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Captivating portrait of a great American
My wife and I are not usually big fans of one-man performances so it says a lot that we were captivated from beginning to end. Laurence Fishburne is absolutely wonderful in this performance.
We learned a lot about Justice Marshall in less than two hours. Compressing such a powerful story into a short time frame requires a certain economy in presentation of the facts and this is the only flaw. At one point, Governor Earl Warren is referred to as the one that interred all of the American citizens of Japanese ancestry in California during WWII. Warren did have to carry out that order, but the order came from President Roosevelt. This play also took President Eisenhower to task for not immediately enforcing school integration. It might have been nice to expand on this. Ike was in his first term when the Supreme Court made its ruling but he waited until he was re-elected before putting the muscle of the Federal government behind integration, beginning with Little Rock Central High in 1957. I have to admit that adding these clarifying details probably would have bogged "Thurgood" down, so I still give this video a "10."
The Take (2007)
Another potentially good film marred by camera with the shakes
There is a time and a place for shaky, hand-held camera work. This irritating technique continues to be the most over-used in Hollywood. I nearly turned this film off after the first 4 minutes because I was experiencing motion sickness. And this was all while the protagonist was getting up and getting ready for work. Even when you are trying to show action as it might be seen from a live news camera I would still make a case for trying to show the action as it might be seen by the human eye -- steady and focused even when the viewer is moving. My perception is that shaky camera work is used in the same way that too much background music is used -- to compensate for mediocrity in the film itself.
I stayed with the film to the end because a lot of others felt it was a good film and John Leguizamo can be counted on for a fine performance. I thought the movie itself was only OK. Story line developed slowly and often tediously to a somewhat satisfying conclusion. I would have rated it a 5 to 6 with better camera work. I'm glad I saw the whole thing but I will never need to see it again.
Miracle at St. Anna (2008)
Good story done in by the director
I really wanted to like this movie. After 30 minutes I switched to something else. I revisited the film a few days later and watched the rest to the end and I am glad that I did. There is a good story in here. It just takes too long to get there. I absolutely agree with those who say it should have been a good 30 minutes shorter. I would love to sit down with Spike Lee and tell him why some scenes were not necessary or how they could have been shortened. It was like sitting through a sermon in church that took twice the time necessary to make the point. At some point it becomes self-defeating. HOWEVER, what bothered me most was the portrayal of black soldiers with a contemporary attitude. How much more powerful it would have been if Lee had portrayed the soldiers as they would have behaved in 1944, having to tolerate the open racism of "superior" officers and still go about the task of fighting for their country. The black soldiers in WWII were far more heroic and stoic than Spike Lee made them out to be. This could have been a powerful movie if Lee had honored historical facts rather than his anger.
Yours, Mine & Ours (2005)
Not like the original --- so what?
The original version with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball is one of our favorites and I, for one, am glad they didn't try to remake that story with a new cast. This is really a different story built on the same premise: a widow and widower -- each with a lot of children -- fall in love, get married, and the children are suddenly part of a new and much larger family. Unlike the original, the children don't get a chance to see this coming before it happens. The animosity is instantaneous, particularly since the Beardsley children are used to structure and organization in their lives whereas the North children have been very free and loose. The bonding of familial friendships between the children comes through their common purpose -- to destroy the relationship between their parents. There is something very profound about seeing two enemy groups come together for a common goal only to discover that they don't hate each other at all. A lot of the slapstick is over the top, but it is an entertaining 90 minutes with a message that will never grow old. I am glad to have both versions in my library.
Actually quite good, despite dysfunctional IMDb rating
I saw that nearly half of the voters gave this film a "1" and smelled a big rat. I finally saw this film myself for the first time on DVD and the experience confirmed by suspicions that IMDb ratings are becoming dysfunctional and cannot be trusted.
HS Musical 3 has superb dancing and choreography--clearly the best of the series. Songs were well crafted, if not always well sung, and the movie is well-paced. These qualities alone tell you that those who voted "1" need to get a grip on reality. The vote reeks of a concerted effort to stuff the ballot box. (Perhaps the work of the "I hate Zac Efron Club.") In any case, those who voted "10" or "1" have done a disservice to IMDb users.
The plot is much the same as the first two films in the series and all revolves around who will end up singing the duet with Troy in the musical. You have definitely seen this all before, but this version is really fun to watch. It is clean fun. No foul language. No drinking. No sex. No sophomoric humor. Perhaps that's why so many voted so low: it is wholesome. If you don't like this sort of G rated entertainment then by all means don't watch it. However, as G rated musicals go this one is a very entertaining experience.
Meet the Spartans (2008)
Much better than a "1" but certainly no "10"
Any spoof with strong production values deserves some credit for effort and "Meet the Spartans" gets high marks for set designs and costumes. Actors perform their material well. There are a number of funny bits in this film, but it falls short of ranking as a great spoof. The primary reason is it strayed too frequently from the genre represented by "300." Think of a great spoof, like "Airplane." It had great bits taken from the Airport series of films as well as the classic from the 50's, "The High and the Mighty." Meet the Spartans might have turned out better if they had stuck to "300" and films like "Alexander," "Troy," and others of the genre. Instead, they branched out in all directions including TV shows and personalities. In the final analysis, they only had enough good material for a skit on Saturday Night Live. The rest was filler. Not a total waste of time (as implied by the 55% voting "1") but not great either.
First Sunday (2008)
Entertaining comedy, IMDb ratings bigots notwithstanding
It is not often that I use the word "bigot" but I just saw this movie and when I saw that over 36% of IMDb voters gave it a "1", bigotry came to mind. With another 16% giving it a "10" that means that over half of the people rating this film have done a disservice to the IMDb community. Any rational viewer will see that this film is neither a "1" nor a "10." There are many funny bits in this film and it does have a certain poignancy as it makes its way through the story of an inept attempt to rob a church.
Is it a great movie? N0. Is it a terrible waste of time? Absolutely not. It is light-hearted entertainment with some serious twists. It is worth seeing.
Open message to IMDb: how about not counting a user's vote unless they also leave comments to support their vote? Perhaps then we would get more meaningful ratings.
The Andromeda Strain (2008)
A good remake might have been fun; this is pretty poor
I have learned, over the years, that whenever a movie or TV show has a an overwhelming amount of background music then it is usually trying to disguise something that isn't working. That is the first tip-off that this version of Andromeda Strain is of poor quality. Thank goodness for Close-Captions, since much of the dialogue was covered by music. As a science-fiction thriller, Andromeda Strain could have benefited from the advances in our knowledge over the last 37 years since the original movie. This retelling does, indeed, offer a version that has some good updates and that is the only reason I am rating it as high as a 4. I found it a tremendous struggle to stay with this production which, ultimately, is bloated and mediocre.
All the King's Men (2006)
Few redeeming qualities
I was able to view this version and the 1949 version on the same day, thanks to TCM on satellite. This remake is nearly 18 minutes longer and seems to have much less of the story. Sean Penn simply is not believable as a back-country hick with the charisma to become governor. Broderick Crawford had it perfect in the original version, but then he did get an Oscar. Perhaps it was editing, but this version simply seemed disjointed and incomplete compared to the 1949 version. The best I can say about the remake is that, unlike the original, it did not try to pass off California as Louisiana. (Being a native Californian who lived in the Deep South for four years, I know the difference.)
Low expectations yield high returns
I have just viewed this film for the first time. I made the mistake of avoiding it in the past because of the low rating by IMDb members. It certainly does not rate a "10" but "1" is just as ludicrous. For fans of the superhero/fantasy genre, this film is entertaining. Lots of good special effects and lots of fun. Sure, there are clichés, but then that is generally expected in this genre. Perhaps I enjoyed it more because the "3" rating on IMDb caused me to have such low expectations. It is clearly a better film than the rating implies, and nearly 2000 IMDb members have done a disservice with their votes of 10 or 1. It's not quite up to "Sky High" but it was a lot of fun.