TV when I was a teenager, a few years after it was made, and it made quite an impression on me. Now, 30 years later I was able to finally see it again on an old VHS tape, and it still impresses. It would be easy to dismiss it because of it's low budget, bland music, and occasional pretensions, but it nevertheless tells a classic story: a humorless, frustrated divorcée finds a fresh romance with a young man who is so outgoing he borders on being obnoxious. He's very different from her former husband, but may be just what she needs. But her precocious son starts to act out against this intrusion on his relationship with his mother. He despises everything about the new boyfriend that his mother finds so refreshing -- with tragic results. This film represents one of those rare instances when a low-budget actually enhances a film, and makes it more authentic and believable. Contrary to some of the other reviews here, it is not a "Bad Seed" kind of movie. A sex scene in the movie, involving the boy and his sitter, would probably result in criminal charges today. Scott Jacoby was an extraordinary young actor. BAXTER! is another film of his I haven't seen in 30+ years. I would love to see it as well.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Very Pleasant Experience
Yes, it is a "chick flick," and yes, it is a glorified travelogue, and we've seen other glorified travelogues, the but fact remains that this a nice pleasant experience in the movie theatre. A vacation for those that can't afford to go to Italy. There's not much plot but I was never bored, and I had a nice time, and enjoyed the characters. If movies were measured by how much they transported you away from you present life, this would get a high rating.
I'm Afraid it IS that Bad
The IMDB plot summary erroneously makes it sound like it is Noah Taylor's movie, when Fairuza Balk is the central character. It is unbelievable how such a cast of established actors could have been in such an amateurish, pointless, non-movie. Balk breaks up with Boyfriend Taylor, sleeps with the Devil (I guess - played by Dempsey), and accidentally kills Taylor -- who follows her about for the rest of the movie as a ghost. May be the worst movie I have ever seen.
Respectable unloved-teen movie - but falsely advertised
This is another respectable entry into the genre of the unhappy and unloved teenager, going after a boy who turns out to be no prize, and trying to fit in with her fellow classmates, but how does it find its audience when the title misleads you into thinking its a sex-and-drugs movie, and the video cover misleads you into thinking it's has Melanie Griffith it when she only makes two passing appearances? -- one is her coming out of doorway. Hard to come to the film in the right frame of mind after all the deceptions.
The Town Went Wild (1944)
Poor attempt to emulate Preston Sturges
Low-Grade attempt to make a movie in the Preston Sturges vein. It has some Sturges elements: risque subject matter (incestuous engagement), over-the-top angry fathers, small-town politicians, and a fair amount of shouting, -- it even has Sturges regular Jimmy Conlin, but it has none of the Sturges dialogue, speed, or timing.
Excellent coming-of-age film
I don't think I'd ever heard of this film, but it caught my eye in a table of used videos for sale. I enjoy the TV show Gilmore Girls and recognized Liza Weil on the cover. What a gem this film is! It's not "entertaining" like most escapist films, it's a fairly realist look into the life of a girl who may have a future or who may slide into a miserable life of drugs and drink, perhaps even crime. I found it engrossing, and marveled at Liza Weil, so little utilized in the TV programs I've seen her in. Frederick Forrest also stands out as an enthusiastic art teacher, and I enjoyed how the ex-con was more than a stereotype.
Floating Away (1998)
Paul Hogan hurts otherwise good film about alcoholism
I very much wanted to see this film because I so enjoyed the Tim Sandlin trilogy (Skipped Parts, Sorrow Floats, Social Blunders) from which this film is derived. The books are far superior but this movie was able to capture some of the spirit of the book upon which it was based (Sorrow Floats). I couldn't accept the casting of Paul Hogan, with a thick Australian accent, stopping in the American South to see his mother -- who also has a thick Australian accent -- at what was supposed to be his boyhood home. He stuck out in the movie like a sore thumb. He also looked to be too healthy to be a dying wheelchair-bound alcoholic. When I read the book M. Emmett Walsh came to mind. There must be some odd story behind the casting of this film. The other movie to be based on these books, SKIPPED PARTS, is very good and remarkably loyal to the source.