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Might have worked with Meg & Tom (script of course by Nora). Would have been a blast with Cary Grant & Irene Dunne 80 years ago but it's just another rushed choppy flat halfway effort with Cusack & Beckensale. No question she's gorgeous but she just can't act. Cusack can act but just can't do light comedy. Example: the critical hotel elevator scene in the beginning with the obnoxious kid & chubby (wouldn't be funny if dad wasn't chubby, right?). It should have been hilarious. Picture Cary Grant who was the master of these kinds of comic situations (see Bringing up Baby, for example) or Tom Hanks who cut his teeth in comedy. Cusack just acts peevish, period. I can only attribute the high ranking here to how inured viewers have become to highly derivative work from Hollywood.
In Defense of Food (2015)
Not much substance in this...
This is like one of those pseudo-infomercials they play Saturday nights on PBS (to pace out the golden oldies shows with Nick Clooney & Peter Marshall).
The few interesting points are not pursued to any depth, having mostly to do with the role of fiber enhancing the production of beneficial microbes that fight bad bacteria. OTW there's not much new here, same old stuff about how sodas & breakfast cereals are bad for you & vegetables are better than meat (but the only meat they show is always a big piece of something that looks like prime rib).
Also annoying & borderline dishonest (IMO) are the gratuitous plugs (after Pollan has knocked Nutritionism) by nutrition propagandists: One raving about converting school kids/borderline delinquents into salad eaters without ever showing them in the act of actually eating lettuce greens. (I wanted to see what kind of sugar & carb-drenched dressing they used to wash the raw veggies down & if not that then what they used.) The other was some genius from Cornell who revolutionized high school cafeteria eating habits by putting healthy foods like raw carrots first in the cafeteria line so the kids would load up on those. (I just wanted to see what was left on the trays at then end of the meal.)
Sorry if I seem cynical, but this is pretty lightweight stuff. Pollan seems like a likable guy & I'm sure he's very bright & has a lot of good ideas, but what come across here looks like a promo for a book. Maybe that's all it is.
Jessica Jones (2015)
Dropout superhero(ine) as victim? Really??
Where to start? Which is worse, the lead actress's acting...or the drill 'n pump sex interludes? Don't get me wrong, Kristen Ritter is very cute in a dorky kind of way but a tough, cynical boozing world-weary PI? With her single expression a constant dead-eyed adolescent pout? Reminds me why I was so happy when Walter White decided not to wake her up. Not that it's all her fault. I mean when a lush asks a clerk for the cheapest bourbon on the shelf & in the next scene she's drinking Wild Turkey, someone is pulling someone's leg. Or when Jessica is indulging in gymnastic sex with Luke how come he's always naked & she's mostly fully clothed. (The most likely answer is that he's in far better shape than she is.) Then there are all the obligatory PC tropes: Lesbians in power roles, put-upon African-American victims, kinky incestuous sort-of funny neighbors.
The overall plot comes off like a bad rip-off of The Following that had Kevin Bacon in the Jessica role. Boy, memories (& taste) do get shorter & shorter.
I resent this film
I resent its cynically shallow pessimism disguised as apple pie sentimentalism, its artistic laziness & its technical sloppiness. I resent its condescending attitude towards its audience. By virtue of its sheer popularity on IMDb it's a testament to the colossal, continuing dumbing down of movie audiences.
Where to start on specifics? The premise of a world-wide drought (a major blooper mentioned on this site) with tall green stalks of healthy looking corn. Okra grown as a major food crop (or was that supposed to be a joke)? Cut & paste interviews from a Ken Burns documentary abut the real dust bowl. The tiresome cheapie "homages" to Kubrick's 2001. The pedantic Astrophysics for Dummies lectures.The soap opera characters. The one dimensional acting. The utter predictability of every single plot twist. I'd get more specific, but then I'd be blacklisted for including spoilers.
You want to see imaginative mind-blowing science-fiction/fantasy film making? Let me make 2 suggestions: Stalker and Solaris. Both Russian films directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. Far lower budgets than Hollywood blockbusters but works of pure genius. Avoid the American version of Solaris. It's a travesty, though not quite as awful as Interstellar.
In summary the sheer numbing dullness & stupidity of Interstellar (& its concomitant popularity) managed to knock me into the worst state of depression I've experienced from a movie in years.
Mr. Robot (2015)
Pathetic derivative drivel
I'm a tech. Spent my whole career writing code in a dozen different computer languages. Worked as a one man bomb squad defusing worms & viruses for major Wall St. institutions. Writing algorithms was like a form of poetry for me. I love Silicon Valley. Think it's brilliant. Often I'll freeze the screen to savor the logic diagrams the guys have on their whiteboards.
If SV is post-grad, Mr. Robot barely makes 3rd grade. The writing is shallow & predicable. The performances are amateurish & devoid of all intelligence & humor. Why are the majority of the main characters portrayed as teenage pseudo-hipsters? Probably because that's MR's target audience.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Gangs of New York updated...
There was a real opportunity here to make a powerful statement as well as a highly entertaining film but it got completely thrown out by the director & author of the screenplay. Instead of a stinging indictment and/or satire of Americann greed & lust we get an over- the-top presentation of sex & drugs as male pre-pubescent fantasy. Everything the average 13 year-old imagines his future to be. Not surprising given that the director Martin Scorsese gives the majority of his films the same blockbuster treatment: everything short of singing & tap dancing. The only other director using a similar approach is Baz Luhrman. Interesting that Dicaprio starred in this movie & Gatsby in the same year, highly miscast in both. Casting him is understandable: he's likable & cute & popular with the mainstream movie-going public. Here he basically replicates his performance in Catch Me If You Can. I don't say he's a bad actor, just wrong for the part. Here he reminds me of Bob Hope in something like Monsieur Beaucaire: likable but clueless as to what makes the character he's playing tick. Years ago there was a TV series called Profit in which Adrian Pasdar perfectly depicted a similar character. Ah well, gotta go for the biggest-paying demographic, I guess.
Enough Said (2013)
Elaine & Tony meet kewt...
I was really looking forward to this film, mainly because I really liked director Holofcener's previous efforts, Walking & Talking & Please Give. However this to me came off as a trite, predictable sitcom episode guest-starring Dreyfus & Gandalfino doing their usual shticks. Hahaha.
Particularly irritating are Dreyfus's constant mugging & over-acting to every situation in every scene in order,I guess, to please to her fams. Gandolfino mostly shrugs his way through his part, looking bored & maybe even a little embarrassed & never upstaging his co- star but never being very funny, either.
This is like a contemporary vesion of those awful Bob Hope comedies they cranked out in the 60s & 70s when the star was far too old for his parts but his routines were still bankable with an ever-gullible public.
Poor Raymond Carver
Still hard to believe this film received an Academy Award for best script. It looks more to have been written by 4 very green high school students inexperienced in life or the art of writing. They seem to have spent a lot of their time sitting around calling up favorite movie tropes & clichés. These somehow got misinterpreted as Magic Realism by a gullible press assisted along no doubt by a prominent product placement of Borges' Labyrinth in Ed Norton's hand in one of many stagy scenes.
Also in evidence as teenage over-enthusiasm is an excessive amount of misogyny. The women in this film come off as conniving, manipulative, neurotic & self-obsessed in the extreme with Emma Stone as the new Martha Plimpton. I wonder if Lindsay Duncan was aware before signing on of the grotesquely abusive & wholly gratuitous verbal intro her character received in the bar scene. The male characters fare somewhat better only because their humiliation comes in having to appear semi-nude, easily laughed off in macho culture.
Actually I think what Inarittu & his band have pulled off is to deliberately make a shallow pretentious pseudo-Indy film satirizing their counterparts of the north to which a major part of Jollywood elite have bought in whole hog.
Dom Hemingway (2013)
Flat, stagy, overacted & underwritten...
Flat, stagy, overacted & underwritten, this thing plays out for the most part as a junior high school attempt at imitating Guy Ritchie. I mostly agree with the reviewer who said he expected Guy Ritchie & got Will Ferrell, except that Will Ferrell does manage to be funny which I don't think Jude Law succeeds at at all. There was really no plot to speak of, just a very tired & very old cliché about some stolen money but the whole sequence of events unrolls so choppily & the Dom Hemingway character is so overwrought & unsympathetic, you wind up rooting for the wrong people (or no one - just for the bloody film to end already).
Nothing redeeming in this thing. Saw it all better in Sexy Beast & that was no great shakes either but at least Kingsley can be truly menacing, not just pathetic like an overweight Jude Law.
Another lame derivative movie...
This film starts out with a lot of promise: the first fantasy sequence on the subway platform, tied in with the eHarmony bit (this movie sure has a lot of blatant product placements) was great, as were Stiller & Wiig's initial performances. But then the hammer falls with the overcooked overacted cliché scenes of office down-sizing, followed by some vague ill-defined vision quest after the nebulous Sean Penn character (a heroic photographer?) mixed in with nonsense about skateboarding (pandering to a very specific demographic I guess) & some kind of non-ending.
Biggest problem was the film-makers lost focus early on vis-a-vis what was fantasy & what was reality which is what The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is really about.
This made me think of a Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan movie that had the same theme but was a thousand times better: Joe versus the Volcano.