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G. K. Chesterton
Instant Family (2018)
I didn't expect much walking into this movie, but I have to admit I was floored by the extremely nuanced and heartfelt themes of this movie. It's not the fluffy comedy that the posters and trailers might lead you to believe
The Orville (2017)
This show started with a lot of potential but it has become an enervated and lazy retread of The Next Generation. I even had to look up to see if Isaac was being voiced by Brent Spiner, because the voice is so close and the robotic character is a rip-off of Data, just as Bortus is a rip off of Worf, and so on and so on.
Love him or hate him, MacFarlane isn't usually this lazy and derivative. I expected much more from him and this series.
Great Writing and Story!
This little film packs a surprisingly big emotional punch, but it really succeeds because of the quiet scenes which are exceptionally well-written. The characters talk like real people and the challenges never explode up into lazily written melodramatic struggles between good and evil. Instead the characters deal with the things we all deal with, and that's what lends the writing its power. New writer/director Jai Jamison shows immense natural talent as both a director and a writer and I certainly expect and hope to see more films from this young and promising artist. His work captures all the beauty of a good documentary and mixes it with all the power of fiction to create a movie that I'd never thought that I would have loved... but I did.
The Ladykillers (2004)
The way of all flesh... is death. The righteous woman is beset on all sides with evil men.
Who know morality plays could be so funny? The Coen Brothers
do not disappoint. As in the original the dark mood of retribution is
retained but Tom Hanks irreverent comic character is one of the
Coen's brother's best characters since the big Lebowski.
I have seen posts saying the caper plot is predictable, but that's
not the point at all. The point is karmic retribution in funny ways.
The one woman who doesn't need money and gives it all away is
the one person who receives the money. Everyone ends up on the
trashheap eventually and the money can't stop that.
Deep, Dark Comedy. Great Stuff. Got to love the Coens.
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Woody Allen's Best
Annie Hall was amusing but bereft of any depth. It was like Seinfeld without Kramer sliding through the door. A great piece of banter and amusing but...
This is Allen's masterpiece. There is an element of the work that doesn't need to advertise itself - an aching desire. It's not on the screen. It's behind the screen. It's about loving movies. It's an autobiography.
¡Three Amigos! (1986)
This is an homage to many old comedies: Old jokes, Silent movie
plot lines. It's like a Laurel and Hardy film that was never made.
The movie is the joke. Much like Blazing Saddles or Young
Frankenstein. I don't know why more people don't get the joke and
rate this movie higher. As it is, it is definitely underrated.
The Fast Show (1994)
Outdoes SNL in creativity and editing
An American not familiar with this show, as I was, will probably compare it to SNL (Saturday Night Live).
However, there are four big differences. One, it's not live. Two, no music. Three, no guest stars. Four, it's consistently funny.
Anyone who has watched SNL will know that for every absolutely-roll-in-the-isle-genius-sketch, there are about ten poor ones.
These sketches range from the monotonous to the downright painful. Then there are the painful one-joke movie franchises (Wayne's World excluded).
Then I saw the Fast Show, while living abroad a few years. Each sketch was hilarious or memorable, and each character was inspired and sometimes even vaguely rounded.
The editors are intelligent enough to cut off one joke characters before five minutes of an painful, drawn-out sketch. In the Fast Show it is: character's on, cut to a new character, cut back, cut to a new character, cut back etc. Humor is mostly timing, anyway.
Imagine SNL with much better editing and consistently funny and that's what you've got here. It is disappointing that the talent in the show has gone largely unrecognized to this point.
Summer's Gone (1999)
Impressive, if taken in context.
I heard of this movie on my college campus many times until it took on the status of an urban myth for my particular campus. When I stumbled upon a copy of the film, naturally, I was eager to see it. And I was impressed.
Several Duke students under the direction of Steve Zapotoczny hammered together this film with less than thirty thousand dollars. The fact that the film exists at all is quite a feat.
SPOILER: It is a story about life-long friends, Todd and Costen, separated by Todd's sudden death. It is about what brings us together and how we cope when relationships must end.
After Todd's death, Costen cannot cope and he only finds solace talking with Todd's girlfriend. Soon their
mutual solace grows into something more and this becomes another source of pain. The film is narrated by Costen to a camera while he toys with a gun in his hand, seeking any kind of relief.
Sure, there is hokey dialogue and there are contrived plot lines in abundance, but the main actors and especially the film makers do a laudable job in this student film. And as you watch it, it does grab you, you are interested in the character's fates. The emotions seem much more valid than other larger budgeted pieces in the same genre. At the end of the film, you have to give it the benefit of the doubt and be impressed
what these film makers manage with such a small budget. It captures the zeitgeist of Duke campus in the late nineties.
I seriously doubt any one reading this will have a chance to watch this movie but all of the errors in the film are errors of experience and not errors in judgment or taste. In short, it is a rough gem (sometimes very rough). If you happen to find a copy - watch it.
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)
Chris Doyle - genius
This is a strong, powerful story. Director Phillip Noyce made a wise decision to get out of its way and simply let this story do its own talking.
But the true master here is Chris Doyle - the film's Director of Photography. Doyle, who is best known for his innovative work with Wong Kar-Wai, weaves in many possible visual interpretations of the story.
Some of his static shots are organized to reflect the knotted, natural shape of aboriginal art. In another shot he divides the frame between silhouette and sky. The running girls are moving silhouettes just like everything else in the frame. There is only land and sky, and through the visual language the three girls literally become a part of the land. There were many other shots that were beautifully and subtly orchestrated, but I recommend you see this film and view them for yourself.
Much of the credit for the success of this film has to be given to Christopher Doyle. His photography captures the essence of the land and the characters without explicitly advertising it.
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
A noble failure
Moore presents complex questions in interesting ways. He uses
many provocative techniques to make his points. But when he
invites the audiences to laugh at simpletons, he continues on the
biased reporting he so skillfully skewers.
This is not coercion by fear. This is coercion by fear of looking bad
and altering images to suit his argument. Now any filmmaker
does this and it is not harmful in itself, but Moore should be
ashamed at some of the tricks he pulled and some of the facts he
Scotland had a very shocking outbreak of massive lethal school
violence very near the same time as Columbine. It was not
reported in the US. I have been to Toronto, and their slums are not
bright and gleaming. And a serious question that Moore
completely avoids is inner city gangs (responsible for some violent
shootings). Moore does not explore or even mention, say the lyrics
of Snoop Doggy Dog that brag about having shot anyone who
disrespects him. Moore does not show up at Snoop Dogs mansion and publicly humiliate him, such as he did to Charlton
Heston. Heston may or may not be a bigoted wealthy white guy,
but he deserves the same respect (or convenient editing) that
Moore showed Matt Stone or Marilyn Manson, if he agrees to an
interview (besides he has Alzheimer's for god's sake - Moore
could have at least let him make his points before he disagreed
with them ).
Seperating out and targeting, so called, "white America" as
bigots is simply too easy. There are serious problems in other first
world nations. To interview a few looneys and then point the finger
at one specific thing... well, Moore has simply formed another
stereotype... he's found another easy answer.
Moore is unfairly finding an easy target for complex problems,
however I congratulate him for tackling the problem at all. This is a
serious issue, and Moore does make a provocative statement
about it. However such cheap shots as editing in a principal of a
school home to a tragic school shooting breaking down to cry and
Moore hugging her, are pure emotional manipulation worthy of an
See this movie, and see it with your mind on. Take Moore's points
and weigh them. Do your own research. Don't call him a butter ball
as some on this site have done. Don't call him the second coming
of Christ as some on this site have done. Listen to Moore's points
and then intelligently agree or disagree. All in all, my opinion is
Moore has crafted a noble failure.
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
Goldmember capitalizes on what 1 & 2 gave glimpses of.
This film returns austin to his english roots. The humor is dry, the humor is raunchy, the humor is overstated, the humor is understated. Parts are subtle, parts are anything but... The humour is basically english though.
And the humor is physical. Old style physical comedy was becoming a dying art, with dozens of cheap rip offs of jim carrey routinely passing as a limp substitutes for it. This film is the first in a long time that reminds me of the keystone cops, laurel and hardy or charlie chaplin. The funny is funny and the film lacks pretension or an absorption with plot details that encumber humor. This film is the first to capitalize on all the humor the other two movies gave us glimpses of. Mike Myers is not but may yet become this generation's peter sellers, or charlie chaplin. I'm looking forward to whatever comes next.
I shut off the movie at the point where...
where Wordsworth turns with gleeful villainy and spouts some sort of line like "I destroyed it because I DETEST it, and everything it stood for." And then he curls his moustache and ties Coleridge's small son to a railroad track... well
maybe I made up that last part...
The performers were quite good, but script was awful because the script I assume was written on a bet to try and mix a Scooby-Doo adventure with BBC melodrama. Because at the end our villain is unmasked, our hero is vindicated and Wordsworth might have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those darn hippies. CURSES, foiled again.
This film is an embarrassment to history, to screenwriting, and to literature. I gave this film a 1 because there is no zero.
We Were Soldiers (2002)
Best Vietnam movie
I was disposed to dislike this film because of the horrible trailers. I was pleasantly surprised however during the advance screening. This is a meaty film with plenty to admire, provoke and digest. Sure there are about half a dozen lines that might make potential script writers squirm but Randall Wallace has succeeded brilliantly in the goal he set for himself (he spoke after the screening). And that was the goal of telling the soldiers stories... devoid of any extraneous political complications. These men fought for each other. Wallace also doesn't make the mistake of dehumanizing the enemy. The Vietnamese are given a great deal of sympathetic screen time. As Wallace said, the only enemy is war itself and he made a conscious effort to have no "evil" characters. This is a story about the men who have to fight the politicians' wars... and how they do it. The epic scope of Braveheart is here transposed to the modern day and for me... by the end of the movie it really worked.
This is the best movie about Vietnam, that is actually about Vietnam.
Other great films on the subject are about the filmmaker's psyche more than the war itself (Apocalypse Now, Deerhunter, even Platoon). This film while sometimes graphic and sometimes controversial (Wallace's inclusion of Hal Moore's catholicism may offend many) is an excellent work of filmmaking. Don't let the trailers deter you. This is a
The Man Who Sued God (2001)
I am an American exchange student who just happened to catch
this film while I am studying in Sydney. It was quite a rewarding
First off, Billy Connolly is the most underrated comic in films
today. He naturally has the ability to be funny without trying and he can act with emotion with out all the effort that other actors
like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey expend. In other words, he's a natural. He just needs a clever plot and a well crafted movie to
shine. This is that. The ending is too strongly made and the point
that has been subtly implied throughout the film is rammed home
with reckless abandon, but barring that it is an excellent film.
Well worth a watch.
I expect few insurance companies will agree with my assessment. They aren't portrayed as the heroes of the
piece. Oh well.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Things went boom and I didn't care...
Millions of bucks thrown at this flick,
but to make us care was the trick.
Some producer somewhere failed alot,
and from Bond and Indiana he stole the plot.
But he forget to add characters inside
the overblown CG effects overapplied.
Walking from the cinema quite unserene,
I could remember only Jolie's shower scene.
Now it could be that I am young and horny,
or maybe I have already seen all this baloney.
The only reason my money was not lost
was seeing Chris Barrie was worth the cost.
Quirky sketch of a town and a individual
First off, the title does not refer to the infamous hairstyle but instead a fish which is plentiful in the local waters. This fish is edible but not tasty. The lead characters nickname is therefore Mullet because he fishes for them and because the town sees him as a nuisance after his unexpected arrival back after leaving without a word three years earlier.
The film deals with all the crisises that arise when his unexpected return occurs. These crisises make a passable story but the film is strongest when it focuses on its characters and the actions that they take rather than its obligatory plot. The relationship of hate/love/hate between "Mullet's" parents is particularly interesting even though very little time is spent on it. On the whole a film worth watching if you want to avoid the mainstream.
Not expecting much, received an utter travesty
I love the books of Douglas Adams increasingly inaccurately named hitchhiker trilogy. So naturally I decided to rent the BBC mini-series of the same name. I implore you people... do not do this thing that I have done to myself. If it were not for the hilarious script I think my own intestine would have choked my brain. The rest of the production struck me as a bad episode of Mystery Science Theater. Whoever cast this travesty should be tried as an enemy of humanity. In short it was as tortuous as a piece of Vogon poetry.
Pretty Woman (1990)
Exactly as it should be
This is a great movie, because it succeeded in what set out to do.
It sets out to create a fairy tale and place it in a modern setting. The
characters know that this film isn't realistic, the audience knows it
and the movie makers knew it. Anyone who critiques this film for
not being realistic enough is missing the film's point. It is a myth
as old as human psychology and I see no harm in updating it for a
modern audience. The true test of the film is the chemistry of the lead actors and
the effectiveness of touching the core of the human longing for
something better. I found Gere, who is often painful to watch, to be
quite well matched with Roberts and I felt the story, although
sometimes trite, to be very effective in communicating the undying
Cinderella fantasy. If one more user comments on this site to
remind us that dreams like these never materialize, I believe I will
scream. Film and stories sometimes to show us what we are, but
sometimes they are meant to show us what we would like to be.
This film does that quite well.
Best film of the year?
I am impressed how this movie doesn't simply present a puzzle it becomes
the puzzle. The plot twists and flits until it finally converges into a
conclusion that explodes outward leaving all of the conclusions that you
made in the movie open to reevaluation. An innovative, must-see film
The most intellectually satisfying film since Kubrick
One thing I enjoyed about this film is that it takes the mystery and intensity of its plot and allows it to build slowly and purposely leaves holes for the audience's mind to play in. The black and white photography clearly delineates the black and white world of numbers and mathematics that both enslaves and fascinates the lead character, Max Cohen. But the film has the true mark of an artistic endeavor in that it does not attempt to be easily understood or understood at first viewing but allows several possible definitions.
Aronofsky cleverly mimics his own storyline in his storyline, in other words the mystery of mathematical patterns within every aspect of life is mimicked in the patterned editing and layout of the film. It would be interesting to know if there was an intentional meaning to the editing patterns and repetitions in the film. I suspect that there is.
However the best aspect of the film is the freedom it allows the audience to mull and think on the aspects that the film introduces. Does chaos exist or is it simply a maddeningly complex system of patterns? IS mathematic the only language? What the hell are numbers anyway, symbols for what? All in all an excellent film.
Outside Providence (1999)
This comedy has more heart than you would expect in Farrelly's
brothers movie. But make no mistake it is still a gross-out
comedy. The plot may be a cliched coming of age story but there
is enough truth and pathos to forgive that fault.
Alec Baldwin's performance is a standout. His superb comedic
skills have never been showcased well. His gruff, curt father
character is played almost to a caricature but cut short before
the line of no return. Not a standout film but a descent one and
Chicken Run (2000)
A lovingly created masterpiece
I throughly enjoyed Chicken Run. I have not seen a more detailed, humorous, dramatic and downright joyful film in a blue moon: unendingly clever, appropriately cute but not cutesy, entertaining without pandering - eventually truly moving.
As I left the special showing, the management asked me if I enjoyed the movie. As I wasn't able to condense my thoughts, I only said "really good". But after time to think about it, I believe that Chicken Run is a rare film that can be many things to many separate people. For children it is a rousing adventure, for movie buffs it is a witty tribute to dozens of classics, for teens and adults it is an engaging story with shameless puns and innuendo, for lovers of animation it is the best big screen clay animation ever released. Kudos to the cast and crew and to Dreamwork
Natural Born Killers (1994)
I couldn't not look...
Natural Born Killers is simply an attempt to take violence as far violence and mayhem can be taken. In making fun of the media that use this hype to attract attention it is actually condemning itself. This movie has no deep message beyond that. Media uses sex and violence, but this movie highlights violence, to pull viewers attention. That is just what this movie did to me. It kept pulling my attention towards it and I would be interested and then repelled and then pulled toward it again.
It displays pure and utter depravity. Mind you it never overtly idolizes these values, it simply displays them. It must have been an experiment on the part of Oliver Stone to create a film with minimal plot line and only chaos, psychadelic visions and violence. Harrelson's character defends his actions by saying that they are pure and he is right. This is pure. No realities were allowed to interfere with Stone's vision of pure death. Death so pure it lacks all sting.
Did I like it? Not really, but it was strangely intriguing but too disgusting to be appealing.
Treasure Island (1990)
By far the best adaption
The care taken in this movie to remain true to the spirit and words of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel is rare for the adaption of any novel. I read that this was the director's favorite book as a child and his passion for it is immediately obvious to the audience.
The characters are presented exactly as the novel describes them. The infamous Long John Silver is not simplified or turned into a hero but presented as complex as Stevenson wrote him. A ruthless pirate, capable of great generosity and Machivellian cruelty. Heston gives one of the best performances of his career and considering his past performances that is saying a great deal.
Jim Hawkins is played to perfection by Christian Bale. The characters that they actors create actually seem capable of the actions that they take, a rare trait in a film.
It is too bad that this film was not released in theaters, I feel that it should have been nominated for several academy awards for acting, direction and, without a doubt, best adapted screenplay. Anyone who believes that great books can't be translated into films will be pleasantly surprised by this anomaly.
Lord Jim (1965)
Untrue to the book
Will someone please explain to me why Hollywood insists on taking the titles of excellent books and then proceeding to make a movie completely unrelated to the story and the characters of that book?
Do NOT see this movie if you have read Lord Jim. Unfortunately, the amount of talent wasted in this terrible adaption is great. Peter O'Toole is an ideal actor to handle the role of Tuan Jim but no actor could be expected to salvage this bizarre mixing of a Tarzan jungle serial and Vietnam-esque battle against an evil general.
If they had decided to make this movie without attaching ********* ******* name to the film, it might have been entertaining. As it stands, it is a travesty and a waste of resources, talent and the audience's time.