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Anger Management (2012)
Watchable, but redundant
Sitcom about group therapy for anger control. Charlie Sheen almost reprises his role from "Two and a Half Men," and the rest of the cast, though not bad, fails to keep up with him. It's not boring, but it's unoriginal and unneeded and drowns in mediocrity. No wonder it was canceled after only two seasons.
The Punisher: Dirty Laundry (2012)
Jack Daniels is not flammable
This ten-minute homage to The Punisher is a fan-film, but a fan-film made by professionals. The Punisher is played by Thomas Jane, an actor who played him in the 2004 movie. There's also Ron Perlman, and others are professional actors too. The director is not famous, but he is experienced. Phil Joanou has previously directed about twenty films, series and music videos, including Bon Jovi's "Keep the Faith" and a bunch of videos for U2. The movie infringes on Punisher's copyright and uses music from "The Dark Knight" (2008), so it's only been released on YouTube and it's a wonder that it wasn't removed already.
The story is simple, realistic and brutal, and gives a better characterization of Frank Castle than the Marvel films. The film is very well made and, after this, all three feature films in Marvel production look lame. It would be fantastic if this crew would get an opportunity to shoot a full-length feature film and make a proper adaptation of The Punisher.
"It's human to lie. Most of the time we can't even be honest with ourselves."
It may be that this film, from the perspective of 1950s Japan, is a masterpiece in all aspects, but I would never rewatch it. Cinematography is straight ten, but that would be about all I can praise. The story is slightly above mediocre, directing is better than in "Throne of Blood", but nowhere close to "Seven Samurai", and histrionic over-acting prevents me from connecting with the characters and experiencing this as a serious film. And what to say about the sword-fight between the bandit and the husband from the perspective of the woodcutter... Like I was watching Japanese Mr. Bean or Monty Python, except it wasn't funny. No matter how hard I try, the cultural gap between Kurosawa's creativity and my perception seems to be insurmountable.
The Addams Family (1964)
Snap your fingers and enjoy the show
Two seasons of this black and white sitcom, totaling 64 episodes, are one of my favorite childhood memories. Perfect casting, perfect morbid-comic atmosphere, brilliant dialogues and replicas, and seductive Carolyn Jones. An unforgettable experience, partly because it's so good, and partly because I can't forget something that I rewatch every couple of years.
Phantom Thread (2017)
What precisely is the point of this film?
Extremely slow, but at no point boring, well-written, even better acted and perfectly shot. So why do I feel like I've just wasted two hours ...
Days of Thunder (1990)
Top Gun on the ground
Tom Cruise in an action movie about NASCAR drivers - I was convinced I would quit after about fifteen minutes. I was wrong. Although I am not a fan of films like this, nor of the aforementioned gentleman, the film has held my undivided attention from start to finish. Although this movie is primarily an adrenaline fun, the story makes sense, has some depth and message. Nothing new or original, but universal enough that it does not become obsolete. Besides, the film features Nicole Kidman in her early twenties, which in itself is reason enough to watch it. And there are also Robert Duvall, Randy Quaid, and John C. Reilly. The sound is great, and the roar of racing cars is accompanied by a legendary soundtrack (Gimme Some Lovin' - Spencer Davis, Break Through the Barrier - Tina Turner, Trail of Broken Hearts - Cher, Hearts in Trouble - Chicago, You Gotta Love Someone - Elton John, Show Me Heaven - Maria McKee, The Last Note of Freedom - David Coverdale,...). The only thing I would object is that the plot is extremely predictable from start to finish, so there is no tension, but the good pace and scenes of car racing make up for this shortcoming, so the movie is not boring for a moment.
'Allo 'Allo! (1982)
"Listen carefully, I shall say this only once"
During WWII, Rene Artois and his wife Edith run a café where members of the Gestapo and French Resistance pass by each other daily, which, combined with Rene's adultery, provides an inexhaustible source of entertainment. Excellent script, character diversity, brilliant comedians, extremely witty dialogues and catchy replicas that will be remembered forever, make "Allo Allo!" one of the best sitcoms of all time. Many of us have watched a bunch of random episodes when it was run on TV, but watching this show in its entirety in a period as short as possible is a phenomenal experience that I gladly return to every few years.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
"Oh, I'm in trouble"
It wasn't very clear to me why would anyone make new Spider-man trilogy just five years after the previous one ended (quite poorly), but as I decided to see all Marvel flicks... I read IMDb reviews and cross myself. Tastes differ, that's a fact, but to rate this movie from one to three out of ten is nothing but spite. There is no way that anyone seriously thinks that this film is unwatchable crap, except of course if they look on the whole superhero genre that way, in which case it would be fairer not to evaluate it at all.
"The Amazing Spider-Man" is a reboot of the Spider-man franchise with a slightly different approach than Raimi's. The story is basically the same, but a bunch of details is changed. In some respects, this version is more faithful to the comic book, and in every respect I liked it better. The most obvious and critical difference is the characterization of Peter Parker, who, unlike the pathetic weenie from Raimi's version, is now a rebellious teenager with whom it is easier to identify. Also, Garfield is much more likable than Maguire, though he does not exactly fit the role of a nerd. The film has a great pace and balance of drama, action, and humor just to my liking. A little laughter, a little sitting on the edge of a chair, and two hours flew by. The only advantage of Raimi's version, very subjective though, is that, to me, Kirsten Dunst is much more attractive than Emma Stone, and the chemistry between her and Tobey is stronger than between Emma and Garfield.
Love at First Bite (1979)
"I'm a doctor and I know what I'm doing"
"Love at First Bite" is a parody of films about Dracula, set in the disco environment of the 1970s. It relies mostly on "Dracula" from 1931, most notably in the performances of George Hamilton and Arte Johnson, who apparently mimic Lugosi and Dwight Frye. There are also references to the "Dance of the Vampires" (1967) and "Scream Blacula Scream" (1973). The story basically follows the original, but is constantly twisted into a parody and filled with gags and jokes. The movie is clever and humorous, but we for some reason, except in a few scenes, it didn't make me laugh. Probably because I'm not a fan of the seventies in general, the film simply did not leave a strong impression. I had some fun, but I wouldn't rewatch it.
An interesting approach to "superheroes"
The series "Alphas" is about a team of people with some unusual abilities. They are not superheroes, because, in addition to special "powers", this word also carries the personality characteristics that distinguish heroes, which these characters are not. Also, their abilities are not supernatural but explained by neurological mutations that somewhat "hold water", so this is not fantasy but SF. Their "powers" also carry negative consequences, so a character with the ability to gain increased power by consciously pumping adrenaline, after a few minutes remains unusable, a character who can sharpen the sense of choice at the same time "loses" other senses, and a character who can "see" and manipulate electromagnetic waves, and thus monitors cellphones or surfs Internet without aids, is at the same time autistic. Besides the action, the series is quite dedicated to the characterization of the protagonists and their mutual relationships and, although the premise is all but original, the approach to the story is different from similar shows I've encountered so far. It had potential, and it's a shame it was canceled after just two seasons.
This is allegedly the sequel to "El Mariachi", but let's be honest, this is actually the same film made with more experience, a higher budget, better actors and better technology... and phenomenal music.
"It prioritises stylishness while neglecting the scares"
I have watched countless vampire movies and series, some forty of which are related to the legendary Count Dracula, and at least ten are direct adaptations of the famous novel by Bram Stoker. When you watch the same story in too many films that differ only in nuances, that story gets pretty boring and the movie has to be really good to stand out from the bunch and make an impression. John Badham's "Dracula" from 1979, the year that produced a dozen films on the subject, is one of the most impressionable.
The film is inspired by the Broadway show and is one of the most faithful adaptations of the novel, but it stands out from the mass of similar ones because of its slightly different approach that puts style before the scares. While most of the "Dracula" adaptations belong to the horror genre, with a few exceptions that turn the story into a thriller or a comedy, this movie is a drama with a touch of romance, in which the horror elements are present only to the extent necessary to comply with the original story.
Badham wanted to shoot it in black and white, but Universal Pictures insisted on Technicolor. The compromise solution was a color film in which prevail black, white and gray, with occasional use of muted warm colors, so the atmosphere is similar to what a black and white film would have. Personally, I don't think it could have turned out any better. Excellent photography and directing focus more on the beauty of the shot than on the horror effect, and this sight for sore eyes is accompanied by original music by John Williams, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. It should be noted that Williams has been nominated for an Oscar nearly forty times, of which he has won five, for the films "Fiddler on the Roof", "Jaws", "E.T.", "Star Wars" and "Schindler's List", and is also known for music for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Superman," "Indiana Jones," "The Witches of Eastwick," "Home Alone," "JFK," "Amistad," "Saving Private Ryan," "AI," "Harry Potter "and many others.
Dracula is played by Frank Langella, who also played The Count in the Broadway show that inspired the film. Unlike his predecessors, he refused to portray Dracula as a bloodthirsty monster, refused to wear artificial fangs and shoot scenes of bloody teeth, but instead portrayed the Count as an elegant nobleman, gentleman and seducer, and his relationship with Lucy (the names Mina and Lucy are reversed in this adaptation) is not a relationship of predator and victim, but a romance similar to those of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Kate Nelligan excellently portrayed the role of Lucy, her father is played by Donald Pleasence (Dr. Loomis from the "Halloween" franchise ), Mina Van Helsing is played by Jan Francis, and Prof. Abraham Van Helsing by the legendary Laurence Olivier.
A must-watch for Dracula fans, but also a warm recommendation to anyone who loves cinema with style, black-and-white film, and old-school Hollywood romance, whether or not you have a fondness for the horror genre.
After a car accident in which a family member is killed, a detective begins to live two parallel realities. In one reality, he lives with his wife and their son is killed, and when he falls asleep in that reality he awakens in another where he lives with his son and his wife is killed. In both realities he goes to a psychiatrist who convinces him that the other reality is just a dream and a way for his mind to cope with loss. But which reality is real, which is a dream, or both are real, or both are a dream... The series is phenomenally done and is a total mindfak. I was very disappointed when it was canceled after the first season, but believe me, even unfinished, it's more than worth watching.
Ilha das Flores (1989)
Tragicomic social satire
"Ilha das Flores" (Island of Flowers) is a thirteen-minute documentary by Brazilian writer and director Jorge Furtado, which in a very striking way presents a social critique of Brazilian society, and the dark side of capitalism in general. Furtado doesn't say anything new with this movie, but he captures the essence of the commonly known in an unexpected and interesting way, making his story at the same time hilarious and depressing, entertaining and upsetting. Unlike many reviewers, I would not call it the best short documentary ever and I cannot say that I am thrilled, but the movie is excellent and very original and definitely worth watching. You will spend less than fifteen minutes on a movie that, if not unforgettable, certainly isn't easily forgettable.
It's finally over
The eleventh installment of the "Halloween" franchise completely ignores all previous films and builds directly on the original from 1978, but at the same time, it is full of "Easter egg" references to each of the prequels, even to "Halloween III: Season of the Witch", which has nothing to do with Michael Myers or the rest of the franchise. With this movie, the franchise got the fourth timeline. The original timeline consists of films from the first to the sixth, with the exception of the aforementioned third. The seventh, "H20" ignored movies from the fourth to the sixth and created a second timeline, consisting of the first two films, "H20" and "Resurrection." Rob Zombie opened the third with his two reboot films from 2007 and 2009, and now we have the fourth one made up of the original movie and this one.
This is a well-crafted slasher-horror, which in itself has no major flaws and, viewed within its timeline, is a worthy successor to the original film. But if you, like me, have watched all ten films that preceded it, this is just additional pouring sand in the desert, because almost everything this film brings has already been seen, which makes it extremely boring.
If you are a fan, well acquainted with the entire franchise, you can find satisfaction in searching for "Easter eggs" and identifying references to previous films. I particularly liked that in this movie Jamie Lee Curtis and Myers repeatedly find themselves in situations similar to those in the first movie, but in reversed roles.
If you have not yet watched the "Halloween" franchise, I advise you not to watch everything, but to follow one timeline. As, in my opinion, "H20" is the best in the franchise, I suggest the following:
Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998).
Then you could watch this one and, in the end, only the first reboot by Rob Zombie.
"Ha! I kill me!"
The spacecraft of Gordon Shumway, a hairy and chatty glutton from the planet Melmac, crashes to Earth, straight through the roof of the garage of the average American family, which from that moment on becomes anything but average. They decided to keep him and gave him the name ALF, short for Alien Life Form.
As a child, I never missed an episode. My sister and I loved it. I mean, how can you not love the bad-mannered and narcissistic, but good-hearted alien, which is an inexhaustible source of laughter and who's continuously trying to eat the house cat, in every way making it difficult for his hosts to hide him from the public eye. A few years ago, I re-watched all four seasons and enjoyed it even more than when I was a kid, because as a seven-year-old I couldn't quite understand every joke and gag. The movie that came out instead of the fifth season, to complete the story because the series was canceled, you can freely skip, and the cartoon series are nothing special either, but the original four seasons are an absolute must-watch.
The Avengers (2012)
"Cognitive recalibration - I hit you really hard on the head"
Action, action, action, effects, effects, effects, action, effects, effects, action, action, effects... I don't know, maybe I should give up on superhero movies, or maybe Marvel could put a little effort into giving them some meaning. Two and a half hours of stunning effects and breathtaking action, great acting and directing, interesting characters, a few witty remarks, but all together is kind of vain and pointless. The plot didn't engage me, I didn't relate to the characters and I couldn't care less what will happen to them. There was no depth or point. This is simply a couple of hours of superficial fun for those who have fun shutting their brains out. I love the effects and the action and the adrenaline too, but that's not enough for me. I need the film to have a strong story and depth. If I can't have both, I'll always pick a poorly filmed good story rather than superbly made nonsense. Still, I have to admit that it is really powerfully filmed and, within the genre, I cannot go below
The Green Mile (1999)
"I've done some things in my life I'm not proud of, but this is the first time I've ever felt in real danger of hell."
I usually comment on movies right after watching them, while still under strong impressions. Of course, provided that the film does leave impressions. Movies over two hours I watch in halves, two days in a row, or even thirds, in case they are extremely long and slow-paced. Also, I tend to "rewind". I often watch certain scenes two or more times, whether to understand them better or simply because I like them. I take breaks to search the Internet for answers to questions that pop into my head (Where have I seen this actor before? When did this guy die? What exactly does this word mean?), to make screenshots of powerful cadres, write a note in the skeleton of future review, do something that comes to mind and I'm afraid I'll forget if I don't do it right away...
"The Green Mile" lasts over three hours. It flew by faster than a sitcom episode. I saw it in one breath, without a single "rewinding" or pausing, without even blinking. Without a single thought unrelated to the movie. I don't remember the last time a movie caught my attention like this, and when it ended, I was left speechless. Even now, a day later, I am unable to write anything analytical about it. The technical aspects are excellent, but essentially irrelevant. I would only like to mention the performance of Michael Clarke Duncan, which was so convincing and full of emotional charge that he repeatedly brought tears to my eyes. The story this movie tells, the message and the emotion it conveys, are enough to make this film fully deserving of its reputation and its high place on the list of the best films of all time, side by side with "The Shawshank Redemption". If I recall correctly, King himself stated that this film is the most faithful adaptation of one of his novels. And when it comes to adaptations of Stephen King, we can divide them into two groups - Frank Darabont's adaptations and all the other adaptations that, compared to Darabont's, can only go to the corner to be ashamed of themselves (with the exception of Kubrick's "The Shining" and Reiner's "Misery").
Length kills pleasure
It is amazing how they succeeded to make the Hobbit story boring. I had to struggle not to fall asleep. It looks fantastic, but it is simply way too long for the story it tells. Length kills pleasure. All qualities are in its shadow. So sad...
"Delusion is a lie that tells a truth"
Suspiria (2018) is based on the characters and the story of the eponymous film by Dario Argento from 1977, but I would not call it a remake. The original film relies on superb cinematography, striking photography, directing and sound, which in a specific way combine the beautiful and the eerie, while the story is poorly elaborated and much remains just in the hints. "Remake" takes over Argento's characters and story and thoroughly elaborates them. Here we have better scenario and characterization, but from the standpoint of cinematography, the film is far below the original. Genre approach also differs. While the original keeps us almost completely in ignorance and uncertainty, developing a psychological drama that transforms itself into a horror only in the end, "remake" is explicit and almost from the start can be classified as a horror. It is distinguished by attractive women and good acting, and effects and production are at a high level, but the film lacks that specific atmosphere that was given to the original by top-level directing and photography, and especially the use of colors. The sixth act is the only part of the film visually comparable with the original, but at the same time it is such a nonsense, which degrades the story to the level of parody or B horror of the eighties. In addition, it is unnecessarily stretched to two and a half hours, which in many segments makes it boring.
If the original crew from 1977, led by Argento, made the film in the style of the original, but using the script of the "remake" and with today's technology, it would probably be a masterpiece.
Blue Mountain State (2010)
Absolute must watch, at least for a male audience
The series takes us into the world of American college football. The main characters are guys whose life is spinning around sports, sex (or at least aspirations towards it) and endless partying. I can not compare this series with anything, because I do not remember seeing anything similar, and definitely nothing so much fun. I am not competent to comment on the script, directing, acting, or any other aspect of this series, because I was largely overwhelmed by laughter, and totally did not care for its technical aspects or objective quality. It's so addictive that I watched a season daily.
"Despite the fact that I'm a swirling black hole, I'm pretty faking awesome sometimes"
After a series "The X Files" David Duchovny had planned to withdraw from the television, and I thought that I would in any future role still see him as Fox Mulder. I was wrong. With the role of Hank Moody, he immediately wiped all memory of Mulder.
Hank Moody is a writer in blockade, who lives of old fame and money earned from the movie based on his bestseller, while driving his Porsche from pub to party, from alcohol to drugs, from making love with a prostitute to wild sex with every woman willing to spread her legs, persistently and hopelessly trying to escape from depression and suffering for the family he destroyed. Explicit scenes of bohemian "sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll" life, immersed in impossible situations full of shame-transfers, genius replicas, inexhaustible (mostly black) humor, which vulgarly and brutally hold you on the edge between embarrassment and dying from laughter, are shifting to deeply emotional scenes of his desperate attempts to reconcile with his ex-wife and raise his teenage daughter.
Although the fantastic script and Duchovny's perfect performance are what rises this show to the top of the best series I've ever watched, we must not forget the excellent casting of supporting characters, whose diversity complements this crazy story and makes it an unforgettable experience. Particularly distinguished among them is Evan Handler, as Hank's best friend, whose performance stands side by side with Duchovny's.
I could say that it's genre is a drama-comedy, but for me, this series is falling into a special category of "complete awesomeness". There are very few series I followed from start to finish, but this one I saw several times in its entirety and each time I was impressed as the first time. I have no complaints, except that it did not last forever. One of the strongest tens I ever gave.
Until an hour ago, I never heard of Jan Svankmajer, and at this moment I still have no idea of who he is and what he did, but after this unforgettable experience I will definitely explore it. This short movie combines live-action with stop-motion animation in a morbidly fascinating way, and while it is quite disgusting and sick, it is at the same time mesmerizing and thought-provoking. I think I figured what the author wanted to say, but I do not want to go into an analysis of the "story" because it is better if you see the film without any knowledge of what awaits you, and then get your own conclusions after your impressions settle. And the impressions are guaranteed to be strong. Take my word when I tell you that this film is worth 15 minutes of your time. It left me speechless in the most positive sense.
The Blacklist (2013)
The Concierge of Crime
Raymond Reddington, number one on the FBI's Most Wanted List, which has been successfully avoided arrest for decades, suddenly appears at the FBI headquarters, surrenders and insists on talking exclusively with newcomer Detective Elizabeth Keen. The series has 6 seasons and 133 episodes so far, in which Reddington, in exchange for immunity, helps a secret branch of the FBI to catch the dangerous and powerful criminals that they did not even know existed. Each episode is a quality forty-minute thriller with own plot, while the characters of Reddington and Elizabeth gradually build through all episodes and deepen the mystery of why he surrendered and why he chose her specifically.
Although he was not the first choice for the role and fell in the series just a couple of days before the shooting started, James Spader is even better here than in "Boston Legal" and I do not think that anybody could play the role of Reddington better. Megan Boone was initially annoying to me, but in time the man became accustomed to everything, so after six seasons I even became fond of her. The whole cast is good and their characterization is excellent. The script combines crime thriller with drama and occasional comic-relief moments. Technical quality is great and the show has a perfectly balanced pace so that it never loses the grip of your attention. I can not wait for the start of the seventh season scheduled for October this year.
Storm of the Century (1999)
Why is this happening to us?
"Storm of the Century" is a mini-series of three episodes in a total duration of just over four hours. The script was written by Stephen King, but this time it is not an adaptation of his novel, but the story written directly for television. It's a pity, because, as a fan of Stephen King and his writing style, all the time while watching I was imagining how it would look like in written word, and I believe it would be one of his better novels. On the other hand, the film is nothing special. For starters, more than four hours is really too much for this story. If they rearrange it into a two-hour movie, it would be much stronger. This way, it is just unnecessarily diluted.
The story, as usual, takes place in Maine, on a small island with a few hundred people, the same one where Dolores Claiborne lives. During the unprecedented snowstorm, which has cut off this community from the world, a mysterious and terrifying stranger appears on the island and begins to terrorize them. After three hours of building the atmosphere, when the tension of the viewer already balances on the edge of boredom, the stranger sets a terrible ultimatum and the film finally comes to culmination and unexpected denouement. Now that my impressions settled a little, I'm ambiguous whether the stranger is really the bad guy in this story or the villagers themselves only got what they deserved. Whether his ultimatum was real or just a bluff that played on the card of their false morality and essential disunity. Why the only guy who wasn't sinful ended up screwed the worst, or maybe he, in fact, suffered the least... But I do not want to go deeper into that, because I don't want to spoil the story for those who may decide to see it for themselves. But if you saw the movie, I would like to discuss this more specifically with someone.
The acting and directing are good, the atmosphere is dramatic and tense enough, the effects are decent for the television series of the nineties, but it is too stretched and too tiring to watch all at once. There are no major flaws, but no prominent qualities either. The only thing that raises this series above the average is the story itself and the message it conveys, and in particular the fact that there is no happy ending, which gives it an additional effect.
Finally, I would like to point out that the real fans of Stephen King, as a special treat, will have the opportunity to hunt for references to many other King's stories and films. What I managed to catch include: "The Last Stand," "The Shining," "It," and "Dolores Claiborne", as well as many faces that I know from other King's adaptations.