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10 = Films I believe are flawless and will happily watch again and again
9 = Films that are almost perfect
8 = Films that are above average and that I'd enjoy watching again
7 = An average, quality film where I feel I haven't wasted my time in viewing it.
6 = Slightly flawed films (either story, acting or direction etc.) that I wouldn't seek out to watch again
5 and below = How bad can a film get!!
Meet My Valentine (2015)
If it was your daughter, .....
Wouldn't you want to know that she was properly looked after in the event of your demise?
Hallmark Channel has never been one for deep exploration of the real life issues affecting it's target audience, but this movie, at least, tries. Yes, the story only skirts around the edges of a difficult topic, but how would you approach the subject of your imminent death?
This film is not Arthur Miller or Tennessee Williams. but it's still worth the time it takes to view it if you want to approach a difficult subject without cutting your throat at the end.
Exploitative. Long on Emotion, Short on Fact.
I haven't been to Thailand and know no more than the next person about the sex trade in that country. This documentary adds nothing to that knowledge.
The film's maker seems to be earnestly pushing me towards his conclusion but does not offer any real evidence to support his claim. All we're given is a longish interview with the subject of the documentary (which seems to ask more questions than it answers) and a couple of short views of boorish foreigners, one of whom is particularly obnoxious in his drunkenness. There are no particularly incisive questions nor any hard evidence. In particular, there isn't any interviews with anyone (government officials, medical practitioners, industry insiders, etc.) who can offer a balanced view of the industry.
Overall this is a poor effort at documentary making. The cynic inside me tells me the maker is trying to make an emotional film that will readily sell. I hope, for his subject's sake, that isn't true.
Code 46 (2003)
Just Misses the Mark
I really wanted to like this film; and for the most part it fulfilled my expectations. The acting was above par as was the cinematography. Placed in a highly plausible near-future setting, the scenario of genetic violations had promise. The film had the potential to be one of the sci-fi greats.
But I finished watching this film feeling that something was missing and it took me a while to put my finger on it.
I believe the movie was let down by writing and/or direction that took too long to get to its main plot. Which would not have been a problem had it not failed to reward me for maintaining my interest along the way. Not that the film was slow, there were enough sci-fi near-future tit-bits for this buff (language, sets, plot, etc.), but I couldn't keep from thinking to myself "When are we going to get to the point?".
Once there, somewhere about halfway through, the story picked up and we had a highly watchable futuristic flick.
More attention to the script and direction, especially in the exposition, might have lifted the film from run-of-the-mill and turned it into a classic.
My vote - Act 1 = 5, Act 2 = 9
Benefits that mining companies are GOING to bring.
It is good to see that large mining companies have mainly philanthropic goals as depicted in this documentary. In all three examples we are given it is obvious that the existing population will benefit from the proposed mining operations and that they are very keen for operations to start. It makes one feel good to see the landscape repairs that are GOING to happen in the little Romanian town that was raped by old Soviet mining methods.
The self interests of the opposing environmental lobbyists was a refreshing angle and the downright patronising attitude of the South African environmentalist in Madagascar needed to be exposed.
The whole picture, however, seems to me a little unbalanced. The only examples reported in the documentary showed what the mining companies are GOING to do. There was NOT ONE example of an EXISTING mining operation in a third world country to show how well they have achieved their stated aims in the past (perhaps because they couldn't find any).
The whole story would have benefited if there had been at least one example where we were shown the real benefits that have accrued from existing mining operations. How many local jobs have been created in mines in, say, Ghana or Indonesia versus how many workers are flown in from other countries? We also should have been shown how mines in these area have added to local environments. What wetlands etc. have been created? Some footage of the beautified landscapes that have been created by existing operations would also have been useful. I suspect they were not shown because they would not have painted a very flattering picture
This documentary very well produced but I feel that we are only being told half of the story. The effects of mining in third world countries are somewhat more intrusive than the rosy picture painted here.
So yet another LA writer is depressed. So Hollywood, yet again, couldn't remain faithful to LA writer's original story. So, yet again, LA writer seems able to get any woman but his wife into bed as he flits from mansion to mansion. Which of course means that, yet again, LA writer has conflicting emotions regarding his ex. And, yet again, LA writer's daughter is struggling with her emerging sexuality and maybe dabbling in drugs.
I'm sorry, but it all seems to have that ho hum, been there, done that feel about it. Unlike the rest of us, LA writer can well afford a shrink so why doesn't he just see one and sort himself out? (And if he's sold his book rights to Hollywood why can't he afford to fix the headlight on his Porche, hell, why doesn't he just buy a new car? And, yes, I got the metaphor they wanted us to get.)
How often does TVLand seem to display an ignorance of a world outside of LA? And the problems of one obviously-not-struggling-financially writer really don't amount to a hill of beans to anyone in this other world.
If it is difficult to sympathise with the problems of the main character, who cares how well a series is written, or how well acted? Or how fabulous the sets/costumes/camera-work etc. etc. are? Or even how many undressed refugees from the XXX world are bouncing around on screen?
I, for one, don't.
The Producers (2005)
Classically Typical Offering from a Prodigiously Multi-Talented Master Craftsman
In the late 1950's, while still honing his craft by gag writing for other comics, Mel Brooks co-authored the musical comedy "archie & mehitabel". Based on a series of newspaper columns the play was about a cockroach named Archie, who had literary aspirations, and his relationship with Mehitabel, a street-wise alley cat. "archie & mehitabel" starred Eartha Kitt as the alley cat and had a (very) modest run on Broadway but the script showed flashes of a comedic style that was to become uniquely identified with Brooks.
Some forty years later, after writing, directing and/or starring in many more notable successes in film and television ("Get Smart", "Blazing Saddles", "Young Frankenstien"), Brooks returned to Broadway with another musical comedy "The Producers". This play recycled the plot of a largely forgotten film of the same name for which he had won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1968.
The plot revolves around down-on-his-luck Broadway producer Max Bialystock who teams with his meek and mild accountant Leo Bloom. Using typically Mel Brooks logic they scheme to make their fortune by producing a spectacular flop (the worst play ever, a guaranteed first night closer). They decide to produce "Springtime for Hitler" which, of course, becomes a huge success. As Bialystock laments, "We got the wrong play. We got the wrong director. We got the wrong actors. Where did we go right?"
As a stage musical "The Producers" went on to become a smash hit on Broadway and around the world. In the time honoured Hollywood tradition of cashing in on Broadway's successes Brooks turned his script into a film starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, both reprising their Broadway roles as Bialystock and Bloom.
Having not seen the stage musical, or the film from which it was derived, I viewed the current film version of "The Producers" without any pre-conceptions. Without having to compare it to earlier versions I found this film to be refreshingly funny and a return to the madcap on-screen mayhem that endears Brooks to audiences. The screenplay, co-written by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, is chock full of Brooks' trademark one liners and his verbal and visual slapstick, all of which are delivered with impeccable precision by the actors. Brooks also wrote both the music and the lyrics.
I can assure those of you groaning this is just more of the same that this film is not formulaic. Although it has Brooks' inimitable style, the script is refreshingly different and funny. I may have found it so because I am old fashioned but my fellow audience, who were from all age groups, also seemed to agree. It has been a long time since I have sat through a film where I have heard so much laughter from the audience. The film flags a bit in the second act, as is common in musicals, but not to the point of boredom.
First-time film director Susan Stroman, who also choreographed (and who directed/choreographed the stage version), does not hide the film's Broadway origins which is not always a successful strategy but seems to work here. Stroman also seems to have let the actors have their head (normally a recipe for disaster) maybe because most of them had been playing their characters for so long on Broadway. The ploy has worked for this film. Every one plays their roles to the hilt with general agreement appearing to be that over-acting is the order of the day.
It takes some time to get used to the over-the-top style, particularly from Will Ferrell as Franz Leibkind the Nazi playwright. Ferrell goes a bit further than I believe necessary for his character but this may be just my prejudices showing as the younger members of the audience seemed to like him. Broderick's meekness as the accountant is also a little too forced in the beginning but this is soon forgotten as we warm to his character. Continuing with my small list of dislikes, Uma Thurman occasionally drops out of her supposedly-Swedish-but-more-pan-Scandinavian accent. But she is otherwise excellently effervescent as Ulla (which is short for an unbelievably long name) the stage struck starlet hoping for her big break.
Shining through them all is Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock, a role that Brooks may have envisaged for himself. With seemingly effortless ease Lane schmoozes and breezes and blusters his way though the film, outclassing (but not upstaging) everyone around him. It is yet another flawless performance in a long list of great performances from this actor.
All are brilliantly supported by outrageously camp performances from Gary Beach as Roger De Bris, the Director, and Roger Bart as his... ahem... personal assistant, Carmen Ghia. (Following his forebear Shakespeare, Brooks even finds comedy in naming his characters)
While perhaps not the greatest movie musical ever made, "The Producers" can hold its own with any of them. It is a welcome return to a genre that provides entertainment through sharp scripting and classy production values instead of CGI effects.