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Not good, but don't fault the actors
For once, the acting is very good in one of these teen-horror movies, and the direction wasn't bad (though pretty predictable) -- but the story was so weak and confused that the film suffered terribly.
The title was totally off the mark -- the girl wasn't haunted in the "normal," popular use of the term, more "possessed" than haunted. And what was that prelude about? It was just a false start, for all practical purposes. (Yes, I do get that the 1997 girl was supposed to be another "chosen one," but the dating seemed arbitrary and silly -- if she were "chosen" and unique, and then was ((SPOILER ALERT))killed on the cusp of her 18th birthday, wouldn't those who set the whole choosing thing up need 18 years plus the length of a pregnancy to set up the next one? So "1997" should have been "1987," right? Indicative of the lack of internal logic in this film.) But I enjoyed the performances of all the main actors. Jake Weber was the only one I've consciously seen before, as the father, and he was good. The main character was believable and sympathetic, as was her punkish friend. The male lead, a Zac Efron look-alike (which may not be a good thing for his career) was good enough, the girl playing his girlfriend had weird hair but aside from that, was decent.
Excellent episode of the Best Show Ever on Broadcast TV
If Clark Johnson never acted in another episode, play or movie, he could rest comfortably knowing his performance in this episode was simply the best ever, in a show known to raise the emotional heights higher than usual on television.
His work has always been understated and cool, which made his explosion all the more unexpected, realistic and moving in this show. Highly recommended; kudos, Mr Johnson!
Padding for length Padding for length Padding for length (silly rule -- who's fault is it that I don't have a full 10-lines worth of kudos for Clark Johnson here?)
The Tracey Fragments (2007)
Annoyingly original ... or is it originally annoying?
Even if it was the first film to use "Mondrian multi-frame compositions" from start to finish, this will only appeal to you if you're a) an angst-ridden 15 year old girl, b) an Ellen Page fan or relative, or c) a misled fan of "Juno" who thinks anything with Ellen is better than anything else.
The split screen (aka "Mondrian multi-frame compositions") is pretentious and ineffective except in a few selective sequences. It does work occasionally, but almost by accident -- I bet it even surprised the director when it did.
This is an art-film gone mad. Ellen is excellent playing a less-fun, and far less funny, version of Juno in a family-hell situation. Recommended if you are fighting insomnia, this is possibly the longest 77 minute film of all time.
Battle 360 (2008)
Loads of fun!
The CGI isn't up to current standards, and they tend to flip and re-use many shots, but given that it's a History Channel production, and therefore doesn't have an HBO-sized budget, this is a very interesting and fun show.
The CGI is good and more than adequate to the task (although a scene of the carrier Akagi taking a direct hit on a Japanese plane on the flight-deck shows the plane engulfed in flames but not blown to smithereens). My only real criticism is that the narration skips a lot of detail.
Those of us who have read a lot on the Battle of Midway know Soryu was sunk a little after Kaga and Akagi, but that knowledge seems to be assumed by the writers -- of course, these first episodes focus almost entirely on USS Enterprise, CV-6, and not the battle as a whole, so maybe a "Battle 360" just on Midway would clear that up. That kind of omission is forgivable for viewers who know this stuff and just like to see things blow up (like me), but for neophytes, it may be confusing.
Great little war film on a BIG subject
Given its small budget, this is a fine little film about Italian troops abandoned in the face of the British counter attack at El Alamein in late 1942.
More films and books need to be made about this sad chapter in the history of Italy, whose international military reputation is somewhat lower than that of the French.
Italian troops gave no less to their cause than did Germans or the British, the Russians, the Americans, and the Japanese. But because of poor leadership from Mussolini on down, they were forced to surrender in droves, and as much as we don't want to admit it, we Westerners hold those who surrender in pretty low esteem.
This film goes a long way toward correcting the historical record through its touching story, beautiful acting, wonderful art direction, and absolutely stunning cinematography.
The Omen (2006)
GOOD remake ... but still a REMAKE
I generally don't like remakes, they seem so, I don't know... unoriginal somehow. This was no exception, except it was genuinely well done.
The art direction was flawless, except wasn't it just a LITTLE odd that the Ambassador didn't live in the official residence, and what he did live in looked like a remodeled church?
The psychiatrist's office was virtually identical to that in "The Sopranos."
Damien riding his Razor through the halls looked an awful lot like what Kubrick did in the halls at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining... or did Kubrick rip it off from the original Omen??
Great casting of Mia Farrow! And what a great kill! (Oops, did that need a SPOILER warning? It's a REMAKE fer chrissake!)
I liked Liev Scheiber: he seemed to be channeling Gregory Peck, the same tone of voice, the same phrasing.
Julia Stiles wasn't bad, despite the reviews I read at the time.
When Pete Postlethwaite had his terminal experience, I liked how in the original the lightening came from a clear sky. Would have been cool if the storm had stopped the moment he... well, died.
David Thewlis made an excellent David Warner. Cynical but not annoyingly so!
I'm not sure I liked the color palate: too blue, great for London and the icy Italian monastery, but still too blue in Jerusalem and Rome (even though it was supposed to be winter).
Specific criticisms (and yes, I did take notes while watching): Why did Postlethwaite's priest have a 666 brand?
Why didn't Scheiber or Thewlis wear hats in the winter scenes in Italy? People wear hats in winter, especially if it's snowing!
*HERE THERE BE SPOILERS*
Wouldn't an embolism show up on an autopsy?
Could you beat off a determined Rottweiler attack with a tire iron?
Would the top of that sign-thing be sharp enough to behead somebody? And it would have had to have been extremely well balanced to spin like that and not just crash against the wall, before falling in a heap and crushing the poor bugger.
Would a new-looking Kohler kitchen faucet drip?
Didn't Damien's birthmark look more like ringworm than a birthmark??
Why didn't that cardinal with the dying Pope take that chalice of wine? Now they'll have to get those sheets dry-cleaned!
Why did they save Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar-winning score for the end credits?? The new score was excellent, BTW... and I'm glad Goldsmith's was reused a bit, but more would have been good!
And doesn't everybody in the world know where Meggido is, by now? Especially a foreign-service diplomat, when he was training to have a Mediterranean post. (I liked that they made him bilingual, BTW: nice touch of realism.)
That's about it. I enjoyed it, and if you liked the original, you won't be too disappointed with this one. The kills were all good, too,and that's important for a film like this!
Der Fall Gleiwitz (1961)
Amazing film -- ahead of its time!
I had no idea this film dated from 1961 as I watched it, mesmerized, last night. It is so well produced, written and acted that I thought it must have been one of the recent German films about WWII, like Der Untergang and Stalingrad and Das Boot. I believed the black and white film -- virtually perfect in the DVD transfer I saw -- was there only for the verisimilitude it offered.
The acting is convincing. The music is disturbing -- modern, yet "classical" to the point of being ageless.
One very minor quibble: In the version I saw, a line about the arms the soldiers will carry on their mission is badly translated/subtitled. It comes out something like "8mm pistols and .98 calibre rifles." The ".98 calibre rifles" should have been the Gewehr 98K ("K" for Karbiner, or carbine). Like I said -- minor!
One caveat: as it was produced for the East German market -- in the year before the Berlin wall went up -- there may be Soviet influences on the film that I didn't pick up on -- believing as I did that this was a post-Cold War film. If the same film were to be made today, in a reunified Germany, there might be thematic differences, but I think they'd be rather minor.
Highly recommended as both a history lesson and as a film.
Corpses Are Forever (2004)
For a no-budget, not-sure-of-its-genre film, not bad
If this movie could have focused, it could have been an entertaining little romp, filmed in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, with an excellent cast of grade-Z actors, including the homeless-man's Rutger Hauer, Richard Lynch, and the aging but still cute Linnea Quigley, among others.
The biggest problem I saw in this movie was the lack of focus. Was it a James Bond parody, as you might expect from the title? No. THAT would have been cool -- what would a James Bond-style secret agent do in a world full of zombies? No, this is more Memento meets Night of the Living Dead meets American Werewolf in London ... with Linnea Quigley as some sort of undead Deus ex Machina.
If you take into consideration the lack of budget (to the point that there are virtually no threatening zombies on screen and no threat of impending doom, until someone mentions it in dialogue), it's fun. If you try to judge it without those considerations, it's really really bad. So be kind! I'd rent the sequel, The Corpse Who Loved Me ... wouldn't you?
The Passover Plot (1976)
Demands a re-release
Of course this film -- made over thirty years ago to exploit a controversial theory -- has been all but forgotten until very recently. But if The Da Vinci Code (2006) is as popular as the book -- and it looks like that's a possibility -- then this should be re-released, or shown on The History Channel or presented on DVD by a decent company, with Da Vinci Code tie-ins and all.
The book this is from, with the same title, by Hugo Schoenfeld, is very good, well researched and well thought-out. Another complementary title (and one the Da Vinci Code is accused of stealing from) is Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln's Holy Blood, Holy Grail. All three are recommended to religious conspiracy/heresy fans, like me, although The Da Vinci Code itself is the worst written of the trio.
Idi i smotri (1985)
Awesome, haunting, horrifying
I habitually use the IMDb to find treasures I might not have seen in my day-to-day movie watching, but am rarely as pleased as I was when I found this film.
Come and See is the story of a young man who joins the Byelorussian partisans in their resistance to the invading fascist hordes during World War II. The title comes from the Book of Revelations, according to the director in an introductory interviewed contained in the two-disc DVD I saw.
The film is based on a group of incidents observed by A. Adamovich during his youth. Director Klimov also grew up during the Patriotic War, but in the Stalingrad area.
Filmed exclusively in Byelorussia, the movie has a wonderful feeling of versimilitude, due to the real locations, the naturalistic acting, the wonderful costumes (many of which are authentic WWII issue uniforms, apparently), and the overall somber tone. Special effects are minimal, most are "in camera." Most effective of all may be the scene in which the boy hero and his mentor steal a cow and are then shot at by the Germans -- who are never seen until the final forty minutes or so of the film.
Highly recommended, especially if your notion of the War on the Eastern Front is derived from "Hogan's Heroes" reruns -- with the comedic threats of getting Sergeant Schultz sent to the Eastern Front as punishment. Even _Stalingrad_ was not as gritty and real as this film.