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Wrong in so many ways.
This movie was a very depressing experience, not what I was expecting from the misleading trailer (the moment in the trailer when he goes to the garage door is the biggest bait and switch I have ever seen). Essentially, this film is one big lie (once again, including the trailer.) A filmmaker has no right to complain that he is being lied to while patching a hidden microphone to his chest. He bemoans being made a fool after a series of too-good-to-be-true incidents occur. But when it becomes apparent that the filmmakers have stumbled upon some deeply disturbed sickness, they continue to shoot for the sake of not being "lazy" and completing a film. It's akin to the age-old question of "Is it right to televise executions?" Some things are just not meant to be filmed. I do recommend the film "tallhotblond" which tells the same type of story to much better effect in a jaw-dropping manner. I guess the moral of Catfish was don't befriend eight year old girls on Facebook.
Mister Lonely (2007)
Basking in glow of it.
Just got through watching this and had to comment on how wonderful it is. I am a big fan of Harmony Korine but if I hadn't known he had made this, I would have never guessed it was his film (I probably would have guessed John Sayles first).
So many amazing sequences in this film--the first Flying Nun sequence is unbelievable and I cannot get it out of my mind, brilliantly edited. The "Singing Egg" sequence almost had me crying and I don't normally get choked up. The stage show was also very poignant. And Werner Herzog's performance was pitch perfect.
I normally don't gush over movies, but Mister Lonely was so original, I need to gush. My one peccadillo? Not sure the title fits the movie.
(P.S. I hate critics and the ones on Rotten Tomatoes who called this a chore to sit through suck the most).
Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
I have not had this bad of a reaction to a film since Irreversible, and every time I think of Zack and Miri, I feel sick again. There is something very wrong with this movie, and I think a large part of it was casting Elizabeth Banks, who is above the material. The movie defiles her.
A better title would be Zack and Miri Is a Porno Movie, because it is, and for Smith to be shocked about it and use the "this day and age" argument is wrong on his behalf. And there is also something very wrong about a middle-aged man including such a disgusting poo joke in his film.
I didn't even want to comment on this film because I am not a fan of Smith's movies (even though I have seen them all and keep giving him a try, and I did like Clerks II). I must say that I love his Evening With Kevin Smith DVD's and watch them multiple times. I wish he could make his entire career from his speaking engagements.
Disaster Movie (2008)
This one was the best of the bunch
Ever year, I sucker myself into seeing these "Movie" movies, and I've walked out on two of them already (Epic Movie and Meet The Spartans). But I hate to say it (and I really do hate to say it) that I enjoyed Disaster Movie. It was not a perfect comedy at all, and maybe my expectations ran low, but I actually laughed at a lot of this. I think the writers took a route this time of less cringe and more dialog development (yes, I mean that). Seems the characters in this film are taking a moment or two to react to what's going on around them, and the reaction dialog helped the comedy immensely. Overall, I was just glad I didn't feel compelled to walk out again.
Good in doses
I watched this in two parts like I did with The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. With each movie, I got a little tired of them at the halfway point. But I did enjoy a lot of Blobermouth. First of all, I remember being a big fan of the original but had not seen it in year. Watching it with a different soundtrack shows that very little happens in the movie (lots of talk). There are some very clever jokes in this version, particularly from the female lead. When the characters go into shadows, they will shout "Where did my head go!" And the Aunt Bea segment is an absolute riot--dead on! They also make fun of Steve McQueen keeping his hands in his pockets. However, the musical breaks are needless and unfunny. The animated lips on The Blob are annoying at first, but once he continues to deliver Henny Youngman jokes, the character becomes funnier. They mostly get it right, it is just a little long.
American Dreamz (2006)
Yes, Yes, Yes!
This movie was soooo good and sooo funny, non-stop laughs and pitch perfect performances from everyone. Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Willem Dafoe, Hugh Grant (he was like watching Simon Cowell up there). The whole film worked from start to finish and had some of the biggest laughs in years. The film is very much "of the moment" with its mirroring American Idol, the President, and terrorism, but it hits everything right on the head. Chris Klein, towards the end of the movie, has one of the funniest lines I have heard in decades. The movie also zooms by. I saw it at the festival in Cleveland, but if it was during regular release, I would have sat and watched it again. Great one!
This was just fantastic!
As Barfly is one of my favorite movies of all time, I was very interested in seeing how Matt Dillon would take over the Chinaski reigns. At first it was a little disconcerting because Dillon plays it almost the polar opposite of what Rourke did. While Rourke was out there, Dillon was very quiet but in a hilarious, Jim Jarmusch kind of way. One scene that was so indicative of the writer wanting to be left alone is when a co-worker is looking forward to meeting Chinaski, and the meeting is filled with silence.
Matt Dillon has matured into a great actor and I am glad he was nominated for Crash, and I would like to see him nominated for this too. Marisa Tomei and Lili Taylor were also wonderful. There are two scenes that are taken directly from Barfly, which is also interesting to see. Any fan of Bukowski's work must see this excellent film
The Ice Harvest (2005)
Doesn't Live Up To Trailer
The Ice Harvest isn't quite cool enough or funny enough or even violent enough. It suffers from a "been there, seen that" syndrome with too many copycat performances from better films (Cusack from Grosse Point Blank and Thorton from Bandits). The movie is a blend of A Simple Plan, Bad Santa and The Ice Storm, and the blended recipe winds up watered down. The only real surprise here is Oliver Platt's over-the-top yet hilarious comic performance, complete with his pants getting ripped off. It is a shame that Platt gets lost for the entire middle of the movie, because his physical comedy (which he is not really known for) completely livens up the show.
The Aristocrats (2005)
You know a film about joke making is in trouble when the biggest laughs come from a scene with a mime. The Aristocrats is a mind-numbing, infantile blur. The supposed set-up of the first and last line being the same, but the middle being different, was a crock and a lie. Each comedian's so-called brilliant, jazzy riff of the joke's middle section is THE SAME JOKE. It's the same joke, one hundred times over. Each "brilliant" mind comes up with same thing--crap and incest. It becomes apparent and tiring within the first ten minutes. One of the worst of the year. The much lauded scene with Bob Saget is stupid, as he giggles his way through the same nonsense that 80 other comedians said before we get to him.
The Brown Bunny (2003)
Sex scene shuts it down
First of all, I went into this with preconceived notions because of the Ebert battle. From the first shot of the motorcycle race, I thought it was going to be awful. Then I got involved and found it dreamlike and sad. I would be interested in seeing the full version from Cannes, because I thought that the scene in the salt-roads (which Ebert complained about being too long) was capitvating. I do, however, think that the graphic sex brings the viewer out of the movie and into another realm. What goes from a dream-like experience becomes "my God, is that real, is she really doing that?" I became aware that I was watching a movie and that it was uncomfortable to watch such a graphically filmed scene. I do not think that it needed to be so graphic. The shots that Gallo intercutted, which were not as graphic, were just as effective. That said, I am still a fan of Gallo's film-making. He is original, and I suspect he will remain that way.
Amongst worst ever
This movie deserved all the slams that it got. Repulsive, meandering, pointless. The only pleasant surprise in this mess was that it was evidently not JLo's fault, which is what I was at least led to believe. She is fine, it is that boyfriend of hers who is rotten. Unbelievable that that talented Martin Brest both wrote and directed this. Really unbelievable. It is not the kind of bad movie you could get a kick out of watching, like Plan 9. The scene with the fish tank is disgusting and out of left field. This could be the worst movie ever made.
La petite Lili (2003)
Nice adaptation that loses steam
This adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull starts out promising enough with a good ensemble cast, great art direction and interesting relationships between all the characters, but then it just peters out, especially the final film-production sequence which has absolutely nothing to say. A fair film.
Cinerama Adventure (2002)
Belongs on PBS, better yet an extra on DVD
I was really looking forward to this doc as I have seen This In Cinerama on three-screen projection and have been obsessed with the process. The documentary is one missed opportunity after another, basically a puff-piece with the worst, I repeat, THE WORST music score put to film (a good chunk of it is from How The West Was Won and the Mormon Tabernacle segment from This Is Cinerama, but there is so much Americana Heartland-style music, it is like a bad exhibition from Disneyworld.) The documentary is just too sedate for its subject. The smilebox screen of the cinerama footage is well done and the stories from original production people, including an incredible flight over a volcano, is amazing. I just really, really wish the doc itself was more exciting.
Go Further (2003)
A great, joyous, funny documentary
Caught this at the Chicago film festival and loved it so much that I saw it twice. This journal about an enlightening road trip has so many wonderful moments that even if you don't agree with its principles, you will still have a good time. I discovered some life-changing tips, which hardly even happens at the movies. But don't go for the message, go for the good time. Great musical interludes too!
The Singing Detective (2003)
Sorely misses its mark
Firstly, this project needed a much more stylized director than Keith Gordon, who is fine for straight, simple films but just doesn't know how to film a frame. The movie is dour, lacking of any real magic, and is only worth it to witness the funny and stunning transformation of Mel Gibson. Even the songs chosen were unoriginal. A total misfire.
In America (2002)
Another wonderful film from Sheridan
This is a great, intimate film of a family that features a stunning performance from the young Emma Bolger as the six-year-old daughter. She has a scene in an ice-cream shop that is Oscar worthy and amazing from someone so young. The movie works through its tense individual segments, such as a carnival game that kept the audience in silent anticipation. Lots of tears in the crowd at the end. Should show up in a lot of Oscar categories.
The Human Stain (2003)
Kidman all wrong
This mediocre movie is made worse by the miscasting of Nicole Kidman. She cannot pull of the wasted life girl and she winds up shrill. This is probably her worst performance yet. Also, I am more than happy to see Jacinda Barrett in a full-frontal nude strip scene, but the scene is as uncomfortably gratuitous as the Reese Witherspoon scene in Benton's last film Twilight. It just feels creepy.
American Splendor (2003)
Should see best pix nom
This jewel box of a film has a lot of terrific stuff, including great performances from Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis and Donal Logue. Lots of little magical touches make this a great, great film--the comic book opening, the surprise animation, the mixture of documentary and narrative, the actors sitting and actually watching the characters they play, and the surprise ending. This movie does not fall into conventions because it follows real life. Hope Davis should win the award for this and hopefully it will propel her stardom further.
The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)
The Real Deal, Kiddo
This beautifully shot, poetic documentary is amazing, especially given its source material, the guilty-pleasure-ridden book of the same name. Evans's life floats in front of us like a dream. Though his spotty track record is basically glorified, his film-noir type narration is so infectious, the viewer cannot help but be sucked into his story. If nothing else, it is a good lesson in persistence.
Extremely depressing doc
I feel a little cheated by this documentary as it seemed to be packaged as a quirky comedy and it is downright depressing. One of the cinephiles mentions that the obsession is like being in a prison, which is true, but the film wasn't presented that way. At best, the five subjects are sad and at worst, they are sick. They cross the line of being "buffs" to living unfulfilled lives in which they will see thousands and thousands of movies and then just die. They live in death traps, do not work and seemingly cannot even dress properly. The movie's whimsical tone betrays the truth and the viewer leaves knowing that these five people will never be any better. Sour.
The Italian Job (2003)
The heavens parted and down came Charlize Theron
The Italian Job is a pretty good, fast moving action film with lots of good car chases, but it is no Ronin. Still and regardless, it could have been the worst made film in the world and I would still give it thumbs way up for the opportunity to look at the beautiful face of Charlize Theron. Her blinding, Helen-of-Troy type beauty is overwhelming.
Final Destination 2 (2003)
Lots of gross stuff!
Haven't seen the first one (YET!) so didn't know what to expect. Does not disappoint in the gore department. People are picked off in every imaginable away--squashed, pierced, sliced. This is pretty, pretty gross.
Marci X (2003)
I am not surprised to hear that this sat on the shelf for so long because it is dealing with a controversy that is 4 years old. Neither Benjamin or Rudnick have the chops for this kind of material but this lame comedy based on the Time Warner rap controversy is as old as stale bread. Skip it.
View from the Top (2003)
Not a bad flight
This movie had the worst buzz about it but it is not half-bad. At the very least, it is an simple but enjoyable movie about following dreams. Paltrow, Applegate and Preston are all beautiful Myers is pretty funny as the cross-eyed trainer. The movie breezes by, it is a good rental.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Sort of Texas Chainsaw
This is a blender mix of a movie, very strange with a lot of old footage and annoying characters. Chris Hardwick is unrecognizable! The best part of the DVD was the non-stop introduction by the characters. They went on forever and forever, in a good way.