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Better Than Episodes 1 and 2
Somewhere there should be a review from one of us who gave this a positive scor - mine 7/10.. The re-intro to Luke is a bit ho-hum. Indeed, the first half of the movie is a bit substandard. But the action picks up in the second half and the story is advanced. It's visually stunning, and there are some things unexpected that apparently upset the rigid Star Wars nuts. Still I give it 7/10 and rank it ahead of Episodes 1 and 2. Now the hardcore can go after my lack of Roman Numerals. For the record, I rank the episodes: 5, 4, 6, 3 (all 10/10), 7 (9/10), 6 (7/10), 2 (6/10) and 1 (4/0) Episode 1 is the only bad movie of the Saga.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Fun, Sometimes Touching Rom-Com
Wow - It used to be one had to chant "It's only a movie" in horror films. But many reviewers here need to get a grip. They are probably the same people complaining that only white actors are in popular movies. C'mon, have a little fun sometimes. My wife and I did, and found this to be a very fun, well-made, likeable movie. Yes, this is in many ways the traditional "Prince and the Showgirl" story, but can't an Asian gal one time find a handsome prince without this many people getting their undies in a bunch. This movie was a fun and sometimes touching rom-com. Some parts of the plot were stupid, but so was "Bridesmaids" (9/10) and so were "The Three Stooges" (and I don't see a bunch of short Jewish guys complaining about their movies - By the way, "Ants in the Pantry" and "A Plumbing We Will Go" are my favorites). Worth the bucks to see Crazy Rich Asians. While you're at it, go see "The Good Earth".
Very Good First Feature Effort for Director
So,the idea of a film taking place entirely on a computer is unique for now, although one thinks it would have inevitably been done by some other director on another occasion - and is likely to be done again. Then again, it is done so very well here. It's a quasi-found footage film that's much better than most "found-footage" films. There are very good acting performances by John Cho and Debra Messing. And there are some interesting plot twists, although the suspense could have been amped up a bit. Certainly worth plunking down a few bucks to see. .
Drags on a Bit - Some Very Good Performances
There is much to like about this film, but I only give it a 6/10, blaming most of the negative aspects on Spike Lee's direction. There are more than a few very good acting performances: Washington and Driver, and several of the Klansman, especially the husband-wife duo (especially when contrasted to the poor acting of the "bad cop" character). But Topher Grace as David Duke is a great, spot-on portrayal of the smarmy, "marketable" klansman David Duke.. I was less convinced by the love interest/student activist and her relationship with Washington's character. The film suffers from an identity crisis, not knowing whether to be a drama or a comedy. This would have been a better story to be made as dark comedy (maybe like "I, Tonya" (9/10)), or maybe an action, suspense drama. But instead it meanders throughout much of the film. When it's good, this film is superb, but there is much dead time in it. The long speeches greatly slow down the pacing of the film (and I'm NOT a person with a short cinematic attention span - I love "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the wedding scene in "The Deer Hunter"). A second long speech is a lost opportunity to build suspense. Lee tries but fails to build that suspense, with cinematic tools he should know how to use by now. Lee's attempts to tie the 70's Klan to Trump were forced and at times insulted the intelligence of the audience (Did he really think he had to repeat a Trump catch-phrase over and over and over . . . or we'd somehow be too stupid to get his point?). Factually,.this former Colorado Springs resident can accept (for cinematic reasons) moving the mostly flat city of Colorado Springs to the hills (Spike's city looks more like neighboring Manitou Springs). At least the Black Student Union sign was written in the correct Colorado College Colors. Go Tigers.
Upon Review - Worse than I thought
I saw this movie 35 ago, and gave it a 6/10. Just saw it again today, hearing that it is indeed a misunderstood masterwork by Alfred - On second viewing, it is actually worse than I originally thought. Tippii is mostly lousy as the title character. Surprisingly, she does not put in the worst performance in this film, which is put in by Ms. Latham playing her mom. Sean Connery does pretty well despite the weak material and the previously named poor performances. Some interesting shots and another great score from Bernard Herrmann cannot save this disappointing, preposterous film. First 1/3rd - 6/10, middle 1/3rd - 8/10, but the final 1/3rd 4/10 - a big "that's it?" Wow, give it all a 5/10. Took Hitch three more films to regain his form in "Frenzy" (9/10)
The Post (2017)
Stiff But Passable Historical Account
This movie lacked the inspiration of the other historical accounts of events released for the 2017-18 Oscar Season (Dunkirk 10/'10, Darkest Hour 9/10 and I, Tonya 9/10). Bob Odenkirk added a little life to this film, but the rest of the cast was less inspired. Overall, it was pretty stiff and stodgy. Don't expect anything to wow you. Don't expect the story to be told in a cinematically inventive way. Yet, expect an accurate recreation of important events from the 60s and 70s by a still masterful director. Even Spielberg's middling efforts, such as this film, are well-staged and filmed and generally entertaining. Still, don't expect anything as good as "All the President's Men" 10/10 or a film that is among this director's many classics (Jaws, Schindler's, Close Encounters, ET . . .) One big mistake for those of us who lived thru the era: a scene early in the film from 1966 has Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Green River" as its soundtrack. Now, it's a great song, but it wasn't even released until 1969!!!
Phantom Thread (2017)
Well-filmed Pretentious Bore
Maybe i just don';t like movies directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Long periods of non-conversation and silent glances leading up to a big who-cares climax. The movie is a well-shot, well-acted, pretentious bore, Give me my 130 minutes back.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
I don't get it!!!
This film is a melodramatic morality tale about the struggle of good against evil against the backdrop of an idyllic small southern river town. You'll see more shots of cute wildlife than a Disney Nature Film. Stereotypes of nice southern bible thumpers abound! A better version of this "evil visits nice small town" story would be Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" (10/10). I was disappointed by "Night of the Hunter" and gave it a 6/10. A mediocre movie with many nice moments. Great to see Lillian Gish.
A Face in the Crowd (1957)
Wow - Must-see
This sat in my DVR Cache for a bit, before I cued it up - it's an absolute 10/10. Andy Griffith, before he moved into Aunt Bea's house in Mayberry, is electrifying on screen. Other great performances by Walter Matthau, Patricia Neal, Lee Remick and even Tony Franciosa (before he became an ubiquitous TV co-star on things like Hotel and The Love Boat). The director Elia Kazan had previously directed one of the greatest films ever filmed, "On the Waterfront" and other classics (Streetcar/Desire, Tree/Brooklyn . . . ). Put this one alongside those films. Well-filmed, well-acted, well-written. Imaginative. Still relevant. Running out of superlatives. WOW!!!!!!
Surprise! Mel's Stunning, Exciting Adventure
In 1915, D.W. Griffith became the controversial filmmaker of his day with the release of "The Birth of a Nation" (10/10, despite its offensive plot where the Klan were portrayed as heroes). Griffith pumped all of his profits from that film into one of the great epic films of all time "Intolerance" (10/10). Griffith took a risk in doing something new, intertwining multiple stories into one film. Now, I won't say that Mel Gibson has created a "classic" equal to "Intolerance". However, "Apocalyto" is a tremendous, visually stunning cinematic achievement. Mel took a tremendous risk in creating this gripping, adventure story about Central American Indians. There is no target audience I can think of. Cinematically, it's done with a Hollywood flair for suspense. The acting neophytes in cast succeed with the help of great camera-work (and great direction and coaching from Mel). Getting these non-actors to be this good is n achievement in itself. At times, Mel does give in to his curious obsession with ultraviolent torture and mayhem. Yet, it is not as inappropriate as the overlong torture-fest at the end of "Braveheart (9/10) or nearly throughout the gorefilled entirety of "The Passion of the Drunk-drivin' Antisemitic" (5/10). Don't let your biases regarding Mel keep you away. This isn't an all-time classic, but it is certainly one of the best movies that I have seen this mostly lackluster year (2006). I know, Mel thinks there's some big meaning behind this story - some supposed parallel to what he sees as today's decadent culture. Yet, if you go looking for some great philosophical meaning, I suspect you'll be disappointed. If you want an exhilarating, suspenseful, well-crafted ride to somewhere cinematically new, go see this!!!!! See it on the biggest screen you can find.
Boring then Repulsively Memorable - 6/10
This stylish, cross-edited, Japanese horror flick takes too much time setting up for the shockingly repulsive finale. Yes, it's that finale that everyone will remember, quote verbatim (in Japanese), and try to drive from their memories in order to get to sleep for the next several days. But if one looks DEEPER (and there is very little DEEPER meaning in this film), one must ask if the entire film is truly a great movie or even a good movie. Certainly, "the scene", that shocking scene with the single quotable word, is one that I will remember till the day I die. It is indeed the most shocking scene I have seen in my 52 years Granted, I still haven't seen "Cannibal Holocaust", but I have seen "Pink Flamingos". The acting, editing and even, for the most part, the photography are superb. However, I found myself yawning and struggling to keep my eyes open during the first hour. The first hour could have easily been edited by half to help speed up the initially lethargic pace. Heck, this is a horror movie, not "The English Patient". The resulting edited 1 1/2 hour movie could have been rated an 8 out of 10. However, the 2 hour movie that I watched, and you are likely to see, gets 2 1/2 Stars, 6 out of 10. By the way, our protagonist's sidekick in the audition is played by the same actor whose character gets beheaded by Lucy Lui in "Kill Bill".
Some Great Footage in Otherwise Disappointing Propaganda
First: I have a political bias. I am a conservative Republican who SUPPORTS "W", his war on terror and the war in Iraq. Therefore, I agree with the central premise of this film - That Militant Islamism is today's greatest threat to world stability and peace and that this is a time for us to be like Churchill rather than Ghandi. I also agree that politically correct peaceniks don't get it and undermine the war on terror so they can gain political advantage in order to enact things like socialized health-care. So I was disappointed with this blatant piece of propaganda. Please note that it is possible to make a good film which is blatant propaganda, even if it differs from one's political opinion. Unfortunately, Obsession is not one of these good pieces of propaganda. There are three problems with this film: too preachy, too sloppy and too obviously and unpersuasively propagandistic. The most impressive parts of this film are the clips of news footage from middle eastern television of hate-filled religious and political rallies and interviews with children who have been indoctrinated with islamist hate. Unfortunately, the clips are repeatedly interrupted with mostly unnecessary, preachy, "expert" commentary. This leaves a probably mistaken impression that the clips were being edited and taken out of context in order to promote the politics of the filmmaker. Except for the part of the film describing the "Matzo-Movie", the sources of the footage were not adequately described. The film was sloppy, i.e. poorly organized. Much like the NFL color commentator who won't shut up about the obvious ("You see here, how the quarterback hands off and the running back runs with the football"), the repetitious, preachy commentary destroys the impact of the great, scary footage which has been assembled. Why not describe how the footage was obtained and tell us how pervasive it is (Is it the #1 show or is it the equivalent of our Public Access TV)? Then show it and let the viewer come to the inescapable conclusion. The unnecessary, spooky music and intentional graining of the film was straight out of "Political Attack Ad 101". The disturbing footage does not need to be doctored and enhanced, since it loses its impact because it obviously looks doctored and enhanced. The most obvious propaganda is the long, botched attempt to equate Islamist Fascists with Nazism. Showing Nazis goose-stepping and comparing it to today's goose-stepping middle eastern armies proves nothing. It is a historically common way of marching and saluting in many countries, some very friendly to the west. It is not necessarily in a nostalgic homage to Uncle Adolf. This movie is a 4/10, one and a half star movie because the documentary certainly has some moments, which are unfortunately poorly presented by the filmmaker.
Superman Returns (2006)
I was looking forward to seeing the new Superman movie. I liked Singer's efforts in the first two X-Men movies, and I liked the idea of his paying homage to the great Richard Donner "Superman" movie and its passable follow-up (Marlon Brando would not approve using his scenes at the fortress in "Superman II" creating a big gap in that story). I was,however, disappointed in "Superman Returns". This is an overly long, sometimes trite film. The writing is uninspired. This movie attempts to be more dark but instead offers pretense. When this movie tries to be humorous, it falls flat. The attempts at schmaltz fail as well. ********SPOILERS ******** How Superman thrives next to a giant boulder containing kryptonite makes no sense. Moreover, the "who's your daddy" question from Lex is far from the bombshell it's intended to be in this bomb (why not offer some hints of prepubescent-superpowers earlier in the film). The whole Krypton generation to generation to generation thing made me want to puke (especially our hero Kal-el passing on his "dead-beat dad" fatherly advice at the end). This movie is an attempted tribute to the first two installments from Richard Donner in the 70's, but the cast doesn't stand up to comparison (except for improvements with Perry White, and maybe Jimmy Olson - I also liked the performance from Lois' boyfriend/non-fiancé). 2 Stars for some exciting moments of action - 5/10 for IMDb rating
United 93 (2006)
Suspenseful, Well-Acted, Jumpy Camera-work
Paul Greengrass has created a suspenseful, well-acted version of events regarding United 93 and the heroic passengers onboard. This is a great movie for these times, regardless of your political opinions. While some have complained that it is "too soon" for this movie. From a story-telling standpoint, the opposite is actually true. While the telling of this heroic story is very moving and suspenseful in 2006, I suspect that a channel surfer 30 years hence may find boring the long introduction of everyday scenes of passengers boarding and sitting in an airplane. Yet, for the current theater-goer, the familiarity with the story and the understandable obliviousness of the passengers and crew to their impending doom only adds to the suspense. The hand-held camera for the most part makes the viewer feel like a passenger in the aircraft and a fly on the wall in air traffic control rooms. However, I was distracted and annoyed by much of the sudden irrelevant zooming and jerking especially at the end of many shots. It was not as nausea-inducing as the previous Greengrass film, "The Bourne Supremacy", but a little less jumpy camera-work would have helped this movie. Because of the somewhat excessively jumpy camera-work, and the lack of timelessness to this otherwise great film, it gets 3 1/2 stars or an 8/10.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
5 out of 10 - From Secular Agnostic
I was particularly moved when the Minnesota Twins won the World Series. I am very devoted fan. However, that does not mean that I should give four stars to any movie about The Twins (Little Big League only gets 5 out of 10). Neither should one's devout, Christian faith instantly lead one to proclaim this movie as "POWERFUL!" There were many good things in this movie: great music and sound, wonderful costumes, stylish sets and color. Moreover, we finally have a biblical epic without that ubiquitous, obligatory narrator. The resurrection is portrayed in a stylish, subtle, inspiring manner. The use of the ancient languages helped to avoid any "Jesus wouldn't have said it that way" problem. However, no intense faith nor desire to "evangelize the heathens" should absolve Mel Gibson of the following venial, film-making sins. Mel has a lack of style and a tendency toward overstatement in most of the repetitious violence in this film. In contrast, the shower scene in Psycho is brutal, but we never see the knife rip the flesh. Saving Private Ryan was excessive, but at least Spielberg didn't show the same scene over and over again. However, how many times did we really have to see Jesus fall down with the cross in the same exact slow-motion way??? AND - maybe it is difficult to depict a sadistic torturer effectively (although Olivier did a pretty good job in Marathon Man). BUT Mel's tired technique is cartoonish. Mel's story is told with a whip, whip, bash then a cut to Roman soldiers with bad teeth in fits of maniacal laughter, then rinse (with blood) and repeat ad infinitum (that's street Latin). For those of you who didn't see any Anti-Semitism; there must have been a particularly long line while you were out getting popcorn. You must have missed the part of the story which portrayed Pilate as a leader who really wants to save Jesus, but is forced to give in to angry Jewish High Priests and their throng of bloodthirsty Christ-Killing Jews yelling "Crucify Him" in order to avoid a Jewish revolt. I am far from politically correct, but it's not hard to see how many would see some anti-semitism in that portrayal. Finally, where is the character development in this movie? Mother Mary is reduced to a woman crying (always with a single tear like those miracle statues) and chasing her son Jesus on his long march with his cross. This is not The Ten Commandments or Ben Hur, but it's better than The Bible or the Robe. At the 1:45 matinée, 4 people in the theater with me. 5 out of 10 or **