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Red Planet Mars (1952)
A talkfest. Boring presentation, good plot
Much as I love 1940s-60s sci-fi, this is mostly painful to sit through. There's almost no plot advancement outside of talk, talk, talk. All the main points are spelled out for you. To vary it a little, people yell at each other and yell about the science
You'd think it was based on a play ... oh, what a surprise, it's a movie version of the play "Red Planet".
The political bits ~ 1/3rd of the way in are good. Lobby groups immediately fight against the potential productivity of Martian soil, oil, ....
You know how most of the movies from this period end with a warning? eg. "It's dead but the world needs to be careful with atomic power / space travel / inverse gamma de-polaritization / setting fire to monsters / cooking spicy food for aliens / premarital sex ..." This is a long warning of the above type, with breaks for talky introspection and preaching.
The Martian Chronicles (1980)
Journey to a world beyond awful
I saw parts of this in the 1980s and thought it was the worst kind of TV dreck. Watching it now, I wasn't disappointed: it's still dreck. Yeah, if you're into TV with all the bad acting combined and trite dialogue, maybe it'll seem reasonable to you.
But if TV seems an insipid place, you may find this unbearably tediously painfully DD (Monty Python for deadly dull). It so boring you don't even get angry. It's like watching Ponderosa but there's a space colony in Nevada, I mean Mars, and talk and staring and just nothing.
There's probably a negative effect eg. it's so bad you lose brain cells. Avoid it. Watch something exciting, maybe a Discovery Channel special about why ice melts more slowly at lower temperatures.
Run away from this.
Two Rode Together (1961)
Typical (yawn) John Ford
It's big, loud, blowsy, breezy, glib, heartening and heartrending, larger than life, colorful, fulsome, winsome, .... all the schmaltz and schlock and superficial sentimentality that Hollywood loves to throw at you.
James Stewart plays James Stewart. He's corrupt, heartless, cynical, cold; he drinks, he smokes, he offers to buy and sell people .... but, wait, we know, don't we, that he's the guy who opened the doors to the bank ... It's an act, isn't it? James won't let us, and America, down.
Widmark, sadly underrated throughout his career, does an amazing job but he's the only bright spot. Ford's stock actors play the stock characters they always play. Ken Curtis plays that there hillbilly rebel guy who aw-shuckses and darns-its you to death.
John Ford became the Norman Rockwell of movies after doing some harder stuff. Real shame. This should probably be rated a 2-3 given Ford's reputation.
City Across the River (1949)
Overwrought, overdone, talky, superficial, .... all the things you expect when adults recreate teen hoodlum angst with their audience in mind and then characters are forced through a contrived sieve. Stilted dialogue reminiscent of "Rebel without a Cause", which Shulman also worked on.
There are a few good performances but they're whelmed by the bad ones; so overall it's like any trite TV episode: good kids get mixed up with bad ones; good parents wring hands; good teachers try; good youth-center leaders reach out; good cops attempt to set basically good kids on the right path before ...
it's too late. But the influence of the gang, local gangsters, poverty, working parents, ... and poor Frankie goes to jail instead of Hollywood.
Could have been a good story but instead it's a schlockfest with a narration that tells you how crime doesn't pay.
Guilty Bystander (1950)
Weak effort, almost not worth watching
This looks like someone read about Film Noir, made some notes on the main elements, then schlocked a movie together. Lerner thought "We'll take my 'C-Man', darken it, cut the budget by 75%, replace action with dialogue ..." You could have shot it in 1 room: a desk in one corner, bed in another, jail in a third, bar in the 4th.
- It's dark. In fact one of the key scenes - a few minutes long - is pitch black. You hear noise, dialogue, ... there's a shot ....
- The sleazy girl tells you how sleazy she is; but she's got a good heart
- The anti-hero hero is consumed by despair and alcohol. In the laughable opening scene with his ex-, he's too drunk to talk but sobers instantly when he learns his son is kidnapped
- Throughout the story he yells and barks out his lines, as does the police captain
The story wraps up like a play or murder-mystery: a character tells what/how/why it all happened. Some of this might have been shown to us along the way.
Worth seeing FDR's ex- daughter-in-law and some other character actors in their early days. Scott overacts even when there's nothing going on. If you like Noir, check it out. But have a backup plan. Maybe go cook something while you listen to it.
Human Traffic (1999)
A lot of tedious talking to the camera - about nothing
Imagine a high-school film project where someone films a bunch of friends going about their lives: clubbin', dating, working at their part-time jobs, clubbin', hanging out, doing drugs, talking about going clubbin', talking about feelings and shi', clubbin ...
No need for a script/ plot/ story because your friends are so interesting that everything they do and say is just, uh, interesting; nobody will get lost because the characters talk to the camera - and think out loud for the camera; you know what's happening because everyone yells and jumps around.
Boring, below amateurish. A complete waste of time.
The 10th Kingdom (2000)
The 10-Hour Kingdom of Boredom
I had low expectations going in and I wasn't disappointed: it was even worse than I imagined. It would have been painful if it took 1 hr 20 mins. But at 8 hours you want to scream.
Maybe it will appeal to those who like plays & musicals for the overacting, emoting, screen-chewing; costumes and color .... and don't mind a numb script. Instead of tension, character development, story - all that stuff that takes creative effort and work - you have folks running around in makeup, rats talking in squeaky baby voices, and soooooooo much dead time.
TV just keeps devolving. Scripts are written (I assume) to include every possible viewer. So they become more of a political speech than a movie.
I saw some refs to it being for kids and don't follow that: the Wolf makes reference to the heroine's "succulent breasts"; the Trolls have a refrain "go suck an elf". Was it written for people who want to re-imagine what they would have liked as salacious kids? I also saw in the reviews some hopes for Emmy recognition. That's where TV folks get together and congratulate each other on how well they've done in TV-land?
Almost retro-campy but not really that good
This was made in 1989 but seems like an early-50s movie:
- 2 Astronauts find some alien stuff in damaged spaceship.
- It's exactly 14000 years old.
- They bring it back to earth. It becomes a robot. They kill it.
- They go to the moon where it came from and
- Find an alien base and a cryo alien woman 14K years old
- Who thaws to look like us (and has incredible breasts),
- And engages in sex exactly as humans do
- Including touching and hugging after
All this would be hilarious if it were John Agar and some of his pals. The robots are better than stunt men in shrimp-creature suits. But the dialogue is weak.
As a kid I was amazed that so many aliens had humanoid form. I hadn't yet learned about "the production costs for a getup like that? Not in this budget. Make her a human girl and get her blouse off ..."
Koenig thinks out loud in a deadpan and sarcastic tone. This was great on the bridge when they were boldly going, but here he just seems like a bored and tired TV actor.
Some OK special effects. Worth a watch if you can FF and skip ahead.
Short Cuts (1993)
If Maupin, wrote "Afraid of V Wolfe" for 50+ characters
Ever see someone train a dog by pushing its nose into its feces? This movie is that for 3 hours (oui, you're the dog). You watch depressed/ angry/ unpleasant characters flit and interact. There isn't one redeeming/ uplifting/ positive/ life-affirming moment. OK, wait: In the end, Waits & Tomlin celebrate their poverty and alcoholism in a dreary trailer; Robbins has sex with Stowe and brings the dog back home; MacDowell & Davison eat pastries with baker Lovett after their child dies. Yeah, sorry, all upbeat stuff.
Altman was a brilliant creator (3 Women, Nashville, Mash), capturing the American panorama and subconscious like no other director. Amazing in the range of topics he undertook. But over time he relied increasingly on dialogue to move his (lack of) plot forward. For many this skim was the invisible hand of meaning - "What is he trying to say here? It's obscure so it's gravid."
Short Cuts has all the Altman signatures: annoying lounge music that permeates everything, overlapping dialogue, characters staring at fish or fixed objects as they think about the meaning of life, overlapping dialogue, near-constant elevator jazz, characters who talk from the script and to the camera but not to each other, overlapping dialogue.
It might be a TV show that charms via "lives of idiosyncratic, tortured, neurotic characters intersecting & intertwining in a fictional yet all-too-real city of desire, failed dreams ...." The kind of thing where folks say "OMG, that is SO my family". Except for the bit where Penn beats a girl to death with a rock; or the guy who took pictures of the girl he raped and strangled.
Scenes or characters you might care or wonder about are never fully-explored; other scenes (eg. Lemmon's description of boinking his son's aunt) go on and on. And on. You got it, and still it continues. Perhaps this is a mirror that forces us to confront our inner selves while we confront our outer lives, as we reflect on ....
There's some nice acting: Robbins, Stowe, Tomlin, Jason-Leigh, McDormand, Davison, Gallagher, Chris Penn, Lili Taylor, more. But almost anyone can get good performances out of these folks.
Meryl Streep - sorry, I mean Julianne Moore - does her usual "watch me, I'm REALLY acting" - especially when she is nude from the waist-down in the pre-BBQ scene. Andie MacDowell, as always, squeezes her lack of range into playing herself. Same for Robert Downey Jr. and Lori Singer.
Jack Lemmon does the stuttering, mumbling, rolling fingers uh-uh-uh alky-monologue thing that he (incredibly) made a career out of. His understudy Tom Waits does a gravelly-voice version of this. Boy, imagine if Altman had filmed an 8-hour version of an O'Neil play where Waits and Lemmon talk about life as they drink in a bar on a rainy day. Various characters could come and go, talking about the rain as they walk in; the bartender, perhaps a jaded Brian Blessed, would comment as he refilled their glasses .... Whew.
Carver seemed to have insight, albeit through a whiskey glass, into the human spirit. But this movie version of his stories seems as contrived as a HS play. Look at the scene where Penn & Jason-Leigh consider having sex; or the photo-mixup scene; or the funeral scene where the dialogue approaches an Ibsen play: Sven opens his front door and a woman outside says "May I come in? I'm yust in town and I want to tell your father's last words as he died from syphilis ... yah, I'm your sister; the maid is your real mother; and the bank president, see the insanity in my left eye ..." Oofta, people do jump in like that in real life.
I got to page 3 of the reviews without reading anything negative about Short Cuts. I infer from this that viewers think a stage production where actors tell, but don't show, is good art. There it is.
I gave it a 7 and considered an 8. Several parts were so irritating that I winced and squirmed so it's certainly effective.
1. If you think Carver would be difficult to bring to the screen, see the excellent Jindabyne.
2. Altman over time became like his protégé Alan Rudolph - vague and insubstantial - whereas Rudolph's quirkiness grew into meatier work.
Quatermass and the Pit (1958)
What a disappointment
The glowing reviews and BBC's "Best thing we ever did" are puzzling. I expected "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Instead it's early Dr. Who: cheap or non-existent sets, awful cinematography, loose story, pathetic script, and bad-bad-bad acting - embarrassingly bad.
I do appreciate Dr. Who - you need to know about the Daleks so you can chase children around with a broom handle saying "ex-term-min-nate". Just as Plan 9, Teenagers from Outer Space, Kronos, ... are requisite for sci-fi buffs.
This was especially disappointing as the story had great potential: Martians scoop up post-Miocene hominids, enlarge their brains "with surgery and technology beyond our comprehension", bring them back to earth, let them loose, and via mind control have the enhanced pre-humans kill everything to provide a clean slate for the aliens. You will hear "5 MILLION years" so often that you'll think you're watching Austin Powers.
The initial and subtle story is of Jungian collective unconscious There's some clever detective research. Bits of the puzzle start to coalesce. But the thought-provoking start devolves into a lot of yelling and posturing (see "bad acting" above). The only good work is by the always-competent Michael Ripper.
Several people get scared by the mysterious noises/ vibrations/ visions and act out "terror" the way one might practice "you're afraid" in an HS drama class. Christine Finn is young, female, emotional, single, and, we learn repeatedly: "She has to leave, she's susceptible"; "She's too susceptible, get her out of here"; "Not her, she's very susceptible"; ...several more times.
In the end you have a loud and irritating zombie-apocalypse-mind-control-devil-Satan disaster movie. Satan HIS own self appears in a electro-magneto-vibro cloud-mist. They destroy HIM with a piece of metal on a chain. One of the key plot points is in a grainy mind-video-transference-thoughtwave projection-video of grasshoppers hitting each other with sticks. Don't miss that or you won't understand why the devil-face sets fire to London.
When you think it's finally over, Quatermass gives a lengthy Miss Universe speech "Why can't we all get along .... black & white people in perfect harmony .... learn not to hate ... world peace ....".
Again, if you're in a Dr. Who mood and can take the histrionics it might hit the spot. Otherwise, don't bother - or plan to FF often. And be prepared for numerous people clutching their heads and screaming.
Be Kind Rewind (2008)
Jack Black ruins another one
The amazing odyssey of Jack Black rolls on. He acts out one shallow post-Belushi clown over and over. And over. Why is he still making movies? I'm clueless.
I thought he couldn't get worse and I'd vowed not to watch him. But Def & Glover tempted me. In an amazing move, he actually slips further down. In addition to his excessive shouting and gesticulations, he wears dresses and mimics roles of others.
Again, a guy w. no charm and 0 acting ability mimics others.
The real shame is that this is a funny story. In better directorial hands and with some decent actors it cod have been brilliant. Instead it's just a boring SNL skit that goes on forever.
Oh, Mia Farrow is in it. She;s probably worse even than Jack Black.
How Do You Know (2010)
Amazingly bad. Horrible really. But
JL Brooks did the near-perfect "Broadcast News". Cast here includes Witherspoon, O Wilson, Nicholson, and Shalhoub. How could this movie fail? But it so does - an Epic Fail. Witherspoon isn't cute/ appealing; Owen Wilson isn't funny; Nicholson isn't fiendishly sardonic; Tony Shalhoub isn't quirky-funny.
Yeah, I know Rudd's in it. He couldn't have ruined it all by himself.
4 good/ excellent actors can't play their typical roles with the slightest elan; the story doesn't flow; characters come and go without adding anything to the story; ditto subplots. It's a romantic comedy w/ a traditional ending and there not one speck of chemistry between the leads.
I have to assume that JL Brooks has made so much TV that's he's forgotten how to do something real.
I noticed 2 funny lines: Owen Wilson flubs his; Domenick Lombardozzi does a good job w/ his. There are many (100?) other potentially fully setups but the stars rush through them.
Witherspoon is the most disappointing; Wilson a close 2nd.
Blue Valentine (2010)
When I saw that Gosling and Williams were executive producers I thought "uh-oh" and was proved correct: when stars "love" a story/ script/ idea/ message ... and push it through, it's always bad IME. This is no exception.
The back-story is flush with details. How it was shot in varying styles; how Gosling & Williams lived together to prepare; how much everyone believed in it; so-and-so's picture was on a wall in one scene; Williams' license plate; .... everyone worked so hard.
So what? A good movie isn't made by Deniro's ability to gain weight or his learned boxing skill; Streep's willingness to learn a small nuance of a regional accent; or Hoffman's actual sleep deprivation. A good movie comes out of a script, direction, acting, production management, editing, whatever.
Gosling and Williams try for verisimilitude and sometimes achieve it. But they're exercising themselves in vain through a poor script and worse direction. Oh, we get that life isn't fair; marriage is difficult; sh*t happens; people don't know why they're unhappy. It's been told 100s of times. And much better. The story of a wimpy guy marrying the woman he loves even though she's pregnant with another guy's baby ... and then he loves the child as his own ... but she still leaves him ... yeah, that's never been done before.
Mostly it's boring via long and pointless scenes. I found myself saying over and over "OK, I got it, next?" But you wait and wait. The characters don't really interact. She looks and acts like a factory worker but we're supposed to feel her lost career and opportunities because she says early on "I want to be a doctor"? And we're to see through his lack of ambition that he has much artistic talent? They're both sensitive because they cry when their dog dies?
The movie is marketed heavily here. Moving, real, heartfelt, wrenching, tragic, ..... Instead it's like any other bit of bad TV - talky and superficial. What TV thinks the life of a working class couple is really like. She comes to hate him and he walks away confused. I'm confused too: how was anyone willing to fund it?
Interested in a movie about someone in a bad relationship and a low socio-economic culture? See 'Frozen river'. Leo does more real acting in any 10 minutes than there is in this entire movie.
What a shame
I gave this a 5 because a couple of scenes in the beginning were brilliant. Had they sustained, what a great movie this would have been. Overall it's more of a 3 though.
But after they make the initial points, they just make them over and over and over. Not in different ways. In the same way, each and every time.
The plot and sub-plot(s) are tiresome and contrived. And irrelevant.
Goldberg produced and it's almost a sure thing that when a lead actor produces it's to get across a point that no one's really interested in. And there's a reason for that.
I watched the 1st 20 mins of this; had to pause overnight; told several friends in the interim how great it was. Next night I started at 0 again; enjoyed the 1st few scenes just as much; then watched Goldberg chuff and stare his way through the rest. He's really a one-note actor, a more serious (and more irritating) Woody Allen.
A perfect film school short. But <<<<< a movie.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Pandering, condescending, boring, bathetic sap
1st, if you want to see something about mind-body-spirit interaction and rejuvenation under the Italian sun see the 'Enchanted April' - the 1992 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101811/ and 1935 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0026313/ movies are each good I prefer the 1992 movie. And/ or read the Elizabeth von Arnim novel.
2nd, if you like Diane Lane and think she can act when she tries and/ or has a good script, don't even think about watching this. She comes across as a whining & simpering TV actress. She's so much better than this dreck.
3rd, if what you do want is reinforcement that all men are dicks and prefer younger women to their warm, loving, caring, wonderful, giving, supportive, wives - watch and wallow in "The First Wives Club".
4th, if you want a shallow and superficial (and so very condescending) summary of what it would be like to make believe you weren't rich in Tuscany, read Mayes' book. If you don't find Martha Stewart trivial, you may well enjoy this book. It's for anyone and everyone who LOVE the common-folk, when they keep a good distance that is. But those Italians with their cute little hand gestures - as adorable as kittens. Think of a book by Demi Moore about the rigors of her pioneer life at her Idaho ranch.
Mayes and her new lover purchased an Italian villa and renovated it. Director Audrey Wells said the movie is "loosely based on Mayes' book". "Loosely" as it's about a woman who goes to Italy, buys an old house, does some cooking & gardening? There isn't much else in common. Wells adapted, wrote the screenplay, produced, directed. We 1st see how Frances (Lane) gets screwed on her divorce by a jerk-off husband who uses CA law to his advantage - poor Frances. Just when it couldn't be worse, turns out the younger new woman wants the house (renovated with Frances' mother's money) and Frances has to pay alimony because she supported her husband .... So unfair. So TV.
Frances moves to an apt w/ manifold folks other who are getting divorced. The guy next door sobs incessantly. Everything reminds her of how depressed she is. I looked at the credits to see if it was a teleplay.
Wells then inserts a gay subplot (Frances' best friend; the trip to Italy is via tickets for a tour with "Gay & Away"). That's Wells' business but it has nothing to do with the Italian trip. It's just a reminder of how "good" certain kinds of men can be. Most of us think that gay men are good friends with women but if you didn't know that the guide announces to the bus that Frances just had an awful divorce and really needs their support. Which the give and give. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
Frances leaves the bus, buys the villa, is scared by insects & a snake, finds a comical group of contractors, prepares some Martha Stewart meals, watches love bloom in others, meets and loses an smooth Italian guy. You never have to think either. Before you even get close to thinking, a character comes in to explain exactly what everyone is feeling. "Love? Love is just at the beginning. it doesn't last. You're stuck with what's left". So insightful. And fresh. Wow spelled backwards is woW.
My favorite part of the movie was seeing them drive around on empty or low-traffic roads in Italy. Bella.
It's not as bad as "Mamma Mia" but it's certainly in that same bucket of sap for middle-aged women.
Charles Darwin loved God. His evolution bit was an accident
The movie opens with a lie: it shows a ship captain buying 3 children from a tribe. In fact the children were part of a family taken hostage after a boat was stolen from the Beagle.
The only reason to watch this is to somehow reconcile dinosaurs and a few billion years of evolution etc with the creation myth in the bible. I assume religious groups funded the movie. Everything has a mystical feel to it; there's a mysterious black box; his dead child speaks to him (that would be afterlife eh wot?); Darwin's attacks are brought on not by the stress of writing but whenever he too openly disbelieves. And a doctor tells him the only cure is faith - he finds it and, yup, he's cured.
Amiel is a schlockster used to directing watery TV fare and this is pure soap opera. Bettany is all introspective stares at things in nature; Connelly is a lot of pouting and anger (and meaningful glances) because her man just won't see that you can have million-year-old sandstone formations and dinosaurs and Jesus too.
Huxley (Toby Jones) rants about Darwin killing god - and this makes Darwin sick.
Even if someone lends it to you, don't bother.
Not-funny, not-clever, not-worthwhile at all
Will Forte seems be in the same "I'm the comedy" mode as Stiller, Chevy Chase, Ferrell ... other boring comedians. You just somehow believe that people want to watch you walk around or fall down or stare at the camera. That you are so funny people will laugh at anything you do.
It's much like news reporters being the news - telling you how they feel about an event.
This movie is unwatchable. The humor turns on various bathroom & dick jokes. A crude (if this is even possible) "Dumb and Dumber".
Maybe teenage boys like this kind of thing. I don't know who would see humor in someone crapping in the upper toilet tank. And a dozen other stupid gags.
Kristen Wiig was decent. But not enough to make this movie worth seeing.
Forte is about like the 85-IQ jock in the frat house who thinks any prank he does is funny. If you were that guy - or his friend or just enjoyed his antics - maybe you will like this movie. Otherwise don't bother.
The Pink Panther 2 (2009)
Couldn't be less funny
Steve Martin is a good actor in a straight-man role eg. Planes, trains; Spanish Prisoner, Shop Girl. And was funny on SNL. But is so not-funny in movies. And when he also writes the comedy roles that he acts in - the worst.
I'll amend that a little. My parents would have liked him, as they liked Berle and Youngman and Diller. And Blake Edwards.
You can tolerate the early PPs because Sellers was funny and you knew Edwards was ruining it with his heavy cornball hand. There are almost no laughs in this PP 2. Martin really is awful.
Note that there is a great cast: Irons, Molina. Also Garcia (playing himself as always). Most important: if I hadn't seen it for myself, I wouldn't have believed that Jean Reno could be in a bad movie. He and the rest of the folks are a complete waste.
Why see it? Emily Mortimer does a nice job and is braless through most of the movie.
Beach Girls (2005)
Bad. No, horrible. No, really like so totally horrible.
This is soap-opera bad: dialogue, story, plot, and acting. It wouldn't be worth discussing but all 6 reviews here are positive. K?
Mom died. Dad takes 16-year-old daughter to the beach he goes to every summer. Except this is somehow her 1st time there? She meets new boy and girl friends. They are snooty at 1st but they open up later and a real bond develops as they share problems/ hopes/ aspirations/ concerns.
Daughter's dealing with issues about her mom's death. Her new friends struggle with various issues while their parents have issues too. Other townspeople have various other issues.
Her dad has issues but he has help from a hot young girlfriend, whom daughter dislikes. This is complicated by some passion between dad and a maybe ex-, who was one of the dead mom's 3 best friend's. The 3rd best friend is dad's sister, who has a drinking problem and was driving the car when mom was killed.
Dad finds out mom had a secret life (bank account, affair, more). And dad has a job offer in CA. Will he turn it down in favor of his family? Find out in episode 6.
Cloris Leachman has old house that will be torn down if the new highway goes through. Bribes may be involved w/ the highway plan. A local cop is having sex with an underage girl. Someone's brother died of leukemia and her mother still has issues about that.
The story unfolds as follows: Some characters have an emotional encounter; someone storms out, visibly upset; he or she walks along the beach; then goes to someone to pour out his/ her feelings. Repeat over and over. Virtually every scene change is precipitated by a long camera shot of a pained facial expression.
Everyone's well-to-do but, hey, the wealthy have real emotions too. Oh lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.
You can fast-forward through entire sections without missing any material aspects of the story. Although you might miss key lines eg. "It's no good if I have to ask you if you care when I needed to know how much you cared. And now I can't"; "How well did you REALLY know your wife?"; "I need to know what happened that night."
Net, it's the movie equivalent of teenage girls texting each other "OMG I bet it's not the 1st time she let him touch her there."
The only plus is that Julia Ormond's is often braless and her headlights are on all the time - even when she's sitting quietly in hot sun. OTOH, her accent comes and goes.
Every time I watch a TV-movie I'm nonplussed and how dreadful it is. Presumably this is what TV viewers want. It's pretty sad.
Lowe's not much of an actor but he heads above anyone else (Ormond doesn't have much of a role). In his reflection it's amazing to see how pathetic directing, acting, and scripting can be - and still make it to the screen.
Jesus, Mary and Joey (2005)
Should be labeled "As shown in jr high church camp"'
It's about on the level of "Pat Boone talks to Teens about S-E-X" and "Tough Guys Find God".
There was a story here. A tranche of Providence Italianosity. But those bits are just filler for the real story which is, I don't know, "Jesus Saves".
Imagine a Catholic Woody Allen making his 1st HS film. He shows some family interaction (pretty good), then characters find a way to talk about whether or not god exists and question their own existences; introduce a sub-plot about the family store being sold (this is OK), then characters find a way to talk about whether or not god exists and question their own existences; the once ugly female lead is now a babe, then characters find a way to talk about whether or not god exists and question their own existences; keep repeating.
The script is so contrived that it hurts your teeth; the characters and actors are bland; the story is right out of "Ministers talk to young people about STDs". Touchstone sucks and it's way better than this pap.
It's awful and really should be a 1 or 0.
If you are interested in Rembrandt, forget about it
The jacket looked intriguing: the mystery about "Night Watch". Cool. Learn a little about Rembrandt/ his work/ the time period. It's none of that. Not even close.
It's just more of Greenaway's tedious theatrics. It's all talk. No action; no discovery; no story; nada. Multiple characters talk simultaneously so if you were trying to follow the story you could not. And as with all plays each character talks as if there's no one else around.
The 1st half or so is a lot of gynecological detail, childbirth, and crying children. Greenaway supposedly likes strong women so perhaps this is how we're brought into that viewpoint. There's lots of sex talk (and some simulation).
Freeman struts around w/ modern manners, speech, gestures, attitudes - much as if he's on the "Love Actually" set or in some kind of 17th-century gangster movie. The accents are Brit (posh & low), Irish, Polish, Canadian, more. Yeah, who cares? But this is a heavy costume drama so you'd think there's be some consistency.
Toby Jones - the only decent thing about it - is wasted.
So it's really horrible but the best part is that you don't get away with one of Woody Allen's 87 miserable-minutes. This is 2+ hours. And that's not fair anyway: this is way worse than any of Allen's low.
Ellie Parker (2005)
I don't know who I am anymore.
Here's the spoiler so we get it out of the way. The point of the movie - and this is like so totally amazing when it hits you - is that when you're an actor and you're auditioning a lot you sometimes "don't know who you are anymore".
No really. That had never occurred to me. I bet it has never occurred to anyone else before either.
So if you like Naomi Watts and you wanted to see her in a vanity piece about how soul-suckingly painful "Hollywood" is. And, you know, that incredible revelation above. This is your movie.
Maybe you always wanted to see Naomi Watts talk on Oprah about how enervating Hollywood is. Or perhaps you wanted to see Naomi Watts play Rosanna Arquette - all those quirky ditzy quirky mannerisms that are a mask for the quirky girl underneath. Or you wanted to see Rosanna Arquette play Naomi Watts.
Or, hey, maybe you just wanted to see someone winge about how hard acting is when you are so good but the producers and your boyfriend and your agent are all jerks. And at times "you don't know who you are anymore."
If any of that speaks to you, this is your movie.
If you wanted humor, insight into Hollywood, acting, a decent script, a real (vs fake) cinema verity feel; or if you just don't like to see Naomi Watts be Naomi Watts for the 20th time; then you won't like this.
Piano music isn't enough
Elegy turns on an old-Hollywood premise: if you say often enough - if you say over and over - that a character is beautiful (the standard trick with someone being "groomed for stardom") then the public will believe it.
Cruz has the kind of distant beauty that other women respond to and tell you about. The kind that works for cosmetics ads. The woman your sister thinks is so drop-dead fabulously gorgeous. When you meet her you see that she wears chic clothes, jewelry, and lots of makeup. But lacks any real sexiness. Although if you're after a woman who always chooses the exact right necklace with the perfect dress ....
The 1st half or so of the movie revolves around oh how beautiful Cruz is: Kingsley acts it out by staring at her; the camera reinforces it; he tells you in narration several times; and he discusses it with his best friend (and Greek Chorus) Hopper who makes various comments about beauty.
Kingsley's character is 30+ years older than Cruz's. The age difference and her beauty make Kingsley insecure. And he develops REAL feelings, perhaps for the 1st time. Cruz is mostly smug - all-knowing beyond her years - and is able to explain some things about life and relationships to him.
Piano music plays throughout most scenes - even when people are talking - so you're aware of just how significant every hand gesture and head turn is.
Sarsgaard plays Kingsley's irritating son. Irritating because you don't really find out why he hates his dad so much. You're told why, but you never feel any of it. Patricia Clarkson spells out her problems with Kingsley but you don't feel this either. Deborah Harry is probably the best thing in her small role as Hopper's wife.
Despite the strong publicity campaign to sell Cruz an actress capable of the most incredible range of emotions, she's always seemed to be moving through a soap opera. I know, I know, she's in Almodovar movies so she must be the real thing. I mean, his movies mine the very depth of human emotions, no?
Here she does little to nothing. If the movie were in 5ths, the 3rd & 4th parts are decent - Kingsley shows some depth and other characters are allowed to fill out. Cruz is not in these parts.
The movie ends on a heavy note - again all talk. Cruz could be in any Lifetime dramafest here but I'm sure the final scene will be acclaimed: an actress baring her very soul. No, sorry, a woman baring her very soul. Again, don't worry about missing the meaning here because it's spelled out for you.
Net synopsis: an old roué falls in love with a fashion-industry poster while piano music plays. With her and then without her he learns the joy and sadness of life.
But why am I telling you this? The movie makes it so easy. It was great in fact - I didn't have to think at all.
The Poker House (2008)
A bad HS play
This runs out much like a play: characters speak their lines and act individually rather than interact; folks jump in and out of scenes with dialog that has no relation to a narrative that might have been developed; quirkiness abounds.
The film opens with "based on a true story" and closes with a note that we've just seen the director's real life. OK, but realism and verisimilitude by themselves don't make for good art.
Oh, and it's narrated throughout so there's no possibility that you'll miss something. Narration is great for folks who don't want to take the time to film a story.
It's a shame because there's a good story here - kids growing up around - and being lead into - gambling, drugs, prostitution, theft, etc. We just don't see any of it. We see a superhero girl sententiously pushed down our throats by the writer-director.
The Love Guru (2008)
The worst comedy; maybe the worst movie
It's not unbelievable that Myers would be crass, gross, disgusting, childish, immature, ridiculous, not-funny, et al. He was training to make this in Goldmember. Love Guru is best described as the movie a wealthy producer's 12-year-old spoiled child would write, produce and direct.
What's unbelievable is that Alba, Kingsley and Timberlake would be in it. Kingsley is too bad for words; Alba is nothing; Timberlake is the only even-remotely funny thing.
Years ago Myers yelped a lot about how much money Adam Sandler made relative to his own paltry $10-12 million/ movie. Seeing this one knows why: if Myers had any talent at all (and Dieter & Austin Powers don't prove that), it's gone.
Don't even bother to get this free from the library. Don't borrow it from a friend. Sitting through it will cost you many brain cells.
On top of it, there's a glimpse of what could have been a brilliant parody of Indian musicals - with Alba dancing and singing in Indian dress. There's also probably a hockey movie around Timberlake's character.
Never ever ever again will I watch or listen to Myers in anything made after 1999 - the 1st Austin Powers.