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Room 237 (2012)
Like Being Bored? Then You'll LOVE This...
Imagine having a conversation with someone who's obsessed with a movie and all the secret messages hidden in it by its eccentric director. Imagine having that conversation while staring at images from films OTHER than the one being discussed. Now, multiply that times several people and more than 90 minutes. You have just imagined watching this slow, pointless, boring, embarrassing documentary.
The documentary focuses on the fixation some people have with "decoding" Kubrick's "The Shining," making such observations as the fact that when a straight object is near an actor at crotch level, it can look like an erect penis. No, really.
And it just drags on...and on.
Avoid this one. D.
Pink Ribbons, Inc. (2011)
The Taste of Bitter Whine: Cancer vs. Capitalism
Only among the left-wing lunatics that make documentaries for the National Film Board of Canada could one find the kind of person who would complain that the experience of getting a deadly disease is made somehow less dignified because of its association with corporate giving. Author Barbara Ehrenreich, cancer survivor, complains about everything she can think of: that anti-cancer activists are annoyingly upbeat, that some of the products sold to support breast cancer research are cuddly or cute, that the grim, sad, angry sorts of cancer patients out there don't get enough airplay. This documentary remedies that with several wrenching interviews with weeping cancer patients suffering from end -stage cancer. See, audience? What do you think of those stupid little ribbons now, huh?
Samantha King even goes so far as to call an upbeat attitude in he face of the disease "tyranny." As in "tyranny of cheerfulness."
The Susan G. Komen Foundation ran afoul of feminists a few years back by daring not to support Planned Parenthood's abortion-on-demand factories. It seems Lea Pool and her backers at the National Film Board have fired a dark and angry salvo back at the "pink ribbon" industry that, if the film's subtext is anything to go by, is guilty mainly of making it more difficult to politicize the disease and make it the realm of angry feminists with anti- capitalist leanings.
Well-produced, but probably not a fair portrayal of mainstream and corporate anti-cancer efforts. Cynical and borderline juvenile in its contrarianism. C+.
Last night, I watched a show on the "History" Channel called "Decoded" about the supposed "mystery" surrounding the Georgia Guidestones, a bizarre monument erected by an anonymous millionaire near Atlanta in 1980. I feel stupid even using the word "mysterious" in relation to this collection of large granite slabs, because there are some people who know exactly who paid the half-million dollar price-tag, but were sworn to secrecy in order to secure the patron's business (and entice tourists).
The show starts with the sophomoric and hasty assumption that the builder was a Rosicrucian, based on the pseudonym of the monument's builder, "R.C. Christian" and the cross-like shape of the monument, and then runs with that assumption for the rest of the show, investigating no other possibilities, not even in passing. Keep in mind, this was aired on the History Channel. The channel calls itself that; that just blows my mind.
The show's host/narrator, Brad Meltzer, makes appearances from time to time to act as wooden as humanly possible and ask maddeningly stupid questions that add absolutely nothing to the investigation. And what an investigation! The fieldwork is handled by a gang of three other blithering morons who go off on unfocused tangents that make a nine-year-old boy drinking red Kool-Aid in a room full of video games and toy guns look laser-like by comparison.
Here's the "arc" the investigators follow during the course of this sub-moronic television show: Who made this monument?--Rosicrucians did itWho were the Rosicrucians?Rosicrucians are scary--Rosicrucian mind control techniquesUsing the brain to control artificial limbs(!) in a labRosicrucians are harmless old women into New Age crapSweaty old dude remembers meeting the guy who paid for monument in 1979NASA astronomer says solar flares no big dealInvestigators somehow come to the conclusion that solar flares could destroy human society because antennas and power girds won't work--Edgar Cayce's predictions about North AmericaEdgar Cayce wasn't a crank--2012 is scaryWe don't know who made this monumentThe End.
This is not an exaggeration. The show was this disjointed and melodramatic. And pointless. The cause of popular awareness of what historical research entails was set back by 3000 years watching this hunk of crap show.
And, America: whenever you meet someone who claims to be a doctor and he has large piercings in his ears and is carrying a map depicting what Edgar Cayce said would happen to America and earnestly relays to you that Edgar Cayce was "usually right," I would HOPE that you would demand to see/hear this person's credentials.
And "looking it up on the Internet" is NOT research, America. Jesus! I cannot remember ever feeling such rage at a television show, mostly because I knowcall me smug or superior, fineI KNOW that the audience is generally going to be too stupid to spot the slag-heap of logical and procedural flaws that make this show the piece of crap that it is.
The History Channel sucks. Take it from me, I'm a doctor. No. Really. Trust me.
Illegal Use of Joe Zopp (2008)
I recently moved to the area of the country where this was filmed and, a few minutes into watching, felt like I understood exactly what I was seeing.
This film, I would bet, was written over the course of several years by members of a high school clique with a deep interest in films and film-making. Maybe one or two of them went to film school? One of their hobbies would have been making/editing short videos, mostly "mook" comedy in sketch form? Once Dogme 95 became an artistically acceptable reality, it became okay to make a movie on videotape and this movie became "possible." I'd bet the movie has been seen by many in the area where it was filmed (and not by many anywhere else).
The plot is difficult to follow, the acting amateurish and the cinematography non-existent. But, those who made the movie can say--and I have no doubt they do--that they made a movie. They started it and finished it. Not many can say that...
I don't know anyone involved in the making of this film, but it seems very familiar. There are lots of these "made by locals for locals" movies in the annals of film, and they all have that DIY feel that is almost impossible to overlook. "Terror in the Swamp/Nutria Man" was the movie made in my hometown by hometown boys, and it is about as bad as this one. If these "Legend of Boggy Creek" type movies teach us anything, it is that, as bad as Hollywood's movies are, they aren't as easy to make as we think. Because, when "we"--and by "we" I mean amateurs--try to make them, the results are often mediocre at best and laughable at worst.
If you aren't from Wisconsin's Chippewa Valley, 90% of this movie will fall flat for you. If you ARE from the Chippewa Valley, you'll probably be too distracted noticing that fact to notice what is going on.
Shot on video for pretty much no other reason than the filmmakers had no other choice.
GRADE: D for appearance and content, A for effort.
Black Swan (2010)
Intellectual Canary in the Coalmine
One thought occurred to me as this movie flailed and writhed out of control: the intellectual life of the United States is in deep, deep trouble. When this movie is the best that Hollywood has to offer anymore--and it IS head and shoulders above most movies coming out of Hollywood--then the world of (American) mainstream film is circling the drain in a very tight orbit, indeed.
This movie is the story of an anal-retentive dancer who has (under a lifetime of jealous pressure from her ex-dancer mother) become so obsessed with the idea of "perfection" that it has become intertwined with her quasi-lesbian sexuality. She displaces her resentment of her mother and her own flaws and repressed sexuality onto a lover/rival dancer and incorporates all of this psychological flotsam and jetsam into her upcoming role as the Black Swan in "Swan Lake." That all sounds very highbrow and interesting, I know, but I'm doing my very best to be diplomatic, here, and it really isn't.
The worst problem with this movie is the use of insultingly obvious special effects to explain to the dumb kids in the audience what is going on.
"Look! She's looking at HERSELF in another person!" "Look! Her legs are bending like a SWAN's! And she has WINGS!" "Look! Her rival is having sex with the Swan Prince!" And so on.
I'm of two very different minds on this movie. On the one hand, it's well-made. The lighting and scene composition are really exquisite. The special effects are spectacular. Some of the acting is even passable, though Natalie Portman lurches around like a mental patient on Thorazine.
The problem is that the plot is dreadful. It's hypersexual, unrealistically nasty and full of embarrassing clichés. The ballet director--and I'm not making this up--is an oversexed Frenchman who calls "his" girls things like "Little Princess." It really reminded me of "Showgirls" a lot. Ooh! Right! I got it! If you want a summary of this movie, here it is: Imagine "Showgirls." Now imagine that "Showgirls" has completed 30 hours of master's work in cinema and just drank a pot of coffee and was in the mood to talk. Except, instead of strippers, imagine ballet dancers. That's "Black Swan."
GRADE: C-. Things to look for: Winona Ryder chewing scenery, sudden lesbian sex, the director loses his mind.
Overpoweringly Ridiculous...Simply Dreadful Cinema
If you willingly go to see this, you are asking--nay, insisting--that your intelligence be insulted. There are absolutely no redeeming qualities to this film aside from its making itself available for mockery with its heavy-handed, unrelenting cheesiness and awful, awful dialogue. I swear, even the scenes in which people are speaking Russian sound stupid.
This is the story of a woman--a skeletally thin woman--who works for the CIA. Yes, it's been done to death. Anyway, she...You know what? I'm not going to even go over the plot. Just imagine "Tomb Raider," except with anachronism-addicted Soviets running around and a 90 pound woman knocking out men the size of Sonny Liston with one limp-wristed blow.
And the plot holes! Does she love the husband or did she just marry him for the cover? If the CIA "can't find back past" a certain point, do they REALLY let you become a higher-up in the organization?! Please, please trust me. This is not fit to be looked upon. Save your eyes. Save your brain! This film WILL make you dumber.
Grade: F. Things to look for: Angelina Jolie's bizarre running style, physics defied left and right, Angelina Jolie in a bizarre disguise that kind of makes her look like Terri Gibbs without the dark glasses.
Einayim Petukhoth (2009)
As Sad and Complex as Real Life
I just saw this at the Minneapolis-St. Paul film festival. A powerful, relentless film that seems to imply, if I can trust my instincts, that "falling in love" is a spiritual phenomenon devoid of gender considerations. Now, I may disagree with this personally, but the director makes such a powerful case for it that it is entertaining to watch.
Also implied is the message that repression produces the opposite effect in the long run...
In the film, a super-fundamentalist butcher in an ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood meets and falls for another man, despite the social and even physical danger. The scene in which the two meet is shot in such a way that even we heterosexuals in the audience can understand. The young apprentice enters from a pouring rain with a cherubic, earnest look on his face and, for just a second, what the director is trying to say echoes in everyone watching.
The scenes between the butcher and his plain yet somehow beautiful and patient wife become more tense and more poignant, even as they become more and more muted.
Overall, this was an excellent film. I gave it four out of five on my ballot.
Things to watch for: Pool of Siloam, frank but not disgusting sex scenes. A-
Ride with the Devil (1999)
Complex and Accurate Historcity Coupled With Great Direction and Writing
It's the craziest thing: I am absolutely fascinated by the obscurities of the Civil War--river naval warfare, telegraph obfuscation, etc.--but had never even HEARD of this movie until I saw it on American Movie Classics. As I watched it, I was amazed at the simultaneous subtlety and depth of the film! The movie tells the story of the guerrilla warfare that took place between "Border Ruffians" in the frontier between Missouri and Kansas during the Civil War. Missouri was a border state that did not secede, but was politically dominated by pro-slavery forces. Kansas, on the other hand, was a hotbed of Unionist, anti-slavery forces. And if you think the politics of today are ugly, you should research the brutality of the bushwackers and jayhawkers. Imagine anti-abortion and pro-abortion people shooting, stabbing and scalping each other rather than just yelling at each other.
Anyway, this is an excellent film. And I am not being politically correct when I am forced to point out that Jeffrey Wright's spot-on performance as Daniel Holt, a slave caught somewhere between freedom, slavery and war was the best in the film. And, yes, that is exactly how some black men ended up fighting for the south.
Another surprise: Jewel Kilcher can ACT! What surprised me even more than this movie's existence (and Jewel's acting abilities) was its DIRECTOR. I HATED, HATED, HATED that "Crouching Tiger" movie that everybody went nuts for. HATED it. That this film was done by the same guy is absolutely amazing.
A highly recommended film. A-.
Things to watch for: William Quantrill and the absolutely historically accurate portrayal of the Sacking of Lawrence, Kansas; hiding out in a hillside "bombproof," guerrilla warfare, 19th-century style.
Public Enemies (2009)
Well-Made Cinematically, But Shallow
Who was John Dillinger? We all know he was a flamboyant criminal who robbed banks, but who WAS he? The question of who Dillinger WAS is far more interesting than the question of what Dillinger DID, but this film, sadly, chose only to concentrate seriously on the latter and gave up almost immediately on the former.
This film goes out of its way--with a poor grasp of history's time-line, by the way--to show us what Dillinger did and who he hung around with, but it does next to nothing to explore who Dillinger was as a person or even as a criminal. It hints that Dillinger might be a passionate lover and loyal friend, but shows us little evidence aside from a few thrown-together seduction scenes (which make his girlfriend/heroine look like a dim-witted pushover) and an awkward love scene.
Even Dillinger's foil, Melvin Purvis, is a mystery in Mann's hands. Did he care about justice at all, or was he just a fascist on a personal crusade? Was he competent in the least or was he just a bumbling idiot? Squinty-eyed stares can only convey so much, after all.
Michael Mann seems to be in a terrible hurry to tell this story, as he is stuck between the rock of having to relate a relatively complete "crime-ography" of a notorious American gangster and the hard place of keeping the movie shorter than 2 1/2 hours.
As a result, a beautifully shot and edited movie that had a lot of promise ends up little more than a dumb, shoot-'em-up action movie wearing the fedora of "historical romance." Good for a date, but not a serious film.
Grade: C+. Things to look for: Mann's ham-handed and laughably obvious political commentary on the use of torture about 2/3 of the way through the movie; psychotically trigger-happy Baby Face Nelson well-played by Stephen Graham; cool old products (Zenth radio); great fashion sense.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
I Cheered for the Japs
The acting, dialogue and plot were so stupid and the historical accuracy so lacking that no one could ever have enjoyed this. You can't even get drunk and like this movie. The love-triangle, betrayed friend, "but we thought you were dead!" stuff is just so trite and mundane that the mind boggles.
When the Japanese planes finally show up, you find yourself hoping that a big, fat bomb lands right in the middle of this triad of mediocre acting and puts a permanent load of shrapnel in Ben Affleck's career. Worst of all is the insulting of the intelligence of anyone who knows even a little bit about what actually happened that day. No nurses died at Pearl Harbor. Sorry. No women in service died that day at all, actually. We all know that women made a good, solid contribution to the war effort, but historical fact cannot be shoved aside for the sake of symbolism. The women who died at Pearl Harbor were all civilians and, embarrassingly, were all likely caused by US antiaircraft shells landing in the civilian areas of the island, according to the National Park Service.
So there you go. This movie, I am afraid, is sub-dreadful. It is much sound and fury and next to no substance. And if you are a teacher, don't even THINK of using this in a history class, or I will find you.
Grade: D-. Things to look for...parachute sex scene, fighter pilots easily retrain to fly bombers...huh?
Facing the Giants (2006)
If There Is a God, He Walked Out on This Movie
There's a lot to say about this movie, which my mother foisted on me during a visit not long ago. I was embarrassed by and for this movie the entire time I watched, and it really was a frightening peek into the psyches of American evangelicals.
The movie centers around a football coach who ends up at a small Christian school. At least, I think it was a Christian school, because people here seemed to quote scripture for everything from pepping each other up to taking a leak. Anyway, the coach is really down on his luck; his car's no good, he can't get his wife pregnant, and he starts off with an 0 and 3 season. But, in one of the film's repeated and ENDLESS "prayer" scenes, the coach has a conversation with God and "turns it all over" to HIM with a capital "H." But don't get the idea that this is some wimpy, liberal God. The filmmakers are very careful about letting the viewer know that this is the Jesus kind of God. The football-game winnin' kind of God. And, after that, the film becomes dreadfully predictable, cheesy, schmaltzy, boring, formulaic and stupid.
If you are a thinking type of person, this film will do everything it can to insult your intelligence and treat you like the type of person who might voluntarily watch this movie.
Not to mention the dialogue, which sounds as if it were written by teenage boys who've read too many tracts and comic books. Or the acting; the actors look and perform as though they were recruited from the local Foursquare Baptist Church during an altar call. Or the plot, which plays out like every born again Christian's reality-spiting fantasy.
Things to watch for: The ENDLESS, badly-cut "Death crawl" scene; wife praying to have baby she can brainwash; opposing coach playing the "villain."
Agata e la tempesta (2004)
Beautifully photographed and ably acted, generally, but the writing is very slipshod. There are scenes of such unbelievability that there is no joy in the watching. The fact that the young lover has a twin brother, for instance, is so contrived that I groaned out loud. And the "emotion-light bulb connection" seems gimmicky, too.
I don't know, though. If you have a few glasses of wine and feel like relaxing with something pretty to look at with a few flaccid comedic scenes, this is a pretty good movie. No major effort on the part of the viewer required. But Italian film, especially Italian comedy, is usually much, much better than this.
Triumph des Willens (1935)
Right in the Gut...
The reason this film upsets us so much is because, no matter how we try to deny it, it works. Well. Riefenstahl's intent was to move the audience to react with positive emotion to the images and people depicted in it, and we do. If we allow ourselves to be completely unguarded, we find our spines tingling in time to the shining faces and blonde hair and lockstep masses of troops passing the camera to the tune of "The Koeniggraetzer March." If we aren't careful and view this film too objectively, the subject matter ceases to be repulsive.
We who are descendants of The Allies have a difficult time with the idea that the Germans were anything but willing participants in an evil movement. This film makes us rethink the image that the movement held up for itself and how easy it might be to buy it without the hindsight of history. Perhaps the Germans weren't so stupid...it might have just been a bad national purchase based on one hell of an infomercial.
Things to watch for: Hitler as Wotan; World's Scariest Youth Rally; Foot-Tappin' March Music
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
What Was That Again?
I saw this less than 24 hours ago and yet couldn't give you a credible synopsis of exactly what the movie was about. Maybe it was the Xanax I had taken to deal with a theater full of four-year-olds (my wife drove), or maybe it was the utter forgettability of the story and animation.
The movie seemed to be some hyper-political, supernuanced side story about the Jedis (Jedies? Jedi?) and Jabba the Hutt, whose son gets stolen by some evil monks or something. Frankly, the story came out of nowhere and I--only a nominal Star Wars fan--had no idea what the hell I was watching.
On the ride home, though, my son mentions that there will be a TV cartoon series--or maybe he said there already was one--that was related to the movie. Suddenly I understood that the puzzling and unsatisfactory little cartoon I had just seen was like a teaser for a TV show.
Truthfully, it must not have been AWFUL, or I would remember something negative to point out. Likewise, it must not have been great, or I would remember something I liked. All I seem to be able to remember is a gay Jabba the Hutt in drag. That is not a joke, I swear. There is a gay Jabba the Hutt with a South Carolina accent in this cartoon! I can't tell if that's a spoiler or not, but I'm pretty sure it isn't.
Anyway, if you have kids under six, like me, you could do worse. If you DON'T have kids, you couldn't. Stay home.
Things to look for: Gay Jabba the Hutt from South Carolina in drag.
Step Brothers (2008)
The High Wears Off Quickly
This could be a funnier movie if it had been written by intelligent people and acted by performers who knew anything about subtlety. But this movie just throws its testicles in your face early and leaves them there to hang.
Will Farrell and John C. Reilly play two 40-something idiots who never grew up (or moved out) from the homes of their equally stupid, if somewhat more eloquent, parents. The two "boys" act like children, if children were sex-obsessed narcissists who played with Star Wars toys. Think Tom Hanks in "Big," but armed and high on meth.
The movie is supposed to be a parody of the infantilization of American society and the dysfunction of the postmodern family, but that gets lost in all the dog feces and dirty magazines that this movie vomits up.
Granted, there are moments that are just so viscerally ridiculous that something in you HAS to laugh, but every time you do, you feel like the morons in the audience who are just laughing because they think a close up shot of a grown man's testicles is funny.
Do I recommend? Yes, if you are very bored, very dumb or very stoned. Otherwise, save your time and money.
Things to watch for: Mary Steenbergen once again chewing the scenery, "Nice Nice baby," men's urinal put to novel use.
Gods and Generals (2003)
Overlong, Overtalky, Overbad
I am a Civil War nut. I just returned from Chester, Virginia, from which I explored the battlefields featured in this film.
This movie portrays the historical figures involved as one-dimensional, robotic "Hall of Presidents" androids spouting one lame overwritten line after another. As if every conversation between every soldier or general was about Honor or The Cause. Nowhere in this film is the drudgery, misery, or even simple REALITY of living during the Civil War. The battle scenes are like the work of Sir Walter Scott: all banners and hurrahs, no suddenly decapitated corpses walking two more steps, like real life. And could the writers have made Jackson any more insufferable? I assure you: he was not such a self-important windbag in real life. And is it just me, or does Duvall play Lee as if he were a tad gay? So as much as I'd love to see a GOOD, historically accurate movie about the Civil War made, this isn't it. "Glory" is much better from the point of view of character complexity and believability and even HISTORICITY. Even "The Outlaw Josey Wales" makes the effects of war upon humans more apparent than this sadly bloated zombie of a movie.
This had a lot of potential, but very little follow through. C-.
Fun things to watch for: endless and awkward musical numbers; Jackson's death bed scene lasts at least as long as his actual dying, the blaring sound track.
I first caught wind of this movie in a trailer. The TRAILER looked so bad that there was a split second of audible silence in the theater when it was over, and someone groaned out: "That looks awful!" Yes. It did.
And, let me tell you, this movie IS awful. That it exists shakes my faith in humanity. I can only imagine the studio executives being white-guilted into saying yes to this intelligence-insulting piece of cinematic dung.
Perhaps the studio pigs were afraid that if they said no and explained that the movie sounded like a more idiotic version of a well-known Bugs Bunny cartoon, they might be seen as racist and condescending. Sad. Equally sad is the prospect that the executives thought that black audiences are so stupid that they would enjoy this film and that the studio could cash in.
I saw this movie with black people. They did not like it any more than I, in case you were curious.
This "film" may have done some irreparable damage to the Wayans brothers' careers. I hate to say it, but if this is the best they can do these days (compare this to the brilliant "I'm Gonna get You Sucka" and weep) then they deserve to be mopping mens' rooms.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Well, I didn't like it as much as everyone else here, but the movie was pretty good. It's refreshing to see an American film using the comedic value of the ridiculousness of male nudity. Naked woman? Beautiful. Naked man? Hilarious. Why? I don't know. That's just how it is.
The film takes a cute look at American film script staples like betrayal, infidelity, male drama queens, brotherly love, celebrity worship, stupid TV shows, phony, pseudo-spiritual rock stars and vapid actresses, but is detached, ironic and hip enough to make it all work well. Worth the money.
I have to add...Mila Kunis is beautiful. It's hard to tell on "That 70s Show," but in this movie, her eyes and personality shine in a most hypnotic way.
B+. Things to watch for: lame rock star tattoos, bad lyrics a' la "Him", and Hawaiian scenery. I never, ever wanted to visit Hawaii until I saw this movie. I kinda do, now.
School Ties (1992)
Not So Good
Moral of this story: the children of Israel are moral, tough, upstanding and courageous while anyone who attends a prep school is a cowardly, sneaky bigot.
The scene where someone hangs a swastika over David's bed is so incredibly stupid and anachronistic that my mind simply won't wrap around it. As if American teens in the 1950s would use NAZI symbolism to convey their dislike. These are the kids whose big brothers fought the war against the "dirty Krauts," and here we see them hanging Nazi flags. Likely? No.
And then, of course, all his enemies get theirs because THEY are the ones who are the REAL cheats. Get it? The BIGOTS are projecting! Meanwhile, I'm projectile vomiting.
So, yeah. This movie is awful.
Fun things to watch for: lame football scenes, car in the house, young Damon whateverhisnameis.
Le cinquième élément (1997)
Capital A Annoying
I think the director, Luc Besson (who is himself annoying), made one of the most annoying films in history in "The Fifth Element." The acting, the special effects, the music, all guaranteed to set your teeth on edge. Of course, the most annoying character is the one with the bad orange dye job, Leeloo. Can you think of a more annoying name than "Leeloo," by the way? She speaks an annoying fake language and generally CHEWS, MUNCHES and MAULS the scenery. Her acting had me CRINGING. I mean BAD.
Then there are the annoying aliens, badly made up, the annoying villains, the annoying Chris Tucker, the annoying flying cars, and the hair-raisingly annoying musical sequence in which a blue-skinned squid lip-syncs to an annoying fake electronic voice.
SO. Long story short: this film is an annoying piece. Skip it. You really won't miss it. And, yes, Bruce Willis is annoying, too, in case you thought I'd give him a pass.
Shrek the Third (2007)
A Shrek Too far
A movie too many, a laugh too few. This installment of Shrek is so unlike the first two in terms of energy and humor that its almost like one of those cheesy made-for-TV or straight-to-video versions that the studios make just to cash in on the popularity of a title.
The movie slogs through a story about Shrek and Fiona having to replace the deceased frog king unless they can find another heir. Shrek's time at the "high school" is so tortured that you can almost smell the coffee the writers had to brew to get through the brainstorming sessions.
Not good, I'm sorry to say. The first two were so clever that this ends up seeming...well...crappy by comparison.
Part of success is knowing when to stop.
Only in America
Cinematic flaws? Yes. But I don't want to be too long-winded, because I don't want to cushion the shock of what I'm about to say.
You know how stupid the people in this movie looked to you? How dumb, trashy, shallow? That's what America is looking like to a LOT of the rest of the world these days. Think about it.
I think this movie should be shown in HISTORY classes when discussing the downfalls of long-lived empires (or nations). Maybe then we might get a little cold fear in our bellies, fear of ending up with a wrestler (or bodybuilder) President who can barely speak English. Or fear that the dimwit with ten kids in front of you in line at the grocery store is raising the Senators of tomorrow.
Mike Judge is a prophet. I just wish Fox had backed him up more.
Good Story, Good Acting, Bad Cinematography
I actually wasn't afraid of any of the scariest stuff, although I wanted to be. Why wasn't I scared? Because the incredibly DARK scenes and the camera shifting too rapidly made me STOP CARING. I got frustrated that I couldn't see what was going on and gave up, emotionally. The darkness was obviously on purpose, as it contrasted sharply with the brightness of the scary ending, but if I can't see, I can't give a darn.
But Donald Sutherland's performance is good and Jeff Goldblum is uncharacteristically understated.
Things to watch for: the un-sexiest nude scene ever
Der Wald vor lauter Bäumen (2003)
Ouch. A Painful FIlm to Watch.
Eva Loebau plays Melanie, an almost socially retarded young teacher who moves to Karlsruhe to begin her career. Her shyness and painfully embarrassing inability to read people makes for one social and career error after another.
She awkwardly befriends a hip and attractive neighbor and then, with her pathetic neediness and constant visits (not to mention her failure to understand subtle interpersonal cues) drives the neighbor to hate her. This, coupled with her legion of problems at work, precipitates Melanie's mental breakdown.
The subject matter, direction, and Loebau's acting makes the film VIBRATE with unease and tension which makes parts of the film almost impossible to watch. Add to this the fact that it was shot on video, giving it a "you are there" realism, and you may need a shot of homemade schnapps to keep from squirming.
Date Movie (2006)
Thoroughly unfunny film filled to the brim with bad writing, sloppy editing and jokes that, even when meant to be dumb, are still too dumb to be funny.
Nothing could have saved this movie from the script. Alyson Hannigan's performance is heavy on "cute," light on actual thespian effort. The one slightly--SLIGHTLY--bright spot in this otherwise very dark stain on cinema is the performance of Fred Willard spoofing Dustin Hoffman. Otherwise, have your Prozac handy. You will feel your IQ plummet as you watch.
Things to watch for: The end, the exit.