Reviews written by registered user

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84 reviews in total 
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Lawless (2012)
2 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Interesting Appalachian Bootlegging Tale, 4 September 2012

This was an interesting drama about the bootlegging culture of Franklin County, VA circa 1932. It was compelling the way bootlegging moonshine was such a mainstream activity in that area. Nearly everybody with the means and the desire could run a still. Sell the stuff to the local mobsters, who trucked it into the market place.

It was also an interesting contrast between good and evil. The bootleggers were the good guys. The G-man was the epitome of evil.

The main star was Shia LeBeouf as the narrator, the youngest brother of the Bondurant clan, longtime residents of the area who turned to bootlegging during prohibition. He basically helped out his older brothers, tending to the bootlegging business, working the production and distribution of the moonshine. His older brothers were played by Tom Hardy (Forris Bondurant), the muscle of the family, and Jason Clarke (Howard Bondurant). Hardy and Clarke are both British, but you could never tell from their accents.

Guy Pearce played the wicked and no good G-man, out to get his fair share of the loot, rather that protect citizens from the evils of liquor.

Maybe in some backhanded sort of way, this movie is a call to legalize drugs. The laws do far more damage and corruption to society than the product.

Killer Joe (2011)
4 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Wickedly Good Film Noir, 4 September 2012

I really like this movie. As excellent film noir thrillers go, with a good streak of black comedy, this movie rivalled "Double Indemnity". I suspect the reason for the delay may have been the producers tying themselves into knots to avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating. Could they have cut out some of the more violent scenes that were sex related? Probably so. Would the movie have been as good? Probably not. Anyway, the cast was perfect. Matthew McConaughey was great as the title character "Killer Joe", a rogue Texas lawman who works on the side as a contract killer. Emile Hirsh plays the hapless Chris, who owed some local drug dealers a lot of cash. His plan was to hire "Killer Joe" to commit murder to help him get out. He had plenty of help from family members, some of whom were working different angles. Thomas Haden Church was really excellent as Chris's father. Gina Gershon was wickedly great as his step-mom. It was all very clever and never was slow.

If you like some of David Lynch's better work ("Wild at Heart", or "Blue Velvet", you'll like this move.

The Fighter (2010/I)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Christian Bale is surreally good as crackhead former palooka, 2 January 2011

Mark Wahlberg keeps up to as the brother and aspiring boxer. Amy Adams was great as Mark's girlfriend, and the entire supporting cast was pitch perfect. How did they ever cast the family? One gets the impression they were real life & not actors. The mother and her brood of harpie daughters were the roughest bunch of females ever to appear in a movie that wasn't science fiction. You could definitely see how they were cut from the same mold as Bale's character but Wahlberg's character seemed too decent to be from that group of people.

You wonder who gets the nod for best actor in this film. Wahlberg or Bale? Bale's character might seem to be confined to a supporting actor nod but Bale made the film a great one and if it wins best picture (which seems like a good bet), Bale would seem to be inline to get most of the credit.

Anyway, a great picture, not to be missed. Quite possibly one of the best boxing films ever made. And Bale's performance was one for the ages.

4 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Great Action Thriller!, 14 November 2010

I really like this action film. It was very well directed and filmed, with great shots of the rugged hills and gritty old industrial towns of western PA, and the blue collar workers who live there. The screenplay was also very good, with no down time at all. Everything clicked from start to finish.

Denzel Washington was great in the lead role of Frank, a grizzled railroad veteran who only has a few weeks to go until his forced retirement. Chris Pine (better known as Capt. Kirk in the recent fabulous Star Trek remake) plays young hotshot Will, who is teamed up with Frank to make a routine train run.

While Frank and Will are doing their thing, a 39 car train heavily loaded with hazardous chemicals is left unmanned by Dewey, played by Ethan Supplee as pretty much the Randy character he played on "My Name is Earl". Dewey gets off the train to throw a switch (a big no-no) and left it in gear. The gear slips forward and off the train goes. The rest of the movie involves everyone in the great state of Pennsylania trying to stop it.

This is where Frank and Will work their magic.

I recommend this movie highly and don't think anyone who sees this will walk out disappointed.

Kick-Ass (2010)
13 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Kick Ass is Original, Visually Stunning, and Hilarious, 22 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The trailers for this film looked like it had a lot of potential and for once the film was everything hinted at in the trailer and more. The main plot of teenagers dressing up as super heroes with predictable consequences was well written, acted, and very funny. Aaron is a teenager who buys a wet suit and calls himself "Kick Ass". He fancies himself a crime fighter but most of the time ends up getting his own ass kicked.

What makes this movie special, unforgettable really, is the performance of Chloe Moretz, who plays the role of "Hit Girl", the daughter of "Big Daddy" (Nicholas Cage). Her introduction has to be one of the all time great action scenes ever. I'm not being overly generous. "Kick Ass" was trying to persuade a local drug dealer to stop harassing a girl "Kick Ass" was in love with, and when the drug dealer was about to dispatch "Kick Ass" to the afterlife, we are introduced to "Hit Girl", who proceeded to deal with the drug dealer and his room full of thugs, while the theme song from "The Banana Splits" blared. My god it was awesome.

I don't know about "Kick Ass" the character, but "Hit Girl" could start a franchise with this movie. The violence was over the top but in a fun comic book sort of way. Peter Parker's Spiderman can't hold a candle to "Hit Girl".

Anyway, the movie was way cool and totally worth checking out. I'll probably see it again.

Greenberg (2010)
4 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Oddly compelling saga of an unlikable neurotic, 15 April 2010

The trailer for the film made it seem as though it was a comedy but it wasn't. It was more a poignant drama on dysfunctional relationships and how people deal with them. The laughs were few and mostly unintentional.

The main character is 40 year old failure Roger Greenberg (played by Ben Stiller) who is staying at his wealthy brother's house in Los Angeles while the brother and his family are off on vacation in Vietnam. Roger is recovering from a "nervous breakdown" while living in NYC and is convalescing in LA. While there, he is introduced to Florence, his brother's Nanny, a pretty and sexually accommodating 26 year old. They have a quick sexual encounter at Florence's apartment and Roger promptly departs, ashamed of taking advantage of his brother's employee.

This is pretty much how the movie evolves. Roger gets together with old friends, gets into petty arguments over the silliest things, storms off in a huff, and than patches things over with lame and utterly self absorbed apologies.

Roger gets into repeated arguments with Florence, with his friend Ivan, and others in the movie, to the point where one has to wonder why anyone would be friends with this guy. Roger is irredeemably unpleasant, self absorbed, irrational, and not someone anyone in their right mind would want to be around.

If you can get past Roger's noxious personality, the movie is pretty good. I liked Greta Gerwig as Florence. She was the real star of the movie.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Dazzling Technical Wizardry and Excellent Story, 12 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've seen several 3D movies in the past few months, including "Avatar", and I rate this one the best of all. The story itself was clever and original, about a young Viking lad named Hiccup who marches to a different drummer in that he's not your typical blood thirsty Viking but more an artist. Part of a young Viking's training is learning how to master the art of dragon slaying. Hiccup has an inside track on learning how to deal with dragons, and becomes what would be known today as a "Dragon Whisperer" (my term, not the movie). He knows how to make them do whatever he commands. However, slaying dragons is not in his ken, and the film's main plot centers around how to reconcile Hiccups pacifist tendencies with the ethos of the Viking Warrior.

The 3D animation was absolutely exhilarating. I enjoyed this even more than "Avatar", if only because the story was good, unlike the tiresome boilerplate plot in "Avatar". I would recommend seeing this in 3D but lacking a 3D screen, go see it in 2D. It would still be excellent.

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Raunchy & Funny Time Travel Story, 9 April 2010

I wasn't expecting much when I saw this. It looked like it had some good possibilities and I wasn't disappointed. John Cusack was good as the straight man and Rob Cordry was his usual over the top manic type, but very funny. Cordry played a suicidal, oversexed, hard drinking friend.

Anyhow, the plot is as it sounds. The actors are transported, while in a hot tub in some type of ski resort, back to 1986. I wasn't aware folks dressed so loudly back then. Anyhow, there is plenty of sex, drugs, rock & roll, and high jinks. It's a plot done many times before, most successfully with "Back to the Future", which ironically was filmed in 1985, 1 year before the year these present day time travelers were taken to.

Time marches on, as they say. A good movie, very raunchy at times, with many cheap laughs. An entertaining diversion, nothing more.

10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Better than the Book!, 9 April 2010

That may sound like faint praise for what many cite as the most boring novel ever written. I suffered through the novel and had a difficult time keeping up with the characters, multiple plots, and backstories. Not so with the movie. I found I was able to keep up with the story and to take an interest in the characters, something I was unable to do when reading the novel.

Keep in mind this is a 20 part mini-series, 750 minutes in length. Don't plan on watching this over a weekend, unless you have some dexedrine. I was considering borrowing the 1956 version with Henry Fonda as Count Bezukhov and Audrey Hepburn as Natash Rostova but when I saw that it only had a tepid 6.7 IMDb score, I decided against it. I figured it was due to the short length of the film that voters didn't like it. How can you film "War and Peace" in 208 minutes? When I saw the 1972 version starring Anthony Hopkins as Bezukhov scored an impressive 9.4 on IMDb, I immediately placed a rental order on Blockbuster Online, & preceded to watch all 5 discs. It was an excellent experience.

Now for another crack at the novel. Maybe I'll begin to understand what all the critics were raving about.

38 out of 42 people found the following review useful:
Jeremiad of a Soon Lost Treasure, 25 March 2010

I've lived in the Philly area my entire life & followed the Barnes Foundation saga from the very beginning until its tawdry denouement and I don't understand some of the bizarre postings above.

No doubt the filmmakers had an agenda, which was that the Barnes should stay in Merion but the power brokers in Harrisburg and Philly colluded to drive it into the ground to force the move to the BF Parkway, which was entirely at odds with Dr. Barnes Last Will & Testament.

This was pretty convincingly driven home by the movie.

The collection isn't invitation only, you simply request a timed ticket on their website and you're in. The entrance fee is a reasonable $15 and the museum housing the collection is truly world class, on par with the Villa Borghese in Rome or the Frick in Manhatten, only better. It is truly one of a kind, one of the treasures of the art world.

It's true that the Barnes was mismanaged by Richard Glanton, the President of the Trustees, during the 1990's. His lawsuit against the Merion Neighbors Association was as disastrous as it was idiotic. But that was no excuse to move the whole operation to the Parkway. It seems it would have been quite easy to raise the money to keep it at Merion.

Who cares if the number of eyeballs weren't maximized? It was never intended to be run that way. And after Episcopal Academy moved away from it's previous City Line Ave location, an entrance from Route 1 (City Line Ave) could have easily been paved (Episcocal even offered to donate the land to make it happen, a fact oddly not mentioned in the film). This would have entirely eliminated the neighbors complaints. However, those talks went nowhere (did the power brokers intervene to squash that also?) Saint Joseph's University ended up buying the entire Episcopel property. I have no doubt SJU would have been more than willing to work something out with a treasure like the Barnes. Having a world renowned art institution as a neighbor would be woth that much, at least.

The question arises, "what would Barnes think of the move?". He despised the stuffy, Republican WASPs that ran Philadelphia and who looked down their noses at the upstart Barnes and his post impressionist art. He left control in his will to the downtrodden African Americans who ran Lincoln University, as a way to "stick it" to the powers that be. But now that those outsiders are actually the insiders, and helped engineer the move to the Parkway, would Barnes object? Who really knows.

In any event, I thought the documentary was great & recommend it highly.

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